Hello everypony! It's time for our grand finale! Will the heroes be able to stop Checker once and for all? Lets find out!
BTW. In the even the events of the actual series contradict this one, which may happen, this is basically an alternate universe. It remains in canon as much as it is able to.
Checkmate Part 3: Nightmare's End
Twilight blinked. "Uh…What happened?" she asked, looking around, seeing Checker standing before her with a rather demented…and frighteningly familiar look on her face. "Checker! What did you do?!"
"Why do you not ask your friends?" the mare replied with a dark chuckle, causing Twilight's eyes to widen in shock.
"She certainly didn't do anything bad," said Applejack's voice. But something seemed…off.
"Applejack?" the mare asked, looking over to find the farmer's fur grayed out. Her blood ran cold. "W-what happened?"
"Ah have absolutely no idea," Applejack replied, not hiding her lie very well at all.
"Stay away from him!"
"R-Rarity?" Twilight asked, fear welling up in her.
Rarity was likewise grayed, standing between everypony around her and a giant bolder. "You all want Tom! But you can't have him!"
"No…no…" Twilight stuttered, tears welling up in her eyes as she staggered back, right into someone who promptly kicked her off.
"Watch were you're going!"
Twilight looked back to see a grayed Pinkie Pie glaring daggers at her.
Twilight's eyes went wide. "No…please…anything but this…"
A bucket of water was promptly dumped on her head, followed by the bucket itself. "Not you too…" Twilight begged, removing the bucket to see the grayed out Fluttershy laughing at her. "Rainbow?! Where's Rainbow Dash?!"
Twilight turned and saw Rainbow Dash flying away, fur gray. Tears streamed down the unicorn's face. "T-Trixie?!" she begged, snapping around to find the mare grayed and staring out into space. "Trixie?"
"No pony…notices me…I'm nothing…" Trixie muttered again and again.
"Trixie! I'm here! Listen to me!" the purple unicorn pleaded, standing right in front of her and not even being noticed. She leaned forward and used the memory spell…but nothing happened. Twilight staggered back, heart racing, shaking her head as she sobbed. "No…this can't be happening…not again…it doesn't make any sense, how can this be happening?" she asked, watching her friends fight, argue…all over again…
Chocolate rain began to fall and she heard a deranged laugh from behind her. She turned to Checker.
"Oh make sense? What fun is there in making sense?" asked Checker in a voice that wasn't hers. Checker's body lengthened, horns growing and fur changing color.
Twilight trotted backwards, staring up in absolute terror. "Discord…"
Discord let out a laugh as he stood above Twilight. "That is right, Twilight Sparkle, and you will find the 'magic of friendship is not going to save you this time," Discord said, giving a chuckle as he looked at her with a cruel smirk…
Goodbye to the rook who defended you so. One piece down, five more to go.
"Ugh…ouchy, my head hurts!" Pinkie exclaimed, standing up and looking around. Checker was nowhere to be found, but her friends were there, all glaring at her. "Oh, hello guys, are we having a staring contest?" she asked, giving a smile.
"Typical. You do not even remember, do you?" asked Rainbow Dash, rolling her eyes. Pinkie couldn't help feeling something was off with those eyes.
Twilight gave a growl. "Come on! You seriously don't remember?!
Pinkie gave a whimper. "No…What happened?"
Trixie snarled, glaring at her. "Thanks to you, Checker escaped! She's still out there and it's all your fault! You never take anything seriously and now it's cost everypony!"
Pinkie's eyes widened. "What? No! I…I might mess up sometimes but…"
"Face it, Pinkie, you are a big screw up!" Rainbow Dash spat. "Why did I even hang out with you? Loser." she stated, glaring.
Tears formed in Pinkie's eyes. "N-no…W-we're friends…"
"Friends?! Why should I be friends with someone who cares more about being funny than helping her friends?! You are nothing but a goof off!"
"Maybe you should go find Gilda, she's probably a better friend," Fluttershy added, looking to the rainbow maned Pegasus, but still glaring at Pinkie from the corner of her eyes.
"Maybe I will."
"No! Dashie! Don't go!" Pinkie cried, Rainbow Dash turning and flying away, Twilight walking off after her, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, and Trixie following suit, leaving Pinkie Pie absolutely alone on stage.
"No…Don't leave me alone…" Pinkie said in a broken voice, hair going straight and colors darkening as tears flowed from her eyes. "I care about my friends…"
There goes one happy knight, now there are four more pieces to fight.
Rainbow Dash groaned, slowly getting to her hooves and finding herself in Cloudsdale.
"Well that was an impressive crash, but that was about the only impressive thing you did."
Rainbow Dash looked over, seeing Spitfire glaring down at her with the other Wonderbolts. "Spitfire?" she asked, eyes wide.
"You are pathetic, there is no place on the Wonderbolts for you," said Spitfire, but something seemed off…her eyes didn't seem right. "And there never was. You always choke when it is time to put on the big show, do you not?"
"Not that we'd ever want someone like you on the Wonderbolts anyway," Soarin snarled, though his eyes seemed normal. "Anyone who would abandon their team has no place with us!"
Rainbow Dash gasped. "What? N-no! I've never…" she started, but remembered a time that she had…a time that caused her nothing but shame.
"Really? I heard you abandoned them…" said the Wonderbolt captain, but she seemed a bit hesitant to continue.
"Yeah, one little choice and you left them to Discord's mercy," Soarin picked up, glaring.
Rainbow gasped, shaking her head, tears starting. "No…I mean yes, I did…but…You don't understand…"
"Oh we understand, you are a traitor," Spitfire growled, snarling. "Probably why your friends are not here! Why would they support a traitor like you!"
"Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!" the Wonderbolts chanted, Rainbow staggering back.
"No…I'm not a traitor…I'm not…" she muttered, covering her ears as tears streamed down her face. "I-I…I didn't have a choice…I…"
And the loyal rook now falls, three more pieces and I win it all.
Fluttershy shook her head, getting back on her hooves. "Ugh…What happened?"
"Typical, Fluttershy passed out," said Rarity, glaring at her, the others surrounding her with a snarl. Rarity's eyes scared her.
"Probably got scared, AGAIN," Rainbow Dash complained, rolling her eyes.
Fluttershy whimpered, the insult hitting deep. "I…I know I get scared some times…but…"
"You are always scared! You coward!" Rarity yelled, getting in her face. "Especially when we actually need your help! Well you know what? Forget it, we have better things to do than hang out with a frightened little foal who is afraid of her own shadow!"
Fluttershy whimpered and staggered back, tears forming in her eyes. "I…I'm sorry…I can't help it…please…please don't be angry."
"Well we are angry! Because you are too much of a coward to stand up when we really need you too!" the fashionista growled, pushing Fluttershy on her back. "And we are done with you!"
Fluttershy began to cry. "No…No…I'm sorry…" she muttered as her friends turned and left. "Please…" she muttered, sinking to the ground and crying her eyes out.
The other knight is out of the game, two more spirits I need to tame.
"Oh mah achin' head," Applejack muttered, getting to her hooves and holding her head. She found herself back on Sweet Apple Acres. "What in tarnation happened?" she asked, shaking her head to clear it.
"I will tell you what happened, sis," said Applebloom, staring straight at her with eyes that made the farmer pony feel uneasy. "You screwed up big time! That is what happened!"
Applejack gasped. "W-what? What do you mean?"
"She means yah messed up!" Big Macintosh growled, walking over, glaring daggers. "Didn't yah know yah signed that contract with the bank?!"
Applejack shook her head, backing up. "W-what contract?! Ah didn't sign anythin'!"
"Then what do you call this?!" the little filly yelled, pulling out a contract with Applejack's signature.
