The Equestrian Hawk

by Nova Critical

Chapter 2: Cancelled Flights and Plans

"Hey there Mr.Rager," Rainbow Dash said to Hawk as he walked into the room, "she was wondering where you were." By the time Silverstar let out Hawk out of the holding cell, the sun had gone down and the chill of the desert night had taken over the town.

Pup ran across the room, jumped at Hawk and latched onto his neck, dangling from it. She smiled and looked up at him, "Hi."

"Hi yourself. Hope you didn't miss me too much." Hawk greeted, ruffling the feathers on his sister's head. He pushed Pup's body with his left talon, swinging her around so she could stand on his back.

"I reckon I should go check on Braeburn. Make sure he ain't scared to death of ya." Applejack said, "You watch him Rainbow, he's a wily one." She joked. Kind of.

The earth pony left the room, closing the door behind her. The building they were staying in was the best inn Appleloosa had. Pup on his back, Hawk walked around the room, looking at all of the unnecessarily fancy things.

"Seems kind of...."

"Expensive?" Rainbow Dash finished for him, "This is the fanciest one here. Twi figured she could splurge on it, since our trip here's been extended. Thanks to you."

"Damn. How much does Twilight make?" He asked, feeling guilty.

"Enough to take you and Pup in and not complain." Dash responded quickly.

Hawk thought she was acting weird. "Rainbow Dash, is there something wrong?" He wondered, putting Pup on the bed. The little griffon began to jump up and down. She seemed to do that a lot. Probably just anxious to learn how to use her wings.

"You bet there is!" The pegasus snapped at him. "You fought like, four different ponies! And you probably would've fought more if Applejack didn't stop you!"

"Applejack was the one who hit me?"

Rainbow Dash didn't bother answering, "What if she didn't get there in time and you hurt more ponies? Or got hurt yourself...?"

"Dash, always contemplating the 'what if's' is pointless. I didn't hurt anyone too bad, and I'm fine." Hawk said, walking toward Rainbow Dash, "If anything, I should be mad at you. Don't you remember last night? Your recklessness in the outcroppings? You almost died."

Suddenly remembering, the pegasus looked down at the floor. Sighing, she got closer to Hawk, "But you did save me." She said, putting a hoof on his chest.

The tension evaporating, Hawk smiled at her, "Yeah, I guess I did."

"And you did fight a bunch of stallions trying to get me into town." She stated, smiling back at him.

She didn't always have eyes this lovely did she?

"Rainbow Dash, I-"

"There you are!" Twilight exclaimed, bursting into the room. Hawk and Dash both backed a considerable distance from each other, Pup still jumping on the bed. "I've been looking for you."

Hawk cleared his throat, "Hey Twilight. What's up?"

"We need to talk." The unicorn said.

"Yeah, I'm really sorry about earlier today. Thanks for paying the bail."

"Huh? Oh, that. No problem." Twilight replied, dismissing it with a wave of her hoof, "There's something more important. I just got a letter from the Princess. Come to my room, I'll show you it."

No lecture? Whatever the Princess had sent to Twilight must have been quite important for her to just brush off the fact that Hawk had injured a few ponies.

"Uh, okay then. Hey Rainbow? Could you watch Pup?" Hawk knew he didn't need to ask, Dash had already gotten her to stop bouncing on the bed and was showing her wing exercises. She said it'd be at least another year before she could fly, but it couldn't hurt to teach Pup early.

Twilight walked out into the hallway and closed the door once Hawk had stepped out, his door read "9". They walked down the hall until they got to the door marked with a number 6. Opening the wooden door, Hawk looked back at Twilight.

"So what's this about? Princess Celestia sent you a letter?" Twilight had already explained to him about how she and Celestia exchanged letters through Spike. There was one thing though: Spike hadn't come with them to Appleloosa.

"No, not this time," The librarian said, "It isn't from Princess Celestia, it's a letter from Princess Luna."

"What?" Hawk asked, Twilight hadn't told him much about Princess Luna. She controlled the moon, as Celestia raised the sun. Both concepts of which Hawk found ridiculous, but given his current situation, not completely impossible.

"The letter was about you." She voiced, "Princess Luna has been sending me letters ever since you arrived."

