• Published 7th Sep 2013
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Glory Be - BlackRoseRaven



Luna and Scrivener struggle to set right all the wrongs from their past and save their family and friends. Tenth and final story in the Blooming Moon Chronicles/99 Worlds Saga.

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Making Something From Nothing

Chapter Forty Five: Making Something From Nothing
~BlackRoseRaven

When Hecate showed up with Sin, and proceeded to very calmly ask them how they managed to deal with the Magnum Illrhapp that had taken up residence in the garbage pit, Luna's reaction had been to attempt to fling Hecate into the filthy abyss. Hecate had been a little surprised by the ferocity of the mare, but had warded her off and then simply created a shield, standing behind the barrier while Luna battered wildly on it with her hooves and shouted slurs and insults until she eventually tired herself out.

Sin had just stared the entire time. She had no idea what an 'Illrhapp' was, or why her Mutt was so frustrated. Well, to be entirely honest, she didn't even entirely know what they were doing here, in this place that was even deeper than she'd thought the engineering facility went. Hecate didn't really answer her questions, after all: just gave orders that Sin knew better than to question or not obey.

Of course, Hecate struck her as having some ulterior motive: if not another, more-secret reason to help them, then certainly a plan of her own she was working on behind the scenes. Some of the power crystals Sin had helped to charge, and even shaped with her own hooves... they weren't exactly for anything Hecate had claimed they were going to need. And likewise, the massive, awful-looking thing Hecate had been working on the entire time she'd been ordering Sin around like a servant... well, the unicorn wasn't dense enough to think that was anything but some kind of weapon.

So the question that had originally been a curiosity had now actually become a worry: why did her parents all seem willing to trust Hecate? Why did they give her so much leeway, instead of forcibly putting her into line. Actions spoke for themselves, after all: Hecate was powerful, but she hadn't fought back against her Móðer's temper-tantrum, instead hiding behind a shield the whole time. Likewise, however, Luna hadn't really tried to hurt Hecate, or break down that barrier... she had just pummeled it with her hooves and yelled insults until she'd gotten tired or bored.

Now, here they were: her Móðer and Father and her, climbing into a lift that looked suspiciously like a cage, while Hecate and Twilight Sparkle stayed up here to manage the controls. Well, in Hecate's case she believed that. Twilight Sparkle, she thought, was just being weak and whimpery and lazy.

Innocence gave her mother a moody look, even as part of her whispered that was a little unfair... but that voice was tiny, and easy to ignore. Part of her was actually glad Twilight wouldn't be coming along, however... it gave her the time she needed to talk to Mutt and Daddy alone and ask a question or two that she thought she could get the answer to.

Then Hecate rose one arm into the air, and a panel on the side opened before there was a thin burst of steam, her mechanical fist pumping in the air like a piston as something was ejected from the open side of her limb. Innocence frowned, then stared in disbelief as a little metal ball with a single staring gemstone eye flitted quickly through the air towards them, levitation runes glowing over its body as Hecate said distastefully: “I haven't had the time to make any better sentries, but this one will do for now. I'll relay orders to you through Twilight Sparkle.”

Scrivener and Luna both made almost-identical faces, tilting their heads to the side as they both studied the little floating orb warily, before Innocence asked nervously: “Are... are we going to be making a Tyrant Wyrm now?”

“Yes.” Hecate answered simply, and then she yanked on the lever, and Scrivener and Luna both winced and clung to the floor as Innocence squeaked in shock and flailed wildly, light body lifted into the air by the force and speed of the fall before she landed with a thud on her face when Hecate slammed the lever back into locked position.

Scrivener flopped over and Luna shivered on the spot, then shook her head wildly before she looked up and shouted furiously: “Great idiotic mouthpiece! When Scrivener finishes this beastie, thou thyself shall serve as it first victim!”

The only response was for the sentry orb to fly forward and bonk painfully into Luna's skull, making her blink dumbly before she swiped a hoof at it grouchily, but the orb easily shot out of the way, floating a short distance from the ponies and already beginning to make quick observations, as Innocence mumbled uneasily: “I don't... I don't think...”

Luna and Scrivener both looked over at her curiously, and the polymorphed unicorn cleared her throat and shook her head, saying finally: “Sorry. The last time I spent the entire night working was a few year ago with Gymbr, helping him build a generator for Valhalla... I guess I'm just a little... a little bit muddled, that's all...”

Scrivener only gave a small smile, and then he and Luna both winced and twitched as Twilight Sparkle yelped above: the sound was so faint that Innocence didn't even seem to recognize what it was, but Scrivener and Luna not only clearly heard the cry of pain, they also felt Hecate's claws as if they were digging into their own skulls, felt the sizzle of magic and psychic intrusion... and then very clearly heard Hecate say coldly: Your daughter is not muddled. She's just a coward.

“Hecate.... release Twilight Sparkle and retreat from our link...” Luna growled, her wings spreading slightly, eyes glowing with anger as Innocence stared with surprise at her Móðer. But Scrivener Blooms looked almost as furious as the sapphire mare, and that told her that somehow Hecate had actually done just that: jacked into at least their linked minds if not their linked soul somehow through her mother... But it's not like Twilight could ever fight off something like Hecate... “And I will ask thee to keep thy opinions to thyself whilst thou does so.”

Shut up and listen. Hecate responded, and both Luna and Scrivener felt those metal claws crushing down harder on Twilight's head: a gesture that was completely unnecessary, hostile, angering... and also got Luna and Scrivener to focus their attention entirely on the goddess, whether they wanted to or not. I'm going to teach you a lesson about your daughter. If I'm wrong, you can have this metal body of mine and play racketball with my head. But if I'm right, then whether you think it's a good idea or not, no matter how much you think 'family' overrules basic common sense and everything else, I'm putting a control collar on your daughter.

Luna snarled, and Scrivener shook his head vehemently, growling: “That isn't going to help the situation, especially when-”

Shut up. Hecate growled again in their minds, and then they were assaulted by a barrage of images, both ponies wincing in pain. It took the form of a psychic attack more than it did a telepathic sharing of information, and it was sloppy and unpleasant and all the memories seemed tinted and off-color, but at the same time...

Yes, they both saw it. Hecate had put Sin to work helping her build weapons and charge power cores, and Innocence hadn't mentioned any of this to them yet. She had seemed too afraid to even speak up for herself against any of Hecate's orders: she had done precisely what she had been told each and every time... sometimes perhaps a little too quickly, a little too eagerly.

And more than the images, they caught what Hecate was thinking: that Sin had been changed somehow by Gymbr as well, perhaps begun to be shaped towards becoming like the Fates. Servile, forced to obey... but Luna shook her head fiercely, muttering: “No. No, thou art...that is wrong. Thou art just an idiot, Hecate, who does not know trust or compassion.”

