A Change of Routine
It took some grueling hours of insomnia before Statice was finally asleep. He even went as far as to cancel his Alarm Spell to conserve some magic and sleeping time despite his dislike for oversleeping. Discord did not come to visit him early, much to the unicorn’s joy as it gave him more time to rest. By the time the draconequus finally showed up, Statice had already finished eating breakfast.
“Good morning!” Discord showed up with a newspaper featuring the latest news in Equestria. “Did you have a good night sleep, Statice?”
“Not good enough,” Statice mumbled grumpily.
“Did you have a nightmare, Statice?” Discord asked mockingly, giving an innocent pout at him. The only response he got was a dour look from the unicorn.
“I don’t have nightmares,” Statice shook his head.
“Denial,” Discord accused him in a singsong tone.
“It is a fact,” Statice spoke in a serious tone that froze the Spirit of Disharmony on his tracks. “When I was a foal, my master fed me a special potion that prevented me from dreaming so that I won’t lose sleep by nightmares. He made me drink that concoction for years until I was no longer capable of dreaming. Believe me, Discord. I did not have a nightmare.”
Discord winced at the idea. Nightmares were terrifying, especially if they were omens for tragedies to come. The fact that Statice was denied the ability to even dream was inexcusable to him. A colt had the right to dream, regardless of whether the dreams were good or bad. It was up to nopony to deny him that. Even for somepony that used to destroy and corrupt ponies for his hijinks, Discord found what Statice’s master did to him as something disgusting. It was a good thing that Luna was not present or things would have gotten ugly for Statice’s master as the Princess of the Night was not going to rest until she managed to capture and punish him for messing with a colt’s dreams.
“That may explain why Princess Luna has found it impossible to catch you ever since your initial escape,” Discord stroke his beard. “Luna specializes in dream magic, so it is possible that your inability to dream prevents Luna’s mind from connecting with yours.”
“I guess that was a good thing,” Statice smiled in relief, finding himself sighing at the thought that he was safe from having somepony use his dreams as a beacon to find him at his most vulnerable. “At least I won’t have to worry about falling asleep.”
Good thing I didn't think too much of her dream magic. The last thing I needed was being too worried about whether too sleep or not to sleep.
“Any other unusual potions that your master had you drink?” Discord asked with a raised eyebrow, feeling that he was not going to like the answer.
I don't see the harm in telling him. He's my friend. It might as well help in the reconcilliation.
“There was some hormone potion,” Statice recalled loudly. “It was designed to prevent my hormones from finding other females attractive. As a side effect, my growing was inhibited so that explains my softer appearance.”
“I always thought that your cute appearance was natural,” Discord teased him with a cheek pinch. “But that also brings another question. Do you like girls?”
Statice grimaced at the question. It was very hard for him to talk about his attraction to the opposite gender when he was just starting to discover it. Still, it was time to get it off his chest before things had the chance of getting awkward.
“I like girls…but it is a very recent development. That potion…prevented me from acting out on my attraction to them. There were high chances that they were thieves or mercenaries trying to capture me and do other…unexpected stuff.”
Discord gave Statice a weird look, but he was interrupted before he had the chance of speaking out. By the looks of what Statice was saying, it was important, as not even the unicorn was so confident about his answer.
“I was capable of acknowledging if a girl was attractive, but I never felt more than that. It was more like noticing a physical feature of somepony else and not be interested on it. I was given some mental training and discipline just in case that pheromone potion didn’t work so as to not to let my guard down around the opposite gender. I only stopped taking the potion after I retired and I started to look at girls more often than ever.”
“When did you start?” Discord asked, already wanting to find out Statice’s first crush. “Was she pretty? Where did you find her?”
“About the same time that I set hoof on Equestria,” Statice begun. “After a few weeks, I started checking out every pretty mare that started walking around me.”
“Every mare, you said?” Discord asked, now astounded. Statice had always seemed like the stoic, silent, and brooding stallion that all mares desired because he showed no interest in them. Finding out that he liked girls back with the same intensity as them sounded just so out of the blue…and he was starting to like what he was hearing.
