This is the new and improved reboot of Blazing Glory. If you read the original and liked it, then I hope you'll love this. If you didn't like the original, I ask you to please give this one a shot, it's better, I promise. This pretty much makes the first cut null and void, but a few things will be salvaged from the wreck of the original. So don't expect things to play out the same. This story contains numerous original characters, religious (Christian) elements, and some grim-dark events.
Cover Art – Link
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Chapter 1 – An Empty Heart
“Kind of scary?” A large blue stallion asked as he watched his small green colt slowly creep forward, his body low to the ground. A large iron key hung around the stallion's neck.
“I'm not scared,” the colt replied, as he peered over the edge. Darkness stretched beyond the pony’s vision, golden lightning flashed within the depths of a massive chasm.
“Oh, you're not are you?” the older pony said knowingly. He placed a hoof on the colt's shoulder, causing him to jump slightly. The stallion chuckled softly. “I remember when I first saw the great Rift. I was younger than you are and still didn't have my cutie mark.”
Taking several steps away from the ledge, the colt sat, giving the stallion his full attention.
“My father thought it was time I took our family heritage seriously.” He pointed a hoof to the simple stone bridge spanned the large gap. It had been built wide enough to allow a pony room to pull a wagon while crossing. An archway stood in the center, an iron gate serving as the only defensive structure. A thick forest lay on the other side of the ravine.
“That is the sole bridge across the Rift, and those of our blood line have stood guard over it for centuries. Now tell me son, why do we stand vigilance over this bridge?”
The colt replied automatically, everypony in their small village knew the story,“To protect Equestria from the return of the banished ponies.”
“That's right. Equestria wasn't always as peaceful as it is now. Once there was a war, one that nearly tore our nation apart. A group of ponies rose up, hate and evil in their hearts; spreading lies wherever they went, corrupting ponies to their twisted ways.”
Enraptured, the colt clung to every word.
“The princesses tried to find a peaceful solution, but the ponies could not be reasoned with. The royal sisters were eventually forced into taking drastic measures. That’s when things took a dark and violent turn.” His tone gradually became somber, his face hardening. “Pony fought pony. Friend fought friend. Many good ponies lost their lives. Nopony knows which side stuck first, but Princess Celestia and Princess Luna dealt the final blow. Through their combined power, the remaining ponies were banished to lands far beyond Equestria’s borders, never to return.”
The stallion nodded towards the colt, his tone softening. “And what did the princesses do then?”
“They used their magic to make the Rift, separating the bad ponies from us good ponies.”
The stallion knelt; looking into his son's smiling eyes. “One day you’re going to be old enough to join the guard. Then we’ll stand side by side protecting Equestria from the Banished Ones, won’t we?”
The colt beamed at the thought of joining his father as a valiant protector. “Have you ever actually seen one?”
“They’re very crafty,” The stallion said playfully, looking about, checking for imaginary watchers. “They’ll try to trick you, right up until the moment they attack.”
The stallion leaned in close. “They could even pretend to be a normal pony like us.” His voice became a whisper. “Or maybe I’m one of them in disguise?”
The colt giggled in foalish glee as his father’s hooves grabbed him and gently ruffled his mane.
“Or maybe it’s him!” the father said pointing towards an approaching stallion.
“Uncle Iron Bars!” the small pony laughed as he ran to meet the new stallion, a lean gray earth pony pulling a rickety wagon, a metal cell had been integrated into the it. Currently a sole, shifty looking pegasus occupied the cage.
“Grassy my boy, how are you?” The hitched stallion greeted.
“Dad let me come with him to help keep watch!” the colt said proudly.
“We’ll I for one can rest easier knowing you’re on the job.”
“Iron Bars,” the blue stallion called. “It's been too long since you've paid us a visit.”
“If it's not one thing then it's another, Hoofington doesn't keep the peace by itself.”
“Believe me when I say I know the feeling. Try having foals, then we'll talk about having free time.”
The two stallions laughed. “Grassy, tell your mother her brother will be staying with us.”
“Yes sir!” After giving a lopsided salute the colt galloped away, back down the path towards town.
“How are you doing Sharp Eyes?”
The blue stallion replied with a chuckle, “Bored, to tell you the truth.”
Iron Bars began pulling the cart towards the bridge, nudging his companion. “You mean fighting back hordes of sinister twisted ponies isn't enough for you anymore?”
Sharp Eyes shook his head as they began their journey across the Rift. “They’ve either all died out, or they just don't give a buck about Equestria anymore. It’s been years since the last time they tried anything and even then it was just one pony wanting to talk.” He sighed. “I wonder why we even still bother guarding this bridge.”
“Look on the bright side, the pay is decent and you’re not breaking your back digging ditches.”
“I'm not arguing with you there,” Sharp Eyes agreed with a smile, before sobering slightly. “It's just that...” He paused, contemplating his wording. “...sometimes I wish something exciting would happen, just to break the monotony.”
Iron Bars shrugged. “At least you don't have to deal with guys like him all day long.” He turned his head towards the pegasus prisoner.
“Don't pretend that you're better than me,” The pegasus spat.
“I don't have to pretend,” Iron Bars replied. “I know I’m better than you.”
As they approached the center, the stallions could make out the iron gate, rusty from age and lack of use. Sharp Eyes took the key hanging around his neck, unlocked the gate, and with a creak, slowly pushed it open.
The two continued across, their hooves clattering on the stones.
“So,” Sharp Eyes said breaking the silence that had befallen the group, “What did this one do?”
“Murderer,” Iron Bars informed with contempt. “Slaughtered an entire family.”
The captive pressed his face against the bars. “I didn’t murder anypony.”
“Uh huh, you don't say?” Iron Bars said, his voicing dripping sarcasm.
“I was set up,” the pegasus started to panic as they came to a halt. “Please you've got to believe me. It was the mule that lived next door! He did it, not me!”
Iron Bars unhitched himself from the wagon and slowly walked around the back. After unlocking the cage he stepped away.
“You have been charged with the murders of the stallion Corn Stalk and his wife Cabbage, along with the rape and consequent murder of their two foals, Tulip Petal and Pirouette.” Iron Bars looked directly into the felons eyes. “Get out.” He commanded, the malice behind his eyes plain to see.
Hesitantly, the pegasus flapped his wings, “Come on. Please don't do this. It isn't right.”
Iron Bars glared and pointed into the forest, his voice flat and emotionless. “Trot or fly. I don't care. Just…. get out of my sight.”
The pegasus looked pleadingly to Sharp Eyes, who had remained silent through the exchange. “Look, you seem like a reasonable…” The words died on his lips as the blue stallion shook his head.
“B-b-but it's a death sentence.” His breath quickened as his eyes began darting about. “I… I won’t last a week.”
Iron Bares snorted. “You should have thought about that before you decided to slaughter ponies for your sick amusement. If you die, then it is by your own doing.” He pawed at the ground. “Go and never come back. You are no longer welcome in Equestria.”
The pegasus looked between the two stallions before flaring his wings. “No! I'm going back!”
The pegasus shot into the air, past the guards, and out over the edge of the chasm. Lightning flashed, not descending from the sky, but erupting from the darkness below, followed by a mighty peal of thunder.
The limp, slightly smoking body fell silently into the abyss.
Sharp Eyes watched the pegasus fall.
“I've had enough of this grim work for one day,” Iron Bars said wearily.
“Come on. I think Summer Song was planning on cooking her carrot casserole, and I can hear a plate calling my name.”
“Ah. My sister always was amazing in the kitchen. I wish Cloud Crafter was half as talented as she was.” He exaggerated a heavy sigh. “But sadly all her efforts end in a bland mush.”
Sharp Eyes laughed. “Come on, she can't be that bad of a cook.”
“Easy for you to say, you don't have to eat it.”
“Well, then it can be an incentive for you to visit more often.”
Iron Bars began hitching himself back to the wagon. Sharp Eyes froze, mid step. Out of the corner of his eye, something had moved within the forest.
Quietly signaling Iron Bars, the stallion called out, clear and authoritative, “Is somepony there?”
The forest remained silent.
If it had been any other pony, Iron Bars would have blown it off as “just seeing things”, but Sharp Eyes always lived up to his name.
“Maybe we should...” Iron Bars began, his voice holding a shade of concern, but the sound of a snapping twig arrested the stallion's attention.
“Show yourself,” Sharp Eyes demanded, squinting into the gloomy forest.
The stallion's eyes shifted back and forth, probing the darkness. His sight fell on a small patch of earth. As he began to shift his gaze, there was the slightest of movements. A light hoof print had been formed where seconds ago the dirt had been blank.
“I know you're there. Now, show yourself!” Sharp Eyes continued to stare ahead while backing towards the bridge. “Iron Bars, we need to get the gate shut right now.”
“What did you see?” Iron Bars asked, trotting towards his friend, forsaking the wagon.
The answer never came, only a sound reminiscent of thunder. Iron Bars watched in shock as Sharp Eyes fell, blood splattering outwards from a hole that had appeared in the stallion's chest. Before he could react, a second peal of thunder, followed by Iron Bars' world suddenly going dark.
There was a melancholy sigh as a dark blue pony appeared out of the air. Her light blue green mane cascaded over her left shoulder. She wore a pair of sparsely filled saddlebags.
“Why did I have to be so careless?” the pony asked sadly, looking down at the still warm bodies.
“You're new Shimmer. You're bound to make a few mistakes.” a new voice said. “But killing is also a part of the job. You're going to have to get used to it.”
Shimmer turned to see a female diamond dog, strapping a rifle to her back as she approached.
The diamond dog wore engraved polished armor around her chest, a pleated silver skirt, and a ornate helmet that left only her light brown muzzle exposed. Two holes had been cut from the helmet, allowing her ears to stick out. A ruby encrusted collar fit snugly around her neck. Matching satchels hung from her shoulders, the straps crossing across her chest forming a light tan X. Her tail was long and slender, ending in a spiked knot.
“I know that Archangel,” Shimmer responded to the diamond dog, “but I wish I could have taken them out non-lethally. Their only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time... such a stupid thing to die for.”
Archangel shook her head as she lifted Sharp Eyes body. “That type of thinking will make you go crazy. “ She carried him to the canyon's edge. “They were a threat to the mission, so we dealt with them, simple as that.” The body was dropped, quickly enveloped by the darkness.
Shimmer remained silent, knowing the diamond dog was right, but that didn't mean she had to be happy about it. Archangel repeated the process with Iron Bars' corpse, followed by the wagon.
Wiping her hands together, Archangel surveyed the bridge and the surrounding Rift. She whistled. “I guess a do not enter sign wasn't quite good enough for these ponies.”
She glanced towards Shimmer, but the unicorn failed to respond to her joke.
“We need to head on,” The diamond dog stated. “There's still a long way until we reach Canterlot.”
Shimmer's horn lit briefly as the unicorn disappeared from view. Her voice emanated from the air. “I'll gallop ahead and scout it out.”
Under her helmet, Archangel rolled her eyes. Unless their sources had been completely wrong, the rest of their journey should be relatively easy. Equestria was a peaceful, if somewhat technologically dated nation (which Archangel assumed would happen when you become a vehemently isolationist country). If everything went according to plan, any ponies that saw them would just think they were from Equestria, and if anypony became a bit too inquisitive they would deal with them accordingly. But if letting Shimmer scout ahead made the unicorn happy, then it couldn't hurt.
After the invisible mare had left, Archangel looked for their third companion. A short distance away stood another unicorn fully clad in a black skin tight suit. She wore a mask set with two large air filters. Her eyes were hidden behind dark reflective goggles. Every part of her body had been bound in the black clothing. Her strange appearance was heightened by the fact she didn’t have a tail.
The black clad unicorn gazed over the chasms edge, one hoof raised; silent in contemplation.
“Lachrymose,” Archangel called.
The unicorn remained still, continuing to stare silently into the darkness.
“Lachrymose we’re leaving,” Archangel said softly, approaching the unmoving unicorn. She placed a paw on the pony’s shoulder.
The unicorn slowly raised her head, expression unreadable under the mask. Lachrymose nodded once before trotting away.
A great alicorn sat on her gilded throne, her multihued mane flowing in a nonexistent wind. She listened patiently as pony after pony came to tell her of their problems. While she gladly did everything in her power to help Equestria, it could get rather tiresome at times.
As a short, pudgy stallion rattled on about a land dispute, Celestia fought back the urge to yawn. She considered taking an early leave for a well deserved respite, but there were still many ponies left to see and she didn't want to disappoint them.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a silent alarm, magically bound only to her. She stood quickly, horn flaring as she teleported away, leaving behind a stunned crowd of ponies.
*One hour prior.
Their plan had been simple. Shimmer would use her stealth to infiltrate the castle. Lachrymose would keep a psychic tie between the two unicorns, monitoring Shimmer, and if the need arose, be able to teleport Shimmer out. To keep this bond between the two ponies, Lachrymose would have to go into a meditative state, thus Archangel would stay and watch over the black coated mare. To facilitate a swift escape, they had chosen a warehouse near the city walls as there base of operations.
Infiltration into the castle had been foals play.
Shimmer looked up and down the regal hall, making sure she was alone. With a soft pop, she unlatched her saddle bag; reaching in, she floated out a small stone, shape into a five pointed star; a single point glowed softly. Content with her heading, the stone was placed back within her pack, seemingly vanishing into thin air.
The invisible mare repeated these steps periodically as she continued her search, leading her up several flights of stairs, eventually making her way into one of the castle’s ivory spires. After climbing a circular set of steps, Shimmer came to a landing. Before her a large ornately carved door, guarded by two white pegasi in golden armor.
Shimmer approached cautiously, careful not to alert the guards. Her hoof steps were silent, her breathing deliberately slow.
Her hooves were quick and efficient, easily disabling the first guard. Before the second guard had time to register the incapacitation of his comrade, Shimmer bucked her hind legs. The guard's helmet clattered on the marble floor.
Shimmer smiled as she turned her attention to the opulent door. Reaching out her hoof, she gently pushed the door open.
A fireplace burned cheerfully, illuminating the large room. Tapestries were hung from the walls, one of which depicted a night sky sparkling with stars while another showed a magnificent sunrise cresting over peaks and valleys. The floor and walls were soothing shades of indigo and purple. Book cases and shelves were filled with trinkets of varying sizes. Across the room, an open doorway led onto a balcony. No expense had been spared in the lavish furnishings.
Shimmer floated out the star, again checking the direction. The stone shone intensely, pointing directly across the room towards a small wooden chest resting on a high shelf. The chest was old, exceedingly so. A steel padlock served as the only deterrent.
She made quick work of the meager defense, oblivious to the magical alarm she had unwittingly tripped. A chill ran down her spine upon opening the chest. A single, black, multifaceted crystal, a sphere about the size of one's hoof, slowly floated upwards, cradled in the mare's magic. Shimmer inspected the stone, turning it about.
So this was their prize. This was what Billington was so desperate to find. This small unassuming sphere was supposed to help put an end to the war.
Holding the thing set her on edge. Something about the crystal just felt wrong, almost sinister. Looking at the black sphere, Shimmer swore it was looking back.
A thought rose, unbidden in Shimmer’s mind. A simple spell, one she couldn't quite place a hoof on remembering learning. She didn't know why, but she was certain she could use the stone. Power radiated from the dark surface, like blood from a wound.
Shimmer's face split in an invisible smile. Yes, she was certain of it. The crystal would show her how to attain her desires. It had too, there were no other possibilities. She had been mistaken; the sphere wasn't something insidious; it was benevolent. It wanted to help. All it asked in return was a simple little spell.
Shimmer concentrated, focusing her magic into the spell.
A regal voice splintered Shimmer's focus.
The transparent mare turned to face the voice, floating the crystal before her. In the door way a large mare stood, wings extended, auroral mane flowing.
Under normal circumstances, Shimmer would have been struck by awe at the sight of the infamous princess of the sun, but instead the only thing she felt was annoyance.
“You have no idea what you’re doing,” The alicorn warned. Celestia's eyes slowly scanned the room, searching for the intruding pony. The black orb floated in the center of the room. “Don't listen to it. The evil within that crystal will do anything to be free. The Heart will deceive and trick you, it will use and destroy you.”