“And how would a control collar help that?” Twilight Sparkle asked uncertainly, unmindful of the claws digging into her skull through her mane, ignoring the faint trails of blood running down her skull and even over her features as she instead focused only on concern for her daughter, for the fact that Innocence... “No, she just... maybe she was going to tell us, but...”

“She's been begging me for dark magic and power. She's afraid of me... looks at me like I'm supposed to be her new mommy.” Hecate said distastefully, shaking her head slowly as she scowled down at the Lich. “You might want to pass your broken daughter off on me, but I don't have the time to play foalsitter. If I put a control collar on her, I can program her to obey you.”

“How is that a solution?” Twilight asked almost desperately, and then she glared up at Hecate, shouting: “My daughter is fine! She's not a toy, maybe she... she was trying to give you a chance, or are you so broken all you can see in everyone else is a reflection of yourself?”

Hecate looked down at the Lich with surprise, and then she shook her head slowly, an entertained, almost pleased expression spreading over her features as she said softly: “Well, what a surprise. It looks like you might have a bit of a spine after all, Twilight Sparkle.”

She stopped, and then her horn glowed, tapping into the link between Luna, Scrivener and Twilight again as she tightened her grip against the Lich's skull, saying coldly: “Your daughter is nothing more than a feral dog, following whatever she perceives as the strongest at the moment. That is no use to any of us: while I'm pleased to be recognized as stronger than you are, I also recognize that she may attempt to take any power I offer her and then try to reverse her hold on me. She also might abandon us for the Light.”

“Can we have this conversation later?” Scrivener Blooms asked sourly from the hundred or so feet down the garbage abyss, where he and Luna were trying to calm themselves down as they sat in the cage together, while Innocence was gazing worriedly between her parents. “We're in the middle of something here, aren't we? And this just is not comfortable-”

I know. It's not supposed to be. Hecate said coolly in their minds, and they could almost see her cold amethyst eyes, could almost feel as the goddess' metal claw flexed a little against Twilight's skull. I need you two to understand that I am serious and this is not simply a bid for power or control. Because if we fail to get the idiotic filly under control, then she will turn against us, and she will destroy us because you will all be too weak to destroy her.

There was silence for a few moments, before Scrivener and Luna looked up in sharp surprise as Twilight Sparkle's voice whispered, as if she was right beside them: “No. If something happens... then I'll take... I'll do whatever I have to do.”

Neither Luna nor Scrivener really knew what to say, shifting a little as Hecate fell silent as well... and then there was another burst of static in their minds before Hecate's presence faded away, and both Luna and Scrivener sighed and slumped, dropping their heads forward and closing their eyes in the same mirrored moment.

Then they both looked awkwardly up before Scrivener Blooms cleared his throat as Innocence frowned uncertainly, the young mare asking slowly: “Is... did something happen? Does Hecate really have the power to-”

And then the sentry orb shot down and whacked loudly into Innocence's head, making her yelp and stumble hurriedly to the side before Luna growled irritably and flicked her horn firmly, blasting the metal sphere backwards. It whirred and squealed, buzzing violently back and forth through the air as sparks flew from it, and then it suddenly shot through the door and hurriedly buzzed upwards towards the top of the tunnel as Luna grumbled moodily: “Stupid Evil Celestia. Aye, she does. She is extremely powerful, Innocence, and possesses great and terrible knowledge.”

There was silence for a few moments, and then Sin asked slowly: “Well... if that's the case, then what did she say? Was it... was it anything important?”

Luna smiled faintly at this, shaking her head briefly before she and Scrivener Blooms traded looks, and then the sapphire mare finally murmured: “We will discuss it later. Why, does thou have something worrying thy mind?”

“No... I just always wondered why you were so... why you treated her the way you do, but I think I understand now.” Sin smiled a little, nodding and studying her parents. It was like with Celestia... well, their Celestia, Celestia Freya, she meant, since Hecate was a Celestia too. Her power gave her the right to act as she wanted, made her a valuable ally that they didn't want to risk losing. The difference was merely in presentation... except, Sin realized, more and more Freya was showing off her own passions and power too.

Or maybe her parents were even slier than that: maybe they were keeping this tenuous relationship with Hecate because Hecate was useful, and powerful, and even though she was so strong... she served them, in a sense. And funnily enough, Innocence was starting to like that thought: to have so much power, to be able to do anything you wanted... but to work for someone else, as bodyguard, specialist, even servant. To have all the power in the universe, all the freedom to use it... and none of the responsibility for her own actions, since she wasn't a leader, only a servant of a master or mistress. Yes... with Gymbr, it was never like that. Gymbr was always in total control, giving orders, refusing to accept responsibility for anyone's actions but his own and punishing anyone who reached higher than their station with such savagery...

But her parents weren't like that at all. And she had come to realize she loved them for that... and she wasn't afraid of them. Not just because she was probably stronger, or well on her way to gaining the strength she would need to overthrow them if it ever became necessary... because they were good to her, loved her in return, protected and shielded her from the world and responsibility. She liked the idea of serving them more and more... especially as she realized not only all the strings she could pull, how she could learn to control the agenda, but because of how it would protect her freedom and her power and continue to leave her without ever worrying about being held responsible for her own actions. Only her parents, her master and mistress, wold be held accountable.

Innocence shook her head quickly out, then she straightened and turned an almost eager look at her mother and father. In spite of everything, she couldn't help but feel like they had been talking about her: maybe Hecate had been impressed with her, or had orders for her to carry out. Sin would dearly love to learn more of the goddess' skills, certainly... but at the end of the day, Hecate was just a stepping stone to greater power, and what she truly hoped was that all her manipulations were finally starting to pay off and get her more involved with all these silly little ponies.

Luna and Scrivener gazed back at the daughter of themselves and Twilight Sparkle, and then the sapphire mare gave a faint smile and a slow shake of her head, expression almost... sad. Almost disappointed, as she saw that wishful-slyness in Sin's eyes, how she'd immediately moved on from asking important questions to looking for an in... how childish and brash and hurried she was being. Was this all that she had been taught by Gymbr? Because there was even a bitter disappointment in the fact that Sin wasn't casing them properly as marks, let alone having any effect at all in manipulating them. 'Tis sad, on so many different levels.

There was silence for a few moments, and then Luna said softly: “We have a job to do, Sin. If thou promises to focus on the task at hoof, then later on I shall explain to thee why we treat Hecate so well. Is this a fair deal?”

“Yes.” Innocence smiled warmly, raising her head as her eyes gleamed: she looked forwards to hearing what her parents had to say on the subject. She knew that it might be a lie, but there might be truth, too... and either way, it was going to teach her more about her parents. More about what she really wanted to know: how they worked, what made them tick, what they truly respected. Whether it was this silly code of honor, in which case Innocence would have to gently show them why that was a foolish path... or if it was power. Which she fully understood and respected herself.

