I'm just here to write.
96w, 23hHuman in Equestria
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Second looked into the camera. A little red light on the side indicated it was recording. Behind him, one could see the four poster bed and ornate, regal decorations of Celestia's bedroom in Canterlot Castle, which he had since claimed as his own after a successful invasion. He sighed and folded his arms, leaning back in a chair.
"Alright...Where to begin..." he said to himself, "Well, I guess with the situation..."
He sat up.
"I'm recording this, because...Shit. Okay, trying again. I'm recording this, because about half an hour ago, my brother died in front of me. And he had some words for me. Words that were important. I've been thinking them over since then...and I've just been wondering how to feel. My big brother. My stupid big brother, who's responsible for all my suffering, and may yet have saved my life...
"I...Would it be accurate to say I have regrets? I'm not so sure. I still believe he deserved every single punch I gave him. I still don't actually feel sorry he 'died', for reasons I'm about to explain. I certainly don't feel bad about anything I've done to the ponies of this world. Fuck them. They're all under-evolved, subhuman peasants, even the royalty. But all the same, I look down at that blighted landscape, that the zombie horde now crawls over, and I feel...something. I'm not sure what. Disappointment maybe? Resentment? I think it's fear.
"Yes. Fear. Not of them. I made them. I have nothing to fear from them. But I fear what they represent. They're something I willingly unleashed on this world, and I don't fully understand why. Zombie apocalypses are funny. I thought it'd be good for a laugh. Then again though, I also thought that they'd be stopped in Canterlot. As it turns out, they weren't. Even though they're basically mindless, they still figured out how to use the portal stations, and now they're spreading across all of Equestria. Go figure.
"Last I heard they were already overrunning some small town outside Canterlot called Rainbow's Rest, and individual zombies were spotted as far away as Baltimare. Though, as it turns out the inhabitants of this cartoon world are a little more savvy than your average zombie movie character, because in all towns where the outbreak was small enough they've been quarantining the victims and themselves to keep them safe and the infection contained.
"I heard that the zombie pegasi can no longer fly for some inane reason, so Cloudsdale is Equestria's number one safe zone right now, and the pegasi are working overtime to make sure all the quarantined cities are getting food. Normally the food suppliers across the country would just take regular delivery routes, but everything's going by air now to avoid zombie attacks.
"I'm glad. I honestly am. That means getting a snack is as simple as shooting some stupid fuck out of the sky.
"Whatever though. I'm way off topic. I wanted to talk about what they represent to me, and that's all down to something my brother said with his final words. But...I can't really talk about his final words without talking about how he died...And I can't talk about that without talking about why I attacked him in the first place. And that my friends, is a long story indeed.
"So let me start at the beginning. Let me take you back to my youth. 1970s, small town Texas, where a God was born."
Second and Nathan met in the middle of the room and punched at each other at the exact same time, both with their right arms. Both humans hit the other in the cheek, and both withdrew and staggered back in perfect synchronisation. They took a moment to recover and then ran towards each other again. This time, they didn't punch, and instead went into a grapple.
Nathan head-butted Second and kneed him in the crotch while he was distracted. Second followed up with a roundhouse kick that floored his brother immediately. He didn't stay down for long though, and flipped back onto his feet effortlessly and flew at Second with a flying kick that he just barely dodged.
His enemy a big enough distance away, Second threw a hand out and shot a blast of energy at him. To his surprise though, Nathan turned out to share more of his powers than just the regeneration, and he leapt almost to the ceiling to avoid the explosion, landing clear on the other side of the room, right by Celestia's throne.
"THIS IS POINTLESS, HOWARD!" he shouted, "YOU'RE JUST WASTING ENERGY!"
Second reached up towards the ceiling. He channelled his telekinesis and ripped blocks of stone out of the walls around them. They gathered near him and swirled around like a tornado. With a motion of his arm, he sent them shooting across the throne room at Nathan, who avoided them with a series of flips and jumps, in some cases actually flipping off the projectiles midair.
The stone blocks hit the wall behind him and shattered into dust.
"I DIDN'T WANT TO DO THIS!"
The human began to glow. At first, Second stopped in his tracks, wondering what he was about to unleash. Then, Nathan burst into flames, and grew to an enormous size. He became an great titan of fire, which soon solidified into glowing red skin, though flames still danced over his body. He was playing to his brother's worst fear.
"YOU AREN'T SCARING ME OFF, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!" Second shouted up at him.
The ground beneath him burst up, and a column of stone rose from the floor until he was level with the fire titan. More and more bricks flew off the walls, just like when he was summoning them to attack Nathan. This time though, they instead formed around him, and soon he was buried within a huge mountain of stone, that came together to give him a golem-like body of the same size and power as the fire titan that Nathan commanded.
He opened his eyes, and saw the world through the golem's. Its body was now his, and he pointed a giant stone finger at Nathan.
"ROUND TWO, ASSHOLE!"
Nathan's fire titan planted a fist in the golem's stomach, but Howard wasn't stupid enough to allow him to feel this body's pain, so it was just a distant sensation. He grabbed the titan's right arm with his left, and used his free one to smash it at the elbow, almost snapping it off. Nathan evidently also couldn't feel the pain of his avatar's body, and ignored it, instead opening its mouth and spewing magma over the golem's front.
Second's golem fell backwards and had to support itself on one of the walls of the tall building. Nathan stepped forward.
"YOU KEEP FUCKING PUSHING ME, HOWARD!" he screamed, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?! WHY DID YOU ALWAYS ANTAGONISE ME?!"
"BECAUSE YOU WERE A CUNT!"
Second kicked the fire titan's legs out from under it, and it fell on its front. He wound up another kick and sent it flying into the opposite wall. It jumped up again and ran across the throne room to grab the golem by the throat and hold it up against the wall.
"JUST FUCKING STOP IT!"
Nathan was surprised as a comparatively tiny pegasus in power armour flew up in front of his face and launched several missiles at his hand, blowing it off and causing him to drop Second. She turned and stared right into his huge eyes.
"You leave him alone!" she ordered.
Nathan grabbed her out of the air as if she were a fly, and held her between a finger and a thumb.
"STAY OUT OF THIS, MORTAL. THE GODS ARE FIGHTING."
He casually flicked her to the other side of the room, where she hit the wall and was seemingly knocked unconscious. She tumbled to the floor, and in the few seconds Nathan spent watching her, Second was back on his feet and had rugby tackled him. He ran across the room at full speed, carrying the fire titan by the legs, before impacting the wall so hard that they broke right through it, went flying out of the palace, and emerged into Canterlot, where they both immediately fell into the moat.
Ancient Tome emerged into the cargo hold of the Prometheus, fully dressed in his old warlock robes and carrying his sword with him. Iron Hoof and Night Shroud followed close behind him. He warily avoided the giant turd as he approached the group of ponies who were watching the two princesses hugging in the middle of the hold.
He was interested to see an apparently intelligent Zombie Celestia present, but the last few days had been nothing but a constant barrage of strangeness, and he was quickly becoming accustomed to such things. He tried to ignore them as he approached the Elements of Harmony.
They all turned to face him. Ancient Tome noted sadly that his son hid behind Softy's legs when he saw who it was.
"What do you want?" Gold Coin asked bitterly.
"Help," Tome answered, to their surprise, "In case you haven't forgotten, this airship is crawling with demons. There are at the very least two of them still running around, and that's not even accounting for all the other weirdness we have to check out. Sun Rise was on board somewhere when we were in flight, and we haven't seen him leave yet. We've been watching the entrances and exits closely. There's no way he could have gotten off this ship without unicorn magic, which he may well have, but we don't know that.
"Then there's the small matter of the ponies of Canterlot, all of whom are currently zombified and inside of your friend, while we have a cure readily available on this ship in the form of Authority. We may be able to devise a way to cure them all at once while still inside him, and he can reject them again intact.
"We've got the dragons to think of who accompanied you and Spike. We have no idea where they went. You left a lot of your equipment all over the ship. We still don't know what that damn blue box is, and this ship needs to be checked for sabotage before it can fly again, and we need to get it flying again because me and my friends have somepony waiting for us back in Secopolis, in need of rescue."
"I don't see why-" Gold Coin began.
