Chapter 13: Wake Up The Mountain
Ravage stared in shock at Celestia’s golden armored form. That stupid train pass, he should have incinerated it! He didn’t need the computer to calculate black matter absorption either; it was one-hundred percent! An intense black matter beam shot at him from her gleaming horn.
Paralysis and pain overtook him, as he was barely able to open his jaw to show his surprise. Hot pain started at his hooves, and began propagating up. They were turning grey and he was losing feeling as the bands of pain slowly worked their way upwards. Multiple warnings and error messages scrolled up his heads-up display. “What is – happening?” he forced out.
Celestia was surprised, as working magic on Ravage seemed to take a lot more effort, and intensified her focus. She was greatly tempted to go against her wisdom and cancel the battle shielding to make the procedure go faster, fearing reprisal from Luna before the bond was broken.
With greater focus, came greater pain, and Ravage howled in agony as the pain spread into his mid-section.
Without warning, the ground shook and shifted from beneath Celestia’s hooves, as the very land itself heaved forward and upward. She cancelled the spell and strengthened her shield, frantically looking in all directions. Was a dragon emerging? Was Luna around? Her target’s restored body collapsed and rolled off the jutting land. She jumped off what appeared to be a deepening fault to get away only to discover the true nature of her situation. Fear tried to grip her heart, but Celestia remained fortuitous, slowing backing off with her horn glowing white hot and ready to disintegrate any challengers before noticing that the soil at the bottom of the thrusting land was sitting on metal! She constantly checked her back, the vicinity, and the horizon as the land swell continued opening up and up – it was a huge door! What was Ravage into!? An eerie violet light started to glow from behind the great black object it was concealing, four barns across, accompanied by the steadily increasing pitch of an unholy sound that could frighten even windigoes. Unbelievably, the whole thing seemed to slowly float up, yet she stayed the urge to fire her attack spell, for she knew not what she was fighting. The warrior Princess noticed shifting and clicking, and a small, silvery shaft emerged and pointed her way.
A bright flash accompanied by the sucking sounds of release occurred as the fusion cannon shot her, bashing through her shield and impacting on her armor. The powerful blast punted her into the trunks of a trio of birch trees, all collapsing on top of her.
The ship flew from out of its hiding place, and hovered above the Decepticon’s unconscious body. A door opened and a medicroid flew out, rapidly collecting Ravage and bringing him in. The craft started vectoring out as he was thrown onto its bridge floor. A jet of ammonia gas was released by a probe in front of his nose, and he immediately returned to consciousness. He saw that the other medicroid had been piloting the ship, and that it had just taken off. The stallion bot transformed and hauled himself up to the console, assuming control of the vessel.
Celestia shook off the pain of her cauterized shoulder wound. She was not happy that her gold-clad Solaria armor that had protected her for millennia was shattered and magicless. The angry Princess reared up on her hind legs, spreading her wings and flung off the fallen trees like match sticks. A single contraction of her powerful wings sent her skyward, where she adjusted her trajectory toward the alien vehicle. Her horn and eyes flared brightly, as her magic enveloped it. “Where do you think you’re going!?”
Ravage lunged forward, his ship having literally been caught in Celestia’s force field. “What power!” he marveled, the engines screaming in protest as she dragged him earthward. He could see hundreds of lines of black matter running through his ship in the same direction that Celestia was pulling. It reminded him of “A tractor beam…” An evil smile emerged on his face, followed by a volley of button pushing.
A rainbow of effervescent lights pooled around her horn as Celestia as prepared a light lance, her most powerful attack spell. It had been used to bring down the largest and most brutish dragons, now it would bring down this fiend from above.
A second shot from the fusion cannon blew the magic force field apart.
Celestia fired her light lance, a brilliant, shimmering beam of light, but the surprisingly nimble vessel ducked out of the way of the deadly weapon, and brought itself about. Her barely contained surprise turned to fear when the ship generated its own force field. How was this possible! A smoky yellow beam from the strafing ship struck her. It had done no harm at first, but then she lost the ability to keep herself upright. And then it spun her around, and then backwards!
The offending yellow beam swung the Princess round and round like a yo-yo, steadily getting faster. She stopped spinning randomly, but the stars had gone from being points of light to glittering streamers. Faster and faster she spun, slowly getting squashed! Eight times the force of gravity, ten times, twelve times, her vision darkened around the periphery.
Sixteen times! Celestia passed out. The tractor beam became stationary, elongating like an elastic band as the ship gained distance.
Ravage flew his ship on a south vector, and assumed a gentle angle of ascent, and terminated the tractor beam connection at his ship. All the built up potential energy of the beam went into Celestia’s body launching her toward Ponyville at over two-thousand kilometers an hour, spinning out of control. She impaled the recently repaired tower of town hall, exploding the bottom portion into splinters, sending the rest careening down onto the streets below. With shredded pieces of armor blowing off her like confetti, the limp body of the solar Diarch dashed down the street like a skipping stone, leaving a dust cloud with each impact before finally smashing into a small building at a T-section.
Ravage enjoyed the show from his satellites’ view, and turned the ship toward Ponyville. He brought up the weapons console. “From the void, terror takes its hold,” he recited, replaying some of the rough dragon music in his head. “Face the wrath, as history,” he continued, launching two missiles at Celestia’s position, “Unfolds!!”
Her two good, but bloodied legs stretched out through overturned boxes of quills; the broken ones returned only agony. Her left wing, crumpled and broken, was pinned beneath an avalanche of couches. The smell of kerosene and what was left of the walls, now aglow in orange, portended fire. Groggy, the Solar Princess willed herself alert. The slightest physical movements resulted in electric pain from her broken body. Shakily glancing upward through her one good eye, she saw two projectiles coming toward her from Ravage’s ship. She lowered her head in defeat, for she had debriefed Cadance right before going after him, and knew what was going to happen to her. After several millennia of leading her people, her time had come. Her last thoughts were for Twilight Sparkle. Stalwart and hard-working, brilliant and beautiful, the Friendship Princess and Luna would have to work tirelessly to steer their people through the dark times to come. She could hear the screaming vengeance of Ravage’s weapons now; it would only be a moment.
A blue flash of light! Luna covered her sister’s body with her own.
Ravage watched with glee as the missiles headed for the fallen Equestrian Leader, but then Luna teleported in and out with her sister in just over a second. The Decepticon spy growled in anger as his missiles destroyed the small pony building. His fist slammed onto the console. “Find her!” he barked, and the satellites began their search, starting with the startled pony town.
Outraged, he adjusted course to Canterlot and gunned the engines. The vehicle made for traversing interstellar space accelerated and decelerated, covering the distance from Ponyville to the capital in less than thirty seconds.
Bat pony guards were monitoring Celestia’s tower on a battlement across from the castle. With a whoosh of wind, the black metal mass eclipsed the stars and approached the tower as the engines powered down.
“We’re under attack!” the captain shouted. “Send for reinforcements!”
