Various tools littered the floor on the second floor of the Ponyville Library, the upstairs area having been turned into Tails' temporary workshop. The fox himself was sitting in the middle of the floor, his toolbox next to him as he made some repairs to his radar. "That blast from the Chaos Emeralds sure took care of the changelings and restored quite a bit of color to Ponyville, even affecting Whitetail Wood, but it also fried out my new handheld. I'm glad it didn't completely destroy it, or I'd have to totally start from scratch again," he murmured to himself. He looked over at Twilight's writing desk, where he had laid out the Chaos Drives and Power Cores he'd collected and said, "Still, this gives me an excuse to make some improvements to it. I should be able to make the radar more accurate at least."
He turned his attention back to the radar, focusing on getting it repaired quickly and correctly. As he worked, he allowed his mind to wander to recent events. "With the changelings gone, everybody's busy doing something. After he returned the Master Emerald to Angel Island, along with Chaos and Tikal, Knuckles went with Big to help the ponies start repairing the damages caused by the changelings. Amy, Cream, and Cheese went with Applejack and the Cutie Mark Crusaders to look for Granny Smith and any other ponies that might have been brought back. Team Dark is making sure that the changelings don't come back, along with Espio I'm sure, and Fluttershy went to check on her animals. With Gilda gone who knows where and Rainbow Dash checking on her home and Tank, that just leaves me, Sonic, Twilight, Spike, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie together at the moment. I wish we could help out too, but everybody has their own thing to do for now, and right now somebody's got to keep working on restoring Ponyville and the rest of Equestria to normal."
At that thought, he looked up and glanced out the nearby window, saying, "Now that I think about it, I wonder what Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are doing right now. Are they still talking with the Mayor? I wonder how they're taking things."
While Tails turned back to his radar, out in front of the library, Mayor Mare was indeed still talking with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. After everyone had split up, the princesses had come across the tan mare while they were going with Twilight and the others back to the library. Celestia had given Twilight the Elements of Loyalty and Honesty and told her that they would come find her and the others at the library once they discussed the situation with the Mayor. The discussion quickly turned into the earth pony telling them what Twilight and Tails had deduced back at the town hall following the Nightmare Moon encounter.
When the Mayor finished talking, Celestia asked, "And that is everything that Twilight and Tails told you, Miss Mayor?"
The tan mare replied, "Yes, your highness. I'm afraid I don't know how they came to that conclusion, but as strange as it sounds, what they said does seem to make sense. I certainly couldn't come up with a better explanation for why Ponyville is in this
unusual white world or why there are suddenly human-like animals here."
Luna spoke, "Perhaps we should ask them ourselves, see if they have made any changes to their theory. Would you like us to tell you if they have, Miss Mayor?"
The Mayor shifted a bit nervously. She'd accepted Luna just like the rest of Ponyville on Nightmare Night, but even with the Lunar Princess' quiet demeanor, she still carried a certain air about her reminiscent of olden times. It gave her a certain authority that the tan mare wasn't used to; even her older sister didn't have it, or at least it didn't seem to hang around her. "Er, only if they have made any serious changes to it, Princess Luna. By which I mean if they've discovered anything that could be particularly dangerous, of course! No need to tell me if they've only made minor adjustments!" she quickly said.
Celestia nodded, "As you wish, Miss Mayor. If you'll excuse us
The earth pony bowed, saying, "Of course, your highnesses. I am going to go check on the reconstruction efforts." The Princesses nodded at the Mayor as she stood up and they watched for a minute as she trotted away from the library. A moment later, they turned to the front door of the library and walked towards it, Celestia using her magic to open it.
Inside, they saw Sonic, Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Spike gathered in the lobby of the library. Pinkie was happily bouncing around the room in a circle; as the sisters watched, they heard her spouting, "And then those beams came out of that big shiny emerald like ZING! Then Sonic and Tails and Shadow all lit up like colorful lights and then the emeralds floated up, up, and away! And then they came together and they were all like SHOOM and then BOOM!"
Taking a look at the others, Celestia and Luna noticed the others were doing an excellent job of tuning the hyperactive pony out while she spouted random matters of interest. Sonic and Twilight were standing by the table in the center of the library with all the collected Chaos Emeralds and Elements of Harmony laid out in front of them. Twilight was using a quill to write something on a scroll and Rarity and Spike were standing off to the side, Spike's eyes secretly fixed on Rarity while the white unicorn's eyes were looking at the emeralds on the table.
Sonic, while looking over the emeralds and necklaces, noted, "Three Chaos Emeralds and three Elements of Harmony
We're roughly halfway to a full collection, huh Twilight?"
The lavender unicorn, while keeping her eyes focused on the scroll in front of her, absently replied, "Uh-huh."
Sonic looked over at her, watching the quill dance across the paper under the influence of her magic. A moment later, he asked, "What are you writing, anyway?"
Twilight, still focused on the scroll, replied, "Just making a checklist based off of what I've heard from you and Tails."
