Episode 21: Unity is Endless
This is what the true god who spoke to Spira continues to say…
We all must go down to rise up
Know this, for Starcatch is a trick tower
It warps and reverses all
From top to bottom, you will reach the top
Just as the spiriting begins where there is nothing
And nothing ends before the spiriting
That is where the false god, The Reborn One’s true form is
Fear him not, for he is only a child at heart
Veiled in two great evils that make him a monster
The Eternal Three that preceded The Eternal Three
It keeps going back…
The Eternal Three that will succeed The Eternal Three
How will it keep going forward?
Once you defeat your adversaries and understand them
You will be able to answer this question that they can not
For you believe in what always was and always will be
The true god made this clear to every hero who had braved the trials of the Spiriting project, proving themselves to be on the level of the other gods. Since King Nero had made his declaration of war on Ninja Time God Rarity and Fantasy God Discord, they acknowledged the gauntlet he threw by bringing all the other heroes to his world. When Myra Michaels, Adrian Bruce, and all of their allies had arrived, they looked up at the tip of Starcatch coming out of the vortex in the sky and were fascinated.
“What is this…?” they asked in astonishment.
“This is where all of your journeys shall finally come to a climatic end…” NTG Rarity happily explained to them in response.
“...or will it actually be a climatic beginning, ho ho?” FG Discord teased.
NTG Rarity then clopped her hooves together and FG Discord snapped his fingers, causing the vortex to swirl faster than it ever had before, pulling everyone on top of the roof inside. After getting caught in the vortex, the heroes were eventually dragged towards the edge of Starcatch, where instead of colliding with it, they vanished with a flash of light, being teleported inside…
Though none of the heroes realized it then, the trick that both the true god and Rarity and Discord were hinting at was that they would be starting at both the end and beginning…
Our first hero to undergo their trial is the one who made their appearance before their own story, the one whose story comes before this one, and the one who was in the story before that. And although she is the first, the last shall be first and the first shall be last…
The one talked about here was none other than Myra Michaels, who appeared in front of a familiar building in the world of what appeared to be Equestria. Examining her environment, she saw no one else around. Looking at herself, she realized she was in the form of Maud Pie once more.
“Back to this again…” she thought solemnly. “Strange though...the last thing I remembered actually doing was talking to Nero. Then after that, I felt myself suddenly fall into a deep sleep where I was reliving my past memories...only it wasn’t me...I felt like three other entities were trying to control me…”
Hee hee hee…
Myra Michaels/Maud Pie overheard a demonic laugh that sounded like Pinkie Pie’s coming from the building behind her...which turned out to be Sugarcube Corner, the place where it all began…
...and where it all ended for The Reborn One…
Myra jumped back to avoid a bolt of lightning that abruptly came from above.
“What the hell?” she said in surprise as she saw a dark cloud hovering above the entrance of Sugarcube Corner. As the cloud began to loom closer to her, she quickly jumped forward and rolled under it to avoid another lightning bolt. With the cloud then trying to follow her from behind, she fled into Sugarcube Corner and barred the door shut behind her, entering a place that was pitch-black. Immediately, the cloud stopped shooting lightning, garnering Myra’s interest. She leaned her head closer to the door to listen, not noticing the silhouette of a pegasus pony menacingly grinning with a rope in hoof to her side. And unlike before, Myra didn’t notice a presence in her shadow...
“It’s not trying to destroy the door…” Myra remarked upon hearing the cloud become silent. “So it’s not meant to be an enemy, but an obstacle meant to keep me inside. However, that only makes things even more confusing. I already have no intent on running away from whatever evil I must face here, and even if I did, I could just outrun the cloud and move to another location. It couldn’t just be for show…”
I’ll give you a spoiler, it’s part of the puzzle.
This time, it was the voice of Applejack that Myra heard as she pulled out her sword to prepare for battle.
“I’m not at all interested in your silly riddles.” Myra made a rejoinder. “I’m fine with the occasional brain teaser, but I get much more engaged in good action.”
So you’re like me...knowing that is going to make spoiling you with this treat all the more fun…
Myra heard the voice of Rainbow Dash echo those words, and with that, Myra felt two forelegs rubbing against her shoulders…
Myra immediately reached for her tranquilizer gun and turned around to shoot whatever figure was creeping up behind her, but the figure, turning out to be Rainbow Dash, hovering above with a noose in hooves, flew up to dodge. Rainbow then swooped in towards Myra at light speed, successfully slipping the noose around the neck. Myra instantly tried cutting the rope that held the knot...only to find that the noose wasn’t made of ordinary rope...but extremely sticky, pink bubblegum that had both a very viscous liquid and a powerful, dark aura flowing through it...
