• Published 18th Mar 2017
  • 2,242 Views, 255 Comments

Equestrian City - Malcontent



It's been almost a decade since the Battle of the Bands and Sunset Shimmer has been trying to clean up the mess she made. After series of unrelated crimes, Sunset, now known as The Phoenix, may need to finally ask for help.

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Episode 10 "First Encounters"

Episode 10
“First Encounters”

By DarkMalcontent
Co author alisia
Proofreading and Power Consultation by Zap4th

“Twilight, whatever these are they’re gaining on you!” Spike shouted into her ear as his voice pattern squiggled in the upper right corner of her HUD. The terrain around her shifted and changed rapidly as she flew in a zigzag pattern while desperately trying to lose the two colorful energy balls following her.

Mental note: install better ventilation system, Twilight thought as sweat formed on her forehead. That is...gah! Should I survive this. She focused out of her thoughts as the armored hero veered left before she began to climb higher. Unfortunately she had to recalibrate her direction after her boot clipped the debris of a wall belonging to a half destroyed building. Was that-? Twilight shook her head. “It couldn’t have been Sugarcube Corners,” she mumbled to herself.

“What are these things and why aren’t they respecting physics!” Twilight shouted in frustration loud enough to make her voice echo inside her helmet as she made a sharp turn with the pair licking at her heels jet trails.

“On it!” several energy scans of the two colored orbs came across her HUD along with a chibi dragon popping up next to the data. He looked to the information and shrugged quickly as a series of animated question marks appeared above his head. “It seems to be an unknown type of magic,” Spike answered with growing worry. “There’s nothing we’ve seen like it in any of my data banks!” the panicking dragon shouted as he began to try and help with a new maneuver or two. “Attempting counter measures! I swear one of them is laughing!”

Several sleek flaps rose to reveal compact barrels before swiftly a set of flares were fired from her back. A second set shot out as the first passed through the two soul orbs whose energy seemed unaffected. Quickly the orange and blue flames overcame Twilight’s speed and slammed into the machinery, vanishing from radar. Simultaneously as this happened, the screen went black and filled with several error codes popping up at a frightening pace. “Spike? Spike! Reboot!” Twilight ordered panicked as she felt her thrusters start to give out. A relieved sigh escaped as they quickly returned to normal operation. “Thank goodness. Spike I don’t have a visual.”

A test pattern popped onto Twilight’s main HUD, but it was filled with strange objects and two faces that made her eyes widened in horror. “It can’t be them. They died at the Battle of the Bands…” she whispered in fright and disbelief.

“Don’t adjust your set!” Sonata’s floating head giggled.

“Yes, we control…” Adagio smiled hauntingly, “well...everything!”

“Spike!” Twilight cried as she gasped and her eyes opened wider as the suit began to move on its own, sending her spinning towards the ground.

“So nice to see you again, Twilight,” Adagio’s voice dripped with delightful hatred as the horizon spun out of control in the main screen. “You must let us buy you a drink!” she finished joyfully as the suit went sailing into the remains of a billboard advertising coffee. Twilight flinched as her metal protection shattered the remains of the paper and wood. “Wow! You built this rather well,” the once lead siren stated as she almost sounded genuinely impressed. That was before a twisted grin came into view. “Let’s see how much abuse you can take!”

“Wheee!” Sonata’s voice exclaimed with her trademark giggle fit as her avatar wiggled around on the screen.

Twilight stared helplessly as her visual display twisted and the world flipped upside down while she was sent sailing into a steep climb alongside a broken brick wall. “Spike! SPIKE!” the once pony princess shouted louder and tried to move her body in a desperate attempt to regain control. The two souls of the sirens laughed mercilessly. As their cackling filled her ears, her purple orbs watched the cracked and destroyed asphalt come rushing at her. Roughly jerking her body around with a small cry, Twilight managed to bring her legs forward just enough to angle her tigectory. Her small sigh of relief was short lived as the horrible sound of metal screeching on pavement rang deafening in her ears, sparks flying every which way. "Hehehe! We made her into a skipping rock!" Sonnta cheered as her avatar bounced around like a bouncy ball. Twilight grunted and groaned as she closed her eyes tightly and tried again to break free. "Aw she's trying to ruin the fun," the blue spirit whined.

"Let's fix that then, sister."

Twilight opened her eyes as her suit began to work against her. "What are you," she questioned shocked and fearful as both Adagio and Sonata's eyes glowing a very distinctive purple hue.

The orange soul gave a devious deep laugh. “Please assume crash positions!” Adagio ordered as if it were an announcement as she smiled widely., her eyes crackling with the corrupted magic that Twilight had seen from Aria’s gem minutes before.

