Cadence jumped to the side as the bladed fish tail slammed down on her previous position, cracking the concrete floor and causing the whole building to shake. Cadence skidded to a stop and looked back to her attacker. The Capricorn was pulling his tail out of the ground, waving it slightly to remove several pieces of rubble that had clung on. The goatfish turned to Cadence.
“I must admit you are quite fast. It is impressive, and refreshing, to know that at least one of the Alicorns of Equestria has not lost herself to the weakness and indulgence harmony has forced upon you.” He bowed respectfully to Cadence.
Cadence huffed. “Are you calling my Aunt Celestia and Aunt Luna fat?”
The Capricorn shook his head. “No... at least, not Luna. Celestia on the other hoof is no longer the warrior she used to be. Why do you think she has others fight her battles? I applaud her for her diplomatic and cognitive abilities, but to allow one’s body to wither in effectiveness, via the consumption of massive amounts of cake, is to assure one’s defeat.” The goatfish cracked his neck. “My feelings on that, however, are irrelevant. Shall we continue are scuffle?”
“Scuffle?!” Cadence shouted, insulted at her enemy's downplaying of their fight.
“Indeed.” The Capricorn replied. “You may be a Alicorn, which automatically endows you with a significant power boost, but you are no warrior. With no proper combat training or tactics, this fight will be over quickly.” The Capricorn readied himself to charge. “Prepare yourself.”
“Bring it on Cappy!” Cadence snorted, knowing it to be a popular insult to Capricorns from other species.
“My name is not Cappy.” The Capricorn stated rather matter-of-factly. “In your society, it would Steadied Precision.”
“And in your society?” Cadence asked, slightly curious.
“Unimportant, we are, after all, not in my society.” Precision responded dully. “I consider myself very adept in cultural relativism.”
“Ok, whatever you say.” Cadence responded.
“Then ready yourself.”
“Oh I’m more than- OH SWEET CELESTIA!” Cadence jumped out of the way as the Precision’s tail came down her once more and nearly took her out. “Crap he’s fast.”
Cadence turned to see the Capricorn behind her, readying his tail. Thinking quickly, Cadence charged her magic and teleported out of the way, but not before Precision’s tail was able to nick her in the side. Cadence returned from her teleport falling. Hitting the ground with a grunt, Cadence touched her side and felt a small gash. She could tell that a trickle of blood was coming out. Damn, he’s really, REALLY fast. How I am supposed to fight a trained soldier?
Looking up, Cadence noticed Shape Shift sitting some feet away, watching Cadence’s fight. “Shape Shift!” Cadence shouted. “A little support would be nice!”
Shape Shift nodded and brought out his drawing board. The Changeling then proceeded to write ‘GO CADENCE! CAPRICORNS STINK!’ on his board and showed it to the mare, waving it around like a fan at a sports game.
Cadence’s eye twitched in an angry fashion and she gritted her teeth. “You little Changeling smartass.” Shape Shift smiled sheepishly but continued his course of seemingly passive-aggressive support.
“Are you done talking to your servant?” The Capricorn asked after the two had been arguing for almost a whole minute.
Cadence got up onto her hooves and turned to the Capricorn, who was waiting patiently for her. Cadence snorted. “I’m surprised you didn’t attack me while my back was turned.”
“There is no honor in such things.” Precision remarked. “Besides, I much prefer to watch the life leave my enemy’s eyes as they die, that is harder to do with their backs turned.” The Capricorn closed his eyes, lost in thought. “You could call it quite the sick little fetish of-“ Precision made a grunting sound as cornflower blue magic struck him square in the chest and sent him back. Recomposing himself, the Capricorn looked down at his chest plate, darkened and melted into uselessness by Alicorn magic.
“I don’t really have such reservations.” Cadence smirked, her horn cooling down from being fired.
“So it would seem…” Precision remarked, unbuckling his chest plate and allowing it to drop the floor with a clang. “Back to it then.” The Capricorn charged Cadence.
Charging her horn in response, Cadence readied an attack. The Alicorn’s Capricorn opponent was all too prepared to dodge this attack, she wouldn’t have the element of surprise this time. Instead of engaging Precision, however, Cadence aimed her horn to the ground and fired a blast of magic at the solid concrete. Precision skidded to a stop as dust was sent everywhere and obscured his vision. The Capricorn’s head shifted all around, trying to locate his enemy.
Precision’s eye flexed as he saw a shadow move in he dust cloud and he swiped at with his tail, but the lack of blood geysers and no shriek of pain told him he’d missed. Suddenly, he heard the flap of wings and turned to see Cadence charge into him. The Capricorn grunted as the Alicorn slammed him to the ground, she was stronger than she looked.