Two eight-barreled guns emerged from behind doors on the starboard side of the craft and took aim at Celestia’s residence.
The guards tried to discharge magical weapons against the craft, but they were easily stopped by the still active shield.
The guns erupted to life, barrels spinning, each belching out fire and over a thousand rounds per minute into the stately living space. Countless bolts of metal indiscriminately shredded every piece of furniture and painting, every drape, every chattel, every wall. The ventral starboard fusion cannon dropped down from its enclosure and added to the destruction, blasting key support columns. Not even a minute into the assault the whole place came crashing down. The offending craft took off as a cloud of debris billowed out from the former Princess chamber. As it did, a going away present in the form of one last missile shot out the port side. It vectored around, and exploded under the base of the cantilevered balcony. The structure lurched up from the center of the blast only to collapse, its reinforcing steel squealing and snapping as it did, before tearing itself from the castle. Detached, the platform plummeted earthward, turning over on itself like a giant coin, making crash after thunderous crash as it became a debris pile rolling down the mountain side.
Ravage angrily awaited data from the satellite network as he headed into space. “Where are they?” he steamed. It was doubtful they were killed in the castle assault, they weren’t that stupid.
Fluttershy galloped toward the blaze. First there were screams of what she swore must have been Ravage, but as soon she set out for the Everfree a massive impact came from the direction of town hall, followed by an ear-splitting explosion.
Rarity joined her side and said nothing, shocked by the decapitated tower of town hall.
The two continued on though, as the plume of fire down the street appeared to be the real threat, and were joined by Pinkie Pie. “Somepony had a party and didn’t invite me?”
The three arrived to find Twilight Sparkle already organizing the firefighting effort. “Oh thank goodness, you three are here!”
Rainbow Dash was assembling and directing key pegasi.
“What in tarnation happened here!?” Applejack demanded, having just galloped in. Gazing at another demolished building inspired suspicion and ire after her family just lost the barn. Off to the side, the couple that owned the destroyed business shared a weeping hug.
Twilight was overwhelmed, as Applejack was not the only pony with questions. Only the guards waited patiently for orders. She was relieved when the mayor came galloping up. “Mayor Mare, please handle the fire situation!” the Princess ordered.
The grey-haired mare bowed. “I’ve sent out a message to Princess Luna informing her of these events.” She expected the Quick Paper to result in quick action.
“Well done,” Twilight complimented, and the mayor continued the effort, but this would not stem the flow of questioning for long.
“I heard Ravage screaming!” an exacerbated Fluttershy said, instigating a chorus of questions from the ever-gathering townspeople.
One guard yelled over the cacophony. “Canterlot is in flames!”
All at once, every pony looked toward the mountain city, and for a fleeting moment, not a word was said. All stared in disbelief, even as timbers cracked and popped in front of them. Mayor Mare recovered first, and urged on her helper ponies to continue the fire-fighting effort. Twilight saw the black smoke billowing out of an area of Canterlot she knew very well.
“Guard! We need to arrange transport to Canterlot immediately. Spike, contact Celestia at once! See if she’s alright.”
“I’ve got our transport right here,” Rainbow Dash indicated, attaching herself to one of the two yokes on a nearby cart. Presumably, she expected Fluttershy to occupy the other yoke.
A guard galloped up to Dash. “Halt!” she demanded with an outstretched hoof. “This could be a dragon attack. If you are ambushed with the other Elements in tow we could lose all of you.” Rainbow’s angry expression did not deter her. “The safest way is by ground.”
Twilight heard everything as she looked upon the capital. She spun around to address the guards. “Wake the engineer, we’ll take a train.”
I’m already here, came a voice from the crowd, turning out to be the engineer still in his pajamas.
Before that time, trains had never been scheduled to leave Ponyville on Sunday night.
Hundreds of kilometers away, deep inside the Everfree Forest, Luna and Celestia hid. The Night Princess busied herself administering what medical attention she could. Only in the days of yore, when pony hooves marched on the battlefield more than the wheat field, had her sister looked this awful.
“I’ve managed to stop most of the bleeding, but you’re still going to need a transfusion.” The Night Princess used her magic to bundle up leaves and branches into a make-shift pillow, eliciting an agonized sigh from Celestia. Those legs needed to be taken care of really soon. Her right eye was a red smear. In spite of this, Luna was really angry. “I felt Ravage dying one moment, and triumphant the next.” Her sister’s good eye looked away in embarrassment. “I don’t like the feeling of dying, sister.” There was still no response. “What happened!”
Celestia managed a confused look with her one eye. “Pain?”
“Yes pain!” Luna snapped, “As if he was slowly lowered into a pit of lava.” The Dark Princess found Celestia’s incredulous face to be most unconvincing. “What – did you – do?” she demanded through gritted teeth.
With her body shivering, grievously wounded, and losing blood slowly, the Sun Princess was well on her way to dying. Luna, her great savior, was also her only hope. There was nothing else she could do but be honest. “I tried to turn him into stone,” she answered coolly. Her sister was nonplussed. “Had I known it would cause him pain, I would not have attempted it.”
“He was screaming.”
“I needed to finish the spell.” The disgusted face of her sibling, made her rethink her position. “I just want my sister back,” she mourned.
“I am here. I am not going away.”
“The mere suggestion that you let go of Ravage ignited a rage in you I hadn’t seen in a thousand years,” Celestia rebutted, looking directly at her sister, unwavering.
Luna was stumped. She didn’t reply immediately because she knew her sister was right.
“The bond is dangerous,” Celestia added.
Princess Luna’s face finally calmed. “Please let me handle my personal affairs.” The Sun Princess looked away, not liking this at all. “Put your trust in me.”
Celestia realized it was like telling a pony with a love of drink to stop drinking. This was going to be arduous. “Under any other circumstance, I would.”
The Dark Princess harrumphed, and started to work her magic on the last of the bleeding tissue. A few minutes later, messages meant for her and her sibling erupted out of thin air almost at the same time. Luna read hers first. “Ponyville’s on fire,” she summarized quaintly.
Celestia managed pain-ridden chuckle. “Ponyville is always on fire,” she spoke weakly, opening up the message Spike sent her. Somehow, her mood managed to sink even deeper, as the missive was suddenly relieved of her levitation magic and floated gently onto the soil beside her. “The castle is on fire.”
“What!” Luna could hardly believe it. She held various sticks and plants in her magical aura waiting for more information.
“That’s all it says,” Celestia offered plainly. Finally looking at her surroundings, she took note of the thick canopy of trees, and the bats that flew between them. “Luna, where are we?”
“In the Everfree forest, as far away from that firestorm as I could get you,” Luna replied, her magic stretching a piece of vine, testing its strength. “What is it that attacked you? Were you fighting Ravage?”
“Ravage has a vehicle, an airship mightier than any in the Equestrian navy.” Again, her sister looked puzzled, though both started to see the connection between the two burning towns. “You didn’t see it did you?”
