113.1 (Vulpine Fury)
Twilight twitched her feathers and clacked her beak before taking a moment to smooth down the fur on her new hindquarters. "Even with all the Loops I've been through I still can't get used to a D&D Reincarnation spell. Thanks, Flutters."
"Um..." Fluttershy dug bashfully in the dirt in front of her.
"What's the matter?" Twilight asked.
"I didn't cast the spell. It just happened."
"Oh, larch, one of those loops."
An elegant voice called from outside the room. "Twilight?"
"Wonderful," Twilight snarked. "Yes, Rarity...?"
Twilight had walked into Mac's Bar, having heard Sunset Shimmer was there. Seeing her friend sitting down, Twilight sat next to her, and asked, "Hey, Sunset. What are you thinking about?"
Sunset sighed. "Something that's been bothering me ever since I started Looping."
Ever the helpful friend, Twilight asked, "What is it?"
Sunset, taking a deep breath, said, "I'm...not too sure I want to become an Alicorn. I know I once dreamed of it, but when I put on that crown, I saw how unfit I was to wield that level of power. Though I've become strong throughout the Loops, I still fear that if I reach that level, that I'll lose my sanity again. I just don't trust myself yet. You understand, right?"
Twilight nodded. "Of course I do, Sunset. I can understand why you're worried. I hope you'll feel unafraid of that someday, but that's your decision. You know some of us haven't become Alicorns yet." After looking at Big Macintosh, she continued, "Just take your time."
Sunset chuckled, saying, "Time's the one thing we all have." The two chuckled, and enjoyed a drink.
113.3 (Midnight Crescent)
Twilight the Underdog - Chapter 5
Nyx sighed as the nurse left her room. "Tristan, are you there?"
"Yeah, I'm here," Tristan returned to his chair. "You alright there, Nyx?"
Nyx nodded slightly. "Just wish they'd stop poking me already. Are they gonna stop doing that before Momma gets back?"
"Sorry, but they usually don't." Tristan leant back in his chair, trying to think how things usually went for Serenity in the baseline. "I spoke to Twilight while I was outside."
"Why didn't you wait?" Nyx turned to face him, a small pout starting. "I wanted to talk to her too!"
"I know, and I'm sorry." Tristan kept his voice soft. "But given my nap, I figured letting her know nothing had happened was probably a good idea. Did Yugi tell you what happened at the shop after she beat his Grandpa?"
Nyx giggled and nodded.
"Now imagine what she'd have been like if I'd put the call off any more."
Nyx winced. "Ok, point taken," she yawned as she leant back into her pillow. "So what do we do now?"
"No idea," Tristan replied, shrugging his shoulders for his own benefit. "I'd teach you to duel, but they don't make Braille cards," Tristain thought for a few seconds, before something came to him. "And I doubt you'd be able to use them even if I did."
Nyx shook her head. "Braille isn't something momma's got round to teaching me yet."
Tristan sat in thought for a few seconds "Hey, I know. Why don't you tell me about your baseline?"
Nyx froze for a few seconds. "M-my baseline?"
"Yeah, we're gonna be spending a fair bit of time together. Might be easier if we know a bit more about each other."
"W-well, why not tell me yours first?" Nyx folded her arms across her chest.
"Nyx... Is something wrong?" Tristan looked concerned at the sudden shift in the girl's personality. "If you don't want to talk about it, then don't worry. I can always just ask Twi..."
"NO!" Nyx practically screamed the word. "I... I'll tell you... Just, don't mention this to Twilight."
"Alright, I promise." Tristan watched the girl carefully. Her voice seemed to be all over the place. From her usual speaking manner, to a petulant child. And now, she sounded... old. Old and tired.
Nyx took one deep calming breath, and mentally prepared herself for what she was about to do. "I'm... not from the baseline..." Nyx's voice shrank as she spoke.
"You're not from your baseline?" Tristan raised an eyebrow. "How does that work?"
Nyx bit her lip. "It's a long story. And if I start, I can't stop," Nyx took a few deep breaths. "No matter how much you'll want me to, how much I'll want to, if I start telling you, you need to hear it all. "
Tristan thought for a few seconds. OK, on the one hand, she really doesn't want to tell this story. But, it sounds like this is weighing down on her pretty bad... Tristan massaged his temple, as he struggled to come up with a solution.
After almost a minute, he had his answer. "Alright, tell me."
Nyx nodded slowly. She closed her eyes, took one deep breath, and started her story.
Nyx was worried by how long the silence lasted after she'd finished. "Tr...Tristan, are you still there?" Her voice was shaky, and tears were slowly rolling down her face.
"I'm still here Nyx," his voice was small. He gulped before he continued. "I just need to think, okay? You kinda dropped a lot on me."
"I'm so..." Nyx started, but Tristan cut her off.
"Don't. I asked you to tell me. It's on me. It's just... a lot to take in at once. Give me a few minutes."
"A...Alright." Nyx said, before rolling over, sinking her face into the pillows as much as she could without smothering herself.
Tristan rested his elbows on his knees, and sank his head into his hands, as he thought over everything he'd been told over the last few hours.
Alright, first question, do I believe her? He asked himself. Well, if she was lying, why would she say she's the reincarnation of an evil personality? He considered that for a few seconds, before he realised he didn't really have any response. Good point... So, what do I do?
After a few minutes, he reviewed the story in his head one last time, trying to break it down.
So, she was intended to be pure evil.
She sure didn't turn out that way. And she didn't ask for it either...
