A State of Darkness

by Wing

A State of Darkness - Installment 6 - The Pike's Fall

The barrel of the A0 slid off Trigger’s back as I pulled the rifle from the stallion. The members of Vormacht were still visibly confused by the enormous barrier, and I could tell that several of them were trying to pinpoint its source. They overlooked the obvious – subconsciously refusing to accept that the earth pony before them was, in actuality, a unicorn of the highest magical caliber. Their confusion provided a window that I had no intention of passing up, and frankly, no tactician ever would.

“Captain Spitfire!” I barked at the downed pegasus, hoping that she could quickly regain her composure. “This is a situation for the shadows. Please help evacuate the arena immediately.” The pop of the bolt rang up the bleacher rows before I took my aim through a small shield gap provided by Trigger. In that instant, everything descended into darkness. There was no crowd, chaos, or dismay. Even the concrete beneath my hooves crumbled to oblivion. Only my targets and my rounds accompanied me to this domain – where we gathered as a collective trio for the almighty solar resonance.

Sparks of that radiant star jumped along my nerves as I depressed A0’s trigger. Celestia’s blaze erupted from the steel mouth in jagged bolts of regal plasma that eviscerated two stallions of the enemy line. Their cadavers, penetrated and mangled, fell like discarded dolls to the field before a piercing cold captured the fleeing crowd in a momentary silence.

The dichotomy of the event managed to overtake the barrier erected by my concentration. I had already pulled the bolt for a second shot when the wails of Ashen Mystic corralled her troops. The three remaining unicorns consolidated their defenses with redundant spells, and Trigger promptly placed his hoof on my back to stop a second volley from ever being fired.

“Pointless,” he answered my inquisitive gaze. “One of them is the bucker I was telling ya about. It’ll take time to tear this magic apart, and until I do, we’ll both have to assume that our experiences are being fucked with.” The stallion had shifted gears. Every ounce of his tenacious tone was inundated with the ardor of a brilliant strategist. “We’re going to have to engage them. Can’t sit it out – fuckers might leave under cover; can’t seal ‘em in – little pissants might not actually be sealed. Only way to know for sure that we’re still in combat is to start some shit for a change.”

“Sounds about right,” I answered as a rush of pegasus-driven wind trundled through my mane. Mozy had flown over my head and touched down by Trigger’s opposite side. She had taken a few minutes to slip into her own liberty blue uniform – a decision that would prove to be a wise one. At least the suits would afford us a bit of protection against the coming castfire.

“Until I dispel that abomination, avoid fatal strikes. We know one another well enough to recognize mannerisms, but we’ll have no buckin’ idea if we put ‘em down or not, and we shouldn’t risk stupid shit anyway.” The midnight stallion, catching the attention of the EHVM elite, stepped through his own shield and leapt onto the pitch. They eyed him curiously as his right hoof reached for the trademark Coltston upon his crown. He flipped it to the clean-cut grass and unbridled his silver strands to the breeze.

The charger took a moment to examine the fallen that soiled the greenery with crimson gashes and singed sinews. He sensed the confusion that bled from his foes and smirked as an obsidian catalyst kindled an argent lock hanging over his forehead. The drums of war called his name, and the beat shoved him towards the long overdue reprieve that aroused his latent talent. A black horn burst from his skull, thunder tore across the confines, and catapulted bands of magical essence lashed cracks into the brick wall that lined the field.

Mozy’s jaw plunged once Trigger’s unrepressed light graced her irides for the first time. Her legs shook as the shockwave’s sustained reverberations explored the structure beneath our hooves, and it was fairly apparent that she was experiencing a swell of emotions similar to what I felt during my first encounter with the stallion. I wished that I had prepared a satisfactory explanation for her; however, even after all these years, the sight appeared just as mesmerizing as it had on that fateful night.