“Had I stopped for a pint and relaxed, I might have, but then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. All I know is that your life force was fading and about to be extinguished, so I acted on instinct.” Luna looked as if she was measuring up a piece of wood to act as a splint. “And if we don’t get your bones set by morning then there’s a good chance you’ll be a hobbling, two-legged Princess for the rest of your immortal existence.”
“Then waste no time!” Celestia demanded.
Using her magic, Luna assembled a flotilla of selected lumber and strong vines. Her sister’s broken legs illuminated with the same eerie blue glow. “Ready?” she asked, studying Celestia’s face closely.
“Do it.” Her eye was open, looking ready to face whatever challenge was thrown at her.
Cruising the airless vacuum of space, orders of magnitude faster than Rainbow Dash flew, the Decepticon infiltration vessel sped along unchallenged. The lone occupant in its bridge was pondering the planet he was orbiting.
It turned out that suitable living conditions for ponies occurred almost anywhere in this world. If the Princesses wanted to stay out of sight, it was unlikely that he would be able to find them. He was about to task the satellites to conduct a materials survey for things like tritium, aluminum, and whatever else he needed when he received a message from satellite four.
Unusual Activity: 900B.X382.9812
“The southern Everfree forest?” he questioned. It was unlikely that his luck was going to change, as over a dozen such missives had already been sent, but this one differed in that there was absolutely no civilization around. He decided to give it a closer look. “Route data to main screen, Grid X-ray, Equestrian continent.”
It was an infrared video, with the heat of tens of thousands of creatures peppering the landscape like dust. Vague outlines of rivers could be seen cutting through the area. Ravage inputted the rest of the coordinate data and zoomed in, significantly reducing the noise. He started to play the video though there were still hundreds of the larger creatures. The big Princesses shared the same approximate mass with many animals, would he find them?
At about six seconds in, a quiet quadrant of the map suddenly came alive with activity as flocks of night birds, bats, and other frightened life exploded out of the way of a specific point, an unusual disturbance indeed. Increasing magnification a further five-hundred times to the two creatures in the middle of it all, the outlines of Celestia and Luna could be discerned. The Sun Princess was lying on her back and injured while her sister appeared to be stroking her face. The Decepticon spy could not help but sneer.
Luna could sense Ravage upon her, and looked to the sky where she felt he was – and he was moving fast.
The pony bot sensed trouble as Luna seemed to look directly at him through his main monitor.
Error: Port 35,552: Unauthorized Access.
Incoming Audio Message: Ravage…
There is nothing you can do to stop me, he responded, in thought, to the voice in his head. You are both going to die. Please meet your end with dignity.
Tens of thousands of kilometers away in geosynchronous orbit, the main satellite’s primary weapon, the gamma laser, dropped down and targeted the Princess’ coordinates.
Luna’s jaw dropped as Ravage terminated the mental link. He had become very confident, too confident! “Celestia…”
The Day Princess was shaken by the dread in her sibling’s voice and seeing that her horn had started thrumming with power.
“Celestia, I won’t be able to save the eye.”
Luna’s horn glared with so much magic, it was difficult to look at. “We have to escape. Now!”
In a brilliant flash, the pair teleported. Immediately after, their triage location glowed and hissed, marked by an orange, ribbon-like cloud of nitrous oxides, as the invisible gamma laser scorched the land with radioactive impunity.
Ravage stared into his main screen. Losing those two will have serious consequences, of that he had no doubt. The next time he saw them they would be far better prepared. With nothing else to do but move forward, he changed his focus and issued orders to his satellite network to find the raw materials he needed. In less than a week the Equestrians should be nothing more than memories, easily ignored and forgotten.
Fluttershy and her friends tried to get comfortable in the magically reinforced sleeper car they occupied. Her thoughts were usually occupied by the welfare of her animal friends, and pony friends, but not tonight. Ravage was not okay. Nopony was okay and she was worried sick.
No pony said a word, as all were still consumed with current events and what they meant.
Rainbow Dash didn’t even try to sleep, and instead angrily hovered with her forelegs crossed. “All I wanna know is who we have to take out,” she fumed.
“Rainbow, try to get at least some sleep,” Rarity suggested. “You’ll need your energy for Canterlot.”
While Spike was reading his comics, Twilight laid belly down on the mattress, her face between her hooves. “I can’t sleep either.”
“Twilight, I’m sure Princess Celestia will be fine,” the dress maker soothed. “She’s quite powerful.”
“Yeah? Then why hasn’t she responded yet?” the Friendship Princess returned with vinegar.
That one stumped Rarity, and started a wave of negative emotion throughout the Elements. Even Pinkie Pie couldn’t bring herself to lighten up. Whatever was going on in Canterlot was no party.
Fluttershy was still, and breathing shallowly, her eyes fixated on nothing in particular. Applejack scrutinizing her through the corner of her eye didn’t go unnoticed.
“Y’all know were not going to sleep,” the farmer said to her downtrodden friends, carefully observing Fluttershy. “So what do we know?”
Twilight took the bait, and raised herself to a sitting position. “There’s been a lot of property damage, starting with your barn. Then town hall and what I think is the remains of Sofas and Quills, and the Princess’ castle, all at once!” She suddenly linked one common element to the two timelines. “Ravage was in the barn.” Her expression sunk again.
“Ah’ll bet ya five bits it was him that said ‘die’.”
“But not to Princess Cadance,” Rarity hoped, shaking her head in disbelief.
Twilight’s face flashed anger, as she did not support Cadance’s plan of forcibly uniting Ravage and Fluttershy. “Fluttershy,” the alicorn addressed, “You said you heard Ravage screaming?” The near-sessile pegasus gave a weak nod. “Could you tell me which came first: the screaming, or the damage to Ponyville and Canterlot?”
Fluttershy could only shiver and squeak, hating having all eyes on her.
Rainbow Dash hovered in and landed beside her long-time friend, rubbing her withers. “It’s tough on you, I know,” she spoke, almost apologetically. Her real urge was to shake Fluttershy out of her self-induced coma and make her speak, but Dash’s time with Twilight made her think of ‘finessing’ the information out first.
Fluttershy shook her head, trying to bring herself back to reality. “He-screamed-first,” she rapid fired. Relief, like a warm bath after doing winter chores flowed into her when her friends’ eyes looked away.
“So Ravage screams – then buildings get demolished,” Rarity deduced, still pondering with a hoof to her chin.
“Hmmm, that’s the pattern, but I wouldn’t buy too much into it,” Twilight agreed.
“He was heading back to the Everfree,” Fluttershy added. She realized her mistake when all eyes were back on her once again. “He…” She had to say it, all of it. “He came back to say goodbye,” she choked out, unable to stem her tears.
Rarity was especially struck. “But you two were doing so well.”
Twilight became suspicious after this bout of new information. Princess Celestia was suspicious long before anything was destroyed, and tried to warn her. But like the unwise young adult she was, she ignored it. Perhaps she could mitigate her failings. “Did Ravage say anything else to you?”
