Comet and Spike begin to share their secrets, as another tragedy hits the other world.
“What!?” Comet screamed as he descended the stairway. “Wait, what are you talking about!?”
Shining Armor turned around and chastised the psychologist through gritted teeth. “Keep it down! You want everypony in town to hear you?”
Lowering his voice, Comet continued. “What are you talking about, how do you know this?”
“How do I know what?” He asked, diverting his gaze.
“The… thing you mentioned earlier!”
“The Order of the Flame,” Spike interjected.
“Yeah, them. How do you know they were involved in the attack? Who are they, anyway?”
“They’re a cult,” Shining explained.
“Yeah, I got that.”
Shining quickly inspected the room to ensure they were alone. “About a week before… before the attack…” he explained. “We picked up some chatter from The Order.”
“I… see,” Comet replied.
“Who?” Spike asked.
“Celestia’s Royal Intelligence Service. I didn’t realize they investigated cults.”
“They investigate some.”
The prince started to trot toward the kitchen. “We weren’t able to get many details, all we knew was that they were planning something a week after.” He sat down at the kitchen table, his head getting heavy. “Then…” tears rolled down his face. “Then Sugarcube Corner was attacked and…”
As Shining dried his face, Comet continued his interrogation. “What details did you get?”
He looked at the psychologist with deadly eyes. “If I had any idea that-”
He held up a hoof. “That’s not what I’m asking,” the unicorn explained.
Shining sighed. “All we knew was that it was big, and they were planning it for a while.”
“Attacking a bakery in the middle of a small town doesn’t seem that big,” Comet mused.
“I know,” he choked.
The shrink began to process the new information. Eventually coming to a conclusion. “Oh, son of a bitch,” he responded. “Why wasn’t I told about this!?”
Shining got to his hooves. “I have no idea! In fact, you should have been told from day one!”
“Oh, no, I think I know why. So there wouldn’t be any pressure!” he exclaimed in anger.
“I’m… lost,” Spike commented.
Comet rubbed his face in frustration, and explained. “He wasn’t attacking the bakery. He was attacking…”
“…The Elements of Harmony!” the dragon cried in realization.
With all the force he could muster, Comet threw his front hoof into the kitchen table, sending it flying across the room, and screamed as loudly as he could, expressing all his frustration in one simple burst.
His hoof was bleeding. “DAMN IT!”
His eyes were watering.
Comet closed his eyes, and began to take deep breaths, as the tears rolled down his face.
Spike had wasted no time with the bandages for his guardian’s hoof.
“Look, I got to go,” Shining explained, holding up the letter. “I gotta deal with this.”
Comet’s natural curiosity was triggered. “What’s going to happen to her?” he asked.
Shining paused. “Nothing good,” he explained with a tremor, before trotting off.
Spike mended the shrink’s hoof in silence.
After a few wraps, Comet made a simple observation: “You’re pretty good at that.”
“Twilight was always a bit accident-prone,” he commented with a laugh.
“So…” the unicorn continued, hesitantly. “We never got a chance to talk about that.”
Spike froze briefly. “Talk about what?” he asked, continuing his task.
“Your dream. We never got a chance to properly talk about that dream. All you told me was that Twilight was alive, and that a dragon attacked Sweet Apple Acres.”
“Yeah.” Spike cut the bandage, and tied it off, finishing the job.
“Is there anything else?”
“You can put your hoof down.”
Comet complied. “Spike, are you avoiding me?” he asked, sincerely.
Spike tipped the table back onto its legs, and started dragging it to its previous position. “No,” he replied.
“You’re lying again.”
He avoided the shrink’s gaze, as he asked a simple question. “What did you mean when you said he should have told you, and you said there’d be no pressure?”
The unicorn paused to collect his thoughts. “Spike,” he said. “Why do you think I’m here?”
“I thought it was a legal thing.”
“Technically… and officially. Someone needed to act as your guardian. But any of your friends could have done that. You know that. Why do you really think I’m here?”
Spike didn’t hesitate. “To replace Twilight.”
Comet took a deep breath before continuing. “Well, you’re close. I’ll bet most of your friends think the same thing. But it’s not. Before I left Canterlot, Celestia summoned me for a private meeting. She explained how important the elements were, and how they worked. My job is to maintain the elements and make sure they don’t fall apart. I need to find Twilight’s replacement. Which hasn’t been easy.”
Comet nodded. “You can’t just pick someone to replace an element bearer. It’s a bit more complicated than that. They tie together in such intimate ways, I can’t just fill a void I don’t fit.”
“Oh,” Spike responded. “But why you?”
“I’m a psychiatrist, and I think Celestia thinks I’ll know how exactly to stabilize the darn things, because of that.” His gaze shifted back to the dragon. “Now, your turn.”
“The dream,” he replied with a smile. “I think we need to talk about it.”
“And if I don’t want to?” he asked.
“I think you should anyway.”
Spike took a deep breath, and sat on one of the chairs. “You sure you don’t need a coffee or something?”
Pulling out a notepad, Comet responded. “No, I’m running on adrenaline. I’m good.”
He sighed once again. “Okay, well… what do you want to know?”
