“How’s it coming, Applejack?” I called back.
“Almost done! We’re just gettin’ a few things from the barn!”
I nodded and turned my head back to the forces of the Solar Guard and Ellura, waiting nearly half a mile away with their weapons and horns trained on me. After a few gusts of wind and deflecting of projectiles and magic bursts they realized there was no way they could overpower me, or even get close. They were now just waiting for us to move so they could screw up our plans.
“Alright, we’ve ready!”
I turned back to see the Apple family, ready for battle and transport. Applejack held a pitchfork in one hoof, rope hanging off her back and hooked up to a cart full of apples. Big Mac had a woodcutting axe and pulling his own cart, Granny Smith sitting on top and armed with a frying pan wearing her military helmet. Apple Bloom held a shovel and wore a soup pan on her head. Even Pinkie Pie was pulling a cart, she was an earth pony after all, and had her party cannon at the ready. Everypony except Granny had saddlebags on as well.
"Let's send those blasted idjits back where they came from!" the elder Apple shouted.
"Easy Granny, we just need ta get to Ponyville to back up Twi an the rest,” Applejack interrupted.
“More than that, we need to make sure we can get all these supplies down there as well. If they manage to take out any of the carts that's less food for Ponyville to weather the storm,” I commented.
“Ah, don't pay it no mind, them pegasi will take these storm clouds away soon enough.”
“I don’t think that’s what he mean, Granny,” the youngest Apple commented.
“Now come on, Grigormash, puts those muscles of yers to work!” she ordered, ignoring her descendant.
“Gilgamesh,” Applejack corrected.
“Thas what I said!”
I chuckled at the spry old pony. If her strength matched her stubbornness, she’d probably be a match for the Princesses.
“It’d be my pleasure, ma’am,” I replied before unclipping my naginata, casting my three buffing spells before charging forwards.
The ringing of magic was a constant companion as Rarity fired spell after spell, ponies falling one after the other like dominoes. Twilight’s barrier had reached its apex, and was now very steadily curving down, beginning to form over the town. It was at this point that the guard and Ellura realized what they were doing, and focused every effort to try and break through their tight defense around Twilight.
Rarity wasn’t able to rest for a second, whenever one pony fell two more were there to replace him. Thestrals flitted about the skies, picking off individual ponies before they could get to their defense, but they could only do so much.
A glint caught Rarity’s eye, and she noticed a group of ponies all pointing something at their defenses. It was long, metal, and gleamed in the flashes of lightning. Rarity heard a bang, and closed her eyes to brace for pain. However, the pain didn’t come. She opened her eyes, and before her stood Princess Luna. The Princess now had physical armor on, a sleek metallic armor not unlike the armor that Nightmare Moon wore, but it seemed far less intimidating on the smaller Alicorn. Luna levitated her weapon off to her right, a shield hovering in front of her. Once the ponies who had shot at them paused to reload, Princess Luna’s eyes glowed.
“Foul scum! You will NOT harm our subjects!” She lifted her weapon and sliced it horizontally through the air in front of her. A blast of energy dyed the color of moonlight left her blade, smashing into the attacking ponies and sending them tumbling. Princess Luna pointed her weapon to the ground before glancing around, then held it to her side as she turned to Rarity. “Are you unharmed, generous Rarity?”
Rarity nodded, and Princess Luna smiled. “Good.”
A blast left Rarity’s horn, throwing back a pony that was about to attack the princess with her back turned. Princess Luna glanced back in surprise before giving Rarity another smile. Her smile faded though, when she noticed that the lull in enemy assault was not too last, and even more ponies were coming their way.
“We will not last much longer…” Princess Luna frowned, adopting a fighting stance once more.
“We don’t need to last much longer, once Twilight gets the barrier up we’ll be safe. I just hope our friends can make it back in time…” Rarity glanced out over the everfree and the path towards the apple farm. “Please hurry back…”
Thankfully Fluttershy’s cottage is relatively close to Zecora’s hut, we made it out of the Everfree and into the clearing near Fluttershy’s hut in a relatively short amount of time.
