Alternate POV Series: Discord World War.
Written by James Sylar (myself) with the help of Drake Epsilon and Astum Legancy.
Edited by Louis Badalament.
Idea original by Alex Warlorn.
MLP: FIM is owned by Hasbro (?).
Loyalty’s chords. Part 4.
*Unofficial Opening Song: Key plus words by Shihoko Hirata*
"Don't worry; we've all got your back, Cruel. Even Shy." Rainbow said, in an attempt to make me feel better.
"Remember that what you saw yesterday was only a really bad dream and nothing more," Added my mother, inside our head.
If not for her, I might've told Rainbow about my nightmare, then and there.
I came out from a sea of darkness, and was blinded by a powerful light. Squinting through the brightness, I could make out a large silhouette.
"Rise and shine, my dear. It's time for you to do what you are meant to do."
"Yes, my princess. It's I, Discord, the awesomest spirit of chaos and disharmony ever, and getting awesomer with each passing second. And you, dear, are…"
"Flutter… cruel…" I spoke automatically.
"Exactly, my precious daughter. Now, it's time… to be cruel!"
I wanted to run away, to howl a big -NO!-, or even scream the way my mother does, but I didn't. Instead, I laughed. I WANTED to be cruel, to be evil! Be Cruel to be Kind? That's nonsense! And not even the fun kind that delights my Father!
Better to Be Cruel for the sake of Being Cruel!
I'm very happy that my mother can only see my dreams SOMETIMES, as opposed to EVERY time... because it would've been horrendous for us both, had she witnessed what I then proceeded to do for the remainder of that nightmare…
Falling out of bed was what awoke me, my head smacking against the cold floor. And when I rose to a stand, the first thing my eyes opened on was a mirror on the wall. I swear: my reflection showed the evilest grin imaginable still on my face.
Now I owe Mother a mirror.
As I said, I'm glad Mother didn't see my dream for herself. Still, I told her what happened. Just a few small details I left unmentioned. For decency's sake.
"Honey, it's okay, I know you better than anyone, and I know the real you would not be capable of doing such things."
"Thank you, Mother," I thought back at her. Smiling a bit, I redirected my attention to the outside world.
"Thank you, Rainbow." I spoke aloud.
"That's what friends are for, I guess."
Both of them were right. I wasn't a monster, and I could trust my friends as much as they trusted me. We will go through all of this together.
"Oh, Darlings, you were here already?" the very familiar voice of Rarity asked. She and several other ponies were coming through the door.
"Were you looking for us?" replied Rainbow.
"Yes. I'd prefer all of us to be together when I tell Octavia about our mission." said Twilight "But we're still missing Pinkie."
"Well, she IS already inside." I said, pointing at our pastry maker friend through the big window.
Twilight sighed. "Well, I suppose we've delayed enough. Time we tell the new girl…"
"...And now that I've explained, in painstaking detail, all the risks to which you'll be exposed are you sure you want to join us in battle?"
"Yes." Tavie answered seriously.
"Allow me to ask again, are you completely certain that-"
"Twilight, darling, it's the fifth time you've asked; and she hasn't changed her mind," interrupted Rarity.
"I know, but still, Octavia... that bit I'd mentioned about the potential for dismemberment and loss of sanity... maybe I ought to clarify how..."
"I fully understand the dangers and I'm willing to go with you. However, I have one condition; Vinyl has to come with me."
"WHAT?!" Rainbow Dash jumped in surprise, her wings flapping to keep her in the air. "Don't even think about it!"
"It's too dangerous!" intervened Fluttershy. "We must involve as few ponies as possible!"
"Darling, you have to think about the wellbeing of your friend, here. Canterlot is where Vinyl will be safest."
"If she doesn't go, neither do I. Simple as that."
Rainbow seemed ready to explode. "How can you live with yourself?! Treating the safety of the world and your friend like... like we were in some kind of dice game! Aren't you the holder of the Element of Loyalty?!"
"If Loyalty choose me, it must have its reasons. Regardless, I'm not budging on this matter. Having this Element doesn't automatically force me to be loyal to EVERYPONY. My loyalty is strongest to ponies who've earned my trust. Not to be rude... but the six of you just aren't there yet."
