A Cog in the Machine

by ManlyDerp

Chapter 8: To Be Heard, Dawn of the Final Day

Chapter 8, To be Heard, Dawn of the Final Day

For those who it may concern… I ask you…

… What shapes a person?

His actions?

Her past?

His luck?

Her gifts?

What makes you… you?

What makes me, me?

Man… Woman… Boy… Girl… I care not. Becoming a girl didn’t change me, if anything it made me stronger.

Becoming a dragon didn’t change me, if anything it made my tougher.

Becoming a child again didn’t change me, if anything it has allowed me to enjoy this world to its fullest.

… This world of which I was gifted to roam, as well as cursed.

… Why am I here?

What was it about me that made me… special?

Was I good in another life? Bad?

Was I destined to change this world… or ruin it?

Was I a fallen angel or a redeemed demon?

What have I done to deserve this twisted fairy tale? What have I done to earn such love, only for it to be taken away so harshly? To make friends only to lose them? To be gifted with a ‘hoard’ worth fighting for, yet given a life long enough to watch it wither away?

Man and Girl.

Adult and Child.

Human and Dragon.

I am Nathan and Cogwill. My entire being has become a duality of many things. I am strong yet weak all at the same time.

And this hell hole is just as much my world now as it is for everyone else.

“… As it was for you; Mrs. Blue Night, Mr. Crimson Red.”

With my thoughts fulfilled, I released a single cyan blue feather (all that remained of the late Mrs. Blue) and watched it fly away over the railing on a gentle sea breeze. At least it was night time; this meant that Blue was able to perform her special talent one last time, both in her final hour and in spirit. If nothing else, this at least gave me some closure… well as much as I’m going to get this horrible night, that is.

... Now for Mr. Red.

As soon as the feather was out of sight and I was sure the sea serpents weren’t looking, I fired off a series of fireballs directly into the air, reminiscent of a three-volley salute. I did this in remembrance of the pyromaniac whose ‘brave and courageous’ side I was not fortunate enough to see... not like Nate did, at least.

It was with red, tear stained eyes that my avian friend threw his own fire-related trinket into the sea, a simple broken zippo lighter which had somehow been gifted with one last green flame. It was marked with Red’s cutie mark and its overall meaning was lost on me... yet I could see in Nate’s eyes that tossing it meant the world to him.

Mr. Red… I’m so sorry I didn’t get to know you like Nate got to know you…

After we offered up a prayer to our respective gods, Nate and I returned to our search for the illusive coast guard’s magic sending seal, as well as our search for any pony strong enough to resist ‘The Music’.

There was no time left to mourn.

No time left to be scared.

And no time left for me to be a child.

I finished my final act of childishness when I performed the dark task of making sure Red and Blue’s bodies were safe. Dragging them both inside the ship wasn’t childish, and neither was closing their eyes and covering them both in a blanket…

… But giving them both one final hug goodbye through the blankets with free flowing tears unquestionably was.

… Sadly, there’s no time left to cry.

No time left to run away either. Even if there was, I wouldn’t dare to take the easy way out… because all of this was my fault.

In my foolishness I’ve altered history, and the end result dragged almost a thousand ponies, a young griffon, and an element of harmony into a potential massacre.

It’s my duty to fix this. I got my friends into this mess…

And I intend to get them out of it.


There’s no time to beat around the bush this night. Long story short, we found the seal and made quick work of writing up the S.O.S. message… but some work needed to be done first before I could send it. To begin, I needed to figure out our new coordinates on the ocean map.

That only took, like, an hour.

After that a half hour was dedicated to reading through protocols. Didn’t want the guards to think that our cry for help was a prank, after all.

The other detriment was that, well, I wasn’t used to writing with claws. Missing a finger is quite a pain!

One final problem was that Nate told me that he never heard of seaponies before. I know I saw a little filly dressed as one in Manehatten, but that could just mean that it’s some kind of pony only mythological creature that griffons aren’t aware of. Either way, I had to rewrite the entire message at least once in order to erase all mentioning of them. Don’t want anypony thinking we’re crazy…

Once that was all sorted though, I was able to write up the actual meat of the message. It requested immediate aid, listed how Captain Grey had become incapacitated, reported how we were heading north now instead of our original course of east, contained a warning/cry for help to the inbound Princess Luna (I don’t want to drag anypony else into this hell… but Luna’s help would be appreciated), included the names of the serpents’ kills (with requested honors), and I finished it by signing my name as ‘Temporary Captain Cogwill the Dragon, age 11’.

I was hoping that that last bit would highlight how boned we actually are. The whole report took several hours to research, draft, and finalize…

… But it was only after I did all that hard work that we discovered that there was a little snag in our plan…

“Damn it!” I roared. “Why can’t I send this stupid thing?!”

Gripping the scroll in my claw, I burned it once more and turned it into purple smoke. After a full three seconds it rematerialized and dropped at my feet.

Looks like twentieth time is not the charm.


I kicked the stupid thing, bouncing it off the captain’s wheel and sending it rebounding towards my face. Of course, as is the norm of this universe, it hit me squarely in the eye. Mother fu-

“C-c-cog, please calm down…”

I turned to look at Nate… and let up on my anger when I saw that he was cowering in one of the bridge’s corners, holding his head in his claws in a bid to rid himself of the ever growing music. I fear that it will take him eventually…

… Leaving me all alone.

While I was completing this scroll, Nate bravely did a complete search of the ship and discovered we’re the only two left that’s not being controlled… outside of my ‘daddy’ downstairs, that is. I haven’t gone down there yet to request his aid, and truthfully I don’t know how much I could trust his ‘aid’, but I know I’ll have to eventually. I’m quickly running out of options here...

Priority number one was to send off this stupid emergency scroll but whatever power the seaponies have to control the ponies and steer the ship seems to also block magic scroll sending. They must possess magic as well… or it could be the power of their ‘pet’ sea serpents... I just don’t know!

Ugh! The amount of crap I don’t know is starting to piss me off…

Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to be angry at a time like this. I need a clear head if we’re going to make it out of here alive, and Nate knows this just as well as I do. The only thing my angry yelling accomplishes is to make Nate scared for the future he may or may not have.

I hardened my emotions as I tried to reassure Nate; I’m just as afraid as he is but as I said, I no longer have time to give in to my fear.

I… I have to be brave for him, and I have to start acting like the adult I actually am.

“We’re going to be okay, Nate… I promise you.”

“B-b-but the scrolls not working.” Nate replied, his voice wobbly and his eyes close to tears. “W-who’s going to save us?”

Looking past his glasses, I stared directly into Nate's bright blue eyes. The resemblance to my brother Ben was unmistakable now, both in terms of form and actions. My mind briefly returned to happier days, where little Ben would be shaking and crying his own blue eyes out in the corner of the basement whenever a bad storm raged outside. He would be joined by Sam, who would share in his fright, and Caleb, who would be scared as well, but would try to hide it. I’d be standing over them, assuring them it would be okay and that they had nothing to fear.

Despite the change in relationship, species, and dimensions: this time was no different.

Gripping his shoulders with my claws (forcing him to look at me) I got down on my knee and told him that “I will, Nate. I will. I swear this on my long draconic life, on the flames that burn within me, and on my very soul... you’ll get out of this safe and sound.” I tried to lighten the mood by smiling weakly. “We’ll just add this to the earlier promise. C-cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye…”

Nate remained silent until something occurred to him.

“… Y-you… you didn’t include yourself in that vow, Cog.”



“… You’ll be okay. I promise. Sigh. Nate... follow me. I’m going to need you to stand watch while I have a little chat with my ‘father’.”

“… Okay.”

Reluctantly, he agreed and we exited the bridge. The wheel kept spinning and turning of its own accord as the door closed behind us.



Nothing… but silence.

As we walked slowly through the halls of the S.S. Luna Returner, a feeling of pure dread gripped my heart.

Where once there was chatter, there was silence.

Where children ran and laughed and squealed with joy at seeing the sea, there was an unsettling hush.

The hiss of the kitchens and the aroma of cooking in the air were both gone.

The ballrooms were twice as empty, still having been left clean from after dinner.

Water dripped from the ‘Crow’s Nest’ as well. With no ponies left to maintain it, the clouds were starting to leak.

And the staff rooms full of happy smiles and lighthearted laughter; where Nate and I slept, ate, and felt at home…

… Empty.

It didn’t dawn on me until this moment… but we were truly on our own here.

It… it was like I was back in the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 all over again.




The ever looming feeling that something outside these walls was about hurt you without a moment’s notice...

And… that soul crushing feeling of being completely alone.

All these feelings I associated with that demon machine, and now with this Ghost Ship.


… But at least this time I have somegriffon to share my anxiety with.

Nate limped alongside me while I helped him along. One of his claws was firmly glued to his head, as if keeping it there would lessen the screeching of the seaponies’ song.

All the ponies were gone now. They had left their rooms, in a herd, just so they could stand outside along the edge of the northern deck. I guess ‘The Music’ is stronger there or something. I wouldn’t know... I thankfully still couldn’t hear it.

Also thankfully, the pegasi had enough sense left in them to not fly the expanse and the unicorns haven’t tried to ‘wink’ the distance either. Their horns still glowed and their wings still flapped, yet neither of them took advantage of it. Earth ponies would simply stand around along the edge of the railing, appearing to not be all that affected, but if you tried to move them… well… then you get bucked in the head by Diamond Tiara.

Hey, don’t judge me! Shes small and I was worried she’d slip through the protective railing! Big brother/big sister instincts took over, okay?!

Speaking of cameos; during Nate’s search I was half praying for freaking Gustave le Grand, of all griffons, to magically show up, just so there would be one more person by our side. Griffons seem resistant to it, at least...

Alas, there’s no one else on this ship capable of fighting off the music. Nomules, nosheep, nobovine, nobull, nobuffalo…

But… not nodragon.



My toes hit the cold surface of the ship’s ‘basement’ as I finished my descent from the staircase. By the sounds of snoring echoing throughout the room, it was easy to figure out that ‘Mr. Dragon’ was sleeping. He’s probably unaware of what’s going on around him right now.

... Sigh. I wish for some rest myself, but I know that’s not going to happen any time soon. Even if I did get some, I fear I would have nightmares…

Seeing Emeraldgrey smiling while he slept caused something inside of me to finally snap. No one deserves to be happy right now. No one. That smile is seriously starting to tick me off... looks like I have a decent sized target for all this pent up stress now. Thank goodness Nate can’t hear me through these giant walls…

“WAKE UP YOU LOUSY SACK OF CRAP!” I bellowed, not caring what the response would be. I have no time to be afraid anymore. I need him up and that’s that.

… But Emeraldgrey kept on sleeping.

Damn it, I don’t have time for this either. Eyeing up his gem piles, the solution became clear.

I yanked out one of his rubies, a nice big one (I haven’t eaten in a while, after all), and bit into it with my tiny fangs.


That woke him up.

The room quaked with the force of his voice. “WHO DARES TO TAKE WHAT IS MINE?!

I yelled right back at him. “YOU’RE DAMN DAUGHTER, THAT’S WHO!”

He jerked his head down as I threw the remains of the gem back into the pile. Losing Vinyl, and later Blue and Red, made me understand the pain a dragon goes through when their hoard is messed with. I will never be able to imagine feeling the same pain I felt for Blue over an inanimate object, but I’ll still respect my 'father's' hoard by not damaging it any further than this.

