Preparing for the Journey
Celestia stepped out of the strange Discord statue, or as the name on his suit said, 'Captain Good Guy'. She got a feeling of nostalgia. She remembered 'hopping' happily to this world to meet Sombra and hang out with him. But this time, she wasn't here to hang out. She was here to cure Sombra from the dark magic he had absorbed, and most likely, she would have to fight him. And in the end, there's a daunting possibility that all of this would not work.
Celestia pushed the pessimist thoughts aside and trotted further, with Twilight and her friends a few steps behind her. This alternate Canterlot Castle seemed different this time. It was much more ...shiny? More colorful and alive. The destroyed sections of the castle, as well as the statues, were fixed. There were beautiful big trees and birds singing everywhere. Yes, this place felt more alive.
"Wow! Looks like the Two Sisters of this world have done well in ruling and rebuilding Canterlot!" Rarity said in amazement.
Speaking of the Two Sisters...
Celestia was pinned to the ground with a tight embrace from the other Luna.
Celestia sighed and muttered, "Somethings never change, even in an alternate universe!"
"Good morning, Tia!" Luna exclaimed cheerfully, loosening her embrace and standing up.
Celestia stood up and dusted herself, "I'm so sorry, Luna. But I'm not your true sister."
"Pfft! I know that! I've just saw you all trotting out of that statue. Besides, I can recognize my true sister. I can't believe you managed to travel here again! It's been a long time."
"Yeah. Glad to see you again, Luna," Celestia replied, Glad to see you again?! I've just finished saying 'take care of yourself' to you! I think this is going to be very confusing for everypony, she thought.
"After you left, me and my sister abandoned our old castle and moved to live here and rule Canterlot," Luna said.
"What's happening there, Luna?" came Celestia's voice from behind Luna. It was her. The 'mirror' Celestia, with her distinguished, Anugyptian look. She trotted slowly towards Luna.
"Sister! Look. It's them! They managed to visit us again," Luna said, turning to face her true sister.
"Oh my! I can't believe this!" The mirror-Celestia said, trotting towards the original Celestia.
"Glad to meet you, Princess me!" Celestia said jokingly, before she and her mirror self shook hooves, smiling widely at each other.
"It's been a long time since you guys helped us save our Equestria," said the mirror-Celestia. Then, she turned to Twilight and her friends. "Welcome, Princess Twilight Sparkle. Welcome everypony. It's such an honor to meet you all again."
"My pleasure, Princess...Celestia," Twilight replied, feeling the confusion of the situation.
"We didn't have time to thank you before you departed the previous time you were here. We're so thankful that you brought the Elements of Harmony here, and Sombra used them to cure us. And...I'm so sorry about what happened to him," the Anugyptian-looking Celestia replied sadly.
Celestia's smile faded, her heart ached and she felt her eyes flooding with tears. But she shook her head and managed to speak. "Th-that's okay. What happened, happened."
"But don't worry. We're here to change what happened," Twilight said to the other Celestia.
"What?" The alternate Celestia asked.
"We're here to return King Sombra back to his mind and get rid of the dark magic he absorbed," Rainbow Dash replied.
The alternate Celestia widened her eyes, "Really? That's so brave and noble! Can I and my sister do anything to help you accomplish this mission?"
The original Celestia opened her mouth to speak, but she was cut off by the growling of her stomach, causing her to blush.
Twilight stifled a giggle and managed to speak, "I think a breakfast would be nice for now."
Celestia smiled sheepishly. "Yes, I guess so."
A servant carrying a trey with a cup of tea approached the original Celestia from behind, not looking who's in front of him. "Your highness, here's your teacup. May I say that your new look is absolutely fabulous!"
Celestia widened her eyes at the bowing unicorn servant and tried her best to not laugh, while everyone else covered their mouths to silence their own giggles.
"Ah, I'm sorry, but she is your true Princess, not me," Celestia said, pointing towards the alternate Celestia.
The servant turned his head and stared in shock at his true Princesses. Luna stifling a giggle while the alternate Celestia just raised an eyebrow at her servant. He darted his widened eyes back and forth between his true, Anugyptian-looking Princess and the cape-less Celestia, before he galloped and bowed in front of his true Princess, with the try still in his magic grasp, "Your highness! I-I'm so sorry! Here's your tea!"
The alternate Celestia glanced at her giggle-stifling sister, then the servant, "You think her look is fabulous? Does that mean my look is becoming old or something?" She asked, not angry for real, but she was both annoyed and wanted to see the servant's reaction just for fun.
