• Published 6th Jul 2012
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Legacy of the Pegasi - secret89



An ancient pegasi myth has returned. It will take three special pegasi to turn back the storm.

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Ch. 28: Renegades and Ultimatums

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 28: Renegades and Ultimatums

Lightning collided with colossal momentum into Windswept's wing, threatening to throw him from his hooves. But he stood his ground, the impact instead slowly sliding his immobile hooves across the polished cloudstone. He grunted, trying to focus as the electrical discharge threatened to overcome the aural barrier at his wing.

“Focus Windswept!” Typhonis called out over the loud snaps of lightning that projected from his wingtips. Slowly the Archon advanced from the opposite end of the arena where the two sparred.

“Your barrier is failing!”

Windswept gritted his teeth.

For several days now the two had practiced and sparred in what once was the Wonderbolts combat training grounds. It seemed strange to Windswept that they would use such a place; it was filled with statues of Hurricane and other famous Wonderbolts. He thought Typhonis would avoid any reminders of Hurricane's legacy. More surprisingly, the Archon had insisted on it. “Let them watch,” Typhonis had said, gesturing to the statues. “Watch as the genesis of their undoing unfolds where they once did the same!”

The irony was not lost on Windswept. But it mattered little to him. In his short time with the Archon he had gained greater control over his powers. So to had his endurance and precision. But his plan to discover more hadn't gotten off the ground. Combat was all he had practiced with Typhonis. The Archon had the answers, but how was Windswept supposed to get them without actually asking?

Crackling lightning burning at his wing dismissed his thoughts. He pushed harder into his aura, redirecting more of the energy into his wing. Slowly he came to standstill, containing Typhonis' assault.

“Good!” Typhonis called out again. “You've stalled the enemy advance. But you can't simply sit there. Once your enemy has you trapped-”

Windswept surged with his aura, quickly switching from a defensive shield to a siphon. In less than a second he absorbed a fraction of Typhonis' electrical current. New found aural precision saved his wing from electrocution; it now allowed him to immediately switch to his own lightning attack.

Windswept vaulted into the air, still tethered to the Archon's beam. Excess lightning splayed around his wing, obstructing his vision. But he was no longer cornered. Lightning erupted from his wingtips, surging slightly with every flap. His aura strained with him, but with perfect focus, as he simultaneously siphoned and redirected Typhonis' electrical attack back at him.

Windswept swore he saw the Archon falter. It seemed a mixture of surprise, contempt, insult and... pride?

Abruptly the Archon cut off the current.

The sudden lack of power threw Windswept for a loop. With nothing left to siphon and redirect, his aura turned in on itself. His stamina plummeted. He had been able to control the mechanism, but now it was out of control.

Windswept yelped, crashing to the ground. Nausea over took him as his aural construct fizzled out. He promptly vomited, before rolling roughly onto his back.

Typhonis stood above him.

“Well done Windswept. A clever means to escape a superior opponent's attack.” He frowned. “But highly dangerous. Though you were successfully this time, any lapse in concentration and you will leave yourself open to the full brunt of you opponent's power. And it is entirely dependent on your ability to contain and redirect the attack. Had I used only a fraction of my full power I could have burned you from the inside out.”

Windwept coughed. Slowly he pushed himself up. “So what you're saying is know my enemy before using that again.”

Typhonis paused. “Yes. But I do not recommend using that tactic again. The risk is too high and you are of no use to me burned to a crisp.” Typhonis grinned.

Windswept coughed roughly. He casually spat, trying to remove the taste of vomit from his mouth. I'll bet, he thought. Maybe Typhonis was joking. But Windswept's gut and his aura said otherwise. He cares for us, but up to what point? Maybe you're expendable.

“That's enough combat training for today. Clean yourself,” Typhonis instructed. “I have something new for you to practice. Something far more valuable than combat.”

That got Windswept's attention. Perhaps not expendable?

“Come.” Typhonis beckoned.

Windswept followed Typhonis, the latter leading him away from the arena and toward one of the upper balconies that jutted out into the open air.

It was approaching twilight, and sky was flushed with brilliant hues of dark orange and yellow. Cloudsdale was a shining silhouette within.

“Be seated,” Typhonis instructed.

Windwept complied, though he observed his surroundings cautiously. Yet nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, there was only himself, the bare balcony and the Archon seated several hooves opposite from him.

One of those is still enough, he thought.

“Combat will only take you so far,” Typhonis said. “While it is true that the pegasi were renown warriors, even besting the most feral of dragons in aerial combat, it has always been our connection to the legacy stream which has benefited us.” The Archon looked out towards the city. “Despite it's weakened state, it still calls to it's children, even if it falls on deaf ears.”

Again, Windswept felt the pure yearning from the Archon. He could feel his aura jump at the sensation. It wished to join in the crusade, to rekindle life amongst the pegasi.

Windswept forced himself away, wrangling his aura back in. I'm sorry, but I can't be blinded.

The Archon looked Windswept in the eye. “We must strengthen your aural connection to the Legacy Stream. And hopefully, one day, for the rest of the pegasi as well.”

“My connection?” Windwept said. “But I don't know anything about connecting to the stream on my own.”

“Precisely the reason we are doing this, young one. I will anchor the stream, while your aura is submerged within it. It will be up to you to learn to navigate without losing yourself. It is my belief that extended exposure will reignite the natural connections that lay dormant within your aura.” The Archon looked at him warily. “I will not be able to communicate with you Windswept; I will only be able to monitor you in the vaguest sense, so fly carefully.”

Endurance training then, thought Windswept.

Light flashed in front of Windwept.

The Archon's eye's sparked with electricity. “Prepare thyself!”

“W-wait!”

A colossal wave of the Legacy Stream slammed into Windswept's aura. He screwed his eyes shut on reflex. His sense of physical self was lost, he only felt through his aura, as he was pulled, battered and tumbled about within the repeated waves. Suffice to say his initial entry into the stream was not graceful.

Abruptly the waves ceased. Windswept regained his sense of balance, leveling out. Weightlessness overtook him and he instinctively flapped his wings, but they did nothing. Opening his eyes he quickly looking himself over.

Once again he appeared to be a spirit form of sorts, the same as when he had delved into the Storm Stalker. He was semi translucent, faintly glowing in the same hue of his aura. A thin tether of his aura trailed from his chest, rising to the surface of the Legacy Stream. Typhonis' latent power pulsed lightly within it.

His aura bobbed beside him, an orb of light blue light.

“Hey! You're here!” He looked the orb over. “Huh. You're blue.”

His aura flitted back and forth, agitated. It quickly darted away then back again, feeding Windswept a dire, almost personal sense of urgency.

“Alright. Let's go.”

Windswept looked out into the world before him.

It was empty. Barren. While there was light, it was dull and hazy, permeating the void in a sickly white. Windswept brought a hoof to shield his eyes. They ached from the light.

This feels... wrong...

Weight found Windswept as he descended, reaching a cloud surface of sorts. Slowly he walked forward into expanse.

His aura moved about seemingly at random. It would dart suddenly forward to an empty spot, with an almost expectant, terrified fervor. Then it would hover lifeless for a few seconds, before slowly floating back toward Windswept.

Windswept clenched his jaw as he watched his companion. This was a homecoming. But not a happy one.

“I'm sorry,” Windswept said. He tried to feed feelings of comfort. “It looks like there haven't been pegasi here in a long, long time.”