"Goldie, now's not the time," Soft Spoken interrupted, "Mister Tome, we will assist you, on the agreement that we cease hostilities here. That means no more violence, and no more threats, and I mean that in regards to all of us. Not just myself, but to Gold Coin too, to your son, Spike, the princesses, and everypony else here. We're all on the same side. It's time you started acting like it."
Ancient Tome grumbled.
"Fine," he agreed, "Truce for now. Come on, we have much to do..."
"See, when I was a kid, the dynamic in our house was not that of a nuclear family, though it began that way. There were seven of us. My father, my mother, myself, Brian, Nathan, grandpa, and the dog. The dog was called Rover, because my dad was unoriginal.
"Anyway, that was just early days. My grandpa was around when I was first born, yes, but I only know that through pictures and what my elders told me. He died when I was two, so I remember nothing about the man. He was my dad's dad, I think. I'm not sure what killed him. Probably some kind of illness. But he wasn't the last to go.
"My mother died when I was eight. I don't remember her well either. When you're eight, you're already smart enough to be learning and talking, but you don't remember stuff too well. I don't really remember much earlier than when I was fourteen. So those years are a blur, and unfortunately, so is she. I wish I had known her better.
"My point though, is that without her, the family had a strange way of getting by, one which I was sure at the time was unique to us. I had two older brothers, as I said. Nathan was seven years older than me, and Brian was four. They got along well enough with each other, and me and Brian were also okay, but Nathan hated me.
"There was never any particular reason for it. I was the little brother. I was annoying and had a screechy voice, and all my friends that I brought around were the same. I'd charge about and cause chaos, and I often made a mess. Great fun if you're a kid, but I guess a moody, older teenage brother is less tolerant of that kind of shit.
"So we would fight. Yeah, I was little and he was not. So our fights often ended with me crying. That didn't stop me from initiating them though, because they were great sporty fun for a lad my age, and I knew I could get away with them. I'd get disciplined sometimes, but it wasn't like dad actively tried to step in and sort things. For the most part, if I didn't listen to the warnings telling me to fuck off, Nathan basically had to beat the shit out of me, because there was no other way to get the message across.
"See, after both mom and grandpa died in a short span of years, father had just stopped caring. He continued to work and buy food, he'd cook some awful crap and put it in front of us, fill out forms or whatever was needed for school and take us to the hospital in the rare instance that something serious would happen. Beyond that though, he just didn't bother. He did the bare minimum he needed to, and nothing more.
"This made an interesting power dynamic in later years. Dad was clearly responsible for taking care of all of us, but by the time he was eighteen, it was quite clear that Nathan was the man of the house. Brian would sooner listen to him than dad, and so would I. And dad? He just didn't care. He was content to let us stay there and do nothing, as long as it didn't bother him. He never even asked us to do chores or get a job when we reached the appropriate age. It's like he had no expectations for us at all.
"And then there was Brian. Talking about it from the perspective of the youngest brother, you'd think I had it worst. Really though, I think it was Brian who life was hardest on. He was the middle kid. He got on with both of us, and when we were constantly in conflict, he kept having to pick a side. That means that no matter what happened, one of us was always pissed at him at any given time. We were both quick to forgive him, but...
"See, this divided loyalties thing was always tough on him, but that's just when it was me and Nathan. Now, when Nathan finally became a man however, suddenly he was on the bad side of dad as well. Dad may not have really cared about what went on under his roof, but he still had some basic demands and basic expectations, and one of those was that he personally was shown respect.
"But for Nathan, that simply wasn't possible. He was eighteen, and we were just entering the eighties. If there's anything the late twentieth century was known for, it was social upheaval. Kids rebelling against their elders and taking charge, bringing about radical change. Nathan liked that idea. He thought himself a revolutionary. He wanted to be 'new' and 'different', and wanted to follow the trends of the pseudo-intellectuals that came before.
"So he antagonised dad, and he challenged his authority wherever possible. Started asking questions, like 'what do we even actually need you for?' and 'what right have you got to tell us what to do?'
"And as you'd expect, one day, big brother stormed out and left us. He said goodbye to the both of us and ran off, hoping to get out there and do something earth shattering; something that would bring about change, and would remake the world into something new.
"So he became a writer for a TV show. Fucking idiot."
The water was boiling and steam was coming from its body as Nathan's fire titan pulled itself out of the moat and onto the drawbridge of Canterlot Castle. It fell onto its back, taking a moment to recover the damage it had taken from its underwater adventure. This turned out to be a mistake. As Nathan laid there, Howard's golem rocketed up beneath the drawbridge and knocked it closed, launching the titan back into the entrance of the castle.
The castle's front entrance turned out to be far too small to fit either of them, and Nathan found himself sandwiched between the drawbridge and the castle. Howard climbed up onto solid ground on the other side of the moat and raised a hand to ready an energy blast.
Nathan's golem pushed the drawbridge down again. It fell briefly onto its knees, but quickly got up and ran at Howard to punch him. It was struck by the blasts, but shook them off and continued running anyway, until it could reach him and ram him hard enough to knock him over onto his back.
"NOW ARE YOU GOING TO STOP, HOWARD?!"
The golem punched the fire titan's knee feebly.
Nathan reached down and grabbed Howard's golem by the throat. It held it down with one arm, and used the other to repeatedly smash its face in. Rocks and bricks flew through the air as he pulverised his brother's avatar. The air became dusty, and the force soon formed a crater in the ground just beneath the golem's head.
"DOESN'T. FEEL. SO. GOOD. WHEN. SOMEONE. DOES. IT. TO. YOU. DOES. IT?!" Nathan screamed, punctuating each word with an additional strike.
Suddenly, the golem's chest exploded, and the real human Howard launched out of it like a missile, straight into the fire titan's chest. He hit it so hard that he broke right through the surface, went through the body, grabbed the real Nathan as well, and smashed through its back again. He emerged flying into the air with a bruised and angry looking Nathan held in one hand, as they both rose high above the city.
"COMBO BREAKER!" Howard shouted as he launched Nathan through the air into a tower on the other side of Canterlot.
Nathan hit the giant domed roof of the tower hard and went sprawling across the room inside. He looked up through the hole in the ceiling to see that his brother was now actually hovering in the air. Yet even more new powers he was just picking up as he went along.
Howard meanwhile reached towards the now inert golem and fire titan and caused them to both rise up again, both now under his command. With a flick of his hand, he sent them both rampaging across Canterlot towards Nathan.
The older brother jumped out of the dome and onto the outisde of the tower. As the two monstrosities ran towards him, he used his own telekinetic abilities to rip the tower he was on out of the ground. As it rose, he jumped off and counted on Dramatic Convenience to boost his powers to match Howard's, and he too achieved flight.
Now airborne, Nathan flew back to get a more whole view of the battlefield, and he commanded the tower he was just in as if it were a giant sword. With a powerful swing, he knocked over both giant monsters, and followed up by burying them underneath a pile of rubble from several much bigger collapsed buildings.
"BUILDING SWORD FIGHT?!" Howard asked.
He looked over towards Canterlot Castle and chose a familiar looking domed tower that he was certain was once Twilight Sparkle's original library. With barely any effort, he mentally pulled it off of its foundations and floated it over the city to challenge his brother's.
"BUILDING SWORD FIGHT."
Mystic Chant stared miserably at the ground as the ponies walked through the corridors of the Prometheus. Accompanying him were Softy, Chain Mail, Princess Luna, and the still walking corpse of Princess Celestia, who was uncomfortably cheery right now.
"And then," Celestia explained, "I woke up in this misty void. Nothing but fog all around me, and the stone beneath my hooves. Then I heard footsteps. I turned around and-"
"This is the place," Chain Mail interrupted.
The group cautiously entered Dr. Apocalypse's medical clinic. The bodies of several unicorns were scattered around the room. Most of them seemed to have died from sword wounds. Ancient Tome and the others had already explained how they took the Prometheus in the first place, so they knew to expect this. Didn't make it any less unsettling though.
"Last time I was here, they had plenty of Authority around," Chain Mail explained, "If we can find a formula or recipe somewhere around here, and the chemicals we need are easy enough to obtain or at least synthesize, we might be able to solve our little zombie problem with Explodey."
