• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 8,207 Views, 346 Comments

Alienation - Longtooth

I am not Twilight Sparkle. We share one body, one past, but not our souls. I do not know why I am here, or why I have done these terrible things. This is my story.

  • ...

First Strike

Teleporting can be very disorienting for those who aren't used to it, and I used that fact to my advantage as we appeared a few feet above the flat roof of The Ranch. I twisted, controlling our short fall so that I was on top when we hit, and I made no effort to land lightly. The breath was forced out of Shady Deal in a wheezing grunt. His eyes narrowed at me, glistening with magic.

"You have bad taste in bedrooms," he growled.

"I don't intend to sleep here," I replied. "Black crystal."

"What of it?"

"I want to know where it comes from."

He laughed. "Sure you do. Payment first, or if you really want it, we can talk during."

The night air was cool and there was a breeze that ruffled his feathers and tugged at my mane. The scent of sex and sweat and power was clearing, and my head along with it. The black crystal-imparted magic might have still been having an effect on me, but I was more willing to resist it now. "Just talk," I said.

His expression twisted into anger. "You think you can deny me!" he hissed, his voice taking on that oddly quiet quality I had seen from the addicts before. He threw me off him, easily able to overcome my weight. I hit the roof in a roll, coming to my hooves and facing him as he flipped upright and charged me. I ducked to the side, but wasn't nearly fast enough to dodge a pegasus, so he clipped me with a striking hoof. It hit the jacket, the leather absorbing the force of the blow and keeping it from doing more than bruising damage. Still, I tumbled to my side, and he was on me in an instant.

"You cannot deny me," he snapped, kicking me in the side. Again, the leather softened the blow, but I still felt like I was going to puke as I curled up around the injury. Once again I had been caught off guard by the sudden violence of a black crystal user. "I will take what I want! I will throw you to my hooves and make you lick the dirt from them, begging me to let you do it!" He punctuated the rant with a few more kicks. I was charging up my magic to retaliate, but I was brought up short by the pain and not really knowing how I planned to fight back. I couldn't just teleport him away, not if I wanted information, and I wasn't completely sure that my telekinesis could hold him still so long as he had black crystal magic running through his system.

I was so busy covering my vitals and thinking about how to deal with this that I missed the fact that the attacks had stopped for a few long seconds. When I finally did realize it, I sneaked a look at Shady Deal. He was looking at me with a stricken expression, like somepony had told him his dog had just died. His eyes were clear, no trailing shadows in them. "I... I," he stuttered out, then without completing the thought he launched himself from the roof and into the night sky.

This was not a good thing. I cursed and leapt to my hooves, following after him. Shady Deal was no Rainbow Dash, and the leather harness he was wearing actually interfered with his flight, slowing him down. Still, he was a pegasus on the wing and I was a unicorn stumbling across a rooftop, so I clearly wasn't going to catch him that way.

I teleported ahead of him, trying to cut him off, but he avoided me, swerving and dodging as I tried the same tactic a few more times. He didn't go too far up, staying close to the rooftops, which was good because I wouldn't have been able to follow him if he had. Of course, it was probably a good move for him as well, since going up would also guarantee that he'd be spotted. As high on black crystal as he was, he couldn't afford to be stopped by the Guard.

He ducked into the alleys, forcing him to slow down even more, but also making it harder for me to follow his movements. I kept up as best I could with a series of short-range teleports that kept me close enough to spot what turns he was taking. It was a losing proposition for me, though. I would run out of energy for my magic long before he got too tired of flying, and all the time he would be taking any and all opportunities to lose me. I needed to change my strategy. I needed to end his ability to move through the air.

A solution presented itself in the washing lines that were strung between buildings, giving ponies living in them a place to hang clothes and towels to dry. I switched from teleporting to running and leaping between buildings. It wasn't as easy as it may sometimes seem in the movies. Rooftops are not exactly designed with safe footing in mind. Hooves don't grip very well, either, making it a matter of keeping my balance and using my magic to compensate every time I slipped so that I didn't fall or otherwise lose all my momentum. As I went I grabbed the clotheslines that I passed, tearing them from their mountings and weaving them together into a net. By the time I had one of sufficient strength, I was only barely keeping shady in sight. With a burst of energy I teleported above him, taking the improvised net with me, and flung it on him.

His wings tangled immediately and he dropped into the alley he had been skimming through. He hit the ground with a bone-jarring thud, tumbling end over end. That roll turned out to be a way for him to minimize the impact of his unplanned landing, because he was back on his hooves the moment he came to a stop, pulling the net away. I teleported into the alley and rushed at him, trying to stop him from escaping. I wasn't fast enough, and he was jumping back into the air before I was able to reach him.

As frustrated as I was with the chase, the next move I made was only natural, and quite effective. I grabbed a garbage can that was sitting in the alley and bludgeoned him with it. He let out a startled cry, and dropped back to the ground. I didn't let him get up again, smacking him twice more to keep him down.

I trotted up to his prone and moaning body, the thoroughly crushed metal can held threateningly above him. When I reached him, I saw that he was bleeding from where a sharp edge had caught him.

