Epilogue: Building the Future
"Apples! Get yer apples and apples treats, straight from Sweet Apple Acres! We got cider, too!"
Applejack continued to sell her wares at Station Square. It was amazing how well her wholesome sweets and treats sold here. She smiled, hands on her hips. She knew coming to Mobius would be a great way to drum up some extra business. When she got back home, they might actually have to expand the farm to provide for all the extra demand. Since there was a pause in the flow of customers, she decided to briefly close up shop for a time and explore the city.
She walked along, glancing around at her surroundings. This place was much bigger than Ponyville, but then, it WAS a city. She narvled at the buildings, much higher than anything in Equestria short of Canterlot palace. How could people live so cramped? She shook her ehad. She just couldn't understand city folk, ponies or otherwise. As she walked, she noticed a strange gathering of people holding signs and various other paraphenalia. What really drew her attention, though, was that they were chanting...and what they were chanting.
"Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy makes our hearts fly!"
"Eh?" Applejack walked forward, taking a closer look. Everyone in the group was either holding or wearing something that had Fluttershy's picture - as a Mobian - on it. She approached one of the outliers. "What in tarnation's goin on here?"
The man turned to her. "It is wonderful news! FLuttershy is gracing Station Square with a visit! Her Mobile Manor will be docking at the docks within the hour!" The man was obviously consumed with some form of superfandom, as he actually began to foam at the mouth in excitement.
Applejack stepped back. "Man...I knew Fluttershy'd come here to live...but what has she pulled off this time?" She headed for the docks and saw something that made her gasp.
It was the size of any of the skyscrapers, but it flew! From the style of the tech, she knew it was an Eggman construction, but it wasn't a war fortress. If anything, it looked like a cross between a temple and a castle. She started to approach, but a mettalic arm blocked her path.
"Sorry sugar, but not just anyone gets into her majesty's presence, don'tcha know." The speaker was a bunnygirl with a southern accent. She had brown fur, blond hair, and green eyes...and three of her four limbs were metal. WHen she saw Applejack staring, her eyes went hard. "And what're you staring at, hun? Never seen a war vet before?"
"It's alright, Bunnie," a voice said from the other side of the gate. A large white bunny, standing at least six feet tall and at least as wide, with muscles that looked like they could tear through steel. "We can let her in."
Bunnie turned to look at him. "You sure about that, Angel?"
As Bunnie opened the gate, Applejack stared at the white rabbit. "Angel? Little Angel?" She couldn't believe it.
Angel nodded. "Yes, Applejack. This is what I look like in this world." He guided her inside, Bunnie following. "By the way, this is my mate, Bunnie Rabbot."
Applejack turned. "Bunnie...Rabbot?"
Bunnie shrugged. "It's a nickname, sugar. I lost both legs and my arm in the war. When the Lady started her movement, she heard about me, and her Doctor friend built me these prosthetics." She worked her metal arm for a time. "Gave me my life back. They work just like the old ones did...even feel like 'em. Didn't know how I'd pay for em...then she said it was her pleasure to help." Bunnie smiled. "I knew they were workin to change the world, so I signed up. The Doc was worried for the Lady's safety, so I joined her bodyguards...along with Angel." She smiled up at Angel.
Angel smiled down at her, then knocked on a door. "Your Holiness," he called. "A friend to see you."
"I've told you not to call me that!" A familiar voice shouted from inside the room as the door opened. "It's bad enough the whole world now looks at me like I'm some kind of holy saviour, when all I wanted to do was help that little boy who was being bullied." Fluttershy looked rather harried, but she smiled. "Applejack! So good to see you!" She pulled Applejack into a fierce embrace. "This is all so much, I don't know how I can handle it all, it's so good to see one of my old friends again!"
"Easy, sugarcube, easy!" Applejack gently extricated herself from the embrace and looked at Fluttershy. She was dressed only in a - the only word was priestly - white robe. "What in tarnation is goin on here?"
Fluttershy calmed herself down. "Come out onto the balcony. Ivo and I will explain." She led Applejack out onto the balcony.
A robot poured refreshment for Ivo Robotnik, Fluttershy, and Applejack. Applejack was touched to see that it was Sweet Apple Acres reserve cider. "So, what is all this then, Fluttershy?" she asked again. "I thought you couldn't stand being a fasion model. How'd you get involved in religion?"
