Chapter Fifty-Two "Darkest Before the Dawn, Part I"
Twenty-Three Days Remain until the portal closes…
Seventy-Two Hours Remain…
The morning rays of the sun pierced through the small openings of the window drapes, slowly yet surely filling the bedroom with light. Twilight awoke, her eyes fluttering open as she stretched her limbs. A sleepy smile formed on the girl's face once her vision cleared. Her naked frame was in the arms of her lover, who never relinquished his hold despite falling into a deep slumber. In spite of her vulnerable and compromising position, Twilight couldn't feel any safer, her senses blurred and lost in the blissful aftermath of last night's session.
Peter began to awaken, evident by his grumbling and shuffling. Twilight inhaled sharply as Peter's arms tightened around her waist, and a bright pink flush filled her cheeks once his hazel gaze met her violet eyes. The young man's lips curled, forming that wonderful smile the princess had grown to adore. Twilight buried her face into Peter's solid chest, stifling a giggle. She felt happy, as giddy as a unicorn who had learned how to use magic for the first time. Yet, there was a sense of nervousness, her heart fleeting. Shifting his position, Peter rolled over until Twilight was on her back and his body was poised over hers.
Eventually, the knight lowered his head, pausing before kissing the princess. His princess. Twilight moaned into his mouth, shivering involuntarily as Peter's warm hands brushed over her soft skin. Even now, the princess didn't fully understand exactly how the young man made her feel this, so strongly with nothing held back, but she was content as long as the wondrous sensations lasted. The surrounding temperature steadily rose, beginning to match the heat wave from a few hours ago. Hesitantly, Twilight pulled away, her mouth missing her lover's enticing taste, but she smiled, wrapping her arms around Peter's neck.
They eventually parted, retrieving their clothing before joining back together. Twilight's smile grew wider, matching the brightness of Earth's sun. She and Peter sat in a comfortable silence for several minutes, both exchanging smiles as they put on a fresh set of clothing. It felt strange how comfortable she was, especially after such a display of emotion, but as Cadance mentioned, with love comes trust. Twilight's relationship with Peter had truly blossomed into something beautiful, and the princess begged- no, pleaded to the stars for it to never end.
Twilight giggled, winking at her boyfriend. "Hungry?"
"Starving, but that's not anything new," Peter chuckled, lowering his body until he kissed the center of Twilight's forehead. Her face glowed. Peter's brow furrowed at a thought. "Wait. What about the Bugle? Don't you have to go to work?"
Twilight shook her head before extending her hand, causing violet energy to envelope the bandages on Peter's head and arms. "Not necessarily. I have JARVIS handling my appointments. If there are any problems, I informed Robbie to call me immediately if I am needed." Each bandage freed itself from the young man's body. Most of his wounds had healed overnight, but Twilight frowned, directing her gaze to Peter's midsection. She ran her hands gently over the area, her fingers massaging the muscles underneath the shirt. "I'm taking a leave of absence to make sure you stay out of trouble."
Peter mock frowned. "I have a feeling there's some trust issues here…"
Twilight's cheeks flushed to match the same shade of pink as the special strand in her hair. "It's not just that. I just want to be with you right now, as silly as it sounds."
Peter smirked, tapping his fist against the girl's forehead. "Hey, I like silly." Twilight smiled, pausing to rub the wrinkles out of her green shirt. Her diminutive figure could barely fit into the wardrobe, evident by her exposed shoulder and the sleeves covering her hands. Peter couldn't suppress his smile. The large, green ribbon placed perfectly in Twilight's violet locks matched her shirt and snow-white skirt. He placed a soft kiss on the cheek of his princess. "You look beautiful."
Her smile widened. "Thank you."
Peter tightened the belt around his waist. "We should do nothing today. Wasting time is so satisfying when you're doing it with someone. Especially when that someone is as special as you, Twi."
Twilight smiled contently, standing on the tip of her toes to press her lips against Peter's. "You're very sweet, I'll have to indulge you." Reaching out, the girl took the young man's hand and led him out of the room. "Now, come on!"
"You should consider yourself fortunate that you're not imprisoned or exiled," Octavia moaned, shaking her head. "You promised me you would act rationally, Lyra. Foolish of me to believe you."
Lyra waved her hoof dismissively. "Well, it might have been too late to warn anypony if I waited! Besides, it turns out this whole trip was worth it. Princess Celestia knew where the book came from."
Applejack intervened, stepping between the two ponies with a furrowed brow. "Twilight was really torn up when she lost that book. How in tarnation did you get it, Lyra? It disappeared when Twilight had it last."
Lyra shrugged. "I was on my way home, and it sort of fell on my head." An uncertain look formed in the unicorn's large yellow eyes. "You'll think I'm crazy when I say this, but-"
Octavia rolled her eyes. "Too late, I'm afraid."
Lyra blankly glanced off to the side. "-but somepony's voice called out to me when it happened. She said her name was Madame Web. She begged me to hold on to the book and keep his secret."
Spitfire huffed, whipping her tail. "Considering we're all experiencing soul pains for the same stallion, I don't think anything's too crazy to believe right now."
Octavia arched a brow toward the unicorn. "Why were you constantly trying to confront Peter then?"
"Because I wanted to hear it from him. I had access to his life. It just didn't feel right holding something like that over somepony," Lyra muttered, brushing her hoof through her mane.
"So, it never bothered you that he was an alien?" Rarity questioned, causing Lyra to shake her head. "You have my thanks. That type of sensitive information could prove disastrous for a pony's reputation. I am not certain Equestria would have accepted Peter as a prince if they knew he was not from our world."
