The branches tugged and tore at his fur, the once grand clothes that hugged his body were nearly nothing more than tattered strips of material now. The forest floor was uneven and awkward to run on, he tripped several times, nearly plummeting to the ground and his certain death. All he could do was concentrate, the threat of death was a good motivator. The creatures fallowing him were never far behind, he could hear their demonic breathing, smell their corroding flesh, feel their hell fire burning away at the trees as they passed.
Must escape, must escape, need to get away somehow! Need to find a place to stop and think, not only of a plan but something else, to understand what was happening! Waking up on the outskirts of the forest, with those... things behind him, waiting... that was all he could remember, why was he here? What had happened?
His ears twitched, listening over the sound of his panting breathes and pounding hoofsteps , the pursuing creatures' noises, their terrible neighing, and the crackling of their fiery manes, were beginning to die away. He dared to look back, and saw the creatures beginning to get held up by the thickening brush of the forest as the hunt went deeper into the forest. Due to the stallion's smaller stature, he fit through smaller gaps, hopping through tighter spots, making his hunters find alternate routes. He marvelled at his stamina, how was he able to do this?
He saw a root of an enormous tree come into view, it was large and curled too high for him to jump over. So taking his momentum, he crouched low, and swung his four legs out from underneath him, this sent him skidding across the ground, and underneath the underside of the large root. Still using the momentum, he dug his hooves into the ground, which halted his legs, while allowing his upper half continue forward, basically springing him back into a standing position, where he immediately began to run again. 'How in the world did I know to do that?!' He begged himself, his mind reeling at his keen and fast instincts. He looked back at the sound of a defeated neigh, to his overwhelming joy, the two fiery horses where stuck, unable to turn in time they had penned themselves against the root, too high t jump over and too low to crouch under, making their pursuit end there and then.
The stallion gave a victorious laugh, cackling at his get away from the unknown monsters. He spat back at the demons, revelling in his success. That was when the ground fell out from beneath him. With a surprised yelp, he felt the light layer of leaves on the floor vanish, he glanced down in time to see the ground open up into a narrow pit. His momentum carried him into the lip of the hole, slamming his chest against him and knocking the wind clean out of him. He grunted painfully, and in the moment of pain, his mind fogged, letting him fall into the darkness below.
Though close to passing out from the pain, he kept his wits about him, just enough to realise he was no longer falling down, something smooth and curved was cupping him. It was angled, making him slide down it fast and uncontrollably. He opened his mouth to let out a cry of adrenaline pumped fear, but before he could, he spotted a pinprick of light which within a second spread to the size of a football, then the tunnel opened up into a full hole. He shouted in fear for what waited at the end of the terrible slide, clenching his eyes shut. He felt the polished slide vanish beneath him, and his stomach felt light and lifted into the air, telling him he was free falling from the hole. He continued t cry out until suddenly, his back slammed into something hard, which cut his cry off.
He grunted in pain and rolled to his side, opening his eyes to see what he'd hit had been the ground, dirt, no grass grew, no leaves littered the floor, the floor was simply dried mud, explaining why his back now screamed in pain for hitting it so hard. He tried to step up, but as his hoof pushed up from beneath him, he was suddenly hit by something that send him sliding back across the floor, he gave out yet another cry of pain, but was shouted into silence.
"SHUT UP!" He froze, somepony else? Not one of those things? He focused on the weight, still on his chest. He saw two orange hooves holding him down, he followed them up, to see two deep purple eyes staring back at him, glaring angrily. A stray strand of purple mane fell across those eyes, but it's owner blew up, pushing it away.
"Who the hay are you Royalist?!" The stranger cried, surprising the stallion, from both the strength he'd been hit by, and the angle he'd fallen beneath them he'd thought the attacker was a stallion, but by the voice it was obviously a mare.
"W-what?" the stallion croaked, unsure of what she meant, he frowned in surprise. 'That's what my voice sounds like?' He shook his head, first deal with this punk! He lifted himself fast, trying to dislodge the attacker, it almost worked, but his defeat lay in the foreleg above him that bent suddenly, striking him in the jaw and sending straight back down to the hard ground.
"I said who are you?! What are you doing here?!" Asked the rough female voice again, more angry than before. The foreleg bent again, making the stallion flinch expecting another hit.
"I don't know!" Cried the stallion, his body trembling slightly, the fear from the previous pursuit now adding to the fear of this situation. The purple eyes frowned at his response. The stallion panted slightly, his chest still tight from his injuries. "I don't know..." He repeated, pleaded to be believed. "I don't know who I am..." He admitted finally, to which the mare above him breathed in surprise.
In a time of peace, all was well.
The mighty kingdom of Equestria stood strong, prouder and more elegant than any kingdom before it.
It's inhabitants were a peaceful raise of ponies. Who's vast empire spread across the land, ranging from great bustling cities, to small quaint towns. All their inhabitants were happy, content with their peaceful and simple lives.
But this great kingdom was built upon the conquering of another, the empire of Draconaqei! A kingdom ruled by vicious blood thirsty monsters known as the 'Draconequus' race. Twisted and tainted, they all resembled a mix of some of the many creatures that inhabited the world. A mix of chaotic creatures, resulting in deadly and sometimes grotesque creatures who ruled over the world with deadly and powerful magic. These creatures governed the rest of the world, ruling over all races, including the docile and peaceful race of Ponies.
These monsters ruled with an iron fist, destroying all traitors, flaying all treasonous creatures, ensuring that their dominance was never disputed.
And this is how it was for thousands of years, until finally, the pride of the pony race rose up against the monarchy and it's twisted rule, fighting at every possible battlefield, proving their ability at war as well as well as peace. This was the new world, a world divided between the two great races, pony and Draconequus, this new world heralded by destruction and fire.
Soon, the rebellion began to outgrow the empire. Resulting in far more enemies for the Draconequus race to face, not only ponies but other creature drawn in by their loyalty and dream of equality for all. The birds in the sky, the animals on the ground, even the fish in the sea levelled the empire's navy. The world cried out for the end of Draconaqie, and the fierce monsters fought tooth and nail to deny it's wish.
Soon all that stood between the Draconaquus and defeat was their capital, and of their once proud armies, only a handful of them were left to fight against the armies of the new world. Their king, a creature by the name of Discord, the strongest of the Draconequus' with the ability to alter reality, headed the front lines of his final army. Along with his army, he revealed a creature unknown to all, made by him for his darkest hour. The leviathans. Creatures of darkness and fire, created in the image of ponies, and rumoured to be the twisted souls of the tortured ponies killed over the years of Draconaqie's reign.
These creatures were powerful, and held their own against the many soldiers of the new world army. Victory for the twisted creatures was almost assured, but then came the elements. Lead by two ponies known as Alicorns, the 'Elements of harmony' the great tools of creation made by some being long before even the king Discord. These elements were used by six wielders, who fought through the hordes of leviathan and Draconequus, and reached the king on the centre of the battlefield. Their power was so strong, it overwhelmed the king, striking him down, and the draconequus' that stood with him, many of the week perished under their power, but the king survived. His power so great, he withstood the power of the gods, and fought against harmony. Resulting in his encasement in stone.
With their master gone, the leviathan's no longer had purpose. Lead by the Alicorns once again, the elements of harmony fought them, and cast them deep beneath the land. In a prison that none could escape, encased in the shell of the world itself. Left there, to never die, only survive and suffer for their dreadful deeds.
The successful armies began to spread across the land, renaming it "Equestria" After the land formed by the ponies' forefathers long before the Draconequus race took over the world. Ponies became the dominant race, but unlike the previous rulers, they relished the chance at creating a world where all creatures were equal. Animals, both magical and basic, all were given love, and acceptance by all. And the two alicorn's who lead the way to freedom, became the immortal rulers of the land.
Now was the time of peace, for all.
The peace however, was always at risk.
Creatures with darkness in their hearts constantly tried to overthrow the pony kingdom, trying to bring the land back to dark ways of Draconaqie, only under a new name and banner. Once, the former king Discord even broke free of his imprisonment, almost taking back the land alone, but the elements proved his downfall once again.
But one day, the peace died.
From beneath the ground, came creature nopony alive had ever seen, creatures of fire and shadow! Monsters able to destroy town in mere second, cities in mere hours. Equestria, in mere days. Once they'd succeeded, and captured the only surviving enemies of the first war, the alicorn sisters, they returned to their capital, to find their master encased in stone. By now his power was strong, and his cage weak. The chaos proved enough to free him once more, and this time he took over completely. Reclaiming the land that was once his, renaming it 'Discordance' due to his own twisted self obsession.
As it was in the old, it was in the new. Ponies rose up against him, fighting hard to survive, in the hope of the dream that was Equestria. A force, this time with no sense of direction came to be, and fought the dark king at every turn, but these were not the fighters of old, they were simple weak ponies, struggling to stand against the Leviathans without the decades of oppression their ancestors lived with before them.
But this resistance held promise.
For within this group, there were the wielders of the Elements of harmony. The same ones who imprisoned the king in stone for the second time. These wielders, with unwavering loyalty to the former land of Equestria, and it's rulers the alicorn sisters, were determined to take back the land.
Then the elements suffered the greatest defeat of all. The betrayal of one of their own, taking to the side of the king. Without their sixth member, they could not unlock the final ultimate power of the elements, only fight back against the enemy, ensuring their survival, and nothing more.
They say, the king rewarded the element who betrayed the others, made her his concubine, and from the traitor and the tyrant, there came a child, a terrible prince of Discordance, with the appearance of a pony, but the power of the dreaded Draconequus race.
And now, almost two decades later, the land is still rife with chaos. The resistance still fights, formed to ensure nopony ever suffers the pain of betrayal again. However, many ponies have come to understand they cannot win, so they live under the rule of Discord, in the hope that things will at least stay the same if they don't fight, instead of getting worse.
But the king is absent now, though many claim he still lives in the reclaimed capital, he is seen less and less as the years progress. This would normally give hope to those resisting his rule, believing him to be ill, or dying. However, when one menace vanishes, another takes its place. A new creature has come to signify the face of everyponies' suffering, a pony in appearance, but rumoured to have all kinds of unworldly powers as well as a perfect military mind. He has come to command the armies of Discordance, to level the rebels whenever they rise up.
His threat is great, his mind, unchallenged. His name, Havoc. Grand commander of the Discordance forces. Though hardly drawn into battle himself, his face seen upon the battlefield heralds the end to all who oppose him. If not for his ability, then by his apparel. Like the ponies of the old Equestria, he wears a dark blue suit, absent of a tie, and the collar turned up. The colour emphasises his dark coloured fur, and highlights his bright white hooves. But that isn't the site that strikes fear in their hearts, what does that is his mask.
A single pod, made of some unknown black material, it covers his entire head, except for two slots which allow him to gaze out to the world through whatever twisted eyes he has. They say they're a stunning blue, the only pure thing about his dreaded self, but no one can be sure, for anypony able to get close enough to those eyes, has only glimpsed them in their dying moments.
In this world where their dreaded king has been seen far less, this creature, Havoc, has become the new devil to this new, oppressed generation.
The town burned fast, after all there wasn't much to burn. A few houses, and a single town hall, halfway through construction. It didn't take much for the Leviathans to tear their way through the flimsy buildings and send their treasonous inhabitants running. This would teach them to harbour the rebels, they would pay for turning their backs on their king.
From the top of the hill he stood, watching the demonic horses cut down the retreating civilians. This wasn't a battle, nothing worth his time, this was merely pest control at best. He spotted a few pegasi making a break for the sky from behind the hall. "Commander!" He ordered, and without hesitation his blue commander rushed down the hill with her personal squad of Leviathans. He watched them reach the group fast, watched the pegasi being dragged to the ground by the commander's magic. He couldn't hear them over the crackling of the flames, but he could see by their faces they were screaming. Good. Fear is good. What is needed to rule!
Havoc surveyed the destroyed town, searching for any survivors from this perfect vantage point. From within a burning house he spotted one, trapped by a collapsed beam. No need to worry about that one. Another was cornered against a burning house by three of the demonic soldiers. Good. This was wrapping up nicely. No hiccups or mistakes!
"RAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!!" Havoc turned in time to see something streak across his vision. Something large, orange and purple. It struck him in the chest sending him to the ground. He searched quickly for his minions, and saw they were all down in the town, leaving him and his assailant alone on the top of the hill. He looked out through the narrow slots of his helmet and saw two hateful purple eyes glaring back. Havoc began to laugh.
"Hmhmhmhmm, the great Scootaloo, I was worried you wouldn't show my dear!" came a warped voice from beneath the metal mask. This was the reason they'd come, the rebel's second in command, the pegasus Scootaloo, the hero of the pony armies! He suddenly surged up and threw the female Pegasus off of himself. She cried out in surprise, and by the time she fell to the ground, Havoc was now the one above her.
He locked gazes with her, and though she couldn't see, smiled to himself.
"Well, I'd hate to disappoint!" The pegasus shouted, throwing a foreleg out and striking against the dark helmet. Though it didn't hurt him, it sent his head into a dizzy spell, which the rebel warrior used to unbalance him, and sweep his legs out from under him. Havoc crashed to the floor, grunting loudly, before he could stand he felt somepony touching the back of his helmet. Trying to dislodge it. He spun on the ground so he faced upwards and into the orange ponies eyes.
"Tututut..." He winked, his dazzling blue eyes made the pony pause for a second in surprise, like they all did! "Not on the first date!" Havoc joked, then proceeded to slam his protected head into the bare skull of the fighter.