“The barrier’s halfway there!” Rainbow Dash flew up and gestured towards Ponyville. “We gotta book it! C’mon!” She shot off towards the cottage, the Manticore following suit and me bringing up the rear. When we got close, we noticed there were an odd amount of wagons around Fluttershy’s home.
Well that’s definitely odd...Fluttershy I don’t suppose you needed all these wagons for some reason? She slowly shook her head. I nodded and took the lead, reaching the front door first. I held out a hand to get them behind me, then slowly opened the door. Immediately, a dark form shot past my head and out into the open.
“Elizabeak!” Fluttershy jumped off the manticore to comfort the figure, which turned out to be a chicken. I squinted my eye before opening the door the rest of the way. Inside was, the best way I could describe it, chaos. Things were thrown everywhere, furniture was overturned, and feathers and fur alike were floating in the air. What I noticed most of all were cages, mostly cages with animals stuck in them. Once I opened the door fully, I saw the Ellura personnel gathering some of Fluttershy’s animals up.
I was about to act, but a small yellow and pink figure shot past me, and hovered a few feet in front of me. “WHAT do you think you’re doing?!” The Ellura personnel stopped and turned, looking at the yellow pegasus who was shouting at them. “Capturing innocent animals with no way to defend themselves?! What is WRONG with you?!”
One pony with a red tinted coat and a blonde mane smirked. “My, this one’s got quite the mouth on her. Well really it’s none of your business, but since you’re gonna be dead soon anyways, I’ll tell you. These,” He kicked a small cage nearby with a group of small porcupines in it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rainbow Dash back away from the cottage. “STUPID filthy animals are getting run through our genetics program. They won’t be ‘innocent’ for much longer.” He smirked.
Rainbow Dash whispered in my ear. “Dude, get away from the door.”
I glanced back at her. ...Why?
That’s when I heard it. The low growl that steadily rose into a scream. What happened next...well, I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll say I was at least courteous enough to shut the door before I backed away.
...It’s always the— I flinched as I heard a massive crash come from inside of the cottage, followed by a bloodcurdling scream. —quiet ones.
Once everything had gone quiet, Rainbow Dash slowly inched towards the cottage, opening the door with her hoof. Inside, every single cage was pulverized into an unidentifiable mess, and Ellura personnel laid strewn about the room, some of them stuck in a fetal position and rocking back and forth. Fluttershy stood in the middle of the room, the Ellura member from earlier was seated down in front of her and staring right at her, his face a mask of abject horror.
“Uh...shy?” Rainbow Dash touched a hoof to her friend’s shoulder. Fluttershy flinched, then stood erect. She turned, her big blue eyes wide.As soon as she turned away from the stallion, the stallion fell onto his side, breathing but not moving.
Something that I may need to see a psychiatrist about in a year or two… I mumbled. Note to self, never, EVER, piss off Fluttershy.
After the Ellura members were...taken care of, it was just a matter of searching the rest of the cottage for any animals that remained, then Fluttershy grabbed any important belongings and ushered her animals out the door. In the distance, the force field was now getting close to the ground.
“Okay, we’ve got the animals, we got Zecora, let’s GO! They might need our help!” after a nod of agreement, Fluttershy re-mounted her manticore, and I jumped, and we were on our way to Ponyville once more. I just hoped that everyone else was holding up alright.
The thestral lieutenant barely managed to deflect another bullet with his wing blades before rushing forwards to cut the attacker across the foreleg before smacking the firearm away and bucking him in the head. He was panting heavily, pushing himself to the absolute limit.
He then screamed in pain as a crossbow bolt hit him through the hind leg. His stumbling left him open for a magic blast to knock him over. He raised his head only to see a row of guns pointed at him. Resigned to his fate he tensed, expecting the final sting of projectiles.
