• Published 24th Jan 2016
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Stability of the Past: The Beginning - GoodieTwo-Shoes



When the spirit, Chaos, creates something that is too powerful to be on earth, will the planet every find a balance between harmony and chaos?

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Chapter 4: Strange Marks

Low in the horizon, the moon was ready to end the first night of the renewed planet. The new creatures of the planet were fast asleep, unaware that a new day was about to begin. The dark creatures of the night were wearing down, exhausted from their busy first night. A certain other creature, or shall we say spirit, was finally getting tired from the exciting, long night as well. Seeing his creations settle down, boredom and exhaustion set in. With a big yawn and a tried stretch, Chaos finally put away the Viewer. He took at quick glance at his colored stripes. Only his pink color was present.

Waving a dismissive stub, he said, “I’ll worry about in the morning.” He yawned again. “I’m sure I’ll be good by then.” Rubbing his green, heavy eyes, he dematerialized to finally get some rest.

Suddenly, Chaos popped back into the Viewer “room.” With widen eyes he looked at the low moon. It was in the proper position for him to finish lowering it. It was morning! Almost morning anyway. Harmony would be there soon to raise the sun. He couldn’t care less what she thought, but she would surely tell Control. His was an opinion he cared about. He would be in big trouble when Control found out that he didn’t rest at all! Harmony had like two colors when he saw her last night, and that was hours ago! She had to have at least three by now! What was he going to do?!

He looked around frantically as if a solution would just appear. Instead, he took notice of the moon again. And he still had to lower the moon! He slumped over. He was too tired for all this trouble. He fell to the ground. He felt too worn out to even float. Maybe if he just lied there everything would fix itself. His eyes grew heavier. His eyelids drooped.

“Chaos,” a surprised voice said. Chaos’s eyes flew open as he yelled in surprise. He quickly jumped up, breathing rapidly. “Why were you on the floor?” Harmony asked with her head tilted slightly.

“I…ah…” he said, at a loss for a good explanation.

“You didn’t actually beat me here to lower the moon, did you?” Harmony asked.

“Ahh…yes! That’s exactly it!” he said triumphantly. He continued coolly, “You were taking so long to get here, that I got bored. So I waited on the floor for you. It’s about time you showed up.” He crossed his studs and turned away, as if he were mad at her. She made a face at his offensive words. Then she just rolled her eyes at his characteristic antics. He grinned, eyeing her from his peripheral view. She had seemed to have bought it. But he forgot one important thing.

Harmony gasped, “What happened to your energy?!” His eyes widened. Then he cringed. He was busted! “Your power’s as low as it was last night,” she exclaimed. Her face suddenly froze in realization. He bit his lip. “You didn’t rest at all last night, did you?” she asked with accusation. Not waiting for an answer, she continued, “That’s why you were lying on the floor!” His eyes darted around out of her view as he quickly tired thinking of something. Harmony had her stubs where her hips would be, waiting for an answer this time.

Turning around and looking down at himself, he said in mock astonishment, “What happened to my power?!” Harmony wrinkled her face and turned her head slightly.

“What do you mean?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.

“I rested just like I was supposed to-” she rolled her eyes “-but my power did not recharge!” he cried.

“Oh really? Then why do I have so much power?” she asked, not convinced. She gestured to herself, showing him that there were over three colors restored on her.

“It’s probably because you slept so late. My power must have drained while I was waiting for you!” he accused her.

“You expect me to believe that? I did not sleep late. It is precisely time to raise the sun,” she said.

Her eyes suddenly widened as her brain realized what she just said. She quickly glanced at the planet. She gasped and grabbed Chaos’s shoulder. “It’s time to raise the sun!” she said in a panic while shaking him. Spinning him around so fast he almost got whiplash, she said, “Quick! Lower the moon!” She pushed him forward; he stumbled in the process. Then he made a face at her. She bit her lip. He sighed and raised his heavy stubs. They glowed dimly as he struggled with the large orb. Harmony chewed on the tips of her stubs. As soon as he was finished, she pushed him out of the way and began frantically raising the sun. Her stubs glowed brightly as the sun practically flew into the sky. He stumbled back. Then he just let himself fall over, too tired to bother to catch himself. Forcing one stub up, he lazily waved it, making the stars disappear. Once the sun was in place, she sighed with relief.

“That was close,” she breathed. She noticed her counterpart was collapsed on the floor again. Before she could continue their argument, a bright green light flashed. It was Control. His usual blank face was bent into a slight frown. It was obvious to Harmony that he was not happy about something. She gulped. Chaos slowing lifted his head with a groan. Seeing his unhappy mentor, his exhaustion was expelled immediately. He quickly sprang up and flew behind Harmony. Then he carefully peeked out at Control.

“G-good morning, sir,” she said with polite nervousness. He did not acknowledge her. He simply floated past them and over to the edge of the floor. Harmony slowly spun, following his movement. Chaos moved with her, as not to be seen by his displeased superior. Expression unchanged, Control peered down at the planet. “I-Is something wrong, sir?” she asked. Silent still, he observed the globe. Chewing her lip, she waited for him to speak. After a long, nerve-racking wait, he finally turned around. Chaos’s head shot back behind his nervous barrier. Without a word, Control looked directly down at Harmony. He knew he did not need to speak; she would never try to get anything past him. To her at that moment, his green eyes felt as though they were drilling straight through her soul.

“I’m sorry, sir! I know I was a little late raising the sun! I was ready on time, but I got distracted! I’m so sorry,” she blurted out.

“You know the importance of the timing of the sun,” Control said evenly, “It has a cycle at which it must adhere at all times. It is your responsibility to make sure it does.”

“I understand, sir,” she said, lowering her head.

“Do I need to take that responsibility from you?” he asked stoically.

“No, sir,” she said, looking down. Chaos covered his mouth trying to hold in his laughter. Harmony, the perfect goodie-goodie, was actually getting reprimanded by her oh-so admirable mentor. Head still down, she glared in his direction.

“The cycle of the moon is important as well,” Control spoke aloud to the room. Chaos halted his laughter immediately. Harmony raised her head and looked at Control. His eyes were peering behind her. Turning her head to look at Chaos, she grinned. With big eyes and a pouting lip, he pleaded silently with his stubs. She just held her uncharacteristic, mischievous grin. He whimpered. Feeling sorry for him, despite her annoyance, she sighed. He smiled hopefully. She would never lie to her respectable mentor, but she could at least try to soften his blow on the pathetic, grayed-out spirit cowering behind her.

Turning back to Control, she said, “Sir, it is true that Chaos was late lowering the moon, but that was only because he was so tired.” He slightly raised an eye ridge. Chaos elbowed her. Maybe she couldn’t soften the blow after all. But perhaps she could at least warn Control, so he wouldn’t be so surprised when he saw Chaos’s state. That might help Chaos some.

“He was tired because he was too intrigued by his creations last night to rest,” she explained.

“Harmony!” Chaos whispered harshly.

“I’m sorry. I’m doing the best I can. I can’t lie,” she whispered back defensively. Maybe she wasn’t the best person for this job. To Control she said, “In short, sir, his energy is not at half capacity as you ordered. It is far from it.” She floated to the side, revealing the surprised and almost gray spirit. His eyes widened as he frantically tried to cover himself with his stubs.

“Disharmony,” Control said sternly, without raising his voice. Chaos gulped, not daring to correct the use of his real name. “Why have you disobeyed me in such a drastic manor?” Control asked, only looking down at him with his eyes.

“I…ah. Didn’t Harmony already tell you that?” Chaos said carefully, glancing at her. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise as she was pulled into the conversation again.

“You cannot depend on Harmony to speak for you,” Control said calmly. Chaos twiddled his stubs nervously, trying not to look at his mentor. “Now, answer the question,” he said a little louder.

“Well,” he began, his pitch high. He continued, “I just wanted to keep an eye on my night creatures. You did ask us to watch them, didn’t you?” Control just stared down at him. Chaos looked down at his twiddling stubs, then back up at him. “They need to be watched too, don’t they? My job is to do that, right?” Chaos asked nervously.

“You were told to rest and refuel your energy last night. Your job is to obey orders. Now, give a straight answer,” Control demanded. Chaos looked down. He glanced at Harmony. She just looked at him sympathetically. She could not help him. Control told him to speak for himself. She smiled kindly and waved her stubs encouragingly for him to go on. She understood what it was like to admit wrongdoings to their unforgiving mentor. He looked back at Control.

“Really? You said that? I thought we were to watch the planet at all hours,” Chaos lied, anxiously. She just wished he’d be honest and stop digging himself deeper into the hole he was burying himself in. Control looked at her.

“I reminded him last night that you wanted us to rest,” she quickly said. Chaos glared at her. “Sorry,” she apologized. She was as bad at keeping things from Control as Chaos was at admitting things to him. Control turned his glare back at the accused.

