• Published 23rd Oct 2011
  • 23,420 Views, 867 Comments

Whiplash - Molotov Cocktail

A motorcyclist is struck by lightning. He awakens on the verge of death in a very strange land.

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Chapter 8

August 20, 2001
Garden Hills Elementary School
Atlanta, Georgia

Ms. Lightly’s classroom was a comparable to that of a chaotic frenzy. First graders tore through the generously decorated classroom, brightened by an entire wall of windows overlooking the playground.

The youngsters got their hands on anything that wasn’t nailed to the ground.

It was Ms. Lightly’s first year of teaching. At first, she was feeling confident with her ability to care for others’ children. But nothing she had learned in college prepared her for this. She clasped a hand over her head, watching as two of her students were fighting over a stuffed animal.

“I suppose I should probably do something about that,” she sighed. Suddenly, there was a figure standing in the doorway.

It was a Hispanic woman, a small child clinging to her leg.

“Ah,” Ms. Lightly welcomed them in. “Welcome, welcome! You must be Mrs. Reyes.”

“Yes, it’s good to finally meet you,” she spoke good English, but her Spanish accent was very noticeable. “I’m sorry he has to be tardy, but better late than never.”

“Mhmm,” Ms. Lightly replied.

“No, its mine!” A high pitched squeak interrupted them. “Miiiiiiiine!”

Two boys were trying to carjack another boy out of the only Playskool push-car the classroom had.

“Um, you’ll have to excuse me for a moment,” Ms. Lightly broke up the situation, putting all three in time out. The boys pouted in the corner as Ms. Reyes and her son waited patiently.

“Sorry about that,” Ms. Lightly chuckled apprehensively. “You must be Jose.” She reached out to the small child.

“Your mother has told me so much about you. I’m sure you’re going to love living in America!”

Jose continued to cling to his mother’s leg, shaking his head.

“No, mami, I don’t want to go!” Jose humored his situation, knowing it was not going change anything.

“Now, come on, Jose,” she tried her best to comfort the small child. “I know two boys who would love to play with you.”

“R-really?” Jose sniffled.

“Of course,” she smiled, taking Jose’s hand.

“I’ll pick you up later, Mijo,” Mrs. Reyes blew a kiss at him, and disappeared down the hallway. Jose’s heart felt a kick of despair knowing his mami was no longer there to protect him.

Two boys sat in a corner of the room, contently playing with blocks and Legos. Compared to the childish anarchy around them, they were calmly building something out of their materials.

“Patrick, Joseph,” Ms. Lightly let go of Jose’s hand. “This is Jose. He just moved here from Mexico. He needs some friends to play with.”

Jose looked at his shoes, too nervous to look up.

“Wow, you’re from Mexico? Cool!” Joseph exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Patrick fidgeted with a toy motorcycle in his hand. “Do you know Spanish?”

“Yes,” Jose smiled, gaining confidence.

“Hey, you wanna help us build a track for my motorcycle?” Patrick gestured to the lines of blocks, which was beginning to resemble a racetrack.

“Yeah, okay!” Jose beamed as Ms. Lightly, at peace with the situation, strolled cheerfully back over to her desk. Her good mood was quickly soiled after another conflict between other children.

“I-I like your motorcycle, Patrick” Jose managed to stutter, as he made a curve in the track. Patrick held out his toy motorcycle, a plastic red crotch rocket, for Jose to see.

“Yeah, when I get bigger, I’m gonna ride a motorcycle!” he beamed.

The boys spent the remainder of their playtime rolling Patrick’s toy motorcycle and hot wheels cars through the racetrack, until lunch and naptime took up the remainder of the school day.

While they waited for their parents to pick them up, the three boys found themselves playing with Patrick’s motorcycle again, giggling frequently as they repeatedly made it jump from table to table.

“Why can’t all kids be that well-behaved?” Ms. Lightly lamented.

Her thoughts were interrupted as a large man, his face unshaven, his greasy jumpsuit implying he was a mechanic of some sort, walked straight through the classroom and yanked Patrick by the arm.

“Have a… Good day… Mr. Wilcox.” The man totally brushed her off.

Soon enough, in a Ford pick-up truck, a certain young boy by the name of Patrick was getting a stern talking-to.

“I told you not to mix with them blacks,” Patrick’s father spoke in a raspy southern accent, ashing a cigarette out the window. Patrick hated the smell of cigarettes. He learned in school from Ms. Lightly that cigarettes are really bad for you. Patrick promised himself that he would never smoke, it was just so… So bad.