Rainbow Dash trotted over to Lyra, an apologetic smile on her face. "Sorry, I always thought you were a crackpot, but it turns out you're pretty cool. There's a bunch of things you could have done with that book, but you kept it a secret."
"It might be why you've been feeling the same pain as us," Applebloom giggled, nuzzling her head against Lyra's side. "You've been my big bro's friend all along, even if you two never met personally. You're really cool, Miss Lyra."
Lyra stammered, blushing. "Eh, it's nothing. A-Anypony would have done the same thing."
Rarity's brow lowered. "Octavia. Forgive me for prying, but why are you connected to Peter? If I recollect correctly, you two barely talked to each other in Manehattan."
Octavia blinked before holding her head high. "I think he's cute." Everypony paused, surprised with the mare's bluntness. She waved her hoof, frowning as the temperature in her cheeks rose. "Modest ponies have an unusual charm to them." Her face was pink by this point. "Besides, he's a true gentlecolt. Peter gave me his blanket when I was cold during the trip to the city."
Clearing her throat, Lyra stepped away from the others before pointing her hoof at the closed door on the other side of the room. "Anyway, what's with Madame Web? She's friends with Princess Celestia, and she waits until the last minute to tell her anything? That's weird."
"I concur," Trixie said, a hint of irritation in her voice. The mare paced in a circle, paying no mind to Pinkie Pie, who was following her diligently. "Has Princess Celestia known this Madame Web the entire time, or is one keeping secrets from the other? We're all being led astray, and our friends are possibly paying the price with their lives. Why can't Madame Web be direct? Does she not care if Peter dies?"
Zecora held out her hoof, prompting Trixie and Pinkie to stop in their tracks. "Perhaps she has foreseen something or is trying to gauge when to act? To make a mistake would likely spell doom for all, that much is a fact. I value Peter's life as much as you do, Trixie, but this situation is growing more dreary. At this rate, two worlds are at stake, but…" she paused, holding her hoof over her chest, "I still cannot deny my heart's ache."
Trixie let out a defeated sigh before placing her flank against the ground. "That doesn't make it any less irritating. My best friend is probably about to die, and I'm being told Princess Luna may be the one to kill him. I can't stand being kept in the dark like this."
Pinkie Pie smiled, wrapping a hoof around Trixie's shoulder. "Don't worry. Twilight won't let anything bad happen to Peter. Spike, too."
Derpy's ears lowered, until they were looking at the ground. "I hope this is a misunderstanding. What do you think Princess Celestia will do?"
Rarity blinked, turning her royal blue gaze towards the sealed throne room door. "I'm not sure. Um… I think Princess Celestia is still talking to that pony who stole Twilight's crown. There's probably so much on her mind. I feel sorry for her. Her old student returns and now this news about her sister? My stars."
Before anypony could respond, Princess Celestia appeared in a flash of light in the middle of the room. "I have sent Sunset Shimmer back to Earth," she stated calmly, earning collective glares from those around her.
"What?!" Trixie spat, throwing her hoof over her head instinctively. The unicorn slammed her eyes shut before shaking her head, as if collecting her nerve. "A thousand pardons, Your Highness. I didn't mean to-"
Princess Celestia sighed, managing to give Trixie a smile. "It is quite fine, Trixie. I understand why you're worried. Shimmer will answer for her crimes later. Right now, I believe it would be best if she assisted Twilight and the others. Her experiences with Osborn could prove useful, especially against my sister. With so much at stake, I have to take a risk and trust that Sunset Shimmer is willing to redeem herself."
Applejack frowned. "Do you think Luna will really…?"
Celestia's ears drooped. "I hope not, Applejack. I am trying to contemplate what could possibly prompt my sister to do such a thing. Luna loves Peter. She would never admit to it, but I know my little sister better than she knows herself. This is really the first time she has found common ground with somepony. It's heartbreaking. After all of these eons, I was so happy to see my sister smile and talk about a stallion." Despite lowering her head, the sad smile she bore could still be seen by all. "Fate is cruel. I honestly didn't expect Twilight to act on her feelings. Nor my sister. I can tell Luna holds a grudge against herself and Twilight now, but..."
Celestia shook her head before her horn glowed, allowing an image of the Web of Life to appear at the center of the room. Only one strand remained linked to the center, continuously alternating between shades of blue and black. Luna's image appeared within the strand before it disappeared in a black wave. "I am proud of you all for accepting your feelings for Peter, and… I am sorry that I forced you to let him go. I only wish I could have talked with my sister before she left. Her strand is the only one that remains linked to the center. Now, all we can do is wait and-what?"
The alicorn's eyes widened at an unusual sight. A small flash of crimson materialized, flickering to life at the center of the Web. Twilight's image took form before a tiny strand hovered over her thread, maintaining its place close by without connecting. Suddenly, the strand morphed, sharing a color of crimson and violet. It eventually fused with the center of the Web, never losing its unique glow. Celestia stared at the strand for what seemed like minutes, and everypony in the room maintained their silence, their ruler's gaze too stern to penetrate.
"That's odd. I wonder what this means," Celestia murmured before her mouth fell agape. "By the stars! Twilight is…!" She heard the alarm sound in her voice before lowering her brow. "The image is unclear, meaning she has just conceived. This combination of magic can only mean one thing."
Rarity bit her lip, edging closer to the princess. "What? What is wrong with Twilight?"
Celestia was silent, adding to the unicorn's worry. "Nothing's wrong. I'm just… surprised."