Never pictured the bad boy to be girl crazy… No… I need to make sure…
“I’ve never had a crush,” Statice confessed. “I almost had a crush like many times. I see a pretty mare, I start looking at her, and then I change my sights to another mare that is close to her. I don’t really have a chance to get a crush on a mare because I get distracted by another.”
Oh, what the heck! I might as well ask him! This is gonna be good!
“Statice…” Discord called out to his friend, biting his own lip as to not giggle. He had come to a conclusion based on what the green unicorn was telling him and his next question was one whose answer he was definitely going to enjoy. “Are you by chance…girl crazy?”
Statice blushed. “Yes,” he admitted.
The draconequus roared in laughter, clutching his stomach with his arms and kicking his legs in the air. His tail was waving furiously, just like a dog when it was about to be given a treat. Statice was not amused and was already having an eye twitch. It wasn’t funny to be laughed at when he was talking about his problems, especially one that gave him much embarrassment.
Why did I even bother mentioning the hormone potion? Why couldn't I just lie and just say the dream-depriving potion was the only one I drank? Heck, why did I think he was even going to understand this issue?
“It’s hard to believe that the stoic outlaw is girl-crazy!” Discord was now closing his lion paw into a fist and banging it on the ground.
“Believe it,” Statice glared at him. “I got lots of repressed hormones that have been stored for years finally bursting out for a few weeks. I can’t help it. To make matters worse, most of the population of Equestria is female so I…”
“That’s bad for you,” Discord wiped a tear from his eye. “Your new home has the highest levels of estrogen that the world has ever seen.”
“I already saw the evidence, Discord,” Statice deadpanned, not happy with having the obvious pointed at him. “And believe me, Discord. You have no place to laugh at me when I’ve been acting like myself in spite of the large abundance of eye-candy around here.”
“You’re right about that,” Discord lifted a fist of his lion paw. “Bump my paw as a sign of respect to you, Statice.”
“You don’t have one of those things that shock you on your paw, right?” he asked the draconequus skeptically. “I’ve seen pranks like this in Hobuck, Discord.”
“I’m not wearing any rings,” Discord turned his paw around and wiggled his fingers playfully. The paw was bare, free of any rings or hidden gizmos to electrocute him. Despite the apparent safety of the bump, Statice still felt uneasy.
“But you can make your paw electric or pop out a shocking ring the second I bump my hoof in your paw,” Statice replied as he eyed him suspiciously. “Friend or not, you’re still a prankster, Discord.”
“I would NEVER do that to a friend, Statice!” Discord retaliated with mock hurt and anger, although Statice did notice him scribbling the idea with a pencil and a notebook with his tail. “Besides, I wanted to say goodbye to my friend. Duty calls after all.”
Statice gave Discord another skeptical glance before smiling at him. He lifted his hoof and bumped it with the draconequus, feeling surprised that he felt no electrical surge flowing across his foreleg to the rest of his body. He was about to thank him, only to find nothing more than a storm cloud on his lair.
“I better prepare Aster for his day out,” Statice said as he unleashed his magic and did the necessary spells. He came out of his lair as the new pegasus of Ponyville and trotted towards town.
“A couple more days and that’s it,” Statice reminded himself. “I just have to find a place to live without bringing suspicions. Maybe I will take some ideas from some ponies, maybe even use a few locations to divert them from finding me while I take residence in a different town or city. That sounds good.”
“The only thing that sounds good is the sound of your new voice,” a growl from above kept him from talking.
Statice paused and turned around, looking at his surroundings. He used his new pegasus eyes to search for any sight of movement. Moments like this made him wish that he was back to being a unicorn again. Statice had trained himself to be a fighter as an earth pony and as a pegasus, but that did not mean that his fighting style in both species was as powerful as when he was in his original race. Right now, he hoped that his enemy was not the type of enemy that demanded the use of magic to be beaten.
“Show yourself, coward!” Statice demanded, expecting that his new voice was threatening enough to scare off his enemy.
“All in due time, my prey,” the stranger purred darkly.