“Booya!” Rainbow exclaimed happily. “If only you had countered me with your sword, then you would’ve had a chance. But you didn’t want to risk killing me only to find out I was actually redeemable, did you? Even though I’m obviously way more awesome than just redeemable...”
“How would it be “good action” if I just killed you then and there?” Myra returned the taunt. “I told you that I was fine with the occasional brain teaser, and finding out how to get out of traps like this are the kinds of puzzles I’m actually good at…”
“Well I’ll be,” interjected Applejack, appearing out of the shadows alongside Pinkie Pie, “this lass has got herself a smarter mouth than a parrot.”
“I guess we can call it a...parrot trap now, hee hee hee!” Pinkie made a joke that had Applejack and Rainbow Dash rolling their eyes.
“Feh.” Myra retorted, unamused for different reasons. “You can’t fool me. I sense your demonic auras. You may look like them and be trying to talk like them, but you’ll never be them.”
“Oh, for sure…” Rainbow replied evilly. “Ever since we became gods, we’ve been quite proud of our identities...eternal servants of The Risen One…”
“Yeah, we’ll give it to you straight.” Applejack said sincerely. “We love being evil in the form of something meant to represent good…”
“Going over to the dark side is so much fun!” Pinkie jubilantly exclaimed. “They have cake! I’m cake! Can you believe it?”
Something dawned on Myra as their words triggered memories...
“Hold on…” Myra said to herself as she started having flashbacks to the Awakening project. “I remember you guys now. You’re not ordinary demons...you were amongst the heroes I was assigned to guide to the Immortal World. So you ended up being corrupted by Rarity and Discord after all, huh?”
“We prefer the term, “shown the truth”.” Rainbow retorted as Applejack magically made a bottle of apple cider appear in her right hoof, surprising Myra. “And although Rarity and Discord were the ones who bestowed our god powers upon us, they were not the ones who showed us what led to us to be here as we are now.”
“So you’re demon gods now…” Myra realized as Applejack drank some of the cider and gave a satisfied belch. “What is your goal?”
“Our goal is to defeat you and prove our strength to The Reborn One…” Applejack answered, and snickering as she swigged her half-finished apple cider, tossed the bottle on the part of the floor where Myra was hanging over, breaking the bottle and soaking the floor wet. “So that we can replace the Trinity…”
“We should be the only ones to bear the Trinity’s cross…” Pinkie Pie remarked, giggling sinisterly as she watched the soaked part of the floor begin to corrode. “...while you only have to bear the suffering of a death befitting a scoundrel…”
“?!” Myra felt the floor beneath her breaking, and in response, began struggling to get the noose off her neck more desperately, but to no avail. She fell through the hole that eventually opened up in the floor with the noose around her neck and into the basement. From above, she heard the three demon gods taunting her with…
“SAY HI TO OUR OLD FRIENDS FOR US!”
Scanning the new environment, Myra quickly saw what they were referring to. Surrounding her, to her surprise and confusion, were the bodies of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, hanging from the ceiling of the basement with ordinary ropes around their necks…
“What…?” Myra asked herself as she felt an unpleasant aura coming from their corpses. “Is this world…”
Myra started thinking…
“I thought for sure this was the same world I was in earlier, only modified to test me. If that was true, then these corpses would definitely be fake, creations of mere computer data from Starcatch. But I don’t sense that to be the case. These dead bodies feel like they’ve been abandoned by spirits who held strong grudges. If they’re clones made from humans, they must be from another world...so is this not the world of the Spiriting? I have to get out of here and wring the answers out of those creeps before this rope wrings the life out of me!”
Myra gripped the rope as hard as she could. Her hands stuck to it, leaving her unable to climb up the rope, but she didn’t care. She pulled her body up and pressed herself against the rope, purposefully getting herself wrapped in the gum so that she couldn’t fall and be hung.
“Guess you weren’t lying…” the trio of demon gods remarked as they watched Myra’s attempt to pull herself out of the predicament she was in. “You do have a quick wit for getting out of traps...too bad for you, there’s much more to this trap than just that...just like how multiple layers make better gum, multiple layers make better traps!”
