• Published 10th Jan 2018
  • 2,708 Views, 228 Comments

Back and There Again - Sun Sage



A strange gem takes Rarity to a world she almost recognizes. She's going to make it back home no matter what, but she might need some help to do it. And why is it all so familiar?

  • ...
5
 228
 2,708

21. Side by Side

Between Johnathan and Rarity they were able to shield everyone well enough to traverse a short distance via Aiden’s portals. Rarity was a bit surprised how easy it was to channel magic for such a shield, despite not having done it before. Between seeing it, more importantly feeling it, and a brief bit of advice on fine-tuning from both Aiden and Johnathan; it wasn’t difficult. She probably could’ve handled it herself, but she got the sense Johnathan wanted to feel useful. It was a bit odd coordinating the shield with him; she wasn’t used to being the one having to hold back so others could keep up. If anything though, it was more useful practice than simply outputting at a convenient level and holding it. This took more control, and that would be… what, exactly? She wasn’t sure, but she couldn’t help feeling that this would be somehow helpful. All too soon, the group found themselves safely within the cluttered remains of the Fort Friendship’s garage. Most of the vehicles had been destroyed, and none had escaped the carnage unscathed. At the elevator, two golems made of metal seemed to be guarding the door.

“Well well well… if it isn’t the A Team,” the gold one said.

“It isn’t,” the red one answered before any of them could.

“Oh right. So… it’s… you! ...How bout that…?”

Grumman sighed. “Tom… Crow… what are you two doing out here?”

“Guarding the elevator, sir!” the gold one replied.

“Awaiting further orders, your lord high Generality, sir!” the red one chimed in.

“Tom… I’ve asked you not to call me that.”

“Yes you did, and it was a request, not an order!”

“Consider it an order.”

“Consider me not in the military!”

“...”

“Tom, not now,” Valerie said tiredly.

“Understood, ma’am. I’m sorry, ma’am.”

“It’s fine, Tom. You and Crow are relieved here. Go down to heavy weapons storage and clear out sufficient space to park the ship we’ve brought. Given our losses during the recent attack, it shouldn’t take much, and we can’t do anything with it while it’s in Aiden’s pocket dimension.”

“On our way, ma’am!” With that, the two of them summoned and boarded the elevator.

Grumman eyed Valerie sidelong. “I wish you’d programmed them to be a bit less snide.”

Valerie grimaced. “It was… mostly Bradley’s ideas there.”

Grumman winced. “I take it back; they’re fine as they are. Speaking of which though… I have two more letters to write, after we visit the infirmary to pay our respects. Rarity, Aiden, I’m afraid I have to insist you both come along. You won’t be able to attend any funerals for them.” As he said that, the elevator dinged back to their level, and they all boarded for the upper floor.

Aiden nodded grimly. “No one knows we’re involved, if we were seen… especially Rarity…”

“Exactly.”

Rarity sighed deeply, and while it was mostly sadness for those that had died, there was a hint of frustration in it. “I understand the reasoning, but I’ve never been fond of avoiding attention. This isn’t just my ego talking either… the world should know what they fought and died for. They deserve that much.”

“I agree wholeheartedly, Miss Rarity. But for now, honoring what they fought for means keeping you as safe as we can. And that means-”

“Yes, General, I know,” Rarity grit her teeth. “I just don’t have to like it.” Aiden’s hand found her withers, squeezing gently in support. She leaned against him, focusing on the contact rather than her anger.

“I understand, Miss Rarity. Believe me, I do. For now, let’s say our goodbyes in private, as befits a family. Their own families will each get the chance to do the same. And sometime soon, they’ll know the good cause that we’ve all fought for.”

------------------------------------------

Hamada was waiting for them in the infirmary, alongside five covered, occupied beds. Each covering sheet had a name, but the faces were covered. With a slight grimace, Rarity realized they didn’t have the sorts of deaths that went with open caskets.

It was… easier than she had thought it would be. Perhaps it was that she’d already steeled herself, or simply the honest fact that she had really only met any of them once. That their faces were covered might have been intentional as well. She felt a deep sadness at their loss, and still a twinge of guilt, but she didn’t break down. This situation, these brave men and women… they deserved her strength, not histrionics. Grumman said a few words, and Rarity somehow knew she’d always remember them.

