All character rights reserved by their owners. All rights to game concept of Halo copyrighted to Bungie.
One lavender hoof pulled the left stick back. The realistic purple-suited unicorn on the screen took a step back. Twilight pulled on the right stick. The view shifted to the right slightly, allowing her a view down her avatar's side. It looked exactly like High Command, but in a soft shade of purple. As much as she liked it, there were some issues she had with her depiction.
"Rainbow, why am I a stallion?"
"Eh, sorry, Twi. I'm not really sure how you change that stuff. The advertisements all said you can change colours and shapes and even get your cutie mark printed on your armor. Let's figure it out after we do... whatever it is ponies do in this game."
Rainbow pushed the left stick towards the TV, or teevee as she prefered, and her character broke into a run. "Alrighty, I got my movin' down. Left, right, easy. Now, right stick thingy to use magic, right?"
"I think so."
Rainbow pushed the small gray button hidden in the controller's right stalk. Her character's horn lit up the same pale green as the spell's name and fired a single ball of light forward at a blistering speed. Next to the portion of Rainbow's HUD that held her currently equipped spell, a pale green meter in the shape of a book lost a small portion of its colour. "Whoa, awesome! Twilight, did you see that?"
"Yeah, I did. It looks just like the Rapid-fire Round spell I learned in school."
"What's it do?"
"It's a weak spell, but it's the most basic combat magic anypony knows. The caster fires pebble-like magic toward the target, causing minimal damage, but a held stream can be devastating to a pony. I'm guessing all our abilities are going to be based off real magic, then." Twilight barely managed to suppress her smile as she imagined what other magic would be in this game.
"So, it's more effective if you keep it going?" Twilight nodded. Rainbow clicked the small button again, holding it down a few seconds longer than before. Her avatar's horn glowed again, and a dozen green projectiles shot forth in the space of a second. "Haha, yeah! This is great! Oh man, I hope there's more spells to find!" Twilight had to admit, the game was great so far, and they had only just discovered the basic mechanics of it. Twilight's avatar now moved exactly as she wanted it to.. She spun her left hoof clockwise. The armored unicorn spun in place. Easy-peasy. A glimmer of light reflected off the red coloured button as she shifted in her fluffy chair. Curious as to their intended functions, she tapped her right back leg against one of the coloured buttons. Her character sprang up a good two feet. "Ooh, Rainbow, press the green button to jump!"
"I saw. What do the others do?"
While Rainbow's character ran around willy-nilly, spraying magical gunfire across every available surface, Twilight tapped each button in order. "Green makes you jump, the red one makes you kick in front of you, the blue doesn't do anything, and the yellow one seems to do nothing as well. Hey, try to find me!"
Adapting quickly to the controls, Twilight tilted her camera upward, following the pinpoint reticule up to a cloud. She then depressed the right stalk in, firing a constant rush of green missiles upward. On Rainbow's half of the screen, a jagged line of green light shot skyward a short distance away. "Ok, keep doing that, and I'll try to make it over there." Jumping a few times for practice, Rainbow moved her virtual self over to the lilac armored pony. It was easier than she thought. The pegasus' unicorn character bounced around Twilight's a few times, taunting her.
"Hah, made it in three seconds flat! C'mon, let's see if you can catch me!" Still firing, Twilight turned her camera down to face Rainbow's avatar and run after her, unintentionally pointing the spell straight at her friend's faceplate. Rainbow's half of the screen became a maelstrom of green light, warning beeps, and flaring red light as a bar that appeared on the screen drained itself rapidly. She had no time to react before the stallion on the screen groaned and keeled over, dead as a doornail. Twilight pushed her controller away from herself, horrified.
"Oh, sweet Celestia, I just killed somepony..."
Rainbow's jaw had dropped the second her avatar died, and she turned to Twilight. "Wait, we're supposed to kill each other!? What kind of game is this!?" The real Twilight's horn glowed magenta, and the container for the game levitated to her side. She read over all the details she could, stopping at a white box in the corner. She read it aloud. "Warning, this game is rated M for Mares and Stallions. Contains excessive violence, gore, and coarse language. Do not sell to or permit anypony under the age of eighteen to play this game. Rainbow, I think this is a war game!"
Before Rainbow could respond, a timer began beeping and counting down. After four seconds, the cyan stallion regenerated in a new location. "Awwwww YEAH! Back from the dead to take names and kick flanks! Oh, hey, check that out!" Slightly to the left of her character's view, a navy-coloured book hovered and rotated, radiating light. The cover bore a picture of a duck in a crosshair. Twilight wrested the manual from the pink box, opening it to a section marked "Hooves Up Display." She began skimming it, finding it full of semi-obvious information. Turning a few pages, she found what she was searching for. "Okay, here's the section on magic. Let's see... Okay. See that book in the corner of your screen?"
"Yeah. What about it?"
"It says the book will lose its colour as you use your magic, eventually emptying and rendering the spell useless. 'Take books from the open world or from the bodies of your foes to replenish your energy.' It even has a guide showing what the different spells look like and do. That blue one there is the Primal Shout spell. 'A powerful, medium-high-cost spell that shreds nearby enemies to ribbons. At range, deals less damage than hurtful words. Penetrates defenses equally.' Here, pick it up, and try to find me again."