She did turn back into Nightmare Moon...
Did she really? She never really acted like what that cult expected. And, again, she didn't ask for that. They had to lead her into doing anything they wanted. And even then, she wasn't what they wanted. She even saved the town full of people who wanted to be rid of her. And they still didn't trust her.
Can you blame them?
Can you hear yourself?
Tristan snapped bolt upright at that last thought, the warring voices in his head quickly replaced by his own.
She's alone, she's scared, and she can't even see. I'm here to help her through this, and instead I just set about making her feel worse. Why am I even thinking about what I should do here?
Tristan got up from his chair, and picked up one of the pieces of paper from the table.
Now what on earth do I get instead of daffodils? I'm pretty sure people can't eat those...
A knock on the door brought Nyx out of her stupor. She heard Tristan talking with someone at the door, before someone was walking over.
"Oh, hey Nyx. Didn't realise you were still awake." Tristan said, as he placed something on the overbed table. "I got you something to eat."
Nyx looked down a little."I...I'm not hungry..."
"Not even for celery soup?"
Nyx's head snapped up towards Tristan's voice, as her eyes widened. "Did you say..."
"Yep. Sorry, but I'm pretty sure daffodils are pretty bad for us though, so I got you grilled cheese instead. I remember I used to have them with soup when I was a kid."
"Why," Nyx asked, biting her lip. "Why did you do this?"
Tristan sat in his chair. "You told me your story, and I said I needed to think about how I felt. I'll admit, I took longer than I should..." Tristain laughed sheepishly, before sighing. "You had a bad deal in your baseline Nyx. One you didn't deserve. And now you're stuck here without Twilight. I'm here to look after you for her. I can't be her, but I can at least do this."
Nyx's lip quivered, as she held her arms open. Tristan hugged the crying girl.
"Thank you..." She whispered in his ear.
"No problem..." he replied, as he broke the embrace. He sat back in his chair.
"Umm..." Nyx's voice was small, as she waved her arms slowly in front of her. "Could you... move the table closer?"
"Oh, sure." Tristan moved the table a little closer, as a beeping noise came from the laptop behind him. "Huh? What's going on... OH! The duels must be starting!" Tristan, took a few quick steps toward the laptop, and began sorting through pop-ups and windows. "Hmm...Well, it looks like Yugi's up first," Tristain said, as he finally opened up the stream. "Not really surprising, but it'll give us a chance to fix any issues with the set-up before Twilight's first match."
Tristan turned up the volume, and put the video to full screen. However, it didn't take long to notice there was a problem.
"Has it started yet?" Nyx asked, unable to see the video.
"Sorry, sound isn't coming through. Give me a sec."
Tristan started to fiddle with a few options, before the sound from the stream finally came through the speakers.
"Exodia, Obliterate!" Yami's voice was closely followed by a low, guttural roar.
"What's going on?" Nyx asked, inching away from the sound. "What's making that noise?"
"It's the monster Yami's using." Tristain watched as a bright light enveloped Weevil's monster, and the counter in the corner of the screen plummeted to 0. "Or was, at least... jeez, Yami's pretty scary when he gets into it..."
"It's over already?"
"Yeah, sorting the sound out took longer than I wanted, and that duel was pretty short... Still, at least everything should work fine next time."
It took less than half an hour for the alert to sound again.
"Hey, looks like Twilight's about to have her first duel."
Nyx froze as Twilight's voice drifted through the speakers. "Applejack?"
Umm... Yami? Yugi's voice echoed in the pair's mind.
That card doesn't normally look like that, does it?
No. No it doesn't...
Could it be this Applejack Twilight's talking about?
No, Yugi. The holograms do not have a soul.
Ha ha Yami Yugi deadpanned. You know that's not what I mean...
Oh... That...Yami paused. I'm afraid I'm not sure. But given how Twilight's taking this, I hope not. For both their sakes...
Yugi opened his eyes, and turned his attention back to the duel. He walked over to Twilight's podium. "Josie, it's not her."
"But it looks just..."
"I know. It's more complicated than I can say, but we don't have time. For now, just trust me. It's not her."
Twilight looked between the all-too-familiar humanised Applejack on the field, and Yugi. She sighed, before collecting her cards. "I hope you're right."
She turned back to her opponent. She faked a sheepish smile. "Sorry, first time using one of these, wasn't expecting that..."
"Well, you better adjust quick. I'm not going to take it easy on you just because you're new."
"You'd better not," Twilight looked back over her hand, as she tried to remember what her plan had been. "Now, as I was saying, I place one card face down," she said, as she placed her mirror force onto the field. "I guess that will do for now."
"Alright, my turn." Mike drew a card from his deck, and looked over his hand, a smile on his face. "Well, it's my lucky day. I place two cards face down," he said, as two of the slots on his field became filled with a dull light. "And I summon my Harpie's Elder Brother in Attack mode," A winged man appeared opposite Twilight's only creature. "Did I mention, he gains an attack and defence boost, thanks to the mountains in our field?" Twilight watched as the new monster grew in size. "Your turn."
Even with that boost, it only has 1980 Attack points? Why summon such a weak monster? Twilight thought as she moved to draw her card. He must have a trap lined up. Well, I can easily avoid that...
"First, before I draw a card, my Fortune Lady Earth gains an extra 400 attack and defence points. That also means you take 400 points of Life Point damage." Twilight said, watching his counter tick down to 1600, before drawing her card. "Next, I summon my Magician Valkyria in attack mode. That ends my turn."
