Earth: December 20, 2012
Tom lay back in his couch and let out a sigh, breath laden in beer, eyes so heavy he felt the world champion bodybuilder would have a difficult time keeping them open. The moonlight streamed through the Venetian blinds, cascading across the television as he stared at it, the images of little cartoon equines flashing on the screen. He looked at the clock. 11:30. Late enough where he should have been in bed, yet early enough where he didn't feel the least bit drowsy. He cursed his many late nights in college, watching movies, playing drinking games with his friends. It was his own fault, such was the story of his life.
He looked to his right. A framed photograph, showing the grinning face of himself and his family. Wife, Ashley, and daughters, Kelly and Sandra. A smile slowly crept onto his face as he looked into his daughter's eyes. So pure and imaginative- what he'd give to see them again. Alas, one drunk driver and a flipped van kept this from being possible.
Maybe that's why he watched this cartoon? Their eyes reminded him of his daughters'. Or maybe he was just sick and tired of watching the garbage flashed on television non-stop. From the latest reality show that made him feel greasy just to watch, to shows shoving jokes about wild sex and drugs down people's throat- sometimes to the point of glamorizing it- to the news that always- no matter what- would depress him.
Not even half an hour before he made the idiotic choice to flip onto one of the national news stations. Images of smoke rising into the skies of Gaza filled the screen, before images of similar destruction in Israel were shown as well. It only took Tom a minute before he had to change the channel to something more optimistic and heart-warming.
Outside the moon hung high in the deep black sky, positioned perfectly in the window so Tom was able to watch it before some clouds moved in, blocking the light. He looked back at the screen. He planned on flicking the television off and getting ready for bed. But that quickly changed when he saw the episode that was on.
"Oh Christ, Tom thought with a sigh. "Is this a new episode? This late at night? What the hell is up with that?"
Tom initially wanted to question the logic of the heads down at "The Hub", showing the new episode of a children's show close to midnight- especially when episodes were usually aired at 10:30 a.m. on the East Coast. Not only that, but it was a Thursday. Didn't new episodes typically air on Saturdays?
Deciding that it wasn't worth the worry, he sat back against the sofa and resigned himself to continue watching the colorful world of Equestria. He looked at the clock.
"Okay, this is it. Last one and I'm off to bed." He watches as the credits rolled, showing the title of the episode, 'Twilight's Destiny.'
"Well this should be interesting." Tom thought with a soft chuckle. "I hope the writers didn't get lazy and make her a Goddamn alicorn or some shit."
He continued to watch as the mane six, plus Spike, were standing inside Princess Celestia's castle.
Tom sighed, "Dear God no alicornification, please."
Twilight stood outside the large set of double doors. A dark shadow cast over her small frame as her eyes gazed at the large, red barrier that stood between her and her true destiny. At least that's why the Princess called her down, she thought.
"Twilight, are you okay?" Said a young, male voice from behind the unicorn.
Twilight snapped herself out of her daze and turned to the source of the voice. Behind her stood her loyal dragon assistant, Spike, as well as her five best friends friends- loyal Rainbow Dash, honest Applejack, laugh-inducing Pinkie Pie, kind Fluttershy, and generous Rarity- all of whom had looks over nervous anticipation on their faces.
Twilight swallowed and looked back down at the baby dragon, her eyes hardened. "Yes, I'm fine. A little nervous, sure, but who wouldn't be?"
"Well, ah think it's gonna be somethin' amazing." Applejack said with a reassuring smile. "The Princess' letter didn't seem angry or disappointed. If anything it seemed proud."
"Yeah, I bet whatever she tells you is going to be wicked cool, Twilight." Rainbow Dash said, flying over to the unicorn and landing right in front of her.
Twilight nodded, remembering the letter she had received the day before, asking for her presence at the castle. She wasn't sure, but based on the urgency in the letter, whatever the Princess wanted to tell her, it would be unlike any other visit. Even more odd, she asked for the presence of all five other elements, so her friends came along as well. Spike was not asked, but joined them anyway.
Twilight wasn't sure what the Princess had planned, but it was clear that it was a big deal. So she stood, anxiously awaiting to hear what reason the Sun goddess had for dragging her and her friends out to Canterlot on such short notice.