Scrivener and Luna both headed to the doorway of the cage without looking at their daughter, leaping out and gliding smoothly down to the mire below, and Innocence followed after a moment, simply jumping out but then catching herself with a spell that slowed her momentum in midair, letting her settle gently to the dark ooze. And she shivered in surprise as she touched down: it reminded her of being back in Heaven for a moment, of the place Gymbr had created to spawn forth Tyrant Wyrms in the heart of Valhalla... the endless, winding path of the Black Serpent.

Innocence paused, then looked up hesitantly at her parents, opening her mouth... and then simply shrugging a little, deciding not to speak for now. It was very possible that the Black Serpent still existed, after all: if it did, then they wouldn't just have an easy route in and out of Valhalla by a few special spells she and Gymbr had developed together, they would have a place where they could marshal their forces and call up very powerful allies that might, right now, only be resting in silent dormancy. But she could tell them about that later, after she judged their potential a little more...

Except there were two parts of her that badly wanted to speak up... one part, because it was the... the right thing to do? That was ridiculous, though... wasn't it? No, she wasn't about to listen to that part of her mind... wasn't even sure that it really was the right thing to do. And the other part thought that she should speak up because... throughout this entire mire, this deep and winding passage that was self-replicating, that was turning all the organic matter being poured into it from the chutes on either side into corruption as rapidly as liquefied garbage touched the life-bringing, miraculous bog of Panacea... she could feel her father clearly.

Yes, her father acted weak sometimes. Let himself be bullied by Mutt, called himself an 'earth pony' instead of a Clockwork Pony, showed sympathy and mercy to those who didn't deserve it... but oh, he was powerful. This entire pit had been transformed from waste into a resource more precious than any of them realized... after all, it wasn't like her father had ever really experimented with it, or seen the full potential of the Clay of Prometheus... not like Gymbr had...

Innocence licked her lips slowly, digging her claws against the mire and breathing quietly as she closed her eyes. She could feel it: this poison bowed to her father's will, her father's wishes... and more than that, because of his link with Twilight and Luna, it would empower and serve both of them as well. But especially Luna... there was so much subconscious, delicious desire crushed into this dark poison, and oh, how feeling that thrilled her, filled her up with a strange kind of pride and adoration... a recognition, from one pony who pursued power, to another who was just as dedicated in that pursuit... maybe even more so...

And unlike Gymbr... maybe she could even trust her family. Maybe they could actually work together, side-by-side, without ever having to fear each other's betrayal. That thought gave her a strange kind of delight: after all, there would be so much possible if they could work together. And with all her recent thoughts and feelings, she would be glad to serve... as a matter of fact, after everything Gymbr had taught her, with everything she had come to learn... maybe servitude would be the best choice she could make. Protection, sanctuary, love, power, and what price would her parents ask? No, a better question; what price wasn't she willing to pay?

Her eyes fluttered, her breathing quickened as she gazed almost blissfully across at Luna and Scrivener. They both looked back at her after a moment when they caught her stare, and the stallion shifted awkwardly as the sapphire mare frowned a little, then leaned forwards and said moodily: “If thou stares at us like such much longer, Sin, I may have to trade thy coffee for slumbertea.”

Innocence blinked a few times, then she blushed and cleared her throat before smiling and lying lamely: “Sorry, I just... I was wondering what we should be doing. Hecate never gave me any specific instructions, really...”

Scrivener and Luna traded looks, and then shrugs before the sapphire mare closed her eyes... and above, Twilight Sparkle frowned a little before he turned hesitant eyes up towards Hecate, as she absently brushed a bit of dried blood from her mane. “They're there, they just... want to know what to do. And Innocence is acting a little... weird.”

“I don't care.” Hecate said sourly, and then she shook her head briefly before saying contemptibly: “And if you really don't believe that daughter of yours doesn't know what to do, then you're fools.”

“Maybe we just want to pretend we don't. We want to see her real intentions. We want to give her a chance, like we gave you a chance.” Twilight Sparkle replied in a quiet, even voice, and Hecate looked moodily at the violet mare for a few moments before she sighed tiredly and nodded slowly.

She looked away for a moment, then said finally: “Innocence should shape the Tyrant Wyrm with thaumaturgy. Scrivener Blooms and Luna Brynhild should be the ones to give it life and power.”

There was silence for a few moments, and then Twilight nodded hesitantly. But for a few seconds, she only looked up at Hecate, and the goddess scowled back down to her in response after a moment before the Lich gave a brief smile and murmured: “I just wanted to say thank you. For helping us with Innocence, in your own way. I really appreciate it, Hecate, and... I'm really glad for it, too. I hope you know that.”

“I hope you know that I don't care.” Hecate retorted disgustedly, and then she shook her head and reached down to shove Twilight away with one claw, rolling her eyes. “Just try and do what you've been asked. Preferably with as little emotional involvement as possible.”

Twilight Sparkle only smiled faintly, then she looked back down towards the garbage pit and took a slow breath, closing her eyes and concentrating. Hecate glanced at the Lich, her expression irritable... but she seemed curious, her eyes studying the violet mare closely, watching how she reacted, the way her features tensed slightly, sensing the magic that emanated from her body.

Twilight had all her focus on her partners at the moment, however, passing her experiences as well as suggestions down to Luna and Scrivener... and below, in the mire pit, both ponies nodded in unconscious synchronization before Scrivener Blooms grimaced a little, raising a Talon and saying moodily: “Great. Well uh... okay, Sin. Antares... mentioned you were able to shape a Tyrant Wyrm body. Do you think you can do that again? Apparently you're going to build one and then... I'm going to bring it to life.”

“I don't think I can do it by myself.” Sin's voice would have been childishly, almost-insultingly innocent if she had just managed to hide a little bit more of that sly tone creeping through it... although the grin on her face and the gleam in her eye also didn't help matters much in terms of making her sound believable. “I think you should help, Daddy... and besides, my Tyrant Wyrm body isn't anything really special. We should strive to make something... special, right?”

Scrivener Blooms grimaced a little at this, shifting uneasily before Luna nudged him firmly, and then the sapphire mare said pointedly: “But it must be something that answers to Scrivy, Sin. Thou shall have to forgive us but... we have several reasons we think it best that thou art not left in possession of a world destroyer.”

“I promise I won't challenge Daddy for ownership of the Wyrm.” Sin said softly, and even though it did frustrate her a little... at the same time, she wasn't lying, and it wasn't like there was anything she could do, anyway. Scrivener's control over the mire was much better than hers, and some instinct inside her told her that even if it hadn't been, her father would have an affinity with the Tyrant Wyrm that she wouldn't be able to match anyway.

Both of her parents were looking at her though, and Innocence cleared her throat before she said awkwardly: “I'm just... I'm trying not to argue, that's all. I could if I wanted to, but... what would be the point? Besides, I... I love you both. I feel safe with you both. I never had safety with Gymbr... I'd... forgotten what it was like to have...”

She looked down, feeling a faint pulse through the mire, then she shook her head hurriedly out and mumbled: “Sorry. I just... I think it's just the mire affecting my emotions and making me sound a little... silly.”