"Scared to attack me directly, little girl?" Mike asked, as he pulled a card from his deck. "I can't say I'm surprised. I activate my Cyber Shield," one of the squares of light vanished, as Mike's monster became encased in a strange suit of armour, and its attack points rose. "Now, you gave me something nice for target practice. It would be a shame to waste it. Harpie's Brother, take out that Valkyria thing."
"Not so fast!" Twilight said, as she flipped over her face down card. "I activate my mirror force, sending that right back at you."
Don't party just yet. If that's meant ta be Mai, an' I think it is, then trust me, he has a plan...
"Alright, seriously!" Twilight said, looking around. "Who just said that?"
"Josie..." Yugi looked worried as he spoke. "No-one said anything..."
Mike grimaced, before muttering "Figures I'd pick the crazy one to duel..." He shook his head, before flipping over his second face down card. "Either way, I activate my Negate Attack trap, to stop my Harpie Brother's attack before it even started."
Told ya he'd have a plan... The voice retorted.
Twilight took a breath, and thought. Ok, so whoever this is knows how to duel, speaks in something like a Brooklyn accent... Twilight screwed up her face as the realisation hit her. Oh great. I think I've got the person who I've replaced in my head... This is just fantastic... Alright Twilight, focus on the duel first. Worry about the voices in your head later, they'll wait.
She turned back to the field to see that there was once again another square of light in Mike's magic and trap zone. He was tapping his fingers on his podium. "You can go anytime now..."
"Okay, my Fortune Lady's strength increases again, dealing 400 points of damage to your Life Points again." Twilight said before drawing another card. "And now, I summon my Fortune Lady Wind."
Once the summoning light had faded, everyone involved was staring at the field.
Tea was the first to speak. "Yugi, that card isn't meant to have rainbow hair, is it?"
Yugi shook his head. "No, it isn't. But I think I can guess what's happened..." he said, before a thought struck him. Six Fortune Ladies. Six friends. All things considered, I probably shouldn't be all that surprised...
"Oh, good." Tea said. "I was worried it was just me seeing things or something."
Twilight, being the only one to expect something like this, only took a couple of seconds to recover. "Now, when I normal summon her to the field, I can destroy one magic or trap card for every Fortune Lady I have on the field. So, kiss that armor and your face down card goodbye," Twilight smiled as the armor shattered around the monster, and the light faded from the field. "And then, my Fortune Lady Earth will deal with your monster, and the rest of your Life Points." Twilight smiled as the Applejack lookalike raised her staff. An orange orb of magic flew towards the monster opposite her, and disintegrated the monster. As Mike's Life Counter hit zero, the holograms faded.
Mike looked shocked at the carnage that had occurred. "Three turns..." He tried to gather his cards together, but kept dropping them, his hands shaking. "How... How did you beat me so fast?"
"You didn't think I stood a chance." Twilight said, only realising what she was saying half way through. "There's faith in your deck, and there's arrogance. I think you need to take a day and see if you can remember the difference. You're not out of the tournament yet..." Twilight said, as she collected her prize. She climbed down to the others as Mike walked off, lost in thought.
"Yugi, we need to talk. Away from any prying eyes..." Twilight said as quietly as she could.
Yugi nodded. He looked around, and waited until everyone was looking away. A few seconds later the trio had disappeared into the forest.
Tristan watched the black screen in shock. I know Yugi likes to give the guests an easy time, but damn. That was insane...
"Wow, momma is really good at this duelling thing, huh?"
"You said it, Nyx..." Tristan said, as he closed the stream again. "You said it..."
After five minutes walking, Tea, Yugi and Twilight stopped walking. "Alright, I don't think anyone would follow us this far in. What's bothering you, Twilight?"
"I... think Joey's in my head..." Twilight said, waiting for the others reactions. "I keep hearing things. In a Brooklyn accent..."
"Can you remember any of it?" Yugi asked. "We know him better, if it's him, we'll know."
"Well, before the duel started, the voice said 'Well, at least he ain't pullin' Mai's two-bit psychic bull...'."
"Yeah, that sounds like Joey." Tea said, sighing. "What do we do, Yugi?"
"Can you communicate with him?"
"I don't know, I haven't tried..." Twilight said, before thinking Can you hear me, Joey?
After a minute with no response, Twilight shook her head. "Either he isn't listening, isn't answering, is pulling some sort of prank, or he can't hear me."
"Alright. I'm not sure what we can do right now, other than carry on. But we definitely need to look into this at some point. This more than just the odd random comment..." Yugi took a deep breath. "By the way, Twilight. There's something else we need to talk about..."
"Remember how I said those holograms aren't your friends?"
"Yeah. Although you said it's complicated..."
"Like I said, there's a part of my loop – it doesn't happen every time – but it's possible your friends may Awaken during that time. It's not certain, and even then, we try to just completely shortcut that part, but..."
"They might be around for that..." Twilight completed the thought, and gulped as she realised what he was saying. "How does that even work?"
"I'm not entirely sure..."
"Have you ever awoken as a card before?"
"No, I ha..." Yugi started, but Twilight cut him off with her next question before he could answer.
"What's it like Awakening as a card? Do you only exist for duels? Are you fully aware? Or is it more like a sense of Paralysis until you're played?"
"I don't kno..."
"What happens if you get destroyed?"
"What happens if you're removed from the game?"
"Twilight..." Yugi tried to speak more forcefully, but the result was no different.
