• Published 19th Nov 2013
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SpartAnon - Bastinator



Anon is a Spartan-IV and a member of Fireteam Crimson. When he accidently finds himself on the wrong end of a Forerunner artifact, he finds himself in Equestria. It has to be a dream, right?

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Chapter 5: Running of the Leaves

You tap your foot on the road as you grow impatient. If there’s one thing you should know it’s that girls, no matter the species, take forever to get ready. Of course it’s not like you’re running late. You just like to get there early. Punctuality goes a long way in earning a good rep, and that’s something you desperately need right now. That’s really what today’s all about.

If Twilight is to be believed, and you have that much faith in here, then just getting your face out there should go a long way. When they’re familiar with who you are… who knows. But before you can think that far ahead you still need a certain nerdy unicorn to fucking get here. ”Hey Anon!” a voice chants from an unforeseen vantage point, “Up here!”

You cast your head to the sky or more importantly to the towering hot air balloon in the sky. And popping right off the side is the pink mare straight from hell’s kitchen, Pinkie Pie. ”Whatcha doing down there?” she asks nonchalantly in her aerial vessel.

“Just waiting on Twilight. If you don’t mind me asking, what in god’s name are you doing in that contraption?”

”You like it? I’m going to be the announcer for the race again this year. It’s super fun.”

“I don’t doubt it. You see Twilight from on up there?” She whips out an oversized telescope and swishes around on all sides.

”There she is,” she points out to her left.

“Thanks Pinkie, see you at the race.”

”You know our motto. ‘We Deliver.’” She sets her sails for the horizon and drifts away like a true aerial commander. All you can do is watch as she disappears.

”Quite the sight. I still don’t know how she made that.”

“Some things are best left for the imagination.”

”I might have to disagree with you there.” You shrug your shoulders and look back to Twilight. ”I’ve tried everything to get into her head, but I just can’t seem to get there.”

“If you ever take my advice, take it now. Don’t try. No one wants to know what goes on in a crazy man’s head.”

”Pinkie isn’t crazy. She’s just… unique.”

“Aren’t we all,” you mutter, “Come on, I want to get there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a certain mare decided to take all the time in the world.”

”I had to double check my list.”

“The same list that you triple checked?”

”No, the list of that list.”

“Brother…”

”If you’re going to do something-“

“Then do it right, I know. I’ve only heard that spouted at me a thousand times. Can we just get going?”

She waves a hoof before you, “After you.”

“Ladies first.”

She takes the first gingerly steps down the road, “Quite the gentlecolt.”

“Gentle’man,’” you correct her, “And yes I am.”

”Not very humble about it though.”

“I’m only human.”

You catch a peek down near the markets where you had your little rampage, a crew of ponies still clearing the debris. You chuckle, much to Twilight’s annoyance, and head over the bridge towards the race track. You walk alongside Twilight down the path, brushing your armored hand against the occasional fern as she discusses the history of the event. Never being a history guy you nodded your head and made the occasional vocal cue as not to avoid suspicion.

She had a habit of spewing off information that you didn’t necessarily care about. You knew everything you needed to know at this point. You got the princesses’ names down finally, you could name the nearest major cities and had an overall general knowledge base. Of course, it took almost a week of her sitting you down and forcing your attention, but you got it.

Whenever she wasn’t looking you’d camo and sneak off elsewhere. You didn’t do much. You’d climb the treetop, find a comfortable looking branch and relax. Sloths really had it made.

You zoomed in on the area ahead and made out a makeshift tent along with a small crowd of ponies. “Damn, I was hoping to be one of the first ones there.”

”We aren’t? How can you tell?”

Tilting your head slightly you catch a ray of light and direct it into her eye. She covers her eye and almost falls on her face, but you catch her in time. “This visor isn’t just for looks.”

She blinks frantically, the sudden illumination briefly blinding the poor mare. ”You could’ve just told me.”

“But that’s not as fun,” you pout jokingly.

”Might have to add that to my notes. Remind me ok?”

“Pfft... Your book, your responsibility.” You laugh and lead her over to the sign-up booth where a stallion is taking names.

”Come to participate or are you here to watch?”

”Two participants,” Twilight answers finally coming out of her blind stupor.

The stallion pushes over a clipboard and quill, “Sign here.”

