• Published 6th May 2014
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After the End - Door Matt



Jason Wright, bitter after surviving his lowest point, will make a deal with the devil to get the answers he craves. Whether Ponyville is ready for him, or not.

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Devour

“What the HAY have you done!?”

Applejack’s scream from behind me is music to my ears. I'm almost tempted to turn around, but then I might miss the spectacular light show about to unfold ahead of me, so I keep my eyes glued to Ponyville.

My creation is startling, almost as if a shooting star from the heavens is now bearing down on the quaint little town. It’s hard not to smile, knowing that even this barely scratches the surface of Discord’s abilities. Nice and slow with progression is how I'm taking it; I haven’t a clue if I can burn myself out merely by being too chaotic. He’s had an eternity to practice. I've had all of half an hour.

Just when it seems the centre of town is about to become a smoking crater, the fireball spectacularly explodes a good fifty feet in the air. My puzzlement instantly becomes bemusement when I notice a lavender shimmer ripple outwards from the blast, lighting up the surrounding landscape like a burst of sunlight. It doesn’t last for long, but the slight curvature of the shimmer gives the game away. The town is deliberately shielded. Quite likely a recent addition.

And who specializes in barrier spells?

We’ll see how strong that shield is.

At my urging, moisture in the air begins to freeze. Another thought, and the newly formed icy clumps mould themselves into rods, with the heads serrated into pointed edges. I didn’t specifically think of a number, but an impressive count of icicles - each one almost as big as I am - now hover in the sky above me. Even the switch from a heated object to cold doesn't make me break sweat.

“Mister! You stops this nonsense right now before somepony gets hurt!”

“Forget it Fluttershy. He stopped listening back there in the forest. Remember what ah said and don't get too close.” This time I do cast over a passing glance to the two of them. Finally, I have their attention. This is what I had to do to get these supposedly "friendly" ponies to look at me with any ounce of respect. So it's very much without hesitation that I break into a grin and motion for them to pay close attention ahead with my thumb.

One by one, the lethal icicles plunge towards their target. I’m not expecting the first to break through, and indeed they do shatter upon smashing into the shield - the latter flashing up clear as a beacon with each concurrent impact. But I’m not done yet. As the strikes continue, I deliberately keep one icicle behind, building more layers of frozen water around it. Within no time at all, it’s roughly the size of a full grown dragon.

One of the ponies behind me is yelling something, but I’m far too focused on my task to hear anything but white noise. My weapon stands ready. The barrier, a worthy target. I can almost certainly assume it's not designed to handle anything like this.

Go-

Something in the air changes. I turn my head instinctively.

Wha-...gah! Pain!

My head’s been clipped. The left side of my skull immediately and violently pangs, and my body almost collapsed in shock. Lurching to the side, I regain my control, but the throbbing underneath the skin is already starting to ache. A nasty hit. Whatever caught me had to be travelling with some speed.

“Aww yeah! Gotcha!”

The words trail away into the sky, like the song of passing birds. Through the haze of shock and my smarting head, I just about recognize once again, the individual responsible, her blue body coiling away upwards into the sky. The flying hellion is back for more; clearly I didn't do nearly enough to shake her off back in the forest. And I won’t let her get away with it. Not when she’s can use thunder so effectively against me. Especially since from our last encounter, I’m guessing she doesn’t seem to be aware of how effective it is.
Options run through my head on how to incapacitate her, but time is too short for me to give any a proper think through; she’s already doubling back for another passing strike at me. Earth pony hooves might be strong enough to shake trees, but it appears the pegasi equivalents aren't exactly weak counterparts.

“Look out!”

Fluttershy’s voice, and at first I assume it’s directed at Rainbow to warn her against swatting me twice. That is until the area around me darkens considerably. I turn my vision straight upwards, wondering if the sun has disappeared behind cloud cover again.

Ah.

It’s not the clouds blocking the sunlight. It’s my super large icicle, now free of magical influence and plummeting straight towards me!

