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So as was seen on Tumblr I am somewhat excited for the new Doom game that Bethesda finally showed off to everyone on Sunday night this past week. Initial hype levels were huge, as this looked like the type of new Doom game I've wanted ever since Doom 3 turned into a pure survival horror affair which, in my opinion, shot it's longevity in the foot. However, I didn't want to do any writing on it at that point quite yet because it would've been nothing but slathering nerd joy and nostalgia stroking. In the days that have since passed, I have tempered by extreme enthusiasm for this coming title with differing opinions I've read online, which vary from useful and well considered ("The footage we were shown doesn't exactly show the fast game play we were promised and the enemy design we've seen gives me some concerns as to their art direction") to...not so useful and well considered ("WHY ISN'T THIS LITERALLY JUST THE OLD DOOM ENGINE FROM 1993 WITH 3D GRAPHICS FUCK YOU BETHESDA I HOPE YOU ALL GET THROWN OFF A CLIFF AND EXPLODE!") It hasn't done anything to dampen my spirits over all, but it did give me a few things to think about and discuss that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. I debated separating this in a "pros and cons" fashion, but it'd be a lot easier to organize my thoughts into individual categories so here we go!

A Good Call
I again emphasize that I feel really positive in regards to this new Doom game despite some of the reservations I'm about to lay out below. For starters, id has made a great decision by taking the focus away from the horror aspects and turning their attention on Doom as a an action game. Scares and horror can be a great first hook for a game, but the thing about scares and horror is that they only last so long. Even after the first scare moment, you're desensitizing the player to them by making them anticipate them, which to be fair if you're building atmosphere at all you were probably doing already. By the time the game is over the player will at best now remember where your scares are, and at worst will have already long grown tired of them via repetition. I mean come on, is there anyone that was actually still surprised by the whole "encounter room full of stuff, then monsters teleport in or emerge from newly opened monster closets when you pick the stuff up" routine by the end of Doom 3? The blade on scares only gets more dulled as time goes on until the experienced player stops reacting to them at all. You need something under those scares to keep players hooked. For Silent Hill it was deciphering the story and symbolic imagery. For Doom it was the combat that nailed it so god damn hard that people are still swearing by it over two decades later, and trying to appeal to the aspect that gave it so much longevity is the right choice.

Healthy Consideration
There is no modern trend in shooters more distinctly anti old school than an invisible health bar that regenerates after not taking damage for a sufficient length of time. That the new Doom will buck this trend was pretty much expected, but it didn't exactly go all the way back to making you scavenge for health packs. At times, slain enemies will drop health items, although the method by which the game determines whether or not an enemy will do so eludes me as of yet. On principle, I'm all for a method of regaining health that incentivizes fighting and killing enemies instead of hiding...but if this isn't handled carefully it might not be any better than regenerating health as far as giving you good reason to move and pick targets intelligently to avoid as much damage as possible. If the drops come too generously or predictably it will encourage sloppy play because what do you care when the next imp you drop is going to refill your health bar?
But...in the end I still kind of like the idea better than scavenging for health kits, what with all of its old style awkwardness of bringing the combat to a screeching halt in order to backtrack and look for them, and moving carefully around them lest you mistakenly use that 25 HP restoring health kit on 2 points of damage when you slightly graze it with an ankle. If they make enemies drop health in a sparing and unpredictable enough manner, it ought to work out fine to discourage recklessness and still keep things moving.

Punching Up
Weapons in an action game should be made aesthetically fun to shoot, and the original Doom games had this one down from the sounds each weapon made while firing and reloading to the way enemies reacted to getting shot. Doom 3 had it half right in that the weapons sounded awesome while handling them (dat shotgun noise when racking a round :D) but then kind of...didn't when firing them (dat shotgun popgun noise when you fire that round you just racked in D:). From what we've seen, the new Doom's weapons may well continue this tradition, since the shotgun and plasma rifles both came off feeling kind of weak. But, I'm not about to call things ruined forever just yet. The devs have a year to alter stuff like this in a future build, and aside from that, we saw a stage demo where they were probably more concerned with showing off executions than they were with demonstrating the most efficient use of weaponry.
I do have a more concrete point of concern though in that the shotgun seems to be the new starting weapon though. The shotgun in the original Doom is legendary people. No Doom game should have a shotgun occupying the same space as the lowly pistol that you only used because you hadn't found a chainsaw, chaingun, or berserker pack yet. If it's an issue of useless weapon pruning, then make a useful pistol instead of demoting the pump action perforator! Maybe something that doesn't do much raw damage, but has an increased chance to briefly stagger enemies when used on weak spots like knees or the head, emphasizing its nature as a last resort side arm by making it best used as an opener to a risky hands on execution!

Monster Mash
Whether by sound or sight, I guarantee you a seasoned Doom player will recognize what monster they're up against within a second of it spotting them, if not instantly. That is very important, because in a game that's throwing a bunch of different monsters at you really fast, your ability to identify and counter threats is what keeps you from having to reload another quicksave while your marine is busy laying down for his virtual dirt nap. Some of the new Doom enemy designs that were shown off Sunday night worry me a bit because they looked generic enough to blend together in the heat of the moment, and yet others were perfect in how instantly recognizable they were. Those green lights on the Mancubus really make it stand out, there's no way you'll miss the gangly Revenant, and even though we got a fraction of a second's look at the new Pink Demon that fraction of a second's look was enough. If the dev team can make every monster as easy to pick out as those, we'll be just fine.
On another note, I don't really hate the new Cyberdemon per se, but I agree with those that say it looks a bit too much like something out of a Blizzard game. I don't know how much they can feasibly change it at this point, but I'd prefer it be a bit thinner, taller, and go back to having the good ol' demonic goat legs.

Executive Branch
"How do we beat the Gears of War curb stomp?"
...
"What if we curb stomped them with their own foot instead?"
I really hope that exact conversation took place in an id brainstorming session because god damn it yes. The executions look great and I'm sure I'll enjoy performing them to see what other ridiculously gory shit I can do to hell's cannon fodder. I worry somewhat that they'll get a bit tiresome if I'm allowed to do them too often though, because it would be a shame if things got to a point where I would rather not curb stomp someone with their own foot out of sheer boredom with it. I also hope you're not invincible while performing these executions, as I could see chaining them together becoming easily exploitable. Being vulnerable while tearing a demon apart would also be a nice compliment to potentially increasing the amount of stuff it drops, making it a somewhat risky choice that you'd likely want to save for the final straggler or two if you could help it.
My one big issue with the executions is that full body shimmer on vulnerable enemies. I hate it. It won't keep from buying the game if it remains unchanged for release, but I still hate it. Reeling enemies could easily be picked out by animation alone, or, if they absolutely must have some kind of visible "kill this thing" cue, the marine is clearly wearing a fancy combat helmet. Instead of a full body shimmer why not have monsters that are down but not out get tagged with a symbol designed such that it is obviously an element of your helmet's HUD? There are more creative solutions than just "MAKE THE THING FLASH!"

Original Nightmares
"Is that wall made of skin? What the hell kind of creature has a spine that long? Is that thing pulsing? Is it just my eyes fucking with me or is that impaled guy still alive and twitching? What purpose does this beating heart on the altar serve? Where did all this blood come from? Is this scrolling wall behind a cage made entirely of stretched faces?"
I think it wouldn't be a stretch to say that some of the most hellish looking levels of Doom were my first taste of nightmare architecture. They were made to facilitate gameplay, not serve any practical purpose, so you wound up having layouts that were complete nonsense which only added to the unnerving quality of the scenery. Without a doubt, the taste I formed for labyrinthine grotesquery playing Doom as a kid lead to my affinity for surreal horror, an itch that was later scratched by a world of blood, rust, and darkness. We've only seen a single part of two levels that might not even make it to the final game, but whatever they do, I hope it escalates to some truly horrific settings that make their executions look tame in comparison, and I hope they're that old fashioned style of non-linear gameplay-centric arrangement which hasn't been seen in quite a while.
As for the yellow filter that has already been pointed out and derided…yeah I could definitely live without it just to let the colors of the environment pop a bit more. Then again, the first foundry looking level had molten hot steel being poured everywhere, and the hell level had a sky overcast with what I can reasonably assume was clouds of sulfur, so the filter in those settings does at least make a bit of sense…but yeah, still want it gone. Minor issue overall though, not a deal breaker for me.
Edit: Apparently those weren’t filters so much as they were dynamic lighting from objects in the level and the environment. As has been pointed out, areas in the first foundry level away from the molten metal do not have the ‘filter’, and there are flashes of lightning in the hell level that overpower the ambient yellow lighting from the sulfuric overcast!

Speed is a Hell of a Drug
The marine in new Doom clearly moves faster and more capably than most recent modern FPS characters, though not to the speed of a pro Quake 3 death match as I've been made to believe some would prefer. I must have been playing Doom differently than them because I never remember pin point aerial maneuvering at mach speed being necessary to progress through the levels. Plenty of movement was needed, yeah, but it wasn't some insane cirque du soleil of death at hyper speed. Are people basing their opinion on the new Doom being too slow on a comparison to the original games or to the crazy modded levels they've played over the years? Furthermore, are they making the assumption that the stage demo meant to show off the graphics and executions is as fast as it gets?
Oh, and then there's the weapon wheel that slows time while the player makes a decision. This never struck me as anything but an optional feature primarily for console players, and it's already been confirmed that players can swap weapons in real time sans weapon wheel at the press of a button just like in the old days if they wish.

In Conclusion
I am pretty god damn stoked to play this game when it comes out next year. The team behind it clearly has the right idea and little touches like imitating bits of scenery from the original games, using the old door noises, and the Mancubus falling apart just like the old Doom 2 death animation really go a long way to win me over. Will it supplant the originals? Fuck no, nothing will do that. It is literally impossible to outdo over twenty years of memories formed around one of the most influential games of all time and I don't expect that. All I want is a fun game that maintains the spirit of the original while bucking most of the modern sensibilities that have contributed to so many recent shooters feeling like nothing but slightly interactive action flicks, and from the look of things so far I'll be getting what I want out of it.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: sexual themes, violence/gore and strong language)
"On a scale of one to ten, do I have to stop organizing the library and do this?" Twilight asked as she tiredly looked down into her early, early, early morning cup of tea courtesy of her assistant.

"Twilight, you promised Applejack you'd help her out on the farm today. Besides, you've been spending all your spare time trying out arrangement after arrangement for the library to see which one is most efficient. It was great to see you happy for the first couple days but after that it just started getting weird," Spike answered as he pushed the tea cart back into the kitchen.

------{STATIC}------

Twilight bit her lip in sheer delight as she slowly slid the drawer of index cards back into the library's brand new catalog file, relishing in the smell of brand new print and the sound the card's small bit of momentum made as they shifted in their prim and proper arrangement within. She let out a soft shudder and then turned to resume her work only to see a little baby dragon who had just entered the room carrying bags of groceries, looking at her in sheer confusion and causing her to flush beet red before hastily claiming that the cat they both knew she didn't have was on fire then fleeing through another door.

------{STATIC}------

"But it's so inefficient and time consuming to walk all the way to the farm, spend otherwise productive hours doing menial labor, and then walking all the way back to here to only then start doing what I wanted to do in the first place!" Twilight countered as she leaned to the side in her seat to look into the nearby kitchen where Spike was washing dishes.

"Listen, I know you've got over a decade on me and all, but in my many attempts at having a life outside of helping you do stuff, the first thing I learned was that one of the basics of making and keeping friends is that you periodically stop doing what you want to do and start doing what somepony else wants to do," the little dragon called back over the sound of water rushing in the sink shortly before shutting it off.

"There has got to be a better way to do it though, I mean, we owe every advance that we've made as a species to somepony thinking that about various things, so why does friendship have to be the exception?" Twilight pondered while Spike stood in the kitchen doorway drying his claws off with a small towel. "Wait...wait, what if there was a big book, and everypony got a page to their own. They could put pictures of their face in the book, and then write a short description of themselves and list their interests for any interested pony to read. Then other ponies could use the blank space of that page to write comments to that pony who could then read them later at their convenience! We could even have a field to fill out when you wish to officially declare yourself a friend of somepony, and even keep a track of how many friends each pony has so everypony has a numerical metric of their social worthiness!"

...

"Twilight that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

-------{STATIC}------

Ruined Forever: Season One
Simple Math

------{STATIC}------

"Thanks again for helpin' me harvest all these here apples Twi, ah know ya got a lot of studyin' to do, so it means a lot to me for ya to take time out of your schedule," Applejack told Twilight appreciatively, looking back at her over her shoulder as they made their way back to the farm laden with filled apple baskets.

"To be honest, I was just going to levitate them out of the trees and into the baskets all at once, but then you started talking about your brother wearing mare's undergarments. Speaking of which, what does Granny Smith's girdle look like exactly?" Twilight inquired with quite the bit of interest.

"Uh...well uh, it's just a plain white girdle...ah guess?" Applejack replied uncertainly with raised eyebrow.

"That's it? You don't have anything like a black lacy garter belt or panties for er...maximum humiliation when he loses the bet?" she asked, absolutely saturated with innocence.

"Ah sure as hay don't have any of those things, and if Granny Smith does, ah'd really rather not know about it."

"Well it's a good thing you have a friend with spare government money to buy some for you! He'll uh...never cross you again when he has to walk down Stirrup Street wearing those things, bringing emphasis to those powerful haunches of his, and making it impossible not to notice the bulge of his-"

"Ah don't think ah'm comfortable havin' this conversation anymore sugarcube," Applejack cut her off with a deadpan stare shortly before Spike ate a particularly lovely looking apple in one bite. "Spike, don't go eatin' mah merchandise, we gotta sell those to keep a roof over our heads!"

"Oh, sorry, I figured one wouldn't hurt and all, do you want it back?" Spike asked in reply.

"Well obviously not, just don't go doin' that again ya hear?"

"Right!" Spike nodded before his cheeks puffed out.

"Ah already said I don't want it back!"

The baby dragon belched up a gout of green flame that formed into a neatly rolled up letter complete with royal seal that Twilight grabbed hold of with her magic. "Letter from the princess actually," the unicorn corrected her.

"What the...ya get mail through Spike?" Applejack asked incredulously.

"Uh...yeah? It's faster than regular mail and such,."

"Ah could guess that much just, why Spike? Ain't like he's goin' to be around at all times, it seems like it'd be more practical to just zap a letter right to ya and then back to the Princess is all. Can't you do that?"

"..." Twilight frowned.

"Ah mean, only askin' and all, ah don't know much about magic so I don't really know what ya-"

"I can't yet okay?" Twilight replied sourly as she fiddled with the seal on the message. "Direct to entity spells take a level of concentration and sheer magic power I can't manage yet, so the princess enchanted Spike as a magical courier conduit because dragon fire inherently has very powerful magic in it. Now drop it, you're still on thin ice after almost making me piss myself in terror at that cliff," she elaborated before getting the note unrolled and reading it.

Hear ye hear ye, Her Grand Royal Highness is blah blah Grand Galloping Gala blah blah-

"For buck's sake I hate reading official documents, they take an essay to make two sentence's worth of a point like some school report with an arbitrary word count requirement," she sighed as her eyes wandered down the page trying to pick out the relevant information. "Okay finally!"

-extends an invitation to Twilight Sparkle plus one guest.

In a bout of good timing, Spike let loose another burst of flame to materialize a pair of golden tickets that he grabbed from the air.

"The Grand Gallopin' Gala?!" Applejack gasped in amazement as she hopped closer and looked at the note and tickets eagerly. "That's only the most high profile event in all of Canterlot! Heck, never mind Canterlot, all of Equestria!"

"I know! And I know exactly who I'm taking with me!" Twilight replied with a big smile and twinkle in her eye.

------{STATIC}------

"Gala?" Twilight asked with that same smile and big sparkling eyes.

"Nnnope," Big Mac answered as he set a large hay bale on a wagon.

------{STATIC}------

"Please?" Twilight asked again, her mood glowing a bit less brightly.

"Nnnope," Big Mac repeated, voice muffled by the hammer in his mouth as he nailed a loose plank on the side of the barn back into place.

------{STATIC}------

"Pleeeeeeaaaaaaase?" Twilight asked a third time, now seated with raised forelegs pressed together pleadingly.

"Nnnope," Big Mac declined again as he helped Applebloom up a tree to retrieve the ball that had accidentally gotten stuck in its branches.

------{STATIC}------

"GO WITH ME TO THE GALA OR I TEAR YOUR SISTER LIMB FROM LIMB!" Twilight threatened with a magically altered demonic voice as Applejack levitated off the ground in the grip of her aura.

"Twilight!" the farm mare scolded with a cross glare.

"Sorry," she apologized sheepishly before setting her down.

------{STATIC}------

Twilight walked along with Applejack through the orchard hanging her head in defeat with the two tickets in front of her. "I don't suppose you'd want to go, Spike?"

"Heck no, every 'party' in Canterlot is a bunch of politicians and business ponies talking about stuff I couldn't care less about, I can only imagine the Grand Galloping Gala will be that times ten or so," Spike dismissed with a wave of his claw.

"Well if Spike won't go, ah sure will," Applejack offered. "Ah could sell mah wares to them business ponies he was talkin' about and make a whole bundle of bits that ah'd use to improve mah family's life here at the farm."

"Um, I'm not one hundred percent sure your business plan is going to pan out in that particular market, but you're sure welcome to try," Twilight replied as one of the tickets started floating toward Applejack. She was then slammed into the ground as a consequence of interrupting gravity's attempt to pull an unconscious rainbow maned pegasus mare down to the earth.

"Wha...what the...where the hay am I?" Rainbow Dash groaned as she blinked against the sunlight and looked around in confusion.

Twilight pulled her head out of the dirt and spat some of it out. "You know, I'd be angrier, but the last time this happened it left a crater, so this is actually huge progress."

"Seriously, where am I? The last thing I remember is Celestia sentencing Twilight," she asked as she weakly rolled off the purple unicorn.

"Ya'll started actin' like a dopey idiot when 'the real good stuff', as Twilight put it, from that flower you ate kicked in," Applejack replied as she helped Twilight back to her hooves with a grunt.

"Yes, the active ingredient in Gaudius Tripiscus causes hallucinations until the body breaks it all down into simpler components, which creates a small gap where nothing's the matter and everypony might think it's worn off. But then, once those simpler components actually kick in, it causes a conscious dreamlike euphoric state and more hallucinations, though thanks to the drug induced mood they're always pleasant," Twilight elucidated at length.

"Fluttershy offered to take care of ya, but Angel Bunny was havin' a bit too much fun with the situation."

------{STATIC}------

"C'mere you little pancake fairy, I'm gonna catch you and get exactly seventeen wishes!" Rainbow Dash lilted with dilated pupils, her dumbly smiling visage focused on a yellow frisbee that Angel Bunny was waving back and forth over his head with a devilish smirk. He then tossed it into the nearby roaring fireplace, prompting the cyan mare to pursue it with oblivious gusto. The only thing that kept her from being seared was the yellow pegasus that tackled her out of the air.

------{STATIC}------

"So then we figured it'd be better if ya stayed here since we don't have a bunch a' critters to look after, but, uh..."

------{STATIC}------

The twinkle eyed pegasus chewed away happily at the red bow in her mouth as though it were the single greatest thing anypony had ever had the miraculous fortune to chew. Meanwhile the filly wearing that same bow in her mane sat there on her chair, glowering accusingly at her older sister.

"Look, Applebloom, she ain't right, just take that bow off and get another from the closet."

"Ah did! Twice! She stopped chewin' the one ah took off and started chewin' the one ah put on, both times!" she retorted while holding her hooves up for emphasis.

------{STATIC}------

"After that we let ya loose outside and just tried keepin' an eye on ya, and ah guess this tree must've looked like somethin' really nice to ya at the time because you spent half a day snuggling against it and then a full day and a half sleepin' in it," Applejack concluded, prompting Rainbow Dash to jump up from the ground.

"Wait, what? How long was I out of it exactly?!" she asked in alarm.

"'Bout a week."

"What?!" Rainbow exclaimed, mane and tail alike going straight out in shock for a moment before she turned and raised her wings in preparation to take off. "I have to go see my boss and beg her to not fire m-holy shit tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala!" She abandoned her flight ready stance and gazed down at the tickets in wonderment, her professional crisis forgotten in the space of half a second. "Where did you get these?!"

"The princess just sent them to me. I was going to take Big Mac but he wasn't interested, and neither was Spike, so now Applejack is coming with me to try and make a lot of sales," Twilight answered before getting a face full of interrupting pegasus.

