“Tell me, Mr Hex, if you can. From what I have seen of you, you have destroyed so much. What is it, exactly, that you have created? Can you name even one thing? I thought not.”
She’s right. I had an opportunity to improve Equestria with my technology, but I turned it down for the sake of such selfish things as…
I’m so sorry, Twilight. If I had been allowed to remain in Equestria, I would have tried my hardest to make it work between us. But as it is, I promise with all my heart that I will find you again.
I can see you now. You were raising your foreleg to shield yourself from the exploding teleporter; mere moments after Trixie had plummeted to her doom inside the Citadel’s dark energy fusion reactor core. The fear in your eyes was such that I would never see again as long as I lived, and…
I can still see you, Twilight, but you’re not alone anymore. There’s somepony else with you – a stallion, by the looks of things – and he’s clad from the end of his horn to the bases of his hind hooves, and all the way to the tips of his wings, in silver body armour. His mane and tail are covered as well. The only exposed part of his body is the one eye I can see from this angle, and it’s by far the greenest eye I’ve ever seen in my life.
Question is; who is it?
He placed his hoof on Twilight’s shoulder, and she woke up. Despite everything else still being frozen, she became mobile again, and stared at him in confusion before both of them disappeared.
What was that about? Did that guy just save Twilight?
I smegging well hope so.
Everything else faded into blackness, and out of the dark came the G-Colt. He took a breath to speak-
-and stopped, glaring at something in front of him that wasn’t me.
It was the same silver-wearing stallion. He stood between me and the G-Colt, and the pair were trying to best each other in a staring contest that even Fluttershy would be impressed with. I could tell they were both thinking the same thing: he is mine, nopony else’s, and you can’t have him.
The stranger said something that I didn’t hear. However, it was well within the G-Colt’s hearing range. He straightened his tie and appeared to admit defeat.
“We’ll see… about that.”
He faded into the blackness, and the silver stranger turned to face me-
-and then, just like that, I was back.
I’m hurting in places that I never even knew could hurt.
Smeg, I’m hurting in places that I never even knew could exist. Where happened? What am I?
And why is it so… so dark?
Am I dead?
There’s now a bright light up ahead of me, further reinforcing the theory that I’m dead. But… aren’t all your lost relatives supposed to be waiting for you when you die, and coming to greet you through the light?
All I can see is this big scaly face with… with huge green eyes…
And the scales are purple.
Oh of course, now I remember! Ugh, so stiff…
“Spike, come away from there!”
The large purple-and-green dragon pulled chunks of concrete away from my body and picked me up out of the rubble.
“Drop what you’re doing and…”
Twilight trailed off when she saw what Spike was holding (read: me).
“He followed me home, Mom!” the dragon cried in a mockingly whiny voice. “Can I keep him?”
“Oh my gosh,” exclaimed Twilight as I was set on the ground. “HEX!”
She pounced on me in a hug which had never been so welcome in all my life, and I was extremely glad to return it.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “Are you hurt?”
“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” said Twilight. “How about you?”
“A bit stiff, but I think I’ll be alright,” I told her.
“Ha!” shouted Spike. “A bit stiff!”
It didn’t take me long to figure out the joke, and the dragon and I laughed our arses off until a Look (not just a look, a Look) from Twilight effectively silenced both of us, and we simply shared a brohoof – or rather a brohoof-broclaw hybrid.
“Do you know what happened?” I asked, because I sure had no idea. Who was that guy?
“No, I-I don’t,” said Twilight. “I know we managed to take down Trixie, and the teleporter exploded, but after that… I don’t know. I thought I saw somepony. Somepony wearing silver armour. For a moment I thought it was you because of the eyes, but I think he had wings and-”
“I saw him too,” I explained. “He stopped the G-Colt from putting me back into stasis for smeg-knows-how-many years.”
“Well, we’re lucky he took the time to save us, aren’t we?”
“You can say that again.”
Twilight turned to Spike and said this:
“Spike, could you go and set up those monitors? I want to check in with the others: they must be worried sick about us. Also, tell the Doctor he owes me five bits, because we DID find Hex after all.”
I felt something slide over my horn, and looked up at it as Twilight snapped the metal ring into place.
“I always carry a few spares around with me for emergencies,” she told me. “You know; just in case.”
