• Published 8th Feb 2016
  • 1,511 Views, 63 Comments

DOCTOR - Deidorimu



Equestria has fallen into chaos by Discord, Celestia and Luna fight desperately to keep Equestria in peace. Simultaneously, criminals and villains take this time as an opportunity for greed and power. And in the mid-center of this chaos lies a doctor

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One, Two, Five Steps: Part Two (S1C6)

"Come on! Hurry!" Barney shouted ahead to Dean.

Dean glanced over his shoulder, hearing that demonic roar echo through the hall, as he saw a glimpse of red light not too far behind.

After dropping down the hole in the floor, Dean and the others found themselves in a long room with several tables. Most of which were either broken or tipped over, with the exception of a few. Old and broken quills littered the floor, along with scrolls, papers, empty ink cups, and an assortment of sewing tools; needles, fabric scissors and such. At the end of the room by the exit was a long chalk board, which made Dean assume this room might have been used for educational purposes at one point. But that still didn't explain why there was a solid metal room on the floor above. Perhaps all schools had a metal room? Did the Mane City University have one? Dean couldn't recall, and he didn't remember anyone bring anything of the sort up in conversation, so the shear thought of it existing seemed unlikely. Than perhaps the floor above was a secret room? Dean chose not to dwell on it, that question alone brought a hundred more questions to mind. And he was only curious about the room to have an idea of where he might be.

The four heard the demon break through the glass window above, and Redger was the first to run away. To the left of the chalk board he ripped the door open, galloping away. Cleo, at the very least told them to hurry, before he too galloped away. Barney on the other hand waited for Dean, and helped the colt to his hooves when he landed painfully. Dean, still sore from his adventure in the forest, felt his knees give in when he landed, making him topple over. Barney helped him up and gave him a shove, pushing him in the direction of the exit. It wasn't until Dean exited the room did he realize Barney had purposefully shoved him to the front, putting himself at risk by remaining closer to the demon. He could already tell Barney was the one he wanted to keep close to, especially to keep away from Redger.

Dean, exiting the room, now found himself in a long dark hall, made top to bottom in stone. Shielded from the summer heat, the hall was comfortably cool, but its cramped space and stuffy air negated that. Dean received another shove from behind, and he and Barney were dashing down the hall, following behind the other two by several feet. With practically no light available, Dean could only follow the sounds of Cleo's hoofsteps ahead to know where he was going.

A minute later the two caught sight of a wooden door to the right and had expected for them to hide in there, only to notice the other two ahead of them pass it. Momentarily, they were confused, but they pressed on. Only, they passed a hiding spot a second time. Another door approached, and again they passed it. Now they were really confused, and Barney shouted ahead, "what's going on! Shouldn't we hide!?!"

"We need to get to the end of the hall!" Cleo shouted.

"Why!?!" Barney shouted.

Cleo didn't hear him that time, but Dean answered for him. "The end of the hall! That should be the closest way to the exit!"

That made sense, and Barney followed without question. Soon, they made it to a corner of the hall that turned left. Rounding the corner, they ran for awhile, before Dean heard the demon behind them roar. Glancing over his shoulder, he caught glimpse of the demon's red glow giving light to the hall, back around the corner.

"I think its getting close!" Dean shouted.

"Than keep running kid!" Barney yelled, peeking a glance himself.

The four pressed onwards, running in what felt to be an endless cave. And if they stopped, even for a moment, each echoing roar from behind reminded them of their fate.

Doors blurred past, leading elsewhere, just not to where they needed to be. And the hall itself felt to be shrinking, enclosing them, so they wouldn't have the space to run. Stifling them further and further, until they could no longer run, and the demon can finish his hunt. The hall, however, was no different from when they began, but their panicked minds shouted to them the illusion. To each, especially to Dean, the illusion felt true, and he could feel himself suffocating within the hall. Of course, pushing his already tired body was the obvious cause for that.

His vision grew hazy, and Dean felt the hall tilt. He was unaware, but Barney noticed as Dean began to swerve. No longer running straight, his mind and body giving in to his fatigue, Dean tilted as he ran. His right shoulder bumped into the wall, enough so to awaken him. Only slightly, as he adjusted himself, ran straight for a second, and almost immediately, his mind faded once more. Like slumber after being deprived of sleep, Dean felt himself drift, and it became increasingly difficult to distinguish between reality and what his mind wandered to. His body functioned on a secondary command, running away from the demon simply because that was the last thing he told his body to do. But as Dean faded further even his body began to shut down, and he slowed down to a trot.

Barney ran into Dean, shoved him to keep him running, then gave him a hardy slap on the back to wake him up. "Come on kid! You can't stop now!"

It was no use. For a moment it had worked. Dean awoke, feeling himself thrown back into reality, before he found himself falling back into the black hole that was his tired mind. The world became hazy and, suddenly, his body could fight no more. The shear adrenaline rushing through him wasn't enough to keep him going, as Dean's body slumped over. Unaware it was even happening, the world faded before Dean and, as quick as the snap of a finger, Dean fell unconscious.

There were shouts, and screams, and the pull and push and rush as he was thrown and grabbed, carried, and sometimes shoved. His mind fading in and out of reality every so often, only to fall back into darkness as time progressed without him. Soon, everything came to a halt. And when it did, Dean was able to rest comfortably, until his body was ready to awaken once more.

He stirred, the world returning as a haze. Groaning, Dean felt the pains in his body return again. Though, it wasn't as bad as the first time he awoke, tied to that chair. Now, he was laying down, his head resting on something soft and warm. Still aware of how sore he was, but at the same time most of the tension was release from him, and his muscles were finally resting as it should.

Dean was almost tempted to allow himself to fall asleep, but remembering the demon brought him to his sense, and in a panic, Dean sat upright quickly. His tired mind did not appreciate that, and responded with flashes of stars that popped in his eyes. Dizzily, Dean propped his legs down, steadying himself as he tried to stand, before he felt a massive hoof press against his chest and lay him back down.

"Easy kid! Your gonna pass out again if you move too fast!"

Taking a breath, Dean looked up to the concerned pony as his vision focused properly. " . . . Barney?" he asked slowly, receiving a relieved grin.

"Are you alright kid?" Barney asked.

