Fan fiction by Grey McBoyd
A Paragon on Departure
“Hurry up Twilight, we’re gonna be late!” Spike called to Twi from the front door of the Library.
It was the next day, and Twi was frantically combing out her mane in preparation for Doc’s farewell. She was excited to go and see him for this last time, but a constant lump wouldn’t cease to sit in her throat, even after the talk she and Doc had the day prior. This now legendary friend of hers would be leaving for a whole year of her life, twelve long months, three-hundred and sixty-five boring days without her new best friend. She couldn’t shake the sadness that welled up in her gullet and danced in her stomach, but she knew she was far from actual sadness, at least for the moment. She ran down to the foyer, all combed, prepped and happily saying “Ready!” to Spike, who had already opened the door for her. Although, before they actually left the building, Twi halted as she remembered something.
“Oh! One moment Spike” she said before running back down into her lab.
She grabbed her saddlebags off of her desk and slung them onto her spine, only one side noticeably heavier than the other.
“Okay, now I’m ready!” she said after running back up to Spike.
He could already tell that her bag contained the little project that she had worked tirelessly on to give to Doc. He was glad she didn’t forget it, especially after so much work. They walked into the square, just as they had done seven days ago, to see Doc nearby his caravan, knelt in front of a practical mountain of large black bags. He packed them with dismantled pieces of equipment as he smiled, occasionally turning to talk to Twi’s friends who had gathered just behind him. It was the usual gang of mares Twi could recognize from a mile away, but as she squinted and leaned her neck in closer, she noticed the absence of a certain pink-pigmented pony and the gentle giant, Big Macintosh, standing in her place. But Twi continued on towards them all the same, trotting up to the team without being noticed, hearing them all laugh lightly at what might have been a joke from Doc. The two entered the conversation with Spike starting.
Followed by Twi finishing.
“What’d we miss?”
They all turned to them, and their already joyous smiles grew even wider. All usual greetings were passed through and through, along with Twi greeting Mac for the first time since the incident at the farm. While pulling on the belt-like strap of a bag after fiddling with it forcefully, Doc looked up to Twi and Spike before speaking.
“I’m so glad you two could make it.”
“Same here.” responded Twi, “Spike almost thought we were gonna be late.”
“You kidding?” asked Doc, “I would never leave without saying a proper goodbye to such a well-found friend.”
“And definitely not without saying bye to all the ponies who helped you find her.” Dash remarked, thrusting herself into the conversation with a proud hoof on her chest, accompanied by her usual, sly smile.
“Yes, you too Dashie. How could I ever forget about you?”
The sarcastic look on Doc’s face and the tone in his voice could have been palpable to the deaf and dumb, causing Dash to beam him a solid glare. He chuckled through a smile as he looked to the stare out of the corner of his eye, turning back to concentrate on what looked like the straining task of packing. Doc didn’t break a sweat as he pulled the leather straps past his shoulders and let them fall again, returning to various fumbling with buckles among the many pieces of luggage that lay outside the caravan. Twi looked amongst the paraphernalia, noticing its immense quantity, strange variety and one peculiar fact.
“By the way Doc,” she asked while cocking her head sideways, “why are you packing outside of the caravan?”
“I tried packing inside while talking to everypony…” he answered before looking away from his intense effort against the luggage to look at Twi, motioning his right hoof in a straight, minor turn from left to right before remarking, “Couldn’t be done.”
“He simply could not get a sentence out without having to stop and come to the counter. Poor dear, having to bear such a burden.” Rarity verbalized with imposing and disquieting resonance.
“*snicker* I’m flattered Rare, really, but it’s alright.” Doc reassured the dramatic mare, looking up to her over his shoulder from his completed work.
He stood up, scratching the back of his neck and surveying the wagon’s roof.
“I needed to load these on the top of the caravan anyway.” he remarked, “Having them out here just saves me time.”
He smiled at them again before lobbing a bag up to the caravan’s roof, allowing the, what appeared to be, fifty-pound clump of assorted commodities to land safely on the roof without so much as a light thud.
“Oh, allow me to help.” said Twi before she began lifting one of the bags with an aura of telekinetic magic.
“Please,” Doc said as he held up a hoof in her direction, “it’s the last day I see you for a while, no need to strain yourself. Besides,” he chucked a bag over the last and onto the roof with a grunt, “I kinda like the physical labor. When you’re able to use magic as an earth pony,” he repeated the same action, “you get used to not doing a lot.”
As she saw him toss another bag up, she could see the little smile he had modestly hung on his face. Twi didn’t know this exactly, but Doc was glad to have friends who cared about him and would simply give help whenever needed. Twi was a little glad she didn’t have to help him though. The bags were much heavier than they looked, so just lifting the end of one of them a few feet into the air left her on the brink of strain, just enough to hide it, but more than enough to cause slight exhaustion. It was just then that they heard Pinkie Pie, the only one absent in their group, happily yell Doc’s name from several feet behind them. They all veered their attention to her voice, widening their eyes in surprise to see an absolutely gigantic crowd of ponies standing behind her, smiling, but not as much as the pink-tinted mare practically leading them. Doc ungripped a bag he held in his fore-hooves, letting it hit the dirt carelessly as a baffled smile flew across his muzzle. He attempted to speak several times, which only ended in gleeful stuttering until he finally worded out his next sentence while gesturing with his hooves.
“Wh-when did you all get here?!” he said before breaking out in astonished laughter.
Everypony smiled even wider at such a joyous remark. Most of them were glad to be there for the reason Pinkie was just about to explain. With that bounce in her voice that she only gets when a party is in its preparation, she responded to his question.
“I held a “See ya later” party and invited everypony in Ponyville! What do ya think?”
Doc simply stood there and scanned the crowd with his eyes frantically, a wide beam on his muzzle. It really was every single pony in town. How Pinkie was able to organize this was insane.
“How did you do this?!” he asked in turn.
“I got a little help from a certain somepony.” she replied before stepping to the side and letting the Mayor herself step up from behind her.
“Doctor.” the Mayor announced with a friendly, but reminiscently calm smirk.
