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Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

By: CardsLafter

Author’s note:  Image provided by Ice Storm!  What devilry is this!

Author’s Note:  First Ponyfic.  To my eventual and no doubt endearing critics...  Gently Please~!

Also, for those of you looking to read a book... Don’t read this.  It’s not a book.  It’s not written as a book.  It is written as a brony sitting down and telling you what happened, how it happened, and what it all meant to him.  Nothing more.  :3  Enjoy!

Most people do not take sudden change well.  I figure I work with it pretty easily, as long as the change isn’t bizarre.  Waking up outside on the grass was a first for me, but I’ve been known to have some pretty wild parties at my place and my step-sister is never kind enough to drag me to my bed when I do pass out, despite the fact that I’ve held her hair/head out of the toilet during similar occasions.  Still, I was not hungover, surprisingly enough.  Not even that groggy beyond the usual deep sleep clinging to me.  Indeed, had I been much more comfortable, I’d have probably rolled over and proceeded to greedily yank more Zs into my morning.  I wiped at my eyes with my hoof and decided that at very least crawling to my bed would be in order.  Then I realized I just wiped at my eyes with a hoof and not my usual hand consisting of five digits.  I’m not sure why, but my first thought consisted of wondering how I didn’t injure my eyes scraping at them with a hoof.

That’s when I first told myself that I had finally slipped into insanity.  It had taken a while, to be sure.  But I mean, c’mon.  Who wakes up with hooves instead of hands, right?  That’s just nonsense.

Well, nonsense or not, telling myself that my sanity was taking an unscheduled absence for some reason (I’ve got plenty, I assure you) was not making it any better and it certainly wasn’t getting me off this dewy grass.  So I decided to play ball and examined the hoof as I got up.  It was definitely a hoof.  An ash grey hoof.  I could tell from the shape and having seen some hooves in my time, you see.  I then held up my other hoof to make a comparison before unceremoniously crashing to the ground.

“Ow,” I remarked before shaking my head in confusion and getting back up on all fours.  Note to self, ponies can not elevate themselves off the ground without the use of their front legs holding them up.

I suppose this is where I’m supposed to double take and freak out because I’m a pony!  I’m not going to lie, folks.  I am lazy.  Not incredibly lazy, but yeah I’m up there when it comes to doing things that are mentally draining.  When it comes to the mentally exhausting stuff, I just don’t want to do it and freaking out is very much one of those things.  I mean, it’s up there with doing your taxes and attending those stupid webinars.  So rather than lose my mind over that, I sat down exactly the way ponies don’t and examined my hooves again, this time keeping at least one on the ground at any given time.

“So, I’m a pony,” I muttered out loud, still trying to sell the possibility of insanity to myself, “This has terrible implications.”

With that in mind, I decided to focus on my surroundings, namely to find a mirror so I could examine my ponyness and be as appreciative as I should be.  I quickly deduced that I was in Ponyville.  Big surprise.  Shockingly enough, though, it was early in the morning and not during the hustle and bustle of the day, which would have made my experience even more disorienting.  Whatever sick bastard did this to me, I was grateful for that much, I noted.

Orienting myself further, I realized that I was actually in the town square where all the fillies and colts set up shop.  Good, some familiar ground.  That’s when I had that feeling you get when you realize that you know something you shouldn’t.  Such as the landscape and geography of a little girls’ TV show.  I kinda giggled in an internal fashion before finally shaking it off and putting on my serious face.  Perhaps I should do something sensible and go see Twilight, the voice of pony reason, I mentally suggested to myself.  That’s when the first epic battle took place.

See, I’m a yin and yang sort of person, deep down.  There are two parts of me at war at all times and because they’re so evenly matched, I normally come off as a bland person when first met.  For future reference, we will call these halves Lafter and Stoic.  I’m not even going to bother explaining what they represent since it should be quite obvious.

So back to this battle that literally caused me to sit in Ponyville town square for nearly seven minutes and do absolutely nothing but stare into the distance like a lunatic:  Lafter wanted to go find Pinkie Pie and throw fruit at her in an attempt to get her to throw fruit back, thus leading to the Great Produce Showdown that would forever go down as the most wasteful piece of hilarity to have ever taken place in Equestria without a stage, ticket price, and trained performers.

Stoic, however, is a very persuasive fellow.  It’s his speciality, you see, being the voice of perfect and sound reason.  And while I just about ran off to Sugarcube Corner, Stoic was very adamant that I at least familiarize myself a bit more with my setting rather than run off and cause an incident without fully understanding the consequences.  Besides, Pinkie might be allergic to papayas and I don’t think my conscience could handle bringing harm to anypony.  And I’d still get to meet one of my favorite ponies if I went to Twilight’s Library, anyway.

I know, it didn’t take seven minutes to process that for you, but trust me, it was like trying to solve a calculus equation with the stereo blasting some death metal and the Winter Wrap Up song at the same time for me.  Pure mental chaos that eventually faded with time to be sure.

With that I decided to pull out a cigarette, lit it, and started to walk towards what I felt was likely the direction to get to the tree-library that housed a certain purple pony.  Then I did my first actual double take.  I’ll just list out the questions and thoughts that went through my head rather than try to explain just how it all gushed out of my cognitive process.

1)  Holy bit, I’m a pony and I’m smoking.

2)  Holy bit, cigarettes in Equestria!

3)  I am such a corrupting influence and I haven’t even spoken to anypony yet!

4)  Where the hay did that pack of cigarettes go?

5)  How the hay did I just light that cigarette?

6)  Where the hay did that pack of cigarettes come from!?

7)  Where is the nearest ash tray!?

8)  I can’t smoke here!  Think of the ponies!

9)  If I try and quit, I might lose my temper at a pony!

10) I’m sorry, but you’ve thrown off the Emperor’s Groove.

This caused yet another mental foray within myself and I eventually decided to just smoke it and bury the filter later.  I know, smoking is bad.  I don’t do it because I like it (I hate it, actually), I do it because I’m addicted and attempts made at quitting have led to murderous tempers.  I am a zen master with having had a smoke in the last four hours, but without them, I devolve into something hideous and generally not fit for human society, much less pony society.  I don’t know what it’s called, I just know that scientists refuse to do a study on the matter due to how dangerous it would be and no existing grant is willing to shell out that kind of hazard pay.

Continuing on, I looked around at my cartoon surroundings in the earliest of dawn lighting and wondered how the physics worked.  I’ve seen ponies pick up paintbrushes with a single hoof before and then I remembered Spike yanking a gem out of a body pocket once.  Maybe that’s where I put my cigarettes?  I decided to give it a try and just randomly attempted to pull the box out.  Worked on the first try.  I’m still not sure if this excited me or angered me, but sure enough, in my ash grey hoof was a silver and cyan box of Mareboro Smooth 100s.  I started to go into another breakdown over this but I realized those were extremely tiring and time consuming.  Thus, I decided not to.

“Mareboro,” I said with a snicker as I spotted a very familiar library in the distance, putting the box of cigarettes back.  My smile widening, I began to run (gallop) towards the big tree before stopping just at the door and wondering just how early it was.  I pulled out my smart phone and clicked the button on it to check the time.

6:52 am

I put it away before doing another double take.  Just how much crap did I have on me!?  Agh... Whatever.  Almost seven in the morning.  Applejack is definitely awake right now.  Pinkie probably sleeps in, being the party animal that she is.  Twilight however, I was not sure.  She was something of a night owl last I had checked, so she could be a late sleeper.  Spike’s an early riser, at least, right?

“Damn the torpedoes,” I muttered before clopping at the door.

Surely enough, the door opened up and there he was, two foot nothing (well, it seemed that high to me anyway) and staring up at me with a slightly confused yet welcoming purple smile.  The only dragon to have ever achieved pony amounts of cute: Spike.

“Can I help you?” he asked politely, regarding me with an increasingly strange look.

“Oh, um,” I was a little caught off guard but I eventually recovered and asked what I felt was a perfectly sensible question, “I’m new in town and I heard this was the local library.  Being something of a foreign scholar and I wanted to peruse the contents but I wasn’t sure if it was available to just anypony.  Is it public or private, my good sir?”

Spike stared at me as though I were completely crazy.  This in turn made me go from feeling incredibly clever, to equally stupid.  I’m not used to feeling stupid, you see?  I’m not trying to boast here, but I am an extremely capable and intelligent person when I put my mind to a task, and doing the occasional stupid thing actually causes me to laugh rather than actually feel stupid.  This time, I felt it.  Full on stupid.  Who’s a silly pony?  I am.  I can’t say I cared for it.

“What do you mean ‘is it public or private?’” he finally asked.  This actually brought a sense of relief.  Spike must not have been aware of the difference.

“Oh, well you see, a public library is open to everypony to come and check out books for a few days at a time, while a private library is only available to a select group of ponies who have preexisting affiliations with the library or it’s staff in some way,” I tried to elaborate neatly.  Spike wasn’t an idiot.  Right?

“Oh!” his eyes widened greatly before becoming skeptical again, “You mean... A library that gives it’s books away?  That doesn’t sound like any library I’ve ever heard of.”

“Oh, well, you see... The ponies bring them back after a few days.  Basically the process works like this:  A)  Ponies come in and check out a book after registering with the library staff.  B) Ponies read the books for the few days they have them checked out or until they’re finished, whichever comes first.  C) They bring them back to the library for other ponies to come read so that the library can continue sharing it’s wealth of knowledge without ever losing it’s books for more than a handf... er... hooffull of days at a time.”

That was when I saw a different purple head poke around the door frame inquisitively.  I was instantly overwhelmed in awesome.  My cigarette fell out of my mouth (AAAGGGH!  I still had it?!) as I took in Twilight Sparkle.  Naturally, we know what Twilight looks like and it’s not like I was beauty struck, it was just the entire concept of one of the Mane 6 in my actual presence... Another mind blowing moment.  This was becoming quite the theme of my day.

“I’ve never heard about these... public libraries,” Twilight gave me a suspicious look, “Where are you from?”

After composing myself and stomping out the cigarette, I smiled happily, “I’m from a different world.  Hence the whole foreign scholar spiel.  I’m actually looking for you, Twilight Sparkle.  I need your help.  I’m kinda a long way from home.”

Twilight boggled a moment at the fact that I knew her name but being the sensible gal that she is, did not panic and simply stepped aside, “Come in please.”

With that, I trotted in, making sure I was careful to wipe my feet (hooves, damn it!) on the mat before finding the nearest bench and firmly planting my plot on it in the exact same fashion that ponies do not (again).  It smelled like a musty old library, as one would expect.  That fact alone, was pretty cool.  I actually breathed in several times, smiling dreamily as I made sure to memorize the smell.

Spike and Twilight stared at me like I was from outer space.  Technically, I probably was, but that didn’t make me feel any better as I realized just how dumb I looked.

“Ahem~!” I cleared my throat, blushing somewhat I’m sure, “I uh... I don’t know how to say this other than I’m not a pony in all actuality, and that my presence probably isn’t a good thing.  Though I won’t lie, me being here is not upsetting me in the least.”

The purple pony and purple dragon exchanged a purple glance before looking back at me.

Twilight gave a skeptical smile, “You don’t look especially different from any other unicorn I’ve seen.”

My jaw dropped before I slapped at my forehead with my Hooves!  Not hands! and was met with a rush of joy as I felt the ivory (I’m assuming it was ivory, for all I know it’s actually made of incredibly hard cheese) horn poking out of my forehead.

“No way!  I’m a frigg’n unicorn!” I gasped before hopping up and focusing like a mad man, “I wonder what spells I can cast!”

“I am now fully capable of believing he’s an alien,” Spike stated flatly before walking for the stairs, having lost interest in me, “Let me know if you wanna capture and study him, Twilight, I’m going to find some breakfast.”

“Spike!  Manners!” she snapped at the baby dragon before turning back to me, “Okay, so you weren’t aware of the horn in your head.  And you’re how old?”

“Twenty-three actually,” I said, still straining as hard as I could to make some unicorn magic happen.  I won’t lie, folks, Lafter was in control here and even Stoic was kinda curious to see where this would go.

“Are you trying to cast a spell?” Twilight asked helpfully, backing away slowly.

I gave up with a sigh.  Mentally tiring activities were in abundance today, it seemed.  Then I was struck with an idea and pulled out a cigarette from my nothing (body pocket just sounds weird) and lit it with a bit of fire that came from my horn!  There wasn’t a lighter!  It just lit on it’s own, practically!  I was a pyromancer!  Picture the greatest day of your life and multiply it by three.  Yeah.  You’re getting close to just how cool this day was.  But still not there yet.

“Awesome!” I gasped with your typical awesome face, “I control fire! What’s my cutie mark look like?”

“Ummm,” Twilight was obviously starting to have serious doubts about my sanity and to be honest, I had already come to terms with the loss of it some time ago.  I did an adorable spin that Applebloom would have been proud of and spotted it.  It was a shield made of orange fire with a faded in blue center.  It also seemed as though I were ash grey all over, which made sense since I didn’t know of any ponies that were multicolored on their coats.  My tail, however, was flame blue with fiery orange tips.  I kinda felt woozy after that.  I mean, the sheer amounts of cool piling into a single hour was going to overdose at this rate and likely kill me or render me comatose.

I needed to get a grip, though.  Lafter had his fun and now it was time for serious business again.  I stopped behaving like a buffoon before sighing and turning to face Twilight with a sheepish smile, “Sorry, this is all just so very new to me.  Y’see, I only got here half an hour ago and it’s been a lot to take in.”

Twilight looked relieved that I was actually somewhat sensible again and simply nodded, “It’s okay just... Let me get you a drink.  What do you like?”

“Tomato juice, Milk, Sweet Tea, Water in that order,” I rattled off, avoiding anything ponies might not consume. Like, I dunno... blood or beef juice.  Whatever, I was being cautious.

When she returned with a glass of milk on a floating plate, I smiled happily and took the glass with two hooves (which is a lot harder than it sounds, and after thinking about it, it sounds hard.  But yeah, harder than that), throwing it back with gusto.  It does the body good.

“Well, I can tell you’re not used to being a unicorn,” she pointed out with a wry smirk, “Why didn’t you just use your magic to levitate it.”

“Like I said.  I’ve only been a unicorn for half an hour,” I reminded her before taking a drag off my lit cigarette, “Crap!”

The sudden realization that I was smoking in Twilight’s house sunk in immediately.  Another little piece of information about myself:  I do not smoke indoors.  At all (at least not without a huge amount of motivation to do otherwise.).  I don’t care if I’m at someone’s house who does smoke indoors.  It’s a sign of disrespect to the home if not the homeowner and I am a very respectful person.  I immediately doused the cigarette on my tongue and stashed it back into my nothing without a second thought, blushing terribly.  My shame level was somewhere beyond nine thousand, if it were at all measurable.

“Sorry,” I muttered sheepishly.

“You just burned your tongue!” she gasped, staring at me like I was crazy (she did that a lot and I’m still certain I’m to blame for it).

“No no,” I refuted, sticking my tongue out to her to show her how wrong she was, “I’m an experienced smoker so I know how to do that without actually hurting myself.  It’s actually not that hard, it just tastes terrible.”

“What was that anyway?  It kinda smelled... well,” she was trying to be polite and think of a kind way to tell me that cigarettes reeked.

“I know.  They smell terrible.  I’ll explain some other time, it’s not that important right now.  What is important is discerning if my presence here has any detrimental effect on Equestria as a whole beyond my potentially harmful knowledge.”

“Assuming you’re not actually crazy, right?” she finally pointed out that damn metaphorical elephant standing in the middle of the room being fat and obvious.  Screw metaphorical elephants!

“I’m not sure of which I’d rather it be,” I stated honestly with a nod, “But the more I realize I’ve yet to do something out of character for me, the more I’m fairly certain some greater power is just screwing with me.  That said, where do we go from here?”

“Well, the first thing we need to do is start sharing some basic information,” Twilight nodded before picking a nearby bench and lounging onto it, “That will give me enough information to find out whether or not you’re making this up.  So what do you actually look like?  Assuming you’re not a pony.”

“Ummm, actually think of Spike,” I said, instantly grasping the bipedal form of the baby dragon, “Now we’ll try and mold and detail from there.  Hmmm... No tail.  Five fingers instead of four.  Also, instead of scales, humans have soft, smooth, mostly hairless skin that have color tone ranges of pink, orange, brown, white, black and mixtures thereof.  Then instead of those spines on his head, give him a pony’s mane with color tone ranges of black, brown, white, blonde, and darker reds.  Now make him about six feet tall and that’s the basic idea.  I suppose if you wanted to, I could ramble on about how many different ways humans can look but that could take an entire day on it’s own.  I kid you not, as diverse as ponies can get, they really have nothing on humans in how different they appear.”

Twilight blinked, utterly caught off guard at how quickly I was able to answer the question and with such detail before smiling a tad reluctantly, “We’re going to be here a while, aren’t we?”

I sighed with a wistful smile, “It really wouldn’t hurt my feelings.  So what do you want to know?”

And we burned about the next two hours talking about Earth.  Sometimes I simply had to deny her answers, explaining that until I have a better understanding of where I was, I couldn’t risk telling her.  Things such as war, murder, and other grimdark subjects I tried to avoid and would even flatly refuse to approach anything related.  I was surprised that she was not appalled at the fact that humans were omnivores, though I think the fact that ponies were not considered food to the general public was what assuaged her fears on that matter.

I told her of agriculture, the education system, fast food, fashion, automobiles, and even computers.  She thought I was making up that last part until I showed her my smart phone.  I had to take it away from her to get back to the discussion but not before promising to let her look at it later.  I mostly did so to keep her from seeing all the MLP content on it and her end up thinking I was some crazy stalker (Hah!  Aren’t we all?).  I found it particularly amusing that Twilight was utterly floored at how humans could predict the weather based on certain patterns and fronts.  I admit, I don’t know much on the subject, but I explained that even though we don’t control the weather, specialists on the matter allowed humanity to work around it quite nicely with the occasional exception.  And no.  Humans don’t have magic.  We have thumbs which are as close to magic as you can get, in my opinion.

Then I turned the tables on her and had her explain Equestria to me.  How Earth Ponies actually had magic that let them use their hooves and tails as prehensile limbs and were actually much better at it than unicorns, who mostly relied on their horn’s magic for such interaction.  That made sense actually, since I had seen Applejack do lasso tricks with her tail, I silently concluded.  Pegasii were able to use their magic to make themselves lighter, explaining the physics behind such small wings propelling ponies into the air and that the same magic allowed them to directly interact with the weather as well as certain special talents.  Talking about Cutie Marks and names that seemed to pertain to significance towards a ponies special talent took up quite a bit of time in itself.  Twilight assured me though, that a pony was free to choose her special calling, even if it was only subconsciously and that fate would sometimes magically cause such things as names and coloring of one’s mane and coat to reflect that talent.  Sometimes it would even be a hint to help them realize it, but never was a pony’s special talent influenced by their name or colors.  Clear as mud to you, too?

Finally, the interruption came in the form of hay, lovingly served to us by Spike.  I grimaced.  Being a pony does not mean I want to eat hay.  Sorry, even if some pony part of me inside found the hay appetizing, the real me did not and the real me gets the final say.

Twilight looked at the clock, “Oh wow, we’ve been at this for a while, haven’t we?” she laughed a bit before taking a bite out of the hay, “Thank you, Spike!”

Spike smiled at her before looking at me inquisitively, “So... What, aliens don’t eat hay?”

“Nope,” I stated firmly before sighing.  I needed to at least try and be polite, “I will... try it, though.  Just don’t expect me to be blown away.”

With that, I took a chomp and my eyes widened considerably.  It tasted exactly what you would expect hay to taste like.  Big.  Dried.  Grass.  It tasted so bad.  It’s HAY!  I found myself utterly amused by the entire concept of such terrible food eaten just because ponies are supposed to eat it, even though these ponies were obviously superior to the ponies back on Earth and could make the connection of “Hey!  This hay tastes like crap!”  What about hay is so appetizing to these ponies, I asked myself incredulously as I began laughing with my mouth full.  Twilight and Spike stared at me as I literally laughed my way though an entire bite of hay.  I couldn’t help it, it was just funny.  I’m eating hay and even though I’m a pony and I should like it, nothing could be further from the truth.  After swallowing, I shook my head with a chuckle, “That was terrible.  Do you have a kitchen?  I’m sorry, but you guys need to try something with a bit of flavor.”

Spike seemed extremely offended but was cut off by Twilight who obviously was curious to see what would happen, “Of course.  Spike, please show Mister... “

We all sorta let a heavy silence fill the air as we all realized that I had yet to give them my name.  She gave me a hesitant smile and waited for me to supply her with one.

“Well, I can give you a name that I make up to fit in with the ponies... Or I can just give you my real name, which to be honest, really isn’t that exciting to me,” I offered, shrugging somewhat.

“Whichever you prefer, I suppose,” she replied, laughing a tad in response to my nonchalant approach to rather significant details in my life.

“Let’s go with a pony name for now.  Hmmm... Let’s go with something cool and related to fire in some way.  Suggestions Lady and Dragon?” I decided to get a little help.

“Yeah, Hot Air,” Spike said with a smirk, earning a glare from Twilight.  I laughed.  It was pretty clever and to be fair, I had insulted Spike’s cooking.

“How about Firefly?” Twilight gave a helpful smile.

I grimaced.  Dash’s beta name, “Errr... I don’t think so.  Not because it’s a bad idea, but yeah... Trust me when I say that could cause problems and that’s the last thing I want to do.”

“Spitfire?” Spike suggested with a draconian shrug.

“That’s the lead pony of the Wonderbolts,” I pointed out, not sure if they were aware or not, “She might take offense.”

“Well, your Cutie Mark is a fiery shield,” Twilight tapped her chin with a pensive hoof.

“Yeah, but Pinkie Pie’s Cutie Mark is a buncha balloons,” I pointed out instantly, “So really it can be whatever I like, I suppose.”

Twilight gave me a suspicious glance, probably catching onto the fact that she had never mentioned Pinkie Pie or her Cutie Mark, “I suppose so.”

“Bah, I can’t think on an empty stomach,” I said with a huff and got up off the bench, jumping to my hooves rather over dramatically, “Spike!  To the kitchen!  Have you ever heard of Lo Mien?”

“No,” he responded flatly and proceeded to saunter away, leaving me somewhat deflated.  His lack of enthusiasm simply would not do.  As such, I picked him up by his spines and tossed him onto my back, galloping away in the general direction he had aimed for, “H-Hey watch it!”

“Be careful with him, I’ve only got one!” I heard Twilight call out to me jokingly.

“Just sit tight!  You’ll want to see this!” I promised him before spotting the place of business that I had been looking for, “Yessss~!  Now, Spike... I’m going to work incredibly fast.  I need you to keep up.  And I’ll need quick responses on where to find ingredients and cooking utensils.”

“O-Okay, I... I’ll try,” he said, my fervor having dispelled his disinterest and replaced it with hesitant curiosity.

“Good!  First thing I need is a large handkerchief!” I demanded, to which Spike directed me towards a certain drawer that had an assortment of rags, handkerchiefs and pot holders.  I snatched one out, whipped it over my head to help with any sweating or loose hair and tied it tight with a bit of unicorn magic that I didn’t even realize I was using.  To quote a certain white pony with fabulous royal purple hair:  It.  Is (Was). On!

And it was like magic, I tell you.  My mind was set to a task and I simply had to get it done.  Spike was a bit slow at first, but as he caught on, he became more eager to participate and it wasn’t long before I had given him a mixing bowl to work at from his seat on my back while I zipped about the kitchen eagerly.  Then came the fun part.  Because I learned my second fire trick when I suddenly realized that I had to work with a wood stove (No, not a stove made of wood, a stove heated by wood, you goofs!).  I tried to light the wood with the little cigarette lighting trick but that  just wasn’t going to happen.  I barely got one of the corners to flare up red before starting to lose faith.  Finally, I became angry and blew at the small cinder as hard as I could.  What came next was shocking to both me and Spike when I had suddenly spat fire into the dry tinder, instantly setting the wood ablaze.

“Woah!” Spike cried out, “I’ve never seen a fire-breathing pony before!  Or a fire-breathing anything that wasn’t a dragon!”

“Me neither!” I exclaimed, just as blown away as he was until I became distracted with the fact that the fire was not going to be hot enough for what I needed.  With that in mind, I tossed the pan full of doughy noodles up on the stove and began breathing more fire into the fuel.  Within moments, I heard the wonderful sound of noodles frying.

Several minutes later, I had served up Lo Mien!  Slightly inaccurate since a few key utensils were missing but it tasted exactly the same, or so I was hoping.  I felt so proud of myself as I came out pushing a cart adorned in a matching trio of bowls that I was almost skipping like a little girl.  It wasn’t entirely complete, I suppose, but I had taken care to throw in lots of cabbage along with some carrot strips and bean sprouts as well as some makeshift seasoning.  It was so vegan, there was just no way it would be received poorly by my herbivorous friend.

“Bonn Apatite, ma Chere,” I said with a goofy grin, snagging my bowl with my mouth and setting it down before digging in.  Not as good as the authentic stuff, but it was very close.

Twilight must have thought it was the strangest looking stuff she had ever seen because she was very slow to nibble at first before confirming it’s quality with an eager bite.  Spike, having already tested it behind my back (He only thought he got away with it) had no problems digging in right away.

It was when Twilight decided to mimic me and slurp a few noodles from one end into her mouth that she discovered just how messy Lo Mien could be.  For when you do that, the noodles have a tendency to fly up and smack you in the face, leaving the oil and sauce all over your visage, which was exactly the case here.  Snickering, I pulled the handkerchief off my head and wiped the offending spot on her face, earning an embarrassed smile from her.

That was when I met the second pony of the Mane 6, for the door had just burst open and a rainbow colored streak flew in immediately.  I froze.  I was mesmerized.  Moreso than I had been by Twilight.  For you see, this was my favorite rainbow colored streak.  The coolest of the cool.  The fastest of the fast.  Measurable in increments of one-fifth in just how much awesome she brought to the plate.  It was my idol:  Rainbow Dash.

“Twilight, there’s a huge crater in town square!” Rainbow Dash cried before taking in the actual scene, specifically the one where I was serving Twilight lunch and happily cleaning the sauce off her face, “Oh.  Woah.  Hey!  Twilight, did you get a coltfriend!?  That’s so awesome!”

Before you could say, OmigoshOmigoshOmigoshOmigoshOmigosh, Twilight shoved my helping hoof away, blushed brightly, and nearly choked trying to speak through a mouthful of noodles, “Mno!”

I laughed, quite caught off guard by both Rainbow Dash’s question and Twilight’s immediate reaction, “I... wow, that did look compromising!  I promise, though, that’s not the case.  I mean, we haven’t even decided on my name yet.”

“Uh.  What?” Dash was confused, obviously, giving me a sharply suspicious look and flapping up to closely examine me, “Yeah, I don’t recognize you at all.  You new?”

I started to respond, but instead I just kinda stared back at the cyan pony’s plum colored eyes in utter awe as it sunk back in whom I was speaking to.  Let me put things into perspective, for the kids at home:  My Google Chrome is RBD themed.  My Desktop Wallpaper is Rainbow Dash proudly pointing at her chest on a black reflective background.  My smart phone’s background is the sonic rainboom stretched seven panels wide.  My Elemental Shaman on WoW is named RainbowCrash.  My Trillian account avatar is Rainbow Dash flailing her tongue about.  I bought a black T-shirt with the words “RBD:  20% cooler in ten seconds flat!” with her Cutie Mark in a punkish art style in the center.  Are you catching my hint?  Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  Has the damned metaphorical elephant in the room become fat and obvious enough, yet?  Because it’s standing right there.

Translation: I love this pony.

I know I should be ashamed to admit this, yet strangely, I am not.  My awesome day had reached a critical level and there just wasn’t any possible way for to handle anymore any longer.  There comes a point when you simply have to take a break from preposterous amounts of cool, awesome, and general win.

I passed out.  Yeah.  Like a fan girl.

Also, I can tell you from the bruise I would later wake up with, nopony was nice enough to catch my heavy plot.  You cut me deep, Rainbow Dash.  You cut me real deep.

Chapter Two!


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Two: Revenge of the Chapter

Author’s note:  Awesome cutiemark graphic by Wrek.  :)  

A few more author’s notes:  Do not be shy in the comments, let me know if I might be doing something you think is wrong or could be done better. :)  Also, I’m still looking for an artist to draw the protag and am still taking name suggestions (lots of good ones so far)!

Officially looking for proofreaders, as well, so if you’re interested in helping out, please contact me at [email protected]

And this goes without saying, but thanks for reading.  Enjoy!  -Laffy

So upon waking up some undetermined amount of time later, I found myself laying back on the library bench (I guess ponies don’t have chairs) that I had been on before, only slightly more bruised.  I worked my jaw to confirm that my cheekbone had indeed been a trooper and took the fall for what seemed like the entirety of my body, simply because it’s selfless like that.  At the time, though, I wished it had been a little more self preserving and spread the gravitational love around.  What I had wished upon even more was that I had been caught instead of being allowed to dash myself against the hardwood floor like ragdoll.  To be fair, my state of unconsciousness did arrive rather quickly and without warning, but if Rainbow Dash can break the light spectrum and the sound barrier at the same time, she can at least help a pony down gently.

I digress.  This was reflected upon later, because in all actuality I had been overcome with that sensation of disorientation.  You know that awful sensation where you spend the night in an unfamiliar setting and you wake up thinking that how that isn’t your back yard and that you don’t remember planting those trees?  Well, I got that multiplied many times over as I realized this library I was in was particularly cartoony and musty.  Then in ten seconds flat, it all came back to me in a rush that made me once again doubt my claim to sane.  After fast forwarding through the (what I presume to be normal) stages of confusion, shock, horror, awe, and happy, I slid off the bench and called out, “Hello?”

No answer, to my surprise.  Twilight was trusting enough to leave me in her house alone!  I guess ponies didn’t have other pony thieves.  Just Gilda, perhaps?  Regardless, I sighed softly and decided I needed a cigarette.  As I trotted outside, I pulled out a Mareboro and smirked as it just lit itself.  Magic.  It wasn’t going to be hard getting used to this.  Not even kinda.  I took a long inhale as I began taking in the scenery, letting the calming sensation of nicotine set in (one of the few things I do not hate about the damn things) as my eyes wandered about.  Everything was so bright and colorful with an extra dose of pink thrown onto it all.  Now I’m a manly kinda guy that can get away with looking alright in a pink shirt, but still, it was starting to make me wonder if these ponies ever got tired of seeing such colors.  I mean, just how much pink does one need in their life?

Now, I’m not sure if thinking of pink caused it or perhaps some fourth wall power of hers may have triggered the event or if she was just Pony-Superman and always knew when she was needed.  What I do know was that my already incredibly pink world became crammed full of even more pink in but an instant.  With a gasp not unalike that of a vacuum cleaner turning on, a pony of the colors pink and pink zipped right up to my face.

“You must be new!” she looked so ecstatic and curious and pink that I didn’t even have time to let it sink in that Pinkie Pie was in my face’s personal space, “What is that!?”

She pointed at my cigarette with a dramatically extended hoof which didn’t seem possible since she was only inches away from me to begin with.  It was only just then that I realized that the other ponies were just a tad shorter than me.  I figured I must be Big Mac sized or something.

“Um,” I responded in what I hoped wasn’t a stupid way.

“Have you seen the big crater in town?  It’s huge!  You have, haven’t you?” she queried, not taking a single breath during her intense interrogation, “Are you Twilight’s coltfriend?”

“Um,” I said profoundly.

“WAIT!” she yelled suddenly hopping back and crouching down defensively.

I was waiting.  I didn’t know what else to do.  I was still too busy reeling from the pink sensory overload I was experiencing to do anything else, really.  It was as though something obvious had just come over her, though, and everything else needed to stop.  Then she got that look.  Yeah.  The one she gave Applejack.  Narrow blue eyes wreathed in pink suspicion.  I think it had some sort of psychoactive properties because even though I didn’t have anything to feel guilty or anxious about, I began to sweat and panic.

I got brave, “Ye... Yes?”

“Is it true you don’t have a name?” she asked slowly, her narrow eyes focusing intently on mine.

“Uh.  Not really,” I answered honestly.  I wasn’t as brave as Applejack.  I was not going to lie to the eyes that were staring into my soul’s inner child.  Let the silly pony take that risk.

“Awww,” she became extremely put out by this for some reason.  I felt even worse.  I wasn’t even doing anything wrong and I’m still not sure why I was feeling so bad to begin with!  Pinkie Pie must emit an aura of empathic emotion that infects you with what response she deems appropriate, I figured.  Then I realized I was trying to analyze the Pinkus Piehkus before promptly just letting it go.  That was likely one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life.

“W-What?” I asked, my undeserved guilt offset only by my copious amounts of perplexity.

“Twilight told me you didn’t have a name and that you and her were trying to come up with one and I wanted to help and give you a name but you already have one and now I can’t help name you because you already have a name which means there’s no point in trying to give you one!” she explained at rapid speeds before letting out that sigh.  You know the one?  When she thought her friends didn’t like her anymore?  Receiving it in first person pony was horrible.  Heartbreaking was only beginning to scratch the surface of just how much effect it was having on me.

“Oh, uh... That’s still true,” I pointed out, trying to smile in an encouraging fashion, “I do still need a pony name.”

It was like I had fired a concentrated dose of happy right into her bloodstream (which I believe is illegal back home), or so one would have thought due to the excited reaction she displayed (which involved a bounce, squeal, hoofclap, and something else that I’m pretty sure defied even the extremely lenient Equestria-physics laws.  No, I don’t know what it’s called.).  All that mattered to me at the time, though, was that I not be held responsible for another Pinkamena breakdown.  Crisis averted.  Guilt trip evaded.

“What’s your special talent?!” she asked instantly, ready to bequeath me a moniker right on the spot.

“Fire?” I said with a helpless laugh, pointing at the cigarette in my mouth.  Strangely enough, she did not seem put off by the terrible odor.  I was caught fearing she might actually like it and ask for one.  I wouldn’t have given it to her easily, but if her eyes got big and round enough, I’m pretty sure she could have made Hideki Tojo call his planes back from bombing Pearl Harbor.

“REALLY?!” the idea of a fire pony was unbelievably exciting to her, it seemed.  I’ve no idea what she wanted to do with a fire pony such as myself, but I could tell the gears had already begun to rapidly turn within her head.  Sweet Celestia, what had I done?

“Pinkie, we agreed to name him later!” I heard my idol shout from the distance.  We both turned to spot Rainbow Dash lazily doing loops in the direction of the Town Square, “Now c’mon, Twilight said to get him and bring him back, not interrogate him!”

Why on Earth (or Equestria) they didn’t send somepony with more focus than Pinkie Pie (such as Applejack, Rarity, or maybe a small rock) to come get me, I’m not sure but apparently she had taken long enough that Rainbow Dash was also sent.  That suited me just fine.  I didn’t pass out this time, fortunately and was simply overcome with warm inspirational fuzzies instead.  This must be what Rainbow Dash was afflicted with when she met the Wonderbolts.  Stoic quickly interrupted my happiness, bringing me back to Earth Equestria and telling me to stay focused.  I sighed wistfully before turning back to Pinkie Pie.

“Names later.  There’s a party at the crater,” I joked sarcastically, half expecting her to actually believe it.

“A big one!” she agreed with a laugh, tilting her head back and forth with every other syllable, “We were going to name it after you but Blegh!  You ruined it by not having one!  Now we have to call it the No-Name party!”

The fact that she caught onto the slightly subtle joke was more cool than I could reasonably take time to explain.  Suffice it to say, Pinkie Pie was awesome.

“Come! ON!” Rainbow Dash was suddenly behind us, somehow pushing us both along with her head, “Move it, ‘No-Name!’”

Laughing, I began to break into a gallop and got about halfway through my cigarette before I could smell the odor of ash and fading smoke in the air.  As we turned into the Town Square, I was instantly assaulted by a cornucopia of ponies and their colors all staring at a large hole in the ground.  The scorched earth let off a somewhat acrid smoke that made my eyes water the closer we got.  This didn’t seem to bother the ponies so much, I noticed before realizing I was still smoking.  With that in mind, I took a final drag off my cigarette before dousing it on my tongue and stashing it away yet again while every pony was distracted with the crater.  I did not want to draw too much attention to myself, and I’m really not a fan of unfamiliar crowds, human or otherwise.

Now, this crater wasn’t like huge by apocalyptic standards, but it was still big enough that it would almost take you thirty seconds to jog a lap around it so it wasn’t exactly minuscule.  I was just glad that nopony got hurt, it seemed, and that it was too far away from any building to have done damage.  It had just caused a big nasty scar in an otherwise pristine little town.

“Where’s Twilight?” I asked, since she was the pony that had sent for me.

In a display of amazing upper pony strength, Pinkie Pie grabbed me, hoisted me up into the air and yelled out for Twilight the moment she spotted her and Applejack on the far side of the crater.

“Twilight!  Here’s the fire pony!  The one with no name!” Pinkie Pie yelled, shaking me just a tad to help emphasize me.

This caused Every. Single. Pony. to look at me.  Thanks Pinkie.  You’re a champ.  

Since I might as well have been walking around with a big red neon sign saying “I DID IT AND I’M NOT SORRY,” I just shrugged and pulled the cigarette back out (yes, still being waved about in the air).  It didn’t even phase me by this point that Pinkie was holding me up despite being significantly smaller than me.  Pinkie Pie also can outrun Rainbow Dash, break out into a lyrical masterpiece for any reason and knocks on barn doors with her face.  There was really no point in contemplating it.

Twilight facehoofed.  I was betting that she was thinking along the same lines as I was, namely fearing that suspicion would instantly be aimed at me.  Sure enough, I was already getting glares and hearing whispers.  I saw Daisy restraining herself from having a valley girl conniption and spotted Berry Punch who was quick to snatch up Ruby before backing away.  Over Protective Parent Pony to the unnecessary rescue!  Taking her lead, the rest of the ponies began to put some distance between themselves and me.  I was quickly becoming singled out and secluded except for Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash whom had protectively placed herself between us and the other ponies.  It was like the Zecora treatment on crack.  I hate to say it, but I was really not appreciating the reception and many ponies were quickly becoming less endearing to me as the whispers got louder and more brazen.

“Ya’ll ponies knock it off!” Applejack’s commanding voice instantly nipped it all in the bud, causing all ponies to turn to her and Twilight, “That’s no way to treat a guest in Ponyville!  I declare, he ain’t even had a chance to introduce himself and ya’lls gonna start pointin’ hooves at him!  Fer shame, I tell ya!”

Applejack is not a silly pony and would never be so again in my eyes.  With just a handful of sentences, she had changed the entire herd’s mood from suspicious contempt to apologetic shame.  I smiled somewhat, genuinely touched at the fact that she had come to my protection and gave her an appreciative nod as both her and Twilight approached.

“Nice going, AJ” Rainbow Dash said with a laugh, “And here I thought I was going to have to get mean on some ponies!”

“Sure you were, Rainbow,” Twilight said with a mirthful roll of her eyes, “So anyway, Stranger, you... … Pinkie?”

“Yes!” she answered with a bounce, causing me to nearly drop my smoke.  Yup.  Still up there.

“Be a dear and drop our new friend,” Twilight politely ordered.

Why Twilight chose the word “Drop” instead of taking the extra syllables to say “Set him down” instead, I’ll never know.  Pinkie did exactly what she was told, though.  I smacked into the ground betwixt all the ponies hard enough to bounce a little and instantly became somewhat less enamored with both the purple and pink ponies.  At least I had matching face bruises, I told myself with an internal guffaw.

“Pinkie, you...” Twilight facehoofed again before groaning in exasperation, “No.  That’s actually my fault.  I should have seen that coming.  I apologize.”

“It’s cool.  I’ve had worse,” I promised as I got up with a wince, glancing at the crater in question, “So uh... Yeah, I don’t remember doing that.  But to be honest, I just woke up here some few hours ago so anything is possible.  I may have fell out of the sky for all I know.  Oh, thanks for that back there, Applejack.  You too, Rainbow Dash.”

“Uhh.  Sure thing,” they both gave me surprised looks.  Using fan knowledge was not winning me any points, I figured.  I would have to stop that.  Hah!  Yeah, right, I was enjoying the hell out of it.

“Anyway,” Twilight interjected before either of them could ask how I knew their names, “The important part is that either way, you don’t think you did this, right?”

“Nah, not intentionally at least,” I shook my head, politely blowing my smoke away from all of the ponies, “I only just found out how to breathe fire earlier today.”

“Yeah, and it smells terrible,” Applejack threw a hoof over her nose, staring irritably at my cigarette.

“Sorry,” I blushed as I doused it on my tongue, though I won’t lie, it was purely for the reaction I got from everypony (except Twilight who still gave a slight grimace).  They could have asked if I was a wizard and it wouldn’t have been as funny as the looks on their faces.

“Gosh, Ah didn’t mean ya needed t’hurt yerself!” Applejack gawked at me like I was crazy (doesn’t everybody?) as I put it away, yet again in the nothing.

“Apparently fire doesn’t harm him,” Twilight incorrectly speculated, apparently having not believed me when I said I knew how to do that without hurting myself.  The thought had not really occurred to me, though, about being immune to fire.  I began to wonder how the fire got ignited from within or if it did so just outside of my mouth (like I could tell without a mirror!).  Then I remembered that dependable catchall for the implications of both answers:  Magic~!  Whatever pony was the creator of physics here, he or she sure was lazy.

"That's kinda intense," Rainbow Dash's eyes widened at the thought, making me feel more awesome than was healthy for my ego.  

"We're gettin' off the matter at hoof here,” Applejack yanked us back on track pointedly.

“Right,” I concurred with a smirk, “Well, Twilight, do you know of any natural phenomena that would cause this sort of thing in Equestria?”

“Not really,” Twilight said, furrowing her brow inquisitively, “Why, do you?”

“Well, I’ve got a few theories that I’d rather not list off without some evidence,” I said, showing a helpless smile, “I mean, I just don’t want to worry anyone... Err.. Pony.  Anyp-...”

I was rudely interrupted in the middle of my correction by a sinister laugh and a lot of pony gasping.  We all turned back to the crater as the unpleasant chortling magnified in volume and out of the it’s epicenter, the normal-seeming smoke began to turn dark violet and swirl about.  It coalesced into a somewhat pony-shaped cloud of what came off to me as pure evil.  Not exactly easy to literate upon, but there you have it.  Evil Feeling Smoke Pony.

“Returned, have you, human!?” the voice boomed, somehow causing the sky to darken as storm clouds surged forth and blocked out the midday sun.  It was a deep feminine voice filled with malice and self importance.  Typical villain voice, really.

The crowd began to back off slowly at first before sprinting away like a stampede.  Applejack and Rainbow Dash weren’t at all intimidated by the display of power but Twilight did seem a bit apprehensive, intelligent enough to stay cautious.  Pinkie simply tuned her head upside down with one hell of a confused expression.  She later informed me she was trying to look at the cloud a different way to see what else it looked like.  Made sense.  Clouds.  Shapes.  Yeeeaaah...

I, however, wasn’t too bothered by this because I was in Equestria and the only dead thing I saw in Equestria was a couple of fish that Fluttershy had once served some ferrets (she’s quite the killer!).  I hadn’t seen anyone(pony) get seriously injured in my days as a brony or even somewhat injured.  Hence, while I wasn’t going to fling myself in the way of danger, I wasn’t exactly shaking in my hooves.

“Um.  Yeah, I guess.  I was just here a few hours ago, so technically, yeah.  I’m back,” I replied, arching an eyebrow as I tried to resist the urge to smirk.  I’m such a smartass.

“You think to mock me!?” it shrieked dramatically.  Lafter wanted me to laugh at the absurdity of such a question but Stoic was there, reminding me that I didn’t want to piss off supernatural forces without knowing the extent of their capabilities.  Yet.

“Not really, I just don’t get what’s going on here,” I answered truthfully, performing the classic pony shrug, which takes a lot of effort, actually, “Are we being invaded?”

“SILENCE~!” it bellowed loud enough that even I was somewhat startled.

The skies began to ominously thunder as the Evil Cloud Pony floated towards us menacingly.  Now, I’m not one for violence, but this situation was screaming that evil villainous heinous awful deeds were about to take place.  And that was no bueno what with being surrounded by most of my favorite equines.

“That’s far enough, Smokey,” I warned, doing that pony snort that ponies do which caused a bit of fire to flare from my nostrils.  Had I been any less serious about the situation, I might have freaked out at how cool that really is (it’s very cool), but I didn’t.  I held my polka face and began to glare at the cloud.

“Do not presume to threaten me, beast!” it shrieked before suddenly charging us, becoming formless as it did so.

Not one to wait for the first punch to be thrown, I simply breathed fire at it!  I’m fairly certain that didn’t do a damn thing because it wasn’t until a huge shaft of light pierced through the clouded skies that the Formless Wonder actually stopped.  Inside of the light beam, what looked like a big white comet began to plummet down toward us all, causing the beam of illumination to shine even more brightly.


“No!” the Sinister Weather Anomaly snarled as the light began to push the storm clouds away in all directions.  It was actually one of the coolest things I had ever seen at the time, really.  Special Effects budget had obviously been multiplied to accommodate.

“You!” it snapped, causing me to think it was talking to me.  It was kinda formless, I really couldn’t tell what it was looking at.

“Me!” I instantly shouted back.  There I was, again with the smartassery.  

Hurr, it’s not all about me, folks.  The Cumulus Menace zipped forth with a sudden burst of acceleration and kinda just passed straight through Rainbow Dash, whom had, to her credit, nearly dodged it altogether.  It did catch her by her hind legs and tail, though, and began to drag her away.  

“It’s got me!” she exclaimed.  Not to say I’m a cynical jerk, but the first thing to go through my mind was ‘NO, REALLY?’

To avoid the breakdown that losing Rainbow Dash would have caused me, I immediately pounced on her and held on tight with all four legs.  Surprise surprise, it started dragging me away, too.  I obviously didn’t think this through.  Then I felt Applejack grab my tail in her mouth and I looked back to see her dig her hooves in to prevent further abduction while Twilight cast a spell!  I don’t know where she found one that seemed to be pushing Monster Mist away or if she just made it up on the spot, but all that did was reinforce that Twilight was OP in my opinion.

That’s when it had enough and simply grabbed us ALL before taking off, though not nearly as quickly as it was going before.  Even poor Pinkie, who was still turning her head in different ways at the damn thing (I don’t know, I guess it was just the square peg to her round hole?), got hauled away as well.

“Weee~!” she screamed gaily as it soared off with us.  I wanted to remind her that this wasn’t cool and that she should serious up, but then I felt stupid for even thinking of saying that to Pinkie.  I mean, I didn’t even say it and I felt that I was justified thinking that I was a moron.  

Now, that comet was quickly approaching from the sky still, and that seemed to seriously perturb the Great Smokey Abductor.  Unfortunately for it, Purple Cloud Fiend didn’t seem to be able to move so fast carrying five ponies with it.  I can relate, I can’t even move carrying one pony as a human.  Regardless, it tossed Pinkie and Twilight away first before trying to shake me and Applejack off of Rainbow Dash.  I don’t know why it wanted the multi-chromatic pony, but one thing was for certain:  Corrupted Cloud Creep could go get it’s own damn idol and leave mine the hell alone!  I clung to her as hard as I could before I felt a force trying to pry me off but I just wasn’t having any of that.

I heard Applejack say something, her voice muffled by my tail that she was still firmly clamped on to.  Turns out pony tails are very strong and it really doesn’t hurt much to have them pulled on, but I will say having a yanking sensation come from just above your butt still is the MOST AWKWARD! FEELING! EVER!  I rate it right up there past being naked in front of a crowd and getting your bronyism exposed to your long-awaited love-interest way before you’re ready to tell her.  And for the ladies, let me tell you, that last one is hard to handle.  I still get the occasional nightmare.

“What?!” I called out to Applejack, not thinking of the consequences my actions would lead to.

“Ah said, ‘don’t ya dare let go’ah her!’” she instantly responded before getting tossed away as well, her mouth no longer securing herself to my tail.  Yeah, even in the midst of everything going on, a certain half of me almost forgot about the seriousness of the situation on our hands/hooves.  I was that close to laughing my plot off at poor AJ.

“Get... Off...” Rainbow Dash whispered softly, distracting me from my amusement.

My confusion was instantly replaced by anger as I had deduced that the Fog ‘O’ Doom was trying to possess the Fastest Pony in all of Equestria in an attempt to escape that ever nearing comet-like thing (which was starting to get really close, I might add).  I agreed that it was the best logical avenue it had, but that didn’t mean I was about to just give Dashy up without a struggle.

“No!” I yelled, honestly scared now.  I didn’t know what to do, I simply held on as hard as I could, fighting the force trying to pry me off.  Eventually, it got smart and decided to try and possess me instead.  Today was apparently my day for entirely new sensations, because I can honestly say that I nor likely any other human had ever felt anything like it before.  Slowly losing contact with my senses was actually frightening but at the same time, the most soothing experience one could imagine.  It was like going to sleep, only more horrifying (cause sleep is such a bracing event) and even traumatizing.  That’s when I learned about Fire Unicorn Trick #3.  Let’s review, shall we?

Fire Unicorn Trick #1: Light cigarette.  Way more handy and cool than it should be.

Fire Unicorn Trick #2: Breath of Fire.  Can be replicated with a lit match and Bacardi 151.

Fire Unicorn Trick #3: Violently repulse attempts at Evil Cloud Possession on my Person/Pony with the power of fire (I don’t get it either)!  Quite possibly the most unbelievably obscure spell one could have, yet if I had to choose only one right now, this would be it.  Hooves down, yo.

Now I’ve never been rapidly flying through the air only to lose all inertia and momentum in an instant and fall four feet to the ground before, so I can’t describe the sensation other than it was way more nauseating than being seasick ever made me.  How Rainbow Dash was able to blast off and brake at such speeds, I’ve yet to determine, but it didn’t seem to bother her at all.

“Curse you, Human, CURSE YOU!” Mist Of Malice screamed in that disembodied voice before flying off, somehow on fire.  Picture that, if you will; a burning purple cloud.  Physics.  How do they work?

“Woah,” Rainbow Dash said with a groan as we got to our feet, “That was wild.”

“Yeah,” I agreed with a wince, sporting a brand new bruise on my flank.  Equestrian gravity.  Ye be a cruel female dog, “That did it for me, too.”

I decided a Mareboro was in order.  I had earned it, after all, if you took the time to ask my opinion.  As I pulled it out, however, I was suddenly blinded.  Knew this would happen one day, I thought to myself.  No, I’m kidding, my first reaction was actually a helpless cry of shock.  Turns out that comet thingy was her majesty herself, Princess Celestia moving at super speed and she was shining like... Well... The sun.  Specifically right in my face at that particular moment.  I heard Rainbow Dash cry out as well, so I can only assume we got to share the opportunity to bask in her majesty's eye-searing radiance together.  Rainbow Dash, for once, did not make something 20% cooler by being there.  If I had paused to reflect upon that fact, I’m sure it would have blown me away.

“Ow,” I replied evenly, still aware enough to take a drag off my Mareboro as I narrowed my eyes until they were practically shut.  If staring into the abyss was half this intense, I could see why most people would go mad.  I, however, just didn’t feel like it applied to me.  My day was already chock full of craziness and it just kept going up in intensity.  I also reminded myself I might already be insane and that seemed to satiate the urge to freak.

“You’re not one of My Little Ponies.  I’ve never seen a pony like you before, in fact,” she said softly, her regal voice slightly on edge.  I did just save Rainbow Dash, so maybe she wouldn’t smite me out of suspicion.  That would have sucked if she did.  Indeed, it would have ruined my entire day, which, despite everything that had just happened, was still the coolest day in my life by a long shot.

“Well, not to be disrespectful, Princess” I said, still cringing from the light, “But your high beams are about to make certain that I never see a pony like me, too.  Or anything else for that matter.”

“No kidding!” Rainbow Dash agreed, covering her eyes with her hooves.

After a moment, Celestia smirked and toned it down a few thousand lumen.  After blinking several times to clear things up a bit, I smiled up at my second favorite Pony.  Yes, that’s right.  I heart Celestia.  Celestia’s Solar Empire all day long.  Resistance to Celestia is resistance to ponydom and I will never fight the pony power.  I felt that bubbling sensation of awesome fangirlism start to surge up again, but it lost steam halfway in.  Adrenaline was still kinda pumping, after all.

“Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie cried as she sped up to us all, somehow beating Applejack who had quite a head start last I checked, “No-Name!  Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Dash replied with a shrug as I took another drag, stepping away from every pony to avoid blowing smoke on them.  Courteous as always.

“‘No-Name’?” Celestia asked, smiling at me with that one eye thing she does with her hair, “Quite an odd name.  Not from here, are you?”

“What gave me away?” I asked with an innocent smile that squeaked like Fluttershy’s did just before the Quiet Game.  After an immediate double take, I tried to do it again and failed to replicate the sound.  That was going to drive me nuts for a long time.  I’ll tell you now, despite hours of wasted time trying to pinpoint that stupid soundbit’s trigger, I never figured it out.  Saying it was frustrating was an understatement of immeasurable proportions.  To this day, I hate that damn squeak with the heat of a thousand Celestias because of that.

Twilight and Applejack finally caught up to us, Twilight barely able to breathe she was so exhausted next to the barely winded farmer pony.  To be honest, I really couldn’t blame her as I was a smoker and that put me about two places under bookworms/nerds in terms of respiratory stamina.  If you’re wondering, asthmatics are the ones in the middle.

“Princess! *Wheeze~!*  Thank!  *Inhale~!*  Goodness you’re! *Gasp~!*  Here!”  Twilight barked in between breaths.  Just how far we went, I couldn’t tell you, but it must have been a few lightyears from the way she was carrying on.

“Easy there, sugarcube,” Applejack said with a nervous chuckle, “Ah... Er... Thank ya, yer highness.”

“For what, my dear?” Celestia asked with a smirk, tossing me a glance to let me know she knew exactly ‘what’ she was being thanked for.  Not sure why she didn’t just come out with it.  I guess when you get up there in millennia, you kinda take whatever amusement you can get no matter what, which is a philosophy I can get behind if you ask me.  I’d harmlessly troll ponies in my spare time, too!

“Oh.  Fer savin’ Dash and No-Name back there, o’course!” Applejack was oblivious, which was kinda cute in a way.  I was just doing my damndest to resist the urge to point out her mouth malfunction back there.

“That was your fiery little friend here.  ‘No-Name,’ as you called him?” Celestia clarified, giving her wings a shrug.  Seemed the pegasii had an advantage in shrugging.  An unfair one, if you asked me.

“Yeah, well, it wouldn’t have tried to run away if you hadn’t shown up,” I said, kicking at a rock in modesty.  Yeah, I’m not good with well-deserved credit.  Undeserved credit I can soak up all day, however.

“What was... *gulp~*  That thing anyway?” Twilight asked, starting to finally catch her breath.

“That was the Nightmare,” Celestia answered.  I almost expected thunder to crash to help emphasize the revelation, but alas, I was disappointed, “The same one that had corrupted Princess Luna.”

I facehoofed. I knew the voice, I’d seen the pilot, and still, I did not recognize the damn thing when it was in my face, carrying me around all over blue hell.  I let my head and ears droop a bit with the realization that I was a terrible brony.

“Let’s get back to Ponyville,” Celestia suggested.  I expected her to just magic us there but guess what:  Celestia ain’t nopony’s taxi service.  So we had to walk our sorry flanks all the way back.  Except Rainbow Dash, who all but laughed at us the whole way there.  Gratitude at it’s finest.

When we finally arrived at the library, most of us took the opportunity to find places to lay down.  Poor Twilight looked as though she wasn’t going to make it and even Applejack was starting to look a little rundown.  I was fine, surprisingly enough, and so was Dashy and Pinke, which wasn’t surprising at all.  Celestia remained on her hooves, staying somewhat alert in case a certain purple haze decided to return, I assumed.  After having thought about it somewhat, I noticed that Celestia always seemed to be poised to move, no matter what (her diligence was impressive, actually).  I didn’t bring attention to it and decided to break the silence myself as we all made our various colored plots comfortable.

“So, the Nightmare, eh?” I asked, rubbing the back of my neck with my hoof, “I thought Nightmare Moon was just Princess Luna in a bad mood?”

“Hardly,” Celestia said with a smirk as she fondly reminisced, “Luna in a bad mood consists of adorable sulking, four socks, and her favorite comfort foods being brought to her room.  No, the Nightmare is an essence that magnifies negative emotions, indirectly controlling anypony through manipulation and suggestion  What made you think Princess Luna was such a monster, oh nameless one?”

Being on the spot was awkward.  After mentally sorting through a plethora of responses, I settled on a safe one:  A brief shrug.  They accepted that, luckily enough.

“It was after Rainbow Dash,” Applejack said with a snarl, not appreciating her friends being endangered, to which I can completely relate to.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “I think it wanted to use her to escape from you, Princess.  Dash is pretty quick, after all.”

“Indeed.  Had I not been worried about the two of you, I would have continued the chase, but my concern is for the ponies of Equestria,” Celestia declared with a hint of steeled determination.  That’s the kind of Celestia that everyone needs to see.  That Trollestia nonsense would vanish in an instant if everyone met this Alicorn.  I admit, I would miss it if it did, though.

“All I know is that it sure didn’t like No-Name!” Pinkie said with a laugh, rolling over on her bench with a Cheshire grin,  “It was all angry-furiouspants at him and he didn’t even do anything but breathe his fire stick!”

“Seriously,” I agreed with an amused nod, skipping the urge to wonder at just how Pinkie knew what pants were, “That thing was getting all sorts of bent out of shape over me.  It went on like we had already met, even.”

“Wait.  It knew he was a human!” Twilight gasped, pointing at me.  Everyone that wasn’t me looked confused and proceeded to gawk at me (such a popular trend this was) as though it were all my fault.  I was shaken out of my somewhat deep thought process, having realized that Twilight was right.  I had entirely forgotten that it had pointed me out as a human.  To be fair, I’m not unused to being thought of as a human today and I certainly wasn’t then either.

“A what?  Is that like a platypus?” Pinkie asked with an unreasonably huge smile, utterly breaking my train of thought with her locomotive of chaos.

“What’s a human?” Rainbow Dash voiced the more obvious question, her eyes looking me over for any great differences between myself and other ponies.

I found myself wishing for a cigarette (addicted remember?) before just sighing impatiently, “I’m a human.”

“No, you’re a unicorn, silly!” Pinkie Pie said with a laugh, bouncing over to me spontaneously and honking my nose.  It was like she was purposefully trying to stop me from thinking.  Pinkie Pie, destroyer of all things sensible.

Celestia approached me and I looked up at her with a blank stare as Pinkie stepped aside.  She then began to let off a shimmering green shine all over before looking down past me.  I didn’t understand at first, but upon looking following her gaze, I realized that the shadow being cast by me wasn’t the correct one.  Curiously, I got up off the bench and gazed at Twilight’s extraordinarily clean floor, spotting not a unicorn’s shadow, but my own.  My human shadow.  I checked my ashen hooves to make sure I was still a unicorn and that nothing had changed (which I’m somewhat ashamed to admit I was relieved nothing had).  Twilight, being the observant gal she is, noticed right away and pointed out the mismatching shadow to the others, causing a myriad of shock-related reactions among them.

“That’s slightly bizarre,” I admitted, silently wondering just how scary that looked to all of them.

“So, No-Name,” Celestia said, suddenly not so soft and cheerful, “What’s a human?”

I looked back to see the Princess and the other ponies all staring at me like I was from outer space.

I ran a hoof down my face in frustration.  Really though, I should have been getting used to that.

Chapter One!                                                                        Chapter Three!        


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Three:  Return of the Chapter

Author’s Note:  Props to Ice Storm for images per chapter! :D  THIS PHONE IS LYING TO ME!

Author’s Note:  If you notice, while the writing style is mostly the same, there are perspective differences in each chapter.  This is intentional, mostly to see what reactions are invoked from readers and what gives me the most to work with without taking away from the story.

Also, thank you for the overwhelmingly large response on proofreaders and artists.  I didn’t respond to everyone (there were quite a few) so if you didn’t get an email from me, please don’t take it the wrong way, I simply took what I needed and no more. :)

“I don’t suppose this can wait?” I asked hopefully.  That was the incorrect answer, if you could believe that.

And it all went downhill from there.  I kid you not, my anxiety was hitting levels that my dad and his belt couldn’t have brought out of a younger me in a million years.  Regardless, remember those two plus hours I spent with Twilight Sparkle talking about humans and stuff?  Yeah, it was like that, only I was looking at the business end of Celestia’s horn the entire time.  She was careful at least, avoiding the rough stuff as I had done earlier.  I don’t think she knew what to think of everything I said about technology, but she reasoned out that there had to be a structure that we built our lives around and technology was a pretty solid foundation to work off of.  I was able to keep the subjects relatively tame for a very long time.  Much longer than I thought I could, to be honest, thanks to her mercy but alas... Such a luxury did not last.

It was then she pulled off the soft-knit socks (they don’t have gloves, don’t forget) and decided to slice into some of the juicier details.  I can’t remember exactly how we got to the subject itself, but I believe it was something about order and stability enforced by men and women with badges and uniforms, which led to lawbreakers, which led to jails, which piqued her interest a lot more than I would have expected.  Sweet Celestia, please have mercy, on me.  No, really.  I’m begging here.

“So this jail you speak of... It’s where one is put when they do not obey the law of your land, correct?” Celestia started, watching the ‘Aw-Shit’ look wash over my face like a bucket of cold water, “But not just any crime.  More serious ones.”

I gulped.  You’ve no idea how much I needed a cigarette all of a sudden.  I had just HAD one, too!  I glanced at the other ponies.  I guess my less-than-cool composure did not reassure anything about me to them because they certainly weren’t jumping in to save me!  In all fairness, I would have been curious as hell, too.  Problem was, I was convinced she was going to ask me the details on how to get sent to jail.  You know.  Murder.  Theft.  Extortion.  A few examples among many many others, none any nicer.  And she was going to ask me in front of all the innocent ponies!  That, Daisy, is something to grab your face and scream about.

I could see it already.  Rainbow Dash becomes a pimp and starts the red light district on the south side of Ponyville.  Twilight becomes the kingpin and organizes ponies into structured crime, employing Pinkie Pie as her chief drug dealer and a scary one at that.  Rarity loses her shop to Twilight when she can’t pay protection costs, so she becomes a strip dancer at Applejack’s new bar and Fluttershy, devastated by everypony’s fall from grace, would become a regular patron and alcoholic.  I’m not sure what it says about me that I was able to think all that up in mere moments, but I’m rather certain it doesn’t say anything good.

“Now, keep in mind my nameless little pony,” she murmured, her eyes cutting right into mine.  It was like Pinkie Pie all over again, only I was pretty sure it was going to be much worse if I gave the wrong answer, “If you lie to me, I will know it.”

Let me sum up my oh so profound musings at the moment:  Fffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuu...

“Have you ever done anything to be placed in one of these jails?” she asked, her entire body tensing for the possibility of action.

And I nearly fainted with relief.  I inhaled deeply as the tingling sensation of safety suddenly fluttered about all over me.  You put that in a cigarette, and you’ll be a millionaire in no time.

“No, Princess,” I said with a grateful smile, “The few laws I broke were either accidental or extremely minor misdeeds called misdemeanors.  I’ve never hurt anyone or anything without just cause and I certainly don’t want to see anypony here harmed.  You’ve no idea just how much it would hurt me to see that happen.”

Celestia stared at me through that one revealed eye of hers for several seconds.  Just as I started to have another internal panic attack, though, she smiled quite warmly, sending me back into relief euphoria.

“I’m glad to hear it,” she said with a smile, “Now, about your name...”

“HOORAY! IT’S TIME TO NAME NO-NAME!” Pinkie Pie launched herself at least eight feet in the air.  Apparently, she was waiting for this part with abated breath.  Not sure why.  Was it really that important?

Applejack suddenly blushed, looking quite embarrassed, “Ya’ll mean No-Name ain’t his real name?  An’ here I thought he just had a coupl’a weird folks!”

You’ve no idea, AJ.  You just don’t.  My parents have... … No.  I’m not going to start that rant.  We’ll be here all day and even if you’re not on a time budget, I’ve got things to do.

Spike interrupted it all by bringing out a new load of Lo Mien, passing out a bowl to each of us.  Now let me be the first to clear the air.  Spike’s done some dumb things in his life, which we can all say is true about each of us.  Stupid, however, is not a trait you can attach to him.  He saw me cook this stuff once.  And I didn’t stop to explain anything to him, he just watched as best he could.  On his own, he recreated the recipe and the quality made mine look like Burger King sitting next to a four-star formal attire dine-in.

“Spike, this is new!” Celestia exclaimed, giving the food an odd look, as did everypony else until they noticed me and Twilight tear into it like a couple of ravenous barbarians, “W... What is it?”

“Lo Mien,” he said with a shrug.  Spike is rather dry when he’s in his work mode, I noticed, “The nameless wonder there showed me how to make it.  Alien or not, he’s given me that.”

“It looks like worms!” Applejack declared with a queasy look upon her face, “Ah mean, Ah know they ain’t but... Ugh.”

“Oh, so they’re NOT worms!” Pinkie was suddenly overcome with relief and immediately shoved her face into her own bowl.  That was the last I saw of her serving, because her head didn’t come out until it was gone.  I mean that dish was clean enough to put back up by the time she was finished with it.

Celestia finally gave it a try and was instantly hooked.  Oh yeah.  Spike’s the man, and I was man by proxy.  That’s what I keep telling everyone.  We made pointless small talk for the next hour or so, my name having been completely forgotten about again (For those of you on the edge of your seats, yes, I did eventually get one.  Chill.).  It was kinda surreal actually, once I began to think about it.  We had faced a pretty intense and potentially life-changing situation back there, but they were either that naive or were just troopers and weren’t letting it get to them.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell, but their comfort levels increased my comfort levels like some card game multiplier so I was pretty okay about the whole thing.  Maybe this kinda stuff happened all the time and Hasbro was just missing all the good stuff, I wondered.

Then I started wondering if this was all being recorded by Hasbro which sent me into an internal paranoia fit.  What if my boss saw me ponying it up in Equestria and fired me for not showing up for work?!  … … Yeah, I was getting way ahead of myself, to be sure.  As was a policy in my life, I decided to let it go and play it by ear.  

Worst case scenario #1:  I go back home and enjoy my relatively simple and generally enjoyable life.  

Worst case scenario #2:  I’m stuck in Ponyville. (I mean... THE HORROR, right?)

“I’m breaking for a smoke,” I announced as I took to Twilight’s balcony, letting them all chat it up as I got some fresh air.  When I stepped out, I was met with a night sky and a flankload of confusion.  I pulled out my smart phone to check the time.  

8:32 pm

Now, I don’t want anyone to believe I’m crazy and think I argue with inanimate objects all the time but my first reaction was ‘NO, IT’S NOT!’  I hadn’t even been here for eight, much less nearly fourteen hours!  And my battery was full!  And I had five bars of Internet signal!  Why I had Internet, I’ll never know.  Equestria was blowing my mind on levels that I didn’t think were even remotely shakable.  Eventually, I ended up blaming Pinkie Pie for it and moved on.

I shook my head in disbelief, put away the phone, and snagged a cigarette before pausing, a thought having occured to me.  I pulled the box out and was struck with absolute JOY when I opened it up to see it was still full sans one cigarette.  I think I heard a chorus of angelic pegasii.  Magical cartoon world had advantages, everyone.  Big ones.  Never ending box of smokes. That’s huge, for all you non smokers.  You just don’t know.  You just don’t.  I smiled as the cigarette lit itself and leaned onto the railing a bit, relaxing for the first time in the entire day.  Confound these ponies!  They drive me to exhaustion!

“How about some company,” I heard Celestia’s voice behind me.  I didn’t bother shutting the door so I had not heard her approach.  It wasn’t like I was wasting AC, right?

“Sure,” I consented, not bothering to look back, “Maybe you can help sort a few things out.”


“I would be happy to try,” she responded softly.

She just came out and stood there by me.  I started to speak, but I found that I just didn’t know where to start.  Thankfully, she understood.  I mean, how often do you find yourself dropped amongst your favorite fantasy idols, dramatically altered in form, and thrust into an adventure all in one the same morning?  If you say more than once in a lifetime, I envy you.  Because all things considered, this was still better than getting a personal shout out in the second season!

“What’s wrong?” her voice was full of concern.  Motherly, even.  Like Mother Teresa, only much more magical.  And cool.  In fact, I’m pretty sure pony makes everything cooler.  And you know exactly just how much cooler, too.

“I’m just trying to think of where I can start,” I admitted, shaking my head with a sigh.  The list of questions wasn’t long but each one was of equal importance.

What was the Nightmare?  

How did it know I was human?  

Why did it think it knew me?  

What brought me here and why?  

Was I endangering the ponies by being here?

Why do I have fire related powers?

Where the hell were Rarity and Fluttershy?  ( Like I said.  Equal importance.)

“You’re troubled,” she stated.  She didn’t ask.  She could tell.  I’d say that was creepy, but I’m fairly certain you learn to pick up on damn near everything after the seventh century or so.  Or not?  Hell, I’m not immortal, I’m just guessing.  How many immortals do you know?  Yeah.  Shut up.

“Eeeyup,” I confirmed, channeling my inner Big Macintosh before taking a long drag off my cigarette and letting it out with a sigh.

“The Nightmare?” she pried just a bit, taking the liberty of blowing the smoke away with a flap of her wings.  Smoker’s code 101:  Go where people aren’t if you’re going to smoke, especially if they ask.  If they follow you as you smoke, they lose all rights to whine about it.  Except Rarity.  Rarity is allowed to whine, as she has made an art of it and it’s a thing of beauty to witness.

“Among other things, but yeah.  That’s one of the bigger ones,” I answered, staring up at the moon with a pony shaped landscape.  I’m fairly certain we need to find a way to get a pony’s head on our moon.  I was pretty jealous of the Equestrian one and the only answer is Lunar terraforming (Or landscaping.  Whichever.  Not picky.) one onto ours.  So whoever might have the influence into getting that underway, I would appreciate it.

“Tell me about it,” she said softly, casting a quick spell to create a breeze that sent my smoke downwind of her.  Clever alicorn is quite clever.

“Well, it’s just... I don’t know where to start, Celestia,” I huffed as the soft wind picked up my mane and gently let it list to and fro.  Wind in my hair was always a great feeling for me and this helped me to become strangely at ease with confiding in the royal pony, “I mean, I don’t come from a world like this one.  I come from, what I feel I can reasonably call, a balanced world.  There’s a lot of good, a lot of evil, and a lot of stuff in the grey area.  But not here.  It’s all clear cut here.  It’s so surreal, it goes entirely against everything I know.  Not to mention the very science of everything!  I’ve been here less than twelve hours and it’s gone from dawn to late in the evening.  So after the entire day, I’m still not certain that I’m not having just a crazy dream.  Don’t pinch me, by the way.”

“It’s not to your liking,” she deduced from my attitude.

“No,” I shook my head, taking a quick puff before continuing, “I love it.  It’s amazing.  I feel like Fluttershy when she first met the forest critters.  It’s blown my mind.  I mean, I didn’t have a terrible life back home, but being here is just cool.  Do you know how many people would commit atrocities just to be in my place right now?  Well, probably not many actually, but they’d go as far as their consciences would let them, no doubt!  Hell, I’d fight for this opportunity!”

“But... Why?” she was genuinely confused.  I don’t think I was reassuring her at all.  Hey, she asked (No, she didn’t.).  I was just being honest, right?

“It’s... hard to explain,” I said with a sigh, “I could try and elaborate for hours and it still wouldn’t make any sense, most likely.  Suffice it to say, Equestria may not know of Earth but that’s not the case, the other way around.  And a lot of humans ADORE the ponies of this world.  But also, a lot of humans don’t.”

“Your race must be very exploratory to have breached such a gap between our worlds on such an account,” she mused mirthfully, smiling at me like a mother would at someone else’s cute child.  That was a welcome change, actually.  Tired of ponies looking at me like I had a third, independently-roaming eye.

“I’m pretty sure my being here had nothing to do with humanity,” I confessed with a laugh.  That was the last thing Equestria needed.  Not saying humans were evil, but I don’t think a non-brony could have brought anything to the table for Ponyville, “I’m pretty certain it was something here, Princess.  I just don’t know what.”

“Would you like to ask any questions?” Celestia offered politely, tilting her head with a smirk.

I had to stop myself from asking if there were there any pony-physics professors accepting students, but figured it would only kill my already suffering mind.  After a moment of reflection, I nodded at one that I felt needed to be addressed.

“Sure, what do you know about the Nightmare?” I lazily put one leg up on the railing and braced it up to allow me to lay my chin on my hoof as I turned to face her.

“Not much,” she admitted, killing my hopes with a two-word combo.

“Oh,” I said with a bit of a frown, taking another drag off my cigarette since it was already there, “Well, worth a try.”

“But I know someone who does,” she said in a matter of fact tone.  I blinked, not understanding at first.  Just as I asked, she nodded her head out at the sky.  Still not fully caught up, I took her lead and looked back out at the sky before getting a rush of DUH in my face.

The moon.  Princess Luna.  She had spent a thousand years with the Nightmare.  She would know it best, naturally.  I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’ve not even known my sister for twenty years and I can read her like an open book. And that’s including us not even sharing the same body (Thank god!).

“Princess Celestia,” I started, biting down on my cigarette somewhat before letting a determined smirk creep along my face, “You are a genius.”

“Oh, I’m sure you would have figured it out on your own,” she replied, shrugging her wings modestly, “Luna should be waking up any moment now, so we can leave as soon as you like.”

I’m a grown man, but I’m not above puppy-dog-eyes pouting over certain things.  My Little Pony is one of those things.  Pride doth not cometh beforeth the pony.  So pout I did, which had a remarkably shocking effect on Celestia.  Note to self:  Celestia does not like to see unhappy ponies, even if they’re humans deep down.

“I’ll be able to come back to Ponyville, right?” I asked, fearful I might be stuck in Canterlot for a while.  I didn’t have a mirror, but I’m pretty sure my eyes were as big as saucer plates.  Any more moisture and the tears would have been rolling, no doubt.

“Of course!” she reassured me with a laugh, which sent me back into relief land, where naught but the most comforting feelings roam.

“Then let’s motor!” I declared, flicking my cigarette with a grin.  I paused.  I looked back over the balcony, looked back at my hand hoof (that is so hard to remember not to do), and resisted the need to bite something for letting reality mess with my brain yet again.  How I flicked that cigarette without fingers, I’m not sure, but it was definitely a flick.  I caught sight of it spinning off into the distance just before it hit the ground.  I was forming the suspicion that Equestria as a whole was just screwing with me by that point.

“Motor?” Celestia asked, arcing her unhidden eyebrow.  Right.  Ponies don’t have cars.  Except for that one Applejack toy with the Twilight cardboard cutout in the back (that still blows my mind when I think about it.  I mean, what the hell does one need a Twilight Sparkle cardboard cutout for, anyway?).  I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count, though.

“Never mind,” I waved her off, replacing it with something more appropriate, “Let’s make tracks.”

I hopped back down to the ground floor, genuinely excited to get some light shed onto my situation.  I’m pretty sure Sun Tzu didn’t mention anything about ponies in his Art of War, but he did say that knowing one’s enemy and knowing one’s self would pretty much assure victory for Equestria.  I may have taken a few liberties, there.  Either way, I wanted to be as ready as possible for that stupid cloud and this would help me get there.

“Hey guys, I’m going to Canterlot tonight, but I’ll be back!” I exclaimed as I rushed back out to the center room of the Library.

Shhhh~!!!

Everypony looked back at me with a shush from their respective benches.  Almost everypony, that was.  Rainbow Dash waved at me from her perch on one of Twilight’s empty shelves before lazily pointing at Applejack, who was already out like a light.  She was greedily taking up an entire bench, lounging on it upside down.  She was snoozing peacefully with one of her legs occasionally kicking at what I can assume was a non-existent apple tree.  You know, like a dog does sometimes?  Only dogs wish they were that cute.  Because they aren’t.  Not even close.  Even recalling this causes me to seize up with just how adorable that was (HHHNNNNNGG!).  After resisting the cardiac arrest of cute and the diabetic shock of sweet, I toned it down a tad, wiping the sweat off my brow.  You may think I’m exaggerating, but I nearly died then and not a single pony would have understood.

“So, Canterlot,” I repeated, keeping it down with a smile.

“What for?” Twilight asked as Pinkie Pie decided to get up and slowly sneak over to Applejack.

“We’re going to talk to Princess Luna about the Nightmare,” I informed her as Celestia caught up, “We figure she’ll know a few things.”

“Not a bad idea,” Twilight said with a nod, her face turning to one of horror as she caught Pinkie Pie out the corner of her eye, “Pinkamena Diane Pie!”

I looked over to see Pinkie Pie holding a paint brush in one hoof, a painting palette in the other, a beret on her head, and a thick curled faux-moustache on her snout.  She looked back at us with a happy grin, jerking her tail back and forth in anticipation.  I wouldn’t have stopped her but that was just me.  I was too curious to see what she was going to paint onto AJ’s poor sleeping form.  Twilight, however, was the mom of the group and took control with an iron hoof!  Pinkie shenanigans would not be tolerated!

“You put that down and let AJ sleep!” she commanded through her teeth, to which Pinkie’s ears drooped unrealistically low.

“I’d offer for you to come with, Twilight, but uh,” I nodded at Pinkie with a smirk, “Somepony obviously can’t be left alone without supervision.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she replied with a shrug (to clear the air, it takes a certain kind of head movement to convey a shrug without hefting one’s hooves off the ground.  As weird as this might sound, that likely sated the curiosity of many a brony!), “I’m happy to stay here.”

“You go on if you want, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash said as she floated down off one of Twilight’s shelves, smirking softly, “Me and Spike can keep the Pink Menace under control.”

I snorted at the incredulity of that remark.  Fat chance, Dashy.  I glanced over to see Pinkie yawn loudly before smiling over at us like a maniac.  I think she was trying to act innocent.  I also think she failed to sell it!

“You don’t think I can?” Rainbow Dash gave me a challenging smirk.

“One day, maybe,” I replied with a soft raspberry, (Hee!  I raspberry’d Rainbow Dash!) “When you can manage to actually outrun her.”

She didn’t think that was very funny.  I did.  That’s what mattered, deep down.

“No, really, I’m fine,” Twilight insisted, interrupting the upcoming argument, “I actually want to stay and study that crater to learn anything I can from it.”

“We shouldn’t be long,” Celestia pointed out, “A day or so.  Perhaps not even that.”

“What about No-Name’s name!?” Pinkie suddenly remembered, not pleased with the idea that it would be put on hold, “We were going to make a game out of it!”

“Tough Kitty Toenails, Pinkie.  We’ll hash it out next time.  Promise,” I swore with an encouraging smile.

“But... But...” she protested softly out of consideration to Applejack before rearing up on her back legs to flail her hooves about, emphasizing her frustration.  I had to look away.  Ponies were packing excessive amounts of adorable into a single quarter hour and I’m not sure how much more I could have handled, but I got the impression it was smaller than a bread box.

“Don’t worry about it, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash reassured her with a wink, “The Princess won’t name him.  We’ll be fine.”

“Okey Dokey Lokey,” she responded, particularly deflated at the moment.  I chuckled and gave her a hug, which seemed to help improve her mood considerably.  I’m not going to bother explaining how pony hugs work.  It wasn’t like that spinning trick Pinkie and Twi did in that one episode, and it’ll just sound awkward if I try to explain it.  Just accept the fact that it was a hug and move on.

“I take it you’re leaving right away, Princess?” Twilight asked Celestia as I disengaged from Hug Pony Maneuver #2.

“As soon as he’s ready,” she confirmed with a nod, “Do you want to give me your friendship report before you leave?”

I’m not sure where I found a quill, ink, and paper so quickly, but I did.  I kinda blocked out everything but the event that was about to take place.  I set them down by Twilight.

“Please, write it out,” I was in PERFECT control of my voice, if you could believe that.  It wasn’t even remotely easy, but I managed it, “I’d like to keep a copy.”

You could have run a nuclear power generator’s current through me and it wouldn’t have excited me even half as much.  I think I began to hyperventilate a tad once she picked up the quill with a smile because for the umpteenth time, everypony started to stare at me like I was crazy.  And I was.  Crazy with joy.  It kinda left me numb all over as I focused every single sense of mine on Twilight and that damn quill.

“And... And read it aloud,” I think my voice was a whisper.

Twilight’s expression told me she was doubting my mental health.  That didn’t matter to me at the time, just as long as she began to write and enunciate that friendship report.

No, I’m not going to write it out for you.  It’s mine.  If you want one you can go get your own!  THIS FRIENDSHIP REPORT IS SPECIAL!  IT’S MINE YOU D

Due to the interference of a certain annoying pony, I’ve been pressured into giving you that which belongs solely to me.  Your gratitude had best be unending.  I will know if it isn’t.

Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that there’s always more to a pony than meets the eyes.  Even knowing that, though, one shouldn’t hold their secrets against them.  Suspicious though it may seem, assuming the worst is a quick way to a bad start.  I was treated with the opportunity to meet the strangest pony ever and even though his eerie knowledge, as well as the lack thereof, about many things set me off guard at first, I can honestly say that he’s already left his mark.

If I had done as many ponies had soon after and suspected him of being the cause of a frightening event in our town, I would not have had the chance to let him enrich my life the way he did in only a single day.  Not to mention I might have lost one of my best friends, and thankfully, I don’t have to know what that is like.

All in all, I can safely say that everypony deserves that first chance and likely more than that!  I can also say with complete certainty that, even though we’ve yet to name him, I’ll never forget him.  I can only hope that everypony else is able to benefit from ponies such as him as well.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle

P.S.  Please tell him to stop shaking like that, I’m about to bust out laughing at him.

I may or may not have been trembling like a little kid watching his favorite scene in his favorite movie.  We’ll never know for sure, I guess.  I also might have been curled up listening to it like a bedtime story.  Mysteries that will never be solved, no doubt.  I will admit to manly tears, though.  Because that’s exactly what they were.  You couldn’t have refined the manliness out of them because that’s what they were composed of in their entirety!

“No-Name,” I heard Celestia say with a chuckle, “Stop shaking like that, please.”

I just want everyone/pony to know, I did try to stop my hypothetical shaking that we’ll never know really happened or not, but it would seem I had theoretically failed.

“You can have the original if it makes you happy?” Twilight offered, rolling it up with her unicorn magic and floating it my way.  I got those silver sparkling stars around the edge of my vision.  For those of you that don’t know what those are, those are an early warning sign of losing consciousness.

“No-Name really liked your Friendship Report, Twilight!” Pinkie Pie pointed out yet another damned metaphorical elephant in the room.

“A little too much if you ask me,” Rainbow Dash whispered with a laugh.  I had almost forgotten why everypony was being so quiet.  Adorable Applejack.

In all honesty, folks, I was just glad they weren’t asking why I was making such a huge deal out of it.  That would have been difficult to explain.  Like, why-are-you-in-my-backyard-watching-me-change-clothes difficult.  I gently reached out and took it with my mouth before stashing it away in the nothing.  I immediately pulled it back out to make sure I could take it out whenever I wanted.  I swallowed with quite possibly the biggest grin in my life, only to have it challenged when the goodbyes see-you-laters came next.

“T-Thank you,” I said, getting back to my hooves, a tad shakily, “Sorry, that was just awesome.  I need a cigarette.”

“On our way,” Celestia offered as I smiled up at her, “Say farewell to No-Name, everypony.  And think of a name while we’re gone, if you don’t mind.  If we don’t get him one soon, we’re going to get stuck thinking of him that way!”

“See ya, No-Name!” Pinkie enthusiastically bonked her head right into mine.  Yeah.  It hurt.  Not her.  Just me.  I saw cartoon stars, which annoyed me, actually.  I didn’t need some frigg’n stars to let me know that my head hurt like it had just been smacked with a waffle iron!

As I recovered, I turned to see Rainbow Dash smiling at me with an upraised hoof and a smirk, “Don’t take too long, No-Name.”

I brohoof’d Dashy (SO AWESOME!).  Yeah.  That was epic.  I’ll spare you the details, I’ll just say that if my smile had gotten any larger, the top of my head would have fallen off.  It earned me a whole new set of crazy stares, but I was finally starting to learn to ignore those.

“Take care, Stranger,” Twilight said with a smirk, “And good luck.  Try and see if you can’t talk Princess Luna into visiting some time.”

I gave a hoof salute with a nod as I turned to Celestia.

“I’ve been trying for quite some time but she’s quite the recluse,” her sigh was actually not something I’m used to hearing from her.  She’s always the smart, optimistic and benevolent ruler that always sees the best in every situation, you know?  Totally made me forget about my cigarette.

“Well, if anyone can shake things up for her, it’s an alien pony with a tendency to lose his mind over anything!” Rainbow Dash said with a laugh, hoofing me in the shoulder hard enough to leave a bruise.  What was it with Equestria and bludgeoning me at every turn?!

“Ow,” I replied, rubbing the spot with a whine, “Quick, Celestia.  Let’s escape before the friendship gets truly dangerous.  It’s already started to directly assault me.”

With that, we said the last of our goodbyes and slipped out .  It would be a lie if I were to say I wasn’t already missing them four steps from the door.  It was kinda painful knowing deep down I might be leaving for my home any point in the future, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to let that spoil my time with the ponies.

Just before I could ask about how I was going to fly to Canterlot, Celestia cast a spell to summon her amazing Sky-Carriage of awesome.  I didn’t even wait for her say so, I just hopped onto it and did a small spin, ready to get this show on the road.  Sky.  Whatever.  She gave me a smile to let me know I was still on the endearing side of ridiculous and not annoying (yet).

As we flew, I found myself thinking about Twilight’s Friendship Report.  She was so trusting of me, having not known me for an entire day even.  What was said in the report was true, but at the same time, I found myself asking just how often did I not give someone that second and first chance.  I know I always felt justified not giving away my trust so easily, but if I had met me instead of Twilight at the Library, the me that arrived would have been having a much rougher time.  

The wind began to pick up my mane as the Sky-Carriage accelerated, which caused me to zone out somewhat and slowly push my concentration off the subject.  I forced my mind to stop wandering randomly and focused on the fact that everypony (Or the ones that mattered anyway) was so trusting of me.  Surely they had more reasons to not be so indulging, did they not?  I decided to inquire, rather than keep silent about it.

“Celestia,” I murmured for her attention, which she readily gave with a yawn.  My guess was she wasn’t used to staying up so late.  Then again, if the days were less than twenty hours like they seemed to be, that made perfect sense.

“Yes?” she replied with a smile, tiredly looking my way.

“Ponies are so giving and kind,” I said, narrowing my eyes, “Everyone I met today was enough to affect my life by themselves.  Having met and been around them all, though... I just don’t see how you could come to trust me so freely.  I mean, I could have been a carnivorous beast that had the magic to disguise itself as a pony!”

“Indeed, you might have been,” Celestia said with a smile, obviously not taking the idea very seriously.

“So why did you trust me?” I asked.

“Because Twilight trusted you,” she answered simply, shrugging her wings.  That just wasn’t fair!  Not even slightly fair!

“Why did Twilight trust me?” I pressed, too curious.

“My little pony, do you think Twilight foolish?” she asked, smirking at me as though I were a child.

“Well... No?” I really didn’t.  I wouldn’t have gone to her if I thought she was, obviously!

“Do you trust her judgement?” she was asking as though she already knew the answer.  And she did.  Fffffpppt~!  Know-it-all.

“I... I guess so?” Yeah, I knew where this was going.

“Does that answer your question?” she said with quite possibly the smuggest grin on her face.  I almost submitted to the urge to call her Trollestia to her face.  No, I’m not that stupid, don’t bother asking if I did.

“Okay, okay, point taken,” I said with a sigh, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it with my grumpiness, “Do you ever get tired of being right?”

“Sometimes I try to think about what it would be like if I was,” she replied, her sarcasm spurring my urge to laugh.

“That must seem so silly,” I said with a chuckle, taking a relaxing pull off my Mareboro.  It was good.  And I hated it for being so good.

“Indeed.  ‘What that must be like!’ I keep thinking to myself,” she said, laughing softly before letting it trail off, “Truthfully, though, my nameless friend, I am wrong quite often.  I simply wait until I know I am right to take action.  It’s very difficult to think with that sort of patience, but I’ve had a long time to get used to it and it has paid off many times.”

“That’s pretty admirable,” I replied with a nod before spotting Canterlot in the distance.  Wow, it really wasn’t that far away at all, I thought to myself before continuing, “It always was quite a sight.”

“You’ve seen it before?”

“I’ll have to sit everypony down one day when I know it’s safe and explain just how I know everything I know,” I answered with a nod, “Until then, just assume that I can read your mind or something.”

“Oh, I already know you can’t,” she said with a slight titter.

“Of course you do,” I don’t even know why I bothered, sometimes!

Chapter Two!                                                                        Chapter Four!                


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Four:  Son of Chapter

Author’s Note: WHY IS THIS TEAPOT SO DELICIOUS?!  ICE STORM IS TO BLAME! ALSO I AM ADORABLE!  New fan art on the Front Page by Wrek!  Check his Deviant Art Page!  johntb.deviantart.com As for the Chapter itself, it was so easy to let this one flow out.  It was like the singin’ of f***in’ angels.  But for reals, this one I think I did awesome on.  Don’t be shy to comment, I read every last one of them. :3

“Built upon the backs of slave ponies!” I exclaimed as we entered the palace.  I am so witty.

“What?  Of course not!” Celestia seemed appalled by the idea, having not caught the joke (or she just did not find it funny in the least), “This was built by the same pegasi that built most of Cloudsdale, not slaves!  Everypony is a free pony in Equestria.”

“Seriously?  The Cloudsdale Pegasi built this?  And the great Rainbow Factory?” I asked, this time keeping the joke to myself.  o/` Where your fears and horrors come true~! o/`

“The very same,” she replied with a smile as we went down into the ballroom, “Please, wait here whilst I go fetch Princess Luna.  Provided she’s not locking herself up in her room again.”

“She do that often, or something?” I was starting to have my doubts about this.  I mean, I knew squat about Luna, deep down.  Fan fic info just doesn’t count, sadly.

“Yes, lately,” Celestia admitted, her eyes (I’m assuming both anyway) were downcast, “When we first escaped from the Nightmare, she was quite lively, but every day she seems just a little less inclined to do anything outside of her usual duties.”

I nodded.  It sounded like your run-of-the-mill residual emotional damage from a horrific event, “Traumatic events can take a while to show their scars.  It’ll fade in time, I’m sure.”

Celestia gave me a slightly doubtful look, “You sound as though you’ve had experience.”

“Hah!” I snorted, “Trust me, Celestia.  You can’t throw a rock where I come from without hitting a traumatic event.  Or causing one at least.  It’s what makes or breaks us.  I wouldn’t be the person... or pony that I am without having faced all the problems I’ve had to deal with.”

“S... Such as what?” she asked hesitantly, as though she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know.

“Well, uhh... Let’s just say that I’ve had to fight for what I have,” I was trying to sugarcoat it while still showing that I had the knowledge to reassure her that time heals such wounds, “Every human does.  It’s a tough world that doesn’t allow for weakness of character.  Not necessarily strength or callousness, but the ability to take the good with the bad.  Sometimes the bad can get really horrible, such as losing something you care about.  But if you’ve got what it takes, and I’m sure Princess Luna does, you learn that these things happen and dwelling on it just brings you down, which doesn’t help anypony.  It just takes time to move on, and that involves a lot of personal time and space.”

I thought the slave-ponies joke bothered her.  I was wrong.  The idea of an entire race tempered by strife and struggle seemed to downright horrify her.  I could have offered her a steak and I’m fairly certain it would have blown her mind somewhat less.  This time it was my turn to stare at her like she was from Mars.  After a moment, she recovered and seemed to do a bit of soul searching before asking one last question.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” she asked.

I figured that was actually pretty important and best not to lie about, considering that she would indeed need to know what to do, should the unthinkable happen.  I mean, Luna controls the moon and night.  Things could get a little funky if she had an emotional breakdown and started screwing with a few things... Like gravitational pull or ocean tides.  Little things like that.

“Well, I know that humans can fall into depression or rage,” I said with a sigh, “They lose hope and fall apart emotionally which can lead to some really bad decisions.  But that’s only if no one is there for them.  Even the most pitiful or hateful person can find solace in the loving care of another.  My advice?  Just... you know.  Be there for her.  And keep her away from drugs.”

“Keep her away from what?” Celestia tilted her head, not understanding in the least.  Why did I even say that, you ask?  I imagine Lafter might have had something to do with it.  

“Nothing!” I blushed all over as I avoided the urge to chuckle.  Me and my big mouth were about to cause problems, I could tell, “Just be a loving big sis, okay?  And don’t try to force anything.  She’ll work it out when she’s ready.”

Celestia sighed but did smile slightly, “I see.  That is something I can do without fail.  You’re wiser than you let on, No-Name.  You must have seen very much in your life to know so much.”

I burst out laughing suddenly, surprising her entirely.  It took me a minute or so gather my composure again before taking a deep breath and smiling up at her, “I’m not even halfway through my third decade, Princess.  I’ve got a lot to learn.  Trust me when I say, I do plenty of foalish things.  Now, where’s your kitchen, I’mma whip something up for us while I wait for you.”

“Down the south hall and on your left, you can’t miss it,” she answered before thinking again, “Oh, but I shouldn’t be very long!”

“Me neither!” I said, turning about and galloping off eagerly.  I wanted to get away for two reasons.  The first being I didn’t want Celestia to press for more, less pleasant details.  The second being I wanted some caffeine in my blood and my best hope was for a kitchen creation.

Now, I don’t want you all to think I drink soda, because I don’t.  I hate soda.  There’s a reason it burns when you drink it no matter the temperature.  BECAUSE IT’S BAD FOR YOU!  Don’t you point at my nothing which holds a full pack of Mareboros!  You leave them out of this!  I drink a real champion’s drink!  COFFEE!

As I turned into the kitchen, I was sad to discover that there was no coffee or even beans for roasting.  That was okay, though.  There were substitutes.  Good ones.  I just didn’t know what they were.  Then I got an idea!  The phone of endless power and Internet!  Pulling it out, I went straight to Google and ran a search.  Black Teas.  Not as strong as coffee, but could be brewed to get very close.  That would do.  I picked one that sounded simple enough and began to search for ingredients.  

After sorting through just about everything you could imagine (Celestia has one hell of a well stocked kitchen), I found what I needed:  Herbs and Spice racks.  Hundreds of them.  Literally enough spices to bury a famous chef if he asked for it in his will.  

Earl Grey Creme consists of a combination of tea leaves, flowers, citrus peelings, mixed with Bergamot oil and vanilla oil.  In the time it took me to find all of that, I should have already been graced by a couple of princesses, but such was not the case.

As I worked on getting everything all whipped together and soaking it into the oils, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched.  I kept looking at the exit into the South Hall only to see nothing there.  It was unnerving.  I’ve never had that feeling before in my life.  I hear about it all the time in books and stuff, but I just thought it was a plot device or something!  Whatever the case, I couldn’t shake the idea that I was being carefully examined.  I worked through it, though, and was able to replicate the tea I desired, carefully following the instructions on my phone.  It was handy like that.

Then brewing!  I know, I’m wasting your time with this menial task, but let me tell you, there must be some tea brewing world championship because they’ve got books on this subject.  When I say books, I don’t mean one or two or even twenty.  I mean if you stacked all these books against the Encyclopedia Britannica, these would weigh more.  I’m not sure why.  Whenever my step-mom made sweet tea, she just threw a bunch of bags in a big measuring cup of water and nuke it in the microwave until it would melt the preposterous amounts of sugar inside.  Or maybe she was just trying to kill us all.  Not sure.

Anyway, I must have spent an hour on this stupid task, I’m not even sure why I was doing it beyond a silly desire for another chemical in my body.  I just wanted to stay busy and active while Celestia went to fetch Luna, I suppose.  So much for not taking very long.  Imagine my shock  when a pony broke the silence with a quiet salutations.

“Hello,” the voice came from literally nowhere.

“JESUS CHRIST!” I shouted and jumped back, not having heard so much as a hoof clop.  I’m not sure how much damage I caused falling back into the cupboard with all that delicate china, but let’s just say if she replaced half of it, some pony with a china-teacup cutie mark was able to retire.

After the wrecking ball (that’s me) extracted himself from the debris, a bit of nervous laughter resounded about the room.  That was when Luna faded into view, looking rather embarrassed.  Invisibility was never something I got used to.  I’m fairly certain it accounts for at least three lost years of my life in heart damage.

“Took quite a fall there,” she pointed out sarcastically.  I knew, from that point on, there wasn’t enough room in this world for two smartasses.

“Yeah, well, I was sorta focused on what I was working on, too,” I said with a sigh, checking myself over for cuts, which I had none of, and bruises, which I had several of.  Also, I feel I should mention my pain tolerance is pretty high these days.

I don’t know why Luna was okay with talking to me, supposedly being this huge recluse.  All I know was that my mind was pretty fast on remaining chill about the whole thing.  It was obvious she didn’t want to be formal, so I decided to not act formal in the least.  Hell, if I coaxed her out of her shell some, maybe two pony’s problems could get solved!  I’m getting stuff done here!

“What were you working on anyway?” she was curiously looking into the teapot that I was just about to warm up, “It smells great!”

I will admit, coffee smelled meh at best.  Earl Grey Creme, however, smelled like pure heaven.  It was a creamy smell with a hint of doughnut or something.  And doughnuts are awesome.

“Well, let’s figure out if it’s worth a buck,” I said, marvelling at my clever use of almost-profanity before picking up the pot with my mouth and looking around for a stove, “Fhers nho sdobe!”

“What?” Luna started looking around, trying to sort out what I was looking for.

I set it back down, “There’s no stove!”

“Oh, I guess not,” she wing-shrugged, “Not in here anyway, this is just the pantry.  The kitchen is the next door down.”

Derp!

“Oh,” I murmured, blushing brightly.

“Why not just use your magic glass to find a spell?” she cantered over to the table with my phone resting on it before poking at it a few times, “It’s really quite fascinating!”

I smiled hesitantly before pulling it away before she could get crazy with it.  I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to risk anypony in the hands of the Interwebs.

“Hey, I wasn’t going to take it!” she exclaimed, seemingly hurt that I didn’t trust her.

“It’s.. It’s not you!  It’s the phone!”  I held it up to her, putting on this dramatically fearful visage, “This thing holds knowledge and secrets!  Terrible ones!  Things that would drive you mad!  Crazy, even!  Just look at me!”

Luna didn’t look impressed, “Whatever.  Here, what’s your talent?  Fire, right?”

“H... How?” Spooooky~!

“Your Cutie Mark is a fiery shield, your tail and mane is colored like fire, and your breath smells of brimstone and char,” Luna was nopony’s foal, apparently.

I held my hoof over my mouth and gave my breath a sniff.  It did seem extra smokey, “Okay, you got me.  Yes, I’ve got a few fire tricks.”

“So, just use your talent to create heat or fire in some other way,” she said with a chuckle before seeing my look of embarrassment and becoming very concerned, “You don’t know how?  You’re how old?”

“I’ve only been a unicorn for one day!” I threw my hooves up in the air before face planting.  Thankfully, that was the last time I ever forgot that ponies cannot keep their faces off the ground without a front hoof holding them up.

She laughed at me.  My pride was stung, for sure.  Ponies don’t laugh AT people!  That’s just mean!

“You’re funny,” she said with a smile before helping me up, “So, I take it that somehow you’re actually new to this.”

“Yeah,” I said, thankful that she was quick to catch on.

“Okay, let’s try something like this.  Hold your hoof up,” she instructed, which I obeyed before watching her place the teapot on top of my hoof, balancing it carefully with her magic.

“Okay,” I nodded, “Teapot on a hoof.  Not magical, but certainly impressive for the kids at home.”

She poked me with her horn for my sarcasm, “You want help or not?”

“Ow!  Equestria hurts so bad!  Yes!  Help!” I cried out, whimpering sadly.

“Now, just imagine what you want, and let your mind wrap around creating that effect in some fashion,” she explained, “Don’t be rigid about it, just think of a way to get it done.  Don’t try to make it happen.  Just expect it to happen.  Don’t let the possibility of failure even enter your mind.”

Now, I’ve an open mind, and this single lesson here pretty much was the one thing I needed to get into the realm of pony magic.  Oh, Luna, even if you were a snarky smartass, you gave me this, and I will forever be grateful.  I did exactly as instructed and imagined my hoof as a stove-top burner.  Sure enough, my hoof started to glow like one and within seconds, that tea was BOILING!

“Bwahaha~!” I chuckled dramatically, my eyes widening with HAPPY, “The power of the sun!  In the palm of my hoof!”

“Yeah yeah, just be careful,” she said with a giggle, “That’s a dangerous talent you got.  Still, if you weren’t smart enough to take care, I suppose you wouldn’t have been given that talent.”

“I’m not as dumb as I act,” I said with a wink, pouring the tea into a pair of cracked tea cups, “Just not as smart as I would like to be.  Anyway, try it.  If it kills you, I know I did a terrible job.”

“Okay.  I read the instructions off your magic glass, so I know you did exactly as you were supposed to,” she stabbed my joke with her logic and it deflated like a sad Pinkie Pie hairdo, “You’re pretty quick to pick things up, actually.  What’s your name?  Wait, no!  Let me guess.”

“I’ll go first!” I said with a laugh as I stirred some sugar into both cups, “Princess Luna!  I’m awesome!  Okay, you have one try to tie the match.”

She rolled her eyes with a smirk, “Obviously, I stand before a professional.”

I started to nudge one of the teacups her way before stopping and focusing on the it, imagining  how it should easily slide her way.  I was more stoked than I probably should have been when it obeyed, but I actually held a modicum of my composure this time.  No passing out.  No squeeing.  No maniacal laughter.  Stoic was pretty adamant that I not scare off the reclusive princess.  He’s not very fun.

“Nice job,” she gave an approving nod, “You’re a quicker learner than I thought.  Anyway... Hmmm... Fireball?”

“Neigh,  I win,” I rebuked her as I sipped my cup of homemade Earl Grey Creme.  It was damn fine.  I could practically feel the energetic caffeine demons jump straight into my bloodstream.  Sorcery at it’s best.

“Ash Hoof?” she tried again, surprised she didn’t get it on the first try.  Alicorns obviously weren’t used to being wrong!  That made me feel trollishly good~!

“Wow, I thought you’d be better at this,” I gave her a superior smirk.

She gave me a determined glare, “Char Dash?”

“That’s a cool one,” I admitted, rolling it about in my head, “But no.  Shall I just ruin the surprise for you?”

“No!” she protested.  I was enjoying this more than was necessary and she knew it.

“Then, step outside with me as you continue trying in vain,” I stuck my tongue out at her as I looked around, “Ummm... Where’s the garden?  Or a balcony?  Or... just a window?”

“You don’t know the palace?  Time for another magic trick, though this one’s pretty tough,” she said, pulling a map out of her nothing.  Hah!  All ponies had one!

“Eff yeah~!” I took the map before turning it over a few times, “Hmmm... Nope!  I can’t read it.  It’s too small.”

It was true.  The map was INCREDIBLY DETAILED.  As in it had the entirety of Canterlot illustrated, down to the rooms in every building.  When you looked at it from a different angle, it actually swivelled like a flying camera.  Magic map!  

“I already memorized it, so I don’t need it, but let’s see if you can cast this spell I learned earlier this month,” she set the map down onto the table, “Now, remember how I said to imagine getting what you need?  Well, this spell actually burns the paper, so your fire affinity might make it to where you can cast this, too!”

“Way?!” I exclaimed with a smile, “Burning paper for fun and profit!  But this map’s kinda valuable, I would think.  It’d be kind of a waste to just burn it.”

“You’re not going to just burn the map, hothead!” she poked me with her horn again.

“Ow!  Stop that!  It causes physical discomfort!” I whined at her.

“That’s the point!” she declared, poking yet again, “Now pay attention, or I’m going to go sharpen it!”

The thought had frightening implications.  I found myself picturing me impaled on her horn with an extremely dramatic dead look on my face.  I still had not seen a mirror!  I had no idea what I looked like.  I remembered hoping I didn’t look silly.  But then again, I was a pony (and not a beautiful spider~!).

“You’re quite a pushy pony!” I said accusingly, this time quick enough to dodge the horn jab, “Stop horsing around and let’s get on with the magic lesson!”

She glared but consented. “Fine.  Here.  Imagine absorbing the paper and everything on it.  Think hard on it.  Take it all in.  And imagine what’s left is destroyed as you take it from the paper.  Go on.”

That sounded difficult, I admit.  It was, too.  I stared at the paper and zoned out for a second, taking a mental picture before imagining that I was soaking it in.  I imagined discarding the paper for the information it held and all of a sudden, the entire thing caught fire and I could suddenly see it all.  All of it.  All at once.  It was a rush.  I fell back on my haunches as I sorted through it.  I suddenly knew Canterlot better than I knew my hometown.  Every alley, every street, every shop, every home, and every room was at my fingertips!  (Sorry, hooftips just sounds too weird!)

“Wow, on your first try!” Luna looked extremely impressed, helping me back up with a wide smile, “No other unicorn has been able to successfully pull this off besides me and Tia!”

“Psssh,” I shrugged modestly, smirking a bit, “I’m nothing.  You should show Twilight.  That pony is packing some serious magic.”

“Who?” she gave me a confused look.

“I’ll introduce you sometime but I get the feeling you’d recognize her if you saw her,” I winked encouragingly, “Anyway, let’s get to some fresh air so I can sully it with my smoke.”

“Y’what?” Her confusion was only getting worse.

“Just follow,” I politely ordered before magicking the tea cups and teapot to follow.  It was so easy now that I understood the general process.

It was uncanny how I suddenly recognized the general layout of the palace, despite having not actually seen but probably only a tenth of it.  I made my way to the garden with Luna in tow, finally pulling my Mareboro out and lighting it.

“What’s that,” she curiously asked as she started to approach before coughing suddenly and stepping back, “What..?!  Ack!  No wonder your breath stinks so terribly!”

“Don’t get so close!”  I hopped back several steps, “Sorry, it’s an addiction.”

“What?  How could you possibly be addicted to THAT!?” she held a hoof over her nose a little too dramatically if you asked me.

“It’s a chemical addiction, actually,” I tried to explain, “See, there’s a compound in the leaves that acts differently depending on how you take it in.”

“I don’t care how it works!” she pointed out, casting the same spell Celestia had to push away the smoke.

“Heh.  Sorry, I just really get in a bad way when I don’t have one of these every so often.  They’re not good for you at all,” I pointed out before smiling at the breeze a tad, “Celestia used that same spell for the same reason.”

Luna arched her eyebrow at me, “You’re acquainted with Tia?  You one of her royal guard?”

“Hardly,” I said with a chuckle, taking a deeper drag, “It’s complicated.”

“Entertainer?” she asked rhetorically, knowing I wasn’t.

“Ha Ha.” I gave her a wry smirk.  That silly pony being all sarcastic.

“Well, you’re pretty off the wall,” she said before sipping her cup some, “I’ve no idea what to make of you.  What is your name?”

“Well, No-Name has worked pretty well, thus far,” I answered with a nod.

“Seriously?” and now she thought I was being the difficult one

“For serial,” I responded.

“What?”

“Nothing!  Man, nobody gets human jokes here!” I cried out in frustration.

Not having anyone to relate to can be frustrating at times.

“Humans?!” Luna suddenly looked very suspicious of me

“Yeah,” I said, giving her a strange look.  (I just want to say, giving ponies strange looks has given me no sense of pleasure or happiness.  I can only assume it does for ponies given how often they tried it on me.)

“How do you know about humans?” she asked, peering at me with askance.

“How do you know about humans?” I countered, suddenly very interested.

“The Nightmare showed them to me,” she took a step back, “Rather revolting creatures if you ask me.  Your turn.  How could you possibly know about humans?”

I was kinda blown away by that statement, but I felt no shame over my race.  I daresay, I was insulted!  After becoming one with the bronies, I’d say humans were pretty damn cool, “I am one of those ‘rather revolting creatures,’ thank you very much.”

“You look nothing like a human!” she protested, blushing a tad as she realized she’d just shoved her hoof in her mouth.

“That doesn’t change the fact that he is,” Celestia stepped out into the garden, looking royally exhausted, “I’m glad to see you two have already met.”

“Hey, Princess!” I smiled as she approached, “You look beat.”

“She is,” Luna narrowed her eyes and frowned with concern, “She’s supposed to be asleep by now.  Morning is going to be late, I can already tell.”

“There are more important matters to attend to,” Celestia announced in a matter-of-fact tone, “Such as helping our nameless friend here.”

Luna looked back and forth between the two of us before lifting an eyebrow, “Wow, you really don’t have a name.  Must be a human thing.”

“I feel a slight undertone of racism setting in,” I gave a slightly irritated snort.  The very idea was kinda funny though.  Racist ponies.  Lawl.

“Children.  Focus.  Thank you,” Celestia softly ordered, inhaling deeply before continuing, even her voice sounding drained, “Luna, I know this is hard for you.  But we need to ask you about the Nightmare.  It resurfaced earlier today in Ponyville and nearly took a new host.”

I know ponies have fur coats and not colored skin, but that doesn’t seem to stop the color from draining out of their faces when they hear something that they don’t want to.

“And it knew I was a human,” I supplied, “In fact, I think it may have something to do with my being here.”

Luna blinked in shock a few times before speaking, “Of... Of course it does!  You’re a human!  The savage yet technologically advanced warrior race!”

I think I threw up in my mouth a little, just then.

“Right.  We eat ponies, lie to one another, spend vast amounts of currency and research effort into nothing but killing the innocents of opposing human factions,” I drolled on a little too emphatically, “I mean, just the things we’ve created!  Such as toilet paper!  Oh!  And insurance!  Man, that’s actually pretty bad, now that I think about it.  Yeah, humans are pretty awful.”

I may have driven that a little too far, judging by the very chastised look on Luna’s face.  She suddenly found a huge amount of interest in the ground and ways she could draw into it with her hoof.  I slumped a little bit all over, ears included.  I had not meant to be so mean about it.  I was just always pretty quick to jump to humanity’s side when friends and family vocalized their lack of faith in all things.  Got a little carried away, if you could believe that.  It never happens!

“Look, I’m sorry, Luna,” I sighed and rubbed the back of my head with a significant helping of shame setting in, “I’ve had a stressful day, and though that doesn’t excuse anything... I just.  Yes, humans have the potential to be the most awful things ever.  But they also have the potential to be the greatest saints.  And every time I hear someone back home whine about how they have no faith in humanity, I get to thinking they’re just watching a little too much Fox News and not doing enough to find out on their own.”

Celestia nodded, “I don’t know many humans, and though he’s certainly... odd...  His heart is in the right place.”

Awww!  Thanks, Celestia.  =3  You’re pretty cool, too.

She looked back up at me, still pawing at the ground a bit, “You’re not like the humans The Nightmare showed me.”

“No two humans are perfectly alike,” I said with a smile.

“I want to know more about the humans,” she said suddenly, stepping closer with big curious eyes, “Those machines on the moon!  Were they really for war?!”

“Machines?  There are machines on your moon?” I was flabbergasted to say the least.

“Yes!  Well... Sort of.  There are many dimensions, you see,” she started to explain before I caught her off with an upraised hoof.

Multiverse.  Figured.

“I’m sorry, my mind is taking in too much from Equestria as it stands.  Let me see if I can sum up a bit,” I started, taking a moment to internally eliminate as many possibilities as I could, “Okay.  You’re stuck on the moon for a thousand years.  Maybe more in a spiritual or metaphysical sense.  That’s a long time to sit around and count rocks, so rather than do something pointless, you start seeing what you CAN do in this non-physical state.”

Luna nodded.  Yeah.  I don’t know if maybe certain authors or scriptwriters have been dimension travelling (LAUREN FAUST CAME TO PONYVILLE?!) or what, but this wasn’t anything new to me.  Or anyone that had half a vested interest in science fiction/fantasy.

“So you figure out how to dimension hop or some equivalent.  No, I don’t want to know the method behind it unless it involves getting me home somehow,” I stopped on that random thought, “Does it?”

“Get you back to Earth?  No, that was The Nightmare,” she sipped her tea with an apologetic frown, “The Nightmare knew magic that I don’t think I’ll ever grasp fully.”

“Am I still on track, at least?” I asked, though need not have bothered.

“Almost like you were there, scarily enough,” I could tell she wasn’t sure what to make certain of my ability to discern a bad villain plot when I saw it.  It was terribly obvious, in my opinion.  Tropes.  That’s how they work.

“Anyway, so you found my home world and moon, spotted the lunar landing vehicles, and suddenly got ideas.  By the way, no.  There’s not a single weapon on the moon that I’m aware of.  Getting to the moon was an expedition of science and exploration.  Nothing more,” I continued to rattle everything off in a bored fashion, pausing only to take quick puffs off the cigarette.

“How do you know all of this?”

“Seen it in a movie once,” I rolled my eyes.  This was a little too stereotypical for my taste, actually, “So, The Nightmare wants to conquer all of Equestria using the humans.”

“Close!” she smirked, now smugly grinning at me, “Other way around.”

Now I was a little bothered. “Okaaay~.  It wants to use the ponies to conquer Earth?  … … No offense, princesses, but I’ve seen the ponies.  You guys couldn’t raid a fridge equipped with the munchies and a three-day fasting period, much less a planet of war savvy bipeds.”

Celestia agreed with me, nodding tiredly, “Indeed.  Equestria is a utopia of peace.  Only the very oldest of my guards have seen any serious conflict, outside of myself and you, Luna.  Any attempt at conquest would be folly.”

“Look, I don’t know all the details,” Luna wing shrugged, invoking my jealousy, “The Nightmare is crazy.  In ways that we’ve never even heard of.”


I had my doubts about that, but held my tongue for the moment.

“Why did you not tell me this earlier?” Celestia asked, looking a little perturbed but not overly so.

“Sis, The Nightmare had a chaotic mishmash of ideas.  Sometimes it was pretty coherent.  Other days it just wasn’t able to form complete thoughts, just intense emotions.” She kicked at the ground idly, her mind getting a little lost in having to remember what it was like.

I looked at Celestia and shook my head.  We had what we needed.  In all likelihood, The Nightmare had most certainly brought me here for some sick, twisted purpose and was either too crazy to remember why or too incompetent to follow through with it’s plans.  I got the feeling it was likely a mixture of both.

“Well, if that’s all, please excuse me,” Celestia let out a princess sized yawn before smacking her lips a bit, “I leave the night to you, Luna.”

“Peace out, Princess,” I called as she lazily waved a wing at us, sauntering off at a terribly slow pace.  When she was gone, I turned to Princess Luna and realized my cigarette was nearly finished.  I got an idea to suddenly spit it up into the air and breathe fire at it.  Sure enough, that sucker was thinner than dust.

“Show off,” she said with a smirk, “So, anyway... I want to know about Earth!”

“No, I’m tired of having this conversation,” I said with a whine, causing her to pout.

At first, I was unfazed. “No, seriously, I’ve burned at least five hours of my life into that activity today.  How about tomorrow?”

Then she poked her bottom lip out.  By Celestia’s beard, it was adorable.

“No,” I said simply, kinda grimacing away from her.

Then she used dirty tactics and started the puppy dog eyes.

“A... Are you h... Stop it!” I exclaimed, to which she only took a step closer to take up more of my vision with her pouting, “Get away!”

“I can order you to do it!” she snapped angrily, sparing me from a guilt trip seizure with her sudden frustration.

“Yeah, right, like I have to follow your orders, ye indigo equine of darkness,” I countered, trying not to sweat with relief, “I get the feeling your authority does not extend to humanity.”

“Ugh!  You are so annoying!” she huffed and looked away angrily.

“Well, excuuuuse me, princess!” Yes, I said it.  I have no shame.  In fact, I was cackling on the inside, “But I’ve had quite a day!  Forgive me for not falling on your every whim and word!”

“Oh, whatever,” she rolled her eyes back at me, “You spend a thousand years on the moon with some insane witch and then I’ll give you the time of night.”

“Sorry, I don’t think I could get along with you for a thousand years,” BAM! SMARTASSED!  OH YEAH!  I’M NOT EVEN WINDED!

Luna turned back to glare at me before suddenly bursting out into laughter.  At first I thought she didn’t get the joke, but she eventually spoke again after regaining her composure, “You know, you’re the first pony to have ever argued with me besides my sister.”

I tilted my head in confusion somewhat, “You’re welcome?”

“It’s just... Nice,” she admitted, smiling at me happily, “I kinda feel normal right now.  I mean, being with The Nightmare showed me some... terrible and horrible things.  Things that I would have never experienced as just a princess here in Canterlot.  It’s... changed me.  And how I see things.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t turned out for the worse,” I admitted with an encouraging nod, “You’re made of sterner stuff.”

“I guess.  It’s just been hard.  I now see the horrible side as well as the good side of things,” she murmured softly, “And no one in Equestria can relate to that.  It’s actually refreshing to talk to somepony who can.  That and you’re not afraid to tell me ‘No’ at all.”

“Yeah, I’m real ballsy like that,” I said in faux self-admiration, giving a chuckle before putting on a slightly more serious face, “But seriously, you shouldn’t let it get to you.  I mean, as innocent and naive as everypony here can be at times, a lot of the them out there can show you how to forget all about it.  An escape might do you some good.”

“Yeah, maybe,” she gave a wing shrug (jealous) before suddenly getting an idea, “So what’s the magic glass and what does it do?!”

“Oh, my phone?” I pulled it out and brought it out of sleep, “A little bit of everything, actually.  It has access to the largest knowledge repository that I’ve ever heard of, it can play music, let you call people with other phones across practically any distance as long as certain special towers are set up to allow communication.  Oh, it has a few video games, too.”

“What games?” she tilted her head in confusion.

That’s when things got crazy.  We busted out Angry Birds.  Thank whatever divine power is out there that my phone had infinite power, because after her first red bird scream, she was hooked.  Badly.  She was raging out on some of the harder levels, stamping her hooves furiously at being confounded (I swear, if she wasn’t actually using the phone, I’d have snapped a shot of that and sent it to Ponibooru).  She couldn’t use her magic at all, and I think that was her biggest weakness.  Eventually, she got too frustrated and I decided to bend my rules a little, showing her the magic of Google and everything that she could learn by using the powerful search engine.  I don’t know what time it was, but we burned most of the night into that thing.  I did my best to keep her searching safely, not wanting her to see anything bad.  I remember nearly nodding off as she was trying to search up the strategy to beat that last Angry Birds level.  I nearly fell over, which brought me back to reality long enough to know that it was bed time.

“Okay, Luna,” I said with a loud yawn, stretching wonderfully (I love to stretch), “I’ve gotta get some shut eye.”

“Alright, go ahead,” she replied, intently studying the youtube video for exact bird throwing angles.

“I need my phone back,” I coughed a bit to help emphasize the hint.

“Okay,” she gave an absent-minded nod before realizing what I had said, “Wait, what?  But! … But!”

“No butts, haunches, or hindquarters,” I was NOT going to let her surf without supervision, “Hand’r over.”

She pouted again, this time seriously meaning it.  I gulped as I strained against the cute, staying stone faced just long enough for her to magic it over to me, “Don’t worry, we’ll do this again, and soon.  I’ve got some cool stuff to show ya.”

She smiled, a tad distracted.  She then nodded at me with a sigh before getting up, “Yeah, It’s about time for me to get ready to help set the moon for Tia.”

“Yeah, go work.  Do celestial stuff.  Keep the circle of life rolling,” I yawned tiredly before picking out a garden bench and flopping down onto it.  I set my phone to wake me up in six or so hours and laid it out.  I didn’t know if it was going to make any noise in the nothing, so I thought it best to not take chances.  I didn’t want to miss the entire day (for the record, I will sleep twenty four hours straight if I am not given a way to wake up before that), after all, “Goodnight.  Morning.  Whatever.”

“You’re going to sleep right there?!” she asked incredulously, to which I grunted an affirmation.

“Ugh,” she said, “Humans.”

“I resent that remark,” I said tiredly, slowly drifting off to sleep.

I am actually a restless sleeper.  I roll, flop, kick, tuck, tumble, and dance in my sleep, I’m told.  Whatever, I don’t pay attention when I’m out like a light.  All I know is that I fell off that stupid bench just as the sun began to rise.  I cursed as I opened my eyes.  I’ll skip the part where I had that “WHERE AM I?!” moment and just get to the part where I lit my cigarette.  I began to wonder what time it was after the first drag and started to reach for my phone, only to realize it was gone.  Without a doubt, I could not have become more awake even if you had hit me with ice cold water filled with angry spiders.

“SHIT!” I jumped up, spoiling the pure pony air with my profanity, “LUNA?!”

I looked about, panicking slightly before galloping back into the palace.  I drew off my knowledge of the absorbed map to make a beeline for Luna’s room.  There were these four guards that saw an unfamiliar pony running about in the palace, so naturally they wanted to be the Equestrian Patrol and stop me.  I was having none of it, though, and simply barrelled over them.  It was surprisingly easy.  Storm Trooper syndrome, anyone?

“Stop!” I heard one of them shout.  Oh yeah.  I just ran them over, but now that they asked me nicely I was obviously obligated to pull over.  Whatever.

With that, I burst into Luna’s room, “Princess!”

She was staring at the phone.  Not just staring at it, but taking it in.  Her horn was glowing and her body was tense.

“Luna.  For the love of all things in both our worlds... Do not do what I think you’re going to do,” I pleaded quietly.

“I have to know,” she murmured, her horn beginning to glow all the brighter, “I can’t not know.”

I heard the guards approaching from behind me, so I turned and breathed out a wall of fire, cutting them off, “No!  Get Celestia!  Trust me, do not interfere.  Princess Luna is about to do something very dangerous.  I need to talk her out of it.  Just stay back, please, if you care about her at all.”

“Snowfall, get Captain Storm Wing,” the silver one in the front ordered, “Whirlwind, go.  Awaken the princess.”

They obviously didn’t trust me very much, but they didn’t have much choice since I was breathing fire at them.  Eventually, the two of the rear guards did back off.  The other two eyed me carefully as I let the fire die down.  Hesitantly, the front runner nodded at me.  Why?  I don’t know.  I must seem extra trustworthy.

I looked back into the room to see Luna still staring hard at the phone, “Please, Luna.  It’s not worth it.  Yes, that device holds vast amounts of knowledge, but the price is not something you want to pay.”

Luna blinked, “I’ve already seen so much.  It couldn’t be much worse.  I want to know that it’s not all horrific like The Nightmare showed me.”

I sighed softly, slumping a bit, “It’s not.  Remember last night?  What I showed you wasn’t bad at all.”

“I know,” she replied, still gazing deeply into the phone, “But you’re holding back.  You don’t want to show me everything.  I don’t want to wait another thousand years to know it’s alright.  I want to know now.”

“What’s going on here?” I heard Celestia’s voice, “What’s happened here?”

As her sister started to walk in, Luna looked a tad frightful but still stayed affixed to the device.

“Luna, just... give it here,” I shook my head, “We don’t even know that spell will work. That isn’t a piece of paper.  It’s not a book.  You might end up hurting yourself.”

“Hurt... Hurt myself?” she whispered, “I think not.”

“Luna,” Celestia didn’t know what was going on, but she picked up on my fear almost instantly, “What are you doing?  That doesn’t belong to you.  Give it back, dear sister.”

Luna began to let the light fade from her horn and began to sadly relax all over.  Just as she started to stand up straight, the alarm on my phone suddenly went off, which involved Rainbow Dash doing the sonic rainboom and Pinkie Pie singing ‘Corridor of Cupcakes’ at insane volumes (It’s hard to wake me up, okay?).  We all were startled by the sudden sound and Luna was instantly spurred into doing what she felt was right.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

She reared up and slammed her hooves down as her eyes flared bright white.  My poor Atrix 4G (all six-hundred dollars of it) went up in flames as she absorbed it and everything it had access to.  It took an impressive amount of magic to tear it all out and the ensuing explosion of force knocked both me and Celestia from the room.  I hit that poor silver guard and got back up instantly, bolting back inside.  My phone was nothing but ash and Luna had been knocked back against the wall, writhing somewhat.  Her eyes were wide and her entire form was glowing softly as she calmed a bit.  She got up quickly and shuddered all over, staring at nothing for several seconds.

“Luna?!”  I began to walk (canter, whatever!) up to her, only for her to gasp and spontaneously dash for the window.  She just leaped straight through it, shattering it without a care in the world.  She tried to fly, but she obviously was still struggling from whatever she had just done for herself and began to plummet.  I didn’t think, I just jumped after her, catching her and taking a double pony crash to my side as we hit the ground, having placed myself under her.  I instantly decided that the next time Luna had a crazy idea such as defenestrating (That literally means to throw something out a window by the way.  This word alone makes the English language 20% cooler) herself, she would have to fly (or fall) solo on that.  I sure as hell wasn’t making a hobby out of second story wingless jumps.

She began to mumble some gibberish as she got up off me and began galloping away, albeit slightly off balance.  I groaned, not nearly as quick as she was thanks to her less-than-successful attempt at flight.  Out of pure determination, I somehow forced myself to get up and chase after her.  I was calling at her, but she either wasn’t listening or was just too far gone to care.  

The chase didn’t last long, though.  Not because I caught her.  Heavens, no, it couldn’t be that easy.  Remember that silver guard telling the other guard to go get some jackpony named Storm Wing?  Remember also when Celestia said that only a select few of her oldest guards were combat worthy?  Remember that one electric pegasus from the show that served as Celestia’s right hand?  Oh, you don’t remember that last part?  No?  That’s because he wasn’t in the show!  BECAUSE THIS GUY IS TOO SCARY FOR CHILDREN!  Seriously!  We’re talking the sword of Celestia in the form of pony!

I saw a bluish streak approach like lightning out of the corner of my eye.  I would have looked at it if I had ANY reaction time whatsoever.  Suffice it to say, I did not.  I got tackled.  It was like getting hit by a car, or so I can imagine.  Now thinking back, I’m pretty sure cars don’t hit that hard.  It wasn’t actually a tackle, even, it was more of a body check, like in hockey.  Only I didn’t fall over.  I flew over.  Into a building.  I stumbled out of the pony shaped dent and remembered turning to see a blurred bluish-white hoof smack right into my face.

Not sure how long I was out (THANKS TO NOT HAVING MY PHONE!), but let’s just say I didn’t need any more rest for the entire day.

Also, screw Captain Storm Wing.

Chapter Three                                                                                Chapter Five!


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Five: The Bride of Chapter

Author’s Notes:  DON’T I JUST LOOK AWESOME?  Another day, another chapter.  Just to warn everyone, I’m going on a vacation so I won’t be spending much time working on the fic as I’ll be mostly with my friends and family.  I’ll try to get some work done, but yeah... For the next ten or so days, I’ll be pretty occupied.  You understand don’t you?  DON’T YOU!?  

Random Fanart! (SFW)  If anyone knows the source, please let me know at [email protected] 

Another Note!  I’ve heard that people are sending me emails and I’m not getting them!  Apparently my email is on the fritz and is sending almost everything to junk for auto-delete!  If you’ve sent me anything and I didn’t respond, I apologize! D:  Promise!  I’ll try to get this worked out after I’m back from vacation!

“You should have restrained him, Storm Wing,” I heard Celestia say, completely ruining my MLP: Fighting is Magic dream by waking me up, “Why on Equestria did you attack him?”

“M’lady, forgive my rash decision,” I heard some pony respond as I rolled over.  He sounded young but as serious as a Grimdark tag, “Snowfall came to me saying that the princess was in danger and that a suspicious fire breathing unicorn was forcibly entering her room.  I wrongfully assumed that he was trying to hurt her when I sensed him chasing her out of the courtyard.”

“I see.  I understand your decision, Storm Wing, and I approve of your willingness to act.  But also, it’s that same willingness that allows you take it too far,” she replied gently, “I expect you to show more restraint in the future.”

I opened my eyes and instantly regretted it.  Light!  BAD!  Getting bucked in the face can obviously cause some serious migraines and today was no exception.  I groaned as I slowly got to my feet, rubbing the spot where Captain Jackpony busted my chops.  I went to pull out a smoke before finding out with absolute horror that they weren’t on me.  This day had just officially became a bad one, and I could already tell that somepony was going to catch hell for it.

“Of course, my princess,” I heard him say as I began to look at my surroundings. I was in... well... It looked like a stable.  Made out of iron.  I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be a humiliating form of prison.  To me, it was just funny.  Well, at the time it just pissed me the hell off, but yeah, looking back, it was kinda funny.  I searched through my magic mental map to find that this jail wasn’t very far from the palace actually.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, I suppose.

“Do as I ordered and come see me when he awakens.  We’ve got to prepare for the worst,” she said before I heard the soft sound of departing hoofclops.  I wasn’t sure if just one or both of them left (even one pony walking sounds like a multitude of hoofsteps).  As I pushed on my unmoving stable door, I decided I did not feel like being contained.  With that, I looked at my hoof and stared at it for a bit, channelling heat into it.  It wasn’t long before it turned red and I shook my head, not satisfied with that.

“Hotter,” I told myself with an irritated snap.  It didn’t respond.

Expect it to happen.

Thanks, Luna, I’d almost forgot, I silently thanked her.  With that in mind, I simply told myself as soon as my hoof got hot enough, we were getting out of here.  Without a doubt, it began to flare up and turn white hot, crackling with magic.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it, kids, I was in so pissy of a mood that I didn’t even get that awesome feeling when I did something new and amazing.  I just kept staring at it as it got hotter and when I felt it was good enough, I pressed it to the lock.

The lock slowly turned red.  Then it turned white.  Then it started to bend ever so slowly.  This was taking too long, I told myself.  I slammed my other hoof up there and began to do likewise with it and even then, it wasn’t helping things move along very much at all.  Finally, I began to breathe fire onto the damn thing with my two hooves pressing and within a few moments, the lock turned to butter and fell off the cage, hitting the stone floor with what sounded more like mud splattering than anything.  I turned and gave that stable door a buck and sent it flying wide open.  In retrospect, Bad To The Bone should have started playing right then, but it didn’t.  You disappoint me, yet again, Equestria.

“My prison not good enough for you, human?” I heard that same voice that had been talking to Celestia say as I stepped out, my very breath letting out wisps of flame.

Now, since this guy wasn’t in the show, I’ll go ahead and describe him for you, because this wasn’t one of your run of the mill guards.  First, take one of those stupid copy-pasta pegasus guards.  Now, give their plated-armor a red trim with a violet star badge on the front (I guess a symbol of his rank).  Instead of sky blue hair, his mane was bright electric blue with stark white streaks in it and his coat was bluish-white.  I’m somewhat ashamed to say that he wasn’t a huge ripped pony, either, but was pretty much the size of Rainbow Dash, frame and all.  Hell, he didn’t even look older than Fluttershy, which was odd if he was one of Celestia’s ‘oldest’ guards.  Another thing of note was that this guy had some seriously long hair.  As in, the rivets in his neck barding had been left out and his mane was woven into the helmet going down the back of his neck and past his wings.  It was that long.  If I had not already had a serious problem with this pony, I would have been staring at him in awe (Because he looked pretty damn cool).  As it were, though, I’d never wanted to hit a pony so hard in my life ‘cause it was definitely that same jackpony that had blindsided me from before.

“Nope, it kinda sucks actually. Kinda like its current curator,” I snapped angrily, “Now step aside, Sparky, before I lose my temper.”

“That’s Captain Storm Wing to you,” he said, his expression bored and his tone flat, “And I’m afraid I can’t do that.  Especially with you so hot-headed right now.”

I took a few steps forward before noticing that his visage wasn’t just bored, it was unresponsive.  I was entirely caught off guard by the development that Captain Storm Wing wasn’t wearing a half-lidded bored expression, but rather, he was quite blind.  The corn blue iris gave it away entirely.  A scrawny, blind pony whipped my ass.  This day just kept getting better!

“Why not?  You going to try and stop me?  Because I’m actually still agreeable enough to warn you right now, I’ve got no problems turning you into a simple clean-up job for whatever pony is out there with a broom-and-dustpan cutie mark,” I threatened.  I always did talk some serious smack talk when I was angry.  Not necessarily cool smack talk, mind you.

“Please,” the corner of his mouth raised a tad, betraying his amusement at my warning, “I’ve chased hostile dragons out of Equestria and brought rampaging Behemoth Phoenixes to an early rebirth.  I doubt you’ve got what it takes to match their brand of heat.”

“Only one way to find out,” I growled irritably.  If I had just been a little more clear headed, I would have just cooled my hooves and defused the situation.  As it were, however, I’ll simply fast forward past this next part.  Imagine here a fight that goes badly for me, where I find out that a pegasus half my size can whip my plot like a boss.  And screw Captain Storm Wing.  Magical tasering is cheating!

“Had enough?” he asked, gently nudging my prone plot with a hoof.

“I’ve never... hated a... pony before you,” I said between pained breaths, “How do you mani-... fest lightning... without unicorn... magic?”

“Took a few centuries to learn.  It’s basic pegasus weather magic on a much smaller, yet more focused scale,” he replied before helping me off the ground and forcing me to stand back up, “Get it all out of your system?”

“Yeah,” I admitted, not wanting any more of this fight at all, “How can you... see me?”

“Everypony and everything gives off an electromagic field.  With a little creative use of my pegasus magic, I can sense it just fine,” he explained.  I could tell he was somewhat surprised that I caught onto it.

“Like an electric eel,” I remarked, finally starting to breathe normally again, “That’s... pretty interesting actually.”

“Most ponies don’t even pick up on the fact that I am blind,” he commented with an appreciative nod, “Humans must be pretty quick.  That trick with the tail was a new one on me.”

“For all the good it did,” I stumbled a tad as I tried to recover.  I thought the migraine sucked.  Let me tell you, when enough electricity runs through your body enough times, you will feel like you ran a marathon.  A long one.  Maybe even a marathon that consisted of multiple marathons combined, “I need my cigarettes.  Tell me you have them?”

Storm wing pulled the box from his nothing, “I can only presume you mean these?  What are they?”

“They’re poisonous leaves wrapped in paper designed to burn slowly,” I explained as I took them from him and lit one.  I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to show him how stupid I was for smoking them by explaining the entire process, “The smoke is intended to be breathed in through this filter on the back and cause feelings of ease or awareness and sometimes both.  The chemicals in the leaves also create an addiction, so even if you want to stop using them, it becomes almost impossible without serious motivation.  Even with that, it causes serious mood swings when you do.  Without these, I would eventually make those monsters you mentioned look like candles.  Or try to, anyway.”

“Wow,” he gave a snort of laughter, “Whatever helps your pony float.  Anyway, now that you’re good and calmed down, it’s time to come see the princess.”

“What?” I rubbed my latest bruise, glaring at him disapprovingly, “You mean you beat the hell out of me just because?”

“Wanted to take your measure.  You’re smart.  Your temper is a problem, but that’s understandable considering the situation.  I’m fairly certain you’d have given me a harder time if you had been thinking more clearly,” he gave a wing shrug.  His wings were pretty large for a pegasus of his stature, I noted.  Not too much smaller than Celestia’s even, despite his size.  I found myself wondering if wings just kept getting bigger with age.  I was also wondering if it would hurt more should I decide to kick them really hard.  ‘Why?’ you ask?  No reason.  Purely random thought.  I get those sometimes.

“So... … ... you just beat the hell out of me... … Just because,” I repeated, taking a loooooong drag off that cigarette.  That had to have been one of the best smokes I’d ever had.  Even through all the pain, I could feel that slight rush of mentholated nicotine wash over me.

“Sure,” he said with a chuckle.

SCREW CAPTAIN STORM WING!

“You’re an ass,” I remarked before giving a sigh, the cigarette already helping me chill out, “Well, whatever, let’s go see Celestia.”

Princess Celestia.” He gave a nod before turning to walk out. “Come with me.”

Easier said than done, I thought to myself as I tried to keep up with him.  Actually, the keeping up part was easy.  It was doing so while not whining like a baby as I did that was the hard part.  Everything ached so badly thanks to Captain Taser Hooves, here.  I was quite aware that focusing on pain just made it that much more unbearable, though, so I sucked it up and kept pace.  At least I’m not lost thanks to Luna’s map, I told myself in a desperate attempt at consolation.  Then, I remembered what had taken place and was suddenly wrought with worry over the indigo alicorn.

“What do we know?” I finally spoke as we made our way into the palace, crossing the entrance hall on our way to the throne room, “Is Luna alright?”

“I’ve no clue,” he flicked his tail a bit, causing it to pop with electricity.  I’d call him a showoff but... … Yeah... Even I’m not that hypocritical, “We can’t find her.  We were hoping you would know where to look.”

Of course they did.  I’d just pop out the GPS on my phone and OHWAIT, “Why would you think I would know?”

“Because she said you would,” he answered with another wing shrug.  I swear, I think pegasi do that just to screw with less-winged ponies.

“You mean you caught up to her?” My surprise was rather evident.

“Of course I did,” he gave an arrogant laugh, “There’s not a pony I couldn’t catch.”

“Bet there is,” my mind instantly jumped to Rainbow Dash, “Heard of a Sonic Rainboom?”

“Doesn’t exist,” he said quite plainly, not even blinking.  I guess he didn’t get out much.  You would figure a pegasus in charge of some branch of military would be on the lookout for other good fliers.

“Oh, HELL YEAH!” I suddenly bust out, pointing in his face as we approached the door to the throne room.  Not that he could see me pointing, “Seen it happen TWICE!  Rainbow Dash would leave you eating dust!”

“Whatever,” he really didn’t take me seriously at all.  I disapproved of his dismissal, “Compose yourself, you’re about to appear before Princess Celestia.”

“I know who I’m about to appear before,” I said with a roll of my eyes before pushing the door open, “Princess, your Captain of the Guard could use a few sensitivity-awareness seminars!”

Celestia didn’t look at all amused as I cantered in.  Can’t say I blame her.  Her baby sister was probably off in God-knows-where having the mental breakdown of the century.  Whether or not I did anything, it was still indirectly my fault.  If anything for my carelessness.  I took a drag off my smoke and shifted it over to the other side of my mouth before approaching the throne.  Normally, I would have gotten rid of my cigarette long ago, but quite frankly, I was stressed.  So very, very stressed.  And I didn’t see any No-Smoking signs anywhere, so to hell with it!

“I’ll see about arranging that for him, No-Name,” she said quite curtly, “And he’s not a guard.  He’s Captain of the Sky Archons.”

“What’s a Sky Archon?” I tilted my head before giving it a shake and holding up my hoof, “Skip it, we’ve got more important matters on our hands.  Hooves, whatever.”

“Indeed, we do.  My sister is gone, and we have your now-charred device to thank for that.” More elephants in the room being pointed out.  Just what we needed, I thought as she continued, “By the time she reached the city, she took flight.  Storm Wing caught up to her, but she resisted and he was unwilling to harm her in an effort to bring her back.”

“I see.” I glanced at Storm Wing and considered brohoofing him for playing it smart.  But then I decided not to.  Not exactly fond of the bastard. “What did she say about me and finding her?  And how long was this after Sparkles, here, decided to blindside me?”

“About half an hour after I dragged your heavy carcass into your cell,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone, though his words were hardly professional, “After trying to ground her, she lashed out at me.  I was able to evade her, but Luna’s no foal.  She knew I wouldn’t harm her, thus she made it impossible for me to get too close without doing so.  After realizing how futile my actions were, I asked what it would take for her to come back.  She stopped to think before telling me to get the nameless unicorn.  When I asked where she would be, she called back saying that you would know where to find her.”

“Indeed,” Celestia nodded, “Now, before we continue.  What exactly has happened here, my little human?”

Ideas for a new toy line in Equestria, anyone?

“I don’t know,” I shook my head, taking a drag off my smoke, “I have a few guesses, some of them pretty horrific.  As for what exactly, I’ve got nothing solid so... I’ve no idea.  The fact that she’s able to speak, fly, and hold a conversation is a good thing.  However, that may also end up being a bad thing.  I just don’t know.  I have to find her.”

“Agreed,” she responded immediately, “Silverheart?”

The throne room door opened up and in walked that same silly silver guard that was kind enough to break my fall earlier.  Upon pulling off her (sorry, I wasn’t exactly giving enough of a damn when I first saw her to try to distinguish her gender) helmet and kneeling, she spoke loud and clear.

“Yes, your highness?” she asked, keeping her eyes lowered.

“Fetch my Sky Carriage for our guest to use.  Captain Storm Wing, you are to escort him,” she ordered.

“Oh, hell no!” I blurted, the Mareboro falling out of my mouth as my jaw dropped in dismay, “Celestia, you cannot be serious.”

Princess Celestia,” Storm Wing growled, not appreciating the familiar way I addressed his Princess.  Well, that was all I needed to know.  Cross ‘Princess’ off the list for Words In My Vocabulary.  We might salvage this day, yet!

“Silence, Captain,” she ordered curtly, before turning on me.  She started pretty softly, but by the time she was done, she definitely did not sound so regal and pleasant, “Yes, my nameless friend.  An escort.  You may very well be the last hope of saving my sister from whatever she’s done.  This isn’t up for debate, you will be protected, and you will do everything in your power to bring her back to me.  I know you are not purposefully causing all of this mayhem in my darling Equestria, but the fact remains that you ARE causing it, nonetheless!  So, if you give me any reason to doubt you, or cause me to think that you are incapable, I’ll have Storm Wing put you in a place that I can promise you know nothing of and where my beautiful sun will never grace your lovely grey face ever again!  Are we clear?”

Daaaaaamn~!

I gulped, “Crystal.”

“Excellent,” she said, narrowing her eye(s?) before aiming her horn at me and firing a beam from it, “This is to make it easier on you.  Now go.  I do not enjoy making threats, but rest assured, I’m a pony of her word.” (Anyone else have absolutely no problem believing that?)

I cringed away from the spell, but as soon as it hit me, I realized it was a restorative one.  All the pain and bruises (THANK GOD) faded quickly and simply left feelings of empowerment.  I took a deep breath before realizing that it had even removed the lung damage that the stupid cigarettes had afflicted me with.  I don’t know if it was a side effect of the spell or just the relief from all the pain, but whatever the case, I was ready to take on an army.  I felt amazing.

“Yeah!” I reared up and slammed down, snorting a bit of fire as I smiled widely, “Well, I’ll see what I can’t do with the boyscout!  C’mon, Storm Wing!”

I kid you not, I was on top of the world.  I turned and galloped out of the throne room with Silver Heart and Storm Wing slowly cantering behind me.  I stepped back out into fresh air before finishing my smoke and flicking it (Didn’t even bother trying to figure out how, this time) into a nearby courtyard bush.

“I’ll return shortly,” Silverheart promised us before departing.

I cantered in place for a bit before rearing up on my back two legs a second time, this time to stretch with a loud groan.

“Feeling better, I see,” Storm Wing remarked before sighing as if he was about to do something he didn’t want to do, “Listen, I know you don’t like me.  You don’t have much reason to.  I just want you to know, I’m going to do everything I can to help.  Just keep me in the loop and I’ll try to stay out of the way.  I’m not stupid, I know you’re pretty much the only shot I have of bringing Luna back safely and I’m not going to let my pride screw that up.”

So now Storm Wing was suddenly being an okay guy.  That didn’t sit well with me.  I hated not being friends with cool people.  And he was a badass pony so not being friends with him already sucked.  I didn’t want to like him, though.  I eventually sighed and turned to face the Sky Archon (whatever the hell that is).

“Look, Storm,” I began to say before suddenly spotting HIM walking up the entrance hall.  I paused for several seconds, staring at the pony headed towards the throne room before looking back at Storm Wing, “Uhhh... Actually, you want to help?”

“Of course,” he was so serious.  Quite the trooper.

I smiled deviously.  As a brony, what I was about to do was my civic duty.  Maybe not civic, but it was pretty much an opportunity that I would regret for the rest of my life, should I let it pass.  Also, nopony would ever forgive me.

“Look the other way for ten seconds.  I’m not going to run away and it’s not like you couldn’t catch me.  Just look over there,” I pointed off into the distance at the courtyard, where absolutely nothing resided beyond the palace decor.

Storm Wing decided to give me a rather skeptical look (>implying he was looking at all?!).  When he opened his mouth to speak, I cut him off.

“Ah-ah-ah.  Help, right?  Trust me on this.  This will make the entire day go by much more easily.  Be right back,” I promised him.  Eventually, he took my word and stared out into the courtyard.  Then I bolted.  Not running away.  No.  No, I was running towards some pony.  Had to reach him before he made it to the throne room.  I could tell I wasn’t going to be in time.  Then I remembered that he wouldn’t recognize me.  Just had to delay him a little.

“Prince Blueblood!” I called out, causing the royal pony to stop just before the door.  He didn’t have any servants with him to open it for him, so I don’t know why he was headed that way.  I mean, it wasn’t like he was going to open the damn thing, right?  That was all I needed, “Let me get that for you, your highness!”

He paused and looked delighted to see somepony rushing to his pampering, but quickly recovered to looking oh-so-princely.  I approached with a big smile and as soon as I closed the distance, it was on.  BAM, I BUCKED THAT ROYAL PAIN-IN-THE-BUTT RIGHT IN THE FACE!

“THAT’S FOR MISS RARITY, YOU HORSE’S ASS!” I shouted at him as he fell back onto his haunches, more horrified than hurt  I’m pretty sure Celestia could hear the entire thing since I was just a few feet from the door, but as long as she didn’t see it, I could play coy with her later, “I can’t believe the Princess let you grow up to be such a complete waste of air!  You’re a disgrace to royalty of ALL races!  I hope this wake-up call gets you somewhere in life, Prince Black-Eye!”

