• Published 17th May 2012
  • 4,759 Views, 230 Comments

R.3.A.R. - Wand3r3r3



The Cutie Mark Crusaders form a not-so-secret swat team devoted to battling an unknown attack.

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(R)Interval=00_INTRODUCTION (prologue Pt. II)

R.3.A.R.


{----- [[[[[-Interval=00_INTRODUCTION (prologue pt. II)-]]]]] -----}

As Apple Bloom followed mister and misses Cake, along the narrow dirt path, she kept the idea of this sudden, seemingly urgent trip fresh in her mind. She kept on pondering their insistence on such a simple trip to the park. She certainly remembered it very fondly, as it was very close to her old school, where she met her two childhood friends, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. However, with the demeanor that the two adults at her side had shown, she was only left to keep theorizing a valid purpose for the trip. The couple was silent, though they offered an explanation before they left—but they hadn't spoken since then.

She didn't know what to think, or how to, frankly; her strange summoning had left her feeling a little light-headed and weak all of a sudden. She kept walking with the two adults, but she ended up falling behind, as she found herself suddenly lost in nostalgia:

On the right side of the trail they walked along was the school that she graduated from, just years ago. She had the memories engraved in her mind from those six years; from when she met Sweetie and Scootaloo. They were her best friends in the world, and they helped make those six years much more tolerable. With their newfound friendship, they felt on top of the world, and, while they weren't troublemakers by any means, there was one filly that tried to bully them, but the three would always send her home scrambling to come up with a new plan to foil their popularity among all their peers.

By themselves, though, they were harmless—mostly.

Sadly, though, her memories were only to remain memories: the school was burned down, completely reduced to nothing more than a huge pile of rubble that built upon itself. The charred-looking remains made its fate entirely evident to the filly.

She walked on by as she also examining the remains, not knowing how long it could have been like this. She got to thinking, when suddenly, she felt something moving against her scalp, as if Scootaloo was giving her another one of her 'noogies'. AppleBloom looked ahead at the Cakes, who only continued to walk ahead. She slowed her pace and knelt forward, lowering her head to the ground, and out slid a small electronic device. It was a mobile phone that, while bulkier than her friends', could still be hidden inside her mane very well. It was still vibrating, rumbling inches along the ground, and a blue light started to blink along the edges. The Cakes' only continued to walk forward.

Apple Bloom's childish instincts kicked in: she picked her phone up with the cleft of her hoof, and, while anticipating the Cakes' to look back at her, she pretended to cough into her hoof as if she were ill, hiding the phone behind her head. But still, the adults weren't paying her any more mind than they had before; it's like they were being held against their will or something. Though her imagination knew little bounds, Apple Bloom put the childish idea aside. And she kept her suspicions about them, but she continued to follow them, only from the distance they now shared.

Within seconds of catching up, Apple Bloom stopped once again and paid mind to her mobile device. She brought its five-inch reflective surface to her muzzle, to which she applied light pressure to. Suddenly, an image of Sweetie Belle appeared, signifying that the filly was calling her from the white Unicorn; it was rather instantaneous, in fact, that the image itself made her cringe a little bit:

The picture featured Sweetie Belle as a bit of a sexual tease, and, with it fresh in Apple Bloom's mind, it actually made her cringe every time she saw it. The filly was lying down on her back; her forelegs were bent to hold her head up, and her corresponding rear legs were wide open. The only good thing Apple Bloom deduced from the picture was the fact that she was wearing clothing—albeit skimpy—between her legs. Apple Bloom never looked at the picture directly, as she never had gotten up to changing her picture. Sweetie Belle messed with her device weeks ago, and she hadn't figured out how to undo her prank. Regardless, she looked forward to seeing what Sweetie had to say; her calls weren't always of great importance, but she hoped that it was this time around.

She brought her phone to her nose and tapped its 'accept' icon, to which a microphone suddenly protruded from her ear, extending all the way to side of her cheek, close to her mouth. She moved her mane away from her ear so that there was no weight on the wireless receiver clipped onto her, and she adjusted the microphone as well, bringing it a little closer to her lips. Finally, she pulled an elastic bit that stuck out on the side of her phone's solid, black case. She pulled on it until she could not pull anymore, and with it being a Velco-type contraption, she carefully looped it around the top of her neck, having to briefly stand on her hind legs to do so. It was a loose fit, but it would hold: the study of technology had only recently started to take off, and thus, nothing was perfect.