Sonic leaned over to get a look at the list she was making. At the top of the of the checklist, divided into two columns, was a list of his and Twilight's missing friends, each of them identified by a little drawing of their respective heads (she'd even done one for herself!). Except for Blaze, Zecora, Vector, Big Macintosh, Charmy, and Derpy, each of them had a little checkmark in the box in front of their heads. Below that list were two more columns, one for the Chaos Emeralds and one for the Elements of Harmony, both columns having three checkmarks in them. Sonic couldn't help but take note of her thoroughness.
Shaking his head, he asked, "Why are you making a checklist?"
Twilight finally looked up at him, smiling as she said, "It
well, it's just something I like to do. It helps me feel more organized." She looked past him and noticed Celestia and Luna stepping inside, Celestia pulling the door closed behind her. "Oh! Princess Celestia and Princess Luna!" she exclaimed. Looking back at Sonic, she murmured, "Uh, can you excuse me, Sonic? I should, uh
Sonic nodded, "Sure, no problem." Twilight nodded gratefully and walked over to the two Princesses, greeting them. Sonic watched her for a second before looking back down at the table. He looked over at her checklist; it seemed normal enough. He could believe that it was something she did often. Looking back at the emeralds and necklaces, he thought to himself, "What was it the Changeling Queen said? Something about my friends being like 'her' friends? Was she talking about Twilight? I don't know who else she could be referring to if not Twilight or one of her friends, but
Twilight mentioned her brother's wedding to me earlier, and the changelings tried to take over Canterlot on her brother's wedding day. Is there a connection?"
He was brought of his thoughts when he felt a poke and looked up to see Spike standing in front of him on the table. "Oh, hey Spike. What's up?" Sonic asked.
Spike glanced around, seeing Twilight talking with the Princesses, Pinkie still bouncing around the room, and Rarity keeping her distance for the time being. Seemingly satisfied, he turned back to Sonic and said, "Oh, not much. I was just wondering if you had any dating advice you could share with me."
Sonic raised an eyebrow, "Dating advice? What makes you think I'd know anything about dating?"
Spike scratched his head as he replied, "Well, I thought you were holding out on me when the Changeling Queen was posing as you and acting all close with Amy."
Sonic asked, "And you're assuming I know anything about dating on that alone?"
Spike shrugged, "The way Amy was acting made me wonder. I mean, listening to her, you'd think you two have been dating for a while."
Sonic crossed his arms, "We have
in her mind. I stand by what I said, Spike. Until Amy stops with the whole 'heavily infatuated' thing, she's not my girlfriend."
Spike kept prodding, "Well, then you've thought about it, haven't you?" He turned and nudged Sonic with his elbow, grinning, "It's cool, dude. Even if they're just ideas, you can share them with me."
Sonic deadpanned, "Dude, talking to me about this sort of thing is a waste of time."
Spike leaned back and pleaded, "Aw, come on! There's nothing wrong with two guys talking about that sort of thing! I won't tell anypony, I swear! Not even if it turns out you really do like Amy!" He looked up at Sonic's face to see the same deadpan expression on his face; he held his claws up, muttering, "Okay, okay, I get it. Sheesh
" He then turned and walked to the edge of the table, hopping down onto the library floor.
Sonic watched him for a moment before shaking his head. "Wonder if he's looking for advice to get Rarity to notice him?" he wondered.
Speaking of the white unicorn, she sauntered up to his side and spoke, "You're just shy about admitting you like the dear girl, aren't you, Sonic?"
Sonic looked at her and groaned, "Not you too, Rarity
The white unicorn insisted, "Oh posh, darling! I've seen the way she talks and carries herself around you. You two would make quite the couple!"
Sonic replied, "Yeah, a high-speed hedgehog and a girl who, whenever she sees said hedgehog, gets stuck in squeal mode. Definitely a match made in heaven."
Rarity waved a hoof, "Oh, don't be so crass. She really likes you! You just need a proper gift to show her how much you care." Looking down at the Chaos Emeralds, she added, "And I can certainly help with that."
Sonic followed her gaze and said, "Don't tell me you already have plans to make a dress or a ring or something with the Chaos Emeralds."
Rarity looked up at him and replied, "Oh, perish the thought, Sonic! They're beautiful, yes, but even I wouldn't go so far as to use them as though they were no different from any other gem."
Sonic shrugged, "I think Rouge said something similar once."
Rarity looked at the emeralds again as she said, "I wondered why my gem-finding spell was acting so strange around you. I thought it was acting up, but it was actually responding to the gems you had! But I digress; I do not see why they are called 'Chaos' Emeralds. They certainly don't appear to be causing any chaos. Also, the purple and yellow ones look more like an amethyst and a topaz to me. Are you really sure they can be referred to as 'emeralds'?"
Pinkie suddenly popped up behind Sonic, surprising both him and Rarity as she spoke, "Oh Rarity, you're so silly! Of course they can be called emeralds! They were probably all green at one point and ended up changing colors! That's why you call them emeralds, right Sonic?"
Sonic looked back at her and replied, "Uh
maybe. I got to see into the past once and they were all already different colors by that time, so I don't know." Looking back at Rarity, he said, "As for why they're called the Chaos Emeralds
They were named after Chaos, the water creature that saved you and the others from the changelings."
