• Published 22nd Mar 2012
  • 2,478 Views, 38 Comments

Epona - TankFodder

When several humans survivors of a battle show up in Equestria, they must try to survive.

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Chapter One


Zecora crept through the dark underbrush of the Everfree Forest. In her saddlebags where groceries and other goods from the market in Ponyville, where she had stayed the past few days. Normally, she was not bothered by the oppressive atmosphere of the forest in which she made her home. Tonight, however something felt off.She stopped, and sniffed the air. A coppery scent wafted through the air sickeningly. As she rounded a tree, she came upon a tiny clearing. A dead manticore lay at the other edge of the clearing. It was too dark to see clearly, and Zecora crept closer, to examine the grisly sight. Warning bells went off in her head. The manticore lay on its stomach, when she came closer, she saw the pink its flesh and slivers of its bone underneath. She retched. Whatever had killed it had not stopped there. The manticore had been skinned and carved up, much of the meat was gone, and its body had been stripped of its skin and fur. Zecora scrambled back, and forced herself not to sprint off into the forest. But the blood on the ground was dry, or very nearly so. It had been lying there at least a day, yet nothing had disturbed the scene. As she explored further, she noticed several deep wounds on the manticore, and a metal spike with a broken end was sticking from its gut. A wooden shaft lay nearby, a metal tip extending from the shaft and also broken at the end. A large rectangular wooden panel with a strange design on the front hung stuck from the manticore's barbed tail. Splatters of crimson blood lay around the ground, and followed a trail of scuffed dirt which led back into the forest, in the same direction as her home. She quickly went back for her saddlebags and tripped over a strange object. A piece of armor, much like that which the Canterlot Royal Guard wore. It was made of interlocked metal strips, and what she assumed was the front was indented, with three jagged scratches across the breastplate. It couldn't have been a pony's though, the way it was shaped would put pressure on a pony's chest, and the leg holes were too far to the side. A chill feeling of dread spread throughout her body, and she took off for home. As unlikely as it was, the further she followed the trail, the closer she came to her hut, until she finally came upon the clearing which she called home.

The door was closed, but she could see that the lock had been smashed off at some point, and a strange creature stood just outside. It stood much like Twilight's Spike, on two legs, with two arms coming off of the sides of its torso ending in five stubby appendages that weren't quite claws. It wore a red shirt, which looked as if it had been repaired recently, and carried a long wooden stick with a metal shaft extending from the tip. Very noticeable was the wolf's head draped over its own which made it hard to tell how tall it was, but it had to be at least a foot taller than herself. Zecora looked at it and failed to suppress a gag. The creature suddenly looked up, very alert now, and drew a short blade from its hip. She pressed against the tree she was hiding behind, desperate not to be seen. She saw its face under the hood of the wolf fur, its eyes sweeping the forest, before coming to rest on her own. Zecora froze. Her heart leapt to her mouth as she prayed to the spirits, to Celestia, Luna, to anypony who could save her. The creature shouted, and began to run towards her, she heard crashing inside her hut and others like it began to pile out of the hut. Zecora snapped out of her shock, turned, and fled. Hopefully towards Ponyville, but anywhere away from the demons that chased her would do.

Titus chased the fleeing person. He hadn't gotten a good look at them, but they were short enough to be a child. He panted, a fast child at that. Fast or not, child or not, no one could know where they were. The germans were merciless foes, and would certainly kill the men hiding there if they were discovered. The figure fled tirelessly, but as he chased them, he couldn't shake a strange feeling. The person's cloak concealed their body, but their posture was all wrong, and they moved with an almost unnatural speed and endurance for one so small. He felt himself tiring and had sensed his fellows fall behind a while ago. As he ran, he fumbled in his belt pouch and pulled out a length of braided rope and a smooth, round stone. He came to a stop and fitted the stone in a pouch in the center of the rope, before lifting it up, and twirling it overhead.

Zecora dared for a moment to look back, and almost collapsed with relief when she saw the demon -bareheaded now, when had it discarded it's grisly hat?- come to a stop. She gave it no more mind and concentrated on getting out of the forest now. In fact, she thought she could see the forest's edge now. As she slowed to preserve her strength, she almost heard a slight whistling before a flash of pain exploded in the back of her head.

Titus couldn't help but smile in relief when the escaping barbarian collapsed to the ground. He replaced his sling in his pouch and drew a long dirk, having had discarded his sword during the run. He approached the fallen figure, and stopped. This wasn't a man at all. Underneath the cloak he could see four hooves extending from a long body. Tentatively, he pulled back its hood. And stared. A striped horse lay unconscious on the ground in front of him, too small for a man to ride, and strangely colored with black and white stipes running across its body, but undoubtedly a horse. His first instinct was to kill it and be done with, but a stray thought stayed his hand. This creature wore clothing, it had dropped supplies when he had seen it. No human was there to guide it, but it had run with purpose and direction. It could give him answers. It still breathed, so he half-carried, and half-dragged it back towards the hut they were staying in until he found his comrades once more. Though they were also surprised at its appearance,they helped him carry it back to the hut they had found in the forest without argument.

