• Published 25th Sep 2015
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Spiders and Magic IV: The Fall of Spider-Mane - Maximus_Reborn

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Training Day

Chapter Thirty "Training Day"

The morning sun had yet to fully rise through the night's darkness. Zecora kept her word, ensuring training would begin as soon as possible. She woke Peter up twenty minutes ago and went on to the agreed-upon location, promising to wait for him there. Much to his chagrin, the young man forced himself awake. Considering that Twilight usually struggled to wake her husband before eight every morning, to say Peter was less than thrilled to be up at five was an understatement.

However, Peter ignored his mental grievances and pressed on. If he was going to save Equestria from Tirek and the others, he had to better himself in any shape or form. For the sake of his friends and family, he would do anything to protect them. Peter opened his mouth and let out a low yawn, groaning soon afterward. He only wished Zecora had a better sense of timing for their training regimen.

He walked down the forest path in silence, with only the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze to listen to. Only Patricia and Gwen had been outside of the forest, but they took the conventional route, through the road and by car. From what was gathered, a sunflower field stretched on the outside of their temporary home for half a mile, and the forest acted as a larger barrier for that, extending for four times the length before the city could be reached. They were just out of civilization's line of sight yet close enough to be reached, should they need it.

The sound of running water reached Peter's ears, freeing the young man from his self-induced trance. He paused upon reaching a meadow, an oasis of sorts. A lake of clear water rested at the center of the large clearing, holding a pristine glint over its surface. The surrounding leaves and grass were both lush and damp, having been sustained by the lake. Peter took a knee along the bank and ran his fingers through the lake, sending small ripples through the water. A sense of nostalgia pulled at his chest, filling his heart with both warmth and a sense of security.

"It's like the Whitetail Woods," Peter stated, admiring the tranquil beauty around him.

Leaves rustled behind his position, causing the young man to spin around. He was greeted by a familiar ebony sight. Zecora calmly approached Peter with a soft tone in her blue eyes. She wore torn shreds of cloth as a form of under garment, painting them with a striped, black and white design to honor her true heritage. The other cloth the woman wore was placed over her head and shoulders, acting as a makeshift hood. Zecora's neckbands held an added shine to them, matched only by the glint in her eyes.

Zecora simply nodded. "I'm happy that you made it for this mandatory. It's time to add a new chapter to your ever-growing story."

Peter scratched the back of his head, eyeing the woman's athletic yet voluptuous figure. "Whatever you say. I'm totally digging the tribal look, by the way. It suits you perfectly."

Zecora warmly smiled, placing a hand over the young man's shoulders. Their heights were virtually identical. "As always, your words are kind and honest. That is a fact. I would delve further, but we must hurry and act." Folding her arms, the woman inhaled deeply before sighing. "Julia has told me about your sixth sense for danger and how you've always used it to fight. However, once you've lost it, all of your techniques were lost in your plight."

Peter removed his jacket before laying it along the bank of the lake. As he brushed the wrinkles from his black tank top, a low sigh escaped from his mouth. "I guess I see why. The Spider Sense was always really helpful. I mean, I was able to dodge bullets with it."

"You must reinvent yourself to find new strength. You must unlearn what you have learned at any length," Zecora declared, sternly staring at Peter. She walked to the nearest tree, retrieving a staff resting against it. Its design was simple, carved from the wood of a tree, and much like her clothing, a black and white striped bandana was wrapped around the center. Twirling the staff with a single hand, she walked up to Peter before planting the weapon into the ground upright. "Lower your reservations, whatever they may be. For your first test, you are to attack me."

"What are you? A Jedi? Fight the dark side, we must. Yoda would be proud," Peter muttered, blinking before tilting his head to the side. "Hang on. You said attack? Are you sure? What if I hurt you?"

Zecora narrowed her gaze, glaring at the young man. "Hesitance is a knight's greatest weakness. It's disappointing, I must confess."

Growling, Peter clenched his fist and threw a straight punch. However, Zecora retrieved her staff before the blow could connect, using the weapon's side to guide the young man's momentum east. Peter reached his free hand out against the grass to cease his momentum, but Zecora swatted his limb away with a swift kick, causing her opponent to crash face first to the ground. Before Peter could recover, the woman swung her staff fiercely, stopping it inches from his face while holding it in place.

Zecora huffed, frowning. "After all this time, it seems victory has defeated you." She stepped back, lowering into a defensive stance. "Try again with effort, or I shall best you, too."

Flustered, Peter brought his legs together and kicking off the ground, flipping over his head and landing before Zecora. He followed with a swift kick, only for Zecora to parry the attack with her staff. The woman rammed her weapon against the man's chest, spinning behind his position. Zecora kicked the back of Peter's leg, bringing him to a knee. Twirling the staff around at high velocity, the woman dashed forward. Peter raised his arms defensively, unable to do much else. However, Zecora slowed to a halt before simply pressing the end of her staff against Peter's chest. His momentum teetered, causing the young man to flail his arms about before he fell into the lake with a splash.

Zecora walked to the bank, taking a knee. Once Peter emerged, gasping for breath, she simply nodded. "You have great strength, but your technique is unrefined. Without your Spider Sense, you are practically blind. You must reinvent yourself and train to become something more. I believe only then can you win this war. True strength comes from the mind, body, and soul. To find balance in all three should be your goal."

Peter blinked. "Balance?"

She narrowed her gaze. "We will also help you learn to use magic. If not, your ending will be truly tragic. You have been sensing magic lately, have you not? If so, then we do have a shot."

Peter spat out water he inadvertently swallowed, holding a baffled expression. "You're totally a Jedi. You're right. I just don't understand it." He held out his hand, staring at it sternly. "I've been sensing a lot of things lately. Magic. Thoughts. It's all been swirling in my head." He peeked up at the woman. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sense out of it all. I'm just not sure if I can in time."

"The road to self-improvement is never-ending. To begin, you simply need to take a step and trust me," Zecora warmly declared, extending a helping hand to the young man. With a nod, Peter accepted the gesture, allowing the woman to pull him back onto the bank of the lake. Zecora lowered into a sitting position, motioning a hand for the young man to do the same. After Peter did as he was quietly told, the woman closed her eyes. "We will find your limits and push past them. Until then, we can only wait and see."

"I'm a knight of theworld. I can't ever afford to lose again," Peter declared, clenching his fist. He simply nodded. "I'll do my best."

-u-

Nearly a week had passed, and training continued to intensify for Peter, with Julia, Gwen, and Patricia aiding Zecora in the depths of the forest. Meanwhile, Twilight, Sunset, and Luna trained in their own way, attempting to amplify and master their magic further. Just outside of their temporary home, the trio traded magical blasts, deflecting one attack while countering with another. Sonata watched the sight from the deck's swing with a bag of chips in hand.

Trixie exited from inside the abode, arching a brow at the siren. "Are youstilleating? You literally just ate a quart of ice cream a few minutes ago." She took a seat on the available spot next to Sonata, shrugging. "It's strange. You're barely any taller than Mayday, but you eat more than most of us put together."

"It's not my fault that I have a high metabolism. Besides, it's just a little snack," Sonata chimed, finishing the last of her chips before disposing of the bag.

Trixie frowned. "I'd hardly call that snacking, but whatever you say. You're nothing short of a black hole." Sonata glanced off to the side, holding a skeptical expression. Fortunately, Trixie had not noticed, holding her violet gaze on the trio training in the distance. "You've been watching them for a while. What's on your mind, exactly?"

Sonata's eyes softened as a half-hearted laugh escaped from her mouth. "I was just comparing how different everyone is from the world I was banished to."

Trixie arched a brow. "Is that why you constantly speak to some of us as if we know each other? Peterdidmention you were banished to a parallel dimension." The corner of her lips curled into a curious smirk. "Humor me. What type of place were you in, and who all did you know that's here now?"

Sonata placed a finger against her lip and glanced skyward. "Well, it was Canterlot High."

"A school?" Trixie blurted out, snorting involuntarily. "Color me intrigued."

Sonata nodded, patting her hands against her thighs. "It's actually kind of weird seeing Luna as a princess. Back at Canterlot High, she was Vice-Principal."

Trixie's stoic demeanor faltered, evident by her stifled laughter. She cleared her throat soon afterward. "Vice Principal Luna? Peter would get a rise out of such news. I take it that Princess Celestia is the Principal of the school?" Sonata simply nodded once more, making it more difficult for Trixie to keep a straight face. Her eyes widened at a belated realization. "Does Princess Luna here look or act anything like the one you met there?"

Slow to respond, Sonata narrowed her gaze on the princess in the distance with a furrowed brow. "They're similar, but with plenty of differences. Vice-Principal Luna is very friendly and mellow, while Princess Luna seems like she prefers to keep to herself. This Luna's a little shorter than the other, and she looks younger, too." As if something came to mind, Sonata's eyes widened. "Oh, that's right. Their skin colors are also different than they are here. In the other world, everybody had matching skin tones to their pony forms. The school as a whole was actually very colorful. Here, we're pretty much all the same color, only with different variations of skin tone."

Trixie blinked, pursing her lip. "It's a tale of two sides of the same coin." Resting her chin against the palm of her hand, Trixie sighed. "Carry on. Who else have you interacted with there that is here now?"

"Sunset Shimmer," Sonata replied quickly, stealing a glance at the woman while she deflected a beam hurled by Twilight. "I think out of everyone here, Sunset Shimmer is almost exactly the same. She's more mature, but I just think that's because she's older here." Sonata paused, humming briefly as she brought a finger to her chin. "Well,technicallythe other one is the same age as she is here, right now that is, but I only knew that one when she was younger, so this one seems more mature to me. Then again, the other one could be more or less mature right now there, than this one is here. It's hard to say, but if I had to guess, I'd have to—"

"Okay! I get it!" Trixie quickly interjected, waving a hand dismissively. "Sunset Shimmer is pretty much the same. I get it."

Sonata hummed a light tune as a smile graced her features. "It's true, though. Don't tell Aria and Adagio, but I talked with Sunset after the Battle of the Bands took place. She was really nice and quick to forgive what we did. When I metthisSunset, she had the same vibe. Even after I helped Tirek and the others, she hasn't held a grudge about it at all. I guess that's why I talk with her so much like I already know her. They're exactly the same."

"I see…" Releasing a frustrated groan, Trixie massaged her fingers over her forehead. "I know I'm going to regret this… but who else? You said that you were defeated by Twilight Sparkle, correct? What was she like compared to this one?"

Sonata furrowed her brow. "Verydifferent. I mean, the Twilight there wasn't even from there. I mean, the one I met first was from another Equestria. Then, I met another Twilight, the one that actually attends Canterlot High. Or rather, she just transferred there from another school. Both of them are very different from this one, but I barely know a thing about that other Twilight. I never got a chance to get to know her, but she was kinda stuffy the one time I talked to her."

Trixie raised her hands defensively. "Okay. My head hurts. Let's stick with the Twilight that defeated you. Tell me about her. It seems she's the only one you have some knowledge about."

"Oh. That makes this easier," Sonata grinned, nodding obliviously while Trixie held an exasperated glare at her. "Okay. The Twilight that we met hadn't been a princess for more than a couple of weeks at the time. She wasverysmart, but sorta clueless. She's so serious, and a bit uptight, too. It's like she really didn't know how to relax. I could say the same for that other Twilight, actually."

Trixie chuckled. "Yes. When I first met our Twilight, she was exactly the same. She could hardly take a joke, let alone tell one."

Sonata smiled, pausing upon noticing Mayday walk with Ben sitting on her shoulders. "That's the difference. This Twilight is very mature and more well-balanced. She's wiser and very… collected. Although, I can tell that she still has a temper deep down. But everyone's different, and this Twilight has grown so much in comparison. She's so much more flexible now. I'll have to thank Peter for helping her loosen up."

Trixie nodded, sharing the siren's smile. "Indeed. As much as I poke fun at that idiot, I can say Peter's friendliness is really contagious." The woman arched a brow. "Did you know me by chance?"

"Totally!" Sonata giggled, earning a hesitant chuckle from her friend.

Trixie inhaled deeply before leaning closer to the siren. "So, how was I? Be direct."

Sonata hummed, clapping her hands together. "Well, she was a total snob. Pretty mean, too. That Trixie only cared about herself and how much she stood out from everybody else."

Trixie scoffed, folding her arms across her chest. "Figures. That's exactly how I was before I met Twilight and Peter. I deemed myself the Great and Powerful Trixie. Looking back, I can see why Parker says I'm an egomaniac."

"How did you meet Twilight and Peter?" Sonata questioned, tilting her head to the side.

Trixie shuddered involuntarily. "I was a traveling magician that boasted about having defeated an Ursa Major. Twilight revealed that I was a fraud, and I was forced to find other means of supporting myself. That's how I met Peter." She trailed off as a blank expression formed on her face. "I actually tried to rob him, only to find out that the great Spider-Mane was as broke as me. I blackmailed my way into their home, but Peter taught me to let go of my petty grudge. I haven't been able to separate myself from those two ever since. Basically, Twilight's the sister I never had, and Peter's my best friend, as stupid as he may be." A pink tint filled her cheeks before she released a scoff. "Don't say a word to him about it."

Sonata patted Trixie's shoulder reassuringly. "Don't worry! Your secret is safe with me. You're so much different from your other self, too. Like Twilight, you've matured so much." Sobering, the siren glanced to the blue sky with a softened gaze. "I'm actually jealous of you. You have friends and family that you can trust. I don't have either anymore. My family's gone, and I've lost Aria and Adagio."

"Well if it's any consolation, I almost know what that's like. I ran away and lost contact with my family," Trixie softly said, lifting her gaze until it fell on the trio in the distance. She turned to face Sonata with a warm smile. "However, I found a new family, and I couldn't be happier. It's not too late for you either. Open your heart and give those around you a fair chance. You don't have to worry about anyone here judging you. We're all friends, and you've more than earned our trust."

Sonata's eyes widened. "What? Are you sure? I mean, after everything I did…"

"It's in the past. You've already expressed regret about what was done. Besides, I have an idea," Trixie muttered, grabbing Sonata's wrist before she could hope to protest. She easily led the considerably smaller woman towards the field until they reached the group. Twilight, Sunset, and Luna paused as the pair neared, and Trixie relinquished her hold on Sonata's wrist, placing both hands over her hips. "If it's okay with everyone, I propose that we join your training."

Twilight and Sunset's eyes widened at the statement, but Luna sternly stared at the pair. "What has brought this on?"

Sonata glanced off to the side while rubbing her forearm. "I feel really bad about what's happened. Everyone is working so hard, and I really want to make up for my mistakes." She lifted her gaze, holding eye contact with the trio. "I know that I'll have to face Aria and Adagio, but I can't let them keep going. I'll help stop them… if you'll have me. If not, I can leave you all alone."

Sunset brushed a hand through her hair. "You have nothing to apologize for. You don't have to force yourself." She smiled warmly, placing a hand over the siren's shoulder. "But we're not going to turn down a helping hand. Of course you can spar with us."

Twilight nodded, wiping the sweat from her brow. "Plus, it'd be good practice. From what Peter told me, Aria was strong, and Adagio took him to the limit. We could really use your help on how to properly combat a siren." The princess grinned. "We would appreciate any help you have to offer, Sonata."

Sonata clapped her hands together happily. "Thank you so much, everyone! I'll try my best! I promise!"

Luna held her gaze on Trixie, furrowing her brow. "And what of you, Trixie? It's not like you to volunteer for physical labor."

Trixie smirked, shaking her head. "That's very true, Princess. This is certainly against my personal mantra." The woman sobered as her violet eyes narrowed into a stern glare. "I've always stood back while my two dearest friends risked their lives, and I nearly lost both of them in the process. I've always told myself that Twilight and Peter are hopeless without me. From now on, I'll fight by their side and pull my part of the weight."

As if satisfied with both women's answers, Luna simply smiled and nodded. "Very well. We have a long road ahead of us. Let's start from the top."

To be continued

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