(A/N) I sort of learned a deadly lesson as well! Having a cliffhanger at the spot I did made it really awkward to pick up where I left off! That’ll teach me!
I also didn’t expect this one to be another huge >10k chapter!
Luna wasn’t exactly sure what had just happened.
Earlier, she was shaking hooves with a being from another world, the excited chatter of her subjects degrading to mere background noise. A strong feeling of pride was thrumming in her chest. Proud of the fact that she was interacting with a creature that had come from the stars, her stars; the same night sky that she watched every night.
Ever since she was a little filly, all those years ago, she had always wondered if something else lived out there, even before she took up her nightly vigil. But now, here she was with such a creature.
But then that awful shriek echoed throughout the night air.
She and the rest of the ponies felt an unbridled sense of dread at the sheer awfulness of the cry; every bit of chatter, even that off the vocal Pinkie Pie, was snuffed out in an instant. Even as she was, a millennia old princess, she couldn’t stop her knees from trembling or her heart from racing.
Poor Fluttershy was shaking so badly that it was a miracle she could still stand. Little Apple Bloom whimpered in her sleep, drawing a concerned stare from her big sister.
But what was most alarming was the abrupt change in the demeanor of their foreign guest. Luna recoiled in surprise at how quickly the stranger went from calm and relaxed as he shook her hoof to suddenly drawing a strange metal object from a holster at his thigh, standing tall and rigid. A stray bead of sweat worked its way down Luna’s brow as she watched him.
“What was that ghastly noise?” asked Rarity.
“I-I think…” said Twilight her mouth dry, suddenly remembering the dark shape she saw lurking off the path earlier with a pang of dread. Inwardly she scolded herself for being so forgetful. It hadn’t even been fifteen minutes since they left the other fillies under the vigilant eye of both the zebra herbalist, and Luna’s guards, and the sheer weight of meeting this enigmatic being had pushed the zebra’s warnings and her own fears to the back of her mind. The shriek had brought them all back to the surface.
“What’s that thing he’s holding?” asked Rainbow, interrupting Twilight’s train of thought, her eyes locked onto the strange metallic object that was firmly grasped in the creature’s right forehoof. She squinted as she stared at it, “Is that…his zapper?” said Rainbow, looking to her peers for support, “Didn’t Scootaloo say that the alien had a zapper?”
Fluttershy squeaked something in acknowledgement.
Twilight swallowed loudly, “Yes,” a brief pause, “Yes she did.” Her whole frame began quivering violently. Here she was, with an alien of an unknown race, and it was armed. It was clearly advanced, if his unique armor was any indication, as well as that strange device on his wrist. If it decided to turn on them… she shuddered at the thought.
Pinkie Pie abruptly jumped between everypony present, “Ooh ooh! Pinchy knee! Pinchy knee!” she shouted, holding the pinchy limb aloft for everypony to see.
“The hay is that supposed to mean again?” asked Applejack, the mare tiredly rubbing her forehead.
“It means that something scary is going to happen!” exclaimed Pinkie, who sat down on her haunches, and her teeth started chattering.
“And what does that mean?” asked Rarity.
Pinkie glanced at her, “Oh that usually means I’m s-scared.”
“Wait a minute…” said Rainbow Dash, the cyan mare landing near the pink pony, “Whatever happened to the doozy?”
The pony nodded her head towards the alien, “Oh, he was the doozy.”
Rainbow paled slightly at the news, “B-but doesn’t that mean…”
“A ‘doozy’ doesn’t always imply something negative,” interrupted Twilight, “Last time this happened, the doozy in question was simply me accepting that Pinkie Sense actually…works.”
“I just know that it is something that nopony would expect,” Pinkie said helpfully, “Nopony expected to find an alien!” she said cheerfully, despite her obvious fear.
“Something’s lurkin’ about,” growled Applejack, pawing at the ground nervously.
Luna continued to stare at the increasingly tense alien before her. She watched as it pointed that strange device into the woods, never leveling it at any of their faces. For that, she supposed she could be thankful. She could tell by just looking at him that he had been in situations like this before. She watched as his analytical gaze swept across every inch of the forest, leaving no square inch of dirt unaccounted for.
She craned her neck as she focused on the, what Rainbow Dash had stated, ‘zapper’, clenched in his hands. It formed a sort of ‘L’ shape, made out of some strange dark metal. Some faint glowing green parts could be seen through gaps in the casing. She had never seen anything like it, and she had no idea how it could have been a weapon. There were no blades, it was too small to be used as a bludgeon. She could only assume that it was either magic, or some sort of new technology she had never seen or dreamed of.
He seemed to realize that he was being scrutinized and stared back. Luna felt an involuntary shudder run down her spine at the sight. Gone were the friendly emerald eyes that she stared at when she shook his hand, in their place were a pair of jade eyes, cold, calculating, and intelligent. The difference between the two was jarring.
He growled something in his strange alien language, his expression unchanging. Luna wished she could pry some answers from him, as he seemed to know what was going on.
“Um…Princess…” said somepony. Luna broke eye-contact with the stranger to find that it was Fluttershy speaking to her. The poor filly was obviously terrified; merely a sliver of her large turquoise eyes were visible from behind her long pink mane, “C-could we go h-home now?” she stammered, “I mean…if th-that’s o-okay with y-you…”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d have to agree with Fluttershy,” said Rainbow Dash, nervously glancing from side to side, “It’s getting a bit too creepy out here,” she swallowed loudly, drawing a look from everypony, “What, I’m not s-scared!” she stammered; her eyes did a poor job masking her fear.
“What about…him?” asked Applejack, who shifted uncomfortably on her hooves, “I mean, the fella did help my kin,” she glanced over her shoulder at the small filly that rested on her back.
Luna glanced at the alien once more. He had not moved from his spot, and he continued his silent vigil. She weighed the options in her mind. If he abruptly turned on them, she was positive that both her magic and the Elements of Harmony could keep him at bay. On the other hand, if he was on their side, he could help them fight whatever was lurking nearby in the forest. He had already protected one of her little ponies, if the sleeping filly was any indication, what was to say he wouldn’t do it again?
Another cry pierced the silence.
Luna gritted her teeth at the noise. It was louder, and closer. That horrible shriek was worse than that of a pack of timber wolves.
Pinkie’s façade of outward cheeriness was starting to falter; she quietly sang a happy song under her breath to keep her spirits up. Fluttershy by this point was too scared to move, almost tipping due to how unresponsive her limbs were. Rainbow’s irises shrunk and her mouth screwed up into a frightened scowl. Little Apple Bloom whimpered again in her sleep; Applejack could feel her quivering violently on her back. The remainder of the mares’ eyes darted every which way, trying to find the source of that awful noise.
Luna swallowed more loudly than she intended, “Alright, my little ponies. The creature comes with us,” she glanced his way, “That is, if he is willing,” her attention was redirected to the mares, “We should make haste, before…before…”
Luna caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye.
“Before what?” blurted out Rainbow.
Hesitantly, Luna turned her head towards it; her breath hitched in her throat. There, just barely visible was a tall dark figure, partially obscured by the brush and wreathed in a blanket of darkness and malice. Her pulse raced as she continued to stare. Its proportions were so similar to the alien that stood nearby, yet there were distinct characteristics that separated them. They were both bipeds, yes, but that was where the similarities ended. The stranger had intelligent eyes which the unknown creature lacked. Not only that, but Luna could look upon the stranger and not be afraid. He seemed to emit an aura that promised safety, for some reason. She couldn’t quite explain it.
The stranger seemed to notice the dark shape as well, and it pointed his strange weapon in the shape’s direction.
“Um…Luna?” said a clearly nervous Twilight. Luna forced her gaze away from both the stranger and the dark shape before settling on Twilight. Curiously, the unicorn wasn’t staring back, rather, staring into a seemingly indistinct section of the brush.
Luna force a smile, “Yes…Twilight?”
The pony’s ears drooped, “Look…over there…” she trailed off. An icy lump formed in the alicorn princess’s stomach.
There was another one, another dark shape practically identical to the one she was staring at not moment ago.
Luna bit her lip and looked between both figures. Suddenly, a loud crack echoed through the night, and the clearing with illuminated bright green flash. Luna watched as a strange green bolt of energy erupted from the end of the alien’s weapon and lanced into the thicket. A barely audible shriek could be heard. Everypony jumped with fright while Fluttershy squeaked quietly, too scared to move. They all forced their gazes towards the stranger.