“Lies!” Shimmer trembled with anger. How dare this insolent pony feed her these lies; the sphere was good and kind, it would help her, it had to.
Celestia focused on the voice.
“Please, I don't know why you're doing this, but you need to stop, before it is too late. Nothing good can come of the Empty Heart.”
A throbbing pain caused Shimmer to cry out. Her eyes swam as the crystal stole her focus. Like a roaring whisper, a voice called to her. The room fell away, the tall regal mare dissipating into nothingness. The world was gone, only the Empty Heart remained.
It pulsed with unnatural light. Shadows swirled beneath its surface. Its dark elegance pulled Shimmer closer, rising before her, greater than the tallest peaks, wider than the largest ocean. The voice, arcane in its beauty and horror was both the songs of angels and the screams of demons. The mare was enthralled by the sphere. She had no past, present, or future: there was only the sphere.
A golden light, like dawn cresting the mountains, surrounded the magnificence of the sphere.
The voice commanded; Shimmer obeyed. A dark blue beam, shot from her horn. Cutting through the darkness, it struck the jet black crystal. The surface began to crack, the light from Shimmer's magic fracturing the smooth facade.
Her body screamed in protest, her muscles burning from strain. The spell was taking far more than she could bear to give. She tried to stop, but the magic continued to pour from her horn. Desperately she pulled away. What had seemed so beautiful and majestic, was now a horror. Gone was the enchanting pull, replaced by a raving hunger. It drew power from the unicorn, stealing away at her very being.
True fear coursed through Shimmer. She screamed as she felt her body losing strength. The unicorn struggled against her fate as death's cold hoof drew near.
Golden light lashed towards her, making contact with her horn. The light was warm and comforting, like being caressed by a summer wind. The brief respite lasted only seconds as her horn shattered.
Shimmer was thrown backwards, colliding roughly against a small bookcase. Her head throbbed violently, nausea rose in her stomach. Blinking back tears, she looked at her hooves. She flickered in and out of visibility, her dark blue coat wet with blood.
A cry of pain wrenched her attention.
Celestia held the Empty Heart in her magical grasp, blazing like the sun. Her eyes were locked on the sphere. She grunted, horn flaring, adding to the blinding light. Her body shined with sweat as her legs began to quiver.
The princess fell to her knees, her voice barely a whisper, too quiet for Shimmer to discern her words.
As the alicorn's magic slowly began to dim, Shimmer could make out a black spear of light emanating from the sphere. The light pushed against Celestia's magic, inching closer to the alicorn. The princess’s strength finally failed, allowing the black light to strike.
The room erupted in a wave of darkness.
To be continued in Chapter 2 – Blood on the Horizon
Questions? Comments? Ideas? I'll gladly read everything you have to say.
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Chapter 2 – Blood on the Horizon
Lachrymose flailed violently, hooves lashing out as her body convulsed.
“Dammit girl, what the Devil’s gotten into you?”
Archangel held the unicorn as she thrashed about, trying to keep the pony from hurting herself.
The unicorn anguished in silence, the only sound coming from her hooves clattering against the floor.
The diamond dog embraced the unicorn; unsure of how to help she offered a silent prayer.
As suddenly as the attack had occurred, its end was equally as fast. The convulsions stopped, leaving the unicorn limp in the dog’s arms. She placed a hoof to her head as Archangel released her.
Standing swiftly, she stumbled toward the room’s door, throwing it open with her magic.
A white light surrounded Lachrymose's black clad horn. Thin shimmering letters blazed into life, hovering before the unicorn.
“Shimmer,” Archangel read.
The unicorn gestured towards the castle's largest tower as the letters quickly died away. Her horn glowed as she cast a another spell. Along her sides, the black clothing she wore began to warp and shift. The fabric snaked out, splitting and intertwining.
The unicorn flared her makeshift appendages. Galloping away she beat her textile wings, deftly taking to the air.
Archangel watched; the black unicorn ascending towards the spires balcony.
As light slowly returned, the great alicorn stood, a smirk slowly forming. Celestia inspected her body, lifting each leg in turn while experimentally flapping her wings.
“This is going to take some getting used to.” Celestia said finally. Her eyes widened as a sudden realization dawned. She turned her head, simultaneously lifting her right hind leg. After a few seconds of silence, she stood straight, a mildly uncomfortable expression across her face. “Much getting used to.”
Noticing the prostrate unicorn, the princess took several tentative steps forward, her stride strengthening with each step.
“Hello little mare,” she said looking down, the unicorn warily meeting her gaze. “You have my sincerest gratitude. If Celestia hadn't distracted herself with saving your piteous soul, I would have never been able to get the upper hoof against her.”
The shell of the princess looked about, her eyes settling on the Empty Heart. The sphere lay on the floor, still intact, but instead of the deep black it had once been; now it glowed with bright golden light.
“That is why you came here isn't it? The Empty Heart, my former prison. What wicked things were you planning my dear?”
Shimmer was wrapped within a black aura, the same color magic that had emanated from the sphere. Celestia levitated the incapacitated pony as they made their way onto the balcony. The princess looked down upon Canterlot.
“I am Horizon and I was a stallion betrayed...” The possessed voice of Celestia became inflected with anger. “Betrayed by the ones I called friends, by the ones who claimed to be just, even by the God I sacrificed everything for.” She floated the orb towards the captive unicorn, calming her speech. “I tell you so you will understand why I do this. An Empty Heart needs to be filled.”
The trapped unicorn began to panic as her situation became clear.
Horizon looked out, over the city and far off into the distant lands of Equestria. “Fodder, every single last one. They are kindling to stoke the radiant fires of my ambition. I will right the wrongs committed against me. I will have justice from this cold and uncaring existence... even if I have to rend the very world apart to find it.” Turing back to the unicorn Horizon continued. “Your soul will be used to help fuel my greater good.”
Shimmer struggled feebly, fervently wishing that she was a stronger pony.
“Do not make this any harder than it has to be,” Celestia's voice said soothingly.
Several tears fell silently to the floor. Death. She wasn't ready to die. Not here. Not now. Not like this.
She flickered in and out of visibility. Shimmer realized with a start that her cloaking spell was still functioning, albeit sporadically. Maybe... maybe she could get out of this yet.
Summoning all her energy into one final spell, she let out a scream. The shattered remains of her horn, failing to contain the magical buildup, exploded in a powerful backlash. Her vision blinded by the dazzling flash.
Celestia cried in pain, shoving the unicorn away, out and over the balconies railing.
Shimmer felt her body begin to fall, the wind blowing through her hair. A sensation washed over the unicorn, warm and comforting, the same feeling that the golden light had given when saving her from the Hearts pull. She reached for it, her hooves griping the warmth’s source. Hugging the Heart close to her chest, she slipped into blissful unconsciousness.
Archangel watched Lachrymose flap her wings, taking to the air. A bright flash caught her attention as the flickering form of Shimmer shot over the balcony, tumbling through the air.
Lachrymose strained her wings, urging every ounce of speed into her flight.
Underneath the falling unicorn a rainbow shot upwards.
Archangel grabbed her rifle, looking through the scope. Not a rainbow, but a sky blue pegasus.
Thoughts ran through the diamond dogs mind. 'What is she doing? Is she coming to help? Is she an enemy? Capture! She's a guard coming to apprehend Shimmer.' She aimed the rifle, preparing to shoot down the encroaching pegasus. 'But can Lachrymose make it to Shimmer? What if Shimmer dies because nopony is there to catch her. But if the pegasus is trying to arrest her, then God knows what could happen to her.'
The rainbow continued its streaming approach, ignorant of the internal fight over its fate.
'No. Lachrymose will catch her. I have faith in her.'
She aligned the shot. She could just make out the pegasus' face, bold and cocky, so sure of herself. Deep down, where her darkest desires whispered, Archangel wondered if she would enjoy wiping the smile off the pegasus' face.
She pulled the trigger.
Six mares walked together, laughing and chatting as they made their way down a busy Canterlot street.
“I just love the grandeur of Canterlot,” Rarity awed. “The elegant curves and ornate designs of the castle, so inspiring.”
Applejack replied, adjusting her hat. “A bit too busy for my taste. I like it plain and simple.”
“It's nice,” Fluttershy said quietly, walking alongside Rarity.
“It's also an engineering accomplishment,” Twilight added. “Did you know that during the time period when...”
“Ugh. Come on Twilight we're supposed to be having fun, not getting a history lesson,” Rainbow Dash grouched, hovering over the group.
With a look of irritation Twilight replied to the pegasus. “History is fun.”
Before Rainbow Dash could make a sarcastic remark, Pinkie Pie's tail began to shake.
“Twitcha twitch!” The pink pony cried.
The six ponies immediately looked skyward; a falling, flickering pony could be seen far above.
“Oh my goodness!” Fluttershy said apprehensively.
Applejack called to Rainbow Dash, frantically pointing her hoof towards the plummeting unicorn. “Rainbow!”
After a moment of processing, Dash complied. “On it!”
The blue pegasus shot upwards, hooves outstretched. The fact that the pony was turning invisible slightly confused Rainbow Dash, but she didn't really care. After this she was going to be treated like a hero.
'Oh thank you Rainbow Dash. You saved me Rainbow Dash. You're the most awesome and radical pony ever Rainbow Dash. Can I have your autograph Rainbow Dash. We love you so much Rainbow...' Her thoughts were cut short as a loud boom echoed throughout the city, followed by pain blooming in her chest.
Blood. Her blood, cascaded outwards, a dark and crimson rain. Her wings became still, her eyes filled with tears as she screamed, consumed with agony. More screams, not from her but from below. Friends calling her name. The panic in their voices frightened the pegasus.
Above she could still see the falling unicorn, her mane whipping wildly in the wind. An alicorn appeared, but not one Rainbow Dash had ever seen before. She was the size of a normal pony, her body appeared black, and strangely she was missing her tail. Her wings, Dash realized, were wrong. Before she could wonder about this further, her vision filled with pink and yellow.
Rain? No. Tears fell against her face.
“Fluttershy,” Dash whispered feebly.
The yellow pegasus tried to give a reassuring smile, but the truth was plain in her large caring eyes.
“Shh. It's going to be okay,” Fluttershy said softly.
The faces of her friends, filled with worry, surrounded her as the two pegasi landed. Rainbow being gently laid on the ground.
“Don't worry dear,” Rarity assured. “Twilight went to get a doctor. They'll be here any minute.”
“Just hold on Dash,” Applejack said, worry inflecting her country accent. “Just hold on.”
“Bulls eye,” Archangel said mirthlessly. Her aim was true; the pegasus was debilitated, but she was far from fatally so.
She shifted her gaze, back towards Shimmer. The unicorn was held in Lachrymose hooves, sporadically shifting visibility.
Archangel frowned, the pair quickly losing altitude. Bringing up her guns scope, she could make out the black unicorn, her wings struggling to slow their fall. Her textile wings were unable to match those made of flesh and bone, the weight of both ponies causing too much strain to allow for proper flight.
With a feral growl, Archangel shot forward, her four powerful paws propelling her at great speeds. Ponies scattered before her charge, the ones failing to do so were forcefully shoved aside. The site of a fully armored diamond dog, rushing headlong through the busy streets of the Canterlot, caused several of the more refined mares to faint away in shock.
A gray stallion stepped into her path. “I order you to...”
A mighty paw, akin to a battering ram, knocked the stallion backwards, landing him roughly against a parked carriage, splintering a wheel into several pieces.
More shouts. More ponies. No stopping.
Lachrymose landed roughly, but kept a tight grip around her passenger. During their descent Shimmer had shifted back to invisibility, and had yet to change back. Lachrymose hoped it was a sign she was stabilizing, losing a horn was a severely traumatizing event.
The black unicorn's makeshift wings slowly unraveled, merging back into the dark clothing. Levitating the concealed Shimmer onto her back, Lachrymose turned to find her way back to Archangel, but she was stopped by an angry voice.
“Hold on just one apple buckin' minute,” Applejack said approaching the unicorn. Her friends were several yards behind her, gathered around the wounded Rainbow Dash. The mare seemed a little taken aback upon getting a good look at Lachrymose's appearance, but her anger pushed through. “I saw you go after that fallin' pony, so I'm gonna ask you this one time and ya better not lie ta me. Do you know what happened to Rainbow Dash?” She punctuated her demand with a stomp of her hoof.
Lachrymose looked past the orange mare, to where the blue pegasus lay bleeding. Around her several ponies were gathered, tears staining there cheeks. She had heard the gunshot, but being so focused on Shimmer, she had missed the repercussions.
The sight of the gathered friends brought back memories, memories that pained the unicorn. Behind her impassive mask, she shed a single tear.
Applejack reared back as thin white letters burst into life before her. They floated, ethereal in their appearance.
“Yes,” Applejack said reading the letters.
Lachrymose trotted past a very confused Applejack, towards the injured Pegasus. She received bewildered expressions from the surrounding ponies.
“Excuse me but...” Rarity began, before the flaring letters 'Move' cut her off.
The black unicorn knelt beside the wounded pony. A white aura surrounded the bloody hole in Rainbow's chest. 'The bullet didn't pass through', Lachrymose noted mentally.
“Um... maybe you shouldn't... I mean... do you know... what... you're doing?” Fluttershy mumbled softly, greatly intimidated by the unicorn.
Ignoring the butter pegasus, Lachrymose summoned three new words before the cyan pony. 'This' 'Will.' 'Hurt.'
Seven guards trailed in Archangel's wake; in front, an equal number stood shoulder to shoulder, blocking her path.
“In the name of Celestia, you are order to cease and desist!” The lead guard bellowed, lowering his head, preparing for the assault.
“Not happening!” Archangel roared deftly leaping over the defenders.
Turning a corner, her goal came into sight. Lachrymose knelt within a group of ponies.
The diamond dog closed the distance rapidly. Lachrymose stood, finished with her work. The gathered ponies nervously backed away from the diamond dog.
“Lachrymose, time to go!”
The unicorn, still carrying the unconscious Shimmer, pressed up against the diamond dog.
The shouts of guards could be heard, closing in on their location.
Reaching into her left satchel, Archangel gripped a small spherical device. It was dark green in color, with a red button set within the surface.
“Maybe next time boys.” Gritting her teeth, she pressed the button.
The device pulsed green, before erupting in a ball of eldritch emerald fire. The flames consumed the trio, to the horror of the onlooking ponies. Within seconds, the strangers were gone, nothing left but three wisps of green smoke carried away by the wind.
*Excerpt from a lecture on the magical displacement theorem
Teleportation. Highly useful magic, unfortunately fairly limited in actual practicality. The farther one teleports, the more energy is require to make said teleportation. If one were to go from one side of the room to the other, then one would only feel a bit tired; but if one were to try going greater distances, then the caster could end up severely drained.
The spell will, at a certain point, start consuming the caster, using their own bodies as fuel to make the journey. This can manifest as burns or gashes for shorter sojourns; but if a unicorn doesn't fully understand their limits, they could arrive at their destination as little more than a pile of ashes.
While unicorn teleportation is limited by distance, certain types of dragon fire have no such constraints. One or one thousand miles, the pony consumed within the fire will appear unharmed at their destination.
Ponies cannot create dragon fire, but they can alter and change its properties. Filling an item with dragon fire, then enchanting said item with the coordinates of a specific location, will allow the user rapid transportation to the aforementioned location. Thus all races can have access to prompt, expedient, reliable travel.
As wondrous as this technology is, relations with the dragons are tenuous at best and working with dragon fire is a notoriously difficult process.
The world came rushing back into reality, causing Archangel to stagger.
“God I hate doing that.”
Lachrymose nodded in agreement.
The two began to take in their surroundings: four gray walls, one door, no furnishings. An uneasy feeling crept over the diamond dog. Something about the situation felt off.
“Welcome back.” A medium build, green earth pony entered the room. He kept his light violet mane in a short, close cut style. A black tailored suit fit snugly around his torso.
Flanking the green stallion, six heavily armed ponies, stood guard, each carrying a large machine rifle, firing bit clamped firmly within their mouths.
“Mr. President,” Archangel said saluting, Lachrymose parroting the move.
“At ease,” he said calmly. “Ladies, let's not waste time beating around the bush. Was your mission successful?”