Shit! Shit shit shit…

The flight instinct kicks in, and I hit the cylinders, pelting across the open grass. The area of shadow grows visibly before my eyes, and for a brief moment, I believe I’m not going to make it. Then my legs find their rhythm, enlarging my strides and bounding me across the shadow line. All that running from Applejack finally pays off.

*BOOM*

The ice smashes into the earth mere seconds after I make it out of the impact zone, the deep rumble of collision reverberating around my ear drums like an explosion in my head. Shaken, I nearly barrel over in the process of stopping.

Too...close...way too freakin’ close…

Now out of danger, I disappointedly realise how unnecessary that rigmarole had been. Raising it upwards again? Hurling it towards Ponyville like I intended? Making that damn thing disappear? All options I had, and didn’t use.

Panic and fear still rule my judgement, and I am really starting to hate that. I just need some time...some time to think for a second!

Rainbow must’ve seen the whole disastrous event up top, but from the way I notice her adjusting her flight direction, it wasn't enough to stop her. This time, I clearly see her fold her wings and dip expertly, to reach what must be close to her top speed for another fly-by. The truly unnerving part is that unless she's attempting to pull off a sonic rainboom in my immediate vicinity, it's nothing like her maximumspeed. And even still, she's mostly a blur in the sky!

She pulls in close enough for me to see the cerise in her eyes, the clearest sign that I’m out of time, and ideas. In alarm, I roll a strong gust of wind from the direction of the forest. The blast hits her just in time, powerful enough to knock her sideways, ruining her trajectory. Disturbingly, she recovers far more quickly than I’d have expected, regaining her aerial balance right away. Whatever practice she’s been undertaking lately has really paid off, unfortunately for me.

Unfortunately for her however, the few extra moments I bought give me an idea. Again she comes at me, but this time I pay real close attention to the distance between us, noting that while the gust didn't stop her, it did serve to halve her speed. Then, at what I hope dearly is the last possible moment, I dodge to my left. With Rainbow’s raised hoof practically grazing the air above my neck, I jerk round at the very next instant to ensure she’s touching ground. And sure enough, she surges away from me skipping dirt at a mad pace to try and propel herself back into the air.

No chance.

The next step she makes connects not me hard earth but with soft mud. And then the next. And every one afterwards, before the lack of momentum absolutely kills her travelling velocity. And with her agility down, comes my ideal window of opportunity.
You’re mine!

At another thought, the ground below her morphs into a quagmire of liquid muck. She yelps and almost topples over into the gunk, just barely flapping her wings fast enough to stay afloat. Suspecting that wasn’t enough, I send the mud surging upwards - blasting it and her into the air. Once clear of the ground, I revert all the gunk back into its original state, nice and solid. The result is a pony-sized lump of earth clumping back down to the floor, with the blue devil trapped inside.

I walk over triumphantly, noticing with mirth that her head is still free to the air; the rest of her entombed in layers of compacted dirt that’s far too heavy for her lightweight body to free itself from. She splutters, clearly not able to process what just happened.

“Wha...hack...gah! How did you...that’s not fair!” emerges in-between the coughing.

“Not fair!?” I fume. “What’s not fair around here is my treatment. My well-being! You have NO idea how terrified I am of you and what you used to do to me! What you nearly did again!”

I almost lose it into shouting, but the left side of my head is throbbing again. Reaching up, my fingers find a trail of blood leaking down my hair and onto my skin. It’s by no means a debilitating injury, but certainly striking.

“Look at this! You did this!” I yell, thrusting my hand forward so she can’t miss the crimson liquid upon my fingertips. “All I get from you is pain, and torment! For what reason, huh!?”

“You had my friend! And you really thought I was gonna let you smash up Ponyville? What sorta pony would I be if I didn't try and stop you!” she says defiantly.

“NOT NOW!” I roar, beyond caring that my blood is boiling over. “Before! All the months I was here! You treated me like I was a beast or something-”

“You don’t belong here!” she shrieks, wailing in vain against her prison. “Isn't it obvious? Look at ya! You’re not a pony! Where are you even from!? Nopony forced you to stay here, so you shoulda moved on ages ago! Can’t you get a simple hint?”

