A stirring. My thoughts aligned into a semblance of… Damn it. Not again.
A dull throbbing shifted throughout my body. Well, there's proof that I was still alive anyway. Somehow. And only for now, I guessed. My breathing was regular and I felt surprisingly dry. When was the last time I had been dry? And clean, I realized, when I couldn't feel any mud or dirt clinging to my coat.
Wait. I had lost consciousness in the presence of those three young fillies, hadn't I? Which meant that if I had been tended to, I was captured. A deep, sinking sensation pushed through my chest. My struggle had been valorous but it looks like it was finally over. My muscles relaxed again and I felt myself sink a little deeper into what felt like a mattress. Was I on some sort of bed?
I opened my eyes softly and was met with the image of a dim room. Some light orange sunlight drifted through the blinds that were closed on the window, but that was the only source of illumination. The small room had a very crisp, clean feeling to it, almost sterile. Various cabinets aligned the wall to one side with what appeared to be a sink. A medical facility I noticed, as there were bandages and salves laying out on the surfaces.
Feeling along my forehead with a hoof, I discovered that my impromptu bandage had been replaced by a series of real ones. There were several smaller bandages on my arm as I raised it in front of my vision. Why would they give medical attention to food? It didn't really make sense. I didn't bruise like an apple. Well I did, but it didn't detract from my taste I assumed.
Things were starting to not add up. Maybe they didn't eat their males but instead segregated them? Well being locked up for the rest of my life was debatably better than being torn apart and eaten. By a little bit. As I was laying on my side, I shifted my forelegs out a little. They were stiff and reasonably sore but I was able to move them. I wasn't restrained? This gave me a little more confidence and I slowly shifted to a sitting position on the bed I'd been placed on. A small IV ran into my right arm and looked to still have a partially filled bag of clear fluid. Probably to restore the ton of fluid I'd no doubt lost. I saw an empty blood bag on the counter as well. I'd gotten a transfusion? My head gave a light throb to remind me of my wound, as if on cue.
Alright, so they were interested in my long-term survival. The transfusion would be pointless if they weren't. Assuming this were true they wanted to probably integrate me, or at least get me on my way to wherever I was supposed to go. Chances are I was also accruing medical expenses now. Perfect. I now owed somebody, well, whatever form of currency this place uses. Or a favor. Or some sort of forced enslavement. I sighed weakly. Well, I suppose the important thing was that I was still alive I guess. Deciding I was too sore, I leaned back and rested my head on the pillow again.
My mind flickered back to before, after smashing my head into the rock. I'd danced in and out of consciousness not really realizing where I was. I just felt someone moving me and tried to fight against them, probably making myself look like a total idiot. I'd wished that I could have died with some dignity at this point. Like all of my comrades probably did wherever my home was. Well it probably didn't exist as my home anymore. I wonder if I had any loved ones there.
A knot slipped up into my throat, and I quickly swallowed it. I couldn't remember anyone who was close to me, friend or superior. Not just names escaped me but everything. Who they were. It felt as real as the dream I'd had earlier, which is to say, not at all. I felt cheated really.
The sound of a door closing rapidly got my attention. It wasn't my door but sounded like one reasonably close. I'd no idea what size of building I was in but from the hill view of the town, I didn't think there were any extremely large ones here. The main clinic door, probably. "Hey Applejack. I got tied up with the storm cleanup. What's up?" I suddenly heard reasonably clearly. Were they on the other side of the wall? The voice sounded familiar.
"Ah thank ya for comin', Rainbow. Apple Bloom an' her friends found somepony in pretty rough shape. Ah was wonderin' if ya could gimme a hand with em?" I heard asked, assumedly by this Applejack. Apple Bloom had the same accent. Her sister then, probably. The one that was competing against Rainbow Dash who apparently just walked in. Great. Just the pony I wanted to see again. Hopefully she didn't have some claim over me due to blowing me up or something.
There was a rustling of what sounded like papers and something opening closer to the other side of the wall. "Yes, we found this wrapped around his head and the foals reported that he was covered in rainbow colored mud when they found him. We thought you might be able to tell us who he is or something about him?" a softer voice asked, sounding much more professional.