When he told his father he should quit smoking… Well, his behind was very sore after that.

“And I don’t want you hanging around that Mexican,” Mr. Wilcox muttered. “Or you’ll get a belt slapped on your ass so hard, you won’t be able to sit for weeks.”

“But they’re my friends, daddy…”

Patrick felt himself leaning violently to the left, barely catching himself as his rear tire threatened to slip out from under him.

“Okay, I really need to stop spacing out all the time,” Patrick thought.

The dirt roads had been hell to ride on, but it sure beat walking when he has stitches in his chest, he had nearly toppled over that time, though.

“Go faster!” Rainbow Dash called from above. “We’re gonna’ be late!”

“I’m trying not to kill myself, here!” Patrick’s speedometer only read 47 MPH, but with these unstable dirt roads, it felt like he was flying down a road made of grape jelly.

“Stupid six-hundred-dollar racing tires.”

Meanwhile, a royal chariot had was waiting just outside the library. Five ponies found themselves anxiously waiting.

“Any day now, Miss Sparkle,” one of the Pegasus Royal Guards tapped his hoof.

“They’ll be here soon, I’m sure,” Twilight hunkered down back in the chariot.

“Oh goodness, do you think something happened to them?” Fluttershy said.

“Ah sure hope not,” Applejack responded.

A low familiar hum, at first faint, was getting louder and louder.

Twilight gave a sigh of relief. “Just in time!”

Patrick skidded to a stop just in front of the royal chariot, Rainbow Dash landing next to him.

“Hey!” Patrick lifted up his visor, parking his bike. “Hope we haven’t held you up too long!”

“Oh, we were getting ever so worried!” Rarity grabbed Rainbow Dash in a friendly embrace.

“Where in Equestria did y’all run off ta’?” Applejack scolded.

“Now, Ah can’t lay a hoof on you,” Applejack gestured to Dash. “But you!”

She approached Patrick. “Where’d y’all run off ta’ that was so important, puttin’ Rainbow Dash in danger like that?”

“I went to Zecora’s,” Patrick smiled.

“What were you doing with Zecora?” Twilight asked.

“I had a lot on my mind, yesterday,” Patrick sighed. “She showed me some things, I think it really helped. I’m sorry I flipped out yesterday.”

“Y’all wouldn’t have spent the night in the woods if you would just stop keeping so many secrets from us!” Applejack grumbled.

“Oh,” Patrick crossed his arms. “Excuse me for getting beaten up in front of the entire town for protecting your apple stand, then!”

“Hey!” Pinkie Pie popped her head up between the arguing human and earthpony. Patrick nearly caught a mouthful of her cotton candy mane, she was so close.

“Friends shouldn’t be arguing like this! It’s not like anything bad happened, so just say you’re sorry and forget about it!”

“Where did you-“ Twilight facehoofed. “Never mind.”

“Alright,” Patrick sighed, just wanting to avoid as much conflict as possible.

“I’m sorry,” he stuck out his hand. Applejack hesitantly shook it, and then eased up on him. “Alright, Ah forgive ya,’ can’t really stay mad at anypony anyhow.”

Patrick allowed Rainbow Dash to enter first, and was about to climb into the chariot, but a purple hoof pushed him back down.

“What?” Patrick looked at Twilight.

She gestured to his waist. His Glock 23 was still resting comfortably inside his holster.

“Leave that thing inside, you don’t really go see the royalty while armed, here,” Twilight said.

“Oh, if only you knew,” Patrick thought, rolling his eyes.

“Alright, I’ll be quick,” he dashed back inside the library, undoing his belt and sliding the holster out of its grip.

Patrick removed his weapon from his holster, his other hand on an open drawer, ready to safely store the only known working firearm in the world. He held the handgun in a soft grasp, timidly entertaining the thought of not leaving it behind.

If someone hadn’t been trying to cover up the damage caused to the clearing from his arrival, maybe he wouldn’t have any reason to be paranoid. Patrick stuffed the muzzle of the weapon down into his waistband, and tightened his belt to keep it in place. After throwing his shirt over it, there was no way to tell he was packing. He wanted to bring his other magazine, but figured it would look too suspicious with his pocket bulging out so.

Thirteen bullets would have to protect him from whatever this crazy future could throw at him.

It never hurt to be prepared. In the Army, two cyanide pills were always within quick reach while out in the field, should he be captured by insurgents.

As much as Patrick didn’t want to admit it, a .40 caliber bullet was his cyanide pill.