The contact was loud, and it obviously did damage. The mare backed away crying out in pain, clutching her skull. Havoc slowly got to his hooves, relishing this fight, he enjoyed when one of the scum thought themselves worthy of a duel. It barely happened with the commander by his side all the time. When the mare looked back up, blood was trickling down her face into her eye from the deep cut just above it. "Hmmm, red suites you dear!" He jibed, enraging the mare even more, she rushed towards him, swiping hard. He easily ducked under it, and with exquisite timing, he rammed his foreleg's knee deep into the mare's chest.
With a pained grunt, she fell limp on his leg. He relaxed, and let her drop to the floor. Pathetic! The hero of the rebels, defeated so easily, with no use of his magic or anything! What could he expect, from a mere pony! He walked away, making some space between him and the groaning opponent. He could at least practise a simple fire spell, he needed to keep his magic going a little, at least. He turned to face her once again, his eyes beginning to glow a red hue, his irises changed to a deep red, and heat began to brew within them. All it will take is one shot!
He heard hooves, he glanced away for a moment to see the commander returning, finally realising what had happened up on the hill. With a smirk he returned concentration to his prey, at least he had been able to have a little fun today! His spell was ready to fire, he scanned her body, taking in the sword cutiemark, the short jagged tail and her unkempt spiky mane. Where to fire? So many places would hurt beyond belief, but each was as appealing as the last!
"LORD HAVOC!" The commander shouted, worry in her voice. 'Oh what now!' Havoc thought, annoyed at his fun being spoiled. "BEHIND YOU!" His attitude switched immediately, he turned and fired the spell into the air, the second his attention had been brought to it, he recognised the telltale sounds of the rebel leader. The red flame spurted into life just before his eyes, and streamed into the air, raging and crackling hungrily, determined to take the life of its target. It caught nothing, Havoc swore, and focused, staring through the red flame, trying to spot her.
With a deafening boom, a hole was punched through the wall of flame, and a single pegasus shot out of it like a bullet. "Damn!" Havoc growled, ducking quickly to avoid being struck. Only once she passed well over him did he realise what was happening. "Stop her!" He cried, springing back to his hooves to see the Rainbow mare streaking towards the downed Scootaloo. The Leviathans obeyed, and galloped towards the leader, but were cut down immediately by her as she swung two blades attached to her shins. The dark creatures exploded into plumes of fire and smoke. Leaving nothing to stop the speeding pegasus.
She scooped up the unconscious mare, and streaked off into the distance. "NOOOOO!" Havoc screamed in anger, rushing to the end of the hill watching his prey escape! His warped voice distorting even more in his rage. He slammed his hooves to the ground with such force, the earth beneath them cracked slightly. He glared at the fast vanishing pegasi, how had he failed?! Not only in his mission, but his reputation! He had allowed somepony to live, what good was it to be the most feared general of an entire army, if he allowed himself to slip up and let the most important figures in the rival army live! He felt sick with himself.
"M-my lord?" Asked the commander, slowly making her way towards the furious general. "A-re you alright?"
"Yes! Of course I am, no little worm like her could harm me!" Havoc spat lividly. He turned to his second in command, fury burning deep within his eyes. "Now if you hadn't rushed off to gain some glory for yourself, we would have had her!" The commander's eyes widened, both with surprise and fear, knowing that Havoc's rage could easily mean her end.
"M-my lord... T-the great and powerful Trixie only seeks to obey-"
"ENOUGH!" Havoc shouted to the wispy maned mare, storming past her, headed towards the chariot that would take them back home. "We must return, before his majesty grows tired of waiting."
"B-but..." Stammered Trixie, sweat beading fast across her brow. "...we failed..." Havoc's eyes focused on the distant spires of the capital in the mountains. His heart was heavy with something he only experienced when dealing with the king... fear.
The throne room was as dark as ever, it's many boarded up windows only allowed for the faintest gleams of light to emit into the large hall. Havoc's hoof steps echoed ominously around him as he made the long trip towards the throne. Tall, slim and black, it's cushions were pure red, some say dyed by the blood of the king's many enemies. Behind it lay the only bare window, it was stained glass, and depicted six ponies surrounded by magic, attacking a slim and twisted creature.
That very creature stood before it, his eagle hand placed gently on the head of his throne, and his eyes gazing out over the land. Havoc reached his respectful distance, and stood still, awaiting his king's first words.
Silence was rife for what felt like an hour, but Havoc dared not move, now here, he must show the utmost respect, or would be punished like a thousand combatants had before him. Finally, the king spoke, his voice was deep and low, yet it carried across the room as though he shouted it. Such was the power of the Draconequus king. "The town?" He asked, with nothing as much as an acknowledgment of his general's presence, still staring out the window.
"Destroyed my king!" Havoc reported.
"And the girl? 'The hero of Equestria?' He asked, scoffing at the name the ponies had given their hero. He glanced over his shoulder, and in the gloomy light his mismatched red eyes gleamed dreadfully.
"E-e..." Havoc mumbled, freezing in a single moment of fear.
"Yes?" Discord prompted, his bored tone far more terrifying than any scream, yell or shout.
"Escaped... my king."
"Oh..." the chimera exclaimed quietly, genuine surprise in his voice, returning to gaze at the land before the castle. "Very well..." There was silence, Havoc dreaded what may come at the end of it, so he hoped it would never end.
"That will be all General." The king suddenly said coldly. Making the masked stallion gasp with relief. He turned and left the gloomy throne room without a second glance back, breaking into a slight canter as he escaped into the hallway, and retreated to his chambers.
His room was decorated with golden curtains, which the sun shone through and cast the eerie colour over everything making it all look unbelievably more valuable. A queen size bed lay in the centre of the room, as did several desks and wardrobes. Upon one of these desks lay a bust, it was of a pony's head, blank, without a face, it merely resembled the shape of the skull. The ceiling was high, rivalling the size of many of the halls that spanned throughout the castle. It was a room fit for only the highest possible ranked officials.
Havoc reached the door of his room, panting with relief, his body felt light after such fear and adrenaline had gripped him so tightly. He felt the need to celebrate, the fact that he lived another day after such an abysmal failure. He pushed open the large oak door, the hinges creaked slightly as he did, and the noise echoed out across the open room. Unlike the echoes of the throne room downstairs, these noises where familiar to him, they helped him feel at home.
He came in and turned to shut the door, as the wooden panel closed, he heard movement behind him. "You're alive Trixie sees." Came a cold female voice from the direction of the centre of the room. Havoc turned to see the speaker, Commander Trixie, sat at the end of the bed waiting.
"As much as anypony else." Havoc said, his warped voice soft and confident. He walked slowly across the room, headed to the desk with the bust left on it. He reached up with one hoof, and tapped a spot in the back of his helmet, for a moment nothing, then a sudden click, and a whir, and the back of the helmet opened with his magic forcing the back apart. He reached the bust just as his head came free.
Reaching up with his other hoof, he continued to speak. "So what exactly are you-" The helmet came free of his skull, and he pulled it away from his head, as it came away, his voice changed from that deep distorted voice, to a smooth and calm one as the magic of the helmet ebbed away. "-doing here commander?" He stretched his neck after being inside the helmet for so long, shaking his head, letting his highlighted dark blue mane flow out once again.
Trixie watched him for a moment, taking in the firm body, the strong shoulders, the attractive face and shocking blue eyes. "Trixie had to ensure her own protection." She said slowly. Havoc raised an eyebrow,
"Oh really? How is being in my chambers going to do that?"
"Well..." Trixie said slowly, getting up and walking the short distance between them. She reached up and began adjusting the collar of his shirt. "Her lord was so angry before, Trixie feared she would be considered..." She leant in, stroking down his large bulking chest. "Expendable." She whispered, leaning into his ear. Havoc watched her as she stroked his chest, she leant back to look him in the face. There was a pause, and the Havoc threw himself upon her.
They fell against the bed, and Trixie responded with just as much energy as her lord. The two kissed, slowly pushing themselves further onto the large bed instead of just lying on the side. Trixie took the red tie around Havocs neck with her magic, and with a breathless cry, she tugged it off over his head. As the tie moved, it pulled at Havoc's throat pulling him away from Trixie for a moment, but as soon as it was whipped off, he delved his muzzle deep into her neck, kissing and caressing her collarbone as she began to unbutton his jacket.
The older mare let out a little moan of pleasure, savouring the moment she was having with her lord. On the battlefield, they were general and commander, but in here, in this room, on this bed they were equals. Trixie tore off Havoc's jacket, casting it aside, and before starting on the buttons of his pure white shirt, flipped her weight, sending Havoc rolling to one side. She flung herself over him, planting her haunches over his waist. She began to undo his buttons from above, when suddenly the creak of the door hinges echoed out over their passionate cries.
"Oh, Havoc you're...entertaining, I'll come back later." The mare began to leave the room, but was stopped by Havoc's call.
"Mother!" He reached up, taking hold of Trixie and pushing her off of him, to her great annoyance. He pulled himself off of the bed, and re-did his shirt while walking over to his embarrassed looking mother. "Is everything all right mother?" He asked, concerned that there was a reason for her visit.
"No, no it's fine... I just heard that things didn't go well today, I wanted to see if you were ok..." She looked over at the blue mare, still sat on the bed, surrounded by discarded clothes. "And it seems you are..." She continued, a little unhappily when looking at the commander.
"Your majesty." Trixie said robotically, pulling herself off of the bed and bowing to the wife of the king., no genuine respect showed in her cold hateful eyes.
"Please... I've said before, just call me by my name." the queen asked, finally stopping in front of the other mare.
"Very well... Pinkie." She said, repeating the greeting with yet another bow. Pinkie bowed her head in response, her face showing nothing but misery. Her long mane stretched to the ground, just barely missing the floor as her head tilted down. Trixie straightened up, daring a glance at Havoc, before saying something about her duties, and leaving in a rush. The queen wasn't that sad to see her go.
"You know havoc..." the pink mare began, coming over to a chair beside one of the desks and seating daintily on the edge of it. "You should really find a mare your own age..." She looked off towards the door the blue mare had left through, a hint of distain flickering across her usually blank and miserable face.
"Haha, I would mother," Havoc laughed, drawing a chair close to the pink pony. "If there were any within the castle that weren't in the dungeon!" He laughed as he took his seat. His mother seemed to wince at his humour, Havoc grimaced. "Mother I'm sorry I was trying to..."
"Trying to make me laugh I know..." Pinkie said sadly, looking up into Havoc's eyes, identical to her own. She gave a weak smile, which Havoc returned happily. "But I think we both know, my laughing days are long behind me."
Though always sombre and miserable, Havoc enjoyed speaking to his mother, it was the only part of his life that wasn't about war, other than his nights with Trixie. Havoc noticed a new mark on her foreleg, large, swelling and purple. He quickly investigated it. "Mother! What happened?" He took hold gently, stopping as his mother winced, and resumed again far more carefully.
"I-I tripped and fell, dropping your father's drink..." Pinkie said coldly, as though it was nothing.
"Then how did you get this from falling?" He froze, realising. "Again?" He asked, pinkie closed her eyes fighting back tears and biting her lip. She nodded.
Havoc took a hold of his mother, holding her close. He hated when his father took to striking his mother, but of course being the king he could do what he wished. That meant all that could be done was to have the queen bare through the pain. Sometimes she did it easily, other times it proved too much for her. This was one of those times, the times where she began to cry. Havoc felt his mother wailing into his shoulder, and his heart sagged. He wished he could make it better somehow, find a way to make her feel happy again, like in her stories of her youth.
Her wailing echoed out around the large round room, bouncing of the walls, surrounding Havoc in his mothers sorrow. Slowly, through the tears, he heard her say something. "I-I-I wish I never... N-never... I wish I was home! I want t-to be back in Ponyville, with Twilight, and Rainbow and all the others!" Havoc knew those names, they were ponies from the rebellion. In fact he'd even seen the one called 'Rainbow' today, the rebellion's leader, and Twilight, Twilight Sparkle the master strategist, with loyalty to the imprisoned princesses! They had all been together once, friends, allies, and then his mother had turned her back on them for the Discordian army.
He had never mentioned the subject before, but it had been a while since he had last had the chance to, now he was nineteen, he deserved to understand. "M-mother?" He asked, and the pink mare's sobs grew quieter. "Why... did you join father in the first place? Y-you always speak of your friends so caringly, why did you leave them?" Pinkie's sobs continued for a moment, then they slowly ebbed. With a loud sniff, she pulled herself up from her son and looked him in the eye.
"When... your father," She said the last two words with obvious loathing. "Took over, me and my friends... we went into hiding. Tried to think of what we could do. Eventually..." She seemed to say someponies name, but some for some unknown reason she bit her tongue, stopping her from finishing. "Somepony decided we needed to fight, so we started trying to find ponies who would." She seemed to be losing herself in her memories, going deeper and deeper seemed to num her misery, and for the first time he could remember. Havoc saw his mother smile. Her voice seemed to go up a tone, almost happy while reminiscing. "We did pretty good, we got a large group of ponies to come and fight, and we started trying to take back Equestria."
Havoc flinched at the forbidden name, anypony who had said it before, had been carted off for execution, or worse, fed to the Leviathans. But he did not stop his mother. "We started winning some fights, but we lost a lot of ponies." Her ears drooped and her face fell as she remembered the bodies. "Then... I started dreaming..." Pinkie's tone began to return to her usual miserable voice.