"How can you not trust us?! We saved the frigging world at least three times!!!" yelled Rainbow. Applejack and Twilight had to grab the pegasus before she pounced upon Octavia... who was still resting upon her bed.
"Rainbow, wait!" said Pinkie, "I think that what she means is once she comes to know us, we'll all become friends, and then she'll be able to trust us... right?"
Octavia nodded with her head slowly.
"And if you think about it, it just fits with how the Elements work! After all, the six of us didn't START saving the world until AFTER we all became friends! Why should it be any different for Octavia?"
Twilight close her eyes for a few seconds, remembering when Celestia first sent her to Ponyville.
"Forcing a friendship is useless, it has to grow naturally." whispered Applejack, more to herself than to her friends.
"And that's another reason to bring Vinyl, she's an excellent mediator! She helped me and Octavia to overcome our awkward zone!" Pinkie insisted.
"Fine! Bring her! One more tourist aboard our cozy little leisure cruise! The more, the merrier! But when Vinyl's hurled into a lava pit or whatever, don't you DARE come crying to me!"
After that outburst, Rainbow Dash wouldn't look Octavia in the eye, and needed several seconds of deep breathing to regain her calm.
"I think we're forgetting someone," Rarity said, looking directly at me.
I have to admit that I felt a little nervous. Was it right for me to join them? Would I turn into a burden? And if I ended up hurt or worse? Tavie would feel guilty. But then I looked at my best friend, and all my doubts were gone.
"Very well." Twilight sighed.
"But we'll expect you to carry your own weight, Vinyl," added Trixie, eyeing the other unicorn's horn. "Are you well-versed in combat magic? Healing spells? Anything of that nature?"
"I just know some sound-based stuff, like amplification, plus a few light-show tricks." Vinyl admitted, shame-faced.
"A fellow showpony, huh?" Trixie mused.
"Oh!" Vinyl remembered. "And a spell that lures things from far away!"
Her horn lit up. After a few seconds, a violin levitated through the open window. Trixie huffed a little, looking at Rarity and Twilight.
"Well, between the three of us, maybe we can give you a decent crash course in self-defense spells and such. That way, you're not COMPLETELY helpless on the battlefield."
The DJ's face shone with a smile. "Thanks a lot! I won't let you down!"
"Well, glad that that's settled!" spoke Twilight. "But time is of the essence. We'll need to meet up with the Princesses in an hour and 23 minutes in the room next to the east tower. Girls, if there's anything you might need from this place, grab it now, because we'll be heading to the city right after that."
"B-but Twilight!" I interrupted in shock. "Octavia and Vinyl haven't recovered yet! Couldn't we wait a little longer?"
"Pinkie, the fate of Equestria is in our hooves. What if Discord already knows that a full second set of Elements of Harmony exists?"
Trixie gave a shiver. "He'll try to hunt down the remaining Element Holders... and corrupt them."
Rarity looked around the room, taking a head count. "Fluttercruel is Kindness, Trixie is Magic, and Octavia is Loyalty. That leaves Generosity, Honesty, and Laughter."
"But...!" Pinkie began in worry.
"It's okay, Pinkie," came the pacifying voice of Octavia. "I just hurt my head slightly. I can walk it off. And Vinyl is too stubborn to keep still, anyways."
"Gosh, Tavie, you flatter me." Vinyl said with a blush.
The meeting concluded not long afterwards, and everypony split up to pack what she'd need for the journey. Part of me wanted to run off and get cooking ingredients, because while the princesses promised us supplies for the trip, I was absolutely sure that didn't included the amount of cupcakes, pancakes and muffins recommended for a healthy diet. But I didn't want to leave our two newest members, who were in WAY over their heads.
Discord could still appear at any moment.
"Don't worry, Pinkie, I'll hold the fort." Applejack said, almost as she had read my mind.
Oh! It's true, she has that thing with the truth!
"Thanks a lot!" I said, dashing off. The plan was simple: run at top speed to the kitchen, pack all that was necessary and leave it at the meeting site before coming back to Octavia, Vinyl, and AJ. Wouldn't be more than 3 minutes, tops.
Unfortunately, there was something I didn't take something into account.
I packed too much and, on my way back, I ended up getting stuck in one of the palace hallways, even though the ceiling was very high.