“Oh no, wah!” Twilight screamed as the suit began to readjust again. She looked up, starred then gasped. They’re-! Her thoughts were interrupted by a rough jerk. Twilight turned her attention forwards and her face fell. “Oh I should have put in air bags!” she exclaimed with a sturdy looking wall coming to forcefully greet her at high speed.

***

"Aria," Sunset said as she maintained her composure while standing and dusting her jacket off. A confident glint to her eyes as she folded her arms. "You're supposed to be dead."

Aria floated down and gracefully landed on the ground with her coattails fluttering in the wind. "Funny," she began to lift a hand, "I was about to say the same thing about you," the siren commented as she held her chin. "According to the news, you died in the explosion..." Aria extended her arms to indicate the devastation around them as her voice gained a stronger confidence. "THIS...explosion actually. How did you ever survive?”

“You first. After all you’ve been here so much longer than me,” Sunset said as she gave an insincere grin while her eyes scanned over the siren, sizing her up much as Aria’s own orbs were shifting while locked on Sunset. The redhead narrowed her eyes on Aria’s glowing gem which seemed to be pulsing with magic.

“Left speechless? How unoriginal.”

Sunset wrinkled her nose a little behind the mask from the muggy stench of the growing magic starting to seep through. Not good! She took a breath did her best facade while keeping the timer in the back of her mind. “I do like the ponytail, looks like your sister’s.”

“Oh, Sonata, yes,” Aria replied as she ran a hand through her hair in an almost vain manner. “She and Adagio are making short work of whomever your little friend was. Featherhorn wasn’t it?” she flipped her head back gently and the hair fall back into place.

“Oh yea, that’s right. I was going to say Adagio but you’re right,” Sunset started with a small low chuckle. “You’re much more on Sonata’s level of moxi.”

“Ok bored again!” the siren exclaimed in anger as she threw her arms out. Sunset swiftly leapt out of the way as a series of purple energy ribbons grabbed and slammed into the ground at her. Another set of ribbons flew out which caused Sunset to leap and backflip out of the way. A third set shot forwards as she was landing.

Sunset hissed through gritted teeth as flames instantly ignited and shot into the ground, throwing her midair body left where she landed on the remains of a car. The siren wasted little time as she shot ribbons out at Sunsets feet. The redhead jumped back and pushed left with a stumble from a patch of loose ground as the car was crushed. Upon landing Sunset’s gloved hand rose quickly and ignited to give her strained face an eerie shadowing. Sunset huffed with a throaty grunt as she shot off three fireballs at Aria.

The siren’s chest pulsed brighter as she levitated with ease out of the way of the attack and chuckled as each shot struck the remains of the high school doors. Aria folded her arms behind her back as her gaze stayed locked on Sunset, remaining calm as a trio of explosions caused her hair and tailcoat to briefly whip around wildly. “You might need to work on your aim. Of course you’ve never been one to really think that far ahead have you?” she taunted smugly with her head lifted, fingertips on her chest and eyes closed in an over confident air. “Hn…?” an eye opened as a new sound reached her ears. Aria’s eyes widened as she tried to move but grunted from pain while losing some altitude.

“Seems my aim isn’t half bad but yours might need some work,” Sunset commented and blew her smoking glove off as the siren snarled, gritting her teeth. As Aria charged, the broken metal piece of a flagpole that had been propelled like a rocket had crashed back to the ground. Sunset shifted her stance, latched her hands with her foe and fell back. Briskly she pushed herself up with a strong kick to Aria’s stomach, executing a forceful flip kick.

Using the momentum, Sunset propelled herself up and over to land on top of Aria. This brief moment didn’t last as the siren forced the fire user over and the pair began to scuffle. Neither paid mind with their grunts of force to the small cuts and puncture wounds they were receiving from the rocky and metal littered earth.

Sunset’s gaze briefly shifted off Aria’s during their rolling to where now she rested under the siren. Her gaze set on the unique pulsing pattern on the red surface. ...I don’t remember that from before… grunting, Sunset shoved Aria over and managed to pin her against the ground as sweat formed on her brow. But why would she go against her nature? What degree of power was she offered, Sunset questioned mentally as she couldn’t rip her eyes away from the grotesque and painful looking power source.

“Aren’t you the little fighter now. I remember a different Sunset Shimmer,” Aria grunted as she took advantage of Sunset’s lack of focus, rolling so she now was on top. “So sure she’d turned over a new leaf and her so-called friends trusted her,” she mocked while she shifted up as she forced one of Sunset’s arms down, pinning it against the redhead’s side using her strong legs. “Where were those friends when we beat the everloving crap out of you in that hallway,” Aria asked awhile she drew her free hand back and curled her fingers into a tight fist. “Hmm?!”

