• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,650 Views, 1,250 Comments

Courage - scion



Evil has come to the Everfree and Ponyville. The Elements must stand against it... but they will not be alone. The mysterious blue-eyed wolf will aid-or hamper- their efforts to bring harmony back to Equestria.

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Trouble

Deep within the dark, smoky caves that made up his home, Fido pondered the new turn his life had taken.

Pondering wasn’t something he did often, or with any kind of depth- indeed, he was not particularly smart, not compared to a pony. Nevertheless, sometimes events happened that forced an individual to think as deeply as they could upon this issue. This was one such time.

The Diamond Dogs knew something was going to happen before it had actually happened. They could smell it in the air around their home; something bad was coming. Rover, the Alpha, had agreed, and had drawn back all the pups and mothers to the deepest caverns, guarded by the fiercest and most well-armored dogs they had. The other dogs had ceased their digging and taken up arms, moving in small packs as they began to patrol their homes. All the entrances and exits were guarded; whatever the bad thing was, it would not get into their pack’s home without a fight.

Then, they had learned that no amount of armor could protect them from the badness. From the pony-magic.

The pack scattered like frightened sheep in the strange world they found themselves in, so much like their home, yet not. They could see the others of the pack, hear them… but there was no smell! With no smell, dogs of all ages had panicked; mothers had been unable to find their pups, guards had been unable to find their charges, dogs in the tunnels had gotten lost. It had been chaos.

When the strange magic had lifted, the dogs began gathering again. The pack looked for leadership. They had found Fido and Spot first.

Then Rover had come.

He was… different. Bigger than Fido now, much bigger, with arms like trees and claws that could scratch granite. He wore a black jacket made from leather and decorated with glowing gems that pulsed slowly with what even Fido could see was power. His eyes glowed a pale yellow, preventing dogs from making eye contact- not that any would dare do so. The dogs had immediately submitted before their Alpha. Fido had submitted, even though he could smell the badness coming from him.

Rover then did wondrous things. He tamed the Quarray Eels, claiming to use magic to subdue them and make them loyal servants- and they were, as far as Fido could tell. They would not attack a dog even when attacked themselves, as a particularly jumpy guard found to his relief.

When this was done, he told the pack that he could use his magic to make the guard dogs stronger. All submitted before their Alpha. All rose stronger than before, their armor new and intimidating, smelling like Rover, their eyes glowing just as Rover’s now did... Fido was beginning to believe that maybe what they were smelling on the Alpha was not badness, but greatness.

Now… now Rover had called for Fido and Spot to meet him alone. Passing a pair of the new guard dogs, they entered the Horde chamber, where the wealth of their pack was buried in a single, secure location. Rover sat upon a new throne, made entirely of precious gemstones fused together into a single, grand throne. A show of the wealth, made from the new magic power of the Alpha. Rover surveyed the two dogs with his burning eyes.

“Have made Mudclaw territory safe. Have made Mudclaw dogs strong. But Mudclaw pack still weak,” Rover spat. Beside Fido, Spot trembled, fearing the anger of their Alpha. Fido could practically smell it. It worried Fido- Spot was smarter; if he was afraid, maybe Fido should be too? But he should not be afraid of Alpha. Alpha looks after his pack. What Rover did was good for the pack.

Rover got up from his throne, prowling around the gem throne. Even on all fours, he was bigger than Fido now. Strong. Strong leader for a strong pack.

“Gems make power. Must find more gems. But dogs no good at finding gems. No smell, no find. But pony… pony find gems easy.”

Rover fixed them with a stare.

“Take dogs. Go and take ponies. Many as you can. Find gem pony, whiny pony. Bring here!” Rover commanded.

Both dogs nodded and left, their tails low in the presence of their superior. Passing the guards, Spot looked around carefully.

“Bad thing still here,” he whispered. “Growing. Alpha has bad, now guards have bad.”

“Not bad,” Fido argued. “Rover make Quarray Eels defend pups. Rover make guard dogs stronger. Maybe is not bad.”

The smaller bulldog shook his head. “This not good.”

---

Twilight woke slowly, gradually fading into consciousness. She was loath to leave her bed, a soft and warm cocoon that could not have possibly been more comfortable if it had been made from clouds. Still, it was time to get up. She had research to do! Well, after breakfast… make that lunch. What exactly was the time?

