The ring deposited the four of them in a mostly gray room with dim lighting. While Sonic retrieved the Warp Ring, Celestia lit up her horn to provide a little extra light. In front of her, she could see that the room split in two directions. She turned to Sonic a second later and asked, "Where are we?"
Sonic replied, "We're back inside the ARK, near the research area. I remember passing through a little bit of this section when I was up here with Shadow."
Sonic eyes moved in Dash's direction as he heard the pegasus groan. He walked over to a nearby wall and gently set her down, kneeling in front of her. Dash raised a hoof to her forehead as she moaned, "I have a headache."
Sonic snickered and said, "Well, after a crash like that, I can believe it."
He stood up and backed up a few steps as Rainbow climbed to her hooves, still using one hoof to rub her forehead. She lowered it a second later and looked around. "Hey, where'd that thing go? And where are we for that matter?" she asked.
Sonic shrugged, "We're on the inside of the ARK. I figured it would be a good idea to fall back and come up with a plan."
Rainbow protested, "But
I had a plan!"
Sonic nodded, "I know. But you didn't really share it with us. I mean, you didn't abandon us or anything, but you kind of took off to do your own thing, Rainbow."
Rainbow replied, "I knew what I was doing! One Sonic Rainboom and that thing's life support machine would've been toast!" She looked away as she muttered, "Everything should've worked out. I pulled it off so easily at the wedding. Why couldn't I do it this time?"
Sonic held a hand up to his chin, running it back and forth as he thought of what to say. After a moment, he looked over his shoulder and saw Celestia and Luna talking. Judging by their body language, Sonic assumed they were also talking about what just happened. He nodded to himself; he then put his right thumb and index finger in his mouth and whistled loudly. Everypony immediately stiffened up and looked at him, the silence making the noise seem even louder. Sonic then made a 'T' shape with his hands and said, "Time out!"
Celestia asked, "Time out? What
Sonic explained, "I think it would do everyone in the room some good and clear up some of the tension in the air if we switched things up a bit."
Luna cocked her head, "Switched things up?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah." He walked over to Celestia and gestured for her to lower her head. The princess complied and Sonic started whispering in her ear.
Celestia looked at him once he was done talking and asked, "Are you sure that's wise, Sonic?"
Sonic replied, "I don't know, but I do know that I'm probably not the one who should be talking to Rainbow about her Sonic Rainboom. And I'm sure you've talked to Luna plenty of times in the past. It might be a good idea to let her talk with someone else."
Celestia looked at him for a moment before saying, "Well, Twilight did manage to help her greatly during her first Nightmare Night, when she wanted to be accepted by the ponies of Ponyville. Perhaps
it wouldn't hurt."
Sonic nodded; he then looked at Luna. The Lunar Princess looked back at him a bit worriedly, asking, "S-Sonic?"
Sonic held up a hand and said, "Luna
let's take a walk." He turned and started walking towards the left path, stopping briefly to look back over his shoulder. Luna looked at Celestia when he did, the Solar Princess nodding softly in response. Luna nodded back and then trotted towards Sonic, the hedgehog waiting until she was alongside him before he started walking again. Luna lit up her horn to provide a little extra light as they neared the corner.
After they passed out of sight, Princess Celestia turned to Rainbow Dash and walked over to her. The cyan pegasus began to get nervous at the sight of the princess towering over her and began to tremble and curl up slightly. "P-P-Princess, I
" she started.
Celestia held up a hoof to silence her, Rainbow immediately closing her mouth at the gesture. The princess then said, "It's all right, Rainbow Dash. Sonic holds nothing against you for trying to help, and Luna and I don't either. However, it's clear that stopping that creature will not be easy. So let's talk about your Sonic Rainboom
and what we can do to make sure it will work for the next time."
Meanwhile, with Sonic and Luna
Sonic and Luna stood at the top of a ramp, looking over the various powered down computer screens and looking at one of the ARK's old Gun Lift tracks. "My, this 'ARK' is certainly an impressive construct," Luna noted in an attempt to make conversation.
"Yeah, it sure is. I bet it was even more impressive when researchers lived here and it was up and running," Sonic said as he started to walk down the ramp.
