Rebel Against the Night
Code Geass is owned by Sunrise, Inc. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is owned by Hasbro and created by Lauren Faust. This is a fan-based work not intended for commercial purposes. Character thoughts are italics.
Chapter 12: Anything You Can Do...
Meadow Prancer was sore from the long uphill trot from the palace to one of the mountains bordering Canterlot. The trip seemed to drag on forever because the path, a cobblestone road, made five loops around the mountain spiraling upwards. This would appear, at first glance, to be a pointless exercise in exercise except for the fact that the mountain peak was too steep to climb if not for the gentle slope of the cobblestone path. Meadow Prancer stopped and sat on a patch of grass growing in the spot where a stone dislodged from the road to rest her aching hooves. At the end of her journey was the entrance through an iron gate twenty feet high. Within its perimeter was the Wonderbolts' headquarters. Like most pegasi-centric architecture, balconies covered the main building from all sides, but it only had a single door for its front entrance for the occasional earth or unicorn pony.
Floating beside Meadow Prancer was a fresh batch of zap apple pie. Because it was out of season, it took a city-wide scavenger hunt and a bit of endurance to track down a store with a can of zap apple preserves. Back on Earth, Soarin' mentioned having a craving during a conversation about the lack of variety of fruit in that world. It was only fair to grant him a small luxury. Meadow Prancer then noticed dozens of winged shadows soaring along the ground. The young unicorn glanced up and saw a flock of Wonderbolts flying between her and the sun in the direction of their headquarters.
Meadow Prancer galloped from behind, occasionally teleporting to keep up. "Hey Soarin'! Over here!" Meadow Prancer called out. "Soarin'! It's me! Come on down." Some of the Wonderbolts glanced back at the mare for a moment before dismissing her. Then the one taking lead in the formation performed a vertical loop and glided down.
To Meadow Prancer's disappointment, it wasn't Soarin' but, rather, a mare with a spiky yellow and orange mane landing just a few feet away.
"You must be Captain Spitfire." Meadow Prancer extended a hoof, but the friendly gesture wasn't accepted. "I'm Meadow Prancer. We met last summer."
"Whadda you want." Spitfire grumbled.
Meadow Prancer frowned at Spitfire's rudeness. "To see Soarin'. I made him a zap apple pie."
"Just hoof it to me and I'll pass it along."
"If you don't mind, I'd rather give it to him myself."
"Actually, I do mind." Spitfire spat. "You've done more than enough *to* Soarin' already."
"What are you talking about...is this about the mission *Princess Celestia* assigned to us?"
"Don't hide behind the princess! I never liked you cloak and dagger ponies at the Ministry of Intelligence, and now I know my gut feeling was right, all along. Soarin' was one of the most cheerful ponies that I ever flew with. But after you got through with him, Soarin' become an emotional wreck. He doesn't talk to anypony, not like he used to. He shut himself from his teammates. And those scars on his cutie mark, it looks like somepony branded him. If this wasn't a secret mission, I'd pry apart those tight lips of yours and make you tell me what happened. You snuffed out the joy in Soarin's heart. That zap apple pie is an insulting gesture after what he's been through."
"Look, Captain Spitfire. I tried to watch out for Soarin'."
"Not from where I'm standing."
"It was just a recon mission, but he got emotionally involved and took unnecessary risks."
"That's a load of dragon droppings!" Spitfire snapped. "Soarin's been my wingpony for years. He's too laid back to take the initiative."
"Not this mission, he wasn't."
"Then tell me what happened."
"You know damn well I can't," Meadow Prancer stomped.
"Can't or won't."
Meadow Prancer was less than inch from Spitfire, both in each other's angry glare. "You're in the military," said Meadow Prancer. "You know full well not to question orders from Princess Celestia."
"There you go again-hiding behind the princess."
Meadow Prancer's horn started glowing. "I don't hide behind anypony, certainly from the likes of you."
"You're in the Ministry of Information. You should know better than to threaten a commissioned officer." Meadow Prancer stepped back, still fuming at Spitfire. "It doesn't matter whether or not you tell me. I've given Soarin' a few assignments away from the capital and, more importantly, away from you."
"On whose authority?!"
"My own! I'm captain of the Wonderbolts!"
"Soarin' is still reassigned as an operative for the Ministry of Intelligence."
"Then go run about to the princess and complain to her. It's all you're good for." Spitfire was satisfied that she shamed the unicorn into silence. Meadow Prancer left the zap apple pie on the ground as she trotted away.
"So, did you like it? Did you like the power I gave you?"
Trixie let out a long sigh. "Look...um...what was your name again?"
"C.C," said the white earth pony mare.
"Look, C.C., I know I said I'd grant your wish, and at the time, I thought I meant it, but..."
"Did you like your power or not?"
"I will admit that it was...useful. A mere glance was all it took to make Blueblood's summoning spell mine. It was as if I knew it my whole life."
"So, you're satisfied with the results."
"I am, but it's unfair to offer special powers without telling me the conditions."
"If that was a problem, you shouldn't have accepted the contract!"
"Well, I was emotionally vulnerable at the time." C.C. responded to Trixie's excuse with a groan. "It's not my fault that good-for-nothing prince was ruining my reputation."
"You're not talking your way out of our deal."
"You thug! What are you?! A loan shark?! Taking advantage of poor ponies at their most vulnerable! By the way, what was my end of the contract?"
"You don't even know what I want and you're already trying to worm your way out on our agreement."
"Very well, the Great and Powerful Trixie will grant your wish. Just give her time to earn enough money..."
"My wish can't be bought."
"Then what is it?"
C.C. gestured to Trixie to come inside. "Not out here."
Trixie stepped back wearing a disgusted look on her face. "The barn door of the Great and Powerful Trixie doesn't swing that way."
"It's not that either."
Trixie followed C.C. inside and closed the door behind her. "Now me what is your heart's desire so I may fulfill my end of the bargain."
"My wish is to die."
"Are you out of your little pony mind?!" Trixie shook her head. "Get somepony else to kill you or better yet, do it yourself."
"Could you at least let me explain why I wish to die?"
"I normally don't listen to sob stories, but I'll make an exception in your case." C.C. inched up to Trixie and leaned forward. "We're alone. You don't have to whisper." Trixie was caught off guard when C.C., in one movement, stood on her hind legs and forced Trixie's head down. The unicorn magician didn't have time to react when C.C. impaled herself on Trixie's own horn. One moment, she was leaning over to hear C.C.'s story. The next, warm blood was running down her cheeks.
"HELP!" Trixie cried out. "Somepony help!" She then clasped her mouth closed. I have blood all over me! They'll think I did it on purpose! Trixie raced to the tub praying that the motel staff left some clean water. Fortunately, room service was on its hooves that day. Trixie squirted half a bottle of liquid soap over a scrub brush and dipped her face into the tub. While she was washing off the remaining traces of blood, somepony was pounding on the door.
"What the hay is going on in there?" A stallion called out from the other side of the door. "Are you hurt?"
Sweet Celestia and Luna, don't let them lock me away!
"No, no one's hurt." Trixie dropped her scrub bush in the tub upon hearing C.C. talking to the stallion.
No, it couldn't be her. It just couldn't be. But it's her voice. Trixie wiped the soap suds around her eyes and galloped to the front room. Her ears did not deceive her. C.C., whose underside was bathed in crimson, was speaking to the concerned citizen standing outside.
"What was all that yelling? And who was that? It didn't sound like you."
"My roommate fell asleep waiting for me, and I startled her when I walked in."
"Then you won't mind somepony checking on her."
"He's suspicious," C.C. said quietly to Trixie. "Let him know you're not hurt."
"I'm perfectly fine. Uhhh...It was dark in my motel room, and I couldn't tell it was her."
"Oh sweet Celestia! I woke up for this manure!" The stallion stomped off back to his room and slammed the door to his motel room behind him.
"How?!" Trixie mumbled. "How are you still alive?"
"The same way I gave you powers. Now you understand the nature of my wish."
"So, let me guest this straight-I use this *Geass*, as you call it, until it's powerful enough to accept your code, and I become an immortal?" Trixie and C.C. trotted side-by-side pulling Trixie's show cart behind them.
"In the final stage of Geass, the user attains the position of the one who granted them the power. Right now, your Geass isn't strong enough, but, over time, it will be the more it's used, and when it's strong enough, you will gain the power to take my life. Of course, you'll lose your Geass in the process."
Trixie shuttered at the mention of killing, but she pushed her moral trepidations aside. She would be immortal after all, and it wasn't like C.C. didn't want this. In fact, this was the reason why she granted her Geass. It would be less like murder and more like euthanasia.
"Trixie, you're not getting squeamish on me?"
Trixie held her nose up. "Me? Squeamish? Ha! The Great and Powerful Trixie is all too happy to take immortality off your hooves. By the way, how would I know if my Geass is strong enough?"
"I'll let you know when the time comes."
"And why do you want to die anyway? Do you know how many ponies would give their right legs to be like you?"
"It's the natural order of existence. Life only has meaning if it's finite. Without death, all we have are random events. You can't call that being alive."
"In other words, you can't hack it."
C.C. frowned at Trixie. "Try being that cocky after living a few centuries. Can you stand in judgment of me because I'm seeking to end an unnatural existence?"