Doc let his forelegs limply relax in front of him in surprise of her presence, but only for a moment before he remembered her profession and how he should show respect. Chuckling for a second, then clearing his throat, he stood up straighter before speaking with a much calmer inflection.
“Ms. Mayor. It is good to see you.”
“Are you always going to address me formally?”
“Force of habit, Ma’am.” he replied with a smile, rolling his eyes to the sky and shrugging innocently.
The Mayor snickered, her eyes closed as she shook her head lightly and slowly lowered it. Now with her head slightly facing the ground, she opened her eyes and sighed before she looked at Doc from the top of her eye sockets and asked with a smile.
“Will you ever let formalities go and just be yourself for once?”
“Maybe,” he slyly replied, “but I maaayyy need some convincing.”
“*heh*,” the Mayor sounded before she motioned with her foreleg to the crowd behind her, happily asking, “And this isn’t convincing enough?!”
The crowd followed her implying statement by leaning some of their heads in to add pressure on Doc, but all for not as he inquisitively sounded while looking to the top corner of his eyes.
He paused for a second, then looked to the Mayor and the crowd behind her, finishing with a smile on his face.
“I guess you’ll all do.”
Everypony laughed, glad to see that Doc really appreciated what they had done, but always had time for a joke or two.
“So, Ms. Scroll.” asked Doc, “What honor do I have of you,” he looked amongst the audience of friends behind her, “and everypony here coming to visit little old me?”
“You know you deserve it doctor.” she replied, “Almost everypony here knows about you and the things you do for us. Everything you’ve done to help this town is more than deserving of a reward, and that only accounts for your personal assistance. Practically everypony here has either purchased or used something you’ve made for them. You are an incredible help, doctor, and we all would like to give you our thanks.”
She looked over to Pinkie as she continued.
“Miss Pie and I orchestrated this event, passing out invitations and such. Everypony was surprisingly happy to attend. It…gladdened me to see so many ponies with real appreciation for what you do. So, on behalf of everypony here, I beg of you to give us some time to talk and bid you a humble farewell, for now. Will you have us?” That last sentence of her speech was asked in a surprisingly more timid and friendly fashion than anypony in town had ever heard her speak in. Everypony in the crowd could be seen happily tensing in anticipation of his answer, so he tapped his chin with a “thoughtful” hoof, merely teasing them as he had already decided. After a moment, he finally answered them with a simple shrug and smirk.
“Aaahhh what the hay, why not?”
Suddenly, they all sort of sprang out towards him, but in a some-what calm and orderly fashion so that nopony would get trampled in the excitement. In a few minutes, Twi and everypony in the group was swallowed up by the crowd, separated from Doc in all the excitement. As Twi tried to work her way closer to him, she could occasionally see him through the crowd, taking a picture with somepony, giving a hug, high-hoof, or even an autograph. She worked her timid way through the herd to get to him, possibly talk and congratulate him on being the “life of the party”, although, her mission was actually to make sure all this wasn’t going to his head. She lightly nudged two ponies’ shoulders to the side to see a colt, cinnamon-colored with a short, frizzy and unruly mane of a sandy-tan, wearing glasses and a green tie, shaking Doc’s hoof intensely as he thanked him for something.
Doc put his hoof on the colt’s shoulder as he replied to his thanks.
“Please, I’m just doing my job.” he said humbly, “It was my pleasure to give you that medicine for your wife. Saving ponies lives is just what I’m here to do.”
“Oh, thank you still, sir.” the colt replied in a happy, nervous voice.
“Please,” Doc responded, “call me Doctor or Doc, everypony else does. Oh and also, please say hi to your wife for me and give her my best wishes.”
“Gladly…doctor.” the pony said before running off through an open space in the surrounding crowd.
Twi was glad; she could see that the smile on Doc’s face was a humble, experienced joy rather than a prideful one. The bumps of Doc’s cheeks rose under his eyes as he smiled and cocked his head in a slight tilt, watching the kind colt dash off. A little while later, the crowd shifted their focus from Doc to talking more amongst themselves in little groups, just like any party waiting for its main event. Nopony actually left though, they all waited patiently for Doc’s farewell like true and loyal friends, far and wide. Working her way closer to Doc past group after group of ponies, Twi finally reached him and saw that he was sitting on one of his large bags rather than loading it…holding a silver flask in his right hoof and smiling as he looked out amongst the crowd. As always, Twi immediately assumed the worst as she saw this, thinking he had secretly been a compulsive drinker this entire time, not so much upsetting her as piquing her curiosity. So, she snuck up on his right and sat down next to him with a thump against the bag, alertedly catching his attention as he straightened up and looked at her.
“Oh hey Twi, what’s up?” Doc asked, relaxing as he realized it was her before he took a casual swig from his flask.
“Not much. What’cha drinkin’?” she asked childishly.
“Oh, do you remember a few days ago at Sweetapple Acres when I mentioned that I keep a flask of milk with me at all times?”
“Oh yeah, you did.” Twi responded, “Well that’s good. I almost mistook you for a drinker when I saw you with it.”
“Well…” he replied, “I won’t deny that I enjoy the occasional shot every now and then, but yeah, I don’t drink all the time. I just like to drink this stuff for all the upsides it gives. Stronger bones and what not.”
He took another casual swig and looked back out into the crowd.
“Awesome!” Twi happily replied, “Anywho, can you believe how many ponies are here for your departure?”
“Yeah, I know…” he answered before looking into the crowd and holding the mouth of the flask an inch away from his lips.
“I know” was all he said, and in a way that sounded like it pulled at his heartstrings just thinking about it. Twi leaned a little bit forward to get a clearer look of his face, but before she could say or ask anything, he finished his sentence before taking another sip of his milk.
“…and I love it.”
“What do you mean?” Twi asked.
“I mean that, Twi, standing right before us is another gigantic reason for why Ponyville is so great!”
He took a longer swig of milk, wiped his muzzle with his foreleg, then continued after exhaling happily.
“I’m just an everyday trader doing what I can to help and this is the kind of praise I get! Literally everypony in town came here simply because two ponies asked them to! All I do is help a little here and there, and yet, all these ponies make me feel like some sort of hero. They just…*sigh* really know how to make somepony like me feel appreciated.”
