Proofreads by Alisia and Zap4th
Rarity slept on her back with her chest slowly rising and falling as she slumbered. Surprisingly her outfit was only a bit of a mess given she was only missing her shoes, allowing her stocking covered feet to poke out from under the covers. Occasionally incoherent mumbling escaped her lips as she twisted in bed. She was more accustomed to her king sized bed than her small queen sized mattress at the office which was for “emergency” situations such as this. Two shadowy figures stood at the foot of her bed for a moment before slowly walking away and closing the door to the small bedroom quietly. This left them both in Rarity’s main office.
“I still can’t believe she’s been boozing this whole time,” Sunset Shimmer said softly to Twilight as they quietly walked. “She puts on such a decent face for the public. Her life seemed perfect.”
Twilight shook her head slightly. “She’s never really been over Sweetie Belle dying,” they continued towards the main doors of the office, “from what I read it’s called being a ‘functional alcoholic’. They’re able to operate perfectly during the day or work hours but then...” she trailed off and her steps paused as did a concerned looking Sunsets.
“...Then they “fall off the wagon” each night,” Spike said with his face popping up on a nearby computer screen. Both women turned to watch as he took his dragon guise. They resumed walking and he walked across the screens, keeping pace with the two girls, “she’s been that way for a long time based on what Twilight tells me.”
Sunset was wide eyed, showing how taken she was by all the new information as she tried to sort it all out. "So," she began while she pulled out the only spare goggles she had and put them on out of habit. “Spike died you said...but he’s here,” she asked while she motioned to the monitor. “No offense.”
“Right. I programmed Spike’s personality into an A.I program I found collecting dust in the old Research and Development files," Twilight explained as one hand idly moved through the air a bit. "No idea why it was scrapped but I did a bit of tweaking and slowly re-created my trusty assistant,” Twilight gave a small shrug before she smiled at the nearest screen at him. “He’s quite the fast learner too! He’s practically running the whole building already.”
“I do try to be useful.” Spike smiled while hopping across to another screen as they exited the main office and entered the private halls.
“...And you’ve been working here this whole time,” Sunset asked as the hallways filled and echoed with the sound of their voices and footfalls.
“Yes. After I was allowed to be a citizen of this world, I entered into Equestrian City University and began trying to figure out how technology worked here.” The lavender colored girl adjusted her hair a bit, “after it became apparent I wasn’t going to find a way home...I started over again,” she answered with a bit of a somber tone.
“I figured that if I could become a prize winning student once, I could do it again.” She rubbed the back of her head and half smiled, “I took several professors by surprise and entered into accelerated courses. I got my PH.D in a couple of fields," Twilight explained with a light blush and lowered her hand. "Rarity was looking for a new head of R&D and things sort of fell into place from there.”
Sunset nodded as she finished her story. “I guess it’s my turn then.” She took a deep breath as they entered the lab and exhaled as the doors were secured behind them.
Twilight took a seat in her office chair with Spike popping up behind her on the monitor banks. “Before I can even think about helping you," she adjusted her seat, "I need to know what happened. Where have you been?” she asked and took her shoes off as she looked to Sunset.
Sunset sighed and took a deep breath for a second time while she leaned against the wall closest to the freshly closed doors. While running a hand through her hair, she looked down at the floor and tried to sort out everything she needed or wanted to tell her friend. “It’s a long story," she kept her gaze down before glancing up to Twilight. "Basically after the explosion, I ran. I kept running for a few years." She sighed and took hold of one arm, "...all over..." Sunset lowered her orbs to stare at the floor beside her, "nearly went to the Eastern Empire but I stopped.”
“Why did you run? We could have helped you.” Twilight crossed her arms in her chair with a look of uncertainty on her face.
“I’d just made a mess of everything. I was pretty sure none of you wanted anything to do with me...so I panicked." Sunset looked up sadly, "I didn’t say it was right,” Sunset locked eyes with Twilight. “I finally came to terms with it after a while. That's why I came back...but," she took a breath, "I couldn’t come back as Sunset Shimmer," she sighed. "The city already blames me for what happened to their loved ones…” she said sternly, "and..." her tone began to soften as she finished, "they're right." Sunset lowered her head to watch the floor once more as she allowed the room to fall into silence.
Spike gave a sad expression and popped up next to Sunset’s head on an LCD screen. “Hey now, that’s no way to talk.”
“It’s true, Spike,” she turned to the digital assistant. “Everything that's going on in this city, the world, the powers people got..." her tone grew tense, "the people that just vaporized...the people they left behind...” Sunset turned her gaze back to the ground, pulled her goggles off and wiping her eyes. "It's all my fault..." she sniffed and saw her tears had stained her leather gloves. “It’s all my fault. Everyone who died, everyone who has died because of people misusing magic...it all falls back on me.”
Twilight stood quietly, walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Sunset…”
“That's why I’m back now," Sunset sniffed and looked to meet Twilight's eyes once more. "I’ve been working for at least five years to try and clean up this awful mess.” Sunset put her goggles back on and with it, "one person at a time if need be. But," a small smile pulled on her face with a newfound sense of priorities seemed to echo in her voice, "I need a bit of help getting into the No Man’s Land.”
“I still haven’t decided if I should help you. Your reputation as The Phoenix has been questionable in regards to your brutality.” Twilight walked away only to stop and stare at her computer screens.
“Anything that was done, I did for the betterment of the city,” Sunset responded while standing and walking towards her lavender toned friend. “I need your help on this.”
A long silence filled the room as Spike glanced back and forth between the two nervously. Twilight began walking further away from Sunset while rubbing her chin softly and looking over readouts on the screens. “I’ll help you on two conditions.”
“Two conditions. Or no help.”
“Alright what are they,” Sunset asked as she gave a disapproving grunt.
“One, you need to tell me EVERYTHING that led you to the No Man’s Land," Twilight ordered as her eyes scanned the glowing screen. "Why you’re going, how you got to that point...” she turned to face her, "everything."
“Deal. What else?” Sunset seemed happy that the first demand wasn’t awful.
“Second,” Twilight turned and tapped a few keys on a panel behind her which caused the glass to turn clear. Inside was a flurry of assembly arms placing servo and joints together on a shell of power armor. The readout above the project read 'Matterhorn Mark 2'. Twilight turned now to face Sunset. "I get to go with you," she said with a smile.
Rainbow Dash lightly winced from the slight sting in the palm of her held up hand that had caught the silver ball. “Pinkie what the heck?!” Dash questioned sharply as she turned her head. She was still facing away from the pink toned girl who still had her hand in the throwing position at the kitchen counter.
“Ah ha! I knew it!” the bubbly girl responded, putting her hands on her hips. The gambit had paid off. “You aren't blind!”
There was a moment of silence and Dash dropped the ball. It landed at her feet with a hollow sound before cracking open with a harmless explosion of confetti and candy. Turning to her old friend, the rainbow haired girl shook her head. “No Pinkie. I am blind.”
“Sure you are. That's why you could catch my confetti ball without even turning.” She shook her head.
“Your what?” Dash raised an eyebrow out of habit.
“Oh! That's a confetti ball I use them at all my parties," Pinkie giggled. "You see, it's full of confetti and with a small pop it explodes like a water balloon and…” she picked one up, threw it on the ground and the same small confetti explosion occurred. “Tada. Instant party decor!”
