• Published 2nd Mar 2017
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Land of Equines - Daddy Joe

Who would've thought that being at the wrong place at the wrong time would bring something so surreal.

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Unwanted Territory

Unwanted Territory
April 14th, 2013

Although today was Sunday and I had nothing else better to do, I decided to take a drive to the Everfree Forest and do a inspection since tomorrow night is when I have to head back to the old nightly grind. And to be frank, there hasn't been a smidge of evidence of Timberwolf activity in the Dovere territories. My guess is that they're somewhere hiding deep in the Hueyu and the Batchu territories, but those territories aren't my problem. I'm just glad they aren't a problem right now, but I think I may have discovered another inhabitant who may not be too fond of others invading his territory.

I drove along the southern border line of the Dovere territories, making occasional stops to venture in the Dovere section of the forest to make thorough investigations of the area. Every stop was just the same: I started near the entrance of the Everfree and worked my way up to the border. The way it worked out is that I would probably cover about half a mile of area before heading back and driving over to my next stop.

Before exiting the vehicle for my 17th stop, I lazily slouched on the driver's seat of the Defender and looked at my wristwatch, which read 14:44.

"Gee, I could've stayed home today. No toppled trees, mannequins are fine, no markings." I thought to myself.

Once I situated the straps of my backpack on my shoulders, I headed off into the dense forest in hopes to find something. Yep. This job gets a little dull once I really don't have anything to fight off on my night shifts, but I still know that what I'm doing is for the good and safety for Ponyville.

For a while, I was walking around in the forest and observing my surroundings for the slightest detail or clue that something supernormal or mythical that could've trekked through the area until I found a downed branch in the grass. At first I was just going to brush it off as an everyday branch that snapped off from the wind or something like that. But then I looked at the ground again and noticed a copious amount of green leaves that were shaken off. From their appearance, it looks like they were either ripped into tiny pieces or simply had little tears in them.

"No way a tree squirrel would've done this. Even if it were three times its size."

I set the branch down on the ground a looked up into the tree, finding nothing biological up there, but found a little squirrel hole that was carved on the side of the tree. Curious to see if anything was in it, I peeked my head into the hole, but found nothing inside, but there were a few stone pebbles and acorns inside. I scratched my head in curiosity to why a squirrel would be interested in stone pebbles, which only made me feel a little bit suspicious for some reason. This feeling grew even more when I looked at the bottom rim of the hole and saw two small claw marks that cut through the wood. The claws were far, far too small to be a Timberwolves, but they seemed to be angular and very pointed.

I looked down at the small pebble again, but realized that there was another one that was barely hidden from being obstructed by two acorns next to each other. As I picked up the stone filament to examined it, I saw something that was quite odd. The stone turned out to be a tiny hand from a squirrel, but it was calcified into grayish-white stone.

"Is that a... hand?"

I mean, it had to be a hand of a squirrel. It had the five digits of fingers and claws. Not only that, but the fur that was probably once nice and fluffy was now but jagged edges that stood up on end. This discovery alone made me realize that there is something new around here, but I needed more evidence to know what is truly around here. And so, I put the hand in my pocket and continued onwards, unholstering the Igneous from the right side of my backpack.

I alertly walked along for about a few more minutes before I exited the dense forest and entered a somewhat small clear opening with nothing but tall light green grass. It was strange because the outer rim of this clearing was surrounded by the forest's trees, but it was just this part that was nothing but grass. This made feel very uneasy because this grass was about four feet tall. Even though I could see over the grass, due to my height, I still didn't know what could be in here. I needed to keep in mind that whatever is out here could possibly not be a nocturnal creature. Timberwolves are the only known creature that can only be out at night.

I then pulled out the X-Ray Sensor and pressed the sweep button to check for anything hiding in the grass, and what I got was absolutely chilling. Once the pulse wave swept across the clearing of tall grass, multiple orange x-ray figures of animals were lying across the clearing, motionless. Some were full bodied while some weren't. I stared at the scene for a moment before the x-rays faded, causing me press the pulse button again. I walked up to one of the x-rays that was shattered into tiny fragments and scooped a pile of it into my hand.

"Oh, what the hell." I said to myself as I looked at the fragments.

However, ten feet away from me was a full bodied x-ray figure and I walked over to inspect it. What I found was a rabbit that was stonified with a terrified expression frozen on its face.

"Well, at least they're just turned to stone." I whispered.

I checked out the stonified rabbit for about a minute or so before I unzipped my backpack and stored it inside. Using the X-Ray sensor again, I walked around the clearing and did my best to find more stonified animals that were still in one piece. I found about thirteen more before I only found bits and pieces of the others, and there were lots scattered all over the place.