"Bitch!" he hissed, glaring at me as I approached. "I will end you for that! I will..." he trailed off and a change came over him. He shivered, as if he had been caught in a sudden icy breeze, and in the wake of his trembling his entire demeanor changed. His eyes widened with fear and he shrank away from me, cowering. "I'm sorry," he whined. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hit you, I swear I didn't mean to."

I didn't know exactly how to respond to such a rapid shift in emotion, so I may have seemed quite cold to anypony who might have been watching, though none were at this point. "Black crystal," I said. "Tell me where it comes from."

"It, it came out of the Crystal Empire," he stammered. "Right after it came back, as soon as the rail lines were finished."

"I figured that much on my own," I said. Which I had, there was no way that kind of crystal with those properties could have come from anywhere else. "I was looking for something more local. Who is making and selling it in Canterlot?"

"I don't know."

"I don't believe you."

"It's true, I swear!" he protested, crawling towards me. I gestured with the broken trash can and he stopped. "I don't know who is the main guy. I don't! I just know some of the smaller dealers. They're pushing it hard, asking a lot less than something like this would usually go for."


"I don't know. To get more ponies hooked?"

"Ponies like you?"

He cringed, but nodded eagerly. "Yes, ponies like me. Everypony. They don't care. Once you start, you just want more, and it makes you so strong, so powerful..." he trailed off again and I saw another change take hold. It rolled through him, changing his entire attitude in a wave that ran from his legs up his body until he closed his eyes and sucked in a gasping breath. Then he wasn’t cowering, but lounging on the ground, seemingly completely at ease. He opened his eyes and they were trailing shadows again. “You’ve felt it,” he whispered, and I could feel the magic poking at my brain, trying to incite some dark and hungry emotion into action. I could feel it working. “You know what this is. The truth of it. Don’t deny that you want more.”

“What I want,” I said, shaking off the compulsion with more than a little annoyance. “Is for you to stop it with the tricks and tell me where you’ve been getting it.” It wasn’t an approach I wanted to take, working my way up from the bottom, but if it was all I had to go with then it was all I could do.

Shady Deal switched again, falling back into cowering with barely any transition time. It was disconcerting. I felt a kind of emotional dizziness just watching him. He babbled out the names of ponies and I repeated them to ensure I’d gotten them right. “Please, I’ve told you what you want, let me go, please!” he begged me with the kind of pitiful kicked-dog whimper that I wouldn’t have expected from him. I didn’t yet know the full extent of what black crystal does to ponies, how it forces them through cycles of emotions. Every high followed by a low that only leads to the next high, each cycle becoming shorter as the drug spends its energy. Shorter, but more powerful too. I would have taken more precautions had I known.

“The rest of your stash,” I said. “Give it to me.” He gave me a stricken look, but I hovered the trash can closer and he quickly capitulated. Two packets, like the one I had seen the night before, both black and marked with the red slash. “Do they all come like this?” I asked him.

He nodded. “That’s how all the dealers get them. Sold by the package, not by weight. I don’t know why, please believe me. I don’t know.”

I considered that, taking the drugs and tucking them into a spot in my harness where they wouldn’t fall out. They were reacting to my magic. I could feel it, a kind of subtle frisson, a vague sense of feedback as they absorbed a portion of the power I was using to levitate them. I believed him, he didn’t seem to know as much as I had hoped. Certainly not as much as Vinyl had said he would. I trusted that Vinyl knew what she was talking about, though, so that meant that whoever was behind the black crystal was keeping themselves very concealed.

I sighed. I would need to figure something out. I clearly wasn’t just going to be able to ask someone who the pony in charge was. I needed to either work my way up the supply chain, or force them into action somehow. First, however, I had another problem to deal with. “What do I do with you now?”

“Let me go, please, let me go!” he pleaded.

He was just so… weak. Lying there, covering his head with one foreleg. The leather harness that had seemed so intimidating, so arrogant and daring in The Ranch, only served to make him look like a foal playing at stallionhood. Dressing up in ill-fitting clothes and making big noises. It was so easy to just pity him, to discard him. To ignore him. To forget what he could be capable of.

“Get lost,” I said, turning around to head back down the alley.

Pegasi move so damned fast. Even Fluttershy has lightning-quick reflexes she can pull out whenever sufficiently motivated. He was on me before I realized what was happening. He put one hoof against the side of my head, and slammed my face into the wall. I’ve taken hits before, some of them pretty bad. Nothing compares to being blindsided like that, though. It disorients you completely, and not just because of the head injury. I lost my hold on the trash can, and it fell to the ground with a clatter. I bounced from the wall, reeling, and he spun and bucked me hard enough that I flew a dozen feet before crashing down.

It was hard to think, hard to decipher what was happening. My eyes wouldn’t focus and I couldn’t get my lungs to draw in more than a wheezing, shallow breath. I knew I was in danger, but I couldn’t figure out where that danger was coming from.