"Wait, is that a garbage bag?" Rainbow Dash asked. I could almost hear the disbelieving tone to her voice from here. Hey, that was my bandage! Why would she have anything to do with that?
There was a light snickering. "Poor Nurse Redheart had ta give him ah stomach pumpin'. It was right gross ta watch. Figures, from what was inside him an' all, he had more than ah few rottin' apple cores," Applejack explained, causing me to blush heavily. It seemed like a good idea at the time as I was starving. Glad I didn't remember my stomach being pumped out…
"He ate those?! They were rotting for like, weeks. Why would he uh, well I mean, where did he get them from?" Rainbow Dash asked, suddenly sounding unsure. Or embarrassed. My thoughts deadpanned. There was only one way she could have known that.
There was a brief pause followed by more paper rustling. "Oh fer cryin' out loud, Dash! Yeh dropped another bag o' garbage bah accident, didn't yeh?" Applejack accused, sounding upset now.
Dropped? Well they did fall on my head. But they felt like they fell quite a ways before hitting me. Honestly, I'm lucky it was just a grazing hit. Up until now I'd just assumed it was divine apple retribution for the two I'd ripped off the tree and consumed when I got here. Maybe the apples here weren't sentient after all?
"Just one, sheesh. It's not my fault if he's so stupid that he ate rotting apple cores!" Rainbow complained, sounding annoyed. I got a little annoyed too. Those hurt!
There was an impatient sigh. "I'm assuming you don't know who he is, then? And what about the mud?" the professional voice asked again. Maybe that was the nurse.
"What mud? The only person I talked to since this morning was Fluttershy. I've been too busy with the weather to even see anypony near the ground. Besides, uh. Oh. Uh oh," Dash started to defend. Uh oh indeed. I silently prayed that she didn't remember anything Fluttershy might have said.
"Yeah, I heard how all that business went. Must'a kept ya real busy fixin' yer mess! An what's 'uh oh'?" Applejack asked skeptically.
There was a long pause then, "Oh nothing. I uh, just remembered something I told Fluttershy I'd do for her. Yeah. Oh, she wanted your help with a tree that got well, damaged in the storm. And a bit of the ground around it."
There was a long sigh. "Fine, fine. Jus' help meh with him later, okay? An get ah message ta Twilight. Her magic might be a wee bit useful with this one," Applejack asked, seemingly admitting defeat.
"Hey, sure thing AJ. I got this covered! Be back in a flash," Rainbow Dash assured cockily before I heard the door slam open violently. Wait, did I hear that correctly? Magic! This Twilight knew how to perform magic? I was suddenly a lot more interested. She was probably a pony of some kind as well but if I could get anything out of her on how to make mine work, maybe I wouldn't be quite as screwed as I thought!
Sadly, I was so distracted by my own thoughts that I didn't hear the hoof steps coming down the hallway just outside of my door. I almost peed my pants when the door to my room suddenly opened! Well, if I were wearing pants. My head jerked to the left and I stared directly at a rather lanky looking pony who entered my room. Her coat was as white as I'd seen so far and her mane a shocking pink color. Somehow, she was holding some sort of clipboard in her mouth and still managing to angle it up enough to read it while she walked. She set the board down on the counter near the door and examined it with a frown for a few more seconds. Her mane was done up in a tight bun and I suddenly got a good look at her flank as she turned to the side. Sure enough, there was a big red plus there, easily visible. It looked almost like it was a part of her coat but probably ran much deeper than that. A tattoo of some sort? The plus shape was similar to our medical symbols and I wondered how universal it was. Maybe a pony's symbol designated what they did as a profession after having achieved their rite of passage?
Up until then she was absorbed in her notes. She had probably been the one monitoring me so chances are, they were my reasonably short charts. Then she glanced up to look at me staring back at her. I didn't even try to hide it this time as pretending I was asleep probably wouldn't fool a medical professional anyway. She started in surprise momentarily before gaining a smile suddenly. I maintained a healthy air of skepticism.