Precision brought his tail up and with a whoosh went after Cadence’s back legs. A bright flash made the Capricorn turn away and he instantly knew he had once again missed his target. Getting up, Precision shook off the remnants of the flash. The dust was just settling and that would return him the advantage. A sparking sound from behind alerted him and he raised his armored tail, blocking the magical blast Cadence had sent at him. Blue magic fizzled and exploded outward from the epicenter of impact on Precision’s tail. The Capricorn bit his lower lip as he felt the intense heat from the magic slowly burn through his armor and reach his scaly skin underneath.
Knowing that continuing this would cost him his tail, Precision braced himself and then swiftly flicked his tail and ducked, the magic passing over him. Charging Cadence, Precision took a fore hoof and slammed it into Cadence’s face. Cadence yelped in pain and flew back from the brute force that had just been applied to her face. She was thrown into a pile of old crates with a loud crash.
Precision snorted at this small victory. Turning his attention to his tail, the Capricorn instantly knew it was a lost cause. Cadence’s magic had burned through the sharp metal plate, reaching the actual tail and fin and basically cutting them in two. Had it not been for the intense heat of the blast singeing his flesh closed, Precision would be bleeding heavily from his tail right now. He could also feel, or rather the lack of, that he couldn’t move his tail in the slightest, proving his theory that the Alicorn had either destroyed his nerves or incapacitated them.
Despite the circumstances, the Capricorn could help but smile and laugh. “Impressive, Alicorn, for one who does not have extensive combat training. I am, to say the least, impressed.”
Precision’s eyes widened as he turned to see Cadence coming from the opposite direction she had landed in. Before the Capricorn could react Cadence brought a punch to his face. While he wasn’t knocked down, the Capricorn still grunted in pain and reared his head back. Swiping at Cadence with his hoof, the Capricorn tried to recompose himself, to no avail. Another flash later and Precision could feel that Cadence was behind him charging her horn. The Capricorn ducked from the attack and spun around, using the momentum from the spinning to launch his broken fin plate (loosened by Cadence’s magic) right at the Alicorn. Cadence screamed as the plate impaled her shoulder, though she was able to prevent blood loss with a quick spell.
Casting the spell had distracted Cadence and she was not prepared for Precision running up to her and slamming a fore hoof into her chest. The royal mare coughed out some spittle. Thinking fast, Cadence charged up her horn and sent a magical shockwave out in all directions, ensuring the Alicorn’s foe was caught in the blast.
Steadied Precision went flying, hitting the ground a meter or two away and then skidding another three meters. The Capricorn came to a stop right in front of Shape Shift, though Precision had noted that the Changeling had moved positions since the last time he saw him. The two of them stared at each other for an awkward moment. Finally, Shape Shift brought his writing board up and whacked the Capricorn on the head.
“HEY!” Precision yelled in anger.
The creature would not be able retort any further as Shape Shift continued his assault on the Capricorn, whacking his head in quick, repetitive strikes with his board and never letting up. Precision, now angered by this humiliating display, aggressively swiped at Shape Shift with his hoof. The Changeling instinctively buzzed away, fearing the angered goatfish. The Capricorn got up, but soon learned this was a critical mistake. Cadence’s cornflower blue magic ripped into his left shoulder, tearing through the armor like butter and blowing the Capricorn’s shoulder to shreds (the magic’s intense heat once again sealed the wound shut before it could bleed). The Capricorn fell to the ground, pain rushing through his body.
“Damn it…” He muttered. Despite his being a Capricorn and wearing armor, it did little against an Alicorn. Alicorn magic made even the most basic of spells supercharged. His armor and tough skin would have deflected those magical attacks if they had just been from a regular unicorn. Fighting Cadence, however, made things complicated, and her sudden, out of nowhere tactical expertise didn’t help.
“Ready to give up?” Cadence asked, walking in front of the Capricorn (though she still kept her distance just in case). The Alicorn smirked. “Not so easy to beat me, was it?”
Precision chuckled. “No, I suppose it wasn’t. Then again, how could have known I would be fighting one so skilled in close quarters combat tactics?” Cadence’s eyes widened slightly, Precision smirked at this. “What? You think I wouldn’t eventually notice? It was hard not to after everything is said and done.” The Capricorn turned to Shape Shift. “Know that I shall never again underestimate your species combat tactics little one.”
Shape Shift simply grunted weakly at this, trying to act innocent.
