“Lyra! Please! You have to fight it!” pleaded Bon Bon as the kaoshark that used to be her marefriend swam toward her, strange arms flailing about.
Just before the four appendages could grab her, Trixie, floating next to her, pulled her along by the tail. The green kaoshark turned and tried to reach Bon Bon again with its thin and elongated arms but only managed to grasp empty water as Trixie changed course at the last second. Bon Bon lost sight of the Lyra-kaoshark for a few seconds before she found herself face to face with Trixie, the unicorn holding her by the shoulders. She could hear Ek’idna’s laughter echoing across the ocean; clearly amused by the dance they just did with her new minion.
“Take hold of yourself!” said the blue mare, glaring, “We KNOW this spell isn’t permanent. We just have to keep her away from that…that monster over there long enough and she’ll turn back to normal!”
Before Bon Bon could answer she was quickly pulled aside by Trixie, this time not to avoid one of her marefriend’s new arms but to dodge a blast of dark magic aimed at the pair of them. This movement, however, put them in a direct collision course with said transformed mare.
Ditzy came out of nowhere with Scylla, and the two caused the Lyra-Kaoshark to crash into the sea floor, kicking up a cloud of sand that obscured her form for a second.
“How many times do I have to say it today?” Asked Ditzy, panting from exertion, “You can’t help her if you get captured! Don’t make me repeat myself again or I’ll be VERY cross.”
For an instant Bon Bon felt like her mother had just scolded her. She took a surveying glance around her. She saw Trixie, whom she never really gotten that well with in the past but was a true friend to Lyra, of that there was no doubt. She had known Ditzy for years and knew the pegasus had a protective streak a mile wide when it came to those she cared about. Then there were the two new ponies, Rock Beauty and Sea Shanty, who had apparently met Lyra while they were all captives of the kaosharks. They hadn’t known Lyra long but she had made a strong enough impression that they were willing to come back here to help her. Finally there was Scylla, who was a rather rough type but Bon Bon wasn’t fooled by her tough act: the merpony leader clearly cared for her clan. Bon Bon mused that she reminded her of Raindrops in a way.
These musings only took about a second to flash in her head, but it was just enough for the earth pony mare to reestablish her resolve to save her Lyra. She was still scared, and she still didn’t feel like a hero, but she wasn’t going to run away now! Not without the love of her life!
And now Scylla was charging the mad monster with the magical doodad.
Score one for the Raindrops comparison. Then again it was far more reckless than the stoic weathermare usually was, so maybe score one half?
But Bon Bon didn’t have time to appreciate the reminders of home. A slender green arm shot from the cloud of sand and grabbed the nearby Scylla by the tail fin, slamming her into the ocean floor where she disappeared in the kicked up silt!
“SCYLLA!” Called a panicked Rock Beauty as she dived into the cloud, only to find herself swatted away by a slap of the kaoshark’s muscular tail.
The little merpony ended up being caught by Sea Shanty in mid trajectory before she could hit a nearby rock.
“How about you join my army, Scylla?” asked Ek’idna, her toothy maw distorting into what Bon Bon assumed was a sneer.
A struggling Scylla was raised from the bottom of the sea, held up by the four arms of the creature that used to be Lyra. The menacing half boar creature held up the Jellyfish Lantern, clearly intending to use it.
“I won’t let you! Zizanie’s not the only one who can do Magic Missiles!” boldly declared Trixie, grabbing the two monsters’ attention.
Her horn glowed and five shimmering rainbow projectiles appeared around her, all aimed forward. Ek’idna didn’t seem to feel threatened by the display however. As if in response, the round lure at the tip of the stalk sticking out of her forehead glowed a dark violet color and a high-pitched hum began to resonate in the ocean. This confused Bon Bon for a second before she heard Trixie wail in pain. The blue unicorn was clutching her head, clearly suffering, and the shimmer of magic around her horn flickered. The five magic missiles vanished as quickly as they had appeared, Trixie unable to maintain the illusions.
“Trixie! What’s going on?!” asked the earth pony as she felt on the verge of panic.