The fist flew down, striking ground and wincing with a hiss while allowing Sunset with her tilted away head to get a nice close up of Aria’s scars under the leather straps. Sunset tightened her jaw and quickly charged flames into both palms. Unleashing the fire in a whirlwind, she threw herself up, slammed her head into the siren’s and threw her off balance. Not dawdling, the redhead threw her freed arms forward and blasted the purple haired woman back a short distance. “Word of advice…” Sunset stood with a grunt and brushed the dirt off her shoulders. “Don’t be such a hothead,” she smiled pleased with herself as the siren hit the debris with a bounce.

Aria snarled as she stumbled to her feet with singed hair and slumped shoulders. Loosely the siren threw her burning limbs towards Sunset and with a strained grunt, tried to send her ribbons to attack. The gem flickered a dimmer light as the tendrils sank and dug deeper into her flesh. Aria’s body went rigid as her eyes widened and her lips parted in a silent sound. “Performance problems? I thought only men got those...oh wait,” Sunset commented with her maintained air of being fine, despite her own exhaustion. Her confident expression slightly fell into concern as Aria shakily moved a hand then the other towards the dimming gemstone. Seems she does have her limits, Sunset thought as she kept her eyes locked on the struggling siren.

Tapping too much power, Aria thought strained as she struggled to inhale as well as stay standing. Her right leg suddenly collapsed which caused her to stumble. Somehow she remained off the ground but her thigh high boots were creaking and looking worse for wear. “You know…” she crooked heavily as she took a step but collapsed onto her right knee while holding her side. “You actually have grown some guts since high school…” the siren panted as she forced her head up to lock her sights on her foe.

Sunset tensed as she kept her stern gaze carefully scanning over the seemingly exhausted Aria. “It’s too bad…” the siren quietly began as she tightened her jaw, closing her eyes gently before they began to tighten. Simultaneously Aria snapped her eyes opened, forced her arms out in front of her and shot out energy whip like tendril, “I’ll have to spill them!” she shouted in a raspy and desperate voice.

Swiftly the redhead reared back with her rising left arm to be snatched. She pulled against them but nearly face planted as Aria started to push herself up while yanking the hero towards her. Sunset growled with gritted teeth as she managed a steady front-back stance. Aria pulled harder which forcefully drew the black leather clad arm to extend forwards, straining on the shoulder joint which resulted in a small hiss and the closing of one eye.

Shifting her gaze, Sunset reached around into her pocket with her free right hand and pulled out a small pellet. Gripping it she sunk heat into it, threw the homemade creation hard to the ground between them and closed her eyes tight. “What?!” Aria yelled in surprise while releasing Sunset and shielding her shut tight eyes as the pellet exploded in a bright white light with a sharp noise. The redhead pushed off and charged while she squinted through the light. She lifted a leg and slammed her knee square into Aria’s jaw just as the gemstone lost its shimmering glow. Aria flew back as as the energy whips vanished into dust.

===== * * * =====

“Crash test dummy twilight coming in for a...what?!” Adagio’s face fell in shock just as Sonata’s icon gasped and vanished from sight. “What’s going...oooonn!?” she shrieked in terror as her icon began to shatter into many polygons simultaneous with Spikes avatar rising. He sat upon a digital horse, dressed in noble armor and carrying a large jousting lance which had impaled the two sirens. They both vanished in a pixelated explosion and the main system began to reboot. It took no time at all before all the systems came back online and without a second thought, Twilight jerked her body around, closed her eyes tightly and opened them moments after coming to a halt. Before her sight was the wall, merely a few inches away.

“Maybe not the most graceful of flight landings but it’s still a landing,” Twilight said proud of herself. “I don’t think this suit could have taken that last impact.”

“Hah yea, but that’s implying you were graceful before when flying,” Spike laughed behind a claw.

“Hey I-oh thank goodness!” Twilight sighed in relief as she turned her attention to his little icon. “Spike, are they gone,” she asked while she hovered a few inches off the ground before finally cutting her boots thrusters, gently landing and relaxed her stance to release the burning adrenaline and tension throughout her body.

“I think so. Still don’t know what they were…” Spike stated as his little avatar dusted himself off after dismounting his steed. His weapon vanished, turning into a broom to sweep up the floor but in seeing no mess, he shrugged then tossed it away and observed as several lines of code began to run across the screen. “Hmm…” there was a silence before the little dragon knight nodded.

“Well?”

“Why they left? I don’t know Twilight.” He turned his pixel gaze up. “The energy they were projecting just fizzled out and it looks like it wasn’t their choice.”

“I wonder what caused them to do that then…” Spike shrugged just as Twilight shifted her gaze down. Moments passed before her attention returned to the screen. “We’d better get back to…” she began and trailed off upon turning around to view the wasteland had vanished. Twilight’s jaw fell with a gasp. “It can’t be...but…” before her stood the pristine walls of Canterlot Castle. Turning around there hung the tapestries and built in stain glass windows she had seen everyday with Celestia as a filly. “But...how? This wasn’t here before.”