The quill glows in a low purple light as Twilight writes her name. “Show off,” you mutter under your breathe as the stallion drags it back.

”Oh Twilight, good to see running again this year.”

”I’m just doing my part like last year.”

”And a good part you did. Let’s hope you get first place this time.”

She smiles and takes her number, “I’ll catch you over by the refreshment booth.” Twilight trots away and you look back to the stallion.

”So you’re running too huh?” he asks coldly, “Just sign your name if you can.”

You snatch the clipboard out of his hooves and jot down your name. “Rude little prick aren’t you?” Careful Anon, you’re here to make friends not enemies.

You inscribe your name on the sheet, a smirk coming to your face when you spot Applejack and Rainbow’s names. ”Be thankful Twilight can vouch for you.”

“Be thankful I’m in a good mood,” you retort and toss the clipboard back to him.

”Anon? Bucking foreigners…” You see the stand Twilight was talking about and head on over. ”Hey! You forgot your number!”

“Like I don’t stand out already.”

You sit down on the chair beside Twilight who’s presently slurping away at her drink. “Good move, but make sure not to drink too much. You’re a pony, not a camel.”

”You should probably do the same,” she says popping off the straw.

“And reveal my beautiful face to the world? You’re gonna have to prove your worth first.”

”You can’t stay hidden under that armor forever.”

“I can try.”

She was right about that. You never revealed yourself to them. You’re not scared or embarrassed about it. You just enjoy rustling her feathers, well, mane in her case. It makes her squirm knowing that she didn’t know how you really looked and that makes your day. “Maybe one day, if you’re good enough, I’ll let you see my face but that’s it! I don’t reveal the rest until after the sixth date. I’m no sleaz.”

”Yeah, more like a tease,” she mocks sipping at the straw.

“Congratulations you learned to rhyme. Take any prize off the bottom shelf.”

”Shut up Anon.”

“I don’t think I will. I’m starting to enjoy the sound of my voice, the way it resonates in the air. You’ve got no idea what you’re missing.”

”You’re making me want to root for Rainbow and Applejack.”

“As a man who’s made a lot of bad decisions, let me tell you not to vote for the losing team.”

”Yeah,” she nods, “I’m definitely rooting for them.”

You give her a light punch to the shoulder as a pair of mares come walking up. ”Well well well, look what we have here. Don’t fill up too much Anon, I’ve heard the trail is especially good this year.”

“Really? Maybe after you’re finished you’ll go back for seconds,” you challenge swiveling your seat towards her. “Nice to see you Dash.”

”Anon,” she nods. “I’ll be doing some stretches by the starting line alright AJ?”

”See ya there sugarcube.” Rainbow Dash flicks her tail at you and flies off in a flash.

“Damn. I didn’t think she could go that fast.”

”Bit off a bit more than you can chew partner.”

“You can say that again. But don’t!” you make sure to clarify. People have taken that seriously one too many times. Now you have to make sure everyone knows it’s just a turn of phrase.

”I’m sure you’re going to do just fine,” Twilight reassures you.

“Don’t think I’m worried. As fast as she is, I’m that much faster.”

Applejack’s skeptical at your boast and Twilight rolls her eyes. ”Whatever you say sugarcube. I just wanted to wish you luck before the race.” Was that good sportsmanship you just heard? By god it might have been. She spits on her hoof and presents it to you.

“At least I’m wearing gloves.” You grab hold of her hoof and give it a firm shake. “Good luck Applejack.”

”Let’s have a good ol’ time, right Twilight?”

”Try to focus on running this time.”

Applejack huffs lightly, “I’ll try and remember that, see ya’ll on the track.” She makes her leave and you can’t help but wonder what Twilight meant. Almost reading your mind she answers you, “Her and Dash finished in last place last time.”

“Ouch… Focused on hindering each other?”

“Yep.”

Hope they learned their lesson. Based on what they said, you know at least Applejack did. You yawn and stretch your arms, your back straining before a series of cracks relieves you “Phew! That felt great.”

”You know Anon. I made sure to reread that book about running and it said-“

“Twilight,” you interrupt, “Are you about to give me advice about racing?”

”The book said-“ You clamp your hand over her mouth and shake her head.

