“Right,” Cheerilee said, taking her pointer in both hands. “I hope everyone's paying attention.”
The pointer whipped out to aim directly at one of the sitting students. “Nurgle! If you must eat in class, make sure it does not distract you or others!”
With a nod, the Chaos God switched to sandwiches, which made less noise.
“Thank you. Now.”
Cheerilee tapped the board. “Looping Ethics. Section five – loopers with debilitating problems which mean that they are unable to either give or withhold consent.”
“Do we have to do this?” Khorne asked, anger simmering in his voice.
“After what you nearly did to Jurgen, yes,” Russ returned from the front desk.
Cheerilee ignored them, chalking on the board. “There's a flowchart for this, but the summary is as follows:”
“Unless there is reason to believe he or she or it should not, the Anchor is considered to have power of attorney over an incapable looper from their own loop. Absent that anchor, a local anchor is the one who should make the decision. If there is no known anchor present – such as when there is a stealth anchor – and no known and verified friends of the incapable looper, then it is the correct thing to do to decline treatment on consent issues. Fortunately, this is rare.”
“Sorry, I stopped listening halfway through,” Bjorn said. “What?”
“...perhaps an example would work better.” Cheerilee made a handseal, and gestured.
The board flashed, turning into a screen through which could be seen a cheerfully animated depiction of Ponyville.
Khorne made a retching noise.
“Oh, hush,” Slaneesh said, waving a tentacle. “I think it's adorable. Besides, I thought you had some good things to say about Rainbow Dash-”
“I told you never to mention that!” Khorne snapped.
“You're the god of competition, it's not exactly unexpected,” the Emperor contributed.
“All of you, shut it!” Leman said, and the muttering gradually quieted down.
“Thank you, Leman,” Cheerilee nodded. She gestured again, and images of ponies appeared. One of them was a silver-maned earth pony with an eyepatch, and a blank expression.
“When he first came to us, Kakashi Hatake was convinced he had been locked in an illusion since he had first started looping. This self-reinforced his paranoia, which – Tzeentch stop taking notes, this isn't the important bit – which meant it was functionally impossible to get consent from him until after he had already been somewhat cured.”
Chrysalis trotted on-screen, which resulted in a cheer from Slaanesh.
Then the God/dess? of lust and love pouted. “Oh, that's right, she's got all boring and monogamous.”
“You didn't pay nearly enough attention,” the teachers' assistant said, shaking her head. “She and Auntie Trixie have an open relationship.”
“Re-ally?” Slaanesh asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Not the point,” Cheerilee said severely. “As one of our local Elements of Kindness, Chrysalis is even better equipped now than she was at his time to handle such issues, but her status as empath was amply sufficient. The first step was surface empathic scans – nothing intrusive – which was how we determined his mind was locked up.”
“Why didn't you just delve all the way?” Tzeentch asked, nodding at the screen. “There's the Uzumaki Anchor there, he could give you permission.”
“Intrusive scans require either explicit personal consent or the lack of other options to proceed. We were never at that point.” Cheerilee shrugged. “Of course, I'm using we to refer to a decision I was not involved in.”
Fluttershy and Zecora, then Silver Spoon, appeared on the screen. “As it happens, all three of our current Elements of Kindness were involved in his therapy, along with Zecora – latterly Generosity. They made clear as soon as he was lucid that the therapy was now his choice, and he elected to continue with it.”
Cheerilee turned away from the board, as the cartoon-Kakashi-pony engaged in complicated sparring with cartoon-Silver-Spoon. “Any questions?”
“What does this have to do with us, again?” Tzeentch asked.
“You do know who had to fix the mess you made out of poor Krystal, right?” Nyx asked. She winced. “Luckily, Fox was around, and he was able to talk her down.”
“She was asking for it!” Tzeentch said, raising his clawed hands. “Literally, asking for it. She tried to use psyker powers in a warp storm!”
“Which for her baseline is not only perfectly safe, but barely even a thing.” Cheerilee sighed. “Let's look at another example. This time, someone who was not ready to accept assistance...”
“Well, I think that went fairly well,” Leman said, some time later.
“Yeah, I guess,” Nyx agreed. “At least no-one threw anything.”
“Hey, they do behave better these days,” Leman shrugged. “It's kind of a positive feedback loop – when I fix the place, even a little, it means they're getting more power from the positive sides of their portfolios. Same for Dad, too.”
“More power to them? More power to them,” Nyx decided.
“That was deliberate,” Leman announced, poking her nose. She chuckled, and batted at his hand.
“I don't think you're being all that sincere,” Leman judged.
There was a loud crunch.
Nyx sighed. “Slaanesh!”
“What?” the god/dess? said, eating some more popcorn. “Carry on as if I'm not here.”
“For a deity of love, you're terrible at keeping the mood going,” Leman told Slaanesh, turning away from the not-quite-technically-a-Space-Marine.
“Pssh,” Slaanesh replied. “I'm just glad that my anchor has finally loosened up a bit.” A shrug. “Still not going to take me up on my offer?”
“We do not need extra participants!”
“Monogamy is boring,” Slaanesh moaned. “Fine then. I'll go bother Empy to let me speak to Fulgrim again.”
“Hey, sparklebutt, watch this!”
Gilda raised her foreleg. There was a moment of magical uncertainty, and then a meteorite hit the ground a few hundred feet away.
“...it's very nice,” Twilight said, blinking at the crater. “If destructive. What is it?”
“Neat, huh?” Gilda asked, and rummaged in her pocket. “Hold on, watch this!”
The gesture was the same. The meteorite came down the same, though bluer.
When it hit, though, it produced a wash of water which splashed both of them and turned the crater into an instant pond.
“I'm waiting to hear an explanation...” Twilight hinted.
“One more.” Gilda dropped what she'd been holding with a clang, and replaced it with another – this one green to the previous blue.
An identical gesture. A near-identical, though green, meteorite.
And when it hit, an instant jungle about twenty feet across.
“Okay, okay,” Gilda relented. “It's Judgement. Copied it in the Pokemon world.”
She waved the Plates around. “I've got the full set! Hey, want to see the Ghost type one?”
“Ah, Twilight!” Trixie said, and waved a hoof at the board. “Mark my words – this will be my greatest achievement yet!”
