((I know I said last chapter this probably wouldn't happen again. But it turns out that FiM Fiction doesn't allow strike-throughs in stories. So... Again for the sake of reading as it was intended to be presented I recommend checking gdocs here. The whole story is below, but some scenes may not make much sense.))
It’s hard to judge how the world looks to other ponies. How you look. The best you can do is hope you understand how they think. The things they feel and the way they’ll react. But there’s no guarantees. Sometimes ponies act in ways which just don’t make any sense. Sometimes they hate with no reason. Sometimes they love without expecting returns. Their vision of the world and your own might never align.
Even worse when madness takes hold. How do you reason with someone who lacks even basic understanding of the world? Am I even capable of understanding a normal pony? How far removed is anypony from anypony? Worst of all, perhaps, is a pony who has lost their mind from outside sources. How well do you know the depths of a friend’s mind? Would you still recognize them when they’re taken far away by drugs and emotions?
Ohno, ohno! I leaped to my hooves in the small, dark room. My heart was racing and mind filled with horrible images. Scraps was going to drink that thing I had created and who knew what it would do to her! I couldn’t let that happen. After everything and everypony I’d left behind I couldn’t let the one who saved me end up as an addicted mess. Brilliant white light filled my vision as the world imploded around me.
The familiar surroundings of Scraps’ workroom reasserted itself around me. But it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. My heart skipped a beat as I spotted the empty blender pitcher, still spinning on the serving tray. No! I was too late! Maybe... Maybe she’d be okay? Slowly I tore my eyes away from that horrifying sight to the rest of the room.
My heart sank and fear lanced up my spine as I saw the walls. They were plastered edge to edge in hundreds of sheets of paper. Blueprints, notes, equations and the occasional odd doodle covered their surfaces. They hung practically everywhere in the room, even being plastered to the ceiling. A dozen sheets hung from the fan like some bizarre child’s mobile, fluttering in the air as they were dragged in a lazy circle.
What had happened in here? Obviously Scraps had drunk the Balefire Blender, but... What had she been DOING? A huge pile of random junk was spewed across one corner of the room, around the base of one of her lockers. Across the room I could see a pile of empty Sparkle~Cola bottles, easily large enough to bury a pony alive, sitting beside her fridge.
My heart was beating faster and faster, a tight pain surging through my chest. Like being stabbed, but more painful. No, no, no! She... Where was she!? Scrambling across the room I began to rip the bottles free, pulling apart the piles of junk. She had to be somewhere. She couldn’t possibly have gotten very far. We’d only been apart for a few minutes at most. She had to be somewhere. Right? Right!?
For a moment I tore the room apart, searching under everything within reach. Not in the piles of junk. Not under the empty cola bottles. Not hiding under her blanket. Where was she- “Wake up ponies, for it is time to meet me, the queen of all that you see!” A familiar voice boomed through the air. “But worry not, my little ponies, for I am just and fair!” Those words completely stopped my heart. “So step up and raise your hooves, we’ll all do our part!”
The electric tingle of panic screamed through my mind. This was not good at all. What was she doing!? Instantly I was off, crashing across the room and over her counter. My rear hoof caught on the lip sending me tumbling through the air. Just barely, I managed to get my hooves back under me and skidded to a stop just short of the door. How did I DO that!? No, not now. Friend in danger first. I shoved against the door and exploded out into the junkyard proper.
What greeted me was certainly not what I expected.
Brilliant white floodlights streamed across the junkyard, focused around a massive chariot. A Sparkle~Cola machine had been mangled, cut in half and gutted to make the body of the chariot. The other half propped up to form a back for it. Four wheels had been attached, looking so mis-sized I couldn’t believe it would actually work. The rear pair were massive rubber things stolen from some huge transport wagon. The front wheels were practically tiny by comparison, small and metal, stolen from some ancient carriage. Tiny multi-colored lights were strung across the chariot, blinking on and off in a regular pattern. She... She had to have been working on this for a while, right? There was no way she could have constructed something like this so quickly. I’d only been gone a few minutes!
The chariot was being drawn by a massive machine. Four long legs ending in rollers supported a squat, wide body. Long, thick arms welded to its chassis in an obvious modification. Their exposed pistons and gears showing both the made-at-home nature and the skill of their construction. Two claws, each with three long pincers, were mounted at the end of those arms, enough force behind them to snap bones and sever limbs with ease. A rotary cannon with six colored lenses mounted on its top. The weapon which Scraps had stopped it from firing at me. Much of the robot was a patchwork of metal, bare of color or design, but a few bits of sky blue paint clung resiliently to its frame. Cold horror ran up my spine as I took in its form. That was the robot which had broken my leg!
Seated in the back of the chariot was Scrap Heap, sitting tall and regal. An old, torn umbrella-hat settled atop her mass of curly hair. Spires of twisted metal ringed the outer edge, tiny blinking lights settled behind multi-faceted gems at the tip of each spire. She’d had time to build an entire chariot but not braid her mane? How was that possible?
Around her throat was a delicate silver necklace, shining beneath the floodlights. The necklace held up a familiar robe, the half-white, half-black symbol I had seen many times before gracing its surface. The preacher’s cloak? But why would she decide to wear that of all things? My mind scrambled for answers where there weren’t any. That symbol was important! She couldn’t possibly know how important it was!
My heart pounded in my chest. Scraps was here, but she looked okay. Okay? She’d plastered her entire room in notes! And now she was riding around on a crazy deathtrap made of salvaged parts! That was definitely not okay. “Oh, Aurora! There you are. I was afraid I’d be looking for you all day!” Day? It’s the middle of the night! Scraps’ voice had a comforting, almost serene, quality to it. “Now, now, no need to have a fit!” A grin spread across her face. “Why don’t you join me? I’ll get you up to pace!” She patted the chariot beside her.
My eye twitched slightly. “Scraps. You need to come inside and lay down. I’ll go get Frozen Fog. He’ll look you over, so everything will be fine, okay?” My hooves moved of their own accord, trotting nervously in place. This was crazy! She couldn’t seriously be out here like this, could she? What was she even doing!?
Scraps frowned as she looked me over, raising a hoof to her chin in thought. “Now now, dear Princess Aurora. Tonight is a night for excitement, not time to be distraught!” Augh! Not her too! Was everypony in the wasteland going to call me that? How did she even know that name!? “If you’re going to worry yourself sick, I’m not to blame!” Scraps reached out and kicked the front of the chariot. The robot in the front began to roll, heading towards a large junk pile. “So what do you say? Relax and have a great big smile!” The sound of her giggling echoed through the speaker system around the lot.
For a moment I sat in disbelief. Was... Was Scraps really completely oblivious to what was going on? I’d never seen her so... happy. That can’t be normal, right? There’s no way this could be a good thing. She needed help! Maybe... Maybe I could just grab her and drag her back? Then she’d have to sit and listen. She might not like me for it. But I could do it. I would do it! She’d come back one way or another!