“Okay, I’ll admit it. I disobeyed your direct order and did not recharge my power at all. I stayed up all night to watch my dark creature just to enjoy it,” Chaos confessed. She smiled at his honesty. “But why shouldn’t I have?” he asked angrily. Her smile dropped. “I worked hard to create those creatures. I had to watch Harmony’s creatures all day. I almost threw up because of all the harmony and cuteness! I deserved the right to watch my best creatures last night!” Chaos defended furiously. Control’s anger showed through more obviously. Harmony was even getting nervous. But Chaos ignored it; he was on a roll. “How could you deny me the right to watch my creations on the first night of their lives?! Harmony got to watch her creatures practically all day. She got to see them take their first steps, meet their families, and even learn how to fly. Most of mine are out at night. If I hadn’t watched them, I would have missed their firsts!” Chaos yelled. Harmony started to feel for him. She didn’t realize how important this was to him. What if she had missed the beauty of the bunnies accepting their odd antlered son? “I wouldn’t have seen them catch and maul their first prey or see them chow down on its live body as it squirmed,” Chaos continued, voice and eyes darkening as he grinned at the memory of it. Harmony cringed. That sounded terrible to her, but it was something he enjoyed. She still understood his side, as disgusted and upset as she was by what he just said.

“That’s enough,” Control said, voice raised slightly. They both looked up at him. Chaos pouted slightly, his vivid memory being interrupted. He continued, “Your excuses are not of concern. Regardless of your reason, you have disobeyed orders…”

“My reasons should concern you!” Chaos interrupted, “They are valid!” Harmony shrunk down and floated back. Chaos’s face hardened. He floated up to Control’s eye-level. He no longer cared what Control thought; he felt he was in the right. Control’s eyes narrowed. “Your orders don’t concern me! They were wrong!” Chaos spat. Harmony gasped. Chaos’s black glow expanded. His eyes were darker green, black mist flowing from them. Control’s eyes slanted slightly in anger. Chaos flew up to him, face to face. His sharp teeth showed as he growled. Harmony shut her eyes. Granted Control still didn’t appear to be very angry, but she had never seen him this mad before. They always butted heads, but Chaos never stood up to him like this.

Chaos was suddenly throw back and pinned to the ground by a green light. Harmony opened one eye at the sound of his body crashing on the ground. Control’s light expanded from his body like an appendage that held the stunned spirit down. Chaos’s black glow shrank back down, and the mist is his eyes was gone. He looked up with now frightened eyes at Control as he towered over him. Control glared down at him. Chaos laughed nervously. Harmony covered her eyes.

“Your excuses are not valid. You were given an order. You will follow orders regardless if you feel they are unfair,” Control said, voice raised slightly.

“But…” Chaos tired.

“Not that you need an explanation, but there are reasons for ever order you are given. Your power was severely diminished. Do you know what would happen if your power were drained completely?” he asked, with seriousness.

Chaos gulped, “Yes, sir.”

“It was vital that the first moments of the creatures’ lives were carefully monitored. Nothing significant had occurred by nightfall, so it was safe for you two to rest. I would have felt if anything paramount had happened last night. The rest you neglected was critical to give you the energy you needed to lower the moon. It was very dangerous to lower the moon without proper rest, Disharmony,” he lectured.

Chaos made a face and asked, “If you can feel when something major happens, then why do we have to watch the planet at all?”

“Because that’s the order you were given. They are your creatures and your responsibility. It is your job to make sure their chaos does not go out of control,” Control said, pushing down on Chaos a little harder.

“Got it,” Chaos struggled to say under Control’s increased force.

“There will be no more back talk,” Control said aloud, releasing Chaos and turning around to face the planet again. Chaos pushed himself up and quickly floated next to Harmony. She uncovered her eyes. “Harmony, your power is as it should be. It is at a safe level. You do not need to rest tonight if you do not wish. You can take an extra night’s rest if you would like. Your power will slowly recharge even without it,” Control addressed her with his usual calm manner while turning back around to face them.

“Thank you, sir,” Harmony said, with a slight smile.

“Since most of the fault was not yours that the sun was late rising, you will not be punished. Do not let it happen again,” he warned.

“I won’t, sir,” Harmony said.

“Disharmony,” Control said, looking back at the once again droopy-eyed spirit who could barely stay afloat. He continued, ignoring his tired state, “You clearly are not responsible enough to make your own decisions. You are to stay by Harmony’s side at all times and obey her until your power is fulling restored. Then I will determine if you are ready to make your own decisions again.” Harmony’s jaw dropped.

“What?!” Chaos exclaimed, exhaustion gone again.

“There will be no back talk,” Control repeated, “You heard the punishment, Disharmony.” Chaos opened his mouth to argue, but he decided it was best not to be smashed into the floor again. He closed his mouth with a pout and just glared at the floor. He continued, “Furthermore, unless Harmony wishes to rest tonight as well, you will stay up with her to watch over your creatures.” Chaos looked up in shock. “After all, they are mostly your creatures and they are your responsibility,” Control reminded him.

“But my power is so low. What if it all runs out?! You just said it was important to recharge,” Chaos complained, unable to control himself.

“You have enough energy now,” Control simply said. Chaos looked down at himself. His grayish orange color was halfway restored. He turned his head to the side. How did that happen? He didn’t rest. In fact, he thought fighting with Control would have exhausted him more. “Your power will restore eventually. You will be fine as long as you do not exert yourself. If you are worried, then do not use any power except to raise and lower the moon and bring out the stars,” Control suggested, turning back around.

“Excuse me, sir,” Harmony said as politely as she could manage, “How long will it take for his power to restore without rest?” She felt as though she was being punished too. She had to look after her troublesome counterpart.

“You will have to wait and see. It depends on how much excess energy he uses,” Control answered, looking back at them.

“I understand, sir,” she said, trying not to sound too disappointed.

“Enough time has been wasted with all this nonsense,” Control said as he pulled the Viewer out. “Begin your observation,” he said evenly and faded out.

As soon as he was gone, Harmony let out a big sigh. “Come on, Chaos,” she said, floating over to the large screen. She lifted her glowing stubs and began circling around the globe. She glanced back at Chaos. His head was down. “You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” she half teased. She found the spot she was looking for and put her stubs down. “Chaos,” she said, floating over to him.

“Huh?” he said raising his head, eyes still looking down.

“What are you looking at?” she said, looking down.

“Nothing,” he said distracted, looking up and blinking his eyes.

“Okay. Can you come help me then, please?” Harmony asked. He floated past her over to the Viewer. “You must be really tired. You didn’t even complain,” Harmony pointed out, joining him. He was looking down again. She followed his eyes. They were focused on his half orange stripe. She turned her head and looked at his face. His expression was confused but focused. She shook her head and began zooming in with the Viewer.

“Have you ever restored your power without resting?” Chaos suddenly asked.

A little surprised by the sudden break of silence, she said, “I don’t think so. Not more than a gradual increase like normal. But I do feel more energized when there’s harmony around me. Harmony makes me feel good.” She smiled and continued searching with the Viewer. He put his stub to his face, looking back down. Harmony energized Harmony. Maybe disharmony fueled him. His argument with Control was quite the display of chaos. He made a thoughtful sound. “Are you okay? You seem very distracted,” Harmony asked, a bit concerned.

“Ah, yeah. I’m fine,” he said with a grin.

“If you’re sure…” Harmony said.

“Yes, I’m perfectly fine,” he said, rubbing his stubs together. She made a face at him. He quickly put his stubs down, grin dropping. Then he looked up at the Viewer. “Ponies?! Again?” he complained.

“They are very interesting, and I still believe they have a chance at harmony,” Harmony defended. “Besides, you were the one watching them all by yourself last night,” she said with a smile.

“Only because I wanted to see the winged ones get eaten. I told you they were getting close to my forest,” he reminded her, crossing his stubs. “I don’t want to watch them anymore,” he said, raising his stubs. They glowed dimly.

“Chaos, no,” Harmony said, pushing his stubs down. “You can’t use any extra energy.” He pulled his stubs away from her. “Besides, Control said I’m in charge. You have to do what I say, and I say we are going to watch the ponies,” she said matter-of-factly.

“That’s not fair!” he yelled.

“Yes it is. You disobeyed Control. Now you are being punished,” Harmony said calmly.

“But I don’t wanna be puiniiiished,” he whined.

“Chaos, stop. You’re acting like a baby,” she told him.

“I’m not a babyyy,” he whined again.

She sighed, “I’m not happy about this either. I don’t want to be in charge of you. You are too difficult.” Chaos yawned and rubbed his eyes, his tiredness catching up to him again. “Aww, you’re just grumpy because you’re tired,” she cooed.

“I said I’m not a baby,” he said with seriousness.

“Then take your punishment like a man and help me watch the ponies,” she ordered.

He glared at her. But then he looked up at the Viewer anyway. “I’m only doing this because I’m too tired to fight. I need to conserve my energy; I don’t want my punishment to last any longer than it has to,” he said, crossing his stubs.