What I planned on doing next was taking these fourteen animals over to Fluttershy's cottage. I would've taken these animals home with me so that Twilight could reverse the stonification, but she has no spell on to do that. What I'm hoping is that the spell will wear off and Fluttershy will be able to take care of them. I'm pretty sure Fluttershy would gladly oblige to this certain request.

And so, once I had my statues all packed in my backpack pouches, I walked back to the Defender. While I was navigating my way through the forest, I swear that I got this feeling of being watched. I may have been a little bit paranoid at the time, but, argh, it was just that feeling when you think someone's walking up from behind you, but no one's there.

After running to the Defender and starting it up, I took one last in the direction of the clearing. I wish I could say that I wasn't staring at something, but I had a feeling I was. I then thrusted the gearstick into first gear and floored it out of there.

I pulled over and parked the Defender by the side of the path, hid the Igneous, Timberferno, and all my C.A.M.A related stuff under the seats and secret compartments I found, and grabbed my backpack filled with the animals. When I exited the vehicle, I immediately took notice to Fluttershy talking with some of her bird friends while some of her land animal friends huddled around her.

"Hey." I called out.

"Hi there, Caleb." Fluttershy greeted with a wave.

"What's everyone all huddled up for?" I asked.

"Well, I've been helping my bird friends practice their tweets more because they want to have a more lively tone in the morning. And as you can see, we seemed to have attracted an audience," Fluttershy replied. "Oh, and it also seems that you've gotten Harry's attention." Fluttershy said as she looked over me.

I then turned around, expecting another little animal friend like a rabbit or something, but instead I saw an animal who was much bigger.

"Whoa-ho!" I exclaimed in startlement from seeing a bear walking right up towards me.

"There's no need to worry, Caleb. He may look big and scary on the outside, but inside, he's really a loveable lug." Fluttershy assured.

"O-oh yeah?" I asked, still pretty nervous.

Harry stared at me in the eyes and stood on his two hind legs once he got right up to me, towering about two feet higher than me. The more a looked at him, the more I began to believe Fluttershy. Sure, he was a big guy, but he had an expression that made him look more friendly in a way, but still keeping that intimidating bear face. I was at a lost of words and didn't really know how to introduce myself to a bear, but Harry had his own way introducing himself.

"Um... hi there, Harry. Wait, does he even understand what I'm sayi-"

Without warning, Harry brought his furry arms outwards and just wrapped them around me tightly, lifting me off the ground in the process, and emitted a welcoming grunt.

"Mmpf! Nice to meet you too, Harry." I compressively wheezed.

Harry then gently set me back on the ground and waved at me with a growl.

"He's a bit of a hugger." Fluttershy said.

"He sure does put literacy in the term bear hug." I said as I patted Harry on the shoulder, causing Fluttershy to softly laugh.

"Anyways, what brings you here? Did you want to listen to the birds melodies?" Fluttershy asked.

One bird tweeted a short tune to me for a demonstration.

"No, thanks," I replied. "But can we talk inside your cottage for a few minutes?" I replied.

"Sure," Fluttershy obliged. "I'll be right back." she said to her animal friends.

Once we were both inside and the door was closed, I set my backpack on the floor and unzipped it.

"So why did you want to talk in private for?" Fluttershy asked as she sat next to me on her couch.

"Okay, so I was in the Everfree Forest today, and I found these animals that appear to have been turned to stone, Fluttershy." I replied.

"Turned to stone?" she asked with confusion.

I then reached into the backpack and revealed one of the rabbits that was turned to stone.

"Oh, no!" Fluttershy gasped. "W-where did you find these?" she asked as she held the statute close to her.

"Uh, about seven and a half miles south of here," I said, removing more of the statues and sat them vertically on the floor. "I, uh... I was hoping you could watch over these fourteen animals and monitor them. Just incase if the stonification wears off."

"Oh, absolutely. I'll set up food bowls next to each individual animal. If they unstonify, then they'll have something to eat after all the time of being turned to stone." Fluttershy said.

"Great idea, Fluttershy. I think it should be best if your animal friends don't see any of these." I said.

"I agree. It would probably be too scary for them if they saw these poor things." Fluttershy agreed.

Right after she said that, me and her both noticed Angel walk into the room, his mouth agape.

"Angel! Don't look!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

Angel then went on his hind legs, brought his paw over his forehead and fainted onto the floor. Fluttershy rushed over towards him to his aid.

"Just find a spot to hide the statues, if you'd please." I said as I grabbed my backpack.

"I got it." Fluttershy said as she splashed a little bit of water onto Angel's face, waking him.

I then walked to the door, but Fluttershy seemed to have the same idea of what was doing this.

"Caleb, wait!" Fluttershy called out.

"Yes?" I asked as I turned towards her.

"I think I might know what could've done something like this." Fluttershy said.

"Really? What do you think it is?" I asked, even though I already knew what did this.