"Mister Chain Mail?" Mystic asked, "When Explodey did that...thing...was that...because of the zombie virus? Or, was that normal for him?"
Chain Mail and Soft Spoken looked at each other.
"This is a good question," Softy admitted, "We really don't know anything about Explodey's biology. He's really a mystery to us. For all we know, that sludge creature thing he did could have been completely natural to him. It still raises a lot of questions though. How did he produce that much sludge when he exploded? Surely that can't have all come from him?"
"When we lost some of his biomass in Secopolis," Chain Mail responded, "he came back little. He needed to eat before he was restored to full size. This sort of contradicts what we saw when he exploded and produced enough green stuff to cover almost all of Ponyville, and this was before he absorbed everypony. Something's definitely off about him."
"We really need to study him at some point..." Softy muttered.
Mystic looked around at the lab, and his eyes lingered on some of the test tubes and over chemistry equipment. He blinked, as ideas formed in his mind.
"Mister Chain Mail," he said, "I just had an idea! With all the things in this lab...and since you need them so badly and all...do you think we could mix up some more of those drugs your suit use in here?"
The adults all stared at him.
"No, I'm Mystic," the colt replied, sounding annoyed, "Sliske's not even in me right now."
That made Soft Spoken do a double take.
"Wait, if he's not in you then where is he?!"
Sliske looked around Ponyville curiously. There were no signs of the dragons anywhere.
Before the assimilation, the group had stormed the Prometheus accompanied not just by Spike, but by three other dragons, including one that Spike had identified to them as Nonvulvahlok, the Noble Guardian. When they were being assimilated though, Sliske definitely remembered that only Spike was absorbed. The other dragons were clear at the time.
Things is, there was no way the dragons would leave behind their elder when he was in danger. Had they attacked Explodey and gotten absorbed too without them knowing? Had they lost their nerves and fled? Had they gone to rally the other dragons? Or were they just hiding somewhere around here and waiting for Spike to return?
When he first freed Explodey and the two of them had used the intercom to contact the Brotherhood and let them know what had happened, they made it quite clear that they had no idea where the dragons went either. It was one of many mysteries they were currently investigating. Well, with them all tied up on board the ship, that meant it fell to Sliske to discover the fate of the other dragons. And what better way to do that than to ask the locals?
Sliske spotted a mare walking away from the marketplace and flew up in front of her.
"Hello," he said telepathically, in the cheeriest tone he could manage, "My name is Sliske the Destroyer. I was hoping you could-"
The mare turned and ran away.
He looked around and spotted a pegasus colt napping on a cloud just above him. He floated up in front of his face and tapped him on the forehead with an incorporeal appendage. The colt slowly opened his eyes, and they shot wide open when he saw Sliske's face.
"Hi! My name is Sliske, of Seven Hundred Souls. I was wondering-"
He jumped around and grabbed ahold of the cloud tightly, before flapping his wings for dear life and propelling himself and the cloud away from Sliske very fast.
"This is getting annoying."
He looked down below and saw another mare, this one a pink pegasus of about twenty years of age, emerging from a small cottage.
"...Screw it. Questions are overrated. Let's just go straight for the memories."
With a glow of magic, the doors to the armoury of the Prometheus swung open to reveal several racks of guns, blades, armour, explosives and other assorted combat gear. Night Shroud and Iron Hoof stepped inside and began to drag a sack out into the corridor outside, where Tome and Gold Coin were waiting patiently.
"When you were all absorbed by Explodey, you dropped most of your stuff," Tome explained, "After we dealt with him by sealing him in the cargo hold, we gathered it all up and decided to keep ahold of it. Since you're back now, I guess its yours again."
"What is this place?" Gold Coin asked.
"The armoury. This ship was made for war. It's onboard weapons alone are capable of levelling cities, so it stands to reasons that it has a lot of stuff for troopers as well. We discovered this place and others like it while you were all incapacitated. There's all sorts of good stuff around here. Power armour, like Second's troops had, enough guns and bullets to kill a billion alicorns, Dr. Apocalypse's clinic and stores are full of medicine and there are kitchens and freezers and mess halls scattered all around with food to feed an army. This ship is huge. A pony could conquer a nation with the Prometheus."
"And are you going to?" the earth pony asked in concern.
"Old friend, our goal was always the enlightenment of ponykind, not rulership over it. You of all ponies should know that."
Gold Coin walked around in front of him and stared him in the eye.
"Tell me straight, Tomey. Are you planning to kill the princesses with this? Because I've learned a lot in the time I was away from the Brotherhood. We've made a terrible mistake in becoming what we are. They're not our enemies. They never were. Second. He's the true evil here."
"We realise that now," the unicorn replied, "And we're trying to make amends."
"Back in Canterlot, you wanted to leave behind myself and the princesses, and even the rest of the us too. You were going to abandon us to the zombies, even though the Elements of Harmony are the best chance for stopping Second."
"Frosty's dead, Goldie."
They were both silent.
"Do you remember Frosty?"
"What? Of course I-"
"She had integrity. She joined our cause because she wanted justice to be done, and what was best for ponies as a whole. She wasn't like Chameleon or Sun Rise, who joined hoping for a chance at power and glory. She just wanted what was right. When Commander Bullseye and Dr. Apocalypse told her straight out that Second was the true evil, she immediately told them that she would fight him too if that was what was right. And then they killed her. Right in front of me."
"When the Prometheus took flight, heading for Canterlot, we decided to step up and do what was right. Those two are dead now, and the three of us together seized the ship. When we did so, we did it with the intention of using it to destroy all evil everywhere. That means no more humans, no more alicorns, no more royalty, no more nobles, no more tyrants. Essentially, we're just doing what the Brotherhood always wanted to do, only instead of expecting Second to save the world, we're doing it ourselves, and he's been moved to the enemies list instead."
"The princesses are not our enemies, Tomey. I thought they were too, once. We were wrong though. They only want to see Second put down so we can go back to our age of peace."
"What proof have you got of this?" Tome asked, "How do you know they're as wonderful as they claim to be? Have you seen anything to suggest that Lyra's good book, A Darker World was wrong in its assertions?"
"Our entire belief in their malevolence is based around the old stories of them mistreating the humans! Now that we know the humans were the true evil, surely that invalidates these claims about the princesses? You have to look at the old holy books in a new light. Remember what we've learned as you read them. See the contradictions, the things that don't add up. Think about it."
The old unicorn frowned at him.
"Those are just with regards to the humans' treatment though! You forget, Brother Gold Coin, that they were just the spark of inspiration that started our order's questioning of the royals' true motives. Abstract Theory did not base his entire case against them around just what they did to humans. That's just what got us asking questions in the first place.
"What about the questions themselves though? What about all the holes the story of Nightmare Moon? What about the contradictions between official history and what empirical evidence otherwise suggests? What about the numerous incidents of alleged royalist abuse of power? What about all the secrecy employed during the advent of the Harbinger? What about Third's reign, can you explain that? Do you actually think you could explain away everything?"
That gave Gold Coin pause for thought.
"...Listen, old friend-"
"We're not friends, Tomey. Stop that."
"...Gold Coin. I want to do right. I want to earn the forgiveness of my son. I know now I shouldn't have done what I did. I went about everything the wrong way. I scared him. He's afraid of me. And I don't want him to be. That's not what his mother would have wanted. I was supposed to protect them both, but I couldn't stop her death. And now I couldn't stop Frosty's either. He's all that I've got left, and he hates me."
"Well that's your own fault."
"I know. And I'm going to make it up to him. This is me, taking a stand against evil. You ran off when we released Second. You were fighting him right from the start. But you were still the one who poured the salts and let him out in the first place, and you're no less responsible than the rest of us. If you think though that just because the princesses also want to stop him, that somehow means we're all on the same side, you're wrong.
"You asked me to think, Goldie. Think about the old holy books in a new context. And I will do that, because they got a lot wrong. But I don't think it's right either to entirely disregard them. Those two alicorns that you're apparently so chummy with now, as far as we know, are no more innocent than Second is. So I want you to think as well, Goldie. Keep an eye on them.