Dean groaned to the sore muscle on his back, "kind of. What happened?"

"You passed out back in the hall. I had to carry you here."

"You . . . carried me?" Barney nodded in response, and Dean took a moment to look around. Pass Barney, he spotted Cleo, who was resting his head on his hoof as he sat at a desk.

The room they were in now was similar to the room he had seen earlier, only smaller. Rectangular in shape, desks scattered around, some broken some not, a chalkboard on the wall and several tools for sewing littered the floor. Clothes, needles, string and fabrics scattered about, collecting dust. Like the other room, this room was made entirely out of stone as well. There was a single candle lit, thick and standing upright on the desk by Cleo, bare without a candelabrum. A single light source, making the area away from Cleo dim.

Thinking about it, Dean found that increasingly odd. This entire building seemed to be made entirely out of stone, and yet there was that one single metal room, why is that? What purpose did that room have? And, of a place made out of stone, where were all of the windows?

He had been in three rooms and a long hallway. That metal room had a window, but he couldn't recall if it was a window that lead outside. Based on what he had seen, this building seems to be one that holds rooms within itself. Meaning that some rooms were built as part of the outer wall, the wall that boarders between outside and in here, and could thus have windows that lead outside. Whereas some rooms are built deeper within the building. Like a bathroom or a closet, small pockets of the building where a window would be pointless as, if these rooms were to have one, it would only lead to a hall or another room inside the building. Of course, inner rooms with windows weren't unheard of, so it could be possible that that metal room had one. If that room, however, was part of the outer wall and had a window because of it. That would mean that the demon had them trapped from the start, and that window it broke through was the way out.

But based on that it still left him to ponder, where in the world was he? A large building with long hallways, inner rooms with no windows, and a metal room that may or may not have been the way out. Dean thought of all the places in Equestria that had buildings such as this one and couldn't think of any place. He couldn't remember anywhere in Mane City with places like this, and certainly nowhere in the west. Perhaps he was in the north? Or, maybe the east? Redger had an eastern like accent, maybe it was because they actually were in Fillydelphia?

Thinking of that reminded him of Redger, and he looked around for him, but he appeared to not be present. "Where's Redger?" Dean asked.

Barney frowned as he gestured to something behind Dean. "He's . . . tied up at the moment."

Checking what Barney meant, Dean saw that the room had a second door he hadn't notice. The first was by the chalkboard, like the room from earlier, the second was in the back. "What's he doing in there?"

"That's the closet", said Barney. Dean seemed confused, so Barney explained further, "I mean he's tied up right now, in there", he pointed to the door.

Dean understood and nodded, "oh . . . uh . . . w- why would that be-"

"Its because- HACK!!!" Cleo coughed suddenly. Clearing his throat, Cleo spat mucus on the ground before turning to Dean. His voice sounded much crisper now, with a slight muffle. Initially, Dean thought that was just how Cleo sounded. Now he realized he just needed to clear his throat. It made him curious if Cleo had a cold. The way he talked without breathing through his nose expressed that. Cleo wiped his mouth and turned to Dean, "its because "Captain Power Hungry" got too full of himself earlier and he needs to take a minute to release some of that hot air."

"I'm sorry I still don't follow", said Dean.

Barney was about to answer, but hearing Cleo sigh, he decided to just let him explain. "Listen, I'm sorry about what happened earlier. We were scared, alright. This worlds gone crazy, we're forced to hide here in this place, and all of a sudden we're attacked by a demon. Now, you showing up earlier really took us by surprise. When we saw that blue box appear from the sky we were ready to be attacked by chaos demons."

"Chaos demons?" Dean asked.

Cleo cocked a brow at that question, "you saying you've never seen one?"

The name sounded familiar, and thinking rationally, it sounded comparable to the corrupted. "You mean those creatures outside? The ones that turn ponies into chaos demons themselves?" Dean asked, making sure he understood what Cleo meant.

"So you have seen them", said Cleo.

"I have, sorry. I've heard others call them by a different name, that's why I was confused."

Cleo shrugged, "doesn't matter what you call them, they're all the same. Demons, monsters, all of them . . ." Cleo trailed off for a moment, appearing lost in thought. He shook his head, dismissing his horrific memories before pressing on. "Like I was saying. We saw you drop from the sky and after everything we've seen we thought we were under attack again."

"Again?" Dean asked.

Cleo chuckled, "oh we've been ambushed by demons at least half a dozen times before we got here. There used to be more of us but-" For a moment Dean caught a flash of emotion on Cleo's face. An expression of grief and sorrow, before it was erased quickly as he continued explaining. " . . . Anyway, we thought we were under attack so Redger and I went to take cover inside this building. Barney on the other hoof figured you weren't a demon, and he managed to catch you before you hit the ground."

"Barney caught me?" Dean asked, looking to Barney, who gave Dean a modest grin before looking away.

Cleo chuckled at Barney's reaction and nodded, "that's right. Took a big risk catching you. For all we knew you could have really been a demon. And if you were, well, Barney probably wouldn't be here now."

"Wow . . . thank you Barney", said Dean.

"Ah, it was nothing kid", Barney said, still looking away modestly.

Cleo pipped in, "anyway, after he caught you we hid in here. At the time we didn't know if you were a demon or not, despite Barney telling us you weren't. Redger was convinced you were and me, well, I was on the fence. Out of the three of us I'd say I'm the most cautious". Cleo received a look from Barney at that, and Cleo responded, "oh don't give me that! Its true! Your one of the nicest ponies I know but you can't deny that that's also one of your biggest faults."

"Being too nice is a fault?" Barney asked skeptically.

"When your too nice you let things slide, things that are important. Like thinking we can trust someone who is clearly a demon", Cleo hinted, as if this statement was true.

Which seemed to be the case as Barney replied, flustered, "one time! That happened one time!" Cleo chuckled at Barney while Dean listened, intrigued.