Trixie was clearly in no position to give a coherent answer. “It hurts! It hurts! Make it stop!!”
“You think you’re the first unicorn I've encountered you infantile blowhard? Now that I am in my true form, none of your little tricks will matter!”
Bon Bon turned to Ditzy for guidance, only to gasp when the pegasus vanished! The earth pony had no idea when Trixie had replaced their friend with an illusion, but she didn’t have time to wonder where the real Ditzy was because she appeared only a few feet to the side of Ek’idna. The pegasus was swimming like a mare possessed and closing the distance fast! Ek’idna spotted her but couldn’t react in time. With a show of anger Bon Bon had never seen the mailmare display she landed a fore hoof right on the side of the monster’s face. Bon Bon would swear to her dying day that she saw a smirk on the gentle Ditzy’s face when the hit landed, and that one of the creature’s fang was broken on impact. The violet glow around her lure went out immediately, Ek’idna’s own spell clearly disrupted by the sudden assault. Ditzy’s wings then suddenly flared out and the unseen force of a stray current pushed her forward. With the kind of ease that would put to shame any professional hoofball player, she grabbed hold of the mysterious Jellyfish Lantern and made off with it.
“Get back here you pest!” growled Ek’idna, turning her entire focus on Ditzy.
Bon Bon was stunned to see the whole confrontation suddenly devolve into a schoolyard game of keep-away. Ek’idna sent a tendril of violet energy out of her lure to grab Ditzy, only for the pegasus to pass the prize to Rock Beauty. The kaoshark that used to be Lyra threw away Scylla like a rag doll to give chase, only for Sea Shanty to get involved. Scylla, who quickly recovered her bearing, immediately joined the game. The poor candy maker felt even more out of place than usual, and thus when the crystalline orb was sent her way she was caught completely unprepared. Seeing the two monstrous forms of the kaoshark and Ek’idna turned toward her caused Bon Bon to panic. She knew she couldn’t let the bad guys have the item, but they were now blocking any passing opportunity… and so she did the first thing that came to her mind.
She smashed the ancient, millennia old, relic of untold power against a rock.
“THERE! Now you can’t have it!” shouted Bon Bon, triumphantly, as shards of crystals flew off around her in slow motion.
Everybody else at the scene just stared at her in shock. Even the bad guys had stopped moving. Trixie’s jaw looked like it wanted to scrape the bottom of the ocean, and Scylla’s left eye looked ready to vibrate out of her eye socket. Ek’idna’s face though seemed to have been frozen in horror.
“What? Did…did I do something wrong?” asked the earth pony, confused.
She looked at the piece of the Lantern still in her hoof but recoiled in surprise as a pulsating ball of purple light floated out of the bowl-shaped piece of carved coral. She tossed the piece aside and watched the odd phenomenon in awe. It was about the size of a cantaloupe and seemed to fluctuate in hue to the beat of an unseen force inside the ball itself. It looked like something trying to hatch from an egg made of gum. The orb seemed to float in place for a moment before slowly making it’s way toward Ek’idna and her minion. Bon Bon thought this was bad but to everybody’s surprise the villain started to swim away in terror.
“No! Stay away! Stay away!” she pleaded.
The kaoshark then began to moan in pain, dark energy coursing throughout its body in a manner similar to what had happened to Cetus earlier. Bon Bon looked on with a mix of relief and worry as the energy was seemingly ripped out of Lyra’s body; flying to the orb as it passed by. The passing orb left behind her marefriend, back to her normal self. Ek’idna and the orb were forgotten at the sight and Bon Bon simply rushed to Lyra’s side.
“What’s going on? What’s happening?” asked Trixie, confused.
“The power trapped in the lantern… it’s trying to become whole again!” commented Scylla.
“And that’s bad, right?” asked Trixie, “I assume it’s bad because the bad guy who would want that power is running away from it now.”
Scylla nodded. “Very bad.”
Ditzy looked between the pair and the orb. “What do we do?”
Ek’idna had turned tail, forgetting all about her enemies, and was swimming away as fast as she could, only for a tendril of energy to shoot out of the ball and grab her, making her convulse in pain and halting her escape. The creature screamed and pleaded with the strange energy as they were drawn closer and closer together. From over the ridge more tendrils of energy seemed to fly from the sight of the nearby battlefield.