“But you deserve it, Doc!” Twi added, “You say that stuff like you aren’t a hero, but you are! I mean, you sell elixirs that ponies like that light-brown colt needed, you miraculously fixed Big Macintosh’s leg with your weird ‘earth-pony magic’, you were great friends with Zecora back in her homeland, you apparently know the Mayor like a best friend, and most of all, the way you spoke of changing the world and making it a better place was just phenomenal! All I’ve seen you do since we met is nothing but give and give and give. So for once, everypony just wants to give back. So relax! This is your party, so its about time you enjoyed an old-fashioned bit of thanks from us ordinary townsfolk.”
As Twi said “about time”, she gave Doc a classic, light sock in the shoulder, showing a spunkier side of herself with which Doc was unaware.
“*heh* Thanks Twi.” he responded, “Like I said, I just do what I can.”
Before they could continue, they heard a familiar colt’s voice call to them from their right.
They turned in its direction, surprised to see Soarin and Spitfire, Doc’s newest Wonderbolt friends standing next to each other without any uniform on or goggles hanging from there necks. Spitfire’s hair was back to its previous hang, showing that she came to this party relaxed, a good sign for a new friend. Doc was elated to see them here and, needless to say, Twi was downright flabbergasted to see the very stars of the Wonderbolts present at this celebration. More amazing to Twi is the noticeable friendship they had with Doc, who was closing the flask of milk, putting it back in one of his pockets and hopping off the bag to trot closer to the famous mare and colt that just made this “party” a whole lot more interesting.
“I can’t believe you two made it!” Doc mentioned jovially as he trotted closer to them.
He bumped hooves with Soarin and hugged Spitfire as they responded in turn.
“Are you kidding?”
“We wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
Twi followed Doc’s motions, hopping off the bag and trotting closer to them, the dumbfounded look still evident on her face.
“You guys actually took two days in a row from your vacation just to come see me? You’re the best!” Doc said jovially.
“Ah it’s nothin’.” responded Soarin who motioned with his left hoof dismissively, then looped his right foreleg around Spitfire’s shoulders as he continued, “Besides, we’ve still got most of our two months left! Well, now just one month because of the little deal we made yesterday.”
Doc’s head sunk into his shoulders as Soarin emphasized with a glare and a forward lean of his neck, then returned to his normal self by bringing his head back up high and looking to the upper-right corners of his eyes as he continued in a sighing voice.
“Other than that, it’s mostly just practice and goofing around.” he said, “Some vacation huh?”
“Yeah,” Spitfire added, “but we thought we might as well miss a practice session for your goodbye party.”
“Thanks…” Doc said in a slight, appreciative and humble slump. He gave his head a minor tilt after a short pause, then finished with a smile, “…it really means a lot.”
“Catch you later, Doc. We have some autograph hounds to get back to in the crowd.” concluded Soarin.
He turned halfway around, stopped to give Doc a salute with a flick from his eyebrow with his free hoof, then finished turning and melted into the crowd with his sun-colored teammate. Twi looked at Doc with inquisitive astonishment, so he simply told her before she could ask any questions.
“Just ask Dashie about yesterday and you’ll understand.”
All other seven of Doc and Twilight’s Ponyville friends, including Mac and Spike, came forward from the crowd to form their own group of conversation.
“So amazing that the situation of a place could change so fast, don’t you think?” Fluttershy stated quietly as she joined the circle.
“Yeah, isn’t it awesome!?” Pinkie replied with a joyous hop before she spoke swiftly, “I wanted to make sure Doc’s goodbye party was as fantastically big as it could get! The Mayor sure had a good idea with this one!”
“Oh, this whole thing was The Mayor’s idea?” Doc asked.
“You bet!” Pinkie answered “She thought of everything! Inviting everypony, when to surprise you, how to surprise you …”
As she rambled on, a reminiscent smirk slowly climbed its way up Doc’s left cheek. He tilted his head slowly to that side, following his smirk at the pace it rose. He looked at Pinkie as she continued frantically, but her explanations quickly became muffled to his ears as his perception slowly crept into a small, personal bubble around him. Everything was blurred in his eyes as he watched her for several more seconds, then looked at the ground before him in his own little world, chuckling and speaking to himself with a sigh.
“So even after all these years, she really hasn’t changed…”
He snapped himself out of his trance and turned to Twi alertedly as she finished her question.
“…are you okay?”
“I’m fine…just…thinking.” he responded before they redirected their attention to Pinkie, listening as she finished her explanation at the same unnaturally quick pace she had started with.
“…and I can’t believe she thought of that as a hiding method but we used it and now, here we are!”
She gave a fan-mare squeal before continuing.
“I’m just so glad we could make this happen. I haven’t been this excited during a party since the one I held to welcome Twilight into town…or maybe I was, but I don’t care! This is the best parties ever!” she finished with a smile and closed eyes as she began hopping around in a playful circle.
“Pinkie…” Dash remarked in an annoyed tone, “every party is the best party ever to you.”
“Oh yeah, *giggle* I guess I forgot!” she replied before grinning innocently.
They all laughed, and the friendliness of the situation reminded Twi of a certain something she had planned for that day.
“Oh, by the way Doc,” she said, getting his attention, “I made a little something for you.”
She opened one side of her saddle bags with her mouth and pulled out its only contents, a single dark green bottle, and gave it to Doc. He took it lightly with a free hoof and looked at it as Twi continued.
“It’s a brew that I sort-of based off of your healing magic. It doesn’t fully fix a wound though, more-so that it just sews it back together for a few hours before it wears off. It’s not perfect, but I did what I could in the time I had. Whad’ya think?”
He popped out the cork that was tightly stuck in the top, put the mouth of the bottle an inch or two from his snout and wafted the scent that erupted from it. He shot his head back slightly and shook his head from the intense smell before he remarked on it happily.
“Wow!” he said, “This might even be better than some of the stuff I make. Thanks!”
“My pleasure.” she replied.
Doc sighed a little loudly through his nose as his shoulders sunk, but his hoof and the bottle he held in it remained in place before he looked up at the group of friends before him.
“Wow…holding me parties, giving me gifts…with friends like you,” he grinned widely and closed his eyes, “what more could I ask for?”