Statice’s eyes widened. The stranger’s voice was familiar. Furthermore, he was aware that Statice’s current voice was not his real one. They must have talked at some point in the past. He closed his eyes and tried to remember any individual of his past that may have a grudge with him. All that he needed to do for confirmation was to hear the stranger talk some more.
“What’s your beef with me?” Statice challenged with some griffin slang that he picked up from his travels for when he wanted to sound tough and threatening against enemies that were verbally antagonizing him. “I am just a pegasus that took a walk through a forest. In what way does that earn your enmity?”
“You can change your voice, Statice, but you cannot change your darkness,” the voice growled a little aggressively.
He knows my real name? Darn it! I thought I had cut all the loose ends! Why did this have to happen right now? No! Calm down and review the facts!
Statice gritted his teeth. The stranger was somepony from his past and had managed to identify him despite his new shape. The bothersome part was the allusion to darkness and that the voice was becoming more familiar. The list was narrowed down considerably, but there were still too many enemies to identify. Deciding that this was taking too long, Statice decided to get some answers.
“Time to play twenty questions,” Statice muttered under his breath before asking at the trees. “Who are you?” he asked. It took a tense moment of silence for him to get an answer from his aggressor.
“You don’t remember me?” the voice asked angrily after the pause.
“I don’t remember a lot…” Statice replied with a flick of his head. “I got so many individuals who want to destroy me that I lost count. I got such a long list of enemies that even some of them sound like you. I’m not gonna try to guess who you are by the sound of your voice. Let’s just cut to the chase and be done with it.”
“Fair enough,” the voice answered with a dangerously low growl.
A reddish brown blur flew at Statice, almost hitting him as he jumped into the air and kept himself floating with hasty wing flapping. Statice stared down at his enemy in shock as he finally recognized him.
He was a griffin with brown fur and red feathers. His body was highly muscular, particularly in the upper section. He was wearing shades that covered the color of his eyes, but Statice did not need to know such detail…because he was the reason that the griffin was wearing them in the first place.
“Piercing Gaze,” Statice stared at his former enemy.
I guess I was right about using griffin slang. I was just trying to sound tough for my mystery stalker.
“You have grown a lot, Statice,” Piercing Gaze acknowledged him coldly as he started circling him, like a predator about to eat his prey.
“And I see that your shades are the only thing that changed about you,” Statice countered, smirking with satisfaction when he made the griffin growl at him.
“Straight to the point, aren’t you?” Piercing Gaze dug his talons into the grass.
“You started it,” Statice spat unsympathetically. “Are you upset about the whole cabin thing?”
“You BLINDED me, you stupid cub!” Piercing Gaze snarled at Statice. His wings flared and his talons were now sinking deeper into the soil.
“The correct term for a young pony is foal,” Statice corrected him, unfazed by his anger. “And to be honest, the blinding and the cabin was your fault. My role in those misfortunes was purely accidental. However, it doesn’t change the fact that what happened to you was your fault and that it served you right.”
“What did you say?” Piercing Gaze asked as he spread his wings and flew towards Statice. He lifted his talons and slashed them downwards at his enemy, only to hit air. He smelled something foul flying next to him.
“You won’t get away from me, Statice!” Piercing Gaze roared as he followed the scent trail, not even caring about the sound of flapping wings coming from Statice or wondering how he got wings all of a sudden. “I’m not sure where you got that new pair of wings to fly, cub, but I can assure you that the stench of your darkness is more than enough to tell me where you hide.”
“Darn it!” Statice cursed at his luck. Not only did Piercing Gaze found him, but he now had the perfect tracer on him. This was a battle that Statice was going to have to fight on his own.
Now I got an avian hound chasing after me. Since when the heck do griffins have a sense of smell? Those guys barely even have nostrils!
Piercing Gaze was flying close to him and was accelerating by the second. Signs of collision were imminent. If he was to escape, Statice had to give the best of whatever limited flying skills he possessed. Too bad for him, Piercing Gaze was an expert flier that was complemented with a grudge and some sort of super darkness smelling senses to track him down.
“This is just perfect,” Statice snapped as he braked and pushed his body back before Piercing Gaze had the chance to catch him. He wasn’t going to get close to that beak and talons while he had the power to do something about it.
