• Published 29th Jul 2015
  • 15,287 Views, 2,840 Comments

Her Knight in Faded Armor - Doccular42



Princess Luna still feels alone, nineteen years after her return to Equestria. When she finds a friend in an online game, everything seems better. But not all is well in Equestria, and a sinister plot threatens everything that Luna holds dear...

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Songs, Shame, and Raiders

“Thanks guys! Come back soon!” Button Mash leaned over the bar and waved to the customers who were stepping out of the open door and into the night. They didn’t turn back to wave, and Button sighed. He pressed the ‘print receipt’ button on the register in front of him. After placing the copy of the receipt in the correct container, he looked at the clock on the wall. “Two more hours…” he whispered to himself.

The Heartstrings Lounge was his place of work, or maybe his prison. Button didn’t know which one it was. He looked around the room and grimaced.

The building itself was nice. It was roomy, but not so roomy as to seem empty during down times. The bar behind which he stood was directly opposite the room from the stage that held the bar’s grand piano. Soft music played through the stereo system, and the lighting was just dim enough for a romantic dinner or a relaxing drink after work. There were very few tables in the restaurant. Button’s boss prefered booths, so that’s what the lounge had. Waiters and waitresses scurried to and fro.

“I hate this…” Button whispered to himself.

“What was that?” the stallion sitting near him asked.

Button shook his head to bring himself back out of his own mind. “Hmm? Oh, I was just talking to myself again.”

The grey pegasus laughed. “Button, ya gotta stop doing that. You might like, I dunno, go crazy or something!”

“Come on, Rumble.” Button sighed. “How many drinks have you had?”

“Exactly as many as I always have! One too few!” Rumble guffawed at his own joke.

Button smiled and shook his head. “The same joke every time, Rumble.”

“The same joke every time! ‘Cuz it’s a good joke!” Rumble lifted his drink into the air. “Woo!”

“Hey, Rumble! Get over here!”

Button and Rumble both turned to see an orange pegasus mare waving in their direction from over by the stage. She sat with several other ponies and a young dragon at one of the few tables in the building. She had a pair of goggles on her head which was the only thing holding her unruly mane in place.

“What’s up, Scoots?” Rumble asked.

“I was just telling the girls and their boys how that new recruit almost crashed into you during the last training run. Pip says that you should have a chance to defend yourself and explain your foolishness!”

“Now wait a second!” This voice came from a brown spotted, white coated stallion who sat next to Scootaloo. He was holding hooves with his wife, a mare with a yellow coat and a red mane. “I only said that he should be able to defend himself. I made no such baseless accusation! Also, I find being called somepony’s boy quite insulting!”

“Aw, you know it’s true.” Scootaloo jeered.

Button nudged his friend. “You better go over there. Your honor is at stake. Plus, all this yelling might get me in trouble.”

“Yeah! My honor!” Rumble jumped off his stool and ran over to his friends.

Button looked at the group. Scootaloo, the youngest flight instructor in the history of the Wonderbolt Academy; Rumble, her wingpony; Apple Bloom, manager of Sweet Apple Acres alongside her siblings; and her husband, Pip, the immensely successful entrepreneur responsible for one of the largest internet retailing sites in all of Equestria.

And then there was her.

Sweetie Belle, international pop sensation, star of her own television show, and one of the biggest names in the Canterlot fashion scene. Oh, and lest he forget, she was also the fiancee of none other than one of Button’s closest friends.

Spike tenderly held his fiancée’s hoof. The young dragon had grown into a muscular drake. He toured with Sweetie Belle as her pianist and male vocalist. He waved at Button from across the room, and Button returned the gesture. Button sighed. That clock couldn’t reach nine o’clock quickly enough.

He forced himself to turn around. “Petunia!” he called. “You in there, Petunia?”

A pretty mare with a pink curled mane poked her head out of the door to the kitchen. She had grease smeared across her face, but smiled as if she were having the greatest time of her life. The ever cheerful young mare ran the kitchen during the weekday night shift, and she always managed to lighten the mood of the entire group.

