Shadowed Bolts

by Shadowmane PX-41

Chapter 1: Divided

In the hallways of Crystal Prep, a student walking towards class was intercepted by another one wearing the old uniform. The student going to class was grabbed by the arm and thrown against the lockers.

"Brats like you should learn your place," the attacker said before stomping on the victim's face three times before pulling him back onto his feet, only to floor them with a single punch. "Cinch might be gone, but her influence – and her rules – are definitely here to stay!"

"Someone help me!" the bruised teen said before he was picked up and thrown once again, but over the other's shoulders. "I'm being attacked!"

"Face it, Black. No-one is coming to help you." The bully dealt another swift punch to Black's face. "This school belongs to the Defectors! We fight against the system so that we can impose the only rightful law at this academy!" He picked up the bloody boy and slammed his head against multiple lockers. "Principal Chrysalis is not fit to command us or any of the students here! We will fight to the bitter end until she finally packs her bags and leaves!"

"Hey!" Another boy called out. He was dressed in black padded clothing with a horned helmet on his head and a walkie-talkie attached to his belt. Taking a fighting stance, he taunted the bully. "Assault is against the rules! Stand down now or I will have to use force!"

"By all means, bring it on!" The Defector tossed Black to the ground and locked his gaze on the newcomer. "You putrid Changelings don't deserve to be here either!" He charged in and attempted to headbutt the enforcer, but was met with a number of jabs to the stomach and fell on his face.

The Changeling sighed. "Why don't you like the rule of Chrysalis, Hot Blooded?"

"It's just plain wrong!" Hot shouted. "We deserve order and discipline, not mercy and warnings! Cinch's way was better! Why did that stupid school board have to fire her for everything that happened?! AND WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE OUR SCHOOL'S REPUTATION SOILED BY THAT IRKSOME WITCH, CHRYSALIS?!" he tried to sweep the legs of the Changeling, but he leapt over it and had a knee hit him in the stomach.

"I offered you the easy way out, but you decided to force my hand." The Changeling picked up Hot's head and slammed it against the floor, knocking the uniformed student unconscious. After he had stopped moving entirey the student in black pulled out and turned on the walkie-talkie. "Queen Bee. We've got another unconscious Defector in the Eastern Hallway. Get a detention team down here on the double."

"Understood, Metamorphosis Seven. I'm just about to give the order," said Principal Chrysalis. "Stay where you are and make sure he doesn't get away."

"Over," the student said before putting the device back on his belt. He looked at the pacified student and scoffed. "Honestly, I wish there was a better way to stop these brutes from trying to rule our school..."

"Coming through!" Indigo Zap ran down the halls of CPA with sweat dripping down her forehead. She was now wearing a pair of aviator goggles on her head, sporting a yellow shirt and denim jeans. Ignoring the sneers of the uniformed students around her, she glanced down at the time on her phone before slipping the goggles down over her eyes. "What?! I thought I had more time than that!" She threw the phone back into her pocket. Academics had never really been Indigo's thing, but she wasn't about to let being tardy stop her from graduating.

With time playing against her, Indigo didn't even respond to the students who greeted her as she passed them by. She sprinted forward, heart pounding and fists clenching. Her chest heaved with every step. She needed to get to her next class in time, and there would be no distractions.

Unfortunately, Indigo's route took her down another corridor packed full of students. She weaved through the crowd, ducking under arms and sliding along lockers, until she crashed face-first into a shock of purple hair.

"Ow! Watch where you're—" Indigo stopped when she stood back up and realized who she had knocked over "—oh. Sorry about that, Sunny." She glanced at a textbook that had been dropped in the impact. "Hang on. Let me get that for you."

"Thank you, Indigo," said Sunny Flare as she dusted off her clothes. Her hair was no longer in its usual bowl cut, and was now draped down her shoulders with yellow bows tied around it. "but I've got this." She picked up the book and dusted off her her purple jacket and pink skirt. "Never let it be said that I cannot handle myself."