Fluttershy gritted her teeth. Noticing Applejack’s sideways look, she knew she could not withhold any more information. “I tried to convince him to stay, but he wouldn’t have it. He…”
“He what?” Pinkie urged on.
“He showed me.” The poor pegasus looked as if she had seen a ghost.
“Showed you what?” the pink pony prodded, eyes waggling.
“His body. It twisted, and folded – I’ve never seen anything like it!” Her friends were frozen in place, hanging on every word. “He turned into metal.” The butter-coated pegasus still wondered if she was ensorcelled, but she felt his body. It was real!
Twilight was the first to recover. “Metal?”
“He was all metal. I felt him with my own hooves.”
Rainbow Dash looked away from Fluttershy, remembering some of the earlier conversations she had with Ravage, particularly how he regarded emotions.
“No! He stood on two legs, and had red eyes and a panther head.”
“Is he a minotaur?” Rarity guessed.
Fluttershy shook her head. They were waiting for more. “Cybertronian?” she ventured.
“Were you the only one that heard him scream?” Rainbow asked.
“I don’t know,” the animal lover answered honestly. “I hope I was dreaming.”
“Ravage is an earth pony with only innate magical abilities,” Twilight added. “Maybe he got into the Poison Joke?”
“If that’s the case, then Ravage fears or hates turning into a metal panther that walks on two legs,” Rarity pieced together, her face scrunching up in incredulity.
“With red eyes,” Pinkie reminded.
“He changed back into a pony before he left,” Fluttershy added.
Applejack wore a deadpan expression. “That makes absolutely no sense.”
“None of this makes sense until we get to Canterlot and find either Princess Celestia or Princess Luna,” Twilight concluded. “As for Ravage turning into metal – that’s a new one.”
“I haven’t even read anything like that in the comics,” Spike sounded off.
Applejack yawned, “Ah’ hate not having all the information. Y’all can talk as much as ya want. Ah’m gettin’ some shut-eye.”
Rainbow Dash yawned and flew over to Twilight’s bunk. “You guys are making it sound like Ravage is some kind of super pony. That’s just silly. ”She wrapped her forelegs around Twilight, and coaxed her to lie down.
The other Elements and Spike relaxed considerably from Rainbow’s revelation, and followed suit, each pulling their fresh comforters over.
Twilight snuggled into her girlfriend. “True, we shouldn’t be making any judgements until we have all the facts.” She magically turned the lights off. “Good night.”
One by one they woke up, all levitating.
Twilight was the first to establish whose magic was levitating them, and judging by the phosphorescent, jade coloured walls, where they were in the mountain. “Princess Luna?”
“Welcome ponies,” Luna’s voice replied. As she put the Elements and Spike down, her other magic that was concealing Princesses Celestia and Cadance, both bed-ridden, faded and revealed all in the great space. Some guards were present as well as servants, Aster was with Luna, and Shining Armor was with Cadance.
“Princess Celestia!!” Twilight shrieked, as she bounded up to her mentor.
The Sun Princess bore many injuries. Her right eye was covered up by a bandage, its loss heralded by the red smear of barely contained blood. Her right wing and foreleg, and left hind leg were in traction. Her body was spackled with scrapes and bruising, her mane a frazzled nest of blood and dirt.
“Who did this?” Twilight forced out, almost at the level of a whisper.
“Twilight, I think we need to start from the beginning,” suggested Princess Cadance, who was all too glad that Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy came to see if she was alright.
All ponies looked toward the Princess of Love. “I’m sorry Fluttershy, but this involves you as well,” Cadance addressed, looking at the ceiling, trying to find the right words. “Luna and Ravage have, for reasons not yet known, developed a magical connection. It makes Luna love Ravage.”
A silence spread over the ponies in the room.
“I examined him first, it felt right!” Luna defended.
“Luna, you are under a spell!” Cadance retorted.“ A love spell, and one I cannot break easily.” She withstood the pain in her broken wing from her outburst, vowing to pay more close attention to it.
Most ponies were too shocked to speak many coherent words, yet Rarity put forth a question. “Princess Luna, if you were made to love Ravage, shouldn’t he be returning your love?” The thought that the pretty and intelligent stallion might be swept away from her herd for Luna did not sit well with the dress maker.
Luna’s expression sunk. “It seems that he does not even like me.”
“It’s inexplicable, but this may be because Ravage already...” Cadance continued, looking directly at Fluttershy, “Feels for another pony.” She studied the animal protector, who didn’t seem exuberant, or even that happy. In fact, it looked as if she was hiding anger.
“Ravage said something was attacking his heart,” Fluttershy reported, speaking almost in an authoritarian tone, and another hush quieted the underground cavern. She recalled the horror of watching him writhe in pain. “It looked like he was having a heart attack! He ran straight into the barn.”
Applejack watched Cadance closely as her yellow friend told what she saw. The Love Princess had arrived unannounced after all, though the farmer didn’t think much of it at the time. She noticed that her illustrious guest was not present at the dinner table before she heard some pony say “Die”.
“Whether he approves of me or not, we still have a kinship,” Luna continued. She waited until all eyes were on her. “You see, whatever he feels, I also feel.” She ignored the surprise of her ponies. “His heart felt as if it had icicles driving into it.”
Fluttershy was appalled. “Oh, that’s just awful!”
All at once, the ponies leapt into chaotic discussion. Ravage this, explosions that, the one thing they were trying to do was mine clues as to what could possibly have caused all the havoc.
The Love Princess was the most secret point. If the other ponies found out she tried to illegally bind Ravage to Fluttershy, the fallout would be very harsh indeed. And Celestia – Cadance told her about the strange projectiles Ravage fired at her, and how they blew up the barn, prompting an expedient exit from the Sun Princess. Then after her brief stint in Ponyville General Hospital she was carted to this underground cavern to find Equestria’s beloved ruler half dead! Looking upon the roomful of confused, babbling ponies, she wondered if she could possibly keep a secret like this, or even if she should. Whatever her plans would have been, her ruminations came to a screeching halt when she noticed, right beside her bed, a calm, orange-furred, freckle-faced mare.
Applejack removed her hat, and held it in front of her chest respectively. “Howdy!” she greeted with cheer.
A weak hoof wave was returned. “Greetings.” She almost grimaced. In fact, she probably did grimace, but that would be a thought for another time.
“How’d ya like them beans?”
Cadance was momentarily confused. “Beans – oh! The ones with the rosemary? They were delicious,” she answered honestly.
Applejack nodded in agreement. “Old family recipe. Ah’m glad ya liked it, cuz I can only eat so much.” She turned, putting her hat back on, as if to leave the Crystal Princess. “Gives me gas.”
The pink Princess chuckled, “I’m sure everypony enjoyed them.”
“Oh, can Ah’ ask you a quick question?”