She continued on her way, the Cakes' barely in sight over the hill she was approaching.

Zzzzt . . . AppleBloom.”

Scootaloo's voice spoke to her instead, and this led to great relief, as she never felt protected while talking to Sweetie by herself. However, the distortion in her voice was both present as well as it was amplified as she walked along the trail.

“What’s going on?? I've b--- try---g to zzzzzt-rea---you. ZZZZZZZ . . . ZZZZ P-----me?” The call was instantly dropped.

“Ophh, gosh darn it!”

All the gusts that blew past her ear were presumably interrupting the wireless reception. She thought of returning the call, but just as she reached for her phone again, she heard Scootaloo's voice through the speaker once more. It wasn't every day that the wireless communication failed like it just did, especially considering the short distance that was between the two fillies, but it was always quick to pick itself up again.

"Are you okay?" Scootaloo's voice was much clearer this time around, but static still remained in their connection. Apple Bloom hurried her pace and was about to speak, but she was cut off from her friend once more.

"For the most part," she responded, to herself alone.




She finally passed the school’s miserable scene, conquering an awkward feeling of nostalgia as well, and she proceeded to walk up a short hill. As she reached the top, she gazed over the downward slope and admired the colorful park that laid upon the flat valley. It was the town's biggest attraction for all the younger fillies, although she would occasionally pay a visit to the big tire swings. She was older, but that didn't mean she had to give up anything she knew she enjoyed in her foalhood.

However, the colors of all the attractions and the excitement of all the children seemed to be absent. She peered through a large stretch of rope that was part of the playground, and she saw a number of ponies gathered close together. She approached, her curiosity and confusion both taking a passive hold over her.

What the heck was going on?


She walked down the hill, almost slipping; she had kept her eyes on the the ponies she knew were there. She clumsily made it down onto the park's grounds, surrounded by other hills all around, and now she was seeing a few more ponies congregate into a crowd that was growing, on the other side of the playground. She continued her approach, but a stallion with a somber expression took her from behind and left her no way to walk but forward, along with him. Apple Bloom read his face with absolute certainty: this stallion was devastated. She didn't utter but a word.

They circled around the plastic stubs that separated the playground from the rest of the land, and past the double-helix slide, she saw the backs of many more ponies than she'd originally surmised to be present. They were all wearing black, highly contrasting against the color of their own fur. Apple Bloom put her phone away: she knew what this was, or what it resembled:


This was a funeral . . . A funeral at the park. . .

Of all places to hold a funeral. . .why the park?



"Come." Mrs. Cake's voice was the only one that passed through the air. Apple Bloom made her way through the quiet crowd, toward her voice. It was made easy, as all the adults moved out of her way. This was definitely strange; she felt incredibly light and frail, as if she were dreaming. “Everyone would appreciate it if you’d pay your due respects.”

“Uhm. . .” She slurred through her sense of dizziness. "Alright. If you. . .say so."

So this was a funeral, but who was it for? She felt no remorse, as she had none of the answers she craved.

She got closer, and through the shrinking amount of ligaments, she started to see a brown, almost auburn-colored object in the middle of the crowd. Mrs. Cake's voice grew ever clearer, and so did the object she kept her eyes on. The more steps she took, the more pieces she put together: she saw that she had laid her sight on the casket, but she clearly wasn't the only one. Everyone on the opposite side of it had their somber gaze upon it.

Flowers were thoroughly scattered along the ground, surrounding the casket on all of its sides. The direction that Apple Bloom approached from, however, was littered with rose petals instead; the grass underneath could not be seen, and it looked as if she would just fall into the earth when she stepped on them. Mrs. Cake beckoned her still, and the filly walked over the petals, as if the thought of falling was no longer there. She dismissed it as another crazy thought, and she dismissed everything, really. She had a terrible need to know what she had stumbled upon: the what, the who, and the why.

Finally, with a heavy weight in her chest, her hooves came to the end of the scarlet trail. She looked around her one more time, and she saw that everyone was still, and everything was totally silent. Everypony's eyes were on her; she could both see and feel them on her. This creeped her out without a doubt, but she forced herself through the fright of all those eyes on her, watching her hesitate. The casket laid open for her, for whenever she decided she was ready, but her heavy heart was thumping within her chest, making her feel like she was in some kind of danger. She started to feel sick, weak. She looked inside.

She flinched. "No." She slammed her eyes shut. "No. . . !

A concoction of sadness, fear, and a remaining sense of uncertainty proved to be potent, leaving Apple Bloom with tears welled up in her eyes. "No!" she cried, but it was to no one's avail—especially not to the mare who laid inside.

"No!!"



The once endlessly jovial mare, an element to the entire world that was Pinkie Pie. . .was finally laid to rest. For good. The bright, pastel pink colors that defined her by name were no longer present in her coat, her hair; everything about her was without color, much like the surroundings. Her body looked to be decomposing at Apple Bloom's sight onto her. The distortion of her remains drove Apple Bloom's sight away from her, and with everypony else still staring at her, she slowly looked back at the deceased mare.

Her mane, half deflated already, collapsed underneath her head as it finished flattening itself out, as it normally would when she would grow discouraged in her life. Apple Bloom was deeply disturbed to witness all this and more, but then Pinkie's closed eyes began sinking inside her skull, and the filly's stomach sank. Her heart raced, her teeth chattered, and her mind fluttered around in a conglomeration of emotions. The colorless foliage in the trees swayed, as an ever-approaching wind personified the effect that Pinkie's death had on her. The temperature dropped drastically and the air became incredibly thin, and Apple Bloom could feel that as well. And among all these effects, she finally overcame the initial shock and could actually compose her thoughts and her words. She didn't speak much, but she felt alleviated when she cried. This was too reminiscent of her grandmother's funeral, a few months back.

The sun was setting at her back, and she stayed longer than she had originally intended. fear and uncertainty no longer plagued her mind and her heart. She remembered asking, with the clearest memory;

"Who could have done this? Why would they??"

But. . .that was also hours ago.

-----

It was now a perfect dark; no moon nor stars were present in the sky, if there even was a sky to look up to. Apple Bloom found herself leaning her head over the casket, still looking upon the inside, but she pulled away, utter shock coursing through her. She saw the darkness all around her, and nothing more than that. Further confusion saturated her thoughts: she knew that she hadn't been there long enough for the sky to go completely dark. And she didn't merely shrug this off, either—she full-on panicked. She literally couldn't even see her own hoof in front of her face when she tried. Feeling cold and vulnerable, she aimlessly wandered in the darkness with no more of a light source than the dim screen of her phone, which she had to keep tapping so it didn't fade and disappear. It proved to be only a bit reliable, as bright as she always had it.

After what she assumed was a single minute, she finally saw something on the ground, in the distance: rose petals had littered the ground in a slim, narrow path. Apple Bloom instinctively headed toward it, shining the shallow light on the ground. She saw the grass she was about to step over, and she felt it under her hooves, too. She assumed she was still in 'the real world', as she compared her knowledge of the whole evening to some kind of twisted dream, where Pinkie Pie was dead. Her breathing was the only thing she could hear, as there was nothing but the suffocating darkness around her.

When she began to walk along the path of crimson petals, she saw something else ahead of her; something that didn't fit in with the darkness at all. She made out a few features, and deduced that she was walking back to the park's playground, and upon a few more steps, a dark-grey haze started to gradually brighten the air. Standing upon the petals that still covered the ground, she saw the eleven-foot-tall spiraling slide and all the steps that led up to it. adjacent to it, she saw the set of three tire swings, all aligned with each other, unmoving. In fact, the still air grew thick and suffocating as well, but Apple Bloom kept herself moving, hoping to find salvation in some way or another.

She investigated, roaming free around all the park's attractions, desperately looking for anyone who might have been around. The loneliness was getting to her; she felt isolated for all the wrong reasons, as if she'd been left behind for some reason or another. Everyone had left the scene of Pinkie's funeral, and, again, all she could do was ask herself why. However, when she hopped onto one of the still tire swings, she spotted somepony across the way, standing just outside the plastic stubs in the ground.

"Hey!" she called out loud. "Where'd everyone go?!" Her hasty cries warranted a response, but she didn't receive one at all. She quickly hopped off and trotted forward, and she called out once more, as she figured out who it was she saw. "Mister Cake! What happened??" Again, no response was given, and the more she approached, the more the stallion seemed to disappear into the haze, looking as if he was walking backwards. "Where are you going??" She stopped: he realized how far away he was. She grew tired from searching all around, only to find someone who would not provide her with any answer she desired. But when she reached the end of the park's grounds, she felt a force holding her within those very grounds.

The rose petals on the ground apparently marked the end of the playground area, where she was supposedly trapped in. She tried and tried to push through the invisible barrier, but it threw her back like rubber. She fell onto her stomach, her face buried in pieces of the red flowers. It was two seconds after she fell that she heard a voice this time; a short, playful giggle. It was the way there was a rough snort in-between that made Apple Bloom lift her head with haste.

"What the heck was that?!" She knew that very same laugh, but, with her priority being finding answers, she hadn't recognized it instantaneously. But she knew she would have otherwise. She looked all around, as the sound resonated throughout.

"Pinkie. . . ? She uttered the name, and she was greeted with a grim visual, as she turned her head a few more times:

Pinkie Pie's body stood at the very edge of the rose petals, looking at her with empty, wide eyes that were filled with a black nothingness, and similar, wide and open smile that was also totally dark. She was uncomfortably close to Apple Bloom, but the filly didn't move an inch; she only rose to her hooves. The two stared at each other for a while before Pinkie decided to walk just outside the invisible barrier that stood between them. She kept her gaze on the filly, tilting her head in an unnatural manner. She started laughing at her again, and it prompted Apple Bloom to stretch the distance between them as best she could. However, when she stretched her own legs and started running away from her, she felt liquid at her hooves; thick, heavy liquid. It was the same color as the rose petals were.

It was blood, and It was everywhere she could possibly turn.

She cried out in fear as all this was happening around her. She begged for this terrible nightmare to stop; she put all her faith into the belief that this was, in fact, a nightmare. Eventually, however, she stumbled across another wooden casket, only smaller this time. It literally came out of nowhere, it seemed, and she literally stumbled onto it. Shocked, she traced her sight to the contents inside, and her dead grandmother laid inside, shocking her to the core. This was all so close to the pain and the remorse she held for her, and it only stacked onto the stress she bore on her shoulders.

She screamed out loud, "This has to be fake!!", and filled with anger, she struck the casket with her right hoof, then backed away, turning herself around, and suddenly, every pony was back in their place, like before, but only much closer. They looked at her with blank faces, their eyes all laid on her, never one of them blinking nor moving. Apple Bloom wasn't trapped forever, though, as the crowd of ponies suddenly burst into flames, their bodies just vanishing. She flinched as there was a slight quake in the ground as it happened, tough ripples splashing against her legs, and she panicked, thinking of what she should do. It instantly grew to be sweltering—comfortably hot—but it also took no time at all to attempt to burn her. There was very little opening in the wall of fire, but she launched herself through it regardless: it was the only thing that came to her frantic mind. She fell back onto the ground, but on her hooves this time. She knew her mane had gotten burned just a bit, but when she took in her surroundings, she feared for both her hair, and her life.

Everything around her was on fire. From the limits of the playground, to the attractions themselves, everything was ablaze. A giant wall of fire stretched in a shallow arc along those very limits, surrounding the area and threatening to keep her there, to burn her alive. The fire spread even faster, as the rose petals returned to litter the ground once more, but in greater numbers than before. So many of them were catching fire so quickly, making it harder for Apple Bloom to navigate the maze of fire. She turned and decided to run alongside the tallest, most saturated wall of fire to her left, looking for an opening in the flames, however small it would be. She stumbled a bit, with how exhausted she had come to be. The fire seemed to chase her as she only kept her eyes on the ground ahead, keeping the peripherals of her vision open for a way out.