The huge, double-doors opened up, revealing Princess Luna.
"Thou hath come at thin sister's request?" She asked, voice at a normal speaking volume.
Twilight nodded, "Yes, Princess Luna."
Nodding, the Princess of the Night motioned for the ponies and baby dragon to enter. They did, the double doors closing behind them.
Twilight made her way towards the Princess' throne, her hoof-steps echoing throughout the grand hallway. The stained glass windows shimmered in the sunlight, images dancing as if they were alive. Two windows passed with images of herself and her friends, one with Shining Armor and Princess Cadence touching horns as they had to defeat Queen Chrysalis, and one showing Spike with the crystal heart hovering over his open claw.Princess Luna stayed beside the door, letting Twilight lead the others further into the room.
Spike, walking alongside his friend, saw the image of himself. A quick and prideful smirk swept across his face before he turned his attention back forward. Sitting in her throne, Princess Celestia gazed down upon her approaching student, her reptilian assistant, and her five friends. She gave them all a welcoming smile before hopping off of the throne and making her way down the small set of stairs that led to the floor.
"Twilight Sparkle, I'm so happy to see you." she said in her typical, warm tone of voice.
"As am I, Princess." Twilight responded before she gave the goddess of the sun a look of bewilderment. "Why did you call me and my friends down here, anyway?"
"Yeah!" Rainbow Dash said, flying in the air and taking a combative position. "Did Discord escape? Is Queen Chrysalis back? Did Kind Sombra take over the Crystal Empire?" The cyan pegasus gritted her teeth and pounded one hoof into the other. "Who do we have to take down now?"
"There's nopony you need to take down." the Princess answered. Rainbow's competitive face suddenly showed bewilderment, as did everypony else's.
"W-what do you mean...Oh! I hope that didn't sound too bossy. I'm so sorry Princess..." Fluttershy whimpered out.
"It's quite all right, Fluttershy." the alicorn goddess replied warmly. "The question you asked is a highly reasonable one. And you'll get all the answers you need in due time."
"What I've done.
I'll face myself.
To cross out what I've become.
Erase myself, and let go of what I've done."
Tom sang at a low key, taking advantage of the brief commercial break to grab some ice water from his fridge, finding the need to quench a spontaneous thirst he accumulated while watching the show. He was never certain why, but My Little Pony always made him oddly thirsty. He watched tons of football and older sitcoms like "Seinfeld" and "Cheers", but none of those made him thirsty- but ponies did.
As he pressed the glass into the automated water-faucet part of the fridge, his eyes glanced over to a crinkled newspaper clipping- the horoscope section he cut out on a daily basis due to his superstitions. He looked under his horoscope sign, Leo, to read his daily 'fortune', so to speak.
'Do not distance yourself from the ones you love. You will find true peace in them.'
Tom sighed, shaking his head. "Yeah, I wish I could still find true peace with them. But they aren't here anymore your worthless scrap of paper."
After he read his horoscope his eyes drifted to the top of the clipping, notably to the title, which read 'Horoscopes for Today: December 20, 2012.'
The date caught his attention. It was December 20th, which meant once midnight struck ,it would be December 21st- the supposed "end of the world" according to the Mayan calendar. At least that how so many people interpreted it. Others saw it as a time for change, where the world would go through a transition for the better, a "rebirth" of sorts, or the coming of a new age. A better era, according to said optimistic individuals.
But to Tom, this date meant absolutely nothing. Perhaps it was the pessimistic attitude he acquired from the thirty-three years he spent living in this shit-hole of a world. Maybe it was simply his rational mind. Either way, he knew that the next day would be the same as the day before, and the day before that, and so forth. Dull, repetitive, and depressing as the grayest of days.
Walking back into the living room, Tom fell back against the soft couch cushions, slouching his back and letting out a long, drawn-out sigh. He kept his eyes glued to the commercial-showing television screen. He lifted the glass of water to his lips, taking a cautious sip of cold liquid. The gentle clang of ice against the glass was music to his ears.
