A Pony Displaced: Another Path

by NoLongerSober

Chapter 35

“Twily and her friends are already in the throne room, meeting with the princesses.” Shining smiled almost fondly. “I wish the circumstances were better, but it’ll be good to see her again.” The alabaster unicorn flared his horn and set the throne-room doors to slowly opening, the solar diarch’s voice ringing out.

“...not lie to you. This mission will almost assuredly end in Sombra’s death.” Celestia’s face was hard but apologetic as the six element bearers and the young drake stared up at her in surprise.

“Grim, but true.” Barrier made his and Shining’s presence known. “Luckily, you girls should not have to be the ones to deal the killing blow. That will likely fall to myself, Shining Armor, or your escort.”

Celestia nodded firmly at the charcoal unicorn before turning to the elements once more. “Magic Barrier, Shining Armor, and three ponies of their choosing will be accompanying all of you to the Empire.”

“Hey Twi, check out this guard.” Rainbow Dash grinned at the lavender unicorn and flitted over to Shining Armor, seeming to circle him with a buyer’s eye. “He’s pretty hot.”

“I would have to agree, darling.” Rarity intervened before Twilight could reply. “Some…intimate time with a handsome stallion such as him would do you a world of good.” Spike bit his lip to keep from chuckling.

“Girls, stop! He’s-”

Applejack cut her off this time, nudging her in a friendly manner. “Shoot Twi, there’s nothing wrong with takin’ a hot piece of stallion fer a roll in the hay once in awhile. Well, long as you don’t do it in mah barn.”

“Seriously girls, st-”

“Wait, Twilight!” Pinkie pressed herself right up next to Twilight. “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” Pinkie fished a small plastic package from her mane and held it out to the lavender unicorn.

“GIRLS, HE’S MY BROTHER!” Twilight finally yelled out, almost hyperventilating.

“Ohhhh…” Four of the elements stated collectively as understanding dawned on them as Spike collapsed on the floor, laughing.

“Um…” another voice called out, this one a legitimate whisper. “Can...can I have him?”

Nopony had a chance to comment as another voice made itself known. “Auntie!” An obscenely pink alicorn made her way into the throne room. “I should go as well! I may not be as powerful as you or Aunt Luna, but my magic is nearly as strong as Shining Armor’s and I’ve been practicing some of his shield spells.”

Everypony turned to greet the new arrival, five ponies bowing and Twilight breaking out into a big grin as she rushed forward, embracing the larger mare before the two broke away into a little dance, much to everypony’s amusement, complete with a little chant.

“As much as I’m sure we all appreciate the show, ladies,” Barrier cut in with a poorly concealed smile of his own as the pair broke apart and blushed. “I believe we still have business to attend to.”

“Very well, Cadance.” Celestia sighed, seeming to have missed the entire exchange. “But be very careful. I mean this for all of you. Sombra has taken the lives of a lot of ponies. I don’t want him to take anymore, especially yours.”

The element bearers and Spike all seemed to stand more resolutely at the statement, save Fluttershy who seemed to shrink further into herself.

“Right,” Barrier interjected again as silence began to settle over them. “We should probably introduce the other ponies accompanying us.” The unicorn gave two hard stomps with his forehoof. “Squad, fall in!”

Immediately, three additional ponies filtered into the throne room.

“These are the personal escorts for your group.” Barrier pointed to the mares and introduced them each in turn. “Lieutenant Spearmint,” despite not being in armor, the mare gave a sharp salute and seemed to radiate presence as Barrier moved on to the thestral. “Cadet Cobalt Lancer, who is elevated to a Private for the duration of this mission,”

“That’s a big stallion…” Spike commented softly.

“And lastly,” Barrier continued regardless of the quiet interruption. “Rainbow Dash the Unicorn, or Ensign Moonstone as she prefers to be known.”

Rainbow Dash’s ears perked up as she only now seemed to notice her near carbon-copy.

“Woah…” Both she and Moonstone stared in a brief moment of surprise before they set to circling each other, heads tilted curiously.

“Alright Squad, you’ve met your charges, now go get your gear and head to the train station.” Barrier watched as both Cobalt and Spearmint saluted and moved towards the door but Moonstone and Rainbow Dash kept circling each other. “Ensign!” Barrier snapped slightly, causing the unicorn mare to eep and rush to follow the other two guards.

“So, not that ah’m complaining,” Applejack watched the three leave, “but shouldn’t they be wearing armor?”

“Normally yes, but for this mission, no. The armor would be painfully cold that far north, in addition to painting large targets over their heads for Sombra. Nopony will be in armor for this mission, minus the basic cold-weather gear. Not even myself and Captain Armor.”

