Luna couldn’t take standing on the sidelines anymore and unleashed the Royal Canterlot Voice, “ENOUGH!” Her voice was so loud that both Eggman and Celestia stood up straight and everybody else stopped what they were doing and looked at her (though Pinkie went right back to eating a second later). “While I may have had my doubts in the past, my sister has proven that she has the utmost faith in Twilight Sparkle, Dr. Eggman! She had faith that Twilight would be able to free me from Nightmare Moon, she had faith she would be able to resist Discord and his games, she had faith that she could stop Queen Chrysalis, and she had faith that Twilight would be able to save the Crystal Empire!” the Lunar Princess shouted.
Eggman replied, “I suppose that’s true, Luna. Celestia certainly does have faith in Twilight.” Luna stood proudly at being able to back up her sister, and the others looked ready to cheer her on for it, but that was all shot down when Eggman smirked, “But from what you’re saying, it sounds like Celestia only has enough faith in Twilight to be her personal weapon and nothing more.”
Celestia stared up at him in disbelief. “Weapon?!” she exclaimed, not believing that this human would dare call her faithful student such a thing.
Eggman nodded, “Oh yes! She’s the Element of Magic, and you taught her everything she knew about magic before she moved to Ponyville! You knew she was special the day you made her your student, Celestia, probably even long before that! You said you ‘did what you could’ so that Luna would eventually be able to return; does that include manipulating Twilight and her friends’ family trees so they would be who they are today?”
Celestia glared up at him, “Twilight came to my school to learn about magic; she wanted to learn all I had to teach! And yes, I recognized her potential when she took the entrance exam, but the only thing I did before that day was ensure that the spell for freeing Luna would be ready when Nightmare Moon was freed! I watched from afar; I did not step in to alter things the way Discord would have! I wanted my sister to be free and still regret having to do what I did all those years ago, but I did not manipulate ponies over the course of a thousand years just for that purpose! Twilight and her friends should never have had to do anything more than free Luna from Nightmare Moon!”
Eggman replied, “So you say, but why did you let Twilight remain in Ponyville with her newfound friends then?”
Celestia answered, “Because she discovered the joys of friendship! She wanted to stay and I granted her wish, on the condition that she let me know what she was learning when she wasn’t at my side!”
Eggman spoke, “Well, I think you knew Nightmare Moon wasn’t the only thing you would have to deal with. That’s why you let Twilight stay in Ponyville: so your fail-safe weapon would be ready whenever you needed it.” Celestia opened her mouth, but Eggman held up his right hand and went on, “As for those so-called ‘friendship reports’ you asked her to do, you just wanted to keep tabs on her, to make sure the Elements of Harmony didn’t fall apart. Again I ask you, what’s the difference between being Twilight’s teacher and the ruler of Equestria? Not one of Equestria’s simple-minded ponies would ever question your decision for fear of what you would do to them!”
Celestia questioned, “Now who’s bending history for their own favor? And even if what you say is true, why would I send Twilight all the friendship reports she sent me when Discord was free to help her? It was because I know her and could feel that she needed my help!”
Eggman retorted, “Ponyville wasn’t the only place being affected by Discord’s magic! Canterlot was under his influence too and you, as usual, were relying on your subjects to do the dirty work for you! Your sending those reports back to Twilight was just a desperate move on your part; there’s no way you could have possibly known what was happening to Twilight at the time!”
Celestia was finding it very hard to keep her patience in check with Eggman, but she managed to keep her voice calm as she said, “I knew she needed help because I know her and we are very close!”
Eggman replied, “Again with that ‘knowing’ thing. You think you know her based on her interactions with her brother and your niece when she still lived in Canterlot? You’re just like her brother; now that she’s living in Ponyville, you don’t know who she is anymore! And why should you? You’ve had her wrapped around your horn ever since you two first met!”
Celestia protested, “I do know who Twilight is!”
Eggman asked, “Oh really? You don’t seem to spend any time with her that doesn’t involve Equestria’s safety being in jeopardy!”
Celestia said, “That is not true! I’ve seen her multiple times since she moved to Ponyville and I HAVE spent time with her, such as after her first Running of the Leaves! I love fall, and I wanted to spend that day with her!”
From her table, Rainbow cheered, “Yeah, take that, you jerk! You go, Princess Celestia!”
Dr. Eggman looked surprised, “Why yes, that’s true! A surprise visit out of nowhere without any guards! Truly moving, Celestia!” The Solar Princess nodded in satisfaction, pleased to have finally shut him up. However, Eggman quickly dropped his look of surprise and smirked, “Tell me more.”
Celestia looked up at him, “What?”
Eggman replied, “I’ve seen a few of your meetings thanks to the Time Eater’s power. I know about your little appearance at the Running of the Leaves, but I didn’t know you wanted to be there to spend time with Twilight. Why don’t you tell me about your other meetings and clear a few things up for me?”
Celestia stared at him and then nodded. After a moment, she said, “Cloudsdale, after the Best Young Fliers competition. Twilight was there with her friends and we spent some time together afterwards.”
Eggman wagged his finger, “Ah, ah, ah! That doesn’t count! You had duties for the competition; you HAD to be in Cloudsdale! It’s only lucky that Twilight managed to learn a spell that would allow non-pegasus ponies to walk on clouds so they could cheer for Rainbow Dash. It’s not like you planned to see her there or anything! And you spent some time together? Is that what you call staying for a total of five minutes just to hear from one of Twilight’s friends?”
Celestia grunted softly; for all the nonsense Eggman had been spouting, she couldn’t exactly argue with the fact that she hadn’t stayed in Cloudsdale very long after the competition was over. She then said, “I’ve made time for visiting Ponyville at other times as well.”