Luna continued to stare, her jaw agape while everypony else swallowed as they realized what had made the noise; the stranger stood rigid, still pointing his weapon into the shadows. With the exception of Luna, they had not seen what he had done, but they could hear a faint sizzling sound. The tip of his strange metal device was smoking slightly, and the other dark shape was gone.
Luna was puzzled; what sort of weapon was that, and how did it work? She would have felt it if it were magic, yet this was not the case.
“Did he just…” said Rainbow, “Did he just zap something, and I didn’t see it?” the mare essentially voiced Luna’s thoughts aloud, “Aw ponyfeathers, I wanted to see…”
“Rainbow, how can you think about something like that at this time?” huffed Rarity, “What we should be doing is getting back to the other fillies! Away from all of this drab…” she trailed off as the stranger turned towards them. They all shuddered in unison when they saw how cold his expression was. His eyes widened in alarm when he caught sight of something…behind them.
He shouted something in his strange language and he pointed his weapon at the treeline behind them, aiming over their heads.
They all froze. Luna turned her head to where the being was pointing when she felt her stomach drop. There were no more than three of those things lurking in the undergrowth, all of them staring at her with their glossy black eyes.
The stranger yelled again as his eyes pierced past them; that was all the warning she got when they all charged.
Son of a bitch!
Of course, he meets a new race, seemingly makes peace with them, and immediately something from his past catches up to him. He had quickly taken out the lone abomination he saw lurking just outside of the clearing, but now at least three more of the monsters were quickly closing in.
He was at a bit of a loss he had to admit to himself. He had absolutely no idea what sort of numbers he was up against, if there were anything other than abominations lurking about, and last but not least, he had never fought in a forest before. The countless fields of burnt out husks did not count, this was completely unfamiliar territory.
He felt a brief moment of unease when he realized that all of the sapient equines were staring directly at him. The ponies were a sorry sight; with the exception of the princess pony, almost all of them were visibly quivering, especially the butter-colored pegasus, even the kooky pink one’s mane seemed to be deflating. If he didn’t know any better, he would say that they were no more used to situations like this than the little sleeping filly. The Wanderer felt a peal of anger. It was sickening; innocent creatures like this shouldn’t get caught between him and his battles.
Which gave him all the more reason to protect them.
He cursed inwardly as he brought his weapon to bear under the ponies’ stares. He leveled the sights of his Novasurge on the head of one of the rapidly approaching abominations.
He glanced at the ponies.
“Go! Get out of here!” he shouted. The ponies merely continued staring at him. Great!
He heard a collective gasp come through the group the moment the first of the abominations ran out into full view. They looked no less twisted than they did in the ship; their mutilated, once human features glowered at him, their paunches glistened under the moonlight, their claws were flexed and their soulless black eyes glimmered.
With expert precision, he fired his gun thrice. Each plasma shot found their marks in a different head. The first two fell backwards under the impact while the third tumbled forward, skidding to a halt mere inches from the ponies. Every pony present eyed the carcass with a slack-jawed expression.
That was when all hell broke loose.
The Wanderer cringed when the quiet night air was suddenly perforated with screams. The princess pony tried to keep order, barking orders at her charges but they scattered in almost every direction, terrified by what they had just witnessed. With the exception of the two pegasai and the princess pony, the remainder of the band had disappeared into the trees. The first pegasus was too scared to move as she curled up into a quivering ball while the second hovered overhead with an utterly stupefied look on her face, her gaze fixed on him. Her jaw hung slack and was that…awe in her eyes?
That was when he was almost blown over by a loud shout. The Wanderer frantically looked about and found that it was the princess pony who did it. She did not look happy; her eyes were narrowed in a glare directed at him as she slowly walked towards him. She continued yelling, conjuring up winds (somehow) each time.
He raised a hand to make a placating gesture, trying to calm her down, but he was surprised when her horn glowed with a faint silver light, and he found it difficult to move.
Naturally, he tried struggling against them. It seemed to have an effect on the princess the more he fought back. She was straining, her brow was twitching and she gritted her teeth.
Wait…is she doing this? Some sort of…I don’t know… he racked his brain, trying to think of a good word. He figured that he had simply startled her, or she suspected him of being affiliated with the abominations in some way. Either way, he had to convince her that he wasn’t the enemy, lives were at stake.
The rainbow pony was babbling something in her language, gesturing frantically with her hooves, both towards him, the princess and the quivering mass that was another pegasus. Whether she was trying to reason with the princess, or condemning him, he did not know.
He grunted in exasperation as the pony continued to hold him in place, but out of the corner of his eye, he could see more dark shapes gathering at the edge of the clearing, near where the butter-colored pegasus was resting. His eyes darting between the pegasus, the abominations, and the princess.
He barked a warning when the monsters charged.
The princess glanced in the direction that he was looking at she cried out in alarm, as well as the rainbow pegasus; the abomination’s soon to be victim shrieked in terror. The princess finally let the Wanderer go. His weapon came flying up, and he was already shooting at the monsters.
One down, two down, three…
He swore loudly, the last one was too close to the pegasus; he wouldn’t have time to…
Abruptly, he heard what sounded like crackling electricity nearby. Suddenly, a radiant blue lightning bolt phased into existence, lancing through the air and impacting the remaining monster in the chest. The Wanderer yelled out in surprise and instinctively dove to the ground at the sound of a loud blast. The abomination went down, a hole burned right through it.
Gritting his teeth, the Wanderer turned and found that the act was done by none other than the princess pony, her horn still crackled with energy.
The Wanderer blinked once, Well, didn’t see that one coming…
The princess met his gaze and a moment of silent understanding seemed to pass between the two. The Wanderer scrambled to his feet, still staring at the pony. Guess that’s one way for them to defend themselves…
Another shriek rang through the air, and both the princess and the Wanderer stood at alert. They exchanged a glance and nodded. Nothing would get by the two of them.
The next group charged in a very similar fashion, and they fell extremely quickly. The Wanderer was impressed when the princess pony took out three more of the things in quick succession. Impressed and distracted to the point where he almost missed his targets.
He could hear one of the things trying to rush him from the rear. Quickly, the Wanderer readjusted his body as the abomination tried to pounce him; he seized it out of the air and flipped it over his shoulder, as it landed it shrieked horribly. He quickly ended its miserable existence by bringing down his power-armored boot on its neck.
The princess was faring just as well, zapping an abomination and flung another through the air with her telekinesis.
Another monster tried sneaking up on him; it didn’t work. The Wanderer heard it coming and lashed out with his fist, catching the thing in the jaw. Before it could recover, he shoved his pistol in its face and fired point blank, reducing the ex-human’s brains to the consistency of a radioactive slushy.
When the chaos ended moments later, he and the princess pony were standing back to back. He had to admit: blasting hostile aliens with a pegasus…unicorn…or whatever she was called by his side was not what his typical day was usually like.
Well, it was Tuesday.
Overhead, the rainbow pony cheered.
The Wanderer looked to the princess, while she looked back. Her expression softened and she said something to him, judging from her tone, it was an apology for the brief display of mistrust which almost cost the little yellow pegasus.
“Don’t worry,” the Wanderer responded, “I’m not angry,” he patted her on the shoulder. She recoiled briefly, before settling down.
There was a distant scream. Everyone present cringed but the Wanderer’s eyes widened when he realized that it wasn’t one of the abominations again, this scream sounded very human and very afraid.
It was undoubtedly one of the missing ponies.. He took a deep breath but before he could take a single step, he suddenly found his path blocked by a feathery, navy blue wing. He turned and cocked an eyebrow and the princess who was standing nearby.
“Do you mind?” grumbled the Wanderer, meeting her gaze. Before he could say another word, the princess’s horn once again lit up with a silvery-blue light.
He gasped slightly at what felt like a slight pressure on his mind. It was a curious sensation; he closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. He could see…images.
It looked like a picture of all of the ponies, every pony that was present in the clearing, including himself. They were all gathered in one place, but were surrounded by the abominations. With the exception himself, the princess, and the filly, a light arced between each of their necklaces and the tiara of the purple one. It finished up with the light coalescing into a large singular mass, before expanding outward, consuming all of the monsters. When it cleared, only the ponies remained, as well as himself.
