Twilight wasn't able to finish her new attachment. A little less than a week due to complications, and her pack was the only one that had everything set up other than the emitter attachment when a call came in. Canterlot Library was being overrun by Ghosts. Innocent people were being attacked, and it was general chaos. As the girls suited up, Twilight grabbed the last component of the new attachment and pocketed it. Might come in handy. One detail she added into the Proton Packs was a modular design. New attachments were pretty much plug and play once the initial modifications were complete.
She understood that they would have had to deal with the Library, but they were hoping to be able to go in a bit more prepared.
As they pulled into the parking lot of the Library, Sunset again checked her own pack. Everyone was pretty nervous about this one. Even Pinkie Pie wasn't bouncing in anticipation as much as usual. Rarity pulled out her PKE Meter and got a big hit, and they weren't even inside yet!
“Heat 'em up girls,” Sunset said after taking a deep breath. Seven activated Proton Packs later, they entered the Library and met with the head Librarian. After getting the full story, and getting the all clear to proceed, the girls split up. The plan was to divide and conquer. Cover more ground, catch anything ghostly that got in their way, and locate the hidden Ritual Chamber.
As the first Proton Streams started to fly, the girls didn't notice that their arrival hadn't gone unnoticed. A Cultist narrowed his eyes before retreating to report in.
Rarity was following her PKE Meter, with Rainbow Dash in tow. Her plan was to go to the archive section and look up an original floor plan of the Library. A few times they encountered small entities that just dispersed when struck with a Proton Stream, but nothing major yet.
“You know Rarity,” Rainbow Dash said. “I'm surprised you're even doing this at all. Not exactly a clean job.”
“If there is anything I can do to help I'll do it,” Rarity replied. “Besides... we already know these jumpsuits are slime resistant.”
“Yea... but your hair isn't.”
“I've accepted that there are certain risks in this profession. Although I do hope not to make a career out of this after we graduate High School.”
Another set of Swarmers shot out of a shelf, and Rarity zapped them with her Proton Pack. While there were a lot of them, they weren't that smart. Didn't take long for the fashionable member of the team to figure out they would follow each other like lemmings, and put a Proton Stream in their path.
“Nice shootin' Tex,” Rainbow Dash wisecracked before dealing with another group of Swarmers. “Is it just me, or are we running into a larger variety of baddies as we go?”
“According to Tobin's Spirit Guide, I'd have to agree,” Rarity said. “Swarmers, Animators, actual Ghosts... Things certainly are escalating.”
“How often do you read that thing?”
“Digital copy on my Tablet. Know your enemy and all that Darling.”
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes as she blasted apart an animated light fixture that had taken offense to their existence. With everything that had happened, the resident athlete was again thankful to have her friends by her side. When they were together, there really wasn't anything they couldn't do. With a nod to Rarity, the pair continued on their way.
Applejack dove for cover as the Animator created bookcase golem slammed the ground where she had just been standing. Fluttershy was sniping from a distance with the Proton Stream with short controlled bursts in an effort to get its attention, while Twilight Sparkle was doing her best to try and restrain it with a Capture Stream.
“Twi! Let me handle the wranglin'!” Applejack called out as she again rolled out of the way. “Fluttershy! This ain't no time t' be gentle! Let 'er rip!”
The pink haired girl nodded and unleashed a sustained Proton Stream into the golem's torso. Twilight soon joined the assault as soon as she had an opening. One thing they learned from studying Tobin's Spirit Guide was that most golems had some kind of node that, when removed, would render the construct inert and generally cause it to collapse. Applejack was honestly amazed at how detailed that book was. While the two girls were tearing into the torso, Applejack climbed up on top of a table and aimed at the golem's head. Switching on the Capture Stream, Applejack roped her target and started to pull straight up. With the extra energy going into her Capture Stream, it certainly made things like this easier. While the head was resisting, she could feel it start to give. With a pulse of extra energy, Applejack slammed the head up into the ceiling.
“An' that's why ya shoulda quit while you were a... head,” the country girl wisecracked as she watched the golem collapse into its component parts.
“That was a pretty strong one...” Fluttershy noted as she walked over.
“There has to be a Ritual Chamber here,” Twilight said.
“Well... one down... more to go,” Applejack said as she pushed her hat up a bit.
“I wonder if we can get paid for this...” Twilight trailed off.
As Twilight checked her PKE Meter, Applejack vented her pack to prepare for the next round. This was proving to be more of a challenge than Crystal Prep. Sunset was right. The Cult was ramping things up. And she wanted to shut them down before anyone else was hurt.