Rainbow obliged, running her character over the floating tome. The avatar's horn now shimmered with deep blue light, and the colour of the book in the upper corner of her screen switched to navy. Beside it, the legend 'Primal Shout' appeared in the same hue. It took Rainbow little time to find Twilight again, this time keeping her distance. "Alright, let's try it out. Cast the spell at my pony from there, and we'll see how it works."
Rainbow snickered and opened fire. BOOM! Her character shouted, and small rays of navy light spread across her screen. Two hit Twilight, causing her health bar, as she now knew it was, to appear and decrease by eight percent. "Aww... Is that all it can do?"
"No, it says the closer you are to the target you wish to hit, the greater damage it will take. Step closer and try again." Rainbow's avatar trotted closer, almost to contact distance, and shouted again. Four seconds later, Twilight's deceased avatar flopped back to the earth it had been forcefully catapulted from, blood spattering the ground as it landed. The two friends stared at the screen.
"I think it's right about getting closer and being stronger."
"Yeah... Geez, that was messy. What other spells have we got to play with?"
Twilight focused her magic on the manual, copying the 'Spellbook' page's information into a hologramatic projection five times the size of the original. Rainbow's eyes scanned through the selection of different magical artillery.
Blue book- Primal Shout. A powerful, medium-high-cost spell that shreds nearby enemies to ribbons. At range, deals less damage than hurtful words. Penetrates defenses equally.
Orange book- Bird's Eye. An immensely powerful, super-accurate spell used for long-distance strikes. Eats up energy like none of your business, but if aimed at the head guarantees a kill. Does not fire quickly whatsoever, pointless at melee distance.
Black book- Fire Breath. Keep a constant stream of flames on a target to set them alight, causing damage over time. Low cost-per-use, but diminshes quickly as spell is eneffective unless held down. Minimal range.
Red book- Hyper Beam. The most expensive spell of all. Fire a red-hot rail of death in a perfectly straight line across any kind of distance. Guaranteed kill on contact. Will only work five times before draining reserves. Must rest after use.
Pink book- Critical Crystals. Pink crystals pierce the opponent's armor and forcefield at low damage to both. Massive use due to low cost. Additionally, if the opponent receives enough crystals in a row, their magical resonance overloads, detonating the poor pony like a firecracker at a birthday party. Good range, minor tracking capabilities.
Purple book- The Ear-Piercer. Similar to Rapid-fire Round, but stronger, with a slightly higher cost. Can be dual-cast if picked up twice. Alone, useless to forcefields. Combined, conjured metal spikes demolish all in your immediate path. Weakens at range, but still somewhat useful.
Gray book- Concussion Pulse. A melee-range spell which uses gravity against the opponent, crushing them and flinging them skyward. Low use capacity due to high strength. Crumples armor, weak against forcefields.
White book- Laser Horn. Run enemies through in style with a blade of light from your horn. Eats up energy, but effective against forcefields and armor equally.
Olive book- Magic Missile. Does exactly as it sounds like. Good tracking capabilities. Strong against forcefields, fatal against armor. Cuts through energy in only eight casts.
Indigo book- Heat Ray. The anti-forcefield equivalent to the Ear-Piercer. Can be dual-cast to annihilate forcefields and break through armor. Highest cost of any non-magic-of-mass-destruction spell.
Yellow book- The Unmentionable. Low energy cost blast of magic with minor tracking capabilities. Immense damage and explosion, essentially fatal unless dodged. Pierces forcefields and armor equally. Rarely appears in multipony. If seen, grab immediately and conquer the field.
Rainbow whistled at the selection, impressed with the absurd amount of power these spells contained. Twilight recognized all the spells, even those with new names. "Ear-Piercer? Unmentionable? Who comes up with these names?"
"Somepony awesome, that's who! Oh man, we need to play more! I wanna see what kinda mayhem we can get up to!"
"Hold on, Rainbow, there's auxiliary spells, too. They come in little pamphlets, it seems. 'Press the Right Rectangle on the controller to fire an auxiliary spell at an arc. Pamphlets are single-use spellbooks containing auxiliary spells. The four types are standard explosive, jelly-bombs, Party-Piercers, and fireballs.' It says the explosives just explode, the jelly-bombs stick to things, the Piercers explode spikes everywhere and stick to things, and the fireballs are just fireballs. Yeesh, you think they gave us enough killing power?"
"One way to find out!"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Four hours later, the two mares struggled to keep their eyes open. The scoreboard that appeared after every kill left them nearly matched at 432-415, in Twilight's favour. Despite the unusual amount of fun she was having blasting holes into her friend, she could feel her magic beginning to slip away. "Rainbow? Can we pick this up tomorrow? If I stay any longer on these nice fluffy clouds," she yawned, scratching her stomach uncharacteristically, "I'm going to be a splatter across the ground tomorrow morning. That okay?"
Rainbow was nestled into her cloud throne, pulling the arm over herself like a blanket. "Yuh-huh. Turn the teevee off before you go, please. I bought the game, so it's fair." Twilight couldn't argue with this, and stepped over to the overly-warm XBUCKS. She set a hoof onto the top surface, gently pressing down on the nearly invisible on/off button. Making sure Rainbow was asleep, she looked to the machine.
"You and me? We're gonna be best friends."
To be continued