The Canterlot Royal Guard buzzed to and fro amongst the magnificent cliff-side castle. Much to the armor-clad Pegasus and unicorn guards’ surprise, Princess Celestia had fully mobilized each able bodied guard, so that every square inch of the castle was under watch at any given time.

The only thing the Royal Guards knew was that the princesses had a royal audience planned with a very special VIP. They brushed it off as something diplomatic and did their job.

“Sister?” Celestia shook Luna awake. “Sister, it’s time. We need to get ready.”

“Mrmmm,” Luna groggily rose her head from her pillow.

“Come on, we don’t have all day,” Celestia waited by the door.

“I’m not even supposed to be up during the day,” Princess Luna groggily made her way to her vanity and shuffled through her wardrobe.

“I really wish you hadn’t have waited this long to tell me about the human, Tia,” Luna’s horn glowed, grabbing a hairbrush and brushing her bed head back into place.

“I’ve already said I was sorry, Luna,” Celestia sighed. “But remember what we discussed. Knowing him, I’m afraid of how he’d react if he found out what I’m responsible for. It is best if he doesn’t know.”

“You’ve never really been one for lying, Celestia,” Luna shrugged.

“I’m not really lying,” Celestia grimaced, knowing she would be. “I’m protecting him.”

“I’m still not completely following this plan,” Luna said. “But if it’s taken you since the day I was banished, until a week ago just to cast the spell, then you’ve obviously had time to put some thought into all this.”

“I have meditated thoroughly on this situation. This is for the best,” the white alicorn replied.

“Having the Royal Guard cast a repair spell on the damaged part of the Everfree Forest was a bit much, though.”

“The Nightmare is undoubtedly aware there is a human in Equestria by now,” Celestia shuddered. “I could not risk it having the opportunity to analyze the magic that still lingered there. If it were to detect my magic, it would surely know what my intentions are.”

“And be able to stop us.”

“Correct,” Celestia nodded. “Even with my magic, it was a very wearisome and meticulous spell to cast. There was no way of knowing where he’d end up, it just so happened to be the Everfree Forest.”

“What if anypony, or the human, returns there? Wouldn’t it be suspicious?”

“It’s a necessary risk. Though, my agents in Ponyville have been keeping a close eye on things,” Celestia replied. “I couldn’t afford for my student to discover the magic still lingering there, either. It would immediately point a hoof at me and put them in danger again. Besides, it’s been days, if they haven’t gone back, they’re unlikely to, by now.”

Celestia ruffled her mane in stress.

“It took a thousand years to be able to find this particular human, and manipulate each and every outcome ever so slightly, that it wouldn’t change history.”

“And prevent Equestria from being formed,” Luna added, joining Celestia’s side as they left Luna’s bedchambers.

“Exactly,” Princess Celestia nodded. “He and his friends won’t be able to use the Elements of Harmony unless he wants to help us, and for the right reasons.”

“It pains me to have done it this way, but if this is successful, both our world, and his, will be saved.”

“His?” Luna’s eyes widened, she suddenly found herself glaring at her sister yet again. “How can you save the past?”

“We’ll talk later, Luna. We’ve much to do.”

“But Tia! Why don’t you trust me enough to just tell me what’s going on?”

“I apologize, sister,” Princess Celestia replied. “But I can’t take any more risks at this point. I promise, I will fill you in completely after you raise the moon tonight.”

“Fine,” Luna pouted as they shuffled outside to meet their guests.

Patrick emerged from the library, catching the Pegasi Guards staring menacingly at him.

“What are you looking at?” Normally, he wouldn’t have smarted off, but all this staring was really getting to him.

“The freak standing on two legs,” one of them retorted.

“Yeah, fuck you, too, buddy,” Patrick wanted to say, but there were three things Patrick had learned in his life that taught him otherwise.

One: Don’t fuck with people who handle your food. Two: Don’t fuck with people that handle your food. Three: Don’t fuck with anyone that can allow you to plummet to your death at any given time.

It was a relatively short chariot ride, with a font row seat for the viewing of several pegasi’s flanks. Patrick heard the girls giggling to each other and pointing ahead of them, likely voting on which one they liked best.

“Wowie! Isn’t this great, we’re going to Canterlot!” Pinkie Pie bounced up and down next to Patrick. “Aren’t you happy Patrick? You’re finally going to get to go home!”

“Yeah,” Patrick stared off into space. “Hopefully; we’ll see.”

