7. End Game
"Discord!" Twilight Sparkle snarled. "I don't know how you got here, but you made a mistake revealing yourself like this. We know how to beat you! Formation everyone!"
The ponies gathered around Twilight as they began to energize the Elements of Harmony. Discord grinned as the weapon that defeated him before began to energize. Across his body, six panles opened up. Light was visible from within them as he waited...even going so far as to create a bullseye on his chest.
At first, Twilight was nervous about this - when he'd done it last, the Elements hadn't worked on him - but she shoved it aside. As the gathered power was unleashed, the rainbow of light bathed Discord...and when it passed, he smiled at them all. Crystals had extended from the openings on his body, glowing in the colors of the Elements...and each crystal had one of the elemental symbols on it.
Twilight and the others staggered back. "It's...it's not possible..."
Discord laughed. "Thanks for the recharge. Since you were so kind as to give me a power boost...I think I'll tell you how this all came to be." Leaning back, he grinned. "You see, when Celestia and Luna bound me in stone, my body was trapped...but my spirit could wander. Though weaker than my body was originally, I could still sow a little chaos...at least enough so that when three young friends tussled in my presence, I was able to break free. But you six..." He laughed wickedly. "You six turned my body completely to stone. My old body is defunct, unusable. ...so I went to find a new one.
"At first, I searched through several worlds, seeking a way to reenergize so I could create my new body...until I found a world that existed between worlds, one those who made use of it called...the Internet." He shuddered in pleasure. "It amazed me. How could anywhere be so full of chaos? Flame wars, memes, arguements...this world had aspects of all worlds within it, viewed in any number of ways. This world seemed forged of the power of imagination, and other worlds were born from it. People argued and fought, about everything from the right way to guide their own world to which of you six was 'best pony.' I found it amusing that those who professed such loyalty to your tenants of friendship, love, and tolerance...could also be the source of such delicious chaos! I reveled there for longer than I should, I admit, learning of your adventures after my defeat, and of other things. But then the flow of chaos guided me to a new world...this one.
"This world drew me. It thrives on chaos. Even the primary mystic relic is so named...the chaos emeralds. This world was perfect for me...if I could only find a vessel with which to rebuild myself." He grinned at Eggman. "I have you to thank for that, Doctor. You created a special device inside Metal Sonic to house his personality program...but how could you possibly know that in doing so, you gave him a soul. Of course a being with a soul would rebel against one who enslaved him. When I found him - caged, bound, and shut down - I spoke with him and offered him a deal. He leaped at the chance for freedom before he learned the cost. With his personality suppressed to nothing...he made the perfect vessel.
"But that wasn't the end of what you gave me, Doctor. The device that housed his soul - and now mine - was the perfect design for my purposes...since it was the exact same design as the original vessels of the Elements of Harmony. You wondered why the Metal Ponies didn't rebel? It was because they were not true independent entities...they were extensions of Metal Sonic...of me.
"Metal Dash was a test, and I put all the crystals I would need for my project into her before sending her to Equestria. There, she took Rainbow Dash's place and fulfilled her objectives...acquiring the energy of the elements of harmony from their bearers."
Discord turned to the shocked ponies, smiling. "It was rather easy for most of you. Magic - the most unpredictable - was easiest, since you use it so much, Twilight Sparkle. Honesty and Laughter were almost pathetically easy to acquire; every time you spoke true Applejack, or you laughed or brought laughter, Pinkie Pie, I got what I needed." He smirked at Rarity. "I have no idea why, but Generosity in its purest form was easiest to harvest from you when you were with Spike. I wonder why?" He laughed as Rarity hid a blush and Spike looked at her in confusion and shock.
"But Kindness...for some reason I wasn't able to charge that crystal. And the crystal for Loyalty wasn't charging either. So Metal Dash brought those two elements here...as well as Fluttershy. At this point, I admit, I had abandoned capturing the elements completely, and thought four would be enough to protect me...but then you played so easily into my hands.
