Ocellus could feel the building pressure in her receptors, most probably coming from the disgruntled dragon beside her. Smolder’s demeanor had taken a rough course ever since yesterday evening; her claws were digging like Tatarus into the leather of her satchel strap, and the reddened scabs on her knuckles had been like that since last night’s incident.
The changeling’s ears flicked clockwise at every single stomp the dragon gave down the corridor, each matching in time with her rapidly increasing heartbeat. And it didn’t take long for Ocellus to be fed up.
“Would you please!-”
All movement ceased, except for Ocellus’ wings buzzing with angst. Smolder’s crystal blue eyes locked squarely on the smaller creature with a fixed gaze. “...please, just…” Ocellus averted her stare, perfectly affixing on the computer room. A prickling sensation dug furiously into her chitin in a trice. Seeing the four legged androids in perfectly linear rows upon the stands in their own robotic regalia, made her sick to her stomach. And as Smolder followed her gaze, she realized her lament.
The two watched as some of the staff swept up the noticeably shattered glass outside the computer room, surrounding an obviously fractured area of the displaying window. It was something that Smolder didn’t recall being there before; however, there was more than just one android missing. And there obviously weren’t two attacks that night, but…
Smolder was dead set on her silence. Although her brows curled with obvious remorse, she bit down on her tongue like her life depended on it. Ocellus felt the almost deafening ringing in her ears. The kind that couldn’t be distinguished as real or fake, or the kind that was probably just there to fill the quiet void.
She bit down on her bottom lip, a tooth brushing against the bruise she had been given the night before.
“...it couldn’t have been an accident,” Smolder rasped, being the first creature out of the two to tear her eyes away from the computer room. Ocellus bit down harder.
“It could’ve just been a bug. I don’t think I know anyone at this school who’d try and program such a thing…” breaking into a slight panicked hover, she pulled Smolder into their assigned classroom. However, as Smolder took her seat and opened up her laptop, she realized the broken keys and screen.
...and the dripping oil.
The stench filled the room quicker than a ray of light, promptly punching Smolder square in the nostrils with how pungent it was.
An unprompted coughing fit from another early bird student didn’t ease her nerves much quicker.
She turned her head to glance worriedly back at Ocellus, who shockingly met her stare with the same worried expression. Of course she remembered it. How couldn’t Smolder?
“Mornin’ class…” Professor Apple strode in, but with a more concerned and pensive glance. Her eyes met with Smolder’s as soon as she entered the classroom. It promptly sent a surge of unease through the dragon’s body and nearly reduced her bones to jelly. She sank back into her seat with a nervous slump. “...bad news. Someone in this school broke into the computer room and destroyed an android.”
“My android!” a unicorn colt pipped up. He sat in the middle row, and had a white pelt with hibiscus red eyes. His mane was white and red in a Colgate kind of pattern, but it was tied back in a ponytail, unironically. Smolder narrowed her eyes.
He was a flamboyant boy, no matter the innocent persona he put forth. And Smolder hated the perfect prettyboy treatment he got all the time. It was ridiculous. Of course it was his android that attacked Ocellus, who else would it be?
The boy had his eyes set on Ocellus since her first year. Because why wouldn’t a pony predator like him be preying on such small game? Definitely not to promote diversity.
A low snarl emitted from the depths of her throat. And the hard rumbling coursed through her body rougher than the rockiest of rock surfing tournaments. Blood dripped soundlessly from the bed of her hands as her claws dug fiercely down into her scales.
She was livid.
She blinked and turned toward the source of the southern belle’s call. And right there, were those passionate, emerald green eyes.
“Oh no, professor Applejack…”
“D’you happen to know anythin’ about last night’s attack?”
“Of course she would,” chortled a certain smug stallion, flipping his toothpaste-patterned mane and shooting an abashed gaze Smolder’s way. “...isn’t it dreadfully obvious?” he continued, striding up toward her desk and laying a hoof on it- hell, even his hoof laying was smug. Smolder couldn’t help but scoff.
“No, professor A. Let him speak his piece.” Smolder folded her arms, a palm wiping gently across her sleeve, causing the scarlet liquid to smudge into the fabric. Sebastian chuckled softly and ambled around the desk with his chin up. Smolder inched her head around every step he took. And when he was standing tall in front of her, his brows arched like the devil he was.
“...my piece is saying you broke the piece by breaking every piece of my android!” he whined, stamping his hoof on the floor. Ocellus made a show of kicking her chair out from under her, stomping up to put a hoof on her dragon friend’s shoulder in defense. Sebastian gave another devilish grin. “...and you. Whatever happened to your cold-blooded puppy, hm?” he pursed his lips with a deafening hiss, perhaps great enough to beat Ocellus’ on a bad day.
“She is not a pet. And she is not cold blooded. Well, metaphorically no, but-”
“I can almost see it through her eyes. When this rapscallion attacked my robot!”
“Sebastian, that is enough.” Applejack nudged him with her shoulder and presented a scorching glare. Sebastian harrumphed and turned to look back at Smolder.
Her shoulders were sunken, her hands were soaked in blood, and her eyes were cold and filled with unbridled rage.
Sebastian let out another chuckling scoff. “See? You can’t even see anything but- oof!”
Smolder gave a rushed shove as she bolted for the door, jamming herself through it and skidding onto the floor. Her tail curled sharply from the impact, however her claws dug into the cold marble.
“Smolder, wait!” Ocellus flittered out through the Smolder-shaped hole in the door, landing safely on the floor. But to her surprise, her friend had already sped into the left corridor. There were the long scratch marks to prove it.
“Drake on the loose!” a loud, crackling squawk came from around the corner.
“That sounds like Gallus,” Ocellus screeched, lifting off and flying after her.
Smolder gasped as she fell into the computer room. She kept her open palms in front of her as she collided with the glass, falling right onto the floor.
She weakly reared her head with a bloodstained grunt. And as she stifled a cough, she watched the scarlet liquid onto the pearly white carpet.
“Ohh...aw, shit…” she grunted once again as her gaze darted erratically across the room.
There were androids everywhere. And every time she took her gaze off one, the closer another would get. She felt like she was in some kind of cage. Like they recognized her.
“Smolder!!” Ocellus had finally skid into view, gazing tearfully at her friend.
Smolder tore her stare away from the androids towering over her, eyes widening as she and Ocellus locked eyes.
And those tears fell.
The changeling felt her heart shatter into a million pieces as she watched the rapid beeping of each and every android in the room. Like it was a warning. A siren’s call. Something pulling her in, but pushing her out. Like the one thing pushing her away was Smolder’s deadlocked gaze.
The wave of force that was rocketed at her at a rate she couldn’t even comprehend was something entirely else. It brought down every single wall around the computer room, formed divots in the halls and filled them with nothing but fire. Ocellus cried out as she slid rapidly against the floor and fell against the wall.
It was a gaze of question. Of curiosity, of worry. And that was the first time she’d ever seen Smolder genuinely worried, since…
...since the last time she was hurt.
“Ocellus!” Gallus flew up, carrying Sandbar close. But as they landed, they looked just as devastated as she was. “...Ocellus, wha...what…?”
They all watched as the crumbled ruins became void of orange flame; no sound except for the slow falling of rubble under the growing smoke. Glass cracking, metal melting and welding slowly together. Ocellus was breathing heavily, both in weariness and devastation.
Smolder was gone.