“Aw,” Pinkie Pie slunk down. “Well, maybe you should just be more positive! And the going-away party we’re going to have is going to be great!”

“Sounds good, I’m looking forward to it,” he smiled to amuse Pinkie Pie.

“So what did you and Zecora talk about last night?” Twilight asked.

“Well, we-“ Rainbow Dash was interrupted by a human elbow to her ribs.

“Ow, what gives?” she whispered.

“Until we figure out why the clearing’s fixed, I’m a little suspicious right now. Just keep everything to yourself until I figure it out.”

“Yeah, fine,” Rainbow Dash groaned. “I don’t like keeping secrets, though.”

“What are you two whispering about over there?” Rarity asked, all eyes on them now.

“Oh, nothing,” Patrick straightened up. “She, uh, taught me how to meditate. I think it really helped.”

“You know, Patrick is a lot like Zecora!” Pinkie Pie chattered. “At first we were all scared of him and didn’t know what he was, but then after he turned out to be nice, everypony loved him!”

“Hey, yeah,” Applejack stroked her chin. “Maybe that’s why y’all got along so well with Zecora. Maybe she’cud relate ta’ you er’ somethin’.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Patrick thought as they landed on a plaza just outside the throne room.

There they were, the sun princess and the moon princess. After a week of not knowing what the hell was going on, everything led up to this.

“Presenting!” A royal squire announced. “Her highnesses, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna!”

A flamboyant fanfare blew across the castle plaza as several squires raised their horns.

All the ponies around Patrick bowed. He took a knee as Celestia approached him.

“You are not one of my little ponies,” Celestia laughed. “Why are you bowing to me?”

“I do so only out of respect, Princess,” Patrick smiled confidently. Finally, something was actually going to happen. Finally, he was going to find a way back home.

“Please, rise.”

Patrick stood to his feet.

“I apologize it took so long to meet with you. We had certain business in Manehattan we had to attend to, but thankfully, we can now devote our full attention to you.”

“Thank you, I’m honored,” Patrick nodded.

“Celestia!” Twilight bolted to the princess’s side, sharing a quick embrace.

“My dearest student, Twilight Sparkle! It’s so good to see that you and your friends, as well as your new human friend, are all doing well.”

“Well, he’s doin’ better, anyhow,” Applejack took no effort to prevent herself from being informal. “You should have seen him when we found him in the Everfree forest. Hoo-wee, it was messy.”

As the Princess exchanged words with the six ponies, Patrick caught a certain blue alicorn staring at him. He smiled and gave a small wave. Luna blushed, and returned the wave with a small laugh.

“Please, you must be exhausted from this entire ordeal,” Celestia said to Patrick.

“Shall I show our guests to their chambers, princess?” A white butler pony, sporting a well groomed mustache asked.

“Yes, please,” Celestia answered. “After you are all settled in, please join us in the dining hall, we have prepared a feast for your arrival.”

“Um, yeah,” he nodded, confused. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

“We’re spending the night?” Patrick whispered to Twilight as the Royal Guard escorted them to the guest living chambers.

“No one told you?” Twilight shook her head. “Well, you’ve got everything you need, right?”

Patrick thought he was only going to be there for the day. His most recently opened pack of cigarettes had only seven inside it, and he left the rest of his cancer sticks back in Ponyville.

“I guess. But a feast? I don’t think that’s really necessary. I just wanted to see if she can send me back or not.”

Though, since meditating last night, he hadn’t craved a cigarette all day. With the dark memories of combat safely in check, Patrick no longer had a mental dependency on nicotine. He would smoke one every now and then, just to prevent himself from falling into a cranky physical withdrawal, but so far, Patrick had liked not needing to stop what he’s doing and light one up.

“I might just have to quit, now,” Patrick laughed to himself. He was shown to his room, and he rejoined everyone in the dining hall. It was elegantly decorated with a massive chandelier, probably having over a thousand crystals dangling from its glass panes, which lit the entire room. Stained glass windows with paintings of two forms, one white and one dark, rotating around what appeared to be a planet.

Celestia, Luna, and the ponies he’d been living amongst in Ponyville all sat in a neat line on one side of the table, munching happily and enjoying their luncheon.

Truthfully, he was getting tired of every meal being so vegan. But he ate his carefully assembled plate of fruit, chopped and stacked to look like a pyramid. His salad had been arranged so that the leaves resembled rays of light, and the dressing provided a body that resembled the sun.