"Well, about two years ago or so, I encountered a creature called the Cockatrice."

"Just as I suspected," I said as I nodded my head. "Head of a chicken, body of a serpent, and has wings?" I asked.

"That's it!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "How did you know?"

"I know my mythical creatures, but thanks for the answer anyways. I'll try to figure something out and maybe I can resolve this problem." I said.

"I could help. I can use my stare to intimidate him away." Fluttershy said.

"A stare?" I asked.

"Yes. It works on almost anypony, even the Cockatrice. My stare has the ability to intimidate others. It may sound crazy, but it's true." she replied.

I thought for a moment in silence.

"I appreciate the offer to help, Fluttershy, but this is something that needs to go away. Forever." I said.

"Oh, um, are you sure you want to go down that route? Maybe we can reason with it or something." Fluttershy said timidly.

"I don't think that'll work out with a Cockatrice. Judging by what I saw in that clearing, the Cockatrice is something that is not only a threat to Ponyville, but for the animals that live in the area. It must be stopped, Fluttershy." I said.

Fluttershy looked back at the statues before she nodded her head with agreement.

"Maybe you're right. I'll make sure to stay here and watch over them." Fluttershy said.

"Good. Thanks for being the kind mare you are." I said.

"You're welcome, Caleb." she replied.

Fluttershy then collected the statues and flew into another room to hide them while I walked out of her cottage. When I walked out, Harry gave me a small daisy, which I guess is a sign of friendship.

"Oh, thanks, Harry," I said as I inspected the flower. "Y'know, you remind me a lot of Fluttershy. Guess it's because you spend time with her."

Harry nodded his head and lowly grunted.

"All right, well, you guys keep right on it with your melodies." I said to the birds, which they responded by singing another tune towards me.

After that little visit, I got into the Defender and drove back to the library.

"Hello-hello." I said as walked into the library.

"Wow, you've been gone for a long time. Didn't you leave here around eight in the morning?" Spike replied as he read one of his comic books on the couch.

"Yeah, I was just taking a drive, remember?" I said.

"Where? Half way across Equestria?" Spike asked.

"Well, I did stop at Fluttershy's for a while, but I took a hike through the forest, too." I replied.

"That explains." Spike said.

"Where's Twilight?" I asked.

"She's upstairs, writing a letter to Princess Celestia for the week."

"Ah. I think I'll go write one to my old history teacher." I said.

"All right." Spike said as he continued to read.

When I got upstairs to get a piece of paper and a quill pen, Twilight appeared to be proof-reading her letter at her desk.

"Hey Twilight." I said.

"Hi, Caleb. I'm just finishing up my friendship lesson letter for Princess Celestia."

"What did you learn?"

"That I should stop worrying about the smallest things and let the future handle itself."

"Sounds pretty good. Now I know a decent friendship lesson."

"Were you wanting to write a letter too?" she noticed as I waited for her to get off her stool.

"Yep. Gotta send my weekly report to Night Hunter." I said softly, making sure that Spike couldn't hear.

"No problem. Desk is all yours." Twilight said as she moved away from the desk.

Twilight then walked downstairs to have Spike send the letter to Celestia. I on the other hand, moved the stool out of the way and got on both of my knees. I then got a piece of blank paper, dipped the quill into ink, and began to write.

Dear Night Hunter,

Though most of the past week's letters may have been pretty boring, I just want to say right off the bat that this week's will be a bit more interesting. Night Hunter, I have found evidence of the Cockatrice about eight miles south of Ponyville, next to the Dovere border. Its territory appears to be an abnormally clear opening, and I say abnormally because all around this clearing is the dense forest. I just find it odd that this one section is clear of any vegetation except grass and perfectly spherical. Therefore, I plan on engaging the Cockatrice tomorrow night and will set up a trap today. First, I'll cut down as much grass I can to make it as short as possible, place a mannequin in the center, and will be able to nab the Cockatrice with the Ingenous from a good sniping distance. But I'll have to be careful while setting this up because this thing can still come out during the day, so that's a small downside. However, I could probably fix this problem with my camo outfit so that I'll be less obvious. If things don't go as I plan and goes down south on the night I confront the Cockatrice, I will be sure to have an escape plan because as you know, this thing has powers that are very dangerous, so don't worry about me. Other than this discovery, I have found nothing else suspicious in the Dovere territories. Heck, not even Timberwolf activity. But anyways, this is my report of the week, and I'll explain what happens in the next letter.


Agent Barlow

"That looks pretty good." I said as I skimmed over my letter.

After proof-reading my letter as well, I folded my paper and put it into an envelope. Once the address and everything was written on the envelope, I drove off to the post office to mail my letter.

Author's Note:

Stonification isn't a real word, but Caleb Barlow sure doesn't seem to know that.

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