Struggling to calm my panicked legs, I took off after the chariot. The squeaking of its wheels terminating abruptly. By the time I got there, Scraps was nowhere to be found. “Hey! Up here, not on the ground!” Above me? There she was! Climbing one of the speaker poles! “Now somewhere out there is what I need. But it could be in any one of those holes.” She was peering down at the massive pile of junk her ride had stopped near. “Oh well. No time for fear!” My eyes went wide, was she really going to... oh, no! “Geronimo!”
She leaped from the pole and flew through the air. My heart fell with her, filled with despair. For a moment I scrambled, shocked and fluttered. My brain struggling to keep up as my magic sputtered. Downwards she fell, purple light all around. I couldn’t let her hit the hard unyielding ground! The struggle to stop her was strong and unseen. Mere moments ticked by as through the air she careen’d. The resounding clatter of metal filled the air as into metal she slammed. She vanished in an instant, my heart sinking low, I scrambled to dig for her, hopelessness be damned!
A moment of horror spread through my mind. She wasn’t there! Digging through the metal with my magic, I ripped layer after layer of junk. The resounding clatter of it falling filling the cool night air. She had to be somewhere! Another crash as Scraps surfaced again, the air filled with a metal flurry. “Oh, Aurora. Don’t worry!” A grin spread across her face as she leaped from the heap, carrying a metal bar in her mouth. Her voice raised, as the air resounded with the sound. “When I was a little filly and there was junk all arooooound!”
My eyes twitched again. She wasn’t seriously... No way. There was no way she was going to be singing now! “You... You’re sick. You’re hurt. You need to come inside and relax! T-to stop doing this!” Please, please stop this madness. It was bad enough to know the things I had done wrong! Now she was doing this too!
Scraps just grinned, trotting across the pile. She dropped the metal bar to the ground. “The metal and the wires were all that could be fooooound!” A frown spread across her face as she dug into the junk pile, shoving the metal rod into a hoof-made slot. “I’d sit inside my room, drawing all the things I thought!” What was she doing!? She just grinned and backed up, hopping happily towards the rod. A moment she leaped on it, hurling junk into the air. Staring at the huge collection, containing whatever she sought. “But my teacher said that wasn’t the way that machines were wrought!” Her grin infectious as the pile of metal sailed towards the air towards me.
Panic screamed through my mind as I reflexively grabbed the hurled metal in my telekinesis. Purple glow surrounding and separating it all out. Dozens of metal girders, a coiled section of wiring, a mass of rivets. How had she pulled all this out at once? In just one leap! That should have been impossible. “Scraps... Please, please calm down. You’ve got to come back inside.” Surely she’d see reason sometime, right? Right!?
The massive grin across Scraps’ face as she approached did nothing to quell my fears. “She said ‘Filly, you’ve gotta build your dreams, pick your bolts and gears!” She looked up at the floating pile of junk, a moment before leaping from the ground to my head then up into the cloud of junk.
The sudden clopping to the head broke my concentration, the rain of metal falling all around me. Horror struck my mind as Scraps whole body disappeared. The only part still visible were her ears! “You’ll see that they’ll be real just focus your work until it all appears!’” Her voice continued its attentions. Until she finally surfaced again, holding a pair of large tanks by her teeth. A moment of attention and a brilliant blue flame burst from the tip of a welding torch. She touched it to one of the metal girders, producing a distinctive ‘Shunk, shunk, shunk’ sound.
The brilliance of the light blinded me a moment. Forcing me to look away from her. When I finally looked back she was assembling something with her hooves. Holding it in place with a back hoof as another drove rivets and she held the welder in her mouth. It didn’t seem to hamper her singing any, though.
“Soooooooo...!” She gave one piece of the construction a shove. “Build it up with love!” She grabbed up another bar, working piece by piece. What was all this a part of? “Make it tower above!” My heart was already skipping beats. This couldn’t be normal, could it? Without thinking I grabbed a metal bar when she gestured for it. My mind wasn’t even considering the gall. “Take pieces great and small!” She smashed rivets into place with a maul. “Put it together to show them all!” Together we continued to dig through all she’d found. “Inspiration is all around!” The resounding clang filled the air as she continued to pound. “Don’t just leave it on the ground!”
She was moving faster and faster now, piece by piece her work taking shape. A huge collection of metal girders and wiring. From where we were standing I couldn’t even tell what it was going to look like when finished, but she obviously had a plan. Her voice growing faster and faster the more work she did. Piece by piece it all came together, soon growing to the end of her song: “And take those pieces and put them together and show the world how they can’t possibly understand everything and if they think they know what you can do they’re all wrong!”
This was all too insane. There was no way this could be real. I had to be dreaming, right? I’d fallen asleep in my bedroom and I was imagining all of this. Yeah, that’s it. Couldn’t actually be happening! My eyes twitched a little again. “Scraps... Scraps... J-just calm down. It’s not... This isn’t... Please don’t...” My words were failing, my thoughts were failing. Even my legs felt like they were failing as they wobbled under me. This was all my fault! If she got hurt, or worse, it was because of me.
The blue and blond mare didn’t even seem to be listening this time. The grin across her face was just too wide as she dashed off, heading towards the rest of the houses. My legs carried me after her without thinking. What was she doing!? Rushing from house to house she knocked on each door. The resounding boom of her voice through the announcement system repeated once again. “Wake up! Wake up! It’s time to work! We’ve got a town to build, and it won’t be a pain!” She was... She was completely insane.
Slowly ponies began to pour out of their houses. Surely someone here had to be able to put a stop to this, right?
Oh, how I wish I was right...
Shouts of confusion rang out across the Junkyard. Ponies awoken from their slumber by Scraps’ announcements slowly filtered from their homes. She didn’t even pause to talk to them, continuing on from building to building to awaken more. My hooves beat hard against the metal which made up the ground of most of the yard as I gave chase. Heart beating heavily in my chest and legs wobbling with each hoof-fall. Scraps was slipping further and further away from me.
The fluttering motion of her cape was just ahead of me, only a few hoof-falls before I could catch her. If she were just standing still it would be so easy. A little magic and she’d be in the air, unable to run any further! But not like this, if I did it wrong I’d hurt her. After everything which had gone wrong tonight, I couldn’t do that. Not a chance. “Scraps... Scraps calm down! We need to get you checked out! Come back and let Frozen Fog look you over. He’s really good at that kind of thing!” Well, admittedly I had no idea how good he was. But he was better than anypony else we had!
A grin passed over Scraps’ face, “What and give up our wonderful race!?” she clattered past another building, bashing on the door with a forehoof without even slowing down, “Come on now, Aurora, run faster, there’s no need to frown!” She pressed onwards, bouncing on all four hooves into the air. Somehow she kept staying in front of me no matter how fast I ran. I was bigger than her, tougher than her, stronger than her, I should be catching up to her! How was she still managing to stay ahead of me like that!?
Suddenly she turned in her bounces, rounding a corner between two buildings. My hooves almost got ahead of me as I struggled to stop before skidding straight past her hiding place. My hooves kicked up tiny sparks against the metal on the ground, as I slid to a stop at the end of a long alley. The buildings were clustered close together, a large wall at the far end. [strike]There was Scraps, standing out in the open, easy to see and catch. There was no more running now![/strike] The alleyway was strangely empty, where had she gone? Had she completely vanished? Oh come on! Something was very wrong. There should have been nowhere to go! My eye twitched again, “Scraps..? Come on out. I won’t hurt you!” slowly trotting in to the alley as I began to shift some of the junk to search for her.