Frustration and sadness overcame Windswept as he stared out into the emptiness. This wasn't just a place or source of power. This was where the Pegasi spirit had been. Its tenacity. Will. Courage. The cocksure attitude that all pegasi shared. Every aspect and trait that defined who and what the pegasi were.

“Why did this happen?” Windswept asked to no one.

A faint light blinked in the distance.

Windswept's aura jumped, darting toward the light.

Windswept suddenly stumbled forward. Then again, and again.

“Hey-!” His aura yanked him forward again. “Hey! Alright! I'm coming!”

Windswept began to gallop, noticing the light. “Wait? There's somepegasi here?” He said excitedly to his aura.

His aura bobbed around manically, a flurry of excitement, worry and hope radiating from it.

As they drew closer the light began to take a form.

An semi-translucent pegasus in ancient armor sat upright before them. His eyes stared forward, unblinking. Even as Windswept approached the ghost remained immobile. As if they weren't even there.

Windswept slowed, disbelief hindering his steps. He finally came to a stop several hooves in front of this very familiar ghost.

“High Winds?”

The ghost blinked. Slowly he turned to Windswept.

“You...,” High Winds spoke, his voice gravelly. “You... have... come?”

Windswept could feel the ancient aura of the ghost reach out weakly. It was disjointed and fragmented.

Just like before.

Windswept hadn't expected this. Well, to be fair I'm not sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn't this, he thought. He thought back to his first meeting with High Winds, and the ghost's warning. Windswept could still feel the Archon's latent presence anchoring him to the Legacy Stream, but Windswept's encounter with the ghost had gone unnoticed.

Windswept inwardly smiled. Perfect.

Windswept pushed out with his own aura, meeting High Wind's own and faltering aura. “High Winds, it's me, Windwept,” he said. He chanced a small smile. “Don't you remember? From the castle?”

Greater life came to High Winds eyes as their link solidified. “I, know you. Yes,” High Winds said, looking more intently at Windswept. “My descendant.” High Winds stood up. Excitement marked his features. “Yes! You are! I can feel our family's aura!” He faltered slightly, eyes dragging to his hooves. “It has been so very, very long. But,” he raised his eyes to Windswept once more, “if you are here...”

Windswept tried to follow as best he could. “What are you doing here?” Windswept started.

“If you are here...,” High Winds said again, as if he hadn't heard Windswept. “Then there is hope yet! The praefractus has worked!”

Windswept was confused. “Don't you remember me? We met at Black Mist Prison. You told me about the Legacy Guard and the Tempest Guard. About...” Windswept paused for a moment, “about Typhonis.”

High Winds ears perked. “I know that name,” he said, eyes narrowing. “He brought destruction to Skythus, and will bring it again. But you,” High Winds refocused on Windsdwept, “I do not know you.”

“What? But you just said we were family!”

“Indeed we are. But I am only a part of High Wind's soul, a part that has never met you.”

But also one that might know more! Windswept thought.

Windswept eyed the ghost squarely. “What happened?” Asked directly.

High Winds was quiet for a moment. He sighed. “I betrayed Hurricane,” he said softly. “I took the Tempest Guard and followed my master. I was a fool to do so. The strife destroyed Skythus.”

Windswept pressed further. “Typhonis... he's... he really did that? He cares for the pegasi. I've felt it.”

But does he really? A whisper slipped behind Windswepts mind.

“He is freed then?” High Winds said sternly. He rounded on Windswept, barely a hoof from his face. “Know this Tempest Guard; the Archon's care is only for those who follow him. Some of their own will, many, many more were swayed. His powers are terrifyingly subtle, Windswept. If you have not seen it, you soon will.”

Light suddenly flashed nearby, followed by a low rumble.

Windswept nearly panicked, but a quick check of his aura revealed the Archon was unchanged.

“Even now,” High Winds gestured above, “he abuses his power.”

“What do you mean?”

High Winds didn't reply, only glancing upward.

Windswept watched as another light flashed, this time accompanied by only what he could describe as a tear in Stream. As the rumblings continued a pegasus ghost emerged, a mare limply floating downward.

Another light flashed. The ground around Windswept splintered and cracked. Immediately black chains sprung forth, shooting straight for the ghost overhead.

Windswept snapped his head up. The ghost above was only a few yards above. Just close enough for Windswept to hear the terrified gasp as the chains whipped around the ghost's limbs and wings. They began to glow a sickly red.

The form hung in the air for a moment, writhing and twisting about, struggling to free herself.

Windswept readied his wings.

High Winds only stared blankly.

The chains suddenly jerked taut, syncing down on the mare's limbs. She cried out. “H-help me!”

Windswept forced himself forward as best he could, trying to reach the ghost. What are you going to do for a ghost? He thought. The chains!

Above the chains jerked down again, accompanied by another cry from their captive. Then, with a final, mighty tug, they pulled the ghost swiftly toward the ground.

Windswept dove toward two of the chains. And passed harmlessly through.

He twisted about, meeting eyes with the terrified mare as she screamed, and disappeared from sight.

Windwept landed awkwardly in front of High Winds. “Why didn't you help me! Help her!” He fumed, thrusting his wing toward the sky. His aura was beside him, sharp pangs of betrayal and sacrilege about it.

“As I said, he abuses his power,” High Winds said. “And there is no stopping it.”

“What was that? What did he do?!” Windswept demanded.

But he already knew.

“It has become a common sight here,” High Winds said.

Flashes of light and the steady roll of thunder sounded in the distance. Distant cries mixed in.

“With his return, it is as I feared. The Archon is ripping souls from the Valley of the Stars.” A forlorn look overcame High Winds. “His is enslaving them, Winswept.”

It is a great honor to serve the pegasus race beyond death! The Archon's words ringed in Windswept's head.

His hooves shook with anger. Not their honor, he thought. Only yours.

That was it then. He was decided.

“I have to stop him High Winds.”

The ghost regarded him for a moment, eyebrow raised.

Windswept didn't flinch. “I have to stop the Archon of Storms, but...,” he trailed off.

“How do you kill a god?” High Winds finished.

Windswept's aura bristled at the word 'god'.

“Well, the answer is quite simple really,” High Winds said. “You can't.”

“What?!” Windswept exclaimed, taking a step toward High Winds. “That can't be true! The Archon was defeated before, surely he can be again!”

High Winds shook his head with a chuckle.

Windswept frowned. “This is hardly the time for jokes,” he growled.

“I never said the Archon could not be defeated. He was once before after all.”

Windswept stomped his hoof in frustration. “But you just said-”

You. Can't.”

“I can't...” Windswept trailed off, the gears turning in his head. But somepegasi else can!

Windwept rounded on the ghost. “Who? Who can defeat the Archon?”

“Great heroes of the Legacy Stream. Before it was Commander Hurricane and his companions who also bore the mantle.” High Winds set Windswept with a steely gaze. “Your only hope rests with three mantle bearers now, if they even exist.”

The realization landed on Windswept like a ton of bricks. If they even exist. Windswept dropped to his haunches. It was slowly sinking in. There's nothing I can do. For all I know they don't exist. Or if they do, they themselves don't know it. I'd be searching for three pegasi, out of millions...

Something connected forcefully against Windswept's forehead.

High Winds smirked. “You really should pay more attention to your aura.”

“I... what?” Windwept rubbed his forehead. “It actually hit me, hit me?”

“You mean it has done so before?” High Winds shook his head. “To think my descendant would be so dense...”