He shook the images from his head before finding himself back in the clearing under the curious eye of the princess pony. It took him a moment from him to analyze what he had just seen, but he understood. Somehow, those necklaces could be used to destroy all of the abominations. How, exactly? He had no idea whatsoever.
Lastly, the princess tapped the ground on which they stood with one of her forehooves and the Wanderer grasped the meaning: find the rest of the ponies, and gather them here. He and the princess shared a stare for a moment before he gave a single firm nod. The pony seemed to be satisfied with his response and smiled.
Not a moment later, the pony cantered over to the quivering mass, which was the terrified pony, and to his surprise, lifted her onto her back with some unseen force. The butter-colored mare shakily hooked her forelegs around the neck of the princess before the navy-blue pony took to the air with two powerful beats of her wings. The rainbow pony shot one more look at him before following the princess.
The Wanderer watched her go; he couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy as well as awe. She and the other pegasus looked so graceful, so free flying through the air like that, completely unbound by the earth and…
He slapped himself, shaking himself from his musings. Keep the sentimental crap for later; you have a mission to complete.
He quickly observed the hoofprints that were leading away from the clearing. With his keen observational skills, he was able to deduce that they had run in two opposite directions in pairs of two. The princess was heading towards one group, so he decided that it would be logical for him to pursue the other two.
He took a deep breath before bounding into the forest.
Don’t worry, I’m coming…
Pinkie Pie wasn’t having a very good day. Or night, or early morning, doesn’t matter. What did matter is that she had gotten separated from her friends when the scary monsters attacked and she bolted off in fright when the alien had zapped them.
Pinchy knee pinchy knee…
She had run into several of those things not very long after she bolted into the forest.
She desperately clung to a branch as several of those horrifying monsters circled underneath her, waiting for her to fall. Her poofy mane had deflated and hung limply around her as she tried to hold back tears. She was scared; Grandma Pie had always taught her to simply laugh at the spooky to make it go away, but no amount of giggling would vanquish this evil.
They looked so awful. They looked so much like the alien yet not like the alien. It confused her. How could one of them be so nice, yet the rest of them be so mean…? Their horrible cries seemed to pierce her very soul as they stared up at her with their horrid black eyes as they reached for her with their twisted claws, intent on turning Pinkie into a Pinkie sandwich.
She gritted her teeth and her heart thudded rapidly in her chest. Her frame quivered as she hung on for dear life. She stifled a sob; all she wanted to do was to throw a party for her newest, bestest friend. She squeezed her eyes shut as a few tears ran down her face, gravity seizing them and dragging them down to the forest floor.
She stared at the starry sky through a gap in the canopy above; she sobbed once more.
Well… she thought to herself, Look on the bright side, Pinkie. At least it isn’t raining…wait…itchy back?
There was a loud sound echoing through the forest, each thump accompanied by a flash. Pinkie’s eyes sprung open at the noise as she wondered where she had heard that exact same noise before. But most importantly, she realized that the forest was quiet again. Slowly, she turned her head around, redirecting her gaze to the forest floor, only to find that the monsters were oddly replaced with puddles of green goo. She continued staring for a confused seconds before the cause of the monsters’ demise silently stepped into view.
Pinkie’s sadness instantly receded at the sight of her new best friend approaching. Her hair poofed back up with an audible sproing as he walked to the base of the tree, and her face split into a wide grin.
Oh my best friend is here to rescue me!
“Ooh! Ooh! Up here new best friend!” said Pinkie.
The alien stopped at the base of the tree, glancing around quizzically for a moment before slowly looking up. His expression seemed to take on one of…annoyance when he saw her. Yet why would he be annoyed? Pinkie was absolutely confused, who would be annoyed to see Pinkie? Everypony likes Pinkie!
Without a care in the world, Pinkie let go of the branch.
The alien cried out in alarm when he suddenly found an airborne party pony hurdling towards him from skies above. The two collided and they tumbled into a disorganized heap of limbs and armored plates. The dust cleared to reveal a slightly dirtied Pinkie Pie standing on top of a prone alien, her expression one of unbridled joy and happiness.
“Oh thank you thank you for coming to rescue me, Mr. Alien! At first I was all like AHH when you zapped those monsters but then I got cornered by those other monsters and I was all scared because I thought they were going to eat me but then my back got itchy which means that it’s my lucky day and then you came by and were all like ‘NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT!’ or something but I don’t know what you were like because I can’t understand you and…”
The alien blearily looked up at her with an expression of absolutely bewilderment.
“…then you zapped those monsters too! Why’d they turn into goo? Does your zapper do that? That’s kinda weird…anyway then I saw you coming and I was like YAY and then I dropped down but then…”
The alien shushed her by placing a single armored finger on her lips. She stopped talking, but she kept the grin.
Of course, of all of the ponies he could have encountered first, it had to be the chatterbox. He couldn’t help but admire her cheerfulness though, one minute she was being attacked by aliens, the next she was completely back to normal, or whatever normal is for her. He couldn’t help but find it strangely cute.
With a grunt, and a brief protest from the pony, he shoved her off of his chest and scrambled to his feet. Much to his dismay, he found that he got some of the goo on his armor; that stuff is an absolute pain to wash out. He never quite pegged down the reason why plasma based weapons caused molecular destabilization, or whatever the correct term was.
While he was busy pondering that, the pink pony went right back to her relentless chattering, waving animatedly with her hooves. It was a bit refreshing to see how quickly she could bounce back; it looked like she was simply happy that he saved her and not afraid that he had just zapped those monsters to goo.
He had followed their trail through the dense underbrush, blasting a few of the monsters along the way. It was a learning experience in one way, fighting through a dense forest for the first time, just as it was incredibly nerve-racking.
The abominations had much more natural features to hide behind, the underbrush hiding them from view. By the time a lesser man would have noticed that there were monsters lucking in the brush, they would already have been attacked.
He felt that the pony’s stare on him as he crouched down, inspecting the earth at the base of the tree. He groaned irritably; seemingly it was too much to hope for that the two ponies that bolted in this direction stayed together. The conspicuous lack of a second pony, or thankfully, lack of a pony corpse gave him the impression that the two were separated.
He reeled back in surprise when a poofy pink object entered his field of view. The pony had roughly shoved her noggin between him and the ground, and her large blue eyes were staring at the same object he was staring at.
She babbled something before falling back on her haunches, her expression quizzical with her hoof on her chin. While she was doing…whatever that was she was doing, the Wanderer frantically searched for another pair of tracks. The ground in this forest was a great deal softer than that of the Wasteland, and animals seemed to leave much more noticeable impressions.
While he was scrutinizing the earth, he yelled out in surprise when something abruptly jumped onto his back. He trashed frantically, determined to throw his attacker off. His heart raced, he struggled, but his assailant refused to let go. He threw a glance over his shoulder and saw…
…that the pink pony had abruptly piggybacked him without his permission. The Wanderer’s jaw went slack in astonishment at the sheer boldness of Ms. Hyperactive. Her back legs were wrapped around his waist while her forelegs rested on his shoulders. He also noted how strong her grip was, interesting given the fact that she lacked fingers; she was completely unfazed by her brief ordeal, and her grin was as crazily wide as ever.
The Wanderer cocked an eyebrow, “Do you mind?” he said irritably. He rose to his feet, and the pony came up with him, her current position placing her head higher than his own. She stared down at him with those big blue eyes.
He almost forgot what he was out here to do as they continued to stare at each other; she seemed to remember as well, given the fact that she suddenly gasped.
The Wanderer continued to stare with a dumbfounded look plastered on his features as the pink pony frantically looked about, before placing one hoof above her eyes. She turned her entire upper body in such a way that it made her look like she was surveying the whole forest, when her hoof abruptly shot out, directed at the forest.
It took the Wanderer a moment to realize that she was pointing.
Sucking in a deep breath through gritted teeth, he began loping in that direction with a pony on his back. His jaw went slack when he saw a new pair of tracks heading down that way.
How did I miss that before? He thought with a hint of bewilderment.
The pink pony kicked his sides and said something in her sugary language. The Wanderer snorted as he took into account the irony of the situation. Here he was, on an alien world, and the pony was riding the human.
