• Published 21st Jan 2014
  • 11,478 Views, 588 Comments

Dread - bossfight1



Equestria becomes host to a being who can plunge people into their darkest nightmares with but a touch. He claims to have no ill intentions, yet the ponies are skeptical; how does one do good through fear?

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Chapter 1: The Rift

♩ Hello, vent shafts, my old friends…
I’m going through you yet again… ♩

I flowed through the vent, peering down every turn as I went. This was my life now, I mused as I went along; thirty percent fighting, twenty percent Nightmare-inducing, fifty percent crawling through ventilation shafts. Really, why would criminals keep using places that had these things? I wasn’t even the first MHA who could do stuff like this; the metahuman who invented this method came around in the late 70’s. It was actually rather pitiful.

I finally found an exit and peered into the immense warehouse—correction; my life was thirty percent fighting, ten percent Nightmare-inducing, ten percent going into warehouses, and fifty percent crawling through vents—that housed the guys I was tracking. As expected there were six goons patrolling the place, all armed with rifles. I noticed, to my dismay, that some of their guns had been affixed with Ember attachments; their guns could shoot small, yet no less effectual, bursts of flame.

Of course… I thought bitterly as I continued to take in the environment. In the center of the warehouse was a large, circular metal ring, with countless wires protruding from the outer edge, all plugged into an immense computer. And working at the computer was…

Oh, hello… I thought. The man working at the generator was Dr. Johann, or ‘Perspective’, as he called himself. He was a known Malefactor who was obsessed with finding a means to break through the barriers between dimensions. He’d succeeded at one point in the early 90’s, breaking through to a completely random dimension; I could only imagine the joy he felt in the seconds before the other dimension’s radioactive atmosphere hit him and the portal collapsed. The effects both vastly increased his intellect, and drove him batshit insane. Ever since then he’d tried to locate that same dimension, hoping to expose the world to the same radiation and ‘make them see the truth’ or whatever. He’d been in prison for some time since he was busted in Kentucky a couple years back, but was among the Malefactors who’d escaped during the ‘Great Purge’, where a large number of Purists attempted to detonate a nuke beneath the Omega Security Prison off the coast of California.

I took another look at the guards; they had the same purple glow in their eyes as Perspective did in the photos I’d seen of him. Perspective had found a means of ‘ensuring loyalty’ by injecting his corrupted blood into his workers or ‘volunteers’. Anyone with his blood would be subjected to his will, blind to pain, fatigue and hunger. They could be saved, sure; a cure had been found shortly after Perspective’s first arrest. They hadn’t been exposed to the pure radiation of that dimension, so it wasn’t a one-way road for them, unlike Perspective. Until then, though, I needed to take it easy; these were probably the kidnap victims that had been vanishing across the state. I didn’t think their families would appreciate their loved ones being returned with their arms and legs broken by their ‘savior’.

“Dread?”

I slithered into the vents somewhat. “I’ve found them, Smite. They’re in the warehouse on the docks in Gloucester, across from the Coast Guard station. Perspective’s got ‘em, using them as his cronies. Looks like he’s building another Rift, dunno how long he needs, though.”

“Damn… Okay, just hold tight, Trauma and I’ll be there soon—ten minutes tops.”

I glanced at Perspective, still working at the machine. “I don’t like thinking about what this guy might be able to do in ten minutes…”

“Just don’t do anything rash, okay? Give us some time, we’ll be there. Please, Dread!”

I tensed in agitation; Smite always felt I was too hasty to jump into the fray. Sure, there had been times she’d said ‘wait for us’, and they arrived to find me already at work; but nearly all of those times had been me simply, quietly, knocking out goons and simplifying the cleanup, or trying to make a clear path for any hostages to escape. It wasn’t like I was charging in screaming “YOLO”... as fun as that would be someday, if only once.

I noticed some wires connecting the computer to a large plasmatic generator tucked in the corner, buzzing loudly. It was a hemispherical device with a pair of glowing blue pylons rising from the top. These things were fairly expensive, utilized in big laboratories, both legal and otherwise, capable of powering an entire small town for a decade. These had been sold on the Black Market, almost always to the ‘Genius’ category of Malefactors.

I considered my options; surely there’d be no harm in at least disabling it, right? I learned in training that these had a simple means of being broken beyond repair; a simple fuse, hidden under the control panel that, when broken, would short out the core. I could break the fuse and leave Perspective furiously working at his device by the time Smite and Trauma showed up.

