• Published 2nd Aug 2015
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Oskar Osäker: Your Worst Enemy - Legionary



The third entry into the Viral Unicorn series

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Chapter 6: ... Is Yourself

There was silence for a brief moment before Emerald scowled and turned about in place before quickly stomping away. The virus reached up to her ear and quickly conjured a radio headset before setting it to a specific frequency.

“Belvedere!” Emerald shouted out and, after impatiently waiting a moment, there was a click and audio streaming in from the other end.

“Boss, Bulto's under attack by things swarming out of that pool he was guarding!” Belvedere said immediately, the sound of dogs talking in somewhat panicked tones in the background.

“I know. Listen, I don't have long,” Emerald said with a deadly serious tone. “Those things are infected creatures. Some will seem like ponies or other races, but they aren't. Don't try to take them captive, just kill them. There will be others, bigger and deadlier creatures. Use everything at your disposal, deploy everyone and everything.”

“Will you be letting the new creatures out of their pods for this?” Belvedere asked.

“No, I was in the middle of adding in more things to them,” Emerald answered. “They aren't ready, but the four definitely are. Get the three pilots ready and I'll probably have the fourth sent along shortly. I have my own part to play in this fight and can't command, so you have full authority here Belvedere. Make me proud.”

Turning off the headset, Emerald turned around to face the others and quickly strode back over, mentally counting every second that passed. She had to because she fully expected every wasted second to be incredibly costly.

“Alright, we practically have no time at all to plan anything,” Emerald said, face twisted in tension. “Discord, if you give anything approaching a damn about Fluttershy, you and your copy better go make yourselves useful. Since he obviously knows what he is talking about, you better listen to your better half.”

“Now just one mom-” Discord began in vexation but was interrupted by his other self placing his hand on his shoulder.

“She is right,” spoke the Other Discord, the glowing rent seeming to stare a hole of its own into Discord. “We must go and fight right now.”

With that, the two disappeared from sight. Emerald then turned to the others. The seriousness of the situation was not lost on any of them and even Rainbow Dash was looking attentively to Emerald.

“Alright, Oskar's target is almost certainly going to be you and or the Elements of Harmony,” Emerald said. “The best we can do is try to head him off and try to stop him from reaching you directly. He can find you all extremely easily, so there is no point in trying to hide. Just try get somewhere secure and get the Elements so we can use them when we can. Do all of you understand?”

“Yes,” everyone replied firmly with nods.

With that, Emerald teleported away, nothing more to be said and dearly hoping to not waste anymore time and try to keep the death count down.

An instant later the evolved was over the area where the mirror pool was. There was now a massive hole exposing the cavern to the open air. The pool itself was now black and releasing pulses of red light, various infected ponies and beings of other species flooding forth from the pool in the dozens every second as the outpost that had been set up a short distance away from the pool attracted most of the infected’s attention. They appeared to be doing well, as most infected couldn't get close before being pulped by the powerful guns wielded by the defenders. The few super heavy machine guns on the outpost in particular were doing a fine job of tearing through the larger infected before they could close as well. Looking up, Emerald could see the two Discords together and observing the situation.

'Where the hell is he?' Emerald thought as precious moments passed by. She sent out a viral pulse before realizing that was a stupid action. 'He most certainly has cockatrice DNA and thus whatever it has that makes it invisible to the sonar. He is being stealthy right now and every moment he goes without notice is one more he has to act on his own and plan... wait, he is me. What would I do here? Well, I would create a dis-'

Emerald's eye widened in realization before she turned in place to face Canterlot in the distance. An instant later, she disappeared in a pink flash.

ALPHA

The Mane Six were currently galloping down one of the many halls of the Royal Palace. There had been a quick debate over whether they and the princesses should stay together, but considering they were clearly going to be targeted by Oskar, it was decided it was best that if Oskar went after the Elements, only the princesses would be caught. If he went after the Mane Six, the Elements were fine. It was a grim decision, but considering the last time they as a group had to face Emerald in a fight they could even try to put up a fight, and Oskar was considered to be stronger... it was the best that could be done. Right now they were trying to go deeper into the palace in hopes that the various magical defenses around one of the special vaults would slow him down.

They were about halfway down one hallway when suddenly a shadow was cast over them from one of the windows and there was a loud crash of breaking glass. The group came to a halt, giving startled shouts as bits of glass went flying and showered over them. Looking over to their side, they saw him.

The Mane Six each had somewhat differing expectations of him. Fluttershy thought he would be big, shadowy and looming over them. Rainbow Dash was expecting a slavering monster, maddened with lust for blood and murder. Rarity was expecting him to be dirty and clearly crude looking. Pinkie Pie was expecting a dreadful fanged smile and glowing red eyes. Applejack was expecting him to be bereft of color and any sort of lightness. Twilight was the only one whose expectations were proven accurate.

Other than a change of gender, different hair color and the fact his clothes fit him better, he looked no different than Emerald's female human form. And for someone who was supposed to be a horrific genocidal killer, his expression wasn't what was expected either, being that of simple, calm determination. Yet Twilight Sparkle found this almost mundane appearance terrifying. If she knew about her friends’ expectations of what they thought Oskar was going to look like and he had somehow fulfilled them all, she would have found that far less scary.

There was the smallest moment of silence as Oskar and the Mane Six stared at each other, their wide eyes meeting his calm, considering gaze. Then Oskar's hands shifted into a pair of claws and Twilight released a startled cry as she suddenly flew forward towards the virus, her form covered in a crimson aura. Oskar raised a hand and caught Twilight by the horn just as she reached him. Twilight gave an agonized scream as the sound of her horn cracking and pieces of it crushing together under Oskar's grip filled the hall.

“LET HER GO YOU MURDERING MONSTER!” Rainbow Dash roared out as she took flight and shot towards Oskar, Applejack not one moment behind her as she released her own wordless battlecry.

Twilight fell from Oskar's grip, not because he let her go but because her horn ceased to exist under his crushing grip. Before she could hit the ground, Oskar lashed out with a foot and sent her flying, the sound of her ribcage cracking and breaking under the blow filling the air along with her pained shouts. The unicorn flew past her charging friends and hit Rarity and Pinkie Pie harshly, sending the three of them impacting the far wall with a meaty thump.

Just as Rainbow Dash and Applejack were about to impact Oskar they suddenly froze in their charge, their eyes widening in surprise and shock as they found themselves unable to move. Almost casually, Oskar walked forward past them. As he did so, he reached over with one claw and idly dragged it across Dash's back. The pegasus released screams of pain, muffled by her forcibly closed mouth, as one of her wings were cut in half and the other was fully severed. Oskar's other claw found Applejack's back as well and his claws briefly tapped her back almost as if thinking of something to do, leaving several cuts every time they did so, before Oskar simply balled it into a fist and brought it down harshly against her back. The cowpony released a pained cry as a sharp, sickening crack filled the air and her back bent in noticeably where she was struck. As the virus then left them behind him, the crimson auras around them left and they both fell to the floor, Rainbow Dash crippled by the pain of her wounds and maiming, and Applejack crippled by her broken back.

“H-H-HOW DARE YOU?!?” Fluttershy growled in barely contained rage, her eyes glaring with such intensity they could have burned holes into Oskar.

Oskar gave her but a moment's glance and there was the sound of stone grinding together before suddenly, in Fluttershy's place, was a perfect stone replica of her. The evolved had petrified her in an instant. Oskar kept moving forward past the now stone pegasus and came to a stop before the still tangled pile up of the remaining Mane Six. He reached down to grab at Twilight.

“No!” Rarity shouted and was immediately up and out from the pile, attempting to place herself between Twilight and Oskar. “Leave her be, you ruffian! Do not-”

Oskar absently whipped the back of his hand at Rarity. There was a wet, meaty impact along with the sound of bones crunching under incredible force. Rarity crumbled over onto her side without another word, her jaw completely broken and most of her teeth sent flying from the impact. Her eyes glazed over as the blow knocked the wits out of her. In annoyance, Oskar looked over to Pinkie Pie to see if she was going to get in the way as well. The pink mare was in no condition to do such a thing, however; both physically and emotionally. She had landed awkwardly on one of her back legs and twisted it badly, though seeing Oskar also completely decimate her friends without any effort took the rest of the fight out of her. She was now lying on the ground under Twilight, her mane completely straight and lacking all curls and volume, tears streaming down her cheeks in steady rivers as she stared up in terror at the virus.

Seeing he wasn't going to be interrupted again, Oskar reached out with his magic this time and levitated Twilight into the air before him.

“This is definitely a mirrored universe,” Oskar commented. “You look exactly like the other one.”

“I-is... is there a reason I'm still alive?” Twilight asked, forcing a scowl through the intense pain of her crushed horn, its throbbing absence like a persistent sledgehammer upon her head. “A-all it wou-would take is a moment to e-eat me and you... you have what you want.”

“Ah, so he did come here,” Oskar stated, one brow raised in curiosity. “How else would you know about that little fact? But why weren't you prepared? You had more than enough time for it. What plan could he have that would include risking the very thing he came here for?”

“Doesn't a-answer my question,” Twilight glared in defiance. “Why am I s-still alive?”

“You sound like you find that fact distasteful,” Oskar commented. “If you must know, he would be more likely to stick around if what he came for was still alive. Course that doesn't mean you have to be in one piece for that to count now does it?”

“You stupid... monster... piece of garbage,” came a strained voice.

Looking over Oskar's shoulder, Twilight saw Dash raise unsteadily onto her hooves, the stumps of her wings and the deep cut across her back bleeding heavily and dripping down onto the floor.

“I thought… I told you...” Dash panted, glaring bloody murder at the virus. “To let her go you fre- guaACK!”

Still looking at Twilight, Oskar's raised a hand with index finger pointed outwards. Behind him, Dash's eyes widened as a bright magical aura coalesced around her tongue. Oskar then twitched his finger towards Fluttershy and with a wet ripping sound, Dash's tongue was torn harshly out of her mouth and flew towards her petrified friend, smacking her wetly in the face before falling to the floor.

“Right,” Oskar began as Dash began to scream horrifically, forcibly stopping every other moment due to briefly choking on blood going down her throat. “I believe-”

STOP HURTING MY FRIENDS!” Twilight screamed in Oskar's face, adrenaline making her completely forget the pain she was experiencing.

“Or what?” Oskar stated rhetorically with a tired tone. “You will stop me?”

“No...” Twilight said as she looked down the hall to her left. “You.”

“Really?” Oskar said with a sigh at the childish response, also not falling for the clear attempt to distract his attention. “That's the best comeback you ca-”

Suddenly Oskar was sent flying via jump kick to the face thanks to Emerald's sudden and thankfully ignored entry. Twilight dropped to the floor and watched as the white and blue blur that was Oskar shot down the hall and impacted the far wall with a deafening crash.