Twilight squinted at the board. “Trixie,” she said after a few seconds. “Is it the cloth, or under the cloth?”
“Whoops.” Trixie reached out and swept the cloth off. “Behold!”
The Anchor looked at a set of stark chalk marks. “What is that?”
“Dodecanitrododecaazaisowurtizane,” Trixie rattled off.
“Dodeca...” Twilight counted in her head. “An isowurtizane is a carbon structure, right?”
Twilight nodded back, with something like resignation. “So, basically, twenty-four nitrogen ions in a cage-structure with nothing to stabilize them except crossed hooves.”
“Well, there's the same amount of oxygen and a few hydrogens along for the ride, but yes.” Trixie shrugged. “I simulated it, it is surprisingly stable.”
“You know those simulations don't actually look at ignition energies, right?” Twilight checked.
“No, I looked at those. Even conjured some with pure magic – it's close to being as stable as TNT, and considerably more explosive.”
Twilight blinked. “Wow, I'm surprised. What makes it a challenge?”
Trixie coughed. “The intermediary compounds are a bit less stable.”
“Ah. Say no more, and do your work somewhere isolated.”
Trixie wheeled the container of fuming nitric acid out of the work area. “Half done,” she said to herself.
Granted, that was the easy half – she now had some hexa- versions of the compound, which were nothing to blink at (being more stable dissolved in TNT than in their raw form) but nothing that hadn't been done before.
The next step, however, was first to decant some. The first batch had exploded halfway through the process (losing her some eyebrows and a nice workroom) and so she wanted this second lot split up among multiple containers so she didn't lose it all if she fluffed it again.
Some hours later, a slightly more sleep-deprived unicorn wheeled the fuming nitric acid back into the work area.
This was the tricky half. To get that many more nitrogens into the already very nitric compound, it would be necessary to basically beat the crap out of it with pressure, temperature, and both at once. Along with some very strong nitric acid.
“Start music,” she instructed, and the Anvil Chorus from Il Trottatore came on the speakers.
Because if you were going to do this kind of thing, you had to do it in style.
With patient care, Trixie moved the final reserve canister into her workroom.
By now she had scorch marks all over her coat. Her pile of destroyed lab equipment filled a room. The sprinklers had run dry and been replaced twice, and she was also nearly out of fuming nitric acid. (And spare bricks.)
This time, she was taking it slow.
A single thimbleful of acid went into a crucible with a mere drop of explosive. She placed it in the reaction chamber, and heated it – examining the readouts constantly.
The isowurtizane-derived compound sat inert as it was raised to operating temperature, then to operating pressure. A thin film began to develop, as the reaction progressed sluggishly in the absence of any catalyst.
Then it blew up.
Undeterred, Trixie measured out similarly small quantities, and put them in the second reaction chamber – this one completely insulated, with no light and no vibration.
For about four minutes, the reaction presumably progressed.
Then it blew up. Trixie noticed that, because it blew a small hole in the side of the chamber.
Option three. Reduce operating temperature, increase pressure.
That blew up.
Option four – substitute temperature for pressure.
Five. A catalyst.
Six. Catalyst and elevated temperature.
Eventually, with no reaction chambers left, Trixie was forced to stop.
She looked at the results of her hoofiwork, and sighed.
“Right. Time to get out the computer.”
“I must, with surprise, admit defeat,” Trixie reported.
Twilight blinked. “Really? Wow.”
“Crunched the numbers,” Trixie said, and sighed. “The minimum possible energy required to move a nitro group onto decanitroundecaaziaisowurtizane is greater than the ignition energy of the molecule. It's physically impossible.”
“Magic?” Twilight suggested.
“What's the point?” Trixie shrugged. “It's not a proper synthesis any more if you do that, there's no challenge.”
Twilight trotted over and laid a hoof on her shoulder. “I'm sorry, Trixie.”
Trixie nodded. “Thanks for being understanding.”
Rainbow Dash woke up, in both senses of the word.
“Ow...” she muttered, shifting her weight. “That was trippy...”
“Hello?” a voice said. “Piplup? Or... that's not you, Oshawott, is it?”
“Osha what?” Dash mumbled, trying to stand up. This turned out to be harder than expected – she kept mixing her forelegs and wings up. “Name's Rainbow Dash.”
Looking up, Dash saw that the person talking to her was... some kind of monkey with a tail on fire.
“Wait...” she said, dredging up memories. “Are you a Flimflam?”
“Chimchar,” the... Pokemon, that was it... corrected. “Okay, you've got to be a looper if you're making that kind of mistake. I did wonder why you were a Pidgey. Same colour, though...” he mused.
The monkey pointed.
Dash looked down.
This didn't help her headache.
“Okay,” Dash said, for the fourth time. “I'm a pigeon.”
“Pidgey!” Chimchar corrected. “Pay attention, please!”
“Meh.” Dash shrugged her wings awkwardly. “Basically the same thing. Bird, slow, uncool.”
Chimchar rolled his eyes, not looking forward to the next few weeks. “Okay – listen, if it'll stop you going on about it... when Pidgey evolve, they become Pidgeotto, which are fast and powerful.”
Dash looked moderately interested.
“And when they hit Pidgeot, they can break the sound barrier.”
Visiting Looper gave a considering look to Anchor. “Tell me more.”
“Finally!” Dash cheered. “Now the spring's open, I can stop being so stupidly small and slow!”
Chimchar shook his head. “Sorry. We need to wait until we completely undistort time.”
Dash froze, beak open in surprise, then ruffled her wings. “Fine. Whatever. I've already beaten up a god or whatever as something smaller than his toe, guess there's no reason to break the streak...”
The Dazzlings walked into the cafeteria, ready to sing.
Sunset sighed. She really didn't feel like dealing with those three at the moment.
Everyone in the room covered their ears at the obnoxious sound of an air horn.
"Yeah, not dealing with you three today. "
126.6 (Gym Quirk)
Adagio Dazzle could taste the slowly simmering miasma of hostility and resentment in the auditorium as the opening round of their Battle of the Bands started winnowing out the less talented (and magical) entrants. It was a piquant mix of sour and bitter that she hadn't encountered in such a long time. This is such a lovely change from the "fast food" that Aria keeps complaining about.