Scrivener Blooms and Luna Brynhild traded looks, then faint smiles and shrugs, and there was an awkward quiet for a little while before the stallion nodded a few times and said softly: “Then don't worry about it, okay? Just remember that we all love you too... me, Twilight, and Luna. We're here for you, and we want you to feel... welcome in our family again and... when we can trust you more, Sin, then we can talk about more... everything.”

He realized a little lamely after a moment that he hadn't exactly said... anything, really. But Innocence was smiling at him happily, nodding firmly a few times as if he'd given some monumental speech, and the stallion sighed a little before frowning curiously as he tested a claw against the mire. He realized how clearly he could feel his daughter through it when he concentrated even just a little, and the earth pony couldn't help but test this...

He felt... a wild array of emotions, good and bad, and so many of them were so... so strong. Maybe that was what Gymbr had done to their daughter... not just the playing with her mind and forcing her to live by his rules, he had made her emotions so powerful and distorted that she couldn't really tell what was up or down, good or bad: everything was just intense, and that would make pleasure impossible to deny...

He shook his head out hurriedly, biting his cheek before he cleared his throat and looked up at his daughter when Innocence frowned at him worriedly. It didn't seem like she'd noticed what he was doing, so he simply shrugged lamely before saying finally: “I... I really have no clue how to start this.”

Innocence only laughed at this, smiling at him, and Luna couldn't help but give Scrivener a faintly-amused look: for a pony who believed herself to be so well-versed in the arts of lying and manipulation, Innocence sure wasn't that difficult of a mark herself. “Oh, then let me go ahead and show you, Daddy, okay? I'll start, but... you make changes as you see fit. I'm sure that we'll be able to interact well.”

Scrivener Blooms only nodded hesitantly, then he and Luna watched as Innocence turned calmly around, shoving her claws into the mire and shivering a little as she murmured: “The more Panacea, the easier it is to utilize it... it's alive, Daddy. Never forget that it's alive... and the bigger the servant... the more power it has.”

She breathed slowly in and out before baring her fangs and flexing down against the poison, and Scrivener and Luna both stared in amazement as in front of her, the dark corruption began to rumble and ripple. A whirlpool spread slowly through the dark gunk in front of her, but one that went against the laws of physics and reality, pulling more ooze into itself and not forming a vortex, but becoming a swirling hill that was steadily stretching towards the roof as Innocence whispered: “Power. Power creates. Power is the root of everything.”

Scrivener grimaced a bit, but neither he nor Luna knew what to say... what they even could say, as the hill of mire compressed itself at the sides and strange ripples formed over its surface, breaking up the constant flow, making it into something... chaotic, malformed, mutative.

The shape transformed, changed... became Wyrm-like, as its body rippled, as its surface hardened here and there. Innocence grinned wider, eyes flashing before she laughed as she stepped back, looking with delight over the semisolid, basic Wyrm shape she had created before she gestured eagerly to her parents. “Come on, come on! I want to do it together!”

Scrivener and Luna traded looks, and then the sapphire mare shrugged and shoved the stallion forwards, smiling awkwardly: maybe it was a little bizarre for a family activity, but at the same time, this was probably the first time their daughter had actually asked them to do something with her since she'd been lost to them. That was a plea that the stallion couldn't really fight, and Luna didn't want him to... in fact... “Can I help as well?”

“I...” Innocence looked thoughtfully over her shoulder, and then she smiled suddenly, saying quietly: “Yes, I think you can, Mutt. Focus on Daddy, draw on his powers and use your soulstone horn to replicate them... the mire should listen to you. If it listens to Twilight Sparkle, it'll listen to you.”

Luna and Scrivener traded looks, then both simply shrugged: it sounded like something they would simply have to try and do to get a grasp of. But neither really had a problem with that, as Luna cracked her neck and looked both uneasily and with strange pleasure over this thing they were making: a Tyrant Wyrm, a monster that had become forgotten legend in Equestria's past, a parasite that could destroy entire worlds... and here they were, trying to make one that was even better than Valthrudnir ever had.

Luna's horn glowed, concentrating on the creature's chest, just wanting to see what she could do... and over its semisolid body, mire turned to hard crystal, and then took on a different texture, becoming armory scale. Luna's eyes widened in surprise, and her horn flashed... and a moment later, the scales were just mire again, except they had... the faintest blue tinge, she thought.

Without realizing it, she focused again, wondering if she could somehow change the colors of the beast... and a moment later, her soulstone horn pulsed, and the patchy spot she had already affected transformed, turning a dark blue. Luna's eyes widened, and the scales shifted, becoming greener... then reddish... and then they were black again.

“That's great, Mutt! You can help us put on the scales and deal with the cosmetic changes... I bet with your powers, we could even give it permanent bands of runes to enhance it further, like any other construct.” Innocence sounded almost too eager from where she was positioned on one side of the Wyrm, with her claws half-buried into a forelimb. Scrivener Blooms had hesitantly taken up position on the other side, but he was only caressing the side of the beast... yet even he wasn't blind to seeing how his presence alone seemed to be having... some kind of strange effect on this thing they were trying to form.

Luna saw it as well, and then she grinned wryly, shaking her head briefly as she watched the entire side of the Wyrm... change. As she saw that its whole body swelled slightly, muttering: “Aye, I am sure I will be such a great help, like a toddler with crayons helping an esteemed painter with his portrait...”

She stopped, then looked over at Scrivener Blooms, feeling Twilight's own quiet reassurances before she added silently to Scrivener Blooms: And thou must not resist at making this... the very best we can. Do not hold back, Scrivener Blooms. It is crucial that we have weapons that will stand against the Pious.

Scrivener Blooms smiled faintly at this, then he turned his attention back to the Tyrant Wyrm, hesitating before pushing his claws against the half-formed entity. The Tyrant Wyrm rumbled, its body losing some of it solidity as mire began to draw upwards from the pit and add to the Wyrm's body.

Innocence stepped back with surprise, pulling away from the Wyrm to watch as the already-large creature grew further. She could feel her father taking over a little, pushing the limits of what they were creating, wanting to make something strong... and if there was one thing that excited Innocence, it was the sight of her parents actually attempting to harness their full strength. Actually daring to embrace the world that Innocence herself had grown up in...

She stepped slowly backwards, watching as the Wyrm almost doubled in size, her expression enthralled and ecstatic; on the other side of the beast, Scrivener Blooms gritted his teeth before he finally drew back from the creature with a gasp... but it wasn't because he felt drained at all. It was because he felt so strangely energized, felt a strength beyond strength ripping through his veins, felt this entire mass of mire responding to him, and the Tyrant Wyrm already becoming loyal, even if they hadn't yet even managed to fully-form the beast.

Luna stared with... yes, that was wonderment. No fear, no anger, nothing but amazement and some faint feeling of glee. That delight in Scrivener's power that she knew wasn't entirely healthy, that she knew was dangerous... and yet she reveled in it anyway, just as she did in the stallion's blood and a thousand other things she knew she shouldn't.