She gasped before her final question. "What happens if someone destroys the card? Do you just go to another copy? Or is your Loop over? And what about Monster Reb..."
Yugi grabbed the foreign anchor's shoulders, and gave her a gentle shake, breaking her concentration. "Twilight! I don't know!" Once it was clear he had her attention, he lowered his voice, and let her go again. "I've never looped in like that. They don't loop in often, and the how and why varies from Loop to Loop. But from what I remember, sometimes they just go to the card graveyard. Sometimes they're just aware while they're in play. Sometimes they can project themselves out from the cards, like spirits. And sometimes, the first time the card leaves play, the Looper is gone for the rest of the loop. I can't say what this Loop has in store, but you have to ask yourself: Do you really want to take that risk?"
Twilight gulped, before taking six cards out of her deck. She looked at them, but at one in particular.
Fortune Lady Light. She hadn't really thought of the cards effect. And then what that would mean. No...
"If it comes to that, I'll take them out of my deck for a while. I'm not going to risk them like that."
Yugi nodded. After a few minutes, he checked his watch "I think we should probably start heading out toward the docks. There's something we might need to cut off. Pegasus seems nice this time, but that doesn't always mean anything."
Twilight slid the cards back into her deck. "Lead the way..."
So far, things had been baseline. The letter from Celestia, the meetings with the other bearers, the night-long party.
Things diverged when Celestia walked onto the stage. Many long millennia allowed Twilight to discern the subtle eye twitch that was Celestia's equivalent of nervously looking over her shoulder.
Celestia gave a quick speech, lit her horn to raise the sun-
"I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
and don't it feel good!"
Celestia simply closed her eyes and sighed while a filly-sized Luna danced around on her back.
Zidane sat down on the gagged and bound Kuja. "Like I said, easy as pie to cut this one short." He regarded his fellow looper with a twinge of sadness. "The only sad part is, you may be Garnet, but you're not Dagger. No half-year honeymoon."
Zecora shrugged. "What now, then? To this world I have not been."
The monkey-like boy thought for a moment. "Go track down Sir Fratley and restore his memories, I guess. Wait. In the rush and noise, I didn't quite catch your name. Did you say you were... Why Not Sprinkle?"
Zecora blinked. "Zecora is my name. But you I do not blame: I mentioned Twilight Sparkle's moniker, for she is my anchor."
Zidane thought for a moment. "Twilight Sparkle? And Zecora? Where have I heard those before... Aha!" he pulled a fist-sized crystal from his pocket and tossed it her way. "Here. I yoinked them from Bartz while he wasn't looking, at the end of the loop. Not quite the thief I am."
Zecora caught it in her air racket, and fished it out. It felt odd, and familiar. She couldn't get a magical response from it, though - certainly nothing that would indicate herself. She offered him only a quizzical eye.
He taunted, "You can't even attune to the one named after you? Someone hasn't been chosen by the crystals!" He held up a different crystal, cleared his throat and declared, "Spirits of the ponies that reside in the crystals: Twilight Sparkle." After a moment, he added, "Normally in that loop, you'd expect to get 'heroes' instead of 'ponies', and Time Mage instead of Twilight Sparkle. Yours, there? Usually it's 'Chemist'."
"You used the powers of me and my friends - for your own ends?"
"Naw, it was mechanically identical to the originals, but the costumes..." He focused on one, and his clothing changed into a very good anthro-Rainbow Dash cosplay. "Guess what the Dragoon was called."
"With the hair colors all a-splash, that must be Rainbow Dash."
Zidane grinned. "You've got dedication to that rhyming thing. I like it. Anyway, I really liked the visual effect upgrade on the Jump attack. Big rainbow explosion thing, not just jump... land."
A clomp-clomp-clomp of footsteps became audible from the stairwell. Zidane sighed. "Well, looks like time's up. Here comes Steiner, and..." He leaned out over the railing. "Hey, rustbucket! You awake?"
From there, it was a chase scene. A chase scene between two fit loopers carrying a captive megalomaniac, and one unawake overweight man in heavy armor.
113.6 (Kris Overstreet)
Twilight read it again, but it hadn't changed.
The scroll had appeared in the usual manner, but clearly this wasn't Princess Celestia's writing. Does someone think I'm that gullible? Twilight thought. Or maybe brain-damaged for the sake of a cheap gag?
Taking up a fresh scroll and quill, she composed a quick response:
Dear Princess Celestia,
Your orders have been received and shall be carried out immediately. I hereby enclose the original orders so you will be reminded of the strict letter of your orders, should there be complaints.
Princess Twilight Sparkle
She then proceeded out into the Ponyville streets, looking around for her first victim.
Rainbow Dash. Perfect.
"Hey, Rainbow Dash!" she shouted. "I just want to say that everything I'm about to do is by order of Princess Celestia, so complain to her, all right?"
"Huh? Twilight, what are you talking about?" Dash stared down at the purple alicorn, face wrinkled in confusion.
"Ahem." Twilight held a hoof to her chest and declaimed, "Rainbow Dash, you are so slow that Hearth's Warming gets to the finish line before you do. I wouldn't say you're as thick as molasses, because you can water down molasses. Lessee... oh, yeah," Twilight added, "and geologists had to invent a level 11 on the Hay-Mows hardness scale for your head."
Rainbow Dash's jaw dropped. Then it rose again, because your jaw can't drop while your teeth are grinding. After several seconds of very tense silence, the pegasus said, "And Celestia ordered you to say that, right?"
"Direct orders, sent just minutes ago," Twilight nodded innocently.