"Why? What do I have to do with her?"

Twilight began to look really nervous, "Well, she's the one who-"

A blood-curdling scream interrupted her. There was a loud crash downstairs and a stallion was yelling something incomprehensible before falling abruptly silent.

"What the hell was that?" Hawk quickly went and opened the door, planning to head back to his room and check on Pup. Twilight followed him out the door. He stopped in his tracks when a figure appeared at the end of the hallway. It was another griffon. It had a crazed look in its eyes, and the white feathers on its head were smeared with blood. The unknown griffon looked down the hall at Hawk, clearly confused.

The strange griffon's face suddenly took on a shocked expression, "LOYALIST!!!" It screeched and flew down the hallway towards Hawk, raising its right arm. In its talon was a wicked, blood-covered axe.

His brain told him to run, to get the hell out of there, but all Hawk could do was look stupidly at the griffon coming to kill him. The attacker closed in on him, before it could bring down its axe on Hawk's neck, the weapon was enveloped in a magenta glow and ripped from the griffon's grasp. The griffon didn't stop and tackled Hawk instead. It quickly got up and looked angrily at Twilight, it moved to pounce but was soon covered in the slight tingling of magic before Twilight slammed it into the wooden wall.

Getting up from the floor, Hawk was suddenly invigorated by the encounter. It felt like there was a fire inside of him that needed to be fueled. He couldn't explain it, he didn't want to. Hawk picked up the axe from the floor and walked to the dazed griffon. Twilight began to yell at him about questioning the attacker, he ignored her.

Raising the axe, he look at the griffon who tried to kill him. If it succeeded, Hawk wouldn't be able to take care of his little sister. The thought of not being there for Pup infuriated him.

With a yell, he swung down at the griffon, digging the axe halfway into its neck. Blood splattered onto Hawk's face. The griffon twitched a few times before going completely still. Twilight let out a shriek.

Rainbow Dash sped out into the hallway, "What the hay is going on?!" She looked down and saw a crimson-faced Hawk pulling an axe from the neck of a dead griffon.

"Get back in that room!" He yelled at Rainbow Dash, "Lock the door, board the windows with whatever you can, and turn off the lights!"

The cyan pegasus was about to challenge him, but Hawk held up a talon.

"Dash... I need to find out what's going on. Please.... Take care of Pup..." He begged, the fire inside him lost intensity but continued to burn.

"S-sure thing Hawk," She stammered, heading back into the room, "We'll take good care of-"

"No Rainbow Dash," He interrupted, grabbing her leg tightly. She tried to meet his gaze, but his eyes glowed like viridian flames, "You. You need to take care of Pup. You're the only one she'll accept if anything happens to me.."

Dash gulped then put on a brave face, "I'm on it. Be careful Hawk."

Poking his head into the room, he looked at his sister, who was hiding under the covers, "Pup?" She stuck her head out from under the blanket, "See you later okay? Be nice to Dash. I love you Pup."

She gave him a big smile and a little wave, it was all the response Hawk needed.

He turned back to Twilight, she looked a bit rattled, "Stay here Twilight. Make sure the others stay safe."

"N-no." She replied shakily, "I-I have to stay with you, Hawk. I can't let anything happen to you."

"Why? Don't argue with me Twi, I need to find Applejack and see if there's any more of those griffons."

Twilight steeled herself and stood up to Hawk, to her credit, she didn't back down from the emerald flames that were his eyes.

"Princess Luna told me to watch over you," She said, surprised at how clam her voice sounded, "I can't let anything happen to you."

Hawk sighed, he couldn't do this right now, "Fine. Let's go."

Holding the axe, he ran downstairs to the lobby of the inn. Quickly scanning the area, he saw the receptionist slumped over her desk, and the innkeeper on the floor, his blood staining the carpet a deep sanguine.

The door to the inn opened and a black-headed griffon strode through it, "Ashild? What's taking so long clearing the damn-" He saw Hawk, and moved to draw his weapon but it was too late.

Hawk closed in on the dark griffon, and sliced off his arm. The griffon let out a yell and Hawk pinned him to the ground.

"Who are you!? Why are you doing this?!"