Suddenly,of all things, music began to blare. Shadow Streak saw three earth pony pulled carts of apples approaching, but they were severely overshadowed by the intimidating bipedal figure barrelling towards the town. The warrior Gilgamesh had his naginata drawn, his eyes shining red with power, and the intimidating music somehow blaring from him. A large portion of the opposing forces fired their weapons and blasts of magic, all of them bouncing off him, not even bothering to dodge or block them, before smashing into the ponies like a battering ram.
The warrior then began to swing his weapon, unleashing gusts of air that sent the enemies flying like leaves in the wind. Strikes to the ground unleashed massive explosions of dirt with similar effects to the Ellura forces and the Solar Guard. The armored being continued to assault those that attacked him, not even reacting to the myriad of bolts and bullets beyond simply garnering his attention. As he continued wind began to spiral around him like a tornado, his shining eyes of power and the occasional strike of lightning from above striking fear even into his own heart. And it was then he realized that that was exactly what the warrior was going for, made even more evident by the screams of the enemy forces as they backed or even ran from him.
In the middle of this intimidating display he raised his weapon upward. ”I SHALL NEVER TIRE!” he proclaimed before a bolt of lightning struck it. Rather than convulse in pain the electricity began to gather at the tip of his weapon. He then lunged at the enemy forces shouting ”FEEL HEAVEN’S WRATH!” He slammed his weapon into the ground and produced what the lieutenant could only describe as a wave of electricity, extending forwards for several yards and blasting away any opponent in front of it. Shadow Streak would never admit this, but he nearly pissed himself at the display of power. It was like looking upon an angry god striking down at mere mortals, something that legends of the Princesses had described in fables. For a brief moment, he wondered if he might actually be their equal.
As the ponies of Ellura and the Solar Guard pulled away from the warrior, Shadow Streak spotted something else. A figure in the sky, but it wasn’t a pegasus. it was bipedal, not unlike the warrior who was decimating their opponents. Then, with a crash of thunder to accompany it, the figure landed in the middle of the fleeing ponies, sending several flying as he did. Then he stood, dwarfing everything around him. lightning flashed, and the only part of the creature that wasn’t cloaked in shadow was his glowing red eye. “STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!” The ponies yelled and tried to get away from him, but the monster was relentless,swinging left and right and sending their enemies flying, or unholstering his weapon and causing massive explosions across the battlefield. In short, the two bipedal figures made short work of the army that had almost been the end of them.
“Retreat! The barrier is almost down, we need to get out of here before we’re locked in!” Solar Guard and Ellura personnel began to flee for the edge of the barrier, the injured only managing a crawl or a limping trot. When ponies tried to flee for the route of the everfree, a massive Manticore blocked their path and they quickly scattered to find another route out. Shadow Streak tried to struggle to his hooves, but he fell again. A soft blue hoof extended to him. He looked up to see Princess Luna standing over him, a smile on her face.
“Need some help, Lieutenant?” Shadow Streak could only grin sheepishly, then took the Princess’s hoof. She smiled softly at him. “You’ve done a fine job here ton—” Shadow Streak heard a loud bang. Time slowed down. His Princess’s eyes widened in shock. Shadow Streak himself could only stare at the splash of red that appeared on his Princess’s side, before her legs failed her and she began to fall. At this, he took a sharp breath and dove for her.
I heard the shot, but it didn’t occur to me until the thestral with metal wings called out Princess Luna’s name. I saw her fall, and then lay unmoving in her soldier’s hooves.
I can’t describe what I felt in that moment...but if anything it felt like an indescribable anger. I was angry. Screw that, I was pissed. I was livid. I looked, and saw a unicorn lowering a gun that had been pointing at Princess Luna. I felt a pressure rise in my head, and I did everything I could to slow it down or stop it, but there was no preventing it.
This pony had to die.
It started slow, a low growl in my throat and I was stomping towards him. I wasn’t in control of my own actions. I don’t think he knew what was coming for him, as he had a smug smirk on his muzzle. The pony had a dark green coat with a black mane. Then he chose to look over at me, and the smile fell.
”STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSS!” the pony dropped his weapon and ran. I wasn’t having any of that. I crouched and jumped, sailing overhead and landing in front of him with a crash. He fell and started backing away from me.
I ignored his pleas, and sent tentacle to wrap tight around him. He let out a choked cry, and I turned and threw him. Not with intent to kill, this pony had so much left before I allowed him to die. He bounced across the ground like a ragdoll, coming to a stop near the town hall. I stomped towards him again with renewed purpose. He was coughing, spitting up blood and rainwater. The growl rose in my throat again and I felt something pulling at my hands, urging me to end it.
I could hear dull voices, calling out my name, telling me to stop. Familiar voices too, but almost like a dream. They were from some memory long ago. They weren’t important.
I wanted to stop, I keep telling myself that. I wanted to so badly. But as I neared the incapacitated pony, my hand balling into a fist, I realized.
I couldn’t stop.
I lifted my hand, prepared to strike a blow that would end it. Then, a tall figure stepped between us. In my rage, I didn’t recognize who it was, but my fist stopped.
Get OUT of the way… My voice was twisted, it didn’t sound like my own.
“Regain control of yourself, Nemesis,” the figure ordered. “You are a monster in body, not in soul.”
I said ‘MOVE!’
I punched at his head only for him to step aside and grab my wrist. Before I knew it I was thrown onto my back. I moved to aim my launcher at him only for something sharp to stab into my wrist and hold my arm down.
HE SHOULD DIE!
“Get ahold of yourself! Remember what you yourself said about revenge but a few hours ago!”
The figure’s words brought on a headache, and with them, memories. ‘As I’ve experienced in the past, vengeance is like a wild fire. It destroys everything, even things that are close to it.’
Did...I say that?
The headache grew, and I could only yell in pain. It was almost like having an out of body experience, I was watching myself do and say these things, but I could do nothing to stop it. Then, at the apex of pain, I felt like I was being thrust back into control of my body.
I blinked once, turning my head. Six mares were staring at me,some with their hoof over their mouth and staring at me with a mix of fear and worry. I turned my head again. Gilgamesh was standing over me, a weapon thrust into my wrist.
Uh...did I miss something? What happened?
Gilgamesh withdrew his weapon from my arm before offering his hand.
“Just a battle with your worse half. Don’t worry, you didn’t do much.”
I took his hand and he pulled me to my feet.
Sorry. I don’t know what-
“Your reasons were righteous, but they consumed you. Killing should be done out of necessity, not punishment, especially to those weaker than you,” he said in a tone I could only describe as sage like.
Killing? I don’t—
He then walked over to the unicorn that had been the source of my rage before stopping right in front of him. I noticed then, the condition the unicorn was in.
...Oh God...did I…?
“It has been said that mercy is the mark of great being,” he stated. A moment later he kicked the stallion hard enough send him bouncing for several yards. “Guess I’m just an ok one.”
Everyone was silent for a moment more, the stallion Gilgamesh had kicked was crawling away from us now. After a moment, I remembered why I had gotten so upset.
Princess Luna! I turned to the six mares who had been watching us. Is she…?
“She’ll be okay.” Twilight spoke. Her stance was shaky, and she looked like she was about to fall over. “Her Thestrals are taking her to the Ponyville hospital now. She’ll get the best care they can offer there.”
Good… I breathed. I looked out across Ponyville. A shimmering, purple barrier now covered the entirety of the town. Ellura and Solar Guard members laid scattered about, some unconscious and others still crawling in futility towards the edge of the barrier. A large amount of ponies were still gathered outside of the barrier, glaring in at us.
We should round up whoever got locked in here with us. They can be our prisoners. Can one of you go to the hospital and get some of the Lunar Guards to help? They nodded and set off to do just that. Twilight began stumbling towards the hospital.
“Y-yeah?” She squinted at me tiredly.
Go get some rest. You’ve earned it.
She gave me a tired smile before changing direction and stumbling towards the library. I turned towards Gilgamesh, his back still to me. I put a hand on his shoulder to get his attention. Gilgamesh, everything okay?
“This will be a difficult battle, Nemesis. I am sorry I won’t be here to see it all through,” he began. “But at least I can help prepare you as best I can before I leave.” He turned to me, a look of sadness in his eyes. “Gather the citizens and bind the members of Ellura and the Solar Guard. I’ve got a speech to work on.”
I stood as intimidatingly as I could in front of town hall, everyone in Ponyville murmuring or staying quiet, afraid they might say something that could anger the imposing figure who stood before them. To my right were the bound members of the Solar Guard and Ellura, and to my left were the Elements (minus one exhausted lavender unicorn), the Thestrals, Princess Luna, who insisted upon attending despite her wounds, and of course Nemesis.
“Citizens of Ponyville,” I began. “My name is Gilgamesh, warrior from beyond time and space. I hail from a realm not unlike this one, an Equestria ruled peacefully by two mighty Princesses of the Sun and Moon, and having been saved several times by six brave mares bound together by friendship. Indeed, if you were to suddenly find yourselves there you would be hard pressed to even know you had changed locations. Aside from one major detail.” I turned and pointed at the group of ponies in the black trenchcoats and lab coats with the Ellura insignias.
“Them. This much lauded Eurella corporation is absent from my realm. And much to its benefit, might I add.”
This earned me several scowls from the Ellura ponies, which I promptly ignored.
“You might ask ‘how can I say such a thing? Does he not know of the great strides in healing and medicine they have made?’”
Several murmurs of agreement came from the crowd at that.
“To this I say though I have no firsthand knowledge of such a thing, I can indeed guess that there have in fact been several incredible benefits they have provided, especially in a world more likely to use magic than chemistry. However, these benefits, though undoubtedly great, are just a front for their true machinations. A entire company run by ponies with delusions of grandeur, experimenting with a substance that they cannot hope to control in hopes of achieving power, blind to the fact that their creations will destroy them, and most importantly more than willing to treat their fellow ponies as naught more than test subjects.”
Several outcries of disapproval rang from the crowd, but to my surprise a butter yellow pegasus with a pink mane rose up. “I know it’s hard to believe, but you all must listen to him! I saw firsthoof what these...these awful ponies have done!” At Fluttershy’s outburst ponies seemed shocked, but everyone grew quiet and listened to what I had to say.
“I understand this is difficult to believe, and in fact I have nothing but words and the testimonies of others to try and convince you. But I assure you I speak the truth. And as terrible as it sounds, this is not the first time an organization like this has existed. They used the same substance, conducted the same experiments, had the same political and financial power to cover up their misdeeds. They even had a similar sounding name: the Umbrella Corporation.”
Ok, so that wasn’t exactly true, Umbrella wasn’t real, but they didn’t need to know that. Besides, Eurella was such a carbon-copy that I was surprised I didn’t see any pony versions of Mr. X sent to Ponyville.
“They used the money from their legitimate business practices, the creation of life saving medicines, to fund their true ambitions, and their goodwill only aided them. After all, who would suspect such a charitable business as being responsible for atrocities that most could only have nightmares about?”
More murmuring through the crowd. Most seemed to agree with what I was saying, but I still heard the occasional dissapproval, and even the word ‘freak’ tossed around.
Believe what you want, I heard Nemesis speak up. This ‘freak’ as you call him just saved all of your lives. And regardless of how you feel about me or him, what he says is the absolute truth.
“Ellura created the cure that kept my baby from dying as a foal!” I heard one mare shout over the crowd. “Are you telling me they used that as a cover?!”
“In a sense,” I began. “Your child’s recovery was no doubt a small but significant boon to them. Not only did that garner your own faith in them but also those of potential customers and, more importantly, investors. The more lives they saved, the more money they would receive, and the more funding they would have to continue their work. I also suspect that in the back of their minds they reasoned that another pony kept alive would be another potential test subject down the road.”
