• Published 5th Jul 2012
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Leather-Winged Oddity - Deyeaz



More often than not, we don't always become what we want when we go to Equestria.

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XXI - A Hop, Skip, And A Jump!... Through Time!

~Leather-Winged Oddity~

XXI - A Hop, Skip, And A Jump!... Through Time!

Most people think time is like a river, that flows swift and sure in one direction. Let them think that all they want. They haven’t seen the face of time like I have. I’ve seen it... and let me tell you that... they are wrong.

You may wonder why I say this about Time, but believe me when I say that I have good reason: stick around and you’ll find out why.

Time is an ocean in a storm, much like the maelstrom Zeus cursed Odysseus with after the latter’s crew devoured a week’s worth of the cattle of the sun god, Helios. And why the fuck did Odysseus crew eat all those cattle when they had perfectly good food on their ship?

...

I’m goin’ off on a tangent, aren’t I?

I think it’s these noxious fumes of the underground sewer system getting to me. This just goes to show you that I hate sewers, not just because of the stench, but because of the disgusting atmosphere and terrible waste that is proof that people - or ponies, in this case - are inept at being clean and hygienic.

...But then again, it’s the sewers. I shouldn’t even expect a place like this to smell like daisies and lollipops.

...Er, moving on.

Against all other wills but my own, me, Kaileena, Fancypants, Fleur De Lis, Osiris, and Mercutio trek through the underground water channel for the Atlamillia stones. And in the early morning, no less. At least... I think it’s morning.

Oh! Why are Osiris and Mercutio with us, you ask?

Pariah thought that we would need assistance for our ‘Prissy-ponies, two-legged-cat-thing, Bat-winged-dodo-legged-freak-of-nature’ group.

...

I don’t really regret clocking Pariah in the face with my wooden arm for saying that. Sure, he got mad as hell and tried to beat me to death with his created prosthetic limbs, but eh, what was to be expected? He had it coming.

Regardless. The channel is an unrelenting series of twists and turns, making this supposed-to-be simple mission much more complex than I had suspected. we constantly have to cast mnemonic glances wherever we go, in case we don’t get lost.

“How much farther?” whines Fleur. “My hooves are killing me!”

“We’ve been walking for five minutes,” deadpans Mercutio. He goes back to scanning the map of the channel fervently for our location. Osiris, with bow drawn, hovers behind him at a slow pace to keep with our own. I grip Ellipsis as tightly as my fingers could allow, while Kaileena curls her fingers around her giant khopesh sword.

“Oh.” Fleur remains silent after that. We continue to travel through this underground labyrinth, with the Diamond Dog’s navigation skills (or lack thereof) guiding us through the tunnels. Other than the occasional rat or snake, there are no other signs of animate life.

...Time to kill... well, time.

“Say, Osiris, Mercutio,” I begin, “why are th’ two o’ ya paired up with that Pariah guy, anyways?

A very pregnant pause spreads through the atmosphere like artificial warmth through an electric blanket. Osiris and Mercutio look around awkwardly, probably trying to find the words to answer the question I asked of them.

“Psst!” Kaileena mouths to me. “I think you may have touched a nerve.”

Once I get the gist of what she was mouthing at me, I nod and return with an “I think so, too.”

“Well...” Osiris finally says, his very deep black voice sending bizarre shivers down my spine; Guy has a voice that’s more baritone and shiver-creating than Samuel L. Jackson’s. “It’s a long story. Are you sure you’re up for it, snowflakes?”

“We’ve all got time before we reach the Atlamillia,” Fancypants says with his trademark smile before adjusting his monocle with his magic. “It wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance to inform us of who you two are, correct?”

The Diamond Dog and griffin look at each other one last time before the latter cleared his throat. “I’ll go first, I guess,” Osiris begins. “It probably all started when I was just a child, maybe eight or nine. My parents and I were teaching me how to hunt on my birthday. We had just caught this really nice elk for our supper when an array of paws shot out from the ground and pulled us all under. Before long, we became enslaved by Diamond Dogs.”

Mercutio’s ears bent down in shame (at least, I think so) as Osiris proceeded with his story. “For years, we had been working in the mines of the Dogs, gathering gems for the dragon that they worked for so that they wouldn’t be eaten... and so that we wouldn’t be eaten either. The working conditions were terrible: there was no fresh air, no sunlight, nothing. We had food and drink that were edible, but just barely.

“My mother died down there from dehydration and this disease known as rustlung.”