“You can’t blindly follow what every book tells you. Sometimes you have to follow your instincts and do what feels right, not what some researcher typed up.” She begins to mumble for some- oh yeah, the hand… “If you still think its worth saying then go ahead.”

She rubs her jaw with her hoof, “I was going to say you’d probably want to stretch.”

“Oh… That’s actually pretty good advice. Almost too good… Nah it’s good. But now I must ignore it out of spite.”

She laughs, “You’re a funny guy you know that?”

“Funny how? Funny like a clown? Do I amuse you?” Sensing your aggression she tries to apologize but your laughter cuts her short. “Jeez Twilight I’m just fucking with you.”

She chuckles nervously, “Well I’m going to go stretch. Try and stay out of trouble.”

“Don’t worry about me,” you call after her, “I’ll just sit here and look pretty.”

She waves a hoof and grins, “Whatever Anon.” You slouch atop your chair and cast your gaze over to the other contestants. If you’re going to run you might as well check out the competition. Bad, bad, bad, okay, bad, terrible, bad, bad… Done. That was uneventful. You’re not sure why you were expecting, they’re animals not super soldiers. Meh, you’d have better luck elsewhere.

Prying your buttox off the seat you stroll around, most of the runners focused on their warm-ups. You find one runner lying flat on her back while an attendant wraps up her lower leg. In most cases you’d just ignore it, but seeing how the Pegasus hides behind her flowing bubblegum hair as she’s wrapping make you think otherwise. “Hello Fluttershy. Nice to see a familiar face around here.”

”It’s nice to see you too,” she manages to say after a few failed attempts. She finishes up with the runner who thanks her before starting off.

“Friend of yours?”

”She’s one of the contestants. Last time she hurt her hoof during the run. I offered to wrap it up for her so she could run this time.”

“That’s awfully kind of you. I don’t know many people that would just up and do that sort of thing.”

”Well we’re not exactly your kind,” she points out, “Not that there’s anything wrong with your kind.”

“I got it Fluttershy, no worries.”

She sits on a overturned log and you decide to sit beside her. ”The race is going to start soon, you might want to start-“

“Stretching? The more everyone says that the more I don’t want to do it.”

”Oh… ok then…” Whoops, she closed up on you. You need to be careful what you say around her. A lone leaf drops down from a hanging branch, slowly drifting into your hand. The fragile leaf hangs atop you before a gust of wind sends it flying through the growing crowd of ponies. It’s joined by a dozen others as they twirl through the air in a mesmerizing display of natural beauty.

Fluttershy too is enchanted by the sight and stares mouth agape. You press two fingers against her chin and gently close her mouth before anyone can notice. ”Thank you,” she blushes after you break her from the spell.

“Anytime.” An ear pounding trumpet booms from above as you spot Pinkie blowing into an instrument. “Is that a god damn flugelhorn?”

”I thought we got them all away from her,” Fluttershy peeps after the ear rape has been concluded.

”Mares and gentlecolts!” Pinkie’s voice rains down through her megaphone, “Welcome to the Running of the Leaves! I’m your announcer Pinkie Pie!”

“Looks like the race is about to start…”

”Good luck Anon, I’ll be rooting for you.”

“Thanks Fluttershy. See you at the finish.” She waves you off as you make your way through the ponies and back to the starting line. Following the sign you find the others settling into place at the start.

”I’d thought you chickened out,” Dash stabs at you, “Still got a chance if you want.”

You smack the armor around your legs, crack your knuckles and set your hands on the starting line, all the while staring her down. “Not on your life.”

Pinkie continues with her announcements, for some reason listing off ingredients for a twirly cinnamon shake. Dash and Applejack line up to your left, Twilight to your right. ”And without further ado, everypony! Line up!”

“Doesn’t she see us?”

”Take your positions!”

“We’re already in position!” you shout back. You grunt and keep your head forward, ignoring Rainbow’s snickering.

”On your mark!”

Alright, let’s light up the path on the display. ”Get set!” Let’s roast these mares. ”Go!”

The ponies charge straight off the line and the earth quakes under their hooves. A thick layer of dust picks up behind them as they speed down the path. You stand back up, silently counting in your head. ”Anon! You’re supposed to go when I say go.” You hold up your hand to Pinkie, pulling down your fingers. Three, two, one…

“Go time.” You lower your hips and push off your back leg, using the augmented gifts the UNSC gave you to burn some rubber. Your body cuts through the air as if you were meant for this. Every shift of your arms focuses the strength in your legs and propels you forward to the speeding pony horde. Maybe you should’ve given them a bigger head start.