The three then stamped their hooves on the ground and transformed into their respective god forms. Applejack became a soldier in a suit of gold armor, bearing a star-shaped shield with the emblem of an eye on it, Rainbow Dash became a merchant dressed in a green vest that said, “PEACE COMES”, on it and held a variety of weapons wrapped in paper used to write peace treaties on, and Pinkie Pie became a magician dressed in a red hat and a blue cape with bottles and beakers under it, and holding a small cauldron of green liquid in hoof. They had become the God of Magic, the God of Peace, and the God of Science respectively.
“Since you couldn’t cut that rope earlier…” the God of Magic, Applejack, jeered as she charged up an energy blast in her shield. “...allow me to help you now…”
Applejack fired the energy blast at the rope of gum, severing it, and causing Myra to fall to the basement floor, now stuck to it along with the gum. Now struggling to get free of the gum, Myra’s attention was caught by something she couldn’t see earlier...barrels. Large barrels of apple cider…
“They must have known from the start they couldn’t kill me with such a traditional trick…” Myra thought. “No, I’ll even go so far to say that they were betting on the possibility of me being immortal, or at least close to immortal...so they set up a trap that could theoretically entomb me here forever…”
Myra’s hunch was soon shown not to be a pretense, as the three demon gods had planned this in advance, displayed by a beeping sound from bombs Rainbow had planted on the back of the barrels. Chortling as she and the other demon gods now stood outside of Sugarcube Corner, having left through the back entrance, Rainbow pulled out a scroll from her vest that transformed into a switch for detonating the bombs…
*BAM* *SPLURGE* *GLUG*
Loud noises of apple cider-filled barrels exploding and flooding the basement with sticky fluid were heard from the building, and the trio of demon gods gave a loud, wicked laugh of triumph in response.
“Of course…” Myra continued thinking. “A demon god would know that my demonic powers would protect me from being killed by strangulation and a few bomb blasts...but if I get stuck in something that’s inescapable in theory…”
Myra started grasping the gravity of the situation even better after she noticed that as the cider from the barrels started rising over her head, the gum she was stuck in started expanding, absorbing the liquid. Before she knew it, the gum was over her face, completely wrapped around her body. Even with her demon powers, Myra felt a strain in her lungs from the pressure and inability to breathe as the cider kept rising and the gum kept growing larger…
“It seems hopeless…” Myra remarked at the situation in thought. “...I never thought that I’d ever be caught in a trap this diabolical...so why am I so calm?”
Myra soon got an answer from the true god, whispering this in her mind…
Because in the past, you escaped a trap far more deadly than this. A trap worse than death itself. A trap that’s even worse than being trapped forever in a place you want to get out of. I’m sure you can remember now what that trap is…
“Yeah…” Myra replied, realizing now why she felt the way she did. “It’s the trap of not knowing the truth. You’re only truly trapped if you live your life believing lies…”
Now able to think more clearly, Myra realized a way she could use what was binding her to her advantage. Since she couldn’t move, it was much easier for her to allow aura to flow through her as she began to meditate, allowing the souls inside of her to provide her with more power.
“It may still be difficult to breathe…” Myra thought. “...but upon reaching the peak of meditation, I will no longer even feel the pressure against my lungs or any part of my body...only my soul...my true self, I will take the form of…”
It wasn’t long after Myra said that to herself that she was able to transform. A strong aura of both light and darkness began to pour out of her body as she sprouted both the wings of a demon and the wings of an angel out of her back, just like she had done after she protected her village from Nick’s wrath. Reminded of the fire she absorbed back then, she thought to herself…
“Even if it’s a magical fire that can even burn underwater, I don’t know how much alcohol is in this cider...so I guess I’m choosing darkness over fire here…”
However, before Myra could attempt breaking out of the gum with dark energy blasts from her hooves, she heard a familiar voice say something that led her to stop…
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you...unless you want to be stuck in hell forever. You may want to reconsider wanting that knowing that I wouldn’t be able to keep you company there.”
Recognizing the voice, Myra asked…
“...Nero? How did you get here? How come I didn’t sense you?”