"Of him... your father..." her eye twitched slightly. "He... told me things... horrible things... he told me what he'd do to them, my friends if I didn't end them myself... I-I-" tears began to well up again. Had she ever said any of this anypony before him? Havoc wondered. "I... couldn't do it... I had to help them... so... so I left them..." Havoc watched as she accepted what she had done. "I'd rather let them think I was a traitor, than for me to ever hurt them myself!" As her tail came to an almost sarcastic expression crossed her face.
"And for me seeing sense, and coming to the right side, I was gifted with the reward of being the king's play thing!" She sounded as though she hated herself.
"D-do you wish you'd never left?" Havoc asked slowly. There was silence for a moment, then,
"No, I knew I wouldn't have been able to fight him for long. Leaving was the best thing I could do for my friends." She then looked to Havoc, propping his chin up. "Besides, if I hadn't, I'd have never had you!" Havoc smiled at her, glad that he wasn't one of her regrets, but then he had to ask.
"But how, how can you love me, knowing I'm hurting your friends? Knowing I'm part of my father?" It was something he had always wondered, he had never regretted killing ponies, it was his duty and his life, but he hated what the news of his successes did to his mother, she was one of the few ponies he cared for.
"Because silly!" He dared to glance into her large round blue eyes, so like his own. "You're a part of me too!" Havoc smiled, but was interrupted by a knocking on his door. He knew this meant that whoever was on the other side didn't know his face, only a select few came into the room without knocking. He jumped to his helmet ramming it onto his head hastily. His mother called out, knowing the magic of the helmet's voice wouldn't work straight away. "What is it?" She cried, trying to sound an queen of authority. A dark neigh came from the other side of the door, a Leviathan.
"Havoc... needed... by king." whispered a demonic voice, sounding like a thousand souls screaming out for help all at once.
"I'll be right there!" Havoc shouted, the mask taking hold and altering his voice once again, he quickly re-dressed, and with a quick glance to his mother from behind the helmet, Havoc rushed to the throne room. Unsure why he was being summoned once more.
Discord now sat in his throne, lounging across it lazily, inspecting a goblet of gold filled with wine. Havoc arrived, trotting at pace to get to his king quickly, when he came halfway across the hall, the king said drolly. "Door!" Havoc turned, and with his magic, closed the throne room door with an echoing slam. "Good." Discord purred letting the goblet go, it hung in the air perfectly still, and the king twisted into a sitting position on his grand chair.
"So besides your failure, did anything else of interest happen today?" He suddenly seemed more intrigued than he had before. Havoc wasn't sure why. He reached up to take off his helmet, but froze when his king held up a hand. "Keep the mask on please boy." Havoc nodded.
"Yes father." Then straightened, and answered the question asked of him. "Nothing of interest sire, only an appearance by their leader as well as the target." He stopped for a moment then began hesitantly. "If his majesty wishes entertainment, may I suggest he returned to the battlefield someday? You would find that most-"
"Then what point would I have for you?" The draconequus asked coldly, staring straight into his general's eyes. Havoc gulped.
"Exactly." He twisted again and lounged the opposite way. "Maybe one day I'll return to the fight, but only when the mood takes me." He pulled something invisible from the air, then suddenly, a grape popped into existence in his grasp. He threw it into his mouth and bit hard, the juice squirted out, and a little escaped his mouth.
"Until then, the battlefield belongs to you... and Mrs Trixie..." His eyes glinted as he bobbed his eyebrows up and down at his general. The look made Havoc squirm uncomfortably, usually when his father was this talkative and fun making, somepony was about to die. "You two seem quite close..." The king continued, "Any grandchildren coming my way I should know of?"
"No father!" Havoc winced, stupid slip up, just because the king spoke to him as family, didn't mean he could do the same. Discord arched an eyebrow. "No sire!" the stallion corrected quickly. The chimera shrugged, and slithered off the arm of his throne, he snaked behind it, then stood straight, pacing around it holding its head tenderly.
"Very well, have your fun with the girl. After all I of all people can't stop you, I've had more than my fare share.
The comment made Havoc angry, especially with what his mother had just told him. Did his father know he'd finally been told, or was it a cheap shot at the pony who he called his supposed 'wife?' With his stomach burning slightly, he took a calming breath then asked.
"Like her majesty? Like my mother?" The king stopped pacing, and looked straight at the stallion before him. He gazed at him with no expression at all for a moment, then it burst into joy.
"Why yes! I do believe you're finally getting the hang of this!" The comment made Havoc see red, how dare he! After everything the queen had sacrificed, after every dark thing the king had done, the least he could do was leave her some respect! Yet he still said nothing, trying to calm him down, then the king spoke coldly, almost in a challenging tone
"No sire!" Havoc said in what he hoped sounded like a normal voice with the distortions of the helmet.
"You could have fooled me..." Slowly, without breaking contact with Havoc's eyes, he pointed to his own. Havoc realised what he meant, he breathed deeply, trying to calm his mind. Soon the red haze passed, and with it, the draconequus like eyes he had obviously formed faded as well.
"Is there anything else my king?" Havoc asked again, calmer than his previous tone.
"No Havoc, that is all." The king said, all traces of hi interest in the stallion gone in the instant of that stupid loss of temper. He turned back to the throne and dropped into it, his tail flicked up and coiled around the suspended goblet, pulling it to his lips for him to sip from.
Havoc turned back and headed down the hall for the second time, opening the doors with his magic as he walked. He reached them and as he left, he began to close them behind him. But just before they closed completely, he stopped them, and gazed back into the hall. The king stared the long way down at him, even so far away the sight of him was terrifying. Using his magic to combat the helmet, Havoc spoke. This time in his own voice, unaltered and un-warped. "Father?" The chimera grunted to show he was listening. "Did you ever love my mother? You speak as though you never did..." The king waited a moment, apparently contemplating the worth of his answer.
"No. I never did. She was only the weakest of my enemies, all the other elements of harmony would have failed as traitors. 'Laughter' was the only one that didn't require some sense of loyalty, meaning if pushed enough, she would crack." Havoc felt cold, unbelieving at the words his father was saying, he knew they didn't get along, but as a child he'd hoped somewhere deep down he loved her.
"I saw an opening, and I took it." The king shouted to his general. "You should remember that, it may save you some day!" And with that Havoc left the throne room, and retired to bed. Discord watched him leave, his lips curling into a dreadful sneer. "Is it me, or did that tone start to sound very doubtful of me?" He asked the seemingly empty throne room.
"Yes your majesty!" agreed a voice from the shadows.
"We can't have that now can we..." Discord purred.
"No my king!"
"You know what to do, he's done well, but he's starting to doubt, so there's no more need of him." From within the shadows came a bright blue hoof, followed by a wispy silvery mane.
"Yes your majesty, Trixie will tend to it."
A restless night, odd dreams of fighting, purple maned pegasi escaping his clutches, crying mothers, and hateful fathers. The entire mix screamed inside his skull, begging to be let loose. Havoc awakes with a cry, his helmet still on his head. He wonders why, then remembers coming back to his room and collapsing with exhaustion.
He reaches up to take it off, then glimpses something out of the corner of his sight. Before he can inspect it, he feels several hooves grab hold of him. He struggles in surprise, yet they don't relent. They pick him up, and carry him, from his bed, from his room, towards the throne room once more. He tries to use his magic, yet something seems to take a hold of his throat whenever he does, stopping the flow of energy.
Soon, he sees the bordered up windows, smells the burning of Leviathans, and hears the tears of a mare nearby. He's thrown unceremoniously to the ground, at the steps of the throne, he looks up to see his father. He stands tall, looking down with nothing but disgust in his eyes. Havoc looks left, and sees Trixie, with the same expression on her face. Havoc looks right, and sees his mother, tears in her eyes as she watches her child manhandled so terribly. "WHAT IS THIS?!" Havoc yells, angry at the treatment he is receiving!
"What is this?" the king repeats coolly. "This is discipline." Havoc realises in an instant this is his father's doing! "Commander Trixie, explain what happened today on your mission." Discord ordered drolly, turning to lounge in his throne once more.
Havoc watched out from behind the mask, staring at Trixie, his lover, the one who only hours ago he had kissed and almost gone further with. Trixie stared back with complete indifference, staring straight back at Havoc she began to report. "When ordered to stop a number of escaping Pegasi from the town, Trixie took the general's guard to act on said orders." Was she going to do what he thought she was. Judging by his mother's growing tears, she was.
"Once the task was dealt with, Trixie returned to protect the general. Upon arrival, Trixie saw him fail to kill the target 'Scootalloo' and even allowed the leader of the enemy forces to slip through his grip and save said target, not only failing in his task, but also failing in his duty to end the life of the enemy commander!" Havoc's head snapped to his father, he tried to stand, to protest, but he felt two burning hot hooves push him back down. He felt his clothes singing away at his shoulders, so he relaxed once again, the hooves retracted... for now. Havoc looked into his father's mismatched eyes, silently begging him not to say what he knew was coming.
"As well as this failure..." Discord said, flopping his lion paw to one side to emphasise yet another thing the general had done wrong. "You also raised your voice, and even threatened the king himself." Havoc's mouth fell open, unseen by anypony else behind the mask, his mouth flapped, unable to speak. "You grew angry, and even gathered hostile magic in the presence of your king." Discord looked to his queen, who stared back. Her mouth opened and shaped the words, 'Please no.' "An offense..." The king continued, never breaking eye contact with the pink mare. "Punishable by exile." Pinkie wept.
Though it sounded better than death, it truly wasn't. In Discordia, the punishment of exile included the erasing of one's memories to ensure no secrets could be leaked to an enemy, and being dumped outside the Everfree forest. The hunting grounds of the Leviathans. With no memory, or warning of where they were, most ponies never survived within a day of exile! Havoc knew there was only one chance of survival. He tried to shuffle forwards, but was pushed down by the creatures once again, he managed to get his hind leg out from under him, allowing for when they finally released him again, he could push himself as far forward as possible!
He came to rest mere inches from the king's feet. He looked up, his father watched a dreadful sneer across his face, he obviously had found the entertainment he had been looking for! "My king!" Havoc cried, his terrified tone masked by the spell of the helmet. "I only spoke out of place as your son! As a general I remain completely faithful, I still swear on my life I will work to destroy any who oppose you! To ensure Discordia rules for a millennia!" He bowed his head low, panting with fear, hoping his own father would understand... would take pity on his only son.
From above, he heard his father take a breath, then speak. "My verdict..." Havoc heard his mother take a breath as well praying for the kindness of the king. "Is guilty," Havoc's heart plummeted, his eyes grew wide in shock. His own father! "I sentence you to exile, may the Leviathans take pity on you and end it quickly." His sentence was punctuated by the horrified scream of Pinkie, who fell to her knees, tears streaming from her eyes. Havoc looked to her, tried to smile at her, tried to comfort her, but with the helmet on, all she could see were his eyes, and he knew his eyes would betray his true feelings, show his fear, his misery, his betrayal by his own father.
He tried to reach out to her, to crawl to her and reassure her with his voice, warped as it may be. As he moved however, the flaming hooves grabbed hold of him, they burned and singed his flesh, the pain was white hot. He cried out in pain, which sounded like an angry yell as it escaped the helmet he wore. Through the veil of pain, he watched somepony, blue and beautiful, move ahead of him, standing between him and his mother. "Shall Trixie do it my king? Or do you wish to do yourself?" Trixie said, mirth in every word she spoke, Havoc heard her as though beyond a sea of suffering. He could still hear his mother's wailing cries.
"PLEASE!!! PLEASE! FORGIVE HIM! PLEEAAASE!" It broke his heart to hear her so sad. The pain faded, not that it wasn't there, just the pain was becoming natural, the same heat in the same spot seemed to become slightly bearable, allowing him to see clearly again. He saw his father glance his way as though distracted by something far more important.
"Oh, no, Go ahead my dear."
"NOOOOOOO!!!!" Pinkie cried again, she rushed forwards towards her son, trieing to save him. She was down on the floor in seconds. The draconequus towering over her, his had held after a swipe at her face. Havoc stared, taking in everything he could in the hope that the more information he held, the easier it would be to fight the mind wipe spell! Trixie leant in, her horn glowing bright blue. His father smiled at him and wiggled his fingers at him in a sarcastic goodbye. His mother lay there, crying and screaming. Her face was the last thing Havoc saw, before it all went black.
The stallion awoke to the sounds of bats screeching above him. He opened his eyes, and saw them, like fluttering black pieces of paper, they spiralled and barrelled through the air haphazardly, entrancing him. They flew between the trees, trees? Was he in some kind of wood? Or forest?
"Where... am... I?" He thought to himself groggily. He tried to move, but his shoulders screamed at him in pain. He glanced down and saw terrible welts and burn marks from beneath the scorched suite he was wearing. A suit? Why was he wearing a suit? He cast his mind backwards, trying to remember anything before waking up. His mind worked hard, but all that came to him was a blank canvas of his mind. What exactly was going on? Why had he awoken in the middle of a forest, wearing a suit, with no memory of anything before?
Gingerly, he rose from the floor, ensuring he didn't agitate his injuries. As he stood, he realised he had a weight on his head. He tried to turn his head, but when he did, the weight moved with it. It was now he realised his peripheral vision was slightly impaired, the corners of his eyes were completely doused in black shadow.
He reached up to his head and found it was encased in something metal. He pulled hard, but it wouldn't come off. Oh no! He was going to suffocate in this thing surely! He panicked, he tugged harder, still it didn't yield. He readjusted his hooves, angling them just at the back of his head, and tugged again. He thought he felt it budge, he tugged again, willing the stubborn thing to come away! "Get..." He grunted, he heard a click. "OFF!" He shouted, suddenly a whirring noise burst into life. The back of the head cage slackened, he relaxed happily, waiting it to loosen completely, it seemed to be on some form of mechanism.