Rarity gasped, "That's right! Twilight and Princess Celestia both said its name was Chaos! But
it seemed so
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, he's a nice guy. Except when someone manages to make him really angry or when the world is in danger. Then he lives up to his name."
Pinkie eagerly asked, "Really?! You mean he can make cotton candy clouds that rain chocolate milk?! Because that's what Discord did that I really liked!"
Sonic looked at her oddly before replying, "
No, he doesn't do that, Pinkie. At least I've never seen him do it."
Pinkie looked disappointed, "Aw
" She then asked, "What about you, Sonic? You know what these emeralds are; can you make cotton candy clouds?!"
Sonic shrugged, "I don't think strange happenings are all there is to chaos, Pinkie."
Princess Celestia's voice floated over, "Indeed. There is much more to it than that." Sonic, Rarity, and Pinkie looked over to see Celestia, Luna, and Twilight coming over, Twilight apparently done answering the two princesses' questions. Pinkie, while walking backwards, edged around Sonic while Rarity took a step back and Spike looked up from where he was sitting on the stairs. Sonic maintained his calm composure as the Princess of the Sun stood in front of him while Luna and Twilight stood back, looking on somewhat worriedly.
Celestia spoke, "I am not particularly fond of chaos, not after everything Discord caused before Luna and I used the Elements of Harmony on him all those years ago. If you're collecting them as Twilight says, then I'm afraid I require some information about them. Normally, I would have all of Equestria to think about, but right now, all I have is Ponyville."
Sonic scratched his head as he replied, "Well, they're not going to turn all Discord on us, if that's what you're wondering. I mean, I can't claim to know much about the guy, but I've never seen the Chaos Emeralds do anything like what Twilight's told me about."
Celestia asked, "Then why? Why are they called the Chaos Emeralds? And why is that water creature called Chaos?"
Sonic answered, "Chaos used to be a normal Chao, like Cheese, but when he came into contact with the Master Emerald, the big green emerald Knuckles had, it turned him into what he is now. He wanted to protect his fellow Chao, but Knuckles' tribe wanted the emeralds for themselves. They
well, they didn't try to take them nicely, let's just put it that way, and that made Chaos angry. In his anger, he used the negative power of the emeralds to become Perfect Chaos and destroyed most of Knuckles' tribe. Tikal managed to stop him and seal him inside the Master Emerald before he could destroy the rest of the world, but since then, they've been known as the Chaos Emeralds."
Celestia looked at him in silence for a moment; she then spoke, "You mentioned that the emeralds have negative powers, but when Knuckles used that
Master Emerald, he called upon your positive feelings. If their power is negative, how could he have done that?"
Sonic looked over at the emeralds and picked up the yellow one in his left hand. He then turned to Celestia and said, "Here, hold it." The Princess of the Sun looked down at it, eying it warily as she lifted a hoof out of one of her boots and took it out of the hedgehog's hand. As soon as she held it up, her wary look disappeared as she felt the power within the emerald. It didn't beckon to her, mess with her mind
it felt warm, life-giving. This was unexpected.
She looked up at Sonic as he explained, "The Chaos Emeralds are essentially alive in their own way. They can sense the feelings of whoever uses their power. And their energy is changed depending on the kind of feelings they can sense. Negative feelings, you can bet nothing good can come of it. Positive feelings
well, miracles happen is the only way I can think to phrase it." He then held a hand to his chin as he pondered, "Maybe Discord was able to do all those things he did because of the way he used his own power."
Celestia nodded, "Perhaps. It doesn't forgive some of the things he did, though. But I understand what you are saying." She then held the emerald out to Sonic, saying, "If you're as familiar with these emeralds as you say you are
well, I'll listen to what you're saying."
Sonic took the emerald back and smiled, "Thanks, Celestia. Er, I mean Princess Celestia." She placed her hoof back in its boot and held it up, waving it to indicate she understood he meant no offense. Twilight and Luna smiled at this.
Celestia then looked behind Sonic, noticing Pinkie Pie had walked up behind him and was flicking one of his quills absently. "Excuse me, Pinkie Pie, but what are you doing?" she asked. Sonic turned around to look at the pink earth pony at that.
"I thought I saw a shiny on Sonic's back! I wanted to see it again!" Pinkie explained. Confused, Sonic ran a hand back through his quills. After a minute, a crystal came loose and fell on the floor of the library.
Everybody looked at it. "What's that?" Twilight asked.
"Looks like quartz. Must've ended up in my quills without me even realizing it," Sonic replied. Running his hand through his quills again, he dislodged some smaller crystals, all of them landing on the floor as well.
Rarity looked at them all with sparkling eyes. "Ooh, simply exquisite! I don't believe I've ever seen such pure, beautiful crystals before!" she exclaimed.
"And I don't believe I've ever tasted one before!" Spike said, leaping up and dashing down the stairs.
Rarity held him back from grabbing one of the crystals, saying, "Now, now, Spike. They wound up in Sonic's fur; he gets to decide what to do with them. Still
" She closed her eyes and walked over to Sonic, opening her eyes and giving the hedgehog one of her best looks. "You wouldn't happen to be willing to part with these crystals, would you, Sonic?" she asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes.