“How did this start?”
“You mean Twilight.”
He looked at his hand, and noticed the blue gem. “Right, yeah. Twilight died.”
The psychologist scribbled in his notepad. “What’s with the ring?”
“Well, I noticed it broke a while ago, but I thought it had a green gem.”
Spike shuffled nervously. “Yeah, I put a blue stone in it here, just to help me keep things straight. It matches Rarity’s cutie mark,” he explained with a smile. “I wear a pink one with Twilight.”
“I see.” He scribbled a bit more. “So, it feels completely real to you?”
“They both do.”
“So you can’t tell if this is a dream or not.”
He shook his head.
“I see.” Comet paused for thought. “Have you tried looking for inconsistencies, ’cause that would be a sure-fire sign.”
“Um… I guess.”
“Well, you’re going to have to look for them if you want to find them.”
Spike rubbed his claws nervously.
“Do you want this to continue?”
He paused again. “I’m not sure.”
The doctor didn’t respond. He let the silence build tension.
“You know,” the dragon eventually responded. “It doesn’t feel like anypony died. I mean, as far as I can tell, that dragon didn’t kill anyone. He just separated them.”
“Is that making you more comfortable? Helping you deal with things?”
Comet leaned forward slightly. “Spike, pretending Twilight’s not dead will only stall the grieving process. And that’s just not healthy. You can’t pretend that didn’t happen.”
“Why not? I don’t want to lose my best friend!”
“Alright!” he responded, slowly leaning back. “Have you told anyone else about this?”
Spike rubbed his claws together. “Just Fluttershy.”
“Well… the other Fluttershy.”
“The one in your dream.”
“What did she say?”
Fluttershy nervously placed the tea set on the table, and sat across from her young friend.
Spike picked up his cup, already filled, and said, “You know, we don’t have to do this today.”
“No, no, we made plans, so let’s keep them,” she said with an obviously fake smile.
“Alright.” He took a sip.
“So, anything interesting happen?”
“Didn’t I already tell you?” he asked.
“Tell me again.”
“Okay, um… well, you know what a qilin is, right?”
“Well, one attacked Carousel Boutique, and we all went after it.”
“And that’s how you knew how to find the dragon.”
“How’d you know it was connected?”
He paused before responding. “I don’t know.”
“She’s been pretty helpful.” Spike replied.
“What about your other friends?” the shrink asked. “What about Applejack, Rainbow Dash?”
“They don’t know.”
Comet chuckled. “No, I mean, how are they handling things?”
“Just as well as they’re handling things here,” he explained. “Or… at least, they were, until Sweet Apple Acres was destroyed.”
“No, no, there are a few patches still intact.”
“See, Spike?” he explained. “That’s it.”
“You said you can’t tell the difference between the dream and reality.”
“But that’s the clue. You lost your best friend, so your mind created a perfect world where you didn’t lose her.”
“Perfect?” he responded incredulously. “Rarity’s dead over there.”
“Only because your mind is trying to trick you. Trying to make it seem just imperfect enough to make you think it’s reality. It tried to equalize everything, but Fluttershy’s not a recluse, Rainbow and Applejack are doing well. It created a fantasy world where everything’s perfect.”
“It’s not perfect,” the dragon responded.
“It’s a lot better, it’s almost perfect and that’s pretty damn close.”
“It’s not even that, it’s…” Tears started to run down his face.
“So, how did Rarity handle it?” Fluttershy asked.
“The destruction of her home? Not well.”
“And what about Pinkie Pie?” she asked with no hesitation. She’d asked it so many times, but it was the first time that it affected her. But she didn’t let it show.
“… As happy as she ever was. She doesn’t blame herself anymore. It’s like the old Pinkie’s back.”
A tear rolled down Fluttershy’s face.
“Sorry,” he replied.
“Spike?” Comet asked. “What’s wrong?”
The procession returned to the ruined farmland. Their hearts heavy from recent revelations.
“Are you sure?” Rainbow asked.
Twilight turned to address her friend. “Yes, I’m sure. There was something more to Rarity’s death, and the attack here. We just have to figure out what it is.”
She levitated the letter before her, held together with magic, and written in another language.
“The clues are here, we just need to piece them together.”
As they trotted up the front porch, Twilight noticed just how quiet everything was.
She eased the door open, and shouted, “Applejack?”
She turned around, and walked past her friends without a word.
“Where is everypony?” she asked aloud.
Then, it was as if fate called on them, as the small group spotted a familiar orange pony galloping across the fields.
Twilight led the five-some, as they ran toward their friend, sensing a bizarre urgency.
“Twilight!” the farmer screamed in distress and fear. “We can’t find Pinkie Pie! We can’t find her.”
“Applejack, calm down,” she replied, grabbing a hold of her earth pony friend. “What’s going on?”
“It’s Pinkie,” she explained. “I haven’t seen her all day, nopony has.”
“What’s the big deal?” Rainbow responded with a wave of her hoof. “So you haven’t seen Pinkie. You think she was eaten by an apple tree or something?” Suddenly, her eyes widened. “Wait… is that possible?” her gaze shifted to a nearby tree.