Scrivener Blooms looked up over the enormous Wyrm, and then he looked silently down at one Talon, flexing it slowly and feeling so.... such a whisper of power run through his body. All the things he could do... all the things he wanted to do...

He felt Luna's hesitant mental nudge, followed by faster, more excited encouragement, and Scrivener Blooms bit his lip before he flexed a claw quickly, then he leaned forwards and muttered: “Okay. Okay. No holding back.”

The stallion stepped forwards again, placing his claws against the enormous limb of the monster, concentrating on everything he could remember about the Tyrant Wyrms, thinking of everything he feared and everything he hated as he dug his claws into the creature and focused his powers. He bared his teeth, his head dropping, his body shivering as he muttered: “Tyrant Wyrms feed off pain... let's give it the tools to feed...”

Innocence grasped into the other side of the Wyrm, and she closed her eyes in delight, not trying to push and shape with her own powers but instead just feeling her father's power thrumming through the Tyrant Wyrm. Feeling what he was doing, shivering a little before he pushed slowly up along the beast's limb, stroking with delight along the limb as she whispered: “Oh, yes...”

Luna Brynhild licked her lips slowly, then she leaned forwards as Scrivener Blooms focused further, making the Tyrant Wyrm ripple before its scales began to solidify. Its shape hardened, took on more definite form as its mire-like flesh crystallized, then became armor-like scales. Its whole form shuddered as life visibly spread through the Tyrant Wyrm, and its jaws opened to exhale a thick plume of black smog as a pulse of terrible, unholy blue light pulsed through its sockets.

The creature's limbs flexed as Scrivener breathed hard in and out, a faint tremor of pain running through his body, but he disregarded it as he dug his claws deeper into the Tyrant Wyrm's limb, gritting his teeth as he focused his powers through it. The monster rippled strangely again as it thickened out slightly, becoming more solid and coherent as it shook its large head, horns pushing up from the monster's skull as its jaws gaped open again so it could roar towards the skies.

Scrivener Blooms could feel his powers filling this puppet up, shaping it, and he could feel something else inside him twisting eagerly, hungrily, wanting to do more... to truly make this the most fearsome, the most powerful, the most dangerous he could. And he could feel himself drawing seemingly-endless amounts of energy from the mire, just as clearly as he could feel Innocence's powers helping to shape and give life to this terrible monstrosity.

The Tyrant Wyrm arched its back, then grinned savagely as it finished solidifying: it had a crown of six massive horns standing out of its skull, as well as a thick, edged ridge that went from its forehead and ran down its spine to its tail. Its scales still seemed almost crystalline in places, and it lacked the usual tell-tale sign of the Tyrant Wyrm: there were no pistons, just as its overall build was more draconic, less front-heavy. It was... Scrivener almost wanted to say 'beautiful.'

He and Innocence stared over it as Luna's eyes gleamed, and then she began to lean forwards... before all three ponies stared in disbelief as the Tyrant Wyrm opened its mouth and vomited out a hail of black sludge. It didn't seem the least bit bothered by this, but then again Scrivener didn't think Tyrant Wyrms could precisely feel pain or discomfort.

He stared dumbly up at the creature, and then winced when a sentry orb shot narrowly past his head, the stallion grimacing as this began to rapidly whirl around the Wyrm, examining every inch of the creature. Then it suddenly halted and buzzed loudly, glowing in faint pulses as it transmitted information to Hecate.

There was silence for a few moments, and then there was an awkward little noise in Scrivener's mind before Twilight's voice said lamely: Hecate says she... that there are a few... problems with the design. She has a few changes that she wants to make.

“What?” Scrivener felt oddly offended as he looked up... and then he winced as the Tyrant Wyrm vomited mire again before calmly straightening. “That. I'm sure that's going to stop. Innocence, why the hell is it doing that?”

“I don't know.” Innocence said lamely, shaking her head vehemently, and then she hesitated before adding: “And well... I mean, it is missing a Kundalini...”

“How the hell do we make a Kundalini?” Scrivener couldn't help but feel some of his enthusiasm plummet: he was only a little apprehensive of trying to shape and create a Tyrant Wyrm through magic, but from what he knew about the core of the Wyrms, what powered them... “No, I mean... look, it's fine-”

The Tyrant Wyrm leaned forwards and vomited again, and Scrivener groaned and rolled his eyes... then simply stared in dumb disbelief as the Tyrant Wyrm slowly dropped its face down into the ground. Its grin had frozen, and patches over its body were starting to turn a listless gray, pulsing like infections as the stallion stared and Innocence winced, mumbling: “That's not good.”

Luna mouthed wordlessly, and then she looked up with a frown at Twilight's next words as the Lich said quickly into their minds: It needs the bone pistons, for one thing... the pistons are what keeps the mire flowing through the body-

“Aye, that is correct. A Tyrant Wyrm with those wretched spikes broken eventually becomes slow and clumsy, and loses the ability to spread its infection. But 'tis a very, very difficult weak point to utilize. One rarely has the luxury of time when dealing with a Tyrant Wyrm.” Luna muttered, shaking her head briefly. “But how will we put giant spikes of bone in the damnable thing's back now?”

Scrivener Blooms grimaced a bit, shifting uneasily before he turned his eyes towards Innocence, as the young mare said hesitantly: “Those shouldn't be hard to form... we just have to concentrate on what we know about the Wyrms, what the purpose of that anatomy is, and then it should pretty much form on its own... but the Kundalini, to power it all, that's a lot trickier...”

Scrivener grunted, glancing up as he sent a mental question to Twilight Sparkle, but after a moment the violet mare replied with a gentility that soothed his mind: No, sacrifice isn't necessary. It's going to take a little bit of effort, but we can manufacture a Kundalini... it just won't be quite as powerful as one made from... living things. And it might not be able to use the Black Verses.

“But I guess we're aiming for a different function than just pain and panic and destruction anyway.” Scrivener Blooms muttered, and then he turned his eyes towards Innocence, asking: “Do you know how to make an artificial Kundalini?”

“No. We...” Innocence had to cut herself off: both from going into too many details about how had always had plenty of souls to dedicate to whatever cause they desired, and to stop herself from saying something that could be taken as insulting or degrading... whether she thought it was true or not.

So after a moment, the polymorphed unicorn cleared her throat before she said awkwardly: “But I imagine you must at least need Blood Quartz...”

“I believe that Hecate probably has a store of it somewhere.” Luna said moodily, glancing over at her daughter before she returned her eyes to the half-dead Wyrm. Well... if such things can be said to die... “So what else will this... machine... require?”

There was silence for a moment, and then Twilight Sparkle's voice ran through their minds again in a murmur: Hecate says the corruption that'll serve as its blood has to be as pure as possible. Innocence is right: as long as you both focus on what you want created, the Tyrant Wyrm will shape itself as necessary, a lot like you shaped Abaddon, Scrivy. The only difference between this and a Simulacrum is that this creature is going to require a few extra 'parts' that will have to be added manually. Otherwise...