"I truly believe this a bad idea..." whispered Shy.
"Darling, remember the Discordian Army and the Harlequins. What do you think they're going to do when they spot us? Treat us to free pancakes?"
"Uh... no. If anything, they'd more likely try to smash us INTO pancakes."
"Exactly. Therefore, we'll need weapons and armor."
"But if we use weapons we would end up hurting them..."
"It's them or us," said Rainbow Dash. "It's not like you're going to Stare every single one of them down, right?"
Before Shy could object, a soldier stopped us.
"I'm sorry, ladies. I'll have to ask you to take an alternative route."
"We really need to reach the armory. Can you show us the way there?"
"Go to the right until you reach the Great Gala Room and then go up the stairs to the third floor, from there you just need to cross the bridge to the tower and go three floors down, the armory must be there."
"I see." I could see that Rainbow's had already forgotten the directions altogether. Maybe it was because she was used to flying out in the open sky. Luckily, I was leading the group.
When we arrived at the Gala Room, we found a room full of refugees evacuated from the residential zone. And even though there were plenty of rooms in the castle, this was completely crammed. Plodding through the crowd was very difficult. By the time I reached the other side, I realized that I had left Rainbow and the Flutters behind.
"Go ahead, we'll catch up with you," said Cruel who was in the air, but unable to fly through the pegasus in front of her...
Rarity maneuvered her was through the crowd expertly. Perhaps her experience in the fashion industry, navigating through herds of shoppers, was to thank for this. My mother felt obliged to apologize to everypony she brushed against. Rainbow kept herself near us, but seemed quite peeved to be inching along so slowly.
"You all look like you're going on a dangerous adventure," spoke an old pony. Something about his looks made me think of horned owls. It was probably his bushy eyebrows.
"How did you know?" asked Rainbow.
"I'm an old timer, kid. Knowing stuff's my only hobby!" he replied somewhat arrogantly. "Out there, there are many dangers lurking in the shadows, it's not safe to go unarmed. Take this, please..."
The elder hit a chest right next to him. It swung open and revealed its content. There were swords, shields, lances and some pieces of armor, each one looking like it hailed from a different part of the world.
Rainbow was instantly transfixed. Somehow I convinced her to take just one weapon. I did the same.
"Oh, good choice..." whispered the elder, when I had pick a wooden sword. Samurai and ninjas knew this weapon as a 'bokken.' Mother was happy with my choice, because she didn't know any better. To her, it was simply a wooden sword: a small step up from a child's toy. Just enough resilience to not break in battle, but probably wouldn't truly DAMAGE others, the way a real blade would.
I'd wait until later to disillusion her.
Rainbow chose a short curved hiltless sword that looked a a little bit like a fang.
"How much do we owe you for this?"
"You can pay me after you save the world, brave Elements of Harmony. After all, what would I spend the money on, if there is no world...?"
I couldn't avoid laughing a little. Rainbow put a hoof on her face, groaning at the cheesiness of it all.
Rainbow and I went ahead to our meeting point, but Rarity eventually caught up with us, hefting a bag on her back, filled with the things she found at the armory.
"What did you get?"
"Bow and arrows for me, and a lasso and a net for AJ. Oh, and armor for all of us, but maybe I could touch them up a little. They lack style."
+++++The One and Only Trixie!!++++
After we separated from the rest, Twilight and I visited the castle library, her old room, (full of books) and basically, scoured every bookshelf for literature we might need. Now I know why Spike is so grumpy all the time. After that, we went back to the meeting point. I thought we would be the first ones, but, to our surprise, there was someone waiting for us.
"Eh, can we help you?" Twilight asked.
He was a unicorn, strangely tall, almost as large as Princess Luna. He was wearing an old grey cape which matched with his pointy wizard hat and long beard.
"Do you sincerely offer your help, or do you just want to know what my business is so I can leave?"
"Eh?" Twilight's brain seemed about to reset.
"Both options are not mutually exclusive." I commented. "Now who are you and what do you want with us?"
"Impertinent as always, oh, Great and Powerful Trixie. No, I should call you The One and Only Trixie, shouldn't I? And you, Twilight Sparkle... is a pleasure to finally meet the holders of the Element of Magic."