"But…Ah don't remember…"
"Yah scatter brain!" Big Macintosh bellowed, getting in her face. "It said if we don't repay a loan, then we lose the farm! And thanks to yah screwin' up at the fair, we can't pay it off!"
Applejack gasped, shaking her head. "But…but Ah'd never-"
"Well you did!" Applebloom yelled, bucking her sister in the face. "Maybe if you had stayed where you could learn something you would have known!"
Applejack took a trot back. "But…"
"If yah had stayed in Manehatten, maybe yah coulda learned a thing or two and we wouldn't be in this mess!" Big Mac yelled.
Applejack shook her head in horror. "Ah…Ah only came back because Ah'm an Apple…Ah did it for yah all…"
"Well yah don't deserve to call yourself an Apple! Yah are nothin' but a failure!" the eldest Apple sibling yelled.
Applejack looked up at her siblings, tears in her eyes. "But…Ah…Ah didn't mean to…Ah love mah family, Ah'd never do that…"
The two siblings snarled and turned their back on Applejack, walking away. "Don't leave! Ah'd never do that! Ah never let mah family down…"
Farewell to the bishop so strong, only one more soul to prove wrong.
Rarity gave a groan, waking up in her boutique. "What? But I wasn't here before…"
Twilight kicked open the door. "There you are!"
"Twilight?" Rarity asked, rubbing her head. Something about Twilight's eyes seemed…off. "What's going on?"
"The plan to stop Checker failed! That is what happened!" the purple mare screamed, getting in her face. "Because you were too selfish to even show up!"
Rarity gasped. "Selfish? I…No! I'd never!"
"Of course you would! You only care about yourself! You are always so greedy!" the unicorn yelled.
Rarity staggered back, suddenly finding herself standing in a pile of jewels. "No…I..I might let my greed get the better of me from time to time, but…I always put my friends first!"
"Then why did you let Discord get to you with a stupid rock!" Spike yelled, poking out from behind Twilight's back, growling.
"Spike?!" Rarity asked, eyes shrinking to pinpricks.
"Discord makes you see a giant diamond and you crumble like a house of cards! If that isn't greedy, I don't know what is!" Spike yelled. "Do you ever think about what someone else wants?!"
Twilight shook her head as Rarity teared up. "Always so selfish. I bet you got those jewels from Checker to bribe you off. Well you know what? Maybe I should go find a new friend," she spat. "One who will not blow off something vitally important just to catch some beauty sleep or because she's thrown some jewels!"
Rarity put her hooves on Twilight's shoulders. "Twilight! Please! Give me another chance! I'm…I'm not greedy! I'm not! I promise! Do you honestly think I'd let myself be bribed into betraying you!"
Twilight threw her hooves off, turning and stomping away, Spike glaring at her.
"No…I'm not greedy…I'm not…"
And now that all the pieces are gone, it is time to bid the king so long.
Trixie looked around, finding herself and Checker in Ponyville on the stage, but no pony was around. She immediately narrowed her eyes. "You dragged us into a dream, didn't you, Checkmate?"
Checker gave a completely demented laugh. "That's right!" she exclaimed insanely, her voice retaining its high pitch and giving a crazed look at her sibling.
Trixie gave a gasp of recognition as the voice echoed in her ears. "You know, Trixie had forgotten your true voice, Checker. You've hid it under that false one for so long Trixie doubts even you remembered it."
Checker gave a maniacal smirk. "I know, I've been hiding lots of things from myself! But no more!"
Trixie was disturbed by her sister's change. "What…what happened to you?"
Checker laughed again. "Happened to me?! It's simple! I've finally stopped hiding from myself! This is the real me! I've just been burying this deep, deep, deep down inside me! But not any more! I've finally embraced the beast I really am!" Checker stated, her gaze making Trixie feel like she was in a den of wolves. "And you'll have lots of time to get to know the real me, because you're going to be here for a very, very, very long time!" Trixie swore Checker's teeth looked predatory, sharp.
Trixie snarled, getting in a precharge pose. "Trixie is getting back to her friends. She is just as strong here as you."
Checker began laughing dementedly, reddish-black smoke surging off of and hiding her form in darkness, only glowing yellow eyes staring out showing she was there. "That's what you think! But I know a few secrets, sister!" the smoke surged around her and light like a star exploded off of her. "Are you ready to face the beast I am, Trixie?! Game on!" Checker bellowed, her voice now a mix of her own and a monstrous growl as the smoke towered higher and higher, the eyes growing larger and larger.
Trixie staggered back as the smoke began to part, revealing what her sister had turned into. "No…not that…" she said, eyes wide and terror rushing through her, her heart racing. In both the dream and real life she began to break out in a cold sweat. She tried to will Checker's transformation away, but she just couldn't. So Trixie just went running as an Ursa Major's claw smashed straight through the stage.
"You can run Trixie! But you can't hide!" Checker bellowed, letting out a roar and tearing after her sister with a maniacal laugh.
"Twili! Wake up!" Shining Armor begged, nudging his sister with worry and panic clear in his eyes. The only thing keeping him at all composed was the fact he was the Captain of the Guard and he needed to control the situation, and that barely, barely overrode his protective instinct of his little sister.
"What's going on?!" yelled Spike as he and the Crusaders ran over.
Helping Hoof looked down at Trixie, who was twisting and turning in a nightmare, as were the others, but in her case, it was different. She was in a cold sweat, heart racing, like she was scared for her life. She'd protected him…and the Diamond Dogs had simply cowered behind the group. "Checker's used her trump card."
"Trump card?" Scootaloo asked, rushing to Rainbow Dash's side as Fluttershy's birds surrounded her and a couple returned with Angel, Sweetie to Rarity, and Spike to Twilight's.
"What's going on?" asked Mrs. Cake, worry plastered on her face as she climbed out of the audience onto the stage, a crying Pumpkin in a baby carrier, Mr. Cake carrying Pound as he joined her. She looked down at Pinkie. "Pinkie…What's going on?!"
"Checker…she knows a dream infiltration spell," Helping Hoof reported, watching the seven ponies trapped in their worst nightmares.
Shining Armor gasped. "A dream infiltration spell? But that's illegal!"
The stallion nodded. "Yes, and Checker knows that. But she's been using it as her weapon of choice for some time now…I know it was wrong of me not to tell anyone…I accept any punishment that comes with it."
Shining Armor looked dumbstruck. "But…But a dream infiltration spell should only work if they were already sleeping, how is she doing this?" he asked, keeping a hoof on Twilight's back softly. He had to keep control, he was the figure of authority here. He knew about the spell, like he knew about most of the laws in Equestria, it was his job to know.
"It's like Twilight said, Checker is overloading her horn to supercharge it, it's the only logical explanation…" Helping Hoof replied, looking grim. "And, as you probably know, Shining Armor, the only way to escape the spell at this point is to force Checker out or if she lets them…And until then, they might as well be facing Discord."
Shining Armor looked even more scared as he looked down at his little sister that he couldn't protect, as did the others.
"Why is she doing this?" asked Scootaloo, not seeing the sense in it, even if she was a filly. "She's already lost, why doesn't she just give up?"
"Because…ever since I've known Checker, one thing has been clear about her," Helping Hoof explained. "If she can't win, she makes sure someone else loses. This isn't her trying to win, this is her trying to take them down with her."
A hush fell over the worried group, along with the crowd.
"Can't we just wake her up?" asked Mrs. Cake, looking over at Checker, who was seemingly in a trance.
Shining Armor quickly shook his head. "No, forcibly breaking the connection could cause more harm than good, that's one of the reasons using the spell is so heavily monitored, but normally it'd only hurt the user, but with it forced like this…it's too big of a risk…We'll…w-we'll just have to have faith in them…" he said, laying down next to his sister and putting a hoof on her shoulder. "Twili'…you've got to fight this…" he said, doing his best to keep tears out of his eyes and look strong for those around him.