"Oh! You're awake. And looking much more alert I might add. You surprised me. How do you feel?" she asked, in a standard cheerful and positive outlook.
I guess some things never change, even in totally different places involving magical, talking horses. "Like I hiked ten miles, got clobbered by a bag of apples, and then blown up. Oh, and the rocks. Couldn't forget the rocks because blunt head trauma is so fun," I muttered sarcastically, wishing they'd just drop the façade and restrain me or something. They'd captured me. They won.
The nurse's demeanor remained unfazed in the slightest and she giggled at me. It was funny now?! "Dash hit ya? Dang! Her accidental aim must'a gottin' quite a bit better. She's never hit anypony before with her garbage slippin' issues," suddenly came from behind her. Ah, Applejack?
My eyes widened as a tanned looking mare rounded the corner into the room behind the nurse. Her coat was an orange color as if lightly tanned skin. Her blonde mane glowed naturally and had an unkempt look to it, hastily held together by a hair tie towards the end. Cute looking freckle-like dots were sprinkled on her cheeks, right below her eyes which were a vibrant emerald green. A dusty and well worn looking light brown hat adorned her head. Her appearance surprised me entirely and I momentarily found myself unable to respond.
"She should really be more careful with that kind of thing. She lives in a home that's how far above the ground? She could seriously injure somepony one day!" the nurse interrupted.
Sighing, I shifted my eyes over to her instead. Technically she already had, although it wasn't the bag of apples that did the worst of it. "Don't be gettin' the wrong idea, now. Rainbow Dash wouldn't intentionally hurt ah fly. Ah'll get her ta apologize right quick when she gets back," Applejack continued, offering a reassuring smile towards me.
Apologize? Why? I was a male. Did I assume something incorrectly or was I just going totally crazy? I sighed weakly and shook my head. "No, it's fine. Just so long as I'm not assigned to her or anything, I don't mind. I have a feeling that being too close to her is going to be really hazardous to my health," I muttered, feeling a little uneasy. They were being too nice. They didn't even know me and I probably wouldn't be allowed to stay for long, if my prior guess was right.
There was dead silence for the longest time. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked up at the two mares. Both were giving me a slightly surprised, questioning look as if I were insane. Well, maybe I was? I momentarily entertained the idea of this all being an elaborate fantasy as I was locked away in a mental institute somewhere. "Uh, what do you mean assigned? And do you know her or something?" the nurse asked, tilting her head. The pink bun that was her mane shifted distractingly as she did so.
"Oh, so your breeding system must not be maternally selective then. Are their camps or something?" I asked, suddenly curious. They had to have some sort of organized structure if they didn't kill males but didn't keep them out in the open, right?
The nurse looked suddenly lost and confused. Applejack however, went light pink and stared at me, eyes as big as saucers. Well maybe a little bigger as they were close to saucers before. Were mine that big? "Yeh wanna tussle with Rainbow of all the mares?!" she asked, sounding utterly shocked. There was a hinting at something else but I wasn't quite sure what.
"What?! No! I said I didn't want to be assigned to her!" I corrected as rapidly as I possibly could! Oh for the love of all that was holy and just in the world, don't let me get assigned to that egotistical lump of explosives with legs and wings!
The nurse shook her head. "Uh, no, no, no! I'm not sure what you're talking about but that sort of thing isn't assigned. It's kind of yours and her choice to, ah…" she blustered, now blushing and looking exceedingly awkward.
Something seemed incorrect here. I considered the possibility that I might have jumped to a few conclusions along the way. Okay, solution! All I needed to do was get a little bit more data, right? I decided to attempt honesty. "Oh, well I guess that makes sense. I mean, when I got here I didn't see any males or anything. At first I was horrified at the thought that you might, I don't know, eat them or something. But then I wondered how you got more of you so I figured you must keep them locked up somewhere or something. I mean, I might have the totally wrong idea, but I'd like to know what was going to happen to me. Is that alright to ask?" I questioned as honestly as I could manage. Didn't want to mention the whole "another dimension" thing. They might think I was crazy or something if I did that.