He hated to destroy this work of art, but after spending all night on a soul-searching journey in the woods talking to the dead, it was enough to work up his appetite. Just as he was about to take another bite, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Patrick!” Twilight whispered, glancing at Celestia. She seemed too preoccupied speaking to Fluttershy regarding Philomena to notice.

“You’re in the presence of royalty, sit up straight!”

“My bad,” Patrick straightened his back and scooted in his chair, lifting the fork full of salad back up to his mouth.

“And chew with your mouth closed, its bad table manners!” Patrick looked at her blankly, closing his mouth and continued chewing.


“Twilight, I really don’t think the princess minds,” Rainbow Dash interrupted.

“Doesn’t mind about what?” Celestia asked dantily.

“Oh, uh nothing,” Rainbow Dash nervously laughed.

“So, Patrick,” Celestia’s gaze shifted towards his end of the table. It wasn’t a threatening gaze, only one of curiosity.

“You’ve barely said anything since you got here, is something wrong?”

“No,” Patrick replied. “I’ve just never really been around royalty or anything before, I don’t really know how to act.”

That wasn’t true, the Army had fully well-educated him on how to act around a superior officer, or the commander-in-chief.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about,” Luna smiled at him. “Twilight Sparkle mentioned in her letter that you think you came to Equestria from another world in the lightning that struck the Everfree Forest not too long ago.”

“Yes, and I hope you are recovering well,” Celestia noticed a strip of thick bandaging protruding from his left sleeve.

The human noticed what she was staring at, and tucked it back into his shirt.

“It’s nothing, just a few burns and some stitches,” Patrick shrugged. “I’m fine, thanks.”

“It’s a miracle you even survived at all,” Luna seemed to glare at Celestia. Luna caught Patrick’s eyes locking with hers as she glared at her sister, and quickly slunk back down in her chair.

The handle of the crudely concealed handgun in Patrick’s waistband was painfully jabbing him in the thigh. He inconspicuously worked it into a more comfortable position while pretending to adjust his belt.

“Yes, well,” Celestia stood from her chair. “I believe I’ve had enough. If everyone is finished, why don’t we move this discussion to the throne room?”

The alicorns, ponies, and the lone human filed into the throne room. It was decorated similarly to the dining hall; marble floors, walls, and pillars. Stained glass windows depicting glorious images of the sun and moon cast colorful images across the room as the sun beamed through them. A Royal Unicorn Guard sat on each side of the throne as the royalty tended to their guests.

“Now, I’m sure you’ve had a lot of questions since you got here,” Celestia’s voice echoed around the large chamber. “And I’d like to address them.”

“Finally,” Patrick thought.

“Thank you,” Patrick said. “Do you know what’s going on, and why I’m here?”

Celestia and Luna looked confusingly at each other.

“Well,” Celestia sighed. “I am sorry, but I’m afraid we’ve been unable to figure out the source of the magic that brought you here.”

Patrick’s eyes widened. “Oh,” he put his hands in his pockets somberly. “Is there any way to send me back to my world, then?”

“I don’t mean to disappoint you, Patrick, but…” Celestia sighed. “I don’t believe there is, as of yet.”

Patrick slunk down, breaking eye contact with everypony. It had confirmed his worst fear. Not only was he trapped here, the last human to ever live, but now he was being lied to.

“If a zebra in a hut knows what I am and where I came from,” Patrick thought. “The princesses that raise the sun and moon should know, too.” He could tell by Rainbow Dash’s expression that she was thinking the same thing.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Patrick,” Fluttershy put a hoof on his shoulder. “Are you sure there isn’t any other way?”

“However,” Celestia let the magic ripple through her glorious mane. “I can have the scholars comb through the Royal Archives, including even the most ancient of texts. Perhaps we may be able to find something on Patrick’s people and the magic that had brought him to Equestria by tomorrow morning. If not, than we shall continue to decipher the magic that brought you here.”

“See, Patrick?” Twilight clapped her hooves together. “Don’t give up yet, I told you the princesses would find a way.”

“If there’s a way, we’ll find it,” Celestia said. “We want to help you, Patrick. For now, why don’t you just enjoy what Canterlot has to offer as my esteemed guest?”

“Oooh! Really?” Pinkie Pie burst into a grin, bouncing in hyperactive spasms. “A night on the town in Canterlot! Oh this is going to be so fun!”

“My sister and I have some business we must attend to after she raises the moon shortly, I’m sorry we couldn’t help you, but I pledge you my full support as long as you are here. I will meet with you tomorrow on whatever my scholars find.”