Luna slowly followed him down, taking great care with each step she took. "It appears to be in rather good condition. Why has it not been resurrected yet?" Luna asked.
Sonic replied, "It's been hidden away from the world for the last fifty years due to the accident that occurred here. I think it's been left alone since the Black Arm invasion as part of the United Federation's homage to Shadow's creator, Professor Gerald."
Looking around, Luna asked, "So Shadow was born here?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, in a way. But I didn't want to walk with you to give you a history lesson. I mean, I'm sure you've had enough of those as it is."
Luna looked down as she murmured, "Yes
A thousand years spent in isolation in the Moon
I am still getting used to all the things that have changed since I was sealed in the very thing I am responsible for
Sonic glanced back at her as he asked, "Responsible
? You mean you're in charge of the Moon itself?"
Luna nodded, "Yes. I use my magic to raise the Moon every night. My sister uses her magic to do the same with the Sun, and during my banishment, she raised the Moon as well."
Sonic replied, "That's
cool, I guess. Being able to do both at once, I mean. But it sounds like it isn't easy being the Princess of the Night."
Luna said, "It is not. It never has been. Ponies look upon my night now as something wonderful and they even study it. This was not the case a thousand years ago." She sighed, "Nopony really appreciated me or the hard work I put into making my night sky beautiful
Sonic stopped and looked back at her sympathetically, the Lunar Princess coming to a stop as he said, "That's rough, Luna. Is that why
Luna nodded, "Yes. That is why I grew resentful of Celestia and tried to bring about nighttime eternal." She sat down on her haunches as she murmured, "A thousand years later, I broke free and tried to make the night eternal once more, only to be freed from my dark power by Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Celestia was happy to welcome me back, but the rest of Equestria
" She lowered her head as she closed her eyes, not caring that tears were beginning to gather. "I spent time in the castle learning about this age, learning everything I thought I'd need to know
And when I went out beyond Canterlot, all I learned just made ponies fear me more
As if that night didn't give them enough of a reason to
" She looked up at Sonic and glared at him, "I have never once touched a foal's backside for any malicious reason, Nightmare Moon or not! Do I look like a creature that would eat foals?! Is that the kind of thing ponies have become so quick to assume in this day and age?!"
Sonic, with his arms crossed, replied, "Are they so quick to believe their first judgment based on idle things they've heard and initial impressions? Sadly, yes. I should know; there are a lot of people in my world that are like that." Luna's glare receded, the princess looking at Sonic in silence as he spoke, "As someone who's fought to keep everyone in the world safe and keep the world from being ruled by a megalomaniac, I know what you mean. People didn't always welcome me with open arms. When my friends and I first showed up, we got a pretty negative response too. Some people were afraid of us, some reacted with hostility, and I'm pretty sure some people said things about us. We kept going, of course, but I still know that it can be disheartening to see people react that way instead of looking past the surface."
Luna looked at him with sad eyes. "S-Sonic
I had no idea
" she murmured.
Sonic shrugged, "It's all in the past. And when they saw what Dr. Eggman was like and what he was planning to do, they eventually changed their minds about us. Same with Shadow, once it was finally revealed what Professor Gerald really wanted."
Luna asked, "Shadow? But he's
he's so powerful
" She trailed off at that point.
But she didn't need to continue, because Sonic caught on to the source of her distress. "Luna, are you afraid of your own power?" he asked.
Luna hesitantly nodded, "I
Sonic said, "But you used it against the changelings! You used it to save Pipsqueak!"
Luna replied, "My sister was the one who mostly used her magic in that battle. I attempted other means, but
when I saw Pipsqueak in danger, my emotions got the better of me. Although it was completely different, it still reminded me of how I became Nightmare Moon in the first place
Sonic asked, "You mean
Luna explained, "I was not thinking properly when I saw ponies frolicking in my sister's sun and hiding away from my night. In my anger, I came across a new way to get them to notice me: through power. And
when I lost myself to it, I became Nightmare Moon
" She shuddered, "I can raise the Moon with hardly any effort. I can try to rule Equestria alongside Celestia. But I am afraid of falling prey to that desire again
Sonic asked, "Luna
you've tried to reconnect with the ponies of Equestria, right?"
