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“C’mon, ith’s almoth here!” yelled the little foal in the yellow jumpsuit as she hopped over a pile of week-old refuse. She landed with a clatter on the other side before sprinting on.
The stallion grunted in acknowledgement, his own heavier hoof-falls only seconds behind her own. Both ponies glanced behind them, looking at the mad, cleaver-wielding pony that was pursuing them through the narrow, junk-filled alleyway. His mad laughter and unbridled urge to kill spurred them on.
The wind wailed.
The high-pitched whine screamed as it twisted over the rooftops of nearby buildings and into the passageway, pieces of loose paper and debris taking flight and rustling in midair.
“Fathter!” screamed the filly. Her voice filled with panic as her back arched and fell with heaving pants beneath the hazmat suit. The stallion’s eyes broke away from her, staring ahead instead. The alley entered a slight curve that emptied out onto one of Ponyville’s large streets. A corpse, flies buzzing around it, marked the threshold from dark alley to unbearably bright street.
Beyond the roadway stood a tall, hollowed-out tree, with a small balcony and thick windows whose shutters were ripped and torn. Clouds high above the tree hovered and shifted, raining fear, despair, and wind upon the tree’s thick branches.
“Getsh to tha library!” she screamed, giving a last burst of speed that shot her out of the alleyway. Her rear hoof clipped the body, sending her plummeting against the ground. With a loud crack, the glass front of her suit impacted the paved roadway, smashing itself into a hundred pieces that sparkled as they skidded across the road. She looked up, revealing a white face framed by a red mane, thick purple glasses hanging askew beneath her cut forehead. “Help!” she squeaked to the stallion.
He skidded to a halt, hooves screeching as they scuffed along the road. Twisting around, he scooped up the filly and threw her onto his back with a shared oomph.
“Go, go, go, go, go! It’sh coming!” she hollered from atop his back, a note of relief mixed into the panic.
The wind howled.
He bent forward, his legs thumping in time with that of the screaming mad-pony who followed at his tail. The pony waved rusty cleaver that sliced through and past the wind. Bolting forward,the stallion reached the library’s front door. The door was closed firmly as the stallion rammed it. His shoulder dug painfully into the hard wood until the rusting hinges gave, spilling both him and the filly into the library.
Getting up in a hurry, the stallion twisted around. The soft material of his coat swished along the ground as he gave the door a swift kick. The door shivered with a dull thud that had a ring of finality to it.
Bump, bump, bump...
For a few seconds nothing happened. Only the wind moved, howling around the tree, making the entire building moan. “I’m going to eat you!” screamed a muffled voice from the other side of the thick door.
Looking around quickly, the stallion spotted a large, toppled bookshelf, its contents piled in a heap at its base. Running to its side, he began to pushing, grunting as the heavy shelves moved in front of the entrance.
Both ponies lay still, staring intently at the door while it shook and shivered violently. Finally, it stopped. The mad-pony’s heavy panting muffled by the thick wood. Hoofsteps on paving sounded out as he abandoned the chase. “I’m going to get you little girl, I’m going to eat you, I’m going to open you up...” the mad-pony’s mutters faded into obscurity.
“Ah, I think it’th gone,” said the filly, her entire body shaking as she tried to remove the helmet of her suit.
The stallion watched her, head cocked to one side while she struggled with the latches. Walking forward, he reached out a hoof and touched the helmet. The filly flinched, backing away from him suddenly with her eyes wide and her lips trembling.
He sat down, raising his forehooves in surrender.
“Oh,” she said, bowing her head in shame. “Thorry, I thought... never mind. You can help me, I gueth.” The filly leaned forward, a few pieces of glass falling out of the helmet and onto the library’s wooden floor.
A quick twist of his hoof later and the hazmat suit’s helmet plopped off her head, rolling on the floor. “Thank you, misther... Tho, what’th your name?” asked the white and red filly, her scared face looking up to his, eyes fixated on the two glass panes of his mask.
The stallion didn’t answer. Instead, he got up and looked at the entirety of the room. Books, scrolls, and even a few pens and quills lay strewn about the floor. Most thrown haphazardly, but some stacked in a semblance of order. A staircase at the opposite end of the room led upwards and into another closed off area. “My name’s Twitht,” said the filly as she moved a step closer to him. He cast her a furtive glance, then resumed his search.
She took another step, placing herself between him and the rest of the room. “We-we can thtay here, I guethh. The wind never thayth for long, and... and the crazy ponieth have a thort attention thpan...”