"Let me stop you right there Twilight. Applejack was probably all like 'blah blah family blah blah business blah' but let me tell you the actual reality of the situation. The Wonderbolts, the Wonder-bucking-bolts, perform at the Gala every year. If you give me that ticket instead of her, I will rush past security during the show, and attempt to grab all the attention away from the highly trained pegasi that are performing and show off my moves! They will in no way be irritated and will in fact be so impressed at my prowess, and grateful that I opened their eyes to my abilities, that they will immediately make me a Wonderbolt and give me several promotions, fulfilling my dream!" she explained energetically.

"Sugarcube how many times do ah gotta tell ya that ain't what's gonna happen?"  Applejack replied as she stepped forward to stand next to her.

"Yeah I have to go with Applejack here, her plan at least rests in the relative realm of possibili-"

"Oh come on Twilight! She's going to take all that money and just fix a barn roof that's going to get knocked down a week later, buy a new plow that Big Mac doesn't even need, and Granny Smith a new hip she won't get to use for long anyway because let's face it she is on her way out in a bucking hurry!"

"Hey!" the workhorse retorted with indignation.

"You give me that ticket, the world gets the best Wonderbolt that ever has been or will be, and gets to enjoy that legacy forever! You can do something awesome for the whole world forever Twilight!"

"Because clearly getting bludgeoned to near death trying to save the world last week was insufficient," the unicorn replied with a roll of the eyes.

"Fine, we'll do this Cloudsdale style!" Rainbow Dash turned and pointed a challenging hoof at the orange farm mare. "You, me, hoof wrestling, and the winner gets the ticket!"

"Uh...seriously?" Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow, eyes briefly glancing down to assess the weather pony's build.

"Seriously! Let's go!" Rainbow Dash reaffirmed as she planted an elbow on a nearby stump.

"Ah'm not sure Rainbow, ah mean, you're a pegasus. Ya'll are built for speed, not strength. Hoof wrestlin' an earth pony might be dangerous for ya," the orange mare concernedly replied.

The weather pony gave her a flat stare of obvious offense. "Wow Applejack, I didn't pick you for a coward or a racist."

"You know dang well ah ain't either!" Applejack glowered.

Rainbow Dash sighed, deciding to give her the benefit of the doubt. "Look AJ, I'm as athletic as they come, I'll be fine."

Applejack strode over to the other side of the stump, having decided to do the same in turn. "Alright, ah guess you'd know your limits better'n ah would," she acquiesced as she took firm hold of the blue hoof being offered.

"Great, on three! One! Two! Three!"

------{STATIC}------

"So you, a pegasus, tried to hoof wrestle an earth pony, and not just any earth pony, but the one who  is well known to be the strongest mare in town," the doctor stallion with a limp and the outline of a house on his flank summed up as he examined her chart.

"Yeah, what about it?" Rainbow Dash growled from her spot on the examination table with a splint on her broken foreleg.

"Wow. That was dumb," he remarked glibly as he flipped to another page of information.

"Your bedside manner could really use some work."

"So could your right radius bone but you don't see me holding it against you."

------{STATIC}------

"That got weird," Twilight observed as she and Spike strolled through town. "I'm just thankful Applejack was too preoccupied with setting Rainbow Dash's leg to notice us sneak away."

"That's not going to keep this thing from escalating though, one of them is probably going to tell the others," the little dragon observed.

"Perhaps, but I'm hoping they want the ticket enough to not tell anypony else about it, and if nothing else it'll buy me time to sort this out before something stupid happens and everypony finds out," Twilight replied before something stupid happened in the form of a pink blur that shot out of Sugarcube Corner for no apparent reason and tackled Spike to the ground, causing the tickets to fly into the air and start drifting down.

"Happy Unexpected Tackle Day!" Pinkie Pie greeted the baby dragon beneath her.

"Uh...thanks?"

"Pinkie there is no way that is a holiday in even the most obscure of-" she began before being unexpectedly tackled, the two mares landing right next to the tickets.

"And one for you-OHMYGOSHARETHOSETICKETSTOTHEGRANDGALLOPINGGALA?!" Pinkie exclaimed as her twinkling eyes practically bugged out of her head.

"Crap."

"The Gala is the best thing ever, the greatest party ever thrown by the richest ponies ever that I assume looks exactly like the parties I always throw!"

"Uh, it's not-"

"Pinkie Pie what are you going on bothering Twilight abou-good heavens are these what I think they are?!" the suddenly present white unicorn asked in excitement.

"Crap."

"Twilight!" Rarity said while latching onto her fellow unicorn. "Please please please tell me you can spare one of those tickets! It's always been my dream to be the single most fabulous unicorn in all of Canterlot and then catch the eye of the Princess' handsome, suave, ravishing, muscular, capable, riiiiiiiiich nephew!"

"...Prince Blueblood?"

"Yes! The most wonderful and eligible stallion in all of Canter-what's so funny Twilight?" she asked after her friend had collapsed to the ground, helplessly at the mercy of the laughing fit that had suddenly erupted from her.

"AAHAHAHAHAHANOTHINGAHAHAHAHA!" she managed to choke out, her outburst lasting a few more moments before she was left lying on the ground catching her breath and wiping a tear from her eye. "Oh wow...okay, where are the-"

Her eyes looked down to see not tickets, but rabbit tracks that lead straight to a rabbit holding two tickets making a beeline for a yellow pegasus mare.

"CRAAAAAAP."

"Um, Twilight? I'm sorry to intrude but, are these tickets to the Grand Galloping Gal-"

"Fine, let me hear your reason for going then Fluttershy," Twilight interrupted, not bothering to get up as her nightmare continued.

"Oh, well, there's a garden around where the Gala is held, and it's filled with so many wonderful plants that I've always wanted to see, and so many varied and exotic creatures I've always wanted to meet since I heard of the garden as a filly," she elaborated with a gentle smile and about as much enthusiasm as it appeared the gentle mare was capable.

"So you want to take my ticket to the Gala so that you can not go to the Gala?!" Rainbow Dash shouted from her spot somewhat precariously balanced on a rooftop beam, her right foreleg in a sling and cast.

"Oh no no no no no," Twilight lamented as she hid her face behind her hooves while her other pegasus friend descended to ground level, causing Fluttershy to shrink away a bit.

"Hey, at least she'd be taking mah ticket for somethin' plausible, unlike ya'll!" Applejack chimed in as she stopped Fluttershy from retreating further with a hoof on her shoulder.

"Buck my liiiiiiife," the purple unicorn groaned as the farm mare joined the fray.

"Yeah right Applejack, like the fancy ponies in Canterlot are going to want to buy your pastries instead of whatever fancy horse dove rays they have for free!" Rainbow Dash retorted.

"Oh right and the Wonderbolts are just gonna give ya a buckin' flight suit if ya do a few tricks in front of 'em!" Applejack shot back.

"Well that's a relief, here I had been worried you two would have some kind of claim on my ticket to true love, but here you'd both been planning complete nonsense all this time. And Rainbow Dash, if you're going to aspire to attend an event as high brow as the Grand Galloping Gala you should at least start with learning how to pronounce hors-d'oeuvres!" Rarity interjected as Fluttershy hid behind Angel Bunny, the rabbit glancing behind himself and giving a resigned sigh.

"SOMETHING SOMETHING OATMEAL CRAZY!" Pinkie Pie shouted helpfully while waving her forelegs around wildly.

"Now hang on a minute ya'll, these are Twilight's tickets to do with as she pleases, and ain't no amount of bickerin' between us is gonna change that," Applejack pointed out reasonably. "So who'll get the extra ticket Twilight?"

The purple mare, still lying on the ground, looked up at the hopeful faces of all five friends focused squarely upon her and for some reason felt even more out of sorts than she had when facing down a crazed dark goddess of the night. Fortunately, she was a pony of great intellect and steadfast determination, knowing exactly what to do in order to resolve the sticky situation as she got back to her hooves with a resolute expression on her face.

------{STATIC}------

"All things considered I handled that one pretty well," Twilight mused as she examined the diner's menu.

"Since when is casting an illegal area of effect time stopping spell and running away considered handling something well? Isn't that a felony?" Spike asked, having already left his menu on the table after picking what he wanted.

"First off, when you're the apprentice of a princess and the savior of the world, felonies only get you a slap on the wrist. Secondly, it wasn't technically a felony, because I'd modified the spell to merely slow down time and progressively wear off bit by bit, which is only a misdemeanor and something a mare of my accomplished status won't be bothered with."

------{STATIC}------

"Wwwwwwhhhhheeeeeeeeeennnn diiiiiiiid Twiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiight geeeeeeeet sooooooooo ffffffaaaaaaassssssst?" Rarity asked as she walked along very, very, very, very slowly, her movement almost imperceptible and her voice pitched much lower just like everypony else from whom Twilight had just escaped.

"Jjjjjjjuuuuuuuuussssssst keeeeeeeeeeeep gooooooooiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnng thhhhhhhiiiiiissssssss waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, wwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeee'llllllllllll ffffffiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnd hhhhhhhheeeeeeerrrrrrrrrr," Rainbow Dash replied as her wings defied physics by keeping her aloft despite a flap rate of one per five minutes.

"Hhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeey I jjjjjuuuuuuuussssssst rrrrreeeeeeeemmmmmeeeeeemmmmmbeeeeeeerrrrrreeeeeeed iiiiiiiiit'sssssss Uuuuuuuuneeeeeeeexpeeeeeeecteeeeeeeed Taaaaaaaacklllllllle Daaaaaaaaaaaay!" Pinkie Pie recalled cheerfully before starting to launch herself into the air toward her four friends at a ridiculously glacial pace.

"Piiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnkiiiiiiieeeeeee nnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooo!" the four ponies exclaimed as they tried their best to slowly alter course in a futile attempt to avoid the unexpected pink colored tackling that was imminently going to strike them sometime that week maybe.

------{STATIC}------

"So what are you planning to do after it wears off then?" Spike asked.

"If you're so worried, then tell me what would you do." Twilight tossed the question back at him pointedly.

"Me? Why me?"

"Because you're not the one under pressure here Spike! I've suddenly got way too much friend, way too little ticket, and apparently not enough sense to keep from caring to the point of irrationality. I need objective outside input on this," she clarified.

"Fair enough. Just ask Celestia for more tick-"

"No no no, I can't possibly do that Spike! Do you have any idea how many strings she had to pull to get two tickets to the most grandiose and famous event in all of Equestria?"

------{STATIC}------

"I'll expect two tickets to the Gala waiting on the table in my private chambers when I return from the day's legislative session," Celestia said in passing to an assistant.

"Only two, your highness?" he replied, prompting her to stop and look thoughtful for half a moment.

"You're right, I've run out of napkins. Make it twenty."

------{STATIC}------

"If I asked for more tickets I would come across as the most ungrateful that I could possibly come across!" Twilight expounded.

"Alright, then why not pick Applejack? She has the only reason to go that isn't either flat out incorrect or entirely self centered. The Apples would really benefit from any business she can-"

"No, it's not that simple Spike!" Twilight interrupted again. "It doesn't matter if one of my friends has a measurably better reason than the others, choosing them will still make everypony feel like I'm choosing favorites and leave everypony else sad that their one chance at their stupid dreams is gone forever and it's all my faultand why do I care?!" she growled at herself in exasperation before letting her head drop to the mushroom table at which they were seated.

"Well if you want to resolve things without showing any bias, and don't care how well any of their motivations hold up under scrutiny, just have them pull straws, or pick names out of a hat, something that will pick one of them at complete random and-"

"No, that won't work either! I'll still have four friends with broken dreams and feel bad about it!" she interrupted a third time, now glaring at him for not solving her problem.

"Why did you even ask me, or anypony for that matter, if all you're going to do is shoot down every practical suggestion just because they don't accomplish the impossible by making things perfect while staying within your personal comfort zone? How does that even make any sense?" Spike inquired in earnest, scratching the back of his head in puzzlement.

Twilight let out another growl and got to her hooves in a huff, slapping her menu down on the table and fuming at him. "You just don't get it Spike! You don't get it at all!" she huffed before storming off and leaving him to blink in confusion in his seat.

...

"You're awful!" a nearby mare scolded the baby dragon.

MEN
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE DID!


------{STATIC}------

"Stupid tickets, stupid princess, stupid friends, stupid Spike telling me to leave the library today and not offering to ask the princess for me," Twilight mumbled angrily to herself as she paced back and forth along the road. She'd been looking forward to lunch but one does not simply return after storming off, sandwich be damned! It was only the latest bit in this string of dilemmas that hung over her head like a dark cloud that rained on everything except for her because there was a hole directly overhead that let the warm sun shine down on her. "Wait, what?" She looked up to see a familiar silhouette peering through the gap in the non-metaphorical clouds above.

"Hey there super awesome friend who is enjoying the awesome sunshine because her awesome friend is awesome to her!" Rainbow Dash greeted her.

"Oh goddess damn it Rainbow Dash how are you here right now? Even at a dead gallop it should've taken you all at least another two hours to make it outside of that spell circle!"

"You'll want to ask Pinkie Pie about that one."

------{STATIC}------

"-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-" the four mares continued to exclaim very slowly as they made incremental but futile progress in getting out of the pink flurry inching toward them.

"Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-okay this joke's run its course, PEW!" Pinkie said in normal time before she rocketed into her friends and tackled them out of the circle nigh instantaneously because reasons.

------{STATIC}------

"What...how...she's...but-"

"So then I was just going around, doing my thing when I spotted this totally legal, very much scheduled, entirely weather department policy abiding storm gathering and figured I'd give the best friend I've ever had a hoof and keep her from getting rained on while thinking nothing of any ticket related business at all!" Rainbow explained.

"You put this storm together illegally just now didn't you?" Twilight asked as the ponies in the street continued running for cover.

"Yep-I MEAN damn it!" she cursed, starting to bring a hoof to her forehead but then catching herself just in time to avoid falling on her face. "C'mon Twilight give me some credit here, do you know how hard it is to make a storm this big with one foreleg?! Doctor Residence said I shouldn't even be flying with my leg like this!"

"Hey, I didn't make you put a storm together, and choosing to rain on everypony else but me isn't going to score you any points. Now close that hole and get the buck out of here before somepony thinks I'm your accomplice!" Twilight shouted up at her.

"Fine..." the weather pony groaned before moving to pull the hole in the clouds shut, wincing a bit from the pain in her broken leg.

"Wait, move the stor-" Twilight didn't get to finish her sentence before the sunshine went dark and she was suddenly soaked to the bone in rain water, provoking another small growl from her throat.

"Hey, they brought your sandwich out, but it's all soggy now," Spike said as he walked up with a plate in hand, his scaled self apathetic to the downpour.

Twilight growled again a bit louder.

"Also, I took a few bites out of it while waiting for my hay fries!" Spike added.

Twilight closed her eyes tightly and growled quite loudly.

"Twilight! It's raining!" Rarity pointed out while safely dry beneath her parasol.

"WELL NO SHIT," the purple unicorn turned on her viciously.

------{STATIC}------

"Alright show me what bribe you're going to attempt so I can turn it down and get this over with," Twilight said as she and Spike stepped out of the rain into the boutique.

"Moi? Bribe? Why, I'd never do such a thing Twilight," Rarity denied as she levitated a towel over to her friend. "I simply saw you outside in the rain and thought to invite you in to dry off."

"And that's very nice of you," Twilight replied as she started toweling herself off. "But I have a hard time believing that y-"

"But while you're here you may as well get a first look at these fabulous matching formal event saddles I made for the both of us entirely on a whim!" the fashionista interrupted while whisking her fellow unicorn over to a couple of dress forms bearing the garments in question.

"-and there it is," Twilight noted with a sigh.

"I just figured since we unicorns need to stick together, I might as well make the two of us a matching ensemble to show everypony else that we are just the best of friends!" Rarity purred as she moved to nuzzle her head against Twilight's neck. Things became slightly less adorable when they both heard the sound of something pointy piercing flesh, then went wide eyed as a rather alarming amount of blood started flowing down Twilight's neck.

------{STATIC}------

"I still don't know why I had to burn the wound shut and put you through even more pain instead of just using a tourniquet," Spike inquired while looking up at the bandaged tied around the unicorn mare's throat.

"A tourniquet on my neck?" she reminded him.

"Oh...oh right, yeah good call," he nodded in understanding.

"I can't believe Rarity was trying to sacrifice herself to save me last week, and now she just tried murdering me for a ticket!" Twilight bristled as she contemplated the extent to which that tube of pain relief ointment she'd used on her seared puncture wound had been filled with lies.

"Aw c'mon Twilight, I bet she was just excited about the ticket and forgot about her horn. No way was she trying to murder you!"

------{STATIC}------

Rarity, having just finished cleaning the blood off of her horn, sat down at her table, took a nice relaxing sip of water, and then levitated a quill to cross 'accidental' murder off her list of ideas to get herself to the Grand Galloping Gala.

------{STATIC}------

"I'm a unicorn too Spike, and I know from experience that a unicorn never just forgets their horn," she warned him with narrowed eyes.

"Well lookie there, just the mare ah was lookin' for!" Applejack greeted the two with a smile as she approached them pulling a cart laden with all manner of baked apple related goods. "Ah had these here spare pastries after cookin' up a batch and figured ya could use an entire cart full of them tasty pastries ya kept eatin' last week until ya could barely walk for how terribly, nauseatingly, traumatically stuffed ya were!"

Twilight covered her mouth to hold back a heave that almost made it past her throat and then galloped away.

"Huh...probably could have thought that bribe through a bit better now that ya mention it," Applejack pondered as she looked back at her trove of triggering treats.

------{STATIC}------

"Library is safety, library is love, library is Twilight being alone with nopony trying to get tickets," Twilight muttered to herself as she opened the door to Golden Oak Library and then stood there in abject horror.

"Oh, Twilight, um, I thought maybe you'd appreciate having the library tidied up a bit, so I got my wonderful animal friends to help," Fluttershy explained as she hovered in place holding a sponge next to one of the shelves, slowly turning upside down as the beating of her wings steadily grew out of synch.

The mare she was supposedly doing a favor continued gawking at the assortment of paw prints, bits of trailed in dirt, discarded birdseed, shed hair, molted feathers, occasional droppings, knocked over books, and scratched book bindings before her. It looked roughly as one would expect a library to look when a menagerie of assorted small woodland creatures had been allowed inside.

"Aren't they wonderful? They even re-alphabetized the shelves for you!"

Twilight's eyelid twitched once.

------{STATIC}------

A few birds fled from their spots on the library branches in fright from the bellow of anger within. A magical aura then caused the door to fly open preceding a glut of critters surrounding a terrified yellow pegasus mare being hurled out at the speed of rage.

"AND STAY THE BUCK OUT!" Twilight shouted after them, making the mistake of sticking her head out the door.

"GET HER!" Pinkie commanded with a point of her hoof.

"Wha-" Twilight began before an assortment of hooves grabbed her and then tossed her into the air. "What is happening?!" she managed to cry out, flailing her hooves in confusion before gravity pulled her back down.

"Twilight is my bestest friend! Whoopie! Whoopie!" Pinkie sang as the gathered crowd of stallions and mares caught the lyrically mentioned unicorn and tossed her into the air again.

"Oh my god," she lamented while doing a commendable job applying hoof to face in mid air.

"She's the cutest, smartest, all around best pony, pony!"

"Well that's true enough," Twilight deadpanned as she was tossed a third time.

"This party'll get that ticket to the Gala for me, for me!"

"Nope," she disagreed with a flying glare that turned into a falling glare.

"And if this won't work we'll have a super fun orgyyyyyyyyyy!" Pinkie concluded with a hop into the air that somehow adjusted its hang time to accompany the final extended note.

Twilight's eyes widened and her cheeks went red as she was tossed into the air yet again. "WHOA WHOA WAIT STOP!" she commanded, causing the ponies below her to part and let her slam into the ground uncaught as per her request. She got back up, stopping briefly to rub the sore spot on her back from the impact before continuing crossly. "Pinkie what kind of mare do you think I am?!"

"The kind that's been cooped up for a decade studying while her fantasies have been getting progressively weirder and need indulging of course!" the party pony answered cheerfully.

"Well uh..." Twilight coughed awkwardly. "Be that as it may or may not, unless you can paint one of these stallions red and teach them to say 'eeyup' I am not interested."

"I can do that!" offered a stallion from the crowd.

"That was a joke. That would be creepy. You're creepy. Stop creeping! Creep!" she answered in a reflexive bout of sheer disgust.

"Wait, you mentioned a ticket to a gala?" one of the mares at the front of the crowd asked Pinkie.

"NO, NO SHE DIDN'T, SHE DIDN'T MENTION ANYTHING OF THE-"

"Yeah! Twilight has an extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala and hasn't picked anypony to go with her yet!" Pinkie Pie answered as she hopped in front of the panicking unicorn.

"Oh," the crowd said in unison, their disinterest obvious as they started to disperse leaving Twilight to blink in confusion at the metaphorical excrement that had unexpectedly avoided hitting the fan.