I feel so foalish…
Thought Twilight Sparkle as she and Rarity struggled to maintain a magical barrier. It was the only thing standing between them and the horde of ravenous abominations who flailed against the glowing dome surrounding the two unicorns. They had ambushed them shortly after becoming separated from the others, spilling out of the forest like insects.
Why couldn’t she have kept control and stayed with the princess rather than darting away like a skittish little filly? Although many of her exploits were lost to the ravages of time, and overshadowed by her fall as Nightmare Moon, Twilight knew that the Night Princess had combated and defeated many monsters, pushing them all the way back to the gates of Tartarus. Also, in becoming separated from her friends, she had lost the advantage of the Elements of Harmony; the tiara perched atop Twilight’s head was useless if it wasn’t gathered with the remainder of the elements.
Under most circumstances, Twilight would have devised some clever plan to get her friends and herself out of their predicament, but at the moment she was frightened beyond the point of rational thought. How to handle being surrounded by a horde of alien monsters wasn’t a normal part of her curriculum. She gritted her teeth, a bead of sweat traveled down her forehead as she struggled to maintain the spell.
Sure, she could teleport herself, but where would that leave her friend? She wasn’t the element of loyalty, but there wasn’t a chance that she would leave her friends behind to deal with these…creatures.
Twilight yelped when one of the monsters dove into the barrier particularly close to her position, giving her a clear view of its twisted features. There were so many similarities between its face and that of the other alien, albeit the fact that this one’s expression contained nothing more than mindless malice. Twilight shuddered as she stared into those soulless black eyes, and that hateful scowl.
“We can’t…keep this up…” grunted a very dirt-encrusted Rarity. Her chest was heaving under the strain as she struggled to maintain the barrier. The azure glow of her horn flickered dangerously. Tears welled up in her blue eyes as the barrier receded slightly.
Twilight and Rarity locked gazes as their shield, the only thing standing between them and the monsters slowly waned. Twilight sobbed while Rarity shut her eyes, more tears streaking down her cheeks. Twilight dug her hooves into the soft earth and her face screwed up.
“I’m sorry,” she squeaked.
I hope Sweetie Belle is safe… thought Rarity wistfully.
Twilight sucked in a deep breath. The images of her family, her mentor, and her friends flashed before her eyes. She gritted her teeth, sweat pouring down her face. Something like a flame sprung up inside of her as she thought of those happy memories, giving her a newfound sense of determination. She reached deep within herself, drawing on her vast reserves of magic.
Rarity gasped at the frightening look adorning her friend’s face, her heart raced in her chest. Twilight’s horn brightly, and their barrier took on a deep shade of violet. Twilight yelled as she threw her power behind the barrier, and it rushed outward with a surge of energy. The monsters shrieked as they were violently blasted aside, scattering like leaves caught in the wind; their bodies were violently crushed against the trees, dirt and rocks as the magic tore through their bodies.
A moment later, it was over.
Twilight stood there panting, her eyes half shut with exhaustion. Rarity looked on mortified at the destructive display. With a final sigh, the violet mare slumped heavily on her side, Rarity caught the mare with a startled cry.
“Twilight! Darling, are you okay?” asked Rarity, her concerned stare on her friend.
The mare shakily rose back to her hooves. Twilight took in a deep breath; “Just…a little…winded…” her statement was punctuated with gasps. The magical assault took more than just a physical toll on her. She was in a state of shock at what she had just done; she had never imagined herself using her magic for such destructive purposes.
“Are you sure-“
“Twilight! Rarity!” shouted a new, welcome voice. Twilight and Rarity felt a sense of relief welling up in their chests before direction their gazes skyward. Sure enough, a familiar cyan pegasus was overhead, flying towards them, “Are you-…woah,” she stopped when she saw the broken corpses of the monsters laying about. “Did you…d-did you just…” her face paled. Her gaze slowly drifted over to Twilight.
The violet unicorn felt a lump of dread forming in her throat, terrified of what her friends would think of this little incident. Oh please don’t hate me…please don’t be afraid of me…
“An impressive display,” said another newcomer. Twilight blinked in surprise when she realized that Rainbow was not alone; the Night Princess materialized from seemingly nowhere alongside Rainbow and gracefully banked towards the two unicorns, landing noiselessly before them. Twilight’s knees started shaking, “I can see why my sister has chosen you as her protégé,” declared Luna, her head held high, looking down at the unicorn.
“P-Princess…” wheezed Twilight, her mouth dry. Twilight noticed that a quivering Fluttershy was mounted on Luna’s back. Twilight swallowed loudly before sinking in a bow, “Oh! I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have run and-“
“There is no need to apologize, Twilight Sparkle,” interrupted Luna, “Your fright at these most foul creatures was perfectly understandable.”
Twilight’s ears twitched, “But the elements were scattered...we should have stayed together and-“
“Wait, the other elements!” interrupted Rarity, thrusting a white hoof out, “What happened to Pinkie and Applejack?”
“I enlisted the aid of our mutual friend to aid us in gathering thine friends,” said Luna, matter-of-factly.
Now Twilight was curious, “How did you accomplish that? Last I was aware, we have a bit of a problem with a communication gap,” stated Twilight.
Luna puffed her chest out slightly, “I used a minor spell to get the point across, he seemed to understand my intentions,” her face became quizzical as she put her hoof on her chin, “I think I may have startled him, he acted as if he had never seen magic before.”
Rarity cocked her head and pawed at the dirt, “Ah…I see…but can our…friend be trusted?”
Luna shifted uncomfortably on her hooves, “We had a brief…disagreement, but I believe that he can be trusted,” she glanced between everypony present and shrugged, “Besides, I touched his mind briefly when I used the spell, I sensed no malice.”
“What are these…repulsive beasts anyway?” said Rarity walking to Twilight’s side.
Twilight met Rarity’s stare, taking note of the salty streaks that her tears had left down her cheeks, as well as her unkempt mane, “I honestly do not know, Rarity.”
“It does not matter,” interrupted Luna, “What I am certain of is that the other unknown creature is not aligned with their ilk.”
Rainbow snorted from overhead, “You bet he isn’t! You should have seen the way he took out those monsters! He was like…pow! Wham!” she punctuated each word with an exaggerated punch to the air. “Oh, and you looked like you did okay yourself,” she muttered, staring at the dead monsters, “Not that I’m saying it’s a bad thing, it’s cool to know that you can stand up for yourself,” Twilight felt a stir of reassurance. “Oh, and yes, he did have a zapper!” she said proudly.
That piqued Twilight’s curiosity, just enough for it to overcome her fear. With what had just happened, she had nearly forgotten that mere minutes ago she was practically drooling over the prospect of the strange, new technology and ideas their unique guest may have brought with him. That was of course until the monsters attacked. She frantically hoped that Luna and Rainbow were right, that the creature wasn’t aligned with these monsters. That would be one way to kill a dream… Twilight thought to herself.
Twilight yawned deeply; she couldn’t have picked a better night to skive off sleep for her studies.
“Art thou unharmed?” asked Luna in a soft voice, who trotted up to Twilight upon noticing the latter’s exhausted state.
Twilight groaned, rolling her shoulders, “I’m a little winded, but I’ll be fine. Nothing I’ve learned could prepare anypony for a situation like this…”
“What is important is that you are well,” said Luna, “My dearest sister would never let me hear the end of it if I let any harm come to thou.”
Twilight couldn’t help but smile.
“Fluttershy, are you okay, darling?” said Rarity, staring up at the quivering pegasus that was clinging to Luna’s back.
Fluttershy stared back and squeaked once.
Rainbow crossed her arms and noisily cleared her throat overhead. “I’d hate to rush ya, but shouldn’t we get going?”
Luna’s eyes darted between the airborne pegasus and the remainder of the ponies. “Indeed. I instructed our friend to bring any ponies he may find back to where we had first met,” stated Luna, “Do not worry, I will not leave your side. I will guard you against any more creatures that lurk in the dark.”
Sharing a collective nod, the ponies all fell in line behind the princess as they once again disappeared into the forest.
“Hey! Stop that!”
The Wanderer really had no idea how, but the pink pony was now riding atop his shoulders, regardless of how awkward that must have been for her. But more importantly, she had somehow pilfered one of his grenades.
The Wanderer’s pulse raised as the pony precariously balanced the ovular green object, with the short glowing green antennae in her hooves. She stared at it as if it were a Christmas present. Predictably, she continued chattering all the while, seemingly oblivious to the danger they were in.