Fluttershy blushed. "It was...kind of an accident. I saw a young boy getting bullied when I came here to visit Ivo...and I got in the middle, called the boys on their behavior...then I found myself speaking to a large group, talking to them about love and tolerance...next thing I know I'm held up as a new spiritual leader." She blushed.
Ivo continued. "When she came to see me afterwards, we talked for a time...and I told her a bit about how the world was at the time, how it had been in the past...she knew already that I wanted to bring a beneficient reign to the world, but had to rely on force to take power since I lacked charisma. When we saw what she ahd there...we decided to give social movement a try."
Applejack blinked. "So you talked the whole world into following you, Fluttershy? Somehow, I can see that. So, how long'd it take? A year? Two?"
Fluttershy was really embarrassed now. "...three months."
Applejack choked on her cider. "Three months?"
"To be fair," Ivo said, "two of those months were the politicians of the UN arguing about the exact form of the new world government so no one's ego would be bruised when the reins of power were handed over." Ivo chuckled. "At first, she was just a charismatic leader bringing the world together...but after she shamed the terrorists into surrender, rumors went around that she was god-touched, and the whole thing took on the force of religion."
Fluttershy was bright red. "It's not funny, Ivo. I'm just an ordinary pony..."
"An ordinary pony who's conquered the world!" Pinkie Pie said suddenly, popping down from the sky.
"Wah!" Applejack cried, falling backward. "Pinkie! Where'd you come from?"
"Silly Applejack! I'm hanging from the air ducts, obviously!"
"But were outside," Ivo pointed out.
"Oh," Pinkie Pie said. "Then I must have a crane or something. Oh! Or maybe the cargo hook from Tails plane!" She nodded, seeming satisfied with that answer.
Fluttershy blinked. "Did...you have those things when you first popped in?"
"How the hay should I know, FLuttershy? You can't expect me to keep track of such picky details! Laters!" She dissappeared back upward.
Applejack sighed. "That's Pinkie Pie for you."
"Have you seen Pinkie Pie?" Tails suddenly asked, leaning through an orange hole in the sky. "We were working on this new project when she warped again..." He glanced at the orange ring. "Huh. THis design is only supposed to work if there's a wall. I need to take it apart and see what's different from the plans..."
"And add it to the plans?" Ivo asked, rolling his eyes.
Tails blinked. "I was gonna say fix it, but that's even better!" Grinning, he dissappeared back through the hole, closing it behind him.
Ivo groaned. "Putting those two together in research may have been a bad idea in the long run."
Applejack laughed. "Well, it's amazing that you've come so far, Fluttershy. Just promise me you'll never try to take over Equestria too, okay?"
"Oh, we would never think to do that!" Fluttershy declared. "Right Ivo?" she asked pleasantly.
Ivo was staring at the sky, rubbing his chin, lost in thought.
Fluttershy's eyes hardened. "Right, Ivo?" she asked again, her voice hard.
"Oh, of course not dear!" he said quickly. "Never ever!" Applejack couldn't help but laugh.
Applejack stayed with them, chatting for a while, before returning to her shop. Opening back up, it wasn't long before she had more customers...and one in particular she noticed.
He was a purple mobian of uncertain ancestry. He had a sharp muzzle and mischevious eyes, and a gun hooked to his hip. His only garb was a rakish cowboy hat. He smiled as he came up to the bar (Applejack had this set up for the late night customers). "Pour me a cold one," he said pleasently.
Applejack smiled. "Sure thing, sugarcube." She poured him some hard cider. "Rough times?"
He shrugged. "Just for me. A world at peace doesn't exactly have a place for a mercenary/assassin."
Applejack chuckled. "Sorry my friend Fluttershy put you out of business."
He smirked. "I guess it was about time to settle down, anyway." He looked at her under his hat. "So you must have plenty of stories about our 'fearless' leader, huh?"
Applejack laughed. "I might just trade a few for some fo your adventures...what's your name, anyway?"
He patted the rifle strapped to his back. "I'm Fang the Sniper. You?"
"My name's Applejack!"
"Mmm..." He smiled suggestively at her. "I loves me a good applejack."
Applejack smiled slowly. "Are you flirting with me?" she asked coyly.
"And if I was?"
Applejack tossed her head. "I'd say I have other customers to see to." THen she smiled shyly. "But I'll be back." She returned to work, making a note to return to Sweet Apple Acres for more supplies...tomorrow. After another glance at Fang, she amended, late tomorrow.