Once loose, the stallion reached up and pulled far more gently, the thing came loose easily. He breathed a sigh of relief as the cold night air blew against his face. Much better, he held the thing in his hooves limply, letting the wind cool his skin after such vigorous exercise pulling the prison off of his skull. Suddenly from behind him came a loud neigh that made the stallion jump out of his wits. The thing from his head fell from his grasp and flew into the gloomy shadows of the trees surrounding him. He reached out trying to grab it, but his hoof came just too short. He cursed, knowing that had been his best bet at remembering what the hell had happened to him.
Annoyed, he turned to discern the source of the noise that had startled him. He opened his mouth to address whatever it was, then froze. Only a few feet away stood two creatures, They looked like horses, but far more terrifying. Their bodies seemed to be made of the thickest shadows and their mane's and tails consisted of deep red fire. They stared at him with milky blank eyes, eyes that terrified the life out of the stallion.
For a moment they only stared, then with no warning the one to the left reared back, neighing loudly. The other tossed it's head back in reply, and the two began to charge towards the terrified and confused stallion. Letting out a bewildered cry, the stallion turned tail and began to run.
The trees were thick and hard to get through, but he surged forward, shear fear and adrenaline urging him on. The pursuing creatures noises were all the motivation he needed.
The branches tugged and tore at his fur, the once grand clothes that hugged his body were nearly nothing more than tattered strips of material now
The mare's hooves were beginning to hurt him, digging deep into his soft tissue. He squirmed uncomfortably, glaring up at the pony refusing to release him. "There!" He shouted angrily. "I don't know who I am, or why the hell I ended up here, but what I do know is that you're hurting me!" He saw the orange face's anger flicker for a second. Was there a chance she believed him? Why should there be? He'd never believe a stupid story like this! An amnesia ridden stallion running blindly through the forest... that's got to be some kind of cliché.
"Scoots, let him up." Said another female voice out of sight. This one was deeper, older. The orange pegasus immediately jumped off of the stallion, at which point he gave a grateful gasp of air now his attacker was off of his chest! For a moment he lay there, than slowly got sat up, now taking in the view around him. Trees surrounded him, thick and tall; they blocked any view to the outside of the enormous clearing. He glanced up and saw small rope bridges, spanning the space from tree to tree. Why did they need them? That's when he noticed several opening within the trees' bodies. Small windows built into the bark, showing the trees to be hollow inside. From here the stallion could only glance through one. Inside he saw a few mares, staring back out at him, worry on their faces.
"Welcome t' Newponyville stranger." Said that same deeper female voice, he pulled his gaze from the terrified ponies inside their home, and looked to his right. Only a few feet away, and coming ever closer, was another orange pony. This one seemed to be an earth pony, though she could be a unicorn, it was hard to tell due to the large brown Stetson hat she was wearing. Her mane was long and blonde, bunched at the end making one long pony tail.
"T-thanks..." The stallion said slowly, still sat on the soft grassy floor, his gaze never left the approaching mare. He wasn't sure why, but the inside of his head span wildly with calculations and assessments. Her legs: They were large and strong, meaning an attack from her could end him in seconds. Her shins: They boar two blades attached to bracelets on her forelegs, sharp, deadly, major threat! He shook his head trying to clear the grim thoughts. Why was he thinking if being attacked? Why was he assessing this mare as though she were an enemy? She'd just gotten the other mare who HAD attacked him, to get off!
She reached him, holding out a hoof to help him up. He took it, his back gave a terrible crack as he got up. He winced but carried on regardless.
"Applejack, I-" The orange pegasus began angrily to this new mare.
"You know the deal Scoots, any survivors go t' Rainbow, then they're your responsibility after." Said the hat wearing pony simply, the stallion noted that she had a thick southern accent, which while he was terrified by the sheer fact of not understanding anything that was happening to him, helped to smile slightly in spite of the situation. The apparent 'Scoots' seemed annoyed, she opened her mouth her eyes glinting with fire, but she obviously thought better of it and closed it once again. "Don' suppose you know if anypony else is out there?" The older mare asked. The stallion grimaced with regret.
"Sorry no. All I saw were... those... things!" He shuddered at remembering the deadly fire creatures, it felt as though their gaunt lifeless eyes were still staring at him, it was a cold, haunting sensation.
"It's a'right darlin'." The country pony said softly, he sultry tone made the stallion's nerves calm slightly. "Come with me." She said simply, then turned and headed towards one of the largest trees that surrounded them. The stallion glanced backwards, towards the way he had come. There was no way to get back up that slope, so he was trapped here. He turned back, and out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed the orange pegasus staring at him. He looked her in the eye, her eyebrow was raised questioningly, as though she knew what the stallion had been thinking. He gave a shaky smile to her, then quickly rushed after the departing earth pony, leaving 'Scoots' to stare after him, her brow furrowing with suspicion.
The two of them reached the large tree, and as they did, the stallion craned his neck back in amazement. It was so tall! So beautiful!
"Impressive huh?" The mare laughed at his gaping mouth. "We like t' think we're pretty good with ol' mother nature." She looked up as well, holding her hat to ensure it stayed on. "I'm pretty good with growing thin's mahself." She turned her head and looked the stallion up and down. "Maybe I can show you the orchard we got later, if Rainbow says you can stay."
"Stay?!" The stallion asked shocked. His head snapped to the orange pony, staring in disbelief. "W-why would I stay? That pony just tried to kill me!" He gestured furiously back the way they had come, but that only made the hat wearing pony laugh.
"That's just Scootaloo, she's kind of our guard, she makes sure nopony can get in and hurt any of us." The stallion stared incredulously.
"You're talking like you're an army or something." The pony arched an eyebrow at him, she lifted her foreleg, glinting the light off of the metal of the blade and into his eyes.
"That's cos we are sugar cube..." She said grimly, turning away, her expression suddenly devoid of the kindness that it had held before. She began to walk towards a small archway in the base of the tree, large enough for a pony to pass through. The stallion gulped, an all new chill running up his spine at her dark words and tone, then followed slowly.
"So," The mare began as they came into the surprisingly well lit room within the tree. "I don't recon you will, but do you remember anything? Like your name or anythin'?" The two began to head up a staircase that spiralled around the hollowed out tree, going ever higher into the hollow out spire.
"No." The stallion said slowly, watching his step as they ascended ever too conscious that there was no banister, and they were getting very high up quickly. "Last thing I remember is waking up to those..." He wasn't sure what to call them, monsters seemed like far too tame a term.
"Leviathans." The pony called back as they passed a door set against the steps. "That's what they're called." The stallion stared into the small window set into the door. Inside sat a group of small fillys and colts listening to yellow pony with a red mane and a pink bow set into it. She pointed to a picture on her board, and all the little ones seemed to shy away in fear. As the angle of perception changed, the stallion saw the image as he passed out of sight. A creature, long and slender, with horns, wings and a lizard like tail.
He looked back to the steps, but frowned as he did. What was that thing? A monster from a story? He shook his head and tried to focus on what was happening. "Speaking of what things are called..." He began, addressing the yellow tail just ahead of his face. "What do I call you?"
"Applejack." The mare said as she began to slow. The stallion leant to the side and saw that the staircase lead to a single door, blocking the steps. It seemed obvious that was where they were headed.
"Applejack..." He murmured quietly, making sure he remembered it.
"Yeah, that's right." She said, flashing him a warm smile before pushing open the door.
"After yesterday, I don't see how we could recover, we lost a lot of ponies, as well as a lot of support from locals after that town was destroyed."
"So we have no way of bouncing back? Come on Twilight we've got to be able to somehow I-" The conversation died as the two speakers turned to the door as it opened at Applejack entered with her new guest.
"Applejack, what the hay do you think you're doing?" Shouted an infuriated looking cyan pony, her mane -Consisting of every colour of the rainbow- billowing out slightly with the wind coming from the open window. "Who the heck is this?!" She asked savagely. The stallion backed up slightly, unsure if he wanted another angry pegasus crushing his ribs.
"He fell through one of the Leviathan hatches, he can't remember anythin'... and he was wearin' this." She reached out and showed a shred of clothing. The stallion stared wildly, when had she picked that up? While they were walking? Or while she'd helped him up?
The shred of clothing seemed to have golden embroidery, twisting into the shape of something he couldn't be sure of. Whatever it was, the rainbow maned pony's eyes lit up in excitement. "Really?" She mused, slowly coming into the centre of the room. She stood just in front of a table, which seemed to have a map weighed down across it. On the other side of the table stood another mare, this one a unicorn with a purple coat, and an even darker purple mane. Though for now, he merely focused on the pegasus, who suddenly only had eyes for him.
"You don't remember anything?" She asked loudly. The stallion nodded, unable to bring his lips to move, he wasn't sure, but something seemed off about this pony, she seemed a little too excited by the news of his arrival. She walked over to Applejack and took the scrap of clothing, she then continued to him and thrust it under his nose. "Do you remember what this is?" He looked down and saw the golden emblem on the scrap of material. A golden claw, clenched tightly in a fist. He shook his head. The mare retracted her forehoof and walked over to the table. "Do you remember anything before you got here?" He shook his head again.
"Pardon Rainbow, but I all ready gave him a grillin' and he don't remember a thing. I say that fact's pretty much figured out." Piped up Applejack, who turned and flashed him another warm smile, trying to encourage his co-operation. This is our leader, Rainbow Dash." She gestured to the pegasus, though there was no need, with an appearance like hers, if he'd heard that name, he'd have obviously put two and two together. He gulped and gave another nervous nod.
"This." Rainbow began, spreading her forelegs out to the room. "Is the biggest hiding spot for the resistance against 'King'" She laboured the title dubiously. "Discord, and this." She held up the crest. "Is the seal of his court." She threw it on top of the map and turned and looked out of the window. Her expression was very difficult to read for the stallion, was she happy he was here, or angry?
"What seems to have happened to you is something the court calls exile." The purple pony began, stepping out from behind the table. She gave a smile, making him feel a little more comfortable, it seemed there were an equal amount of nice ponies here to the angry ones. Or maybe it was just the pegasi who were all moody. "My name is Twilight Sparkle. I'm kind of the person who comes up with the little details around here." Suddenly something clicked inside the stallion's mind.
"You're the strategist, ARRGGHHH!" He cried out as his skull seemed to burn white hot. He flung his hoof to his head just as Rainbow Dash whirled around, her mouth agape.
"No, don't fight that!" Twilight gasped, rushing to the pained stallion as he buckled to his knees. "That's a memory of your life, you obviously know about some of us." Soon the pain passed and the stallion got shakily back to his hooves. He still felt a warm hoof on his foreleg, he looked and saw Twilight smiling at him.
The stallion gave a rough cough, then a mumbled word of thanks. She beamed, and backed away, closer to the map again. "You're not the first exiled pony we've come across." She explained. At the sound of her words, the stallions heart skipped a beat in excitement! If that was true, than surely somepony who had been in the same situation would know who he was. But at the sight of his beaming smile, the purple unicorn's attitude seemed to melt into sadness.
"That's great! Where are they?" He asked, to which a resounding silence rang out in answer. A moment later, Rainbow Dash stepped forward.
"They're dead." She said simply. "Killed before we could get them here, by the Leviathans. You're the first pony we've gotten back here in one piece." She smirked, "And we didn't even know you were coming!"
The stallion's heart plummeted into darkness, nopony? That was terrible! Yes the loss of life was tragic, for one brief moment he had hoped he could have some answers. Nopony at all could tell him who he was? Who he had been before waking up in this darn forest? "O-oh..." He said glumly, looking to his hooves. After a moment of silent gazes from the mares in the room, the leader spoke.
"You're going to stay here." She explained simply, the stallion raised his head.
"You," She said, pointing to him. "Are going to stay here." She pointed to the floor. "We'll find you a place to crash, and you can recover. Then Twilight can see if we can pry open any of those memories of yours." Twilight nodded obediently to the rainbow leader. "Judging by what you were wearing, and your..." She looked him up and down with an appraising eye. "Decent build... You could very well be the break we're looking for, somepony who once had some pull with the Discord's forces!"
"And if I refuse?" The stallion asked stubbornly. He didn't like being referred to like a tool! He was a pony! Not something they could use to their advantage without his permission!
"Well we could always let you back out into the forest with the Leviathans." She said casually shrugging as she did so.
The stallion bit his lip, he didn't like the sound of that! He remembered their evil eyes once more and it made his fur stand on end! Then he remembered something else, the strength of that orange pegasus, how she had easily subdued him, and by what he had experienced while running, he was a purely capable stallion when it came to high stress situations. He remembered his analysis of Applejack behind him, her strong capable legs. The only memory that he held of this mare called Twilight. All their strengths outweighed his fear of the creatures beyond this seemingly protected clearing. If he wanted to survive against those things, these ponies would be the ones to help him do it!
With a sigh, he glared at the ground. "Fine." He said bitterly, bringing a smile to all three mare's faces.
"Well aint that plane wonderful!" Applejack whooped, coming up beside the stallion. "With those legs o' yours we can get some real good work done on the barricades, that is if you'd kindly help us?" The stallion grunted in agreement.
