Pound and Pumpkin Tales: The finale

by Never2muchpinkie


3: Pumpkin's last stand

Pumpkin woke up, her head throbbing. She groaned, cracking her eyes open a bit.

“Finally,” said the relieved voice of Blue Diamond.

She put a hoof to her head, moaning again. “Ow, my head.”

“I’m glad you’re awake. You took a pretty hard hit there.”

Pieces of her memory returned. “Is… is everyone alright?”

“Barely. When your shield was broken all of us were knocked to the ground. That last bit of spell work you did injured or killed all the bugs around us. After that you passed out. It’s only been a few minutes,”

Pumpkin slowly pushed herself up to a sitting position. She closed her eyes as a wave of dizziness overcame her.

“Don’t push yourself, kid,” he said gently.

A minute later she was able to open her eyes again. “Where are we?” she asked, seeing they were in a house. Sitting down, the other ponies in their group were holding onto loved ones.

“Well, after you went down we couldn’t stay in the open. Without your protective magic it was too dangerous to be outside, so we went into the nearest house to hide and wait for you to recover.”

Pumpkin let out a huff, a tear coming down her eye. “I’m sorry, everyone. I wasn’t strong enough.”

“Are you kidding?” asked a stallion. “It’s incredible that you were out there at all."

“No kidding,” said a mare. “You have nothing to feel guilty over.”

Now that things were quiet for a moment and she had stopped moving she could feel her fears and doubts returning. She thought of Town Hall seemingly falling on her parents and Pinkie, and her brother getting petrified.

Pumpkin put a hoof to her chest. “Pound,” she said quietly as her headache slowly faded. She sniffed, quietly sobbing. Even though she was surrounded by other ponies she had never felt so lonely in her life. All of this felt like too much for her.

Blue Diamond gently held her for a few minutes.

“Be brave, Pumpkin,” said Pound. “You're stronger than you know. Keep fighting.”

As her emotions ebbed she once more heard the courageous voice of her brother, seeing his determined face.

She pulled away from Blue Diamond, letting out a slow breath. She couldn’t stop here. She had to get to the castle. Although she wished she could help bring everyone in Ponyville there she knew she was reaching her psychological limit. When she got this last group to safety she’d remain in the castle with the others. She’d already pushed herself far enough and gotten injured once. Now it was time to play it smart and stop risking her luck.

She wiped her face of her tears. Her head still hurt a little, but she was feeling invigorated again.

Pulling away from Blue Diamond she stood up. “Okay, everyone! Let’s go!” she said in a determined voice. “We’re getting to the castle, and no one is gonna stop us!”

Like before she could see the adults looking at her oddly. She couldn’t blame them. Being in a leadership position and helping ponies over twice her age certainly wasn’t something that happened every day. But if she could inspire them, give them hope… then that’s what she had to do. It was her responsibility to do all she could with her new power.

She closed her eyes, thinking, ‘Isn’t that right, Pound?’ She could see him in her mind, giving a hearty nod. It was all she needed to feel confident.

Before they left Pumpkin tested her magic to be sure it was still functional. That hard hit to the head might still be affecting her. To her relief her power appeared as it had before, transforming as she willed it. Her head still hurt a little, but it was manageable.

The group left, Blue Diamond going out first to check the area. He gestured to them and they left.

Pumpkin summoned one orb, making it in a rectangle shape above them. She knew it wouldn’t take long before they were noticed.

It sounded oddly quiet as they headed towards the castle. She found it a bit unnerving. Looking up into the sky it looked clear. She knew it made it easier to get by, but far from making her relieved it only gave her a sense of foreboding, like this was a calm before the storm.

When the castle came into sight it started to get cloudy, the light from the sun slowly fading. She could also hear a humming noise.

She looked up into the sky, and her heart began racing. It wasn’t clouds blocking the sun. It was hundreds upon hundreds of the bug creatures.

She bit her lip. Why were there so many now? She could only guess the other bugs were the advance party, checking things out. She wondered if they could sense when others of their kind were killed, or if they let out a scent they could pick up. Her taking down so many of them might have alerted them that a larger force was needed.

Whatever the reason, it was unimportant. She knew no one but Twilight could possibly handle that many bugs.

“Run!” Pumpkin said urgently. “Run now! Fast as you can.”

No one questioned her.

Pumpkin had to fight to maintain calm as she ran as fast as she could for the door of the castle. She was so out of her league here.

She opened the front door with her magic as they neared, hearing blasts of electricity bouncing off her shield and the humming increase to an almost unbearable level as they focused their attention on her group and approached.

When they were inside Pumpkin slammed the door behind them, letting out a sigh of relief.

She panted hard. She was partially winded from the run, but it was more from fear.

“We’re safe,” said a mare, holding her son. He was trembling as he held her back.

There was a sound of slamming against the door.

“Okay,” said Blue Diamond. “Let’s go find a place to hide.” He looked at Pumpkin. “I sure hope you’re smart enough to realize it’s too dangerous to go out anymore.”

Pumpkin nodded. There was nothing more for her to do.

As they walked down the hall Pumpkin paused, turning her head behind her. She could just feel something was wrong. The pounding and sounds of electricity hadn’t yet been able to do anything to the door, but as the sounds of pounding faded she had the same feeling she had before of this being a pause before something worse happened.

The sound of crackling sounded unnaturally loud even through the sound of the closed door, and she got a mental image of when they had used their power in tandem to destroy her shield.

Her fears proved correct a few moments later as the power of their combined magic blew the door off its hinges.

Pumpkin instinctively reached for her magic, summoning three orbs and blocking the hallway without thinking. The shrapnel slammed into her shield at high speed, wedging itself through two of her shields and partially through the third.

What were they supposed to do now? The castle had been breached. There were too many of them to fight. They were doomed. They were all doomed!

