• Published 18th Mar 2017
  • 2,989 Views, 303 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 18 "Distractions"

"Distractions"
By
Dark Malcontent
Co-Author and Proofreads by Ali
UnCranky Editor Brawny Buck
Creative Writing Team (Pony Think Tank) includes Alden, Spencer, Ali, & Floof)

***

Sitting cross legged, Twilight heard a faint crack of her knee as she shifted. A fainter grunt left her throat while her focus on the servo joint occupied her thoughts. A look of determination grew with a lackadaisical gesture of a limp tongue hanging out. Finally the final pins she needed to connect to the interface locked in with a swift chirp. "Whew."

Shifting again, she leaned back to pick up a small soldering iron from the floor, her elbow unmuting the television on the distant wall:

“If Twilight Sparkle is working on something to enable Doctor Rider to walk again, all power to her, and him for wanting to walk. I had forgotten about his surfing championships, and he appears to keep himself in very good condition for being crippled like he is.

“But that is a very small plus against the very big minus of her and that other one, I forget her name, who started this whole magic meta mess in the first place!”

“The other one does have a name, Mister Salt. Sunset Shimmer, if I recall right."

She tilted her head as the main door to the workshop slid open, spying the black boots of Sunset Shimmer walking in.

"Twilight?" she heard her call out, though her tone lacked the usual confidence she had grown accustomed to. Leaning out from under the armor, she adjusted herself to be seen.

"Over here, Sunset." She called back, the soldering iron still in her hand. "Just putting a few adjustments to--" she stopped mid sentence as she saw Sunset's tears. "Are you alright?!" she scrambled to stand, knees cracking a bit more as she softly cursed to herself.

Standing upright, she ran to her friends side, only to be waved off by her just as quick.

"I'm fine. I'm ok." She heard Sunset answer, the few remaining contacts from her old life sitting down on a loveseat. She remained silent as she stared down for a long minute.

"Funny, you don't look fine." Twilight sat next to her, a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Now why don't you tell me what's really bothering you?"

Sunset sighed heavily and ran her gloved hands through her hair in frustration. "I'm worn out, is all. Too much to do and not enough time."

"I guess I don't understand exactly, can you be more specific?" Twilight tilted her head slightly in confusion.

"Everything. Nothing." Sunset answered quickly, shrugging her shoulders. "I've been doing this for I can't remember how long now." She leaned back on the love seat, crossing her arms across her chest. "I don't...I don’t think its making any difference."

Twilight nodded slowly, the television droning on in the background. Picking up a small remote, she muted it, the two people arguing silently now. "I think you might be trying to move mountains alone." Twilight set a wrench aside that was pressing into her back.

"One of the things Princess Celestia tried to teach me was being a princess meant being responsible." Sunset stared blankly at the wall in front of them. Taking her glasses off, she cleaned them with a tissue she plucked from a box sitting next to them. "I was too young and arrogant then to really pay attention to her lessons. I thought I knew better." Tossing the tissue aside with a sigh, she positioned them back on her face. "But look at the mess I've made."

"That nights a blur for everyone. What you may or may not have done can’t be changed." Twilight began, hesitation creeping in as she continued. “What's most important is that you've been trying to fix things the best you can. That sounds pretty responsible to me." A warm smile met Sunsets gaze.

"Thanks, Twilight." Sunset tilted her head slightly. "I know you're trying to cheer me up but."

"Princess Celestia once told me that 'success is not measured by where you are in life’." Twilight put a hand on her shoulder. "‘But what obstacles you have overcome.’ You've overcome a great deal of obstacles on your own." She smiled as she stood up, turning to return the wrench to the tool chest. In the same motion she flipped a switch on a keyboard casually.

"The strange part is the city seems to be taking a turn for the worse. A pair of folks I tried to help turned nasty on me on the way here. I would never have had them turn on me back when I first started." She blew her hair out of her eyeliner towards the muted television. "I swear half the reason the city is changing is due to that Bucker."