You pass the first runner, now the last, with ease. She’s no definitely no Olympian. Pulling your speed back you slowly work your way up the ladder. Every pony you pass you make sure to give them a nice pat on the back. A little mixture of your sentimental side and your dickish side, mainly the latter. Pinkie’s balloon shadow follows your progress, “And Anon moves up again. He’s like super fast.” Of course you are. What’d she expect?

You spot a rainbow mane and cowboy hat bobbing further up the pack, the two locked in at first place. ”Anon’s got his eyes on the prize, but wait!” The path takes a nasty turn and you move to the inner lane for maximum maneuverability. As the ponies take the turn the few on the left that had kept their speed found themselves face first in the bushes. Rookie mistake. ”Oooooh, that looked like it hurt! Let’s hope the others learn from that mistake.”

You spot another contestant and make your way over to her, making sure to keep pace with her. “Hiya Twilight. Having fun?”

She blows the leaves out of her face, “Anon? How are you so- calm?”

“You know, being awesome and such. You might want to think about doing that sometime.”

”I’m trying to pace- myself. It said so in- the book.” You shake your head.

“More with the books. This is about having fun, not winning.”

”But don’t you- want to win?”

“Of course, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to have fun.” You pat her like you did the others. “Forget about the book. Just have fun.” With that you pick up the pace and leave her behind you.

You reach the gap between the main group and the two front runners. ”Wowie zowie! Anon’s really doing it. Those two better watch out, there’s a new speedster in town.” They don’t take any notice, apparently focused on maintaining their lead. Meh, you’ll let them have their glory… for now. These ponies are all so serious, can’t they loosen up? All work and no play makes Anon a dull boy.

The beating of hooves roll through the tree line, the uproar annoying now that you pay attention to it. Camoing up muffles the roar and lowers it to a smooth beat, almost that of a heart. It’s just for the sound though. Your armor can’t react quick enough to the surroundings at this speed. Still, the calm does well for the mind.

This takes you back to your time on Reach. You used to run from your house all the way to base and then some. There was something about it that cooled you off even when you were drenched in sweat. Your fellow marines thought you were crazy, that drinking was indefinitely better than a stroll. Man that was back when before you even thought about joining the Spartans. You were looking forward to some action back then. If only she’d gotten out in time…

You shrug off the thought, the tsunami of sound reemerging and pulling you back to the race. You push yourself and shorten the gap between you and the lead. They probably thought they had you. “Last one to the finish line is a rotten egg!”

You tear yourself between them and on to glory. ”Bucking…”

You look to Rainbow Dash, her face one of frustration and jealousy. “Sorry?! I can’t hear you over the sound of me winning!”

You laugh at her face and shatter her pride at the same time because you multitask. ”Attention racers, jump!” Jump? You turn back to the front. There’s a tree blocking the path about fifty yards ahead, nothing major, but enough for them to worry. You grin at the trivial nature of the threat and go at it full speed, leaving a trail of dust behind you. Almost… Pressing your feet against the ground you jump into the air, clear over the obstacle, double flip, spin dive, touchdown!

“YEAH! Spartan of the year right here!”

You cheer and keep on going without a care in the world. ”Ouch!” Pinkie sounds off as the others reach the obstacle, “That dust cloud really got her.” Oho. That better be Rainbow Dash. You’re going to rub that in her face after the race is over. She’s going to regret making that challenge. God you love winning.

You slow down for the others; don’t want to make them look too bad after all. Hoofsteps come beating up behind you and you pace yourself to get even. “Well if it isn’t Dash? Having fun eating my dust?”

”Heh. I’m going easy on you,” she bluffs. Unfortunately for her, you’ve played Poker before.

“Yeah I’m sure. We’ll see who’s first to the finish line won’t we?”

”We sure will.”

You look to your left for Applejack. “AJ?”

”Don’t make excuses, let’s go.” You slow down and wait for her. More ponies begin to pass you, that orange one, Twilight, the slowpoke… but no Applejack. Pinkie’s balloon travels ahead with the crowd and you’re left alone on the dirt path. She said that the dust cloud- No, she was talking about someone else. The few stragglers from the beginning come running past. You jog back down the road, your worry speeding you up.