Spike looked between Twilight and Rarity, looking like he had to decide which of his own hands to cut off. Who did he help?
The Cakes laid down next to Pinkie Pie. "Pinkie…we know you can do this…" Mrs. Cake said, putting a hoof on her shoulder.
"Please! Twilight! Fluttershy! Anyone!" Pinkie called, trying desperately to get any of her friends attention, but they just kept going…leaving her alone.
Pinkie Pie's head drooped, thinking about what happened as tears streamed down her face. "…How could this happen?" she muttered, looking down at her hooves as her colors began fading to grey.
Rainbow Dash looked back, giving a cold smirk. "Checkmate…"
"I…I thought Dashie would never…" Pinkie muttered.
"Pinkie…we know you can do this…"
Pinkie gave a gasp as she felt like someone was with her…someone familiar, comforting, calming her panicked mind enough to realize something. "Hey! Wait a minute!"
Rainbow Dash was suddenly pulled straight back to the stage, Pinkie remembering her eyes as she looked into them. "What?!"
"Rainbow Dash would never say 'you do not even remember', that's WAY too formal for her!" Pinkie replied, her fur returning to it's normal color and mane popping back to normal. "Oh, and Rainbow Dash would never abandon me! She was the one who went through all the trouble to bring me to my surprise birthday party! She believed me when Gilda was being a big meanie! Rainbow Dash wouldn't abandon me for one little mess up! None of my friends would!" But Pinkie found herself still unable to completely take control.
'Rainbow Dash' staggered back, but glared at her. "Of course she would! I mean I would! Why wouldn't I?! You're a screw up! You're a ditz!"
Pinkie growled, but felt a chill go down her spine. "No! I'm not! That's not true!"
'Rainbow Dash' suddenly started laughing. "Not true? I pulled it right from your own mind. How can it not be true when it comes from yourself? Face it, what I was saying was merely your shadow, I was just giving it a voice. You cannot deny it, these things are merely what you know is true about yourself! Nothing more!"
Pinkie trotted back as the stage came alive, trying to grab her, but she could do nothing to block it. The curtains rapped around her and lifted her into the air, helpless no matter how much she struggled.
"Go on! Keep Denying it! Keep thinking it isn't true about yourself! It won't change a thing! I'll still win!" 'Rainbow Dash' cackled, sharp boards rising up and pointing at Pinkie.
Pinkie looked down, thinking as she tried to think of what to do…then suddenly looked a bit serious. "You're right…I know I mess up sometimes…I know I don't make sense to anyone but me sometimes…And I know I can be a ditz, but I'm proud to be cooky, friendly, party loving Pinkamena Diane Pie! And my real friends love who I am!" Pinkie replied. "Which means you're not Dashie!"
Pinkie broke free of her bonds and grabbed 'Rainbow Dash's' mane and pulled her head off like a Scooby Doo mask, revealing Checker Monarch underneath it.
"Checker! I should've known!" Pinkie exclaimed.
"Yes! And I would have gotten away with it if it were not for you meddling pony! Wait…why did I even say that?!" Checker asked, blinking. Then her eyes widened as she realized the amount of control Pinkie suddenly had.
"Because you're in my dream, silly!" Pinkie exclaimed with a chuckle. "Oh! Here's the part were I do something awesome to break out of the dream! Now what to do…Ah! I know!" she exclaimed excitedly. "Hey Checker! Do you like cupcakes?!"
"Huh? What is that supposed to-AHH!"
"Huh…I thought I threw a cooled cupcake, not one fresh out of the oven…"
"Why you little!" Checker yelled, tearing off the hot cupcake. "You'll pay for that!"
Pinkie gave a cheerful grin. "You'll have to catch me first!" Pinkie yelled, jumping up and giving a Roadrunner honk and taking off, Checker in hot pursuit. After awhile, Pinkie stopped in her tracks and Checker kept running.
"Oh! You're going to need this!" Pinkie called, handing her a wooden sign marked 'Help!' in black paint as she ran past.
Checker blinked, coming to a stop and looking at the sign. She then gulped and looked down, screaming as gravity suddenly sent her falling due to her having run straight off a cliff, making a cartoony cloud of dirt when she hit and the dream shattered.
Scootaloo put a hoof on Rainbow's shoulder. "Rainbow…you're the best! There's no way some jerk is gonna beat you! So don't you let her! I know you're gonna win!"
"Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!" chanted the Wonderbolts.
"No…I…I…" Rainbow Dash muttered, curling into a ball and holding her ears, tears streaming down her face, her colors beginning to gray. "I…I was just trying to save Cloudsdale…"
Spitfire smirked. "Checkmate…" she said under her breath, too quiet for Dash to hear.
"Rainbow…you're the best! There's no way some jerk is gonna beat you! So don't you let her! I know you're gonna win!"
Rainbow suddenly gave a gasp. She could feel it…someone was there, she could see them but…she wasn't alone. She looked at the Wonderbolts around her with a more careful eye before color returned. "Wait a minute!"
Rainbow Dash got up, glaring at Spitfire. It hit her…those eyes. "I may have made a bad choice, but the REAL Spitfire is my friend! She's not mean like this!"
'Spitfire's' eyes widened. "Well…maybe you did not know her, I mean me as well as you thought you did."
"Unlikely! And the real Soarin' is my friend too! And I know he's nothing like this!" Rainbow Dash stated, looking to Soarin', who suddenly softened. "The real Wonderbolts are all cool ponies! Not one of them would act like this in real life! And I know that because I've met them!"
'Spitfire staggered back. "You…you actually know them?!" she asked, eyes wide.
Rainbow Dash nodded, pouncing on 'Spitfire' and pinning her down. "I SAVED three of their lives! But you wouldn't know that, would you, Checker?!"
'Spitfire' snarled, disguise dissolving into Checker's true self, who kicked Rainbow Dash off her. Rainbow tried to alter things, but found herself unable to. "That doesn't change the fact you're a traitor!" Checker yelled, getting to her hooves. "You still betrayed all your friends to Discord!"
Rainbow Dash took a trot back. "You don't understand…I'm not a traitor! None of what you said is true! It can't be!"
Checker gave a laugh. "Not true? I pulled it right from your own mind. How can it not be true when it comes from yourself? Face it, what I was saying was merely your shadow, I was just giving it a voice. You cannot deny it, these things are merely what you know is true about yourself! Nothing more!"
A tornado suddenly picked up and tossed Dash hard against a cloud building. No matter what she tried to do, she couldn't will it away…
"Come on! Keep denying! Keep trying to say 'that isn't true!' No matter how much you deny it, you know in your heart it's the truth!" Checker yelled.
Rainbow Dash looked solemn, thoughtful…then looked at Checker. "…No…no it doesn't change what I did, does it?…But you know what? I had to choose between my best friends and Cloudsdale, and I made a bad choice because there wasn't a right one," she stated, looking up as she got to her hooves. "I had to choose between two things I'm loyal to, two things that mean the world to me, and I had no choice. Discord won no matter what I did. And if I was in the position again, I'm not sure what I'd do…but I know if I have a choice, I'll always try to save both! If not…I'd just have to make the choice I think is right and hope it's the right one." Rainbow Dash turned and bucked the tornado, scattering it and producing a clear sky. The Pegasus chuckled. "I think that's my personal best for clearing the sky!"
Checker took a fighting pose. "Well you won't beat me!"
Rainbow looked down at what they were standing on, then back at Checker. "Don't have to," she said, with a smirk, imagining simple physics taking over. "You're not a Pegasus."
Checker's eyes widened. "…Not again…" she muttered, before screaming as she went plummeting through the clouds and the dream shattered.