She shared a vicious smile with her companions as they made their way onstage.
"Excuse me, Miss Dazzle?" interrupted the principal before they could start reinforcing their enchantment. "Do you intend to perform a capella?"
"Um...What?" the disguised siren responded blankly.
"This is a Battle of the Bands," explained the vice-principal. "All instrumental accompaniment must be performed by the participants. No pre-recorded music allowed."
It gradually dawned on the Dazzlings' leader that neither school administrator was showing the usual signs of being enthralled.
This might be just a bit more difficult to pull off than we'd thought.
126.7 (Hubris Plus)
"The last time I Looped through Canterlot High," Zecora informed her fellow Loopers. "I decided I would give Disney a try. And while it may at first appear invective, I found Friends on the Other Side quite effective."
"A villain song?" Dash asked. "How'd you get that to work?"
"As the link to Equestria was quite bonafide, I truly did have friends on the other side," the zebra smirked. "And by appealing to the Dazzlings' greed, I trapped them in the bargain's creed. The green they sought was evil fog, they did not expect to be made frogs. And now that I consider using their desire..."
"No," Sunset told her. "We're not trying Hellfire."
Twilight Awoke, right as the Dazzlings were cackling and transforming into their true form. Thinking quickly she reached into her subspace pocket to pull out a wand, only to have her hand grabbed.
Discord- 'Superintendent Discord' her Loop Memories supplied, leaned forward into her field of view. "Don't worry, I've already taken care of this." He explained, grinning. "I made Greek Mythology class mandatory."
As the Dazzlings transformed into Sirens, they cackled. "Behold, your Siren rulers!"
"Nope." A random student butted in, rendering the Dazzlings speechless. "Sirens were bird women. You're fish horses, or hippocampi."
"But-" Adagio tried to say, before being cut off and mobbed by the students.
"Oh god, hippocampi!" "I want to ride the silver one!" "I've got some seaweed, any of you want some seaweed!"
Twilight looked at Discord suspiciously. "Okay, I also set up an enchantment that broke the Dazzlings' hold over the student body and makes said students more prone to random actions." He admitted.
Twilight sighed to herself as she walked through the streets of some variant of a Hub-like city called San Fransokyo, her hooves clopping despondently on the pavement.
She'd Awoken in another Bureau Loop, standard variation. The only other looper present, save someone who refused to ping back, had so far been Luna. Twilight and the moon princess had quickly gotten together to hash out a plan to talk the other Elements of Harmony and Celestia, respectively, into a more... amiable arrangement than forcibly turning the entire human race into ponies and eradicating every trace of their culture.
So far it had been as productive as hitting her head against a brick wall. With baseline strength and durability. Less so by all indications.
Sighing again, Twilight continued walking, staring down at the street and essentially not looking, or really caring, where she was going.
Which is why she ran face-first into a giant white balloon.
Shaking her head from surprise, and thankful that her horn wasn't quite sharp enough to puncture the balloon at the slow pace she'd been going (that would have been even more embarrassing), she looked up at the object and blinked.
And blinked some more.
"Greetings, I am Baymax," the white humanoid balloon raised its hand in a friendly greeting. "I am programmed to help the sick and injured."
Twilight kept blinking as she tried to place the figure from her collection of Hub-world fiction, but her mind kept trying to head in the direction of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man or Bibendum.
"Are you in need of assistance?"
Dear tree... he was just... He was adorable and huggable, that's what he was. Twilight could almost feel her ruthlessly suppressed in-Loop Bureau instincts crumbling in the face of his pure sweet innocence.
Wait... she could feel them crumbling in the face of his pure sweet innocence!
"Actually..." Twilight turned the beginnings of a plan over in her mind, "I think I am..."
'This alone was worth the price of admission,' Twilight smiled as she watched the eyes of four variants of her friends and the struggle behind them as their learned intolerance of the 'tainted' humans and their 'corrupt' technology warred with their natural love for all things cute and cuddly. The former was clearly losing to the latter. Badly.
As for the fifth variant friend...
"Sooo sooofft.... sooo wwaaaarrmmm...." Rainbow Dash purred sleepily from atop Baymax.
"Greetings, I am Baymax. Who are you?"
"Hail and well-met noble Baymax! We are Luna, princess of the night and diarch of Equestria!"
"A pleasure to meet you."
Twilight felt a little guilty about not warning the Awake Luna ahead of time, but the moon princess didn't seem to mind the pleasant surprise.
Twilight could scarcely believe it. The turnaround in attitude most Bureau ponies had upon meeting Baymax (or even seeing him interact with others) was... it was incredible. He just stood there being his adorable self and they crumbled.
And once the intolerance barrier was down, the Bureau ponies found they actually had a lot in common with most humans.
Of course, there were a few stubborn holdouts determined to press the issue...
"Sister?" Celestia stared at the one who had interposed herself between the solar diarch and the white abomination below. "You would... you would side with this abomination created by the tainted humans?"
"Thy call yon Baymax an abomination? We say thee Nay!" Luna returned defiantly. "For yon Baymax is a truly pure being, produced by this so-called tainted humanity! And any who can produce such a being can not be beyond hope as thy claim!"
"He is a product of the humans' corrupt technology!" Celestia yelled back. "He must be destroyed, along with the rest of their tainted culture!"
"BAYMAX IS THE PUREST AND MOST INNOCENT CREATURE WE HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED OUTSIDE A NEWBORN FOAL!" Luna roared back at Celestia. "THINE ARGUMENTS ARE INVALID!"
Twilight Sparkle stepped out of the mirror into the throne room, looking for all the world like a drowned, purple rat. She was followed closely by Sunset, Rarity, Pinkie, Applejack, and Fluttershy.
"Well that's the last time ah'm singing 'The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down'," said Applejack.
"Agreed. Say, where's Rainbow Dash?" asked Sunset.
"WAHOOOO!" was all they heard before Dash came out of the mirror on a surfboard, followed immediately by a tsunami and ten pots of honey. "That was awesome! Lets do that again!"
"NO!" yelled all the other loopers.
"We are not flooding the stadium again," clarified Fluttershy, "no matter how 'awesome' it may be to surf your way through the mirror portal."
"Yes yes yes yes YES!" said Chrysalis as she danced into the bar.