"Sorry about that. I'm just running a little late, and I seriously thought that it was fifteen minutes until my next class, not five."

"It's alright. Most people aren't very good at keeping time. In fact, recent surveys show that lovers often arrive to dates late due to their failure to properly estimate the amount of time needed to prepare."

Indigo raised a brow. "When did you get so knowledgeable?"

"Sugarcoat kinda rubbed off on me a little," Sunny said with a sheepish chuckle.

"Speaking of which, how's she handling all these bullies?" Indigo's face contorted into frown as she thought about her fellow classmate. "I'm a little worried that she could get hurt."

"She'll be fine. I know it," Sunny put her hand on Indigo's shoulder. "Crystal Prep students are tough, brave, and incredibly intelligent. And besides, we're Shadowbolts. We stick together through thick and thin, even if the odds are stacked against us."

Indigo's face brightened as Sunny gave her a pat on the back. "Thanks. And besides, you're right; the school might change, but whether or not the students change is really down to us. And even then, we've gotta choose whether we get even worse, or start to make things better."

"Looking back on it all, this school acted terribly under Cinch's rules what with all of us obeying her every command. But in light of recent events, I finally see that there's a way for us all to learn from our mistakes."

"Speaking of changing," Indigo said, glancing around, "what were your thoughts when Principal Chrysalis arrived?"

"Well, I was certainly surprised when they announced that Cinch had been fired. I can't say that I ever mourned our loss, but now that Chrysalis is in charge... things are getting worse around here. And all because of one group."

"The Defectors..." Indigo scowled as she set her eyes on one of the uniformed students, who stood near the wall, glaring at her and Sunny. "It’s been a month since Cinch left, and they're going around ranting about how Chrysalis 'isn't the rightful principal' and that things shouldn't have changed. They wanna go back to how things were before the Games. Those jerks are what's keeping this school from being perfect."

"I can't really blame them for acting that way." Sunny leaned against the nearest locker. "The Games had a massive impact on everyone, not just us."

"I can agree with you there. But at the same time, some of this is our fault. Our selfishness kept us from seeing what was really going on with Cinch and Twilight. If I'd known that the fate of the world was in our hands, I totally would have reconsidered playing for the Shadowbolts."

"Me too. But back to more important matters: why are you still talking to me when your class is about to start?"

"Well, I've been trying to get to class, but with all of these jerks with the crummy old uniforms on blocking most of the hallways, I've been forced to take the long road," Indigo clenched her fists. "I swear, if those stupid Defectors make me late again, then so help me..."

"And that's another thing I've been meaning to talk to you and the others about," Sunny said.

"What is it?"

"I've been thinking about those Defectors, and there’s something I can’t seem to figure out. Why is it that they would want to revive the ways of Principal Cinch in the first place? Don't they realize that bringing her back means ruining any chance we have of bringing friendship to Crystal Prep, let alone Canterlot High?"

"Yeah." Indigo nodded. "They just want to bring that old hag back so this school can go back to the way it was. A school where students are jerks for the sake of being jerks, just to keep up some fancy-schmancy reputation." She shook her head and took a deep breath. "But that's not really what's bugging me, Sunny. What really makes me mad is that those punks are claiming that we're the ones who ruined CPA. How? All we did was expose that witch as a power-crazed lunatic, and encouraged Twilight to transfer to a safer school. But those Defectors are treating us like little kids, pushing us around and stepping all over us!"

Indigo slammed one of her fists against the wall. "Have you ever been this angry in your life? Because I sure as heck haven't. Nuh-uh. Never!"

Sunny stayed stoic. "I wish we could just break through to them, let them see that there's another—a way that isn’t filled with hostility and hatred. But as long as they're all driven by the need to get Cinch back, there's absolutely no reasoning with them."

"They’re a bunch of thugs. Mindless thugs at that."

Indigo and Sunny turned to find Sugarcoat walking up to them. Her finely groomed uniform had been replaced by a simple white and yellow jumper Her red glasses had been replaced with yellow ones, and for what seemed to be the first time in years, she had let her hair down.