“It certainly took you long enough,” Luna said which startled Twilight. The former purple alicorn turned and looked down. Her eyes widened and mouth fell open in silent shock as she began to slowly open and close her armorless hands.

“I’m so sorry it took me so long to return,” she began while turning her focus back to Luna with a smile on her exposed face. “But I don’t...know...how…” Twilight trailed off along with her smile fading. Carefully she took in Luna’s gaze and began to follow it with her body turning around, only for it to freeze and shock to enter her eyes at the new presence.

“I realize that, sister but I couldn’t just shove her through the portal,” Celestia stated as she approached with her back straight, shoulders back and everything from her air to her poise spoke to her regality. The taller equine continued her advance. “They have to want to leave for whatever reason,” the white alicorn responded while appearing to be unaware of Twilight staring with her mouth agape. “Or they just come back eventually,” she laughed.

“Much like her predecessor, Sunset, you disposed of Twilight in a way I wouldn’t have thought, dear sister.”

Twilight gasped she stepped back and quickly hid behind a pillar. She held her mouth during this and shook her head slightly to push back questions on Luna not hearing her speak previously. That can be pondered later! We have to focus on this right now, the purple haired female thought and peeked out from behind the smooth piece of stonework, listening closer.

“Yes. Now the only one we have to really worry about is Cadance who, might I say, is shaping along nicely.” Celestia stretched her wings. “I really think that’s my doing.”

“Not a doubt.” Luna sounded and appeared content while she sat next to her sister’s throne, despite the contrary of annoyance tugging at her muzzle. “Though,” she closed her eyes momentarily and straightened her upright posture. “Let’s hope her brother, Shining Armor, plays his part properly.”

Celestia sat down and snickered softly. “Yes, lest we have to come up with a reason to send him to “rescue” Twilight,” she laughed after making the air quote motion with her hooves. “Not that I’d tune the mirror to anything but an uninhabitable deserted world.” The two laughed simultaneous with their wings flaring out in victory. Even the two guards present in the throne room joined in the laughter.

“Oh no…” Twilight whispered pained under her breath. “That’s why they sent me there. I wasn’t good enough…” she choked softly with her breathing growing sharper. “I wasn’t meeting her expectations!” Twilight clutched her chest as her heartbeat increased, body began to sweat, ears began to ring with sounds becoming muffled and tunnel vision began to restrict her sight. I failed...I couldn’t have failed but...I failed… her thoughts repeated with her breathing becoming all that much harder.

“It would seem a certain rat is unable to remain “busy”,” Celestia dryly remarked, stood and stomped a gold clad hoof. The echo caused Twilight to jump and attempt to run. Twilight looked down to see her legs running in place with a yellow, glittering glow under them and around her entire body. She began to gasp for breath, trying to breath as she was brought into view of her approaching former mentor. “Well, what have we here,” Celestia asked in a regal voice as she continued taking her time. Twilight opened her mouth to try speaking but continued to struggle to simply catch her breath. “Can’t speak little rat? How sad,” she mocked with a pouty tone at the end.

Struggling to answer and breath, Twilight swung her hands out for Celestia’s horn desperately as her vision began to dim.

“Twilight,” an echo of a voice called quietly.

The purple haired woman continued to struggle with her actions becoming more and more frantic with silent gasping.

“Twilight,” the voice echoed louder.

Suddenly Twilight felt air rush into her burning throat and lungs. Air?! How?! Her eyes widened in horrified shock while she took in the sweet sightless life preserver. What was that voice, Twilight faintly thought.

“TWILIGHT!” Spike shouted with several alarms ringing on her HUD.

Almost instantly her world came rushing back like an overwhelming wave of water. Twilight stared ahead blankly with wide eyes until finally blinking and closing her eyes tightly. A rough series of coughs erupted with her body hunching over. Am I…? Twilight’s hands rose for her neck but were halted with the distinct clank of metal. I am, she thought relieved.

“Twilight? Can you hear me,” the little dragon asked worried while his scans took a record of her vitals.

“Oh boy,” she finally said with a heavy sigh. “Spike, I had the worst--”

“The timer from before has expired,” he pointed out before slightly muttering in a lower tone, “not that it mattered based on how thick the magic is in this area.” Spike’s attitude quickly changed as he continued. “We need to get you out of her now before you go into another trance!” he shouted with his digital body jumping up and down while waving his hands in front of her to try and ensure she was focused.