"They made you into a Element of Harmony. That's something I'm proud of. While we once vilified them because they stopped the humans, now I see that they are a blessing, and our best hope. You may well still be ponykind's saviour. I want you to remember though, that being an Element does not mean you owe that Celestia any loyalty.
"Just because our ancestors took orders from her, doesn't mean we need to. So when the time comes, and you strike Second down, don't let her step in and claim credit for instilling the virtue in you that was always there, and don't let yourself become her pawn. If I am proven right, and the princesses are what we always said they were, then don't become a minion of evil. Do what you were always raised to, and oppose tyranny in all its forms."
Howard rubbed his chin.
"Nathan had this thing...about human civilisation. He was so enamoured by the intellectuals and the leaders. He took interest in politics. It got him to thinking. He questioned everything, and that included the virtues instilled into us by our father. Dad was a southern conservative. He was a religious man. He didn't like gays. He was mildly racist, though he wasn't a Klansman for anything.
"These were things Nathan came to see as symbolising the previous generation. Like I said, he wanted to be revolutionary. He thought it was a bold, edgy new idea to proudly proclaim that he was an atheist, and that actually, blacks and gay people aren't all that bad. He kicked up a stinker about it and went all 'social justice' on us.
"Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with those sentiments. I just think the people who act all high and mighty about it are smug pricks. One group I really take issue with are these goddamn hippie fucktards. You know who I'm talking about. 'Save the whales', global warming, picket protesting, oversensitive fucks who write angry letters to conservative talk show hosts. I fucking hate people like that.
"And Nathan was one of them. You can see the issue. So he cast off the beliefs of our father and boldly went out to the big cities of the north, seeking his fortune. He told us that we were all yokels and hicks, that religion and a conservative political view were outdated relics of a bygone age, and that the only way to really save ourselves was to be like him, and go to the civilised north.
"He hated Texas, or at least the town we lived in. He thought it was stagnating. Personally, I think he saw too many TV shows that stereotyped southerners and bought into it. It wasn't like dad or our neighbours were all like Cletus from the Simpsons. It just so happened that dad embraced traditional values. Nathan was a prick. That's the long and short of it.
"I never really took a side. Liberal? Conservative? These words were meaningless to a preteen kid. All I really picked up was that the grown-ups were fighting again. Nathan kept in contact though. He still called up regularly. He talked to dad, and to Brian, and to me. And ironically, it's when he became this paragon of smug self righteousness that I got on best with him, because by then I was old enough to stop being a retard for no reason.
"We started to have conversations. Actual dialogue. It was something new to me, and he told me great stories of his travels around Washington and San Francisco. To hear him talk of it, you'd think he had died and gone to Heaven. Though, I suspect he was less happy than he let on. Despite that though, I still think those were probably the best years of his life. It was after he had moved out of the quote unquote 'redneck shithole,' and before he grew up and realised that he wasn't going to be the next Ghandi.
"Meanwhile, he'd try to fill Brian's head with ideas. Poor Brian, who had always been made to choose between him and me, and was now torn between him and dad too. Nathan kept wanting Brian to leave home when he became old enough and be like him. He wanted him to travel up north, to become a civilised man, to cast off the ways of old and embrace the future.
"Really though, as much as Nathan was a huge prick, it was the best possible advice he could have given Brian. Despite everything, big brother still found employment easily enough, he was living a comfortable lifestyle, and as you already know he eventually became a screenwriter. That's not too shabby considering he didn't have any particularly impressive qualifications when he left education, and can't actually write for shit. Oh, we'll get into that later.
"Brian though? He was completely fucking useless. He was destined to be a stereotypical redneck of exactly the kind that Nathan thought we all were. Brian didn't take him up on his offer. He told Nathan to fuck off, apparently getting angry with him for leaving us and for his attitude, and when he got older he got low paying jobs at local places. Cashier for a local corner store, worked at a gas station for a while, and I think his best job was working as an assistant mechanic at some garage, but eventually he got fired for showing up to work drunk too many times.
"And so began his long life of failure, misery and disappointment. Nathan came to hate Brian for embodying all that he despised, while Brian hated Nathan for leaving everything behind and treating him and dad like such garbage. By then, I was fast approaching young adulthood myself, and suddenly the roles had changed.
"Now I was the one who Nathan actually liked. This time, it was me who was the neutral party in the ongoing war between two brothers. Now I was the one who had to make the choice and side with one or the other. This is how I came to sympathise so much with Brian, who had put up with this for so many years, and it's why I say he had it worst. Because I decided to follow in Nathan's footsteps, and leave Texas to go up north, where I eventually settled in Connecticut.
"And he was right. It was the worst day of my life."
Buildings are hard. Nathan learned this in a very unpleasant way as Howard broke one on his head and sent him flying.
"COME ON FUCKTARD! PUT UP A FIGHT!"
Nathan telekinetically swung the tower he was wielding, but without one of his own to block it anymore, Howard had to dodge. Being much smaller than a building, the other human was easily able to weave between his strikes, and Howard flew right at his brother, fist outstretched, and hit him with incredible force.
The two flew across the city. Howard steered them towards several tall buildings and used Nathan as a battering ram to break through all of them. Their fight had easily demolished half of Canterlot already, and the rest was rapidly falling as well.
After several minutes of smashing Nathan through buildings, Howard was content, and finished up his attack by stopping abruptly and leaving him to fall to the ground. Nathan caught himself and resumed flight before he hit the cobblestone road, but Howard didn't like that, and summoned up a tornado which began to tear through the city.
The twister came out of nowhere, and Nathan was immediately sucked up into it. He wasn’t so easily beaten though. He used his own telekinetic pull to drag Howard in too, and the both soon found themselves floating in the middle of a tornado which was launching rubble all over the place.
The two kept trying to throw pieces of buildings at each other, but the wind speeds kept making for inaccurate throws. They eventually decided to settle matters with another melee, and both dropped down to a passing house that flew beneath them.
There was an audible crash as they touched down on the roof of the flying house and the tiles cracked beneath their feet. Standing on opposite ends of the roof, they charged at each other and met in the middle, before both unleashing a series of impressive martial arts moves that neither of them had ever actually learned in the real world.
A well placed kick by Howard knocked Nathan onto his back, and a powerful punch to his stomach was enough to break the roof beneath them and send both humans falling down into the house itself.
Explodey turned off the hose and lowered it. With a critical eye, he walked around Spike and inspected him from every angle.
"...Yeah, I think I got the last of it," he commented, "You're all good."
"Finally," the dragon answered, "Let us never speak of this again."
"'Cor, blimey. You oughta see the weather out there," said Prince Blueblood as he walked over to them.
"Why?" asked Explodey, "What's going on?"
"Only a fucking tornado, mate. I's tearin' up Can'erlot right now!"
"Sure it is, Blueblood," Spike replied, "We all believe you."
"Well go out there and see fer y'self then. It's only a couple o' steps for you."
"I'm not doing any more walking today. I fought off a zombie apocalypse, acted as a taxi for a bunch of ingrate ponies, and I got eaten and pushed out again by something a fraction of my size. After a day like that, I want to go to bed, and just be content with my nightmares, which I'm sure are going to be much more vivid than usual after this."
Spike laid down on his stomach and closed his eyes.
"What?!" shouted Explodey, "You can't go to sleep now! It's not even that late!"
"Don't care. Dragon. Sleepy time," Spike answered.
"Hey! HEY! Don't you go to sleep right now! What if we need you for something?! How do we wake you?!"
Spike just began snoring. Prince Blueblood trotted up to Explodey's side and put a hoof on his shoulder.
"Let it go, 'splodey. I's dragon town."
"Hey guys! What have we missed?"
Explodey and Blueblood turned around to see Softy's group returning with several test tubes and syringes of chemicals that they had recovered from the clinic. The princesses were carrying most of them, though Mystic held some too, and Softy and Chains held a few small ones in their teeth.
"Alright," Chain Mail began as he put his load down, "While we were in Dr. Apocalypse's lab, we were able to hunt around and find the recipes for most of the drugs that I need to live, as well as the partial zombie cure known as Authority. It won't turn the zombies in you back to normal ponies, but it'll let them live as themselves rather than as shambling, mindless nightmares. That's some progress. So, we're thinking, if we inject it into you before you expel the rest of the zombies, maybe they'll come back differently."