Emeraldgrey did not look happy about his rude awakening. “What is it, Cogwill the Free? Why have you disturbed the best slumber I have had since I was taken from my lair?”

I scoffed at this. “Cogwill the Free? What, is that my ‘dragon title’ for being a traveler instead of a cave dweller like yourself?”

He narrowed his eyes. “You have quite the tongue on you today, whelp… and your hoard seems a tad smaller as well… you have suffered a loss, yes?”

I narrowed my eyes in return. “That is correct. The ship is under attack…” At this point I realized that I needed to start trying to win this guy over before I tell him the threat. Using titles as well should work. “We are in danger, father Emeraldgrey… of the Everfree.”

At my statement, Emerald drew his head backwards. He closed his eyes briefly in deep meditation before opening them again.

I could tell that he was starting get the hint that something was up. He scratched his chin. “… It is the dead of night, and the captain has not yet sent someone to feed me… nor has he used his machine to take my fire. The captain… is indisposed?”

I nodded. “Yes. I am the current acting captain of this ship.” Thinking about it, I decided to add “Captain Grey isn’t dead, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Emerald stopped scratching his chin at this. “Not dead, yet indisposed? Then… this is not the work of our fellow draconics, the sea serpents. The flames within their hearts burns with as much blood thirst as ours, and they never leave a target alive. They also take sick pleasure in feasting on captains and those who dare to sail their seas, so to leave Grey alive… that must mean…”

He once again lowered his head and turned it so that only one of his eyes was focused on me. “Seaponies…” he hissed. “They are singing their demonic hymn, correct? We are the only ones left in the world of the waking, are we not?”

I nodded again. I’ll avoid mentioning Nate for now. “You have a good grasp on the situation, Emeraldgrey of the Everfree.”

“That I do, ‘Captain’ Cogwill the Free. Sea serpents surround us as well, obeying the word of their gods, yes?”

Having no time to gush over the captain title, I nodded a third time. “Yes. Why is this happening? Do you know?”

A low rumble emanated from Emerald's throat as he let out an even lower growl. “I know all too well, my daughter, for our kind has shared the stories of the eternal Queen of the watery damned, Ambrosine, for generations. According to legend; she and her spawn want nothing more than to drown this world in an eternal ocean, returning it to the state it once was when her kind ruled. Luckily for the creatures of the land, she has always lacked the power to complete her selfish task.”

I scratched the top of my head with a claw. Not even five minutes in and I already have a lot to think about... First of all, I finally have a name for Blue and Red’s murderer: Queen Ambrosine of the Seaponies. She wishes for an eternal ocean? Sounds like something a crazed fish lady would want. Great, so this is bigger than just targeting one ship. With the whole world in danger, hopefully somepony will notice us.

… Wait? Eternal Queen? So she’s like Celestia then, like a god. That raises a question…

“How can a Queen lack power, father?” I asked. “Is she not like Celestia, or Chrysalis, or any of the other goddesses that roam this planet?”

The big guy looked impressed. “Hmmmm… you are well read, my daughter. Not many hatchlings of your age would know the name of the Queen of the Changelings.”

I looked away. “I… er, h-had a run in with them several weeks back. I… murdered one known as Legion.”

“An excellent first kill then. My compliments.” The giant praised.

“… Thanks.” I replied quite grumpily. That was not something I’ll ever be proud of.

… I pray I won’t have to do it again today. “Enough about me. What is it that the seaponies lack, father?”

Emerald replied with “What they lack, spawn of Crackle, is a true goddess. Ambrosine thinks of herself as the first of all beings, that she is the true ruler or all… yet she does not rule her seaponies as she does control them. The last our kind heard of her was centuries ago, back when her race was a dying one; dying because of her own foolishness... Not much is known about the Queen except that she is not all powerful. She is not like the sun controlling Celestia or the motherly Chrysalis…”

I did my best to avoid breaking out the ‘really?’ look out of storage… but come on; motherly?


Emerald went on. “… Or like the Draconic Goddess Lyssa, who watches over all dragons, sea serpents, and landwyrms alike from the pit of Abaddom in Tartarus.”

My eyes widened at this. Okay… that right there was three words I didn’t want name dropped right now, especially together! The goddess of madness is watching over me from her pit of destruction in the pony version of hell?!

That’s… admittedly pretty hardcore. I’ll have to remember to tell Vinyl about this sometime in the hopefully foreseeable future.

But still… what the hell is wrong with Equestria?!

Emeraldgrey didn’t notice my shocked stupor as he finished his tale. “… Their Queen must take magic from others in order to keep herself alive. As long as she lives, so too does her seaponies. That is all our kind knows about this ancient race, the rest having been lost to an antiquity older then ourselves.”

“So…” I said, still trying to unravel the mystery about how my simply being here caused history to go so far off a tangent. “They’re trying to attack us because of the large number of ponies onboard?”

My ‘father’ shook his head. “No… the seaponies are not dumb nor are they hunters. In the final years of their supposed life they were said to only target smaller, weaker boats that wandered aimlessly into their realm. To strike such a large ship, one that even bares the ancient princess of the moon’s names...” The adult dragon suddenly displayed a large grin. “Then there must be an extraordinary source of magic onboard; enough to overthrow the legendary alicorns, I’d wager…”

With that he stood up as tall as he could within his ‘cage’ and raised his arms up into the air. “This is the start of glorious war, whelp! We should be honored to be part of such grand history in the making! Oh, I have not experienced such bloodshed in over a century! Praise Lyssa!” Lowering his head to my level, he gave me a toothy smirk. “My flames burn in anticipation, doesn’t yours?”

But I ignored his invitation to be merry with him. I was too busy racking my brain, trying to figure out how my actions here knocked history so far outta whack.

If I wasn’t here, then this ship would have made it across without a hitch. My being here did… what? He said extraordinary magic attracts them… but I don’t have any magic that I know of outside of my twin flames. Even if it was just me, this ship already had a good number of unicorns onboard, including an element of harmony! By that logic, it was already overflowing with magic before my arrival, so what’s different?

… Maybe the Flim Flam brothers? Two additional unicorns, plus a griffon that has an obviously magic birthmark (its glowing like all the other cutie marks right now), and lastly myself might have been just enough to tip the scales and make this place a tempting target? Hmmm, there’s still more holes in my theory then a changeling's forearm, and it’s still only a theory based off of what little I actually know about magic… but it’ll have to do for now.

Returning my attention to my ‘father’, I scowled at him and told him exactly what I thought about this upcoming war.

“No.” I stated plainly. “No I am not looking forward to what’s to come. My… ‘hoard’ is in danger. Our hoards are in danger! How can you see any good in losing a piece of yourself?!”

Emeraldgrey reared his head back in disgust. Growling a bit to himself, he shared what he thought was so repulsive with me.

“Bleh. Just what I should have expected from a woman. You’re kind is always so concerned in what you have now that you fail to think ahead. From war come’s riches, do you not understand that? Our hoards will only grow in this conflict as we rend and slaughter across the land!”

His giant claw was offered to me in a show of kinship. “Stay by my side, my daughter. I will teach you how to become a proper dragon in ways Lady Crackle never could. Allow me to become the first, and mightiest, father in dragon history.”

Rearing back myself, I bared my fangs as I shot down his attempt at forming a hollow relationship with me. “Sorry, but I’m not interested in becoming a mindless beast, 'daddy'.” It was only after I said that that I realized the more important thing to get mad over: the sexist comment. “Wait, no! You’re the one who doesn’t think ahead, dumbass! How are you going to teach me how to be a ‘proper’ dragon if we’re both going to die here?”

The dragon’s eyes narrowed as steam left his nostrils. The force threatened to knock me off my feet as I quickly folded my wings in. I held my ground until Emerald’s eyes suddenly widened as a realization struck him.

“… By Lyssa’s eternal flame of greed and knowledge; we are still upon the sea, aren’t we?” He asked in shock.

I stomped a foot, allowing my clawed toes to make an echo. “Yes!”

“We… are miles away from land.”

I stomped it again. “Yes!”

“I… lack the strength to fly aimlessly for such a great distance.”

I banged my foot against the ground in rapid succession mockingly. “Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a bucking winner! My God… or Lyssa, or whatever; for being centuries old you’re sure not that bright, old man.”

Emerald shot me one final angry look before sighing and bowing his head in defeat.

“Yes… yes I understand my error now whe-… Cogwill.” He quickly corrected. I must have earned his respect by not being stupid like him.

“My own flame of greed got the better of me” he admitted “but now I can think clearly, and now I can see that this will certainly be our final resting place. I am… truly sorry that you will not experience the joys of being fully grown, my daughter.”

... No.


No; I am not having any of that horsecrap/dragondung today, especially from a freaking giant!

I stomped my foot one final time. “Oh don’t you dare quit on me now you bastard! What the hell happened to all that talk about bloodshed and rending?! I… I know I’m going to need to do some unsavory things in order to protect my own ‘hoard’ this day.”

I looked down at my feet as I contemplated what I just admitted to, but then I clenched my fist in determination as I continued.

There’s no time left to be weak.

I pointed a clawed thumb at myself. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not going out without a fight! One unicorn’s fireball was enough to kill a fully grown serpent and if even little old me can produce something bigger then that, then what’s stopping you from fighting back?!”

The ancient being turned his head away in shame, unable to face me. “I… must protect my hoard.”

Steam left my nostrils in my growing anger. “You can protect it better if you fight!

“Their… numbers are too great.” He added weakly.

“I haven’t even told you how many there are yet!” I yelled, reaching my boiling point.

He turned his head once more away from me. Bringing his attention to one of his hoard piles, he allowed a clawfull of riches to fall from his grasp. He did this while exhaling sorrowfully; the action did not seem as pleasing to him as it had been when I met him two days ago.

“I must… remain here in hiding with my hoard.” He concluded, as if the conversation was over.

Finally having enough, I flew up and landed on his muzzle hard. Imitating the actions of another young lady who stood up to a dragon for her friends, I looked him in the eye and gave him the ‘stare’.

May Fluttershy grant me strength.

My words were harsh and lased with venom as my stare intensive. “…You coward. You stupid, freaking, coward. They’re undoubtedly going to sink the ship when they're done with it... you know that just as well as I do. You have nowhere to hide, so stop being a quitter and fight alongside me! Come on, ‘dad’, my real father had more balls then you and he was a monkey!

Emerald’s eyes were sad and his voice weak as whatever fear and presence he once held over me disappeared, leaving behind the wretched little thing that now wilted under my gaze.

The beaten monster sighed. “… You remind me so much of myself at your age; burning with the passion of youth and desiring greater and greater game… but those days are behind me, Cogwill. I know when the odds are against me. In the words of the ponies, I am afraid I must ‘throw in the towel’. As Lyssa is our witness; we will die here, spawn of Crackle, and there is no denying that. Leave me be… as the broken drake you see before you.”

I gripped down harder on his muzzle as he tried to shake me off. “Coward! You @#$%ing coward! Stand and fight damn itSTAND AND FI-”

It was then that I finally lost my grip and was sent flying away. Correcting myself in midair, I gave Emeraldgrey one last look of irate disappointment before fluttering back up the stairs.


My tears of anger were blinding as I slammed the door shut behind me. “Damn it all!”

“C-cog?” Asked Nate fearfully.

I pounded the door with a claw. “That bastard… that stupid, cowardly, bastard!!