Twilight looked around only to have the world dissolve and reform around her several times as her senses were assaulted by the raw, unrefined magic. To her dismay the hard to see residue continued to try and drive her insane. “Uuughhh,” she groaned with a stumble from her body almost falling over. “Spike…” Twilight panted and began holding her head while her eyes began to close. “Engage Emergency Extraction Protocol...authorization…” her voice began to trail off, “Twilight Nine-Seven-Alpha-Beta,” she just barely finished as she collapsed forwards onto her hands and knees.

“E.E.P. engaged,” Spike confirmed before his personality turned oddly serious and his systems executed a series of automated scripts and commands. Then the suit took flight. “Extraction of subject Phoenix, added to task list.”

“Thanks...Spi...ke….” Twilight replied quietly before losing consciousness as the growing saturation began trying to overtake her senses again.

***

Meanwhile during the combat exchanges, Malcontent watched from the ledge of one of the few intact buildings left in the No Mans Land that appeared to had been once a part of Canterlot High School. He folded his hands behind his back while his gaze focused outward onto the battlefield. Namely on the two heroes engaged with Aria across the barren wasteland. “Mmmm…” the chess player pondered as he watched as one flew off and the other stayed to fight Aria in close quarters.

“Quite a sight isn't it,” a familiar sultry voice asked behind him.

Guess the deviless has appeared, he thought in a surprised tone with an unchanged expression and unwavering focus before him.

“Of course,” she began while taking a step then another closer. “Had you given me a chance…” he turned his head slightly as he listened. “I’d have shown you a much better time…” she purred as her steps barely sounded before, “such...a better time,” was whispered into his ear.

He didn't flinch nor did his expression change. “I wouldn’t doubt you’d have tried.” A hand slipped into his pocket and withdrew a round device. Malcontent’s focus returned to the battle and watched as the mecha girl was trying to lose the two soulfires. His hand began to flip and fumble with the small machine as lights began moving circular on its top.

“Are you admitting to something,” she questioned with a quiet and pleased chuckle.

“You may very well have been better to take,” he answered with a smile speaking towards the double entendre of his words coming to his face. “But you were far too clever to be trusted. Your other sister was far too stupid to be of any use to us.”

The blond haired spectre gasped with an almost offended expression before it fell and she folded her arms. “Sonata may be simple but she has her specific uses.”

“Just like she does,” Malcontent stated as his eyes focused on Aria who was firing more energy out of her gem at the fire wielder. She brushed off her outfit she had originally worn before that fateful night at the Battle of the Bands. “Though this one is far easier to control,” he answered before Adagio could comment. “You’d have been too wild to tame. Though why I’m tellin you this, I don’t know.”

“Maybe you’re just guilty of what you could have gotten and are missing out on,” she purred as the magic composing her spiritual body flickered with her striking a pose, arms raised behind her and hips cocked to one side with an expression meant to draw in the target.

He chuckled chillfully as he pressed on the device. “Cute how you think that.” The item whirled to life as the spectre Adagio began to fade as her body was pulled into the machine."I don’t have regret so nothing that appears here...bothers me.” He looked down to his creation that was in standby mode, the lights moving in their sequenced circular pattern. Malcontent lowered the device and turned his attention back. “I'm too close for a setback now.” He gripped the item and clenched his fist before turning and levitating down to his work site.

***

Sunset shook her head a bit from the disorientation of exposure taking effect. Not this time, she thought and pulled out a pair of slim handcuffs from the inside of her upper jacket sleeve. She took a step then another, whoa! Sunset stumbled but recovered and steadied herself with her arms out to her sides. Lifting her vision from the ground, the redhead looked to Aria’s figure that began to blur a bit. Not now! Sunset thought quickly as er empty hand held her head. Glancing down to her respirator display, she frowned and released a frustrated sigh. Of course I’m over. I’m always over.

“You never knew how to accept your limits,” a calm yet strong feminine voice said just outside Sunset’s vision.

Sunset turned to the source with her eyebrows raising as she glimpsed the regal shimmering mane of Celestia. The large equine build of the ruler of her homeland stood tall and still on a hill of debris and bricks, staring down at her. “I told you to leave the mirror alone but you didn’t listen.” Celestia stepped down, her wings flared gently as she came to a stop and stood on even ground with the ex-student. “You can’t seem to understand there are things out of your realm of control or understanding. There always will be,” the monarch firmly stated while she looked down her nose at Sunset disapprovingly. “That makes you weak. That's why I chose to keep information from--”

Sunset threw a fireball with the remainder of her strength and closed her eyes tight. Thankfully the resulting explosion and impact was making her mind focus on reality. “Not there,” she said through gritted teeth.

Celestia was gone when she looked back but appeared on the opposite pile of ashes. “You can run away all you want but that doesn't --”

Sunset clenched her eyes shut, dropping the cuffs to the ground as she stumbled backwards. She took another deep breath through gritted teeth, sounding like a backwards hissing snake. “Not. There.” During this, Aria’s body stirred and she let out a pained groan, complaining softly about Sonata turning the heat up too high.