“Hey! Quiet!” Windswept shot back. He turned to his aura. It buzzed and flashed impatiently before him. “Hey sorry about that. What is it?”

The floating orb rushed him. Windswept braced himself, but instead of another strike to the head, his aura passed harmlessly through.

He felt a gentle pull from within. Memories.

Outside Black Mist Prison. A group of ponies stood opposed to the recently resurrected Archon. All defeated, yet one seemed to reach out to Windswept with a different kind of power...

A flash of light. Another memory.

Only days ago, inside the Senate Chamber. The same pegasus, a Wonderbolt. With two others. The Archon's briefest hint of real fear at their reveal, who they were. Their legacies? Windswept didn't know what a legacy was. But they had it. Typhonis feared it.

Another flash. His duel with the Wonderbolt. He had used some kind of aural power on Windswept, looked inside of him...

Another flash. High Winds and the Legacy Stream realm were before him again.

High Winds smiled slyly. “Has an answer been provided by the Legacy Stream?”

Windswept was breathing heavily. His mind moved at a million miles an hour. “The Wonderbolt!” He turned on High Winds. “And his companions! They're the bearers! They have been the whole time!”

“Is that so?” High Winds said loftily. “Even bereft of the pegasi spirit, it seems the Legacy Stream has watched over with a guiding wing for thousands of years.”

“You knew?!”

“Nay, I pretend not to understand the deep mysteries of the Legacy Stream,” High Winds replied. “But it does not surprise me that such a thing could be so.”

“I have to find them. But they disappeared after the skirmish at the Senate...”

Princess Luna had teleported the group away at the last moment. There was no telling where she had taken them. It was a bit of irony that Windswept found himself thanking the Princess' intrusion; were it not for her presence Windswept's only hope against the Archon might have been destroyed.

He could stomach it for now.

“Find them you say...” High Winds trailed off, stroking his muzzle. “If only there were an ethereal power that connected all pegasi.” The ghost grinned at Windswept.

Windswept scowled. “You know, for a ghost who is supposedly my ancestor, you're kind of a dick.”

High Winds raised a brow. “A what? I am sure I'm no such thing.”

Windswept's aura gave the unique sensation of rolling it's eyes.

“Eh,” Windswept shook his head, bringing his hoof to the bridge of his nose. “Modern insult. Feel insulted. Or something.”

“It seems youth never do learn to respect their elders, even after all this time.”

Windswept ignored the comment. “I thought you said there were no pegasi connected to the Stream?” He asked, gesturing to the empty expanse.

“Think young one!” High Winds replied, pointing quickly to his head. “Do you think you are the only pegasi in the here and now? With all the powers you've seen the bearers wield, surely you don't believe it was without a connection to the Stream?”

They're here?

“How do I conta-”

“Reach out young one,” High Winds said softly. The elder pegasus bowed toward Windswept's aura. “Guide him.”

Before Windswept could reply his aura shot into the air. He craned his neck back, watching as his aura was just a speck against the sickly haze above. He could feel the tether intensify, a yearning, calling on him to pour forth.

“Farewell, Windswept.”

Windwept looked back.

High Winds form began to fade. “We shall meet again...”

The ghost disappeared completely, his voice echoing away into silence.

Windswept nodded to himself. There was no going back now. He looked back toward the Archon's tether. It had remained unchanged during his conversation with High Winds.

He took a deep breath. Then pushed forth his energy to his aura.

A visible surge of blue light burst forth from his wings, nearly knocking Windswept from his hooves in surprise. Never before had his aura manifested in such a way, but just like his aura, here in the Legacy Stream, it made sense.

The bolt jolted along his tether. The moment it struck his aural orb it exploded into a blue ripple, stretching out across the sky toward the horizon and out of sight.

Windswept closed his eyes. He could feel the ripple in it's entirety, feel it traverse the Legacy Stream. He was suddenly aware of the devastation. The vast emptiness. How wrong it felt. The Stream wasn't just a source of power, it had been a home of sorts. Now, as his mind traveled across it did he truly understand.

His wave crashed into a pillar, if it was how Windwept could describe the sensation. Somehow, he knew exactly where it stood.

He opened his eyes.

It stood before him.

Windswept blinked a few times. “Oh.”

Beside him, his aura flashed impressions of 'time and space' entering his mind.

Not a pillar, but a pedestal.

The chest high column stood a short distance away, a large rusted and broken shield resting atop. It stood out against the backdrop of the empty realm, radiating with it's own latent energies. It pulled at Windswept, calling to his aural essence.

Windswept frowned. What purpose does this serve? It answered my call, but why?

Mists beyond the pedestal shifted and wafted, clearing slightly. A pegasus formed emerged.

Windswept's eyes widened. “I see...”

The Wonderbolt stood a short distance apart from him, ethereal like High Winds. Faint mist wafted around the Wonderbolt, obscuring him. He jerked slightly at Windwept's presence, as if startled, but did not flee.

Windswept faltered for a moment, but his aura urged him onward. He wasn't exactly sure what the pedestal was or what significance it held, but for the time being it was all he had. This may be my only chance, he thought.

Slowly he stepped forward with purpose. With each step he could feel the greater intensity of the aural energy pulse from the pedestal. Features came into view upon the shield; numerals ringed the edge, one through thirteen. A vicious shear had nearly split the shield in two, amethyst embers glowing along the razor edge.

The Wonderbolt had taken several tentative steps at this point, but Windswept could see his restraint. He grimaced. I don't have time for this! He reached out with his aura, directly to the Wonderbolt.

The effect was immediate. The Wonderbolt's aura was electrified; a sense of comradeship overtook it, radiating over the Wonderbolt. Reluctance gave way as the Wonderbolt moved to meet Windswept.

A glint beneath the Wonderbolt's wing caught Windswept's eye. His aura discerned it as a crest of some kind, rippling with it's own latent energies, very similar to the pedestal-

A new sensation abruptly touched upon his mind. And his wing? A weight that was definitely not there before rested within his feathers.

Extending his wing, he brought the object forth.

It was a crest.

That wasn't there before... he thought.

But not just a crest. The crest of the Tempest Guard, despite the scorch marks upon it. A magnetic power pulled it toward the shield.

The Wonderbolt stood before him. With crest in wing, they stared at one another.

Windswept's eyes darted from the Wonderbolt's crest, bearing the symbol of the Legacy Guard, to his own, then to the shield.

Circular indentations were at the center of the shield, the same size as the crest in his wing. One for the Tempest Guard, one for the Legacy Guard. Joined together with the numerals, save for the fracture that separated them. A splinter.

A splinter!

Windswept could feel the pieces fall into place. To heal the splinter. To save the Tempest Guard. To do everything he could to aid the Legacy Bearers.

Windwept placed the crest upon the shield.

His aura jolted with ancient power. But it was frayed and unfocused. It began fizzle and sputter, electrical sparks dancing along the broken edge of the shield.

Please! Windswept urged with his aura, straining toward the Wonderbolt. Help me!

The other pegasus joined his crest to the shield.

Blinding light exploded from the shield.

Windswept's aura connected to the Wonderbolt's, joined across the shield.

Powerful ripples of aural power radiated from shield. Loud snaps and snarls of electrical discharge erupted, drowning out all sound. The intensity tore at Windswept's aura. His form began to fade. The Archon's anchor grew stronger, pulling at his subconscious.

No! Not yet! He has to know!

Windswept's aura steeled itself alongside him, drawing upon him to sustain the connection.