Nate shrank away at my outburst. Damn it… just, -sniff-, d-damn it.

Finally relenting, I tried to dry my tears and remain looking strong for Nate, even if it was becoming increasingly harder with each passing second. “… I’m sorry Nate, but we’re on our own. Heh, I guess my father isn’t anywhere near as cool as yours.”

“W-what… what do we do now?” My friend asked.

“…” I remained silent as I digested the information I had gathered.

Emerald didn’t provide me with his aid, but he did provide me with some answers. My assumption that the song originated from seaponies was correct, and it sounds like there’s an army coming up that we’re going to have to deal with. My even earlier assumption that seaponies were evil creatures like the changelings was also correct. Looks like I’m on a roll today, but not in a good way. I still don’t know what they're looking for… information is power and I need more information, but where else can I get some? There were no other nonponies on this stupid flank ship besides myself, the cowardly Emeraldgrey, and Nathan De La Griffon…

My face answered Nate’s question as it dropped when I realized that I had no clue what to do now. This sucked the last light of hope out of my feathery friend and forced him to the ground in defeat.

Nate allowed his tears to dampen his glasses. “H-how… how..." -Sniff- "C-can this be happening?”

I wrapped Nate in a side hug as I took up a spot next to him on the floor. “I… don’t know, Nate. I just don’t know what…" -Sigh-

... I couldn’t bring myself to finish my joke. There was no time left to laugh…

None at all…

“… Five days.” Nate suddenly remarked somberly.

“… What?”

He turned to look at me. His face was neutral and devoid of emotions. “Five… or more like four days ago, we sat on a cloud and watched the sunrise just like this. Four days… that’s all it took to change my life forever.” He sighed. “A week ago, I was trying to finish homework while drying my feathers off from a bully’s swirly. Not only couldn’t I solve my math problems, but I couldn’t solve my bully problems either. I thought my life was going to stay like that forever… but three days later I was running and gliding off rooftops, dodging slaver ponies, spraining a wing, sneaking on a ship, playing waiter for a bunch of rich ponies, m-mourning... -Sniff-, a-another loved one’s death, and now… this.

Nate returned to his staring contest with the floor as his quiet weeping picked up again.

Wiping off one of his tears for him, I told Nate that “… You forgot a couple things, champ.”

“… What?” he asked, not looking up.

I gripped him tightly. “You forgot to mention becoming a hero, becoming brave, and becoming my friend. Even if our whole world crumbles away, please promise me that you’ll remember that you were my hero, Nate… I know I’ll never forget. Never.


“… Please? P-please tell me that I didn’t completely ruin your life, Nate…”

“N-no you didn’t ruin…” Nate started to say but he slowly went silent again.

After a few moments in deep though, Nate closed his eyes and nodded slowly in agreement.

“Okay, Cog. I’ll remember… I’ll remember how these have, despite all the ups and downs, been the best days of my life. Four days filled with terror, four days full of fear… but four days where I wasn’t bullied, wasn’t completely afraid, and wasn’t… alone.”

He removed his glasses so he could wipe away his latest tears, causing the feathers he kept on the side of his head to fall to the floor.

Nate looked at the purple items with a sad smile. “… I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

Turning to look at me, he gave me not the smile of kid, but the smile of a man who had resigned himself to his own death. “No, you didn’t ruin my life, Cog... you improved it. I… I can be happy now knowing that my final day was spent with my best friend.”


… Somehow…

Somehow you always know the right thing to say to me.

A fire began to burn within my chest. Not the flame I breathed and not the flame of greed, but a much more powerful blaze: the flame of resolve. My grasp on my young friend tightened as the fire grew within me.

My fist clenched and shook as I spoke. “This… this will not be our final day, Nate. I promised you this, and I intend to keep my promises. We can’t give up yet, we just can’t.

“… B-but… but what can a couple of kids like us do, Cog?” Nate asked uncertainly.

… Kids?


Kids! That's it!

I gripped Nate in a strong squeeze and smooched him on the forehead. Oops, did I just break this kid’s brain? You know what, I don’t care! We have hope now! “Nate! You beautiful hunk of a griffon you! That’s it! Follow me!”

Turning bright red, Nate stuttered a quick ‘w-what?’ as I flapped my wings and flew away.


While almost knocking the door down, I exited the ship and out on to the western deck. I’m sure there’s a proper nautical term (like port, or something) for it but I don’t give a fudge right now. The choppy sea awaited me along with the darkness of night. On the eastern part (starboard, I think) of the ship the sun was rising in what I could consider a fitting metaphor.

“With the sun to our backs…” I mumbled to myself.

Nate quickly came up behind me, panting and still blushing madly.

“C-cog! -Huff-, W-why are we here?”

I paid Nate little to no mind as I scanned the edge of the ship. Ponies were pushing up even closer to the railing bars now, making me very nervous that the children might accidentally fall overboard. Heh, if you had told me a month ago that I would be scared for Diamond Tiara’s life, I’d call you a liar. Even in what little I was able to catch of season three before I left, she was still kind of a bitch…

Anyways, Nate seems to still be able to fight the music but I could tell from his gradual slips into humming that it’s becoming harder for him to fight it the closer we get to wherever the hell those monsters are. Being out here isn’t helping him much but I’m afraid I’m going to need him for what I have planned.

Looking over the sea, I finally spotted my small and speedy targets.

The sea serpents' children… here’s where I’ll get some answers. A small group of them were swimming together a ways away from the ship as the adults and teen serpents continued to swim in the north and south, hopefully out of seeing distance.

“Nate…” I began.

“Y-yes Cog?”

“Quickly run to the southern deck and get some kind of weapon and maybe a net from the pool area.” I gave him a cheeky smile as I fluttered my wings slightly. “I hope you’re in the mood for seafood, my friend, because we’re about to go fishing.

With that (totally lame) riposte I took to the air. I flapped my wings until I reached the third story deck platform, and then up again until I landed on the roof of the bridge. This is the highest point of the ship, so it should hopefully be high enough for what I need to do.

My normal fireballs aren’t strong enough to reach that far out, so I’m going to need to launch the ‘Revenge’ if I want to get these kids' attention. If they're anywhere near as hostile as their parents, this should cause them to head our way. My only concern would be alerting the two elder groups, but hopefully this shouldn’t be a problem due to the distance between all four groups.

This wasn’t the only reason why I flew up here and left Nate down below. I flew up here because I’m deathly afraid of what I’m about to do.

Please understand this; I’m quite prepared to fire off a mini-sun at the offspring of the monsters that killed my friends. Attacking these hell spawns isn’t what’s scaring me. No… what I’m afraid of is the requirements asked of me for firing ‘Revenge’ properly.

You see, ‘Revenge’s’ recoil is a mother loving bitch. I said I would abuse the hell out of it, but in a sensitive situation like this I need to think rationally. If I fire ‘Revenge’ now; it’ll either send me flying all the way out to sea and leave Nate vulnerable, or simply cause me to hit something and black out, again leaving Nate vulnerable. I can’t leave that kid alone here. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did!

Getting back on subject; if I want to use ‘Revenge’ as my ace in the hole, then I need to prepare myself better for when I launch it. The one good thing that came out of last night’s bloodbath was that now I have the knowledge of what I need to do to fire this baby off properly…

… Too bad it’s not the nicest option I have.


... -Sigh-

Okay... so to fire off ‘Revenge’ correctly, I need a longer muzzle for the flames to grow in and sharper claws so that I can better anchor myself to the ground. Both these can be obtained easily through the use of… -gulp-, greed growth.

Yes, I flew all the way up here so I could have a little ‘chat’ with my greed flame. As horrible and foul as that damn thing is, I need all the strength I can get if I’m going to protect everpony like I said I would. If that means I must turn into something I’m not… well, so be it.

I figure there’s no time to worry about becoming a monster when even nastier monsters are on the way.

Quickly stretching out all of my limps and sitting down bowlegged, I allowed my tail to swish around and for my wings to lightly flutter in place as I tried to calm my nerves. I need to focus on the goal of staying sane and concentrate on keeping my mind sharp if I want this crazy plan of mine to work.

-Gulp- "Well, here goes… something.”

With that I closed my eyes…

… And thought about Mrs. Blue.

I remembered… her smelling of flowers. Bluebells, if I’m not mistaken.

I remembered her warm, motherly smile.

The warmth of her feathery wings.

Her words of encouragement.

Her talk of friendship.

Her love…

I remembered everything that made Mrs. Blue Mrs. Blue; my ‘handler’, my flight teacher, my friend. I did everything I could to bring ou-

And suddenly, there it was; the warmth of my greed flame along with the warmth of a single tear running down my cheek. -Sniff-, Mrs. Blue… thank you for everything.

... -Sigh-, I can’t get distracted now. I need to kick my mind into overdrive before the flames consume it like it did yesterday.

The way of the greed flame remains a mystery to me, but a mystery I’m slowly starting to solve. It’s a part of me, yet not. That much I know. At the cost of my mind it gives me strength and false courage. The flame consumes my thoughts, replaces them, and leaves me nothing more than a prisoner in my own body, fighting desperately to regain control. My actions are not my own, yet they feel like it at the time, and the words I speak come from the heart instead of my mind. I lack the power to lie or to avoid saying whatever the hell is on my greed filled mind in this state, thus resulting in me doing very stupid things (yelling at Emeraldgrey over ‘mother’ Crackle, almost killing the brothers, etc).

Depending on how much danger I sense my ‘hoard’ to be in (or generally how pissed somepony makes me), it can either burn a long time or for only a brief moment. The more danger I sense, the easier it is to trigger the greed growth and the more I grow, the harder it is to regain my mind…

... But it’s not impossible to break out of a full greed growth, as Spike and I have proven. I was able to break out of it the day before when I realized that I was about to kill Flam and again the next day when I realized that I was thinking about Blue and Red’s murderer as a thief instead of just that: a murderer. In both instances, I told the voice in my head to shut up and that caused the flame to freeze over and slowly fizzle out. This also caused the same voice to stop whispering into my ear.

And that’s the other little ‘quirk’ that makes this flame different from my normal one. The voice.

My theory is that this ‘voice’ is just an expression of myself; one who has been corrupted by the flame to protect our friends through any means necessary. He (if it’s me, then it’s probably a guy like my own thoughts) just wants to safeguard them just as much as I do, but the difference is that he relies more on actions I’d normally be too afraid to do (senseless murder comes to mind). Maybe in understanding this, it’ll make it easier for me to break out of his control and attempt to reason with him. Perhaps I can even try to convince him to give me the power to grow without turning me into a complete monster. Controlled greed growth would definitely come in handy in the near future…

They have taken what is mine.

There’s that voice again. Guess it’s time to find out if my theories hold any water… flame… whatever. I now lack the brain power to be witty. I simply nodded in response to the voice.


I shook my head ‘no’.

… Why do you hesitate?

… Did… did I just pose myself a question? Wasn’t expecting this…


It can’t hear my thoughts? How… I lack the mental prowess to think about it right now.

I did my best to reply to the voice with my own words and not the ones being fed to me through the flame (all of which wanted me to submit). “I… am not… monster. They are. I… need power… protect, not kill.

Killing would be more effective.

Not… monster…”

Give in.


... Very well. Your will is my will, human.

With that my mind became my own again.

