Out of Touch

by ToixStory

Neon Night - I

We took some of the weapons from the guards. I tried not to look at them while I did so and had to keep swallowing lest anything come up. Most of the weaponry went to the stallion in white, but Charm took a pistol for himself. He watched me as he did it, but I didn’t speak out.

In the end, I decided against a gun. Twilight hadn’t used one, so why should I? I was her, now, after all. Sort of. Maybe. I don’t know. I grabbed at my new horn and groaned that I even had to think of that sentence.

What in the world was happening? My legs were purple and I had a horn. Great, just great. I was afraid to check my flank in case my cutie mark was a six-pointed star.

The stallion in white huffed while we stood around the demur lobby. “They’re going to figure out their agents failed pretty fast,” he said. “We need to get out of here if we’re going to do . . . whatever it is you’re going to.”

Charm turned to me. “What are we going to do?”

I opened my mouth to say I didn’t know, but shut it. Because when I looked down at the bodies on the floor, I realized I did have a plan. A crude one, perhaps, but still a plan. One that Twilight would be proud of. Or, more likely, one Twilight would have thought of.

“I know what we’re going to do,” I said, mustering up as much conviction as I could. “First, we need to get outside.”

The stallion in white nodded. “I’ll lead.”

He trotted on ahead, his gun at the ready. He stuck to the corners of the building’s lobby and kept his eyes on the entrance. We tried to follow his movements as best we could, but Charm and I hadn’t had any sort of formal training before. We made a lot of noise and just about tripped over each other.

Rain had started to fall once again outside. The stallion pushed his way through the glass doors and hugged the wall outside. Three large cars were parked near the doors, their wheels up on the concrete sidewalk.

The stallion in white (I’m just going to call him Mr. White) raised his gun and walked a perimeter around them. After a moment, he raised his hoof. “All clear,” he said. “No drivers. They must have gone in with the teams.”

“Okay, we’re outside, so what now?” Charm asked.

I patted the side of one of the cars. “We take this,” I said. “We take it and drive right out of the city, down the highway out toward Los Celestias.”

Mr. White frowned. “You said you didn’t wish to head out. Change your mind?”

“Not at all,” I said, “but we need a diversion, don’t we? If they can send this many ponies out on such short notice, they’ve got to have an army somewhere. So we’re going to give the fat cat the mouse to chase.”

I popped open the passenger door of the car and hopped in. After a moment, Mr. White and Charm followed. The keys were still in ignition and Mr. White turned them, starting the car with a dull roar. The headlights flashed on, cutting through the rain that had begun to pour outside. It seemed like the only weather in Manehattan was rain.

Mr. White backed the car off the curve, looped around the small parking lot in front of the building, and pulled out onto one of the main boulevards. Traffic was light and we glided down the boulevard like the wind was in our sails.

“So what’s the plan from here?” White asked. “They’re going to follow us everywhere we go, so you can only pull them off their headquarters for so long.”

“Oh, you won’t be coming back to town,” I said.

“Wait, what?”

I smiled. “It’s simple. You lead them on this wild goose chase while I teleport back to town without anypony noticing. I find that boss of theirs and take him down.”

“You’re crazy,” White hissed.

“That’s the idea.”

“Uh, guys?” Charm said. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news and all, but we’ve got company.”

I turned around in my seat to see him staring out the rear window. Sure enough, more cars with tinted windows had begun to follow us. They kept their distance at the moment, though. Maybe they were scared of whoever could kill all of their agents so fast. In that case, I figured, they may have been right to be scared.

“I’m going to take the main highway,” White said. “We’ll have more room there to maneuver.”

He steered the car away from the narrow streets of downtown Manehattan and up a massive concrete ramp to the overhanging superhighway. It was the same that I had walked on what seemed like only a day ago, but hundreds of years in their future.

The whole thing was much cleaner than I remembered. A big concrete slab with a large divider in the middle and walls on each side to keep cars from tumbling off. The speed limit was higher and the drivers more daring. Even the normally white road lines were colored a brilliant yellow.

Our own car tore down the highway as Mr. White set it in gear. It was just in time, too, as the other cars began to catch up. Overpowered or not, they were determined to catch me.

“Alright, so we’re drawing them away,” White said, “now what? You said you can get back, but how do you know where to go?”

There was a box sitting on the dashboard and blinking red and green lights. If my hunch was right, it was what I thought it was. “There aren’t many options for how those agents found us so fast,” I said. “They must have been already prowling around and had the coordinates sent to them.”

I pressed a promising-looking button on the box and a small screen turned on. I flipped through a few menu screens and got to the previous destinations box, but a password kept me out. I gritted my teeth. I was good at taking machines apart and putting them back together, of course, but not so much at the password thing. Charm had always been the one to mess with software back at home.

That gave me an idea.

