The Night that Never Ended p7

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Rarity looked down at the report in front of her, Spike and Applejack standing nervously to the side. She read it twice, letting her mind linger on the numbers. Silently, she put the paper down and picked up a pencil with her magic, scrawling some notes on the side.

"84 days." She said to spike. "84 days and 36 deaths. What is happening, Spike, we were supposed to be safe here."

"I…I don't know, Rarity. I'm not really an expert on ponies."

"I know," said Applejack, "and I know how to stop it."

Rainbow Dash sniggered to herself as she peeked out behind the rock, watching the approaching dragon. She tensed herself, preparing to jump out, when over Spike's shoulder she saw a shadow moving among the trees. Before she could turn to tell Soaren, something bumped into her flank hard.

Dash caught herself from stumbling and turned around to reprimand Soaren, but instead came face-to-face with a pair of yellow goggles. For a moment, both ponies stared at eachother in surprise, but the Shadowbolt recovered quicker. Spinning around and lifting her hind legs into the air, the lieutenant bucked out, feeling a satisfying crack as her hooves made contact.

Dash's world exploded into bright lights. As they began to clear, she wondered why her perspective was sideways before realizing that she was on the ground. Dazed and confused, she got to her feet unsteadily and shook her head, clearing her vision but sending a stab of pain through her jaw. As her hearing returned, she turned her head to see Soaren and the Shadowbolt wrestling on the ground.

The captain watched her lieutenant disappear around the rock, but kept maneuvering around the dragon. She knew they had to be getting close, but all thoughts of her target disappeared when she heard the crack. She whipped her head around in time to see her friend and another pegasus tumble into the undergrowth, kicking and biting at eachother. She also saw Spike turn his head in surprise, dropping his backpack as he rushed over.

Fine, then, she thought to herself as she leapt into the air, we do this the hard way. She sped toward the wrestling ponies, zooming over Spike's head and knocking him to the ground. The tangled ponies rolled apart, and the captain barreled into the guard. The force of the impact lifted him clear off his hooves and into a tree, the dead trunk of which cracked. For a moment, the tree creaked ominously, and Soaren barely regained his composure enough to leap from the debris before it came tumbling down across the path.

The captain landed next her lieutenant, who was scraped and bruised but not badly injured. She turned to see Rainbow Dash and Soaren on the other side of the tree, both looking dazed by the sudden attack. "Lieutenant, we need to leave now, there's no telling how many others that crash alerted. Can you fly?"

"Yes, captain. I…I don't know if I can fight them. That's-"

"I know who they are, Lieutenant, we need to-"

"Oh no you don't!"  Rainbow Dash appeared above the mess of tangled branches, plummeting straight down towards the Shadowbolts. They each juked to the side, but Rainbow Dash was ready and pulled up, following the captain. The captain took off into the air with Rainbow Dash in hot pursuit. If I can draw her away from the lieutenant, she thought, it will give her time to escape from that other oaf. Then I can simply outfly- Oof!"

The captain fell several feet before regaining her wings, just barely moving out of the way of another charge by Rainbow Dash. Heh, she's faster than I thought. Rainbow Dash wheeled around for another midair charge, her face filled with fury. But she has no idea how to fight in the air. She waited until the last possible moment before turning to her left, but let her wings carry her right. Rainbow Dash followed the first movement, falling for the juke as the captain slipped out of her path. As she passed over, the captain brought and elbow down in perfect precision, bending the charging pony backwards and sending her spiraling out of control.

Rainbow Dash caught her balance and reoriented herself, just barely blocking a blow from the captain. Another jab caught her in the stomach, however, and she flew back to get some distance between herself and the Shadowbolt.

Soaren was chasing the lieutenant through the trees, just inches above the ground. The Shadowbolt in front of him wasn't fighting back, but rather trying madly to escape. If I let her get away, he thought, she could report the location of New Ponyville to the Royal Guard. We'd have no chance of survival if that happened. With new desperation fueling his speed, he closed behind the other pegasus and clomped on her tail, pulling up sharply. The lieutenant's momentum carried her around in an arc with Soaren as the center, unable to stop herself from slamming headfirst into the ground behind him.