“Rustlung?” I inquire, the reference to the Gears of War game catching my eye. In case none of you know already, rustlung is a condition brought on by the inhalation of Imulsion vapour and is the first stage of Lambency in humans. According to the game and the Gears of War Wikipedia page, it was first documented 100 years ago at New Hope but became widespread among the human population of Sera a few months after the initial detonation of the Lightmass Bomb, which vaporized much of the liquid Imulsion beneath the planet's surface.

The disease infected many Gears (Including Echo-Nine) and Stranded alike. The disease likely got its name from the liquid that is coughed up or vomited, the liquid retaining a shade of brown the color of rust. Its symptoms include brown and red phlegm, vomiting, having trouble breathing, and coughing. The COG administration covered up the effects of rustlung out of fear of the real health risks becoming known. During the Lambent Pandemic, rustlung began to spread rapidly in Mercy and other locations near Imulsion, and a new form of Lambent human emerged - the first known cases of Lambency in humans since the early Pendulum Wars.

...I play way too many video games. But I digress.

“Yes,” Mercutio explains in his rather gravelly voice. The more he talks, the more I discover he speaks broken Equestrian. “Very horrible disease. Unless you are Diamond Dog, or you are used to harsh environments of mines, then you stand no chance.”

“Correct,” Osiris continues; “she died with a week or two after she was diagnosed with it by one of the former pony doctors there. My dad followed her shortly after, about a month later. We had raked in an insufficient amount of gems for the dragon they worked for, so the Alpha had to choose which of us to toss to the dragon as a way to save their hides. He chose my father, and the Alpha, who knew I was the son of the one he chose to sacrifice to that scaly beast, made me watch my own dad get eaten.”

Osiris stops his flying and commences walking with us, a mix between a melancholic and an enraged expression smearing his fact. But with a smile, be it genuine or forced, he presses on.

“Fortunately, some of the prisoners - griffins, ponies, zebras, and Diamond Dogs alike - started this huge riot against the wardens of the mines. We overpowered them and made our great escape. The first time I saw fresh air, I almost cried. The first time I tasted real, delicious food and water, and not that gross sloppy gruel and hard bread the Dogs tossed us, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

“A few weeks later, me and the escapees dispersed and started travelling around Equestria, getting acquainted with the towns and cities that dotted it. I’ve been to Stalliongrad, Bitsburg, Whinnysota, Denfur; even went down into the deserts below the rainforest on the map and saw Hoofghanistan and Saddle Arabia. I also occasionally ran into a few of the ex-prisoners on my journey. Eventually, my travels took me to Canterlot, but at a terrible moment: I had no money to buy food, nor any means to protect myself.” Osiris’s expression hardens again. “And none of those posh and snobby ponies above us bothered to even lift a hoof to help me, for fear of dirtying it.” Fleur De Lis and Fancypants simultaneously raise a brow at the words. “I thought I was going to die....

“But that’s where I met True Pariah. He saw me on a winter’s evening one day and decided to hook me up with some work. Being the Puppet Master he is, he made an innumerable amount of Bits for his hard work. He gave me food, a place to sleep, and other stuff. I’m forever in his debt for saving my life ever since,” the griffin finishes.

“Goodness,” Fancypants mutters. “That must have been a horrible past to relive with us.”

“Indeed it was...” Osiris looks up, with a bit of a mischievous grin on his beak. “But what’s past is past. It’s time to keep moving on.”

“Alright, then,” Kaileena says. “Mercutio, it’s your turn now, I guess.”

“Okay,” the Diamond Dog says. “I think it started back when I was just teenager, when we were in mines to look for gems to give to dragon. Hours spent mining, from day to night. A few Dogs and prisoners caught Rustlung, but other than that, we met our crite-.. or creti-”

"Criteria?” I suggest.

“Yes, that,” Mercutio says. “We met criteria every month. Except for one day, on birthday where I become actual male, we fail to meet... criteria. Dad, Alpha of pack, tried to sacrifice sister, Maruka.”

“Hold on,” I say, slightly befuddled. “If your name is Mercutio, why is your sister’s name Maruka?”

“I asked Pariah to change name. Used to be ‘Koroz’,” he explains.

“Same for me,” Osiris says. “Mine used to be... Gregor....”

"What was that?" I ask, his name being said so silently, I thought I was going deaf.

"I said, my name used to be Gregor...."

"One more time, laddy?"

"MY NAME WAS GREGOR!" He quickly blurts out, like he's too embarrassed of it.

“Ah.” I nod in comprehension, while I give more mnemonic glances to my surroundings to ensure that we aren't going in circles. “Proceed”.