“Because I’m not the Nero you knew from before.” he replied, referencing to how Spira was now inside of him. “As for how I got here, I’ve actually been here the whole time. I was following you inside your shadow. I would’ve helped you out earlier, but I feel you’ve been handling yourself pretty well up until now, especially considering that you’re the only hero who doesn’t know how to combine Yin and Yang. Putting more dark energy into that gum would’ve been counterproductive, since there’s already dark energy in it. All that would’ve happened is that it would’ve expanded, trapping you even more. To break out of it, you need to fill it with light energy, creating an explosion with the dark energy inside the gum, blowing it up.”
Myra followed Nero’s advice and used light energy blasts from her hooves against the gum instead, causing it to explode and set her free.
“Interesting…” Myra replied, looking at her hooves, marveling at this power. “I was the first hero to appear, yet I’m the last to learn this crucial ability…”
“So you’re already catching on to the trick of this tower, nice work.” an impressed Nero commended. “However, just like the trap you’re in right now, there’s multiple layers to it. One traditional trick isn’t enough. The puzzle of the tower is a combination of tricks…”
“So that’s what’s going on…” Myra said as she found the answer to the next part of the puzzle. “That’s why this world bears great similarities to both the world of the Spiriting and the world that started the whole thing…so naturally, the next world will be...”
Myra then took a moment to commune with the souls inside of her…
“Please forgive me…” she asked of them. “Though I will never break my vow not to kill, I must break a vow of our pride to help our comrades…”
The vow that Myra was forced to break...was allowing Ninja Time God Rarity and Fantasy God Discord to speak to her in her mind once more for a deal…
Meanwhile, the trio of demon gods were outside Sugarcube Corner, celebrating their victory with bottles of apple cider that they toasted and drank.
“Ha ha ha, drowning someone in apple cider!” Applejack exclaimed with a hearty laugh. “Now that’s how you get someone wasted! And that’s how you tell a joke, Pinkie!”
“Yeah, no offense, dude.” Rainbow interjected. “We appreciate what you do for us, but comedy’s something we’d rather you not go gumming up.”
“I know how much easier it would be for all of us if I just shut my cake-hole…” Pinkie sarcastically retorted. “...but honestly, would you rather me just be a bore? Or at least give you something that will stick to you?”
I take it you’ve never heard of napalm, mwa ha ha ha ha…
“?!” Pinkie froze in fear upon hearing Nero snicker inside of her shadow, as Rainbow noticed what he had done. He had mixed his light and dark energy with the liquid in the cauldron to create a volatile substance that was about to explode…
“JOSEPH, GET DOWN!” Rainbow called the Pinkie clone by his real name as she rushed towards her, pushing her aside and grabbing the cauldron. She threw off her vest, scattering all her weapons and using the paper they were wrapped as sheets to cover the cauldron, along with the vest and her own body…
“The magic from the sheets and vest won’t be enough to shield them, so here goes nothing…” Rainbow told herself, sacrificing herself without hesitation.
“LEON!” Pinkie and Applejack cried, calling the Rainbow clone by his real name as they saw what he was doing for them. In response, Rainbow simply turned to them, smiling as he said…
Pinkie’s cauldron exploded, blowing the vest and papers to smithereens as Pinkie and Applejack jumped and rolled away just in time to avoid getting caught in the explosion. Rainbow was blown back, her body charred from the explosion, and soon splattered with a bubbling pink substance…
“What…” Rainbow said to herself in shock as the substance enveloped her, recognizing it. “This isn’t just light and dark energy...they mixed some of the gum we used in here too! Along with...OH MY GOD!”
Rainbow realized in horror that what was also infused in the gum was Myra’s fire as her entire body was set ablaze…
“GGGGGRRRRRAAAAAHHHHH!” he hollered in agony as he impulsively dropped to the floor and rolled around, trying to break out of the fiery gum to no avail. The more he rolled around, the more he got stuck to the ground, until he could do nothing but squirm in one place and scream…
This sight was so mortifying to Applejack and Pinkie that they were asphyxiated. They couldn’t even react to Myra and Nero sneaking up on them through their shadows and bringing a sword and a blade of dark energy to their necks respectively.
“The jig is up.” Myra remarked. “We’ll free your friend from the fire in exchange for your surrender.”
“...That’s fine.” Applejack replied solemnly.
“Hold on,” interjected Nero, “that’s not all. We also want intel. You have to tell us whatever we want to know. Understand?!”
“Sure.” Pinkie answered. “Just please let our friend go.”