“I appreciate the effort and your hospitality, princess,” Patrick bowed his head respectfully.

After the audience, Patrick found himself smoking a cigarette on a castle balcony, his first cigarette since the night before. He only smoked when he needed one now. And he really needed one. Now. It was all so confusing, why would they lie to him? Maybe they genuinely just didn’t know.

But Zecora did. She’s from a far off land, maybe her people had better knowledge of humans than even Equestria’s royalty.

Then again, maybe not.

“Patrick?” Rarity approached him. “I couldn’t help but notice how you and dear Rainbow Dash reacted to the Princess’s words.”

Patrick took another hit of his cigarette, breaking eye contact.

“What really happened at Zecora’s?”

Patrick took a deep breath. “Promise not to tell anyone?”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly,” Rarity enthusiastically did a series of motions to complete the rhyme. “Stick a cupcake in my eye, darling.”

He told her everything. About how he was the last human in existence, how this was the future, and after Zecora helped him let go of what happened during his military service, how he had a conversation with a very familiar voice from the past.

“I’d be very suspicious, too, if I were you, but at least you finally got some closure.”

“Yeah,” Patrick nodded. “I think I did.”

“But why in Equestria would they not tell us the truth?“

“I don’t know,” Patrick sighed. “But I think I’m starting to figure something out.”

“Hey, Patrick!” Rainbow Dash zoomed through the marble-floored hallway, stopping in mid-air as she saw Rarity.

“Oh, hey Rarity,” Rainbow Dash floated up to Patrick’s eye level, whispering through clenched teeth. “Can I talk to you alone, now?”

“It’s okay, Dash,” Patrick tossed his cigarette off the balcony. “Rarity knows about what happened to me in the Army, and last night at Zecora’s, too. She was able to get me to crack the day after I woke up.”

“You whined at him, didn’t you?” Rainbow Dash crossed her arms, her wings keeping her aloft just above their heads.

“Works every time?” Rarity guiltily lowered her head.

“Well, what am I supposed to do now?” Patrick stared off into the sunset.

“I don’t know,” Rarity sighed. “There’s definitely something awfully fishy, going on.”

“They’re lying,” Rainbow Dash blurted out. As the Element of Loyalty, it was hard to admit the truth. But the royalty she bowed to had lied to her, it was undeniable.

“I just need to think about this,” Patrick started down the hall. “I’ll see you later.”

Patrick aimlessly wandered the castle halls, the guards eyeing him suspiciously. He rounded a corner, and bumped into large blue figure, knocking it to the ground.

Instantly, Patrick found himself surrounded by Royal Pegasi and unicorn guards. “Your highness, did this creature harm you?”

“No, no, of course not,” Luna smiled at Patrick. “It was just an accident, carry on.”

She dismissed the guards, who resumed their patrols.

“Sorry about that,” Luna said as Patrick helped her up.

“Nah, I should have been paying more attention,” Patrick shook his head apologetically.

“It’s quite alright. So, how are you finding Canterlot so far?”

“It’s nice,” Patrick replied. “I just wish I could figure out what’s going on, and what I’m doing here.”

Luna seemed uneasy after Patrick responded that way, and quickly shuffled down the hall.

“I’m sorry, but I really must be going. I have to raise the moon before Equestria starts wondering why the sun isn’t setting.”

“Alright then, see you,” Patrick turned around, feeling a bit brushed off, continuing down the hallway.

“And Patrick?”

“Yes?” he turned around.

“I think you may find answers to the questions you seek in the Royal Archives.”

Before Patrick could react, she took flight out of a nearby window.

“Did Luna really just…”

Quickly, he found his way to the Royal Library. In a cordoned off section, flanked by two Pegasi gaurds, was the Royal Archives.

The library was extremely vast. Shelves clustered with books, perfectly organized, sat upon every wall and in neat rows of towering bookshelves.

Patrick dropped his eyes to the floor, not really knowing where to look. Suddenly, he could see Twilight tugging several books around with her magic, heading straight into the Royal Archives and right past the guards.

He tried to follow her, but the armor-clad guards unfolded their wings and blocked his path.

“Halt!” one of them bellowed. “Only those approved by the princesses themselves may enter the archives!”

“My apologies,” Patrick took a step back and walked out of view, pretending to examine books along the wall. How was he supposed to get in there now?

Almost as quickly as he began perusing the shelves’ contents, a Royal Unicorn Guard came galloping into the library.

“I bring news from Princess Luna!” he panted. “All guards on patrol in the Royal library have been dismissed.”