“Agreed,” Harmony stated.

~~~~~

The earth ponies had just begun opening their rested eyes as the sun shined onto their faces. A pink earth filly cracked her brown eyes open. She blinked at the bright sunlight and rubbed her eyes. Sitting up with a yawn, she looked up to find the source of light.

She gasped loudly and exclaimed with joy bouncing at every sentence, “The light is back! The light is back! The light is back!” The ponies within earshot groaned as they were woken by the shrilling squeals of the bubbly filly. The filly’s parents sat up to check on her.

“What did you say, Pudding?” her mom, Pink Fudge, asked groggily.

“I said, ‘The light is back! The light is back! The light is back!’” she repeated excitedly, bouncing again. Fudge looked up, shielding her eyes.

“Look, Caramel,” Fudge said, pointing up.

Squinting up, he said, “I see it, Fudge.”

“I guess the unicorns decided they didn’t want to tussle with us after all,” Fudge said with a satisfied grin.

“It sure looks that way,” Caramel agreed, smiling as well.

“My friend, Cookie, said she doesn’t think the unicorns had anything to do with it. She said they are just lights that allow us to see,” Pudding chimed.

“What? Of course it was the unicorns. They used their unnatural magic to do it,” Fudge argued.

“I know. That’s what I told her. I told her they took away this light-” she pointed up “-so they could put a cookie in the sky to torture us,” Pudding continued.

“A cookie?” her mother asked, confused.

“That big thing that was in sky before we went to sleep,” the pink filly explained.

“It did look like a cookie, didn’t it?” her father mused, hoof on his chin. Fudge made a face at her husband.

“Yeah, but Cookie said it couldn’t be a cookie because cookies don’t glow,” Pudding said, a little sadly. “And I couldn’t argue with her because she is a cookie,” she explained loudly.

“Pudding, were you…talking to a cookie?” Fudge asked concerned.

Pudding snorted and said, “No, of course I wasn’t talking to a cookie. He he! Cookies don’t talk, mom. Her name is Cookie, Smart Cookie actually. She’s a filly, like me. Well, not exactly like me. She’s sort of a light brown color. Her mane and tail are short and yellow. She has freckles on her checks.” She smooshed her cheeks with her hooves to emphasize. Fudge looked around, searching for the filly that had put this garbage in her daughter’s head. Spotting her, she scooped Pudding up and trotted over to the trouble-making filly. Caramel quickly jumped up and galloped after them.

Once they reached the brown filly, Fudge located an orange mare who was presumably Cookie’s mother. “Is this your daughter?” Fudge bitterly asked the orange earth mare.

“Yes. Is there ah problem?” the mare asked, trying to stay mannerly.

“Yes. Your daughter has been talking nonsense to my daughter. She put it in her head that the unicorns had nothing to do with the light disappearing,” she explained angrily.

Pudding jumped off her mom’s back and bounced over to Cookie. “Hi, Cookie!” she greeted happily.

“Hi,” Cookie replied, distracted by the argument that was unfolding above her.

“It’s not nonsense. Ah don’t believe the unicorns had anything to do with it either. Your daughter is the one talkin’ nonsense. Cookie said she was babblin’ on about ah cookie in the sky,” Cookie’s mom defended.

“What’s goin’ on, Citrus?” a brown stallion asked, ready to defend his wife. He had come over to make sure his family was okay.

“This crazy mare is accusin’ our daughter of talkin’ nonsense about the unicorns,” Citrus answered, pointing at Fudge.

“Who are you calling crazy?!” Fudge asked angrily, getting up in her face.

“You, you puffy-maned lunatic!” Citrus shouted, pushing her away.

“Don’t shove me!” Fudge yelled, pushing her back.

“Get your hooves off of her!” the brown stallion demanded, smacking her hoof down.

“Hay! Only I can touch her!” Caramel yelled, finally joining in. Everypony looked at him strangely. “Wait, I mean…”

“You’re not helping!” Fudge yelled at him. “And who do you think you are?” she asked the brown stallion.

“Ah’m Cinnamon Straw, Citrus’s husband. And ya’ll better not lay a hoof on her again,” he said with anger.

“She pushed me first!” Fudge defended her actions.

“That’s because ya’ll were all up in my face!” Citrus argued.

“Because you called me crazy!” Fudge disputed.

“Ya’ll are the one who stormed over here and accused my daughter when she did nothin’ wrong!” Citrus harshly reminded her.

“Um, ma,” Cookie said, pulling on Citrus’s foreleg.

“Not now, Cookie,” she said, shaking her off.

“But, ma…” Cookie tried again.

“Cookie, please,” Citrus said, getting annoyed.

“Everypony, be QUIET!” Pudding shouted. They all stopped arguing and looked at her in shock. “Cookie is trying to say something,” she said in here usual happy tone.

“Ahh, thanks, Pudding,” Cookie said unsure. The pink filly smiled in return. “Ah just wanted to say that Ah didn’t want Pudding to get in trouble. Ah was just talkin’ about what she said. Ah wasn’t meanin’ to tell on her,” she continued. Her parents looked at her and then at each other. “Ah actually thought it was kind’a funny,” she said, smiling at Pudding. “And Ah know she didn’t mean any harm. She was just being herself. And Ah don’t think there is anythin’ wrong with that,” she declared, stomping her hoof and staring up at the adults. Her parents’ ears went down in shame.

“We’re sorry, Cookie,” Citrus said, “It’s not like me to argue. Ah was just tryin’ to defend you. Ah guess Ah got carried away.” Cookie smiled up at her.

“Ahem. Excuse me. But she is still at fault,” Fudge said, pointing an accusing hoof at Cookie.

“This fightin’ is gettin’ us nowhere,” Citrus said calmly, “Cookie has done no more wrong than your daughter has. They both were just talkin’ and sharin’ their opinions. And they seem to be gettin’ along just fine even though their opinions are different. Ah think we need to take a lesson from them.” She smiled at her daughter.

“But her opinion is wrong. I don’t want her corrupting Pudding’s mind,” Fudge argued.

“It’s ain’t nice to be blaming the unicorns for everythin’ either. They didn’t do anythin’ but use the magic that they were born with,” Cookie preached.

“That magic is unnatural!” Fudge argued.

“It seems sort of neat to me,” Caramel mused. Fudge glared at him. He shut his mouth and quickly looked away.

“It ain’t a matter of their magic that bothers me. They think they are better than us. They act like they should rule the world!” Cinnamon disputed.

“I’m sure they ain’t all that way, Pa,” Cookie said, putting her hoof on his.

“Platinum was!” Pudding argued.

“Okay, that’s enough!” Fudge said loudly. Startled by the shout, they all turned their attention towards her. “Clearly, we all feel differently about the unicorns, and I don’t believe we are going to come to an agreement anytime soon,” she continued. She held her head high and circled around them. “That is why from now on all earth ponies will listen to me,” she announced, “I have spoken for us before against the other odd ponies, and I had also declared that we stay here.” She hopped up on a large rock and proclaimed loudly, “At this point, I am taking official charge over every earth pony here.” The other earth ponies had gathered around, hearing all the commotion. They chattered among themselves about what the pink mare was saying. “From now on, you all will address me as Grand Chief Pink Fudge,” she announced loudly. Everypony gasped. Their eyes looked towards her back-end. “I will take everyponies’ opinions into consideration. All disputes will first go through my Chief, Purple Caramel,” she said, gesturing at him. His mouth was agape. His eyes were locked on her glowing flank. “Then he will speak to me. All final decisions will be made by me,” she stated, eyes closed and hoof on her chest.

Hearing no quarrel, she opened her brown eyes. All eyes were staring at her rear. She made a face in confusion. Then she followed their eyes with her own. She gasped, seeing her glowing flank. She quickly covered it with her puffy brown tail. Panicked, she backed up and fell off the rock. She tumbled to a stop in the dust. Everypony quickly surrounded her. Once the dust settled, they all could see the mark that the light had left behind. After shaking her head, the fallen mare quickly checked her flank. On it was what appeared to be a brown puffy hat with pink jewels. On top of the muffin-like hat was a pink block of fudge that had a bite taken out of one of its corners. She gasped and moved her tail over it again. Ears down, eyes wide, and breath rapid, she frantically glanced around at all the eyes on her.

“What is that?” one pony whispered.

“S-see! Look at what those unicorns have done now!” Fudge yelled, “They marked me!”

“F-F-Fudge,” Caramel stuttered. “They marked me too!” he panicked. He swung his rear around and showed everypony his mark. It was a purple cube of caramel wearing a purple cape and a yellow hat similar to the one on Fudge’s mark. The hat had light brown jewels and melted brown caramel on top.

“This is an outrage! We must do something now!” Fudge said, standing up and stomping one hoof. She marched in the direction of the mountain in which the unicorns had gone. Most of the others began to follow, either agreeing with her or being too afraid to say any different. Caramel looked back down at his mark. He carefully touched it. It did not burn or hurt him in any way. He hummed and rubbed his hoof over it. Then he smiled. Fudge noticed he wasn’t following her and quickly stormed over to him. “What are you doing?” she asked angrily.

He looked up with a grin and said, “It feels…good.”

“What?!” she asked, face wrinkled in irritation.

“It feels good,” he repeated, “I like it. It just feels right, like it’s supposed to be there.” He smiled. She snarled at him. He shrunk back.

“Now the mark is poisoning his mind!” she shouted, pointing at him.

“Fudge,” Caramel pipped up.

“That’s Grand Chief Pink Fudge!” she yelled hysterically. Everypony backed up in surprise and fright. The self-proclaimed grand chief seemed to be losing her mind. Caramel carefully stepped forward nervously.

“I-I d-don’t think it was the u-unicorns,” he spoke fearfully. She glared at him with a growl. He quickly looked away. Not looking at her, he continued, “T-the mark h-has a hat and-and a cape that looks like what a chief might wear.” He looked at her with only his eyes, his head still turned. “A-and you just said I was chief. And it has purple caramel like my name,” he said with more confidence, turning his head towards her. She stalked closer to him. She was not pleased that he was standing up against her. She just declared that she was in charge, not him. He backed up, but spoke nonetheless, “Your mark looks like a grand chief’s hat, and it has pink fudge on top.” Her stalking ceased. “It shows how important you are,” he concluded. Her expression turned serious. She hummed thoughtfully, rubbing her chin and looking at her mark with only her eyes. Then she turned on her heels and leaped on to the rock. Caramel sighed and wiped his forehead in relief.

“This mark is proof that I am to lead you. It shows all of you that I am your grand chief!” Fudge announced proudly, “And his mark proves he is your chief.” He joined her beside her rock. She quickly thought of her first decree as grand chief while she had their attention. “As grand chief I declare that we need food. This half-” she pointed to the group that contained Citrus and her family “-will spread out and find food. The other half will begin building shelters for everypony, as well as a place for us worthy of our titles,” she ordered. Everypony looked at each other, unsure if they should take orders from this unstable mare. “Get moving!” she demanded, stomping her hoof. Everypony quickly spread out, deciding they would rather stay on this crazy mare’s good side. She smiled with triumph. Pudding looked up at her, unsure of how to feel about her mom’s sudden power over everypony. She looked over to Cookie as she left with her parents to search for food. The brown filly looked back at her with the same uncertain expression.