I peered out of the grate and, waiting for none of the guards to be watching. slipped down the wall. Sticking to the shadows, I slithered towards the generator, keeping a close eye on Perspective. As I approached the generator, though, I noticed something different; this one appeared to be a newer model, judging by the slimmer shape of the pylons and the higher-pitched buzz I’d known these things for. Anxiously, I reached a tendril into the control panel and searched the inside.

Well, at least THAT’S the same… I thought as I spotted the fuse. Right, I’ll break this, then head back to the vent and wait for--

“Honestly, I’m amazed it took you so long to find me…”

I adjusted my focus to the part of my mass that wasn’t in the machine. Perspective was standing some distance away, hands behind his back. His goons glanced at him and noticed me before hurrying over, weapons primed. I quickly took on my normal form, leaving a single tendril, too thin to be seen, in the generator, and bared my teeth; well, I’d earned an ‘I told you so’ from Smite this time.

“Not that I wanted to be found, per se…” Perspective said, running his hand through the few strands of white hair that remained following his exposure. “It’s just, my companions weren’t very discrete in securing the equipment I’d need for the Rift. I’d expected you MHAs to be beating the door down days ago.”

“Looks like your help’s better than you think,” I said calmly. Keep him talking, keep him talking, keep him talking…

Perspective chuckled. “Or perhaps New Hampshire’s dedicated Task Force isn’t quite the… force of reckoning as other states’, hmm? Now, Kentucky’s Task Force, they’re something… Override, in particular, he…” He began to laugh. “He got the computer that controlled the Rift I’d built to… to play some Tiny Tim songs… I tried to open the portal and ended up getting Tiptoe Through the Tulips for my trouble!”

I chuckled a little bit; that was pretty funny. “Yeah, it’s important to find humor in what you do, huh?” I focused on my transmitter. “Smite, can you pick up the pace?”

“What’s wrong?” She replied.

“I’m an idiot, THAT’S what’s wrong,” I said. “Look, I can keep Perspective talking, but I don’t know for how long!”

Smite groaned. “Goddammit, Dread! Alright, we’ll be there in a minute, maybe two, just don’t let him turn on that portal!”

I stopped tuning Perspective out as he began pacing around his goons. “I envy your kind, you know? Those who so fear the light? I understand; the very secret of the universe is so close, yet you fear what it is… You fear you play a much smaller role in the grand scheme of things than you think, you’d prefer things to stay the same!”

My single tendril hung close to the fuse in the generator. I’d break it if I needed to, but if I did it now they’d fire their Embers at me, and that shit hurt. Just gotta wait for backup…

“We’re in Gloucester, Dread!” Called Smite. “Give us thirty seconds!”

“Oh, forgive me, I’ve been so selfish…” Perspective said, approaching the computer. “I speak of this glorious light, yet I hold it just out of your reach!” His hand hovered over the button. “Now, my dear Dread, see the glorious light, as I have!!”

NOW. I flowed some more mass into the tendril and thrust it into the fuse, shattering it.

My worries over this plasmatic generator being a newer model weren’t unfounded; the pylons spiked, sending a surge of electricity along the wires to the computer. Perspective barely had time to glance at the surge before the computer burst, sending him flying backwards and into the wall. His goons glanced back at the noise, allowing me to reach out with several tendrils and snatch the guns from their hands before ripping them apart. I formed my tail into a thick tentacle and swept it at their feet, sending them tumbling to the floor before launching myself at Perspective.

I grabbed him by his lab coat and hoisted him up. “Guess enlightenment didn’t teach you the dangers of monologuing, huh?” I asked.

He wasn’t listening; he was staring, bewildered, at the Rift. “What have you done?”

I glanced back; the inner ring of the Rift was sparking, a low hum emanating from the device, rising in pitch. “Uh…” I said.

There was a loud bang, and a portal filled the center of the Rift. I felt it pulling me towards it like the vacuum of space; it was gentle, but it was growing in intensity.

The door to the warehouse smashed open; Smite and Trauma flew in, gaping at the sight. “Dread, what did you DO?!” Smite yelled over the rushing wind of the portal.

“I thought I was turning it off!!” I called before turning to Perspective. “How do I turn it off?!”

Perspective sputtered; this clearly wasn’t the ‘enlightenment’ he’d been seeking. “The… the red wires! They keep the portal open! Break the red wires!!”