Eggman nodded, “Yes, all scheduled visits. Everyone knew you were coming, and I believe one of those visits was canceled due to something coming up before you arrived. Oh, and there was that one visit where you were having tea or whatever? I hardly saw you and Twilight interacting that whole time, despite the fact that you let her sit next to you! I believe you spent more time interacting with Fluttershy, especially after she took that stupid bird of yours home with her!” He crossed his arms, “I can see why you wanted a pet phoenix, Celestia; it really complements you.”
Celestia glared; now this human was starting to test her patience. “How about the girls’ first Grand Galloping Gala then? Twilight was at my side the whole night, and I went to find her and her friends after it was ruined! I didn’t need to, but I sought them out because I wanted to spend time with them!” she said
Eggman replied, “That may be, but the whole time she was with you, Twilight was basically ignored because you had to greet the guests! Really, Celestia, the Grand Galloping Gala has been around for how long? Surely you’ve had to greet the guests every year and you didn’t bother to tell Twilight that? Sure, she would’ve been disappointed, but at least she wouldn’t have had to waste the whole night on a lost cause when she could’ve been spending time getting to know your sister or checking on her friends!”
He then paused and put on a mock thoughtful look before saying, “Oh wait, that second one wasn’t even an option, was it? After all, you didn’t invite Twilight and her friends so they could get a chance to do something they always wanted. You invited them and made sure Twilight stayed by your side because, sooner or later, her friends would wreck the gala and save YOU from a night of boredom!” He placed his hands on his hips and shook his head, “You’re a credit to trolls everywhere, Celestia.”
The Sun Princess actually growled; if there was one thing she disliked, it was being called a ‘troll’. Her calm composure was beginning to crack as she spoke, “The cake competition in Canterlot… I was happy to see her and talk to her then!”
Eggman raised his left hand and waved it dismissively, “Please! You only had eyes for the winning cake! Did you even hear the ‘friendship lesson’ Pinkie Pie was trying to give you? The only reason you noticed Twilight at all was because she was offering you a slice of said cake!”
Celestia’s glare intensified; she did not enjoy having her arguments fail her like this. She tried to keep her voice under control as she said, “Fine then! The wedding between Princess Cadance and Shining Armor! It was between Twilight’s old foalsitter and older brother!”
Eggman replied, “Yes, it was a wedding between YOUR niece and YOUR Captain of the Royal Guard! And even after the threat that had been right in front of you the whole time was dealt with, you left all the planning and preparations to Twilight! I could see you keeping watch before the first wedding, since you were blind anyway, but what did you do before the second wedding that you couldn’t help her out? I’ll bet the only helping you did was after you followed the herd and shunned Twilight for actually paying attention! So who’s the real foal here, Celestia?”
Celestia started, “I-”
Eggman held up his right hand and interrupted her, “Stop. Just stop right there, Celestia. You’ve embarrassed yourself enough. I let you speak because I was willing to give you a chance to prove me wrong about your relationship with Twilight, but you’ve done nothing but disappoint me! You haven’t told me anything I don’t already know, and you clearly can’t take a bone when it’s thrown at you!”
Celestia looked at him in confusion, “What?”
Eggman answered, “Really Celestia, do you not recall all the other times you’ve seen Twilight and not done anything with her? Like when she was in Canterlot for her birthday? She mentioned you allowed her and her friends to use the ballroom; how did you do it? Did she send you a letter before they left and you replied to it? Did you see them when they arrived and said “hey, you can use the ballroom, happy birthday by the way”? Either way, you couldn’t be bothered to make an appearance during her party, even for a slice of cake? And what about that morning she was in the Star Swirl the Bearded wing? Did you offer her breakfast, or a chance to catch up? No, you just wished her a happy Tuesday and complimented her on her ‘hairstyle’. And after that show she put on for the Saddle Arabian diplomats? Did you ever talk to her about it or did you just send a letter to her?”
Below him, Cubot looked at Orbot, saying, “Yo, he’s really bustin’ this chick, ain’t he?”
The red-headed robot replied, “I know. It really is a shame to see someone so trusting open up and do anything for anyone, only to be unknowingly taken advantage of.”
Celestia spoke, “I have never taken advantage of Twilight! I care for her deeply!”
Eggman questioned, “Then why do you hardly ever see her on your own time anymore? Why does your faith in her seem to be off and on? Why can’t you just be open with her? Because your image is more important than anyone you care about?! If you do care about her, Celestia, you have a funny way of showing it!”
Celestia felt cornered now. Not only had she not tried to put herself in a favorable light by saying more or defending her actions, but now she only had one thing left… and she couldn’t say it. She had the utmost faith that it would come true, that her student wouldn’t let her down, but… “I… I can only act from afar. What Twilight’s studies are leading to… she has to discover it on her own. I cannot help her.”
Eggman asked, “So you’re saying her time is coming or whatever? Well, I’ll say it is! You had plans for her after all, didn’t you? Must be something great if someone she looks up to so much and is always vying for her approval isn’t allowed to be near her! Did she ever tell you about King Sombra’s door beneath the Crystal Empire, how it shows you your worst fears? Did she tell you her worst fear was you turning her away forever? I don’t know what you did to her, Celestia, but the fact that that’s her greatest fear means you two don’t have the kind of relationship you think you do! Maybe you should have taken how she feels more into consideration, hmm?”
Celestia knew she was done; she had nothing left to help her. Eggman had managed to take everything she had and rip it to shreds, or at least call it into question. As she stopped and thought about it, she couldn’t help but wonder: had she really been neglecting her student and their bond that badly? “I… But I…” she stammered.
