Lessons of Friendship
“I don’t understand.” the Angel said as Twilight and the gang made their way into the next sector.
Each of the doors they passed was etched with a name, and it had been Rainbow Dash who observed that this must have been the Councilors’ living quadrant. They all refused to open the doors, knowing what lay in store for them inside. Nothing more than a dead body in a bed and the items that told of the personality of the deceased Councilor. They all agreed not to face such trauma at all.
“Hm?” Twilight asked as she turned her attention to the DoublePack. “Why was she so willing to destroy that core if all the spirits inside were her friends?” the Angel asked. “Being a friend means you can’t be selfish, she knew that releasing the souls was the kindest thing she could have done, so she released them from their prison.” Twilight explained. “It didn’t seem like a prison to me.” the Angel said. Twilight simply shook her head, “If you were trapped in a place you wanted to escape from, wouldn’t you call it a prison?” she asked. The Angel once again fell silent for a moment, “I suppose so.” she finally responded, “Friendship requires many different things.”
“Not really, just five.” Twilight told her, “The rest are learned as long as you keep those five virtues.”
“Five virtues?” the Angel asked. “Yes; Kindness, Laughter, Honesty, Loyalty, and Generosity.” Twilight listed off, “The magic of friendship is sparked when those elements, or virtues, come together.”
“I see, how is it I have not seen such a simple equation?” the Angel asked. “Are you serious?” Twilight asked, “Remember when Pinkie got us out of that room full of gas?”
“She tickled the computer if I remember.” the DoublePack recalled. “Yes, and when Applejack saved us all from attacking each other?” the purple unicorn asked. “She revealed the truth to us by knocking out the holo-projectors.” the Angel responded. “And Rainbow Dash…” Twilight began. “Was awesome, as usual.” they heard the cyan pegasus say as she trotted up from behind them. Twilight chuckled happily as her overly boastful friend held her head high with pride, “I was going to say never gave up on trying to save us.” she said. “Oh yah, that too.” Rainbow Dash said, and laughed. “And Fluttershy freed the core of the Sentinel by protecting it.” the Angel finished. Rainbow Dash trotted away, a look of utter shock on her face, “I was so that awesome, you’re just jealous cause you didn’t think of using the Element of Loyalty…what do you mean you thought of it first?” Twilight again laughed at the boastfulness of her friend, and at how easily she could argue with herself.
The group continued on their way down the empty corridor with Blade and Breeze leading them through the area. “I’m pretty sure it’s this way.” Breeze said as he stopped and tossed his head to the direction he wanted to go, “It’s not. That’s the way to Councilor Maaz’s maze.” Blade corrected, “I was always taking that turn and getting lost on my way to my correction classes.”
“Really?” Breeze asked. “Really.” Blade admitted, and turned the corner in the opposite direction, and stopped dead in his tracks. Breeze was the only one to follow close enough to see the gruesome sight, blood smeared on the walls, floor and ceiling everywhere, and bodies piled up unceremoniously in the middle of the floor in various degrees of gore. “Let’s not show this to the girls.” Breeze whispered, and Blade nodded quickly before turning back and walking up to Fluttershy. “Uh…wrong way.” he said, and moved back to the hallway that lead into the maze. Fluttershy noticed the look on his face, his ears pinned against his head and a tinge of green to his cheeks, obviously there was something that made him sick, and she knew that whatever affected him, would have scared her for life. She decided to follow him and not look down the hall with the others trailing behind her, none the wiser. What they didn’t see was Zeral as he exited one of the rooms at the corner of the hall that was bloodied, “Far too easy to guide.” he admitted to himself, “It almost lacks the excitement of a hunt.” He pulled from his pocket, a simple holo-screen and turned it on. The picture that was shown, lit up with the actions of Twilight as she fought against his tests, “Almost.” he said as he grinned wickedly.
Blade and the group walked up to the only door at the end of the short hall, “Well,” he said with a sigh, “Here it is, Maaz’s Maze.” He then pushed a hoof against the door, and it slowly slid open, “This place has several levels that get harder and harder to navigate.” he told them as he entered in. “Haven’t you memorized the directions?” Twilight asked, “You said you had been down here many times.”
“There’s no way of memorizing the directions. The walls are designed to move every time somepony trips the sensor at the other end of the hall.” he responded and adopted a rather surprised look, “Saying that is getting easier and easier.” He stepped into the room and glanced around, finding four walls that touched each other at the ends and no way through.
Rarity trotted through the open door, and turned to one side with unimpressed eyes and turned away, only to look back in that direction with surprise in her eyes. At the one side of the room away from her friends was a large box of jewels. Sapphires, rubies, emeralds, every kind of gem she could ever have wanted to use on her dresses sparkled in the light and her eyes as she seemed to be drawn towards them. Twilight turned around to see her friend gladly distracted by the shiny bobbles, “Rarity…” she tried to say, and was surprised when a cage dropped on top of them rather than on top of Rarity.
The white unicorn turned in surprise, and quickly forgot about the gems to make her way to her friends. Surprise took hold of her when the floor from beneath then opened up and the entire cage disappeared into the hole, leaving only a few seconds before it closed up. “NO!” she called out and tried to dig at the ground with her hooves, desperately hoping to free them. She quickly turned around when she heard a familiar laughter, one she hopped never to hear again. Standing behind her stood Zeral, or at least an image of him, “Dig all you like little creature, but it will do you no good.” he said. “Give me back my friends!” she growled in a very unladylike fashion. “Well, that’s not very ladylike,” he said, “and I was being such a gentleman too.” Rarity turned her nose to the sky, ignoring him as much as she could. “You’ll find your friends at the end of the maze, but you’ll have to hurry and get to the end quickly. You all have ten minutes before the maze collapses on you all, a feat that will easily crush anything below 50% Adamantum.”
Rarity broke her concentration, and opened her eyes in surprise. The look she gave him as he vanished while laughing hysterically was of complete shock and disbelief. She stood there for a few seconds in shock before Zeral’s voice echoed over the intercom, “Tick tock little creature, better get going.” he said, causing Rarity to turn and run for the maze.
The first part she found seemed rather simple, a few turns and a small set of stairs to descend, but when she turned the next corner, she was quickly ceased upon by a multitude of tiny red lights, “DUCK!” the Sapphire shouted into her head, and Rarity tucked herself behind the wall she had just turned around, just in time to dodge a shot from out of nowhere that would have hit her in her head. “Sniper machines.” the Sapphire explained, “Their based off of movement.” Rarity looked to the ceiling and whined, “Oh, why can’t it be like the Diamond Dog incident?”
“Because Zeral is trying to kill us, not use us to gather jewels.” the Sapphire responded, “Just turn invisible. If they can’t see you they can’t shoot you.” Rarity looked to her reflection in the metallic wall with doubt, “Are you sure of this?” she asked. “More sure than I am of what that dress you promised should look like, now let’s help our friends.” Rarity took a deep breath, nodded, and closed her eyes, focusing on the jewels she had all around her. The light bent around her, curving with her and passing right by, making it seem as if she had vanished all together.
Without a word, she jumped out into the open, squeezing her eyes shut tighter and waiting for the sound of gun fire. It never came, instead when she opened her eye to peek at what was taking so long, she found the little lights aimlessly wandering the floor in front of her. She finally opened her other eyes, and heard the Sapphire gasp in a dramatic shock, “You doubted me?” the NanoPack asked, “Oh woe is me, how will this friendship survive such travesty?”
“Please tell me that’s not what I sound like?” Rarity asked. The Sapphire sighed, “I was in the zone Rarity, but I must warn you not to touch the lights at all, because of the way your invisibility works, the scanners of the Sniper Machines will sense you instantly if they catch you in their sights.” Rarity simply gulped, and then nodded, sneaking her way past the sights of the automated guns. The further she got the more confident she became, until she finally made it to the end. “Well,” she whispered to herself, “that was rather easyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” she began screaming as she fell through a small patch in the floor, but what she didn’t realize was a small mechanical claw as it reached out and plucked one of her jewels right off of her armored flank.