~~~~~

Over in the mountain cave, the sunlight had just crept through the cave’s mouth, waking up the sleeping unicorns. The green maned purple filly was the first to wake. During the night, she had slipped away to sit at the cave’s entrance to get a better look at the moon. Seeing the sun had returned, she hopped up and trotted to her mom.

“Mom,” Clover whispered, “It’s back.” She gently shook her. The mare slowly pushed herself up. She was suddenly pushed from behind. She looked back and saw her daughter excitedly trying to move her to the cave entrance. “Come on,” Clover whispered impatiently. Her mother laughed. Once they reached the cave’s mouth, Clover pointed up at the sun. “See! There is it,” she said in amazement, “It’s fascinating.” Her mom giggled, ruffling her mane.

“What’s got her so excited, Iris?” Clover’s father asked.

“Oh just the lights again, Fescue,” she answered with delight.

“She’s such a curious little filly, isn’t she?” he mused, smiling at his inquisitive daughter as she studied the sun.

“Yes, and I love that about her,” she said with a gentle smile. She rested her head against his. He put his foreleg over her shoulders in return. Their daughter continued admiring the sun, shielding her green eyes.

“Ahem,” a deep voice broke the peace. Parting, the couple turned to find the large silver unicorn staring at them. Iris swept up Clover underneath her, stepping out of the way. Silver Sapphire strolled between them and turned to face the waking unicorns. “It is time to continue our journey up the mountain,” he announced. He turned back around and walked out into the still damp grass. Standing profile towards the cave, he waited for his family to join him.

Gasping quietly, Clover quickly whispered to Iris, “Mom, look.” She pointed to the large unicorn. Iris pushed her impolite hoof down, but discreetly looked nonetheless. She quickly covered her mouth in astonishment. Subtly getting Fescue’s attention, she silently motioned to the silver unicorn. Fescue turned his head. She made faces and pointed with her head harder. He looked over at the unicorn. He spotted what she had seen. Taken back, he turned back to Iris. She shrugged. Then she gestured for him to say something. He quickly shook his head no. The silver stallion was not fond of him already. He certainly didn’t want to inform the much-larger-than-him unicorn that he had some strange abnormality on his rear. Iris gave him a look. He gave her an uneasy look back. Then he slowly turned to Silver Sapphire. His family had joined him. The others were just inside the cave next to Fescue, waiting for the proclaimed leader to lead the way. Fescue gulped and carefully stepped forward. He cleared his throat. But before he could speak, he was thankfully interrupted by a quiet gasp.

“Silver,” the pale gray mare by his side whispered urgently, “Your flank. There’s something on it.” She turned her head slightly towards it. He glanced back and saw the offense. His eyes widened. He quickly hid it with his tail and composed himself. He turned and motioned for the unicorns to start walking. She gasped too loudly, “There’s one on this side too.” Everypony stopped and looked back at her.

“Ahem, everypony wait for us up ahead. Prepare yourselves for our journey,” Silver Sapphire ordered as calmly as he could. Everypony did as he said. Fescue and his family remained in the cave entrance-way. Once he thought the ponies were all out of view, he quickly ran over to the nearby pond, which pooled below the mountain from the stream that ran down it and continued through the woods. He turned his rear towards the water and observed his flank. He gasped. Somepony as regal as he could not have such a blemish, especially in such an embarrassing place. He dipped his tidy blue tail into the water. He flung it out and began frantically scrubbing the imperfection. His wife quickly did the same to the other side. Platinum finally noticed the mark as her parents hysterically tried to remove it.

“Daddy! What is that?!” she shrieked.

“I don’t know, princess. But I must remove it before the others see,” Silver said desperately.

Iris and Fescue peeked outside of the cave at the mad pair. “Come on, let’s go before he notices us,” he whispered, carefully taking a step out of the cave.

“Maybe we should help,” she suggested.

He twirled around to face her and said, “Iris Ruby, are you insane?! He obviously doesn’t want anypony to see him, and he won’t be too happy if we just trot right over there and ask…”

“Do you need help?” Clover politely asked, peering up at the tall stallion as he continued to thoroughly soak his rear. Surprised, he jumped back and splashed into the water, creating a large wave that soaked his family. Clover quickly shielded herself with a magic force field.

Fescue gasped and galloped to the scene. Iris quickly followed. “Clover!” he scolded, once he reached them.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Clover apologized. “Here, let me fix it,” she said, lighting her horn. She stuck out her tongue, focusing. The wet unicorn floated up out of the water and was gently placed on the ground. Silver breathed heavily, fur and mane dripping wet and clinging to his body. Fescue cringed. The water was suddenly expelled from their three bodies and gently splashed back into the pond. He turned back. Iris’s horn stopped glowing.

“My mane!” Platinum screeched. Her mane and that of her mother and farther were messy and pulled to one side by the force of the removed water.

“Sorry. I’ll fix it,” Clover said, lighting her horn.

“You’ve done enough,” Silver said angrily.

“I thought I told you to control your filly,” his wife said, glaring at Iris.

“She was just trying to help,” Iris defended, holding Clover protectively against her legs.

“Enough. Fluorite, I can handle this,” Silver said, addressing his wife.

“It’s still there!” Platinum shrieked, pointing to his flank.

“How it that possible?” Silver asked, looking back at it with wide eyes.

“Maybe I can get it off with magic,” Clover suggested. Lighting her horn, she lite up the mark and pulled.

“Ow!” Silver hollered, jumping back. This time he landed on solid ground instead of into the pond.

“Sorry,” Clover said sheepishly. He rubbed his sore spot, as Fluorite quietly fixed his mane, her and her daughter’s mane already done.

“Have you really looked at it?” Iris asked suddenly, head turned and face wrinkled. “It looks like some kind of design or image,” she said, looking at it closely. He gave her an angry looked. Everypony followed Iris’s lead. He raised his eye ridges and then looked at it as well. It looked like a blue jewel wearing a hat. He squinted his eyes at the hat. It had a white puffy bottom with blue arrowhead shapes on it. The top had several rounded, triangular, shiny, silver points with light blue circles on each. It wasn’t just a hat; it was a crown. The mark was a blue sapphire jewel with a crown. He raised his head and hummed thoughtfully. He glanced back at it. Then he looked at his daughter. He rubbed his chin. Then he grinned.