Fluttershy's birds landed on her and Angel set next to her, looking genuinely worried about her. He produced a brush and just gently started brushing her hair, like he did when she was heartbroken over the tornado.
"Coward!" the six ponies surrounding Fluttershy chanted over and over again.
"I know I get scared…" Fluttershy muttered, crying her eyes out and color slowly graying out. "But…please…please don't leave me…I…I always do everything I can to help you…I really try…" she muttered, lowering her head.
Rarity gave a cold smirk. "Checkmate…" she said to herself with a cold chuckle.
Fluttershy sobbed…then gave a small gasp, feeling a tug on her hair. She felt like someone was brushing it…she felt like someone was there…someone who cared about her. Her animals? Angel? Whatever it was…it helped her think. "Wait…" she muttered, something occurring to her. She got back to her hooves with her fur returning to normal. "I always do my best! And you said that's all that mattered!"
The others turned around and looked at her in shock. "What?"
"When I was weak during the tornado, it was Twilight and Rainbow Dash who kept saying it didn't matter," Fluttershy said, narrowing her eyes. "My friends accept me for who I am."
"B-but you're weak and helpless! A coward!"
"I know I'm a coward, I know I'm weak and helpless on my own, and so do they…"
Rarity took a couple trots back. "You…you mean you don't deny it's true?! You're not supposed to already accept your flaws!"
"I don't, but they and I both know that when I'm protecting them, I'm brave…" Fluttershy said, noticing Rarity's eyes, recognizing them. She then gave 'Rarity' an intense glare. The Stare, causing 'Rarity' to freeze and stagger back. "You're not Rarity!"
'Rarity' shed her disguise to reveal Checker, who glared back as intensely as possible, the two glares colliding. "You won't beat me you little coward!"
"I may get scared easy, but right now, you're hurting my friends too, aren't you?!" Fluttershy yelled, narrowing her eyes further and intensifying her glare. "And I'm more afraid of my friends being hurt than I am of you!"
Checker began to sweat and backpedaled. "This…this isn't possible!" she shook her head and jumped at Fluttershy, who turned into a swarm of pink and yellow butterflies, reforming after dodging Checker.
"I'm warning you, let me go help my friends," Fluttershy said, dead serious as she glared at Checker.
Checker snarled and leapt at her again, this time Fluttershy shrunk down, literally, and Checker came to a landing behind her as Fluttershy finished transforming.
"I warned you."
Checker turned around to face her.
"Now get out of my way! You! Will! Not! Hurt! My! FRIENDS!" Fluttershy yelled at the top of her lungs, now a cream colored skunk with pink stripes that sprayed Checker right in the face, sending her staggering back coughing and gagging. Checker then gave a scream as she backed off the stage and fell, shattering the dream.
Applebloom hugged her sister, Big Mac climbing up on stage from the crowd, helping Granny Smith up and both rushing to Applejack's side. "Come on, sis…you're tougher than she is! You're the toughest there is! No way you're gonna let somepony like Checker beat yah!" Applebloom pleaded, tears in her eyes. "Right, Big Macintosh?"
The eldest Apple sibling put a hoof on AJ's shoulder. "Eeyup."
Applejack hung onto Big Macintosh's leg, tears running down her face. "Please, Big Mac! Applebloom! Don't! Ah…Ah can't lose mah family! N-not again!" the mare yelled, before she was kicked in the face and knocked to the ground. She laid there, covering her face with her hat as her colors began to gray. "Ah…Ah can't believe this is happenin'…it don't make any sense…it…"
Applebloom looked back with an icy smirk. "Checkmate…"
Applejack became even more gray…
"Come on, sis…you're tougher than she is! You're the toughest there is! No way you're gonna let somepony like Checker beat yah! Right, Big Macintosh?"
…before she felt someone hugging her. She looked up at her 'family' and felt nothing from them…but she still felt her family…just from a different place…. "Now wait a cotton pickin' minute!"
Applejack got back to her hooves, color returning as she gave a smile. "This can't happen! Yah know why? Because this almost happened before! We didn't go disownin' Granny Smith for gettin' us in that mess with the Flim Flam Brothers!" she yelled, causing Big Macintosh and Applebloom to turn back at her in shock. "The Apple Family is tight knit! We ain't splittin' up!"
Applejack looked at Applebloom, lookin' her in the eyes. But she still couldn't influence her dream for some reason. "And them ain't the eyes of mah little sister! Ah'm ashamed Ah didn't see it before!"
'Applebloom' growled, transforming into Checker. "You still failed your family! You're still ignorant!"
Applejack staggered back. "No…Ah never let mah family down! And Ah ain't dumb! That ain't true!"
Checker gave a psychotic laugh. "Not true? I pulled it right from your own mind. How can it not be true when it comes from yourself? Face it, what I was saying was merely your shadow, I was just giving it a voice. You cannot deny it, these things are merely what you know is true about yourself! Nothing more!"
The apple trees around them morphed into ones similar to Nightmare Moon's illusions and binded Applejack with vines and slammed her into a fence.
"Go on! You were saying?! That isn't you?! Say that all you want! You know it's true!"
Applejack looked down sadly…then gave a serious look. "…Yer right, Ah have failed 'em. Ah haven't always don't what's right, sometimes mah pride has gotten in the way…And Ah did leave Manehatten before Ah could learn book smarts like Aunt and Uncle Orange wanted me ta…But yah know what? Every single time, mah family has always had mah back! They've always cared about me more than the mess up! When Ah failed at the rodeo, all they wanted was meh home! So long as Ah try mah hardest, Ah ain't lettin' 'em down!" Applejack ripped herself free and got back to her hooves. "And yeah, Ah ain't the smartest pony. Sometimes Ah really wish Ah was, but Ah can still learn some of that stuff…Ah just gotta be less stubborn and ask for help doin' it."
Checker gasped. "What?! All of you…it's not possible!"
"Oh, it's possible, yah old nag! Now get out of mah head! Ah got more important things to do!" Applejack yelled, glaring. "Now, Ah know Ah could do some big fancy thing, but Ah'm not an imaginative pony," the farmer explained, before running up and bucking her right in the face, sending her flying. "So Ah'll just do it the old fashion way," Applejack said with a smirk, the dream shattering.
Shining Armor looked to the conflicted Spike, who was practically having a nervous breakdown trying to choose rather to help Rarity or Twilight. "…Spike…go help Rarity, I've got Twilight."
Spike blinked, looking at Shining Armor. "You sure?"
Shining Armor nodded. "Yeah, go."
Sweetie Belle hugged her sister. "Rarity! You have to win! You're my big sister!…And I know sometimes I get on your nerves, but I love you, sis…I don't know what I'd do without you."
Spike came over, putting a claw on Rarity's shoulder. "Rarity, you can kick that witch's tail! I know you can!"
"No…I'm not greedy…I'm…" Rarity muttered, shaking her head with tears in her eyes as her coat dulled. "Please…this doesn't make any sense…my friends…why would they…" she muttered…
Twilight smirked coldly as she walked. "Checkmate…"
"Rarity! You have to win! You're my big sister!…And I know sometimes I get on your nerves, but I love you, sis…I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Rarity, you can kick that witch's tail! I know you can!"
Rarity felt someone hug her, and a claw on her shoulder. She couldn't see anyone…but she could tell they were there. Sweetie Belle…Spike…And that brought something else to her mind. "Wait…"
Rarity's coat returned to it's proper color. She grabbed Twilight with telekinesis and pulled her back. She'd tried to alter the dream to bring her to face her, but found herself unable too. "My real friends would never abandon me for being greedy! Twilight is the one who saw I was fit to hold Generosity!" she yelled, looking in Twilight's eyes, recognizing them. "You're not Twilight, are you?"