I spun around in my seat and beckoned to him with the box. “Hey, can you pull the previous destinations off this thing?” I asked. “It’s password encrypted, but I figured you could do something with it.”

He smirked and snatched it from me. “You’re lucky Dagger is so afraid of electronics that he paid for me to take courses on them.”

I nodded. “How long do you think it will take?”

“A few minutes.”

A bullet snapped through the rear window and shot out through the front windshield. Mr. White jerked the car around and the tires squealed. “We don’t have a few minutes!” he yelled.

“Well yelling at me won’t help!” Charm returned. He turned his attention back to the device and began moving his hooves in deft movements across the delicate keys. His eyes beaded in concentration even as a side window shattered.

“Okay, I can’t take this anymore,” Mr. White growled, then turned to me. “You drive. I’m going to see if I can give these bastards something to keep their heads down over.”

Without checking for my agreement, White rolled down his window and stuck his torso out. I grabbed onto the wheel as he brought his gun out and traded a few shots with a pony in a van following us. I did my best to get a good grip on the wheel as we swerved through the gathered traffic that was pressing to get ahead of us and out of the city.

A sedan collided with the center guardrail as we barreled past it, with a few spent cases from Mr. White’s pistol dropping on its hood. The car we were in hadn’t seen a mechnaic in some time, and listed to the left as I tried to steer from my seat. I was only lucky that the other pedestrians had enough mind to get out of my way lest I collide with them at close to one hundred and twenty miles per hour.

I grunted and lost control for a moment when another bullet found its way into the car and into me. From the feeling, it hit somewhere in my spine and I lost all control of my limbs for a few seconds. Then, I felt a small tingle and golden magic burst from my new horn and I could feel again. As freaky as the situation was, a broken spine would have been a lot worse.

Which gave me an idea.

“Hey, Whitey,” I called to the pony leaning out of the car.

It took him a second to figure out I was talking to him, and didn’t look at me when he spoke, “I’m a little busy here, if you can’t tell.”

“No, I know,” yelled up to him, “but you’re too vulnerable! Let me do it! They can’t seem to hurt me with bullets, remember?”

He paused. “Right. Invulnerability. None of the texts mentioned that.”

“Well great,” I said, “then this is a new experience for the both of us.” I relinquished the wheel over to Mr. White and accepted his pistol. With a grunt, I managed to pull myself out my own window.

The wind whipped and snarled at my ponytail, but the little band “Starswirl” had given me still held. I had to grip the top of the car tight just to keep from falling out, though. I gripped the gun in one hoof and tried to aim, but it was a hopeless task.

The guards in the other cars didn’t seem to have the same problem, however. Bullets whizzed past me and a few even hit me, but were gone a moment later. I tried to shoot for their wheels, but my bullets just bounced off the pavement.

“Okay, screw this,” I muttered under my breath.

I closed my eyes and focused on thinking of myself standing in the middle of the road in front of the oncoming cars. Not my brightest idea, but hey, invincibility. How many times was I going to get to do that? Was I crazy? Probably.

While my brain kept chattering, I managed to keep that picture of where I wanted to be on the forefront. There was a flash of golden light and then my hooves were on hard concrete. I took a moment to get my bearings, which seemed rather pointless at the moment.

Bullets flew around me while I brought my own gun out. My shoulder burned for a moment before it healed. Standing in the gunfire, I noticed the bullets made almost made a whistling sound when they went past me. Without the ability to die, it was . . . pleasent. Kind of awesome, too, feeling like a badass. Oh, look at me, I’m in your face and can’t die!

Oh, right, the oncoming car.

I raised the gun and let bullets fly and slam into the front tires. The car began to swerve on its damaged wheel as the driver lost control. It started to flip on its side, knocking its way through one of the other cars.

It was at this time I realized one of the failings of my plan, namely physics. Causing an oncoming vehicle to crash wasn’t going to stop or even slow it down. I realized that about two seconds before my ribcage was crushed beneath the hard steel of a very fast wreck on wheels.

The bones in my rear legs snapped with a sickening popping sound as they were pulled under. I felt a tug on my right foreleg and when I looked, there was nothing left but a bloody shoulder. I saw all of it, knew it was supposed to be painful, but only laughed to myself a little bit. There was no pain, just a dull sense of loss.

My little journey ended when the car currently stuck to me collided with an SUV farther ahead of us, bringing the whole thing to a stop. I had trouble figuring out what part of me still worked under the pile of wreckage, but I managed to throw myself out.

I watched as my stump itched and glowed golden as it grew the leg back, purple and all. Twilight’s purple, of course. Not that I minded it as much now, even if some part of my brain screamed that I wasn’t acting quite right.

While the rest of me healed, I was free to lean against what had been an SUV and look up at the sky. It was blue, but not like a dark blue or a “blue” blue. It was that soft color that belonged in a painting somewhere, hanging over a meadow. No clouds, just the sky that darkened as it rose toward space and all that lay beyond.