“Oh that.That's just how...I...uh," Dash's mind scrambled for an answer while trying to keep her rising nervousness subtle. Sadly her knowing she messed up had slipped into her words, despite her trying to sound confident, "compensate for my senses! Like you said!”
“It's ok Dashie! When I picked up my card from the jewelry store and realized it was the one I handed you, I thought about how that happened and then it hit me!” she explained in her usual quickly paced way with a fun, lightheartedness still remaining in her tone. “I figured you were Shadow Strike, the seemingly unhittable super heroine whose been keeping thugs busy on the south side!”
“Pinkie, I don't think you should--"
“Then I realized wait, how come Shadow Strike didn't want to stick around? Maybe she had a cab waiting for her and she still had to change!" Pinkie exclaimed as she pointed at a random direction as she stood in a pose similar to a popular video game character. "Speaking of which," she put one hand inside her flexible hair to start feeling around, "I got a ticket for parking the van in the alley. I wonder what I did with it..." she pondered as she pulled her hand out empty and looked briefly around her place. "Oh well doesn't matter!” Pinkie shrugged it off as her ramble concluded.
“Wait, the jewelry store? That means…”
“Right! I'm the other hero who totally saved your blue behind in the store!”
“Now wait you didn't-" Dash started before sighing as Pinkie cut her off.
“Just so we're even…” Pinkie suddenly sped out of the room and into the tiny bedroom to the right. Dash tracked her friend the best she could but at the rate she moved at made it hard for even her to lock onto the pink blur. Turning her head quickly out of reflex, she saw Pinkie zip back into the room and double check all the blinds before coming to an abrupt halt in front of Dash. Dressed in her Splitsecond gear, minus the mask and goggles, Pinkie smiled and gave her friend a huge hug. “See! It's me too!”
Rainbow Dash was completely taken back by the rapid visual exposition and movement of her friend. She was speechless for a minute but then shook her head and smiled. “Alright, Pinkie, I'm Shadow Strike.” She finally admitted.
“Woohoo! I'm right!” Pinkie seemed relieved.
“But, I am still blind.” Dash added, tapping the floor with her cane and taking off her glasses.
“Huh?” Pinkie gave her a puzzled look and waved a hand in front of Dash's faded eyes.
“Let's sit down at least. I actually am kind of hungry now.” Dash smiled, feeling at ease with her friend as the odd behavior was now making sense. They both had felt they were going out on a limb to different degrees trust wise. With the secrets gone they both felt like teenagers again despite how the world had changed itself, and them, over the last decade.
“Sure I can get us a pizza in like no time!” Pinkie chirped snapping on her headgear.
“That would be totally awesome,” Dash said, sitting on the couch and relaxing. “When can you--"
Pinkie dashed out the door, unlocking her deadbolt and closing it before her friend could finish her question. A few seconds of silence and Dash jumped, startled as Pinkie arrived and set a large pizza on the coffee table. “Pizza is served!”
“Wow. That was fast, didn't take more then--"
“A Splitsecond?” Pinkie finished, smirking.
Both the friends burst into a round of snickering and laughter.
A gentle gust of air brought with it the scent of fresh croissants to Rarity’s nose. She sniffed the air briefly and adjusted her sunhat as the distant sound of a jetliner flying over the skyline of Equestrian City hit her ears. The patio of the Rarity Building, one of the few things she allowed herself as a vanity item, was one of her many hiding spots she had. Sitting across from her was a larger man. His short but well kept blond hair accented his freckles and blue eyes. There was a distant look in his gaze which was fixed past Rarity on a skyscraper behind her.
“I do wish Tiara would stop trying to outdo me at every turn. It’s clear to me she has taken this personally and this is no longer just business,” Rarity said and watched as an attendant walked onto the patio and brought in breakfast. “Dear, breakfast,” she happily called with a smile and took a drink from a glass of amber liquid. “Just in time too. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
“Eyup,” her husband, Big Mac, responded quickly with his gaze now fixed on the food as it came in. After taking a small sip of his morning beverage as well, he set it back down. It didn’t take the keenest of eyes to notice their taste in beverages for breakfast was different. Orange juice versus liquor. It was like comparing Apples to Oranges.
“After 7 years of marriage, you’re still as well mannered and conservative as when I fell in love with you, dear.” Rarity mused, taking a small butter knife, sliced off a little of the softened butter and placing some on her croissant.
“Eyup,” he responded, looking over his breakfast which consisted of a larger helping of eggs and toast.
Rarity frowned for a moment with the feeling of unease building in her. Looking around, nothing seemed out of the ordinary yet something still felt off. Paying it no more mind, she took a drink and set her glass down next to five empty ones. “You know...a lot of people didn’t think we’d really be a match. With you being as mild mannered and me being, well," Rarity brushed out dramatically some of her hair while striking a pose in her seat. "Fabulous,” she said and smirked at herself, not looking at him. “Little did they know, a bit of bubbly and we both found out how similar we really were when it comes right down to it,” she said as she relaxed her fashionable pose.
“Eyup,” he answered with a bit of food left in his mouth before he resumed his meal. Rarity looked over, gaining a concerned expression upon seeing he was eating as if he hadn’t ate in years. She felt another shiver run through her as the door to the patio opened and another attendant arrived. Silently the new arrival handed her a telegram and walked out just as quickly as he had came.
Opening the telegram, she reached a hand out and pushed aside nine empty glasses and two empty bottles before she set another empty glass down. Taking up another full glass, she begin to take a sip but slowed her actions as she read the message. “Oh...my...gracious!” she gasp. “It’s…” she tried to set her glass down but ended up knocking five empty bottles over to the ground, amazingly not shattering a single one. However the clattering didn’t seem to bother her breakfast companion. “It’s my sister, Sweetie Belle. She’s...dead..”
“I...I wasn’t there for her,” Rarity said in shock as the reality hit her like a train. The shattering of six bottles of brandy to the floor was ignored by both of them as she read further into the telegram. Not sure she read it right, Rarity read it again to be sure. “I’ve only got you now, my love.” The business woman looked up and dropped the telegram, her face falling and eyes widening with a hand grabbing her chest in fright.
In front of her wasn’t her husband but a facade. Continuing to eat unfazed, half of his clothing had been torn off which had left him looking ragged. Rarity's gaze looked Big Mac up and down, finding the rest of him wasn’t much to look at either. Big Mac stayed put while he enjoyed a seemingly endless plate of food, uncaring of the dirt, grime and blood that seemed to cover all parts of him.
Rarity's face twisted in confusion from his missing flesh. Namely this was around his mouth where food fell from, yet he seemed to behave as if nothing was amiss. Finally he stopped and with an eerie silence looked up, now with half his jaw missing. Unfortunately her vision became obstructed by the absurd growing number of empty bottles appearing, and overflowing, from the table. The bottles of high end whiskey and other booze fell and shattered with their labels in full display for all to see.
“Eeyup,” Big Mac said with a monotone demeanor as he kept staring at her unblinkingly.