"You mean you're not going to all comically pursue me through town with gifts and favors?" she asked, causing another mare to stop and look back at her.

"After what you said about Ponyville before the Summer Sun Celebration? Pfft, not even the Grand Galloping Gala would get us to go somewhere with you," she explained scornfully before trotting off with the rest of the crowd.

"Hey it's okay, you're not a creep, we all know you just like kinky role playing," Pinkie Pie assured the crestfallen stallion that Twilight had told off, a foreleg laid comfortingly around his shoulders. "You wanna go play with the robe and wizard hat?"

He sniffed and then nodded.

"Okay let's go play with the robe and wizard hat," she repeated with a smile as they trotted off together leaving Twilight and Spike to stand there alone in front of the library.

...

"Huh...that's good we're not being mobbed and all," Twilight began.

"Yeah that would've been the worst case scenario right there," Spike agreed.

"Definitely," she nodded.

...

"Well we've got some oddly unoccupied time to kill all of a sudden, any ideas?" Twilight asked.

------{STATIC}------

"Great idea Spike, I never would've thought of a tax payer funded day trip to Brisney Land on my own!" she said as she once again stepped into the darkened library wearing a souvenir antennae hat labeled 'Licky Louse', followed closely by a little smiling dragon wearing a sailor's hat with antlers that bore the name 'Blonald Buck'. She then reached over and flipped the light switch, revealing five disconcertingly smiling faces much too close to her own, prompting her to immediately fling herself back against the now closed door. "DAMN IT WHY DO I KEEP FALLING FOR THAT?!"

"So did you decide who gets the ticket yet? Did ya did ya did ya?!" Pinkie asked as she hopped forward wearing a light blue robe and wizard hat, her four friends closing in as well. Twilight's face darkened, and then a burst of magic flung all five of her friends backward onto their rumps, save for Rainbow Dash who had been flying at the time and was instead flung into a book case.

"Fine. This is a-..." she stopped, looked at Pinkie Pie's attire again, then grimaced as she magically tore the garments off of her and then flung them out into the street before setting them on fire.

"Aww," the party pony pouted.

"This is a story about a little unicorn filly who not only got accepted into Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, but was chosen by Princess Celestia herself to be her personal student. Nopony had really paid any attention to the little filly while she was growing up, and she had learned to be just fine with that. But suddenly, other little foals and even adult pony friends of her parents were paying her a lot of attention. She figured it was just because she'd done something amazing and it impressed everypony, and it felt good to have so many ponies saying they were her friends after being alone for so long.

Then one of her friends invited her to their birthday party, and asked if she could get Princess Celestia to make an appearance. 'Sure, I'll ask,' said the little unicorn filly. But as it turned out, Celestia couldn't do it because of course she couldn't she's busy leading a whole bucking kingdom. When the little unicorn filly told this to her friend but assured her they would all have fun together anyway, she was suddenly told that the party had to be rescheduled, but then never told when, and wound up never getting to go at all. That wasn't the first time that sort of thing was going to happen either. One by one everypony who said they were her friend would ask for some kind of favor involving the princess, and every one of them stopped talking to her when the little filly couldn't come through for them.

So then the little filly, after crying alone in her room for a long time, decided friendship was a lie, and that she liked being alone better, because at least loneliness was honest. And then she grew into a mare that now gets to deal with the first real friends she's ever made acting just bucking like all those 'friends' she had before when the Princess kicks a couple tickets her way," she concluded, glaring intently at her friends.

...

"OH MY GOSH TWILIGHT WAS THE FIL-" Pinkie started before Applejack stuffed one of her now numerous extra apple pastries into her mouth to shut her up, causing the pink mare to content herself with chewing the delicious treat.

"Listen sugarcube, we might've gone a bit haywire tryin' to get that extra ticket a' yours, but we're not your friends just because you know the princess. We're your friends because we want to be your friends, and ain't no choice you can make with them tickets is gonna change that, ya hear?" Applejack assured her while Fluttershy helped Rainbow Dash out of the pile of books that had fallen on top of her.

"That's for sure, because I am sending these tickets right the buck back to Celestia," Twilight replied as her horn levitated the tickets, a parchment, a quill, and an ink well over to her.

"What?!" her friends, Spike included, gasped in unison.

"Yes, I am not letting her ruin any more friendships of mine, and I'm going to give her a piece of my mind while I'm at it!" she continued, dipping the quill in the ink well.

"Hey, uh, remember that 'cooling off before sending a letter to the princess' thing we talked about?" Spike asked.

...

"Great, you know, just checking!" he wisely continued in retreat as Twilight put quill to paper, reading her words aloud as she wrote them.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that two equals six. Now, I know your immediate thought is 'but Twilight, simple math says otherwise', but I was lead to believe this by somepony I hold in very high regard! You see, she needed six of a thing, but then in her infinite wisdom sent only two of a thing. Our lowly non alicorn brains can't process this doubtlessly superior brand of royal math, so I'm afraid we have to send the tickets back so that we have NONE of a thing to deal with.

In related news, today I learned the reason why rich ponies hang out with rich ponies and poor ponies hang out with poor ponies. It's nearly impossible to be friends with somepony who doesn't have the same amount of stuff as you, because you'll either resent their success and ask them favors, or resent their inadequacy and have to come up with all sorts of excuses to make them keep their hooves out of your coin purse.

Your Faithful Student,
Twilight Sparkle


She stopped writing, looked it over for a moment, began to roll it up, but then quickly unrolled it and frowned so hard at the page as she jotted down a post script!

P.S. YOU'VE KNOWN THERE ARE SIX ELEMENTS OF HARMONY SINCE BEFORE MY BLOODLINE WAS EVEN IN RECORDED HISTORY AND YOU SEND TWO TICKETS?! WHAT THE BUCK SORT OF KOBAYASHI MARE-U LITE BULLSHIT ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL HERE?!

Satisfied with her addition, she rolled up the letter with the tickets, sealed it, and handed it to Spike who then forced himself to send it with an uneasy look belying his knowledge of impending doom.

"Goodness dear do you always talk to the princess like that?" Rarity asked with some amount of concern as the now ashen wisp of a letter went flying out the window.

"Yeah I mean, I don't like authority either and all, but this mare raises the entire sun Twilight, daily!" Rainbow Dash reminded her.

"Oh please what is she going to do to me? I'm not just her student now, I'm her secret bucking weapon," she replied dismissively just before Spike burped up a reply letter. "There? See? Just a normal reply, no fiery brimstone and doom." She levitated the letter in front of her and started to unseal it. "Let's see what she has to say for herse-"

The second she opened the letter, a high pressure torrent of the most freezing cold water she'd ever felt struck her in the face with sufficient force to keep her pinned to the wall behind her until the magically conjured spray from the enchanted letter mercifully petered out, leaving her to cough, sputter, and shiver as the letter floated gracefully into Spike's hand to be read for all to hear.

My Faithful Student,

Now that you are properly cooled off, allow me to explain the situation to you. I was in error sending only two tickets, and I apologize. I did not realize my mistake until seconds after it had already been sent to you. However, at the time, I had assumed you would simply ask for more if they were needed. To rectify this situation, I have enclosed seven tickets with this reply, so that you may bring all five of your friends to the Gala, and Spike may accompany you to assist you in behaving properly at such a formal event.

And by the way, I INVENTED half of the mathematical equations you derive so much self worth from having merely MEMORIZED.

If you need anything else, feel free to write me tomorrow, as I will be occupied tonight repaying my personal guards for the trouble I put them through during my sister's return.

With Love,
Princess Celestia


Spike held up the seven enclosed tickets, prompting a cheer from everypony, save for Twilight who was wet and cold to a degree that did not at all agree with her.

"'Repaying her personal guards' huh?" Pinkie repeated with a suggestive smirk, prompting the shivering royal student to roll her eyes.

"P-p-pinkie Pie, Celestia is n-n-n-not like that," she corrected her.

------{STATIC}------

"Oh my, yours is quite big," Celestia observed, looking downward as she stood before one of her personal guard stallions, both of them free of their usual barding.

"It is pretty large, if I may say so myself," he replied humbly, looking down with her.

"Yes, quite impressive, but it needs something more," the princess said, looking contemplative for a moment before her expression lit up to coincide with her finding the perfect solution. She levitated a can of whipped cream off the shelf, and then slowly sprayed it along the length of that which they were admiring. "There."

"Quite a fine choice your highness," the guard complimented with a nod of approval.

"It certainly does look delectable, would you mind terribly if I...had a taste?" she asked with a sultry smile.

"It is yours do with as you wish my princess."

She chuckled softly before she descended, humming with approval as she indulged and then rose moments later licking whipped cream from her lips. "Anything else you'd like my loyal guard?" she asked with a half lidded gaze.

"Hrm...nope, that's good!" he replied as he took his whip cream topped banana split to the table where his fellow guard was already sitting with his own sundae.

"Ice cream with royalty is quite the honor your highness," the other guard said appreciatively as Celestia sat across from them with a chocolate dipped ice cream cone.

"It is the least I could do after what I put you through during the Summer Sun Celebration. You both performed your duties admirably and I have already given my commendations to your commanding officer," she answered with a gentle yet bright smile before they each set to enjoying their desserts whilst nothing at all sexual happened.

...

Celestia took a moment to dab her mouth with a spare ticket before speaking. "So I trust you're both free for the weekly menage a trois tomorrow evening?"

They both nodded.

"Splendid."

------{STATIC}------

"Hey Pinkie, now that all the ticket shenanigans are done with, got a minute to help me with something?" Rainbow Dash asked as she landed to limp alongside Pinkie Pie.

"Sure! What's up Dashie?"

"Applejack thinks that pegasus ponies can't beat earth ponies at hoof wrestling, and I wanted to prove her wrong by beating you at hoof wrestling!" she explained while taking to the air again such that she could hold her good foreleg up in a gesture of determination without falling forward onto her face.

"But she's right Rainbow Dash, we're stronger and sturdier than you pegasuses!" Pinkie Pie advised while looking up at her.

"Okay, I'm willing to admit earth ponies might have an advantage in that area, but come on Pinkie Pie, Applejack is the strongest mare in town! She can't be representative of all earth ponies. So I figure I should try again against a more average earth pony like yourself, which will show her she's wrong to assume that stuff about us!" Rainbow Dash elaborated further as they strolled into Sugarcube Corner.

"Hrm, alright Dashie I'll give it a shot, but I'll go easy on you the first time just in case and we can try it again for reals!" Pinkie conceded, taking a seat at one of the tables and taking the hoof Rainbow held out to her after landing on the opposite side.

"Awesome, here we go! One! Two! Three!"

------{STATIC}------

"I thought you said you were going to go easy on me!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she sat on the exam table once again, her other foreleg now in an improvised splint made out of a large candy cane and some licorice bindings.

"I thought I was!" Pinkie wailed, ears lowered sadly after having unintentionally hurt her friend.

"Your insurance is going to be pissed," Doctor Residence remarked as he examined the X-ray radiographs on the wall.
Ruined Forever S1E3

I don't remember ever having any particularly strong feelings regarding this episode, it always struck me as just kind of being both there and well put together, though I will admit the image of Twilight flying into the air looking increasingly irritated during Pinkie Pie's bid for the ticket stood out at as particularly amusing. I also take a bit of an issue with the ending lesson, and I admit I might be interpreting it wrong, but it sounds to me like it's suggesting that it's only acceptable for one person of a group to be made happier if everyone else in the group is also made happier to the same degree, else the first person is obligated to surrender their increased happiness. Then again, all of Twilight's friends did give up their shot at the ticket fully expecting her to give it to someone else and still go to the Gala, and her giving up the tickets afterward was her own personal choice while no longer under any pressure, so in retrospect I suppose they did actually address my issue after all.

...yeah I really have nothing to talk about for this one. Movin' along!

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Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: sexual themes, violence/gore and strong language)
"Aww don't be so mad Growlyjack!" Pinkie Pie assured, referring to the sound that Applejack had been making since losing her tail and ribbon. "It made that serpent super happy, let us cross the river way easier, and it shows off that toned butt of yours better!"

The farm pony sighed and relaxed just a bit. "Ah guess...wait, what was that last bit?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I said it shows off that-oh my gosh!" the pink pony's attention was drawn away by the sight off a set of ruins across a gorge.

"That'll be where they are," Twilight affirmed with a nod toward the ancient castle ahead. "This rope bridge seems to be the only way across that I can see, though given how old this place is I'm not sure how much I'd trust it even if it were tied."

"So how are we supposed to get across without it?" Pinkie asked.

"Uh, duh?" Rainbow Dash chimed it, unfurling her wings demonstratively. "I can just fly over and tie it in place again!"

"No need, I can see the other side to tie it off with my magic." Twilight's magic drew the fallen bridge upward and then took hold of the two loose ends.

Rainbow's eyes shifted back and forth for a second or two before a strategically placed flap of her wings kicked up a bit of wind sufficient enough to shift the mist such that it obscured the other side.

"Or you could do that," Twilight grumbled and levitated the ends of the ropes over to her.

"Aww yeah!" Rainbow eagerly grabbed the ends of the rope bridge and flew across to the other side. She tied one end off, and began tying the other when she heard a voice calling her name. "What? Who's there? Show yourself!" she ordered while rearing up and punching threateningly with her front hooves.

"It's us, Original the Flight Squad!" said the lead pony of a trio of pegasi wearing tight fitting black and purple flight suits and goggles as they emerged from the mist.

"Do not steal!" added the pony on her right.

"We think you're so fantastically super mega banana pancakes awesome that we're here to recruit you as our captain without any tests or qualifications in the least because you're soooooooo cool," the lead pony offered.

"Great, about time somepony recognized overwhelming talent when they see it and take me straight to the top!" Rainbow Dash beamed with a puffed up chest full of pride.

"Indeed, your perfection is above such things as 'proving yourself' and 'earning your way'," the lead pony agreed enthusiastically. "We have a suit ready and waiting for you, and a show set up for your impending arrival. No need to rehearse, just fly around being awesome with every eye upon you!"

"Awesome! Just let me finish tying this off for my friends," she said gleefully while picking up the other rope.

"Who are you talking to?" Twilight called out from the other mist shrouded side of the gorge.

"My new, awesome, totally original squadmates!" she called back before starting to tie the knot. "Hey do you think the audience at that totally sweet show would mind waiting a bit longer? Me and the girls have to finish what we started and save the world."

"But God Empress Captain Rainbow Dash, how will we get the bugs out then?"

"What, you mean the bugs in the routine or something?" she queried as she pulled the knot tight and then turned around to have her eyes shoot open in horror.

"No," the lead pony answered as spiders and insects of all colors of the rainbow emerged from the sides of all their eyeballs. Their faces started to slough off as Rainbow Dash backed away nervously, and before they could fall off their skulls entirely they grabbed them off their faces and held them outward toward her. The newly revealed skulls were made of multicolored crystal while the blood inexplicably maintained a consistent plaid pattern with itself. "Give ̡our f́a͝c͜e͏s to ́t̷he ̢ke̵e̢pèr o͝f ͘t́he̵ t̛r͡ùth͘ a̸nd̕ ̵h̸e ̢shal͡l͞ ̀úshe͜r ̛ýóu ́i͞nt҉o̷ a͟ ͠ne̢w҉ w̵or͟l͝d̵!" each of them said in unison with seven different voices.

"UUUUH NOTHANKYOU!" Rainbow Dash screamed as she bolted through the air across the gorge and right into Pinkie Pie, sending the two of them tumbling back along the path a bit.

"Hi!" she greeted cheerfully to the terrified looking pegasus on top of her.

The swift movement had caused the bulk of the mist to blow away, and Twilight could now see the total lack of anypony else on the other side of the newly useable bridge.

"Pinkie! Why are you on polka dotted fire?!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she started rolling the pink pony around in an attempt to extinguish her.

"Oh? Am I?" she asked in return, seeming content to be rolled to and fro for no readily apparent reason.

"Yes! It's eating through your skin and revealing your innards made of gummy worms speaking at me in tongues!"

"Neat! Weeeee!"

"Did they fly away or something Rainbow Dash? I don't see anypony over there," Twilight inquired as she squinted to try and catch sight of anypony at all.

"How could you miss them Twilight? They're right there! Two of them are playing volley ball with a net made out of the third's skin, and using his head as the ball!" Rainbow answered until she caught sight of Fluttershy and immediately stopped rolling Pinkie. She zipped over and placed her hooves squarely on the yellow mare's face, leaving Pinkie to roll a few more feet and then give a whine of disappointment after stopping. "Fluttershy! They're coming out of your eyes! Don't move or else your face will fall off too!"

"Um, uh...okay?" Fluttershy obeyed as she fidgeted nervously with her ears lowered.

"I'm now reasonably certain I know what kind of flower Rainbow Dash ate," Twilight sighed as she started along the rope bridge.

------{STATIC}------

"So you're saying that, even if I do let go of your face, your face won't actually fall off, I'm just seeing things?"

"Mhm," Fluttershy answered with a nod, moving forward into the castle ruins as Rainbow Dash moved backward with hooves held dutifully to the yellow mare's face.

"That must be them!" Twilight surmised joyfully as she bounded forward toward the ancient monument holding an assortment of stone orbs.

...

"Are they in the dusty old rocks?" Rainbow Dash asked with a skeptically raised eyebrow.

"Listen, when you're powerful enough to banish Nightmare Moon, you can look like whatever you want to look like, I don't really give a buck either way," Twilight replied while levitating down five orbs and setting them gently down in a circle in front of her.

"That's five...where's the sixth?" Rarity wondered as she stepped closer to get a better look at the stones.

"The book said only five were known, perhaps the sixth will manifest if we use the first five correct...ly?" She craned her neck to the side trying to see something on the other side of the monument. "Ah! Apparently they only meant they didn't know what the sixth represented, because here it is!" A sixth orb levitated over the monument and joined the other five. Twilight's horn remained lit as she took a seat and scrutinized them closely.

...

"Are we sure we got the right place? Because these balls are inert as shit...and also smiling mouths are appearing all over them," Rainbow Dash observed rudely, causing the purple unicorn's gaze to drift upward and stare forward at nothing in annoyance.

"Ah don't know of any other big ol' castles in Everfree Forest," Applejack replied, prompting Twilight to clear her throat as an ever so subtle hint that everypony would do well to be quiet.

"Maybe they're like candy coated chocolates, only with rock! My sister would love that!" Pinkie bounced forward, sniffing at one of the stones before Twilight growled and magically pulled her away by her fluffy pink tail.

"I kind of need to concentrate here, would you ponies kindly shut the buck up or go outside or something?" she snapped back at them.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I can um...shut the 'b' up just fine," Fluttershy offered timidly.

"But by saying you can shut the buck up, aren't you not shutting the buck up?" Pinkie pondered.

Fluttershy's eyes widened and she quietly shrank backward with a soft whimper.

"Right so...Rarity's horn isn't actually ten feet long right now with bees coming out of it right?" Rainbow Dash asked worriedly while looking at the empty space over Rarity.

"Goodness I hope not!" she responded, bringing a hoof up to her horn.

"Seriously? Just...go outside! Or home altogether, even better! There's no reason for you all to stay here anymore, I've got this!" Twilight snarled before turning back to her work.

"No can do Twi, after all we been through tonight...er, today technically, ah reckon we're officially friends, and ain't none of us are leavin' a friend alone in the middle of Everfree Forest with Nightmare Moon on the loose," Applejack replied with a smile and nod, the other four mares voicing their own approval with a murmur of agreement.

"..." Twilight's horn faded and she stood up before turning around and glaring at the lot of them. "Fine then. What do you want?"

"What ever do you mean darling?" Rarity inquired with a slightly tilted head.

"I mean that you're all spouting a bunch of bullshit!" she shouted, effectively silencing everypony else for the coming tirade. "There's no such thing as friendship, it's just a word ponies use when they want something from somepony else so they emotionally blackmail them into it with this 'friendship' nonsense because social validation is convenient and free! You've already gone to a bunch of trouble already, so yes, you will be well compensated when all this is over, I remember your names and you will be receiving reward and honors from the crown as is appropriate. But you're not getting extra just because you decided we were friends. Now, kindly stop trying to butter me up any more and leave!" she sneered before pointing at the door glaring daggers at all of them.

...

Fluttershy let out another quiet sob before Rainbow Dash placed a hoof on her shoulder and started leading her outward. "C'mon Fluttershy, let's go find your face before the little monkeys in your eye sockets get any louder."

Rarity followed after them, not looking sad or angry in the slightest, but wearing a forlorn look of outright pity on her face.

Pinkie Pie managed to not hop up and down at all as she departed next wearing a disappointed frown.

...