"You, Rainbow Dash: I knew that it would be a struggle for you to choose between Sonic and Fluttershy...and it allowed me to absorb plenty of your element, almost more than I needed." He smiled wickedly, showing all his mismatched teeth. "But it was you, Fluttershy, who truely made this possible. You see, Eggman had been so cruel to you: kidnapped you, cruelly bound and gagged you, and then went to terrorize you further. ...but at his lowest point, you showed him kindness.
"At the time, I'd figured that I could just break the power of Harmony by having Metalshy kill Rainbow Dash. But because of teh kindness you showed Eggman - and the kindness he showed you in return - the crystal for Kindness blazed brightly. Because of you, I was able to turn the power of the Negative Harmony against Sonic's friends...and absorb the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Because of you, my dear, I am truely invincible now...for everything that could have destroyed me is now a part of me."
He laughed uproariously as the ponies pulled away, plainly frightened, and FLuttershy seemed to wilt, mumbling apologies to her friends. "But now, I'd say it's time to start this show, wouldn't you say?" He pulled a top hat and cane out of nowhere. "5, 6, 7, 8!
"Don't bother getting up you're in my control
No way for you to fuss and fight"
A device extended from the back of his head as he danced and sang. The music it emitted wore on the ears, carrying fear and madness.
"I've taken all your powers - so, lucky you
You will be in my show tonight."
As Rainbow Dash charged him, he backhanded her away easily.
"You think you can defeat me - oh, how very droll!
Well heroes there's one thing you should know:"
Twilight tried to cast a spell on him, but nothing happened.
"I am the one with magic powers here,
I am the one who runs the show!!!"
He proceeded to dance and sing, warping the world around him and elsewhere. In her own world, Blaze was confused as a Cheezburger landed on her head. A panel in the sky opened, allowing a cat to peek through. Narwhals fell from the sky, babbling about the force.
"I am the master of ceremonies,
So let me set you straight:
With just a wave of my magic paw, I'm...
Master of your fate!"
On the last line, his eyes glowed. Shadows poured off of him, taking on the form of shadow versions of each of the ponies, dancing for him.
"With just some hocus-pocus and -" He made one of his hands briefly dissapear "-sleight of hand,
You all are under my command."
The shadows began to stalk towards the ponies as they backed away.
"Put them in their nightmares!
Keep them all apart!
Places everypony, the show's about to start!"
He danced back as the shadow ponies began to sing.
"He is the master of ceremonies,
So let him set you straight:
With just a wave of his magic paw, he's..."
Shadow Twilight leapt into her.
"Master of your fate!"
Twilight Sparkle leaned back upon her throne, grinning in pleasure. She wondered how she had come to be here, but then she knew. She had earned this place, becoming the supreme magical power Equestria had ever seen. She had studied the books and ancient scrolls long and hard, and no magic was ever beyond her skills.
Then she dove into an older archive, and learned spells of even greater power. The cost of these spells had worried her at first, but then she had tasted their power, and she wanted more.
Other mages had stood in her way, envious of her power, trying to stop her, trying to hold her back...they were all gone now, dead at her horn, their power added to her own. Celestia and Luna...Zacora...Cadence...Rarity...even Shining Armor had tried to stop her, but he had only fed her hunger for power.
Her throne was built of the bones of her foes, and all of Equestria bowed to her mystic might. She laughed her triumph...and deep inside her true self, that unpitying laughter erased her soul.
Shadow Rarity leapt into her.
"Master of your fate!"
Rarity sat upon a great pile of gemstones, gloating over her treasure. It was hers, all hers. She was told it was all the jewels in Equestria...but she didn't believe those lying fools. She knew there was more. She drove them with magic to look even harder. She would not rest until all the jewels of the world were hers and hers alone.
Glancing down, she saw her former friends struggling, trying to cart heavy loads behind them. Her tail lashed, making them work faster to feed her desires.