“I can’t do this...not after this much exposure,” Sunset muttered in a struggling voice. I know where she’s at. She’s been hiding here. I… Sunset thought while she focused again, turned and stumbled backwards, tripping and sending the respirator flying as she went face first into the dirt. Lifting herself up, she heard the distinct sound of Twilight’s Matterhorn armor boots getting louder. She barely had time to look up when Spike’s monotone voice came over her earpiece.

“Prepare for emergency extraction,” was all he said before scooping Sunset up and climbing again, leaving a trail of air distortion behind them as the armor made a direct flight path towards Rarity’s Tower.

***

Rainbow Dash dove over a pile of boxes and with a quick hip dodge she arrived at the hole in the warehouse wall. The two thugs that had been thrown through the wall were both out like a light and thankfully not dead. Tipping her head and concentrating, she gave out a series of more detailed radar waves that showed her the inside of the warehouse.

Three more bodies lay still on the floors, the entire area littered with hamster pellets and other various small animal knickknacks. In the back of the warehouse she saw a small female figure surrounded by much larger masculine looking figures, each with a baseball bat or a handgun but all seemingly hesitating to move in on the much weaker looking girl. Pinkie peeked around the top of Rainbow Dash’s head and noticed the same thing. “Why don’t they just jump her,” she asked in a whisper to her longtime friend and recent partner.

Dash didn’t have time to answer before the mysterious figure pulled her right sleeve up and revealed a large golden bracelet with engravings and jewels adoring it. The few gems in the setting of it began to pulse with magical energy and gently a wind blew as it worked, making the girl’s drawn hood flutter slightly. “We should run,” one man said as he and the other men took a step back except for the one with the firearm, whom then opened fire before another word could be uttered.

Pinkie gasp but was relieved when she saw the female figure move with great agility, easily dodging the shot and closing the distance between the two with a brief outline of a cheetah rising from the bracelets gems before vanishing. “Holy cow!”

“Actually I think that's a cougar,” Dash corrected her.

The two watched stupefied as the petite woman moved with grace and agility, only to have an image of an elephant light up on the runes which brought her agility to a stop next to the gunman. At the same moment she sent a punch to his chest, knocking him back and through the same hole the other two had gone through. His screams ended as his head hit the dock and he groaned softly before passing out.

“Ok this is so not worth it!” one of the last remaining thugs threw down his bat and ran out a side door.

Before the girl could pursue, she grunted as the last thug’s bat hit her in the back of the head. This sadly had little to no effect, save for making her upset. She held the back of her head and pulled the hood down, revealing her yellow toned skin and tied back pink hair. “Dashie! I mean Shadowstrike! That’s..” Pinkie started to say.

“That’s hardly a way to treat a lady,” Fluttershy said with her voice far from the mousey, timid tone either of the girls were used to hearing. The tone was different and even her word usage wasn’t the same as it was in high school. It sounded far more sultry and dominating. They both watched in disbelief as the woman grabbed the thug’s throat with her right hand and picked him up with unbelievable strength.

The black sweatshirt and pants she was wearing gave off little to the eye to see as the rest of her outfit seemed more practical than flashy. She looked more like a midnight jogger then a magic using vigilante. “Though lucky for you, that little love tap you just gave me brought the more fiesty of the two of us in here out,” Fluttershy grinned, revealing a set of razor sharp fangs to the terrified thug. “I think it’s time for a midnight snack.”

Before either of the girls could leap or run to the rescue, Fluttershy threw the thug into a pile of caged mice, destroying and letting loose a small army of pitter pattering feet across the warehouse floor. Out like a light, the thug didn’t see the sudden internal struggle of his attacker. Holding her head with her left hand, she shook her head as if in some sort of mental fight. “No...NO….we can’t,” Fluttershy's more demure tone and inflection took over and she gritted her teeth. The fangs retracted and her eyes changed from the red they were, back to their regular iris color. She swooned and dodged the mice below her, more worried about them then her landing on something harmful.

Rainbow Dash finally ran in while retracting her staff and clipping it to her belt, before motioning to Pinkie to go after the runner. “I’ve got her, get that last chump,” she said with her voice an octave lower, a trick she’d learned to keep people guessing her identity. As she saw Pinkie run off behind her, her spherical like vision kept focus on the falling girl. Diving forward and timing her impact just so, she was able to both catch her and fall gracefully into a crate of packing peanuts. The soft gentle fluff of the impact sent small white puffs into the air as she held onto her friend. “Gotcha.”