Lachrymose gently levitated the golden sphere out of Shimmer's vice like embrace, floating it to the waiting pony. Archangel slowly reached within her satchel.
“Good,” The stallion said receiving the Heart. “You've done your country a great service. This will end the war you know.” The surrounding ponies tensed. “It's a shame you won't be around to see it... loose ends and all that.”
Growling, Archangel pulled out a second dragon grenade, prepared for just such treachery. The President was visibly surprised. “How?!”
Throwing herself in front of Lachrymose and Shimmer, she triggered the device, consuming the three companions as the room erupted with gunfire.
The green stallion looked at the bullet riddled spot where the three had been standing, wondering how the dog had gotten hold of such exclusive technology. They had only been given the one for their mission, and possession of dragon fire was illegal unless officially sanctioned by the government.
No matter, he thought. He had his prize and they would be found and dealt with soon enough.
It was night, a storm brewing on the horizon. The wind blew heavily, buffeting anypony unlucky enough to be caught out in the elements.
Two figures, one pony, one diamond dog, traveled down deserted streets, stumbling slightly. Through faint moonlight a familiar building came into view, rising like a pillar of hope, a steeple, crested with a wrought iron cross.
“We're almost... there.” Archangel wheezed, indicating the building to Lachrymose, still burdened by their invisible friend.
Passing by the vestibule, they made their way towards the back of the church. Here, they found another, smaller building. Lights illuminated the windows. A cheerful sign hung over the door, reading 'Salvation for all'.
Pounding her fist on the door, Archangel waited for the occupants.
The door opened, revealing a middle aged unicorn stallion. His coat was a light gray with a dark gray mane and tail, trim and neat. Around his neck, he wore a white collar with a red tie. His cutie mark depicted a black book with a white flame emblazoned on its cover.
“Archangel? Lachrymose?” He said taken aback.
“Reverend. We need... we need... we...”
The diamond dog fell forward, the gray stallion rushed to catch her. His coat becoming slick with blood. Bullet holes riddled Archangel's armor, crimson liquid slowly dripping from multiple wounds.
The stallion shouted over his shoulder. “Charity! I need you!”
*So ends the prelude, the real story begins now.
To be continued in Chapter 3 –A Righteous Path
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
*Attention anyone who would be interested in prereading. Grammar, ideas, fleshing out scenes, characterization, helping with creating more detailed writing, anything and everything. This would involve me writing a chapter, then posting it in a Google docs and just letting you go to town with it. I would appreciate anyone who would want to do this and help me make this story something worth reading. My contact info is at the end of the chapter.
Chapter 3 – A Righteous Path
*One week later, outside the New Canterlot city limits.
A slow rustling of pages filled the air as Rev leisurely leafed through his Bible, contemplating the coming Sunday's sermon. He sat behind a large mahogany desk, littered with books and loose papers. Afternoon sunshine gently illuminated the large study, revealing multiple bookcases filled to capacity. The scent of honeysuckle carried through an open window, wafting on a warm breeze. A small onyx engraved nameplate read 'Reverend Blazing Glory.'
The gray stallion tapped the desk restlessly, his hoof beating a steady rhythm. He had finally finished his six part message on the Apostles, and now felt his congregation needed a good old fashioned hellfire and brimstone sermon. Unfortunately, he was finding it a difficult proposition.
Loud, pulsing music played from somewhere within the house. Along with the scent of honeysuckle, a mare sang, her voice floating into the study, meshing bizarrely with the muffled music.
Rev shut his Bible and pushed away from the desk. Seeing as how it was such a pleasant afternoon, work could wait until later, now he would just relax and enjoy the day.
'You could almost forget our country's at war and that we've been harboring wanted fugitives,' Rev thought as he walked towards the open window.
Looking out, he saw an orange mare sitting in a small flower garden, her long sapphire mane fell gently around her shoulders. Singing softly to herself, she kept her gaze tilted skyward. A small red and white first aid box rested on the ground beside her. Curious as to what had caught Charity's attention, the stallion looked up.
A light brown stallion flew overhead, his dark, earthy green mane flowing as he moved about. He busily aligned small spherical clouds, setting them into a row. His wings were metallic, each having only three feathers spread wide apart, a golden glow emanating from between the plumage. The sun glinted of the reflective appendages.
“Cross is going to hurt himself,” Rev called to the mare.
She nodded, keeping her gaze on the cyberpegasus. “He won't listen to me. He's convinced he knows what he's doing.”
Knowingly, Rev replied, “What's he trying to do now?”
Charity raised a hoof, pointing towards a small black thunder cloud. “He wants to knock that storm cloud into the line of regular clouds. Then the lightning is supposed to travel down the line of clouds and discharge from the other end.” She shook her head sadly, “I think he's just going to shock himself.”
“Let's hope he doesn't break anything this time,” Rev sighed, before backing away from the window, knowing full well how Cross' experiment was liable to end. Walking across the room, he realized the pounding music had stopped. Silence. Silence was never good. A hoof beat rapidly against the closed study door. Before Rev could even consider answering, the door flew open, banging loudly against the wall, revealing a distressed mare.
Her body was semi robotic in nature. Her muzzle, chest, a large section of her back and flank, and both her shoulders showed her snow white coat, the rest of her body was metallic. Her eyes were two illuminated screens, depicting a pair of large digital blue eyes. Where her cutie marks should have been, screens had been placed, currently depicting three pink heart outlines. Upon each leg and her forehead, flowing, swirling patterns had been embellished. Her mane and tail were composed of cables of different colors and sizes.
“Dad!” she said emphatically, accentuating the exclamation with her forehooves.
“Yes Faith.” The preacher said, mentally fortifying himself.
“That invisible pony was spying on me,” the cyberpony accused. “She was in my room, watching me.”
Giving her a long, skeptical look the stallion asked, “You're absolutely positive she was in your room?”
Faith shook her head vigorously. “Definitely.” Sliding up close to Rev, she took a more timid tone. “I think she might be a... ” She whispered the last words, as if afraid to speak them, “sexual predator … daddy, I just don't feel safe.”
Rev rolled his eyes. Faith was obviously playing him, she never broke out 'daddy' unless she wanted something.
“Shimmer's watching you in a sexual manner?”
“Mmmhmm. It's not my fault I'm such an attractive mare, some ponies just can't restrain themselves around me.” She affirmed casually.
“Maybe she's hiding under your bed or in the closet, waiting to get you when you go to sleep.” Rev said, trying to sound serious. “I think I should go and search your room thoroughly... just to make sure she's not still in there.”
Faith's digital eyes shrunk. “No!”
He turned to give her a condemning look.
“Uhh... I mean that's not necessary. She's already left, I scared her out.”
Rev stopped, deciding if he wanted to continue down this route. She was obviously hiding something that she didn't want him to see. He mentally filed it under, 'something to look into later'.
“Okay Faith. You're nineteen years old, just tell me what you want.”
She raised a hoof to her mouth in shock. “Are you suggesting I'm being...” Rev's stare withered her response. “Well, since I need some protection against that invisible pony, I was thinking...” She turned her flank towards Rev, the screen for her cutie mark changed, now displaying a rotating sword with several lines of text, “that you could buy me this.”
“And why do you want it?” he asked.
“You mean other than to keep your daughter's virtue intact?”
“Yes, other than that.” Rev said wearily.
“It just so happens that this was the sword used by Dash Buckwell in the cinematic epic, The Fall of the Poman Empire.” She said as nonchalantly as possible, but the hint of wanting still shone through.
“Dash Buckwell huh?” Rev said leaning close to her flank, reading the small print. His eyes widened upon seeing the price tag. “I'm sorry Faith, but you’re going to have to make do without it.”
“But what about..” she started, before Rev cut her off.
“Shimmer is not in your room. And I don't want to hear anymore about it. You know she can't control her magic. How would you feel if a magic accident had left you permanently invisible?”
Faith kicked at the ground, not meeting his gaze. “I don't know, that might be kind of cool.”
“What have I told you about lying?” He asked sternly.
“The same thing you told me about drinking, swearing, stealing, sex, murder..”
“.. don't do it.” She finished weakly.
A peal of thunder, followed by a heavy thud came from outside. Charity called through the window, “I told you so.”
“What was that?” Faith said running to the window, her downcast mood gone in a flash.
“That will be Cross.”
Crimson walked slowly down the sparsely decorated hallway, past the open study door where Rev was busy with Faith, a covered tray held firmly in his mouth. He kept his blood red mane shaved down to almost nonexistence.
He was of a very muscular build and wore a stern, intimidating look. He bore a white eye patch that partially covered several scratches running down the left side of his face. His black coat was marred by multiple scars covering his body. On his flank he had the symbol of a black storm cloud with red lightning bolts and raindrops pouring from it. At first glance he seemed to be a healthy example of an earth pony, but upon closer inspection one would see that something was terribly amiss. The stallion had two scarred patches on his back. It wouldn't take a clever pony long to realize that this earth pony was in fact a pegasus that had lost his wings. Strapped around his midsection, he wore large saddlebags.
A door opened ahead of Crimson, forcing him to stop. Stepping out of the doorway, an elderly stallion looked at Crimson through thick framed glasses. Over his turquoise coat he wore a brown suit with a red bow tie. His mane had turned a silvery gray with age.
“That for them up there?” the old stallion asked, gesturing towards the tray. “Cause if it is, you ain't supposed to feed strays. They'll never leave.”
Crimson nodded his head in affirmation.
“Chatty as ever I see,” the stallion said before stepping back out of Crimson's path. “Well go on. Don’t let old Solace slow ya down.”
Crimson ignored the aged pony and continue on. At the end of the hall a long piece of twine hung from the ceiling. After putting down the tray, he grasped the cord with his teeth and pulled. A latter unfolded, allowing the stallion access to the house's musty attic. Packed boxes were stacked haphazardly about. Cobwebs and dust were the dominant features of the large space. Gathered within a circle of boxes, a small lamp sitting in between, two figures conversed, although the stallion knew there were actually three.
“We can't stay here much longer,” Archangel stated. She still wore her polished bullet riddle armor. While with some tender loving care and a bit of magic, her wounds had healed swiftly, neither Rev nor Lachrymose new any metal mending spells. To Archangel's dismay, her rifle hadn't fared any better, and now was nothing more than a pile of scrap. “Billington's got us on his list and that means U.S.U.R.P. will be coming.”
“I still don't understand what we did wrong or why we're hiding in a church.” Shimmer moaned despondently.
“Lachrymose and I know these ponies. I knew they would help us.”
“I doubt they'll be much help when soldiers come bursting through their door,” Shimmer groused.
“They're not as helpless as you think they are. I've dragged Lachrymose here occasionally and we've gotten to know...”
Shimmer interrupted the diamond dog, “Yeah, I'm sure that prayer will help stop bullets. If I believe hard enough they'll just bounce off, right?”
Archangel growled, low and menacing. Perking her ears, she focused on Shimmer's voice. Her paw lashed out, slapping the invisible unicorn upside the head, causing the mare to cry in pain.
“Now listen up, we've got to get out of the country and I know just the place to go,” the diamond dog said.
As Crimson approached, he placed the tray on the floor. Uncovering it, he exposed a small plate of sandwiches.
“Ahh, Mr. Crimson Thunder,” Archangel greeted conversationally, “You wouldn't happen to have any maps laying around anywhere?”
Archangel and Shimmer quickly ate the sandwiches, Lachrymose declined, claiming not to be hungry. Crimson silently ventured over to a half open box and began sorting through its contents. After a few moments of rooting, he retrieved an old, crinkled map. He blew on it, creating a small swirling cloud of dust.
Walking back to the group, Crimson offered the map to the armored female. Taking the map, Archangel began to study the terrain. She pointed with her claw, tracing their route, “First we go north, over the border and into Diamora. I have family there, they'll be more than willing to help us prepare a little surprise for Billington.” Smiling wickedly, she looked up from the map, towards Crimson. “First thing tomorrow, we'll be out of your mane.”
“You’re supposed to fly away from the ground, not into it,” Faith teased from the window.
“It was an emergency landing,” Cross said defensively. “My wings were overloaded by the electric discharge, all things considered I pulled off a decent touchdown.”
“Right into my roses,” Charity sighed sadly.
“...sorry about that,” Cross replied sheepishly.
Cross lay next to Charity as she methodically removed thorns from the cyberpegasus' backside, gingerly pulling them out with her teeth.
“You know Cross,” Faith said cheekily, “sometimes you're a real... pain in the ass!”
“Watch your language young lady,” Charity chided without stopping her work.
“Naughty, naughty Faith,” the pegasus said smirking.
“Don't tease your sister.”
Faith blew a raspberry at the grounded cyberpegasus.
“You want it like that?” He dug into the soft garden soil. Cocking a hoof full of dirt, he aimed carefully, aligning the shot.
“Don't.” Charity warned.
Looking at the smug face of the mare in the window, Cross knew there was only one option. As he pitched the ball of dirt forward, time slowed to a crawl. The ponies watched as the projectile flew through the air, an earthen warhead. Faith went to duck, but she was seconds too late. Her face bloomed into an explosion of dirt.
Faith slowly raised a hoof to her face, wiping the dirt off of her digital eyes.
“Well Faith,” Cross laughed. “It looks like you've.. soiled yourself.”
Faith's eyes shifted color, going from a peaceful blue to a burning red. Her face twisting into a feral scowl.
“I warned you,” the orange mare said stepping back from the cyberpegasus, pulling out the final thorn.
“I just polished!” the cybernetic mare yelled in anger, climbing through the window.
Cross blanched. Standing, he swiftly turned to run. Charity watched passively as he galloped away, shouting appeasements over his shoulder, followed close behind by an angry Faith, both ponies trampling through her already crushed flowers. She picked up a still intact rose and looked at it sadly. She placed it back onto the ground, then stood. Singing softly, she ventured back towards the house.
All encompassing darkness, vast and impenetrable. Silence, oppressive and deafening. Sorrow, overwhelming and bottomless, a single stallion floated in the emptiness. A sound, soft and distant, beings to build, forming into screams, full of pain and torment. He wants them to go away, begs them to stop their wails. The screams continue, until one by one they die away. The silence returns, awful in its mockery.
A small light in the distance, growing larger as he approaches. A ball of flames burning bright and pure, a rapidly approaching light in the end of the tunnel. It looms ahead, fires burning, waiting to consume him. He collides with the wall of flames, flying deep into the heart of the inferno. The fires begin to burn away his skin, searing pain courses through his body. All hope drains away, the pain is unbearable, he wishes for death.
The inferno implodes, leaving the stallion floating in darkness. He is burned and charred, a vision of horror. He looks down, he is over a vast metropolis, great tower rose into the heavens. He looks up, a massive wall of cloud, perpetual in its sentinel over the city. New Canterlot, the stallion recognizes, his home.
To the far north, flashes of gunfire, the roar of cannons even now reaching his ears. On the westward horizon, fires burn, casting shadows upon the city. Wherever the shadows touched, new fires burst into life, creating more shadows and flames. The city is quickly consumed by the unrelenting force.
The heat of the fires push him upwards, through the clouds, onto the very shore of the sea of stars. The world turns slowly below him. Underneath him is the country of Dareahoe, to the east lays the land of Equestria. A colossal figure, coat whiter then the purest light, stands victorious over the burnt landscape. Her mane fills the sky, her wings beat heavily, creating blustering winds, driving the fires forward. The titan's gaze falls on the stallion; he is but an insect before her. She blinks.
He now looks over a lake, an island rising in its center. A fortress of diamond; walls towering over the landscape. Through the crystal walls, a figure moves, distorted and warped. The lake begins to boil and steam. With a start, the stallion realizes the water is filled with different races of creatures. Ponies, griffons, dragons, diamond dogs, all screaming in the boiling water. A small foal struggles near the lakes edge. The stallion reaches out, hoping to pull in the foal. As their hooves touch, the lake turns to flame. The foal is gone, turned to ash in the blink of an eye.
A rumbling alerts the stallion. He looks at the diamond castle, just as it crumbles into dust. A figure stands in the ruble, indistinct through the heat of the flames. The figure beckons to the stallion, but the stallion is afraid. He will perish before he reaches the island, but the figure calls to him still. The stallion knows he cannot make the journey. He turns away from the burning lake.