“It is a mark of power!” he abruptly declared, startling everypony. “See how the jewel wears a crown?” he said, pointing to his mark, “It means that I am king. I am the Unicorn King!” He looked at Platinum and Fluorite. “And you are my queen and princess, princess,” he announced. “Come, let us go heed this wondrous news to the others,” he said, sauntering back towards the group, “They shall build a castle worthy of a king on top the high mountain where we all shall live.” They all looked at each other. Then Fluorite humphed and stuck her nose up, joining her new king. Platinum looked back at the others. Then she did the same, following her mother. Clover, Fescue, and Iris exchanged astounded looks.

~~~~~

The pegasi had already woken up and began flying back down onto the forest ground. Thunder Cloud spread his impressive black wings as his daughter jumped on his back.

“Those unicorns must have been too afraid of us to keep their threat!” Hurricane said proudly, looking up at the sun.

“You won’t have to have a talk with them after all, Thunder Cloud,” her mother said, stepping beside him.

“It seems so, Navy Rain,” he mused, looking up. He flew down into the forest, Navy Rain following on his tail.

“See, I told you it would come back,” Honey said happily from the tree branch below while pointing up to the sky.

“I’m so glad it did,” Pansy said quietly with a small smile.

“You need to stop being such a worry-ward,” Honey laughed, untying the vine from the tree.

“I know,” Pansy said, looking down. Honey looked at her with a kind smile. She finished freeing the vine and hoped onto her cousin’s branch.

Dropping the vine from her mouth, she said kindly, “I was just joking, Pansy. I didn’t mean anything by it.” She put a hoof on her shoulder. Pansy smiled up at her.

“Let’s keep moving,” Thunder Cloud announced as he landed below the tree. Navy Rain landed next to him, closing her wings. Hurricane jumped down off his back, as the others followed her father deeper into the forest. She looked around and made sure all the ponies were up and walking. She looked up. What she saw almost made her split a gut.

“Ha ha! What…ha…are you two blockheads doing?! Ha ha ha!” Hurricane laughed, rolling on the ground. Honey was struggling on a branch with the vine in her mouth slowly lowering Pansy down on the other end to the ground. Pansy had her eyes covered and her tail between her legs. “You two look ridiculous! Ha ha!” the blue filly snickered.

“Ish ont unny!” Honey tried to say, vine held between her teeth.

“She’s a pegasus! In case you haven’t noticed, we have wings. We can fly!” Hurricane argued, spreading her own wings for emphasis. Honey glared at her. Finally getting her cousin safe to the ground, she jumped out of the tree. Spreading her wings, she quickly glided to the other filly. She made a rough, stumbling land and snorted in the blue filly’s face. She stomped over to untie her cousin. “Impressive,” Hurricane said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Honey ignored her and gently untied Pansy. She helped her up. Pansy smiled at her. They walked past the blue filly, making their way towards the leaving group. Honey didn’t even look at her. Pansy stayed low and tried to hide behind her cousin. Hurricane suddenly landed in front of them. Pansy squeaked and jumped behind Honey. “Hay! I was talking to you,” she said, “What’s her problem?” She pointed at the shivering filly.

“Well, for one, you just scared her. As for the tree, she can’t fly very well. I helped her down, so she wouldn’t get hurt,” Honey said, displeased at the ill-mannered filly.

“Oh come on. Seriously? Afraid to get hurt? We are pegasi! We’re tough!” she said proudly. She jumped in front of Pansy, poking her with her hoof and said, “We are not afraid of anything! We especially aren’t afraid to fall out a little tree!” Pansy curled up, hiding in her mane and tail. Honey quickly stepped between them defensively. “You can’t learn to fly if you’re afraid to fall! No pony can learn to fly without falling a few times,” she said, getting in Honey’s face.

“There’s nothing wrong with giving a helping hoof,” Honey defended, pushing Hurricane back with her head.

“No there’s not, until you take it too far!” she said, pushing her back. Honey pushed her again. She pushed back again. The head-butting continued for a while. Pansy just huddled in fright behind Honey.

The sky began to darken around them. A low rumble cascaded above the trees. Pansy peeked out from her blue hair. She peeked up. Gasping, she jumped under Honey. Surprised by the strange feeling beneath her, Honey looked down, causing Hurricane to fall forward. They both noticed the shadowed ground and looked up. The shadow was created by a dark cloud that Hurricane’s unhappy, glaring father was riding. She quickly pushed herself up and saluted him. He soared down and landed hard on the ground.

“What is the meaning of this, Hurricane?” be bellowed.

Putting her hoof down and standing tall, she responded, “These two slackers were falling behind. I stayed behind to get them in line.” He gazed down at her, then at the other two fillies.

“You two may go. Catch up with your parents. And next time, keep up with the group,” he ordered. Honey shook her head and quickly stepped over Pansy. She pushed her to get up, but she wouldn’t budge. Honey laughed nervously. She bit onto her blue tail and began dragging her away smiling awkwardly. Hurricane shook her head at them. “Hurricane,” he said, getting her attention, “Next time you come to me if there is a problem. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir,” she said, dropping her head.

“We need to catch up to the others,” he said, bending down so she could climb on.

“Dad, I can fly myself,” she argued.

“Your flying skills are lacking. It will be faster if I fly you,” he said. She hesitated. “That’s an order!” She quickly jumped on. He took off as soon as her hooves hit his back.

They soared over the tree tops. Below, slowly making their way back to the group was a disgruntled orange filly still dragging her balled up cousin. She let go to take a breath.

“Pansy,” she breathed, “We are away from them now. Can’t you walk?” She plopped down on her rear. Pansy peeked open one eye and carefully looked around. Seeing no danger, she slowly sat up. She saw her cousin’s tired state.

Feeling guilty, she immediately apologized, “Oh Honey, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Pansy,” she said, still out of breath.

“No. If I wasn’t so afraid, you wouldn’t have had to drag me here or pull me up the tree,” Pansy defended.

“Pansy,” she said, putting a comforting hoof on her shoulder, “It’s okay to be afraid. You can’t help it. You’re just a timid filly. It’s not your fault.” She smiled at her. Pansy looked down.

“But I’m a pegasus. I’m not supposed to be afraid,” Pansy said miserably.

“Don’t listen to Hurricane. It doesn’t matter what she says. You are who you are supposed to be,” she said, lifting Pansy’s head to look her in the eye, “And I don’t mind dragging you around.” She smiled.

“Thanks, Honey,” she said softly, “You’re the best.” Pansy gave her a tight hug. Honey returned it gladly.

“Come on,” Honey said standing up, “Let’s catch up before our family starts to worry.”

“Oh, I hope they don’t get too worried,” Pansy said with concern. Honey chuckled as they made their way to the others.

With a little encouragement from Honey, they quickened their pace and rush deeper into the forest. They had lost a lot of time. They had to hurry before the group got too far. They trotted for a good, uneventful while. But then something changed. The plants of the forest had transformed into a strange flora. The branches drooped lower on the trees. Vines and long leafy plants dangled all around. Shadowy bushes were grown up everywhere almost making the path undetectable. Altogether, the forest felt different. An uneasiness hung in the air.

“D-does it s-seem darker to y-you?” Pansy asked, speeding up to get closer to Honey.

“Hum,” she hummed, looking around. Slowing down, she replied, “It does. And everything looks different too.” She observed the strange scenery some more, taking in the tense feeling in the air. Pansy crouched down next to her, eyeing the scary forest as well. “Come on. Let’s keep going,” Honey said, trotting forward. Pansy eeped and ran after her.

Along the way, Honey had a hard time staying on the trail. It was very difficult to find it through all the shrubbery. She pressed on anyway. She was determined to catch up. In one particularly tight spot, the sharp branched of the bushes dug into her skin. She cringed, but bore the pain and pushed them out of the way so Pansy could get through. The timid filly carefully crept through, trying to avoid the sharp twigs. Once she managed to get through unharmed, Honey let go of the bush and quickly jumped up out of the bush. She glided down in front of her cousin. Pansy noticed the scratches. She knew she was making it hard for her. If she could just fly, this trip would be so much easier. They would have had met up with their family much more quickly as well. Her head hung low as they continued forward. Honey took notice. She nudged her gently. She lifted her head, face full of sorrow. The orange filly smiled kindly, rubbing her head on her’s. She returned the smile.

After a while, they heard a loud commotion up ahead. Honey stopped, ears alert. She could hear crashing sounds and rustling leaves. She turned her head, trying to make out the sounds. Her ears where filled with distant shouts and roars.

“I think somepony’s in trouble,” Honey gasped. Pansy’s ears went down and she took a step back. “Stay right here. I’m going up that tree to get a better look,” Honey ordered.

“B-but…” Pansy said, being ignored. Honey was already heading up the tree. Partly flying, climbing, and jumping, she finally made it nearly to the top. She looked in the direction in which she heard the noises. It was still hard to see, but it looked like the pegasi were flying around some giant creature. Whatever it was, it wasn’t friendly. She quickly made her way down and landed next to her shaking cousin.

“There’s some kind of large creature attacking our group up ahead,” Honey informed. Pansy squeaked and covered her eyes. “I think they need help. Come on.”

“Y-you want u-us to g-go towards the d-danger?” Pansy asked shakenly, uncovering one eye.

“Pansy, I’m scared too. But that’s our family,” Honey said, uncovering her other eye, “They need our help.” She looked at her desperately.

“But we’re just fillies,” she argued.

“I know, but…” Honey said unsure, looking away. They were just fillies. But her family needed her. She stood up and said with determination, “But we are pegasi! We are strong. And we must protect each other.” She bent down to her level and gently said, “We may be scared, but we can do this.” Pansy quickly covered her eyes and threw her tail over her face. Honey sighed with defeat. She stood up and looked back towards the commotion. She knew this was dangerous, but she couldn’t just do nothing. She looked back down at her terrified cousin. Pansy wasn’t strong enough for this.

Honey’s eyes suddenly hardened. She quickly pulled a vine off a low branch of the tree and wrapped it around Pansy. She tossed the other end over the branch and flew up to another low branch catching the vine in her mouth on the way. She swiftly pulled her up and secured the vine around the tree. Before Pansy knew what happened, Honey said, “Stay here. You’ll be safe up here. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Honey leaped out of the tree before Pansy could beg her to stay. Honey was gone in a flash. Pansy whimpered and hid beneath her long pale blue mane and tail.

Honey dashed through the bushes, half flying and half running. She ignored the branches as they whipped her. The roaring penetrated her ears again. The sound grew louder as she hurried forward. The silhouette of the large creature began to form in front of her. It was larger than she had thought. She shook her head of any doubts and continued running. She could then make out the ponies flying around it. She sped up.

The creature’s form became clear. Its long body was made of what appeared to be dripping mud, which left brown, mucky puddles all over the ground below and even oozed onto some of the clumsier pegasi. Leaf-like green spikes ran from its rounded head down to its long viney tail, making it difficult to land on its back for any sort of leverage. The end of its tail contained several long, red, piercing spines. It used these to its advantage as it swung its massive tail at the ponies. Two matching red horns protruded from its large head, protecting it from blows to its head. It stood tall on its short back legs, and its small arms hung uselessly form its huge body. Sharp red claws were retracted from all four paws, prepared to strike. Its teeth were sharp as well and dripping saliva, ready to chow down on its next victim. Its whiskered muzzle was short with a small brown nose, which was so strong it could smell the sweet and blood as it dripped from the combating pegasi. The most frightening features were its dark eyes. Instead of white, its eyeballs were black as coal. Its irises were green with intimidating red pupils that could stun a pony in freight. It threw up its head roaring at one of the pegasi that had flown too close, throwing him backward. Leaf-like spines flared up threateningly around its head.

Honey quickly halted, sliding to a stop. What was she doing? That thing was vicious! Even the adults were having trouble. They were flying sloppily around it, barely avoiding its swinging tail and biting teeth. She breathed rapidly, watching the creature bite at the flying ponies. But she had to help. She gulped and slowly trotted closer. She spotted her older siblings a distance from the battle hiding behind a large tree. She quickly ran to them.