Twilight cringed as she heard the term.

"Oh, sorry, isn't that his name? I don’t get to watch a lot. Crime and all." Sunset smirked and shrugged.

"Buck." Twilight corrected. "I won’t disagree, as fair and balanced as he claims to be. There’s a lot of anti meta sentiment lately. Most of it has to be because of the new super bill."

Twilight turned around to face her friend, a look of worry on her face.

"You look like you've got more on your mind than you're letting on." Sunset quirked an eyebrow. "Wanna reverse roles and tell me what the problem is?”

Twilight sighed with a nod. "Well...I was delivered a note, it's brief, and not very specific but..." Twilight bit her lower lip, took a breath and sighed. "I think it might be a way for us to get home. Back to Equestria since the portal was destroyed on that night."

Sunset stared at Twilight in shock and confusion starting to twist her face. "Twilight...I'm already home. I’ve called this world home now for a while. Sure I'd love to go back to Equestria and see what's changed since I left it. But I've spent so much time here. Even you've spent a good time here, not nearly as much time as you had in Equestria but-" Sunset took her own breath to collect her thoughts which tried to run away with her. "Are you sure you'd want to pursue it? What if it's a lie? Or worse, a trap?"

"I don't know, but I've been worried about my friends and Princess Celestia back home. I don't know how they're doing since they wouldn't have anyone to wield the Element of Magic." Silence draped over the room for a few long moments. "Will you come with me?"

Sunset remained silent, eyeing Twilight before looking down to her fidgeting hands. "...Alright, but we're telling our friends. You guys have made it clear we're a team, and team members communicate."

***

Dear Sunset and Twilight
I’ll keep this brief. I know you’re both foreign to this world. If you wish to return to the world you left, then allow me the pleasure of a meeting in No Man’s Land. You’ll know when to meet me there.

Malcontent

Twilight lowered the letter and looked up. Everyone looked like they wanted to say something, but no one was speaking up. Even Spike was at a loss for words, a little buffering icon visible as he thought.

Rainbow finally broke the silence. “You know this is a trap, right?”

Applejack sighed. “I was tryin’ to find a better way to word it, but aah agree. This has trap written all over it.”

“You’re not actually thinking of going, darling, are you?”

“We should all go and drop a beatdown on that manipulative-” Fluttershy clamped her hand over her mouth, then lowered her head and transitioned to pinching the bridge of her nose. “Andrea, that’s not helpful.”

“Hold on, Fluttershy.” Sunset looked like she had an idea. “Andrea might be onto something. Spike, can you run any tactics simulations?”

“Sure.” Spike pulled a map of No Man’s Land and began making little chalk diagrams. “Does the letter specify where to meet them?”

“There’s still the issue of all that Raw Magic to deal with,” Rainbow reminded them. “Spike, do you have anyth-”

“Uh,” Pinkie’s interruption made everyone jump slightly as she peeked into the conversation with a burst of super speed. She motioned toward Twilight. “Can we stop with planning an ambush for two seconds and check on Twilight?”

Rarity shot a glare at Sunset and Spike, then turned to glare at Rainbow before remembering she couldn’t see it. She turned to Twilight. “Sorry about that, darling. We should hear your thoughts about it first.”

Twilight took a deep breath before speaking. “It’s alright. Trust me, I had almost the same thought process when I first read it. Sunset and I already discussed it earlier, and I am planning on going. The issue being, of course, how obvious it is that it’s a trap.”

“Somethin’ else is botherin’ me about it, sugarcube.” Applejack crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “What does this Malcontent mean by ‘You’ll know when to meet me there’?”

“That was bothering me too,” Rainbow chimed in. “I mean, every time I hear that in any story it’s usually an indication that something big is about to go down, and that would be what the cue is. Given everything that’s been going on lately, how will we know what the cue is compared to any other attack of the day?”

A thundering rumble sounded from outside. Though muffled by the layers of insulation the building had, it still shook several pictures on the wall.