Pinkie dodged several boxes she noted marked “Wubcakes” and made a mental note to pick some up on the way home. Closing in on the thug who ran, he was moving in slow motion compared to her pace. The pink and white trail she left closed in and scooped him up in a less than enduring manner, before turning around and carrying him back to the crime scene. Dropping him unceremoniously to the dock, she brought his unconcious friends to him and tied them up in a nice neat bow with a nearby firehose. “Normally I’d have a good one liner but I need to deal with something unexpected,” Pinkie shrugged to seemingly no one. “ Bye!” she ran the length of the warehouse to her partner and newly discovered friend.

“Wow, that was entirely unexpected,” Pinkie said as she came to a stop in front of Dash. Her friend was helping the wobbly Fluttershy back to her feet, as it appeared the fight or whatever magic she was using had taken a toll on her. “Who would have thought Flutt--er...” Pinkie caught herself and glanced back at the thugs, who were still relatively within earshot. “Hang on.” She grabbed them both and, without hearing any protest, raced off towards the central part of the city with Rainbow Dash's surprised squeal echoing in the wake of her speed.

***

Slowly walking down the marble lined floors of the hallway, Rarity shivered a bit with the cold chill soaking through her stocking feet. She advanced with a hand on one of the walls to hold her steady due to being mildly dehydrated from the nightmare she had experienced, and the small bit of anything she had to drink was hardly rejuvinating to her body. Stumbling along, she sighed in frustration as her bewildered state of semi clarity kept nagging at her.

“I should ask for my money back from that damn shrink,” she mumbled before running a hand over her face to try and clear the confusion that hazed her thoughts. “I’m supposed to be the top of the city's fashion empire and here I am…” the purple haired fashionista stopped and started looking at the four-way hallway she was in, looking left then right and then left again. “Oh for pity’s sake. I’m NOT lost in my own building,” Rarity tried to convince herself before taking a step right and later turning left, then back to the right again. “No I certainly am not.”

Hobbling along she grunted and hiked her blouse down a bit as it was riding up with each step, looking up to view her destination clear at the other end of the hallway. “Twilight’s always up this late, I need her expertise. She’ll know what to do,” Rarity thought out loud while pushing some of her hair out of her eyesight. “Half eaten faces and booze you drowned in. So much for ‘professional’ help,” she huffed, passing by several locked doors as she limped along.

Once beyond by the final set of doors, her eyes glanced the sign on the closests: Chemical Theory. Rarity used the door handle on it to steady herself although she barely needed it as she started to regain most of her upward composure, stopping just before the end doors labeled “Diamond Labs”. Grunting as she tried the handle, she frowned and tapped on the door gently. “Twilight, darling, it’s me.”

Silence greeted her. “Twilight?” Rarity knocked again and listened closer before the screen next to the door popped on and Spike’s dog avatar appeared. “Oh thank goodness, Spikey WIkey, let me in. I need to speak with Twilight immediately.”

Spike’s avatar gave a sad face. “Sorry Rarity, but I can’t let you in.”

“I beg your pardon?” Rarity seemed confused at the answer she got. “Why not?”

“Twilight can’t see you now.” Spike’s avatar had a small sweatdrop on the side of it’s forehead. “She’s….” he paused and an hourglass came up next to his head for a brief moment. “She’s unavailable!”

“Spike this is all very amusing but this IS my building and you will unlock this door.” Rarity put her foot down, though with no shoes on it had a lesser effect then she had intended. Spike’s avatar gave a small set of glances left and right, as if waiting on something to happen. “Oh for heaven’s sake.” Rarity fished into a pocket on her blouse and pulled out a credit card sized item. The onyx sheen coating reflecting off the overhead lighting had caught Spike’s eye and caused several exclamation points to arise off the dragon’s digital representation. “I’ve no time for this silliness,” she said while waving the master pass key near the monitor’s sensor.

“Rarity, that--” Spike stopped mid sentence as the screen went offline and the words “BYPASS” appeared in red letters, resulting in the door locks to disengage.

“Honestly.” Rarity said, slipping the card back into its pocket and walking in confidently now. “Twilight, dear?” she craned her head around to see the machines and computers running automated tasks with not a single sign of life in the room. The purple haired woman glanced to the cot she knew Twilight kept for naps, ...hmm that’s strange. She’s usually there after overworking herself. “Twilight?” she cocked her head left and walked to the small bathroom and kitchen area she’d installed for her a time back, finding no one there either.

“Twilight isn't here right now,” Spike said as his avatar of a sheep formed on a nearby screen. He seemed to inch behind a garbage can icon.

“Where is she?” the clarity and crankiness of sober thinking began to wash over Rarity’s mind. Smells and sights began to hit her harder also as she huffed.

“Ok. Promise you wont be mad,” Spike asked and trotted out from behind the icon.

“Of course I wont be mad.”

“She’s testing the mark 2 in No Mans Land,” he finally said after a pause.