“We won’t ever forget. We walk forward because you gave us the chance to keep doing so. The world is better for your time in it, and poorer for your loss. We’ll do everything we can to build a better one, to honor all that you made possible. Rest well, we’ll take up your burdens from here.”

Valerie smiled softly. “See ya around, Bradley. I’ll try to keep Tom and Crow in line.”

Aaron saluted. “Save us a seat at the table, guys. We don’t plan to join you soon, but we’ll get there.”

------------------------------------------

Meditation had once been a curiosity for Rarity, and little more. It was useful for unicorns with stronger magic, or who studied to increase their ability. It was particularly important for those who had a special talent for magic, as their emotions could amplify their power to a dangerous degree. She still remembered Twilight bursting into (thankfully harmless) flames in her frustration at Pinkie. It seemed Starlight had similar power, and Rarity wouldn’t be surprised to hear Sunset did as well. That wasn’t even going into what the alicorns could do…

But Rarity? She’d never considered herself strong enough to need that sort of concentration. Oh, she’d put a great deal of effort into improving her telekinetic control, and the few spells she knew she knew well enough to cast practically in her sleep. But improving her magic for its own sake, like Twilight had? That had never really occurred to her, until recently.

She slowly exhaled through her nose. Joyeuse, floating in front of her, sung quietly in the recesses of her mind. Aether flowed around and through her; it too sang of life, serenity, and beauty. The earth beneath her was austere, strong and reliable. She could share it with every step, even above the ground as she was in their room. The air around her brought life and warmth, urging her forward with calm patience. Through the open window, nature sang its song to her, vibrant life begetting more magic. Aether flowed gently around the spirals of her horn, lifting another object in the room. That made forty-two, perfectly positioned in the air around her. Their pattern changed, reflecting her thoughts.

She remembered the pain of her time in the lab. Her ear flicked, but her concentration didn’t waver. The warmth of the flower tucked by that ear offset the unpleasant memory. Understanding what she could overcome made the memory a source of strength.

She remembered watching Samuel die. Her jaw clenched; still the magic flowed without wavering. Betrayal was another pain she could draw strength from, but it was different. She remembered too that it wasn’t watching Samuel die for his betrayal… it was watching Aaron, her friend, protect her. It was seeing Aiden, Donovan, Valerie, and Talia all doing the same. The bonds they had forged… those were her strength as well. Another object lifted… until it coughed.

Rarity opened her eyes, and giggled. “Sorry, darling.”

Aiden, floating in the air in a sitting position, pretended not to notice, hiding his face behind a translated copy of Grumman’s Equestrian tome. “Just sitting here, reading about ponies and such. Not floating in the air because my roommate keeps levitating me because she’s bored or anything…”

She grinned, shutting her eyes again and setting him gently back down. His aether… and the aether in the air that flowed through and around him… they were comforting as well as bolstering. She hoped it was the same for him. “I am not bored, darling. I am waiting for the opportunity to start working again, which will be tomorrow. In the meantime, I am practicing channeling more aether while feeling the various flows in forms I had never noticed back in Equestria.”

“It’s impressive work. I’m good with a dozen or so objects at once, but past that I start losing track of what I’m doing.”

“I honestly think it’s the windchimes in your head,” she continued grinning at him, but kept her eyes shut as her levitated army of clutter shifted patterns, forming the rough shapes of a pony and human dress form. “Besides, I get the feeling you’ve focused on force rather than precision and multitude. I once watched Twilight lift over one hundred tons, and on another occasion throw To- a boulder through her own house.”

Aiden cocked an eyebrow. “Twilight sounds a bit high strung.”

Rarity giggled. “Far be it from me to call anypony such, but… perhaps a bit. She’s also a wonderful, amazing friend who has saved Equestria on multiple occasions. She’s Princess Celestia’s pride and joy, with good reason.”

“As I recall, you played a bit of a roll in a few of those ‘save the world’ missions yourself. ...Despite being a, what was it? ‘Simple businessmare’?”

Rarity pawed the air at him. “Oh, I may have helped a bit where I could, but I’d say my friends deserve more credit. Alas, you’ve been unfortunate enough to meet the least remarkable of us.”