"Oh Hi Chrysalis, what's up?" asked Twilight.
"Remember how I was having a hard time finding a situation to sing something from Phantom of the Opera without it being creepy?"
"Trixie and I broke the Dazzlings' control using 'All I Ask of You'. I also got a snack out of it."
Twilight chuckled. "That's one way to save two bunnies with one hoof!"
126.12 (Detective Ethan Redfield)
Fluttershy watched Discord with ever increasing worry. The draconequus was almost giddy as he poured cereal into Angel Bunny's bowl.
"Um...Discord, I think you shouldn't do that," murmured poor Fluttershy as she took cover behind a nearby table.
Discord gave a small toothy grin, "This one was just begging to be played ever since I had my adventure in the hub world."
As Discord finished pouring, the Draconequus shrugged and walked through the kitchen away from his prank, "Besides, I get two for one on this one. No one will suspect Discord of doing such a simple prank. He'll probably blame Dash."
Something smacked the side of his head hard causing marbles to burst out his opposite ear. The Draconequus rubbed his head and looked down. Angel was giving his most loathing glare he could at the embodiment of chaos before hopping away. Fluttershy strolled up with her head low, "Oh dear...you better watch yourself for the rest of this loop. Last time, Pinkie did it and...it was horrible..."
Discord shrugged and gave a toothy grin, "What can he possibly do to me?"
Three Days Before the Loop Ended
"This was about the cereal, wasn't it," Discord asked, completely nonchalant about hanging precariously over a massive pool of milk and cereal by a rope hooked up to a machine. Nearby, Angel Bunny sat at a control center, watching the action with a ton of buttons nearby.
Fluttershy sighed as she stood nearby. She had already ascended and prepared healing spells in case this got out of hand, "Silly Discord, Angel Bunny doesn't like Trix."
Discord looked at the milk and shrugged, "On a scale of one to ten, I give you a rubber chicken for the effort," then snapped his fingers and Angel was covered in rubber chickens. A moment later, a second discord stood to the side, screaming about the humanity and how someone should save Discord. Then a third discord wandered onto the scene, shrugged and walked towards the door, "Meh, I'd rather not get involved."
Angel gave a small grin as he pushed two of the buttons. Underneath both discords, the floor opened, revealing a pair of vats of milk and Trix cereal. A pair of splashes was heard a moment later. Discord blinked, then narrowed his eyes, "You're saying I'm getting too predictable, aren't you?"
Angel's grin turned sadistic as he slammed the center button, dropping Discord into the pool of milk. Fluttershy gave a stern look at the rabbit, "You didn't put an alligator in this one, did you?"
The bunny rolled his eyes. It was only Gummy. Not his fault the loop made Gummy so massive that loop.
126.13 (Kris Overstreet)
"Twil- er, Dusk! Dusk!!"
The unicorn normally known as Twilight Sparkle groaned. She hated being in Ponyville for a gender-flip Loop. Too many of them involved romantic hijinks, up to and including harems. She'd only gone along with this one when s/he saw that the other baseline Element Bearers were both Awake and also gender-flipped. Fortunately, thus far no signs of any relationship railroad on the Loop's part had surfaced, and Twilight- or Dusk Shine- had just begun to relax and hope that this Loop would play out to baseline.
Rainbow Blitz, normally Dash, shouting and charging into the library brought that relaxation to a screeching halt.
Shutting the door behind Rainbow with his/her magic, and mentally cursing the inflexibility of pronouns, Twilight said, "Okay, Rainbow, nobody can hear us in here. What's wrong?"
Rainbow put her forehooves on Twilight's broader-than-usual shoulders. "Did you know," the pegasus gasped, "there's no such thing as Daring Do in this Loop?"
"What?" Twilight blinked. "I'm sure there's an A. K. Yearling section here, under 'Fiction.'"
"Have you actually read them?"
"Only about three hundred times each, Dash."
"I mean this Loop."
"Well, no." Twilight's eyes tracked the shelves to the appropriate spot, and she pulled down a range of about a dozen books. "Here we are, A. K. Yearling... what's this?" The covers featured a yellow pegasus stallion with a salt-and-pepper mane, dressed not in pith helmet and khakis but in formal evening wear. "The Adventures of James Bridle?"
"No 'Sapphire Stone!' No 'Eternal Flower!'" Dash picked up one title after another. "Look at these dopey names! 'The Griffon Who Loved Me.' 'Dr. Neigh.' 'Goldhoof.' 'Thunderbit.' 'Moonbucker'- Luna wouldn't like that one!"
Twilight sighed. "Dash," s/he sighed an octave deeper than she was comfortable with, "this Loop the male A. K. Yearling is apparently living the life of James Bond and writing the books. You remember James Bond, right?"
"'Course I remember him," Dash shrugged. "Nice guy, great in a scrap, but a little bit grabby sometimes. Girl's got to have her personal space, y'know? But what has that got to do with it?"
Twilight reached into her subspace pocket and pulled out one of the Ian Fleming novels, laying it on the tabletop next to one of the local books. She pointed to the blurbs on the covers: James Bond. James Bridle. James Bond. James Bridle.
"Oh. Er. Yeah." Dash blushed a bit as she realized that she was being an idiot. Looking desperately for some way to change the subject, she pointed to another James Bridle book. "But you can't tell me that isn't a stupid title!"
Twilight looked at the book, which showed a severely overweight gazelle standing threateningly next to a somewhat monstrous-looking human.
"'The Man With the Golden Gnu,'" Twilight read aloud. "Well, I suppose that's two more reasons to hate this Loop."
"How's that?" Rainbow Dash asked. "I mean, yeah, the title, but what else?"
Twilight pulled out the circulation slip from the inside cover and held it up. A single name took up two-thirds of the slots. "An Equestria where humans probably exist... and Lyra isn't Awake."
"Oh," Rainbow Dash said, cringing slightly. "I think I'll go warn the other girls... guys... whatever."
126.14 (Gym Quirk)
The lights came up as the video presentation ended. Celestia stood and stretched while Twilight retrieved the disc containing the Hub loop depiction of the latest Canterlot High School adventure and Applebloom shut down the video playback equipment in the small theater in the underground complex that had set up under the library tree this loop.