"Oh, no need for that," Explodey said casually, "I already made a cure."
Chain Mail stared at him.
"Yeah. Didn't you wonder about the fact that the zombie virus stopped affecting me after I absorbed more zombies? My immune system finally came up with a proper cure, and lucky that it did, otherwise I would have become some kind of super zombie. Can you even imagine? So yeah, I can now naturally produce a zombie cure. I spit on the floor, it makes some blue stuff. Blue means cure."
Chain Mail tilted his head and squinted at Explodey, as if he was trying to read a really far away sign while looking into the sun.
"...You fucking WHAT?!"
"...Did I do something wrong?"
"IF YOU CAN NATURALLY PRODUCE A ZOMBIE CURE, WHAT WAS THE FUCKING POINT OF US CHASING DOWN THE PROMETHEUS?!"
"...To save the citizens of Canterlot?" Explodey suggested meekly.
"You mean the citizens that you ate?" Softy replied.
"Ate, and used to create a cure, I remind you," said Explodey.
"Wait. Was this fucking deliberate?! Were you always planning to absorb everypony?!"
"What?! No! No way! I didn't know everypony on board was infected. That was just a happy coincidence."
"Happy coinci-" Chain mail spluttered, "He- I fucking- What- AAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH!"
The captain slammed his head into the floor repeatedly.
"WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!"
"So what comes next then?" asked Gold Coin as he and Ancient Tome trotted towards the bridge of the ship.
"Next? Next, we're going back to Secopolis to lay siege to Fort First. We'll slaughter every last one of the Knights of Man who get in our way, and take Star Wish back by force. Her mother's gone, her father's gone, so it's just me to take care of her now. I'm not leaving her alone in the company of those psychopaths."
The two reached the door to the bridge, which automatically opened to permit them entrance.
"And Mystic? What do you plan to do to win him over again?"
"I don't know. I'm hoping that with his cousin with me, he might be a little less nervous around me. Maybe he'll feel more comfortable approaching me. I might be able to sit him down for a good talk."
"The way I hear, every talk you've had with him since this started just made him hate you more."
They emerged onto the bridge, where they found Iron Hoof waiting for them. He gave both the ponies a salute and gestured down to the lower levels, where a unicorn pony in an engineer's jumpsuit and with a broken horn was wriggling about. He had been tied up and gagged, and was futilely trying to escape.
"He's the only survivor, sir," Iron reported, "The rest of the crew are all dead."
"So how are we going to do this?" Gold Coin asked, "Are you two gonna go 'good cop, bad cop' on him?"
"I'm not sure how effective that will be against a demon, but it's worth a shot," Tome replied.
He approached their captive and glared at him.
"Alright you," he said menacingly, "Who are you working for?!"
"I'm a fucking demon," the possessed pony replied.
"...That's not an answer."
"I'm a demon and I work for demons, you stupid fuck."
"...I'm still not hearing a name."
"If I gave you the name of the arch-demon who sent me on this mission, would it actually mean anything to you?"
"...Is that his name?"
"Yes it is."
"Could I get that again? Iron, note it down."
"Great. Is that...uh...How do you spell that?"
"Is that all one word?"
"Yes, and I was spelling that phonetically for your benefit too. When his name is actually written, it begins with a silent 'Q', but that's useless information to you."
"So it's actually 'Quramstarflokrinhir'?"
"Silent 'Q', mortal. And when written, just the 'Q'. No 'U' after it."
"But that just doesn't make any sense grammatically!"
"ARCH-FUCKING-DEMON, YOU IGNORANT MORTAL!"
Ancient Tome looked over his shoulder at Gold Coin.
"Goldie, can you be the bad cop, please? I'm really terrible at this."
Gold Coin nodded and stepped up in front of the prisoner. Without a word, he turned around and bucked him in the face, knocking him into a small terminal.
"No more fucking around," he declared, "Tell us straight out; why did you attack the Prometheus, what was your plan, and whose idea was it? And most important of all, what the fuck has Sun Rise got to do with it?"
The demon sat up and looked up at Gold Coin with his glowing red eyes, and grinned.
"The one you call Sun Rise was weak. He was disfigured in unholy fire, brought about by a creature more powerful than any other, that even the Lord fears."
"The Lord? Who is the Lord? Do you mean Second?" asked Gold Coin.
"Lord Tirac. The great master. The one who unites all evil in him. Though, even he recognises that your Lord, the one you call Second, is not a force to be taken lightly."
Tome and Gold Coin shared a grave look.
"I've heard the legends of Tirac," Ancient Tome said quietly, "His last coming to Equestria was known as the Eclipse Crisis. That was how the dragons died out."
"Except for the Eternal, and the Nineteen," Gold Coin replied, "But we have nothing to fear. The dragon who overthrew Tirac is out in the cargo hold right now, and he's only gotten stronger with age."
"You miss the point, mortal," the demon snickered, "Tirac seeks not a takeover, like what he pursued back in the old days. He now has other motives. A greater plan."
"The one you call Sun Rise was weak, until the demonic legion called out to him. He accepted them. They became a part of him. The metal body you gave him served only to hurt his perception of himself, and hurt his will and ability. He was given strength by supernatural means, through us, and he embraced it wholly, now serving both human and demon alike."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"That under Tirac's instruction, he does Second's will, and we follow him. Sun Rise is a leader, a demon of great power now. One of us. And as one of us he chooses to carry out Second's orders, and led the demonic horde against the Prometheus, so that we could enact the plan."
"Second is in league with the demons?" asked Tome, "That is simply not possible. When he was informed of Sun Rise's condition, he travelled into his mind to stop the demons. He knew nothing about this."
"Deception. Second is our ally."
Tome scrutinised the demon, as if trying to tell if he was lying to them. Then again, demons were masters of trickery and lies. All the information he had been giving them so far could just as easily be false as his last statement. They had no reason to doubt his claim about Second more than anything else he was telling them.
"Second's orders were that the Prometheus be attacked. He knew of your treachery. That the famous Brotherhood of Man had turned from the virtues of old, had killed his chosen commander, Bullseye, and had forcibly taken that which was not theirs. He said that the Prometheus was needed, for the final plan. We were to kill the Brotherhood, and to infect the scum in the cargo hold, so that the ship might be reclaimed when the time was right."
"That doesn't make sense though," Tome pointed out, "Sun Rise spared both me and Night Shroud when he had opportunity to kill us. We can't have been the end goal if he let us live. And even if we weren't, he still fucked up the other end goal. We still hold the Prometheus."
The demon smiled and shook his head.
"Poor foolish mortal. The intent was not capture. It was to allow the means to capture."
"You will see soon enough..."
The demon tilted his head back and began to laugh maniacally. Tome was about to step in and stop him when he then spontaneously burst into flames. The mad hellspawn continued to cackle in glee right up until it fell down dead, leaving only a burnt husk. The three ponies stared at it in shock for a moment, before Gold Coin had a stunning realisation.
"Wait...Sun Rise was 'disfigured in unholy fire' by 'a creature more powerful than any other', that even Tirac is afraid of. And Sun Rise was...in the Church of Man...when it...IS TIRAC FUCKING SCARED OF EXPLODEY?!"
Sliske finally established control over his new chosen host, and the screaming stopped. Confined to her own head, the mare couldn't use her mouth to make that awful screechy noise anymore, giving Sliske the peace and quiet he needed to search her memories to find where the dragons had gone.
"Let'ssssssss have a look in here...Jusssst...ugh..."
Sliske swayed slightly and stumbled.
Was there something wrong with this body? He was trying to walk with it, but he felt so uncoordinated. His vision was off too. Everything seemed so grey and lifeless. In fact, all his senses were dulled. It was as if he was trying to perceive the world while half asleep and intoxicated. What was going on?
"Thissss issssn't right..." Sliske moaned, "I don't feel good..."
The alien stumbled forward again, and this time outright vomited over the road. There wasn't much of it though. The mare he was inhabiting hadn't eaten much recently. Though, given the opportunity, Sliske quickly looked over the previous contents of her stomach and found nothing that would have made her ill.