Sonic shrugged, "Sure, go ahead and take them."
Rarity looked confused, "Really?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, no problem. I doubt I'm gonna use them for anything." Although she was still confused about why her charms didn't seem to have an effect on Sonic, Rarity began to gather up the quartz crystals, giving a few to Spike to munch on.
Suddenly, the front door burst open and Rainbow Dash flew inside. She landed on the wood floor and said, "Hey guys, I'm back! My house is okay, Tank is doing fine and
" She then realized the two princesses were there and exclaimed, "Oh! Princess Celestia, Princess Luna! I'm sorry! I was so caught up in the moment I almost didn't notice you!"
Princess Celestia came over and said, "That's quite all right, Rainbow Dash, just as long as your house and your pet tortoise are okay."
Luna and Twilight walked over to Sonic, Luna whispering, "This has been quite a day for surprises."
Sonic replied, "Yeah, that's one way of looking at it."
The door leading to Twilight's study opened and Tails stepped out, peering down at the scene below him. "Uh, I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked. His question caught everybody's attention and they all looked up at him.
Sonic spoke first, "Hey Tails. What's up, bud?"
As the fox started to come down the stairs, Twilight asked, "Were you able to fix your radar?"
Tails, as he reached the bottom of the stairs, answered, "Yeah, I managed to get it working again thanks to all those parts I picked up. I was also able to add a few things to it."
Sonic grinned, "Can you play Tetris on it now?"
Tails gave him an odd look, but smiled, "Not yet. I'm still working on that." He then held up the radar in his left hand and said, "But I did make the screens bigger, added a map of Ponyville and the surrounding areas, and improved the radar's ability to pinpoint the location of portals." He then held it up in front of his face and turned it on. A few seconds later, he spoke, "Hey, look at this!"
Sonic, Twilight, Rainbow, Celestia, and Luna came over, looking over the fox's shoulders (or in Rainbow's case, over his head) at the dual screens. The bottom screen was displaying all sorts of numbers that were rapidly cycling while the top screen displayed a detailed map of Ponyville. They all soon noticed a blinking dot in the corner, Luna asking, "What is that?"
Tails replied, "That should be where the next portal has appeared. With the improvements I made, I should have its frequency soon."
Rainbow asked, "Hey Twilight? Isn't that the spot where we watched the meteor shower from?"
Twilight looked at the spot carefully for a moment before replying, "I think you're right, Rainbow. That looks like the same hill."
Princess Celestia looked at Tails and asked, "What is this frequency you mentioned, Tails? What do you need it for?"
While watching the numbers cycle, Tails replied, "Well, each portal we've come across leads to a specific location set in a specific point in time. With the frequencies, we can pinpoint their locations and know when new ones open up so we're not running around aimlessly looking for them."
Celestia nodded, "I see. I can see how that wouldn't be easy to do, especially now with all the ponies being brought back."
Tails looked up at her and replied, "That's right, princess!" A sudden beeping caught his attention and he looked at the bottom screen of the radar to see the frequency had been recorded. "Got it
Huh?" As he spoke, both screens suddenly went black.
"What happened?" Twilight asked.
"I think you might have a bug or two to work out, Tails," Sonic noted.
The fox looked up at him and replied, "Yeah
That might be because I replaced the old power unit with those Chaos Drives I picked up, or maybe something else needs to be replaced."
Luna asked, "What can we do?"
Tails rubbed his head as he answered, "I don't know. I'll need to open it up again and see if I can find the problem."
Rainbow said, "Well, at least it showed us where this new portal is. We should go check it out!"
Twilight asked, "Yeah, but
what about the radar?"
Tails shrugged, "Guess I'll be sitting this one out to fix it."
Sonic asked, "You sure, buddy?"
Tails nodded at him, "Yeah. It's helped save us a lot of time. And once I know what the problem is, it should be easy to fix. Besides, I'm sure you guys will be able to handle whatever is on the other side of that portal without me."
Rainbow said, "Probably, but
it's not going to be the same without you, you know?"
Tails smiled, "Hey, it's not like I'm dropping out for good, Rainbow. I'll be back in it with you guys before long. You guys should get going."
Rarity spoke, "But Applejack and Fluttershy are not back yet. We can't leave without them at least knowing where we're going."
Sonic stepped away from Tails and leaned back against the table in the center of the room, resting his elbows on it as Rainbow landed next to him. "Yeah, I guess you have a point, Rarity. We can't just leave them hanging," he said.
Princess Celestia, who had stepped back along with her sister, spoke up after a few moments, "I have an idea." Everybody looked at her at that. She continued, "I am curious to see where these 'portals' lead, so Luna and I will go with Sonic and Rainbow Dash to investigate."
Even Sonic was surprised to hear this, the hedgehog standing up straight and asking, "What?!"
Celestia smiled at him, "What? After helping face down the changelings, you don't think we would be able to help?"
Sonic replied, "No! I already know a princess who knows how to defend herself. I just didn't know you were so forward, princess."