Somewhere out there was Wolf 359, and home with it. Journey’s End. Charm was there, so many years in the future. Too bad for him, though, when I had him to myself for the time being.

I giggled.

Okay, even to me that was weird.

“You survived the crash remarkably well,” Mr. White said as he walked through wreckage toward me. Charm followed at his heels, scanning the rest of the cars for signs of the guards, though didn’t seem to find any.

Mr. White stopped and stood over me. “Though for one with remarkable invincibility, you seem to have done a poor job of things.”

“Hey, I stopped them, didn’t I?” I asked.

“Yes, but at what cost?” He looked closer at me. “Your eyes, have they always been purple?”

I blinked a couple times, then rubbed at them. “Okay, so, maybe healing after being steamrolled by a car cost a little. But it was worth it, right?”

I looked at Charm, who nodded and held up the little GPS device. “Last available coordinates are locked. You’ll be able to go there in no time.” He looked away. “Unless, of course, you needed some help.”

“No, she must do this on her own,” Mr. White butted in before I could take Charm up on his offer. “We have stopped them for now, but the agents will keep coming. Not just that, but Tinker is the only invincible one here. If we are with her, we provide a vulnerability for our enemies to exploit.”

Charm bit his teeth, but then sighed and gave in. “Alright,” he said.

“Hey, it’ll be okay,” I said. “You two head out of the city right now and it’ll be ages before they catch up to you. Then I’ll get Cloaked Dagger back and we can find a way to teleport far away from this city.”

Mr. White shook his head. “All of this for one pony . . .”

“It’s what Twilight would do,” I told him. “If I look like her, then I’m going to act like her too. Like you said, I’m invulnerable. I go in, smash up their headquarters, and get Dagger away before anything goes wrong. Then it’s just a cakewalk to Spike.”

Charm passed the GPS to me. “Whenever you’re ready.”

He and Mr. White stepped back while I examined the device. In the mode that Charm had hacked it into, it only displayed the latitudinal and longitudinal data for the last locations, and nothing more. I would be running blind.

I took a deep breath. I was invincible and I had Charm counting on me. How could I lose?

With a moment’s hesitation, I set my hoof on the device and focused all of my thoughts on the coordinates. Take me there, I told my magic. After a second, my horn complied and I was gone in a spark of light.

*        *        *

I reappeared, only to find myself in total darkness. I tried to blink a few times, but it didn’t work. I grumbled and wish I had a light. Then, to my surprise, my horn obeyed my command and lit up like a flashlight. I stumbled back and let out a startled cry, but then smiled when I was able to project the light where I turned my head. This whole unicorn thing wasn’t so bad.

Even with the extra light, though, I couldn’t see much. Just a carpet under my feet and a desk to one side. I decided to press my luck and brighten the light more. I closed my eyes and concentrated into turning my purple-y self into a lightbulb. When I looked again, it had worked, and revealed the room was in.

My heart sank when I saw it.

I was back in Cloaked Dagger’s office in the high rise building. It was empty this time, but it was unmistakable for his. I turned around to try to get a bearing on the location, and my heart stopped beating altogether. Behind me was a massive banner, strung across the eaves.


Before I could do anything, there were a few soft explosions and I watched small steel cables whiz their way past me until I was surrounded on all sides. Suddenly, they sparked to life as bright magic lit up on them and plunged itself at me.

The pain receptors that had been off since I had begun to assume Twilight’s form came back in full force. Worse, every time my new body tried to repair itself, it hurt even worse. Gashes opened up along my body that snarled with magic and felt like somepony was continuously cutting them with a knife, over and over.

I cried out and tried to fall down and curl in on myself, but the magic from the wires held me in place. I felt my horn crack and snap off, only to grow back again a moment later like somepony was driving a spike through my skull. I was screaming so loud my throat began to hurt, but I didn’t care.

After what seemed like an eternity, the wire magic let up and I fell to the ground in a heap. I couldn’t move anything. It felt like every single molecule of my being was in pain and I wasn’t about to test that theory. While I was on the ground, though, I heard the distinct crackle and hiss of a speaker coming to life.

“So good of you to take the bait,” a voice said. The same voice from the office, in fact. “I was beginning to fear that you had actually run away from this place.”

I didn’t respond. I was too tired. But then again, I don’t think the stallion cared.

“It is so wonderful to capture you after all these years of waiting,” he continued. “Over here, we started to think that maybe you were perhaps not the companion of she without a name. Good to know that, too, was wrong.” He laughed. “No, don’t worry, I don’t expect you to get up. Or even answer. Just know that we will be coming for you, and that your chances of escape are, well, laughable. Enjoy your time alone, for it will be the last you will get for a very long time.”

The speaker switched off just as the wires turned back on again. I screamed and screamed and screamed until my voice gave out. Then I closed my eyes and gave in to the pain, if only to keep it away.

It didn’t help.