“When Father said he would sacrifice Maruka, I put my paw down. Said to him that it was wrong, or that we could run away. He wouldn't listen. The Dogs took her away that day.”

I pat Mercutio on the back; I know what it’s like to lose a sibling, after all, but to lose a sibling by the hand of your own parent? That was something that couldn’t even be punishable by death. The parent would forever be the worst ungeziefer: vermin that shouldn’t even be blessed with death.

“After that day, I no sleep; I no eat; I no even work! Later on, Father removed me from pack; said he was too disgusted and disappointed to be father of me. Hopped from place to place, looking for work. But in the end, sadly, it no work out. Always got fired for hurtful or silly reasons; worst one being Diamond Dog.

“Later on, I met Osiris and True Pariah. Pariah give me work, food, and place to live with him in sewers. It flood sometimes, but it’s very nice. I am also in debt to Pariah.”

“That’s awful, lad,” I say in comfort.

“It not too bad. Got over it after a few months of working with Pariah and Osiris.”

“Hang on,” Fleur De Lis interjected. “We know next to nothing about you, Damien.”

I gulp. I wasn’t good at telling stories in general. Cinderella? Watch me fuck that story up. Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Hell, I’ll probably talk like Ice Cube when I’m telling that story. And my life story was definitely not the best thing to speak of.

‘Speaking of Goldilocks and the Three Bears...’

Brain... no.

‘“Daaaamn! Who in the fuck sits in THIS chair: Buddha!? Do the goddamn contestants of “The Biggest Loser” live up in this bitch?!”’

Brain, stop before you hurt yourself.

‘“I mean, shit! This chair’s so huge, I thought it was a nursing home for Oompa-Loompas!”’

That’s it! You’re shutting off now!

What? No! I don't wanna!’

Well, that's just too fucking bad, ain't it?!

...

Ah... sweet mental silence... but why do I feel like my IQ dropped by approximately twenty points?

...Eh. Probably nothing.

“But I dunno where ta start,” I admit. “My life’s been, ta say th' least, rather bad.”

“Start like how they started: at the beginning, at your childhood,” suggests Kaileena.

I try looking for a way out of it: bathroom break? Nah, they’d remember afterwards. I forgot something back at the rendezvous point? No, I brought everything in my backpack, which I’m carrying on my back right now! Er... how about breakfast? No, we already ate breakfast: WHICH WAS MORE GREEN FUCKIN’ SLIME! GAAAAAH!

...

After several moments of curious glaring from everyone, I sigh in defeat, unable to find a tolerable excuse.

Yep, I’m boned.

“Very well,” I say. “It probably started when I was also a kid. I had a family, much like all o’ ya, consistin’ o’ a brother an’ parents. I lived in a far off country to th’ east called Ireland, an’ it was probably th’ most incredible place I’ve ever been. Green pastures, kind people, amazing food. But when me brother was four, an’ I was nine, me father was shot and killed outside a public market while buying food for our dinner.

“Sensin’ Ireland wasn’t a safe place fer me an’ my brother Daniel ta live, me mam decided ta take us to America. She had heard rumors about it bein’ great, so she told us ta pack our bags. So we did as we were told an’ booked it towards th’ nearest airplane.”

“And what, pray tell, is this airplane you speak of?” Fancypants asks.

“An airplane is this giant aircraft made o’ metal. It’s shaped like a bird, an’ it flies at great speeds,” I explain briefly. “Anyways, since Dad died, we couldn’t make any money, and he had no life insurance, thus leavin’ us with not enough ta buy tickets fer th’ airplane ride. So... we hid in compartments where the wheels of the plane retract into the plane. It was so cold... I thought I was gonna die. I never held onto me brother tighter than in that moment.

“But finally, after th’ fourteen hours over a huge ocean and hundreds o’ thousands o’ miles o’ travelling were over, we all tumbled onto the warm American concrete, just happy ta be alive. Instead o’ returning us back ta our home country, they took us ta our Auntie Eliza, who was retired an’ livin’ in Colorado.” I think the ponified form of that state is Coltorado... but I don’t plan on using pony-speak anytime soon: I’ve honed my own grammatical, lexical, and syntactic abilities far too well to speak like other Equestrians. “She was th’ sweetest woman alive, I tell ya. She let us stay at her retirement home fer a while till our mam could find some work.

“Unfortunately, she chose the wrong career.