"What the buck?" Spike popped up on a nearby screen, his wide eyed dragon form turning hollow as news feeds and information filled him up. Searching over data streams, several monitors sprung to life with different news reporters, each talking over the other.

"Language!" Twilight quickly reminded him, a rap to the closest monitor shaking the bracket that held it. "Wait what did happen Spike?"

"Hard to tell. Multiple explosions reported." Spike ran back and forth across the screens as data gathered. "Several reports of a gas main rupture. At least 10 different epicenters of explosions." The avatar kept shifting to different sections of the monitors as he spoke. "It’s coming in across the police bands too quickly to verify all claims."

“Oh dear.” Fluttershy exclaimed, her eyes shifting as Andrea piped in. “Better them than us.”

“That's really getting creepy.” Dash said, tilting her head towards Fluttershy. “You know your entire body posture changes when she takes over? Totally creepy.”

"Hey, I thought you two had to tag out to talk?" Pinkie rubbed her chin curiously.

“I wonder if this has anything to do with Malcontent’s note?” Twilight turned her head towards Sunset. Before she could answer the televisions screens behind them turned to static. A half second later the image of Mistress Mayhem’s disturbing grin and dilated eyes filled them all.

“Hello, Equestrian City.” Mistress Mayhem’s frightening calm demeanor began. “Don’t adjust your sets!” she began to laugh maniacally, the camera view pulled back sloppily.

The room filled with a gasp as the scene at the newsroom became apparent: several staff appeared to be in various states of dismemberment or death. Laying across desks, cameras, or sprawled on the floor, no movement came from any of them. The only thing moving was the tendrils of Mistress Mayhem as she sent two of them to adjust the camera back to her. “Now that I have your full and undivided attention, I have two important messages!” a set of her tentacles picked up a paintbrush and dangled it in front of the camera, then towards the weather map behind her.

The bristles flicked about in a flurry of motion, the final result a single word on the map painted in blood read: NOW

Tossing the paintbrush aside, the shot of the word stayed in frame as Mayhem resumed her broadcast. “Sponsor’s wishes aside, my lovely city, I’m here to let you know that wake up call you just got is just the start!”

“I’d say that’s a yes.” Sunset finally broke the stunned silence, fastening her glasses to her head and sliding them into position. “Seems Malcontent didn’t want any confusion on the signal.”

“That means he’s behind our city’s first super villain sized problem as well.” Rarity narrowed her eyes.

“We need to get down there and stop her. Where is that, Spike?” Applejack asked, cracking her knuckles as a look of determination filled her eyes.

“Tracing signals, there’s a lot of news rooms in town active at this hour.” Spike said, a map of the city behind him as his avatar sported a pair of binoculars.

"No doubt the authorities and anyone else with half a brain will ask," she continued, the stream flickering a few more times. "What could be worth all this mess and fuss?" Mayhem gave a toothy grin as she tilted her head back and a tendril tapped her chin in contemplation. A series of snaps erupted from off camera and several tendrils brought a hostage that was still alive into view. Dangling by her neck, the poor employee still had her headset on, but most of her clothing was bloodstained. "What sort of maniac would go to these lengths for something?" she continued, the subtle sound of rope constricting as the girl flailed helpless, her hands grabbing at her neck in a futile attempt for air. "I'll tell you who!" the snap of the girls neck sounded, limbs going stiff and then sickeningly limp. "Someone who loves a little Mayhem!"

The sound of the body dropping made several of the girls watching wince once more. Twilight was busy in the background, the sliding and interlocking metal of her mark 3 suit softly sounding behind the girls. Sunset was the only other one not frozen for the moment as she returned with a box labeled "borrowed" and began rummaging through it.

"Now I know I'm not the only ones out there who want to bring the city down a few pegs." Mayhem continued, her rant becoming more coherent. "I've already detonated the first round of explosive party favors. The moment I did that another timer started." A green led font popped up on the screen under her. "Thank you Babsy!" she smiled wider. "The moment this timer hits zero, a much larger explosive will go off! What kind?! Perhaps you've been keeping up with the latest in robberies?" the screen flickered and a schematic of the stolen neutron bomb filled the space. "This sexy little number has been modified and will atomize most everything in the city and leave anyone alive with a permanent radioactive tan!"

