Pinkie and Rosethorn walked side by side, escorting the Pegasus I.Q to Princess Celestia. During their mission to rescue him from a griffin gulag, they had become close, and their team mates couldn't have been happier for them. Pinkie caught a glimpse of her friend Twilight, and felt a bit guilty. Twilight was once the object of her affections and while Pinkie still had strong feeling for her, she had found love in Rosethorn. Celestia was waiting for them in the special ops tent, as was the Doctor.
"I.Q I presume, it is good to finally see you." Said Celestia. I.Q gave her a quick bow, and only shook his head when the Doctor tried to shake his hoof. Pinkie giggled at the Doctor's awkward smile.
"It is nice to meet you as well Princess, but I would ask that we speak in private." He said respectfully, and the other ponies in the room left the tent. The Doctor walked beside Pinkie and Rosethorn, smiling at the two.
"So Rosethorn, when did you realise that you were a fillyfooler?" asked the Doctor, Rosethorn paled, as did Pinkie. Neither of them had told anypony except for their team mates.
"Wha… What do you mean Doctor?" Rosethorn stammered, the Doctor winked at her.
"You don't have to worry, it's not an issue for me, I'm just glad that Pinkie found herself somepony special." He said. Pinkie hugged him, glad that she had a father figure that accepted her. They relaxed and continued their walk around the camp. They passed the medical tent and Pinkie saw Big Mac walking out, just having been released after a serious injury on the first day of battle two weeks beforehand. She waved, but was ignored, as Big Mac cuddled up to and kissed a yellow Pegasus with a short pink mane cut. They entered the main tent where they were staying. Pinkie and her team had been given a few days off for recovery. She lay down on her bunk and sighed happily. Rosethorn sat next to her and stroked her mane, and the Doctor went back to work on his secret project. Pinkie was glad to be there relaxing, the gentle stroking of her mane felt like bliss and since being with Rosethorn, Pinkie had not felt the darkness inside of herself. Pinkie jumped, her peace broken by the shouting of Duskheart as he entered the tent.
"What is the meaning of this?" he boomed and Rosethorn stood, embarrassed. "What in the hay was that soldier?"
"I was just finishing up a massage for Pinkie sir, she pulled a shoulder muscle on the last mission and I was helping to alleviate the pain." Rosethorn lied, blushing. Her lie seemed to placate Duskheart for the moment, and he sent her back to her own tent.
"Pink, I need you to report to the training grounds immediately, the higher-ups have requested you go through some special training." He said, waving Pinkie out of the door. Pinkie stood with a groan and walked out, following Duskheart to the training ground. She was ushered inside a small tent to find I.Q standing there, as well as a unicorn she knew all too well.
"Trixie? What are you doing here?" she asked the blue unicorn. Trixie looked down her nose at Pinkie.
"I was hired to test your ability to stand up to telepathic assaults." She explained, as Duskheart sat Pinkie down in a chair.
"What do you mean, why would I need training like that?" Pinkie asked, and I.Q walked around to face her.
"When I was in the gulag, I discovered that certain griffins have an innate telepathic ability, activated during puberty. These griffins are secreted away by the government and trained to use their abilities for interrogation purposes. The Princess and I decided that it would be prudent to have you trained in resisting those assaults, since you are working behind enemy lines so often." I.Q explained. His voice sounded trustworthy, but Pinkie's Pinkie sense said otherwise. She suddenly became nervous as Duskheart strapped her arms to the chair.
"What are those for, what are you going to do to me?" she asked panicking. I.Q reassured her that they were to stop her from hurting herself. Trixie closed the tent door, and the lights were dimmed. Duskheart left, telling them to get the job done as fast as possible. Trixie stood in front of Pinkie, who was struggling against the leather bonds. Trixie's horn glowed and a light blue aura appeared around her head. Pinkie closed her eyes as she could feel Trixie worming her way into her mind, invading her thoughts. Pinkie tried to resist, but failed. She screamed, full of fear, as Trixie went deeper into her subconscious. Pinkie could barely make out I.Q's voice in the background.