Luna nodded, "Yes. There is an annual celebration called Nightmare Night. It is a festival involving fun activities and harmless scares, all started by the legend of Nightmare Moon. I went to Ponyville on that night to spend time among the common ponies and change what I thought was a dark celebration into a bright one. I had no idea that that's what it was all along."
Sonic said, "Your sister mentioned that Twilight helped you that night."
Luna replied, "Twilight Sparkle was the only pony who did not fear me when I arrived. She did everything she could to help me, even when my temper got the best of me. She
stood strong against my anger to help me again."
Sonic asked, "So she helped you to get accepted by the ponies of Ponyville?" Luna nodded; Sonic then said, "So that's why you'll help your sister rule, but not use your power." He then smiled, "Well, this is the perfect chance to work on that!"
Luna looked up at him in surprise, "What?"
Sonic explained, "You're in my universe now, Luna. There is nothing here that can cause you emotional baggage. What better place to work on getting your own power under control than a place where there is almost nothing to upset you? Learning to control your power while experiencing strong emotions might be a bit much to start with, but learning to control it in the first place is a better place to start. You can start by learning to keep it under control and help stop that prototype at the same time."
Luna stammered, "But
I do not know if I can
I might lose control
Something could happen that isn't supposed to
I don't want that to happen
Sonic smiled, "It won't, Luna. If there's one thing standing up against a megalomaniac has taught me, it's that, no matter what, you should never give up. That always seems like an easy way to avoid things you'd rather not remember, but there's always hope, no matter how little. As long as there's hope, you have to keep going, because giving up won't help anybody in the end. I'm sure Twilight learned that lesson too, when that Discord dude was loose."
Luna's eyes shifted down, looking at the ground as she considered his words. Sonic went on, "I know it's not easy, and I probably sound like a self-help book, but doesn't it make it seem easier if you have something to believe in? And Luna, you're not alone; you've got your sister, Twilight, her friends, and me and Tails to help you." Luna continued looking at the ground, her eyes beginning to water again. "Come on, Luna! You said you want to help your sister rule, make the night beautiful, and be accepted by the ponies of Equestria! Do you really want to just give up on all of that and retreat into a shell, hiding away from the world?"
Luna's eyes clenched shut as she shuddered, Sonic's words resonating strongly within her. A moment later, she threw herself at the blue hedgehog, exclaiming, "No!" She surprised the blue hedgehog by wrapping her forelegs around him in an embrace, tears once again falling from her eyes but for a different reason. Sonic remained silent as Luna let out how she felt, placing a hand on the back of her neck and running it back and forth. The Lunar Princess sniffled, "I don't want to give up. Not so easily. I will
try to be strong. Like Celestia, like Twilight, and
Sonic let her cling to him for a minute before gently pushing her back onto her haunches, a hand still on her side. "Dry those tears, Luna. They're not for you, so save them for someone who needs them," he said.
Luna raised a hoof to her face and wiped the tears away. She then gave Sonic a small smile, "Okay." Sonic smiled back at her.
A second later, they heard Celestia say, "Sonic? Luna?" They both looked to see the Sun Princess and Rainbow Dash at the top of the ramp.
Sonic waved, "Yeah, we're here." Celestia and Rainbow walked down the ramp at that, coming over to the square-shaped platform the two were standing on.
Rainbow asked, "Are you two okay?"
Luna nodded, "Yes, Rainbow Dash. We have talked and come to a consensus, so to speak." She then looked up at her sister and asked, "And you?"
Celestia nodded, "Rainbow and I have talked as well. And we think we have an idea on how to make sure her Sonic Rainboom works next time."
Sonic grinned, "Cool! Then let's see if we can come up with a plan to deal with that prototype!"
Soon, outside the ARK
The Biolizard roared to itself in confusion as it looked around. Where were the ones that had attacked it earlier? Why did it feel the urge to destroy them when it saw them? Why did it feel like something was off about this situation, like there was something it was supposed to be doing? What was going on for that matter? All these questions swirled in the creature's head, but they didn't stay for long, its animal-like mind unable to focus on them.