“Why were you flyin’ in front o’ the barn when it exploded?” she asked, walking away calmly. Her question found resonance, as all ponies calmed down and turned their eyes on Cadance. The farmer did not actually see her fly in front of the barn. She was, however, looking at the commotion of Ravage’s unicorn dates and Fluttershy when the building exploded, Cadance having magically appeared to get in the way of the debris.
Twilight also wondered how Cadance managed to get in the path of an exploding barn, but cut some slack for the Crystal Princess and waited for her medical condition to get under control. She looked upon the shrinking Cadance with suspicion. “Do tell.”
Princess Cadance lowered her head. “I tried to break the bond between Ravage and Luna.”
‘What for’, ‘why’, and ‘how could you’, among other questions erupted in the face of Cadance’s admission.
“Is that all you have to say?”
Cadance heard that question from Twilight, who was glaring at her, but just barely over the din of chaotic conversation.
Luna was incensed. “I thought that might have been you.” Slowly, shakily, she raised silver-clad hoof, pointing at Cadance. “How DARE you!” she seethed, teeth bared, and starting to stomp toward Cadance. “How would you like it if your heart was stabbed with ice?”
Shining Armor got between the two, facing the angry Night Princess head on.
Luna stopped short of Cadance’s stoic husband. “I have no quarrel with you, stallion. Stand aside.”
“Princess Luna, with all due respect this behavior is uncalled for,” Shining rebutted. “Why are you so angry? Do you think Cadance would purposely hurt you?”
“You get outraged when anypony questions your love for Ravage,” Cadance added. The Elements were practically freaking out over the display, but kept themselves in check. “You did it yesterday morning, and you’re doing it again.”
Relief washed over Celestia as she saw her sister give pause. She felt so powerless watching everything fall apart, and was glad Shining Armor’s renowned courage kept matters under control. “Luna, this is going to keep happening.” The Dark Princess scowled at her, but did nothing more as she slinked away. Aster joined her and exchanged hushed words.
Twilight, looking pleadingly, placed her forelegs over the side of Cadance’s bed. “Why did you try to hurt him?”
The flustered Princess could only shake her head. “Twilight, I don’t understand it either. My magic never hurt anypony, never! Not until Ravage.”
“My magic also hurt him,” Celestia admitted, causing all ponies to hush again as they tried to absorb all this incredible information. “It was not meant to.” Anticipating the questioning to come, she continued. “Ravage is awash in suspicion, you see. He managed to escape my sister’s elite guard nine days ago – an impossible feat without powerful magic.” Rarity was particularly shocked at that admission. “A week later, I found out he was able to see into the Dreamscape, which only Luna should be able to do. Suffice it to say that there is something very odd about that pony so I ordered him to Canterlot where I could perform a more detailed examination.”
Twilight raised a hoof. “You could have told us what was going on. We could have kept an eye on him.”
“Information on Ravage has been slow to come, and he had proven himself to be extremely resourceful and clever. I felt that he would have been a lesser danger to me than to you.”
Twilight shook her head in disagreement.
Fluttershy approached the Day Mare’s bed. “Princess Celestia, Ravage is a nice pony!” she propounded; however, the expression on the Princess’ face was not that of agreement. “He has shown us nothing but friendship.”
“Young one, the reason Cadance and I require hospitalization is because of our altercations with him.”
Silence enshrouded them yet again, the longest and deepest so far.
The Crystal Princess began her explanation. “My apologies Luna, I felt it pertinent to break the bond, since your behavior had become very aggressive as a result.”
Luna harrumphed. These little ponies haven’t seen what aggression really is, the poor, sheltered things.
“I witnessed it cause Ravage great pain, yet I continued, determined to complete the task; however, it seems – well, it seems he was able to sense me even though I used a spell to become invisible and silent. He threw a rock at me, and I had to teleport to escape.”
Fluttershy gasped. “I saw that!”
Aster suddenly remembered how easily he found Fluttershy in the bushes, and not only that, but he was also able to identify her before she could emerge. “Princess, he might be able to see the night guards!”
Luna was shaking her head in disbelief, yet it made so much sense. How else would he have escaped the elite guard she sent a week earlier unless he actually detected them?
“I pursued him into Applejack’s barn,” Cadance continued. “He fired explosive arrows at me – don’t ask me where he got them from. I teleported to evade but they were made with explosive magic powerful enough to blow the barn apart.”
“And this wasn’t a spell that backfired?” the Friendship Princess interrupted. Cadance was horrified. “Oh please, when you use too much power and lose focus you can blow yourself up. Trust me, I’ve done it.”
“I didn’t teleport beside the barn just to blow it up,” Cadance rebuked, still shocked at her sister-in-law’s suspicion. It was effective though, as it stopped the crusading mare.
Applejack had to use her hat like a fan to cool herself down. “Well at least we know how that happened. Fact is, Ravage still walked away from it.”
“How did he survive that, anyway?” Rainbow Dash questioned. “Nopony’s that tough.”
“I tried to collect him before he could escape,” Celestia intervened. She paused, and decided that the direct approach would be best for her explanation. “I tried to turn him into stone.”
Yet another round of shock and awe numbed the crowd.
Rarity lied down on her belly. “This is too much,” she weakly uttered.
Twilight approached her mentor, uncertain what to think, but think she did. “Okay, I get it. Turn him into stone so he can’t escape; break the bond. I assume you planned on releasing him upon returning to Canterlot.” She didn’t enjoy the relief on Celestia’s face. Previously, she thought only revolutionaries, powerful magic users, and high level criminals ever got turned into stone, not earth ponies acting suspiciously. “You said your magic hurt Ravage. Did he scream?”
Celestia closed her eye. “He did.”
“I have already chastised her for it,” Luna intervened, believing Twilight’s patience was nearly spent.
Celestia scanned the crowd. Distrust was brewing, and she was the one in a hospital bed! The Elements gathered around Fluttershy, and whispered. Twilight arrived last before sparing one last disappointed look upon the Day Princess.
After their little session, Fluttershy’s friends moved off to the side, giving her space. She walked forward a few hoof-falls. Her confidence, rooted in the support of the other Elements, combined with her natural grace and beauty and commanded the attention of every pony in the room. “Before you disgraced Equestria, Ravage came to my – home,” she choked. In spite of all the doubt, and stress, she held the tears back and recomposed herself quickly. “He came to say goodbye.”
Celestia felt sorry for Fluttershy, knowing how much she liked Ravage. He was in pain and cornered, but Luna’s welfare trumped even that. “Am I so disgraceful? He had already acted violently toward Princess Cadance.”
“I begged him to stay, but would not.” She could hear her friends shuffling, as if to brace for fantastic information. “He – is not just a pony.” The predictable forgone conclusions started to be heard almost immediately. “He is most definitely not a changeling.”
“Is he pony, or isn’t he?” Shining Armor questioned.
“He’s a pony and – a – metal panther?” the pegasus responded. She noticed Celestia’s one functioning eye became as big as a saucer. Yeah, she messed with that guy, apparently not one her career defining moments.
“Ravage is a metal panther,” Luna dead-panned.