“What happened?! What is that thing?!” she asked in a panic, trying and failing to stay quiet. They jumped back facing her with their wings out, ready for action. Seeing only their little sister, their bodies relaxed.

“Where have you been?” her sister asked.

“What are you doing here?” their brother questioned.

“I was helping Pansy. We got behind. And I came to help,” Honey explained a little more calmly.

“You’re still letting that wimp hold you back?” her sister asked with displeasure.

“I told mom and aunt Cymbidium Spring I was going to help her down. You heard me tell them,” Honey said, a little aggravated.

“Yeah yeah, we heard you talking,” her brother said, rolling his eyes, “Where’d you leave her, anyway?”

“Somewhere safe and away from here,” Honey answered. “Now, tell me what happened.”

“You’d know if you could keep up,” her sister said.

“Amber, come on,” Honey whined.

“It’s Virga,” she corrected angrily.

“Just tell me what happened. This is no time for jokes,” Honey said with seriousness.

“Ahh, come on. We’re just messin’ with ya’,” her brother said.

“Saffron, we’re wasting time. They need our help,” Honey pleaded.

“First of all, I told you to call me Shear,” he said, pushing her with his hoof. “Secondly, we’re not allowed to help,” he said rolling his eyes.

“What? But…don’t they need us?” Honey asked, her face wrinkled in confusion.

“Phff, you got that right,” Virga said, peering around the tree as the battle continued. Every kick to the beast just left mud on their hooves. The dent in its body quickly oozed full of mud. Then the creature would attack again.

“We’re stuck babysitting,” Shear said, stepping aside. Now in view behind them were their younger brother and sister. They were twins as well.

“Haze, Fog,” Honey gasped, running to the foals for a hug. They squealed happily.

Shear pushed her back, shaking his head. “You are really bad with names,” he tisked.

“Yeah. It’s like you don’t even know us,” Virga agreed.

“Huh? But you want me call you by your second names,” Honey said.

“Yeah, but our second names are cooler,” Shear stated.

“Their second names are kind of lame,” Virga added.

“Much like our first names,” he sighed.

“Call them by their first names,” she said. “Ecru,” she said pointing at her sister, Haze.

“And Aureolin,” Shear finished, pointing his hoof at his brother, Fog.

“Get it straight, runt,” Virga said, pushing her chest.

“Yeah, you don’t see us calling you Dew, do you Honey Dew?” Shear teased. Honey pouted. She hated it when they teased her, which was pretty much every second they were together. And right now was not the time to be arguing about which names to call them, again. “Ah, lighten up,” he said, shoving her.

“Lighten up? Our family is out there fighting a giant monster right now, and all you two can do is tease me!” Honey shouted.

“They won’t let us help them, remember,” Virga harshly reminded her.

“Plus, we’re bored,” he said, dropping his head to one side.

“Aren’t you two worried? Don’t you care?” Honey asked.

“Of course we care, dummy,” Virga said, “But there’s nothing we can do.”

“Besides, they seem to be wearing it down now,” Shear said, glancing around the tree. The creature was stumbling around. Its movements were slow and sloppy. Its muddy body was dripping severely.

“Yeah, no thanks to uncle Nimbus,” Virga sneered. She pointed over to a large rock that their mud-covered uncle was using for cover.

“Pfft, sometime I thinks he’s as cowardly as his daughter,” Shear jeered.

“Nimbus Buff, more like Wimpus Untough,” Virga laughed. Shear joined in.

“Stop laughing! At least he’s trying,” Honey shouted.

“Speaking of trying, look who decided join the fight,” he said, pointing at a little yellow filly standing tall in front of the creature. Honey gasped and quickly dashed towards her. “Oof!” he said, holding his stomach.

“Shear! This isn’t funny. Now they’re both in real danger,” Virga scolded. “Stay here and watch the twins, while I go get the little hero,” she ordered, flying off to save the fillies.

“No fair! Why do you get to have all the fun?!” he shouted.

Honey ran blindly towards her cousin. She could hear the whooshing sounds of the pegasi as they zoomed above her. Mud was dripping everywhere. She was thrown up above the ground by the massive stomp of the large creature that was chomping and swinging its tail at the flying pests. She fell back down and continued running once she gained her balance. Her heart was racing. Her breathe was rapid. Her hooves pounded on the grown as she ran. Her wings were flapping useless against her sides. The beast’s large green tail suddenly crashed to the ground in front of her. She gasped. Running faster towards it, she leaped up and spread her wings. She glided safely over it and continued running. Several mud pile obstacles slowed her down, but she finally reached her cousin.

“Pansy! What are you doing?! Get out of here!” she shouted. The yellow filly was standing stiff. Her green eyes where wide open as was her mouth. “Pansy, snap out of it!” Honey yelled, clapping her hooves in her face. Pansy blinked as her mouth closed. She shook her head. Her eyes found Honey frantically staring in her face.

“H-Honey?” Pansy said, finally coming to. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I just wanted to help. I kept slowing you down. I just wanted to be brave like pegasi are supposed to be,” Pansy cried.

“Pansy, you were brave. You came all this way by yourself. But right now we have to get out of here!” Honey panicked. Pansy’s eyes looked past Honey. She could see the large creature stomping around behind her cousin.

“M-m-m-monSTER!” she screamed. Honey grabbed her hoof and ran. Once Pansy started running on her own, Honey let go and ran faster.

“RETREAT!” Thunder Cloud suddenly ordered. Without question, everypony quickly flew away from the beast. He was perched on top of a large dark gray cloud above the creature. “Head back to the flat top mountain we passed earlier,” he instructed as the pegasi began to fly past him. No longer distracted by the flying ponies, the enormous creature took notice of the fillies near its feet. It roared, flaring its green neck spines. Pansy screamed and ran faster, flapping her wings. Honey looked back. The creature had taken charge after then. She gasped and willed herself to go faster. With each step, the creature sent the two frightened fillies into the air. They landed clumsily back to the ground and stumbled back into a run. Its shadow began to cover them as it got closer. Honey’s heart beat faster. Her hooves and wings were getting sore. Sliding through and jumping over mud puddles, their pace was slowed. Pansy was falling behind. Scared as she was, Honey slowed down and got behind Pansy. She pushed her with her head, helping her run faster. They could feel the creature’s large paws stomping directly behind them, sending them higher into the air. Honey could almost feel its large red claws sweeping through her tail.

Then the stomping suddenly stopped. Honey fearfully glanced back. The creature was looking up, swatting at something orange and yellow with its spiked tail. It was Virga.

“Up here, you oversized mud heap!” Virga insulted. She swooped down, avoiding it swinging tail. She stumbled downward and sloppily pulled herself back up. Like the others, she still hadn’t perfected her flying. “Whoa.” She smiled, glaring back at the creature. “Is that all you got?” she egged him on. Honey smiled in relief at both her sister’s regain of control and at her helping them. Then she continued pushing her cousin forward. Virga kept weaving around distracting the beast as her sister and cousin ran to safety.

A loud rumble suddenly boomed through the forest. All three ponies looked up. The dark cloud Thunder Cloud was standing on had expanded and blackened. Light coursed through it.

“Look out!” Shear shouted, quickly shoving Virga out of the tail’s path. It clipped his back hoof, spinning him out of balance. Virga gasped and quickly flew to him as he descended. She bit his green tail and pulled him up. She stumbled. Shear quickly righted himself, keeping his sister from falling.

“You okay?” she breathed, worried.

“Yeah,” he answered, a bit shaken.

“Where are the twins?” she asked.

“Right here,” she said, gesturing to his empty back. They gasped and looked down in unison. They saw a brown and cream speck falling next to an orange and green one. Before they could soar after them, they heard their farther.

“You two get out of there! I’ll get the foals!” he said, zooming down.

“But Honey’s still down there!” Shear shouted.

“And Pansy too!” Virga added.

“Cirro, I’ll get the fillies!” Nimbus spoke up. He soared past Shear and Virga, the creature now focused on him.

“Fujita!” Cirro yelled to his wife, “Keep it distracted! And get those two out of here!” She flew down and precisely bucked the beast between its dark eyes and red horns. It roared in pain.

“You heard your father,” Fujita said, “Get out of here!” The twins hesitated but obeyed nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Cirro was quickly catching up to the falling foals. Seeing their dad, they giggled in glee. He smiled. He flapped harder and flew past them. He slowed down, catching them unsteadily on his back. He regained control and quickly flew up to safety. The creature had recomposed itself and was snapping at Fujita again. Down below Honey and Pansy were running, still waiting for Nimbus to reach them.

“What are you doing down there?!” Thunder Cloud demanded, peering over the cloud, “I ordered you all to retreat!”

Quickly approaching, Cirro shouted over the rumbling of the cloud, “Our family is still down there!”

He grunted, “You better get them out quick! This cloud is about to blow!”

“Nimbus, move your flank! Get them out of there before the cloud blows!” Cirro shouted down to his younger brother. Nimbus looked up. The cloud practically blocked all the light that was trying to shine through the trees. It was completely black now except for the lightening that was flowing through it. He gasped and quickly reached the ground. He landed roughly and ran beside the fillies.

“I got to get you two out of here!” he said.

“Daddy!” Pansy squealed. She immediately stopped running and tackled him. Honey slide to a stop. Looking up, she saw the monster was distracted by her mom. He pushed himself up, Pansy clinging to his back.

“Pansy, I can’t fly like this,” he said, pulling her off. He took her in his hoofs and hovered. “Come on,” he said, reaching for Honey’s hoof. Pansy slipped with a squeal. He quickly grabbed her with both hooves again and unsteadily righted himself. Honey looked at them, then at the monster. She looked back at Pansy. Her eyes were closed tight. Her hooves wrapped securely around her father’s. She could see her chest heaving rapidly. Honey’s face hardened.

“Take her to safety,” Honey ordered.

“What are you talking about? Come on,” he said, wobbling in the air and struggling to stay hovering.

“You can’t carry us both! Just get her out of here. I’ll figure something out,” Honey yelled, tears forming in her eyes.

“I’m not leaving you behind! And I won’t take orders from a filly,” he said.

“Think about your daughter,” she pleaded. Pansy was shaking and crying. “She needs your help more than I do. Go! You’re wasting time!” she shouted, pushing him. He wobbled around. He looked up at the expanding cloud. Then he looked down at her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He took off into the air. Pansy opened her eyes. She saw Honey still on the ground as they flew up.

“Honey!” she screamed, “Daddy, you have to save her!”

“It’s okay, Pansy! I’ll figure this out! We’re strong, remember?!” she yelled back at her.

“Honey, no!” she cried.

“I’ll be fine,” Honey promised with a smiled, tears rolling down her face.

“HONEY!” Pansy balled, tears rolling down her checks. Nimbus sniffed. He had to save his daughter. She had the least change of surviving on her own. Honey quickly scanned her surroundings. Mud and debris were scattered across the ground. She spotted a fallen tree that rested over a large rock near the creature’s back paws. She smiled and quickly ran to it.

Finally seeing Nimbus flying out of the dark, Fujita flew away from the creature. She joined the others as they waited above the large cloud.

“Pansy! My little flower!” Cymbidium cried.

“Mommy!” Pansy cried. Nimbus carefully handed her over to his wife.

“Where’s Honey?” Cirro asked, looking around. Nimbus looked down. “You left her!” he yelled.

“I couldn’t carry both of them,” Cirro sniffed, “She told me to leave her.”

“That doesn’t mean you listen to her!” Fujita screamed, ready to punch him.

“Get back!” Thunder Cloud interrupted, “It’s going to blow!”

“Our daughter’s still down there,” Cirro told him.

“If I don’t do this now, this cloud will blow out of control. There’s no telling what damage it could cause,” Thunder Cloud informed.

“What about our sister?” Shear asked.

“Hopefully she’ll get herself out in time,” he sighed, expression hard.

They were suddenly swooped up by a gray cloud. They pushed themselves up. Navy Rain was pushing the cloud away from the larger one. Her face was serious. She looked away. Honey’s family looked down. Thunder Cloud was floating above the cloud, back legs ready to buck. Pansy found herself suddenly turned away. Hurricane held Pansy’s head on her shoulder, covering her ears. BOOM! A massive light lit the forest below as the thunder rumbled closely behind it. Pansy jumped, frightened by the sound. Then she cried into Hurricane’s shoulder for her cousin.

Thunder Cloud slowly flew over to the gray cloud. The cloud began to sprinkle water as the distressed family rode on top. He nodded to Navy Rain. She nodded back and pushed to cloud forward. He joined her, helping her push the broken family to the flat top mountain to meet up with the rest.