She could see Pinkie Pie running alongside her, divided by the fire, with all her terrifying facial features to continue haunting Apple Bloom. She was directly adjacent, looking to be running toward her, following her movements along the fire, but she stayed ahead of her the whole time, threatening her with a wicked smile that was so surreal. In her exhausted, half-mind of a state, she made out the bodies of the Cake couple laying on the ground, and then more and more ponies alongside them. She paid them little mind as she was already physically stressed enough as it was, but she did keep the Cakes' bodies in mind—the flesh on their bodies being eaten by the flames. Their own horrific faces that raced by her stuck with her, and she would have ran faster if she physically could, but her legs felt closer to collapsing than jumping over more hurdles.

Apple Bloom had to stop running. Her lungs seemed to be turned to stone, with how heavy her chest felt. And her heart was all the same, seemingly beating out of belief. She slowed down and looked to her right, at the burning playground. With a bit of remorse came a substantial amount of concern when she saw children running for their lives, also carrying flames on their backs. They all seemed to run toward her, and her concern turned to guilt when she heard many voices scream many variants of; "There she is! Get her!!"

And there were so many children, screaming her name and swearing that they would kill her. She had no idea why, or what she had done, or, in this twisted nightmare, what this could have represented—but they were coming for her. She could hardly run anymore, and when she brought herself to try, she stumbled on somepony's burning corpse. She managed to get up on her hooves again, but it took her quite some time, and now the army of foals were much closer. She could make out their faces, and most of them were ones she recognized: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, her school bullies, Featherweight, and even little Pip, the very colt she sat in front of at school.

But she also saw the angry faces of Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. It was as if they had never known her, shouting the same death threats as the others. She wanted so desperately to deny her exertion, but it wasn't possible to ignore sprained tendons in her leg. She limped away, but the children were almost caught up to her. She looked back, hearing their terrible threats get closer and closer. She had the strongest feeling that this was the end of her life, and all the strain on her body was so incredibly realistic, assuming this was a nightmare as she prayed for it to be.

They were now mere feet away from her, but now it was Pinkie Pie who suddenly appeared in front of them. She was charging at her with her eyes open wide, her mane flat and flopping against one side of her face. The whites of her eyes and her toothy, dirty smile were all she saw during the split-second flash. She felt Pinkie's body crash into hers, also made incredibly lifelike with a strike to her face.

Everything faded to black, at that moment.





Apple Bloom awoke on her back, surrounded by a suffocating darkness again. It was hard for her to move, but she saw a few pinpricks of light above her. She reached out toward it, and she felt her lift something with ease, like a plastic slab. Sunlight rushed inside the walls to shine on her face, and as she flinched, she sat up and peeked her head into the light. The first thing she saw was a row of trees ahead to her front, an upward hill to her sides, and the park to her back. She looked upon where she laid, with it's physical barriers and all, and she was quick to hop out: it was the coffin that Pinkie laid inside before the nightmare started. She knew it was just a bad dream!

But. . .how did it start? If the park was just as she remembered, why did she wake up inside that coffin?

"I hear voices. . .”

Apple Bloom froze in place as her spine was chilled down to its core. Somepony was speaking out loud, with a clear shrill in his or her voice. She strolled around for a bit, eager to get out of the park, and preferrably in the daylight. The voice, however, piqued her interest, and she found the source much sooner than she anticipated.

"They say they know you. . .”

She saw someone huddled up against the back of the coffin. "Who. . .are you? Hello?" The lid obscured the majority of her body, and only her mane was draped over it. However, just based off of it, she knew who was talking; she suddenly froze in place, then slowly backed away.

Pinkie Pie.

"They say you killed me. . . ," she said, almost whispering. The filly didn't understand how her voice was carried like it was—like a reverberating whisper—but she kept backing up slowly, keeping her eyes on her. She didn't want to imagine what kind of face she must have had this time around, dream or no dream. Had she even died at all?

Pinkie Pie turned her head, looking past the lid to the coffin. She looked terribly cold, and, even from a distance, Apple Bloom's spine once again chilled to its core. Her mane still covered half of her face, and she wore the same smile as she did in her nightmare—perhaps it was bigger and much more disturbing, the latter effect amplified by her wide-open eyes staring at her.

"Apple Bloom."

Their contact never broke once until the filly turned tail and ran away, to which Pinkie did not move from her seat on the grass. She only continued to watch her run away from the direction whence she came.

She was afraid, and she had every natural—and supernatural—reason to be.