Cleo took a breath and continued, "and as for Redger, you saw how he was earlier. Yes I shouted at you and I threatened you with my mace, but to an extent. I stopped when it was clear you weren't a threat. Redger on the other hoof, he isn't cautious like me, peh! Quite the opposite really, his idea of caution is just downright paranoia! And while I'll admit its good to be at least a little on edge, especially in these hard times, there are times where you need to take a step back and think rationally. Redger, I don't think he's capable of doing that. Heck, from the moment we've started traveling together I don't think he's taken a single break to unwind. He's always looking over his shoulder, always thinking somethings out to get him, and I don't mean just the demons either. He thinks everypony is out to get him! Even when we were traveling with other ponies who weren't demons."

"Is that why he's tied in the closet? Dean asked.

"Uh, that and . . . what he wanted to do while you were out", said Cleo.

"Sorry, while I was out?"

"While you were passed out, Dean", Barney explained.

"I know that, but what did he want to do?"

Barney seemed too uncomfortable to explained, and while Cleo expressed a slight discomfort, he told Dean anyway. " . . . While you were unconscious we managed to get away from the demon. We couldn't make it to the end of the hall but we made it pretty close. Right now we're inside some room only about five rooms away from the end. Just a quick dash over there and we might just have a chance getting out of here. And its obvious you aren't a demon, so Barney and I decided to bring you along. Of course, earlier you were in no shape for running so we decided to rest for a little while. Redger didn't like the idea and was still convinced you were a demon. We argued for a little bit, but when it was clear Barney and I wouldn't leave you he . . . took a more aggressive approach."

"Meaning what exactly?" Dean asked, growing anxious.

" . . . He . . . wanted to use you as bait for the demon, so that we could escape."

"What!?!"

"But we wouldn't let him! I swear we wouldn't!" Barney reassured.

Dean shook his head, "no, no, I believe you. I'm just . . . surprised". Dean said to Cleo, "you said he wanted to make me bait while I was unconscious?"

Cleo nodded, "and like Barney said we wouldn't let him. We argued a bit more before things turned physical. But luckily Redger's only good fighting with projectiles. The two of us together in this small room was a big disadvantage for him, so it was easy enough to tie him down. But after that he wouldn't stop shouting, and we didn't want him alerting the demon. Luckily there's plenty of loose cloth all over the place. So we tied his mouth shut, locked him in the closet, and here we are now."

"Okay, but if he was already tied than why lock him in the closet?" Dean asked.

"Eh, honestly we didn't really need to. He's getting on my nerves and I just didn't want too see him", Cleo explained with a smirk.

Dean decided not to press on with that as he sat up slowly. Rubbing his head, Dean noticed his aches diminishing slightly. Still present, but nonetheless less sore then earlier. Feeling his back, Dean grabbed the soft item he rested on, finding that it was a thick cloth bunched together, forming a makeshift pillow. Placing it aside, Dean asked Cleo, "so, what now?"

"Now, I say we'll rest a few more minutes. Personally I'm glad to finally have some peace and quiet. The moment we let him out I already now he's going to chew my ears out."

"Sounds like you don't like him very much."

Cleo shrugged, "eh, I wouldn't say we're friends persay, but I can't deny he's also been a great help to us. We wouldn't have gotten out of Equestria without him."

"I see . . . wait, what!?!" Dean exclaimed.

"Hmm? What's wrong?" Cleo asked.

"Sorry, you said "out of Equestria?"

"Yes, and?"

Startled by that statement, it only occurred to Dean then that he could have asked Barney or Cleo where they were, instead of trying to figure it out himself. "You mean, we're not in Equestria anymore!?!"

Cocking a brow, Cleo looked quizzically to Dean, while Barney gave him an odd look. "Did you think we we're still in Equestria?" Cleo asked.

"Of course! I was just there, well not exactly there I was actually by the border- t- that doesn't matter! If this isn't Equestria than where are we?"

Cleo took a moment to think, creating a pause. Long enough to make Barney curious why he didn't respond, and for Dean to wonder if he had said something wrong. A moment after, Cleo explained, "there's this road that takes you all the way to the coast. It starts at this town called Mason and travels for miles across the country. It ends at the boarder between goat country and the unclaimed territory."

"So, I'm even further south than I already was", Dean summarized.

Another pause ensued as Cleo thought, before asking what was on his mind. "You know, you really do seem like a fish out of water to me. Where did you come from? And, how exactly did you get here?"

Dean figured this conversation would lead to that, and he would have to explain. And the way Barney looked at him, he hadn't thought the same thing, but he too wanted to know. And neither had said it directly, but Dean was sure they wanted to know why he had appeared out of a blue box in the sky. He didn't mind telling them, but thinking about it, the explanation is going to sound quite outlandish, and he was concerned if they were going to believe to him or not.

He sighed, "I'll tell you, but first I want you to get Redger from the closet."

"Hmm? And why's that?" Cleo asked.

"Because what I'm about to tell you is going to sound crazy, but its all true. And it'll prove that I'm not a chaos demon."

"But we already know your not a chaos demon", said Barney.

"I know, I'm not trying to prove it to you", Dean explained.

They knew what he meant, and Cleo nodded and sighed, "dang, and I was really enjoying the peace and quiet. . . . Alright, Barney, you wanna go get the hot head?"

Barney nodded and trotted over to the closet behind Dean. Dean, not wanting to stand close to the one who wanted to use him as bait, took this moment to move away from the closet. As soon as tried to stand he felt his muscles cramp, and the aches welled up again, reminding him of his previous night's endeavors. That short bit of rest did replenish enough of his strength however, and he managed to walk over to Cleo, albeit a little tipsy. Cleo had a sense that Dean wanted to keep away from Redger, he'd want to as well if he were Dean, so he didn't mind at all that Dean was taking a seat by him. Of course, he wouldn't have mind either way.

Dean picked up a chair that laid on its side on the ground and propped it up along the table, opposite end from Cleo. Barney meanwhile opened the closet, and all three heard Redger inside. He was trying to shout, but the cloth bound around his mouth made him muffled. The light from the single candle couldn't reach the inside of the closet, and Dean couldn't see Redger until Barney dragged him out.

Still tied to the chair, the same way Dean was earlier, Redger was brought into the room and placed several feet away from the table that Cleo and Dean sat. Barney positioned him so he faced the two, and Redger glared daggers at Dean the moment he laid eyes on him. He started shouting at Dean, and he and the others were glad Redger was still muffled. If he hadn't they would have receive a barrage of obscenities fit for a sailor.