“There’s nothing we can do,” grimly answered Scylla.
Zizanie was panting.
Fighting underwater was hard! She couldn’t get the speed on her strike she wanted, she constantly had to make sure she had something solid under her before attacking, and there was just so many of those darn monstrosities! Some of them didn’t even seem to make sense! Whoever put a crocodile head on a shark was clearly running out of imagination! Charybdis and her were doing their best to coordinate the freed prisoners but none of them were in top condition.
But they had to hold on, as Dusky Jack and Sea Racer were bound to show up soon enough with a combined force of seapony and merpony.
Though at this point Zizanie just wanted an opportunity to slip out. They had found Ditzy Doo and the others were currently rescuing Lyra Heartstring at the same moment. As soon as reinforcement arrived Zizanie figured that was enough to repay the debt she felt she owed the Elements bearers. Plus all this saltwater was going to wreak havoc on her mane! She wasn’t particularly vain by nature, at least not more so than any other good looking mare was, but it just wasn’t possible to impersonate a high society airhead without a properly maintained mane!
Zizanie’s musing were interrupted when a high-pitched hum began to resonate throughout the ocean, coming from somewhere beyond her line of sight. She gasped in pain as the sound seemingly resonated through her horn and straight into her skull. It was incredibly painful and distracting, a perfect combination for stopping a unicorn from casting any spells, or from doing anything for that matter. In reflex she grabbed her head and found herself grabbed by one of the kaoshark. She couldn’t clearly see which one, her eyes shut in pain, but it was one with big hairy arms.
And then, almost as suddenly as it had started, the hum was gone and her captor was hit in the back of the head by one of the merpony. Unfortunately this did not result in Zizanie being freed. Instead the burly kaoshark decided to use her as a bludgeoning weapon and she was swung around to swat away the offending merpony.
That was a thoroughly unpleasant experience and Zizanie wished more than ever that she had never come to Cayo El Bayo in the first place. Still disoriented from having been weaponized, Zizanie found herself thrown into a group of fighters and ended up in a pile of hooves and flippers at the bottom of the ocean. When she freed herself from the limbs of her allies and the cloud of silt they had kicked up she found all the kaosharks convulsing in pain. The energy of the spell holding them in their unnatural form was apparently trying to escape their bodies. As one the magical energy flew out of each kaosharks as long tendrils of purple energy. They left behind a group of unconscious seaponies and merponies, all of them immediately besieged by their families and friends seeking to help their missing loved ones. It was a fairly surprising miracle, but not an unwelcomed one.
“Sea Beauty!” cried Charybdis, rushing to a younger seapony’s side.
Sea Beauty was a light grey seapony with a unkept looking tuff of yellow hair on her head. Zizanie mused that she looked a bit like Ditzy Doo, explaining maybe how the seapony leader had so easily taken to the Ponyville mailmare. Zizanie wasn’t usually into the mushy stuff, but even she had to admit it was heartwarming to see, what she assumed was, a mother reunited with her child like that. The problem with that scene is that it made Zizanie think of her own family, and she couldn’t have any of that.
“Well I better go… “ She said to herself, dreading the journey.
The shore wasn’t particularly far; it was just going to be a long walk to get back to Cayo El Bayo. Hopefully, with a little luck and lots of charm, she could find another boat and hitch a ride back.
“Good luck with the rest, Lulamoon.”
Lyra had a headache. It wasn’t a terribly fun sensation to wake up to, but she’d partied with Cheerilee in the past so it wasn’t a particularly new one. The taste of saltwater on her lips reminded her that she was still underwater, but there was also a certain hint of sugar thrown in. There was a familiar smell, and also a familiar presence punctuated by happy sobs. She opened to her eyes to realize that Bon Bon was holding her tightly.
“What happened to me? I feel like I missed something…” she said, groggily.