Eggman saw his chance and spoke, “Oh, you still think otherwise, eh? You still think that, despite everything, you and Twilight share something special? I believe you had some good words of wisdom for this kind of situation. How did they go again? Oh yes, I remember!” He cleared his throat and then pointed directly down at Celestia as he said, “You have a lot to think about.”
Celestia’s pupils shrunk, her mouth hanging open as she looked up at him. He had said those words… those seven words that continued to haunt her in the back of her mind. Had it not been for Twilight, she knew some part of her would still be repeating them to this day. Those words proved that trust that had been built up over the years could easily be destroyed in a single instant. Those words reminded her of her failures as a monarch, a teacher, and… a friend. And now, more than ever, they had never seemed more appropriate.
Celestia began to go numb, her body locking up and leaving her unable to do anything more than think. Luna looked at her in fear as she began to sway, the Lunar Princess reminded of what happened when she had been taken over by Nightmare Moon. It wasn’t long before Celestia’s body couldn’t hold its weight up by itself and she fell over to her left. Eggman merely grinned as Luna moved to her sister’s side, catching her against her body and crying, “Celestia!” She managed to lower her onto her side, but the older pony’s body still remained locked in position as Luna held her in her hooves, frantically trying to wake her up.
Tails, Spike, and the ponies (except for Pinkie) all looked on in shock and/or horror at the state Celestia was in, the white pony still not responding to Luna’s attempts to wake her. Applejack looked up at Eggman and glared, “Eggman! What’d ya do ta Princess Celestia?!”
Eggman replied, “All I was doing was refreshing that thousand year old brain of hers. She can’t remember everything, you know, so don’t give me that look!”
Rarity gasped, “How dare you accuse the Princess of being old and forgetful!”
Eggman clasped his hands together and held them up to the side of his face, mockingly saying, “Oh yes, I’m so bad, aren’t I? I’m probably going to be sent to the Moon for saying such things!”
Rainbow growled, “You’re not funny. But that’s totally what you deserve, you jerk, especially after you blew up half of your Moon!”
Eggman dropped his mock penitent sinner stance and said, "Okay, so I used the Moon to test my grandfather’s creation. So what? It doesn’t look any different now!” He glanced off to the side as he added, “Depending on where you look at it from, of course.”
Applejack spoke, “Don’t mean an orange in a bushel o’ apples!”
Rarity nodded, “That doesn’t excuse your actions, you… you brute!”
Eggman looked back at them and retorted, “Well, if that’s the game we’re playing, then nothing any of you have done excuses the circumstances leading up to the situation you’re in now!”
Fluttershy muttered, “Um, what?”
Rainbow was able to turn her head to the side in Fluttershy’s direction and asked, “What’d you say, Fluttershy? Speak up! Even without those Timberwolves around you, you can barely be heard!”
Eggman spoke, “Oh, don’t worry, Rainbow Dash. I may not have heard Fluttershy, but it doesn’t matter. If she wants to know what I mean, then I’ll tell all of you what I mean!” He brought up his right arm and pointed at the s’more Discord, Twilight, and Sonic were in, saying, “You know the unicorn in that s’more over there? Celestia’s not the only one responsible for her being in there; all of her ‘friends’ are! Well, except for Sonic, Luna, Tails, and Cadance, that is.”
Applejack, while trying to pull one of her hooves out of the tree sap underneath her, asked, “What are ya talkin’ about?”
Eggman adjusted his glasses, “That’s very simple; they don’t have the same problems the rest of you have with Twilight. Like I said, Twilight’s surely had her suspicions that what happened on the mountain that day was no regular occurrence, and now she knows she was right! Of course, up until now, that’s all she’s had: suspicions. And if she was going to get your help, she would’ve needed a little more than that!”
Rarity spoke, “Twilight’s our friend! We would listen to her and help her!”
Eggman smirked, “Just like you helped with the friendship report incident? Yes, MARVELOUS display of generosity back there, DARLING. In fact, you all made quite a show of ‘believing’ her!”
Rarity gawked at him, outraged by his imitating her. “Why, I never!” she exclaimed.
Spike shouted through the shield, “Hey! I was worried about her when she started worrying too much! I sent a letter to Princess Celestia because I thought she could calm her down!”
Eggman wheeled on him, “Yes, WHEN she started worrying too much. And then you jumped right on the bandwagon the next time she worried about something! You know, if you’d eaten all that ice cream around me, a stomachache would be the least of your worries!” Spike took a step back and quivered as he remembered the Future Twilight incident; how much else did this human know? He didn’t get a chance to wonder long before Eggman said, “Ooh, and let’s not forget how everyone believed her suspicions about Princess Cadance! Or should I say Queen Chrysalis?”
Rainbow blurted out without thinking, “Well, we would’ve listened to her right away if she hadn’t been freaking out about her brother the whole time before that!”
Eggman simply said, “And there it is. Excuse number 28.”
Applejack raised an eyebrow, “Huh?”
Eggman placed his right index finger on the console of his Eggmobile, as if it had a piece of parchment on it, and explained, “Excuse number 28: whenever something goes wrong, it’s automatically Twilight’s fault. It doesn’t matter what happened or who was actually at fault. It’s always Twilight’s fault and she deserves to be put on the spot in such situations.”
Rarity exclaimed, “We would never accuse Twilight of such!”