“Those…!” The mare suddenly shot forward towards the Ellura members, who visibly flinched. Several ponies had to hold her back.
“I understand your rage, but please restrain yourself. It won’t help you or anyone else.” I turned to the crowd again. “I unfortunately must bring you more distressing news. The influence of Ellura is even greater than that of the former Umbrella, as even Princess Celestia has placed her full trust in them, as should be obvious by the presence of the Solar Guard here,” I said as I motioned to the stallions and mares in bright armor. “And if that wasn’t enough proof, allow to cement the veracity of my claim.” I stepped towards the group who flinched and struggled as I approached. “Which of you is in charge?”
One unicorn stallion looked visibly uncomfortable, but he spoke up. “I-I am. Major Solar Flare, highest ranking officer present.”
“Tell me, Solar Flare, what orders were you given regarding the Elements of Harmony and Princess Luna?”
Solar Flare blinked, looking deep in thought for a moment. “W-we were told that the elements and Princess Luna had fallen prey to Nemesis’ sickness, and that we were to capture and restrain them by any means necessary.”
“And of course, like the good soldier you are, you didn’t question that order for a moment, did you?”
Solar Flare swallowed audibly. “We were aware that Nemesis spread around a sickness wherever he went, though I thought it a bit odd that a sickness would induce empathy to an individual…” His voice trailed off. “...but no, I didn’t question it. Failure to obey orders is not something I want on my record.”
“And what do you think now?” I asked, motioning to the other side of the stage, more specifically to Princess Luna’s wounded and bandaged form.
He breathed deeply, glaring at Ellura across the stage. “I think that Princess Celestia is mistaken in her belief of Ellura, and that the truth needs to be known.” He narrowed his eyes.
I looked into his eyes, and I saw no hint of deceit in them. I turned to thestrals and nodded, the dark ponies walking across the stage and began undoing the bonds of their comrades.
“Solar Flare, you and your soldiers have likely already been declared as ‘contaminated’ by the Ellura’s advisors to Celestia. The moment you leave this barrier you will be hunted down by Ellura’s agents and your own comrades. Even still I give you the choice, will you stay or leave?”
Solar Flare looked over the rest of the guard and the thestrals before he nodded at them. “We will stay for now I think, though we will actively make plans to find a way to get to Canterlot and inform Celestia of what has happened. This…” He motioned to the forcefield, and the Ellura personnel setting up tents outside of it with biohazard symbols on them, and ponies walking around in hazmat gear. “This is wrong.”
“Glad you think so,” I said before turning back to the crowd. “Citizens, this is the situation you are in. Your own beloved Celestia is willing to trust the agents of Ellura to such an extent that she would even be willing to allow them to invade your town,” I turned to face the other end of the stage. “To apprehend the heroes who have saved her kingdom, her own protege, and even her own sister, and they are willing to do anything to keep that trust.” I turned back to the citizens. “This will not be an easy task, but there is hope. The tighter you cage an animal, the more it tries to break free. Even with all her faith in them, even Ellura cannot restrain the Princess fully. If you hold out long enough eventually Celestia will decide to take action herself, and Ellura can only hold her back for so long. When she comes, that will be your chance to show her the truth. I will not lie to you, this will no doubt be a terrible war of attrition, and you may be stuck here trying to hold out for days or even weeks. Your ability to cooperate will be tested to its limits, and you may wish to lash out at something in your frustration. But if you should find these times trying you need only look outside this dome of safety to see the truth,” I said while pointing to the ponies in hazmat suits. “That you must persevere, or you will be dead. Or worse.”
Now, rather than scowls or murmuring, ponies were stomping their hooves and cheering for me. Princess Luna was smiling wide, and the mane six were all hugging one another. Nemesis stood off to the side, his arms folded but I imagined that if he could smile, he would be.