'Twilight', growled, head butting Rarity and knocking her back. Her disguise shattered, revealing Checker underneath it. "Your friends may refuse to see it, but you're still greedy! You still let temptation get the better of you!"
Rarity cringed and shook her head. "No…I'm not greedy! Discord…he brainwashed me! That isn't the truth!"
Checker gave a laugh in response. "Not true? I pulled it right from your own mind. How can it not be true when it comes from yourself? Face it, what I was saying was merely your shadow, I was just giving it a voice. You cannot deny it, these things are merely what you know is true about yourself! Nothing more!"
The sewing machines came to life, sending fabric out to grab Rarity and slowly drag her towards the needles.
"Go ahead! Say you're not greedy! Say it's all a lie! Clearly a part of you thinks otherwise or I wouldn't have dug it up at all!"
Rarity struggled, trying to escape…but she just couldn't alter anything…she then looked thoughtful. "…You're right…I am greedy…I did crumble under Discord's temptation…I want things, because when I was young, I had so little…But my friends know that! My little sister accepts that! They accept that I can be greedy sometimes! But they're the ones who remind me that I can be generous! Even if it bit me in the flank, it makes me happy to help someone less fortunate than I am!" she exclaimed, breaking free of her bonds and glaring daggers at the mare. "But you wouldn't know that, would you Checker? Because you care so little about everypony else you'd ruin your own sister just because you're jealous of her!"
"That's because everypony are just pawns for me to control!" Checker yelled, jumping at Rarity with a snarl.
"HIYA!" yelled Rarity, falling back and planting her hind legs into Checker's gut and propelling her out the window. She'd been tempted to imagine a prince charming to do that, but had always hated being the damsel in distress.
"Twili…" Shining Armor muttered, tears forming in his eyes as he watched his little sister become more and more gray. "Twili, you can beat her…please, I know you can…I believe in you…I always have…"
Twilight ran to each of her friends, desperately trying to use the Memory Spell, but it didn't work, and Pinkie kicked her, knocking her on her back.
Twilight's fur began to gray as she staggered away from her corrupted friends and Discord, shaking her head with tears streaming down her face. "No…this…this can't be happening…" she muttered, feeling crushed by the weight. "Not again…please…anything but this…" she said, shaking her head.
"Face it, Twilight Sparkle, you are all alone. You have always been alone. But that is how it is when you rely on something as weak as friendship," Discord taunted, laughing with a smirk. "Maybe you should just head back to magic kindergarten," he said, putting a dunce cap on her head.
Twilight kept trotting backwards to the edge of the stage, looking around desperately, trying to figure what to do. The gray almost reached her head…
"Twili, you can beat her…please, I know you can…I believe in you…I always have…"
…when she felt something. She opened her eyes and briefly saw nothing…but felt something, someone's presence…Shining Armor?…and then it hit her.
"Wait a minute…" said Twilight, narrowing her eyes. "Where's my brother?"
Discord blinked, blinking. "B-brother?"
Twilight's fur returned to normal. "My brother was here when that flash went off, but now he's not. And you know one thing I know Discord would do if he had the opportunity? Hurt my brother right in front of me. That's the kind of game Discord would play. In fact, you know what? There's no game here."
"Discord was ALL about his games! He wouldn't just show up and brainwash all my friends! He'd make a game of it!" Twilight replied. "And the real Discord would know I had a brother, because he somehow knew everything about the six of us! But you wouldn't know that, would you? Because you're NOT Discord!"
Discord snarled, his head morphing into that of Checker, though retaining the horns. "Why aren't any of you playing along?! You're supposed to be crushed!"
Twilight smirked. "Because your sister taught us your grandmothers dream trick, all six of us."
"B-but that shouldn't matter! You shouldn't be able to use it! Not with what I'm hitting you with!"
"I can't speak for the others, but me? Discord already did this to me once, Checker, and in the end all it took was a reminder of what my bonds meant to me to beat it. Just like all it took was remembering my bond with my brother to realize Discord would've used that against me."
Twilight smirked. "Well guess what? We fought the real Discord, and you're no Discord," she said, suddenly in full wizard garb before blasting Checker with a powerful spell, shattering the dream.
Six Checkers were thrown into a black void, colliding and melding back into one.
"That's better!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, flying down and smiling.
"Darn tootin'," Applejack exclaimed, trotting up.
"Oh thank Celestia everypony is alright!" Fluttershy cried out, flying down to her friends.
"Quite right," Rarity added, trotting up.
"Good, everypony made it past Checker's games," Twilight stated, trotting up with a relieved expression. She then blinked. "Wait…where's Pinkie?"
"Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" yelled Pinkie, falling from the sky, imagining a bouncy house that she landed on and bounced out. "Hey everypony! You're all here!"
The six all hugged each other. "Alright…so what the hay is going on here?" asked Rainbow, confused. "How is she doing this?"
Twilight narrowed her eyes at Checker. "She's using a dream infiltration spell on all of us. Aren't you, Checker?"
Checker gasped. "How did you…"
"I suspected it when I read about it and recognized your eyes from my nightmare. Let me guess, that spell you used before you dragged us in here was to scan for our insecurities, our fears, the things that hurt us deepest. But you NEED our imaginations to fill in the blanks, don't you? It's probably a spell that came with your special talent, but like you're doing with this dream infiltration spell, you supercharged it so you could find out all of our insecurities at once," Twilight replied, glaring at her. "You introduce our fears, but you can't read our minds, you can only see the things that we're afraid of, you needed our brains to do the rest. You couldn't make me see Shining Armor being Discorded because neither of us knew what Discord did to him."
Applejack snarled. "Well it's over, yah snake! We're gettin' out of here!"
"Like I will let you," Checker stated, rising up, looking calm and collected. "You six do not understand, do you?" she asked, lumps forming on her back under her clothing. "In this world, I am not any mare. I am the queen here. I am invincible," she stated, two huge wings erupting from her back as her proportions grew to that of an Alicorn and her mane turned into blood red energy. "I am the alicorn. And you are just the pitiful mortal ponies."
Pinkie gave a yawn. "That's our final boss? Really?"
Rarity smirked. "It's hard to be intimidated by a fake Alicorn, when you've dealt with the real thing," she said. "We're the ones who beat Nightmare Moon and Discord. You didn't know that, did you?" she asked, Checker's face saying that much.
"Oh come on!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, annoyed. "Why don't ponies remember we saved the bucking world!…Twice!"
"Probably because we don't wave it around like a flag," said Rarity. "Most of Ponyville knows, they just respect our wishes for a normal life…I suppose the most arrogant of the elites don't bother to keep track of things that don't directly affect them."
Twilight looked at Checker. "Facing our inner demons? It hurts, and it's broken us before, it's hard to overcome them. But stopping people like you? That part is easy, so long as we have each other."
They concentrated and six dots of light manifested above their heads, descending and transforming into their Elements of Harmony.
"Impossible!" Checker, taking a few trots backwards.
"That's why people like you, Discord, and Chrysalis always try to split us up, isn't it?" asked Rainbow Dash, her Element of Loyalty activating.
"Because you know how strong we really are!" Rarity announced, Element of Generosity lighting up.
"Because you know as long as we're together…" Fluttershy continued, Element of Kindness likewise activating.
"We ain't gonna lose!" Applejack chimed in as the Element of Honesty ignited.
"So you break us up because you're afraid of us!" Pinkie Pie added, Laughter joining its fellows. "Which is silly, why don't you try being our friends instead?"
"No! No!" Checker exclaimed, staggering back in shock. She then growled and opened fire on them with a beam from her horn, only for a dream manifestation of Shining Armor to block it with a magical shield. She suddenly had a whip wrap tight around her wings and chest, pinning them down. She looked to find the whip in the mouth of Daring Doo as dream versions of Big Macintosh and Applebloom throwing a rope around her and pulling it tight. A stallion fitting every depiction of a 'Prince Charming' character from stories joined them…with Spike on his back in a knight's outfit, who threw a rope around her horn and pulled it taut, followed by a darker furred, straight haired version of Pinkie using party ribbons, Fluttershy's animals assisting her. Finally, Shining Armor put a barrier around her to hold her in place.