"We'll be outside then ah guess." Applejack had been wearing a blank stony stare since the start of the unicorn's outburst, and didn't seem intent on reacting at all as she too turned and took leave of her.

Twilight let the tension out of her body with another long exhalation before returning to her work, horn glowing brightly again as she carefully explored the arcane workings of these most sacred of artifacts, her eyes closed tightly to concentrate. But there was the familiar feeling of a pit in her stomach. She was well used to the sensation but now it was severe enough to prove distracting, and soon enough she heard the soft tap of something small hitting the stonework beneath her. Her eyes opened and she saw a small spatter of water there on the worn stone tile, then brought a hoof to her eyes to feel the moisture gathered there.

"Why am I crying? ...and why is the floor a different color?!"

"The mortal fear of immediately impending death and a teleportation spell I cast while you were so lost in your work, respectively," said the mare of darkness now standing before her with the six stones levitating around her in a slow orbit.

Twilight's eyes shot open and darted around to see that they were indeed in a different part of the ruins. She grit her teeth and fixed an icy glare on Nightmare Moon, standing as tall and menacingly as her adorable purple self could manage. "Give those back!"

"Hrm...I think...yes, I'm fairly sure a question suddenly occurs to me!" she replied mockingly as a void tendril from her mane tapped her chin contemplatively. "Why?"

Twilight growled before her horn glowed bright red and let fly with a disintegration beam even more intense than that which had utterly destroy the manticore in the valley!

"BECAUSE UBERMARENSCH!"

The beam struck Nightmare Moon between the eyes and did absolutely nothing to her. In fact, the armored mare took the opportunity to shift her head slightly and use the beam to scratch an itch just behind her jawline that had been slightly irritating her.

"Now, granted you're at least doing more than blustering like your blue, feather brained foal of a friend did, but I think I've found a gaping hole in your argument," she countered before her horn came to life and Twilight found herself ripped off the ground and magically held in the air with her limbs splayed out. The smaller mare grunted with the effort to pull her limbs free of the telekinetic grip, and even tried using a counter spell to break the hold, but nothing was working against the overwhelming power of this ancient alicorn!

"You -ungh!- followed us here -hrng!- didn't you?!" Twilight asked while continuing to struggle.

"Correct. I was going to thank you for leading me to the only thing on this world capable of stopping me. I was anticipating a hidden, incredibly secure location. But here it turns out my dear sister in all her 'wisdom' saw fit to leave them here in the exact same spot from before I was banished...so, dulled the appreciation a bit, basically."

"The cliff, the raging manticore, the trees in the woods, the serpent, and the flower that Rainbow Dash ate, those were all you too, weren't they?!"

Nightmare Moon gave her a brief look of disbelief before answering. "The ridge was worn down, the manticore just happened to step on a thorn, the trees have a bioluminescent defense mechanism, and those flowers are native to this area. Why would I tail you ponies hoping you'd lead me to the elements, but then slow you down and otherwise try to prevent you from reaching them?"

"Oh...right that doesn't make much sense at all does it?" Twilight would've placed a hoof on her forehead at her own stupid question, but neither of her front hooves were currently unavailable.

"The serpent was my doing admittedly, but that was an accident," the alicorn confessed.

------{STATIC}------

"Let's fly to the castle!" the puff of star filled mist said to herself menacingly moments before a large serpent emerged from the river out of nowhere loudly declaring how fabulous he was. "HOLY SHIT!" she exclaimed as she tried to veer out of the way and unintentionally sheared off half his mustache.

------{STATIC}------

"And another thing, why would I make such roundabout non-traps when I could simply wipe you all out with but a thought?"

"Well...if we're so unthreatening to you, then why bother teleporting me away from the others?" Twilight asked, thinking she'd found a metaphorical chink in the moon mare's armor. The evil lunar goddess let out a delighted cackle as tendrils extended from her mane and plucked the elements from the air around her. They then coiled around them and compressed hard enough to cover them in cracks.

"Oh Twilight Sparkle, I'm not dividing and conquering. I only made arrangements for some private time," she answered moments before hurling the first half broken stone orb at her with a lethal amount of force. Twilight gasped then quickly threw up a magical barrier that only managed to reduce it to a barely less than lethal velocity before it smashed into her, making her cry out in pain as it shattered into bits of jagged rubble that flew everywhere. Nightmare Moon gave an amused grunt and hurled another at the near helpless unicorn, then another, and kept doing so until the sixth element broke her back leg with a painful snap! She then dropped her into a bloody, bruised, broken heap on the floor amongst the useless rubble that had once been her only hope.

It was basically a somewhat worse experience than had been Rarity's attempted fashion intervention.

"Any last words, ubermarensch?" she asked Twilight mockingly as the tips of her void tendrils solidified into razor sharp tips dense enough to cut through iron like butter.

Twilight looked up through the one eye that hadn't swollen shut, then tried to get to her hooves but crumpled again near instantly. Her body shuddered with a single hopeless sob as her tears mingled with the blood seeping down her face from the crack in her horn. There was no fight left in the unicorn, alone and beaten down in seconds because a goddess had simply willed it to be so.

"Good, that will be easier to carve into a tombstone," she chortled before the dark blades shot forward.

------{YOU DI-

A rainbow colored streak interrupted the grim scene transition by whisking away the wounded mare in a flash, leaving the bladed tendrils to slice into the stonework flooring.

"I hope you're actually Twilight, because right now it looks like I'm holding a hollowed out clay tie-dye woodchuck with tentacles for teeth!" Rainbow Dash zipped over to the other four ponies waiting for them near the top of the nearby stairs and carefully put Twilight down as they formed a protective barricade in front of her. "That tree stump with metal spider legs shooting lightning in the middle of the room is Nightmare Moon right?" she asked Fluttershy as she took her place overhead of them.

"Um...yes?"

"No wonder you had such a high opinion of yourself Twilight Sparkle. Compared to this rabble you might as well be me!" Nightmare Moon jeered as the various stone shards that had once been the elements drew towards her and levitated into the air, their sharpest edges pointed right at the five ponies clustered defensively around the battered unicorn. A beam shot from her horn, striking the stone archway behind them and causing a controlled collapse of stone chunks that cut off their escape route.

"Aw horse apples! Twilight, you got any unicorn magic that can git us outta here?" Applejack asked after glanced back at their ruined exit.

"I did, but Rarity forced me to use it earlier today when she was busy torturing me in the name of fashion!" she replied from her spot on the floor still struggling to get to her hooves.

"Gee thanks for killin' us Rarity!" Applejack turned on the white unicorn.

"Those casts were hideous and I stand by that observation to the last," she answered with a haughtily upturned snout and closed eyes.

"How about just you Twilight?" Rainbow Dash asked next.

"Wh...what?"

"You know what's going on more than anypony. If you can escape to try something else, Equestria might stand a better chance!" the pegasus mare clarified.

"I uh...I might be able to manage a teleportation spell back to town," Twilight replied uneasily, scarcely believing her ears.

"Then do it sugarcube! We'll keep her busy as long as we can!" Applejack promised with unwavering conviction.

"Wh...I...you will?" Twilight asked again, her voice cracking slightly.

"The alternative is a world frozen to death beneath eternal night darling," Rarity pointed out with a glance back at her.

"Yeah, and even super sweet snow cones get old if you're stuck with them long enough, just promise me you'll throw the best Summer Sun Celebration party ever after this okay?" Pinkie Pie added.

"I don't know how much help I'll be...but I'm not leaving either," Fluttershy chimed in as she looked up at Rainbow Dash.

"Now git' goin'!" Applejack urged Twilight before fixing her gaze on the armored alicorn waiting patiently with an amused smirk.

Twilight finally managed to struggle to her hooves, keeping her broken leg drawn upward away from the floor. Most of her magic had been expended simply keeping herself alive through the barrage of broken boulders, and there was only enough left for a single teleportation spell. Her eyes looked about uncertainly at the five ponies that had just pledged their very lives to help her and the mare of legend that was doubtlessly about to slaughter them, tears flowing down her face anew. Retreating was the right thing, the most tactically sound move for the future of the kingdom, they had even said so themselves! But even with such a clear objective right in front of her she felt completely lost.

"...aaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!" she cried out in frustration as a flickering magic aura appeared around her cracked horn before she disappeared in a flash of magic...and then reappeared standing in front of the other five mares.

"What in Sam Hay are you doin' Twilight?!" Applejack exclaimed.

"Being the biggest idiot in Equestria that's what!" Twilight shot back through grit teeth, a dangerous looking spark flashing in her one open eye.

"Touching," Nightmare Moon noted. "I lament the loss of an entertaining chase, but this has gone on quite far enough already."

Magical charges gathered behind each aimed shard of stone, glowed brightly, and then exploded with a shaped eruption of force that shot the sharpened bits of stone at the woefully fleshy ponies at just beneath the speed of sound. Twilight closed her eyes tightly, expecting to die and still having no clue why she'd not chosen to escape, but then found herself not being punctured. She opened her eyes and saw the shards floating there, held in place by a force even stronger than Nightmare Moon's and starting to crystallize into glowing gems of red, blue, pink, purple, orange, and magenta.

Twilight Sparkle gasped in a sudden moment of clarity.

"I have selected you to oversee preparations at the site of this year's Summer Sun Celebration in Ponyville."

"...and waste my ubermarensch caliber intellect on organizing a podunk backwater mudpony insult to my favorite holiday..."

"...meet some friends..."

"It says there are six elements..."


"What in the void is this nonsense?!" Nightmare Moon snarled before firing another beam of energy at the six of them. It was deflected harmlessly by the shimmering shape of a rainbow colored translucent orb around them, apparently too strong for even the alicorn's magic to penetrate.

"It's not nonsense, it makes perfect sense! I was just too unwilling to trust my teacher to realize it!" Twilight Sparkle answered, standing as tall as her broken body would allow. "These weapons were once wielded in ancient times by a mighty alicorn princess that epitomized the virtues they represent, but such a figure no longer exists. The best we normal ponies can do is epitomize one, and unfortunately for you I brought all of them with me!"

The orange shards gathered around Applejack.

"Applejack proved herself honest, by uh...I guess it was factual enough that I would be fine by letting go of the cliff? I mean, would've saved us time and me some trauma by just telling me the pegasi were going to catch me but...yeah! Honesty!"

The pink shards gathered around Fluttershy.

"Fluttershy proved herself kind, by being the only one of us that gave even a single buck about the manticore I killed!"

The blue shards gathered around Pinkie Pie.

"Pinkie Pie uh...laughed! ...at us...derisively because...we thought trees were monsters but...laughter!"

The purple shards gathered around Rarity.

"Rarity proved herself generous by giving Applejack's tail to a serpent in need! I'm sure that might not hold up to later inspection but buck it, that's what we're going with!"

The red shards gathered around Rainbow Dash who looked quite uncertain as to whether or not they were actually there.

"Rainbow Dash proved herself loyal by not er...immediately abandoning us to whatever she was hallucinating about on the other side of that bridge! Again, still working!"

Only the magenta shards remained.

"As for me...I'm not honest...or kind, or mirthful, or generous, or loyal. In this whole world there's only a hoof full of things I'm good at, and most of them involve quills and papers and bindings. There's one other though, and it's the only thing I can think of that would be useful enough to warrant my being chosen for this!"

"No, wait! This is impos-...actually it's quite possible but I just don't want it to be!" Nightmare Moon wailed in alarm as the groups of colored shards glowed white and coalesced into bright orbs that found their place at the base of the five pony's necks.

"Too bad! I'm not an ubermarensch after all, but I am still bucking magic and I will not let you kill my friends!" Twilight shouted as the magenta shards formed together and levitated to her head. The six mares floated off the ground as the glowing orbs resolved into golden gem bearing artifacts, a necklace for each save for Twilight who now wore a crown bearing a gem shaped like a six sided star. Beams of energy shot from the gems of the five necklaces and concentrated on Twilight's crown, the element of magic shining so brightly with the gathering power that the wicked mare of darkness was forced to back away and shield her eyes fearfully. From the center of this nexus of power emerged a ray of light with all the colors of a rainbow that made a beeline straight for Nightmare Moon.

Pinkie Pie chose that point to yell something at the top of her lungs. It was a phrase as old as time itself that had been worn down to the nub and long ago ceased to amuse anypony in the slightest for how predictable it had become. Yet, no other phrase would do. At that legendary juncture, as though sensing it inherently, Pinkie knew the exact words to utter such that all would be right with the world.

"TASTE THE RAINBOW MOTHERBUCKER!"

The armored alicorn cried out in terror and pain as she was struck for the second time by the most powerful magic weapon that Equestria had ever known. The force knocked her back across the room into one of the stone walls, sending cracks snaking through the stone around her from the impact and pinning her in place, unable to move. She let out a scream that became increasingly distorted as her armor melted into molten slag and her black as night coat started to burn away, revealing a dark blue one beneath.

------{YOU DEFEATED}------

"Owww...too much magic..." Twilight groaned as she gripped her somewhat aching skull from her place once more prone on the floor. It then struck her that the magical surge related headache was the only thing currently hurting her. She stood easily on four sturdy legs, her coat was purple without streams of blood, both of her eyes opened easily, and the crack in her horn was gone! "Oh goddess yes I'm healed!" she cheered happily as she indulged in a bit of hopping in circles.

"Mah tail's back! And mah ribbon!" Applejack said with a bright smile as she looked back at herself.

"Aww, it's back? Aw well, I got a good enough look on the way over here, hehe!" Pinkie giggled before joining Twilight in her circle hopping.

"Damn it Pinkie stop sayin' weird stuff like th-"

"And just look at these simply divine necklaces!" Rarity marveled at her newly acquired magical jewelry. "Oh and saving the world and such," she added hastily.

"For having such wimpy names these things sure pack a punch, I can't wait until we get to do that again!" Rainbow Dash boasted as she admired the aftermath of their attack consisting of a roasted black path along the floor, a large black splattering of ash and melted metal on the wall, and a small dark blue corpse on the floor beneath it.

"You mean you can't wait until the world's about to end in a big damn catastrophe again?" Applejack pointed out.

"More like big damn cat-awesome-phe!"

...

"Ya'll're an idiot."

"You're boring!"

"I'm...also here, if that's okay?" Fluttershy muttered at a barely audible level.

"And I'm late," said a voice quite familiar to all of them. They turned to see a white coated, gold clad alicorn princess standing by one of the ancient room's large windows, her horn alight with magic as she raised the sun and then smiled warmly at them.

"Princess!" Twilight gushed as she galloped over and immediately embraced her while blurting out apologies.

"You have done well my student, far better than you could have ever known," Celestia assured her as she returned the embrace.

"But...wait, shouldn't you be outside of your skull right now?" Twilight asked as she remembered the tea switching spell.

"Twilight, I've had serious issues to block out for a long time. At this point I'm literally immune to every drug known to pony kind through sheer over use," the princess explained quite plainly.

"Oh...wow," the much smaller unicorn said wide eyed. "I didn't even know that was possible in a pony's lifetime."

"Your attempted coup did however give me a good excuse to remove your training wheels by not being available to help you, and get a day to myself to relax and mess with my guard's heads a little," Celestia added with a mischievous smirk from recent memories she would later enjoy recalling.

Twilight blinked, then frowned. "So you nearly let me die as a teaching method?!"

"The key word here being 'nearly'," her mentor replied, unfazed.

"Wait, coup?!" Rarity inquired with a raised eyebrow.

"You are all to be commended and forever remembered for saving the world this day, but you've done something even greater for which I can never properly repay you," the princess continued, ignoring Rarity's question as she strode toward Nightmare Moon's remains...which began moving, provoking a gasp of surprise from the six mares that had just defeated her! She was no longer the mighty nightmare that had nearly done them in though, now reduced to an alicorn only slightly larger than a normal pony with a dark blue coat and light blue mane, looking up fearfully at the sun princess towering over her. "Luna, will you-"

The smaller alicorn was blasted by another rainbow beam that sent her crashing through the stone wall and down into the moat below.

"Good double tap girls, now let's get down there and check for a heart beat!" Twilight ordered, her crown glowing brightly as her friends replied in the affirmative.

"STOP!" Celestia commanded with a cringe as she magically rooted the six mares in place before they could push the attack any further.

------{STATIC}------

"So Celestia is actually thousands and thousands of years old, Nightmare Moon was actually her sister Luna, who is also thousands and thousands of years old, they were the ancient royal sisters of legend this entire time, and Celestia had all this planned out centuries ahead of time and you were giving her shit for it both in words and in the form of drugged tea?" Spike asked, having only recently awoken from his required nap.

"That sums it up pretty neatly," Twilight nodded.

"And we also blasted Luna through a castle wall and into a moat!" Pinkie Pie added after managing to extract herself from the ludicrously large serving of cotton candy she was currently destroying.

"Would it be rude to ask how she keeps looking like that after thousands of years?" Rarity pondered aloud.

"Do we have to worry about jail time or anything of the sort? It just feels like drugging one princess and blasting another one through a wall is the sort of thing that would land a pony in a dungeon for at least five times longer than their natural lifespan," Spike inquired further.

"If she can forgive her sister for almost ending the world twice, I guess it doesn't seem odd for her to forgive me for those things," Twilight estimated, though still sounded a bit nervous regarding the near future.

"Ah wouldn't worry none, them alicorns're pretty durable. Why that fall would've killed me and there's Luna up there just wearin' a few bandages," Applejack pointed out before taking another bite of apple fritter.

"Actually I think she looks kind of sad...that's um, just my opinion though," Fluttershy muttered.

------{STATIC}------

"Was this parade really necessary sister?" Luna deadpanned as she sat next to Celestia looking half mummy and all miserable with bandages.

"I only wish to share my joy at being reunited with you and let our subjects greet you on the day of your joyous return Luna," Celestia assured her with a soft nuzzle. "Besides, they are quite happy to see you."

"They have been hurling insults and epithets at us, some of which we are completely unfamiliar with but still recognize as insults and epithets."

"And what of those ponies out there holding up gifts in your honor?"

"Those are pitchforks. And a noose."

------{STATIC}------

"Are you ready to return to Canterlot my faithful student?" Celestia asked as the open door of the royal chariot awaited her. Twilight's only response was a lengthy pause and then a lip bite of uncertainty as she looked back over her shoulder at her friends. "Is something the matter?"

She sighed in resignation. "Yes...it's me. I'm the matter Princess. Before I came here I was a withdrawn, selfish, cynical, egotistical pony, and deep down I know I still mostly am. It took five ponies offering to sacrifice themselves for my sake to make me realize even that much. If I get on that chariot and go home, I feel that all that's going to happen is I lose touch with my friends and revert to the same pony I used to be when I arrived...plus there's a library here that is sorted alphabetically without a trace of an index card or decimal designation anywhere and I will experience actual physical pain if I don't sort that out!"

"Well then perhaps I was too hasty in dismissing your crimes against the crown," Celestia said while smiling knowingly. "Twilight Sparkle, for your attempted poisoning of royalty, and your needless assault upon a member of the royal family, I sentence you to a term of community service for this town of Ponyville. You are hereby ordered to live within and maintain the Golden Oak Library until such time as I deem your debt to society fully paid," the princess decreed.

"Thank you Princess...I think?" she replied, at first happy but then uncertain along with her friends who looked to one another wondering whether it was appropriate to cheer and leap into a group hug at that time.

"You are also to continue your studies, and I will expect a periodic letter documenting your progress," Celestia added.

Twilight's well honed student instinct took over and removed all doubt from her mind. "Yes Princess, you will receive one letter per week, every Tuesday on the dot, without fail!"

"Well I won't begrudge you an off week or two, the real world is much less predictable than a class roo-"

"Without fail!" Twilight repeated as though it were an extra credit assignment, a phrase which to her had always meant 'do this or you are a failure'.

"Hrm, suit yourself, I don't suppose punctuality will do any harm after all," Celestia acquiesced with a soft chuckle before boarding the chariot as a rotten tomato flew over the crowd and struck Luna on the side of the head.

------{STATIC}------

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I feel immense regret for a childhood wasted in isolation, knowing now that I could've had friends like Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie this whole time. But on the other hoof, if friendship is the magic that powers the elements of harmony, perhaps it was for the best. I can't imagine a pony that is accustomed to being surrounded by friends feeling the rush of the completely unfamiliar and wonderful that I did when I realized my friends were willing to go to such lengths just for my sake, and it is doubtless that the strength of that revelation lent no small amount of power to the resulting magical reaction. Maybe the elements don't just look for ponies that epitomize their respective element, but for ponies that come to realize the importance of those elements through unfulfilled need of them, even if they only realize it belatedly. It has taken me a truly long time, but I think I'm ready to admit that I do need friendship, and I have needed it all the while. My life's plans never included anypony but me, and my success, and my power, but at this point it's safe to say that those plans have been happily ruined forever.