Much to my surprise, ponies weren’t saddened or burdened by Gilgamesh’s speech, but they were invigorated. They were moving with energy, and I could feel some of their happiness rubbing off on me. I met Gilgamesh off to the side as he exited off the stage.
That was one hell of a speech. I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for doing that.
“Anything for a friend,” he said simply. “I wanted to do all I could, especially considering I can’t stay.”
“Can’t stay?!” A pink ball of fluff suddenly smashed into Gilgamesh’s leg, and Pinkie Pie wrapped it in a massive hug. “But I have yet to throw you a ‘wow-thanks-for-saving-ponyville-with-your-awesome-flashy-moves’ party! And I still have to throw Nemmy a ‘sorry-we-thought-you-were-a-bad-guy-but-now-we-don’t’ party! Don’t tell me you’re leaving!” She stared up at Gilgamesh with large puppy dog eyes, which, I admit, made even my heart melt.
The warrior scratched the pink party mare behind the ears. “Believe me Pinkie, there’s very few things I’d like more than one of your parties thrown in my honor, but I have my own Equestria that needs me. Though there’s no Ellura there are things that don’t belong, and I’m the only one strong enough to stop them. And more importantly,” he paused and turned to look at the Ellura agents being led away. “Despite how I may look now I’m not the best at controlling my emotions. Even now I have to suppress the urge to ki… do something I might regret to those scum.”
“Ya sure had us fooled, Sugarcube.” Applejack spoke up, trotting up to us along with the rest of the Mane Six. “The way ya’ll were able to calm Nemesis down, I had ya figured for one o’ those fancy psychiatrists they have for ponies in the big cities.”
“Indeed,” Rarity spoke up, tilting her head. “How are you able to remain so calm despite your…” She looked back at the Ellura ponies. “...urges?”
He turned to look at Princess Luna. “Giving your word to someone you revere helps. That and I’ve learned a few tricks over my life to try and trick myself into thinking I’m happy.”
Princess Luna broke off her conversation with her thestrals and saw Gilgamesh looking at her. She smiled and trotted up to us. “We do not think that we...nay, we do not think that Equestria will be able to thank you enough for all that you have done. Both of you.” She looked between me and Gilgamesh. “You have my sincerest thanks.” She bowed her head to the both of us.
There’s really nothing to be thankful for, I spoke, looking over at the Ellura ponies as well. I did what I thought was right. I couldn’t let another Umbrella Corporation root in a world that didn’t even have anything to do with them in the first place.
“Still,” Luna spoke, looking up to us. “Your intents were pure, and your heart is true. It would do us a great pleasure if you would allow us to give the both of you something. it is not much but, we hope that it will serve to rectify what we and our sister have done to you, Nemesis. And we hope that it will serve as something to remember us by, brave Gilgamesh.”
“A gift. For me?” Gilgamesh asked, seemingly stunned at the notion.
“Indeed.” Luna said with a smile. “Thestrals! Formation!” At this, the Thestrals that littered through the crowd snapped to attention, and arranged themselves in a row of ponies leading up to the two of us. The crowd fell silent as they watched. A lone Thestral walked up towards us, the other Thestrals rendered a salute. The lone thestral was carrying a large box on his back. When he reached us, Princess Luna picked it up with her magic, and when she opened it, revealed two gleaming medallions, decorated with a large gemstone depicting the symbol of Equestria, celestia and Luna circling each other with the sun and the moon.
“This is a badge of honor, something any and all guardponies work their whole lives to achieve. It is the highest form of honor that is within our power to grant to you, and as we said, it isn’t much, but we do hope that it will serve its intended purpose.” As she spoke, she levitated the medallions over our heads. “And not only is it a badge of honor, but it also acts as a two way mirror. You two may communicate with each other across the realms, so to speak, without needing to summon one another. It will also provide you with light, when you find to be lacking one.” She bowed her head. “We truly cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for us.”
I...don’t know what to say. I spoke, glancing over at Gilgamesh.