Barney trotted over and grabbed a chair from another table, bringing it to the desk and taking a seat by Dean. Barney seemed uncertain what to do next, and Dean waited anxiously, assuming either Barney or Cleo would make the next move. Cleo sighed again as he begrudgingly stood from his chair and walked over to Redger. With his shoulders slumped, it was obvious he was doing this because he knew he would have to eventually. Otherwise, he would have been happy with at least five more minutes of silence.

Cleo approached him, putting no thought to the hell bent glares Redger was giving him, and proceeded to untie the cloth that bound Redger's mouth. Just before he did, however, he said to Redger, "are you going to keep your voice down this time?" Redger didn't respond, and instead glared at Dean, breathing heavily. Cleo waited patiently, and a moment after asked again, "well? Are you?" There was a second small pause, before Redger complied with a nod. "Alright, I'm taking this off. But the moment you start shouting its coming back on, got that?" Redger growled in response, but Cleo accepted that answer and untied the cloth.

The moment the cloth fell from his lips Redger spat at Dean, "you chaos demon! You've got them wrapped right around your hooves! Don't- cha!"

"You still think I'm a chaos demon? We've all been in the same room for, um, how long was I unconscious?"

"Its been almost two hours", said Cleo.

"Eh- what! Really!?" Dean exclaimed, surprised.

"Not all of those bruises are from Redger, you were already pretty messed after Barney caught you. I'm surprised you didn't sleep longer after Redger's tantrum", Cleo smirked to Redger, giving him a cynical raise of his brow.

"Buck you!" Redger spat in response.

"Eh, right. Right, well, that's exactly the point! Two hours we've been here and I haven't done anything to them! If I was a chaos demon than don't you think I would have?" said Dean.

"Pfft! You take me for an idiot!?!"

"One of us does", Cleo piped in his smirk.

Redger ignored him, though he did spare a growl. "Of course you've done something! You've gotten into their heads! Made them think your innocent! Then, when we're at our most vulnerable that's when you'll attack!"

"Really? That's what you think?" Dean asked.

"No I don't think that, I know that you will!"

"So, the kids going to attack when we're at our most vulnerable? Kind a like how you are right now?" Cleo asked, his smirk broadening to a contagious grin, causing even Barney to smile, amused.

"Exact-!" Redger paused and thought about that. Tied to the chair, he was indeed at his most vulnerable. Despite that, his stubbornness came up with a counter response quickly. Spouting whatever came to mind, he said to Cleo angrily, "he needs all of us to be vulnerable! Not just me you idiot!"

"Oh for Celestia's sake! Redger! He's not a chaos demon! Alright!" Cleo exclaimed.

"Oh he's not is he!? Well what about the blue box from earlier? It just appeared from the sky and he fell from it! Explain that!"

"He is going to explain that, Redger. That's why he asked us to get you from the closet", Barney explained.

"He- eh", Redger paused, needing a moment to think. His mind formulated his next counter response, and again he was just spewing the first thing that came to mind. "So, you've got something to say to make us think your not a demon, huh!?"

"Holy cow, Redger! Just listen to the kid will ya!" said Cleo.

"I'm not listening to a word he has to say! He's got you two tricked-"

Cleo stood from his chair suddenly, screeching it back slightly. With one hoof he reached the mace strapped at his side, with the other he pointed angrily to Redger and spoke down on him with malice. His sudden turn in demeanor was powerful enough to make the room dead silent, and despite not being the ones under his glare, even Dean and Barney felt tense. "Another word and I swear I'll make you regret it! Capiche!" Cleo murmured with malice.

The two lock eyes on one another, staring daggers, before Redger looked away with a "humph!"

Cleo breathed a tired sigh before saying to Dean, "alright kid, tell us how you got here."

Dean nodded, still feeling the effect of Cleo silencing Redger. "O- Okay, b- but like I said it's very . . . intense to say the least. I'm not sure how much of it you'll believe."

Cleo chuckled, "after everything we've seen. We'll believe just about anything at this point. Well, most of us", Cleo added, hearing Redger scoff.

Dean took a breath, recollecting everything that had transpired. "Okay, to understand about that blue box I have to explain it all from the beginning. And its a bit of a long story, so I'll summarize it for you.

You see, I used to be a college student at Mane City University. As you're probably already aware the princesses were defeated by Discord, and he took over Mane City. Almost everypony there didn't make it out, and I most likely wouldn't have too. But the day Mane City fell my professor asked me to collect something for him. A part he needed for his telescope. It was while I was outside Mane City that I heard the screams, and everypony running away.

I ran too and, after learning of what had happened, I decided it would be best to return home for a time. I stayed with others for a little bit to collect supplies. And afterwards, I traveled on my own. But I got lost in a forest miles south west from Mane City. I was having trouble reading my map and I threw- eh- dropped it by accident. While I was searching for it I was attacked by a hungry manticore! It chased me and I just managed to out run it, but it nearly caught me. However, just before he did I was saved by this mystery stallion. An old white pony with gray hair, dressed in a suit and tie.

It was here that I met the Doctor."

A Half Hour Later

Dean concluded his story. From the forest animals, to Dodge Junction, the swamp, the unknown territory, and finally, to recently, how he had fallen from the M.E.I.D.P.H.A.T.

Dean knew these past three weeks had been eventful, but telling the story to them, Dean felt the impact that each of those adventures had on him. It made him realize how much he had grown, how wiser he had become, in a time that felt like months. Each minute he told his story he felt a welling sense of pride. Each life he fought for, every villain stopped, every step of the way. An indescribable feeling that no pony could understand. For, stories like this, the experience that he had, it was a sense most could only believe if they had been there for themselves.

The three who listened, who had seen what the corrupted were capable of in person, even they could not fathom what it was like to be by the Doctor's side. Cleo could imagine that; standing alongside someone so skilled. A pony who was, somehow, always one step ahead of their opponent, and fought for the greater good of others. What he couldn't imagine, however, is how someone could fight for nothing but the greater good. For him, if he were to be with someone like the Doctor, he'd want to see some gold if he were to be involved. It only made sense too him. Someone this good cannot surely fight for nothing. What would be the point in all of that skill?

Barney from the start had been on the edge of his seat. He clanged to every word Dean said, imagining the incredible adventure of being with the Doctor. And when Dean concluded he sat in awe, stricken with wonder as a sudden thirst for adventure rose inside of him.

Redger, as expected by Dean, didn't seem to believe him. It was obvious by the look on his face, frowning like a stubborn child. Yet, Redger's expression said something that Dean didn't understand. It had changed while he described the Doctor, and though he appeared stubborn throughout his story that odd look still remained. Like the shading of a drawing, hardly even there, and yet held a great importance. He wasn't sure why he looked this way, but given his situation he chose not to question it. The best he could describe Redger's look, however, was contemplation. But he chose not to assume anything.

Dean waited for a response, any response, to know where he stood between the three. Of course he knew where he stood to Redger, that was obvious, but he still waited to see if he would say something as well. He was unaware that Redger was waiting too. Also wanting to see what the others had to say, before he told them what was on his mind.

Barney was still imagining Dean's adventure, putting himself in Dean's hooves as if he were there with the Doctor instead. It made feel giddy, having this childish like want for adventure. Just like a colt or filly would reading exploration tales at bedtime.

Cleo, meanwhile, was in a deep thought. It all did sound a bit far fetch to him, Dean's story. But, than again, with everything he had seen with the corrupted, the magical possibilities the world had to offer, not to mention the alicorn princesses themselves who, as he and everyone else had thought, were suppose to be the strongest ponies in the world, were defeated by a creature who had appeared out of nowhere. At this point, he figured anything was possible. He especially found it difficult to believe that this "Doctor" was actually a pony from another species that are actually part phoenix. But this world was full of creatures he was sure he hadn't heard of yet, so like everything else he had heard, he was willing to give Dean the benefit of the doubt, and believe him for the most part.

Cleo exhaled, as if blowing off the steam the gears in his head were producing. "Wow, that's quite the adventure you've had, huh?"

"So you believe me?" Dean asked.

"Yes I believe you, and I think Barney does too", Cleo said, grinning at the excitement present on Barney.

"Did the Doctor really save an entire town with an arrow in his leg?" Barney asked.

Dean couldn't help but smile, thinking about the day the Doctor saved Dodge Junction made him almost as giddy as Barney. "He did, it was incredible! He knew that because of his age he wasn't as strong or as fast as Tumbleweed. So he let Tumbleweed fire first, but he had the duel take place at just the right time so that the wind would throw off Tumbleweed's arrow. And he knew what time of day the wind would come because of his elemental magic. He thought of every step of the way! From what time they should duel, to the Breezies magic, and taking account on his age and his own strength. Every variable and every angle the whole way through the Doctor just . . . he just seems to know what to do. Seeing the way he fights, how he fights, honestly I still have trouble believing it myself, and I was there! So you can see why I was afraid none of you would believe me."

"Well, it wasn't really us that needed convincing in the first place, was it?" said Cleo, casting a hinting glance over to Redger. Redger was still pouting, looking away from the three stubbornly while his face still remained in that gray area. An expression that was clearly angry but, as Dean could only describe it, also held that hint of contemplation to it. The other two noticed it as well, but Cleo was the first to say something about it. "You know, I'm surprised that all you did was scoff while Dean told his story. I was expecting at least a sarcastic remark or an insult. Something you wanna say?" Redger didn't respond, so Cleo added as a way to poke at him, "oh! Don't tell me you believe the kid, do you? And, you wanna admit that you were wrong and that you were just being a hot head this whole time?"

That did the trick. Redger glared at Cleo, saying through gritted teeth, "shut your stupid mouth!"

Cleo sneered as he pressed on, "you've clearly got something to say, Redger. Why don't you spit it out already?"

"I don't need to say anything!" Redger spat, loud enough to boarder a yell.

Cleo pointed to him like an angry boss, "ah! What did I say would happen if you shout!?"

Redger growled before turning away from Cleo. Which, being tied to a chair he only managed to swivel around about two inches.

Stubborn as he was Redger was clearly not going to say anything to Dean and Cleo. So, Barney being the friendliest of the bunch, thought he would try talking to him. Treading carefully, he spoke to Redger with respect. "Redger, we can all see that there's something on your mind. Is it about Dean's story? Or something else?"

Being angry at Dean was one thing, he didn't trust him. And Cleo, he just knew how to poke him the right way to set him off. But Barney, Redger was just stubborn enough to cast an angry look at him. However, he still couldn't help but give Barney a response. He couldn't help it, Barney was just one of those ponies that were too kind to be mad at, unless the opposing pony was too much of a jerk. He'll admit he was stubborn, but a jerk, he would punch anyone in the face who dared call him that. Set on this fact actually made him unaware of his own oxymoron.

The problem with answering Barney is that, despite how much he didn't want to, he would be forced to admit that Dean's story was true. He groaned pitifully before making himself speak, "alright! Alright! I'll say it! If it'll get you all to shut up already!"

Cleo was about to ask but Barney beat him to it, "say what, Redger?"

Redger struggled, going to speak before closing his mouth, repeating, groaning, squirming, then closing and opening his mouth again. It actually seemed kind of painful, how badly Redger did not want to admit his truth. It took a moment, but Redger managed to force the words out. "I- I admit it! Dean's telling the truth!"

Before Dean could register that he was startled by something slamming close to him. Cleo had stood up, having pounded his hoof to the table, as he looked in disbelief to Redger. As surprised as Dean and Barney were, Cleo was definently the most so. He chuckled before asking suspiciously, "really? Mr. Paranoia believes the kid he had just accused of being a chaos demon?"

"Shut up! I didn't want to say it!"

"But, why do you believe him?" Barney asked.

Cleo groaned, "you had a problem with me not believing him and now you have a problem that I do!? Seriously!?!"

"Just answer the question Redger!" Cleo said, growing frustrated.

Glaring to each of them, Redger sighed, "your just gonna make me- alright! I believe the kid because . . . because I met the Doctor."

The room went deathly silent suddenly. Eyes of disbelief all on Redger, making the tied stallion more unsecure than he already was, though his stubborn look did well to hide it. It was quite for an uncomfortably long time, passing seconds that felt like minutes to Redger. A moment after, the silence was broken first by Dean, "you've seen him?"

" . . . Yeah, I've seen him."

"H- How have- w- when did you see him!?! Where was he!?!" Dean asked frantically.

"And why didn't you say anything?" Cleo asked.

Redger scoffed, "tch! What? And let him get into my head too? The kids already convinced you two he isn't a demon I won't let him do the same to me! Yes I met the Doctor and he was looking for the kid. If he's friends with him than to me that means there both suspicious."

"He's was looking for Dean?" Cleo asked.

"But, Deans only been with us since this morning. Are you saying you met the Doctor earlier and didn't tell us?" Barney asked.

Redger scoffed, "it didn't matter at the time, alright!"

"I think it does actually-"

"Hold on a minute", said Cleo, cutting off Barney. "This morning when we heard that noise you left to go and check it. When you came running back you told us you were attacked by a demon. Were you talking about the demon that was chasing us down the hall?" Redger didn't respond immediately. He tried thinking of the best way to answer, but he hesitated, as, at this point, he was sure that if he tried to lie he might get caught in the act. So he tried thinking of an alternative answer, but took too long. With the sudden rise in tempers Cleo had become impatient, and he pressed on, basically commanding Redger to answer. "Well! Was it!?! Was that the same demon from earlier!?!"

Redger tried longer to think of something to say, but the way each of them looked at him told Redger he was out of time. So, he breathed a defeated sigh and told the truth. "No, the demon chasing us in the hall was not the same demon from this morning."

Listening, Dean was able to keep up, having a basic understanding of what had happened. Barney knew what Cleo was talking about, and Cleo, hearing this from Redger, grew angry. "There wasn't any demon this morning, was there!?!"

"Yes there was! He attacked me!" Redger yelled.

"Who did!? The Doctor!?" Cleo yelled back. Now Dean knew what Cleo was on about, and he felt himself become angry the further they got towards the truth.

"Yes it was the Doctor! I went to check and he attacked me-"

"You said it was a demon that attacked you!" Cleo chided, cutting Redger off.

"It was a demon-!"

"No it was not! You've been calling Dean a demon this whole time and you! You! This morning! UUGH!!!" Cleo slammed his hooves against the table before stressfully stroking a hoof through his hair. He took a moment to breath, calming himself just enough so he wouldn't yell, before he continued. "You and your paranoia. I always keep telling you its okay to be cautious so long as you don't let get into your head and what do you do!?" He turned, walked close to Redger, and spoke down to him, simmering. "A kid falls from the sky and for all we know he could have been a demon. Than an old stallion comes along looking for his kid and we give his kid back explaining what happened. We don't fight, no one gets hurt and that kid would be back with his friend now going their own separate ways while we go on ours! That's what could have happened! That's what should have happened! But you come galloping in like Death is after you claiming you were attacked by a demon! And we believe you! We- we believe-"

Exasperated, Cleo took a step back. Sitting back in his chair, he took another breath. Resting his head in his hooves, covering his eyes, he allowed himself to take a moment. Once he settled himself down just enough, he looked over his hooves and continued, struggling to keep his voice down. "We believed you, and you made us tie this kid down and keep him quiet because, for a moment, you made us just as paranoid as you . . . do you not see how serious you've made this? Do you realize that the Doctor is still out there looking for Dean right now as we speak? Because you just chose to believe Dean was a demon!?"

Redger sneered, "oh I don't think he's looking for Dean anymore."

That response struck a soft spot in Dean, and before Cleo could press further, Dean said suddenly, "how do you know!"

"Dean I'll talk to him-"

"No! I want to know what he has to say!" Dean said angrily, cutting Cleo off. Taken aback, Cleo simply allowed Dean to take over. As he and Barney watched anxiously.

Dean continued, glaring back at Redger. "Cleo's right you know. After everything I've gone through you have been nothing but trouble to me! I am thankful for your friends because they seem to be the only ones here who don't care just about themselves! They've been protecting me from a demon but most of all they've been protecting me from you!"

Redger scoffed, only serving to anger Dean further as he pressed on. "You don't know what I've been through. I've told you my story but to actually be there, to feel that fear of you watch someone die, as you hide helplessly in bushes. Or to feel your heart break as you are told that your father is dead. Or to be blind in a swamp but still running for your life! Or fighting alone in a forest against a corrupted! And I mean a pony who is actually corrupted! Not some fear or thought that you might be in danger, no! You really are in danger, your life is on the line and you must fight to see another day! Do you have any idea what that is like!"

"I do-"

"Than you should know how scared I am! Everything I've faced, but you've survived the corrupted as well. You should know my fear and yet, and yet you don't care. Its almost like this isn't even about survival anymore, its about winning-"

"It isn't about that-"

"Than what's it about!" Dean shouted. "Survival isn't just staying alive! To survive is to trust in others! To survive is to never go at it alone! Because a sole survivor sounds like quite the hollow victory to me! Being the last pony alive with no one else! That's why you don't understand at all! You know my fear but you don't know what it means to survive with someone else!

I've been through a lot but the Doctor has always been there for me every step of the way! And this time is no different! That's why you can never understand! You don't understand the Doctor like I do because you only care about yourself!" Dean pointed towards the door, as if someone were there. "The Doctor is looking for me right now! And when he finds me he'll stop whatever that thing is that is chasing us! And than he'll help all of us get to safety! I'm sure of it!"

" . . . But that's where your wrong kid", Redger said grimly, an odd, sudden shift in his tone.

"Oh am I! How!?! How am I wrong!?!" Dean spat, growing angrier.

" . . . Because I saw-"

He didn't catch that. Cleo and Barney stood from there chairs, utterly taken aback at what Redger had said. But to Dean, it was on a whole different level of shock. He couldn't believe him, he didn't want to believe him. Perhaps that's why his mind had blocked out what Redger had said. His mouth had move, and words came out, but it was as if what he said was so horrible, so tainted, that they weren't allowed to be heard. It made his mind go blank for a moment, and somehow, those words did not exist.

Dean heard Cleo say something, followed by Barney, then Cleo shouting at Redger. But his mind hadn't recovered, and it all sounded muffled to him. It took a moment before his mind started working again. Slowly, hints of what Redger said processed, and Dean still refused to believe it was true. So, to confirm what he had said, Dean asked again slowly.