Twilight cracked her eyes open enough to see the alarm clock on her bed stand. It read 3:47. In the afternoon. She groaned.

She’d set it for noon! She had to get research done! There were so many leads to chase down, so many possibilities. She needed to start narrowing her research, but that couldn’t happen until she had some sort of lead on what might be going on! She needed to start research on wolves that weren’t made from wood-

Twilight shook her head, and mentally filed that thought away to be completed later. Stick to the checklist. The only way to achieve harmony was to be organized, to be prepared for the day. Fortunately, she was prepared. She already had a checklist written for this general situation.

Throwing her covers off, Twilight rolled off the bed as her magic opened one of her bed stand drawers, taking out a rolled up parchment. She unfurled it and began reading the precise script, stopping at the first tick box.

Mid-Afternoon Wake-Up Checklist

1. Check clock

Twilight put a check next to that box, and then scanned to the next.

2. Hygiene (See Bathroom Checklist v2)

For the next twenty minutes, Twilight proceeded to get ready for the day, ticking off tasks on her various checklists and sub-checklists. By the time she reached the end, she was ready for the day… or at least, what was left of it. Scanning a practiced eye over the checklist one last time, Twilight nodded in satisfaction before magically wiping the checklist clean of checkmarks and replacing it in her bed stand drawer. Twilight Sparkle, student of Princess Celestia, Librarian of Ponyville, was ready.

She opened the door from her room and trotted down the stairs, frowning as she did so. Books were still piled everywhere on the floor, offending both her honor as a Librarian and her personal sensibilities. Still, after the mess that had been made during the Event, as she had taken to calling it, it was not a surprise that it had not been cleaned up yet. Especially since she was focusing more on looking for specific books rather than putting them back on their proper shelves.

Twilight winced at that. Poor Spike. She made a mental note to get him some nice, juicy gems at some point, and have Pinkie bake them into a cake. He was working hard to put the library back into some semblance of order while she researched; he had moved most of the furniture back to their original positions yesterday by himself. The poor guy had been so tuckered out he had gone to bed nearly an hour earlier than normal, and had barely woken up when she got back from Applejack’s farm. Though he wasn’t there now- where was he?

Twilight shook her head and opened the door. Probably off with Rarity doing Celestia knows wha-

Twilight stared in stunned amazement as Carrot Top bounded by, rope around her muzzle in a makeshift reins, bucking desperately, with a Diamond Dog with eerie yellow eyes riding on her back.

Twilight closed the door. The sounds of the screams faded out immediately, the result of a Silence is Golden spell she had placed upon the Library some time ago. All the windows were closed, completing the spell and not allowing sound in.

Twilight banged her head against the door. Hard. Then she opened it again.

The screams of hysteria returned with a vengeance. Carrot Top was now bucking the other way down the street, with the Diamond Dog refusing to be thrown off.

Twilight let out a long-suffering sigh. Then, charging her horn, she let out a blast of energy at the Diamond Dog riding Carrot Top. It connected square in the face, blasting the dog off the bucking pony.

Carrot Top paused only to get the constricting rope off her muzzle before running screaming into the nearest house and slamming the door.

Twilight sighed again. Looks like it was up to her and her friends. Again.

---

Ponyville was in chaos. Diamond Dogs had invaded the town, taking whomever they could get in a small but steady stream heading into the Everfree forest.

Still, the ponies were not making it easy; while many ponies had never actually bucked professionally, like Applejack, they could all do a very good impression of it when given the proper motivation. Like, say, a Diamond Dog landing on their back and throwing reins around their muzzle. Some, of course, failed to get away, and were prodded or dragged off. Others succeeded in throwing off their unwanted mounts, and invariably found their way into the nearest house, where they promptly locked themselves in.

Some, however, chose to stand and fight.

Pinkie Pie flung the cherry merengue pie with unerring precision. It sailed through the air before striking a guard dog in the side of the head. The glowing eyes went cross-eyed as the dog toppled over like a tree in the forest. The ground shook when he hit, his tongue lolling stupidly from his mouth as cherry juice began to dribble down the side of his head and onto the ground.