Luna looked at Celestia and said, "Sister, you
are you mad?! I understand that, as rulers, we don't get out often, but traveling through time and space was not exactly high on my list of things I'd do on a day off!"
Celestia looked at her and replied, "Luna, I understand why you are worried, but as rulers, we have to be ready to manage a crisis when it appears. And Twilight was right; our world and Sonic's world have both been caught up in this crisis, and the only way to resolve it completely is if we all come together. I'm sure Sonic and his friends can fill us in, but perhaps we could understand better if we experienced what Twilight and her friends have been doing with Sonic so far firsthoof."
Luna gave her sister a hard look for a minute before relenting, "Well, when you put it that way
Rarity asked, "Princess, what shall I, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and Spike do?" Spike looked up when he heard his name, bits of quartz sticking out of his mouth.
Celestia looked at him for a moment before saying, "Spike may do whatever he wishes for now. As for Twilight, I believe she could most certainly help Tails with his repairs in some way."
Tails looked at the lavender unicorn and said, "Sure! It would definitely go faster if someone was willing to stay behind and help."
Twilight looked down for a moment, thinking before she looked back up at the fox and replied, "Okay, I'll help. Although I'm not sure my magic will be able to help you here. When we were fixing those devices, the only thing I really did was charge them up. I'm not really sure I know how to control my magic for precise work with machinery."
Pinkie Pie piped up, "Machine work? Hang on!" She zipped over to one of the bookcases and grabbed a book with her teeth before zipping back over to where she had been standing and throwing the book in Twilight's direction. "'Floodgate Control: A Unicorn's Guide to Managing Magic and Machinery'," she stated proudly.
As Twilight held the book up and flipped through it with her magic, Sonic looked over at Pinkie and asked, "How'd you know where that was?"
The pink party pony replied, "It was the last book I saw before I came over to talk to you and Rarity!"
After a minute of flipping through the book, Twilight said, "Hey Pinkie, this is perfect! Thank you!"
The pink pony bounced up and down happily, "Whoo-hoo!"
Tails looked at Twilight and asked, "So you'll help?" Twilight looked at him and nodded, so Tails said, "Great! And while we're working, maybe you could tell me a little bit about unicorn magic. I have to admit, I'd really like to know more about it."
Sonic nodded, "Me too! If saving two worlds wasn't at the top of our to-do list, I'd totally stick around and listen." Looking up at Celestia, he asked, "Speaking of which, is it safe to assume that Rarity and Pinkie Pie are going to be the ones who tell Applejack and Fluttershy what's going on right now?"
Celestia nodded, "If they don't mind, that is."
Pinkie Pie spoke, "Oh, absolutely, Princess Celestia! We'll tell them! Besides, I should totally see how Mr. and Mrs. Cake and Pumpkin Cake and Carrot Cake and Gummy are doing! I can do that before I go see Fluttershy! Ooh! Should I give her a singing telegram?!"
Twilight smiled weakly, "Whatever you prefer, Pinkie."
Rarity said, "And I shall go inform Applejack of this turn of events as soon as I take these crystals back to the Carousel Boutique." She and Pinkie then started for the door, but Rarity stopped partway and looked back, saying, "Oh, before we go
when you're all done, we'll all meet over at Sweet Apple Acres." She then opened the door with her magic and trotted out gracefully with Pinkie Pie bouncing along behind her.
Sonic looked at Rainbow and asked, "Sweet Apple Acres, huh?"
The cyan pegasus looked at him and said, "Yeah. Makes sense; Rarity probably wouldn't want to just walk to the farm, tell Applejack what's going on, and then go back the way she came to meet up at, say, the park where we have our pony pet play date."
Tails nodded, "Okay. A walk will probably do us some good after we finish." He then walked over to the table and picked up the Chaos Emeralds and Elements of Harmony on it. Looking at Sonic, he said, "Twilight and I will hang onto these for now. Do you still have the Warp Ring?"
Sonic reached into his quill and pulled the ring out, twirling it on his left index finger as he replied, "Got it."
Tails nodded, "Good. I want you to have it with you just in case anything happens." Sonic nodded; Tails then walked over to Twilight and said, "Come on, Twilight! Tell me about unicorn magic while I work!"
Twilight smirked; how could she pass up a chance to go into lecture mode, especially with someone so eager? She conjured up a pair of glasses as she followed Tails up the stairs. As the upstairs door closed, everyone downstairs heard her saying, "All right, then. We'll start with the basic theory of magic
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and smiled, "Eggheads."
Sonic shrugged, "Eh, what are you gonna do?" He then put the Warp Ring away and asked, "So, would you happen to know where this hill is?"
Rainbow nodded, "You bet! Follow me!" She then cantered towards the library's still-open front door, Sonic and the princesses following behind her. As she stepped out, Luna used her magic to quietly close the door.
Spike, still sitting on the floor, eyed the door for a minute. He then looked upstairs, Twilight's voice carrying somewhat through the closed wooden door. He then glanced down at the quartz crystals in his claws and on the floor before shrugging, "Well, the princess said I could do whatever I want right now, so
" He proceeded to toss a crystal up, catching it in his mouth and crunching noisily, his eyes closed in bliss.
