• 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 26 - Thy Kingdom Come, Part Two

Barrier’s head immediately swung to Trigger the instant a fiery flare burst through the dreamshell. The captain gazed upon the heaving stallion in the seconds that followed, and concern flirted with his countenance as it became apparent that the creature of reverie would be unable to repair a spell of that magnitude.

Cracks extended along the darkened surface from the blast, battling against the searing arcs of magic that flung off the pony’s horn. “Tolerance, six shots,” Trigger grunted as his body buckled to the pain that shot down his spine. He bit into his lip, drawing blood as he fought to maintain the structure as long as he could. He gulped down some air and promptly groaned, “Shit definitely went wrong…”

“You’re taxed, Trigs.” The stallion gestured towards the blue-tinted shield that protected the city and the Alton. “If the tolerance is six shots, then I’m going to have my hooves full if you’re not back at a hundred percent. Just kill it.”

The feel of Amora’s magic tingled along his coat as the dreamshell began to disintegrate. The sound of squawking griffons tugged at his ears before the alabaster unicorn plunged into him. “Lock onto him now! Bring him back!” Tears fell over her muzzle as she peered into his wide-eyed expression, and in that instant, realization swept through Trigger’s mind like a dredge through a river.

His gaze darted as he tried to find that familiar signature, but there was not a trace to be found. As the search grew ever more frantic, exhaustion crept upon the officer as it drifted through strained muscles and tired bones until he finally huffed, “Ams, what happened?”

The mare just shook her head slowly and pressed farther into the hairs of the stallion’s fur. She wanted to answer, but the more she thought about the words she had to say, the more aware of the agonizing hitches riding up her throat she became.

“Wing took a shot to the chest,” Twyst’s answer came as his hooves landed atop the art deco building. The statement drove Wick and D.H. to look away as they hovered, while Mozy’s mouth hung in disbelief as she stood beside Azure and Artemis. “I don’t know…”

“This isn’t the time to be joking around!” Trigger’s shout pierced the ranks, ruffling even the griffons’ feathers. “Where the fuck is Wing?” He shifted his head through Amora’s mane as he scanned for the slightest semblance of sanity amongst the faces. Each one met his fiery glare with a downtrodden grimace that dribbled whispers of truth, death, and corruption to his mind’s ear.

“We don’t know what happened,” Wick’s voice rose above the silence. “He had just gotten back from dealing with the primary. The griffons starting dying en masse, the ship crumpled up, and Conrad started using what appeared to be high-level magic. He forged Wing’s guns from the parts of his own vessel, Trigger. It was out of the blue. There was nothing we could do. I think the target became a…”

“Shut up,” he growled. His heart raced to a quickening cadence as his gaze swiveled towards the cloud of debris that emerged from behind his failed barrier. “That son of a bitch tainted my reverie.” His body shook before the clinging medic as a violent spark of energy erupted from the tip of his horn. “That son of a bitch… made me a damn fool.” Cracks popped along his jawline as his teeth mashed into one another furiously.

Water began to pool beneath Mozy’s glistening yellow irides. She had been staring at the quiet pair of griffons she had agreed to protect, but the weight of guilt that tugged at her quivering lips spoke volumes. She could not crack a joke this time, and as she peered slightly downwards to look upon Trigger’s quaking frame, she saw fractures in his demeanor that she had never seen before. “Trigsy...”

“I said shut the buck up!” Trigger roared as he studied and cursed the magical tides swirling around the floating Conrad. “How am I going to explain this shit to Ambrosia? How am I going to look her in the eye now? How am I going to explain that shit to anyone? How am I going to explain it to any of ya? I had one task, and I failed… Ya already called me on it, Ams. Ya said it yourself! So what am I going to do? I’m going to kill that piece of shit.”

He tuned out the grasp on his body, the objections, and the world as he pressed on past his limits. “I’ll find him… I’ll find him… I’ll find… it.” Focus vanished from his expression as his senses snared the glimpses of that imagined razor. “Resolve,” he whispered while placing every remaining bit of his reserves into summoning that sword. His pulse snapped to a beat that wanted nothing more than to drive that weapon through Conrad’s skull. It burned him, taunted him, beckoned him with the same strength of a massive snake constricting its prey.