The Wanderer’s hand darted through the air and snatched the deadly plasma-based explosive from the hooves of the eccentric pony. The pony seemed to take a moment to realize that her new ‘toy’ was gone, before putting on an adorable little pout.
The Wanderer put on a stern expression and shook his head, “Not happening,” he grumbled.
But before he knew it, the pony somehow acquired three plasma grenades and started juggling them. The Wanderer’s eyes widened in fear and he gritted his teeth as he watched the imminent disaster that was just waiting to happen.
One again, the Wanderer took away the explosives, and pointed at the pony’s face. “Stop that! It’s dangerous!”
He wasn’t about to let an innocent little pony get blown up, especially since in this case it would involve him getting blown up as well. He rather liked his currently unexploded state.
Looking around he eyed a relatively sizable gap in the vegetation. It was just him and the kooky mare, so he decided to give a little demonstration. Amidst the pony’s protests, he forced her off of his shoulders and gently set her on the forest floor. She watched him like a young student that was getting lectured.
He held the grenade up in his palm and pointed to it, “You see this?” he fiddled with the safety and armed it, tossing it aside into the empty patch. The pony jumped when the grenade sparked as it impacted the dirt, and blew up in a radiant green explosion a moment later.
The Wanderer crossed his arms and looked down at the pink mare, who continued to stare at where the explosion was mere moments ago, her mouth formed into a tiny o.
“You see? Dangerous,” he said matter of factly.
Much to his dismay, the mare smiled and began excitedly clopping her front hooves together as if she were applauding. “(Ooh! Ooh! Do it again! Do it again!)” she said happily.
Good lord, what have I gotten myself into? Thought the Wanderer as his palm found its mark on his forehead.
A pained cry brought him and the pony out of their current states. The pony’s eyes became wide and fearful at the noise, while he became alert and attentive at the sudden change in the pony’s mood. She was so distracting; it was a miracle he could stay focused for more than five seconds in her presence. He kept nearly forgetting that he was supposed to be searching for another pony.
Abruptly, the pony bolted in the direction the cry came from. The Wanderer swiftly pursued her through the forest, the pony’s noisy hoofbeats echoing throughout the forest. He couldn’t let her get too far ahead since the princess had asked him to protect them. At least she looked like an authority figure of some sort.
He nearly tripped over her when the pink pony abruptly stopped in her tracks, her gaze set dead ahead on something. The Wanderer squinted; the forest opened up, and he found himself standing next to a river running through the depths of the forest. Before he had an opportunity to ponder the idea of a world with absolutely no irradiated water, something far more alarming caught his eye. Before him he could see several of the monsters, prone, and unmoving.
What did this…?
He walked over to one of the abominations and forced it face up. It was dead; blood dribbled out of the wretched thing's mouth, and he could see two imprints on the things chest where someone’s hooves had made their mark. The rest of the corpses were in a similar state, with the exception of one; he promptly broke the unconscious beast’s neck.
The Wanderer ignored the pink pony as she walked to his side before he noticed something sitting by the riverbank. He kneeled next to it, the earth crunched under his knee. His face paled as he recognized the brown Stetson hat that the orange pony had been wearing. He glanced back at the corpses briefly; he had to hand it to her, she sure packed a mean kick. It was definitely a good thing that he had been wearing his armor earlier.
The pink pony joined him. She gasped in dismay as she too recognized the headgear. She frantically babbled something, waving animatedly with her hooves, her eyes wide and fearful. The Wanderer raised a single hand to stifle her speech before the Wanderer spotted a blood trail running alongside the river. The pony spotted it as well; her face paled and the Wanderer swore he could have seen her hair deflate slightly. He followed it, his long strides quickly putting distance between he and the pink pony.
A faint whimpering reached his ears.
The Wanderer picked up the pace and rounded the bend. He stopped in his tracks; there, off in the distance was a prone, bloodied form with an orange coat. Next to it, he could see a smaller creature with a bow in her mane frantically shaking the former. The Wanderer’s jaw went agape, and he quickly made his way to the fallen mare’s side.
The filly saw him coming; she turned to him and stared with those large golden eyes. He saw a flash of recognition. Big, wet tears were streaking down her face, and her tiny frame racked with sobs. Her back legs sat awkwardly behind her, she still couldn’t move.
“(C-c’mon sis…w-wake up…p-please…)” stammered the filly as she continued to shake her sister.
The Wanderer’s heart raced as he knelt next to the pony. Her eyes were shut and her face was locked in a grimace. Numerous gashes marred her orange coat, and blood still freely oozed from many of them. The little filly looked up at him with pleading eyes, even his hardened heart could not resist that stare.
I’m not about to let any of these creatures fall to these…things! He thought angrily. He was barely aware of the pink pony rushing up behind him; her hair had gone full-on straight. How that worked utterly perplexed the Wanderer.
Stooping over, the Wanderer placed the side of his face near the mare’s nose. The reassuring feeling of the mare’s breathing on his cheek was a good sign.
She’s still alive, thank god…
The Wanderer stared down at Pip-Boy, ignoring the curious stares of the other ponies present. His eyes briefly strayed to the clock. It was 5:00AM; almost dawn. But more importantly, he still had a stimpak left, thankfully, yet only one; most of them were used to bring him back from the brink of death following the crash.
He pushed a few buttons to eject it from his suit’s auto-doc systems.
“Are you sure, best friend?” prompted his AI, the synthesized voice drawing confused stares from the two conscious ponies.
“Yes,” he replied bluntly. Part of him knew that stims might not even work on these critters, yet that was cancelled out by the fact that she was probably going to die if he didn’t try. She was losing a lot of blood.
There was an almost inaudible hiss as the life-saving chem was dispensed through a slot near where his Pip-Boy met his armor. He took the hypo in one hand, and brought it up to eye-level. He heard both ponies gasp in surprise at the sudden needle; their irises shrunk and pink pony backed away.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he swung the needle down and thrust the stimpak into the mare’s hip, dispensing the restorative drug into the pony’s system. The Wanderer held his breath as he removed the spent hypo, eyeing the pony with a heavy sense of trepidation. Part of him was afraid that it wouldn’t work. That would leave a very good impression on these ponies, first mission he receives, and he fails it.
His heart skipped a beat when the pony gasped for air, her whole body racking with coughs. The coughing fit passed shortly, and the Wanderer’s fists clenched as he saw the numerous cuts stopped bleeding; the smaller ones even scabbed over quickly. Last but not least, the mare’s large green eyes started cracking open.
Applejack gasped as the first light hit her weary eyes. Her head was pounding; it felt like she had drank a little too much cider. Her limbs were heavy, and it seemed like it took monumental effort to simply budge them.
Cool morning air, mixed with a hint of moisture hit her senses as she took a deep breath, it felt cool and refreshing. She struggled to remember what she was doing; indistinct images flashed through her head of the forest, of some strange creatures, and of…them.
Her heart started racing. She could recall bolting like a little filly, struggling to keep her unconscious sister balanced on her back. They had ambushed her near the river, she fought her hardest to protect her kin. She remembered their claws tearing into her hide as she bucked them as hard as she could, but then, blackness. Ice formed in her gut as she started shaking.
Oh no! Apple Bloom!
“Applejack! Yer okay!” squeaked somepony nearby.
The mare forced her eyes open, gasping at the sudden light. Before the scene could form, she felt a tiny body envelop her own in a hug. Blearily, Applejack shifted her eyes down and caught sight of her sister. Relief washed over her.
“Ngh…wha-what’s goin’ on?” she said groggily as she swayed on the spot. Her body felt sore all over, even worse than that of a good day’s bucking.
“You were so c-cold! I t-thought that y-you…” Apple Bloom whimpered; her lower lip was quivering and her eyes were glistening with tears. “You wouldn’t wake up...”
Applejack felt a rush of sisterly compassion wash over her, she leaned over and nuzzled the filly, “M’alright sugarcube,” she shook her head, trying to dispel the fog in her mind. The scene around her gradually came into focus. She was in the forest, by a river. It was all coming back to her.
But…where’d those nasty varmints scuttle off to?