Suddenly, there was a bright flash at the edge of its vision. As it turned to look, two beams, one yellow and the other cobalt blue, stuck it in the eyes, irritating them. The creature shook its head and roared, unleashing three lasers from its mouth at the source of the beams. Luna and Celestia flew to the side, dodging the lasers as they flew full speed at the Biolizard. Luna flew up along its right side and fired a bolt of electricity at its head, catching the creature's attention even though it absorbed the electricity. As she flew away from a volley of pink spheres, she screamed, "Come on, you moronic beast! What art thou the end result of?! Some twisted fusion of a lizard, a laser, and a vegetable?!"
The Biolizard flinched as it felt something strike near one of its life support cables and turned to its left to see Celestia flapping her wings to remain stationary, her horn still surrounded by her magic aura. It roared angrily at her; Celestia yelled, "Is that all you've got to say, you
lizard thing?!" It responded by firing a laser from its mouth at her. Celestia used her magic to teleport out of the way, reappearing above the Biolizard's neck.
As she got her bearings, Luna flew up to her and asked, "'Stupid lizard thing', sister?"
Celestia sheepishly replied, "Hey, I'm new to this!" Both their heads turned at another roar, the Biolizard twisting its neck around trying to get a good look at them. The two sisters separated, flying around it and doing what they could to keep its attention on them.
While the two princesses distracted the Biolizard, Sonic and Rainbow Dash were moving along below the creature, Sonic leading Rainbow down the old path to the Eclipse Cannon that she had skipped over last time. Sonic ran in front of Rainbow Dash, the rainbow-maned pegasus flying behind him and staying in his tailwind to build up speed. She was picking up speed pretty quickly by staying behind Sonic, but she would occasionally get out from behind him, especially when they had to alter the gravity so Sonic could continue. She didn't want to perform her Sonic Rainboom too early, after all.
As they adjusted the gravity once more, they looked up. It looked like there was enough distance for Dash to build up the remaining speed herself and strike the Biolizard while performing the Sonic Rainboom. Sonic called back, "All right, Rainbow! It's go time!" Rainbow nodded and, after a second, broke off while Sonic continued along the path, once again heading for the Eclipse Cannon.
As she flew, Rainbow Dash checked herself. Letting Sonic take the lead had given her greater speed, greater than she had had before. She flew up along the Biolizard's right side, the blur catching the creature's attention briefly before a beam from Celestia distracted it. Once she was at the appropriate height, she pulled a fast 180 degree turn and flew for the life support system. As she started, she could feel the artificial air rushing past her, a nearly invisible aura already forming around her front hooves. And just as the gap was beginning to close, it happened. The pegasus shot forward like a rocket, a rainbow ring spreading out from that point and a rainbow trail following her! She flew straight towards the Biolizard, slamming into its life support system and causing the creature to roar in pain as she pressed her hooves down against it before ricocheting off. While it was distracted, Celestia flew up and unleashed a yellow beam at the life support system, damaging it more.
As it thrashed around in pain and anger, the Biolizard saw Sonic running towards it. Reacting swiftly, it opened its mouth and fired a laser at the walkway he was running on, destroying the path in front of the hedgehog. Sonic managed to slide to a stop, but the rest of the path soon fell apart, the remaining pieces on both sides breaking off and falling and, unfortunately, taking Sonic with them.
While he was falling, Sonic looked around, trying to find something to land on or jump off of. Suddenly, he felt something come up from right under him, catching him. Facing forward, he realized it was Princess Luna! She looked back at him and asked, "Art thou okay, Sonic?"
The blue hedgehog held his right thumb up, saying, "I'm fine, Luna. I'm just not fond of surprises like that."
Luna nodded. She then faced forward and said, "Hold on tight. I will get you back up there!"
Sonic placed his hands on her neck and said, "I'm ready when you are, Luna!" Nodding, the Lunar Princess adjusted herself, holding her forelegs out in front of her, pointing her back legs out, and tucking her head slightly down before flying away.
Rather than take the direct approach, Luna decided to try to keep the Biolizard guessing and circle around to attack. This path, still a part of the path Sonic had taken before, consisted of zero gravity debris from the ARK's plummet to Earth and floating barriers. This didn't concern Sonic or Luna very much, though; if Luna couldn't fly around it, she could move the debris or temporarily short-circuit the barriers with her magic. They didn't have to worry about the ARK's automated defenses because they were all shut down.