He is in a field of ash, surrounded by ponies. He recognizes them. Friends, loved ones, they are the ones he cares for most. They look to him, fear in their eyes. One by one, they burn. They do not cry or scream, they only look to him to save them. He sits helplessly by as each pony he loves turns to cinders. He screams, broken in mind and soul.
Rev awoke in a cold sweat, his breathing rapid. Looking at the bedside clock, he saw it was almost morning. Gently, he got out of bed, careful not to wake the mare sleeping next to him. Looking down on Charity, he bends forward and softly kissed her forehead before walking out the room.
Rev made his way towards the garden, knowing he would find the large black stallion. Crimson Thunder sat quietly under a large oak tree, looking towards the east.
Rev walked up to the large stallion and sat down. Crimson was one of Rev's oldest friends. The two had met at an early age and had become close over the years. In truth, they saw themselves not as friends, but as brothers. They understood one another, both their strengths and weaknesses.
“Bad dreams?” Crimson asked, his deep voice breaking the silence.
Rev nodded. “Very. Though... I believe it was more than a simple nightmare. I know this will sound crazy, but I think... I think I had a vision.”
Crimson continued to stare towards the horizon, allowing his friend to continue, uninterrupted.
“I don't know what or when, but something bad is going to happen and I believe that when it does, I need to be at the Shining Isle.”
“You're sure of this?” the larger pony asked.
“No, but my heart is,” Rev replied with conviction.
The two stallions remained quiet, content to watch the sunrise in the peace of early morning.
After the sun crested over the landscape, bringing in the promise of a new day, the stallions stood.
“Come on,” Rev said walking back towards the house. “Let's get some breakfast.”
They trotted back inside, but were interrupted from their destination, a scream of terror coming from Cross's room. The stallions rushed towards it, Rev throwing the door open.
The preacher looked about, shouting, “Cross!” As he registered the scene before him, he visibly relaxed. “Good morning Flicker.”
“Oh hi Mr. Glory.” A pink unicorn, with a disheveled lilac mane greeted the gray pony cheerfully. The stallions watched as the mare shifted her position, teleporting an inch to the left.
Behind Flicker, Cross lay half uncovered in his bed, a look of annoyance across his face. “Flicker why do you do that?”
“Do what?” she asked innocently.
“Stare at me in my sleep. It's disturbing waking up to your visage hovering above me, please stop.”
“Anything for you Cross.” She sighed fondly.
“Please go home,” Cross said tersely.
“No can do.” The mare turned away from the cyberpegasus, towards Rev and Crimson. “I just lost my job and my landlord kicked me out.” She got on her knees and teleported forward, stopping just in front of Rev. Looking up with large dewy eyes, she clasped her front hooves together. “Can I stay here for (...)* a while? I can share Faith's room (...) she won't mind.”
Rev looked at the pleading unicorn. She was not a problem he wished to deal with now. To Rev's vexation, the mare was friends with Faith, and what he considered a bad influence on the bionic mare. Her teleporting also slightly perturbed the preacher. She was a magical anomaly, her ability to teleport repeatedly and for seemingly unlimited distances completely clashed with the magical displacement theorem. It could become disquieting to watch Flicker, her constant teleporting could play tricks on a pony's eyes. Her cutie mark depicted an unfurled map. Rev had once heard the mare boast that she could teleport anywhere in the world, just so long as she had already been there once, seeing as how the she had never left the borders of Dareahoe, the stallion wasn't fully convinced. As Rev mulled over the mare's request, he knew he wouldn't turn her away, he couldn't.
He sighed in resignation. “Fine.”
Flicker popped up, a wide smile across her face. “Thank you so much! I'll go tell Faith right now.” In a flash the unicorn was gone. After several seconds of waiting, two girlish squeals filled the house.
Crimson and Cross both gave Rev long, dagger filled glares.
“You want to travel with us?” Archangel asked incredulously. “Up to Diamora? Why in God's name do you want to do that?”
The now large group sat around a modest dining table, an assortment of breakfast foods littered before them.
“I need to go to the Shining Isle, that's just on the other side of Diamora.”
'Dangerous territory,' Lachrymose spelled. 'Best avoided.'
“I agree,” Charity said with concern. “It's not safe. Those Gem Stone ponies are violent and barbaric, and no offense to our own diamond dog friend,” she said glancing towards Archangel, “but Diamora isn't a very friendly place either.”
“She's right,” Archangel agreed. “The diamond dogs don't take kindly to ponies.”
“That's just it,” Rev reasoned. “If I'm going to do this, I can't think off a better time. Traveling with Archangel, Lachrymose, and Shimmer will offer a degree of protection, much more than if I went alone.”
“Why?” Charity asked uncomprehending. “Why do you want to do this?”
“What's going on, you've never wanted to go before?” Cross asked.
'Well, no time like the present,' Rev thought. “I believe God gave me a vision telling me to go.”
The room was silent.
“Care to run that buy me again?” Solace said skeptically.
“I don't care if you believe me, but I'm going to do this,” Rev replied firmly.
The old stallion dramatically faced Charity. “Whenever you collect on the life insurance, be sure to buy me something nice.”
“Oh me too,” Flicker added cheerfully.
“I'm not sure if that's a good idea,” Shimmer said, not wanting the unicorn to burden them, but to her chagrin, Archangel spoke.
“Reverend,” Archangel said. “I would be honored if you accompanied us.” Her helmeted head turned towards the orange mare. “Don't worry, we'll keep him safe.”
“Oh I'm not going to worry,” Charity said standing up. “Because I'm going with you.”
“No,” Rev said shaking his head. “You'll be safer here.”
“You'll need a good pair of wings with you,” Cross mumbled around a mouthful of toast.
“If all of you are going, then I'm going,” Faith said. “Flicker's coming too.”
“I am?” Flicker asked surprised.
“Do you have anything better to do?”
“Not really,” The pink pony replied slowly before brightening. “And I have always (...) wanted to travel.”
Crimson nodded his head towards Rev, his eyes brokering no argument.
“Well I'm not goin',” Solace huffed.
“Nopony's going,” Rev futilely asserted.
“I'll start packing,” Charity called trotting towards the bedrooms.
Rev sat stunned, unsure of what to feel. In his dream, he watched his family perish. But what he didn't know, was what conflicted him. Did he lead them to their fate, or did he seal it by leaving them behind.
Lurking above the church, resting on a small cloud, a tan pegasus adjusted her goggles. Raising a hoof, she lightly tapped above her right ear, activating a small electronic implant. Her azure and gold mane blew gently in the breeze.
“I've located the targets, small church two miles out on Winter Green. Six to seven civilians, probable aiding and abetting of wanted criminals.”
She tapped next to her ear again. Stretching her wings, she took a deep breath. Taking to the air, she began to fly slowly in a large circle. She swiftly increased her speed, circling tighter. Wind began to swirl within her radius. Faster and faster she flew, air quickly increasing in its rotation. As she began to blur, the howling vortex roared to life.
To be continued in Chapter 4 – Tempest
* Flicker constantly teleports, even while talking. This symbol (…) means that she teleported in mid sentence.
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Assisted by Chameleon
Chapter 4 – Tempest
Peaking cautiously over upturned equipment, ponies in white lab coats began to converse rapidly. In the darkened room, the soft, gold, pulsing orb rested on the floor, sitting in the epicenter of the wreckage of their latest experiment.
“This could revolutionize industry.”
“Imagine the possibilities.”
“Oh my God! Beaker! Are you okay?”
A green mare rushed to where a scrawny unicorn stallion lay on his back, moaning softly. A small, jagged piece of shrapnel stuck out of his chest, a trickle of blood running down his side. The mare looked at the wound, biting her lip, unsure of what to do.
As the mare fretted over the groaning stallion, she felt a pony place a hoof on her flank and gently push her aside. Relieved somepony else had come to help, she stepped away, but to her dismay the pony walked past the hurting stallion and towards the center of the wreckage.
“Wait!” the mare called to the stallion. “Beaker's hurt. He needs help.”
The stallion turned, his yellow coat and orange mane eerily silhouetted by the glowing orb behind him. A look of irritation crossed his face.
“Minor laceration, shallow incision, no major organs, minimal blood loss,” the stallion said dismissively. “Just pull it out; it's not rocket science... that's three floors up.”
Turning his back on the two ponies, he carefully stepped around a piece of scrap metal. The earth pony approached the orb, his orange wavy mane in a state of disarray. On his flanks, where his cutie mark should be, he only bore a large circular white patch. A name tag attached to his lab coat read, 'Dr. Callous.' The golden light glinted against his glasses.
Gingerly, Callous picked up the crystal sphere. After inspecting it from several angles, discerning that the crystal had not been damaged, he motioned towards the closest pony, still cowering behind an overturned cart. The pony hesitantly left his shelter, quickly grabbing a metal tray before trotting up to the yellow stallion.
With a clink, Callous placed the Heart onto the waiting tray. As the pony scampered away, the room fell into darkness before several unicorns flared their horns to restore a measure of light to the damaged lab.
A loud clattering sounded from outside the room. Bursting through a set of double doors, a green pegasus mare led a group of heavily armed ponies. She flicked her head about, whipping her blue, violet mane.
“What the hell happened?” the pegasus demanded, her voice thunderous.
Callous turned, revealing his grinning face. The mare glared upon seeing the stallion.
“You,” she spat. “Why do I always find you in the center of my problems?”
“Why Aural, I'm sure I don't know what you mean,” He replied, cantering up to the pegasus.
Snorting, Aural Boom stamped her hoof, causing a resounding crack to echo about the room. “Cut the crap. Unlike you, I don't have time to waste.” The stallion's smile failed to falter, only serving to increase the mare's annoyance.
“Progress happened,” Callous said waving a hoof, indicating the mess the lab had become. “I have come to the conclusion that we now have the capabilities to proceed with project Ironclad.”
Aural scowled at the projects mention. Anypony who was privileged enough to know of the project, also knew that not everypony supported it. Aural fell into the latter group, and was one of the loudest and most prominent voices against the undertaking.
“Oh yes,” the yellow pony said, his smile widening. “I knew you'd be happy to hear the good news.”
The other scientist ponies had, in the interest of their own self preservation, ventured to stay as far away from the pair as ponily possible.
“And that's not all,” Callous continued cheerfully. “We've also identified the Heart's composition. Turns out it's made of Magilor. Now an unlearned pony, such as yourself, probably has never heard of Magilor, but to put it simply, it is an extremely rare mineral. So rare, that there are no known samples left anywhere in the civilized world. Many ponies believe it's actually only a legend.”
“Skip to the point,” Aural Boom said tersely, her voice deafening in level.
“The point is, while we don't have any, I know who does.” His eyes almost sparkled. “The power we can generate from just that one piece is incredible. Imagine what wonders we could accomplish with an amassed supply.”
The mare stepped forward, standing snout to snout with the grinning doctor. “This grand scheme of yours is nothing more than a waste of time and resources. Your machine won't win this war, ponies will, but a pony like you wouldn't understand that.”
The armed ponies behind Aural parted, allowing her to trot back out the lab. Callous’ gaze drifted to her cutie mark. He grinned mischievously. The unpleasantly loud pegasus claimed her cutie mark symbolized a megaphone, but he believed it looked more akin to a dunce cap. His jaw still hurt from when he had told her as much.
“Everything becomes obsolete eventually,” Callous called with a smirk. “Even you.”
Flicker lay on her side, resting comfortable on the night sky, or at least a bed spread that depicted the night sky. The room was, in one word, covered. Every available space had been taken up, whether it was posters of various music groups and movies on the walls, or the shelves bearing armies of random odds and ends. The pink unicorn watched as Faith zipped about, filling a pair of saddlebags with what the cyberpony deemed “essentials.”
Faith inspected a highly stylized bottle, emblazoned with the smiling face of a partially cybernetic stallion; his metallic mane almost glowing, the word 'Luster' embossed beneath him. She shook it, listening to the liquid swishing inside. Satisfied, she placed it into her saddlebag.
“I think that's everything,” Faith said, doing a final scan of the room.
A dull roar began to build, unnoticed by the two mares.
“What about this?” Flicker asked, indicating a tube of brightly colored lipstick.
“I don't use that unless I want to look really sexy. So, I guess I won't really need it,” Faith said.
“What if we find some really (…) attractive single foreign ponies? Then there you'd be (…) flat out of luck. I'm just one mare, Faith (...) I can't handle all the stallions by myself.”
Faith pondered Flickers point. With a shrug she snatched the tube from the pink pony and placed it in her bag.
“What's that noise?” Faith asked, finally taking notice of the growing sound.
Flicker cocked her ear. “Sounds like it's coming from outside,” she said before teleporting away. Faith tapped her hoof, waiting for her friend to return.
Flicker reappeared behind Faith, her mane windswept, even more so than usual. She had gone slightly pale. “There's a tornado (…) forming around your house.” Her voice was forcibly calm.
“What!?” Faith exclaimed.
Solace sat in his favorite chair. Just the right amount of cushions, a hot cup of coffee, and a warm blanket draped over his body. The living room was void of ponies, save for the old stallion. He sipped his coffee.
A large television seemingly occupied his attention. Watching the morning news program, he only half way listened. His thoughts were wandering elsewhere.
'Visions from God, pah, visions from indigestion, far more likely. In all my years serving as a pastor, I never got any grand ideas of being called. Some ponies just want to be more special than they are, not me, I know my place.' Solace thought bitterly. 'Gonna take my daughter and grandkids on some wild goose chase. Somepony's gonna get hurt. Then they'll come back and...'
His train of thought was interrupted as a blob of pink suddenly appeared only inches in front of him. Jerking back, the elderly stallion splashed his face with coffee. His mustache drooped, soggy and wet.
“Whoops,” Flicker said with a chuckle. “I hope that wasn't too hot.”
Solace's eye twitched. “It was very hot.”
“Oh... well... Charity told me to come get you.”
“Why, by God's guiding hoof, does she need me?” Solace asked gruffly.
“Cause you’re the only pony not outside.”
“And why is everypony outside?” It was then that Solace realized a dull roaring sound filled the air. He had been so deep in thought, that he had completely tuned it out. “And what's that incessant racket?”
“That's why (...) everypony's outside.”
Stepping into the backyard, Solace's jaw dropped. The entire household had gathered in the small garden, but that wasn't what surprised the stallion: it was the giant wall of swirling wind. The entire house and neighboring church had been surrounded by a massive funnel. Looking up, a small patch of blue sky could be seen far above at the end of the foreboding tunnel. The ponies stood within the eye of the storm, wind gusting about them.
“What's going on?” Solace called over the roaring wind.
“U.S.U.R.P.'s found us,” Archangel called back.
Rev approached the diamond dog, his red tie blowing violently in the wind. “Why all this? Why the overkill?”
'Tempest.' Lachrymose magicked.
“Oh no,” Shimmer moaned, out of sight.
Archangel nodded. “Tempest is hot headed, arrogant, and prone to shock and awe. She is an ace flier and not a pony to be crossed lightly.”
“You sound like you know her,” Cross shouted over the din, his eyes searching for the pegasus somewhere within the whirling gale.
“Unfortunately, I do,” Archangel admitted. “I met her back before she was a part of U.S.U.R.P. She's unstable and prone to holding a grudge.”
“We're trapped in here,” Shimmer said.
“So what do we do now?” Faith asked, the fear in her voice evident. “Are they going to come and arrest us?”
“No, they made it pretty clear they don't want us alive,” Archangel said, thinking of the bullet holes that still riddled her armor.
Charity's voice rang out, on the verge of panic, “It's getting closer!”
Wind tearing through her mane, Tempest circled the church. Her senses were useless. The only sound was the monstrous screaming of the storm. The only sight that met her vision was of the swirling walls. This was her nirvana. She could lose herself in the winds if she failed to concentrate.
Now was the hard part. Creating the storm was easy; controlling it took much more skill. Most pegasi were unable to handle the type of storms that Tempest could summon, but then again, most pegasi wouldn't want to.
She relished the dual feelings of commanding the storm, the rush of power, of showing her dominance over nature's might, and the fear of death, for a stray piece of debris could easily tear through her body, killing her instantly, or the winds could overtake her, knocking her to her death. It was a thin line between feeling like a god and finding out how mortal one really was.
She began to slowly tighten her flight path, thinning the vortex. The storm walls began to inch closer towards the two buildings. Trees and plants were ripped from the ground, unable to withstand the encroaching winds.
“Do you have a basement?” Shimmer shouted.
“No!” Rev shouted back.
The group had run back indoors, retreating from the approaching storm.
“Can't Archangel dig us a tunnel out or something?” Faith said alarmed.
“I'm a diamond dog, not a magician! I can't dig that fast!”
Flicker pranced nervously in place. “You know what (...) I think I do have plans after all (…) so I'll just be going.”
Nine pairs of eyes focused on the pink unicorn.
“What?” Flicker asked, innocently.
“Flicker honey,” Charity said walking up to the mare. “How about you teleport us out of here? That would be really helpful.”
The unicorn blew her lips. “Yeah, about that (...) I don't really do group teleports.”
“Why not?” Cross said disbelievingly. “Isn't that your special talent?”
“Well (...) it's sort of a long story.” Flicker replied.
Rev glanced outside. The wall was getting uncomfortably close, and showed no signs of stopping. “We don't have time for this. Lachrymose, do you know a teleportation spell?”
“I do.” Lachrymose summoned.
“Okay, we'll go in pairs. It'll require less energy that way.” Rev stated as he stood next to Crimson. “Flicker, take Faith, then come back for Solace.” When the pink unicorn went to protest, she was silenced with a look. The gray stallion then nodded towards Lachrymose, who nodded in response, already knowing what she would need to do.
“I can take two.” Lachrymose asserted.
“Our destination is to just get on the other side, far enough to be outside the tornado.” Rev said pointing in the desired direction.
The three unicorns flared their horns, teleporting away; Lachrymose taking Archangel and Charity, Flicker taking Faith, and Rev taking Crimson. Shimmer, Cross, and Solace were left within the house.
After a few seconds of waiting, Flicker returned. Solace, started to make a snarky remark, but upon glancing outside, and seeing the enclosing danger, he thought better of it. Cross and Shimmer watched as the two ponies blinked away.
Cross fidgeted nervously as time passed. He kept his mechanical wings tucked close to his body. The room began to shake. The stallion flinched as a picture frame fell to the floor, shattering. Plates in the kitchen cabinets rattled about. The entire house began to groan and creak. The howling winds had increased to deafening levels.
“What's taking them so long?” Shimmer shouted at Cross.
The stallion shook he head. “I don't know!”
Under her field of invisibility, the mare's pupils shrunk. “You don't think they're leaving us, do you?”
“No!” Cross said disbelievingly. “Of course not.”
“Then why haven't they come back yet?”
A window pane exploded inwards, a large rock crashing through the glass. The two ponies looked back, and with horror realized they had run out of time.
Rev reappeared outside, Crimson beside him. Flicker and Faith stood several yards away, while Lachrymose, Charity, and Archangel were in another group, another several yards away. Flicker flashed away, going back into the house.
As Rev prepared his teleportation spell, a voice called out.
“Move now, get them!” A group of ponies rushed around them.
“Don't resist,” a large navy blue stallion commanded. He, like the other ponies, wore a blue and purple jacket. On his head he wore a large hat. It had two brims, one that curved upwards, almost like a horn and one that curved downwards, over the back of his neck.
Archangel lunged at the attackers, claws and fangs bared. Rev galloped towards Charity. He was knocked onto the ground as a pegasus roughly tackled him. He saw Charity try to run, but another pony was quickly upon her. Rev lashed out at his attacker, using his magic to push the pegasus away. A sharp syringe landed on the ground, but Rev didn't have time to wonder about it.
Charity lay in the grass, her body still. A stallion stood over her, an empty syringe in his mouth. Rev charged towards him, but was again intercepted. This time a unicorn mare stepped into his path, her horn aglow. The gray stallion stopped, when he noticed a pistol floating beside the mare.
“Do you want to be a captive or casualty? Stop now or I won't hesitate to make you the latter,” The mare said over the roar of the storm, her long pink mane flowing in the gale.
If he was quick enough, he might be able to knock the gun out of her telekinetic grip with his magic, but if he was overestimating himself, he wouldn't live long enough to regret it. As Rev prepared to make his move, Crimson blindsided the mare. The large stallion hit her with enough force to send her several yards into the air.
Three empty syringes stuck out of the black stallion's back and side. His breathing was heavy and sluggish. The mare's gun discharged. Crimson landed heavily on the ground, blood leaking out of the bullet wound in his left foreleg. He struggled to rise, but a wave of weariness over swept him. Try as he might, unconsciousness won out.
Her claws tore through flesh and bone. Three ponies lay bloody and lifeless behind her. Archangel much preferred the use of her rifle, but when things got physical, she was just as deadly. A pegasus dove towards her, hooves outstretched. Archangel's paw shot up to meet the pony. The pegasus impaled himself on her upraised claw, his blood raining down on the diamond dog. While her attention had been on the attack from above, her guard had dropped from attacks from the ground. A pony landed on her back, jamming a needle into her neck. Archangel was injected before she could buck the pony off.
She reached back and grasped the pony by his mane. With a grunt she hurled him up and over her head, then down onto the ground. With one quick swipe the pony was left bleeding through the fresh slash in his neck.
Archangel stumbled, her vision blurring. Her limbs felt heavy, her muscles tired. She fell forward, the earth rushing to meet her. The dying pony gurgled next to her. Archangel could make out her black clad friend, Lachrymose, fighting her own battle.
In front of the unicorn, five ponies pressed forward. Lachrymose was powerful, the diamond dog knew that. She could probably handle her attackers with relative ease, but there were others about, and then she would still have to deal with Tempest, along with the rest of U.S.U.R.P, since they were doubtlessly on their way. One unicorn wouldn't be able to stand against so many.
“Lachrymose!” Archangel called with her last reserve of strength. “Run!”
Flicker popped back into existence, an unhappy Solace in tow. Before either pony had oriented themselves, ponies were upon them. Flicker saw something metallic coming towards her. She instinctively teleported out-of-the-way.
“Hold still,” A green stallion growled. He held a syringe in his mouth.
Flicker took in her surroundings. Faith and Solace hadn't been as lucky, they had both been injected with the unknown substance. While the other two ponies had been easily overtaken, Flicker was going to be a harder matter. She briefly entertained the idea of just escaping, but she couldn't leave her friend behind.
The stallion swung the needle towards her. She shifted, causing the stallion to over swing, the needle slipping out of his grip. Before he could pick it up, Flicker appeared before him. The pink pony struck her hoof against his face, causing him to backpedal. She teleported around him, disorienting the stallion, throwing a punch where she felt he wouldn't be able to strike back. The stallion blindly reached into his jacket, grasping another syringe. Instead of aiming for where the unicorn was, he watched as she continued to circle him. While she seemed to be sporadic, her teleporting was following a pattern. He swung the needle out into open air, and grinned wickedly when the pink pony teleported into it. Flicker stopped, shocked. Before she could recover, he injected her with the solution.
The stallion glanced over to where Faith and Solace lay, unmoving. With a shove, he pushed Flicker backwards, sending her sprawling onto the ground next to the other ponies.
One of the stallions approached the smug looking pony, “Took you long enough to tranq her, Leaf.”
Leaf waved the syringe in the air, “Say what you want, but I'd like to see you do any better with a teleporter.”
Upon looking at the syringe, the other stallion quickly turned towards Flicker. She convulsed on the ground, her muscles jerking violently. An intense look of pain crossed her face as her horn began to glow. “You idiot! That's not tranquilizer, it's Surge!”
The stallion turned and ran, his companions quickly following suit.
A high pitched, pain filled scream tore through the battlefield, over the chaos of fighting and the rumbling of the tornado. Bright, blinding light followed the wail.
Rev blinked, trying to regain his vision. As the world came back into focus, it dropped out from under him. Where he had last seen Flicker, Faith, and Solace, now only a large hole remained. Nothing of the three ponies had been left. Rev stood, dumbfounded, his heart refusing to believe that his daughter could have just simply vaporized.
A mask arose before him. In his shocked state, it took him a few seconds to recognized Lachrymose. Her mask had saved her from the blinding light, and she had used the distraction to reach the only still standing member of their group.
With a flash, Lachrymose and the stunned stallion teleported away, their friends and plans abandoned.
The buildings disintegrated under her power. Satisfied that there was nothing left, Tempest gradually slowed the swirling vortex allowing the destructive storm to turn back into nothingness. She was in high spirits; she always was after riding the winds.
The pegasus surveyed her hoofiwork, looking for any signs of the bodies of her targets. What she saw was very unexpected. There were bodies, but they were definitely not her targets.
Landing, she inspected the scene. Five dead and very bloodied ponies, none of which were from the church. These ponies wore purple and blue clothing. Jackets to be precise... army jackets... Steederan army jackets.
“Tempest, we're almost at your location,” a voice said, coming over her implant.
Her good mood shattered instantly. She raised a hoof and pressed in front of her ear. “We have a problem.”
To be continued in Chapter 5 – After Storms, Come Rainbows
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Assisted by Chameleon
Chapter 5 – After Storms, Come Rainbows
Rainbow Dash used her muzzle to turn the page of her book. While it wasn't as good as the Daring Do series, it was still enjoyable and helped her pass the time. But today she just couldn't get into the story. Bookmarking her place, she shut the book and placed it on her bedside table. Carefully getting out of bed, she trotted through her cloud home and made her way outside.
Rainbow lifted her wings slowly, revealing the layers of bandages wrapped around her midsection. After a few stretches, she began to gallop toward the edge of her cloud home and, with a graceful leap, launched herself over the edge. Gliding to the ground, she winced slightly upon landing. While she could still fly, her wound limited her to short flights to and from her home. The pegasus was extremely uncomfortable being grounded, but she did enjoy being able to miss her weather job.
Trotting down the earthen path towards town, Rainbow Dash was stopped by a pegasus in golden royal armor. The stallion approached the cyan pegasus, his expression impassive.
“Rainbow Dash?” His question was more confirming fact than of actual query.
“Who wants to know?” the blue pegasus asked in reply.
“You along with the other five Elements of Harmony are to be taken to the castle immediately,” he stated simply. He turned away from the pegasus. “Please follow me.”
Seeing as how this was a royal guard, the cyan colored mare guessed this must have something to do with the princess. Rainbow Dash briefly wondered why Celestia would need her and her friends, and why she had sent guards to retrieve them instead of just sending a letter to Spike like usual. She shrugged; no use in wondering when she could just get the answers when she got there. Trotting ahead of the stallion, she called back over her shoulder.
“Thanks, but if you don't mind, I don't need a babysitter. I can find the way on my own.”
Rainbow ran ahead, but upon looking back, she saw the guard was keeping pace with her.
“Think you can keep up?” Rainbow asked cockily. “Just don't slow me down.”
She put on some speed, wanting to give the guard a run for his money, but the exertion caused a pang of pain in her side. She inhaled sharply at the ache. Being distracted by her side, the blue pegasus tripped over her own hooves, and fell face first onto the ground. Rainbow Dash sat up, spitting dirt and running her hooves over her tongue.
The royal guard cantered up to the sputtering pegasus. Looking at the stallion's still deadpan face, Rainbow swore it was impassive in a smug way.
A short jaunt later, Rainbow Dash found herself at the local train station. A train rested on the tracks, with a few ponies already in the process of boarding. Rainbow immediately recognized two of the ponies. Pinkie Pie bounced around a brown pony, decked in royal armor, while Fluttershy timidly trailed behind a similarly outfitted stallion.
“Hi Dashie!” Pinkie called as the cyan pegasus approached.
“Sup Pinkie?” Dash replied. “Do you know what the hay is going on?”
“Nope, these grumpy wumpy guards are no fun. They won't tell me anything, even after I offered to throw them a party,” The pink mare said gloomily.
“Please proceed; your friends are already on board,” The guard standing in front of Fluttershy said levelly.
Rainbow flicked her tail in annoyance, but followed as the other ponies proceeded to board the train.
The whistle blew, cutting through the air. With a puff of smoke, the train slowly crawled out of the station. The engine quickly began to build up speed, barreling through the Equestrian countryside, making its way towards the capitol city.
The six friends walked slowly through Canterlot castle's grand halls, escorted by royal guards. Tapestries and gilded furnishings filled the castle's corridors. A large, ornate door came before them. As the ponies approached, the door swung inwards, revealing a large room.
“Only Ms. Sparkle is allowed entrance.” A guard motioned for Twilight to continue. After Twilight passed through, the doors closed with an audible thump.
The room was lavish in its design. Pillars and stained glass windows lined the walls, banners hung from the high ceiling, and a large golden throne rose above the surroundings. Rare flowers and flowing fountains were set before it. Two stallions stood at attention, prepared to give their lives to guard their princess.
The princess of the sun sat on the gilded throne, her magnificence and majesty demanding attention away from the extravagance of the room. If the castle was akin to a country’s crown, then Celestia was the shining jewel in its center.
Twilight bowed before the monarch.
“Rise,” the white alicorn commanded. “Guards, leave us.”
Twilight approached Celestia as the two stallions trotted away. “Princess, is something wrong?”
Celestia smiled kindly. “Yes, my little pony, but you will help to make it right.”
Twilight looked upon her mentor. The whole situation felt odd, and the air about the princess also worried the unicorn.
“Luna?” Celestia called.
The princess of the night slowly cantered into the throne room.
“Ah, Twilight Sparkle, it is good to see you again,” Luna said, greeting the unicorn.
“It's good to see you too, Princess,” Twilight replied.
“I have summoned you and your friends to accompany my sister on a mission of friendship,” Celestia began. “Equestria has lived in isolation for far too long. You will travel to the capitol city of the Gem Stones, the Shining Isle. There, Luna will sign an accord between our countries. As you and your friends embody the Elements of Harmony, you will help to enforce our earnestness and sincerity in this affair.”
“This is wonderful news, your highness!” Twilight said excitedly. “I would be honored to help spread the joys of friendship!”
“I'm glad you're enthusiastic about your task,” Celestia said. “They are equally as eager for our alliance. They're ambassador has only just arrived last night. He has graciously provided an escort to guide you through their country.”
“If you don't mind me asking, Princess, why didn't you just send a letter to Spike to summon us?” Twilight queried casually.
For a split second, Celestia stared at the unicorn blankly, but quickly regained herself. “Are you questioning your princess's decisions, Twilight Sparkle?”
Twilight's ears drooped. “No, your majesty! It just seemed a little odd that....”
“Luna,” Celestia said, cutting the purple unicorn off. “Will you take Twilight and her friends to prepare for your departure?”
“Yes, dear sister,” Luna replied. “Come, Twilight Sparkle, let us make ready for our journey.”
As the alicorn and unicorn began to leave, Celestia called to them. “Twilight, I have a letter I would like you to personally deliver to their ruler.” Celestia floated a scroll, bound and stamped with a wax seal, to the lavender unicorn.
After Luna and Twilight had left the throne room, Horizon smiled. His machinations were falling into place. Not a single pony had yet to become suspicious of him, except maybe the purple unicorn, but if anything, she would just assume the regal monarch was having a taxing ordeal after the attack on the castle the week prior. He had tried to learn all he could about the bearers of the Elements of Harmony before he summoned them, but the fact that Celestia had communicated with her student via dragon fire had somehow been overlooked in his research.
The shell of Celestia stood upon the regal throne, Horizon’s soul now the master of the ancient mare's body. He walked over to a stained glass window, and looked upon its depiction of the stars and planets.
“You believe you will be my agents of peace, sowing the seeds of friendship, but only when it is too late will you realize that what you reap is your own damnation.”
“This will be our escort.” Luna said stepping into the royal gardens, followed by the six Elements of Harmony.
“Oooh oooh, a dragon!”
Sitting near a small pool, a large dragoness looked down on a pegasus stallion. Her scales glittered a deep sapphire and her spines a resplendent emerald. A massive hammer lay near the stallion, who was currently busy berating the much larger beast.
“Don't eat any more animals! We're in somepony else's private garden. The animals here are like pets, and you don't eat pets!”