Twilight and I were both left equally speechless. "I'm known as Shadowfax the Stray by your race. Your princesses are busy arranging your depart, so they asked me to wait until all the members of your fellowship are here."
"Well... we thank you for the consideration, but it is not necessary that you waste your time on us."
"When you reach my age, you will understand that time is not something you waste but something you can take advantage of," answered Shadowfax, levitating a pipe from under his robes right to his lips. "And no better way of seize time than a little talk, and I think that you and I have an unfinished one."
"An unfinished conversation?" asked Twilight.
"What nonsense are you talking about?" I added.
"Yes..." Shadowfax inhaled some smoke from the pipe and exhaled two rings. "You two are the holders of the Element of Magic. Invoking spells with ease. Learning new ones speedily. Given time, the two of you could develop into the most powerful sorceresses of your age, but right now you are not..."
"What?!" I exclaimed. "I admit that I, myself, am not at that level yet, but Twilight?! She is the protege of Princess Celestia herself and...!"
"I am not suggesting Twilight is uneducated, nor that Celestia or Luna lack for power. What I AM saying that there are all SORTS of spells throughout the world. Why, somewhere in Equestria, there might exist a unicorn who knows only ONE spell. One single spell! And what's one spell next to the vast repertoire of magic you girls have at your command? Except if that unicorn's One Spell should happen to be faster, stronger, and more destructive that anything either of you can..."
At that very moment, Rarity, Rainbow and the Flutters arrived, followed closely by AJ, Pinkie Pie, Octavia and Vinyl. Maybe it was just my imagination, but the pink one (who carried an enormous bag) looked embarrassed.
"Well, I believe this is everybody..." whispered Shadowfax, and his horn glowed. By the look of things, he was surely performing some form of telepathy to communicate with the princesses.
After a few moments, the ground started to shake a little, and right in front of us an entrance opened.
"I'm sorry for the delay," said Princess Celestia, emerging from the secret tunnel. "Follow me, please."
I entered the hallway and came face-to-face with my nemesis: Stairs! A villain would be invincible with an army of stairs!
Okay, seriously, I like stairs as much as the next pony, but in my legs were still a little hurt.
I tried to keep pace with my companions but every step was a torture and I slowly fell behind more and more.
"Vinyl, do you need to rest?" Tavie asked.
Pinkie was right next to her, offering me a towel to dry my sweat. No idea where she found it.
"I'm fine, don't worry," I said, forcing a smile.
Suddenly I felt that my hooves lifted from the ground against my will, and ended up landing on Princess Celestia's back.
"My dear Vinyl, you shouldn't ignore your injuries or they may not heal at all..." she told me in an almost motherly tone.
I felt so embarrassed in that moment and... what? No! I didn't blush! I didn't interrupt you while you were narrating!
Where was I? Oh, right, my journey on the back of our solar deity... let's scratch that part... When we reach the bottom we were at the mouth of a huge cave. Other tunnels were also there, trailing off into dark places, but we were only interested in the one Princess Luna and her soldiers were standing in front of.
"I thought there only nine of you, is it possible you found another holder?" asked Luna.
"Eh, no, Vinyl isn't a holder, but..." Twilight trailed off, unable to think up an excuse for my presence.
"She has other talents that would be useful for the journey," Rarity supplied.
"Yeah, what she said!" I agreed, before slipping from Her Majesty's royal back. Pinkie softened my landing with an inflatable cushion.
The Princess of the Night didn't look that convinced, but before she could say anything else, the elder unicorn that was with us cleared his throat, drawing everyone's attention.
"It's true, we lack of time for this..." whispered Princess Luna, "Holders of The Elements of Harmony! ...and Vinyl Scratch, in the name of my sister and all Equestria, allow us to offer an escort to guard you on this journey you had commenced!"
That was the first time Octavia and I heard the Royal Canterlot Voice, but judging by everypony's else expression, its effect wouldn't weaken with repetition.
Four figures landed in front of us. "We wish we could offer more, but the royal army is spread thin enough as it is," Princess Celestia said, with true sorrow on her voice.
"However, these are all top-quality soldiers, with guts and heart!!!" seconded Princess Luna, shattering the ground with one of her hooves.