“No really...” Twilight sighed in pain. “You.

Emerald was immediately at her side and examining her wounds before quickly looking over the other Mane Six.

'Broken horn, four broken ribs, six cracked ribs, cracked sternum and some minor internal bleeding,' Emerald thought apprehensively as her tendrils reached out and connected to Twilight and the others. 'Rarity has a shattered broken jaw and much of her teeth along the left side are missing. She is experiencing some rather severe whiplash but nothing permanent if immediately fixed. Fluttershy is an easy fix. Dash is missing a wing and most of the other one. That cut along her back is exposing her spine and there is some minor nerve damage. Applejack has a broken spine but also internal bleeding from bone shards and the jagged edges of the break being forced into the flesh. Pinkie has a badly twisted leg and is in shock and unresponsive. A shot of some chemicals should fix the latter for the short term.'

With but a moment's effort on Emerald's part, the Mane Six were made whole and in perfect health once more. Injuries that would never heal and would have changed their lives forever were undone as months of healing and physical therapy were done within a second and one magically induced condition was reversed. Emerald turned her attention down the hall where she had sent her alternate self flying down. He was already back up as expected and was walking towards her with wide, surprised eyes.

“Twilight,” Emerald said as she rose up to a stand and faced down Oskar's approach with a steely gaze. “Listen to Belvedere.”

“Wha-” Twilight began but was already gone in a bright pink flash along with the rest of the mane six.

There was a moment of silence only filled by the sounds of Oskar's approaching footsteps. The other virus being came to a stop about forty feet away from Emerald and stared at her in surprise for a moment, taking her form in before he calmed and his expression turned neutral. Then there came the sounds of hoof steps rapidly approaching along with alarmed shouts. Emerald simply raised her foot and brought it down, closing off many passages to the hall she was in with newly erected sheer stone walls. The Royal Guard would be no use here.

“When I arrived here, I thought the main thing that made this alternate universe different was simply the fact I wasn't here,” Oskar stated. “Clearly I was wrong and am now trespassing. I don't know how you managed to control them without having to worry about them sealing you and taking unacceptable risks, but it clearly worked... I'd ask how, but it's too late for that. Look, I'm here for one thing and one thing only. My Discord is here looking for a means to get rid of me. I'll gladly make my forces go back through the portal if you just let me hunt him down or maybe even help me get him, then I'll leave and never come back. Okay?”

Emerald just stared back. She wasn't actually listening to him, which was fortunate because were she in a more normal state of mind she'd find the offer extremely tempting. Here standing before her was a version of her that had taken that irreversible decision to kill Twilight and fell to truly horrifying depths of murder and destruction. That fact just repeated itself endlessly in her mind. Eventually her mind cleared a moment and she realized that Oskar was patiently staring at her, waiting for her to say something. She had only one thing on her mind to say.

“Adela... mom...” Emerald said with a depressed look. “...She would be so disappointed in what you became...”

Oskar's eyes widened to their widest extent and he recoiled as if he was painfully struck. Tears instantly formed at the corners of his eyes and his expression twisted into one of guilt, grief and agony. It then twisted again, this time into an ugly visage of rage as tears out of pure hatred poured down his cheeks.

RAAAAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!” Oskar released a bestial roar of pure rage and charged at Emerald with clawed hands outstretched. The roar was such a deafening volume that the windows lining the hallway shattered instantly and the power beneath his footsteps collapsed the stonework of the floor into the ground. Such was his speed that he reached Emerald within a second, but Emerald's reaction time was more than enough to prepare her for his charge with time to spare.

Oskar impacted into Emerald with a ground shaking impact, causing the surrounding structure to shudder and a loud bang to echo. For a moment, Emerald's hands pushed back against Oskar's claws and they met each other equally. The next moment, crimson lightning surged around Oskar's arms and Emerald's arms buckled under the weight of his strength.

Oskar quickly struck Emerald in the face hard enough to turn her about and wrapped his arms around her waist before charging down the hall, Emerald taking the full brunt of the blow as Oskar charged straight through a stone wall.

BETA

“RUNNING LOW!” bellowed a Warhound as she emptied her rifle through the firing slit of the concrete barrier before her.

“Here!” answered a dog pushing a big, seemingly empty cart.

The Warhound quickly reached down and fished out the remaining ammunition and returned to shooting apart infected trying to swarm the outpost. The dog pushing the cart quickly turned about to head back into the basement to load the cart up again.

“AUGH! Piece of shit!” another Warhound bellowed as a twisted, multi-limbed monstrosity that might have once been a monkey squeezed through the firing slit and started clawing at his armor. “Burn in hell!”

The Warhound's neighbor barely twitched as he grabbed the infected and threw it to the ground before stomping it and sending bits flying. Said neighbor was far too focused on shooting to pieces another Brawler that was charging up the slope at the outpost. The Brawlers, for all their size and strength, had next to no ability to resist the extreme caliber of the Warhound's bullets. Every shot that hit tore out large, crippling pieces each time. However... not every one of the lesser infected happened to be a near crippled shambler. Some were highly advanced in their infection and could run just as fast as the Brawlers, which was definitely the case when the Brawler that was just shot to pieces proved to be an unintentional shield for the infected behind it.

“Ugh, ugly things,” the Warhound muttered quietly as several infected suddenly swarmed his firing slit and attempted to force themselves in, their twisted, snarling faces glaring balefully at the defenders within. The Warhound simply responded by swiping the monomolecular blade on the end of his rifle at the lot of them before pushing some of the corpses out of the way.

The outpost was really an outpost in name only. In actuality it was a highly secure fortress in its own right. It was a star fortress type of fortification with five points and had two levels along with a basement and sub-basement. Each level of the fortress was lined with firing slits and each slit had at least one heavy machine gun to be manned. The roof of the fortress was lined with razor wire and crenelations, and none of the infected had managed to reach much farther than the second level so the razor wire was still clean. On the roofs of each point of the fort were small towers topped with super heavy machine guns. Only three of the guns currently could be brought to face and fire on the infected, but by the rate said infected were spreading out, the fort would soon be seeing combat from all sides. There was a bit of an issue concerning the flier infected but they were physically weak and few in number at the moment.

“There is no end to the things,” Bluno said, blasting apart another Brawler with his sniper rifle just as it emerged from the pool. He had gotten said rifle from his friend Whisper Wind who had dropped it off along with a sizable amount of ammunition. He was focusing mostly on the Brawlers who were attempting to charge off into the forest rather than swarm the fort. So far, only a handful had managed to do so at the cost of much of his ammo. Thankfully, Whisper was on the way with another load of ammo for his rifle.

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!” Mikhail roared as he fired the heavy machine gun he had taken from the basement, remaining constantly full on ammo thanks to an entire cart of ammo he commandeered for himself as well.

“The Ataman agrees,” Timujin translated snidely as he picked off the occasional infected with a pistol, more focused on observing the situation unfold and advising Bluno on responses. Suddenly he tilted his head to the side and twitched his ears. “What in the world is that infernal whistle?”

Bluno paused a moment to listen as well. He couldn't figure out what it was as well and was about to return his attention to the Brawlers when suddenly a spot on the roof of the fort exploded and pieces of metal shards were sent whistling past. Bluno was completely at a loss at this when suddenly more explosions rang out, but this time most of them among the infected on the ground. Suddenly Bluno knew exactly what this was.

“Belvedere the artillery is off!” Bluno shouted into the radio. “We're getting hit too!”

“Only some gunners have started their training and even then it was only just started,” came the commanding Alpha's calm response. “They are learning on the job now. Be thankful your armor is rated against the fragmentation shells we are using, over.”

“We have wolverines over here!” Bluno replied as said two wolverines hunkered down to avoid flying shrapnel. “Friendly fire casualties is imminent unless they learn to shoot!”

“Noted...” Belvedere sighed lowly. “Be advised that the raptors are fully deployed. Four squads will reinforce your position while the rest forms a cordon around the invasion site. ETA arrival is four minutes. Two battalions of Warhounds are forming up and will be deploying as well within the next five minutes. We'll be seeing a full regiment being deployed to assist within the next twenty. The Wolverine division has already formed up and is on the march. They'll be reaching your position in ETA twenty minutes. Command out... and learn your radio etiquette.”

Bluno sighed and returned to shooting Brawlers as they emerged from the pool.

'Twenty minutes for major reinforcements,' Bluno thought worriedly as his rifle bucked slightly in his grasp. 'Might as well be a week away and who knows what might happen to slow them down... at least the artillery is shooting straight now.'

Far above in the sky watching the battle unfold was Discord and his Alternate. The Alternate was staring down at the pool as if waiting for something and Discord was looking rather restless from simply sitting back and watching.

“This is an utter waste of time,” Discord muttered with a huff. “They can handle this, so why am I even here?”

“Because Fluttershy might die if you don't help,” the Alternate stated bluntly as he continued to stare. “The fact you care for anyone is honestly quite the surprise. It took half the world dying and being destroyed before I started to think of the diluted descendants as anything other than playthings. I suppose I'm a better spirit than I thought I was.”

“Can you no-” Discord began with a scowl.

“There,” the Alternate interrupted and pointed down towards the pool. “Get ready to follow my lead.”

“Wha-”

“Don't worry, you'll pick it up fast,” the Alternate said with a narrowing of his one eye as the pool started to pulse with crimson light. “I know I did.”

The mirror pond started to pulse with crimson lightning and waves were being kicked up. For the moment, the constant stream of infected from the pool halted. Without the constant flow of infected, the fort soon ran out of targets to shoot and it was quiet for a moment save for the crackle of lightning from the pool. Suddenly, the ground started to shake and great cracks formed in the ground around the pool. After a few moments, large pieces of the ground collapsed to the other side of the pool. After the shaking was done, the pool had doubled in size.

Without any warning, a large, amorphous mass of black suddenly shot out from the pool and reached up towards the sky. Immediately the fort opened fire on the black mass, but their shots seemed to pass through it harmlessly. That was because it wasn't actually one being; it was made up out of countless infected parasprites with gleaming red eyes, black bodies and mouths full of shredding teeth. Blacklight parasprites.

“NOW!” the Alternate shouted to his stunned other self and reached out towards the massive swarm of blacklight parasprites.

Instantly a cloud of broiling plasma appeared around the parasprite swarm. Seemingly, the advance of the parasprites came to a stop but the shape of the plasma cloud shifted, changed size as it seemed to bubble. Below, the flow of infected from the pool started again along with the constant surge of black parasprites, this time in even larger numbers thanks to the increased size of the pool.

“Go over to the other side and start manipulating the cloud there,” the Alternate told Discord, his focus completely on the cloud of plasma. “We have to keep this swarm from getting past us in any great number.”

“Uh, right,” Discord replied a little unsurely and teleported to the other side of the cloud. He reached out with his magic and took control of his half of the plasma cloud. At first he was a little anxious at what he was doing, having never really used his power to kill before, but the ease of the action made him quickly relax and grow confident.