He didn't have time to be grateful. All he could do was push along the current. Ally. Friend. Tempest Guard and Legacy Guard. Comradeship. Heal. Windswept. Trust. Legacy Bearers. As earnestly as he could Windswept tried to reach out the Wonderbolt.

Would it even do anything?

The currents of power continued to pulse, tearing at his essence. Windswept could feel a change in his consciousness. His body upon the floor. Cloudstone at his hooves.

He gave one final push, forcing what remaining energy he had. All focused on the connection to the pegasus on the other side of the blinding light.

A vicious crack echoed. But not a sound. In his aura.

Windswept's mind began to go dark. As consciousness left him he saw a tiny speck of blue zip along the frayed connection.

All went black.


Rainbow Dash scanned beneath her. Crowds of military pegasi ran about both on the ground and in the air around her. Some carried equipment, others moved in formation, others still operated specialized cloud equipment, ferrying large crystals to the towers and the floating batteries above.

She strained her eyes further. “Com-on, where are you at?”

She and Soarin' had been searching for Scootaloo for a while now, without luck.

She glanced to Soarin'.

He shook his head.

Rainbow sighed.

She reached forth for her aura once again, sending out a wide broadcast.

That was the funny thing about her aura. While it permanently connected the three of them, it was more nebulous and imprecise spatially. She knew Scootaloo was still nearby, that much was certain. But it was far from pinpointing another exactly. All she could do was send a pulse of her aura, and feel for Scootaloo's own aura to return in like. It reminded her of something Twilight had mentioned in one of her sciency rants; a new piece of technology, something called a 'radar'.

It also made her aware of pegasi around her. While obviously not connected to them directly, each pegasi seemed to have a spark of the Legacy Stream within them to varying degrees. She had witnessed it for the first time in Ponyville, but now that she was in a Los Pegasus, a city-fortress of thousands of pegasi, new sensations bled into her aura.

Fear.

It billowed from each and every pegasi, an invisible fog that filled city.

They know what's coming, she thought.

Word must have come from Cloudsdale about the Archon and the Senate.

She pushed forth again with her aura, putting more force behind it. The fog hindered her.

We draw strength from other pegasi, but they can also slow us down. The implications were not lost on her. “This could be bad,” she whispered.

“Hey Rainbow! Rainbow! Look!”

Rainbow pivoted toward Soarin's voice.

The stallion was pointing directly beneath.

Her eyes immediately locked on the massive and unmistakable set of armor. Scootaloo sat beside it.

Rainbow dove toward the ground, landing in front of the two.

“There you are Scootaloo! We've been searching everywhere for you.”

“Hey Rainbow!” Scootaloo chirped happily.

Well... this is unexpected. She hadn't expected Scootaloo to be so... upbeat.

“You seem to be doing better,” Rainbow said. “I was wondering where you went.”

“Well...” Scootaloo started, a touch more somber. “I just needed to think for a bit. But I'm doing better.”

Rainbow's chest relaxed. This might be easier than I thought. She glanced up at Soarin', sending an aural signal to let him know he could join them. “I'm glad to hear it kiddo, because we need to talk.”

“I... uh...” Scootaloo swallowed, looking away.

Rainbow tensed. She knew this was coming. But how would she react?

Scootaloo glanced up at Armis. The great armor nodded, offering an armored wing to her side.

Rainbow caught the subtle gesture. Huh.

A second later, Soarin landed beside her.

Rainbow saw Scootaloo stiffen. But she didn't pout or lash out. Even her aura was receptive, something Rainbow had only just now noticed. Scootaloo's eyes stayed at her hooves, ears drooped slightly.

The silence between the four of them was palpable, even with bustle of pegasi around them.

Soarin' sighed heavily. He took a step forward. “Hey, Scootaloo. Listen, I'm so-”

“I'm sorry!”

Soarin' looked confused. He glanced to Rainbow.

Well that was unexpected. She shrugged.

Scootaloo marched up to Soarin', looking him dead in the eye. “I'm sorry for what happened at Cloudsdale. I'm sorry for not listening to you, and for putting you and Rainbow Dash in danger. It wasn't on purpose. But it wasn't responsible either. It was stupid and selfish.” She glanced back at Armis. “I guess I was just scared to try. And its been hard since...” Scootaloo trailed off for a moment.

Rainbow could see her struggle.

“Since mom and dad died. It still is,” she said resolutely.

There were no tears in her eyes. There was even a hint of a smile. Butterflies bounced around Rainbow's stomach. She grinned. I'm so proud of you Scootaloo.

“But I'm ready now. I need you guys. And I know you need me,” she said with a smirk.

Soarin' stood, mouth agape. Rainbow had never seen him so confused.

She chuckled, elbowing Soarin'. “Your move flyboy.”

Rainbow grinned as Soarin' slowly collected himself. “As unexpected as Rainbow,” he muttered.

“Hey!” Rainbow exclaimed.

She slugged him in the shoulder for good measure.

“Ow, hey com'on, I'm trying to apologize here!”

“What?” Scootaloo exclaimed.

Soarin' stooped down, eye level with Scootaloo. “I'm sorry too.”

Scootaloo was still confused. “But why? I'm the one who screwed up.”

“You're not the only one,” Soarin' said, glancing to Rainbow. “After Cloudsdale, I was mad. Really mad. I meant what I said before...”

Scootaloo winced.

Soarin' was quick to reach out, placing a hoof on Scootaloos shoulder. “But that doesn't excuse that I handled it badly. I didn't think about how new this is for you, or about what happened in Ponyville. I should know better. Rainbow and I,” Soarin' gestured to Rainbow, “we lost our parents during the Twin Storms a long time ago, so I know a little bit about what you're going through.”

Soarin' paused, grimacing. “I guess I just forgot that.”

“We think that might be why you, me, all of us,” Rainbow gestured amongst them with her wing, “are having a hard time with these powers. It was passed on to us from our parents, but we weren't ready for it.”

Scootaloo was still. Rainbow could tell she was thinking everything over.

Scootaloo looked up earnestly at Soarin'. “It's okay. Besides,” she grinned, “I think we're even now.”

Soarin' chuckled. “Yep. Definitely Rainbow's little sister.”

He ducked just in time to dodge another jab from Rainbow.

Rainbow stuck her tongue at Soarin as she sided up next to Scootaloo, wrapping a hoof around her. “I'm super proud of you, Scootaloo. And I want you to know that you're the bravest pegasus I've ever met.”

“W-what?”

“You heard me.”

Scootaloo just stared for a moment, then looked away quickly, blinking. She rubbed her eyes. “Aw, com-on Rainbow you can't say that kind of stuff in front of these guys.”

Rainbow laughed. She felt the solid thrum of the legacy stream between them. It shone like a lighthouse in the fog the flooded Los Pegasus.

Scootaloo was quiet again.

“Hey, you good Scoots?”

“Yeah, just something Soarin' said before. It sounds a lot like what Ice Wing told me.”

“Ice Wing?” The name clicked in Rainbows head. “Wait, that Ice Wing?”

“Yeah, I-” Scootaloo began. “Oh yeah!” She suddenly fluttered into the air. “You guys won't believe it!” Scootaloo started to buzz back and forth excitedly. “It was so awesome! It was me an Armis, and then it was just me and it was dark and spooky, but I didn't lose my cool not at all, and then Ice Wing showed up with this weird workshop and she told me some stuff and she's trapped there and I need to save her and he's her sister!” Scootaloo gasped, pointing to Armis. She doubled over in the air, taking several deep breaths.