"Time for a break, I think," suggested the Anchor. "We can snicker at the Producers' Commentary next time." The assembled loopers made their way to the lounge area where they collected a variety of snacks before reconvening at one of the large tables.
"So you've all had a few shots at taking on the Dazzlings in the Battle of the Bands by now, right?" asked Celestia.
The primary Element bearers, along with Sunset Shimmer and the Cutie Mark Crusaders made affirmative noises.
"And I suppose that you've tried a variety of songs to counter them. Any success using our 'Standard Repertoire', so to speak?"
"Well," started Twilight. "Even reworked for the Rainbooms, 'Winter Wrap-up' was a bust."
"As was 'Art of the Dress'," added Rarity. "But at least it didn't reinforce the Sirens like 'Becoming Popular' did."
"The Smile Song worked pretty well," grinned Pinkie. " 'Giggle at the Ghosties', not so much."
"The death metal remixes of both made for some real creepy visuals," noted Rainbow Dash.
"Pro-tip," added Sunset. "Do not use any version of 'Evil Enchantress'."
"Most of our usuals don't have enough 'oomph' to be useful counters, or are too topical to work well," observed Applejack.
"Yeah," agreed Scootaloo. " 'Babs Seed' had plenty of energy, but the lyrics kinda undermined the effort."
"I thought 'A True, True Friend' did quite nicely after we tweaked it," murmured Fluttershy.
"Funny thing...When we worked on making 'Find the Music in the Treetops' a rock piece to fit, it turned out very much like the baseline 'Got the Music in Me'," mused Rainbow. "Of course, Fluttershy wrote them both, so I guess it only goes to show..."
The yellow pegasus mumbled something about how strange it is to collaborate with yourself once removed.
"What about non-equestrian songs," asked Trixie as she and Ditzy joined the group. "On reflection, Trixie's attempt with 'Won't Get Fooled Again' wasn't the best of choices; the long keyboard solo near the end only gave them time to recover."
"It didn't work that well," said Ditzy cheerfully, "but the looks on their faces when I broke out 'Never Gonna Give You Up' was worth it."
Sweetie Belle looked apologetically at her fellow Crusaders. "There was one time I thought I'd try going solo against the Dazzlings voice-to-voice. For the record, add the second 'Queen of the Night' aria from The Magic Flute to the 'Not such a good idea' list. It gets great audience reaction at first, but the text about vengeance, murder and all that..." She shook her head and shuddered.
"By the way," she went on. "I've got an idea for next time there's a lot of us there: Beethoven's 9th. I'd love to do the whole thing, but we'd probably have to settle for just the 4th movement. Would you be willing to try Zecora's poison joke potion as a human, Fluttershy? Big Mac isn't always eligible to participate, and the bass part is essential..."
126.15 (Kris Overstreet)
"I discovered a reference to this artifact shortly after resuming my studies with Princess Celestia," Sunset Shimmer said, leading Twilight Sparkle and the other Elements of Harmony down a corridor in the royal palace of the Crystal Empire. "Princess Cadence recently confirmed its existence, so I asked for you to come with me to examine it."
"It sounds really interesting!" Twilight replied. "An actual portal between worlds? I wonder what it must be like on the other side?"
The two Awake Loopers, Sunset and Twilight, were speaking for the benefit of the other five non-Awake ponies. They both knew all about the mirror and the world on the other side, but neither felt like explaining the Loops to the others this time around.
"The legends surrounding this mirror are fragmented," Sunset said as they walked through the doorway into a large storage room, where the mirror had just recently had its dust cover removed. "There are hints of strange creatures who live on the other side, without horns or wings or tails or even hooves."
"Do tell," Twilight grinned.
A voice from above shouted, "HUMANS, HERE I COME!"
The ponies on the ground looked up just in time to see a blue-green unicorn wrap her forehooves around a rope and swing down from a ledge. With flawless grace and precision she plunged down and forward, the arc carrying her just over the heads of the stunned ponies below. With a cry of triumph she released the rope and did a forward somersault into the mirror...
... and, with no apparent loss of momentum, right back out again, rolling to a stop at Twilight's hooves.
"Lyra, what are you DOING?" Twilight gasped. "You could have destroyed a priceless magical artifact!"
Lyra didn't pay any attention. She sat up, raised her forehooves, and looked at them with delighted wonder. "Hoooooooves," she said.
Sunset and Twilight looked at each other.
Lyra rose to stand on her hind legs. "Ponies!" she grinned, spreading her forelegs and half-rushing, half-stumbling forwards to give the entire group a great big hug. Twilight, in front, couldn't avoid the tackle. "Unicorns and pegasussessess and ponies with hats!" The unicorn somehow managed to lift Twilight up and pirouette around like a child with a doll, even though the recently alicorned Princess Twilight weighed slightly more. "And this one's wearing a crown! I bet you're some kind of magical princess pony, aren't you?"
Twilight looked down at Sunset Shimmer, whose return look said the same thing: Thank oak Lyra isn't like this every Loop.
"And I'm a pony now too!" Lyra grinned, dropping Twilight and looking at herself in the mirror portal. "I'm a magical unicorn pony! Oh, wow, I never, ever want to leave this- OOF!"
Lyra's gushing got cut short by the wobbling, stumbling arrival of a second Applejack through the mirror. "Dang, that's peculiar," the newcomer said to herself before looking around. "Um, excuse me," she said, "but I reckon we got somethin' that belongs to y'all."
On the other side of the portal, while the wind blew the rope dangling over the statue in the Canterlot High courtyard, Rainbow Dash and Rarity struggled to pry the former pony Lyra off of a catatonic Fluttershy.
"Thumbs!" Lyra shouted. "And clothes! And bipedal locomotion! And-" Lyra's hug became a bit more exploratory. "I don't remember reading anything about these things."
At about this point Fluttershy passed out cold in Lyra's arms, dragging the both of them to the ground.
Several Loops later, while Looping Lyra's body tried to bury its head in the bar table after hearing Twilight's story, the mental committee of Lyras convened in emergency session.
"I can't believe we were really that bad," pony-Lyra moaned.
"I can," Miscellaneous-Lyra grumbled. "Same with you, H. The two of you get scary sometimes."