Aiden snorted. “I don’t think false modesty suits you. ...Speaking of suits though… that’s an interesting pattern you’ve weaving there.”

“I did tell you I intended to design something for you. After seeing that you took almost nothing in terms of clothing from your home I can only assume your need for something formal to wear is pressing.” She opened one eye to glare playfully at him. “You do intend to wear something nice to our victory party before taking me home, don’t you?”

He blinked, then smiled. “I imagine so. Wouldn’t do to offer a lady such as yourself a dance while dressed like a hobo.”

“It most certainly wouldn’t,” she agreed, smiling at the ‘dance’ part. “I’m not sure how well either of us will pull off dancing together-”

“Oh, it’ll probably be terrible. I can dance, but not that well. But that’s with humans, with you I’ve no idea how to go about it.”

“Similar issues here, I must assume. Although I can manage on two legs if I’ve you to lean on.”

“You already know the answer to that. And hey, at least I can’t step on your feet!”

She snorted a laugh. “True enough. In any case, I’ll see to it we at least look fabulous while stumbling around each other.” With that, the laptop that had been part of her levitated menagerie opened as it floated over to her. The rest of the objects found their original positions. Her magic began typing a search as she went back to considering which fashions and styles she liked best from what Earth had to offer.

“All done with the magic practice?”

“In a sense, though as you’ll see dress design isn’t dissimilar to what I’ve been doing, at least for me.”

“We’re still waiting on-”

A knock at their door interrupted him. “Got the supplies Rarity wanted! Donovan had them in his room,” Aaron’s voice came through.

Rarity smiled at Aiden, and her magic opened the door for Aaron. “Waiting on him, yes.”

Aiden chuckled, and turned to Aaron. “Just set them anywhere, she can grab whatever she needs as she needs it. Speaking of Donovan though, how are they all doing?”

Aaron put three large bags containing fabrics, threads, and various tools on the coffee table. “He and Vera will be up and about in a few days, but full recovery will take more like two weeks. They’ll both be conscious tomorrow though, if you want to stop by and see them.”

“There’s not even a question of that, darling,” Rarity said absently, looking over her computer.

Aiden nodded his agreement. “Thanks for bringing these by, Aaron.”

“No problem. It was a nice break from clean up and repair duties. I’m not really trained for any of the technical stuff, so I’m mostly carrying heavy things.”

“Huh… surprised Grumman didn’t ask us to help with that.”

“He said you two needed some alone time,” Aaron grinned.

Aiden rolled his eyes.

“Jokes aside, he did say you didn’t need to be helping rebuild the base. The damage is mostly to the outer structure and the parking garage. The robots are doing the real heavy lifting, and you VIPs are staying out of sight just in case some photographer manages to get inside the perimeter. There’s still several snooping around out there, and some have those drone cameras, you know?”

Rarity blinked, and looked over at the open window. Aiden followed her gaze. “Someone… might have mentioned that to us sooner. Third floor or not we aren’t invisible up here.”

“Huh,” Aaron said, looking over at the window. “Eh, I’m sure it’s fine. I mean, what are the odds some photographer would get a clear shot through this particular window?”

Aiden facepalmed, Rarity facehoofed.

------------------------------------------

“You know, it’s really impressive that you were able to design a dress and suit in a single day, much less complete the work putting them together from scratch.”

“It’s what I do, darling.” The two sat together on the couch, watching the News after a relatively calm day of Rarity working on her designs and Aiden reading through Equestrian early history.

“What surprises me most is your focus. Given all the distractions and noise around here, what with the rebuild… and that.” He gestured to the television.

“More to come on this staggering new development! What exactly are we seeing in this photograph? A new design of robot? A toy line based on the mythical unicorn? Or a new type of alien designed to fool us with its cute appearance? Speculation continues as our reporters on the scene search for answers. Our live coverage will continue after these messages!”

“Yes, that has certainly been a distraction at various points. Aiden dear, would you care to make us another pot of coffee? Ironically I think it would be relaxing right now.”

“Most certainly, Rarity. I’ll go do that…”

Author's Note:

No time for an editing pass, so sorry if this is a bit rough. I'll look it over on the plane. Day got hectic, but I really wanted to get this up before the trip. If you're at EFNW, see ya there! I'm usually the tallest guy in the room, so I can't hide.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!