The griffon looked up at him with hate-filled eyes, "I am Bjorn! We do what we must! My allies will come for me, you cannot stop us loyalist!"

"How many are here in town?!" Hawk roared, sticking two of his knife-like talons inside of the bloody stub of the griffon's arm. Bjorn screeched in pain.

"Hawk! Stop it!" Twilight screamed.

He withdrew his talons, "How many Bjorn?"

"You will have to kill me, loyalist swine. I'd never betray my comrades." He said, then spit in Hawk's face.

"So be it." Hawk whispered. He took his axe and pressed it lightly to Bjorn's throat before swiftly slamming all of his weight down on it. The griffon's black head slowly rolled away from his body.

Hawk moved to the door, but it slammed shut, covered in the glow of magic. Twilight look at him determinedly, "We shouldn't go outside."

Spinning around, he looked angrily at the lavender unicorn, "Ponies are dying Twilight. I'm positive there are more griffons, and Applejack is out there somewhere," The mention of her friend made Twilight look shamefully at the floor, "We can't just leave her out there..." Hawk finished.

"You just killed two living beings..." Twilight stated, "Where did you learn to do that? You were so ruthless.."

"They would've slaughtered me, you, and everyone in here. They're probably still killing ponies too." Hawk quietly responded, " And I don't know where I learned that. I know once the shock wears off, it'll hit me..."

"But right now, we have to find Applejack. We have to help the Appleloosans." Hawk said, filled with conviction.

Twilight steeled herself and opened the door. She and Hawk ran out of the building and into the night.

Nighttime in Appleloosa was brighter than Hawk had expected. Griffons had been breaking into buildings, killing the ponies inside, and setting fire to the structures. The intense flames gave off enough light for Hawk to see numbers of griffons flying about. He tried to pull his axe from the skull of a griffon he had taken by surprise, but it was embedded well within and wouldn't come out. Forsaking it, Hawk figured he'd make do with his talons and Twilight's magic.

"Hawk, Braeburn's house is this way." Twilight said to him, ducking into an alley. They did their best to stick to the shadows, avoiding the main streets, and staying out of the open.

Walking through a dark alleyway, a dirty griffon suddenly landed in front of Hawk and Twilight.

He chuckled, "Getting distracted comrade? Lord Gunnar wants us to blaze the town, not have a with the mares."

Hawk decided to play along, "C'mon, who'll find out? The whole place'll be burned by morning, the ponies are barely giving a fight." He said in a throaty voice.

"I guess you're right, I will not say anything.... as long as you give me a turn." The griffon replied, wearing a disturbing grin.

"Hell, I haven't touched her......yet, you can get first on her. There's plenty of pickings in the town." Hawk offered, letting the griffon move toward Twilight. The unicorn gave Hawk a terrified look, she knew he was deceiving the other griffon, but she didn't know how far he would let him go.

"How generous of you, comrade." The other said, passing Hawk. As he walked by him, Hawk grabbed the knife the filthy griffon had strapped to him and when he turned around, Hawk buried it into his eye. The grungy griffon fell to the ground in a heap. Hawk yanked the knife out of the griffon's skull and took its belt.

Buckling the belt on himself, he wiped the blade against his leg and sheathed it, "I'm sorry Twilight, I didn't want him to alert any others."

"I was just worried about how long you would've played along.." She whispered.

"I wouldn't let anyone do that to you, Twi. Have a little faith." He nudged her lightly, and let out a chuckle.

"Right." Twilight looked at him sideways, "We're getting close to Braeburn's. We just need to get past the Sheriff's office."

"Okay, stay right here, I'm going to take a quick peek." Hawk walked calmly out into the thoroughfare and looked toward the Sheriff's office. A multitude of griffons surrounded it, laying siege to the building. Some tossed torches through the windows, only to have them be thrown back. A griffon was hit by one and quickly caught flame. A couple of its comrades tried to put him out.

They didn't notice him, so he walked back into the alley. "Twilight? It looks like the Sheriff and some other ponies are held up in his office. They're putting up some resistance."

"We can't just leave them there." She said.

"Agreed. We have to act fast, they're going to burn the place down and I don't think the Sheriff can hold them off much longer."