Lyra intentionally omitted the detail that she also felt hungry and the only thing coming to her mind was fish. Why was she hungry for fish? This wasn’t the first time she felt a craving for some other animals’ flesh and she felt that twice was entirely too often during a pony’s life! Had she been transformed into something carnivorous again because that was not a habit she wanted to pick up!
“There’s nothing we can do,” she heard Scylla answer somepony.
Bon Bon began to answer between sobs, “That…that monster she… she…”
That answer would have to wait because a howl of pain distracted both mares. Lyra spotted Ek’idna, a fair distance away, being faced by a ball of energy the same color as the Jellyfish Lantern. Crackling arcs of dark energy were flying from the ball and into the mishmash aquatic monster, each one causing her to scream in pain. She was clearly trying to swim away from the ball of energy but it kept following her, slowly catching up to her every time she was wracked by pain. More swirls of the mysterious magic were flying in from beyond a nearby ridge and they would orbit the pair, creating a rapidly swirling ring of light that seemed to constrict as Ek’idna slowed down.
Lyra could only say one thing at the spectacle. “What the hay?!”
“Your marefriend here broke the Jellyfish Lantern! The magic inside is trying to find a vessel and it picked Ek’idna!” explained Scylla, having to raise her voice over the combined cacophony of crackling and pained scream. “This is the magic power of an ancient being, maybe Nereus himself. Its original host is long gone!”
“No! It’s too much! TOO MUCH!” howled Ek’idna as the last bit of dark energy from over the ridge joined the whirling ring.
Ek’idna tried to run away by swimming over a rock formation but the magic caught with her and began to enter her body. The screaming half-boar creature fell to the bottom of the ocean beyond the rocks and a sound, not unlike an explosion, resounded as a large cloud of silt was kicked up.
All became silence.
Everypony stood stock still, staring at the cloud and the rock formation, still reeling from the recent confrontation Lyra had clearly missed. Finally it was Trixie who broke the silence.
“Did…did she just blow up?” she asked, confused.
As if to answer her a… a sound was suddenly heard. Lyra’s first instinct was to describe this sound as a roar, but it didn’t resemble any roar she had ever heard. More like two metal blades rubbing against each other, inside a metal box or barrel. Whatever the sound was, it just felt inherently unnatural, twisted and plain wrong!
Rock Beauty gasped. “Look!” she said, pointing to the cloud.
A dark shape began to rise from beyond the rock formation. A dark green sinuous shape, like a snake or a sea serpent, as thick as a pony’s barrel and about six to eight feet in length. Its head broke through the cloud and let out a howl, similar to the sound heard previously but without the bizarre echo from before. Its head was pointed and the top covered by what seemed to be a thick layer of shiny reflective armor in a darker green. It was devoid of eyes entirely and its maw, opening when it howled, revealed at least two row of small but sharp triangular teeth.
“I don’t think she exploded Trixie,” commented Ditzy.
The blue unicorn was visibly stunned by the turn of event “She turned into a sea serpent?!”
“Maybe not just one…” said Sea Shanty as a second head rose from the bottom.
And then a third.
And a fourth.
And a fifth.
All five heads roared in unison, producing the exact same sound that heralded the appearance of the first head. Lyra realized that this wasn’t five different creatures, but rather one single, five headed, entity! Before she could share this revelation all five heads rose up, revealing a massive shape beneath them. It was a large round mass, easily as wide as a train cart was long, vaguely shaped like the bell of a jellyfish, all in green and darkening on the bottom half with the five heads positioned evenly around its shape.
“This is definitely not good. Not good at all…” commented Scylla, slowly backing away from the massive abomination.
Before their eyes the massive shape began to shift, the body slowly moving toward the surface while the heads bent downward. When the body was aimed directly facing Lyra and her friends a massive eyeball blinked open. It was bigger than Lyra herself, bulging out slightly, with a green iris set within a disturbing golden sclera. The massive eyeball shifted erratically, its unexpressive glare running all over the landscape before it focused directly on the ponies that had caused it to appear. Lyra felt like the glare was piercing her right to her soul. The pupil shrank and it once again howled, its entire body seemingly shaking with rage.
“Yeah… I think I’m done being a hero now,” said Bon Bon.