She stopped in front of them and adjusted her glasses. "Hello, you two. I assume you're having difficulty making it to class with these disruptions?"

"Hi, Sugarcoat!" Sunny Flare said, waving. "And yes. Because of these Defectors, Indigo's running the risk of being late again..."

"It's not my fault!" Indigo shot back, "Those jerks always seem to go after me when I'm right by the door!"

"A pity that they seem unwilling to play nice with rest of the school," Sugarcoat said. "If they would only wise up and learn that the past is in the past, then maybe we could bring Crystal Prep to become a safer place for everybody."

"How are Lemon Zest and Sour Sweet doing?" Sunny asked.

"Well, apart from crossing paths with the Defectors at least half a dozen times today, our friends have been left unscathed." Sugarcoat sighed. "Sour seems to hate the Defectors most of all. I'm surprised that she's stayed neutral throughout all this; although at this point, it seems she's one more outburst away from siding with the Changelings, just so she can – in her own words – 'teach those losers a lesson'."

"I wish it didn't have to be this way..." Sunny Flare hung her head, only looking up when Sugarcoat reached for her hand.

"Me too, Sunny. This constant fighting is making the school worse than before, and it saddnes me to see our former classmates attacking other students, or being attacked themselves."

"We all want this school to change, but how are we supposed to help when the Defectors hate our guts for something that's not even our fault?" asked Sunny.

"Well, technically, we did kinda force Twilight to go along with the whole magic deal." Indigo rubbed the back of her head. She blinked a few times, then stomped a foot. "Darn! Why didn't we see that before?!" She scowled and turned back to her friends. "I guess that's another reason why this silly fighting needs to stop."

The bell rang, and Indigo gasped. "Oh, crud! I've gotta get to class!" She scrambled to grab her stuff, then charged down the hallway without looking back. "I'll see you and the others at lunch!" she shouted before disappearing.

The hands of the clock hanging over the massive double doors of the cafeteria read 12:50. Nobody paid attention to it, though.

The cafeteria of Crystal Prep was quite expansive, with a group of tables on the ground and a flight of stairs that led up towards a mezzanine with more tables. Not a few of the tables were occupied by groups of students, most of which were friends with each other. The upper level, however, had been taken over by the Defectors. They took up all of the tables,glowering down on the other students like vultures, as they devoured their food.

Sour Sweet and Lemon Zest scanned the menu for the day. It held all the standards—salads, pizzas, soups, pastas—along with a few names that just made Lemon's head spin. Sour Sweet grabbed what she wanted, while Lemon Zest took a minute to just stare

"Mirepoix? Cavatappi? What?" she asked as she leered at each of the different foods. "What kind of names are those?"

"Mirepoix is a fancy term used for an assortment of rare mixed vegetables, and Cavatappi is a type of pasta," Sugarcoat stood next to Lemon Zest. "Just in case you're still confused by it."

"Hey, Sugarcoat." Lemon Zest waved before she picked up a plate of hot food, alongside a serving of salad. Moving to pour herself a drink, she asked, "Did those jerks give you a hard time again?"

"Not exactly." Sugarcoat filled a bowl with soup. "Most of them forget about you when they don’t understand a word you say." She turned to Lemon Zest, who was just about to pay for her food. "I encountered a few today, but after a simple explanation of the Theory of Happiness and asking on what made them happy, they got all downhearted and let me on my way."

"They'll come back, you know," Sour Sweet said as both Lemon and Sugarcoat paid. "Those brutes would've slugged me if it weren't for the Changelings being there." She scowled. "I'd just like to get my hands on those monsters and..." She reached forward to strangle an invisible Defector

"Violence isn’t the answer, Sour Sweet. At least, not always," Sugarcoat said. "Just look at all the people out in the world who are locked in jail for throwing so much as a single punch."