“What’s up, Button?”

“Can you tell the girls to get ready for the desert rush? The music’s about to start.”

“Sure can do!” Petunia chimed. She went back into the kitchen and Button could barely make out her sweet voice shouting orders to the other workers.

Button nodded to himself. He stepped out from behind the register at the bar and patted the bartender on the back. “It’s all yours, Berry.”

Berry Punch grinned at him while she cleaned off a glass. “All righty!”

Button strode toward the tables and booths. He put on his biggest manager smile and took a moment to prepare himself. He checked to see that his tie was straight, and then he cocked his black fedora at a properly rakish angle. His smile became real for a second. Being in charge did have some perks, at least where uniforms were concerned.

“How is everything?” he asked the couple at the first booth that he approached.

The stallion slurped his noodles in quickly and coughed. His date laughed at the poor guy and smiled at Button. “Oh, everything’s excellent! My compliments to the chef!”

“Great!” Button gave his most charming smile and moved on to the next table. He stopped by every single patron to check on them. Most were regulars. Ponyville was still a small town, after all. It had grown quite a bit when Princess Twilight opened up her university outside of the town proper, but it still managed to keep its close knit feel. Everypony knew everypony, and the Lounge was one of the most popular restaurants in Ponyville.

“Hey, Button! Over here!”

Button turned to see Spike waving at him. The stallion groaned inside, but kept his smile going strong. He slowly made his way toward the stage.

“What’s going on, bro?” Spike slapped him on his foreleg. “I haven’t seen you in forever! How’ve you been?”

“Oh, I’m hanging in there,” Button replied. “Work, work. That’s about it.”

“Dude, you’re working too much. You need a break or something!” Spike crossed his arm, and Sweetie put a foreleg around his waist.

“Spike’s right! Maybe you should take some time off.” Sweetie’s voice had grown so much over the years. It was beautifully smooth and made Button clench his jaw. Nonetheless, his smile never left his face.

“Well, that’s actually my plan. I’m going on vacation to Canterlot in a few weeks,” Button said. “I’ve got a lot of time off saved up, so I’ll be staying out there for a while. Just to get away. See the sights, soak in the culture...”

“Well, that sounds like a mighty fine solution!” Apple Bloom poked Button on the shoulder. “Ah’m actually thinking about heading out there sometime soon mahself. Well, me and Pip, of course.”

Pip smiled. “She wants to see some of her family who moved out there from Manehattan. And I need to meet some of my distributors, so—”

“Oh, nuh-uh. No work on vacation. You know the Apple family rule,” Apple Bloom said sternly.

“Well, technically you’re a Squeak now, so…”

“No, no. Don’t muddle the issue with yer fancy logic.” Apple Bloom nuzzled her husband. “Vacations are vacations.” She turned back to Button. “So, where are ya staying out there?”

“Actually, I’m staying at the Royal Inn and Suites. I got a great deal from an old friend at university, and he set me up with one of the best rooms.”

“That’s excellent!” Pip said.

“Oh, Sweetie,” Spike said. “I think it’s time.”

Sweetie, Button, and Spike all looked at the clock. “Yep,” Button said. “I’ll go ahead and introduce you both.”

Button walked up onto the stage and made a kill gesture to Berry Punch. She nodded and slowly faded the music away.

“Ladies and gentlecolts.” Button held a microphone up to his lips. “You know their names. Finally back from their international tour, it’s our own Sweetie Belle and her fiancée Spike. Let’s hear it for Belle!

The patrons applauded loudly, and Button noticed several ponies step into the building from outside. The room was already full, so the ponies took a seat at the bar after being guided there by a waitress.

Sweetie Belle walked up to the stage slowly, her red dress shimmering in the spotlight. She smiled brilliantly at the crowd who continued to applaud. Spike sauntered over to the grand piano and adjusted his own mic as Button left the stage quickly and stood back behind the bar.