… And I realized that this thing was not me at all! It’s completely foreign, clearly beastly and bloodthirsty, and now that I’m specifically listening to it I can tell that it has a completely different voice then me! That includes both my new feminine and old masculine one! It’s not even like a combination of the two, it's completely new! W-what the hell?!

Also… something about what he said is rubbing me the wrong way, but I can’t put my finger/claw on it. My mind is still slowly coming back online, so maybe it’ll come to me in a sec-

… Wait... wait, what?!


D-did he just say what I think he just said?! “W-wait! Hey wait!”

“S-speak to me, damn it! You… you’re not me, I understand that now! B-but you said human! You know what I am! Who the hell are you?!

“… You… you’re the one who brought me here, aren’t you?! You're the cause of all of this!"

W-what the hell is this thing?! Who the hell is it?! How long has it been watching me?! W-was it there when I was trapped and alone in the brother’s machine?! Was it there when I cried myself to sleep at night?! It only started to burn when I met Nate… but it’s a part of my body! It could have been with me since the very beginning for all I know!

It… could have even been with me on Earth…

I… I think I just stumbled upon something even more worrisome then the upcoming army... but I can feel the flame still burning so it must be complying with me for now. I tried to move it like my orange flame…


And with a mental command my claw grew to massive proportions. Lacking the muscles to keep it up, I allowed it to hit the deck with a bang before it shrank back down again.

“... They look like big, good, strong hands. Don’t they?” I chuckled weakly.

Unsure if he (it definitely sounded like a he) could even hear me, I tried to speak to the voice again.

“I… grant you the name ‘Greed’, whoever you are. Heh, think of it as my gift to you for having a hand in naming me ‘Cogwill’…” My eyes narrowed, despite me not looking at anything in particular. “But know this, we are not friends. If you turn out to be the cause for bringing me to this sick world… if you’re the one who caused me and my friends so much pain, then I will personally rip you out of my body with my own, damn, claws.

“But, for now, I thank you for your aid.”

Whether it was the result of my speech or the result of having only a little bit to work with, I felt the flame starting to weaken inside myself. Deciding not to waste any more time, I made quick work of changing my form into the cannon shape it had taken in my earlier rage. As my muzzle elongated (Slightly bigger then what I wanted) and my claws dug into the floorboards (Slightly shorter than what I wanted), ‘Revenge’ began to charge…

… And my breath took on a rusty brown hue for the briefest of seconds, but I no longer have time to worry about such things. This was not the time for worrying.

This was the time for action.



Okay… in retrospect… not my brightest idea.

I shouted an order. “Nate! Duck!”

Nate did as commanded as he narrowly dodged a funnel of multicolored boiling water. The baby sea serpents were about the same size as me and some even had the same scale coloring as well… but the difference was that they lacked legs and instead possessed powerful tails. These allowed them to swim at amazing speeds in the water. Nate and I were chased up and down the port deck as we tried to dodge their assault. I fired orange fireballs in response, only for the creatures to duck underwater to avoid them.

It was frustrating to say the least, like trying to hit that last guy in Space Invaders. Things initially looked dark, but one thing evened the odds between us and it had come, yet again, in the form of the amazing Nathan De La Griffon…


… And his amazing crossbow wielding skills.

I received the answer as to where he found that beauty in tiny chunks as we crossed each others' paths on the deck. My little talk with Greed had taken longer than I thought. In that time, Nate found the captain’s personal room and discovered his stash of confiscated equipment. Apparently, weapons weren’t allowed on his ship so he took ownership of somepony’s recreational archery set (which included a freaking crossbow?!) and sadly nothing else. Nate had grabbed it as a ‘security blanket’, as he called it, and had no real intention of using it, but once the action started kicking in the kid made short work of turning the ‘recreational’ set into his weapon of choice.

Adding to his ever growing list of amazingness, Nate seems to have been given combat training and some point in his young life…

… Yet he’s constantly bullied.

... Should I be more worried about the former, or the latter?


Dodging another funnel of water with a non-ironic barrel role, I decided that I shouldn’t be worrying about either thing as I had literally bigger fish to fry. I can figure it out when we make it to Prance.

Yes, when, not if. If I can just get one of these bastards to spill the beans, I can form a better plan and maybe even crack the code behind the seaponies’ song. I’m going to remain faithful in the idea that we will see tomorrow, that we will see Prance…

And that I won’t lose anyone else.

With a quick “Fwoosh!” I lit one of Nate’s arrows on fire and with a “Fling!” we struck one of the little bastards in the arm and set it ablaze. The arrow remained lodged in the child’s arm as he/she flailed it around. This caused the other seven to retreat in a panic, the one we hit to dip down underwater to extinguish itself, and Nate and I to high-fiv-, er, high-four. Once completed, I speedily eyed up the serpents, mentally picked out the slowest one retreating…

… And then I jumped off the boat.

My wings were forced into a slow glide as I descended as close to the water as I was comfortable with. Stretching my claws out, I grabbed the straggler up by the arms and lifted it up out of the sea. It struggled as I performed a quick loop-d-loop and crashed back on the ship’s deck. Nate fought his fears yet again as he pinned it face down.

Quickly getting up, I assisted him as we dragged the creature backwards into the ship. I’m unsure how far that tail allows it to jump and Nate has no real idea either, but hopefully bringing him inside should limit the possible escape options. Better safe than sorry.

Taking the struggling creature away from Nate, I pinned it against the hallway wall by its throat. “Talk, damn it! I know you can!” I demanded as the creature struggled some more under my grip.

I took this time to identify its features. It had dark green scales like my father, had a tuff of white hair on the top of his head that reminded me of Thunderlane’s mane-do, and it appeared to be a boy according to the make of his face and according to his grunts of pain. He also had a small white goatee which helped identify him as a him just a little bit better. It appears facial hair is a big thing for these guys…

I feel sorry for the women.

“T-t-t-…” The creature whimpered.

Hissing, I pushed harder. “What was that?”

“T-t-trying… c-can’t… breathe... bitch!”

I let go and allowed him to drop to the ground. He appeared to be unable to stand up straight while on dry land, as he only flopped around on the floor once I dropped him. While on the ground, I noticed his two accessories; the arrow we shot at him (guess that makes sense why he was the straggler) and a pair of orange flouters around his arms. The arrow was sticking out of a deflated flouter, not appearing to have pierced the arm in anyway outside of a tiny dent to his scales.

... Why do I have this feeling that Nate was skilled enough with his weapon to assure that the shot would hit him but not harm him? I mentioned it in Manehatten and I’ll mention it again here... Nate can be really bucking scary when he wants to be.

Also… hehe… hehehe! -Snort-... Phew... okay, this is too ridicules not to point out.

Finding it hard to keep a straight face, I asked what we were all thinking. “What..." -Snort- "W-what’s with the water wings, kid?”

The baby sea serpent’s face turned bright red as he looked away. “I-I can’t swim that well yet.”

Nate snickered with me, finally smiling again. This raised my spirits immensely.

The serpent kid yelled at us for this. “S-shut up, you dumb bird and you stupid fire breather! Your ponies killed Big Bob!”

Nate’s smile didn’t last nearly as long as I wished it had. This pissed me off greatly.

I growled at the serpent. “Yeah? Well you were trying to kill us not two minutes ago, kid. And...” I added. “Your ‘Big Bob’ already claimed two kills on us. I’d start talking before we even the score.

Kid stopped flopping around after that remark. I want to avoid becoming a monster, but I still need to do seedy things if I’m to make it out of here alive with Vinyl, Rarity, and Nate. Speaking of, Nate hasn’t said anything about my behavior yet… maybe he figures I won’t do it and that it’s an empty threat?

… I’m starting to forget if it is or not. In response to my ‘threat’ the serpent started opening his mouth…

And I quickly recognized that he wasn’t about to speak.

I quickly opened my own mouth…


Orange fire and green water met each other only inches away from my face and filled the hallway with steam. The serpent kid started to panic as I burst through the vapor (my scales protected me from the steam) and pinned him to the wall again, this time face forward with arms held behind his back.

“Okokokok! Sorry! J-just don’t hurt me, man!” He pleaded.

“Name!” I commanded.


Oh… oh low blow, universe. @#$% you.

“Fine… Caleb. Tell me what the hell is going on here before I start ripping your scales off one at a time.

He was quiet for a moment before laughing me off. “… Hehe, you won’t do it.”

I tightened my hold. “What makes you say that, kid?

Despite facing the wall, I could tell that he rolled his eyes. “Because you’re a chick! You don’t have it in yo-AHHHHHHHH!!!”

I allowed a clawful of dark green scales to hit the floor. “That’s one, two, three, fourfivesix seven down... hundreds more to go.

“Okokok! I’ll talk!”

“Heh, thought so. Nate?”

Nate, who had only been watching until now, replied “Y-yes Cog?”

I couldn’t bare to look at him. “Go guard the door, please. I’m about to be a bully in my own right and I don’t want you to see me at my worst." I sighed. "Tell me if something happens or if those serpents come around again.”

“R-right… please be careful.”

“Always am, Nate.”

With that he left me with ‘Caleb’, closing the door behind him.

Tightening my grip on the serpent as soon as the door closed, I stepped on the kid’s tail forcefully as I continued our conversation. “Alright, kid, why is your entire nest leading this ship off course?”

“I-it was the seaponies’ orders!”

“Okay… why are they leading this ship off course and how?

“M-m-magic! They're moving the currents towards themselves with their own magic! A-and they're targeting this ship because of magic as well! I don’t know what they're looking for specifically, but it sounds like something big like elements or something!”

I pushed harder. “And your part in all of this, kid?

“M-m-my nest is only here as chaperons and to make sure it makes the journey to their kingdom safe and sound, t-that’s all!”

So they're bodyguards… maybe the seaponies are frail and weak, relying on others to do things for them? Hmmm, weak theory is weak. Important information gathered; he said ‘elements’, as in plural, and the seaponies can use magic themselves. I haven’t seen any other members of the mane six on this ship outside of Rarity, and logically they should still be in Ponyville around this time, so that’s just another curveball I need to deal with.

... But, I care more about another comment the kid just made.

Fire escaped my throat as I yelled at him, nearly roasting the side of his face and turning the back wall black. “Safe and sound?! How is killing my friends making them safe and sound?!

Caleb's breathing started rising steeply, the gills along the side of his neck started opening and closing rapidly, and his pulse skyrocketed. It must be a nervous reaction, like how my wings twitch or try to cover my blushing face when I’m embarrassed.

“S-s-sorry!” He spat out hastily. “We’re j-just not allowed to talk to any of you, that’s all! T-the big guys to the north have been bred to be more or less mindless drones! They’re just doing what the music tells them to do like the p-ponies!”

I’m suddenly in the mood for calamari… no, can’t let anger cloud my judgment. I still need more info.

I rolled my own eyes. “… Whatever. You said elements; give me more information on them, Caleb.”

Caleb started crying. “I-I-I don’t... -sniff-, h-have any! T-the only kind of magic that would interest them would have to be elements! T-t-that’s the only reason I mentioned them!”

“I need more than that, kid,” I stated coldly while slowly peeling back another one of his scales.

“T-t-t-the P-princess said something about the two major sources h-harmonizing well with each other and a bunch of minor blinking! S-she also said that the two huge energies are both aboard this ship! T-that’s a little bit of info I got from a friend of my bro so I don’t know how accurate it is… b-but it’s all I’ve got! C-can I, -sniff-, g-go now, Ms. Dragon?”