"Thanks Pinkamena!" Pinkie called, waving. The darker furred Pinkie waved back.
"You're afraid of us, because you know what we do!" Twilight added, Magic finally joining the others as they floated into the air, magic forming around them. "Friendship is magic!"
With a colorful shockwave, a Rainbow burst forth from the six, flying through the air and arching down at Checker.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Checker yelled as the rainbow washed over her and the world vanished in a flash of light.
Shining Armor gasped, watching Twilight settle and her fur return to its normal color, as did the other six. "They must be winning!" he said, giving a smile.
Helping Hoof looked down at Trixie, who, while not graying, was in a cold sweat, twisting and turning in complete panic. He could feel her heart racing, her breathing becoming erratic. If she didn't turn things around soon, she could have a heart attack.
"Trixie…" Helping Hoof started crying. "This is all my fault…if…if I'd just stopped Checker sooner, maybe none of this would have happened…"
"Stop blaming yourself for something you're not responsible for."
Helping Hoof gasped, looking over to see Helena heading up the stage. The guards tried to stop her. "Miss, please stay back, this is a dangerous sit-"
Helena shot the guard a glare only a parent, or grandparent, who's child was in danger could manage. "Yes, and my granddaughters are in the thick of it. I kindly request you allow me through so I may help her," she stated, not an ounce of malice in her voice.
The guards gulped. They looked to Shining Armor, who after a moment of thinking nodded. "Sorry miss, our mistake."
Helena thanked them and walked past, over to Trixie and Helping Hoof. "From the looks of things, you're the only one who stopped Checker at all, so don't go blaming yourself for her doing."
Helena sighed sadly. "My granddaughter…and I still love her…but I'd be a blind mare not to see she's gone too far and has to be stopped…I tried to protect them every way I could…but I couldn't protect Checker from herself."
Helena laid down next to Trixie. "Now come on, lets get Trixie through this, both of us."
Helping Hoof nodded slowly and looked down at Trixie. "Trixie, I know you're strong! Don't let Checker rule you a minute longer! You're stronger than she is!"
Helena nodded and hugged her granddaughter, showing considerable strength just to restrain the panicked mare. "Trixie…Trixie, I've known you since you were a filly. You're stronger than Checker, because you're not afraid to listen to your heart. You've got your friends, you have me. We're behind you all the way."
Trixie panted, hiding behind a building, hearing the crashing and footfalls all around, trembling in absolute terror. She was having trouble breathing and was in a cold sweat. "I know it's a dream…So why can't I change anything?"
Checker let out a demented laugh, stomping through Sugar Cube Corner. "You want to know why?! Because you're a weakling! A coward!" Checker yelled, losing any degree of restraint and refinement. "You've always been weak! Remember when we were kids?! All the times you got in trouble and didn't know why?! All the times everything was going so right and it went wrong so suddenly?! That was all me! And you knew it, didn't you?! But what happened every time you tried to stop me?! You failed! Those last two times were just flukes! You're not strong enough to beat me! And you know why?! Because I'm strong and you're weak! I'm big and you're small! I'm right and you're wrong! And that's how it always will be!"
Trixie continued trembling, then covered her mouth to muffle a scream as a claw tore through the wall nearby. Checker, thankfully started searching elsewhere, giving her a moment to breathe. "She's right…" she muttered. "I'm a coward…I'm…I'm afraid…I…I am weak…I can't beat her…"
"Trixie! Don't give up! And don't ever call yourself weak!"
Trixie blinked. "Rainbow Dash?"
"Trixie! We know you can beat her! Don't quit!" Twilight's voice called.
"They're right! Yah can kick that mare's flank! Kick her out of yer head!" Applejack chimed in.
"You helped us conquer our nightmares, Trixie, we know you can do the same!" Rarity cheered.
"Trixie…oh…Um…go Trixie…I really do believe in you…I'm just not good at cheering…"
"Go Trixie! Go Trixie! You can do it!" Pinkie's excitable voice chanted, sounding like a cheerleader.
Trixie gasped. "Everypony…they're cheering for me… I can hear them…"
"Actually, we're right here," said Twilight's voice.
Trixie jumped slightly as she found her friends around her. "How…how did you…"
"Checker drug us into her dream world too, but we broke out of our nightmares," Applejack explained, Pinkie Pie was in a cheerleader's outfit with pompoms she somehow held in her hooves.
"But for some reason, our Elements aren't showing up when I try to imagine them," Rainbow Dash complained, concentrating hard.
"Because the Checker we've been fighting wasn't the real one," Twilight explained with a realization, sounding grim.
"Um…darling, please elaborate," Rarity replied, cringing as Checker demolished another building, too close for comfort.
"Trixie! Where are you?! Come out come out wherever you are!" The raging beast called with a bout of insane laughter.
"Checker divided her attention between the seven of us, but it seems most of her attention was on Trixie. We beat a part of her, probably an important part, but the rest was here," Twilight explained. "Now that we're where Checker really is, she's too experienced at manipulating dreams for us to overpower enough to take control…Trixie is the only one that can do that."
"Trixie! Are you having fun?! I know I am!" Checker bellowed giving a ferocious roar that sent Trixie hiding under a piece of rubble.
"I c-can't!" Trixie stuttered, trembling in fear.
"Trixie what-" Twilight gasped as it hit her. "…You're afraid of Ursas, aren't you?"
"What?! No, Trixie isn't…she isn't afraid…" Trixie said, not sounding convinced.
"Trixie, the more you reject it, the stronger you're going to make her. She gets more powerful the more your mental state is affected. Are you or are you not afraid of Ursas? Be honest with yourself!"
Trixie hesitated for a moment before nodding. "Y-yes…I'm afraid…"
"Trixie, you're the only one here who's as experienced with dream manipulation as Checker is. If you don't stop her, there's no telling what might happen if her horn breaks from the stress she's putting on it and the spell is interrupted suddenly. We could be trapped in a dream forever, or worse," Twilight replied, hating putting this pressure on her, but knowing there was no other choice. She put a hoof on Trixie's shoulder. "Trixie…we've all got your back…We know you can stop her."
"B-but…" Trixie started, letting out a shout as a crash founded closer. "I can't! I'm too scared!" she exclaimed, practically cowering into a ball, hyperventilating.
Fluttershy put her hoof on Trixie's shoulder. "Trixie…being brave isn't not being scared…its doing what you're afraid to do…"
Trixie gasped, looking her friends over as they all stepped forwards and put a hoof on her shoulder or back in support.
"And Trixie, darling…we're not the only ones behind you…our loved ones are all cheering us on…" Rarity added. "If you listen closely, maybe you can hear yours."
Trixie blinked, then closed her eyes and concentrated.
"Trixie, I know you're strong! Don't let Checker rule you a minute longer! You're stronger than she is!"
"Helping Hoof…" Trixie gasped, listening. She could feel him…like he was right there with her.
Trixie gasped. "G-grandmother?"
"Trixie, I've known you since you were a filly. You're stronger than Checker, because you're not afraid to listen to your heart. You've got your friends, you have me. We're behind you all the way."
Trixie gasped. "They're here…you'll all here…"
"Darn tootin', now give that mare what for, got it?" asked Applejack, giving a smile, the others nodding…while Pinkie did a cheerleading routine.
Checker laughed, ripping the building off it's foundations to reveal Trixie and her friends. "There you are Trixie! And your little friends too! What a wonderful surprise!" she screamed, giving a psychotic laugh. "I've enjoyed this little game of hide and seek, but now you're mine!"