“Move,” he said, gently placing a hoof on her tiny shoulder and pushing her aside. She obliged, gasping as he made contact with her coat.
For a short while she remained quiet, brooding over the situation as she sat near the door, with her eyes fixated upon him. Every few seconds he would peek at her, looking into her pink eyes. “Tho,” she asked. “What happened to you?”
“Nothing.” The stallion grabbed a few books, tossing them aside after a cursory glance at the cover.
“Nothing? How could nothing have happened? Everything went crazy, the whole town got dethtroyed!” The filly walked forward, her small brows furrowed as she talked about her horrifying tale. “I hid under my bed, like a baby. Mommy went out, tho did daddy. Haven’t theen them thince. When I went outthide I fou--” Her voice cut off as the stallion shoved a hoof into her gaping mouth.
“Shut up,” he said, gently removing his hoof from her lips and pressing it to his own, “Shh.” Two sets of ears perked up. They were met with only silence. “Too quiet.”
“The wind ith gone,” said Twist, a small shudder escaping her. “It never thtayth for long.”
“Right.” He trotted around her, hoof-falls silent as they tapped against the soft covers of books. “Let’s make it quick.”
“Let’th? Wait! Doeth that... doeth that mean you’ll let me come with you?” Tears lined her pink as the filly grabbed at his old, rough coat.
The stallion sighed, hoof rubbing at his temple as he turned to look at her. “Maybe.”
“Really? Really, really? Oh, thank you tho much!” she yelled, grabbing the wide-eyed stallion in a tiny hug. “I thought I wath alone, It’th tho thcary out there, I-I-I...” Tears marked his coat where her face rubbed against it. The filly sobbed, her body wracking up and down as it sobbed uncontrollably.
“There... there?” he said, patting her back awkwardly.
“I-I’m thorry,” she said between sniffles, wiping a tear off of her cheek. “You’re the firtht non-crazy pony I’ve thee--” Her small, sad rant was interrupted by the hungry growl of her stomach.
Both ponies stared at each other, the silence thick until a tiny smile cracked along her face. First she began laughing, only to be quickly joined by the stallion. The sound contrasted oddly against the bleak surroundings and the dull, dark tones of the room.
“I have some food,” said the stallion as he took a step back from the filly. Reaching around, he opened his saddlebags and pulled out a dented tin can, labeled with the faded image of carrots. Holding the can in his mouth, he moved towards the back of the room, tilting his head at her to follow him.
She complied, a minuscule smile still on her face.
The stallion moved into the next room, his broad shoulders pushing the door aside before they both entered the kitchen. Dust speckled the air, tainting it with the stink of week-old meals that sat on the carved, wooden counter-tops.
He ignored the counter-tops, instead heading straight for the cupboards and opening them all. Eventually he found what he was looking for: two bowls and two forks. Holding his bounty in his hooves he placed them on his back before trotting back to the main room, a curious Twist in tow.
Arriving in the library proper, he dumped the two bowls on the ground and threw the forks into them. “Can opener, little pocket, back,” he instructed the filly.
For a few seconds she stared at him, her expression blank as she worked out what he meant. “Oh.” Reaching into his saddlebag she pulled out the device and passed it over.
With an expert twist, the older pony popped the lid off the can and poured its contents into the two bowls in equal portions with tiny plops of the orange goop. “Eat,” he said, sliding the bowl towards the filly.
Eagerly, and without giving thanks, Twist dug into the bowl, morsels sticking to her face and running down her chin as she gobbled it up. Suddenly, she brought her head up, a few slices of carrot still stuck to her face. “You’re not eating, mithter?”
The stallion shook his head before grabbing his own bowl and turning around, back towards the filly. His mask, a dark and dirty thing, hit the ground with a squishy thump.
“Ith everything okay, mithter?”
He didn’t reply.
Curiosity getting the best of her, Twist leaned forward, trying to see over his large shoulder. “No,” he said, voice firm and clear as it boomed in the large room.
Twist squeaked, her red mane standing on edge as she backed away. Gulping, she slowly returned to her meal, eating it in a slightly more subdued fashion. Moments later, she licked her lips happily, her stomach rounding out as it was filled.
“Tho, what’th your goal?” she asked cheerfully, the happiness out of place within the desolate building.
The stallion stopped his own slurping, and his back straightened as he stood up. “What kind of question is that?”
The filly blushed a little. “W-well-well daddy always thaid that everypony hath to have a goal, and that that goal told you a lot about them... I mean, if you don’t mind.”
