• Published 14th Jan 2015
  • 4,085 Views, 224 Comments

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.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
A Game of Darkness - Installment 22 - A Bishop's Crucifixion

A seething anger swelled in me the likes of which I had never felt in all my days. Conrad’s rhetoric dug into me deeper than his talons ever could, and as I parsed the vitriol-laden speech, the indescribable urge to cram his beak down his throat began to jolt through my forelegs. Was he actually insinuating that the EHVM fiasco was his own doing? Was he really associating himself with that affair?

My brow had descended of its own will, yielding the griffon further ammunition as he extended his portion of our extremely one-sided dialogue. With each heartbeat, my arteries burned with a superheated brew. He just kept stabling, clawing, prodding for a way to get at the information that tormented his dreams. Like the froth floating atop a teeming subconscious, the noise stemming from his outburst rattled throughout my thoughts until a final sentence pierced the veil.

“Do you even listen to yourself?” I countered as my hooves dragged me a step closer to my antagonist. “You’re trying to tell me that you had a claw in what brought me here? You’re seriously taking responsibility for what Einhorn Vormacht did? Do you have any idea how delusional that sounds? But then, you go on to tell me that you’d be willing to execute one of your own kind just to put me in a spot where I could capitulate?”

“You think I’m insane and that’s fair.” I listened to the sweet serenity that dripped from Lichlos’s lungs as he pivoted about a hind paw. The rage had dissipated from his tone, leaving a calm tenor that I found even more jarring than his pseudo-psychotic ramblings. “Once upon a time, Corporal Wire Wise worked in a small town called San Palomino. I have no idea what the little guy was up to, but one extremely peculiar piece of correspondence arrived at my doorstep one day.

“His memories had been erased. His records had been deleted, and all his hope had been lost until he found a single scribbled note – one that spoke of an unseen magical weapon. Now, whom do I just so happen to know is Equestria’s single expert on the subject of strange and new armaments? Why, it would be you. So what is an academic griffon to do when toyed with the possibility of such a juicy, tantalizing truth? Wire always had a thing against the other pony races, and I went ahead and connected a few dots on his behalf. His talents were far better suited for the Galloping Gorge area anyway. It was only luck that, for some reason, my fascination with magic put me in his good graces.

“Much to my esteemed amusement, you all took the fucking bait like the hapless equines you are. Ashen Mystic used Wire’s abilities to transform her pathetically fledgling, tabloidesque movement into a force that could march into your capital city and do the number that it did. Though, it would have all been in vain if you hadn’t shown up with the culmination of the research that I knew had to be yours. But then, you went and blew my mind, so yes Wing, in answer to your question, I would gladly risk tossing all of us into the pits of war by executing some Eagle trash if it meant that you would give me some insight into all that you’ve accomplished.”

The inferno of resentment that had been racing across every fiber of my being finally hit its flashover point. There was nothing left unburned, for the devils in his details had incinerated whatever tranquility I had stocked. Either Lichlos had acquired classified information from numerous intelligence documents through unknown, nefarious means, or he had actually influenced crimes in ways that went well beyond the bournes of reason. There was no rationalizing his actions – no making sense of the chaotic web or even attempting to decipher it; he had been manipulating my life, along with the lives of others, like it was all some game to be played upon an imaginary field.

“Are you out of your fucking mind!? Do you have any idea what you’ve done? The fuck do you think you’re going to gain from this Lichlos? Did you think telling me that you had something to do with the worst crime in recent Equestrian history would get you somewhere with me?” Like a rapid pulse driving the sharp bite of a snare, the drum of my cadence harshly snapped into the wind. “The only thing that makes me want to do is trot across this bridge, buck you right in the face, and drag you off to a cell.”

The bastard was actually chuckling as he continued to spin around as though the cares of the universe mattered not. “Diplomatic immunity, my boy, though it’s great to see that the fire is still in you somewhere. I was beginning to think you fizzled out and became boring. But I hate to break it to you; I had nothing to do with what the EHVM actually did. I only advised my dearest friend to partake in other pursuits. I could only hope that the suggestion would one day lead to a confirmation of my hypothesis, and look at that, it did.

“I’m also afraid you have no legal recourse to stop me from executing a prisoner on my ship. Per the Treaty of Baltimare; vessels, embassies, and diplomatically occupied compounds shall adhere to the laws of the land of which said establishments represent.” His snarky hymn snaked through the clouds as he settled himself upon the quay. “And yes, I do plan to deliver the punishment right before your eyes if you don’t give me the fucking key to your shells! So just stand there if you can, Professor, and watch this. Comrades! Initiate Albatross Algorithm 187!”

After a few moments, the entire ship roared to life. One of the griffon soldiers dashed from the ship with a microphone clutched in his talons. Behind him, the cable trailed and sagged beneath the surface of the platform – for it lacked the enchantment needed to remain aloft. The sounds of crunching gears echoed throughout the frame of the airship before bouncing off the contours of the skyscrapers below, and the canopy of the massive craft lifted to expose Conrad’s private suite.

Various sensations attacked my body in rapid succession – from the sight of the garish metal box that ominously loomed about the center of the revealed enclave to the pull of a static field against my lavender coat. Griffons, with looks that covered the emotional spectrum, flooded the deck to gaze upon the prize that had been concealed from them. They waited in anticipation as the crackling surge of Conrad’s readied Blitz System joined the pops of megaphones that brightened at the behest of the amplified officer.

“Revered citizens of Equestria, my name is Professor Conrad Lichlos Gänse! I am currently in command of the gorgeous goldenrod airship you see hovering above your fair city, and I have traveled across the ocean to once again bestow my humble presence upon you all.” His voice boomed from every speaker, coating the area in a cringe-worthy blanket of thinly veiled conceit. “I invite you all to participate in a show of sorts – one that will undoubtedly change the way each of you see the world.

“You see, my country is in a bit of a spat with the rather annoying griffons over yonder. They claim our territories, turn our neighbors against us, and then wander off to form trade alliances with the likes of Equestria. A month ago, this little alliance of yours was viewed in the Republic as a minor nuisance. It was not as if we were cut off from communication with your leaders and your industries, but then, something changed.

“Something happened in Canterlot – an event that produced a miracle in the midst of tragedy – and the rules of the game got tossed out the window the second a pegasus wielded a new weapon of magic. The headlines didn’t just stop at your borders, Equestria. They traveled abroad and seeded the fear that your association with our sworn enemy could actually sway the balance of power.

“But this is where my tale gets interesting. I know the sorcerer who pulled it off. I know the pony that rose to the occasion – the pony who deserves your worship and praise – and that stallion would be none other than Professor Wing of the University of Las Pegasus. That’s right! The stallion of the hour is a teacher, and he was once someone I called a friend and a colleague. Though, as I stand here now, pleading with him to even the playing field with some knowledge, he refuses. He refuses to put the Eagle and the Talon on equal ground, so I will just have to settle the score another way.

“This is a concept that I know can be hard for ponies to grasp, but the Griffonian Republic of Talon’s End and the Northern Kingdom of Eagle’s Cry have remained in a constant state of conflict for generations. True, very rarely has this mutual hostility led to open engagements upon the field of battle, but every so often…” With a flap of his wings, Conrad darted towards the opaque, iron chamber. “Every so often, we hit a snag and get a catch. In this case, I took a prisoner into my care. He’s a political one and a lowly spy to boot – a creature of shame that slithered into our domain and tried oh so hard to undermine us at every turn.

“Now, Duke, since I know that hideous ship across the way is yours, I’ll let your vermin kind in on the secret I’ve been keeping. I have your son, and unless my good pony professor friend gives me what I want, I’m going to return several favors by hanging this little shit to death.”

Unlike its counterpart, the FHW Alton was constructed to be as inviting to the eye as possible. The ship, coated white with bright blue trimmings, possessed smooth surfaces that made it look like the quintessential example of aerodynamics incarnate. Though the underlying technology was the same as the Albatross, the Alton looked like a prince with its regal wings stretching out over the landscape as though it were an alicorn ready to take flight. The situation on the bridge, however, was far from as picturesque.

Silent Knight shuddered as officers of the kingdom pressed themselves against the bridge glass with binoculars deployed in the hopes that they could catch a glimpse of what was transpiring. Conrad’s blaring rhetoric had reached their waiting ears, and the absolute terror and rage that had been transmuted from the acoustic ether left the pegasus lieutenant in a hostile pit of misery.

The duke, himself, was pressed against a pane, leering with unwavering sights as the iron walls of Lichlos’s toy chest fell away to reveal the bound form of a griffon. The details were sketchy at that distance, but when the muffled cries of the captive lashed out across the city, the noble knew the truth. No time was left for an objection before the flight deck of the Alton buzzed. The griffons were prepared, with crossbows in claw, to take off through Equestrian skies to start a war that would have unraveling consequences.

“I’m sorry, Silent Knight,” the duke spoke as chills flowed beneath his amber fur and snow white feathers. He did not turn to face his longtime friend, for he feared the mess of emotions that could be spilled if he dared to peer upon the pegasus. Together, the pair had already witnessed the disaster of conflict. They had flirted with those unforgettable shadows. They had watched as loved ones and comrades died in the defense of friendship, but this transcended anything the officer had expected to find. “I cannot allow them to go back on their word. We were supposed to have an exchange, not this… I cannot allow them to take my son – not again.”

Trigger had taken his perch on top of the port tower, and his amber cores swept over the scenery as the deranged monologue nipped at his quivering ears. As Conrad spun his maniacal tale, the threads of maligned fate yanked upon the stallion’s heart. Something felt off about the entire chain of events. The climax felt misplaced, and as the grand chorus of the griffon’s opus unmasked the great reveal, Trigger felt the unbridled need to teleport to my side.

Shock jabbed his spine and his orbitals stretched beneath the weight of dismay. Concepts lined up within his mind for processing as the thaumic sizzles of both Twyst’s and Magic Barrier’s arrivals sprang from his flanks. “How the buck does a griffon have an anti-teleport spell?” Twyst blurted as he anxiously glanced at the other stallions. “We can’t just leave Softy up there alone now! We’ve got to evac him and stop that nutcase from offin’ a damn bitch.”

Taking a deep breath, Trigger settled himself. “He doesn’t have a spell. The whole reason he’s here revolves around magic. Nah, this shit is more fundamental than that. I can feel it. It’s not like filthy fuckin’ ATFs. It’s just like Wing’s...” His head snapped towards Barrier as the epiphany dawned upon the stout protector. “Cover the city! He’s got an EM weapon on that ship strong enough to keep us out!”

The charcoal-colored companion had affixed his focus upon the Alton throughout Conrad’s blaring performance. “We’ve got bigger problems, Trigs.” He gestured towards the tiny, contrasting blurs that popped against the alabaster backdrop of the Alton’s hull. “I’ve seen enough swarms in my day to know it when another has begun. Our primary has their commander by the balls. There’s no rationalizing with that. Silent’s got no chance.”

“Buckin’ shit,” Trigger huffed. “Put up a barrier anyway, MB. We can’t have this garbage spilling into the streets. Twyst, get over to the House Guard and tell them to stand down. They aren’t going to press a determined force of that size over the ocean when it's burstin' at the seams to begin with, and I don’t want needless injuries. So much for a buckin' screen.”

A counterstorm was brewing on the deck of the Albatross as the shadows of numerous griffons danced along the surface of the craft. They had spotted the charging force, and with tensions riled by the potential of a pending execution, many of the End had leapt into the fray toting crossbows and swords of their own. In less than a minute, the opposing forces would collide above the domain of Trigger’s beloved Authority. Blood would fall like rain upon the streets of Manehattan, and bodies would be torn asunder. The catastrophe would be even worse if his assessment of the Albatross’s cloaked capabilities proved to be true.

“Shield the city, Barrier,” the stallion reiterated as a darkened magical spark arced along the length of his horn. A curved blade roughly thirty centimeters in length appeared in front of the onyx charger. His magical aura, diminishing the argent glimmer concealed by its grasp, enveloped the ethereal sword while bands of reverie-based augury jumped from the weapon. The reunion of razor and smith was short-lived, for with all his might, the unicorn lobbed the edge known as Resolve in the direction of its master. “I’ll be taking care of the rest myself.”

I had begun to hover just in time to see the sides of the iron cell fall to the deck floor. My ears pinned back in anticipation of the thunderous clang that followed, its booming knell saturating the microphone and startling even the most composed of the soldiers in my midst. Conrad simply laughed, and he set about reclaiming the shattered attention of his underlings by proudly presenting his frivolity along with the horrific image that he had expertly hidden.

A malnourished griffon stood bound upon a bland pedestal that just beckoned to be kicked away. Chains, meandering through ochre fur like a tormenting river Styx, laced the prisoner’s hind legs together with a strength that probably felt even more painful than it looked. The same links extended upwards, coiling around bent forelegs and hyperextended talons to secure the limbs over cream-hued wings that had been methodically confined with strands of rope.

This creature watched me with icy blue cores as pleading breaths escaped through his gagged beak. A noose had been loosely draped over his neck, taunting the captive with a foreboding promise of death should cord be tightened and the box removed. Of course, Lichlos took meticulous care of his treasure. While the rope had been tied to the top of the structure, a series of additional anchored supports gave the hostage redundant layers of suspension. He had been trussed up to be the majestic act of Conrad’s theatre – leaving me to wonder if the prop would survive without me acting.

“Be a good little boy and say hi to Daddy,” Lichlos jeered as he placed the microphone in front of his victim. He slithered to his desk and grinned at me while his frame moved to strike a dramatic pose. His claws swiftly gripped a ceremonial saber, which he promptly dangled in a flashy manner that I interpreted to be the final warning shot.

In a single vault, he leapt back into the spotlight and jabbed his forsaken nemesis in the thigh. Muffled cries and squeals emerged from the harnessed beast in a cacophonous melody that rattled through the corridors of Manehattan, and within seconds, a swell of morale catapulted roughly 70% of the crew from the innards of the Albatross. They all darted in the direction of the Alton with weapons at the ready, and it was then that I realized exactly what had been done; he had baited the Cry.

“Sir!” one of the griffons spoke up as she took a grief-stricken stance to stage left. Her light blue and white feathers greatly resembled the heavens in which we stood – though the expression plastered upon her countenance could not have been any darker or morose. Indeed, as I peered around the assembly that remained, I noticed that none of these soldiers appeared entranced by the rhetoric that had launched the others into the throes of impending combat. “Sir, what have you done?”

The jovial demeanor dropped from Conrad’s face as he turned to answer his lieutenant. His muscles twitched as the means to the end brewed within him. Azure Sky had ruined his performance. She had spoken out of turn, and that foolish, naïve question had been broadcast to the masses he had intended to mesmerize. He drew a breath as he jammed the tip of his blade deeper into the prisoner’s leg, eliciting a scream that preceded his response.

Whatever he had intended to say, the words never came. They were interrupted by the sound of a sword imbedding itself into the metal exterior of the ship just below my curled legs. The blade – my blade – radiated Trigger’s magic, and its presence revealed answers to questions that I had not even had the time to ask. The EM field, I pondered while gradually reaching for the hilt. They aren’t able to get here in time, but he wouldn’t allow…

My train of thought derailed as a crack of thunder trailed a streak of black lightning that dashed across the sky. I gazed upon the shroud of darkness that fanned out before the charging mass of Conrad’s file, and we all watched in utter amazement as the blanket of night curled and approached the Albatross. Trigger had actually done it! He had actually activated a spell the likes of which nopony had ever seen – a spell with a name alone that could strike terror into nightmare itself.

“Armageddon Dreamshell...”

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!