"You want me to take your immortality or not? The way you talk, I'm beginning to think you'll chicken out."
"The way I talk?!" Trixie nearly tripped when C.C. came to a sudden stop. "I'm the one getting scolded for giving up immortality. If anyone's dedication to the contract that should be questioned, it's yours."
"C.C., I'll take immortality over dying an old mare any day. In fact, I'm looking forward to eternity," Trixie said with a smug grin. "Though, I do wonder-how is it that an earth pony like you can use magic?"
"It's a long story. Maybe I tell you later."
"And how it is that you're immortal? You seem more like an alicorn to me."
"I don't know what an alicorn is."
"Did you say you never heard of an alicorn?" C.C. shook her head. "What backwater town of Equestria did you come from?" Trixie said contemptuously. "Alicorns are the most powerful of all ponies and have the traits of the three pony tribes. They're connected to the land like an earth pony, fly like a pegasus, and can perform magic like unicorns."
Once again, Trixie almost tripped over when C.C. came to an unexpected stop. "Wait! Does that mean they have wings *and* a horn?"
"Will you please warn me the next time you stop? Have you ever been in a wagon team before?"
"Were you born into wealth? Is that why you never learned to pull a cart?"
"Actually, I was born into poverty."
Trixie placed a hoof over her forehead. "I can't believe I need to school a grown mare on something so sophomoric. But to answer your question-yes, they have both wings and a horn. I said they have the traits of all three pony tribes didn't I? Why are you acting so surprised?"
"And why must you be so secretive?"
"I'm C.C. That's why."
"That's a terrible answer."
"The one who I last made a contract with would say the same thing."
"And what happened to him."
"The Great and Powerful Trixie will permit you to keep your secrets. She didn't feel like listening to your boring life story anyway."
The townsponies of Trottingham placed their daily routine to the side and indulge their curiosity for a two-pony circus act setting up shop in their town square. A stage burst forth from the wagon as a fireworks display burned just above.
Trixie emerged from a puff of smoke and stood on her back legs. "Gather everypony, one and all, and witness the Great and Powerful *and* Versatile Trixie. And accompanying the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie is the mysterious mare from the mysterious lands beyond the Everfree Forest, the enigmatic C.C." The immortal pony stood on the edge of the stage wearing a purple headdress with sapphire feathers radiating outward and a purple skirt and bloused adorned with cheap glass jewelry.
"How kitsch," C.C. deadpanned.
However, the crowds didn't share Trixie's enthusiasm. Their groans and boos were louder than the firework show.
"You're that wanker that made a laughingstock of herself in Ponyville," said an earth pony mare with a sandy yellow coat, a blue mane with bright yellow highlights, and a tightrope cutie mark.
"You're right, Sunny Beach," a pegasus mare with a mane and coat of fur of white with red blotches and a pencil and paper cutie mark said in agreement. "It's the same one that almost got a whole town eaten by an Ursa Minor."
"When that happened I was a mere shadow of my current self, but now the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie will have you so awestruck, her minor snafu will never cross your minds again." Trixie activated her Geass and scanned Sunny. Sunny Beach's very inner nature was laid bare before her. The muscles throughout Trixie's body twitched as though the mare's special talent came natural to her. "Now, what's your special talent, little hayseed? It wouldn't by any chance be...a feat of balance."
"Oh great wonders! You guessed my special talent by looking at cutie mark," Sunny said sarcastically. The rest of the crowd laughed alongside her.
"Care to pit your special skills against a jack-of-all-trades like me?"
"Let me get my beach ball, and I'll make you regret ever coming to Trottingham." Sunny pointed to a house one-half block away."
"Just make it quick. I have other neighhhhsayers to put in their place."
About a minute later, Sunny came out with a beach ball nearly as big as her. "Betcha you can't do this." Sunny leaped on the beach ball and stood on her front legs. The beach ball moved as she walked along the top while doing a foreleg stand. Sunny finished her trick with a back flip. "Now show us what you can do."
Trixie slid off her cloak and magic hat. "I won't even need my horn."
"Speaking of horns," Sunny called out, "you better have some bits on you if you pop my beach ball."
Trixie jumped on the beach ball and flawlessly matched Sunny's feat of balance and dexterity. "This one's for you, C.C.," she said. While doing a foreleg stand, Trixie rolled the beach ball in a figure-eight pattern with Sunny at the center of the one of the loops. Sunny gritted her teeth harder with each lap Trixie made until the other ponies could hear her molars grinding. Trixie arched her back and switched from standing on her forelegs to her hind legs before doing a double back flip off the beach ball. "Didn't I tell you, little hayseed-anything you can do I can do better."
Sandy glared at Trixie who responded with a smug grin. "Beginner's luck," she spat.
"How about me?" The pegasus mare who was talking to Sunny stepped forward. "Name's Ruby Patches and I can outdraw you any day of the week." Ruby already had a sketchbook and pencil laid out before her. The pencil between Ruby's lips raced across the paper. Some of the audience looked worried as Ruby's head moved across the sketchbook so fast it left a blur in its wake. Their concerns vanished when Ruby held up a grayscale drawing of her jumping on a rain cloud. A bolt of lightning shot out of the cloud striking Trixie, who was drawn with buck teeth and a dull expression, on her rear end. "Your turn, wanker."
After scanning Ruby with her Geass, Trixie levitated the sketchbook and paper from her. "I'll beat you at your own game just like I did with your little friend, and I'll do so without my horn."
Trixie held the pencil between her teeth and sketched as fast as Ruby Patches. Her head moved faster than Ruby Patches'. She then flipped over the next page and began sketching as well. A moment later, she flipped to the next page.
"The Not-so-great and Pathetic Twit is really knobbing it up, huh Ruby?" A unicorn stallion said mockingly.
"You're made a complete arse of yourself," said Ruby. "Now stop scribbling chicken scratch all over my perfectly good sketchbook."
Trixie tore out the four pages that she drew on and held them together-two on top, two on the bottom. The four pages formed one single drawing-Ruby Patches surrounded by ponies holding their noses and flies hovering around. Her patches were particularly darker than the ones on her body. Everypony was shocked that the picture flowed seamlessly even though they were drawn in one page at a time. Even the sketch of Ruby, which was drawn in segments at each corner of the four pages that met together, had no overlap errors.
"So what if you could sketch one drawing over four pages," Ruby stammered in a vain attempt to save face. "My spots are lighter," she said while pointing to Trixie's sketch.
"That's because I haven't put the finishing touches yet. And now it's time for life to imitate art." Trixie fired a beam of magic at Ruby Patches. The pegasus mare looked herself over. Her spots turned from bright red to dark brown.
"You think turning my spots a different color makes up from botching that sketch? Well think..." Ruby's nose caught a whiff of something fowl in the air. The others began taking sniffs as well. Suddenly, they all backed away from Ruby leaving a circular space twenty feet across all around her.
"I told you life would imitate art. They'll call you Manure Patches for now on." Trixie laughed.
"You tart! You trollop!" Ruby fumed. Then, a buzzing noise surrounded her. The flies were gathering around her like a freshly-laid pile of dung. Ruby swatted at the flies with her tail and wings but they were overwhelming the poor mare. She had no choice but to fly off.
Trixie was rolling on the floor busting a gut. "How about Flying Meadow Muffin? That's a good one for you! Ouch!" Trixie leaped up after a well-placed lightning bolt caught on the flank. While rubbing the sore spot, Trixie looked up and saw Ruby on a small cloud.
"Life imitating art, you say?" Ruby gave the low-lying cloud a good back kick sending another lightning bolt to Trixie, but this time the unicorn magician wasn't caught off-guard. She redirected the lightning back into the cloud shocking Ruby in the rear.
C.C. was sitting on the pavement and watching Trixie performing her 'act' with a disapproving stare.
I miss Lelouch.
Trixie and C.C. were in a forest clearing bathing in the warmth of a roaring campfire. The trees were stripped bare of their leaves by the changing seasons and could no longer conceal the glorious spender of the night sky from ponies traveling through the forest.
"I love Geass! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I loveeeeee it!" Trixie said exuberantly. "Did I awe you with my greatness or what?"
"Actually, you're a terrible disappointment."
"What?!" Trixie blurted out as she scratched her sides.
"The last pony I made a contract with used his Geass more constructively. He did great things with his power."
"And who is this stallion you speak of?"
"His name is Lelouch."
"If this Lelouch is so great, how come I never heard of him?" Trixie glanced back and forth between her two sides and resumed scratching the two spots.
"He's from the same place I am-beyond the Everfree Forest, as you coined it."
"Wait? You're not serious about that hokey carnival routine are you?" C.C. gave Trixie a straight face. "You are serious. Well, if the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie is ever in your neck of the woods, she'll look this Lelouch up and prove that she's the better pony."
"You don't get it."
"Get what?" Trixie caressed the spots on her sides that she rubbed raw.
"It wasn't that Lelouch is more powerful than you but that he had something worth living for. The power was only a tool to make his ideas reality. If you weren't so full of yourself..."
"Can it, will ya? I don't need the high and mighty lecture from somepony that wants to take the coward's way out."