“Thank you, thank you all!” Sweetie smiled bashfully as the applause continued to grow. “Wow, you are just too much. I’ve had worse receptions in coliseums before!”

Spike grinned and played a few notes on the piano. Silence fell in the room.

“I’d like to start with one of our most popular songs from our latest album. I hope you all enjoy.” She looked at Spike, and the two nodded in time.

Spike hit the first chord on the piano. He slowly walked through the melody. His eyes closed to a slit and he swayed back and forth in time. The only sound competing for the attention of the patrons was silence. Even the bustle from the kitchen stopped so that the workers could hear the enchanting melody. The cooks stood in the doorway, peeking out to watch the pair on stage. Button smiled at them, and they nodded, grateful for his approval.

And then Sweetie started to sing.

“Think of me when you’re out, when you’re out there…”

Her voice captivated everypony. Button felt himself caught by the spell, and he just stood, basking in the beautiful sound.

She reached the chorus, and she nearly whispered the low words. “All I wanted was you…” The sound was so pure that Button could hardly believe his ears.

Button felt himself swaying in time with Spike’s playing. The dragon’s voice joined in the song in the second voice, singing the harmony falsetto. And then the chorus hit once more.

“All I wanted was you…” Sweetie’s voice reached up to the heavens, and Button could see the enraptured faces of the crowd.

After the chorus, the singing faded, leaving just the piano. The third verse came and went, and Button knew what was coming next. The piano built, and it suddenly fell out. Sweetie inhaled deeply and raised the microphone to her mouth.

“All I wanted was youuuuuu, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhah!” She hit the high note perfectly, and the silence was broken by an explosion of cheers and applause. The crowd joined in on the rest of the chorus, and, as quickly as it had begun, the song ended.

The applause was tremendous. Button hadn’t noticed that even more ponies had walked in while everypony had been watching the stage, and the waitresses still bustled around trying to find seats for the newcomers.

“Thank you, thank you! Now, we wanted to play some special songs for you. These are some of the first we ever played together, and many of them were performed right here in this room! Here we go!”

Spike launched into a swinging jazz piano tune, and soon Sweetie was singing once more. Button sighed and turned away. He walked back behind the bar and tried his hardest to keep the smile on his face.

