• Published 3rd Feb 2014
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TiM: The Truth in Meanings - Twidashforever



TiM #1: If you had the power, how far would you go to save a friend, and would they hate you for it? Would you hate you for it? Actions have consequences and we are not always the ones who pay the price.

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Define: Safeguard

Chapter 25 Define: Safeguard

Ponyville

With a one hour preparation time the five friends quickly got to work, Fluttershy spent most her time attaching bandages to a very stubborn Princess of the Night. Only after an application of ‘The Stare’ was Fluttershy actually able to get her to lie still. When questioned, Luna revealed that the diplomatic mission she went on in the south did not go over too well. Griffins were incredibly stubborn creatures, they had a fierce pride in them that bordered on egotistical. Pinkie and Fluttershy could only nod in agreement, as each had a run in with a certain griffon all those years ago.

Well as it turns out, the only thing a griffon loves more than its pride, is its family. The mission was already off to a rocky start when Princess Luna arrived. After a few days of intense discussion with the Griffon Emperor; Siros, it seemed as if things would finally work out for the best. Except, in a rather unfortunate turn of events, one of the guards overheard the more ‘delicate’ topics of conversation and quickly leaked it to the citizens of the empire that a Princess of Equestria was responsible for the dead children.

With a convenient target to blame even if it was the wrong one, the citizens took up arms, demanding that Luna be held accountable, the topic of which princess was responsible failed to matter. They wanted vengeance, not justice. Siros was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He knew Luna had nothing to do with it personally. He also knew that Luna could not be killed, lest they lose the night and wish to declare war against Equestria (as well as royally piss of another alicorn sister).

Ever the diplomat, he proceeded to walk a very fine line. He put on a show of arresting Princess Luna, calming the fears of his people and giving them a relief for their anger. He would then release Luna later, after this tragedy was over and calmer heads could prevail. His plan almost worked; however, Emperor Siros was quickly caught up in speeches and press releases. He never had the opportunity to inform Princess Luna of his plans in full; he never had the opportunity to go see her. The next night, the moon rose from the west.

This was Luna’s signal that she was in trouble, her night guard arrived the next moonrise. A squadron of ten bat ponies swooped into the city. They had trained hard in stealth, evasion, and night fighting. Making them the perfect operatives for busting out their princess. As usual, no plan survives contact with the enemy. They succeeded in freeing Luna, but on her way out of the country, every single one of her guards was lost. They gave their lives in order that their Princess of the Night would escape.

Siros was stuck; he had gambled everything and lost. When the inevitable reports hit the streets, his citizens would demand blood. The war criminal had escaped, countless guards were slain in her breakout. Siros had no choice but to order a full-scale assault to bring her back to justice. Siros knew Luna was not responsible, he knew that this would solve nothing, but his citizen’s demanded blood and knew that if he did not give it to them they would take his in return. Siros’s gambit had effectively declared war on Equestria.

It was only after pausing to rest in a pre-designated safe zone that Luna learned the truth. A single scout was sent ahead of the griffon forces with a letter addressed to the princess. Siros did not want this war; he knew it would cause untold suffering and accomplish nothing. He just had no choice in the matter. If he did not follow the will of his citizens they would find someone else who would. He told Luna not to turn around, after previous night's events his citizens would try to kill her on sight.

Luna considered this, she would not let herself be taken prisoner as it would accomplish nothing. Her only option was to warn her sister and all of Equestria. Ponyville was closer than Canterlot, as such Spike was the quickest way to do that. In her condition, she would not make it to Canterlot anyway.

Applejack sighed when she heard the story. Like it or not, she supposed that Luna had made the right call. She quickly took lead, the griffins would be here soon and they needed to be prepared. Fortunately, after several years living with the Heros of Equestria, Ponyville had a rather unique disaster preparation program. It had been implemented and designed by Princess Twilight herself, as no town could survive so many attacks from every threat ranging from an out of control alicorn to full on dragon attacks without such a system.

“Pinkie go tell the mayor we have a code 11-b, then do what you can to keep everypony calm.”