And then it was gone. Resolve had rejected his call. It had taken all that he had left and denied him the chance to seek sweet, cold vengeance. Yet as he collapsed into Amora’s embrace, he could not help but smile to the gritty breeze that serenaded the mare’s ear before he fell into unconsciousness. “Resolve is still active.”

Conrad inquisitively stared at his talons as he flexed them. The sights of Manehattan had returned into view after he pummeled that ridiculous unicorn filth with a few of his test volleys, yet he still heard those beautiful, whimsical murmurs lingering inside his head despite the change in scenery. He had done something no griffon had ever managed to achieve, and the power that coursed through his veins told tales of dreams long ago corrupted by the nightmare.

“All of my hopes and aspirations rest within me now. All of the naysayers and all of the fears can rot! All of the traitors and their bed makers can tremble before what I have become. I am a griffon! And I have magic! I can do more than that. We can do much more. Plunge into night those who scorned our destiny. Plunge into eternal darkness the losers of our game...

The fragments of the Albatross once again assembled into the gigantic cannon that Lichlos had used to unload the first salvo of his fanfare. It glimmered in the rays of Celestia’s mocking light as the beast yielded his worldly limits to the tantibus that simmered beneath his feathers and fur. “Why don’t we start with you?”

He laughed hysterically as the dreadful snarl of iron, tech, and raw magic titled to face the FHW Alton. The soldiers of the Northern Kingdom braced themselves behind the protection of Magic Barrier’s impressive shield, and their feathers shifted to the growing terror that made them curl into defensive postures.

“What in Tartarus happened to their ship?” Silent exclaimed as he hopped towards one of the Alton’s windows. His frame stiffened and his mouth gaped as he peered at the churning cluster of debris. “What happened… to everyone?”

Other griffons on the bridge faced forward with similar looks of disbelief. The incredible aura of Trigger’s marvel had been enough to drive the initial Cry charge back from the threshold of war, but the ghastly image that had taken its place sent limbs twitching atop their respective metal platforms.

Spotters steeled their anxious nerves to cast their keen, binocular-enhanced eyes across the cityscape while the duke apprehensively fiddled with his talons. “Your Excellency!” one shouted. “One target sighted in wreckage. Visibility compromised, but it's likely the captain.” There was a long pause as the lenses shifted over the skyline. “Additional griffon force located above the Port Authority Building! Talons! 10% cap estimate, with ponies, and… and… I believe the package is with them, sir.”

“Motion in the debris cloud!” another called as the iron sheets bent to reassemble Conrad’s weapon. A flickering ball of bright blue came into view as the cylinder pitched into its threatening alignment.

“Cast off!” the duke roared before the crack of the first shot pounded against Magic's barrier. Griffons jumped as the thunderous snap echoed through the Alton’s corridors. Prompting a chorus of short gasps, heat surprisingly spiked through the protective bubble and spread through the glass to the crew. “Praise Aurum…”

The noble pressed his claws against the glimmering sill and collected himself. “Listen up!” he ordered. “Flight teams, go with Lieutenant Knight and do what you can to assist the ponies. Round up those deployed and make sure they stay out of the range of that thing until otherwise ordered. If the opportunity arises, confirm the safety of Earl Stoutheart.

“Deck teams, we do not know how long that unicorn magic is going to hold, and I do not want our beloved ship to be known as the thing that fell on Manehattan. Take us out over the water and get us moving at top speed. That bastard wants to make us a target? Well, a stationary target is a dead one.”

Amora inhaled sharply and flicked her ears as Trigger’s whisper meandered to her mind. She lowered the unconscious stallion to the floor as the rising tide of a smile lifted the corners of her lips, and she could not help but repeat the words he had spoken. “Resolve is still active.” Turning to face Wick and Defiant, she paused for a moment before the notes spilled from her lungs once more. “Resolve is still active!”

A gasp rushed through the ranks as Conrad’s first strike careened into Barrier’s shield. “Buck!” the stallion groaned as the impact pushed his defensive talents. “I’ve got maybe five of those left in me! Get me some damn backup! Wrangle in any unicorns you can!” His stare drifted to the resting Trigger. “We need to call in the princess. She’s the only one equipped to deal with this, so somepony send the damn call!”

The pegasi rubbed the tears from their eyes. Each of them knew the meaning behind Trigger’s declaration, and each of them realized that there was plenty of work to be done. “Hang in there, Captain,” Wick responded. “Amora, what’s the timescale for Reckoning?”