"I agree," Seapony Lyra nodded. "And when you scare a seapony, then you've really got problems!"
"But how could we possibly have done a Tarzan swing into the portal at the EXACT SAME TIME?" human-Lyra groaned. "Without being Awake? Without a Mikasa glitch or something?"
"It's not really all that surprising," Sweet roll-Lyra said. "Where you get a mirror, you tend to get symmetry."
"What would a sweet roll know about symmetry?" pony-Lyra grumbled, holding her head in her hooves.
126.16 (Gamma Cavy)
Children of the Nightmare: part 1
It was a bit odd to Wake after the restoration of Luna to sanity, but not that unusual. It was actually stranger to Awaken after Chrysalis invaded, which had happened this time. She and Rainbow Dash were the only ones Awake, although there had been a peculiar echo form the element-ping, as if another Element was here, but not all the way awake yet. So far, everything was baseline. that changed rapidly, however, when she was jumped. if she had not been a Looper she would be helpless, as it was, she was intrigued. this had only happened once that she could recall, and so she let things play out as they would if she were a normal unicorn. Something about this was niggling at the back of her mind, as important, familiar somehow. The spell her captors were casting culminated in a thick cloud of black smoke, and suddenly the memory burst into clarity. This was a baseline Loop! It was Nyx's baseline! The smoke compressed into an orb, much more quickly than it had the first time, and wriggled. The extra element grew stronger, and Twilight knew: her precious Nyxie was Awake!
Lightning split the sky, and the orb shattered, revealing a half grown alicorn filly with a starry mane, hovering there, managing to look uncertain and intimidating at once, as she desperately figured out what was happening. He eyes fell on Twilight, and her glass like voice cried desperately "Momma!"
Spell Nexus choked. His Queen wasn't meant to appear as a half grown filly, nor was she supposed to call the Element of Magic, mother. Unknown to him the the two loopers thought of the same thing at once, and nodded ever so slightly to each-other. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY MOTHER!?" cried his queen, Her marvelous, terrible eyes focused on him.
"I have only prepared the way for your return, majesty." He begged, imploring her to understand. "and with the leader of the elements out of the way, your glorious night can be-"
"BOTHER MY NIGHT! MY MOTHER IS MAGIC, AS MAGIC WAS THE FIRST THING TO EXIST, AND NOW, WHEN SHE IS FINALLY INCARNATE AS A PONY, AND I MAY AT LAST SHOW HER THE WORLD, WITHOUT HER VERY PRESENCE TEARING IT ASUNDER, YOU HALF KILL HER MORTAL INCARNATION? IN DOING SO YOU PUT THE WHOLE OF MAGIC AT RISK! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY BLESSING!" Her mane lashed out, wrapping around him, and he screamed as the gift of Her power was torn away. She grew to full adult size then, as large as Celestia, and strode over to the Element of Magic.
"Mother," She said, lowering Her horn to the violet ponies' side, "remember your true self. Awaken, be healed. Ascend, High Queen of Life and Magic, and be healed of your wounding!" The limp form began to glow, the heavy wound in her side, which had stopped bleeding, now shrank, vanished, and wings began to form from the light around her. Spell Nexus found himself bound by the stone of the alter, which had covered over his legs up to the knee, as he thought to interfere. Golden light flared, and Celestia formed from it, attacking his queen, who threw her back. "NOBODY HURTS MY MOTHER! STAY BACK, SUN CHILD, I WON'T LET YOU HARM HER!"
126.17 (Gym Quirk & Kris Overstreet)
Luna Awoke sitting in a cafe booth singing quietly to herself.
No. Not just to herself. Two other humanoid figures, faces shrouded in hoodies, sat across the table from her. Their voices joined hers in an almost hypnotic unison. She could feel a mild undercurrent of hostility and anger from the other cafe patrons. More disturbingly, she seemed to be gaining some form of sustenance from it.
Well, she was certainly no stranger to these emotions, and the occasional changeling loop had given her experience as an emotivore. Still, as loop memories and realization of who she was replacing this loop set in, she was just a tad disconcerted.
"Tia...Blaze...?" murmured the one directly across from her. She pushed back her hood, revealing enormous twin pigtails in familiar pastel blue, green, purple and pink. "Well, sister, at least this pendant seems to have taken care of my singing problem for the moment. I wonder if I can keep it so I don't need to rely on heartsongs in the shower..."
The third booth occupant released her rose, yellow, and violet ponytail. "And I get stuck as the comic relief ditz," grumbled Cadance Dusk.
"How do you two want to play this?" asked Luna Dazzle, freeing her own considerably larger-than-usual hairdo. "Do we go along, or derail?"
"I'm half tempted to see how Sunset would react if we serenaded her with 'You'll Play Your Part'," mused Celestia.
In the distance, the light show at Canterlot High started. The trio moved out to the street to get a better look. "It's rather pretty when you're not on the receiving end," said Luna absently. The other (usually) princesses nodded. Over the loops, all had experienced the Harmony Wave-Motion Gun.
"So mild derailment to experiment with songs?" suggested Cadance.
I'm assuming that you are Awake and in possession of the counterpart to this book.
There's an interesting twist to the usual Dazzlings situation. Things were running pretty much as expected until I was called to meet with the new students. As soon as I saw the three in the foyer, I realized that there had been replacements. After very cordial greetings, they treated me to a little song. I think you might recognize it.
You've come such a long, long way
And I've watched you from that very first day...
It was quite touching.
So if you've been wondering what your fellow princesses are up to this loop...
Please feel free to visit when you have the time. I believe the upcoming music festival will be wonderful.
Hope to see you soon,
P.S. Luna with big poofy hair is an interesting sight. I'll show you holovids later if you can't come and see her for yourself.
"So, I got Eiken," Celestia sighed. "Where did you girls end up again?"
"Teletubbies," Luna grumbled. "Remind me to tell Twilight that SkyNet said hello."
"Generation One," Cadence said smugly. "Being the comic relief has its advantages! All hail me, the brave and wise Megan McCadence!"
Celestia sighed again. "And I so wanted to keep the amulet to see if it worked for me in baseline. Next time, I'm pocketing it as soon as I'm Awake."
Vinyl Scratch walked past, noticed the low faces on two out of three alicorns in the corner of the bar, and asked, "So, what went wrong this time?"
