• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,697 Views, 217 Comments

Warring Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

A happy day soon descends into a war between two peoples. Canterlot is under siege, the princesses are captured and Dusk must take up arms or watch his home fall.

  • ...

A House Divided

It was almost time to begin the briefing of the townsfolk for the battle against the changelings. Everypony who had the option to leave had long since cleared out of their homes, taking their families and what possessions they could with them. Those who had chosen to stay, quite a sizable few, were already making their way to the town hall, where the plan would be presented.

Well, everypony except for the guy presenting the plan. He was in his home, gazing up at a certain decoration he had on the wall.

Ray stood there for a while, considering whether or not he should take this sword with him into battle. Apart from his own hooves, it was certainly the closest thing he had to a weapon and would be useful in the upcoming fight. Then again, as far as he knew, none of the girls actually planned on killing their enemies and he wondered briefly how that would look on him. He knew about push coming to shove, but still...

The thought of it sent an almost soothing warmth from that sensation in his mind...

In the end, he decided to leave it, feeling a slight burning in his head almost in objection to his decision. He grimaced and tried to ignore it. The place he'd got it at said it wasn't battle ready anyway and it would most likely break if he did start swinging it about. Besides, he had something a little more important to attend to at the moment.

Ray stood outside of his house, looking around for any sign of his contact. He looked over at the nearby clock tower, noting that it had been fifteen minutes since their agreed meeting time. He hoped that nothing had happened to her, but he had confidence in her abilities to accomplish this task. She was the only one he could trust with it.

He looked up when he saw a flash of green walking around a corner. He smiled at the relief he felt and waved her over quickly.

"Little late, aren't you?" he asked her when she was close enough.

"Well, things are a little busier around here than what I'm used to," replied Gentle Dream. "Plus, I can't exactly stay quiet and be quick at the same time."

"Did she notice you?" he asked urgently.

The artist shook her head. "I think she almost spotted me once, but I managed to stay out of her way. An artist always knows when to remain anonymous."

"Good. So, what did you see?"

She hesitated a moment. "Well... I'm not entirely sure, but you were right. There is definitely something up with Twilight."

"In what way?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "She just went around, seeing each of her friends and every time she left them, they didn't exactly look very happy. I mean, this all has to be tough on everypony, but they really looked a lot tenser after she left them."

"What did she say to them?" he asked.

"I don't know, I couldn't get close enough to hear without being seen. I only caught little snippets of them and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

"Right," he murmured. "And what about her? How did she look?"

"I didn't really see it that much of her face, but I sometimes got glimpses." She frowned in confusion. "It was weird. There were times she almost looked... satisfied with what she'd done, especially after it looked like she'd really upset the others with whatever she said. That doesn't sound like her, does it?"

Ray nodded slowly. "No... no, it doesn't. And where is she now?"

"Last time I saw her, she went to Dusk's house. She hasn't come out yet either," she added, worry creeping into her voice. "I tried looking in, but all of the curtains were shut. I stayed as long as I could, but then I saw what time it was and came back here."

"But what does it mean then?" she pressed on. "What are you going to do? Is there anything else I can help with?"

"No, you've done enough, Gentle," he said. "You still need to get outta here, before our tourists show up."

"Are you sure there's nothing else you want me to do?"

"Yes, now you need to get going. You don't wanna fight, it's okay, I get that," he assured. "Go on, go and find Star. We'll be fine. Come on, it's me."

She remained motionless for a few minutes before launching forward and hugging him. Ray was a little surprised by the gesture, but returned it regardless.

"Okay then." She sniffed a little, but managed a smile. "You be careful, you hear me?"

"No promises," he grinned. "I'll be fine, Gentle. Now go on, find Mr Dream."

She blushed. "Star's not my husband..."

"Not yet, right?" he teased. "You keep yourself safe too."

"I always do, unlike you. Just one thing." The mare flashed him a smile. "Next time you need my help with something like this, you can do your own stalking."

Ray laughed. "Don't worry, I won't be doing any stalking. Well, not a whole lot anyway."

"I can think of one Pegasus who might be getting that," she giggled, walking away. "Oh and make sure my shop doesn't get trashed like last time!"

"You got it!" He watched her until she left, then walked away, teleporting mid-step and arriving at the town hall.