Sonic, Rainbow Dash, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna found themselves in a hallway exactly like the one that the portal in the town hall pavilion had led to. Sonic and Rainbow looked around; even though they had clearly entered the portal floating above the hill, it seemed as though it had led them to the same place. Even the stained glass windows along the sides of the room were the same.
Rainbow Dash soon asked, "How did we get back here? We went through the portal on the hill, not the one in the pavilion!"
Sonic shrugged, "Maybe it just looks the same as the hallway that the pavilion portal led to. You said there was an image on the door at the end of the hall, right, Rainbow?"
Rainbow looked at him and said, "Yeah! It had, uh... you-know-who on it!"
Luna raised an eyebrow, "Who is 'you-know-who'?"
Celestia looked at her younger sister and said, "I believe she's referring to the apparent encounter with Nightmare Moon that Twilight, Applejack, and Sonic had." Luna looked a little uneasy at that.
Sonic nodded, "Right. So if the door looks different, it must lead to somewhere different!"
Rainbow said, "I gotcha! Let's go check it out!" She and Sonic then ran towards the opposite end of the hall. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna followed them at their own pace, after Celestia gave Luna a little nudge to shake her out of her thoughts. When they reached the end of the hall, they found Sonic and Rainbow standing in front of a door that displayed an unusual-looking lizard on it. Rainbow looked at Sonic and asked, "Any idea what that is?"
Sonic held a hand up to his chin as he said, "It's hard to tell since it's a rough design, but it looks familiar. I think..." Before he could finish, the door started to open, a white light shining out from behind it and forcing everybody to cover their eyes for a moment. When they could look again, they saw that the door was open all the way and the white light seemed less harsh. Sonic and Rainbow looked at each other for a moment before running into the light. Celestia and Luna hesitated for a second before walking through the door themselves.
The four of them stepped out of a portal into a decagon-shaped room that Sonic instantly recognized, the portal instantly closing up behind them. There were four sheets of glass underneath them and several windows and some kind of computer at the opposite side of the room, the windows all allowing a clear view of both Earth and the stars. They all walked forward on the non-glass part of the floor, Sonic walking slightly ahead of Rainbow Dash and the princesses. "Where are we?" Rainbow Dash asked as she came to a stop.
Sonic continued walking forward, coming to a stop in front of one of the windows. He pointed out and, looking back over his shoulder, said, "Check out the view."
Rainbow, Celestia, and Luna walked over and looked out the window. All three of them were struck speechless when they saw the blue planet below. "Is
?" Celestia started.
Sonic nodded, "Yep. That's my world. And with that, let me be the first, and maybe the only one, to welcome you all to Space Colony ARK."
Rainbow looked at him with wide eyes, "Wait
this is THE ARK? The same one we saw earlier? Where Shadow was born?"
Sonic nodded, "The very same."
Rainbow exclaimed, "Oh man, this is so awesome! I wish everypony was here to see this, especially Twilight! You know she'd love to actually set hoof on this thing!"
Celestia looked at Sonic in surprise, "You mean
your world is so advanced that you can actually live in space?"
Sonic replied, "Not really. The ARK is the only one of its kind right now, and it was meant to only be used for scientific testing and experimentation."
Luna asked, "If this is a 'research center', why is it so quiet and empty?"
Rainbow said, "Because they shut it down fifty years ago over an 'accident'! It wasn't an accident; they weren't thinking when they heard about Gerald's experiments!"
Sonic asked, "Did Tails tell you and Applejack about that?" Rainbow nodded, so he said, "Okay then, because I told Twilight, Spike, and Scootaloo about it. I was wondering if you knew about the whole accident too, but I never got around to asking you."
Before Celestia and Luna could ask what they were talking about, a sudden sound outside caught everyone's attention. "What's that?" Celestia asked.
Sonic looked towards the window, "It sounds like the Eclipse Cannon is opening up!" He pressed his hands up against the window, looking out as Rainbow Dash pressed her forehooves up against it and looked out as well. Celestia and Luna looked out the window, though they kept their forehooves on the floor.
Outside they could see the Eclipse Cannon's cover opening up, exposing the weapon that destroyed the Black Comet. As they looked out at it, something began to appear along the length of it, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. When it was done, they could see a massive, two-legged lizard attached to the Eclipse Cannon!
"What in the name of Tartarus?!" Luna exclaimed.
"Luna!" Celestia admonished her younger sister.
Rainbow looked at Sonic and asked, "What is that thing?!"
Sonic looked back at her, asking, "Did Tails mention anything about Gerald Robotnik's experiments prior to Shadow's creation to you and Applejack?"
Rainbow nodded, "Yeah. I think he mentioned something about lizard research."
Sonic looked back out the window and said, "Well, there's the end result of that research. That thing out there is the prototype of the Ultimate Life Form!"
Rainbow looked back out the window in shock, "No way! That's what they had before Shadow?! That thing?!"
Celestia looked at Sonic and asked, "Is it dangerous?"
Sonic replied, "Well, the last time it attached itself to the ARK, it was trying to keep the colony on its crash course to Earth to destroy the planet."