Eggman grinned, “Miss Element of Loyalty did just now, didn’t she?” Rainbow’s eyes went wide at that, her brain finally catching up with her mouth as the others, save for Pinkie Pie, looked at her. Eggman went on, “Besides, Twilight ‘freaking out’ is the reason you didn’t listen to her? That’s a terrible excuse for a lie! Remember the Gabby Gums incident?”
Twilight’s friends (except for Pinkie Pie again) got nervous as they remembered that. “If what I’ve seen is correct, Twilight CALMLY raised a point against the column, at a time when Gabby Gums had nothing to do with her! She was worried about other ponies’ privacy, and it still took all of you ending up in that column with some horribly embarrassing headline to change your minds, especially YOU, Little Miss ‘My-Sister-Can-Do-No-Wrong-Now-That-I’m-A-Better-Sister’!” Eggman said, pointing down at Rarity as he spoke. He then held his arms out, “Face it, ladies! Twilight may not have approached the other situations with the right attitude, but it seems like she’s not the real problem here!” He pointed down at them, “The real problem is YOU, you selfish little ponies!”
Eggman’s statement was so shocking that even Pinkie Pie raised her head and gasped. “Selfish?!” Rarity cried, aghast at his words.
Eggman nodded, “But of course! You’ve made it very clear in the past that Twilight’s not allowed to ruin your happiness for any reason!” He held his right hand up to his right ear, saying, in a mocking voice, “What’s that, Twilight? You need help with that assignment that Princess Celestia oh-so-conveniently neglected to mention doesn’t have a due date? No, this picnic is WAY more important than helping a friend with a problem!” He lowered his right hand and raised his left hand to his left ear before saying, “You say there might still be a threat out there?! How selfish can you be, Twilight? This ice cream isn’t going to eat itself, you know!” He then brought his hands together in front of him and said, “She said good things about my treats! Ooh, she loves my dresses! I’m too stupid to realize that wasn’t a compliment! …What? There’s something up with the bride? You’re crazy, Twilight, and we don’t listen to crazies!” He glared down at the ponies, “Really! Can you blame her for ‘freaking out’ when THAT’s what she gets from her ‘best friends’, the ones who had to learn not to brush off her concerns more than once?!”
Applejack asked, “So you’re blamin’ us fer how Twilight acted?!”
Eggman replied, “If the boot fits, ‘Sugarcube’. But that’s not the real reason you’re in the predicament you’re in right now!”
Rainbow sarcastically asked, “Oh, and you think YOU know why? Well, Egghead, tell us then, please, tell us about your theories!”
Eggman replied, “Since Twilight and her memory spell are, ahem, occupied at the moment, perhaps I will! Allow me to refresh your memories.” He cleared his throat and looked down at Applejack, “Applejack, do you remember how it felt after your performance in that rodeo, when you tried to make amends you didn’t need to, and then the truth came out and you were shown nothing but love and forgiveness?” Leaving the orange earth pony to mull over that, he looked at Rainbow and asked, “Do you recall, Rainbow Dash, what it felt like to have your new hobby brought to light in front of your friends and have them all accept it, especially the one you used to make fun of for it?” He turned to Pinkie Pie, “Do you remember convincing yourself that your friends didn’t like you, only to find out they had been planning something wonderful for you, Pinkie Pie?” He held out his arms, “Feeling upset about your work for listening to your friends and them going to great lengths to make it up to you, Rarity? Thinking you weren’t loved anymore and proven wrong, Spike? Believing yourself to be a monster and then being shown forgiveness when you turned your back on your new, impolite ways, Fluttershy? Can any of you recall doing something like that for Twilight?!”
Pinkie held up a hoof, “Ooh, ooh! I told Twilight she couldn’t always know everything when she apologized about Gilda! And then when she accepted my Pinkie Sense!”
Eggman smirked, “And…?”
Pinkie smiled, “And that’s all I’ve got right now! But don’t worry; Spikey and the girls will fill you in on the rest!” She dipped her head back into her tub and noisily started eating again. She wasn’t concerned about making so much noise; after all, she was sure she could still hear her friends, and they would tell her if she needed to quiet down. Either way, there was no reason to let these sweets go to waste. After a few seconds of silence, however, she lifted her head up while chewing something and looked at her friends, only to see they were all looking at the ground while Tails, Shining Armor, and Cadance looked between them all questioningly. “Hey, why isn’t anypony saying anything?” she asked after she swallowed.
Applejack looked at her, a grave expression on her face. “Pinkie… We ain’t got nothin’ ta say…” she said, almost in horror.
Eggman laughed, “That’s right! You DO have nothing to say! You all might have been willing to go along with Twilight and do anything for her when Nightmare Moon had been freed, if only because you were suspicious of her, but that attitude’s been slowly drifting away ever since she decided to stay in Ponyville! Twilight’s not your friend; she’s lucky if she’s considered an acquaintance!”
Pinkie Pie cried, “What?! That’s not true! What about when-”
Eggman cut her off, “Oh, shut up! Don’t embarrass yourself the way Celestia did! Hang on to whatever dignity you have, you pathetic excuse for an intelligent being! You gave Twilight some minor comfort, yes, but it’s meaningless when you consider that, whenever one of you does something, she’s often there to comfort you and you can’t return the favor! Like the friendship report incident. When all was said and done, it was out of sight, out of mind. Just like with the whole time travel loop. After all, it’s Past Twilight’s problem, isn’t it, Pinkie Pie? And of course, her brother’s wedding. You think you can ignore what your decision to not trust Twilight could have led to after it was over and the problem and everything associated with it will go away, just like that? Well, get a load of THIS, ponies: it doesn’t work that way!”