From the looks of things, everypony who wanted to fight was already gathered inside. He could make out the Mayor's loud, slightly shaking voice while she made some kind of speech to the crowd. How exactly she managed to get elected, Ray still wasn't quite sure. Then again, he'd never had much interest in politics anyway.

He slipped inside and stood at the back of the crowd, waiting for his cue to approach. Of course, he would be chosen to present the battle plan. Admittedly the reason as to why he had been recommended was when everypony in this room had been out for his blood, but he did his best not to think about that.

"... changelings will no doubt be here at any moment," the Mayor was saying on his arrival. "I know that all of you brave volunteers will do your best to repel them from our home and bring us one step closer to freeing Canterlot from their rule."

Some ponies in the crowd cheered reluctantly, but most stayed silent. Ray thought he saw a bead of sweat roll down the Mayor's head in the wake of it.

"Right well um... I shall now leave you in the hooves of one whom I am told has had previous experience in leading and planning this kind of thing, Mr Ray Strike." She looked anxiously around the room. "Um... anypony know where he is?"

Ray chose this moment to teleport right next to her. "Present and accounted for!" He suppressed a grin from the Mayor's yelp of fright. "Thanks, Mayor, I'll take it from here."

"Yes..." She cleared her throat and tried to recover what little dignity she had left. "Well, good luck everypony and know that I'll be behind you all the way. From Hoofdale."

She gave a strained grin and practically sprinted off the stage a second later, leaving a smoky outline of where she had been standing.

"Very inspiring," he remarked, taking centre stage. "Okay then, hey everypony! As our illustrious Mayor has said, I will be taking charge of telling you all what to do, bossing you around and telling you my opinion matters more than yours."

"And actually leading us?" called Rainbow from the back.

"I learned it by watching you!" he returned, grinning. "Right then, there aren't really going to be a lot of options available to us, so we're going to take this one, one which I assure you I didn't just make up right now. Trust me, you're going to like it. When the changelings come here... we're going to hide."

He heard a few ponies murmuring while he let that sink in. A few said they even liked the sound of it.

"Told you so," he grinned. "We're going to hide in all the buildings and make the changelings think that we've all pulled out. They'll come in expecting a fight and we won't be there to give them one. At least, not yet. First, we wait for just the right moment. Watch them as they move further in town, splitting off into little groups so they can find us easier. We wait until they're all nicely spread out, away from each other and then... BOOM!"

He shouted the last part, teleporting into the air in the middle of the room before teleporting back. A few ponies screamed and he could hear Pinkie snorting with laughter.

"We catch 'em when they least expect it, earth ponies and unicorns on the ground, Pegasi hiding up in the clouds and wail on them until they hoof it outta town. We know this town better than they do and we can use that to our advantage when they come for us. You just have to remember not to panic, go on my signal which will be when I scream very, very loudly. You can join in with me, if you like.

"Remember like Dusk said, this town has survived against much worse in the past. We can do this, I know it. Just remember that failure isn't an option here. At all. In any way, shape or form. I mean, the option still kind of exists since we're kind of outnumbered, outgunned, outeverythinged really. In fact, against those odds, I suppose we don't really stand much of a chance but... I'm sorry, I forgot where I was going with this. I thought I'd be better at it."

"Well, you're not!" called the same pony from Dusk's speech.

"Like to see you do better!" he countered.

"Why? You're meant to be the one making the speech! Be good at it!"

"Somepony hit that guy for me!" He heard an impact and a loud groan. "Thanks! Right, I guess go out there and hit 'em hard everypony. Good luck."

He kept his smile and teleported back outside, letting it drop when he was out of sight. He pressed a hoof to his forehead and scolded himself for letting his blunt honesty and tendency to just rush in rule his mouth for a moment there. A very brief moment, but one which may depend on the turn of the tide.

Even if they did have weapons, even if they did have a plan now, these ponies weren't soldiers. They were just normal ponies, who'd been thrust into a situation where they needed as much morale and support as they could get against a force that probably had all of that and more. He'd done his best there, but he wasn't completely sure he'd done it right, not with that little slip-up. He had experience, but did that make him the right choice?

He thought of Dusk, how he'd obviously gotten up to make that speech when he probably didn't even have a clue of what to say. Despite his doubts, he was the reason that everypony had rallied here to begin with, who the girls had all given their support. He had been the one to inspire them, not Ray, so was he really the right choice to carry the banner here? He'd pretty much dropped it back there.

