• Published 5th Sep 2018
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The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book I - BlueBastard



A Berylverse Story - The ponies investigate an ancient prophecy tied to Sombra's plan to destroy Equestria, all the while Sunset prepares for her coronation. But not all is as it seems when the mystery begins to imply a far darker truth of the past.

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Chapter 22: FUBMS—F***ed Up Beyond Mere SNAFU

Golden Age of Apocalypse

Chapter 22: FUBMS—F***ed Up Beyond Mere SNAFU

Sunset traversed the length and breadth of Twilight’s Friendship Death Star (as she’d privately referred to it more than once), looking for her cousins.

"Okay, where'd those goofballs go? They know we need to get ready to go back home!” Sunset traversed the interior of the castle, searching to no avail for her wayward family. Finally stumbling into the well-stocked library to find her purple-coated counterpart, Sunset asked “Hey, Twi, have you seen those three troublemakers I showed up with?"

Twilight looked up from her book. “No, can’t say that I have. They’re not in their rooms?”

“Nope, looked high and low for ‘em. No dice.”

“Strange, I wonder where they could be at this hour?”

The sound of metal-hitting-metal and feminine grunts rung out from the Everfree Forest, about a mile away from the crystal treehouse.

While Corner only had a limited supply of feather knives at her disposal, her real strategy lay in being able to quickly maneuver around the battlefield and deftly reclaim them. Of course, this also meant she had to constantly keep moving and, more importantly, keep track of where her knives went. The battle had only been going on for maybe five minutes and already she knew three of her knives were unrecoverable until after the fight was done.

But she still had plenty of knives both stored and open on the field, the latter also having the additional benefit of making the trio she was fighting have to keep a mindful watch where they were stepping lest they cut their hooves on the razor-sharp objects. Their awkwardness did appear to be them mostly tripping over their own legs as if they weren’t used to that many limbs on the ground. And they’d all gone for their cutlesses as their first armament of choice—seriously, cutlasses? What was this, something out of a Daring Do book where she fought idiot pirates that didn’t even know how to hold their swords properly?

Even the Royal Equestrian Navy knows that cutlasses are only good aboard ships! Corner thought. Out where the surface doesn’t buckle or roll, deep curved blades are absolutely useless.

Of course, just because they didn’t brandish their weapons right didn’t mean they understood the necessary tactics to use them. With three highly mobile adversaries, Corner eventually had to give up trying to keep her distance as no matter where she tried darting off to, one of the three was already en route to intercept. And while a normal pegasus would easily be able to simply fly up where ground based enemies couldn’t get them…Corner was, unfortunately, not a normal pegasus and this was certainly one of those times where she wished her abilities hadn’t cost her luxuries such as that. It also didn’t help that in close quarters, her only options were to dual wield two of her knives in her hooves—wingtip holding was out of the question as they were too large to not avoid getting hit in that situation—or straight up hoof-to-hoof combat.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Given Corner was still a pony, she had one move that any Equestrian would instinctively know how to use. Adagio found this out the hard way when in the middle of the furious fighting, she suddenly saw two green back hooves deck her square in the face. Despite the relative weakness of pegasi especially when compared to the average earth pony, the ponified SIREN was sent flying a short distance backwards. Crashing to the ground, Dagi lost a hold of her cutlass, which Corner then used the gust from a wing flap to send flying into the woods.

“Dagi!” cried out the blue one, before finding herself Corner’s next primary target.

“Takes more than a buck to stop a SIREN!” shouted back Dagi, who aside from a split lip seemed relatively okay despite having been kicked full-force by a horse. Reaching back, she chose to keep her dagger in reserve and instead went for the javelin, which she skillfully twirled around with her hooves in front of her before touching back down, the pointy stick gripped in the crux of one of her forelegs like how a normal guardspony would hold it.

“Takes more than a stick to stop me!” countered Corner, nimbly dodging a swipe from Aria before sweeping out her legs from under her. Then the pegasus turned and charged right back at Dagi.