“Watch the sides!” Sunset called out as she and Pinkie Pie came under attack from two very angry Ghost Librarians.
“WEEEEEE! Can't catch me!” Pinkie exclaimed as she bounced around, frustrating the ghosts as they tried to hit her. Sunset threw her trap into the center of the area before unleashing a Proton Stream at the closest one. After a moment to sap its energy, the Capture Stream kicked in and Sunset was fighting to pull the spirit into range of her Trap. Pinkie fired off a couple Boson Darts before performing a wall kick move and unleashing a Proton Stream herself.
While Pinkie kept the one spirit busy, Sunset growled as she fought with her own target. Even slamming it into the floor a couple times didn't seem to phase it as much as she would have liked. After she heard Pinkie dispose of her ghost, a second Capture Stream latched on and together the two girls pulled it into the trap.
“Hey you guys were pretty good!” Pinkie chirped as she picked up the trap. “NOT!”
Sunset couldn't help but smile. It was times like this that made Sunset Shimmer feel like they were actually making a difference. Every little victory felt like one step closer to the endgame. But the question was... what was it? Was it stopping the Cult of Eternal Night, or a showdown with Nightmare Moon herself?
They had to find the Ritual Chamber and shut it down, and fast. Sunset had a feeling that even if the Cultists failed in their summoning, they would use the unleashed spirits to wreak havoc all over Canterlot in an effort to overwhelm them. The fewer Chambers in action, the better. They just needed to find them first.
“Rarity here. I think I got something.”
“What'cha got?” Sunset asked into her radio.
“Sending it to your phones now. I think I found the Ritual Chamber in the floor plans. Back wall, east wing.”
“That's where we are,” Applejack spoke up. “We'll look around an' hold until y'all get here.”
“Good idea. This time we're hitting it together in case the Cultists have any tricks.”
After getting affirmative responses from everyone, Sunset quickly checked her phone before determining that she and Pinkie were in the west wing of the Library. With a sigh, Sunset started for the door.
Twilight poked at her PKE Meter as she waited for everyone to arrive. They managed to find a door hidden behind another bookshelf, and had moved it out of the way. What bothered her though was she thought she could hear chanting coming from the door. If that was true, then they were actually going to disrupt a summoning ritual in progress. She had no idea what they were going to do about the Cultists themselves. Ghosts they could handle, but human beings? Sunset and Pinkie were the last to arrive, having been on the opposite side of the Library, and the group checked over their gear one last time. Twilight actually brushed a hand against her pocket before taking a deep breath.
“Here goes nothin',” Applejack said as she opened the door. Now they could hear chanting clearly.
“Crap... that's gonna be a problem,” Rainbow Dash said. “What do we do?”
“Usual plan,” Sunset said. “Make it up as we go.”
With a nod and a group fist bump, the girls entered the stairway and went down into the Library Ritual Chamber. Unlike at Crystal Prep, this one was deeper and larger. Sunset took cover as soon as she saw the robed figures surrounding an active Circle. They seemed oblivious to the presence of the Ghostbusters. The redhead cringed as she watched a spirit emerge and just fly up into the ceiling. One more Ghost to track down later...
“Ah... the pests have arrived.”
The girls looked at each other before coming out of hiding with Proton Packs ready. While the Cultists around the Circle ignored them, one Cultist holding a book walked around the chanters and confronted them. While Sunset couldn't make anything out due to the robes, the voice was clearly male.
“You cannot stop the Eternal Night,” the Cultist said.
“Well... y'all might wanna clear out, 'cuz we got yer eviction notices right here,” Applejack countered, lifting her Neutrona Wand for emphasis.
“Charming... you children think you're heroes,” the Cultist scoffed as he opened the book. “Lets see how brave you are... fighting the darkness in your souls!”
With a hand extended towards the Ritual Circle, the Cultist started calling out a spell. Magic energy actually started to form in his outstretched hand before he thrust it out towards the Ghostbusters. As the girls dove for cover, Sunset and Twilight seemed to seize up. Rainbow Dash turned and gasped at the sight of two of her friends being pulled up into the air against their will.
Her body felt like it was on fire. Back in Equestria Sunset could have cast a counterspell, but here in the Human World there was no such thing. She still wasn't even sure how these Cultists were able to wield magic themselves. Next to her, Twilight was convulsing in the air as if something was being ripped out of her. The pain finally reached a point that Sunset couldn't help but cry out... and the next thing she knew she was flat on her face at the far end of the Chamber with Rarity checking to make sure she was alright. Twilight was being helped up by Fluttershy.