"I've lived long enough!" C.C. raised her voice. "I don't need someone that hasn't even lived a third of a lifetime telling me I've given up!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry. You were right," Trixie said solemnly. "That was a terrible thing to say." I better not argue too much with C.C. She might change her mind and decide to keep her immortality. "I hope you find it your heart to forgive me."
"Sure, whatever. Hey, why are scratching?"
"I wasn't scratching."
"Yes you were. You're scratching the same two spots."
"Well, now that you mention it. I've had this sensation since I scanned that pegasus back in Trottingham. It feels like I'm supposed to have wings."
"You must have gained her knowledge of flying."
Trixie instantly perked up. "Do you think I'm able to..."
"No, you can't fly. Geass has limits. It's like stealing the talents of a trained athlete. You may have his skills but if you're not as physically fit as..."
"Hey! I don't steal talents. I just learn them."
"Steal or learn-the point is that you may gain a particular skill set, but you can't use the talent if you're not physically able to, and that includes flying."
"There may be a way around that."
The massive gray cloud spat out bolts of lightning by the thousands until the sky burned with a blinding white light. As the ringing of ear-slitting thunder faded, a multitude of ponies screamed out in terror. Pegasi, singed and lifeless, spiraled downward crashing into buildings and ponies on the ground that survived the onslaught of lightning.
"NO! STOP IT PLEASE!" Soarin' leaped from the top of the hill and flew upwards. "YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIGHT! DON'T LISTEN TO ZERO! THERE'S ANOTHER WAY! I SWEAR!" The wake of teardrops blowing off Soarin's cheeks froze into ice crystals. "WE'RE ALL PONIES! WE DON'T HAVE TO KILL EACH OTHER!" Soarin was heading for a vein of lightning lingering for a moment as though it knew its victim would fly into its clutches when he was caught in the clutches of somepony and yanked away. Instantly, his surrounding shifted from Tokyo to a cloud overlooking a valley.
"Let go of me, dammit! I have to stop Zero before he gets more ponies killed!" Soarin' flailed his hooves in an attempt to break the hold of his captor. "Please I have to go back before more ponies die!"
"It's okay," the other pony reassured Soarin'. "You were just having a bad dream."
Soarin' pulled away from his captor. "I think I've seen you before," Soarin' said while studying the other pony's face. "You were in Equestria."
"Well duh! Of course we're in Equestria. This is where the Cloudsdale Weather Team practices weather management. You doze off in the middle of their training exercises, not that there was anything worth seeing." Below Soarin' and Dash were pegasi haphazardly herding storm clouds together and doing a terrible job at it. They were frantically trying to put their storm back together.
"You were the one that won the Young Flyer's Competition?"
"Yep, that was me." Rainbow Dash was a bit bewildered. "We hung out with your friend Rapid Fire after the awards ceremony."
Soarin' now remembered. It was Spitfire's idea-reduced duties. It was be easy enough not to be stressful but kept him busy enough that he didn't have time to think about his previous assignment, though some part of him wondered if it was more to keep Meadow Prancer away. He was supposed to help the Cloudsdale Weather Team with creating storms as well as keeping them confined to the practice grounds. Or that was least what Spitfire intended, but the best laid plans of mice and ponies… Fatigue was getting the better of Soarin' and he dozed off. Well, it wasn't just fatigue but the recurring nightmares from the horrors he experienced on Earth that denied him rest. Last night, he relived being branded by the Britannians. This time, it was the memory of the lightning bombardment at the start of Zero's assault of the Tokyo Settlement. Viceroy Cornelia, apparently, wasn't aware that pegasi could control the weather and had ordered her flight-capable troops in the air despite the obvious hoof-made monster cloud lingering above their heads. There must have been tens of thousands of pegasi struck dead in the first volley alone. Scorched marks all over their lifeless bodies. Oh Celestia the smell! The smell of ozone and burnt flesh! No Soarin'! Stop it before you freak out again!
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Rainbow Dash gently stroked Soarin's mane.
"I'm okay. I'm still getting my...What are you doing?" The rainbow-maned pony nuzzled up to Soarin' and rubbed his back.
"You must be freezing."
"But I'm not..."
"Then how come you're shivering?"
Rainbow Dash looked Soarin in the eyes while rubbing his mane. "Call it a day. You look like you've been through Tartarus."
"I can't go back to the motel, not without finishing my job."
"You're no good to anypony in your condition." Rainbow Dash gazed into Soarin's distraught eyes. "The Cloudsdale Weather Team will still be here tomorrow. A one day holdover isn't that big of a deal."
"I don't know..."
"Look if you don't, I...well...I'll drag you back myself...and in ten seconds flat." Soarin' couldn't stop himself from smirking at the mare threatening him with forced bed rest.
Soarin took a deep breath and exhaled. "I suppose I don't have a choice," he said half-kidding, "you're too much for me to handle."
C.C. and Trixie trotted along the busy streets of Canterlot. The clock just struck twelve, and the workers were taking their afternoon lunch break. The air was inundated by the aroma of delicacies prepared by the local bistros lining the streets. C.C. intently scrutinized the towers of ivory and indigo stone that defied the knowledge of architecture that C.C. accrued over the centuries.
"Impressive, isn't it?" Trixie said beaming with pride. "And this is just the portion excavated from the cliff facings. The rest of Canterlot is on a plateau in the Foal Mountains, and it has three times as ponies. Tell me, does that country of yours have a city as glorious as this."
"The closest thing we have is the Tokyo Settlement. It's not as picturesque, but it's much larger."
"Tokyo *Settlement*?!" Trixie emphasized the word 'settlement' with a tinge of contempt. "When I think of 'settlement', I think of those three-house frontier towns in the middle of that Celestia-forsaken desert. How large could it possibly be?" Trixie rubbed the same two spots from before.
"You could fit this place in just the top level four times over."
"And just how many levels are there?"
"You're yanking my tail. There's no way a place like that could exist and no pony ever heard of it."
"Believe what you want. Any chance we can get something to eat? I'm hungry."
"I'm short on bits, so we have to make due here." The luster of the chrome building Trixie pointed to contrasted with the medieval design of the other shops on the block. The streamline contours made it more like a vehicle built for speed than an eatery. Overhead was a sign that read-
From sunrise till late
The two mares were greeted by a brawny, gruff-looking unicorn stallion wearing a white vest and hat. His scruffy blonde hair was only two shades darker than his coat.
"Trixie!" The unicorn stallion greeted the magician pony. "It's been ages. Where've you been?"
"More like where haven't I been, Joe?" Trixie replied.
"How's life treating you?"
"Pretty good, actually. Things are finally looking up for me."
"And who's your pretty lady friend?" Joe asked with his gaze fixed on Trixie's companion.
"I'm C.C.," she deadpanned, "the mysterious mare from the mysterious lands beyond the Everfree Forest."
"Save it for the show," Trixie grumbled.
Joe let out an uproarious laugh. "Having trouble with your assistant?"
"She can be *difficult* sometimes...no...more like all the time."
Joe laughed uproariously. "I'm sure you'll have her bowling over the crowds in no time flat." Joe levitated a pen and notepad from his pocket. "So, what will it be, ladies?"
"The usual," said Trixie.
"And what about you? What do the ponies eat in the 'mysterious lands beyond the Everfree Forest'?" Joe joshed.
"My favorite dish is pizza, though most of them eat rice and nori."
"It's a type of seaweed."
"Hey!" An angry customer yelled. "Some ponies are eating here!"
Joe let out a half-hearted laugh. "Maybe your friend should ease up on the food humor," he said as tactfully as he could.
"Don't tell gross jokes when other ponies are eating," Trixie admonished.
"I'm not joking."
"Then keep it to yourself."
"It's not my fault they're so squeamish."
"Just tell me what you want," Joe huffed.
C.C. read the menu. She wasn't in the mood for sweets. "I'll take the bran muffin."
"Anything to drink."
"Coming right up." Joe trotted back behind the counter.
"I really wish you'd cut out the gross-out jokes."
"I'm not joking. Believe whatever you like."
"Next, you'll be telling me they eat fish."
"Are you from Canterlot?"
"What makes you think that?"
"The baker-he knew you. He even knew what your 'usual' was."
"If you must know, yes, the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie had her humble beginnings on the outskirts of Canterlot. I was the only one in my family that had a talent for magic. The rest could barely hold a broom, but someone of my caliber," Trixie pressed a hoof to her chest, "couldn't settle for working in the family business-street sweeping. When my magic teachers wouldn't accelerate my training, I dropped out of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns and struck out on my own. I traveled from one end of Equestria to the other taking on all challengers and leaving them in the dust." A bottle of honey levitated over the donut Joe set in front of her.
"Is that why you bully others? To prove yourself?" C.C. took a bite from her bran muffin and a swig of water. "You shouldn't be so hung up on what others think of you."
"And you don't care enough." Lemon filling squirted out of the honey-covered donut Trixie sunk her teeth into and unto C.C.'s foreleg.
"Do as you wish, Trixie," C.C. huffed. She licked off the lemon filling. "You're welcome to spend your eternal life however you see..." The half-eaten bran muffin stuffed itself into C.C.'s mouth.
Trixie leaned over the table and whispered. "Keep the immortality stuff on the down low. I don't want anypony else knowing about you."