The servant shook in fear but managed to reply, "N-n-no! That's not what I meant at all, Your Highness!"
The alternate Celestia giggled, "That's okay. I'm not mad at all. I know this situation is confusing and probably it will be hard to hide this. But could you please not tell anypony about the other me?"
"Of-of course I won't, Your Highness!"
She took the teacup and motioned the servant to leave. "Good. You can leave now."
The servant gave a bow and left, with a last glance at the strange crowd behind him.
Once the servant left, Twilight's friends and even Celestia and the alternate Luna unleashed their laughs.
"Now, come on, everypony. After the sound I heard from my...fabulous self's stomach, I think you need a breakfast," the alternate Celestia said.
"Yes, please! I'm starving!" Pinkie replied.
The alternate Celestia giggled, "Okay then. Follow me."
Inside the castle
Everyone sat down around a long table that had all kinds of breakfast food on it. The alternate Celestia sat down at a seat in front of one of the table's ends, her sister sat on her left and the original Celestia sat on Luna's left. While Twilight and company sat beside each other on Celestia's left.
"So, how did you manage to travel here again? I thought there were paradoxes and awful consequences of traveling between the two Equestrias?" the alternate Celestia asked, taking a sip from her teacup.
Celestia swallowed a cupcake before she replied, "Well, no more consequences. My faithful student, Twilight Sparkle, has fixed the mirror and improved it so that traveling between the two Equestrias is completely safe."
"Wow! That's really impressive, Twilight! You must be so proud of her, Celestia," the alternate Celestia said.
"I've never been more proud," Celestia replied.
"It...It was nothing. Anything for my mentor," Twilight said, blushing lightly.
"No, Twilight. It wasn't 'nothing'. You spent sleepless nights just to make this for me. You should be proud of yourself," Celestia said, causing Twilight's blush-full smile to widen.
"But, may I ask you something?" Luna spoke up, "Where are your Elements of Harmony? How will you cure Sombra without them?"
"Oh, don't worry. We have them right here..." Rainbow Dash replied, tapping her hoof on her chest and receiving raised eyebrows from the alternate Celestia and Luna, "You see, after a battle with a huge villain, we became the Elements of Harmony! Now we use something called Rainbow Power. It's even stronger than the old power of the Elements of Harmony. Not to mention that Twilight gained a castle!"
"Wow! That's so interesting!" Luna said excitedly.
"Yeah! Rainbow Power makes us look..." Rainbow Dash began her statement, but was cut off by her friends.
"It makes us look fabulous," Rarity said, adjusting her mane.
"Makes us look like some super-doper pony toys!" Pinkie said.
"Makes us look strong," Applejack said.
"Makes us look cute," Fluttershy said.
Twilight face hoofed.
"Anyway, I was going to say that it makes us look so awesome!" Rainbow Dash finally completed her statement.
"Rainbow Power is the result of mixing the Elements of Harmony with us. That's all I know so far," Twilight said, taking a chomp from her pancake.
A few seconds later, Celestia finished eating. She drank a cup of water and took a deep breath before she spoke. "So, tell me, where is Sombra now?"
"Sombra has attacked us several times before. But most of the time, he's Sir Discord and Princess Trixie's problem in the Crystal Empire," the alternate Celestia replied, "We mostly think that Sombra's lair is in the Crystal Mountains. You can take a train to the Crystal Empire. And from there, you can head to the Mountains and it won't take too long before you met the Protector of the First Crystal Mountain. He's the one that ensures that no pony gets in trouble in the Mountains, because no pony should even exist in there. It's full of dangerous creatures. And if you encounter any of these creatures, you'll most likely meet the Protector."
"Protector of the First Mountain? Sounds cool to me!" Rainbow Dash muttered.
"Dangerous creatures?! Oh my...!" Fluttershy whispered in fear.
"Princess Trixie?!" Twilight exclaimed in shock.
"Geez! I thought Sir Discord was strange enough!" Spike whispered.
"Yes, Princess Trixie. She married Sir Discord and ruled the Crystal Empire beside him shortly after you guys departed," the alternate Celestia said.
"MARRIED HIM?!" Twilight and her friends exclaimed.
"Holy apples!" Applejack said, scratching the back of her head.
"Well, I think they're a cute couple," Rarity said.
"Oh, Discord! I really wish I had attended his wedding!" Fluttershy said with tears of joy in her eyes.