“Mister Doctor!” rose a highly pitched, ecstatic voice from above the crowd.
They all looked at an upward angle in its direction to see a grey pegasus with a mane of dulled champagne and a mail mare’s saddlebags, dive-bombing straight for the group’s center. Most of them jumped back just in time as to not be plowed into the dirt by this strange mare’s speed, but Doc remained still with a small smile unchanged by the dusty collision the mare made against the dirt in front of them. The tanish-grey smoke of the dust cloud cleared to show that strange mare rubbing her head with a smile, accompanied by her tongue playfully sticking out of the side of her mouth.
“Hey Derpy. Still working on your landing, I see?” Doc asked casually.
“Yup!” she replied childishly as she spun her head in his direction and opened her eyes, revealing the right one as it gazed at the center of her eyebrows, while the other was locked on the tip of her nose.
This made Twi’s eyebrows raise in absolute surprise as her head instinctively leaned backwards, then everypony else in the group reacted the exact same way as this mare named Derpy turned her gaze to their direction.
“Yeah, that’s how everypony reacts the first time.” she responded in that still childlike, high pitched and enjoyable voice.
“Anywho, I brought you a letter!” she said as she got up, faced Doc, opened her mail bag and pulled out an envelope with her mouth, horribly muffling the words “express delivery” before Doc took it from her muzzle.
“Any more deliveries for the day?” Doc asked calmly before he gained slight joy from her answer.
“Nope! So now I can stay and enjoy your farewell party. See ya later, Mister Doctor!” she concluded before trotting off into the bulk of the crowd.
“What a strange mail mare.” Twi thought curiously, the rest of the group incomprehensibly locking their eyes on her as she trotted away.
“A combination of Pinkie’s energy and Dash’s speed...”
Twi finally spoke her thoughts to Doc.
“Doctor…out of all the friends you have, I never knew you had ones that could be so…‘interesting’.”
“And you’re one to talk, Ms. Sparkle!” he replied mockingly. “*heh* Anyways,” he held the letter in front of him, saying to the group, “let’s see what we have here.”
He went over to another one of his bags and sat on it with a happy plop, opening the envelope as everypony in their little crew crowded behind his shoulders, expecting a letter of fare tidings or something like that from somepony in town who couldn’t make it to the party. But Doc opened the envelope and pulled out a small piece of folded parchment, curiously unfolding it and revealing…a very strange picture. On the paper was a square that took up most of the writing space. In it were two diagonal lines that connected the corners of the square and one line that ran up and down its middle. There was a circle in the center of the square and four other, smaller ones on the diagonal lines between the middle circle and the corners, all other circles equally spaced. To the group, it appeared to be some kind of ancient symbol or weird drawing, but that thought fled most of their minds as they heard Doc whisper deeply under his breath, the kind of tone you have when you’re in absolute terror evident in his next, unsettling words.
Suddenly, the cartoony and childish feel of the scene changed drastically to one of serious, troublesome bustling. Doc suddenly sprang from the bag, grabbed it hastily, ran over to the caravan, threw it up in a sort of panic and began repeating this process with the several remaining bags that were waiting to be loaded. As he cast the bags with haste and carelessness, Dash asked him in a very concerned tone.
“What’s wrong? It’s just a picture.”
He replied with a rushed, terrorized tone as he grabbed the last two bags at once and suddenly threw them to the pile that had been sloppily made on the wagon’s canopy.
“I’m sorry guys, *throwing grunt* but I have to get out of here NOW!”
He grabbed an elongated belt looking strap off the ground next to one of the caravan’s wheels and slung it over the top of the caravan.
“Why?” Twi asked worriedly as Doc desperately reached under the belly of the carriage to get the other end of the strap, “I thought you’d stick around for a while before you had to-”
She was interrupted as he grasped the other strap end and pulled it up to the buckle that had hung in front of him on the caravan’s wall. He slipped it through and began fumbling with it nervously as he interrupted Twi.
“I’m sorry Twi, I really want to, but I have to leave now or else-”
Doc froze, his eyes opened as wide as possible. He shivered as the words he almost said halted in his throat with a gurgle through his barely parted lips. This happened as he heard those words eerily spoken from across the crowd, but it was unlike the rest of the loud chatter that ran amongst the crowd members. The voice was heard much more clearly than anypony else, as if it had a sort of passive authority to it that cut through everypony’s conversations like a knife, catching all of their attentions and quickly bringing the entire town square to a dead silence. The voice sounded professional and composed, but carried an unpleasant resonance in it that delved deep into one’s body, making most of the ponies there shiver unexpectedly, like they somehow knew who the voice was, but were strangely scared of who it belonged to. This feeling, and the clarity of the voice over everypony else, scared Twi, leaving her and the rest of the group with no clue to whom it could be. They looked in the direction of the voice after noticing Doc’s reaction, and what they saw would soon become far more important in all of their futures than they thought, and in many more ways than one.
As the crowd backed away in what appeared to be sudden fear, Twi and the group saw a trio of stallions that were absolutely different from any they had ever seen in their entire lives. The one on the left of the trio had a coat of a darkly-shaded red, almost resembling blood. His incredible height was a little shorter than Celestia herself, but was perfectly balanced with his entire body rather than having all of his height in his legs. His mane frayed backwards like that of Soarin’s and possessed a deeper shade of red than the color of his coat. His face looked stern and furious, showing a thick, X shaped scar barely missing his left eye at the tear duct and spreading out across his face. Yet, rather than having a piercing scowl, as most would expect, his expression showed more of a tempered, controlled anger as he trotted like the worn, military Clydesdale he appeared to be. Twi saw that one of his ears had a large, scarred split running down to its center and the other had a tip that was horribly jagged, most likely battle scars like the one across his face, no doubt. He wore a large cargo vest, lined to the brim with pockets for anything he might need and showing the same shade of red as his mane.