C.C. bit off the portion that was in her mouth and gulped it down. "Next time you want to keep something confidential, tell me instead of ramming food down my throat. I'm not breaking our contract if that's what you're thinking."
"I'm not thinking that at all." Trixie patted C.C. on the shoulder. "But who's to say somepony wouldn't force you to give it to them?"
"I'd say it."
"Let's not take any chances, shall we?"
"Like I said, I won't say a word about our contract."
"Now that's settled, we can take care of business." Trixie levitated some bits on the counter.
Canterlot Tower cast its shadow over the city streets. The back alleys that were denied the rays of Celestia's sun dulled until it was a microcosm of Luna's night. Anypony that stepped in the alley was concealed in the overcast and couldn't be seen at a distance. Only a block away was the entrance to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns still basking the sun. In front of the gate was a gray unicorn stallion in gold armor. Trixie and C.C. stuck their heads out of the back alley watching the mansion for the intended target.
"I don't see how this will help you fly," said C.C.
"You will in a moment, if our target keeps to schedule. Ah, there she is."
She was a unicorn, mane was a bright maroon with hot pink highlights, and her coat was pure white except for her crescent moon cutie mark. What made her stand out for C.C. was the pair of gossamer thin butterfly wings. The unicorn flapped them and took to the air, but her movements were more like an exotic tropical fish floating inside a gentle underwater current. She then tipped-toed on her hind hooves in mid-air as though she stepped on an invisible stage.
"Is she an alicorn?!" C.C. asked.
"Oh please! That's just Moondancer. She's just an ordinary unicorn who just happens to come from a family of ballet dancers. Those are just artificial wings," Trixie scoffed. "They last only three days and anything stronger than a breeze will pull them apart."
"Then why bother copying her?"
"You'll find out."
"Go ahead and use your Geass."
"Done it already. Well, here goes nothing." A ribbon of light that started at the tip of Trixie's horn coiled around her until...
Trixie awoke in her cramp carnival wagon with C.C. sitting beside her reading one of the many travel guides Trixie collected beneath the glow of a kerosene lantern.
Trixie tried getting out of bed, but the world began spinning the moment she sat up.
"Oh Celestia! My head!"
"Oh, you're awake," C.C. said in a reassured voice. "I was planning on getting a doctor for you in the morning."
"A doctor...," the barely coherent Trixie mumbled groggily. "...morning."
"The sun set hours ago, Trixie. You fainted right after casting that spell."
Trixie sat up in bed for a moment before dizziness forced her down again. "The spell-did it work?"
"That's what I wanted to talk to your about. Your wings, they look like...stars."
"Of course they do." Trixie rolled over on her stomach. The blankets slid off the bed as a pair of dark blue silhouettes stretched forth. Constellation of stars floated within these ethereal wings. "I combined Prince Blowhard's summoning spell with the one copied from Moondancer. If the spell works as it suppose to, these will be more durable and last longer."
"You know, thanks to those wings, I had to pull your cart across town and then carry you two whole blocks..."
"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I get it. The spell was harder than I thought, but the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie isn't so easily deterred." Trixie shot up only to flounder as the room spin. C.C. nudged Trixie away from the edge of the bed and kept her from falling off.
"Could the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie take a moment to rest?"
Trixie reclined back and held her hooves against her horn. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to take a little break."
The knife between Suzaku's teeth was a silver blur sweeping over the peeled apple leaving behind eight evenly-sized slices that was raked into a waiting incline hanging off the edge of the table that ended at the open maw of a masonry jaw, all in one seamless motion. The process was repeated with each new apple Suzaku rolled off the cutting board.
"That is so awesome!" Applebloom squealed. "I sho' wish I could cut apples that fast."
"It's not something you're born with. It takes practice." Suzaku sliced up another apple but then stopped at the last slice leaving six slices with of them twice the size of the others. "That jar's full. Could you put it with the others and get an empty one for me? There should be some underneath the table."
Applebloom gleefully complied with Suzaku's request and placed the jar on the other end of the table next to the other jars full of apple slices. "Now where the rest of them jars?" She asked Suzaku.
"There's no more under the table?"
Applebloom shook her head. "I don't see any."
Suzaku pushed his chair back and headed for the pantry. "There's some more in here."
"Want me to fetch'em?"
"That's okay. They're too high up for you to reach." The only empty jars were on the top shelf. Suzaku stood on his hind legs and tried nudging an empty jar close enough to grab it. Then a shiver went up Suzaku's back. It was the eerie presence of somepony hovering over him. Suzaku made a half-circle movement with his left front leg hooking the shoulder of the intruder while at the same time pivoting on his back hoof until he was behind the intruder and with the intruder's front leg twisted behind his back.
"Suzaku, what in tarnation are ya doin'?"
"Big McIntosh?" Suzaku released the big farm from his hold. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was you."
Big McIntosh rubbed the pulled shoulder joint. "I was only gettin' the jars off the top shelf for ya. I'm the only one in the family tall 'nough to reach'em."
Suzaku inspected Big McIntosh's leg for damage. "I'm sorry for overreacting."
"Taint nothin' to fret over. I shoulda warned ya I was reaching over yer shoulder." Big McIntosh cradled the masonry jar in his front foreleg and placed it on the stool at the end of the incline. "Well, I gotta go. I have chores to finish up."
"Don't go runnin' off so quick, Big McIntosh," Applebloom pleaded.
"Suzaku, could you do the knife trick?"
"I didn't do a knife trick, Applebloom."
"But ya did. You sliced up dem apples lickety split and I ain't talkin' 'bout the Lickety Split that lives on Puddinghead Lane. If ya blink Big McIntosh, yer miss it."
"Well, go on Suzaku? I can't fool around fo' too long."
"I don't know why Applebloom thinks it's a trick, but..." Suzaku, once again, in one clean motion, sliced another apple into eight slices and raked them off the cutting board into the waiting incline.
"Ain't that just the coolest thing yer ever seen in a kitchen?"
"Suzaku sure knows how to handle a knife." A little too well but I oughta keep that part to mahself.
As Suzaku was finishing filling up another jar, Applejack trotted through the kitchen.
"Big Sis! Big Sis!" Applebloom said while jumping up and down. "Have yer seen Suzaku's knife trick yet? He's the worst most awesomeest preserves maker in the whole wide world!"
"Applebloom," Applejack scolded. "You know better than being a nuisance to the help."
"The help?!" Applebloom repeated.
"Don't you have a class project due by the end of next week?"
"Don't back talk your elder sister. Your teacher won't be pleased to hear that you wasted valuable study time watching the farmhooves work."
"Yes Big Sis," Applebloom shuffled back to her room to study.
"Mr. Kururugi," said Applejack in a cold, unfriendly voice, "after you've finished making preserves, tend to the leaves before it snows less you want on a blemish on your work record."
"Now what the hay's gotten into ya!" Big McIntosh said in a cross tone. "What's with the hoity toity talk? Ya sound like Auntie Orange bad mouthing a butler."
"I've merely taken the liberty of establishing a professional work environment." She then glared at Suzaku. "I'm acting on behest of Mr. Kururugi." Applejack tilted her head up and strutted out the kitchen.
"I thought y'all two settled yer difference," said Big McIntosh.
Suzaku closed his eyes and sighed. "You know that rivalry between Applejack and Rainbow Dash."
"Eeyup." Suddenly, Big McIntosh got wide-eyed. "Don't go tellin' me ya were rootin' for Rainbow Dash."
"It's not that. Applejack's mad because I missed the Running of the Leaves. I was too busy repairing the fence to watch. And she's been...more formal ever since."
"Formal?! More like bein' ornery. I don't understand what gottin' into that mare. First she gits mad that yer around and then she's mad when yer not. Applejack ain't normally like this. But I do wanna say that The Runnin' of the Leaves is mighty important. Yer could have taken off to watch."
"I thought I could watch the leaves fall another day. No one told me we're supposed to run through the woods and make them fall."
"Of course sumpony hafta make the leaves fall. It wouldn't git done if there weren't ponies applyin' a lit' knee grease to it."
"The leaves don't fall by themselves?! You're telling me nothing occurs naturally?!"
"Of course it does. Ponies are a part of nature."
"I mean without anypony making it."
"Yer mean using magic like they do in Canterlot?" Big McIntosh asked under the assumption Suzaku might have misspoke.
"No, I mean without any pony at all
"Pegasi take care of that."
"It's our town tradition to change all of the seasons with our own four hooves. When it's time for spring, we'in gonna have Winter-Wrap. The whole town gits together plowin' snow, wakin' up hibratin' critters, and guidin' the migratin' birds.
"What about the sun and the moon? Don't tell me ponies are responsible for raising the sun and moon."
"Just 'cause I don't tell yer don't make it not true."
"You mean ponies..." Suzaku stuttered while pointing up.
"Eeyup. Princess Celestia raises the sun while Princess Luna raises the moon."
Suzaku sat on his haunches staring into space dumbfounded. His mouth left half-opened. "But it doesn't make any sense. I know ponies have the power to alter nature but nature not functioning without ponies?"
"The only place that I know that don't have any need for ponies is the Everfree Forest, and not too many ponyfolk like goin' there. Clouds move by themselves, animals take care of themselves, and the plants grow on their own. It's mighty creepy for us. Sum times Suzaku, you make me think there's a mess of ponies hidin' out in the Everfree Forest and ain't never seen 'nother pony tendin' to nature. Tell yer wut-if Applejack gives ya anymore trouble, lit me know and I'll straighten her out."