“Good idea,” I told her.
We looked up at the Citadel as the large dragon left. Normally I would be a little annoyed that my marefriend made a bet with a Time Lord on whether or not I was alive, but I was a little distracted by the blood red clouds which were now swirling around the ruined roof of the gigantic tower.
“That place is falling apart at the seams,” I commented, referring to the glowing lines which were also running up the length of the building. “I really hope we don’t have to go back in there.”
“You’re not alone there,” said Twilight. She stepped a bit closer.
“You sure you’re okay?”
I thought about this for a moment.
“I’m hungry,” I said, “I’m thirsty, I need the toilet and I’m aching all over, so all in all, just another average Wednesday.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. “It could be a Sunday for all you know.”
“Nah,” I said, “it’s definitely Wednesday. Wednesdays always turn out badly for me. I think it’s something do with not being sure whether you should be tired from Monday or relaxing for Friday.”
“Well then,” she said, smiling and moving closer until we were almost nose to nose, and my world was dominated by her beautiful violet eyes, “I’m just going to have to find a way to improve your Wednesday, aren’t I?”
And just as I was getting ready for what would have been one of the greatest kisses in the history of the multiverse…
“Twilight, come in!”
Thank you, Doctor, for that not-so-timely intervention.
“Sounds like the signal might be more stable this time,” said Twilight. Her horn glowed and in a flash we were stood in front of a large monitor. It was propped between a heap of rubble and the ground, and had a control panel in front of it. Spike was waving an aerial around in an attempt to get a better signal.
“Up a bit higher, Spike!” Twilight commanded, and Spike flapped into the air as high as the wire on the aerial would allow him.
“A little to the left,” I directed.
“Yeah, and just a little lower,” said Twilight. “Now hold it!”
It wasn’t long before the screen was all but clear of static, and the face of a brown earth pony was frowning down on us.
“Twilight, you found Hex, good,” he said. “Please tell me the two of you are out of the city.”
“Well,” Twilight now looked extremely awkward, “we’re not, uh, out of the city… per se, um-”
The Doctor was shoved out of the way by another earth pony, but this one looked considerably more excited than the other one.
“Thank you!” cried Braeburn ecstatically. “Thank y’all so much fer savin’ her!”
“Braeburn, darling, I already explained it all to you,” said Rarity as she entered, “I never even needed saving!”
“Frankly, mah dear,” said Braeburn, taking her in his hooves, “Ah don’t give a damn.”
Then they started making out right in front of us.
“Nice to see they’re still going strong, isn’t it?” Spike commented from up above.
“Oh, get out of the way, you two!” demanded the Doctor as he shoved the two lovebirds out of shot. “Get a room!”
Then Braeburn’s cousin came into view.
“Listen,” she said, “y’all have to get outta the city! The Citadel could go sky high at any moment!”
“I’m afraid that’s true,” said the Doctor, opting to not shove Applejack out of the way, possibly out of fear of what she’d do. “In fact, there’s no question of that being inevitable. Our remote sensors indicate the process is accelerating toward a dark energy flare. Anyone left in the vicinity will be subjected to energetic events-”
“Doc, stop!” cried Applejack. “Okay? Just-just… just stop!”
“-that are beyond our powers of speculation,” the Doctor finished undeterred. “The ravages to cellular material are unimaginable.”
“Will you SHUT YER TRAP?!” the farmer shouted.
“Look, Applejack,” the Doctor said to the palomino pony, “there’s no need for undue alarm. I’m sure Twilight and Hex are at least out of range by now.”
“Well…” Twilight didn’t look like she wanted to repeat what she said earlier, so I stepped in.
“We’re still at the Citadel,” I said simply.
“WHAT?!” yelled the Doctor. “But-but you’ll never have time! The reactor core is this close to collapse. There is no way you could escape fast without- uh, see, nothing short of a direct intervention in the core could postpone the reaction, but not completely cancel it.”
“You mean… going in?” asked Twilight fearfully.
“Into the core? Yes,” the Doctor replied. “But it is FAR too dangerous to consider! That chamber will be swimming in radiation.”
“Uh, I do have this hazard suit,” I told him. “If we could find a way back into the Citadel there’s a chance we could-”
The Doctor was once again shoved out of the way, this time replaced by an unusually terrified looking pink pony.