The stallion remained with his back to the ponies, oblivious to their approach. His coat was a light reddish color; his purple mane and tail were kept in a long braid. Around his midsection he wore a simple harness. On the tip of each of his wings, a metal hook extended. His flank bore the image of a large hammer. A loose fitting necklace hung around his neck, the bauble of which was a crystal representation of his cutie mark. On the dragoness's chest, a similar outline had been carved.
“Salutations, good sir,” Princess Luna greeted, getting the stallion's attention.
He turned about quickly. “Hello to you as well. Princess Luna, I presume?” The princess nodded. “And you ponies must be those Elements Stone Flower was talking about. Well, it's nice to meet you.” He said, smiling at the group. “I'm Maul, and she's Banshee.”
Twilight stepped forward. “I'm Twilight Sparkle, and I look forward to learning about your culture.”
“I'd be glad to tell you anything you'd like to know,” the stallion replied.
“Actually,” Twilight said. “I was curious about your relationship with Banshee.”
“I am a Draconian Slayer,” Maul boasted proudly. “Our order has been fighting the dragons for centuries. I myself have singlehoofedly killed seventeen dragons and helped to pacify eight others.”
“What about your dragon friend?” Fluttershy asked, horrified.
“You could call her my pet if you want. She's not like wild dragons. I found her when she was just a hatchling. Once her mind was Severed, I started training her, and she's been with me ever since.”
“Why in tarnation do you go around killing and kidnapping dragons?” Applejack demanded, sickened. Her response summed up the other’s feelings.
“You are a monster,” Rarity said, turning her nose up at the pegasus.
“That’s totally not cool,” Rainbow Dash added.
“Dragons are vile and wicked creatures that deserve to be eradicated or converted. The Draconian Slayers are making the world a better place with each dragon we conquer.” Maul accentuated the statement with a stamp of his hoof.
Twilight blanched at the thought of what would happen if this stallion ever came to Ponyville, if he ever met Spike. She shook her head, banishing the dark thoughts.
“We think it would be best if we were to leave,” Luna said stepping in between the mares and the stallion.
Twilight turned to her friends. “The princess is right. We're going to leave tomorrow morning, so we should go get prepared.”
“Yes,” Rarity said. “Let's find some more... civilized company.”
“Mark my words, you'll be begging me to save you soon enough.” With a huff, Maul lifted the large hammer off the ground and slid it into the holster across his back. Climbing onto Banshee's back, he unfurled his wings. Stretching them out, he latched the hooks on their tips to two metal rings that had been screwed into the dragoness’s back. “Fly!”
In a gust of wind, Banshee and Maul took to the air, the back blast pushing against the seven ponies, almost knocking them over.
“My mane!” Rarity wailed.
Tempest sat within the wreckage of the building in a single recliner that had miraculously survived mostly intact, and waited. She nibbled at a piece of cheese she had found within the mangle remains of the refrigerator.
“What happened?!” an angry voice called from behind the pegasus, causing her to temporarily choke on the scavenged cheese.
Tempest quickly regained her composure and stood from the chair. Turning around, she saluted a grave looking sky blue pegasus.
“Sonic Echo, sir!”
His mane was pure white and his flank bore a two double ended lightning bolts. His left eye was a deep blue, while his right eye was a milky white. The front of his mane had been shaved down short, while the back had been left to grow out. Several other ponies trotted behind the stallion.
Sonic Echo looked at the tan pegasus, his displeasure plain to see.
“The targets escaped, sir, and I believe the Steederans helped them,” Tempest stated.
“And how did everything get destroyed? Did the Steederans do that too?” The stallion asked tersely.
“No, sir. Our orders were to eliminate the traitors, so-”
“So instead of waiting for backup, you went and ruined everything,” Sonic Echo spat. “Including endangering Dareahoean citizens.”
“But they were aiding traitors,” Tempest said defensively.
The stallion stepped forward, his wings flaring. “You were not authorized to attack civilians! I could have you court marshaled for this.” He stomped his hoof, snapping a fallen plank of wood. “We've got bigger problems than your incompetence. The Steederans have never struck this far into Dareahoe. They are growing bolder and now have possession of ponies considered the highest threat level to our country.”
Sonic Echo turned to the ponies behind him. “Return to base. I think it's about time we fast track our secret weapon.”
A deafening roar, everything shaking violently, overwhelming fear, a pair of wings surrounding her, an explosion of gold, then darkness.
Shimmer awoke with a start, her eyes flying open. A steadying hoof quickly placed itself on her shoulder. As Shimmer looked up, Lachrymose's masked face looked down on her.
Lachrymose summoned ghostly letters. “Easy.”
Looking about, Shimmer began to take in her surroundings. She lay in a sparsely wooded area. A small pond gurgled nearby, its waters rippling in the breeze. The grove grew at the bottom of a small grassy hill. Sitting next to the pond, Cross placidly watched the water. His left wing looked badly damaged, while his right wing had been completely destroyed. A pile of scrap metal resting next to him attested to the fact.
“What happened?” Shimmer asked, standing up shakily.
“My last resort,” Cross replied, still staring at the pond sparkling in the sun. “A fail-safe I created. All ponies have magic, not just unicorns. That's how my wings work; they tap into my inherent earth pony magic and transform it into a different form of power, thus allowing me the abilities of flight and cloud control.” His tone was sad, but also held a shade of anger. “I had been working on ways to transmute it into other types of magic, one of which was teleportation. We're lucky to still be alive. All I could do was point and fire. If my wings hadn't failed, we would have continued until the spell sucked all our essence away, leaving nothing but two piles of dust. Or we could have ended up materializing with a tree spearing through us.”
Cross lashed a hoof into the pool, splashing water outwards. He turned to the pile of scrap metal and lifted a piece of shattered electronics. “It wasn't ready to handle that kind of strain! I had almost cracked it; I could have changed the bionic world! But now, I can't just reboot this.” He threw the broken piece of wing. “My work gone!” Cross shook his head sadly. “It's just not fair.” He went back to staring listlessly at the ripples.
Shimmer turned to Lachrymose. “Where is everypony else?” A muffled sound grabbed her attention. Looking past the black unicorn, Shimmer saw a bound and gagged stallion who wore a blue and purple jacket. “And who is that?”
“You may want to sit down.”
Rev sat atop the small hill. What remained of their group rested at the bottom below him, within the tree line. He looked out across an open field. In the distance, he could see the remains of where his home used to be. A group of ponies had quickly arrived at the decimated residence, but they had left almost as quickly.
After he and Lachrymose had gotten to safety, the mare had left him alone to deal with his shock. A flash of gold in the distance had led him to find Cross and Shimmer. From there, he brought the two ponies back to the small grove. It had been one of his favorite places to go when he needed a quiet, peaceful place to pray, but now it failed to elicit the peacefulness it usually brought to him. When the black mare finally returned, she was carrying a battered, bloody, and bruised stallion. How she had kidnapped the soldier without alerting his companions, Rev had no idea, but in the end it didn't matter. All that mattered was that the stallion knew where his comrades were headed, and that in turn meant he knew where Charity and Crimson were going to be.
The stallion had also helped to shed some light onto what had happened with Flicker. Somehow they had given her a drug they called surge, which for a brief period enhanced a pony’s innate magic. With Flicker’s unnatural ability to teleport, coupled with the overcharging effect of the solution, the pink unicorn, Faith, and Solace could have ended up anywhere.
Rev stood and began to make his way down the hill, but he stopped and looked to the sky. “God, I don't know why this is happening, but please, let your guiding hoof protect them and give me strength to overcome this adversity.” He remained silent for a moment, wanting to say more, to demand answers, to know why God was doing this to him, but he bit his tongue and continued onwards.
Full original doc of Blazing Glory, for anyone who might be interested in it.
To be continued in Chapter 6 - Sweet Dreams and Sour Realities
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Assisted by Chameleon
Chapter 6 – Sweet Dreams and Sour Realities
Solace rested comfortably in his worn chair, a half empty mug of coffee sitting on the table beside him. There was the soft rustling of newspaper as he turned the page, slowly scanning the black and white print. Before he could begin reading a story on the rising cost of oats, Rev entered the room, his gaze downcast.
The gray stallion coughed sheepishly as he approached the sitting pony. Solace watched as the preacher suddenly prostrated himself before the older pony. “You were right and I was wrong!” Rev said, his voice full of shame. “Why can't I be as wise and clever as you?”
“Granddaddy,” Faith said sweetly as she cantered up to the two stallions. “I just wanted to tell you that you are the best grandparent a mare could ever ask for. I want you to be the first pony to know that I'm no longer going to be a silly filly and now I'm going to apply myself so that I can be the best that I can be.”
The sound of flowing liquid caused him to glance to his left. Crimson flashed him a smile as he refilled Solace's cup with hot coffee.
Cross joined the others in the living room. “You look a little tense,” Cross said, picking up Solace's left hind hoof. “How about a relaxing hoof massage?”
The smell of freshly baked brownies caressed Solace's senses. Charity appeared beside the old stallion, carrying a pan of chocolaty goodness.
Solace sighed in content. “This is nice.”
“Granddaddy! Wake up!” Solace started at the worried voice. Before he could properly decipher what was happening, a bolt of lightning tore through the roof and struck his chest.
Solace woke violently, his muscles spasming as he lay on the ground. The convulsions subsided almost instantly. Sputtering and coughing, he slowly tried to rise, but he was knocked back down when a heavy weight landed on his chest, forcing the air out of his lungs. He could feel soft fur nuzzling against his cheek. Blinking against the light, his vision slowly came into focus.
“I told you he wasn't dead,” Flicker said with relief.
A lush jungle surrounded the ponies, with enormous trees that stretched skyward; a wide variety of colorful flora grew in all shapes and sizes. Solace lay on his back, Faith sprawled on top of his chest, her hooves gripping him in a tight hug. Her usually carefree demeanor had been replaced by one of extreme worry for the old stallion.
Solace gently pushed her back, allowing himself the chance to breathe. Faith stepped back, giving the stallion room. Getting to his hooves, Solace slowly brushed of his brown suit, adjusted his bow tie, then took a deep breath before asking the obvious question.
“What just happened?”
“Well,” Flicker started. “Some ponies attacked us, injected us with something... we're not really sure what.”
“And then Flicker says she exploded,” Faith added.
“I didn't say I exploded!” Flicker exclaimed indignantly. “It only felt like I exploded. But yeah, whatever they gave me made my magic go all crazy.” She waved her hooves in the air for emphasis.
“Then we ended up here,” Faith said happily.
“We saw you had stopped breathing. Since you're an old guy and all, Faith thought you kicked the bucket,” Flicker stated nonchalantly.
Faith pointed at an orange cable in her mane. “So I gave you a jolt to try and wake you up and it worked!” She threw herself on the stallion again, but this time he was able to brace himself.
“Oh,” Flicker added, almost as an afterthought. “We also have no idea where we are and I've lost control of my magic.”
Archangel sat quietly, contemplating the recent turn of events. Steederans had captured her and probably all of her friends, but she wasn’t certain. She had just woken up to find she was the sole occupant of a bare white room. Why they had captured her was also unclear. She should have just been killed on the spot, but for some reason they had taken the time to only incapacitate her instead.
Her cell was of spartan furnishings: four white walls, a single light bulb set into the ceiling and a reinforced door with no handle from the interior direction. Her wrists had been bound by a pair of iron shackles, but they had been designed with accommodating ponies in mind, allowing her powerful paws to easily break through the restraints. Archangel kept her paws behind her back; hiding the fact her arms were now free. She had tried to force the door open, but her physical strength wasn't enough, so now she waited in silence. Since they had gone to the trouble of capturing her, she doubted they would just let her die in the cell. Somepony would eventually come, and then she would be able to make her move.
It turned out the diamond dog didn't have long to wait. A clang sounded from outside the room, causing Archangel's ears to perk instantly. The door swung open, revealing a homely purple unicorn levitating a covered tray. She was large in girth, so much so that she seemed to jiggle with every step she took. Her mane was kept in a short, cropped green mane. She wore an unflattering blue lipstick and matching eyeliner; the application of her makeup had been handled in a very heavy-hoofed manner. Around her neck hung a necklace with a large, white, square pendent. While she was definitely not what Archangel would consider good looking, it was clear from her demeanor that the mare viewed herself in a very different light.
“Would you like something to eat?” the mare asked. She pressed a hoof against her necklace; with a click from the white square, the door began to shut behind her. She uncovered the tray, revealing a large fish, uncooked and fully scaled. The tray began to float toward the diamond dog.
Archangel resisted the urge to growl at the pony giving her raw fish like she was a wild animal. This wasn't the first time Archangel had been presented with ignorant ponies that equated her being a diamond dog to being akin to a wild savage.
“I'm not hungry,” Archangel said, watching the overweight mare closely.
The pony shrugged before setting the tray down on the floor. She looked the diamond dog over, her expression one of barely contained disgust. The unicorn’s horn began to glow a deep indigo. Archangel tensed as a matching aura surrounded her. The sound of twisting metal filled the room. With a grunt the mare's horn extinguished, her brow slick with perspiration.
“There, now you look a bit more civilized.”
Glancing down, Archangel was pleasantly surprised to find that the bullet holes that had riddled her armor had been erased. In fact, it looked brand new; she could actually see her reflection in the polished breastplate.
“Do you treat all your prisoners this well?” Archangel asked snarkily.
“You're a special case,” the mare replied, her voice carrying fake friendliness. “You see, our organization has taken an interest in you and your friend's situation. Your country betrayed you and wants you dead; we want to know why. If you give us what we want, you'll find we can be a very beneficial friend to have.”
The mare's sweet words were lined with malice.
“And just who are you exactly?” Archangel asked nodding her head towards the mare. “I can tell from looking at you that you're not with the Steederans.”
The mare arched an eyebrow. “And how can you tell that?”
“The Steederans have gotten to the point where they can barely afford to keep their army fed. From the look of you, I doubt you've been missing too many meals.” The diamond dog allowed herself a smug smile as the mare scoffed indignantly.
“Think you’re a clever bitch do you?” The mare huffed and took several steps forward. Raising a hoof towards Archangel’s head, the pony continued pompously, “Give me that helmet. I want to see your face when I teach you some respect.”
Archangel's paw struck out, latching onto the pony's hoof. Her other paw shot forward, clamping around the purple mare's muzzle. Releasing the hoof, she grabbed the pony's neck, holding it in a vice-like grip. Archangel slammed the pony against the wall, leaving the mare's legs dangling in the air. Desperately, the mare grabbed onto the diamond dog's arm, trying to alleviate the pressure on her neck.
“I don’t need to be clever when dealing with a fool. Now let's try again. Who are you?” She tightened her grasp, causing the mare to gurgle and sputter, before loosening enough to allow the pony to speak.
“We... we are Dominion. We will bring about a glorious future for ponykind.”
“And just how are you going to do that?”
The mare spat, glaring at her former prisoner. Archangel lifted her paw to the pony's face, a single claw extended. “Now you don't want to talk? That's okay, I can be very persuasive.” Slowly, Archangel pushed the sharp claw into the chubby mare's left cheek, causing the mare to scream in pain. Once the nail had sunk several inches into the flesh, she jerked her paw sideways, ripping through the meat and fur, a spray of blood spattering against the floor. Placing her claw against the mare's right cheek, Archangel bared her teeth and let out a feral growl.
The mare began to sob, tears streaming down her face, making her caked on makeup run in rivulets down her cheeks. It mixed with the crimson blood seeping from her gash. “Our sector is supposed to incite both Dareahoe and Steedera into escalating their war efforts.” When the pony stopped, Archangel gave a snarl. “That's why we were dressed as Steederans! So the Dareahoean's would be pressed to take drastic measures. I don't know anything else. The Silhouetted Stallion only tells us our parts, only he knows the entire design.”
“Where can I find this Silhouetted Stallion?”
“I don't know. I swear I don't know,” The mare cried, snot and tears smearing her blush.
Archangel squeezed the mare's throat, cutting off the air flow. “Where... are... my... friends?” She increased the pressured of her hold with each word.
She watched as the purple mare's eyes started to roll upwards, before relaxing her grip. With an explosive gulp of air, the mare panted, regaining her breath. “Only… only two others… were taken. The rest escaped. They're in cells right beside this one.”