Soaren looked down at the unmoving mare, worried that he may have accidentally killed her. He chided himself for having sentiments towards the enemy, but still hesitated in turning away from her. No, he told himself, I need to summon the rest of the guard to deal with this. Rainbow Dash will have to take care of herself until I get back. With that thought, he took off back towards New Ponyville as fast as he could.

Rainbow Dash let herself drop a foot, deftly dodging a head butt from her opponent. However, this put her right in line with the knee that came rushing towards her face. She careened backwards, blood spiraling out of her mouth as she tumbled. Catching herself, she looked back upwards at the nearly unscathed captain. Damnit, she thought, I know I'm faster than her, but she's a better fighter by far. She knows every move I make before I do. Dash saw her opponent looking down slightly, and followed her gaze to see Soaren rushing away from a clump of trees. She looked back up, grinning at her worried expression. "Looks like your little sidekick didn't make it, hotshot. Want to just give up now before every pegasus in town comes after you? I promise it won't be too humiliating." She sniggered to herself as the captain slowly sank down to her level, weighing her options.

Damn damn damn damn DAMN! The captain's mind was moving at the speed of sound, but she couldn't see a way out of this. If she tried to bolt, she'd never know what happened to her lieutenant. If she flew down to search for her, Dash was sure to intervene. She knew she probably wouldn't have time to finish off the pegasus and find her friend before more help arrived. She had to make a call between saving herself and trying to save her friend.

"…Alright, Rainbow Dash, you win. I must admit, I never thought you'd have to rely on others to do your work for you, but you've outplayed me fair and square."
"Excuse me? I've been flying circles around you, how exactly haven't I won?" Dash circled her opponent, putting herself between the captain and any escape in case she tried to run.

"Summoning the whole town to help you? I supposed you could call that a victory. Technically." The captain smirked at Dash, who was growing more agitated with every word. Putting as much arrogance in her next few words as possible, the captain continued. "I mean, if you're too weak to beat me yourself,-"

"Weak? Weak?! I'll show you weak you arrogant ass!" Dash charged recklessly at the captain, feeling the air bend around her as she accelerated. The captain hovered with jaws slack as Dash rocketed towards her, reaching lethal speeds. It was only a few feet before impact that Dash saw the captain smile.

Letting herself fall backward and down, the captain brought her legs up to where her chest had been. Rainbow Dash kept going straight, her rush far too uncontrolled to adjust at this point. As she saw her opponent pass overhead, the captain bucked out at full strength, catching Rainbow Dash in the chest.

Dash barely had time to wonder what was happening before she felt the blow. Immediately, all the air in her chest exploded outwards, her limbs and wings locking up. As she fell, she desperately tried to breath and move again, but the force of the kick had knocked the wind out of her. Unable to move, she watched herself plummet helplessly into the trees below.

The captain watched Rainbow Dash pass over her from her upside down vantage point. The momentum of her charge combined with the force of the kick carried her limp body up a few feet as she tumbled forward, before cresting at her arch and tumbling towards the ground like a rag doll. The captain turned her head at the sound of wings approaching. Dozens of pegasus ponies were emerging from a hole in the mountainside, flying toward her swiftly.

The grove where the lieutenant had fallen was between her and them. It would be impossible to escape, she thought as she shot towards it. If she can't fly, I won't be able to carry her away fast enough. She touched down on the ground, searching frantically. I should just turn around now and leave while I have the chance. She spotted the limp shape of a pony, heart racing frantically. My loyalty to her doesn't demand self sacrifice. She hauled the pony on to her back, but as she rose more pegasus ponies began landing all around her.

If I drop her now, I can still escape.

The captain stood her ground.


If I flooded the spell with excess magical energy, that could explain the additional effects. Perhaps if I re evaluate- no, I already tried that. Well, let's- hmm?

Twilight sat in the town library, books and papers strewn around her. New Ponyville's library was mediocre at best, with books being the last thing fleeing refugees worried about grabbing, but she had to work with what she was given. Her thinking had been interrupted by hard hoofsteps, hammering towards the closed door. As she lifted her gaze, a small orange pegasus pony burst in, panting as she caught her breath. "Ugh, uh, miss Twilight, Rarity sent me, it's Rainbow Dash, she's hurt, at the guardhouse!"