Rainbow glanced at Soarin'.

He shrugged.

“Um, what?”

“Oh, and he's also my super ancient weird-cool uncle!” Scootaloo said proudly with hooves crossed.

Armis nodded slightly. “Tis true.”

Rainbow blinked a few times. “I'll say it again. What?

“Ugh! Here!”

Scootaloo produced a worn helm from Armis, hoofing it to Rainbow. It was old, that much she could tell, the only distinctive trait was a particular crest on it's brow.

There was a gentle hum from the helm that resonated with her aura, but not exactly. Like the wrong key for a lock. This is one of the relics!

Scootaloo, more slowly this time, informed Rainbow and Soarin' about what had happened.

“She's the one who told me about how I was wounded, or something. Kinda like what you were saying Soarin'?”

“It sounds very close to what I got from Lightning Streak too,” Rainbow added.

“So, that's bad right?” Scootaloo asked. “What are we going to do about it? How are we going to fix it? Can we?”

“That's the million bit question Scoots,” Rainbow answered.

Metal on metal ringed. Armis stepped forward. “Though time is short, perhaps this is one challenge that need not yet be confronted?”

Soarin' nodded. “One step at a time; we still need the last relic. Oh, and good job riding the currents with that one Scootaloo.”

Rainbow felt her sister beam.

“Trust in the will of the Legacy Stream,” Armis said loftily. “Though none of us are whole, it will not abandon us.”

“Yeah, well it sure is taking it's time isn't it?” Rainbow said.

“Do not be so quick to judge, Rainbow Dash,” a silky voice sounded above.

Luna landed amongst the group.

Soarin' bristled slightly. “No offense Princess, but even though you have wings, you're not a pegasus.”

Luna smiled. “True. But I have witnessed the power of the Legacy Stream in my time. And though evil may hold sway over it now, there is always a counter, an opposite. It need only a catalyst. Or,” she glanced between them, “perhaps three.”

“Make our own destiny?” Rainbow tapped a hoof to her nose. “I can get behind that.”

“I'm confused,” Scootaloo said.

“Something tells me you're not here to spout indecipherable words of wisdom,” Soarin' said. “Believe me, we've had plenty of that.”

Luna chuckled. “Indeed I am not. Colonel Pilus and Captain Spitfire are about to render their report to Commander Dark Shot. We have been summoned to the Acropolis.”

Rainbow nodded. Things were beginning to take shape. Soon they would find out what the pegasi would do. Not that they have much of a choice, Rainbow thought. A fight was coming whether they wanted one or not.

She looked around.

The hustle and bustle of pegasi around her continued, unimpeded. In fact it seemed to have increased. More supplies, more equipment, more soldiers. More anxious faces, all focused on the task at hand. It was a thin veil though.

The fog was growing thicker.

Rainbow clenched her jaw, her aura tightening with Soarin' and Scootaloo. A catalyst for the light. That's what we are. What these pegasi need.


Los Pegasus was the seat of military power in Equestria, a fortress city housing thousands of soldiers and aerial squadrons along with a robust support network. Scores of air defenses, artillery and multiple runways filled the layered cloud complex. This was in turn complimented by an outer ring of floating towers, each mounted with a rotating turret that housed dual lightning cannons.

The city was without question formidable. But it required coordination; a center by which to command the defense.

That structure rested at the very center of Los Pegasus, past multiple layers of security check points and armed patrols. The Acropolis; an intelligence and information command center that orchestrated the defense network at Los Pegasus and the pegasi military across Equestria.

The cloud structure itself was simple in design, a large sphere, easily the size of the Cloudseum in Cloudsdale. The center was dark like the rest of the cloud stone in Los Pegasus. Tiny rumblings echoed from within, the occasional discharge dancing along the surface. There were no windows, no ornate columns or statues. Instead the surface of the sphere was covered in tracks of wires, each traveling to crystal nodes embedded into the cloud stone, while others disappeared beneath the surface, carrying their electrical discharge with them.

A ringed wall surrounded the Acropolis. Watch towers stood upon it, manned by armed pegasi who scanned the sky and ground below. Small, floating cloud batteries prevented entry from the sky, their automatic turrets poised to discharge by lethal and non-lethal lightning strikes to aerial intruders.

There was a single entrance through the wall. One way in; one way out. Instead of a large gate there was a permanent electrical barrier, powered by crystals that lined the frame. Watch towers flanked it on either side.

Rainbow Dash and the others stood several hoof steps away from the door. Despite her distance from it Rainbow could feel the static discharge dance along her coat and feathers.

Would not want to get caught in that thing, she thought, staring at the electrical barrier. Even a pegasi, who were naturally resistant to lightning, would not survive from the electrical intensity in front of her.

“You at the gate, standby,” A voiced boomed over a loud speaker.

Armed pegasi in the towers watched like hawks from their perch. One of the them jumped forward, landing roughly in front of the group.

“I need to see some I.D,” he said quickly.

Uh, about that, Rainbow thought. She glanced toward Soarin'.

Soarin' broke from the group, producing a small card from his wing.

The guard quickly looked over the card, nodding. “Lieutenant Soarin', you're cleared for entry But,” he gestured behind the Wonderbolts, “they aren't.”

“Kinda touchy about the security, aren't they?” Rainbow said, glancing toward Luna.

“They are not wrong to be,” Luna replied. “During times of war every precaution must be taken.”

War. Rainbow shivered slightly. That was never a word she thought she would hear outside of books or a history class. But we're in one now, she thought. Maybe it hadn't quite sunk in yet.

“They're the Legacy Bearers and a monarch of Equestria,” Soarin' said, a touch perturbed. “That should be enough.”

The guard frowned. “What about that thing?” He pointed to Armis. “There's no way I'm letting that thing in.”

“I can personally vouch for Armis,” Soarin' said. “He saved my life at Cloudsdale.”

The guard raised a brow at the mention of the battle. He nodded. “Cleared for entry,” he said, handing the card back to Soarin'. He turned around, signaling with his wing toward the tower.

The controller at the tower replied in kind, making adjustments to some sort of panel in front of him.

The gate flashed white with the screech of electrical discharge. Rainbow covered her eyes with her wing.

A second later the barrier was open.

Soarin' led the group forward into a large courtyard that separated the wall from the Acropolis. Staff pegasi and soldiers hurried about in small groups.

“Hey, Soarin'! Rainbow! Over here!”

Rainbow followed the voice over the bustle of the crowd. She caught a waving yellow hoof.

Spitfire rushed forward to meet them.

“Just in time!” Spitfire greeted Rainbow and Soarin' with a grin.

“I've made a pretty good habit of it.” Rainbow smirked.

Spitfire swatted her with her wing.

“I am happy to see you are well Captain Spitfire,” Luna said, bowing her head slightly.

Spitfire's demeanor cooled. “Princess,” she said curtly with a nod.

Rainbow sighed, though if Luna took any offense to Spitfire, she didn't show it. Well at least she's civil about it.

“You doing alright kiddo?” Spitfire turned to Scootaloo. Rainbow could feel the outpouring from Spitfire's aura. The mare genuinely cared for her.

Scootaloo pretended like she hadn't heard Spitfire.

Again, Rainbow saw the hurt in Spitfire's aura.

“Heard you found the second relic, that's pretty damn awesome!” Spitfire tried again.