"No…" said Trixie, looking up at her. Trixie's new costume manifested on her and she launched up, floating in the air and glaring daggers at her insane sister. "No! Trixie is not yours! Trixie is her own mare!"
Checker gasped, staggering back, crushing several houses as she did so. "What?! But you're supposed to be afraid!"
Trixie smirked. "Trixie is afraid of Ursas, Checker. Trixie is terrified of Ursas. But Trixie is MORE afraid about seeing her loved ones suffer! She's done being afraid of you! And she most certainly is done being ALONE! Trixie's friends…our grandmother…They all believe in Trixie! And because of that, Trixie believes in herself!"
"Go get her Trix!" yelled Rainbow Dash as Twilight teleported the group to a safe distance to watch.
Checker snarled ferally, swinging her claw at Trixie, only to be nimbly evaded. "Hold still!"
Trixie got back to a safe distance. "Ever heard the story of how the evil Grogar was defeated, sister?" Trixie asked. "A magical bell's ringing destroyed his power."
A massive ancient bell manifested behind Trixie and she bucked it as hard as she could. Checker roared in pain, covering her ears tightly and staggering back. "You may not be Grogar, but an Ursa's ears are sensitive."
Checker roared, slashing and smashing the bell, but Trixie evaded. "Stop moving!"
Checker chased Trixie, biting and clawing at her, demolishing everything in her path but failing to catch her sister.
"Checker, would you say you hate Trixie?"
Checker snarled. "Yes! I hate you! Do you think I'd be doing this if I LIKED you!" she roared, slashing at Trixie, who evaded nimbly.
"Well, that's quite unfortunate. Do you remember the Hearth's Warming Eve story?" Trixie asked as Checker raised a massive paw to slash at her. A white spectral horse manifested and circled Checker, phasing through her claw and freezing it solid before she could swipe. "It speaks of winter spirits called Windigos which feed on hatred, trapping those in it's grip in ice."
Checker roared, ice forming around her body and trapping her in ice. However, her great strength began to break it. Cracks began to spread out across the dream world from the massive ice statue.
Twilight gasped. "Oh no! The dream world is breaking apart! Her horn must be close to breaking!"
Trixie teleported in front of the group. "Then shall we end this story?" Trixie asked, smiling to her friends.
"You should do the honors," Rarity replied. "We'll back you up."
Trixie nodded, turning to face Checker, the others standing behind her and concentrating along with her.
"And of course, when the citizens of Dream Valley needed to vanquish the vile Tirek, only, one thing could defeat his dark power!" Trixie announced, a light appearing above the seven ponies and descending into Trixie's hooves. A red heart shaped locket manifested, hanging from its chain around her hoof. "The Rainbow of Light!"
Checker smashed her way free, roaring in rage, eyes completely animalistic.
The six put a hoof on Trixie's shoulder or back in support and glared at Checker.
"Checker!" Trixie exclaimed as she opened the locket, releasing a tiny glowing rainbow.
"Game over!" yelled all seven as the rainbow grew into a massive one that twisted and wrapped around Checker before triggering a massive explosion of light. It twirled around and grasped her, pulling her high into the sky were another brilliant explosion caused the dream to vanish into white./i
Checker let out a cry of pain, falling backwards to the ground as Trixie's eyes opened.
The others all awakened as well, hugging their worried families happily. They then saw Trixie and rushed over to her, giving her a hug as well. "You did it, Trixie!" Twilight cheered, smiling widely.
"That was some real good thinkin' with the Rainbow of Light," said Applejack, patting her on the back.
"You were awesome Trix!" Rainbow Dash chimed in.
"And you did it wearing the costume I made you, quite stylish," Rarity said, giving the mare a smile.
Pinkie was somehow in her cheerleader uniform and doing cheers. "Trixie! Trixie! Go! Trixie!" The CMC quickly joined her, though didn't have uniforms.
"Yay…" Fluttershy 'cheered', getting a few chuckles, including from herself.
Trixie then turned to Helping Hoof, who was standing next to her. "Thank you, Helping Hoof…" she said, giving him a hug. "And…Trixie forgives you…"
Helping Hoof looked shocked, then gave a smile. "…Thank you, Trixie."
Checker snarled, getting to her hooves and trying to power up her horn again, only for a small explosion of magic to go off in it, causing her to cry out in pain and stagger back, several cracks running through her horn that crackled with magic. She snarled like a wild animal and lowered her horn and charged Trixie and Helping Hoof head on. Trixie turned, seeing it coming, and she and Helping Hoof vanished in a fireworks explosion.
Checker ran through it and drove her horn deeply into a support beam, causing herself to become stuck.
Trixie and Helping Hoof reappeared in the same spot they both vanished from. Trixie staggered a little, still drained. She felt tired all over. She collapsed, but found herself supported by somepony. She looked up to find Helena smiling down at her.
"G-grandmother?" asked Trixie, tears welling up in her eyes as she looked at her grandmother. She hugged her grandmother, and was hugged back. "Grandmother…what are you doing here? Trixie…I am so glad to see you! But why are you here?"
"I got your letter, sweetie," said Helena, smiling down to the younger unicorn. "And I came to tell you my answer in person, getting caught up in the fight was just coincidence," she explained, then looked down at Trixie and kissed her forehead. "And I forgive you…I'll always love my granddaughter…" she answered, giving a smile and hugged Trixie again.
"Aww! That's so sweet!" said Fluttershy, smiling. Even Rainbow Dash seemed to find it touching.
Helena then sighed, looking at Checker. "…Both of them…even if I can be very disappointed in them…"
Shining Armor and the guards helped pull Checker out of the beam. "Checker Monarch, you're under arrest," he replied, putting cuffs on her front legs.
Checker was loaded in to a chariot with a closed top and a barrier between the driver and the backseat to protect the driver. The mare kept her head lowered, snarling with rage but generally looking absolutely defeated.
Helping Hoof was walked up to the passengers side door with cuffs on him as well. Both had small devices on their horns to block magic, primarily in Checker's case to keep her from hurting herself if she tried to use magic again.
Trixie looked to Helping Hoof, a conflicted expression on her face. "Helping Hoof…you don't have to do this, you helped stop Checker, Trixie is sure the Princess would give you a pardon."
Helping Hoof shook his head. "No…I've helped Checker do so many awful things…I need to pay for it as well…I will testify against her, but…I deserve to be punished."
"No," said Trixie, simply. "You deserve to atone for what you've done, Trixie understands…but atonement and punishment are not the same thing, don't forget that."
Helping Hoof gave a smile. "I'll remember that…Thank you, Trixie…maybe we can be friends after-" Helping Hoof was interrupted as Trixie hugged him.
"We are friends…"
Helping Hoof gave a smile. "Thank you Trixie…"
He then gasped. "Wait! The chauffeurs, what happened to them?! They knew everything Checker was doing! And had less compulsion than I did!"
"Don't worry about them," said Helena trotting up with a smile. "I took care of them."
"You had to open your big mouth…" said one of them, the three now all tied up with their own flight harness, hanging upside down from a tree as the guards came to get them down.
"How was I supposed to know their grandmother was listening!" exclaimed another one.
"You don't mess with someone's grandkids," said Helena with a smile…which then faded as she looked at the police chariot.
Helena walked over, looking at Checker with sad, disappointed eyes. "Checker…" she said with a sigh, the insidious mare merely snarling like an animal. "I love you, Checker. I always will…But this was the choice you made…I tried to help you…but every time someone offered you help, you turned them down…I can't help you anymore…I'm sorry…" she said, and turned away, a tear running down her cheek.
Checker snarled. "Love is for the weak," she stated with a glare. "I don't need it."
