|Ponies of Dark Water|
|Published:||June 15, 2016 (#43)|
July 27, 2016 (#44)
August 31, 2016 (#45)
|Credits • Gallery • Allusions|
Friendship is Magic #42
Ponies of Dark Water is the fifteenth story arc of IDW Publishing's comic series, spanning issues #43 through #45. In the story, the Mane Six become evil after being exposed to a newly discovered hot spring, and it's up to Spike, Princess Luna, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders to save them. A storyline based on the arc was included in Gameloft’s mobile game.
On their way home after saving Equestria from a threat in the kingdom of Abyssinia, Twilight Sparkle and her friends come across a newly erupted hot spring. According to Fluttershy's butterfly friends, the springs just appeared in the last couple of days and have caused a commotion among the wildlife. After their most recent adventure, the ponies—not including Spike—decide to relax for a while in the hot springs before returning home.
The next morning, Spike awakens to find Ponyville in a mild panic; Rainbow Dash has been performing one sonic rainboom after another. Even more bizarrely, Applejack appears and sternly addresses Apple Bloom like an employee instead of a sister, Twilight makes a public announcement declaring herself empress of Ponyville and promising a harsh but fair rule, and Rarity walks around town wearing a cloak and iron mask.
Spike and Apple Bloom assemble the other Cutie Mark Crusaders at the Crusaders' clubhouse, and Spike explains that his friends' strange behavior started after relaxing in the new hot springs near Abyssinia. In addition, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie have mysteriously gone missing. Spike sends a letter to Princess Celestia informing her of the situation, and Celestia entrusts it to her sister Princess Luna because of her personal experience with dark forces.
Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack tries to demolish the Crusaders' clubhouse under enforced eminent domain. Before she can put Spike and the Crusaders to work to pay off months of back rent, Princess Luna arrives to investigate. She seizes Applejack and tries to extract the dark magic inside her, but Applejack breaks free and escapes. Luna explains that whatever magic has a hold over Applejack is making her more powerful.
After Spike and the Crusaders explain to Luna what has happened to the Mane Six, Luna tells the Crusaders to find Zecora while she and Spike contain the damage in Ponyville. However, on their way into the Everfree Forest, the Crusaders run into Fluttershy and her animal minions. Meanwhile, at Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie Pie puts on clown makeup while laughing maniacally.
One day prior to the previous issue's conclusion, Twilight—under the evil influence of the spring water—expresses a desire to be the smartest pony ever. To do this, she constructs a device to extract the brainpower of other ponies and add it to her own.
Back in present day, the Cutie Mark Crusaders encounter Fluttershy and her evil animal companions on their way to Zecora's hut. For their crime of intruding upon her forest, Fluttershy unleashes her critter army upon the fillies, forcing them to run away. Meanwhile, the ponies of Ponyville are plagued by exploding gift boxes scattered around town and forced to take shelter in the Ponyville Theater. However, this turns out to be a trap set by Pinkie Pie, who glues ponies to the seats and gives them a comedy performance against their will.
As Rarity questions Twilight's leadership and destroys a fashion store, Princess Luna and Spike appear to subdue her, but the dark magic of the spring water is making Rarity stronger. Back in the Everfree Forest, the Crusaders finally reach Zecora's hut and explain the situation. Zecora suggests they return to Ponyville so she can investigate further, and they use a smokescreen to get past Fluttershy and her animals.
The battle between Rarity and Luna crashes into the theater, disrupting Pinkie Pie's act for her captive audience. She uses her party cannon—converted into a real cannon—to strike back and demolish the building, and she makes her escape in the confusion. Once Luna and Spike regroup with the Crusaders and Zecora, Spike explains that he swam in the hot springs as well, but he wasn't affected for some reason. Therefore, Zecora believes he holds the key to making a cure for the spring water's dark magic.
As Rarity recovers to battle Luna again, Twilight makes another announcement forbidding any fighting in her kingdom. Having had enough of Twilight's arrogance, Rarity races to the Castle of Friendship to usurp her position as ruler of Ponyville. Fluttershy witnesses the destruction being caused in Ponyville and rallies her army of forest creatures to declare war.