Pumpkin turned to the group behind them as the bugs swarmed in.

She saw the mother and son, the brother and sister, the husband and wife… she saw love and family. She saw the things that she had lost. She thought of Storm Walker, who had lost her parents, and Blue Diamond, who had lost his girlfriend. Maybe they were all alive, but she had no desire to see other families torn apart the way hers had been.

Her brother’s voice rang through her mind. “You aren’t thinking of giving up, are you, Pumpkin?”

“No way!” she responded, her horn glowing as bright as it ever had. “I’m going to protect everyone!”

She summoned a giant mallet, swinging it at a large group. The bugs went flying, sending them flying into others and killing quite a few of them.

“Come on! Run!” she called out. The entrance hall to the castle was far too open of an area. She’d quickly be overwhelmed.

She ran down one of the side halls as the bugs reorganized themselves, and took a ready stance. The hall still had a high ceiling, but now they only had one direction they could come from.

“Pumpkin, what are you doing?” asked Blue Diamond. “We have to hide.”

“Hide where?” she asked. “They broke down the door and are in the castle. The only thing left to do is fight! Otherwise, all the people that I brought here are going to die.”

“Pumpkin, this is insane! You can’t fight that many of them by yourself.”

She smiled at him. “But I’m not alone.” The energy Pound appeared as the first of the bugs came into the hallway. “Me and my brother always fight together. And as long as I have Pound’s strength inside of me I won’t lose.”

Blue Diamond gulped. They were trapped, no doubt about it. Despite his age and his skill, right now their only hope for survival against an army was a small child. He felt completely powerless. It was humiliating. Not to his pride, but that he could do nothing to help her. He had no magic, and any physical attacks were a bad idea with their scorpion tails.

As much as he hated it he knew Pumpkin was the only thing standing between them and death. There would be no more running and hiding. That being the case, the only thing that he could do was encourage her, and pray that Princess Twilight returned before Pumpkin was overwhelmed.

“Go on, then, Pumpkin!” he said, smiling back as best he could. “Go get ‘em!”

Pumpkin nodded, then focused her gaze on the bugs. Summoning twenty orbs she put them in a grate shape, horizontal and vertical lines mixing. As the first group of bugs went through it they were sliced to pieces on the other side, creating a large pile of corpses. Once they noticed they stopped.

They began charging up their tails instead, to try and fire through the gaps. Pumpkin simply pushed the grate forward down the hall, killing another hundred or so bugs.

She let out a small breath, taking a brief respite as she dispelled her magic. Using that much magic continuously would definitely wear her out far too quickly.

The bodies in the hallway at least made it harder for them to swarm in, though if she completely blocked the entrance they would just find another direction to go. She had to hope they were too focused on her to pursue any of the others, or that there were enough rooms and they were barricaded enough that they wouldn’t be able to get to them.

Either way, all she could do now was defend this spot with all she had. She gathered up her strength, summoning several mallets. She could just cut them up, but they had the advantage of numbers. Her best bet was to keep knocking them into one another to disrupt their focus. Despite their intimidating appearance and fearsome abilities they were quite fragile.

“Fight with me, Pound,” she whispered. “I need you now.”

As her brother’s face flashed before her eyes she still felt anxious, but her determination overrode any chance of her nerve breaking.

As several bugs came toward her she slammed them back. When a lightning strike came her way she made a mirror to reflect it back at them.

At first it was easy to repel them, but as the battle waged on and her energy started to wane it grew more and more difficult to lose herself in the flow of magic. For every two bugs she killed it felt like five of them took their place.

When a swarm of them got too close she had no choice but to extend the length of her magic to make the grate shape again and send it down the hall to give herself some breathing room.

She fell to her knees, panting slightly.

“Pumpkin!” called out Blue Diamond.

“D-don’t worry,” she replied. “I’m not done yet. I have to protect. I have to… to protect.”

It was fine. She didn’t have to stand to use magic. It was only a waste of energy.

All she knew was attack and defense. She knew they wanted her dead. She was too much of a threat.

Time seemed warped. How long did she fight? A few minutes? An hour? A day? She had no idea. The only thing she did know is that she wouldn’t quit, not as long as she had an ounce of energy in her body. Too many ponies were counting on her. So long as she had her brother’s spirit inside of her she would fight until the end like him.

A haze was in front of her eyes, blurring her vision. Sweat was dripping down her face and she was panting heavily. She could barely even see anymore. She felt so exhausted.

‘Pound,’ she thought, one eye closed and the other halfway there. ‘Can’t… give up…’

They were getting closer and closer with every spell she cast.

Blue Diamond was biting his hoof. He knew it. Pumpkin was about to be overwhelmed. She had risked everything for their survival. It was obvious they couldn’t run, and even if they tried to hide it wouldn’t take long for them to be found.

She had done so much, much more than any child should have to endure. He didn’t want her to come to harm, no matter what. Thus, only one option was laid out for him: he would take an attack meant for Pumpkin, covering her body under his, and hopefully they would think Pumpkin was dead and leave her alone.

There was a popping noise in an adjacent room, making him turn to look. ‘What now?’ he thought as it opened.

It was Twilight. Blue Diamond clenched his eyes shut, happy tears coming down his eyes.

“What is all the racket out he-” she started, before taking notice of all the bugs and Pumpkin. She paused for only a second as the scene registered in her mind, before instantly getting into battle mode. She teleported in front of Pumpkin, blasting the entire hallway.

Pumpkin saw the purple coat of Twilight and the hall suddenly being empty of bugs. Twilight turned to her and began speaking, but she couldn’t make out the words. ‘I… I… did… it,’ she thought hazily as the last spark from her horn faded and she collapsed onto her side, the world going dark.