“Hey,” I spoke quietly as an aperture just wide enough for one of us to fly through appeared in the buffer. The expression of astonishment remained static upon her mien when she turned her head to face me. Whatever expectations her imagination had concocted, they ultimately paled in comparison to the actual event. Mozy was my protégé for a reason, after all. Behind the teasing, playful nature, a dedicated mare lived to own her surroundings, and I could diagnose her unquenchable desire to understand just what in Tartarus we had witnessed.

“Just be careful,” I mustered before passing her the A0. She had been training for the day when I would finally trust another soul to handle my abomination. It would not be useful where I was headed, and with the anti-teleportation field in action, I had no other option at my disposal. Carting it around would slow me down, and leaving it unguarded would be foolish. Those circumstances were largely irrelevant in the end, for I had faith in her.

My jaw clenched when I lifted off to join Trigs, and a single order dribbled past the congregated plateaus of enamel to the perked ears of my waiting subordinate. Blood lingered around us; death ensnared the broken bodies of fallen guards and terrorized innocents nearby; and danger lurked mere meters ahead. “Hold the line, and if you absolutely have to … believe in the Sun.”

Wick groaned as his torso skated over the rough cobblestone square. Tepesch had thrown a powerful punch, and although the pegasus had managed to initiate his retreat, he had still been toppled by the meager connection that resulted. Scurrying to his hooves, the commander made a quick, internal reflection; if Amora had not been there, then the situation would have been devastating.

She had neutralized the swarm of debris after devoting several arduous minutes to the production of a counterspell to deal with the brute’s aggression. However, the maintenance of a perimeter barrier in addition to a trio of personal shields was undoubtedly taxing the mare’s impressive abilities. They needed an executive decision, so he had made one. She would protect herself, contain the area, and nullify the stallion’s rheostatic capacity.

Of course, that edict meant that both he and D.H. were forced to rely upon their own defensive devices for the time being, but the grey-colored stallion did not view that particular issue as much of a problem. His mind was surging on the combat high and he knew it. Wick – with his mane disheveled and uniform scuffed – was bruised and battered, but his body could not detect the wounds. They had to buy enough…

He jumped and sprang laterally as an arc of castfire jutted from the unicorn’s head. Defiant, once again, sought an advantage by making a move into the vulnerable gap, and Wick would not allow history to repeat itself. The commander pushed off his hind hoof and sprinted into low-altitude flight. He had to gain speed swiftly if he wanted to correct the timing offset between himself and his orange partner. D.H. was approaching the large pony from the flank, and based upon the observed elevation, pitch and trajectory, Wick surmised that the pegasus was aiming for the wither ridge between the unicorn’s shoulder blades. Experience suggested that Tepesch would rear up to counter the dive with a barrage of sorcery, which meant that the rear legs would become the ideal focal points for any secondary offensive.

He swerved towards the conjurer’s tail end as bolts began to ferment in the cloudy ball swirling about his foreleg. The sizzling snaps joined the choir of energizing voices tuning in Defiant’s grasp. The pair seemed in synchrony as Wick lunged for Tepesch’s gaskin the moment the beast whipped upward to fling a preemptive pulse at the other pegasus.

The blast threw D.H. nearly fifteen paces from the slate stallion. He landed upon the stone with a violent thud that sent a series of defeated whimpers cascading from his winded lungs. The orange flier lifted his head slowly and gazed upon the bloodied tatters that covered a two inch span upon his chest. He grimaced as his nerves began to cope with the raging fire, but thankfully, his uniform had absorbed the vast majority of the strike’s strength.

Meanwhile, Wick discharged the electrical buildup directly into the unicorn’s calf. Furious roars assailed the market grounds as the menacing currents internally charred the muscle. Impulsively, the stallion recoiled his hindquarters and thrust his falling foreleg towards the pegasus, but Wick’s momentum easily carried him out of harm’s way.