Pushing herself up to her knees, Sunset shook her head before she heard something that made her stop in her tracks.
“Feels good to be free again,” someone said in Sunset's own voice.
“I would have to agree with you,” another voice said, sounding like Twilight. “Being suppressed like that...”
“Oh you have got to be KIDDING ME!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed in shock.
Sunset got to her feet, turned around, and the blood drained from her face. Floating in the air in front of the Cultist, was... Sunset Shimmer. But it was the demon form she had taken on after wearing the Element of Magic. Next to her was none other than Midnight Sparkle. Taking a quick glance to her side to confirm Twilight was still here, Sunset actually took a step back. This must have been what the Cultist meant by the darkness in their souls. He wanted to try and force the girls to fight each other. But instead, the spell locked onto the two who had the most exposure to magic and had actually been corrupted by it.
“Throw 'em!” Applejack called out before unleashing a Proton Stream at Demon Sunset. The others soon followed suit, aiming for either Demon Sunset or Midnight Sparkle. The second the shooting started, the Cultists actually got smart and ran. The two dark manifestations, however, held their ground and actually countered the Proton Streams.
“Interesting,” Midnight Sparkle said. “Proton Accelerators. Designed to sap negative energy. I'm impressed.”
“At least they're putting up an actual fight this time,” Demon Sunset growled as she shot a fireball at the group. Sunset took cover, but was shaken by all this. Her past had come back to haunt her! She had been afraid of what might happen if her dark side returned. Now... it was actively trying to kill her and her friends.
The very people who helped turn her life around. Without them, there's no telling what would have happened to her.
Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes for a moment, Sunset Shimmer stood up.
“Oh... finally joining the fight Sunset?” Demon Sunset taunted. “I thought you were afraid I'd come back.”
“I was,” Sunset admitted before opening her eyes. The redhead had a look of pure determination. “I was afraid of my past. Afraid of you. No more.”
“Oh how cute. You're going to fight me without magic?”
“I don't need magic to beat you.”
Gritting her teeth, Sunset unleashed a Proton Stream at her dark half. Caught off guard by the sudden attack, Demon Sunset was sent on the defensive.
Rarity tried blasting Midnight Sparkle while Fluttershy deployed a trap, only for both girls to get slammed into each other with magic.
“A Muon Containment Device?” Midnight Sparkle said as she examined the trap. “Interesting. A scientific countermeasure to a magical threat. I'll enjoy studying the outcome of this.”
With a wave of her hand, Midnight Sparkle sent the trap flying back towards the girls before unleashing a wave of dark energy. Rarity and Fluttershy scrambled out of the way, unsure what to do now.
Twilight Sparkle just found a corner to hide in and covered her head with her arms. Ever since the Friendship Games, she had nightmares of losing control and turning into Midnight Sparkle again. Now her nightmare was real. She was powerless to fight against the corrupted being now terrorizing her friends. She could hear them desperately trying to fight. But without magic...
“Twilight! Get up!”
“I can't Kylie.”
“Yes you can!”
“I can't fight her! She's too strong!”
“You can fight her Twilight! Your friends need you!”
“I know. But you are a Ghostbuster. This is what we do. When things go bump in the night, we bump back. You're stronger than her. Get your butt up and prove it to her!”
Twilight shifted, and felt a weight in her pocket. Reaching in, she pulled out the emitter attachment for her Proton Pack. It was then that Twilight realized something. It wasn't strength of power that mattered. It was adaptability. Midnight Sparkle was rigid, only interested in gaining knowledge at any cost. But there was a difference between knowledge and wisdom. And Midnight Sparkle didn't have wisdom.
She knew what she had to do now. Face her fear. Twilight took the attachment and clamped it around the Neutrona Wand's emitter before cocking it back and establishing a connection. Pressing a couple buttons on the attachment activated the dormant parts of her Proton Pack, extending small arms from the top and sides that started to glow blue. The Exotic Particle “Dark Matter” Generator was active. Time for a trial by fire.
The Exotic Particle Generator modified the existing Proton Pack's firing cycle, changing the primary firing mode from a stream into essentially a shotgun blast. The secondary mode replaced the Capture Stream with a stream of exotic particles that should interact with an entity's ectoplasm in such a way as to essentially emulate subzero temperatures to inhibit movement or even immobilize entirely. And the best part was, it wasn't a total trade off. You could switch between the Dark Matter and normal operation. With a nod, Twilight came out of her corner.
“Leave my friends alone!” she yelled, attracting Midnight Sparkle's attention. The corrupted entity ceased her attacks on Rarity and Fluttershy and floated towards Twilight.
