• Published 14th Jan 2015
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A State of Darkness - Wing

An ongoing tale of original characters set in an Equestria with secret branches of the well-known guard corps, A State of Darkness revolves around the Wonderbolt DarkOps unit as it protects Equestria from threats both foreign and domestic.

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A Game of Darkness - Installment 20 - The Castle's Call

A starry sky painted the roof of a towering cathedral within which Trigger sat. An argent throne sat above the rows of empty pews, and upon its comfortable black cushion, Trigger waited. Sheets of lavender glass parted the columns of sparkling marble that rose to their inspiring heights. It had been a while since the stallion had ventured here, and it had been even longer since he had acquired a visitor.

The engraved doors of the sanctuary cracked open – their hinges squealing to the rafters – before the familiar form of Princess Luna’s visage graced the creature of reverie. Her teal sights floated higher as her mind once again embraced the vision of Trigger’s birthplace. It had been ages since she had slipped into this realm – one in which she could tread without the burden of royalty, but with the mantle of friendship.

“Greetings, Sir Trigger,” she called once she had taken in enough of his own celestial portraiture. “The creativity ye shared appears just as splendid as it did the last time thou took me as a guest.”

Luna watched the stallion rise from his perch to begin his descent towards the center aisle. She could see his brow fall just below the brim of his trademark Coltston, but it was the lack of any playful quips that hinted to the princess that this appointment was a case of pure business. “Ya won’t be able to shield him from this one. None of us may be able to shield him from this one.”

The alicorn’s feathers, ruffled by the unicorn’s blunt declaration, lifted slightly from the alluring comfort of her body. “Surely, thou art mistaken. We can shield him if we keep him away from the turmoil that looms in Canterlot. Thou art his noble shield, knight of reverie. Verily, your declaration must be false.”

“Lichlos is definitely targeting him, Luna. Our little get-together buckin’ assured it. He chose Manehattan because it’s where the family lives. This isn’t just some paranoid bullshit either. The griffons were actively scouting the city. They showed up at Laizzy Chain’s shop. I’m not keeping that from Wing, and ya know well enough that it will be all that it takes to have him galloping in.

“That shit wasn’t even what really set me off. Conrad kicked me out after he wailed his monologue about magic and his insatiable intention to meet Wing. He capped his rant by namedropping the EHVM, which makes me wonder if he’s just doing some blind stab shit to get a response out of Wing or if he seriously has an inside lead into what happened. He’s a tactician hiding in the shell of a caged animal, one that’s willing to wrangle in other griffons – sworn enemies – just to create a clusterfuck around him.

“He’s a game master who has his beady little buckin’ griffon eyes set on a trophy, and that trophy is Wing. The rules have changed. It wouldn’t matter if Wing were half dead at this point; he’d still find a way to make it to Manehattan. We’re just going to have to change how we protect. We can’t keep him from it, so we’ll have to protect him in it.”

Each statement pushed Luna’s feminine eyebrow closer and closer to the ornate ceiling. Shock staggered through every sentence until the trailing edge of Trigger’s echo died off for the looming silence that followed. For several moments, she practically stood on the tips of her hooves before her regal composure cascaded along the depths of her frame. “We presume thou hast already considered the options, Colonel. Please present them before the Princess of Night.”

“I’ll need something restored,” Trigger answered. “We can’t buck Lichlos off the bat without startin’ a war, but he is here for something that might very well bring one anyway. We’re going to have to go beyond even the standard DT divisions on this one.” The stallion paused for a moment to shift his voice to a tone that came across as surprisingly formal. “Princess, I want the reinstatement of the Mavericks’ Wild.”

Luna studied the flickering fire that burned unwaveringly along Trigger’s steadied irides. The Mavericks’ Wild Brigade was not a name to be tossed around lightly; he might as well have asked for the element wielders themselves – and even that may have been a more reasonable request in the minds of some. In addition to Trigger, the small band of unicorns consisted of Magic Barrier, a captain of the guard who possessed an exemplary combat record; and Twyst, a mercenary who had joined Trigger on more missions than Equestria was willing to admit. And that list didn't even cover the mare...

“Sly fox of reverie,” she answered after turning her back to the pony, “thou troll your princess when thou hast already summoned your companions.”