“Twilight, Hexie, you CAN’T go into the Citadel!” squeaked Pinkie.
“But Pinkie-” Twilight started, but Pinkie was replaced by yet another pony who was a good deal more scared, while the Doctor got more and more annoyed in the background.
“Twilight, you really mustn’t! It’s far too dangerous!” Fluttershy insisted. “Doctor, can’t you try to talk to them?”
“What the heck do you think I’ve been trying to do since they connected?” asked the Doctor. “Look, I’m sorry girls, but I don’t see any other way. And it would definitely help the Resistance in City 17 evacuate more civilians.”
Twilight set her face and said “We can do this, Doctor.”
“Alright then, Twilight,” said the Doctor. “Just promise-”
“PINKIE promise!” interjected Pinkie.
“-Pinkie promise you won’t take a single unnecessary risk,” the Doctor finished. “Both of you.”
I saw the determination in Twilight’s eyes, and together we mimicked the actions of the famous unbreakable oath.
“We promise, Doc,” I told him. “Wish us luck.”
“Good luck,” said the Doctor. “You are both definitely going to need it.”
The transmission cut out, and Spike flapped down to the ground.
“I heard everything,” he told us. “You’re going back into the Citadel? Call me silly, but that doesn’t really sound like a good idea.”
“You’re right, silly,” I said, “but right now it’s the only thing we can do.”
“Well, I’m not carrying you over there,” said Spike stubbornly. “There’s no way I’m going within fifty feet of that place, there’s no telling what that radiation might do to my wings!”
“I don’t blame you,” said Twilight, once again stealing my catchphrase. “Let’s see if we can find another way in somewhere along the rim.”
The dragon nodded, and lifted up a fallen gunship so that we could move onward.
“Thanks,” said Twilight. “Meet us on the other side of that ridge, okay?”
And with that, Spike flapped off.
“I really, really wish we weren’t doing this,” I told the purple unicorn as we headed back towards the edge of the cavernous pit around the Citadel.
“Wishing never got anypony anywhere,” she pointed out.
It wasn’t long before we came to the edge of the pit. Not that it was hard to find of course, since it was of the suddenly-dropping-off-into-nothing breed. Another broken walkway ran around the inside, and up onto another clear patch a short distance around the circumference.
“Wow!” Twilight caught herself just before she went over. “What a drop!”
“Ladies first?” I asked.
She gave me another Look. I really should know better than to annoy girls, shouldn’t I?
“You’re right,” I said, “That was a stupid idea.”
We stepped out onto the path – the precarious, only-just-more-than-a-metre-wide path – and almost instantly I felt my hooves slipping on the soft ground. It was as if the earth itself was now trying to kill us.
Speaking of which, part of the edge crumbled and showered both of us with rocks and clumps of dirt.
“You alright back there?” I asked Twilight.
“I think so,” she replied. “Although I do feel like the earth itself is trying to kill us now!”
Heh. I guess great minds think alight, eh?
With careful hoofwork and a lot of rebalancing, we made it to the patch Twilight had indicated, and I’d never been so glad to have solid ground below my hooves in all my life.
“I don’t know about you,” I said, “but I never want to do that again.”
“I’m with you there,” said Twilight. “Where’s Spike? I told him to meet us here.”
“I’m over here!” shouted Spike from the other side of a massive heap of rubble. “I- whoa!”
There was a massive crashing noise, and a huge chunk of rubble toppled over, followed by a horrible silence.
“Spike!” yelled Twilight, her voice strained with fear for her assistant. “Spike, are you okay? Can you hear me?”
After a few seconds more crashing, the purple dragon appeared grinning over the heap of rubble which until that point had kept us separated.
“Yeah, I can hear you,” he replied.
“Don’t scare me like that again, you hear?” Twilight commanded.
“I think it would be best if you stayed with us for the moment,” I told him. “Could you help us find a way across?”
The three of us looked across at the tower of fracturing steel. Our goal was clear: some kind of inlet which was just about level with the rim of the pit. Usually there’d be a bridge stretching across, but all that was left was a few razor-like shards of metal jutting out of the ground.
“In any other situation I’d teleport us both over there,” said Twilight, “but there’s every chance that place is still guarded. I’d need as much magic as possible to get us to the core safely. There has to be some way to get across…”
“Oh, wait a second!” Spike cried suddenly, startling us both. “Both of you stay here!”