“You took the words out of my beak!” Piercing Gaze gave a predatory smile as he flew, giving an eagle screech as he did so.
“It’s always fun to hang out with Zecora!” Apple Bloom smiled at her friends as they walked from their visit to their zebra friend.
“You’ve been better at those potions, Apple Bloom!” Scootaloo cheered the farm pony. “I think that you’re gonna get a cutie mark on potion making someday.”
“Ah’m not sure about that,” Apple Bloom seemed uneasy. “It’s fun to make potions with Twilight and Zecora, but Ah don’t feel special about it.”
“I know how you feel,” Sweetie Belle put a comforting hoof on Apple Bloom’s shoulder. “I thought that I was going to get a cutie mark on theater when we worked hard on my play. Even though I did most of the hard work, I still didn’t feel anything special about it. But I sure had fun preparing my play. I wouldn’t mind writing another one in the future, even if it is not as good as the first one.”
“Not like the first one was good or anything,” Scootaloo mumbled in annoyance, remembering how the audience cared more about the dresses that Rarity made for them than for their own acting.
Sweetie Belle threw her a dirty look, but she didn’t have the chance of saying something when they were both interrupted by the sound of an eagle screeching. All three ponies huddled together in a group hug.
“What was that?” Sweetie Belle asked in fear.
“It sounded like one of Fluttershy’s eagles,” Scootaloo said. “Fluttershy showed me a few of them after Rainbow Dash told me her story of how she made Tank her pet.”
“Ah think Ah see it now,” Apple Bloom pointed her hoof at the sky. “There is like a huge eagle fightin’ in the sky with somethin’.”
“Let me see,” Scootaloo scrunched her eyes at the blurs above her. “I am a pegasus. My eyesight is better for long distances.”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle got behind Scootaloo in order to give her a better field of vision. She needed to concentrate if she was to see what was happening in the sky.
“I don’t think that’s an eagle,” Scootaloo said as she tilted her head to see from a better angle. “It’s way too big to be an eagle. This looks more like a gryphon. Wait…it’s a gryphon!”
“What’s a gryphon doin’ here?” Apple Bloom asked in surprise.
“Fighting,” Scootaloo answered, trying to see the blue blur that the gryphon was trying to catch. “I can’t see well, but the gryphon is trying to do something to that blue thing that is flying in the air. By the looks of it, I think that he is trying to hurt it.”
“It’s probably a rival male,” Sweetie Belle answered, only to be met with weird glances from her friends before shouting in exasperation. “I read a book about gryphons in Twilight’s library! Some male gryphons get territorial and fight over female gryphons or land.”
“That’s disgustin'!” Apple Bloom backed away from Sweetie Belle. She didn’t like the idea of boys fighting each other to get the heart of a girl. She didn’t care how romantic the other girls thought it was because, in her eyes, that was treating a girl like a trophy.
“I think it’s awesome,” Scootaloo smiled at the prospect of watching a gryphon fight. “And I think that I am starting to see the blue thing. Let’s see how tough is the blue gryphon.”
“Ah don’t think there’s such thing as a blue gryphon,” Apple Bloom frowned as she whispered to Sweetie Belle.
Scootaloo’s eyes managed to adjust enough to distinguish what was happening. She gasped upon seeing the second combatant. Her reaction caught her friends by surprise. It wasn’t like Scootaloo to get so shocked when she considered something to be awesome, especially after seeing all of Rainbow Dash’s best and worst stunts over the years. That was a sign that something bad was happening above their heads.
“What’s wrong?” Sweetie Belle asked Scootaloo.
“It’s Aster!” Scootaloo cried out in fright. “That gryphon is fighting Aster!”
Her fellow Crusaders gasped in horror. A mean gryphon was attacking their friend and they were unable to do anything about it.
“What are we going to do?” Sweetie Belle asked, feeling insecure about the situation.
“We call for help!” Apple Bloom responded sternly. “We can’t take down an adult gryphon by ourselves, but we have lots of friends that will be more than happy to protect Mister Aster.”
“We can ask Static for help,” Sweetie Belle suggested, for once not even thinking about him as her charming prince. “He may have a spell that can help Mister Aster.”