"Right," Dash said. "I think I'll just pay Canterlot a visit. See you later!" The sonic rainboom seemed a bit fiercer than usual, this time.
Right, who's next? Not Pinkie: one-fifth chance she breaks down in tears, four-fifths she treats it as a game and answers back, zero chance she annoys Celestia. Fluttershy... no, because that's just cruel. There goes Scootaloo... no, that's cruel with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Oh wait... there's Vinyl Scratch. If I play this right I might actually be able to double the burns. Huzzah!
A couple of hours later, back in the library, Twilight received another scroll, this time in slightly better hoofwriting that still wasn't Celestia's. And was in crayon.
I think you misunderstood, hardee har har, misunderstood my left flank. I ordered you to burn things, that is set things on fire. No metaphors. As a princess you should know the extreme importance of everything going up in towering columns of smoke and fire, fire, huh huh, huhuhuh, huhuhuh, nacho supreme.
Here's a lighter. Get to it.
P. S. tell your friends to cut it out with the complaints.
Twilight looked at the butane lighter in her hoof and nodded. Whoever this is, they really do think I'm an idiot. Well... challenge accepted.
"Indeed this is not my sister's writing," Luna agreed. "But I am a bit surprised you went along with this farce."
"I was bored," Twilight admitted. "Besides, I only picked things that would be difficult to set on fire. A village full of thatched-roof homes and tents isn't a challenge at all."
"But Cloud Kicker's house in Cloudsdale? The grass around the Stalliongrad train station, while it was still under a foot of snow? An entire river?"
"That last one was not me," Twilight protested. "The Cuyahorsea River self-ignites about every other spring."
"I must speak with my sister about the pollution caused by industry these days," Luna sighed. "But I was referring to the River Canter."
"Oh, that river," Twilight said. "Yeah, that was me."
"I still fail to see the point of this."
"To enjoy myself while making sure the idiot who thought this up DOESN'T enjoy himself."
"Well, you certainly succeeded there, Ms. Weisenheimer Princess." Discord appeared out of nowhere, wearing a fake alicorn horn and a most unconvincing Celestia wig. "Here I was, expecting princess-powered chaos, and all you do is subvert my plans with pointless acts of nonsense." With a voice so whiny it had vintage and bouquet he added, "That's MY line of business, I'll have you know!"
"Thank you for that confession," Twilight smiled. "Now that I know it was you, I can apply the appropriate karmic retribution." With a flash of her magic, she caused a giant ice sculpture of a large butane lighter to appear, complete with the logo of a very popular Hub world auto manufacturer embossed on the side.
"I don't get it," Discord said.
"Oh, yes you do," Twilight said, picking up the giant sculpture in her magic and flicking the striker. A giant flame of carved ice leapt from the wick, engulfing Discord. When Twilight flipped the ice lighter closed, nothing remained but some ashes and a pair of googly red-irised eyes.
"This is no way to treat a reformed lord of chaos," Discord muttered.
113.7 (Kris Overstreet)
"Keep your eyes closed!" Indiana Jones shouted. "Whatever you do, do NOT look inside the Ark! No matter what happens, DON'T LOOK!"
As he clenched his eyes shut, and hoped Marion did the same- sometimes she didn't, and that was always a bad Loop- Indy tried to piece together exactly where he'd failed to derail this chain of events. He'd Awakened early enough to discredit Belloq when that disgrace to the name of France attempted to plagiarize his thesis... and yet he'd managed to get the Nazis on his side, no big surprise there. He'd tried to keep the relationship with Marion viable, but he just couldn't prevent sparks from flying when the two got together, so of course he was half a world away when her father died. He'd gone straight from Nepal to Egypt, getting a full day's jump on the baseline, and still the Nazis managed to take the Ark. He'd even foregone stowing away on the U-boat, instead stealing a fishing boat and following the Nazis to that damn island so he could pick up the Ark after its spirits had finished with them... only to be captured as soon as the dinghy touched ground on the beach.
So here they were again, tied to the stake, closing their eyes against the horror to come, wishing they could close their ears as well.
He heard the Nazis and Belloq gasping in wonder at something. Probably the angels, or whatever, making their appearance. (He'd watched precisely once. One angel had floated up to him, its face twisted in confusion. Then it hung its head and shook it sadly... and Jones' memory blessedly failed at that point, except to note that it took very little time for the Loop to reset after that experiment.)
The gasps of wonder turned to grunts of confusion. "Vas ist los?"
The valley echoed with the trumpet of... a party blower?
"Hi! Welcome to the ULTIMATE party experience!" The voice was female, girlish, and chipper enough to render a century-old pine tree to kindling in seconds. "I'm so glad ALL of you are here for this!"
"Indy, is that-" Marion asked.
"EYES SHUT!" Jones gasped, having to fight the overwhelming urge to peek himself.
"By the way, I should point out..." The perky voice took on an even sharper edge. "By 'ultimate' I mean the original definition of the word. Here comes the cake... but the candles blow YOU out..."
In later Loops Indy would thank any and all listening Gods that his memory edited out the sounds of the several minutes that happened after that. The only fragment of recollection he retained was the horrible sensation of overwhelming curiosity and anti-curiosity at war within him; never before had he both wanted to know, and NOT wanted to know, so desperately.
When the sounds of horrible merriment ended with the booming slam of the Ark's lid, he heard the sound of hooves approaching over the rocky ground. "You can open your eyes now," the voice said. "I'm only a temp worker. Not really official. But don't ask any questions, or I'll have to send you to the party."