“Thank you!!” I said disingenuously before turning to Smite and Trauma. “HERE!” I hurled Perspective at them; Trauma caught him in his telekinetic field and placed him on the ground. Smite erected a tangible shield of light to keep her, Trauma, Perspective and his goons from being taken by the Rift’s pull.

“COME ON!!” Smite yelled.

“I GOTTA SHUT THIS THING OFF!!” I called before turning towards the Rift. I formed some claws and dug them into the floor, to ease my approach. I heard Smite yelling after me, but the roar of the portal had grown too loud. I reached the metal ring and, wrapping more claws around the rim, gave it a once-over; it was hard to tell if the red wires littering the Rift were all one long wire or not. Shaking my head I reached a claw out and began cutting every red wire I could find, like a bomb-diffusing bull.

When I cut the last wire, the portal fluctuated. I glanced back at Smite and Trauma. “I THINK I GOT IT!!” I yelled over the roar of the portal.

The pulling sensation suddenly spiked, catching me off guard. I lost my grip on the Rift and lurched forward. Some of my mass fell in; I could feel it being subjected to violent, twisting wind and conflicting temperatures. Gripping the Rift, I pulled back as hard as I could, but gravity seemed to work differently between worlds, and favored me going through the portal.

“Shit.”

With a yell I was sucked through, and I blacked out.

- - - - -

Department of Metahuman Affairs, New Hampshire Branch

K.I.A. Report

Subject Serial Number: 6043
Subject Name: Joel Nelson
Working Alias: "Dread"
Assigned Task Force: New Hampshire Metahuman Task Force, USA
Approximate Time of Death: 3:30 am, 2/13/2029

Cause of Death: Sucked into dimensional tear generated by Rift device. Ultimate fate unknown, considered dead for foreseeable future.

Additional Notes: After Dread was pulled through the portal, the Rift device was shut down successfully. Had it been allowed to keep running in that manner, it would have exploded and leveled half of Gloucester. Dread's file has been forwarded to the Dimensional Combing Branch, Search and Rescue Division. However, as with anyone subjected to the same fate, the odds of finding the correct dimension are astronomically low.

- - - - -

Princess Luna stood upon her balcony, completely lost in her work as she sent beautiful shooting stars across the canvas that was her beautiful night. She smiled as she heard the occasional awed exclamations from the ponies of Canterlot; ponies that worked nights, night owls and the like had become common these days, no longer leaving Luna’s night unseen.

I wish it was that way before… She thought sadly, before shaking her head. Past. That is in the PAST. Leave it… Just leave it…

“Beautiful as always, Luna,” came a voice from behind her. Luna smiled as she heard her dear sister approach from behind. Celestia stood beside Luna, staring up at the stars in wonder. “I only wish I had your natural talent. I could never shape the nebulae so fluidly…”

“It’s not your fault, dear sister,” Luna said. “Together we form a whole; neither can fully perform the other’s duties as well as their own.”

Celestia extended a wing and wrapped it around her sister, lovingly. “Being unable to form nights of such splendor is just one of many reasons I missed you so…”

Luna nuzzled her sister in response. “Though I suppose having to share your desserts wasn’t one of them?” She joked.

Celestia’s smile fell; she tapped a hoof to her chin in mock-thought. “Hmm… You bring up a good point.” She spread her wings in an overly dramatic flare of authority. “Back to the moon with you!!”

Luna gave an evil laugh. “Nay, sister! Thy precious pastries will be OURS--”

There was a deafening crack that echoed for miles across the sky, causing the two Princesses to jump. The sisters looked out over Canterlot and spotted a strange tear in the sky, painted an impossible number of colors. Lightning arced from the tear as it widened, crackling loudly.

“What is…?” Celestia breathed before extending her wings. “Come, sister! We must ensure this tear doesn’t threaten our subjects!”

Luna nodded and spread her own wings; together, the sisters took off and flew towards the tear. They kept their distance, horns alite, ready to act as necessary. “Can we close it?” Luna called over the crackling rift.

“I don’t know!” Celestia called. “The best we can do is ensure it doesn’t--”

The tear fluctuated; a bolt of lightning arced and nearly hit Luna, but only phased harmlessly through her astral tail. The sisters backed away from the portal warily. “What of the Elements of Harmony?” Luna called. “We can have them retrieved from the Everfree Forest, then Princess Twilight and her friends can seal it!”

