Intermission

“We need to talk.”

“We?” said Trixie. “Who is this ‘we’? Trixie doesn’t see a ‘we’. Trixie sees an insufferable foal of a unicorn, blocking her imminent exit!”

Twilight sighed in exasperation. “Fine! I need to talk.”

“Fine! Trixie does not need to listen.”

That was too much for Twilight. “Does SO! I mean… Trixie, this is important! I asked Applejack once what the provenance of that item was, and she couldn’t tell me. I used that thing, Trixie! Maybe you noticed.”

“Trixie noticed you weren’t as good as—who was that orange one, Applejack? It doesn’t matter. Be gone with you! Trixie is leaving!”

“Not before we talk about that magic item,” insisted Twilight Sparkle. “Forgive me for saying it, but I didn’t think you were that powerful. Certainly not powerful enough to compel us all to come and… service you.”

“Trixie appreciates your…”

Twilight cut in. “You’re not. You are not that powerful. And you said, ‘I’m not, idiot, it has me too’! I need you to explain what you meant by that. What was that thing?”

Trixie glowered. “Trixie made it…”

Twilight’s horn glowed faintly, menacingly. “Use your pronouns. That’s when you were talking sense to us. When you use third person, it’s something creepy and weird.”

“I made it,” said Trixie, with a bitter glare. “I did make it.”

“You said you made it too well.”

“I still made it, damn you.”

Twilight considered this. “From the feel of it, it seemed to be drawing on the gender matrix of the pony and applying a magical polarity inversion…”

This seemed to cheer Trixie somewhat, as if she hadn’t been able to hear such talk for a long time. “Ha! You WOULD think it that simple, but Trixie soon found that such techniques got nowhere, because of conservation of mass…”

“Oh!” said Twilight. “Of course! Unless you proposed to liquefy internal organs and use those as the mass, which might work if you were able to…”

“Trixie suggests,” sneered the blue unicorn, “that you consider what is adjacent to the area in question.”

Twilight’s eyes widened, and she made a face. “Ew. Um… thank you for not using that approach, Trixie. But… if you didn’t do that, how did you get the mass? My stal… um, in some cases there’s a lot of mass, and it doesn’t seem to come from us. Where does it come from?”

Trixie glared, angry again. “Who cares? It’s gone, Twilight Sparkle. Go away. Trixie is leaving.”

“No!” yelled Twilight Sparkle, and Trixie froze for a moment, only to narrow her eyes and sneer.

“And why not? You are not going to stop me. You never stopped Trixie. You humiliated Trixie by floating an Ursa Major…”

“Ursa Minor,” corrected Twilight, automatically.

Trixie stared. “Ursa Minor, then. You are absurd! Yes, you told everyone, didn’t you? You could have let Trixie go on believing that you’d shamed her with the Ursa Major, but no, you are too self-effacing and kind, even now. Foal! You will not stop Trixie. Trixie is leaving!”

“Not before you tell me what we were all using to grow penises! What is the provenance of that magic? Where did you get the added mass? What did it do to us?”

Twilight was almost shrieking these questions, and Trixie backed off, watchful.

“Will you admit that Trixie is the most powerful unicorn in the…”

“YES! Who cares? I don’t care! Think what you want, just tell me what that magic was doing to us!”

Trixie sat on her haunches. “Very well. And once Trixie has told you, Trixie will go, and you will not stop her. And the only reason Trixie will tell you—is that you could not rival her in this.”

Twilight listened. Her horn still glowed faintly as she watched Trixie’s every move.

“Trixie had considered trying to make an energy portal to spirits of love, since it was a thing for love-making and her unicorn friend at that time loved her, but every attempt failed. Revolting flaccid useless things! Insulting. Like what Trixie suspects you’d make, if you tried.”

Twilight glared, but didn’t interrupt.

“No, more masculine forces were needed! Trixie cast out, seeking sources of energy and a channel to something with the potency and mass, and explored her deepest feelings—jealousy—rage—and then at last, resonating with the very feelings of frustration that drove the experiment, Trixie located a source of pure insatiability…”

“Where?” snapped Twilight.

“Trixie does not know, or care! And this source resonated with her deepest feelings and channeled itself into the magic bit, trapped forever in the…”

“You sucked in some random spirit of insatiability into your focus, you didn’t know what it was, and you’re happy about it?”

Trixie snarled. “It worked. And you couldn’t have done it. Only Trixie could do it.”

“And why is that?” demanded Twilight.

The words were cold. “Trixie already hated and desired ponies more than you could ever imagine, by this point. Trixie’s life sucked. It’s the conflict within the spirit that gave it such force. It was the conflict within Trixie that let her tap it. Lust is not driven by harmony. You have to have the fire, the polarity. Only Trixie could trap this fire. Nice little Twilight can only warm herself before it, for all her Ursa-lifting cleverness.”

This left Twilight Sparkle speechless, staring into those hating, passionate eyes.

Trixie smirked, not kindly. “And that is why you will fail. Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle.”

“No,” said Twilight, not looking up.

“Trixie requires you to step aside, foal…”

“NO!” yelled Twilight Sparkle, and the look in her eyes when she met Trixie’s gaze was indeed full of fire, and Trixie fell back a pace—but then, began to laugh.

“Trixie already knew you were powerful, foal! It won’t help you! You won’t be able to tap into this, Trixie is sure of it! Destroy Trixie’s worthless life if you please, you still will never get what you seek!”

“Again with the worthless life stuff? And will you stop using third person! It’s not correct grammar for a pony to talk about herself that way!”

“Pah! You don’t have the nerve to face Trixie and.. urk!”

Trixie stopped, suddenly. Telekinetic pressure had seized her throat, and squeezed.

“Oh? ‘Twilight’ says to cut it out. Now.”

Trixie swallowed, awkwardly. The pressure was alarmingly tight. “I’m leaving.”

“You’re not leaving.”

“You’re not going to kill me. You’re obviously too nice.”

“Who would notice,” asked Twilight Sparkle, “if I did?”

“Point,” said Trixie, her eyes bulging. “You still can’t make another bit. You’d better not hurt me. I’m the only one who can do it.”

The pressure slackened, but didn’t entirely release.

“Good,” said Twilight Sparkle. “We’ll do that.”

“What?” said Trixie.

“You’re going to live with me—and we are going to make another one. We’ll try to do it without the curse—I hope we can make it work without the curse. I’ll help you.”

“I’m not doing it,” said Trixie. “I won’t. Understand—it’s great that I’m better than you at this one thing. I’m laughing at you because I’m better than you at this one, crazy, sick thing. It comes from me being crazy, and sick, and bad, and even if you kill me you won’t be that sick and you can’t do it. But I’m not doing it again, Twilight Sparkle.”

“You are.”

“You saw how it was. I’m free of that now. I might be able to lead,” said Trixie, and her face twisted and she spat—“a ‘normal life’, and I’ll never have to see any of you again. I can start over and stay started over. Don’t you understand that?”

“I don’t care. I’m sorry, did it seem like I was giving you a choice? We’re doing this. You’re going to try, with me there to help you get it right this time—or you’re going to face me.”

That stopped Trixie. She looked the other unicorn over, again, remembering the astonishing things she’d seen. What was she truly capable of?

“You think you can do this with me? Make it come out right? There’s nothing right about it, Twilight Sparkle. The kinds of forces it requires are not nice forces. I did it, and it destroyed my life, and it killed ponies before it was destroyed itself. You can’t tame that force. It won’t work.”

“I will. You’ll tap it, I’ll control it, and we’ll get that bit back, in usable form,” said Twilight.

“But what if you’re not that good? What if you can’t?”

Trixie’s breath caught as she saw the look in Twilight’s eye—and felt the telekinetic grip on her throat tighten, warningly.

“We’ll do it anyway. I’ll take care of you when it goes wrong again and calls all the ponies to you. I took some mental notes on how we did it.”

“You did?” squeaked Trixie. The throat-grip lessened a hair.

“I couldn’t get up, but I heard everything. It seems Lyra wanted you. Pinkie wanted you, too. They were sincere, and that broke the curse. I guess they didn’t figure out how nasty you really are, huh?”

Trixie was speechless. Twilight wasn’t done.

“Maybe we can keep them from hating you.”

Trixie was used to dealing out contempt. She was not used to being on the receiving end.

Twilight continued to explain how things really stood. “I don’t actually care if they hate you as long as I can keep you physically safe. If you’re a necessary part of this project, I’ll keep you alive even if I have to keep you in a cage.”

Trixie stared at her, astonished. She’d taken this Twilight Sparkle for a real do-gooder, powerful yes, but surely not dangerous. All good ponies could be manipulated or daunted. Twilight had been so obviously a good pony. What could have got into the nice unicorn to turn her away from her silly moral compass, enough to be a real threat?

“Why are you doing this to me?”

Twilight Sparkle’s eyes were completely pitiless.

“I want my stallion back.”

Trixie returned that unblinking gaze—understood everything—and was afraid.