Scrivener Blooms nodded hesitantly, and then he and Luna both lowered their heads for a moment before the stallion said softly: “Okay. Well... the Kundalini's important, right?”

Right. But for now, it'll be okay once you put the pistons in. There's so much corruption that it'll provide all the energy the Tyrant Wyrm needs to power its pistons. It won't really be able to do much until we get the Kundalini in but... for now it should be okay. Twilight answered, and there was silence for a few moments before they both felt wordless, gentle encouragement from the Lich, a second before her presence faded out.

The earth pony grimaced a little... then winced as the Tyrant Wyrm made an ugly retching noise before spitting out gunk and goop, then giving what almost sounded like a groan as it rolled weakly against the ground. “Great. Well... let's try and fix it up, then.”

At the end of another long, long day, Sin had begun to understand maybe just a little that power wasn't everything. After a few repairs, they were able to make the Tyrant Wyrm they had created between themselves into something titanic, with scales like armor and a warship of a body that would simply smash its way through any target it set its sights on. Assuming its Kundalini would work, of course, once that was brought down.

Runes had been etched over its forelegs by Luna's powers, glowing white and shielding it from the effects of magic; massive bone pistons stood up out of its back, sparking faintly with electricity now and then, subtly moving up and down to keep the dark blood flowing through its form; they had reshaped its lumbering body to thin it out further near the back and give its front a bit more protection. To be entirely honest, Scrivener was a little disappointed they'd had to go with a more 'normal' shape for a Tyrant Wyrm, but he understood that the core had to be protected at all costs, too.

Afterward, Innocence had insisted on 'experimenting' a little: the Tyrant Wyrm was just lounging, but until they put in the Kundalini it was essentially a machine without a motor, battery, or brain. The polymorphed unicorn thought they could make other things from the mire, though, that wouldn't require a Kundalini or another power source to function, and Scrivener had grimaced a little as he'd immediately thought of Thesis, and the puppets he had been able to summon up out of the bog.

The stallion had been a little hesitant to try, but with some pleading and a few points about how they had already created a Tyrant Wyrm, Innocence had managed to convince him that at least seeing what they were capable of if they worked together. She was a little overeager, but... once they started actually working, Scrivener felt himself loosening up, and more importantly, Sin losing some of her wiles and attempted-seduction for actual attentiveness... and honest appreciation for him, he thought.

Luna was watching them with a soft smile that was perhaps a little out of place, considering what they were doing and where they were... but even if they were building strange, half-reptilian, half-pony puppets of dark mire, what brought such warmth to Luna was studying the way that Scrivener Blooms and Innocence were working so damn well together. Their powers overlapped and functioned fantastically well side-by-side: Innocence had the knowledge and practice and skill to shape and create, while Scrivener Blooms had the raw power to give them life, and the ability to interact with the mire and control whatever they shaped.

She was Daddy's little girl... a thought that made Luna's smile stretch all the wider, before she glanced up as she felt an awkward tingle of envy from Twilight Sparkle. But Luna sent reassuring thoughts in the direction of the Lich before she turned her eyes forwards again, watching as Innocence slowly shaped a third, half-Wyrm half-pony construct out of dark mire, giving it a slender body and strong limbs that ended in claws, its tail long and snapping and lizard-like, its head draconic, with a smoky mane and two large, curling ram's horns.

They were fierce... and yet somehow, they weren't threatening, as Scrivener laid a Talon on the creature's back and concentrated, the strange construct of mire rippling before black corruption turned to flesh and muscle, the creature rasping in its first breaths as blue light glowed out of its eyesockets, and then it settled calmly, lowering its head and looking back and forth almost curiously.

Innocence smiled in delight as the creature gave a rumble, then a high-pitched, almost cat-like meow before it turned towards the three constructs they had already created, all very similar: it was how long this pack of creatures would last that would really determine their worth, but right now all Sin felt was happiness and warmth and... and oh yes, power, too. But that wasn't what was giving her the most euphoria: it was the sense of belonging, of getting to work beside her father, seeing Móðer smiling at them and hearing her encouragements... and feeling like she was making progress in helping open up her parents' eyes to the truth of the world around them. That it was their power that would determine how they lived their lives: that it was power that gave them the right to do things like this, up to and including creating their own living servants.

Scrivener, on the other hoof, kept looking at the constructs and smiling hesitantly: he... he loved the power, he did. He was enthralled by his own strength, and having Innocence here working beside him, looking up at him so eagerly... feeling Luna's fascination, and the faintest tickle of envy from Twilight Sparkle, but also tremendous pride... it was all swirling together into a feeling he never wanted to lose.

But again and again, he kept reassuring himself that these strange creatures they had made together, they weren't real. They were only puppets: he wasn't about to allow himself to create actual life. But constructs, like golems... that couldn't really feel anything, that didn't actually possess emotions... that was okay, right?

Yet he nervously looked up all the same, studying the four creatures they had made: were they really devoid of emotion? They seemed to be curious about each other, after all, and were naturally grouping themselves together... and the way they kept looking around...

“It's the life of the mire. The essence from the mire makes them seem more real than they are, that's all... and your own presence gives them more strength, I'm sure. That's how powerful you are, Daddy.” Innocence said softly, as if she had read his mind, and Scrivener gave his daughter an uncomfortable look: that last part of what she'd said... “Come on, let's get your mind off things. Why don't we try and make something else? Something bigger and better, or... maybe a special servant for you and Móðer... but they're just toys, Daddy. Constructs. Golems. That's all. Besides, if you create them... you have every right to do anything you please to them. They're not real, after all: only puppets, shadows that you've breathed your powers into, extensions of... yourself.”

Scrivener shifted uneasily, looking over at Luna, and the sapphire mare lost some of her own enjoyment as she couldn't help but look warily at their daughter. Fortunately, however, they were interrupted by a clanging sound from above, before Twilight Sparkle said clearly into their minds: Watch out, Hecate's coming down with the Kundalini.

“Seriously?” Scrivener looked up in surprise, then he frowned a little and asked uneasily: “Wait, how long have we been down here? I... I guess I lost track of the time...”

Scrivener turned an awkward look to Luna, who shrugged a little, feeling surprised herself... and blushing ever so slightly as she reached up and silently touched her own features, realizing how exhilarated she was feeling, that there was an extra pulse of strength running through her body... that maybe, part of feeling so free and wonderful and simply strong was coming from the fact that she had been standing in potent corruption for quite a long time now.

She shook herself hurriedly out, then cleared her throat... before both she and Scrivener stared dumbly upwards at Twilight's answer, then repeated the Lich out loud in the same disbelieving tone: “Seven hours?”

They both felt Twilight's faint smile, and the odd tingle that ran through their minds, tinged with emotions that told them Twilight herself hadn't really been aware it had been that long either. But before Scrivener or Luna could really say anything, there was a loud, clear rumbling from above that drew the attention of all three ponies, and even Innocence's eyes widened at what she saw.