I remember him talking as he stalked towards me. “Bitch,” he snarled. “Whore. You think you can humiliate me with impunity? I will show you your place. I will make you decide what parts of you I annihilate first, and then I will make you beg to do it yourself. You will cut your own horn off in desperation to please me, and if you grovel well enough while doing it, I might consider merely killing and forgetting you.”

It was that threat that got me to focus. Cutting my horn off. It’s a thought that terrifies unicorns. As much as the loss of wings for a pegasi. I don’t know if earth ponies have an equivalent. Maybe they do. Maybe having their legs broken would be a similar fate, but I don’t see it. So when somepony threatens to make me cut off my own horn? I take notice. And I take action.

My brain was still too addled for complex spellcasting, but telekinesis is the simplest of magics. I grabbed him and threw him up against the wall. He hissed and began struggling. The magic given to him by the black crystal was eroding my hold, allowing him to wriggle free bit by bit. I staggered upright, still unable to focus my eyes, but my mind was clearing, and I was feeling a terrible rage well up inside me. I turned to Shady Deal and I increased the pressure of my magic. My horn burst into brilliant light as I shored up my spell, forcing him back, spread-eagle against the dirty stone of the alley wall. I wanted him punished. I had given him mercy and he had repaid it by attacking and threatening me. He deserved whatever I did to him.

“You simpering slave,” he hissed, his eyes burning with shadows. “You have no idea of my power!”

“You want to see power, Shady?” I asked, smirking. “Watch this.” I opened the floodgates. My horn burned with light enough to make the day seem dark for only a moment. There was a noise, like a cannon shot. Then it went dark, and the alley was silent.

I regret what I did to the Guard. I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t have to. It was an uncontrolled reaction, a decision made without thought. I would take it back, if I could. Find a better way. This time? This time I am confident in saying that I would do it all over again, only I would smile much wider. This was my first strike against the darkness.

I fell to a sitting position, heaving deep breaths and trying to keep myself from throwing up. It took a long time before I felt strong enough to look at what I had done. A strangely long time, actually. It’s a near-miracle that nopony showed up to investigate what had gone on in the alley. It would have started some of my present awkwardness with the authorities much earlier, that’s for certain.

When I had pulled myself together, I looked up. The wall looked like it had taken a light hit from a wrecking ball, cratered inward by about a foot. In the center of it, Shady’s crushed body was practically melded into the stone. His blood covered the depression in sprays of red. I found the pattern it made… artful, I guess you could say. It took my attention, at least. Perhaps I was just avoiding looking at the body. This was not a clean break of a neck like the Guard. This was ugly. I wasn’t going to be able to just dump this one down a hole and forget about it.

I thought about it for a long moment before drawing out one of the packets of black crystal. I tore it open and sprinkled the hateful stuff around the body and the ground, before dropping the half-empty packet. I could actually feel the crystals soaking up the traces of violent magic, growing ever so slightly, ever so subtly, in size and potency. Yes, they are really that dangerous.

I coughed a lot as I walked out of the alley, my balance barely recovered enough to keep me from falling over. I wondered about a concussion, but I ruled out going to a hospital. Not having anywhere else to go at the moment, I made my way back to The Ranch. Teleporting inside once I’d gotten my bearings well enough. There were some shocked looks at my flashy entrance, but I ignored them, making a beeline for where Vinyl was standing, nursing a drink in a frosted glass.

She frowned as she saw me. “Hey, you look roughed up. What happened?”

“Talked to Shady,” I said, coughing as I tried to take a breath my lungs decided was too deep. “It got kinda physical.”

“You alright?”

I shrugged. “Could do with a nap.”

She seemed to take my nonchalance as a sign that everything was fine, so she smiled. “Cool. You get what you want?”

“Not really,” I replied. “But you were right, he did know a few names. Ponies I can ask for more info.”

“That’s cool. Look, I don’t have to do a set here tonight, so we can leave if you want.” She raised her shades and gave me a knowing look that told me in no uncertain terms that she had seen where my eyes had been wandering earlier. “Or we can stay for a while.”

I managed a smile. I think she saw blood on my teeth or something because her eyes suddenly widened and she pulled back, dropping the sunglasses back into place. I took this as a definite sign of what the right answer to her question was. “I’m thinking I should go,” I said.

“Hey,” she said in a quiet, concerned voice as she stepped close. “You sure you’re alright?”


She gave me a long look that I couldn’t read through her shades. “Okay. Gotcha. You’re coming back to my place.”

“I do have some pretty good rooms,” I said, but she put a hoof up to stop me.

“Don’t care,” she said. “You missed out on the booze and music last night, I’m determined to have a hero of Equestria hanging out with me. Plus, my roommate doesn’t come back until tomorrow, and I want you to meet her.” I could tell she was throwing justifications my way, giving me an out without having to admit that I was hurt. I could tell that she was worried about me. She thought I needed company. I thought… well, I thought I didn’t. In the end I went with her. I think that was the best decision I could have made, even when it did lead to problems.

Those problems didn’t rear their ugly head until the next morning, when that aforementioned roommate finally put in an appearance.

Author's Note:

True word count: 41,656. Days 1-27 covered. Days missed: Tons.