• Published 15th Oct 2011
  • 4,440 Views, 44 Comments

Airborne - Fernin

A misnamed colt and a misplaced human Soldier find friendship despite the barriers between them.

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Chapter 7: Loose Ends

“Aaaaaannndd… that should do it!”

Skydancer’s legs flailed in the air for a minute as he cried out in fear—and fell out of the hospital bed. “Oooh… ouch.”

A dark gray hoof helped the disoriented colt to his feet. He looked up. “Dad!—Urk…”

Though it had only been returned to him seconds ago, Skydancer found the life nearly crushed out of him a second time as Diorite pulled his son into the tightest hug he’d ever given. “Don’t ever do anything like that again, young colt. Do I make myself clear?!

Diorite’s voice was angry, but there were happy tears in his eyes. Skydancer returned the hug. “Yes, Dad… Sorry Dad...”

The unicorn doctor nodded happily and made a few notes on his clipboard, which he handed to a pink-maned orderly. “All right, he seems to be recovering properly… I’ll just excuse myself for a moment to attend to the other patient…”

Skydancer found his hooves again as his father released him with the greatest of reluctance. He shifted awkwardly, trying to work the kinks out of his body from what felt like a very long nap. It took a moment for the unicorn’s comment to catch in his mind. “Dad… what happened to ‘Green?’ Is he okay?”

Cocking his head in puzzlement, Diorite tried to make sense of his son’s question and the foreign sounds rolling off the colt’s tongue. “‘Greyn?’ What’s a… ‘Grein,’ did you say? Are you feeling okay, Sport?”

Dad! I mean the big, tall green-and-gray thing! Is he okay?” Skydancer stomped a hoof in frustration at his father’s bemused expression.

“You mean you know that monster? How? We can’t get a word out of him! Everypony’s tried…”

“Where is he?!”

Finally yielding to his son’s insistence, Diorite led the way to the other end of the mine’s aid station. He nodded to the two guard ponies at the door and father and son went inside.

‘Green’ was sprawled over several beds. The gurneys had been placed one next to the other just to provide enough space for the mountain monster to lie down. He mumbled to himself, shifting fitfully from position to position. The medical ponies had removed what clothing they could. It was almost shocking to see how much thinner and slimmer and even pinker ‘Green’ looked without it. At least thanks to a few baths he no longer smelled so bad… But to Skydancer’s surprise, the wavering line of petrified flesh was still there, although it had receded to the big creature’s rear hooves.

“Don’t disturb him. He’s been like this since we brought him in,” Diorite said softly.

Skydancer stared from his own hooves to the wavering line of rock on the mountain monster’s body. “Wha… why isn’t he healed yet?! I’m fine…”

“I don’t know. Doctor?” The big stallion shrugged helplessly and appealed to expert authority.

Nodding to another orderly, Doctor Trocar approached the two earth ponies. “Here to see our mystery creature? I explicitly told the guards no unnecessary visitors!”

“I’m not unnecessary, I’m ‘Green’s friend!” Skydancer retorted. It was practically a shout. On his makeshift bed, the moaning patient stirred.

The unicorn made desperate shushing noises. “Shhh! He’s still at a very delicate state!”

“Why isn’t he better yet?!” Skydancer’s gaze flitted to the creature on the beds again. ‘Green’s eyelids were fluttering, and his breathing came in ragged gasps.

“We don’t know! He should be better by now, but my spells are barely making a dent! It’s like the magic is just passing right through him with no effect! It’s like he’s not even there.” Doctor Trocar whined. “I’m supposed to be the specialist, but I’ve had to call for specialists just to—”

“‘Sky?’ Is that you?” Lieutenant Green pushed himself up on the beds and groaned. He felt terrible. His vision was blurry, but a few rapid blinks soon cleared it. He was in… some kind of hospital? It smelled like a hospital.

The little blue horse was at the lieutenant’s bedside, looking worried. Lieutenant Green gave him a feeble grin. So he was all right. Thank God. “Don’t worry, ‘Sky,’ I’m sure Doctor Horn over there will fix me right up… Any idea what’s wrong with my feet? They still feel all… funny.”

It was heartbreaking to watch as ‘Green’ pushed himself up slowly, prodding in confusion at his still-petrified feet. He shrugged and flopped back down on the mattresses in a cacophony of creaking springs. Skydancer sighed. “Oh, ‘Green…’”

Skydancer turned to the doctor, eyeing the unicorn’s horn. “Doctor, can’t you... cast a translation spell or something? I want to talk to him.”

“Don’t know any; sorry. I just heal ponies. And apparently monsters now too. You’re welcome, by the way,” Doctor Trocar commented defensively.

“Besides,” the unicorn continued. “Aren’t you his friend? You two seemed to be talking just fine there, even if he was spouting mostly nonsense. Delirious, no doubt.”

How could the doctor be so smart yet so stupid? Skydancer ground his teeth. “No, that’s just how he talks! He doesn’t speak Equestrian!”

“All right Sport, I think we’ve bothered your friend and the good doctor enough. Let’s go see your mother while there’s still some daylight.” Diorite practically had to drag his son out of the room. ‘Green’ waved from his bed and collapsed back with a sigh.

There was a surprise visitor for Skydancer when he left the aid station. He blinked a few times, trying to figure out whether the sudden brightness of daylight was making him see things. But there was Cirrus, wings drooping in shame. She flashed him an awkward grin. “H-hay there, Skydancer.”

“Cirrus! What are you doing here?” Skydancer was caught more off-guard than if ‘Green’ had suddenly leaped off his sickbed and started singing in Equestrian.

“I…” Cirrus trailed off. A pink pegasus mare—Mrs. Cloud—nudged her daughter in the ribs.

Shooting her mother an annoyed look, Cirrus tried again. She dug distractedly in the ground with one hoof as she talked, avoiding Skydancer’s gaze. “I’m here to apologize. I’m sorry about your ‘kite’ thing… Uh… I asked some of the unicorns in our class to fix it…”

“Oh… Thanks.” This was incredibly awkward. Skydancer looked at the ground, waiting for the conversation to end.

“And, er… I wanted to thank you too. For saving me like that. From the, uh, from the cockatrice. That was brave. Really, brave. You’re… not as dumb as I thought-- Ow!” That comment had earned Cirrus another poke in the ribs.

Cirrus exchanged a mutual glare with her mother before continuing. “…It was actually… kind of cool.”

“You’re welcome, I guess.” Part of Skydancer wanted to rub it in the gray pegasus face. That’s right! There was something he could do better than her, so there! But the majority of him just wanted to get away from her as quickly as possible. With the conversation apparently over, the two respective parents nodded to each other and led their charges their separate ways.

“Is… anypony going to be able to help ‘Green,’ Dad?” Skydancer asked plaintively when they’d been walking up the river path for several minutes.

Diorite chuckled. “Oh, Doctor Trocar called in the best help available. The very best.”

“When will he be here?”

The gray stallion looked up. The sun was still high in the sky. “Well she’s a little busy right now, but I think she’ll be here around nightfall. In the meantime, why don’t we get you some of your mother’s best daisy sandwiches?”

Skydancer grinned. “Sure, Dad! Er… can we bring back one for ‘Green’ too? I think he likes them…”

* * *

Lieutenant Green passed in and out of consciousness. It was nice that the doctors were so worried about the numbness in his feet, but maybe they should do something about his head? By this point of his adventures he was used to seeing things, but this was a new one. He squinted up as the waving, multicolored mass of light entered the room. There was a general change in the background hum of his surroundings, as though the entire place was holding its breath. He pushed himself up awkwardly. “Whu..?”

There was a short exchange of the local language. Mike listened attentively, although he didn’t know why he bothered. Hmm… he really should have come up with a name for it. How did ‘horse-ese’ sound? Heh… Horsies. He chuckled weakly. Now the lieutenant knew he was cracking up, that joke had been almost as bad as the ones Sergeant First Class Rodriguez liked to make.

Whatever bright lights had been brought into the room, they seemed to be dimming somewhat. Lieutenant Green looked into the calm, warm eyes of the biggest horse-thing he’d seen yet. She seemed pretty important, what with the golden crown and wings and horn and all. He straightened and gave a half-hearted salute, struggling to stay upright as his vision darkened. “Sorry ma’am… I know we’re indoors and all, but you seem like the closest thing to authority that I’ve seen in the last…”

The lieutenant trailed off as strength left him. The impact of his head on several pillows woke him again and he lurched back upright, continuing where he’d left off. “…Week, maybe? Lieutenant Michael Green, United States Army. And you are?”

There was another short exchange as Lieutenant Green found himself lying down unexpectedly. He must have passed out again. The big white creature was nodding to one of her bodyguards—Mike recognized the type—as the room’s door slid open. The guard left, and the lieutenant grinned and waved at the new arrivals. Finally, some familiar faces. He gestured questioningly to the crowned white horse. “Hey! Hey ‘Sky…’ Good to see you. Any idea who this is?”

Skydancer stumbled as he found himself fighting between his forward momentum and the sudden and pressing need to bow. It was her! Somehow, his father didn’t seem surprised. Had he known? “Y-your majesty! Wow! Are you here to help ‘Green?’”

The solar monarch smiled down at her young subject. “Of course, my little pony… So you’re the one who befriended this poor lost soul?”

“Oh no, your Majesty. I don’t think he’s lost… I gave him a map! Er… once he’s back on his feet he’ll be able to get to ‘Bag-ram’ in no time!”

Diorite made a strangled sound and moved to silence his son before Skydancer got them all banished. Fortunately, the princess simply laughed. “I’m afraid it’s not as simple as that, Skydancer. Your ‘Green’ is a long, long way from home…”

“Can… can you help him get back, then? Er, your Majesty.” Seeing the looks on his parents’ faces, Skydancer could feel he was going to pay for this later. But he had to know.

The princess nodded. “I can. And so can you.”

Skydancer looked nervously at the prone form of the mountain monster. He looked worse than ever. “…How can I help?”

Lieutenant Green looked up feebly in time to see the guard return pushing a cart. Piled high were the various parts of his gear, ballistic armor and all. He smiled and nodded to the white-furred guard. “Hey there… thanks for getting my stuff, guy.”

The guard snorted and returned to his post, staring impassively into space. Lieutenant Green chuckled. “Well, sorr-ree.”

The big white one approached, and suddenly Mike could smell a tang of burning tin in the air. The hairs rose on his body as though he were standing in a big electric field. He yelped in pain as burning, tingling sensation returned to his lower extremities. The lieutenant wiggled his toes gingerly and slumped back in his bed as a wave of nausea nearly overtook him. “Whoo… that packed a punch.”

“’Green!’ Are you okay?” Sky asked anxiously.

Lieutenant Green smiled and waved one arm awkwardly. “Sure, kid… just fine… Oooh… Thanks for everything, but I think I need to lie down for a bit…”

The blue colt was staring at him. A slow grin spread across his muzzle. “You can talk!

Blinking, Mike stared blearily at ‘Sky.’ “Wuzzat?”

The tall white horse stepped forward. “Lieutenant Green… You should not be here.”

Some harmonic in the creature’s voice sent a strange buzzing feeling through Lieutenant Green’s skull. It was like standing on the road when an Abrams rolled by… you could feel it through your very bones. “Yeah..?”

“Skydancer is safe, and better for your visit, but it is time to go. Do you want to go home? Then say your goodbyes.” The creature’s voice seemed to be growing softer as she spoke. Mike struggled to keep his eyelids from drooping, but realized they were fully open. The room was simply getting dark.

“Good… Glad to hear it. And yes I do. Goodbye, Sky… Skydancer..?” Lieutenant Green struggled to hear over the growing ringing in his ears. He reached out convulsively and he felt for the small blue hoof that met his hand.

“All right Lieutenant… I need you to wake up.” The ringing was louder than ever now. It had merged into one continuous, ear-destroying tone. If he had had the energy, Lieutenant Green would have screamed.

The lights flared and flickered. When Skydancer’s eyes cleared, the warm grasp of his friend’s not-hoof was gone. The makeshift bed was empty. So was the cart that had been laden with ‘Green’s possessions. He looked up to the princess with tears in his eyes. “Will… will he be okay?”

Princess Celestia sighed. “I can’t say that he’s in a better place than here… but yes. He should be fine.”

Skydancer hesitated, but asked his final question. He could tell that he’d pressed his luck enough. “Will I ever see him again?”

“I think that rather depends on him. And now, my little pony, I hear you’ve got a special enthusiasm for one of my old friends, Bucephalus…”

The colt nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, your Majesty! I… Oh, noooo, Miss Periwinkle is going to be so upset!”

For once, the princess seemed to be caught off-guard. “Miss Periwinkle? Why..?”

Skydancer planted one hoof firmly on his embarrassed face. “…I forgot to get my textbook back from ‘Green!’”