But out of all these intimidating details, two stood out that were just plain abnormal. Behind him, some terrifyingly large and unrecognizable object was being dragged in his wake, about the size of a boulder and shaped as if it had large blades sticking outwards from a cylindrical center, like that of a flanged mace. The other distinctive feature was, much like Doc’s distinctive feature, his eyes. Despite the distance, Twi could see every detail of them perfectly, but horribly regretted it as she realized their appearance. His eyes almost seemed to be pitch black in their irises, the only difference being what looked like the design of a blood splatter inside them, broken by the pupil in their centers and contained by the normal, achromic sclera that surrounded the designs. Although, despite its limits, the blood smear that laced these strange irises really got to Twi, and to anypony else that looked directly into them, making Twi sink her head down and take a step back, not to say everything else about this tank of a horse that strode towards them didn’t.
She looked to the other side of the trio, entirely skipping over the center stallion for a split second. At that side, she saw a stallion with a coat of coal-black and a height that stood at just a little over her own, about the size of an average colt. His mane was a sickly-bright, neon green, same color as the spiked tail that pointed outwards from the base of his spine. His mane looked more like that of a business colt, but smoothly stuck outward to a jagged point only a few inches farther than his muzzle. His ears looked menacing as they curved and pointed at the tip, almost like horns, always perked, alert and listening. He wore a work shirt almost identical to Doc’s, the difference being its color, the same pitch black as his coat, just as Doc’s shirt was the same white as his. His right sleeve was rolled up past his elbow while the other remained flat along his foreleg, and the tie around his neck was the same bright green as his mane.
This colt also had two distinctive features, one of which, severely caught Twi off guard the moment she saw him. It was the fact that she could see four gigantic insect wings, like that of a locust, protruding from his back vertically, while the other feature was once again, like Doc and the red stallion, his eyes. Their designs could be compared to Gummy’s exotic eyes, the only possible difference being the color to show the same vibrant green as the only other colorful parts of his body. His face was nowhere near as deadpan as the red stallion, but still as intimidating with a truly devilish smile, stretching the skin on the ends of his mouth in a demented, conniving happiness. She had no idea who these colt’s were, but she was already scared of the first two she saw.
“What kind of pony could be leading these two monsters?” she thought before quickly looking to their centers, and finding out.
In the middle of these two things stood what seemed to be their boss, but this one stallion got into Twi’s head more than any of them. He had a coat that appeared almost dead, the same green-grey as a decaying body or of old bones. His mane was slicked back, running along an extremely acute V on his hair line and draping ever so slightly behind his neck, like a curtain of a lighter greyish-green than the one his coat so terrifyingly beared. His ears were different from most ponies, constantly laying down as if to match his slender hair style and shape of his head. She was amazed he could hear with those kinds of ears, but continued surveying him all the same. He wore a full pinstriped suit, complete with a vest and tie, all of the colors identical to that of his mane, with an unusual, slightly-large hour glass hanging off of one of his belt loops by a gold ring. His evil smile was only half the size of the black stallion’s on his left, but all these things came in second to what Twi noticed the most, which were, once again, two distinctive features.
The first was that she looked down at the ends of the stallion’s forelegs and saw not just regular old hooves…but gloves…ones with hands and five fingers in them, opposed to the common three fingers and thumb found on most dragons or gryphons. Such a thing looked more than alien, but did not catch Twi’s mind for long, for after her millisecond inspection of this stallion, she noticed his other distinctive feature that chilled her body to the core. Just as the others and Doc…it was his eyes. No sea of sclera or iridescent iris…just two orbs, raven, the color of a starless midnight sky with a small gleam on them from the overhead sun. She felt them bore into her very soul as they all marched closer, but not before she heard the middle one speak. It was the same voice they had all just heard a moment ago. With a moderately deep and professional tone containing a hint of villainous humor, he finished what he said in Doc’s direction, with vicious, pointed teeth lining his frightening mouth.
“…‘tis been a long time.”
Twi and the group responded in their own ways. Mac got into a sort of defensive stance as the other girls hid behind him. Everypony in the crowd began whispering questions amongst each other in surprise of Doc knowing these stallions, and vice-versa. The trio stopped their forward march relatively at the other side of the square, lining up side by side as they faced Doc, Twi and all their friends. The grey stallion spoke once more, leaning his head a little to the left as if to emphasize his gaze at the group that nervously stood behind Doc.
“I can see you’ve made friends…*sigh* as usual.”
Doc retracted his mouth from its slightly gaped position, compressing it inwards, closing his eyes and letting his forehead hit the side of the caravan as he heard this voice continue. The grey stallion spoke again, a hint of innocent request now hanging on his vile tone.
“I still don’t see why you try to reach out to these lesser beings. You have all you could ever need for friends right here!” This stallion twisted his…hands to palms up, giving emphasis to himself and his pair of goons while keeping his strange sights locked on Doc. Doc’s expression slowly began to change to one of fury, the bridge of his nose and the space between his eyes wrinkling as his joyful muzzle turned up a deep, scolding frown. He spoke to himself, eyes closed, making sure it resonated as a whisper but was still audible to the trio.
He swung in their direction, eyes blazing open and his head lowered to bare his shoulders as yelled, loud, clear and furious.
“EVER!…refer to us as friends!”
Twi jumped at his tone. She had never seen him so angry before, no longer sounding controlled and leader-like as he does in most situations, but sounding terrifying and impatient, like he was just plain tired of these ponies and whatever they had to say.
“*tisk tisk tisk* Temper, temper…” the grey stallion replied without an ounce of fear, “We haven’t seen you in years and this is how you greet us?! I was expecting, ‘Oh hey guys, it’s been so long. Glad to see you’re doing okay…’”
He sounded a little impatient and disappointed for his next words.
“I thought you were better than that…guess I was mistaken.”
Doc still chanted, sounding vicious and irritated, as if these stallions’ very presences began to claw at the inner-workings of his mind.
“After what you’ve done, do you really think you deserve such respect?!”
The grey stallion responded with a short, insulting chuckle before continuing.
“Well I’d sure hope so.” he said, “Despite what you think, our actions have done you far more good than anything else we could have done.”
Doc’s boiling demeanor deepened even further before he responded.
“Don’t you dare try to justify what you did! Everything you did to those ponies…all the pain…”
His voice turned into more of a growl as he took an intimidating step forward.