Rainbow, determined not to go down without a fight, looked up and said, “That’s not what we thought! We regretted what we did when we realized she was right! We went to help her! We… we…”
Eggman asked, “You what? Begged Celestia not to take your babysitter away? Thought it was funny to be making fun of the way someone acts just because it’s not the same way you would act? Took advantage of someone’s connections to further your own selfish ends? Stop trying to cover up for yourselves! You five are all good friends… to each other! You do all the things friends would do and even include Twilight sometimes, but when it comes to her and helping out friends, even Little Miss Generosity takes more than she gives!”
Rarity couldn’t take this anymore and turned her head to the side, uttering, “…H-Hmph!”
Eggman called, “Oh sure, Rarity, stick to that same old attitude of yours! Turn your back when you don’t want to hear something and wait until the last minute to do something about it! It’s the same thing with all of you! Heck, Twilight’s brother did it and everything turned out fine in the end!”
Shining yelled, “What’s that supposed to mean?! My special talent is defending the weak; that’s what my cutie mark represents! I joined the Royal Guard and became Captain to protect those ponies, and I would never turn my back on them or Twilight!”
Eggman questioned, “Oh no? What about the day you were supposed to be married to Cadance and ended up at the altar with the Changeling Queen instead?” Shining cringed at that, remembering the disaster that had barely been avoided in the days before his union with Cadance. “Do you remember what happened that day, pretty boy? How you threw away all the trust you had for your sister just to fulfill what you wanted?” Eggman asked.
“I was under Chrysalis’ spell! I wasn’t in control of what I was doing!” Shining cried, fear beginning to work its way up his spine.
“Indeed you were, but do you know what that spell actually did to you?” Eggman asked.
“I-It stole my love and brainwashed me to neglect Twilight,” Shining stammered.
Eggman wagged his finger, “Not quite, Shining Armor. Yes, it stole your love and fed Queen Chrysalis, but the only other thing it did to you was make you believe she was Cadance, no matter what she did.” He pointed at the stallion, “Everything you said to your sister, you said it of your own free will! Her spell had no influence over you in that regard!”
Shining Armor, his voice raised slightly, exclaimed, “Th-That’s not true!” He was desperate now; anything he could say to make the situation better was quickly dying away.
Eggman crossed his arms, “Say what you want, but you know the truth. I’m not a big fan of magic, or the fact that you ponies have somehow found a way to integrate it into science, and even I know what that spell did.”
Luna finally looked up from Celestia, the Sun Princess finally seeming to come to somewhat, and yelled up at Eggman, “Why are you doing this?!”
Eggman answered, “I’m merely pointing out their mistakes, Luna! That’s a good way to learn, isn’t it? You learned to integrate into today’s society by learning from your mistakes, didn’t you? Well, they should learn what they should have done and failed to do, especially when someone else has already beaten them to the punch!” He raised his right hand and snapped his fingers; in response, the screen he had sent away earlier floated back up, stopping in front of the Time Eater and floating forward slightly so that everyone could see it better. It then turned on, showing static for a few moments before a video began to play.
For a second, the image on the screen showed what appeared to be green leaves. Then it moved forward, parting the leaves and looking directly down at Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Sonic (who was resting on a rock). The Applejack on the screen soon spoke, “That was… a bit odd fer Twilight. Ah hope she doesn’t have somethin’ on her mind.”
The on screen Rainbow Dash shrugged, “Eh, it’s probably nothing, AJ. If Twilight is worrying about something, it’s probably something silly and not worth getting worked up over.”
Sonic looked over at her, “And you don’t think someone should talk to her when she has something on her mind, no matter how small it may be?”
As the video continued to play, the real Rainbow Dash demanded, “What the hay is this?!”
Eggman answered, “Why, it’s a bit of modern magic, Rainbow Dash, similar to what Discord tells me Sonic used earlier! Speaking of the draconequus, he’s the one that shot this. With skills like his, he could make it on TV someday, possibly in a science fiction show! But I digress.” At that point, the Sonic on the screen left, going to ‘stretch his legs’ as he said. “As I’m sure you no doubt remember, you and Applejack decided to pass the time waiting for Twilight and Sonic to return by hoof-wrestling before you decided to look for them,” Eggman said. He then smirked, “Let’s look at some ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage, shall we?” He pressed a button on his Eggmobile, the image on the screen going to static as the video changed.
Meanwhile, inside the s’more…
Discord laughed as he floated in the middle of the chaos he was creating. The s’more he had created wasn’t big enough for all the chaos he wanted to create, but at this point, he didn’t care. He had missed this! The inside of the s’more was filled with floating pies, cotton candy clouds raining chocolate milk, balloons, dancing buffalos wearing tutus, checkerboard patterns… And in the middle of it all were Sonic and Twilight, both of them shielding themselves from the chocolate milk rain by grabbing books that had been flying around like birds and holding them over their heads. The books fluttered as they were held by the duo, though, trying to get out of their grasps; they didn’t protect them much either, as the rain was running down the covers of the books and getting on them. The chocolate milk was beginning to give them both a slight brown tinge to their fur.
Discord chuckled and said, “Oh, this is so much fun! I appreciate Dr. Eggman’s freeing me and all, but the man simply does not have enough respect for my chaos or magic in general. ‘Have to keep it under control’, he says. ‘Don’t bother me when I’m working’, he said. He really needs to lighten up. More than Twilight, I might add.” He heard a clicking sound and looked at Sonic, noticing the hedgehog was holding his cell phone up in front of him. “Ooh, that’s your little recording device, isn’t it, Sonic? Are you filming me?” he questioned.