“Ooh! I’m so glad you’re alright, Applejack!” shouted a pink blur. Applejack started to smile, but then the grin fell when she saw that Pinkie’s hair was straight. A dark cloud seemed to follow a sad Pinkie everywhere, it was very rare to see her sad. “At first I was all like…like…” she struggled to come up with the words, it sounded like she was choking back sobs and tears shimmered in her eyes. However, a moment later her hair sprung back up, “…And then I was like-“
“Mr. Alien helped you, sis!” said Apple Bloom helpfully, speaking loud enough to supersede Pinkie’s ramblings.
Applejack nodded, but then froze as she processed that statement, “’Mr. Alien’? Who the hay is…”
She trailed off when she realized there was a non-pony present.
He was crouched just out of sight, silently watching her like a guardian statue. The cold look that dominated his face directly before the monsters attacked was gone, and he watched her with an air of calmness.
Applejack swallowed loudly, “Er…this fella is on our side…right?” she said shakily. She hadn’t forgotten how quickly he had killed those other creatures, and how…it looked like something he was really good at. But much to her relief, that strange weapon he had used was not in his hand.
“Sure he is!” squeaked Apple Bloom, “He saved mah hide from the monsters earlier in that…dark place,” she wrinkled her nose, “He saved me…and Scoots…in Sweetie Belle…” her eyes widened and her lip began quivering, “W-what happened to them? A-are they alright?”
“Ooh, they’re at Zecora’s place! Along with all those big tough guards!” said Pinkie, who hopped on her hooves.
Applejack raised an eyebrow at her sister, “What happened to yer’ legs?” her eyes narrowed, “This fella didn’t do it, did he?”
Apple Bloom’s ears drooped, “Ah…Ah dunno. It was dark. Sumthin’ fell on me and hurt mah legs,” she bowed her head, “He carried me out. Guess I must’ve fallen asleep…”
Applejack nodded once as her sister’s situation became clear to her. So the alien had helped her, and now it looked like she owed him as well. Her eyes traveled over to her apparent savior; she stared quizzically up at him, before noticing the empty syringe held limply in his left hand.
“What did he do to me?” asked Applejack, looking to her friend and her sister for an answer.
Pinkie Pie and Apple Bloom shared a look and a shrug. "Ah dunno...nothin' bad..." said Apple Bloom.
Applejack’s face screwed up before she replied with a simple, “Eeyup.” For all she knew, the alien could have poisoned her. She really didn't like the idea of strange alien medicine, but on the bright side, it seems to have worked. “Now…where’s mah hat…” she grumbled.
“Ooh! I’ll get it!” Pinkie said happily before darting down the riverbank.
With a grunt, the orange farmpony rose to her hooves. Her head swam and her knees shook. The world seemed to be spinning. She almost lost her balance but then she felt something holding her steady. She blinked once when she realized that it was the alien lending her a hoof, and helping her get her bearings; his hands firmly grasped her shoulders.
She released a long drawn out breath, before groaning. A brief self-inspection showed that she was in pretty rough shape, her orange coat was splattered with drops of dried blood. Thankfully, she somehow wasn’t still bleeding, given how many cuts she had. Maybe it was in that thing the alien had given her…?
Pinkie abruptly returned with the Stetson in her mouth, “Here’s your hat!” she chirped, and placed the headgear on top of Applejack’s head. Applejack grunted and hastily readjusted her signature hat, brushing a few stray strands of her blonde mane from her eyes.
“Sis!” exclaimed Apple Bloom from her lower position, “Are you gonna be okay?”
“Ah’m fine, sugarcube,” said Applejack firmly, while rolling her head about. A couple quiet pops could be heard. She nervously pawed at the dirt and glanced at the crouching alien; she smiled and looked away, “Um...thank ya kindly...for both me and mah sister. Ah don’t know what ah would have done if...”
She trailed off as the alien extended an arm in front of her. Everypony eyed him quizzically. With that same arm, he pointed at Applejack’s chest. It look her a moment to realize that he was pointing at the Element of Honesty that was snugly around her neck, then he pointed at Pinkie’s necklace.
“Ooh! Are we playing charades? Whatisitwhatisit?” said Pinkie excitedly.
Applejack shrugged off Pinkie’s antics, “I think he’s tryin’ to tell us sumthin’ sugarcube.”
The stranger repeated the motions, pointing at both of the necklaces in turn. Applejack continued to stare at him with a puzzled look on her face. He grunted with annoyance. He then proceeded to place both of his hands near his head, forming what looked like a mockery of a tiara and a horn. He followed that up by flapping his arms.
“Ooh! Ooh! I think he’s talking about Princess Luna!” said Pinkie Pie.
“The Princess is here?” said Apple Bloom excitedly. He pointed at both of the necklaces again, then pointed back the way they came.
“Ooh! Of course! Luna told him to gather the elements so we can beat the baddies!” she said cheerfully, “Did I win? Huh huh huh? Is it my turn now?” without being prompted, the pony put on a goofy grin and started making vague gestures with her hooves.
Applejack placed a hoof on her forehead, “Wait…how do ya’ll know that?”
“Easy, silly filly! I read the chapter!”
Applejack gave her a flat look, “What?” she shook her head, “On second thought, nevermind,” Applejack had a headache enough as it was, no need to interpret Pinkie logic.
“C-could somepony help me up?” said a timid Apple Bloom. The alien seemingly read her mind and scooped her up, placing her on her sister’s back. She didn’t even get a chance to protest. “Thanks Mr. Alien,” she mumbled, lazily nuzzling the hand before he could withdraw it.
Applejack couldn’t help but smile at the display.
“Pinchy knee pinchy knee…” Pinkie rambled, visibly starting to shake again. Applejack’s eyes snapped wide open. Pinkie Pie stared at everypony with wide blue eyes. “That means something scary is going to happen!”
The alien seemed to notice the pony’s sudden change in demeanor, and rose to his feet. Applejack felt a brief jolt of panic when he towered over them at his full height.
He turned his gaze on them.
“(I don’t know about you, but I’d say this is a good as time as any to get back to your princess, hm?)” he growled in his strange language before backing away, making a gesture with one of his arms. He was beckoning them – that much Applejack could tell.
She and Pinkie exchanged a glance before falling in line behind the alien.
Almost done, now I just need to get these two to the princess pony safely…thought the Wanderer as he led the ponies down the riverbank. He still was unsure how exactly those necklaces were supposed to help, but he wasn’t one for skepticism.
He couldn’t help but smile inwardly at the display of affection between the filly and the orange mare. It was obvious that the two were either mother and child, or siblings. It gave him an odd…tingly feeling.
But even with that, the Wanderer couldn’t repress a newfound feeling of trepidation.
Something was off, and it wasn’t the abominations. He couldn’t shake the feeling as he walked alongside the river.
Before long, he noticed something alarming as he reached the spot by the river where he had emerged from the forest earlier. All of the abominations’ carcasses were conspicuously absent. Only splatters of sticky green ichor polluted the earth.
Where had they gone?
He stopped in his tracks, the pony nearest to him bumped into his legs. The Wanderer bit his lip in doubt. Something had removed them, and he had no idea of what could have possibly be…
He briefly caught a glimpse of another abomination prowling just barely out of view in the trees. He snorted, drew his pistol, aimed it, and…
Something pounced on it, something much larger and deadlier. The abomination screamed a high, final cry, before cutting off.
He could hear the mares behind him gasp in fear at the sight at the new dark shape that lurked in the forest. Ice settled in the Wanderer’s stomach as he recognized the reptilian features, the long tail, sloping horns, numerous spikes running along its spine, and last but not least…
…its massive claws.
Oh you gotta be kidding me…
The Wanderer’s heart raised as the hulking beast slowly turned its head towards him and the ponies. He knew that these things had poor eyesight, maybe if he didn’t move…
It stared directly at him. So much for that idea…
Earlier the Wanderer was curious if anything worse than the twisted former humans was being held in his section of the wreckage, and the universe deigned to give him an answer in one of the cruelest ways possible. Why did it have to be one of those? He was nowhere near well-equipped enough to deal with this sort of thing.
A lesser man might have soiled his armor right there and now, but that Wanderer deigned to make some witty internal monologue about how much the universe hated him.
It took a single step towards them. The Wanderer turned to his companions, panic on his features. The ponies all shared a similar look, their irises shrunken down to pinpricks, their knees quivering, sweat pouring down their faces. He jabbed a finger in direction from which he and the pink pony came, and silently mouthed ‘Go!’. The orange pony looked at him and swallowed audibly.