He sighed, a hoof reaching down and grabbing his gas mask. “I made a mistake, I want to correct it. Ponyville had the keys, they’re gone. I need answers.”
“What kinda quethtions?”
The stallion glared at her until her smile faded, and her mouth shut of its own accord. Slowly, he turned, grabbed the still half-full bowl, and dropped it in front of her. “Eat, I’ll search.”
The stallion walked around, head low and scanning books while Twist ravenously jumped into the new bowl, slurping its contents. Having finished, she lifted her head and let out a loud burp. “All done!” she exclaimed before flopping onto her back, her huge belly making a mound under the thick, yellow hazmat suit.
Twist followed the stallion’s progress as he shuffled around the books, tossing aside those that didn’t suit his needs or irked him. “What are you looking for?” she asked again, earning another glare. “Thorry...”
“I’m looking for anything that will tell me what happened to the mare who lived here.” he said as he tossed another book aside in disgust.
“You mean, Mith Twilight?” He shot her another look. “Thorry, I thwear I’ll thut up! Pinkie Promith!!”
“No, tell me more about her!”
The filly’s brows furrowed. “Um, she’s really nice?
“No, I need to know what happened to her! A journal, a diary, newspaper clippings, anything!”
The filly hummed as she thought, one hoof pressed against her chin. “Maybe you thould look at her log?”
The stallion stopped dead in his tracks. “A log?”
“Yeth, she kept a log of everything that happened. I thaw her with it once or twithe...” Twist trailed off as the stallion rushed towards her, placing himself only inches away from her face.
“Where does she keep it?”
Gulping, Twist lifted a hoof and pointed towards the door at the top of the staircase. “There, I think.”
Twisting around, the stallion ran towards the staircase, scattered pages fluttering in the air as he trampled and kicked them out of his way. He took the stairs two at a time, his hoof-falls thundering throughout the building until he reached the door.
His hoof reached out and touched the cold metallic handle lightly before he began twisting it, the rusting mechanism squeaking in protest. The door swung inwards, the resulting draft of wind sending pieces of paper flying across the empty room.
He walked in, eyes surveying the bedroom. In the centre of the floor lay a tiny bed, like one used for a dog or other large pet. Bookshelves lined the walls, these ones untouched by anything but the light sprinkle of dust that came naturally to the unkempt house. He kept searching, above and beneath the tiny well-pressed bed, past the window and its sill that held pages of notes filled with scientific jargon and mathematical equations. Finally, he reached a desk, this one holding only one thing: a notebook.
He grabbed it, flicking it open to the first page.
The stallion shook his head, trying to make sense of the words on the page. He flipped onwards through the book.
Four days before the yearly celebration of Winter Wrap Up.
Interesting series of events today. I have received a letter from my mentor, Princess Celestia. Something has happened in the northern region of Manehattan and she immediately dispatched the Canterlot Royal Guard.
Hopefully it’s not the changelings again.
Also of note, my brother, Shining Armour, and his new wife, and by extension my sister-in-law, Cadence, happen to be in the region. I’m positive that Shining Armour will get to the bottom of this!
With Winter Wrap Up only a few days away, I have put some of my smaller projects on hold. Spike will aid me to keep the larger ones running. I guess the party cannon test fire will have to wait.
Three days until the yearly celebration of Winter Wrap Up.
The entirety of the Royal Guard has been wiped out.
Celestia sent me the letter and, judging by her familiar quill strokes, it was hastily written. Still uncertain of what has happened. Manehattan is evacuating down towards Canterlot.
The biggest problem, other than communication failures, seems to be that nopony knows what caused this. The guards were found with injuries, ranging from light to grave, and I am very saddened to say that three have died from lung failure.
Celestia is dispatching letter after letter here, seeking my advice. Honestly, this is really confusing and giving Spike quite the tummy ache.
Her last letter of the day kindly asked me not to reveal this to anypony, and to keep on with my life.
No news of my brother.
Winter Wrap Up.
Today was actually quite good. The work gave me something amusing to ponder on, and everything went exactly as planned.
Second day of Spring.
It’s coming this way.
We’re still not sure what “It” is, but the last letter for Princess Celestia confirms that “it” is heading towards Canterlot. And, if it continues along that same path, it will reach Ponyville within three days!
I received a package full of hazmat suits. I’ll start distribution today.
Ponies from Manehattan have begun to arrive. We need to find shelter and provisions.
The stallion eagerly turned the page, the sun’s dying light doing little to help him read it. With a huff, he picked up the book and trotted out of the room and down the staircase.