A sudden weight settled upon my back. A giggle came from just behind my ear, “Why Aurora, don’t be silly, I’m right here!” Scraps’ goggles suddenly filled my vision as she leaned forwards to look at me upside down. I could feel her hooves reach around to grab my cheeks and pull my mouth into a grin. “Don’t look so dour, we’re just about to begin!” In an instant she was off again, hopping from my back and bounding away out of the alley. My heart throbbed in my chest and my head span. What just happened!? She was... But I was... But she couldn’t... And I didn’t feel... AUGH!
Think later, chase now. Spinning on my hooves I was off again. The fluttering of that robe drove me further. It was so important, my mind screamed in frustration and agony to see that symbol abused so. But Scraps seemed so happy as she moved. But so... Wrong, too. She’d always been enthusiastic, but never so bubbly and uncontrolled. This was all my fault. Everything which went wrong tonight was because of me. Please let me save her before things went really bad.
Rushing onwards my eyes were fixed upon the earth pony mechanic as she began to announce again. “Come on everyone! Join your hooves as friends! We’ll show the wasteland that we can win!” Win? Win what? There wasn’t any contest going on here! Unless you counted survival as a contest. Some days it certainly felt that way, but not tonight. Tonight felt more like a disaster. [strike]Had to keep focused on Scraps, even as my mind was screaming at me in a dozen directions. My sight never wavering from her despite the distractions.[/strike] My thoughts pulled me away for but a moment, drawn by the horrible things which might come of all this. When I shook off those feelings something was amiss! Scraps had vanished into the yard. Finding her in this mess was going to be so hard!
Around me I could hear the shouts of other ponies. Out of the corners of my eyes I could just make out their shapes, galloping back in another direction. All of this was so wrong, so very very wrong. I had to catch Scraps before she hurt herself, or someone else.
My heart throbbed in my chest, legs were beginning to ache now. After a long day of walking and running and fighting and no sleep even I was getting close to the breaking point. For a moment I slowed, trying to catch my breath. Scraps was gone, she could be anywhere at this point. “This is insane...” a quite moment to voice my feelings. Somehow that made me feel better despite changing nothing.
Leaning lightly against a building I raised my head, just in time to spot Scraps as she breached the surface of another pile of junk. For a moment she flew through the air, turning and curling back on herself before falling again, hooves first, into the pile of refuse. Instantly she vanished again, like she were just diving beneath the surface of a still pond. How was she DOING that!? This shouldn’t be possible! A moment more and she was at the top of that pile of junk again, sifting through it with a speed and ease which was terrifying to behold. An unfamiliar piece of machinery balanced between the spires of her ‘crown’.
At first I didn’t think she’d seen me. At least not until she turned and gave a giggling smirk, “Come now, Aurora. Responsibility you can’t shirk!” Winking as she leaped from the junk again, bouncing up towards me with that thing on her head, “There’s no need for you to be filled with dread!” She reached up a hoof to press to my nose, “Just come along, you’re my number one assistant, so just go with the flow!” Instantly she bloomed into full grin again and bounced away. Augh! Number one assistant!? Was she insane! I could barely keep track of myself some days.
“Okay Aurora. You can do this. She can’t run forever. Right? Right.” Slowly I heaved myself back to my legs. I wasn’t going to chase her on the ground, I just had to catch her some other way! Spreading my wings I beat them hard, taking to the sky and circling higher and higher. The wonderful freedom-filled rush of flight surged across my body. The little wind currents ripped through my mane and along my coat. My hooves beat against empty air out of reflex. It felt good, for a moment I just wanted to let myself drift lazily in the sky. But now was not the time!
Down below, amongst the brilliant lights and reflections I could see her. A crowd of ponies were gathering in the main square, but Scraps wasn’t there. She was heading elsewhere. The distinctive colors and flutter of the preacher’s robe gave her away, even amongst all the junk. In an instant I descended, hurling myself down with wings folded close. Descending faster and faster until I was barely above her. In an instant I spread my wings wide, landing directly on top of her. Barely braking hard enough to avoid crushing her alive. [strike]But now she was trapped, there was no way she could escape! “Scraps! You’re coming in for help! There’s no getting away!”[/strike] Beneath my hooves a figure was trapped! Wait a second, that wasn’t Scraps. Instead a metal equine form, welded together in haste. I could have hit full speed and it wouldn’t be paste! What was going on!? There was no way she could have seen me.
“Oh dear sweet princess! Your speed was quite in excess. But don’t you worry. You won’t be sorry!” The model pony under my hooves crackled with sound. This close I could see the robe was actually just some tattered cloth tied around it. How could I possibly have made that mistake? This was insane! “Don’t worry about me, I’m certainly not dead. But for now, off with my head!” Wait, what?
The head of the not-Scraps beneath me detonated with a small explosion, a sudden wave of purple washing across my face and staining my muzzle. This wasn’t... It couldn’t be... A drop fell onto my tongue. Razzleberry. She built a razzleberry bomb into her toy, just to mess with me? She had to be somewhere close by to appreciate it. A glance towards nearby rooftops. There she was! Scraps was standing on her hind legs, a tiny remote control on one hoof and the other firmly pressing the button on top. A black marker held between her teeth. What was that for?
Laughter filled the yard. “You should see the look on your face! You’re not making this very hard.” She leaped from the top of the roof and skated nimbly down the side on her hooves. Small sparks flying into the air behind her as she skidded down and leaped over top where I was standing. “Wheeeee!” Bounding away along the rooftops.
Briefly I just stood, shocked and confused. The thick, sweet goo dripping from my face. Splat, onto the ground below. My mind dredged up that awful feeling again, that sense of being coated in another pony. The moment of horror as Requiem walked in upon me. The moment of weakness when I did worse than murder. I had destroyed someone. Ground her up and bathed in her remains. Made a mistake and lost myself, now I was risking losing someone else for my stupidity. My gaze went back towards the goo as tears forced their way from my eyes.
For a long moment I just stood there, my legs wobbled beneath me and tears washed down my muzzle. This was wrong. This was all wrong. It was my fault. Scraps had gone mad, the yard was in an uproar, and it was because of me. How many ponies were going to suffer if Scraps really lost it tonight? How many had I promised a home to? How many would be out and alone now...? It was because of me. My fault.
The soft sound of hooves on metal drew my attention slowly upwards. Scraps was standing at the end of the row between the two buildings, marker still held in her lips. “There’s no need for your heart to do flips. Just come with me, you’ll see. It’ll be fun, just stand up and run!” Bouncing on her hooves there, excited as she watched me. For a long moment I considered just collapsing. But she was right there, I couldn’t let her get away now.