No movement on the radar, that’s not- ”H-hey Anon. Talk about eating dust right?” You almost didn’t see her sitting by the road.

“What’re you doing back here? We got a race to win.”

”Nah, ah think I’ll sit her a while, catch the scenery.”

“Bullshit. Come on let’s get go.”

She takes a deep breath, “Alright, just give me a sec.” She winces as she gets back on her hooves, “You go ahead I’ll catch up.”

You peer at her right foreleg, hovering slightly above the ground. “What’s wrong with your leg?”

”Nothing.”

“Stand on it.”

”What?”

“If nothings wrong then you’ll have no problem with it.” She stares back at you. If she really were hurt she wouldn’t- *crack* Applejack grits her teeth and falls down, your hands catching her before she can hit the ground. Alright maybe she would. “You weren’t lying about being hard-headed.”

”Element of honesty,” she jokes with tears in her eyes.

“Dammit this is my fault. I had to show off back there and- Fuck!”

You hold your helmet with both hands, “I ain’t angry at ya Anon.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I’m not.” It’s like you’re a giant wrecking ball and you fuck up whatever you touch. You stand back up, anger brimming up to your neck. “I’m trying to make some friends here and all I do is- GAH!”

You cleave your fist into the bark of a tree, the top tearing clean off the tree and to the ground. ”Heh, could use you up at the farm,” she says wiping away the last of her tears. This was supposed to be fun. This is anything but. And you’re not going to take this lying down. Not a chance in hell.

“We’re going to finish this race.”

”I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere.”

“Then I’ll just have to carry you.”

”Wait wha- Whoa Nelly!” You cradle her injured leg and rest her atop your shoulder. No need to further harm the poor mare.

“Hold on tight.” You hold her on your shoulder with your right hand and start back down the path. No more stunts or tricks. You’re not going to ruin this race for Applejack. Your feet pound the ground, a cascade of leaves escaping from the trees and into the wind.

”You’re a good man you know that?”

You muster a smile and take another turn. “No I’m not.”

Making up for lost time you catch the blips back on your radar. Not too soon either, Pinkie’s balloon is parked off a ways which means you’re close to the finish line. Gotta go extra fast. You tear through the stragglers once more who gaffa at your speed. The pack grows closer and you make sure to blow through them as well. ”Howdy,” Applejack calls to them as we pass.

Twilight heads the group, the unicorn pouring all of her effort into this last stretch. You give her an approving nod and barrel ahead of her, the finish line closing up faster than expected. And up there still going strong is the ever-pompous Rainbow Dash, likely fantasizing her celebration as you think. But you’re not going to let her have that. Not while you’re around.

You close up behind her, the mare peeking her head back and catching your approach. You can almost hear her curse at the sight of you. Now just to get around- Oh. Oh hell no. Rainbow Dash cuts you off as you attempt to move around her, the Pegasus keeping herself in front of you at all times. Applejack sees this, “It’s alright Anon. Second place isn’t so bad.”

You tighten your hold on her, Applejack piecing together your thoughts, “I know what you’re thinking, and it’s crazy.”

“So stay here.”

She wraps her good hoof around you, “Unfortunately for us both, I like crazy.” It’s not far now. You pull back behind Dash and begin to sprint with everything you’ve got. ”What if we miss?”

You hold her hoof in your hand. “I won’t.” And you jump.

Lights flash midair, the breeze combing through Applejack’s hair. You turn your body as you begin to fall, your back hitting the ground first as you slide. A layer of dirt picks up after you, the incessant sound of cheering telling you all you needed to know. The orange earth pony lies atop your chest, her eyes clenched. “Guess who won?”

She opens them, her mind still trying to take in what’s happening. Dash pants heavily as she passes, the broken mare trying to avoid eye contact, not that you can blame her. “Maybe next time eh Dash?” She grunts and heads off for some water.

Applejack begins to pat her body, “Ah shucks, I’ve gone and lost my hat.”

“Not quite,” you reply, plopping the ten-gallon hat back on her head where it belongs.

”Thank ya kindly Anon. For everything.”

“Anything for a friend right?”

She rests her head on your chest piece, “Right.”