Rage irradiated Tepesch’s contracted violet irides. Dilated pupils sought retribution for that vile incursion upon his purity. A windrat had touched him! A windrat had marred his flesh, and every single pang that jarred his intended motion served notice after notice that anything less than merciless vengeance would be unacceptable.

Blades of castfire sliced through the air and set their points toward Wick. He evaded the torrent and dashed into the sky with a surprisingly smooth flick of his feathers. The bird's-eye view gave an opportunity to check on his companions, and what he saw concerned him greatly. Amora’s posture drooped with the signs of developing fatigue, an ominous sign which left the commander wondering if the mare had the stamina to make it to the endgame.

Defiant was mobile, but his speed seemed to be diminishing before the present burden of trying to outmaneuver spell after spell. Their opponent carried an innate endurance that might have even rivaled Trigger’s potent inferno. The manner with which avoided assaults ferociously bombarded Amora’s armor was proof enough of that. The shrill shrieks of each collision produced waves of dread that probably had the common ponies shaking; however, Wick found himself sporting a confident grin as he twisted his frame to put Tepesch right in his path.

His wings contorted to an unusual angle during the brief pause the stallion took at the height of his arc. Enough separation had been achieved, and D.H. was attracting Tepesch’s berserker madness in spite of the wound. In addition, the unicorn had acquired a limp that boosted Wick with an extra shot of motivation. He tilted his frame downwards and accelerated rapidly to the rainboom threshold before performing another feather adjustment.

Instead of outright shattering the legendary limit, Wick caressed the atmospheric ley lines into an air shell that rocketed him forward. Turbulent vortices formed in his wake, and blackened vapor lines blossomed in the whirling sea of inharmonious noise that followed. The pressure wave alone would be enough to likely send the cruel pike to his knees. It would be enough to end this calamity. The pegasus could practically touch the concept bubbling in his mind. All he needed to do was unload the front.

Tepesch whipped around to confront the buzzing of the gnat. Hatred percolated his very essence, and the emotion was only intensified with every reminder that sprung from his damaged limb. He caught the filthy windrat just as the pegasus was about to execute a flyby over his spine. Sharpened sights settled upon the exposed underside of the aerial ace, and the unicorn promptly grasped redemption by goring the officer’s stomach which his horn.

The stallion’s only regret was that he could only hear the desperate cries fleeing the little fucker’s mouth. The feel of bones breaking had escaped him, and the absolute wide-eyed look of terror upon the wriggling pony’s countenance could not be seen from this position. He could hear the sounds of hooves atop pavement as the orange one pressed for his comrade’s rescue. That effort would be for naught. He would channel the depths of hell itself through his magic and paint the plaza with the trash’s entrails.

An unforgivable crimson river coated his fur as Tepesch began to charge the decisive blow. More and more blood began to drench his slate coat and ivory threads while sensations of ache and agony spread about his frame. This was exactly what he had sought – a battle worthy of the ages and filled to brim with fear and revulsion. Yet eyes clouded by aversion do not often see…

In the span of several seconds, Amora had moved from her perch and pulled Wick from the pike’s spear. She had abandoned her protective cradle to envelope the pegasus in an argent wrap of healing light. He wheezed as the grueling injury closed – his leg never untightening its grip on the mare as she stared down the towering Tepesch.

The stallion stood before the opened gates of victory as he realized that the vital crimson tainting his physique did not belong to the razed windrat. The grating discomforts torturing his muscles and bones were not simply born in the thrill of the fight. They were not just mental projections of grandeur. They were real. It was all real.

An accented scream shook the court as Tepesch’s horn splintered and crumbled. Numerous bones fractured and snapped without provocation, and familiar wounds manifested upon the stallion’s skull and underside. His legs snapped and stretched as numerous unspoken questions leapt from his swollen orbs to the tranquil resolve of Amora’s scrutiny. “That worthless spell,” she answered as his skin bruised and ruptured in a plethora of excruciating lacerations, “just returned every injury you inflicted in the name of malice.”