"For future reference," Celestia said, "when replacing the Dazzlings, 'We Will Rock You' is an extremely unwise choice of songs."
"Sheeya, I coulda told you that!" the DJ unicorn grinned. "I slipped it on the playsheet a few Loops back for the Rainbooms. When we hit the guitar solos at the end, reality just fell apart in shards, and me and all the other Awake ponies got a free trip to Gen-3-land."
Obviously caught up in the memory, Vinyl began tapping a hoof on Mac's bar floor in a particular rhythm.
dres-ses (stomp stomp)
in style (stomp stomp)
dres-ses (stomp stomp)
in style (stomp stomp)
The cellar doors to Mac's bar flew open to reveal two ponies. Rainbow Dash's eyes had gone from their usual pinkish to deep blood red. Pinkie Pie's entire face was turning almost the exact same shade.
Both ponies pointed a hoof at Vinyl Scratch and shouted, "YOU BROKE A PINKIE PROMISE!!!"
"Whoops! Gotta go!" Vinyl muttered, and she teleported out of the bar a split second before Rainbow Dash's flying tackle passed through the space where she'd been standing.
continuation of 123.11
"I need it!"
"I really like her mane!"
Applebloom 'uh oh'd'. Maybe casting that spell on Twilight's old doll wasn't such a good idea after all...
"TWILIGHT SPARKLE!" boomed Celestia as she dispelled the want it need it spell-or tried to; the ponies just kept on stirring up dust clouds with their fighting. She frowned, and tried again, putting a bit more energy into her efforts; still no effect.
Then the ugly, old, Rustic, MostAdorableImportantInterestingMemorableDoll in the Universe sailed past her eyes, and she squeed like a filly as she gripped it in her magic, brought it to her chest, and hugged it.
Twilight discreetly took a picture of the snoring Celestia after dispelling the modified Want it Need it. "Don't worry Applebloom, you're not in trouble."
"Ahm not?" asked Applebloom as she poked her head around a corner.
"Nah. I'm just going to tell you a few stories. Once upon a time, a unicorn mare cast a spell without knowing what it would do. Zombie hands reached out from the earth and grabbed her, dragging her under the earth. Once upon a time, a unicorn stallion cast a spell without knowing what it would do. He exploded. Bits of unicorn rained down all over the town. Once upon a time, a unicorn mare cast a spell without-"
"STOP! STOP I GET IT I GET IT!" yelled Applebloom, who was turning rather green.
Twilight walked over. "I suppose I'm partially to blame, I should have given you the safety lecture when we started. Well, now you know why not to cast spells without knowing what they do."
Celestia snored again, which provoked a giggle from Twilight. "Though we might need to apologize to Celestia when she wakes up. She's unlikely to forget today's events any time soon."
Twilight's eye twitched at the aftermath of what was once her home, now a new entrance to Tartarus.
Applebloom and Trixie looked sheepishly at her.
"Well, Ah'd made sure to know what would happen this time..."
Sunset Shimmer walked into Big Macintosh's bar with a thousand yard stare. He just waited for her to open up.
"Is Granny Smith looping?"
"Nope. Why do you ask?"
"Well, when the Dazzlings showed up in the Cafeteria singing about turning the music festival into a battle of the bands, the human Granny Smith yelled, 'MUCKLE DAMRED CULTI 'AIR EH NAMBLIES BE KEEPIN' ME WEE MEN!?!?' and then..."
Sunset gesticulated wildly with her hooves. Big Mac moved to cut this off.
"Before you ask, none of us, not even Pinkie Pie know when she's like this."
"We are never speaking of this loop ever again."
"But having both Granny Smiths go Old Mare Henderson-"
"NEVER AGAIN DOES NOT MEAN FIVE! SECONDS! LATER!"
Big Macintosh looked up as the First Doctor entered his bar.
Followed by the Second Doctor.
Followed by the Third Doctor.
Followed by the Fourth Doctor.
Followed by the Fifth Doctor.
Followed by the Sixth Doctor.
Followed by the Seventh Doctor.
Followed by the Eighth Doctor
Followed by the War Doctor.
Followed by the Ninth Doctor.
Followed by the Tenth Doctor.
Followed by the Eleventh Doctor.
Followed by the Twelfth Doctor.
With all the quiet grace and dignity he could muster, Big Mac proceeded to scream like a little filly.
Sunset Shimmer looked up at Spike with a wry grin. "I can't believe you've never tried going kaiju as a dog before."
Spike would have responded, but human Fluttershy was busy scratching an itch behind his ears just right, made all the more easier considering he was now closer in size to Clifford.
Twilight looked up as her contact book with Sunset Shimmer vibrated. The two had long since acquired technology from the loops which could perform a superior job, but Sunset had often said that she had preferred it for nostalgic reasons. Flipping it open, she began to read.
Dear Twilight Sparkle,
I have decided to become a supervillain. As such, I have kidnapped Nyx and Lemon Rush and brought them to Canterlot High. For further details on their plight, I will let them convey the horrors they are experiencing.
Hi Momma! Aunt Sunset and Lemon are busy preparing to go after the Dazzlings first. Don't worry, she didn't so much kidnap us as bribe us heavily. ~ Nyx.
Please tell Little Mother I am well. We have made adequate preparations for the impending hunt. We shall comport ourselves properly, and come back in high honor. ~ Lemon Rush.
Tremble in fear due to our evil plans, Twilight Sparkle. I shall unleash an unspeakable evil unto the Dazzlings with great vengeance and furious anger!
Kisses and Hugs,
Twilight chuckled. "Well, what's the worst that could happen?"
126.24 (Leviticus Wilkes)
MLP Loop: Derp Vader
Derpy Hooves was many things. A truly good-hearted pony. A decent flier, all things considered; one certainly good enough to replace Rainbow Dash in the Equestrian Games. And she was also a living engine of destruction, but that went without saying.
The latter trait did, at times, lead to some serious issues. Take for example, her time as Derp Vader.
Now, Derpy was rarely outright malicious. She often did her best to be a kind, friendly pony who understood others as much as she could, situations that would lead to the possible harm of her daughter notwithstanding. But when Derpy had Awoken just as Senator Palpatine cum Darth Sidious had put the finishing touches on her bio-suit and invited her to feel the death of Dinky through the force, Derpy made a decision.