Scootaloo snorted. “Don't we have somewhere to be?” She looked at Soarin', still completely ignoring Spitfire.

Rainbow had had enough. “Scootaloo! What the hell?”

“No, no,” Spitfire waved her hoof dismissively. “She's right. Follow me.”

Rainbow leveled a healthy glare at Scootaloo. She could feel Scootaloo wilt slightly at her anger, but the younger mare's anger toward Spitfire remained unchanged. You and I are going to have a serious discussion about this, Rainbow thought, feeding her intent to Scootaloo's aura.

The young mare didn't reply, but the message was received. Scootaloo didn't look at Rainbow, keeping her head low and placing herself out of view alongside Armis.

Spitfire walked alongside Soarin', leading the group across the courtyard through the crowds and into the Acropolis.

It was quite a sight.

Rainbow took in the facility as Spitfire led them through.

The interior of the Arcropolis was hollowed out. Currently the group walked along a wide walkway that ringed the interior of the Acropolis, freeing the space within. This allowed for the multiple levels and departments to float freely both at the upper and lower reaches of the Acropolis. Each was a massive cloud platform that easily supported hundreds of pegasi, and was in turn subdivided into open compartments, allowing for easy access to and from. Some were only desks, others were filled with crystal monitors, maps and holographic projections. Holographic projections of their designations floated above: Operations, Intel, Logistics, Base Defense, Research and Development and Special Operations, among others.

Hundreds of pegasi zoomed to an from the departments, their commotion a robust clatter. Pegasi were pouring over maps, updating charts and data, others in animated conversation or arguments.

Despite their impressive size, each of the departments hovered around the central piece at the center of the Acropolis. Spanning nearly the diameter of the interior was a holographic map of Equestria. Rainbow noted greater detail as Spitfire led the group closer. Key locations were highlighted on the map. Los Pegasus, Canterlot, Pegasi Peak, Smokey Mountain, Cloudsdale and other cities and locations across Equestria. Their color varied as well. Los Pegasus was blue, while many of the non-pegasi cities were green. Cloudsdale stood out, glowing a harsh red.

“I knew Cloudsdale was lost,” Soarin' said, glancing at the map. “But it hurts to see it like that. The enemy.”

“We'll take it back,” Spitfire said, a sharp edge in her voice.

Small holographic triangles and dots moved to and fro about the map in real time, numerical designations tied to them. Scores of them streamed from Cloudsdale toward Los Pegasus. Rainbow recognized some with Wonderbolt crests and designations.

The military had completely evacuated Cloudsdale.

Technicians and staff pegasi moved about around the edges of the map, working at crystal monitors.

A smaller platform hovered just above the map. Spitfire led the group toward it.

“Lieutenant Colonel Pilus is just ahead,” Spitfire said. “And he's about to brief Supreme Commander Dark Shot, the highest ranking pegasus in the military,” she added with emphasis.

“I have heard of Commander Dark Shot,” Luna said. “I'm told he's quite the shrewd tactician and strategist.”

“He'll be hearing from Pilus and Soarin',” Spitfire replied tersely.

Jeez Spitfire, think you could dial it back with the royal hate? Rainbow thought.

The group stopped at the edge of the platform, allowing Rainbow the first good look at Dark Shot. He was large for a pegasus, the same stature as Luna, but without sacrificing his aerodynamic form. His coat and wings were jet black, while his mane was only a touch lighter. His mark was a single, silver lightning bolt. He wore a simple uniform, bearing only his name and rank, and a pair of retracted hoof blades that rested along his forelegs.

“That dude looks like he means business,” Scootaloo whispered to Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow nodded, looking at the stallion again. His face was impassive, if a bit stern. Even as aides and officers fed him report after report as he looked over the map below.

On a whim, Rainbow reached out with her aura. Pegasi aura's mimicked their counterparts, frantic and laser focused. Despite their lost connection, Rainbow could see the faint auras touch the consciousness of their hosts, aiding them in some way. It's like they know the Archon is coming.

She turned her focus to Commander Dark Shot. His aura wasn't as bright as Rainbow or the other Legacy Bearers, or even Spitfire's, but it still outshone the other pegasi. It was still just as disconnected as all the others, but there was a different tone about it; like it's host it was calm, almost calculating in it's disposition. There was lineage there as well.

“Sir, we are assembled,” Spitfire's words interrupted Rainbow's concentration. She cut off her aura, returning to the present.

“Thank you Captain Spitfire,” Pilus replied. He turned to Commander Dark Shot. “Sir, I am ready to render my report. These gathered here where at Cloudsdale, and were present at the Senate.”

“At ease, all of you,” Dark Shot said. His voice was low, but surprisingly young for a stallion of his position. “I am glad to see everypegasi is doing well,” he added, looking over the group. His eyes settled on Luna.

“Luna, Princess of Canterlot,” he stated flatly. “You are permitted to stay.”

Luna said nothing, only bowing her head slightly.

What's with these guys? Rainbow said, rolling her eyes.

Soarin' elbowed her in the ribs.

“Ow, Soarin, what the ha-”

The stallion shook his head curtly, nodding toward Commander Dark Shot.

Rainbow glared at Soarin', but she remained quiet.

Lieutenant Colonel Pilus proceeded to go over the conflict at Cloudsdale. Thankfully the Wonderbolt was brief. Thank the stars, Rainbow thought.

“Princess Luna was able to teleport us away before the Archon was able to attack us again.”

“I see,” Dark Shot said. He took a moment to look over the map of Equestria. “Do you believe the Archon will attack Los Pegasus?”

“He knows we will oppose him,” Pilus replied heavily.

“Hey you know its not all doom and gloom right?” Rainbow cut in. “You've got me, Soarin' and Scootaloo!”

“Rainbow Dash!” Spitfire exclaimed.

“Nope, not happening Spitfire, I'm done listening,” Rainbow said. She turned to Dark Shot. The stallion said nothing, waiting for her to speak.

“Yes, the Archon is coming. You already know that. Hell, the whole base knows it,” Rainbow said, gesturing to the bustle within the Acropolis. “But you've got us. We're the Legacy Bearers; its practically our MO to take this Typhonis guy down!”

“I know who you are Rainbow Dash,” Dark Shot started. “I also know what you are,” he said, gesturing to the plate on her chest. “Captain Spitfire and Lieutenant Colonel Pilus have kept me informed of your exploits.”

“Great! Then you understand why we're-”

“Can you defeat the Archon? You failed at Cloudsdale.”

“Well, yeah but-”

“Do you have the last Legacy relic?” Dark Shot said, brows furrowed. “Do you know where it is?”

Rainbow frowned slightly. She snorted. “No. We don't have it yet.”

“Sir, the last relic is well beyond Equestria,” Soarin' spoke up. “We are still working to determine its exact location.”

Dark Shot seemed unimpressed.

Rainbow Dash's wings fidgeted. “What I'm trying to say is there is hope. A way to win. And it's us!” She gestured again to Soarin' and Scootaloo.

“I don't doubt your dedication or courage,” Dark Shot said calmly. “But hope is not a course of action. Don't waste my time until you can give me something more definitive.”

Rainbow was flabbergasted. “But-”

Dark Shot raised a hoof. “You are not Soldiers; do not interfere with mine. I must focus on the defense of this city and the pegasus race. In the meantime,” Dark Shot looked to Pilus and Soarin', “I suggest you focus your efforts on finding the last Legacy. That is my directive to you.”

