• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 8,290 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.

  • ...

Afterwards, In The Dark

Did I win there? Were the events of that hospital a hard fought victory or a near escape from disaster? I would like to say that it was a triumph, that Alley Cat and her masters gave it their best, and found that it wasn’t enough. Heh, I have said as much, haven’t I? They set out to break me, and I am unbreakable. By the measure of my enemies, I was the clear victor.

By my own measure, however, the incident at the hospital was a catastrophe. Not in my failure to defeat the addicts, I didn’t fail there, but in the much more personal and dangerous failure to myself. I let myself be consumed by the distractions of dark magic. I’d wasted all my power when I should have been hoarding it. I should have been the stalker, haunting those dark corridors and slaughtering the unwary in fleeting bursts of magic and violence. Instead I allowed myself to become the prey, herded and worked to exhaustion so as to be made easy pickings for the predators.

I am nopony’s prey. The very notion of it sickens me.

My teleport away from the hospital hadn’t been a blind one. I didn’t even go far, materializing on a roof half a block away. The dark magic contamination in the air would obscure my trail, but I didn’t want Shining Armor getting clever and somehow sniffing out my safehouse or one of my allies if he did manage to track the teleport.

I was moving immediately, leaping across the dark street and making for where I had left Gale Force. He was gone from there, of course, the spot taken over by a squad of Guard pegasi. I avoided their notice and made my way back to the building where I had first met him that night, above my safehouse apartment. There I enacted a short message spell and told him to come to me when convenient. Then I sat down, obscured in darkness, and cried.

We all need to let our emotions out at times, and with the black magic still thrilling through my veins, I needed it then more than most. Being captured, chained down and nearly turned into a weapon against the ponies I was trying to save was bad enough. The horrors of what the addicts had done to the patients in the hospital were even worse. Yet neither of those things were what truly moved me to tears. No, it was the remaining hollow ache and gut-wrenching memory of being without magic that truly distressed me.

I had been helpless. Weak. It had hurt. It had hurt so much... I can’t even think of it now without a flash of fear, and I’ve taken steps to ensure it will never happen again. At that time it was all I could do to keep from screaming again, and I shed tears until I felt as dry as the southern barrens. It was many minutes before I had my sobbing under control and managed to bring my emotions back to something resembling composure.

Gale Force arrived in a gust of cold wind and the hurried flapping of wings working hard to slow a pony down. “You here?” he asked, peering around in the darkness. “Are you okay?”

I emerged from a shadow, startling him even though he was expecting me to do exactly that. “I’m fine,” I said, and I think the lie was convincing. “Things got... difficult. Did you spot anything?”

“Difficult?” he shook his head in disbelief. “The whole front of the hospital is gone! The Guard are crawling all over the wreckage, and I heard something about you tossing a bucking corpse at the Captain! What in tartarus went on in there?”

I managed a smirk. “Tartarus isn’t far from the truth. You do not want to know the full story, trust me on that. Suffice it to say that the addicts inside were planning to massacre the Guard. I stopped them, and made several of them pay for their crimes. What I need to know is if you managed to do your part.”

He hesitated, looking at me but unable to hold my gaze. “Yeah,” he said, finally. “I had to get farther away from the hospital when the Guard showed up, but I managed to spot something weird. Just after the explosion there was this… mist-thing. I thought it was part of the dust-cloud from the explosion at first, but it was keeping low to the ground and moving like a pony would. It was also leaving a trail of blood. I figured this was one of the bad guys, so I followed it.”

My eyes narrowed at his description. While I couldn’t be certain none of the other addicts had the same ability, the odds were that the bleeding mist was Alley Cat. I’d hoped that she’d died in the hospital, but I hadn’t counted on it. In fact, this worked in my favor.

My horn lit as I cast a variation on a simple cleaning spell. I could feel that my reserves were still agonizingly low, but I had enough to do what I needed. Perhaps Gale Force saw me flinch as I used my magic, but he’s never said anything about it. The magenta aura of my power slid into my mouth, scouring around and eventually emerging with a few strands of hair and drops of blood.

“What’s that?” Gale Force asked.

“A piece of your bleeding mist,” I replied. I sealed the hair and blood in a magical sphere, mentally adding evidence bags or some other small container to the list of additions to my costume I was building after the events of the night. “We can use it to track her, or prepare a spell that will specifically target her. Both very useful things. Where did you see it go?”

“To a condo out by the west slope,” he replied. “It’s an upscale place, a good view of the castle and the valleys. It, uh, that is, she slipped in through a window. I could hear sounds inside, like someone screaming quietly. You know, like when they’ve lost their voices but keep trying to scream anyway?”

A genuine smile graced my lips. “Oh, I can imagine it. Did you see anything else?”

He thought for a long moment. “I don’t think the condo was hers. There was this crest on the mailbox out front.”

“Would you recognize the crest if you saw it again?”

He nodded. “I think so, yeah.”

“Good. I’ll create a list of them and we can go through them tomorrow night until you find the one you saw. I’ll also be fitting you for a costume.”

He swallowed at that, his ears drooping. “Is it going to be like… yours?”

I considered that question. I knew he found my costume frightening. I had designed it to be that way. I could see no reason why he wouldn’t want to be similarly intimidating. On the other hoof, he was a former Guardpony. He would naturally gravitate to something more heroic than terrifying. I could allow him that. “No,” I said. “It won’t be as flashy as mine. Something better suited to a support role.” He relaxed a little at that. “Remember, though, you’re not going to be equipped to fight the terminal addicts like I am. I can probably give you something to defend yourself with, but I expect you to avoid combat whenever possible.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” he said. “If those guys can give you trouble, I’m about as useful as a light breeze against them.”

“Get some sleep,” I said. “Meet me here tomorrow night. We’ll go over the crests.” He nodded and took off.

I watched him go, then teleported into my safehouse. The short hop was done with my own magic instead of the black magic from the hospital, and it nearly wiped me out. I had, fortunately, furnished the room with a mattress in case of a late night such as this. I would need to rest for several hours before I was strong enough to teleport back to Ponyville. Even then, I was going to be facing the day with a monstrous headache.

Ah, well, there was nothing for it. I lay down, closed my eyes and let sleep come to claim me.

It never did. I lay awake and unmoving for six hours as the sounds of the sleeping city mixed with the reaching shadows on the wall. I remembered the flickering lights and the endless corridors of the broken hospital. I felt the warmth of blood on my face, and wondered why it felt so satisfying. It’s a question I never found an answer to, and still haven’t. Perhaps I don’t want to know. Perhaps I’m afraid of the answer, and what it means for who I am.

...It doesn’t matter. Gale Force had found what I needed to begin unravelling the identities of the masters of the black crystal, but I wouldn’t discover that until several nights and much frustration had passed.