• 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 State of Darkness - Installment 8 - Death's Frozen Vine

The rumblings of repressed powers surged forth in haunting strips of ghastly black that cast the glowing runic language of the unfinished upon the frame of the blue illusionist. Without delay, Ashen Mystic sprinted towards her second-in-command as stains of horror plucked the corners of her lips. She leapt upon Kinetic’s back, wishing without bound that she could yank him from the assembling cocoon before it was too late.

Trigger dragged Telekinetic Haze and Ashen Mystic into a hemisphere of abandoned wizardry. He had reached into the depths of our youth for an incredible skill that defied the expectations of even the most vivid imaginations. He had torn the manipulators from their developing works of fiction, which gave me hope that I would not have to combat the potent effects of deceptive fantasy. Of course, it also meant that I would have to confront a unicorn with instabilities that did not require a professional to diagnose.

She spent several moments trying to hack Trigger’s dreamshell to pieces with her sanguine-style assaults. Incomprehensible gibberish sprung from her tongue as her repeated efforts gained zero ground, but the ferocity boiling off her ivory coat did not warrant a translation. Like life’s spilt vitality, the mare’s mane cascaded over her neck and shoulders in rivers of red that adjusted their currents for every slash. Her shifting irides were barely distinguishable from her pupils, and staring at them produced a sense that I was sinking into the fatal clutches of the Grim Reaper.

“What the fuck did that asshole do to them?” A dozen spikes of congealed castfire raced towards my head from behind the crest of her shout. The swarm of possibilities ran through my brain while a cloud fragment compressed to my beckoning punch. A direct counterattack did not look promising with the unicorn’s full fury centered upon my frame, but there was another option. A loitering unknown existed that I yearned to address sooner rather than later.

I sidestepped the spurs and hurled my spark into the bypassed barrage. A few of Erzsevine’s barbs made it through my discharge and traveled on to collide with Trigger’s persisting barrier. The majority disentangled – producing palpable blasts that carried every indication that my senses were no longer under the influence of external forces.

“Dumb bucking windrat!” she roared with a fierce accent and darted in my direction as more magical threads burst from the tip of her alabaster horn. The mare was a bit faster than I had anticipated, and her insult cut me to the core. There were certain words that were never meant to be thought – less even spoken – and that was one of them.

I flew away from the sprawling spell and moved into a sweeping arc along Erzsevine’s left flank. Her blatant ignorance and racism stoked a pulsing heat that radiated from my heart to the tight bounds of my uniform. Cognizance retreated afore the surging swells – leaving my mind to cope with an emotion it rarely encountered. It was wrath – pure, untainted wrath – that aligned my body with destiny.

In the stands, Mozy had lifted the A0 to a firing position. She was not used to such a bulky weapon, but there was no way in bucking Tartarus that she would be caught sitting on her hooves after Wing entrusted her with something only he and Trigger were authorized to touch. He had gained some distance from the surely unstable Erzse, and for a moment, Mozy had considered pulling the trigger.

The concept of ammunition resonance felt foreign to the DarkOps pegasus, even though she had listened to numerous lectures on the subject. This was the first opportunity she had to put the knowledge into practice, but the consequences of failure were incredibly severe. Detonations and arc flashes were possible, neither of which seemed worth the risk amidst a bunch of panicked, evacuating ponies. On top of that, there was the remaining concern that some illusory spells were still in play. The risks mounted against the reward of helping me in combat, and all of that doubt generated enough of a gap for my next maneuver to provide the decision for her.

I had pitched my wings and swung towards Erzsevine, taking away the chance for Mozy to get off a safe shot. The fibers of the mare’s spell tracked my motion, but her damn slur propelled me forward to a blistering velocity. Stormy eddies soon conglomerated behind my hind hooves as the rainboom threshold coiled around my body. Darkened clouds formed in the slipstream, which deflected the trailing attack with its brooding vigor.

The energetic wake overpowered the surprised Vormacht officer, tossing her in an atmospheric tide that broke at a thirty degree angle from my trajectory. She staggered backwards, and the tense grimace that contorted her expression revealed the boding tempest of displeasure. I whirled around, inclined to punt that appearance permanently into the countenance of her face, and performed another hypermach pass.

Scarlet spheres of rheostatic sorcery attempted to take hold of my limbs as I approached the mare. Her tactic was sound, and her aim was accurate, but the energy slithered off my frame like hot, melted wax. To avoid my advancing hoof, she responded on reflex alone – an impressive feat considering that I was flying fast enough to create a debris field in my wake.

I could hear Erzsevine’s ardent scream as the bits of dirt, grass and stone dug through her fur and drew blood. I turned right, setting a corkscrew course around the mare’s backside. The helical ploy not only hurled soil into the air that would screen the disturbed pony from her prime target of opportunity, but it also opened a wakeless pipe in which I deposited fragment after cloud fragment.

Ending the maneuver, I emerged from the dust and headed back to the swerving mare. She was aiming to catch me in her sights at the moment I crossed the bridge of her muzzle at nearly point-blank range. Again, the windward side of her body was bombarded with the wreckage of my blustery drag. She snapped as more ruby stains tainted her ivory coat, but I had already veered behind the dreadmonger’s retaliatory reach.

For once, this mistress of death would be paraded like a puppet for the eyes of Equestria to witness. Sure, she managed to follow the motion of my flight, but her rotation was out of sync with regards to my timing. She was still pivoting when I darted through my array of veils, and the violent sequence of unleashed electric bolts blazed a path to Erzsevine’s exposed rear.

With a grunt, the filly flicked her grazed head in my direction and countered with a spreading collection of crimson vectors that covered the apparent vulnerability. The attacks drew their own battle lines where they crashed into one another, but one of my sparks jumped the stalemate trenches and raked the mare’s side. Her cries grabbed my ears at the same instant a sweltering pain pierced my hind leg. Blood splattered my liberty blue colors as I flew on through the agony, and spite transcended her limits as the gruesome sear howled.

My wings pressed on, carrying the weight of a wounded limb as I set my path for the contemptuous mare. Her moans had shifted to maniacal laughter while her brain registered that she had finally struck her mark. Her frantic eights stumbled upon the ever-morphing score, and although no words followed, the lustful, sadistic intent had been hastily painted upon her face. She savored our engagement.

Canterlot’s plummeting temperature went unnoticed amongst the inferno that was our fight, and Mozy’s terror did not touch me as I swung to charge. I would end this nonsense once and for all as the view of haltered lightning and trembling jetclouds rushed the swarm of life-seeking threads of fate. The meters of separation drifted into history as those serrated fibers shot through my wings and unarmed foreleg. Neither the blows themselves nor the burns of seeping blood could stop my momentum now. I hooked my hoof at her horn and shoved the electrical slug into the magical appendage.

I collapsed onto the rugged pitch behind Erzsevine as her shrill, staccato shrieks echoed throughout the stadium. Her horn had cracked – a painful sentence for a unicorn that might as well have meant death itself. I had stolen her magic, and as her agonizing movement saturated the chilled air with its cacophony, I struggled to rise from the dirt.

Sanguine scarlet trickled down my limp wings, but the discomfort was utterly lost in my mind. They had killed so many. They had terrorized my capital, beheaded its guardians, and scarred our foals. I absolutely hated them. I absolutely hated her, and every beat from this particular tempo impelled me to rip Erzsevine into pathetic shreds.

My legs ached with an indescribable sting as I regained my balance. Unable to cope with the vile torture emanating from her ravaged spike, the mare had fallen. I ignored her pleading wails – although a part of me wondered if she was desperately begging for a return of her power or a swift demise. I had nothing left in the tank, but I knew that – once I crawled to her – I would summon the strength to bash her villainous treachery to pieces.

I ignored Mozy’s voice telling me that the A0 had been ensnared by a block of ice. I snubbed the paranoia that stretched over Canterlot. I disregarded the dissolving ATF, the creeping frost that traversed Erzsevine’s legs, and the engulfing hail that sought my soul – until her fermata.

You’re not yourself, Wing. The hint of sweet southern charm tended to the darkened state of my splintered mind. A job is only a job. That’s it at the end of the day. It’s nothing to live for and it’s nothing to live by. If you work so hard that you’re just a shell of who you once were, then what? You said you’d protect me, and I believed you. How can you protect me if you can’t even protect yourself – if you’re not even yourself? Don’t allow them to steal you away from yourself… Only I am allowed to do that, remember Wing? I love you…

“Amby…” My sockets widened as the scope of the situation snatched my awareness. We were being frozen to death – all of us. From the bleachers, Mozy was still barking at me for instructions. The city yielded to chaos as the typically azure sky surrendered to murky grey. Sheets of ice, snow, and sleet covered the arena as the neighs of windigos wept to our animosity, and Trigger’s spell disintegrated when I broke from the reaper’s clutches to commence my march towards the shivering mare.

“Trigger! I need Kix – ammo box three – shell one!” The warmth of the stallion’s sorcery enveloped my frame with a tender embrace before my underside was rotated skywards. He realized quickly that I had been hurt, and he recognized that the likelihood of me being able to go it alone was poor. We would shoulder the burden together as brothers born from dream for the sake of those dying from disharmony. He approached my shadowy, levitating support and eyed me with a bit of skepticism as the revolver appeared mounted at the end of my good foreleg.

“What do ya mean by box three?” he asked curiously, prodding the notion that a new generation of shell had actually been created without his knowledge. Long ago, we had established a system for ammunition storage that allowed Trigger to teleport needed rounds over great distances. Each generation had its own box – and each box had its own well-defined location.

“Sorry Trigs,” I answered before clearing the cylinder of his preloaded set, “but this one… is just one that’s made for me. You’ll understand soon. Just...” I stopped once the weight of the single bullet rested upon my chest. Its golden shimmer sharply contrasted the dampened colors of my stained uniform – along with the sea of grey and white that swirled around us. Etched onto the rear end of the casing were three characters that revealed the truth to the midnight stallion.

Underneath the sky of deadly frost, I strove to lift that round into a chamber with my gashed limb, and I gasped for breath through clenched teeth upon claiming success. Those three characters touched my heart as I moved the cylinder into firing position. They were the perfect letters to survive the ocean of hatred, for everything they stood for meant the literal world to me. A&W…

“Ya made a dual round…” Trigger spoke in a hushed whisper that disguised whether he was asking a question or making the assertion. “I thought that would result in…”

“Disastrous resonance,” I interrupted, “which is why this round has to be fired by me.” I tilted my hoof, putting pressure upon the surface of the pivoting switch. The internal hammer resisted the will of the spring as my motion continued, and once again, my surroundings fell away. Except this time, I was not consumed by a state of darkness.

I felt love. I caught the scents of cinnamon cookies and a baking pizza. I saw those aquamarine irides scouring my memories in search of everything that made me who I was, and I held onto that tenderness and affection as though nothing else mattered. The catalyst took hold, venting the powerful, unequaled emotions of friendship – of love – into that single shot. We wouldn’t die here today. No more ponies would be lost. We would live… to cherish and smile in the tomorrow for which I fought. We would grasp the opus we all deserved! We would discover that vengeance had no rightful place in war's currency. We would silence the drums of battle with the light that shined within, and with that, the orchestra vanished to the single percussive snap of my trigger pull.

Author's Note:

Another vacation update!

I'll just apologize to Tea in advance if the ending of this installment is too much of a cliffhanger. ;)

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