His eyes panned the room, landing on the mantle. Another image of himself, his wife and daughters on it, smiling brightly at the anonymous cameraman. Next to the picture, stood a collection of the mane six- he even managed to purchase a Spike figurine from an artist online. They all stared back at him, surrounding the image of his family. He never noticed it, but it was strange- like they were protecting them against some evil.
He kept staring at the pony figurines when his attention was snapped back to the television by the sound of an elegant voice.
"I do say Princess, what is it you exactly wanted to tell Twilight?" Rarity asked.
Tom sighed and sat back against the chair, drinking more of his water as he watched. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the time on the digital clock.
Princess Celestia looked down at Twilight. "Twilight, I have called you here today for a very specific reason."
The unicorn tilted her head. "And what would that be?"
The Princess smiled, "Your destiny, Twilight. I am going to reveal it to you."
Twilight's eyes went wide, her mouth agape as she stared at the Goddess, her mentor, with the utmost shock and awe. Slowly, her mouth curled up into a small smile.
"M-my destiny..." she muttered, a glimmer of wonder in her eyes.
Princess Celestia nodded, trotting past Twilight- over to what appeared to be a crystal orb, black in color- held up by a small, metal tripod. But it wasn't a solid black, it was a black composed of a strange, cloudy substance. It was roughly the size of base-ball.
"Princess Celestia, um...ah'm just wondering why we needed to be up here." Applejack asked.
"Yeah. if this is Twilight's destiny...thingie,...what do you need us for?" Pinkie Pie asked, her face flushed of the typical enthusiasm present in it, replaced with genuine bewilderment mirroring the expressions of her friends.
"Well she's not the only element of harmony, now, is she?" Princess Celestia said, chuckling. She levitated the orb over in front of Twilight, gently placed it down in front of her. The unicorn looked down, gazing into the obscure darkness of the ball.
"Princess Celestia, what is this?" Twilight asked, pointing her hoof at the strange orb.
"This, is where your destiny lies." Princess Celestia said, looking up at her student with a smile.
"I don't understand."
"The truth is, Twilight, your true destiny never lay in Equestria. It does not even lie in this reality."
There was silence in the room. If somepony dropped a pen the sound of it making contact with the floor would have echoed with the intensity of somepony slamming a door shut.
"Your true destiny lay in a far off world. A world clouded by eternal chaos not even Discord could conjure. As of now, there has been no cure to it," she said, turning to Twilight. Her eyes cold. "Until now."
"P-princess I...this is all ridiculous I mean...what are you saying? That I have to go to another world and help it achieve harmony?"
Princess Celestia nodded. "Yes."
"And we go too because we're the elements and they need to be activated there?" Rainbow Dash asked, hovering above the Princess.
"Yes, Rainbow Dash." Princess Celestia muttered, turning away and walking towards one of the stained-glass windows. Through the light-colored portions, she was able to make out distant lands within Equestria. "You all have done so much here, vanquishing those who wish to cause us harm. From Discord to Nightmare Moon. Whenever evil reared its ugly head, I could always count on you girls to stop it.".
She turned back towards the others. "Now you six must go to this world and bring it what it's lacked since it's existence. Harmony."
With this, the Princess closed her eyes, her horn now glowing with blinding intensity. Suddenly, a beam of light shot from the tip, smacking right into the orb. Twilight jumped back, falling over as She tripped over the step behind her. she scrambled up the stairs to a distance so she could see what the Princess had done. Suddenly, a gigantic screen popped up, showing images of a world torn to pieces. Blasting sounds followed by clouds of smoke rising to the atmosphere. Sirens coming from the image. Everyone in the room was puzzled beyond measure, staring at what appeared to be a world engulfed in chaos.
"Is...is this real?" Spike asked with a voice blend of awe and horror.
Princess Celestia nodded. "I'm afraid it is."
Tom's mouth hung open. The image of Twilight standing in front of the large projection shocked him, but not as much as what was on the projection. Images of a desert city being bombed- two in fact- cut to violent protests and dictators standing on podiums, shouting down dissonance in "their" nations. He was not sure who all of these scumbags were, though he recognized quite a handful. These images were not from some made-up world for the sake of the show. It was not some fantasy world plagued by a magical emperor of sorts.