He jumped onto the rubble heap and flew up into the sky.
I guess the Combine suppression field affects pegasi, but not dragons. Maybe it’s something to do with their physical structure or their wingpower, or maybe it’s that the suppression field was designed for hominid control, not equine or draconian. It’d have some rather unpredictable effects on the residents of dimension 36.
“What’s he doing over there?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Twilight, “but it seems he might have foun- LOOK OUT!”
She pushed me out of the way just in time to avoid both of us being crushed by the minivan which flew over the rubble heap and landed in our patch of clear ground. Spike came back into view, his expression now worried.
“Are you guys okay?” he asked. “I hope I didn’t hurt you.”
“Don’t worry, Spike,” Twilight said, “we’re both fine.”
“But I don’t really see how a rusted old minivan is going to help us,” I commented. “What’s it supposed to achieve?”
With a small smirk (which was worrying to say the least) Spike walked over to the side of the van and yanked the door off, then stood offering the seat like a chauffeur.
“Oh, you’re kidding,” I said flatly. “Seriously?”
“Well, I don’t see how it couldn’t work,” said Twilight. “Plus, Spike has done the math.”
She turned to him and whispered “You did do the math, right?”
The dragon shook his head.
“Never mind,” she said. “I want you to get out of here as fast as you can. Go and find the Doctor. We’ll be safe, don’t worry.”
She yelped in shock as Spike swept her up in one monster of a hug. Then she tentatively climbed into the van, and I followed suit in the passenger seat.
“Okay, hold on!” the dragon commanded.
“Make it quick before I change my mind!” said Twilight.
“Better hold on tight!” I said rather unnecessarily, and propped myself between the dashboard and the back of the seat.
Spike lifted the van into the air, and Twilight and I almost fell out as he lined himself up, getting ready to throw.
“Okay, ready?” asked Spike. “One… two… three-”
He cut himself off and took a few steps back.
“That’s a long way,” he commented, “that’s a really, really long way and counting to three just gives me way too much time to think about it.”
“Spike, stop wasting time!” said Twilight.
“Right,” said Spike, “I’ll do it on one. Ready?”
“Well,” I said, “now that you ask-”
I think I should point out at this moment that there have been several occasions in my life already where I have experienced weightlessness. Most of them involved space travel, but there were several where I was flying through the air like an angry bird. Nevertheless, the dive across the chasm was one of the most terrifying rides of my life. I was too scared even to scream when the van crashed onto the metal grate of the Citadel’s inlet in which we had landed.
Shaking, Twilight looked out and across the chasm.
“Good throw, Spike!” she called. “Now go, you’ll be fine!”
And with that, the purple and green dragon flapped away over the ruins of the city.
“Okay,” I said, “now let’s…”
I trailed off. I’m pretty sure the floor isn’t supposed to be ominously creaking. And this van is not supposed to be leaning forwards…
The grate snapped under the combined weight of a rusty van and two terrified unicorns who were then sent hurtling like the world’s most dangerous rollercoaster in a mostly downwards direction. After a final leap of faith made completely against our will, Twilight and I came to a rest right in front of another sudden drop.
It was several seconds before either of us picked up the courage to speak.
“You alright?” asked Twilight yet again.
“Yeah,” I replied. “In fact, good news: I no longer need the toilet.”
Twilight stared at me for a second, before coming to the conclusion which both of us had been coming to:
“We’d better get out before the next ride starts.”
We climbed out of the van, mere seconds before the floor beneath it bent downwards and the rusted vehicle plummeted into the bottomless pit which awaited it.
“Too close,” I commented. “I am never doing that again.”
“I’m with you there,” said Twilight. “Also, you don’t need to worry about hygiene: that suit has an inbuilt liquid purification system. You could drink that water.”
And this time, it was my turn to give her a Look.
If the Citadel had looked badly damaged on the outside, it was absolutely nothing compared to the inside. Rubble was piled up all through the corridors, with more falling all the time, and sparking wires dangled dangerously from the ceiling.
“Wow,” said Twilight as we ran.
“I know, right?” I said. “This place is really coming apart. I had no idea- WHOA!”