Heaving myself back to my legs I began to move after her. Not a run or a gallop or a chase now, just a lethargic and slow walk. Barely strong enough to lift each hoof in front of the other. The weight in my chest pressing down against my legs. Like gravity had suddenly become a dozen times stronger. The sweet goo on my face slowly dripping away from me, washed off by tears. Scraps glowered in my direction as she hopped along not far ahead. She was leading me now, I was sure. But why and where?
We rounded a corner and she lead on, until we stood near the center of the town. Dozens of ponies had gathered around. Her carriage sitting near the small gurgling fountain and the framework she had constructed resting nearby. Slowly she climbed to the top of the vehicle, amidst the blinking lights. Her voice boomed across the yard, “Welcome now our guest of honor! The great and amazing Princess Aurora! Without whom we would not have this home to call our own! So important I’ll even break my rhyming rhythm for her!” Wait, rhyming? And me? What had I done..? And even she was going to call me that now!? Ugh.
My legs sunk out from under me as I collapsed towards the ground. Dozens of ponies were standing around confused and questioning as they stared up at her. She just grinned in return, “Now let me remind you all. What it is that makes us stand proud and tall. Gather around and we’ll work together. To see one more day as ponies of a feather!” Ponies of a feather? Now she was really reaching...
For a moment the crowd was peaceful. Cheers began. Then the real madness started as Scraps spoke up again. This time to individual members.
Nopony could stop what was coming. Nopony wanted to.
My head was swimming. A half-dozen voices argued for dominance. Parts of me were terrified about what was happening to Scraps, horrified I’d doomed my friend to madness. Parts of me were perplexed by how she was doing all this, sending deep unsettling feelings to my stomach, what she’s done shouldn’t be possible in such a short time. Parts of me wanted to just let go and have fun, enjoy the moment and bask in the fun. Part of me was proud and strong and wanted that love and worship, wanted to have everypony chant my name and know my greatness. Part of me was terrified of accepting anything like that, I wasn’t anypony special, I was just a lost soul in the wasteland. I didn’t deserve their praise or love.
Around me, the ruckus had started in earnest. Ponies stomping their hooves against steel plates, shouting and raising their voices in celebration. Dozens of figures huddled nearby, pulling closer and closer around me as Scraps’ voice boomed out. “And you, Golden Gate! You’ve been looking for a place to work your architecture, to fill space with much haste! The buildings you draw are beautiful and strong! With your help this town’s design can’t go wrong!” An architect? In the wasteland? Then again, I had seen a lot of buildings and repairs to buildings. Somepony out there had to know something about construction.
The confused haze across my mind grew worse and worse, as Scraps' speech continued onwards unabated. This was getting so confusing. And she kept using that title I hated! “Princess Aurora brought you all here! She lead you to salvation and a place without fear! Everyone has dreams and goals! If we work together we can all fill each other’s holes!” My head was throbbing now, confusion growing greater and greater. She went on like this for what felt like hours, the night growing on later and later.
Another cheer went up through the crowd as they started to gather closer. A cheer went up from Scraps, as suddenly I was lifted from the ground; half a dozen ponies around me heaved me into the air. No! I wasn’t someone worth treating this way! Wings and legs struggled in vain, the throbbing pain in my mind making it hard to even pick out individual ponies as they hauled me closer.
A moments later I stood in front of Scraps again. She was on the ground, not her carriage, standing just in front of me. “And for her humility, her sacrifice and her kindness, I give Aurora a crown of her very own! The princess and founder of our dear town!” She heaved an extra large umbrella hat from the cart, covered in dozens upon dozens of tiny sparkling lights.
Towers of twisted metal which matched hers but were if anything more grand and elegant. The rear half of the umbrella had been ripped off, leaving something more akin to a tiara. It twinkled with its own internal glow, as she set it upon my head. The weight of it on my brow felt heavy enough to snap my neck. Not heavy with weight, but heavy with... Something else. Shame? Fear? It was hard to tell. Something about it just felt so wrong. I shouldn’t be wearing it, I didn’t deserve to wear it. But my legs were too tired, my heart too weighted down, to take it off right now.
Behind me a cheer went up. Hoots, shouts and whistles filled the air. Scraps just grinned at me, the shining silver of the necklace around her neck seemed to be outdone by sparkling white teeth. How did she manage to keep them in that state in the wasteland? Why was I thinking about that right now? “Scraps... You need...” My voice was almost silent, too weak to really protest any more as Scraps threw a leg around my neck, pulling me tight against her. By reflex, I stuck out my tongue in surprise. She was stronger than she looked!
“Now come on everyone, you’ve all seen and heard what you seek! We just need to work together and not be meek! With everything you’ve imagined, you can make this the best town ever! Right here, at the Junkyard, together forever!” Another cheer rippled through the crowd, as voices responded in kind to Scraps’ call. Suddenly music started streaming through the public announcement system. Where had Scraps found that!?
The familiar white and pink form of Rosemary stepped forward, raising her voice.
“At the Junkyard! In the cafe! I am going to feed them all!”
She swept a hoof back towards a small building, it looked quite nice.
“All the vittles, I will cook it at the Junkyard! (At the Junkyard!)”
Dozens of other ponies echoed her sentiments in perfect time.
“All the ponies and the traders they will stop by my feed hall!”
The exhausted confusion was catching up with me, even thinking in rhyme!
“They’ll eat my food and tell tales, right here in the Junkyard!”
Her voice raised higher and higher, her excitement carrying on for all to see.
Dozens of ponies were moving closer, their voices raised all around me.
“All our dreams will come true! Right here at the Junkyard. At the Junkyard!”
Forward rolled an electric wheelchair, the whine of its motor lost in the crowd.
“At the Junkyard (It’s amazing), I will show them (Do you know her?)!
Lilac looked up towards the starry skies, her voice strong and proud
“I can still work hard each day (Pull your weight)!”
She raised her still good hoof towards the sky, a tear running from her one eye.
“Worthy ponies (Working hard), they will see me (Look at you), working hard for everyone (All of us)!”
Raising her hoof to wipe away that tear she let out a long sigh.
“And I’ll show them all I'm still useful, right here for the Rangers!”
As ponies raised their voices in time again, Scraps had moved; upon her construction she was tying ropes.
“All our dreams and our hopes, from now until hereafter. All that we’ve been wishing for will be found at the Junkyard! At the Junkyard!”
Soon ponies were grabbing strands and pulling them taught, willing to work hard for all their hopes!
A familiar cutie mark of a ball and chain soon passed before my face.
“At the Junkyard, all the ponies, will see judgement fair from me!”
He wove effortlessly across the crowd, through every open space.
“They will see that I’m not cruel, at the Junkyard! (At the Junkyard!)”
His gaze passed over those who might know his judgement one day.
“I will find them, the law-breakers.”
But not a single pony felt the need to fight against what he had to say.
“And how sorry they will be! They will face justice right here at the Junkyard!”
Behind me the metal tower began to creak and groan.
“This is what we’ve waited for, to have the best town ever! Each of us will live our dreams, each day at the Junkyard!”
Confusion filled my heart as Scraps had quickly returned to her throne.
The music shifted tones significantly, suddenly filled with brass and horns.
“Been dreaming, I’ve been searching, for a new place to perform!”
Violet Strings raised her bow high above though her face looked forlorn.
“My song will travel far and wide!”
Soon she had begun to drag that bow across her strings, filling the air with beautiful music.
“Ponies'll know that I ain't died!”
The sad face of Requiem peered out from behind, her silent gaze just as stoic.
“Perform for the whole wasteland!”
The cloudy grey filly looked so sad and all alone, amidst a crowd.
“They’ll know that life can be grand!”
Try as she might, even now she just couldn’t be loud!
“The wastelanders will hear me, right here at the Junkyard!”
All around ponies danced and sang, dragging harder upon those ropes, poor Requiem was so sad.
“All our dreams will all come true, our happy ever after! All our dreams, they will come true, right here at the Junkyard!”
Small tears fell from my eyes and my legs refused to move. No one deserved to suffer as she had!
Another small filly leaped up upon Violet Strings’ head, flapping her tiny wings!
“I am here at the great Junkyard! It is the best place for ponies!”
She squirmed as she raised her voice, singing of such important things.
“But the one thing I was missing was a pony to teach me!”
She reared up on her rear legs as a huge grin spread across her face.
“Arsenal’s the bestest pony, everypony will agree!”
Soon she swayed and tumbled towards the ground from her place, her voice never losing pace!
“We’ll go flying, we'll go soaring, together at the Junkyard!”
The groans grew louder and stronger with every passing tug and pull, dozens of ponies working now.
“Freedom and flying at the Junkyard! At the Junkyard!”
Soon their construction would be finished, my mind swimming in confusion and just looking on somehow.
Two other Alicorns swooped down, landing just beside me.
“At the Junkyard! With the Princess! Is where we want to be!”
Those voices sang their words in perfect harmony!
“She will tell us what we should do! Hear our greatest plea!”
But the horror of their words sank in and I suddenly wished to flee.
“It’s going to be so perfect when she takes our responsibility!”
What they wanted was not what I could ever be!
With a resounding ‘clang’ the tower came to full erection.
“This will be the best town ever!”
The crowds words came as a great interjection!
Scraps was off and doing her thing.
“Upon the Junkyard we must work!”
Even as the crowd continued to sing.
“We’re ready now, we won’t shirk!”
Their tone and words were in perfect time.
“Upon the Junkyard let us work and build the best town ever!”
But how was it possible for so many to know the rhyme!?
“Upon the Junkyard now’s the day, we’ll work together come what may!”
The chorus of ponies all sang with strength.
“Here in the Junkyard! (Here in the Junkyard!)”
Rosemary raised her voice, holding her notes with great length.
The line repeated over again and again.
“Here in the Junkyard! (Here in the Junkyard!)”
Lilac’s voice roared with the desire to win!
“Prove I can work!”
How could everypony know so much about what was to be said?
“Here in the Junkyard! (Here in the Junkyard!)”
Iron Clad’s voice seemed to only drive home how far sanity had fled!
“Guard the town!”
Violet Strings was filled with gusto and cheer.
“Play my strings for everypony!”
All joined together for the wasteland to hear.
“To feed! To prove! To guard! To play! To fly! To do!”
My mind swam and felt so drained and confused.
“Here in the Junkyard! Here in the Junkyard!”
Surely sanity had been horribly abused!
“And it’ll be the best town ever!”
Slowly the ponies began to disperse once more.
“At the Junkyard!”
As my hooves gave out, and my jaw again hit the floor.
All around me ponies had begun trotting together. Moving materials and working on new buildings, it seemed they really planned to stay forever! My heart pounded as the two beside me reached down. A whisper from one in my ear; “Please Princess, do not frown!” That title hurt and stung my heart. But they were right, I should do my part.
Slowly again I raised to my hooves, my thoughts turning to assist. But they were working and my presence was not missed. Many more had gathered nearby, to cheer and cajole. “Don’t worry, Princess Aurora. Just go with the flow!” Dozens of ponies shouted encouragement. But my thoughts were filled with lament. They kept using that title, which made me feel so bad. But their intent was not to make me sad!
Slowly I stood again, my mouth open to correct their mistake. But a resounding crash made me hesitate. A door swung open and familiar pony appeared. Wrapped in bright white robes and with anger to be feared! Her crippled wings were no disability. As she stomped across the yard, straight towards me! “Aurora! Some of us are trying to get our beauty sleep. Would you PLEASE tell your ‘dear subjects’ to KEEP IT DOWN!” Arsenal’s voice was filled with rage. Nearly exploding from what I could gauge. But this wasn’t my fault, I hadn’t started it! I should not be the target of her fit!
Opening my mouth to answer her demands, Scraps took it upon herself to foil my plans. She leaped down and trotted ahead, despite Arsenal seeming to wish her dead. What happened next felt almost unreal. But then, perhaps even I could see the appeal.
The grin upon Scraps’ face was not held back. But Arsenal’s annoyance showed no slack! “Well, well, this pegasus has been quite busy,” Scraps raised a hoof to Arsenal’s robe, across patchwork stitching and at edging did she probe, “There’s no need for you to get in a tizzy!” For a moment I thought Arsenal might just explode, her obvious rage had not been slowed! As I moved to stand and offer my help, Scraps called back with a swift yelp. “Guards! Detain the dear princess in my ride. Her discomfort I will not abide!”
Beside me the alicorns raised their wings to block my path. For a moment I considered pressing forward and risking their wrath. But then they spoke, two voices as one, in stalwart tones not to be outdone. “Princess please, the queen has had her say! Your worries are not needed this day.” But day had already gone, night now lingered on. Alas their magic whisked me away, before I could have my say. Soon they held me where I sat again. I couldn’t break free, though I heaved with the strain.
Adjusting the rollers tight in her mane, Arsenal glared at Scraps with great disdain. “Busy or not is no business of yours! Just keep quiet out here, or do you like me looking a mess..?” She practically growled that last word, I’m sure everypony had heard. Soon others were gathered all around, it seemed that their argument was gaining renown. “You might be content to leave your mane all a mess,” Arsenal prodded at the curly fluff beneath Scraps’ crown, her face covered by an elongated frown, “But some of us have standards. Not that I’d expect any of you muckdwellers to understand.” She waved a hoof in irritation. Others looked annoyed at that generalization.
Scraps merely smiled and put a hoof around her neck, giving her cheek a brief peck. “Shush you silly winged pony. Everyone here can see you’re a phony!” The grin which had spread ear to ear was now something I had learned to fear. “What you want is not beauty to make your commander proud. What you wish is a pony from amongst this crowd!” She surveyed the surroundings with intent most clear. Her gaze could be tracked behind her eye gear.
The pegasus groaned and tried to pull away. But Scraps wouldn’t let go until she had her say. “I do -not- want some grubby muckdweller as my special somepony, thank you very much. Some of us just have a basis for what makes a presentable mare, that’s all.” She huffed and puffed in angered frustration, while Scraps seemed to only increase in elation! “If you’re quite done with all that singing, will you let me go so I can get back to sleep?” Though her complaints were quite vocal, she seemed to be staying quite local.
A laugh and a bounce escaped our queen’s lips. Soon she was bouncing ‘round and doing flips! “Now, Cherry, my dear. I fully understand your plight!” She bounded and leaped with ease and grace. Now there was no chance for anypony to save face. “It’s abundantly clear that somewhere in here is a pony who will treat you just right!” She slipped and slid through the crowd, her singing coming quite loud.
For a moment Arsenal rolled her eyes, turning away with a frustrated sigh. “I can’t believe you’re starting.” She stormed back, ready to unleash her wrath. Only for Scraps to leap out and block her path. For a moment they stood - a glare and a grin - setting an odd tone to the mood. Finally Arsenal broke down with a slump, it seemed she was finally over the hump. “Fine, first let me set a few rules.” She raised a hoof towards Scraps, with each word she gave the earth pony light taps. “It’s of utmost importance that the pony I get is one who is sweet and knows tools.” She turned and stalked away a few paces, now they had practically swapped places!
Scraps raised a hoof to give a salute, she seemed to be having quite a hoot. “Sweet, tools, got it!” She rose to her hooves and trotted away. Soon, through the crowd, I could hear her voice say: “There’s so many ponies just wait you will see!”
Arsenal turned and swayed, though in her spot she stayed. “They will have to be smart and so stylish and stick right by me!” Her tail twitched despite being bound. Surely somewhere here a pony could be found?
Amongst the crowd a commotion stirred. The pony brought forth was not one she preferred. “How about Fog? He’s skilled and sharp and a technical wiz!” The ice blue unicorn heaved a groan. That was a fate he would certainly bemoan.
A ruffle of feathers and roll of eyes was followed swiftly by a disappointed sigh. “Skilled, sharp? Have you heard what he says?” Fog opened his mouth to protest the claim. But he was shuffled away before he could lay blame.
Scraps was off once again through the crowd. The look on her face still so proud. “Cherry have faith. Because I will bet you, somewhere out here is a pony who’ll get you!” She grinned as she trotted up to Arsenal’s side. Slowly I was settling in upon her ride. “Come on, sky’s the limit!” She waved a hoof towards the stars. A shuffle of wings showed off painful scars.
Raising a hoof towards the sky, Arsenal let off a mournful sigh. “Sky is good. I’d like to go home...” The longing look upon her face made it clear how much she’d lost to this place.
Scraps instantly moved far across empty space. I could teleport and even I wouldn’t match that pace! “Really? Because I think this earth pony has your name written all over him! Look, he likes you.” She forced a dark grey earth pony out, and he blushed. Certainly this kind of thing wasn’t to be rushed?
For a moment Arsenal stared at him; her response came slow, not on a whim. “... Pass.” She shook her head with a frustrated groan. How many more would she deny before making one her own?
Completely undeterred Scraps continued her song and dance. A rhythmic motion to bounce and prance. “There are so many wonderful choices for all you will need!” Soon she’d pulled two more forward against their will. Rosemary and Iron Clad, both holding perfectly still. “There are cooks and jailers who are quite clever!”
“Cooks and jailers do not like science.” Arsenal’s response was flat and dismissive. Did she have to be so derisive?
Filled to the brim with motion, Scraps replied to stem the commotion, “True, but I’m sure they could learn!”
A roll of the eyes and a quick slide, Arsenal was walking back inside! “That’s it, I’m out of here.”
Once again Scraps blocked her way, not willing to let the pegasus avoid her say. “Wait! There must be a pony who will meet your demands!” Reaching out with a hoof she pulled an armored pony near. Even beneath his armor I could see his fear. “How about a Ranger? Just look how tall he stands!” Horror and dread was what his stance declared. Was this the one Arsenal had repaired?
Arsenal looked him over with thought and consideration. Her answer was simple, despite much consideration. “Ugh. Smarter and cleverer!” She rolled her eyes with a growl. Her mood seemed to be turning even more foul.
“Smart. Clever. Right.” Scraps’ grin had not faded, her efforts continued unabated. “I’ve got just the thing right here, dear Cherry!” She rushed forwards throwing a hoof for a hug. Arsenal’s response was to give a frustrated shrug. “How about you and me!?” Her declaration came with great glee. Why was she calling Arsenal ‘Cherry’?
A grunt and a groan were the first answer back. Arsenal’s annoyance seemed to be right on track. “You’re just a muckdweller!” She pulled away from the other mare. Well, that was hardly fair!
Of the refusal Scraps did not seem to mind. A gentle poke with a hoof as she answered in kind. “Not any muckdweller. I’m also an engineer quite stellar!” In excitement she waved a hoof all around. Drawing attention to the machines which did abound. Many things sat within this pile of junk. Many repaired and made functional before they sunk!
Arsenal groaned and pulled away. What was it going to take to make her stay? “Yeah... Right.” She shook her head and twitched her tail. Surely this complaint could not fail? “Scraps my dear, this won’t cut it!” The pegasus stormed and stomped across the yard. The air filled with hooves clanging metal quite hard. “I need a pony who’s a guarantee.” She swung her flanks and turned about. Her face looking skyward in a lonely pout. “Somepony smart, somepony stylish.” A moment to adjust her robe hiding hesitation. Was she really so invested in her station? “Who knows enough to dress as well as me!” She had found dresses amidst the wreckage of time. And certainly she knew how to avoid most of the grime.
“I’m sensing you want someone pretty.” Scraps raised a hoof to tap her chin. Who knew what gears could be turning within.
A hoof was raised to cover Arsenal’s face, lowering her gaze in solemn disgrace. “No, you think?” Was getting her point across really this hard? I knew what she wanted, this was getting awkward.
As I opened my mouth to protest the misunderstanding, Scraps vanished in a puff of smoke, so alone Arsenal was standing. In an instant she left and in an instant returned. She wore a suit and a grin unconcerned. “I have many wonderful dresses if you won’t look by!” She raised a hoof to her neck to adjust an odd piece. For once in her life not covered in grease! “Like this gorgeous piece which comes with its own tie!”
Arsenal tilted her head from side to side. Her gaze lingering upon Scraps with some slight pride. “Better. But prettier.” That was surprising, and something I never expected to see. Arsenal looking upon Scraps approvingly?
The grin upon the mechanic’s face grew greater and greater. I hoped she wasn’t going to be paying for all this later. Soon she’d vanished off to wherever she went. The return trip was instant and seemed like time went unspent. “I see. How about a tuxedo? Or some slippers? Or nice boots?” Each item she listed was quickly retrieved. The appraising eye of Arsenal was not one to be deceived. “I have many types of clothing, soon you’ll see that!” In a moment she was carrying a box. Swiftly she undid all the locks. “Jewels and gemstones, don’t let out a groan!” The light from within sparkled and shined. Arsenal’s back leg kicked uncontrollably behind. “Perhaps what you’d like is a fanciful and amazing hat?” In a moment Scraps was no longer wearing her crown. Instead she was wearing something which looked more like a strange gown. Sparkling gems which matched starlit skies. With dark cloth and a feather of great size. Colors which seemed to match her revered cloak. All of a sudden I felt myself choke!
Sorrow and pain flowed from deep within. What a time for this to begin! That robe was important, its history vital. It belonged to the one for whom ‘Preacher’ was title! Yet there she was wearing it without shame. But who was I to lay that blame? Surely she had no way to understand, why I would make such a strange demand. I wished to shout to scream and protest. But right now was not the time for such unrest. The two were drawing closer than ever before. So I swallowed my pride and the pain I just bore. But what was it about that fanciful hat? What memory had it stirred to send my mind into such a spat?
That was a question I could not contemplate. For the singing and dancing did not abate! “Now you’re talking!” Arsenal’s voice cracked and squeaked with delight. It seemed they were growing closer tonight. “But only if you can manage to keep yourself clean!” She pressed a hoof to the mechanic’s shoulder. The pegasus definitely growing bolder. “So much muck, and work aplenty!”
Scraps frowned slightly as she looked away. For the first time tonight she seemed in dismay. “A mare needs her protection, if you ask me.”
The complaint fell upon deaf ears. Now it was my pegasus friend who let out the cheers. “The dress would be awesome. But the hat really suits you!” She tilted her head to one side then the other. Imagining her thoughts made me let out a shudder. “Are you sure you wouldn’t put up with a new hairdo?”
Scraps shook her head, long curly mane bobbing with each motion. The crowd of ponies had dispersed despite the ongoing commotion. “No. I’ve got a beautiful white gown just waiting for a night.” Now she was dressed again in something new. Long white and flowing, in the breeze it blew.
The appraising gaze of my winged friend, looked over the mare from end to end. “Are you sure it won’t be too tight?” She paused in thought as options were contemplated. Had her rejection of muckdwellers really abated? “A date, that’s it!” She sprang and shouted towards sky above. Pressing a hoof to Scraps with a gentle shove. “There’s really just one way, to find out if we are a match!” She curled her hoof in excitement as the idea took form. Could she really have been taken by Scraps’ charm? “We’ll have a time of peace, tranquility and love. Which will make each moment last!”
The grin upon Scraps’ face grew wider with joy. She responded to those thoughts with a voice most coy. “Don’t forget candles! Bet you’ll love it there, then we’ll know for sure whether we should be with each other!” She hooked a hoof around Arsenal’s neck. Together they trotted back towards the patched together wreck. They came closer towards me, their song filled with unchecked glee. “The ones who are happiest and best together!”
“Just you and me.” Arsenal returned the hoof in kind. Into the chariot they climbed. “Can’t settle for less. Because I’m the best! So together we will see.” She planted a soft kiss upon Scraps’ cheek. Soon the wheels began to creak. “Who’s the greatest, perfectest pony in the world for me!”
Slowly the carriage began to move. To each other they still had much to prove. Their voices raised in unity. Washing together across this small community. “Let the date begin, and may the best mare win!” Together we rolled across open ground. Had they completely forgotten I was around?
The music cut out as their song ended. What kind of ponies had I befriended!? For a moment I held my tongue, still worried about the two alicorns beside me being high strung. But as we went, my thoughts overpowered my fear. The time was drawing far too near. “Scraps please don’t do something you’ll regret! Arsenal, please, you can’t be taken in yet!” My voice whined and caught within my throat. But my thoughts I would not sugar coat! “She’s drunk too much of my gift this morning. She might do something crazy without warning!” My eye twitched and heart all aflutter. I struggled with each breath to avoid a stutter.
Arsenal and Scraps seemed not to notice at all. How far would these two fall? A building drew closer its walls simple and bare. This morning it had surely not been there! But what lay within I could not expect. Surely Scraps had already checked...
Soon the date was underway. It seemed I really had no say.
The room within those walls was dimly lit. Large enough for all of us with a comfortable fit. Tables filled much of its internal space. Soon Scraps and Arsenal together found a place. The two by my side moved with purpose and meaning. Finding me a place nearby I could listen without leaning. “Here you are, dear Princess Aurora. Please relax, I’ll fix your tiara.” A moment of green light as the weight on my head shifted. I hadn’t even noticed as at the edge of my vision darkness lifted. The dim light of the room came from high above. Dozens of dim headlamps hung down to set a scene for love.
My place at a table set with comfort and precision. Why hadn’t I been let in on this decision? “You two are going to follow me all night?” A sigh passed my lips, I wasn’t looking for a fight. “If I’m to be sitting here as they date, at least get me something to eat while I wait.” Food sounded like a wonderful thing. I hadn’t eaten since the Stable... no to the present I must cling! My mind threatened to whisk me away. Those horrible memories it wished to replay. A shudder ran down my spine at that thought. All attempts at mirth this night seemed to be for nought. “Bring me something sweet. Something tasty to eat. Anything to get my mind from this track. Something for which there is no lack!” Soon the two had departed from my side. My wishes they wished to abide.
Across the way at the table nearby, Scraps and Arsenal’s conversation nearly made me cry. They looked up as Rosemary came to ask them for their order. “I believe I will have some rigatoni. And for you my special somepony?” Arsenal’s voice was nearly saccharine in tone. The sound of it made me want to groan.
The grin Scraps returned was worse still -- I'd feared all this sweetness just might make me ill. “Now that is a question most severe. But I think I’ll have what you’re having, my dear.” From the paper upon her hooves she briefly read. Questions of where it had come from were ignored, I wished to enjoy this night instead. “And let us have a bottle of wine. That would be most magnificently divine.” This time I let out a quiet sigh. For once perhaps I was content to let time tick by.
My mind swam in confusion and fear. Scraps was still one I held most dear. This night was my fault, with all its twists and turns. It was my responsibility to deal with any emotional burns. The quiet creek of a door drew my attention. Shocking red mane and silent hoof-falls, Requiem arrived without mention. She took a place quickly by my side. The lonely look on her face made me wish I had died. A soft hoof laid around her shoulder -- the singing and dancing had left her alone, but all I could do was hold her. She leaned against my flank with a silent tear. Looking up towards Scraps and Arsenal I wished she could share their cheer.
“So there I was with nothing to use but tong tinglers. Would you believe how hard it is to fix whiz dinglers?” Arsenal was telling some story with words I did not know. Was she really just putting on a show? “Moment by moment my fear crept by. Then that jerk snuck up on me and yelled ‘Hey Pie!’.” She gritted her teeth with frustration and rage. Wrath which a laugh seemed to assuage. “The shock was great and my surprise beyond measure. So I turned to show him my displeasure. Only to realize in that moment of panic, I had fixed the machine and earned my cutie mark as a mechanic.” The laughter which erupted was instant and loud. But that was a story for which you should be proud.
My mind fixated upon that tale. A cutie mark was something everypony should have without fail. Yet there remained nothing shown upon my flank. My past was still so much a blank. My hoof moved without so much as a thought. A gentle stroke to Requiem made my mind less distraught. Soft music began to fill the air from nearby. Violet Strings was there to play and I wasn’t going to ask why. Soon bowls arrived for my friends’ table. It seemed Rosemary was still quite able. “I couldn’t find any rigatoni I’m sorry to say. But I did what I could with what I had anyway.” Two bowls which steamed just slightly in the cool air. The smell of tomato sauce spread everywhere.
Together my friends sat and talked the night away. Enjoying a meal of noodles and tomato puree. Arsenal’s delicate and controlled motion was a sharp contrast to Scraps’ violent emotion. She buried her face in the meal. Then again the way the food smelled made me almost squeal. Arsenal just laughed and raised an old cloth. Wiping tomato stains from her marefriend’s face in a wide swath. “Be more careful my silly widdle greasey-weasey-wrenchy-wenchy! There’s no need for you to get your face all drenchy.” Those words made my stomach nearly do a flip. How could she say those words while so obsessed with being hip!?
Scraps just smiled with entranced gaze. It was almost like she was in a daze. “I’m so sorry, my pretty cherry-werry-sweetie-pie. I’m not so used to giving manners a try.” She tilted her head to one side, looking ready to swoon. Someone please gag me with a spoon! Anything to stop my stomach’s complaints. At this rate I was going to need some restraints.
As if in answer to my prayers, the two other alicorns returned with their wares. A pile of snack cakes larger than my head. Was this where my request had led? Soon it was sitting on the table before me. My heart pounded as my mind filled with glee. The smell of sugar filled my senses with wonder. But before I could eat I thought of the table and the one under. Taking a few I floated them away, something for Requiem as a treat on this sad day. Soon I was cramming my face with sugary sweets. Glanced up some time later to my friends' empty seats!
The wonderful taste and ecstatic feeling blurred my perception. I had missed my chance for an interception! From up above I could hear hooves fall upon the roof. Why had they chosen now to become so aloof!? With fear and worry I rushed out the door. Straight out into the yard, watching these two was becoming a chore!
Up above upon the roof they sat together, staring up at the stars through cloudy weather. “You saw them every night back at home. But to us on the surface the sky was just a silver dome. So please don’t be angry at what some might have to say. Life isn’t fair and shouldn’t be this way. Many judge by looks or by type. Me? I say forget all the hype.” Scraps spoke with words of wisdom most true. Offering solace to one who once flew. “Those who come from closer or from far. We’re all the same ponies, each born beneath a star. The world is larger than most realize. How fair is it to judge just by travel size?” she shook her head in dismay, things should not be this way, “So don’t hate those who believe you stole the skies away. Here you’ll always have a place to stay.” A comforting smile for one lost and alone. Perhaps Arsenal felt the need to atone?
The pegasus looked upon skies far above her face quiet and quite long. How long had she been searching for a place to belong? Slowly she spoke with sad words and heartache. I hoped that tonight was not a horrible mistake. “This world is strange and horrible it’s true. But it’s not quite so bad when I’m with you.” Slowly downwards her eyes were cast. Was there something worse in her past? “When my wings were hurt and I could no longer fly. I believed for certain that day I would die. They came to me then, when I could not escape. They seemed intent to batter and rape.” She winced in pain and horror at the thought. She meant those raiders I fought? The memories that had stirred in me that day. The disturbance of my past upon my mind weigh. But that feeling was one I knew all too well. It was like being chained within hell. A feeling of weakness and powerless shame. The feeling that somehow it was you who was to blame.
The thought of her enduring such an awful thing made my blood boil. My mind churned and emotions a murky roil. Were that raider leader alive on this day, her hide I would surely flay. Parts of me protested the evils I committed, but the thought of the monster stopped soothed me more than I admitted. “They offered me a place when they saw my skill. ‘Do as your told or you’re the one we will kill!’. A bargain made with ponies not to be crossed. I saved my life but at what cost?” The sorrowful look as she gazed towards the ground. Not at me but at Requiem’s quiet sound. Did she know what they had done to the filly? She must have suspected, to not would be silly.
Scraps just patted her upon one hoof with a sigh. Her words were perhaps cruel but she was not one to lie. “They took her family friends and loved ones. They used your skills to build and repair those guns.” For a moment Arsenal looked shocked and pained. But soon composure she regained. Scraps continued her words of kindness and sorrow. I wondered briefly if they’d remember this tomorrow. “Do not blame yourself for another’s cruel ways. That is no way to spend your days. Instead look to tomorrow and all you can do. Know that you’re important though friends you have few.” A hoof raised to the chin of the pegasus most sad. Perhaps tonight wasn’t really so bad. A grin spread across her face as lips met. Scraps had been looking forward to this all night I’d bet. A kiss between two who were closest to me. For a moment they seemed as happy as could be. Yet Arsenal swayed and wobbled in her place. Leaning against Scraps as a brace.
Scraps in turn just laughed and called out. Her voice raised across the yard with a shout. “Aurora! Catch us!” She swayed as well and tumbled free and away. Her legs wrapped tight around Arsenal and grinning come what may. The two plummeted together through the open air. Panic scrambled through my mind, this wasn’t fair! In an instant they were wrapped in my magic bubble. Mere inches short of crashing into the rubble.
The moment of terror had passed, but the throbbing of my heart would still last. The two unconscious within my magic grip. Towards Frozen Fog did I zip. We needed his knowledge, expertise and thoughts. Quickly before the guilt tied me in knots!
A groan broke the silence within Scraps’ store. Arsenal began to stir atop the ancient patched-together couch. It had been hours since I carried them both in here from the rangers’ barracks. Frozen Fog had not been too pleased when I told him the details about my gift to Scraps, but after checking the two out he seemed certain they were both fine. Or would both be fine in time, at least.
Right now Scraps was sleeping off her intoxication in her hammock. Arsenal was just coming around. I was mostly just glad the madness was over, my legs aching slightly from hours of silent pacing. Requiem sleeping silently atop the store counter. I’d told her to go off to bed several times, but she never listened to me.
“Bwuh... What happened?” Arsenal’s voice finally raised into the air, “Why does my mouth taste like mechanic? And... Tomato sauce?” Sticking out her tongue briefly. ‘Taste like mechanic’? How often had she kissed another pony to have some idea what they actually tasted like? “Last thing I remember was... Oh. Oh dear.” It’s funny how easy it is to see a bright red blush on dark red coat, really. You’d think it’d blend in a lot more.
A grin passed my face, “Oh, don’t you worry. Your greasey-weasey-wrenchy-wenchy is resting in the next room. She’ll be fine by the time the sun comes up. Or at least Frozen Fog seems to think so.” Wow, I thought blushes were easy to see. Apparently flushes were even easier, as Arsenal seemed to turn a shade of pale pink which couldn’t possibly be healthy.
A shuddering gasp as she raised a hoof to her forehead and collapsed back onto the couch. Dammit, that was the third time tonight. At this rate she was never going to recover! Though it wasn’t any less amusing this time than the last two, I had to admit.
Aurora Borealis (Level Up! - Level 10)
New Perk: Mare of Destruction - Your talent for destroying everything you lay your hoof upon is rivaled only by the guilt you feel for everything you leave a smoking crater in your wake. You receive a permanent +5% to your critical hit rate with all attacks.
Silent Requiem (Level Up! - Level 9)
Arsenal (Level Up! - Level 9)