I paid little attention to his begging, or the reuse of the old name Nate used to call me coming out another kid’s mouth. My mind was too preoccupied with piecing everything together.

First, there’s a Princess as well as a Queen. I need to make note of this. Second, kid said two signatures and that the only magic the seaponies would be interested in would be elements... the strongest magic known to ponydom. That helps narrow it down a bit. One of these signatures is obviously Rarity with the element of Generosity. Simply being a bearer must be enough to attract them… but what’s the other signature?

Harmonizes… that could mean that there’s another element aboard, but as I’ve already said that’s unlikely. Could it be Luna? No, he said it was on the ship, not near it. She might already be in Prance right now for all I know…

… I’m not ruling her out though. If their plan is to flood the world, what better way is there to do that than to use the Princess of the ocean-controlling moon? If anything, they’re going to try to use the magic on this ship to attempt to overpower her… but they didn’t do this during the original timeline of season two for unknown reasons. Maybe they didn’t sense Rarity initially and were too afraid to attempt to overthrow Luna with just straight up unicorn magic?

Ugh. I’m going too far out there with wild theories. I need to start making more solid guesses.

That just brings us back to the original question, who else ‘harmonizes’ with Rarity? What else could harmonize mean anyways…?

… Could… could it mean another pony that represents Generosity? Maybe… Mrs. Blue, with her motherly ways?

“Kid…” I asked. “Do you know if there’s still two signatures onboard, because I think your ‘Bob’ may have killed one of the bearers.”

“N-no, they would never kill somepony who the Princess or Queen specifically asked for! T-they wouldn’t kill at all unless someaquatic said okay to it!”

“Okay… so do you know who to avoid killing, Caleb?”

"-Sniff-, w-well… n-no…”

“So it could have been me or my friend for all you know, yet you still attacked us…”

“...Y... y-yes?”

As I huffed at his complete lack of decency, the back of Caleb’s head was assaulted with hot steam exiting from my nostrils.

He started to shake some more at this. “P-p-please, -sniff-, d-don’t hurt me again!”

Once more, I ignored him as I dived into my mind. Okay, so it wasn’t the late Mrs. Blue. Who else here could be a bearer… Vinyl? No, now that I think about it, it just wouldn’t make sense. Even if they’re referring to Luna, both she and Rarity were destined to take this trip to Prance at the same time. I have to remember that me simply being here altered the flow of events and somehow caused Rarity to become a target. This ‘harmonize’ bit has to be the key to how they were able to detect her in this timeline but not the other. By herself she was fine, but with one other pony she started to shine out like a beacon. It has to be someone who wasn’t supposed to be here and whose inclusion altered fate.

... Well it’s for sure not me. After all I’m a dragon, a creature of pure greed and selfishness. Even if I wasn’t born as one, and even if my hoard involves me selflessly defending others, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m greedy by nature.

Sure I… er, don’t really have any evidence to prove this… and I have done quite a bit for others these past five days…

… Still… I can feel it in my gut. I know that my words are true when I say that I’m a horrible person.

I… I just know it. I mean, I’m not the type of person who can be Loyal… except for Nate, and Vinyl and Rarity and…

… Er…

W-well I’m not Honest, that’s for sure! It’s not like I have a fire in my belly that inspires/forces me to speak the truth…

… Oh, wait… I do.

Okay! Well… um… I-I’m not Kind! Look, I’m torturing somesperpent right now for information!

… Information that I’ll use to save my friends…

… I’m, not funny?

Y-yeah that’s it. See? I don’t represent a single element of harmony! Not Laughter or Loyalty or Honesty or Kindness; not Magic as well and for sure not Generosity. The only act of generosity I’ve done was to pull all these ponies and my friends into this mess. Do you really need any more proof then that? I mean, how could a bearer of harmony unleash this kind of hell upon others?!

So again I’ll say it... I’m a horrible person.

All of this… i-it’s all my fault… that’s why I’m standing here between these innocent ponies and these aquatic horrors; because I’m not special and because I’m not generous. I’m not like Mrs. Blue, or Mr. Red, or…

“M-ms. Dragon?” sputtered Caleb, unsure why I stopped talking to him.

That’s when something started to make scary sense in my mind.

“… Oh my God!” I yelped.

‘My home is your home.'

‘That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life!'

‘I-I couldn’t just watch you scream again.'

‘D-do you want to talk about it Ms. Dragon?'

‘And you have me too, Cog.'

‘I’ll remember these as the best days of my life.’

… Nate.

Nate’s been nothing but generous with me! No, more than that, he’s done nothing but give of himself since we met!

His home.

His food.

His time.

His money.

And, on multiple occasions, his very life!

He… he gave them all to me without question, all for the sake of friendship…

… And I lead him to this ship and I helped him sneak aboard.

He wouldn’t have been able to get on without me…

... -Gulp-

I-I don’t know if this means Nate is an element, but it does mark him as a possible targ-


“Nate!” I shrieked, pushing the very confused baby serpent over and dashing outside the door.


What I saw on the other side of the door… I did not like.

And thus I stared into the face of the ponies of the sea, and knew now what the face of death looked like

Their manes resembled seaweed; dry, filthy, and sickly green.

Their bodies were skeletal with skin hugging against the bones… what little skin, that is, that wasn’t decaying before my eyes.

Their fins were piercing out of the sides of their hourglass-like bodies and were long and finger-y with bones poking through the webbing.

On their backs they bared a single pair of flailing tentacles. Long and clearly powerful, these appendages would poke out of flaps of protective skin and would return to them without a moment’s notice. These special limbs produced what appeared to be electricity that pulsated and shined in various colors and hews, as well as spark out randomly.

Unlike the baby sea serpent, these creatures stood up tall with their coiled tails. These tails were covered in an innumerable amount of scales, each varying in dark colors and sizes.

They barred golden tridents; those carrying these weapons held them in their tiny fins, while others held them against their backs in a makeshift sheathe of pulsating organs.

Similarly to the changelings, holes were present throughout their bodies and from these holes they leaked blue blood.

Their skulls resembled that of ponies, but were sharper and barred ever sharper fangs. Upon second glance, their craniums appeared to be more dragon-like then pony-like in shape, for they didn’t so much as have ears as they had horns like mine. Two were present on the sides of their head and pointed backwards away from themselves, again like mine. Unlike mine, however, their horns were a lot longer and a lot sharper.

And lastly, the most haunting feature of all: their eyes…

Those soulless, white, eyes.

These were the eyes of mindless beasts. These were the eyes of mindless killers.

Those eyes pierced my very soul, freezing it into a solid block of mind-numbing fear.

The seaponies worked their foul magic as they moved silently across the deck on a carpet of magic flowing water, the liquid having originating from their staffs. Their blue blood mixed in with the water as they moved along, staining it until it was an unnatural azure color.

A low humming rhythm emanated from their open mouths as they scanned the faces of all the ponies on board. Each pony stood at attention, as if they were soldiers awaiting orders, (with even the children standing deathly still) as they were scanned with those pure white eyes.

“N-no” I uttered weakly. In only a matter of minutes the ship had been overrun with these monsters...

… And Nate had been captured.

In front of me, twin seaponies were ‘singing’ loudly and flailing their fins around in conjunction to the movement of a pulsating ball of flouting water. This makeshift cage contained a certain griffon child who was quickly running out of air…


… That is, until I slit the monsters’ throats with my claws.

Both of the creatures cried out in pain as their ‘singing’ ceased along with their spell.


The sound of Nate falling out of his cage and collapsing into its watery remains. He gasped for air as I tried to help him up with my blue, blood stained, claws.

It was only then, when Nate stopped gasping and looked at the blood, that I realized what I had just done.

I… just took another life… I just took two lives without even realizing it…

A-and… and I don’t even know if it was because of my greed flame, my own actions…

… Or if I even cared.

“… Nate? Are you okay?” I asked, trying to avoid thinking about it.

Nate looked away as he picked up his crossbow. “Y-yeah…”

The flame within my heart cringed in minor pain as I feared what Nate thought of me now. I shook my head to rid myself of these thoughts as I tried to focus on what really mattered: getting the kid to safety. “W-we… you should get back in-”

Before I could finish, I was cut off by a hidden assailant. This seapony snuck up behind me and wrapped his own pair of tentacles around my neck. Nate screeched again as he tried to aim his weapon, but his claws quivered too much for him to get an accurate shot.

He’s… not as willing to take life as I apparently am…

Fearing that he would hit me and unable to strike the seapony in the head (which was a clear target), Nate lowered his weapon and brought out his claws instead. He lunged forward in an attempt to slice up the tentacles, but he was knocked back by a funnel of water that had conjured itself from the tip of the seapony’s staff. As Nate tried to stand again and dry himself off, a second seapony came up behind him and held him in place against its chest in a fashion similar to the way my guy was holding me. I attempted to breathe fire in response, but that only earned me a makeshift muzzle, made out of water, wrapping itself around my mouth and drowning out the flames. Thankfully, it didn’t drown me along with it.

All further attempts to shake out of my captor’s hold were quickly thwarted by a steady stream of electrified magic surging through my body, sucking the energy right out of me. It wasn’t as strong as the Flim Flam brother’s magic lightning, but it was just enough to pacify me. D-damn it, not good…

Having been successfully subdued, our seapony kidnappers carried us off to the main deck. It was here where all the hypnotized ponies awaited us, as well as more seaponies. Our wardens stood stock still as the rest of the armada of about twenty of the bastards converged on our position. I eyed them up while making sure to continue breathing through my nose, which had thankfully not been covered up.

I took note that all of the seaponies here were identical in form. Not a single one stood out or looked like an individual among this throng, making it hard to spot a possible leader.

… No, wait, I lied. One had a defining feature; a pair of slit, blue, irises. This one was sniffing the air in search for something when I noticed that, unlike the rest of his/her (I can’t tell genders with this race) kind, she/he wasn’t humming. It’s pretty obvious that their somewhat silent chanting (which even our captors never ceased doing) is what allows them to move that carpet of water from under them as they move around. It must act as their ‘horn’ when it comes to casting spells. In any future combat situations with them, I need to remember to try to mute these guys before proceeding to strike.

Slit their throats, melt their lips together, burn them to ashes… so many choices to defend what is mine.

Greed seems to be slowly gaining control as the situation worsens. His words are starting to sound like my own… oh God, please don’t let me do something monstrous in front of Nate right now…

As soon as Nate and I were brought forward, the special seapony stopped sniffing and turned to look at us. Its face illustrated a cold and calculating nature with the slightest hint of playfulness according to the way the eyes flickered. This tiny spec of humanity disappeared as quickly as it came as he/she approached us.

The creature finally spoke. Its voice was like a combination of two voices fighting each other for control of the mouth. One was like a deep, beastly man while the other was an intelligent and threatening woman.

“… Bring the griffon forward.” It commanded.

The seapony holding Nate complied and approached her. Nate started to shake, and at seeing this the water muzzling me began to heat up and boil over as my flames burned on from inside my closed off mouth. Greed had become a beast again within my mind and his quiet whispers to kill quickly become unintelligent growls. She dares to take what is mine.

At seeing my display, the special seapony held up a fin. This caused Nate’s steward to halt and for the apparent blue-eyed leader to sniff the air once again.

“… You confuse me, dragon.” replied the leader.

I only glared in response.