I never knew pegasi had it this good. Almost makes me wish I was born one instead of a unicorn...almost. Trixie's hair ruffled as the cold wind flowed through it as she banked around the mountain side. The g-forces permeated her whole body down to the bone. Trixie shot straight up like a rocket punching a hole in the clouds. In her wake was a trail of white smoke as thick as the clouds she wounded. Trixie then made a 180 degree turn and began a speedy descent into a meadow nestled between the hills. A cone of white blazed the trail of Trixie's death plunge. A fraction of a second before impact, Trixie made a sharp 90-degree turn. Her tail brushed against the ground for a moment before descending just above the white-coated hilltops. Her hooves made a slight crunch sound as Trixie landed. There waiting for her was C.C.
"I see why you made me go through the trouble of tracking down this Spitfire," said C.C. "She's certainly a skilled flyer."
"They didn't make her captain of the Wonderbolts for nothing."
"Are you planning on adding flying tricks to your act?"
"You're damn right I am, but first, I have a score to settle in a town not far from here. Somepony humiliated me. It was because of her my act went south. If you didn't give my routine a makeover, I would have taken that job at the rock farm."
"Your people farm...rocks."
"What? You don't have rock farmers in Japan."
"I heard of rock gardens but never a rock farm."
"Rock gardens?! You Japanese ponies are weird."
"Well, technically, I'm not Japanese. I was just staying there."
"Whatever. Just memorize the lines for the 'beyond the Everfree Forest' opening."
"Should we be worried about an act when you're plotting to murder somepony?"
Trixie's jaw dropped wide open. "Murder?! I'm not murdering anypony."
"But she's your rival, isn't she?"
"I just want to one-up her in magic, not kill her. What kind of pony do you think I am? Just remember-you're job isn't done after the opening act." Trixie unrolled a map suspended in mid-air. "Follow these directions. It's vital for my grand finale and, most importantly, putting Twilight Sparkle in her place."
"And what am I suppose to do when I get there?"
Trixie levitated an air horn and pressed the valve. The air horn made a loud BURRRR sound. Despite the sudden loud noise, C.C. didn't flitch or react. "Just blow on this and head straight for Ponyville once it runs out of air." Trixie stuffed the air horn in C.C.'s saddlebag.
"Why? What's supposed to happen?"
"It's a little something to scare the ponies of Ponyville."
"Will it be loud enough to be heard?"
"Oh it will, you can count on it being loud enough."
Rainbow Dash was taking a siesta on a cushy white cloud while the noonday sun made the nippy winter air slightly more bearable when she was stirred from her nap by a familiar voice.
"Long time, no see, Rainbow Dash." There was no mistaken that voice, that accent.
Rainbow Dash rolled over and looked over the edge of the cloud. "AJ, is that you?"
"Sho' is, and I brought company with me."
"Dashie, we're been so worried about you," said Fluttershy. "We haven't seen you in such a long time."
"AJ, FS, mind letting a pony have her forty winks, will ya?" Rainbow Dash yawned.
"Sorry 'bout that, Rainbow Dash, but I haven't seen hide or hair of ya since ya took that trip ta Cloudsdale."
"Sorry to be gone so long, AJ," Rainbow Dash yawned again as she glided down beside Applejack. "But Cloudsdale Weather Control couldn't push a cloud if their lives depended on it without me holding their hoof the whole time."
"And ain't none of it have anything ta do with that there Wonderbolt," Applejack grinned mischievously.
"AJ!" Fluttershy cried out. "You can't ask Dashie something so personal...unless you want to answer." Fluttershy gave Rainbow Dash a big smile. "You don't mind do you, Dashie?" Fluttershy made her trademark squeak.
"Aw come on! Cut out the good cop/bad cop routine."
"So you're fixin' tell us how your date went?" Applejack grinned.
"We didn't go on a date. Soarin' was on official Wonderbolt business."
"Ya ain't sweet on'em but y'all on a first name basis?" Applejack smirked.
"Look, Soarin' was there for the same reason I was-Cloudsdale was having trouble with their weather, and we were there to help out."
"Sure you were, Dashie," Fluttershy giggled.
"Come on' Rainbow Dash, be honest."
"Well, he is sorta cute," Rainbow Dash grudgingly admitted.
"Oh I get it: nothin' goin' on but ya wouldn't put up a fuss if there was."
"I guess so."
Out of the corner of Rainbow Dash's eye, a fireworks display burst into multi-colored sparks. A stage sprung up from a covered wagon.
"Not this manure again!"
"What's wrong, Dashie?" Rainbow Dash answered Fluttershy's question by pointing to the wagon. "I don't understand."
"It's the Fake and Powerless Trixie," Rainbow Dash said derisively.
"Um...isn't that...kind of mean."
"This is Trixie we're talkin' 'bout here, Fluttershy," Applejack answered. "And Rainbow Dash got good reason ta get all riled up."
"Yeah, she hogtied AJ and had me in a tail spin."
"Come on girls, I reckonin' we better git over there before Trixie stirs up a mess of trouble."
Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash didn't have any trouble finding a spot to watch the show. The only other ponies were a few of the other fillies and colts from Miss Cheerilee's class, Snips and Snails included.
"Mares and gentlecolts," said Trixie from behind the curtain of her portable stage, "gather, one and all, and prepare to be awestruck by the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie!"
"This is sooooo awesome!" Snips said gleefully.
"Woohoo! Go Trixie!" Snails cheered.
"Could you two grow a brain?" Rainbow Dash groaned. "Trixie is a boaster and a liar."
"She's still totally awesome," said Snips.
In a puff of smoke, Trixie appeared on stage. "And assisting the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie is the mysterious mare from the mysterious lands beyond the Everfree Forest, C.C." Trixie let C.C.'s name drag out for dramatic effect. The immortal mare once again donned the purple headdress as before. "What's that C.C.? You have something to say to the audience?"
"Wha...wha...what?" C.C. said snapping out of her daze.
"Didn't you have something to say to the audience?" Trixie said with teeth tightly clinched.
"Oh right. I am C.C., duchess of the land beyond what you Equestrians call the Everfree Forest…um...uh…"
"The miracle that is the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie," Trixie said just high enough for C.C. to hear.
"Oh right... The miracle that is the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie..."
"...has spread far and wide..."
"...has spread far and wide, even to my own land. I have traveled many moons to witness Trixie's greatness with my own eyes."
"Could you say that with any less emotion?" Trixie whispered harshly.
"Yer a low-down liar," shouted a rather young filly. "She ain't from no Everfree Forest."
"I said, 'from beyond the Everfree Forest'."
"Well, she ain't from there either." The young filly, Applebloom, shoved her way through the crowds.
"Oh, it's just a little blank flank," Trixie mocked. Some of the younger ponies snickered. "You know better than to call a grown pony a liar."
"It ain't wrong to if it's true."
"What do you know, little blank flank."
"I know a pony from beyond the Everfree Forest. I'm goin' ta fetch him and prove yer C.C. is a phony pony."
"'Phony pony'?!" Trixie chuckled. "How clichéd and unoriginal! Go ahead and bring your little imaginary friend, little hayseed."
"Applebloom!" Applejack called out to her sister just as she was about to leave. "Didn't I tell you not to bother the farmhoof?"
"But Big Sis," Applebloom said while pointing to Trixie and C.C., "she's a-fibbin' 'bout her coming from the Everfree Forest."
"A farmhoof!" Trixie chuckled. "Oh isn't that cute? Your little sister thinks the farmhoof is from beyond the Everfree Forest."
"Oh second thought, Applebloom, go fetch Suzaku."
"Suzaku?!" C.C. gasped.
"What's a-matter? 'fraid of meeting the gen-u-rine article." Applejack smirked.
"You just made that Sneeze-Achoo name up."
"Trixie!" Rainbow Dash jumped into the conversation. "You got some nerve showing your face in Ponyville, after what happened last time."
"If anypony should be ashamed to show their face, it's you. If I recall, I was performing circles around you, though perhaps I should say you were going around in circles courtesy of my magic."
Rainbow Dash leaped on the stage with a wing-assisted jump. "Wanna go for round two." Rainbow Dash was on her hind legs while her front legs were posed to strike.
"All in good time. The Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie is patiently waiting for more eye witnesses to your second defeat. And as for you, little hayseed," Trixie said to Applejack, "I can't wait for your little sister to bring that farmhoof of yours here so I can put him to shame as well."
The crowd has doubled in size but it was still a far cry from Trixie's first visit, though she did more hecklers than last time.
"Get out of town!"
"We still haven't forgot your last visit!"
"You and your stupid assistant sucks!"
"Oh keep showering the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie with your ignorant taunting. It'll only make my victory that much sweeter. Oh and Rainbow mare..."
"The name is Rainbow *Dash*!"
"Whatever. Just be a dear and fetch your friend Twilight Sparkle."
"Gladly. Twi's going to so kick your flank...or what's left of it after I'm done with you." Rainbow Dash flew off to the Ponyville Library.
"And what about you, little pegasus?" Trixie menaced Fluttershy. "Will you challenge the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie?"
Fluttershy slinked away and shook her head. "Um...no...I...I...rather not."
"You, undoubtedly, are the brains of your little group. You're the only one who figured out that I can't be outdone by anypony. My, you didn't take very long." Rainbow Dash returned with Twilight Sparkle following beside her. "Of all of the ponies in Ponyville, it's you I'm looking forward to beating the most. It'll be my grand finale."
"Trixie, I don't want to duel you," said Twilight.
"You think you can take the easy way out like your yellow pegasus friend." Trixie pointed to Fluttershy. "Well think again. It was because of you I was homeless and my reputation was destroyed."
"Trixie, if anypony is to blame for your misfortune, it's you. It was your bragging about vanishing an Ursa Minor that started this."
"Hey!" Snails cried out. "Don't forget us. We brought the Ursa Minor, remember."
"It's the fault of you *and* your two fans."
"The Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie has more than just two fans."
C.C. tapped Trixie on the shoulder. "If you don't mind, I need to prep for the next act."
"And miss the opportunity to watch the farm pony eat her words?! Just be patient."
"I rather not be here when..."
"I said 'be patient'."
"Well that ain't no way to be talkin' to royalty, Trixie." Applejack mocked.
"I can be frank with her because she has only the utmost respect for me and practically worships the ground I walk on, despite being royalty." C.C. rolled her eyes at Trixie's falsehood.
Applejack caught a glimpse of Applebloom and Suzaku galloping towards them. "Well Duchess C.C., I reckoned you'd like to talk to Suzaku 'bout the land beyond the Everfree Forest on account yer homesick."
"Big Sis," said Applebloom, "I brought Suzaku like ya asked."
"Mr. Kururugi," Applejack slipped back in her stuck-up, high society act, "this is Duchess C.C. She comes from your nation and she's here as a guess of Trixie. Care to educate us on the proper decorum for your nation's nobility." Applejack looked over her hunches and grinned mischievously at C.C.
"I can't believe it," said Suzaku. "I thought I was the only one here."
The smirk on Applejack's face faded. "Wait...wut?!"
"I thought you were still on Kamine Island. Is there anyone else with you?"
C.C. shook her head. "Not that I know of."
"So, you're from the land beyond the Everfree Forest too?" Trixie asked Suzaku.
"I am, though the part that I come from is called Japan."
Trixie opened her eyes wide. "I think C.C. mentioned being from Japan as well. I guess we're both right, hayseed. Now that's been settle, prepare for the grand finale, C.C."
"Um...sure." C.C. went through Trixie's wagon and retrieved the saddlebag with air horn and map.
"Excuse me," said Suzaku, "but I have to go."
"And just where are you going, Mr. Kururugi?" Applejack asked in a snobbish tone.
"No time to explain." Suzaku was in such a rush, he didn't bother to stop for a second to talk.
The haughty aura surrounding Applejack disappeared as she watched Suzaku chased after C.C.
"Oh gee, it's one-thirty already?" Applejack said looking at the town clock while feigning concern. "Time sho' do fly when yer havin' fun. I reckon it's time fer me to skedaddle outta here." Suddenly, Applejack was taken off her hooves and planted back in her original spot.
"Where do you think you're going, hayseed?"
"Well...I...have sum family business that needs tendin' to."
Trixie tossed some rope beside Applejack. "It won't take long."
"Wut won't take long."
"Why, a roping competition, of course."
"Are you planning on capturing me again?" C.C. asked Suzaku. She was on her way to prepare for Trixie's grand finale when she was cut off at the pass. "Well?"
Suzaku shook his head. "What would I do with you if I did? It'll be pointless to even try."
"Then why did you pursue me?"
"To ask you what you know?"
"Make it quick."
"Did anyone else come out of the portal?"
"To tell you the truth, I wasn't conscious when it happened. The only person I know is here is V.V."
"The colt with the long blonde mane accompanying the emperor?"
"Where is he? You didn't leave him alone did you?"
"You've seen me 'die' before, but I always come back."
"I have." Suzaku reminisced about his first encounter with C.C. back in Shinjuku when they were still human. He was one of the honorary Britannian recruits assigned to retrieve a canister filled with what was thought to be poison gas from Japanese terrorists. What was inside was really C.C., kept in stasis, not unlike what he and Rolo placed C.C. in when they captured her. His commanding officer shot her and tried to shoot him to keep her existence a secret. Months later, she turned up again at the Battle of Narita as though that day at Shinjuku never happened.
"Well, V.V. is just like me. So I wouldn't worry too much about him. Now, if you don't have anymore questions, I'll be on my way."
"There is one more question-did you see *that* thing?"
"If you mean the horse with wings, a horn, and a mane made of stars, I have."
"That's the thing that attacked us on Kamine Island."
"Trixie called it an 'alicorn'. They're the ruling class in this country."
"So, are they invading Earth?"
"That's the strange part. These ponies know nothing of our world. It may be some covet operation or a different group of alicorns."
"Look, I know it's probably wrong for me to ask, given our history, but if you find anything out, let me know."
"I'll think about it, but even if I agree, don't expect me to go out of the way just to pass on information."
"Well, thanks anyway."
Unbeknown to Suzaku and C.C., a little filly was eavesdropping on their conversation.
Trixie leaped through the rope loop with each pass. Then, with a flick of her tail, the rope noose wrapped itself around an apple off the stand that Applejack was working, which found its way in Trixie's mouth.
"I believe this should cover it." Trixie levitated two one-bit coins out of her coin purse and tossed them at Applejack's hooves, who was struck dumbfounded by Trixie's performance. Trixie then tossed Applejack the rope. "A little souvenir to remember me by."
"No 'buts' to it, little hayseed. The Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie can outdo anypony at their own game, and if I recall, the rainbow pegasus is next."
"My special talent is flying," said Rainbow Dash. "You don't even have wings."
"Oh is that so?" Trixie slipped off her cape. The audience was in awe of the wraith wings. Trixie took her time savoring the fanfare, the mesmerized crowd growing more numerous by the second.
"How did you become a princess?"
Twilight scrutinized the new 'alicorn. "Trixie's no princess. This is just a variation of the flutter spell I cast on Rarity."
"Nonetheless, thanks to these, I'll fly rings around your friend." Trixie took off and circled Rainbow Dash three times and shot straight up.
Trixie climbed until the ponies, from her perspective, shrunk to the size of gnats. How diminutive, how insignificant they are! Maybe C.C. was right. Maybe I cared too much about what they thought of me. Nopony ever lost sleep over an ant having a poor opinion of them. After this show, I might have to reconsider my act. It has been all too easy to outdo every challenger that dared match talents with me. Before the Geass, she had to work at it. Whenever a pony had a special talent that Trixie couldn't match, she used her powers to make a fool out of them hoping everypony would be too busy laughing at Trixie's poor victim to remember the original boast. But now, it's was getting boring. Trixie pushed those thoughts to the back of her subconscious from which they came. This was her big chance to wipe the slate clean, to redeem her reputation. She wouldn't let a moment of complacency deter her. Besides, she had to strengthen her Geass, so not have some fun while working towards the goal of eternal life.
Trixie nosedived. As she accelerated, the passing air first whistled and then screamed until it could no longer tolerate this creature cutting a trail of partial vacuum through it. As Trixie neared the ground, the air thickened into a cone obstructing her path through the atmosphere. However, the unicorn mage would not be stopped. Trixie devoted all her energy into forcing her wings to open and flap against the growing pressure of the Mach cone. The air, in turn, pushed against Trixie harder. But in the end, Trixie's magic was too much and the Mach cone was shattered in a ring of red, yellow, and blue. That same rainbow pattern marked Trixie's flight path.
"But the Sonic Rainboom?! That's my special talent!" Rainbow Dash said in disbelief.
Trixie glided back on stage. "Didn't I tell you whatever you can do, the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie can do better." The magician cloak floated back on Trixie just as her wings dimmed momentarily. "Now anypony else?"
Applebloom wormed her way through the crowd until she reached her sister. "I listened in on Suzaku conversation like yer asked." She said while tapping Applejack on the shoulder
"Oh good...not that I want'cha makin' a habit of spyin' on grown folks. What did ya hear?"
"They say sumthing 'bout alicorns."
"That's all I could understand on account they were speakin' Suzaku's language."
"Then Trixie's stagehoof really is from beyond the Everfree Forest. And I think they knew each other from before. Do ya know where Suzaku is now?"
"Headin' back over here."
Applejack scanned the audience for Suzaku. He was on the far edge watching Trixie embarrass another pony.
"Suzaku, ya don't mind me asking..."
"Don't worry, I'll be back in time to finish my chores."
"Can it wait?"
"I reckon so." Applejack hung her head and shuffled off.
Suzaku took a deep breath and trotted on stage.
"Well, if it isn't the little hayseed's farmhoof. Care to try your luck." Trixie scanned Suzaku as she did the other, but Suzaku was a harsh reminder that even she had limitations. By now, Trixie had a sense of what was physically possible for her. For Applejack, it was a matter of dexterity and tail-to-eye coordination. For Rainbow Dash, the artificial wings did all of the work. But it wasn't as clear cut for Suzaku. He was fighter and Trixie had his fighting technique, but he was physically stronger and could pull off moves that Trixie didn't have the strength for. She had to come up with a way out or be one-upped at her own show. Fortunately, Suzaku inadvertently gave her a break.