“Ma’am, yes ma’am!” Pinkie saluted her ‘commander’ and took off. Within seconds, sirens blazed in the distance making a very particular screeching noise that every Ponyville resident would immediately recognize and respond too. Weekly drills ran by a Twilight had paid off a hundred fold over the years.

The stricken alicorn princess asked, “Code 11-b?”

“An emergency signal pre-programmed by Twilight. It's an indication that a spell has caused at least one building to come alive and start eating things. Anypony who hears it should immediately seek out a designated shelter and stay put until the all clear single is given.” Fluttershy said, wrapping another gauze strip around the princess's cut leg.

Princess Luna scoffed at that, “Such an event is absurd! That cannot possibly have happened enough times to require its own signal!”

Fluttershy and Applejack simply looked at each other.

“Oh.” That one glance told Luna all she needed to know about how many times ‘that’ had occurred.

“Ponyville is a strange place dear.” Rarity spoke, matter-of-factly.

“Will the shelters be enough?”

“Oh yes, Twilight designed them herself. Even she was unable to break into one.” Spike replied.

Luna considered the implications of that for awhile, ‘If they could keep an alicorn of Twilight's level out.’

Applejack soon interrupted her thoughts. “Rarity, when Fluttershy finishes with Princess Luna, take her to one of the shelters. Stay there until the all clear single is given.”

“What about you and Spike?”

“Me and Applejack are staying, this is our town, when Twilight gets back I will make sure that it's still here for her.” Spike stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Rarity.

“Then I'm staying too.”

"Me too… if you don't mind that is.”

Spike replied calmly, “No, to both of you.”

“But-”

“No buts Rarity, nopony is as reliable as Applejack when it comes to a fight and I'm a dragon. If those griffons think they can just walk in here and take our friends, our town away, I will teach them the error of their ways.”

“I want to hel-”

“No, if I was worried about you the whole time. It would put us in too much danger. I can only do this if I know that you are safe.”

“He's right Rarity, I'm almost finished here and we should get going.” Fluttershy accepted this turn of events and tried to comfort her friend.

“But I will be worried about your safety. Pinkie promise you will come home to me.” Rarity looked into Spike's eyes with tears coating her fur.

“As long as I have you to come home to, there is nothing they could do to stop me.” Spike picked her up in his arms and kissed her. After a few minutes, they broke apart.

“Are you finished, Fluttershy?”

“Yes, we can go now.”

Rarity sighed and made her way out of the door. She paused and looked back at the dragon she so loved, the friend she was leaving in danger, and the princess she helped save.

“Fine, but if I can’t fight, I'll make sure my friends are safe from harm.” A book came back to Rarity's mind, an old book about the fashions of old she had borrowed from Twilight. It did not give her the designs she had hoped for, but it did have one thing in it that she was sure would come in useful now.

Rarity readied her spell and shot all three of them with her new magic. The results were beyond any pony's expectations.

……………………………

Emperor Siros was not happy, he hoped that Luna would make it all the way back to Canterlot; he hoped that his army would arrive at a fortified city. Had that been the case, he could calm every griffon down. Siros could negotiate, he could have saved face and turn his army around before any life was lost. Once again, Princess Luna had failed to live up to his plans. In truth, he could not blame her; it was not her fault he was so wrapped up in the press of the events that Siros did not make it to her cell. It was not her fault his forces caught wind of her jailbreak at the worst possible time. It was not Luna’s fault that she crashed in this small abandoned town within eyesight of Canterlot. Scratch that, this ‘freshly’ abandoned town within eyesight of Canterlot.

He was quite impressed with the report he received from his scouts. In a matter of minutes after crashing in a barn near the outskirts of town, Luna managed to evacuate an entire town's worth of ponies into shelters. It was a little odd that they had such an effective evacuation system in place. If there were some way to resolve this situation peacefully, he would seek to learn how they did it and how they designed such an effective shelter system. It would be useful to protect his citizens from the constant dragon threat they faced. Right this second, that was a pipe dream. He had Luna surrounded in the same barn she crashed in and he had to play his role.