It was our own world. The sight of real-life humans on the backdrop of a cartoon, the real images of Gaza and Jerusalem being blown to kingdom come that flashed on the news constantly- it was reality.
"Why the fuck would they put these images in a children's show? My God, I watch this show just to avoid shit like this."
Regardless, Tom kept his eyes glued to the screen as, finally, the Princess made the black screen vanish. Along with it, the images of our reality- the worst of it, anyways. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom saw the clock.
The show would soon be over. Tom leaned forward with great intrigue, curiosity getting the better of him. Sure the show took a turn for the dark, but he just had to see why the writing staff would think it was a good idea to put such images into such an innocent show.
Twilight and her friends all stared up at the Princess, frozen in fright.
"This world may not have dark magic, but unlike Equestria this place has never learned peace.." Princess Celestia said. "And until you go there, I'm afraid they never will- and even then..."
The alicorn looked down, doubt in her voice.
"So..." Rarity started, taking a step towards the goddess. "What you're saying is that we must work to restore balance to this world of these...creatures that do nothing but blow each other to smithereens over the course of their entire history?"
"How can we achieve what they've never been able to?" Fluttershy asked. "Do you think the elements will be enough?"
"You girls must try, because if you don't." Princess Celestia turned to them. "There will be no hope for their survival."
Again, utter silence filled the throne room. The Princess looked up at the clock, hanging proudly above her throne. It's golden hands near the top. The hour hand was already there, the minute hand not far behind. The thinnest of second hands clicked along, making yet another revolution around the numbered path.
"This must be done once the clock strikes the twelfth stroke. That is the day you've been prophesied to enter."
"What do we do once we're there?" Twilight asked.
"Once you arrive through a portal, you six must activate your elements. By doing so, you will remove all elements of disharmony from their world, as well as connect our world to theirs."
"Connect our world with theirs?" Twilight asked, her voice uneasy- clearly not comfortable with such an idea.
"Break the barrier between us," Princess Celestia muttered, looking at Pinkie Pie. "I believe you've found this coveted 'fourth-wall' and have found ways around it. Am I correct?"
Pinkie Pie looked at Princess Celestia for a minute, confusion in her face, before sudden epiphany made her light up.
"Oh! You mean that clear thing I sometimes see that prevents me from interacting with humans?"
"Humans?" Applejack asked.
Grinning, Pinkie Pie nodded. "Uh-huh! The things in those images the Princess showed us."
"Indeed." Princess Celestia said with a chuckle, "And I've managed to teach Twilight a spell for breaking it as well. To enter a void in-between worlds. If I'm not mistaken, you used this recently after you performed your spell for the delegates from Saddle Arabia."
Twilight's eyes widened. Her mouth hung open in shock, "That...that was be breaking that...fourth wall with you speak of?"
"Yes. And to re-enter that world, you must cast it again, this time through the smoke of the orb." The Princess said, pointing at the black orb still laying at the pony's hooves.
"Um...Princess. Should we really be dealing with...those things? I mean, they hurt each other so much, why wouldn't they hurt a pony?" Fluttershy asked.
Princess Celestia nodded, "Well, there are certainly people that would harm you."
Fluttershy shrunk back at those words. But the Princess slowly reached out, placing her hoof onto the scared pegasus' back.
"But many who wouldn't. Not all humanity is bad. In fact, many already know who you are and would treat you six like Goddesses." She then looked down at Spike. "and you like a 'cool cat'. If I'm saying that correctly."
"Really?" Spike asked, a cocky grin plastered on his face. "Awesome!"
"How in the hay do they know about us?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"To them, you are all part of a fictional cartoon." Princess Celestia said. "To them, you are not real."
The thud of the glass of water as it landed on the carpet- spilling the contents out- couldn't even stir Tom. He was even more stunned now than he was before. The images of their world was one thing, but apparently the show's crew decided to take things one step further on the bizarre scale. Not only did the characters break the fourth wall, they mentioned it. And now the Princess said they were part of a cartoon- at least from a human's perspective. It was no longer just bizarre. It was freaky-deaky, whacked out, and bonkers all at the same time.
He looked at the time.
The episode was almost over and all they've done was stand around the castle as the Princess spouted off exposition. Tom was befuddled, but kept watching, hoping some light would be shed on the oddity of this episode.