"And I'm really looking forward to learning about who you are!" Twilight smiled. "I have a few variations of memory spells that could possibly help you recover, but I'm not sure how strong Discord's spell on you is. So it may be best for you to get some rest over the next few days first. It could get tiring for you!" another agreeing grunt.
"Awesome!" Rainbow declared, turning away and returning to the map. "Thank you, and thank you Applejack for bringing him here! Have Scoot put him with Pip, he'll get him up to scratch on how we do things."
"Sure thin' boss!" Applejack said, saluting, then giving the pegasus a small wink.
"Hey!" The stallion shouted angrily, bringing the mare's conversation screeching to a halt. "I still have questions here!" He yelled, his teeth bared in complete frustration, didn't they understand how difficult this all was to take in? He breathed heavily glaring at the back of the pegasus's head. For a moment she stayed still, then the slightest turn of her head gave him a glimpse of her tender pink eyes, the only soft thing about her it seemed.
"YOU have questions?" She asked quietly, all of a sudden the air felt cold, as though a sudden switch had been flicked, or maybe it was the deep seated pain in her low voice. "You're a royalist, a banished one, but still a royalist. You're a pony, your one of the creatures who are almost being wiped out by Discord, and you expect me to answer anything you ask?" Twilight looked concerned.
"You betrayed your own kind." The pegasus continued coldly. The comment cut deep! A cold numbness set into the stallion's stomach, and a shiver ran up his spine. He... he couldn't be! There had to be a reason... if this king Discord was truly as terrible as these mares claimed, than surely he had a reason for wearing these clothes, symbolising his loyalties before his amnesia.
"I need to see what's going to happen to you." Rainbow continued coldly, still only just glancing back over her shoulder. "If you remember who you are, or Twilight finds out you're still loyal to him..." She nudged her head gently to the table. The stallion followed the gaze, and saw resting against it were two golden blades, long and deadly, the threat didn't even need finishing. "You're a risk..." The rainbow mare continued finally beginning to move again, she reached the map and rested her forehooves against its top like a pony who was unbelievably tired. "But you're a risk that needs taking, a chance to understand them, to beat them." She turned her head fully, glaring at the stallion. "So, you only get what I give you, until I'm sure I can trust you!" She returned her focus to the map. She began describing the movements of a particular group to the unicorn close by, pointing to a spot on the map.
The stallion felt a light hoof on his shoulder, he glanced to his left and saw Applejack giving him a half hearted smile. "Come on sugar cube." She turned and began to lead him out of the strategy room." She opened the door and passed back through it, as he followed suite he heard the leader shout one last thing to them.
"If somepony needs to call him or speak to him, they can call him rookie!" The door closed, leaving a ringing silence down the winding staircase.
"Nice friend you've got there!" The newly dubbed 'Rookie' seethed angrily. The country pony was already a reasonable distance away, but the sound of Rookie's voice carried far too easily.
"That's Rainbow these days I'm 'fraid." She said calmly.
"What the hell happened to make her such a pain?" He asked, beginning down the steps himself.
The orange pony either didn't hear, or far more likely just ignored him.
"C'mon, I'll give yah to Scoot, she'll help yah find where you're going."
A quick few minutes later, the orange country pony had taken Rookie from the large tree to the centre of the clearing once more. The smell of damp fallen leaves filled his nostrils as he walked, and he couldn't help but take in a deep breath as he walked. It felt amazing, the aroma filled his lungs and sent a warm tingling through his body. He closed his eyes in relief and sighed.
"Guessin' you didn' get much smell o' nature up in the 'capital.'" The final word was said with such loathing that Rookie opened his eyes. He saw Applejack still a few paces ahead, looking back at him.
"Uhhh... no... I guess I didn't." Rookie grumbled, silently agreeing that if it felt this good to breathe in his surroundings, he mustn't have had that much experience with the feeling. But there was a nagging suspicion.
"Actually..." He began, frowning as his mind fought hard to pull a single gem of memory from his murky mind. "I think... I did get some air at least..." Applejack frowned in genuine surprise.
"...Yeah." It was starting to come back, no actual details, no words or images, and out of the gloom of his amnesia it came... only a smell, a smell of burning. Rookie shuddered as it felt like the stench filled his nostrils, making his stomach squirm with displeasure. He brushed off the comment, and briskly headed on. "So where is it we're going again?" Applejack watched him pass, knowing he wasn't saying something. Then again the stallion had awoken in an almost impossible situation. She sighed with sadness, silently correcting herself. What once would have been an impossible situation, until Discord took over.
"Just keep on goin'." the orange mare said gesturing ahead with a flick of her head. Back towards where Rookie had entered the camp. Rookie did as asked, and continued towards the large clearing's centre. As he approached, out from behind a bush came two ponies. One a mare and the other a young stallion, both looked a similar age to Rookie himself, if not maybe a little older. Then he recognised the orange fur, ruffled wings and the angry cut just above her left eye.
"Well!" He cried happily, laughing sarcastically. "Little miss too uptight!" The pegasus looked up, as did the male pony, Rookie didn't recognise him. Scoot's expression darkened the instant she recognised the stallion.
"What the hay are YOU still doing here? Heading to a cell I hope!" Rookie opened his mouth to send back a barbed rebuttal but was cut short by Applejack -who seeing where this could go, and how quickly it could- hopped ahead of him and addressed the orange pegasus.
"Scoots, meet Rookie! Your new charge!" She cried happily.
"WHAT!?!" Scootaloo and Rookie yelled simultaneously, both staring in horror at the orange mare who merely smirked at their reactions.
"Rainbow's orders!" The mare said simply to Scoot, who glowered in annoyance, yet seemed to accept the situation as soon as the leader was brought up. "Get 'im learned right!" Applejack continued, to which Scootaloo nodded. "an' find 'im a place t' stay, somewhere near the boundary, may as well get t' know where he'll be workin'." Scootaloo gave another nod. At that, Applejack turned to Rookie, shot him a kind hearted smile and moved off in a new direction.
Rookie watched her go, now feeling slightly vulnerable. The only pony who had shown him some genuine kindness here was quickly vanishing from sight, leaving him with the ever angry looking Scootaloo. He turned to said mare, and gave a half smile. "Hey..." He said in the attempt of a kind greeting. The purple maned mare rolled her eyes at him and turned to address the stallion following her. Rookie took his appearance in: A cream coloured coat, dotted with a few bright brown patches. His mane matched the patches, if not a little darker, atop his head he wore a red bandanna, and a single small gold loop hung from his right ear, Rookie was reminded of old colt stories of pirates. He smirked, the odd apparel suited the stallion.
"Pip, I can't deal with this now!" Scootaloo said quickly, flashing Rookie an annoyed glance, she turned back and her face softened slightly. "You mind taking him to your tent, you've got a spare bed right?"
"Sure!" the stallion said happily, giving the largest smile that Rookie had seen since arriving as he glanced over. "Finally a stallion to talk to!" He laughed. Though nervous still, Rookie sent him a nervous smile.
"This isn't a house guest Pip!" Scootaloo shouted angrily to the stallion.
"Just relax Scoot!" the stallion laughed again, even his laugh sounded like an impression of a pirate. He began to move towards Rookie, as he passed Scootaloo who sighed in annoyance.
"The way you act, you'd think we weren't fighting a war..." The stallion ignored her with a quick shrug as he reached Rookie. Stretching out a scruffy furred hoof, he smiled and spoke in a kind voice.
"Name's Pipsqueak! Nice to meat yah!" Rookie took the hand and shook it apprehensively, not sure how he felt about this stallion's over the top joy.
"R-Rookie... nice to meet yah."
"Well that's a name from Rainbow if I ever heard one!" He laughed glancing back at the orange mare, who shook her head in incredulity before taking to the air with one push of her wings.
"Just get him to the tent!" She said flatly as she hovered away.
"No problem." Pip smiled to the departing pony, then Rookie saw his brow furrow. "And get that head checked out!" And scoot was gone.
The stallion sighed and turned to Rookie. "Never listens to me..." He said glumly looking at a large smudge of dirt on his hoof. With a quick flick of his hoof, he dislodged it and smiled. "Well come one 'Roomy!'" And with that he was off, walking briskly and purposefully. Rookie jumped at the fellow stallion's fast and sudden movement, with s start, he rushed to catch up, still looking around at the terrifyingly unknown place. As he caught up, he heard the stallion talking, and he guessed it must have been him he was addressing.
"The tent isn't exactly 'huge,' but it's ok, gets a little lonely living there on your own. But with all the work on the barricade and the boundary, most stallions stay up at the outposts." Rookie slowed as he reached the stallion side and began to match his pace. He was happy to stay quiet, but if he was meant to live with this pony, he should at least try to learn a little about him.
"So why exactly are you staying here?" He asked, not really bothered by what response he got, craning his head up at the many tall trees strung together by catwalks. "And why do you live in a tent and not those things?" He added, more interested in that answer. Pipsqueak shrugged. "Well my work's here, I'm part of the infantry. He gestured to his flank, inviting Rookie to look. He did, and there emblazoned against his bright fur was a golden hilted cutlass. Rookie raised his eyebrows and nodded, impressed, he thought it looked pretty cool. Pip laughed. "Always loved playing pirate! Didn't know that I'd be any actual good at it!" Rookie laughed along with him. He was quickly warming to the stallion.
"So? What you got?!" Pip asked, glancing back at Rookie's flank. He froze, staring at the spot just ahead of Rookie's tail.
"What?" Rookie frowned, stopping as well. He tilted his head to glance at his cutiemark. He didn't remember what it was, and it really hadn't come to mind to check after everything that had happened. As his eyes reached his flank, his jaw dropped, as Pip stated the painfully obvious.
"Uhhh... you don't have a cutiemark mate." Sure enough, on his flank there was nothing but dark fur. Rookie frowned, that was... odd. He glanced up at Pip who looked at him with a slightly surprised expression. "How old are you? I mean if you remember."
"Uhhh... I think- Wait!" Rookie exclaimed. "How do you know about-"
"Your memory? Scootaloo told me, she doesn't believe you." Pip explained casually, before shrugging and moving on. As he stepped away he continued to talk.
"I don't see why, we've come across other ponies with memory loss spells used on them." He glanced back and looked at the strong looking dark stallion. "Admittedly we've never got one back here alive, and definitely not a pony of... your persuasion." Rookie narrowed his eyes, unsure if he liked the stallion's tone.
"My 'persuasion?'" He challenged.
"Well..." Pip blushed slightly. "A Loyalist." Rookie's face hardened, he was getting sick of this!
"Everypony keeps calling me a loyalist! I don't even know what that means! Loyal to who? I can't be something I don't even understand!" Rookie shouted angrily, stopping dead and stomping a hoof in frustration. Pip raised his eyebows in surprise, he glanced ahead, then back to his follower.
"Hey, we're nearly at my tent, let's get there and then I'll explain everything you want to know, ok?" he encouraged happily. Rookie froze in surprise, he wasn't sure why, maybe it was because of his rude welcome from 'Scootaloo' but he hadn't really expected an explanation so easily.
"Really?" He asked in surprise.
"Of course, I can only guess what it must feel like not to remember what your life's been like." Pip said calmly. The relaxed nature of his voice seemed to float across the breeze, and reach Rookie and the rage he had felt moments ago, ebbed away. "The least I can do is fill you in on what's going on in the world. Who knows..." His ears perked up from the sides of his bandana, the ring jangled lightly at the sudden movement. "It may even bring some of your memories back!"
Rookie perked up as well, realising the stallion's logic had some possibilities. Maybe if he heard about the world, some idea of his place within it may come back to him. With excitement for the first time, he rushed ahead, running in the direction of several pointed tents not too far off. Pip laughed at the sudden show of emotion from the dark stallion, and cantered after him happily.
"So do you remember where you are?" Pip began. They were sat in a spacious tent, with two wooden benches on either side of a fire. The embers were small, and the occasional trail of smoked floated up and through the hole in the roof right above it. Rookie held a stick and stoked the fire absentmindedly while thinking. "I mean, like what country..."
"I-I want to say.......Discordia? Or something like that..." he said slowly, raking the dark shadows of his mind.
"Close!" Pip encouraged before correcting him. "You're in 'Discordance' people who live here are called 'Discordians' so I can see why you mixed it up." Rookie nodded slowly, showing it made sense. "Anything else? Where you lived? Who your parents are?" Nothing, the question brought nothing but depression as Rookie raked his brain and nothing came. He began to look around again, trying to distract himself before the depression really took hold. He glanced at the door to the tent, which was nothing more than an unfurled flap, in the centre of the material was an emblazoned sun bright and yellow.
"What is that?" Rookie asked, gesturing to the symbol. "Your banner?"
"Well, you seem to know something about warfare at least..." Pip said jokingly, but looked slightly worried by Rookie's knowledge of such things. "Well, it kind of is. It's what we fight under, but it was around long before us..." Rookie turned and raised an eyebrow, inviting Pip to explain. He exhaled slowly, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well... I've never met a pony who didn't know this... so... around 18 years ago, we weren't hiding in towns like this..." He flung a hoof out towards the door, gesturing to the unseen trees and houses. "I originally came from a town called Ponyville."
"Wait..." Rookie frowned, and Pip nodded, seeing the connection click in the other stallion's mind.
"Yep, we're in 'NewPonyville. This is what we made to try and recreate the old town." Rookie was still frowning, and soon Pip began to as well, unsure why he was still looked confused. "You ok?" Rookie stared back into the faint embers of the fire. He couldn't be sure why, or how, but the name seemed familiar, somehow the name 'Ponyville' sounded like a place he should know. Why?