The mare shook her head. “It won’t work on him. The best I can do is cast an AoE to buffer against the sniping he did in the shell. I’ve never seen anything like that before, but the sickening signature was at least clear. I should be able to suppress it in a continuous space.”

“Good, we can’t rely on Magic Barrier indefinitely. Send the word to Luna, then cast the AoE and hold the fort here.” Wick snapped his head towards Mosaic Breeze and continued. “Get over to Luna’s Guard and brief 'em. We have to put some noise in front of that psycho. All unicorns are ordered to help strengthen the shield. Earth ponies are on citizen roundup. All fliers are going in as soon as Amora’s spell is in place.”

“What about us?” Azure spoke up once Mozy bolted northward. The griffon’s crimson glare met the stallion’s equally piercing red eyes, and her sky-colored feathers spread to the invisible flames of her sweltering pride.

“Two options: I say that this is now an Equestrian affair and that it’d be best if you all stay back, or I come to the conclusion that that interpretation is bullshit and promptly remind you that I said, ‘All fliers.’”

Conrad scowled through his state of reflection. The energy of his electrical inferno had dissipated, and for several moments, he was left gazing at the Alton and its scrambling crew. The ship appeared unscathed by the brunt of the attack, for the luminescent obstacle that stood in his way proved to be quite the reverberating nuisance. “So you’re on the move,” the griffon remarked as the airship departed its quay. “Do you think I don’t understand what you’re up to?” His emphatic shout echoed off the skyscrapers.

“Do you think nobility will get you anywhere, Duke? Look at it where it got the great peacekeeper. If only you were there to see me put him in his grave! Well, maybe I’ll be a benevolent creature and show you the same sweet, magical mercy.” A malicious grin separated the halves of his beak before Lichlos jerked his head to the east.

The cannon whirred to its master’s command. The massive bulk pivoted to follow the path of the vessel as it slipped over the ocean. “I’ll play your game,” he wailed as another torrent of maddening current slammed into Magic Barrier’s persisting menace. The titanic cylinder began to rotate, flinging loose bolts and scraps into arms of debris that floated about in Conrad’s mental grasp.

“Shields don’t last forever! They break, crumble, fade, and crack all before drifting off into the forlorn clutches of the forgotten!” Remember us. Remember us. The night… The voices softened as the influence of Amora’s field swept over all he could see. He cringed, curling his talons as the third jet of vibrant plasma erupted from the cannon. “I don’t give a shit about you pathetic ponies yet! Stay out of our way!”

“Maybe you should,” Defiant’s stern response rose over the thunder as he and Wick circled the griffon at top speed. The hallmark shock waves of rainboom threshold manipulation spiraled behind the pegasus equines. Darkened clouds condensed in the streams, and the duo rolled to launch serrated daggers of light from the other’s trail.

Iron rods sprung from the large weapon to surround Lichlos in a cage that negated the strike. The pestering drone of approaching pegasi grew louder, and the sound of snapping bolts from griffon weapons panged off the strengthening barricade while Conrad festered within his assembling bunker. “You imbeciles!” he roared as his fortress shook to a third turbulent flow that breathed in Mosaic’s wake. “Why must you persist in the face of my absolute victory?

They don’t respect our power. They’ve never respected our power.” The staccato accents of his race’s own ammunition sent popping sneers from his beak and tongue. He dealt with that problem swiftly, but he still shuddered when the metallic sheets rang to a cascade of repeated lightning strikes. Screams of infuriation quickly followed as the notion that he had to dismantle his grand weapon for the sake of self-preservation gained an ever more prominent clawhold in his mind. He had to maintain his dominion.

Conrad huffed as a haunting glow dripped from his emerald eyes. The tendrils of dark magic expanded to the inner wall of his enclave, and he quaked while the sirens in his head yearned to snatch more minds from the bastions of illumination that lurked outside. “We can’t take them,” the griffon hissed in a dreadful, phase shifting tone. “I want them. I want all of them. And if I can’t make them mine, then I will kill them off until those that remain accept my divine truth.” The night will last…

A deep breath filled his lungs in the seconds that followed. Relief pumped through his veins as the large onslaught felt utterly insignificant against the cosmos that extended from his acquired darkness. “You surprised me with your counterattack,” he continued with a regained sense of calm and purpose, “but this game is over.” He thrust his talons outward and snickered as a cluster of gun barrels sprouted on the exterior of his stronghold.