Spike watched and looked to Twilight whose right eye began to twitch. “Twilight?” when she didn’t respond, he quickly closed her helmet. Twilight blinked and shook her head a bit. “Twilight, are you okay?”

“Huh? Yeah. What just happened? I felt like my head was elsewhere.”

“Dunno but glad you’re back.” Spike began to display some research data in front of her. “Here’s what I’ve been able to find out on what she has. Her’s doesn’t seem to be standard.”

“Thanks Spike. You’re still my number one assistant.” Spike blushed and turned himself into a sheep on her screen before vanishing to jump back to one of the main screens in the room, back to his default dragon form. Twilight took a breath and looked at the TV through her visor screen and her friends. “Based on what I see,” Twilight spoke aloud through the speaker system, resulting in her voice to be modulated. This broke her friend’s concentrations on the TV set to look at her. “She may be insane but she isn’t lying.” Her armor sealed around her with her boots making a heavy, dull ‘thud’ sound. Her faceplate with visor retracted, allowing her normal voice to now come out. “If those are real, that thing can render this entire area uninhabitable and kill everyone in the process. The immediate deaths would be instant but the later ones would be slow and painful.”

“Then you girls have to get there now.” Rarity slammed her empty glass down as a semi sober look washed over her face. She turned to one of the screens. “Spike, get ahold of ECPD and tell them where that signal is coming from.”

Spike nodded and gave a salute. “Right away!”

Rarity turned to look Twilight and then Sunset. “Twilight and Sunset--”

“Now hold your horses.” Applejack waved her hand in front of her fashion minded friend, cutting in.

Twilight and Sunset both raised an eyebrow at Applejack’s interruption. Sunset moved to speak, only to wince in pain for a moment, one eye slamming shut as a hand lifted to both cover it and hold her head. Fluttershy also winced and slunk back. “Don’t worry. I got this. Trust me.” Andrea said in Fluttershy’s mind before taking over. The pain stopped and she took a seat, leaned back with a smirk and enjoyed the show that was just beginning. What just happened? My head isn’t hurting now, Fluttershy thought. Only to get no answer from Andrea, or not yet.

“We can’t just go charging in like a bull in a china shop.” Applejack continued. Sunset tried to speak and move but as she did, another sharp pain struck her head and returned her to her previous position.

Rainbow Dash before now had lowered her head to try and get the ringing to stop in her ears. Catching the vocal tones of an argument about to break out, she lifted her head and hissed with a recoil back, her hands covering her ears now as it got worse and now sounded more like nails on a chalkboard than ringing. “Girls…” she tried to call out but it instead came in a whisper.

Pinkie gripped a fist tightly as it felt as if birds were pecking at her head. To be rid of this, as it happened on occasion when they would try to get any food she had stored in her hair out, she sped her body up. This caused her to flicker and become hard to see.

Twilight’s eye began to twitch as the sharp pain struck her head like a pulsing heartbeat. “Twilight? Can you hear me?” Spike questioned when her breathing became a little quicker at times.

Twilight stiffly managed a silent nod, a twitchy grin tugging at the corners of her lips like someone trying to keep it together.

Spike watched concerned and was about to speak when… “Spike… Twilight...something ain’t right,” Dash whispered, wincing and gripped her head tighter, starting to pant a bit in pain.

Spike turned his attention over and moved to another screen closer to Dash. “What?”

“Sound...new sound.” She gritted her teeth, curling some into a ball then forcing herself to stand straight only to fall back on the sofa cushions. “All around. Can’t focus.” she got out and heavily exhaled with another hiss of pain in her ears and head.