Rarity stood with a startled shriek as she swiftly backed up and twisted around. She made a rush for the exit but didn’t make it as her designer heels got caught up in several of the empty fallen glasses. As she tumbled to the ground the bottles and glasses oddly did not shatter. Looking back her eyes widened in fear as she scrambled to her feet with the empty alcoholic vessels multiplying well beyond what she recalled drinking. Almost swimming through the clear containers, Rarity struggled to reach the door handle without needing to shove aside some empty bottles. What is going on?! she thought as she knocked more and more bottles away, only for the amount present to grow each time and become more cumbersome.
Finally reaching the handle, Rarity opened and slammed the door shut behind her. "Coco?! I need you!" she cried into the dimly lit hall. The ceiling lights grew brighter, causing her to squint until her eyes had adjusted to see her surroundings. "Where..." Rarity bit her tongue as she took in the unfamiliar interior. Taking slow steps her ears began ringing with the dead silence that was filling the room. She looked around while advancing and, the further she advanced, the more her stomach twisted and her palms began sweating. It didn't take long before she began to step back and reached out to the wall behind her. Rarity found the wall but as she her hand slid over the smooth surface, it found nothing. Turning around her face fell and twisted. Glass, she thought confused.
Rarity twisted around as her eyes scanned wildly the frosted prison. Starting to feel with both hands, a clink caught her ears. Turning her focus to one hand she gasped, tossed the half bottle of whiskey briskly to the smooth ground and began pounding on the wall. Rarity frantically moved about the space as her breathing grew harder. Why am I in my glass? What's going on?! Suddenly tears slipped into her eyes as her breathing grew harder. After a few more moments of searching, slowly Rarity sank down a wall and threw from her hands with force two newly appeared glasses of brandy. Just as they shattered, a familiar sound reached her ears as a drop of something landed on her head. Looking up she saw nothing and stood as she wiped her eyes. The sound happened again. What, the business woman thought and looked down with a gasp to see amber colored beverage filling up around her. Rarity sniffed while keeping herself afloat and her eyes widened again. "This is my high end brandy," she exclaimed in shock as she kept rising with the pouring liquid.
She swam and reached one of the walls as the brandy began to swell and swirl around her. A short scream escaped her as she was tossed towards another wall and caught view of a new location. Why am I in my office?! Her mind tried to grasp what was going on as the alcohol began to grow once more, lifting her closer to the lip of the glass. Rarity swam to another wall and pounded on it as the liquid stopped just short of the brim, leaving it just out of reach. Is-is this h-how I d-die?! her thoughts trembled as fresh tears began to appear in her eyes where alcohol soaked her hair and colored her untouched skin. The rustle of fabric drew her focus with a caught breath at the one she saw looming overhead. I'm there but...I'm here...! she thought with her jaw dropped, at a loss for words and thoughts on what to do in order to try saving herself.
The larger her relaxed back in her chair, casually sipped her morning choice for an eye opener while she attempted to read the morning newspaper. Larger Rarity exhaled as she leaned her head back and slightly tilted the sunhat back to make her face visible. Releasing a wide yawn, she set down then picked up her numbing drink before taking another swig.
Smaller Rarity pounded and yelled but now, as she looked around, found the filling vessel to be a closed bottle and she was nearing its cork. "Help!" she screamed but her larger self didn't even turn around to look where the bottles stood all lined up. Desperately she continued to try and get free despite her nearing demise. Looking up her face fell with fear as she placed her hands above her, trying to push free the cork. It didn't budge. The liquid kissed her chin, then her cheeks and soon her nose. Rarity choked and gasped, trying to keep her head above the never ending fluid.
She took a gasp of air as the drink soon enclosed around her. She floated inside the bottle where she kicked and punched the thick glass. Her lungs began to burn and her eyes closed tight before her mouth burst open. The air Rarity had held onto escaped in a fury of bubbles. Her eyes widened as she desperately tried to breath but darkness closed around her with a chilling touch of death.
Rarity shot up, gasping for air and grabbing in front of her. Her fearful expression fell with the crash of reality striking her senses, slowing her breathing with relief. She looked down to herself to see the chill was her soaked clothing. Touching her head, Rarity removed her hand to see droplets of sweat. Taking a deep breath, Rarity released it slowly and closed her eyes while trying to relax her shoulders. Just a nightmare...thank goodness, she thought, still a little shaken with her mind still recalling pieces of the details.
Scooting to the edge of her bed, she began to scan her surroundings to see it was her emergency pass out room in her office. Rarity ran a hand through her hair as she stood with some wobbling before taking a step to the open bedside cabinet. She pulled out a few delicate towels marked with her logo and began to wipe dry her sweat soaked body. As the soft Egyptian material wiped away the moisture from her brow, the hazy memory of her nightmare remained fresh in the front of her thoughts. Slowly she stepped back and sat on the edge of the bed. Exhaling a trembling breath, Rarity reached for the nightstand. She took up a bottle and glass, pouring herself half a glass of port before stopping. Her tired and drained eyes stared at the paused action. Silence filled the room for moments which felt like minutes as her mind began to grasp what it had started doing. "..." Her eyes closed halfway as her hand holding the bottle began to tremble with a mix of swirling emotions and thoughts. Carefully as she could, Rarity eventually set the bottle and glass back into their spots on the bedside furniture.
Rarity looked down to her trembling hands, turning them palm up. Time seemed to slow down and melt away as her sad and scared gaze stayed on her appendages. Eventually her blue orbs trailed over to the stand before she took and lifted the half filled glass. She brought it to eye level and stared at it for a long couple of minutes. Images of her inside the frosted prison washed over her mind like waves on a beach. Ever so slowly she set the glass back down yet her gaze remained unbroken on the settling liquid. Moments later her hand reached for the glass but hesitated halfway. The hesitation didn't last long before a deep inhale, her hand securing the glass, bringing it up and she took a single sip.
Stiffly she extended her arm out, set the glass down and jerkily each finger removed itself from the smooth surface. Forcing her body up, she made her way over to a small, walk-in wardrobe in the next room. In the doorway Rarity hesitated and started to turn her head to look back. Her head jerked forwards as her stiff movements entered the room. She closed the door behind her, took a breath, turned on the lights and began to pick out a dry outfit.
Back at the mansion, leather gloves softly squeaked with the curling of a hand into a balled fist. Malcontent narrowed his locked gaze on the chessboard of Equestrian City. Scanning the grid he took note of each chess piece before him. He took his right hand and danced his leather covered fingers over a few pieces that held simple symbols for the person they represented. His hand trailed over another few which held the faces of those they represented. "Hmm..." Malcontent leaned back from hovering over the board and eyed Rarity's building where two pieces stood. Shifting his gaze he narrowed his sight on the location with Mistress Mayhem's piece. How to best utilize her next, he pondered.
Softly the main doors opened and closed, allowing for muffled footsteps from a familiar pair of boots to softly announce the entrance of a visitor. The last Siren made her way to the main doors to the living room and smoothed her usual outfit. This should please him as it's supposedly his favorite, she thought with a smirk on her lips. Pushing open the doors and closing them behind her, Aria made her way across the red carpeting as the crackling fireplace filled the silent room. A hand rose to push a few strands of hair back away from the gem which danced with the firelight. He can't be resistant to my advances much longer can he? I mean... she took her time, almost exploring the room as her steps were deliberate with the swing of her hips. How stubborn can one man be? Aria eyed over to the back of his chair with a frown. Not as if he's given anything up for me. Yet I have given much up for his goals and errands, she thought with a bit of venom in her thoughts. Aria glanced down to the gem as her eyes closed half way with some pondering. ...Not as if I could tell the difference between good and bad anymore... The Siren turned her focus towards the back of his seat. ...What if...it wasn't just coincidence he showed up right at that moment and helped me...?