The seapony continued. “… I see no gems here. I see no riches… so what causes Lyssa’s gifted flame to burn so brightly within you? What have we done to earn your greed rage, beast?”

I maintained my angry glare. ‘I could name a few things for ya, lady/guy/thing.’

Greed spoke over my thoughts. Talk is unimportant. Kill now.

After observing my ever growing glare with a look of interest, the leader turned its head towards Nate again. One of the blue-eyed seapony’s tentacles gripped his/her trident off of his/her back and brought it to the forefront. Charged with electric magic, it was aimed at Nate’s head…

Splash! Clankclank!

… Only for it to be knocked out of its master’s grip with the aid of a well-aimed, brown, fireball.

My greed flame had kicked in to full force the moment the weapon was whipped out. I used its strength to elongate my nose just enough for my watery silencer to burst open. I still have some control over myself, it seem, as I mercifully haven’t gone into full on adult dragon mode yet.

The flames I breathe also apparently darken when I’m under Greed’s influence. I’ll be sure to make note of this little quirk after I’m done ripping this flankhole’s head clean off.

“If you try that again, I will charbroil you dead you damn heshe fish.” I threatened as my snout slowly snapped back to its proper size. In reply to my actions, a series of tridents were quickly aimed at my head, but they were just as quickly dropped when the leader held up his/her fin again.

While slowly shaking away a brown flame from his/her tentacle, the creature spoke to me once more. “… I’d watch your tongue, lizard. You have been graced an audience with Princess Diamrem, daughter of Queen Ambrosine. I demand respect.”

I scoffed at the princess; Greed’s flame forcing me to speak honestly (no matter what the situation) from the heart instead of from my silenced mind. “If you demand respect then give respect. I don’t talk to murderers.

The creature, now known as Diamrem, rubbed her chin with her non-golden brown tentacle. “Hmmmm… why do you care, beast? What is one life to a creature that lives as long as you do?”

“All life is sacred.” I responded solemnly.

“Then what of my own kin of which you slaughtered this day?” She asked.

“… A life lived through the deaths of others is not a life worth living.”

A fragment of my still active mind remembered these as the words Nate spoke to me days ago. It had given me so much joy to not be blamed for Legion’s death… yet, now I feel as though I am using his words as an excuse for my actions. Greed didn’t allow me to think about this any further, as it began to snarl even louder over me.

… But one final thought made it through the noise. This same fragment of my mind told me to look at Nate this instant. I complied, only to discover that he was looking at me strangely. What was this look? I know I know it…

… Fear? Fear of… me? I think that’s correct.

… My mind is too fractured to process this right now.

Greed, or maybe myself, insisted that I return my attention to Diamrem, who was equally deep in thought.

Diamrem returned to the conversation in her usual cold manner “…That is not a creed your kind is known to fight for…”

The water beneath her tail began to spin and churn wildly as that hint of playfulness, as well as new found anger, rang out in her twin voices. In a similar manner to Greed’s flame, her entire personality pulled a 180 flip right in front of my eyes. Where once she was calm and cold, now she was animated and angry. She used her own tentacles to shake me wildly from within my warden’s grasp, causing my own seapony to shake as well but he remained unfazed as he continued to hum out loudly.

The Princess yelled at me as the water raged. “I, do, not like not knowing something, lizard! Tell me how you’re different! Tell me tell me tell me!! You’ve been tainted by the sun goddess, haven’t you?! That has to be it! You sicken me you damn, green...

As if it was never there, the princess’s spoiled brat attitude subsided (along with the raging water) as she returned to her mature and threatening mask. I now know her true nature... I can use this to end her.

“… You must consider ponies as your hoard, don’t you, lizard?” Diamrem questioned yet not.

“I care only for the true riches of this world.” I retorted proudly. I forgot how poetic my heart’s words are. I must make note to listen to it more often in the future.

Diamrem once more looked cross. “A hoard that burns with the strength of others…” She sniffed the air again. “… Yes, I see it now. Your hoard possesses the very essence of the elements of harmony, the very ties that binds one to another.” Her face tightened into a look of held back rage. “This is not the magic we seek or can use. You have led us astray, lizard.”

I boldly smirked at her, having felt proud for screwing up whatever her or her mother’s plan was. “Good.”

Princess Diamrem was not amused. She sniffed the air once again before returning her attention to me. “… I know there are elements on board, lizard, for I sensed three upon the waters and another upon the winds. Pure magical Generosity… that is not a smell one forgets…”

Something clicked in my shattered mind. One upon the winds? That must mean… “Luna.”

“… What was that, lizard?”

My face was just as stony as hers as I held my ground. Greed’s flame granted me the courage to speak. “That’s Princess Luna you’re sensing, or smelling, or whatever. She was scheduled to fly across the ocean this very day so she could watch the arrival of this ship in Prance. When it doesn’t arrive there on time… well… I think you’ll find it very hard to hide what you’ve done in the face of the moon god-”

“She is not the goddess of the moon, you philistine!” Roared Diamrem, suddenly snapping at my remark. “Nightmare Moon was the true bearer of the moon and Luna is nothing but a shell of her former glory!” In the blink of an eye, her personality flipped again and her voice reached subzero temperatures once more as she finished her speech. “Do not disrespect our fallen god, dragon.”

Greed’s flame not only gave me the courage to argue with her, but also the courage to laugh at her. I gave a quick ‘ha!’ in response to her outburst. I’m unsure if it was I, my heart, or Greed who found her dropping of that ‘holier than thou’ act hilarious, but either way, I continued to laugh at what I had done.

I continued to chuckle to myself until Diamrem suddenly shot a tentacle out and shocked me with it. Oww…

She stuck out her forked tongue and allowed it to slither about. “What is it that you find so amusing, lizard?

While still in pain, I kept on giggling weakly. “Hehe… I was just laughing at how easily I found the big-bad-seapony's sour point. What’s the matter, your highness? Are you saddened that the eternal night didn’t happen? That the oceans didn’t rise up and swallow a good chunk of the land in response?”

The witch was taken aback, her mask faltering as she seemed generally surprised. “H-how did you know this, lizard?”

At first I was confused myself, how did I know to attack this subject? Why was I attacking this subject?

But then I figured that, with my mind taking a backseat, my heart was just telling it as it is. Every little theory I had cooked up in my mind so far had turned out to be correct, so I guess Greed’s just letting me speak my mind/heart. I suppose I’m okay with this; the less time given to Greed’s cries for war and dismemberment the better.

I used my knowledge from the show and what little I had gathered from Trixie, Nate, and others about Luna in my attack. “Because it’s common knowledge that Princess Luna was purified of Nightmare Moon earlier this year. With her mind restored, she no longer views it necessary to blacken the world in darkness in order to receive respect and love: she just needs to be herself. Even if she wasn’t purified by the elements of harmony, Nightmare Moon never showed any special connection to your kind. Now, why is that, Princess Diamrem?"

“…” Diamrem remained silent.

I smiled at this, savoring this tiny feeling of being in control after everything that’s happened today. “Let me guess; you only worship Nightmare Moon because she’s a true goddesses, unlike your mother, Ambrosine.”

The princess’s face proved my theories correct. “… I don’t expect a child such as yourself to understand our pain, lizard.”

Her show of weakness caused my greed flame to dwindle slightly. I used this chance (and my current warm fuzzy feelings) to regain control of my mind…

… And I hastily quit badgering her. W-what the hell was I thinking?!

Oh, wait, that’s right, I wasn’t thinking. That was the problem!

Talking to her was just another one of my ‘heart’s’ dumb ‘ideas’ and, although it has yielded the possibility of ending this thing peacefully, I’d rather like to start using my noggin again instead of my ass. Greed kept trying to whisper into my ear to return to my rage, but I was able to tune him out for now. Thank goodness for that, and thank goodness that I haven’t maimed anyone yet…

With my new found sense of clarity, I quickly looked back at Nate who had once again remained quiet during an important conversation. Frankly, I don’t blame him; I know that I would have shut my flapping lips if I was in this kind of situation when I was his age. Nate rewarded my concern for him by turning his own head away, unable to look at me.

W-what? Why’s he… ow! My heart! It feels like a smaller version of the pain I felt when I left Vinyl! Ow… if I were a pony, my ears would be flat against my head right now. W-why can’t Nate face m-

Oh… oh crap! I used my greed growth in front of him without even realizing it! Even worse, he’s a griffon, which I’ve learned is part of the same race trinity as zebras. If Zecora knew about greed growth when ponies didn’t…

-Gulp-. I think Nate recognizes what I did… what I can do.

He’s… scared of me.

… And now I’m ‘poking the bear’ with the woman who just pointed a trident at his head.

He… he must h-hate me!

Oh no oh no oh no, I can’t loss him too! P-please don’t leave me alone here…

… Although… I did say that it only felt like a minor version of the pain I felt earlier. I had only been friends with Vinyl for a day when I broke up with her…

… If Nate ever truly left me, I’d imagine that the pain would be a lot more intense then this tiny little stab. I’ve known him for almost a week and we’ve already done so much together… if he ever really left me, my ‘heart’ would be devastated. Under that train of thought, this means that my actions so far have caused Nate to mistrust me, but not hate me.

Phew~, that’s somewhat of a relief… but now I’m walking on thin ice. I have to remain brave and in control of the situation if I want to earn back his trust. No more greed flame, no more pushing Diamrem’s buttons, and no more rage. Guess it’s time for some diplomacy…

“I’m all ears.” I finally told the Princess, hoping for answers and maybe a possible solution that doesn’t involve any more deaths. I owe it to Nate to at least try his non-killing route, especially since I believe in it as well.

Despite the sincerity of my voice, Diamrem looked at me angrily. “Do not try to sympathize with me, dragon. Your kind was nothing but mere hatchlings when our kingdom began to falter.”

“Okay…” I nodded in acknowledgement. “Well then, explain to me what caused this to happen. Maybe we can work on an answer to your problem toge-”

“We have tried to solve it for centuries, fool!” roared the Princess.

Eep! So much for solving this thing peacefully. I’m starting to think this was a bad idea...

“Our problem...” she went on “was apparent since the dawn of time! Every race that spawned from us could see it clear as day! Earth Ponies, Pegasi, Unicorns. Zebras, Griffons, Giraffes. Diamond Dogs, Gargoyles, Minotaurs. Sea Serpents, Dragons, Landwyrms… even the kinless Changelings and Crystal Ponies could see it happening yet they did nothing! Only your fellow draconic kin, the sea serpents, stayed by our side, but they proved to be equally worthless and unhelpful as the rest of the planet!” She slithered towards me and lowered her head until it was merely inches away from my face. “Our problem. child, is that my mother is an immortal!”

I blinked. “Um… well it’s kinda in the name, Princess. You know, the Eternal Queen Ambrosine? Well… in truth that’s just what my father calls her, but even so: Ambrosine stands fo-”

“Yes and that is the problem.” Diamrem cut me off in her growing rage.

“You're… not making sens-owowowowow!” I wailed as the princess pulled back on my ponytail.

Again, owowowowo! B-bitch!

“C-cog!” Nate sputtered, finally paying attention to me again. That repaired some of the cracks that had started forming in my heart but did nothing to stop this crazy lady from pulling my hair! Owowowow!

“Cog?” Questioned Diamrem. “So that is your title, lizard. Well then, I ask you this, ‘Cog’: what is my own title?”