She would make the Empire a galactic hell.
Now, her plans could be considered a fair bit ruthless, but they did stem from two goals. The first would be the delegitimization of the Empire as a ruling entity, effectively justifying the rebellion against Palpatine and giving the people a better preparation for the return of the Republic. The second was more personal; she intended to screw Palpatine's plans hard by ruining the Empire as thoroughly as possible. When all was said and done, the Empire would be practically medieval, while the Rebellion would be the only legitimate system of governance in the galaxy.
She was Derpy Hooves, bringer of the Derpolcalypse, Causer of Obliteration, and Lover of Muffins. How hard could it be?
"Could I have a little more light, please?" Twilight, daughter of Charlemagne, found herself requesting. A brief check of her memories... Ah. If she had identified this correctly, this wouldn't be too hard to make a vacation loop. There might even be some new books on the shelves here.
"Gentle tutors, respected members of the faculty, I'm very grateful for the knowledge you have given me, and will continue receiving as long as you continue giving. I appreciate the distinguishment of being named Scholar of the House, and will be sure to live up to it. Thank you all so very much."
The crowd of actors surrounding her muttered amongst themselves.
"Twilight, that isn't your line." The Leading Player glowered at her.
She shrugged. "It is now."
His tone grew pleading. "But aren't you extraordinary? Don't you want to find something completely fulfilling?"
Ah, but dying in a fire wasn't fulfilling. Books were. Twilight merely grinned. "I already have. Education is a wonderful thing, you see." With that, she trotted offstage, presumably so the scene could change to a library.
Surprised by the abrupt loop end, Twilight blinked at the book in front of her. In hindsight, she should have known. The play couldn't very well continue with the actors' plans certainly foiled; next time, she would have to try and keep them thinking they had a chance.
126.26 (Borderline Valley)
Pete and Rainbow Dash sat in a boat.
“Uh, hello,” said the Pegasus, looking around herself as if for the first time. “I guess you’re Pete then?”
Pete nodded. “That’s me. You’re new around here. Where you from?”
“I’m from Equestria, you heard of it?”
“Nope,” Pete shook his head, leaned over, and shoved Rainbow Dash off of the boat and into the water with a loud splash.
“What gives?” sputtered the pegasus upon resurfacing.
Who was left?
“Pete: one, Equestria: zero.”
Pete and Fluttershy sat in a boat.
“Oh, well this is new,” began Fluttershy, “hello there, my name is Fluttershy, are you Pete?”
Pete nodded. “That’s me. You’re from Equestria, right?”
The pegasus nodded, smiling. The smile vanished a little as Pete reached over to her-
“What are you-”
-and shoved her over the side of the little fishing boat.
A pair of blue eyes re-surfaced and stared soulfully at the perpetrator.
Who was left?
“Pete: two, Equestria: zero.”
Pete and Rarity sat in a boat.
“Now where am I ex-” began the unicorn, before the realization hit. “Oh, it’s you!”
She glared at the human sitting across from her, before her horn abruptly lit up.
Pete suddenly found himself teleported four feet to the left, and was introduced to the bracing chill of the morning lake water.
Who was left?
“Just what do you have to say for yourself, buster? How do you like being-”
Pete and Applejack sat in a boat.
Neither of them spoke. Neither of them moved.
It was a nice day, out on the lake. The sun was shining, the fish were starting to rouse, even the water seemed to reflect a good mood.
Aside from an old wooden fishing dock along the shore, there was no sign of civilization anywhere. There were just two creatures, the human and the earth pony, staring each other down across a fishing boat too small for the both of them.
Applejack broke the silence first. “This is a game to you. Innit?”
Pete replied easily with a grin, “You bet.”
It was hard to say who moved first. Applejack reared up and planted both legs on Pete’s shoulders, trying to shove him backwards into the water. Pete braced himself against the rim of the boat with his feet and tried to twist out of the way, letting her momentum carry her overboard.
In the space of mere seconds, the two of them danced around the tiny little boat, unable to do much more than reposition themselves in response to each other.
With four feet and a lower center of gravity, Applejack seemed to have the advantage, and soon had Pete on the ropes!
In what seemed to be a desperation move, Pete pulled an identical boat out of his pocket, and hopped into it, pulling the old one in to replace it.
Applejack, suddenly finding herself with nothing to stand on, began to fall. “Hey! That’s chea-” and was cut off by a mouthful of lake-water.
Who was left?
“Pete: three, Equestria: one.”
Pete and Pinkie Pie sat in a boat.
It took only forty five minutes before Pete dived headfirst overboard.
Who was left?
“Awww, but I thought he liked to play games?”
Twilight Sparkle and Repeat sat in a boat.
The unicorn blinked. “Never thought I’d end up here,” she commented, before casting a binding spell on the human across from her. “Do you think you could answer a few questions before we play this game?”
Repeat looked rather amused by this. “I take it you’ve met Pete.”
“Not me personally, but my friends each have had an experience with him, yes. He’s the anchor here, right?”
“That’s right,” Repeat affirms, “I bet he didn’t hash out any rules with you guys either? Just started shoving you overboard?”
“That seems to be what happened, yes.”
“Ah, well. I and he have a bunch of rules for our game but the most general ones are ‘nothing lethal’ and ‘no sinking the boat’. The loop doesn’t handle it well if there is no boat. Think you can untie me?”
After thinking about it for a moment, Twilight agreed and removed her spell. “Sure. How long can this loop last, anyway?”
“Thanks.” Repeat stretched a little before answering. “It lasts until one of us leaves the boat, so anywhere from a few seconds to a few weeks if we feel like it.”
“Weeks?” Twilight frowned, looking at the scenery. “Is there much to do out here?”
“We’re not always in a closed lake like this. Sometimes we’re on a river and just explore the whole thing before we go back to playing the game.”
Twilight smiled. “That sounds like it could be fun. Would you like to-” she began, turning to ask her new friend, but he had taken advantage of her distraction, and had just shoved her overboard.
Who was left?
Twilight scowled at Repeat from the water. “You realize this means war?”
He smirked. "Repeat: one, Equestria: zero."