“We can also ask Twilight and Rainbow Dash for help,” Scootaloo assisted with her own idea. “I don’t think that gryphon can beat the most awesome flier in Equestria, much less with an alicorn princess to back her up.”
“We gotta hurry then!” Apple Bloom said. “Mister Aster is countin’ on us.”
“I suggest we look for Static first,” Sweetie Belle raised her hoof, a reflex that she had developed during her days of class with Cheerilee. “He’s the closest. We can ask him to fight the gryphon and then we look for Twilight and the girls.”
“Ah don’t think that’s a good idea,” Apple Bloom shook her head. “We don’t know where Static lives in the Everfree Forest. We just wander in the forest and he finds us more than we find him. Ah think that it’s better for us to call out for our sisters.”
“Apart from that, Static made it very clear that he doesn’t want to meet anypony,” Scootaloo reminded her. “I don’t think that he is gonna be much of a team player if he and our sisters try to work together.”
Sweetie Belle was about to protest when they heard a scream. The Crusaders looked into the air, noticing Aster with a hoof on his cheek and the gryphon smiling at him. It was clear that the gryphon had scratched him while they were arguing below them.
“We have to go get Rarity and the girls!” Sweetie Belle ran off to Ponyville with her friends following behind. She felt bad about not asking for Static’s help, but a small part of her reassured her that he probably was going to see the fight in the sky and was going to assist Aster in some way or another.
There's no way Static won't help a pony in need!
“I hope you’re okay, Static,” Sweetie Belle wished silently before running at full speed at Twilight’s castle. Ever since the incident with Lord Tirek, Rarity visited the crystal castle with regularity to the point on which Sweetie Belle met her before or after Twilight Time depending on her sister’s schedule.
If she was going to get help for Aster, it was going to be from her sister and her friends. After all, who could protect anypony better than the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony?
Aerial battles have never been a forte for Statice. Most of the time, he beat airborne enemies by shooting magical blasts at them rather than finding a way to get at their height level and fight them with hooves. Unfortunately for him, griffins were fast and nimble on the air, so attempting to knock them down with magic was going to result in wasting his reserves, a fact that he learned in his fights against them as a unicorn. Fighting griffins even in pegasus form was no picnic either as his combat with Piercing Gaze gave him little fighting strategies. Trying to attack meant the risk of making a mistake that Piercing Gaze was going to exploit for a devastating attack with his beak and talons. Running away was no option as the griffin was faster and more agile than him, as well as the risk of lowering his guard in his efforts to escape.
For once I'd like to forced into a fight on which I'm at least given the option of running away.
The only way that he was going to make it was to rely on counters. He was going to stay in the evasive, only using his flight to dodge and only attack with a counter if he was within his attack range. The flaw with his plan was that the altitude at which they were fighting was very high and that the spell was not going to last forever. If Statice exploited his pegasus magic in high speeds, then the spell was going to be cancelled and he was going to be a unicorn again. The main problem with being a unicorn in that situation was that his magic reserves were going to be empty once that happened, leaving him at the mercy of the griffin or the fall.
“I won’t let you take me down, Piercing Gaze!” Statice pointed a challenging hoof at the griffin, who smiled at him.
“Futile words,” Piercing Gaze grinned mockingly. “Don’t the wounds that I gave you prove that I will eventually win this fight?”
Statice growled at him, mainly because he was right. Throughout the whole fight, he had been attacked with eagle talons and pecks from the griffin’s sharp beak. He had a scratch on the cheek and chest from two claw attacks and his right shoulder felt as if it had been injected with a huge needle ever since the griffin pecked him there. The pain was taking its toll on his flying, making Statice’s moves more lethargic.
“I will make this one count,” Piercing Gaze flew at full speed with outstretched talons. Specks of reflected lights were visible on those razor sharp talons, ready to claw at his enemy in just a second.
“So will I,” Statice tucked his wings to the sides and let himself fall. Piercing Gaze was following after him.
“Evasive maneuvers won’t help you escape, Statice!” Piercing Gaze roared triumphantly as he got closer to his prey. His talons were very close to Statice’s body once again…so close that he could see victory in his mind’s eye.