“I don’t know if we have that much time!” Celestia called.

“We have to do something!” Luna cried.

“Luna, you must learn that there may not be an immediate solution for everything!” Celestia yelled. “Sometimes, the best we can do is to lessen the damage caused!”

Luna gaped at her sister, then nodded. The pair circled the tear; to Luna’s surprise, it appeared to be… shrinking? “Sister, I think it’s closing!” She called.

“Keep your guard up!” Celestia called back. “It may have further--”

There was a small flash from the portal. A moderate amount of what appeared to be black slime fell from the tear and plummeted to the gardens below.

“...surprises…” Celestia finished.

The tear quivered, expanded slightly, then shrank and vanished. The sisters stared at the spot it had been for a few moments; when nothing else happened, Luna approached Celestia. “I think it’s over…”

Celestia nodded, then looked down at the gardens. “What came out of it?” She asked quietly before glancing at Luna. “We should find out.” Luna nodded, and the pair descended quickly into the gardens. The sisters landed outside the hedge maze, their horns illuminating the area.

“Princess!” A battalion of pegasus guards descended from the sky and landed before the Princesses, bowing respectfully. “We saw the strange rift, your highness! What would you have of us?”

“Some strange black… slime fell from the rift before it closed,” Celestia reported. “We need to find it, ensure it is not harmful to anypony, and discover what it may be.”

“If you find it, call for us immediately,” Luna said. “Nopony is to touch it.”

The guards saluted in perfect unison. “Yes, your majesties!” They said simultaneously before taking to the skies and splitting up, combing the gardens.

Celestia turned to her sister. “Luna, search the hedge maze. I will search the amphitheatre.”

Luna nodded and nuzzled the elder. “Be careful, sister…”

“Always…” Celestia replied before taking off and flying for the amphitheatre. Luna took off and flew low over the maze, flying in an inward spiral, checking every spot in the labyrinth. As she searched, Luna’s thoughts remained on the tear; it appeared to be a portal of some sort, leading to another world… Was this an accident? Did somepony on the far side open it by mistake? Or was it intentional? And if so, what were their intentions? Part of Luna hoped the rift would open again, so she could find out--

Luna gasped as her gaze trailed over the statue of a gryphon, close to the center of the maze; it was draped in a dripping black sludge, almost like a shawl. Luna dropped down to the ground near the statue and drew in a deep breath. “I’ve found it!!” She yelled, marking the first time she’d used the Royal Canterlot Voice in months.

Within seconds, Celestia and the pegasi were there, flying in close formation above the statue. Celestia landed beside Luna. “Well done, sister! Now…” She approached the statue, examining the substance as close as she dared. “It doesn’t appear to be corrosive…” She took in a deep breath and waited for a moment. “...And I’ve yet to believe it is poisonous, at least not from inhalation.” She took a deep breath and lit up her horn. “Be ready…” she said, leaning in close. Luna lit up her horn, and the pegasi above braced themselves.

Celestia prodded the substance with a small magical field. The substance didn’t react. Celestia prodded it a few more times, then attempted to take a portion of it. When she pulled, however, she frowned. “What is it, sister?” Luna asked.

“Strange, I… I cannot… I cannot take a… sample…” Celestia said strainfully as she pulled at the dripping strand of slime. Finally, she gave up, letting the strand dangle loosely from the statue. “It appears to be a single organism…”

Luna prodded the substance with her own magic. “Strange…” she said, almost fascinated. She lifted the strand and turned it over in her magic, examining it from every angle. “It… appears to be a liquid, but I can… sense something… Sister, this substance, it… It’s alive!

Celestia took a separate strand and examined it. “...I believe you’re right, Luna… I can certainly feel something within… A certain presence...”

A smile dawned on Luna’s face as she examined the substance closer. “I believe I… yes, yes! Celestia, I think… I think it’s dreaming! It’s actually dreaming! Perhaps I can--”

“No!” Luna jumped and released the strand before turning to Celestia. “No…” Celestia said, softly. “We may know the creature is alive, but we still don’t know what it is, what it can do… We’ll hold it in containment for now, we’ll keep a close watch on it. We need to learn what it is, where it came from, and what it intends to do.” She turned to the substance. “Souls come both light and dark…”

Author's Note:

Aaaaaand we've made ponyfall.

Tags will be added as necessary. ("Meaning you haven't planned this story out past this point.") SHHHH!!