'Quite simple,' Discord thought in an almost laid back manner as he shifted the plasma cloud into a smooth, almost cylindrical shape for easier control. 'If this is all I have to do, then-'

Suddenly the plasma on his side bulged out which made him give a shout of surprise as he didn't will it. With a vast splash of plasma that rained down to the ground below and set a section of forest aflame, a massive swarm of black parasprites surged forth. The swarm began to spread out and allowed the impromptu crust heat shield made up of their dead fellows to fall away. Discord panicked and tried to quickly move the plasma around to try to catch the swarm as his side of the cloud continued to weaken and more bulges formed.

Suddenly the rogue swarm was pulled into a small ball a fraction of its original size and tossed into the cloud. The weaknesses forming in the cloud also quickly bubbled over and the cloud lost its neat, cylindrical shape.

“You must adapt to the swarm's attempts to get past you,” the Alternate stated, now at his other self's side. The two rips in his form were glowing brightly and he was beginning to breath deeply from exertion. “If you create a neat shape, they'll simply plow through... you need to learn this fast... my power drains far faster than yours.”

“... Right.” Discord gritted his teeth and started to concentrate.

Down below in the depths of the Enclave, in a building meant to act as a day care of sorts, were the Mane Six. Their sudden arrival had caused a bit of a stir, especially with the conflict currently going on, on the surface. One of the old Matrons had been sent out to inform Belvedere of what happened after Twilight told them Emerald sent them and she was supposed to listen to Belvedere. Twilight had then started to wait impatiently for Belvedere to arrive.

The unicorn was sitting on a couch and looking over her friends. Diana had arrived not too long ago and started talking to and hugging her “sister” who looked more confused than anything right now. Fluttershy was trying to distract herself by playing with the little pups who were in the daycare. As soon as she found out they had tea here, Rarity went to the kitchen to get some for her frazzled nerves. Applejack had apparently felt the same way and went along with her. Rainbow Dash was looking much like a furious cat and sat in the corner glaring at anyone who dared come near. Just as the drugs seem to run their course in Pinkie and she started to cry, Belvedere had arrived then.

“Belvedere!” Twilight called out and trotted over to him before suddenly remembering what had happened the last time they met. “Uhh... Emerald said I was supposed to listen to you...”

“Emerald told me to come to her if I should ever need to strike you again,” Belvedere stated bluntly with a neutral expression. “You do not need to fear me striking you. Now, there is not much time we have to get going.”

“O-oh that's umm...” Twilight said, going into a trot as Belvedere started into a jog. “Where are we going?”

“I was expecting your arrival,” Belvedere answered as the two of them ran out into the street. “Emerald told me she would be sending you along. I'm expecting you to not want to be simply standing by while everyone is fighting?”

“I want to help,” Twilight said, brows furrowed in determination. “I know that I can't help Emerald in her fight, but anything else I can do I will do.”

“Thought so,” Belvedere nodded before he sped up into a sprint. “Let's go.”

Belvedere and Twilight sprinted through the streets of the city. The atmosphere was tense and shouts echoed throughout the city. Everywhere Twilight looked, there was someone rushing somewhere. Some dogs were pushing carts full of ammo or guns as fast as they could without overturning the cart. Squads of Warhounds wearing their power armor charged forward, always in the same direction.

'They are heading up to the fight,' Twilight thought as she followed Belvedere deeper into the Hub. 'Where am I going that I'll be able to do the most good? Don't tell me Emerald intends for me to “guard” some vault holding something highly important to keep me away from the thick of it? No, she wouldn't do that, at least not without including the others as well. So what am I going to do that will help from this far below ground?'

Twilight couldn't figure out the answer to this riddle before she found herself being lead down a large hall carved into a sheer stone wall. Even here dogs were rushing this way and that, but most of them weren't wearing armor, even though they had a highly muscled tone telltale of Warhounds.

Belvedere suddenly came to a stop at a crossroads between hallways. Twilight was about to ask what was going on when a dog suddenly came charging up a hall at them. It was a female golden retriever wearing a pair of goggles and a vest covered in many pockets.

“I have to return to commanding the battle,” Belvedere said and took a headset out of his longcoat. “Here, I'll be contacting you through this in a bit. Right now Missy shall take you the rest of the way to your destination.”

“You're the boss' sweetheart, huh?” Missy ask with a tilt of her head as Belvedere immediately took off down a hall at a sprint. “You don't look like much, but I've been hanging out around Warhounds a lot. Come on! This way!”

Before Twilight could form any sort of reply, the golden retriever had took off at a run down the hall she came up. The unicorn quickly took off at a gallop after Missy and followed her, putting her headset on in the process. Before long she found herself ascending some stairs with Missy waiting for her at the top before an opening into darkness.

“Almost there. Just keep following me,” Missy said as Twilight neared. The unicorn also saw that there was a catwalk stretching out into the darkness and she could just faintly make out the form of a wall.

Twilight followed Missy as the diamond dog walked onto the catwalk and her eyes strained to quickly adapt to the lack of light. She soon realized she was lead into a completely dark opening in the shadowed wall.

“Just walk in here,” Missy said as she came to a stop beside the dark opening and motioned to within.

“What am I going to be doing in here?” Twilight asked as she came to a stop before the darkness with a frown. “I'm not just being put in a vault for my own safety, right?”

“Well... you'll definitely be safer in here than any of the Warhounds fighting on the front lines will be,” Missy answered, seemingly confirming Twilight's suspicions. “But while you are in here you'll find yourself in the thick of it before long.”

“Really?” Twilight said in some confusion before stepping into the dark.

“There will be liquid,” Missy stated as she reached over to touch something on the wall. “Don't worry about it. It's to absorb shock and is highly oxygenated.”

“What?” Twilight said questioningly when suddenly the opening she just walked through seemed to cease to exist.

A moment later Twilight's horn lit up and she found that she was in a completely spherical chamber with several openings in the walls. She almost lost her footing when she felt the room shift and move and the sounds of something heavy being slid into place. After things seemed to come to a halt, there was the sound of rushing water and she looked around to see liquid pouring in through the openings.

“Okay, water is coming in and there is no way out,” Twilight stated as calmly as she could as the water level started to rapidly rise. “She said it was oxygenated so it should be fine...”

Suddenly a soft glow enveloped Twilight and she found herself being lifted up into mid air into the very center of the chamber. The unicorn found herself wondering what else was going to happen just as the water level rose above her snout.

GAMMA

“Ugh!” Emerald grunted as another wall crumbled beneath the force of her body's impact. She immediately flipped up onto a standing position just as Oskar crashed into her again. The two rapidly exchanged blows with Emerald feeling like she was just a normal human breaking her fists on unyielding steel, while Oskar's blows felt like jackhammers into her sides.

Suddenly Oskar's fist shifted into a spike and he drove it into her chest. There was a brief, blinding glow and she was sent flying sans the front of her chest. No doubt if she had them, not only would her internal organs be exposed they likely would have spilled out mid flight.

Emerald's wound healed before she landed and she rolled back up into a stand as she impacted the floor. Oskar was quick on the followup and was already almost on top of her, but Emerald was a bit faster and met his charge with a prepared fist. The other Evolved was sent stumbling back from the force of the blow, but at the same time reached out with his other hand glowing with magical power. A mirrored barrier simply appeared mid air before Emerald as the intense beam of magic left Oskar's palm. The beam hit the barrier and was deflected up into the ceiling where it instantly incinerated everything in it's path to the open sky.

Oskar teleported with a blinding flash of light and appeared behind Emerald, then quickly wrapped his arms around her. Emerald struggled in his grasp futilely for a moment, almost completely failing to fight his grip at all as tendrils stretched out from his arms and tried to pierce into her form.

Emerald suddenly killed the outer inch layer of viral cells in her body and stamped her foot. A pillar of stone shot up under Oskar as he was left holding nothing more than useless skin made of dead cells. Regenerating the lost cells in a near instant, Emerald shifted one arm into a whip fist and shot it at Oskar who was now above her. Almost before the head of the whip impacted, she swung the rest of the whip forward, sending Oskar flying through the air and crashing into the floor.

Emerald rolled to the side as her opponent almost instantly came charging out of the crater he made. As he charged past, Emerald lashed out with a kick and through that limb absorbed as much heat as possible from Oskar's body. Instantly the nearby fabric of the rug started to blacken and smolder as waves of heat rose from Emerald's body. Right away Oskar was almost frozen solid and his body fell over with a thunk onto the floor. Pointing with her other hand, Emerald let loose a super charged Sonic blast that pulverized everything in it's path, shattering Oskar's frozen form and turning the stone of the floor into a fine powder.

Almost as soon as she let off the sonic blast there had been been a flash of light from within Oskar's frozen form and one behind her. Arm shifting into a shield, she turned in time to meet the fall of a somewhat black humanoid shape falling towards her with Hammerfist cocked back to strike. Even with Oskar only as partially formed as he was, his blow still had more than enough power in it to instantly shatter Emerald's shield.

Oskar's punch carried on through Emerald's shattered shield and hit her squarely in the chest, sending her not only into the ground but through it to the floor below it. Oskar teleported again to where Emerald was to land, almost completely reformed with just a brief instant's time. He reached out with his hand to grab Emerald as she flew towards him but the other Evolved teleported just before reaching him. Suddenly she was at his side but also still retaining her previous velocity, delivering a powerful kick that once again was used to absorb all the heat in Oskar's body.

The male Evolved however was prepared for the side effect of Emerald's kick, increasing the natural heat of his body to the point that only a light frost enveloped his form when Emerald kicked him. For her part, Emerald was now hot enough to start turning the stone under her feet molten and instantly set aflame anything flammable near her.

Emerald kept her guard up and readied for Oskar's next charge. In her view, dust clouds billowed slowly and the rubble from her crashing through the floor had yet to reach ground, merely inching closer with every moment. It was clear that neither of them was going full out just yet, mostly because they didn't know what it was like to go full out with their power. This fight was as much a test of their limits and full capabilities as it was a battle for supremacy.

Oskar came charging out at her again from down the hall, the ground bursting apart from the force of his steps, but at the speed he was going they only did so a moment after he stepped off them. Emerald charged forth as well, her fist cocked back to meet his. An instant before they met, Emerald teleported behind him as Oskar punched at the now empty air. However the male Evolved purposely over committed force into his punch, making him flip forwards into the air when he missed. His other hand snapped out at Emerald's grasping hand, which she had intended to use to attempt to freeze him again. Gripping firmly on Emerald wrist, he swung her over and forwards, his arm stretching out as he did so, shifting into a whipfist.