After a few minutes of flying, they were right under the Biolizard. Luna flew towards its left side and then up, getting above its life support system. As they hovered there, the Biolizard unaware, Sonic said, "You may do the honors, princess." At that, Luna reared her head back and then brought it forward, unleashing a cobalt blue beam from her horn at the machine. The creature roared as the beam struck, sparks flying off of the machine.
Once she was done, Luna bucked forward, sending Sonic flying towards the creature, yelling, "Send this beast from here, Sonic!" Sonic grinned as he flew towards the life support machine, curling up in a ball as he got close. He struck true, pushing against the machine for several seconds before an explosion erupted from it.
Sonic was pushed up by the explosion, but managed to grab onto one of the life support cables when he came back down. Looking back, he saw that the life support was in critical condition; one more good attack would take it out for good. Before he could communicate this to the others, however, the Biolizard suddenly let out a loud roar and all of a sudden, it felt like the pull of gravity had increased dramatically. Sonic suddenly lost his grip and began to fall, many of the platforms surrounding the ARK beginning to fall as well.
As he fell, Sonic noticed the Rainbow Dash and the princesses were being dragged down as well, though it also seemed as though gravity was starting to return to normal. This was proven true as Rainbow, Celestia, and Luna were soon able to use their wings to stop their descent. Sonic, meanwhile, was able to land on one of the falling platforms, which was now being pulled down normally.
Rainbow flew down to Sonic, followed by the princesses, and asked, "Sonic, what's going on?!"
The hedgehog replied, "That thing's gotta be messing with the gravity around it! I think it did the same thing to Shadow when he was fighting it!"
Luna said, "Then we must stop it before there's nothing left for you to stand on!"
Rainbow asked, "But how, princess? If it's still doing that gravity thing, we can't even get close to it!"
Celestia said, "My magic and Luna's should be unaffected by the gravity field. If you and Sonic can get close, Rainbow Dash, we should be able to distract it and get it to stop."
Sonic nodded, "Sounds like a plan, princess. Let's do it!"
Rainbow said, "Yeah!" She then turned to Sonic and asked, "Do you want me to carry you up there?"
Sonic grinned, "No need." He looked up and pointed, prompting Rainbow and the two princesses to look up. Above them, more platforms and pieces of the ARK were falling. Sonic said, "You go on ahead, Dash. I'll use the stuff that's falling to keep up."
Rainbow grinned, "All right, let's go!" She then shot straight up towards the Biolizard. Sonic nodded at the princesses, both of them nodding back, and then dashed to the edge of the platform, leaping to another platform and then another to follow Rainbow Dash. Celestia and Luna nodded at each other and then Celestia used her magic to teleport, both of them reappearing up near the Biolizard.
Looking down, they saw that Sonic and Rainbow Dash were quickly making progress, Sonic surprisingly (to them, at least) easily keeping up with Rainbow, even when he wasn't running straight up a platform. The blue hedgehog came to a stop on the last platform, looking up as Rainbow was unable to fly up any further. The Biolizard was looking down at them, keeping them in its sights.
It was time. Together, Celestia and Luna channeled their magic into their horns, each giving off a brief flash before releasing their magic beams. The yellow and cobalt blue beams twisted around each other as they flew, both striking the Biolizard's life support machine at the same time. The creature roared in pain, the gravity around it returning to normal as it looked around.
Sonic and Rainbow Dash nodded to each other, Sonic leaping up towards the cyan pegasus. She held out her left forehoof and he grabbed it with his right hand. Rainbow then immediately flew up towards the Biolizard, carrying Sonic along. Once they were just about above it, Rainbow stopped flapping her wings and Sonic started them spinning. After a second, they both curled up into balls, one blue and the other cyan and rainbow colored. While spinning, they whipped around the Biolizard, going behind it and then back towards its front. Instead of aiming for its front, however, they aimed for the life support system, both striking it at the same time. Their attack completely destroyed the life support machine, the Biolizard letting out one final roar as it was engulfed by the resulting explosion.