Zecora stepped forward, her gaze locked on the Web of Life. "Created out of love, one life is now held within another. Twilight Sparkle… will soon be a mother."
Trixie's eyes widened. "Wait, Twilight's pregnant?!"
"It seems so, but it looks like Twilight has just now conceived. Considering this just happened, I doubt Twilight is even aware of it," Celestia calmly retorted, glancing off to the side. "It will probably take her a few weeks to notice. It depends on how different her biology is right now."
Rainbow Dash arched a brow. "Conceive? What does that mean?"
Trixie brushed a hoof over her cheek, feeling the temperature in her face rise. "I'll put it crudely. The seed has been planted, and the egg has just now begun to fertilize. Now it needs to properly plant itself before it can grow." Rainbow grimaced, her face as red as a tomato. Trixie sighed. "Yes. Exactly."
Rarity frowned. "How could they do this?! Did Twilight deliberately have intercourse during her cycle? That's careless!"
Sweetie Belle tilted her head to the side before poking Trixie in the side. "Trixie, what's intercourse?"
Trixie stiffened, her face scrunching. "I don't think I am the best pony to relay that sort of sensitive information to an innocent mind." The filly turned to Rainbow Dash, causing Trixie to wave her hooves defensively. "No! No! No! Don't ask her either."
Applejack shook her head. "This is Twilight we're talking about, Rares. She's not the pony to take unnecessary risks. Princess Celestia told us that they're… er… humans right now. That is what Pete used to be, right?"
Celestia nodded. "Yes, that is correct. It stands to reason that human biology is different from that of equines. Perhaps Twilight failed to take that into consideration, and Peter may have simply forgotten."
Derpy's ears perked. "Do you think we should write a letter to Twilight? Maybe, let her know what's happening?"
Without a hint of hesitation, Celestia shook her head. "That would not be wise. Twilight has enough on her mind as is. If she found out she was going to be a mother soon, I fear for those around her. She must find out on her own like every mother does for the first time: naturally. Fortunately, Twilight and everypony will have returned to Equestria by the time she starts experiencing the signs." The alicorn exhaled, whimpering under her breath. "Let us pray to the stars for their safe return."
Twilight quietly sat in her chair, chewing as Peter and Logan chomped away viciously at their individual stacks of pancakes. Both men acted like savages, snarling at the other whenever one stole a treat from the other's plate. Twilight glanced off to the side, exhaling once she found Spike acting no differently with his own freshly baked collection of pancakes. May finally took a seat at the table next to Twilight, small beads of sweat having formed over her forehead. Despite her intense labor in the kitchen, the older woman could not contain her smile. Peter stopped to playfully poke Twilight's stuffed cheek, earning a blank glare from the girl and a giggle from his mother figure.
The young man gave the older woman a feverish nod of approval. "It still stands! Your cooking's the best, Aunt May!"
Twilight shook her head, waiting to calmly chew her food before responding. "I forgot you can be a total slob sometimes." The savory, rich taste filled her senses, causing the girl to sigh contently. While she had eaten pancakes before, these were of a higher quality; thick and fluffy, yet light and wholesome. It was almost as wonderful as cheesecake. Twilight grinned, instinctively slapping Peter's hand once it hovered too close to her plate. "Miss May, these are absolutely incredible."
May smiled, lifting a cup of coffee and holding it near her mouth. "Thank you, dear. Compliments like that make cooking worthwhile. This was fun, really. It reminds me of the days when I cooked for Ben and Peter."
Spike chuckled in between his chewing sessions. "Miss May! You should come back to Equestria with us! You can teach me and Twilight how to cook!"
Peter recoiled at the request, slamming his eyes shut. "I'd love for Aunt May to come back with us, Spike, but…" His eyes fell to the ground. "I mean, she has all that money to live happily now, and…"
"Shush, boy," May murmured, standing promptly from her chair. "I don't care about the money. This is the happiest I've been in four years." She made her way to Peter's seat, leaning down to wrap her arms around his head. Tears filled her eyes, yet May maintained a smile. She ran her fingers through his messy hair. "I guess… I'd rather be with you than have you disappear again. It'd do my heart good to see my nephew as a prince and knight." The older woman pulled away, keeping her hands on her nephew's shoulders. Her smile was beautiful, as earnest as ever. "Unless you don't want me to come back with you?"
Peter practically hopped from his seat, throwing his arms around May's waist. "Of course I want you to come back with us. I'm just worried. You'll have to adjust. I mean, I changed when I made it to Equestria. You will, too... a lot. I just don't want to put you through any stress, Aunt May." He turned to share a glance with Twilight. "Plus, I'm not sure if you'll like what we turn into."
May frowned for a second, but she soon smirked. "I already know the truth, Peter. I had your friend, Princess Luna, show me what Equestrians really looked like. I know Twilight's really a pony." She poked Peter's nose. "I know you are, too. I just wished you told me from the get-go."
Peter scoffed. "Oh, sure. Hey, Aunt May. I'm in love with a unicorn! That sounds rational, right?"
Her finger flew, swatting the tip of his nose. Peter grumbled as he held a hand over the lower half of his face, and May shook her head, bemused. "Don't sass-talk me."
Spike cleared his throat. "Technically, Twilight's an alicorn now, so…"
Peter blankly stared at the dragon. "Shut up, Spike."
Twilight tilted her head to the side. "So, you're okay with… us?"
May's eyes widened before her smile widened. "Of course, I am. You're probably the sweetest girl I've ever met. You're so intelligent, too." The older woman grinned. "And my Peter loves you. If he is this happy, I'm not going to complain once."