The outcome of the match was decided, but not on the way on which it was expected. As Piercing Gaze was close to his enemy, he didn’t perceive the attack that was coming at him until it was too late. Once the appropriate distance was settled, Statice spun his body horizontally and delivered a roundhouse kick to the griffin’s jaw with the back of his right hind hoof.
The kick was strong enough to knock Piercing Gaze away from him. His motionless body fell into some trees below, away from Statice’s eyesight. Meanwhile, Statice was busy working with his own fall. Although his kick was impressive, it meant nothing in stopping his fall. Only the instant flapping of his wings turned his fall into a slow and safe descent, albeit an arduous one with the accumulated pain of his wounds and the exhaustion of the fight.
“I’m too young for this garbage,” Statice winced as he placed a hoof on his shoulder. Thinking about it, what he said used to be his catchphrase when he first started adventuring, usually when he was stuck doing a chore he’d rather not do.
He had to go back to his place now. There was a chance that Piercing Gaze was still ready to fight. He had to get his cloud now to reclaim his unicorn form AND his magic. If he ran out of time, then he was going to have to fight Piercing Gaze as a unicorn with NO magic. The last thing that he needed was more complications in this fight.
“ASTER!” ten voices called out in harmony. Statice’s eyes widened as he realized who were the ones calling his name.
Statice turned around and saw the Elements of Harmony, Spike, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders going straight at him. Once they got close enough to see him, they gasped in horror at the damage that he had taken.
“What are you doing…here, girls?” Statice panted, feeling grateful that his exhausted condition was the perfect mask to hide his panic.
“We were on our way with Zecora from practicing potion brewin’,” Apple Bloom began the story with worry.
“Then we saw two blurs fighting in the sky,” Scootaloo interrupted her. “I used my eyes and saw you fighting with that gryphon.”
“And then we left the Everfree Forest and called out for our sisters and their friends to help you,” Sweetie Belle finished the story just as alarmed as her friends were.
As much as Statice wanted to be angry at the Crusaders for bringing the Elements of Harmony to him and compromising his disguise, he had no right to be mad at them. They saw him in trouble and decided to help him. That was more than what many did for him in the past.
Life is such a cruel mistress. The past haunts you for a bad deed. And the present taunts you by making sure no good deed goes unpunished. Story of my life…
He grabbed the three fillies in his forelegs and gave them a hug. “Thank you, girls,” he sincerely thanked them despite the future complications they brought with them. “I appreciate your assistance.”
The girls smiled at Statice and happily returned the hug. He put them down on the ground and stared at the six older mares and the baby dragon. All of them were looking at him with a mixture of horror, shock, and sympathy.
“Hi,” Statice awkwardly raised a foreleg in greeting. He realized how stupid he looked like doing that, but there was no way to back down now that he did it.
“What happened to you, Aster?” Twilight Sparkle asked with horror in her voice.
“I was attacked by a griffin,” Statice replied, trying to put on a brave face.
“A gryphon attacked you?” Fluttershy asked, trembling in fear as she watched the damage he sustained. She had gotten in the bad side of a gryphon once and she didn’t like it one bit. Granted, Gilda only yelled at her, but watching the injuries that Aster sustained made her realize that the pony in front of her could have been her had Gilda been a more vicious gryphon.
“Tell me where he is and I will pound him!” Rainbow Dah snarled as she punched her hooves together.
“Don’t worry,” Statice reassured her in a soothing manner. “I won the fight. He’s unconscious somewhere in this forest.”
“Then we have to find him, Sugarcube,” Applejack stomped a hoof. “We can’t let him get away with attackin’ one of our own.”
“Applejack is right,” Twilight adopted a stern frown on her face. “We cannot allow this criminal behavior to remain unpunished. You are a citizen of Equestria and you will get the justice you deserve.”
“You don’t have to do it, Twilight,” Statice said hurryingly. If she arrested Piercing Gaze then he was going to be discovered.
“Don’t even bother, dude,” Spike shook his head. “Twilight takes her duty to help everypony in need very seriously. It comes with being the student of Celestia, the younger sister of the Captain of the Royal Guards, the Element of Magic, and the Princess of Friendship.”