"Yeah. Not even those freaks could get away with something like that," Lemon Zest said before turning on one of her favourite songs. The sound blasted through her headphones, and she leapt into an intense headbanging session. "But still, those Defectors are facing expulsion if they keep on fighting the students..."

Sour and Sugar nodded. The trio hurried over to a nearby table, where Sunny Flare and Indigo Zap were waiting for them. Once the whole group had arrived, they all took their seats and put their trays down.

"You know, it's kind of sad, really." Sunny Flare glanced up at the Defectors for a brief moment, but turned back before she could be noticed. "On one hand, you can choose to side with the Defectors and spend your time pushing people around because they want some ‘greater future.’ But on the other hand, if you sign up with the Changelings, the time you would spend studying would be minimized on a large scale due to all of the duties Chrysalis would give you..."

"But at the same time, if you're with the Changelings, at least, you're trying to do something to overturn what happened in the past," Sour Sweet added through a mouthful of pizza. Her smile melted into a grimace. "And by that, I mean beating up some stupid little punks who don't know when they've lost."

"Don't antagonize them." Indigo pointed up at the Defectors. "Not here. You don't want to try and start a fight with the Defectors—especially not in a crowded room where anyone could get caught in the crossfire."

Sour Sweet sighed. "I'm sorry, Indigo. It's just that I've had enough of those bullies thinking that bringing back Cinch will make this school better. It's not just the bipolar syndrome talking here. It's the fact that I speak for everyone when I say that this has gone on long enough."

"It's been going on for longer than that, Sour." Sugarcoat ate a spoonful of soup. "If things aren't rectified quickly, then there's the possibility that Crystal Prep could soon become infamous—again. We could quickly degrade into one of the worst schools in the country if those villains are allowed to have their way here."

"But what can we do about it?!" Indigo shouted. "Ever since the Friendship Games, those jerks have been at our throats for what happened!" She slammed one of her fists down on the table. "And it doesn't matter what we try to say. They'll just brush us off, beat us up, or something else just as horrible if we try!"

The lunchroom went silent as everyone stared at Indigo Zap. High above, the Defectors watched with bemused faces before returning to their lunches. A few seconds passed before everyone went back to their lunches.

"Sorry about that," Indigo said, deflating. "But you do get what I mean, right?"

"Yeah, we understand," Sunny Flare said. "A lot has changed in the past month, but one thing’s for certain: the Defectors are the worst thing to ever happen to Crystal Prep."

A shout rang out from the mezzanine. At the top stood three Defectors: two boys, and one girl. The boys’ hands were clenched into fists, while the girl’s legs just trembled.

"You've got some nerve coming up here after what you posted last night." said the boy on the right. He whipped out his phone and shoved it in the girl’s face. "Why would you hang out with those Wonderdolts, Fleur?!"

"Hey! We may all be fighting change, but at least I have enough honour to have some fun every now and again!" Fleur shouted back. "We may want rebellion, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun as well!"

"There is no fun at Crystal Prep anymore, especially now that you’ve turned against us!" he said. "So by all means, hang out with those jerks at CHS!"

The argument between Fleur and the boy went on for quite a while, and it had already grabbed the attention of Sunny Flare, Indigo Zap, Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, and Sugarcoat. The five of them watched with mixed emotions as the three Defectors fought.

"Why don't you all lighten up for once in your lives?!" Fleur spat, causing the whole room to fall silent.

"Alright. I think it's safe to say that your time's up, Fleur de Lis." Another male Defector with white hair approached. "You started off as one of us, but after what's happened here, I'd say that you're nothing more than a dirty double-crosser. This is a serious war we're facing here—something you don't seem to understand. You're going to pay for your betrayal, and everything else that you've done here at Crystal Prep!"

He threw out a foot and caught Fleur right in the stomach. Fleur yelped and flew backwards. Everyone gasped as Fleur tumbled down the staircase, arms and legs scraping against the metal steps. She hit the ground hard and her tray spilled all over her.

And through it all, the Defectors just laughed.

"Oh, man!" Indigo said, leaping from her seat. "So not cool... Come on!"