“What?!”

“But she’ll be back any minute!” Spike hastily reassured her. “She passed out and toggled on the automated return!”

“She what?! Is she alive?”

“She’s fine, I promise. Sunset Shimmer was with her!”

“Sunset...is alive?” Rarity rubbed her forehead in disbelief. The booze had no doubt left doubts on what she'd been dreaming and what she'd remembered.

“Oh boy,” Spike said as an mechanical arm pulled a chair out for her. “Sit down and let's talk.”

***

The soft hum of power filled Malcontent’s ears as the power conduit he was working on was pulsing with energy. With a wrench in hand, he pushed his glasses up with an index finger and tightened a few more fittings. Tapping the sides of the metal casings on his project with the tool, the piping came to life with a bright glowing aura and began casting a blue hue across his glasses. He listened to the quiet noise from the machine and smiled, tossed his wrench aside and stood.

Catching the sound of an uneven landing, Malcontent turned and jumped over the messily strung fixtures attached to his project. “They ran off. I dealt with them the best I could…” Aria limped in holding her right arm in pain. She glared in irritation as he didn’t even look to her, simply making his way over to a control terminal for his machinery, before she spat on the uneven ruins of the school. “...dearest love,” the siren finished with a glance down to see the lightest amount of blood in the white expectorate.

Malcontent opened the cover on the humming machine in front of them to reveal a keyboard. “You gave them enough of a thrashing to keep them mending for awhile,” he inquired with a steady tone wype he typed in a few commands. “Aria?” he finished and placed his hands on the screen, resulting in a few statistics to appear:

Magic reserves at 57%
Minimum threshold required: 80%
Power to Siphoning Pillars Nominal

Aria leaned on a ruined wall of the high school gymnasium they seemed to be in. Scrapes and cuts adorned her outfit which left some of her modesty all but gone to the casual observer. She rolled her eyes with a slight frown as he resumed typing. Could at least look at who you’re talking to, geez. “I'm pretty sure they won't be bothering us for a while,” she panted and wiped her forehead. “I'm fine by the way.”

Malcontent stopped typing as her tone caught his ear, looked up slowly and silently stared forward. A moment passed before a few more keystrokes echoed in the tense air and he turned around to finally face her. “Then the damage to my plans at this point is minimal.” His irises began to emit a cold blue glow while they changed to an opaque and deep purple color. This change as his hand rose to face his opened palm towards Aria. Steadily the air around them began to drop in temperature simultaneously with him accessing his powers.

At the same time, Aria’s chest gem lit up the same color and she grabbed at it with her uninjured arm. The rapid heartbeat she was accustomed to filled her ears while what seemed like every nerve in her body fired off in pain. She fell to the dirt and leaned back trying to breath. Malcontent smiled and walked slowly over, letting her writhe in pain. “The next time I tell you to kill someone...” he began with the gem pulling towards him as one of the tendrils severed and hung loose. “...you'd better kill them…” his dark smile grew wider. “...dear Aria.” She wasn't able to speak but nodded her head rapidly.

He released his grip and turned back to his work at the control panel on the strange device. A coldness clambered about him as the air around them both nipped with an unnatural chill. With his eyes returning to normal he began typing in several more commands and paid his lover no more mind. Aria caught her breath and stood up with the instinct to lunge at him growing every time she did. “The more my species feels hatred, the stronger we become,” Malcontent casually said while looking at a set of wires near the console. “Relax, I've told you several times your just reward will be coming very soon.”

Aria’s rapid breathing subsided as did her anger. No sense getting cold feet now, she thought with a brief mental review of their history and concluding she was too far involved.

“Why don't you run along for now,” he stated and turned his head to look her over with a displeased expression. “Bathe,” Malcontent commanded as he scanned every part of her but her face. “I'm sure I'll find some use for you later,” he chuckled and went back to his work. Aria cleared her mind and began limping back to their headquarters without saying another word. Although instead of looking where she was going, she was staring down at the gem in her chest the whole way back in contemplating silence.

Malcontent smiled to himself as he worked on another junction. “Don't worry, Aria. You won't have to worry about feeling pain soon enough.” He laughed a bit louder as the center of the machines circular lights started illuminating. Their counter clockwise pattern began increasing slowly in speed.

END OF EPISODE

Author's Note:

Well that was certainly faster then last time wasn't it? ;) Feedback and Review welcome and don't forget we have a Discord server if you wish to hang out with us while we relax or talk shop over the projects we have going!

-DM


I'd like to thank Drewdini, Discourt, Hannah, Alisia Lanet, zap4th, and Rivet Rose  for all the help and input they gave me during this. I hope everyone reading enjoys this for what it is: a flight of fancy. I value  all feedback and questions so don't be shy!


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