Oskar's whipfist spread tendrils around Emerald's body rapidly, entrapping her as magic filled the air and denied her the ability to teleport out of the hold. Emerald struggled and twisted in her bindings, her expression quickly growing more and more panicked as the moments stretched on. The female Evolved bared her teeth in a pained grimace as the tendrils finished completely cocooning her and started trying to wear away at her.

DELTA

“Status report on the units,” Belvedere barked as he stared up into the tv screens of the war room.

“Err...” began one operator a little unsurely, still struggling a little with his console. “Bio Gear: Canis Rex units one, two and three are fully operational. All weapons are green and missile racks are fully loaded. Power supply and batteries at one hundred percent.”

“Pilots, are you ready to deploy?” Belvedere spoke into his headset.

“SIR, YES SIR!” came three voices at once.

“Ummm... Belvedere?” Twilight said, uncertainty clear in her voice. “I don't... I can't ‘feel’ anything like what you just mentioned. I don't think I have any weapons...”

“Bio Gear: Equinox was the last Bio Gear to be slated for armament,” an operator answered at Belvedere's look. “We had only just finished installing the weapons systems and ammunition on the Canis Rex units when the attack began. Equinox however does have greater magical capabilities than the other units. So there is that at least.”

“You reading that, unit four?” Belvedere said.

“Uhh, yes,” Twilight replied, uncertainty still clear.

“Relax, you still have magic. It's probably for the best you have the one weapon you are used to, anyway,” Belvedere answered. “You'll be guarding the approach to Ponyville and the town itself directly while the other units are deployed into direct combat. We'll call you forward for mop up or emergency reinforcement if it all goes to hell. Do you read me?”

“Uhhh...” Twilight was for a moment conflicted on the fact she wasn't going to go in and help but at the same time she liked the idea of protecting her home and the home of her friends. “Okay, I'll do that.”

“That wasn't a request, unit four,” Belvedere stated. “Alright you all know what to do. Deploy!”

On the surface, the situation had deteriorated. The increased swarm of infected pouring forth from the portal made it so that even the constant hail of gunfire couldn't stop great numbers of infected from getting everywhere. Even a good number of shambling infected could reach the fort now thanks to just how many there were. Bluno couldn't hope to stop Brawlers from getting out into the forest. And as the Alpha had feared, the reinforcements had been delayed due to being bogged down by swarms of infected. At the very least the raptor reinforcements he had been promised had arrived. Their flames and ability to tear through anything the infected had was appreciated as the first level of the fort was threatened to be buried in gore and corpses. Even worse, the few crippled flier infected were growing in number and threatened to swarm the roof.

Suddenly there was a rumble as the ground seemed to shake. Eventually great cracks appeared in the earth which started to balloon upward and outward. With a massive explosion, pieces of dirt and some rock started flying everywhere and a vast dust cloud formed and covered the site of the explosion.

For a moment nothing happened and the swarms of infected kept charging outwards nigh mindlessly. Suddenly, dozens of rockets came screaming out of the dust cloud and landed among the infected, slaughtering great swathes of them. There was the sound of air rushing and something massive moved the air rapidly and the dust cloud was dispersed in an instant.

It was a massive diamond dog, or at least looked like a massive diamond dog completely covered in armor. The massive dog towered over everything at sixty feet. Its armor was dark blue with white highlights, several gatling cannons mounted around its wrists and head with ammo belts leading down into the body, while upon its back rested many missile ports. Large green eyes seemed to take in the world as a deafening growl left its massive maw.

“Bio Gear: Canis Rex, designation Unit One,” the pilot within the massive being stated into his radio. “We have arrived. Engaging the enemy.”

With a roar, Unit One leaped into the air, easily crossing over the mirror pool and the vast indent into the earth it occupied and landed on the opposite side. Many infected were crushed under the Unit's multi ton weight and many more were sent flying into the air from the shock of the impact. Gatling cannons started spooling before their deafening cacophony filled the air. Fountains of dirt shot up into the air as bullets struck it, as was always the case as no infected here had the physical durability to ever hope of withstanding a hit from the massive bullet.

Unit One raised its paws above it's head before bringing them crashing down on the ground. The a ripple seemed to be sent through the earth and hundreds of infected were sent flying. This action seemed to alert the infected of just how big a threat the massive being was and they started swarming it. The lesser infected swarmed the feet of Unit One to fruitlessly beat on its powerful armor, their punches and clawing serving only to really be absorbed by the kinetic function of the armor and power the batteries. The only real issue for the massive being was the Brawlers leaping up onto its form and fliers swarming it, but in the end it was only ever an annoyance as their claws proved to be just as effective as the lesser infected. With a spin of its whole body and wave of its arms, Brawlers were sent flying and fliers were pulped.

From the mere sight of the massive being, the Warhounds defending the outpost cheered and their morale soared as the battle clearly turned in their favor. But that wasn't the end of it.

Suddenly howls filled the air along with the roaring and screeching of countless beasts. Coming charging out of the treeline were hundreds of timber wolves tearing into the infected. The timber wolves looked different now. Whereas before they were clumps of logs and bits of wood fused together by magic, now they were made up of tightly entwined roots. It seemed Sovereign learned from his fight with the Enclave and adjusted his wolves. That wasn't the only thing he had done, though.

Massive bears made of entwined roots were also among the wolves, within their bodies was large boulders held tightly within the woven roots. The bears were massive, easily twenty feet tall and batted at Brawlers, sending them flying like toys.

“FOUL CREATURES!” Sovereign's voice boomed. “YOU SHALL NOT DESECRATE THE EVERFREE! IT SHALL NOT STAND SILENT! I WILL DRIVE YOU BACK INTO THE PIT THAT SPAWNED YOU!”

“Command, this is the outpost... uh, over,” Bluno stated before remembering his radio etiquette.

“Command reading you, come in, over,” came Belvedere's response.

“Yeah, we're getting forest spirit reinforcements over here,” Bluno reported as he spied over the flood of roots and moss crashing against an opposing flood of viral flesh and twisted bone. “You figure out how to stream video from these helmets yet, over?”

“Standby...” Belvedere stated and after hearing some muttering Bluno suddenly saw an image like that of a microphone with little half circles emerging from the top appear in the corner of his view. “Affirmative, we have a strong feed. Hmm... according to the reports, the Wolverines are barely five minutes away. Can you get a visual, over?”

“Standby,” Bluno replied and quickly sprinted over to the opposite end of the fort, leaving Mikhail and Timujin. Upon reaching the other end, he quickly brought up his sniper rifle and tried to spy past the trees and underbrush. For a moment it seemed to be a lost cause till he saw a tree fall over. Adjusting the scope, he was able to watch the tail end of a brutal takedown of a Brawler by a wolverine.

“Command, I have a visual on a wolverine. I am unable to tell if he is a scouting force or part of the main mercenary division.” Bluno watched for a moment longer and saw that the wolverine immediately started backing away. The reason why was made clear as two Brawlers rushed by to chase down the retreating wolverine. “By the looks of it, they are going to be bogged down in either case, over.”

“Hmm...” Belvedere hummed over the radio. “Wolverines are known for their infantry blocks... forest isn't the best environment for it... right, don't expect the wolverines to be there on time. The raptors are forming up and will be closing in soon. Warhound reinforcements will be supporting the wolverines from the flanks. Their push should be easier then... so as long as complications don't arise, this fight will be nothing more then a long slog, over.”

“Hold on...” Bluno stated as his ears twitched. “I think the other shoe is about to drop.”

The husky Alpha quickly ran back over to Mikhail and Timujin who had stopped firing. Skidding to a stop, Bluno saw that the flood of infected had once again stopped, though the constant stream of black parasprites into the churning fire filled sky above didn't slow for a moment. The Mirror pool was charged with crimson electricity and the ground shook and cracked. Once more vast chunks of earth fell away into the portal and the hole widened to the point that parts of the reinforced basement walls of the outpost were exposed.

“Yep... there's that other shoe.” Bluno sighed and loaded a fresh clip before mounting his sniper rifle on the fore battlements. “...over and out, I guess.”

Standing opposite the pool, Unit One punched the ground several times before bringing its fists together in a deafening crash. It released a roar full of anticipation as an almost solid mass of Brawlers poured forth from the portal. Suddenly a grotesque, scaled purple hand the size of a small house gripped the ground beside the portal.

EPSILON

The air in Ponyville was tense. The Diamond Dogs working on construction had suddenly gone into a panic and told the ponies there to go home or find somewhere safe before retreating into their tunnels. By now the ponies of Ponyville had come to realize that for some reason their town just attracted the worst kind of attention. Many had decided to bunker down in their homes though there were still a few ponies here and there on the streets. Needless to say when a massive creature suddenly appeared in the air with a blinding flash before falling to the ground with an earthshaking crash, everyone was quick to panic and run for cover.

“Wait, wait!” Twilight shouted in her cockpit as images of her surroundings flowed into her mind. “I'm here to help! How do you turn the megaphones on in this thing?!”

Bio Gear: Equinox was a bit shorter than it's Diamond Dog like compatriots but made up for lack in size with magical firepower; enough to overwhelm any normal unicorn but not Celestia or Luna. Equinox was covered in purple and white armor. It's large eyes were bright blue and unblinkingly took in the world. In spite of its pony form, Equinox also had a mouth full fearsome looking, flesh tearing teeth.

“Calm down everypony!” Twilight's voice boomed out from Equinox after she finally figured out how to turn on the megaphones. “It's me, Twilight! I'm here to help!”

Shockingly, a deafening voice telling them to calm down didn't result in ponies calming down. Twilight was left trying to stop the panic she caused via her arrival for several long minute. Not trusting herself to be graceful enough to not step on someone's home, the unicorn was left standing out on the outskirts and trying to talk to people.

“Twilight!” Belvedere started barked into the unicorn's headset, startling her.

“Eh, y-yes?” Twilight as she steadied herself from almost toppling over someone's house.

“The enemy has managed to get a sizable force through our cordon,” Belvedere stated, the sounds of alarmed chatter bleeding through from the background. “The majority of their force is made up of highly lethal creatures called Brawlers. Do NOT let them pass you into the town. The death toll will be great, otherwise. They have another creature called a goliath. It’s massive and is likely your equal in size. It's slower than the brawlers by a large margin so if you deal with the little ones quickly you will only have to focus on one target.”

“But I don't have any weapons!” Twilight interrupted, nerves quickly winding up.

“You're fifty feet tall, several hundred tons heavy, covered in the toughest armor in the world and your magical might is amplified ten fold in that thing,” Belvedere replied impatiently as the sounds of trees cracking and bushes rustling arose from the nearby forest. “Do not tell me that the hero of Equestria and Celestia's student can't fight some mindless monsters with the odds ludicrously stacked in her favor.”

Twilight simply ground her teeth and her eyes widened as the approaching enemy seemed mere moments away. Thoughts of the traumatizing brief torture she had been put under barely half an hour ago flashing through her mind.

“...Listen. Emerald fell in love with you for a reason,” Belvedere said with a noticeably gentler voice. “You're a hero at your very core. Protect your home, protect your friends and guard your loved ones. You'll do fine.”

“A-alright...” Twilight said with a deep breath. “I can do this, I can do this.”

The force of brawlers choose that point to burst through the foliage of the Everfree forest. Twilight charged forward, intent to attract as much of their attention as possible and keep the fight as far away from Ponyville as possible.

While the brawlers did have a form of basic sentience to them and had the senses to detect settlements and make a beeline for them, they had little to no sense for strategy or tactics. Thus when Twilight came charging forward in the massive form of Equinox, instead of having some of them engage her and the rest dodge around, the entirety of their horde focused their attentions on the biggest, most obvious target: her.

Twilight for her part proved to be quite the reluctant fighter when it came down to do or die, never having been in a fight where she had to kill her opponent. Her strikes with the hooves of Equinox were almost gingerly done in an attempt to simply incapacitate rather than kill her foes. The brawlers knew no such concept as mercy - Oskar either let them loose or he didn't - and swarmed Twilight's form like monstrous ants trying to bring down a far larger foe.

The unicorn's reluctance to go the full distance in a fight to the death was decreasing by the moment as she felt phantom sensations from Equinox. The feeling of many teeth and claws attempting to get under her protective armor to tear into her flesh was not a pleasant sensation. The last bits of her reluctance disappeared as a few brawlers got onto “her” face and started trying to tear her eyes out.

“Off! Off! Off! OFF!” Twilight screamed in rising panic. “GET! OFF! ME!

Equinox's horn flared like a blazing bonfire and Twilight felt a dim sensation of exhilaration from the simplistic consciousness of her Bio Gear, almost like a small voice in her head was crying “Finally!” with joy. A magical aura surrounded each of the brawlers currently on her body and gripped them so hard most of them were instantly killed by being crushed. Each of the held brawlers were lifted off of her and into the air before suddenly being smashed into the ground hard enough to sink into it. Turning to face the oncoming steady stream of brawlers from the forest, Twilight sent an intense beam of magic towards them.

Brawlers were instantly vaporized as the beam washed over them and burned a deep rent into the earth beneath them. The beam was large, several meters in diameter and the excess energy was enough that the air next to it shimmered with heat as the ground smoldered and was set alight. After turning several dozen into ash, there was only a handful more coming from the forest. Simply bringing the remaining brawlers together with telekinesis, Twilight transfigured the lot of them into oranges before sending them flying into the distance to be squashed upon landing.

'Oh my gosh... oh my gosh...' Twilight thought, taking a shuddering deep breath after the fight was done. 'That was horrific... is this what it's like for Emerald? I don't think I can bear it if I have to fight like this all the time...'

Though Twilight found what she went through yet another horrifying and traumatizing moment in her life among many others since Emerald entered it, there was a part of it she found rather fascinating. Namely the second consciousness she could now feel in her mind. She had been told over radio in a very brief orientation to becoming a Bio Gear pilot that a Bio Gear did not have true sentience. No, Equinox certainly did not have much of what could be called a mind without a pilot, as without a pilot a Bio Gear was dormant as the pilot's own mind provided needed processing power to take the final step into waking consciousness for a Bio Gear. The fact she could feel a second mind entwining with hers would have honestly been quite frightening, if it wasn't for the fact how clearly simplistic it felt and how it wore its heart on its sleeve so to speak. The mind was aggressive and cared only to work with its pilot to fight. In fact, it felt quite frustrated with her in the start of the fight to the point it felt like it was trying to tell her “Don't think! FIGHT!”. The frustration completely disappeared as all of Twilight's reluctance to fight lethally faded.

Twilight's focus returned to the world around her as she felt the ground shake under her.

'Right, Belvedere told me the Brawlers were being followed by something big,' Twilight thought with a grim stare into the forest, the sound of trees breaking and occasional sight of some being tossed aside meeting her eyes and ears. 'I can do this...'

Trees being smashed aside eventually revealed parts of her next enemy before its full form was revealed. From what she could see, it may be a twisted, infected dragon from the scaly cancerous purple skin she could make out. It seemed to have a ridged back as well, though much of the ridges seemed to have rotted away. With a roar that sent vile spittle flying, the beast burst through the tree line and turned to Twilight. It was definitely a dragon, though oddly it's appearance was disturbing her more so than normal and part of her felt like something was horribly off about it.

The infected dragon's proportions were off, many of its limbs bulkier than the other and possessing large, thick viral growths that tore through the scales of its body. One of its arms was almost left dragging upon the ground thanks to huge stone like growth surrounding the right fore arm of the dragon. One of its legs was almost lame in the lack of muscle it had to support its massive weight, while the other was more thickly built and able to handle its load. Its face was twisted and disproportioned as its body, glowing rents lined it and it looked like a long snout had been forcefully grown out but failed in managing it, leaving half a snout and the rest twisted back into a flat mouth. It was as she stared into the bloodshot green slitted eyes that she realized, with such incredible horror that she reeled backwards, what it was about the massive infected she found off.

Spike!?!” Twilight exclaimed through her megaphones in a horrified scream, voice painfully clear in wishing with all her heart she was wrong. “Spike” just gave a choking snarl at her and charged.

Twilight gave another scream as Spike's charge caught her completely unprepared and sent her rolling into the ground, the great form of Equinox tearing up the landscape. She managed to get back up onto her hooves before Spike brought his massive cudgel of a cancerous arm down on where she fell. Equinox raged in the corner of her mind but Twilight dominated the presence with an iron grasp that would have made Sombra proud.

Please stop! I don't want to hurt you!” Twilight pleaded as Spike turned to face her again. “Listen to me. Please, Spike!”

Spike paused and stared at her and, for a brief moment, Twilight thought she had gotten through to him. But reality was that the twisted creature that Spike had become was simply shifting weight onto its stronger leg before charging again. Hopeful as she was that she could get through to Spike, Twilight was once again caught unprepared by the infected baby dragon as he dashed forward.

Twilight gave a startled shout as the infected dragon rushed her and wrapped his arms around her. He then lifted her before throwing her, sending the multi-ton form of Equinox flying through the air before coming to a ground shaking stop alarmingly close to Ponyville. Spike was onto her faster this time and brought down both of his arms onto her prone form.

“Aaaagh!” Twilight gave a shout as the impact shook Equinox's entire body, making the solution she was suspended in ripple from the force. She rolled onto her back and tried to block the next blows, but hooves weren't exactly made for close combat and Spike's next blows broke through easily. Twilight gave another shout as Equinox's body shook more intensely.

“Twilight!” Spike shouted.

Twilight blinked and looked up at her assailant, but the twisted creature was simply readying another blow. Looking over to the side, Twilight saw Spike in the street watching the fight with a horribly worried look on his face, completely stressed out as he watched Twilight steadily lose.

The world seemed to slow then and empty, leaving only her Spike watching on in the distance and the twisted one attempting to kill her bringing a next blow down. The only sound she could hear was her own labored breathing and the deafening pounding of her heart.

“...Protect your home, protect your friends and guard your loved ones...” a memory echoed in her head.

Suddenly the twisted Spike was sent flying as an explosion of magic erupted from Equinox. The massive Bio Gear stood back up onto its hooves as the infected dragon did the same. Its horn and eyes were brightly glowing and, strangely enough, massive surges of magic seemed to be focused around its back. The dragon charge her mindlessly with a roar and slammed face first into a magical barrier which then wrapped around it before it was sent flying through the air again.

Inside Equinox, tears left Twilight's eyes and mingled with solution she was suspended in. After a small moment, the despairing look on her face left and in its place was one of determination.

“I want to save you,” Twilight said lowly as she watched the twisted alternate of Spike rise again onto its legs. “I really do. But I know I can't and I have to make a choice between helping someone I can't and the people I care for. I know you don't have a choice, but you're still trying to hurt people... and I will protect my family!”

“You're a hero at your very core.”

Suddenly Twilight's eyes and horn glowed with an intense bright light.

There was an explosion of magic around Equinox and a beam of blinding light shooting off into the sky. When the light faded, Equinox's eyes and horn were surrounded by a blinding bright light and it had a massive pair of wings made from light that seemed to have burst from its back from the torn armor there.

Spike's twisted alternate roared and mindlessly charged forward but stumbled backward when suddenly an ethereal purple fist struck him squarely in the face. Suddenly another struck him in the back and sent him stumbling back forward. The twisted alternate then found itself drowning under a flood of glowing purple fists rapidly striking him from all sides like rapidly pumping pistons. Suddenly the flood of fists stopped but was quickly followed by a single massive one striking up into the infected dragon's face, sending it stumbling back and it's arms raised into the air to attempt to retain balance. A dozen hands appeared and quickly latched onto Spike's arms and legs, locking him in place.

Beside Equinox hovering in the air was a massive chunk of earth. The chunk glowed bright and began shrinking down rapidly. When the light faded, in the place of the chunk was a long metal spike. Spike roared as he twisted and fought against the grip of the hands holding him in place as a bolt of lightning left Equinox's horn and struck the metal spear.

With a sonic boom the metal spike shot forward and impaled the twisted dragon through the chest and kept on going. In the far distance an impact cloud arose on a mountain.

“Spike...” Twilight said softly within Equinox, closing her glowing eyes as she looked away from Spike falling to his knees.

“Twi-Twillllllight...” Twilight heard and gasped before turning to face Spike.

“Noooot y-your faulllllt...” the twisted alternate spoke with a voice like he had been gargling broken glass. Holding a massive, misshapen hand over the massive tear in his chest, he looked up at Twilight, his eyes silently conveying years of hopeless torment. “Don't bllllllame... y-you...”

Spike then brought his eyes over Ponyville, pristine and untouched and he smiled as best as his twisted features allowed. Twilight knew he was staring at Rarity's boutique in particular and that fact only made this moment hurt more. With a look of being happy for the first time in years, the light left the infected dragon's eyes and he fell forward into the dirt and lied still.

Equinox stood opposite the corpse of its opponent, its horn, eyes and wings glowing brightly and gloriously. Suddenly the light faded completely from Equinox and the wings disappeared, the only signs of their presence being the torn armor where they had erupted from. Wobbling back and forth briefly on its feet for a moment, Equinox then fell to the earth with an earth shaking crash.

Within the cockpit of Equinox, alarms blared about the sudden loss of life signs from the pilot. However, Twilight was nowhere to be seen in the cockpit; the only sign of her presence was the headset she wore floating freely in the solution.

“Twilight!” the baby dragon shouted in worry as he scrambled over to the toppled form of Equinox. “Twilight! Are you okay?! Say something! How do you get this darn thing open?!”

A crowd started forming and made their way over to the battle site and Equinox's form. Suddenly a blinding bright light shined in the sky and everyone gasped as they took in the light that briefly made the sun seem to dim.

ZETA

“Keep pushing!” A wolverine officer roared over the sounds of battle. “These mindless beasts are no match for our skill!”

What was shouted was actually very true. It seemed the brawlers were used to being faster, stronger, bigger and deadlier than anything they were made to face. The wolverines however were known for these very same things and had a finely honed mind and instinct for battle on top of it, while the brawlers had a near mindless, bestial instinct.

“Come ‘ere, scum!” a mercenary roared. Dodging the maddened strikes of the brawler he faced, he quickly darted forward and slashed deeply into the brawler’s neck before putting it in a headlock. The brawler slashed wildly, some of its strikes scraping across the thick armor before its head was popped off its shoulders.

Off to the right, a goliath roared in pained fury, its form covered in wolverines ripping and tearing into its flesh. Suddenly it fell to the ground as someone below managed to strike the weaker leg hard enough to snap it. It thrashed on the ground, managing to kill and wound several wolverines before its head was swarmed and torn apart.

The fighting between the wolverines and infected pouring forth from the mirror pool had grown intensely. The infected were now made completely of brawlers and goliaths. Battling the two types of infected had caused huge collateral damage to the surroundings. Where the wolverines had been battling had once been heavily forested, now it was a mud churned battlefield stretching back to the mirror pool and outpost, covered in broken tree stumps and corpses. The wolverines took this change in battleground to form up their large infantry blocks of muscle, claw and steel, causing brawler assaults upon their position to flow uselessly against them like water over rock. Of course the goliaths would have scattered and bashed apart their infantry formations very quickly if not for the warhound support.

Unlike the wolverines, the warhounds were spread out much wider and divided into smaller units. This was to put their powerful weaponry to full effect. While there had been only a handful of new sniper rifles made, there had been many missile launchers. The addition of missiles to the cacophony of ranged death the warhounds were able to unleash made taking down most goliaths before they could reach the wolverines an easy task. However, while nearly all the brawlers that closed in were killed before they could reach the warhounds, more than a few goliaths were able to last long enough to engage them due to the focus on supporting the wolverines.

“Watch out!” came a shout as a bellowing goliath came charging in, holding its massive, cancerous hardened arm aloft to shield itself from as much damage as possible. Just as it was about to bring the massive arm down atop a bunch of warhounds, a long, black shape came flying out of nowhere and struck it in the head.

The goliath gave a pained roar as a long spear like piece of wood extended deeply from one of its eyes. From behind a pile of twisted logs and branches came a diamond dog holding a monomolecular combat knife. The dog leapt onto the large misshapen arm of the goliath and latched on by digging in their blade. The warhound managed to leap up onto the shoulder by using the momentum of the goliath flinching its arm away from the feeling of being stabbed. The warhound then quickly dashed over to the back of the goliath's neck and started slashing away, the incredibly sharp edge of the blade cutting ever deeper.

In an attempt to dislodge its attacker, the goliath crouched briefly before leaping up over fifty stories into the air. In midair the goliath twisted around to land on its back, but the warhound quickly clambered onto the goliath's chest just as it crashed into the ground. The crash had knocked the goliath senseless but that was not the case for the warhound who quickly started slashing away at the front of the neck.

The goliath started growling and snarling at the wound growing in size, but before it could regain its senses the warhound braced itself against the collar bone and placed its feet against the chin. Pushing as hard as he could, the sound of ripping and tearing flesh filled the air along with the dying gurgles of the goliath. With a loud crack of the spine suddenly giving away, the head suddenly went flying and rolled along the ground.

“Impressive,” Fenrir commented from atop the corpse of another goliath as cheers rose up from the warhounds. “Who is that dog?”

“His name is Ridge, boss,” a nearby warhound answered. “He just recently finished his training.”

“Clearly he has great potential,” Fenrir stated as he watched Ridge quickly return to his squad. “I'll be sure to check up on his training personally in the future. Now...”

Fenrir turned his attention to one of the three Bio Gears in the area. Said Bio Gear was just finishing off one goliath thanks to its powerful gatling cannons before leaping over its falling corpse to lay into another one behind it. The goliath tried to grapple the Canis Rex but the Bio Gear was simply much stronger than it. The Canis Rex overpowered the infected monster before cocking back a massive fist and exploding its head in one powerful punch.

“I have to make a request for one of my own,” Fenrir said with an unseen eager grin before turning to oversee what little of the battlefield he could see. “It looks like we are still winning.”

Fenrir wasn't wrong. While the wolverines and warhounds used tactics along with their own strengths to counter the vast hordes of infected, the Everfree wood golems simply met numbers with numbers. Unlike the infected hordes, the wood golems had a mind behind them and they all worked as one seamlessly. The outpost continued to stand in a defiant, stalwart defense against the infected. Only the raptors had been able to reinforce the outpost and most of the lower levels were buried in corpses, but still the defenders fought unyielding. With the Everfree on one side, the wolverines, warhounds and raptors on another and the outpost in their midst unleashing immense firepower on anything twisted looking, the infected were losing ground as the firestorm caused by the two Discords roared overhead.

Suddenly in the distance towards Canterlot a new sun seemed to suddenly be birthed and blazed blindingly.

ETA

Oskar glared down at Emerald's struggling form, completely cocooned in his tendrils. His attention was fully upon her and she was almost certainly completely at his mercy.

Suddenly with a bright flash the entirety of the three hundred Deinos living in the palace teleported around Oskar. The male Evolved was surrounded by a multicolored aura and restrained as tightly as the collective Deinos could do while a few others simply leapt at him and physically restrained him. Two other Deinos quickly darted away and to the tendril connecting Oskar and Emerald as Sharp Skies and Sparkle Shine set about biting and tearing away at it to release Emerald.

After a tense instant, a crimson aura surrounded the Deinos, they collectively gasped as their chests were instantly crushed and organs forced out both ends of their digestive tract. Spikes erupted from Oskar's form and impaled the Deinos covering him, then he spun in place briefly and sent them all flying. He turned to face Sparkle and Sharp and breathed in deeply. Sparkle leapt in front of Sharp Skies just as a beam of plasma left Oskar's mouth. The moment that the beam spent burning through Sparkle's body bought just enough time for Sharp to finish biting through the tendril.

Oskar ended the beam of plasma and quickly tried to reconnect with the tendril but it was an instant too late. Emerald exploded from the cocoon and delivered a powerful kick to Oskar's chin, sending him flying through the roof with Emerald following him via teleport an instant later. Behind them the corpses of the Deinos twitched and bled out on the floor.

Oskar exploded out of the palace roof and shot into the air as Emerald arrived ahead of him with a teleport and cocked a fist back.

The male Evolved teleported and attempted to do what Emerald did before and use his own momentum against her. Emerald reacted fast and teleported twice, the first time to trigger any prepared strikes from Oskar and the second time to deliver the actual blow. Oskar's hand whipped out and grasped at air and ended up taking a double stomp to the chest before being sent shooting down towards Canterlot.

Landing with an explosion of broken brick and dust, Oskar quickly lept away and faced down Emerald who stood opposite him on the street. The two charged each other, fists cocked back. As Emerald began to swing her fist forward, she teleported. Oskar turned in place to face her only to see her teleport, his head turned to see yet another teleport and he only had enough time to see her fist coming at the corner of his eye.

Pink lightning surged around Emerald's arm and a bright magical aura shined around her. She channeled far more magic than she ever did before and it landed with dramatic results. Oskar was sent flying, a pressure wave emitted from the point of impact, a large crater formed around central point in the road and all nearby windows shattered.

Emerald teleported again, rapidly porting around the male Evolved as he flew through the air to disorient him further before landing another blow, sending him back into the sky. Emerald teleported up and Oskar tried to counter with a teleport of his own but the other Evolved was set to demonstrate her mastery at the spell.

Down below ponies stared up at the sky. They couldn't see anything of the fight. The only thing they could make out was blurs through the air and flashes of light along with what sounded like rapid fire explosions.

Tired of being batted around like a ping pong ball, Oskar unleashed an interdiction spell. In response, Emerald quickly grew a pair of blade wings and sent out her own interdiction spell to cancel Oskar's teleports as well. Oskar grew his own blade wings and for a brief moment the two stared each other down, studying each other and shifting a pair of claws each before they charged.

Emerald twisted in midair away from Oskar's swipe, managing a backhand slash at Oskar's slashing arm as she did so. The female Evolved spun around Oskar, avoiding a downward slash but delivering several of her own slashes while she spun. Emerald then flipped over Oskar's head just as he turned to face her former position. Shifting both arms into one large blade, Emerald slashed down while Oskar was still turning to face her new position. The slash was enough to send Oskar spinning through the air with a massive wound down the left side of his back and left leg.

Wound healing within moments, Oskar turned and faced Emerald with a glare as she was already charging at him. With a grimace, the male Evolved curled up into a ball and hundreds of black tendrils exploded off of him. Creating a thick magical barrier to stop her charge, Emerald quickly burst away as the tendrils shot towards her.

Circling Oskar, Emerald kept her speed up to avoid the tendrils, the number of which increased towards the thousands within moments. She briefly thought up a plan of attack before narrowing her eyes in determination. Emerald sped up even more, flying circles around the floating massive black sea urchin Oskar had become. She flew faster and faster, cutting any tendril apart if any managed to get in her path. Eventually she reached what felt like a barrier but Emerald poured forth ever more magic and pumped her wings harder. With a shout of exertion she swung her fist forward as if to break the barrier with it.

There was a soft boom and suddenly Emerald could barely be seen with naked eyes, only a long streak of pink marking her passage. Oskar's eyes widened as he turned in place and tried to spot Emerald, only to see several pink streaks, signifying she had orbited him several times in the time he took to look for her. A moment later and Oskar felt hundreds of his tendrils being cut away from him at once, barely five seconds later and he found himself bare in the open air, all his tendrils cut and falling away from him. He turned, only to be met with the sight of the bottom of a white sneaker.

A massive deafening sound like that of great volcano erupting filled the air and Oskar was sent flying through at sonic speeds of his own sans a head which had been pulped. A massive pressure wave emitted from the point of impact, almost potent enough to reach the earth below despite being over a kilometer up in the air.

Rapidly regrowing his head, Oskar gathered his power and created a massive energy barrier around himself. A fortunate decision for the male Evolved, for Emerald was flying after him at sonic speeds and would have reached him if she hadn't stopped before the barrier. Bringing himself to a stop, Oskar ceased his barrier and looked up towards Emerald.

Oskar's eyes were wide and he was panting, the anger at what Emerald had done before completely beaten out of him. Emerald was holding position currently in the air and stared down at her alternate with furrowed brows as she readied for further combat. The male Evolved stopped his panting and gritted his teeth, but his eyes were still wide. In that moment the two Evolved knew two certainties about one another.

Oskar was definitely stronger than Emerald and could overpower her every time he could get his hands on her. Emerald, however, was faster... much faster and noticeably more skilled. What the female Evolved lacked in brute force she more then closed the gap with sheer speed and ability. And with that thought in mind, the both of them knew which of them would eventually win in this battle.

The male Evolved raised a claw which quickly gained a glowing edge and an ethereal like after image effect. This immediately put Emerald on guard. She didn't know for certain but could guess fairly well what exactly that claw would do if it hit her. Oskar then whipped his other hand towards Canterlot, there was only a moment of intense crimson lightning surging about his arm to give warning to what happened next.

Within an instant a black sphere with a crimson pulsating core of energy appeared before his palm. The sphere grew to an an immense size within seconds, easily big enough that mount Canterlot could have comfortably fit within. And before Emerald could so much as widen her eyes in alarm at the realization of what he was going to do, the sphere shot towards Canterlot, the male Evolved flying in the opposite direction towards Everfree.

Emerald wasted several precious moments looking between the retreating form of Oskar and sphere before deciding what she needed to do. Cursing the fact the interdiction field was still up, Emerald flew as fast as she could after the sphere.

THETA

Moon Dancer stepped away from the second floor window of the library she was in, her mouth hanging open in silent horror of what approached. A black orb of magic that angrily crackled with crimson lightning soared towards them at speeds no one had any hope of escape. The magic coming off of it was horrifying in its greatness, even the weakest unicorn would have been able to feel it and tremble at the power that pulsed within.

She was a unicorn and had been a graduate of Celestia's school for gifted unicorns, so she more then knew her magic. In a calmer moment and one of pure safety she may have had the mind to analyze just how much power the orb held. As it was, almost as frozen in fear as she was, she could only say it was likely enough to make Equestria a crater.

The sphere almost seemed to slow down mockingly as it approached and in her terror it felt like it was aiming to come down on her specifically. The building around her started to shake, the sound of stone cracking and wood straining and snapping under the strain filled her ears. With a terrible suddenness, part of the roof above her tore away and the orb seemed mere feet away. Tears of terror streaming down her face, Moon Dancer closed her eyes tightly.

'I... I wish I had a friend...' Moon Dancer thought, believing this to be her last moments.

Moon Dancer waited... for an awfully long time for a death that seemed mere moments away but never arrived. Opening one of her eyes slightly, they both snapped open and she gasped at the sight before her.

She had read many articles about her, even managed to get a few books that had been rapidly pumped out about how her presence changed the political landscape forever, therefore there was no doubt in her mind that standing just before her was Emerald Gleaner. She was in that strange bipedal form, seemingly holding back the overwhelming size of the sphere of destruction with just her bare hands, a magical aura surrounded the entirety of her form and pink lightning surged with alacrity.

It seemed her own widely known power didn't seem enough to stop the sphere completely though, as she moved closer and closer to the floor of the library. Before she reached the ground herself Emerald reached down with her foot and tapped the floor once. Loud booms echoed from all around and Moon Dancer could see stone arms shooting up by the hundreds from the city and pressing against the sphere. There was a deafening grinding noise and Moon Dancer could see pieces of stones flying from the palms of the stone hands.

The combined efforts of Emerald and the stone hands she created seemed to have had finally brought the sphere to a complete stop. The shapeshifter lifted down on the floor and sighed before tapping her foot, seemingly causing the hundreds of stone hands to retract back into the ground. Suddenly the sphere pulsed with a bright light and released a low gong like noise.

Emerald stared up at the sphere for a moment as it continued to pulse and release gonging noises. The instant Emerald noticed that the sphere's pulses were growing in speed, her eyes widened in realization. She quickly placed her hands against the sphere and heaved. The sphere moved, but at an alarmingly slow pace as the pulses grew in frequency. With a shout of exertion, a magical aura flared around Emerald and lightning sparked around her arms and suddenly the sphere was sent flying into the sky.

Emerald and Moon Dancer stared up into the sky. The city was strangely silent despite being mere moments from annihilation a second before. Everyone was staring up at what could easily have been mistaken for an exceedingly large and bright star in the noon sky, completely silent and barely breathing. Just as the sphere shrunk down to the size of a marble, the moment of truth came.

It was as if a newer and greater sun had just been born above Equestria. The natural sun seemed to dim and the sky turned crimson from the light of the newborn sun. A few moments after the light of the explosion appeared in the sky came the sound of it. It was low and terrifying, shaking all in its volume. That seemed to be it, but Emerald thought otherwise and shielded by standing in front of her.

The pressure wave from the explosion arrived, far weaker due to the distance traveled, but that didn't make the damage it wreaked any less terrible. The pressure wave could be visibly seen traveling through the air and then along the land when it finally reached the ground. Every window in Canterlot shot at once and every building started shaking down to its foundations, some cracking and even collapsing. Above, once solid and stable rock formations on the side of Mount Canterlot weakened greatly from the abuse and several rock slides were triggered.

Cloudsdale once more suffered the inglorious fate of being completely dispersed and its inhabitants forced to act fast to save one another when the “ground” gave way. Ponyville was fairly nearby but was far enough away that its homes only suffered some structural damage along with shattered windows. Many towns and villages suffered the same fate as Ponyville, only with the structural damage decreasing as the distance increased. Cities on each of the far coasts like Vanhoover and Manehattan suffered no structural damage, but practically had all their glass panes shattered.

After the shaking completely stopped, Emerald looked around to survey the damage before turning to look at the pony she had protected before raising her brows at the sight.

The pony in question was a unicorn mare and had a light yellow coat along with a light red mane with some purple streaks and thick red brows. She was wearing a black woolen sweater with large pink buttons on the front and also wore a pair of glasses, though she was currently magically holding them aloft to examine them sadly as the lenses did not survive. Her cutie mark was of a crescent moon surrounded by three stars and she apparently had a hair tie, but it had been undone and barely hung on to a few locks of mane.

'She... reminds me a lot of Twilight,' Emerald thought curiously. 'Especially with her mane down like that.'

“Uhhh...” Moon Dancer began, unsure of how to thank the equally famed and infamous leader of the Enclave. “Th-thank you for-”

Suddenly there was a loud rumble and the floor under Emerald and Moon Dancer cracked and began to give. Emerald quickly scooped the unicorn up in her arms before teleporting onto the road beside the library. From their new position outside, the two watched as the section of the library they had been in crumbled to the ground in a great heap. Emerald returned her attention towards the mare that was now lying on her back in her arms. Moon Dancer was still staring at the library and Emerald noticed that the unicorn had placed her glasses back on her nose despite the broken lenses. With a thoughtful hum, the Evolved magically took ahold of the glasses, gaining Moon Dancer's attention in the process. A crackle of a spell later and the unicorn's freshly fixed glasses lighted back down on her nose.

“Th-thank you for saving me,” Moon dancer said nervously as she averted her eyes away from Emerald. “A-and fixing my glasses.”

“It's not a problem,” Emerald said and placed the unicorn down on her hooves. “You just get somewhere safe - the palace maybe - the city doesn't seem all that stable after the explosion.”

Emerald turned her head to look off into the distance with a frown as the sounds of screams and shouts of alarm and distress echoed through the air.

“I wish I could stay to help, sounds like it's needed,” Emerald stated with a shake of her head. “But I need to go. You be safe now.”

With that Emerald teleported away, leaving Moon Dancer staring where the virus had been an instant before. The unicorn then quickly buffed her glasses on her sweater before trotting for the palace as suggested.

With a flash of pink light, Emerald appeared over the mirror pool. The battle was still on going with the forces on her side slowly pushing the infected back. Apparently instead of stopping to help, Oskar simply returned to his side of the pool, content to let his forces throw themselves into the grinder in futile attempts to jam it with their numbers. However, Oskar's retreat to his world meant that Emerald was the sole greater Blacklight being here...

With barely a flex of her will, Emerald commanded the infected to halt. All at once the brawlers, goliaths and black parasprites stopped where they were and looked up towards Emerald, ignoring the enemy they had been fighting in the process. The infected suddenly stopping and ignoring them killing them caused the warhounds and their allies to pause in the fighting. Staring down at the infected as they stared up at her attentively, Emerald made a decision and reached out a hand towards them. She uttered one command.

“Die.”

As one, the entirety of the infected literally fell to pieces, then those pieces continued to be broken down again and again until the cells themselves tore themselves apart into raw materials. Down below, the allied forces watched in shock as the infected fell into piles of gore before turning into dust that blew away into the wind. Everyone was confused until someone noticed Emerald floating in the air. Loud cheering followed soon after as everyone realized that Emerald put an end to the fight with her mere presence.

Emerald brought herself down onto the ground. Warhounds crowded towards her but stopped a short distance away so she still had space to herself. Then, as one, they fell onto their knees and bowed to her respectfully. A nearby group of wolverines had their officer barking commands to them and they quickly fell into parade formation and saluted towards Emerald. Taking this all in with well concealed annoyance, Emerald spied Bluno, Mikhail and Timujin standing atop the outpost still.

“Bluno, Mikhail, Timujin. I'm glad to see you are still alive and in one piece,” Emerald stated after teleporting to the three. After taking a look at Mikhail, she added. “Though I'm not entirely sure if you are in one piece there, Mikhail.”

“Ha!” Mikhail barked with a bloody toothed grin. The wolverine commander's armor was covered in deep rents, and more than a few had deep, bloody gashes. His vambraces were barely holding on, covered in a great many scratches and tears. In his claws was a heavy machine gun. Judging by the distorted barrels and the several empty ammo carts, it had seen a ton of use. “Is good fight. Adrenaline not even gone yet. I don't feel any of these wounds yet.”

“Hmm, let's not have you bleed out, shall we?” Emerald said and reached her hand out towards him. “Stay still.”

Several tendrils sprouted from Emerald's forearm and slowly reached for Mikhail. The wolverine only watched on curiously, though his second looked like he sincerely wished to protest. Taking Mikhail's silence as permission, Emerald's tendrils reached for his visible wounds. Releasing numbing agents, the tendrils probed the flesh as Emerald made her diagnosis of the wolverine's condition. Either the armor did its job well or he was simply tough because none of his wounds were threatening. Simply closing the cuts up, she withdrew the tendrils and did the wolverine a favor by magically repairing the damage to his armor.

“Ah! My thanks!” Mikhail said happily as he looked over his repaired armor. “Only need to wash off now.”

“Right, now,” Emerald said turning towards Bluno. “Bluno, radio Belvedere. Tell him to get himself and my friends ready for transport. I and few others are definitely going to need to go over what just happened and our response. Then I want the warhounds and the wolverines to set up a fortified perimeter as quickly as possible around the mirror pool. Got it?”

“Yes, boss!” Bluno said before placing a paw to the side of his helmet.