Without even thinking, Twilight was on her feet and out the door. Her heart pounded as she raced through the town center, pushing ponies out of her way left and right. I shouldn't be so worried, she told herself mentally, I've seen Dash get hurt dozens of times. She probably just hit her head hard again or something. Despite her rationalizations, she galloped even faster. She had never considered what it would be like to be stuck here without her only real friend, and she didn't want to start now.

A crowd had gathered outside the guardhouse, clogging up the bridge ahead of Twilight. She pushed and prodded her way through, even using her magic to shove in a couple of places, but as she emerged off the bridge she was pushed back by an earth pony wearing a guard uniform. "Stay back, miss, nobody's to see the prisoners until Mayor Rarity gets down here"

"But I'm- wait, prisoners? I'm here to see Rainbow Dash. What prisoners?" But Twilight was being shoved backwards into the crowd. Looking around, she saw that the ponies around her were screaming and jeering with anger, and it clicked that they weren't here for her friend, but to see the face of their enemy finally beaten.

"Everypony clear a path! Make way for the mayor!"

Twilight was pushed again, this time to the side by an exceptionally large earth pony. Behind him came a carriage, inside of which Rarity could be seen looking out the window. Twilight waved to her frantically, and by luck their eyes locked.
Rarity spoke to someone else inside the carriage, and the doors flew open. Before she could blink, Twilight was hauled inside by the shoulders. The door slammed shut behind her, and she turned to see the orange pony who had pulled her in.

"Well, howdy Twilight. Been meaning to come and see you. I suppose now's as good a time as any." Applejack sat looking pleased as pie while Twilight gawked. The cart hit a bump and shook Twilight's balance, returning her to her senses.

"Applejack? It's great to see you and all, but what are you doing here?"

The orange pony looked a little hurt, but smiled anyway. "Aheh, well, I was just meeting with Rarity here regarding, uh, some other matters, when we got word of what happened. I sent my little sister's friend out to look for ya, she must really be able to move that scooter of hers to have reached you so fast."

Twilight remembered the orange filly that had found her in the library, but more important matters demanded her attention. "Rarity, Applejack, what happened? Dash is hurt, and we have some sort of prisoners?"

The cart rolled to a stop, and Applejack pushed the door open and jumped out. Another pony reached his hand in to help out Rarity. "Come see for yourself, my dear. We don't know much more than you yet."

Twilight stepped out of the cart behind Rarity. The cart was about six feet from the door to the guardhouse, and guardponies were holding back dense crowds even here. They made a tunnel for the group of three, and they entered the guardhouse together.
The first thing Twilight noticed was Rainbow Dash. Her face was covered in blood and dirt, her rainbow mane smeared with brown. She was lying in a bed and trying to push off two attendants with one hoof, the other lying limp and slightly crooked on her chest. "Rainbow Dash!" yelled Twilight, running to her side. She reached her friend and nuzzled her warmly.

Dash giggled under the onslaught of attention. "Heh heh, hey Twi. I'm fine, don't worry, just took a bit of a fall." She followed Twilight's gaze to her hoof. "Oh, yea, well, a hoof isn't that important to a pegasus. It just gives me an excuse to fly everywhere." She grinned at Twilight, reassuring her friend, but their reunion was shortly interrupted.

Another pony bumped into Twilight as he hurried towards more commotion on the other side of the room, and Twilight looked to see two ponies in black and purple uniforms with yellow goggles. One was lying limp on the ground while the other stood protectively over her. Though she was backed into a corner, nopony was brave enough to get close to her. The standing prisoner looked accusingly at one of the patrol ponies who had blood on his chin. "You swore! You swore you wouldn't touch her! I won't let any of you near her!"

"We're just trying to help, foal. We-"

"What is going on here?" This came from Rarity, at whose remark the area immediately went quiet. Twilight couldn't help but appreciate the attention that Rarity could command, in part from her practice as a popular fashion designer and in part from her experience leading her people. Twilight could see the love in the faces of all in the room as they looked toward their leader. Even the Shadowbolt was finally standing still, although she still stared aggressively at those around her.
Turning to the pony that the Shadowbolt had been yelling at, Rarity spoke again. "Soaren, if you would please explain what happened, I would be very appreciative."

Soaren puffed out his chest, proud to be the center of attention for his leader. "Well mayor, I was just showing Rainbow Dash here the ropes, when we found these two fiends stalking Spike. Knowing that they would surely pounce upon the poor lad, we attacked and subdued them. Uhh, more or less." Rarity's glare quickly deflated the pony, who avoided his gaze in shame.