“P…” I tried to answer through the pain. “P-princess?”

Princess Diamrem let go of my ponytail. “That is correct. So now, think about it, little Cog: what is our problem?”

“I… I just don’t know! P-please stop beating around the bush and just tell me! I want to help you! Please!” I begged. Greed’s going to take control again at this rate if she keeps acting so hostile towards us!

The seapony’s mask of seriousness returned as she said “… Very well. Little Cog... what use is there in having a princess if there will always be a Queen?


… Looks like I no longer have to fear Greed’s return… because he’s here.

It took all my own courage to break out of Greed’s flame in the first place and even more courage to try to speak to this lady without the flame’s aid, and this is the thanks I get?! A generic 'overthrow my mother' villain?! Screw off, universe, I’ve had enough of your crap!

“So, your problem is that you’re selfish!” I snarled.

Her mask held as she told me that “You are wrong, little Cog. Our Queen needs to fall. It’s as simple as that.”

Greed’s flame began to burn brightly as it quickly became apparent that there was no hope of ending this peacefully. If it was getting out of obscurity, or forming a dialogue with the Princesses, or literally anything else I would have given her my aid in exchange for letting these ponies and Nate go. But, from the sound of it, solving her ‘problem’ isn’t going to be that simple. I will not kill for her.

Kill her then.

And with that Greed was now fully back up to snuff. His flame gave me the liquid courage needed to continue yelling at Diamrem. My last hope of ending this without bloodshed (besides Luna magically showing up) is to maybe convince the other seaponies here (who had remained just as quiet as Nate) that this coup wasn’t worth it. "All I’m hearing here, Princess, is a little girl whose jealous of her mommy!”

“… Shoo, be doo~” Diamrem uttered. This quick incantation caused several watery ‘fists’ to strike me across the face in rapid succession. Scales and blood flew off my body as the blows increased in size and power. Rarity’s gifted bow to me went flying off my bruised horn and flew over the edge of the ship. If my hoard possessed material things in it, this would have caused a full on transformation in and of itself. I liked that bow!

I also liked my blood.

It was only after I became unable to see out of my right eye did the pain cease. Nate watched me with tears in his eyes as our bond returned to its original strength and as this situation became bleaker.

The Princess’s face remained stony, as if nothing had happened. She even continued to speak to me casually. “… I am not jealous. Who would be jealous of a body that doesn’t die, yet lacks the true magic of the goddesses to prevent it from aging? ”

“-Huff-… -huff-… -huff-!” I replied simply. I was still recovering from my assault and unable to respond properly. Despite this, I had a feeling I knew where this was going. Eternal life but not eternal youth…that must mean…


Hell on Earth.

The princess told me as much. “Mother has not been the same for a very long time, little Cog. All I could do was sit back and watch as her mind began to decay over the centuries. The true horror, however, was watching her people decay along with her…” She held her fins to the sides in a grand sweep. “Look around you, lizard! Where once we were mighty, we are now small. Where once we were a rainbow of colors, we are now uniform grey. Where once our songs were known throughout the world, we are now nothing more than a fairy tale for foals! These things at my side are not seaponies; they are dogs, and we have mother dearest to thank for this.”

At first I wasn’t sure what she meant, and I blamed this on Greed’s flame blocking off my higher brain functions…

… But then I started thinking about it…

Really thinking about it.

Has any other seapony talked to us so far?

Have I spotted any sort of slip up or sign of a soul from this group?

Have I seen even the tiniest speck of individuality among these ranks?

The answer?

No… they’ve done nothing but hum and stand perfectly still this whole time. At first I assumed they were just a well-trained militia…

… But then I remembered their soulless eyes.

Their decaying flesh.

Their messy hair.

All the scales that lay discarded along the floor of the deck…

And, most importantly, their eyes again. I can’t get over those eyes…

They're… beasts.

Literally mindless beasts!

Even the changeling foot soldiers had more soul then these guys! H-how does something like this happen to an entire race?

Diamrem went on as I considered her words. “First her decay claimed the children, then the elderly, and finally… all that remained. We were once gifted with a link to her through the flesh in the same way Lyssa gifted you your greed or Celestia gifted these ponies with their marks. However, since mother wasn’t a true goddesses, her gift quickly became a curse. Her people suffered along with her… and so did I.” She looked down sadly at her own flippers. “… I escaped my own decay through ancient magic, little Cog. Forbidden magic from another realm. I was thankfully spared the curse of immortality, unlike my mother, but the magic I used could very well be considered the same thing. Regardless, it came at a terrible cost, for you see…”

As she held her final word, her eyes went solid white and she remained motionless. The water beneath her splashed around unevenly as she started to fall over. She quickly opened her mouth and began to hum like the rest of her mindless kin and that saved her from the fall. This act thoroughly confused me…

… Until the seapony holding me stopped humming and lowered his head next to mine. I turned my own and was greeted by a pair of slit blue eyes. My seapony started talking to me in Diamrem’s twin voices.

“D-diamrem?” I tried to interrupt my once silent captor.

But the Princess continued on our conversation as if nothing had happened. “… I live on through the bodies of her people. In a way, I have achieved eternal life like mother, yet it comes at the cost of stealing our precious few followers’ bodies. What kind of life do I lead, dragon, where I do not have flesh to call my own?” The new Diamrem tightened her grip on me. “Not a pleasant one, that’s for sure.”

She… can live on through others?! I-is it only restricted to seaponies? Oh please only be restricted to seaponies!

… She will be hard to kil-

At this moment, I discovered another way to exit Greed’s control: fear. More specifically, fear of what I don’t know. My breath quickened as everything started to not make as much sense as it once had. She’s here for magic, wants to obtain an element, and wants to overthrow her own mother… but is that really all there is to this? Emeraldgrey said that the Queen wanted to flood and rule the world and Diamrem herself admitted to wanting Nightmare Moon to flood the world as well… so what’s the overall plan here?

-Gulp-. Only one way to find out. “O-okay, so you seaponies kinda got the short end of the stick here. I understand that now… but what will overthrowing your own mother do for you, Diamrem?”

Diamrem used her new host body’s flippers to start playing with my wings, treating me like a stuffed animal. “It will allow me to rule and nothing more.”

“Rule?!” I asked, completely stunned. “That’s it?! Killing her doesn’t end the decay or something?”

“How do you kill an immortal, little Cog?”

Oh… right. “W-well then why do you even care?”

“Because her people deserve me as their proper ruler. Again, simple as that.”

It was about time for me to snap today. It was hard to pull off without Greed’s fire flowing through me, but the stupidity of Diamrem’s words floored me forward. “No it’s not as simple as that! Why are you trying to take all these ponies, just so you can rule over a dead race?!”

“My race is not dead!” She roared into my hearing horn as her grip on me tightened.

“Yes it is!” I roared right back into her lowered face. “You said so yourself that these guys were nothing more than dogs! Are you planning to rule over dogs?!”

Despite me just yelling into it, Diamrem's face beamed with an unhealthy smile. “No little Cog. I plan to rule over all. Although her mind is gone, mother’s dream of returning this world to its natural beauty lives on through me. I will become the one true god of this world, just as mother wanted me to be. I wish to harm her so that I may honor her! Once I have an element, I can fight against the false god Luna and steal her moon away from her…”

“… And thus begins the eternal ocean.” I finished for her grimly. “Well… then what, Princess? Become the Queen of the land of magical flooding corpses? Hate to break it to you, fishy, but not everypony can breathe underwater!”

Her grin intensified. “Not yet they can’t.”

I surprised myself by being able to joke at a time like this. “… How the hell do you plan to go all ‘Waterworld’ on us?”

The evil princess startled me by finally letting me go. As soon as I hit the ground, I about-faced and glared her down, er, up. It was only now that I noticed that seaponies were kinda tall… like about where a normal pony would be standing straight up on hind legs, if not a couple of inches higher.

Diamrem’s evil smile remained plastered to her face. “I expected better of you, little Cog. Weren’t you paying attention? I said that all the races of this land spawned from us. Inside even your inferior body lies the genes necessary to become the majestic creature all life was destined to be.”

I got on all fours and growled at her; my wings flaring upwards and my claws ready to strike as soon as her monologue was over. “Sorry, Diamy, but I’m afraid a good number of us prefer the dirt and sky to your filthy ocean. Besides, what about Ambrosine’s gift? Changing everyone into seaponies is only going to give you a planet of dogs to rule over, right?”

Despite everything else I had asked, this question seemed to be the one that delighted Diamrem the most. “Well… I guess it’s all up to The Maker after that. The elements have the power to do many great things, little Cog, but they are the magic of ponies. I, being of the race that spawned ponies, should be able to do whatever I wish with them.”

My claws dug into the wooden deck’s flooring. She’s making it very hard for me to fight Greed. “But you have no way of knowing that!”

Her mask completely gone, Diamrem laughed at me. “Mahaha, well then… let’s find out, shall we?”

With a wave of her fin, two seapony guards came slithering up to us…

… With Vinyl Scratch and Rarity following them. The two were still under the influence of ‘The Music’ and were unable to do anything but mutter about it and obey the trained seaponies’ commands. My face tried to betray me by falling, but I quickly straightened myself out. I can’t let her know that I know these two.

Unfortunately, Diamrem saw right through my act. “Oh do not try to hide it, dragon; I can smell your magic upon these two, as well as on this griffon and a little filly. The filly was of no importance to me, but this griffon is quite interesting. He possesses much more magic then his kind is known for, something that resembles Celestia’s magic brandings, and he stinks of the smell of magical Generosity.”

Oh crap, I called it!

“Sadly, this is not as impressive as it should be, for this aroma emanates from these two unicorns as well. The filly stinks of it as well, but it is only minor in comparison. Because of this, I'm lead to believe that one of these two is the bearer."

... What? “W-what?”

Diamrem elaborated as she purred evilly. “It’s quite simple, little Cog. Your hoard is powerful. Too powerful. Not even an elder amongst your kind possesses a greed flame as powerful as yours. Not only that, but it shines with the light of the elements as well! That’s not something you can easily duplicate, especially the smell. The only way any of this could be possible is if you were connected to an element in some way, such as being his or her friend."

Her tongue slithered about some more. "You've already admitted to having a hoard made of ponies, lizard, so it's not that unbelievable that you are the bearer's friend. Just as you added her to your hoard, so too did the bearer of the element take advantage of you, dragon. One of these two ponies funneled their power into those connected to you and successfully cloaked themselves. Quite clever, I'll admit."


In an action that mimicked Emeraldgrey's 'clawfull of riches' technique, Diamrem turned her head to the side and used her fin to play with a tiny geyser of water coming off of her new staff. "Whether it was intentional or not it does not matter; what matters is that, without your knowledge, your hoard became one with the element of Generosity, little one, and led us here.

N-no! I… I...


… I was right.

This, -sniff-, r-really is all my fault…

The princess, uncaring about my fresh tears, coldly stated that “We owe you a debt, Cog... simply point out the true element of Generosity amongst these two, and you get to keep her.

No… oh dear God, why?! “W-what happens to the oth-”

The Princess’s raised fin halted my sputtered question. “Do not play dumb, child. You know the answer to that. We have plenty of ponies to work with here, missing one won’t matter. Be grateful the little filly isn't on the chopping block as well.”