Both Sonic and Rainbow managed to bounce away from the life support system after hitting it, resulting in the explosion sending them both flying. Celestia and Luna saw them and flew to help them, Celestia catching Sonic on her back while Luna grabbed Rainbow Dash with her forelegs. Shaking his head after landing on the Sun Princess' back, he looked at her and said, "Whoa! Thanks for the save, Celestia."
Celestia smiled at him, "It was no trouble at all, Sonic."
Behind them, Rainbow looked up at the Princess of the Night and chuckled, "Heh heh, uh, thanks Princess Luna."
Luna nodded down at her, but as she looked up, she noticed some kind of green light shining down from part of the ARK. Celestia noticed her expression and asked, "Luna, what's wrong?"
Her sister replied, "Look over there. What is that light?" She nodded her head in its direction, Rainbow, Celestia, and Sonic looking.
"Yeah and where's it coming from?" Rainbow asked.
"Let's take a closer look," Celestia said, starting to fly towards it. Rainbow would've flown herself, but decided that shaking free of a princess' hold probably wasn't a smart idea, so she remained quiet while Luna followed her sister. When the two sisters reached the light, everybody looked up at it. It looked like it was leading somewhere. The princesses flew up; after about a minute, they found themselves in a large green room with many flickering lights. "Where is this?" Celestia wondered as she and Luna landed on one of the platforms in the room, Luna setting Rainbow Dash down beforehand.
Sonic slid off of Celestia's back and looked around. "I think we've found the ARK's computer room," he said after a moment.
Rainbow soon pointed at the lone computer terminal on the platform, saying, "Princesses, Sonic, look!" They all looked where she was pointing. There, sitting on the panel of the computer, underneath the screen, was the blue Chaos Emerald and Pinkie Pie's Element of Laughter necklace.
Sonic grinned, "Sweet!"
He was about to run over to the computer, but Celestia stopped him with her left wing and said, "Allow us." Both her and Luna's horns lit up, a yellow aura surrounding the Element of Laughter and a cobalt blue aura surrounding the blue Chaos Emerald. Both of them levitated off of the computer a moment later, floating over to Sonic, who grabbed the necklace with his left hand and the emerald with his right.
Rainbow smiled, "This is great! We found another one of our Elements of Harmony and one of your Chaos Emeralds, Sonic! We'd better tell the others right away!"
Sonic nodded, "Yep. I don't think we need to hang around here any longer." He placed the emerald on top of the necklace, saying "Let me just get the Warp Ring so we can leave."
Rainbow walked over to him and said, "Here, I'll get it for you." She started running her forehooves through his quills before he could protest. A second later, she brought the ring out, holding it in her right hoof. "All right, now all I have to do is toss it, right?" she asked.
Sonic shifted the Chaos Emerald back to his right hand, saying, "Just a second." He touched the ring with the emerald, the ring emitting a bright white light for a few seconds. After it faded, Sonic said, "That should keep it going. Okay, go ahead." Rainbow nodded and threw the ring, causing it to expand a second later.
Sonic and Rainbow Dash walked over to it, standing along the sides of it. "After you, your highnesses," Rainbow said.
"Next stop, Sweet Apple Acres!" Sonic added. Celestia and Luna nodded and walked forward, stepping through the ring. Rainbow followed them and Sonic went in after her.
"Thanks again for that lecture on magic, Twilight. I liked it, and I really learned a lot too," Tails said. He, Twilight, and Spike were walking down the path leading to Sweet Apple Acres, having passed through Ponyville to check on how the repairs were going along the way.
"Yeah, I thought it was pretty enjoyable too," Spike commented.
Twilight glanced back at him with a raised eyebrow, "Spike, you weren't even there for it. You spent almost the whole time downstairs in the library."
Spike nodded smugly, "Exactly."
Twilight shook her head and rolled her eyes before turning to Tails and saying, "Anyway, Tails, I thought your lecture on the Chaos Emeralds was really good too. Do they really get bigger when they end up in this 'Special Zone'?"
The fox replied, "Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes they even look different. The zone can really mess with your head sometimes. But they always go back to normal when they're brought out of the Special Zone."
Spike scratched his head, "So how do you get to this so-called zone again?"