"Rainbow Dash, would you like to add anything?"

"Uhh, yea. We, uh, kinda stumbled on them actually. One of them got me in the chest pretty early, then the other one knocked down a tree with Soaren."

Rarity's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "With Soaren, my dear?"

"Well, yea, he got thrown into it. It fell down between the four of us and onto the road, and gave us some time to recover, then Soaren chased after one of them and I chased the other, the one that's standing up now I think. It's hard to tell them apart."

"I see. And this bit about swearing, my dear Soaren?"

"Uhh, well, I subdued the unconscious pony on the ground there, like I said, but when I came back with reinforcements her friend was about to haul her off. She gave a couple of us some trouble," He stroked his bloody chin absently, "but we worked out some terms for her surrender. If she came quietly, we wouldn't hurt the other pony." Twilight saw the standing Shadowbolt glaring daggers at Soaren, who returned the stare.  They remained locked in place until Rarity walked over to the Shadowbolt, putting on an air of disinterest.

"Well, in the interest of fairness, I supposed I should ask you if you have any defense for your actions." The Shadowbolt said nothing. "Well?"


"Then these two ponies tell the full truth?" The Shadowbolt said nothing again. "May I at least ask your name, darling? There's no reason not to be civil about this."

"No." Except for her mouth, not a muscle on the Shadowbolt moved.

Rarity sighed and turned away, dropping the act of sincerity. "Soaren, would you be a dear and lock them in our prisons? I believe a particularly deep and damp cell would be ideal. Their official sentence will be decided upon tonight. Spike, if you'd be so kind as to take a note…Spike, my dear?"

Rarity looked around her feet, checking for her ever present companion. "Now where has he- ah, yes. Soaren, you said he was present at the beginning of this whole encounter, was he with you when you returned?"

Soaren looked at his hooves guiltily. "I'm sorry, Ma'm. I was a little distracted and to tell you the truth, I hadn't remembered about him. Thinking back, I hadn't seen him since this pony threw me…oh no."

At the tree, Twilight finished mentally. Since she threw him at the tree. The tree that collapsed across the path. Oh, Celestia!

The room temperature dropped as everypony connected the two stories. All eyes were on Rarity, the balance of the room hanging on her next words. Slowly, she lifted her gaze back up towards Soaren, and said flatly, "Soaren, please escort these two murderers to the prison immediately." Her voice cracked on the last syllable, and she quietly finished, "And no need to be civil about it"

The captain glared at the encroaching ponies, closing in with quiet fury. She dodged the first buck and threw down a charging earth pony, but another kick sent her off balance. She fell back on to her flank, the last sight she saw being Soaren's hoof coming towards her face.

And with nowhere else to stay, a faint static presence left the unconscious captain's head and dissipated, returning to its mistress.


Soaren sat outside Rarity's office, lost in thought. It had been hours since he had dragged the two unconscious soldiers into the dungeons on Rarity's orders, and he was worried at himself. He had been so hesitant to do what had to be done, even regretting knocking the mare out in the grove after the fact.  I came here to help these ponies, he scolded himself, and I can't even defend them from some faceless foal without reservations. His brow knotted, not sure what to make of himself. Was it so bad to hesitate in violence against the enemy? But hesitation in war could lead to the death of his friends.

He pondered the question for a long time, but his reflections were interrupted by the door opening. Rainbow Dash flew out slowly, head bowed. One of her hooves was hung across her chest in a white sling, making walking very difficult. Without looking at Soaren, she spoke as she flew by. "They're ready for you. Just be honest and you'll be fine."

Soaren was a little surprised, and indignation showed in his voice. "Why would I lie to them? I've followed Rarity for months and she's never let me down!"

"I meant with yourself, Soaren. I…I have to go." With that, Dash hovered through the door, her head bowed to the floor.

Shaken and unnerved, Soaren approached the still open door to the office. Stepping inside, he took in the sight before him. Rarity sat at her desk, Twilight and Applejack on either side of her. A single chair was in front of the desk, with the entire office looking tidy and…almost bare.