Twilight stood, squeaking once May embraced her. Peter's aunt was very affectionate, but the princess didn't mind, smiling widely. "Thank you. You can stay with us in the castle. That'll give you time to adjust to your new body as well as privacy. We can talk with Princess Celestia about making you a citizen over time."
"You two are amazing. Thank you for giving this old woman a wish," May sweetly replied, patting Twilight and Peter over the shoulder. "Is there anything I should pack?"
Peter shook his head. "Not really. You'll be starting over, but if there's anything you do want to take back, talk to Princess Luna. She'll make the arrangements for you."
May nodded. "Okay." As if a realization had occurred, the woman walked over to the kitchen counter where her purse rested and retrieved a small box from within before handing it to her nephew. "I managed to take care of that certain thing for you. I can honestly say it looks perfect."
Twilight arched a brow, but before she could respond, Peter planted a kiss on the older woman's cheek and walked out of the room. "Thanks, Aunt May. I'll go put the finishing touches on it right now."
Twilight turned to May. "Finishing touches? To what?"
"That's a surprise, dear," May chuckled, finally turning her attention to her untouched plate. She took her seat, and with some hesitance, Twilight followed her example. As they resumed eating, May smiled, stealing a glance of the girl from the corner of her eye. "You'll love what Peter got for you. I promise."
After a few moments, Spike raised his head and turned to Twilight. "Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to ask. I kept hearing a lot of noises coming from your room last night. Why was the bed creaking so much?"
Twilight's entire complexion flushed to a hot shade of crimson, and it worsened once May's knowing stare and Logan's amused smirk landed on the young girl. Twilight stammered, her quivering hand struggling to maintain possession of her fork. The pressure was too great. Twilight hastily made her retreat, stumbling over everything in her path. Logan's stoic demeanor broke, the gruff man bursting into laughter. May sighed, continuing to eat despite the heavy blush that filled her cheeks.
Spike scratched the side of his head, befuddled. "What? It sounded like they were having some kind of fight. It sounded like Peter was winning, too."
Logan couldn't stop himself from guffawing, snorting in between breaths. "Kid…" he started, earning a glare from May. Logan cleared his throat, unable to suppress his laughter completely, but he waved his hand dismissively. "I'll tell you when you're older."
Luna's brow twitched involuntarily as her hands trailed over Peter's smooth back. "The moment I leave your side, you choose to engage King Sombra. Must you act so reckless?"
The energy glowing from the woman's fingers channeled through the young man's body. While Luna's demeanor and expression remained as stoic as ever, her mind was lost in a flutter, drifting like an autumn leaf lost in the wind. She withheld from doing anything unprofessional despite her heart's pleas to do otherwise. Peter sat shirtless with his legs crossed and arms drooped over his knees, revealing his defined, chiseled physique. Luna shook her head. This was most unbearable, and she hated having these provoking thoughts probing at her will. It was not fitting for a warrior, the Princess of the Moon, to feel so childish and feral. Her breathing grew shallow.
Peter tortured her immensely, inadvertently nonetheless. The princess sighed, directing her royal blue gaze to Twilight and the sword she continued to analyze. A sudden agitation surfaced, forcing the princess of the moon to bite down on her lip. Luna envied Twilight Sparkle for holding the only gem in the universe she ever wanted. The woman's eyes widened before she shook her head. She had just referred to Peter as a gem. This was too much. She could not possibly have fallen so low that she desired to be with a fool, one taken by a dear friend at that. The fates were cruel, and Luna begged to strike them down for teasing her.
Exhaling and grumbling under her breath, Luna cleared her throat. "The Equestrian Saber. I have not seen that blade in eons." Her tone was forced, riddled with irritation. Luna's brow lowered further, freeing her gaze from Twilight and settling it on Peter. He peered back from the corner of his eye. Luna sighed lowly. That seemed to have helped her agitation a bit, the knight's beautiful hazel gaze sending a sense of warmth through the center of her chest. Luna had not realized she was caressing the muscles on Peter's back. Fortunately, he hadn't either. "With proper tutelage, you can use it to turn the tide of battle in our favor, Peter."
Logan stood with his arms crossed, leaning against the side of the wall. "It looks like a normal sword to me. What's so special about it?"
Twilight ran her fingers over the cold steel. "The Equestrian Saber is a legendary item on our world, believed to be the only weapon that can rival Ignus Solaris."
Logan arched a brow. "The heck's that?"
Peter shuddered, unknowingly causing Luna to flinch. "It's a glaive made out of fire. That thing gave me third degree burns. True story." The young man closed his eyes. "So, that sword can go up against Princess Celestia's weapon? That's pretty cool. At least I don't have to worry about punching fire again."
Luna inhaled sharply, unaware her cheeks were burning to a shade of crimson once her hand fell over Peter's solid abdomen. She prayed to the stars for strength. "The blade is forged with Griffon steel and bonded with the crystals of the Ancient Empire, giving it unmatched magical power and an unbreakable edge. It reacts to the willpower and magical signature of its wielder." She alternated her gaze between the saber and the disappearing wounds on Peter's body. "You must not judge the sword by its current appearance. If Peter had the ability to access his Equestrian magic, you could bear witness to the saber's true form. It glows like a beam of light and possesses several abilities..."
Peter's face beamed, his eyes sparkling. "Whoa! It sounds like a lightsaber! Cool! I'm going to be a Jedi soon!"
Twilight shook her head, exhaling. "Peter. What have I told you about that?"
"Join me, and together we could rule the galaxy. Twilight. I… am your father," Peter declared, holding his voice as low as possible. Twilight's hand struck the back of his head, causing the young man to whimper. "Girls these days are so mean."