“To the criminal Princess Luna of Equestria, for crimes against the citizens of the Griffin Empire, including, but not limited to, escaping arrest, murder of your guards, and the murder of innocent children. I, Emperor Siros, by the authority of our treaties, hereby order you to surrender yourself to my forces.” It sounded good on paper, something for the history books to remember, He knew it was all a lie. Luna had not commented any of those acts, not unjustifiably at least.

Their response left him speechless. Within seconds of giving his ultimatum, the barn doors burst open. Out stepped a sight he never imagined he would see, a pony and a dragon. The pony was obviously a mare; she had long blond mane and an orange coat. Although he could only guess at her cutie mark as this pony was in full orange battle armor. He assumed it was three apples as that design was engraved over the shoulder guards at each of her four legs and her breastplate. The armor itself shown with a flair that only one that was interested in fashion could hope to achieve, however, its effectiveness was not in doubt.

He had seen metal like that before only in history books. It was Dragon Steel Armor. Steel forged in dragon’s flame and treated with the hardest gems around. The net effect was a substance that would block almost any attack thrown against it; it was the rarest form of metal possible. Having only heard about it in books and legends, Siros could only assume that the dragon next to her had spent his whole life making their suits.

If the pony had been impressive, the dragon overshadowed her in every way. This dragon was an adolescent; he could only assume it had hatched in the last decade. He was still taller than any griffon Siros commanded. His Dragon Steel Armor protected him from tail to head. There were a few joints a well-placed blade could slip through. Based on his very impressive wingspan those would not be easy to hit. However, unlike the ponies’ armor that matched her coat. This dragons armor was white, with three diamonds decorating his shoulder guards and chest plate.

Siros could only hope that these were the best of the best, an advance strike team sent by Canterlot to protect their princess. If that was not the case, if Equestria had more forces like this, his entire army would be decimated.

The pony spoke first “We heard’ ya, and let me give ya’ a counter offer, go home, nothing has happened yet that can’t be forgotten.”

Siros had a reply to that, he was going to go off on a tirade against the princess, he was going to declare her ‘crimes against all griffon kind’ such a moral travesty that this was his only option. What came from his beak was something very different. “I… cannot, my citizens’ demand her brought back. I'm their leader; I have to follow their will.”

‘That was odd, why did I tell her that?’

“Why are we listening to this? There are only two of them!”

Siros made a mental note that if that soldier survived he would receive a public flogging.

The dragon gave their reply, stretching out his claws in a manner that left no doubt as to what would happen next.

The barn exploded with raw magical energy, inside was the Princess of the Night, armored in full night-black Dragon Steel, her moon cutie mark engraved on her shoulders and breastplate.

“If this is what’s to occur, we shall join the battle as well!”

The moon went dark and the battle began in earnest.

…………………………..

Spike shot through the griffon battalion, his speed and size made him a very big threat to them. Griffons were fast and deadly. Their beaks are as strong as steel, their claws sharp enough to cut through rock. None of that was a threat to Dragon Steel. Rarity’s parting gift was worth several times its weight in gold. In truth he did not know what it was. He was touched by the gift and very grateful to his love for it. It was only after she left that Luna had informed them all of the truth of their new armor. This armor was the rarest in the world. Even in Luna’s time it had been a legend, How Rarity had created it? How she even knew of it? Those were questions for another time.

His plan worked, over half the forces followed him into the sky, his sky. Griffons were fast, he even remembered about one called Gilda, apparently she had been able to keep up with Rainbow Dash of all ponies. However, his wingspan made Spike faster. His armor seemed to increase his speed. ‘Maybe it's a property of the Dragon Steel?’ That made sense; if dragons originally designed this steel, it seemed logical that it would enhance their abilities as well. with the moon obscured as it was, only those with night vision, or wearing a Dragon Steel helmet could effectively see. Of course, he had one more advantage they did not, dragon fire.

Luna and Applejack raced along the ground, they would split the remainder of the enemy forces between them, keep them evenly divided between earth and sky. It would leave Spike alone with the bulk of the forces, but he insisted. Luna was too weak to fly and fight even with the armor, she would serve best in support of Applejack. Luna had taken on the form of Nightmare Moon, she hated this form, but in war as in theater, theatrics could change the tides.