Twilight shushed everyone, “There are more details.”
“He transformed,” Fluttershy continued. “His body shifted and clicked, and folded. It was like if you fold a piece of paper, only Ravage is a living thing.”
“Did he say anything to you after he changed?” Twilight encouraged.
“His voice changed. He said ‘I am Ravage, tactical support unit for the Decepticon Battle Fleet.’” Every pony went wide eyed.
Shining Armor approached Fluttershy. “Let me see if I got all the details straight. Ravage is a – Decepticon, a people I’ve never even heard of. There are more Decepticons. And they have a battle-ready fleet of ships.” The other ponies in the room started murmuring. “Did I miss anything?”
“Weren’t you part of a battle fleet?” Fluttershy replied, but the increasing background discussion drowned her out.
“He’s bipedal,” Twilight added.
Pinkie Pie bounced excitedly.“With red eyes!”
“One of their air-ships attacked the castle!” a guard yelled above the growing noise. He levitated a stack of fresh reports toward the middle of the pony gathering and placed it there.
Celestia sensed the momentum turn in her favour. “Their air-ships also have powerful armaments.”
Luna nodded in agreement. “That’s what caused the fire in Ponyville.”
“Princess Celestia, you mentioned that you fought one of these ships?” Shining prodded.
All eyes were on Celestia. She actually fought one?
“As I was trying to turn Ravage into stone the very ridge line itself heaved open, revealing a great cavity. In it, the Decepticon airship was hid.” That definitely held every pony’s attention.
“In a ridge,” Twilight interrupted. “In the Everfree forest?”
“Yes Twilight,” Celestia continued. “Among its weaponry are cannons that can release concentrated bolts of magic. A single bolt destroyed my shield, ruined my armor, and cast me into the trees like a leaf on the wind. Yet I recovered, and as the ship tried to escape with Ravage aboard, I held it back with my magic.” She looked upon the ponies in the room. All were transfixed. “I unleashed a light lance, but the crafty captain had disrupted my force field with a magic cannon and flew out of harms way.”
“Light lance?” Twilight queried, only to be shushed by Luna.
“Then the ship created its own shield! And its speed! It rounded the skyline as fast as Rainbow Dash can fly...”
Dash’s feathers ruffled.“It what!?”
“It fired its own beam of force energy upon me, and spun me ‘round so fast I passed out from the pressure, only to wake when I found it had flung me through the Ponyville town hall and into another building. When I came to for the last time I saw it had fired more of those explosive arrows at me. Were it not for Luna’s quick wit and teleportation skills, I would not be here with you now.”
“And then the castle was attacked,” Twilight realized, piecing everything together.
“By the same ship? The castle fire was seen from Ponyville before its citizens even started to fight their own fire,” Shining Armor concluded. “If it’s a Battle Fleet that Ravage is part of, then they coordinated the Canterlot and Ponyville attacks.”
As the room erupted into the din of conversation once again, Luna placed a chin on her hoof in thought. The whole thing sounded like a vendetta in spite of the powerful forces involved. “Fluttershy is right!” she pronounced loudly, drawing attention to herself. “My sister, and by extension you, Cadance, acted disgracefully.”
“Me?!” a surprised Cadance responded, her husband equally surprised.
“It is of great fortune that he met and got to know the Elements of Harmony before you or my sister,” Luna pressed as she approached the hospital bed. “You were causing him pain. Why didn’t you stop?” Cadance was visibly disturbed by the probing, almost squirming. “Are you so afraid of me? Afraid I might become Nightmare Moon?” she growled. The Night Princess stepped away from Cadance’s bed, and turned to the crowd. “Let me make this perfectly clear,” her voice significantly rose,“ I cannot change into Nightmare Moon, not on a whim. The last time I did was due to deep-seated hatreds that took decades to develop, and accumulate.”
Twilight was very disturbed by this clarification. Did her great mentor not see what was happening to Luna all that time ago?
Fluttershy really felt for Luna. She remembered the first time they met at her cottage, on Nightmare Night. The reformed Princess wanted nothing more than to improve herself, and make friends.
“And now that I’ve got that little misunderstanding out of the way, it is time we moved forward,” Luna continued.“ As I mentioned, I can feel what Ravage feels. What I am feeling now does not bode well for Celestia and I.” She paused, allowing the information to be absorbed. “He means to kill us.”
A chorus of questions from nearly every pony in the room sprang forth. The most common one, “Why would he want to kill you?”
“And probably Cadance if he gets the chance,” Luna added, intensifying the barrage of questioning. “Please calm down!” It took a few moments, but the anxious and fearful group did. “After reviewing the facts, we can conclude that one does not simply arrest Ravage, not if he’s capable of casting alicorn princesses through buildings.” More alarm and shock came from her ponies. “As long we keep underground, we can avoid the immediate threat he represents.”
Twilight was disturbed by a different kind of looming crisis as soon as she saw the hospitalized Princesses. “How would Equestria operate without you?” It irked her to think the indomitable Sun Princess would transfer power to Canterlot’s mostly greedy and arrogant nobles.
Celestia used her good foreleg to gesture to Luna. “I can transfer my powers of state to Luna while we heal.” Her sister did not appear very accepting of the suggestion, but she was definitely mulling it over. “It’s more than smiling and posing for a few pictures. You would have to interact with ponies from every walk of life, as well as foreign dignitaries. You would also act as a supreme justice, settling conflicts…”
“I am well aware of what you do for a living.”
Cadance really liked where this was going. “If you could handle my Equestrian responsibilities too, that would be…” She stopped upon seeing that Luna was most unconvinced.
Twilight approached Luna, and smiled. “I have faith in you. I know that under your leadership, we can fix this.” She was serious, confident.
Luna regarded her young friend. The little alicorn’s skills were deeply rooted in academia, magic and science in particular. As was typical of genius, overwhelming introversion had accompanied these skills. In Luna’s mind, this should have rendered her one of the last choices as Princess of Friendship. Yet, she prevailed, learning not only how to be a good friend, but a leader as well. She gave Twilight a sideways glance, and smiled. “Yes, Twilight Sparkle,” she nodded slowly, “Yes, I think you can.”
Twilight’s smile and eyes grew bigger. “Well then, let’s get started!”
“We can start by having you assume control of the throne,” the Night Princess stated.
Gasps from the shock of the suggestion filled the space.
“B-but I can’t…”
“Why not?” Luna lowered her muzzle toward Twilight’s. “Is it because a librarian isn’t fit to rule?”
The Friendship Princess became even more shocked. “I can’t do it! I was never meant to!”
“You are a Princess, are you not?” Luna pressed.
“Princess Luna,” Twilight began, as if she had been insulted. “Princess Celestia has ruled for thousands of years. I cannot possibly make decisions to achieve as much effect as she can. I don’t have anywhere near that much wisdom.”
“Wise or not, my dear sister bungled the first friendship between Cybertron and Equestria.”
“Luna!” she responded with authority. “You’re second to Celestia in terms of raw experience. You should be taking control.”
“Ah, but I am compromised,” Luna declared, pointing her hoof at herself.“ The bond I share with Ravage is indeed dangerous. My anger at anything that challenges it is barely controllable.” The little alicorn looked noticeably calmer, not knowing what to say to that. “I need you to do this, Twilight.”
She desperately looked around, looking for any advice, anyone to take her side. Her friends and most of the other ponies were waiting, eyes wide open, for the next part. Celestia was smiling!
The great alicorn leaned forward as much as her injuries would allow, and with her good foreleg, pointed to her bloodied right eye. “This was not begotten by wisdom, Twilight.”
Cadance was beaming! “C’mon, don’t you think it’s time a scientist took the reins?” she persuaded.
The young Princess certainly gave that one consideration, her brow furrowed in concentration.
Shining Armor nodded his head in agreement. “You know Ravage, heck you taught him magic.”
“Which he understood,” Twilight added, as if to complete her brother’s statement. “A lot more quickly than anypony I’ve ever known.” She could not hide her disappointment, and shuffled on her hooves. The other ponies were waiting for her decision, so silent the space was. She looked toward Celestia, who was waiting patiently. “This will only be temporary.”
“Excellent,” the Sun Princess commended among yet more gasps of surprise. “Until I have decided that the rest of the Princesses have recovered from this ordeal, I hereby name you, Twilight Sparkle, Regent of Equestria.” She closed her eye and leaned forward as much as her pain racked body would allow.
The other ponies stood there momentarily, too shocked to speak or do anything, slowly began to bow down on their hooves, one by one at first, and then the rest all at once.
Luna, the last subject standing, showed her ivory teeth in a proud smile. With grace and pomp befitting her station, she bowed deeply to Twilight Sparkle.
The blushing little Princess still found it hard to believe she was in this situation. “Uh, you can all get up now.” After a moment of clopping hooves they rose, all looking hopefully at their new leader. Not one pony spoke or looked away, and waited patiently for the Regent to speak. This only reinforced the difficulty of the job to come. “Shining Armor...”
Shining’s hooves clomped down, standing at attention. “Yes, Twilight.”
“I’ll need a status report on – our nation,” she began hesitantly. “Food supplies, water supplies, magical ley lines, transportation and trading routes, everything.”
“I’ll add military readiness to that list if you don’t mind.”
“You may do so, but believe me when I say warfare is the absolute last option.” Twilight was getting worried. The more she thought on what Ravage was really capable of, the more worried she got.
“Princess Luna,” the new Regent addressed directly to the Night Princess. “I need you help Shining Armor with his data gathering.”
She smiled curtly. “Of course, Twilight.”
“Can you also attend to the Sun and Moon in Celestia’s absence?”
Luna gasped, and teleported a pocket watch in front of her. “Why it’s already nine in the morning,” she realized. “Give me a moment.” Her horn glowed brightly once again, yet she remained calm, though the same could not be said for the other surprised ponies.
“Nine in the mornin’?” Applejack blared. She didn’t say anything else, wondering how her family was faring with the chores. Did Applebloom start school in darkness?
“The night offered the best protection for your transport,” Luna spoke as she exited with Shining Armor, Aster, and most of the guards. She looked back before fully exiting. “And we needed you well rested.”
The Regent quickly planned other resources and requirements. “Pinkie Pie, I need you to visit the local Newspaper publishers – the real ones, not the rags – and try to glean any information from them that might point to unusual occurrences in Equestria.”
Pinkie saluted stiffly and smiled proudly. “You got it, Twilight!” A pendant with the crown seal and an accompanying sprinkle of magical dust materialized out of thin air and onto the excitable pony’s neck. The unmistakable colour of magic made them look toward Celestia.
“You are going to need crown authority to get those questions answered,” Celestia explained.
Pinkie looked at her pendant. “Oooooo,” she ogled. Then a familiar jingle resonated with the other ponies as it meant that Pinkie Pie, bouncing off all four hooves, was on the job. “La la-la la-la…”
“Rainbow Dash – kissed Twilight on the lips just as she was about to deliver her assignment. The newly minted monarch blushed with a goofy smile and felt her heart bloom in her chest.
“I’ll round up the Wonderbolts and bring ‘em over here. Only be a jiff.” Taking off in a rainbow flash, Rainbow Dash sped down the cavern, following the boxes and other bits of pony civilization.
“Woo-hoo!” Twilight exclaimed with a drunken looking hoof-pump, a dreamy look on her. “Go get the Wonderbolts.” A few moments later, she shook her head out of it and recovered.
Twilight looked toward Rarity and Applejack. “I need you two to try and find out where Cybertron is. Visit the archives, libraries, museums, whatever you need to help us solve this. Don’t exclude marine, subterranean, or even volcanic peoples.”
As before, two pendants appeared on Twilight’s friends, brought forth by Celestia, who just winked when Rarity looked to her for confirmation.
“Dun’ deal, Twilight,” Applejack said as she trotted away.
“If Cybertron is a place in this world, we’ll find it,” Rarity guaranteed before walking away.
That last statement got Twilight a little worried. Ravage’s real origins, if not in Equestria, could have dire consequences. “Fluttershy?”
The yellow mare stared at the floor. Ravage hadn’t done any harm, at least not until he had to defend himself from ignorance. Now she had to help hunt him down? “Yes, Twilight,” she replied flatly.
“I need you to contact Discord.” Fluttershy’s face snapped toward Twilight in full attention. “Nothing Ravage has been able to do makes sense. We have to verify or eliminate the possibility that he’s from another dimension.”
“Why don’t we ask Ravage?”
“Applejack already did. He’s been consistently vague about his origins.”
Fluttershy lowered her head. Ravage had deliberately squirreled away information on his past leaving ponies no other choice but to speculate. So far, this route had failed spectacularly. Like it or not, Ravage had become an enemy of Equestria. She had to get him to talk, and to do that, the Chaos god may be useful. “I’ll ask Discord,” she committed.
“Thank you, Fluttershy.” Twilight smiled easily. Her yellow friend was very reliable in spite of her timidity. “I want you to know that I’m on your side, and hope this was all just a big misunderstanding and,” she shuffled on her front hooves, “That we can restore our friendship with Ravage.”
The yellow mare positively glowed, her hope soaring from Twilight’s simple words. She grinned giddily, spreading her wings. Just before she took off, she rushed up to Twilight, and kissed her on the lips.It was brief, but very passionate. Her royal friend’s confused look made her feel as if she’d just sprung one of Rainbow Dash’s pranks. “Our herd will succeed!” she announced before fluttering off down the direction the other ponies went.
“Do you need help going through those reports, Twilight?” Celestia suggested, nodding to the stack of reports on the Canterlot attack already being held in her solar magical glow.
“If you don’t mind,” she responded, heading down the cavern.
“I can help with that,” Cadance said, taking a sizable chunk of the stack for herself. “What are you going to do?” she asked of her sister-in-law, well on her way out of the impromptu medical bay.
“Everything I can.” The first stop was the throne room. She had no idea what to tell the nobles, but hoped she could make them understand that there needed to be at least a week long moratorium on court proceedings.
The morning was warm and calm on the southern Celestial Sea. Even without any pegasi weather teams, the sky was cloudless save for a few cirrus formations.
A lone caravel sailed its sparkling blue waters, manned by bird-like creatures that walked upright who were busy cleaning the decks and inspecting the rigging. The two-mast vehicle would have been photogenic as the light wind buffeted its sails were it not for the old paint clinging to grey pine boards, and barnacles along the keel.
“Airship! Due South! Approaching fast!” screamed a lookout form the bird’s nest.
The crew scrambled to get their weapons as a great black ship loomed in front of them, matching its speed to the caravel’s. From a gate the lowered near its stern a darkly figure, shining like obsidian, jumped off. To everyone’s surprise, it covered the over four-hundred foot distance with grace, landing gently on the bow deck due to some sort of lift system on its back that blew off scraps of debris and water like a gale. Their anxiety rose considerably when it – smiled.
“Identify yourself!” demanded the captain, rattling his saber at their unwanted guest.
“Who I am is irrelevant,” Ravage responded in his computer-filtered voice, calmly ignoring the blades and bows pointing at him. “However, you have something I want.”
A clatter of weapons eked forward. “Be gone with ya!” the captain demanded.
Ravage analysed the tightly packed crew members and tried not to laugh. The creature that occupied the crow’s nest was foolish enough to discharge an arrow at him. It would have been a good shot were it not for his left arm snapping out like a viper and catching the arrow. His fingers broke it up like a twig while the other arm drew his fusion pistol. Accompanying the sucking sound and flash of energy was the splintering of the planks of the crow’s nest and her smoking body sent hurtling into the sea.
The Decepticon pointed the weapon at the crew, whom became frightened and back-pedaled three paces. “Where is your cargo hold access?” he asked angrily.
“It’s here!” spoke a young voice. “It’s here!”
“Shut your mouth, Bean Bag!” the captain warned. “Or I’ll sew it shut, and open a new one with your throat!”
It was too late for the threat to take effect as the crew had parted toward the railings, revealing an earth pony on top of some sort of wooden lattice covering. Beige colour covered most of his body except for a few dark brown splotches on his cheeks. He had no cutie mark, even though he was an adolescent. Significant scarring and fresh bruises peppered his withers, back, and flanks.
Ravage stomped up to the covering, which the pony quickly skirted off from. He ripped the thing off its hinges and onto the crew hugging the starboard railing, whom barely managed to prevent themselves from going overboard. Using his jets, he loudly lowered himself onto the bottom deck. He pointed his gun at the floor. “Where is your cargo?”
A slight dimming of the light and a shrieking sound followed as the young earth pony was tossed into the cargo hold. He landed hard with all four legs splaying out, his torso bouncing from the impact. The colt recovered quickly though and got up to face Ravage.
The pony bot regarded the fearful colt, and put his gun away. “Show me.”
Bean Bag shakily pointed a foreleg to one wall of the hold, and then to the door on the other wall. “It’s there!” But the invader seemed unconvinced, as he more closely inspected what appeared to be a plain plank wall.
A large concentration of nails that were not rusted formed an approximate rectangle. Ravage punched through the planks and cast aside a hidden door.
“I’ll make you walk over coals for that,” the captain promised. Bean’s ears drooped, knowing that horrible punishment was in store for him when this was all over.
Four bright lamps emerged from the invader’s shoulders and mid torso, providing illumination to see the contents of the room, which were mostly crates. One crate in particular was heavily fortified with steel members and a bronze lock. He crushed the lock like a grape, grabbed the odd looking crate with one arm and dumped the contents onto the floor.
The Decepticon grabbed a handful of the material, regarding it with a disappointed scowl as gold coins and gems flowed between his metal fingers. “This material is useless.”
Sensing opportunity sparked an idea in the colt. “The – the rest of the cargo is over there,” he indicated, pointing to a proper door on the opposite wall. The armor-clad intruder walked over to it briskly, but Bean scrambled over quickly. “I’ll get the door!” he pleaded, before the inoffensive slab of wood could be ripped off its hinges as well.
Ravage’s lamps revealed a much more promising plunder this time: armor, helmets, shields and spearheads made with iron, and aluminum. Equestrian armor consisted of mostly gold, tin, silk, and cotton. It was complete garbage.
Happy with his find, the lamps folded back into their enclosures. The Decepticon grabbed the colt in his arm and shot back up the chamber, landing on the fore deck while assisting the four-legged pony to easily egress. “You will move your entire military cargo onto the deck.” Ravage pointed his fusion pistol to the sky, and released a warning shot, jostling the crew like frightened children. “Now!”
Within thirty minutes, the armaments were floating up off the caravel in the misty hold of the black ship’s tractor beam. The Decepticon spy was still standing on the deck holding his chin, contemplating his schedule. The more he thought about it, the more likely it seemed he would be unable have the device ready by Saturday, and thus prevent his escape from this mud ball of a planet forever.
He was just about to leave when he noticed the young, crying colt being tied to the fore mast, and the bird creature captain sauntering onto the deck with a long, leathery implement in its claws, criss-crossing the thin end in front of him and snapping it.
The pony bot deduced that the captain meant to apply supersonic shockwaves to rend the flesh of the young pony. “Is this a fitting reward for your most useful deck hand?” The pony had successfully interacted with him, after all.
“I wouldn’t describe showing you the location of our treasure as useful.”
“You’re still alive, aren’t you?” Ravage rebutted.
“You have what ya came fer’. Leave us be! This foal is indentured to me and needs to be punished!” He drew the whip back about to strike when a bright flash struck him with such force it sent him into the sea.
Ravage pointed his weapon to the rest of the crew, gesturing with a side nod of his head toward the tied up earth pony. The same people that tied him up scurried over to untie him. “By the way, that one,” Ravage pointed to one of the males with his unarmed hand, “And that one,” pointing to a female, “Were making out two hours ago on the stern deck.”
A cacophony of finger pointing and angry words broke out just as the Decepticon took off. Bean Bag could only stare in awe at the social breakdown and cowered behind some rigging, hoping his back would remain uncut.
Just as the Decepticon ship returned to orbit, Ravage returned to the bridge having secured his new cargo. He was studying a schedule of the project when noticed a couple of minor anomaly messages on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
The first anomaly was from the polar satellite, and what it reported was astounding. The terminator, a hazy boundary between night and day, was not lining up appropriately with the system’s star when around nine o’ clock it suddenly readjusted to its proper configuration.
The pony bot loathed to click the other minor alert, as it surely meant more confusion, but click it he did. It was a video, which he played right away. It seemed that the pegasi had been busy creating massive cloud formations to form a gigantic message a mile wide. It read, “Ravage, we need to talk,” in capitalized letters.