Statice mentally frowned at Twilight’s sense of responsibility. In the earlier days, most of Statice’s antagonists were criminals, but there were special occasions on which he was forced to fight against heroes. Some of them were good citizens trying to do what was right, others were soldiers doing their duty, and others entitled themselves to do their heroics by their connection to a respectable authority figure or position. He hated having to deal with those kinds of heroes because they made things harder for Statice, regardless of whether they were friends or foes. Right now, Twilight embodied all of those traits that put him at odds with those heroes.
“We need to get you to the hospital, Aster!” Rarity covered Statice’s body with her magic, lifting him into the air. “You have to see a doctor to treat those wounds.”
“I’m okay, Rarity,” Statice insisted, finding it increasingly hard to maintain his polite behavior with their intruding.
“Nonsense,” Rarity huffed dismissively. “Those scratches can get infected. I don’t want you to catch a disease just because we didn’t give you proper treatment.”
“Maybe I can bake you a ‘Get Well’ cake after we drop you at the hospital,” Pinkie Pie suggested with a reassuring smile rather than her overly happy one. “Just think of happy things when you get scared and then eat the cake.”
That DID sound like a good idea. He didn’t go to hospitals often because he used magic to heal himself, but that trick with the cake was probably going to be useful if he ever ended up at a hospital with no magic to use.
“I can bring my first kit supply,” Fluttershy suggested, putting up her brave face. “I am no expert, but I can at least clean the wounds by the time we bring you to the doctor.”
“Good thinking, Fluttershy!” Twilight commended the pegasus. “Now all that we need to do is to find the suspect and arrest him.”
“You made some nice friends since the last time I saw you,” Piercing Gaze spoke out from the darkness, unseen by anypony yet still audible to them.
Talk about a mood killer.
“Get over here and fight me, you jerk!” Rainbow Dash flew to the sky. “I will show you what will happen when you mess with one of Rainbow Dash’s friends!”
“I got no trouble with you, Rainbow Dash,” Piercing Gaze answered, almost politely. The tone was almost pleasant to hear, but still carried a bit of hostility. “All I care is about the other pegasus.”
“What do you want with Aster?” Twilight asked Piercing Gaze as she unfurled her wings and flew beside Rainbow Dash.
“I want to settle a score with him,” Piercing Gaze answered in reply.
“What score are you talking about?” Rainbow Dash snorted. “Aster is an awesome pony. I don’t think that he deserves any of what you did to him.”
“Aster, you say?” Piercing Gaze asked in surprise. An evil smile formed on his beak as he roared in laughter. The girls and the Crusaders took a step back at the griffin’s change of behavior.
“What’s so funny?” Rainbow Dash asked challengingly.
“Not only did you somehow use your magic to change your race…you also thought of an identity to go along with it,” Piercing Gaze answered not to her, but at the stallion in front of him. “It shows how much you’ve matured over the years…Statice.”
The stallion snarled at the griffin as soon as he heard the girls gasp in unison. He turned his head around to see them all staring at him in shock and surprise.
“Did he just say that Aster is Statice?” Rarity asked in horror, remembering her previous encounter with the unicorn.
“That’s impossible!” Pinkie Pie gasped dramatically. “Statice was a unicorn and Aster is 100% pegasus! It can’t be a disguise! He doesn’t have a zipper!” As she made the statement, she started to invade Statice’s personal space to look for said zipper.
“Can Aster be Statice, Twilight?” Applejack asked her purple friend, not even bothering to look at the pegasus that was looking at her.
“It can be him,” Twilight rubbed her head with her hooves. “But I’m just not sure. Transformation magic is very advanced. I don’t think that Statice can replicate it at such an intricate level.”
Statice’s eyes narrowed at Twilight. Magical prodigy with almost no social skills or not, she had no right trying to determine his proficiency with magic. He stared briefly at Fluttershy, who was trembling at his sight. He didn’t need to see Spike or the Crusaders to know that they were confused about the whole ordeal.