“Rainbow! Ya alright?” calls out across the grass. Applejack steps out from behind the giant block of ice, possibly ready to try and charge in to save her friend. Fluttershy has disappeared, but right now I don’t care where she’s gone. Probably back to her cottage to hide it out. Brave sometimes, but a coward first and foremost.

“I’m kinda stuck here!” she grunts in another pointless effort to escape. “But yeah, I’m okay. Get me outta here so I can take this jackoff down-”

“Ah think you should shut yer yap and let me handle this. Jason? Just stop and listen to me for a second now. Ah mean it.”

Aghast, I ignore the farmer and turn back to Rainbow; her words swirling around my head, constantly repeating, stinking up my thoughts like a bad odour.

Don’t belong...not a pony...shoulda moved on…

So, as I sorta suspected all along. Simply because I wasn't one of them. Just cause I was different, and new, and scary. Oh, I am so done with this place. Done with them. Done with all of it. They can all see what that shared attitude has won them.

“I hope you like being hostages,” I mutter.

“Huh? Woah-!” is all Dash gets out before she lifts into the air. Immediately I turn to AJ, ripping up the ground from underneath her before she can move. A ten-foot wide chunk of earth leaves the ground, leaving her gripping on for dear life with her hooves. In mere seconds, she’s at a height that’d prove fatal should she fall. And then I turn off my own gravity, suddenly feeling weightless as my body lifts into the sky steadily. Far beyond the height of Ponyville’s tallest building, until the entire town and surroundings can be seen clearly by all three of us. Canterlot’s mountain to our right still towers over ourselves and the landscape, but this height is good enough in my opinion.

A bird’s eye view is often the best one for a spectacle.

This town is toxic. It’s inhabitants, hypocrites. Where else exactly was I supposed to go? Ponyville is supposed to be the most utopian spot on the map, and I’m meant to assume I’d get better treatment elsewhere? Canterlot, where even being a pony can get you judged and discredited by acting out of turn? The woods? Effectively surviving as a savage for the end of my days, like I'd been effectively forced to do for over a year? Or even into the cold embrace of wherever dark hole the Changelings call home?

No way. No how.

Damn the lot of them. I thought I could show them the error of their ways by suicide, forcing them to notice I was gone forever. How...dumb. Had Applejack not wandered along at random, my body would've been eaten by wolves or picked apart by birds within days. Flesh on a stick for the benefit of others. And those in town that would’ve noted my disappearance would’ve been glad for it. No more ugly human to stink up the place. The rest? Probably didn’t even know I was still around anyway. Too busy with their little perfect lives. Too self-absorbed to notice the suffering of a non-entity. I gave up everything back home to live alongside them. Everything!

All the little dark thoughts polluting my mind brings me to one logical conclusion. The only reasonable way this was ever going to end, especially with my powers at hand. Maybe Discord knew it would lead to this after all. Who knows?

They’ll have to re-draw the maps after today.

I start with the shield. If the town is blocked so well from above, I wonder if the same could be said from below? Turning my attention to the earth below, I decide to test the limits of my capabilities just that much further. Something on a far grander scale.

Think bigger..

A dull boom murmurs from the earth, signalling the emergence of something massive down in the crust. It moves almost immediately, folding and warping the ground visibly above it. A wavy line of crushed soil appears, scarring the fields and criss-crossing over paved roads, drawing closer and closer to the town itself.

“Hey! What is that!?” yells Rainbow, positioned in a way so that she can’t miss anything.

“Ah’m telling you Jason, we can talk about this!” Applejack calls above the wind, still clinging onto her solid perch, desperately avoiding looking down. “RD got a little headstrong, but she does that! Ah’ll admit I got a little angry back there too, and ah apologize for that! If you let us go and stop this tomfoolery, ah promise I’ll do whatever ah can to see ya right!”

Hollow words, and I don’t waste the time to answer back. What happens next should be too good to miss.

Just before the edge of the barrier, the line stops, and the deep rumbles fade to nothing. I shift the three of us a little closer - as if carried by the breeze - hovering at a close enough distance to pick out a few small figures, emerging from various houses to investigate all the disturbances. The unlucky first few.