Indy's eyes opened... and there, standing before him, was a pink pony thing with a large pair of shears held between its forehooves. It stared up at him with huge blue eyes.
I knew the Loops would drive me mad, he thought, and today is the day.
"Hold still," the pink pony said. A few seconds later the ropes around them were gone, and Indy and Marion fell away from the stake. A moment later they were in each other's arms.
"Okie dokie, my work here is done," the pony said, grinning. "I'll see you in Hatay State in a couple years, Indy..." Struck by a thought, the pony froze and added, "Oh yeah! Be reeeeeal sure to remember- in Latin the name 'Jehovah' is spelled with an 'I'!"
"Er... yeah... right..." Indy and Marion watched as the pony walked up the crest of a hill and vanished.
"Indy," Marion gasped, "what was-"
"NO QUESTIONS!" the chipper voice echoed through the valley.
"I think we should just get the Ark off this island as quickly as possible," Jones said. "Before anything else happens."
A great many Loops later, Indy Awoke in a cottage in the far northwest of Equestria. His hooves hovered above a typewriter- how does that WORK, Indy wondered? On the paper in the roller read the words: Equestria Jones and the Sapphire Stone, by Hairy Withers.
He ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Pony. Check.
He ran to the closet and opened it up. Khaki shirts, workable. Pith helmets... feh. I hate pith helmets.
And on a hook behind the front door... a bullwhip.
Without thinking about it, Indy reached a hoof up, took down the bullwhip, and gave it an experimental crack. It felt right.
"Well," he said aloud, as Loop memories began to filter through his consciousness. "I wonder if this is where-"
Indy looked out the window. Another pony, pink with a poofy mane, looked through the window. It pointed one hoof to its own blue eyes, then directly at Indy in the standard I'm-watching-you gesture. Then she sank slowly out of sight below the level of the windowsill.
Indy spent half an hour looking for the pink pony, or any hoofprints from same, before giving up and pulling out the very secret bottle of hard cider his pre-Awake self kept in the bottom drawer of the writing desk.
113.8 (Vulpine Fury)
"Oh, hey, Twilight!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed as her friend entered her hospital room.
The Anchor chuckled ruefully. "Still don't have the hang of chiropteran wings, hm?"
Twilight sighed. "Bat wings. I do try to find out quickly what the proper term is in Loops where Luna's Night Guard aren't using disguise magic, you know."
"Oh, heh, right." Dash blushed and wiggled her good wing; her injured one was immobilized by the cast. "Anyway, since this is supposed to be somewhat baseline, what have you got for me this time around? I love Daring Do and all, and A. K. Yearling is almost as awesome as me, but . . . I've read them all."
Twilight levitated some obviously rebound Hub Loop paperbacks. "Well, I got copies of some of the baselines of other worlds that Sleipnir administrates. I was going to offer you The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West."
Rainbow twisted her lips into a moue of disgust that Twilight thought looked adorable with the little fangs. "Isn't that one of the saddle rippers Rarity was reading a couple loops ago?"
Twilight giggled. "That Loop had an unawake version of the Hub author of these books. That version is a pretty good romance, but this is epic fantasy instead."
"Heh, who knows?" Dash mused. "I might Wake up as the protagonist one of these Loops."
"Or the love interest," Twilight teased.
"I thought we weren't mentioning the shotgun wedding Loop ever again?"
"Nah," Twilight said, kissing Dash's cheek. "It's too much fun teasing you, 'Blitz.'"
Sunset Shimmer, as she tended to do when she was on summer vacation in the other world, was relaxing in Ponyville. Rarity sat down next to Sunset, and after a few minutes, Rarity asked, "Sunset?"
"Why are you so...how do I say this...prone to fighting?"
Sunset chuckled for a second, replying "Twilight asked me that when she finished reading my journal." Taking a sip of her drink, she then said, "I suppose it's due to that journey. I had to fight more often than not, and I'm good at it. Trust me, I know you'd kick my flank easily if I went nuts, Rarity. But I've had to experience many cases in my early Loops where fighting was the only option."
After taking a sip of her dink, Sunset continued, "Don't worry, Rarity. I haven't lost the values of friendship everypony here in Equestria holds dear. But I know from experience that sometimes, you have to fight to protect what you cherish most. And if I have to bear the burden, I'll do what it takes to do so. I don't have the skill to settle things without battle like most of you can just yet."
Rarity smiled, replying, "And I thought you could be a brute when I first met you after you Awoke."
Sunset sighed. "You punch out a giant red dragon's lights one time, and you never hear the end of it..."
"...soooooo," Nyx started as she glanced up at nothing. "Quick question. Did Fluttershy, yano, kinda take you aside to discuss... things?"
Lemon Rush sighed. "Yes, yes she did. And my wolfpack did too. And the Emperor, when he got wind of us."
"Oh." Nyx coughed. "Did... any of them have, um... charts?"
"Ha! No. Twilight?"
They walked together in silence.
"...and," Nyx added with a blush, "diagrams."
"For both ponies and humans."
"Mostly regarding proper dating etiquette."
Lemon opened his mouth, paused, and nodded. "Oh, alright, that makes sense."
113.11 (Kris Overstreet)
The bearers of the Elements of Harmony all dearly loved Twilight Sparkle, but when they arrived at the library and saw her armed with a slide projector, chalkboard and pointer, they knew exactly what to expect. Rainbow Dash, believing in being prepared, had brought a cloud for a pillow.