“All of it,” responded the grey one, a golden trim of pride now lining his horrid words, “for your greater good. It may seem like we enjoy this, Conquest, but we have no greater interest than what is best for you.”
“If you idiots even had a clue of what was best for me,” Doc spouted back, “you would take your meat-headed, blabber-mouthing, older-than-dirt asses and drag them back to the pool of scum you came from!”
The stallion took no offense at this, but simply chuckled a little behind his sharpened teeth as he gave Doc an amused look, followed by him saying in a slightly proud tone.
“*sigh* Still spry as ever, I see…”
He chuckled a few more times before continuing in a tone of innocent request.
“But come on Conquest, at least say ‘Hi’! We’ve missed you!”
“That’s not my name, you freak!”
The movement of the sun’s reflection off the grey stallion’s black eyes and the small circular spin of his head showed that he gave his eyes a judgmental and disapproving roll.
“Another name change, how exciting.” he said sarcastically, “So, what silly persona have you plagued yourself with this time, Conquest?”
“My name, you bag of bones, is Doc…and that’s how it always will be!”
“Doc?” he asked curiously, “*hmm* Short for ‘doctor’, I presume. Fitting…alright then boys.”
He snapped his fingers and ordered to his henchponies.
“Greet the doctor, if you would.”
Twi saw the red stallion simply look over to Doc after giving his attention to his boss, nodding his head down an inch and a half in a recognizing, kind-of respectful fashion. Doc gave recognition to this by simply looking to him, not changing his furious expression but giving him notice that this gesture mattered. A second later, Doc averted his attention to the black stallion as he threw his neck forward like some sort of jackal and widened his terrifying simper, yelling at Doc in a young, thick, Trottingham accent.
“Nice ta see ya lookin’ well Conquest! ‘Ow ya been?!”
A moment later, the stallion pulled his head back slightly, looked away and swung a dismissive hoof as he continued insultingly.
“Aw, what am I sayin’? I don’t ca’e. But back to the subject! When are ya gonna stop bein’ such a bloody nuisance an’ join us again? We may have all the time in the world, but we’re startin’ ta lose our patience!”
Doc gave recognition of hearing this idiotic chant by deepening the anger of his brow and frown, as if looking to the black one made him angrier, then quickly returning his spiteful gaze to the trio’s center.
“That’ll be all, boy.” the grey stallion said to the black stallion, then turned back to Doc and clapped his hands together, saying, “So! Now that we have greetings out of the way, let’s get down to business. Just come with us, and we might not do the same thing here as we have done to all the other quaint, little stops that you love so much.”
Twi could hear Doc grit his teeth and growl at them. In the midst of this stalemate Twi finally built up the courage to speak.
“Wh…what does he mean by the same thing?” she asked Doc timidly.
The grey stallion perked his ears up only slightly from their down position with a twitch and a surprised expression, then leaned to his left once again to look around Doc and at Twi, saying in a voice like a creepy adult overseeing a small child with a smile, lined with his pointed teeth.
“Oh and who’s this? A friend of yours?”
He looked her over for only a second, then widened his smile and sighed out of his nose before continuing.
“She’s a beautiful little flower. Perfect for somepony like you.”
Twi put a concerned hoof to her muzzle and looked to this thing as it spoke. She could still feel his melanoid eyes bore into her soul, plus his tone and “compliment” didn’t help the creepy factor. To steady herself, she moved closer to Doc, placed a hoof on his shoulder and asked him with a terrified voice.
“Doc…who are these ponies?…Why do they keep calling you ‘Conquest’?...What do they want?”
He turned to her, breaking his crossed expression as to not scare her and changing it to one of surprise, eyes open and mouth still slightly agape. The grey one heard her question, thought for a second, and then spoke quietly.
He squinted and leaned in a little towards her, then continued by excitedly asking Doc,
“She doesn’t know, does she?!”
He threw his head back and laughed maniacally for several seconds straight into the air, each devious chuckle making everypony shiver with its devilish sound as it polluted the air around him with uneasiness. He brought his head back down to level and spoke as he sighed from laughter.
“That’s so like you! not giving your friends the respect of telling them the truth.”
He sighed once more before turning his head to the red one and casually giving him a generally disturbing order.
They looked to the crimson clydesdale as he raised his right hoof slowly to the level of his eyes, then brought it down to shoulder level instantly with a focused expression as his hoof spawned a ball of fire an inch away from his palm. Everypony in the crowd and in the group had stepped back slightly at this alien sight of earth pony magic, watching the fire for a moment until the red stallion juggled it up and down in the same hoof, looking only amongst Twi’s group of friends. They grew unsettled as the stallion’s sight scanned over each of them, looking almost everypony over before the clydesdale’s sight met with Twi. He looked at her the longest, slowly squinting his eyes before throwing the blazing ball once more into the air, catching it with a flick of his hoof, winding it up like a baseball pitcher and promptly sending it with a flick of his wrists on a collision course with Twi’s head. She froze in fear, only able to watch the miniature sun grow larger and larger as it grew closer and closer. She could hear the crowd gasp and her friends scream at her to move, but her hooves were locked in place like concrete. They watched as the scorching orb grow nearer, and Twi closed her eyes just before the ball contacted in a blaze that burst on impact and spread outwards in a blinding flash. Everypony shielded themselves from the glare and mentally panicked for Twi‘s safety, thinking that the ball of fire had just collided and burned her face horribly. But Twi stood there for a moment, expecting to feel burning all along her upper body, but she didn’t and looked up from her shielding forelegs curiously. She saw a foreleg, visible flesh and bone painfully scorched black in the spot the ball had apparently hit. She looked a little to her left and saw Doc standing there, it was his right foreleg that took the brunt of the blast and was horribly burned beyond repair. He yelled at the trio again after everypony’s realization of Twi’s safety and Doc’s severe injury.
“She, and everypony here have nothing to do with this!” he bellowed, “If you even think, about doing something like that again…”
He retracted his singed foreleg to the front of his shoulder with the crackling sound of burnt skin. A second later, the sounds of moving flesh could be heard as the black flakes of his skin began to fall off, followed by new flesh and skin quickly re-connecting on his foreleg as he continued.