“You and me both pal,” he said simply. He then turned to Applejack, “Hey AJ, I’m gonna need your advice on something.”
Applejack’s eyes widened a bit at being addressed so directly, but she smiled. “Whatever it is, ah’ll do mah best to give ya’ an answer.”
“I told the ponies that they’d have to hold out for days or even weeks, but the truth is you guys might even need to hold out for months. By that time you guys will probably have food problems. I figure I could send you guys some things from my dimension, but the truth is I’m… not exactly on the best terms with my own Equestria. I’ve been trying to fix it but, well, let’s just say Nemmy’s situation isn’t unique to him. So I got to ask… how should I go about convincing my own Applejack to give some of her crop to guy she doesn’t particularly like or trust so he can help feed a group of ponies in another dimension?”
“Oh...that is a might pickle ya’ll are in.” Applejack scratched her chin with her hoof.
“I mean, it is a desperate situation, so stealing them is not out of the question, but I’d really prefer not having to stoop to that.”
“Ah’ll tell ya one thing, if you are lookin’ to make friend with that Applejack, and she acts anythin’ like this Applejack,” Applejack put a hoof to her own chest. “Stealin’ from her apple orchard definitely ain’t the best way to go about it.” She grinned. “If ya’ll want to get on mah good side, the quickest way would be through mah family.” She looked over at the rest of the apples. “You convince them that yer a good guy, ah won’t be long to follow.”
“Hm. Well, I do have some good deeds under my belt, including saving her little sister and her friends from a perverted octopus.”
“Uh...ah won’t ask specifics on that sugarcube, but if ya’ll saved my sister, you can bet that ah’ll be the first to plead yer case when you’ve got yer head on the metaphorical choppin’ block.”
“I hope so. Well, anyway guys, time moves differently from reality to reality, so I’d better be getting back. Last time I spent about twelve hours in one dimension only to find that two weeks passed by in mine,” Gilgamesh set down Pinkie Pie giving, her one last scratch behind the ears, before unclipping his naginata. “I wish you all the best.”
Good luck with things in your dimension. I nodded. Give Celestia a good beating for me, when you eventually get around to training them once you’ve convinced them you’re not going to murder every race on Equus.
“Heh. Yeah, you make it sound so simple. Well, see ya,” he said before cutting a rift into the space between dimensions. “May the winds of Freedom carry all your wings.”
“But I’m an earth pony!” Pinkie stated.
And with that he hopped in as it closed behind him.
Confusion. Confusion and pain. Those were emotions that she was familiar with by now.
How long had it been? Weeks? Months? She lost track of time when she was dragged from her hospital. Now she was strapped down to a stretcher, in a large, empty dark room. She would see the occasional glint of light, and a faint hope would rise that her family was coming for her, but it was always just another doctor.
They had done something to her. She could feel it, trying to claw its way out. She felt like she was on her deathbed, waiting for whatever it was to take its toll. The sound of a door opening reached her ears, and light flooded into the room. She lifted her head to see a man in a lab coat approach her stretcher.
“Miss Shield. How are we feeling?”
“Go to Tartarus.”
“Good, verbal function is still working nicely I see.” He lifted a syringe, flicking it with his hoof once. Some deep red liquid sprayed out the end of it.
“N-no! No more! I’ve had it with your Celestia damned—”
The straps holding her down tightened, and she screamed in rage. “Sh, shhhh my dear. There’s no need to struggle right now. Your biology is very unique you know, we’ve tried several different strains of the virus on you and...well, rather than becoming what our...other subjects have,” Images popped up on the walls surrounding her suddenly, showing decomposing, rotting ponies still walking around. “you’ve persevered. You’ve beaten the virus down, and turned it into something...more.” He tapped the syringe again with his hoof. “Now, I have one last thing for you. It’s a pure, untainted sample that I acquired from our...original source. One last thing, and if it works, you can see your family again.”
Her struggling ceased.
“Ah, that still appeals to you, doesn’t it?” Then she felt the syringe go in, and her vision went red.