Twist was waiting for him, her small body leaning sideways against a knee-high pile of books as her chest rose and fell. Both of her eyes were closed and tiny, whistling snores escaped her.
He looked at her for a while, uncertain, before shaking his head and returning to the centre of the room. The stallion sat down at one of the writing desks before he turned around and fiddled with the insides of his saddle bags. Moments later he pulled out the stub of a candle and a small flint.
With a raspy scratch, the flint lit the candle, creating a small haven of light within the quickly darkening library.
Fourth day of Spring.
News from Canterlot. More accurately, from Princess Luna. She’s preparing to send a special envoy our way, Hazmat suits, supplies, soldiers. Basically everything we could need to keep going for a while. It sounds serious.
The Elements are on their way. I have yet to tell my friends.
The evacuees are getting restless, as are the townsponies. I have the impression that tomorrow’s going to be a hard day and, yet, nopony seems aware of it.
They look so happy.
Fifth day of Spring
Everything is so quiet today. No wind, and np birdsongs, just quiet. I know why, but nopony else does.
I received a letter, another from Luna. The instructions were simple: get my friends and get out. She teleported a huge box into my house; it contained the Elements of Harmony. I’m supposed to leave with my friends in the morning and head West, to Appleloosa.
This might be the last time I see this town. Took a walk today, I was a little dazed.
I’ll try to get some sleep.
Sixth Day of Spring
Applejack was injured last night, visited her today and gave her a few things to pass the time. Later on today I’ll go fetch her on my own. Now I need to convince everypony to get moving. I’ll warn as many as possible today and we can start the evacuations tomorrow morning.
First thing in the morning, I’ll go out and round everypony up. I won’t have a lot of time to explain, but that’s okay, they might not have the time to protest.
So many ponies are going to be hurt. But if we fail, all of Equestria might fall.
Goddess, protect us.
I’m missing something. There’s a nagging feeling and it makes my mane stand on end. I know I’ve seen it... it’s in my face, but I’m missing it.
Today’s the day.
He turned the page, looking expectantly at the blank sheet that greeted him. With a frustrated grunt, the stallion slapped the book closed, the snap of the pages booming through the quiet library.
Twist gasped, her body becoming rigid with fear before she began shivering uncontrollably in the cold room. Two little, pink eyes searched the room frantically beneath the reflection of candle light on her glasses.
“Sorry,” he whispered in a hoarse voice. Reaching out, he grabbed the log and chucked it into his saddlebag.
“Ith-ith every...” began Twist, her body still pale.
“Everything’s fine, I just didn’t find what I was looking for.” The stallion got up, his limbs creaking as he trotted over to her. “Are you cold?” he asked.
The filly looked up to him. Eyes roving across the shadow-covered form of his thick legs, strong neck and to his masked face. The tab on his mask popped in and out with his even breathing. She gulped, shrugging back down towards the dirty ground.
He sighed, shaking his head from side to side before reaching into his saddlebag with a hoof. A blanket, thick and made of good wool, came out in a tight square which he unfolded as he threw it over her. The entire thing covered her until she poked her head out of its corner.
“Oh, um, thankth?”
“Scoot over,” he ordered as he shrugged off his heavy bags, letting them thump loudly against the ground before he pulled up the blanket.
The stallion dove under it, his body pressing against hers as he laid down and shuffled himself until comfortable. For a while, Twist remained tense, her eyes constantly glancing towards him. Finally, she spoke, “Tho, what’th going to happen?”
“What do you mean?” he replied, his voice thick with drowsiness.
“I mean, did you find what you were looking for?”
“Are you going to keep thearching?”
“What are yo--” She cut herself off as he twisted to look at her. “Too many quethtionth?” she asked, a tiny, nervous smile crossed her lips.
His chest rose and fell in a sigh. “One last question. More than that, you lose the blanket.”
She smiled, her cheeks puffing out as she grinned. “Thankth... tho, what are we going to do tomorrow?”
“We’re going to the hospital.”
“Wh--” she began before choking on her own words. A smaller smile remained on her face as she leaned forward, resting her chin between her forelegs. “Thank you, mithter. Thank you very much.”
The stallion grunted, settling himself before he too leaned down.
“Good night,” she said in a sigh, her eyes lidding over, “...you’re very nice mithter.”
The stallion’s eyes stayed open for the rest of the long, long night as her pondered the little filly that lay at his side.
It was Twist!
You could say that it was...
A plot Twist!
*Readers shoot author*
Bearycool joined us this time!
Also I’m saving up for Battlefront Two, cause that game was insane!