“I can hear you thinking, my dear Aria,” Malcontent commented calmly as he stood and shifted a few pawns. He took a small gathering of papers from under the box of unmarked pieces, set the box down on the opposite side of the map and made his way closer to the fireplace with his eyes set on the map, specifically on ground zero.
"Oh? What pray tell did you hear," Aria inquired. She made her way over and eyed him in his buttoned up, royal purple dress shirt and black tie which was in a Windsor knot. He could at least read some magazines on how to dress better, she thought with a brief crinkling of her nose.
Malcontent's attention remained on the map as his hands began to shuffle the papers. A slow smile crept onto his face. "Something must be rattling around in that useful head of yours," he inquired smugly as she for a moment frowned before regaining a pleasant expression.
Alright, we'll keep playing it your way. I'm not losing this fencing match. Aria neared and sat on the arm of a chair with her side to the fire. "My mole inside the police tells me something interesting."
“Do tell,” he flatly stated as a frown slipped onto his face and his brow wrinkled with a slight tightening of his jaw before he took a breath, and finally turned his attention to her.
Aria momentarily was silent, taken by the expression. Huh...wonder what the rare occasion is. She soon shook herself out of her thoughts to give him an answer. Aria smiled more with a fresh wave of confidence flowing through her. Crossing her arms, she focused her magic and began to levitate herself just so she was slightly above him. "I thought," she began as she looked down on Malcontent with a bit of a thrill in her eyes. "That might get your attention."
He seemed less than amused as the glow from his eyes flickered between the deep purple and cobalt blue colors. “Things are reaching a critical stage," Malcontent sternly stated. "Of course I…” he cleared his throat, took a hand and placed it on her left shapely thigh. "Of course WE..." the black haired man corrected himself as he pushed her back to the floor firmly. "Don't want any wrenches in the gears," he finished with his eyes locked with hers as his smile had returned. "Now," Malcontent removed his hand, "what is this interesting news?"
“My little pet at the station," she began as she stretched her arms behind her back. "Saw several reports of an intruder alert in No Man’s Land.” Aria rested one hand on her hip as the other began to comb her slender fingers through her ponytail. "Seems it matches the description of The Phoenix," she said as she turned her full attention now on him. "You know, that one you seemed to almost approve of," the Siren asked with a layer of jealousy lacing her seemingly relaxed toned.
“She has a certain...lethality to her that is amusing.” Malcontent almost chuckled as he crossed his arms and brought a hand out to motion to her. “Go on,” he said as he tucked the hand away and locked a defiant gaze with hers chillingly.
She held back a chill from his eyes. “She was seen heading towards…” Aria turned to the map so her back was fully to the fire and moved her right hand towards it. “...That area,” she finished as she pointed to a certain spot.
Her lover followed her hand and his eyes widened upon the area she indicated. “You don’t say...” Malcontent said quietly with a light stunned tone in his voice. What would she had wanted around the supplies and storage... he pondered as a hand slipped up and curled his fingers around his chin. His brow crunched up and his eyes narrowed as his expression fell into a stern seriousness. What could she had been hunting for?
“I only mention this...” she turned, leaned back seductively against the hip high table and looked at him. “Because you seem rather focused on this area instead of...other areas you’re usually very attentive too.” Aria gave a coy, manipulative smile as her nature began shining through. However she did take notice of the room’s drop in temperature as he started to access his powers. Gradually a gentle wind began to blow but as time passed, it started turning sterner.
Malcontent didn’t pay her much attention despite her attempts she had pulled on other men. Instead he pushed her gently aside without removing his cold orbs from his homemade playing field. His frown deepened into a scowl. How could I have messed up?! It took painstakingly forever in tartarus to plan out every detail! Malcontent snorted as the fire began to dim from the growing cold airflow before it gradually started to cease. Soon his eyes widened and slowly his scowl twisted into a grin as the chilling wind causing Aria goosebumps began to warm with a growing fire. "...Or that could...hehe, yes," he said with a growing confidence gleaming in his sharp eyes.
"Or what," Aria asked curiously but played it as nonchalant as she could.
Malcontent didn't answer right away as he scooted around a few pieces. "Just a little shift in certain gears in our plan." Aria raised an eyebrow as he continued. "I've taken too much care in storing all the needed materials to let some proclaimed hero interfere. Even if she has stumbled onto something..." he switched another few pieces around. "She no doubt has no idea what she actually has and putting all the pieces together will be nearly impossible for anyone at this point."
"Are you sure about that? She might be smarter than she seems."
"You give them too much credit," Malcontent stated confidently as he rose from his hovering over the map. A few side steps are nothing so long as I get what I want, he thought as he stepped back, turned and began walking away towards a set of doors. He snaked his arms behind his back, laced his fingers together and stretched which caused the leather to briefly sing quietly.
Aria narrowed her eyes on his departing form as her amused expression fell and a small snort left her nose in a puff. It didn't take long before her glare ceased and she released a breath while pushing off the table. She looked the map over closely at the changes for a moment before following after. "So..." Aria watched the doors be pushed open effortlessly. "You're not worried then," the Siren asked in a dull tone of boredom.
Malcontent made his way through the small room and onto the open balcony. "Why should I be worried?"
Aria stepped forwards onto the balcony to gaze out at the ruins of Canterlot High School, its suburban homes and No Man's Land with the busy lights of Equestrian City as well as the busy Horseshoe Bay. "Because a single woman showed your security sucks."
"You forget," he looked around towards four pillars with runes etched into them with a pleased smile staying. "The odds are slim this hero will be a problem. But..." he turned his focus to Aria who was busy overlooking the land deemed unlivable due to Magic Madness by authorities. He cleared his throat and she turned her attention to her lover. "I should move up the time table," he said with a serious tone despite the confidence still reflected in his eyes. "I trust you told our hair brained friend to start her fun," Malcontent asked with a hand lifting and motioning towards Aria.
Aria folded her arms and leaned back, nearly sitting on, the railing. "Oh she's already well into her plans," she said with a small eye roll. "The neutron bomb she stole has her full and undivided attention."
“Good. Then there’s nothing left to do but wait until the fireworks begin," Malcontent stated as he stepped closer to the Siren. "Then," he relaxed his arms, laced one around her waist and pulled her close with his eyes locked with hers. "We can move,” the mastermind whispered with a grin befitting the devil himself. Malcontent brought his lips near hers, whispering, "of course we can find some way to amuse ourselves in the meantime."
Aria felt her breath get stuck in her throat before her own smile spread. She moved closer with one hand lifting, resting on his shoulder before trailing down and tracing his chest. Just as she went to continue, he chuckled and slipped himself free of her. Aria frowned as she watched Malcontent walk away from her, heading back inside. The quiet danced in her ears as she simply stared down the pair of opened doors. Do I follow immediately or...do I give it time then saunter in? Or... Aria turned her attention back to gaze at the city lights with half open eyes. Moments turned minutes would pass in silence before the Siren would break herself from her trance and make her way inside, closing the doors quietly behind her.