Rainbow grimaced, "Not cool. Not cool at all."
The Biolizard swung its neck back, its head raised as it let out a roar. "What is it doing?" Luna asked.
Sonic replied, "I don't know. But it doesn't look happy, so I'm not waiting to find out." He reached into his quills and pulled out the Warp Ring. Turning around, he tossed it up, the ring expanding with a *PHVWOW*.
Rainbow asked, "What are you doing, Sonic?"
The hedgehog replied, "I'm going out there. The ARK has an extensive array of platforms on its underside that can be stood on. And it was designed to have an artificial atmosphere; no need to worry about the vacuum of space as long as you're near the ARK."
Rainbow said, "Well, in that case, I'm going with you!"
Celestia spoke up, "And Luna and I will accompany you as well."
Luna looked at her sister with wide eyes, "Celestia?!"
Sonic asked, "What? You seriously want to go up against a mutated lizard-thing?"
Celestia nodded, "Yes. Now that your world is caught up in this, Luna and I are responsible for it as well. I know you're more familiar than we are with that creature, but there would be no point in us coming with you in the first place if we did not help out, correct?"
Luna glanced out the window nervously at the Biolizard, murmuring, "I don't know, sister
Celestia looked back at her, giving her a reassuring look as she said, "Don't worry, Luna. I will not allow any harm to come to you."
Luna looked down at the ground, thinking, "It's not my own safety I'm worried about
Celestia turned to Sonic and Rainbow Dash, asking, "So, shall we fight alongside each other once again?"
Rainbow replied, "Hey, if you're sure you'll both be okay, princess, I don't have a problem with you and Luna coming!" She looked at Sonic and asked, "What do you think, Sonic?"
Sonic shrugged, "Sure. I know an old path that leads directly to the Eclipse Cannon." He walked over to the Warp Ring and placed a finger on it, saying, "I just need to adjust the Warp Ring so we don't run the risk of having no floor underneath us."
Rainbow said, "That's not really an issue for me or the princesses. I mean, we have wings and all."
Sonic replied, "But I don't. And we're close enough to Earth that its gravity will try to pull us down. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to risk a reentry into the atmosphere."
Celestia nodded, "A valid point. So how does
Sonic stepped away from the ring and gestured towards it, "All you have to do step through it. It'll send you from point A to point B in a second."
Celestia stepped towards it, examining the shining surface on the inside of the ring. "Interesting
And this will take us directly to this path you mentioned?" she asked.
Sonic nodded, "Yep. It's already set, princess. We're good to go." Nodding, Princess Celestia stepped through the ring, her majestic form vanishing as she passed through the shimmering surface on the inside. Sonic and Rainbow looked at Luna, the Lunar Princess looking back at them uncertainly for a moment before walking over and following Celestia through the ring. Sonic and Rainbow looked at each other for a moment before Rainbow went through the ring and Sonic followed her.
Upon stepping out of the other side of the Warp Ring, Sonic held up his left hand as the ring shrunk down. It then floated up and dropped down into the palm of his hand. He slipped it back into his quills and then looked around. He saw that he was standing on one of the rectangular platforms outside of the ARK along the path to the Eclipse Cannon and saw that Celestia, Luna, and Rainbow Dash were all standing nearby. Despite what Sonic had told them, both Rainbow and Celestia both looked amazed that they were actually standing out in space while Luna looked less impressed (though considering what Twilight had mentioned about her, Sonic guessed that that made sense).
They were all dragged back to the present when they heard a roar above them, all of them looking up to see the Biolizard looking down at them. "Whoa! He's even uglier up close!" Rainbow exclaimed.
"I bet he looked nicer before he was experimented on," Sonic commented.
Celestia looked at Sonic and asked, "Do you remember how to calm this creature?"
Sonic pointed up at the Biolizard and said, "There's a life support machine on his back. If that gets damaged or destroyed, he gets really weak."
Rainbow grinned, "No problem, then! I'll build up a little speed and fly right up there and take it out!" Before anyone could stop her, she spread her wings and took off, flying around the protrusions from the underside of the ARK as she built up speed.
Luna asked, "Should we go after her?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah. I don't know what she has in mind, but it's going to take more than one hit to take that thing out."
Celestia looked back at Sonic and asked, "What do you propose we do?"
Sonic replied, "You and Luna can fly on ahead after Rainbow. I'll go the long way around and start working on a plan. I should have a better idea of what to do after I take stock of the situation. The ARK was falling to Earth the last time that thing appeared, after all. There was no need for a plan then."
Celestia nodded, "Understood. Come, Luna, we must hurry if we are to catch up with Rainbow Dash." She then spread her wings and leapt off the platform, flying in the direction Rainbow Dash had been going. Luna hesitated for a second, looking back at Sonic for a moment before following her sister.
Sonic, meanwhile, leapt on a nearby grinding rail and began to grind along it, heading for the Eclipse Cannon. As he reached the end of the rail and began to move on foot, he looked up at the Biolizard and thought, "He may not be as weak as he was the first time, but that life support machine is still the only part of him that's not protected. As long as we keep it together, we'll be able to defeat that thing, even without the Chaos Emeralds."