Your Faithful Student,
Twilight Sparkle

P.S. Please have somepony scour the archives for a cure for the consumption of the petals of Gaudius Tripiscus, also known as totally-sweet-ultra-super-happy-fun-flower. Rainbow Dash ate one in the Everfree Forest and we thought she was in the clear when the hallucinations stopped but it turns out that was merely the eye of the storm, and the other side of the storm was being completely gone to a mental happy land where nopony can follow for about a week or so.
Ruined Forever S1E2-2
What is there to say about this premiere that hasn't already been said in the four and a half years since it aired? Probably nothing, so I'll just go over the points I care about real quick like! Let's nit pick shall we?

Nightmare Moon's actions always felt confusing and contradicting to me even from the first time I saw this, and I've yet to think of any canon friendly explanation for them. The only thing that would've made complete sense was for her to immediately go to the castle she already knows the location of, and then dispose of the elements before anypony can use them against her. But just for the sake of it, let's assume that she either forgot where the castle is, or the landscape has changed so much that nothing looks familiar enough anymore, and she needs to follow the mane six to let them find the elements for her. In that case, why is she trying to stop them? Let's make another assumption, and say that she is trying to stop them from reaching the elements, and only willing to destroy them as a last resort should they reach the castle. In THAT case, why is she using stealthy, ridiculously indirect methods when the way she fought off royal guards with lightning bolts and then later destroyed the elements with nothing but the shock wave from her hoof stomp suggests she could obliterate them easily? Let's make a third assumption and just say that her thousand year exile weakened her to the point where she HAS to resort to such methods...only we can't really do that because her power was on display for all viewers to see and is kind of difficult to ignore.

I'm willing to just chalk that all up to it being a brand new kids show with the educational television symbol, and they couldn't push things too much. Let's face it, who the hell saw the likes of Tirek coming when this first aired? Still it contributes a LOT to her being easily the weakest villain of the series, which I know is usually the first one you face down but come on!

And then there's Applejack, who starts off the series doing easily the most fucked up thing she's ever done by performing a trust exercise with a unicorn hanging desperately off the side of a cliff instead of saying WORD ONE about the pegasi about to catch her. In fact, sadism aside, that's the core problem here. Her defining display of HONESTY was instead a demand for TRUST...which actually would've made a better element of harmony than honesty now that I think of it. Being honest with your friends relies a great deal on trusting them after all.

There, my nit picks are out of the way so we can end this with the good stuff!

Friendship is Magic parts 1 and 2 define the series pretty well, because they didn't do anything revolutionary or new, they just did them well when they had absolutely no reason to do so. I remember watching snippets of the first cartoon series in the 1980s when I was a kid, and those ponies were so utterly forgettable that, Applejack aside, I would not be able to attach a name from memory to A SINGLE ONE OF THEM. But they did go on adventures and see weird stuff together! I never saw any G2 ponies but from what I've read they started giving them personalities, but also relegated everything to a safely relatable analogue for real life at the time with no epic adventures.

Then G3 happened. We don't talk about G3. It had no personality, and it had no adventure. Just giggling. So. Much. Giggling.

Then out of fucking nowhere here comes this crew of top tier talent that take the best bits of G1 and G2 then smash them together and dial it up to 11. The mane six are each distinct and likeable thanks to a combination of fleshed out characterization and awesome voice work. Because of this, whether they're out having grandiose adventures or staying closer to home dealing with comparatively mundane problems, it just works, because enough care went into them to make us care about them in turn. And even though I'm focusing more on writing and setting here, I'll praise the show's art style and smooth animation just as much, because well crafted visuals are also vitally necessary for the whole package to function as well as it does.

In conclusion, this shit's still awesome, and I hope all of the above was a pleasant perusal dear reader! Thank you for your time.
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Last time, on Ruined Forever...

------{STATIC}------

"Buck this shit!" Twilight wrote on a piece of paper before sending it to the Princess who instantly appeared next to her.

"Buck your shit!" Celestia countered eloquently as she dragged Twilight off to the chariot.

------{STATIC}------

"Say hi to ponies?" Spike suggested timidly before Pinkie violently exploded in Twilight's face.

"Don't say hi to ponies," Twilight corrected in a horrified daze.

------{STATIC}------

"Meet mah family?" Applejack asked hopefully.

"No." Twilight refused curtly.

Suddenly Big Mac.

"Yes." Twilight rephrased amorously.

------{STATIC}------

"Where pegasus?" Twilight asked before being smashed into the ground by a rainbow streak comet.

"There pegasus!" Spike answered.

------{STATIC}------

"Don't set me down!" the now fabulous looking purple unicorn stated commandingly as she floated in front of the mirror.

Rarity regarded her silently.

"Don't!"

Rarity regarded her silently some more.

"Don't you bucking da-"

Rarity lowered her to the floor causing Twilight to crumple under her own weight with a cry of pain.

------{STATIC}-------

"Innocuous somewhat overly critical greeting!" Twilight said as she approached Fluttershy.

"IRRATIONALLY FEARFUL REACTION!" Fluttershy replied as she gave Twilight a face full of pepper spray.

"SUDDEN MOMENT OF PAINFUL CLARITY!" Twilight wailed as she clutched at her eyes from her spot on the ground.

------{STATIC}------

"YOU EXPLODED, WHY AREN'T YOU DEAD?!" the terrified unicorn demanded while backing away toward the crowd.

"I got better!" Pinkie thoroughly explained while hopping in place.

"BUCK YOUR SHIT, JUST, ALL OF IT. COLLECTIVELY BUCK ALL THE SHIT YOU ALL HAVE, I'M OUT!" Twilight snapped before running upstairs.

------{STATIC}------

"Doooooooooom and such," Nightmare Moon said in greeting from the main stage.

"WOOOOOOOO!" Twilight cheered with inappropriate happiness.

------{STATIC}------

Ruined Forever: Season One
Friendship is Weaponized

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"Well at least somepony is happy to see me for once," Nightmare Moon chuckled in amusement as Twilight Sparkle continued giving the 'up yours' sign with her forelegs from her spot on the stage for a few moments before the blank stare of stark realization plastered itself on her face.

"Oh...uh, no. The elation of having been correct all this time wore off just now, so I'm pretty much as terrified as everypony else in here," she replied while starting to back away.

"Oh, a pity. Get down there with the rest of the insects then!" the mare of darkness barked as a star filled tendril extended from her mane and slapped Twilight off the stage.

"What have you done with the princess?!" the mayor demanded bravely from her spot behind exactly seventeen bodyguards before ducking back into hiding.

"Hrm? You tell me, I have not yet seen hide nor hair of her, though I am looking forward to it immensely." Several more tendrils emerged from her mane and solidified into sharp edges, the implication made all the more menacing by the sharp teeth she bared to accompany it.

"Wait, if you didn't ponynap her, then what did happen to her?!" the mayor pondered aloud.

"I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SO EVER IT'S A COMPLETE MYSTERY," Twilight insisted in a completely unsuspicious manner while her eyes shifted back and forth with complete innocence.

------{STATIC}------

"Uh...should we...get someone?" one guard asked the other.

"Who would we get? And what exactly would we tell them?" the other replied looking completely lost.

Princess Celestia was sitting in a random field holding onto a large cake as though she'd float into the void if she let go of it, eyes completely dilated as she stared intently at a grasshopper sleeping on a blade of grass but doing otherwise nothing. Her mane was disheveled, and all of her decorative royal barding was missing save for two greaves that she had insisted were the only ones not trying to eat her.

...

"What does it meeeeaaaaan?" she asked for the sixty seventh time.

------{STATIC}------

"You're lying! Now tell us what you did with her before I beat the answer out of you!" Rainbow Dash threatened after leaping into the air and pointing a determined hoof.

...

"Are you serious?" Nightmare Moon replied while trying to restrain an incredulous laugh.

"As a heart attack! I will mess you up good!"

"Oh? Come on then!"

"I'm going to, unless you cough it up missy!" Dash continued while punching at the air with her forelegs.

"No, really, come up here and mess me up!" Nightmare Moon goaded further as her horn started glowing, conjuring a legion of spectral blades that began filling the air around her.

"Don't think I won't!"

The blades then lit up with blue flames.

"Last warning!"

The blades started to spark with lightning.

"You don't want the heat I'm bringin'!"

The blades doubled in size and became jagged.

"This dynamite is headed right at ya sister!"

The blades started spinning fast enough to take on the appearance of flaming, sparking buzz saws of death.

"I am lighting the fuse-whoa!" Dash persisted before Applejack saved her from herself by grabbing her tail and yanking her out of the air.

"Well, this has all made for a decent spot of entertainment, but the only reason I bothered stopping here at all was to deal with Celestia. If she's not here, I'd best be attending to other matters." The spectral blades dissipated. "I'll leave you all to enjoy my beautiful night, you'll have plenty of time to appreciate it now, an eternity in fact!" She let out a villainous cackle as her starry void mane enveloped her in a twisting dervish that then compressed into a wisp of dark blue mist and slithered through the air out of a window.

The crowd was still, stunned into silence for a long while before breaking out into a panic, running every which way whilst shouting and screaming about the darkness unending! Twilight looked around quickly, spotting Spike in the commotion and levitating him onto her back before bolting for the door and running out into what should have been a wonderful summer dawn.

"Oh goddess, she's real! She's real and you were right! This changes everything! What else were you right about and we don't know about it?! Have you felt the planet shift lately like it's being towed?! Is the ground rumbling like something's beneath us?!" Spike babbled in a panic as she galloped along the road as fast as she was able, taking them past a building resembling a large cupcake.

"Spike...we have to...focus on...the problem...in front of us...right now!" Twilight replied between breaths as the town library came into view a ways ahead. After a final burst of speed she was left at the door with her hoof on the knob, feeling slightly winded for a few moments before speaking further. "We didn't have time to override Celestia and gather the Equestrian army, and Celestia's...indisposed."

"Tripping balls somewhere because of you," Spike clarified helpfully.

"The important thing is that we can't run to her for help or even advice this time Spike! We're the only ones who know what's happening and the only choice we've got left is to find the elements of harmony from the legend. I couldn't find buck all in the books kept upstairs, so I can only hope there's something we can use in the downstairs area where they threw that party, because otherwise we've got no lead to go on!" she replied before opening the door and walking through it into the dark blackness of the library. "Spike, get the-"

The lights blinked on and she was suddenly staring at an angry blue pegasus, a frowning pink earth pony with a party horn in her mouth, and an orange earth pony wearing a stetson and carrying a length of rope in her mouth.

"-lights?!" Twilight flinched as the door behind her slammed shut, then looked back over her shoulder. Fluttershy had her hoof on the light switch, apologizing profusely while Rarity glared at her from her spot blocking the door. "How did I just fall for this twice?!"

"Get her!" Rainbow Dash shouted, answered only by the honk of Pinkie's party horn before they pounced as one. After a blur of motion and overwhelming force, Twilight found herself on her back, expertly hog tied with Applejack's rope.

"Twilight! I'll save you!" Spike pronounced heroically! He then took three steps toward them before falling on his face and starting to snore loudly in long delayed slumber.

"Cool. Thanks Spike. Great job," Twilight deadpanned from her spot bound on the library floor.

"Alright now Twilight Sparkle, if'n that's even your real name! We got barrels full of questions about this here eternal night nonsense, and you're gonna serve us up some freshly baked answers!" Applejack spelled out with a scowl.

"And they better not be half baked!" Pinkie Pie added while putting a party hat on Twilight for no immediately discernible reason.

"Or else we'll put you back in the oven and turn up the heat!" Rainbow Dash accentuated her threat by getting right up in Twilight's face.

...

"Did you...rehearse this baking pun themed interrogation before hoof?" Twilight asked quizzically while continuing to struggle against the rope.

"Nah, we're making it up on the spot! Isn't that neat?! Hehe!" Pinkie Pie answered, reverting to her usually cheery, peppy self before a nudge from Rainbow Dash's back hoof on her flank corrected her. "Oh, I mean, NO! Now spill the beans! ...But spill them on the table, because we might want to cook and eat them later for dinner!" she demanded with about as much menace as one could conjure up with such wording.

"And how did you beat me here? I was at a sprint the whole way and didn't even see any of you!"

"You took the long way past Sugar Cube Corner instead of straight down the road, it was easy," Rainbow Dash expounded while pointing a hoof to Rarity, who opened the door to reveal the town hall at the end of the street in the distance.

"How did I fall for this twice and miss that?!" the bound unicorn exclaimed in amazement at her own ignorance.

"Yeah, turns out it pays off to memorize the town layout before you do spying for your evil mare of darkness friend, traitor!" the blue pegasus replied accusingly as she stood over Twilight with her chest puffed out and her wings raised.

"She's not my friend and I'm not a traitor!" she retorted whilst finally returning the numerous glares she was receiving.

"Then why'd ya seem so danged happy to see here then hrm?!" Applejack inquired pointedly.

"Because everypony's been telling me I'm either bored or crazy or both when I was trying to tell them she was coming, and nopony believed me, not even the princess! So excuse me for feeling vindicated to an inappropriate degree!"

"Pfft, like anypony would actually do that!" Rainbow Dash spat back distrustfully.

"Um, actually, you've kind of done that before too, not to be rude, or anything," Fluttershy managed to point out at a barely audible voice level.

"What? When?"

------{STATIC}------

"Hey Flutttershy, where've you been? Why'd you miss a whole week of flight school?" the rainbow maned filly asked as her friend from one grade up walked into view of the hallway lockers sniffling with tears in her eyes.

"M...my mommy's dead!" the pink maned filly cried as she fall to the floor covering her eyes and shaking with sobs.

"Hah! Called it! Hoof bump!" the rainbow filly cried out in victory before holding up her hoof expecting one of her nearby friends to accept the bump. She was left hanging for longer than usual, and when she finally looked around she saw the rest of the nearby student body staring at her with eyes wide and mouths hanging open in shock. "...what?"

------{STATIC}------

"Oh, right, I won five bits off that bet. Heh, that might as well be a bazillion bits when you're a filly!" Rainbow Dash recalled with a brief chortle. Silence hung in the air for longer than usual, and when she finally looked around she saw everypony else save Fluttershy staring at her with eyes wide and mouths hanging open in shock. "...whaaaaaaaaaaat?"

------{STATIC}------

Fortunately, a unicorn with their legs tied together by distrustful ponies is still able to precariously balance on them in one spot and levitate books over to read.

Unfortunately, accomplishing that feat of balance and concentration means nothing if one is not able to find a book that is worth reading at the time.

"This library...it doesn't make any sense!" she clamored as her eyes darted from book to book in front of her while periodically pausing to prevent a wobble from becoming a full on tumble that would require Applejack to prop her up again. "There's fiction next to non-fiction, math next to history, biology next to cosmology, and I could go on for hours but I'll just conclude by pointing out that this book on the theory of advanced quantum mechanics was on the shelf adjacent to this little foal's book where a puppy befriends a frog and they learn about colors together! How am I supposed to find anything about the elements of harmony in this complete mess?!"

"Here you go!" Pinkie hopped over and held out a book entitled The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide. The squadron of books hovering near Twilight dropped to the ground as though sharing in the unicorn's sheer bewilderment.

"Where...how...what?"

"It was under E!" the pink pony pointed out promptly, directing Twilight's attention to the letters engraved into the wood at the top of each shelf.

"You...arrange your library...alphabetically according to title?!"

"Sometimes author!"

"Why?!"

"Why not?"

"BECAUSE LIBRARIES DON'T WORK THAT WAY!"

"Ours does!"

The unicorn's eyes shot open, her eyelid twitched, and a hair in her mane audibly twanged out of place as something inside of her snapped.

"Because who needs a decimal system right? For that matter, who needs shelves?! Just dump all the books on the floor in whatever order you like, because then finding out what you need to know will become a super fun hours long scavenger hunt! You know what'd be even more fun?! Just remove the bindings and scatter the pages everywhere, it'll be like a great big language based jigsaw puzzle! Do you have the right pages in the right order? I don't know! Nopony does! Actually why do we even use a written language anyway?! We should go back to having wise ponies telling stories and passing down skills before they die, because at no point has the way in which we preserve or organize data advanced us as a species or anything! Buck it, while we're at it let's just go back to the good old glory days when we did nothing but run around as primitive herd beasts with no aspirations but to spend our pointless lives grazing and shi-"

Rainbow Dash looked to Applejack for the nod, received it, then back-hoofed Twilight across the face, causing her to briefly turn in place before falling over.

"Thanks, I'm back, sorry!" she said after shaking off the rage induced haze. She levitated the book out of Pinkie's hoof and brought it down to her level to read it on the floor.

"What exactly are these elements of harmony you're looking for?" Rarity asked as she walked over curiously.

"I'm not entirely sure, but according to the legends they were used to banish Nightmare Moon a thousand years ago...and this book isn't that specific either from the looks of it," Twilight replied with a frown as she made one last turn of the page to the appropriate section. She also found it somewhat difficult to look serious with the floor pushing one cheek into her face. "It says there are six elements, but only five are known: kindness, laughter, generosity, honesty, and loyalty."

"Now mind ya I ain't never used no kind of magic even once in mah life, but if they only knew five of 'em how'd they use 'em so well a thousand years ago?" Applejack inquired, eyes wandering up and to the side with a hoof on her chin.

"Yeah, and what kind of names are those for ultimate super weapons anyway? 'Hold it there Nightmare Moon, we're going to nice you to death!" the pegasus hovering overhead added in a somewhat discourteous fashion.

"Well I'll be sure to find out what I go to their last known location: the Castle of the Two Sisters in..."

------{STATIC}------

"...the Everfree Forest!" the still hog tied Twilight proclaimed dramatically out of nowhere from her spot being carried atop Applejack's strong back, the group having made it to the edge of the woods.

"...why did you just dramatically proclaim 'the Everfree Forest' out of nowhere dear?" Rarity asked with a cocked eyebrow.

"...I don't know!"

"In any case, this here's the end of the free ride for ya sugarcube." Applejack bent both legs on one side, letting Twilight slide off her back onto her still bound together hooves before the farm pony knelt down to start undoing the knot.

"Oh finally, thank you!" Twilight said as she finally pulled her hooves free and stretched her legs a bit. "Now if there's no further questions or issues, I'll take it from here," she continued before turning to stride into the forest before being blocked by a rainbow blur that resolved into a pegasus.

"Whoa whoa whoa, no way! We untied you, but I am not letting you out of my sight until I am completely sure you're not some kind of double agent!"

Twilight frowned and back away a step. "So how am I supposed to prove myself to you then?"

"Don't know, we'll just have to see what sticks," Rainbow Dash replied as she landed and fixed her with a narrow eyed stare.

"Well ah for one think you're on the up n' up, for as much as that's worth, and we ain't lettin' you go in there on your lonesome, are we girls?" Applejack offered while recoiling her rope.

"Oh um...I don't know...she hasn't been very nice to...well, anypony...but she is the only pony that's trying to do anything about this whole eternal night thing," Fluttershy mumbled indecisively as her eyes evasively examined the ground at which her hoof was scratching.

"All I know is that there's a party scheduled for tomorrow, and tomorrow can't happen until the sun rises, so if the sun never rises, that party goes unpartied forever and that's not something a professional party pony is gonna let happen!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed boldly before galloping into the forest followed by everypony save for Twilight.

"At what point exactly did I say 'everypony come with me please'?!"

------{STATIC}------

"Not that I'm condoning this escort or anything, or suggesting you tie me up again, but what made it suddenly okay for me to not be tied up when we got to the forest edge?" Twilight asked Rainbow Dash as she maintained her position in the air behind and above her.

The group then stopped as they heard a small screech followed by a deep throaty roar in the darkness of the woods off the beaten path. A set of little footsteps ran from another unseen creature that made booming impacts with each step. Then the chase suddenly stopped, replaced by a crunch, the sound of the panicked last moments of a woodland creature accompanied by rending of flesh and snapping of bone, and then a deep growl of contentment before they were left to listen to messy chewing noises and the splattering of no doubt red colored fluids.

"Something told me you wouldn't want to run away from us towards that," Rainbow Dash replied at a whisper as they moved along.

"Nope," Twilight agreed, her eyes riveted in the direction of the sounds until they had faded away in the distance. The foliage mercifully became a bit thinner as their path inward took them along a ridge with a more commanding view of the forest below that came at the cost of a precipitous drop down a slope into a small rocky valley. She stopped and stood at the edge, squinting out to try and catch sight of their destination before a section of the edge gave way beneath her weight and fell down the slope into the darkness of the valley. "Um...are you all sure we should be going this way?"

"Relax, I've been by this way plenty of times and it's never collapsed or anything, we'll be fine," Rainbow Dash assured her with a dismissive wave of her hoof.

"Eep!" Rarity yelped as she too had a bit of ground prove untrustworthy and almost send her tumbling into the abyss ahead of them.

"When you say 'been by this way', do you mean 'walked by this way applying your weight to this ridge', or 'flew by this way catching sight of the ridge while never actually touching it'?" Twilight queried further as she stood still and listened with no lack of distress to the sound of chunks of rock and dirt falling off the side of the ridge beneath them.

"...Oh."

Four ponies screamed out as the ground they were standing on buckled beneath their weight and sent them rolling and sliding down the slope. Twilight's hooves went this way and that trying to find purchase as she slid backwards towards certain death, but she only managed to stop her descent after the majority of her body was already hanging off the edge at the bottom of the slope. She looked around frantically as her back hooves failed to even find a surface to brace against, hanging there unable to pull herself back up.

"Hang on Twilight, ah got ya!"

Her eyes shot up to see Applejack letting go of a root and making a controlled slide down to her. The creeping panic faded somewhat, knowing that if any of these ponies would be able to pull her up, it was the strong earth pony farmer! But then much to her chagrin the orange mare's hoof stopped just short of grabbing hers and returned to its spot planted on the ground.

"Nevermind, just let go."

"W-what?!" Twilight retorted, barely believing what she was hearing.

"Ah said let go," Applejack repeated.

"No! Why would I do that?! There's nothing but a long fall and rocks at the bottom! You are asking me to commit suicide!" she exclaimed angrily with a tinge of desperation to her voice.

"Ah got my reasons sugarcube, trust me!"

"Please...please Applejack just pull me up! I don't want to die!" she begged as her eyes started glistening. The muscles in her forelegs burned and gravity's pull was slipping her back fraction of an inch by fraction of an inch.

"Ah ain't doin' nothin' of the sort, let go!"

"Why are you doing this?! I know I wasn't the best pony but what have I ever done that was worth killing me over?!" the purple unicorn cried out, tears now streaming down her cheeks from her reddened eyes unhindered. "Please Applejack! Please! Don't let me die!"

"Ah ain't repeatin' mahself again Twilight, now stop fussin' and let go of this here cliff edge!"

"No! Please, I don't want to go yet! I wanted to do so much! I want to see my family again! I want all my years of study to have meant something! I don't want to end up as some corpse in a valley because I was mean to the wrong earth pony! It's not fair! It's not faaaiiir!" She sobbed and screamed hysterically until her throat was hoarse, her grip just shy of slipping loose and sending her plummeting to her untimely demise!

"FOR BUCK'S SAKE A.J. JUST TELL HER WE'RE GOING TO CATCH HER!!!" came Rainbow's voice from below.  

------{STATIC}------

Twilight Sparkle trotted along with stubbornly reddened eyes still seething with anger over the earlier incident as the group proceeded to the end of the canyon. Fortunately for her there was a massive beast with the body of a lion, wings of a bat, and the tail of a scorpion that was rampaging about blocking their way. It had already spotted them and begun advancing menacingly!

"Oh my goodness, a manticore! And the poor little thing has a thorn stuck in his-"

Fluttershy's observation was cut short by a red disintegration beam of unicorn magic reducing the monster's head to ash and leaving nothing but a burned neck stump behind as the creature's body collapsed and started twitching and spasming sporadically.

"-paw."

"All clear!" Twilight beamed victoriously as she trotted past with horn still smoking, clearly feeling a bit better.

------{STATIC}------

"He wasn't a b-bad manticore Twilight! He was just...just mean because he was in pain! I could've calmed him down by pulling the thorn out and...everything would've been fine! Y-you didn't have to kill him!" Fluttershy managed to sob out while covering her tear drenched face with her hooves as Applejack carried her along on her back, the grieving yellow mare currently too distraught to keep up with the group on her own.

"You aspired to temporarily relieve him of pain. I actually relieved him of all potential for pain ever. Who's really the better pony he-why are we walking under a pitch dark canopy in a forest full of monsters?" Twilight inquired as the light around them went from soft moonlight to pitch black as the forest canopy quite suddenly thickened.

"Well if somepony hadn't said the ridge was stable for four ponies because she flew over it fine we'd still be on the high ground, but now we gotta feel our way through these here pitch black woods and hope some monster in the dark doesn't hear somepony else crying and pick us off," Applejack replied, prompting Fluttershy to move her hooves from her eyes to her mouth to try and cut off the noise from her weeping.

The group managed to proceed smoothly through the darkness for a few more minutes before most of them jumped in fright at a loud growling sound behind them, only to whirl around in fright to face the sight of a pegasus pony looking sheepishly at her stomach. "Uh...sorry...the unicorn barf smell was really being stubborn about coming off my coat and I missed lunch and dinner because I lost my appetite...at the time," Rainbow Dash explained at a whisper.

"Well that's just great Rainbow, ain't enough that ya trapped us down here in the dark, now ya'll gotta lead whatever's down here right to us!" she scolded in a likewise quiet but also harsh whisper.

"Hey, it's not my fault purple pony girl here puked on me!" Rainbow replied defensively with a sharp frown.

"It ain't? 'Cus from what I hear it is exactly your fault, practicin' all them tricks instead of bucklin' down and takin' your job and duty to the whole town anythin' close to seriously, even when royalty's about to come visitin'!"

"Oh so sorry I want to eventually spend my life being something more than a utility service, I should just be like you and be happy with the cushy job I got by being born!"

"Girls!" Rarity interjected, stepping between them. "This is no time to be bickering about frivolous matters like jobs or aspirations that are in any way unlike mine. Just like Applejack says, if we stay quiet and together we'll make it through this just fine," she concluded with a nod before turning to resume heading down the path.

There was a large, leering, glowing face with sharp teeth directly in front of her, and then soon after all around them.

"NEVERMINDNOTHINGISFINEWE'REALLGOINGTODIEHORRIBLYI'MTOOPRETTYTOBEDEVOURED!!!" Rarity screamed, backing away on her hind legs while flailing her forelegs defensively in front of her. Her cry of fear was joined by what sounded like everypony else as they each flinched away in horror at the creatures of darkness that had surrounded them, wondering how they were possibly going to escape such a grisly fate.

Also Pinkie Pie was on the ground holding her sides and kicking her back legs in a wanton outpouring of mirth.

"Pinkie, why are you laughing? We're going to be killed if we don't do something!" Twilight exclaimed as her eyes darted from deathly staring visage to deathly staring visage.

"THEY'RE JUST TREES! YOU'RE SO DUMB!" Pinkie managed to say before being overtaken with another fit of laughter.

------{STATIC}------

"Ooh, haven't seen this flower before," Rainbow pondered aloud as she examined a flower slightly off the trail with large petals that were each a kaleidoscope of every color of the rainbow. It looked   totally sweet, and a sort of happy kind of fun that might be described as extending to the super level, perhaps even the ultra. She gave it a sniff, found the scent to her liking, and then plucked it from the ground in one bite and started chewing it, pleased to find that the taste lived up to the pleasant aroma.

"What flower?" Twilight asked with a glance backward.

"Ex-flower now," the pegasus corrected while still chewing. "Looked pretty cool though."

"You just ate a random plant you've never seen before in the middle of the nightmare woods of perpetual darkness and death?!"

Rainbow Dash swallowed. "Well now I did."

"Oh for buck's...what did it look like? In detail," Twilight demanded.

"Uh...I dunno, it had petals and there were colors?"

"So according to your memory you ate a flower."

"Ah think we got more important problems to be ponderin' right now Twilight," Applejack cut them short, pointing toward the rapid filled river ahead of them.

"How is that a problem? We have two pegasus ponies that can team up to carry the other four of us over one by one," Twilight immediately suggested before they heard the piteous cry of the source of the rapids; a nearby purple scaled river serpent who was thrashing about in the water in the midst of some kind of existential crisis. "Even better, we make the rapids stop," she said as her horn started to glow red.

"My mustache! By beautiful mustache! My face is ruined! I've become an ugly beast beyond repair!" the serpent cried out in woe. He looked to be quite the well cleaned up aquatic reptile, his style quite apparent to all observers, absolutely flawless save for the missing half of his mustache that he was currently lamenting.

"Oh, never mind, if he's intelligent enough to speak then killing him would be immoral," Twilight groaned like a slightly inconvenienced teenager.

"Not to mention serpents are relatives of dragons, I'd give you such a pinch!" the serpent replied, a steely gaze fixed on Twilight for a moment before resuming his hysterics.

"My goodness darling what happened to you?" Rarity asked as she roughly shoved the purple unicorn aside. "Something has undone your exquisitely crafted look!"

"It's true! I spent untold hours making sure that anyone who gazed upon me would see nothing short of the most handsome and fashionable serpent possible, but along comes this little oddly razor sharp puff of smoke, and off goes half of my wonderful mustache!" he wailed before falling back into the water and splashing the lot of them.

Rarity sputtered and then gasped in horror. "My mane! My-no! Focus Rarity, your mane will dry out in minutes, but there is a fashionable serpent in need and you will not stand to let his cries for help go unheeded!" she proclaimed before stepping forward and somewhat rudely plucking a sharp scale from his fabulous hide, producing a yelp from the aquatic reptile as she raised the scale with her magic, positioned it, and then brought it down like a blade!

"What in tarnation?!" Applejack shouted as she watched her newly severed tail float away and affix itself to the bare half of the serpent's snout.

"Oh my goodness! This is a bit dirty, ill kept, and an overly light shade, but I can fix that with only minutes of work!" the serpent said happily as he brought up a discerning claw to feel his newly remade mustache. "I like the little red ribbon too, I wouldn't have thought of that, of if only I had one to match on the other side!"

Applejack's mane suddenly fell out of its usual pony tail and her other red ribbon, surrounded in a light blue aura, levitated up and tied itself neatly around the other half of the serpent's mustache. "Rarity what the buck are you doin' girl?!"

"Wonderful, wonderful! You've given me everything I need to keep looking like the dashing serpent I am, thank you so much little unicorn!" the serpent gushed, overjoyed to have been spared the long months spent waiting for his mustache to regrow. His body below the water had ceased thrashing, and the water was now calming quickly.

"It was my pleasure, I wouldn't dream of depriving the world of your keen fashion sense," Rarity replied as she looked upward smiling at him.

"If ya'll wanted to fix 'im up so bad why didn't you use your own dang tail?!" Applejack lashed out indignantly.

"Oh! I was unaware my tail was pale blonde and not indigo, which wouldn't match the other half of his mustache at all. Thank Celestia you were here to correct me!" the fashionable unicorn exclaimed sarcastically in reply.

------{STATIC}------
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: sexual themes, violence/gore and strong language)
Once upon a time, in the magical yet somewhat unimaginably named land of Equestria, the entire known cosmos was controlled by two siblings, because that was a great idea! The eldest used her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn, and the younger brought out the moon to begin the night. Somehow, maintaining this cycle created harmony for all the land, despite doing absolutely nothing to address economic and social issues. Also nopony really bothered to wonder what had kept the sun and moon and nature in general functioning before they showed up. But despite the fact that she was pampered royalty whose only hardship in life was being tasked with making some truly B team decisions, the younger sister decided to flip her shit because she wasn't getting enough attention from sleeping ponies who had the audacity to have to go to work in the morning.

Oh there was plenty of time to discuss the topic too! But whenever the eldest saw the younger moping around all dawn before bed and asked if something was wrong she went all passive aggressive telling her that nooooo nothing was wrong she was just fine! The eldest made the mistake of expecting the younger to be a mature adult about the matter, but then one day things boiled over and she was like "younger sibling lower the moon it's really cold out" and then the younger sibling was like "I'm Nightmare Moon now and mommy always loved you better and you always took my cake" and the eldest was all "I told you I had  a problem things are different now wait why are we talking about this what does this have to do with keeping the moon up until nine in the morning?' to which the younger replied 'it has laser beams to do with it!' The eldest was confused because this answer made no sense. Then a laser beam hit her in the face, to which she replied "oh."

And such a mighty, epic battle did ensue! Flying through the night sky that was actually day, ducking through architecture, the eldest not returning fire at all, the entire climactic encounter taking a much much shorter amount of screen time than three seasons worth of mystery and fan fiction had lead all to believe! But then, just when the child friendly bit of legendarily one sided violence threatened to get a little repetitive, the elder was struck down and plummeted from the sky through the shattered roof of the throne room that she and her sister had once so happily shared! There, as she lay still, her purple pupil wept over her unmoving form, asking why the younger would do thi-wait that didn't happen yet. Uh...

...

Anywho, the eldest fell into a completely empty throne room.

...

Empty just like her heart, imploding from the bitter black hole of misery and woe from her sister's utter and complete betrayal of her love! Feeling the sting of a thousand daggers comprised entirely of sadness stabbing into her chest, the eldest resorted to her only remaining option, to trade her sister's continuing presence upon this world for the welfare of her kingdom! Using the Elements of Harmony, she banished her to the moon and doomed them both to a millennium of solitude, separated from the only fixed point in one another's lives that they knew would not waste away to the bitter reality of mortality in a continual cycle of pain and loss unending!

Yep, it was pretty bad.

After that, the eldest took up the role her sister once filled, which would be pretty easy for her considering her usual work, I mean the sun's about eight hundred seventy-five thousand miles in diameter and ninety-three million miles away. The moon almost doesn't exist in comparison. Once things had settled down, her subjects were joyous that peace had been restored, and had the dandy idea to throw a celebration of the day every single year forever! The eldest sister kindly stated that such measures weren't necessary but her subjects insisted that they create an annual, super happy, brightly colored festival celebrating how they were all still together and happy with loving friends and family, on the day that the youngest sister had been banished!

For some reason the eldest sister once more began having problems regarding cake and the over consumption thereof.


"Wow, who the hay edited this?" the purple unicorn pondered aloud as she looked down at the book resting at her hooves with an upraised eyebrow. Her horn then alighted with a magical aura that levitated the book closer to her muzzle for more thorough examination. "Furthermore, how am I even reading this page? It's two pictures with no text at all!"

"Oh there you are Twilight Sparkle! Moondancer is having a little get together in the west-"

"Gah!" the startled and now conveniently named mare exclaimed before a conjured can of disinfectant blinked into existence prior to spraying the intruding ivory coated unicorn in the face.

------{STATIC}------

Ruined Forever: Season One
Friendship is Oddly Intrusive

------{STATIC}------

"Perfect!" the little, purple scaled, green spined baby dragon proclaimed proudly as he put the finishing touch on his gift wrapping. Looking quite pleased with himself, he picked up the present with one hand, smoothed back the spines atop his head with the other, and then grabbed the doorknob just in time to be flung backwards into a book case by the dramatic entrance of his would be caretaker through the double doors of her private library tower. He was then pummeled by a preponderance of plummeting paperbacks, publications, and pamphlets that he'd spent the last few hours sorting in a hurry so that he would have extra time to attend a party. As the final indignity, once he'd emerged unharmed he found that his spines were now out of order on account of having skewered the present of which he'd been so proud. Also, the final indignity wasn't the final indignity in the slightest.

"Spike! I told you to have everything re-shelved by the time I got back, and here you are in a pile of unshelved books?" she scoffed as the can of disinfectant she had been levitating at the ready tucked itself back inside of her saddlebag. "What have you been doing this whole time? And what's that on your head?"

"Moondancer's late birthday pres-" Spike started before he was gripped by Twilight's magic and wrenched free of the pile.

"Nevermind, there's more important things to be talking about, much more important!" she interrupted as she levitated the mangled mass of box, wrapping, and torn up teddy bear off of Spike and into the conveniently located chute labeled 'completely legitimate incinerator that has never been abused to destroy incriminating documentation'.

"But we've been invited to lunch for once, I even convinced Twinkleshine to invite you as my plus one and told her where to find you!" he replied in exasperation while dusting a few bits of dust off himself that had been covering the older tomes.

"Well, that explains why she snuck up on me then," she mused aloud as she unceremoniously dropped her baby dragon assistant to the floor before trotting up to her favorite reading spot, which was of course atop a raised platform from which she could lord over her book filled domain.

"Please tell me you didn't spray her with the disinfectant," Spike groaned, putting a clawed hand to his forehead after he got back to his feet.

"Spike don't worry, she's fine," she assured him dismissively as she started examining the legion of books now floating around her.

"I CAN'T SEE! IT BURNS! AAAAAAAAH!" came the distant cry from an ivory coated unicorn mare gripping her eyes in pain and writhing on the ground.

"See? Healthy ponies can't scream that loud. She's fine. Now stop dragging your feet and help me save the world!" Twilight ordered as she continued flipping through pages with rising frustration. Spike let out a fatigued grumble and started trudging toward where he knew their copy of Predictions and Prophecies rested on the shelf, mentally relinquishing his latest failed effort to obtain a life outside the tower. "Guh! Why can I never find that book when I need it?!" she growled in exasperation.

"It's right here on the shelf, where you told me to put it after you found it left on your desk two days ago when you suspected the visiting prime minister of being the great destroyer, which was where you told me to leave it after you had to go looking for it another two days before that when you thought the atmosphere was going to be vaporized by a passing comet," Spike answered as he pulled the book from the shelf. Rather than offer any words of reply, Twilight magically grabbed the book and pulled it across the library baby dragon and all, knocking the little fire breathing lizard against a chair, a few table legs, some of the more empty shelves, and a metal lighting fixture on the way across the room and upward before he finally let go of the book and fell back to the floor.

"Finally!" she beamed briefly before burying her nose in the text.

"I'm pretty sure there was a straight line you could've pulled that book along that would've avoided hitting every single thing in the tower," Spike pointed out from his spot below as he admired the stars floating round his head.

"And I'm pretty sure you could've let go of the book when you felt me grab hold of it," Twilight countered as her eyes darted from left to right between turns of the page.

"That's a...good point actually," the baby dragon replied, stumped as to any other response as he looked up toward the ceiling and rested a single claw on his chin in contemplation.

"Aha! Found it!" the unicorn above proclaimed before she magically blinked into view standing over him, pointing the open book downward for him to see.

"Uh, found what?"

"Right here!" she said whilst irritably pointing a hoof. "The Mare in the Moon!"

"Let's pretend that I'm not the one who's been reading like crazy for two days straight, and I don't know why a series of craters on the moon that looks like a pony head is important?" Spike proposed whilst scooting his way out from beneath her.

The lavender mare let out a sound composed of equal parts sigh and growl. "Okay, fine Spike. The whole reason I'm here in this school started with the Summer Sun Celebration, and since I'm bored out of my mind during break I decided to do some reading about it because it means so much to me. Turns out that nine centuries ago it was called the Victory Sunrise Festival, before somepony really, really high up the chain decreed it be changed to the Summer Sun Celebration and moved to the longest day of the year. I only found this as a footnote in the oldest book I could find on the subject, oldest by centuries! This has probably been forgotten for hundreds of years!" She began explaining whilst pacing back and forth leering intently at the book in front of her.

"Huh," Spike responded whilst busying himself re-shelving books. His interest was entirely genuine. No, really. So genuine. The genuinest.

"Naturally I started wondering why it was changed, and then on a hunch I looked up the history of Nightmare Night. It was started only ten years after the Victory Sunrise Festival was changed, supposedly by ponies who wanted to preserve some aspect of the original festival and had to work under cover of night to avoid catching any royal attention. The central figure of Nightmare Night is Nightmare Moon, but the way the holiday describes her is just as a made up boogie mare to scare foals into behaving, there had to be more to it so I spent the last six hours trying to find any reference to Nightmare Moon that I could."

"Mhm," Spike replied in a continuing outpouring of the most genuine interest to ever be genuine while stacking some papers that had fallen from a desk in the commotion.

"But it's bafflingly hard to find any mention of her unrelated to Nightmare Night! I was beginning to lose hope, but then I found her again in this...uniquely written book of old legends, specifically in an old story regarding two sisters who used to rule together a thousand years ago. The younger sister transformed into Nightmare Moon and was banished to the moon to prevent her from forcing the world into eternal night. That made me think of the myth of the Mare in the Moon, particularly the part right here where upon the longest day of the thousandth year the stars will bring about her escape! The change to the Summer Sun Celebration, the starting of Nightmare Night, the legend of the two sisters, and the Mare in the Moon; they're directly connected, it just can't all be coincidence!"

"Oh, right," Spike nodded, his most genuine of attentions so sincerely riveted on her theorizing while he focused on straightening some pencils on a lectern.

"The one who ordered the change to the Sunrise Victory Festival must have been the elder sister not wanting to be reminded of what she'd been forced to do that day, and the ponies who started Nightmare Night must have wanted to preserve the knowledge of what happened in a way that would be passed on from generation to generation for a thousand years. Well, it worked, thanks to me!" she concluded triumphantly before turning to see a baby dragon doing everything but listening to her. "Spike, what are you doing? I thought you wanted an explanation!"

"I did...so that you would be talking long enough for me to clean up without you knocking anything else over," he explained as he shifted a lesser reading table to be arranged at a precise ninety degree angle from the nearest bookshelf.

"You know what? Fine, just take a note for the princess!" Twilight ordered curtly before her assistant dutifully grabbed a quill, inkwell, and parchment. She cleared her throat before continuing.

Dear Princess Celestia, it has come to my attention through judicious study of historical and cultural archives that we are a mere sunset away from the utter and complete end of our world as we know it! Upon the stroke of midnight tonight, the evil Nightmare Moon, who had been banished to the moon a thousand years ago by one of your predecessors, will return and ensure that the sun never rises again! An army must be amassed with all due haste to combat the coming of this prophecy, lest the planet be plunged into a winter unending! You are the only one with the political authority to take such measures and I as your faithful student implore you to do the right thing! Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.

"Alright Spike, send it!"

"So wait, you're requesting the most massive military action possible based on folk holidays, storybooks for foals, and a book of prophecies by Neighstradamus which mostly consist of things like, and I quote, 'there will be a day, and upon that day a thing will happen, and it will be of some import to world events'?" Spike interjected.

"Spike send the letter," she deadpanned.

"This is almost as weird as last week when you tried to convince Celestia that there was an empire of technologically advanced subterranean canines that was days from emerging to kill us all," Spike continued while waiting for the ink to dry.

"Send, the letter, Spike," she repeated through grit teeth.

"But that one wasn't nearly as outrageous as last month when you suggested that our entire planet had been relocated for use in some kind of reality destroying super weapo-"

"SEND THE BUCKING LETTER!" she bellowed at the end of her patience.

The baby dragon flinched and spent a few frantic seconds trying to catch the letter he'd almost dropped before hastily rolling it up and breathing green fire upon it, consuming the parchment into a cloud of enchanted ashes that then flew out the window. "Okay okay, sent!"

"Good!" she nodded. "Don't go anywhere, I'm expecting a nearly immediate reply due to the severity of this issue."

"You said that the last ten times and we were-urk!" Spike started before a belch of flame that formed into a reply letter interrupted him.

"Aha, what did I tell you?" she smirked triumphantly before snatching it out of midair and opening it.

My faithful student, it has become increasingly apparent from your near daily proclamations of impending doom and terror that perhaps your vast and expansive intellect would be better served by giving you something to do. To that end, and because I know how much you dearly treasure the holiday, I have selected you to oversee preparations at the site of this year's Summer Sun Celebration in Ponyville. There I hope you will be able to focus your mind, meet some friends, and step outside of this comfort zone in which you have so steadfastly barricaded yourself.

"...oh...it's like that then," Twilight said with a prickly looking frown.

"What did she say?"

"Nevermind what she said Spike, take another letter!" she seethed.

"Uh...you sure you don't want to take a few minutes to cool off first?"

As reasonable a suggestion as it was, Spike only had to look her in the face for a few seconds to get the point that she wanted nothing to do with said suggestion, and also that his soul would potentially be forfeit depending on his next choice of words.

"Right, silly suggestion, I mean why pause when you've probably get a reply fresh in your mind already, you know?"

Possession of soul preserved.

"Exactly! Now-...what are you writing? I didn't even dictate anything yet!" Twilight asked as she noticed Spike scribbling something at the bottom of the page.

"What? No, I'm not writing anything, just making sure the quill doesn't need another dip yet is all!" he explained before smiling awkwardly.

Twilight gave him another few seconds of narrow eyed inspection before taking a breath to begin her dictation.

Oh, my apologies. You see, had you actually been Princess Celestia, leader of all Equestria and most powerful pony I've had the fortune to know, you would've promptly sprung into action to protect your beloved subjects. As you are suggesting I instead simply ignore  the incredible danger soon to rear its ugly head and waste my ubermarensch caliber intellect on organizing a podunk backwater mudpony insult to my favorite holiday, it has become quite apparent to me that there has been a mistake in delivery of the previous message. Should you actually see the sovereign ruler of Equestria who, unlike you, would actually be concerned with the fate of her kingdom, I would very much appreciate if you could inform me as to her whereabouts as there are ever so important matters to discuss.

P.S. THIS IS SPIKE I'M SORRY I ONLY WROTE WHAT SHE TOLD ME TO


"Send it!"

The beleaguered baby dragon sighed and did as requested.

"There, that ought to put a fire under her rump and get us on track to stopping this!"

It took only a few minutes before there was a sharp impact of four gold shod hooves at the front door prior to it being flung open to reveal a towering white alicorn clad in golden royal barding with a long polychromatic mane and tail which both sparkled with the light of the sun as they drifted along in an unseen ethereal breeze.

She looked slightly pissed.

"About time! Now if you're not convinced, I have plenty of evidence to back up my-"

Celestia discontinued her student's explanation by way of magical levitation via nape of her neck.

"Hey! Put me down!" she shouted as her horn lit up in an utterly ineffective attempt to counter the alicorn's grip upon her. Kicking her hooves around yielded similarly futile results.

"Nope, on the chariot, let's go, come on Spike," the princess replied dismissively as she carried her student off like a naughty puppy whilst her assistant followed behind wiping the sweat from his forehead and thanking the stars above that that had not gone any worse.

------{STATIC}------

"What do you think she meant by 'I'm not losing another student to this ubermarensch bullfuckery'?" Spike pondered as the clouds zoomed past them from their seat aboard the royal chariot currently being pulled by two royal guards.

"Regardless of what she meant, what she did is prove herself unfit to lead Equestria, which makes me glad I thought ahead and enchanted a scroll with a spell rigged to cast itself in the event that I'm forced to leave Canterlot, replacing Celestia's mid morning tea with a batch of totally-sweet-ultra-super-happy-fun-flower petal extract that I was saving for just such an occasion!" Twilight replied as she maintained her fixed grump face on the city from which they had departed.

------{STATIC}------

Celestia gave her guards a nod of acknowledgement as they opened the door to her private quarters for her, closing it behind her after she had stepped through. Once inside she pulled off her crown and took a seat on the white sitting cushion at her table, a pot of hot tea awaiting her so that she might have a few moments to relax before returning to the rigors of the day. There was another cushion on the other side of the table colored a dark blue that never seemed to get any use anymore.

Before she could stress about Twilight Sparkle's recent outbursts any further she sighed and poured herself a cup of tea before taking a sip.

...

She smacked her lips a few times with a look of puzzlement on her eyes before taking another sip.

...

She sniffed her cup briefly with an upraised eyebrow and then took another lengthier drink.

...

Her eyes narrowed. "This is not tea."

------{STATIC}------

"Do you really think slipping the leader of our kingdom powerful hallucinogens is a reasonable response to all this? Furthermore, is doing that that then discussing it right behind her guards not kind of dumb?" Spiked pointed out with a nod of his head toward the two pegasus stallions pulling them along.

"Spike, please, if the royal chariot wasn't enchanted to thwart eavesdropping guards I doubt the kingdom would've lasted this long without collapsing beneath security leaks. Furthermore, it'll all be fine, I'm only doing this to discredit her in the eyes of the public so that I can more easily sway them to my side and rally our forces. Hopefully she'll learn something from all this and be a better leader in the future. In the meantime, I'll finish her little foal's errand and then sequester myself in the local library to research my backup plan. I know its been a thousand years, but if the elements of harmony mentioned in the legend are still in working order they'll be an invaluable tool in beating back Nightmare Moon!"

"You're going to spend your first time outside Canterlot in ages reading books alone in a library?" Spike asked as the two royal guards began their final descent into the charming little town below.

"And what's your suggestion?" she snapped back, bracing herself briefly against the slight jostle of their landing before hopping out.

"I don't know, sight see a little, say hi to some ponies, strike up a few conversations? You know, normal stuff," Spike answered with a casual shrug.

"Normal stuff is for normal ponies Spike. I am not a normal pony, and we sure as hay aren't in a normal situation either!" Twilight grumbled as she pointedly examined their list of objectives for the day.

"Seriously Twilight? You can't even so much as say hello to ponies as we pass by? It takes half a second and you might meet somepony nice, fun, or helpful!" he urged her before pointing at a pink pony on the street ahead of them. "Just say hi to one pony, try it on for size!"

Twilight growled and rolled her eyes while putting the list aside and slightly altering course. "For pony's sake Spike, fine. If it'll get you to shut up about it and let us get on with the day I'll do it."

"Great, you won't regret this a bit!" Spike assured her as she trotted over the pink, curly maned, blue eyed mare.

"Uh...hi, I just got here from Canterlot and I was-"

The pink mare gasped in shock and promptly exploded.

Twilight was left standing there before a charred mark on the ground in complete shock with steaming blood and seared bits of meat covering her from head to hoof. The only sound that came out of her mouth was a terrified squeak while her right eye twitched and her ears rang.

...

"Huh, glad I was standing behind you for that one," Spike remarked after a few silent moments.

------{STATIC}------

Twilight pulled her head out of the cool clean running water of the creek and took a deep breath, now certain that the last bits of pink pony splatterings had now been cleaned away. "Now that I've had some time to calm down and get my thoughts together again, you know what the worst part of that was Spike?"

"What?" Spike asked while holding up a towel that was then gripped by her levitation magic.

"Nopony else even reacted. Not a bit! Like a pony exploding is an every day occurrence around here! There's even more wrong with this town than I thought!" she ranted whilst toweling herself off until she was no longer dripping wet.

"Have to agree with you this time, that was nuts," Spike agreed as he grabbed the towel floating toward him and started wringing it out.

"On the bright side, I feel like it can't possibly get worse than exploding ponies, and I'm handling it alright. Perhaps this won't be such a bad thing to get through after all!" she continued, a more confident smile soon replacing her thousand yard stare.

"That's the spirit Twilight!" he cheered.

"Right then, let's go down the check list and finish this so we can save the world!"

"Alright, next stop is the Sweet Apple Acres farm to check on the catering," Spike replied after glancing down at their list.

"Oh. A farm. We're sure starting this at the hillbilliest point we possibly can aren't we?" she remarked, her high spirits deflating a bit as they started on their way.

"Eh it won't be so bad," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand from her side.

"Yeah, probably right," she nodded, managing another softer smile.

------{STATIC}------

"Hey there stranger, what's your name?"

"Nice to meet ya ma'am, welcome to the farm!"

"You're just in time for some mighty fine treats here!"

"Always a pleasure to have a surprise guest!"

"Feel free to take a load off and enjoy some of the famous Apply Family hospitality!"

"SPIKE, DON'T FORGET TO AIM FOR THE HEAD, AND IF ONE BITES ME AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL I TURN TO KILL ME, I'D DO THE SAME FOR YOU!" Twilight shouted from her spot backed up against the barn hopelessly surrounded by friendly country ponies. She and her assistant both held loaded crossbows the unicorn had brought along just for such emergencies. Spike silently rolled his eyes and undid the safety latch on his weapon to let off the tension in the bowstring before it could hurt anypony, looking oddly like this was not his first time in such a situation.

"Whoaaaaa Nelly! C'mon Apples, give a filly a little breathin' room!" said an orange coated, blonde maned, freckle faced pony wearing a brown stetson hat as she pushed through the gathered earth ponies with an amused smile on her face.

"Oh, sorry 'bout that ma'am!"

"Didn't mean to crowd ya' none."

"Now then, allow me to be one more pony to welcome both of ya'll to Sweet Apple Acres! Name's Applejack, what brings ya'll out here to these parts?" the orange mare greeted as her apparent family members gave the purple unicorn some space but still looked quite attentive.

"Oh...uh, right!" Twilight said before sheepishly setting down her crossbow and continuing. "I'm Twilight Sparkle, I was sent by the princess to check on preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration, and according to my list ya'll-you all are handling the catering, so here I am," she explained.

"Well you tell Princess Celestia not to worry none about the caterin', we've got it all well in hoof here, right Apples?" Applejack said proudly.

She was answered with a simultaneous cheer that made Twilight instinctively back against the barn again.

"In fact, why don't ya stay a spell? You can meet the family, and sample some of the dishes we're gonna be servin' up tonight and tomorrow. Why ah bet it'll be just what ya need to let off some of that uh...stress...you're havin' there," she suggested while none too subtly nudging the crossbow away from Twilight with her hoof.

"What? Absolutely not, we have far too many important things to do today!" Twilight declined firmly with a frown and stomp of her hoof.

"In that case, at least let me introduce the family, they'll be happy to meet ya properly without all the...cornerin'...and potentially deadly crossbowin'...while implying we're zombies just because we as a family are very friendly to everypony," she insisted, the offer becoming a bit awkward near the end.

"Um...why? I'm probably going to forget all your names minutes after leaving the property anyway, what good will wasting time like that actually do...any...pony..."

At that moment a tall, well muscled, handsome looking stallion strode into view around the side of the barn effortlessly pulling a cart loaded down with barrels full of apples. His coat was red, his mane and cropped tail orange, and he wore the collar of a workhorse, casually chewing on a sprig of wheat as he worked. Twilight's eyes widened and she craned her neck to get a better view around Applejack, a slight blush coloring her cheeks.

"Nevermind please introduce me to your family!" she blurted out suddenly.

"Well alrighty then!" Applejack replied, happy to oblige. "This here filly's mah little sister Applebloom," she began, patting the head of a little yellow red maned filly with a bow in her air that had just trotted her way over.

"Howdy!"

"And that back there's mah big brother Big McIntosh, we just call him Big Mac." She turned to look at the stallion in question and waved her hoof. "Hey Big Mac, come on over here'n say hi to Twilight Sparkle!"

He unhitched himself from the cart and then strode over to them, regarding Twilight with a soft smile and a nod. "Ma'am."

Before she could stop herself, Twilight giggled like a little school filly but then stopped herself, turning beet red for a moment before straightening her posture and clearing her throat. "Um, hi," she replied in the smoothest of manners.

Applejack proceeded to rattle off a list of apple related names that the purple unicorn could not have possibly cared less about while she made eyes at her brother who took one look at her and then sighed in a very 'not this shit again' fashion.

"-Caramel Apple, Apple Crisp, and Apple Tart!" Applejack finally concluded.

"Would ya like to stay for brunch?" Applebloom offered with a beaming smile as she looked up at Twilight.

"Nah, Twilight's got a lot on her plate today already Applebloom," her big sister interjected with a soft shake of her head.

"Actually, if your biiiiiig brother is going to be there, I wouldn't mind staying for brunch I'm just stuffed to the brim, if you know what I mean," Twilight corrected as she sidled close to Big Mac and batted her eyelashes at him ever so subtly.

"Eeeyup," he replied with another nod.

------{STATIC}------

"Urp! That is not what I meant at all," the large bellied, pie laden pony groaned as she trudged along on the way to their next destination.

"Why did you keep eating so many pies if you didn't want that many?" Spike asked, looking up from his list.

"Because if I had recanted my acceptance of their hospitality, those redneck ponies would've become irrationally offended and we would've been stuck in some horrid Hills Have Chainsaw Massacres scenario! I did what I had to in order to get us out of there!" she explained before her cheeks briefly puffed out from another restrained burp.

"Oh, my hero," the baby dragon snickered in reply.

"What do they even do with so many calories?! Ugh, this would never have happened if Celestia hadn't taken away my can of defensive disinfectant. How can she expect me to carry out her orders if I'm constantly anxious because of germs?"

"Pfft, come on Twilight, I know you're not a germaphobe. You make fun of ponies who are for not understanding how an immune system works! The only reason you carry that can around is because the water bottle spray wasn't working and the princess wouldn't allow you to buy a can of pepper spray!"

"Ugh, buck it I don't care anymore, what's next on the list?"

"Checking how the weather will be tonight and tomorrow. We need to get in touch with the head of the local weather management, she's a pegasus named Rainbow Dash," he answered, reading from the notes he'd brought along.

"Great, so, from the ground, we have to find the one pegasus in this town who could actually be miles away from here dealing with potentially interfering weather patterns. This is going to take hours!" she complained seconds before a rainbow colored streak came out of nowhere and struck her with sufficient velocity to kick up dirt and debris in all directions and leave them both at the bottom of a six foot deep crater.

"Wow...two for two on standing in the right spots today!" Spike proclaimed victoriously before looking behind him, pondering if he should look into the crater.

"Woops, heh, that trick went a bit wrong, thanks for breaking my fall though!" came an unfamiliar voice.

It was answered by the sound of a unicorn throwing up.

"Ah! Ew! Eeeeew! What the hay is wrong with you, it's all over me!"

"OH DID I VOMIT ON YOU AFTER YOU SLAMMED INTO ME AT MACH 'HOLY SHIT' AND BROKE THREE OF MY LEGS AND ASSORTED OTHER BONES?! I'M SO SORRY FOR YOUR INCONVENIENCE!"

Spike decided to stay right there, not looking into the crater.

------{STATIC}------

"Can we go back to the exploding pony? At least she didn't give me bulimia nervosa and break my everything," Twilight whined as they approached the town hall, covered in various bandages and casts with her assistant pushing her along in a wheelchair.

"I'll admit, this has been way harder than I thought it would be...on you...but we're getting near the end of the list, and the hospital will have that healing crystal charged for you in an hour or two. Plus, we're checking on decorations next! How dangerous could a decorator pony be?" he reasoned as he pushed her inside.

"Spike, I'm just about convinced that you saying everything is going to be okay is having some weird quantum observer effect on reality and ensuring that everything turns out not okay, so stop trying to reassure me and leave me to at least be cynical enough to see it coming!"

...

"Spike?" Twilight looked behind her to see Spike staring wide eyed at something on the other end of the room, following his enraptured gaze to a white coated unicorn mare with a stylish blue mane and tail fussing over various bows and ribbons.

"She's...so beautiful," Spike said whilst hearts appeared around his head.

"Okay cut that out right now young dragon, you are far too young and...dragony to be looking at a mare that way!" she scolded after looking back at him again.

"There, perfect!" the white unicorn chirped in satisfaction before turning to the two visitors. "Can I help you with someth-waaahaha!" she cried out, recoiling at the sight of the purple mare in such unbecoming white gauze. "What happened to you?!"

"It's a long story that I'd rather not recount right now. So how soon can we expect the decorations to-ack!" A blue magic aura took hold of her wheelchair handles and turned her around before hurrying her out the door toward a nearby boutique. "What are you doing?!"

"Rescuing you from looking hideous darling!"

------{STATIC}------

"Um, this looks nice I guess, but why did you take off my casts and bandages...and put makeup on my bruises?" Twilight asked uneasily as she floated in front of a full length mirror.

"Do I even need to explain how they would clash with this saddle? My goodness, for a pony with such delightful color composition you are frightfully lacking in a good fashion sense. Fortunately for you, you ran into me!" Rarity answered cheerfully as she secured the last strap of the outfit then nodded in approval before lowering Twilight to the ground. "There, magnifique! Now, what were you trying to say earlier darling?"

"I was trying to-" the magical aura vanished as Twilight's hooves touched the ground and she let out a piteous cry of pain as her broken legs immediately buckled under the weight. "AAAAAAAH FOR BUCK'S SAKE WHYYYYY?!"

"You know what? I was wrong, emeralds are not in season at all. I'll go find you some rubies!" Rarity said before galloping off to her workshop.

"SPIKE, FOR LOVE OF GODDESS, DRAG ME OUT OF HERE OR SOMETHING!" Twilight begged as her benevolent tormentor dashed out of sight.

"I have never liked watching a mare walk away more than I do right now. Those...diamonds," Spike rambled as though in a trance as his eyes sparkled in wonderment.

"FINE THEN, BLOWIN' THE DAILY!" She closed her eyes, straining as a particularly bright aura emanated from her horn, gathering intensity until at last she, her dragon, and every nearby loose object disappeared and blinked back into existence on the other end of town in the emergency room of the local hospital thanks to her Teleport All spell.

------{STATIC}------

"Aaaah, it's good to be able to walk again!" She had an extra bounce in her step now, even letting Spike have a ride on her back as they made their way to their last mandated stop of the day. "Those healing crystals are amazing!"

"Yeah, and I'm sure that terminally ill mother of three will last another week while they recharge it," Spike added cheerfully.

"Well when she is also an incredibly gifted ubermarensch student of Princess Celestia like myself, then she can get first dibs on vital medical care too. Now keep an eye out for that mare in charge of the choir."

They continued along the path outside of town until reaching an intersection that surrounded a central raised patch of grass with a single tree. There, a yellow coated pegasus with a long pink mane and tale was conducting a small flock of songbirds who, aside from one particularly out of tune blue jay, were united  in a wonderful melody.