Sonic replied, “Nah, just getting a few pictures. I gotta get some kind of record of all this crazy stuff you’re making.” He then pointed his phone at Discord and took another picture, saying, “You’ve got some good expressions and poses too.”
Discord asked, “Oh? Let me see!” He floated over and twisted around so he could see Sonic’s phone. He grinned at the picture he saw, seeing a handsome draconequus leaning to the side with a contemplative look on his face. “Hah! Quite the handsome Spirit, aren’t I? I’ve got quite the range!” He floated away and struck another pose while saying, “I’m so much better now! I used to be quite stolid, you know.”
Sonic glanced up at him as he put his phone away and grunted, “Yeah? What tipped you off, the beard?”
Discord chuckled as he floated naturally, “Very clever.” He landed on the ground and snapped the fingers on his lion paw, a paper cone appearing in it. He reached over and stuck it into the cotton candy cloud above Sonic and Twilight’s heads, the chocolate milk rain coming to an end as he pulled it back. They both lowered their hands/hooves shortly afterwards, the books they had been holding flying off as they stood up. Neither one of them looked pleased as the chocolate milk dripped freely from their fur, the front of Twilight’s mane hanging over her eyes.
Discord observed them both and said, “Hmm, brown doesn’t really work for either of you, does it? Here, let me fix that.” He snapped his fingers and a large electric fan appeared next to Twilight, startling her. Without warning, it turned on, blowing such a big gust of wind that it actually lifted Twilight off the ground as it blew. Sonic caught her in his arms and held her tight as he tried to stand his ground against the wind, the chocolate milk flying off of their fur and splattering against the marshmallow wall behind him while Discord munched on his cotton candy cloud.
While taking another bite, the draconequus noticed the two appeared to be dry enough and snapped his fingers again, the fan disappearing. As soon as the wind stopped, Sonic set Twilight down and they both looked at each other. Twilight’s mane and tail were wild and frizzy at the ends while Sonic’s fur stuck straight up, making him look like a blue porcupine. Discord of course thought they looked hilarious and burst out laughing, though he did summon floating brushes and combs to fix them. While his brushes and combs were working, Discord rolled on the floor as he laughed, saying, “Oh my goodness! This is too much! You know, brown really would work for you now, Sonic, being all spiky like that!”
Despite a few rough tugs, the brushes and combs managed to restore Twilight and Sonic’s natural looks. By then, Discord had gotten his fill and sent them away, once again floating before the duo. Sonic and Twilight looked at him, the former saying after a moment, “Well, that was nice of you.”
Discord replied, “I thought I’d be amicable towards my guests and new friends.”
Sonic deadpanned, “Yeah, uh, we’re not friends. No, that’s just not happening.”
Discord asked, “Oh? I can see Twilight saying no, but you? Surely this chaos entices you, Sonic! Isn’t it fun?”
Sonic replied, “I think our definitions of ‘fun’ are different. I enjoy running at high speeds, the Olympics, a good brawl every now and then, racing, and the company of close friends. You on the other hand, for whatever reason, seem to enjoy amusing yourself in any way possible, which you can actually do, and making life rough for everybody else.”
Discord didn’t seem fazed by Sonic’s assessment of him. He rolled his eyes, “Haven’t you heard? I’m the Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony. There’s not a single moment where I don’t enjoy causing hardship to others; it’s what I do.”
Sonic said, “I have heard, and that’s what I can’t wrap my head around. You’re obviously not some two-bit baddie; you actually sound like someone who could make a lick of sense. And yet you’re obsessed with this idea of bending the world to your designs and making everybody miserable. That’s exactly what got you turned into stone in the first place. You want that to happen again, huh? Do you enjoy being stoned?”
Discord’s expression instantly changed, narrowing his eyes and glaring at the duo, making Twilight shudder as she stood close to Sonic. The hedgehog felt a bit scared himself, but he steeled himself; right now, he had to be strong. “No, I don’t enjoy being turned to stone,” Discord said in a dark voice full of anger. “Is it my fault I am the way I am? Is it my fault ponies don’t seem to enjoy my chaos? No, it isn’t! They should all have a change of attitude so that they can see the beauty of my chaos!”
Sonic cocked his head to the side for a moment, steadying himself before asking, “What about you, Discord? Have you ever thought about changing YOUR attitude?” The draconequus raised an eyebrow at him, so Sonic went on, “You must’ve been conscious under that stone; I know I was when that gargoyle statue turned me to stone. Did you ever wonder why two different Element Bearers turned you to stone? I mean, Celestia was only able to banish Luna to the Moon while Twilight and her friends were able to free her from Nightmare Moon. The fact that they both did the same thing to you must mean there’s nothing wrong with you; your priorities are just a bit messed up.” He smiled, “You could still have your chaos and not have ponies wanting to turn you to stone if you made a few changes. If your chaos was fun for everyone and didn’t make most people look bad or get on their nerves, they’d come to like you. That’s possible, isn’t it?”
Discord surprised him with a smirk, “Not cause problems for anyone? What fun would that be?”
Sonic and Twilight both glared at the draconequus, the former saying, “You see? There’s your problem right there! How can you expect anyone to actually like your chaos when you’re constantly thinking of ways to make them, and by association yourself, look bad! You need to do something about that, dude, or you’re never gonna change peoples’ minds the right way!”
A sudden crack of thunder behind them made Twilight and Sonic jump. Looking behind them, they saw a cotton candy cloud floating in the air above them. They looked back at Discord and saw he was looking at them angrily. He demanded, “So you think they have every right to turn me to stone? You actually agree with them even though you’re not a pony?! I asked Eggman to give me some time alone with you because I thought you were smarter than that, Sonic! Clearly, I was wrong! You know, I’ve never been given a reason to like ponies, but at least I don’t go around turning them into stone!”