The Capricorn chuckled again. “Don’t act as if you are oblivious to my words. I saw the tactics you employed with the Princess here. I am well aware, now at least, that your seemingly innocent exchange at the beginning of the fight was in fact a way for you to tell the Princess about your plan to fight me. Considering you don’t talk, it would make sense the two of you learned to communicate in different ways and would use that.”
Steadied Precision got up onto his hooves, seemingly crippled. “After relaying your plan it was a simple thing for Cadence to throw up a dust cloud, have you take her shape and then having both of you attack me at different times to maximize your damage to me. It had first struck me as odd that Cadence would not use both her physical and magical attacks against me, considering that could have been very effective. But that would have broken the illusion with your green magic when you struck at me, isn’t that right?" The Capricorn grunted at the pain in his shoulder. "Ugh, if I had known that both of you were attacking I could have defended myself accordingly. Clever little bug.”
Precision cracked his neck and flexed slightly. “Regardless, I will still beat you, and now that your little tricks will not impede me.”
Cadence charged up her horn. “We’ll see about that!”
Before Cadence could go through with her attack, however, the Capricorn charged her with maddening speed and used his still good right hoof to slam into the back of her neck. The sudden trauma to the back of her head caused a chain reaction that resulted in Cadence’s magic shutting down and fizzling to nothing. Precision bit down on Cadence’s mane and tossed her to Shape Shift. The Changeling, not desiring to be crushed by the larger equine, promptly stepped to the side and allowed Cadence to hit the hard ground with a grunt.
“This ends now!” The Capricorn shouted as he ran for the Alicorn and Changeling. Shape Shift grabbed on to Cadence, scared out of his wits.
Cadence turned to the Changeling. “Uh, Shape Shift. What’s the plan?!” Shape Shift thought for a moment before writing something on his board. He showed it to Cadence, the mare’s head went back in disgust. “What?! No! I am not soiling myself in the hopes he’ll be too disgusted to come near me!”
Their options depleted, Cadence and Shape Shift could only watch as the Capricorn was only a few meters from attacking them. Fate, however, was on their side as out of nowhere a tennis ball broke through the ceiling and impacted on Steadied Precision’s head with incredible might, forcing the goatfish downward with such power it created a half-foot crater.
Cadence and Shape Shift lay on the ground, their eyes wide and mouths agape as far as physically possible. Shaking her head to escape the stupor, Cadence looked at the crater only a few meters away. “W-Well, that was rather… convenient.”
AND ANTI-CLIMATIC, read Shape Shift’s board.
“Where in the world did that even come from?” Cadence asked, looking between the tennis ball and the hole in the ceiling.
Crystal Empire, The Palace Exercise Courts
The spectators and competitors’ necks were cocked back far, trying desperately to locate where the ball had been hit. Prince Regent Shining Armor and his Crystal Guard lieutenant Dazzling Amethyst had their mouths agape, unable to believe they had lost another ball. That was the thirtieth one today!
“Does this mean we receive a point?” Luna asked, her tennis racket swishing around in her magic.
The Lunar Guard Captain, Fading Moonlight, coughed to get his Princess’s attention. “Umm… no M’lady. I’m pretty sure that’s a strike against us.”
Luna looked at her Captain. “What?! How?! Did I not hit the small ball back to Prince Armor and his partner when it came over to our side?”
Shining Armor sighed heavily, turning to Luna. “Princess Luna, the point is to send the ball back to us in a way that makes it impossible to make a good return.”
Luna nodded. “Indeed! And have I not done that? Can you effectively return that ball?”
Shining’s eyes rolled. “No. But you have restrictions too. Your ball still has to be in the court for it to count. Needless to say, your ball was out.”
“I think it went into orbit.” Lieutenant Amethyst said; her head still cocked back searching for the MIA tennis ball. “Maker, I hope it doesn’t fall back down and hit somepony.”
“This game is stupid and in no way fun.” Luna pouted, turning her head up in disgust.
Shining face-hoof’d and sighed again. “You’re the one that wanted your guard to go up against my guard as soon as you got here. Maybe, if you had waited, you would be able to learn the rules of all the games we were playing.”
“Rule one:” Amethyst began as she looked towards Luna. “Don’t use your godlike strength to send the ball into low orbit.”
“Details.” Luna said in an unimpressed manner. The mare grabbed another tennis ball from off the court. “Now, let us continue from where we left off!” Luna threw the ball to Shining.
Shining shook his head. “Alright, fine. Let’s continue. Let's see... one hundred eighty three serving zero, Crystal Guard.”
Dazzling Amethyst sighed. “Maybe we shouldn’t have made this game to until Princess Luna scores…”