“I’m going to tear you all to bloody shreds! I’m going to rip down the blasphemy of your sorcery and eradicate the stain constricting my will! You will all grovel before my kingdom or die at the edge of my veracity! For my night will last forever!”

“Griffs! Hold your fire!” Wick barked as soon as he noticed Cry and Talon shots alike getting absorbed into the growing constellation of parts under Conrad’s control. “House Guard, give us some damn clouds! D, Mozy, cascade chain!” Determination raked the stallion’s countenance as he watched Mosaic Breeze scoop upwards after her turbulent flyby of the underside of the bastion. He darted around the pieces of wreckage at an astounding pace, using the power of his flight to paint a clean wedge of air around his stormy wake.

“Copy,” the other DarkOps pegasi responded in near synchronicity. They arced outward, blazing a pair of cloud trails to join the numerous tufts the House Guard placed on command. A few of the griffons obeyed the orders as well, utilizing their own brand of weather manipulation to add to the building arsenal.

“Three… two… one… spark!” Wick, D.H., and Mozy slammed both forehooves into their jets, setting off three forking flashes that burned through the assortment of clouds until a plethora of sparks bombarded the hovering stronghold. Bits of metal vaporized and melted globs fell into the ocean below, but the jaw-dropping attack could not outpace the regenerative summoning of Gänse’s magic.

“Bucking shit,” Mozy exhaled incredulously. She pitched away from the target and slid in next to the agitated Wick. Her commander’s expression showed the wounds of defeat – though he tried to hide it behind his firmly taut lips. They had unloaded one of the most devastating maneuvers in the DarkOps repertoire, and it made negligible headway.

Eyes went wide as hundreds of barrels grew like flower stems from the diverse grains of the marred surface. “Get back,” Defiant howled the instant he recognized what Lichlos was doing.

They were all blind. In the midst of their fray, no one caught the glimmer of Luna’s magic joining Barrier’s mighty shield. In the midst of thunder cracks and war cries, no one noticed the chorus that had erupted from the foals of Manehattan. No one caught their conductors, the San Palomino Nine, as they took their positions upon the water’s edge.

Those who had dared to venture over the ocean to come to blows with the lightless missed the motions of the moon as it defied its wielder to slide before the sun, and they most certainly missed the gateway to nightmare that blossomed in the penumbra at the behest of the youngster’s horns. Only those on shore caught the summoning of the Revelation Dreamshell and the first glimpses of the gunmetal Equestrian battleship that surfaced from its blackened depths.

Two sixteen-inch guns were mounted on a turret that sat in front of the ship’s control tower. The Flag of the Two Sisters flew proudly from its mast, and the vibrant white designation of ERN Phoenix Star glistened brightly upon the hull. I would make sure that history came to remember that moniker, the vessel’s crew… and its colonel. I would make damn sure that at least one of them remembered its colonel.

“Sir! R-type shells loaded into main!” a pony wailed through one of the Phoenix’s voicepipes. The info emerged in an echo-riddled garble that managed to make sense to my well-adjusted ears. “Allies in vicinity of target, Colonel. Awaiting orders.”

“Tactical, did you forget how to bucking aim!?” I roared back at the lieutenant after cocking my head towards the awaiting funnel. My forehooves were already itching for action, for the two swords resting before me beckoned for both vengeance and salvation. Months had been spent waiting for the moment – this day – when I would finally see his home city once again, and Resolve, in particular, seemed to shimmer through the anticipation.

I waited for his affirmative to drift back through the tube before I took a step forward and grasped my blades. Those on the bridge glanced at me with mixed emotions spanning the entire spectrum from hope to fear. The latter held no place. I had prepared for this. I had trained for it. I had spent all that time completing those unfinished demons of Equestria’s youth so they could operate this craft. The Ocean of Nightmare itself had returned me to finish this one last job, and with the gift of my second razor, I would do it. I would relieve the anger and hatred that spurred a hideously malignant aura from the corners of my eyes. I would end it all.

“Then quit your damn bitching and blow that Luna-fucked grifftrash out of my fucking sky!”

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