Trixie then walked up, giving her sister a glare. "Checker…a part of Trixie wants to say you've done nothing but hurt Trixie since the day she was born, tried to ruin her friends lives, and generally were the worst sister ever! And you've made your bed, now lay in it you monster!" she yelled in a rather dramatic fashion, causing Checker to give a smirk. "But then Trixie would still be a slave to you…so instead, what Trixie is going to say is this; Trixie is done. She's done hating you. She's done letting you control her. She's done…I forgive you, Checker, and this shall be the last we see of each other."
Checker startled as Trixie walked away…then snarled. "Come back here! You're not supposed to forgive me! You can't be done with me! I made you! I'm the one who controls you! Come back here!"
Trixie slowly stopped, looking to her friends. She then turned, a genuine smile on her face. "Checker...one more thing..."
Checker glared at her.
"...Trixie was wrong, there is good you've done for her...While you hurt Trixie so much, caused her so much pain...in the end, if you'd never done it, Trixie wouldn't be the mare she was today. She wouldn't have the friends she has now, or ever have seen them at all...For that, Trixie thanks you..." the showmare finished, her voice completely genuine.
"T-thank me?!" Checker stuttered, complete and utter shock on her face as Trixie walked away. "You can't thank me! Hate me! Fear me! I tried to ruin you! You can't like me! That's not how it works!"
Helping Hoof looked back from the front seat. "Checker, you do realize that you could have just made up a story to cover yourself to the audience instead of TRAPPING seven mares inside a nightmare, correct? Just that stunt alone just incriminated you completely, not to mention you revealed your highly illegal dream infiltration spell to the Royal Guards.
Checker miserably beat her head against the glass separating her from the front seat.
Helping Hoof simply chuckled.
Diamond Tiara watched with her parents from the dwindling crowd as all this transpired, looking genuinely scared. She looked up to her father, and mother. "Mom…daddy…" she said, getting them to look at her.
"Yes, princess?" asked her mother, looking down at her lovingly.
"…I just wanted to say I love you both…"
Dear Princess Celestia;
I've learned a valuable lesson…one of the most valuable I've ever learned.
Trixie lowered food down to Fluttershy's animals telekinetically, Fluttershy offering help when the unicorn got confused. It was accepted.
It doesn't make you weak to accept help when you need it, in fact, it makes you weaker if you don't.
Trixie carefully sewed patches onto dresses in Rarity's shop. Spike tapped her shoulder and pointed to her mane, which laid on the cloth. Trixie smiled and floated it back behind her head with telekinesis.
If you're not willing to accept help, then when you encounter something that is too much for you to handle on your own, you'll find yourself too weak to handle it. There's no shame in asking your friends to help you.
Trixie accompanied Applejack to Canterlot, standing by her friend and subtly giving her tips on presenting her apples with an air of refinement.
Even though Applejack tried her hardest to maintain her Manehatten accent, she broke down halfway through the presentation. To her surprise, that actually seemed to make her more popular.
And what's more, friends are wonderful things…When you're lost in darkness, a real friend will light the way…sometimes a friend has to say things that hurt, because they're things you need to hear.
Blueblood approached Applejack, a look of guilt on his face, seeming quite timid in contrast to his normal personality. He offered an apology for how he'd acted towards her at the Gala…it wasn't very prince-like of him. She accepted it.
Friendship is magic. It is the bond that holds ponies together. And all it can do is make you stronger. And it can defrost a cold heart…
The Diamond Dogs performed community service in Ponyville to make up for helping Checker…under threat of whining by Rarity if they refused.
Meanwhile, Trixie met Spike's new pet Phoenix, obtained while she and Applejack were in Canterlot in an epic adventure Trixie was presently being told about. Snips and Snails slowly approached her and looked up at her remorsefully, not sure what to say. She looked down at them and smiled, giving a nod and being hugged.
But only if you let it…no pony can be saved unless they want to be…
Helping Hoof, in a prison wearing appropriate garb, finished writing a letter and sending it to Trixie, then went over to an inmate learning program, his class being in theater.
Rarity loaded a mine cart full of gems with Spike's help while the Diamond Dogs took another mine cart with the exact same amount back down into their caves with a wave.
But I know I wanted to be saved, and I was.
Trixie baked apple pies at Sugar Cube Corner. Pinkie Pie helped her whenever needed.
And I know I wouldn't trade my friends for anything.
Helping Hoof stepped off a carriage and was greeted by the whole group, Pinkie Pie having somehow set up a party for him in the minutes it took him to disembark.
Trixie trotted up, smiling to him. He smiled back, then turned, causing Trixie to gasp when she saw his flank, seeing a theater curtain Cutie Mark. She looked up at him in shock, then hugged him, followed by a group hug with the rest.
Trixie Lulamoon Midsummer.
Six Months Later
"Trixie cannot believe they opened a theater in Ponyville, whoever convinced them of that?" asked Trixie, sitting at a table at Sugar Cube Corner with the others, it decked out for a party in celebration, courtesy of Pinkie Pie. Derpy, Ditzy, Pipsqueak, Snips, Snails, and the CMC were all present as well, along with several friends Trixie had made in the intervening time including a green furred, red maned pegasus with a game controller cutie mark.
Rarity adverted her eyes. "I wouldn't know, darling," she replied, looking left and right.
Helena chuckled, sitting next to her granddaughter. "Well, regardless, I think we can all thank the princesses they did."
Helena didn't live in Ponyville, she merely visited Trixie often. Unsurprisingly, she and Pinkie Pie got along excellently.
Trixie nodded. "Yes, very much so," she replied. "Now Trixie and Helping…Trixie means Stage Hoof have stable jobs she enjoys," she continued. "Soon Trixie will be able to afford a house here in Ponyville."
Trixie still lived with Twilight, but a few months ago had bought her own bed so Twilight could have her own back. It certainly made things much more enjoyable. Stage Hoof, his new name after earning his Cutie Mark, lived in a small apartment in Ponyville at present, having been paid by Monarch Inc. not to press charges for Checker's mistreatment of him. Wasn't enough to buy a house, but enough to help him get back on his hooves.
The party was also to celebrate his new Cutie Mark.
"Glad you are finally doing something you love, both of you," said Twilight, smiling.
"Me too…my father didn't approve, but I don't care anymore…I'm tired of being his slave or anyone else's," Stage Hoof replied, giving a bittersweet look.
Trixie nodded, then looked serious. She floated up a smoothie. "Trixie would like to propose a toast," she said, everyone taking a glass in whatever manner their race could. "Without you girls…Trixie would still be a homeless mare in the streets of Canterlot, and under the hoof of her…psychotic sibling…" the showmare explained, her and Helena both looking a little sad as they thought about Checker. "…Trixie honestly wants to say…thank you, her friends, her grandmother, for all you've done…A toast to you all!"
They toasted glasses and drank.
Twilight smiled and looked at Trixie, thinking about all that had happened. How much Trixie had changed through all of this…She was now someone they were all proud of, Trixie herself included. She was finally getting back on her hooves.
And Twilight was happy to consider her a sister.
Dear Princess Celestia;
In the past few months, I've learned a valuable lesson. I won't say Trixie was an enemy, but she certainly wasn't a friend, nor were the Diamond Dogs and Helping Hoof…oops, I mean Stage Hoof. But eventually, through circumstances, we're now allies. It's amazing how much things have changed between us.
The lesson I've learned is this; the best way to defeat an enemy…is to make them your friend.
Your Faithful Student; Twilight Sparkle.
(Cue Live Again by Metajoker and Fragmentd)
(Thanks to Metajoker and Fragmentd for permission to use their song)
And we're done! Hope you enjoyed this ride! I know I had fun writing it!
For those wondering, Checker is locked up in a mental institution now. I just couldn't think of where to put it in the story.