"Wait, we don't exist?" Pinkie Pie asked, her mane flattening a little as the words left her mouth.
"You do," the Princess said, pointing her horn back down at the orb. "They just don't realize it yet."
Before anypony else could say a word, the Princess blasted a beam of pure, white light. The black orb was struck, sending a dark smoke billowing out that towered to the ceiling. Princess Celestia's horn stopped glowing, looking at her student and her friends. "You're running short on time. You must do this now."
"But Princess..." Twilight started, only to be stopped.
"Twilight, you've been looking forward to your destiny since you were a filly." Princess Celestia said, walking over to the terrified unicorn. "I've held off on telling you until the right moment. Not only for when you were ready, but when the world, this planet Earth, is ready for your arrival. The people who enjoy watching you and your friends go on adventures, and go about your lives in Ponyville, they are the reason why we're ready. Many have already accepted you, and most humans will realize the value you bring."
"But how will our elements work? What exactly will they do?"
"The fourth wall will be forever destroyed, and our worlds will become one." Princess Celestia said. Seeing her student so upset, the Princess let out a sigh. "It's hard to explain, but trust me. Our own world has a duty to save this one."
Twilight's legs began to tremble. She looked up and around the room. Her friends all staring at her, as if asking what they should do. Twilight then turned back to see her mentor standing right above her, a kind, gentle smile on her face. She placed her hoof onto the little mare's shoulder, stroking her mane as if to reassure her.
"You can do it." she cooed, the unicorn looking up, tears glistening in her eyes. "You've been training for this moment ever since you were a little filly, back when you first became my personal assistant. It's your destiny, Twilight Sparkle. You were born to do this."
Twilight kept staring at her mentor before her gaze fell. She appeared to fall into a deep trance, staring at her hooves. Slowly she looked back up, doubt still in her eyes as she nodded.
Princess Celestia motioned for her to walk over to the orb, still emitting a powerful geyser of smoke.
Slowly, her friends surrounded her. She felt the warm touch of a hoof on her shoulder. She turned to see Applejack looking kindly at her, giving her the most reassuring smile she could muster.
"Right behind ya, sugarcube."
Twilight gave her friend a smile, they looked around. All of her friends gave her small, comforting nods, as if to tell her it would all be okay. Suddenly, a box levitated next to Twilight, encased in the Princess' aura. It opened, revealing the six elements. Smiling, Twilight equipped each of her five friends, and then herself, with the golden relics.
"You girls ready?" Twilight asked, turning to her friends. They all nodded.
Twilight closed her eyes, ready to cast the spell, when she felt someone poking her side. She looked down to see Spike look up at her, winking.
"Spike, you stay here."
The baby dragon shook his head. "No way Twilight."
"It's way too dangerous."
"So was the Crystal Empire, and I handled that pretty well, didn't I?" Spike asked, an inflection of pride in his voice. Twilight was about to interject, but stopped herself. She couldn't help but smile at her loyal assistant. Using her magic, she levitated the little reptile onto her back, gently placing him down.
"Okay Spike." They exchanged smiles before the unicorn turned her attention to the smoke. "You all ready?"
"You bet!" Rainbow Dash shouted.
"You get yer flank ah'm ready, sugarcube." Applejack said.
"Oh! This is so exciting!" Pinkie Pie squealed in excitement.
"Let's do this." Rarity said, cracking her neck in very un-Rarity-like manner.
"As ready as I'll ever be." Fluttershy said quietly.
Spike outstretched his arm, much like the knight he often envisioned himself as- saving Rarity and taking down her captors. "Onward!"
Twilight closed her eyes, casting the same spell she used after Trixie left town, back when she first gave Pinkie Pie her mouth back after it had been taken from her. There was a loud crack as the smoke parted, revealing what appeared to be a void of nothingness. Twilight opened her eyes and gazed into the unknown. Sighing, she headed in, followed by her friends. As soon as they entered the void, the crack closed and a loud sucking noise preceded all of the smoke being sucked back into the orb. Princess Celestia trotted over to the orb, lifting it up, gazing into the black clouds within.