"Is this necessary?" Suzaku asked.
"Is it necessary to humiliate these ponies for your act? This is all pointless and cruel." Suzaku then turned to the audience. "And you? She wouldn't do this if there weren't ponies watching."
"I would challenge you, but I don't feel like competing over who can be the bigger nag." Some of the audience chuckled. "Now don't you have something better to do than being a wet blanket?" Trixie levitated Suzaku and dropped him off just outside the crowd.
"Hey Suzaku!" Rainbow Dash called out as she flew over the audience. "Why didn't you show Trixie up? You totally kicked those diamond dogs' flanks."
"I'm not fighting Trixie."
"Who said anything about a fight-just a little sparring match to put Trixie in her place."
"That's precisely why Trixie's here. As long as you give her attention, she won't stop."
"But Trixie's so obnoxious."
"I said 'no'."
"Fine," Rainbow Dash pouted. "Have it your way."
C.C. studied the map a second time. Sure enough, the cave fit the description Trixie wrote on the back of the map. The entrance was a gaping chasm wide enough to even accommodate a Britannian land cruiser, a mobile military base equipped to house dozens of Knightmare frames.
"I don't know what Trixie was thinking sending me all the way out here." C.C. laid the air horn on the ground and stepped on it, but instead of blowing, it just simply fell over. "I hope this prank is worth the trouble." C.C. tried to blow the air horn again, and, as before, it tipped over. "Why isn't it working?" C.C. looked it over and noticed a pin holding the valve in place. "How did I miss this?" After pulling the pin, C.C. stepped on the air horn, which played its ear-splitting wail. "I knew this thing wasn't loud enough. None of those ponies will hear it from here. Besides who would be so childish to think a monster lives in this cave."
C.C. could feel her internal organs vibrate. A giant paw, composed of the same ethereal matter as Trixie's wings, reached out, followed by another paw, and finally, the head of a bear with teeth as long as C.C.'s legs, snarling and growling.
Trixie strutted on stage in a hot-red gown lined with encrusted diamonds and emeralds. Her mane done in a Prench braid with a single blue forget-me-not clipped just above her ear.
"You colts will leer at any filly that stumbles into town. I mean, I just threw this plain little outfit together on the spur of the moment," Trixie said with false modesty. Some of the Ponyville mares gave Trixie the evil eye for stealing the attention of their stallions. Trixie earned the ire of one mare in particular. "How does it feel to know I'm the superior fashionista."
Rarity turned up her noise and humph. "Beginner's luck."
"Quit foolin' around and so something cool," Snips griped.
"Yeah, something awesome!" Snails restated Snips' demands.
"Be patient, you two!" Trixie snapped. "The Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie will perform her greatest feat of magic when she sees fit."
"What the hay was that?"
"Is that a hydra growling?"
"Or, worse, a dragon?"
It was getting closer. All of Ponyville was in a state of panic over the roar coming from the Everfree Forest. Ponies fled to their homes. Mares and stallions grabbed their young foals or younger siblings.
"Piña Colada! Get inside!" A mulberry-colored mare cried out to a light pink filly.
"But Berry Punch!"
"I said get inside, NOW!" Berry Punch slammed the door shut once Piña Colada was inside.
Everypony was in the grips of absolute terror except Trixie who was beaming with smug self-satisfaction.
"Fear now, townponies of Ponyville for the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie will deal with this menace." Trixie flapped her wings and flew just above the rooftops.
"Why do I have a feeling Trixie is behind this?" Twilight Sparkle asked.
"Cause she probably is," Applejack answered.
"Come on girls, we better follow her just in case that stunt of hers goes awry." Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity followed Trixie. Fluttershy took a deep breath to gather up her courage before following her friends.
"Hey! Wait for us!" Snips cried out as he and Snails followed the Element Bearers.
"Applebloom, skedaddle back to Sweet Apple Acres."
"But Big Sis, I wanna go too!" Applebloom whined.
"I says 'go back home' or else ya wanna a hoofin' on yer toosh!"
Applebloom sighed. "Yes Big Sis." The two sisters then parted ways.
Trixie landed just outside the Ponyville city limits on the side of town facing the Everfree Forest. The first thing to come out of the cursed woods was C.C. running for dear life. Not far off was the Ursa Minor, snapping trees that had the misfortune of being in its path.
C.C. came to a screeching halt in front of Trixie. "What the...hell is...that!" C.C. panted.
"That's an Ursa Minor, and I'm guessing you woke it up from its hibernation!" Twilight scolded. She then said to Trixie, "and I bet you ordered her to do it."
Trixie patted Twilight. "Oh don't worry your pretty little head! The Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie will take care of this monstrosity. Watch and be amazed!" Trixie flew up to eye level with the Ursa Minor and hovered in place. Trixie's horn powered up. Her magic created a gentle wind that flowed across the waters of Froggy Bottom Bog. The breeze blew through broken cattails, which played a soothing melody that could be heard all the way from Ponyville. The Ursa Minor's rage was quickly subsiding. Its eyelids were growing heavy.
"Twi," Rainbow Dash asked, "is she casting your spell on the Ursa Minor?"
"It looks like it."
"Can she pull it off?" Ask Rarity.
"I don't know."
"And now that I've soothed the savage beast, the Great and Powerful and Versatile Trixie put it to rest. Would you like your bottle? I bet you do. I bet you do." Trixie said in baby talk. She directed her attention to the Ponyville water tower. The glow from Trixie's horn doubled in intensity, but the water tank would not budge. "Just give me a second." Trixie strained harder, but the tank still wouldn't move. Instead, Trixie's wings faded. The unicorn magician plummet and landed on her bottom. "My wings! Why did they..."
When the lullaby stopped, rage possessed the once docile beast sending him back on the rampage. "No!" Trixie said in denial. "It was supposed to work!" Trixie then remembered C.C.'s warning.
"Hey, why are scratching?"
"I wasn't scratching."
"Yes you were. You're scratching the same two spots."
"Well, now that you mention it. I've had this sensation since I scanned that pegasus back in Trottingham. It feels like I'm supposed to have wings."
"You must have gained her knowledge of flying."
Trixie instantly perked up. "Do you think I'm able to..."
"No, you can't fly. Geass has limits. It's like stealing the talents of a trained athlete. You may have his skills but if you're not as physically fit as..."
"Hey! I don't steal talents. I just learn them."
"Steal or learn-the point is that you may gain a particular skill set, but you can't use the talent if you're not physically able to, and that includes flying."
End of Flashback
Twilight Sparkle? Perform magic that I can't? Even if I know how the spell works? That means her magic is stronger than mine? No! It can't be! It's not fair!
The Ursa Minor's roar snapped Trixie out of her sobering epiphany and sent her fleeing for her life.
"Twi, now would be a good time fer ya to do that trick you did the last time," said Applejack.
"Way ahead of you AJ." Twilight resumed playing the lullaby and once again, the Ursa Minor calmed down. It struggled to keep its eyes open. "The next thing to do was to give the Ursa Minor some milk to drink." Twilight strained to tip the water tank over emptying it of water. She levitated it across town to Sweet Apple Acres and through a barn door.
"Oh dear Celestia! We're in trouble!" Applejack cried out.
"What are you talking...hey! Where are the cows?"
"They all left Ponyville while I was out of town helping out Peach Melba."
"But I can't keep the Ursa Minor docile while moving him back to his cave without the milk."
"Yes you can," Fluttershy said with determination in her voice.
"But we need the milk to keep the Ursa Minor calm. I can barely levitate something that big when it's cooperating. It's out of the question to move the Ursa Minor if it's fighting to break free."
Fluttershy placed a reassuring hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Let me take care of that part." Fluttershy flew up to the Ursa Minor and stroked its forehead. "You poor thing. Did somepony wake up?"
The Ursa Minor yawned, licked its lip, and bellowed.
"Oh that would make anyone cranky. Don't you worry about the bad old pony that woke you up. Auntie Fluttershy will give her a good scolding." Fluttershy looked her shoulder and said, "he's ready to go back to his momma."
"Wait!" C.C. said horrified. "Did she say that thing was going back to its mother?!"
"She sure did," said Pinkie Pie. "That's just the Ursa Minor."
"And its mother?"
"You don't want to know."
Twilight's horn was a sword of incandescent white. Her powerful magic levitated both Fluttershy and the massive Ursa Minor and carried them across the Everfree Forest. Once the massive cub was back its den, the exhausted Twilight powered down and fell on her haunches.
"Okay, Duchess, care to explain how you got chased by a cranky Ursa Minor, an Ursa Minor that's suppose to be hibernating" Rainbow Dash admonished C.C. "Well?"
Twilight then noticed C.C. glaring at Trixie. "Oh don't think we didn't know this was Trixie's idea, but you went along with it, so you're just as much at fault as her."
"She isn't," said Trixie. "It's completely my fault. I tricked C.C. into it. I sent her to the Ursa Minor's cave without telling her what was in it and told her to blow an air horn."
C.C. and Twilight did a double take. "You're accepting all the blame?!" Twilight asked.