"Please, dear." Said Rarity, motioning towards the chair. She magically moved a paper in front of her to the side, bringing another in front of her. "We are all tired and so we will be brief. We are presented with a unique situation tonight, the trial of an enemy soldier. Since we have no precedent for this," she smiled shallowly, "we're figuring it out as we go along. Soaren, you and Rainbow Dash saw these Shadowbolts first, you have the clearest insight to their actions. Can you offer us any advice into what we should do with them?"

Soaren sat in the chair, his previous ruminations rising in him again. Unprepared to render a judgment, he said "Ma'm, I don't really know them. As soon as we saw eachother, they attacked us and killed Spike. After that, it was just the heat of the moment and adrenaline."

Rarity sighed, but made some notes on her paper. "I see, then they did attack first. And Spike's death, would you say it was intentional?"

"I…I don't…" Soaren's mind raced. They had attacked them, had been trying to kill them, but Spike's death was clearly an accident. If he said otherwise, however, their fate was sealed.

Soaren sighed. He wanted them to pay for their crimes, but him lying to make that happen would make this entire trial a farce. "I don't think so, Ma'm. Spike was caught in the crossfire, what happened to him couldn't have been planned."

Rarity nodded and continued writing. "I see. Your testimony agrees with Rainbow Dash's completely, Sauren, I thank you for making this easy on us all." She put down the paper and placed the pencil to the side, and looked directly at the pegasus. "Now, off the record, I wish to ask you some advice.

Soaren was a bit taken aback, but simply nodded at the unicorn. Looking to the ponies on either side of her, she continued. "We have been…divided in our counsel so far. Nopony can agree on what to do with these two prisoners now that we have them in our possession, even with the reports from you and Rainbow Dash. As a leader, I have always striven to give the public what they want. My dear, as a pony of New Ponyville, what would you have us do?"

Soaren's eyes widened in surprise. "I- uh, I can't speak for them, Ma'm. I never lived in Ponyville, I only came here to help after the attack." Rarity's eyes fell, her hope for new counsel dwindling. Desperate, Soaren continued. "But…I can speak for myself. Ma'm, they were aggressive and work for Nightmare Moon. It took awhile, but I think I know now that they can't be spared." Rarity's eyes narrowed in suspicion, and Soaren felt compelled to finish.

"It's just that…I think it will do the people good to have some sort of closure to this. These ponies are monsters, and the citizens love you. If you can't decide, let them."

Rarity looked at Twilight and Applejack, whose expressions were both perturbed.  "Thank you, Soaren. I will take that under advisement. You may be interested that Rainbow Dash did not agree with you on that one count," Soaren's ears piqued with interest, "she advocated for their lives, despite her injuries at their hooves. Make of that what you will, dear, you are dismissed."

Suddenly unsure of himself, Soaren stood and walked out the door. As it closed behind him, Twilight spun to Rarity. "You can't seriously be considering that! You might as well just hang them, the ponies will tear them apart for sure!"

"And why exactly is that a bad thing, sugarcube?" Applejack's voice cut in before Rarity could respond, "They attacked our town and burnt my orchard to the ground. Many of our friends, including Spike now, are dead because of them."

"Rarity, please, we don't know which Shadowbolts did that. These could just be two new recruits."

"They work for the enemy, Twi! And they certainly killed Spike! They should hang for their crimes!"

"You'd kill them for killing us? Where does it stop, Applejack?"

"You don't want to sink to their level? Well I think some revenge would help put ta' the fire back in these ponies." Applejack turned to Rarity. "Rarity, give if you don't want their blood on your hooves, give them to me. I'll make sure the resistance gets them, and they'll make them sing about everythin' they know before they meet justice." Her eyes flashed fury, but Rarity answered calmly.

"Applejack, I will not, I cannot, condemn them to certain death." Her face remained passive, but Twilight could see tears glinting in her eyes. "I can't kill them, not even for killing Spike. I've only ever wanted to help other ponies, but this…this is murder."

"This is justice, Rarity! Would you have them sit in a prison cell for the rest of their lives? Eating their share of our precious food?"

"If your precious resistance would give us the aid they promised, then that wouldn't be a problem, would it?" Rarity snapped back, shutting the orange pony up. "Don't think I've forgotten what we discussed before this all started, the ponies of this town can't base their hopes and morale around empty promises."

"Then you'll spare them? You'll really let them live?" Twilight's voice squeaked with an almost filly like hopefulness, happy that something was finally going her way.