To make matters worse, Pinkie Pie returns with water balloons filled with the dark spring water, causing anyone who gets hit with them to turn evil. One of the balloons hits Princess Luna, and the water's dark magic influences her to become Nightmare Moon once again.
Though Pinkie Pie takes delight in Nightmare Moon's return, Nightmare Moon perceives her as an unwanted nuisance and attacks her with magic. Pinkie Pie dodges Nightmare Moon's blasts, and they cause further damage to Ponyville. Spike and Zecora take cover from the magic blasts under an overturned cart. Since Spike was not affected by the spring water, Zecora scrapes off some of his dragon scales to grind into a curative powder.
By the time Spike and Zecora finish making the cure, Nightmare Moon has seriously injured Pinkie Pie. Zecora applies the cure to Pinkie's forehead, and she returns to normal as she regains consciousness. Spike and the Crusaders catch Pinkie up to speed on what has happened, and they resolve to return the other ponies to normal as well—beginning with Applejack.
At Ponyville's telegraph office, Applejack plans a hostile takeover of Appleloosa, but Apple Bloom severs the transmission wires before she can get her message through. The enraged Applejack chases after Apple Bloom, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders ambush her with water balloons filled with Zecora's cure and turn her back to normal. Meanwhile, Fluttershy and her army of animals begin sounding the drums of war. The Crusaders are unsure they will be able to get past the animals to give Fluttershy the cure, but Scootaloo has an idea involving Rainbow Dash.
Because the evil water has twisted the Mane Six's virtues into vices, such as Applejack's love of apples and Fluttershy's protection of animals, Scootaloo decides to use Rainbow Dash's love of showing off against her. The ponies persuade her to fly toward a bull's-eye, and when she comes within range, they hit her with Zecora's cure and return her to normal as well. With Rainbow Dash back on their side, the ponies spread Zecora's cure over the clouds and make it rain all over Ponyville, turning not only Fluttershy back to normal but also the other ponies who had been turned evil.
Unfortunately, this does not account for ponies who are indoors, as Twilight and Rarity still battle for supremacy inside the Castle of Friendship. In the middle of their fight, Nightmare Moon appears to settle their dispute. She negotiates splitting Equestria into three equal portions—one for each of them to rule over—and Twilight and Rarity agree. As Nightmare Moon proposes a toast to their new partnership with glass drinks, Rarity turns back to normal, having secretly been served Zecora's cure. However, Twilight sees through the ruse and exposes Princess Luna, who had already been cured by the rain.
As Twilight captures Luna, the other ponies arrive. Twilight gloats that with all the intelligence she extracted from other ponies, she has become smart enough to predict any and all possible courses of action they may take to try and stop her. As she steps out of the throne room, however, she is doused by a bucket of curing water that Pinkie Pie had set up in the doorway; as Pinkie explains, Twilight may have gotten smarter, but she has not gotten funnier to predict the surprise element of comedy.
Now back to normal, Twilight feels guilty over what she's done, but Princess Luna assures her that it was the result of the dark water corrupting her confidence and intelligence. After Twilight returns the brainpower she stole to their rightful owners, the Mane Six repair the damage they caused to the rest of Ponyville. The ponies return to the hot springs near Abyssinia, and Zecora realizes that the springs that have been corrupted by "a type of mystical pollution" from all of the magic permeating Equestria. She uses a potion to remove the springs' pollution, turning it back into ordinary water.
As Princess Luna takes her leave, she remarks it was fortunate that the evil water disrupted the Mane Six's friendship—if they had worked together while they were evil, they would have been unstoppable.
- Twilight Sparkle: Well, we've saved Equestria once again.
- Applejack: And good news is this time they're aren't going to prosecute.
- Rarity: The kingdom of Abyssinia is strangely litigious.
- Applejack: What the gold-durned ding dang is all this?!
- Apple Bloom: One of those rainbooms knocked over the cart. I'm okay, though.
- Applejack: I ain't worried about you! I'm worried about my apples! Do you know many sales you've lost?
- Twilight Sparkle: I, Twilight Sparkle, am appointing myself empress of Ponyville. As the most intelligent pony in this town, or any other, it is the only logical course of action.