“BOOM, headshot!” Pinkie cheered, before ducking behind the overturned table that was serving as her cover. The thick wood tables, set up outside of Sugarcube Corner, provided excellent cover

Beside her, Caramel chucked a peach cobbler at a dog who was trying to hold on to a bucking pony. While not as precise as Pinkie’s throw, the cobbler nonetheless knocked the dog off-balance enough to be bucked off. Another recruit swelled the ranks of the defense force.

A dog tried charging in, growling like a feral monster, but was met with no less than three different pastries, one thrown at near supersonic speed by a unicorn, and went down hard. Off on the left flank, a grey pegasus mare with straw blonde hair was pelting flankers with all different varieties of muffins (and having some snacks along the way).

Growling, three dogs charged at once- only to be lifted off their feet and bashed into each other by a pink aura of magic. The dogs went down in a heap of armor and limbs as Twilight galloped past them, a pair of dogs hot on her heels. They didn’t last long- a chocolate cake and a cheesecake took them down as Twilight approached the fortress.

“Hiya, Twilight!” Pinkie said enthusiastically.

“Pinkie, what’s going on?” Twilight asked, ducking low behind the table.

“The Diamond Dogs are attacking! Can’t you see them?” Pinkie replied. She peeked over cover just long enough to throw another pie with unerring accuracy.

“No, I mean why are they attacking?” Twilight asked. Pinkie shrugged.

“I dunno. Maybe it’s ‘Kidnap a Pony Day?’”

Twilight facehooved.

“Pinkie, you knew all about the wolf and what was going on before, and you have your Pinkie Sense and…” Twilight was interrupted by a pink hoof in her mouth. Pinkie smiled a reassuring smile at her good friend.

“Twilight, you silly pony. I may be Pinkie, but that doesn’t mean I know everything. I mean, when I get a twitchy tail, I don’t know WHAT is falling, I just know something is going to fall. I mean, I don’t even know Wolfy’s name! Just that he beat up some meanie insects for us,” Pinkie said patiently.

Her grin became less comforting and more mischievous. “And how am I going to throw him a ‘Thanks for saving us from the Twilight Realm’ party if I don’t know his name? I mean, what am I going to put on his cake?”

Pinkie grabbed a pie while Twilight facehooved. She threw it with precision and watched it send another Diamond Dog to the ground, out for the count.

“Pinkie, could you PLEASE stop calling it that?” Twilight whimpered. “I swear whatever happened had nothing to do with me! I don’t want the town to start thinking I had anything to do with what happened!”

“Hmmm… okay! How about ‘Shadow Realm’?”

“Better,” Twilight agreed. “But why ‘realm’?”

“Realm makes it sound like we’re in an adventure! Now c’mon! We need to send these dogs packing!”

Pinkie grabbed a pie and offered it to Twilight. Twilight merely grinned, and levitated six others from the pile of pastries that served as ammunition. Peeking over the barricade, Twilight let them fly.

---

“I think they’re retreating, everypony!”

A ragged cheer went up from the defenders. For more than an hour, they had held their own, unable to advance but staving off attack from the dogs. Now, though, the dogs were clearly retreating, running towards the forest. They had held out. They had won! As the cheer died down, Twilight Sparkle took charge.

“Alright, everypony. We need to make sure everypony’s okay. Split up into twos, one pony knocks on doors, the other ties up any dogs they see,” Twilight told everypony. “Everypony meet in front of the mayor’s office in thirty minutes!”

“TWILIGHT!” came a small yet masculine scream. As the ponies began to split up, Twilight turned towards the voice. She recognized it immediately.

“Spike!” she called out. He grabbed her by the hoof and started pulling, though she didn’t know why.

“Twilight, they took Rarity!”

Rarity.

It hit Twilight like a kick to the gut. She hadn’t actually seen any ponies get successfully dragged away, even though that is what the dogs had been trying to do. Somewhere, deep in her mind, she had told herself that nopony had been taken, that the worst they would have to deal with were some minor sprains and injuries from trying to buck off the dogs. That everything was going to be fine.

But now… Rarity…

Beside Twilight, Pinkie’s mane deflated, leaving it stringy and flat. One of their friends… was… taken…

“Come on Twi! We gotta save her!” Spike insisted as he pulled furiously on one foreleg. Magic wrapped around him, lifting him into the air and onto Twilight’s back.

“We will Spike. We WILL save Rarity!” Twilight swore. Beside her, Pinkie nodded in determination, her mane inflating back out.

“Well what are we waiting for?!” Spike asked. Twilight shook her head and reared into the air.