Sonic retorted, “No, not until today! Both you and Eggman turned everyone you captured into stone, and who knows how many others have been affected! And I don’t know which is worse: that or you turning ponies’ hearts into stone! It’s no wonder they turn gray!”
Discord got right up in his face and asked, “What, you have a problem with that? It’s not like I haven’t done it before! And from the looks of it, Silver turned out completely fine afterwards! And that Trixie unicorn… she had it coming! Even I thought she was spiteful!”
Twilight’s eyes widened at that. She finally spoke up, “What are you talking about?! Trixie wasn’t…” She stopped in mid-sentence, remembering the device Trixie had in her ear and how Tails said it didn’t make sense that it was a mind control device. Now, suddenly, it did. She started again, “The mind control device planted on Trixie! You and Dr. Eggman made it! You brainwashed both her and Silver and made them fight us for your own amusement!” She glared at the draconequus, “Don’t you know they’ve both had their share of hardships, especially Trixie? She especially didn’t need you or an evil genius taking control of her and being forced to fight somepony!”
Discord wheeled on her, “Oh, so now you want to speak up, do you, Twilight Sparkle? And it’s to show ‘friendship’ to a pony who humiliated you in the past? How do you know she won’t try to do anything else to you later on, on her own?” Twilight was about to respond, but Discord said, “Oh, that’s right. You know because ‘friendship is magic’, isn’t that right? You still believe that lie, even now? Don’t you remember what your so-called friends have done to you in the past?”
Twilight took a few steps back, “Yes, but… I…”
Sonic had had enough and decided to step in, “Hey, quit trying to twist the facts, you jerk! Why don’t you -!” He was cut off as Discord slapped his eagle claw over Sonic’s mouth, keeping him from interfering.
The draconequus smirked, “Come on, Twilight, you know the truth about them. They’ve abandoned you in the past… and they didn’t need my help to show you who they really are.” He brought his lion paw behind his back and snapped his fingers, “You’ve seen it for yourself; they call themselves your friends so they can take advantage of you to further their own selfish needs. They’re not really your friends; you were only deluded into thinking that by everyone you know, even your brother and assistant. They don’t see you as a friend; they only see the Element of Magic, part of Celestia’s magic gun that she can point at bad guys to make them go away. The only reasons they went along with you into the Everfree Forest was because they were suspicious of you. You never had friends and you never will!”
Twilight sat down as she thought about the draconequus’ words. Unbeknownst to her or Sonic, when Discord snapped his fingers, he had secretly conjured a spell to amplify the bad times she had had with her friends, making them overshadow the good times and make them seem nonexistent. It made those memories fill her head, blocking out her real thoughts. As she began to believe these ‘true’ memories, it started to happen. A shine appeared at the end of Twilight’s tail that began to move up towards the rest of her body.
Sonic stared in horror as Twilight began to turn gray. He pushed Discord’s eagle talon off his mouth and tried to run towards her, only to have his right arm grabbed by both of the draconequus’ hands. Physically, he was stronger than one might’ve guessed a Spirit to be; without his speed, Sonic couldn’t shake his way free. “No! Twilight!” he cried, reaching his left hand out towards her. “Don’t listen to him! You have friends! I… You trusted me and I listened to you! Your friends will listen to you too! You’re stronger than this! Don’t let him win! Fight it! Don’t lose your faith in your friends!”
Behind him, Discord smirked, “Oh please, Sonic, why are you trying to plant more lies in her head? She’s already accepted the truth. A little change never hurt anypony anyway.” Sonic growled and clenched his left hand into a fist as his eyes moved in Discord’s direction. Before he could turn around and try to wipe that smirk off his face, the draconequus took his lion paw off of Sonic’s arm and raised it up, snapping his fingers.
Almost instantly, a flash appeared around Sonic’s legs and on Twilight’s forehead; the unicorn’s horn reappeared and Sonic’s speed was returned, throwing the hedgehog off for a second. And a second was all it took; Discord released Sonic’s arm and grinned, “And you’re about to learn that for yourself. Arrivederci!” And with that, he reached down with his lion paw. As the gray began to cover her completely, Twilight gasped quietly as Discord tapped Sonic’s head with his lion’s paw index finger, the blue hedgehog wincing and Discord vanishing with his chaos immediately afterwards…
Spike, Shining Armor, Cadance, and Twilight’s friends watched in surprise as the video continued to play; it showed Sonic finding Twilight after she snuck off into the forest and both of them talking, Sonic not only listening to Twilight but also trying to help her feel better. Luna and Celestia, both now standing up, were only mildly surprised, though Celestia might have had something on her mind or she was still partly in shock, and Tails was hardly surprised at all. After all, that level of caring was pretty much par for the course for Sonic; he usually had a shoulder to lean on, either figuratively or literally.
Despite having to listen to his nemesis talking, Eggman’s grin never once wavered while the video played. As it came to an end, he snapped his fingers, the Time Eater raising its hands and using its power to make the screen vanish. Eggman then spoke, “So let’s review the facts, my little ponies. You’ve all known Twilight for quite a while, Spike, Shining Armor, Cadance, and Celestia knowing her even longer and at least one of them being able to recognize when she’s under stress, and unless Twilight is addressing a large group of ponies, you’re all extremely quick to brush off her worries or misgivings as mere annoyances! Sonic, on the other hand, hasn’t even known her a full day and he was able to recognize Twilight needed somebody to talk to, even if her reasons for needing someone were ridiculous! I suppose that comes from the fact that he’s not crazy like the rest of you are!”
