A Forgotten Trooper

by SonicTeam34

Chapter 8: Everfree March

"Are we there yet?" Pinkie Pie asked, bouncing forward alongside Fluttershy and Rarity.

"Not yet Pinkie." Twilight Sparkle answered.

The group of ponies plus Strider were currently walking around a mountainside that rose just above the tree line.

"We should be there soon--AHH!!! Twilight cut the her sentence short short as the area the group was walking on broke free from the rest of the path.

"Everypony grab onto someth'n!" Applejack shouted, grabbing onto a stray root that was sticking out of the mountain.

Fluttershy grabbed Rarity while Rainbow Dash grabbed Pinkie Pie. Strider frantically looked around for something to grab onto and spotted an outstretched branch. But sadly, he had to let go of the DC-15A which drifted off the cliff. Following closely behind was Twilight, who had nothing to grab on but the ledge at the end of the cliff.

"HELP!" Twilight cried out, her grip quickly slipping.

Applejack let go of the root she had grabbed hold of and slid over to the unicorn's aid. Strider couldn't help but be amazed at how daring that pony was to save a friend. She could have easily slid right off the cliff herself.

"Heh, reminds me of the boys teamwork." Strider commented, smiling at the memory under his helmet. The happy memory was quickly cut short when he heard a snapping sound, the sound of the branch he was holding onto snapping free from where it had been lodged into the cliff.

Before he could even scream, the branch broke completely in half, sending the trooper tumbling down the cliff side.

"I, CRASH HATE, SMACK CLIFFS!" Strider shouted until he landed in a tree at the bottom of the cliff.

Rainbow Dash couldn't help but chuckle at the scene she had just witnessed, nearly loosing her grip on Twilight. She and Fluttershy set the unicorn down next to Pinkie Pie and Rarity, before flying up to the tree and getting Strider down.

"You alright Strider?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yeah, i'm fine, let's just keep going and pretend that never happened." Strider grumbled.

The group made their way down the path, going deeper into the forest. They soon ended up walking towards a valley between two cliffs. Before they could enter the valley however, Strider heard movement.

"Wait, I heard something." Strider exclaimed to the group, raising up the DC-15A.

Right after he said those words, a familiar beast shot out from the underbrush, its eyes locked onto the group.

"A Manticore..." Twilight said, looking at the beast, fear seeping between her words.

So that was what that beast was called. If this was the same one that had attacked him before, then he had a score to settle with it. Strider aimed at the Manticore, but right before he could pull the trigger, a yellow hoof rose in front of him.

"Wait! Don't shoot!" Fluttershy shouted, surprising the whole group at how loud she had said that.

Before Strider could object, Fluttershy trotted towards the Manticore, showing no signs of fear as she did.

"What are you doing!? Your walking to death's doorstep!" Strider claimed. He tried to aim around Fluttershy but he didn't have a clear shot anymore.

Fluttershy trotted right up to the Manticore, who glared down at her. Instead of stopping, she got even closer and began talking.

"Are you kidding me." Strider muttered. Now it really was like a snow white scene. That was, until something set the Manticore off, causing it to roar right into Fluttershy's face.

"FLUTTERSHY!" The group shouted, Strider rose the blaster again, his finger hovering over the trigger. But he lowered the barrel when he noticed that the Manticore was licking Fluttershy's mane like it was a dog.

Seeing an opening, the group made their way past the Manticore, who stopped licking Fluttershy and walked away into the forest. Strider looked at Fluttershy, amazed at how that pony, who a few hours ago was terrified from dark mist, just face down a Manticore and befriend it.

But deep down, Strider knew that if Fluttershy wasn't willing to fight, then she would fall. He looked at the blaster in his hands, before following the group as they made their way down the valley.

For some reason, the trees above the group began to get thicker. Outstretched branches that had big leaves on then blocked the moonlight from above, casing the forest below in darkness.

Strider reached up to his helmet and flipped on its lights, illuminating part of the area in front of him.

Soon, the group of ponies ahead of him began muttering to themselves about the darkness. He just sighed and kept moving, until a strange noise began to fill the area.

Strider looked around, trying to see what had made that noise. he turned his head to the right, and was greeted with a horrific looking face that had been carved into the tree.

The trooper actually stumbled a little at the sight, but quickly regained his composure. The ponies on the other hand, had already started screaming. Most of them anyways.

He quickly noticed that Pinkie Pie wasn't screaming, but laughing. How in the world was she laughing at the disturbing images around her?

Then, she broke out in song. Strider had to hold back a groan of annoyance at the sudden outburst of singing, but he couldn't help but chuckle a little under his breath at the lyrics. He noticed that the other ponies had begun to laugh at the trees, causing the carved faces to vanish and be replaced with normal trunks.

"How did those vanish?" Strider wondered out loud, but noticed that the moon light had somehow broken free through the trees and leaves, banishing the darkness around them.

Pinkie finished her song, laughing on the ground with her friends. Strider looked at the sight and smiled. It was rare to see these sights because of the war bringing terror to everyone. But every here and there, he would stumble across true happiness, a spark of light in this dark war.

"I have no words..." Strider muttered, gazing at the sight.

Rarity had just snipped off her tail and had given it to a serpent, THAT HAD A MUSTACHE! It made zero sense! Why did he have to crash on a planet that seemed to literally laugh at the laws and rules of the galaxy! Serpents had gone extinct several years ago and were never able to grow facial hair! How did this one even do it? Did he find some sort of hair spray in a bottle? Or maybe--

Strider's avalanche of questions in his mind left him standing there, blankly while the group made their way over the serpents tail to the other side. The serpent looked at Strider for a few seconds, before picking him up and putting him on the other side of the river.

Even if he somehow managed to grow facial hair, he shouldn't be able to talk english! Serpents had their own language style which consisted with clicking noises and sometimes slithers from their tongue! They also shouldn't have that much hair on their heads! Bright orange hair to be exact! First talking ponies who apparently have a strong government of some sorts due to them having currency and what seems to be trading posts. But no, the planet just had to have other creatures that can disprove facts that had been standing for ages in the Republic archives!

Strider didn't even notice Fluttershy pulling him by the hand as the group continued on through the forest.

"Are ya sure he's alright?" Applejack asked Fluttershy, looking at the Trooper, who was still mumbling under his breath.

"Well, I thought he might have finished by now, but he's still going." Fluttershy answered.

"If he keeps going then he might get into the top three ponies/people that can talk for hours straight! I'm number one." Pinkie claimed.

Strider's mind slowly began to slow down from the rambling wave and he finished the wave with a slap to his face.

"Sorry, this planet is just so strange." Strider stated.

"Eh, ya get used ta it." Applejack told the trooper.

Strider looked over to see Rainbow Dash trotting over a now stable bridge, a smile on her face.

"Come on! We have some element's to find!" She reminded the group, before flying into the sky and back across the bridge.

Once the group passed the bridge, Strider spotted what looked like the runes of an old castle. The other ponies however already had seen it from the bridge, so Twilight had already entered.