The guards exchanged glances.

“Are you sure?”

“It was a direct order,” the unicorn said.

The three guards exited the library apathetically. Patrick shrugged it off and entered the Royal Archives.

It was a vast room, nearly half the size of the Royal Library itself. It featured windows that stretched all the way to its raised ceiling, and ceiling artwork that would put Leonardo da Vinci to shame.

“Patrick?” Twilight, surprised, looked up from a book. “What are you doing here?”

“Oh, nothing much,” Patrick stuck his hands in his pockets.

“Listen, I know you’re kind of down about what the princess said, so I’ve taken the liberty to go through the archives myself, in place of the scholars.”

Patrick wanted to tell her the truth, because he was honestly touched she’d spend the entire night going through ancient and sacred pony texts, just to help him, a stranger. But he couldn’t risk getting the word out that he knew more than the Princesses were telling him. What if they had something to do with this?

“Wow, they’d really let you do that?”

“Of course, who else would be better up to the task than Princess Celestia’s student?” Twilight’s eyes gleamed. “Since I moved to Ponyville, I’ve really missed this place, anyway. It’s really exciting to be able to read all these rare and unique books, some of them are even only single editions!”

“Maybe I can help,” Patrick looked around the room, trying to see what Luna meant by finding “the answers to the questions you seek.” If it was a book he was looking for, then it would take all night to find out what Luna meant. Unless, it wasn’t a book.

After spending an hour helping Twilight read through several reference guides, and starting on a book of ancient legendary creatures, Patrick was already feeling discouraged. But he refused to give up. He had only one very vague lead, but one way or another, he was going to find out the truth. Tonight.

“Huh,” Twilight froze in the process of removing a book from a wall shelf with her magic. “That’s odd.”

“What?” Patrick frantically stood up from a mountain of books. “What’s odd?”

“It feels like,” Twilight’s horn glowed, using her magic to feel the heavy wooden shelves of the bookshelf situated up against the wall. “That behind this bookshelf, it’s hollow. “

Curiously, Twilight Sparkle pushed the bookshelf ever so gently. It budged slightly, revealing a track with wheels attached to the bottom.

“Keep pushing it,” Patrick ordered, his eyes locked on the shelf.

Twilight’s horn glowed more brightly than Patrick had seen before, and with a strained grunt, she pushed the bookshelf aside like a sliding glass door.

Twilight panted in fatigue; using large amounts of magic was terribly exhausting for any unicorn.

“What is this?” Patrick’s jaw dropped.

“I don’t know,” Twilight approached the hole, large enough for a pony as tall as Celestia to walk through comfortably. It appeared to stretch back very far into the castle walls, gently sloping downwards.

“I don’t know where that leads, but I don’t think we should go down there.” Twilight’s horn glowed, ready to move the bookshelf back.

“Wait!” Patrick stopped her. “What if… uh, there’s something important down there?”

“What do you mean?”

“What if there’s some kind of forgotten room or something down there, filled with all kinds of ancient books? Wouldn’t you want to be credited for finding it?”

“I think maybe we should just tell the Princess about this,” Twilight shook her head, and her horn glowed once more.

Patrick stepped into the hole before she could slide the bookshelf back into place.

“Patrick, I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” Twilight asserted. “I don’t want you to end up in a dungeon for trespassing.”

“I don’t see a sign anywhere that says no trespassing,” Patrick stated as he felt his way down the long hallway. “Now come on, I need some light from that magical appendage of yours.”

Twilight apprehensively entered the hole in the wall, casting an illuminating spell and lighting up the ancient passageway.

It took nearly two minutes to fully traverse the tunnel. Even with Twilight’s horn lighting the way, the dim, windowless chamber they found themselves in was nearly twice the size of the entire Royal Library. It had the musty stink of age and decay.

Twilight spotted many unlit torches on the walls, and lit them all at once, her horn ceasing its glowing after the room was completely illuminated. More bookshelves sat against a wall, containing very ancient and poorly preserved books.

On a section of wall, many, many photographs, most of them faded, were framed with respective labels attached to their preservation frames.

Glass boxes, protecting better-preserved items from the elements, lined various tables, counters, and shelves.

There were vast assortments of items, some familiar to Patrick, and some not, but all were definitely human. Plastic bottles, CD-Roms, a computer monitor, random and particular items grouped together.

Patrick recognized a TV set, most of the wood framing rotted. It was definitely an older one, looking to be from the 1980s or so.