'Now, let's collect those two,' Emerald thought and looked up towards the two Discords, one appearing to support the other. Before teleporting up, she glanced towards the various wood golems standing in place. 'He is likely expecting an explanation why a rather large chunk of his forest has been devastated. I better bring one of his wolves along before he starts complaining.'

With that, the Evolved teleported into the sky.

IOTA

“Is this all of them?” Emerald asked, standing in her human form.

“Yes... yes it is...” a Xanthos royal guard replied sadly.

Emerald was back at the palace. Things in the city were still quite chaotic and the Royal Guard were doing their best to calm the people. The Thracian members of the Royal Guard had taken to collecting the bodies of the Deinos that died, which was all of them. The Deinos were laid out on the floor before her. Each was covered in some cloth, whether it was a blanket, a bunch of towels or even the curtains off the windows, the Thracian Guard had made sure the bodies were covered. It was a good decision to make, as already several normal ponies who were family of the Deinos had arrived to grieve heart brokenly and the bodies with the least amount of damage still had horrific wounds.

“Good,” Emerald said and reached out her hand towards the bodies. A single large tendril left her palm and soon split into little over three hundred smaller tendrils. Each tendril went for a body and went down through the coverings to the corpse beneath. Barely a second after she did this, the bodies began to twitch and move before the sound of three hundred people taking in a gasping breath filled the air.

'They gave their lives to save mine. Of all things to give up your life for,' Emerald thought as the cries of grief turned to ones of shock then to joy as the Deinos pushed their coverings off. 'Mine isn't worth the cost they paid for it. How could I ever leave them like that?'

Emerald took a moment to observe as some normal pony family of the Deinos embraced loved ones they had thought dead. Her gaze was attracted by one mare in particular. This mare was holding a Deinos tightly, but what was interesting about her was her noticeably extended belly. Considering that it had been more than nine months since the Deinos had been created, it was clear what kind of child the mare must be carrying.

'Interesting...' Emerald thought in fascination when a startled shout stole her attention.

It was two Deinos who had been revived. One was a stallion and the other was a mare she recognized as the overly toothed Sharp Skies. Sharp had apparently gave the shout of surprise, the reason being she was being kissed by the stallion, her orange bioluminescence seemingly glowing brightly out of embarrassment. She wasn't the only one to be embarrassed however, as the stallion realized he was actually kissing her teeth and not her lips.

Emerald tilted her head and gave a frown as Sharp seemed to grow ashamed by her “disability”.

“Eh?” Sharp said in surprise when a tendril suddenly sunk into the flesh of her cheek. An instant later, she felt her teeth shrinking and shifting and before long for the first time in over a year her mouth closed.

“Ohmigosh!” Sharp Skies said as she pressed her hooves to her mouth. “No more drooling! No more messy eating! Thank you so much!”

That seemed to have been the sign the other Deinos were waiting for and proceeded to swarm Emerald, giving her their heartfelt thanks. Emerald could see the barely withheld adoration in their eyes and, though her own discomfort threatened to broil to the surface, she bared through it with a smile.

“I have to go now,” Emerald said after a minute of having the Deinos pour thanks and praise upon her. “There is still a lot to be done about the enemy that hurt you.”

The Deinos gladly parted for her and she made her way to return to the meeting room the others were in. Before she fully left the Deinos however, she spotted Razor Wing smiling up at her. Normally she would have simply continued on, but after what happened...

“Razor Wing,” Emerald said softly with a repentant look. “I'm sorry about how things went in the past.”

“You don't have to say anything,” Razor replied with a shake of his head. “You like mares, simple as that.”

“...Thanks.” Emerald said with a smile and got one in return. With that, she continued on her way. It wasn't long before she found herself entering the meeting room.

It was a simple conference chamber with a large, circular table in the center. At the table was Belvedere, the two Discords, the Mane Six sans Twilight and Princess Luna. Emerald frowned at the absences of Celestia and Twilight.

“Celestia's not back with Twilight, yet?” Emerald asked in clear worry.

Emerald had grown quite panicked when, after talking to Belvedere, he had informed her that Twilight was missing from her Bio Gear. She had gone to investigate Equinox herself. This was fortunate as Luna had sent a message via Spike that Twilight was stuck somewhere and Celestia had gone to collect her. The fact that the two weren't back yet wasn't doing Emerald's nerves any favors.

Suddenly there was a flash of light off to the side of the room. When the light faded, there were several gasps at what met their eyes. It was Celestia and Twilight standing together, but Twilight was different now. All in all, she looked little different from how she was before, save with one incredibly notable aspect; she had wings now.

“Twilight!” Rarity gasped, her eyes sparkling. “You're an alicorn!”

“Yes I am,” Twilight said with a bit of a strained smile, extending one wing out in emphasis.

“As much as I would really like an explanation and to go into this further...” Emerald said as she took a seat at the table. “We really have more important issues to go over.”

Any excitement everyone had at Twilight's apparent ascension into alicornhood was killed by that statement. Princess Celestia and Twilight quickly took their own seats at the table. Emerald took in everyone's serious expressions for a moment.

“The fight isn't over. We are only halfway done.” Discord's alternate broke the silence, leaning forward onto the table. “Oskar will be returning very soon and in greater force. He'll never allow us to catch our breath for long, especially now that he knows we have what we need against him. So we must prepare for his next assault.”

“Yes and no,” Emerald stated. “He knows we have what is needed to beat him and he'll act on it, that is true. He, however, would never risk himself by attacking the enemy's prepared trump on their home ground. He will likely send attacks like the one he nearly decimated Equestria with through the portal in ever greater number and potency. He also very likely knows that I would know this and would try to counter this action by going to him instead of waiting for him to come to us.”

“Yes he would,” the alternate agreed with a narrowing of his one eye. “There likely isn't long before he assumes we are going to go against his expectation and he starts destroying this world from his end of the portal.”

“So what, we gotta go fight where he has the home field advantage?” Dash muttered quietly. “Didn't exactly go so well when it was on our turf...”

That statement caused a shudder to go through Mane Six save for Fluttershy who had been petrified for most of their encounter with the brutal Evolved. Pinkie Pie started to cry softly which immediately got her a comforting hug from Applejack.

“It's either that or he kills everyone by making pot shots from the safety of his end of the portal,” Emerald stated calmly.

“...What's to stop us from simply destroying the portal?” Belvedere asked evenly. “Do we have to fight this-”

“I DID NOT COME HERE TO RUN!” Discord's alternate stated with a voice harder than steel. “I came here to seek a means to win. If I wished to abandon millions of dead to go on unavenged and those still alive to the fate of being at his nonexistent mercy for the rest of their lives, I could have done so long ago. I will NOT let years of effort go to waste in the name of cold hearted pragmatism!”

“I agree,” Emerald nodded and got a lot of surprised looks from people who knew her well, Dash in particular. “Admittedly it would be easier to just break the portal, but... it... it wouldn't be the right way to go about this.”

“In this I agree as well,” Celestia nodded resolutely. “Do you have a plan of action?”

“There is likely only one way of winning this,” Emerald said, nodding at Discord's alternate. “The Elements of Harmony. Oskar and I hurt each other a lot in our fight but we never made any lasting blows... it could be possible that without immense, overwhelming power or a trump, we could end up fighting forever without a real result.”

“This is a fight that simply can't be won with conventional forces,” Emerald said, looking towards Belvedere. “There is simply no way. So it's just going to have to be a small group of us. Me, the two Discords, the bearers, Celestia and Luna. I and both Discords will fight Oskar to the best of our abilities while everyone else waits below, protected by the princesses. We shall try to maneuver the fight in such a way that Oskar ends up open to a hit from the Elements of Harmony.”

There was a long moment of silence at this. Quite honestly, the plan Emerald gave wasn't much of one.

“If you are expecting tactical genius... there simply isn't any to this.” Emerald closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. “There is no special plan to win this, no specific weakness to exploit, no neat trick to ruthlessly use against him. We have one thing we can use against him and he isn't nearly enough of an idiot to get anywhere near it when it starts to go off. We can't trick him into getting hit by the Elements. We can only hope to force him to.”

“... Well, what are we waiting for?” Twilight said with a strained smile. “We've fought against evil before haven't we? Granted, the stakes were never so high as this before but we've always managed to get through it in the end.”

There wasn't any sudden rising cheer and enthusiasm for those at the table. No sudden confidence and grins in face of adversity. Just silence and people nodding their assent to what was to come.

“I shall collect the Elements,” Luna stated and got up from her seat. “I shall return soon.”

“Emerald, I would like you to go to the Crystal Empire,” Celestia said as she got up from her own seat. “I need you to collect someone.”

“Who?” Emerald asked.

“Cadence.”

KAPPA

The Warhounds and Wolverines had done their work quickly. Many logs had been collected and formed barricades and fortifications that completely surrounded the Mirror Pool. Warhounds and wolverines stood completely at attention and fully expecting another force to be appearing through the portal any minute.

“Everyone ready?” Emerald asked evenly.

“I am prepared,” Cadence said as the others muttered their acknowledgment. “I may not be as strong as Celestia and Luna, but after everything you've done for me and then done for the Empire, I'll be glad to help.”

“Right, Twilight.” Emerald nodded before turning to face the newly ascended alicorn. “You okay?”

“I...” Twilight began, her eyes locked on the tiara she was holding before her before finally and gingerly placing it atop her head. “I am as ready as I'll ever be, Emerald.”

“Right,” Emerald said and looked down at the black water before her, glowing with a crimson light. She stared down at her reflection and the reflections of the others soon joined her. The virus took a deep breath before swallowing. “Let's go.”

With that, she stepped forward.

-TBC-

Author's Note:

AN: This honestly took a lot longer than I hoped it would, but I hope the wait was worth it. I'm really happy the Bio Gears finally made an appearance after being hinted and foreshadowed since book one. I initially wanted this fight handled in one chapter but Oskar deserves to be more than a one chapter conflict. ALSO, you can now finally say goodbye to the canon. This story is truly and completely off the rails as of this chapter. Look forward to original content from here on out.

EN: So I counted up every single one of the comments… all 35 of them… that’s a lot. Hell, makes my job seem just that much more appreciated. So I wanna say thanks to all of you who did comment on the last chapter. Means a lot. And I’ll be sticking around for quite a while, schedules permitting and all that jazz. So long as Legionary wants me to help, I’m here to stay. And next chapter, post apocalyptic Equestria. Let’s see how this turns out. Wonder if we’ll find any other scarred survivors there, or if Alternate Discord is the only one.

Though on another topic, I had a neat thought nearing the end of the chapter. Another nifty little social experiment. From what Emerald has done and probably will do in the future… she’s pretty much a god(dess). Nothing in her own world holds a candle to what she can do, and the only one capable of holding its own is another version of herself, aka another god. So… with that in mind. I am hereby starting the Cult of Emerald Gleaner, Forever Free Goddess of the Everfree. Who wants in?!

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