Hecate was cradling an enormous sphere that looked like an immense red eye, differently-colored gemstone substructures sticking out of it here and there alongside plates of metal and other things that none of them really didn't understand. Seeing Hecate with a piece of technology that looked both alien and terrifying was nothing special: what really drew their attention was the fact that Hecate was slowly lowering herself through the air, jets of what looked like blue light emanating from both hooves as her horn glowed brightly to keep herself stabilized as she lowered almost gently through the air, like a leaf gently gliding down from a tree... Yes. A ten-ton leaf made out of hatred, anger, and that nasty instinct little foals have that makes them want to pull the wings off bugs just to see what happens.

The boosters on Hecate's hooves shut off once she was only a few feet above the ground, and she dropped to the mire with a loud clank, leaving deep prints in the soft corruption. Then, without further ado, she simply flung the core down into the poison, and the red, strange construct pulsed powerfully once, Scrivener Blooms wincing a bit as the goddess said contemptibly: “Here. Your heart of scavenged parts. So it's perfectly fine to use corpses for your own benefit, but not to make them?”

“Please don't be a bitch today.” Scrivener mumbled, and Hecate rolled her eyes before the stallion looked hesitantly over at Luna. “Go ahead and pick that up and... well, for some reason I think you should try and charge it a little with your magic. Innocence, let's open up the chest of the Wyrm.”

“It needs a classification.” Hecate approached the Tyrant Wyrm, and Scrivener did his best to ignore her as Luna grumbled and picked up the red core with telekinesis. “Body designed for quick movement, with heavier shielding over the construct's front... larger, Grand Vizier-styled crown of horns for battering, but it's only a little bigger than a Dictator, although likely in a lower weight category because of the thinning of the stomach region... and I see you've decided to give it eight bone pistons instead of six.”

Scrivener ignored Hecate completely as he reached up to touch the Tyrant Wyrm's chest, feeling a little awkward with the way the Wyrm was gazing down at him, studying him intently, but otherwise not moving or reacting even as the scales of its chest began to transform back into sludge to open the path into its chest cavity. Innocence couldn't help but turn a smile towards Hecate, however, saying a little too eagerly: “We wanted to design it for better acceleration and agility... I mean, I recognize that it would be vulnerable to attacks from the flanks in particular, but-”

Hecate only held up a claw irritably, saying moodily: “Please don't try and explain machine structure to me when I've been building them for longer than you or your parents have been alive. And what are those things? Myrkrfrekkr? No, their design is a little different...”

Scrivener stepped back from the Tyrant Wyrm with a grimace towards Hecate as Luna strode forwards, carrying the red core and grimacing a little: it was pulsing with her energies, and she didn't even have to try and charge it. All she had to do was grasp it firmly with her telekinesis, and it felt like it was eagerly drawing her energies in... “They are not toys like Thesis created, if that is what thou thinks. His beasts were much uglier and less stable as I recall, besides.”

“Yes, and all the same they still made a mess of your pretty little town, didn't they?” asked Hecate rudely, and Luna and Scrivener both glared at the goddess, but she only smiled contemptibly and crossed her arms. “Don't think you're both so superior, Brynhild. Over the course of all the time you've wasted down here playing in the mud, you should have been able to do more than create one Tyrant Wyrm and a few pathetic little puppies.”

The mire beasts growled at Hecate, perhaps reflecting Scrivener and Luna's emotions, perhaps as a reaction to the derision the goddess was treating them with, but Hecate seemed unperturbed... although perhaps a little surprised that they actually reacted to her. Scrivener, meanwhile, only grimaced and shook his head, looking moodily over at Luna and muttering: “You might as well go ahead and plug the core in. We'll see what happens and then... get out of here.”

“And here I thought that this garbage dump suited you both well. Trash, converted from being worthless into something that can at least serve as the raw materials for greater creations.” Hecate said ironically, and then she tilted her head slightly and added moodily: “Although I suppose you can burn most garbage, too.”

Luna and Scrivener both forced themselves to breathe: the mire was affecting their emotions, both making them more aggressive and causing Hecate's taunts to carry more weight than they should have, and it made it hard for both ponies to resist. But all the same, they turned their attention back to the Tyrant Wyrm that was still waiting patiently, Luna shoving the core forcefully into the hole in the creature's chest with telekinesis before both she and Scrivener leaned up and pushed it the rest of the way in, both wincing as they felt the blood quartz core eagerly trying to siphon out some of their energies, while at the same time making them both feel like they were on fire with emotion...

And then the Tyrant Wyrm twitched before it almost fell forwards, its body shivering as Scrivener and Luna hurriedly backpedaled. The wound in its chest flexed, then rapidly sealed closed with black poison that transformed into dark scales before the creature arched its back and roared to the skies, echoing up the tunnel and making the mire around them vibrate violently.

Hecate watched intently as the Tyrant Wyrm shuddered, then rasped before it slowly turned its gaze towards Scrivener Blooms as power visibly pulsed through its body. It emanated strength and raw, animal hunger as its eyes locked on the stallion, who looked back up at this beast uneasily... and then the Tyrant Wyrm simply lowered its head as it grinned, its eyes flashing as it rasped in the Wyrm's dark language: “Father. We have awoken. And we live to serve.

“Hi. Uh. Kid.” Scrivener Blooms said awkwardly, shivering a little as he felt the words tingle through his mind strangely. And Luna grimaced a little herself: the words made her horn reverberate strangely, made magic sizzle around her... but not in an entirely unpleasant sense. In fact, looking up over this monster before her... oh, there was amazement, and a little disbelief, and even some worry about what might happen in the future, but no fear at all. She simply instinctively knew that no matter what else happened... this creature before them would never be able to hurt her.

The Tyrant Wyrm chuckled, then drew its eyes slowly around the area before its gaze locked on Hecate, and it asked almost pleasantly: “Shall we kill her, Father? She angers you.

“Uh... no. That's... no. That's not necessary.” Scrivener winced a bit, looking over his shoulder at Hecate, who was only scowling up at the Tyrant Wyrm. The Wyrm tilted its head almost as if curious, and Scrivener slowly looked back up at the creature as he shifted uncomfortably on the spot before attempting to explain: “You can't... just... uh... get rid of people because they might be a little mean to you sometimes. I mean, Hecate kind of... helped you. Come to life.”

So we should treat her as Mother?” asked the Wyrm, and Scrivener and Luna both stared before the sapphire mare giggled stupidly, covering her mouth with a hoof too late as Scrivener shot her a horrible look.

Hecate, meanwhile, only reached up to slowly rub at her temple with one metal claw, looking pained before she suddenly looked up and said in a disgusted voice, in the same dark language of the Wyrms: “No, you infantile moron, I am not your 'mother.' I am no one's mother. I am, however, a commander, and I order you to enter hibernation. Your programming needs adjusting.