Not a memory, more like a feeling that felt like a voice, female, sad and mournful, said the name. "I used to live in Ponyville, with my friends..." Rookie shook his head, and returned his attention to Pip.
"Keep going." After a moment, the cream stallion began again slowly, watching Rookie with a wary eye.
"Well, like I said, I used to live in Ponyville. A lot of ponies here came from there, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo-"
"Gee that sounds like a barrel of laughs!" Rookie laughed sarcastically, which brought a slightly crestfallen look to Pip's face.
"She isn't that bad you know... only a little high-strung these days."
"'High-strung?'" Rookie repeated sceptically, rubbing his still aching back from the orange pegasus's assault.
Out of the corner of his eye, Pip spotted movement outside of the tent door. So immersed in his moaning, Rookie didn't hear the soft hoof steps on the other side of the material. "I mean seriously!" Rookie complained. "I get security, but did she really have to hit me that hard?" He stroked his jaw where Scootaloo's elbow had struck him, wincing slightly from the still sore spot. Pip opened his mouth to warn the groaning stallion, but before he could, the worst possible thing was said by the dark stallion. "And don't even get me started on that uptight pegasus you guys call a leader!" In an instantaneous blur of orange and purple, the door billowed open and Rookie was sent into the solid post holding up the tent.
"Don't you dare insult Rainbow!" Roared an infuriated Scootaloo. "Who are you to judge her? You've been living it up with all the other traitors at the capital, while she's had to deal with battle after battle, friend after friend dying!" She was panting hard, glaring at Rookie with nothing short of loathing. Rookie stood there, pushed up against the post by his neck, his eyebrows somewhere near the top of his skull in surprise.
"Uhh... Scoot?" Said a slightly nervous Pip as he rose from his seat. Rookie squirmed as he felt his chest growing tighter for lack of air in his lungs. "Let him go." the bandana wearing stallion commanded, a lot more confident in his second sentence now seeing the pain on Rookie's face. Scoot gave the pirate stallion a quick glance, before returning to shoot Rookie one more hateful look. Suddenly, her hoof released his chest, and he dropped to the floor awkwardly. "You have no idea what she's been through!" Scoot spat viciously as she turned and approached the door. Through coughing and spluttering, Rookie rubbed his neck, and looked up at the departing mare.
"Well... I don't really have an idea about anything much, do I?" He growled sarcastically. Scootaloo froze, and glanced back at him, for a glimmer of a second Rookie swore he saw regret flash across the hard mare's face. But with a sniff, Scootaloo's face returned to its cold usual self.
"That's why you're going to be seeing Twilight every day." She said calmly, reaching out and lifting the tent flap to exit. "She'll help you... Get the picture." She looked to Pip, her face softening as she spoke. "Sorry about that Pip... it's just he... yunnow?" Pip gave her a stern look, showing he didn't agree. Scootaloo bowed her head in apology. When it rose she was back down to business. "I just came to tell you, he's expected by the northern barricades tomorrow morning at eight. Make sure he gets there..." She flashed the dark stallion a malicious smile. "Or I will." and with that she was gone.
Pip let out a loud whistle followed by a shaky laugh. "Scoot's'll follow Rainbow anywhere, and beat down anypony who says anything bad, I'd watch it if I were you." He smiled, Rookie didn't, still angered by the latest injury for him to sustain. He rubbed his neck as he returned to his seat, and encouraged Pip to continue explaining the world to him, resigned only to listening now, in case more curious ears were listening outside.
"Well... Ponyville was part of a place called Equestria..."
"But, if you surrender, surely Discord would spare you all, all he wants is to rule right?" Rookie suggested, trying to be the voice of reason.
"No." Pip said coldly, serious for the first time yet, his eyes dark. "We'll never give in to him. He'd kill us all.
"But, he doesn't HATE ponies, surely, or how would I have lived in the capital!" Rookie countered.
"Then wiped your memory and threw you into a leviathan hunting ground." Said Pip, deadpanning the conversation. "He'd kill us all." He repeated. "And giving in would go against everything we fight for."
"What?" Rookie smirked, unsure if he'd heard pip correctly.
"Equestria!" Pip repeated, his voice strong. "Equestria: It's freedom, it's peace, it's safe!"
"Huh..." Rookie laughed, unsure of the feeling suddenly brewing in his stomach at those words. Pip looked at Rookie's face, trying to place the emotion. After a moment of silence, Rookie spoke up. "You know Pip, I don't know who, but you remind me of somepony..." The pirate pony smiled.
"I'll take that compliment! It means I'm helping you remember!"
Rookie scoffed, it felt like that was all that anypony here cared about. He understood the value of an enemy outcast to an army, heck if it was him he'd be frantic with trying to recover the lost memories, but the leader of these ponies... Rainbow Dash, she seemed to have everypony here well trained in how she thought. He voiced his opinion to his new friend, who grew slightly enclosed at his comments. "Pip?" He asked, unsure what he had said wrong. "You ok?" The pinto stallion nodded, finally looking up.
"Look, she isn't all bad..." Rookie suppressed yet another laugh.
"You just try to see the good in everypony huh?" Pip sat upright, smiling.
"Yup! I learnt to do that years ago! Best lesson ever!" then he grew a little more saddened. "You see Rookie, when they lived in Ponyville -The reel one, not this one- Rainbow and her friends got used to fighting with each other." Rookie leant forward, interested. "They had a few brushes with danger, and they worked darn hard to stop any of their friends getting hurt..." Pip opened his mouth, then thought better of himself.
"Go on!" Rookie urged. After a moment of bighting his lip, the pirate continued.
"They won every time, because they had each other..."
Rookie watched his friends mood change to sorrow.
"But then one of them stopped being there right?" Rookie ended for him. Pip nodded.
"We don't really talk about her, she just up and left, leaving the others to fight on their own... let's just say... it got harder to go on without her." Rookie watched, a twinge in the back of his head suggested a memory, had he heard this tale before? If it was key history, then surely he had. Pip sombrely continued, his eyes dark as he stared into the dyeing fire. "We started to loose, fights, ponies... friends... then Rainbow lost the most important thing to her." Rookie stared, his heart pumping hard, how was this story effecting him so? Maybe it was the dim light that added effect to the grim tale, but he was captivated.
"What?" He asked breathlessly.
"Her family." Pip squeaked. "Firs her mom and dad, heck I thought she didn't even have them, she might have been an orphan or something... Then she lost him..."
"Soarin'." Pip stood and went over to his hammock. Sitting on it slowly, he swayed back and forth gently. "Rainbow was captured, being taken to the capital, we didn't think there'd be a chance to get her out, but that darn pegasus." He chuckled slightly, a hint of annoyance in his laugh.
"He charged a fully escorted prisoner transport single hoofedly, and managed to break Rainbow out, deal with seven leviathans, get her to the forest and on the path to Newponyville..." The smile faded. "Rainbow watched as the leviathans caught him, attacked, they... t-they destroyed him." Rookie walked over to Pip, amazed that somepony could do all that, only to be cut down short.
"W-were they close?" he asked tentatively. "I could only imagine how much somepony must mean to you, to go and do all that." Pip looked up surprised.
"I guess you've never loved somepony have you Rookie?" The dark stallion shook his head. "Well..." He sighed tiredly. "Those two did, they loved each other so much it bordered on crazy, and when Soarin' died. Rainbow went off the rails. Took us months to bring her back, and when we got her back, she wasn't the same..." Pip looked to Rookie who took a seat on the other hammock. "That's why we keep fighting Rookie, to stop any of that happening to anypony else! To ensure we have a world where we don't suffer, where we can always trust our friends, where betrayal and heartache... never exist."
"Wow..." Rookie was stunned by this story, he could only sit there dumbfounded. "To think... somepony from here, turned their backs on you... from what I've seen of you guys, I'd never think that possible..."
"Neither did we." Pip agreed, leaning back in his hammock. "But now we're a little more weary, Scoots especially, she worships Rainbow, and she took Pinkie's betrayal even worse than the big Kahoonah herself."
"Pinkie?" Rookie frowned.
An heavy flash erupted behind Rookie's eyes, causing him to tip forward and fall out of his hammock.
"Rookie?!" Pip bolted out of bed and stooped beside him. "What's wrong?" Rookie couldn't hear him, he was focusing too much on the pain, knowing that behind it there was something... brought on by that name... Pinkie... Slowly the shimmering veil of pain faded slightly, allowing something to sift through, a pair of bright blue, tear filled eyes. Rookie tried to dig deeper, trying to fill in the face around them, knowing it would have some great relevance to his life.. Try as he might however, he could not bring his mind to do it, each attempt caused another agonising stab at his brain, if he didn't stop soon, he'd black out from it all!
He heard something... something far off... maybe even imaginary. Screaming, the sounds of galloping hooves and loud cries of battle. Then another noise. A voice... Pip?
"It couldn't have been him! He's been under somepony's eye since he got here! It's not like he's a unicorn. He couldn't have contacted them!" The pain faded, Rookie shook his head to clear it and glanced up at Pip's hammock, empty... He looked to his right and saw two stallion pegasy, one dark orange the other midnight blue, at the door to the tent, blocked by a stubborn looking Pip.
"Pip? W-what's going on?" Rookie mumbled getting to his hooves.
"Like you don't know!" He knew that voice, Rookie turned and saw Scootaloo, already in the tent standing only a few feet away, glaring hatefully at the stallion before her.
"Huh? What? P-Pip?" Rookie beseeched his only friend to tell him what was happening.
"The western garrison's just been hit by Leviathans." The pinto stallion explained quickly. Scootaloo exploded.
"Pip! Say another word and you'll be going with him! We tell this spy nothing!"
"Spy?" Rookie asked, quickly waking up now he sensed the danger in the air. Those distant cries he had heard were definitely tangible, and very terrifying. "You think I did this?"
"Well there weren't any leviathans around this area until you showed up!" Scootaloo challenged, approaching menacingly. Rookie retaliated the same way, squaring up to the orange and purple mare.
"Because they were CHASING me!" He shouted.
"I didn't see that! All I saw was you shooting out of one of our traps! Now they're here, as far as I'm concerned that makes you a spy." Before either Rookie or Pip could speak up Scootaloo turned for the door and barked a single order to the stallions at the door. "Take him!"
The two did so without hesitation, barging past Pip they shot towards Rookie within seconds. In an instant, Rookie knew what to do, just like when running from the leviathans. He ducked low as one Stallion jumped to grab his upper half. Weaving underneath him, Rookie shot a hind leg out and struck the second in the face, knocking him out instantly. Continuing his momentum, he turned for the door to run. He made no further than a millimetre before he was stopped, a single long bronze blade inches from his throat. Scootaloo had seen the chance of his escape and seized the opportunity of her force's attack to sneak up behind him, ready. "Better luck next time... Rookie!" She gloated, as a strong set of forelegs wrapped around Rookies shoulders from behind.
Kicking and screaming, Rookie was dragged into the air by the stallion he had let fly over him. As he was hauled from the tent, he saw Pip's worried eyes following his every flailing limb. He knew the look, though he didn't want to believe it, Pip was checking for any weapon's glint or any threat from his new friend.
Scootaloo and Pip followed the two out and watched as rookie was hauled away. Outside was chaotic, it was clear that the garrison attack had spooked the civilians because they were running in the opposite direction. Making for the highest tree homes they could find, desperate to get away in case the Leviathan's followed them into the town. As he hovered over the running ponies, hauled off to who knew what end, Rookie looked back at his friend in the tent doorway.
"Pip!" He yelled, he saw the stallion shudder with remorse, then look away, unable to bear watching. "Pip! It wasn't me! I swear! I want to help! Let me help! PLEASE LET ME GO I CAN HELP!" He watched as Scootaloo lent in to Pip's ear, murmured something, then rushed off in the direction of the garrison. The stallion stood there a moment, then followed suit off to fight the enemy and protect the town.
"Where are you taking me?!" Rookie yelled, still struggling to get free. The pegasus didn't even acknowledge his voice, he simply kept flying, towards the outskirts of the town. Rookie didn't like this, it didn't bode well that this strong silent stallion was taking him to the quietest area of town. Was he ordered to execute him? Rookie struggled again, with newfound ferocity. Now fighting for his life, he kicked his back legs, swinging them backwards as well as forwards. One of these kicks was perfect, as it smashed against the inside of his captor's leg and slid high up into a place he never meant to strike.
The effect was perfect however, as it caused his target to falter with an anguished cry of pain, His grip loosened, and Rookie took his chance. Rolling around in the forelegs so his back faced the ground, Rookie angled his elbow and brought it around into the face of the orange stallion. The forelegs holding him slackened completely, letting Rookie fall the few measly feet to the ground. As he got to his hooves, the pegasus came crashing to the ground, face first. When he didn't get up, Rookie came over and held an ear close to the downed pegasus. A muffled groan of pain emitted from the soil, leaving Rookie to sigh in relief. 'Not dead.' He thought. Then glance at how the stallion hind legs were squeezing together, clearly in pain. Rookie grimaced. 'But I bet he wishes he was right now...'
"Big Macintosh! Get some water on that hut now! We still have ponies in there!" Scootaloo ordered as she shot across the open field of the western garrison. There weren't many of the leviathans, but enough to be causing the guarding ponies trouble, so Scootaloo reassumed her role as the hero of the rebellion. Streaming straight for the largest group of Leviathans, she struck out with her blades. Spreading her legs out wide, she resembled a four point star as she span with her momentum, turning herself into a deadly shuriken. The waiting Leviathans had no chance, instantly they exploded into smoke with a short scream.
Scoot smirked as she looked up, this was filly's play, she'd been dealing with these things for years now. Too easy, this is why she wanted a piece of Havoc, she'd end him easily on an even footing. Maybe he was here, perhaps that spy had been good for at least one thing.
"Scootlaoo look out!" Scoot looked around in time to see four leviathans leaping towards her, a trap? That had never happened before! Scoot had nowhere to run, she clenched her eyes shut waiting for the burning creatures to strike.
With a flash the stallion who had warned Scoot shot to the rescue. His trusty cutlass in hoof, Pip streaked forward and sliced once. So fast was his movement, it seemed like his strike was over before the leviathans even realised it. Still in the air, they exploded into plumes of fire and smoke.
"Thanks..." Scoot acknowledged as she opened her eyes to find herself in safety.
"No problem! Let's get going!" Pip said simply, focused on the task at hand. The two shot to the next largest group of targets, blades glinting in the light of the fires behind them.
The two fought like pros. Scoot struck low at the legs of the nearest one, squatting towards the ground. The strike halted the leviathan, giving him difficulty to move. Pip then jumped, rolled over Scoot's back and struck out as he came over her head. The cutlass sunk deep into the creatures head, ending it instantly. Pip then barged forward into the next Leviathan reaching out with his hind leg for Scootaloo to grab. When she did Pip swung around catapulting Scootaloo forward like a murderous missile.
On the other side of the field, a large red stallion was running to the flames with a pale of water as commanded, him along with a group of other rebels were trying to tame the flames long enough to allow those ponies inside to get out. The stallion flung the pale hard, making it soar high above the wooden structure. The water rained down wide and forced the embers down for a fast moment, letting two stallions bolt out of the momentarily safe doorway. "Is anypony still in there?" He shouted looking around for someone who knew. A scream from within the burning structure supplied his answer, a mare was trapped inside. Realising who it must be, Macintosh's heart plummeted. He rushed to the doorway, however the beam above it could stand no more flames, with a shuddering crack it collapsed, blocking the stallion's path.
There was a space, but his bulking frame was too large to get through. He reared back, crying out in frustration.
A blur, a gust of wind, the sound of cantering hooves. Mac's mane whipped into a frenzy as the stallion passed him at top speed. He only had a second to note his dark fur before the stallion jumped, stretched out flat, and shot through the small gap in the doorway.
Rookie landed and stood up in a literal living hell. He looked around expecting to see corpses burning slowly in the incinerating flames, but there were none, maybe they all got out! The smoke stung his eyes and attacked his throat. Ignoring this, he pushed forward, winding around the already collapsed roof.
"Hello?!" He cried, his voice sounding rough with the smoke. "IS ANY PONY HERE?!" Nothing... He pushed forward, knowing that the chance of whoever screamed was extremely high! "HELLO!" He tried again.
"Is somepony there?" Rookie gasped with relief. He rushed through the flames towards the source of the voice. A purple maned platinum pony looked back at him, trapped behind a collapsed wall. Rookie rushed towards her. "Oh thank goodness! I thought I was doomed! Thank you darling!" Rookie reached the wall, one large plank of wood was what was blocking the doorway. He scanned the room, but already knew there was only one way before the whole place came crashing down.
Scoot and Pip both struck the final leviathan together, both smiling as they did. It was over, they were safe! At least for now. They both turned, and their happiness vanished as the world they had left momentarily for the fight came flooding back.
Smoke billowed out of the burning garrison, ponies were still rushing to douse the flames before they spread to the nearby trees. The two fighters rushed to Big Macintosh.
"Anypony still in there?" Pip asked quickly.
"Eeyup! Only one I reckon..." He looked dark faced. "It's Rarity!"
"Oh Celestia..." Pip breathed miserably.
"Somepony jus' wen' in to get her out though." Mac explained, rushing off for another pale.
"Somepony went in THERE?" Pip sounded impressed.
"Yeah..." Scootaloo whispered, staring into the twisting flames. "Who?"
"Right!" Rookie coughed hard, choking on the smoke. "I'm going to lift this beam, when I do I want you to run! Get the heck out of here!" The mare nodded.
"Thank you... I don't even know your name!" He lowered himself, swung his head and shoulders up, taking on the strain of the wooden plank. He pushed up, dislodging it and giving the mare a way out.
"Rookie. Nice to meet you!" The mare ducked and rushed past toward the exit.
"Rarity." She said simply as she rushed past.
Rookie smirked, maybe he'd just made another friend! Bracing himself, he waited for the mare to get clear of the area, then shot out from under the beam. He rushed after the unicorn mare through the fire and the flames. Behind her heard the beam he had dropped collapse completely. Following the collapse a deep rumbling began, the ground beneath his rushing hooves began to shake, all saying that the garrison was now collapsing. They maybe had seconds to get out before they were buried and burnt alive. He heard the mare cry out in front of him, and soon saw why. The doorway was blocked, he had forgotten!
He made the decision instantly, pushing harder, he picked up his speed and overtook the mare. "KEEP GOING!" He ordered, knowing if she stopped, she would die. She did as asked, even if she looked hesitant and faltered for a moment. Rookie closed his eyes, bracing for burning and pain. The clogged up doorway rushed to meet him, defiant and stubborn.
At the last possible second, Rookie rammed his shoulder into the rubble, putting every ounce of his strength into the push. He smashed into the rubble which resisted only for a second, before it gave way. He punched a hole through the doorway, which then collapsed behind him.
They could hear hoofsteps from inside. Scootaloo even heard a male voice shout something, was somepony trying to get out of there? She took a few steps forward, about to attempt an assault on the collapsing garrison. As she stepped forward however, the doorway exploded and a stallion shot out onto the ground. Behind him the rubble blocking the doorway crumbled, creating a large mound on the ground. Over this a soot covered unicorn leaped out of the smoky gloom, following the stallion to safety.
"Rarity!" Scootaloo cried in relief. She rushed to the mare and hugged her while Pip investigated the stallion who had barged through the rubble. He was covered in dust, soot and rubble. Pip reached down and swiped at the bits of wood, clearing the stallion's face, and gasped in amazement.
"I'm fine Scootaloo, really! How is he?" Rarity protested as Scootaloo checked she wasn't injured.
"Who?" Scootaloo asked.
"Rookie!" Rarity cried as she rushed over to the unconscious stallion. Scootaloo froze.
"Rookie!" Pip shouted, gently shaking the stallion. "Rookie! Talk to me buddy!"
"Is he alright?" Rarity asked as she rushed over.
"Urrghhh...." Slowly, Rookie began to move, grunting with pain. Rarity sighed with relief, as did Pip. "No offense, but if anypony's still in there, I'm not doing that again!" Pip let out a mixture of a breath of relief and a laugh. Rarity sobbed with happiness.
"Oh thank you! Thank you, thankyou, thankyouthankyouthankyou!" Rarity wept, grabbing the stallion and holding him tight. Rookie's eyes shot open in surprise, a hug? It was his first that he could remember! He smiled and slowly hugged her back.
"R-rarity!" Said a low, deep voice. Joy obvious in its tone. They all looked up, Rookie recognised the red stallion he had passed when he rushed in to save Rarity.
"Big Macintosh!" Rarity cried with joy. She jumped up and cantered over to him. Without hesitation she grabbed his head and guided his face to hers and kissed him. The two stood there for a moment, entwined in each other. Rookie glanced up, then to Pip who smirked at his friend.
"Well, that hardly seems fair..." Rookie joked.
"How so?" Pip laughed, reaching out to help him up. Rookie took the hoof gratefully.
"Well... I save the beautiful girl, and he gets the kiss!" Pip burst out laughing. Behind him, Rookie heard a small giggle, he turned and saw Scootaloo smirking, though when she saw him looking she wiped the look off her face.
"What are you doing here?!" The orange mare demanded. "Where did the guard who had you go?"
"Ummm..." Rookie grimaced, rubbing the back of his mane roughly. "He may be... in a little pain..." He shuddered as he remembered the connection of his hoof to the stallion's nether regions. "You might want to check up on the guy..." Scoot scowled, then glanced over to Rarity who had finally pulled herself away from Big Macintosh, the two where now holding each other close, grateful for Rarity's survival.
"Why?" Scoot asked, returning her gaze to Rookie. "Why did you come back?" Rookie had been about to speak to Pip, his mouth froze, hanging open as he turned his head back to Scoots. He frowned.
"Isn't it obvious... I wanted to help..."
"Why?" Scootaloo repeated, obviously incredulous at the stallion's decision. Rookie was confused himself, unsure why she couldn't understand. "I blamed you, I thought you were the one who brought them, I had you taken away for... for..." She couldn't finish the statement, she was too ashamed.
Rookie smiled, walked over to the orange mare, and placed a hoof on her shoulder. He gave her a warm smile. "I'm no spy, Mrs Scootaloo, I'm just a pony, I don't know who I was, what I did to get here... But who I am right now? Who I choose to be... is one of you, as long as I can, I'll help you. I want to stop this Discord, and I'll do everything I can to finish this war!"
"Did you mean what you said? Back there?" Pip asked as he and Rookie helped clear away any salvageable scrap from the garrison along with the rest of the stallions. Rookie glanced up at Pip as he lugged a large sheet of nearly perfect metal over to the pile the two had made.
"Yeah, you're damn right I meant it!" Rookie glanced around, though it had been a small attack it had left its mark on the rebel forces. Several bodies had littered the grassy clearing, though they had now been moved, the dark stains on the green blades of grass still remained. "I don't want this sort of thing to happen again..." Rookie murmured. Pip laughed gently, yanking out a long strip of charred wood and inspecting it. Rookie smirked and glanced over to him. "Did I say something amusing?"
"No, no you didn't..." Pip said, casting the beam away as a bad job.
"Well don't keep me in suspense!" Rookie laughed, pulling away to go to the station nearby, erected for water and food for the salvage team. Pip followed suite and took a gulp of water, he breathed for a moment suddenly noticing the heavy sweat he'd built up working to keep up with Rookie's almost unnatural strength.
"Well, I once heard somepony else say that, and you remind me quite a bit of them." Pip smirked, taking another drink as to add dramatic emphasis, to Rookie's annoyance.
"Scoots..." Rookie stared in surprise, while Pip snorted at his slightly dazed expression.
"Really? I remind you of her?" Rookie asked already recovered after such a short break and heading back to the wreckage. Pip stood by the station, they'd been here for a few hours, the only stallions to stick to the job without taking a break while another pair took a shift. Even Big Mac had left for an hour before returning, but after two shifts, Rookie had seemed fine.
"What the hay is wrong with you man?!" Pip asked incredulously as Rookie yanked a long complex structure of beams, still attached by nails intact from the fire, out of the ruined garrison.
"Huh?" Rookie asked, letting go of the wood with his mouth and frowning. "What do you mean?" Pip pointed to the pile of salvageable items.
"Almost half of that, you've pulled out! And you're still going without even a break!" Rookie frowned, seemingly confused as to why Pip was so surprised.
"Well..." He said slowly, his brow furrowed in concentration. "I guess I could take a break... I don't think I really need one yet, but... I don't mind taking one..." Pip stared incredulously for a moment before shaking his head with another laugh and turning to the water waiting for them, closely followed by Rookie.
"Yeah, you and Scootaloo definitely have some similarity's going for you!" Pip said from the water table as Rookie took hold of more wreckage and pulled slowly.
"How so?" Rookie asked, muffled by his mouthful.
"Weeellll..." Pip began, looking into the air for inspiration. He leant against a tree as he began his list of reasons. "You both like fighting- Oh don't deny it!" He suddenly said as Rookie turned to argue. "I've been helping with this rebellion since it started, I know a fighter when I see one!" Rookie shrugged and continued, taking his word for it. He himself didn't think he'd shown himself as much of a fighter, besides those reflexes of his, or the way he dealt with the guards, but Pip had only seen him deal with one of them anyway! Pip continued, "You both like to be the hero. Macintosh says you were just a blur when you jumped in to save Rarity.
"Macintosh... he's the big red fellow... right?" Rookie asked, trying to assure he was getting a hang of the inner circle of the rebellion leaders.
'Rarity helps with armour and camouflage, Macintosh is her fiancé and head of front line infantry , Fluttershy is in charge of intelligence, Applejack security, Twilight strategist and Rainbow Dash was their leader and commander in battle...' He kept running this through in his head, ensuring he knew each role they played after pip had explained in their first few hours here helping.
"Yep, the big red guy!" Pip assured him, finally finishing his water and returning wearily to the work before him. "It takes quite a lot to impress him, and he's more or less astounded how you did it. 'Jumped through a 'ole no bigger than a badger burrow!' Apparently." Pip said, mimicking the deep voice Macintosh. Rookie laughed, not commenting but simply continuing his work.
"Most importantly, you and Scoot's are just too dang stubborn!" Rookie let out an all out guffaw of laughter at that, though he knew it was true, it was entertaining to hear how easily it rolled off of Pip's tongue.
The two continued to work happily for another five minutes before they heard a cough from behind them. Turning to investigate the two saw Rainbow Dash stood behind them watching them work.
"Commander!" Pip shouted, saluting, yet again Rookie snorted at the sudden seriousness Pip took. Rookie then mimicked the gesture.
"Go on, keep going guys, I just came to see how everything was..." Rainbow smiled, the two nodded and began to work again, but Rookie was halted by a cyan hoof gently resting on his shoulder. He glanced up to a pair of pink eyes looking back quite seriously. "You got a sec? I wanna talk to you..."