He didn't even really need to think about it. The answer was obvious. The guy might prefer to shy away from a fight, but in this instance, it was the stallion he considered his best friend who needed to stand at the podium, even if he might not want to. He did remember hearing somewhere that great leaders were often the ones who never sought power or war. Maybe it was the same here, being the Element of Unity and everything.

Ray brought his hoof away. The time for regretting would have to wait. Right now, he had to find Dusk and hope that it wasn't too late for him to act. He was just about to head off when he was stopped again.

"Um, excuse me, Ray?" a familiar sweet voice asked. "Can I speak with you... if you're not busy, that is...?"

"Flutters!" He pasted a grin on and tried to ignore the burning in his face he felt whenever she was around. "Nah, I'm fine. What's up?"

"Oh um... just uh..." she stammered, looking around shiftily. "Um... do you want me... with the other Pegasi? When the battle comes, I mean."

"Well, if you wanna be," he replied. "I mean, we both know you're not really the fighting type so I thought you might wanna be somewhere where you'd be away from most of the fighting, you know."

"Oh... right..." He suddenly noted tears starting to well up in her eyes. "I... I understand, I really do..."

"I'm not really sure I do." He took a step closer. "You feeling okay, Flutters?"

It was like it opened the floodgates. "You're right! You're all right! I can't do this, I can't do anything!"

"Hey, hey, where's all this coming from?" he asked gently. "What's going on? What's got you upset?"

"The fight," she said simply. "I know what the worry is a-and you're right. I... I can't do anything. I'm useless. I might as well have just left... it would have been easier on you all..."

"No, no, don't think like that." He reached out for her. "You might not be able to fight, but we still need you here. I'm sure that there's something we can-"

"Ray, please..." she whispered, looking away. "I know how h-hard this m-must be... for all of you... for you. I... I'll get out of your way. It's for the best."

He felt a pit form in his stomach, seeing her in this state. He wasn't sure whether to reach out for her and comfort her. He needed to do more other than just stand here and watch her despair like this. Fortunately, he wasn't the only one who thought so.

"Now, hold on there sugarcube," Applejack said as she walked over. "After everythin' that's happened, ya can't jus' run off like that."

"B-but Applejack... what am I supposed to do?" she asked desperately. "I can't fight! You know I can't! I'm useless!"

"Ya ain't useless and if ya don't wanna fight, ah'm sure there's somethin' ya can do here," she replied. "Like Ray said, we need ya here with us. We all need ta pull through if we're gonna last."

"What she said," put in Ray. "See, we don't think you're useless. Where did you even get that idea?"

"Um... well..." Though she didn't say anything, Ray had a pretty good idea of what the answer would be anyway.

He was about to press on this when Applejack spoke up.

"But, as long as we're lettin' a few truths be known," she went on, "ah gotta say ah... ah've been thinkin' a lil' maself."

That dread began to form again. "About what?"

"Jus' somethin' that's been said ta me. Somethin' that you also helped me realise. It's like you said, Ray, things aren't lookin' good fer us." She looked towards Canterlot. "Ah jus' wonder... how many-a us are gonna make it outta this?

Ray tried a smile. "Come on, don't think that..."

"Maybe we should," she murmured. "It's all fine bein' all heroic, but sometime we gotta face up ta the facts. How much of a chance do we actually have? Is there even one? How many-a us startin' down this road ain't gonna come ridin' back again?"

"Applejack, you don't know that-"

"But that's the problem, ah don't know!" she snapped. "Anything could happen ta me or Big Mac when this thing goes down. If it does, what's gonna happen ta the farm, ta ma family? Who's gonna look after Apple Bloom? Why didn't ah think more about this?!"

"Applejack, darling, you don't have anything to worry about." Rarity had now joined in. "You and Big Mac are two of the strongest ponies I know, even if you're not the cleanest or the most refined. But I have always admired your tenacity and I know you're going to make it out of this. We all will."

"Ah ain't seein' much of a written gurantee fer that!" she countered. "You know what it'll mean if it ends here, fer me or Big Mac. Ah know Granny Smith ain't got that many miles left in her. Apple Bloom's gonna be on her own and it'll be ma fault!"

"That won't happen, Applejack," she said firmly. "You will make it out of this, for sheer stubbornness if nothing else, and your family will be safe in Hoofdale. Granny Smith and Apple Bloom will be fine."