Spike frowned and leaped back, changing to having a janitor-like suit with a proton pack on his back, a screen in hand with multiple colored lines waving from all the sounds. He frowned and tapped one line and shook his head, tapping an ‘x’ by it. Spike repeated this with a second, third and fourth line of audio waves until his eyes widened on the last one. “Say...Dash is right, Twilight.” He turned to see his surrogate mother take a stiff step forwards, fists clenched and one lifting before rearing back, eyes on Sunset. “Twilight!” he shouted at her as Andrea laughed from her chair at the unfolding scene.

“Me of all people?” Applejack clenched her fists at her sides and took a step towards Rarity. “What’s that supposed to mean?!”

Spike quickly popped up on a screen between Rarity and Applejack, looking to one then the other. “Girls…” he began calmly and quickly. Meanwhile Dash reached over to try and find her stick but a new sharp wave struck and she fell over on the sofa, her hand hitting the arm and knocking the cane down to the floor with a clatter. Quickly she covered her ear again with a weak whine of pain.

Pinkie gasped and stopped her vibrating. Upon doing so resulted in her wincing in pain and feeling a twitch in the back of her head. Quickly she returned to vibrating as she had been, making the sensation and pain end.

“It means that while you wait and don’t get going, someone else’s sister might die!” Rarity shouted, slamming her fist on the table.

Twilight winced and turned her focus onto the arguing pair. Her reared back fist turned to face them and her fingers uncurled. Her palm began to start gaining illumination of a glowing magical blast.

“Twilight! No!” he jumped to her HUD and quickly closed up her helmet in full, disrupting the charging attack. “Speak to me!” he desperately requested. Twilight didn’t answer but did stumble back, holding her head.

“Rarity what--” Applejack stared down, trying to determine the source.

“You know very well what!” Rarity threw a brandy snifter at her blonde friend. Missing its mark, it sailed into a corner and rolled to a stop at Matterhonr’s boots. “I hope your sister dies just before you do!” Rarity shouted as she reached out and now threw a vase, missing Applejack again as a crazed look became evident over her face.

As it shattered, Dash flinched and started to curl up as best she could. Sunset also winced and stumbled back against a wall. “Girls...please…” she painfully groaned quietly.

“Girls I think we--” Spike began again, trying to interrupt them.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you but you need to cool it before I-” Applejack scolded back, her fists now level for a fight.

Spike quickly gave up on plan A and returned to Twilight’s HUD. He summoned for a panel of dials and began to turn them, looking towards Twilight. “Come on Twilight, snap out of it.” He quietly said to himself as he worked and said her name at each change in frequency.

“You haven’t got the apples to hit me you twenty-gallon-hat-wearing-cow-poke! How did you pay your farm hands before I bailed you out? Did they line up outside your bedroom?” Rarity bit back verbally with a cruel smile complimenting her dilated pupils.

“You fashion focused floozy! I aim to shut that mouth of yours if you keep- -!” Applejack’s eyes matched Rarity’s. Dash tried to stand and hit the sofa arm again for attention got her nothing, except a throbbing palm from the painful smack on the upholstery. Dash also staggered back onto the sofa, almost sliding off in her impared state.

“Or maybe you went and worked for Cherry Jubilee?” Rarity strongly questioned.

Spike worked faster, sweat beads sliding down his scales as he tried more frequencies with little change in results, with a couple ending in Twilight giving a yelp of pain.

Applejack swung without further words, narrowly missing Rarity with a deadly haymaker that hit the monitor with the newscast on it. Sparks flew, the monitor shattered into pieces as she tried to hit Rarity with a left hook now.

“Ugh...Spike? Yes, yes I hear you. What happened?” Twilight finally groaned and hissed in pain.”

“I’m so glad you’re alright! There was a weird sound Dash pointed out. I isolated it and managed to block it using a different frequency.” Spike explained and looked out from another screen and jumped back in. “Now to help the others like I did you.” Swiftly he went to work, opening another floating panel, pressing buttons and turning a couple dials. Soon he winced with a small cry and a red ‘x’ with an ‘error’ flashing over one eye. “Why couldn’t I-?” he softly pondered.