The Commander turned back to his staff and the map below before Rainbow could reply.

Rainbow took a step toward the stallion. “Wait a minut-,”

Soarin' and Spitfire stepped in front of Rainbow.

“Dash, arguing isn't going to change anything,” Soarin' said, trying to guide her away from the map platform.

“Soarin's right Rainbow,” Spitfire added in a hushed voice.

“But we have these powers! I know we don't have the last relic, but we can help here!” She gestured with her wing to all the pegasi in the Acropolis. “I know you've felt it Soarin', seen it. They're blinded, their aura's are lost. We can give them direction; even a little bit! Maybe enough to save the city!”

“What about the last relic?” Soarin' countered. “We need it to defeat the Archon. We can't do that here and now without it!”

“We can't abandon them! I won't abandon them!”

“Commander Dark Shot! Commander Dark Shot!”

The frantic voice carried over the constant thrum of busy pegasi. All eyes turned toward the entrance of the Acropolis, momentarily bringing the commotion to standstill.

One of the gate guards rushed across the walkway, colliding with several pegasi staffers. Catching himself he dashed toward the map platform.

“Commander Da-,”

A sudden flash of light, accompanied by the telltale pinging sound of a teleport spell sounded.

“Sister?”

Princess Celestia stood upon the map platform with the group.

“Commander Dark Shot! It's, it's-” the guard gasped between breaths.

“Princess Celestia, yes. She is here,” Dark Shot said, eyeing the princess cautiously.

“She wouldn't wait at the gate sir!” The guard said quickly. “She demanded to see you!”

“Yes, I can see that,” Dark Shot answered. His eyes narrowed on the princess. “Thank you sergeant, return to your post.”

The princess is here? Rainbow thought. A glance at Celestia answered her all her questions.

The princess was not her normal composed self. Bits of her coat had been singed and her mane lacked its usually wavy luster.

Rainbow set her jaw. Something's happened. And recently. Had Ponyville been attacked again? That was where Celestia was when she had seen her last. Were her friends okay? Worry began to set in as Rainbow ran up toward the princess.

“Princess Celestia! What hap-”

“I would speak with Commander Dark Shot,” Celestia announced, ignoring Rainbow. “Immediately.”

The Acropolis had gone from a beehive of activity to a graveyard. Everypegasi was silent.

Dark Shot squared off with Celestia. “I do not take orders from you,” he said icily, “but I will listen to what you have to say.”

The monarch ignored the comment, much to Rainbow's surprise. “Border villages in Equestria have been attacked by dragons.”

Dragons? Rainbow thought.

“Dragons attacking Equestria?” Scootaloo said. “Has that ever happened before?”

“Not in many millenia,” Luna said, frowning. “In fact, not since the-”

“The war in Skythus with the Archon,” Rainbow finished.

Rainbow looked to Soarin'. The stallion's eyes lit up, fearful. “This is bad,” he said.

“Really bad!” Rainbow added. “Princess Celestia it's the Arc-”

Celestia continued to ignore her. “I have only just departed my royal guard after repelling a thunder of dragons,” she said, stopping in front of Commander Dark Shot. Despite her worn appearance, Rainbow could tell there was a barely restrained rage in her eyes.

Celestia drew herself to her full stature. “However, my guard is at the limits of what it can do, and already we have lost many, soldier and civilian alike of all races. I require your assistance.”

Dark Shot regarded Celestia for a moment, then returned to the map below. He sighed. “I am sorry Princess Celestia, but must refuse your request.”

“What?!” Rainbow shouted. “How can you say that?”

Spitfire tugged at Rainbow trying to calm her. “Rainbow, be quiet!”

Rainbow noted the momentary shock on Celestia's face. The monarch quickly hid it however, settling on more stony gaze at the military pegasus.

“We can't just do nothing!” Rainbow shouted again.

“I know this is ill timed; I know of the situation in Cloudsdale-”

“Do you really?” Dark Shot snarled, turning to face the monarch. “Cloudsdale is lost,” the stallion pointed at the red city on the map, “the seat of government is gone and the pegasus race is threatened!”

“I would ask that you send only a portion to patrol the borders, to protect those who cannot protect themselves!” Celestia countered.

“Those villages are outside the pegasus domain,” Dark Shot said.

“They are citizens of Equestria and as their leader I will ensure they are protected,” Celestia growled.

“Then perhaps as their leader you should have prepared them better! You and the other races have gone soft, Celestia, Princess of Canterlot!” Dark Shot seethed. “This is your own undoing, yet you come to me when you require assistance to fight when you abandoned that strength a long time ago!”

I can't believe this is happening, Rainbow thought. Everything and everypony is completely unhinged! We can't be fighting with each other, not now!

“I strongly recommend you reconsider,” Celestia said.

To his credit Dark Shot did not waver. “You have no authority here. Martial law and the Hurricane Contingency have separated the pegasi from Equestria, my loyalties are to them alone.”

“Then perhaps I can find another,” Celestia threatened.

“Sister! We cannot-”

“Not now Luna!” Celestia shot back at her sister.

“You have the raw power to remove me,” Dark Shot conceded. “But you will not find another, nor will anypegasi here follow you.” Dark Shot softened, sighing again. “Villages and capitals can be rebuilt. Armed forces ensure the survival of nations, I cannot divide my force now. Not in the face of what threatens us.”

“Then I shall fight alongside you.”

Was that Luna?

Rainbow watched as the Princess Luna strode to up to Commander Dark Shot.

“Sister, what are you doing?” Celestia exclaimed.

“The commander is right, sister,” Luna said. “This is a pegasus matter, and they are best equipped to deal with it. And while the attacks on the borders are more than regrettable, we must look to the larger threat.”

“But we are responsible, my little ponies-”

“Are growing up,” Luna finished. “The time has come. You must let them forge their own way.”

“It is too soon, sister!” Celestia countered. She faltered, seemingly wilting under Luna's words. “I cannot leave them...”

“Who said anything about leaving?” Luna said coyly. “Do you not remember our time before we assumed our royal duties? I was Selena, the Nocturne Warrior and Adventurer!” She grinned. “It has been far too long since I fought alongside the pegasi.”

Celestia sighed. “Then our aid they shall have. But,” she looked about the assembled pegasi in the Acropolis, “we shall speak more of a new future later.”

“I accept, if you truly intend to help,” Dark Shot said, looking to Luna. “Protect my soldiers. ”

Rainbow looked at those around her. “That's it then? We're going to do nothing?”

“Commander Dark Shot has made his decision,” Spitfire said, but there was little conviction in her voice.

“I don't like it either Dash,” Soarin' started, “but we can't save everypony. We can't be everywhere and we have to choose our battles carefully. And with the dragons gone now, maybe they won't need our help. The guard can watch over them.”

Rainbow snorted again, kicking at the ground. This sucks, she thought. But what was there to do? They couldn't be in two places at once. The loyalty within her raged and burned, driving her to help those suffering in the borderlands. But then would she be abandoning Los Pegasus to the Archon? She was in between two nasty thunderclouds and couldn't do a thing about it.

“Fine,” she said tersely, trying to vent her frustration. “But I don't like it.”

Commander Dark Shot turned to his staff. “I need updates on the aerial batteries, and personnel status from each wing commander. Ensure the logistics section have the airfields stocked with munitions and...,” his voice trailed off, sliding out of Rainbow's focus.