………………

For Rarity, every minute that went by was an eternity of worry and suffering, so far she had lived through ten such eternities. Rarity had seen a fair share of violence in her life, well beyond her fair share. Those times, she had been there with her friends, with Twilight. It never occurred to her before how much she trusted the alicorn. As long as Twilight was there, as long as the most powerful unicorn turned alicorn was by their side, Rarity never doubted they would make it through. She was never that concerned for their safety. This time, this time was different, Twilight was off doing Celestia knows what, Celestia knows where. This time Rarity and all of Ponyville had to fend for themselves. This time she had someone to lose.

“Rarity, we should be in a shelter.”

“Nonsense, you can’t see anything from those things, what if Spike needs me?”

“Rarity.”

Fluttershy could see Rarity’s face from the reflection of the window. She had been watching the fight for ten minutes ever since it started, never turning away from the window in her bedroom. This event would leave wrinkles on Rarity’s face that no amount of spa time would ever fix. Rarity went from worried to relieved, back to worry every time the fire in the pitch-black sky lit up. Fluttershy had never seen Rarity like this before; she truly loved that dragon. Fluttershy had been confused on why they did not go to the shelter; Rarity would not be talked out of it. She went home and led them both to her window. At first Rarity had insisted that Fluttershy continue on, her reply still rang around Rarity’s head

“I go where you go.”

Few ponies knew just how strong Fluttershy could be, she did not want to lose any of her friends, not again. Rarity was one such pony who knew of Fluttershy’s more ‘assertive’ side. Yes the mare was the kindest she would ever know. The Elements of Harmony had chosen well. Yet, when her friends were at stake, when lives were on the line; Fluttershy could and has frightened fully-grown dragons. There would be no convincing her to leave Rarity’s side at a time like this.

Suddenly Rarity shattered the window she was looking out with her hoof. “NOOO!” She teleported out of her boutique. Fluttershy caught the end of what Rarity had seen before following her friend.

There, in the distance, she could make out the green dragon fire sputtering and dying out as its source fell from the sky.

………………

Spike fell, ‘Thats odd, I don’t remember getting hit,’ he thought. That did not change the fact that he was falling. His wings were flapping, yet he was not rising. A cursory glance over told him that his wings were what had been hit. The enemy had put a large gash down the membrane of his wings. ‘Hmm, guess I can’t feel it, wish I could say the same about the ground.’ He did his best to shield his head from the impact, but the ground would not be denied. They collided together with a loud ‘thud’.

Rarity had never run so fast in her life. She pinkie promised herself right then and there that as soon as Rainbow Dash got back she would ask the mare for endurance training. Rarity knew it would be hell, the cyan pegasus would use that opportunity as payback for every time Rarity had her try on a dress. Yet, at that moment, she did not care. This was worse than any pain ‘exercising’ could give. Along the way she failed to notice a yellow pegasus following her through the air. Rarity’s only concern was the dragon that she loved, the one that just collided with the ground and even now had a squad of griffons charging after him. They were ready to pin her Spiky-Wikey to the ground with their spears.

Against all odds, Rarity got there first.

……………

‘Wow that hurt. How does Rainbow always manage to get back up so easy after such a fall?’ Spike tried to stand, he knew flying was impossible right now, given time, his wings might heal, but time was a luxury he did not have. Trying to stand informed Spike of a slight limitation of the armor, yes there was no better armor in existence, yes it had saved his life tonight more than he cared to count. However, no armor could save his legs from breaking when he fell from several hundred feet up.

Glancing up, he sighed. ‘Sorry Rarity, least I tried to protect you from all this,’ a dozen griffons were coming straight at him, spears pointed down. He knew most would be blocked by his armor. However, some would get through. Spike cried, not at his impending death, but at all that he would leave behind.

Seconds before the spears landed a white figured jumped on top of the stricken dragon, followed closely by a yellow pegasus. Spike shut his eyes before the spears impacted; his last sight was of a crying unicorn laying over him and shimmering yellow wings.

Author's Note:

Poor spike…..

wow I feel like a dick

Expect chapter 26 out monday (I have a busy weekend ahead of me)

Thanks goes out to Shielded Myth for help editing.

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