Watch the centre.

“Watch the centre,” I mutter to my hostages.

The grassy pentagon - the focal point of all of Ponyville’s little streets begins to bubble and churn; the soil underneath liquefying into mush. Green grass disappears into the turmoil, until the area of effect stretches outwards almost to the dwellings that surround the plaza. And then it’s all gone, replaced by a monstrous and huge circular mouth lined with the sharpest teeth this side of dragon lands. It rises and rises, until more of the body emerges from the turbulent earth - now recognizable as a humongous and terrifying predatory worm. The sounds coming from that thing...eurgh...ghastly!

The first screams begin -pinging my ears in the stiff wind - not loud up here but definitely panic-inducing down there. The denizens of the surrounding properties flee the scene, some pegasi are even flying to escape the bedlam. I’ll admit I’m briefly curious to see the whole town devoured by an alien creature totally unknown to them, but I have something better in mind.

Rather more ‘showy’ in fact.

“No...ya gotta stop this! There are families down there!” Applejack barks out.

“Like I said, watch the centre,” I shrug, pointing to the worm, the impact of her statement passing by in the breeze.

The lethal set of jaws halts, and then retreats, reversing back down into the dark until only the hole remains. It's job done, the beast not of this world fades away to nothing unseen. The peace lasts long enough for a few brave souls to venture back, circumnavigating the void now occupying the centre of town.

Cue the fireflies.

A chorus of tiny lights flickers into life somewhere in the darkness, and too, rises above and out of the hole. There are no screams this time, in fact I see barely any movements from the ponies at all. Hard to tell from this angle, but it might just be a beautiful sight from their point of view, transfixing all that see it. Noticing that the existing sunlight is spoiling the effect somewhat, I subtly cover over all remaining breaks in the clouds above Ponyville with new ones. And all those little lights sparkle that much brighter.

“That’s...what are those?” asks the imprisoned pegasis.

“It ain’t good, trust me on that! For pony’s sake Jason, ah don’t care what ah have to do! Jus’ tell me what to do and ah’ll do it! Don’t hurt Ponyville!”

The fireflies spread out, creating a magical fountain-like effect from our viewpoints. The vast majority float upwards, and then gently settle on the outsides of buildings, as if decorating them for a national holiday.

Too late.

“Too late.” I state, and show her my middle finger.

In a matter of instants, the light show transforms into a firestorm. Every single stationary firefly ignites and bursts, unleashing discharges of flame from every point of contact. The wind takes over the rest, spreading the licks of fire over wooden surfaces, igniting all of it in their wake. The screams are back, as are the mad evacuations of anyone close to danger. More fool them for sticking around.

“Oh...no…” Applejack’s tearing up, agawp at the inferno below. Rainbow simply struggles even more, desperation taking over.

“You bastard! Get me outta here!” she screams.

The wind catches one of the few remaining bugs, flying out of the hellish centre and straight into Ponyville’s town hall. Within a minute of it crashing and exploding on the roof, the entire building is hidden beneath its own fire. Some ponies that had taken refuge inside stream outwards, joining a mass exodus that leads southward, away from the buildings. And towards our direction.

The sky turns angry - fuelled by smoke from the wreckage - casting a deadly orange hue. It’s only the centre of town at the moment, but with every building outwards that gets caught by flame, I feel more and more justified. Anything that remains standing once the fires go out, I can deal with in my own time however I please. Soon there’ll be nothing here but ash, and all the ponies who lived here will know that I did it to them, to pay them for their so wonderful hospitality.

*cough* *hack* “I...can’t breathe!”

Dash is suffering from all the smoke blowing our way, and even I’m not committed enough to cruelty to let her suffocate to death. Not if she behaves herself from now on. But the heat is starting to reach us up here, and before long I know we’ll be practically sweltering in the haze.

Carefully, I increase the gravity on all of us, decreasing our altitude below the elevating fumes. The view was incredible from up there, but like any old boring human, I guess I belong at ground level. Can't live in the sky after all.