She ambled toward the edge of the platform, gazing at the large map below. A staffer had updated the the map to reflect the border villages in the northwest, a burning flame icon hovering above the villages. The hue of the villages glowed red. Why did the dragons attack?

She looked back to Cloudsdale, the same glowing red.

The villages and Cloudsdale, one and the same.

A horrible dread settled into her stomach. If Princess Celestia was here...

Where are the dragons now?

“Princess Celestia!” Rainbow bolted from the platform toward the Princess.

“What happened to the dragons?”

Princess Celestia didn't answer for a moment, caught off guard by the sudden question.

“My guard and I were able to drive them off, though not without difficulty,” she said wearily.

“They weren't defeated? Meaning they got away?”

“I have endeavored to avoid death as much as possible,” Celestia said resolutely. “So yes, they were driven off.”

“Where are you going with this Rainbow,” Soarin' asked cautiously.

Rainbow hovered into the air above the group. “It wasn't just a random dragon attack. It's too much of a coincidence.” Rainbow looked at Celestia. “They weren't driven off, Princess. They were directed to come here!”

A massive roll of thunder erupted from outside. Small sparks of static electricity bounced in and out of the Acropolis.

“Who authorized one of the batteries to fire?!” Dark Shot bellowed.

Staffers scurried to and fro around the crystal monitors. “Sir!” One of the junior officers called out from one of the upper platforms. “All batteries are quiet and still in an amber state; none of the cannons fired.”

“Then what was that thunder from?!”

A familiar tension crawled up the back of Rainbow's neck.

“Rainbow!” Soarin' shouted. “It's him!”

But there was no time to react.

White, blinding light suddenly filled the Acropolis, brought on by a massive thunderbolt that cut through the ceiling and landed on the map platform. The shock-wave threw everypegasi from their hooves. Lightning trails splintered from the impact, electrifying the platform with racing bolts.

Rainbow struggled to her hooves, her eyes regaining sight.

The Archon stood at the center of the platform.

“Protect the Commander!” One of the soldiers cried out.

“Stop the the intruder!” Another yelled.

Several of the staffers put themselves between the Archon and Dark Shot, while a trio of armed guards dove from above flying in tandem toward the Archon.

The Archon didn't move.

Even Rainbow couldn't intercept them in time, everything was moving too fast.

The guards tried to body slam the Archon to the ground, but his form shifted, phasing to a black thundercloud as the guards passed harmlessly through, crashing roughly to floor.

Luna and Celestia immediately fired magic beams, one silver one fiery red; at the Archon.

Again the Archon was impassive. His formed shimmered and phased to black storm clouds as the beams passed through.

“Stop!” Rainbow yelled, raising her hooves to settle the group. “He isn't really here.” Luna and Celestia's horns remained lit and bowed toward the Archon, while Armis had brandished his spear, readied low with wings wide. Soarin' stood next to Rainbow, leaning in close next to Scootaloo. Their aural connection hummed between them, sparking and sputtering; protecting them against the Archon's natural essence that filled the Acropolis. She could feel Lightning Streak's plate hum in unison with her aura. An aural barrier projected from it, washing over her body. She made a mental note to discuss the power with Soarin' and Scootaloo later.

All around them pegasi were swaying and clutching their heads, others moaning, eyes clenched shut.

Typhonis stood impassively, surveying the those around him. “I would not try that again,” he said finally, glancing at the guards at his hooves. “I have not come to fight,” he announced. “Only to negotiate.”

“Like Tartarus you have!” Rainbow shot back.

Typhonis' eyes narrowed on Rainbow. “You escaped here then,” he said cooly. Typhonis eyes flitted between the trio. “And another relic it seems...” his voice trailed off.

If the Archon was worried or alarmed, Dash couldn't tell. Even Typhonis' acute powers were dormant as he focused on her, not repeating the crushing aural powers the three of them had experienced at Cloudsdale.

Rainbow's eyes narrowed. Was he really here just to talk?

“I would speak with the leader here.”

Princess Celestia stepped forward from the crowd.

“Typhonis, you-”

Booming laughter filled the Acropolis.

“Nay, not you Celestia,” Typhonis said lightly, composing himself. “I would not sully my time with an imposter.”

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to Rainbow, but to see someone speak to Princess Celestia in a such a way still shocked her.

“I would speak with the commander of this installation.”

Dark Shot pushed past the pegasi protecting him. There was a strain on his face, but Rainbow could see the aural glow hang around his chest. Bright like Spitfire's, it fought against the Archon's latent powers.

“I am Commander Dark Shot,” he said firmly, drawing to his full height, eye level with Typhonis. “I command the pegasi here and across Equestria.”

“Indeed you are,” Typhonis said, bowing slightly to the military pegasi. “As you are now aware, I have returned to restore the pegasi empire. Cloudsdale and her government have already pledged their allegiance to the cause.”

There it is again, Rainbow thought. From Cloudsdale. The sincerity. He actually cares for everypegasi here. Wants them to come... she lingered at the thought. To come home.

“Will you end this needless strife and help me build the pegasus nation?”

“You would ask me to surrender,” Dark Shot replied firmly. “That I will not do. I will not abandon my orders or the precepts of the Hurricane Contingency. My duty is to the pegasi of Equestria. Despite your claims, you are the enemy.”

Rainbow saw the Archon's face sadden. He truly believes he's right, she thought. It's almost tragic.

Typhonis looked about the Acropolis. “I sense Hurricane's presence about you,” he said wistfully. “I should not be surprised he had planned for such an eventuality, even beyond his death,” he said, looking again at Rainbow, Soarin' and Scootaloo. “Even now he opposes my dreams,” Typhonis said in a sad voice.

“Hurricane saw you for what you are!” Soarin' yelled. “A power hungry monster!”

Typhonis' face hardened again. “I will not debate with a foal who knows not the truth of the past,” he said. “I warn you, Legacy Bearer, do not interfere further.” He turned again to Dark Shot. “I had hoped to avoid further bloodshed. I would have all my children together once again,” he said wistfully.

Again Rainbow felt the outpouring of care from the Archon. And... love?

“But I will do what I must for our future.” Typhonis turned to the greater crowd in the Acropolis. “Any who wish to join me need only journey to Cloudsdale. You will be welcomed.”

The Archon turned from the group, toward the edge of the platform.

“You waste your time, Typhonis, Archon of Storms,” Celestia stepped forward again, seething.

Rainbow shivered slightly, inching away from the monarch. The air temperature around the princess suddenly spiked.

“We are united against you. These ponies, these pegasi, will never be your children,” she said sternly. “I will everything in my power to protect every unicorn, earth pony, pegasi and every other creature from you!” She yelled.

The Archon was silent for a moment. He chuckled. Looking over his shoulder, he flashed a wolfish grin. “I know you will Celestia. I'm counting on it.”

The Archon's body disappeared, leaving only the form of a storm cloud puppet. It too then dissipated with a roll of thunder.

Author's Note:

Hello all!

This chapter felt complicated to say the least. I was happy with Windswept's developments, it seems he has made his decision for his own way ahead, but how exactly will he pursue them? I also enjoyed the little bit of world building at Los Pegasus; believe me, its going to make for some great action very soon.

The later half of the chapter was a little dialogue heavy, and while I don't normally like to veer away from the Legacy Bearers, I felt it was important to introduce Commander Dark Shot and showcase the Archon sparring with Celestia. It's something I've had planned out for a while now.

I hope you all enjoyed reading it. Next chapter should come with a lot more action.

Until next chapter,

-secret89