Tails glanced back and said, "Usually through the Warp Rings. Even though it's separate from our world, there's a barrier between our world and the Special Zone that the Warp Rings can get past. That's also why we've been able to use the Warp Ring that Sonic found; time and space are so messed up right now that it's easy to warp from the points in the past back to Ponyville and vice versa. If it's not possible to overcome the barrier or you can't think of the area you want to warp to, the rings usually don't work."
Twilight exclaimed, "Fascinating! So
Before she could continue, Spike pointed out, "Hey, we're just about there."
Tails and Twilight looked forward to see that Sweet Apple Acres wasn't too far away. "Oh. That didn't take long," Tails noted. Twilight nodded in agreement while Spike just rolled his eyes.
The three of them soon passed under the arch at the entrance and saw Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack all standing around the barn, Pinkie having a baby alligator hanging onto her cotton candy mane and a brown dog sitting next to Applejack. Applejack noticed them and hollered, "Hey, over here, y'all!"
As they started over, Winona suddenly bounded over to the three of them, causing them to stop. She reared up on her hind legs and started licking Tails' face. "Whoa, who's this?" Tails asked while trying to keep from laughing.
Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie came over, Applejack saying, "That's Winona, our work dog." She looked at Winona and said, "Come on, Winona, back off. No need ta scare this fella away." Winona backed off at her words and walked over next to Applejack, taking a seat next to her.
"Ah, it's so good to see you all again! We were hoping that nothing had happened to you," Rarity said a moment later.
Twilight replied, "We're fine, Rarity." She then turned to Applejack and asked, "So did you and Apple Bloom happen to find Granny Smith, Applejack?"
The orange earth pony nodded, "Yup! She got worn out from all the excitement that seein' Amy, Cream, and Cheese caused, so she's takin' a nap in her rockin' chair. Amy took Cream and Cheese back to Ponyville a little while ago and they took the Cutie Mark Crusaders with them." She then asked, "So how'd y'all do? Did ya manage to fix whatever needed ta be fixed?"
Tails nodded, "Yep! The radar's at 100%, Applejack." He pulled the radar out from his left tail, holding it up as he said, "As soon as Sonic, Rainbow Dash, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna get back, we can get back to restoring Ponyville."
Pinkie Pie piped up, "So much of Ponyville has already been brought back! I can't wait until it's all been brought back!" She then pointed, "Ooh, look! More of it is being brought back!" They all turned to look to faintly see, in the distance, sparkles rising up from the hill that Tails had said was where the next portal was.
A few seconds later, they all heard a *PHVWOW* and turned to see the Warp Ring suddenly appear nearby. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna stepped out of it afterwards, startling the ponies. They were all about to drop into a bow until Celestia held up a hoof and said, "There is no need for that right now, my little ponies. You've already bowed to us once." Luna nodded; the two sisters then stepped to the side, Rainbow Dash and Sonic stepping out of the ring afterwards, the ring shrinking down and landing in Rainbow's hoof when she held it up.
Pinkie cheered, "Yay! Everypony's back!"
Rainbow said, "Hey guys! Hope we didn't keep you waiting too long!" She trotted over and gave Tails the Warp Ring, the fox taking it with his free hand.
He then replied, "No, Twilight, Spike, and I just got here too. I don't know about Rarity, Pinkie, Applejack, and Fluttershy, but
Rarity spoke up, "Not to worry, darlings. We haven't been waiting too long."
Winona ran over to Sonic and started licking his face as well, the hedgehog grinning at the dog's affections. Tails giggled, "Looks like Winona likes you too, Sonic."
After Winona had backed off, Rainbow looked at Tails and asked, "So did you get your radar thingy working again?"
Tails nodded, "Uh-huh. We're all set." He powered it up, showing that it was now working properly. He then reached into his right tail and pulled out two small yellow and white devices, saying, "Thanks to Twilight, I was also able to make us a pair of radios with those Power Cores I picked up, just in case we get separated." Twilight chuckled nervously at that. Tails then put the radios away and asked, "So how did you guys and the princesses do?"
Rainbow moved to the side, Sonic grinning as he held up what he had in his hands, "Check it out!"
Pinkie gasped (a regular gasp), "That's my necklace! You found it! Where did you find it?!"
Sonic slid the Chaos Emerald into his quills as he replied, "Oh, we just happened to find it
after we beat a huge experimental lizard that tried to crash a space colony into Earth the last time we saw it."