Grabbing the pony's necklace, Archangel yanked, snapping the chain. Pointing the white square at the door, Archangel clicked the necklace. The door open, clanking to a stop against the wall. Archangel dropped the pony, who landed with a meaty thump on the floor. Looking down on the sniveling pony, Archangel leaned in close, whispering into the mare's ear, “I'll pray for you.” With a flinch-inducing growl, she bounded across the room and out the door.
As the mare lay on the floor, tear stained and shaken, she could hear guards calling out. She watched the diamond dog bare her claws and unleash a feral roar, gunshots, screams, a spray of blood against the far wall, dark crimson contrasting with the clinical white, then the door slowly closed and the mare was left in silence.
To be continued in Chapter 7 – The First Steps Down The Road
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
* This one is shorter than usual, but I really wanted to go ahead and get something out for you guys that are waiting on an update. For several weeks I failed to work on writing at all and sort of went on a drawing/ video making/ Mass Effect 3ing/ anything but writing rampage. Plus, school keeps on getting in the way, and my Saturdays are completely taken up by doing our video episode reviews, so time is a hard to come by commodity. Now that I finished the new cover image, I have gotten the drawing urge out of my system, (the majority of my characters are in the cover, so I have no need to do any more character sketches at this moment). Unfortunately, upon stretching myself a little thin between everything I try to do, Blazing Glory was put on the back burner, as it is my least important/popular project. To anyone that is a fan of Blazing Glory, (yes, all 3 of you) I am sorry. That was unfair of me to just drop writing and I am going to try to get these out on a more regular basis. I hope you continue to enjoy this story and God bless all of you.
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Assisted by Chameleon
Chapter 7 – The First Steps Down The Road
Rev stood in the wreckage of his home, a profound sense of sorrow upon him. He and Cross had spent the last few hours digging through rubble, searching for anything that could be salvaged. The two ponies now had saddlebags filled with essentials, as well as recovered family keepsakes.
“I think that's enough,” Rev said sadly.
“Yeah,” Cross called back, picking his way around shattered wood and glass. “I've got all I can carry.”
In truth, Rev was eager to leave as well. The captured stallion had revealed that Dominion had a base located in a small town to the north known as Rose Field. There, Charity, Crimson, and Archangel would be held captive. Rev didn't know how he would free his loved ones, but he knew he would risk anything to get them back.
The stallion turned, stepping over a fallen lamp, but stopped when his gaze fell on his desk. Sitting there, undisturbed by the storm, a single point of order in the chaos that had befallen the once happy home, was an old black book, a white cross emblazoned on the cover. The preacher's desk had been covered in papers, books, and assorted odds and ends, but they had all been blown away by the raging winds, save for the single, well-worn book.
Trance like, Rev stepped forward, eyes locked on the book. Glass crunched under his hooves, but the stallion paid it no heed. Rev's horn began to glow as he levitated the book before him. He stared intently at it for some time. His revere was finally broken when Cross called to him. “Are you okay over there?”
“Yeah,” Rev replied, placing the Bible in his saddlebag. “Come on. There's nothing left for us here.”
“What are we going to do with him?” Shimmer asked, looking towards the bound stallion laying several yards away, his hooves chained together with shimmering ebony chains. The group sat at the top of a small hill, a short distance away from the ruined home.
The stallion was a bright red and his mane an equally bright orange, his body, made of a large muscular build, was covered in bruises. Standing, he would be almost a head and shoulders taller than any of his current captors. For his cutie mark, he had a wooden barrel bearing three X’s. His right foreleg, from the knee down, had been replaced with a bionic appendage, crafted of polished metal and flashing lights. He scowled angrily around a crude cloth gag.
'Too dangerous to bring him with us,' Lachrymose spelled with her ghostly letters.
“So we're letting him go?” the invisible pony asked uncertainly.
'No.' Lachrymose approached the trussed stallion, who continued to glare at her as a white aura surrounded her horn.
A piece of twisted metal floated towards the unicorn. Slowly, it began to warp and bend, becoming smooth and sharp. The three ponies watched as the piece of scrap transformed into a crude blade. The stallion began to struggle, making muffled “ummmph” noises in panic. Shimmer turned her head and closed her eyes.
“Wait!” Rev yelled, galloping up to Lachrymose, Cross following close behind. “Don't kill him!”
Lachrymose lowered the knife. 'We can't take him with us.' 'If we let him go, he will alert the others.' 'Death is the only solution.'
“No,” Rev asserted. “We can't just kill a pony in cold blood.”
Cross snorted and shook his head. “He isn't an innocent, or have you forgotten that he was one of the ponies who attacked us?”
“I haven't forgotten, but I know that we're better ponies and that we should act as such.”
The red and orange stallion watched the conversation, his eyes darting back and forth between speakers. “Mmmhmmm!”
Rev turned to the stallion, a magic aura sparking around his horn. With a quick spell, the gray pony levitated the gag out of the captive’s mouth. The large stallion spat and worked his jaw.
“Thanks,” the red stallion said, his voice deep and resonating. He jangled the chains around his legs. “Care to help with these, too?”
“Not a chance.” Cross glared intently at the stallion, tense and ready for if the captive were to suddenly attack. Shimmer nodded her head in agreement, forgetting her current invisible state.
The gray stallion stared into the captive stallion's eyes, plumbing into the windows of his soul. After several moments of silence, the preacher stepped forward. “I believe all decent ponies deserve second chances. Come with us and help us find our friends. Prove that you are a decent pony.”
“I don't think that's such a good idea,” Shimmer said warily.
“And you'll kill me if I don't, right?”
“No, I won't needlessly execute a pony.” Continuing to stare at the stallion, Rev spoke, his tone one of command. “Lachrymose, release him.”
The black clad mare failed to comply, her expression unreadable, hidden away behind the mask. “I'm sorry.” “But this must be done.”
Indecision splashed itself upon Golden Cross, his countenance awash with uncertainty. He didn't trust the red stallion, and he wanted him to be punished for his part in their sorrows, but maybe Reverend was right. Perhaps they should hold themselves higher than this.
The knife floated into the air as Lachrymose moved forward, going towards the still captive stallion.
“I said release him.” Rev stepped in front of Lachrymose.
“Do not make this harder.” The black unicorn spelled in ethereal letters. “This is the only option.”
“The hell it is!” The red stallion exclaimed. “I'd be more than willing to help you guys out.”
The stallion blew his lips noisily. “Heck, I don't have any love for those Dominion assholes. I'm not even one of them.”
“What do you mean?” Shimmer asked quizzically.
“I was just about to tell you!” the stallion shouted in a burst of sudden rage, causing all the gathered ponies, save Lachrymose, to jump.
“I think I might have peed myself,” Shimmer whispered, unnoticed.
Calmer, the stallion continued. “I came across a group of them, a while back.” The stallion smiled smugly. “With my amazing skills, I was able to infiltrate their ranks. At first I thought they were part of the military, but that didn't last long.” He snorted derisively. “They're always Dominion this, Dominion that, glorious future for ponies and all that jazz.”
“Wait,” Cross said puzzled. “Why were you trying to sneak into the military?”
There was a moment's hesitation before the stallion replied. “Well, I figured the government always has the best stuff, so maybe I should try and... redistribute some of it, and make a nice profit, of course.” He was casual about admitting his attempted crime. If he hadn't been chained, he would have most likely shrugged.
“Not the most upstanding citizen.” Cross remarked dryly.
“You could say that,” the large pony replied. “But from what I’ve heard, you ponies aren't so squeaky clean, either.” He gave Rev a sideways look. “What'd you do to get Dominion on your case?”
'Us.' Lachrymose spelled. 'Archangel and I were privy to top secret information.' 'Dominion must have found out about us.' 'They could find our knowledge very useful.'
“Unhh unhh,” the red stallion said shaking his head. “They came here specifically for one pony.” He nodded his head towards Rev. “Him. Don't know why, but Dominion wants you bad.”
Rev was taken aback. “That's absurd. Why would they want me? I'm just a simple preacher.”
“They never said, but I got a feeling it ain't for a Sunday sermon.”
Rev turned to Lachrymose, but even before he could ask, she began to write in ghostly letters. 'I am as clueless as you.'
Cross scratched under his chin. “Well, I'm more confused than ever.” A pang of sadness hit the broken cyberpegasus. If Faith had been there, she would have undoubtedly made a playful remark at his expense. He didn't always get along with his sister, but he missed her greatly.
The sound of chains jingling brought Rev's attention back to the stallion. “So, will the creepy unicorn let me out of these now?”
The group focus turned to Lachrymose. She lowered her head slightly, signifying defeat. A flash of white light blossomed from her horn. As the light faded the ebony chains dissipated into a cloud of smoke, before being blown away on the breeze.
The large red stallion slowly rose to his hooves, stretching and flexing. “Oooh yeah, that feels much better.”
Reverend offered his hoof. “I'm going to give you my trust. Don't make me regret it.”
The newly freed stallion smiled and took the proffered hoof, shaking it vigorously. “Don't worry, my word is as good as my looks.”
“Uhh...” Shimmer wanted to say more, but wisely decided to keep her mouth shut.
Cross cantered forward; less wary of the stallion than he had been previously. “The name's Golden Cross,” he greeted, offering his hoof as well. The red pony heartily shook Cross's hoof, leaving the cyberpegasus leg feeling limp.
“You can call me Powder Keg.”
Behind the father and son stallions, Lachrymose summoned her spirit like letters, so only the red stallion could see them. 'I'll be watching you.'
“Nice to meet you, too,” Powder Keg replied with a huff.
Shimmer approached the large stallion, intending to introduce herself. Powder Keg swiftly turned and began to canter, “Well come on then, let's go crack some Dominion sku.. ufff!” The invisible Shimmer was knocked back as the stallion unknowingly rammed into her. Powder Keg flailed his legs, trying to steady himself, but his attempts were in vain. He quickly lost his footing and fell to the ground. He spun wildly as he rolled and bounced down the hill, huffing and groaning as he careened out of control. His flight came to an abrupt end with a wood splintering smash against a large stump.
“Sorry!” Shimmer called apologetically.
“What's your name?” was his muffled reply.
“Oh.... I'm Shimmer,” the unicorn replied sheepishly.
Powder Keg raised his head slowly, revealing his anger-contorted face, daggers shooting from his eyes. “SHIMMER! I'm going to kill you!”
Callous craned his neck, looking upwards at the towering mass of metal and cables. Large sheets of steel, painted dark purple and burgundy, were being slowly fitted together. Showers of sparks cascaded from high above, where ponies busily worked. Swirling blue smoke filled the massive complex, almost crackling with magic. Shouts, clangs, and booms mixed together into a cacophony of industry.
The yellow stallion smiled in a way that would disconcert most ponies. “Soon it will be ready.”
“Doctor Callous,” a chubby unicorn called as he frantically approached.
Callous sighed loudly, exaggerating enough to make sure the unicorn noticed. “Yes?”
A bit perturbed by the doctor’s demeanor, the pony spoke uncertainly in between trying to regain his breath. “There's a situation ... with the Heart.”
“And none of you can handle it?”
The pony shook his head, slick with sweat. “Nothing we've tried … is working.”
“I'm in a land of fools.” Callous galloped past the unicorn, not waiting for the overweight pony to follow.
Ponies in white lab coats desperately rushed about, trying futilely to regain control of the situation. A large circular room, filled with equipment, was now the center of a crisis. Sitting on a pedestal in the center of the room, the Empty Heart shone a blinding gold. The air felt heavy as the orb emitted a dominating force.
Bursting into the room, Callous immediately took charge. “What have you imbeciles done now?”
A light green mare approached, her mane frazzled slightly. Her voice carried a hint of anxiousness. “It just suddenly started amplifying its output. It's getting dangerously high and we can't get it to stop.”
A computer screen exploded in a burst of flames sending glass and chunks of metal in every direction. All around the room, other monitors began to sporadically follow suit.
“Purge it!” Callous shouted.
The orb's light was too bright to look at directly, so the mare covered her eyes with a hoof and made her way closer to the room’s center. The nearer she came to the orb, the harder its forces washed against her. Almost collapsing against a row of controls, she quickly found her goal. She flipped up a square piece of plastic, revealing a large red button. By now her breathing had become ragged. Her hoof felt like lead, but she was still able to raise it. As she went to push the button, the console erupted in a burst of sparks, small fires igniting along its length.
Reaching into his jacket, Callous removed a pair of dark goggles. He quickly removed his glasses, placing them into the inner pocket from whence he had retrieved the goggles, before hastily strapping the goggles around his head. Even with the eye protection, the Heart was still almost unbearable to look at.
Rushing, the yellow stallion threw open a storage locker, revealing a pile of tough gray material. Quickly, Callous donned the full body suit. It was made of a heavy material, extremely uncomfortable, and very hard to work in, but the outfit had been designed for use with highly dangerous and magical situations.
The pillar the orb rested on shattered, sending the crystal rolling across the floor. The tiles underneath the Heart violently began to fracture, large cracks snaking outwards, looking akin to a giant spider web with the golden stone at its center.
The air grew hotter, unbearably so, the light emanating from the crystal acting the same as the warming rays of the sun. Ponies closest to the epicenter started to smoke, before bursting into flames. The lights in the room shattered, not that anypony could notice with the dazzling light pouring from the orb.
Carefully, Callous stepped forward, the suit only allowing him to walk in a slow, deliberate pace. As he passed the light green mare, he impassively noted her condition. Her fur had become scorched, going from light green to a charcoal black. Her body was rapidly drying out, causing her flesh to shrivel.
Moving past the mare, he crept closer to the room’s center. He sweated profusely, the inside of the suit feeling all too like an oven. If it wasn't for the suit, he would have already been cooked alive.
Under the crystal, they had installed a safeguard: a long shaft, going down into the rock and earth, with which they could drop the Empty Heart if something like this were to happen. If Callous could just reach the center, he could manually open the shaft and cast the glowing orb down.
The Heart was almost before him. The air was thick and sluggish, feeling akin to wading through water. A crack started to run across his visor, the heat within his suit becoming more and more hellish. He could smell burning flesh; he only hoped that it wasn't his own.
The orb shone brilliantly, causing Callous to squint his eyes down to slits. As he reached out his hoof, his heart beat rapidly. With one simple touch, his body was consumed with the intensity of the sun itself.
To be continued in Chapter 8 – Jungle Fever
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com
Remember how I said I was going to write these faster? Ha ha, good times, good times. But seriously, I mean it this time!
Dustin Ray Coleman - aka - The Lord of Dust
Assisted by Galvin Starlight
Chapter 8 – Jungle Fever
“We've been walking for forever!” Flicker cried exasperated. Her mane clung to her body, the humid air mixed with her own perspiration causing her hair to become damp and clammy.
“And we're going to keep walking until we find something,” Solace replied curtly as he pushed aside a large fern.
The three ponies plodded through dense foliage, making their way through the foreboding jungle. Mud caked their coats; their manes were knotted and disheveled, frequently getting caught in brambles and limbs. Solace's well pressed brown suit was torn and frayed in several places. Faith's polished and shiny plating had become mostly dull and covered in muck, only a few higher patches of metal still glinted in the occasional ray of light.
A cacophony of sounds surrounded them, birds singing, insects buzzing, calls from unseen animals echoed through the thick foliage.
Faith groaned. “What if we never find anything?” She looked around, motioning towards the surrounding wilderness. “Trees, plants, and mud. That's all we've seen the whole time we've been here.” She looked upwards, catching a glimpse of the blue sky through the thick overhead canopy. “What if this is some sort of cursed forest where we're doomed to wander for all eternity.”
Flicker stopped in her tracks, a disturbed frown deeply engraved upon her face. “What if we didn't teleport here? What if I actually exploded and killed us all!” Her voice rose in pitch. “What if we're dead right now? Maybe that's why I can't use my magic.” She gulped. “Are we in Hell?”
Flicker threw herself around Faith, who in turn griped the pink unicorn in a vice like embrace. The two mares looked on the verge of breakdown. “I don't want to be in Hell!” Faith cried despondently.
“Me neither!” Flicker sobbed as the pair rocked back and forth.
Solace tried desperately to tune out the two mares' prattling.
“Wait,” Faith said suddenly. “Isn't Hell supposed to be, you know, all fire and darkness and things like that?”