He searched her recent memories. He found what he was originally looking for. After the goo that Explodey produced had drawn in all the zombies and Spike was assimilated, the mare had witnessed the other dragons panic and fly away. Explodey had evidently tried to assimilate them too, because she saw a few really long white tendrils shooting into the sky as the dragons fled.
The mission was technically accomplished, but Sliske was still confused as to his condition. He kept searching the mare's memories, but found no indication that she was sick with anything before he came along. All evidence seemed to suggest that the sickness was something wrong with him.
That didn't make any sense though! He was a spiritual being! A ghostly alien with no true physical form! He couldn't get sick!
Ugh...I never had this kind of trouble with Mystic...Everything was always great when he was my host...
Sliske heard a noise. It was...strange sounding. Like a ping, or small bird chirping, or...
The alien looked at his host's flank and stared in confusion, as he saw her old cutie mark had been replaced by one depicting a blue silhouette of a unicorn.
Howard stared at the floor, away from his camera. He folded his arms and closed his eyes as he remembered long ago.
"So..." he continued, "I got away. I left my dad and my other brother behind. And just like Nathan I made my way north. See, even though we both clearly didn't get along, it was him that made me get into this whole 'civilization' business. He felt responsible for me, so he helped me.
"It was in Connecticut where I found him. His life since Texas wasn't so much a single job, or seeking jobs, as it was travelling all around the country and finding work where he went. He felt that if anything, he was overqualified for most work. Ah, the delusions of youth. Still though, he did have a lot of experience under his belt in a number of fields. I guess you could say he dabbled.
"Well, truth be told I left home earlier than I should have. I had just left college when I made the journey, and I had aspirations of university. Nathan had wanted to go to one, but it was already too late for him, and had been for a while. So he contented himself by staying put in Connecticut and giving me room and board while I went into higher education.
"This is why he said he made me. Why he feels like I owe him so much. He thinks that he's the one ultimately responsible for how I turned out, and trust me when I say that that's both wrong, and not something to be proud of if it wasn't.
Howard's eyes flicked back up to the camera.
"University was great, for me. I made some great friends there, among others...But then there was home life. Nathan was going through so many different things. His worldview collapsed as I lived with him. Finances and other such mundane aspects of everyday life began to put pressure on him, and he slowly realised that life wouldn't accommodate him. He had to conform to society's standards, not the other way around.
"Sure. You'd think that'd be obvious, but it wasn't to him. Nathan was naive, and idealistic. Sure, he was a smug cunt about it, but he did genuinely want to change things for the better. And when he realised that he couldn't do it, and that he would have to be like everyone else and get a fixed job and stay living in one place...That was so different for him. It's like the opposite of what ponies go through. He truly became an adult, when he realised he wasn't special.
"And I got to see that transformation first hand. That's when he started dressing in suits and talking more formally. Practice for job interviews he told me. He went for a number of fields, based on what he had some basic experience with. It took him a while, but eventually he got in with a film studio. By the time I left university, he was a screenwriter for some shitty sitcom I had never heard of. And he was so proud of himself.
"And there was me. Little Howie, who wanted to grow up to sing and dance, but whose father told him not to. And even though the whole point of joining Nathan was supposedly that I didn't have to listen to dad anymore, I guess his words stuck by me. Because by the time I left university, I was different than I was back then. Sure, I still liked singing...but I had tried my hand at a few pieces for English classes over the years.
"I was skilled at it. I knew. So I took one look at Nathan's new job, and that cemented it in my mind. I wanted to be a writer."
Howard and Nathan both picked themselves up from the floor of the house and glared at each other. They both leaned on the walls for support as the house rocked and tumbled, carried by the force of the tornado outside. The windows were shattered, and beyond all that could be seen was grey, and the occasional flying object.
The winds ripped through the house and tossed furniture and bits of paper around. It was chaos, but that didn't distract either of the men. Howard charged down the hallway and slammed into Nathan, throwing him back into the kitchen. Nathan supported himself on the table as he tried to get up, but his brother ran over and punched him again.
He grabbed a chair in one hand and smashed it over Howard's head, causing him to stagger back. Howard in turn grabbed a nearby kitchen knife and threw it into the wall just behind Nathan, who only barely dodged out of the way.
The older man looked at the kitchen draws, which laid open, displaying several sharp knives. He used his telekinesis and floated them all out. Howard stopped in his tracks as Nathan lined them all up and launched them at high speed across the room, right into his chest.
There was a sizzling sound, and the knives dropped off his body. Or at least, the handles did. The actual knife blades were gone, seemingly melted off. Howard pulled off his shirt to inspect his rapidly closing wounds, (while somehow leaving his coat on), and saw dripping green blood where he had been stabbed.
While both humans stared at it for a second, Howard suddenly reached behind him and grabbed the kitchen table by a single leg and tossed it across the room at his brother, who dived to the side to avoid it, and was struck by flying debris as it shattered into a few blocks of wood that were quickly picked up by the raging storm.
Howard made another run at him, but Nathan kicked at the right moment and launched Howard backwards and straight through a wall, into the living room.
He got up and ran over to him, but was stopped when there was a monstrous screeching coming from his left. He almost wet himself in fear when a zombie that he previously wasn't aware was in the house at all, emerged from the shadows to try and take a bite of him.
"GAH! GET AWAY!" he screamed.
Howard appeared behind the zombie and put it in a headlock. He placed a hand on its forehead and twisted it around, snapping the zombie's neck. Nathan was about to thank his brother for saving him, but then Howard held the corpse by the throat and used it to smack Nathan around the face as if it were a giant rubber chicken.
Nathan prepared to punch him, but then his eyes went wide as he saw something flying straight at the front door.
"WE'VE GOT MORE OF THEM!"
A number of zombies came flying out of the tornado and crashed into the front of the house. They flew through broken windows and into the front porch, smashed through glass and bits of wall, and many of them broke limbs or injured themselves on impact. That didn't matter though. They saw Nathan, a living creature, within the house. And everything alive had to be killed.
While Howard was looking away at the zombies though, Nathan charged up another attack. He didn't notice until too late. Howard turned around and was immediately hit by a blast of energy point blank. He was launched back through the porch, knocking the zombies away and clearing a path.
Nathan followed that path. He charged down the hall, through the porch, leapt into the air after Howard and left the house to fall behind them. The tornado began to die, and the rubble it had picked up all fell around them. As the dust cleared, Nathan searched around for any sign of his brother.
He looked up, and saw Howard was flying higher and higher into the sky. He gritted his teeth and flew up after him.
Night Shroud returned to the cargo hold to find everypony else already present. Chain Mail was now in a foetal position for some reason, Spike was fast asleep, Soft Spoken was trying to explain something to the princesses, who both looked completely baffled. Explodey was doing squat thrusts, Blueblood was laying on his back and staring at the ceiling and Mystic was just looking around curiously.
"Ahem," he called out, catching their attention, "As Tome ordered, here's all your stuff back."
He tossed the sack of equipment they retrieved from the armoury earlier onto the ground.
"Included here is one set of Rainbow model Secopolis power armour, one red lightsaber, one minigun, now out of ammo, and six Elements of Harmony, one in necklace form and the others still stone balls. Also included are the extra parts to the cyborg's armour. Helmet, wings, etc."
Softy, Chain Mail and Explodey all came over to claim their stuff. Soft Spoken began to suit up in the Rainbow Six in case they needed to fight any time soon, while Chain Mail took everything else but the minigun.
"Hey!" Explodey protested, "Where's my lightsaber? I distinctly remember that I used to have one!"
"You probably destroyed it in an explosion, just like that magic enhancing ring," Chain Mail suggested, "Either way, the red one is mine."
From the same door that Night Shroud had came from, Gold Coin and the rest of the Brotherhood all entered as well.
"Hey!" the yellow earth pony called out, "We checked all around for demons. Only one left, and he told us some potentially useful information and then killed himself. It's gonna take a while to explain, but..."
"Night Shroud!" Ancient Tome barked, "Did you check the engineering levels for sabotage?"
"I did, sir," the night guard replied, "Everything is clear."
"Hmm...We'd best double check later. That demon seemed to suggest that their mission was to plant something on the ship that would make it easy to capture."
"What did you find out from the demons, Goldie?" asked Chain Mail.