“And I’ll gut you like slimy fish you are!"
The grey one chuckled twice in his own creepy way before speaking again in a satisfied demeanor.
“Very good reflexes, Conquest! ‘Tis nice to know you haven’t mellowed in the time you have spent with these peasants!” He flicked his head sideways as he said peasants, as if pointing a big, fat, insulting finger at everypony in the crowd. Doc began taking several steps towards them as he yelled once more.
“These are my friends!”
As he said friends, he shot his foreleg out in a violent and intimidating point, shattering and shrugging off any of the remaining burn flakes and revealing his foreleg to somehow be fully healed. Incredible, Twi had never seen a recovery from such a bad wound in that amount of time. Even by Doc’s standards, that was completely abnormal, and she didn’t even remember seeing him heal it with magic.
“They are not peasants and they still have nothing to do with us!” Doc continued, “But If it’s a fight you’re looking for…”
He stopped taking the few steps forward and got into an unnatural battle-ready stance for a pony, standing on his hind legs steadily, doubling his height and tensing up the fore-hooves readied a foot from his sides.
“than I’d be happy to oblige!”
The grey one didn’t flinch, just as he hadn’t done this entire scene he had caused. He only allowed a deep smirk to crack along his cheek.
“You know…I might just take you up on that offer.” he replied, “It’s been so long since we’ve sparred together…*sigh* such good memories. But all the same…”
He snapped his fingers once more, and Twi could barely believe any of the events that shortly followed.
She saw the large object behind the red stallion slowly begin to rise. It was being lifted by a thick stalk of something that had the same red color as the stallion’s coat. It hung in the air for a second, allowing Twi to see it actually resembled the head of a gigantic flanged mace before it came to the ground of the red one’s right side with a thundering crash, sending everything that wasn’t fastened to the ground about a foot in the air. The townsfolk gasped, panicked, then calmed themselves as much as possible after landing back on the ground. When Twi rose her vision back up after her split second of free fall, she looked to it again. She was certain now, this thing actually was the head of a flanged mace with ten, battle worn and exotically shaped steel blades, the size of swords, making up its majority, but it was still the size of a small boulder, equaling the carmine stallion in height before he stood up on his own hind legs, allowing him to dwarf everypony’s stature like a furious, living skyscraper.
Behind him was the same cylindrical stalk that Twi saw connecting to the mace, wrapping from the base end of the mace, around his right hind leg and connecting where his tail should be. She realized the truth…this giant cudgel that could crush a pony’s bones in a fraction of a second was this stallion’s tail.
“How could any of this be?” Twi desperately thought. “Were they surgical enhancements? Were these stallions born with these horrific traits? Magic fire balls from an earth pony’s hoof, things like the mace, the black one’s wings, the grey one’s hands, and their insatiable interest in Doc, meaning he has something to do with these abominations…”
All of these different theories and ideas that flooded Twi’s were too much for her to handle. It sent her comprehensive state into a whirlwind, so she couldn’t think straight even if she tried. Still, she persisted her gaze towards them, seeing the black one’s wings start flapping quickly with a loud, deep and terrifying buzz as he lifted himself into the air. She heard the grey one continue speaking after he rose up unto his own hind legs, abnormally towering over everypony there just as his comrades had done and snapping his fingers, ordering to his henchponies mischievously.
They suddenly charged at Doc, the red one sprinting on his hind legs, dragging the stegosaurus-like tail behind him without hesitation as the black one flew beside him at the same pace. Doc did the same towards them, screaming deeply and angrily until they met at a mid-way point between each other. That is when the action began. Just before reaching the halfway point, the red one jumped into the air and spun horizontally, swinging his tail down like a deadly trebuchet. Doc was running towards their center, so he was able to jump to his right and to the black one’s altitude, spinning midair to kick the flying stallion with his left hind leg. The black one blocked it, but the impact sent him several feet backwards to recover with even faster wing flaps. As Doc landed, he reversed the clockwise momentum of his body to spin around and strike the red one with his right fore-hoof. The red one was able to react after his booming miss, blocking the strike with the forearm section of his left foreleg before promptly driving his adjacent hoof into Doc’s stomach, knocking the air out of him loudly. After hammering Doc’s abdomen, the red one spun on his hind-hooves and used the elbow of the same foreleg he struck with to bash into Doc’s bent-over spine, knocking him to the ground. Twi could see the pain in his face after just those two hits. If this kept up under the red stallion’s strength alone, Doc was going to end up dead within minutes. With Doc’s clenched face in the dirt, the red one braced himself and raised his tail up, bringing it down more like a gigantic scorpion than how a mace is supposed to be used. Doc reacted, rolling backwards and out of the way before the bludgeon crashed into the ground on its top with another thundering boom. Doc got back into his abnormal fighting stance in a flash, only to see the mace coming back down once again in his direction. He evaded to his right, tucking and rolling as the mace thundered the soil once more. It came back again, only to miss for a third time as Doc evaded with a much longer roll to his left, bringing him back to the center of the town square. The red one’s already enraged face could be seen getting angrier with each miss he made. So, now angry at all three of his failed attempts, the red one spun clockwise on his hind-hooves like a top, bringing the mace in close as it rotated around him, just missing the nearby crowd by an inch, and swinging outwards as the circumference of the spin approached Doc. Before he could react, the mace hit his torso like a freight train, sending him at least thirty feet backwards across the square. Bones could be heard breaking over the agonizing grunt Doc gave on contact, making the crowd gasp and flinch, and most of all, making Twi and her friends panic and begin to worry for his safety, watching helplessly as their friend was mercilessly beaten. Doc flew back limply across the ring of spectators this conflict had made until he felt the black one’s right hind hoof jab into his spine, the flying demon grinning horrifically at his clever, mid-air backstab. The contact once again broke some of Doc’s bones with loud snaps before he agonizingly fell back to the dirt on his stomach. The black one then flew in a frantic, insect-like hook to his right and kicked him in the spleen like a soccer ball, sending him spinning and tumbling back across the square and returning him to Twi’s side, almost in the exact same spot as when the fight started. Twi looked at his broken body, curled up and clenching his middle tightly, dirt and blood from his many injuries littering his white shirt, one of his spectacles lined with a single, diagonal crack. She looked at him in fear that he was going to die, then looked to the two monstrosities that had caused this. They were standing there, battle-ready and waiting for him to get back up, evenly spaced as to leave what lied farther back completely visible. It was the grey one, standing tall as his hands held onto each other behind his back. He smiled widely, watching this beating take place before him, looking proud of himself, yet not doing a darn thing. His cocky appearance infuriated Twi, the concerned hooves covering her muzzle now lowering and twitching violently as they tensed and tightened like fists. Her crying face turned sour, her eyebrows furrowed and her mouth bared its teeth angrily, until she became the same thing she was when she attempted to understand Pinkie’s sixth sense. It is a rare occurrence of magic for unicorn kind, but a possible one when enough magic is released at once, so much that it is made grandly visible. Her mane and tale went up in magical flames and her coat became a heated, sun-white as her furious, red eyes glared at the grey one. She charged directly at him, yelling much like Doc did, but in her own, high-pitched way, not sounding very intimidating at all. Her stampede caught everypony’s attention from the horrible display that took place in front of them. The group yelled at her to stop and even began to try and chase after her, only to be stopped by Mac’s foreleg. He knew that to chase after her would be just as stupid as following her, but he couldn’t deny his worry that she would get hurt…or worse. Twi charged directly in between the black and red stallions, amazed that they did not try to stop her, but simply stepped aside and watched as she grew closer to the grey one, who kept his head level to her, lowering it as she drew nearer.