Sighing, she turned and walked back over to the small tripod the orb stood on prior to her casting the spell. She put it down and gazed into it, as if expecting a message to pop up any minute.
"Are they gone, sister?"
Princess Celestia smiled, "Yes Luna. They have gone."
Princess Luna stood beside her sister, gazing into the orb. "When will the deed be done?"
"At the final strike of twelve, the wall will deteriorate, and harmony will be restored on Earth." Princess Celestia said, sighing. "Not only will that world be able to communicate with us, they will finally know peace."
Tom was speechless. Even with the theme song playing, he could not get over what he just was a witness too. He stared at the television for a moment before his eyes gazed at the clock.
Shakily, he stood up from the couch, making his way over to the digital time-keeping device.
"One minute, and harmony will be restored." Tom muttered. As he said it, he couldn't help but chuckle. It sounded ridiculous. The entire world suddenly finding peace at the hands..er...hooves of talking equines from dimensions away that he watched on television as part of a kid's show?
The entire thing sounded like some crackpot idea. But he wasn't sure. Was that all just part of the show, or wasn't it? Why would a new episode air so late, though. He was caught up, he knew that. And the episode he just watched did not match the episode described in TV guide for that coming Saturday. He contemplated that he might have hallucinated the whole thing.
But then his eyes flashed up at the mantle, the image of his family, back when it was whole, surrounded by the six ponies and Spike. All standing vigilant, strong against an unknown force. But then he realized what they were protecting his pictured family from.
A grandfather clock in the corner of the living room struck twelve.
He turned his attention to the left of the picture at Fluttershy. Her hooves planted firmly on the ground, though her little, plastic wings stood at attention. She seemed timid, and yet strong. Like she would not hurt a fly, unless it threatened the family she protected.
Next to her was stubborn, but honest Applejack, standing on her back hooves. She'd never back down, she'd always protect the ones she loved. Not only strong willed and muscled, but also strong hearted- much like his wife.Tom reached out and stroked her plastic, blonde mane- just like his wife's hair.
Next was Rarity. A bit girly, yet she knew to get down and dirty when it meant helping those close to her. Her azure eyes gazed forward, meeting Tom's, as if to silently tell him his family was in good hooves.
Rainbow Dash was on the other side of the picture. In much the same position as Applejack, standing on her hind-hooves, she looked determined and willing. She'd never abandon her post, no matter what. She was subconsciously given a duty by Tom to protect his family's memory, and she has done just that- as did her friends.
Pinkie Pie was next. Even as a small figurine she had a bright smile. Or maybe that was just Tom's imagination. He also imagined her winking at him and giving him a small wave. A small smile spread across his lips. She could always make him feel better, even when times were tough. She could even throw him a party if things got especially bad.
Both Twilight and Spike looked up Spike's reptilian eyes and innocent look made Tom wonder what it would have been like to have sons. He imagined him as a brave knight- like when he fought to save Rarity.
Twilight stood atop the group, standing in front of the picture, but also slightly to the side, giving Tom the ability to see his family in full view from across the room, and yet she still protected them.
It was then that Tom realized these six ponies and Spike had not only helped him preserve his family's memory, but provide him with a buffer. They allowed him to feel close to them every time he watched the show- like his daughters were all still alive, sitting on the couch beside him. Sharing the joint escapist experience. He thought of his wife, sitting on the couch as well, leaning against his side as they not only enjoyed the show, but their family's unity.
Tom knew at that point it didn't matter if what he saw was real, if it was imaginary, or if it was just an un-aired episode that was so dark they waited until night to show it. All he knew was that even if the world would never be at peace, he could find some slice of peace in watching these characters fight evil, all while maintaining a strong friendship. Even if they were not coming to save their world from themselves- they already had done so much.
Tom reached out, grabbed the Twilight figurine and held it up, examining it. He gazed into its eyes. He liked to imagine that the episode was true, and this world would be at peace in two-strokes time. And that such a fantasy of animated wonder would be able to enter their world and prove that true harmony could exist even in a reality as harsh as this one.
"Thank you Twilight." Tom muttered, looking down at the figurine. He then looked up at the rest of them, all still standing strong around his family, protecting them. He gave them a smile. "Thank you all."