Flicker contemplated, scratching her chin in thought. “Yeah, it is isn't it?” She looked around, squinting off into the gloomy undergrowth. “I guess the brochure is a little off.”
“It's not Hell!” Solace barked frustrated. The two mares had talked incessantly since they had woken up in the blasted place. Their chatter would unpredictably switch between teeth grinding whining, to headache inducing inanities. One minute they would be moaning about their manes or how their hooves hurt, then the next they would be rattling on about Dash Buckwell's upcoming movie release. Solace was on the edge of violently losing his patience.
Flicker gave the old stallion a skeptical look. “And how are you so sure?”
Solace suppressed the desire to trample the pink unicorn to death; instead he took a calming breath, put on his best attempt at a convincing smile, and slowly replied in a forcibly cheery tone. “Because I used to be a preacher. Don't you think a preacher would know this sort of thing?”
The mares stared silently at the old stallion, faces scrunched up in concentration. Faith turned to Flicker, whispering into her ear. Flicker nodded, and murmured a response. During the hushed exchange, Solace kept what he thought was a calming smile plastered across his face, but due to the forced effort he put into it, his expression looked more like a crazed lunatic than a reassuring grandfather.
Faith nodded sagely as Flicker spoke up. “You used to be a preacher,” she said, putting emphasis on “used”, “but maybe after you retired, Hell was remodeled. We think this is the new and improved Hell.” She smiled triumphantly. “Betcha didn't think of that.”
Solace's eye twitched slightly. Flattening her ears, Faith realized they had just gone a bit too far. “Granddaddy...”
“YOU'RE NOT IN HELL!!!”
An angry shout echoed through the tress scaring a flock of birds into flight. In the gloom of the jungle, a small clearing was illuminated by the midday sun. Warm sunlight filtered through the canopy, an oasis of light in the murky jungle. A silent blur burst through the bushes and into the clearing, revealing a lean verdant mare, her light green coat splattered with mud. Different colored flowers had been haphazardly placed about her long, dark green, matted mane and tail. Twisting briars surrounding a single flower was depicted on her flank. In a single bound she crossed the clearing, deftly launching herself back into the foliage.
Solace stalked forward, irritably staring straight ahead. Faith followed several yards behind the stallion, giving him room to smolder. Flicker trotted behind Faith, her lips tightly pursed. The group walked in silence, the air thick with tension.
Faith looked back at the pouting unicorn. “Do you think we should apologize?” she whispered, keeping her voice low enough so only Flicker would hear her.
Flicker scowled. “Why should we?” She raised her voice, angrily shouting. “After all, Mr. Grumpy is the one who likes to yell at ponies for no good reason!”
Solace continued pushing forward, pointedly ignoring the pink pony while Flicker continued to scowl, her brow deeply furrowed. Faith sighed dejectedly before trotting back ahead of Flicker. The cybernetic pony trudged on, wishing she could break the sullen mood. With no one to talk to, she began to let her mind wander to thoughts she had been trying to avoid: her parents, Rev and Charity, her brother, Cross, and Crimson, the stallion she thought of as an uncle. She wondered where her family was, if they were okay, if they were worried about her, if she would ever see them again. Sadness began to build inside her, depression threatening to overtake her normally cheerful nature. As thoughts of her family played through her mind, she would have cried, she wanted to cry, but as the entirety of her head, save for her muzzle, was robotic, she had no tear ducts from which her tears could fall.
The jungle stretched off in every direction, a maze that they would wander until either their bodies or their spirits simply refused to continue the exertion of their futile efforts. Faith was finding it hard to live up to her namesake.
A loud snap, followed by a shout of fear from Solace wrenched Faith's thoughts back to reality.
“Granddaddy!” Faith called, whipping her head about, looking for the elderly stallion.
“What's going on?” Flicker asked uncertainly, spinning around, searching the forest.
“Get me down from here!” Solace called angrily, causing the mares to look up in surprise. Hanging several yards in the air, his legs hog-tied together, Solace gently swung back and forth.
“Ha!” Flicker began to laugh at the stallion's predicament. She rolled onto her back, giggling hysterically.
Faith looked around, quickly spotting the rope that held the turquoise stallion in place. “How'd you do that?”
Solace huffed. “I saw some sort of shiny object, when I went towards it this rope snapped me up.” He flicked his tail in annoyance. “Now would you kindly help me down?”
Wiping a tear from her eye, Flicker sat up. “Okay, I forgive you for yelling at me.”
“Just get me down!”
Faith hastily made her way to the anchoring cable. The cord was made from some sort of flexible metal alloy, looking strangely out-of-place in the surrounding nature. Finding a knot, she used her teeth to pull, unraveling the rope.
“Whoa!” Solace exclaimed as he fell to the ground, thumping against the thankfully soggy ground.
Approaching the stallion, concern in her eyes, Faith looked him over. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, didn't break any bones old timer?” Flicker asked playfully.
Stiffly, Solace got to his hooves. “I'm fine, just a little bruised,” he said brushing himself off. “Do you see my glasses anywhere?”
After a few moments of searching, Faith handed Solace a slightly muddy pair of spectacles. After wiping them against his shirt and replacing them on his face, he looked around. “Ah, there it is,” he said, pointing towards a reflective object several yards away. “Let's see what all this is about.”
Carefully, the three approached the object, wary of any more hidden traps. Encountering no resistance, Solace sighed with relief as he picked up the prize.
“It's just a piece of mirror,” he stated half disappointed, half surprised.
“Uhg,” Flicker grunted with disgusted. “With my coat this dirty, that's the last thing I want to see right now.”
“Who put it here?” Faith asked, glancing around. “And why?”
“I'm not sure, but I doubt it's anything good.” Solace replied, his voice carrying a tinge of worry.
“You could at least at nicely Flicker.” Solace remarked, turning to the unicorn.
She shook her head. “It wasn't me; I already said I don't want it.”
“Faith?” Solace looked to his granddaughter.
Faith shook her head. Simultaneously the three ponies slowly turned around. There, standing low to the ground, in a predatory stance poised to leap given the slightest provocation, a green mare stared hungrily at the piece of mirror.
“Give mirror,” she said taking a step forward.
“Um.. Hello?” Solace greeted awkwardly.
“Give me mirror now,” she stamped her hoof.
“Oh, okay then.” The stallion proffered his hoof, holding the small reflective shard out to the mare. The mare stared at his outstretched hoof before quickly gripping it with her teeth and taking several steps back. Dropping it on the ground, the green mare began to study herself in the reflection, smiling at her image. The mare cooed softly, turning her head this way and that.
Faith looked back and forth, between Flicker and the strange mare. “Wow, here mane is even more unruly that yours.”
“Hay!” Flicker exclaimed insulted. “I'm going for that... lived in look.” She huffed. “It drives the stallion's crazy.” Flicker scrutinized the mare's mane. “But you're right; it doesn't look like she's ever heard of a hairbrush.”
The verdant mare picked up the mirror shard and began nuzzling in her mane. After a few seconds of rummaging, the mare withdrew, the piece of mirror gone.
“Did she just put that in her mane?” Flicker asked incredulously. “It really is a tangled mess.”
Faith ran a hoof through the wires and cables protruding from her scalp. “I wish I could do that.”
“I wonder what else she has squirreled away in there,” Flicker pondered.
“I'm not sure I want to know,” Solace replied with a slight shudder.
The mare looked around her ears perked as she listened intently. A dull rumble could just be made out off in the distance. The mare released a low growl. She quickly turned towards the others. “Follow.”
She swiftly turned and started off into the jungle. After a moment's hesitation, Solace followed after the mare, Faith and Flicker in tow. Through the trees they galloped, their destination unknown, following a pony they didn't know or trust.
A large window overlooked the lush landscape, a stark contrast to the spartan, clinical furnishing of the room’s interior. White walls, a white tile floor, and a white ceiling all surrounded a bone white stallion sitting behind a white desk. A holographic display hovered over the desk, glowing a translucent blue. The stallion slid his hoof through the air, flipping through screens displaying a myriad of contents. The stallion flicked his hoof, causing a map to appear. A single point on the map flashed red. A smile split the stallion's face.
“Retrieve her.” The stallion gazed intently at the flashing dot.
“Yes sir,” a male pony acknowledged. Hoofsteps clopping against the floor, the swish of a door sliding open, the click as it slid closed.
The stallion grinned, flashing his pearly white teeth. “Yes, return to me my lovely flower.”
A small stream, clear and cool, ran around a small crooked area, sunlight sparkled against the water. The four ponies stopped, taking the opportunity to quench their thirst and rest their hooves.
“So, I'm Solace,” the stallion said introducing himself. He pointed towards Faith and then Flicker, introducing them as he did. “Who might you be?”
The green mare looked confused, her brow crinkling.
“What is your name?” Solace clarified.
The mare didn't respond immediately. She frowned, as she went into thought, concentrating in silence. Solace began to consider asking her a different question, but the mare's face lit like she had just uncovered the answer to a particularity difficult question. “Wildflower!” She smiled, repeating the name to herself, as if she had somehow forgotten her name and only now just remembered she had one.
“That's a nice name,” Solace said encouragingly, eliciting a positive reaction from the mare. “Wildflower, do you know of a way out of this jungle?”
“No out,” the mare growled angrily. “Here good, there bad.”
“Wildflower, we really need you to help us find a way out. I'm sure you can do it.” Solace, not so subtly, winked at Faith.
“Huh? Oh! Yeah, you seem to know the forest, you could guide us.” Faith gave Wildflower her most dazzling smile. “Right Flicker?”
“I don't know. I'm not sold on miss nature. She probably has fleas or something.” A dagger filled glare from Solace immediately met her remark. “What?”
Ignoring Flicker, Solace spoke slowly, trying to make Wildflower understand. “Look, we really need your help. Please Wildflower.”
The mare looked conflicted, several emotions playing out across her face. She emitted a low mournful whine. “Bad bad bad. Wildflower stay away from bad.” She reached into her mane, gently pulling out one of the several flowers tangled within the mass of hair. She chewed the plant thoughtfully, before continuing, mouth still full of foliage. “Wildflower take to bad place. Then see bad is bad.”
“Alright, thank you Wildflower.” Solace replied.
While Solace mollified Wildflower, Flicker let her attention wonder. Her gaze fell upon a patch of small purple berries spotted with green dots. Cantering over to the shrub, she reached down, going to eat a few of the small fruits.
“No!” Wildflower yelled, making Flicker flinch back from the berries, biting her tongue in the process. “Bad berries. Make dead fast.”
Solace nodded. “I'd listen to her, they're probably poisonous.”
Flicker backed away from her intended snack, her color slightly paler than usual. “Poison berries, that's just swell.”
Curling up, Wildflower turned her back to the others. “Tired, sleep now.” The mare instantly fell asleep, seemingly at will. If one wasn't careful, at first glance you could mistake her for a random bush, blending in with the plant life surrounding her.
“Well I won't say no to some sleep,” Flicker yawned, stretching her legs as she lay back onto the ground.
Faith walked over to where the most sun made its way to the forest floor. Lying in the sun, she powered off her noncritical functions, and began to try and recharge as much energy as she could from the warming rays.
Thinking about how good it would feel to fall into a real bed, Solace lay down in the soft grass. The steady gurgle of the stream helped to lull him into a fitful sleep.
Three silent figures stood just outside the small creak bend. Noiselessly they moved into the camp standing over the sleeping ponies. Simultaneously, they pounced; frightened screams echoed throughout the night.
“Who are you?”
“What's going on?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Shut up.” A stallion growl as he roughly corralled the startled equines.
A second stallion looked the captives over. “I thought it was only supposed to be the mare, the boss didn't say anything about these ponies.”
“Who cares? Just so long as we find the freak.” One of the stallions said, peering out into the gloom. A feral scream came from above him. He rolled to the side, barely avoiding the surprise attack. The assailant lunged, head butting into the stallion's side. Swinging his hoof in a wide backwards arc, he connected with the mare, knocking her back. Pressing his attack he back flipped, landing on the mare. Under the stallion, the pony desperately kicked against him, growling and snarling like a cornered animal. Throwing her head forward, she bit hard onto the side of the stallion's neck, her teeth sinking deep, tearing a bloody chunk of flesh away. The stallion roared in pain. He raised his hoof, preparing to crush the violent mare. As his hoof shot downward, another hoof knocked his aside.
“Kill her and the boss kills you.” The stallion's companions grabbed the thrashing mare, and after a few minutes of struggling, they successfully subdued and bound her.
With a grunt, they placed the green mare on the second stallion's back. The other two stallions roughly forced the remaining ponies to stand.
“Start walking,” The stallion with the wounded neck barked, striking Faith's flank, eliciting a cry of pain. Solace leaned next to Faith, whispering in her ear and nuzzling against her cheek. The old pony was rewarded with a vicious kick from the third stallion, causing him to collapse on the ground, clutching his side.
Solace shakily rose. Flicker went to move closer to the others, but the bleeding stallion stepped in her way.
“Well, would you look at the flank on this one.” He licked his lips. “The boss only wants the jungle freak. He wouldn't mind if I got a little... rough with her.” He ran his hoof around her cutie mark, causing Flicker to shiver in fear. His hoof slowly moved from her cutie mark towards her tail, his twisted smile growing larger as the hoof drew nearer to his perverted goal. A single tear ran down her cheek.
“Get your hooves off of her.”
The stallion turned, arching an eyebrow. “What did you say?”
Solace glowered at the stallion.
“Or maybe I should try little miss machine over there.” The stallion cantered over to Faith. She cowered back as the stallion loomed over her, drops of blood dripping onto her face. “I wonder do you still have all the right parts or are you all metal down there?” He laughed as Faith cringed away from him. “How about we find out?”
“I won't warn you again.” Solace said firmly. “If you touch either of them, you will regret it.”
Shaking his head, the bleeding stallion turned away from the scared mare. “You can't do shit to me old timer.”
Solace stood tall against the approaching pony, looking the stallion in the eye. “God is my sword and shield. I shall fear no evil.”
The stallion smiled, gave a soft chuckle, and then threw his hoof, knocking the air out of the turquoise pony. Another quick punch sent Solace sprawling into the stream, his glasses falling onto the ground.
“Stop it! Please! Don't hurt him anymore!” Faith screamed.
The sound of meaty thumps and splashes mixed with the sound of mares crying and gleeful cackling filled the forest. Wheezing heavily, Solace lay in the water, now murky with blood and silt. His suit was in tatters, his body covered in cuts and bruises.
“Had enough?” The stallion asked, his breathing heavy from exertion.
On one shaky leg, Solace began to rise. “I won't let you lay a hoof on those mares.”
“Oh really, how do you plan on stopping me? Is your God going to strike me down?” The stallion laughed. “Should I be looking out for a bolt of lightning?” The stallion kicked Solace, knocking him back into the water. “I'll do you a favor and send you straight to your master in the sky.” He raised his hoof, preparing to bring it down with skull crushing force.
“No! Please God no!” Faith cried hysterically. Tears streamed down Flicker's face, she turned away, closing her eyes.
“Grrgh ugh!” The stallion stumbled back. “What the hell.” He pressed a hoof to the gash on his neck. He cried in pain as a convulsion wracked his body. Crumpling, the stallion landed in the mud. Foam started to ooze out of his mouth. “That little bit...” The words died as the light faded from his eyes.
The stallion carrying Wildflower looked to the other stallion and nodded towards Solace. “Carry him, I doubt he can walk. The boss will want to see our unexpected guests.”
“What just happened?” The third stallion asked bewildered.
Resting on the stallion's back, Wildflower smiled. A small pile of chewed up purple and green spotted berries were on the ground under her. She spat, making sure not to swallow any of the deadly juices. “Bad berries.”
To be continued in Chapter 9 – Prison Break
Next chapter will be way longer, going to try and touch on most, if not all the different groups. Wanted to go ahead and pop a chapter out so this one is relatively short, since I'm planning on having chapter 9 be a lot longer it’ll be a little while before it comes out.
Shout out to Chameleon who unfortunately is no longer able to help with prereading, thanks for all the help!
You can reach me at [email protected]
or visit thelordofdust.deviantart.com
or visit obsessionismagic.blogspot.com