"Twilight, my dear…I don't know. You said yourself that we don't have enough food as it is, but I simply can't imagine sharing any generosity with the same ponies who killed Spike and burned down our town. But if I release them , they'll report our location to Nightmare Moon." A tear finally rolled down Rarity's cheek, and she stayed silent for a long time.

When she finally spoke again, it was soft. Twilight could barely hear her, even in the dead silence of the room. "I never wanted this, girls. I only ever wanted to help other ponies. I only wanted to give them everything I could, and make their final days as comfortable as possible."

Twilight's brow wrinkled in confusion. "Their final days? Rarity, what are you talking about?"

Rarity looked up at Twilight, her eyes pleading for understanding. "Twilight, after Ponyville was destroyed, no pony even cared enough to live anymore. Zecora lead us all here to live in relative safety, but for what? Our contact with the world was cut off, we had no homes, and we still lived in fear that somepony would find us."
"But why final days? Rarity, what don't I know?"

"Twilight, my dear, nopony wanted to live after that! The trip from Ponyville to here wasn't a terrified rush, but the slow plod of broken and defeated spirits. I've tried my best, I've given them food and water and new homes, but most ponies are just…empty." Rarity let out a sob, wiping her eyes. "I've tried everything, but the only thing to give them a glimmer of hope was when Applejack brought news that the resistance had contacted her, and that was months ago with no news since."

"The ponies here are depressed?" Twilight was more confused than concerned. "Rarity, I don't mean to sound callous, but so what? You are all alive, and you can live here indefinitely if you just manage your supplies well. And I still don't see what this has to do with dying."

To Twilight's shock, Rarity stood up so fast that her chair fell over backward. She recoiled from her friend as Rarity's snout was thrust towards her face. "Do I have to spell it out for you, my dear? These poor ponies weren't just depressed, they were broken! Over a dozen ponies took their own lives in our second month here, twice that many in the next. Nopony will start a family because nopony wants to bring a little filly into this world. The ponies of Ponyville are already dead, Twilight, they are just waiting for their bodies to catch up with their spirits."

Twilight stood in shock as Rarity turned toward the wall, looking blankly at it as she thought. "I will not kill our prisoners, but neither will I watch our town slowly waste away. I had almost given up on them, simply trying to make them happy before reality closed in on us, but with these prisoners there might be a way to help them again. Tonight, I will hand them over to the townsponies to decide their fate for themselves. With any luck, seeing the faces of their killers will put the fire of life back in them."

The threat of their death brought Twilight back to her senses. "You think that will rid you of responsibility? Their blood will be on your hooves as sure as if you stabbed them yourself, and you know that."

Rarity shook her head, but hung it low to the ground as well. "I know, my dear, and the thought simply eats me alive. But no matter what I do, I fear that somepony will die from this. I will make this decision with that same principle with which I've lead everypony so far: generosity. I will give the town what they want, and if they want blood, that's their decision."


If anypony had been in a particular spot of the sky at just the right moment, they would have heard just the slightest static sound as a magical presence rushed by them. Had there been a line of ponies, one could have traced that this presence was making a beeline towards the royal palace.

Had any of the royal guard been stationed below one of the windows, they might have sensed the magical aura as it rushed through the corridor. Had anypony been at the large wooden door, they might have been able to open it, but the presence skittered underneath anyway, invisible and formless.

Thankfully, there was somepony in the large chair behind the desk, and she was a unicorn, and she did notice both the sound and the magical emanation. Smiling, she let her horn glow as she reabsorbed the formless sentry.

"My my, but you are back early" Said Trixie to her spell. "She didn't notice you, did she? Of course not, The Great and Powerful Trixie can be subtle when she needs too."

The static noise ceased and Trixie's eyes flashed white as the spell was completed. Putting a hoof to her chin, Trixie thought for a moment. "Captured? How interesting…"
Google Docs Link:[link]

You know what sucks to write? Fight scenes. "And then she punched and then he punched" is so boring to write, and trying to capture the simultaneous actions of what I imagine is nigh impossible in a story format.

Luckily, I wrote this story with the intention of exploring the moral and psychological journeys of the characters, not how many other ponies they can beat up.
© 2011 - 2023 BronyCray
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Wait, so Spike's really dead?