A very large preservation box held a rusty hunk of metal, which Patrick immediately recognized to be an engine of some kind. It was extremely large, towering more than 10 feet, and completely encased in glass. In large, barely legible lettering engraved into the side, it read “Boeing.”

“What is all this?” Twilight gazed around the room.

“It’s human technology,” Patrick gasped. “And I think your princess has been lying to us.”

“What?!” Twilight looked at Patrick with disgust. "That’s ridiculous! The princess would never lie about something like that!"

“Even Zecora, some shaman living in a hut, knew what I was! What more proof do you need, finding a room full of human artifacts under her castle?!” Patrick shouted.

“But you and Rainbow Dash never told me Zecora knew!” Twilight answered.

“Yeah, well,” Patrick balled his hands into fists. “We lied!”

He made his way around the room, catching a glimpse of a book that had obviously been carefully preserved and restored inside another preservation box.

“Holy Bible.”

Directly adjacent to the preserved Christian text, sat a laminated, yellowed clipping of parchment. Patrick immediately recognized it as a newspaper clipping.

New York Times
June 13, 2042


“What’s that?” Twilight looked over Patrick’s shoulder as he read through the newspaper clipping. She was about to ask him to move over so she could read it, but stopped. His eyes were watering.

With a loud grunt in anger, he punched his fist into the Plexiglas container preserving the article, a loud thud resonating around the room.

“Patrick, why are you so upset?” Twilight tried to comfort the distressed human.

He stood aside. “Just read it.”

Her eyes moved back and forth until she finished the article, and then she lay silent.

“So, you’re not from another universe,” Twilight murmured. “You’re from the past.”

Patrick nodded, continuing to observe the chamber’s contents in a melancholy wonder.

What caught his eye next was an assortment of long, rusted metal objects. After getting closer to this section of the room, and it was unmistakable what they all were.

Human firearms, some Patrick had never even seen before, lay sorted in front of him. Russian Kalashnikov rifles, whatever wood stocks and grips they may have once had, were long decayed and deteriorated. More advanced looking rifles that looked to be designed much later than Patrick had even existed. Some of them lacked magazines, and in a separate section, rusted ammunition was on display, each artifact containing a note about the location and date of its discovery.

Hunting rifles, handguns, revolvers, even a mortar, and what appeared to be a hand-held grenade launcher. Those weapons with synthetic bodies and frames seemed to have held up better than those with wooden ones, albeit most were barely intact at all.

But there, at the very end of the line of weapons, lay a rifle Patrick had gotten very familiar with. Even though father time taken his toll, it was unmistakably an M4 Carbine.

“No way,” Patrick flipped open the preservation box containing the carbine in disbelief. It had telling signs of age and rust, but structurally, it seemed to have held up okay.

Patrick spent some time holding and gazing at this rifle. It was missing a magazine, and where an ACOG or reflex sight would have been mounted, the standard carry handle sight was installed. The synthetic, adjustable stock loosely clung to the butt of the rifle.

“Is that... another one of those guns?” Twilight questioned Patrick.

“Y-yeah,” Patrick choked, fighting to keep the memories he had let go of from taking over again. He could feel the stress, the regret, the mourning, and the guilt of ending human life, all bubble in the back of his skull again.

Everything Zecora had tried to teach Patrick about letting go of his past was screaming for him to get out of there, and put down the rifle. But his mind was telling him otherwise. He continued to scan the rifle for details, until he caught a familiar engraving, which featured an image of a mustang standing on its hind legs. As well as a serial number just above the mag release on the ancient rifle he held in his hands.

CAL.5.56 MM.

Patrick shrank back in horror, reading the serial number again, and again, and again, pleading to his eyes that he was just hallucinating that number.

But he wasn’t. When Corporal Wilcox had been assigned a rifle in the military, it was his primary weapon, carried everywhere he went, until his honorable discharge after that fateful day. When you have nothing else to do but get the taste of sand out of your mouth for two years, you have time to memorize every detail and every serial number on your rifle.

And the rifle he held in his hands was the very same one he had used to kill two men. It was his rifle.

Twilight watched as the human froze, staring at the engraving on the rifle. It was the same stare he had on the balcony that night.

“Patrick, are you okay?” Twilight shook him out of his gaze.

“No,” Patrick, still holding the ancient M4 Carbine, headed towards the exit.

“Celestia has some fucking explaining to do,” he felt the bulge of his concealed weapon with each step he took.

“It’s gonna be a good day, Pat. I can feel it.”