I turned to canter back to Storm Wing, whom was shaking just a bit and I couldn’t figure out why.  Just as I figured out that he was actually trying not to laugh, I heard that albino jerk call out after us.

“C-Captain Storm Wing!  Arrest th-that brute!” he commanded, his voice cracking a little from what I desperately hoped was efforts made to avoid crying.

Storm Wing froze up suddenly before turning about and grimacing.  I figured this might happen, but I had already decided that it was worth it.  That prancy self-absorbed prick needed it so badly and I was all too happy to be of service, even if it got me in trouble.

“I’m sorry, Prince Blueblood, but Princess Celestia has ordered me to keep him safe and assist him until he retrieves Princess Luna.  Placing him under arrest would greatly hinder him from carrying out his mission, which would directly conflict with her majesty’s orders.  I’m afraid I cannot carry out your command,” he said apologetically, bowing low to show his regret, “Please, forgive my inability, sire.”

Okay.  Now, Storm Wing was on my Awesome-Ponies list.  The look that Prince Blueblood gave us was worth getting thrashed by that blind, beautiful blue boy a hundred times!

I blew that sorry bastard a kiss as our chariot arrived and brohoofed Silverheart (she was a little caught off guard, I think) in the shoulder before hopping on and zooming off into the sky.  I didn’t even realize I was controlling the damn thing until I was long gone into the air.  Luckily, it was just like casting a magic spell and all that it required was for me to expect what I wanted to actually get it moving.  I checked to see if Storm Wing was keeping up.  He wasn’t kidding when he was bragging about his speed.  I don’t think he was even trying very hard and this carriage was hauling like an airliner.

It felt good, flying did.  I’ve always been one for speed and the wind in my hair, so this was absolutely divine, to say the least.  I didn’t have my shades on me, which was kind of a bummer, but meh.  If that was the worst thing about the trip, I’d make it out just fine.

“Well, for not having been a unicorn for very long, you’ve picked up magic pretty handily,” Storm Wing commented as he landed beside me, “You’re no foal, human.”

I started to point out that I had a name, but really, I didn’t.  Yeah, I know I still had a human name, but to be honest, it was nothing special.  I mean, what sucks more about having a lame name is having a lame name that six other people have that you know personally.  Ye be crushin’ me need ta be a unique snowflake, fate!

“So, uh... Thanks for not throwing me under the bus back there?”

Weird thing about blind ponies and people, they’re pretty damn good at poker faces.  All he did was arch an eyebrow and I wasn’t sure if it was surprise, irritation, contemplation, or if he just had the urge to wiggle a brow muscle.  Pretty sure it wasn’t that last one.  Maybe.

“I assume you’re thanking me for not arresting you for assaulting a member of the royal family,” he confirmed before continuing, “Prince Blueblood is young and very foalish.  He doesn’t understand the weight of his responsibilities nor the consequences of his very selfish actions.  I can’t say I wouldn’t have taken action against you, had I not been under conflicting orders, human.  But, I will... admit... that I found it very hard to not laugh.  And yes, he’s had that coming for years.”

“You’re damn straight,” I gave a nod, “So, to find Luna.  Okay.  That I can do.  Just gotta think.”

Princess Luna.  And what do you mean?  You don’t know?” he was a tad surprised, “She said you would know where to find her!”

“I think she was referencing that I would know how to find her and less specifically where to find her,” I pointed out as I began contemplating, running a hoof over my chin.

“I hope that doesn’t complicate things,” Storm Wing did not like the possibility of uncertainty, I could tell.

“Meh, all it means is that she would go someplace that the rest of you ponies wouldn’t go.  A place that a human wouldn’t be daunted by something that would prevent most ponies from visiting,” I began to think as we soared along at LUDICROUS SPEED.  It didn’t take me long, however.  There was only one place that I knew of that ponies actively avoided altogether.

“Oh,” I gave a chuckle, “Of course.”

“That simple, hmm?  Let’s hear it, pal,” he asked with a wing nudge at my ribs.  I’ll take the time to mention, I’m tired of other ponies having wings.  You’re probably tired of hearing about it.  That’s okay, too.

“Oh, well it’s quite simple, actually.  It’s a place where the ponies won’t go for certain.  Well, not without a damn good reason, anyway,” I said with a nod, “‘Where the trees grow, the animals care for themselves and the clouds move... All on their own~!’

“What?” he wasn’t catching onto the reference.  Poor guy never saw (HAH!) the show.  Go figure.

“The Everfree Forest, my sparky friend,” I smirked as I pulled out a Mareboro, “Let’s do this!”

With that, I cranked up the speed on Celestia’s Awesome Sky-Carriage of Awesomeness™.  Let me tell you, that thing could pull some G’s.  I’m pretty sure I approached Sonic Flameboom speeds back there as I hauled off towards Ponyville, from which I could easily navigate myself to the Everfree Forest .  One bad thing about such speeds is that you cut the lifetime of your cigarette down dramatically due to wind.  Still, that was probably for the best.  Didn’t want to spoil my newfound health so quickly.  You might think, ‘Hey!  This is a perfect time for him to quit!’ but then I would remind you, ‘Hey!  I avoid all things mentally exhausting!’

As we passed over Ponyville, I decided to fly low.  I was hoping to spot one of the Mane Six in hopes of getting a bit of guidance, as they’ve all be in the forest at least twice.  Sure enough, as I passed over Town Square, I spotted Twilight pawing at the dirt near the crater.  She looked like she had brought out her entire library and laboratory with her.

“DETOUR!” I yelled as I suddenly swung it around, throwing poor Storm Wing right off due to my rapid, unexpected turn.

I broke speed just above Twilight and laughed at Sparky as he oriented himself.  Twilight spotted us and waved a hoof with an excited smile.  I smiled at my sparky friend and lowered the Carriage.

“Cute,” his visage was not a happy one.  Which, of course, made me happy, in return, “Why are we stopping?”

“Phoning a friend,” I answered as I hopped off beside the purple pony, “Twilight!”

I gave her a big pony hug, to which she laughed a bit, “Hey, No-Name.  Did you learn anything from Princess Luna?  And who’s your friend?”

“This stick-in-the-mud is to be ignored,” I assured her with a nod, “He’s also blind, so you can make faces at him and he won’t know!  See watch!”

I turned and stuck my tongue out at him.  Twilight had her usual reaction:  Stare at me like I was nuts.

“How mature.  Get your tongue back in your muzzle,” he groaned before sighing, “Look, human, I’m not wasting time.  Catch up to me at the Everfree Forest.  I’ll try and find Luna while you’re busy playing hooky with your fillyfriend.  Hopefully, by the time you’re done blowing off your responsibilities, all you’ll have to do is meet up with me and we can go straight to her.”

“Whatever you say, Stick-in-the-mud!” I called out to him, smirking as he turned around and bolted...

Actually, let me explain.  When I say ‘bolted,’ I don’t mean he took off really fast.  I mean it was like he made like a bolt of lightning and was gone.  He also left us with a deafening thunder crack and a charred spot where he once was.  Now, I can safely say he was a bigger showoff than me.

“Wow,” Twilight blinked to clear up her eyes, “Flashy.”

“Yeah,” I muttered, a little worried that he might actually be a little faster than my favorite RoyGBiv’d pony.  I then remembered what I had stopped for and turned to look at Twilight, “So, what did you find out?  Also, are you free to come with me to the Everfree forest?”

“What?  No, I’m still busy here!  I’ve learned a lot, though!” she pointed at her book (It was as thick as War & Peace!) full of notes and began to recite her findings, “As you can see...”

“Woah, woah, woah.  Hold up,” I cut her off, giving her a bashful smile, “Twilight, could you cast a spell to create an exact copy of this book?  Like right now?  I’m on a time budget.”

“Oh, to read on the way?  Hmm, I guess so,” she said after a moment of contemplation, “Here, come this way.  This crater’s radiating some form of magic suppressant.”

We walked about twenty feet away from the crater before stopping.  If I wasn’t in such a rush, the entire idea of anti-magic would have made my blood run cold, but at the time, there wasn’t much of a chance of distracting me.

“I can’t promise anything but... Here goes,” her modesty was so cute!

With a pop, an exact replica fell beside the first.  Let me channel Trixie here and ask you all, ‘Was there ever any doubt?’  I levitated it up and flipped through the pages for a few seconds before nodding, “Twilight, you are frigg’n OP, girl.  I hope I get a sweetheart back home that’s half as awesome as you.”

“Uhh.  Thanks?” she blushed, not knowing what to think of that before gasping, “You learned how to use magic!”

“Hells yeah!  And now it’s time to burn some valuable literature!” I exclaimed before setting down it back down and stomping down about it, absorbing it like a pro.

“What are you doing?!” she gasped before seeing me tremble all over, sorting through all the information she had compiled, “What... did you do?”

We know Twilight’s smart.  I don’t think anyone knows just how smart she really is.  Just to give you a quick rundown (I am summarizing and skipping so much here, you just haven’t got a clue).  She had notes, measurements, hypotheses (Yeah, that’s the correct way to spell the plural form.  I would know.  It was in Twilight’s notes!), results of many many many experiments (yeah, it was that many.  Like... Dozens.), anti-magic equations, a few solid theories on the effects of prolonged exposure to what she called the ‘antimagic radiating submatter henceforth known as Inmanipulon,’ the process of how the radiating dirt prevented magic (I can’t even pronounce some of these words), the interactive process between the anti-magic and magic radiation which she called ‘Manipulable Antisubdimensional-Resonance Relativity,’ possible applications concerning antimagic uses if made controllable, ... … I’m boring you, aren’t I?  Well, I understood most of it simply because she was that thorough explaining every last detail, with little over two hundred footnotes and references to books, laws, and theories.

TL;DR - Twilight knows more about magic than anything you know about anything.  By a long shot. (Seriously, where did all those botched-spell fics even come from?)

As I tried to contend with the rush of information, I felt Twilight’s hoof rest onto my shoulder.  It was like choking down a dry peanut butter sandwich with my mind.  After a good two minutes of trying, I simply forced my mind to think about ponies to occupy it with something else.  Luckily that seemed to work just fine and I was overjoyed to discover that just the thought of ponies made my life so much easier yet again.  It took another moment to gather my thoughts before accessing the information once more, this time choking the flow of information more fluidly.

The high points were:

1).  It was new.  Never before had such a thing as anti-magic ever existed in Equestria.

2).  It could be overpowered with enough magic to counter balance, but the ratio was staggeringly sided towards the anti-magic.

3).  It was composed of undocumented elements.

“Ow,” I said as my eyes rolled back into my head for a moment, “Twilight, how long have you been out here?”

“About eleven hours,” she answered with bashful smile, looking somewhat ashamed for having done so.

“It shows,” I responded, giving my head a shake to clear it up a bit, “Wow, that’s pretty amazing, to be honest.  Okay, this anti-magic...”

“Inmanipulon,” Twilight corrected with a hopeful smile.

“I’m... I’m not going to call it that, Twilight,” I shook my head with a chuckle, “Anyway, see if you can determine the source of this stuff and I’ll be back to help with speculation and theories.  I can already tell you a couple of these are wrong.  Also, since y'all are gonna be busy, who can I hit up to help me navigate the Everfree Forest?”

“Um, Twilight.  Excuse me, but I got everything you asked for,” I heard a quiet, familiar voice peep up behind me, “I... I’m sorry, am I interrupting?”

It wasn’t even a thought process, really.  Stoic just stepped aside as Lafter barrelled right into my immediate decision making.  I instantly shrieked like a woman and turned to wrap my hooves about Fluttershy’s neck, causing her to seize up like I had thrown cold water on her.  I was shaking all over, and to say that I was out of control was a practice in understating.

FLUTTERSHY!!” I can’t say I even recognized my voice.

Fluttershy dropped the basket of whatever she was carrying and thankfully did not start flailing in panic (The basket, nor it’s contents were Fluttershy, so I did not care about them).

“N... No-Name, you’re going to give her a heart attack!” Twilight protested, looking rather distraught at my lack of personal space respect.

“I’m so sorry!” my voice became deadly serious.  I didn’t let go, I just kinda stopped all the bouncing and shaking, “Fluttershy.  I apologize.  Do you accept my apology?  I will cry if you say no.”

“W-What?!”  the poor confused pony gasped.  Even ‘er gashps are grasheful~!

“You don’t want me to cry do you?” I pleaded with a whine, sounding extra ridiculous in my opinion.  I know, it was way too much.  I was lost in the moment.  My apologies to everyone.

“N... N-N... N-No?” she stammered eventually.

“I’m sorry for scaring you,” I was still hugging her like a champ.

“It’s... It’s... … It’s alright,” she finally muttered, giving a hesitant laugh.

“I’mma let you go.  Don’t run away, please.  I need your help to save the princess.  You want to help save the princess, right?” I begged, struck with the idea that she could be my guide!  Time spent with Fluttershy!  It was like Christmas!  Only 20% co-... You get the idea.

“No-Name!  Stop that this instant!” I heard Twilight cry out at me.  I’m sorry, Twilight, No-Name is not available at the moment.  Please leave your name and number and he’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

“What?!  That’s your name?!” Fluttershy didn’t seem to trust me very much.  And here I was being so nice.

“Help me, Fluttershy!  You’re my only hope!” I urged her.

“I give up!” Twilight finally left me alone.  See, she is a smart girl.

“O-Okay!  I’ll help!” Fluttershy promised, “J-Just let me go!  Please!”

I disengaged from Fluttershy with a squeak-smile (DAMN IT, THERE IT WAS AGAIN!).  She looked quite frazzled, standing at the ready to dodge in case I lost control again.  I sat on my haunches and smiled happily at her before nodding, “Right.  Then we best get going.  Princess Luna needs our help.”

“R-Right now!?” she looked absolutely horrified.

“Yes, of course, ‘R-Right now!’  Princess Luna won’t save herself,” I nodded enthusiastically, “C’mon!”

“But, uh...” she still didn’t trust me!  After all we had been through!  Yeah, I know.  Shut up.

“Twilight, please tell her I’m not dangerous,” I said with a pout.  Man, looking back, even I can say I was acting pretty damn weird.

“Ugh.  Fine.  But only because you actually do need a guide,” Twilight rolled her eyes before looking to Fluttershy, “I know, Fluttershy, he’s quite bizarre, but he’s harmless.  Just don’t stand close to him when he breathes that paper roll of his.  It smells awful.”

Smoke?  Around Fluttershy?  What kind of barbarian did she take me for?

“There you have it, my lovely pink-haired friend!” I exclaimed before hopping back onto the Carriage, “Let’s go be heroes!”

Fluttershy’s jaw dropped a bit as she tried to think of something to say before looking back at Twilight, who was already back to work at the crater.  I gave an encouraging smile, to which she sighed miserably and got onto the cart beside me.

“No-Name,” I heard Twilight call out after me.

“Yes, my pretty purple pony pal?” I smiled over at her, only to grimace at the glare I got in return.

“If anything happens to Fluttershy, you will be held responsible,” she swore to me.  The fire in her eyes kinda made me feel like a small match in comparison.

After recovering from the initial shock, I smiled and nodded, “Of course, Twilight.  Trust me, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I let something happen to the kindest pony in both our worlds.”

“I’m just warning y-,” she started to say, cutting her eyes at me.

“Good heavens, look at my wrist, is that the time?  We’d best be going!” I laughed loudly before zipping off, entirely uncomfortable with being on the business end of Twilight’s horn.

Fluttershy was not used to riding, I noted, because she grabbed me in shock, to which she felt even less safe and instantly let go.  I laughed and slowed it down a bit for her, cracking my neck as I let the wind catch my mane.

“So, anyway, here’s the rundown,” I began, nodding quite seriously, “Princess Luna’s pretty unstable right now and she’s in the Everfree Forest waiting to speak to me.  I’ve never been in the Everfree Forest and since you live right on the edge of it, I figured you would know how to navigate it pretty well.”

Fluttershy stared at me for several seconds.  Apparently, my change in attitude was a little sudden for her and after thinking upon my words, she nodded timidly.

“How do you know my name?” she queried me.  Damn it, the track record was so good, nobody had asked that yet!  Fluttershy is the c-c-c-combo breaker!

“It’s uh... It’s complicated,” I started, trying to think up an elaborate ruse.  I could have just said Twilight told me or something, but as I turned to look in those big, questioning turquoise eyes, I’m not sure I could have handled it if she ever found out that I lied to her, “You see, I’m not from this world.  And... I... Ah, hell.”

“What’s ‘hell?’” she asked, tilting her head cutely.

OMG BORDERLINE FLUTTERCUSSING!

“Don’t say that word, Fluttershy, it’s a bad word.” I instantly informed her, internally berating myself out for not having shown some restraint, “I have bad habits, you don’t want to mimic them.”

She looked so chastised, I don’t think I could have yelled at her and got a more intense reaction without her actually running away in tears,”S-S-Sorry.”


“Oh... No. Nononono. Please, do not Fluttercry.  I might not survive that,” I felt weak at whatever you call a pony’s knees.  
(Are they just knees?) What had I done?!

“What?” the very word seemed to confluttershy her even more, which thankfully distracted her from her sadness.

“Nothing.  Here’s the truth, Fluttershy, I come from a world where we watch... I guess they’re not just... Whatever, we watch other worlds for entertainment, pleasure, inspiration, education, and a sense of desire to relate to ourselves,” I said with a helpful smirk, “You’re pretty famous where I come from.”

“W... What?!” she looked utterly put out at the thought of being famous again.  Also, she said ‘What’ a lot, “W-Why am I famous?!”

“Because you’re the kindest, cutest, sweetest, soft-hearted pony ever,” I replied with a laugh, smiling at her, “If somepony can’t relate to you, they want to protect you, if they can’t protect you, they want to empower you.  You’re an idol.  When you faced down the dragon, you were inspiring.  When you stared down the cockatrice, you were a hero!  When you... Well, you get the idea.  In short, Fluttershy, you’re pretty awesome.  And I’m sorry about the scare back there with all the hugging.  You’re just that much of a positive influence on a lot of lives.  At least I didn’t pass out this time.  Rainbow Dash just caught me off guard so much.”

Her eyes were about as big as baseballs as she stared at me in awe.  She eventually smiled a bit and looked down, all bashful and adorable.

“I guess... that... that doesn’t sound so... bad, actually,” she murmured, mostly to herself.

“It sure doesn’t,” I confirmed as we neared the edge of the Everfree Forest, “Also, don’t worry about me getting scared or anything.  Where I come from, all animals, plants, and clouds are like the Everfree Forest.”

That seemed to disturb her on a deep level.

I lowered the Sky Carriage just outside the forest and hopped off with a nod, “Alright, let’s rock.”

“We’re um... not going to fly?” she asked as she followed suit.

“Nah, she’ll think it’s Celestia or one of her guards,” I reasoned, “Which is also why I didn’t bother stopping my escort from going on ahead of me.  See, she wants to speak specifically to me.”

“Why is that?” she arched her eyebrow.

“Because she did something silly, and I’m quite possibly the only person... Or... pony, whatever... that can relate to the knowledge she now holds.  Well, at least the only one in Equestria,” I began to make tracks, already wanting a cigarette, “Lead on, Yellow-One.  My first guess is the ruins that used to house the Elements of Harmony!”

We continued to make small talk as we entered the forest.  She mostly pointed out the flora and fauna, letting me know what was safe and what wasn’t.  She also gave her opinions on what was cute, which was just about everything that wasn’t absolutely horrendous (in which case it was still ‘nice’).  Luckily, The Nightmare didn’t pull a load of hijinks trying to slow us down or something, since that would have just made me want a cigarette even more.  As we got further in, the sky itself seemed to darken.  I went to check my phone for the time before rolling my eyes, remembering I didn’t have it anymore!  

Also, news flash, either the Everfree Forest isn’t that big, or Fluttershy is an amazing guide.  Either way, it did not take us long to make it to that chasm right before the Ruins of the Ancient Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters (Yeah, I’m not making that name up.).   The rope bridge was still intact, it seemed, so I just walked right across.  Fluttershy (amazingly) elected to fly alongside me, causing me to wonder if she had toughened up just a little.  The answer to that unspoken question is no.  She had not.  For when the skies began to thunder and a certain annoying purple cloud zipped right on past us, her wings shut right up.

“Fluttershy!” I gave a shout as I leaned over the rail to catch her tail with my mouth.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, Fluttershy is not as light as a butterfly, or even a hundred butterflies.  In fact, she weighs just as much as a pony should!  Which I was barely able to hold onto without falling off the bridge myself, “Fra’ ‘or ‘ings!”

Her response was to flail in a panic.  Apparently, Rainbow Dash was not kidding when she said that was Fluttershy’s answer to everything back in that dress episode.  I mean, my heart goes out to the poor thing and all, but this was seriously starting to wear on my jaw.

“Frap!  ‘or!  ‘ings!” I ordered as hard as I could through the pink fluffy tail.

That’s when I heard Luna scream from inside the ruins.  Oh.  Dear.  God.  I did NOT want to have to make a choice here.

“FRUDDERSHY!” I gave her tail a jerk to try and get her attention, “‘OU ‘AFF TO FRY!  PRINTESS ROONA ISH IN DROUBUL!”

I can only hope that she just couldn’t understand what I was saying and not simply letting her fear control her so completely.  Luckily, it didn’t matter for that was when that blessed blue idiot showed up trailing a streak of lightning behind him.  Captain Tas... Storm Wing.  Yeah, he’s not so bad, I’ll admit.  He flew beneath Fluttershy and reached out his hooves to take hold of her.

“C’mere, sweetheart,” he said reassuringly.  Fluttershy attached herself to him like she’d never let go in a million years, trembling like a self-playing maraca.  He looked up at me as he strained a tad with his new passenger, “Human, The Nightmare is headed this way.”

“It’s already here,” I called back as I turned to dash away, “Get her out of here, it may already be too late!  And warn Princess Celestia!”

I heard him call out after a moment’s hesitation, “Don’t bother coming back without the Princess!”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly!” I stuck my tongue back out at him before looking back ahead of me.

Yeah.  Heroics.  I’m stupid like that.

I barrelled towards the wooden entrance and turned it into ash with a bit of firebreath, before tearing up the grassy atrium behind it, still galloping as fast as I possibly could.  As I looked outside, I noticed the sky began to brighten somewhat again, and that the thunder had entirely stopped.  Running up the stairs to that final tower, I could hear The Nightmare scream out in frustration and rage.  Luna was fighting back, it seemed.  I was hoping that she was beating the evil out of that damn cloud.

Remember when I said I had no stamina?  I wasn’t lying.  By the time I made it up all those damn stairs to the farthest tower, I was sweating from pores I didn’t even know I had and doing a fine impression of Twilight Sparkle from the day before.  So much for heroics.  I finally stumbled out the last few steps into the Hall of Harmony (totally made that one up!) and looked to see Luna and The Nightmare standing off like the start of a round of Street Fighter or something.

“Whoo~!” I cried out, happy that I wasn’t too late.  Not sure why, it wasn’t as though I was going to do anything besides pull out a cigarette and sit my tired plot down, “That... … I am so... *huff*  out of shape.”

“It’s the beast!” The Nightmare spat in its spooky formless voice.

Luna was staring at me as though she couldn’t decide if she was happy to see me or not.

I lit my cigarette and wiped my brow, “I was... *gasp* scared I wouldn’t be... *wheeze* in time.  You okay, L.... Luna?”

“After what you’ve done to her?!” The Nightmare laughed, “What a question!”

“Sorry, I... I was speaking,” I gulped a bit after my first drag, starting to ease somewhat, “To Luna.  Not... the cliche villain with... its cheesy lines.  Hush and let the... *cough~!* big ponies talk!”

Luna glared a bit, her gaze switching between the both of us.  She gave a shudder all over before suddenly snapping aloud at no one in particular, “I’m... I’m not okay!  I c-can’t... even think s-s-straight!”

“I’m kinda... surprised you can think at all,” I admitted with a nod, “Rainbow Dash is obviously... not the Iron Pony after all.”

“Princess Luna, do not let his soothing words sway you from what you know you must do!” The Nightmare spoke urgently, “Together you and I can accomplish just that.”

“Oh, brother... If... I don’t have a heart attack first,” I said, holding a hoof over my chest, still panting rather hard as I rolled my eyes, “I think the cliche... might kill me.”

“Shut up!” they both shouted at me in stereo.

“‘Mkay,” I nodded, taking another puff.

“I c-can’t trust you, Ni-Ni... … Nightmare,” she turned to the mist and glared, still quaking all over, “I know that much after a th-thou-thousand years.”

“But you also know I am no human!” it reasoned, starting to slowly float her way, “You know what they will do should they find their way here as we found them!  Look at what its done to you!”

I snorted mirthfully, shaking my head.  I know I played a part in it, but I know Luna wasn’t stupid enough to discount her own accountability in the matter.

“That’s far e... enough Nightmare!  And y-you!” she turned to me, “W-Wuh-Why did you lie to me!?”

I hung my head a bit, sighing softly, “Just... trying to protect you... And all the other ponies.  There’s a lot of things that take place where I come from that I’m not entirely proud of.”

“You see!?” that annoying mist bellowed, “Even the beast can not deny its own race’s corruption!”

So then I stood back up and took off the kiddy gloves.

“Honestly?  I mean, really?  You’re trying to sell to Luna that you’re the lesser of two evils?  You?  The fiend that poisoned her mind for a thousand years,” I’d heard enough of this bullshit.

“You have d-,” it started to say before I continued as though I weren’t listening (I really wasn’t, actually.).

“You, that tried to overthrow the throne the very minute you broke free!” I snapped, cantering a few steps forward and taking a drag off my Mareboro.

“It was for the greater good!” it responded, almost so quickly as though it had heard this argument before.

“And despite all that, you’re the pot calling the kettle black?!” I barked out, pulling the smoke from my mouth and using it to point at the Nightmare, “You’re literally the very IDEA of what ponies think of when they think of evil!  And you’re trying to tell us that you’re not so bad?  That I’m the fiend here?”

“You are!” it didn’t sound so certain all of a sudden.  And it was quite aware that we could tell.

“That me, the guy who really has no stake in this world and is rushing to Luna’s aide in her time of need, is the ‘Beast,’ here?” I yelled as I dropped my cigarette onto the ground and crushed it with a fiery stomp, “Are you even listening to what you’re saying?”

“Silence!  Silence, you monster!” it repeated over and over, trying to cut me off.

“Are you even sentient enough to know what sort of drivel it is that you’re spouting!?” I shouted above its protests, “Are you even aware?”

“I... SILENCE!” it began to pulse in frustration before starting to move at me, “NO MORE, YOU UNNATURAL ABOMINATION!”

“Or are you just a base incarnation of destruction and entropy that will grasp at any straw it can find?” I implored, snorting flame and cutting an accusatory glare at The Nightmare, “Perhaps I’m wrong but let’s flip this coin!  Perhaps you’re just seeing what I COULD become!  Perhaps you’re seeing me become YOU!  Perhaps it is YOU that is the unnatural one here!”

“RAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!  ENOUGH!” It suddenly dove at me, “I BROUGHT YOU TO THIS WORLD!  AND I WILL REMOVE YOU FROM IT!”

Now, fillies and gentlecolts, I was very interested in where this was going.  I dove right back at it, ready to throwdown like a champ.  I swear, I think being a fire pony just brought the violent side out of me.  I did not get my chance, however, for Luna blasted The Nightmare away with a big beam of light that looked potent enough to knock chunks out of a bulldozer.  The Nightmare screamed out as it was thrown against the wall, where it was then pinned thanks to Luna’s next spell.  It looked... like a blue strobe-light, really.  Anti-Nightmare Flashy spell;  Very handy.

“Y-Yuh... You lied t-to me... A-And I... W-Was almost ssstupid enough t-to-to trust yuh... you again!” she brokenly yelled at The Nightmare as it began to take form and audibly strain against the light.  Surprisingly enough, it slowly shaped into the armor that Nightmare Moon had worn, only there was nothing wearing it, “You d... d... did bring him huh-here!  You s-seh-said they w... were conspir-ring against Equest... Equestria!”

The disembodied armor began to laugh, still occasionally groaning against Luna’s spell, “Yes, Princess Luna.  I... I brought him here.  All it takes is one.  I chose even one of the str... stronger, kinder ones.”

Thanks, I guess?

“Why?” I asked, stepping closer as my eyes strained against the light.

“It takes only one,” it replied, still laughing weakly, “Just one.  And Equestria will crumble.  Less... than two days since your arrival and... You’ve c... corrupted the Princess.  How much more proof does... one even need?”

“I d-did it to muh-myself!” she argued, stamping a hoof and empowering the flickering light.

“The wa... way does not matter,” cracks began to appear in the armor, causing it to whimper somewhat, “Aaah!  I f... finally have my r... revenge!”

“You h-have nothing!” Luna cried, strengthening the spell’s potency further yet, “This isss... is the end, Nightmare!”

“You... Only... Bring... Proof to my words!” the cracks began to cover the armor as the spell began to slowly break it apart.

Like a brick, it hit me that it was right.  Luna was going to destroy The Nightmare.  I don’t know to this day whether or not I made the right decision, but I rushed over and knocked Luna over with a shove of my hooves, disrupting the spell.  The Nightmare took advantage of its life-saving liberty and sped out the closest window into the Everfree Forest.

“What ah-are you d-doing?!” Luna shrieked at me, jumping up and shoving me as I had done her.

“Stopping you from doing something you might regret later,” even though that was the exact reason I had done so, my words sounded pretty hollow.

“T-That w... was muh-my decision to make!” she turned and gave me a buck to the chin.  I am so very abused.  Not certain, but I’m pretty sure I deserved it all.

“Ow,” I answered, not sure what else to say.  

Luna suddenly gasped, realizing what she had done and covered her mouth with a hoof as she looked back at me.  It was a blow to the heart to see her start to tear up as she fell back on her haunches and shut her eyes.

“I’ll be okay,” I promised her, walking around to sit down in front of her, “Seriously, I’ve had worse.  And I understand.  It’s fine.”

“It’s not fuh-fine!” she hollered, breaking down into a sob, “What h-have I duh... done to myself!?”

I reached out a hoof and set it on her shoulder, “You bit the proverbial fruit of knowledge.  And it’s messing with you.  But it’s not the end of the world.  Yours or mine.”

“I j-just h... hit you,” she lowered her head as her tears began to drip onto the dank stone floor, “I... I n-never hit any... anypony before!  And I... I almost k... k...”

“Yeah.  You almost did,” I nodded, smiling at her before lifting up her chin to look at me, “And I stopped you.  Intentions or not, it didn’t happen.  You can’t be punished for something you didn’t do.  And you don’t even hit as hard as my big sister, so I don’t think that lovetap counts either.”

She gave another sob as I wiped her tears away with a hoof.  Not sure how a hoof does that, but it did, “Y-Yuh... You are s... so s-stupid.”

“God, if I only had a dollar every time I heard that,” I reminisced, smirking at her.

Her sobs were interrupted with a laugh (I felt pretty damn good about that, actually.  I kid you not, that was up there with brohoofing Dash.).  She looked back down for a moment and sniffled a bit before wiping at her nose.

“What was it like?” I asked, knowing she would know exactly what I was referencing.

“Too much,” she shook her head, “I’m th... t-tens of thousands of years old.  Hundreds of t... thousands couldn’t have prepared me.  I... It was like reading a billion books at once... In a t... thousand d... d-different languages.  I wa... wasn’t even... Ugh... I h-hate s... stuttering!”

“It’s kinda cute, actually,” I stuck my tongue out at her.

Wrong joke!  She hoofed me right in the shoulder hard enough to knock me onto my back as I laughed.  Celestia, I’m sorry; your healing spell was for naught.

“Y... You’re s... so happy!” she snarled, turning away from me as I sat back up with a chuckle, “How... How i-is that p... p... possible?”

“Luna, my silly filly,” I said as I pulled out another cigarette with a smile, “I told your sister something along these lines.  Where I come from, bad things happen.  All the time.  This may sound bad, but think along the lines of a stroke and what that does to people.  That’s rough stuff.  This?  Yeah, it’s rough.  And it’s going to change your life.  But you gotta take the good with the bad and only let the good get to you.  Like a good/bad filter.”

Luna coughed a bit, clearing up the last of her tears as she glared at me out of the corner of her eyes, “I s... still think y-you’re stupid.  Nameless jerk.”

“Yeah, well,” I nodded in consensus before lighting my cigarette, “I’m still the coolest human you’ve ever met.”

She rolled her eyes, not able to keep herself from smirking, “That’s really h-how you f-face it.  Juh-just... block out the bad stuff.”

“More or less,” I gave a shrug, “I mean, don’t ignore it like it isn’t there.  You still have to face it.  Just don’t let it affect you.  You’ll always be the one in control.  Always keep in mind, the more crap you let roll around in your head, the more it will get to you.”

“S... simple as that,” she scoffed, shaking her head as if to say I was crazy.  Like so very many ponies before her.

“Eh... It’s slightly more nuanced than that, I admit,” I took a drag with a so-so wave of my hoof, “But it only gets easier with time.”

“Like antivirus for the b-brain,” she suggested.

“More like a feel-good firewall,” I joked a little, doing the famous pony-shrug.

“A firewall?” she seemed to think a bit, as if trying to remember what that meant, “Yeah.  F-Firewall.”

“Uh, yeah,” I nodded, arching an eyebrow, “That’s what I said.”

“Well, we s-should get back to C-Canterlot,” she said before pausing and tossing a wink my way, “Firewall.”

I winced as I realized what she had just done.  Pinkie Pie was going to be so completely devastated when she later discovered that she didn’t get to name me after all.

Chapter Four!                                                                                Chapter Six!


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Six:  Chapter Hard With A Vengeance

For Equestria!  And for Celestia!

Author’s Notes:  Vacation was great!  Thanks for all the birthday wishes everypony!  Now we should be back to a semi-regular schedule again.  I hope.  XP  Anyway, Ice Storm has been inspired by Wrek to do some digital art and there was an early attempt made that I’ll show you soon!  I’ll miss the newspaper style stuff if he sticks to this, but I will say, I love this just as much!  I’ll include that in the next chapter.  For now, you get to see Wrek’s AMAZING Storm Wing.  I love Storm Wing, to be honest.  Maybe more than Firewall.  He’s like that badass blind old samurai or something.  Regardless.  Be awestruck!

“Firewall,” Luna asked me as we walked out of the... Y’know what, I’m not going to write that ridiculously long name out (Fine!  The Ruins Of The Castle Of The Royal Pony Sisters), “I’m a l-little w... worried.”

“You’re gonna stick with that one, eh?” I confirmed my name before looking at her, arching an eyebrow, “What’s up?”

“I’m j-just... wonde...wondering,” she murmured as we approached that damnable bridge, “Things aren’t g-going to be the s... same for me, obviously.  What about Eqweh... Equestria?”

I shook my head and sat back before shrugging, “Get out of my head, girl.”

I glanced at her, my mood becoming a tad overcast as she realized she wasn’t the only one following that line of thought.  For those that aren’t keeping up, let me put things into perspective.  Luna had acquired the knowledge of a civilization.  Not just a mind, not just a genius, not just a university, not just a multi-level library, but rather the culmination of Modern Earth’s ideas, culture, laws, and so very much more.  And she not only lived through it, but she was functioning.  Her mind was a little frayed at the edges, to be sure, but she was still thinking quite clearly.

All in all, it came down to just what she did and didn’t have access to, how she accessed it, and how all that affected her.  There was no questioning she was going to go through some serious changes whether or not she liked it.  The big question was how that was going to affect Equestria.

“Let’s worry about it later, alright?” I countered her, pulling out a cigarette and walking onto the bridge, “How about you?  How are you holding up, Luna?”

Princess Luna,” I heard that damnable jackpony shout as he landed at the edge of the bridge, “Learn a sense of propriety and respect, human.”

“C-Captain Storm Wuh... Wing,” Luna narrowed her eyes a bit, “If you’re heh... here, then so is...”

Celestia’s (Awesome) Sky Carriage (Of Awesomeness) swept in down beside him whilst carrying the Sun Princess herself.  Not sure how she got her hooves on it since I had left it at the edge of the forest.  Also, to clear the air, this wasn’t that stupid air chariot pulled by the air-schlepping pegasus brigade.  Just imagine a sleek white open-front carriage that you lean back into.  Bleh, descriptions.  Anyway, she stepped from the chariot before rushing to us as we disembarked from the bridge.

“Luna,” she was barely restraining herself from happy tears, “You are alright.”

“Yeah, I didn’t have to lift a hoof, either,” I announced, chuckling, “She chased The Nightmare off all on her own.”

Luna kicked my flank with a back hoof (Firebuse!), “Don’t listen to F-Firewall, he’s trying to be modest and stupid.  If he hadn’t talked some sense into me and truh-tricked The Nightmare, I might have done something fuh... foalish.  Ag-...Again.  ”

Apparently, I’m just never going to get what I want.

“Firewall?” Celestia blinked as I rubbed the offending spot. “That’s your name?  You got around to that, did you?”

“No, Luna did,” I clarified, giving Luna a smirk as I did so, “She didn’t even ask my permission.”

Princess L-” Storm Wing started to say before he was interrupted.

“Shut up,” Luna and I stereo’d at him.

Celestia eyed the two of us before looking at Luna and nodding, “We must talk.  Let’s get to Canterlot.  No-Nam... Firewall, Twilight Sparkle has requested your presence in Ponyville.  I’ll have Storm Wing escort you out of the forest.”

I sighed miserably just as Storm Wing inhaled deeply, as though to prepare himself for a rather arduous task.  I mean, we were still semi-cool with each other, but that didn’t mean we looked forward to spending time in the same world as one another.

“Really, Celestia, that’s not necessary,” I said as I decided that cigarette in my mouth was going to be need to be lit very soon, “I can find my way there on my own.”

“Very well,” she said with a nod, “Then in that case, we will be on our w-.”

“No,” Luna interrupted, “Twilight c-can come to Canterlot wuh-... with her findings.”

All eyes turned to Luna.  I mean, sure there was nothing wrong with Twilight going to Canterlot, it was more the fact that Luna was pretty much vetoing Celestia.  I mean, it was so bluntly stated that she could have simply yelled ‘OBJECTION!’ and still pretty much got the same response.

“Why do you say that?” Celestia asked.

“Luna?” I tilted my head, forgetting entirely about the cigarette in my mouth.

“Just... I’d feel s-safer if you wuh-wuh... w-weren’t far away.  I’m not s-sure what I’m dealing with yet,” Luna pleaded almost timidly, “P-Please, Tia.  Let him come with us.”

Celestia stared at Luna for several seconds, not speaking.  Luna stared back, her eyes somewhat imploring.  It was like there was this huge conversation going on that I wasn’t part of!  And that was somewhat vexing, if I were to be perfectly honest about my feelings on the matter, seeing as how I was the subject matter.

“I will not order him,” Celestia finally said, stepping back onto the Carriage with a soft smile in my direction, “He is free to make his own choice.  If you would like him to come with us, you should ask him.”

Luna looked at me as I lit the cigarette.  I saw it coming, though.  I looked away, avoiding the pouting whine that she was starting to rev up, “Yes, Luna, I’ll go.  Don’t you dare use those big sad eyes of yours.”

“Really?” I looked back at her and instead of using big sad eyes, she used big happy ones.  Just as bad in a different way.  It was like staring into the happy abyss or something to that affect.  Big happy pools of d’aww that struck the extra happy place deep within the cockles of your heart.  Maybe below the cockles.

“I just said I would,” I looked back at her with a smirk, “So whatever, Twilight can come to us, right?  Storm, you wanna deliver that message?  No doubt it sounds better than having to escort my charming plot around.”

Storm Wing chuckled, “I don’t take orders from you, but... I admit, it sounds much better than having to breathe that foul air you give off.”

“See, we are getting along so well,” I said with a faux cry of happiness before cantering over to him, “C’mere, I think we need to bring it in for some bromance.”

Storm Wing gave a flap of his wings and lifted off with a roll of his eyes, “Not going to happen.  Whatever that is.”

Luna giggled a bit as Celestia gave an interrupting cough, “It’s settled then.  Captain Storm Wing, I would indeed appreciate your willingness on this matter.”

“Your word is all I need, Princess,” he replied before zipping off in a bolt of lightning.

I chuckled as I took a drag, “He’s pretty dedicated to you, ain’t he, Celestia?”

“He’s certainly earned his long life.  No other pony before him has been as invaluable nor as steadfast.  Except perhaps his father.  Still, I am lucky to count him among my ponies,” she agreed with a smirk before hopping back onto the carriage, her eyes staring pensively at the pegasus fading in the distance, “I merely wish... …Nevermind, let us depart.”

With that, we boarded the Sky Carriage and took off into the wild blue yonder.  I let my cigarette hang off the side to avoid getting it on the girls.  It didn’t even occur to me this entire time that I was somehow holding that cigarette with a hoof.  Must have been that whole magic-hooves thing Twilight was talking about.

It took a good hour to get back to Canterlot.  I really have no clue how this place works, because it didn’t even take us an hour to get there on foot with Fluttershy.  Oh well.  I’ve just stopped trying by this point, okay?  I hopped off the Sky Carriage and pulled out another cigarette, just to have it taken away from me by Luna’s unicorn magic.

“You n-need to stuh... stop smoking so much,” she explained with an accusing glare.

I stuck my tongue out at her and pulled out another one (pack still full!), only to have it taken as well.

“Luna, I don’t make threats,” I warned as I pulled out yet a third cigarette, not as amused.  Not that I would have actually done anything, but hey, I can bluff, right?

“Luna, leave him be, it’s his choice to do as he likes,” Celestia pointed out as she dismissed the Carriage, “Give those back to him.”

“Nope,” she shook her head, “These are har-ha... harmful and he needs to q-quit.”

HAHAHA-NO! … I’ve still never hit a pony other than Blueblood, but really, I don’t think he counts as a pony.  Maybe more of a horse’s ass?  Yeah, that sounds right.  Also, Storm Wing doesn’t count because I NEVER LANDED A SINGLE HIT ON HIS EVASIVE PLOT! So screw Captain Storm Wing!  The only girls I’ve hit were sisters that were bigger than me so lashing out at Luna would be a big change in my life.  Change that I didn’t want, to be honest.  I mean, it was nothing but a huge bluff, but I still gave her a dangerous glare as I lit the third Mareboro.

“Please duh... don’t?” she implored me, turning on those AWFUL EYES OF SORROW AND HEART WRENCHING PAIN!  What was it about ponies that made them so expressive?!  Haven’t they ever heard of a poker face?

“But... Do you realize just how much of a edgy monster I would become without these?” it was like staring at a Mack truck bearing down on you.  Only the damage would be psychological.  And worse.

“I d-don’t think you would ever hurt me,” she said coyly, sticking her tongue out at me.

That’s when I got the first big red flag.  And I knew what it meant.  For a moment, time froze and I raced through the avenues, possibilities, and outcomes.  The answer was no.  For those of you not picking up on this subtext, don’t worry.  It’ll become much more apparent in the future, I’ve no doubt.

“Nope,” I confirmed with a shake of my head and looked away, taking a drag, “But I’m also not going to take the risk of losing my cool.  You know what a temperamental human can do, right?  We’re avoiding that.  You’ll just have to learn to Love and Tolerate.  Anyway, I’ll be in the garden, I need to get some time to clear my head.  Besides, you two need to talk, right?  Right.  Peace!”

I left them both there without another word.  I could feel their eyes on me, to be sure.  Didn’t know how they were looking at me, whether with suspicion, sadness, or irritation, I just knew they were.  It didn’t take me but a few moments to make it to the garden, where a nearby spider monkey screeched at me for smoking around his home.  I ignored the primate, sighing to myself as I thought about the indigo alicorn and what she was thinking.  Being a smart fellow (though you may have doubts about that by now), I am actually quite observant when it comes to studying the actions of another.  I’m no psychologist (I considered going into the field, actually), but I know a flirt when I saw one.

The general consensus of my gut feelings consisted of ‘Not Cool,’ which I agreed with.

I didn’t get to think on the matter for long, however.  My thoughts were suddenly overcome with an intrusion.  A chaotic, painful, malevolent intrusion.  I stumbled up against the nearest tree before  falling against the very bench I had slept on the night before and using it to brace myself up.  It was like having the worst hangover while still being extremely drunk.  At first, I thought I was simply under attack and fought back at it, knowing it’s source to be external.  Then I remembered the spell I had used to force out The Nightmare and tried it here.  It didn’t work entirely, but I was definitely much better off, the majority of the pain and imbalance having subsided.

~You’re not from here, are you?~

It’s official.  I can now safely say to everyone that I am now nucking futs.  I wasn’t absolutely certain when I arrived in Ponyville, I wasn’t entirely sure when I figured out how to pull stuff out of a random dimensional pocket, but now that I am hearing voices, I think we can take it to the bank that I am completely insane.  It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, oddly enough.  I just hated the part where it had to hurt so very, very much.  I mean, I can already say that I’m a lot tougher having been in Equestria for all of two and a half days.

~I can tell you’re different.  It’s been ages since I’ve felt a presence like yours.~

Might as well play along, right?  I mean, I’ve lost it anyway, right?  I ‘thought’ back at it rather irritably, wondering why my insanity had to involve so much agony and effort.

~Great, I hope it’s a thrill.  Now I’d appreciate you knocking off whatever it is you’re doing.~

~The Equestrians can’t even tell when I try to speak to them.  They can not hear me (Lucky them!) but you can.  Please, forgive my overeager reaction.  I am thrilled to discover you’re here.  Someone to speak to... It’s just been so long.  More than years... maybe more than centuries.~

Well, I wouldn’t want to speak to some disembodied voice that caused me great amounts of pain, either!  Still, I remained cordial.

~I see.  So... What, you wanna play twenty questions or something?~

Maybe not entirely cordial.

~What?~

Look out, everypony!  We’ve got a real breadwinner here!

~What do you want, is what I’m saying.~

~I just... wanted to talk.~

Great.  Managing the residual pain was doable, but that didn’t mean that I was enjoying it.

~Well, we’re definitely doing that, now aren’t we.~

~You’re somewhat hostile.~

‘No!  Ya think?’ I wanted to shout at him/her/it, restraining myself out of politeness only.  Yeah, that’s right.  Even in agony, I’m a sweetheart.  Remember when I said zen master with cigarettes on hand?  That wasn’t a joke.  Unless you laughed.

~Your little chat is literally causing me agony.  Yeah, I’m somewhat put off by that.  Here, let me bludgeon your face as we socialize, that should even things up a bit.  It’ll be great subject matter, too!  Where are you, I’ll be right over!~

Suddenly the remaining pain and dizziness was gone like the flip of a switch.  I’m not sure why he/she/it didn’t do that much sooner, but I was certainly glad he/she/it found the time to get around to doing so.

~I’m sorry.  Is that better?~

~Worlds better, actually.  So who am I speaking to?~

~I can’t remember my original name.~

Now we have just ventured into predictably cryptic and annoyingly confusing.  Next thing you know it’ll be asking me to seek it out with three magical items that come with their very own boss monsters.

~Wha?~

~Find me.  We must speak in privacy.~

Aww, buck me!

~Because my brain’s not private at all.~

~Our words are hidden, but my presence is not.  Find me!~

~Well, unless you’re in the bathroom or something, I doubt I’m going to just stumble across you.  Where do I find you?  I swear, if you give me a cryptic video game answer or tell me to hunt down some stupid artifacts, I’m going to go put on caramelldansen and drown your ass out!~

Now this may strike you as silly, but I had just realized something about me and the bathroom and just in case this is like one of those things, I’m not going to point it directly out.  You know... Don’t pick at it?  Because you might ruin a good thing?  Yeah, like one of those.  I’m not taking the risk.

~What is... Never mind.  I will bring you answers soon!  I must go!~

~Whatever!  Y’all come back now, y’hear?~

Whatever it was, it cut contact.  I wasn’t looking forward to round two, especially if the usual greeting involved a half-gallon-of-vodka-binge-night level migraine.  I wiped away the sweat that had been building up before crawling onto the bench and sighing softly.  Equestria:  Never a dull moment.  I looked up at the sky, noticing that it was pretty late in the evening.  I almost reached for my phone again, only to stop halfway this time and pout.  Rather than have an internal rant about that, though, I simply let my mind wander as I got more comfortable.  Eventually, this led to me passing out like a champ, only to be awoken some time later by a soft poke of the horn.

“Five more minutes, Mom,” I groaned as I rolled off the bench, flopping onto the soft grass with a yawn.  In all actuality, it was very intentional, I just didn’t want to get to my hooves like a non-lazy person/pony would do.  Now this may come as a shock, but my first thought was to get a cigarette.  I know, it’s a stretch but try to wrap your mind around it.

“What?” I heard Twilight Sparkle say as I looked up.  Once again, she was gazing at me like I was a candidate for the loony bin.  Recurring theme is recurring.

“What?” I replied, taking a drag from my cigarette in an attempt to recover some cool.  It wasn’t very effective.

“You said, ‘Five more minutes, Mom,’” she said with a hesitant laugh, “I’m not... Um... Are you okay?”

“No!” I jumped up to my feet/hooves and shook my head angrily, “There is so much wrong going on!”

“Oh?” Twilight said with a laugh, “I hate to bring bad news, but there is more.”

“Twili-hi-hi-hight!” I gave a whiny sob of despair, “I can’t take any more bad news!”

“Oh, this isn’t that bad, I suppose,” she replied, “Just that Fluttershy came back with that really scary looking pegasus you were with, Storm Wing he said his name was.  She was so frightened that I had to take her home and when I did, I returned to find all the Inmanipulon gone!”

“The what?” I knew what she was talking about.  I just didn’t want her to use that silly name she had created for it.

“The anti-magic,” she replied sardonically, “It was gone.”

“Great,” I sighed, “I can’t help but feel that’s going to come bite us in the a... haunches later.”

“I hope not,” she commented with a grimace before perking up as she remembered something, “Storm Wing said you finally got your name!”

“That jackpony ruins surprises as well as my life, I see,” I huffed before taking another puff off my cigarette, “But yes, Luna named me Firewall.  I’m aware that Pinkie might explode in a jealous rage.  Getting the pink off everything will be quite the task.”

Twilight laughed, “Perhaps.  I think she was more concerned for you more than wanting to actually name you.”

“You just speculated on Pinkie Pie’s actions, so now you get to be the crazy one,” I pointed out with a sigh.

“Oh.  Right,” she looked rather deflated, as if disappointed with herself, “So... How did things go with Luna?”

Twilight was a smart pony, right?  I could confide in her, right?  I started to let her know about a certain red flag before remembering ‘SPIKE HAS A CRUSH ON RARITY!’ and ceasing all thought in that direction.

“Pretty good.  Did you hear about what she did?” I queried, still feeling a twinge of guilt on the subject.

“I did, but I’m not sure I understand the implications.  What does it mean?” she asked, biting her bottom lip with worry.

“Well, like a Double Rainbow, Twilight, I just don’t know what it means,” I gave a sigh, “I mean, quite frankly, we’re just going to have to wait and see.  Oh, what did you think about the spell I used on your book?”

“Oh, right, that.  I’ve never seen that spell before!  I’ve never even read anything like it!” Twilight was somewhat impressed, staring at me in awe, “Where did you learn it?”

“Princess Luna showed me how!  We can try it out for you!” I suggested, happy to think and talk about brighter subjects, “C’mon, let’s find a magazine or something!”

“A what?” she asked as I led the way back into the castle.

“Ponies don’t have magazines?  Lame,” I announced, sighing as we trotted over to the library, “Well, at least you know the Replication Spell, otherwise we would have to destroy the book in the process.”

“I suppose so,” she said with a chuckle, “So how does this actually work?”

And then we proceeded to take turns burning books.  Twilight mastered the damn thing on the first try and did so without so much as a wince.  Turns out there wasn’t much Twilight didn’t already know about everything written down, so we went over to fiction instead.  Ponies had loads of awesome stories, in case you had not guessed.  It was all so happy and family friendly and heart warming.  Even the stuff written by Edgar Allan Pony (I’m starting to think Earth and Equestria are harmoniously linked by now.  I mean, c’mon.  Edgar Allan Pony?) was pretty nice, though often bittersweet.  We must have sunk hours into this activity before we were finally caught, laughing loudly at the musings of a rather comically inclined inventor and philosopher.  I think he was the pony version of Benjamin Franklin.  And if you don’t think Franklin was a funny guy, here’s a famous quote of his: “Beer is proof that God loves man and wants him to be happy.”

“I hope that’s just you two doing something stupid and the royal library isn’t actually on fire,” Storm Wing announced as he entered, followed shortly by both the princesses and a couple of royal guards carrying water buckets.

“Twilight Sparkle, what is going on in here?” Celestia was quite aghast, utterly mortified to see all the burned books on the floor and tables.  I’m not sure how many books we went through, but I’m pretty sure we passed fifty, most of which were terribly silly.  So between the two of us, there were at least one hundred piles of ashes all over the place.

“Y-You were using the Extraction Spuh-Spell!” Luna gasped happily as she cantered over to us, “Wow, you t... ...two must have been hard at i-it!  How m-many did you absorb?”

“Several dozen?  Oh!  Luna!” I suddenly found my opportunity to get Luna acquainted with some new friends, “This is...”

”Twilight Sparkle!  Y-Yes, she freed me fruh-from The Nightmare!,” she interrupted me with a nod, “And thanks to your phone, I know muh-more about her than she’s likely c-comfortable wuh-w... wi-... … Aggh!”

She stamped her pony hoof in frustration, still not used to stuttering.  Adorable, to be sure.  I couldn’t help but snicker and mimic her a bit, earning an amused glare from the alicorn in return.

“You were destroying library books with the Extraction Spell?” Celestia had not lost her cool just yet, but said cool might as well be getting ready to file a change-of-address with the local post office because that pony did not look happy.

“N-No!” Twilight stammered, blushing with shame “I created a spell to uh... to recreate the books first!  That way we could absorb the books and not destroy the originals!  But uh... … We did make... quite a mess.  I’m sorry, Princess.”

“We’ll clean it up!” I offered helpfully, smiling innocently.

Celestia was relieved, having discovered that she didn’t lose a hundred-plus books to stupid playful ponies, “Very well... Just... please see what you can do about the mess.  Spotless, if you please.”

Twilight, now encouraged, stood up straight and with a wave of her horn, created a small tornado that sucked up all the ashes and funnelled them out the nearest window (I’m starting to think she has a spell for everything.  Yes, even that!).  Using a little unicorn levitation, we put the books back in just a few moments, turning back to smile brightly at our audience.

“Showoffs,” Captain Jackpony remarked.

“Give me a break, Sparky!  You’re the one with all the flashy lightning!” I accused, pointing a hoof at him in an... accusing way, I suppose.

“Uh huh.  You’re the attention horse,” he countered with a smirk.

“I am not!  I just like it when people look at me.  And you can’t even look at me, so I don’t like you,” it was a low blow, to be sure, but he’s a big pony and he can take it.  I admit, I was a little relieved to see him chuckle.  I don’t really enjoy offending people, but I do love to take the humor right there to the edge of what’s acceptable, because that edge often houses the best content!

“Ah, I suppose this had to be done eventually.  Storm Wing, Firewall, you’re both grounded, go to your rooms,” Celestia commanded with a mirthful roll of her eyes.  This, oddly enough, caused Storm Wing to look unreasonably ashamed.  Definitely something going on there.

“But Moooom~!” I whined, happy to play along, “He started i-...”

“I t-think I’ve slipped into the Twilight Zone,” Luna groaned, resisting the urge to laugh.  Trust me, I can tell when I’m making people laugh.  I really can’t think of an activity that pleases me more.

“The what?” Twilight tilted her head in confusion, causing me to laugh uncontrollably as I realized just how confusing that sounded to the poor purple pony.

“N-Nothing,” Luna answered with a blush, remembering that I was the only one that would get that reference.

“Well, if there are no more fires in my castle tonight, I will bid everypony a good night,” she announced with a smile.

“Rest well, Princess,” Storm Wing bowed very formally, bringing a smile from her as she turned to leave.

I was about to ask Storm Wing what his deal was with Celestia and if he was just that stiff around the brass, but I was interrupted by an extremely loud and unladylike yawn from Twilight “OP” Sparkle.  I reared up to applaud for a few seconds.  It was rather impressive, to be honest.

“Sorry about that,” Twilight chuckled a bit nervously, blushing as she rubbed at her bleary eyes, “I got up really early today to do lots of research.  I’m beat.”

“Go sleep, silleh filleh,” I nodded, “You’ve earned a long rest.”

“Yes.  C-Captain Storm Wing, please esc... escort Miss Twilight to her old quarters here in Canterlot,” Luna politely ordered, smiling at Twilight with what seemed to be admiration.  Luna must have discovered the series by now.  That’s a typical reaction for most MLP: FIM watchers.  Twilight’s just that cool, y’know?

“Yes, Princess,” he responded, though not as... eagerly as he took Celestia’s orders.  Let us consider this a small red flag on the good Captain, shall we?

“Can you tuck me in later, too?” I gave off a small yawn, “I need a motherly figure there, and you just seem so nurturing.”

“I’ve got a better idea:  No!  Tuck your own smokey self in, Firedoll,” Agh, degrading pet names!  A great weakness of mine.

We all shared a laugh and just as I thought they were headed out, Storm walked up to me and held up his hoof.

“Thank you for your help today,” he said in earnest, “Couldn’t have done it without you.”

This is what’s called a friendly rivalry.  Where you sass, insult, and downright slur the other party until you have no more to give, then you remind yourself that the other guy/gal is still really cool and they make your life better for having been there, also knowing that they feel likewise about you.  Not that I would ever tell the bucker that he actually helped brighten my day!

“No problem, brony,” no, that wasn’t a slip.  I did it on purpose.  Then I brohoofed him and smiled widely, “Thanks for your help, too.  It would have been a lot worse if you had not been there.”

“Thank you as w-well, Captain,” Luna gave an appreciative nod.

“It was a pleasure, Princess,” he answered with a bow before turning to Twilight, “Shall we, my lady?”

“Night, everypony,” Twilight waved a hoof before heading on out with her escort.

Luna sighed in frustration as she watched me pull out another cigarette, “You know, I th... think I’ve come up with a p-plan to get you to at least cut back.”

“I’m all ears,” I said as I turned for the hallway, “Outside though, c’mon.”

The cool damp air of the night was refreshing to say the least.  We went right back to my sleeping bench, where I immediately planted my plot with a yawn, doing a double take when I noticed I didn’t have my cigarette anymore.  Luna did.  In her mouth.


“For every cigarette you s-smoke, I’ll smoke one t-tuh... too,” she announced, thinking she had me.  She didn’t.

“Aha.  Negative,” I declined that offer without so much as a thought.  With a bit of focus, her entire cigarette caught flame and was ash in just a matter of seconds.

“Ugh!” she spit out the now useless filter and glared at me, “Why d-did you ever pick up such a fuh... filthy habit?!”

“Peer pressure.  I didn’t become truly addicted until my parents split up but uhh... yeah,” I said with a shrug, pulling out another cigarette and lighting it, “Let’s stop talking about me, mmmkay?”

“N-No,” she tried to emulate the human way of sitting on the bench, as I was doing, “How... is this even... c-cuh... comfortable?  This already hurts!”

“It’s nostalgic,” I shrugged again, rolling my eyes with a chuckle, “And it doesn’t hurt me at all.  It’s kinda funny, actually.”

“It’s annoying is wuh-what it is!” she grumped before hopping off the bench and picking out a nearby one that she laid down upon, “Better.  Now, let’s talk about you s’more.”

“I’d much rather talk about you and what you’re going through,” I deflected quickly.  I’m sorry, I just feel like an ass when I talk about me.  Not a lot of super awesome things to talk about.  Suffice it to say, me talking about my past doesn’t make anyone happy, least of all me.  I’d rather live in the present and look to the future.  Being happy is a choice I make and talking about a rough past just makes it a little harder.

Luna looked away, not entirely open to the idea, “I duh... don’t w-want to think about it.”

“Luna, I may have some problems, but what you’re going through isn’t even close to normal for either of our worlds,” I pointed out, taking a drag with a frown, “You can talk to me, I’m not even slightly judgmental.  Except for Blueblood.  I bucked him in the face for being a jerk.”

“You hit my nephew!?” she didn’t seem very entertained by that notion.  She wasn’t, in fact.  She was so unentertained (I know that’s not a word!) by that notion that she grabbed a few pears off the nearest tree with some magic and started to pelt me with them, emphasizing each throw with a word, “What! Is! Wrong! With! You!?”

“He des-Ow... Deserved it and y-Ow... You knowOw! Stop it! Ow! You know it!” I declared, too lazy to dodge the pears.  I was actually pretty tired.  Also, I hate pears.  Doctor Whooves has the right of it!

“He d-did not!” she snapped, matching my accusing stare with one of her own before huffing loudly in defeat, “Fuh... fine!  He can be insufferable at times!”

“Yeah, that’s good practice for understating, I suppose,” I shook my head, “Dude’s about as lovable as a rampaging Ursa Major covered in garbage and parasprites.”

“I think I can relate, c-considering present company!” she shouted at me before getting up, “Have a good n-night!”

“Luna,” Yeah, sometimes I take things too far, and Luna obviously cared for her family, warts and all, “I’m sorry, okay?”

“You’re sorry that it upset me!  Not that you said awful things about somepony!” she snapped, not even looking back at me as she left.  I didn’t go after her.  She was obviously going through some rough stuff and giving her a focus for frustration might actually help.  Nah, I’m kidding, I was just that lazy and tired.  Sue me, I’d had a long and arduous day.

“Crap,” I said with a yawn before laying down on the bench and shutting my eyes.  It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep, fortunately.  I had nightmares of being turned into cupcakes when Pinkie Pie found out that I broke my name-promise to her.  Traumatizing, to say the least.  I won’t go into details, but I will say that I’ll never look at Pinkie the same again.  The plus-side, however, was that I didn’t get woken up by some tragic event this time.  Just that old sweepy pony whistling, which I admit, I love to whistle so waking up to that didn’t bother me in the least.

I can approximate about six to eight hours of sleep judging by my grogginess and general irritation at everything that wasn’t the sweepy pony.  That was two to four hours longer than I was willing to go without a smoke.  I lit up, finished that sucker, and went inside for some breakfast!  I didn’t expect to be served, nor would I like that so much as cooking my own food, so I went into the pantry, ignored the employed ponies that wondered who the hell was raiding their place of work and magick’d it all into the kitchen where I further ignored anypony just staring at me, wondering who the hell I was.

I will say this, not having freakin’ meat to work with makes breakfast difficult to work with.  Still, I made the best of it and before too long, I had an unreasonably large stack of pancakes as well as a big bowl of white gravy and biscuits.  My grandma did not raise an incompetent, that’s for sure.  I just needed syrup so rather than hunt for it, I scared one of those cook-ponies that did their best to avoid getting in my way.  He was yellow like Fluttershy with a White mane and a flour-sack for a cutie mark. I ‘m not going to lie, I thought the flour-sack Cutie Mark just screamed cool.  It’s a flour sack!

“Hey, brony, what’s up,” I gave him a poke with my hoof.

“Gaahh~!” he jumped a bit and cantered back a step, “Y-Yes?”

“Woah, easy there, killer.  Just wanted to know where to find a bottle of syrup or maybe some honey and molasses if we don’t have any,” I asked, smiling encouragingly at him.

“Oh, um... Of course,” he said with a nod, opening a cabinet and handing(hoofing?) me a bottle, “Um... You know, most soldiers just... let us cook for them.  It’s sorta... our job, you see.”

“What?  Nah, I’m not a soldier.  Lun... Princess Luna has asked me to stick around for a few days,” I explained as I grabbed the bottle with my magic and spread an excessive amount over the pancakes, “You don’t have to serve me, mate, I’m more of a do-it-yourself kinda pony.  Not that I want to take your job, I just like being able to fend for myself.”

“That’s... quite an independent outlook,” he said with nervous chuckle, “Not to offend, but I’m glad all ponies aren’t like you.”

“No kidding!  A lot of ponies wouldn’t have jobs if everypony was like me!”  I said with a laugh as Silverheart entered with a cough.

“Firewall, Captain Storm Wing has requested your presence,” she said, all stiff and official.

“That’s great, can you ask him to meet me in the dining hall as I have breakfast?” I counter requested, knowing it would irritate both her and him.

“He said it was important and that I was to make it very clear that now was not the time for humor,” she clarified, not even blinking at my rebuttal.

Screw Captain Storm Wing.

I gave a sigh, before looking back at the chef pony, “Hey, what’s your name, Cookie?”

“Cookie,” he replied, wondering how I knew his name.

“No way!  I’m awesome!”  I brohoofed his shoulder and smiled, “Thanks for the syrup.  Can I take these dishes and bring them back first chance I get?”

“I suppose,” he gave a noncommittal nod of his head.

“Sweet.  Thanks, Cookie!” I said with a laugh before magicking all the food to follow me, “Alright, Silversweetheart, lead the way.”

That was the wrong thing to say.  So very wrong.  I saw rage in those eyes.  RAGE!  Preposterous amounts of fury!  Somepony doesn’t like to be called sweetheart!  No kidding, I’m fairly certain I was this close to dying.  I nearly dropped all my food as I stammered to correct myself, “I mean... My lady, please, guide me to our destination.  With all due respect.  Sorry?”

She seemed satisfied with having brow beat me into submission (Shut up, it was scary!) and turned to lead me out into the Southern Hall, back towards the Ball Room.  We entered the big empty room, famous to me for hosting a ruined Gala and spotted Storm Wing standing in the center, waiting patiently.  He didn’t have his armor on for once and let me tell you, somepony has a bad case of wild static-charged mane.  He looked like a freakin’ blue super saiyan or something, I just wanted to laugh at him.  I didn’t though, especially once I noticed the worried look on his face.  I started to ask what was wrong, but everything was interrupted by a scream from Luna’s room.

I didn’t even think, I just bolted around and up the stairs, still trailing a train of food behind me (I guess losing your concentration doesn’t end the spell?).  Storm beat me there, naturally, and stopped just before her door, calling out to her.

“Princess Luna, is everything alright?” he called out imploringly.

“Of course it isn’t!” I said, shoving him out of the way and bucking the door open, “Luna?!”

There she was, laying in her dark blue bed, crying into her pillow.  There was nothing wrong, otherwise, she was just crying.  Even while confused, it was painful to see a pony cry, this one especially.  Storm Wing slipped up beside me and shook his head, whispering softly.

“She went to bed about four hours ago, about one hour before I usually awake.  Every time she goes to sleep, however, a nightmare awakens her,” he murmured, low enough to keep her from hearing, “I don’t know what’s causing it.”

I suddenly felt extremely numb all over, having a damn good guess as to what was causing the nightmares.  As I understand it, dreams and nightmares are the mind’s way of occupying your sensory perceptions while you’re asleep and also act as a sort of taking-out-the-mental-garbage.  It’s why people that sleep to music usually have a slightly less restful sleep because they’re occupying a piece of their mind by listening to it.  This was all second-hand information from a supposed sleep-expert that worked at a Serta mattress store, but he sure as hell was confident and charismatic.  THE POINT was that Luna didn’t have a trash bin full of mental garbage, but an entire junkyard of it.

“Hey, Luna,” I said, walking over to the bed and bringing the food, “I brought you pancakes?  Om nom nom?”

Luna sobbed a few more times before looking at me, sniffling with a smile, “You’re nothing like a human.  You couldn’t possibly be one.  You can be a jerk at times, but you’re not like the rest of them.”

“Yes, I am,” I said, sighing softly as I set all the food down and snagged a biscuit, dipping it in the gravy, “I’m just as human as the rest of them.”

“No, you’re not,” she buried her face back into the pillow and sobbed out a few more sentences.  She sounded like the pyro from TF2.  I unsuccessfully tried to stop myself from letting out a chuckle.

“Well, I can’t discern what you said entirely,” I said before taking a bite of the biscuit, “But I’ll take a guess... Hmm, you’re either insulting my mother, or you’re coming onto me.  It could go either way, really.”

I heard her snort out a laugh, as well as Storm Wing’s exasperated groan.  She eventually looked up from the pillow again and wiped at her eyes tiredly, “Humans are so awful though.”

“No, we’re not awful,” I rolled my eyes and handed(hoofed?  Seriously, I wonder what the appropriate term is!) her a gravy dipped biscuit, “Some humans are awful.  A lot of humans are just fine.  And there are even more that are bigger sweethearts than some of the ponies I’ve met.”

She nibbled at the biscuit with a sniff, “I... I know... It’s just... I can’t sleep without seeing so many awful things.”

“I know,” I said with a nod swallowing my biscuit and sighing, “Figured that out pretty quickly, actually.  And yeah, humans record the events of their history in an effort to learn and better themselves from it.  You know how to clamp it all down, right?”

“Mmmhmm, it kinda just came to me but I figured that out pretty quick,” she nodded with a sniffling yawn, “I just can’t do it while I’m asleep.  And why are humans obsessed with nudity?!”

“Awkward subject, Luna!” I said with a laugh, blushing terribly bright, I’m sure, “We’ll talk about it when you’re older.”

She whacked me with a magically propelled pillow, “I multiply your age by over four hundred.”

“Yeah, well... Hey, you’re not stuttering!” I gasped, quick to latch onto a distraction, though the realization had come as a shock as well.

She braced herself up a bit, quite off guard, “You’re right!”

“Awesome!” I exclaimed, hoof-clapping (mostly because the idea of hoof clapping amuses the hell out of me) a bit before grabbing another biscuit, “I guess what little sleep you’re getting helped?”

“Stop trying to change the subject!” she suddenly caught onto my subtle conversation manipulation, “You’ve got a lot to explain about humans.”

“What do you want to know?  I mean, you obviously have more knowledge at your disposal than I do,” I shrugged, at a loss for what to say to satisfy her.

“What are they?” she asked, yawning loudly, “In your words.  As if you were explaining to another human.”

Brace yourself for the PHILOSOPHICAL MUSINGS OF FIREWALL!

“Alright then,” I took a moment to collect my thoughts, tilting my head a bit before taking a deep breath, “Humans are... quite odd, now that I think about it.  They’re imaginative, desire-driven, persevering, stubborn, passionate creatures.  Nothing more. Not that different from ponies, really, except that humans don’t get cutie marks to tell us what we want deep down.  Sometimes, we never find out what we want.  When we do, though, we chase it without so much as a second thought and we’re not afraid to fight for what we want, even if it means fighting one another.  Sometimes, humans just think about themselves and their personal desires.  Sometimes, people want to help the race as a whole thrive and flourish.  Sometimes, people, like me, want them and everyone around them to have fun.  Most people, however, just want to live their lives and keep their heads down in a simple, happy existence.  But no matter what a person’s cause, there are good and bad ways to go about it.  Sure, there are plenty of humans that aren’t afraid of stepping on anyone and anything, but there are plenty that refuse to show such carelessness.  Remember what I said?  ‘Take the good with the bad?  Don’t dwell on the worst?’”

Luna nodded at me, laying back down tiredly.  I could hear Storm Wing’s quiet breathing, having stepped closer.  I think he was more interested in hearing this than Luna was, actually.

“That’s what it’s all about.  You’re not naive anymore,”  I said popping what was left of the biscuit in my mouth, “So you’re going to have to learn that no matter what you see, no matter what you hear, no matter how awful it seems, the choice to be sad and afraid is just that.  A choice.  I know, it’s easier said than done, and you can’t actively fight it while asleep, but maybe... maybe you can adjust with time.  Much to your misfortune, though, you’ve just got me to help you along the way!”

Luna snorted before holding out her hoof to me.  After a moment of hesitation, I took it.  I felt her squeeze my hoof gently (HOW?!) and after a few silent moments, she fell back asleep.  I felt a tightening in my chest as I realized, I really just didn’t want anything bad to happen to Luna ever again.  Not just Luna but any pony.  I wanted to guard them.  I wanted to be that protector.  That firewall, just as Luna had said.  It was like discovering my own Cutie Mark and it was indeed a shield.  The sheer ridiculousness of the idea made me doubt everything that I was doing and saying.  It was just such a magical and ludicrous thought process that I was following that I didn’t know if I should let myself go down that path.  Was this fanciful thinking just too far out there, I kept asking myself.  Was I not keeping myself grounded?

Then Luna’s nightmares started to return.  She stirred with a whimper and I felt anger surge from deep inside, hating the helplessness.  I wanted to fight away those inner demons so badly and yet I couldn’t.  It didn’t take me long to refuse that notion, though.  I denied that I could do nothing.  This was wrong and I would prove it wrong by making it right.  I stared hard at Luna, knowing that she would not have to face this alone.  With a small flash, I got my wish in the form of a small fiery shield placing itself just under her horn, glowing softly and warmly.  With but a second, her whimpers subsided and I was instantly on cloud nine.  Best.  Spell.  Ever.  I kinda got a little choked up, I was so thrilled.  That was when Storm Wing put his hoof on my shoulder and I nodded, getting up to leave the princess to her rest.

As we exited, Storm Wing shut the door and sighed in relief, “Thank you, hum... Firewall.  I don’t know what you did, but I’m glad you did it.”

“Did what?” a regal voice popped up from behind us, “Is Luna any better?”

Celestia is not small.  Nor is she particularly colored to camouflage against anything, considering she glows like the sun half the time!  Hence, you can understand my shock when she got so close without making any noise.  What was even more shocking was that Celestia’s normally calm and gentle visage was one of slight stress and worry.

“D-Damn it!” I placed a hoof over my chest, “Are all princess ponies so stealthy!?”

“Yes, my princess.  Firewall helped Luna get to sleep with a spell I’ve never seen before,” Storm Wing answered her, ignoring my dramatic reaction, “She’s now not having any nightmares, or isn’t acknowledging them at least.”

Celestia smiled as though Christmas had come early.  She was about to reply when she was cut off by a loud, brash, and arrogant laugh.  A very distinctive loud, brash, and arrogant laugh. Indeed, it was my favorite loud, brash, and arrogant laugh.

“Tremble, Canterlot!  Tremble from head to hoof!  For this land is now under the rule of a New Order!  I, The Great And Powerful Trixie, claim this city in the name of Azure Flora!” her beautifully obnoxious voice boomed throughout the city.

“I’ve never been so happy to hear an invasion announcement,” I stated with all seriousness, my eyes wide with excitement, “I, for one, welcome our new pony overlord.”

“What?” Storm Wing was so very confused by my words.

The roof was suddenly torn off of the Ball Room and that awesome blue pony dropped in, laughing haughtily, “Cower before The Great And Powerful Tr-r-rixie!”

This was quickly followed by me running down the stairs and hitting her with a glomp.  For those of you that are not fanboy/girl-inclined, a glomp is an enthusiastic flying tackle-hug.  And that’s just what I did.  I glomped Trixie.  Don’t judge me.  You’re just jealous that you didn’t get the opportunity.

NEXT TIME ON Through The Eyes Of Another Pony!

“The Great And Powerful Trixie demands you release her this instant!”  

“I'm your biggest fan!  Can I have your autograph?!”  

“The... What?  Uh... The Great And Powerful Trixie is flattered!  Now release me at once!”  

“You won't run away if I do, will you?!”

“The Great And Powerful Trixie fears nothing!  I would never run!  Now release me, my enthusiastic little admirer!”

“Good enough for me!  Now, about your signature...”

Chapter Five!                                                                        Chapter Seven!


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Seven:  The Part Where He Chapters You

Azure Flora is so cute!

HHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! *heartstop*

Author’s Note has leveled up and is now Author’s PAGE!  TREMBLE AND DESPAIR!  So anyway, I’ve been hearing more and more lately that this fic should be 6-Star.  I’ve not said it needs to be myself, but I will admit, it is what I’m striving for.  It amuses me greatly that a 6-star “self-insert”/HIE fic is even feasible, but I’m only .2 stars away.  Some people say that’s statistically improbable.  I disagree.  I’ve been at 4.7 stars since 250 ratings, which means mathematically, I can hit 4.9 at 1200 ratings.  IT CAN HAPPEN!  I just have to get above 4.85!

Also, Mattatatta reviewed this fic and pretty much hit everything I was going for right on the head.  It felt good reading it. Every time I get an email thanking me for my work or get a crayon drawing of Firewall (or digital one, even!) or even just a comment like this, I’m reminded of why I decided to write Chapter 2.  Anyway, here it is.

As I read these chapters (and laugh harder than I usually do when reading anything to be honest), I can't help but ask myself "How can a Human-In-Equestria story, with a protagonist who is technically a self-insert of the author, work so well, be so funny, and gather such a large following of fans?"

I think it lies down to the narrative and style. The whole time we're being told the story through the author's perspective - he's "lived" it, after all. While he tells us the story, he often butts-in on himself to break from the story and add hilarious and perfectly timed comments.

It is also obvious that he knows what makes people angry with OCs, Human-In-Equestria stories, and characters who are essentially the author's ponysona. And so he actively avoids the biggest 'no-nos' (which is common sense), navigates the grey areas with his sense of humour, charm, and focuses as much attention on the other characters as possible. The latter is probably the most evident in that he took several chapters just to name his ponysona, and every time it came up in the story, he dodged the subject with realistic, in-universe actions. He's been so focused on crafting an excellent story that piles on the humour, funny interaction with other characters, and a main plotline that has potential to be awesome (in it's own right), that the protagonist has been denied a basic part of his character, and ultimately named by those who commented possible names after reading the fic. Hell, probably another good reason why Firewall is so well-received is because the author has been up front about him from the start. We know from the very beginning that he is the author in pony form, so we're obliged to not give a flying blueberry muffin about the technical self-insert part. I've noticed that 99.9% of the worst fics featuring a self-insert character have had the author trying to hide the fact that the self-insert is really the author. Sometimes, it pays to be honest with your potential readers, it seems.

So, what can we learn here? A story that combines three elements in fan fics that usually spell disaster individually, and therefore total annihilation together, can actually become a massive hit among readers IF the author focuses on the fundamentals of a good story, and avoids the things that often wreck a fan fic. In other words, it's not terribly difficult, when compared to writing any other type of story, to write a story that has things that normally throw up huge red flags in people's minds - and make it good.

Anyway, random musings aside. I really like this story. I actually failed to keep track of it after Chapter 3, so when it updated this evening I had some catching up to do. The main storyline (Luna, The Nightmare, fate of the multiverse, Firewall trying to RMA a pile of ash to get a new phone) is more than enough to keep anyone intrigued in the story. However, most of us aren't here for the "plot" (Dohohoho! The irony among some of us!), and are instead here for how you've nailed the characters we're familiar with, and created personalities for brand new characters (and characters who are pretty much up to fanon when it comes to characterisation, such as Luna). And we're here for the brilliant style and excellent sense of humour. The amount of meta in this fic is insane, yet it doesn't make up half of the jokes in the story. Keep writing this 'til it's finished, it's gold!

Now, a lot of people have been asking me if I’ve read certain fics.  The answer is no.  Not because I do not want to, but because I am an emotional writer.  It comes straight out of my heart.  It’s an extremely fickle writing style, because if I lose interest at any point, it’s almost impossible to get it back.  Also, the worst part about that is if something emotionally affects you, it bleeds out into your writing.  Imposition definitely bled out into chapter one, due to having read it just a few weeks before writing out my first chapter.  That is what happens when you write from the heart.  Anything that emotionally impacts you comes out in your writing.  I mean, I haven't even read Past Sins or Fallout: Equestria yet!  I don't even let close friends and family read my work (with certain exceptions), simply because I know that it would influence me and I don't want to have to fight that.  So don’t take it personal, everypony!  That’s just the madness of CardsLafter at work!

“The Great And Powerful Trixie demands to be released at once!” she shouted angrily, squirming away from me.

“I’m your biggest fan!” I cried, practically purring in happiness.  I could feel Stoic kicking and screaming for control, but Lafter was just not having it.  He was in the zone, “Can I have your autograph!?”

“The G-... What?” that caught her off guard by a huge margin, I could tell, “The Great And Powerful Trixie is flattered!  Now let go of The Great And Powerful Trixie!”

“You won’t run away if I do, right?” Maybe this matters to everyone/pony, maybe not, but Trixie’s cowl is made of silk.  That’s right.  I know these things.  U JELLY!? (You so are.)

“The Great And Powerful Trixie fears nothing!” she proclaimed haughtily, “She would never run from anything, much less an overenthusiastic admirer!”

I immediately let go of her and sat back on my haunches, pulling out Twilight’s letter to Celestia and turning it over to show Trixie the blank backside, “Make it out to Firewall!  Also, there’s a guy that runs a website where I come from, he’s a huge fan, too!!  His name is Se-...”

“The Great And Powerful Trixie does not have time for this!” she interrupted me loudly, waving me off, “She is on an important mission!  One of conquest!”

“But...” My happy was almost instantly lost, “But...”

Trixie tried to stare at me with apathy, but I could tell she was losing her nerve.  I can do a seriously convincing puppy-dog stare when I have to.  She grimaced for a moment before sighing with an eye roll, “Well... If you’re going to pout...”

I held up the paper, my face still downtrodden and miserable-seeming.

“‘To Fireball, with love. The Great And Powerful Trixie,’” she rambled on impatiently as a magic quill appeared and began scribbling.  She then cast a second spell that put her photograph onto the paper and even gave it a kiss!  OHEMGEE PONIES! “There!  Now shoo, my eager fanatic-pony!”

“But my name is Fi-...” I started to protest.


“I said shoo!” She swatted at me with a hoof.

I scampered back to Celestia and Storm Wing with the letter in my mouth, looking utterly thrilled with myself.  Celestia was of the mind that I had lost my sanity, judging by the way she was staring at me.  Storm Wing looked as though he was contemplating the contents of the last stack of hay he had eaten.  Either way, they didn’t seem entirely pleased that I had just showered love and attention onto Canterlot’s latest (and greatest!) attacker.

“What is wrong with you?”  Storm Wing was quite direct about it.

“You’re just jealous!”  I stuck my tongue out at him and put the letter back, “I’ve got both Twilight and Trixie’s signature!  BAM!”

“Enough of that nonsense, Firewall, this is no time to act so childish,” Celestia ordered quite curtly.  My ears drooped a bit as I realized just how bad that looked.  Lafter ran a little too freely there, I’m definitely willing to admit.  Stoic gave him a slap and quickly took the reigns, causing me to serious up rather quickly.

“Sorry about that, guys,” I murmured with a nod, “Lost my head for a moment.”

“The Great And Powerful Trixie demands your surrender, Celestia!” she ordered, stamping her hoof, “Save Canterlot and Equestria the trouble and damage your refusal would cause!  We will not be deterred!”

“I would know who you are and who you represent.  If you’ve come to parley a surrender, then I would like to know what you plan to do with my beloved Equestria once in control,” Celestia sounded as serious as a heart attack.  I couldn’t believe my pointy ears!

“Princess?” Storm Wing looked dumbfounded, though he really wasn’t looking, per-say.  No, I’m not going to stop making those jokes.

“What are you talking about, Cele-...” I started to ask, tilting my head in total shock.


“Silence, both of you,” she snapped at us before looking back at Trixie, “Well?”

Trixie obviously did not expect Celestia to choose mediation over resistance.  Her eyes betrayed confusion for several seconds before she finally shook herself out of it.

“If you wish to discuss terms, then you must come with The Great And Powerful Trixie!” she stated with a flare of her cowl, “Alone!”

“I’m sorry, I must keep in mind that terms may be non-negotiable depending on certain demands made, Great and Powerful Trixie.  If I am to discuss them, then I must bring adequate protection, as must you and the party you represent,” Celestia explained quite plainly yet politely, “I will, however, ask where you would have us meet for such negotiations.  Since you are the confronting party, it is only fitting you choose this place, don’t you think?”

“I... The Great... … … I... We’re not actually supposed to negotiate!  Why aren’t you resisting?!” she stamped angrily, not expecting this sort of reception at all.  After getting the angry out of her system, she sighed, “Very well!  I will send a messenger after I have chosen a location!  Be grateful that you were spared the wrath of The Great!  And Powerful!  TRIXIE!”

She reared up and slammed her hooves down, causing a puff of smoke to shoot up and obscure her.  For a moment, I thought she was going to run out of the room, but surprisingly enough, she did actually vanish in the cloud.  She’s obviously been practicing.  That’s my Trixie!  ~<3

“We haven’t much time,” Celestia said after a few seconds of silence, “Captain Storm Wing, gather your Sky Archons and get them suited.  Have them scour the city for the next hour for anything suspicious.

“Is that all, my princess?” he asked instantly, his entire body tensing with anticipation.

“No.  Get Firewall here some armor,” she replied, giving a nod at the roof as she cast a spell to repair the entire thing in mere seconds.

I think our reactions were polar opposite.  Mine involved a surge in heartrate, big happy eyes, and a grin that threatened to go all the way around my head.  Storm Wing’s was one of absolute shock and horror.

“Princess, are you certain that’s a good id-...,” he started to call out to her as she began to leave.


“Second guessing me, Captain?” she looked back at him over her shoulder.

“N-Not at all, my princess!” he quickly stammered out his reply, blushing brightly and bowing low, “Forgive me!”

“One day, Captain, you’ll learn that I value your input,” she gave a sweet chuckle before cantering on.

He didn’t seem to get the hint.  So, I helped him with a clop to the back of his head, because I’m an awesome friend like that.  (FINALLY HIT THAT SORRY BASTARD!)

“What th-?!” he turned to face me, snorting angrily, “You’ve got mere seconds to explain yourself before I whip the cutie-mark off your flank!”

Daaaamn!  I love a good line like that!  I knew right away, I would steal and abuse the hell out of it.

“She’s trying to tell you something, moron,” I replied, shaking my head in pity.

“I said explain yourself, not give me some cryptic fertilizer!” his mane flared from the energy coursing through him.  Somepony did not like being hit.  I found this amusing.  Indeed, I would have twisted my evil moustache if I had one.  Where was Steven Magnet when you needed him?

“I’d write it out for you in a three-paragraph essay with footnotes, but you can’t read.  Instead, I’m going to spell it out for you, because you’re obviously blind in more ways than one!”  I sighed in exasperation, “She’s trying to let you know that it’s okay to second guess her if you feel it’s for the best, jackpony.  Pick up on the subtext!  She’s obviously not the warrior that you are, so she relies on your input as one of her greatest military minds.  I mean, how long have you been doing this, anyway?”

“A little less than a millenium,” he responded, his expression a tad confused.

“Holy crap, you’re old!” I exclaimed, suddenly putting on a charade of care and laying a hoof on his shoulder, “Do I need to get you a walker or something?  I hear Granny Smith has spares!”

“Shut up!  It’s time to suit up, rookie!” he snapped, backhoofing me in the face before grabbing my mane in his mouth and yanking me along.  I suppose I should be grateful he didn’t taser hoof me.  Which is still the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!  The silliest thing about this, though, is if you visualize the size difference.  Like I said before, I’m about Big Mac’s size and Storm Wing is probably just a hair taller than Rainbow Dash, so it was like watching a little Asian martial arts master yank along a seven foot-tall viking by his hair.

“MY PRECIOUS, DELICATE LOCKS OF SILK!” I dramatically cried out, chuckling as he yanked me along.  Yeah, manes are pretty tough, so it didn’t really hurt.  Which certainly made resisting easier and more enjoyable.

“Fuddup!” I heard him snarl through the mouthful of mane.  He dragged me halfway there before becoming irritated with my struggles and spitting my mane out, allowing me to just walk with.  I chuckled and stopped giving him hell for the moment, cantering along in silence.

The Military Wing on the East side of the castle was actually very plain, which was no big surprise.  It was just a stadium-esque building with several dozen openings surrounding it.  (Pegasus Pony Launch Bays!  BRILLIANT!)  I wondered just how many military branches and leaders there were and began to ask that very question before I was interrupted by the zappy little pony.

“Do you really think Celestia v-...” he started to ask.

“Yes,” I cut him off, rolling my eyes, “And I can’t believe you’re too stupid to notice.”

“I... I just never considered the possibility,” he admitted, his ears drooping a bit.  Ugh, it pains me to say this, but it was actually kind of adorable.  In fact, Storm Wing just looked downright cute with his armor off, even if he had a perpetual bad-hair-day going on.  Also, fair warning for anypony that takes that out of context:  Beatings everlasting.  Mmmkay?  Mmmkay.

“Well, glad to have been a help, tiny,” I chuckled before entering the building and walking into the open atrium in the center, “So uh... Where is everypony?”

“SKY ARCHONS!” the voice that came out of that pony beside me was incredibly loud.  Storm Wing apparently had quite a set of lungs, “AT ATTENTION!”

It was like watching a light show as about two dozen ponies of assorted colors and sizes bolted into a straight line in front of the two of us.  They were paired, oddly enough, with one pony standing more to the front and their pair standing somewhat back and to the left.  Well, my right, their left.  Whatever, like it matters.  What was odd to me, was that Silverheart was among them and she didn’t seem to have a partner.  You remember her, right?  Scary-as-hell glare?  Gets knocked over like a Storm Trooper?

“New orders from the princess,” he announced, “Starlight, you and Hot Shot are to take teams three through seven and scour the city.  We’ve had an invasion threat and while we are not under Martial Law, we are to remain vigilant.  You are to suit up and depart five minutes ago.  Consider yourself already dismissed and testing my patience.”

“Aye, Captain!” one of the female pegasi, navy blue with a black mane and gold eyes, yelled out her affirmation, “Teams Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven!  Armor on!  Wings Open!  Rendezvous at the North Gate for further orders!”

It was cool.  It was very cool.  I resisted the attempt to squee from sheer awesome ponyness.

“The rest of you, get your gear and grab a meal on the flight.  You’re to remain on standby here at the palace and are to away orders from us via magic mail.  If so much as a pebble is missing from this place when I get back, you get to guard the moon for the next thousand years.  Horizon, you’re in charge.  Silverheart, you are to wait here for further orders,” he said with a nod, turning his head their way after a moment of silence, “That means now, fillies.”

Zoom, they all took flight. The entire scene was like watching a rainbow jump off the ground, each color splitting off and going it’s own way.  Fully.  Awesome.  I looked at Storm Wing  with an appreciative nod.

“Extremely impressive,” I said, smirking with excitement, “No wonder Equestria is so safe.”

“I’d never tell them this to their faces, but they’re the best fliers a pony could ask for,” he murmured, a bit of a smile creeping at the edges of his muzzle.  He then turned to the last remaining pony and nodded, “Lieutenant Silverheart, Firedoll here needs some armor, as per the Princess’ request.  See to that.  Also, he won’t have the slightest clue about putting it on, so you’ll act as his Artillery.  Report to me as soon as you’re finished.”

“Aye sir,” she answered, flapping over and landing beside me, “This way, sir.”

It took me a moment to register that she was talking to me.  I gave my head a shake as if to wake myself up before nodding at her, “Please, don’t call me sir.  I’m not a soldier.”

“You are today,” Storm Wing said with a chuckle, sparking my haunch with a flick of his tail just before taking off.

“Agh!  You sunova...” I turned and spat fire at him as he laughed, flying faster than my flames could travel.  He won that round.  But I would get him, one day.  And there would be a great wailing and gnashing of pony teeth on that day!

“Wow, I’ve never seen him so... happy,” Silverheart blinked, watching Storm Wing soar away towards his quarters.

“Yeah, well, if it were up to me, I’d thrash the happy right out of him,” I grumped before looking at Silverheart with a sigh, “So, you’re a Sky Archon, eh?  Not to gloat, but that kinda makes me feel good.  Seeing as how I kinda... ran you over that one day.  Sorry about that, by the way.”

“Don’t let it go to your head, I’m not a Sword Archon.  I’m an Artillery Archon,” she nodded before walking along, “Please, let’s go.  He doesn’t like to wait.”

“Yeah, but I’ve suddenly become afflicted with a split hoof, so we’re going to have to take our time,” I lied so obviously that even she couldn’t resist snickering, “Such a shame, don’t you think?”

“Oh, yes,” she confirmed, shaking her head mirthfully, “A tragedy.”

“So what’s the difference between Artillery Archons and Sword Archons?” I asked, cracking my neck with a grunt before pulling out a cigarette and lighting up.  I was suddenly struck with a horrible realization, “Damn it!  I left my pancakes in Luna’s room!  I blame you!  I could have had an unhealthy amount of batter in my system right now!”

“The horrors of the day pile up, it seems,” she said with a nod, “I’ll have to console myself with a glass of milk right before bedtime just to get to sleep.”

Sarcasm strikes again, much to my bittersweet pleasure.  Why was it that none of these awesome ponies were in the show?  Luna alone would have tripled the viewership, but nooo.  She has to wait for season two.  Hasbrony, I R Disappoint.

“Anyway, the difference between the two is that Artillery Archons focus more on their weather magic and roles of utility while the Sword Archons’ attention is directed more towards direct combat and physical perfection,” she explained, “As Storm Wing is the Captain of the Sky Archons, it’s his duty to be adept in both fields.”

“You, madam, have just blown my mind,” I nodded with a smirk, starting to put it together, “So, I’m to assume that the ‘teams’ are one of each?”

“Indeed.  Artillery Archons can provide a lot of support to a Sword Archons, making them much more effective than a hoof full of just one type,” she further elaborated as she led me to the armory.  She didn’t have to lead me, technically, thanks to the magic mental map, but I have trouble walking, talking, and referencing that ‘memory’ at the same time (So what if I’m not a multitasker!), “One team can fight off a Hydra and a couple of teams is more than a match for a dragon, even.”

“And here I thought ponies weren’t that dangerous,” I commented before looking over all the armor.  It was like being in a candy shop, only less tasty and more awesome.  They had chain, plate, gilded, banded, full, field and even some scale mail, though I’m positively certain that the scales were artificial.

“Wow,” I commented, with a whistle (You know how hard it is to do that with a cigarette in your mouth?  Amazingly difficult.  I’m just so talented, I can’t stand myself sometimes!), “There’s more metal in this room than A7X concert at Ozfest.  Daddy likes.”

“Yeah.  Most of it is actually too small for your large frame.  Eat less, human,” she remarked with a poke to my side as her silver eyes roamed over the numerous armor sets.  No, I’m not a pudgy pony.  That would be funny, though!

“No!  You ponies get bigger!” I demanded, still gazing at the armors.

“Here,” she pointed out a plate set off one of the largest racks in the back, “It’s the only one close enough to your size.  Hopefully Storm Wing won’t bludgeon you the moment he finds out you’re wearing it.”

It was pretty damned cool.  It was silver with gold trim and flared at most of the edges.  It took a moment for that last comment to register.  Fairly certain I had a glazed-over expression for a few seconds there.

“Wait what?” Stoic was quick to beat Lafter back down, “Why would Storm Wing get mad?”

“Because the last pony to wear this was his father, the first Sky Archon,” Silverheart replied as she grabbed the first piece with her mouth and walked my way, gesturing me to lift a hoof to fit on the first of the sabatons, “His name was Winter Sky.  Big legend.  To the Sky Archons, at least.”

The entire process took several minutes, the longest step being the tying of my mane.  Apparently you have to tie it as tightly as possible to fit it through the helmet before untying it and stylizing it in in the typical Equestrian soldier, which was practically ripping off the Trojan Mohawk.  The entire time, I was very apprehensive of the fact that I would eventually have to face Storm Wing in his father’s armor.  Let us say, I expected there to be some flying sparks.  Badum-Pssh~!

“You’re pretty still.  Usually Archons get fidgety after the first five minutes,” she said with a nod, fastening the last buckle on my back.

“Yeah, anything that touches my hair chills me out,” I said with a smirk before looking at her and flicking my cigarette, “How do I look?”

“Like a wingless Sky Archon,” she said with a chuckle, “And a cute one at that.  Luna would blush.”

I got a chill all over, grimacing a bit.

“Wrong thing to say?” she asked, a bit surprised.

“It’s nothing against Luna, really, it’s just.  I don’t know anything about anything,” I said with a sigh, “She’s awesome, but... what if I can’t stay?  What if I simply have to choose one or the other?  I mean, I love it here, but am I supposed to just... never go home to see my family and friends?  I’ve people that rely on me, back home.  What if I c-...”

“Okay, I get it, I get it.  You’re just being cautious,” she rolled her eyes, waving a hoof to cut me off,  “Celestia’s tears, if I wanted a study in psychology, I’d have gone to the Librarium rather than the Military.”

“Sorry,” I nervously kicked at the floor, “I’m just... I know I act stupid, but I’m constantly thinking about everything.”

“Trust me, it shows.  Celestia and Storm Wing wouldn’t let you near them if they thought you were an idiot,” she reasoned pointedly, turning for the door, “So obviously they don’t.  Despite how dumb you can get at times.”

“You’re about as warm and fuzzy as a room temperature caltrop,” I said with a laugh, smirking at her as she left.

“And here I was trying to be so nice,” she chuckled as she cantered out, calling back, “Mirror is in the room to your left.”

You know what was rather peculiar?  I had not seen myself in a mirror at all.  It had been nearly... what... four?  Five days as a pony?  And I still had not taken a look at my face.  What that said about me, I had no clue, really.  I slipped into what looked like a break room for whatever pony slaved away hammering out these amazing pony barding suits.  Sure enough, there was a small mirror, no bigger than a medicine cabinet mirror you would see in a bathroom.

My eyes were green, as they had always been, unsurprisingly.  I really just looked like a more excited ash-grey Big Macintosh with a horn two shades darker coming out of my head.  It wasn’t me I was paying attention to, though.  It was the armor.  It was just a hair loose, not overmuch though.  There had been holes for wings, but she had covered them up with matching plates.  All in all, it felt strangely light which made sense after I had considered it for a moment.  Pegasi need to be able to fly fast and if adding protection slowed you down too much, then what was the point?  Regardless, it was more than obvious that some pony had poured their heart into every last detail, as it was meticulous.

Descriptions.  I don’t like giving them unless they have meaning.  This armor had meaning.  Not because I was wearing it, but it belonged to a pony before me that was obviously a Hero.  Celestia had thought highly enough of this colt to create a branch of military just for him and those that followed in his hoofsteps (I sometimes get confused, seeing as how hoof replaces any ‘hand’ or ‘foot’ compound words) and he had obviously inspired Storm Wing to take up a similar calling.  What I’m getting at is that this armor deserved a bit of notoriety.

~Looking good if I do say so myself.~

At least I didn't collapse in pain this go around.  That was nice, I admit.

~So you can see me.~

It was time to be deductive.  Asking questions the right way can get you information.  Lots of it.  You just have to now how to ask harmless things that get you somewhere no matter the answer.

~Oh dear, I let that slip, I suppose.~

Setting them off guard helps, though it didn’t seem overly worried.

~Yeah, I suppose you did.  So who are you?~

Be direct!

~I told you, I cannot remember my original name.~

And get nowhere, apparently!

~Convenient.~

~No, actually it’s downright frustrating, if you want my honest opinion!~

~Bitter subject.~

~Thank you for noticing.~

~My pleasure.  Now, I’m sorta busy, I can’t chat it up for idle reasoning, here.  Also, what do I call you?~

~Call me an Observer.  Not entirely unlike you when you watched this world.~  

~So... You’re a brony?~

~No.  This is actually a warning that I’m delivering.  A trap is being laid for Celestia.~

Try as he might, he was giving away more than he intended.  The fact that he knew what a brony was and was able to deny such affiliations told me plenty.  He had seen other worlds, and he wasn’t necessarily from neither Earth nor Equestria.

~You mean at this charade of a negotiation?  Yeah, I know.  So does she.~

~Then stop her.~

~She’s a big girl, she can make her own decisions.~

~And if she is wrong?~

~Then we’re all going to look pretty stupid, but I figured out how to handle that sensation a long time ago.~

~I have no problems believing that.~

~You want me to throw on Caramelldansen?~

~Whatever that is, it does sound rather awful.~

~You’ll rue the day, I promise.~

~At least make certain she’s aware.~

~Whatever!  Why do you care?~

~Why do you care?~

~I love it here, what’s your excuse?~

~I like ponies.~

~Don’t you try and out nonsense me, son.  Therein lies the path towards insanity immeasurable.~

~I have no problems believing that.~

~Good.  Was that all you wanted to talk about?~

~I recognize your armor.~

~Oh?  Do tell.~

~It once belonged to a great Hero.  Ev-...~

I’ve heard this about a thousand times in a hundred different ways.  I tried hitting the start button, but then I remembered this was reality and he was being serious.  Which was lame.

~No really, skip the cryptic introduction.~

~Very well.  He was a grey maned, white coated pegasus who played an integral role in defeating Nightmare Moon and sealing away the dark otherworldly magics that brought about its creation.~

~Woah, the stories say nothing about a pegasus.  It just says Celestia won the battle.~

~Celestia hides certain... tragedies from the masses.  The Hero known as Winter Sky died, sacrificing himself to banish Nightmare Moon.  His selfless act gave Celestia the time and power she needed to use the Elements of Harmony as well as disable the source of the esoteric magics that created The Nightmare itself.~

~Now I seriously doubt your credibility.  You’re telling me that not only did a pony die in this utopia, but that Celestia lied to cover up such an awful event.~

~Doubt if you like.  Celestia knows much more than she lets on.  It’s how she has survived and ruled so efficiently for so long.  Why do you think she took on the first pony in a thousand years with the strength to challenge her as a protege?  She may have kind tendencies, but it was Twilight’s power that frightened the alicorn into taking her in.  Perhaps I am making a grand assumption, though, for I have no proof.~

~I’m not the kind of guy that simply gets mad when he hears something that he doesn’t like, but uh... You’re starting to anger me.  Please realize that you’ve no evidence or reason for me to believe you.~

~Ask Storm Wing about his father and why he became a Sky Archon.~

~Fine.  And weren’t you going to tell me where to find you, eventually?  On an entirely unrelated note, I bet it would really hurt if I bucked somepony while wearing this armor.  Thoughts on the matter?~

~Oh dear, I’m all out of time.~

~Yeah, I bet you are.~

Just as our conversation ended, Storm Wing skidded into the room, stopping just in front of me, “Firewall, Trixie’s already contacted Celestia.  We’re to meet her at the Council Room at the Ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony sisters.”

That name is still ridiculously long.

“Alright, I uh... I guess it’s time to rock.  Umm, Storm Wing, I hope you don’t mind the armor,” I coughed, a little uncomfortable.

“Why would you say that?” he tilted his head, arching an eyebrow, “As long as you don’t ruin it, I don’t see there being a problem.”

DERP!  STORM WING CAN’T SEE!  It probably just sensed or... whatever... seemed like another set of armor to him!

“Oh.  Nothing,” I admitted with an inward sigh of relief, “Let’s motor!”

“Moto-...” he started to ask before I interrupted him.

“Ugh!  Forget it!  Lead the way!” I cried out.

“Seriously, that armor isn’t easy to make, don’t ruin it,” he ordered as he turned around and cantered out of the armory into a take-off.  The bastard made me chase him the entire way, and to put things bluntly, that irked me.  So Screw Captain Storm Wing, everypony.

We ran back through the Ball Room of the Royal Palace and I considered stopping to grab my pancakes, but that would have been rather inconsiderate of me to upset Luna’s sleep just for pancakes.  She had better eat them when she wakes up, I told myself.  I hated wasting.  One of the qualities that my Dad had beat into my thick skull.

When we came back outside to the Courtyard, I saw Twilight and Celestia happily chatting it up with one another.  I had almost forgotten that Twilight was even here!

“Hey!  Cool!  Is Twilight coming with?” I asked as I cantered up, sweating and panting a bit from the run.

“Hello, Firewall.  And I think it’s best to not take the risk,” Celestia answered, causing both Twilight and I to show looks of equal disappointment.

“But, Princess, I might be able to help,” she humbly pointed out.

“I don’t want to endanger you on a might, my dear,” Celestia countered, shaking her head.  I could tell she wasn’t entirely committed to the idea, though.  How?  Lemme put it this way:  When Celestia has made a decision, you will know whether or not the conversation is over.  Trust me.  It’s like this gut wrenching feeling that tells you arguing could get you sent to the moon for a thousand years or something.  But that wasn’t the case here.  She was just being overprotective of Twilight.

“Better to have a pony and not need her,” I said very seriously, somehow able to hold a straight face, “Than to need a pony and not have her.”

“Wow, that’s... profound,” Twilight tilted her head, “Did you come up with that on your own?”

“Sure did!”  I lied so hard that I couldn’t help but chuckle, “No, I totally robbed that line from Earth.  I just ponified it.”

“Is that... an actual word in your world?” Silverheart asked as she approached from behind me.

“Oh, it’s the lukewarm caltrop!” I exclaimed happily.  I went to give her a hug, but she just stiffarmed (stiffhoof’d?) me right in the face.

Celestia laughed at me for a moment before sighing in resignation and looking down at a hopeful purple pony face.  After several seconds of silence, she shook her head, “Do I have your word that you will stay safe?”

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!” Twilight swore eagerly, remembering to close her damn eye before shoving her hoof into it.  I couldn’t help but do the motions right along with her, which brought about even more laughter from everypony, except for Storm Wing who was tilting his head as though he were trying to figure out what species we really were.

“I think his crazy is starting to affect the other ponies,” he said with a serious nod, “I vote we lock him up and throw away the key.  I volunteer to take on this heavy burden.”

“Thank you but I don’t think that will be necessary, Storm Wing,” she said with a laugh before letting it trail off and regaining a modicum of seriousness, “We’re leaving soon.  Storm Wing, Silverheart, I want you to stay with me while the rest of the Sky Archons protect the city.  I’ve sent the Equestrian Guard to our borders as we know nothing about our enemy.”

Storm Wing and Silverheart both gave a nod, acknowledging her orders.

“Firewall, I can’t help but feel this has something to do with you,” she admitted, taking a somewhat apologetic stance on her confession, “I’ve been debating on whether or not I should leave you here.”

“Well, not to exclude the possibility, but everything can’t always be about me, right?” I asked hopefully, not believing my own words, “Unless you have a reason to think it does.”

“No.  Just a feeling.  Which... is why you’re coming with us.  That way I can find out for certain if it’s true,” she reasoned.  I think she was trying to do more convincing of herself than she was of me.

“Okay.  Good.  Would have been silly if I had gotten all dressed up for nothing,” I gave a laugh, smirking happily.

“In Winter Sky’s old armor, no less.  I’m not surprised, actually.  He was the only Sky Archon that could compare to you in terms of size,” she gave her nod of approval.  Storm Wing looked as though he’d been kicked in the head as the revelation set in.

“Please, deliver my orders, Captain.  We’ll be off as soon as you return,” she commanded gently, blinking when Storm Wing didn’t instantly obey, “Captain?”

Silverheart looked over at him facing my general direction, seemingly zoned out.  Before anypony could say anything, she gave him a kick to the hindquarters to jerk him out of his conflicted stupor.  I wasn’t so sure that it was a good idea for me to have been wearing his old man’s armor.

“Oh!” he snapped free of his daze, still facing me as he gave a nod, “Of course.  Right away, your majesty.”

With that, Silverheart and Storm Wing took off.  Celestia sighed wistfully and glanced my way, “Please do not take it the wrong way, Firewall.  I do not believe he disapproved but was merely unprepared.”

“Dude, he has every right to be freaking out,” I said in all seriousness.  Then I realized I had called Celestia a dude and choked down the urge to bust out laughing at myself.

By the way, everypony, that’s the secret to lifelong happiness.  Do not take yourself seriously.  The less pride and arrogance you have and the less you fear the public’s eye on you, the more you’ll enjoy life.  Cross my heart, Hope to... Yeah, you know where I’m going with this.

Storm Wing and Silverheart returned with a pair of loud thunderclaps announcing their arrival.  Twilight and I nearly jumped out of our skin, while Celestia rubbed at one of her ears with a slight grimace.

“We’ve done as you ordered, your majesty,” he announced, bowing in mid air to her, Silverheart following suit, “We are prepared to leave.”

“Thank you, Storm Wing, Silverheart.  Please continue to work on less deafening arrivals,” she responded with a smile before whistling as though calling a horse.  Rather than a horse, we got the Awesome Sky Carraige of Awesomeness™ again!  I was instantly thrilled!  I hopped right on and grinned madly at everypony, already ready to get in the air (I think my tail was wagging, even.).  Best thing about flying hundreds of feet off the ground?  No bugs.  Bugs suck.  I wonder how many bugs Rainbow Dash has eaten flying low to the ground.

“Somepony’s excited,” Twilight commented before boarding as well, Celestia moving inbetween us.  

“Yah!” I agreed, tapping my front two hooves in alternation to portray it a little more.

We all took our seats and without another moment wasted, we were off.  I lit up as I usually did in transit, still polite enough to keep my smoke and ashes on the outside.  My mind began to wander around as we moved through the sky, going right back to the place that we had been to yesterday.  I nearly zoned out before suddenly remembering the voice that had tried to warn me.  It was then I looked at Celestia and gave her a gentle poke of my hoof to garner her attention.  Celestia seemed surprised.  Apparently, being a princess, most ponies don’t just poke her.  I had to chuckle a bit, realizing that I was just so comfortable around everypony that I’d yet to act with any propriety around them, princesses included.

“So, you know this is probably a trap, right?” I pointed out to her, “I mean, I’ve complete faith that you know what you’re doing, I’m just curious as to what you have in mind.”

“I plan to negotiate to the best of my ability,” she answered in all seriousness, “If proper terms can be met for good and proper reasons, then I would avoid any unnecessary violence.”

I tilted my head a bit before shrugging, entirely okay with that explanation.  As I had said, I had every bit of faith in Celestia.  She obviously knew more than I did and has been spending a very, very long time as the monarch of a thriving, beautiful world.  What more did one need to hear before they would be convinced?

I finally found out why it took less than an hour to get to get to the R.C.R.P.S. (Much easier to say than Ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters!).  Because it wasn’t far from Canterlot at all!  In fact, after a bit of looking around, I discovered that I had flown over the damn thing on my way to Ponyville to get a pony that would lead me through the forest!  Casually observant of my surroundings, I am not.

We touched down in the Ruined Atrium just outside the central building and disembarked from the Carriage, which flew off into the sky all on its own.  I bet Celestia has no problems finding a parking space with a ride like that!  I JELLY!

“Are we the first ones here?” I asked, looking around to see nopony but us.

“They’re either not here yet or perhaps they are already in the Council Room,” Celestia readily supplied as she made her way towards the central building.

“Or lying in wait to ambush us.  That’s always an option,” Silverheart said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Aren’t you cheerful” Twilight laughed a bit as we all followed Celestia inside.

“She’s about as cheerful as an irritated basilisk.  That’s why she’s my Artillery partner,” Storm Wing acknowledged with a smirk as we entered into the Council Room, which was actually still in decent shape despite its age.  It was a large dome building with a long rectangular table in its center and an entrance at every compass point.  There were spots specifically shaped to hold cushions for ponies to sit on and though there were no cushions at the time, having a pair of powerful magic ponies makes that an easily overcome obstacle.  After all the table spaces were properly cushioned, we all took our seats.  For those of you that simply MUST know, the order from left to right was Silverheart, Celestia, Storm Wing, Me, and Twilight.  Getting bored of descriptions.

“So uh... How long will we have to wait?” I asked, getting fidgety after the first few minutes.

“Not long at all, my silly admirer!” I heard Trixie’s voice and instantly perked up with a huge smile as she appeared along the other side of the table with an arrogant smile.

“Trixie!” I threw up my hooves happily.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie!” she stated firmly, crossing her hooves and holding her head up proudly before noticing the pony sitting beside me, “YOU!  The second-rate unicorn that tried to show me up back at that backwater hamlet!”

Twilight rolled her eyes before glaring right back, suddenly not so happy she had come along after all.  I could tell she was biting her tongue.  She and Trixie didn’t get along.  People make all these Twixie ships and while there may have been a flankload of tension between the two of them, there was not a damned thing romantic about it.  I felt like I was going to catch on fire and then explode (TWICE!) from being on the sideline of those two glares.

That was when we heard the hoofsteps of an incoming pony.  They were loud.  As in, heavy-loud.  As they got closer they became even louder and out of the North entrance behind Trixie came the largest pony I had ever seen.  He looked like a grey version of Big Mac, only slightly bigger and more muscular!  He wore black plate and chainmail armor and a helmet that covered his head and mane completely, showing only a pair of blue glowing eyes.  Quite possibly the most uncuddly looking pony to have ever existed.  His wings were also quite large, indeed they were nearly the size of Celestia’s.  In fact, I’m still pretty sure he could break an arm with those things!  Nothing about this pony said ‘Oh hey, kids!  Let’s have peaceful negotiations and then skip home as we hold hands!’ but rather, screamed something along the lines of ‘There will be beatings and they will involve you and those you love.’

“He looks like he could eat you in one gulp,” I whispered over to Twilight, who snickered despite herself.

“Are you Azure Flora?” Silverheart asked, smirking a bit, “Because if you are, I’m going to need to leave the room.”

“Of course that’s not Azure Flora, you foal!” Trixie snapped irritably as a second set of hoofsteps belied a second pony entering, these much more soft.

That’s when we saw the villainous Azure Flora.  If I had been taking a drink of tea or something, I would have spewed it everywhere with a double take.  My jaw almost fell off as I looked at our so-called conqueror.  I was not impressed, or rather, I was, but more by just how nonthreatening she looked.  She was just a hair shorter than Trixie and a whole lot less intimidating in terms of hostile demeanor.  In fact, she was downright timid.  She was an Earth Pony with a white coat and a royal blue tail and mane.  She looked about as fierce as Fluttershy, in all honesty.  Even her brown saddle bags looked like a couple of dainty young woman’s purses.

“You’re kidding,” I murmured over to Storm Wing as both Azure Flora and her bodyguard (bodypony?  ponyguard?  You get the idea!) as the two of them walked toward their seats beside Trixie, just across from us, “That’s Azure Flora.  I guess we’d be screwed if this were a cuddling competition.”

“Where?” Storm Wing’s visage was one of confusion, “All I sense is Trixie and that big guard pony.”

Celestia, Twilight, and myself all looked at him as though he were blind! Okay, yeah, I went too far on that one (No I didn’t).

“You can’t see her?” Celestia asked softly, arching an eyebrow.  The visible one, naturally.  Yes, I know it’s not always hidden, but she spends enough time using one eye that she has to be able to function without depth perception by now.

“She’s standing just behind Trixie, Captain,” Silverheart informed him, “You don’t sense her?”

“No,” he shook his head, “I see nothing but those two.”

“Technically, you don’t see at a-,” I started to point out before having to adeptly dodging Twilight’s Rebuking Hoof™, “Hah!”

“Firewall, if you cannot act maturely during grave matters, then I will send you back to the castle,” Celestia warned, not in the mood for shenanigans.

“I... Yes, I’m sorry,” I sighed, reminding myself that this situation wasn’t a joke.  I shook my head and began wondering what could keep Azure Flora hidden from Storm Wing.

“I’m surprised you had the nerve to show yourselves!” Trixie chortled pridefully as she interrupted our hushed dialogue.

“Please, Trixie, do not antagonize them,” Azure Flora gently commanded, her voice gentle and pleading.

“I... … Very well, my apologies,” Trixie looked as though she were going to be sick, having forced herself into an apology, “Let us begin.”

“Agreed,” Celestia agreed agreeably (I agree, that was an excess of agreement.) as we all sat up and paid attention, “I’m glad you’re willing to negotiate peacefully.  I am Princess Celestia, Ruler of Equestria.”

“I am Azure Flora.  Nothing more,” she replied humbly, “Forgive the impunity, Princess, but Equestria is in danger from a lurking threat.  At first I thought this threat was merely attempting to sabotage the royal family from within, but certain... sources have led me to believe that the threat is unknown even to the source itself.”

“I see,” Celestia nodded, taking Flora’s words very seriously, “And where did you learn of this threat?”

“I’ve seen it before,” she murmured, looking down, “This is not the first time this has happened, and I... I think you know that already, your highness.”

“Suppose that I don’t,” Celestia countered, her visage fading into slight confusion, “How would you convince me of this threat?”

“Your majesty, there is no proof I could offer.  That is why I was preparing to fight for this cause.  I... I can not let history repeat itself,” she looked back up at all of us, having steeled herself in determination, “I will not fail.”

“What is this history?” I asked, listening very closely.

She flinched.  Visibly.  And we all noticed.  She then looked at me and frowned sadly, “You are not the first human to have come to Equestria.”

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!  Yeah, that sound didn’t actually play, but if it had, no one would have been surprised.  I looked at the others in shock, gauging their reactions.  Storm Wing seemed contemplative, though Twilight was more so.  Celestia certainly looked as shocked as I felt, actually having leaned back a bit.

“How do you know what a human is?” Twilight spoke up, quick to wrangle details out of her.

“As I said, the one you’ve named Firewall.  He is not the first,” she repeated herself, “I was quite familiar with the last one.”

“How do you know his name?”  Storm Wing looked in her general direction.

“I’m... adept at gathering information.  I would rather not reveal my methods, should this yield unfavorable results,” she admitted, nodding an apology.

“What human came before me?” I asked, staring hard.

“I do not know his name,” she shook her head, “I was simply one of the innocents caught in the chaos he caused.”

“The last human to have visited Equestria vanished a thousand years ago,” Celestia announced.  That princess just raised the ante on the ‘my-mind-effing-blown’ factor.

“You knew the entire time!” I gasped (I think this is the very first time in my life I gasped and seriously meant it.)  (Wait, strike that, I gasped when I got a Super Nintendo for Christmas of ‘93!) out loud.

“I will explain later,” she promised, keeping her eye fixed on Azure Flora, “I knew I recognized you.  I never forget one of my little ponies.  You were a gardener, then.”

“Yes,” she gave a nod.

“Wait, you’re over a thousand years old!” I pointed an armored hoof at Flora.

“I am,” she confirmed.

“You were there when Luna became Nightmare Moon!” Twilight emulated my gasp.  I admit, hers was cooler.  That’s what you get when you’re competing with O.P. Sparkle, I suppose. “Did you see what happened?”

“I did,” These two-word answers were getting pretty silly.  I almost wanted to ask her something silly, such as if she had ever dressed up in a colt’s suit or something.  Just to throw her off, y’know?  I didn’t, though.  The tension was so thick here, you could have cut a chunk of it out and bludgeon somepony senseless with it.  So, I was definitely not going to find out just how quickly I could get magic’d the hell out of there by shattering the heavy mood.

“What happened the day The Nightmare was defeated?  What happened to Winter Sky?  My father!” Storm Wing slammed his hooves on the table, “You were there, weren’t you?!”

“I was,” she nodded, looking to Celestia, “Shall I tell him, Princess?”

“All will be explained in time, Everypony.  Let us conclude this business and then we will talk at length later,”  Celestia looked over at me, Storm Wing and Twilight.  We all promptly shut the front do... err... We hushed, “Now, Azure Flora, you think that Firewall is a danger to us all.  Why is that?”

“This,” she finally reached into her saddle bags and tossed a fist-sized ball of metal onto the table.  Trixie winced initially, becoming more comfortable as it rolled from her and more towards us.

“Inmanipulon,” Twilight gasped, her eyes widening, “You were the one that stole it from the crater!”

“You’ve given it a name?  I always called it Anti-Magic (SEE?!).  It’s a dangerous substance.  It can be metal, it can be wood, it can be sand, and it can be liquid,” she explained, staring at it with a hint of malice, “Whatever the shape or state it is in, it is dangerous.  Short-term exposure has random minor effects, easily cured by bathing with a special formula.  Longer term effects are even more random and can be far more dire.  Mine was the loss of my mortality (Z-Z-Z-ZOOOMBIE PONY?!) as well as my special talent, which was growing and arranging beautiful flowers in a small shop.  I also cannot be affected by magic.”

That explained why Storm Wing couldn’t see her, I suddenly realized.  Magic apparently wasn’t even able to perceive her.

Twilight seemed doubtful, tilting her head, “Then why wasn’t I affected when I was at the crater?”

“What little there was at the summoning site was small in quantity and thinly dispersed in a large area.  You would have had to practically roll in the dirt to have seen any effects,” she explained with a nod, “Even a normal bath would have been enough to cleanse you.”

“Wait, random effects?  Special formula bath?” I’d heard of this before, “That doesn’t sound familiar to you, Twilight?”

“The Poison Joke!” Twilight caught the reference instantly, “Is this related to it?”

“Yes.  Poison Joke grows in areas where the substance has resided for a few months,” she clarified, “Much of the Everfree forest is where the... Inmanipulon, you called it?  Fitting, I suppose.  But yes, the Inmanipulon remnants of the last human are mostly found around the Everfree forest.  There isn’t much left that hasn’t eroded into dust, but when enough is gathered in one place, the Poison Joke begins to grow.  The pollen can temporarily carry the same effects as the genuine article, but even those have become less potent.  While generally harmless now, it was not always.  The horrible truth is that this forest once lived up to its ghastly reputation, and still does to a greatly lessened degree.  I’d almost dared to hope that a few more centuries and it would have become completely safe for ponies once again.  And it will be, but only if the human goes home.”

I was flabbergasted!  My jaw was in a constant state of being hung wide open!  I had that feeling, something gnawing at me that me being here was bad.  I felt it as soon as I had woken up in the middle of Town Square.  I had run to Twilight to see if it was true or if I was just being paranoid.  Yet here it was, an ancient Earth Pony staring me down, telling me that history was just going to repeat a tragic event, and only because I was just sitting around, polluting the air.

“So... How does it work?” I asked, slightly numb all over, “What causes me to create this stuff?”

“I don’t know!  I just know something about you, or perhaps the world you come from stagnates magic!” she cried out suddenly, shaking her head in frustration, “What frustrates me the most is how it’s inconsistent with you.  The crater you left from being summoned here was covered in the substance!  Yet you’ve been here for days and I’ve not been able to find a speck elsewhere!  But I’m not waiting for more to appear!  This castle, or rather, what’s left of it, is proof enough that even a grand city such as the one that once surrounded the former capitol can not weather the effects of your entropic aura!  You have to leave, Firewall.  And if you don’t... I... I’ll make you leave.”

I nodded.  It made sense, strangely enough.  As painful as it was for me to admit it, even just on the inside, I believed her.  Humans just... don’t belong in Equestria.

“So... How do I get home?”  I swallowed, idly running a hoof over the table just to busy some part of me.  Distracting oneself, if you would.

“No, this is nonsense!” Twilight gave the floor a stamp of her hoof, “I’ve done research on this substance and I have no reason to believe that he is responsible for it’s creation.  I mean, he uses magic!  And extremely well, for that matter!  He’s a unicorn for crying out loud!”

“I don’t pretend to understand it.  I just know what has happened in the past and I’m not taking any risks.  I’ve been given the power to fight the corruption, and fight it I will,” her voice was soft, but it was like wrapping a steel bar in a layer of cotton.

“I understand your concerns, Azure Flora.  And I agree this does indeed bear investigation,” Celestia nodded.  Hell, I agreed with her.  My being here was indirectly causing enough problems.  It wasn’t too far of a stretch of the imagination to believe that I was a source of the stuff when it only just surfaced the very day I arrived.

“It may already be too late, Princess.  We must take action now and work towards getting him back to wherever he came from,” she pleaded.

“I won’t banish anypony who has done no wrong just on your word,” Celestia shook her head somewhat, “I will, however, ask that you help us by telling us everything you know so that we may get as much of a head start as possible.”

Azure Flora shook her head sadly as she listened to Celestia.  That wasn’t good enough for her, and I could tell by the way she was tensing her body that negotiations were about to end.  Violently.

“And that is why I must wrest control of Equestria from you,” she answered sorrowfully before nodding at Trixie.

When Trixie jumped up on the table and pointed her horn at me, I expected something silly.  Instead, I got something dangerous.  Namely a bolt of lightning that I just barely jumped away from in time.

“That concludes negotiations, everypony!  Thank you for coming,” Silverheart sardonically stated as she and Storm Wing turned and bucked the table up and over.  I almost laughed, despite myself.  I can appreciate a witty line in tight situations.

I heard Trixie squeal in shock as she fell back off the table.  It didn’t fall over on them, shockingly enough, having paused at ninety degrees.  Frost covered it all over in what seemed like an instant before it shattered like glass.  The large pegasus pony that had been standing by Azure Flora literally froze and shattered that huge stone table like a ceramic plate.  Somepony had some cool friends, no pun intended.

Twilight’s horn began to shimmer but Azure Flora held her hoof out.  That ball of anti-magic metal suddenly warped into a long serpentine shape before wrapping itself around Twilight’s neck like a fashion accessory.  I suppose we should have been grateful that she didn’t try to strangle Twilight, but taking her out of the fight so easily was not instilling great amounts of confidence in us.

The big frosty pegasus made a dash for me, flying like a rocket.  He never made it to me, though, thanks to Storm Wing diving into him and using the good ol’ taser hoof.  It’s much funnier when it’s not used on me, I admit.

Trixie shot another bolt at me, but Celestia deflected it with a bit of her own magic as Silverheart reared up, flapping her wings and slamming back down to send a gust forth that shoved Trixie back, though Flora’s hair didn’t even get ruffled by the wind.  I decided I wasn’t going to wait for something else to attack me and began to rush at Azure Flora.  She wasn’t far away and thus I was on her in an instant.  When her eyes widened and she fell back out of instinct, throwing her hooves up to protect herself, I lost my nerve.  I felt so small when I heard her whimper, and it was like letting the air out of a fight-balloon.  She was just another little pony, having been frightened into action.

“Please,” I said, frowning at her, “Just... come with us.  We can work this out.  I don’t want to hurt anypony.”

For a moment, she looked as though she would comply, but after contemplating, she looked at me with resolve once again.

“Neither did he!” she cried, jumping up and dashing for the exit behind her.  I started to chase her, but she haphazardly bucked at me as she screamed for help.

Spurred to action, the frosty stallion finally threw Storm Wing off his back and froze one of his hooves to the floor before dashing after her.  He was faster than I thought was possible on the ground because I had to roll out of his way as he thundered by.  He called out to Trixie as he passed her, his voice cold and hoarse (That pun was totally intended!  Lawl cold horse.), “Trixie.  Retreat.”

“The Great And Powerful Trixie does not retreat!  She merely allows her opponents to live in fear of her retribution!” she snarled before disappearing in another wink.  The cold pony literally closed the path behind him with a wall of ice.

“C’mon!” I shouted, burning the ice down as Storm finally freed his hoof, “Azure Flora has to escape on foot, er... hoof!  Remember?  She can’t be affected by magic!”

Silverheart and Storm Wing nearly ran me over as they flew out the exit.  Celestia paused to look back at Twilight.

“Will you...” she started to ask before being interrupted.

“Yes, I’ll be fine!  Hurry, this might be our only chance,” Twilight protested, “I’ll get back to Ponyville and get this dumb thing off my neck.  Quick, go catch her!”

With that, we bolted out into the ruins of the Courtyard as Celestia whistled loudly, calling in an airlift via the A.S.C.A. (Yes, the Awesome Sky Carriage of Awesomeness™).  We hopped on without it ever stopping and took off after them.  Shocking as this was, we actually were struggling to catch up to them.  Turns out Frosty the Ice Pony was a fast flier, despite that huge frame of his.  In fact, the only reason we were able to gain ground was likely due to the fact that he was having to carry Azure Flora.  So much for travelling by hoof!

I was wondering where Silverheart and Storm Wing were when they suddenly shot out of a nearby cloud and team-tackled our quarry.  They fought to ground him and in the struggle, Azure Flora slipped loose and began to fall.  I’m glad Celestia was quick on the turn and had the kind soul to help her enemy, because it would have traumatized me to see anything bad happen to her, misguided as she was.

We went in for a pass and to my shock, Celestia had totally mistimed the catch.  Once again, my gut reaction was to jump an unsafe distance to save somepony.  My aim was significantly better, fortunately and I repeated the same trick I had done to save Luna.  Luckily, the armor took the worst of the hit, but that still didn’t mean it felt good!

We landed in a large clearing just outside of the forest’s edge.  I didn’t recognize it as any place significant, though I do remember spotting a few red buttes in the distance, so I figured we weren’t far from the railroad tracks that led to Appleloosa.

“This is becoming... a terrible theme.  Next falling pony gets... to take one for the team,” I groaned as I held onto the frightened pony, “You okay?”

“Y... Yes,” she was shivering, scared out of her mind.  It didn’t take her long to realize that she was still in trouble and with that realization in mind, she hoofed me right in my damn face before jumping up and sprinting away.  Gratitude at its finest.

“Trixie!” she called out, “Help!”

The magician pony appeared with a puff and confidently put herself between me and Flora.

“Trixie,” I warned, seriously conflicted deep within, Lafter and Stoic waging war over whether or not to remove the silly pony as an obstacle, “Get out of the way or you will regret it.”

Trixie laughed, throwing back her luxurious sky-blue mane, “You think The Great and Powerful Trixie would soil her lovely hooves fighting you foals?!  The idea is laughable!  This negotiation was doomed from the start!  But Trixie is kind and therefore, she will leave you a parting gift!  It’s my favorite pet!  Don’t forget to feed it, LOSERS!”

With that, Trixie’s horn glowed brightly.  Like, Twilight “OP” Sparkle bright.  Which is extremely bright in first person.  Trust me when I say they’re dimming that down a whole lot in the show, because this had all of us (sans Storm Wing, -10 points if you can’t guess why) squinting as though Celestia had scooted the sun a few million miles closer.  What came next, I didn’t see coming at me in the least.  A black thunderous portal had appeared above us all, unbelievably large and only getting wider.  I didn’t think twice when I noticed something starting to come through it, I just ran.  I wasn’t the only smart one since everypony made way for whatever was manifesting up in that thing.  Even the battling pegasi had broken it up to give whatever was coming plenty of space.

It was big.  It was purple.  It was kinda glowy and transparent.  It was a full grown Ursa Major.  It landed behind us as we continued to haul tail and shook the ground with an impossibly loud roar.  My teeth vibrated like I had bit down on a lawn mower engine (not that I’ve actually done that, I just figure it would be as intense as that.) as the sheer volume caused us all to tremble involuntarily.

I looked over my shoulder and chuckled nervously as I channelled a bit of Fluttershy, “Heezabare!”

“I’m sorry.  I did not want this,” Azure Flora called out as she looked at us with a sad but resigned visage, sighing remorsefully, “But I must.  Equestria is in danger.”

With that, she dumped out both her bags of Inmanipulon and waved a hoof, creating an immensely huge metal cage around us, boxing us in with the Ursa Major.

“Curses,” Celestia spat angrily (at first I was like ‘Curses?  Really?’  but after thinking about it, what was she supposed to say? ‘By my beard!’  or ‘Oh me damn it!’) as she tried to dispel the conjuration, “How did she get so much!?”

Azure Flora gazed at us sadly.  It was obvious she did not enjoy these drastic measures.  That sure as hell didn’t make me like her any more at the moment, but to her credit, she was taking no pleasure in this.  Trixie laughed, poofing away as the icy pegasus flew off with Azure in tow.  Typical villains!  Just assume your traps defeated the Hero!  To their credit, however, I sure-as-sugar wasn’t betting on our survival either.

“Great, so we’re in a box with a bear big enough to beat an ancient dragon into the dirt.  No, I’m cool with this,” I said offhand, shaking my head in frustration, “So we just gotta trash the two-hundred foot tall bear and then we’ll have all the time we need to figure this out, right?!  Storm Wing, you get on that.  Silverheart, hold me as I whimper.”

Silverheart didn’t hold me.  She hit me in the shoulder instead.  I wasn’t comforted by that in the least, however.  In fact, I was hurt.  Not just my feelings either.  She’s got quite an arm... Leg... Hoof?   Whatever.

“Shut up,” she said quite simply as the Ursa began making its way to us.  

She was right, naturally, I just often faced my fears with nonchalance to trick myself into not freaking out.  A small voice inside was telling me that this was a perfectly justifiable freak-out moment, and another part of me was agreeing with it.  Just to paint this little scene, we were four ponies trapped in a cage about the size of the Colosseum in Rome with an ill-tempered Ursa Major.  The comparison in size alone was staggering, as I was able to see just the barest hint of atmospheric fade.  Shadow of the Colossus did not prepare me for this in the least. It was like four little frogs versus a fully grown adult human.  Don’t throw your money on the frogs, right?

(Just a thought.  This is where a commercial would go if this were an episode.  Much to my displeasure, though, this was really happening.)

“What do we do, princess?” Storm Wing asked, his mane and hooves starting to crackle with power.  Silverheart swallowed a bit, obviously intimidated but still holding her cool.  I did what I do best:  Light a cigarette and play it cool.  Cool involving getting ready to wrap a blindfold around my eyes so I don’t tense up too much.

Celestia glared at the cage, then back at the Ursa Major before uttering the most unlikely words I’d ever heard from the pony princess, “We fight.  Buy me as much time as you can, ponies.  Just be safe.”

All hesitation and second thoughts were instantly dispelled.  I looked at Silverheart and Storm Wing, both of which nodded and began to paw at the ground before charging the incredibly huge bear.  I looked back at her, smirking as I resigned myself to what I figured would probably be my last day as a pony.  Then I took off as well, snorting flame and kicking up fiery chunks of dirt in my wake.

“BEST.  WEEK.  EVER!”  I screamed like a lunatic as we began to close distance.  It wasn’t going to take very long, mostly because anything that size can haul big bear butt when it wants to.

Storm Wing took off into the sky, falling back as Silverheart slipped in front, taking flight ahead of him.  Ever see two Sky Archons work in tandem?  Okay, stupid question.  Ever imagine what two pegasi could do when working in tandem?  I have.  I was grossly underestimating their potential.  Silverheart stopped advancing as Storm Wing took to higher altitudes.  She began to loop rapidly, swirling the air about betwixt Storm Wing and the Ursa, which was still getting dangerously close to us.

I wasn’t sure what they were going for, but I didn’t like the fact that the Ursa was raising a paw to swat Silverheart out of the sky.  So I stopped just under her and I inhaled.  When I say I inhaled, I mean I burned nearly an inch off that cigarette sucking in as air much as I could hold.  Just before it could swing, I let loose enough fire that it yanked its paw back, quite singed.  That little escapade took a lot out of me.  The second worst part?  I’d received worse burns from roman candles in comparison.  The absolute worst part?  The damage seemed to fade away after a few seconds.

“Yey, I’m helping~!” I laughed sadly at how much effort I had put into causing a temporary annoyance at best.

Fact was, I was actually helping a lot, I just didn’t know it at the time.  When Storm Wing finally got enough altitude, he turned and began to dive at Silverheart, whom had actually been forming a storm cloud.  A small, concentrated thundering little beast of a cloud.  It shot lightning and everything.  Craziest thing I’d ever seen?  Not by a long shot.  But still quite mind blowing.

“Get’m, Storm!” Silverheart cheered as she veered off at the last second, releasing the cloud.  Storm Wing punched straight through it and sucked up every last bit of that lightning and thunder, ripping it right out of the cloud and dragging it with him.

I’ve been to concerts that wish they were as loud as the impact between Storm Wing and the Ursa Major.  I actually had to clap my hooves over my ears to avoid being deafened.  He connected with it right in the shoulder, literally knocking it back and into the air for just half a second.  Bears are not used to getting knocked around, thus I can assume that Ursa Majors experience such sensations with even less frequency.  It roared and thrashed for a moment as the electricity coursed throughout it before shaking its head, somewhat dumbfounded that it had just been booted into the air by such a small opponent.

“That should have put it down!” Silverheart protested, not believing her eyes.

“It’s magically protected,” Celestia’s eyes were shut as her horn flashed over and over, “I’m still trying to dispel them all!”

Now, I’m not an incredibly fair fighter.  I mean, when I get into fights, it’s not for fun.  It’s because something huge is on the line and it’s gone far enough that I’m willing to do whatever it takes for that something.  Celestia’s life, Silverheart’s life, my life?  Those were important.  Oh, yeah, and that other jackpony.  What I’m getting at was that I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for it to get back up as a go-ahead to attack.  I just galloped up and starting roaring fire at whatever part I could reach.

Ursa Major’s response?  Roll over on me.  You’ve no idea how incredibly stupid I felt as that stupid bear’s fat butt began to roll my way, going way faster than anything I could have done to escape.  So I decided against escaping and tried to fight the tide of purple starry fur rolling my way by rearing up and slamming down, creating a pillar of fire around myself.  Remember that whole, ‘expect it and you get it’ trick?  Yeah, I owe Luna so much for that.

It brushed against the pillar before roaring again and throwing itself in the other direction.  Storm Wing and Silverheart began to roll up another Stormy-Silver-Combo-Thing when the bear finally got back to its feet and spotted them.  It wasn’t going to make it in time to stop them, so it just decided to scrape up a pawful of dirt (to us, it was like ripping up a small hill) and chucking it at Silverheart, who barely managed to dodge the worst of it.  A bit of debris caught her in the wing, however and she went down, roughly skidding along to a halt, crying out upon impact.  (C-C-C-Combo Breaker!  Bad taste, I know!)

“Man, just go away!”  I shouted before breathing more fire at its foot, causing it to roar angrily before turning at me in earnest.  It tried to stomp on my sorry plot but uh... I just burned that foot, too.  I didn’t know what else to do and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work!

Storm Wing collided with its face, though without the storm cloud, it wasn’t nearly as affective.  It roared and swatted at him a few times, driving him away as I spat a fireball (Expect it!  Ole~!  I expect you to disappear, Ursa Major!  (No, that didn’t work, sadly!)) at its face.

“Finally!”  Celestia cried out triumphantly as she shot a ray from her horn at the Ursa Major.  It hit (like you could miss something that size) it right in the nose and as soon as it did, the Ursa Major changed just a bit.

It grew armor.  Not just any armor, but a very specific armor.  I’d seen this armor, actually, and very recently, as a matter of fact.  It was the same armor that Nightmare Moon had worn, sans the horn in the helmet.

“The Ursa is being controlled by The Nightmare!” Celestia explained, teleporting to my side, “It’s not a pony, so this has to be a spell.  We just have to overcome its magic.”

Celestia tried firing another ray, but a purple mist crept forth from within the Ursa and struck the spell away.

Now, I kinda got that ‘OSHI-’ feeling when she said ‘Ursa controlled by Nightmare’ going down all over me.  I kinda broke into a cold sweat even.  But it was quickly replaced by more feelings of awesome as I realized something.

“The anti-magic crap!”  I pointed to the bars behind the bear.

“Indeed,” she was thinking the same thing, “The Inmanipulon.”

“Storm!”  I yelled up at him.  When he didn’t immediately give us his attention, I spat a couple of small fireballs at him to get him.  He didn’t think that was funny, but at least he looked our way.

“What are you doing, you foal!  Aim at the armor-clad bear!” he scolded me.

I hated the name, but apparently I had to use it, “The stupid Inmanipulon!  Push the bear into it!”

“And how are we going to do that, Genius?!” he shouted back, “Silverheart is down!”

“Ask it nicely?” I shrugged.  Damn it, Fluttershy, why aren’t you here when we have a giant monster that needs to get its face told in!?

“I’ve a better idea.  Firewall, why don’t you breathe some more fire?”  Celestia said with a smirk, her horn began to glow, “I’ll see what I can do to help.”

I watched in confusion as a line of magic lazily drift from her horn to mine.  Then, I felt it surge throughout my entire body, all at once.  I don’t think there are words for what Celestia was doing to me (Use that out of context and you may be beaten and then handed to the masses.).  It was like I had been plugged into a nuclear generator.  Ever see ‘Meet The Medic’?  Yeah, there was no way they could have made it look this awesome.  I could feel heat and fire flowing from every inch of my body and it was only getting hotter.  It was a rush like no other.  Indescribable, to be certain.  My hooves were white with heat, my entire coat and mane were blazing like the sun, and the best part was it didn’t even burn my cigarette.  I looked at the bear and considered saying something snarky just to be goofy about the entire ordeal, but I just settled for spitting out the Mareboro and roaring out the largest inferno one could possibly imagine.  The Ursa had to be at least half a mile away, but it made no difference because its body was not ready.

The Nightmare Ursa roared in protest as the flames washed over it.  It stumbled back, badly singed all over as I began to pant heavily, stopping only to take another breath.  The air was shimmering from the residual heatwave still left over from the last breath and through it I could see it staring at me angrily, this time ready to dodge.  I hesitated, unsure if I should take an uncertain shot, especially when the first had left me so lightheaded.  Storm Wing was on top of it, though, flying up to lightning-blast it in the nose with a quick pass, distracting it just long enough for me to tag it with another staggering wave of flame.  I heard Celestia gasp a bit.  This was taking its toll on her, especially within this cage.  I could relate.  I was barely able to stand after that second one.  I even saw those same silly sparkles that let you know you’re about to pass out.

“One more, princess,” I promised, my voice somewhat unstable and melodic with all the power coursing though me.  It was obvious that such a small body was not designed to act as a conduit for so much power.  The fatigue wasn’t even in my body, it was more as though my will had been drained.

“As many as it takes, Firewall” she answered, her voice still strong, “Do not stop.”

I didn’t respond.  In all actuality, I wasn’t certain I could do one more, much less anything more than that.  Taking another deep breath, I spread the volley out a bit to push the Ursa back once more, putting everything I had left into it.  I could tell it wasn’t as strong as the last one, and to my dismay, it wasn’t enough.

Its back brushed against the cage a bit, causing it to convulse a bit as the spell faltered somewhat.  I then inhaled as hard as I could, knowing that I had to try.  Try harder than I ever had.  My lungs were aching from so much air (I’m sure smoking had NOTHING to do with that) filling them as I began to let it all out.  Just before I did, I discovered that I couldn’t go through with it, after all.  I was quaking all over just from trying to stay standing.  I began to cough violently and fell to my knees.

“I’m s*cough*sorry, Princess,” I gasped out in between breaths, my eyes watering as my body ached all over.

“You did your best,” she assured me before taking flight towards the Ursa, shining like a star as she accelerated.  The Ursa began to move, but Storm Wing was there again, like a bad penny, disorienting it by clapping thunder by its ears and striking amongst the face.  It was like watching a fly beat a man about the head and shoulders with a small tack hammer in terms of effectiveness.  Celestia took the opportunity to crash into the corrupted monster’s chest, knocking it back that last bit.

The Ursa collided with the cage, causing it to rip up out of the ground behind me as it fell over.  The effect was instant, nearly, with an explosive reaction that thrust The Nightmare out of its host.  The Ursa lost consciousness as The Nightmare was forced from its body, causing the vaporous fiend to scream in pain and fury.  I smiled tiredly, grinning in triumph as I put more weight onto my knees(those are knees, right?  Ponies have knees and not some obscure jargon for their leg joints, yes?).

“There it is, Storm Wing.  Arrest that cloud,” I chuckled as I shook my head, trying to clear the adrenaline and fatigue out.  I was just so tired after all of that and I wasn’t the only one.  Celestia  flew back lazily, landing with a shaky canter as she panted even harder than I was.  We could barely stand up, we were so exhausted.  I’m pretty sure the victory rush was the only thing keeping me awake.

“Not bad,” she gave a tired chuckle.

“No *cough* kidding.  Eat your heart out, Trixie.  We vanquished... the dreaded Ursa... Major,” I laughed a bit before falling over, fading in and out of consciousness, “Beat that.”

“Look out!” I heard Storm Wing cry out to us.

“THIS ISN’T OVER, BEAST!” I heard the furious, disembodied voice of The Nightmare echo as I felt a rush of air blowing over me.

And I was suddenly wide awake again, scrambling to my hooves as I heard Celestia gasp in shock.  The Nightmare had her.

“No!” I shouted as I turned back towards her and leaped.  Celestia was trying her best to fight it off, but I could tell in her weakened state, that wasn’t going to happen without help, “Celestia!!”

“Princess!”  I heard Storm Wing shout as he dived down at us, “NO!  Get away from her!!”

Storm Wing was just too far away, but I had a chance.  The Nightmare lifted her from the ground and my horror was absolute when I failed to grab hold.  My hoof actually nicked hers, the margin was so small.  I felt sick as I jumped again, knowing there was no way I could have closed the widening distance.  It was the single, most difficult thing I’d ever had to watch.  I thought I had known fear when Rainbow Dash was being stolen from me.  I thought I was afraid when I had faced down an Ursa Major with just three other ponies.  But for the first time since being in Equestria, the sensation of absolute terror took hold and gripped me from within.

“At last, I am victorious!” The Nightmare laughed in total glee as more of its misty form vanished into the alicorn, “Equestria is MINE!


The skies began to shift colors as the sun changed from a warm, beautiful yellow to a threatening dark red.  Clouds swirled and formed, thundering loudly within an instant as rain and torrential winds surged forth
.  The armor appeared, gold and razor sharp on Celestia’s form, adorning her hooves, neck, crown, and wings. Her multi-hued mane and tail shifted and swung low, becoming blood red.  She gave one final cry as she lost the battle to The Nightmare.

“CELESTIA!”  Storm screamed in futility, making a line straight for her.

“No,” their voiced mixed harmoniously, chilling my blood,  “Celestia no longer.  I am Nightmare Sol, Ruler of Equestria.  And you, Son of Winter Sky, are my subject.”

“Never!” he shouted as he closed the last bit of distance, only to be struck away with a wink of her magic.

“This... isn’t funny anymore,” I murmured softly, swallowing the horrible truth that floated down before me.

“On the contrary,” she replied with a small chuckle, turning to face me, “I’ve never felt like laughing so much in my entire existence.”

 

Next time on “Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

“Did I not tell you, human?”

She sounded so calm.  Not nearly as feral and insane as The Nightmare was when it had no host.  Made sense, though.  Nightmare Moon was quite coherent.  I guess Nightmare Sol gets that perk, too.

“My name is Firewall.”

“No, it isn’t.  Do not lie to either of us.  Though in reality, I should ask you to continue fooling yourself.  It got me where I am today.”

“What are you talking about?  And how is it that you’re working with Azure Flora?  I can’t really believe that she ever wanted to hurt anypony!”

“She believes what she is told.  She doesn’t have to know that I brought you here, she only needs to know that you’re the cancer that is plaguing Equestria.  You, on the other hand, seem to do whatever it is you please, despite my warnings back at the ruins.  I said that you coming here would bring it all crashing down, and it did.  And you were there to help make it happen.  If you had listened from the start, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“You’re still speaking as though I’m a monstrous demon, yet I‘m the one that spared your life and YOU’RE still the one actually causing ALL of this!”

“Oh, I suppose I’ve been outsmarted again.  Oh, very well.  Perhaps I should let you roam free as I show you what I’ll do with you beloved ponies now that I have control of their great leader.  What do you think of that, ‘Brave Firewall?’”

“I think that has got to be the worst and most cliche villain mistake ever.  And you’re stupid for even considering it.”

“And you’re a foal for having fallen into my trap and delivering Celestia right to me.  I like my joke better.  It’s funnier.”

“You want to know what’s even funnier than that?  Here, I’ll sum it all up for you.  When this is all over, ponies and humans are going to read about the terrible things that I’ll have done to you.  It’ll be biblical, I promise.  You think you’re The Nightmare, but you’ll be the one begging to wake up when I get ahold of you!  I swear to you, Celestia will be free and you’re going to curse the name of whatever created you long before it’s over!  I’ll make all your fanciful delusions of misanthropic humanity look like a bedtime story!  Do you hear me?!  You’re dead!”

“In that case, I had best take care of you right now.  I’ll put that beautifully passionate threat on your grave as an epitaph.  I wouldn’t want to waste such heartfelt poetry.”

Final Author’s Note:  CONFOUND THESE PONIES!  THEY DRIVE ME TO WRITING 14000 WORDS/34 PAGES! >.<

Also, check the GoogleDoc Chat.  :)  I’m usually in there on the latest chapter, especially on chapter release days!  Drop me some feedback, though leaving comments and rates is always the bestest~!

Chapter 6                                                                                Chapter 8


BEST VIEWED THROUGH GOOGLE CHROME! >:(  OKAY?!

Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Eight:  Tomorrow Never Chapters

FIREWALL!  Y U SO SAD?!

AUTHOR’S PAGE BEGIN!  HOO-HAH!  I guess we’re in the home stretch now, my enthusiastic little admirers~!  We are now at 4.8 stars at just 7 chapters in!  Hopefully five more will push us into 4.9 and then you can go rub it into the faces of all those trolls that think HiE, Self Inserts, and OC Ponies are terrible ideas! >:3

In other news, Wrek and Ice have been working really hard to create more art and I wanted to give them some more link-love, so here it is!  Follow them if you do that sorta thing on DeviantArt.  :3  They really appreciate it.  Also, you may notice the fic is taking a more serious, more emotional turn.  That’s okay, right?  I mean, comedy is still in the fic, I’m just putting an actual story in with the jokes.  Do not worry.  The humor comes first, as it is the entire spirit of this fiction.

Also, I wanted to post a few answers for everypony on questions  that I keep getting over and over.

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Q:  What inspired this fic?

A:  I was drinking (a lot) one night and a friend didn’t believe me when I said I’m a damn good writer.  Not to be the brass section of a marching band (I was pretty drunk),but I like to think it’s my talent.   I also know all the unspoken rules of writing, I just slap them in the face in this fic because I wanted to emphasize that I could write anything and make it good with enough effort.  As long as I love what I’m writing, I can make magic (or so I’m told)!  Also, when I told another friend I would be doing a self-insert fiction, he all but came right out and told me it was a stupid idea.  That meant I had to do it.  He apologized after chapter three. >:3

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Q:  What is the single most important thing when it comes to writing, in your opinion?

A:  Go for the emotion.  Emotional response is how you know you are doing it right.  When someone is screaming at their monitor in a furious rage, you’re doing it right.  When someone’s leg is bouncing from the excitement or fear, you’re doing it right.  When someone is struggling to not cry, you’re doing it right.  When someone actually starts to bawl like a baby, you’re doing it better.  When someone goes to sleep and dreams about your work, you’re doing it best.  Go for the emotion.  Everything else falls into place after that.  Just my opinion.

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Q:  Can Luna read this?/Shouts out to Luna!

A:  Read this chapter. -_-

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Q:  Are you a wizard?

A:  Negatory!  I just slap a mean keyboard! :D

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Q:  Are you Firewall/vice versa

A:  Though I’ve called this a self-insert, I guess I really shouldn’t, in all honesty.  Sure, it was a Self-Insert at first, I don’t deny that, but it’s not so simple anymore.  I mean, Firewall has a lot of me in him.  Lots and lots of me even.  In fact, he was pretty much just me in the first chapter.  However, I’m proud to say that he has outgrown that mold and is pretty much an OC at this point and has been for some time.  *sniff*  He’s all grown up now.

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Q:  Can I send you fan art, fan-fan-fiction, etc?

A:  Of course. :3  It’s flattering to know that my flagrant attempt at art inspires other people to do so as well!  I want to see it!  Send to me at [email protected]!

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Q:  How can I show my appreciation/do you take donations?

A:  This only came up a couple of times, actually, but it was a big question.  I was offered donations and while that sure went straight to my head, I knew that would be a legal nightmare.  In truth, the best way to show your love is comment, rate and  to spread this fic around.  :3  I may be no Kkat (100 page chapters!  With smaller text!  Mind blowing!  Is she single!?  How’s my hair!?), but I sure wouldn’t mind having a thousand rates and comments!

I stared at her as my heart continued to sink.  Sorrow and horror alone had caused me to break into a cold sweat.  I had seen it with my own eyes and I still did not want to believe it.  Numbness had settled in all over.  I took a step back as Nightmare Sol landed before me gently, smirking down at me arrogantly.  Her pink eyes were now golden, draconian in shape and staring right into mine, the corner of her mouth upturned in a sense of superiority.

“I don’t suppose you just... want the day to last forever or something?” I asked with a nervous chuckle.

“You’re not that lucky,” she said as she cantered forth, her flowing red mane lazily trailing behind her, “No, I’ve much greater, much grander plans in mind.  Oh~ho~ho... Yes, plans that would make you cringe in terror.”

With that, she lifted a hoof to softly stroke the side of my face, “And it’s all thanks to you, my terrible human.”

I struck that hoof away from me, suddenly no longer in the mood for humor, “Bullshit.”

“Did I not tell you, human?” she asked with a laugh, less insulted than amused by my reaction, “I certainly remember something along those lines.”

She sounded so calm.  Not nearly as feral and insane as The Nightmare was when it had no host.  Made sense, though.  Nightmare Moon was quite coherent.  I guess Nightmare Sol gets that perk, too.  The silver lining here was that I didn’t have to listen to that enraged disembodied shrieking.

“My name is Firewall,” I spat, snorting a bit of flame in anger.

“No, it isn’t.  Do not lie to either of us.  Though in reality, I should ask you to continue fooling yourself.  It got me where I am today,” she pointed out, laughing all the more, holding up a hoof up in front of her muzzle to emphasize her mirth, “So go on, then, ‘Firewall!’”

“What are you talking about?  And how is it that you’re working with Azure Flora?” I snarled, cutting a glare at her, “I can’t really believe that she ever wanted to hurt anypony!”

“She believes what she is told.  She doesn’t have to know that I brought you here, she only needs to know that you’re the cancer that is plaguing Equestria,” she gave a shrug as if to say she was helpless in that regard, “You, on the other hand, seem to do whatever it is you please, despite my warnings back at the ruins.  I said that you coming here would bring it all crashing down, and it did.  And you were there to help make it happen.  If you had listened from the start, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“You’re still speaking as though I’m a monstrous demon, yet I‘m the one that spared your life and YOU’RE still the one actually causing ALL of this!” I growled at her, already sick to death of this conversation.

“Oh, I suppose I’ve been outsmarted again.  Your logic is so strong and flawless!  Oh, very well.  Perhaps I should let you roam free as I show you what I’ll do with you beloved ponies now that I have control of their great leader.  What do you think of that, ‘Brave Firewall?’” she mocked, pouting her lips at me.

“I think that has got to be the worst and most cliche villain mistake ever.  And you’re stupid for even considering it,” I remarked, giving her a derogatory snort of laughter.

“And you’re a foal for having fallen into my trap and delivering Celestia right to me.  I like my joke better,” she gave a wing shrug, “It’s funnier.”

“You want to know what’s even funnier than that?” I asked before trotting up to her, getting a hoof full of dirt on the sly, “Here, I’ll sum it all up for you.  When this is all over, ponies and humans are going to read about the terrible things that I’ll have done to you.  It’ll be biblical, I promise.  You think you’re The Nightmare, but you’ll be the one begging to wake up when I get a hold of you!  I swear to you, Celestia will be free and you’re going to curse the name of whatever created you long before it’s over!  I’ll make all your fanciful delusions of misanthropic humanity look like a bedtime story!  Do you hear me?!  You’re dead, Nightmare!”

“In that case, I had best take care of you right now,” she frowned, no longer amused by my threatening rant, “I’ll put that beautifully passionate threat on your grave as an epitaph.  I wouldn’t want to waste such heartfelt poetry.”

“You’ll have to catch me first,” I murmured softly before showing that I still don’t play fair.  Remember that dirt I got a hooffull of?  I had been pumping as much heat into it as I could without being caught.  As such, I chucked that hoof full of superheated dirt right into her pretty serpentine eyes before turning and sprinting off.  Yes, I know, that’s terrible of me, but I was in no shape to be taking on ponies of my caliber, much less possessed demi-god-ponies.  So instead of a fight, she got a load of fiery sand to the face, “STORM WING!  WE ARE LEAVING!”

I looked over to see Storm haphazardly stumbling back to a standing position.  He’d seen better days, but he was no worse off than I was at least.  Using that bit of magic just to heat up that sand had taken more out of me than I had expected, even in this state.

“But the princess,” he stammered, shaking his head.

“AGGGH!  I will scour you from this world!” I heard Nightmare Sol scream furiously behind me, “There is no place you can run!”

I looked back to watch her fire off a few random spells in different directions.  Judging by the damage they were causing, I don’t think I would have lasted very long if I had tried to take her head on.  I ran over to Storm and gently nudged him with a whisper, “Look, if you want to go try and save her right now with us the way we are, be my guest.  Actually no, that’s stupid.  I’ll save you the time and tell you that she’ll just kill you or worse.  I need you to fetch me the Sky Carriage, wherever it is.  I’ll take care of Silverheart.  Go.  Now!”

When he didn’t immediately comply, I bucked at him which forced him to dodge into the air.  I really just wasn’t in the mood for waiting and I certainly wasn’t in the mood for consolation.  After another second, he got the idea and sped off, leaving me to run over to the incapacitated shiny silver pony.  I looked over to see Sol rubbing at her eyes, still crying out in pain and I knew I didn’t have much time.  I threw Silverheart over my shoulder and began to gallop as fast as I could.  It didn’t take much longer for her to wake up and start looking around lazily.  I was bolting back into the Everfree Forest since it was the only thing with any visual cover nearby.  I don’t think I would have made it to Appleloosa if I tried that route.  It was only a few days away by hoof, so yeah.  Hop, skip, and a jump, right?

“Did we win?” she asked with a bland expression on her face.

“Yes,” I said with a nod, “That’s why we’re running our sorry plots away as fast as we can.”

“So we didn’t win,” she replied with a wince.

“Not much gets by you, darling,” I confirmed with a snarl, “Also, if you hit me, I’m dumping you out here and leaving you to The Nightmare.”

“Oh,” she shook her head as we finally slid into the sanctuary of the forest, “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I’m not angry, how about that?” I snapped, already feeling bad for having taken out some of my frustration on her, “Can you walk or fly?”

“Lemme s-Ow... Um.  No,” she answered after an experimental movement, “Why?”

“Because we might have had to split up,” I groaned irritably.

“Why?” she continued to pursue.

A beam of energy that screamed like a nails on a chalkboard immolated the tree right beside us.  It wasn’t a small tree, nor was it a small beam.  In fact, the tree was one of the biggest I had seen in Equestria (And so was the beam for that matter!).

“Oh,” she stated with a nod, “That’s a pretty good reason.”

“I’d like to think so,” I concurred with a sigh, crestfallen with the realization that Nightmare Sol knew where I was.  I wasn’t particularly fast, and Nightmare Sol could fly, had better magic, and was not burdened by a passenger.  I was still going to give it my damnedest, I told myself.  That in mind, I sprinted amongst the trees, dodging in and out of them as I moved, making myself an evasive target as I galloped and hoping that landing a hit would be more difficult that way.  It was when I spotted an incredibly huge tree that had fallen down in front of us that I cursed aloud.  I had to veer to the left which led to a small gorge.  Small or not, though, I wasn’t going to make that jump with Silverheart on my back and I had the feeling turning around was going to lead to my premature, but no doubt lovely funeral.  I imagine there would be flowers, some crying ponies, some jackpony singing ‘It’s A Great Day To Be Alive’ by Travis Tritt, and a heartfelt eulogy by some pastor that would struggle to define and describe me since he had never met me in person.  At least the song would have been lovely.

“Keep running,” Silverheart commanded as she wrapped her hooves around my neck, “Jump as hard as you can!”

I didn’t know what else to do, so I obeyed.  Just before the jump, I felt a surge of lightness and my jump propelled me incredibly far.  For a moment, I thought I was flying and if I had any wings, I’m pretty sure I could have done just that.  I almost became not unhappy (SUFFER, YOU DOUBLE NEGATIVE GRAMMAR NAZIS!) as I realized that Silverheart had just given me a taste of pegasus magic and that our chances of escaping were starting to look a little better.

“Nice one,” I exhaled upon landing on the other side of the gorge, “Got any more tricks?”

“Such as what?” she asked as we both looked back over our shoulder to see Nightmare Sol in the sky, scouring the trees for us.

“Fog.  Lots of it,” I suggested with a whisper, as I rounded a tree and took small break, “Like... I want the forest to be impossible to see from above.”

“No can do.  I have to be able to fly to create the vortex that condenses the water enough to make clouds.  Duh,” she said with a shake of her head.

I stared at her like she was mutating into a platypus or something.  She had just given me a scientific rebuttal to my request for magic.  It was like asking if one could solve a math problem but was told no because their grammar was bad.  Hell, magic was like... the antithesis to science, right!?  Silverheart was spouting complete nonsense, in my opinion!

“But magic... ponies... you just science it... AGH!” I shook my head in frustration.  MAGIC  Y U NO WORK?

“That’s common knowledge,” she gave me a skeptical stare, mirroring my incredulous attitude.

“Oh, it’s common knowledge, is it?!  Just shut up.  I’m going to pretend we didn’t have a conversation about this,” I replied with a sad laugh, my mind still reeling from the blow to my universal perception.

Before she could reply, Nightmare Sol suddenly landed with an explosive crash just meters away from us.  I’m pretty sure I nearly wet myself in shock.  Don’t even try to judge me.

“This chase is over, barbarian,” she seethed, aiming her horn at us and glaring with both her eyes.  If I wasn’t scared out of my mind, I would have noticed that sooner and vocalized my fascination.  However, I was just frightened.  Shrieking-little-girl frightened.

For no apparent reason, Silverheart threw her hooves over my eyes.  At first I thought she was trying to spare me the horror of death by pony (As if the cupcakes nightmare wasn’t bad enough).  As it were, though, I heard a thunderous clap as though lightning had just struck mere inches from me.  I jumped like a scared bunny and dared a glance.  Today was not Nightmare Sol’s day for seeing very well.  From what I gathered, Silverheart had caused a lightning strike right in front of our pursuer and was successful in blinding her as I had done.  Pegasus flashbang!  I’ll put it this way, it was sill bright even through her hooves.

“I will destroy you both!” Nightmare Sol roared angrily as she shut her eyes, rearing up and shaking the ground with a thunderous stomp.

“Run, you idiot!” she shrieked, hitting me in the back of the head with her hoof as Nightmare Sol vaporized a boulder right beside us, crying out in anger.  That had to be frustrating.  She was probably going to need glasses if this kept up much longer.  Wouldn’t that be silly?  (She could get tape to hold them together after they get broken!)

Needless to say, I didn’t argue and took off as fast as I could.  Everything from my back, to my neck, to my legs, and I’m pretty sure even my poor tail were all aching from exhaustion.  I listened to the thunderous skies that Sol had summoned and thought of Storm Wing.  Just how long was he going to take?

“We have to hide, we’re not going to outrun her,” Silverheart pointed out, watching our backs as I tried to put distance between us and our attacker.

“We just have to wait.. for Storm Wing to find us,” I answered, starting to pant heavily.

I looked back and felt a modicum of relief as I did not spot Nightmare Sol in the sky or on our tails.  I continued to run, grunting with every soft beat of my hooves against the dirt.  The toll it was taking on my body was starting to be more than I could handle.  I began to lose speed and while I could simply order myself to speed back up, at first, it wasn’t long before my hooves were going on strike and no longer taking orders.

“You’re slowing down,” Silverheart pointed out, “What’s wrong?”

“I... I’m not... I’m just too,” I literally slowed down to a canter, finally running out of steam.  I looked forward to spot another ravine and groaned in exasperation.  What the hell had happened to the stupid Everfree Forest?  It had more cracks in it than a dropped egg!

“You don’t have the strength, do you?” she asked, to which I slowed to a stop and shook my head, panting like a dog.

“You’re... too fat,” I couldn’t help myself, okay!?  I was about to die, I had to get one last laugh in!  It was totally worth the bitchhoof (Pony bitchslap, fyi.  Yeah, I know.  Unnecessary profanity.)  that I got to the back of my head, too!

“You are the most immature, undisciplined, stupid human I’ve ever met!” she wasn’t amused by my nonchalant nature.  I mean, I really didn’t want to die, but at this point, I’d had a chance to brohoof Dash, glomp Trixie, squeeze Fluttershy, hug Twilight, kick Blueblood in the face, and fly throughout the air.  My bucket list was all cleaned up a long time ago.

Yeah, that’s actually all a bunch of nonsense.  I was simply in a complete state of inner panic and my trigger reaction for calming myself in bad situations is... Well... Humor.  Laugh it away.  Worst thing that could happen is you die laughing, right?  I make fun of horror movies, I giggle at awkward situations, I make bad jokes when I was looking at purchasing the farm (which is slang for dying, for those of you that don’t get that age old adage.).  It’s a stupid self-defense that keeps me from losing my cool, simply because my mind simply stops working when I lose my cool.  I’m one of the sheep after that.  I don’t like being a sheep, and if that involves laughing in the face of death (that actually sounds pretty badass) then so be it.

“I’m also the... sexiest... coolest one, too,” I pointed out, reminding her that I was the only one she had ever met.

“This is how it ends,” she gave a groan as she began whining in frustration “Couldn’t have just been slowly eaten by a dragon or something, could it?!  No, it had to be stuck with you!”

“I’ll make sure you don’t suffer long,” Nightmare Sol’s lovely and sinister voice came from behind us.

I turned and scampered back a few steps, unintentionally putting myself dangerously close to the aforementioned ravine.  I looked downat the river at the bottom and... really, I didn’t feel like taking the shot.  It was a long way down and I don’t think there was any point in taking a jump when your pursuer could just fly down after you.

“Quite a merry chase you’ve led me on,” she started to gloat with a sadistic smile as she began to emit a flashing light from her horn.  Silverheart tried flicking her tail, but nothing happened except for a tiny spark.  She was blocking out our magic, “Too bad it couldn’t go on f-...”

“Oh, god, please... do not... monologue me to death,” I groaned in between breaths, rolling my eyes and shaking my head.

“Silence!” she snapped angrily, not appreciative of my lack of appreciation for the situation, “You’re in no position to make demands!”

“For once, I agree with him,” Silverheart shook her head, “I’ve no intention of listening to your drivel before it’s all over.  Get it over with.”

Her eye twitched furiously for a few moments before she quickly brought herself back to sensible thinking.  She coughed and nodded before simply smirking.

“Very well.  Consider it your final request,” she lowered her horn at us as it began to illuminate the entire area around us.

My mind flashed to my family, my friends, the ponies, Luna and Celestia, Storm Wing (Screw him for not being here!), and finally back to a lovely stack of pancakes that I never got to enjoy.  That actually made me snort out a laugh as I shut my eyes.  I was starting to mentally crack all over as I realized that the merry chase and the beautiful dream had all come to an end.  I was only consoled by the fact that I wouldn’t be causing some small cataclysm by shedding off that anti-magic crap.

“Hey, Silver, I just want you to know I...” I started to crack one last line, sweating all over as I felt tears come to my eyes.  Yeah, I know.  Not the most dignified thing to do, cry right at the end but in all honesty, I was sad that I didn’t get more time in Equestria.


She hit me in the back of the head yet a third time, not in the mood for another joke.  I’m glad she did, because in all honesty, I wasn’t in the mood for one either.

It was then that Storm Wing did the COOLEST thing I’ve ever seen a pony do.  You remember the Sky Carriage?  The A.S.C.A.™?  He saved the day with amazing amounts of awesome and justice and glory.  I was pure art watching him work and if you blinked, you missed it all.  He swooped in on the Sky Carriage, turned it sideways as he came up from behind Nightmare Sol, and used it like a dragster to fishtail that alicorn right into the ravine behind us, sending her clear over our heads.  It was an 11 out of 10 on the awesome-random-silliness scale.  For a few seconds, we all just stood there, shocked at what had just happened.  Even Storm Wing seemed blown away by the epic maneuver.  I heard a monkey chatter in the background, adding to the whole sensation of ‘what the hell just happened’ that we were all stewing in.

“Captain, will you marry me?” Silverheart broke the silence, coughing out a gracious sob as I decided to stop dawdling and threw myself up onto that damn thing.

“Get in line, hooker!” I snapped, brohoofing that bastard in the shoulder, “Time to fly!  God, I’ve never been so happy to see you!  I could kiss you!”

“You do and I will throw you off this carriage,” he warned me in all seriousness as we took off.  I don’t know if the Nightmare Sol was knocked out or if she was just dazed, but I couldn’t care less.  Nopony here wanted to take the risk and nopony able to appreciate the situation could have blamed us.

I set Silverheart down, giggling at her with a big smile, “I’ve never been so happy to be alive!”

“Agreed,” she said with a laugh, her eyes wide as though she couldn’t believe it, “I hope this thing is faster than the Princess.”

“It is with me driving,” Storm Wing assured us, though his voice was somewhat cold and distracted.  After he had mentioned it, it certainly did feel like we were pulling some serious G’s, “Where are we going?”

“Um, actually,” my mind raced as I tried to come up with something, “Actually, Storm, you need to go to Ponyville.  I need the Carriage to get to Canterlot.”

“The Elements of Harmony,” he understood right away, nodding.  It then dawned on him what I was getting at and his eyes widened in response, “We could purge The Nightmare from Celestia!”

“Exactly,” I nodded back, “I need you to get over there and find Twilight Sparkle at the Tree Library south of Town Square.  Hopefully she’s already made it there.  If she hasn’t, look for Rarity at the Fashion Boutique.  It’s the big house with pink lace.”

“Um, Firewall,” Silverheart coughed.  I was confused for a moment, not understanding their hesitation before slapping a hoof over my face.

“You don’t act nearly blind enough for me to treat you like are, okay!?” I cried in self-defense, “Fine!  Start creating a storm or something, Rainbow Dash will fly out and kick you in the face!  That’s the element of loyalty, so you’ll get along with her just fine!”

“I’ll see what I can do,” he rolled his eyes and tossed control to me, though not literally.  It was more of an event where we started to plummet until I grabbed mental control of the carriage, “Why are you going to Canterlot?”

“Princess Luna,” Silverheart answered, interrupting me before I could say it.

“Yeah, Sol might see her as a threat, so on the offchance that she goes for her instead of the elements, I want to help get her to safety, as well as warn the other Sky Archons.  Silverheart also needs medical attention,” I pointed out, trying to seem nonchalant about the whole thing, though after thinking about it, I was starting to wish I had been the one to go help gather the Mane 6.  I was not cherishing the idea of being the one to give Luna the bad news, “Where should we meet up?”

“You tell me,” Storm Wing shrugged his wings because he knew deep down that I envied him for that (Maybe not, but he sure as hell did it enough that I had reason to believe so!), “It needs to be somewhere we’re both familiar with.  You’re the newcomer, not me.”

“Appleloosa,” I said with a nod after a moment of consideration, “Far enough away, yet we both know how to get there.”

“Fair enough,” he gave a nod before turning to jump off.

“Stay safe, Captain,” Silverheart’s voice betrayed her uncharacteristic worry.  Red flag, kiddos~!

“Storm Wing,” I called out, causing him to turn his head towards us somewhat to let us know he was listening, “This isn’t over.  We’re going to get her back and make The Nightmare pay for this.”

“Count on it,” he swore to me, jumping off and tearing up the sky in the direction of Ponyville,

I watched him as he soared away and started to nod off as the adrenaline began to taper down, earning myself a poke from the prone Silverheart.  I shook the exhaustion from my head and pulled out a cigarette.  I lit up and gave her a glance as I began to move towards Canterlot, puffing on the cigarette like it would be my last (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that it could have actually been the last one, I was just... excited!).

“Here, let me fly.  You rest,” I heard Silverheart pipe up, “You’re barely able to stand.”

“I think I’m okay,” I tried to reassure her, though my voice sounded weak, even to me.

“Your back legs are shaking,” she informed me, causing me to look down and back to confirm her statment.

“That’s just ‘cause I’m so overcome with giddyness?” I chuckled tiredly.

“Firewall,” her voice was actually full of concern and not irritation.

“Okay,” I sighed as I released control, flopping down as I puffed the last of my smoke.

She was much quicker at picking it up than I had been, likely due to being adept at pegasus magic.  I tossed my cigarette over and laid my head down.

“How long?” I murmured.

“Forty-eight minutes,” she said with a smile aimed my way, “Rest a bit.  You’ve earned it.”

“No, I haven’t,” I gave a sad laugh as I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

I don’t remember what my dreams were entirely, but it kept going back to how I wasn’t able to give enough.  I couldn’t catch Celestia, I couldn’t out run Nightmare Sol, I couldn’t push back the Ursa Major.  It was as though I was playing my own personal fail montage dedicated to me, by me.  Quite pathetic, I can assure you.

I kept going back to the words of The Nightmare.  Her talking about how it would all come crashing down and ‘I would be part of it all.’  I knew that I had not caused all of it, but I could not deny that things would have probably would have been going much more swimmingly without me.  Would the Nightmare have been able to pull off its trap (which, I’ll admit, I think it was just full of nonsense and trying to make me think it knew what it was doing.) if it did not have me as a motivational catalyst to spur Azure Flora into action?  Then I remembered that it very well might have brought me here to do just that.  Maybe I was just the ball that triggered the elaborate mousetrap and it was proclaiming my presence as its herald simply because it used me to start the entire process.  No doubt the worst part about dreaming, though, was where I was predicting how telling Luna about her sister would go.  How I had just fallen short of what I needed to be to prevent it all from happening.  In my nightmares, she cried and I wasn’t able to help this time because I had been the cause.

In my contemplative sleep, I didn’t wake up from Silverheart’s pokes and prods. Much to my displeasure, she gave up on pokes and prods and instead settled on something much worse!  A damned taser hoof.  I jerked and thrashed as I realized we had landed in Canterlot at the courtyard of the royal palace.

“Aaghghghghg!!” I cried before rolling away from her, “W-What is wrong with you!?”

“Behind you!” she cried, causing me to roll back over and spot a large dark pony rearing up to trample my sorry plot into the ground.  I gave a shocked shriek (I WAS SURPRISED, OKAY?!) before blasting it with a huff of fire.  It evaporated as though it were made of a gaseous, sand-like substance and dissipated almost instantly.

“Oh.  Thank Celestia.  I thought you’d never wake up in time,” she breathed in relief, giggling a tad, “Nice scream.  I think my little sister sounds more masculine.”

“I’ve got no problems leaving you here,” I warned her, blushing brightly as I got to my feet/hooves.

“She’s also very large, strong, and eats metal rivets for breakfast,” she assured me, nodding enthusiastically, “The pinnacle of masculinity.”

“You must have been a fine example for her to aspire to,” COUNTER SASSED!  Silverheart just didn’t know who she was messing with, obviously!

“Nice.  Now cut the smart-horsing and let’s get to the palace.  No doubt Starlight will stage it as her base of operations,” she said, holding her front hooves out imploringly, silently asking me to help her up and out of the A.S.C.A.™.

I stared at her for a second, taking that image in.  She looked absolutely adorable, to be honest.  I resisted the urge to pinch her cheeks or something before giving her a grimacing smile, lifting her up and helping her onto my back.  Her back legs looked pretty beat up but I had a feeling the way of handling such things wasn’t the usual ‘pony is lame, gotta put’r down!’ response.  I made a quick mental note to get her to a doctor pony before I did anything else.  Plus, I was looking for any excuse to delay speaking to Luna.  Just thinking about it was taking the wind out of my sails, and they didn’t have much to begin with!

I couldn’t guess the time due to the storming clouds above us, but it felt later in the afternoon and possibly nearing night time already.  Thunder crashed all around us as we made our way back into the palace and much to my disapproval, our welcoming committee involved a Sky Archon tackling me.  He had actually put himself in a precarious position, specifically behind me.  I took advantage of that when I had heard Silverheart cry out in pain from having been dropped roughly.  See, I had pent up a rather large amount of frustration by this point, and hearing a friend cry out because some pony was being stupid and/or paranoid had given me all the reason I needed to let it some of it out.  This release of frustration involved a fiery snarl and a back kick in said Archon’s face.  A really hard one, surprisingly enough.  He was out cold.

“Stop, stop!” Silverheart cried out as more of the less-than-lovable military ponies descended upon us, “Friendlies!”

Fortunately, they backed down.  Which was good, because I didn’t want to get my sorry plot beaten into the dirt beat up some stupid ponies!  Which is totally what would have happened!  Promise.

“Lieutenant Silverheart,” one of the male pegasi called out as he approached.  He was dark red with a spiky black mane and tail, sporting a set of narrow purple eyes, “You’re hurt.”

“No kidding, Hot Shot,” she huffed irritably as I helped her back up, “Thank Luna you’re so observant!  And getting thrown onto a stone floor doesn’t help!”

“Hah!”  another male pegasus laughed as he descended.  This one was dark violet with a matching set of golden hair and eyes.  His tornado cutie-mark was exposed with him having not worn any armor like the other Archons, “Poor Blue Rain got clocked the hay out!  That’ll teach him to leap before looking!”

“Shut up, Whirlwind,” Hot Shot ordered before nodding at us, “Bring Commander Starlight up to speed inside; should be in the Ball Room.  If there’s anything we need to know, she’ll see to it that we’re informed.”

“Alright, I’ll handle that.  Where can we get Silverheart some medical attention?” I asked softly, offering to help her onto my back again, though she didn’t seem to want to show such weakness to her comrades.  How cute~!

“Nurse Tendercare is with the other wounded Archons in the kitchen,” he nodded at the Southern Hallway that led to the Ballroom.  I nodded and began to simply help Silverheart hobble along before stopping, knowing this was silly and that she was only making it worse for herself.  As much as I wanted to stave off the meeting with Luna, my impatience proved that it would only take so much.

“This is going to take a while,” I murmured to her, smirking at her in a familiar, friendly way to let her know that it was alright to not be tough for once, “Just suck it up, alright?  Soon as you’re back up and moving, you can thrash the cutie mark (Hah!  Got to use it!) off anypony that makes fun of you.”

She blushed and looked down before nodding her consent, letting herself be hefted back up onto my back, “Sorry, I just... It’s embarrassing.  But you’re right.  I shouldn’t let my pride slow anypony down.”

I was actually very surprised at how quickly she had made that turn around in attitude and even a little more surprised to see that not a single pony gave Silverheart any grief for her situation.  They were a very tight knit group, obviously, so standard procedure probably wasn’t even a factor in their interactions as much as friendly and familial-esque ties.  What was more surprising than all of that was how Hot Shot was willing to possibly be left in the dark, as long as it got Starlight informed all the faster.  It was an admirable display of putting the whole above the individual, and that kind of selfless thinking is something I can get behind.

I nodded as we approached the kitchen, and sure enough, there were a few Sky Archons laying on counters and tables.  They looked perfectly fine except they all had black marks that resembled paint-like smears covering them.  One had an entire wing covered in the stuff, and it had warped his wing to look sharp and jagged, almost.  I noticed Cookie in the corner, feeding one of the patients to help make her more comfortable.  Watching that really made my heart ache quite a bit.  After having been there for less than a week, I could definitely relate to how much it bothered me to see unhappy ponies.  In fact, had I not been interrupted, I would have taken the time to become furious.  Such was not meant to be, though, as I was quickly distracted by the sudden on-comer that was both eager and busy.

“Oh dear, an actual patient I can work with!” a red unicorn with a white mane galloped up to us and levitated Silverheart off my back, “Oh dear, that wing will need to be set, oh dear, oh dear~!”

Oh dear, indeed.

“Nurse Tendercare, I presume,” I asked as I followed her and the floating, irritable Silverheart, glancing over to the pony with the cool flour-sack cutie-mark, “Hey Cookie.”

He gave me distracted nod, acknowledging me but focusing on the pony in front of him.  I did not know  if she was at all significant to him at the time, but I could tell that him seeing her in such a state was really taking the wind out of his sails.  I didn’t blame him in the least.

“Yes, yes,” she nodded as she laid Silverheart on a nearby counter and began to examine her legs, “Oh dear, it’s not looking great, oh dear no.  At least nothing is broken here, but... oh dear, I don’t see you walking for a while, my dear.  Oh dear, I hope that doesn’t upset you.”

“She’ll be okay at least, right?” I was insatiably curious to see how ponies performed medical procedures.  Do they operate?  Do they cast a spell?  Do they combine such techniques, creating magical icepacks and thermometers?  Perhaps just a magic pill?  No, not that kind of magical pill, you delinquent!

“Get outta here,” Silverheart groaned irritably waving me off, “Starlight is still waiting, genius.”

“Right!”  I gave a grimace as I remembered what I was here for, procrastinating nonetheless.

Tendercare nodded before moving to , “Let us begin!  Say ah!”

Silverheart gave a frustrated roll of her eyes before complying and getting a pill shoved in her mouth.  This pill was pretty cool, simply because it made grumpy ol’ Silverheart go right to sleep and look adorable again.  She was so pretty when she wasn’t scowling.  I would say I wish we had pills like those back on Earth, but we do.  They’re called Rohypnol or in a more technical setting, Flunitrazepam.  Derps to you if you didn’t think of those right away.

“Best of luck, doc!” I nodded to her as I turned to leave.

I continued down the hall and yawned loudly, blinking several times to rid myself of the watery haze I had just inflicted upon my eyes.  As I entered the Ball Room, I saw the pony that Storm Wing had left in charge.  Though she was intently focusing on a map on top of a table that had been dragged in, she still caught sight of me as I neared.

“Welcome, sir.  Commander Starlight, I’m the ranking officer here,” she gave a salute to me, to which I chuckled and shook my head.

“Not a soldier, Commander.  Just a friend,” I explained with a smile, “Hot Shot said I should give you a run down of what has happened, but uh... it seems I’m the one that needs catching up.”

“Of course, sir,” she must have not heard me when I said not a soldier, but whatever, “The situation is...”

“Bleak.  Dire.  Grim, yes, I know.  Here, let me tell you what I know first.  Trixie is working with an immortal Earth Pony by the name of Azure Flora as well as The Nightmare.  Negotiations went nowhere and while we ran Trixie and Azure Flora off, The Nightmare has possessed Princess Celestia.  It now goes by the moniker of Nightmare Sol,” I recapped, neglecting certain details that I felt did not matter.  The more I spoke, the more shocked she seemed to be, “Captain Storm Wing is headed towards Ponyville to gather the ponies that defeated Nightmare Moon, and hopefully we’ll be able to reverse the effects of the possession.  I’m here to gather Princess Luna and rendezvous with him at Appleloosa.  Now what’s wi-...”

Interrupting me so rudely were a trio of pegasi crashing through the northern window.  They quickly oriented onto us and dived in, shaking Starlight out of her dazed stupor.  They looked as though they were completely made of pitch and shadows with bright glowing golden eyes and wings made of razors instead of feathers.  What was truly frightening was that their cutie marks were all like Celestia’s, only blood red in color.  

I began to inhale to breathe at them, but Starlight blew them all away with a flap of her small pony wings, following up with a series of lightning bolts that were pulled in from the window the intruders had crashed through.  After each one convulsed for a moment, they puffed into a dusty black cloud that faded unnaturally fast.  I blinked, now quite well aware just why Storm Wing had chosen Starlight as his Commander.

“Nicely done,” I nodded with a smirk.

“Been an Artillery Archon for a few hundred years.  You pick up a few tricks,” she smirked back, “These Shadow Ponies don’t seem to understand though, that they simply can not have this palace.”

“Are they the ones causing those black marks on the ponies in the kitchen?” I nodded, smirking at her arrogant nature.

“Yes,” she nodded very seriously, “The black marks fade with time. They only last about ten or fifteen minutes, but they’re incredibly painful while they’re there.  Also, if you get covered in the stuff, you... turn into a bigger, stronger version of the same thing.”

“That’s... creepy,” I grimaced, my mind going straight to zombies (Z-Z-Z-Zoooombie ponies?!), “Is it permanent?”

“Far as I know it doesn’t just fade with time, but it can be reversed,” she answered with a nod, “Cookie knocked one out with a frying pan earlier.  It was his assistant that got... changed.  Anyway, when she came to, she was just thrashing and resisting at first.  She was one of the first to get caught by the Shadow Ponies and ever since then, he’s been lovingly fussing over her like a mother hen.  Last I checked, the black stuff has been fading off of her and she’s been slowly changing back.  When she started speaking again, we went ahead and untied her.”

“Huh,” I tilted my head, “By the power of love?”

“Hay if I know,” she gave a wing shrug to show she was equally confused.

“How long ago did they appear?” I asked, narrowing my eyes as an idea formed within the back of my mind.

“A little over an hour ago,” she replied, biting her lip as she started to realize the very same thing, “That... was when... The princess...”

“I think these are from Nightmare Sol,” I gave a slight sigh, nodding in agreement with her, “Just another reason to get out of here.  You and the other Archons should come with us to Appleloosa.”

“Maybe eventually,” she countered shaking her head immediately, “We’re under orders to guard this palace and that should double as a distraction to the pri... Nightmare.  Besides, most of Canterlot’s residents are in the library, hiding away from the Shadow Ponies.  We have to protect them, especially with the Equestrian Guard at our borders.  After we’re certain that the city is empty, I suppose evacuation will be our next order of business.”

“Oh, sh... I didn’t even think of the citizenry!” I coughed out an embarrassed laugh, “Okay, yeah, no, that makes sense.  I guess... All I need to do is get the princess and rendezvous with Storm Wing, then.  Silverheart will be remaining here until she has recovered.”

“I’ll spare you a few Arch-...” she started to offer before I interrupted her.

“I’m not trying to say they wouldn’t be an amazing asset to have, but it looks as though you’re having enough troubles on your own,” I pointed out, shaking my head to emphasize my declination, “The only thing that could likely stop us is Nightmare Sol and I don’t think a few Sky Archons are going to be of any help there.  You would make better use of them than we would.”

She blinked before nodding with a smile, “Very well, sir.  I’ll trust your judgment.”

“Don’t call me sir, please?” I asked, smirking sheepishly.

“Don’t wear an Officer’s suit of armor,” she shrugged her wings (Ahhh... Nostalgic jealousy.) and winked.

“Oh right,” I looked down at the armor, sighing wistfully, “As cool as it is, could you... help me get it off?  I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of running and this only makes it hard.  Not to mention I’m running on just an hour of sleep.”

“And while she’s doing that, you can tell me everything that has happened,” I heard a distant voice call out softly.  I turned to see Luna descending from the highest balcony, her wings fluttering a tad as she landed.  

I was happy to see her and all, but I certainly wasn’t smiling in the slightest.  Her expression was one of worry and fear, as though she could tell something terrible was amiss and that all she was waiting for was a confirmation from me, “Start from when I went to sleep this morning, Firewall.”

At first, I was just going to summarize everything for her, but she stopped me and had me go into detail.  Starlight was indeed gracious enough to help me out of the armor as I recalled everything that had happened.  I spoke of Trixie and her short-lived attack, but it wasn’t until I told Luna about Azure Flora and the Inmanipulon that she began to show worry.  When I told her of how she demanded I be sent home or dealt with in some other fashion, Luna scoffed, seemingly insulted by such a demand.  Finally, I got to the Ursa Major, how The Nightmare was magically controlling it, and eventually getting to how we had lost the battle when Princess Celestia became Nightmare Sol.

“Which is why Storm Wing is in Ponyville, and I’m here to collect you.  I was going to bring the Sky Archons, but they have to protect Canterlot and its citizens, especially with Nightmare Sol creating all these Shadow Ponies,” I finished, my voice flat and lacking inflection.  That numb sensation had set back in, and I could hear a soft ringing in my ears as I spoke, muffling all other sound.  I was avoiding looking at her, feeling considerably at fault for being unable to give more in the fight.  I was certain that Celestia wouldn’t have been so weakened if I had just been able to push the monster back a bit further.  I would never know for sure, of course, which gave me no real comfort.  I simply had a feeling that I had fallen short of what was needed, and the consequences were dire.  I was glad I had Starlight to focus on as she helped me out of my armor, but her task was not indefinite and eventually, I had no reasonable excuse to not look at the pony I was speaking to.  So naturally, while the sensible thing to do would have been to look at her, I did not.  I simply stared at the floor instead.

“Firewall?” She knew something was up.  Hell, I wasn’t being very subtle by that point.

“Yep?” I gave a small snicker, watching one of my hooves scrape at the floor.  I think I might have some crossed wires upstairs, because all I was doing was finding the dark and terrible humor of the situation.  Funny thing about dark and terrible humor?  It’s not funny when it’s real.  My laughter sounded hollow, I know, and Luna wasn’t buying it.  That didn’t stop me from laughing, though.

“Firewall.” she took a step closer, causing me to involuntarily take a step back. “Why won’t you look at me?”

“Well, you know.  It’s just funny, is all,” my voice cracked right there at the end, “You know, it’s... It’s Equestria.  A great place to be, right?  I mean, every guy like me just has that dream, even just once in passing.  ‘What would it be like to actually go to Equestria?  I bet it would be fun!  No responsibility, no nagging family, no bills, no killing.  Just good times, fun jokes, silly shenanigans and all around utopia, right?’  Nothing serious ever goes on here.”

“Firewall.” She took another step forward, causing me to once again take another back from her.  

“At least... At least, not when I’m here.” I know it was stupid, alright?  I know deep down that I wasn’t directly responsible for everything going on.  I know that The Nightmare was purposefully causing all of these things to happen.  I know that I should not be letting Nightmare Sol get to me.  I know it and all that knowledge meant nothing.  I still played my part.

Rather than take another step, Luna just jumped forward and caught me by my neck, wrapping her wings and hooves around me as I fell to my knees, “Stop it.  Just... take the good with the bad, remember?  And don’t let the bad get to you.”

I don’t know if this happens to everyone or not, but have you ever just been holding it all in and been doing a perfectly good job of it, then someone who gives a damn happens to come along and ruin it all by doing something small?  Like setting a hand on your shoulder?  Or patting you on the back?  Or just hugging you and telling you it was going to be okay?  Because, despite your ability to hold it all in, that dam of emotion shatters because you just subconsciously realized that the someone that broke it is going to help pick up the pieces while you let it all out?  It’s happened to me a few times, to be sure, and being able to see it coming only makes it twice as hard to experience.

Twenty-three, just a few days from twenty-four years old, and I was doing nothing but burying my face into Luna’s shoulder as tears poured out.  I was silent except for the occasional sniffle.  I had only cried like this once before in my life and that was when my mother had to tell me that I can’t help people that don’t want to be helped.  For what seemed like the next half hour, I just quietly cried, soaking Luna’s fur coat and shivering with every shaky breath.  Not my proudest moment, I’ll admit.  I will say though, that having somepony that could understand what I was going through allowed me to actually get through this without curling up and wishing myself away.  Luna’s entire perception of life had been shaken apart by seeing my world, having been unaware of the consequences.  The only differences for me was that it was taking me longer and hitting me harder.

After I began to wind down, Luna decided to make an attempt to cheer me up, “I think that’s one you can mark off the brony checklist.  ‘Cry on a pony.’”

I snorted, a tad unprepared for the levity before nodding a bit and standing back up as we broke apart.  After a few seconds of composing myself, I decided to give her a counter-joke, “Achievement Unlocked:  Thiiis~ is Cryyyyiiiinnng~~!”

Luna gave a snicker before gasping, “Oh!  We’re going to meet the rest of them, aren’t we?”

I blinked before smiling tiredly and nodding.  I looked around, wondering if Starlight had watched the entire breakdown and was somewhat relieved to discover she had taken her leave, though she was likely nearby in case we came under attack.  It probably doesn’t surprise you that I find the Sky Archons to be extremely dutiful and dependable ponies.

“Yeah, but... You’re not upset about Celestia?” I murmured, sniffing one last time as I wiped at my eyes.

“Of course I am.” She glared at me as though I had asked her the stupidest question ever (Okay, so it might have been quite up there.). “But the last thing I need to do is fall apart.  Especially since the one I keep around to fall apart on is falling apart on me.  And being possessed by The Nightmare doesn’t mean she’s lost.  It just means we have to gather the Elements of Harmony and thrash The Nightmare.”

“It... just feels really horrible.” I mumbled pathetically.  

Luna gave a snort before hugging me one last time, “Good with the bad, remember?”

“Right!” I nodded and swallowed that sadness down like a dry peanut butter sandwich before rearing up and yelling out as I slammed my hooves down, “Hah!  Time for a cigarette!”

She rolled her eyes, “If it will help, I suppose.  How soon are we leaving?”

I turned to look back at her dumbly as I considered the question, a Mareboro having already made its way to my mouth, “Ummm.  As soon as you’re ready.  Or after this cigarette.  Whichever comes last.”

“Well, unlike humans, we don’t have to pack for every little thing,” she said with a laugh and a nod, following me out to my favorite garden bench.

“Oh, so you’re a reference guide to human culture now,” I teasingly mocked before lighting up, “Did you google that or something?”

“I can’t google anything,” she said with a raspberry.

“Oh?” I took a long, relaxing drag before tilting my head, “How’s it work then?”

“Basically, it’s like I have access to an archive of the entire Internet from that date,” she gave a wing shrug, “What, did you think I received updates?”

“Maybe!” I laughed for a bit, “You could have jumped onto some pony blogs or something!  Maybe set up your own authentic AskPrincessLuna blog!”

“Oh, and start doing crossover asks with other AskPony blogs?” she suggested, smiling brightly at me.

“Maybe AskBerryPnuch, even!” I had almost forgotten about all the terrible things that were happening, just having a fun time talking about such trivial matters.  I started laughing in earnest, finally letting the dark thoughts that had been clouding my mind flow out of me.

“Want to know the worst part?  I can’t see the new stuff he puts out!” she began to giggle with me, “Seriously, I still can’t believe we’re just a television show to humans.”

“Hah.  ‘Just a television show?’  I can think of several bronies who would take offense to that,” I replied, sitting on the bench with a yawn and being struck with a pressing question, “Serious time, Luna.  I need to ask you something.”

“Hmmm?” she narrowed her eyes a bit inquisitively, but nodded nonetheless.

“Which is your favorite pony?” I asked with a huge smile, “Most people pick one of the Mane 6.”

She blinked before laughing out loud, somewhat caught off guard, “My favorite pony?  Heh.  Well, it’s not one of the Mane 6, though if I had to choose one of them, I’d definitely go with a tie between Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash.”

“That’s not choosing one of them at all,” I pointed out with a smirk, “So which one is your favorite, then?”

“I thought that would be an easy guess,” she looked off into the sky with a smirk.  I thought she was trying to get me to look up there with her, but when I began to turn, she just laughed at me.

“You’re losing me, Princess,” I stated with an overly serious nod.

“Maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about it,” she started to look guilty of all things, biting her lip and looking down.

“Why?  What’s wrong?” I tilted my head, now looking a bit concerned, “Is this about... Celestia?”

“Well, it... I mean, I don’t want to seem carefree.  I’m just doing as you said,” she sighed, looking up at me, “Not letting it get to me.”

“And doing a better job than I am, too,” I took a drag and nodded, “It’s not as though we can do anything right this instant.  As horrible as it is...”

I looked up at the thundering skies and sighed softly, giving the dark clouds a grimace.

“As horrible as it is, we can’t let it bring us down.  We all have each other to help get us through this,” I then scowled at the clouds, my expression reflecting my resolve, “And to be fair, I’d rather talk about ponies any day of the week.  So before we have another  breakdown and somepony gets a bucket full of tears on their shoulder, let us hear about your favorite one.”

“You’re so clueless,” she said with a nod before blushing a tad.  THAT’S when I suddenly got what she was getting at.  Yeah, I’m dense.  Deal with it.

“Oh.  OH!” I blushed right back, coughing awkwardly as she stepped forward somewhat.  It’s not often that both Stoic and Lafter start beating down my mental door, blaring off warnings like a tornado siren mixed with a submarine alarm, but that’s pretty much what was going on.  Remember when I said I become one of the sheep when I panic?  Yeah.  That’s why I did and said absolutely nothing as she stepped even closer.

“Since you must know.  My faaaavorite pony...” she started to say, smiling as she neared, “Isn’t even a p-...”

AND THEN TWILIGHT APPEARED TO SAVE ME FROM THE MOST CONFLICTING MOMENT OF MY LIFE.  No, really.  She teleported right beside the bench with a little echoing puff.

“Twilight!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, looking absolutely thrilled to see her (beacuse I was), “You’re okay!”

“Yes!” she nodded enthusiastically, shaking off what seemed to be her disoriented spacial leap lag (not to be confused with jet lag!), “Come on, we have to leave right now, you two!”

“Why the rush?” I said, hopping up and not looking at Luna, “Is something wrong?”

Starlight suddenly struck down beside us with a thunderclap.  I was blinded, deafened, and pretty damn irritated.  That was getting old, real fast.

“WE HAVE COMPANY, EVERYPONY!” she shouted as the entrance to the palace bursts open.

“Oh no!”  Twilight cried out as a few dozen Shadow Ponies poured forth, barrelling straight for us.

That’s when Mister Freeze the Pony stepped out from behind them, his glowing blue eyes aimed directly at us from behind his helmet.  My blood ran cold (I sense a recurring joke) as I turned to look at the others, “I’m going to run.  The rest of you can make up your own damn minds about this.”

With that, I took off for the courtyard on the far side of the castle.  Sure, we would have to run all the way around, but I figured that was better than trying to fight off thirty or forty Shadow Ponies plus Frosty the Snow Pony.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was a good idea, because the others hot on my tail.  Except for Twilight.  Do you know why?  Because she had suddenly remembered she could teleport.  So rather than spend her time running about, she simply began to blink forward several yards and cover our retreat with spells.  One day, if it were at all possible, I was going to get her to teach me how to do that.

“Capture the Human!  Capture the Princess!  Convert the Unicorn and the Archon!” I heard his voice echo out above the commotion.  I looked back at Luna as she flew by my side and grimaced.  I had no clue why they wanted us, but I did not want to find out, either.

Starlight put a hoof to her mouth as she kept pace and whistled loudly, the shrill sound echoing over the chaos.  I glanced back to see Freezey the Pony closing in on us, just to be grounded mere seconds out of reach by a red and black pony.  He had literally dive bombed that sucker right into the ground going at speeds that I had only seen pulled off by Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.  Suffice it to say that Chilly the Frosty Grey Giant, despite Hot Shot only being half his size, seemed out cold (Ahahaha~!  I kill myself!).  I could relate, having been soundly trounced by Storm Wing.  Sky Archons just have this tendency to not give a damn just how big you are as they’re beating the hell out of you.

“Gotcha, you giant freak!” Hot shot shouted before stomping on the back of his head and leaping off into the air before the surrounding Shadow Ponies could take hold of him.

“Nice one,” Starlight called out, smiling at her team partner.  I know, I never mentioned that, but that didn’t come up until much later.

I loved the Sky Archons for being so cool.  Had I not turned to look ahead and spot a second crowd of Shadow Ponies headed my way, I would have cheered as enthusiastically as a trailer park on day one of NASCAR.  Predictably, though, cheering was the last thing on my mind.

“We’re very popular today,” Luna said with a groan as we all came to a halt, “I really wish you could fly.”

“Me too!” I agreed before breathing a wall of flame between us and our interceptors, “Now what?”

I looked back to watch Starlight begin to crackle with energy as she covered our backs, unleashing a barrage of lightning from her wings and forcing the pursuers away, lest they be destroyed in her furious display of power.  After several seconds of this, both us and our attackers were at a stand off.  The Shadow Ponies couldn’t approach without being destroyed, and we had nowhere to run without... … leaving me.  Damn, I am like the Buzz Killington of action scenes, am I not!?

“The question still stands!” I called out, turning to fry a shadow Shadow Pony that was able to survive a leap over the fire.

That was when Flora’s frosty bodyguard got back up, shaking his head a bit before growling and approaching us, slowly at first.  The Shadow Ponies scrambled to make way for him as he picked up speed, and those unfortunate enough to not react quickly were crushed and dissipated by his determined charge.

“There is no way!”  Hot Shot cried out as he landed beside Starlight, “I practically dented my armor when I hit him!”

“You’re supposed to dent him!” Starlight gave a snort before slapping his flank with her tail, “Run him over, Sword Archon!”

Hot Shot seemed a bit hesitant at first, but nodded after considering it for less than a second, “Affirmative.”

And suddenly the game of pony chicken was on with two pegasi running at one another in complete disregard for their own safety!  Starlight took to the air just behind Hot Shot and quickly threw a powerful gust of wind that blew all the Shadow Ponies out of the way before diving at the two pegasi still aimed at one another.  She tucked into a spiral and within seconds, was trailing a storm-like tornado she passed onto Hot Shot just before the collision.

Today was a day for loud noises and bright flashes in great abundance.  I’m desensitized to them these days, to be perfectly honest.  You can’t go anywhere with a Sky Archon (much less two) without a pair of sunglasses and a set of earplugs if you expected to use your ears and eyes at all.  I bet you they sell those in package deals for unfortunate ponies that have to spend extended amounts of time with them.  If not, then I have a grand business idea that everypony needs to invest in right meow (Am I all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree?!).  Anyway, I’m way off track; the point is that the collision was loud, bright, and epic.  All ponies had been knocked back by the force of the collision.  I was fortunate enough to catch Starlight.  And when I say catch, I mean she crashed into me as though she had been shot out of a canon.

“Had to be me.  You couldn’t have fallen on Luna, could you?” I groaned as I pushed her up off me and got to my hooves before staring at the result of the collision, which was most definitely not epic at all.  Both Hot Shot and Ice Pony had been knocked back a bit.  The difference was that the bigger of the two got back up and the smaller pegasus was already being swarmed by Shadow Ponies.

“No!” Starlight tried to go after him, but I caught her by the tail.  I was going to tell her that it was a lost cause, but she started the conversation by kicking me in the face after realizing what was stopping her, “Let go of me!”

“We have to leave!” Twilight shouted as she blasted away an oncoming group of Shadow Ponies.

Now, I don’t seem to learn my lesson, because I didn’t let go, and she kicked me in the face again.  I still didn’t let go, and had I been less dizzy with hoofprints, I’d have considered making the Shadow Ponies the least of her worries.  As it were, though, I was so close to being knocked out that I could hear children laughing and Santa Clause proclaiming a merry Christmas to all.

“Commander Starlight!  Stop!” Luna shouted as Twilight shielded us all in a lavender transparent shell, allowing me to let go finally.


“Hot Shot!” she screamed as the Shadow Ponies began to back away from him.  When they parted, there was a Hot Shot shaped Shadow Pegasus in his place.  A large one that still wore the armor of Hot Shot.  Everypony watched as the Shadow Pegasus stood upright before staring down at its hooves.  It then threw its had back in an emphatic, yet inaudible cry, calling black lighting to strike down all around.  The icy pony approached, looking down at it for several seconds before speaking.

“Shadow Archon,” he said with an approving nod.

“Can we all stop watching!” Twilight begged loudly, shaking us all from the frightening scene.

“Well, what do we do!?” I cried looking around as the Shadow Ponies began to close in, “I keep saying, ‘Now what!’ but I never get an answer!”

Now, we get creative!” Twilight said with a nod, lowering her horn and creating a magical shimmering violet bridge over the Shadow Ponies.  Luckily, these seemed of the Earth Pony variety, so our only concern rested with Ice Hoof and his newly minted Shadow Archon, “MOVE, FIREWALL!”

Luna and Starlight took flight as I jumped onto the ramping bridge and ran for dear life.

I was charging over it as fast as I could, wishing I had been in better shape for all this running.  Fortunately, not wearing all the armor did help tremendously and it was also a forward moving bridge, like one of those flat escalators that roll you forward.  The best part was that Twilight allowed perhaps twenty or so of those ponies to jump onto the bridge before she dropped what was behind her, causing them all to crash to the ground.  Even through all the fear and excitement coursing through me, that was very amusing to watch.

I continued to look over my shoulder and spotted both the Shadow Archon and Freezy McFrostPony take flight.  They didn’t get far, however, thanks to Starlight slowly flying backwards and flapping a torrent of wind their way.  Maybe they could have flown through it if they were more prepared, but nopony expects (the spanish inquisipony!) a hurricane gust out of a small pegasus.

“Starlight!”  Luna cried out, as she whizzed past me and Twilight, “Come on!”

Starlight ignored her as she continued to cover us our retreat.  I stopped to turn and yell, but Twilight was quick to jab my plot with her horn.

“Don’t you dare stop!  Move it!” she ordered, refusing to look at what was distracting me.  I guess this is why they always say to not look back.  It’s definitely distracting.

The Shadow Ponies jumped at us in futility.  They weren’t even close to closing half the distance, but you had to hand it to the persistent little bastards.  They knew what they wanted.  They were so focused on getting at me that they didn’t even spot Twilight, who had teleported ahead of everypony and began focusing, causing her horn to glow brightly.  This, in turn, caused the bridge to fade away, causing me to wonder just what the hell she was thinking as I plummeted.

If I had been paying attention and looking forward instead of down, behind me and everywhere else except forward, I would have noticed my salvation long before it got to me.  As it were though, I was entirely caught off guard by Luna the SuperPony.  I’m not sure why she doesn’t wear a red cape to show how heroic she is, but that was all she was lacking when she whipped around the corner of the castle with the A.S.C.A.™ and caught me mid fall.

“Starlight!” Twilight cried out, her eyes shut as her horn began to flash like a beacon, “M... MOVE!”

Starlight looked back, her eyes widening as she suddenly bolted out of the way.  As soon as she was clear, Twilight unleashed a wave of multi-hued light that washed over the Shadow Ponies, dissipating them as it moved.  As luck would have it, both Frosty and the Shadow Archon formerly known as Hot Shot flew out of its path.  I did note that they did not chase us at least, having given up for the moment.  I flopped down and rubbed my eyes, wondering if this was when I would finally get a chance to rest.

“I’ll never look at ponies the same again,” I said with a tired sigh as Starlight landed on the carriage with us, “What about the other Sky Archons?”

“They’re evacuating the citizens,” Starlight said with a nod, turning to watch the opposition fly away, “They’ll be alright.  I... … Hot Shot.”

“We’ll get him back, Starlight,” Luna said, setting a hoof on Starlight’s shoulder.

Twilight teleported onto the Carriage, panting heavily, “That was very... very scary.  I thought running from a hydra was scary.”

“Would that it were just a hydra,” Starlight laid down and shut her eyes.

Twilight grimaced a tad, looking to us for support.  Mostly to Luna, though.  I was busy fading in and out of some much needed rest.

“Wake me when... it’s my turn to drive,” I told everypony with a loud yawn, only to be spooked by a thunderous crash of the dark clouds above us, “D-Damnit!”

“Here,” Luna took us up through the clouds as Starlight flapped her wings, pushing a hole in them.  A few moments later and we were beyond the tumultuous racket.  The night sky was beautiful from up here.  I’d seen it a few times while flying coach, but in the Sky Carriage, it just seemed so much more... real.

“Not a bad job with the night sky, Luna,” I said with a tired, yet mystified smile, “Mmmm... Goodnight.”

I heard Luna snort a bit before feeling a hoof stroke my mane a tad.  I’m sure I purred or something, because I heard them all laugh at me.  With a yawn, I finally began to submit to sweet, sweet slumber before taking one last glance at the lovely scenery surrounding me.  I spotted a rainbow up there, prancing through the sky and snickered tiredly as I shut my eyes.

Then I realized what I had just seen, “What!?”

I jumped up and dropped my jaw as I stared in complete shock.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Twilight commented, following my stare, “How long has that been there?”

“That’s a recent addition,” Luna informed us all proudly, “Just last night, actually.”

“Luna, is that what I think it is?” I asked, too blown away to think about sleeping for the moment.

“I dunno, Firewall,” she replied, stifling the urge to snicker, “What do you think it is?”

“It looks like a pastry with a cat head leaving a rainbow trail,” Starlight observed, arching an eyebrow, “That was intentional?”

“Jesus H. Christ, you put Nyancat up there?!” I cried before bursting out into a fit of laughter, “What is wrong with you?!”

“You don’t like it?” she seemed genuinely upset by my reaction.

Fortunately, she realized my mirth was not of mockery, but was of appreciation which caused her to smile happily.  For the next several seconds, I was laughing until it hurt all over.  I liked this kind of hurt, though, even if I was the only one experiencing it.  Luckily, I have an infectious laugh that soon had both Luna and Twilight giggling, and even had Starlight chuckling softly before too long, shaking her head at me.  After I wound down, I dropped back to the floor of the carriage and sighed.

“Thanks, Luna,” I gave one last yawn, “I needed that.”

“Anytime,” she answered softly, giving one last snicker as I laid down my head..

“Goodnight, everypony,” I mumbled as I finally got some much needed rest.

Next time on “Through The Eyes Of Another Pony!

“You know, I wouldn’t think alcoholic beverages existed in Ponyville.  Not that I’m complaining.”

“They don’t.  I just looked up the chemical composition of Hard Apple Cider and figured we could all use something to take the edge off.”

“So they do exist.  And you are now more OP than Twilight.”

“They do now, I suppose.  And thanks, I guess?”

“This apple juice tastes funny.  Wait... I can’t sense anything anymore!  I’m blind!”

“Holy crap, Storm, how many have you had!?  And how many did you make?!”

“Well, there are a lot of ponies here and I didn’t want anypony to feel left out.”

“What part of ‘let us get the entire town smashed’ sounded like a good idea to you!?”

“The part where Captain Storm Wing finally lets his hair down?”

“Granted, that does sound like a good idea, but still... You play a dangerous game, Luna.  A very, very dangerous game.”

“You like it.”

“Maybe a little.”

Final Author’s Notes:  I admit, I smoked a few cigarettes to push this bad boy out.  It’s not as long as the last chapter, but I’m liking it.  Especially the sad scene.  Also, let me know what you guys think in the comments section!  Is it getting too serious?  Is it not serious enough?  How much Luna would a WoodLuna Luna if a WoodLuna would Luna Luna?  Also, did the sad scene get to any pony?  I wanted to make it brutal without making anypony actually cry.  But if you did, tell meh! :O

And no!  AskBerrypnuch.tumblr.com was not spelled incorrectly! >:(  Go look it up yourself!

Chapter 7                                                                        Chapter 9


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Nine:  Magneto

THE AUTHOR’S PAGE IS A GO!

So yeah, it’s been a hellish week trying to get this out.  I’ve been stressed out of my mind for unrelated reasons and I can’t bring myself to write while stressed because it runs down the page and isn’t as fun.  So instead I’ve been writing when feeling good.  

Why?  Why, you ask?

Because this week we get the largest chapter to date with the most amount of fan art in one setting!  I know, there’s more fan art out there than just this, but this is what I got last week.  There are some really talented artists out there that want nothing but something to create and the fact that I can supply that something makes me feel all squishy and warm inside.

Now, because this has been a huge question, I’m dedicating it’s own paragraph to just it, especially since it keeps popping up.

Is this going to end anytime soon?

Yes.  This does have an ending planned out, and while we are nearing the end of the first part, we are not nearing the end of the entire written work itself.  :3  Basically, I plan to have two parts of about fifteen chapters a piece and an interlude full of short stories and some exposition.  The short stories will focus on other major events in the story when Firewall wasn’t there and such.  Maybe even on what happened a thousand years ago.  I hope to keep it interesting and pleasing regardless of whatever I choose.

Also, we’re almost to 4.9, guys! :D  Hope to see a six-star to really help this take off, and such!  

Other than that, no news really... Other than I might have picked smoking back up.  :(  I know, it’s a terrible habit and while I shouldn’t do it, I can promise you, it’s helped the fic move along since I get to burn my stress away like a cigarette.  It’s probably just a placebo effect and I just need to suck it up, but at the same time, I’d like to take as much of the edge back off as I like.

Anyway, I’m being presumptuous and assuming you want to hear about my problems! >:)  Why don’t I just spam you with five fan art pieces and let you send the comments and posts to the proper place in Equestria Daily! :D  

Adieu, mes chers lecteurs! <3

Avisbyf411 did this little number here.  :D  He wanted an awesome background for an awesome pony and decided that if you wanted something done, you’d have to do it yourself! >:3  I don’t think he knows I found it, but props to him either way!

Wrek did this one of our mysterious Ice Knight that guards Azure Floran.  :3  The most uncuddly pony ever!  ALL HAIL TEH ICE PONEH!  >:3

So Ice Storm did this one as a scene for last chapter.  And he whined and he whined and he whined that he could not replicate Twilight’s color with color pencils.  It was Rarity amounts of whining.  Eventually, I just kinda went My Face When at him.  Also, highlight the picture for better color as it is a night scene.  :3

Icekatze did this little wonder and I’ve gotta say, he did an excellent job with it.  :3  My favorite part is that this ruins MyCutieMarkIsAGun’s gripe that evil = black is such a stereotype.  NYAH! :D

And Sircinnamon did this vector of Firewall, probably getting as close to what he would look like in the show as one could possibly get. :D  IT PREASES MEH!

I opened my eyes, somewhat surprised that I had experienced an entirely dreamless night for once.  Maybe I was getting used to all this insanity?  God, I hope not, I thought to myself, I’d hate to see what the prolonged effects of that would be.  What wasn’t surprising was that we were still travelling on the Sky Carriage, hauling flank towards Appleloosa.  I yawned as I stretched all over, reaching a hoof up to rub away the eye crud that had accumulated in my time of sweet and blessed rest (Some like to call it ‘sleep’.  That makes no sense, just so you know.).  I got a pat on the head from behind.

“Good morning sleepyhead.” I heard Luna’s voice from behind me.  I looked around to see that it was still in the dead of night. “Sleep well?”

“I think I slipped into a coma, actually.  It was the best coma ever.  I need more comas like that in my life,” I replied, nodding lazily as I rolled to my hooves but didn’t stand up just yet, “How long was I out?”

“Oh, about half a day.” Twilight was just to the side of me on the carriage, lounging as I was. “I went to sleep and woke up before you.”

“Wow.  Why is it still night?” I blinked, looking back at Luna in confusion.

“Because I haven’t put the moon down, of course.” she gave a smirk before nodding at the distance, pointing out the moon still above the horizon.

“So... What?  Does that just keep the sun from rising?” I tilted my head, not quite understanding.

“Of course it does, Firewall,” Twilight said with a laugh, “The sun and moon are like matching ends of a magnet.  They push each other away.”

I looked at them as though they were crazy (Which still doesn’t appease me in any fashion, I might add.).  There was no reason that should even remotely work that way.

“What?  That’s nonsense!” I chuckled as I pulled out a cigarette, “Luna, you know how such things work now, right?”

“I know how they work where you come from...  But there is no denying that the sun and moon push each other away.  In fact, if they weren’t bound to Equestria, there would be nothing stopping them from flying away,” she said with a nod, smirking at me, “Why do you think Celestia had to send Nightmare Moon away when she wouldn’t lower it?  Because, she had to raise the sun, and she couldn’t do that with her interfering.”

“Huh.” I blinked, entirely caught off guard. “That’s... Y’know, I think I need to stop assuming that things work here the way they do on Earth.”

“What, did you think she sent me there for a thousand years just because I was misbehaving?” Luna gave a laugh, “Despite all the Trollestia content out there, nothing could be further from the truth.  My dear sister did what she had to do.”

“Yeah.  Celestia’s pretty cool,” I gave a nod before looking at Twilight before giving her a hoof-poke, “RIGHT, TWI?!”

“Yes, yes.  The princess is certainly amazing,” Twilight chuckled as she shook her head, “You’re pretty wired, I noticed.  That nap really did help, I take it?”

“Well, I was always a morning person.  Seriously though, I feel like a million bits!” I called out eagerly before hopping up and lighting my cigarette, moving to the side of the carriage to prevent smoking on anypony, “So, how far are we out?”

Twilight summoned an astrolabe, sextant, and a few star charts.  After a bit of compass work and using the stars as a locational reference, she nodded and unsummoned all of it, “About six hours.”

“Road trips.  Cool, I can handle it,” I nodded before doing a quick count and looking about frantically, “Hey!  Where’s Starlight?!”

“She’s left to meet up with the train from Ponyville,” Twilight gave a nod, “Trixie led the Shadow Ponies in an attack on Ponyville as we began evacuating everypony.  Luckily, Storm Wing made short work of the Shadow Ponies and Trixie was forced to run away.  She let slip that soon Canterlot would also be under attack, and that Luna would be their prisoner within the hour.  She didn’t know that I could teleport, I guess.  A good thing, too.  I got there just in time.”

“I was totally baffled how you just showed up out of nowhere,” I laughed with a nod, “Good thing you did, too.  If you had shown up any later, we might not have been so lucky.”

“Like Hot Shot,” Luna pointed out with a bit of a timid grimace.

We all stood in silence for a moment.  None of us knew Hot Shot especially well, but that didn’t mean we didn’t care.  He had saved our plots, sacrificing himself in the process, and I had every intention of doing whatever it took to help get him back to flying on the good side.  I can promise you, Twilight and Luna felt likewise.

“Still,” I concurred but was staying on the silver lining nonetheless, “Your timing was appreciated, Twilight.”

“Even if it was a little terrible,” I heard Luna mutter under her breath with a sigh.  Twilight did not seem to have heard, and I was pretending to have missed it as well.  Blargh.  I was still unsure how to approach this, much less make a decision.

“Actually, I arrived there several minutes before.  I was simply helping the Sky Archons organize an efficient evacuation plan before finding you two,” she modestly looked away and shrugged happily, “Luckily, they were after you two, so the evacuation went off without a hitch.  I just checked up on them a little while ago.  The evacuees are all on a different train to Appleloosa as well.”

“Does Appleloosa know we’re about to triple its population?” I asked with a nervous chuckle, “Is there going to be plenty of space for everypony?”

“Please.  There will be enough of a workforce to help make plenty of room,” Luna said with a roll of her pretty blue eyes, “I know this will blow your silly human mind, but we create buildings in hours and towns in days.  I can’t believe it takes you all several years for a town to properly begin flourishing.”

“Woah,” I blinked again, “And here I thought Japan was awesome for having built a single skyscraper in six days.  Ponies are amazing.”

“Yes, but you already knew that,” Twilight gave me a knowing wink.

I gave her an odd look before looking to Luna in confusion.  She blushed a bit before smiling sheepishly, “We’ve been talking.  I might have mentioned a few things.  Such as irrigation.”

“Okay,” I gave a fearful nod, “But that’s not all, is it.”  (Note: That wasn’t a question.  I was not asking.  I was making a statement.  Because I knew the answer.)

“And maybe a few things about human history.  Nothing bad, though!” she promised me, her smile becoming more and more sheepish and more and more nervous.

“For some reason, I am not feeling a sense of relief,” my eyes were widening already.  In fact, it was a sense of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM that was setting in.

Then she mumbled something under her breath that I didn’t catch.

“Speak up, princess!” I ordered, my eyes only getting bigger.

“May have... mentioned TV,” she tried to make it sound nonchalant.  Guess what?  SHE FAILED MISERABLY!

“You didn’t...” it was like getting hit with a bucket full of cold water.  Then getting that bucket dumped on me as I writhed in agony.

“And MLP:FIM,” she blurted out, blushing brightly.

“Luna!” My mind began to blue screen.  Errors popping up!  IT DOESN’T COMPUTE!

“And maybe a few shipfics!” she cried out, taking advantage of my blown mind to get the entire confession out.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?” Emergency switches were going off.  The pressure was critical.  If my skull had escape pods, my brain might have abandoned ship.  As it were, it was forced to deal with it.  Much to my displeasure.

“And the human fascination with nudity.  And the imaginative ways to portray it,” she went for the Coup de grâce.

“Thhhbbbbbbtt~!” I blew a raspberry (Obviously I’m reverting to childhood responses.) because my mind was already overloaded.  It was in the middle of a reset, and the ability to arrange vocabulary into audible sentences fashioned in a grammatically correct pattern was still quite out of order.

“Don’t worry, Firewall.  I now know why you weren’t so quick to divulge everything to me, and I understand.  You were just being cautious on my account, and I’m touched by your concern,” Twilight replied in earnest, trying to make the entire situation feel nonchalant, “It’s a human cultural activity.  Strange as it is to me, I do not judge you for your ways.  It was how you were raised, after all.  May I ask a question, though?”

“That sounds like a terrible idea,” I was shaking my head, “In fact, I’m sure I’m going to regret this.  Go on.”

“Do humans not have multiple genders?” Twilight looked very serious.  In fact, if she had not looked so serious about it, I’d have thought she was making a poorly executed joke.

“I cannot fathom how you came to wonder such a thing, but yes.  Males and females.  Just like ponies,” I was still shaking my head, not wanting to think about where this was going.

“I’m just... confused.  Usually, ponies... um...  ‘pair up,’ I suppose, with their opposing gender,” Twilight said with a contemplative stare.

“As do humans.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the alternative,” I said, starting to become confused, “Why do you ask?”

“Oh.  Well, it just seemed... A lot of... speculative fiction was,” Twilight was starting to blush a bit, “Revolving around... A lot of female-only pairings.”

“I noticed that as well,” Luna looked at me with an amused smirk, “Why is that, Firewall?”

“Oh shut up, Luna,” I groaned, causing her to burst into a fit of laughter.

“But I’m curious~!” she faux-whined in between her snickering.

I facehoofed, “I bet you are.  Look, Twilight... Best to describe it like this:  Humans think of everything.  And I mean everything.  The human imagination runs wild.  If you can think of something, there’s likely a human who’s taken it four steps further and put his ideas into some form of media that you can find on Youtube.”

“What’s Yout-...” she started to ask me before I cut her off.

“Skip it,” I shook my head, “That’s going to be an extremely long line of questions on an entirely different subject.  The simplest way that I can put it is that you’re a popular medium in modern human culture, which means there is nearly endless amounts of ways to speculate on every unanswered question about you.  Including your romantic preference on genders.”

Twilight blinked, utterly stunned by that last part, “Y... You mean...?”

“Ummm... I didn’t mention anything about her ships, smart guy,” Luna held a hoof in front of her mouth as she began to laugh yet again.

“W... What?!” I began to panic, “Twilight, ignore what I said!”

“H-How can I!?” she shook her head, “What... That’s just... I don’t have time for a... relationship!  I’m too busy... with studies and... Oh... Humans are so... weird!  I thought Pinkie Pie was strange!”

“Okay!  Let’s just drop this subject!” I cried, still panicking.  Hell, I even broke out into a sweat, “Humans are strange!  That works!  Let’s just go with that!”

I looked at Luna.  She was still sputtering mirthfully.  I gave her an annoyed stare, which only made her erupt into an uncontrolled guffaw.  Reflecting back on this, I think it’s fair to say all she needed was trollface.jpg printed out on paper and taped to her face to complete the effect.  It took her nearly an entire minute to calm down, but that didn’t stop her from staring back with a huge shit-eating grin on her face.  Apparently she forgot, there was only enough room in Equestria for one smart ass.

“Okay.  We’ll drop it,” Luna said, still smiling as brightly as the sun on the other side of Equestria.

Nopony said a word for the next several minutes.  We just busied ourselves with doing unnecessary activities until the tension finally deflated.  Just as I turned to say something, not patient enough to fly in silence for so long, Twilight actually slipped the first word in.

“So... Who am I often paired with?” she asked, trying to look halfway uninterested (Unsurprisingly enough, Twilight makes a terrible liar.).

“BWAHAHA!” the damn indigo alicorn actually lost control of the stupid (I didn’t really mean it was stupid.  I love the A.S.C.A.) carriage as she doubled over in laughter.  We began to plummet, causing me to panic for an entirely new reason as I clung to the side of the carriage.  Twilight snatched control of it in shock as I pressed my face into the side of the coach and just whimpered.

“Kill me.  Just kill me now,” I murmured, my words drowned out by Luna’s rambunctious laughing.

And it was like that for SIX.  MORE.  HOURS.  I will tell you all, Twilight doesn’t have many flaws.  In fact, she’s just got only three that I can name offhand.  The first is that she’s obsessive compulsive to a fault on certain matters.  The second I will tell you later.  The third?  She is insatiably curious and has no inhibition when it comes to learning anything about anything.  I’ll just skip the details and let you know that it was a difficult six hours.  I’d never been so happy to see Appleloosa in my life.  Which made sense since I had never seen it in person (in pony?) before.

Now just to set the scene, (I really wasn’t interested in taking it in at the time, I was just ready to get away from those two) we all know what Appleloosa looks like by day.  Multiply its population, though, and it’s a mess with a rainbow of ponies running everywhere.  There were dozens of ponies swinging hammers at buildings and workbenches, all to accommodate their new guests and more to come.  I’m sure I would have reflected on just how... perfectly communist it all was if I wasn’t so preoccupied with my upcoming getaway.  (George Orwell would have loved Equestria.  If you don’t know who that is, look for the book Animal Farm and you’ll see why.  HOORJ LITERATURE!)

“LAND!” I jumped off the A.S.C.A. and what was quite possibly my least enjoyable sky ride ever, “SWEET FREEDOM!”

With that, I ran away from Twilight and her incessant queries.  I know I’m not a perfect pony to be around, but man, you get Twi started, and she can not stop.  I mean, she tried.  She really did.  But Luna was there every time to toss in a subtle comment to get her started on something entirely new.  It was the greatest trolling ever.  She was a master troller.  A pony has no business being such a master troll.  The only thing she didn’t do was look at me and go U MAD, BRONY?!

“I’m sorry!” I could hear Twilight calling out to me apologetically, though it was difficult to make out between Luna’s gasps for air.


In my mad dash to escape, I was tackled
(Anyone else sensing a theme here?  Is that how ponies say hello or something?) by a pink organism with pink hair and a pair of pink... NO!  Blue eyes!  Yes, it was Pinkie Pie, hugging me happily with an excited squeal.  My reaction was to try and get the number of that bus that ran me over.  The local department of transportation would hear about this if it was the last thing I did!

“NO-NAME!” Her thrilled shriek pierced the air, causing everypony in Appleloosa within a two block radius to stop what they were doing and smile, “Now we get to NAME YOU!”

Now, mentlegen, I’ll have you know, I didn’t panic.  I calmly waited out the throttling hug (I started to black out for a second, surprisingly enough.) and smiled as Pinkie disengaged.

“Pinkie.  Princess Luna named me already,” I broke the news to her as plainly as I could, not beating around the bush.

Now, I thought she might be a little sad, maybe have a Pinkamina moment, or just explode in a pink jealousy rage.  The last thing I expected was for her to gasp before hugging my neck with the strength of Hercules yet again.

“That means you’re hers now!” she squealed, bouncing as she dislocated my vertebrae in her titanic embrace, “I’m so HAPPY FOR YOU~!  She can afford the really expensive scratching posts and *GAAAAASP~!* All the CUPCAKES YOU COULD WANT~!”

“Pinkie,” I squeaked as my vision began to lose focus, “I’m happy, too.  Let me go.”

“Okay!” she laughed as she released me before honking my nose, “Honk~!  What did she name you?”

“Firewall,” I coughed out my answer as sat back.

“That’s great!  Is it a wall made from fire?” she stuck her tongue out at me sarcastically, “What does it mean?”

“It mea-...” I started to say.

“Wait until I tell the girls!” she interrupted me before turning around and running down the street.

“Ummm... Okay,” I scratched my head as I watched her fade into the distance.  I continued on down main street and turned into what looked like the local watering hole.  I was surprised when I looked at the bar to see Storm Wing and Rainbow Dash standing at the bar (the way ponies normally stand, for there were no bar stools) and having a drink.  I got all excited and scampered my way over to them.

“Salutations, Firewall,” Storm Wing murmured as I approached, able to see me without even looking my way.  He gave a half-hearted wave, causing his armor to ring a tad when he set his hoof back down.

“Hmmm?” Rainbow Dash looked over her shoulder, smiling as she caught sight of me, “Hey!  Starlight said you should be arriving today!  Congrats on your name, tough guy!”

“Thanks!” I gave her a large goofy grin, holding up my hoof, which Dash laughed at before brohoofing me epically.

“You just get in?” she asked as she looked back at the barkeep, “One juice for my friend here.”

“Yeah.  Pinkie caught me and tried to name me.  I had to break the news that she missed out and that Luna gave me a name, although that only seemed to excite her even more,” I explained as I took hold of the cup of juice Dash was serving me.  I noticed that Storm Wing was being awfully quiet, “Thanks, Dash!”

I knocked the glass back with a smile and felt a rush of nostalgia.  I’d not had apple juice since I was a pre-teen.

“Huh?  But Pinkie was there when Twilight told us.” Dash looked a tad confused, furrowing her brow in response.

“You’re assuming Pinkie was paying attention,” I pointed out, not surprised by this in the least.

“Hah!  Yeah, I guess that ain’t a safe bet!” she snickered with a wing shrug, “Oh, Pinkie Pie.”

“You are so random,” I finished for her, causing her to start laughing with concurring nod.  I looked again at Storm Wing, chuckling along with her before glancing at Rainbow Dash.

She caught my glance and looked back at him before nudging him with a wing, “C’mon, Sparky, it’s okay to relax during serious times.  Laugh a little or you’ll end up crying instead!”

I resisted the urge to laugh at Rainbow Dash's choice of relevant monikers.  It wasn’t hard to resist, however, after seeing that he wasn’t being his usual stiff self.  He just wasn’t doing anything at all.  I leaned about to look at him from the side to see that his expression was a sad one.  Dash gave me a wing shrug before deciding to give us some dude time.  If you ask me though, Dash is cool enough to be in any bro circle.  Hell, Dash probably has her own bro circle.  LIKE A BAWSS!

“I’ll catch you guys later.  I’m going to go see if Starlight is up for a race or something,” she excused herself before smiling at me as she left, “Good to see you again, big guy.”

“You too, champ!” I smiled in response before turning to Storm Wing and poking him with my hoof. “Hey.”

“Hey,” He said quite plainly, “glad you’re okay.”

“You alright?” I asked, ignoring his attempt at smalltalk.

“Yeah.” he shut his eyes and sighed.

“We’ll get her back, mate,” I reassured him, shaking my head at the barkeep pony (I wish I had asked his name.  It was probably something cool like Wet Whistle or Sasparilla) when he gave us an asking glance.

“The last time The Nightmare took an alicorn, it lasted for a thousand years,” he murmured as his ears drooped.

“Well, Nightmare Sol won’t even make it to her first birthday, I promise.” I set a hoof on his shoulder.  

He faced my general direction before inhaling deeply. “Right.  You’re right.”

“You don’t sound convinced.” he really didn’t.  I was then struck with a thought that I blurted without thinking, “Storm Wing, have you ever even failed in a task?”

“What?” He opened his eyes, confusion now splayed on his visage.

“Have you ever been defeated?  Or failed to carry out a mission?” I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.

“Not... Not really,” I was surprised to hear him say.

“Never?” it seemed a little too far fetched for me to swallow, “One thousand years and you never met a dragon you couldn’t bring down?  Or had to retreat?”

“Well, retreating isn’t failure.  Just a delay until victory,” he said earnestly, “and no, dragons aren’t very fast fliers, and when you fly faster than the fire they breath, they’re quite a joke.  Phoenixes are the worst, really.”

I couldn’t help but feel he was exaggerating, at least a little. “Whatever.  Repeat what you just said?”

“Phoe-...”

“Seriously, man?  You think there’s something significant about phoenixes in what we’re talking about?” I rolled my eyes, knowing he couldn’t see it. “You know what I’m talking about.”

He blinked before letting a grin spread across his muzzle.  Finally, he gave a chuckle and nodded, “You’re right.  We’ve just retreated.  It isn’t over.”

“You’re buckin’ right it isn’t,” I chuckled before hearing the bell at the door ring loudly.  Curiosity provoked me to give it a glance before groaning, “Damn it all to hell.”

“What?” his eyes narrowed as he focused, trying to sense what I was seeing.

Luna was at the door with Applejack, walking towards the bar.  Fortunately, her demeanor had changed from TROLL TEH FIREWALL to rather serious and determined.  As they approached, I caught a bit of their conversation.

“An’ Braeburn says we should be able t’house everypony fer today, but we’re needin’ to chop down some’ah the orchard to take care’ah the ponies from Canterlot.  Ah think they’ll fuss about the uh... rough livin’, though,” Applejack explained as she smiled over at me, acknowledging me with a nod as she continued to speak to Princess Luna. “Ah gotta say though, between you’n Twilight managin’ matters, things’ll be goin’ swimmin’ly, Ah reckon.”

“I plan on it,” Luna stared through me, pensively murmuring her reply, “Go ahead and take whatever you need from the orchard and clear as much land as you need.  Tell your cousin he’ll be compensated as soon as order is reestablished.  And if any of Canterlot’s citizens give you any grief, you send them straight to me.  I’ll straighten out any pony that thinks he or she is more deserving than anypony else.”

“Your highness,” Storm Wing turned to her with a bow, “I’m glad your safe.”

“Likewise, Captain.  Just Luna will do.” She huffed before looking to Applejack once more, “Any other questions?”

“No, yer highness,” she replied instantly, not thinking about what Luna had just said.

“By the light of... You call me anything but Luna again and I’ll have Storm Wing give you combat training for a week.” She facehoofed as she shook her head. “And trust me, I’ve seen what the Sky Archons go through.  There’s a reason there have only been fifty Sky Archons in a thousand years.”

“Everypony cries on their first day,” Storm Wing pointed out with a smirk, supporting Luna’s argument.

“S-Sorry, Ma’am... Um... Princess Luna!  Ah... Luna!” Applejack looked rather intimidated, her face turning red.  I was rather surprised.  The only time I’d ever seen her sweat was when Pinkie Pie gave her that god-awful stare.

“That scare you, Applejack?” I asked with a laugh.

“Well... Shoot yeah!  Ah saw’m fight off that big-headed showpony, Trixie!” she nodded vigorously. “It was none too kind, neither!”

“She’s just a stupid unicorn with a load of chaotic magic.  She doesn’t even know how to use it properly,” he scoffed, a bit of his pride showing through, “Honestly, you probably could have taken her on your own, Applejack, strong as you are.”

“Well, uh... Ah’m not much fer fightin’,” Applejack blushed a bit more as she stammered.  Her modesty was quite endearing. “Anyway... Ah’ll see everypony later.  Ah need t’help get everythin’ ready for the ponies on their way.  Good t’see ya again, Firewall.  Be grateful an’ such.  Not everypony gits named by the princess, after all.  Ya’ll stay safe, now.”

“Trust me, she’s made up for it with other shenanigans,” I waved at her as she turned to leave, “Peace AJ!”

We all watched her leave for a moment before Luna spoke up, looking back my way with a smirk, “Still bitter?”

“I am so bitter that I’m too dark for chocolate,” I huffed irritably.

“Awww, but you seem so sweet~!” she teased before laughing, glancing at Storm Wing, “Did everypony make it?”

“Yes, your highness,” he responded with an affirming nod.

“Storm Wing,” she cut her eyes his way, “What did I just tell Applejack?”

“As long as I am your Captain, you will be my Princess,” his voice sounded as though he was willing to get in a fight over the matter.

“I’ve no problems promoting Starlight, you know.  At least she can drop formality when I order her to,” I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but I could tell that Storm Wing didn’t find it funny either way.  It made sense that they had conflicting personalities.  After all, Luna isn’t formal in the least and Storm Wing was nothing but strict order and discipline.

“Woah, woah, woah,” I stepped in between them, as Storm Wing set his jaw, ready to hash it out on the spot, “Really you two are being stubborn on a stupid matter.  Let it go.  Storm Wing, learn to relax when ponies are trying to be relaxed.  Luna, don’t escalate something so pointless just because somepony feels strongly about an idea that opposes yours.”

“Butt out,” Storm Wing growled as Luna stepped around me.

“This doesn’t concern you, Firewall,” she snapped at me before looking at Storm Wing, her eyes narrowing in determination.  Her voice had suddenly shifted to a higher volume and a stronger tone, “Are you questioning my orders, Captain Storm Wing?”

It suddenly came to me that she sounded almost exactly like Celestia.  Like her sister, she was showing that she could leave no room to argument and Storm Wing had picked up it on as I had.

He glared for a moment before lowering his eyes and bowing yet again, “No, your majesty.”

“Then you use my name when I tell you to.  You’re an example.  If my own Captain doesn’t follow my orders, then why should anypony else,” she clarified, her voice still firm and above reproach, “Is that clear?”

I blinked in shock.  Luna really knew how to step up to the plate whenever she needed to.

“Yes, your majesty,” he replied, remaining bowed.

“Marvelous.  Now, how are you today, Storm Wing?” she asked, raising her head and staring down her nose at him.

“I am well... … Luna,” he answered forcibly, looking as though he was going to be sick.

“Good,”  she cantered over to raise him to up.  Without warning, she suddenly pulled him into a hug, catching everypony off guard and for several seconds, nopony said anything.  Even all the other bar patrons were staring at the two of them in shock.  Their nosiness shook me from my stunned gaping, causing me to glare at them all.  I don’t like nosy people or nosy ponies!

“Take a picture, jackponies!” I shouted at them, causing all of them to quickly go about their business.

“Thanks, Firewall,” Luna murmured before breaking the hug and looking down.  She began whispering softly, “Look, Storm... We know I’m not used to leading.  I’m going to need your help.  I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I’m actually scared out of my horseshoes.  I just... You took care of my sister while I was gone... And now I need you to take care of me as I do my best to fill in for her.”

Storm Wing’s stunned expression faded into regret before steeling itself in determination.  He nodded with a dire look on his face, “I’m sorry about the attitude, your... Luna.  I promise you, you’ve nothing if not my support.”

“Thank you,” she said with a deep breath, sighing it out and giving a yawn, “I need a rest.  I’ve placed a spell to hold the Moon in place.  If it starts to move, come wake me up.”

“Sleep well, Luna,” Storm Wing offered politely.

She smiled at him then looked to me expectantly.

“Still bitter,” I reminded her after a moment of awkward silence, “Go to bed.  That’s all you get.”

“But,” she pouted, sticking out her bottom lip expectantly.  I had to look away.  Even if she was a primary source of annoyance, she had mastered the art of cute and undeniable pout through thousands of years of having used it on Celestia, “Pleeaaase?”

“Now why does he get the magic word and I get the royal talk down?” Storm Wing huffed irritably.

“Shush,” she ordered before looking at me one last time, “You’re going to hurt my feelings~!”

“Perish the thought,” I held my hoof to my forehead as if I were succumbing to a fit of the vapors, “Whatever shall we do~?”

“Hey!” I heard a small voice come from beneath me.  We all looked down to see a tiny yellow pony with red hair and a large pink ribbon in the back.  Luna and I both gasped, recognizing her right away, “Ya’ll kin give th’princess due respect!  She’s just askin’ fer a ‘good night’ after all!”

“Applebloom!” I gasped, going parallel with the floor to look her straight in the eye, “You are ADORABLE.  Where are the other crusaders!?”

“Wh... What?  How’d y’all know mah name?” she stepped back, entirely unprepared for such familiarity, “Are... Are ya’ll... a wizard?”

I was barely able to restrain myself from squeeing at her.  Luna proved she still had no self control in that department and had to cover her mouth with a hoof as she cackled.  Storm Wing looked down at the little filly and promptly turned back around to the bar.  Somepony doesn’t like kids.  Me?  I love kids that are right around that six-year old stage, especially when their parents actually had the balls to keep them straightened out and such.

“Long story, trust me, you don’t wanna hear it.  But I’ll be nice enough to share my name so we’re even.  I’m Firewall!” I did chuckle a bit before smiling at her, “So you think I need to be nice to mean ol’ Luna, eh?”

“Ya’ll can’t call the princess mean!” she protested, glaring at me ADORABLY.  I almost picked her up and ran around the room with her just out of impulse.  I was able to refrain from such a display, but it was harder than I thought it would have been.

“I just did.  Whatcha gonna do about it, tiny?” I taunted with a big smile.

“Cutie Mark Crusader Princess Defenders!”  I heard two small voices cry out from behind me and before I could look, it was on.  I had Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo on my back, jumping up and down on me as Applebloom grabbed my face in an attempt to wrestle it to the ground and hold me there.  Fortunately, they were doing absolutely no damage with their endearing efforts, but I let them think they were.  Kids are cool.  With a false cry of strain, I rolled to my side and let myself be ‘pinned’ to the ground.

“Well done, Crusaders!” Luna cried out after a minute or so of laughing at my expense (I am still not allowed to win, I see), “Let’s see if he’s willing to cooperate now.”

“You’re such a pushover, Firewall,” I heard Storm Wing comment as I was released from the tiny assault.

I got back up, feigning injury before sighing and looking at Luna, “Well, Luna...  It seems I’ve been defeated.  Curse you and your protectors.”

“Watch it!” Scootaloo growled warningly.

“You cannot talk to the princess that way!” Sweetie Belle declared, cutting a glare my way.

“Right!  Now ya’ll apologize an’ wish her a good night!  Or we’ll give ya’ll more’a the same!” Applebloom threatened, waving a clenched hoof at me.  How she managed that, I’ll never know.

“Well, Firewall?” she smirked arrogantly behind her damned wall of cute and cuddly defenders, “Let’s hear it.”

I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and steeling myself for what was to come.  After a moment of consideration, I simply shook my head, “Nah!  You’ll have to beat it out of me!”

“Oh, pick me, Luna,” Storm Wing offered as the Cutie Mark Crusaders charged me again.  

I leaped over them, smiling at Luna as I ran past her.  I did whisper as I passed by, though, “Good night.”

“You cannot run from us!” Sweetie Belle cried out as I made for the door.

For the next few hours or so, I exhausted myself running from the Crusaders.  We entertained a lot of ponies with our nonsense, running around like a bunch of idiots.  Being nearly five times their height, there was no way they could keep up on hoof, so they started getting creative.  This involved splitting up and heading me off.  I answered by ambushing loners and putting them in buckets that they were too small to get out of or putting them up on high surfaces that they couldn’t easily get down from.  Then they tried using the scooter and wagon, to which I used the wheel’s greatest enemy:  The stair.  Eventually, though, I ran out of will and simply flopped over in the middle of a grassy patch just on the edge of the apple orchard after another foot race.  Much to my fortune, they were equally beat and merely proceeded to poke at me lazily as they made their demands.

“Ya’ll... thought ya’ll... could git away.... eh?” Applebloom panted through her words.

“Now, yer... gonna get it,” Scootaloo swore to me, lazily flopping across my shoulder, “I’ll... hold him down.”

“Good job... Scoots...” Sweetie Belle likewise lounged upon my neck, giggling a tad, “Do you... surrender?”

“Well, okay,” I said with a tired laugh, “But I’m... not getting up for... a few minutes.”

“F... Fine,” Applebloom agreed to that, sitting back against me, her breath still coming in gasps, “Ya’ll... kin take a br... break.”

“But don’t... don’t expect us to go easy on you,” Scootaloo mumbled lazily.

“Of course not,” I snorted softly, staring at the closest apple tree for no particular reason, “I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Did we... get our cutie marks?” Sweetie Belle asked, too tired to look herself.

I chuckled again, inhaling the scent of the sweet apple orchard and smiling.  With the moon in the sky, it was actually rather easy to see everything.  The beautiful stars twinkled down at me and the troubles of Nightmare Sol and Azure Flora seemed so far away.  This is what Equestria is supposed to feel like, I told myself.  A soft breeze floated our way, carrying a bit of a chill and the Crusaders all shifted away from it a bit.  It wasn’t long before I heard Scootaloo snoring, and I realized I had become a bed.

“Great,” I murmured lowly, craning my neck to look at them.  Surely enough, they were all passed out.  I smiled and gently lifted them all up with a bit of unicorn magic before placing them on my back after standing.  With the utmost of care, I began to walk back into town, thoughtfully keeping the air around me warm on their behalf.  As I made my way back in, I quickly remembered I had no idea where to go.  I wandered about for a bit, looking for a familiar face.  Thankfully, I found a pair of said faces, but was a little hesitant.  It was both Miss Rarity and Fluttershy sitting under a table umbrella (What, were they trying to beat the heat or something?  Avoid a moon burn?) with a candle illuminating them as they sipped at their beverages.  They were sipping at what I could only assume was tea.  I steered my approach to come up behind Fluttershy.  Rarity spotted me and gave me an odd look, but I held up a hoof and shooshed quietly.  She was confused, but amicable enough to agree.  I slipped up behind the yellow pegasus and leaned over to whisper right into her ear.

“Boo,” I said suddenly, causing her to jump and squeak a bit in shock.  I laughed quietly as she turned around, panting a bit in fear, “You’re going to wake them up, Fluttershy.  You’re such a loudmouth.”

“Oh... It’s you!” her exclamation, while excited, carried the decibel strength of a mouse’s heartbeat.  She smiled at me and nodded, turning to Rarity with a quiet giggle, “Rarity, this is the one Twilight was talking about.”

“Firewall, she said?” she smiled after I nodded my confirmation, “It is quite a pleasure to meet you. How do you do, my good gentlecolt?”

“Splendid, milady,” I answered with a polite nod, speaking softly, “You wouldn’t happen to know where I can... drop off this cargo, would you?”

“Awwww~!” Fluttershy was quietly examining the crusaders, gently brushing Scootaloo’s hair and causing her to happily moan in response, “They’re such angels~!”

“I’ve just the place in mind,” Rarity said with a pleasant smile, “I should thank you for occupying them.  I was afraid they would get in trouble or disrupt some pony’s hard work.”

“They’re so cute~!” Fluttershy cooed  to no one in particular as she continued to feed her inner Squee.

“Nah, they just need some attention,” I gave a nod before looking myself over, grimacing at how sweaty and dirty I was (YES, I’D BEEN BATHING FOR THOSE WHO ARE WONDERING!), “And I need a bath.  Badly.”

“Well, I certainly wasn’t going to be rude and make assumptions,” she said with a strained smile, “I suppose you have no place to stay.”

“I figured Luna would...” I started to say before I was cut off.

Princess Luna,” she reminded me, “And I’ll take that as a no.  Come with me, then.  I’ll see you shortly Fluttershy.”


“Awww,” Fluttershy was saddened at the prospect of leaving the crusaders, but she nodded and smiled nonetheless, “Just as well.  I need to get back to finding the animals their homes while they’re here.”

“Trust me, Miss, she hates the formality.  She’s... more practical than that,” I explained, trying to think of a way to tell Rarity that Princess Luna did not behave like a princess at all.

“You sound as though you’ve spoken with her,” she smiled, looking back at me as she led me through the streets to one of the recently constructed homes.  The difference between this house and the ones directly beside it was that the wood had been polished, sanded, painted, and decorated from top to bottom in ribbons, etchings, and greenery.

“Oh, Twilight didn’t explain everything, I see,” I gave a chuckle as we entered.

Rarity looked back at me as she began to scan about her home for something, “I beg your pardon?”

“I’m the human that appeared the same time the crater did,” really, it was the quickest explanation that I could have come up with

“Oh, that dreadful thing,” she gave a haughty laugh, “What an eyesore, don’t you think?”

“Days upon days of lost sleep, milady,” I laughed as I rolled my eyes.  She smiled at my humor, taking it all in good stride.

“Where were you at that time, anyway?” I couldn’t help but be curious.

“Oh, I was actually in Canterlot, fashioning a few new dresses with Hoity Toity,” she replied nonchalantly as she sighed in frustration, still searching for whatever it was that eluded her, “The gentlecolt has an eye for spotting fashion and an even better one towards marketing such beautiful work, but I must say, he’s not much of a designer himself.”

“This really isn’t fazing you in the least, is it?” I was smirking amazed at just how interested she seemed without being enthusiastic about the situation.  Then it hit me that she was doing so intentionally, to which she confirmed with her response.

“A lady must keep her composure, my good sir.  It’s all fascinating, I assure you, but I’ve learned that one must keep her wits about her if she’s to make any progress,”

“You know... You’re the toughest pretty-girl, ever.  Props to you, Miss Rarity,” I said in all honesty, “You’re actually something of a popular culture icon where I come from and are admired for keeping such poise and grace, even under pressure.”

“Why thank you, Mister Firewall, your homeland already sounds wonderful,” she feigned modesty with a hoof covering her cheek just as she finally found what she was looking for, “Celestia’s tears, that’s where it was!”

She yanked a furniture sheet out from under her couch, tossed it into the air, and let it billow out with her magic before settling it back over the couch.

“Please, just Firewall.  So, you’ve been here all of what... a few hours?  It looks as though you’ve spent days decorating just the walls,” I proclaimed as I looked about.  Not a drop of paint was out of place, not a bit of sawdust adorned her floors.  Her colors of warm pink carpeting and stark white walls blended well and I could tell that she had gone out of her way to acquire a special thinner for her paint.  I could smell that very particular resin that my uncles had sworn by, proclaiming anything not made with this certain plant or tree or whatever (Yeah, I kinda tuned them out when they got to talk about the exciting world of PAINT.  HOLD ME THE HELL BACK!).

“Well, it is my gift after all.  Here we are,” she beckoned me over to the couch and one by one, we transferred the somewhat dirty crusaders from my back to the couch.  They were so small that they weren’t even slightly crowding each other’s space, but after a moment, they inched their way to one another, piling up like tired puppies.

“Heavens, I must confess that they’re absolutely darling when they’re not conscious,” she admitted with a smile, running a hoof over Sweetie Belle’s mane, “They must have been such a trouble.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it.  Kids are fun,” I told her with a confident smile, “Nothing to it, really.  You just have to remember how to be a kid.”

“That doesn’t sound very... mature, if you don’t mind my saying,” she teased with a soft titter before moving to the closet and bringing me a towel.  I dread to think of how much of her boutique made it into that train.

“Well, a wise man once said, that the desire to be an adult is a child’s way.  A healthy and maturing child’s way, mind you, but a child’s way nonetheless,” I began to roughly quote C.S. Lewis, “As you grow to become an adult, though, you set away childish things, including the urgent desire to be an adult.”

“Why... I never thought of it that way,” she looked somewhat surprised, mulling over the profound words, “What else did this gentlecolt say?”

“He also said that one never truly possesses anything until they can give it away,” I gave a chuckle, wondering if she would get the philosophical implications.

“I see... That... actually makes perfect sense.  If one is unwilling to part with their possessions then, in a way, it is more as though that one belongs to their possessions,” she mused aloud.  It was my turn to be stunned, this time at how quickly she had thought it through.  I’ve met hundreds of people that still think all C.S. Lewis meant was to just start giving everything away because he was a drug addicted philosopher.  Before I could comment on how much she had impressed me, Rarity rushed me along, “And speaking of possessions, you will find my washroom behind you.  It’s very clean and you may use whatever you like, but I simply ask that you put everything back where you found it.”

“Thank you, Miss Rarity.  You truly are the element of generosity,” I gave her a sweeping bow, simply because I was aware that she would appreciate the somewhat dramatic effort.

“Not at all, my dear.  After all, you saved one of my best friends,” she shushed me with a prize winning smile, “It’s the least I can do.”

“I did?” I gave her a puzzled glance, stopping just as the bathroom door.

“Oh, do you not remember?  Rainbow Dash was saved thanks to your efforts, Firewall,” she reminded me with a nod, “It must be quite a heroic life you lead if you so quickly forget about the ponies you save.”

“Hah!  Not so much.  Wow, that seems so long ago, actually.  It’s only been a week, hasn’t it?” I smirked, somewhat surprised at how the time was flying, yet it wasn’t moving so quickly after all.

“Indeed.  Now run along, we can chat later,” she gave me a dismissing wave of her hoof, “I will look after the girls.”

“Yeah, now that the hard part is over with,” I gave a laugh as I entered the bathroom.

“Why, I simply do not know whatever it is you’re talking about,” her voice feigned sorrow.  It actually reminded me of Luna’s sarcastic nature, only more... ladylike.

As I settled into the bathroom and drew the bathwater (I’ve not taken an actual bath-bath in years.  Just showers.  That alone was pretty cool.), I began to marvel once again how good and trusting the ponies were.  Rarity’s generosity truly did touch me, and while she wasn’t my favorite of the Mane 6, she was definitely the one I could grant the most respect to.  I’ve always been able to look up to the truly independent and consistent for being able to take the heat and still keep everything in their life together.  Parasprite attacks excluded, I’d never seen Rarity panic for a very long time.  I didn’t get the impression that she was just naive and didn’t understand the situation, but that she knew to keep on keeping on.

Finally, I let myself sink into the steaming hot water and sighed, submersing as much of me as I possibly could.  I shut my eyes and relaxed, suddenly aware of all the aches and bruises for the first time in a long time.

“Feels good, pony,” I murmured to myself before getting an unexpected interruption.


~Having a good time?~

~Oh good.  You’re here.~

~You’re happy to hear from me?~

~Not at all.  But I do think it’s time that you and I had a heart to heart.~

~I’ve been thinking that very same thing.~

~Okay, I’d have written down a list, but then I’d have to hold the pencil in my mouth and I can’t see what I’m doing, so let’s see what I can recall from memory.~

~You don’t sound very confident.  Also, you can write with your unicorn magic~

~Shut up, I was making a reference.  And no, I’m not confident.  My memory is about as reliable as a perforated condom.  But it’s all we got right now.  So first thing on the plate.  Azure Flora.~

~What about her?~

~Everything you know, duh.~

~Ah.  Well, she was a gardener in the original capitol.  She was quite good, actually.  She was also in love with the Captain of the Equestrian Guard, and he felt very much the same for her.  Then the first human appeared and began spreading the blight of non magical substances.  She refused to abandon the city when nearly everyone else had.  Eventually, no one but Celestia, Luna, The Equestrian Guard, and the very most loyal ponies lived there.  Soon, the esoteric material began to break about the castle, which could not support itself without the help of magic.~

~All because of the anti-magic stuff.~

~Yes.  Inmanipulon, your purple friend named it, I believe.~

~Yeah, I’m not using that name.  What is it really, and how did it affect her?~

~Which question should I answer first?~

~What is it?~

~Your friend believes the material radiates a negative magic energy that cancels out magic.  So does Azure Flora.  That is incorrect.  It is actually a complete lack of magic.  Magic supports itself, so when it enters into an area lacking it, it fades.  Eventually enough magic can seep in and... ‘remagic’ the substance back to normality, but it takes a long time.  Centuries, even.~

~So how did it make her immortal?~

~Purely random effect of prolonged exposure.  With enough time away from magic, one’s body can have strange reactions when refamiliarizing one’s self with it.  The truly interesting development, though, is her ability to manipulate the ‘inmanipulable’ material with her mind.~

~How can she do that?  There’s no magic to work with, right?~

~Who knows?  Perhaps she is psychic.  Or perhaps the lack of magic allows her to exert a different kind of magic.  Magic has shown the tendency to contradict its own... ‘rules’ before.  Whatever the case, she has a unique gift that allows her to corral and use the power that is anti-magic.~

~So why didn’t that happen to me?~

~Because you are in a body that isn’t yours.~

~Woah.  Woah Woah Woah.  These questions are just leading into bigger questions.~

~I know.  It’s simply delightful, don’t you think?~

~Not at all!  What do you mean this isn’t my body?~

~All I know is that it existed before you arrived.  It’s probably the reason you’re not creating the material wherever you go and haven’t stumbled across it by now.~

~You haven’t got a clue?~

~Well, I know it was created magically.  Unicorn or not, no pony can ‘breathe’ anything besides air.~

~That explains a lot, I suppose.  What about the cigarette box?~

~What about it?~

~Why does it never run out of cigarettes?~

~Same reason apple crates never run out of apples if you take them one by one.  This land is magical.  Every last thing from the dust in the air to the parasprites.  It’s easiest to assume that if it works a specific way on Earth, it likely doesn’t work that way here.~

~It just feels so... surreal, at times.  It rarely makes any sense.~

~It’s not supposed to.  It’s magic.  It is beyond the rules of reality.~

~So... Equestria is built off magic.  Down to the brass tacks.~

~Indeed.  Every living thing depends and supports magic in an entirely metaphysical ecological system not unlike that of Earth’s and its inhabitants.  These are two entirely separate realities that you have come to familiarize yourself with, and the... mixing of the two just in the slightest certainly does have a chaotic, though not necessarily detrimental, effect on Equestria.  Such as the Inmanipulon.~

~So humans really do create that stuff.~

~Oh yes.  Flora has the right of it, to be sure.  She’s no fool.  She believes that you are a very real, very dangerous threat to this world and in some ways, you are.  She’s seen what can happen firsthand, and she will stop at nothing to remove you from her beloved Equestria.~

~I see.~

~It’s a sobering thought, is it not?~

~Extremely sobering.  But why am I not... shedding this crap wherever I go?~

~Well, it’s because humans do not simply cause the material to simply appear, at least not in vast quantities.  It has to be done willingly for a significant amount to be created. ~

~Wait, what?  How does it work?~

~I do not think you can perform the act in that form.  It’s something about a human’s... field, if you must.~

~You mean how all living things on earth emit a small amount of electromagnetism?~

~Yes.  Humans can actually control this field.  If one does this on Earth, nothing discernible happens.  This is because the entire planet is emitting an electromagnetic field of its own and that field overpowers the human’s field.  Here, however, it is not unlike a pegasus focusing electromagic to make lightning.  The difference is when a human exerts this force, rather than manipulate the magic, it focuses it instead, pulling it out of the surroundings of the focal point.~

~So... it condenses magic by taking an area of magic and pulling it into a single spot.~

~A perfect explanation.~

~Magnets.  How do they @*$+*%^ work?  And how do you know any of this at all?~

~Oh.  Well, that is a rather personal question, you see.  Why do you want to know?~

~Because I need answers on just what happened a thousand years ago.  Were you there?~

~I was.~

~It wasn’t just a simple story of Celestia and her team versus The Nightmare, was it?~

~No.~

~Then tell me what happened.~

~Are you sure yo-... ~

~TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED!~

~You are very determined, I see.  Very well.  Keep in mind, this may not be something you want to hear.~

~I’m a big boy.  I can take it.~

~We shall see.

A human came to Equestria a thousand years ago.  Like you, he knew of the existence of the Equestrians and was extremely fond of them and their ways of life.  He wanted to be a part of such a utopia, but never expected he would obtain the chance to experience it himself.

Then the impossible happened.  He was brought here by a powerful being that simply wanted to... ‘do him a favor’ or so it said.  The human, being a trusting fool, took the being at its word and threw himself into the society of Equestria.  Though his appearance did make matters difficult at first, it was not long before he was lovingly accepted as part of the whole.  He brought such new ideas and ways of thinking, helping to advance the entire kingdom through simple suggestion.

It was not long, however that the human noticed that occasionally, the Equestrians found themselves at the unforgiving mercy of predators, assailants, and those that would take advantage of the innocent creatures.  The human, enraged by such events, sought out Celestia and Luna.  He proposed the idea of militaristic protectors.  Celestia was appalled by the idea and refused.  Luna, however, saw the potential of Equestrians that could defend themselves and others.~

~Wait, Luna met the human?  Why hasn’t she said anything.~

~Oh, that will become clear, eventually.~

~Where does the anti-magic come in?~

~Shall I tell the story or just answer your questions?~

~Fine, fine, point taken.~

~Good.  Now, keep in mind, this all took place within the first few days.  Not even a week had passed during this time.  He did eventually learn how to focus magic by accident and quickly discovered that the results had consequences and minimized the use of this dreadful power.

As I was saying before, Celestia was against the entire idea, but when Luna showed her support, she reluctantly agreed.  A group of Pegasi, Unicorns, and Earth stallions immediately jumped at the idea of being able to protect loved ones.  Who wouldn’t want to be a hero, after all?~

~How did that work out?~

~Swimmingly, at first.  However, the Equestrian Guard was not enough against greater threats.  Celestia and Luna often had to resort to the ancient magics of the Elements of Harmony, but they could not be everywhere at once and the Elements of Harmony were not meant for such frequent use.  So then the human decided stronger, more powerful warriors were needed.  After considering his options, he chose pegasi as being the most exemplary subjects for testing as they would be able to respond to any threat from towering hydras to malevolent dragons.~

~Sky Archons.~

~You’re starting to put it together.  Yes, a single pegasus volunteered.  The rest were too afraid when they learned that the process might alter them beyond what was normal.  But this one was willing to dedicate his entire life to being the Shield of Equestria.  Sound familiar?~

~Sounds like Storm Wing’s got a lot of his daddy in him.  I take it this was Winter Sky?~

~You are doing so well now.  Yes, Winter Sky was the first Sky Archon.  However, it was the process that created him that caused the first wave of the dreaded material.  Fortunately, the human had made preparations, thus the situation was well managed.  Being that this would be his first attempt on focusing magic into a being, he had taken every precaution that he could think of, but fortunately, it was unnecessary.  It worked wonderfully.  Winter Sky was a powerful pegasus that defended Equestria for the next several years with stunning success.  Even Celestia reconsidered her thoughts on the matter after watching the selfless pony in action.  She showed her approval by making Winter Sky the Captain of the Equestrian Guard and every single pony looked up to him in awe.~

~The Captain of the G... Wait... Winter Sky was Azure Flora’s beau?~

~You’re getting good at this, Firewall, I’m impressed.  Yes, Azure Flora and Winter Sky were very much in love.  Having known him before his change, she treated him as she always had and he took solace in that.  Equestrians as a race only craved simple happy lives.  Even now, that mostly remains the same with a few exceptions.  In any case, the point was that being around Azure Flora was when he felt life was simple and happy.  Therefore, he proposed after a short, customary courtship.  There was quite the celebration when their wedding was announced, followed by the news of an oncoming child.~

~HOLY BIT, SHE’S STORM WING’S MOTHER!!~

~It’s like a set of dominoes, is it not?  One answer leads to another and to another and to another.~

~So wait, why didn’t she recognize her son when we met  up with her?~

~Because she did not raise Storm Wing.  Celestia did.~

~Aroo?~

~Shall I continue the story?~

~I’m trying to think of a witty way to say yes, but it’s not coming to me.  Carry on.~

~As you wish.  Winter Sky protected the lands as best he could, but he had much land to cover and many threats to respond to.  Equestria today is quite the peaceful place, you see, because of the Sky Archons that strike fear into the hearts of those that would bring harm to the innocent.  It was not always this way.  This, in turn, caused the human to ask for more volunteers to help defend Equestria.  Shockingly, he found none.~

~Really?  I mean, ponies aren’t known for being especially violent, I guess but...~

~No, that wasn’t the case at all.  The Equestrian guard had a fair number to them, but none of the Equestrians were brave enough to sacrifice their livelihood to become something more for the sake of all.  See, everypony knew that Winter Storm had very little time to himself because he was something of a celebrity to them.  Perhaps such bravery was Winter Sky’s special talent?  Regardless, the human had no one to turn to.  That’s when he decided to try and make his own protector out of pure magic.~

~Then came The Nightmare.~

~Ah, so you figured it out.~

~I said it and I still can’t believe it.~

~Oh, but yes.  The human approached the princesses about his idea, and since his judgment had been so trustworthy in the past, they approved and even assisted him.  During the middle of the night, on a full moon, h-...~

~Was the full moon significant?  I mean, really?~

~You are quite possibly the most difficult audience I’ve ever had to deal with.~

~Then stop trying to distract me and sell it to me straight.~

~Fine.  He created a being of shadow and power to fight those that would hurt Equestrians far and wide.  And he failed.  Not because he executed it poorly, but because he had drained the entire capitol of its magic in doing so.  When The Nightmare took form, it knew nothing but pain and lashed out in response.  It was a creature of magic in a place that had no magic to give.  Only the Elements of Harmony and Winter Sky resisted the magical extraction.~

~Princess Luna and Celestia?~

~They were not harmed, but they could not use magic.  Winter Sky, however, was likely resistant due to the fact that his power was given to him by the very same human.  Or perhaps he was stronger than the princesses.  One can only speculate.~

~I doubt he was stronger than Celestia.~

~You say that, but the princesses are leaders, not warriors.  It is true, they are powerful alicorns, but they are not omnipotent, nor are they beings of a divine nature.~

~Whatever.  Irrelevant.  Continue.~

~Very well.  The Nightmare lashed out, its young mind already scarred by immeasurable pain.  Winter Sky moved to defend the human and the princesses, but he soon learned that this foe was beyond him.  The princesses, void of magic, were unable to spark the Elements of Harmony.~

~So how did it end?~

~Have you not guessed?~

~I’ve an idea.  Go on.~

~As I told you before during our last talk, Winter Sky made the ultimate sacrifice.  The human distracted The Nightmare by draining away some of its magic, doing his best to help.  Now somewhat unravelled, The Nightmare lost what little sanity it had left and struck out at its creator.  The human, wounded, was forced to retreat as Winter Sky begged the princesses to take his magic to use the Elements of Harmony.  At first they refused, knowing that it would bring about his premature end.  Free of distraction, The Nightmare dove into Luna.  Celestia tried to save her sister, but was unable to with no magic at her disposal.  I think that was the day that Celestia finally understood that being a leader meant that sometimes one had to do things she did not like in order to serve the greater needs of others.  Winter Sky begged her to do what she had to do before all was lost, and with a heavy heart, she relented, using his magic to spark the Elements of Harmony.

It was too late, however.  The Elements of Harmony are meant to be used by ponies working in harmony, not one alicorn trying to carry the burden of two.  The folly of the human, the folly of Celestia, and the folly of Winter Sky resulted in both Luna and The Nightmare, then known as Nightmare Moon, being banished to the moon rather than cleansed of her curse.  The Elements became dormant and powerless, suffering from such improper use, where they would be reborn a thousand years later.  I’d tell you what happened then, but I think you’ve already seen that.~

~Woah, now we’re rewriting history.~

~Or rather, replacing the rewritten history with the truth.~

~C’mon, man.  How do you expect me to swallow all of this?~

~I expect you to make up your own mind, Firewall.  You’ve no reason to believe me more than you’ve any reason to believe anyone else.  However, you bring me questions, and I bring you answers.  Take them at your discretion.~

~Okay, what happened to the human?~

~He begged Celestia to send him home.  He wanted to get away from the Equestrians before his influence could harm them again.  Celestia did not have that power, so instead she promised him he could never harm them again and placed him in a deep sleep before hiding him away.~

~And why does nopony mention this?~

~Celestia took great measures to make certain the human was forgotten.  She constructed a powerful spell that wiped the minds of the Equestrians of his existence and rewrote it with the old mare’s tale in its place.  Such was her effort that she had to take time to ward herself against the spell due to the fact that she had never cast something so powerful before.  Not even Nightmare Moon was beyond its scope.  Beyond myself, Azure Flora, and Celestia, no other being on Equestria remembers the strange visitor.~

~Why would she go to such trouble?~

~Because the human was the cause of it all.  If he had not been there, they would have continued on leading their simple happy lives, disasters not withstanding.  So, she removed him from the equation before bothering to pick up the pieces of her broken kingdom.~

~But the ponies are better off now, right?  I mean, I’ve not heard of any of these great disasters.  From what I understand, the Sky Archons do a very good job of protecting the land from whatever the Equestrian Guard can’t handle.~

~Which is likely why she didn’t banish you from Equestria the moment you arrived.~

~Point taken... At least she acknowledges the silver lining.  So, if this is all true, why are there so many Sky Archons today if Winter Sky died back then?~

~That was her one tribute to Winter Sky.  Well, she also intended to do more for him by taking care of his wife and their child.  She had planned to make his line a noble one that would be in her care for as long as she lived.~

~You say that like she didn’t.~

~Azure Flora, having been beyond the touch of magic, did not forget the human nor the effects his esoteric touch had on Equestria.  It did not take her long to discover that no other pony in Equestria had any recollection of the human.  Celestia sought her out, wanting to take the wife and child of Winter Sky into her care.  She felt guilty, you see.~

~Sounds like Celestia.~

~Yes, well, when she sent for them to be retrieved, only the child was found in the care of a nearby friend.~

~What happened to Flora?~

~I am not sure.  Perhaps you should ask her yourself the next time you speak to her.~

~Yeah, right.  She hates my guts.~

~On the contrary.  Azure Flora is not a cruel pony and doesn’t have a hateful bone in her little body.  She was heartbroken, homeless, widowed, and suddenly unable to take solace in her gardening.  You’ve seen what happens to the Equestrians when they cannot pursue that special talent that brings them inner joy, no doubt.~

~Cutie Mark Failure Insanity Syndrome?~

~That... That is the most... sickeningly detached name I’ve ever heard for such an awful condition.~

~Woah.  Sorry.  Just picked it up through the fandom.  Didn’t mean to step on toes.  So Azure Flora’s just really beat down by everything that happened.  I mean, I can definitely understand why she has such a beef with my presence.  I wouldn’t wish such things to happen to my worst enemy.~

~She is simply... saddened.  And has been for a very long time.  She ran away from everything she knew, unable to withstand the heartache of such turmoil.  She gave the blind foal to a friend in the next town, begging her to give him the life that she could not.  But he got one better when Celestia took the child into her own care.  He was raised as the Blind Prince of Equestria who later lived up to his father’s legacy.  He became the second Sky Archon and began to scour the lands for like-minded ponies who would take up such a selfless cause.  Celestia further supported the Sky Archons by blessing them with everlasting life and granting Storm Wing a place at her council.~


~That explains why Storm Wing’s so freakin’ ancient and why he’s so... dedicated to her.  She’s his adoptive mother.~

~Indeed.  So, perhaps the story does not end so badly.  The folly of Winter Sky, Celestia, and the Human may have been a tragedy to start, but in the end... Equestria thrives like never before.~

~Until Nightmare Sol.~

~Ah yes.  Quite a problem, that.  Perhaps you should do something about it.~

~I’ve every intention.~

~Of course you do.  Just remember something, my friend.~  

~Oh, we’re friends now.  That makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside I think I might burst into flames.  So, this thing I’m supposed to remember is...?~

~The road to hell is paved with good intentions.~

~Hello, Preacher.  Call me “The Choir.”~

He cut contact, unsurprisingly.  I opened my eyes, stuck in a pensive state as I gently went about washing myself (Not going into detail.  Don’t want to get anypony all worked up all for nothing!).  After I felt I was decently cleansed, I jumped out of the tub and began to reach for a towel before stopping and getting an idea.  With but a thought, I began to heat up all over and within seconds, I was steaming all over.  I stepped out of the bathroom and laughed as I pretty much made a sauna of Rarity’s living room.  I quickly piped down, remembering the crusaders were still in their vegetative states.  I walked over and resisted the urge to squee down at them, settling for just a happy smile.

I decided to go outside and see what I could do to help all the hard working ponies outside.  It was pretty easy, actually.  All I had to do was locate Twilight who instantly decided my talents would be to take her new magic torches that lasted for several days at a time and go put them all over the town to help illuminate the area.  This may come as a shock, but Appleloosa isn’t exactly small.  So it actually took me a good hour or two to take care of that, and shortly after my stomach began to grumble.  I was craving some fried chicken.  This made me sad because I couldn’t exactly go slaughter a chicken and clean it in front of everypony before throwing it in a vat of boiling oil.  I’d horrify the shit out of them, no doubt.  So instead I hunted down Applejack and got directed to the food line that had once been the saloon I was in earlier.  Nothing really out of the ordinary going on, unless you count Soarin stuffing his face full of some apple pie.  I wanted to go say something to him, but really, I was having a good time just chilling out.  I scanned the crowd of ponies for any faces I recognized and was surprised at just how many names I knew.

Octavia was standing at a table quietly enjoying a cup of what I presumed was tea along with North Star, Lyra, and Bon Bon.  I spotted Pokey Pierce nursing his teeth with a toothpick next to Big Mac, the two of them looking completely bored out of their skulls.  I spotted Diamond Tiara timidly sticking next to Cheerilee, obviously intimidated by her unfamiliar surroundings.  Almost everypony I’d ever seen was here and plenty more that I had never seen before.  Overall, they all seemed a bit put out that everything had changed so dramatically but they all seemed to generally be at ease at least.

Except one.  Everypony was off in a group or with at least one other pony but this one pony.  I didn’t like the bastard, but I remembered what it was like being the guy that was on his own in a crowd and there was nothing enviable about it.  After groaning at what I was about to do, I grabbed a pair of pies and made my way to him.  He was sitting at a table in the corner, looking... not downtrodden, but certainly unhappy.  He didn’t catch sight of me until I sat down and set his pie down in front of him.

“Hey,” I smirked at Prince Blueblood, “Sorry about the kick earlier.”

“Oh.  You,” he wasn’t exactly excited to see me, and who could blame him?

“Good to see you too, champ,” I said with a chuckle, using my magic to tear a chunk out of my pie and directing it into my mouth, “Why you sitting alone?”

“Because I choose to!” he huffed arrogantly, looking away.

“Only you didn’t choose that at all,” I smirked at him, causing him to toss an irritable glance my way, “So, may I ask you something, big guy?”

“My name is Prince Blueblood and you can refer to me as such!” he snapped angrily, refusing to face me.

“Whatever.  Luna ordered me to call her by her name, and I’m fairly certain you don’t outrank her so if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for you,” I pointed out, snagging another bite of my pie, “Eat, you stuck up, jerk.  I brought you that pie because I give a damn, in case you couldn’t tell!”

“You... You what?” he seemed taken back by my words.

“I said I care, now eat your pie and let’s have some small talk,” I said between bites.

It took him a minute to register what I was saying.  He eventually looked down at the pie and cringed a bit, “But it’s a... peasant dish.”

“And you’re above eating that?” I gave him a bored look to let him know that I wasn’t impressed.

“Yes!” he proclaimed happily, as if I had suddenly seen everything the way it was.

“Yesterday I made biscuits and gravy.  More plain and cheap than that apple pie in front of you.  Guess what.  Luna ate them and was quite happy to do so.  So if Luna knows enough humility to be able to eat biscuits and gravy, then you can learn enough to choke down some lovingly made apple pie,” I rebuked his entire idea before clearing my throat and continuing, “Unless you’re trying to say you’re better than the current ruler of Equestria.”

I don’t know how his pale coat got any paler, but it did.  He downright blanched at the idea of such news going around.  With that, he magically cut himself a small square and floated it into his mouth.  I could have sworn I was asking him to drink poison, he grimaced so badly.  After a few seconds, he began to chew more quickly and seemed less distraught, but he still frowned.

“Not bad, eh?” I said with a smirk.

“I suppose it is... adequate... for a peasant’s dish,” he murmured, helping himself to a larger bite.

For a while we didn’t say anything.  Deep down, I really did feel sorry for him, despite his horseassery in the past.  He probably had been raised that way likely out of a backwater upbringing that his parents forced upon him, simply because of their status.  Whatever the case, kicking him in the face may have been in order once, but everyone deserves a chance after they get their comeuppance, and since he definitely got his, he was good to go in my book..  I was there to give it to him at high velocity!

He finally broke the silence with a cough, “So, Captain Storm Wing speaks highly of you.”

“Okay, now I know you’re full of it,” I chuckled through a bite of pie.

“I’m quite serious,” he crossed his legs indignantly and hmf’d at me.

“No kidding?” I smirked, tilting my head in slight surprise, “He’s a jerk, but... He’s a pretty solid pony to have at your back.”

“Which is why he wouldn’t arrest you when I saw you earlier today, refusing my order,” he seemed more surprised than upset.

“Well, no offense, Blue, but that’s a bunk order to start with.  I’ve done nothing wrong and I’ve done everything I can to help,” I tried to defend myself a bit, looking down somewhat, “Even though it wasn’t enough.”

“I saw you playing around out here with children.  Rolling about in the dirt and causing a great embarrassing scene,” he continued, now looking at me in a bit of confusion, “And rather than think of you as just some silly unicorn that never outgrew his childhood, everypony found you endearing and kind to spend time with the little ones.”

“Oh... Um.  Kids are cool,” I chuckled a tad, grimacing at how dumb I probably did look.

“And shortly after you kicked me in the face, you left and returned with dear Luna safe and sound, if a bit shaken,” he narrowed his eyes at me finally, “And here you sit before me, acting as though you were not the one to kick me in face just a few days ago.”

“Well, you did deserve it.  Unless you deserve another one, I don’t see any reason to kick you again,” I made my comment boring and nonchalant.

“And I’ve also heard that Luna is somewhat taken with you?” he pushed leaning over the table between us a tad, “Even though the event that changed her would have never happened if you had not come here.”

“Where’d you hear that?  Is this a public knowledge thing now?” I was pretty certain that that (grammatically correct double that!) had only happened a few days ago, “And where are you even going with this?”

“A pony named Grapevine is good at what she does,” he explained with a flip of his hoof, “And what I’m getting at is that you’ve caused problems, acted ridiculously, disregarded the natural order of authority, and yet you seem to blend with everypony seemlessly as though you were royalty.”

“What does royalty have to do with anything?” I asked, tilting my head in confusion, “Luna disregards formality and is quite silly as well.”

“I’m starting to realize that, too!” he started to droll in frustration, “It’s as though she cares nothing for her station and acting with propriety.”

“Blue, here, let me lay it out for you,” I said with a sigh, “Watch Luna and what she does.  Watch how she interacts with everypony, watch how she approaches a situation, and definitely take note of how she will likely put the common pony above herself.  Do you know why she would do that?”

“Not the slightest, I must admit.  As a royal member, she must dignify herself according to her role as a princess, don’t you think?” he asked, crossing his hooves again.

I made a motion and sound as though I were pressing a buzzer, “Wrong!  Let me drop a hint.  The best governments are the ones that serve the people.  A king that works to make the lives of his people better is the best king you could possibly have.  And I think Luna knows that.  And the sooner you figure out how to do that, the sooner you won’t have to worry about... oh... getting kicked in the face by a complete stranger?”

Blueblood stared at me as though I had stomped all over his precious little vision on the standard operating procedure of life.  His jaw was somewhat hanging and his eyes were staring right through me.

“Look,” I said with a chuckle, “I’ll put it this way.  Royalty is only as valuable to the people as he makes himself.  In the eyes of everypony, Rarity is more valuable to the people for helping to save Equestria from Nightmare Moon.  Maybe if you tried helping some ponies, you would actually be the prince you were meant to be.”

“You expec-...” he started to say, but I cut him off with a shake of my head.

“Just think about it, brony.  I’m going to go see about getting a drink and I’ll probably get distracted on the way.  Maybe I’ll go roll in the dirt or something.  You should give it a try sometime,” I said with a chuckle before finishing the last bite of my pie, “Take care, Prince Blueblood.”

“I... … Umm... Farewell... Fireball, was it?” he nodded, too preoccupied with his thoughts to even

wave at me.

“Close enough,” I said with a laugh before heading back up to the food line.  Applejack was behind the counter with a few family members from the apple family.  She called me over as soon as she saw me in line, but I declined, waiting for my turn.  Being stubborn and impatient, she hopped over the counter with a large mug of apple juice in her maw.  She nearly knocked a couple of ponies over as she made her way over, but she looked tired, probably having been working all day long.  I blinked as she approached but she held it out to me, silently asking me to take it.  I magick’d it out of her grasp and looked at it with curiosity.

“Thanks, AJ, but you didn’t have to bring it out to me,” I said with a modest chuckle, “I’m not opposed to waiting my turn.”

“That’s from th’princess, ya durned goof!” she explained with a grin, taking her hat off and batting me with it playfully with an overenthusiastic giggle, “She said you would like it.  A taste of home, she called it!”

“Oh god, she put roofies in it, didn’t she,” I stared at it in horror.

“Ya’ll drink that!  She made it jus’fer you!” Applejack ordered brazenly, a slight blush adoring her cute freckles.  It took me a moment to get it, but surely enough, when Applejack gave a slight hiccup, my eyes became as big as saucers.

“What?  Applejack... How many hooves am I holding up?” I held up one hoof.

“What!?  Well if’n ya stop movin’m I could tell ya!” she proclaimed before grabbing my one hoof to presumably hold it still, “Oh!  One!”

“Judas on a ho, you are drunk,” my mind was blown.  Super blown.  I didn’t have any mind left to blow away anymore.  I looked into the glass and gave it a taste, confirming my horrific suspicions.  Hard Apple Cider.

“What?  No, Ah’m Applejack!” she laughed before giving me a playful push, “Ya’ll need to learn how to remember a name, No-Name... Err... Firewall.”

“You’re Appledrunk is what you are.  Take me to Luna,” I demanded softly before having to give her a push of my head to get her moving.

“Wo-ho there, loverboy.  Ah’m more of a lady than that, y’see,” she sputtered out a giggle before moving along on her own.

“So am I,” I said with a grin, “Now take me to the Princess already.”

“Alright, alright,” she replied with a grin, “To the princess we’re a’goin’.”

As I drank, Applejack haphazardly led me through the crowd and out the back to the Town Square (This must be where they square dance.  BADA FREAKIN DUM PSHHH~!) where Luna and Cookie were stacking up large barrels.  By the time I made my way to her, I had drained my mug and sighed in exasperation (Well, it wasn’t like I was going to let it go to waste!).  They had been working around a large fire and while Luna mostly focused upon casting spells and moving the barrels, Cookie was hard at work pouring and serving mugs to everypony that approached the table he was at.

“Firewall!” she exclaimed happily, spotting me just in time, “Did you like your present?”

“Luna, what is this?” I pointed at Applejack.

“Ah’m Applejack,” Applejack looked confused, giving me a suspicious stare, “Ya’ll uh... … Ya’ll ain’t very good with them names.... are ya?”

“Correct, you are Applejack,” she smiled brightly at AJ before looking at me, “That’s Applejack, Firewall.  I’m glad you two have met~!”

“No, this is Appledrunk,” I refuted them both.

“Appledrunk!” Luna gave a laugh, “I like it!  Lemme try one... Oh!  Rainbow Smashed!”

Despite myself, I busted out into laughter.  Then came another Lafter vs. Stoic moment.  Stoic was pretty damn sure that getting ponies drunk during such dire times was a bad idea.  A very bad idea.  Lafter, on the other hand, liked him some drinking and silly phonetic play.

“Raritipsy?” I said before shaking it off and putting my serious face on, “This can’t be a good time for this, you know.”

“Why not?” she asked with a happy smile on her face.

“What if Nightmare Sol attacks?” I asked with a suspicious look, “Duh?”

“With the moon up?  Hah!  She’s not so stupid.  Trust me, I’m not going to be drinking, so I’ll be able to watch over the town,” she insisted with a nod, “So have fun.  Here!”

She took my mug and filled it back up from a nearby tapped barrel.

“If I had any reason to doubt, I wouldn’t do this, Firewall,” she handed it back to me with a smile, “Trust me.”

“Fair enough,” I said with a nod before letting my mind wander to ponies that could use a drink.  I instantly thought of Starlight and began to wonder where I could find her before getting distracted by Luna’s poke.

“What’s on your mind?” she asked.  Apparently, my face was reflecting my thoughts.

“Nothing, really.  You know, I wouldn’t think alcoholic beverages existed in Equestria,” I said with a hesitant laugh, taking my mug and taking a swig, “Not that I’m complaining.”

“They don’t,” she said with a proud smirk, “I just searched the chemical composition of Hard Apple Cider and figured we could all use something to take the edge off.”

“So they do exist.  And you are now more OP than Twilight,” I said with a laugh, smiling as the relaxing sensation of alcohol set down into my shoulders and began to spread.

“They do now, I suppose,” she gave a wing shrug, still smirking, “And thanks, I guess?”

Our conversation was interrupted by a crash.  Specifically Storm Wing’s crash.  He had landed right in front of us and I looked up to see Rainbow Dash pointing down at him, laughing hysterically.  Storm Wing got back up and I was shocked to see a telltale blush upon his face.

“This apple juice tastes funny,” he murmured before reaching out to grab my mug, which I held away from him.  He grabbed at the same spot a few times before blinking in confusion, “Wait... I can’t sense anything anymore!  I’m blind!”

“Holy crap, Storm, how many have you had!?” I laughed as I handed him a new mug, which shut him the hell up.  So instead I directed a question to Luna, “And how many did you make?!”

“Well, there are a lot of ponies here and I didn’t want anypony to feel left out,” she motioned to the entire stack of barrels behind us.

That... was a lot of hooch.

“What part of ‘let us get the entire town smashed’ sounded like a good idea to you!?” I exclaimed, half laughing, half serious.

“The part where Captain Storm Wing finally lets his hair down?” she pointed to the Archon as he got back up and shook his head a bit.

“Granted, that does sound like a good idea, but still,” I gave a chuckle, holding out a hoof to steady the poor idiot as he nearly fell back down, “You play a dangerous game, Luna.  A very, very dangerous game.”

“You like it,” she winked at me slyly, causing me to blush a bit, I’m sure.

“Maybe a little,” I countered with a smile, winking back.

“Firewall,” Storm Wing mumured, leaning on me a bit.

“If you say,  ‘I love you, man’ I’m going to drop you and leave you here,” I warned him with a poke.

“No... What?  What?  No, nothing like that.  I... I need help getting... out of this armor,” he said with an enthusiastic nod, “Please?”

“Yeah sure,” I looked up at the still cackling Rainbow Dash, “Hey!  Dashy!”

“Hey Firewall!” she called back, doing a lazily slow loop.

“Rainbow Ponies are the best ponies!” I called out to her.

“I know, right!” she laughed as she descended, “So what’s up?”

“Can you find Starlight for me?  She needs to have one of these,” I pointed to the mugs on the table that Cookie was working at, “Maybe a couple, even.  Could you get her some?  She’s probably feeling a little down.  Very down, actually.  Promise me, okay?  She just lost somepony close to her.”

“Oh... Well, yeah!  That, I can do!” Dash’s enthusiasm was only outdistanced by her seriousness on the matter.  She gave a salute and blazed away, leaving her signature rainbow trail behind her as she flew.  (HOW DO YOU DO THAT WITH NO SUNLIGHT?!  EQUESTRIA Y U NO LIKE PHYSICS?)

“Thanks, champ.  C’mon, Storm.  Go stand over there by that fire and I’ll get us a few more drinks,” I gave him a shove and he nearly fell on his face before complying.  As he planted himself on the log, I turned to Luna, “I need lots of water and normal appl-...”

She floated a pair of kegs over near the fire and nodded, “Done.”

“You’re awesome,” I gave her a hug and trotted over to Storm Wing.

Luckily, getting armor off and on isn’t really that difficult and mixing watered down apple juice did fool Storm Wing into thinking he was still getting drunk.  As the time passed, we didn’t really talk much.  He just sat there, quiet with the exception of the occasional pointer.  He gave a nod as I finally got off the helmet (that was actually rather complicated) and murmured his gratitude.

“No problem,” I took a swig of real cider and handed him another fake one, sitting myself on the log beside him, “So... You’re pretty quiet all of a sudden.”

“I know... I’m just... s... a little scared is all,” he murmured through his drunken haze.

“The Mighty Storm Wing?  Scared?” I gave a laugh, pointing at him as he knocked back his virgin drink, “No way, you’re the greatest Sky Archon ever!”

“Couldn’t protect her,” he shook his head emphatically.

“Whatever, Storm.  It wasn’t our fault.  We got outplayed so we’re going to have to step up our game and give it right back,” I shook my head and sighed, “Just let it go.”

“Yeah... Yeah, you’re right.  Hate it when you’re right,” he chuckled softly.

“You’re a big boy, you can handle it,” I countered before staring up at the beautiful night sky, “Stars are lovely today.”

“I wouldn’t know,” he laid down next to the fire and sighed, “Never seen’m.”

I grimaced a tad before shaking my head with a snicker, “Sorry, mate.  Small price to pay for being as awesome as you are.”

“I’ll trade you,” he uttered softly, catching me off guard.  I looked over at his helmet and felt a pang deep inside my chest, understanding somewhat.  No amount of power or authority was ever going to make up for being unable to see.  I watched Luna stack the last of the barrels up, having changed them all over finally and began to wonder if it bothered her that her beautiful sky couldn’t be appreciated by a certain pony.

“Sorry, mate,” I offered, my buzz a little killed.

“Don’t be,” he sighed softly as Luna started to head our way, “The princess is coming.”


“I see her,” I answered.

“She likes you,” he decided to point out just in case I was a complete idiot.

“I know,” I replied softly as she neared.

“You don’t sound happy about that,” he lifted his head to look my way.

“I’m torn on the subject,” I explained, my voice even lower as she arrived.  I raised my volume considerably as she got within reasonable distance, “Hey Luna.”

“Good.  That means you’re not stupid,” he sighed as he looked back at her (yes, I know he wasn’t technically ‘looking’ per say.  Shush.), “Hello P... Luna.”

“Hello gentlecolts, what’cha talking about?” she smiled happily at us.

“Storm Wing can’t see stars,” I said the first thing that came to mind, “I was mocking him for his disability.”

“That’s quite mean, Firewall,” she said with a disapproving glare before looking down at Firewall, “Storm Wing, would you like to see the stars?”

He blinked, somewhat caught off guard, “What?”

“Answer the question.  Would you like to see the stars?” she said simply, “I’ll try to fashion you a spell to allow you to see somehow if you like.  I didn’t think you cared.”

Storm Wing blinked a few times before setting his head down, shaking it softly, “No, thank you.  I appreciate the offer, I really do.  But I would rather not.  It’s hard to explain, but I think it’s best that I not be given something that I would only miss later.”

Luna was a bit shocked at his response, but nodded with a sad sigh, “Very well, Storm Wing.  If you ever change your mind.”

“You’ll know.  I’ll probably come running to you like a little school filly,” he said with a chuckle.  Most of his slurring had dissipated by this point, the alcohol having been a bit diluted by the water and juice.

“That’ll be the day.  Be sure to keep a camera on you,” I suggested.  

Chapter 8                                                                                Chapter 10

Parting Notes:  Almost 16k words, bronies.  X.x  I’m taking a break for the next few days to let the creative juices build back up.  Don’t worry, there will be more to come. :3  It’ll just be a bit later than usual.  No sneak peak this time!  >:3  You got an extra long chapter, so be happeh! <3


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Ten: What’s That Chapter?  Kill Them All?  GOOD IDEA!

Go Go Author Page!  Form Blazing Commentary!  BWOOOOONG~!

So let’s start with last chapter and the copious amount of errors you’ve no doubt spotted.  It goes like this:  I posted the chapter for the proofies and sent it to Sethisto for posting in the queue.  I figured we had plenty of time since it usually takes a thirty-six hours or more for it to appear on EQD~!  Imagine my surprise when it posted less than two hours later, courtesy of Sethisto’s kindness.  Maybe he reads this fic or just had a spontaneous moment to throw it up there.  Who knows, right?  Anyway~!  It was a mad scramble to get it edited and posted.  Surely enough, we powerhoused through it and got that shite done in record time.

Then tragedy struck.  Google Docs was having technical issues and started reverting to earlier saves... Saves that were sans editing.  >.<  It hurt right there in my soul.  So I edited it again.  And again.  And again.  And even still, it reverted to a save not too long ago where it was in the middle of editing.  WierdPlatformer (no typo) suggested that I take it down long enough to get it to stick, but I love my readers more than I love formality, thus I left it up there and took the embarrassment.  :( :( :(

Onto more bad news!  Comcast sucks.  Badly.  While their service was extremely reliable in the Internet department (not so much for cable), we were given a bottom line on our bill which was roughly half of what we were actually getting charged.  We dropped them.  Unfortunately, I was in the middle of this chapter when we lost our connection, so I’ve literally been staying after work for hours on end to finish this bad boy up for you guys.  Because I love you, remember? :D  However, the boss says that’s no bueno and that I need to go home.  Not because he’s a jerk, but he does after hours work from our main station and can’t do so with me hogging it up to write pony stuffies.  :3  So until internet comes back, I’m going to be stuck unable to write for a bit, which is okay for me because I just uploaded 20,000 words in a single chapter.  I need time to recuperate!  Badly! XD

Less bad news!  Ragnarok222 and Bugsydor have set up a DeviantArt page for all the fan art!  http://firewall-club.deviantart.com/  That’s not bad news at all!  That’s awesome news!  :D Yeehaw~!  That’s the way t’do it!  You guys are welcome to upload anything you like fic related, ask whatever questions you want, and comment on anything and everything!  Just submit yourself for an invite and you’re in!

Even more awesome news!!! Bugsydor, Waffle911, Maenarion, and many more have set up a TVTropes page that is editable by anypony that wants to take part. :D Link Is Here!  This stuff excites me!  It makes me happy that there’s a small community building within a community!  Maybe we’ll be a small country within a great empire and go attack the Prussians or something! Waaauuugh!

Oh!  FimFlam released episode 10 of Mentally Advanced!  :D  I love that parody series, it’s frigg’n amazing!  This episode was such a great one, too!  When Twilight made Applebloom cry and she started realizing she was turning into Trollestia, I couldn’t stop laughing.  Props to that guy for his hard work to make a more snarky/mature themed MLP.  *RBD Salute*

Let’s see, what else is shaking?  That’s all?  Hmmm... Oh well, I’ve run out of nonsense to feed you.

THEN IN THAT CASE, HAVE SOME EPIC FAN ART!  All of these images can be found at deviant art!  So if you like them, show the artists some love and comment on their stuff, alright? :D  Today’s art is brought to you by  IceStormBoarder, Wrek, and Sir Cinnamon!

BOOOOOYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! Over 100,000 words!  How is that not mindblowing!?

This will make sense soon enough.

AZURE FLORA!  Y U SO ADORABLE?!

Nightmare Moon wishes she was this awesome.  Because she isn’t.

Holy hell, there’s a nyancat back there!

Ice Pony is so scarey... At least he’s protective of the prettiest pony ever! :3

So, you probably know the routine pretty well by this point.  The routine being what I do when I wake up.  I mean, it was never listed out before, but generally the first ten minutes of every day consist of this:

Step One: Yawn and stretch all over.

Step Two:  Pull out a cigarette and light up.

Step Three:  ????? Find food while/after burninating the cigarette.

Step Four:  Profit.

That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?  You know what that doesn’t involve?  That doesn’t involve preceding steps.  Meaning I’m supposed to get up... when I want to.  But noooo~!  That’s not good enough for ponies.  Do you know why that’s not good enough for ponies?  ME NEITHER!

“AH SAID WAKE UP!” Applejack hollered, ringing the world’s largest triangle next to my head.

I lazily opened an eye before rolling over and smacking my dry lips a few times.  She’d been at it for a while.  It was like she took it as a personal challenge to wake me up, but it just wasn’t happening though.  I was enjoying my sleep on this incredibly comfortable log just on the edge of the apple orchard and I had no plans to change this winning strategy.  I don’t know why I was suddenly opposed to sleeping indoors, but being a pony had certainly changed my perspective on where you went to have a good time (it was rarely inside unless there was a party involved, by the way).

“Ugh,” she sighed.  I heard her drop the triangle as she groaned in frustration, “Firewall, I’ve got the biggest headache ever and ya ain’t makin’ it any easier on me.  Now tell me how to git rid’a it!”

“Mmm?” I actually lifted my head in slight confusion, “Mmmhoo told you I’d be able to help with a headache?”

“Luna did!”

Of course she did.

“That little... Ugh, whatever.  S’called a hangover,” I murmured to her, cursing that indigo alicorn for spoiling a good rest with her trollery.  

“Beg yer pardon?” she asked me as I rolled back over lazily.

“You drank too much cider last night.  The stuff that made you act so silly,” I yawned again, wiping at my eyes with a smirk, “And now you’re experiencing the magic of hangovers.  S’like the magic of friendship, only less subtle and more painful.”

“I don’t rightly care what it’s called, sugarcube!  Oh mah stars,” she gasped, rubbing her head in frustration, “How d’ya make it stop?”

I blinked and sighed before rolling off the log that I had spent the night on.  I hit the ground gracefully (meaning like a rock) before yawning one last time and getting to my feet.  Hooves.  Whatever.

“AJ, I just want you to know, I’m showing lots of love by actually getting up to help you,” I mumbled sleepily before initiating Step Two: Pull out a cigarette.

“All Ah had to do was ask nicely?” she groaned, shaking her head before instantly regretting that, “Ah rang that dumb triangle fer nothin’?”

“Affirmative.” I lit that puppy up before initiating Step Three. “Okay, basically, we gotta get some greasy food.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a McDonald’s in Appleloosa, so we’re going to have to go to the expert.  Because I really don’t feel like cooking.”

“Have a what now?” she looked at me in confusion.

In my tired haze, I almost said ‘a restaurant that kills and serves chickens, pigs, and cows as food.’  Thankfully, I didn’t let that slip and instead just shook my head.

“Nothing.” I yawned one last time before getting to my feet. “Let’s just go see a pony that can do something about it.”

Five minutes later~

“Cookie!” I cried out, causing Applejack to wince, “Oh... Sorry.”

“S’alright there, darlin’.” She strained to smile at me.

We were back in that food line that had once been the saloon/bar-thingy.  Fortunately, only a few ponies seemed to have overindulged during the night (or day, I really wasn’t able to track time anymore thanks to the never ending night (Looks like Nightmare Moon finally got her wish!) and NOT HAVING MY CELL PHONE).  Cookie was hard at work, feeding what few ponies were in the line before us with an assortment of salads, baked goods, and the occasional bowl of candied carrots.  As always, he was too busy to be bothered and merely waved at us, not even looking our way.

“AJ, use your feminine wiles on him,” I ordered jokingly as the ponies slowly moved along.

“Ah’m sorry, we’ve not met.  Ah’m Applejack.  Not Rarity.  Ah’m not about to shake my tail just’a get a special order,” she griped under her breath.

“Man, you’re mean with your hangover gremlins,” I pointed out, a little surprised at her edgy response. “That was pretty harsh.”

She instantly looked as though she’d just cashed a reality check and was downcast with regret.

“That was an awful thing ta say,” she murmured softly, “Rarity didn’t deserve that a’tall.”

“I should hardly think not.” Rarity surprised us both by stepping alongside Applejack and frowning a tad, “I admit, I’m still in shock from such cruel words, Applejack.”

“Rarity!  Ah... Ah didn’t mean it, I s-swear!” Applejack shook her head, regretting that action upon holding a hoof to her head, “Ahhh~...”

Rarity looked to me for an explanation, somewhat nonplussed.

“She’s a little ill from too much partying last night,” I supplied truthfully enough, “and it’s put her in a bad mood.”

“Ah promise, Ah’m just cranky, Rarity,” Applejack risked opening an eye, still looking downtrodden, “Forgive me?”

“Nopony is perfect all the time, there’s nothing to forgive amongst friends,” Rarity said with a smile, now a bit more understanding of the situation.  She even gave AJ a friendly nuzzle before looking over to Cookie, “Now, it seems you need something particular supplied by our tireless chef here?”

Okay, Rarity was seriously trying to push Rainbow Dash out of first place in my book.  I mean, I’m a really forgiving person, and I’ve been on the receiving end of close personal friends throwing me under the bus behind my back, so I can attest:  It’s harder than it looks to simply let it go so quickly.

“Yeah, the quickest way, in my experience, to get rid of what AJ’s got is to eat a lot of greasy food.  Don’t ask how, I don’t know why, it was a trade secret passed down by a friend who does a lot of partying.” I really did have no clue as to how it worked.  It might have magical properties for all I knew. “So we were going to beseech our good friend Cookie and beg for special treatment.”

“Well, shall I ‘wave my tail’ and see what I can get done?” Rarity winked at Applejack, who in turn blushed shamefully.

“Applejack, I think you just got burned,” I chuckled, nudging her shoulder, “and I consider myself an expert on burning.”

Within a few more moments, we approached the food line and nodded at the yellow and white pony working furiously to fill orders AND cook.  The dude had earned his place as the royal chef, it seemed.  You don’t often see an Earth Pony with such talent, due to the fact that their magic was limited in certain areas, but Cookie definitely had it.

“Hello, Firewall,” he said with a tired nod, “What can I get you?”

“Hey, Cookie, you alright?  C’mon, girls, let’s step to the side while he serves other ponies.” I pulled them along, letting the line continue.

“I’m pretty tired.” He shrugged, letting us know he was still, more or less, good to go.

“You need a break?” I was rather concerned.  I didn’t know Cookie that well, but he came off to me as a workaholic kinda pony and would sooner pass out than let a job go unfinished.

“Not at all.” He shook his head, declining my offer to help. “I only just started, after all.”

“Yeah, but you’ve been wor-...” I started to contest his claim before getting an interrupting poke from Rarity’s horn.

“Ahem.” She gave a suggestive cough, reminding me that we were on a mission.

“Oh, right.  Hey, Cookie, we need a special order for Applejack.” I put on a pleading pout-face.

Cookie did not look pleased by this concept, but he did not immediately voice an objection.  After a few moments, he sighed and ran a hoof through his stark white mane.

“I’m rather busy, so if it’s not important,” he said, making sure to clarify from the start that he wasn’t going to be indulging anypony who didn’t care for what was on the menu.

“Oh, heavens, good sir, nothing along the lines of the whimsical.” Rarity butted in, smiling her blue-ribbon smile. “You see, my friend here is very ill, and she needs to eat a certain kind of food.”

“And sooner rather than later,” Applejack whined with a scowl, “Ah’m not sure just how much more’a this a pony can take.”

“Not to mention it’s likely more ponies are going to be showing up feeling likewise, so this may help make your day easier in the long run?” I suggested whilst smiling helplessly.

“Let’s hear it already,” Cookie served a plateful of candied carrots to the next pony in line before looking to us with a smirk, “And if it’s for the health of some lovely mare, I think I can help.”

Cookie Da Playah~!  Applejack blushed before pulling her hat down a bit, smiling a tad despite her unenviable situation.  We broke it down for him, and while he was skeptical at first, he took me at my word and surprised us with an awesome funnel cake of great proportions.  AJ dug in lazily as Rarity and I chowed down on some candied carrots (which were like candied yams, only superior in every sense of the word!  Cookie can cook for me any day he wants to.  No more of this “I’m independent, I wanna do it myself~!” nonsense.).  She was very disappointed when it didn’t work immediately, but after about fifteen minutes of complaining, she was definitely perking up.

“So, AJ, Cookie dropped a line on you,” I reminded her with a wink, “Whaddya think, Rare, he doesn’t look too bad.  Maybe I need a lady’s eye to make a better assumption.”

“Which I can happily supply.” We were both enjoying Applejack’s silent blush.  Rarity looked his way with a speculative expression. “Hmmm.  Well, one must take into account all the subtle details.  Such as how well kept his mane is.”

I gave her a look of askance, not entirely following her line of thinking.

“It ain’t all about looks, Rarity,” AJ pointed out, a little displeased with her supposed line of thinking, “Colts kin look just fine and still be... less than desirable.  Not that... Aww... Shoot.”

Apparently, Cookie looks 'just fine' in Applejack's book.

“Oh, Applejack, there’s so much one can learn about a pony by just watching.  Subtle details, darling, just look at him,” she pressed with a knowing smile, “Really, look at his mane and tell me what you see.”

I looked for a bit myself.  His white mane was actually surprisingly well kept for a chef.  It was long like Twilight’s but not frazzled or matted with sweat in the least.

“Looks fine enough, Ah suppose,”  Applejack responded with a raised eyebrow.

“Indeed, but it is clean.  Very clean.  Note also his expression.   How he’s not glaring intensely, but is simply without expression at all,” Rarity further pursued, “Not to mention how he’s not covered in grime or grease.”

“Ah see whatcha mean, but Ah’m not sure where we’re gettin’ at with this,” Applejack began to scrutinize him a bit more intently.

“Just from that, you can tell that he’s exceptionally skilled and dedicated to his trade,” Rarity said with a self-appreciating nod, “and that he has a token amount of appreciation for his appearance.  He’s confident, capable, and enduring, you see.  Anypony that isn’t so skilled would be sweating in a hot kitchen with their hair pulled back and their eyes scowling in a fierce determination, but Cookie doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any such difficulties in the least, other than a bit of fatigue from working so long.  Almost reminds me of you, Applejack.”

Applejack continued to blush as she contemplated how she would respond to the subject.  She did try to speak a few times, but she only managed to stutter out a few words before blushing even more.  She actually began to frown, obviously not comfortable with our treatment.

“You turn any redder, AJ, and Red Delicious is going to have to think up a new name,” I said with a chuckle before batting at her hat to get her attention, “Hey, don’t sweat it.  It ain’t like we’re asking you to go over and see if he’s single.  Relax.  You feeling any better, at least?”

“Startin’ t’get that way,” she murmured, smiling appreciatively, “Mah head don’t hurt at least.  Just’a little queasy.”

“Probably just from so much funnel cake,” I nodded before getting up, “Alright, gals, I’ll leave you two to analyze Cookie s’more.  Gotta see if Twilight kin use my help before attempting to go back t’sleep.”

I inwardly winced at how quickly I picked my southern accent back up.  Growing up in Florida has that effect on you.  It has every kind of accent you could imagine and growing up there simply teaches you how to quickly pick them up.  It sounds two-faced, to be sure, but really it’s more along the lines of just respecting a person enough to identify with them.  That’s how I always viewed it, anyway.

With a tummy full of candied carrots, I left the saloon/food bar thing and began to look around for Twilight.  Looking down the street back towards the Town Square (Where they square dance), I spotted her and Luna on a soap box along with a crowd of ponies that surrounded them.  It wasn’t just a handful asking what job they needed to handle next, it was much more.  Almost a hundred of them, and I was probably low-balling that.  I made my way over to the herd and watched with confusion as they all scampered off the street and out in front of shops.  At first, I thought I had caused all the commotion, but as they dispersed, I noticed Storm Wing (sans armor!) and Rainbow Dash standing beside one another, looking up to Twilight and Luna.  There were tons of hushed whispers that I couldn’t make out, so I decided to try my usual approach.


“Hey.  Whaz everyponeh doin’?” I called out loudly, interrupting likely every train of thought within earshot.

“Hey, Firewall,” Luna smiled upon seeing me approach, “We’re going to have a race.”

“Seems Rainbow Dash can’t keep her big mouth shut.” Twilight further clarified with an amused roll of her eyes.

“Oh, I’m sure Captain Jackpony here didn’t do anything to provoke her,” I walked up and smiled at the two pegasi, “Seriously, though, both of you have the elephant sized egos and a lot of speed to back it up.  Keep in mind, you just might hurt the other pony’s feelings if you win.”

“I’m so okay with that.” Dash snorted challengingly.


“I hope she cries,” Storm Wing said as he failed to resist the urge to smirk.

“Oh, we’ll see who cries." Dash winked.

“I’ve not cried in over nine hundred years,” Storm pointed out with a laugh, “If you do win, which you won’t, I’ll just have to see about making space in the Archons for you.”

I shuddered at the idea.  Rainbow Dash, the Sky Archon.  Loud, brash, and fast as hell was bad enough without teaching it how to channel lightning or throw tornadoes about.

“Hah!  Maybe if you fly half as good as the Wonderbolts!” she countered brazenly.

That’s when I noticed Storm Wing’s Cutie Mark.  It WAS a Wonderbolts’ insignia.  See, I had seen a few of the Wonderbolts here and there outside of their suits.  They have their own cutie marks.  I didn’t want to point this out and psyche out Dash in the process, so I simply sat on that knowledge and stepped aside.  Twilight drew a starting line in the dirt for them as they braced down for takeoff.  Rainbow Dash flapped her wings, smirking proudly as she let a sort of rainbow haze trail off and sparkle fancifully as it faded.  Storm Wing, not able to see the details of her trick but able to sense the magic, pawed at the ground a bit before looking Dash’s way.  His mane and tail fanning out as he slowly charged the air about him.  With a final stomp, the electricity sparked around him brightly, crackling loudly as the audience responded with your typical sounds of awe.  Oooo~  Ahhhh~... Whatever.  Screw Captain Storm Wing for showing up Dashy in the showpony round.

“Just wait.  Any second now they’re going to throw themselves at each other,” Twilight said with an exasperated sigh.

Luna let out a laugh, thoroughly enjoying the competitive air, “Question is, will it be to kiss each other or kill each other?”

“I’m not sure and I’m not sure I want to know,” Twilight answered, which rather perfectly reflected my feelings on the matter.

“So, what’s with the crowd?  It’s not like we can watch them fly around in the dead of night, right?” I asked the two of them.

“New spell time!” Luna explained, her visage revealing her enthusiasm, “Are you ready?”

“My body is
so ready!” I replied with a big smile, “Are we going to get Pay-Per-View?”

“Not sure what that is, but apparently this is another trick inspired by Luna’s... otherworldly influences,” Twilight said with a one-legged shrug, “So here goes.”

As Twilight began to cast her spell at Rainbow Dash, Luna did likewise at Storm Wing.  The two ponies began to glow their respective fur coat colors, white and blue.

“Okay, that’s a step-up.” I nodded, “But what’s that got to do with human culture?”

Then they cast a spell together that created a large glass ball in the air that hovered over Town Square.  It was roughly about the size of one of those screens in a sports stadium.  Looking back now, after everything that had happened, it didn’t impress me very much in all actuality.  I mean, yeah, I was definitely surprised, but you’d be shocked to discover how quickly one becomes numb to the surprises of magic.

“TV?” I gaped, my eyes widening as the glass ball displayed an exact replica of Rainbow Dash and Storm Wing at the starting line.

“TV,” Luna confirmed with a proud smile.

“This is how you... observed us, Firewall?” Twilight stared at the ball skeptically. “Seems highly impractical.”

“Well, the ones on Earth were generally rectangular and could get as small as a hoof or as big as a house,” I clarified a bit, “But that’s the general i-...”

“Today, please!” Rainbow Dash called out, her glaring smile letting us know that she was eager to get this race on the road.  (Or Sky, whatever.)

“Oh, hold your horses!” Twilight called back, shaking her head with a sigh, “Let’s get this over with, everypony.  ON YOUR MARK!”

They braced themselves down at the line once more.

“GET SET!” Twilight cried enthusiastically.

“This is gonna be good,” I murmured softly.

“GO!”

And they were off!  To my shame, I blinked and missed it.  Not the entire race, but their take off.  I quickly looked at the globe and watched in awe as the two ponies soared like rockets with their own personal sets of afterburners.  The ‘track’ was actually a set of waypoints that had to be flown through all around town.  There were roughly two dozen of them and they were arranged in an erratic order that forced a few loops, hair pins, and two long straightaways.

“The race is ON, everypony!” I heard Pinkie Pie squeal above the crowd, sitting on top of one of the house’s second story balcony with a megaphone. “It’s Rainbow Dash in the lead around the first curve!  Obviously, she has as leg up on maneuverability, but it seems Stormy is able to gain lost ground in the straightaways!”

Pinkie was right.  I was constantly looking back and forth between the globe and the pair of lights burning up the sky, and while Storm Wing was gaining a lot of ground during any point in which he wasn’t turning, the first hairpin had definitely slowed him down.  As he started to catch up, though, Dash put herself in front of him and kept herself there, able to turn more quickly than he was.

“Dashy’s not giving it up easy!  She’s making it hard to get around, but... OH!  That’ll teach HER not to underestimate the competition!” Pinkie was bouncing emphatically, looking as though she were about to explode from excitement.  Storm Wing’s counter to Rainbow’s block-out was to bite her tail and literally yank her behind him, causing her to lose the lion’s share of her speed and putting her at a disadvantage.

“Not very fair,” I grumped aloud.

“Oh, and blocking Storm Wing is?” Luna countered, “She’s trying to beat a pegasus that’s been flying dangerously for a thousand years.  She doesn’t stand a chance, talent or not.”

Then it became clear.  Luna and I were NOT friends for the duration of this race.  I looked at her and smirked daringly, to which she responded with a sneer of her own.

“If Dashy wins, I get to tape a trollface over your Cutie Mark for an entire day,” I confronted her confidence in Storm Wing.

“If Storm Wing wins, you have to dye your mane pink and let Rarity braid it.” She took my bet with a smile.  An all too confident smile.  As though she knew who would win already.

“No interference or the game is void!” I didn’t trust her as far as I could throw her!

“You’re no fun.” Her bottom lip poked out.  I shouldn’t have been surprised that she had actually planned to cheat.

“Hush, Woman, I’m watching the game!” I cried, looking back at the globe, “C’MON, DASHY!  DADDY DOESN’T NEED A NEW DYE JOB!”

“You guys are so weird,” Twilight chuckled as she stared into the globe.

As the racers came to their first loop, Storm Wing actually twisted his turn to just barely pass through all the way points while losing as little speed as possible.  I grimaced a tad but was happy to see that Dash took the inside of the loop at nearly the same speed, gaining quite a bit of distance in the process.  They then turned up into the sky as they raced for the highest waypoint, which was definitely the longer of the two straightaways.  To my dismay, I watched Rainbow Dash fall further behind as Storm Wing proved the more apt in top speed.

“Oh my gosh, Rainbow’s falling so far behind!” Pinkie gasped as she waved the Megaphone at the globe angrily, “DON’T LET HIM BEAT YOU, DASHY!  SHOW’M YER STUFF!”

“Rainbow Dash, you can do it,” Fluttershy timidly waved at the globe, trying to cheer her friend on with the softest voice possible.

Storm Wing passed the sky-high waypoint and took an even greater lead by lightning striking down to the ground in almost an instant.  I didn’t need to look at the globe to see the tumultuous explosion he had created upon impact, which put him very close to the next waypoint.  As the globe moved back to Rainbow Dash, it became clear that she was smirking confidently still yet.  She passed through the sky-high and began a very familiar dive, which immediately sent Fluttershy into a furiously excited cheer.  Yes, everypony, it was obviously meant to be.  She picked up speed as the Mach cone appeared around her, and before she was even halfway through the straightaway, the Sonic Rainboom erupted, illuminating the night sky as Dash became a beam of light.

“DASH’S SIGNATURE MOVE!  THE SONIC RAINBOOM!” Pinkie was doing a fine emulation of Fluttershy’s leaping and screaming.

“YEEEAAAH-YUH, IT’S ON NOW!”  I hollered energetically, glancing over to see Luna bite her lip worriedly.

Rainbow Dash was picking up both speed and ground on Storm Wing.  Storm glanced over his shoulder as she neared and he kicked it into overdrive, narrowing the difference in speed by quite a margin.  The effect was compounded by the fact that Rainbow Dash could not fly directly behind Storm Wing now, due to the fact that he was trailing a line of vicious lightning.  Due to this fact, Storm Wing was forcing her to take the outside corners and able to just barely keep her from stealing the lead.  It was the final hairpin, though, where him and Dash traded places, for while he had to slow down to keep from flying off course, Dash snapped around the corner at an amazingly tight angle.

“RAINBOW DASH HAS TAKEN THE LEAD!” Pinkie Pie threw the megaphone into the sky, letting it bounce off some poor pony’s head before pulling out a second one and yelling into it just as fervently, “IS THIS THE END OF THE RACE?!”

“C’mon, Storm,” Luna groaned pitifully, “You can’t let some punk show you up.”

“Punks for the win, Luna,” I teased her happily as Rainbow Dash came around the next curve right over our heads.

As Dash and Storm came towards the final loop, Rainbow once again took the inside of the turn and was just about to exit the loop right as her opponent was entering it.  Being that this brought them rather close to each other, Storm Wing pulled a dirty trick again and turned her way, clapping his hooves together to create a loud and blinding thunderstrike.  Frustratingly enough, he got his desired effect and Dash was thrown off course, extremely disoriented by the flashbang.  With her Sonic Rainboom momentum gone, she was no longer assured victory, despite the fact that she had brought herself back onto course in good time.  As she came around the next turn, she found herself faced with the final straightaway and Storm Wing hot on her heels.

“Best break out the hair dye, Firewall,” Luna reminded me with a trollishly broad grin, “We both know he’s going to take the lead here.”

Predictably, Storm Wing began to overtake Dash.  She tried to muscle in front of him again and even bucked him in the face when he got too close, causing him to slow down before catching back up.  When she tried again, he dodged, grabbed hold of her tail and yanked.  My heart fell as I watched her slow down before the real clincher came into play.  She reacted rapidly by grabbing his mane after he released her (That’s why I don’t have long hair) and latched onto his back.  For several seconds, she rode him through the straightaway, even taking the time to show off by waving at all of us through the globe.

“Yeeeeeeeehaw!” I heard Applejack holler out, “That’s t’way ya do it, cowgirl!”

As they neared the final waypoint, Dash yanked hard on Storm Wing’s mane before reaching over to tilt one of his wings, forcing him to veer up and over the circle as she jumped off and flew backwards through the finish waypoint, holding her hooves behind her head with an easy going smirk.

“DASHY IS THE WINNER!”  Pinkie Pie screamed, throwing the second megaphone into the air as the crowd roared in glee.  Pranks and cheap tricks aside, they sure as hell put on a great show.

“I’m going to love taping that picture over your mark,” I taunted Luna with my best impression of the troll face.

“I bet you are,” she gave me an irritated smirk, “So, it was all a ploy to get your hooves on my flank, eh?”

“What!?” I was a tad shocked before narrowing my eyes and nodding enthusiastically, “Hells yeah.  I saw it all in a vision and knew I had to make it happen!  It was this one amazing moment where doves flew by and a heavenly white light was shining down upon your brand new trollface!  And I’m gonna take a picture of me coppin’ a feel so that I can remember this day and all its GLORY~!  And let’s not forget the final part to my master plan!”

“What’s that?” She rolled her eyes at me, amused, but still a tad bitter.

“LAUGH IN LUNA’S FACE ABOUT IT!” I shouted before hugging her neck and running away, “Later, Princess!”

“You’ll regret that!” she cried out at me as I continued to scamper away like a buffoon (to be clear, I am very much a buffoon.  Deal with it. *shades*).

“You’ll regret your face!” I yelled back at her, thinking of the most childish response I could come up with, “Especially the one you’ll wear on your flank!”

I started to make a beeline for Rainbow Dash as she landed, but she was surrounded by friends and fans already, thus making her difficult to get to.  Instead, I looked for Storm Wing, who was landing on the far side of town.  I decided to give my congratulations to Dashy later and began to make my way over to Storm Wing.  No, I wasn’t going to go rub it in his face.  Maybe just a smidge, but that’s to be expected.  If Luna had lost, I’d have put up a billboard or something, maybe would have resorted to hijacking a satellite to broadcast my glee.  I know, that sounds so mean, but chances at trolling Luna back were few and far between whereas I’m not but troll bait a la carte, apparently.

It took me a while to locate the jerk, but eventually I wound up spotting him drawing water out of a well.  I cantered up to him as he set a full bucket down, and he nudged a bowl in my direction as a salutation.

“Sup, chief!” I picked up my bowl with a bit of magic and scooped some water out before taking a big gulp.  It was colder than I expected, that was for sure, which made me even happier to drink it.

“Hello, Firewall,” he responded in kind, taking his bowl in mouth and scooping his own portion out.

Rather than dive right into it, we spent the next several minutes emptying that bucket of water.  I couldn’t tell if he was bitter or just contemplative, but one thing was for certain, he seemed to be very thirsty.  I considered telling him about Azure Flora, but I didn’t know how to approach that.  Nothing had changed within the past half hour that made me suddenly believe The Observer about Celestia, thus I held the story about Storm Wing’s heritage in similar suspicion.  So instead, I settled for finding out what he already knew.

“Hey, Storm Wing.  Your old man was supposedly a big hero, right?” I asked in what must have seemed a rather spontaneous fashion.

“You could say that.” He gave a small laugh, picking the bucket up and tossing it back down the well.

“What did he do?” I asked, tilting my head curiously.

He blinked, his expression one of incredulity.  It was as if I was asking what color the sky was (LIKE HE WOULD KNOW, AMIRITE?!  I think cracking these jokes makes me a horrible person.  I think I’m okay with this.).

“Huh.  Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t have heard,” he shrugged his wings a bit.

“Woah, wait, hold on.  Before we continue,” I interrupted him, my jealousy finally leaking out, “Every time you shrug your wings, God kills a kitten.  Just saying.  Let us continue.”

“W... What!?” he took me seriously, facing my general direction immediately, “Are you well?”

“Just don’t shrug your wings and you won’t have to worry about it,” I pointed out, nodding with a serious look on my face, “Think of the kittens, Storm Wing.”

“Are you serious?” he didn’t look at all pleased by this concept.

“Storm Wing,” I set my hoof on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eyes, “I don’t want to take the risk to find out.  Do you?”

“Okay, you’re full of it,” he nodded, looking somewhat relieved.  I felt so transparent.  He reached for the bucket and began to pull out more water.

He spoke after retrieving the second bucket, “My father fell in battle, protecting Princess Celestia from Nightmare Moon.  Because of his sacrifice, Celestia was able to exile her to the moon.  He was a hero before all of that, too.  Being the first Sky Archon, he brought a lot of security to Equestria that wasn’t there before.  And no, I don’t hold it against Luna.  She was not in control of her actions and would not have done what she had done if she were thinking clearly. The Nightmare, however, is going to pay for all the harm it’s caused.”

“Yeah,” I agreed with him, nodding. “That we can agree on.  So, what about your mom?”

“What about her?” he asked, reaching down to scoop out a bowl of water.

“Well, I doubt you were a plant that your father cultivated in his back yard.” I gave a laugh, “What was she like?”

“Never met her,” he responded quite simply, “Never met my father, either.  Just have the stories to go by.  I was raised as... well, as an unofficial prince by Celestia.  It used to really bother me when I was much younger, but a thousand years is a long time to deal with your issues.  I’ve come to terms with being an orphan a long time ago.”

“Sounds like it,” I nodded with a smirk, “So anyway, I wanted to tell you something.”

He looked my way, silently acknowledging that he was paying attention.  I started to tell him about Azure Flora and Winter Sky, but I stopped.  I’d have been digging up a lot of crap for nothing if this all turned out to be a wash.  So instead, I banked on the side of safety.

"I'm headed out to Everfree Forest later tonight... Or today... I need to get a watch,” I said, coughing nonchalantly, “You should definitely come with."

“Why?”

“Well, the extra firep-...” I started to say before he cut me off.

“Why are you going?” he clarified before taking another drink of water.

“You’ll see.  I’ve my suspicions, but I think we’re going to learn a lot there,” I shrugged a shoulder as best I could, “Don’t ask me to explain, it’s one big convoluted mess.  Just trust me?”

What I would find, I wasn't sure.  The old capitol was a thousand years old and any clues there might have been were likely long gone.  That didn't mean it wasn't worth trying, though.  Sure it was a trick-knee decision, but I wanted some answers and I'm pretty sure I wasn't going to get them from anywhere else.

“Anypony else, and I’d say no,” he responded with a smirk, wiping his mouth with a hoof before holding it up to me, “But alright, Firewall.  I’ll come with.”

“Awesome.  Thanks man,” I brohoofed him and smiled wide, “You’re pretty cool.  Good race today!  Never thought I would enjoy racing, but you two were amazing!”

“Good race, eh?  But I lost.” He wasn’t at all perturbed by this fact, one could tell from the way he was smiling.

“Well, at least your loss gave me a chance to get back at Luna.  I get to cover up her Cutie Mark with a silly picture for a day.  We made a bet and Rainbow Dash is mah homegirl, so I bet on her.” I gently punched him in the shoulder, still smiling brightly.

“Good to know I could throw the race for a good cause.” Storm gave a snort, shaking his head. “I can’t wait to see the new Cutie Mark.”

“Whaaaat~?” I gave him a skeptical look.

“Seriously, Firewall, do you think I was giving it my all?” He smirked arrogantly at me, “I mean, yes, she definitely out flew me with that... amazing explosion of magic.  I couldn’t sense anything for a few seconds, I’ll admit.  I’ve never felt anything like it before.  But during that last straightaway, I let her win.”


“What?!” I shook my head in disbelief, “No way, she rode you the entire way in.”

“And I could have done something like... charge up a bit of lighting to zap her off my back.  Or simply stopped.  Maybe tuck into a diving spin.  I could have even flown back to the start of the straightaway and dumped her off there to give me even more time to outdistance her,” he reasoned, “I wasn’t without options.  Trust me, I let her win.  I wouldn’t lie about it.  She’s definitely fast enough to outpace me, she’s just too young to understand just how much potential she has.  That’s alright, though.  I wanted her to win.”

“Uh-huh.  And whys that smart guy?” I stared at him askance, still not buying it.

“Remember that part where I said I would consider her for the Sky Archons?” He gave me a sly smirk, chuckling at my reaction (which involved a double take and a jaw drop.).

“No way.” You could have knocked me over with a slight breeze.  Illidan was right.  I was not prepared.  How could he have known!?

“She’s perfect material.  Brave, spirited, strong, competitive.” He nodded with a pondering smile. “And she represents the Element of Loyalty, too.  And she’s fast.  Amazingly fast.  Most of my Sky Archons can’t come near her speed, and she’s not even in her third decade.  That’s huge, Firewall.  I didn’t get as fast as I am until my third century.  I don’t even have as much control as she does, which is even more impressive.  She’s got the determination, and she definitely has the skill, but my fear is that she won’t have the will.”

“How long have you been planning this?!” I gave him a shove, which he responded to with a laugh.

“Ever since I went to retrieve Twilight Sparkle and she chased me around for fun,” he gave a wing shrug, “I’m always on the lookout for potential Archons.  I only get one or two every generation and besides Silverheart twenty years ago, I’ve not had any new recruits in quite some time.”

“Wow,” I blinked, “You’re serious.  Rainbow Dash the Sky Archon.”

“It has a ring to it, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, “It’ll be tough for the first year or so, but if she accepts, I could see her going far.”

“No kidding.  Don’t you dare tell Luna,” I begged of him.


“Not even for two Sky Archon recruits,” he agreed with a nod. “She needs a piece of humble pie.”

“A piece?  I plan to feed her the whole damn thing!  Forcefully.” I nodded back enthusiastically.

“Hah!  Well, I’m off to do some rounds and see if Twilight Sparkle needs any more help for the Canterlot citizens coming in,” he said with a casual salute, “Stay frosty, Firewall.”

“Frosty.  Cute.  Keep it real, Storm.” I returned the gesture before pulling out a cigarette and lighting up.  I watched him lazily depart as I began to think about what to do next.  I began to walk aimlessly, twisting my face in confusion as I was suddenly approached by a blonde-haired, grey pegasus with bubbles for a Cutie Mark.

“Letter~!” she cried happily at me, giving me a wall-eyed stare with her hoof extended, a letter within its grasp.  My mouth hung open as I realized just who it was.  I couldn’t respond.  I didn’t know what to say.  I just kinda gaped at her for a few seconds, wondering how to approach this situation.  Unfortunately, I was getting nowhere in that endeavor, and she decided to take the initiative by stuffing the letter in my mouth and flying away.

After the sensation passed (it took quite a few minutes, if you must know), I spat out the letter and looked at the address.  It just had those Wing Dings for text, and I rolled my eyes as I opened it up, unsurprised to see more of the same.  I remember Twilight’s notes having the same language and set the letter down.  With a stomp, I burned the sucker and absorbed the knowledge it held.  Rough translation as follows:

The Observer

Dear Firewall,

I think it is time we met face to face at last, or at least as close to that as we can get.  I’ve tried to contact you again, but my attempts have been met with... outside interference.  I don’t think my identity has been discovered, but my presence is known now and time is running out.  I asked you to seek me out when we first met, and thankfully I did not have the time to give you more information as I have discovered much between now and then.  Come find me at the Everfree Forest at the tallest tower (It’s never the shortest tower, is it.) in the old capital.  I should be able to reveal myself by now, having recovered somewhat.

There is much I have seen and much I have yet to see, but before you, I have been unable to act upon what I know.  Perhaps with your help, I can be freed, and even if that proves to be impossible, I can still aid you.

Once again, I know you’ve no reason to trust me, but while all may not be lost without my help, I truly believe that you will not regret putting a bit of faith in me.

You friend,

The Observer

P.S. Bring Luna and Twilight Sparkle.  Though I would rather not reveal to them the harsh truths of the past, times have become dire, and it is best they know before they learn from some other source.

Great.  Now I get to tell Luna about the voices in my head.  That’ll go over so well.  I mean, the trolling opportunity alone would just thrill her to no end, I was sure.  Then I remembered this would involve telling her about the past.  I didn’t know whether or not to believe it, but Luna was definitely an emotional creature.  It would probably break her heart to hear that her sister had lied to her (If Celestia did even lie, that was.).

“Hoo boy,” I murmured to myself as I trotted around.  I had no idea where Luna stayed during her down time, but I did know that I was prepared to find out through a series of deductive techniques that would lead me straight to her.  These techniques involved scratching my chin, wandering around aimlessly, SMOKING THE HELL OUT OF SOME CIGARETTES, and asking other ponies if they had seen her.  Intense, eh?  Yeah, I’m incredible, I know.

Eventually, I bumped into Fluttershy, who was looking positively peachy.  She seemed happier than usual.  Also, it was more of the lines where she bumped into me, so yeah.  Flutterklutz.

“Hey, Flutter,” I smiled down at her, “Whatcha doin’?”

“Oh!  Hello, Firewall,” she squeak-smiled at me (RAAAAAAAAAAGE!!!!!), “I am just... walking.”

I blinked and noted the blush along her nose before rolling my eyes, “Who gave you that funny tasting apple juice and how much of a beating can they take?”

“Oh, well, ummm... It was Rainbow Dash,” she pointed out, happily swaying from side to side.  In all honesty, I’ve not seen her so relaxed and content before.  She normally had this worried look on her face, but today she just seemed... happy and carefree.

“She didn’t give you a bunch, did she?”

“Oh, goodness, no.  Applejack was very... very adamant that I only have a glass or two,” she swayed right into me, giggling at her mistake, “I’m sorry~!”

“It’s cool.  Just... don’t drink anymore.  You’re at like that perfect area where you are having a good time and won’t suffer the repercussions,” I chuckled, helping to steady her with a hoof, “Better?”

“Very very much,” she leaned over to nuzzle my neck, which was kinda awkward, but I didn’t jerk away or anything to make it seem like an outright rejection, “Thank you, Firewall.  I think I’m going to go take a nap now.”

“That’s probably a good idea.  You wouldn’t have happened to see Luna around, would you?” I asked, smiling at her happily.

“Oh, no,” she shook her head, smiling up at me before blinking, “Oh, Luna, you said.  Well, I think I saw her at the town hall with Twilight.”

“Awesome!  Thanks, Fluttershy,” I said with an appreciative wink, “Go take that nap and be sure to drink lots of water before you do.  That’ll help you sleep better.”

“Oh, thank you for the advice,” She replied with a long cute yawn, “But I don’t think getting to sleep will be a problem.  Not a problem at all.”

With that, she passed out in front of me, completely sold to unconsciousness.  I stared at her for several seconds, dumbfounded by the turn of events.  I decided to take a moment to ponder this by lighting a cigarette and take a ponderous drag off of it.

“Flootershai?” I murmured, poking at her with a hoof.  When she didn’t move, I gave a sigh and magicked her onto my back, “Lightweight.”

This was becoming a tiresome habit I was developing.  I slowly made my way to Town Hall, careful not to shake today’s heavier, yet equally adorable cargo.  At least she didn’t drool, I mentioned to myself inwardly.  I know I was a terrible drunken sleep drooler and so was everyone else I knew.  I bet AJ drooled last night, even.  As I eventually made my way there, I spotted Twilight exiting the Town Hall and cantering happily my way until she spotted Fluttershy on my back.  She teleported right up to me, concern splayed on her face.

“Oh my gosh!  Is she okay?!” Twilight circled around to look at Fluttershy more closely, “Is she... asleep?”

“Yup.  She had some of that cider that Luna made for us and... Well, it seems her tolerance is about as powerful as her pimp hoof.  Which isn’t very strong at all,” I said, mostly for my own benefit.  Gotta keep myself laughin, yo!

“Her what?” Twilight (you guessed it!) stared at me as though I had lost it, “Nevermind, where are you taking her?  You don’t know where her apartment is?”

“Well, I was going to make a fashion statement.  Before you know it, everypony will be wearing other ponies in an effort to keep up with the times!”  Here’s your sign.

“Uh-huh.  Why don’t I just lighten your load and take her to bed,” Twilight magicked her off my back and snickered as she shook her head, “Great.  Now, I’m visualizing everypony putting little fillies on their heads for accessories.”

“Good idea!  I know what to do with Sweetie Belle next time I see her!” I gasped, clapping my hooves in faux excitement, “Twilight, you’re a genius.  Anyway, where’s Luna?”

“She’s actually just on the other side of the Hall, last I saw,” Twilight smirked at me, “Go get’r, Casanova.”

“Does everypony know about this?” I lowered my head, sighing wistfully.

“Well, you’re a big oddity, and she’s quite a celebrity, so yeah.  Get used to it,” Twilight reminded me with a wink.

“Wunderbar,” I murmured, “Take care, Pretty Purple Pony of Profound Perception.”

“You, too, Gargantuan Grey Giant of Great Gelastic Goals.” She countered, proving to be the better at the game.  As she walked off, I turned to flick my cigarette and walked inside the Town Hall, aiming for the entrance on the other side.  Luna was actually just inside, staring out the exit as though the meaning of life were out there.

 

"Hey, girl!" I said during my approach, "Who wants a trollface?!"

"Shhh~!" She glanced back at me, flapping a wing in my direction in an effort to get me to shut up.

Curiosity took over and I moved beside her, peering over her shorter frame to see what was so freaking important.  Turns out, it was the meaning of life.  Or three little fillies setting up a small race track in Town Square, so your mileage may vary on that.

"Oh, this oughta be rich," I whispered.

"No kidding," she replied with a giggle, her eyes never leaving the crusaders.

"Wanna place a bet here, too?" I teased.

"Not a chance," she playfully slapped at me with one of her wings.

Just so you all know, I have an ever growing list of things-to-do should I ever get a pair of those stupid wings.  Number one:  Shrug until it hurts. Number Two:  Shrug some more!  Number Three:  Bat Luna in the face with wings.  Those are the main priorities so far, but trust me, the list is much longer than that.

"Oh man," I watched helplessly as the three silly fillies all lined up, ready to go, "Brace for epic, Luna."

"If I die from a cute-overload, tell Twilight I was most often shipped with her," she jokingly asked of me.

"Not going to happen." I vetoed that nonsense right away.

I watched as they took off, zipping along as fast as they could.  As they came around their first ‘waypoint,’ Scootaloo began to take the lead, only to trip over a small rock and become an obstacle for Sweetie Belle, who failed to jump over her and instead, crashed on top of the orange filly.  Applebloom, having paid more attention to dodging Scootaloo, tripped over the same rock that her friend had and crashed into the pile, causing the three of them to tumble forward for a few seconds.

I won’t lie, if I wasn’t so worried about them, I would have had to get some insulin to treat my newly developed case of diabetes.  Luna sighed and shook her head, smirking softly at the cute trio as they began to pick themselves up and brush off the dust.

“Ow, ow!” Scootaloo whimpered as she pulled herself from the mass of tangled pony manes, tails, and legs, “This is stupid!  We’re never going to get our Cutie Marks!”

“Ah,” Sweetie Belle whined as she tended a brand new scuff, “Yes, we w-Ow! … Yes, we will.  Right, Bloom?”

Applebloom had fared the best and stood up with a sigh, “Ah’m not sure, girls.  We’ve been workin’ at it fer... how long now?  An’ we just ain’t gettin’ any closer.”

“Exactly!” Scootaloo walked over to the rock that had tripped her and kicked it angrily, only to discover that it was unmoving when it hurt her hoof.  She gasped and immediately fell over, clutching her poor hurting hoof as her eyes began to well up.

“Oh dear, I can’t watch,” I had to look away.  Remember during Winter Wrap Up where Twilight ran away crying?  Yeah, I was so upset that there just aren’t words for it.  Having to witness a little filly cry just might have killed me.  I didn’t want to test the theory.  I mean, if I was wrong, okay... If I was right, I wouldn’t get to gloat over being right so often.

“You are such a softie,” Luna chuckled as she stepped out to tend to Scootaloo, who actually did break out into tears, despite her best efforts.

I couldn’t help myself and had to look as Applebloom and Sweetie Belle ran over to instantly embrace their friend in an effort to comfort her.  She tried to push them away, her pride stung and temper excited, but they simply held on and she was forced to eventually hug them back and have somepony to cry onto.  I kid you not; the entire idea of a young pony crying alone bothers me.  Having to watch it in person/pony made me stick my bottom lip out as the sad, adorable scene took place.  Looking back, I think Luna was totally understating my being a softie.  (Sometimes, I think I’m just a little girl deep down, but then I play some violent video games, and it’s all better.)

“Poor Scoots.  Did you hurt your hoof?” Luna consoled as she approached them.  It was obvious how horrified Scootaloo was when she realized she was crying in front of the princess.  She hid her face behind Applebloom, “Here, let me see it.”

I walked out as Sweetie Belle and Applebloom stepped aside.  Scootaloo was reluctant at first, but eventually showed her the aching hoof.  Luna used a bit of magic to help ease the pain and Scootaloo sniffled a bit, wiping at her eyes.

“T-Thanks,” she coughed, smiling a tad even though she was still in a dour mood.

“So, you guys decided to give racing a try, eh?” I asked, reaching over and muzzing Scootaloo’s hair.

“Hey!” She shoved my hoof away irritably.

“Yes, that’s the idea, anyway,” Sweetie Belle nodded eagerly before looking deflated almost instantly, “But that didn’t get us our Cutie Marks either.”

“What I don’t get is why you’re all trying to get the same Cutie Mark,” Luna remarked, tapping her chin with a pensive hoof, “I haven’t ever heard of three ponies having the same talent within the same generation, and certainly not within the same town.”

“Well, we uh... at this point we’re just hopin’ for one Cutie Mark,” Applebloom confessed with a pouting frown.

“In that case, why don’t you try and focus on one of you at a time,” Luna suggested with a wink, “Any strategy is probably better than this one, don’t you think?”

They all gaped up at her for a few seconds before looking at one another.

“But... Who goes first?” Scootaloo tilted her head, voicing their collective question.

“I’d say try paper, rock, scissors, but uh... No fingers,” I chuckled before mimicking the motion, “Paper, Rock, Hoof!  Doh, we tied again~!  But no, here’s a better idea.”

They all gazed up at me, their attention focused from the motivation of possibly getting a Cutie Mark.

“The first one to hug Fluttershy wins and gets to go first,” I announced before holding up a hoof, “OnetwothreeGO~!”

I swung it down and it was like firing a gun, you’d have thought from how fast they took off.  As they swung around the corner, I began to laugh and look Luna’s way.

“They have no idea where Fluttershy is, do they?” Luna asked me.

“Not a clue,” I confirmed.

“Ah, to be young.”

“You are quite the relic, aren’t you?” I teased.

“Would you like me to petrify you and give you an idea what a relic really feels like?” she asked with a sly smile aimed at me.

“Negative on that, O Ancient One!  Anyway, now that the munchkins are gone, we need to talk,” I explained, still chuckling from the crusaders’ silly antics.

“Oh?” she said, still looking towards where the little ponies had vanished. “What about?  The intricate details of my Cutie Mark and how you’re going to cover it with a meme?  Seems pretty straightforward, if you ask me.”

“No, about the voices in my head, of course,” I said, chuckling at how ridiculous it sounded.

“Well, in that case, we’d best get you a comfy couch for you to lay on as I diagnose you with the crazy,” she remarked.

“You’re such a riot.” I stuck my tongue at her.

“Well, you can blame yourself for that.” She stuck hers out right back.

“Right, because I made you come steal my phone in the middle of the night,” I said with a roll of my eyes.

“That’ll teach you to leave your valuable electronics out around ancient princesses.” She winked at me before snickering.

“Oh, trust me.  It won’t happen again.” I gave her a promising nod.

“I bet it won’t.” She smirked at me before sighing. “So, really.  What is it you wanted to talk about?”

I told her everything.  From the voice having seen others like me before, down to the hidden history.  I gave her my thoughts on every subject, how I wasn’t sure if I trusted it, but that I didn’t know what to make of the entire debacle.  She thought I was just kidding at first, but I soon made it clear that there wasn’t anything funny about the situation.

“It... It actually makes sense,” she murmured with a chuckle, setting her jaw a tad, “Tia would do anything to protect Equestria.  Even lie to us.  Even lie to me.  I can’t believe she... … ”

“Luna, she may have had plans to tell you,” I pointed out hopefully, “In fact, her plan was to tell us everything that happened when we got back from the negotiations.  Or... Whatever you would call that, there certainly wasn’t much negotiating.”

“Just... Just go, Firewall, I... I need to be alone right now,” she asked of me, not at all cheered up by my poor attempt at humor.

I gotta say, it was definitely an unfamiliar feeling, Luna telling me to get lost.  It really hit me where it hurt the most, and I found myself more upset about it than I would have expected.  I always wanted to be there to help people in general, and though I had not been around Luna for long, I felt that she was already one of the closest friends I would ever have.  Her having told me that she didn’t want me around was like your favorite brother/sister/aunt/uncle/etc telling you that you weren’t family for the moment.  I didn’t get angry; I try really hard to not be that guy.  I just felt all of my exuberance and joy slowly flow out of me.

“Well, I’m going to go see this ‘Observer’ tonight,” I informed her, keeping my voice calm and level, “It wants you and Twilight to come with, but I’ll leave that up to you.  And I’ll leave you alone until then.”

As I began to canter away, I did my best to keep it straight and not hang my head.  I didn’t want her to feel bad that she made me feel bad, especially since she had a damn good reason to feel bad in the first place.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and took a deep calming breath.

“Firewall?” I heard her call out, causing me to look back at her with a fake yet likely convincing smile.

“I’m not upset with you,” she said with a slight, yet encouraging smile.

“Oh.” I nodded, feeling a bit better at least, “Cool, just uh... Let me know if I can help.”

I watched as she looked down and nodded a bit, “I w-will.  Just go f... for now.”

Argh.  More tears.  She was torn up about her sister’s deception.  It was probably a world-shattering revelation.  They had likely been very close and kept no secrets from one another but toss in a human with good intentions, and suddenly everything is flying in your face.  Without stability in one’s life, a person or pony can quickly lose a lot of faith in a lot of things.

“You sure you don’t want me to... y’know... stick around?” I asked helpfully, “If you need an excuse, it might make me feel a little better.”

Luna shook her head a tad before looking up, “No, I just... I’m not sad, Firewall.”

Her eyes were certainly rimmed with water, but her expression was not of remorse or sorrow.  It was angry.  That was the last thing I expected.

“I’m furious,” she grit her teeth, “I gave a thousand years of my life... and she... she couldn’t give me the truth.”

“Oh,” I felt a cold sweat begin to bead on my forehead, “Luna, I’m sure s-...”

“No!  There is no excuse!” she stamped her hoof, causing a tiny indigo shockwave to rush along the ground, “She lied to me!  After all this time!  I never held anything from her!  Not a thing!”

“Luna, I’m sure it’s a tad more nuanced t-...” I got interrupted, yet again.

“No, it isn’t!  The simple fact is that she lied and what’s worse; she manipulated the minds of our people!” she shouted, “There’s nothing nuanced about stealing the memories of others!  It’s wrong!”

“Keep it down, girl, we don’t know all the facts yet, it could all be a lie!” I rushed over to her and shook my head, “Stop jumping to conclusions!”

“No!  Remember when she wanted to talk after we left the Everfree Forest?  I actually caught a hole in her cover-up story when she brought up the past!  But I gave her the benefit of the doubt!” She stamped her hoof again, grunting in frustration. “I said, ‘No, Tia wouldn’t lie to me!  Maybe she just forgot or something!  A thousand years is a long time to forget a few details.’”

“Luna, just stop,” I begged, reaching out to her with a hoof, only to get it smacked away by one of hers.

“It wasn’t like this before humans came along!” she shouted at me accusingly.

I blinked, now suddenly irritated, “Yeah, well, you give a little, you take a little.  One big lie traded for Equestria being a much safer place doesn’t sound so bad.”

“Look around us, Firewall!” She yelled, glaring at me angrily, “We’re on the precipice of becoming a dystopia now!  We wouldn’t even have The Nightmare if your kind had just stayed where it belongs!”

Lines were being crossed and stupid things were being said.  Not either of our best moments, to be sure.

“My kind,” I echoed, “So, I guess I’m guilty by association.  Damn them one and damn them all, eh?  I can’t actually buy that you’re so stupid as to actually believe that, Luna.”

She hesitated before looking away, her voice lowered but still seething with rage, “Go away, Firewall.  We’re already saying things we’re going to regret later.”

“Ya think?” I gave a hollow laugh, “Why are you so angry?  People lie all the time, Luna.”

“Not US!” she turned back on me, hollering in my face, “We don’t steal, kill, lie, abuse, and mistreat others!  At least I didn’t THINK we did!”

“Really?  Well, forgive me if I upset that argument by feeling a little mistreated,” I spat furiously.

“Just... I SAID GO AWAY!” she reared back to shove me away.  I moved to evade, somewhat surprised by her actions, only to make things worse by causing her to hit me right in the eye.

I stumbled back, entirely shocked by what she had done.  Yeah, she had kicked me in the face before, but she wasn’t exactly stable then.  This, however, was just plain old fashioned lost-my-temper-and-dishing-it-out-on-you childish anger.  I wasn’t the only one stunned by what she had done, judging by her own reaction.  Her face was already losing its malice and replacing it with chagrin.  It hurt like hell, getting bucked right in the eye, as you might have guessed.  What made it worse was that it was her that did it and out of rage, nonetheless.  I’ve never actually been hit by someone so close to me.  Not once.  It’s never happened.  Came close a few times, but I’ve never actually been on either side of such an exchange of abuse between friends.

“Fire... I’m... I didn’t mean to...” she stammered, cautiously stepping closer.

I could feel it swelling already as I raised a hoof to rub at the mark.  I didn’t say anything, I simply turned away and started walking, pausing occasionally to rub at it a bit more.  I didn’t say anything I’d regret later, I didn’t go try to make amends, and I didn’t even look back at her.  I just left.  I do remember that she tried to get me to stop by moving in front of me, I just can’t recall what she was saying.  Rather than yell at her, though, I responded by walking around her.  I was angry, and a bad sort of angry.  I don’t talk when it gets this bad because it’s like tossing an already huge snowball down a hill.  It would have only gotten worse.  So, I just left.

I walked around town, up the streets, and through the alleys.  Hell, I was walking just to walk.  I vaguely remember ponies trying to ask if I was okay.  I ignored them, one and all.  Even Rarity, when she approached me, concern splayed on her face.  I was not okay.  To be perfectly honest, Lafter and Stoic were waging a war on what I should do, but I was suppressing all ideas, impulses, and urges.  I simply continued to walk.  I took myself out to the apple orchard on the edge of town and just walked amongst the trees.  About half an hour had passed, and all I had done was walk around and stay angry.  It takes a lot to shake me up so bad, but this was definitely something I wasn’t ready to have to swallow.

It was made worse by the arrival of ponies, “Firewall.”

Through my anger, I was able to manage to put a voice to a name and then to a face.  Twilight Sparkle.  Of course, she’s a go-getter.  We’re not too different in that aspect.  Something that needs to be dealt with is going to get dealt with.

“Twilight, I don’t want to be an ass, but you really don’t need to be here." My voice was not kind, not even just impassive.  No attempt was made to mask my emotional upset.

“Luna told me what happened,” she said with a sigh, looking to me imploringly.

“That’s great, so now that you know, you can see why I’m angry,” I seethed, somewhat surprised at how little I had cooled off. “Seriously, Twilight.  Humans can do really stupid things while angry, so just... Go elsewhere.”

“You’re not an angry pony,” she pointed out, smiling a bit to show she was trying to be humorous.  That would have worked if I wasn’t seeing red.

“Funny thing about that,” I said as I turned away, “I’m not a pony.”

“This isn’t like you.  Please calm down,” she begged of me, stepping closer.

“That’s what I want to do, so please, leave me in peace.” I began walking away from her, not wanting to take it out on an innocent.

“Isn’t there... anything a friend can do?” her voice was hurt.  It was so ironic, actually.  Looking back, I can say I was definitely doing the very same thing to Twilight that Luna had done to me.

“You can not kick me in my goddamn face!” I shouted, stomping a hoof down and snorting a bit of flame as I glanced back at her, “Think you can manage that?!”

“Please don’t yell at me,” she murmured as her eyes began tearing up.

“Ju... Aggh!! %@#$!!!” I felt my conscience overpower my anger long enough for me to regain a modicum of composure, “Please!  Twilight.  No, there isn’t anything you can do.  I need time to blow off steam.”

That’s when Storm Wing descended from the treetops with a thunderous crash.

“Or you can get it beaten out of you!” he shouted, his entire frame sparking with energy, “What happened!?  Luna’s in tears and can barely string a sentence together!  What did you do to her!?”

Turns out Twilight got the truth out of Luna after Storm Wing had left.  She just had a head start with her OP teleport powers.  You know, for those of you wondering how Twilight knew and Storm didn’t.  For a simpler answer, Twilight is just that overpowered.

“Get lost, Storm Wing, I swear, I am not in the mood to play with ponies right now.” Getting yelled at was not improving my day.  In fact, I was starting to get excited all over again.

“Both of you need to calm down!” Twilight tried to shout above us.

“Miss Twilight, you should leave,” he warned her gently. “Turn around, Firewall!”

He unfurled his wings and crouched down, ready to leap at me.  Storm was quite confrontational like that.  Still, I wasn't putting up with it.  If he wanted to become a focus for my frustrations, then so be it.  To be honest, though, I was just looking for any justification to hit something.  Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.

“Twilight, he’s right.  Go somewhere else,” I turned back around and slowly wreathed myself in flame, “I’m done giving warnings.”

“No!  No, this is stupid!” she teleported in between us, forcibly keeping us from going at it for now, “Tensions are high and you’re both acting irrationally!”

“You tell me what happened this instant, Firewall, or I’m going to drag another patient to Nurse Tendercare,” Storm Wing growled, his eyes glowing as he tensed up again.

“TRY IT, STORM!” I screamed at him as I reared up and slammed down onto the ground, spurting gouts of flame in all directions. “I’LL TAKE MY CHANCES!”

He actually took a step back, surprisingly enough, not expecting such a hateful response, no doubt.  I don't think he was afraid in the slightest, but rather, I think he was hesitant to get into a serious fight for my sake.  I mean, yeah, I was definitely packing more heat than when we had first tangled, but I'm fairly certain Storm could have still beat whatever he damn well pleased out of me.  So, y'know, screw him for that.

“I can tell you!” Twilight ran up to Storm Wing, pretty much acknowledging that I was beyond reason and to be fair, I so very much was, “Firewall and Luna got into an argument!  It happens!  She hit him and he walked away!  Luna’s crying over her own actions, not from what Firewall did!”

“She... Then... Why’s he acting so...” He looked at me as I panted heavily, still secretly hoping he’d come at me (because I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently.  Let’s be honest, we all remember what happened when me and Storm went at it during my last tantrum.), “What’s wrong with him?”

“Luna says humans have really bad tempers!” She tried to explain, glancing back at me, “She says she’s got a...  Firewall, come back!”

I had turned to gallop away, still covered in an assortment of red and blue flames.  I didn’t want to hurt anypony, I really didn’t.  They were just making it harder.  Luna felt bad, I felt bad, Twilight felt bad, Storm Wing felt bad.  We all felt bad!  I just wanted to get away from the feel bad!  I wanted to go swimming, or run at ninety miles an hour, or just fly away!  Anything but be around somepony!

“I’m leaving!  Do NOT follow me!  Just let me GET SOME TIME ALONE!” I yelled back at them as I departed, leaving them in the orchard.

Since walking didn’t seem to help (not to mention it allowed ponies to find me more easily), I ran.  I ran as hard as I could, as fast as I could and I ran as far as I could.  I didn’t even think to smoke a cigarette or something.  I charged through every branch in my way and never felt a thing.  I didn’t even feel the tree that I brushed up against, other than the slight pressure of touch.  I just put one hoof in front of the other as fast as I could and forced myself to keep going faster.  I tripped more than once, but as I got the rhythm, I began accelerating.  That’s when I learned my final Unicorn trick.  If I had to give it a name or something, I’d call it blazing speed, but that sounds kinda lame, if you ask me.  Because that’s what it was.  The faster I ran, the more aware I became of my surroundings.  Eventually, my anger had dissipated and was temporarily replaced by wonder.  I had to be going at least seventy miles-per-hour.

I stopped and let the fire die out around me.  It was so liberating and I wasn’t enjoying like I should have been.  Thus, I took a deep breath and let the cold night air breeze brush against me before letting it out.  In... and out... For the next five minutes I simply chilled, letting my anger flow out.  After finally getting to state of some form of mental clarity, I began to run again.  It was hard to recreate.  I kept getting tired at first before trying to figure out what was different.  It didn’t take long however.  It was the fire.  I hadn’t covered myself in it, but rather, I had become fire.  I shut my eyes and focused, recreating the spell that I had used in my anger before opening them again, ready for a real attempt.

“Let’s do this,” I murmured before slamming down my hooves and breaking into a wild dash.  Without fail, I kept going and faster and faster.  The chilled air buffeted me as I accelerated through it, but I didn’t get cold.  Soon, I wasn’t even touching the ground, I was just a line of fire rocketing along the ground.  I didn’t have a speedometer on me to tell me how fast I was going, but if there were any cops around, they’d have tried to pull me over.  Not that they would have ever caught me, but they would have tried.  I hit a hill and launched myself some hundred feet, shouting in release as I felt all the tension slowly pour out of me.  I spotted a desert butte and dashed up its side, rocketing straight up its vertical surface, launching myself into open sky.  It wasn’t flying, but it was so close to it; I just didn’t care.  For fifteen seconds, almost, I was amongst the clouds on my own merit.  I hit the ground without even slowing down, laughing in glorious revelation.  It was so amazing; I’d never felt anything like it before.  Words will never be able to describe the sensation, as silly as that sounds.  Try running on a treadmill while a fan blows a hundred mile-per-hour winds at you or something.  You might get a taste of it, then.  But it will only be a hint of a shadow of the real thing.

I finally slowed down and let the fire die out as I came to a stop.  I took one final deep breath and let it out, dispelling the last of my anger.  It was good to be sensible again.  I missed it.  What I missed more was making people and ponies laugh.  Not making them cry.

“Hey, tough guy,” I heard Rainbow Dash’s voice above me.

I looked up and smiled, “Hey, Dash.  Good race earlier today.  Grats on your win.”

“Thanks.  Y’know, Twilight said you were pretty angry,” she said with a laugh, spinning into a loop before landing beside me, “You don’t seem so bad off, though.  Don’t know why she thought I needed to come get you.”

“I’m great now,” I nodded with a somewhat pained sigh, “Ten minutes ago?  Not so cool.  Ran it out of me, though.  Still, I managed to do some stupid things before I calmed down.”

“Yeah, Twilight said you and Storm almost got in a fight,” she seemed rather serious all of a sudden, “Now, I know all about bad tempers and all, but friends don’t need to fight for any reason, y’know?”

“Yeah,” I shook my head sorrowfully, “I even yelled at Twilight.”

“Well, stop being such a jerk, jerk!” She flicked her tail at me, causing me to snap my head back to avoid getting popped in the nose.  She laughed at my surprised expression, which in turn infected me with a chuckle of my own.

“Ponies do stupid stuff when they’re angry, too,” she reminded me with a smile, “Don’t let it getcha down.”

“Yeah,” I murmured dourly before perking up in a rather sudden fashion, “Hey, did you see how fast I was going?!”

“Yeah, you were bookin’ it!” she laughed before brohoofing my shoulder, “You should look into professional hoof racing!”

“No kidding,” Dash brohoofing me was an awesome-sauce-cherry on top of my not-angry-anymore-sundae.  Om nom nom nom~!

“So, whaddya say we get on back to Aaaaapplelooooosa~ and see about makin’ everypony stop worryin’ about ya?” she said with a wink, causing my ears to droop with a drop of guilt.

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” I replied with a chastised smirk.

“Hey, it’s not so bad.  Here.” She actually gave me a hug, before letting go abruptly. “Don’t tell anypony I did that.  I got this... image to keep up, y’know?”

“Lips are sealed,” I chuckled my reply to her, feeling considerably uplifted.

“Good.  Race ya!”

Of course, I didn’t even come close to winning, but it wasn’t really a race so much as a fun dash back to Appleloosa.  Naturally, I just followed Dash to wherever she was taking me.  We parked just outside Rarity's home (Screeeeech~!), kicking up a huge cloud of dust with our rapid braking.  As the dust cleared, Rainbow knocked on the door with me staring over her back.  I had a knot in my stomach and I didn’t like it being there one bit.

“Now’s not a good time!” Rarity’s voice called out from inside. “Please understand, I’m quite busy at the moment~!”

“Oh, sure,” Rainbow Dash yelled back, “I’ll just take Firewall an-...”

The door opened instantly, Rarity standing in its frame.  She didn’t look happy.  Luckily, she didn’t look angry, either.  See, this was one of those situations where the guy and the girl are having rough times and showing favor to one or the other could cause complications.  I know, drama, right?  Needs less.

“Firewall, go-WAHAHA~!” Rarity took notice of the bruise as she looked closer.  I should mention by now, it’s pretty much swollen shut.  No doubt I looked smashing.  She shook her head and beckoned me closer with a hoof before whispering, “Sorry!  Oh, dear, that was incredibly insensitive.  A~hem.  As I was saying, don’t worry, this is quite par for your typical celebrity romance.  It could have been much worse.”

I think I threw up in my mouth a little.  I don’t want a celebrity romance~!  I see those god awful magazines at the checkout aisle at Wal-Mart, where every word, action, and heartbeat made by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is analyzed by EVERYONE BUT THEM!  What is wrong with everyone that they need to give a damn about someone of general importance’s love life!?  And why do I have to be in this position!  We haven’t even held hooves!  We may never hold hooves!  Do ponies even hold hooves!?

“Thanks, Rarity,” I whispered back before gently nudging her aside and walking in, chuckling at how ridiculous this whole fiasco was.

I entered the living room, which had Storm Wing, Twilight, Luna, Applejack, and surprisingly enough, Starlight all sitting around in various moods.  They had all been chatting idly, but as soon as I was noticed, it was like the movie had just started and everypony had become deathly silent.


“Woah,” I murmured, no doubt confusing them all, “That was impressive.  We didn’t even choreograph that fade-to-silence.  Here, let me see if it works twice.”

I backed out of the room and walked back in, acting just as surprised the second time.

“Oh, grow up, Firewall,” Rarity huffed at me as she and Dashy walked past.

“That’s asking a lot,” Storm Wing murmured.

“I didn’t say you could talk, loser!” Rainbow Dash berated him.


“I didn’t ask, little girl,” he countered.

The two of them took off from there and I stopped listening.  I stared around the room for a few seconds before looking at Luna, who was staring intently back at me.  It was quite clear that both of us wanted to be elsewhere right now.  With or away from each other, it didn’t matter.  We just didn’t want to be around everypony else that was making this their business, good intentions or not.

“Ya’ll need ta hush, both’a ya!” Applejack hollered at them, bringing silence back to the room.

“So, yeah, everypony beat it,” Starlight ordered as she got up and started to leave, “These two don’t need an audience around.”

Applejack winked at Starlight as she got up and passed, probably thinking the same thing.

When everypony hesitated, she looked back and snapped her tail loudly, “Out!”

Storm Wing did not like being ordered by his subordinate, but it was obvious that she was right and thus, he didn’t make a scene about it.  Rainbow Dash and Rarity were quick to bolt out, quite intimidated by the edgy Starlight.  

“Storm,” I called out to him as I held out a hoof to halt Twilight’s departure.

“What?” He turned to look back at me from the door.

“Sorry about earlier,” I said before looking to Twilight, “Friends shouldn’t fight.”

“Forget about it,” he turned back for the door, “Friends fight all the time.  Letting it come between them is when they stop being friends.”

Screw Captain Storm Wing for being so awesome and profound.  I continued to stare down at Twilight  (I may be very big, but I feel so very little~!) before taking a long deep breath.

“Right.  And I’m sorry for yelling at you, Twilight,” I said to her with a chagrined frown, “You deserve a lot more than somepony that says he’s a friend to mistreat you.”

Twilight smiled up at me.  She didn’t say anything; she just gave me a hug and walked out.  Really, that was all that I needed to know that everything was going to be okay.  Until I looked to Luna, curled up on Rarity’s couch, still watching me.  I did likewise from across the room and for a good minute or two, nothing happened.

Finally, she stuck her tongue out at me.  As childish as that was, it decreased the tension so much, you just don’t know.

“Awesome,” I nodded in appreciation, “Well done.”

“You’re such a jerk,” she said with a pouting frown.

“I’ll try to do better next time,” I chuckled, “Maybe some applause and a bunch of confetti.  And streamers.”

“Why’d you let me say those things?” She was still pouting.

“I’m obviously the one to blame here,” I performed a low sweeping bow, “I apologize for not knocking you the hell out.  I’ll be better about that next time.”

“Would have been better than me hitting you,” she looked down, shaking her head, “I’m sorry, Firewall, I was just angry and... Why didn’t you leave when I told you to!?”

I gave a snicker, reaching up to rub at my poor bruised eye, “Probably the same reason Twilight wouldn’t leave when I was angry.”

She hopped up from the couch and cantered over.  One spell later, and I was suddenly able to perceive depth again.  We shared a smile and once again, Equestria was all perfect again.  Except for, you know, The Nightmare, Azure Flora, and Giant Ice Pony.  Oh, and eternal night.  And Canterlot being taken over by shadow ponies.  And then there were voices in my head.  But you know, just small things like that.

“Thanks for that.” I blinked a few times, testing it out.

“Mmhmm,” she nuzzled at me, smiling happily, “Next time I start to say such stupid things, just knock me out, mmkay?”

“I... I...” I was all flustered from the affectionate display, “Yeah!  Knock ya... right out... Can do.”

“Don’t agree so quickly,” she laughed before looking up at me, “Lean down here.”

“I’m scared.” I pouted fearfully.

“Do it, filly!” she ordered.

I leaned a little.

“Closer.”

Little more.

“Cloooooser~!” She sing-songed.

Hesitantly, I complied.  I really wish I hadn’t, though.  Because this is where you think AMAGAD THUR GONNA KISS NAO and that’s not a bad assumption because that’s what I thought, too.  But no.  That’s just what she wanted me to think.  That little (Pony Censor~!) turned my (More Pony Censor~!) hair bright bubblegum pink and ran out of the (So Much Pony Censor~!) house while I stood there in shock.  She didn’t get away with it, though.  I ran outside after her, seething in indignant rage.  They had all been waiting out there, wondering why Luna had just run outside, cackling like a candidate for the loony bin, however, not one of them were dumb enough to ask me why my hair was pink.

“Twilight!” I shouted as I burned a trollface image into the ground.  I grabbed her and pointed at the image, “I need a fireproof picture of this and FIREPROOF TAPE, QUICK!  LIKE FIVE MINUTES AGO!”

Long Story Short: I used my new speedy fire trick, caught her immature butt just outside of town, held her sorry plot down as I taped that damn thing to her (which she laughed maniacally through, taking the majority of the fun out of it), and immediately began wondering how to change my mane and tail back to their appropriate colors.

“You’re such a troll,” I huffed as I tried magicking my hair which availed me no results.

“You love it!” She was still on the ground, laughing at me as though I had just told that joke that kills people from Monty Python.

“You just shut up and lay on that there ground,” I ordered, rolling my eyes irritably, “Of all my crimes, leaving my phone out has got to be the worst one, yet.”

“Awww~!” she got up and gave me a big trollish hug. “Is somepony sore?”

“Damn right, I am.” I stood up, pulling away from her. “Trolls hurt.  You hurt me.  Feel bad, Luna.  Feel bad.”

“But it’s so much fun!” she declared as she held onto me with a snuggle to my cheek. “Don’t you think?”

“Nope.” I denied such a ludicrous notion, still pulling away from her. “You get off me before I get a rolled up newspaper and pummel you with it.”

“Oh hush,” She said before planting a kiss of my cheek. “Don’t be such a baby.”

I blushed brightly as she mussed my pink hair, still happily leaning against me.  We kept like that for a good long while, standing around in the middle of nowhere.  Me trying not to look happy so as to discourage further antagonizing, her with a stupid grin plastered on her face.  Even through all my annoyance, I was still able to enjoy it.  I knew, however, that this carefree time was running out and this very well might have been the last time we would get to do this.

“Mmmm,” she hummed as she looked up at the stars, “So, we need to go see your friend soon.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, sighing softly and remorsefully, “Things are probably going to get rough when we do.”

“Well, we can’t stay like this forever,” she replied.

“Not really,” I agreed, pulling out a cigarette.

“Not right now,” she took it away from me, provoking my ire somewhat, “You can wait until after we’re done.”

“Pony cuddling.  Serious business,” I said in a dramatic voice.

“Very serious,” she nodded, giggling a tad, “You know, I bet Earth would be a much nicer place if there were more humans like you.”

“Earth’s great.  It’s not perfect, but go to any pony-fan circle and you’ll see a bunch more people just like me,” I reminded her, smirking up at the stars along with her.

“I like to pretend you’re special,” she said with a laugh.

“Mom always said I was.” True story, bro.

“You don’t know how to talk without being silly, do you.” Her sigh was wistful.  I think I had finally squeezed every last laugh out of her.  It sure had taken a long time.

“Wut r serious?  Can you eat it?” I said in that overly dramatic tone.

“I’m serious,” she said as she looked up at me.

“Well, I don’t want to devour you,” I said after having considered that.

“Firewall.”

It was obvious she wanted me to be serious, too.  My current mindset of serious was worried, and I didn’t want to spoil the mood by being that way.  However, she was bound and determined to get it out of me, so I was forced to give her what she wanted.

“Fiiine~... Listen, Luna, I may not be able to stay here,” I murmured softly before turning to face her somewhat, “and while that may not be the case, either, the last thing I want to do is hurt you.”

“I’m not going to worry about it.” She looked down as she laid her head against my shoulder.

“Luna.” I didn’t like such emotional lines.  It was like jinxing it, or something.  Kinda like how ‘hey yaw watch th’eus~!’ was a death sentence.

“Shush,” she demanded as she batted a wing at me, “I’m the oldest one here.  Listen to your elders.”

“I forget just how freakin’ old you really are sometimes.” I gave a slight chuckle

“I can make the rest of you pink, as well.”

“Nooo~!” I took that threat seriously. “I’ll be good!”

“You bet your haunch you are.”

“Just... I’m worried about you, is all.”

“I know,” she looked up at me, smiling, “It’s why I like you.”

“Then can I ask you a favor?” I smiled back down at her.

“Of course,” she tilted her head, curious as to what was on my mind.

“Well, I’d really like it iiiif~...” I leaned down, slowly.

“Yes?” Her smile grew a bit.

“If you could...” Still leaning in.  INORITE?

“Yes?”

“Change my hair back before we do anything else.” I TOTALLY GOT HER!  Cheap shot, but I don’t fight fair in the least, remember?

“I hate you,” she grumped before hoofing me right in the ribs.

“Ow!” I curled up a bit to nurse the sudden pain.

“Seriously.  I know you’re worried about me,” she murmured as she looked back down, “I know the risks, I’m not stupid.”

“I never said you were,” I sat back up straight, gently kicking at the ground.

“I know, you might have to go and that might be tomorrow, that might be a week from now, that might be a year from now,” she hung her head a bit, “One of us might not make it through all this.  I know.  And there’s the fact that you’re not really a pony.”

Mmmm... Those elephants in the room.  Damn them.  One and all.

“That does make it a bit awkward.” I concurred with a slight nod.

“A little.” she nodded before looking up. “But... Nopony else will ever understand me now.  And, I know that’s my fault, more than anything.  Not that I’m desperate by... you know... liking you, and stuff.  ”

“That’s... nice of you?” So silly.

“I’m just... Even if you leave.  Tomorrow.” She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, “I’ll still have had somepony there for me and for once, I won’t feel lonely.  Even if just for a little bit.”

“I...” I didn’t know what to say, is what was really going on.

“So just... stop being smart and stupid at the same time,” she turned away to cough a bit.

“Okay.” Then came the most epic mind battle I’ve ever had to fight.  Me against Lafter and Stoic.  Reason after reason popped up as to why I shouldn’t do what I was contemplating doing.  They seemed so silly, though.  They weren’t voicing actual reason as much as they were voicing reasons for their fear.  My fear.  Acknowledging these fears was sensible, sure.  But being cowed by my fears was stupid, as Luna had said.  Still, ignoring these fears was even worse.

“Okay?” She turned back to me.

“Okay, I admit it,” I confirmed with a smirk, “I’m scared and stupid.  But it’s not for stupid reasons.”

“Right,” she deflated a bit, but nodded, “Then, I guess... after it’s all said and done.  That’s probably for the best.  We’ll just... wait for that day.”

“Then we can try.  And possibly stop dancing around it fearfully.”

“Right.  Waiting until that day,” she said, “right after this.”

“Right after what, now?” I looked down at her in confusion.

“This,” she whispered before wrapping her hooves around my neck and pulling me down into a kiss.

No, I’m not going into details on what it was like.  Suffer if you must, but some things are just sacred and this was definitely one of them.  It was simply a placeholder in a book we were closing until we were certain that we could finish it.  It was a very nice placeholder, to be sure, but it was a placeholder nonetheless.

“That...” I murmured after we... separated, “That was so not waiting.”

“Suffer,” she said with a laugh, tapping my forehead with her horn, “And I’m a princess, I’ll wait when it so pleases me.”

“Of course,” I smirked as I glanced up to see my mane change back to its original colors, “Let’s get back to the others before grand assumptions are made about us running of together, alone.  You keep that stupid Trollface on, though.  You earned it.”

And so we trotted back to Appleloosa, cherishing the big mushy moment we shared for as long as we could.  As bad as this sounds, I was starting to forget about ever going home, content to just... live out my days in the fun and adventurous land of Equestria.  Living the dream, mackin’ out on the princess, and generally be envy of all bronies everywhere.  At the same time though, I knew I had to take it seriously.  If I wanted to stay, I had to help fix the damage caused by myself and other humans.  Otherwise this Equestria would become a tragic tale of caution, used to warn others just how badly good intentions can go.

When we arrived back at Appleloosa, we headed straight for the Town Hall.  We weren’t surprised to find Storm Wing and Twilight inside.  We were, however surprised to see Whirlwind and Silverheart along with them.  It didn’t take long for the dire mood to settle in.  Play time was over.

“Silverheart, glad you’re okay.  Thought you were going to be ground bound for longer than that.” I nodded as we entered the room.

“I ordered Tendercare to... expedite the process.” She gave a ghost of a smirk.  “We’ve got big problems on our hooves, though.”

“Nightmare Sol and the Shadow Ponies are following the train,” Storm Wing explained.

“Guess she’s willing to find out if Celestia can handle fighting away from the sun,” Luna growled with a glare.

“We’ll be able to fight them off.  This won’t be an ambush like before,” Twilight said with a nod.

“Well, we’re gonna be playing for keeps,” Whirlwind said with a nod, “We lost Blue Rain, Aurora, and Dusty to the Shadow Ponies, so with Hot Shot, they’ve four Sky Archons with them.”

“Looks like our little trip is going to be put on h-...!” I started to say before I was quite rudely interrupted.

Remember when I said it hurt when The Observer first contacted me?  Yeah.  I just didn’t know what real pain felt like.  I fell to the ground as I seized up, rife with pain that came from every last part of me.  I tried crying out, but no sound came forth.  At least, no sound that I was trying to give out.  The sound I was going for would have been a pitiful scream.  Instead, out of my mouth came this:

“I am The Observer!  You must hurry to me!”  That was my mouth, but that wasn’t my voice.“Time is short!”

Awesome.  I’m a puppet now.  That thrills me to no end.  Cross something else off on the list of things I wish I’d never done.

“Stop!  You’re hurting him!” Twilight cried out as everypony gathered around my prone self.

“His pain is momentary and necessary for me to deliver this message!  You must come to me in the Everfree Forest at the Old Capitol!  Without fail!”

“We’re soon to be under attack, Observer,” Luna said calmly, staring down at me angrily, “We’ll get to you as soon as we’ve repelled them.  Now, release Firewall at once!”

“It will not matter if I am taken before you are victorious!  We’ve a few scant hours and I am cutting into that time by speaking to you!  There is no alternative for either of us!”

“I’ve no reason to trust a pony that refuses to show himself,” Storm Wing snarled angrily, “We’ll get to you when we can and not a moment sooner.”

“Trust me or do not.  Disregard me, though, and Equestria and Earth will be burned to ashes.  I must go.  Make your choiaaaggggh!  N... Never again!”

Luna knelt down to help nudge me up.  I was sweating all over from such an ordeal, panting in shock at what had just happened.  It was so intense that I didn’t even have the capacity to think, much less do something about it.  Even still, I was aching all over, as though I had just been pieced back together, bit by bit.

“We... We need to get to him... Now,” I said between every other gasp, reaching a hoof up to wipe my brow, “This isn’t... Something we can... just ignore.”

“We’ve got a town to defend and innocents living in it.  We can’t just pack up and leave on a field trip,” Whirlwind protested.

“Not to mention many more to come,” Silverheart reminded us, “The citizens from Canterlot are going to be arriving soon.  The Sky Archons are with them, but this isn’t just a few monsters we’re going up against.  It’s an army.”

Even I was up against a wall with that argument.  I knew, deep down, that The Observer was our chance to stop this now but I couldn’t easily justify risking so many ponies on the whim of my intuition.

“This is the voice you told me about, Firewall?” Luna asked me, to which I confirmed with a nod, “Alright then.  We’re going.  You, me, and Twilight, right?”

“And Storm Wing,” I confirmed with a nod.

“I’m not going anywhere.” He shook his head. “I’ve lost four Sky Archons to Nightmare Sol and I’m going to get them back, even if I have to beat it out of her.”

“You’re coming, Storm.  You especially.  This concerns you more than it concerns Twilight, and even me,” I shuddered as the last bit of the aching pain slowly drained out of me.

“How so?” He didn’t seem happy, but his curiosity was definitely peaked.

“I think this has something to do with your parents,” I responded with a sigh, “I think this... Observer is the human that visited Equestria a thousand years ago.  And the one that made the first Sky Archon.  Your father.”

Everypony stood there in silence for several seconds.  Surprisingly enough, Twilight was the first to respond.

“Wow,” she uttered sardonically, “It’s time for a recap, I’m obviously very far behind.”

“On our way.  I’ll explain the entire thing, but the four of us need to roll,” I compromised, “I think he’s in danger and I’m even more certain he can help.  Storm, are you coming?”

“I just...” He was definitely conflicted on the matter. “What if you’re wrong, Firewall?  What if it’s a trap?  Hay, what if this Observer is wrong?  It doesn’t even have to be an enemy for us to lose everything.”

I hung my head and gave a shrug, “I don’t know, Storm.  But right now, this is a losing situation.  We’re not going to thrive like this.  It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.  Assuming it ever does.  If we’re right, we might pull this out like a buncha champs.  If we’re wrong, it’s probably going to be over really quick, rather than really slowly.”

“You don’t know that!” Whirlwind shoved a hoof at me accusingly. “There are always options.  You always told me that, Captain.”

“Storm Wing?” Silverheart stepped over to Storm Wing, who had shut his eyes, trying to think of another argument.

“I... I don’t like to be pessimistic,” Twilight offered with a grimace, “But if their numbers grow for every pony they take and ours diminish... It... It would just be a matter of attrition.  I know this is a bad analogy, but... if the game doesn’t let you win... change the rules.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Whirlwind shook his head before looking to Storm Wing, “You’re the Captain, Storm.  If you want to give this a shot, you know I’ve faith in you, mate.  I don’t have all the answers but... It can’t be so simple as ‘when do we lose,’ can it?”

“I’m going to go get the Carriage,” Luna slowly turned to leave, “Make up your mind, Storm.  I’m not going to order you, but we are going.  With or without you.”

“With,” he responded before she was out the door, “I’m going.  Firewall, you had better be right, I swear, we are betting so much on this and... We lost so much on our last gamble.  Lieutenant Silverheart, Lieutenant Whirlwind:  Follow Luna to where she’s set up her Rhyme of Eternal Night.  I want you both guarding it.  If that falls, it’s over.  Starlight’s in command.  Don’t fail me.”

“Sir!” they both replied and rushed out the door.  Whirlwind didn’t look happy, but he wasn’t going to question his orders.  Sky Archons.  You just don’t know reliability until you meet one.

“Thanks, Storm,” is all I said as we left Town Hall.

It was all pretty much quiet from there.  The alarm had been sounded, all the ponies went into hiding, and those few brave enough to fight were gathered at the Square.  As you might have guessed, all of the six were there, ready to do their part.  Storm Wing pulled Rainbow Dash to the side to give her a bit of combat coaching, particularly worried for her sake.  Me?  I was scared to death and couldn’t laugh it off for once.  There must have been less than a hundred ponies ready to fight.  What was it all coming to, I kept asking myself.  Ponies fighting war?  What sick mind was twisting these events.

As we prepared to leave on the Sky Carriage, I found myself wondering what would happen if the spell was broken.  Or if the Sky Archons all became Shadow Archons.  Then I saw Fluttershy huddling up to Pinkie Pie for comfort and it tore me up to see it. I kept fearing that one of the Mane Six might get shadowed and we wouldn’t be able to free Celestia from The Nightmare.

That’s when it hit me.

“The Elements of Harmony,” I mouthed silently before turning to Luna, “Luna, where are the Elements of Harmony?”

She looked at me in shock before hanging her head a bit, sighing, “I had to use them to power the Rhyme of Eternal Night.  I couldn’t hold up the moon while I rested, so Twilight and I channeled their power into the spell.”

“But they’re okay,” I nodded fearfully.

“They are, but... Once the spell is broken, I won’t be able to control the moon again for a long time,” she replied as Twilight approached.

“We... planned on using them as a last ditch effort.  The Archons should be able to hold back the Shadow Ponies and even Nightmare Sol, but if they can’t, we were going to break the spell and use the Elements,” she explained before nodding, “So if the sun rises, I’ll teleport back to the others and we’ll do what we can with what we have.”

“I’ve already explained to them that they’re to remain on the back lines,” Storm Wing hopped onto the Carriage and nodded, “Trust me, Firewall, we’re as prepared as we’re going to get.  You’re not the only one that can think on the fly.”

“Thank god for that,” I nodded, a tad relieved, “I’m just... I’m just worried.”

“We all are.” Luna smiled, her eyes a tad downcast with fear of her own. “We’ve got what it takes, though.  Let’s... save Equestria.”

“Right on.” I nodded as I hopped beside Storm Wing.

Twilight and Luna boarded, and we were given a sad sendoff by all the ponies watching us fly away.  We promised to be back.  I will say one thing did cheer me up a bit as I looked down at all the ponies waving up at us.  That of Prince Blueblood standing amongst them.  There might be some hope for that pony after all.

As we flew, I recapped everything I knew about the situation to both Twilight and Storm Wing.  Twilight was particularly interested in the parts about Inmanipulon (I know, I used the word.  Blargh.) and how it was a focusing of magic that left magicless spaces in it’s wake.  Storm, actually, didn’t speak.  Not even when I told him that Azure Flora was probably his mother.  He just sat and listened through the whole thing and kept it all bottled up.  You’d think there’d have been a huge DUN DUN DUN gasp moment, but no, not Storm Wing.  As strange as that was, though, I wasn’t entirely surprised.

The trip took a while, as you might expect, but after Storm Wing took the reins, we began to rocket like never before.  He was pushing himself to get this done so quickly, we could all tell.  Still, the results could not be argued with.  Twilight projected a windshield in front of us even and in just a couple of hours, we caught sight of the Everfree Forest off in the distance.  That was when our first obstacle appeared.

“We’ve got company,” Luna was staring off to the side, specifically a large cloud billowing our way from Canterlot.  It was moving fast.  As in, Sky Archon fast.

“Do you think it’s Hot Shot?” Twilight asked.

“No,” Storm shook his head, “Hot Shot’s a Sword Archon.  He’s not very talented at weather manipulation.”

“Probably that Ice Pony,” I nodded at Storm Wing, sighing softly. “Nothing’s ever easy.”

“Nothing worth it ever was,” he countered with a similar nod.

“TREMBLE, FOALS!” a very particular voice boomed from the cloud as it approached.

“Not her.” Luna facehoofed.

I won’t lie, the voice of Trixie still kinda... pepped me up just a tad.  I know, that’s bad.  It’s very bad.  I should probably get that checked, maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Like that would be a huge stretch, right?

“They won’t catch us.” Storm Wing snapped angrily before kicking the overdrive into overdrive overdrive.  So much overdrive!

“Ack!”  I fell back against Luna, who was gracious enough to catch me (The first and only time a pony caught me.  I get choked up just thinking about it!).  I looked up at her with wry grin and chuckled, “Y’know, ponies are going to talk if stuff like this keeps happening.”

“Like they aren’t already,” Twilight rolled her eyes as she looked back out at the cloud, “We’re losing them and... Woah... Storm Wing, S... Slow down!”

Storm Wing is a crazy mother bucker.  He dove right into the Everfree Forest at top speed, weaving amongst those trees like a champ.  I glanced at how close we were getting and immediately opted to not look beyond the confines of the A.S.C.A. afterwards.  I’ll put it this way.  We were going so fast that and getting so close that the trees were losing their leaves and bending with the drag.  I failed to resist the urge to look beyond the looking outside of my ride as I got back up and immediately grabbed Twilight, shaking in fear.  She grabbed me right back as we began screaming incoherently. I remember just hoping my death would be swift.  Luna just looked at her hoof and gave it a casual breath polishing, not worried in the slightest.  Troll.

“OHHHHH MYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!” I screamed as we blazed through the foliage.  This was not good for my heart.  Or anypony else’s heart for that matter.  I was this close to wetting myself.  Compare it to flying a much more maneuverable F-16 through an extra-tight canyon, if you must.

Like a champ, he made a wide swinging break that you’d see in a Burnout game or something, stopping us just a few feet away from the ruins of the old capitol.  Twilight and I were shaking like rattles, still.  When it finally registered that we had stopped moving, I hopped off that Carriage as fast as I could and shoved a hoof at Storm Wing.

“NEVER AGAIN!” I swore, “NOT EVEN TO SAVE MY LIFE!”

“Ha~... Agreed,” Twilight’s legs shook as she stepped off, her voice even shakier, “F-For... Forbidden, Storm.”

“You’re such a pair of fillies,” Storm Wing commented as he and Luna flapped their way off the ride.

“Indeed.  Pony up, kids,” Luna smirked as she landed beside him.  She looked up at the ruins and gave a serious scowl, “Let’s find this guy, pony, whatever, and get back to Appleloosa.”

With that, we began to scour the old city, trying to find this ‘tallest tower’ when in fact; the city was actually quite big.  Thanks to Twilight’s OP self, we were able to get a magic map of the surrounding area and pinpointed it on the far side, away from the castle itself.  What sucked though?  Ice Pony.  We knew we had wasted too much time when the fog began to roll in and sure enough, there he was at the entrance to the tower with Trixie and Azure Flora seemingly working to try and get the entrance open.

“The Anti-Magic isn’t working!” Azure Flora cried angrily, standing just behind her big frost bodyguard.

“Trixie told you to let her try first!” She snapped back, even angrier, “Now, The Great and Powerful Trixie can’t blast the stupid door down because your stupid dust is in the way!”

“They’re here,” Ice Pony announced as we stared at them.

SUPPLIES!” I cried out happily, “Hey, let’s work together to get the door open!  We wanna see what’s inside, too!”

“Shut up, Firewall,” Luna hit me in the shoulder for my nonsense.  You’d think everypony would come to expect it by now, but I guess not.  Twilight giggled at least.

Hey, I can dream.

“No, no!” Azure Flora grabbed her mane in frustration, “Please!  Hold them back until we can get inside.”

I tried, at least.

“I will,” he nodded before suddenly dashing at us.

“You’re mine,” I heard Storm Wing say before rushing to meet him head on.  I went to stop him, remembering Hot Shot but Storm’s kinda fast so uh... I ended up just having to chase after him.  Even as I covered myself in fire, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him.  Like I said.  Kinda fast.

Funny thing about Storm Wing, he’s a lot stronger than Hot Shot.  I expected it to go Ice Pony’s way when they hit, but Storm Wing actually flipped backwards midflight and bucked him hard.  Like... You could feel it through the ground, hard.  Ice Pony ain’t no pushover, though, and simply halted his backwards ricochet before rocketing back towards us.

While him and Storm tangled, Twilight teleported next to Azure Flora before giving her a buck straight to the face.  Trixie moved to cast but suddenly got shot straight up into the sky thanks to a spell from Luna, who immediately took flight to chase after her.

“Help!” Flora cried out, stumbling back from Twilight whom was taking a physical approach to the anti-magic pony.

I grinned as the Ice Pony suddenly broke away from Storm Wing.  He flew straight for Twilight to blindside her, but I actually got to contribute by blazing up to intercept, catching the giant pony by his tail and using his momentum to swing him around and sling him against a nearby building.  I chased him to it and helped him pick up a little more speed by air tackling him into it, yelling out in triumph as I finally got to hit my first pony that wasn’t Blueblood.

“Firewall, down!”  Storm called out as flew in behind me.  I didn’t question, I just hit the ground as flatly as I could and he punched Ice pony straight through the building’s newly-damaged wall.

“Give it up, Azure!” Twilight demanded, kicking at her again.

“I can’t!” she cried out as she backed away.

“Look around us, you stupid girl!” I yelled out, getting back up and snorting a bit of fire, “How is this any better than what I could possibly do!?  You and The Nightmare are killing Equestria more than I ever could!”

“Eeeep~!”  Luna suddenly flew past me as Trixie came in behind her with a pair of magical purple starry wings, blasting lightning at her.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is better than some dumb princess!” she declared as she started to rocket past me, too preoccupied to bother with anything else.

So, I clotheslined her with an outstretched hoof.  Simple as that.  I wish I could say that was the end of that, but Trixie glared at me after reorienting herself and sent me flying with an extra hateful bolt of lightning of disdain.  And here I was her biggest fan.  I crashed into a nearby crumbling shed, only to cause it to collapse on me loudly but painlessly, surprisingly enough.  I bolted out from under all the debris almost immediately, wondering how I could take such a hit and not be out of it before remembering my fiery aura.  It was obviously playing multiple roles here.  How handy, don’t you think?  I know I did.

“Just... go... AWAY!” Flora yelled, her frustration finally peaking before manifesting a myriad of metal bars that grabbed Twilight and slammed her into the closest building, bending around her legs and neck to pin her there non-lethally.

“Ergh!” Twilight struggled against her bonds to no avail before looking back at me as I paused to catch up on the situation, “Firewall, look out!”

Trixie had caught me with my pants down and was about to give me more of the same when I got my plot saved.  Luna took Trixie’s distraction towards me as an opportunity to blast her against Azure Flora, knocking the showpony out.

Ice Pony came soaring back to her aid.  I decided to interrupt his rescue mission a second time by speedily dashing up the tower’s wall and stopped halfway up to jump off of it and collide into him.  I bounced off of him harmlessly like a pinball, but the crash hit him much harder and his dive was pushed straight towards the ground.  Storm Wing caught him mid fall and expedited the process, brutally driving him right into the dirt.  I landed with a grunt and immediately dashed straight for him, knowing he wouldn’t stay down, just yet.  Sure enough, just as he started to not-so-quickly get up, he was lined up for me to run him back over.  Storm Wing finished it  all off by flying into the sky and crashing down onto him with a large bolt of lightning in his wake.

“No!” Azure Flora shrieked in horror as she shoved Trixie off of her to help her protector.

I let the fire die out around me, amazingly winded from having used all that magic and energy.  Even Storm Wing was breathing hard as he got off the huge Ice Pony and stepped away, still crackling with electricity.

“It’s over, Azure Flora,” Luna called out, landing behind Flora with her horn threateningly bared towards her.

She hung her head in defeat, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.  That wasn’t so bad, right?

“Not... Over...!”

The Ice Pony swung a hoof at Storm Wing, who jumped back in time, landing near me with an annoyed sigh.

“He’s the Jugga’nawt~!” I laughed sadly, shaking my head as I turned the heat back up around me. (Yo weapon have no effect on me, I’m the Ice Pony, [email protected]#$&!!)

“If he doesn’t stay down on his own,” Storm Wing growled, “Then we’ll make him stay down.”

We started to charge at him as he began to slowly work his way back up, only to be interrupted by Azure Flora throwing herself in our path and embracing the Icy Freak protectively.

“We give up, we give up!” she cried, causing us to hit the brakes, “P-Please! D... Don’t hurt him anymore!  We surrender!”

The anti-magic bars holding up Twilight suddenly evaporated, freeing her from her uncomfortable constriction.

“What a relief,” I said with a sigh, putting my fire back out.

“Amen.” Storm Wing nodded.

She began to sob as she pulled his helmet and nuzzled against his face.  His mane was steel blue and his fur was grey as a cloudy sky.  Fortunately, he looked exhausted and mostly out of it.  He tried to get back up, but she forced him back down, her tears turning to ice upon touching his face.

“Stop,” she ordered him, “Just stop.”

“Glad that’s over,” Twilight sighed as she and Luna approached.

“Indeed, I... Wait... It’s impossible,” Luna stared at towards Azure and her protector with a bewildered look in her eyes.  After nearing them, she gently nudged Azure Flora aside as she looked upon the Ice Pony’s face in shock, “Winter Sky!?  But you’re dead!”

“Not dead.”  The voice came from the tower as the doors slowly swung open, emitting a blinding blue light.

For several seconds, we all had to look away before the light finally began to fade.  When everything became visible again, we all watched in awe as a large blue spectral pegasus.  His wings were just as abnormally large as the Ice Pony’s were, though his eyes were much softer and kind.  He was somewhat transparent, but there was no mistaking that he and the pony in Azure’s embrace were almost completely identical.  He stared at each and every one of us before looking to Azure Flora and smiling somewhat.  Flora’s eyes were wide with disbelief, as though what she was seeing were only a cruel trick.

“Merely forgotten.” It’s voice was distant and echoing as though it’s source was somewhere else altogether, “But no longer.  I remember my name again, at last.  I remember everything.”

The armored Ice Pony began to glow a soft grey light before suddenly vanishing, leaving only the light in its wake.  Flora gasped in shock as her hooves were suddenly empty before watching the light flow towards the spectre, and we were all forced to look away again as another great flash of light flickered out from him.  As we all looked back, we saw a new pegasus standing there in white armor with a long, wild steel blue mane and tail.  Hair just like Storm Wing’s.

“My name is Winter Sky, The Shield of Equestria,” he said, his voice and form now corporeal, “And after a thousand years, I have returned.”

Chapter Nine                                                                        Chapter Eleven

Next time on “Through The Eyes Of Another Pony!

“Oh no!”

“What?!  What’s happening?!”

“Can you not see?!”

“Firewall...”

“Friggin’... … You’re not blind, Storm.  Okay?  When I can make faces at you and you can’t see them, you’re blind.  Until then, you can’t say you are.  Just... visually impaired.”

“Just shut up and tell me what’s going on!”

“The sun is rising!”

~

“NO!  IMPOSSIBLE!  YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!”

“Keep telling yourself that as I tear you out of her.”

“I SAW YOU DIE!!”

“Yeah.  Just like that.”

~

“PORQUE ROSALITAAAAA!!!!”

~

“You know, I don’t think it’s supposed to go that way.”

“Oh, and you’re the expert.”

“Well, I know more about human culture than you.”

“Sonuva... …  Let us not forget WHICH of us is an ACTUAL human!”

~

“I... I think I’m pregnant.  Storm Wing... You’re the father.”

“Firewall, I swear to Celestia, I will knock you out so hard that Luna has to travel back in time to prevent us from ever meeting.”

“Woah.  Is that a death threat?”

“I always wanted to try out time travel.  Go for it, Storm.”

“I object to this line of thinking and all those supporting it.”

~

“Well, I kinda like you.”

“No!  You don’t like me!  You like torturing me!”

“I get the two confused sometimes.”

~

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Final Word Count: 20,786  @[email protected]


Through The Eyes Of Another Pony

Chapter Eleven:  An Underlying Tone Of Chapter Setting In

How to start...  So much to say, it’s been over a month now!  That’s just no bueno!  Let’s start off with some good news, though...

Internet is back very soon!  Thanks to a certain kind soul, that is.  Let us thank him from the bottom of our ponies!  Thank you~!  <3

So, guys...  I’ve had an idea.  A wonderful idea.  A brilliant idea, even.  I don’t want to say what it is, but let’s just say that this idea will change my life forever and has the capacity to change all of your lives, too!  Here in the next year or so, I’ll be able to elaborate more on it.  And once you’ve understood the idea in it’s fullest, you may have one of those moments.  You’ll know it when you see/feel it.  Just keep an eye out for the future.  It’s gonna get hairy!

Next we have this Bronychan vs EQD writing war.  No, I won’t be participating because I’ve got this baby to soak up my creative juices...

Now I’m kinda miffed at myself for failing to achieve an objective.  See, I originally wrote out the first and final scenes of this chapter with the intention of filling everything in.  It failed.  :(  I expected to write a total of nine thousand words and ended up with nineteen thousand words.  That’s no good at all.  Not for the reasons you might think.  See, I want to get good enough at managing my time and effort in this so that I don’t fall behind when certain events in my life start taking off.  If I can’t effectively manage myself, I can’t effectively plan out for future chapters and that just won’t do.  This will be taken care of.  Pronto!

Anyway, I’ve seen a few people talking about bronyism failing due to things like AskPonies shutting down, writers leaving for other projects, and composers moving to different forms of inspiration.  I think such an idea is rubbish.  That is all.  :3

Anyway, Google Docs has screwed around with my process again and the proofie page got a little jumbled.  No big deal, we worked through it and my Proofies have proven to be just as awesome as they always have been.  HAIL PROOFIES!

Didn’t pick up Skyrim.  Nope, I’m a loser that’s saving myself for Diablo 3.  Yeah, you heard me.  I meant every word.

For those of you that worry that I might have rushed, don’t be.  I write as I’m inspired, no matter how fast I’m going.  The only thing a little rushing does is create more typos and sentence structure choppiness.  That’s what the proofies are there for.  :3

“And now the part you’ve all been waiting for!  THE SECOND PART!”

… Errr, Art.  Now for the ART you’ve all been waiting for.  :o  Mah B, Mah B.

Don’t forget to show these guys some love on DeviantArt for all their hard work!  :D

Told you I can pull off looking good in pink...  >_> Spaggotmower on Deviant art, kids!

Let’s guess...  Just how many f***s is Firewall giving right now?  IceStormBoarder did this masterpiece!  <3

Ah, Wrek.  As always, your abilities never cease to amaze me.  Also, Winter Sky is HUGE!  HOLY SHIT!

SirCinnamon decided to make this fit!  AND FIT IT DOES!  

YEY FOR RAINBOW DASH IN COMPROMISING POSITIONS!

Wrek's interpretation of Firewall’s Blazing Speed IS TOO DAMN BIG!  SO HAVE A LINK!

Firewall Is On FIYAH!

AND A FREAKING DRAMATIC READING!  YES, YOU HEARD RIGHT!  HERE IT BE!  GO RYEXANDER!

http://soundcloud.com/ryexander/through-the-eyes-of-another

Bagpipe Brony did this epic song for me!  I LURVES HIM FOR IT!  LURVES, I SAY!  

SONG GOES HERE!

Try to show them your love and comment and rate stuff for them.  :)  They did lots of hard work and they deserve the recognition.  n.n   As always, this fanfic is best viewed through Google Chrome.  Not Internet Destroyer.  Just saying.  

NOW ON WITH THE CHAPTER!  :D

Now, for those of you that need it spelled out, Winter Sky had just made a cinematic return.  A very cinematic return.  Why these special effects weren't in the show, I'm not sure, I guess they cost a lot, but to be fair, there wasn't much violence either (which, honestly, kinda makes me feel bad to this day).

Anyway, there we all were, staring at Winter Sky shining like an alicorn sans the horn.  Truthfully, he looked like Celestia...  Y'know, if she had been a male pegasus with steel blue hair.  I remember my mouth hung open long enough for it to get dry.  The others had similar reactions.  Except Trixie.  She was very preoccupied with being unconscious.  This may come as a surprise, but being knocked out takes a lot of one's attention.

Azure Flora was the first one to react, slowly approaching with wide tear-rimmed eyes.  After a few moments of hesitation though, she rushed to embrace him.  He returned the sentiment, tightly wrapping her in his wings.

"A th...  Thousand years without you," she wept, pressing her face into his armor as she spoke.

"Flora...  I'm so sorry." His voice cracked a little, revealing the guilt he had suffered.

And then they kissed.  Which was like...  Eww, pony-smooching, right?  No, it was sweet and affectionate.  In fact, all this romance was really deflating the urgency of the question that we all were thinking:  Why did we come here again and what was so urgent?  Though the biggest question on my mind was how Storm Wing was going to handle this.  When I looked his way, I was surprised to actually see him gone.  That worried me, because Storm Wing doesn't 'go' anywhere without a bright and loud flash of lightning, which meant he left quietly on purpose.  Red flag, everypony~!

"Ahem," Luna coughed to get their attention, "I'm...  happy for you both, I guess.  However, we aren't exactly making excellent use of our time budget by resorting to PDA.  Not that you guys haven't earned it and whatall."

"Yeah." I nodded.  "We've got problems back at Appleloosa and as much as I want to spend all day asking questions, we gotta roll."

"There is a problem, though,” Twilight pointed out, looking somewhat shy about stating bad news, “Azure Flora won't be able to come with us.”

We all gave her a bizarre look, not understanding until Storm Wing arrived with the A.S.C.A.™ not one moment later.  He immediately planted his butt on its floor like a waiting dog and didn't even look our way.  I got the sneaking suspicion that the family reunion wasn't going to go even remotely well.  Oh, you too?

Oh.  Right,” Luna murmured before looking at both Winter Sky and Azure Flora, “Lady Inmanipulon probably can't fly on a carriage powered by magic.”

Derp.” That was me, by the way.  I couldn't contribute much more to the conversation as I was fetching a cigarette and in the middle of lighting it.

I...” Winter Sky looked torn.  Like...  bad torn.  His vocal decision got delayed, however.  

Specifically by the raising of the sun.

Oh no!” Twilight cried out as Luna gasped in horror.  I noticed it just in time to light my smoke and promptly let it fall out of my mouth as my jaw dropped.

What? What's happening!” Storm Wing called out, suddenly up and ready to throw down again.

Can you not see!?” I responded instantly, mentally kicking myself for letting my mouth get ahead my mind.

Friggin'...  … You're not blind, Storm, Okay? When I can make faces at you and you can't see them, then you're blind.  Until then, you can't say you are,” I snapped irritably, more angry at myself than him, “Just...  Visually impaired or something.”

Just shut up and tell me what's going on!” he countered, not in the mood for smartassery.  Which doesn't compute with me.  I have a watch that says 'Smartassery' on all twelve points.  Good heavens, look at the time...

The sun is rising!” Winter Sky called out before looking back at Azure Flora, “Flora...  … I...”

It's okay,” she nodded, sadly nuzzling up under his chin, “I waited a thousand years, I can wait a bit longer.”

I will come back for you,” he swore softly.

I know,” she smiled up at him.  This was the first time I had ever seen her smile, and I have to say, she's as cute as Fluttershy when she's happy, “I love you.”

And then they kissed again, making us all feel awkward while we waited.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it was epic amounts of D'AAAAAAAWWWWWWWW but their moment of happiness was intruding on our countdown-to-doomsday.  How rude, eh? Ruining my exciting moment with your mushy stuff is not very polite!

Twilight!” I distracted myself from the affection by looking at her, “This is where you teleport back, right?”

Ummm...” She was distracted by the kissing.  Apparently Twilight has yet to see shipping in real life.  Damned social lock-ins.

Twi-chan~...” Luna approached and waved her hoof in front of Twilight's face, “Time to gooo~...”

Oh!” She snapped out of it and blushed, “S-Sorry!  Right.  I'll meet you all there.”

Here.” Luna conjured a small anklet and handed hoofed it to her before she disappeared, “Say my name into that to contact me.  That way you can keep us up-to-date on developments.”

Wow, that's...  actually very handy!” Twilight's curious nature honed in on the toy, “I'll have to analyze it later.  And no more dawdling!”

I resisted the urge to call Luna out on stealing human concepts.  How unfair of her.  I did give her a smirk as Twilight vanished with an echoing puff.  Then I caught the last loose end in the form of a blue unicorn still quite content to lay there, out like a light.  I happily ran over to her and tossed her onto my back before doing the unthinkable.  I put her hat on.  Yeah, that's right.

Firewall, put that down, you don't know where it's been!” Luna called out to me as I trotted back.

It doesn't matter where it's been!  It's Trixie!” I pointed out to her before glancing back at the love birds, “HEY!  You're never gonna miss her if you never leave her, y'know!”

Winter Sky sighed sadly before breaking away from her and leaping onto the A.S.C.A™ (which he was nowhere near, actually, so it was quite a leap.).  I saw the hair on the back of Storm Wing's neck bristle quite a bit.  Tense pony is tense.

Awesome.  One last thing,” I said, turning back to Flora one last time, “Can you throw just a tiny bit of anti-magic on Trixie, here? The last thing we need is for her to wake up and blow up the Carriage.”

She looked my way, mixed emotions coursing through her.  After a moment of hesitation she did as I asked and clamped a small piece of anti-magic jewelery onto Trixie's horn.

Thanks.” I smiled at her. “Take care.”

Just...  go, please.” She looked down a bit, still not entirely kosher with me just yet. “I just... can’t.”

I nodded with a wink before making my way back to the Carriage, where Luna was shaking her head at me.

What's so special about her, anyway?” she asked.

She's Trixie!” I used the answer to Life, Universe, and Everything.  Forty-Two is roughly translated into Trixie, by the way.  Just so you all know.  Don't ask what language, it just does!

I don't understand.” Winter Sky seemed to think we were being serious.

It's best if you just ignore them when they speak to one another,” Storm Wing mentioned off-hand before taking us into low orbit.  Okay, maybe not that high.

Why do you like her so much?” Luna was genuinely worried, I could tell.  Like there might be something wrong with me.  Which really isn't fair, she's got plenty of things wrong with her.  Such as her desire to troll.  And... Um... I'm sure she has other flaws like...  cough up hairballs or something.

I dunno.  She's a fan favorite.  She's an egotistical jerk pony with a penchant for magic and meanness.” I shrugged.  “Same reason I like you so much.”

She took a swing at me, but I quickly leaned away, “Careful, you'll hit the Trixie!  Think of how that should discourage you!”

We call that motivation where I come from!” she snapped, but laid off, failing to resist the urge to smile.  This obviously was not what Winter Sky was expecting, as he just stood there, staring at us with a look that told us he wasn't so confident in his allies any more.  So I decided to involve him in the shenanigans via intense interrogation after gently laying Trixie down, giving her back her hat.

"Okay, since we've got some time to burn on the way there, why don't you fill us in, big guy," I asked with a hopeful smile.  Like I said, intense.  Okay, so maybe the only intense part was how fast Storm Wing was driving us to Appleloosa, but intense is intense.

"Fill you in? On what?" He arched an eyebrow at me.

"Seriously?" I sighed, somewhat deflated from having to lay it out.  "Basically the following: You didn't know who you were, now you do.  Why? How were you able to speak to me? How can-..."

"Let's...  go with one at a time and start with your first one," he said, holding up a hoof to cut me off, "I didn't know who I was because I was fragmented."

"Body, Mind, and Soul," Luna pointed out with a nod, "That explains it."

"The hell it does!" I shook my head as I began to happily pet Trixie, suppressing the inner urge to squee, "Break it down for a human, Tex."

"Very well.  Remember when I told you Winter Sky, or rather, me, gave Celestia his magic in an ultimate sacrifice?"

"Yop." Yop.

"Well, turns out that sacrifice wasn't actually...  lethal," he said with a shrug.

"Something tells me Celestia will be thrilled to no end that she didn't actually kill a pony." I pointed out in jest.

"Oh, no~!  She's not a murderer," Luna drolled on sarcastically, "Just a manipulator.  Not so bad, I guess.  As long as indirect thought control is alright in your book.  Hmph."

"Celestia did what she thought was best, Princess Luna.  I understand, it sounds bad," Winter Sky approached Luna, angrily staring down at her.  He obviously didn't approve of what she was >Implying...  "Being a Leader means having to make difficult decisions.  You may not agree with her actions, but the last thing you should do is undermine her.  Even speaking in such a way can cause a divide that could affect all of Equestria.  Especially coming from an equal authority."

Luna leaned back a bit, not used to such a direct and lecturing attitude from anypony that wasn't her sister.  I blinked, having been quite caught off guard myself.  Some ponies just ooze dominance and authority.  Celestia was one.  Apparently, either her or Winter Sky had rubbed it off on the other.

"If Celestia can choose to do something she feels is wrong for the sake of Equestria, at the very least you can do the same by not voicing a dissenting opinion that could hurt somepony.  All actions have consequences that affect everypony and everything around you.  Even just a snide word."

Yeesh.  Even I was a tad cowed and I was just standing to the side, not saying a word.  Winter Sky had obviously put a lot of thought into this.  Luna's eyes were wide; not with fear, but rather, with shock.  As though she had never considered such a thing that made perfect sense.  I agreed with the philosophy that every action influenced many actions around it, but to live but such ideology could be...  difficult, to say the least.  (Don't smash that spider, it may kill the mosquito that spreads the newest strain of malaria!)

"Apologies," he stepped back and bowed before her, "That was out of line, Princess.  I may stand by my words but it's not my place to treat you in such a way."

"It needed to be said," Storm Wing piped up, still off in the corner, his head propped onto the railing of the A.S.C.A.™ like a BAWSS.

Luna looked chastised more than insulted, in all reality.  After a few moments of silence and deep thought, she replied.

"It's...  fine, Winter Sky," she said with a sigh, "And you're right.  What's done is done, and the last thing I should be doing is stirring up conflict over a well-intended misdeed from a thousand years ago."

"Whew.  That was dicey!" I made a dramatic show of wiping my forehead.  "Now that we're all close friends again, PLEASE, stick to the story.  Mind, Body, and Soul.  What the flip does that mean?"

"Too afraid to drop the F-Bomb, Firedoll?" Luna teased me.

"I'm pretty sure every time I drop an F-Bomb in Equestria, a brony dies," I nodded in all seriousness, "Think of the bronies."

Yeah, I know, I used that line before.  I'm real ballsy like that.  Yeah, I've used that one, too.  I'm real bal-...  ...  Moving on.

"What?" Winter Sky and Storm Wing both said in stereo.  They were both confused about our Earthy talk and not happy about it.

"Nothing." Luna gave them a dismissal wave.  "Explain it for the backwater ape."

"Heeey..." I resented that.  Sorry guys, I don't believe we evolved from chimps.  I find Planet of the Apes to be a more plausible hypothesis than that.  Not that this should influence your beliefs or anything.  I'm just a dude with an opinion.

"That device really has changed you, hasn't it?" Winter Sky tilted his head in confusion before shaking it off.  "As you wish.  Being fragmented is very similar to dying.  Your mind, body, and soul become separated and each enters a state of inactivity.  It involves the magical nexus t-..."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa.  You just started to get into technobabble terminology." I waved a hoof to cut him off as he had done me earlier.  Sorry, but ST:TNG has been the only show to pull off technobabble, in my opinion.  "Just...  make it quick, simple and understandable."

"See? Backwater," Luna nodded before sticking her tongue out at me.  I responded by magicking it right back into her damn muzzle!  Bam, woman!  Suffer!  "Hey!"

Winter Sky didn't seem to appreciate me magicking his princess like that and began to go into another lecture before Storm Wing sensed what was going on and calmed the situation a bit.

"Trust me, they do this kinda childish nonsense all the time.  Turns out they're quite taken with one another." He threw a glance our way, smirking just a tad before going back to propping his head up on the railing.

"They..." he blinked before looking at us.  I just sat there and blushed, all flustered.  Luna decided to rub it in and scooted over beside me before nuzzling at my neck.  This led to further loss of composure and I simply smiled sheepishly at Winter Sky, "You realize neither of you are...  the same species, I assume."

"I see a thousand years hasn't done much to dull that razor sharp intellect of yours, Winter Sky," she said with a chuckle.  In retrospect, I think she was doing it just to troll poor Winter Sky, but at the same time, I was getting pony snuggles so...  w00t and all that? You realize how weird it is to say that? I mean, my entire life, Lafter and Stoic have never agreed on a single thing.  And the one time they do, I have the nerve to scoff at their warnings.  I mean, what could go wrong besides EVERYTHING, eh? Eh!? Just to reiterate, this should be proof of how imperfect I actually am.

And a thousand years hasn't taught you self-restraint, so I guess we're rather consistent,” he countered with a smirk and a shake of his head, “I hope you know what you're doing.”

I never know what I'm doing,” I smiled off at nopony in particular, looking damned smug about it.  Cause...  Y'know...  Who needs smart when you've got AWESOME, amirite? … Yeah, I don't need a mirror to know my eyes are brown at the moment.

That's okay, I'll be smart enough for the both of us,” Luna offered before sighing, “Okay, in all seriousness, let's lay it out.  Basically, Body, Mind, Soul fragmentation is where your body, mind, and soul get separated from one another.”

Clear as mud, glad we had this talk.” I nodded.

She kicked my flank.  That made me sad.  I think I'm going to go back and catalog every Luna-caused wound, cut, and bruise.  Pretty sure I'd have a few dozen pages if I just made a sentence for each one.

Shoosh, we're not finished!” She snapped, somewhat annoyed.

Then Storm Wing helped a bit.

It's where your physical form, your life's memories and knowledge, and your actual self and personality get pulled from one another,” he went on to explain, “Without at least two of these, you aren't actually dead, but you might as well be.  You've heard of ghosts? Do they have ghosts on Dirt?”

Dirt? You mean Earth?” LAWL DIRT!

Same difference,” he said with a roll of his corn-blue eyes.

Yes, we've got ghosties, though we typically don't giggle at them.” I said in all seriousness.

Luna failed her Save Vs. Will and snickered.

Whatever.” If he rolled those eyes any harder, they were gonna fall out.  Not that that would...  blind him or anything.  “If you've seen a ghost, you've seen Mind, Body, and Soul Fragmentation.  But even then, something has to awaken that ghost, which is merely a soul with no mind or body.”

Okay.  So...  What woke you up, big guy?” I looked to Winter Sky.

My body was revived, actually,” he replied, “I...  I think David may have finally shaken off the spell Celestia cast upon him.”

David?” I tilted my head.

The first human,” he answered with a wing shrug.  Fun fact: Big wings make big shrugs and big jealous unicorns.

Woah.  Was his last name Xanatos?” I couldn't help myself.  I swear, I think Satan could bust out of the ground and threaten to put me through torment everlasting and my first reaction would be a 'what the hell' or 'what the devil' joke.  I suck at this serious business routine.

Oh no!” Luna began to giggle. “It's all gone according to plan!  We're playing right into his hands!”

We began yukking it up from there.  Winter Sky looked at the both of us as though we were nuts, which is fair.  I mean, the way we were carrying on, I'm fairly certain we could have been Baker-Act'd (*sigh* Google it...) at any point if the pony psychiatrists of Equestria ever met us.  Storm piped in yet again, sympathetic towards Winter's plight.

You know, when he first got here, she wasn't that bad.  Neither was he, actually,” Storm Wing went back to looking off the rail, “Ever since they met though, it's been a spiral of immaturity for them both.  Like a...  childlike feedback cycle.”

It shows,” Winter Sky replied.  They were totally father and son.

So anyway, what...  You think this David revived your body?” I suggested, not taking the bite to argue for my sanity's honor (Not that I had a hoof to stand on, eh?).

Precisely.  And that awakened my semi-dormant soul and I began piecing my memories back together.  It was like a voice on the edge of my hearing.  At first I didn't trust it, but eventually I began to obey out of need to try something,” he looked concerned, as though he still wasn't sure he made the right decision, “I first remembered just David and thought you were him.  When you said you did not know how to find me, I began to regret my hasty decision.  Then I remembered...  part of myself.  Not all of it, though.  I began to wonder if I was David when I contacted you the second time while you were wearing my armor.  I was almost convinced that I was when the voice told me about Celestia and that she had placed David under a spell of eternal rest.  What really made it believable was my revived body moving around, causing me to assume that I couldn't have been...  Well...  Me.”

Okay.  So the voices in my head come with their own set of head voices.  Maybe I am special.  (Sup, Dawg!  we heard you like voices in yo head!  So we put voices in yo head, inside the voices in yo head!  So you can crazy, while you crazy!)

Any idea who or what the voice was?” Luna prodded.

None.” He shook his head.  “Perhaps the being that brought humans here in the first place?”

Maybe that's just normal for those recovering from being fragmented?” I offered.

Nope,” Storm Wing immediately responded.

Mmm-Mmm.” Luna shook her head.

No, that's not how it works.” Winter Sky agreed with them.

Is there a...  book or something...  that I can burn on this subject?” I felt exceptionally stupid.

No.  Cry some,” Luna teased before looking back to Winter Sky, “Continue.”

There's not much else to say.  I was able to observe events and continue to piece memories together before I finally, just this morning, remembered that I am who I am.  Then I knew that I needed to guide you and Azure Flora here to revive myself so that I could assist in freeing Princess Celestia,” he answered with a wing shrug, “That, and the voice told me of a traitor in your ranks that would prevent the Elements of Harmony from being used.”

That's when we all looked at him like he was insane.  No pony in their right mind would side with Nightmare Sol unless they were being controlled.  Not that that was out of the question, it's just...  he worded it to sound like somepony was going to willingly go out of their way to betray us.

Who?” Luna asked, giving him a look of askance.

All it said was a colt of white and yellow,” Winter Sky shook his head as though that weren't enough.

We all went silent.  We were all thinking it, but nopony wanted to say it.  Finally, Storm Wing took that leap.

Blueblood,” he murmured.

Luna instantly began to rebuke him and his suggestion, but stopped before looking down sadly.  She had been thinking it, too.  Hard to legitimately bust a guy's chops when you're guilty of the same thing.

I...  I don't know.  Maybe a year ago, but today? I...  I don't want to point any hooves before it's all said and done.  We got Winter Sky, so things are looking up, right?” I nodded optimistically.  I so did not want to believe that Blueblood would betray the cause after that talk we had.

Uh huh.  Let me call Twilight and see how things are going, at least.  Let's not celebrate too early.” She lifted up her hoof with the matching ring on it and furrowed her brow after a moment.  “She's not answering.”

So? Leave a voicemail,” I reasoned to her, “Here, let me do it.”

Without asking, I magicked it right off and held it up to my ear, “Call Twilight Sparkle.”

It's not supposed to go that way,” she said with a smirk.

Oh, and you're the expert?” I was disappointed when I didn't hear a ring tone.  “Worst cell phone ever.”

Well, I know more about both pony and human culture than you do, technically.” She winked at me, incurring my ire as she took back her toy.  Yeah, I was just kinda skittish about the upcoming battle and was trying to pull my usual nonsense of be silly to keep my fears at bay.

Sonuva...  Let's not forget which of us is actually a human!” I snapped before looking up at Winter Sky, “Women, eh?”

He was not amused.  He looked back out into the horizon without so much as a suppressed grin.  This further deflated me and I simply laid down, sighing softly.  Luna must have sympathized with my plight and simply walked over to stroke at my mane with a laugh.

Don't worry, Firewall,” she smiled, “Sometimes you're just annoying.  It happens.”

Sometimes?” Storm Wing piped in.  Yeah, he's a sweetheart like that.  Screw Captain Storm Wing.

Why doesn't everypony love meh?” I asked sarcastically.

Well, I kinda like you.” She laughed as she continued to brushie brushie ( /)^3^(\ ) me, which was just making me yawn.  I think I mentioned before that anything that messes with my hair chills me out and makes me tired? That still applies.

No!  You don't like me!” I called her out on that.  “You like tormenting me!”

I get the two confused sometimes,” she gently bonked me on the head, “Catch a nap.  You too, Storm.  We need you guys fresh for the fight.  I'll fly.”

Actually, I'll fly,” Winter Sky offered.  Luna gave a wing shrug and looked back over to Storm Wing.

Sure.” Storm Wing gave a similar wing shrug and relinquished control over to Sky before moving to the back of the carriage.  Why does everypony gotta rub it in that they have wings, I wonder.  Is it just a thing with ponies that have wings? Whatever.

Turns out he was a tad slower than Storm, but the difference wasn't very significant.  What was significant was Storm curling up and stuffing himself in the corner, smelling extra anti-social.  I pawed on over to him, my body mostly still prone to the floor of the A.S.C.A..(tm) before poking his wing.

Hey.” I poked again.

Go away.” He didn't punch me, so that was a good start.

Nu-uh,” I declined, “S'wrong?”

Nothing is wrong.” He flapped a zappy wing at me, facing the back of the carriage and away from me.

My toasty char broil breath there isn't!” I poked again.

Firewall, I've beaten creatures twice your size for less,” he reminded me, still refusing to look my way.  He's such a kidder.

o/` My little pony~...  My little pony~...o/` I sang as I gently brushed his wing.

Firewall, leave him alone,” Luna called out as she tucked herself in the opposing corner, “He's not in the mood.”

I pouted at her, but got the princess glare of doom in response.  It's like the Fluttershy stare, only you run the risk of death by heart attack on the spot.  I hung my head and began to paw away from him, before turning back one last time and whispering.

I...  I think I'm pregnant.  Storm Wing...  You're the father.” I just wanted to let him know.  I'd hate it if our positions were changed and he didn't tell me.  That'd just be inconsiderate.

Firewall, I swear to Celestia, I will knock you out so hard that Luna will have to go back in time to prevent us from ever meeting!” He finally lifted his head and craned it my way.  He looked so...  angry actually isn't a strong enough word, but it will have to do.

Woah.  Is that a death threat?” My jaw dropped.

Ugh!” Luna lifted her head, glaring at us both irritably.  “You know what? I always wanted to try out time travel.  Go for it, Storm.  He's earned it.”

I object to this thinking and all those supporting it!” I objected!

Then shut up and leave Storm alone,” Luna ordered before tapping the spot right beside her, “Come here.”

I sad faced at her.  Closest thing I've got to 'the stare' which wasn't enough, unfortunately.  After tapping again, I pawed over to her and pouted.

Go to sleep.” She demanded.

I rolled over and crossed my hooves.  Then she cheated.  She began to brushie at my hair again.  I was bitter and tried to pull away, but she grabbed my head, pulled it right back, set it where it right where it was before, and continued to knock me out in the softest way possible.

I hope my snoring keeps you up.” I grumped lazily.

You don't snore.” How she knew that, I'm not sure.  Maybe she watched me in my sleep? That would be so creepy.  Don't go to sleep~!

Damn it,” I whined before shortly passing out.

Today's dreams consisted of humanized events of what was actually going on.  I mean, we were still pastel colored, but we were human...ish.  Still had tails.  I'm not into furries or anything, and I'm not trying to say there is anything wrong with them, but...  This was weird.  I'm not going into details, alright? Specifically because my subconscious has terrible ideas on just how...  … humanized ponies might look.  I mean, humanized Luna had...  … I'm actually going to just stop there.  I don't want to hurt anybody.  You can thank me later.

I eventually was yanked from my bizarre dream from Luna shaking me and demanding I bring myself to consciousness.  As per my norm, I wasn't in a rush to get up.

I wanna ride the pony.” I rolled over.

You are acting extra stupid today, do you know that!?” She hollered at me.  “Storm Wing, zap him.  Hard!”

Negative!” I jumped up, wide awake.  Not surprisingly at all, Storm Wing set his hoof back down, looking somewhat disappointed.

Trixie demands her release!” My favorite egopony cried out.  Apparently, she had woke up and was none too happy about her new jewelry.  I thought it looked great on her, but then again, anything looks great on Trixie.

Deal with her before I throw her off,” Luna growled at me.

Her voice reminds me of a tone-deaf banshee I once vanquished,” Winter Sky murmured, looking a little stressed out.

I got up lazily before looking over to Trixie, sitting across the Carriage with her head held high and her eyes refusing to grace any of us with their attention.  I gave everypony a look before sighing and cantering her way, dropping my plot down and looking at her with content smile.

Hello, Trixie,” I said brightly, “Remember me?”

Fireball, yes? Remove this accursed ring from my horn!” She barked angrily, narrowing her eyes my way.

But it looks so pretty on you,” I pointed out to her.  Yeah, I was tired.  I could practically hear the eyes of everypony else rolling around.

The Great and Powerful Trixie does not care about its fashionable qualities!” She rebuked my kind words with her own harsh ones.

Well, Trixie, y'see...  It goes like this...  You lost the fight, champ.  We won.  And now you're, like...  our prisoner,” I scratched at the back of my neck, unable to think of a nice way to put it, “And prisoners...  They don't get to really...  make demands.”

She gave me a skeptical look before turning her pretty blue nose back up at me, “Fireball, you are testing Trixie's patience!  She will not tolerate this for much longer!”

Trixie, I don't want to have to break out corporal cuddling.  I'd snuggle you into submission and that would just be embarrassing,” I warned her with a sigh, “Especially with Luna watching.  She might kill me.”

Might?” I heard a certain alicorn pipe in.

Your threats are hollow to the Great and Powerful Trixie!” she stuck a hoof in my face to show she meant business, “I will say it one last time!”

Please, let it be the last time,” Storm Wing groaned from behind me.

What if I told you, Trixie, that I am willing to melt that little ring so that it never comes off your horn?” I offered with a apprehensive nod.

That got her attention.  Both her hoof and jaw dropped in horror as she let that thought run its course.

Y...  You wouldn't!” Her eyes were wide with shock.

I'm just tryin' to get you to play ball.  If you had won, I certainly wouldn't be giving you a hard time.” I was such a liar.  “As it stands though, I'm the winner here and you are in the time-out box.  If you want to get out of it, you're going to need to play by our rules until you are released.  Keep up the attitude and loud demands, though, and I will remind you that life can always get much worse.  So, you just sit here, be cute and awesome, and we'll see about getting the ring removed eventually.  You give us anymore grief, though, and I'll make good on that promise.  You're getting the soft-knit glove treatment right now.  Don't ruin it by making me take them off, capiche?”

Aggghhh~!  Threatening ponies was AWFUL on my conscience and the fact that it was Trixie only made it twice as bad!  I cried on the inside a little.  I blame my morning crankiness more than anything.  Or mid-afternoon crankiness, rather.  Nap crankinessnessness.

She started to tear up.  My ears drooped and my eyes widened with unfettered fear as the awful realization began to set in.

S...  Shit!” I immediately turned and ran behind Luna, “She's going to cry!  Do something!  Give her a treat or something!”

What?!”

I'm a freakin' wimp, okay?!  I can't handle girls crying!  I nearly passed out when Scootaloo cried!” I begged and pleaded, grabbing hold of Luna's side and shaking her for emphasis.

Can't I just knock her out?” Storm Wing offered.

Yes!” Luna replied.

No!” I answered at the same time.

Trixie, however, just laid down, turning away from us and hiding her face under her front legs.  At first, I merely wondered if she was going to try and get some sleep or maybe drown us out by covering her ears.  When she began to give off a tell-tale quiver, though, I COMPLETELY fell apart on the inside.  I felt so bad, there just isn't a proper way of summarizing it.  Storm Wing didn't seem to care, Winter Sky was pretty much ignoring us all in favor of preserving his sanity (lest our crazy infect him), and Luna merely looked away, her face scrunching as though she had licked a bleach pen.  My lower jaw was making demands to tremble, so I kinda bit down to deny it the privilege.  It needed to stay put to help stave off the irrational emotional tide welling up within me.

Luna turned to look back at me as my vision got a little glazed.

Don't.” Her voice was quiet.

I'm trying not to!” I was two steps from whimpering.

Firewall, I don't know what's gotten into you today, but I swear to all things pony, you had better not,” she murmured.

Even with Stoic helping, it was incredibly difficult to not disobey Luna.  For those of you that need it spelled out, Lafter, my guilt, and fanbronyism was making certain demands of my tear ducts.  I was not willing to let them, however.  Not until Trixie let out a sniffle.  Then I was forced to clap my hooves over my eyes and let out a sniffle of my own.

You are kidding me.” Storm Wing couldn't help but snicker at me.

Shut up, Storm!” I coughed out.  If there's one thing I hate more than being emotionally out of control, it was being made fun of for it.  Trixie's cryin' ya'll...  This is serious business.  Fer’rizzle.

You had best not be doing what I think you're doing under those hooves,” Luna warned me.

I'm not!” I lied!

Luna pulled at one of my hooves in an attempt to discover the truth.  I pulled away from her with another sniffle.  Without warning, she magicked my hooves away from my face and revealed probably the most pitiful, tear-streaked face I ever failed to conceal.  She actually glared at me for a few seconds before cracking.  Within moments she went from glare, to neutral, to snickering, to outright laughter.  I didn't see what was so damned funny, that's for sure.  She gave me a hug, still chortling at my expense.

You are such a loser,” she giggled before kissing my cheek, “You big baby.”

You're a jerk,” I tried to push her off of me, causing her to laugh again, “Get off me, Jerkicorn.  You're supposed to be a shy sweetheart, remember?”

I was before you got here,” she reminded me before releasing me with a sigh, “Fine, I'll make it better.”

I wanted to point out that at no point was Luna ever shy, nor was she sweet.  Unless by shy and sweet, she meant bossy and abrasive.  If that were the case, she was pure cane sugar soaked in corn syrup and mixed with concentrated Fluttershy.

With that, she turned and cantered over to Trixie and knelt down beside her.  She gave her a poke with one of her wings.

Trixie.” She prodded a bit.

J-Just go away!” Trixie cried out from under her hooves, “Master David was right about you all!”

That's when we all nearly died.  Or maybe just me and Trixie.  More likely just me.  As for why; upon hearing the words 'Master David,' Winter Sky lost all control of the A.S.C.A.™.  I was actually the quickest to regain control of the carriage and right us all before looking his way.

You are uh...  You're not allowed to drive anymore,” I said quite pointedly, “My sanity’s insurance just went up and I'm already behind on the payments.”

You know David?!” Winter Sky approached Trixie, completely disregarding my complaint.  “Tell me how!”

She seemed surprised at first, but her face became stern after a moment to collect herself.

The Great and Powerful Trixie does not have to answer to a forgotten relic!” she snapped defiantly.

Winter Sky was not pleased by this answer.  He started towards Trixie and judging by how cold the air was getting, I could only surmise that he was going to get his answers out of her one way or another.  Luna stood up, placing herself between him and Trixie.

No, Winter.” she said, shaking her head.

Winter Sky paused and snorted a bit of frosty steam before offering his rebuttal, “She has information.  Extremely important information.  Information that we need.”

Trixie is not afraid of you!” Man, she was really trying to get herself into trouble, was she not? “She will never bend to interrogation!”

We'll see about that.” He took it as a challenge and began to approach again.  I decided to slip between him and Luna (It's a line, everypony, get in it!) before smiling my charming smile.  Though I was much preferring it be less charming and more disarming at the moment.

Hey now, let's not fly off the handle, right?” I chuckled a bit, hoping I wasn't sounding as nervous as I felt.  “I'm sure we'll get our answers one way or another.  I mean, I agree, we need to know more about the opposition here, but there is no way I'm going to let you hurt somepony so you can get some answers that may not help us at all.”

You intend to stop me?” he growled.  Man, he really was just like Storm Wing.  At least Storm Wing looked cute and cuddly.

Uh.  I mean...  If I have to, I guess,” I forced myself to not cower and simply kept a poker face.

Then he lunged at me.  The only thing I could think of was 'WHY!?' as I hit my inner panic button and rather quickly fell into a state of not knowing what the hell to do.  I got lucky, however.  Storm Wing intercepted Winter Sky and bucked that huge pony right in the face.  We were all shocked.  Even Trixie was just standing there, sensing the gravity of the situation, even if she didn't comprehend it's meaning entirely.

Back off.” Storm was already sauntering back over to his corner.  “Or I'll have to break your promise to Azure Flora for you.”

With that, he flopped back down, preparing himself for more sleep.  Winter Sky was simply reeling from what had just happened.  His son had just stepped between him and a human and bucked him one in the face for stepping out of line.  I don't think he was hurt physically as much as he was psychologically thrown for a loop and confused as hell.

Why don't we all just agree to shut up and leave each other alone?” Luna suggested for everypony, “Before things escalate even more.”

Done,” Storm Wing responded from his corner, his voice somewhat flat and tired.

Y...  Yeah,” I finally gulped as I slid back off to my corner.

Luna looked back at Trixie who nodded cooperatively, suddenly not so eager to antagonize her apparently aggressive captors.

Great,” she smiled cheerfully, “Winter, take control, we're catching more shuteye.  We're still a couple of hours out, I figure, just wake us up before we get there.”

He didn't respond for a minute, but he finally got around to it after I let him take control, “Yes, Princess.”

I curled back up for more sleep, ready for this trip to be more than over.  When I felt silky soft mane using my midsection as a pillow I looked up to see Luna making herself comfortable.

What happened to 'leave each other alone?'” I asked with a smirk

What happened to 'shut up?'” she countered and shut her eyes, “Deal with it.  Just try not to cry on me or something.”

My poor abused feelings.

You two can it already,” Storm Wing groaned sleepily.

I gave up and simply allowed my anxiety to be put on hold long enough to pass out.  Luckily, this one was dreamless.  As weird as they were getting, I count myself fortunate that it wasn't otherwise.  It wasn't much of a deep sleep, fortunately.  I say fortunately because I was rudely interrupted, yet a second time.  I think I'm like...  two for nine naps on uninterrupted sleep so far.  Those are terrible odds.  Eight out of nine is just not good enough, so to have a quarter of that is just downright pathetic.

INCOMING!” Winter Sky yelled out, waking us all from our slumber.  I'll say this, his yelling voice is mighty, indeed.  It shaketh the foundation of the earth!  Or maybe just the A.S.C.A.™, but such details were meaningless at the time.

We were instantly awakened, one and all.  It scared me enough to wonder if I should just jump off and save everypony the trouble of worrying about me.  That was a Lafter thought, and after receiving his lashes, he promptly went back to his little corner and was told to shut the buck up.

Shadow Archons!” Storm cried out before taking off with a crack of lightning.

Sure enough, as I oriented my surroundings, I spotted several dozen Shadow Pegasi and a few Shadow Archons off in the distance.  I felt my insides tighten up in fearful anticipation in record time.  I looked to Luna who smirked at me, silently assuaging my worries.  She then nodded over at our captive pony, wordlessly telling me to look her way.  When I did, I expected to see Trixie to look hopeful or defiant, even.  In all actuality, though, she just looked sad, as though she wasn’t excited about the possibility of a rescue.

You okay, Trixie?” I just blurted the first thing that came to my mind.

Trixie looked down and sighed, not speaking right away.

I swapped glances with Luna, a tad confused.

Best of luck,” she finally replied.  More swapped glances between confused ponies took place.

I would have pressed for what the matter was, but we were out of time.  As the first Shadow Archon closed the gap at amazing speeds, Storm Wing zoomed up behind it and lit it up with one nasty taser hoof.  After holding it there for several seconds, he bucked it away and let it go into free fall.  I gasped and watched it plummet over the edge before it finally righted itself and strained to make its landing as safe as possible.  Not sure how I would have reacted to seeing a pony fall to its death, but I doubt I would have simply shrugged it off.

Firewall, take the carriage!” Winter Sky commanded before leaping out to intercept a second Shadow Archon.  I caught control and took the A.S.C.A.™ low to the ground.  As the Shadow Pegasi began closing in, Luna began blasting them away with rays of magic, her accuracy pretty solid, all things considered.  Trixie cowered to the back, as though she was more fearful of the situation than we were.  I guess this is where I tell you about red flags, but honestly, it’s pretty obvious.

Princess Luna!” Twilight cried out, from absolutely nowhere.

That threw me off for a second and my first reaction was to completely dismiss the possibility that I was insane.  I’m a fire-breathing pony?  I’m flying on a magical carriage in the land of Equestria?  Voices in my head?  Yep, all was normal.

Luna lifted her hoof and spoke into her shiny phone-bracelet thing.

Twilight!  We're under attack by the Shadow Ponies!  Are you alright!” she yelled out, pausing to telekinetically toss one of our attackers into one of the others, causing them to barrel over a third.

Appleloosa is under attack, too!” the bracelet replied, “We're doing our best to fight them off, but their numbers are practically endless!  Nightmare Sol is being held back by the Sky Archons for the moment, but they're starting to tire.  We need help!”

I'm on my way,” Luna replied before looking at me, “Firewall...”

It's fine.” I nodded back at her, turning my head long enough to incinerate a Shadow Pegasus, “I'll be okay.”

She ran up to hug my neck tightly, “Stay safe.” (That actually made me feel a thousand times better...)

I will, now get outta here,” I leaned on her a tad before looking back at the Shadow Pegasi tailing us.

She nodded before kissing my cheek and stepping back, her horn began to softly glow, “Just remember, you gotta protect Trixie.”

Trixie looked a tad confused.

Where I come from we call that motivation!” I replied with a sad smile, eventually shoo’ing at her with a hoof, “Go.”

With that, she vanished.  I felt sick, deep down inside.  I mean, everyone dreams of going on adventures and all, but what people don't realize is that the fears you never had to face will grip your heart and squeeze it like a vice.  Your breath comes short and your awareness is impossibly focused to a degree that is disorienting.  Doesn't make sense in words, but yes; such intense focus can literally bother and cause the untrained mind to stumble over every last little thing.

I took a long deep breath, shaking off the worst of it before reminding myself that everything would be okay and that ponies would triumph!

Well, Trixie, it's just me and you.  You ready for this?” I smiled back at her.

I...  I don't...” She looked up, her eyes filled with worry rather than her usual exuberant confidence.  Her fear, though unexplainable at the time, was unsettling.  I had to fix that.

Hey!  None of that!  Let's try again: Is the Great and Powerful Trixie ready for this!?” I turned to face her a bit more, scowling a tad to compliment my determined grin.

She looked utterly baffled for a few moments before standing up and nodding, throwing her cape back with a haughty laugh.

Hah!  It is they who should be asked if they are ready for the Great and Powerful Trixie!” She cried with a stamp of her hoof.

Hells yeah!” I yelled and stepped on the gas.  I tuned out everything else and focused on aiming for Appleloosa as hard as I could.  Funny thing about flying? Just because you can see it off in the distance does not mean you are close.  Still, I aimed to get there as quickly as possible.

Due to my focused attention, I didn't notice the Shadow Pegasus that landed behind me until it was already there.  It struck at me with its hooves, grazing my flank and sending sensations of pain throughout me that I had never experienced before.  Instinctively, I bucked it away and to my surprise, Trixie pounced on it right away, stomping on it until it POOFED!  away.  She looked at her hooves with a grimace, examining the black marks it had left on them before showing me a pained smile.  I wasn't sure why she was against the Shadow Ponies, but I wasn't complaining.  I rubbed my own offending spot with my tail and was relieved that the pain was already fading away.

That was close,” I murmured as Trixie made her way to the side to see if more were headed our way.

Hah!  The foals cannot even keep up!” Trixie hung her head out and gazed at the Shadow Pegasi falling behind.

Woo!” I glanced back just long enough to confirm before facing forward again, “Homefree.”

It pretty much was, too.  With me able to outpace the lesser Shadow Ponies and the greater ones occupied by Storm Wing and Winter Sky, there was nothing to do but keep rolling.  I pulled out a cigarette and lit up, prepared to stay on task for the next twenty or so minutes as I closed the gap.  As I began to pass over the orchard, I heard Trixie shriek.  I was struck with nostalgia, remembering how she screamed when the Ursa Minor crashed Ponyville.

Archon!” she ran up to me and pointed out into the sky.  I remember my first encounter with an Archon altogether.  It went something to the effect of BAM! and today was no different.  In the time it took me to turn my head and see the Shadow Archon, he was already tackling me.

This sent all three of us flying off the carriage and out of pure impulse, I grabbed Trixie.  I kid you not, I rolled my eyes as we began to fall, enraged that this was the third time I would take a fall for another pretty pony.  I think I need to get myself checked, this is an unhealthy habit I’ve developed.

Last time I do this,” I groaned just before thudding into the ground.  Guess what, everypony!  Habitually taking falls from semi-dangerous heights doesn't get any easier with repetition, “Judas on a ho...  Why me?”

Why did you...  ...” Trixie was kind enough to get off my poor whimpering form and was staring down at me, “Are you alright?”

Yeah,” I groaned as I slowly got to my feet, coughing from having all of my breath knocked out of me, “I do it...  all the time.”

The Shadow Archon landed nearby with a thunderous crash, flicking it's tail in anticipation.  I was wondering why it didn't strike right away while I was recovering, but it became obvious that it was waiting.  I glanced at the Cutie Mark and noted the fiery comet.  It was Hot Shot.  He wasn't a mindless Shadow Pony, he was a living, thinking creature that was being controlled.  And he wanted a fight.

I narrowed my eyes and looked to Trixie, coughing one last time, “Trixie, get to Appleloosa.  Tell them I sent you.  If they want to arrest you, let them.”

What!?” She wasn't cozy to that idea.  Who would be, right?

I'll come find you when I finish up here and vouch for your release,” I promised her with a smile, reaching over with my hoof and pulling the ring off her horn.  I instantly felt much cooler all over, temperature wise, that is.  I dropped it and felt the magic rekindle almost instantly.

But what if...  I can't just...” she murmured, her eyes downcast, “I can’t.  I’m sorry.”

Do it!” I snapped impatiently, “It's okay!  Everything will be fine!  Promise!”

She blinked, a tad taken back.  Shadow Shot (I don't want to call him Hot Shot, but he's not just a Shadow Pony either.) gave a loud stomp of his hoof, not enjoying his wait.  She looked his way, then back t