Soon, with Rainbow Dash
Rainbow glanced at the Biolizard as she zipped around another tower, building up speed. She eyed the device strapped to its back, noting the dome-like protrusion on top of it. "That must be the weak spot Sonic mentioned. All I gotta do is pop that bubble and we're done here. As I thought, one good Sonic Rainboom should be all it takes!" she thought. She faced forward again, planning to fly towards the Biolizard.
Before she could get far, however, she became aware someone was calling her name and looked back to see Princess Celestia and Princess Luna flying behind her (though they were still some distance away). Noticing a square-shaped platform below, she landed on it and waited for the princesses. Once they were in hearing range, Rainbow asked, "Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, what are you both doing here?"
Celestia and Luna landed a second later, Celestia replying, "To watch over you, Rainbow Dash. Sonic is not so sure whatever you are planning will be enough to stop this
Rainbow asked, "What?! How can he say that?! I wrecked a barn once with my flying! A Sonic Rainboom should be more than enough to trash that thing's life support system without putting anypony in danger!"
Luna spoke, "Your dedication to others is admirable, Rainbow Dash, but surely you don't think you can do this by yourself?"
Rainbow replied, "Of course, princess! It'll be just like the royal wedding!" Without waiting for a response, she spread her wings and took off, flying up again.
Luna looked at Celesta and asked, "Sister
Celestia nodded, "We'll continue to keep watch. Make sure she is able to pull off a Sonic Rainboom in space. It feels as though something about this artificial atmosphere is very different from the atmosphere we're used to
" She then spread her wings and took off, Luna following behind her.
As they flew after the cyan pegasus, they could see she was flying around the floating platforms and the protrusions from the underside of the ARK to build up her speed again. Once she was sure she had built up enough speed, she started flying towards the Biolizard. As she flew under a walkway leading directly to the Eclipse Cannon, she saw Sonic running along it. Coming up on the other side of it, she shot him a grin and a wave of her hoof before she began to fly up above the Biolizard. This was it; the barrier break was coming
It never came.
As she reached the height of her ascent and changed direction to fly for the life support system, Rainbow realized she wasn't close to breaking the sound barrier yet. Gritting her teeth, she poured on the speed as she flew for the Biolizard's life support system, sure she was close. She began to feel it, the waves in front and behind her, but it wasn't enough. Not only did she not perform the Sonic Rainboom, but she crashed into the side of the life support system, having not made sure she was spot-on with her target. Sonic saw her crash and started running again, the hedgehog having stopped when he saw her to watch what she was doing.
Celestia and Luna, meanwhile, saw what happened as well and flew into action. Celestia could already see that Sonic was moving to help Rainbow, so she turned to Luna and said, "We have to distract it! Quickly, Luna!" The Lunar Princess nodded and they flew up towards the Biolizard, Celestia unleashing a small beam of magic energy at it to draw its attention away from Sonic and Rainbow Dash.
The beam struck near the creature's left eye and it roared as it turned its head to look at the two princesses. It closed its mouth for a moment and then opened it again, firing a round of pink spheres at them. Celestia and Luna flew around these shots as best they could. They somehow managed to avoid the shots without losing part of a wing or worse. Celestia flew up along its right side while Luna flew up along its left side.
Along the Biolizard's right side, Celestia summoned more magic into her horn and unleashed a more powerful beam of magic energy, aiming for the creature's neck. When it struck, however, it did little more than push against the Biolizard before Celestia stopped using her magic. "It
it completely absorbed my attack
" she thought. She didn't get much time to ponder this as the Biolizard turned towards her and fired a beam of its own at her from its mouth. Celestia managed to get out of the way, though she could swear she had been close to losing part of her ethereal tail.
Pushing it out of her mind, she looked up to see Luna further up the beast's body, fluttering a short distance away from its life support machine. Celestia was confused; was she hesitating to attack? "Luna! Attack it!" she called, hoping her sister would be able to hear her. The Princess of the Night looked at her uncertainly for a moment before channeling her magic into her horn. It took her several seconds, longer than it should have taken for a being such as her, but she unleashed a weak cobalt blue beam from her horn.
It struck the center of the life support machine, but it didn't seem to have much effect, other than attract the Biolizard's attention. It swung its neck around and roared in her direction, Luna looking back at it with wide eyes. Celestia immediately began flying to her sister's side at that. She managed to reach Luna as the Biolizard fired several spheres in their direction. Celestia immediately used her magic to teleport them both away, the two princesses reappearing on the other side of the beast.
As they flapped their wings to remain in place, they heard Sonic call, "Luna, Celestia!" They turned to look. Sonic was sliding down the cable extending from the Biolizard's life support system with Rainbow Dash slung over his left shoulder. He held up the Warp Ring in his right hand and called, "Come on, we've gotta go!" He then threw the ring forward, sending it flying. Luna immediately flew towards him and Celestia flew after her. The ring grew to its full size a second later and Sonic leapt off where the cable split into two, carrying the still dazed mare with him through the ring. Luna followed soon after with Celestia hot on her hooves.