Again, not for the first time, I was weightless. I tripped and went sailing over an edge, and I would have fallen into the Doom-filled Bottomless Doomed Pit of Doomed Doom if Twilight hadn’t wrapped me in a sheath of deep pink telekinesis.
“Told you that I might need my magic,” she said, pulling me back over the edge.
“Thanks,” I said when she’d set me down again.
“No problem,” said Twilight. “It’s what I’m here for. That and the occasional piece of constructive criticism: you could have been a little more careful.”
“I will be next time,” I informed her.
We had arrived at another electromagnetic gate. On one side of the passage was another very open room with a pipe dispensing roller mines, and on the other was a window. Through the window was some kind of control room – seeing as the shield was in the way, it was obviously where we needed to go – and the controls were all operated by…
…by those things. The things that used to be unicorns and now look more like maggots than anything else.
“Oh my gosh,” whispered Twilight. “Stalkers!”
“Stalkers?” I whispered back. “I was wondering what they were called. Also, why’re we whispering?”
“So that we don’t disturb them,” Twilight explained. “We should be okay so long as we stay out of their way.”
She deactivated the shield with a zap of magic, but before we could get through it flashed up in front of us, and it almost singed our noses.
“What the-” Twilight tried again, but it was just a repeat.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why won’t it stay open?”
Twilight looked around for the source of trouble, and her eyes fell upon the control room, or more specifically a single Stalker who was busy pressing buttons and occasionally turning its head in our direction. I would say it glanced at us, but I’m not entirely sure whether they’re blind or not.
“It’s that Stalker,” said Twilight. “That’s what’s keeping it closed. Let me just… do you think you could get me one of those roller mines?”
“Uh, sure,” I answered.
I was a little nervous as to what she could want with one of those. Did she want to kill us both because of the ever so slightly hopeless situation? They surely wouldn’t take out the Stalkers, because of which side they were on…
I jumped down to where the tube holding the roller mines was hanging from the ceiling, and I pressed the button to dispense one, but was instead showered with the things. They jumped around for a second, and a few of them attached themselves to my HEV suit.
Luckily there was a lift available, and I rose back up to where Twilight was waiting. Upon seeing me covered in mines, she started to laugh.
“I got one,” I said unnecessarily.
“I noticed!” Twilight giggled. Once she was done, she zapped away all but one of them, which she held in mid-air in another telekinetic sheath.
“Could you hold it for me?” she asked.
“What’re you trying to do?” I said while complying.
“The Doctor showed me how to reset the target systems in these things,” she explained while examining the bleeping ball. “A little burst of magic in just the right place and it’s on our side.”
She apparently found what she was looking for, and true to her word applied a small burst of magic around the centre. The mine immediately switched from a brilliant blue glow to a bright orange one.
“There we go!” Twilight said cheerfully. “It’s a lot more unstable, but it should take out those Stalkers before it explodes.”
I took careful aim and punted the mine down the corridor, where it bounced into the control room and rolled around, bouncing off the Stalkers and apparently killing them. Good. Put them out of their misery.
“Nice work,” said Twilight, and this time the shield stayed open.
Then we heard the PA system.
“Priority warning: sterilizers and containment fields compromised.”
“Smeg, that creeps me out,” I commented.
“What do you mean?” asked Twilight as we ran onwards.
“Voices with no emotion,” I told her. “I don’t know why, but robot voices like that have always been kinda disturbing.”
“I know how you feel,” said Twilight. “Believe me.”
After a few more minutes of running and fighting through some guards who were still protecting the Citadel’s inner workings, we found a hard light bridge. It was obvious we’d have to cross it to continue to the core, but just as more guards were running across to shoot us something malfunctioned in the wall and a massive vortex opened up, dragging the soldiers in and crushing them to little more than bloody pulps.
Twilight and I watched in horror.
“Well, screw that!” she exclaimed.
“We have to cross that?” I shouted. “I can’t believe this! Who the smeg thought it would be a good idea to put that there?!”
“Exactly!” cried Twilight. “It makes absolutely no sense! Why is there something like this here?”
“Yeah!” I replied. “This chapter was badly thought out!”
We both stood and watched the swirling blue vortex of doom for a moment. It would swirl and suck for about three seconds at a time, and then leave a ten second gap in which it was silent.
“You think we can make it?” I asked Twilight.