The beast growled as it took another step, and the deathclaw loped out into the moonlight. Standing over fourteen feet tall, it was a fearsome sight. The Wanderer could feel the blood drain from his face. Almost immediately the Wanderer recognized it has something other than a standard deathclaw, that would have been too much to hope for. Judging from its size and the length of its horns, it was at least an alpha, or worse; he shuddered at that possibility. He could tell that it had been experimented on; the old surgical scars were visible on its thick, dark, hide and its eyes weren’t the milky white, nearly blind orbs that most of its kin possessed; they were a shiny black, just like an abomination’s.
Of course the aliens had to fix that flaw, he thought derisively as the monster opened its mouth, displaying a row of horrid, jagged fangs.
The Wanderer pondered his situation. He had personally eliminated many of these monsters. He had purged their foul nests, Old Olney and Dead Wind Cavern came to mind, yet both of those raids had one major thing in common; he had more than a couple of melee weapons, a handful of grenades, and a plasma pistol.
The Wanderer’s lip twitched. “I’m gonna need bigger guns…” he mused to himself, “This could be…problematic…”
The deathclaw spread its claws and hissed loudly, eliciting a terrified yelp from the Wanderer’s equine charges. The monster broke into a run.
A feeling of dread dropped into his stomach. The Wanderer snapped out of his daze and immediately shot at the deathclaw, the green, high powered shots impacting the monster’s eyes. It roared in pain, and its head jerked back.
The Wanderer turned to the ponies, who looked at him with shock. He jabbed his finger back towards the path again. “Go!” he bellowed, causing them to jump, “Get out of here! I’ll handle this!”
They seemed to grasp his meaning and the broke into a frantic gallop. The deathclaw snapped out of its plasma-induced stupor and turned its attention towards the retreating mares.
“Oh no you don’t!” the Wanderer shouted, shooting several accurate shots into the monster’s legs. It was unfazed by his attack as it continued to charge down the mares.
The Wanderer swore as the distance between the deathclaw and the ponies waned. The orange pony threw a frightened look over her shoulder. The deathclaw drew a single one of its hands back, preparing to strike. Without a moment’s hesitation, the Wanderer snatched a grenade from his belt, armed it, and hurled it towards the monster.
It made its mark, blowing up directly beneath the monster, nearly causing it to trip. It hissed in pain as the ponies disappeared into the trees.
He released a breath that he didn’t realize that he was holding; his heart skipped a beat when the monster turned its attention onto him, quickly recovering from its stumble. The hide of its legs was burned from the blast, and were visibly steaming.
The Wanderer fired several more fruitless shots at the thick scales of its head, the monster slowed slightly each time, but didn’t stop.
The Hero of the Wastes planted his feet firmly on the earth, and stared at the charging monster. He took a deep breath and bowed his head. The craziest idea was running though his head at the moment. Knowing how ‘crazy’ tended to go for him, he decided that it just might work
Directing his gaze back towards the monster, he narrowed his eyes.
“Bring it on, you son of a bitch!” he bellowed, and then he charged.
Anyone else would have been called insane for even considering such an action, but he was not like most people.
People called him the Hero of the Wastes, the Paragon, the Wasteland Messiah, the dozen other names that Three Dog had called him.
He was the Lone Wanderer.
He watched his opponent carefully as it brought back its claws, preparing the hack him to bits. At the last moment, he dove forward, and the claws missed him by inches.
The monster stared about confusedly, wondering as to where its prey had gone and why its claws weren’t slick with the blood of that tiny human.
It got its answer moments later when it something exploded beneath it, making its vision flash with green. It roared with pain when it realized that its prey had used another one of those exploding rocks. It felt something tugging at its tail, followed by a searing pain in its back. It turned its great head around to find its prey climbing up its back; with one hand, he was using the deathclaw’s own spikes as handholds, and in the other he was holding a large knife to stab it in the back repeatedly as it climbed, leaving a bloody trail up the monster’s spine.
The deathclaw bucked its massive frame, trying to shake its prey loose, but he refused to let go. He continued to scale the beast. As he reached the deathclaw’s neck, he grabbed one of the monster’s horns for stability. The deathclaw blindly swatted at the human with its massive claws at it continued to shake and rock and buck.
A strong feeling of hatred racked the monster’s body as it felt the bite of its prey again. It should have been the other way around, its prey should have been feeling its bite!
With a vicious swipe of it claws, it caught its prey’s shoulder. He gasped in pain as a splash of crimson danced through the air. The deathclaw hissed as it felt the human’s grip loosen. With a single last buck, it sent its prey flying through the air.
The monster hissed in victory as it moved in to finish of its prey.
“Where are they?” thought Twilight out loud. She nervously twisted her hooves in the dirt and her pulse raced.
It had been over ten minutes since she the Princess, the pegasai, and Rarity had returned to the clearing where they had met the alien. She was getting worried. Her other friends couldn’t have gotten that much farther away then she and Rarity did, that she was certain of.
More than once, they had heard the alarming cries of those monsters echoing throughout the forest as they anxiously waited for the alien to return with Pinkie and AJ.
“They’ll be here,” Luna said simply as she stood tall, “I can feel it.” She didn’t know why, but something about the stranger told her that he could be trusted.
That failed to reassure Twilight and the rest of the ponies.
“Are you sure that you could trust that fellow?” asked an irate and very messy Rarity, “Not to be disrespectful…” she started.
There was a quiet snap coming from the underbrush. Everypony went tense. The air was so thick with anxiety that it could be cut with a knife.
“What was that?” stated Rainbow Dash who frantically looked about.
“Is it…them?” squeaked Fluttershy. The pony had finally vacated the princess’s back. Her body was low to the ground and her knees quivered.
Everypony squinted into the darkness, holding their breaths. A silent cheer went through the whole group when two familiar mares burst out from the underbrush. Fallen leaves and dirt sullied their coats, but they were both intact.
“It’s them!” Fluttershy said slightly more audibly, “Yay!”
Applejack was panting heavily, they noted with relief that a certain filly was still firmly taking up space on her back. The blood drained from Twilight’s face when she noticed the numerous cuts and dried blood that marred AJ’s coat.
“Woah! AJ, you all right there, pal?” said Rainbow, who swooped down from above, “You look like you got into quite a fight!”
The mare eyed her tiredly, “Ah’m…okay…Ah’m okay…” she muttered as she limped up to the rest of the girls.
Immediately, Fluttershy darted up to her friend’s side when the timid pegasus realized that her friend was injured, “Ooh! Are you alright! Were you hurt! Are you okay?” she started.
“Where’s the alien?” questioned Rainbow, “Didja lose him somehow?”
A heavy lump fell into AJ’s stomach at that statement. “Oh! Princess, we’d better use these here elements right quick!” she exclaimed, frantically gesturing with her hooves.
“There was a big monster!” Pinkie announced dramatically, popping up between everypony present. “First the alien found me and then he helped Applejack but then my knee got pinchy and…”
“He distracted the monster so we could get away,” sobbed Apple Bloom, her eyes brimming with tears. “…so we could get away…”
Luna bowed her head and sighed, nuzzling the sobbing filly. Using her telekinesis, she transferred the filly to her pack, and protectively folded her wings over her. Applejack was too tired to protest. “Don’t worry, we shall return for him when our task is complete,” she reassured.
“I can find him in ten seconds flat!” announced Rainbow, under everypony’s stares, she rolled her eyes. “I mean, AFTER we beat these freaks! It looks like we all got here at not a moment too soon,” announced Rainbow, drawing everypony’s attention. Sure enough, a few more of those twisted two legged abominations were loping into their clearing. Everypony gasped in unison.
There was a faint tingling sound, and Luna’s horn flared to life. She was prepared this time, and a large, protective dome encircled their clearing. The monsters fruitlessly banged their claws against the impervious barrier.
“Use the Elements! We will keep the foul beasts at bay!” the Night Princess loudly announced. The six friends all gathered in a circle, and all exchanged a nod.
A feeling a determination like no other came over them as Twilight initiated the spell, tapping into the Elements’ power. It felt warm and familiar as she drew the power forth.
Everypony could feel a magical spark burn within them, rising to the surface. The Elements began glowing softly, the radiance gradually increasing. They could feel the power of the elements running through them as the ancient artifacts resonated. Wind whipped about them as their hooves went off the earth, and they floated into the air.