“You...you mean it?!” Nero exclaimed, shocked to be sensing good in the Pinkie clone that was actually Joseph Baker even after everything he had done. “You don’t find our conditions unreasonable?! You’re not going to try to weasel your way out of this at your “buddy’s” expense? What’s it to scum like you if he suffers?!”
“Nero, please.” Myra pleaded of Nero to calm himself. “I know that they’re monsters, but you of all should know that even a demon can have a heart. Besides, they’re just puppets.”
“Fine, but I’m still going to have my way with this little shit.” Nero asserted, looking at Pinkie menacingly. “For fuck’s sake, even Spira agrees he deserves to suffer…”
Myra and Nero then held up to what they promised as they raised their free hoof towards the gum Rainbow was suffering inside, and absorbed the fire along with the dark and light energy inside of them, reverting it to ordinary aura. Each of them still had their other hoof occupied at Applejack and Pinkie’s throats, however…
“Now then…” they told their hostages. “Tell us who you really are and what you’re doing here…”
“Our real names are Daniel Sofhard, Leon Hayst, and Joseph Baker…” they answered. “We’re from the Awakening project. We don’t have any personal motives, we were just following orders from Rarity, Discord, and the star that brought us to the world of the Spiriting.”
“What star?” Nero asked in confusion.
“The star is part of The Eternal Three, along with Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy.” they explained. “The true Reborn One is using them to complete the Trinity and make his existence known throughout every part of the universe, regardless of where they are in time and space. And the reason the true Reborn One chose them is because they were the most powerful ones in all of the universe...at the time.”
“So the reason for this test is to see if we can replace them…” Myra surmised.
“Yes…” they confirmed Myra’s suspicion. “The true Reborn One isn’t satisfied with just the Trinity. He wants to create new souls who are even more powerful than Twilight, Fluttershy, and the star...and he wants a more powerful replacement for the Trinity. We thought that if we could defeat you and prove our power to the true Reborn One, he’d replace them with us…”
“So you mean to tell us that all this time, you were just trying to help your friends?!” Nero exclaimed in disbelief. “And you were trying to spare us the burden of being his lackey on top of it?! Why would you do something like that?! I thought you were demons!”
“I’ve done terrible things, I know!” Pinkie yelled, knowing where Nero’s anger was coming from. “But please, believe us, we just want to make up for the mistake we made!”
“The whole reason the world of the Spiriting was created was because of our mistake!” Applejack chimed in, speaking in a tone of honest regret. “If we just hadn’t said that The Risen One was right! If only we had believed in the true god!”
“Wha-what the hell happened during that project?!” Nero demanded to know. “How did you influence something like that?! Weren’t Rarity and Discord running the show?!”
“No...The Risen One was.” Applejack replied. “And she’s gone now. Even the Rarity and Discord we originally worked under are gone now, replaced by even more corrupt counterparts, and it’s all our fault.”
“I’m so sorry for everything you’ve had to suffer through.” Pinkie honestly apologized. “We only wanted to end your suffering, stop you from being used by ending it all here…”
For yourselves, I presume. I hope you did not actually think you were going to end our heroes here...
Applejack and Pinkie froze in fear upon hearing Ninja Time God Rarity speak those words in their minds.
If you believe trapping them here forever is mercy, then allow us to be all the more compassionate towards you despite you no longer being of any use to us…
Upon hearing Fantasy God Discord say that, Applejack and Pinkie knew they were doomed, and in desperation, cried out to Myra and Nero…
“SOLVE THE PUZZLE OF THIS TOWER AND GET OUT OF HERE! DON’T LET THEM-GYAH!”
Before they could say anything else, Applejack melted into a pool of apple cider, and Pinkie became nothing more than liquified cake mixture. Both of them dripped down to the gum that their comrade, Rainbow, had been reduced to nothing more than a pile of jelly inside by the fire, where they were absorbed by the gum. And now, the trio of demon gods, are as one. As immortal gods, they still remain alive and conscious inside of the gum that Myra Michaels has now turned to jelly. By her request, we have transported the jelly from the basement and the jelly the demon gods are now to the Immortal World, providing the next group of heroes to tackle the next challenge of Starcatch with the advantage of an extra clue…
This is what NTG Rarity and FG Discord wrote in their book as they mused inside of a familiar area…a church filled with clones of Maud Pie…in a world that was intertwined with itself…