Meanwhile, back at the Traveler’s Retreat, Razz was slowly entering into a panic. The plan had been to teleport out of there and let the SIRENs get the jump on Corner before subduing her. Simple enough. Only when Razz and Corner had started to argue, it had been that feeling again. Other than her blood itself feeling itchy, there was no other way to really describe it. But she’d only felt that way once before. Back in Nightshade…right before that werewolf sent by Lockbox had come calling (he had turned out to be a decent guy and profusely apologized about the misunderstanding once everything had been cleared up). And before she’d had to briefly fight Lockbox herself, who proved to be another Scion.

But if the feeling had been tied to Corner Shot…things had just escalated beyond dangerous at minimum and now Razz was looking for the one thing that would ensure she could now save the SIRENs from playing hunters-turned-hunted.

Except she couldn’t find that blasted Alicorn Amulet.

“I know that damn thing is in here somewhere!” she declared, having turned half her bedroom into a warzone. She of course had kept it hidden and its presence in her room secret to all—even Twilight didn’t know about it as she’d never asked after Nightshade and the less who knew about the Amulet’s whereabouts the better—but while she also could sense the dark magics within the amulet, being of Sombra’s blood, all she could discern was that it wasn’t where it was supposed to have been.

One lucky punch later and Dagi was sent spiraling down to the ground, dazed and confused.

“No!” shouted Aria, prevented from running to her sister’s aid by way of a feather knife barely missing its mark on her face. It had gotten close enough to make a small cut on Aria’s forehead, however.

“I’d say the odds got evened,” snarled Corner, “but they never were in your favor to begin with.”

“Wait, hold on,” said Sonata, a puzzled look on her face. “How can the odds be evened, exactly? There’s still two of us and one of you.”

Corner turned and looked dumbfounded at Sonata. “Are you seriously asking that kind of question when I’m trying to kill all of you?”

“Well, yeah,” nodded Soni. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Holy crap, you are the stupidest mare I ever—FUCK!” Corner had made to facepalm, but before she could, a sharp screaming pain suddenly radiated from her flank. Wincing in immense pain, she turned to find a crossbow bolt somehow having lodged itself into her butt, inches away from her cutie mark.

“Now you really are a pain in the ass!” mocked Aria, the fired crossbow still in her hooves. She made to reload it, but then with horror realized two things; 1. Without fingers, she wasn’t as equipped to pull back the drawstring, and 2. That didn’t matter anyway because she didn’t have the spare bolts to reload the crossbow with.

“You’re gonna pay for thaaAAAAAAAAHH!” Corner tried to turn again to rush Aria, but doing so worsened the pain coming from her rear, causing her to slightly crumple in place. Soni capitalized on the chance, being the one to rush Corner instead and with one swift motion knocked the bolt lodged in Corner’s flank into an even more harmful position, tearing the flank brutally, a spray of blood gushing out of the wound.

“Solid hit!” said Aria as her sister stopped on a dime right next to her. “Now…oh.”

Corner was down, but she was far from out. Instead, she seemed to only have reached a demonic level of anger. With a swift motion, she used one of her wings to grip the bolt and then in one strong yank, pulled it from her body without so much as wincing. Then she let the bloodied bolt fall to the ground and, looking both Ari and Soni dead in their eyes, let loose an unearthly scream. This was complemented by Corner’s eyes bizarrely turning green and briefly emitting what looked like purple smoke. Then she vanished.

“Wh-what the…?” was all Soni could manage.

“Great, don’t tell me she can go stealt-OOOF!” Aria was suddenly blindsided by a vicious right hook, flooring her immediately.

“Oh, don’t worry,” hissed the now questionably sane Corner as she glared at Soni, “you’re gonna get much worse!”

“Mmmm!” Coco hummed as she sipped from the bowl in front of her. “This is delicious! What did you say this was? It’s making me feel so much better already!”

“Ah, yes, my grandmother Tasteful Finesse always could cheer a pony up with her Tofu Noodle recipe,” smiled Rarity, “though I don’t know what her reaction would be if I told her it worked on changelings, too!”