“Late one night, about a month after we had rustled up enough money ta actually afford an apartment up in Fort Collins, I found out that our mam had been a prostitute ta scrounge up rent an’ our weekly allowance. I felt bad fer her, seein’ her sell herself to countless people while we’re asleep. It was terrible.

“Eventually, it got worse. Much worse.

“Mother started turnin’ to drugs fer comfort. She slowly fell in disrepair, to the point where she couldn’t be helped. Eventually, she started abusin’ us every day, be it beatins’, threats, or other torture. Four years later, when me brother was thirteen, me mam found out about him being... well, gay... and she just... lost it. She started beatin’ him mercilessly, calling him ‘devil lover’ an’ ‘disgustin’ faggot.’ I begged her ta stop, but she wouldn’t listen. She started beatin’ me as well. Fer th’ second time o’ me life, I thought I was gonna die. Our neighbors heard th’ commotion an’ called th’ police. Within days, me an’ Daniel were removed from her custody.”

I sigh, my fury slowly turning from a low simmer to an increasingly hot boil. “And I’ve hated her ever since.

“I got me own apartment in Boulder, near th’ university I was attendin’, while Daniel stayed with our Auntie Eliza. He came over every weekend an’ holiday, though, an’ every time I had never been happy. Hell, he even had a lover o’ his, named George. Sweet guy, really helpful with machines and whatnot. Ya oughta meet him sometime.

“But anyways, the other things oppressin’ me and Daniel besides me mother were th’ people in Colorado. They were... to say the least, awful. I kid ya not. It felt like as I got older and wiser, more and more people started hatin’ us. Some sent us death threats; some poked fun at us fer bein’ from another country; some even started attackin’ us.”

Right as we turn the corner to the right, I pull Ellipsis out of the Abyss, and it appears in my right hand in a flash of light. All but Kaileena gasp or appear surprised. “Forma Versus,” I say, returning to my human form. I live up my hoodie and T-shirt to reveal the... I believe sixty or so scars that desecrated my torso and arms. More gasps are elicited from the others at the grotesque sight. “Three-fifths o’ these’re from me mam, an’ th’ other two-fifths’re from th’ bullies.” I pull my shirt back down, say “Reverti” to return to my Devil Imp form. “In order ta escape from th’ reality o’ life, I indulged meself in games and music, be it creatin’ ‘em, or usin’ ‘em.

“Now, fast forward four more years. I was twenty-two, Daniel was seventeen. I was takin’ a summer collegiate program ta help improve me curricular status at me university, an’ I had made, at most, two friends. All of a sudden, I got in, yet again, another fight that I didn’t want ta be a part o’. But this time, I just... fought back... an’ won!” I chuckled a bit at my luck. “I dunno how, but... I actually did something for meself. Call it luck or hidden potential, I don’t care. It was just ... so invigoratin’. I never felt so alive than in that moment.

“Sadly, someone o’ th’ highest authority, me dean o’ th’ school, took me into her office fer what I’d done. I thought I was gonna be in trouble fer a second there, but she saw me stand up fer meself. She offered me somethin’ I never thought possible - a chance to go to Equestria.

“I accepted without hesitation. I thought o’ no one at all when I accepted th’ offer. So she was true ta her word an’ sent me here, in this form. A few days later, however, I receive news of me brother... commitin’ suicide. It was because someone was bullyin’ until he just... gave up on life. Call it a shot in th’ dark, but I feel like I know who’s responsible fer it all.” I turn around, and grimace. Kaileena has a few tears in her eye, the two white unicorns just look down in sadness, and the griffin and Diamond Dog had a look of sympathy for me on them.

“That’s... that’s so awful,” Kaileena whispers, wiping her eyes.

“Eh. I’m alive, ain’t I?” I say.

“But how could you stay so cheery after all that?” the Bast asks. “I’d have lost it if it were me.”

“Keep moving forward,” I utter briefly.

“What?” They all ask in confusion as we take a left.

“In this film I watched, a boy genius an’ inventor travels ta th’ future with what I found out ta be his future son. Th’ boy from th’ past created a motto whenever his creations failed him: “keep moving forward”. Basically, if you linger on th’ past and what had happened, then how in the hell will you progress to the future? Moreover, how th’ hell can you even enjoy the present yer livin’ in?”

“But what about these bullies of yours?” Osiris asks. “What are you gonna do when you see them?”

Once again, my rage starts to well up again. I exhale to calm my anger. “I’m gonna kill ‘em.”

“What?” Fleur exclaims in shock. “You can’t do that!”