Spike and the ponies (aside from Rainbow Dash and the princesses) all looked surprised at that, but Tails just smiled, "Oh, really? I never would've guessed that that prototype was going to be brought back."
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, I was surprised too." He then held out his left hand, allowing Twilight to take the Element of Laughter with her magic.
After slipping it into her saddlebag with the rest of the necklaces, the lavender unicorn said, "Well, we're glad that you're all okay, right everypony?" Spike, Tails, and the other ponies all voiced their agreement. Before anyone else could say anything, the ground suddenly started to shake. Everybody looked up a second later to see the mysterious creature appear in the sky above, flying out of a vortex! "Ah, it's back!" Twilight exclaimed.
Taking up an offensive position along with Rainbow Dash and Applejack, Sonic said, "Watch out!" Everybody else took on a defensive position, especially Fluttershy, in case the creature came any closer. While watching the creature, Tails realized his radar was pointing at it and noticed the unusual readings it was recording.
The creature didn't seem to be after them, however, as it simply flew over Sweet Apple Acres before flying in the direction of Ponyville. It soon reached the town, scaring all the ponies below, but it didn't seem interested in them either. Before long, it crashed into something, shaking its head as a red wave and a pink wave spread out from whatever it hit. It looked up a moment later and opened a new vortex, flying through it and disappearing.
After a moment, Applejack commented, "Ah hate when that thing does that."
Celestia asked, "So that's the creature that's responsible for all this?"
Rainbow nodded, "Yeah, that's the thing all right, Princess Celestia!" She then asked, "But what just happened? What stopped it?"
Tails slid his radar back into his left tail as he said, "I could take a look from here if I had a pair of binoculars or a telescope."
Pinkie Pie zoomed over to a nearby coop, Gummy still hanging from her mane, and thrust a hoof inside the opening. As she seemingly rustled through it, she called, "Not a problem, Tails! I have binoculars stashed all over Ponyville in case of binoculars emergencies!" She soon pulled out a pair of black binoculars, holding them in her left hoof. She zoomed back over to Tails and said, "Here you go!"
Although surprised, Tails took them, saying, "Thank you, Pinkie Pie!" She grinned happily at that. Tails then held them up to his eyes, adjusting them until he could see through them properly. He then looked where the red and pink waves had originated from, zooming in to get a better look. He soon gasped, "There's a Chaos Emerald up there!"
Fluttershy asked, "Is that what drove that monster off?"
Tails replied, "Well, that accounts for the red wave of energy. I think the pink wave came from that crown that's floating next to it."
Twilight asked, "There's a crown up there?"
Tails looked at her and nodded, "Yeah." He held out the binocular, saying, "Here, take a look."
Twilight took the binoculars and looked herself. She soon said, "That's my Element of Magic crown! But
why are it and the Chaos Emerald completely white?"
Luna asked, "What do you mean they are completely white?"
Tails answered, "They look just like Whitetail Wood did before that blast from the Chaos Emeralds brought the colors back. That Chaos Emerald and the Element of Magic must've been affected by that creature somehow."
Spike suggested, "Maybe there's a way to get them back to normal? You know, like we've been doing for Ponyville and everyone we know?"
Tails looked at him and nodded, "Sounds like a good theory to me. If we can get all the Elements of Harmony and all the Chaos Emeralds, we should be able to defeat that creature and undo all the damage it's done."
Applejack spoke up, "Well, you know what ta do then, Tails! Fire up that radar and let's get ta work!" Tails nodded and, after pulling the radar back out and storing the data it had gathered from the creature, started searching for new frequencies.
While he was searching, Spike looked over at Sonic, Rainbow Dash, and Princess Luna, the three of them standing near each other, and said, "Boy, this adventuring thing is pretty tough, huh? And it sounds like we've still got a ways to go."
Sonic replied, "Well, it's not much of an adventure if it's short and easy." He glanced over at Rainbow Dash, who gave him a nod. The two of them looked back at Princess Luna as she hesitantly raised a hoof. Sonic and Rainbow nodded, Sonic raising his left fist and Rainbow raising her right hoof. The two of them then bumped with Luna's hoof.