"There seems to be something blocking access to your magic, Peter," Luna murmured, her eyes glowing before returning to normal. "I will attempt to clear it over the course of the next few days."
Logan pulled up a chair, sitting in it backwards. "How fast can you get Parker back on his feet? I haven't heard from Fury or Cap's team since they left for that mission the other day. We might be in for some bad news."
Spike tilted his head to the side. "Do you think Osborn may have them?"
Logan growled. "Worst case scenario, I'd say yeah. We're already short-handed, and I can't get a hold of anyone. Fury. The Avengers. The X-Men. We're in trouble, and we need to check things out soon. To do that, we'll need everyone."
Luna was slow to respond. "My friend's recovery should be complete within two days. Sunset Shimmer will have returned by then as well. We will need her guidance if we plan to infiltrate Oscorp."
Logan scowled, cracking the knuckles in each of his hands. "Are we really going to trust her? What's stopping her from backstabbing us?"
Peter shrugged. "I know what you mean, but everyone deserves at least one second chance, right? Besides, you just said that we're losing heroes. We have to take a chance, and that starts with a leap of faith."
Luna smiled. "A true optimist."
Logan huffed a response, but the man shook his head in defeated fashion. "I don't like this, but I won't make a fuss. I also started off as your enemy, Webhead, but if she tries anything, gutting her is still an option." Snikt! Wolverine's claws rose from his knuckles. "Got me?"
Peter smiled. "Loud and clear, Mister Personality." Luna ceased her actions, sighing deeply before stepping away from the knight. Peter slid his shirt over his body. "After the way Osborn screwed with Shimmer's head and sent her to die, I doubt she'll be in a hurry to join back with him. Unless Sunset's a masochist and gets off on that sort of thing, we should try trusting her."
"Trust me. I can vouch for Shimmer when I say she didn't want the Goblin screwing with her head," a feminine voice declared, prompting everyone to turn their head in its direction. Felicia walked into the room, the black latex hugging her body tightly. Unmasked, she took a seat across from Peter, inadvertently cutting Twilight from his line of sight. The woman paused, giving the young man a sultry smile before brushing a strand of her snow white locks from her cleavage to behind her ear. She licked her lower lip playfully. "Long time no see, Spider. Did you miss me?"
Peter scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "More or less." A small chill ran across his spine, causing him to shiver. Peter edged his head to the side, finding Twilight with a venomous glare aimed in his direction. Unbeknownst to the young man, Luna bore a scowl as well, a small vein throbbing over her temple. "Awkward…" he whined. Desperate to quell any hostile intent, Peter cleared his throat forcefully. "Right. Well. Walloping web-snappers."
Spike turned, baffled. "Huh?"
Peter sat up and stretched, giving Twilight time to take a seat behind his position. "You said Shimmer didn't like what Osborn was doing to her? How could you tell, Felicia?"
Felicia placed a claw against her chin. "It was pretty easy to tell. Somehow, Shimmer was always able to resist Osborn's mind control. They said it had something to do with her magic. Goblin didn't like it when she fought back the first time."
Luna folded her arms over her breasts. "Only those with exceptional and peculiar magical signatures can resist Discord's power of influence. That was why Twilight Sparkle could not be affected by his chaotic nature… for the most part."
Twilight nodded. "That's why Osborn has a huge following right now. Magic is rare on this world, and most people can't resist his powers."
Resting her forehead in the palm of her hands, Felicia shuddered involuntarily. "Don't remind me. Can you imagine what it's like, hearing that bastard laugh as he rapes your will?" Sighing, the woman recollected herself and placed her elbow against the table. "Shimmer fought back so many times. Eventually, she gave up. She almost had to when the punishments grew more extreme by the day. That's probably why Osborn sent her on that suicide mission to fight you all, to make sure she could never resist him again." Felicia managed to smile. "I'm just glad you managed to save her. It's because of her that I was able to get away and follow Sombra. Shimmer knew my chances were better with you."
Luna turned her back to the group. "Indeed. We must work to ensure that this evil man's reign of terror is thwarted. I shall return with Sunset Shimmer."
After the princess disappeared in a flash of light, Logan tapped his finger against his arm. "I guess we have to wait this out then."
Twilight leaned her head against Peter's back, extending a hand. "As for now, that seems rational. Oscorp may be booby-trapped, so we'll have to be prepared." The girl groaned. "Once Princess Luna and Sunset Shimmer return, we can discuss a strategy."
Felicia arched a brow at the violet-haired girl before settling her gaze on Peter. "Who's the twerp?"
Peter braced himself, his eyes slamming shut as Twilight's head shot up. "Excuse me?"
Both women shot each other a glare, neither faltering. Peter hesitantly raised his hand and chuckled. "Hey, hey, hey! Ladies, let's be nice." Felicia scoffed while Twilight frowned, poking her tongue out once nobody was looking. Peter turned and wrapped an arm around his lover. "Felicia. This diminutive cutie is Twilight Sparkle. She's a princess from the world of Equestria, and she's my girlfriend." The latter was murmured cautiously after a subtle pause. The room fell silent, the only sound heard being Spike's breathing. Peter glanced off the side, sheepish. "Again. Awkward."
Felicia alternated her emerald gaze between the young man and the tiny girl by his side. "I see," she murmured, her voice low and apprehensive. However, the woman managed to smirk once Twilight clutched at Peter's arm. "You seem defensive. Did Spidey tell you about me?"
Twilight rolled her eyes. "I've heard enough. Consider me unimpressed."