“It’s just like ya said. The options were considered. I just went and made up my mind before ya even got here. The only reason why I requested this locale is because – given Conrad’s mention of the EHVM – I don’t trust the normal channels worth two shits on Sunday. Barrier and Twyst are headed to Canterlot and should be there come morning. Orders might matter to Barrier, but they don’t apply to Twyst. I just got to love Wing’s conniving concept of plausible deniability. Of course, I’m not going to stand here and step on your hooves; ya have the royal option to interject as ya see fit…”

“Your decisions are made with good intentions, Sir Trigger. We do not see fit to attempt to overrule choices made in the field. Though, perhaps thou should remember to stow your fight with authority in our presence.” Her voice snapped with a crisp bite as her tail swept the floor with an ardent slash. She paused for a moment before Trigger heard the distinct sound of a hushed giggle seep into his domain. “Thou may have your Mavericks’ Wild, but to be sure it does not turn into a foolhardy boys’ night out, we will be assigning Amora to your company.

“We shall speak to Sir Wing when he awakens. We do not wish to disturb him from the dream he has earned.” She pressed on towards the cathedral doors and exited with a final statement to drift to Trigger’s waiting ears. “Fare thee well…”

“Good morning, Colonel,” Silent Knight’s words practically shot me out of my bed as I haphazardly hurled the puffy beige hotel quilt upon the floor. I had just woken up and was undoubtedly still in that beautiful phase known as selective grogginess when the lieutenant’s words infringed upon that holiest of times.

“Lieutenant, what in the name of Tartarus are you doing in…” I stopped when my gaze shifted to a young mare standing quietly at Silent’s side. Pink highlights – falling over their cream white backdrop – coursed through her blonde braided mane and tail. I waited, peering through the dimly lit veil that cloaked the room until a blush rising upon the mare’s muzzle forced the stallion to act.

“Princess Luna ordered a message be delivered upon your awakening. You are to report to Canterlot Rail as soon as possible. A special train has been reconnoitered for your immediate transport to Manehattan. Any and all restrictions placed by the Crown upon your deployment have been removed – with the caveat that you remain under the watchful eye of a special task force.”

“That’s interesting and all, but I wasn’t awkwardly staring because I was waiting for orders. I was awkwardly staring because there is a filly in the room that was apparently watching me sleep. Before I even get to the part where I ask why, I’d like an introduction, Lieutenant Knight. She clearly is not a part of your unit, so … make like a sane pony and be sociable.”

The quick delivery of my last sentence had pinned the stallion’s ears to his head as he pondered how to answer. “I apologize for the intrusion, Colonel. My name is Crystal Wishes, and I am Silent Knight’s fiancée.” The mare grew even more flushed upon declaring her relationship status aloud, but the maneuver had at least managed to relieve the lieutenant from the imaginative chain that had derailed his plans. Crystal quickly recovered from her own flustered state as well – composing herself with what I presumed to be some switch of Canterlot sophistication. “We were supposed to have a breakfast date this morning, so when he was attached to your escort detail, I insisted that I tag along to see him off. I must also confess that I am a romance writer, and I may have used what I had heard about your efforts at the stadium as additional motivation to attend.”

She had likely seen the field of my shielded ambrosias and had let her fantasies wander from there. Then again, the effort to dispel the windigos from the capital might have yielded the closest thing to a fairy tale in the modern age, so I could hardly fault her for the enthusiasm. “Love is love after all,” I groaned upon lethargically staggering to my hooves in a manner that garnered a giggle from the still-sheepish Crystal.

Silent Knight stifled his own chortle – probably through the sheer willpower to adhere to standard rules and regulations, along with the lingering desire to circumvent my previous challenge. “You need not apologize, Ms. Wishes,” I continued, “I would probably do the same thing with Ambrosia if I were in your position. And based on those records I have had the pleasure of reading, your guard here has quite the impressive and busy service record. Though admittedly, given that you decided to use this as a date, I would have preferred a wake up from the get-go.”

“Things are only going to get busier, Colonel,” Silent interjected. “The involvement of the House Guard has not been limited to seeing you off at the train station. Personnel have been allocated for the journey to Manehattan – myself included.”

Groggily, I waved off Silent Knight before initiating a much needed stretch. My bones creaked, tendering complete bliss that drove a delighted moan past my lips. “He’s always punctual when it comes to matters of duty, isn’t he?” I playfully questioned the mare before sliding my focus to the minted officer. For her part, Crystal caught onto the underhooved tactic and refused to make a sound while the soldier stood at an uneasy attention in his nightly armor. “Alright,” I eventually relented, “I’ll get back to business, Silent. Luna wouldn’t have sent you here to fetch me unless Trigger reported back, so tell me, how bad is it?”