Twilight shook her fog off and saw this with Spike. “Don’t worry, I’ll tell you when and you can do it. Trust me.”

Spike nodded and had his claws at the ready. “Just give the word.”

“STOP!” Twilight shouted with her augmented voice upon charging in between Applejack and Rarity, throwing her hands out towards both of them. “Spike! Send the same counter frequency through this room and seal it from getting back in here!”

Soon he sighed with relief as an invisible wave of sound swept through the room. Each girl reacted differently as it counteracted the effects of the television signal.

The pressure in the room released and shakily Dash sat upright on the sofa. “Owww…” she moaned. Sunset groaned, opening her eyes and carefully took in what was happening around her.

At that moment, Pinkie appeared now beside Dash. “You okay Dashie?”

“Ugh, yeah, I think so.” She answered, shaking off the remaining crummy feeling from her head.

The last two to come around was Applejack and Rarity, a fist halting in a punch from Applejack. Both blinked with confusion twisting their faces upon seeing Rarity with her fists up and Applejack’s stopped mid-air fist that was aimed at Rarity. “Uh, what just happened?” Applejack questioned.

“I...I don’t have a clue darling.”

Andrea laughed again from the chair where she had crossed her legs and draped an arm over the back. “Oh I’m sorry but that was amusing. None of you realized what was happening.” She stifled another laugh into a snorted snicker with a hand coming to rest on her chest.

“Thanks Spike.” Dash said and felt around over the arm of the sofa.

“Looking for this?” Pinkie asked, picking up and holding out Dash’s cane.

Tapping then gripping the handle, Dash nodded. “Yeah, thanks Pinkie.” She set it beside her leg to keep it closer. “So glad that’s done. All I was able to see between that screeching pain were motion waves that made no sense.” Dash explained with a rub of the back of her head.

"Felt like someone was drilling into my head." Sunset remarked, resuming her belt loading from the bag. "Madness spell?" she asked Twilight.

“At least something similar. Spike said it was a sound wave and by what Dash just said and what we witnessed, it can either disable us or bring us to attack each other on a personal level.” Twilight answered, her helmet opening so her normal voice came through.

"All I could do was vibrate myself fast enough to evade it." Pinkie blew a tuft of hair out of her eyes. "But that meant I couldn't talk or stop you guys." She shrugged.

"I was ready to knock your block off." Applejack stared into Rarity's eyes, letting her go and straightening her own crumpled outfit.

"I was too." Rarity commented, walking to her desk and sitting down. "What exactly was that?"

Andrea stood and stretched. “Clearly it was some sort of maniac frequency. Don’t either of you ever listen?” she said as she arched her back.

"She's right." Spike pulled a shot of the news program, Mayhem was going on about something and killing another reporter. "Sound is countered this time." He said, a spectrometer pulling up the sound waves from the broadcast. "These are designed to activate the more savage and angry centers of the brain." He continued, appearing with a pair of earmuffs on. "The room shields you all from it and I don’t really have a brain to effect as I'm not real." He shrugged.

Twilight gave somber look at her AI but then continued. "I think we can rig something up with our earpieces to broadcast a counter wave around us." She picked up one and fiddled with it. "Spike let's get these rigged up. Everyone else be sure you have all you need.”

"You certainly said a few nasty things." Applejack said, walking up behind Rarity as she looked out the window. She put a hand on her shoulder.

"Applejack let's not talk about this right now. We have a city to worry about." Rarity said distantly, still staring out the window.

“Ok we don’t have time to get hung up on whose in charge or whose angry at whom.” Sunset stood up, coming between them as she attached a few more devices onto her belt. “Rarity, you stay here and coordinate with Spike. Twilight and I will head to No Man’s Land, the rest of you need to head to wherever Spike finds--”

“3rd and McCarthy, Studio D.” Spike interjected.