As it turns out, I’ve picked a rather choice spot for us to descend to.

Most of Ponyville’s residents have gathered near us, right on the edge of town. The vast majority are staring back at their burning town, but a few have clearly cottoned on to the three levitating figures now descending nearby. Though still a fair distance away, I can spot more than a few furious glares aimed right at me. What an amazing painting that would make, the view from here right now. The congregation of a population too willing to turn a blind eye to the troubles of one not of their own, and their precious homes, livelihoods and memories going up in smoke before their very eyes. The colours as well, dare I say it, are simply fantastic.

“Oof!” Rainbow’s prison touches down, and Applejacks platform cracks and breaks upon contact. If she’s hoping those tears are going to extinguish those fires, she’s going to need a lot more than that.

“Hey! Is that you Applejack? What’s going on here?” yells a n unremarkable earth pony, the first to approach our position.

“No! Get back! It’s not safe!” she yells, finding the energy to move forward a few steps.

Stay where you are.

“Stay where you are!” I shout, already formulating a response. If she escapes now, I’m gonna be furious. Vines from the soil curl upwards, taking hold of all four of her legs, and latching her still before she can attempt to bolt to the others. She tugs a few times, but quickly accepts her position of helplessness.

The entire crowd has noticed us now. Close to two hundred ponies of all races face me like a wall. Some are crying. Some have murder in their eyes. A few are sporting burn injuries. All I know is, I am loving it!

Finally, after three long and undeserved years, I have them exactly where I want them. Acknowledging me at last.

“Hello!” I yell, waving. “Most of you’ve probably seen me before, but I doubt you know my name. Would anyone like to hazard a guess?”

Absolute silence, save for the crackles of fire in the background and the flaps of a few disgusted wings.

“No? Jason Wright. Human." I say, thumping a fist into my chest. "And I’ve got a question for all of you. Where is Twilight Sparkle?”

“Don’t tell him anything!” shouts Rainbow to the crowd. “Fleetfloot! Cloud Chaser! You’re on water duty! Get up there and do something about those fires!”

Two pegasi from within the mob lift off without question and scream upwards. I stare after them briefly, wondering if I should do anything about it. Probably not. They can’t do much now, and I need to be here.

“Okay, see, I don’t think you guys quite understand. I have two of your Elements here, and unless you want life for them to get very unpleasant, I suggest someone starts answering that very simple question.” I say directly to the mass of ponies.

A few nervous glances I catch tells me that has got them thinking. Any second now, one of them is going to decide to do the smart thing.

*BOOM*

Something large and explosive detonates behind the cluster of buildings that I can see, launching a stream of flaming missiles upwards. One, heads our way, and piledrives directly into one of the closest and more noticeable buildings near our border of the town: Carousel Boutique.

Honestly, even knowing exactly what that structure consists of and what lies inside, I’m kinda shocked at how quickly it kindles.

“Oh my gosh! SWEETIE!”

A white unicorn known to everyone around rushes from the horde around her and towards the fading structure, screaming in anguish.

Oh crap. Sweetie Belle’s in there? I didn’t...I don’t mean for anyone to suffer like that...trapped and burning alive. No-one that didn’t deserve it, and I never really saw her or her friends during my time here. I wouldn't do that..not to kids...

I prepare to simply dissipate the flames surrounding her home, when something blue catches my eye to the west. A huge wall of water appears from nowhere - a tidal wave that soars above the rooftops. From the left, it sweeps over homes and trees alike, apparently sticking within the town's borders and swamping all the fires it touches. Carousel Boutique is soon struck, leaving behind a structure just about managing to stay upright. Soon after, the wave travels on over the rest of Ponyville, shutting off every orange glow it finds. I didn’t summon that, and I’m pretty sure pegasi can’t do that, which only leaves…

Could it be?

A purple figure emerges from the steam, and for a few seconds, I truly believe I’m going to get what I came for at last. And then she speaks.

“You there! How dare you cause so much devastation! Trixie is proud to call this place her honourary home, and I will not stand by and let you wreck it!”

Oh for…

I can’t believe it’s her, even still wearing that damn outfit. I knew she was capable of a few impressive tricks, but that? Actually kinda impressive.Did she manage to find another water-tower around here?

Rarity comes back into view too, this time clutching her little sister tightly, shielding her from the worst of the burning. To my slight horror, it looks like half of Sweetie’s mane is missing, either torn or singed off.

Suddenly, I feel completely at a loss of what to do. I want them to suffer, I don’t want this place to exist anymore...it’s their fault I’m like this! I shouldn’t have needed to have caused all this! I didn’t want to see ponies hurting like this...especially not the kids. More than a dozen litter the crowd, and the look on their faces chills me to my core. The adults I can deal with. Not them.

They should’ve thought of that.

“WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU!?” I hurl towards the crowd, grabbing all their attentions once more. “I loved this place once! I couldn’t believe I was going to get to live here! You know how lucky that made me feel?!”

Blank stares. Just...blank. Before I know it it my fists are clenched and I’m resisting the urge to punch the ground.

“Am I really that bad to you? I know I don’t fit in like you, but I wanted so hard just to try! To have a chance! To have-”

I am silenced. Something on Canterlot Mountain to the north-east glows but for a second. I caught it, and now everyone turns to look at what shut me up. Was that something in the city? A message? A signal? Something else…

“She’s coming.”

Oh.

It’s been a crazy old day. It would have to be at that moment when I’m utterly close to a breakdown that I finally find what I’m looking for. The voice is almost reassuring, in a weird way. Maybe now, the worst is over.

First things first.

So I do it. I turn around to face the pony brave enough to stand so close to me and look at me like no pony here has for the longest time.

Face to face with Twilight Sparkle at last.


“Jason...Wright...am I pronouncing that correctly?”

“Y-yeah. Sure are. And I guess I better call you Princess Celestia like everyone else around here huh?”

“Oh pish posh. The sound of that title gets old after a thousand years. It would be very nice you know to have someone around who just calls me Celestia, if I may be perfectly frank with you.”

“Ahem...”

“Oh...yes...apart from you Luna.”

“T’is understandable. You must understand Mister Wright, that even we in all our longevity have never come across a being such as you. Please excuse our initial hesitation in approaching you with formalities, for we knew not what you were.”

“Indeed. Though you do bear a slight similarity in poise and stature to an old foe of ours, but hopefully you won’t run into him too often.”

“Oh...aha….that bad is he?”

“Not...’bad’ I would say. Not now anyway. But still unpredictable I am afraid. Thankfully, he is looked after now by very capable hooves.”

“Sister, we should will all haste discuss accommodation, lest our guest think he is to be left among the wolves in the forest!”

“Naturally, I was getting there! Jason, as eager as I am to spend more time with you, I must confess you cannot stay here in the castle. Too many have seen you here, and to keep you within these walls would demonstrate an air of secrecy and conspiracy to our citizens. If you would be willing, you are free to make a home for yourself outside among the wider world of ponies. I can assure you, they are most friendly, and you'll find our world a most agreeable place to stay!”

“If the populace can forgive somepony like me of her transgressions, then I am certain they will accept a strange ape like you.”

“Luna!”

“Haha, it’s alright! If you have faith, then I have faith. Actually sorta excited to meet peo...hm, excuse me...ponies around here.”

“You are considering Canterlot itself? I must admit, it can be a hectic place for newcomers.”

“Well actually, I did spot a faint town when I was looking out of the balcony earlier. To the west I think?”

“Aha! I am not surprised! Celestia and I are well accustomed to that place; truly it holds a special place in our hearts.”

“Quite right. Believe it or not Jason Wright, but that town is more dear to us than you might hope to guess. A few ponies in particular might catch your eyes and ears down there, but I suspect I better leave them to do their introductions. I wouldn’t want to steal their thunder.”

“Hah...really? I figured I’d seen it all already.”

“Hee hee, you have no idea! Oh! You don’t know its name do you? It is called Ponyville and I simply cannot imagine a more delightful place for you to live your life here.”