"Allow me to do the introductions," said the grey unicorn "I'm known as Shadowfax the Stray. I am what you could call a consultant. This is Eureka Ciel, our brilliant mechanic," Shadowfax pointed to an earth pony in oil-stained overalls, with the Daylight Guard emblem on her chest.
“At your service.” she said.
"What do we need a mechanic for?" Rainbow Dash frowned.
"You'll see." answered the girl with a little arrogant smirk.
"Next is Lightning Arrow." This time, it was a pegasus with dark blue fur and dark yellow mane, in a Night Guard armor.
"And last but not least: Night Gale."
When I directed my sight to him I was frozen. He was a pegasus, also a member from the Night Guard, but one of those bat-winged ponies. I've seen pegasus of that bat-winged breed before. Generally, I think their appearance is pretty cool. But somehow, with this particular guy... I couldn't avoid feeling a little scared...
Well, not truly SCARED, just... the air felt heavier and dense, I think that's the best way to describe it.
"Isn't he handsome?" spoke the yellow pegasus right next to me.
As soon as my brain identified that as a joke I had to bite my own hoof to hold back my laughter. And that strange ominous feeling was gone! Maybe it was just self-induced...
"Thanks, I really needed that, eh... what was your name again?"
"I'm Fluttercruel!" she said filled with pride. A second later, her body language changed “And I am Fluttershy. It's a pleasure."
After a quick mental collapse, the pegasus had to explain to me and Octavia about her peculiar condition: (two souls, mother and daughter, sharing the same body) before an interruption occurred.
"Twiley!" yelled a unicorn that had just entered the room followed close by a pink alicorn. It was Princess Cadence and her husband Shining Armor. I remember DJ-ing for their wedding. Both of them ran directly for Twilight and hugged her.
"Oh, Twiley, I must be the worst brother of the world, all those enemies you've had to face and I couldn't help you with any of them!"
"Shining, you are the best brother anyone could wish, it doesn't matter if you weren't at my side during those moments, you were always protecting Cadence and fighting your own battles. All I can ask is that you keep protecting her, and both of you together keep Canterlot and our rulers safe. Are you up to it, Captain Sparkle?"
Shining smiled. "Yes, ma'am!"
Shadowfax cleared his throat again, "Ladies, may I remind you all that we have a lord of darkness to defeat."
Eureka bounced excitedly. "You mean this is the moment?!"
The wizard just nodded, and Eureka sprinted further into the cave.
"The moment for what?" asked Twilight confused.
"The moment to reveal why we need a mechanic."
A loud whistle directed my attention to a locomotive that emerged from a tunnel on the other side of the cave, pulling along a couple of passenger wagons.
"Allow us to offer you this vehicle. We call it Puffing Tom," said Celestia, I couldn't avoid noticing Rarity suddenly get a little nervous at that name.
"Does it... fly?" asked Trixie, the first one who noticed that its wheels did not actually touch the ground.
"Technically speaking, no. It just levitates a few inches above the ground, as you can see, so it works without being bound to rails, but because of that it's faster than any regular train that exists." explained Princess Celestia.
"This contraption would need a lot of energy for proper flight, and it would only last for a couple of seconds." added her sister.
I walked curiously in front of the train and admire the flat-faced carvings on its front, similar to that of those biped creatures Lyra couldn't stop talking about.
"How does it work?" inquired Twilight, analyzing the spells that keep the train separated from the ground.
"Is it eco-friendly?" added Pinkie. Again, I couldn't hold back my laughter.
"It's a combination of science and magic!" screamed Eureka, with her head out of the window of the train. "It uses magic as energy and the machinery feeds various spells placed among the fuselage!"
"But... You're an earth pony, how can you drive a spell-powered train?"
"Princess Luna did me the great favor of charging the batteries herself, patent pending! So we should not have any problem in at least one or two days!" Eureka looked pretty proud. "I'll tell you every detail on our way, let's depart now!"
The wagon's doors opened and we were told to leave our stuff on the train's second car. Twilight lingered behind to say farewell to Princess Celestia, her brother, and her sister-in-law. Now that I think about it, Shining Armor is now a prince, so does that make Twilight a princess too?