Glancing into a mirror, she did not see her pony self. She saw the rampaging, crude beast her consuming greed had turned her into: a savage, white dragon with dark blue spines. In the back of teh reflection, she saw a purple claw - very small - just barely sticking out of the pile of gemstones.
Regaining herself for a moment, she dug through the treasure...only to find Spike was no longer among the living. He had starved amongst plenty, as he preferred to die than displease her by eating her treasure.
Shadow Applejack leapt.
"Master of your fate!"
Applejack wandered deserted streets. She saw people in the buildings, but as she approached, she saw each and every door and window slam in her face. She couldn't understand it. Why was everypony being so unfriendly to her? As she felt her stomach rumble, she raced for a door that wasn't yet closed.
"Please," she begged, "can't you just let me in for a bite to eat?"
The pony at the door snorted. "What? So you can later spill our secrets to anyone who asks? Just like you did your friends and family?" The door was slammed in her face.
"Wha-" Applejack stepped back, shocked. She wouldn't share people's secrets...would she? She may insist on being honest, but that was taking it too far. She weren't no Gabby Gums, after all.
As she thought of that, she saw a familiar face walking by. "Applebloom!" she called out, running towards her. "Can you spare your big sister an apple or two?" she asked, looking at Applebloom's full bags.
Applebloom glared at her with her eyes full of hate...just as Applejack had looked on her when she had been Gabby Gums. "I have no sister!" she snapped, turning to stomp away. The words were a knife in Applejack's heart, as she sank to the ground and wept.
Shadow Fluttershy leapt.
"Master of your fate!"
Fluttershy rushed to tend to everything around the house. There weren't any animals to tend to, but there were still chores. She had to clean the place up, take out all the trash, clean herself up...and she had to cook his dinner. He would be home soon.
Almost as soon as she finished cooking, he came in through the door. "Where's my dinner?" he shouted.
"Coming dear," she called back softly. "Just a minute-"
"I don't want it in a minute! I want it now!"
"I'll bring it right out!" She grabbed the meal and brought it to him. The lights were dim, and his face was hidden in shadow...but she knew what he looked like. She set his dinner on the table. "Here you are, dear. Do you like it?"
He glanced at it, then smacked the bowl, tossing some of it over her. "You expect me to eat this slop?" he shouted. "Is this all you can make for me?"
"I'm sorry," she whimpered, shrinking back. "I'll do better."
"You'd better!" he snapped. "If this is all there is," he said dismissively.
Fluttershy cringed, waiting for him to finish. After a time, he knocked the bowl away and went to the other room. She took the bowl back to the kitchen to clean it...until she heard shouting from the other room.
"YOU CALL THIS CLEAN!"
She came running in, shivering. He was angry. "I'm sorry, I'll do better-" She fell back as he kicked at her.
"That's what you say every day, but you never do it! You stupid, useless, pathetic excuse for a mare! What are you good for anyway? Why did I saddle myself with such a pathetic crybaby!" With each insult, he kicked at ehr again.
She crouched down as the kicks fell, sheiding her head with her forehooves and wings. "I'm sorry! I'll do better! I'll get it right! I'm sorry!"
Sonic and Rainbow Dash stared in shock as the others cowered in terror. Sonic had managed to disperse the shadow Rainbow Dash before it reached her, but everyone else's shadows had infused them, making them cringe and cower, whimpering various things.
Twilight Sparkle: "No, I wouldn't...I couldn't...I would never...I'm so sorry..."
Rarity: "Spike...everyone...I'm so sorry...I'm a monster..."
Applejack: "Discord was right...all truth ever does is hurt...I never shoulda talked like I did..."
Fluttershy: "I'm sorry...I'll be good...I'll do better...I won't fail again..."
Pinkie Pie: "No...not the cupcakes..."
They stared at them in shock...though Sonic was especially shocked to see Eggman next to Fluttershy, holding her gently and trying to reassure her.
Dischord began to sing to Sonic and Rainbow Dash.
"Now for the greatest grand finale
And the reason why you're here:"
He grinned as the color began to fade from the other ponies.
"Tonight I will make the Ponies...
He laughed maniacally for a time. Sonic suddenly pointed. "Dash! Thet thing on the back of his head! It's what's doing...whatever it is to your friends!" Sonic leaped to attack.
Dischord swung lion's paw out and seized Sonic out of the air. "How very right you are, Sonic." He squeezed, and the sound of cracking bones were drowned out by Sonic's scream. "And thank you for helping me make Rainbow Dash's nightmare...real." As he continued to squeeze, he turned to Dash. "So what's it going to be? You have time to save your friends...or Sonic. Which is it going to be?"
Dash froze, not knowing what to do, torn up inside as her own element was turned against her. Unnoticed by anyone, the Chaos Emeralds - still grey - began to slide across the ground towards her.
Discord laughed. "And you know, while you're deciding..." He tossed Sonic into the air. "I think I'll have a snack!" He opened his mouth wide.
As Sonic limply fell into Discord's mouth, something inside Dash snapped. She had to save them all!
The emeralds flew to her. There was a bright flash of rainbow colored light.
No one saw what happened next. One moment, everything seemed lost, and Sonic was about to be eaten. The next, Dash and the emeralds were nowhere to be seen, Discord's head was blasted apart, and the color was returning to the others as the nightmare was broken.
Discord's head repaired itself. "WHAT?" he demanded. "How is this possible?"
Eggman was pointing into the sky. Where he pointed, a figure floated. All that was visible were white-gold wings folded, covering the body entirely, and a flowing rainbow corona.
Twilight Sparkle blinked as she looked up. "C...Celestia?" she said in disbelief.
There was a flash of golden light...and the wings unfolded. It was not Celestia that floated there, but Rainbow Dash, changed almost beyond recognition. Her fur had changed from Cyan to white gold, and her mane and tail were much longer and fuller, seeming to flow around her. The colors of her mane and tail also flowed, as though a liquid rainbow poured from her. In her arms was Sonic, his body no longer broken and glowing with the golden light of the chaos emeralds. Smiling, he floated out of her arms. Then they both gazed down at Discord, ready to fight.
Discord sneered. "Well, this is unexpected..." The world around them seemed to shift, and suddenly they were all on Angel Island, and Discord was wrapped around the Master Emerald. "But not entirely unaccounted for. While designing the metal ponies, I decided to include in Metal Sonic one of the more useful features of one of his prototypes...after upgrading it." Energy from the Master Emerald flowed into him rapidly. After a few moments, the Master Emerald was drained completely, and turned grey. Leaping free of it, Discord roared...and his body flashed gold. "Face me now if you can, heroes!" he proclaimed, flowing into the sky.
Rainbow Slash and Super Sonic charged after him, her wings cutting through the air like a hot knife through butter, his quills tearing at the air in his wake. They reached the area of sky Discord had chosen for his battlefield, and the sky was chaos. In trying to reach Discord, they had to manuever amongst any number of crazy obstacles: nyancats armed with machine guns, alien lasers, and giant fruit and sweets, in addition to the expected cotton candy clouds full of chocolate rain.
"You know," Sonic commented in an aside to Rainbow Slash, "if he weren't such a despicable villain, I'd like his style of chaos."
Slash rolled her eyes. "Keep your mind on the fight, Sonic."
As they evaded the obstacles, they reached Discord and began to strike at him. Unfortunately, they discovered that the majority of the energy was focused into rendering his outer skin impenetrable. Despite landing numerous hits, they weren't inflicting any damage. And while they were all powered by the chaos emeralds at this point, it was plain that Dischord knew how to use that power better than they did. If things went on as they did, they'd run out of energy...and lose.
Down below, everyone had recovered to a certain extent. While most were watching the fight above, feeling helpless, one was trying to do something.
"Chaos is power...power is enriched by the heart...the master is the one who unifies the chaos...dammit! Work, gods curse you!" Knuckles pounded his fist on the inert Master Emerald.
Twilight Sparkle came over. "That sounded like a spell. What's it supposed to do?"
Knuckles sighed. "When the Master Emerald has energy inside, it activates it, and neutralizes the power of the chaos emeralds. I though maybe I could use it to neutralize Discord...but it simply hasn't any power!"
Twilight stared at the Master Emerald for a time. "Chaos is power..." she mumbled under her breath. "Power is enriched by the heart...heart...harmony is the power that seals chaos..." Her eyes widened. "Girls! Over here! I have an idea!"
The other ponies ran over. "What are we gonna do? Huh? Huh?" Pinkie Pie seemed as un daunted as ever...although there were shadows in her eyes she was obviously trying to supress.
"No time to explain! Put your element against the Master Emerald and chant with me!" She leaned her crown against the Master Emerald.
Confused, the others did as directed, taking the stone in their necklace and holding it against the Master Emerald. They all began to chant as Twilight directed them.
"Chaos is power...power is enriched by the heart...the heart of harmony unifies the chaos...by the strength of harmony, awaken."
"Honesty," Applejack said strongly.
"Generosity," Rarity spoke, a deep sadness in her eyes as she held Spike to her.
"Kindness," Flutershy spoke softly, leaning on Ivo to help her stand.
"Laughter," Pinkie Pie said, her face serious.
Up above, Rainbow Slash spoke without knowing why. "Loyalty."
Down below, Twilight Sparkle spoke. "Magic."
They chanted anew. "By the Power of Harmony, Awaken!"
The light returned to the Master Emerald and it began to spin rapidly, a pure white light building within it.
Suddenly, white light filled the eyes of the five surrounding it, and they chanted in one voice that belonged to none of them.
"Power of water, wind and earth,
Send the beast back to his birth!
Raise the fire to free the sword
To severe the binds of fate's cord!"
The light erupted from the Master Emerald, shooting into the heavens. It struck Sonic and Rainbow Slash, and they were enveloped. When the light passed, they had changed.
Sonic flashed with an endless rainbow of colors, as sparkles of light surrounded his body, driving back the chaos Discord crafted. Rainbow's wings had grown even larger, and shown with all the colors that existed, and all those that did not. Her mane and tail were now coronas of rainbow light that surrounded her body. A pure white horn rose from her head, spiraling gracefully, letting shine the full power of harmony.
Hyper Sonic and Rainbow Strike gazed upon Discord, all hate gone from them as they now knew what they had to do. They shot upward into the heavens, faster than light.
"What is this?" Discord demanded, then gaped as the moon passed before the sun, casting him in shadow.
At the center point of the solar eclipse - equidistant between Earth and Moon - Sonic and Strike raised their hands and gathered the power - chaos, harmony, and magic - into a single sphere. When all the power was gathered, they pointed it downwards and spoke in a single voice. "CHAOS...REQUIEM!"
A corruscating double rainbow of light blasted downward, shifting and flowing, hunting for Discord.
Seeing it coming, he laughed. "Oh please," he said derisively. "You already tried harmony." He opened the panels to expose the crystals, ready to absorb the power. As the rainbow passed over him, he flinched. "What? This...this isn't harmony!"
As the power flowed over him, the crystals tried to absorb it...and shattered, one by one. The chaos energy drove the power of the chaos emeralds out of him, and the magic bound him in place.
On the tail of the rainbow, Hyper Sonic and Rainbow Strike dove, hand in hand, spinning around each other, focusing all their power into a single moment. As Discord cried out in frustration...they dove into his mouth and - moments later - punched out through his tail. After a few moments, Metal Discord exploded in a blazing aroura that expanded outward, as a Sonic Rainboom was distorted by Sonic Wind.
As the pieces of the villain crashed to the ground, Hyper Sonic and Rainbow Strike landed on the ground near their friends, gently touching down, gazing upon their handiwork.