“The train leaves in an hour.” Princess Celestia’s voice rang out once more. “Why don’t all of you go and get ready? I’ll speak to you all before your departure.” All of the ponies moved to follow the suggestion, but a soft cough stopped them. “Captain Barrier? A moment of your time before you go?”

“Princess.” Barrier sat on his flank, his posture straight as the rest of the ponies filtered out.

“Apologies Captain, I simply wanted to ask how you want to deal with Sombra.” Celestia’s eyes met with the unicorn’s own hard gaze.

“I’ll carry out your orders, Princess, of that there should be no doubt.”

Celestia sighed and pressed a hoof to her forehead. “That’s not what I asked, Captain. Luna has been quite insistent that I reevaluate my…opinion on this subject. Take a hard look at it once more. What do you think we should do about Sombra? Not what would Captain Barrier do, what would Magic Barrier, the unicorn do?”

Barrier swallowed slightly as he once more thought back to the last conversation he’d shared with the stallion in question. After a heavy silence, Barrier let a sigh of his own escape. “...it doesn’t matter, I don’t think...” The stallion rubbed his chin and shook his head in resignation. “Princess Luna may be right in regards to future situations of this sort, but Sombra…it would be more of a mercy to kill him at this point. The stallion we once knew is no longer in there, just a mad beast. Magic Barrier the unicorn would kill him. It would eat him up for the rest of his days, but for Sombra’s sake, and his own, he would kill him. And Captain Barrier intends to do the same.” Barrier gave a sharp salute to the solar diarch before turning and departing the throne room, leaving a silent princess in his wake.


“Barrier?” Cadance’s voice stopped the stallion as he approached the gates of the castle. “Who is this Sombra? Who is he really?”

Barrier gave his head several sharp twists, motioning towards the front door of the castle and the streets beyond before continuing his stride, this time with accompaniment.

“I heard what Aunt Celestia asked you and I couldn’t help but be curious.” Cadance hesitated slightly, but her statement continued. “That and the fact that I can feel the uncertainty in you where normally there’s none…”

“Sombra was…” Barrier thought the question over for several more seconds before finally answering. “He was Princess Celestia’s and Princess Luna’s most trusted general. He was my mentor for most of my time in the guard, especially when I was taken out of regular rotation for more…clandestine jobs.” Barrier’s horn flared and a thin silver flask separated itself from his saddlebags. The stallion unscrewed the top and took a short drink of whatever was inside. “And he’s a remorseless killer. The biggest mass murderer there is. He’s a traitor to the crown, a mad-stallion, a practitioner of dark magic.”

Cadance’s expression remained neutral even as Barrier’s voice grew harder. “And what is he to you?”

“He was my friend.” Barrier’s shoulders slumped. “Hopefully he’ll be the last friend I have to put down.”

Cadance looked as if she had something else to say but the sight of the train station and the familiar ponies on the platform silenced her.

Shining Armor greeted the two as they climbed onto the platform. “You two were the last we were waiting for. Ready to go?”

Barrier glanced at the ponies assembled. “Yeah, let’s get this over with.” The unicorn stepped onto the steel-gray train that had ferried him to the north only a month or so prior and glanced around at the same barren interior. Utilitarian. He could certainly appreciate it more than the lavish trains most ponies were used to.


Even on the train, Moonstone and Rainbow Dash continued to eye each other. “This is pretty freaky…”

Rainbow Dash nodded, “No kidding. I’m starting to think my dad cheated on my mom. Did you know your dad?”

Moonstone shook her head.“My mom did say that my dad was a stallion she met at the bar…”

“I doubt you two are related.” Twilight offered. “Statistically speaking, the chances are slimmer than one-in-a-million. The chances that any of us have any illegitimate siblings are actually pretty slim, if not impossible.”

Meanwhile, in Las Pegasus…

“Now, watch in Ahh...ahhh...ahh-choo!” Trixie sneezed loudly. “Excuse me. Now, watch in awe as the Great and Powerful…wait, come back! Trixie needs money for food!”

Back on the train

“Egghead.” Both Moonstone and Rainbow Dash spoke almost in perfect unison.

“So, Barrier,” Shining Armor’s voice drew everypony’s attention. “What can you tell us about Sombra? Is there anything we should be on the lookout for when we encounter him?”

“Aye,” Barrier responded, though his voice seemed distant. “He has a habit of turning his body in a thick black smoke. Whenever he does so, take care not to breath if he is close to you. If you inhale any of it…well, suffice to say most ponies wish for death at that point. He is also very powerful in terms of traditional magic. He is easily as strong as you or Twilight and without a doubt far more brutal with his magic than you or Twilight.”

“What about you?” Twilight asked. “You’re about on par with us as well, aren’t you?”