Back in the city, Shadow Strike lept from one rooftop to another, rolling and moving with precision as she tried not to lose any momentum. Her sonar kept track of a familiar pink streak below. She leapt over a set of lawn chairs, flipped and pushed off the ledge of the last building. Wonder what they were watchin', Shadow thought as she spun to come down in a perfect three-point landing on the next building. She adjusted her mask slightly as the right side of her face mask had a tiny bulge inside it. “These headsets aren’t really made to fit under masks, Pin...er...Split,” Dash said as she quickly corrected herself, despite being on a secure channel, to uphold their agreement on names while on duty. “Where you at?”
“Almost a block away from the warehouse. Hurry up slowpoke!” A perky voice crackled back over the earpiece.
“So this show you're into, what's it about,” Strike asked while hoping to distract and possibly win the race against her new partner.
“Oh! ‘Total Wasteland’ is all about a buncha folks who are trying to make a post apocalyptic wasteland into a suitable home!”
“Sounds kinda boring,” Strike stated unimpressed as she made a jump to another roof off a balcony.
“Not at all! See there’s a buncha girls and one guy.”
“And he’s one of the last males not irradiated to the point of being feral!” Split excitedly explained as she dodged under a ledge and stepped through traffic with ease.
“Wait...and this is some kinda kiddie show?”
“No, no it's totally the opposite," Split said with a snorting laugh. "It's easy to just think of it as some sorta shallow show, but if you watch it and rewatch the episodes you totally get a whole new way of looking at the episodes!”
“Isn't this show mainly for younger boys,” Strike asked with the rising of an eyebrow.
“That's so not the point," Split said with a huff. "It may have started out as a show for kids but then it took a totally different direction when the studio noticed that its viewers were much older and not just men!”
“So it IS still just a little boys show about--"
“We can talk about it later. I've got all the seasons on demand!" Split excitedly proclaimed with a small giggle that ended with a snort. "Hurry up or all the bad guys will be out cold by the time you get there, Strike!”
“Ha!” Shadow Strike answered as she neared the edge of her current building. She searched the area, mapping around the obstacles and took her pole from her belt. A grin pulled onto her face as she leapt off the structure. "You'll be lucky if I don't take out more than you," she exclaimed confidently as she tucked and rolled across a rugged looking roof, before springing up and resuming her pace. Once Strike made it halfway, she made a quick gesture with her staff. The metal pole shot out to its full length and cut through the air with a sharp whistle before being interrupted by the singing of metal clattering.
The trashcan fell and rolled a bit as Strike got another blip of her surroundings. Just a half second later the staff was thrust down and pushed. She fluidly pole vaulted across a gap and up to the balcony of the nearby billboard. Without missing a beat Strike landed, twisted the pole to the ground as she ran and propelled herself to another billboard. This continued until she landed low in front of a boarded up storefront at the end of the block and marked the starting of the warehouse district.
Splitsecond ran up to Strike, her hair still as poofy and springy as ever despite the kinetic value that should be applied to it. Snapping to a stop next to the acrobatic hero, she adjusted her goggles and looked over to Strike. “Well, took you long enough! Ready?”
“I still don’t know why we couldn’t just eat the pizza THEN go to this call,” the blind hero grumbled, spun her staff to its smaller size and locked it back onto her belt. "I haven't had anything to eat today."
“Oh don’t worry, we’ll pick another one up after this,” Pinkie responded while turning towards the warehouse district. "Now," she began while slowly scanning the area. "Thanks to my handy dandy police scanner, the call was for a report of possible animal abuse." Split kept her focus on the identical building fronts, resulting in her words to sound offhanded.
Strike gave a frustrated sigh and held her head with one hand. “We’re out here for THAT?”
“No silly, there’s like a huge animal smuggling ring that’s been bouncing from warehouse to warehouse." Splitsecond turned to briefly look at Shadow Strike as she scanned the area. "I was actually going to check them out tomorrow, but thankfully they’re impatient and moving their stuff today!” Split tried to contain her emotions as she turned her focus to another area of the district, squinting. “The complaint was for noises that shouldn’t be coming from..." she trailed off as Shadow raised a curious eyebrow leaning in then jumped back a little. "AH HA!” Split exclaimed with surprising restraint and pointed. “There!”
Before any question could be raised, Splitsecond took off like a shot and left behind her signature illuminated trail. As she took off, Strike tried to grab the speedster's shoulder. "Ugh," she groaned and chased after. "Hey, wait," Strike shouted as she tried to not lose sight of her speedy companion.
Strike continued as she used her sonar to hurdle over the randomly placed crates and other various objects. Kicking over a barrel, Strike gained a renewed clear view of her surroundings as well as where Splitsecond was going. She soon ducks behind some covered crates and waits, taps the ground with her foot and sees nothing out of the ordinary. Hmm... The quiet pondering didn't last long as moments later the pink blur zipped behind and knelt behind Strike, out of sight. "What'd you find?"
"Chickens? Birds," Strike asked impatiently as she didn't bother to even give her friend a head turned glance. "Sheep?"
“Nope, just bunnies and ducks,” Pinkie whispered as a duck feather floated down from out of her hair. “But that's good!”
“It’s good? Why,” Strike asked puzzled.
“Because that means they’re here," Split answered with a small eye roll. "The smugglers are moving their main cargo out by boats and under the radar."
"You can't mean that they fight bunnies and ducks...can you?"
Split snorted with a small scoff. "No, they knock out the larger ones like the lions and tigers and bears first but,” Split sighed before continuing. “They still need to get them food for the long boat ride.”
“What?!” Strike exclaimed while an eyebrow rose under her mask. “Then what are the small one’s for?”
“Duh,” Split said simply as she tightened her gloves. “There’s about three guards keeping an eye out along the building. Don’t know how many are inside."
Shadow Strike was silent, lifting then hitting her heel on the ground. “Four outside, you missed one,” Strike explained while she tapped the side of her head.
"Oh right. That's useful."
“But that's okay.“ Strike stood and stretched out her arms. “I’ll take the front, you zip around to the back,” she instructed as she unclicked the compacted staff and smiled with confidence. “They’ll never know what hit them.”
At that moment both the girls jumped and turned as the sound of a massive man crashing out the front of the warehouse echoed in their ears. Strike had her staff extended and ready for use as Split had pulled out a homemade bomb, ready to throw. Strike was about to speak but closed her mouth as another two thugs went flying like pebbles. Shadow was at a loss for words as quietness began to settle over them. "Wow...you were right," Split said with a shrug as she turned her focus on her partner. "We're so good even WE don't know what hit them!" a small giggle escaped the pink hero.
Strike released a small groan. "Come on," she said in a tone which matched the rolling of her eyes. "Let's see," the rainbow haired hero stepped forwards. "Who's taking our collar!" Strike took a few quick steps forward before leaping onto the walkway. She turned her head back towards Split who gave a nod and followed Strike's lead up to the warehouse.
Babs Seed adjusted her jacket and wiped her bangs back before folding her arms and cocking a hip. She stared at the rest of the gang. The remaining seven of the little hooligans. Ah back when times were simpler, she thought as memories from their early years swept by her mind's eye. The group stared back in disbelief from the growing silence.