“Why bother?” she asked in reply.
Half a second later, we were safely on the other side of the bridge, and yet we hadn’t used it.
“Teleportation?” I asked. “Some ponies might call that an arse pull.”
“Hey,” said Twilight moodily, “if you don’t like it, go on the internet and complain. Right now we have a job to do.”
It wasn’t long before we arrived in another room, which was rather dimly lit and made it difficult to see without eye pain. A huge console dominated one wall, while some kind of pneumatic tube occupied the opposite.
“What went on in here?” asked Twilight.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I can’t help but feel like it we use that console, we might find out. Would you like to do the honours?”
Twilight nodded with a small smile, and started tapping away like crazy.
“Good idea,” she said as she worked. “There’s every chance this console has some useful information: we might be able to pin down a safer path to the core. Well, safer than the one we have already.”
“You mean just running in any old direction and hoping it’s the right one?” I suggested. “That usually works.”
She glanced at me with a smile.
“Maybe in your world,” she said, “but in modern Equestria it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
After a little more tapping, a horribly familiar face appeared on the screen.
“I beg you, please; it is Trixie you should be concerned about! Trixie can still deliver each, but not without assistance!” she cried.
“Trixie?!” Twilight yelped, leaping back. “But-but how?!”
“The portal location is unsustainable,” Trixie continued. “There is no possible way for Trixie to survive in that environment! A host body? You have got to be joking; there is no way Trixie could possibly-”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Twilight sighed in relief.
“Just an old recording,” I said. “Just shows how big her ego was.”
“Let me see if I can shut it down,” said Twilight, returning to the control panel.
“Alright, fine!” cried the recorded Trixie. “Just make it fast: they’re right behind me! Oh horseapples.” And she cantered out of shot.
Twilight didn’t have time to finish her shocked explanation, because the maggot thing that had appeared on the screen at the end of Trixie’s conversation – Advisors, they’re called Advisors – reappeared, and on every smaller screen surrounding the big one.
Then a pod appeared in the tube, the top half opened and the face of an Advisor was revealed.
Half a second later, it attacked.
My head has never hurt so much in my life. You want to simulate it? Then find a way to make your head implode. I don’t care if such a thing is physically impossible, FIND A SMEGGING WAY. I swear there was blood trickling over the lenses of my eyes, and on one side of my glasses, the lens cracked as though it had been stamped on.
“Let’s get out of here!” yelled Twilight.
She used her magic to open the next door and we both galloped through like greased lightning, only stopping to breathe when it had slammed closed behind us.
“What’s one of them doing here?” asked Twilight.
“I-I don’t know,” I confessed.
I can hardly remember a time when I’d seen so much horror in Twilight’s beautiful face. Her pupils had shrunk to pinpricks, her whole body was trembling in shock and a cold sweat had broken out on her forehead. So I did the first thing I thought of and wrapped my hooves around her, and she was glad to return the gesture. I could still feel her body shaking, though.
“You look as though you’ve been crying blood,” she commented. “I don’t look like that, do I?”
“No,” I told her, “but I can tell you’re pretty shaken up.”
When we broke apart, we didn’t say a word. We just continued running through the Citadel, and once or twice came upon a broken confiscation field thingy – the things that had destroyed all my weapons when I had first arrived here.
And then we found one that wasn’t destroyed…
“Security alert: unregistered weapons detected. Confiscation field engaged.”
I knew I was in trouble the moment my hooves left the ground. It held me in an almost immobile state. I could hear Twilight calling out to me from the now closed-off corridor, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying.
Once more, the clip was pulled off my horn, and once more it was suspended before me before the field backfired and the clip became supercharged again.
“Warning: counter-resonant singularity device detected,” declared the PA. “Confiscation field failure.”
Finally, the field shut down.
“Security alert: illegal counter-resonant singularity device detected. Deploy; diagnose; dissect.”
“I wish I knew why it did that,” said Twilight, scrutinizing my horn clip.
“Tell you the truth, I do too,” I told her, “but I guess we should be glad it’s made me… say, about half as powerful as you?”
Again, Twilight blushed happily.
You may not believe this, but I never actually got a chance to be the Doctor’s companion. However, I’m beginning to understand what it was like, because right now I’m doing more running than I ever have in my whole life. Sure, there was that bit where I was charging the Citadel in the first place to get to Trixie’s lair, but I was walking almost the entire time. I was conserving my energy for what was to come, and anyway I didn’t really need to hurry.