~~~

“Whoaaaaaaa!” a filly screamed as she was launched into the air past the black cloud. She soared above it. Freezing in the air for a second, she looked down at the now gray cloud. Then she started falling down. “Uh oh.” She rapidly flapped her wings, slowing her decent. She hit the cloud with a poof. A filly shaped hole was left in the cloud. She popped her head up out of the hole. She shook the cloud from her mane. “Whoa. I definitely hope I don’t have to ever do that again,” she said to herself, hoping out of the hole. “At least not until I can really fly,” she added, shaking some cloud off her back hoof.

She walked to the edge of the cloud and looked down. She cringed. The burnt creature was lying lifelessly down below. Its muddy body was dried to a clumpy crisp. The ground and trees around it were burnt black. “I’m really glad I wasn’t down there when that happened,” she said. She looked down at the creature again. Her eyes sadden as she said, “Poor thing.” After all, they were the ones who invaded its home. Maybe it was just trying to protect its territory. Maybe it even had a family. She wasn’t there when the others got there. For all she knew, they started the fight. She sighed sadly.

She backed up and looked around. Where did her family go? She remembered Thunder Cloud had said something about a flat top mountain. She looked around trying to find it. There was not much around her except for a foggy area in the distance. She squinted her eyes. She could just make out a large flat gray surface within the fog. That must be it. Then something else caught her eye. It was a smaller gray raining cloud. There were several colorful figures on top of it. She watched it for a moment. It was her family!

But how was she going to get to them? She still couldn’t fly well enough to go that far. They probably couldn’t hear her either. She looked around. She was stranded on a large cloud. No trees were close enough to reach. She bit her lip. She saved herself down there; she could figure this out too. She paced around, thinking. How could she get over there? She kicked at the clouds as she paced. Pieces floated up and then settled back down. She hummed. She scooped up some cloud and tossed it up. It floated down a bit, but floated independently above the larger cloud. She smiled. Walking to the edge of the cloud, she began digging. She kept digging until she created a hole all the way through. She repeated this until her little cloud was free. She stood up.