Twilight just nodded at him. "Here's the plan Twi, stay hidden until I start attacking. Then come out and try to get the ponies out of the office, they probably won't listen to me."

"I'm ready when you are."

Taking a deep breath in, Hawk tried to fuel the fire that raged inside of him, he couldn't afford to have it die out now. Pup and Rainbow Dash are counting on you. He told himself.

He flew toward the group of griffons, they hadn't noticed he was a hostile yet. He just landed behind the group, acting like one of them. Some of the griffons looked back at him, just to see what had approached them, but then turned back toward the office. A torch was thrown into the building and struck an oil lamp, a large flame ignited inside, the ponies inside hurried to try to put it out. The griffon in front of Hawk, which he assumed to be a female, reared back on her hind legs and got ready to throw another torch.

Do it now! He commanded his body to take action.

Hawk closed in on the griffon, he placed one talon on the back of her neck, and with his other, grabbed her arm, stopping her from throwing the torch. She tried to look around and see who was holding her, but Hawk pushed her arm downward at an angle it was never meant to go. The crunching sound of her shoulder being broken out of place was deafened by her ear-piercing screech. Hawk picked up the torch she dropped and swung it at her face with all his strength. It splintered upon impact and she fell silent, dropping to the ground, her head smoldering.

The entire group of griffons turned to face him. There was seven, not including the one that lay still on the ground next to Hawk.

"He's a loyalist!!!" One cried.

"Kill him!" Another yelled, and shot toward Hawk.

The griffon flew toward him, but Hawk dropped to the ground on his back and as the griffon zoomed over him, he grabbed one of its front legs with both of his talons. With Hawk now acting as an anchor, the flying griffon's momentum, as well as a sharp pull from Hawk, ripped its arm out of the socket and the griffon fell to the ground writhing in pain, out of the fight.

Two down. Six to go.

Hawk got up, another griffon was about to pounce on him. In his peripheral vision he saw Twilight sneak through the back of the office.

"Stop Halkdir!" Said a grizzly voice. A very large griffon flew down next to the one who was about to charge Hawk, "Don't kill him. Not yet. We need to know why there is a loyalist this far south of Aeries."

"Yes, Lord Gunnar." Halkdir said, "Capture the loyalist pig!" He yelled to the others.

A net came sailing through the air, Hawk rolled to the side, dodging it. A griffon came up behind him. Turning swiftly, Hawk elbowed the griffon and drew his knife. In one liquid-like motion, he stabbed the griffon right under the sternum, twisting the blade as he pulled it out, and spun to face the next attacker. None came, but they had him surrounded.

With the large griffon, this "Lord Gunnar", added to the equation, Hawk still had six to go.

Taking a look at the office, Hawk saw Twilight, along with Applejack, Braeburn, and a couple of deputies, sneaking back into an alley. There were lucky Applejack had been in the Sheriff's office. Hawk noticed he didn't see the Sheriff. The lavender mare made eye contact with him.

Don't do it Twilight! Go!

The unicorn's horn lit up. She was going to try to help him.

"No Twilight!!! Get out of here!!!" Hawk screamed at her. Twilight horn lost its glow and she looked at him despondently, "NOW!!!"

She followed the other ponies into the alleyway, but one griffon from the circle began to give chase. Hawk spun his knife and was holding it by the blade. His arm quickly shot out and a half-second later, the pursuing griffon fell to the ground, the handle of the knife sticking out from the base of its skull.

Five to go.

Now unarmed, Hawk knew he didn't stand a chance. But he also knew they wanted him alive. He mentally shuddered at the thought of what they'd do to him. Four of the five began to close in on him. Every griffon he took out of the fight was one less Twilight had to worry about. Hawk didn't wait for them to make the first move and he slashed at the nearest griffon with his talons. It dodged it easily and Hawk received a swift kick to his side from a different griffon. He tried to get up, instead, talons dug into his shoulders and pulled him up painfully. He thrashed, trying to break the grip, but it was useless.

Gunnar walked over to a restrained Hawk, before saying anything, he drew back his arm and punched the captive squarely in the face. Stars danced across Hawk's vision.

"Speak, swine." Gunnar said maliciously, "Who sent you? Was it that pathetic excuse for a general Ragnar?!"

"I have no idea what you're talking about.." Hawk panted.

The large griffon walked away from Hawk and motioned to one of his lackeys. He returned with a jagged, curved blade.

"I can make this very painful for you loyalist." Gunnar said, dragging the blade lightly along Hawk's chest, ripping out feathers and tearing the flesh underneath.

"I...don't..know...anything." The pain made Hawk wish that what he said wasn't the truth.

"That's a real shame." Gunnar replied. Slowly, he placed the tip of the blade on Hawk's eyelid, "Still nothing?"

Staring with one eye at the large griffon, Hawk was terrified. The fire inside him had been snuffed and he knew there was nothing he could say to the Gunnar to stop him from gouging out his eye.

Before Gunnar could apply any more pressure, a series of bright white lights materialized throughout the town. Dark figures began to combat the other griffons who were still razing Appleloosa.

Halkdir grabbed Gunnar's shoulder, "My Lord! It is the Night Guard!!"

Cursing, Gunnar shook off Halkdir's talon and looked at Hawk, "You're pony allies will not save you loyalist! Take him!! Retreat back to the outpost!" He said right before punching Hawk in the gut, doubling him over.

Three griffons began to lift Hawk into the air, following their lord. A dark stallion rushed to intercept, but Gunnar chopped off one of his bat-like wings, sending him plummeting to the ground.

The chilly night air seeped into Hawk's body through his cuts, and seemed to drain him of energy. He didn't bother trying to escape. Looking down, he saw a large number of the darker ponies fighting the griffons. They were pushing the attackers out of the town.

His vision blacking out then returning to normal, Hawk's mind was occupied with thoughts of a little griffon and a rainbow-maned pegasus.

Hawk didn't know how long they flew for, but dawn couldn't be too far off. He had a sick feeling in his gut it would be a sunrise he wouldn't live to see. His kidnappers rose to the top of a wide mesa, the flat peak had a collection of tents upon it. Gunnar had flown ahead and said he would "get the site ready". Hawk was carried to the center of the outpost and slammed onto his back on a wide wooden table with an assortment of straps attached to it. His talons and paws were tied down and his wings were spread out and pinned down with a series of leather bindings.

Gunnar had started to stride toward his captive, but Hawk no longer feared the large griffon. He resigned himself to his fate. Rainbow Dash would take care of Pup. It depressed Hawk that it wouldn't be him who got to teach her how to fly. Now, he just wondered how long the torture would go on before they finished him.

"So, Loyalist, now that we won't be bothered," Gunnar said haughtily, "Tell me who sent you, and tell me if you have any reinforcements in the area."

"I told you, asshole, I don't know anything." Hawk replied his words dripping venom.

"Ah, tight-beaked son of a bitch we have here boys!" The large griffon yelled, a chuckle passed through he surrounding griffons. Gunnar walked to his prisoner's left side and didn't hesitate in stabbing his jagged knife all the way through Hawk's arm. Letting out a screech, Hawk quickly stifled it.

"Please... I don't know anything."

Halkdir walked up to Gunnar, "My Lord, maybe the captive speaks the truth." He whispered, "It isn't unheard of for griffons to leave Aeries indefinitely, especially if they immigrate to Equestria."

The large griffon turned to reply to his subordinate, "Don't speak to me like I'm an idiot!" He bellowed, smacking Halkdir, "How would you explain his combat prowess?"

The stunned griffon on the floor remained silent.

"I didn't think so." Gunnar said, making his way to the other side of Hawk, "Either way, this game is over. I'm done playing with the fool." He drew a curved axe from his belt. The head was too large for the handle and there was no counter-weight. It was obvious that it wasn't an axe used for combat.

"Try not to hate me for this." The large griffon said, raising the heavy axe high above his head.

So, this is it. Hawk thought sadly. The past week had seemed like the longest in his life. It all seemed so...nice, up until now. His life ruined, and now, about to end, in a single night.

The mesa suddenly was bathed in a flash of cold white light, griffons began to shout.

"HALT!!!" Roared a powerful female voice, her words seemed to move the air around them. The sheer authority in her voice compelling all of the griffons to desist.

Not Gunnar. Hawk watched the axe fall.

There was a split-second of intense pain, and then, complete blackness.