Plus, I think you’ll find a psychopath is a lot more intimidating when they’re calm than when they’re screaming, because you know they’re going to start screaming at some point: you just don’t know when. And as time goes by it becomes more and more likely that you’ll be the one screaming, and then he’ll stab you in the face or something and I should really get to the point.
The point is Twilight and I were practically hurtling through the bowels of the Citadel. Pretty soon we found another lift, and this one was a lot bigger than all the rest: we could both fit on, but there would have been room for all her friends as well.
Like all the other lifts, it was a simple platform of glass held together by lead lining, and through it we could see just how far down the Citadel went. It was practically a bottomless pit.
“You think this could take us to the core?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Twilight. “We’re definitely on the right track.”
We stepped onto the lift. I snatched an energy ball from one of the channels running up the sides of the shaft, and threw it into a receptacle which immediately started glowing blue, and the lift began descending.
I looked up just in time to see a lump of rubble falling from the ceiling up above. Luckily I caught it and threw it to one side, but then more started falling, and it got to the point where it wasn’t so much an elevator ride as a sick, twisted, vertical game of dodge ball where dodging had the same consequences as getting hit in the face with a bowling ball.
Then the lift stopped.
“What the- Why did it just stop?” I demanded.
Without saying a world, my plucky marefriend pluckily plucked an energy ball from a channel and pluckily shot it into a second receptacle, which pluckily accepted it and we pluckily continued. Plucky, huh?
It wasn’t long before we once again had to catch rubble as it fell from the ceiling. If the glass was indestructible, then it wouldn’t have been a problem, but one well-placed chunk of girder and we’re dancing with Death.
He’s actually a really bad dancer.
Must be something to do with the bones.
“Doesn’t this thing go any faster?” I asked.
“All the lifts in the Citadel are like this!” Twilight pointed out.
“If I didn’t know any better,” I replied, “I’d say it was some kind of conspiracy! Oh smeg, what now?”
The lift had stopped again. There was another receptacle nearby, so it was my turn to fire an energy ball into it, and we set off-
-for about half a second, because the lift stopped as if to say “Nope, not gonna work” and retreated back up.
“Why didn’t that work?” I asked.
“Maybe you did it wrong,” suggested Twilight.
“Twi, I’m shooting an energy ball into a thing which is powered by energy balls,” I pointed out. “I don’t think it’s even possible to go wrong.”
“Still, maybe I should try,” said Twilight. I just shrugged and let her have a go, but it still failed.
Then I saw something else. A red laser had shot at the receptacle just as the ball had gone in, and it had come from a sort of office thing off to the side. More specifically, a Stalker. That’s why they’d been left with their horns.
“It’s that Stalker,” said Twilight. “That’s what’s stopping it! Do you want to take it out?”
Odd. I’d have thought she’d jump at the chance of putting one of those things out of their misery. I’ll have to ask about it later.
Nevertheless, I took careful aim and fired the ball.
It rebounded off the ceiling and walls until it bowled the Stalker over, and then bounced right into the receptacle.
“Nice work!” complimented Twilight as the lift started working again.
“Oh, stop it, you,” I said with mock bashfulness.
The rest of the lift ride down was remotely uneventful, apart from us having to take out a few more renegade soldiers who were still hanging around.
“I don’t know why they’re still here,” I said. “I’d have thought they’d be fleeing to the moon right now.”
“Unless there’s something else,” said Twilight. “Some higher goal they’re trying to accomplish which can only be achieved in the Citadel.”
At long last, the lift completed its journey.
“GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!”
I glanced up just in time to see a mass of metal the size of a small building falling from the ceiling. Twilight and I ran to safety into a nearby corridor, just in time to hear the deafening shatter of glass behind us as the lift was completely and totally annihilated.
“Promise me one thing,” said Twilight.
“Anything,” I replied.
“When this is over,” she said, “you’re taking me on a date. A proper one: dinner, dressing nicely, the works. Because I’m gonna need something to take my mind off this nightmare and going out with you seems like the best idea!”
Glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s getting tired.
“You’ve got a deal,” I said.
And with that, we moved on.