The soldiers entered in after us, then Shawdowfax. Everypony settled themselves in the passenger car, except for Night Gale and Eureka.
"Gateway, open a portal to the surface," I heard Celestia instruct one of the soldiers by her side. Gateway fired a beam from his horn directly to one of the walls, opening a rift in space-time. An orange colored rift in space-time, to be precise.
"Good luck, my little ponies," the princess bade us as Puffing Tom started to chug along. Within a couple of seconds we crossed the portal. Through the window next to me I could see the sun setting on the horizon, but at the other side the moon was rising.
"Both the sun AND moon are up? What does it mean?" asked Octavia.
"It means that both princesses are watching…" muttered Shadowfax, who had concealed his eyes under the brim of his hat.
"Miss Sparkle!" Eureka yelled from the engine up ahead. "Princess Celestia told me you have a compass that will show us where the other Element Holders are. Would you please tell me which way should I direct the train?"
"Oh! That's right!" exclaimed Twilight, levitating the compass before her eyes. Then she tried to tell Eureka the way using coordinates and latitudes and such. Eureka seemed just as confused as I was. Trixie snatched the compass from Twilight.
"Just turn to the right."
Eureka pulled a couple of levers and the train started to turn smoothly. I closed my eyes and looked up, and for some reason, I pictured a bright star in the sky above us. A strange thing, but it felt like a good omen.
The moon soon took over the sky, and every pony fell asleep, trusting in the soldiers' vigilance. As well as Shadowfax, who was much more than a simple magician. I was glad he was on our side.
I dreamt… that I was watching reality shatter. A nightmare-like shadow was devouring everything like a black hole, and the only one who faced her was a shiny unicorn with a fiery red mane.
There was also a young unicorn, no, wait, it was a pegasus? Or an earth pony? I can't remember clearly, because when I tried to fix my attention on him… or her, the train hit something with great force, throwing me and everypony to the floor.
Not the nicest way to wake up.
"What was that?" Rarity asked as she tried to stand up, only to fall again due another shake.
"Something is pushing us toward a cliff!" shouted Eureka, who was making every effort to try to fight back. I looked out the window and saw many deep ravines.
"I'll stop it!" Rainbow yelled before flying out a window, followed by Vector and the Flutters, but even though they looked all around the train, they were unable to find what was pushing us.
"It's under the train!" Shadowfax gasped, and after a quick dash outside, Rainbow confirmed that something was indeed under us, guiding our train to the cliff. The space below the train cars was too tight, however, for her or any of the other to go and try something.
The pegasus then tried to counteract the thrust pushing to the other side, with the help of the unicorn's magic. Even Pinkie, Octavia and I started slamming against the opposite side of the wagon, all of this while Eureka was pushing the brakes, to no avail. The downside of levitating is that there is not enough friction to stop it, I guess.
"Wait, I have a plan!" Twilight proudly said, just before the train felt into the ravine.
And Puffing Tom flew into to the sky!
Darn, I wanted that to sound more exciting…
Anyway, our favorite purple unicorn had remembered the words of the princess just when it was most needed, she was able to conjure enough energy to make Tom fly a while.
The thing that had tried pushing us to our doom could do little to stop us when we collided with it head-on with all the speed we had accumulated plus what the gravity added. What? It's basic physics!
The problem was that all that momentum did no decrease much even after rammed that creature, the train bumped several times trying to stabilize itself.
I think Eureka would have eventually succeeded in bringing us to a clean stop, if not for the giant rock we then found in front of us.
It was a heavy blow, almost everything went flying. I expected an explosion but I guess our enemy cushioned the impact somewhat.
I tumbled out of the train, with Pinkie clutching me tightly, as though she were trying to protect me.
"Is everypony all right?" Twilight asked.
A lot of us answered with a sore and discouraged "Yes…"
I sat down, took a deep breath, and brushed off a little sand that had covered me. Only then I noticed that Pinkie was watching something with deep focus. It was a sign placed over a large stone arch: "Grim Rock Fields" was written in the sign, and at one side the word "Forever" was carved in the rock.
"We are home…" Pinkie muttered, a bit surprised. I wouldn't understand what she meant until much later.
Then, I heard two voices that seemed as familiar as my own voice…