Both mares stared at me. The nurse's expression was blank, mostly unreadable, but Applejack wore a mixture of shock and unadulterated horror at what I had just said. Well that wasn't quite the answer I was looking for. There was a long moment of utter silence, before Applejack slowly turned her head and looked at the nurse. "Ah, well, ah think ah'd best be goin' ta get Twilight sooner rather than later. This one sounds ah might bit confused after all. Ah'll be back in ah bit, Nurse Redheart," she muttered weakly, before spinning and sprinting out into the hallway.
"Um, did I say something wrong?" I asked, suddenly feeling extremely self-conscious. Okay, I guess it was a little late for them to not think I was crazy in the first place.
The nurse stared blankly at me for a few more seconds. I started to wonder if she'd somehow passed out while standing up. "Oh! Uh, no. Um, you just might be a bit confused, that's all. You did hit your head fairly hard, didn't you?" she rapidly asked, sounding as if she was trying to cover for something. Oh! She did examine me, I assumed.
"Oh yeah, what's the verdict, by the way?" I asked, suddenly extremely curious as to whether or not I was going to die within the next few hours.
"Uh, my condition?" I offered, wondering if there was a language gap after all.
"Oh! Yes, I did a full examination of you. You have a moderate concussion, a small linear skull fracture, complications due to blood loss, and a series of contusions and minor lacerations. I might also add that you're in a state of horrible malnourishment," she informed, looking more than a little upset suddenly.
I sighed, avoiding her frown. Doctors and nurses always made me uncomfortable. At least the military ones did. They always had this air about them of disdain, like it was my fault that I got into a situation where I got injured. It made it more than a little hard to willingly go to one although you'd never admit that. Well, not and live it down anyway.
She surprised me by suddenly smiling. "Relax. None of it's too life threatening. Now that you're awake, I can get more information however," she assured, sitting down on a raised cushion near the bed. She looked more comfortable and I made a mental note to avoid talking about the thing that freaked out Applejack.
"I'm not sure how much I can answer but I'll do my best," I agreed weakly, feeling my resolve lessening. Why was I upset that I scared Applejack off? I didn't like to stand out and that definitely looked like it sounded bizarre to her. Maybe that was it? Lying to myself was really easy after a while. Practice makes perfect. I felt awkward around females and even if she wasn't my species she was still nice to me. Well, I guess I was her species now though.
The nurse nodded politely and slid the chart over to her left to peek at it. "Alright. Let's start easy okay? What's your name?" she asked, nodding up at me and watching patiently.
I stared blankly at her for a few moments then frowned. "Uh, well I'm not entirely sure," I muttered, looking away. Her eyes widened slightly.
"Oh, you don't have one or you don't remember?" she asked carefully, surprisingly serious.
I shook my head. "Not sure if I had one or not. I don't remember much of anything since waking up nearby," I lied. No point in making the situation worse by trying to convince her that I was from another dimension or planet.
"Oh dear. I was afraid of this actually. How long ago was this? If you had the concussion prior to the incident with the bag, you might be suffering from long term amnesia," she explained needlessly. I already knew that I was, distinctly realizing how much I was missing.
"It was sometime yesterday afternoon that I woke up not even remembering how to walk properly." At least I guessed it was afternoon, not really having access to anything that told time.
The nurse frowned and took down a few notes, somehow writing with the pen in her teeth. "Retrograde amnesia and motor control disruption. Definitely head trauma. Can you tell me what you do remember so far?" she asked, looking back towards me with a now forced smile. I looked away to save her the trouble.
"Not a lot. I know that I'm a stallion and what I look like but that I learned after I awoke. I can remember some basic skills and knowledge, but…" I tried explaining, doing an analysis as I went. The little amount that I did remember suddenly surprised and depressed me. I found myself staring at my hoof quietly, not entirely sure what else to say. It was weird but I suddenly had a desire to just tell her what I really thought I was, but there was no way she'd understand.
Nurse Redheart looked thoughtfully at her paper for a while, solemn expression adorning her face. She didn't seem like she was used to dealing with this kind of thing. "I've never seen this extensive of retrograde amnesia before. Normally these kinds of things recover on their own. Some of the worst cases never fully restore their memories, but usually bits and pieces can be recovered with time," she explained.