"So..." a large orange colored man began as he stepped forward. "You just left Trish," he asked as he came to a stop in front of the group. "I sent you out on a simple grab mission. You lost everyone and you came back empty handed?!" he snapped with a simmering irritation.
"Bobby," Babs began fearlessly with her eyes locked with his. "It was them or me and I wasn't going to go to Purgatory, heck or even city lock up just because your girlfriend wanted a new stereo," she snapped back with a strong bite, standing her ground. "Man..." she leaned back and pushed some hair back. "Some would-be leader shouldn't be leading anyways..."
"What was that," Bobby asked with a growl as he took a step closer and tilted his head to gaze down upon her with narrowed eyes. "You gotta problem with me because I'm a guy?"
Babs eyed Bobby up and down silently, puffing her lower lip out slightly as if in thought before she shifted her weight to switch which hip was cocked. "Yea, yea I do actually. It's a well known fact that men can't lead all that well." Bobby ground his teeth as his jaw tightened while she shrugged her shoulders. "I mean..." she looked past him to the group. "They're always thinking with their..." Babs trailed off as the man raised an eyebrow, his gaze daring her to try something. "...Muscles," she finished with a smirk as she placed a hand on her out popped hip. Their gazes were locked, his with anger and hers with clear defiance.
The others in the group gulped quietly and backed up as the tension in the air began growing between the pair.
“It really is quite beautiful, isn’t it,” Mistress Mayhem asked abruptly which caused the group of undetermined total members to look up. Within the beamed ceiling of their warehouse rested a shadowed figure which appeared to be a large arachnid.
“What the hell is that,” Bobby questioned gruffly as he squinted into the shadows.
Paying little attention below, Mistress Mayhem stroked the smooth and cool metal with an unsettling smile on her face. “My darling baby will make everything more fun,” she purred with giggles of excitement creeping in at times.
“We don’t have giant bugs now...do we,” a boy asked as he hid behind Babs who scoffed with a jerk of her head, throwing her bangs out of her eyes.
“Of course we don’t you idiot. We have mutants.” Babs took a couple steps forward as her arms folded in front of her chest. “Hey! Freakshow!”
“Hmm?” Mayhem blinked and looked down curiously. “Who wants to interrupt my time with something of absolute beauty?”
Bobby shoved Babs back and pointed to himself with a thumb. “That’d be me, mutant witch.”
“Oh?” her hair adjusted and lowered her out of the shadows. Her wild eyes scanned the man over as she folded her arms and took hold of her chin. “Hmm well you do look like you could be fun...maybe. Do you think you’ll last longer than my other toys?”
Bobby reached into his pocket and drew a handgun. “I ain’t no freaks toy, let alone some object to a filthy hoe. Now,” he cocked the weapon before the metal device was aimed at her. “Get a little lower and show me some respect or get the hell outta ‘ere.” Mistress Mayhem looked at the weapon silent and began to giggle. This giggling grew into loud and eerie laughter. “Somethin’ funny to ya or you swallow a tickle me toy on your free time?”
Mayhem held the bomb closer as slowly her laughter began to subside. “You’re funnier than those two cops and miss tincan,” she commented and handed the bomb off to one thick lock of hair to hold. “I’m going to see how durable you are!”
“Like hell you are!” he opened fire.
The meta-human woman laughed as a thick strand of hair wove back and forth. When it finished with the sounds of clicks from the gun, a second strand shot out and grabbed Bobby by the neck. The man dropped his weapon as his hands began grasping and pulling against the constricting appendage. Mayhem lifted him off his feet and more hair came to secure his waist, arms and legs. A few frightened members cried in unison as this unfolded.
“A good leader is both firm and flexible they say,” she giggled as the hair on his right arm began to tighten and pull, turning his arm with it. He gasped, winced and began to cry out in pain as the appendage twisted farther than it should have. Cracking slowly began to trail the air along with another, moist sound. Sweat slipped down his face as the hair was pulling out on his arm until a painful pop hit the air. Members turned away as others hid their faces in their hands, some held onto one another for comfort or a very few slowly began for the door.
The right arm resumed its twisting as soon a tearing noise joined his strained cries and those of mixed emotions from below. The fabric tore slowly as soon a new tearing joined in the sound. Bobby's cries of pain from his dislocated shoulder warped from the new pain racking his body. He gasped as the few seconds felt like minutes into hours as the appendage at the joint released from his torso as easy as tearing paper. “Ooo! That may leave a mark!” she exclaimed breathlessly and began to repeat this on his left arm but applied more pressure. “Let's see what a big strong man like you is REALLY made of!!” she narrowed her eyes in a maniac appearance which matched her grin, giggling up a storm.
“Stop! I’ll do anything, just stop!” Bobby painfully shouted, peppered with growing tones of pure pain.
“Anything? It's been awhile since a man offered to do anything I wanted!” she smiled thoughtfully as a tendril stroked his cheek. “I tell ya what, tiger...let's see how much of a tough guy you really are,” Mayhem purred before pulling him up into the ceiling rafters with broken giggling as she continued with the torture. A few members of the gang started to inch to the door only to jump back as a set of tendrils shot from the darkness above and blocked their way. “Nobody leaves!” Mayhem shouted down from the shadows.
After a few minutes of screaming, and a bit of blood dripping every now and then from the darkness, Bobby’s body dropped from the ceiling. Hitting what seemed to be every rafter with a sickening thud every time, his disfigured, bloody and lifeless remains began to enter the light. When he finally landed on the ground his empty eyes were locked in wide horror.
“You monster!” one member screamed while they charged with a bat and swung at one of the tentacle hairs holding her up.
“I'm not a monster! I'm an artist!” she gave a quick look of mock offense as she impaled the gang member. Mistress Mayhem tossed the body off and wasted little time dismantling most of them with either impalement, beheading or crushing. By the time she was finished, it looked like a bloody battle zone with only a few survivors all hidden near Babs.
Babs poked her head out from where she’d hidden and looked at the woman who now was hugging her bomb again. Damn she’s crazier than a psycho! But...maybe that could work in our advantage, she thought before stepping slowly out. “Hey, how about we start over ma’am?”
“Oh...a little enterprising thug are we?” Mayhem laughed and leaned back as her tendrils solidified and formed a chair behind her to sit on. Staring down at the few leftovers of the gang.
“Name’s Babs and...let me just say...Boss...” Babs offered a hand, “how can I be of service?” Babs maintained strong eye contact with the killer, ignoring any sounds from the remaining survivors. Her body was still as Mayhem's own shifted into one of pondering. After a minute, Babs cocked a hip as a small smirk slipped on her lips. Come on already, she thought annoyed with a hint of nervousness that she kept out of reflecting in her unbroken gaze. "Well?"
Mayhem was quiet then softly laughed. “You..I like you. You have a promising career in front of you, Babs,” she gleefully exclaimed as a few tentacles shot out and grabbed the survivors. Those snatched up struggled and protested in fear. Another strand came and scooped up Babs as well. “We’re all going to be such good friends! I have it on reasonable authority that there's a certain magic about taking on new friends.” A few gulped as they fell quiet and Mayhem began to ponder as a tendril tapped her chin. “Or was it taking apart new friends?” the meta-human sent a mental signal to her spine and one of the survivors in her grip screamed softly before the tendril choked the life from her body, tore her cleanly in two, and unceremoniously tossed the remains with the rest.