Trixie nodded. "I thought I could vanquish the Ursa Minor by using your spell. Perhaps, I should have...practice more."
"No, you shouldn't have summoned that monster in the first place."
"Twilight Sparkle!" Mayor Mare cried out. She was accompanied by her secretary, Bit Coin, and the stallions from Ponyville's volunteer police department. "What the hay happen? Was that Ursa Minor back in town again?"
"Trixie, care to tell the mayor what you told us?" Everypony waited to hear from the Great and Powerful and Versatile and Drenched in a Nervous Sweat Trixie.
The knocking of hooves against metal jolted Trixie from her slumber. She rubbed her encrusted eyes. The fuzzy vertical lines came into focus. They were bars of iron. Trixie fell off her cart. "Wha...wha...what am I doing in...oh, now I remember." On the other side of the cell was Caramel.
"Rise and shine, Great Pain in the Flank Trixie," Caramel berated. "You got 500 hours of community service."
"Did you say 500 hours? I thought the mayor said I had a thousand."
"Would you rather have a thousand hours?"
"No, 500 hours is perfectly fine."
Caramel escorted Trixie across town to a rundown building. The interior was stripped bare. Partitioning walls knocked down. Shelves were torn off the wall.
"Remove the nails from the scraps of wood and take it to the beaver farm. The sheetrock goes to the landfill. The bricks go to the quarry strap pile. I suggest working 10 hours at least. It'll make your community service an even fifty days. And you and your friend better not slack off or else we'll add more hours."
"My friends?! What's he talking about?" Just then, C.C. stepped from behind the building. She was hitched to a cart.
"C.C., that's my job."
"I'm your accomplice, so it's both our jobs."
"We'll both get into trouble if..."
"I talked to Mayor Mare, and she agreed to cut your sentence in half I help you."
"Why would you help...me?"
"I told you already-I'm your accomplice. We're in this together until our contract has been fulfilled."
About an hour into their work day, Caramel stepped away to talk to somepony outside. Trixie took the opportunity to speak with C.C.
"I bet Lelouch never caused you this much trouble."
"HA!" C.C. laughed sardonically. "This was a cakewalk compared to what Lelouch would put me through."
"I'll assume by 'cakewalk' you mean I'm not as demanding as Lelouch."
"You're demanding in your own way, but what you ask is no where near as much of an inconvenience."
"I thought he wasn't wasting his power like me. Wasn't he the one doing *great things* with his Geass."
"Accomplishing great things and doing something easy are often mutually exclusive. My contract with Lelouch was high maintenance compared to yours. I'm sorry that you couldn't beat Twilight Sparkle."
"C.C., it isn't over yet. In fact, this defeat makes me want immortality more than ever. Twilight's just a one-trick pony whereas I'm the Jack-of-all-trades. That much I have over her. Your code will may close what lead Twilight Sparkle has."
"I don't know about that, but I hope you find fulfillment with my code."
"Shhh, he's back." Trixie, upon seeing Caramel returning to the work site, went back to pulling nails out of the scrap wood and dumping it in their cart.
"Are you C.C.?" Caramel asked.
C.C. nodded. "I am."
"There's some pony who wants a word with you in private. She's waiting for you out front."
"I won't take long," said C.C. as she stepped out. To C.C.'s surprise, it wasn't Suzaku who was waiting for her, but Applejack.
"Aren't you the one Suzaku works for?"
"Well, technically Suzaku works fer our family farm, Sweet Apple Acres. Name's Applejack, Duchess."
"I'm not a duchess. That's just part of our show."
"Wut 'bout comin' from beyond the Everfree Forest?"
"That much Trixie was being honest about. So what did you want to talk about?"
"I need ta know wut's yer relationship with Suzaku."
"I don't think that's any of your business."
"Look, I consider Suzaku as part of the Apple family."
"Sorry, I couldn't tell by the way you spoke to him last night."
Applejack nervously slid her hoof along the ground and averted her eyes from C.C.'s. "Well, that was on account of a fallin' out we were havin'. Please, I hafta know. I don't mean any harm by it, I swear on Celestia's mane."
"If you must know, I supposed if I was pressed into it, I would say Suzaku was my foalnapper."
"Now ya wait one second, missy! Suzaku ain't the type of pony to go foalnapping a pony."
"You asked and I gave an answer."
"And just why would Suzaku foalnap anypony?"
C.C. took a deep breath and exhaled. "The ruler of our nation wanted me to do something for him. When I wouldn't cooperate, he sent Suzaku to bring me to him."
"Why of all ponies would he send Suzaku?"
"Probably because he's a knight."
"Our Suzaku?! A knight?!"
"And why do you care? Are you his lover?"
If fur could blush, Applejack would be beat red. "No...no...now don't be jumpin' to no conclusions. I was just watchin' out for our farmhoof, that's all."
"Could have fooled me. You sound like a jealous girlfriend."
"The...the...the...then you need yer ears checked." Applejack made a hasty retreat back to Sweet Apple Acres.
"My, what a shy girl," said C.C.
"Suzaku, sorry to catch ya headin' off to bed, but I hafta have a word with ya?"
"What can I do for you, Miss Apple?" Suzaku yawned.
"Can we stop the fancy talk? Look, I was wrong to be all strict on ya. Can ya find it in yer heart to forgive me?"
"Only if you find it your heart to forgive me for missing the Running of the Leaves?"
"Well shoot, Suzaku. You ain't from 'round these parts. I shoulda explained how important it was."
Suzaku smiled at Applejack. "I'm glad we can be on speaking terms again." Applejack wiped a tear running down Suzaku's cheek.
"Don't git all weepy on me. I can't believe I said this after tellin' off Spike for hatin' sentimentality."
Suzaku wiped his eyes. "I can't help it. I'm just so happy that we're friends again. What's wrong?"
"Whadda mean 'what's wrong'."
"Oh, I did. I was...just thinking how stupid this fight was."
"It was kind of silly, wasn't it?"
"Well, good night, Suzaku."
"Good night, Applejack." Suzaku shut the door to his bedroom.
Applejack let her head hang under her shoulders and sighed. "Yeah...friends."
Flim and Flam, two identical unicorn brothers who both had the same yellow coat, candy cane mane, and blue and white striped suit and could only be differentiated by their cutie marks and Flam's walrus mustache which contrasted against Flim clean-shaven muzzle, trotted gleefully back to their lodging with money bags stuffed with bits.
"I say, Flim, the apple cidar business was never this profitable," said Flam
"I do agree dear brother," said Flim. "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 never brought in this many bits."
"Whoever would have imagined ponies would fall hook, line, and sinker for those mini-record players."
"What was those frittin' young colts calling it again, Flim?"
"I believe they called them 'Trot-Ponies', Flam."
"We should make a beeline to the copyright office and trademark that. It's the sort of brand name that tingles on the tongue, dear brother."
"Now that we can call upon the muses of ingenuity at will, the world is our personal gold mine."
"Perhaps we should find that little colt who gave us the super invention-making power and give him his fair cut, Flam." The two brothers snickered and then broke out in laughter."
"I'm afraid that young fellow will just have to learn that contracts, like any other promise, are meant to be broken. Now, enough talk about that bratty little foal. What's this surprise you were going on about, Flim?"
"You know those two exquisite, upper crust mares that graced our humble exposition of the Flim-Flam Brother's Trot-Ponies, the ones from Vanhoover?"
"How could I forget mares of such fine pedigree?"
"Well, Flam, they were so enthralled by our salesponyship, I gave them the key to our room. We'll have all night to get acquainted with them."
"I'm looking forward to cherishing these mares' virtues by having them give it to us." The two brothers laugh.
Flam slid his room key into the lock and turned, only to find the door was left unlocked. "Looks like they're already here. Put on your best face, brother. Always make a good second impression with the mares."
Flim opened the door to a darkened room. "Yoohoo! Is anypony home?"
Flam tapped Flim and pointed the silhouettes of two ponies sitting on a couch leaning against each other.
"Sorry to keep you waiting but our promotional tour was running longer than expected," said Flam. The two brothers trotted inside the room. "Oh don't be shy, my dears. You don't need to hide in the dark. If you were doing something risqué, we won't tell."
"Provided we're allowed to join in," Flim winked. However there was no reply from the two silhouettes.
"Don't be so coy." When Flam lit his horn, his heart nearly stopped. The two mares Flim invited were dead. Their heads were flopped over at odd angles. Their swollen tongues stuck out. Around each of their necks was a garrote. Each one wrapped around a common baton that was used to tighten both garrotes simultaneously until their necks snapped.
Suddenly, the door shut behind them. Somepony cast a flame spell and lit the kerosene lantern. Standing between the Flim-Flam brothers and their murdered dates was V.V.
"Do you have any idea how much of a bother it was to track you down? Why if I didn't know better, I would think you were trying to welsh on our contract."
Just when it looked like Trixie would finally be humbled, the allure of power is too much for this mare and now Trixie's desire for C.C.'s code is more powerful than ever. Will Trixie obtain immortality? What plans V.V. has in store for the Flim-Flam Brothers? Can Soarin' learn to cope with the horrors he faced on Earth and can Rainbow Dash be the rainbow at the end of his dark tunnel of despair? And what twist and turn will Applejack and Suzaku's relationship take? Find out in future installments of Rebel Against the Night.