Somewhere, she wasn't sure where, Rainbow Dash lay down on the beach chair, her hands under her chin, as Sonic applied the sun block. She moaned gently in pleasure. She wasn't sure why, but she always loved having his hands on her. Part of her knew, but as that part of her mind always made her blush, she shut it off for right now. "Where are we anyway, Sonic?" she asked pleasantly.
"Does it matter?" he asked softly.
She shrugged her shoulders. "Not really, I was just wondering if we would be able to come here again."
"We can come here as often as you like," he said. "Now roll over, so I can do your front."
She chuckled. "Naughty hedgehog," she said with a smile. "I'll take care of that." She laughed aloud at his playful pout. "So, this place on Mobius, or somewhere else? We've hopped between worlds so many times I'm not sure anymore." She began applying the sun block anywhere not covered by her rainbow bikini.
"It's not Mobius, but it's close enough," he said with a smile. "Easy enough to get to."
She glanced around. "This place is nice, that's for sure...would be a good place for a honeymoon, certainly." She grinned wickedly at Sonic.
He blushed. THey had been talking about things like this recently. "So...when did you want to hold the wedding?" he asked.
Glancing breifly at the ring on her finger, she shrugged. "Don't really care, as long as it's before we have foals."
Sonic glanced at her slyly. "How do you know our kids will be foals?" he asked.
"Because we're gonna have our family in Equestria," she said firmly.
Sonic smirked playfully. "And how come that's set in stone?"
Dash glowered. "Because I'M the one having the foals!" she said firmly.
Sonic backed up, putting his hands up in surrender. "Okay, I getcha!" He laughed easily.
Dash smiled. "Come on, let's swim!" She ran and dove into the crystal clear water, frolicing for a time. Eventually, they just floated for a whiel, Dash wrapping her arms around Sonic from behind. Leaning against him, she smiled. Sonic was right. This place was perfect...
"OY! Whadda you blokes think you're doin in my water, eh?"
...except for the interruptions.
"Oh, hey Sonic! What are you doin back here, mate? And who's the sheila?"
Rarity walked calmly along the road, glancing at her companion. Spike had grown up a bit since their days in Ponyville. He was now about the size of a pony...in main body, anyway. His neck and tail were quite long, allowing him to tower over her if he chose. "Spike," she asked him suddenly, "how is it that you have only grown this much?"
Spike smiled at her. "Dragons grow based on their horde. The more treasures they keep for themselves, the bigger they get, and the more their greed consumes them."
Rarity nodded. She remembered what had happened that one year after Spike's birthday. "And?"
His smile widened. "I only have one treasure I wish to keep," he said fondly, nuzzling her neck.
"Oh, Spike," she said happily, nuzzling him in return. They'd been on this journey around Equestria to discover themselves for a few months, ever since theystarted moving forward with their relationship...and it still surprised her just how sweet Spike could be.
"Rarity!" a voice called out happily, making Rarity jump.
"Mother?" she asked in shock, recognizing the voice. "Father?" she said, as she recognized the two who approached.
"Well fancy meeting you here!" her father said pleasantly. "What brings you here? And who's this fella?" This last was said with less pleasantness as he stared towards Spike.
Rarity winced. Although her parents tended to be...relaxed in a lot of things, they were rather conservative in others. She had hoped to arrange this particular meeting a little better...but there was no help for it now. "Mother, Father...this is Spike. My boyfriend."
Spike smiled. "A pleasure to meet you both at last," Spike said happily, extending a claw to shake.
Rarity's parents glanced towards him dissapprovingly. Before a word could be spoken, Rarity spoke up. "Mother, Father, can I speak to you in private for a minute?" She dragged them away to speak.
Her mother was first to speak. "Now Rarity...you do realize that's a dragon...right?"
Her father followed up, "Wouldn't you rather settle down with a nice stallion?"
Rarity glowered at them both. "Mother, Father, I love you both very much...but there is something I have to say to you both right now. If you want to have any part in the lives of your grandfoals...then you will quickly revise your opinion of the one I've chosen to be their sire. Is that understood?" Without waiting for an answer, she turned and stomped back to Spike.
As her father started to go after her, her mother caught his ear. "Dear...she means it. YOu know how stubborn the mares of this family can be. If you'll recall, my folks never really approved of you."
He nodded. "Yeah...which is why they've never met Rarity or Sweetie Belle."
She smiled. "Let's NOT make that mistake, shall we?"
He nodded. "Agreed. I can't say I like this, but...if he makes her happy..."