Twilight glared at the pillow, but decided not to mention it. "I have made an important discovery," she said instead. "This is not, as we previously thought, a baseline Loop."
The others exchanged glances, and Rarity found herself silently nominated spokespony. "What makes you say that, darling?"
"I've spent most of my free time this Loop observing the motions of an unAwake Derpy Hooves," Twilight said. "Normally Derpy's movement is either direct and competent-"
"Not often enough," Rainbow Dash muttered, keeping her head planted firmly on her cloud.
"- or so random that it comes close to genuine Brownian motion," Twilight pressed on. "But this Loop is different. All observations of Derpy in flight show a common trend, which I have recently identified through careful mathematics. In fact, Derpy is traveling in straight lines. However, these lines appear to us to be corkscrews and spirals due to conditions which Derpy is unable to observe." Raising her voice slightly to cover Rainbow Dash's snoring, she finished, "Specifically, a rotating frame of reference."
"Rotating frame of reference?" Fluttershy asked. "Does that mean-"
"You can't be saying-" Rarity interjected.
"Yes, I do. I am." Twilight flipped the chalkboard to show a diagram of stars and planets swirling around a single pegasus. "It seems that this Loop, the universe literally revolves around Derpy Hooves."
113.12 (Zetrein and FanOfMostEverything)
The scene opened, looking at a picturesque view of the Ponyville Library. A suave male voiceover began.
"Causality got you down?" The Library disappeared in a titanic explosion, wood shrapnel pelting the camera before the scene changed.
"Wish you could know just what the next disaster will be?" Discord stood before a pristine Library, wearing a top hat and cape, twirling his mustache. With a snap of his claws, it was reduced to a pile of cheese.
"Maybe you just want to know if aliens are real?" The scene was now a wide angle aerial shot of Ponyville. A giant black cuttlefish flew into view, blasting a ridiculously loud fog horn, before sweeping a red beam of energy through town, striking the Library.
The camera changed to a purple mare, sitting at a wooden market stall. "Well wonder no more! Twilight Sparkle's Temporal Advice Service is here to help!"
Twilight smiled at the camera. "Time's broken, ask me anything."
"Disclaimer: Twilight Sparkle is not Omniscient, she is a Timetraveller."
"Well, what do you think?"
Apple Bloom looked from the holoprojector to the beaming unicorn and back again. She essayed a nervous smile. "Well, it's a real good commercial, Twilight, but we ain't got TV most o' th' time."
Twilight nodded. "Exactly! Which is why I wanted your help getting it up and running."
"Fer the whole nation."
The filly considered this. She started to voice a few objections, but more came to mind each time she tried. "And what timeframe were ya lookin' at here?"
"Oh, the first few times would probably take the whole Loop, but with practice, I'm sure we could disseminate the technology before I get the Gala tickets." Twilight smirked. "Besides, I'm sure this isn't the first time you've dragged Equestria up a few rungs of the tech ladder."
Apple Bloom shrugged. "Eh, why not? Not like any of the other Crusaders are Awake right now. Ya wanna start with cathode ray tubes or go straight t' plasma?"
Twilight stumbled as she attempted to throw the odd plant creature with all the strength she could muster. Having lived for who knew how long and having enough magical power to ascend to alicornhood ten times over, it should have been a simple task... If she could have accessed her powers, that was. Twilight sighed, the plant creature barely landing a few feet away. She had been to safe mode loops where her powers were suppressed, as well as her subspace pocket, but there was one little fact that made this all the more odd...
"I take it you're still adjusting?"
Twilight glanced over to the sight of a semi-stout man in a yellow space suit, his giant nose barely fitting in his dome shaped space helmet. The oddest part was the single antenna on the top of his helmet that ended in a bright red bulb. It was an odd sight, to be sure, though Twilight wasn't any less odd thanks to this loops standards.
She still had her same mane, or hair style, rather, as always, though she was apparently of the same species as the man next to her was. Her nose was slightly smaller than the mans, and her head was a bit less rounded. Her space suit was almost an exact mirror, though the bulb atop her helmet was purple instead of red.
"Kind of. It's nothing too new, but..." Twilight said, standing up straight. "I still find this loop really odd. It's not so much the army of plant creatures that obey the commands of aliens, though that's pretty weird, don't get me wrong, but..."
The man smiled, giving a nod. "Ah, yes. I assume you mean the fact that our world deactivates subspace pockets and any abilities ones wouldn't have learned pre-awake, right?"
"Yeah," Twilight said, raising an eyebrow. "I don't get that. I know safe mode loops do something similar, but never to this extent."
"Yeah. Our loop is... odd, to say the least." The man said, giving a shrug. "The exact way our loop works is a bit... screwy, from what our admin has said. We get fused loops, but usually the loopers are on a completely different planet far away from us, so we rarely run into outside loopers such as yourself." The man said, crossing his arms as he tilted his head. "On top of that, our presence rarely has an effect on one another's worlds. From what our admin said, events usually carry out like they do in baseline almost to a T, for both us and the guest loopers."
"That is weird." Twilight said, tilting her head. "Any idea on why that is?"
"From what our admin says, the reason our loop is like it is was because of some sort of event called 'The Crash'."
Seeing Twilight flinch at this, the man shook his head.
"I can only assume it wasn't a pleasant event, that much is for sure. Apparently, our branch of Yggdrasil is rather close to the universe that started the crash, and thus was heavily affected by it. Luckily, it didn't cause major disruptive damage so much as it knocked a few things loose, hence why our loops, and fused loops with our loop disrupt subspace pockets and suppress abilities not native to the baseline, and general power downs all around."