“What’s stoppin' me?” I spit vehemently as I turn around to look her in the eyes. She retracts slightly at my faint anger. “When the world pushes ya around, yer expected ta take it. But when ya push back, ya know what th’ world does? It points back an’ cries, ‘evil.’” I turn around again and strut agitatedly some more down the walkway. “I’m sick and fuckin' tired o’ sittin’ around an' takin' me licks. It's time I do something.”

I stop when I see a very dim light emanating from the tunnel on our right. “Is that what I think it is?” I say in... slight joy?

...Oh fan-bloody-tastic, I'm bipolar.

“Looks like it!” Mercutio says in equal excitement. “C’mon, everyone!” We start sprinting to the antechamber where the Atlamillia could possibly lay. When we finally reach the antechamber, we freeze in shock and awe.

We enter what looks like a giant pumping room. Large pumps the size of duplex homes line the stone walls of the room, which is about half the size of a baseball diamond field. These pumps must also be responsible for the immaculate water feeding Equestrian cities. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the room was this boulder of a rock. The rock was shining iridescently, like it was glass and filled with lava lamp-like rainbows.

“Hoo boy!” Osiris exclaims with a devilish grin. “Boss is gonna be happy to see this!”

“Is that the Atlamillia?” I say incredulously. There’s just no way in hell that a stone to travel through time and space can be that big!

“Yes!” Mercutio concurs. “Come on! Let’s get Atlamillia and leave!”

We make our way down the large stairs towards the floor where the large boulder lay. I go to place my hand on it, but stop when I feel the extreme warmth emanating from the Atlamillia. It’s like there’s a fire in there as well.

“How’re we gonna get this thing up to Pariah?” Kaileena inquires. The thing also looks like it weighs a ton!

“I haven’t the foggiest,” confesses Fancypants. We could lift it up with our magic, yet it would appear to be too big to fit through the channel tunnels.”

I look at the scythe in my hand, then at the Atlamillia boulder, then back at my scythe.

Ideeeaaaa~!

Why not cut it down into smaller chunks?

“I think I know how ta handle this!” I say, raising Ellipsis up high and giving the Atlamillia a swing.

“NO, WAIT, DON’T!”

*CLANK!*

At the force of my impact, the Atlamillia starts glowing the brightest of colors at a level so strong that it nearly blinds us. Before I know it, I feel my body leave the ground and travel at ridiculous speeds. I’m surprised I’m not reduced to mere giblets at the gravitational force I was undergoing. My insides were churning and writhing like they had been replaced by snakes. I opened my eyes and saw this... massive tunnel I was falling at terminal velocity in. Judging by the screams that echo all around me, the others were also sucked in, and against their own will, too.

In order to get a better idea of what I mean when I say “massive tunnel”, imagine the respawn process you go through when you die in Borderlands 2, or when Jak, Daxter, Keira, and Samos fall that Precursor gate in the prologue cutscene in Jak 2.

“Oh shit!” I yell in a panicked voice. Despite how hard I beat my wings, I can’t fight the everlasting current of this vortex I’m in. “Where are we going?!”

‘THERE ARE NO BRAKES ON THIS RAPE TRAIN OF TIME. I REPEAT, THERE ARE NO BRAKES ON THIS RAPE TRAIN OF TIME. EVACUATION IS FUTILE. IT'S TIME TO KISS OUR ASSES GOOD-BYE.’

...Aaaand my brain’s back on again. Now I have something to annoy me while I fall to what could be my death.

“It’s not just a matter of ‘where’, my boy!” Fancypants bellows back. “It’s more a matter of ‘when’!”

“You mean we’re going to the future?!” Fleur asks.

“Or the past!” Osiris corrects. Just as he says that, the end of the tunnel starts to manifest itself as a strange white light. “The time and location are just randomized, so we don’t know what’s gonna happen!”

“Either way, brace yourselves!” Mercutio roars.

“Everybody hold on!” Kaileena screams just as we exit the tunnel.

The second I leave the vortex we entered, I feel my body drained of its vitality like salt in snow, my now-insipid body refusing to do anything as it plummet headfirst towards the ground of some unknown location from leagues up above. The land is black and dirty brown soil, sparse trees, and a few volcanoes dotting the area. Through heavy lids, I look at my companions, and see that they have this... weird blue aura around them, and it appears like meteorites entering the atmosphere. I look closer, and see that they are all rendered unconscious.

At least... that’s what I think they look like. I can’t tell, since I soon go out like a light as well.

Damn... Once again, my idiocy kills us all....

Guys... I'm sorry... I never meant for this to happen....