"But what if we don't hold 'em here?" she argued. "What if they jus' beat us here an' move on. They won't be safe then, will they? An' ah won't be there ta do anythin' ta stop 'em!"


"An' what about you?" she went on. "If you don't make it out, what's gonna happen ta Sweetie Belle and yer folks when the changelings come for 'em? Did ya think about that?!"

The debutante's eyes widened. "Why... how dare you even suggest such a thing?! At least I have not given up for the first blow has even been struck!"

"It has been struck an', in case ya ain't noticed, it was struck hard!" she yelled, pointing at Canterlot. "Now, it's comin' here an' we barely stand a chance ta try an' stop it!"

"That doesn't mean we can just stand idly by and let it come! Remember what Dusk said, in his speech. We've all faced a lot worse in this town and survived, we can do so again."

"Well, maybe he's startin' ta have second thoughts, 'cause ah ain't seein' him now," she said with a gesture around. "Maybe he's figured that jus' cause we've made it out before don't mean we can do it again here!"

"Now, hold on a second," he said, raising his voice to be heard. "Let's just calm down here, stop and think. I know Dusk would say that if he were here and you do too."

"I wouldn't say that, especially since it might not be him that's doing the talking." He looked up to see Rainbow, hovering overhead.

"And what does that mean?" he asked, with due dread.

"Just that maybe he won't be the only one that'll have an opinion. Like maybe somepony in here," she said, rapping her head, "and if he was making that speech, you can bet we wouldn't be cheering."

"Oh no..." Fluttershy's eyes widened with terror. "You... you don't mean...?"

Rainbow only looked darkly at her. "I'm not saying he will, just that he might."

Her meaning dawned on Ray. "You have gotta be kidding me."

"I wish I were," she sighed.

"Now, this really is getting ridiculous!" cried Rarity. "You cannot possibly be implying that Blackhole Doom still resides inside Dusk's mind!"

"I'm just saying he might be," she argued. "We don't know if that spell really got all of him out. A little bit might still be in there."

"How much is a lil'?"

"Applejack, you... you can't be agreeing with this!" Rarity looked wildly between them both. "Do you know how completely far-fetched this sounds?!"

"He did come out after he'd been boilin' fer quite a while las' time an' Dusk ain't one fer talkin' about his problems," she reasoned. "Maybe we gotta factor that in too."

"No... no, not again..." whispered Fluttershy fearfully. "Please, big brother, no..."

"Or we can just dismiss it as being entirely unfounded!" shouted Rarity. "If Twilight says the spell worked, then it worked! Ray, back me up here!"

"I have to agree with the snob," he said. "There's been no sign that Doom is still in Dusk's head. Trust me, I would have noticed."

"But that's thing," replied Rainbow. "That was when he was all in there. This is just a little bit, something you may have missed that could mean Doom'll be back on the playing field after sitting in the wings so long."

"I think I know what wings you're worried about."

That earned a death glare. "What are you saying, huh?"

"You know exactly what I'm saying," he replied. "It happened, it was bad, but get over it. He's gone."

"Fine then! Don't blame me when it's your legs he's breaking because you didn't listen!" she snapped.

"Ray might be right there," put in Rarity. "How can you still be holding the blame on Dusk for that after so long when nothing else has happened?"

"Nothing that we know about! We need to be ready in case of that!"

"Whaddya think we should do?"

"How can you still even be considering this?!"

"I don't want that to happen... not again..."

As they all continued to argue among themselves, Ray tried to step in when he could, but he was always drowned out or cut off. It was only continuing to escalate and he didn't have any way of stopping it. Nothing that was working anyway. Twilight's actions were starting to make sense. This had been her plan all along, to distract them from the real enemy. Worst of all, it looked like it was working.

Looking around for a solution, he saw Pinkie standing not too far off. He made for her... until he saw the look in her eyes that only seemed more prominent the more he looked, the way that she just stood there watching them fight. Had Twilight gotten to her too? Had seeing them all squabble like this been promised to her by the unicorn's twisted words?

Even he started to feel a little hopeless. He felt it even more while her mane started to deflate in a way he'd never seen before...

"Enough!" The shout was enough to silence them. "Look, you're all worried, I get it. But don't start fighting each other about it, we've been over this. All of you, start getting ready. I'll be right back and don't start another fight, at least not until the changelings get here."