The man shrugged as he finished his explanation, before he noticed one of the plant creatures walk up to him. He gave a soft smile, giving the red being with a sharp, point nose a pat.
"I don't know how it goes for outside loopers on other planets, but if it weren't for the Pikmin here, we likely wouldn't be able to make it through our loop."
Twilight had a hand to the part of the dome just under her chin as she listened to the lengthy explanation. "That's quite the tale, Olimar." Twilight said, shaking her head. "I can't imagine what it must be like to go through several loops without a subspace pocket, let alone that being the norm for your loop."
Olimar turned to Twilight, an amused expression on his face. "It's a bit disheartening to not have the same abilities that are the norm for everyone else, but we get by." Olimar said, before he shook his head. "Though, to say we never have access to our subspace pockets is a bit of lie. We can access them once in a great while, as well as non-native abilities, but it's incredibly rare. Like a 'Once in a blue moon' type deal."
With that, Olimar glanced over to a group of Pikmin heading towards one of the cylinder shaped objects that was standing on three yellow legs. Twilight looked at it with blank stare, before glancing over to Olimar.
"I still find the idea of random beings from other planets touching down on an uncharted planet and taking control of a colony of the native beings a bit unsettling." Twilight said, before looking back at the Pikmin.
"From what I understand, a lot of outside loopers do." Olimar said with a shrug. "I can understand why, but really it's a symbiotic relationship. The Pikmin can't survive on their own. They more or less need a leader to guide them." Olimar said, turning to Twilight. "Every time I've touched down on this planet after leaving the last time, the number of Pikmin in the Onions always drops drastically from what it was when I was here last." He said, turning back to the Pikmin. "Without a leader, the Pikmin become the bottom barrel of the food chain on this planet, easily picked off by predators without being able to properly fight back. It's a sad fact, but being part plant, it's likely natural."
Olimar chuckled, before turning towards the Red Onion. "I think the Pikmin realize this too. That's likely why they follow Hocotatians or Koppaites when they're on the planet. The fact that I'm looping likely confirms this theory."
"Wait," Twilight said, turning to Olimar with a raised eyebrow. "aren't you the anchor, though?"
"That's what we thought at first." Olimar said, turning to Twilight. "However, after an alarming number of loops where I was unawake, as well as the fact that Alph, Brittany, and Charlie started looping some time after, even though I'm only barely acquainted with them, we have come to believe one of the Pikmin Onions might be the anchor, the Red Onion being the most likely candidate."
"The Pikmin Onions? What makes you think that?" Twilight asked, crossing her arms.
"Well, for starters, while generally we're unable to carry stuff with us through the loops thanks to our messed up subspace pockets, the Onions seem to be able to occasionally carry any Pikmin created through the loops over, with the Red Onion being the most frequent offender, so to speak." Olimar said, glancing over to the Red Onion. "On top of that, the loopers of our world seem to be limited to people who have spent an abnormal amount of time on the Pikmin Planet, with the ones who encountered the Red Onion first, Alph and I, being the first known loopers of our universe."
"How odd. I mean, looping artifacts serving as the anchor aren't unheard of, but still..." Twilight said, turning towards the Red Onion.
"Then again, it might not be an artifact." Olimar said, placing his hand on the bottom of his helmet. "I've always had a theory that the Onions were at least somewhat sentient, and not just the Pikmin's nest or means of reproduction. Whether or not the Onion being the anchor, or the other Onions occasionally looping proves this theory or not has yet to be seen."
A silence fell over the duo as the Pikmin continued to carry pellets back to the Onion. Olimar smiled, before turning to Twilight.
"I must say, despite this being your first loop here, you're performing much better than my usual partner Louie." Olimar said, glancing over towards the Pikmin. "I knew there were ways to make them collect berries and such without our direct command, but I didn't know collecting pellets could also be automated."
"What can I say. I'm an organized pony... or person, this loop at least."
Both loopers shared a hearty chuckle, before Olimar took a deep breath.
"At this rate, we should have Hocotate Freight's debt repaid in no time." Olimar said, though he was quick to breath a sigh. "I just hope the President of Hocotate Freight doesn't force us to return here after it's paid off to collect the rest of the treasures. No matter what we do when he's unawake, he always finds out about the Submerged Castle, and always forces us to go collect the treasure within it."
Twilight blinked, tilting her head. "Why? What's so bad about this 'Submerged Castle' place?"
Olimar took a deep breath, shaking his head before he glanced at Twilight out of the corner of his eyes.
"Let me put it this way. The only times we go there are when the loops forces us to go there." Olimar said, before he straightened himself up. "Tell me, Twilight... do you believe in Eldritch Abominations?"
Twilight shivered. All of a sudden, she really didn't want to see what this 'Submerged Castle' was about...
113.1: We know how the next few seconds go.
113.2: Due process.
113.3: At least it's not Friendship Is Magic The Gathering.
113.4: Visual pun.
113.5: Presumably Zecora is being a bit avant-garde with her rhyme scheme.
113.6: This is called malicious compliance. Except, she's being benevolent, so maybe not.
113.7: We named the pony Indiana.
113.8: Feeling a little silly.
113.9: Different cultures for different... wait, they're not vultures...
113.10: Thoroughly advised.
113.11: Simply construct the right metric.
113.12: TV's Twilight.
113.13: Some places.