“Of course it isn’t!” the farmer snapped. “But she hasn’t been the same these last few days, I’m worried about her.”
“Don’t worry, Applejack,” Twilight responded, in her most reassuring tone. “We’ll find her.” The unicorn spun around to address her companions. “Alright; Rainbow, Fluttershy, take to the air, see if you can find her up there.”
“Got it!” Rainbow cried, saluting before taking off.
Her companion followed closely.
“Spike, Sweetie Belle,” she continued. “I want you two to check the west field. There are a few barns over there, she might be hiding in that area. Applejack”–she turned around–“you and I are going to the east field. Alright?”
She nodded hesitantly.
The two of them took off.
“Come on, Sweetie Belle,” Spike ordered. “We should get going.”
The young filly followed her friend, and started asking some pertinent questions. “You think she’s alright?”
“Yeah, sure she is,” he replied.
“Then why does Applejack look so worried?”
He paused for a brief moment. “She’s just stressed. Come on.”
The two of them began to pick up the pace.
Spike pushed the barn door open. “Pinkie!?” he cried.
“I’m starting to get worried, Spike,” Sweetie exclaimed.
“Yeah, me too.”
As they walked away from the structure, the duo found themselves in one of the few areas of the orchard that remained untouched by the attack. Another sliver of hope for the farm’s future. But they wasted no time admiring the scenery.
“It’s been a half-hour, I think she’s hiding. Why would she be hiding from us?”
He directed his gaze skyward. Between the leaves, he saw a yellow mare fly past. They hadn’t found her.
“Come on,” the dragon replied, as he started to run through the forest.
“Maybe she’s hiding in the trees,” she mused. But there was no sign of the pink earth pony anywhere. Even in the densely packed leaves typical of apple trees, Pinkie would have stood out like a sore hoof.
“Just keep your eyes open,” he responded.
She ran on ahead of him, at her fastest speed. The young dragon felt the need to try to keep up with her, but quickly found himself outmatched.
“Sweetie Belle, wait up!” he cried.
She spun around, and stopped near a small boulder that sat at the edge of the treeline.
“Sorry, I’m just starting…” her attention was caught by the stone, which caught Spike’s attention as well.
When he finally reached her, he asked, “What is it?”
He followed her gaze, and spotted, partially covered by the rock, a small piece of paper, sitting on a small mound of upturned soil.
He grabbed the folded-up note, and noticed it was quite new. The paper was crisp and the ink was dark. But the most shocking thing to the young dragon, was the contents of the letter.
“To Everypony,” he read aloud. “I want to say I’m sorry. I know you’ll never understand, but I had to do this. I couldn’t keep letting my friends get hurt. I’m sure now, it’ll stop following me. I love you all. Pinkie.”
The unicorn stood there, in slight confusion. “What does that mean!?”
Unfortunately for Spike, he knew exactly what it meant. His eyes traced the landscape, and he saw it. Several metres past the treeline, the soil was cut off along the sheer cliff face.
He quickly ran toward the edge, and peered over it.
But before Sweetie Belle caught up with the dragon, he grabbed her by the shoulders, stopping her.
“Sweetie Belle,” he explained. “You don’t want to see this.”
“Why? Wha…” then everything dawned on her. “Did she…?”
His lower lip quivered. “Yeah,” he replied, as a tear rolled down his face.
Spike looked to the air, and saw a familiar face, Rainbow Dash, looking with inquisition.
A second later, the champion racer zoomed past the duo, and down the cliff face.
Sweetie Belle didn’t hesitate to rush past her friend, and stare over the edge.
He joined her, and they peered into the stony depths.
“Oh… Oh no…” Spike turned, and saw that Fluttershy had joined them. “I…is that…?”
“… Yeah,” he replied solemnly. Without another word, he passed her the letter.
Futtershy read it over, and had only one thing to say. “… Bu… but it wasn’t…”
“I know,” he replied, nearly breaking apart.
He turned around, no longer able to stand the sight, and saw Sweetie Belle, breaking down, tears streaming across her face.
“I… I don’t…” Fluttershy said.
“Somepony needs to tell the others,” Spike explained.
“I’ll do it,” Rainbow replied as she floated over the edge, her voice trembling. “I’ll tell them.”
The Bearer of Loyalty touched down. Tears flowed down her face, her hooves soaked in blood.
Rainbow Dash gently lowered the twisted and bloodied form of Pinkamena Diane Pie.
Comet was nearly stunned. “She… killed herself?”
“Yeah,” he replied, still obviously distressed.
The unicorn exhaled deeply.
“Why would I dream a fantasy world where one of my best friends killed herself!?”
He sat there, as thoughts rushed through his head. He came up with several responses, but couldn’t bring himself to repeat any of them. So, Comet simply replied, “I’m not sure.”
Spike bowed his head.
“Maybe…” he began. “Forget it, we’ll um… talk about this later.”
As the psychiatrist got to his hooves, Spike remained in his seat, unsure of himself.
“You want a cup of tea?” Comet asked.
Spike nodded, solemnly.
The author would like to personally thank Periphery for all his help in preparing this chapter for publication.