After some debate, they strapped it upside down to a table, to restrict its movement as much as possible. A gag was placed in its mouth, not so tight as to be painful, not yet anyway, but enough that the men would have some warning if it tried to scream. After some debate, as Marcus, Cassius, and Lucius refused to believe it could be anything more than a dumb animal. However, given that they had just slain a creature of myth just yesterday, and Marcus was wearing its head on his helmet, they were willing to let it go.

The strange Horse woke up some time later, Marcus watched as it struggled against its bonds for a few moments before lifting its head to lead around. Its movements were frantic and panicky, but he thought it seemed too observant to be just a dumb animal. It noticed him in the corner, and its surprisingly large eyes shot wide open, and it began to struggle once again. He waited for it to tire and then cleared his throat.

“I see you're awake.” the strange horse just looked at him. He continued, “can you understand me?” The creature still didn't move, so he shrugged, and turned to the door. “Hey, guys! Its awake!” The creature whimpered through its gag and looked on apprehensively as four other men walked into the side room it was held in. The one who had chased her was not there. One of them walked over and pulled the gag out of her mouth. Although they had at least partly expected it, all of the men were surprised when the horse began to speak in a strange language none of them could understand. She, for the creatures voice did seem feminine, also seemed to speak very rhythmically. They were probably asking the same things of each other, but it didn't help when neither of them could understand a word the other spoke.

Titus crept through the forest, back to where he had caught the striped creature, back to the edge of the forest. It thinned into a light woods, and in the distance he thought he could see a small town through the trees. A path went into the forest of to his right, and led off towards the town, reinforcing his thoughts. He paused, grinning at the new lion skin he wore over his armor, before heading along the side of the path, determined to find out where he and his fellows were. As he passed a fork in the path, he heard singing. Titus couldn't understand the words, but it was beautiful music nonetheless. He turned, and followed the turn and a bend in the path. When he rounded the bend, his draw dropped, and he mouthed a quick prayer to the gods for protection, answers, thanks, anything he could think of, as he tried to make sense of what he was looking at. A true Pegasus floated around in front of him, singing to herself as she tended to a garden beside a quaint cottage. Woodland creatures scurried about, showing no fear, and even helped the pegasus with its chores. The winged horse looked so peaceful, so kind, that he was more than a little bit tempted to simply walk up and introduce himself. A smaller, darker corner of his mind wanted to capture it, and take the honor of owning a creature from mythology. He shut that thought down as quickly as it had come though. For one, the thought just seemed repulsive, particularly compared to the scene he was watching. For two, Titus was on a mission. He turned back down the path, and then towards the town in the distance. As he came to the edge of the woods, he crouched in the bushes, and scanned the town before him, taking great care to remain unseen.

“RUN! EVERYPONY RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!” The ponies of Ponyville looked up, many of them nervously, although Lily would often overreact, she seemed genuinely scared as she galloped screaming through the streets. A rainbow blur streaked down from above and tackled the purple panicky pony to the ground.

“What is it this time Lily?” Rainbow Dash stood over Lily, looking frustrated. Rainbow forced herself not to say anything sarcastic, and in a great feat of restraint, held her tongue further until Lily could explain herself.

True to to form, the pony began gushing hysterically “It was awful, I was going for my walk around Ponyville, when I felt something watching me. I looked around, and there was a manticore, just hiding in the bushes, waiting for me to pass by!” an audible gasp came from the small crowd standing around the scene. The seeds of panick that had been planted began to take root, as the ponies began muttering to each other and looked at the roads out of town as if they were the Everfree forest itself.

Even Rainbow was taken aback at this. In that moment, though, Applejack pushed her way through the crowd. “Aw, horseapples. The Everfree got some nasty critters in it, and it ain't so far away, but they all stay in there. I bet you just saw one of Fluttershy's animals. In fact, just point the way and me an' Rainbow here'll go check it out, just to show you everything's okay.” Rainbow, who was nearly ready to grab Lily and drag her there, simply nodded, and accepted Applejack's idea. Lily lifted herself up from the dirt, and pointed a shaking hoof towards the woods neighboring the Everfree. Which was also where Fluttershy kept her cottage, many of the nearby ponies noted. “Come on Rainbow,” Applejack shouted as she trotted down the path. She was sure it was a waste of time, but she had pretty much promised to go check it out.

Rainbow, apparently determined to at least make something of the task, blew past her at full sprint “Race you there, farm pony!” she called over her shoulder. Applejack chuckled and took off after her. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

Author's Note: So I had an idea for a story, which I started on. But then I had another one, which is this. So... yeah. It's.. uh.. late. I'm gonna go to bed now. (read:deep and insightful comments/thoughts about the story and my experience thinking up/writing it)
Comments/Critiques are appreciated... etc. etc.