Both women continued to glare each other down, trying to resist the urge to lash out. Peter stammered out, a part of himself begging to retreat while the other demanded to remain the wall that separated the unstoppable force and the immovable object. The young man averted his gaze for a second, shifting in the direction to his dragon compatriot, but it was for naught, as Spike had somehow snuck out of the room unnoticed. Peter cursed under his breath. Spike must have sensed the building hostility and made himself scarce. However, as luck would have it, Logan remained in place, his expression gruff and humorless.
Peter gulped. "Logan? A little help?"
Wolverine only chuckled. "Tread lightly, bub. Tread lightly."
Peter sighed, exasperated. He needed a better wingman.
Twenty-Two Days Remain until the portal closes...
Forty-Eight Hours Remain...
Peter raised his head, freeing his gaze from the book in his hands. Twilight took a place in the bed behind him, her breasts pressing against the young man's back. The princess was silent, unusually so, and Peter could only sigh, seeing as how the girl had been like this since talking with her boyfriend's old flame. It was awkward but inevitable. Peter maintained his silence, refusing to give Twilight any more ammo than she had already acquired. However, his posture lightened once the girl leaned forward and gently kissed his cheek, holding her position for several seconds.
Peter's face practically burned. His gaze softened as Twilight's arms wrapped around one of his own, clinging to it somewhat possessively. "You want to talk about it?" he asked, his voice soft and lacking any humor.
Twilight shook her head before resting it against Peter's shoulder. "Not really. Don't worry. I'm in a much better mood than I was earlier. I just have to tolerate Felicia for a while. That's all. Is she always so…" she trailed off, struggling to find the right word without sounding offensive, "flirty?"
"Afraid so," Peter deadpanned, shrugging his shoulders haplessly before leaning enough to plant a kiss on the girl's crown. "Felicia has her quirks, but she's a good person deep down. I'm sure you two will become friends eventually."
Twilight huffed, her enthusiasm sorely lacking. "Peter. Do you mind if I ask you something personal?" Her request was sudden, as if it had been withheld for a while. After Peter hummed, Twilight continued, rubbing his arms affectionately. "I remember you told me that things didn't quite work out between yourself and Felicia. It's just… Why? She's very attractive, and-" Twilight stopped once a desolate sigh escaped from Peter's mouth. She chided herself. It was a personal question. This reaction was surely expected. It certainly explained why Peter tended to avoid discussions regarding Felicia. Twilight shook her head apologetically. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry. It was wrong for me to ask."
Peter's hand fell over Twilight's. It was saddened, but the young man managed to smile. "It's okay. I wasn't offended or anything. I was just thinking back to those days. My luck has always been bad when it came to women. It was a few things that kept us apart. I was the stupid hero, and Felicia was the on again, off again thief, but the key factor is a bit more personal." He lifted his gaze, holding it toward the ceiling. "Gwen loved Peter Parker, but she hated Spider-Man. Well, Felicia was the exact opposite." His shoulders fell in a slump. "Black Cat's adventurous, and she hated the idea of dating a below average guy. As long as I wore the mask, I was special. Without it, I was boring. Simple as that. When I tried to talk to Felicia about it, she left. It was for the best. Not too long after that, I started dating Gwen, but you know how that turned out."
Twilight shook her head disapprovingly. "That's horrible. I'm sorry, Peter." Her fingers dug into her skirt, creating a new set of wrinkles, and the girl rocked in place, gritting her teeth. "That bothers me. Why is it that people are so quick to ostracize you just because of your costume? Peter Parker is Spider-Man. There's no difference. You may act like there is, but there isn't. You're responsible, kind, caring, and selfless. I see one person, and that's the pony I fell in love with." She folded her arms, turning her glare to the side. "She's so stupid."
Peter's lips curled into a smile. "You dork. You don't have to put yourself in my shoes that much." He pulled the girl into his lap, resting his face against Twilight's collarbone. "That's why I love you. You were the first who accepted both sides of me. Plus, you have the cutest reactions, even when you hit me." His hot breath brushed over her skin, causing the princess to shiver involuntarily. Peter raised his head until his lips found Twilight's. The kiss was brief, yet its affection rivaled many of their others. "Thanks for reminding me that it's okay for me to be myself. You have no idea how much you mean to me, Twilight. You're always supporting me. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully repay your love, but with your permission, I'd like to try."
Twilight's lips quivered into a smile. Peter's words always reached her. She cursed her frailty as the urge to cry grew, but the princess managed to recollect herself. "I love you," Twilight whispered, her voice choked. "You have my permission, but honestly, you're doing just fine. I know how much you care."
Peter chuckled under his breath before reaching behind his position, retrieving a small, slender box. "Then, I guess I can give you this without feeling like a chump."
Twilight stammered as she hesitantly accepted the gift, her cheeks flushing. "Oh, Peter. You didn't have to get me anything." She paused, sharing a glance with her prince. "May I?" Peter nodded, prompting the princess to free the lid from the box. Her eyes shot open at the golden prize inside. Its surface was smooth, polished to perfection. Twilight's mouth fell agape while her fingers slid under the sparkling chain before lifting the trinket, allowing the heart-shaped locket to gently hang in her grasp. The heart was opened, revealing a small picture inside of Peter hugging Twilight with a mischievous grin while she giggled. Her tears resurfaced, pouring from the corners of her eyes. She managed to slide the chain around her neck, but she refused to let go of the locket. "By the stars... It's beautiful."
"It's not as beautiful as you," Peter declared, brushing away the girl's tears with a finger. "You can call this a symbol of how I feel. You're always in my heart, and I hope I can keep a place in yours, too."
He was barely able to finish his statement, Twilight's arms flying around Peter's neck. Between sobs of joy, the princess tightened her grip and buried her face into the crook of her lover's neck. "I'm never letting you go. Ever."
The young man chuckled, managing to lift the girl bridal style, and they made their way to a standing position, Peter keeping one hand on Twilight's back and the other on her side. The princess giggled, standing on the tip of her toes to keep her lips pressed against her boyfriend's. Twilight ran her fingers against his strong arms, earning a small smile from the young man. He tightened his hold, Twilight stifling a giggle as Peter's finger tickled her skin under the silk of her nightgown. It was perfect, despite their considerable height difference. Twilight longed to stay like this.
They remained like that, embracing the other with nothing held back. Outside the bedroom door, the lonely Princess and Keeper of the Night sobbed silently.
Twenty-One Days Remain until the portal closes...
Twenty-Four Hours Remain...
Sunset Shimmer stood over the table, trailing her fingers along the projection at the center. "Here's the security layout for Oscorp. The place is huge, and it's easy to fall into a trap." She drew two lines, both going in separate directions. "These are the safest paths to take. We'll have to deal with some resistance, but I'm confident that you lot are competent enough to deal with a few drones."
Peter placed his hands on his hips. "So, what's in Oscorp? It's such a bad idea to go into the main bad guy's base without a good reason. Don't tell me we're going to change his interior decorating? I bet Oscorp is so gloomy. I know the best place he can go to buy some curtains." He paused, straightening the circuits in the crimson pieces of armor on the table. Peter placed the helmet down, handing it over to Twilight. "Which do you prefer? Silk or lace?"
Shimmer blankly stared at the young man. "Does any part of your body beside your mouth work?" Exhaling, the girl returned her gaze to the map. "Besides, this isn't Osborn's base. He moved to another location before he wiped my memory. I just remembered there were a few things he left in Oscorp. Blueprints. Schematics. I figured we can find something of the sort there and use it to our advantage." Shimmer tapped one finger against a spot on the map. "I remember there were schematics about Discord here." She paused, poking at an area on the opposite side of the map. "There was something here. I can't remember what, but Osborn was pretty secretive about it. I figured it might be important enough to investigate."
Luna unfolded her arms and approached the projection. "It is risky, but it appears we will have to break off into two teams to save time."
Shimmer nodded. "That's a good idea. We'll have to split up after we break into the place and deal with the security. If I recall, the worst thing we'll have to deal with is the Sinister Six. After that, the rest should be easy."
Peter huffed, throwing his hands into the air. "Oh, those guys again? I thought Osborn took them out, especially Doc Ock."
Shimmer slammed her eyes shut as her hand clutched at her throbbing cranium. She growled, shaking her head dismayingly. "Sorry. Osborn really messed with my head. I can't remember who he chose exactly, but I do know the Sinister Six have a new leader."
Peter shrugged, patting the girl over the shoulder. "It's fine. You see one Sinister Six group, you've seen them all. Since there are seven of us, we'll be able to take them out and split up after." Shimmer huffed a response, managing to hold a ghost of a smile. Peter turned to face the rest of the group. "Two teams, huh? How about we send Wolverine, Shimmer, Black Cat, and Spike after the Discord schematics? I bet security will be a bit hectic there. Luna, Twilight, and I can go after the other thing, just in case it's a bust. It'll give me a chance to try out my new armor."
Felicia grinned. "Since when did you become Mr. Take Charge?"
Shimmer cupped her chin in the palm of her hand. "It's a good idea. I'll be able to access the hard drives. Osborn didn't wipe all of my memories. Once I'm in, I'll be able to send the other teams any information I find."
Logan unsheathed his claws aggressively. "Bout time we got rolling. I've been aching to bust somebody up."
"How about we leave first thing in the morning?" Twilight inquired, earning an affirmative nod from everyone in the room. Her mouth hung open, letting out a low yawn. Twilight brushed her forearm over her eyes and slowly made her way out of the room. "I'm tired. I'll see you all in the morning."
Black Cat raised a brow, stealing a glance at the clock across the room. "It's not even noon, and she's calling it in already?"
Peter scratched his cheek. "Yeah. Twilight almost never takes naps. I hope she's okay..."
Logan shrugged. "Kid's probably nervous. It's nothing to worry about."
Spike chuckled. "Either that, or she's becoming as lazy as Peter."
Peter rolled his eyes. "Shut up, Spike."
Twenty Days Remain until the portal closes…
Three Hours Remain…
Twilight stopped in her tracks. She hunched over, taking in deep breaths. Suddenly, she felt fatigued, whimpering. Small aches ran through her back, and a few throbs pulsated through her cranium. She leaned against the wall, stealing a glance at her cape. It didn't feel any heavier than usual. Twilight pressed her hand against her back and stretched, straining until a small pop escaped from her body. Perhaps she slept improperly or the bed springs were beginning to wear out. It might explain her headache. Twilight shook her head. Her pains weren't severe. If anything, they were just minor inconveniences. In any case, it was of little consequence. The others were waiting for her.
She had no time to worry about such small things.
Two Hours Remain...
Within the walls of Oscorp, dozens of metallic drones patrolled throughout the area. Suddenly, an explosion was heard behind an armored door. The drones reacted, moving with their guns drawn and aimed at the source. They waited as more explosions erupted. Eventually, the door was blown off its hinges, and smoke rushed into the room. Wolverine leapt from the cloud, soaring through the air before landing on one of the drones. He slammed his claws into its chest, impaling the robot. Others swarmed Wolverine, but he lifted the drone and tossed it into another, disassembling both mechs. He snarled before lashing out, slicing through every robot that neared him.
An emerald wave of fire burst into the room and engulfed several robots in its path, reducing the machines to smoldering heaps of circuitry and metal. Spike stomped into the room, swatting the nearest drone with his tail. Black Cat flipped from his back, landing between a pair of Osborn's robots. She slashed one across the face before wrapping her legs around its head. Using her momentum, Felicia hurled the drone into the air and into another. Before the robot could recover, Black Cat hopped and slammed her foot through its neck, severing its head from the body. Spider-Man and Twilight Sparkle ran into the room afterward, surveying the damage.
Black Cat sighed, kicking the robot's head across the room. "That was refreshing."
Twilight nodded. "No doubt more will be on the way."
Luna flew inside before landing next to Spider-Man. "We should hurry while we possess the element of surprise."
Felicia eyed Spider-Man intently. He wore new attire, a type of armor. A black spider insignia rested over his crimson chestplate, and he wore added protection in the form of gauntlets, shoulder pads, leg guards, thigh garments, and a helmet. It was slender and not confined. Black Cat stepped forward, smiling. "Nice armor, Spidey. When did you have the time to fix that up?"
Spider-Man held his hand out before brushing it over his chestplate. "I started making it after we met Tony and the others. He left me with JARVIS, and we've made good progress on this. But this is just the prototype. The real thing is still at the Sanctum Sanctorum. I like to call it 'Spider Armor'. It's just a little added protection for the old ribs." He chuckled, pointing at his girlfriend. "Twilight insisted I wear something to shield the injuries." He poked at the chestplate with his thumb. "Don't worry. I still have the classic red and blue threads on underneath this."
Black Cat folded her arms and exhaled. "You two sound like an old married couple. Besides. You looked better in black."
Twilight growled. "I'd rather be happily married than some shallow floozy."
Hissing, Black Cat stomped over and glared down at the girl. "Say that again, you sawed-off little-!"
Spider-Man stepped between both women before the situation could worsen, placing Twilight behind his back and directly facing Felicia himself. "Hey! Knock it off! We don't have time for that!"
Both women were silent, exchanging glares, but they conceded, walking in the opposite direction of each other. Spider-Man sighed, earning a sympathetic smile from Luna. Sunset Shimmer appeared in a flash of light, walking past her group. Her attire was dark, black with shades of violet and orange. Her top exposed her slender shoulders and abdomen, its cape hanging from her arms. She straightened the collar around her neck before retrieving a device from her pocket. Spider-Man and the others gathered around Sunset, each gazing at the two blips on the device's screen. However, before she could explain anything, the wall on the other side of the room split apart in a thunderous detonation.
Five individuals stepped from inside, slowly making their way to the group of intruders. Spider-Man stepped in front of Twilight before lowering his body into a defensive stance. The others followed suit. Wolverine snarled, unsheathing his claws with a snikt. Black Cat hissed, lowering her body into a near prowling stance. Twilight, Luna, and Shimmer extended their hands, allowing magic to emit from them brightly. As the five men closed the distance, Spider-Man's eyes widened, his mind recollecting their unique appearances.
"Electro, Kraven, Shocker, Vulture, and-" Spider-Man muttered, gasping at an unusual sight. A large, bulking mechanical beast stood with the men, a large horn on top of its muzzle. "Rhino? Oh, my God. What happened? You look like a Transformer now. Don't tell me Michael Bay gave you a makeover?" Twilight cleared her throat, prompting Spider-Man to shake his head. "Right. I'm counting only five of you. Unless you guys are the Fabulous Five now, where's the Six in your Sinister?"
Suddenly, someone jumped from behind Rhino's massive shoulders, landing clumsily with a katana in one hand and a pistol in the other. "It's about time I made my cameo appearance!" He bounced in place, ecstatic. "What do you think? The author said I could be a part of the story! He even gave me my own team. I like to call us 'Deadpool and his Inferior Friends!"
Spider-Man groaned. "Oh, God. It's you."
Deadpool straightened his mask and used the hilt of his sword to massage out the wedgie in his crimson attire. "Wait. I'm not supposed to tell you that. Uh, how did it go again? Ah, that's right. Osborn couldn't control my mind and whatever. Heh! It's a total rat nest up there! I should know, I built it! Anyway, Gobbie's paying me to keep you goody-two-shoe wimps out of his place." Deadpool jumped into the air, performing a split before dancing in place. "Come on! If I do a good job, I'll have a spot in the sequel story! That'd be awesome! I fricken' love Friendship is Magic! Pinkie Pie is best pony by the way! We can be BFFS!"
Twilight held her hand out, slack-jawed. "Who is this guy?!" The girl groaned. "He makes less sense than you, Spider-Man."
Luna furrowed her brow. "How… does he know about Pinkie Pie?"
Spike and Twilight stopped, sharing a befuddled glance before raising a brow at the costumed man. "How does he know Pinkie Pie?"
Wolverine growled. "That's Deadpool. He's off his rocker, but he's one hell of an assassin. Don't get too close to him."
Deadpool pointed his katana at Wolverine. "Short and short on deodorant is a really bad combination, Stabby."
Spider-Man clenched his fists. "I'll handle Deadpool! You guys take care of the others!"
Nodding, Deadpool spun before retrieving his second katana. "I'm gonna rough you up like a Broadway Musical! Fine! It's time for a little cliffhanger, suckers!"
To be continued...