“Whoa,” she said, wobbling. She sat back down. Spreading her wings, she lied down and hugged the cloud. She flapped them a few times to test it out. She and the cloud moved forward a bit. She smiled. She flapped some more, moving forward again. Then she flapped harder, moving the cloud at a slow, but steady pace towards the mountain.

~~~

Thunder Cloud and the rest had reached the others at the mountaintop. He and Navy Rain pushed the raining cloud against the edge of the mountain. The dejected family climbed off and gloomily marched past the waiting ponies. The older twins had their heads held high, trying to stay professional even though inside they were boiling mad. If Thunder Cloud hadn’t fried that beast, they would have. Their parents did the same. Younger twins lying his back, Cirro was peeved as well. Inside, Fajita’s sadness was staring to lose the battle to her anger. Nimbus tried to keep his head up, but it was very difficult. His body was drenched with guilt. Cymbidium was sorrowful, but more for her own filly. Pansy was on her back, wrapped in her mother’s comforting wings, and her face was wet with still flowing tears. The other pegasi watched with confusion and curiousness as the family passed them. Hurricane climbed off the cloud. She looked at the broken family and quickly wiped away her stubborn tears as Thunder Cloud and Navy Rain landed in front of her. The others looked at their leader, awaiting answers.

“We will rest here for now,” Thunder Cloud said aloud, “The forest is too dangerous.” He walked past the crowd and turned to face them. “No pony is to step hoof in the forest beyond this mountain,” he ordered. “That forest,” he said, pointing down, “is dark. It is unlike the one we passed through before. It has already taken one of our own.” He turned his head towards Cirro and Fujita. His eyes were hard; his anger clouded any sympathy he may have had. The pair were cradling their foals, theirs hoof placed next to eat other on the hard rock ground. Virga was sitting with her back to them. Shear was next to her, facing them slightly. They both were looking down in anger. Cymbidium and Cirro were both trying to comfort their daughter. The other ponies chattered among themselves in a mixture of surprise, sadness, and anger. “Once everypony is rested, I will take a group to go gather food from the safer forest,” Thunder Cloud informed. “Rest, you’ve all earned it,” he said, peering at all the mud, bruises, scratches, and bleeding wounds that stained his warriors’ fatigued bodies. They were soldiers now, and he was their general.

A light suddenly caught his eye. He followed the glow to his flank. The others took notice, all trying not to stare. The light faded, reliving a mark. It was a dark gray cloud with lightening pulsing through it. At its bottom and below were five dark blue stars that matched his mane color. The stars were connected together, forming a pentagon. Everypony just stared, unsure of what to do.

“Whoa! What is that?!” Hurricane suddenly broke the silence.

“Hurricane!” Navy Rain hushed. The blue filly hunkered down. Navy Rain walked up to her husband. She glanced down at the mark. “Do you think it could be the unicorns that did this?” she whispered, seriousness in her voice. He looked down at the mark. “What if they were the ones who sent that creature on us?” she asked. He looked back, seeing the top of the mountain that the unicorns had traveled to far in the distance. He looked at the ground in thought, then back up at her.

“No,” he said in a low tone, “I would like to blame them for that monster as much as you would, but they are far away from us now. They couldn’t have done that, or this.” He gestured to his flank. He stood up. The other stood up straight, giving him their full attention.

Unknowingly to the others who had their backs turned to face Thunder Cloud, the filly they thought they had lost had finally made it to the mountain top. She hoped off her little cloud and trotted over to the others. Before she could say anything, he began speaking.

“This is a mark of authority,” he bellowed. “These…” he paused, studying the pointed shapes, “…stars and their arrangement mark me as your leader…your general, for you are all soldiers now. You proved this by your actions in the forest. As your general, I will train you all to become better flyers and better fighters. We must all learn to protect each other and ourselves, so we will never have to lose another pony again.” He looked back at Honey’s family. Honey smiled sadly from behind the crowd. He continued, addressing the others, “The thunder cloud symbolizes the weapon I used to defeat the monster. It shows my ability to take command over these clouds, to control them.”

Honey looked down with a sigh, thinking about the poor, misunderstood creature. Eyes widening, she gasped. Stamped on her flank were two hooves of differing colors locked together inside a pink heart. One hoof was white outlined in blue; the other was yellow outlined in orange. The heart had a purple outline. She had a mark too. But she didn’t have the authority he had. However, she did feel something. It felt good. She put her hoof on her chest. A warm, pleasant feeling flowed through her inside. She smiled.

She was brought out of her daze by a hoof stepping on her tail. She looked up at him. The stallion mumbled an apology and followed the others as they spread out to rest and lick their wounds. Once he had moved, she could see her family up ahead. She smiled and ran to them. As she approached them, she could see how upset they were. Most of them looked mad, probably angry at the creature. Her heart dropped when she saw Pansy, still crying on her mother’s foreleg. Honey smiled sympathetically, and hurried over to them. She knew how happy her cousin would be once she saw she was okay.

Honey slowed to a trot once she reached them and cleared her throat, “Ahem.” They looked up at the sound.

“Honey!” they gasped.

Fujita picked her up into a hug and said, “You scared me. I’m so glad you’re okay.” Honey smiled, embracing her back.

Cirro ruffled her mane and said, “That’s my tough girl.” Virga and Shear gathered around them.

“That creature was no match for my little sis,” Virga said, softly punching Honey’s shoulder. Honey’s ears dropped as she was forced to think about the poor creature again.

“Yeah, you showed him!” Shear added. “How’d you do it anyway?” he asked.

“Well,” she said slowly, “There was this fallen tree lying over a large rock. I jumped on one end and got the creature's attention. When it saw me, it swung its tail. I quickly jumped out of the way onto the other end. When its tail hit the tree, my end flew up and sent me into the air. As I went up, the lightening from the cloud went down and…struck the creature.” She looked down.

“That must have been awesome!” Shear cheered.

“Yeah! Aw, I wish I could have seen it!” Virga added.

“Yeah, sure,” Honey agreed, but all she could think about was the poor creature being fried to death. “Anyway, I was thrown up above the thunder cloud, which, thankfully, was no longer active. I landed on it. Then I broke off a small piece of it and used my wings to float it over here,” she finished.

“Wow, I had no idea how cool you were,” Shear admired with awe.

“You did good,” Cirro praised. Honey smiled.

“I’m so proud of you. You really proved how strong you are,” Fujita affirmed.

Virga made a face. “You mean you didn’t fly?” she question.

“Um…” Honey hesitated, “I still can’t really fly.”

Virga pursed her lips. Honey looked at her with uneasiness. Then her big sister smiled and teased, “Ahh, that’s okay, wimp; you’ll learn. It’s actually pretty cool that you got out of there without flying.” She ruffled her mane. Honey smiled. Fujita put her down. Honey was immediately tackled.

“Honey! You’re okay!” Pansy cried, hugging her cousin to the ground.

“I’m glad to see you too, Pansy,” she tried to say, being squeezed. “But if you want to keep me around, maybe you should let go.” Pansy quickly released her. Honey deeply inhaled. Once she regained her breath, she swiftly hugged Pansy back.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get you both out,” Nimbus sorrowfully apologized. She let go of Pansy and smiled up at him.

“You had to save Pansy, uncle Nimbus,” she said, “It’s not your fault.” Cirro and Virga made a displeased sound. Fujita and Shear rolled their eyes. “Besides, I asked you to.”

“I see your daughter has made it after all,” Thunder Cloud suddenly spoke. Hurricane peeked around his legs. She smiled wide and then nodded her head. She was definitely impressed now. “She has showed great strength and courage. She will make a fine addition to our rank,” he said. Hurricane frowned slightly, feeling a little jealous. Honey’s family cheered her, but her ears went down.

She swallowed and stood up. She looked up at the large, black stallion and nervously said, “Thank you, I appreciate the offer, but I don’t want to be a solider. I don’t want to fight.” Her family’s expressions were a mixture of confusion and surprise.

“That was not an offer,” Thunder Cloud bellowed, “It was an order. Every pegasi will be a solider and learn to fight.”

Honey back away from the booming of his voice, but spoke her mind, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

“What about your family?” he asked, not pleased, “They could get hurt if you can’t help protect them.” She looked back at them. Her eye caught sight of her mark. He followed her eyes. His eye ridges rose. Then they went down against his eyes.

“You have a mark as well,” he said. The others took noticed and gasped.

“Yes,” she looked back at him, “I think I got it for putting Pansy before myself. I think I’m meant to help those who can’t help themselves.”

“That is what soldiers do,” he told her. She frowned and looked back at it.

“But it is a heart,” Navy Rain pointed out, “She does not have powerful stars like you.”

“I think the heart symbolizes her kindness,” Cymbidium said with a kind smile. Honey smiled back.

“I don’t think I’m meant to fight. I’m meant to help. I want to understand other creatures, not destroy them,” Honey said, trying to stand tall.

“Enough,” Thunder Cloud said loudly, “You will be a solider!” He turned and marched away. Navy Rain followed. Hurricane shook her head disappointedly at Honey and followed her parents. And she was impressed with her.

“You do not argue with your superiors,” Cirro scolded and walked away.

“And you will be respectful,” Fujita disciplined, leaving as well.

Walking past her, Shear said, “And I said you were cool.”

Following him, Virga added, “From hero to wimp, like that.” Honey dropped her ears and looked down. Nimbus motioned for Cymbidium to come. She picked up Pansy and followed. Dangling from her mouth, Pansy looked sadly back at her dejected cousin.

~~~~~

“Really? Are you kidding me?” Chaos asked in exasperation. His eyes were slightly angry, but they were more heavy and tried than anything. Even his raving was weak and half-hearted. Before the pegasi had run into the monster, Chaos was heavily leaning on Harmony. He had begged her several times to let him watch something else. Even the arguing ponies were not chaotic enough to keep the exhausted spirit upright.

“Your precious ponies finally wondered into my forest, and they all survived?!” he continued in frustration to Harmony, “Even that irritating little orange filly found a way out.” He crossed his stubs and sighed angrily. Harmony ignored his ranting and looked pitifully at the Viewer. Honey just looked so sad. Chaos looked at Harmony and then at the Viewer. He shook his head. He noticed her mark again. “And what’s with those marks they keep getting?” he asked. Harmony blinked and shook her head, clearing her head of the sad filly. “Did you do that? You didn’t figure out a way to affect the planet from up here and not tell me, did you?” he probed, pointing an accusing stub at her.

“What?” she asked, a bit confused, “I thought maybe it was something you did.”

He raised an eye ridge and said, “Really? Do I look like I’m in any shape to do something like that?”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, “No. I meant before. I thought maybe you did it when you were adding wings and horns to them.”

He put a stub on his would-be chin and mused, “Huuum…that does sort of sound like something I would do. But, I didn’t do it. Who else would mess with your ponies?” He hummed in thought. She put on her thinking face as well. “And you’re sure you didn’t do it?” he asked, looking at her.

“Yes. I think I would know if I had,” Harmony said, “I think.”

“Okay. Let’s think. The marks appear to have meaning,” Chaos thought aloud.

Harmony added, “They seem to have something to do with who the ponies are…who they are meant to be. They seem to show their…”

A flash suddenly filled the area in light blue light. “…destiny,” they said in unison, looking at the flash. The blue blotched white being appeared in front of them.

“So it was you who did this,” Chaos said, “I knew I liked you for a reason, messing with Harmony’s creatures.” He grinned. Harmony frowned at him.

“Hum hum,” Destiny laughed.

“But why?” Harmony asked, “I’ve never seen you do anything like this before.”

“Yeah, you usually work in ways we can’t see,” Chaos added.

“The marks on the ponies are certainly marks of destiny. They represent the unique talent that each pony is destined to have,” Destiny explained. She put her stubs over the two spirits and directed them toward the screen. “However, I was not the one who gave them these marks,” she said watching the Viewer. Harmony and Chaos looked up at her with uncertainty. Then all eyes focused on the heart shaped mark on the troubled filly’s flank. Destiny noted, “These creatures are indeed very special.”

Author's Note:

Finally got this one up. That was a long one! A lot of things happened here, so please feel free to ask any questions you may have. And as always, comments are welcomed (grammatical corrections as well)! :twilightsmile: