• Published 12th Oct 2015
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A Pony Displaced: Another Path - NoLongerSober



Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. There once was a stallion who faced Nightmare Moon and was sealed away with her. Now he returns in the modern age, hoping to find a new path.

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Chapter 18

“How dost thou feel?”

Daring groaned in agony as she cracked her eyes open to reply to the mare across from her. “I’ve got a headache from Tartarus…”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but is there any chance thou couldst release me?” As she wiggled futilely in place, the mare became aware of the jailhouse door opening. “Daring, release me this instant!” Barrier tried to shift once more.

“Stop movin’ pillow, yer’ makin my head hurt…” the mare’s grip tightened.

“Maybe I should give you two some alone time.”

“Cobalt,” Barrier huffed out with no trace of amusement to be found.

“I hear that unicorns do some seriously freaky stuff with their horns when bored,” the thestral mare continued, however, her voice was filled with amusement.

“Art… Are you going to get this mare off of me or no-” Barrier suddenly squealed as a wave of cold water washed over Daring Do, and by extent, her as well.

With a loud swear, the pegasus mare shot upright, heaving for air as her eyes slowly fixated on the thestral.

“Oh don’t look at me like that, you needed a bath.” Cobalt moved over towards the desk. “Give me a sec and I’ll get your paperwork.”

“Damn right you will, and when you do I’m go…” Daring trailed off as a pencil fell to the ground and rolled under the desk, making the thestral bend over to try and retrieve it. “Holy crap, you’re a mare!”

Barrier snorted from her spot on the bed, finally drawing Daring’s attention.

“Great,” Barrier pressed a hoof to her face, “Here it cometh…” the stallion-turned-mare twirled her hoof. “Gost ahead, getteth it out of thy system.”

“Poison joke, huh?” Daring replied with an understanding nod. “That sucks.”

Barrier didn’t reply immediately, as she was still dumbfounded that Daring hadn’t had the same reaction as Princess Luna.

“Gotta say,” Daring approached the wet mare, craning her neck around to look at Barrier’s side and flank. “You make for a good-looking mare.”

Great, here come the jokes. “Thou knowest about poison joke?”

“Uh, duh?” The mare sounded almost offended. “I travel all around the world all the time. Can’t even count how many run-ins I’ve had with it. It makes me grow a fifth leg, if you know what I mean.” The earlier grin returned. “Maybe I can pick some up and we’ll experiment, huh?”

“No,” Barrier replied flatly before she suddenly began to whip her mane and shoulders, flinging the bulk of the water onto the pegasus.

“Alright, Miss Do. You’re free to go as long as you don’t get into anymore drunken shenanigans. Normally, I’d charge you with assault as well, but that’d take too long and I need to talk to the good Captain here.” Her gaze fixated on the unicorn mare as she approached the cell-door with a keyring in her mouth.

“Oh?” Daring raised an eyebrow curiously. “What could you possibly need to talk to this clown about?” She lazily pointed at the damp mare, paying no attention to her own dripping coat.

“None of your business.” Cobalt nosed the cell-door shut. “You’re free to go.”

“How long is Barrier gonna be locked up here?” Daring sat down by the door.

“She’ll be free to go as soon as I’m done talking to her and she either pays reparations or serves community service.”

“Then, I’ll just wait right here for him. Her. It. Whatever the Tartarus it qualifies as.”

“It’s a private conversation,” Cobalt reiterated with a slight bite in her voice, as her patience with the pegasus began to wear thin.

“Consider me her attorney, then. I don’t think Barrier’s too familiar with the laws these days, and nopony but me is gonna take advantage of that.”

Barrier’s muzzle twitched, half in annoyance and half in amusement. “'Tis alright, Daring. I don’t think she wanteth to discuss the legalities of me a-starting a brawl right now. No, I believe she hath something more personal on the mind. Isn’t that right, Miss Lancer?” Barrier’s tone hardened towards the end, becoming firmer and more authoritative.

The thestral didn’t reply.

“Go ahead and wait for me at the saloon, Daring. I’ll meet you there when I’m done and we can have a drink.”

Daring glanced hesitantly between the thestral and unicorn before finally nodding. “Alright, horn-head, but if you don’t show up in a few hours I’ll come back for ya.”

Barrier simply nodded in response, concealing her surprise at the mare’s reply. Daring hadn’t struck her as particularly protective in their previous encounters. Was it normal to be that protective of an acquaintance in this day and age? What qualifies as more than acquaintances?

“So, Princess Luna visited me in a dream last night,” Cobalt started as soon as the door had clicked shut behind Daring.

“And?” Barrier shifted focus from her rumination to the thestral.

“And she explained some things.” Cobalt took a steadying breath and sat down, locking eyes with the unicorn, a strange mixture of frustration and gratitude seeming to fight for individual dominance behind her gaze.

“Just get to the point, I’d like to be out of here sooner rather than later.” Barrier tapped a hoof on the wooden floor impatiently.

“Okay, fine. I’m sorry for thinking you were completely insane,” Cobalt raised her voice slightly. “And…thanks for what you said about me. I think.” The thestral opened the cell-door once more, stepping back as Barrier walked out.

Barrier coughed uncomfortably. “Was hoping Princess Luna would leave that part out.”

“One thing bothers me, though.” Cobalt reared up, balancing herself on Barrier’s shoulders as she began to carefully remove the inhibitor ring. “Yesterday, you said something about the guard being monsters. I didn’t give it any thought then on account of you seemingly being out of your mind.” The inhibitor clicked and slid free of the horn.

“What about it?”

“Did you mean it?” Cobalt went back to all fours and approached the desk again, depositing the inhibitor in the drawer and picking a lengthy pink slip out.

“To some degree, yes.” Barrier took the pink slip in her magic, carefully going over it as her mind worked doubly hard to decipher the text. “Times were different back then. We were hailed as heroes to the ponies that weren’t fighting, but I doubt too many of us felt that way. There are no heroes in war. The only heroes one would find were either dead or in prison.”

“You were a hero, weren’t you?” Cobalt asked, even though she already had a good idea as to what her response would be.

“I was just a pony that was good at what he did: killing.” Barrier levitated her saddlebags from where they had been hung after her arrest onto her back. “Here’s the fee for spending the night here,” Barrier removed a heavy bag of bits from her saddlebags, taking several of the shiny coins out and depositing them on the table with a slight ping. “Don’t expect a tip, though. Wasn’t exactly five-star service.” With a final flare of magic, the pink slip of paper folded itself up and fell into the bags. “I noticed Thunder Cracker’s hospital bills weren’t on there. Take it he changed his mind?”

“Yeah. I told him that we knew what happened and asked if he wanted to keep the charges.”

“Right,” Barrier flicked the door open with her magic, letting the morning light filter in once more. “I’ll take care of the other things on the list and with any luck th—you’ll not see me again. Have a good day, Cobalt,” Barrier began making her way out the door, only for Cobalt to call out to her once more.

“Did you really say what Luna told me you said? The line about swiving with their dams?”

Barrier’s eye twitched just slightly.

***

“And that’s how I got my hooves on the war-helm of Hei-Bei Kahn. Once I deliver that, I’ll have to flip a coin to see what I’m hunting next. It’ll either be the Wand of Magic Star or the Diamond Ray of Disappearance.”

“Neither of those sound particularly threatening.” Barrier nosed the door to the saloon open and quickly made her way to Daring Do.

“Don’t let that fool ya. They’re both dangerous artifacts, especially in the wrong hooves.”

Barrier levitated the bag of bits from her saddlebags once more, counting them out before depositing them on the bar for the bartender. “I apologize for the damage I caused yesterday morning. It was not one of my finer moments.”

The stallion behind the counter nodded silently before scooping the bits off of the counter.

“What happened yesterday, anyways?” Daring cocked her head curiously.

“A stallion didn’t know how to take no for an answer and grabbed my tail.” Barrier motioned for the bartender to bring her a glass of water.

“Well, I can see why that’d upset you, but don’t you think the reaction was a bit extreme? I can kinda understand the griffin in Ponyville but...”

“How dost thou know what happened in Ponyville?”

“I know ponies,” Daring responded, nonplussed, “but this was just a pony that’d had too much to drink. And seriously, are you still talking like that?”

“I shall speak as I please… and I suppose it may also beeth due to the hormones,” Barrier confessed. “'Tis not often I completely change gender, so my temper may have already been a bit frayed. That, coupled with the alcohol may have made me respond poorly.”

“How often do you find yourself drinking?” Daring asked with a slight tonal shift.

“I don’t need a psychologist,” Barrier replied flatly, throwing back her water and levitating another bit onto the bar before standing up to depart. “And I don’t have the time to have a drinking problem.”

“Fine, fine.” Daring made to follow. “So where are you headed next?”

“To the train station so that I can return to Ponyville and hopefully cure myself of this ailment,” she said flatly. And if they can’t help me, then I’ll have to go to Princess Luna… Barrier inwardly groaned. She wasn’t sure she would escape entirely unscathed if the Lunar Diarch got her hooves on her in this state. “And thyself?”

“Well, I’m going to Canterlot to give this artifact to Princess Celestia,” Daring patted her saddlebags, receiving a muted thud in response. “And then I’m probably going to the frozen north to hunt down the Diamond Ray. Before that though, I figure I might as well tag along with you to Ponyville. They’ve got some pretty good milkshakes at Sugarcube Corner.”

“Thou art a-carrying a potentially dangerous artifact, and thou art a-stopping for a milkshake? And speaking of that, thou got drunk and thrown in jail last night, with the artifact in thy possession.”

“Hey, it’s only dangerous because some crazy cult wanted it. And Ahuizotl. But they’ve all been dealt with, so there’s nothing to worry about!” Daring grinned triumphantly. “That aside,” Daring bumped into Barrier’s flank, “this isn’t your first time being a mare, is it?”

“Unfortunately not. I had the misfortune of encountering poison joke once before when I was training my cadets…” Barrier sagged visibly as the two of them made their way up the steps onto the train platform.

“Tell me about them. The cadets, I mean. Well that, and your first time as a chick. That had to be a fun. Man, if only you had a flank like that as a stallion.”

“There’s not much to tell. I took them to Butterfly Island for a few months of training. I was too busy trying to figure out my most recent financial loss and wasn’t paying attention. Due to my lack of foresight, we all woke up with varying effects.” Barrier half-giggled, half-snorted. “It made for an interesting first few weeks of training. Poor Verdant was shrunk to the size of a pea and we lost him for a bit.”

Daring chuckled. “How did you guys find him?”

“He bit me on the flank.” Barrier frowned at the thought. “Apparently I’d rolled onto him during the night. At first, I thought it was a tick or some other pest and nearly smashed him. That would’ve been difficult to explain.”

“What happened to the others?”

Barrier pressed a hoof to her chin in thought, “Winter Gem became excessively muscle-bound. She must have been nearly twice as large as I. It was amusing watching her try to adjust to the sudden size increase. Hat Trick lost all of his feathers. His wings were perhaps the most amusing thing I’d ever seen. Lastly, there was Iron Forge. He became a fairly impressive rug of sorts. He’d have made a wonderful pillow, as fluffy as he was.” Barrier actually cracked a wry smile. “Have th-you ever seen one of those dogs that has a coat so thick and long it hangs down past their feet?”

Daring nodded as she exchanged bits for tickets and lead the stallion over to the solitary bench on the platform.

“He looked akin to one of those. Gods, that was miserable for him. And then there was Swiftsword. As a unicorn I perhaps felt the worst for her. Her horn grew an obscene length. I’d estimate somewhere around fifteen feet. 'Twas far longer than her body, to be certain.”

“And you turned into a mare,” Daring finished for him. “So, what else happened?”

"I went into heat…" Barrier spoke with little more than a whisper.

Daring Do had no trouble hearing her if her face-splitting grin was any indication.

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