It took a little bit to sink in. Nothing made sense anymore. All I had was the obscure memory of being someone else and the facts surrounding my waking up. I felt lost, suddenly. Even had I evaded this community, I still didn't belong anywhere. My plan to survive never included a conclusion clause.
"I'm sorry. You probably don't know anypony around town, do you? I wonder if anypony would recognize you," the nurse pondered absently.
I shook my head, looking back up at her. That one I knew for certain. "No, the entire town is new to me," I elaborated.
"That and you appear to not have a Cutie Mark, which is very odd considering your age. I've never heard of somepony going this long without one and definitely not a way to get rid of one," she added.
I frowned and shifted the bed sheets down slightly, revealing my slightly bandaged left flank. There was indeed nothing there, symbol-wise. In comparison, I glanced at hers curiously. I'd not noticed the tiny hearts in each corner of her plus symbol when I peeked prior. "I'm uh, not entirely sure what a Cutie Mark is," I muttered, trying to be vague so I didn't sound like an idiot again.
Nurse Redheart just smiled gently. "They're a symbol that appears on its own when a foal discovers what they're really good at. Some call it their special talent even. Usually it represents, either directly or abstractly, an important part of them," she elaborates.
"So they appear automatically?"
"Yes. Whenever a, usually foal, finds something they're really good at. I'm not sure if they can disappear with memory loss but I highly doubt it. Twilight might know more about it when she gets here. Why don't you get some rest until then?" she offered, sliding all the pages back in place on her clipboard.
I lowered my eyes, wishing I could explain the real reason why I didn't have one. Only having been in their world for about twenty hours or so would probably cause that. I had no idea what I was really good at. "Twilight?" I asked, mostly to distract from my thoughts.
"Twilight Sparkle. She's the town's librarian and the personal student of Princess Celestia herself. If anypony knows the answer to your questions it's probably her. And if she doesn't, she's the type to try to find out no matter what," the nurse replied, snickering towards the end.
My mind reeled at the new information but I just nodded, keeping my expression neutral. Royalty huh? I should have assumed there was some sort of government in place. This wasn't a beginning society from what I'd noticed so far. "I think I will try to get some rest then," I agreed, suddenly feeling the dull ache pick up again. The tree branches were probably to blame but I idly wondered if the rainbow explosion had some sort of radiation or something.
"Alright. Rest well then. I'll let you know when she gets here," the nurse assured, before I heard her quietly leaving.
I didn't bother to respond, already deep in thought.
Sleep didn't come. Either it was the pain or my level of distraction but I couldn't get my mind to settle down. I'd felt like this happened a lot, even before getting the memory knocked out of me. Sleep felt rare to me. Instead, I ended up just staring at the wall and wondering where I went from here. Was not seeing any stallions pure coincidence? I doubted it given the decoration. Maybe just an extremely narrow gender ratio?
It must have been a good two hours before I heard the door opening again. The light was rapidly diminishing from the window so I figured it was probably getting close to evening. "Sorry I'm late, Nurse Redheart. I had ponies in the library until close to closing time," I heard, shortly after the door quietly closed. The voice was soft and gentle, and I immediately got a good impression.
"Oh, it's fine, Twilight. Thank you for coming. He's been resting for a couple hours now, room one," the nurse replied softly, probably expecting me to be asleep.
There was a slow hoof step pattern down the hallway. I wondered how many rooms were in this building. Due to size constraints, probably not very many. The door opened gently and some sort of artificial light spread into the room. Turning my head to the left, I saw another mare enter through the doorway. Her coat was a soft lavender color and her mane looked dark blue but like me, had streaks of other colors in it. Hers were pink and purple however, rather than silver. Her eyes matched her colors well, being a brighter violet color, and my gaze locked onto the horn extending from her forehead. She gave me a gentle, assured smile as she walked in.
"Hello, sir! I'm Twilight Sparkle and my friends asked if I could help you out," she greeted, sitting down on the same raised cushion the nurse had used earlier. I rested my head back down on the pillow to reduce the strain on my neck and watched her carefully.
"It's very nice to meet you. I'm sorry but I don't have a name to give back to you," I apologized, wondering if she already knew that.
Twilight seemed unfazed and didn't miss a beat, nodding. "I'd heard you were suffering from amnesia", she explained, making a motion towards the other wall. It took me a moment but I realized she was actually gesturing past the wall to the entry area. Oh, the nurse. If she was here to help me the nurse probably showed her the chart so far. Not that it had much information on it I assumed.
"Rainbow Dash and Applejack must not have come back with you, then?" I asked, suddenly realizing that they had said they were coming back and hadn't.
Twilight suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable. "Oh, well Applejack had to turn in early. She had a lot of work to do tomorrow, bucking and all. Rainbow, well, she said something about practicing her moves," she explained hesitantly, after several seconds.
I stared at her for a few moments, watching her sweat profusely suddenly before laying my head down on the pillow again. I'd scared them off, then. Applejack's reaction earlier indicated that she probably thought I was weird. Or insane. Rainbow Dash was probably irritated with me for getting her in trouble about the apple thing. There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments and Twilight looked unsure of herself suddenly, frowning.
"It's alright. I apologize for my behavior earlier," I finally apologized, hoping it would make it back to Applejack at least. Why did it bother me so much about what she thought of me? I wasn't even sure of what their culture was anymore. From her reaction, it would seem I was apparently fairly, well, off on a lot of things.
Twilight blinked repeatedly before rapidly shaking her head. "No, no, it's alright. You got a fairly nasty hit to the head and amnesia is nothing to be ashamed about. The nurse's report mentioned that you don't remember much of anything so I decided that I can try to help you out a bit with my magic. There's been reports of limited success with small memories being restored in the past using the technique," she explained. That got my attention almost instantly, although something about the way she said it made me wonder if she had just read that somewhere.
"Magic?" I asked, much, much too quickly for my liking but I dismissed it. I locked eyes with hers immediately, and she giggled.
"You seem to have a healthy interest in that anyway, even if you don't remember it. Unicorns can perform magic, yes. It's a major part of what I'm studying under Princess Celestia," she explained.
That name again. I pushed it aside for now however and nodded. Wait, unicorn? My eyes locked onto her horn instantly and something snapped in place. There were different types of ponies! Some had wings, some had horns, and some apparently had neither. Sadly, due to self survey I appeared to be one of those 'neither' types.
Twilight grinned as she noticed my gaze. "A fast learner. Yes, the horn lets me use magic. I'm going to try using some of it to heal you, alright?" she assured, her horn starting to glow with a gentle, purple light. Channeling. The word popped into my head from nowhere and took on the meaning of pulling energy from yourself to cause an effect with magic. I didn't realize I knew it until I saw her do it. Wait…
"So without being a unicorn, I can't do magic?" I asked suddenly, a little on the sullen side. This new form of mine suddenly became a lot less useful. I'd been silently hoping to be an exception with my magic capacity, but if it's already a studied fact here that I needed a horn to use it, my hopes diminished rapidly.
Twilight shook her head quietly. "I'm sorry. Only unicorns can do magic as far as I know. Try to relax. This shouldn't take long," she requested quietly, closing her eyes and magnifying the light around her horn. Wait, what was she doing?!
Colors and images suddenly exploded into my vision, causing me to jerk backwards as I felt another presence pushing into my mind. She was using mind scanning magic? The intrusion felt uncomfortable and very offensive, and I mentally backed away from it, not used to this sort of contact. She seemed to notice and adjust herself more carefully inside my mind before almost brushing against memories that I had already, trying to coax them to reveal themselves.
She seemed to target recent memories first, going backwards. Fleeing from the three foals, falling out of the tree, and being blown up by Rainbow Dash. She stopped at that one for a moment, and I felt a small burst of irritation and an almost cynical sensation. She continued however and touched upon me being belted with a falling bag of apples, then running away from the bluish green pony and falling down a series of hills. I caught a sense of amusement from her but she hid it almost immediately. I started blushing as I watched her work in my mind.