Half-changeling, thank you.”

“Oh, yes, I’m so sorry, darling,” Rarity apologized, blushing. “It’s just…”

“Yeah, the love sucking, the wings, etcetera. It makes ponies think I’m a full changeling all the time when I’m not. Kinda gotten used to it now that you and your friends know about it.”

“They’re your friends, too, Coco,” replied Rarity, levitating the emptied bowl away. “Now, get some more sleep, I know you’ve been resting all day so hopefully you’ll be able to get back to work tomorrow—you wouldn’t believe the amount of dresses and suits ponies have brought in needing to be fixed because of party-related damage!”

“Right! Goodnight, my Quee...I mean, Miss Rarity!”

“Goodnight, darling,” the alabaster unicorn said, chuckling at her assistant’s faux pas. With that, Rarity turned and left, turning the lights off as she did so. Coco, meanwhile, just scrunched back under the bed covers and closed her eyes, ready to get more rest. She’d been babied by Rarity all day and while it had been sort of both annoying and awkward—namely where changeling physiology and pony physiology didn’t quite compare evenly in the subject of bubble baths—it was a nice change of pace to be the one getting serviced all day.

Now if she could just get to sleep despite that nagging sensation that somepony was angry. One of the worst parts about being part changeling, Coco had quickly learned, is that their empathic nature left them susceptible to sensing other emotions than just love. And anger, to Coco, was like a burning sensation that never made sleeping easy.

But then curiosity took over and she focused more on the anger. It wasn’t stopping, but…growing. A violent, virulent anger. And as it got stronger, Coco could start picking up the minute details that, when plentiful enough, could even be used to identify a specific pony provided she knew from prior experience the pony who was the source of the anger.

And she’d already scuffled with Corner Shot before.

But then the anger was joined by more emotions—fear, distress, pain. They were not from Corner Shot, but from whoever she was taking her anger out on.

Without hesitation, Coco launched out of the bed. Miss Rarity would never approve but lives were potentially on the line. She’d understand. Thinking quickly, Coco mustered up the strength and departed through the window—her wings may not have allowed perfect flight, but they could catch enough lift for her to descend out of a second story window without much problem.

“UNF! UNF! UNF!”

Now visibly weakened, Dagi grunted with every thrust of the javelin. She’d come to consciousness only to see a wounded Corner Shot somehow not only having become impossibly fast, but also brutally beating the shit out of Sonata, Aria laying in a crumpled heap not far off. Dagi was no longer interested in taking Corner alive; she had murder in her eyes.

Unfortunately, so did Corner Shot, who was almost playing with Dagi in how she just sidestepped every javelin thrust. Like she was just waiting for Dagi to just whittle herself out, a point the merciless assassin decided had come. Corner grabbed onto the javelin with a wing, then with near-earth pony strength lifted up Dagi with only her wing holding the pole, then twirled around until Dagi couldn’t hold on any longer and her grip failed, once again sending her flying. She landed in-between the bodies of her sisters, looking just as beat up as both of them.

“This has been fairly…exhilarating, to say the least,” snorted Corner, who slowly approached the defeated SIRENs. “But I’ve wasted enough time with you lot.” She then snapped the javelin’s shaft clean in two with her wings, tossing the bottom end aside before brandishing the business end like a pool cue. “Goodbye, los—"

Just like she’d blindsided Aria Blaze out of nowhere, Corner suddenly found herself blindsided by a punch she couldn’t see. Only the assailant this time did not materialize out of thin air. As a pegasus, Corner could read the air currents shifting as somepony moved in and out of nearby space, but she couldn't do more than that. “SHOW YOURSELF!” bellowed Corner, not in the mood to have to deal with a new problem.

Ring around the aaappplllee…” chanted a sweet pitched voice. Corner knew she’d heard it before, but couldn’t think straight as the force of a pony bucking slammed into her side. It felt like one of Corner’s ribs had been broken, pissing her off even more. Instinctively Corner lashed out, only to hit nothing but empty air.

“YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY?!” Corner roared.

An orchard that’s sun-dappled...” Once again after the chanting, hard forces smashed into Corner, probably breaking another rib in the process.

This time, Corner said nothing, figuring her opponent to actually be invisible. She tried to use the silence to listen for her opponent’s hoofsteps, only…there wasn’t any.

Rain drops, rain drops, we all—"

Hard kick to Corner’s jaw.

“-fall—"

A legsweep that made Corner fall.

“-DOWN!”

A crushing weight collapsed onto Corner’s back, a miracle it didn’t break her spine. Corner’s jaw hit a rock nearby, clattering her jaws hard and making her bite the inside of her mouth, drawing blood.

“I…I know that’s you, Coco…” spat Corner, a bit of blood leaving her mouth. “Once I figure out how you’re doing this, I’m gonna—"

“Oh, I’ll spot you for that one, bitch!” spat back Coco’s voice, and to Corner’s horror the cream colored fashion pony materialized out of thin air in front of her. Except it wasn’t entirely the same pony. It was like a pony had fucked a changeling and Coco was the bastard child. In fact, in Corner’s mind that had to be exactly how Coco Pommel could exist in the state before her. And she could also turn invisible.

“H-how?”

“Simple,” grinned Coco, her smile devoid of humor but worryingly containing two things that looked like fangs. “Your anger feeds me.”

Corner blinked. “Did you really just fucking say that corny shit?”

“Corny, yes. But also the truth—obviously I’m changeling enough to feed on emotions, and anger is the second best if love isn’t available.” The halfling leaned forward, her eyes glowing with the sickly green tapetum lucidum that was natural to changelings.

“Gee, Prof. Abomination, thanks for the shitty biology lesson,” slowly, Corner managed to draw the strength to stand, eyes full of rage. “Now how about I teach you a lesson in pain!?” In a flash, Corner lunged forward with a feather knife right into Coco’s face—only to find the pony was not even there any more.

“Can’t hit what you can’t seeee~!” taunted Coco, now once again a voice in the wind.

“Yeah, but you can’t dodge what you don’t see coming!” countered Corner, who proceeded to randomly dart off to some part of the clearing before going silent.

It became a deadly game of cat and mouse, but while Coco held the advantage of true invisibility, Corner wasn’t as good an assassin as she was without knowing how to track the unseen.

As Corner was preoccupied with trying to punch the air—with the air punching back it seemed—the battered SIRENS crawled together to regroup.

“You still alive?” wheezed Aria.

“Barely,” coughed Adagio. She then crawled over to check on Sonata; the results weren’t good. At least one broken leg, a seriously bad cut to her ear, and slashes along her barrel. That was in addition to the fact that her sister’s face looked like several miles of bad road. Adagio leaned forward to check for breath.

“Is she…?” Aria asked, her breath caught in her throat.

“Yeah, but she’s gonna need a medic soon. Hopefully Sunny and Princess Twilight can do something to help.”

“We…we can’t stay like this,” stated Aria, “we just got our asses handed to us like we were toddlers on our first day of training.”

“Yeah,” agreed Dagi. “If we survive this, we’re going to have to up our training.”

A soft moan came from Sonata’s throat, and Adagio had to wipe away the tears that came. They’d survived the destruction of their organization, facing off against the legions of the damned and came out of it with an order to rebuild the SIRENs and a family they could call their own. Adagio wouldn’t let it end like this.

Never again, she swore to herself. Next time, Sunny or no, we’re coming in full kit.

Dagi reached over and put her hoof on her wounded sister’s body, fighting back the tears that threatened to fall. “Hang in there, sis.” Aria painfully sidled over to Adagio and hugged both her sisters for support.

With one final grunt, Corner timed her punch correctly and landed dead on the side of Coco’s face.

“GAAAAHHH!” wailed the Halfling, falling back and finally coming into view. She looked utterly exhausted, the anger energy she was getting from Corner having burned up relatively too fast for her liking.