"Ah! Wait," Softy interrupted, "While we all have a lot of questions, we can sit down and compare notes later. Right now, we've still got one more major problem to sort out: Explodey and the Canterlot zombies. He still has to release them."
Gold Coin sighed.
"And so continues Ponyville's proud tradition of getting shat on by inequine monstrosities."
"But there it was. After years of us both working as writers on so many separate projects, we finally came together again to work on MLP. We joined towards the end of the production of season three. Nathan was known mostly for writing terrible sitcoms by then. Mostly live action television, though he had done some animated projects. And me? I was well known in children's TV circles. I had done a lot of work for a few Cartoon Network and Nick shows. So then when I heard all the buzz this My Little Pony thing was generating on the internet, naturally I wanted in on it.
"By this point, my son Anthony was...how old? Twelve? Thirteen? Either way, old enough to be using the internet. And because I was so close to him, I too knew a lot about internet culture. I didn't exactly spend my time on 4chan or anything, but I was aware of trends and ongoing drama there, through Anthony. So when My Little Pony was suddenly getting real popular on /co/, I knew that something was up.
"First chance I got, I was in with Studio B and writing for a popular animated TV show. People really liked it, and I saw a chance to do some work that would really be appreciated, and that I could point to later on as a major accomplishment. With my credentials, they were happy to have me. But then when I made the move up to Canada and actually saw the studio, and I found Nathan there?
"Well...Things were awkward. In spite of everything, he was still a prick. He still didn't like me, and I still didn't like him, and after me and Brian got into a punch up at dad's funeral, he really resented me. I don't blame him, but after all his conflict with dad, I was just surprised Brian didn't attack him instead of me. It was an argument of principal. We both thought Brian was a useless, lazy cunt just like dad did, and he thought that we were snobs and had turned our backs on the family.
"Truth be told, I think dad was cheering us on. Dad made no secret of the fact that he didn't like Brian leeching off him, and he always seemed proud of our independence in a strange way. Nathan didn't really accept his pride, because he was a dick like that, while Brian tried to pretend that he was dad's favourite for sticking by him, even if that did mean he just made his life harder.
"And in the end, that conflict of beliefs drove a wedge between us. Everyone hated everyone, and there was barely any common ground for us to work on. I knew Nathan was the one who made sure I got the job there. Maybe he wanted to patch things up. He didn't manage though. Instead, all it did was make us fight more and more, mostly about how shitty his scripts were. The man was terrible. He had some of the most god-awful ideas I had ever heard of.
"Did you know he wanted to write an episode about Pinkie having deals with the mafia? I mean...Jesus. I know the show did some risky things, but it at least censored itself. Season one retold the genocide of the native Americans, but it at least made the ending happy and had the good sense not to show anyone getting killed, by using pies instead of weapons. Nathan's original script had no less than four pony deaths. On a kid's show. You think that's enough?
"My brother being a twat aside though, there was too much friction. After season four was finished, I wanted to step out. It was either me or him, and I had other job prospects anyway. Unlike Nathan, I was actually respected outside of the brony community. I could have gone and found a job elsewhere. Him though? He stayed on. He wrote the opening for season five.
"'Two of a Kind, Parts 1 & 2'. Featuring two new villains, the Second and the First, going up against Twilight Sparkle and her Elements of Harmony. It was bigger, better and so incredibly epic, featuring humans in Equestria for the first time, at least outside of fanfiction, and was written by Nathan Carson-Summers as well, prestigious writer of such gold as 'Foalsom Prison Blues' and 'Apple a Day'.
"Supposedly, and this is just a rumour mind you, when Nathan wrote the character of Second, he partially based him on his little brother Howard, sort of as petty revenge for years of fighting. And wouldn't you know it? On the day it aired, Howard Carson-Summers and his son Anthony disappeared from their home and were never seen again.
"And that's why I killed Nathan."
Nathan flew after Howard. They were far above Equestria now, almost on the edge of space. His brother had stopped a little way above him. Finally catching up, Nathan rose until he was level with him.
"Look, just stop it, Howard!" he shouted, "This isn't achieving anything! I only came here to talk!"
"The time for talking is over!" Howard roared, "Now is the time for vengeance!"
He rushed forward and punched Nathan. The human went reeling, and had no time to recover before he was hit again. It was just like in the throne room. Howard struck him repeatedly, each time further damaging him. Blood flew and bone broke, and Nathan's attacker let loose a thousand years of built up rage and hatred.
Nathan kept healing his wounds with every hit, but it wasn't going to save his life. It only prolonged the pain. It was the same principal that allowed First and Host to die, even though they both had healing factors too; It only repaired wounds. It didn't grant immortality.
He had survived his brain being crushed, but enough damage dealt eventually proved too much for Nathan to handle, and he just stopped healing. When Howard was sure he had done enough, he grabbed him by the throat, and they shot down towards the ground.
From the very edge of the atmosphere, they streaked towards Canterlot. They weren't just falling. Howard was flying them down, pushing them as fast as they could go. A cone formed around them. They broke the sound barrier. Once. Twice. Thrice. And then Nathan hit the top of the mountain head first.
There was a monstrous sound, and all of Equestria shuddered, as if about to be struck by an earthquake. Ponies around Canterlot stared in shock, their jaws hitting the floor, as a massive crack broke down the centre of the mountain. Then, for all of Equestria to see, the entire mountain split clean in two.
Both halves of the mountain fell to one side. Neither collapsed entirely. They just pointed off in different directions, forming a giant 'V' shape. The half which the city of Canterlot was attached to remained standing relatively upright, saving the city itself aside from a few minor building collapses, while its twin sagged to the side, only barely keeping upright. The mountain was mangled almost beyond recognition.
In between the two halves, there was now a small valley, at the bottom of which were two humans. Nathan laid on his back, and stared up at the sky. He could see the innards of the old mountain around them. Old gem mines and underground labyrinths that were once hidden, now laid exposed to the elements.
Howard stood up, and glared at Nathan.
"Take the hint, prick. I don't want to talk to you."
He turned to walk away, but Nathan reached out and grabbed his leg. Howard turned to look down at him in surprise. He crawled forward, bruised and beaten, and spat out some blood.
"Little bro, I came here for you...I wanted to help..."
"Help me?! You?! You're the one responsible for all my pain! YOU DID THIS TO ME!"
He reached down and yanked Nathan up onto his feet.
"You wrote me into your motherfucking episode, didn't you?! Me, and my boy too! You killed him! You trapped me in stone! You took my life away and his, and replaced it with this mockery! You and I have nothing to say to each other!"
He threw Nathan onto the floor again, and once more tried to leave.
"You've been gone from the human world, for...twenty years now. Everyone thinks you and Anthony both died...but I knew better. I sort of figured it out...even if it doesn't make much sense...I mean...you can't travel to a cartoon world...they don't exist..."
"You managed it," Howard pointed out, "How did you get here?"
"Word of God, Howie. You're familiar with it?"
"...'If the creator or creators of a work of fiction give details on a fictional setting that are not contradicted in the work itself, it can generally be taken to be canon'."
"I was once a writer. I once was with Studio B. Not now, but I still have a say in everything. Just like you. If I imagine...in my head...that between that one scene with you in the throne room, and that other later scene...I briefly went to Equestria and talked with my brother again...well..."
"So this isn't a part of the narrative?"
"No. Not the official one anyway. I just came here to tell you what's going on."
"Then what IS going on? Back in the human world, what is causing these new events?"
"The twenty fifth anniversary of Friendship is Magic. It ran for nine seasons, and ended with a movie. Now they're making movies again. Three of them. Set nearly one thousand years later and bringing back several classic villains, and hopefully setting the stage for G5, focusing on new characters this time. The new Elements of Harmony, this time all of them stallions, as part of some directive by marketing to appeal specifically to bronies, and refocusing the show as an action/adventure comedy series."
"...That is the single most retarded idea I've ever heard. Was it yours?"
"No. It wasn't anyone's. Anyone that we know anyway. All the old staff left years ago. Studio B is made up of entirely different people now. A bunch of newbies, who don't really understand what made everyone like the original show. Faust and Jayson have nothing to with this. These new guys, they think everyone will be fine with the retooling, but as I'm speaking to you, the second movie just finished airing for the first time, and everyone online hates it. I don't think that new series is ever going to happen."