"Oh come on Rainbow!" Cried one salvage worker nearby, "He'd our best guy! Take him and this is gonna take hours more!" Other workers cried out their agreement all over the walls of the burnt out garrison, Rainbow laughed and waved at them.
"Don't worry guys! Pip'll pick up the slack while I borrow Rookie here!" The pinto stallion looked in horrified shock at the rainbow mare, who winked at him before turning and walking away, rookie in toe.
The two of them walked through the trees, headed back towards the centre of New Ponyville. Rookie remained silent in the presence of the leader of the force he had so recently pledged himself to, he wondered if she had come to initiate him or something like that, his answer came not too soon after the thought passed his mind.
"So... I wanted... to thank you for saving Rarity..." Rainbow said, looking around the surrounding trees. Rookie knew by her tone she had more to say, so remained silent. "Aannnd, I wanted to say... sorry." she looked over to him as he raised an eyebrow. "I... thought when you were here... and then the Levvy's showed up... I... I thought you brought them here, so I ordered Scoot to grab you and... and..." She had the face of a pony who was filled with complete and true remorse.
"So..." Rookie began, "That was you? Not Scootaloo?" Rainbow nodded, laughing.
"Nope, she defended you a little before I issued it as an order..." her face suggested she wanted to say more, she had a faint smile on her lips, but Rookie was unsure if it even meant anything, so he simply addressed the other surprising comment the leader had made.
Scootaloo had defended him! When he voiced his surprise at this to the Rainbow mare, she laughed. "Scoot's is a good kid, and an even better fighter! But... she's always tried to, well, be like me, so she acts brave to everypony else, and it sometimes just comes across as angry."
"Hah, yeah you're telling me. Next time she's 'brave' remind me to just nail the guards in the nuts nice and quick!" Rookie remarked, Rainbow laughed.
"Oh yeah, I heard about that! He's still limping you know, and I'm pretty sure he used to have a much deeper voice!" The two of them laughed again as they passed through the dense trees.
"I..." Rainbow stopped and looked away, but Rookie noticed the small noise and pursued it.
"Nothing." Rainbow said, halting and looking Rookie straight in the face. "You know, your eyes are REALLY blue!" Rookie frowned in confusion, unsure why that meant anything.
"Uhhh... thanks? I guess..."
"Sorry, it's just your eyes remind me of somepony."
"Doesn't matter, she's gone now..." Rookie stared for a minute, he reminded himself of the crash course in history Pip had given him. He licked his lips, sure she was talking of one of two ponies, Soarin' or the traitor, Soarin' could have possibly been a girl, but Rookie thought it a more masculine name, and Rainbow had said 'She's gone.'
"You're talking about that friend, the one who abandoned you all right?" Rainbow's face froze for a moment, which then melted into a sad smile.
"Pip, he told you huh?" Rookie nodded, suddenly unsure if he should have said what he had.
"Pinkie was one my best friends, hay, we were all best friends... me, Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, then... she just left." Rainbow grew thoughtful as they walked, Rookie couldn't help but wonder if they were headed for the main camp, he was sure he wouldn't be able to get back to the garrison again from there, it was luck that he had when he'd been running to help. If it hadn't been for the screaming, he'd have never found it. "You make me laugh like she did you know..." Rainbow eventually said, Rookie raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, you're relaxed even when you've been swamped by all of this in just a day! It's like... you're used to all this kinda stuff." Rainbow had stopped walking, she was now staring at Rookie with newfound understanding.
"What's wrong?" Rookie asked, unnerved by the piercing stare.
"I just... had a thought..." Rainbow said slowly. "Do you remember ANYTHING? I know it's probably too soon to ask, but has anything come back to you?" Rookie sighed and began to walk again, followed closely by an attentive Rainbow Dash.
"No actual memories, only snippets of information... I know I must have been a fighter, my instincts are too sharp to be anything else." Rainbow caught up and began to lead the way again, however her eyes never left Rookie as he walked. "The only thing that started coming to me got cut off by the attack."
"And what was that?!" Rainbow pushed quickly, hoping for any kind of information.
"A pair of eyes..."
"Red? Were they Discord's?!"
"No..." Rookie sighed, knowing it would be a disappointment on the strategic front, but not on a personal level for Rainbow. "They're blue, just like mine." Rainbow's jaw dropped.
"Yep. I think I knew Pinkie, or at least I met her..."
"A-and..." Rainbow stuttered, obviously wishing to ask something more. "H-how was she?"
"I don't know." Rookie sighed again, "All I saw were the eyes, and they were... sad, they were so, so sad..." The trees before them seemed to part ways, revealing the centre of Newponyville. As they walked Rainbow snorted with anger.
"Hmmph! If it is Pinkie she doesn't deserve any better! She turned her back on us! Now she's paying for it! Fine by me."
A pegasus came out from a nearby tent, orange with a purple mane, Scootaloo! Rookie noticed her before she saw them.
"Rainbow Da- oh..." She stopped short of running to her commander when she spotted Rookie. "W-what's he doing here? I thought he was helping with the garrison..." Rainbow smiled and pulled in the younger mare for a quick one legged hug.
"Don't worry Scoots, I asked for a quick word with him that's all."
"Oh." Scoots said slowly, trying not to look Rookie's way. The stallion smiled, trying to encourage a civil response from the mare.
"Hey Scoots, everything alright?"
"Yes." She deadpanned simply, turning to leave. She got only four steps away however before Rainbow called her back.
"Wait, Scoot's, do you mind taking Rookie back to the garrison? I gotta get planning with Twilight, we still got a lot to do before we torch that old place tonight!"
"Sure, no worries..." Scootaloo said lowly, turning begrudgingly and heading back to Rookie's side. Without pause, she passed him and went off in the direction of where Rainbow and him had come from. "Come on Rookie."
The two were walking in pure silence, back to the garrison at a far less leisurely pace than Rainbow and Rookie had taken the walk. It was clear Scootaloo was simply following orders, not wishing to remain with the stranger any longer than possible. Rookie couldn't stand the silence, it burned away at his ears, after the cataclysmic noise of the attack, the quiet of the walk almost drove him insane. The dark stallion rushed ahead a few paces and switched directions to face Scoot while walking backwards.
"So, look, I think we got off on the wrong hoof today..."
"No, we're fine." Scootaloo said coldly, walking with a determined eye set ahead of the two.
"Really? 'Cos you seemed pretty quick on the trigger grabbing me during the attack..." Rookie coaxed, knowing that this would pull out an angered response from her if nothing else.
"We were under attack, the only change was your presence, it's protocol." She said once more, trying to kill the conversation.
"Ohhhhh, come on Scootaloo!" Her eyes twitched slightly in annoyance at his pestering, but she continued to keep her steely gaze fixed on the distant trees. "You don't strike me as a 'Protocol' kind of girl!"
"Oh really?!" Scootaloo halted and finally looked to Rookie who also stopped at the sight of Scoot's anger filled features. "Maybe I should go jumping into burning buildings and save helpless mares then?! If I'm so un-protocol, why don't I act more like you?!" Rookie smirked and began to walk backwards once more.
"Nahhhh, you don't need to do that, fighting Leviathans seems more like your kind of thing anyway." Scootaloo let out an irritated snort and began to walk again, a hair fell across her vision so she flicked it away. As she did, the dull afternoon sun highlighted something. A cut just above her eyebrow, Rookie recalled seeing it when she jumped him when he first arrived in Newponyville. "Then again I might be wrong..." He began, concern now obvious in his voice as he slowed to close the gap between them. He reached out to investigate the cut. "It seems they got you pretty bad there!"
"That wasn't them!" Scootaloo denied swiping away at Rookie's hoof. The stallion stared in confusion.
"What, was it from something else?"
"Not something!" Scootaloo shouted bitterly, she looked down at her hooves, obvious shame in her demeanour. "Somepony, Havoc." She spat angrily. Rookie paused, the word sent his head ringing with alarm bells, he knew instantly he should know who that was, but he was sure that name had never come up in Pip's stories. Scootaloo kept walking, but her speed had dropped somewhat as she hung her head in defeat. Rookie turned back around so he could walk beside her, and with a caring and cautious tone, he asked.
"Havoc? Who's that?" Scootaloo laughed.
"I can't believe I have to explain who that monster is to you! How he destroys everything! Kills everypony who protests against Discord! He's... he's..."
"A monster." Rookie repeated, helping the mare finish her explanation. The mare nodded and looked up, clearly suppressing her feelings as best she could.
"I first saw him four years ago, he was smaller then, no bigger than me! He... he lead a troop of Leviathans and ransacked over five villages in under a day!" Rookie was amazed. "There were rumours they were helping us with supplies in the fight against Discord, so the king sent his new plaything our way, since then we've struggled to find any support from civilians!" She grew quiet as her eyes fogged for a moment with pearly tears, she wiped them away angrily, annoyed at her weakness.
"So..." Rookie began, "That's when he gave you that?" He asked, Scootaloo laughed and shook her head. For the first time, Rookie noticed how white her teeth were, how kind that laugh was, the first glimpse that a mare actually hid beneath the warrior.
"No, I didn't even get near him! Rainbow did, but he easily hurt her and I had to get her out before he killed her! From then on, I didn't see him, only heard what he was doing... until two days ago." She looked up to Rookie and grimaced. "We had finally gotten the support of another town, but sure enough in a few days, they were there, ready to crush everypony who was helping us..."
"The Leviathans?" Rookie asked, Scootaloo gave a whimper and a nod, she was clearly fighting back tears again!
"They... they... set fire to the town, they... just let ponies burn!" Her voice cracked, and a single tear ran down her cheek leaving a sleek trail down her clean orange fur. "They... wanted me, I'd been to friendly with the locals, a spy must have heard about me... and so... they..."
"They came for you, trying to get rid of somepony important to us." Rookie said simply, understanding the logic behind the attack. Scootaloo sniffed, and looked up at Rookie.
"Us?" She sounded surprised.
"Well, yeah..." Rookie suddenly became bashful, blushing slightly he turned away, trying to hide his embarrassment. "I'm no monster! I can see what's going on is wrong! So... of course I'm one of you guys, I'm here to stop all this with you guys!" Scootaloo laughed again, sniffing hard she returned to her story.
"Havoc has his little entourage, a group of Leviathans and his right hand mare... Trixie! And... he sent them off to catch some civilians leaving the town... he didn't want any survivors!" Rookie was unable to stop himself from shuddering, this was horrible! What kind of creature would simply throw away innocent lives like that! Just to gain a victory over another faction in a war!?! "I had to choose..." Scootaloo began again, her voice was in tatters now, and the two had come to a complete standstill! Her dark purple eyes found his bright blue ones and stared for a moment. "I had to choose, go after Trixie, save the innocent... or go after Havoc!" Rookie knew where this was going, he took a step towards her, but before he could say anything helpful, Scootaloo cried out in anger and swung around, ramming her hoof into the solid trunk of a tree near bye. She collapsed against said hoof and stood there, supported only by the tall redwood.
"I went after him! I should have saved those ponies, but... I couldn't... I couldn't let him go! Not when I was so close!" Rookie approached the weeping mare, unable to believe he was seeing a completely opposite side to her than he had before!
"Did... you get him?" The stallion asked, for lack of something better to say.
"Pfft! Of course I didn't!" Scootaloo scoffed, turning around and jabbing her hoof at the wound on her head. "He beat the stuffing out of me! I only got away because Rainbow got there just in time!" She fell to the floor, unable to bear the weight of her grief anymore! "I... I tried to find them, the ponies I left behind to go after him... after the attack any survivors came here... they... they weren't there! They died because of me!"
Rookie stared at the usually hard and strong mare, still shocked by the complete change in personality! He watched as he realised the Scootaloo he'd seen had been exactly what Rainbow Dash had told him, an attempt to be somepony else. She really was a caring individual, weighed down by every decision she'd ever made and it made Rookie sad to see such a unique pony so miserable. He stooped down beside her, resting a consoling hoof on her shoulder. Without saying a word, he comforted her by being there, and slowly, Scootaloo's sobbing subsided somewhat.
Soon the mare was on her hooves, a little shaky, but otherwise back to normal. She was embarrassed, she kept trying to find anything other than Rookie to look at. Finally, she addressed him quietly. "I-I was wrong about you..." Rookie raised an eyebrow, gesturing toward the path, silently suggesting they moved forward.
"How so?" He asked.
"I never thought you were the one who lead the Leviathans here, I only followed Rainbow Dash's orders, but... at the same time, I was sure you were sent here to hurt us... in some way, and maybe you are..." She finally looked at the stallion, both still were rooted to the spot. "But... I feel as though... I can trust you! And that takes a lot... for me..." She grew shy and looked away, masking her face with her swept fringe as best she could.
Rookie smiled, unable to help himself at the fact that Scootaloo had actually just said that! Finally the mare began to move forward, and soon the cries of the salvage team could be heard once more.
"Scootaloo?" Rookie asked, taking her foreleg in his hoof, stopping her gently. She turned to him and waited to hear what he had to say. "I meant everything I said earlier! I'm here to help! Not just for the war, but for anypony who needs me. He glanced at the mark above her eye, concern etched itself onto his face. "I won't let anypony get hurt again if I can help it! Even you! You CAN trust me!" Scootaloo smiled, she teatered on her hooves for a second, before zipping up to him and pulling him into a fast and fierce hug. She held him tight, saying all she needed to with the embrace.
She was thanking him.
She was trusting him.
She was befriending him!