Within seconds, the Shadowbolts and a few other students surrounded Fleur. They glared up at the Defectors before looking down on the girl and helping her off the ground.

"Sweet mother of..." Lemon Zest tore off her headphones, and grabbed some napkins to wipe the blood from Fleur's legs.

A group of black-clad students burst through the door. They went to work checking her vitals, cleaning the food off of her face and body, and helping to stop the last of the blood from spilling.

"What happened here?" one of the Changelings asked.

"Justice happened! That's what!" The first male Defector shouted out, earning a cheer from the rest of his group. "She turned on our cause by partying up with those Wondercolt idiots at Canterlot High, so it's only fair that we kicked her from our society!"

Another Changeling, ignoring the taunting group merely pushed a button on a walkie-talkie. "This is Metamorphosis Three to Queen Bee. We've got a wounded student down at the cafeteria. She needs urgent medical attention. A few cut marks and blood coming out of the back of her head. Get a team down here now!"

"Copy that, Metamorphosis Three. I saw everything on the cameras," Principal Chrysalis's raspy voice floated from the walkie-talkie. "I've already sent Dean Cadence to get a medical team. They should arrive momentarily."

"Are you alright?" A third Changeling asked Fleur, who was starting to groan. "Can you walk?"

"Not really," Fleur stammered, looking down at her ruined uniform. "When I recover, I'm breaking off from that despicable hive mind of monsters."

"Good for you." another Changeling said before the medical team walked in, with Dean Cadence watching from afar. "But for now, I want you to just lay down again for a bit."

Fleur complied with the orders of the nurses, and within seconds a stretcher was slid underneath her body. The nurses lifted Fleur off the ground. Fleur let out a breath and closed her eyes—but as she left the cafeteria, the students watching heard a whimper, then a gasp, and then a full-bodied sob.

"Alright. Students of Crystal Prep!" the first Changeling said, taking off his helmet. "I advise that for your own safety that you take your lunches out of the hall and eat them elsewhere! This is a one-time thing that we are permitting only after seeing the brutality that the Defectors have caused!"

"It's not brutality! It's the right thing to do!" a female Defector yipped. "After what happened at the Friendship Games, Crystal Prep has gone from the top of the food chain to the laughing stock of the state!"

The Defectors and Changelings argued with each other for a while, spurring the other students to grab their lunches and leave. Sugarcoat and her friends were the last ones to leave.

Sugarcoat said, "This ends now. With those bullies in play, our school is turning into a hunting ground..."

"But you saw first hand what those meanies are capable of," Lemon Zest pointed out in a strained voice. "What can we do if we're ever going to turn this place around?"

"We might not be able to do anything..." Indigo Zap's eyes went wide. "But I think that I know some people who do."

"Who?" the others all asked simultaneously.

"Back at Canterlot High School, there were six students that Twilight Sparkle had really taken a liking to." Indigo started to explain. "Apparently, those girls are all about friendship, and unless my brain's turning to mush, they used their friendship magic to save the world at the last Friendship Games. Remember?"

Sunny raised a finger. "Yeah, but how are we going to convince them to come to Crystal Prep and sort this mess out? They must still bear some sort or resentment for us. I mean, considering how many times we’ve beaten them."

"They won't be able to ignore something like the Defectors," Indigo said, "especially not when the whole of CPA lies in their hands."

"But why can't we just ask the other students to all stand up and try and change the Defectors' minds together?" Sour Sweet asked. "Isn't that better than this pathetic fighting?"

"Look, even if we get the rest of the faculty together, there's no telling how hard it'll be to break through to those jerks." Indigo sighed. "I think our best bet for now is to rely on those Wondercolt girls to fix this."

"You're right." Sugarcoat looked back and saw the Defectors and the Changelings war. "And from the looks of things, we'd better do it fast. Both sides are fighting like animals."

As the other girls looked back and saw the fighting, they grimaced. They all knew that if they couldn't get the help of the girls at CHS to fix their problems, then the fighting would never end.