"Oh, um, excuse me, sir? I don't mean to be nit picky or offensive or distracting or irritating or needy or inconvenient or overly critical, but you're just a tiny bit off in-"

"Birds?! The leader of all Equestria is coming and your choir is just a bunch of filthy birds?!" Twilight shouted in exasperation after taking in the sight.

The pegasus squeaked in terror before whirling around and spraying the purple unicorn in the face with a can of pepper spray, the dragon on her back managing to jump off just in time to avoid it. Twilight immediately screamed in agony and collapsed to the ground, clutching at her eyes as her back legs kicked about. "Oh my goodness I'm so sorry I thought you were one of those creepy stalker ponies I keep selectively reading about at the exclusion of all other news articles!" the pegasus mare gushed in apology after dropping the spray can.

"THIS IS WHAT I WANTED TO DO TO PONIES?! AAAAAUGH I FEEL LIKE I DESERVE THIS NOW!" Twilight cried out in an oddly timed moment of empathy and self clarity whilst writhing in the dirt.

------{STATIC}------

"I think...I think I can see now," she said shakily, blinking her bloodshot and glistening eyes after having spent a good half hour getting help from Spike to wash her eyes out with the water hose outside of the local library.

"Good, had me worried there for a sec'." He dropped the hose then turned the nearby valve shut and helped her back to her hooves. "Don't be too mad at Fluttershy, she's really not so bad, just shy and a bit high strung about...well, everything."

"Yeah that'll really help me feel better if I have permanent vision defects because of this," she replied sarcastically as they walked into the pitch black dark of the library. "That was an ordeal. The faster we get things handled and get the buck out of here the faster we can start petitioning to have this entire place leveled and replaced with...I don't know a parking lot? Shopping mall? Anything else would probably either not hurt me at all or at least kill me quickly so I don't suffer so much, and the world would be rid of a bunch of overly attached ponies that are absolutely insane. Now did I go blind or did you just not hit the light switch yet Spike?"

The light flipped on and Twilight Sparkle was suddenly looking at a crowd of ponies that had been there in the darkness the entire time, now glaring at her with severe disapproval. Twilight went wide eyed and started silently backing away toward the door, only to be cut off from escape by a familiar pink pony popping up out of nowhere.

"SURPRIIIIIIISE!" she shouted before throwing confetti and blowing a party horn. Twilight backed away much more quickly now, mouth hanging open aghast at the sight.

"Didn't you EXPLODE?!" the unicorn asked in complete shock.

"Yeah I do that sometimes!"

------{STATIC}------

"And now you have friends!" Pinkie Pie concluded her ramble as Twilight reached the base of the stairs, having honestly not been listening to a single word of that long winded outpouring of consciousness.

"Sounds like ya'll just had a bad day sugarcube, ah been there plenty mahself so I know how ya feel," Applejack said sympathetically. "Yah didn't really act all that friendly though..."

"She barfed on me!" Rainbow Dash added as the only point she felt she needed to make.

"She didn't let me finish her outfit properly and it's been bothering me all day!" Rarity pouted.

"I um...I don't mean to be rude or anything, or hurt anypony's feelings, or impose on anypony, but um...well, if it's okay with you, my birds would really like an apology for you calling them dirty...and um, implying they were unworthy of royalty," Fluttershy managed to squeak out from her place hiding beneath her own mane.

...

"What a bitch!" some random unseen pony in the audience remarked.

"Lots of friends!" Pinkie Pie repeated obliviously.

"You know what? You can all just buck off and kiss the sparkliest part of my ass! If you had any idea what I was trying to save you from you would all bow down to kiss my bucking hooves and like it! Not even the princess is trying to do what I'm trying to do! So here I am trying to save the entire world all by myself, and all you ponies can do is constantly get in my bucking way and act all creepy and intrusive then expect me to act grateful?! I don't want a bucking thing to do with any of you! So just leave me the hay alone and let me save your lowly undeserving asses so I can go back home and then we'll never have to put up with each other again!" Twilight snarled angrily, pausing for a few moments to catch her breath before turning and storming up the stairs.

------{STATIC}------

"WHY...ARE THEY STILL...HERE?" Twilight seethed as she again attempted to drown out the music below by covering her ears with a pair of pillows. Her search for knowledge after having escaped upstairs had been fruitless, all the books in the library were completely out of order, she couldn't find anything in the slightest!

Spike then made things even better by bursting through the door wearing a lampshade on his head and holding a cup of something as he staggered into the room. "Twilight! Oh my god Twilight! You have to...you have to come down stairs! It's...SO awesome! Like the...awesomest! I've been talking with Rarity like...all night and stuff, and I think she is waaaaaaay into me!"

------{STATIC}------

Rarity sighed in irritation as she tossed away yet another napkin on which Spike had drawn a heart and written her name inside of it.

"Heh, ah think ya got a new suitor there Rarity," Applejack teased.

"Oh really? Thank goodness you were here to notice Applejack, because as you know, I am just a complete stranger to the revolting and frankly insulting attention of a lesser male," Rarity replied with a roll of her eyes.

------{STATIC}------

"Plus Applejack brought over this...also awesome stuff!" he slurred further while holding up his glass and hiccuping. "I am...I am so wasted right now you don't even know!" Spike promptly lost what remaining balance he had and hit the floor with a second hiccup. Twilight raised an eyebrow then jumped out of bed, trotted over, and sniffed the glass in his claw before her curious look reverted to a blank stare.

"Spike this is plain apple cider."

"You're plain apple cider!" he shot back in a cunning display of unparalleled wit.

------{STATIC}------

"Hey remember that time you were like 'hi' and then I exploded?!" Pinkie Pie babbled away whilst Twilight stood amongst the crowd gathered to greet Princess Celestia and the coming of the dawn.

"Yes. I remember. In great detail. In fact I'm going to need therapy before I stop constantly remembering it," Twilight grumbled as she looked around nervously. The appointed hour of the world's doom was approaching and she was the only pony yet to worry even the slightest bit about it. She released a slow exhalation to try and calm her nerves. "You know what...maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I am seeing connections where there aren't any and stressing myself out to the point of insulting an entire town for no good reason. Perhaps the best course of action is to let go and just enjoy the rest of the holiday...if at all possible."

She happened to glance out at the window at just the right moment to see four stars twinkle and then move behind the moon before the pattern of craters forming the shape of a menacing pony head vanished.

"That's probably fine," she said to herself wide eyed before the mayor appeared onstage to kick things off.

"Fillies and gentlecolts, as mayor of Ponyville, it is my great pleasure to announce the beginning of the Summer Sun Celebration!" The assembled ponies responded with an enthusiastic cheer. "In just a few moments, our town will witness the magic of the sunrise, and celebrate this, the longest day of the year! And now, it is my great honor to introduce to you the ruler of our land, the very pony who gives us the sun and the moon each and every day, the good, the wise, the bringer of harmony to all of Equestria..." Fluttershy's birds began chirping their song of greeting. "...Princess Celestia!"

Rarity opened the curtain to display nothing but an overwhelmingly severe lack of princess, a sight which prompted to crowd to give a collective gasp of alarm. She trotted past the curtains back stage, only to return moments later with a worried expression on her face. "She's gone!"

At that moment on the main stage, a blue haze started to gather and then darken. A chill filled the room as tiny points of light blinked into being in the growing mass. Within, a silhouette of pure black took shape, forming into a towering alicorn whose bat-like wings then spread open, parting the veil to reveal the terrifying form of an evil mare of darkness clad in dark blue armor, the mane surrounding her a field of stars both magnificent and terrifying. What had started as a chill quickly progressed to an icy grip around every present heart as the nightmare creature before them spoke.

"Oh, my beloved subjects. It's been so long since I've seen your precious, little sun-loving faces."

...

"YEAH! WHO CALLED IT?! WHO BUCKING CALLED IT?!" Twilight whooped with vindicated joy while rearing up on her hind legs and pointing at herself.

------{TO BE CONTINUED}------
Ruined Forever S1E1
And so it came to pass that last year's April Fools joke actually became a thing, and lo', it just so happened that the premiere day of season 5 was the finest day to release it! Prepare thyselves o' ye readership, for references shall be made shamelessly, jokes years old shall be resurrected and made into a shambling shell of their former glories, and continuity shall be enforced with no consistency what so ever!

Also since this is a story version of my episode blogs I'll be adding personal commentary about the parodied episodes as I go, though since this is a two parter I'll save that bit for the end of the next chapter. Hope you enjoy it, and a Happy Season 5 to you all!
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So as was seen on Tumblr I am somewhat excited for the new Doom game that Bethesda finally showed off to everyone on Sunday night this past week. Initial hype levels were huge, as this looked like the type of new Doom game I've wanted ever since Doom 3 turned into a pure survival horror affair which, in my opinion, shot it's longevity in the foot. However, I didn't want to do any writing on it at that point quite yet because it would've been nothing but slathering nerd joy and nostalgia stroking. In the days that have since passed, I have tempered by extreme enthusiasm for this coming title with differing opinions I've read online, which vary from useful and well considered ("The footage we were shown doesn't exactly show the fast game play we were promised and the enemy design we've seen gives me some concerns as to their art direction") to...not so useful and well considered ("WHY ISN'T THIS LITERALLY JUST THE OLD DOOM ENGINE FROM 1993 WITH 3D GRAPHICS FUCK YOU BETHESDA I HOPE YOU ALL GET THROWN OFF A CLIFF AND EXPLODE!") It hasn't done anything to dampen my spirits over all, but it did give me a few things to think about and discuss that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. I debated separating this in a "pros and cons" fashion, but it'd be a lot easier to organize my thoughts into individual categories so here we go!

A Good Call
I again emphasize that I feel really positive in regards to this new Doom game despite some of the reservations I'm about to lay out below. For starters, id has made a great decision by taking the focus away from the horror aspects and turning their attention on Doom as a an action game. Scares and horror can be a great first hook for a game, but the thing about scares and horror is that they only last so long. Even after the first scare moment, you're desensitizing the player to them by making them anticipate them, which to be fair if you're building atmosphere at all you were probably doing already. By the time the game is over the player will at best now remember where your scares are, and at worst will have already long grown tired of them via repetition. I mean come on, is there anyone that was actually still surprised by the whole "encounter room full of stuff, then monsters teleport in or emerge from newly opened monster closets when you pick the stuff up" routine by the end of Doom 3? The blade on scares only gets more dulled as time goes on until the experienced player stops reacting to them at all. You need something under those scares to keep players hooked. For Silent Hill it was deciphering the story and symbolic imagery. For Doom it was the combat that nailed it so god damn hard that people are still swearing by it over two decades later, and trying to appeal to the aspect that gave it so much longevity is the right choice.

Healthy Consideration
There is no modern trend in shooters more distinctly anti old school than an invisible health bar that regenerates after not taking damage for a sufficient length of time. That the new Doom will buck this trend was pretty much expected, but it didn't exactly go all the way back to making you scavenge for health packs. At times, slain enemies will drop health items, although the method by which the game determines whether or not an enemy will do so eludes me as of yet. On principle, I'm all for a method of regaining health that incentivizes fighting and killing enemies instead of hiding...but if this isn't handled carefully it might not be any better than regenerating health as far as giving you good reason to move and pick targets intelligently to avoid as much damage as possible. If the drops come too generously or predictably it will encourage sloppy play because what do you care when the next imp you drop is going to refill your health bar?
But...in the end I still kind of like the idea better than scavenging for health kits, what with all of its old style awkwardness of bringing the combat to a screeching halt in order to backtrack and look for them, and moving carefully around them lest you mistakenly use that 25 HP restoring health kit on 2 points of damage when you slightly graze it with an ankle. If they make enemies drop health in a sparing and unpredictable enough manner, it ought to work out fine to discourage recklessness and still keep things moving.

Punching Up
Weapons in an action game should be made aesthetically fun to shoot, and the original Doom games had this one down from the sounds each weapon made while firing and reloading to the way enemies reacted to getting shot. Doom 3 had it half right in that the weapons sounded awesome while handling them (dat shotgun noise when racking a round :D) but then kind of...didn't when firing them (dat shotgun popgun noise when you fire that round you just racked in D:). From what we've seen, the new Doom's weapons may well continue this tradition, since the shotgun and plasma rifles both came off feeling kind of weak. But, I'm not about to call things ruined forever just yet. The devs have a year to alter stuff like this in a future build, and aside from that, we saw a stage demo where they were probably more concerned with showing off executions than they were with demonstrating the most efficient use of weaponry.
I do have a more concrete point of concern though in that the shotgun seems to be the new starting weapon though. The shotgun in the original Doom is legendary people. No Doom game should have a shotgun occupying the same space as the lowly pistol that you only used because you hadn't found a chainsaw, chaingun, or berserker pack yet. If it's an issue of useless weapon pruning, then make a useful pistol instead of demoting the pump action perforator! Maybe something that doesn't do much raw damage, but has an increased chance to briefly stagger enemies when used on weak spots like knees or the head, emphasizing its nature as a last resort side arm by making it best used as an opener to a risky hands on execution!

Monster Mash
Whether by sound or sight, I guarantee you a seasoned Doom player will recognize what monster they're up against within a second of it spotting them, if not instantly. That is very important, because in a game that's throwing a bunch of different monsters at you really fast, your ability to identify and counter threats is what keeps you from having to reload another quicksave while your marine is busy laying down for his virtual dirt nap. Some of the new Doom enemy designs that were shown off Sunday night worry me a bit because they looked generic enough to blend together in the heat of the moment, and yet others were perfect in how instantly recognizable they were. Those green lights on the Mancubus really make it stand out, there's no way you'll miss the gangly Revenant, and even though we got a fraction of a second's look at the new Pink Demon that fraction of a second's look was enough. If the dev team can make every monster as easy to pick out as those, we'll be just fine.
On another note, I don't really hate the new Cyberdemon per se, but I agree with those that say it looks a bit too much like something out of a Blizzard game. I don't know how much they can feasibly change it at this point, but I'd prefer it be a bit thinner, taller, and go back to having the good ol' demonic goat legs.

Executive Branch
"How do we beat the Gears of War curb stomp?"
...
"What if we curb stomped them with their own foot instead?"
I really hope that exact conversation took place in an id brainstorming session because god damn it yes. The executions look great and I'm sure I'll enjoy performing them to see what other ridiculously gory shit I can do to hell's cannon fodder. I worry somewhat that they'll get a bit tiresome if I'm allowed to do them too often though, because it would be a shame if things got to a point where I would rather not curb stomp someone with their own foot out of sheer boredom with it. I also hope you're not invincible while performing these executions, as I could see chaining them together becoming easily exploitable. Being vulnerable while tearing a demon apart would also be a nice compliment to potentially increasing the amount of stuff it drops, making it a somewhat risky choice that you'd likely want to save for the final straggler or two if you could help it.
My one big issue with the executions is that full body shimmer on vulnerable enemies. I hate it. It won't keep from buying the game if it remains unchanged for release, but I still hate it. Reeling enemies could easily be picked out by animation alone, or, if they absolutely must have some kind of visible "kill this thing" cue, the marine is clearly wearing a fancy combat helmet. Instead of a full body shimmer why not have monsters that are down but not out get tagged with a symbol designed such that it is obviously an element of your helmet's HUD? There are more creative solutions than just "MAKE THE THING FLASH!"

Original Nightmares
"Is that wall made of skin? What the hell kind of creature has a spine that long? Is that thing pulsing? Is it just my eyes fucking with me or is that impaled guy still alive and twitching? What purpose does this beating heart on the altar serve? Where did all this blood come from? Is this scrolling wall behind a cage made entirely of stretched faces?"
I think it wouldn't be a stretch to say that some of the most hellish looking levels of Doom were my first taste of nightmare architecture. They were made to facilitate gameplay, not serve any practical purpose, so you wound up having layouts that were complete nonsense which only added to the unnerving quality of the scenery. Without a doubt, the taste I formed for labyrinthine grotesquery playing Doom as a kid lead to my affinity for surreal horror, an itch that was later scratched by a world of blood, rust, and darkness. We've only seen a single part of two levels that might not even make it to the final game, but whatever they do, I hope it escalates to some truly horrific settings that make their executions look tame in comparison, and I hope they're that old fashioned style of non-linear gameplay-centric arrangement which hasn't been seen in quite a while.
As for the yellow filter that has already been pointed out and derided…yeah I could definitely live without it just to let the colors of the environment pop a bit more. Then again, the first foundry looking level had molten hot steel being poured everywhere, and the hell level had a sky overcast with what I can reasonably assume was clouds of sulfur, so the filter in those settings does at least make a bit of sense…but yeah, still want it gone. Minor issue overall though, not a deal breaker for me.
Edit: Apparently those weren’t filters so much as they were dynamic lighting from objects in the level and the environment. As has been pointed out, areas in the first foundry level away from the molten metal do not have the ‘filter’, and there are flashes of lightning in the hell level that overpower the ambient yellow lighting from the sulfuric overcast!

Speed is a Hell of a Drug
The marine in new Doom clearly moves faster and more capably than most recent modern FPS characters, though not to the speed of a pro Quake 3 death match as I've been made to believe some would prefer. I must have been playing Doom differently than them because I never remember pin point aerial maneuvering at mach speed being necessary to progress through the levels. Plenty of movement was needed, yeah, but it wasn't some insane cirque du soleil of death at hyper speed. Are people basing their opinion on the new Doom being too slow on a comparison to the original games or to the crazy modded levels they've played over the years? Furthermore, are they making the assumption that the stage demo meant to show off the graphics and executions is as fast as it gets?
Oh, and then there's the weapon wheel that slows time while the player makes a decision. This never struck me as anything but an optional feature primarily for console players, and it's already been confirmed that players can swap weapons in real time sans weapon wheel at the press of a button just like in the old days if they wish.

In Conclusion
I am pretty god damn stoked to play this game when it comes out next year. The team behind it clearly has the right idea and little touches like imitating bits of scenery from the original games, using the old door noises, and the Mancubus falling apart just like the old Doom 2 death animation really go a long way to win me over. Will it supplant the originals? Fuck no, nothing will do that. It is literally impossible to outdo over twenty years of memories formed around one of the most influential games of all time and I don't expect that. All I want is a fun game that maintains the spirit of the original while bucking most of the modern sensibilities that have contributed to so many recent shooters feeling like nothing but slightly interactive action flicks, and from the look of things so far I'll be getting what I want out of it.

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:iconladyleomon:
LadyLeomon Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Filmographer
Hi Brony17! I loved the original Silent Ponyville and the sequels, I'm loving Silent Ponyville Reunion even more now! Just checking are you still continuing it in the future? I'm dying from giddiness imagining Lance when he finds out Posey made Fluttershy do what she did! I'm imagining the Marie/Maria from Silent Hill 2, they looked so similar but we're total opposites ... So which one is Lance with?

Just knowing you'll continue it one day is enough to get me through the days until the next chapter. Amazing work ^_^
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:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Rest assured I do intend to finish it, and am glad you enjoyed reading it!

And I'm not telling anyone plot details, because what fun would that be? ;)
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:iconladyleomon:
LadyLeomon Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Filmographer
I'm so glad it is still in progress thank you ^_^

i'm just guessing at what could happen, he keeps reliving memories so if he relives that last day ... Oh I'm gonna love it!

Thanks for your time and thanks again for writing an awesome story with creepy/cool monsters, I especially love the Monarch

Laters ^_^

P.S May I make a small request? I know multiple endings are commonplace with SP fanfics, may I ask you do an ending like Silent Hill 2's ending with the Dog? I laughed till my face hurt seeing Harry having a nervous breakdown over knowing the dang dog did it all! If not thanks for listening :)
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:iconcidersplice:
CiderSplice Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2015  Professional General Artist
+fav Thanks
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:iconxeno-the-hedgehog:
Xeno-the-Hedgehog Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It would seem that you haven't posted anything in several months.  Are you alright?
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:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2014
I'm still here, and I'm planning for October to be a busy month here.
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:icongodzillabadger:
godzillabadger Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanx for the fave! :)
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:iconcheshiretwilight:
CheshireTwilight Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav: :iconthumbsupplz:
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:icondereliict:
Dereliict Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013
hey bro! i love your writing and i cannot wait for the next installment of Reunion

another thing though, you need to let EqD know that you have indeed updated your stories, cause i tried letting them know that you have had several installments since the last update on there, but they need the author to directly contact them.

you'll get quite an extreme boost in viewership if you do ^^
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:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013
I've been trying.  I would send them an email containing a link to each new chapter and thus far they haven't done anything to update the page since part 21 came out.  If you'll notice, the EQD page for Silent Ponyville hasn't updated at all, still showing Silent Ponyville 3 part 7 as the latest chapter of that story even though Sam recently put up part 11.  We both kind of gave up on getting them to post it and decided we would just try again when our stories were completely done.  I don't know what the issue is.  :(

But if they bothered to respond to you I suppose I could try sending them links to chapters 22 through 26 again.
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