“Nothing! Come on Pinkie, let’s get the rest of the girls!”

---

Feelings ran high at the meeting in front of the town hall. Many had wet eyes, if they were not openly crying or shaking with rage. Mayor Mare was absent, kidnapped from her home by the dogs. And she was not alone.

A quarter of the town was unaccounted for, dragged or ridden off by the dogs. And the girls had not been unaffected.

Rainbow was practically shaking with rage- Scootaloo, her number one fan, was missing, presumed ponynapped. Sweetie, already distraught with the news of her elder sister, was practically catatonic.

Beside her, Applebloom sniffled and tried to hold back tears- Big Macintosh, escorting her to safety, had put up a good fight, but when the odds turned six on one, he had told her to run and not look back. She hadn’t seen her elder brother since. Applejack paced restlessly, an angry scowl on her features- she was no doubt ready to enter the forest alone to bring her brother back.

Behind them, Fluttershy whimpered, wondering exactly what to do. She had been saved, for while the diamond dogs had indeed attempted to get at her, none of them had been willing to brave the manticore that defended her.

Pinkie was unusually quiet and contemplative. The absence of so many ponies she had gotten to know weighed heavily upon her mind.

Rarity was absent, a noticeable hole in the circle of friends.

Twilight sighed as they finished the census. They looked to her to lead; the whole town did, in the absence of a higher authority. Her organizational skills and critical thinking last Winter Wrap-Up had seen to that. And while Twilight had no official authority or obligation, she had nevertheless had taken leadership of the town, just as she had earlier at Sugarcube Corner.

“Spike,” she called out. Spike jumped from his sitting place and headed for her.

“Spike, I need you to send these two scrolls to the Princess,” she said, levitating him the documents.

One was a census of the town. A copy of the list she had just finished seconds ago, it showed exactly how many were missing.

The second was a plea for help.

But help wouldn’t come in time. She had to rely upon herself and her friends if they were going to get Rarity, and the rest of the townsfolk, back. She turned to her friends.

“Alright, girls. I’ve told everyone to go home and lock their doors, but we need to go help Rarity and save the others who were taken,” Twilight said.

“Darn right,” Applejack snorted angrily.

“Those dogs won’t get away with this,” Rainbow agreed vehemently.

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go save Rarity!” Spike chimed in. Five pairs of eyes turned to him. “What?”

“Spike… you’re not coming,” Twilight told him, a pained look on her face. Spike’s hopes fell.

“But… but Twilight,” he protested weakly.

“No buts, Spike. We need someone to tell whoever Celestia sends where we’ve gone. I know you want to go rescue Rarity, but we need you here,” she pleaded. Getting down on her knees, Twilight looked her Number 1 Assistant in the eyes. “Please. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Spike hung his head. “Okay.” One word conveyed his depression and defeat. Twilight made a mental note to make it up to him.

Twilight took a deep breath, then got back to her hooves.

It was time to go get Rarity.

---

“This dirt is murder on my hooficure! I’m tired! I’m hungry! I want to go home! This cave smells funny!”

The whiny pony had not stopped her whining since Fido had taken her. It was an endless stream of high-pitched verbal assault that grated on his ears in ways that no pony could understand.

But Fido endured it. The Alpha wanted the pony alive. So Fido continued to lead the whiny pony deeper into the caves.

He passed a pair of guards and entered the horde room with the pony still grating upon his ears. The Alpha was not there.

Fido cringed as he covered his ears. Whiny-pony was still whining. He wasn’t certain how much more he could take…

“Gem pony still whiny,” came the Alpha’s voice from behind them. The pony whirled.

“I say, what most un… sanitary… conditions…” the pony trailed off, wide eyed. Rover, already on all fours, had to lay flat on his stomach to even try to make it to eye level with the pony.

“Pony will find gems for Diamond Dogs,” he growled. “Pony will dig gems for diamond dogs. Pony will not complain.”

“I… I really must protest this treatment! I am a lady and-“

The Alpha growled, lips pulling back to reveal razor sharp teeth.

“Pony will not complain. Pony who complains is useless to dogs. Useless ponies are… meat.”

The whiny pony gulped. She opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it when Rover idly lifted a claw to pick at his teeth. Her mouth closed and she did not utter a peep.

“Good pony.”

Author's Note: