• Published 17th Sep 2017
  • 1,325 Views, 105 Comments

Aggro-Culture: The Story of the Brave Little Bug - kudzuhaiku

Jitterbug, daughter of Junebug, goes off on an adventure of awesome epicness. But first, she has to gather supplies, because she read that adventurers have to do that sort of thing first.

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Beyond the doorway of belief

“This spider, this spy we are going to capture… if we can capture her…” Aunt Nancy sounded a bit doubtful, but also a whole lot cheerful, so that made everything aye-okay. “She is angry and wants revenge. Her mother’s killer is in Canterlot and his family is right here in Ponyville. This spider, she has been forbidden from taking revenge and she has been made to obey, to follow a plan, which shows a powerful level of organisation that is worrisome. Normally, evil is disorganised and fights against itself, which is why the world has not yet been taken over by evil.”

“So good wins because evil is super-mega-dodo-dumb?” Jitterbug interjected.

“Perhaps!” Aunt Nancy began chuckling as he clambered over an enormous fallen log, the tips of his eight legs drummed against the rotten wood. ”But this evil is organised. It has competent leadership. I like to call them the Trio of Terror, but such a whimsical name does a disservice to the wrongness they are capable of. Catrina, Belladonna, and Dark Desire… they bring organisation to chaos, a dangerous thing indeed.”

Jitterbug really wished that she had paid more attention in school because Aunt Nancy didn’t talk to her like she was a foal, no, he spoke to her like an adult to an adult, and some of what he said was tough to understand. Maybe listening a little more in school would be a good thing, since it seemed one needed a bit of vocabulary and comprehension to be an adventurer—and she was most certainly having an adventure!

The log that Aunt Nancy climbed over proved to be a bit tricky for the four-legged filly, and she had to take a couple of tries to scramble over the top, but she managed. Sliding down the other side, she almost ate a faceful of dirt, but twisted herself around at the last moment and landed bottom-first in the loam floor of the forest. How far were they off of the beaten path? Hard to say, but Jitterbug knew the direction home. She could feel it, though she did not understand it, and she knew that she wasn’t lost.

As far as spiders went, Aunt Nancy didn’t seem too bad. Oh, he was big, certainly, and hairy, and he made weird, gross noises when his chelicerae and his pedipalps rubbed together. His eight eyes were shiny and gleamed with oily rainbows. Most everything about him was a handsome black and brown. Of course, the best part was, he was polite and showed no interest in eating her, which was awful nice of him.

“Stop!” Aunt Nancy froze in place near a hollowed out trunk of a decaying tree. “Do you feel that?”

“Feel what?” Jitterbug asked as she came to a stop beside him.

“A wibble,” he replied as he waved three legs about in the air.

This made no sense. “What’s a wibble?”

“Magic sense… concentrate… we have entered into a web that has no webbing.”

Unicorns were supposed to have a magic sense, but Jitterbug didn’t know how to make her’s work. Some unicorns had really powerful magic senses, while others had weak ones, but if you had a magical horn, you had a magical sense, or so it was said. The filly went cross-eyed as she focused upon her horn as a sensory organ, and she thought about the sensations she had experienced earlier when she had pushed the limits of what her magic was capable of.

“Try this, Jitterbug,” Aunt Nancy said as he reached out and touched her cheek.

At his touch, the world exploded with new sensory input and she could feel things with her horn. For a moment, it was overwhelming and far too strong, but then she adjusted to the sensation—perhaps it was like getting into a hot bath—and then she began to make sense of it. There was indeed, a wibble.

“Magic is a funny thing,” Aunt Nancy said in a low, dramatic drawl of a whisper. “Foals… little ones… children… they are capable of strong magic… powerful magic… and as they grow into adults, this magic weakens and is replaced by something else. The magic of make-believe and pretend… this magic is real, but it can only be so when it is believed in. As you grow, as your innocence slowly slips away, you will lose your connection to this weave of magic. There will come a day when you are all grown up and your memory will play tricks on you and you will believe me to be an imaginary friend.”

“Oh, I would never forget you, Aunt Nancy!”

“But you will.” The spider sighed out these words and raised his four front legs. He began tapping them against the air and there was a strange thrumming sound, almost as if a harp was being plucked underwater. “I once knew two very special fillies, and I was their friend. One was gifted with illusion magic, the very magic of imagination, and I taught her much. I gave her my secrets for trickery and I showed her how to walk the web of dreams. I gave her magic that was beyond ponykind and she found purpose. The sisters struggle to even remember me now… but I suppose that I should count myself lucky that they do remember me.”

Jitterbug started to say something, but her eyes decided to play tricks on her. Something that wasn’t quite there appeared, and Aunt Nancy was drumming his legs against it; the glimmering not-quite-real spiderweb. He was doing something to make it real, to make it manifest, and in total silence she watched what he was doing so that she might learn something.

“Even now, I hasten my own death in your perception… I take you into danger… into a battle where you will no doubt grow up and gain maturity. Some of your foalish nature will depart from you, and I will be harder to understand. With time and memory and the passing of many moons, you will wonder how much of this is real and how much of this you imagined. Before this day is done, I fear you will lose me.”

“But I like you and I want to remember you,” Jitterbug said, and she became aware of some strange growing sense of sadness that existed within her.

“We shall see.” Aunt Nancy rested one foreleg upon a strand of webbing that appeared to be quite real. “Draw your sword, tiny warrior, and believe that it is a sword… summon all of your belief and cut this. It bars the way forward into the pocket plane of protection that protects our prey from the watchful eyes of your many princesses.”

Doing as she was bade, Jitterbug drew her spatula and held it aloft. It was a bright, shiny metal spatula with a wooden handle, but she had seen it as a sword once. Sticking her tongue out, she tried to remember what it had looked like as a sword; the bright gleaming edge, the way the steel glinted, the weight and the heft of it.


Imagine that it is a sword,” was Aunt Nancy’s soft-spoken suggestion. “It was your magic that changed it, not mine. I merely made the suggestion, but my suggestion has no power unless you give it life. It is how you give me life. I am only as strong as you make me. For all you know, I might be a teeny, tiny, itty bitty little spider, the terror of Miss Muffets everywhere.”

The feeling of brain freeze returned and with it, the unpleasant, uncomfortable sensation that her horn was being pushed down into her brain. Jitterbug slurped in her tongue, gritted her teeth, and thought about all of the fun adventures she had with her toys and dolls. Epic adventures inspired by what she read in comic books and sometimes Daring Do graphic novels. It wasn’t that she couldn’t read, she just really liked the pictures because it gave her mind something to work with, something to bring to life.

The spatula was now a giant pair of scissors, and Jitterbug was quite surprised. They were heavy and felt quite real—they were scissors, no mistake—and she knew that they would cut the web. Stepping forward, she lifted her magical shears up to the strand of webbing, slipped it between the sharp slicing blades, and with a swift snap of magic, she closed the scissors upon it. The strand of webbing broke and the air around her filled with glittering, glowing orbs while her new sense of magic tingled with alarm.

“She’ll know that we are coming,” Aunt Nancy said, “so be ready.”

Armed with a spatula once more, Jitterbug plowed ahead, determined to face the danger. The sun felt different here, muted somehow, the plants seemed sickly and very little of the sun’s warmth seemed to reach the ground. There were many webs here, and things wrapped up in webs. Bones were visible, awful, icky bones. Some of the bones were white and dry, while other bones were wet, glistening, and icky, covered in gross, indescribable colours.

It occurred to Jitterbug that she was in a lair, like how adventurers like Daring Do went into lairs. Mister Teapot had gone into lairs too. He was known as Spider’s Bane and Jitterbug intended to give him a little competition, if she could. This spider would be her first and she was feeling pretty confident that she could give the spider what for. Maybe not alone, but she had her Aunt Nancy, her fairy godspider with her, so anything was possible, like turning a spatula into scissors.

Understanding what was at stake, she imagined that her Aunt Nancy was big and strong. Aunt Nancy was a big, hulking brute of a spider, but he was also kind and good. An ideal friend and a magnificent fairy godspider, Aunt Nancy would protect her from all harm. At least, Jitterbug did her best to believe in this, as she had seen with the scissors, believing in her own imagination did not guarantee desired results.

The enemy had to know that she had company, because spiders knew when their web was disturbed. Sometimes, Jitterbug liked to go out into the back yard and tweak the webs of spiders, just so she could watch what the spiders did in response. If one twanged the web, the spider would come running out of hiding to investigate what was going on. Most spiders were good spiders who ate the bugs that would ruin the garden that she and her mother depended upon, and she appreciated them for what they were.

“Belief is a powerful thing,” Aunt Nancy whispered as the pair pushed ahead, deeper into the spider’s lair. “If you ponies believe hard enough that you are good at something, you get a silly little mark on your bottoms, a visual, visible-to-all reminder of your belief. If you allow some awful, awful being to convince you that you no longer believe in yourself, the mark will vanish and go away, and with it, your belief and your confidence in yourself. All of your kind are only good at something because you believe in yourselves so strongly. This is quite unique, in my experience.”

This was fascinating, to be sure. Holding both her spatula and her shield for protection, it felt easier doing this now than it had been. Normally, holding her weapon and her shield was quite a strain, but at the moment, it felt quite natural and easy. She held her shield up in front of her face and peered over the top edge of it. The pot lid seemed larger somehow, bigger, thicker, it seemed more like an adequate means of protection, and less like a pot lid.

“It seems I have visitors,” a voice said from all around them and every strand of webbing vibrated with the sound. “So nice of you to invite yourself into my parlour.”

“Show yourself!” Jitterbug commanded and she readied her spatula.

“In due time,” the chilling feminine voice replied from everywhere and nowhere. “You bring a strange light into my lair, a strange light indeed little filly. Who is it that travels with you that wears the guise of a spider?”

“My Aunt Nancy,” Jitterbug replied as she gripped the handle of her spatula even tighter.

“A curious thing indeed.” The voice sounded both bored and intrigued at the same time. “A parasite that isn’t quite a parasite, but also isn’t quite a symbiote. Not a spider, not even a bug. When I kill the filly and suck her dry, you will cease to be a threat, I think—”

“I have chosen my side,” Aunt Nancy retorted, interrupting in a silken voice that was loud and clear. “So long as your kind feeds upon the fears of the young, I will always be a threat! Reveal yourself, you craven coward!”

“Oh, I shall!” the strange voice hissed in reply, and then the ground began to shake.

Her heart thumping against her ribs, Jitterbug prepared for battle…

Author's Note:

Here... we... go!