Might as well end this farce once and for all. It wasn’t gonna last forever anyway.
Taking a deep breath, Statice decided to do the most logical thing.
“COME FORTH, DISCORD!” he bellowed. His call made everypony but Piercing Gaze cover their ears. The snap of fingers was heard before Discord materialized with a bathtub beneath him.
“This better be good, Statice!” he shouted as he pointed a scrub at him. “I was in the middle of my bath!”
Ten voices echoed in surprise, catching the draconequus off-guard. He turned his head around to see the Elements of Harmony, Spike, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders close to Statice. Next to them was a tough looking griffin glaring at him through his shades. The draconequus made his tub disappear with a finger snap and positioned himself close to Statice. He looked surprisingly calm and composed, almost bored.
“Your past caught up to you?” Discord asked Statice.
“The gryphon is one of your former enemies?”
“I call him griffin, but yes,” Statice nodded his head.
“He turned out to be too tough to handle in your pegasus form?” Discord asked as he pointed at the injuries over Statice’s body.
“Yes,” the stallion answered in an annoyed tone.
“The girls decided to help you?” Discord asked as he looked at the girls and waved at them. Only Pinkie Pie waved back at him and yet she was too stunned to even smile or say a greeting to Discord.
“Yes,” Statice lowered his head, looking guilty.
“The griffin spilled the beans about you?” Discord asked, now looking concerned at his friend.
“Unfortunately,” Statice sighed. “It’s about time I ended up this farce. Pass me my cloud so I can take out this jerk and get out of here.”
“I’m sorry things didn’t work for you,” Discord looked at Statice apologetically as he materialized the cloud that Statice used for the transformation.
“Don’t be,” Statice whispered at him, glaring threateningly at the griffin. “The one that will be sorry is about to be.”
Piercing Gaze didn’t say anything. He only smiled now that he was going to fight Statice. It wasn’t going to be a victory if he defeated a pegasus rather than the unicorn that took his light away from him.
“I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining to do to the girls,” Discord grumbled in a disappointed tone as he finished positioning the transformation cloud on the air, right above Statice's head for the sake of a very dynamic entry.
“I’m sorry,” Statice apologized as he spread his wings and flew upward. Once he was at a good height, he dive-bombed straight at the cloud.
The girls gasped as they watched the pegasus collide with the cloud. Rainbow Dash flew by the side of Spike and the Crusaders. As a weather pony, she was familiar with what happened when a pegasus struck a storm cloud. To her surprise, no lightning bolts came out and she didn’t hear the familiar sound of thunder. She looked up to the cloud and saw that it had turned into a glowing green light and was descending to the ground. Rainbow Dash was not familiar with this event, but it was easy to figure out that a glowing cloud was not a good signal for anypony to be close.
“It's gonna blow!” Rainbow Dash yelled out as she took the Crusaders and Spike on her back. She spread her wings and flew away from the cloud with the rest of the girls running and flying next to her.
Once the cloud was a few inches from the ground, it exploded in a green flash. The ponies and the dragon gasped at the explosion, closing their eyes and covering their ears for a few seconds. They heard no sound and they didn’t feel any rise of temperature close to them. The group opened their eyes and uncovered their ears to see what was happening in front of them.
Standing in front of them was no longer Aster. It was a green unicorn stallion that they had not seen for a long time. He looked at them with his golden eyes with an expression that showed some…regret before they turned sharp and glared at the griffin.
“You wanted to fight me again, Piercing Gaze?” Statice challenged as he spread his legs in a battle stance. “Well, your wish has turned true!”
Piercing Gaze grinned, showing his carnivorous teeth hidden behind his beak in the darkness. “I’ve been waiting years for this, Statice.”
“All I wanted was a peaceful life,” Statice glared at the shadows with cold, emotionless eyes. “I wanted a life where I never had to fight for money or for my safety. I thought that if I moved to Equestria that I was going to find peace. I was mistaken. And now…you come here to make my life here even more of a torture than it already is. I am going to hammer on you the lesson that you were supposed to learn back then. DON’T MESS WITH ME!”
The unicorn lighted his horn with magic and charged at the griffin. It was time to settle the score.