“Two more hours... “ he whispered.

~~~

Button wiped down the counter as Spike and Sweetie Belle walked off the stage to the sound of a raucous crowd. He looked over at the clock. “Ten minutes, ten minutes, ten minutes…” The late shift would be arriving to take over from nine until they closed at one, and Button would finally get out of there.

“You know, Button…” Rumble muttered from his normal seat at the bar. All of his other friends were still at their table near the stage, but Rumble had wanted another drink. “I think… I think you need something.”

“Oh, really?” Button asked. A waitress walked over to him and whispered into his ear. He muttered a reply and pointed to a box under the counter. She thanked him and walked toward the indicated location.

“Yeah. You’re so, like, wound tight.” Rumble leaned forward. “I think I know what you need.”

“A real job?” Button asked dryly.

“No…”

“A vacation?”

Rumble thought for a moment. “Well, that might help, but I was thinking of something else.”

“My own place? To move out of town? A raise? More friends?” Button spoke with a laugh in his voice, but part of him wasn’t kidding at all.

“Nah. Brah, you, you’re thinking too small, right?” Rumble laughed.

“Do I need a drink?”

“Yes, but that’s not what I’m getting at.” Rumble sat up. “C’mon. You know what I mean.” He raised his eyebrows several times.

Button sighed. “A marefriend?”

“Well, I guess that works.” Rumble shrugged. “I was gonna say ‘get laid,’ but that’s the same thing, right?”

Button wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Why are you such a perv, Rumble?”

The other stallion chuckled. “Hey, blame the military!”

“No, I think I’ll blame you. You’re drunk, dude.”

The pegasus threw his head back and laughed. “Oh, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Button glared at him. “Keep this up and I’ll have you escorted out. I think you’ve almost reached the limit anyways.”

“Nah man, don’t do that!” Rumble pointed at Button. “And stop changing the subject! We need to get you a mare, stat.”

Sighing, Button replied, “Rumble. I’m fine.”

“Dude, you’re not! You’re so tense that I’m getting a migraine just looking at you.”

“No, that would be the alcohol.”

Rumble shrugged. “Why not both?”

“Please, Rumble, drop it.”

“I’m not dropping it until you agree with me!” He put both hooves down on the counter. “We’re gonna get you a mare. Now, let’s see who’s available…”

“Please stop. I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Let’s see… Well, Silver Spoon is still single! There’s that mare who works at the flower shops. And—”

“You know what? That’s it,” Button growled. “Let’s talk about you now. Or, more specifically, let’s talk about you… and Scootaloo.”

Rumble’s eyes widened. “Hey, not cool m—”

“You’re still pining after her, aren’t you? She’s your wingmare, and she hasn’t even noticed you. Ever. You’re right next to her all day, and you can’t even tell her how you feel. You’ve never been able to tell her how you feel, ever since you were just a colt. So stop trying to butt into my life and deal with your own!”

Rumble’s jaw dropped. “Button…”

“What? Is it not true? Did I lie to you? How do you like it, huh?” Button fumed.

“Button. Please…” Rumble looked past him to the other side of the bar.

Button followed his gaze. He turned around, and then it was Button’s turn to drop his jaw. “Oh. Scootaloo. Hi.”

The orange mare stood behind them looking back and forth at the two stallions. After a moment, she spoke. “Is that true, Rumble?”

Rumble’s eyes widened and he sat straight up. All of the slur disappeared from his voice. “Scootaloo, I—”

The mare shook her head and walked backward. “What the hell?” She turned around and ran out the door.

Rumble tried to say something, but no words came out. He turned to Button, totally red in the face.

“Holy shit, Rumble. I’m so s—”

Rumble just shook his head and stood up from the stool. He ran out the door after Scootaloo.

“Hey! What about your bill?” Berry asked.

Button put his face into his hooves and sat on the floor. “It’s on me, Berry. It’s all on me.”

He sat there on the floor until the next manager came to take his spot, and then numbly left the restaurant without even saying goodbye to anypony.

~~~

Button activated his shields once more as he stood at the entrance to the enemy camp. The forest was deathly silent all around him, and the only evidence of any living creatures was the wall against which he leaned. The silver plasteel wall had been scored by countless laser beams and bullets over time, and Button knew that even more were about to join the battle scars.

“Are you in position?” Memory’s voice called out through his com.

“Yeah, just about. I’m gonna scan them, and then I’m breaking through.” Button turned his visor to a new setting. The world turned red, and he could see the outlines of four enemies moving within the camp. The first was a yak, and he glowed purple. Traditional mage. The second was a drake. He stood about as tall as a pony, like all dragons who had been taken into space with the rest of the survivors of Equus so many years ago. Magic had scaled them down so that they could fit inside the spaceships, and they had remained that size when the ships returned. This particular dragon shined a light golden color. Probably a hacker.

The other two were earth ponies, and their outlines were red. Warriors of some kind. At this point, it didn’t really matter what type. Button was pissed, and they were about to help him calm down.

“I’m blasting. Let’s rip these suckers a new one.” Button raised a hoof and forced cybernetic power into it before punching the doorway making it explode in a shower of sparks. Button turned his visor back into its standard mode and jumped into the enclosed area.

The enemies barely had time to look up before Button activated his Blink. He appeared behind the first warrior and took out his shields using an electro-mag punch. He then set his submachine guns to autofire and ripped the earth pony stallion open.

The second warrior took a sniper round right to the back of the head. The armor piercing rounds from Memory’s rifle were so much more powerful than the poor sod’s armor that he didn’t even get a shot off before he died.

“Are you okay, Fade?” Memory asked. Button saw her swiftly fly down from her sniper perch in the trees. “You seem rather upset.”

“It wasn’t a good day.” Button activated his cloak and jumped backward into the shadows. The dragon and the yak spun around wildly as their two comrades fell to the ground. They both reappeared as holographic projections, and Button could read their chat due to the proximity.

>Dawn: what the hell!
>Jorr: wait i’m lagging whathappened

“Do you want to talk about it?” Memory portaled into the encampment. She rolled forward swiftly and activated her Chaos blade, biting at the shields of the yak mage with her weapon and causing him to jump backwards.

The drake swung at Memory, and his twin Code short swords pierced through her shields and armor. Button saw her health go down by ten points, which was a negligible amount considering her level.

“Eh, there’s not too much to say.” Button lashed out of the shadows and stunned the drake with an overcharge from his implants. He then charged up his own Code powers and released a burst of blue energy. The drake’s armor shattered and his shields fell.

“Well, that doesn’t quite answer my question,” Memory remarked dryly. “Do you want to tell me about it?” Her blasters popped out of her kit and she fired a quick burst at the unshielded dragon. Half of his health bar depleted after that single attack.

The yak charged a fire spell and shot at Memory. She managed to block most of the damage with her shields, but the spell apparently had a bypass capability. Her health went down further.

“Well, okay.” Button Blinked to behind the yak and struck at him with his hooves. “I pissed off one of my only friends pretty badly… like, really badly. I don’t know if he’ll ever talk to me again.” The blow took the mage by surprise. He spun around to face Button.

“Oh. I’m sorry.” Memory immediately took advantage of the opening that the distraction had caused. She glowed with arcane power and hit the mage with a taste of his own medicine. Brilliant white fire fell from the sky and lit him aflame. He screamed in agony and tried to move away from his foes.

“Nah, don’t be sorry. It’s my stupid fault. I said some things that I shouldn't have.” Button fired his guns at the yak, finishing off the rest of his health. He fell down and his own hologram appeared. It immediately disappeared as the player exited his session.

Memory cast a spell that struck Button as well as herself. Their health, shields, and armor all restored back to full, boosted by the power of Celestia. “I think he’s gonna relog as another toon. Get ready.”

“Okay,” Button replied. He couldn’t see the drake anywhere, so he reactivated his visor. It took him a moment to search, but he finally located the foe. Button Blinked again, just in time to put himself in between the pouncing rogue and Memory. Button took the blow on his power armor and countered with a cybernetic attack.

The drake flew across the encampment and crashed into a wall. He crumpled to the ground, and Memory finished him off with a quick noscope from her sniper rifle.

“Nice,” Button remarked.

“No problem. And thanks for the save, by the way.” Memory reloaded her weapons, as did Button.

“Any time! That’s what I’m here for.”

Memory chuckled, but it quickly faded. “You know, I’m sure your friend will forgive you.”

“Actually, I don’t think so. Not this time. I know I wouldn’t forgive me.”

Memory strode toward the center of the compound. Right ahead of her was the entrance to an underground complex. “Is this it?” she asked.

“It matches the coordinates we got from Silver. He said that the raiders took the gear here. I’m guessing that this is a forward outpost where they put all their stolen equipment before their mules take it back to their actual base.” Button scowled. “Damn raiders. Why can’t they just farm for their own supplies and equipment?”

“They prey on the weak because they are also weak,” Memory replied. “But they attacked the wrong guild this time.”

“Oh yeah. So, you wanna go first?” Button asked.

“Hmm… You may go ahead this time, sir. It is your turn, after all.” Memory bowed gracefully.

Button laughed. “Okay, fair enough.”

He popped open the control panel and groaned in disgust. “This is a C2 lock! I could have picked this at level one!”