Twilight sighed. "Don't get so excited, Fluttershy. Your true Discord friend is still in our Equestria. And I don't think he's getting married any soon."
"These are very useful information. Thank you so much. Now, excuse us, we have to leave." Celestia replied, standing up.
"Wait! I will accompany you," Luna said.
"Me too," the alternate Celestia said.
"Oh no, you won't! You have to stay here to take care of everything. Besides, Sombra doesn't need the confusion of seeing two Celestias. He needs to see only one Celestia, and she's right here..." Luna replied, pointing at Celestia.
The alternate Celestia sighed, "Fine. Go with them. But take care of yourself."
Twilight and her friends said their goodbyes, as they, Luna and Celestia trotted towards the exit. While the other Celestia stood up and called the servants to clean the table.
"I'm going on an adventure and you're not!" Luna teased as she trotted happily beside Celestia.
"Don't be so cocky, Moonbutt!" the alternate Celestia joked.
"You're the one being jealous, Sunbutt!" Luna joked back.
Celestia widened her eyes in shock, as she and the others literally struggled to hold their laughter inside.
"D-did you just call your sister Sunbutt? And she called you Moonbutt?!" Celestia asked quietly. She received a happy nod from Luna, "Oh my!"
"Now, follow me. We have to back up some useful things for our journey before we catch up with the train," Luna said, leading the others.
In the train station
After half an hour or so of packing their saddle bags, Celestia, Luna Spike and the Elements of Harmony stood in the train station, watching as the train to the Crystal Empire stopped and ponies began to move in and out of it. All the time the passing ponies were giving Celestia and the others around her strange looks, but they tried to ignore them.
Celestia stared at the train blankly, lost in thoughts. She was going there. Going to meet him. Finally, after years of thinking that she would live alone forever, she's going to see Sombra. But it wasn't going to be a happy meeting at first. Will she be able to fight him? To force herself to fight her true love? She has to. It's the only way to save him. But still, she was afraid that she won't be able to do anything. Will he remember her? He has to! The real Sombra she loves is still inside the monster they were going to fight.
"Hello! Tia?" Luna said, waving her hoof in front of Celestia's face and snapping her out of her thoughts, "Are you still with us?"
Celestia smiled, "Don't worry. I'm still here."
"Are you okay, Princess?" Twilight asked.
"Yes, yes. I'm fine. Let's just get in the train." Celestia replied, gesturing to the train.
"Into the alternate Crystal Empire!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, hopping happily into the train.
"Oh yeah!" Rainbow Dash dashed inside the train after Pinkie.
"I always loved the Crystal Empire. I hope this alternate Equestria won't make me hate it," Rarity muttered, stepping into the train.
"I wonder how Discord acts in this world," Fluttershy said, stepping after Rarity.
"I just hope we'll get to see the alternate Appleoosa one day." Applejack entered the train.
"I have both good and bad feelings about this journey, and that's really bothering me," Spike said, before he stepped into the train.
Twilight and Luna stepped into the train and glanced back to see Celestia still standing in front of the train doors and staring at the ground.
"Princess Celestia?" Twilight called in concern.
Celestia turned her gaze towards Twilight, "Twilight, I... I will never forgive myself if anything happens to any of you in this journey. It was my mistakes that started all this and..."
Twilight quickly approached Celestia and placed her right foreleg on her mouth to silence her, "No, Princess! It wasn't your fault. Love is not a mistake. You deserve love. Everypony deserves love. And about us, we volunteered to go on this journey. If anything goes wrong, it's NOT your fault!"
A teary smile crept to Celestia's face. She placed her right foreleg on Twilight's back and gave her a short hug.
"Thank you, Twilight. You keep impressing me," Celestia said.
With that, Celestia stepped into the train with Twilight. The doors closed behind them as the train took off to the Crystal Empire.
Celestia, Luna, Spike and the Elements of Harmony sat in seats close to each other. Pinkie and Fluttershy sat beside each other. In front of them were Rainbow Dash and Applejack, then Rarity and Spike, then Twilight and Luna, while Celestia sat alone in front of Twilight and Luna.
Celestia sighed sadly as she stared out the window, "Please, Sombra, don't make this harder for us than it already is."
Somewhere in the Crystal Mountains, Sombra opened his evil-filled eyes and glanced behind him, hissing the following words with a wicked grin.
"Celestia, I'm waiting for you."