I do not understand.” the Wyrm replied, shaking its head before it turned its attention towards Scrivener Blooms. It studied him with interest, then turned its eyes to Luna with equal curiosity... and finally, drew its gaze to Innocence, who was staring worriedly up at the massive Wyrm, suddenly very much... uneasy, almost afraid. “You are all our family, are you not?

“What?” Hecate asked disbelievingly, and then she snarled over at Scrivener Blooms, who couldn't help but wince away from the wrath burning in the goddess' eyes. “You idiots! What have you done? I... Tyrant Wyrm, what is your function?”

The Tyrant Wyrm seemed to consider this question for a moment, and then it simply shrugged. Hecate's eye twitched, continuing to look frustrated, and Scrivener and Luna traded awkward looks before the stallion glanced up and asked almost desperately: “What are your instincts? Are you a destroyer, or... what are you?”

I am Tyrant Wyrm. Our job is to destroy, to infect, to spread darkness.” The Tyrant Wyrm stopped, then it looked down and said slowly: “But not alone. Never alone. The Night is a grand empire... we must spread its power and its glory. We know that we exist to destroy the Light: but the reason we exist is to protect. We are a new breed, that shall put... friend and family first.

“What have you morons done? You've replaced the Tyrant Wyrm's killing instincts with your idiotic code of honor!” Hecate snapped, and Scrivener and Luna only traded stupefied looks before the goddess suddenly whirled on Innocence, the polymorphed unicorn wincing away as Hecate strode towards her and growled: “I could expect nothing less from these morons, but you I thought had some potential, some kind of value... that you weren't as stupid or as weak as they are. And you've instead helped them turn this beautiful, world-destroying weapon into a cuddly, useless teddy bear!”

Hecate reached out and seized Innocence's horn, jerking her head back and forth, and the young mare cried out as both Luna and Scrivener snarled. Hecate ignored them completely, however, as she lifted Innocence off the ground by her bladed horn before electricity zapped down her arm, and Innocence squealed in terror more than pain as her polymorph was shredded, returning to her half-scaled, half-pony body as she cried out: “S-Stop it, stop it, it was a mistake! I didn't think it would take on Daddy's... y-you're hurting me!”

“And I'll hurt you more.” Hecate said coldly, and without looking, she snapped a hand to the side and blasted Luna backwards with telekinesis before the sapphire mare could collide with her, instead knocking the winged unicorn into Scrivener and sending them both flat as the goddess said disgustedly: “If you won't spank your worthless daughter, I will, Luna Brynhild, and-”

Then the Tyrant Wyrm calmly reached a large claw forwards and seized Hecate by the head, and the goddess had a moment to blink in surprise before it yanked firmly upwards, metal rending and electricity sparking violently around the bottom of her neck cap. She mouthed wordlessly and uselessly for a second, and then the Tyrant Wyrm simply flung the head upwards and caught it in its jaws, rolling the head back into its maw and then licking its muzzle slowly.

Scrivener and Luna both gaped up at the Tyrant Wyrm, and there was silence for a few moments before both ponies slowly looked towards Innocence. She was still hanging from Hecate's metal claw, the mechanical body inert and sparking faintly around the broken collar, her expression just as amazed and shocked as her parents' own.

Finally, the stallion looked up and said awkwardly: “Uh... you should spit that out. You... you don't know where it's been.”

The Tyrant Wyrm looked down calmly at Scrivener Blooms, and then it leaned down and loudly spat out Hecate's head, sending it flying down to bounce several times through the black mire before she ended up rolling slowly to a halt beside one of the steel hooves of her own body. The goddess had at least managed to shield herself inside a bubble of energy, but she still looked wet and frazzled, electric mane sparking and cables stuck to her own muzzle and face as she muttered: “Fantastic.”

The Tyrant Wyrm growled down at her, and Scrivener couldn't help but give an awkward little laugh before he shook his head slowly, then said wryly: “I guess that he's not so useless after all, huh?”

“Shut up.” Hecate growled from her safe bubble, and then she shook herself briefly before the bubble vanished, and the head awkwardly floated up into the air as her horn glowed brightly beneath its metallic casing, Hecate muttering: “I'll have to make a pressure adjustment... I knew that I should have accounted for direct upwards pull in the designs...”

“Aye, thou art quite the carrot, after all.” Luna remarked wryly, and Hecate tossed a glower over at Luna as she eerily floated up to shoulder-level with her armor, while Innocence winced and hurriedly scrambled to yank herself free from the claw that was keeping her suspended, half-falling into the muck as the sapphire mare continued sourly: “Perhaps now, though, thou won't go calling us all 'weak' merely because of our affiliations and protectiveness of our family. If thou had a family, perhaps thou would better understand the strength that it can bring thee.”

Hecate snorted in disgust at this, and then she turned around and carefully lowered herself down into the broken base: but the moment her cap touched into the slot in the neck, the construct twitched before the arms quickly rose to either side, yanking broken pieces of metal collar away before firmly grasping either side of Hecate's features and shoving downwards, making her grimace as there was another spark of electricity.

Her head hung slightly limp, and without the protective collar it was clear to see where flesh joined the top of the metal cap, but otherwise it looked like the suit was still functional. All the same, Luna grinned wryly as the goddess finally muttered: “I really don't care what you consider strength or weakness, because either way I still consider you to be stupid and pathetic.”

All the same, Hecate tossed a moody, measuring look towards the Tyrant Wyrm, and Luna smiled warmly... but then something caught her eye. The way Innocence was looking at Hecate, and the way that Hecate was being almost... careful to keep her side to Innocence, to not look at her, like that would give some great game away...

A strange thought came to mind, and Luna softened as Scrivener frowned, then looked slowly between Hecate and the strange Tyrant Wyrm they had created. It was an insane idea, and yet Hecate was never to be underestimated... although if Luna was right, then Hecate might actually have a heart. A tiny heart, and who knew how much of it would be simply to serve some other overcomplicated, insane purpose... but at the same time, Scrivener somehow suspected there was no scheme beyond Hecate's imagining.

And then Hecate scowled as she turned her eyes towards them both, saying contemptibly: “It's time for us to leave. We'll create a large scale gateway that will teleport us outside of town. Invite the Lich down so she can play in the mud with the rest of you while I tell you what runes to place, and where. As long as you draw energy from the mire to further power the runes, we should be able to get ourselves as well as your pathetic mud-toys out of here. Now let's go.”

Scrivener Blooms and Luna Brynhild traded faint smiles as Innocence nodded slowly but looked warily at Hecate. The Tyrant Wyrm only rumbled and sat back as the four mire beasts prowled nervously forwards, automatically sitting around the Wyrm, and for a moment this drew Innocence's attention strangely... and for a brief moment, a smile quirked at Hecate's mouth as she hoped that the young mare had gotten the message. As much as she hated to admit it... anyone fighting for a cause was always stronger than someone fighting for no reason at all.

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