"Why, where are you going?" Rarity called.

"To fix a leak!" he replied, teleporting away to his destination.

He looked around, saw he was in the part of town he needed to be and strode in the direction of the house that stood at the outskirts. He could already see movement, a stallion wearing some saddlebags while a lavender mare waited for him. He was starting to lock the door, while she waited impatiently.

Time to end this.

"Come on, Dusk," she was saying urgently. "They could be here any minute, we need to get going now."

"Hold on a moment," he replied. "I just... need to make sure this is locked."

"Who cares? It won't stop the changelings," she countered. "Now come on, let's go!"

"Do you really think I'd let him go anywhere with you?" he asked sharply, standing in the way of the path.

"Ray?" Dusk looked surprised at seeing him. "What... what are you doing here?"

"Oh, nothing," he shrugged. "I was just in the neighbourhood, passing by. Thought I'd drop by and stop you making one of the biggest mistakes you could ever hope to make. You know, nothing much."

He looked to the ground. "I'm sorry, Ray... you wouldn't understand."

"Oh no, I really think I do," he replied, turning his gaze to Twilight.

She glared back and leaned over to whisper. "You see, just like I said. He's trying to stop us from being together."

"You know, I'm standing right here," he said loudly. "Little bit rude to talk about somepony like they're not here."

"W-what?" She tried to smile. "Ray, what are you talking about? It's me, it's-"

"It isn't though, it really isn't," he cut off. "It took me a little longer to figure it out, but I did. I've really got to start listening to my hunches sooner."

"Ray, what is going on here?" asked Dusk, in an almost drowsy voice. Even his eyes looked a little different.

"I'll explain later. For now, I think you should step away from her," he warned. "Just walk away and come to me."

"No!" Twilight blocked his view. "You won't take my stallion away from me!"

He laughed at her. "Normally, I'd agree with you, but not this time. Mainly because he's not your stallion."

He saw her eyes widen, a flash of green against purple. "Ray, w-what are you talking about?"

"I think you know." He started to approach. "Shifty eyes, stammering. Typical signs of a liar. Just too bad none of the others could see it. Now, buzz off home to your friends before I make you."

She glanced from him to Dusk. "I... I really have no idea what you're talking about."

She was backed up against the wall when he made it to her. "You really made the mistake of leaving me out of your little scheme. Now, you're going to pay for it."

Before he could completely close the distance, a wall of blue stood between them and he was staring into angry, emerald green eyes. Though a more poisonous green resided in them too now.

"Ray, think very carefully about what you do next," he warned in a low voice.

"I don't need to," he replied. "Having eyes that aren't your colour of green really doesn't bode well for you, I've noticed."

Dusk ignored that. "Step away from her."

"Dusk, listen to me," he urged. "That's not Twilight you're guarding there. I'm your friend, you have to believe me."

"But... but I..." Confusion took hold for a moment until it was dispelled. "No, no! I'm not the one doing wrong here. Keep away from Twilight or you will force my hoof."

"Dusk, please just listen," he begged. "Come on, you know what I'm saying must be true. Why would I make up something like this?"

"No... no!" he insisted. "You're trying... to drive us apart. Like she said you would. I... I won't let you!"

He saw a flash of orange and teleported back just in time to avoid it. That poisonous green had taken over Dusk completely now, glowing just as much as his hooves were.

"Dusk, come on buddy," he tried again. "Listen to me, just think!"

"Stay away from my marefriend!" He charged at him, shooting colour pellets and swinging his hooves.

Ray took one to the shoulder and had to teleport around the back to avoid the attack, rubbing where it burned. Around the front, he could hear Dusk searching for him, trying to find where he'd gone. He felt some regret start to well up.

He hoped it wouldn't have to come to this. He'd tried to reason with him, but Dusk was too far gone. Whether it was part of his instinct to protect Twilight or part of the mind control, all he knew was that his marefriend was being threatened. If nothing else, Ray knew how fiercely he'd protect her now. He'd tried... but he had no choice.

"Ray, where are you?" he called. "I'm willing to discuss this! Just come back and explain to me!"

"I'm right here! And, unfortunately," he answered, teleporting back in front of him, "I'm not."

He swung his hoof at Dusk before he could react, sending him staggering back. He teleported behind him before he could recover and got him in a lock around his neck. All he had to do was knock him out and get rid of Twilight. Maybe then he'd be willing to listen to reason.