Howard crouched down next to Nathan.
"Listen, Howard...I haven't got much time left. You need to hear this..."
"What is it?"
"The trilogy is going meta. The thing about the old series, was that I never really wrote in a backstory for you. The new guys think they can be clever, and explain that you were an actual MLP writer back in the day. Based on your case and what I did obviously, though they aren't explicitly stating that it's Howard Carson-Summers. With everyone thinking that you're dead, that would just be plain disrespectful.
"Still though, the inspiration is obvious. And going with that explanation, they're setting themselves up as the villains. You're supposed to turn around and become a good guy at the last moment, and fight off some cartoon world avatars of them, and then that'll be them defeated and you get to go home, happy ending for everyone."
"It doesn't work like that though," Howard pointed out, "If it's part of the story that I defeat them and go home, I'll just go to some fictional version of home. They won't actually be defeated, and I won't actually be in the human world again! I'll just be in some disgusting imitation! I'll be trapped here forever!"
"I don't actually know that that's the plan," Nathan confessed, "That's just my guess. I know writing trends and I've seen the first two movies. That's what I think is going to happen. Point is, part of your plan to stop them is actually part of the overall narrative, influenced with the help of your hallucinations, like Conscience and Ambition. Even though you think you're going to fight the real people and win back your freedom, you're still playing into their hands."
"Meta within meta," Howard grumbled, "Damn, this is beginning to make my head hurt."
"Point is...fighting them won't be enough. That's why I'm here. I'm hoping...that if I let you know this, that you'll make it out properly. Maybe you'll come back. I don't know. The 'me' that's dying here is just an avatar of myself. I'm back in the human world right now, daydreaming about this very scenario, and thinking myself an idiot for believing to any degree that this is actually what happened to you."
Howard raised an eyebrow.
"This whole thing with you coming here. It came about just from you imagining it?"
"Including the fight? Where I nearly just killed you?"
"...I figured you'd want to kill me, after everything..."
Howard looked at him sadly.
"You know me so well."
"Just remember, Howard: Aim high."
He closed his eyes, and stopped breathing.
"I always aim high."
"And then I came straight back up here, to make this recording," Second concluded, "I felt that context was necessary to explain all this. And to explain what Nathan meant, and what my plan actually is. I know I've been rather cryptic so far, Celestia. And when you take back Canterlot and I'm already gone, you'll find this, and you'll understand exactly what I need to do, and what you need to do, if we're going to make this work and stop these fuckhead kids who think they're being clever by putting themselves in my line of fire.
"I hope, I pray to God above that you can still bring yourself to actually side with me when you hear exactly what the plan is, because it's a terrible one. I spoke of the zombies earlier. Something Nathan said, made me think of this. He said 'I figured you'd want to kill me'. He accurately predicted that I would have remorselessly murdered him.
"Now that I know he wasn't the real Nathan, but just some representation of the real him, I feel a little better. Especially since he is actually trying to do right by me. It makes me realise how much of my life I wasted. But even more, it makes me wonder. What kind of man am I, that I could have actually beaten my brother to death on the throne room floor and think nothing of it?
"I've killed plenty of ponies by now in cold blood, but they never mattered to me. It took me killing a human, and someone close to me, to realise the full extent of my crimes. I've gone too far. I'm barely human anymore. The fact that I could create something like those zombies and feel nothing even as I see them bring about the end of a civilization is testament to that. I've lost too much of who I once was. Humans are better than this. I am not.
"And what scares me the most, is that by the time this is over, it won't even be the worst thing I'll have done. So I wanted to take this brief moment of clarity between my bouts of psychotic bastardry to tell you; if there was another way, I'd take it. But there isn't.
"So tremble in fear ponykind. You thought the apocalypse was bad? You ain't seen nothing yet."
Explodey laid back on the operating table in Dr. Apocalypse's clinic.
"Uh...Is this going to hurt?" he asked.
"No more than shitting out a dragon, trust me," Gold Coin said reassuringly, "Still though, this will be more constant. We can't have you just pushing out every single Canterlot citizen in one gigantic turd. That'd take forever, and be disgusting. So we do it this way. One by one, until they're all out."
The unicorn winced.
"Can I at least take some painkillers first?"
"Why don't you 'naturally produce' some?" Chain Mail taunted.
Soft Spoken sighed and trotted over to a medicine cabinet, returning with a box of pills.
"We only have so many of these," he warned, "You can take them now, but they won't last forever. This is going to fucking hurt, one way or another."
"Consider it your punishment in advance for traumatising an entire city," Gold Coin suggested helpfully.
"You guys are dicks," Explodey said bitterly.
"Well, that explains why you love us so much. OH SNAP!"
"BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN!" Chain Mail shouted.
"Quite," Softy replied.
In the corner of the clinic meanwhile, Mystic just sat alone, an air of melancholy around him.
When is Sliske getting back...?
The room was full of lights and the sound of music. People all over the place were mingling, just standing and talking, or laying on the sofas. Some were dancing, and others were drinking. A lot of people were gathered around the refreshment table, all taking shots and laughing at jokes that some guy was repeating from a television show he saw.
Howard made his way over to that group. One of the men at the table saw him approach, and threw up his arms happily.
"Howie! Ya made it!" he slurred drunkenly.
"Sure did. Happy birthday, Stu."
"Hey! Fuckin'...great to have ya! I was worried you was all depressed an' the like right now. I heard Joanne was cheatin'?"
"Yeah. I got into the drink for a while. It was bad for me. And I found out that I'm not a pleasant drunk. I'm not doing that anymore. My brother said it isn't good for me."
Stu patted his friend on the back.
"Good on ya! Don't s'pose you'll be drinking tonight then?"
"No way. After last night, I'm never drinking again."
"'Kay. I guess I c'n respect that. But hey! At least tell me you'll get up and do us a song like you did at my last party? Huh?!"
"Oh. I don't know..."
"Come on! Everyone loves your singing!"
He nudged him with an elbow.
"I heard Carol from our class really loves it, if you know what I mean.."
"Is she here?"
Stu pointed behind him. Howard twisted his head around and looked back across the crowd to see her sitting on a sofa in the other room, talking and laughing with some of her friends.
"...Alright. I will."
"YESSSSS!" Stu crowed triumphantly, "Oh! Come on! Gary's band bought along their instruments and everything! They said they'd play if you'd sing."
"Did Clyde bring along his keyboard too?"
"Hell yeah he did! What have you got in mind?"
"Figured I might do some Elton John."
Stu slapped him on the back again.
"Go for it! Liven this place up! Fucking get crazy!"
Twelve minutes later, Howard was up on the stage and holding the microphone, as Stu ran around trying to get everyone's attention.
"COME ON!" he shouted, "Everyone quieten down! Ol' Howie's gonna sing for us again!"
The small crowd cheered.
"An'...Gary and 'is people are gonna play too!"
Even more cheering.
"Right! Go on, Howie! Let's hear it!"
Stu got off the stage and ran off to the side, while everyone looked on expectantly. Over the back, Howard saw Carol smiling, waiting for it to start. He smiled and nodded at her once, before turning back to Gary and the band and signalling them to start.
Ending theme's already playing I guess.
You know, I was surprised by how easy this chapter was to write considering how much of central character Second is to it. He's a forty five year old guy with most the major parts of life behind him and a lot of family conflict, and I have no personal experience with those sorts things to base it on. Luckily I have two uncles to hate each other, so I'm not completely in the dark about how to write a character like that. Hopefully it did come off at least somewhat believably, especially in the bits where it started getting political. I hope it didn't go too far or personally offend anyone.
Well, whatever. If you only write what's familiar to you and don't take risks, you just stagnate. Even if it doesn't always work, this story if anything should show that I like to be experimental when writing. It helps me learn, I think. Push limits, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, try again. It's a great philosophy to live by.
On a less serious note, last chapter I closed off with Vortal Combat from Half Life as the ending theme, just as Second and Nathan began to fight. If you haven't already, actually go back and read the fight scenes in this chapter with that music playing. It is fucking awesome.
Next Chapter: BATMAN.