“There you are, you little shit!” Corner snorted, whipping out two feather knives and slightly crouching. Coco didn’t have a chance to dodge now, and both mares knew it. “Time to squish you like the insect that you are!” It didn’t ever occur to Corner that despite staring death in the face, Coco didn’t seem all that concerned. In fact, she seemed a bit cocky as Corner leapt at the hybrid pony…

…and came to a screeching halt in mid-air, her wings not even fully pointed forward but splayed out to the sides as if she was taking flight. The forward half of her body was still fully mobile, but from the wings back, she discovered to her utter shock, she was immobilized in dark crystal.

“I misjudged you,” a voice, cold as emptiness, intoned.

Corner’s blood virtually froze, knowing she couldn’t face the owner of that voice even if she could fully turn around.

“I thought you were merely dangerous,” said Razz, slowly walking around next to the changeling hybrid who—having no more reason to fight—had since collapsed on her side and was panting heavily. Gone was the purple-and-blue hair, the raspberry coat, and the bright cutie mark. Now Razz chose not to hide her red-and-black mane, the deep red coat, her dark cutie mark, or her curved horn with what looked like a bloodstain on the tip. “But I was wrong…you’re worse!”

“Razz, please…” begged Corner, “you need to understand—"

“Understand what?!” snapped Razz, her rage evident in the flash of dark magic smoke in her eyes. “Look at what you’ve done!” She gestured to the four ponies Corner had physically assaulted. “What’s there not to understand about you trying to kill my friends while you continue to claim you’re one of them?”

“They tried to kill me first!”

“Oh, like I believe that shit!” Razz, who had been forcing Corner to look her dead in the eye, then changed her focus to Corner’s pool cue hairclip and narrowed her eyes. “Why the heck does…wait a minute!”

Corner’s ultimate nightmare came true as she was powerless to stop Razz from yanking off her hairclip, revealing her deepest secret in the process. Her wings, still locked in the open position from the crystal, seemed to have the feathers from the middle up just dissolve into nothing, replaced with something nopony present had ever seen before.

Where mere feathers had previously been there now instead existed a hard, black carapace that extended to the top of her wings. Inside the structures were fifteen slots on each wing, some of them still containing feather knives, but more were empty.

“Holy shit,” gasped Aria from her spot a few feet away, “is that carbon fiber?”

“No…” answered Coco, who looked absolutely horrified, “that’s…that’s…refined changeling chitin! Oh, Celestia, I think I’m gonna be sick!” She then hurried off into the woods, stopping not too far away at the edge of the forest to void the Tofu Noodle soup she’d had earlier in some sense of privacy.

“Ah!” gasped Razz, wincing. She then immediately reached down and yanked off the Alicorn Amulet which she’d been wearing the whole time.

Corner did her best to not show her distress at how Raspberry didn’t seem to understand anything. “Raspberry, why are you running from what you were clearly born to do?”

“Oh, spare me the ‘fulfill my destiny because Sombra is my greatto the whatever grandfather because he raped some poor mare’ speech!” Razz then narrowed her eyes again as she dropped the bombshell. “Of course, he’s your ancestor, too!”

Corner was taken aback. “Wh-what? No, I’m not—"

“Don’t tell me the Covenant hasn’t at least told you about ‘the prophecy’—the line about the third Scion happens to fit you to a ‘T’!

The third moves swift, like lightning flash, faster than eyes can track,

A storm of steel, a hail of death, downburst of ruin and wrack,

Master of death, of silent kills, hunting without a pack

A thousand daggers now unleashed, a murderous attack.

“You literally have dead changeling corpses attached to your wings to hold your throwing knives, there’s nopony else who could qualify!”

As realization dawned on Corner, she quietly asked, “Then that feeling…like my blood was so itchy…’

Razz nodded. “Death knows its own, and it knows you well. But I’m surprised you didn’t already know that.”

Corner shook her head furiously. “N-no! It can’t be me, it has to be y—"

“Oh for…just shut up already!

The last thing Corner remembered was a dark red hoof slamming into her head and knocking her out cold.

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