Light seemed to be emanating from their bodies, it steadily increased in intensity.
Outside the barrier, the monsters continued their frantic assault on Luna’s magical shield, their horrid shrieks becoming louder.
The light took on a distinct color for everypony, one for each color of the rainbow. A beam of light shot from one element, to another, and other, and soon, the six friends were connected in a field of radiant beams of light. Electricity crackled amongst them as the strength of the beams increased. Soon, energy swirled off of their bodies, coalescing into a single pure-white orb overhead.
From her place atop Luna’s back, Apple Bloom watched with awe. She averted her gaze from the sheer brightness and shielded her eyes.
The monsters seemed to become more and more frenzied as the spell reached its climax.
The sphere burst, sending a rainbow-colored magical shockwave in every direction. The Elements were always a mystery, they reacted differently depending on the situation, and this was no different.
The wave washed harmlessly over the ponies, but the monsters were out of luck. They weren’t powerful, immortal beings like Nightmare Moon or Discord, they were just soulless husks. The power of the elements utterly annihilated them.
The magic blasted through the forest…
The ground caught up with him painfully as the deathclaw dislodged him. He landed ungracefully and in a heap, a pained cry passing through his lips.
He was vaguely away of the stinging in his shoulder where the beast had raked him. He saw its shadow enter his vision. He narrowly dodged its claws as he rolled to the side, a nice quartet of gouges were rent into the earth.
He scrambled to his feet and wheeled around to face the monster, holding his knife in a reverse grip in one hand, his pistol in the other.
Blood trickled down the monster’s forehead as it glared at him with hatred burning in its dark eyes. He brought his pistol to bear and fired at the deathclaw’s eyes. The beast shrugged off the shots and swung at him with his claws. The very tip of the nasty white blades caught the barrel of his Novasurge, and wrenched the weapon from his grip, sending it clattering uselessly to the earth too far away.
The Wanderer’s heart raced and sweat poured down his forehead as the beast took another swipe at him with its claws.
His mind barely even registered the pain as the tips of the claws raked across his chest. The scent of his blood seemed to drive the monster into a wilder frenzy.
Although he barely felt it, the deathclaw’s hit still staggered him. Before he could even react, the monster’s head darted forward, seizing him in its jaws. The Wanderer cried out in surprise as the monster’s chops closed over his midsection. His left arm, holding his knife was pinned, and his right flailed about as he was lifted into the air.
The deathclaw bit down, hard.
He cried out in pain as the vice tightened. He desperately pounded the monster’s great snout with his fist, trying to get free. Several of his suit’s components sparked and hissed as they were crushed in the deathclaw’s maw.
“C-critical e-e-error…” he heard his AI chirp over the ringing in his ears, “E-e-e-emergency, s-s-s-shutting dooooown…” the pitch and speed of the AI slowed down, “Gooood byyeeeee, beeeeeesstt-t-t-tt friieeeend….”
He gasped for air as the deathclaw’s continued its vicious assault, adamant on choking the life out of him. He gasped when he felt several of his ribs break, even his enhanced, high-density bones couldn’t take it.
The artificial spine from Big MT strained under the pressure. Plates on his armor buckled. He gritted his teeth as his constricted lungs screamed for air.
He coughed as the image of the forest slowly faded to black…
There was a distant explosion.
Oddly, the vice grip of death loosened. The world came back to him. Blearily, the Wanderer craned his head about. It didn’t take long for him to find it.
Through the trees, there was a strange, rainbow-colored wave of energy hurdling towards him. It blasted through the trees, scattering leaves everywhere. The Wanderer’s entire body vibrated from the loud roar the wave was making.
It gave him a strange feeling looking at it. It was something of a mixture of awe, fear, and…calm. He hung there limply as the force closed in, gritting his teeth as the roar of the wave overwhelmed his hearing.
The noise abruptly cut off as his whole world turned white. The strangest sensation washed over him as he hung there. A feeling of extreme heat passed over him, before being replaced by one of extreme cold…so cold…
He started shivering as a coppery taste filled his mouth.
Before he knew it, he suddenly found himself suspended fourteen feet in the air, the deathclaw, gone. He barely even felt the impact when gravity reasserted its hold.
His whole body was numb as he lay there, face down, his mind was clouded. He tried to move, but then intense pain shot down his chest, not that it would have done much good anyway, he could barely budge his limbs.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a red stream flowing onto the grass.
Wait, is that my…
He coughed once, sending a spray of crimson onto the ground next to him.
Ohh…that’s not good…
He could feel the cool touch of the grass on his face. A grim smile came onto his face as he clenched his fists. Here he was, feeling grass on his skin for the first time, and it was as he lay there dying. He never took the opportunity to walk around Oasis barefoot.
He was certain that this was it. He had come to terms with his mortality years ago; he was not afraid. Images flashed before his eyes; his father, Amata, Vault 101, Project Purity…Sarah…
This was how he imagined he would go out, falling in combat. On the bright side, at least he didn’t get a fatal infection from a radroach bite or something equally anti-climactic.
Through his dying haze, he was vaguely aware of something landing nearby; he could feel vibrations through the ground. It made a noise, but everything sounded like it was muffled.
“(…hey are…alright?)” it walked up to his side and stopped there. He felt it prod his shoulder with one of its…her…
It’s one of the ponies isn’t it?
“(Hey! I’m talkin’ to you!)” he felt something grab him, and he was powerless to resist when something forced him face up. His world spun briefly before he landed on his back, staring up into the face of a cyan pegasus.
The slightly annoyed look on her face quickly gave way to one of horror as her face visibly paled. She recoiled and held her forehooves up; they were stained red with his blood.
“(Omigosh…)” she fell back onto her haunches and scooted away, “(Omigosh omigosh omigosh…)” she stared at her bloodied hooves and started quivering.
From somewhere out of sight, he heard a frightened yell, coming from something else. Soon after, a yellow pony entered his field of view. It was the very timid one, the one he had seen the princess pony carrying away. Her long pink mane tickled his face as she frantically tried covering his grievous wounds with her hooves.
Wait is she…crying?
“(O-oh p-please be o-okay M-Mr. Alien, I-I’m sorry…)”
His head lolled around before noticing the rest of the ponies gathered nearby.
They…came back for me?
His mind swam. They barely knew him, yet they came back? He was confused. Most people he knew wouldn’t even bother looking back when he protected them, barely acknowledging his assistance, but these ponies…returned.
He could see the princess pony standing over him, with sorrow in her eyes. His breath hitched and he coughed as he looked up at her.
He barely maintained consciousness as the ponies stood above him, talking amongst themselves. The rainbow one kept her distance and continued to stare at her bloodied hoofs with a distant expression.
They were all here, the princess, the six adults, and the little filly, who glimpsed at him with tears streaking down her face. Her big sister…or mother, curled protectively around the small filly. The shy butter-colored pegasus made a vain effort to keep his precious lifeblood from spilling out; several of her tears splattered on his face. The white one tried not to stare at him as mascara streaked under her eyes. The purple one looked just as sad as the rest of them, her ears drooped.
Why are they all so sad…? They barely even know me…
The princess’s horn lit up with that silvery light, and a strange sensation came over him. It made him feel warm; his mind kept trying to slip away, but something kept pulling him back, told him to hold on.
What felt like hours later but was mere minutes in reality, a shadow passed overhead. Something much larger landed by the river where he lay. He couldn’t see it, but he felt a sense of weightlessness take him as something lifted him into the air and gently carried him.
“(I’ll send a message to my sister…)” said one of the ponies, sounded like the princess.
His vision flickered as he stared at the pale sky. It was almost sunrise, he could tell. He could feel every one of the ponies eyes on him. He didn’t know why, but for some reason, they made him feel…content.
The sky was soon blocked out as he found himself being loaded into some sort of…transport.
Shame I never got to see the sunrise…
His mind finally slipped into unconsciousness.
Annnnnnnnnnd that's that. Hope you liek! Once again, a big thanks to this guy for his excellent pre-read.
And look! I actually did it in under 2 weeks this time! Well, I just fell short of two weeks (about two days), but STILL!
On another note...does anyone think I'm making these chapters too long?
Until next time!
Oh, and +300 favs! I luv u guyz! :)