He swallowed and spoke, silencing Cleo as he did. "What . . . what did you just say." Redger repeated, just as grimly this time as the first.

" . . . . . I said, its because I saw the Doctor die."

Hours Ago

Pacing back and forth, Redger kept a hoof in his saddle bag, expecting anything to appear at any moment. When it does, he was going to be ready, as he turned the throwing knife around in his hoof. Taking a moment to look up to the windows on the ceiling, Redger couldn't help but sigh anxiously.

He was pacing in the center of a large, auditorium like brick room. Rectangular in shape, reaching twice the size of a sports court, and without a second or third floor above. The ceiling was at the highest point possible, with rows of windows along there. It was a shame they were all earth ponies, or Redger would have gotten out of here as soon as he could. Instead, he was stuck on guard duty while the others watch the kid.

On one end of the large room was a wooden stair case. The top of the stairs held a double metal door, and upon entering lead to a room also entirely made from metal. The room was a mess with cabinets toppled over, a broken desk, and papers scattered about. That double door was the only entrance, for the room lead nowhere else. And beside the door, to the left, was a single, large, thick glass window. It was here that Cleo and Barney sat, watching Dean. Who, at this time, was still unconscious and tied to a chair.

The rest of the room held long, thin, disposable tables that were scattered everywhere. Most broken beyond repair with pieces of wood and splinters sprawled around. The ones not broken, or at least well enough to still use, were all knocked over, with the exception of one the Redger lifted upright in the center of the room. The majority of the old, wooden floor was littered with cloth, fabric, raw and processed cotton, wool, and various sewing supplies. Perhaps, at one point large numbers of ponies sewed in this room all at once. A process line perhaps? That's what Redger assumed, but he didn't put much thought into it. Even the fact that a metal room was built in a building of brick and stone didn't even occur to him. He was focused on the twin doors across the room.

On the other end of the room, opposite from the metal one, were a set of twin doors. With faded paint and a chipping rough surface, both were made from a dark brown wood. The only way in and out of the room, positioned on each end of the wall, one furthest left and one furthest right. Redger stared anxiously to both, pacing by the table he had intended to sit on, before the stress made it unbearable to remain still.

Because he was the most experienced of the three with ranged weapons, Cleo had asked if he could stay on guard here, while he and Barney stayed with Dean in the metal room. Tactically it made sense, if something threatening comes through either door Redger can throw a knife from where he stood, attacking the threat at this safe distance. If something happens to enter that he can't handle, he could always shout and call for help. And at this distance he would have more than enough time to run safely to the metal room. Even still, the anticipation of anything dangerous coming through either door, for he wouldn't know which until it happens, had him pacing in a jitter. It made it worse knowing that that demon he saw earlier was still here somewhere, and Redger was sure he was looking for them.

Perhaps not them specifically, as that demon said it was looking for its partner. Of course, that demon had claimed he was looking for his "friend". But he knew better than to listen to that sham. The moment they give the kid back to him that demon would turn the rest of them into demons, Redger was sure of it.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Redger practically jumped out of his skin, hearing someone knocking. He hopped backwards, nearly tumbling over the table, before he caught himself. He shift his balance, knocking the table aside, and returning fixed on both doors while the table toppled over, slamming to the ground with a dull "thud!"

He knew something would come but he hadn't expected whatever it would be to knock. So he was quite taken by surprise. Peeking a glance over his shoulder, Redger checked to see if Barney or Cleo had heard. Since neither were checking on him he assumed they hadn't.

Slowly, Redger shifted towards the doors, darting his eyes from one to the other for the slightest movement. He wasn't sure which door he heard the knock come from, so either could open at any second, and he wanted to make sure where to throw his knife the moment he saw any door open. He was running low so he didn't want to waste any on false alarms.

Luckily he didn't need to wait to know which door hid his threat. Behind the right end door came another round of knocks, bang! Bang! Bang!

Redger's breathing became erratic, and he could feel his heart pitter patter as he shifted towards the right end door. The rational side of him said that this was that demon from this morning, he was sure of it. This is the first demon he's seen since leaving Equestria, so most likely this was the same one waiting for him to open the door. Than again, the rest of him was afraid of the possibility that this might be something new. The way that demon acted this morning made him sure this might be the same demon. After all, who else would alert others of where they were by knocking? Of course, maybe there was a random demon out there who preferred to knock before entering rooms too? That thought felt a little ridiculous, but he wouldn't let the idea pass him by.

Shifting to the door, Redger carefully pressed his hoof to the wood, making sure he didn't feel it push open. A second of hesitation after, Redger struggled as he called out, "w- who's there!"

"Oh! So someone is in there! Finally! I think I've knocked on half the doors in this place!" the Doctor said, his voice muffled from speaking through the door.

Recognizing that voice, Redger yelled, "its you!"

The Doctor too recognized him and said quickly, "now, now! I know you and I got on the wrong hoof earlier but I just wanted to talk."

Redger scoffed, "oh! Is that all? You wanna come in 'er an have a chat? Why don't I just let you take us to Discord while we're at it! Save you the trouble!"

"No, no, I won't enter. We can talk as we are if that makes you more comfortable", the Doctor said calmly.

That in turn made Redger uneasy, and he asked, "what are you planning?"

"I promise you I'm not planning anything! I swear!" Redger heard the Doctor sigh, "listen, I'm sorry about this morning. My friend and I, Dean, the pony that you have right now. He and I have just been through . . . an ordeal, to say the least. Just like you we have also been running from corrupted, or as you call them, "chaos demons". And I know I shouldn't have threatened you, I'm sure your just as weary as we are. But with everything that has happened, and my friend being taken by strangers, I'm just stressed and afraid. And . . . I'm sorry."

The Doctor surely sounded genuine, and that made Redger feel somewhat of an impact. But he refused to let himself be persuaded, "what'll happen if I open this door?"

"Than I'll come and take my friend. I won't cause you any trouble and we will leave as quickly as we arrived. And if you want, I still have that reward if you help me. But if that makes you uncomfortable than I'll just grab Dean and we'll be on our way. You'll never see us again. Is that okay?" the Doctor asked.

Redger didn't like that, the way this pony spoke to him. He was being kind, patient, and he made it seem like Redger had the choice if he wanted to help or not. He had expected this pony to barge in and attack, not negotiate. He even apologized for that threat from earlier, and it only made Redger more and more anxious the longer the Doctor spoke.

"That's it, huh? You'll just grab the kid and leave?" Redger asked.

"Yes, that's it. I'll grab my friend and leave, you'll never see us again!"

"Okay . . . and what if I don't open the door?"

It was short, but Redger noticed the pause that followed. He was still calm, but Redger caught a hint of something serious in the Doctor's tone. "I would really like it if you opened the door, please? I just want my friend back."

Redger shook his head, "no, no, no, you, you think its that easy? Pretending to be all nice and friendly just so you can get in here?"

"Young stallion please listen-"

"No! You listen here demon! I will not let your sweet talk be the end of me! That's how my wife got taken! And I will not go down the same way! You hear!" Redger shouted, pounding a hoof to the door. It took a moment to register to realize how angry he had become, and Redger waited anxiously for a response.

It came longer than expected, and when it did the Doctor spoke in a tone unfamiliar to him. It wasn't sad, it was more . . . defeated? Redger couldn't tell, but that was his best guess. "You really won't listen to me? I really mean it, I am not a demon. Please sir, please reconsider. I just want my friend."

Redger scoffed again, shouting stubbornly, "yeah? Well I want my friends too. But there all demons! Taken by creatures like you!"

Another pause followed, long enough to make Redger wonder if the Doctor left. Suddenly, he heard a sigh, "Please sir, just . . . please reconsider. I know you are afraid, but I promise, I swear to you I mean no harm. If you could just-" the Doctor stopped suddenly.

Redger waited a moment, breathing anxiously, before calling out, "hello?" No response, so he calls again, "hey, you still there?"

Suddenly, Redger leapt back, feeling the Doctor bang! the door from his side. "Young stallion there's something out here! Please let me in!"

The Doctor sounded genuinely afraid, but Redger wouldn't buy it. He yelled towards the door, "what the tarterus are you saying!?!"

"There's something out here! Please! Open the door!"

"Fat chance! Your not fooling me! I ain't opening the door for-"

"AHGH!!!" the Doctor shouted. There was a hard bang! from the Doctor's side and Redger saw the door bend inwards towards him. Yet, the door remained locked, pushing its hinges past its limit, but still it held and remained shut. For a moment Redger thought the Doctor was going to force his way in, and he brought a throwing knife out from his saddle bag defensively.

"H- Hello there. How are you?" said the Doctor.

"What was that?" Redger asked.

The Doctor spoke again, and Redger felt a chill run down his spine as he realized the Doctor was talking to someone else. "You don't look very happy. W- Why don't we just take a walk and talk for a little bit? Does that sound nice? No? Oh dear- WOAH!!!"

The door banged several times, the Doctor screamed, and the door was suddenly pulled inward. The hinges creaked and groaned, and Redger witnessed as the small metal plates keeping this door attached was bent beyond its limit. The lock broke, and the door broke free from its hinges. The Doctor, who had held onto the door handle for dear life, was pulled by the legs by something strong. Pulling the Doctor with enough force to bring he and the door, ripped from the wall, down the hall.

Taking a step back, Redger watched helplessly through the doorway, now an open hole in the wall, as he saw the Doctor, still holding onto the door, dragged down to the end and around the corner. His screams echoing away until he was gone.

For a moment he was frozen stiff, unsure of what to do. It occurred to him to run to the metal room and join the others, but it had all happened so quick, his mind was still registering. Then, suddenly, Redger heard a growl.

At the end of the narrow hall, around the corner, an eerily dark red light appeared. And with it came a low growl, humming louder as it approached. Redger subconsciously stepped backwards, slowly as he waited for the enigma to appear. He didn't have to wait long, within seconds a hoof crept from the corner. Gripping the wall as it shuffled around, its light coloring the gloomy hall with its presence.

Redger felt his heart stop as he saw it for the first time. A demon, but not like the chaos demons, this was the first true demon he had ever seen. The ones that really come from tarterus. Its red fur and talon like goat hooves, its sharp horns, its black soulless eyes. It shambled at first, appearing almost aimless like. Slowly, however, its head bent backwards, cracking as it swiveled its neck around. Then, it stared eye to eye with Redger from down the hall.

Like a deer caught in the headlights, Redger stopped in his tracks. Frozen under the demons glare, Redger found himself lost between thought. He could run to the metal room, but the demon would give chase. Yet, the demon would not stare at him forever, and he would surely attack if not soon. Under panic, his mind rushed for an answer. The most obvious being to run, yet he found that he was unable to move while under the demons glare. Not because of a special power, Redger was simply too scared. He remained still for a moment longer, before he ran out of time.

The demon roared suddenly, and Redger felt his body awaken. With a rush of adrenaline, Redger screamed as he turned to run towards the metal room. Redger heard the demons heavy hoofsteps chasing from behind, so, dropping his throwing knife, Redger hastened his pace to a gallop. From within the room Barney and Cleo heard the demon roar, and Cleo checked through the window just in time to see Redger running towards him, with the demon not too far behind.

"Sweet Celestia!" Cleo shouted. Before Barney could ask what was happening, Cleo rushed to the door and pushed it open. With the entrance wide open Cleo beckoned to Redger, "get inside! Hurry!"

Up the steps and into the room, Redger passed Cleo and collapsed in the corner, panting to catch his breath as Cleo slammed the door shut. Locking it, Cleo felt the door push inwards hard, and he was thrown off his hooves. Landing on his rump Cleo quickly got to his hooves. Rushing for his weapon, he yelled to Barney, "hold the door shut!"

Barney nodded and rushed forth, pushing with all his might to keep the demon outside from entering.

The three would struggle to come up with a plan, arguing amongst one another. Soon, taken in his state of panic, Redger would assume that Dean was the key to saving them from the demon. Barney would argue for Dean, standing in his his defense. While Cleo, unsure and just as panicked, held Dean at bay while keeping him somewhat safe.

The bickering lasted for a solid five minutes, before the demon would cease his attacks on the door and instead attack the window. And it was at this time that Dean had awoken.