He felt something cold around his body and saw the shadows writhing around him like tentacles. The surprise and the grip made him loosen his hold. He cried out when he was hoisted into the air and tossed aside like a ragdoll. Recovering quickly, he zapped away before he hit the ground, using the momentum for a kick to Dusk's head.

It made contact and he performed a roll when he hit the ground, turning to see his friend turned opponent stagger from the impact.

"Come on, dude, step it up!" he echoed, charging back again with a punch.

But it didn't hit him. Dusk's leg blocked it and he felt the stab of pain from the counter that followed. Ray recovered, blocked the next blow and shoved Dusk away, hitting him in the face and teleporting behind him, falling from the air with a kick. This was met by one from Dusk, right in his stomach and knocking some of the wind out of him. He hit the ground hard and gulped down air.

Ray really was caught a little off-guard from this. He'd beaten Dusk before, but that was just a sparring match. This was a real fight. Dusk wasn't himself and he clearly wasn't holding anything back. If he was going to beat him, he couldn't afford to either.

He charged to Dusk, who ran to intercept. At the last moment, Ray broke away and jumped towards the wall of his house with a teleport. He hit the wall and sprang off it, his hooves pointed forward to strike Dusk. A shimmering white wall stopped him, turning pink and making him bounce back and slam back into the wall. He felt the cold around his body again, tendrils holding him in place from the shadows the house cast.

He looked up, saw Dusk striding towards him looking livid. Twilight stood not far off, watching with satisfaction. That helped fuel his anger, making him teleport out of the shadow trap and back onto warm ground. He looked around, saw Dusk galloping straight for him.

He waited for the right moment. Dusk might have strong magic, but he still wasn't very tough physically. He had to use that to his advantage. He noted when his hooves all left the ground and jumped at the same time, teleporting up directly beneath him. He juggled him into the air, punching him several times before drop-kicking him to the ground.

"Always gets them," he remarked. Dusk coughed, clutching his stomach. "Sorry to do this to you, buddy. I really am."

He turned to deal with the real problem here... just as a bolt of green energy shot at him. He screamed when it hit him, blinding him. He rubbed his eyes, tried to clear them and saw something orange blur towards him and strike him hard in the stomach.

He felt his hooves leave the floor, the wind rushing out of him again, rushing by him when he soared through the air. It stopped when he smacked into something wooden, shattering on impact and lying crumpled in a heap. His vision was blurred, his chest felt like it was on fire and he acknowledged momentarily the small wound to his pride that he'd been beaten.

He could make out a blue blur, standing rigid still. The purple one ran up, stood next to him for a bit and the two of them galloped away. He tried to reach out for them, call to them, but soon saw only blackness.

Suddenly, he felt energy surge through him and his eyes shoot open. They still weren't great, but they were getting better and he could make out the pink-furred figure before him. Even if some of the details were lost.

"Take it easy," she said soothingly. Even her voice sounded a little distant. "You've been out for quite a bit. What happened here? I came as quickly as I could when I heard where you were."

"Dusk... hit me... very hard..." he gasped. "Ran off... with... Twilight. Hope... I won't need glasses too... Don't wanna... ruin my good looks, you know?"

"I'm sure you won't need to worry about that," she assured. "Which way did they go? Can you tell me?"

He pointed. "That way... somewhere... saw them running..."

"Right, I'll get after them." He saw her move closer. "First, let's get you somewhere safer."

"No... you go... quickly..." he insisted. "I've... had worse..."

"Ray, are you-?"

"I'm sure, believe me. It's okay, I'll just... lie here on the floor..." he murmured. "I'll be fine... go..."

She lingered for a moment longer and Ray could make out a nod.

"I plan to." There was an edge of determination now. "I'm not letting this happen to them too. I'll find them and bring them back. Just you watch me."

"Good luck with that..." Ray heard the hooves gallop off and started to pick himself up. "Great. A pony down and we haven't even started yet..."

Author's Note:

What’s up folks! I am now a university student! The actual teaching hasn’t started yet, but we’ll wait and see how much it and my now revived social life affects my writing. Fear not, I don’t plan on leaving this story any time soon. My apologies if this chapter didn’t seem as lengthy as others have been.
Next time, let’s see how things are going on the other side of the lines.

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