“Like I said. Weak.” Memory moved right beside him. “So, what are you going to do?”

“Well, first I’m gonna pick the lock, then I’m gonna punch these fools, then I’m gonna—”

“No,” Memory interrupted his talking, “what are you going to do about your friend?”

Button sighed as he continued to hack the entrance. “Honestly? I have no idea. I… I think we both just need some space. I can’t wait to get out of town.”

The door slid open. Button crept slowly down into the darkened stairwell. He beckoned for Memory to follow him.

“Oh, you’re getting out of town? Where are you going?” Memory followed closely behind him. The two made the descent carefully. As usual, Button watched for enemies on his visor and Memory kept an eye out for traps. However, this sorry excuse for a base didn’t seem to have either one of those. At least not in the stairwell, anyways.

“I’m actually taking a trip to Canterlot. I’m gonna be taking some time off. I told my friends that I’m seeing the sights and visiting different places of interest, but I’m mostly trying to find a new job out there.”

Memory stopped moving and went silent for a moment. “Canterlot, you say?”

“Yeah,” Button replied. “In two weeks.”

“Two w—” Memory’s mic cut off. A second later, it came back on. “Sorry. You’re coming to Canterlot in two weeks?”

Button nodded slowly. “Yes. Me go Canterlot. Me go in two weeks. Me say same thing over and over.”

Memory laughed. “Oh, stop it.”

“Fine.” Button chuckled. The two continued to move down the stairs. “Why do you ask?”

Memory took a moment before she replied. “Fade, have I told you where I live?”

“Uhh…” Button thought for a second. “Equestria?”

Memory glared at him. “Ha ha. Really.”

Button shook his head. “I don’t think so, no.”

“I live in Canterlot.”

Button was silent for a second. “Y-you do?” he stammered. “Well, that’s interesting.”

“Yeah…” Memory said. “Maybe when you get here, we could meet up? See each other face to face?”

Button’s mind raced. He’d known Memory online for a long time. They’d been duoing together almost every day, and she was probably his best friend in the whole world. But… “Mem, I’m not sure…” He gulped down the apprehension rising through his throat as he thought about the previous time he had arranged an offline meetup. The ordeal with Rumble had already made him sick, but that, that was—

“Oh, okay.” Memory’s voice was flatter than usual. “It’s cool. We can still run together when you’re out here though, right?”

—that was nowhere close to the burn in his chest induced by the barely hidden sadness in Memory’s voice. “You know what, Mem? You’re my best friend. We should totally meet up when I’m out there! And dinner’s on me!”

The mare’s voice immediately brightened. “Oh, that sounds nice! It’ll be good to finally have a face to match up with the voice!”

“Yeah, it will!” The two of them finally reached the bottom of the staircase. “Okay. I’m gonna open this door if there aren’t any traps. Can you see inside?”

Button saw Memory flip down one of her visor scopes. A moment later she shook her head. “Nope. No traps. You’re all clear.”

“Perfect.” Button charged his implants and kicked down the door. They swiftly rushed inside to find a room filled with footlockers, storage chests, and plasteel containers. “Jackpot,” Button muttered.

Memory flipped open her communicator. A message appeared in the guild comm channel.

>Memory: We’ve got the goods. Send in team two.

Button opened up one of the lockers. It was filled to burst with looted crafting components, survival supplies, weapons, armor, and anything else that the raiders could have grabbed from different guild encampments. “Wow. This is a lot more than what they stole from us. They must have been hitting everypony in the area!”

“Yeah…” Memory agreed. She opened another container to find the same thing. We’ll have to contact our allies and see if we can identify where they got all of th—”


“They’re still here! Quick, get them before they steal our loot!”

Button’s head shot up as his proximity voice detector activated. The gruff voice filled his ears, and he immediately activated his visor. He could see the outlines of seven enemies rushing down the stairs. he turned to face Memory, and they smiled at each other.

“You ready?” he asked.

She smiled. “Always.”

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