"You have to fight it Pinkie, resist her, think of something strong and steady." He said, offering what Pinkie though to be useless advice. She tried again to resist, putting up mental barriers, but Trixie just destroyed them on the way deeper into her mind. Pinkie suddenly felt it; the darkness seeping into her heart, infecting her. It was the darkness that fought back, pushing Trixie out with all the might of a fully grown dragon. Pinkie opened her eyes to see Trixie pushed out of the tent by some invisible force. The darkness receded, and Pinkie vomited, never feeling the darkness in that concentration before. Trixie walked back in, her mane now dishevelled and with anger in her eyes.
"What happened?" asked I.Q, Pinkie noticed that it wasn't sympathy in his voice, but curiosity and fascination. Trixie brushed some dirt off of herself.
"There was something in there with her. I couldn't see it but it didn't want me there. It forced me out in such a way that I couldn't get any information. "Trixie said, angrily. Pinkie laughed weakly, suddenly really exhausted.
"So can I go now?" Pinkie asked, and I.Q untied her straps.
"Is there need for further testing?" he asked Trixie, who shook her head and Pinkie shot out of the tent as fast as she could. Not giving them the chance to change their minds. She galloped across the entire camp, finally stopping near archer's stage; she bent over, vomiting uncontrollably. Rosethorn found her curled up behind some rocks and crying.
"What's the matter Pinkie?" She asked, holding Pinkie in her arms. Pinkie looked at her, tears streaming down her face.
"What's wrong with me?" Pinkie asked, nuzzling her head into Rosethorn's chest. She began to calm down after a while, the smell of fresh roses forcing the lingering darkness back down. She kissed Rosethorn, allowing her to lose her fears in the kiss. Pinkie broke it off when she could no longer feel the darkness. She smiled at Rosethorn, before asking her to take her to the Doctor.
They found the Doctor in the main tent, still working on his project. Pinkie hugged him from behind and he turned to see her tear stained face. He hugged her back, as though he could sense what was wrong. Pinkie tried to tell him what had happened and ask for his help, but she was interrupted by Duskheart.
"Pink! Gather your team, we have an urgent mission for you." He said, turning and leaving once again. Pinkie sighed, hugging the Doctor again before gathering her equipment and following Rosethorn out of the tent. The collected Swift and Heartstrings from the maze of tents that made up the pony camp and made their way to the special ops tent. Inside stood Duskheart and I.Q.
"What's this I hear about a mission? Isn't it our week off?" said Heartstrings irritably, Swift nodded in support, slamming his hoof on the table.
"Stow your tongues and uh…. Lack of such." Said Duskheart, and Pinkie saw Swift sign a swear word at him. "Anyway, we lost contact with team beta, a few weeks ago. We sent them to destroy a griffin stronghold about a week and a half ago, and there has been no word from them since. Your team's mission is to find them and help them complete their mission."
"How many of them should we be expecting?" asked Rosethorn.
"Their team consisted of eight ponies, all seasoned soldiers. So 'alpha team' are you ready to go? I'll continue the briefing as we walk. Princess Celestia has offered to teleport you to their last known location." He said, walking out of the tent. The ponies followed him to the Princess' throne that looked out over the battlefield. Celestia sat there, giving orders to the commander of the unicorns; Twilight Sparkle.
"Twilight, get some destruction specialists to shoot some fireballs into the air to assist the Pegasi." She ordered, and Twilight nodded, heading down the small incline towards her troops. Celestia turned to Duskheart and said;
"Hello, commander, is your team ready?" Duskheart nodded and the ponies gathered in front of her. Celestia bowed her head and in a flash of white light, they suddenly found themselves at the edge of a thick forest. Pinkie felt a bit disoriented but recovered quickly. Swift began to search the area for any signs of the other team. It took him a while but he managed to find some hoofprints. They spent the next few hours following them, and as the sun started to set, they set up camp in a clearing. Heartstrings was on first watch that night, so Pinkie and Rosethorn cuddled up together, Pinkie closed her eyes, and just as she was about to fall asleep Rosethorn said;
"By the way Pinkie, I should have said this earlier but… There is nothing wrong with you." Pinkie smiled, cuddling up closer to Rosethorn.