- Rarity: The arrogance of that pony, thinking that she can rule Ponyville. When it should be me. There's no one finer, or with finer finery.
- Spike: They were normal the whole trip back. We even took a break at those new hot springs.
- Sweetie Belle: New?
- Scootaloo: Hot?
- Apple Bloom: Springs?
- Spike: When you put it like that, it sounds kind of obvious.
- Princess Luna: My history is one with its own darkness.
- Princess Celestia: Precisely. Whatever has happened here, you have personal experience, tragic though it may be, with such forces. I can think of no one else better for the task.
- Scootaloo: At least Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy haven't caused any problems.
- Sweetie Belle: That we know of!
- Scootaloo: Take that back! You'll jinx it!
- Fluttershy: We appear to have—intruders.
- Pinkie Pie: Heh hehehe ha—ha ha hahahahah ahaha! Wait 'til they get a load of me! Hah ha hah hahahah!
- Twilight Sparkle: My ponies won't need to think, will they? I'll be doing their thinking for them, making sure they only make the right choices. And if they don't need to think, they can spare a little bit of their brainpower, can't they?
- Bulk Biceps: Don't know why you're evil, but you are killing it! Yeah yeah!
- Twilight Sparkle: Sometimes the cupboard is empty, apparently.
- Fluttershy: Arrogance! This is their home and you came crashing through it. Intruders! Ruffians! Interlopers! Such a crime shall not be tolerated.
- Pinkie Pie: Hey, everypony! Welcome to my one pony show! Don't try to leave, as if you could. I locked all the doors and I put glue on your seats!
- Rarity: You and your sister will soon be in the donation bin of history, Luna.
- Princess Luna: That's Princess Luna.
- Pinkie Pie: First rule of comedy is surprise.
- Spike: Surprise? But you always use your party cannon!
- Pinkie Pie: It's a real cannon now! Surprise!
- Fluttershy: Look at them, my friends. They cause such destruction. Their city is a blight in our forest. Yes, Angel Bunny, our forest. The forest was here long before Ponyville. And it will be here long after. Let us make ready. For WAR!
- Nightmare Moon: Nightmare Moon has returned!
- Apple Bloom: Just when I thought things couldn't get worse.
- Scootaloo: You never tempt worse! Never!
- Nightmare Moon: My reign will be absolute and orderly and dark! There is no room for your brightness in it!
- Pinkie Pie: No worries. I'm clearly not that bright.
- Applejack: My own flesh an' blood! Bringing my trading down from the inside! I'd be proud if I weren't so mad!
- Sweetie Belle: That target is moving way too much for her catch it!
- Apple Bloom: You'd have to be some kind of Wonderbolt to do that!
- Rainbow Dash: Some kind of Wonderbolt? I'm better than all the Wonderbolts! Added up!
- Twilight Sparkle: I offer the world order, Rarity! What can you possibly offer it?
- Rarity: Style! Your world will be dull, gray, and uniform. Where will color and fashion be?
- Twilight Sparkle: I will fashion a new world, one that has evolved past such superficial concerns! And yes, there will be uniforms!
- Rarity: You monster!
- Twilight Sparkle: Did you think I didn't see this coming? Did you think that I hadn't thought through all of this?! I'm smarter than you. Smarter than everyone! I saw this... I saw all of this happening! I am the smartest pony in history! I've seen every iteration of everything you could do. There's no reality, no world that I haven't considered. I know how the water changed us—and I don't want to be changed back! There's too much for me to do! Forget that silliness about sharing Equestria. It will be mine. All mine. And none of you—none of you—can possibly hope to stop me.
- Princess Luna: Comfort yourself knowing that it was magical water that turned you, and not your own arrogance and jealousy. That is very hard to live with.
- Sweetie Belle: Do you wonder what we would have been like if we'd been turned evil? Would we have still been friends?
- Apple Bloom: Oh, there would have been a place for both of you in my kingdom.
- Princess Luna: You've all been through so much, but I believe your friendship will carry you through. Friendship which fortunately was disrupted by the evil water.
- Fluttershy: Fortunately, princess? Why do you say that?
- Princess Luna: Because, if the six of you had been evil and worked together... I have no doubt you'd have been unstoppable.