“The rest of you need to head to 3rd and McCarthy and stop Mayhem.” Sunset finished, the room bursting with motion instantly. The center table opening up to reveal matching earpieces.

“These can keep us in contact and shield us all. Sunset and I have one already, these ones are more secure and compact then civilian models.” Twilight pointed out as each of the girls picked one up and walked to the exit. “Spike, keep an eye on the police band for other issues.”

“You got it, Twilight.” Spike saluted her on a screen near Rarity, the doors closing behind them.

***

Lyra pushed open the rooftop access door, barely disturbing the gravel of the rooftop as she crouched down. Sneaking across the over exposed perch, the only sound she made was that of the arrows in her quiver giving a small rattle. Knelt low on the edge of the roof, the archer pulled a set of slim binoculars from a side pouch and peered through them, focusing on the street level below.

“Rooftop surveillance commencing.” Lyra whispered, a throat mic catching her words as her binoculars focused further down. “City Hall seems secure, no movement, squad car just patrolled by.”

“Wouldn’t be parked on a street where it could be towed.” Sweetie Drops radioed back, her voice hitting Lyra’s earpiece.

“Wouldn’t risk it being towed.” She continued to scan, moving her head ever so slightly right to the entrance to a parking garage. “Parking garage seems likely. No need to worry about being towed there.”

“You’re forgetting the payload, rookie.” Sweetie replied. “Device is giving off high levels of radiation. Our sweeps found other, so that means one thing.”

“Shielded. Lead.” Lyra concluded. “Lead’s heavy. Too heavy for a regular vehicle.Would seem out of place to bring a dump truck to park in City Hall’s garage.” Lyra scanned left, near the Reading Tree Library. “Wait."

“Report.” Sweetie Drops immediately asked.

“Ma’am what time is this sector’s garbage pick up?” Lyra asked, focusing her vision on an idling garbage truck backed up to the Library.

“Two days from now. During the day.” Director Drops radioed back. “Why?”

“Well either the civil services in the section love their jobs a little too much,” Lyra squinted and saw a group of overall dressed women near the truck. “Or I think I know where that lead lined cargo transport is.” She finished, putting away her spy glasses as she stood up. “I’m pretty sure I can--”

A series of explosions rocked the street several blocks from her, followed by a closer one that shook the building she was standing on. Lyra tried to focus past the heat waves and the distortion as they washed by her, only to have another rumble knock her over the edge.

A split second of panic vanished as Lyra fell towards the street below, her training kicking in as she quickly aimed her right hand upwards. A compartment on her forearm opened up a small grappling hook fired swiftly, catching a passing ledge.

A grunt expelled from her chest as the rope tightened and stopped her from certain doom, her body swaying with kinetic value still.

“Report, Rookie.” The earpiece blasted at her. “You didn’t fall did you?”

“What? No, no of course--” she grunted as she hit the brick wall. “Not ma’am.” Lyra peered off towards the explosion, several of which had already spawned a fire. “But I think we have another more immediate problem.”

“I’m getting reports of explosions across the city grid.” Drops radioed to her.

“Yeah I’ll go ahead and confirm that.” Lyra grunted as she hit the wall again, this time able to gain purchase with her boots as she climbed up to the ledge she had hooked to. “I’m near one now, I’m hearing weapons fire in all directions, and multiple fires underground and structural. Please advise.”

“Get to the roof again and I’ll have a move for you to make.” Sweetie radioed back, holding her ear in a moment of pain. “Knocked our main power offline for a minute so the computers need a second or two.”

Lyra paused, looking around for an apparent camera or drone, she found none visible, nonetheless she gave a small sigh in defeat. “Yes ma’am.”

***

"She certainly didn't leave any room for doubt." Aria said, the slightest eyebrow raised interrupting her bored expression. The wind fluttering her waistcoat, she levitated down, passing broken walls and lockers of the devastated high school.

"She's served her purpose." Mal answered back, typing away at a cobbled together keyboard. The series of code flashing across monitors just as Aria landed behind him. "I don't keep things around that don't have a purpose." He pressed his glasses up with a smile, turning his gaze back to the last siren.

"No doubt Twilight and Sunset are on their way here. I suppose we had better get ready for them." A hint of anticipation entered his tone while he tightened his leather gloves. "You'll need a more combined approach this time."

"What are you talking about?" Aria barely had time to ask before she doubled over in pain. The tendrils on her embedded gem sunk deeper into her sternum without warning. She glanced to Mal, his figure standing over her as he cast some sort of spell. A volatile mixture of purple and green magic swirled in his hand, firing into her gem finally as he violated her on a metaphysical level.

Burning coupled with the feeling of her chest in a pair of vice grips shot through Aria. Falling to her knees, she thrust her chest out and tendrils of magic, two distinct ones, shot free and manifested on either side of her. The initial pain gone, she opened her eyes to see translucent forms compiling in the magic.

"Ahh. I see you finally came to your senses."

"Woohoo! Hands and feet again!"

"Oh great." Aria lamented, standing up as she powered through the pain. Trying to cement herself, she barely pulled off a defiant stare to the full astral manifestations of her sisters, Adagio and Sonata. "What did you do that for?!" Aria growled as she floated towards him, arms crossed in discontent. "I handled them both fine without--"

Malcontent smiled at her anger, silencing her with a finger outward as if he were teaching a dog obedience.

"Yes, sister. Don't anger your owner." Adagio laughed. "Lest he find a new pet." She floated freely towards Malcontent. "Perhaps one that could not only show him a very good time...but one who appreciates...such a large and powerful...brain."

Malcontents brief smile from Adagios veiled attempt at flattery vanished just as quickly. A fling of his wrist and the eldest sister shattered into dozens of spiritual fragments and reformed next to Sonata. "My contracts are iron clad, remind your sisters, Aria." He turned back to her. "As far as what you need this time, I want no possible mistakes. So you and your previously corporeal siblings will be tasked with knocking Twilight down." He continued. "But no harm is to come to her. I need them both alive."

"You're the boss." Sonata smiled and floated up, followed by Adagio.

"For now anyway." Adagio added.

"Shut up you two." Aria shot up between them, staring down Adagio. An energy whip wrapped around her sister and pulled the eldest close. "And follow my lead." She grinned down at the captive siren.

***

"Dispatch, Captain Nightwatch arriving with team to the corner of 3rd and Mcarthy." Night radioed, a squawk coming from the mic in his hand. Still seated in the driver’s seat of his squad car, he was flanked by several more vehicles full of armed police officers.

“Copy.” A slightly garbled voice responded through the radio. “Proceed as fit, Captain. Keep casualties to a minimum.”

“Copy that, over and out.” Captain Nightwatch unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of his car, turning to the rest of his squad taking position to defend. Several cocking guns and commands to freeze filled the air while Night turned to face the station entrance. A constant ringing in his ear distracted for but a moment as he drew his own sidearm to bear.

A gathering mob armed with all manner of weapons from small arms and shotguns to crude sticks and pipes had taken to gather around the entrance. The chanting and the angry yelling dying off as they turned their gaze to the police, none seemed too intimidated.

Night squinted at the mob, not new to riots, this one felt different. "Alright people, disperse!" He shouted through a bullhorn. "Return to your homes and let us do our job. We don't need anything…" he trailed off as the ringing in his ears made him grab the side of his temple. Biting through the pain he brought the mic to his mouth again. "Crazy to happen."

As he finished, he saw the front doors to the broadcast studio burst open, a pack of assault weapon wielding thugs opening fire into the air.

That was all the mob needed to ignite, as Night watched the mob and the thugs charge the parameter his squad had set up.

Nightwatch gave the order to open fire.

***
End of episode

Author's Note:

Well that certainly took longer then we thought! Between all the projects it's becoming hard to keep the momentum on any ONE universe!

But we got this done and now, we see the first finish line in sight.

Stick around and see where it all ends...and what else begins!

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