"I love you." She said.
"I love you too Pinkie." She said, and they fell asleep together.
The next day was uneventful, except for a tense moment when Swift seemed to lose the trail, before finding a tuft of pony hair caught on a shrub. A thought suddenly occurred to Pinkie.
"You know, I never thought to ask this before, but where did Swift learn to do all this sort of stuff?" she asked, Heartstrings smiled.
"Oh Swift has a great and harrowing tale of heroics, taking place in the distant land of Canterlot. Young Swift was a royal guard, assigned to guard Princess Luna upon her return. But the poor stallion fell in love with the princess and had to leave her service so as to not compromise his honour." She said dramatically. Pinkie and Rosethorn laughed as she acted out the scenes. While Swift looked back and gave her a dirty look, as well as signing something that Pinkie couldn't translate, but only made Heartstrings laugh harder. Swift stopped in his tracks, his hoof telling the others to stop. All was silent for a moment, before Pinkie felt something;
'Twitcha Twitch' she thought as her tail quivered, she leapt onto swift, knocking him down, she felt the arrow brush the top of her poofy mane as it sailed through the air on its lethal course. Rosethorn and Heartstrings dived for the ground, and for a moment, nothing happened, then Pinkie heard a voice.
"Sunbeam." It said, and Pinkie couldn't determine where it had come from.
"Lunacy" shouted Rosethorn. The four ponies waited with bated breath, unsure whether to expect the hoof of friendship or a volley of arrows. A bright red pony walked out of from behind some bushes and the ponies relaxed. He didn't smile but the sheer fact that it was a pony gave Pinkie comfort.
"I am Redmond of the Equestrian special forces, squad beta. Identify yourselves." He said sternly. Pinkie looked around at the others, and they looked back at her expectantly, due to the fact that she was technically their leader.
"My name is Pinkie Pie of those ponies as well, but we are squad alpha." She said smiling. Redmond looked at her with narrow eyes. "We are your backup." Redmond smiled, his mouth trembled and he lunged at Pinkie, hugging her.
"Oh thank Celestia you've arrived, we were so worried." He said, and Pinkie patted him on the back nervously. Other ponies started to emerge from the trees as well, with five in total, and six including Redmond.
"What happened? We were told that there were eight of you." Asked Heartstrings. Redmond looked at the ground, as did the others in his team.
"The other three were the Pegasi on our team, we sent them over the top of the stronghold for recon and they were shot down before we knew what happened, Hundreds of Minotaur came charging out of the gate, and we ran, seeing no other choice." Pinkie hugged him, understanding his pain.
"Great, now we have three less ponies on this mission and we still have to destroy that stronghold. What are they even doing in there anyway?" asked Heartstrings.
"It's where they are making their weapons. If we do this, we cripple their war effort." Said Redmond.
"Show us." Said Rosethorn, Redmond and his team lead the through a twisted trail, filled with rocks and thorny shrubs. Redmond pointed down as they reached the top of a large hill and Pinkie was astounded. The place was enormous; Pinkie surmised that you could fit Ponyville inside the place. A wall of immense size surrounded it, unclimbable. From the distance, Pinkie could just barely make out guards patrolling the top of the wall and at its base.
"Okay, and I will see you all back at the base." Said Heartstrings, turning, but Rosethorn stopped her.
"Come on everypony, we can do this, we have an element of harmony on our side, what could possibly go wrong." She said and Heartstrings facehooved;
"Why do you keep saying these things?!Read Daring Doo!" she yelled at her.