Her path continued rapidly, skimming over smaller events to try to order them properly in my mind. I saw what she was doing, understanding the process. She was ordering my thoughts for me and trying to piece in parts that I wasn't aware of. Kind of like housekeeping for someone when they're not at home. She halted momentarily, locked in an instant of my zoomed in awareness on Fluttershy's rear. I felt a sense of shock and intense embarrassment as she rapidly shuffled past it. My body on the outside felt as if it were blushing furiously now. Well this was getting awkward.
She rewound through my victorious attempts at getting the apples and I picked up on an impressed sensation, before she rewound and halted again at me waking up in the crater. The impressed sensation shifted to puzzlement and she seemed to hesitate. I wonder if she picked up on this being the end of my recent memory? I braced myself for what I saw coming and she tried to rewind again.
The sensation was remarkably similar to riding along in a train and suddenly running out of track over a chasm. Twilight felt entirely unprepared for the plunge into the miasma that was thoughts and feelings only. There was no sense of order or time and I suddenly felt absurdly sick and dizzy. She flailed, attempting to get control of the magic again while smashing into memories at random.
Images flickered before me. A planet exploding and a sense of sheer terror and horror, watching it tear itself apart in slow motion. Battle and war with sparsely furred bipedal beings marching in armor against robotic looking four armed monstrosities coming out of pods, those of which descended from the burning skies. Bloodshed and death surrounded me and I thrashed violently as I watched individuals I realized were my friends getting torn apart by energy weapons.
Twilight recoiled from the image as if burned and I felt her trying to pull back into her own connection. The bloodshed shifted momentarily into nothingness. Thousands of focus symbols drifted in and out of my mind and I tried to lash out and almost catch them as they flew past. I knew almost instinctively that each produced a magical effect when thought upon. Had I really known all of these? It lasted barely a heartbeat before we fell into a desolate field. There were no flowers in this field, just burnt and cracked earth. The sky was a crimson and looked like it was literally on fire. Columns of heat and destruction descended on the horizon causing orbs of pure oblivion to tear apart everything in their wake from the point of collision.
My viewpoint shifted upwards, showing the barely visible barrier above me. Beyond that, a pinpoint of light in the sky. It expanded rapidly and I realized at once that it was one of those beams coming down directly over us. It was death, in its most direct form. My squad strengthened the barrier around me but I knew it was pointless. The beam would consume everything around me and we would be gone. But this is why I fought. To protect those in the bunker behind me. To stop those so far above me from destroying everything. But even if I gave it my all, there was no stopping them was there?
Did it matter? I asked it almost to my past self. He seemed to agree with me. The barrier above me exploded with light. For a single moment, I smiled and created a thing of pure beauty. The barrier increased exponentially, expanding on all sides in an explosion of protection that suddenly covered the entirety of the bunker. I felt it. Well, I felt it through my past self as it took all of my energy to do. All of it. There would be none left to keep breathing or keep my heart beating. But wasn't this what I wanted? To protect.
The beam smashed into the barrier and for a moment, everything stopped. I suddenly became aware of a terrified Twilight Sparkle trying to pull us out of the memory. The barrier held and bent unexpectedly, twisting into something that wasn't entirely possible for my mind to comprehend. A Non-Euclidean plane of force, twisting into itself and bending the crushing wall of burning death with it. It compacted into one point, and exploded in a brilliant prismatic expanse. My very being felt torn apart in an instant and I was aware, barely, of my physical body spasm and curl away from reality as best it could.
The memory ended and I realized that I hadn't survived the destruction of my people. Twilight's consciousness was reeling at this point. Inside of my mind, I pulled up the runes I knew from before and sent a series of them into my awareness, severing my mind from the outside world. Her connection faltered but flared up. For a moment I thought she was going to forcefully hold the connection open with sheer willpower. Her amount of magical energy was staggering; almost impossible for me to comprehend! Suddenly I felt a twinge of guilt from her and she pulled back. There was a single pulse of purple before her presence faded away.
Everything went dark with a lack of energy and I was pulled back towards the already existing memories. There was no real transition and I simply remained unconscious, slipping into sleep instead.