“You have no friends,” Midnight taunted. “Without me, you're nothing but a weak, isolated girl.”
“Not anymore,” Twilight said defiantly.
“Kylie can't help you this time Twilight. I will remove all obstacles that stand between me and the knowledge I crave. Even you.”
Midnight Sparkle brought her hand up, and unleashed a bolt of dark energy. Jumping to the side with all the grace of a brick, Twilight retaliated with a Shock Blast. Caught off guard by the difference in weaponry, Midnight Sparkle recoiled and tried to assess the threat level of this unknown variable. Taking advantage of the situation, Twilight fired the secondary mode. A stream of blue energy with a black core lanced out and struck the corrupted entity. The effect was immediate, as what actually looked like ice started to form on Midnight Sparkle's body. The shocked entity just looked at Twilight and cried out in rage at this unexpected variable.
“What... is... this?” she demanded.
“Simply an Exotic Particle Generator attachment I developed for the Proton Packs,” Twilight said with confidence as she kept up the pressure. “Basically... while you were created from my darker tendencies, you are not me now. You're made of Ectoplasm. And my theory was just proven correct. Dark Matter can affect Ectoplasmic entities like yourself.”
Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie came over and started blasting Midnight Sparkle with Proton Streams, and soon had a hold of her. Twilight tossed out a trap before switching modes and adding her own Capture Stream.
“You... you can't destroy me!” Midnight Sparkle protested. “I am a part of you!”
“Yes,” Twilight replied as she pulled Midnight closer. “I acknowledge you exist. I'll have to live with you for the rest of my life. But you will never control me.”
With that, the four girls working together pulled Midnight Sparkle into range of the Ghost Trap and triggered it. While Midnight Sparkle did fight, Twilight couldn't help but notice there was actually a hint of a smile on the corrupted entity's face as she was pulled in. Not a devious smile. An honest one.
Twilight Sparkle grew a backbone and faced her fears. The very thing that helped spawn Midnight Sparkle in the first place.
Demon Sunset was proving to be just as much of a handful as the first time around. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were doing what they could to limit the entity's movements, but she was too fast. Sunset growled as she again tried to get a bead on her dark half. Just as Demon Sunset was about to launch an attack, she was struck by a Boson Dart from off to the side. Turning to glare at the offending source of the attack, Demon Sunset blinked in surprise. The other girls had overpowered Midnight Sparkle and were joining the fight.
“What's the matter?” Sunset taunted. “Can't take us all on at once?”
“Psh,” Demon Sunset scoffed. “Without Twilight's magic to Orbital Friendship Cannon my tail, you can't stop me.”
“And like I said,” Sunset responded. “I don't need magic to stop you!”
“Face it Sunny! I am you! I am what makes you who you are! Without me you're nothing!”
“Yea... you are a part of me. But you're a part I don't need anymore!”
Six Proton Streams lanced out and struck Demon Sunset before grabbing her limbs and wings. For some reason, Pinkie Pie was chanting what sounded like “Yu Mo Gui Gwai Fai Di Zao”. Sunset tossed her trap and stood there with a defiant look on her face as she leveled her Neutrona Wand at her past.
“Take a good look Sunset,” Sunset said. “I'm stronger than you because of my friends. Something you will never understand. When we're together, anything is possible!”
“Even if you trap me in that box,” Demon Sunset snarled. “You will never be rid of me!”
“At least I'll sleep better knowing you're in the box.”
With that, Sunset triggered her own Proton Stream and pulled Demon Sunset in. Then, just to add insult to injury, Sunset Shimmer slam dunked her dark half into the trap.
“You mo... what?” Rainbow Dash asked as she looked at the party girl.
“Its a Chi Spell!” Pinkie Pie chirped. “Yu Mo Gui Gwai Fai Di Zao! It means 'Spirits, demons, ghosts, monsters, quickly leave.'”
“Ah ain't gonna even bother tryin' t' figure you out Pinkie,” Applejack drawled after taking a deep breath. Everyone couldn't help but laugh.
Sunset smiled as she picked up the trap that contained Demon Sunset. It felt good to put that fear to rest. She actually felt like she could truly move on now. Looking over at Twilight, Sunset had a feeling she too could move on.
“Alright girls,” Sunset finally said. “Lets wreck this chamber and go home. Milkshakes on me.”
“YEA! MILKSHAKES!” Pinkie exclaimed before getting to work.
“You're going to regret that Sunset,” Rainbow Dash said as she hiked a thumb at Pinkie Pie.
“Yea... I'm already starting to,” Sunset laughed.