“Nope both seem fun! I'll just have to do both!” Mistress Mayhem started slowly to giggle that turned into a trademark cackle as her newest gang members future seemed unclear to everyone, even to their captor.
Soaring through the night skyline of Equestrian City, both Sunset and Twilight’s choice of propulsion left distinct trails. Sunset’s self projecting flame left a wispy trail of fire whereas Twilight’s jet boots left an air disturbance that contrasted Sunset’s means, as well as being a shy bit more well plotted out.
“You ok over there?” Twilight radioed over the headset link as she turned her head to look around. While she did the illumination from the HUD, which displayed her surroundings as well as everything from the weather to the level of her energy cells, caused her eyes to appear to be glowing.
“Long term flight isn’t a common thing for me,” Sunset responded into the headset Twilight gave her which was equipped with noise cancelation. “Besides, I can’t keep this up indefinitely. Unlike you, I’m tapping into a limited resource when I do this.”
Twilight’s eyes looked left and down to her internal screens. “Trust me, this isn’t as indefinite as I’d like. I’m still on finite power despite all the power usage optimization Spike has running in the background.” She turned her head and her shoulders slightly, dodging a crane and it’s cargo that lay sitting in the night skyline. “That construction site’s on the edge of the No Man’s Land, we’re getting close. We can go lower and land in a bit.”
Tucking and rolling with a graceful landing, Sunset came to a crouched position near an unmanned area of the fencing surrounding her former home. Looking back, she saw Twilight land nearby. An impressive metallic clang echoed as Twilight’s Matterhorn armor took the brunt of her kinetic impact. The landing sent her flying forwards and some of the ground thrown up a puff of dirt and dust. Once she came to a halt, Twilight was clumsy in a three point stance. “Whoa!”
“You need to work on your landings,” Sunset mentioned with a helpful tone as she pulled out the respirator and toggled on it’s battery pack. “Any idea what the precise time it takes for the magic to seep through?”
“Not precisely. By the time anyone knew what was going on with exposure to this area, they were more interested in digging a moat and throwing a wall up than researching it.”
“Before we go in, we need to remember why we’re here. Any questions on what I told you?” Sunset adjusted the strap to her respirator. The entire contraption resembled a mask best used for a fighter pilot than a superhero. This was mainly due to the power cables running to a battery pack on her belt. “Why does it need batteries by the way?”
“Crystals in the filter need an electrical charge to make small force fields in your breathing tubes. It doesn't last entirely too long either, never could figure out why but it seems the magic is so saturated in here that it adapts to the filters.” Twilight turned her head to her friend and looked slightly down, as the armor gave her a few inches clearance on Sunset.
“Based on the different magic that’s in there, I’m not surprised. Dark, regular, illusion, who knows what it’s had time to do while it sat in there all these years.” Sunset stared back across the horizon through the fencing. “It must have been so much worse though, at least it’s dissipating.”
“That's not exactly true,” Twilight remarked while her sensors took what readings she could. “As far as questions, I think I have it right: You came into some shipping mistakes that led you down a long path of invoices and work orders. Ultimately leading you to this place, where you hope to find all the industrial equipment and misappropriated goods,” She quickly recapped. “Though why we don’t just let the police--”
“Because this is bigger than just some shipping mistakes. I told you...all these things, the girl at the chemical plant, the bomb that was just stolen, it all seems to have a common thread: This place.” Sunset sighed and closed her eyes. “I need to figure out who is doing this...why and what they plan to do with all of these things,” she opened her eyes and lept over the fence with a quick backflip, landing and starting a timer on her phone again. “Because nothing I can see being made with these components they’ve stolen turns out good. Let’s go.”
Twilight followed suit and landed a bit more graceful than last time. She straightened up and looked around the dim, red hue of the entire area. “Spike, can we get some light?”
“Coming up,” Spike’s voice pattern responded on her HUD as two hidden square spotlights rose from her shoulders and gave light to a path.
“Very nice.” Twilight smiled while tailing her friend. “Give me a timer on the screen for her and myself, please.”
“All over it,” Spike responded with a small digital dragon popping up on her HUD and setting two timers in the shape of old fashioned pocket watches.
Malcontent watched from the balcony as two metas seemingly walked in unannounced and his gloved hands began slowly clenching in annoyance. “Well that's unexpected,” he said to himself before turning to Aria behind him.
Aria’s smirk went away when she noticed his mood, standing up from her leaning position against the doorframe. “Worried, dearest,” she asked half serious.
“Annoyed.” He turned while he clasped his hands behind him and took in the view again. A more serious tone overtook his face and his eyes turned from glowing purple to a cold blue steel. “Find out who they are...then kill them.”
Aria smiled briefly, nodded and stepped aside as he wandered back in. “At last, some excitement.” Malcontent didn’t respond, walking a bit more hurried to his workbench with his mind focused on a larger black box. Aria shrugged and leapt over the edge of the balcony. As she did her outfit changed instantly and the two soulfires of her sisters generated just as quick.
Twilight and Sunset walked along the broken streets and burnt out cars of the destroyed suburb with the soft whispers of magic as their only companions. Pushing aside broken signs and debris, Twilight gave a grunt as her suit’s servos groaned due to getting stuck on a well embedded sign for a cola product. “Anything,” Sunset asked while leaping over debris and looking back.
“Nothing useful,” Twilight responded while she tossed the sign aside. “Though ‘Total Wasteland’ should consider filming here for all the apocalyptic scrap and metal we have here.” She jumped to the top of a crumbling single story building.
“Not likely. The entire cast and crew would be dead before a single episode would be done,” Sunset retorted while she pulled out and turned on a small flashlight, approached a building and began to check inside the burned out storefront. “Not a fan of the show myself.”
“Me neither. Seems a bit over the top if you ask me.” Twilight pushed aside a chard metal beam and is holding on concrete. “They took a fun concept and turned it into a way too serious show about drama and then added some sex appeal for the younger viewers,” she complained as she turned to shine her spotlight for a new sturdy place to step. “I mean if you’re going to take an existing IP and make some sort of twisted alternate reality out of it, you might as well just make your own idea instead. It’s totally--”
“Hey, found something,” Sunset interrupted and motioned towards the crumbling intersection she was standing in. “These tracks lead into the school parking lot.” Sunset pointed forward, “they must have hauled something in here. The tracks are new.” Twilight’s scanners took this in and as she opened her mouth to answer, “let’s go,” Sunset said quickly as she took the lead in following the trail.
The two moved quickly, only to have Spike pipe up quickly. “Ladies, the magic is getting denser in here. The respirators won’t work as long as they should be under this much pressure,” he pointed out with a chart showing the increasing levels. “The timers might as well be off by now too.” The HUD flickered and they with the charts disappeared from Twilight’s sight.
“Thanks, Spike. We’ll be careful.” Twilight smiled and turned to the broken ruins of the school. “Wow, I forgot how much of a hit it really took. I’m surprised it’s still standing,” she commented and turned, noticing Sunset was silent. Staring at the main doors to the charred remains of the High School, Sunset’s gaze betrayed her usually stoic nature in her hero guise. Sadness and despair crept onto her expression and appeared to be threatening to engulf her entirely. “Hey,” Twilight asked as she put a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “You alright?”