“Leave him alone!” she screamed as she got just before him, wound up a punch and sent it directly at him.
It was her first punch ever, and she missed horribly as the grey one dodged to his right in a millisecond, then rammed his left knee into the little mare’s stomach with a loud, merciless thump. She reacted to it painfully, feeling it knock the air out of her and send her middle several inches backwards from her torso. She had never, in her whole life, been hit before, and she never knew it hurt so bad. She fell to the dirt, clenching her middle much like Doc was doing as she attempted to get back up, the bright color and flames quickly dying from her body with every failed attempt. The other two monsters trotted back to the grey one’s sides, nonchalant and happy before Twi heard the grey one shout to Doc.
“You sure have made some good friends, doctor!”
He looked down unto her.
“Foolish, but good all the same! Still…‘tis a shame that they only weigh ponies like you and I down!”
He began taking off one of his gloves.
“So…I’m sorry to say that if you are going to be coming with us once more…”
Twi looked up from her inner agony and saw a horrible sight…the skeleton of a human hand, index finger pointed with a slight bend about a centimeter away from her nose’s bridge, all of his other fingers half-way retracted as she heard him continue.
“…you’re going to have to lose some dead weight!”
Doc, already looking up at him furiously after his assault on Twi, reacted. He stood up after constantly failed attempts, no longer gripping his middle, but just standing on all of his angrily-bent fours as his glare of bared teeth slowly grew larger. He eventually reared up and hollered “NO!” loudly, catching everyponies’, including the three monsters’ attentions before he brought his hooves back down to earth…smashing the dirt underneath him with mighty cracks and a thunderous boom, changing how he appeared to the townsponies and his friends forever. Everypony watched him as four gigantic, dark appendages, like enormous spider legs, shot out of his back and through his shirt, tearing it with a horrible rip as the pointed edges shot skyward. They then bent like a spider’s legs and came down to the ground with four separate booms, furiously stabbing into the dirt on Doc’s sides. The top legs that came from his shoulder blades were long, about eleven feet in length, while the lower ones, coming from behind the base of his rib cage were about eight feet long. Everypony, and I mean everypony except for the three stallions, went pail with fear as they saw their beloved doctor turn into a monster. Black, crooked lines began running along the skin of his legs, exposed torso and face, as if following his veins and arteries, traveling to his hooves that had begun changing as well. They became engulfed in the darkness that ran along his skin, completely blackened from the wrists down, growing three, sharply pointed fingers and a thumb on each hand. Twi watched this transformation take place before her very eyes, chilling her to the core more than anything else she had seen in her entire life. She was watching the very pony she had spent the last week with as a friend, the one that had saved one of her friends’ lives, receive a present from her and talk beautifully of changing the world change into a monster himself…and then it hit her. He was exactly like the three demons that surrounded her, tall, powerful and possessing two distinctive features that could separate them from anypony on Earth. One, could regrettably not be mistaken through his transformation, but the other made itself apparent as she saw him lift up his head, making her shudder with a cold gasp. Doc flicked his head up in their direction, showing his face to be covered in the same lines that crookedly sprawled his body, leading up from his neck and surrounding his eyes, the final distinctive feature. The originally glistening sea of calm sclera was now the same raven as the bloodlines across his body or the…things on his back. Although, the only difference they had from being identical to the grey one’s eyes were the irises that lied in their centers, each having a single ring, scarlet, glowing and focused on the grey one with a murderous, spiteful scowl. Doc stood up on his hind legs again, showing his torn shirt hanging in pieces from his forelegs and waist, his exposed chest now housing a new, terrifying element. A large splotch of darkness lied where his heart was, surrounded by the branching lines that spread out across his body. His heart was the origin of these bloodlines, like pure evil had just replaced his blood, and was now flowing through his veins. Twi tried to see the goodness in him, to look through all these horrible sights and see the happy, traveling merchant she had gotten to know and love like all of her other friends over the past week. But it couldn’t be done, she only saw a monster, suspending the legs that protruded from its back up in the air, clenching its newfound fists and taking several steps forward towards them, involuntarily making the crowd more fearful with every step he took as he preached in a commanding, very intimidating and hate-ridden voice.
“I WONT LET YOU TAKE ANOTHER FRIEND AWAY FROM ME!”
He stopped, prepping himself for some sort of sprint as he jabbed his upper-spider-legs into the ground with another terrifying thud, followed by his lower-spider-legs stabbing the dirt directly behind the upper ones as he whispered loudly.
He launched himself at them with his legs, zeroing his sights on the grey one and bearing his forelegs and dark appendages for a deadly strike as he screamed in a bloody horrifying conclusion.
“AND NOT EVER AGAIN!”
-End of Act I-