Greed became silent. Having to choose… that seems to be another one of its weaknesses. I… I should be thankful that I have a clear head to think this through… -sniff-, b-but why has it come to this?! Why it this happening to me?! D-don’t make me choose…oh God, please don’t m-make me choose! -Sniff-, i-it’s not fair… it’s not fair!


The sound of tridents being lifted up and aimed at Vinyl and Rarity’s heads.

“The clock is ticking~” The princess stated playfully. Her mask had completely shattered now, leaving behind the true monster she really was. That cold and calculating side was still there, but she allowed herself to enjoy the chaos she had created in my mind. Nate’s once again turned away, unable to help me.

… -Sniff-

My tears soaked the floorboards beneath me.

“Three!” Diamrem shouted happily.



“I… I can’t!”


“Please don't!”

The princess's icy voice returned as she ordered her seaponies to “Kill them both.”


“… What was that, little Cog~?” The monster asked me nonchalantly.

I stood up on my two legs only to then collapse to my knees. “T-the one with the blue mane… she’s the element.”

Diamrem smiled. “And this one with the array of diamonds as a cutie mark?”

“… My… f-friend…”

“I see… toss the one with the spectacles off the ship.” She commanded to the seapony guard.

My eyes widened. “No! I said she was the element! She's the element!

“Why?” asked Diamrem.

“W-what?” I questioned, unsure what her sudden query meant.

“Why would a dragon willingly put a single ruby in front of a pile of diamonds?”

My heart was pounding so unbearably hard in my chest that I couldn’t think straight. “I…" -Sniff- "D-don’t understand.”

As the demon slithered over and watched as her seaponies started to lift Vinyl up with their magic water, the Princess stated coldly that “So little of your greed fire flows off the other pony. This, ‘Vinyl’, is just as drenched in your magic as the griffon child is. Therefore, I asked you why you put such a large piece of your hoard at risk while throwing away this other pony. Little Cog, it is quite apparent that this one with the purple mane is the element, and that this Vinyl is your true friend. Once more… I thank you for you aid.”

With that the carpet of water holding Vinyl lifted up…

… And tossed her off the ship.


Nate's shaking reached a fever pitch as I launched forward in frantic flight. A volley of water ‘shots’ threatened to knock me out of the air but I remained strong and flying until the Princess herself gripped me with her electrified tentacle. As the magic coursed through me, I came crashing back down and near the edge of the railing.

Using every ounce of the last of my strength I peered over the side…

… And saw nothing but the crashing waves.

Diamrem laughed at my misfortune. “So close, little one. This is why you shouldn’t listen to the words of the sun goddess: it only makes you weak.” She then turned her attention away from me and began giving orders to her troops. “Shoo, be doo… shoo shoo-”

... The princess made one mistake this day... one fatal mistake that I prayed would later cost her dearly.

Her mistake was that she turned her back on me…

… And Greed.

She has taken, what, is, miiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeee!!!!

Things became foggy after that… but I do remember a few things. One of which was me making good on my personal promise of ripping Diamrem’s head off.

I accomplished this dark task with my teeth.

Blue blood leaked from my mouth as my muzzle snapped back into place. As soon as those blue eyes reappeared on another seaponies’ face…


… I used my forked tail to reduce the seapony population by one more.

Seven lives have been taken so far this day.

All of them, my fault.

And many more to come.

“RRRRRRROOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRR!!!” I thundered loudly; Greed’s flame turning me into the beast capable of murdering these abominations.

Kill. Kiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllll

I complied as I scanned the army. Diamrem’s eyes appeared on Nate’s imprisoner’s face…


And once it did I used my breath to take the shot Nate was too scared to take earlier. The rest of the seaponies began to approach me, snarling in between their magic chanting and ready to take action. Nate tried to stand up feebly once he hit the deck but I didn’t give him the chance as I lifted him up in a single, massive, claw.

My body was fluctuating and changing rapidly, but it hadn’t gone into full on greed growth yet. I was not ready to fight after all... the first thing on my damaged mind was to make sure my hoard wasn’t reduced any further.

Thus I yanked Nate off his feet with the aid of this giant claw and carried him back inside the ship. I slammed the door shut behind me with the help of my slowly shrinking tail.


Adrenalin still coursed through my veins as I slowly started shrinking back to normal in the hallway.

Sweat rained down from my head and drenched the carpet below me as I breathed in air and flames rapidly.

Greed’s voice had once again become nothing more than a collection of snarls and growls within my grief filled mind.

Caleb the baby sea serpent, having still been left inside, saw the blood dripping out of my mouth and did his best to scurry off fearfully using only his claws.

The world around me was spinning as I allowed my rage to settle for the briefest of seconds…

… And Nate looked at me as the girl I didn’t want to become, as the creature capable of taking life without care.

“C-c-cog, your t-tail…” Nate stuttered.

Breaking out of my momentary cooling down trance, I looked at it.

… It was still covered in the gore and brain matter of the fallen seapony’s head as it finished shrinking back down. Blood still dripped from it along with my claws. As my mind slowly became my own once more (a-and the pain of Vinyl’s l-loss started to, -sniff-, s-sink in) I noticed a nasty… taste.

My mouth… tasted like death.

I had not only killed five seaponies in total, b-but I ate one! W-what the hell kind of monster have I become?! I turned away, trying not to think about it… but it was so damn hard. So incredibly hard!


W-why... oh God why... why is this happening?! Now I have all the proof I need to prove my ultimate theory correct...

I am a horrible person.

“I’m… I’m sorry Nate. P-please don’t hate me! I just wanted to keep you safe! V-vinyl… I… I can’t loss anyone else! Please! I-I did it for you!”

Nate took a fearful step back from me. Greed suddenly became silent as the final remnants of his flame disappeared.

“N-nate…” I tried to approach him.

He shuffled back. “D-don’t, please… j-just don’t…”

“B-b-but you said… t-this isn’t the same as Legion! They were going to kill you! Y-you promised! You s-said that you’d… you’d… p-please don’t leave me…”

My pleading did nothing as Nate only curled up into a ball, and tried to cover his head with his arms, in response.

I… didn’t try to push any further than that.

I figured that Nate's had more then his fill of monsters for one day…

... For the rest of his days...

With the loss of my final friend here in Equestria, my heart shriveled up and died; the pain was too much for it, so it simply stopped hurting…

… And remained still.

I was as good as dead to him… and to this world.


Once again, I couldn’t bear to look at Nate as I turned away. “… Nate…p-please…" -Sniff- "P-please just go hide. T-that’s all I ask of you… then you never have to see me again.

Walking the walk of a man heading down death row, I left Nate cowering in the corner and returned to the main deck. Tears dotted my path as I suddenly knew how Vinyl felt yesterday…

Vinyl… I’m so, so sorry…

Your only crime was trying to become friends with a demon, and pretending that she was an angel.


As I exited the door, I half expected all the tridents onboard this ship to be aimed at my head… for the entire force of the ‘mighty’ seapony army to be ready to strike me down.

What I saw, however, made all those choices seem heavenly in comparison.

It made everything that happened to me today look like a meager flesh wound.

It made the pain in my heart seem like a child’s paper cut.

The second step in Diamrem’s apparent grand plan had come to fruition in the single minute I gave to her.

Not only did she now have Rarity…

… But Luna as well.

She had arrived here not in a grand flying chariot and ready for battle, but unconscious in the mouth of a sea serpent. A smirk crossed Diamrem’s new face as she slowly stroked Luna’s flowing mane with a fin.

Our… my last saving grace… was gone.

The seapony Princess turned around, saw my absolutely crestfallen face, and laughed at me. She laughed out in a haunting cry that crushed my heart into a state of pure dismay. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worst… she started singing. It was not the song of the seaponies she sang, but an even more threatening and familiar tune.

… ‘This day Aria’.

“This day has been just perfect; the kind of day of which I’ve dreamed since I was small~” Diamrem’s grin grew even larger. “I’ve always admired the Queen Chrysalis’s music. She was the one person in this world who could sing better than even my people… I must remember to honor her and her changelings with our form first.”

That evil grin of Diamrem’s did the impossible and grew even larger. “I must give thanks to you as well, little Cog! Thank you for alerting us to Luna’s presence! The information that she was the one upon the winds helped my sea serpent armada to be better prepared for the extraction! All I had to do was quickly pop into another seapony’s body during our own conversation… and the deed was done. Long range possession… almost as useful as your dragonbreath, wouldn’t you agree? Again, thank you for your aid!"

“… Thanks for the salt in my wounds.” I replied drearily.

Diamrem’s smile was the closest to ‘warm’ as she could manage. “It’s such a shame. If you hadn’t attacked me just now, I would have considered granting you the honor of being the first creature transformed. But now, well, I’m afraid this is our goodbye, child.”

She approached the railing where Vinyl had been tossed. “Farewell, my little dragon! I am truly sorry you will not get to enjoy this new world to its fullest!”

Impishly waving goodbye to me, Diamrem sucked her tentacles into her body and jumping off the ship. She swam away with the sea serpent and left the remaining seaponies to take care of securing Rarity and ending me…

… And I’m kind of grateful for that.

Not in ending me... I still have one last task to complete before I… I... well I don’t know what, but I’ll figure that out once my heart stops crying.

No, I’m glad she left. I don’t want to talk to that bitch any longer. I… have someone much more important to talk to right now anyways.

As the remaining Seaponies began to circle me, I cried out this person’s name.

“… Greed.”

“Greed, I know you can hear me… let me ask you something.

“… What shapes a person?”

“… His actions?

“Her past?

“His luck?

“Her gifts?

“What makes you… you?

“What makes me, me?”

“… Becoming a girl didn’t change me, it made me stronger.

“Becoming a dragon didn’t change me, it made me tougher.

“Becoming a child again didn’t change me, it only made it easier for this world to break me.

“This world… of which I was cursed to roam.”

“… Why am I here?

“What was it about me that made me special?

“Was I good in another life? Bad?

“Was I destined to change this world… or ruin it?

“Was I a fallen angel or a redeemed demon?”

“… What have I done to deserve this twisted fairy tale?!

“What have I done to earn such love, only for it to be taken away so harshly?!

“To make friends only to lose them?!

“To be gifted with a ‘hoard’ worth fighting for, yet given a life long enough to watch it wither away?!"

“… Man and Girl.

“Adult and Child.

“Human and Dragon.

“… Who am I supposed to be, Greed?! Who the hell am I to you?!

“… I was not meant to have any of these wonderful things, this I now know.

“I was not meant to have these perfect friends... nor was I meant for this world at all.

“... I’ve ruined everything that made this place special to me and others…”

I looked at my claws... their slowly greying scales shined in the rising sun.

“… Okay, Greed... I’ll kill for you. If I’m not supposed to be here, then I will use these claws to rend and slaughter across this land until its back to the way it was.”

“… Please, Greed... burn. Burn my pain away in your demonic flames. Take it all away from me!!

…Your will is my will, human.

And thus I wished myself away from this nightmare


The mighty ship was shaken to its very core under the added weight of all that remained of Cogwill the baby dragon.

The adult, white eyed, grey scaled dragon roared out in a blood curdling scream of pure draconic fury. The force of its anguished cry caused the very ocean to tremble before her.

Her tears threatened to drown even the ponies of the sea.


Your will is mine, human… mine.

The flames of deep inner greed lit up the morning sky in a brilliant hellfire of blinding white light as the scene fades to black.


From the darkness, a pair of magenta colored eyes opened