“Aye, in terms of sheer power.” Barrier nodded. “But the way I was taught to use my magic and the way you’ve both seen me use my magic aren’t the same thing. Even I can’t go horn-to-horn with Sombra for any period of time, but between Shining, Cadance and I, we should be able to buy you all enough time to utilize the elements.”

“And that should…kill him…” Twilight’s voice tapered off and the element bearers all seemed to fall silent; Barrier shook his head.

“The elements won’t kill him. Weaken him, perhaps, cleanse him, perhaps, but not kill. In all the time I served the princesses, one thing that was made clear to all of us in a position of command was that the elements never killed. Weakened, imprisoned in stone, purified, and more, but they do not kill. Now, we should try to get some sleep.” Barrier leaned further back into his seat. “There’s no guarantee when we’ll be able to sleep peacefully again.” Even as Barrier’s eyes drifted shut, he knew better than to think his sleep would be peaceful.


Barrier grunted as he was thrown harshly to the floor by a pair of cloaked ponies, his horn and body bound in iron chains, lit runes etched into them. Tiredly, the stallion shifted his gaze upward, resting on the dark tyrant above him.

“You put up and admirable fight, Barrier.” The tyrant’s tone was almost endearing. “For this, I shall grant you some gifts.” His horn flared a sickly, bubbly, black. “First, we have a fine blade…” The familiar sword - Swiftsword’s pride and her family’s heirloom - winked into existence and was thrown at Barrier’s chained hooves in two separated pieces. “A swords-mare, dead,” a splintered green bow joined the blade. “A gardener…dead,” the next item was a two-hooved warhammer. “A smith, dead.” Sombra’s voice grew more joyful with each item that joined the growing pile. “A performer…” a top-hat with a question mark was added to the pile. “Dead,” a pendant in the shape of an apple was next on the list, “a field medic, dead.” Two more items flared into existence that found the formerly submissive Barrier straining futilely against his chains. “Your sergeant,” a pair of wingblades clattered onto the pile, followed by a bloody doll. “And her daughter. Dead. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you.” Sombra’s voice was once more endearing, almost friendly. “Those fools chose to suffer and die, but I am willing to spare you, my old apprentice, if you…” Sombra fell silent as his body half-shifted into smoke and he shot forward at a blinding pace, body solidifying less than an inch from Barrier’s face, his fangs beared in a malicious grin. “Bow to me!”

Despite the pain, Barrier actually smiled up at the madpony. “I would never bow to you, you twisted monster. Nopony ever will!”

Sombra chuckled and took several steps back and turned away from his former student. “Are you so certain?”

Barrier followed the stallion’s gaze, watching as the bloodied undead forms of his cadets drug the element bearers into the throne room, Fleetfeather following behind them with both Shining Armor and Twilight.

“Would you bow to me to spare their lives?”

Barrier tightened his jaw and tried to move, only to find his body entirely unresponsive. “I…can’t move!”

“Then I suppose I have some new things to add to my collection. A farmer...”

The corpse of Winter Gem snapped Applejack’s neck like a carrot.

“Dead. A baker…”

Verdant Range, like Winter Gem, twisted his hooves rapidly in opposite direction, Pinkie Pie’s form going limp almost immediately after the snap.


Every muscle in Barrier’s body burned as he tried in desperation to move. “Dammit Sombra, stop!”

“A seamstress!” Sombra yelled out over the unicorn, Swiftsword impaling the mare in question on a blade and letting her fall to the ground where she proceeded to gasped futilely for air. “Dead.”

“A lover of animals,” in response to Sombra’s statement, the corpse of Hat Trick slowly drew a wing blade along the pegasus’s throat. “Dead. An athlete,” Iron Forge brought his hammer down on Rainbow Dash’s skull, a spray of blood and her limp form his reward. “Dead. An apprentice mage, a young guard captain…”

“Dammit Sombra, kill me! Let them go!”

Fleetfeather’s wings moved in perfect unison, the blades mounted on their edge cutting into the pairs’ throats like a hot knife through butter.


Barrier’s mouth closed into a tight grimace as Cadance appeared in front of him, her back to Sombra as she gazed sadly at the unicorn. She struggled to rise onto her forelegs before Sombra shattered the silence.

“A princess...” Sombra rushed forward, skewering the alicorn on his horn, flaring it brightly, causing the mare to convulse as her body was violently reduced to ash. “Dead! Now then…” Sombra once again gazed down at his one-time student. “You have nothing left.” Sombra casually backhoofed him, sending him sailing backward and embedding him in the palace wall. “Bow to me!”



The unicorn in question bolted upright, muscles tensed tighter than a coiled spring.

“We’re here. We’ve reached the empire.”

Barrier winced slightly as Shining Armor’s hoof rested on his withers. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Barrier took a deep breath. “Alright…one last time.”