Sunset didn’t move from her position but nodded slowly towards the building. “Yeah. Yeah let’s go,” she said softly with her regular voice seeping through for a moment.
Twilight tilted her head a moment, then pulled Sunset to her chest and hugged her. “LOOK OUT!” she suddenly hollered and moved her armored back to where her friend had just been standing. A massive ear rattling explosion sounded as a wave of energy struck where they were, uprooting the ground and sending them flying in two directions.
Holding her head, Sunset groaned slightly as she stood and checked to her left to look for Twilight. That was a massive sound based blast, she thought to herself, grunting as she dusted herself off. “Tw..er..Matterhorn?” Sunset asked unsure as she corrected herself mid sentence.
“I’m here. For the most part,” Twilight answered as her filtered voice came from the speakers on the side of her helmet. She let out a few similar groans of pain as she tossed several chunks of rubble off her and turned to her friend. “What the heck was that?”
“Massive sonic disruption of some sort, unable to give you a real source,” Spike answered in her ear with his voice transmitting to Sunset’s headset as well. “Give me a minute and I can pinpoint it.” Spike remarked and a series of scans firing from the back of the array built into Twilight’s helmet.
Sunset tightened her goggles to make sure they were secure, her gaze fixed past Twilight and into the air slightly. “Don’t bother. It’s from there,” she said with her lower octave of a voice kicking back in as she pointed behind her friend.
“Huh,” Twilight asked while turning and instantly prepping her front gauntlets with a snapping of her palms to an open position. “Whoa nelly!”
Standing, or rather floating several feet above the ground, was Aria Blaze with her arms crossed in a defiant stance as she glared down at them. Her hair was flowing with the unnatural winds of the No Man’s Land. She was dressed in the battle garb Malcontent had decree she wear: A full bodysuit made of the same latex like material she’d given Mistress Mayhem as protection but outfitted with an additional waist cape of the same material. She’d had some say over the outfit after some...negotiations. The top was a cleaner cut and less form fitting. It left the long sleeves off and gave it an almost casual top look, the V-neck revealing the gem embedded in her chest and her bare arms displaying the three buckled, leather straps on her forearms. Circling her in a slow methodical pattern were the two souls of her sister sirens, Sonata giggling loudly in her usual carefree manner with Adagio being more haunting in her sounds.
“Well, what a lovely surprise,” Aria said finally while looking down her nose at the two invaders. “Two heroes come to die. That is if their guilty consciences don’t kill them first,” she laughed and dropped her arms to her side, balling her fists as white ribbons of energy manifested in them with her gem glowing in tune with the power. “I’m supposed to find out who you are before I kill you...hurry up and tell me so we can get on with this!”
“I am the Masked Matterhorn!” Twilight struck a pose that seemed two parts hammy and one part cliche. “No...no that doesn't sound good at all. Call me Matterhorn!” she nodded to herself and then to Aria with emitters in her palm primed and ready.
“Never heard of ya,” Aria said and turned her head towards Sunset. “And you?” she blinked, “what?” the siren looked around and growled with her shoulders tensing. “Oh nevermind! GET’EM!” Aria threw her hands forward, aiming at Twilight as a series of energy ribbons shot out along with her sister’s souls.
“Incoming!” Spike shouted just as Twilight’s boosters fired and moved her out of the impact site. The blast hit the ground and sent a concussion wave upward which sent the mecha suited hero flying in a random direction. The two soul balls tracked and corrected their course as they pursued Twilight with one part glee and the other part begrudging obedience. “Twilight they’re coming after us!” Spike shouted in her ear piece, making her wince. “Attempting to outmaneuver!” the boot’s booster ports fired hotter and tried to outpace the magic missiles. Each time they corrected, the souls did just the same and gained speed.
Before Aria could try and find the missing hero, a series of rather small but quick fireballs fired from behind her. She moved barely in time, the fire singeing her cape tails before the material fluttered as she whipped around and threw a series of magic energy reflexively.
Sunset had moved and the shots from Aria hit nothing but rubble, kicking up a storm of dust as they impacted. Moving silently but quickly Sunset scaled the side of a pile of rubble, gaining enough momentum and threw herself towards Aria. Noticing she would come up short, she manifested her fire in her hands and unleashed it, boosting herself faster and harder as she torpedoed the siren in the gut, sending them both to the ground.
“Oof!” Aria grunted and sent her elbow into Sunset’s back several times, as well as taking her own several strikes to the face and body, as they scrambled to gain the upper hand in close quarters combat. Neither won the scuffle as a combination of fire and raw magical energy blew them apart to a standstill, each staring the other down. “You’re not like the normal ones I kill,” she smiled and flared her hands open, drawing energy from her gem. “You might actually be exciting.”
Sunset didn’t bother to respond as she analyzed her foe’s powers or for any apparent weaknesses. She smirked and pulled out a small vial from the inside of her jacket pockets. Throwing it in front of her and adding a fireball to the household chemicals resulted in a massive smoke screen, giving her some needed cover. “Cute,” Aria frowned and threw forward a series of raw magic attacks. This caused the tendrils on her gem to start straining in their position as she sacrificed more of herself to create her blasts. “It’s a shame I’ll have to--”
Sunset connected with a massive roundhouse to the siren’s lumbar region, sending the villian off balance momentarily as she spun to try and throw a counter attack. Aria’s eyes began to glow the same purple her gem did and was able to anticipate the next set of melee shots, blocking two punches and grabbing a mid kick. She threw Sunset to the side and into another pile of rubble. “Please, I’ve been doing this for a while.” Aria laughed and poised her hands to throw more energy.
Sunset rolled with her landing and came to a crouched position to face her foe. In the same moment she pulled another vial from her jacket and threw it straight at Aria’s wrist, hitting it square on target with a fireball striking just as quickly. The mixture of the two powders inside made a adhesive that bonded to Aria’s other hand when she reflexively grabbed at the pain her wrist gave. Effectively cutting off her foe’s ability to cast magic, Sunset stood up and smirked. “Could’ve fooled me.”
Aria struggled with her bound hands and growled in frustration. “Never did tell me your name!” she shouted back as Sunset closed the distance between them at a brisk pace.
“I’m more interested in what you’re doing out here. Once I get you to the ECPD you’ll sing like a bird,” Sunset responded gruffly, reaching in her jacket for another device and began to pull out a pair of restraining cuffs. Before she could finish bringing them out however, Aria let loose a high pitched scream which the visible sound waves it generated blew the hero back and to the ground. The cuffs went flying further than Sunset did and they seemingly disintegrated from the sonic scream. Sunset stayed down in a crouched position, the wind knocked out of her and her clothing still fluttering from the siren’s newly displayed power.
“I have been known to sing from time to time,” Aria grinned while levitating up as a discharge of magic from her gem broke her bonds on her wrist.
Sunset grunted and tried to stand, her eyes opening to stare at her attacker. It took her less then a second to realise her goggles had been literally shattered into a thousand small pieces from Aria’s sonic scream. Grr I don't have time for this! Sunset thought frustrated and tried to adjust her footing to stay up. At least the respirator doesn't appear broken but it only allows us so much time to get out of here.
“Well, now this is a surprise.” Aria laughed with a surprised look on her face. “It’s the little scared girl running from her consequences. Hello…” she gave a wider grin. “Sunset Shimmer.”
End of Episode