Rainbow Dash yelled, “Crazy?! What do you mean, crazy?!”
Eggman replied, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but when Nightmare Moon returned, you five decided to stick with Twilight despite her saying she’d rather go alone. You stuck by her and shared the magic of friendship with her. Whatever happened to that attitude? Are you all hypocrites or something? You stood by her when she said it wasn’t necessary, and then when she comes asking for help, you turn your backs on her?! If that’s the case, it’s no wonder you were blind to what you were doing to her!”
Fluttershy squeaked, “D-Doing to her…?”
Eggman said, “You didn’t notice that she was trying to either refute or confirm her suspicions about the mountain! If you couldn’t notice something that simple, it’s no wonder you didn’t notice, deep down, she was hurting because of you, because you couldn’t be bothered to listen or talk to her!”
Rarity stammered, “But… that doesn’t sound like Twilight. If she wanted to talk to us or know we forgave her for everything that happened, why didn’t she?”
Eggman asked, “When have any of you ever actually had to beg for forgiveness from each other? The closest any of you got to that was Fluttershy, and it was after she proved she was giving up her new ways. If Twilight had to beg or ask if you forgave her, that would be petty and selfish, wouldn’t it? She probably thought that would make her look like a foal again and NOT a friend! So what exactly could she do that would make her look mature? Not much, other than pushing how she felt into the back of her head and trying to prove herself as a friend! Speaking of which, tell me, has Twilight been showing any unusual behaviors as of late?”
Applejack thought for a moment and then said, “Well… there’ve been times where it seems like she’s been tryin’ ta make extra time fer us or do anythin’ we want. Ah mean, she’s usually willin’ ta help if somepony asks her, but she’s seemed pretty eager ta help lately.”
Eggman nodded, “As I thought. She’s been trying to prove she’s more than what she’s been reduced to. Time and effort wasted on you self-serving idiots.”
Cadance shouted, “How dare you say such a thing! What do you know, you horrible human?!”
Eggman asked, “You want to know what I know, Cadance? I’ll tell you what I know for sure now: your little Twilight is seen as little more than a babysitter by her ‘friends’, said ‘friends’ don’t notice things that threaten their happiness until it’s right in front of them, and Twilight’s feelings don’t matter to them!”
Rainbow, now desperate, shouted, “Y-You’re wrong! We do care about how Twilight feels!”
Eggman asked, “Have you ever told her that?”
Rarity stammered, “W-Well, Twilight’s a smart girl. She should…”
Eggman interrupted her, “HAVE YOU?”
The ponies looked at each other for a few seconds before Applejack hung her head and said, “…No.”
Eggman nodded, “My point exactly. Based on you, the ones she surrounds herself with, it looks like Twilight was only half-right. Friendship IS worth fighting for… but only when it has benefits.” As if on cue, a strange popping sound was heard and Eggman peered over the side of his Eggmobile to see a familiar draconequus below. “Ah, Discord! I was just thinking about you!” he grinned.
The draconequus held up his two-way mirror to observe himself while nonchalantly saying, “JUST thinking, Doctor? I’m amazed others don’t think about me more often. So what did I miss?” He glanced up and saw Celestia turn around and run towards the edge of the area like a scared child, Luna shouting her name before running after her. They both ran past the other Element Bearers and to the shield keeping Tails, Shining Armor, Cadance, and Spike out, both of them somehow able to get past and vanishing through the portal. “Oh, come on! I missed seeing Celestia get her fat flank handed to her?! How did you do that?! I’ve never been able to do that to her!” Discord complained.
Eggman replied, “Oh, relax, Discord! Even with her sister, she was no match for the Time Eater! Maybe in whatever time is left for the current Equestria, she can keep her name from being ruined! Just look at the Element Bearers!” Discord looked down at Twilight’s friends and noticed the somber state they were in, gazing down at the ground and looking like they didn’t care they were caught in his traps.
He smirked, “Looks like I underestimated you after all, Doctor. Even knowing what effect words can have, I didn’t think you could break them this badly without magic. Speaking of which…” He raised his eagle talon and snapped his fingers, the distractions he had conjured up vanishing as quickly as they had appeared.
Pinkie Pie briefly returned to normal when she noticed her tub of sweets and candy was gone. “Hey, I was still eating that!” she cried.
“Oh, were you? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, Pinkie Pie… but I’m not giving it back to you. You may represent my favorite Element, but that doesn't mean you’re my favorite pony. That and your little comment about Sweet Mountain being better than my chaos really hurt. I only gave you that tub to keep you busy while I was gone; when I’m around, just for that comment, you don’t get to experience any of my chaos, you poor excuse for a friend! For a pony who likes to make others smile, you’ve certainly been neglecting the smile of one of your closest friends, haven’t you?” Discord taunted. Pinkie was immediately reminded of what Eggman had said and started crying, tears falling from her eyes like waterfalls.
Eggman grunted, “Hmm. I was wondering when that dam was going to burst.”
Discord smirked, “Well, it won’t be going for much longer. Let’s add a touch of… chaos to this collection of long faces.” He rested the side of his head on top of his lion paw hand, his fingers still wrapped around his mirror. He then rested his elbow on top of Cubot’s head while he held up his eagle talon, the fingers pointing up as he let his magic spread out. Spike, Tails, Cadance, and Shining soon noticed gray beginning to creep up the bodies of the Element Bearers. They pounded on the shield and tried to call out to them, but it didn’t seem to be of any use. The gray was still overtaking their real coats, still climbing up their bodies…