Crystal excused herself from the room after Silent gave the curt signal, and it was only once the door was closed that he proceeded. “Your griffon is up to something, sir, and the report from Manehattan was not all that encouraging. Princess Luna did not give me all the details, though she said the following would be enough to convey the situation. The team assigned to your personal detachment is the Mavericks’ Wild.”

I ran through the checklist in my mind as I shot over the streets of Canterlot. My saddle bag was strapped tightly around my waist, and it was filled with little more than my uniform and a few important trinkets. The A0 would remain in storage through this sortie. I would not even allow Lichlos to come close to the rifle that had started our falling out in the first place. The ammunition would remain under seal as well, with the lone exception of her…

Did he seriously call for the Mavericks’ Wild? The question darted through my thoughts like a renegade dagger seeking to strike a ghost. In many senses, the disbanded unit represented Trigger’s ace in the hole. If the situation were dire enough – dangerous enough – then the others would come. They would be there, at that station, waiting for me with crisp expressions that had been birthed through the same knowledge of death that I had come to learn.

The wind tugged my mane upward as I rolled into my descent. Below me, I could see the mass of ponies awaiting my arrival. Several notable members of Luna’s Guard stood upon the platform with their heads held high and armor brightly gleaming. My fellow members of DarkOps were clustered under the station’s wooden overhang, and I envisioned them listening to a straightforward briefing from the mouth of Wick.

However, it was the pair that stood atop one of the train cars that captivated the brunt of my attention. Even at this altitude their stares impaled me. The fiery orange burn of a lime-maned, grey unicorn and the icy blue chill of his charcoal-coated companion tightened their vices around my rapidly beating heart.

Their grins took shape as the distance between us lessened, and they followed my movements until my hooves clicked against the roof of the carriage. “Well, look at that Twyst,” Magic Barrier spoke up after giving a flick of his multi-shaded blue tail, “he decided to wake up after all.”

The shield-marked stallion possessed a booming depth in his voice that rivaled Trigger’s grit, a fitting characteristic considering that the two stallions shared and enjoyed a plethora of similar interests. Both were defenders of the highest caliber, and both preferred the direct delivery approach that made ordinary guards quiver in their boots. On the other hoof, the tie-wearing Twyst had shunned guard work – and the interactions that went with it – entirely. Certainly, he was a witty talker when he wanted to be, and there were instances in which he had put the fear of Tartarus into his marks by simply uttering hellfire threats. However, there had also been times during the group’s wanderings when the grey unicorn had no issue with vanishing into a voiceless domain of introversion. Today though, it appeared as though the latter would not be the case.

“’S about time, Softy. It’s been what, four months, since our last outing? Shame that it takes a bucking new calamity to get the gang back together. You’re just lucky we put up with this shit for Trigs, though Barrier over there wouldn’t shut up about you and your noble exploits for the past hour. Who would have thought that the physicist would have the balls? Oh well, it just means that we’ll have to remind everypony who the real ass kickers around here happen to be.”

Author's Note:

Ahh, Installment 20 is finally done. This is quite the busy chapter indeed, and there are plenty of references and cameos that should probably be explained and mentioned.

For starters, the cathedral in the opening scene comes from my nonpony novel. In that story, it also served as a very important place for Trigger, so it seemed fitting to bring it back for the dream meeting between him and Princess Luna.

I feel like I can already sense the handful of people who will view the hotel wake up scene as a bit out of place. Certainly, why the hell would an officer bring his marefriend around while on duty is a valid question. However, Crystal has been a great friend to me, and there was no way in hell this story was going to end without her OC getting a cameo spot. The more I thought about it, the more perfect it seemed. That segment is frankly the last place for humor in this arc. From here on out, the shit hits the fan, and there really isn't any coming back. It also fits her character quite well. Silent Knight - OC of the Anzel - is leaving... again; Wing used a weapon of love at the end of the first arc - and that is a romantic tale that any romance author would want to soak up. Either way, it happened. :P Finally!

The Mavericks' Wild consists of OCs that belong to two of my great friends as well. Twyst is Lugipony's amazing scythe wielding badass, and Magic Barrier belongs to Sober. Now Sober happens to be another author on this site. HINT HINT HINT! http://www.fimfiction.net/user/Sober So ya know.... give him some love because Magic Barrier is awesome.

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