Shrugging, they went to go have a more pleasant discussion with Rarity, who had just finished giving Spike reassurance after what he'd overheard about foals.
Twilight sighed in contentment on her bed in Ponyville library. She'd just sent her latest letter to Princess Celestia, about how it didn't matter how far friends went from each other in life, true friendships lasted forever. Sighing in contentment, she stirred happily at the sensation of a horn nuzzling her own. She opened her eyes to smile at the stallion beside her.
Shadow had lived here with her for the past six months, ever since he came to Ponyville to start a new life, free from the bad memories his own world was filled with. Since he lacked social skills - much as she had when she'd first arrived - she'd welcomed him into her home and helped him make a start with friendships. Besides, the house had felt somewhat empty ever since Spike left on his journey with Rarity, and a blind pony could tell that they would be living together when they returned.
It had been nice, having another unicorn as a housemate. THey had studied magic together, learning a great deal from each other. She had discovered that beneath the gruff exterior Shadow presented to the world, he had a kind heart, and it had been a pleasure getting to know him. It had seemed inevitable that their relationship would become 'more than friends'.
SMiling, she stood up and stretched. "We should get up now, Shadow," she said happily. "We've got work to do."
Shadow smiled in return, hopping to his hooves. "Yes, we should." He too began to stretch, then paused. "Twilight, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," she replied. "WHy wouldn't I-" She froze. A strange pain had begun to develop in her back. "Ow...owowowowowowowOW!!!!" She put her head between her front hooves, her entire body shaking.
Shadow immediately grabbed paper and quill, penning a letter to Celestia that something was wrong with Twilight, and to get here soonest. Using Chaos COntrol, he sent it off to her. "Hang on Twilight. Celestia will be here soon."
"I don't think...she'll get here...soon enough..." Her eyes shut tight, sweat pouring down her brow, her whole body suddenly flexed and she screamed.
Huge purple energy wings expanded from her back, glowing brightly before seeming to settle, shrinking to match the size of Twilight's body. As the wings solidified into flesh, Twilight collapsed onto her knees, breathing heavily. "What the hay just happened?" she asked.
As Shadow shook his head, a familiar voice spoke from behind him. "I see it has finally happened."
Twilight looked up. "P-princess Celestia!"
Celestia smiled down at Twilight. "I see the wings of your heart have finally spread. I knew this day would come...eventually."
Twilight stared at the wings, which slowly folded to her back. "But...how?"
"Dear Twilight...did you really think that being an alicorn was solely a matter of bloodlines? THere is far more to it than that." She smiled at her pupil. "An alicorn - a princess - must also have a very strong heart, one strong enough to hold the kingdom sheltered in her wings. Powerful magic is also neccessary...and I knew when I took you into my tutelage that you would one day be more powerful than I. I only had to wait for the day your wings spread...although I'm glad that it happened while you still ahd your youthful vigor."
Twilight was still in shock, and could only ask, "...why?"
Celestia chuckled. "Why...for the same reason I had you stand behind me and to my left at the Grand Galloping Gala to introduce you to everyone."
Shadow's head came up in shock. "But...in traditional monarchy, that's the position reserved for the heir apparent!"
"Precisely," Celestia said with a smile as Twilight's eyes went as wide as dinner plates. "I knew one day Twilight would be strong enough, brave enough, loving enough, and responsible enough to care for the kingdom as a whole...able to take the burden of ruling from my shoulders so I may rest, when your wings finally spread." She smiled at Twilight. "I am so proud of you, my faithful student...Princess Twilight Sparkle." She bowed her ehad slightly to her student and heir.
Twilight bowed in return. "T-thank you, Princess Celestia."
Celestia turned to go. "When you are ready to take on the responsibility for the kingdom, return to Canterlot so I may teach you all you must know...but take your time. THere is no hurry." She paused then. "By the way, Twilight...what were you doing before your wings spread that left you so mussed? And this place such a mess?"
Twilight flinched, trying to come up with an answer. Shadow came to her rescue. "I was helping Twilight with some magical research, and things got...explosive."
"Oh, I see." Celestia smiled. "I hope you took proper precautions," she said blandly.
Twilight ducked her head, trying to shift her mane to hide the charm at the base of her horn.
Celestia noticed. "Oh, I hadn't realized you'd learned THAT spell." She laughed pleasently as Twilight and Shadow turned bright red.
Upon loving hearts is a future built.