• Published 22nd Mar 2018
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 2 - Never2muchpinkie



The continuing adventures of the now seven years old Pound and Pumpkin

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6-6: Teamwork

Flurry could hardly believe what she was seeing. She could understand Timberwolves and Changelings, but how on earth had that creature managed to get Nightmare Moon?

She bit her lip. “If she’s attacking someone it’s most likely one of those other two kids. She’s an alicorn that was so strong it took the Elements of Harmony to lock her up.” She gulped, not liking her chances of victory. Her adult alicorn sister couldn’t beat her, so did she have any chance?

She steeled herself, trying to ignore the fear blossoming in her chest. “At any rate, this is too dangerous for you kids. You stay here.”

As she went to take off she heard the clear voice of Pound. “No!”

She paused, looking behind her. “Excuse me?”

“No!” he repeated firmly.

She gave him a flat look. “You’re in over your head. I don’t think even I can win here.”

“And that’s why we’re coming with you!” said Pumpkin.

Her eyes narrowed. “Don’t be stupid! I need you guys to stay alive if we’re going to get into the castle. Why are you trying to risk your lives? It’s not your job!”

“And it isn’t yours, either!” said Peppermint. “You’re a kid like us. You shouldn’t have to risk your life at your age.”

Tears welled up in Flurry’s eyes. “B-but who else will? I’m all that kid has to rely on.”

“And that’s why we’re coming along with you,” said Pound. “You saved me and my sister from the Changelings, so I’m going to be there for you during this.”

“And you saved me from the Timberwolves,” said Peppermint. “I may be terrified, but I’m gonna give it all I got too.”

Flurry’s eyes clenched shut as she let out a quiet sob. She really hadn’t wanted to go in alone. She just thought it was her responsibility not to put others in danger.

She wiped her face. “Okay, everyone! Let’s do it!”

They all nodded back.

Nightmare Moon surveyed the area. “You’re a stubborn little rat, aren’t you? You like to hide in the shadows, hmm? Well, that’s okay, because the shadows are what give me my powers too.”

She focused on an odd-shaped shadow. “Got you, little rat.” She lifted up a pile of rubble into the air. “There we go. Now you have no place to hide anymore.” She built up power in her horn.

The head of Masky started coming out of the bottom of the rubble.

“Too late!” Just as she was about to fire a light out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she saw a lightning bolt heading in her direction. “Useless!” She shot lightning out of her own horn, easily overpowering their spell.

The twins jumped out of the way, barely avoiding being fried.

That distraction was all it took for Masky to finish coming out of the rubble. As he started falling toward the ground Peppermint extended her hoof and caught him, setting him gently on the ground.

Masky looked at the group of kids gratefully, recognizing them as the ones from before. “Thank you,” he said.

Pumpkin blushed a bit. “You’re welcome.” After a few moments she pulled her mind back into the battle. She could admire his good looks later.

Nightmare Moon chuckled. “And what have we here? More volunteers to be slaughtered? So who should I start with?” Her horn lit up. “How about… you?”

Flurry gasped as Nightmare Moon looked upward and fired at her. She didn’t have time to teleport or shield herself.

Her body suddenly moved horizontally, avoiding the attack.

“What happened?” Nightmare Moon asked with confusion. “How did you do that?”

Masky chuckled. “That was me!”

Flurry looked at him oddly. Even as she watched his shadow separated itself from hers. ‘Another one,’ she thought. She was starting to think her theory was correct. The draconequus really was after children with special abilities.

“Well, that’s annoying,” said Nightmare Moon. “Ultimately, it makes no difference to me. I don’t care which one of you I take out first.”

With a flash she disappeared, reappearing in front of Peppermint.

The filly let out a squeal, hopping backwards as Nightmare shot a bolt of lightning at her.

Flurry clenched. She wouldn’t be in time.

Peppermint stretched her body unnaturally, avoiding the attack by a hair. A stray bolt still grazed her shoulder, making her wince.

“Peppermint!” Pumpkin said angrily, grabbing Pound and shooting a stream of fire at the mare.

The mare smirked, creating a shield around her and charging the pair. Though Pumpkin concentrated her hardest she wasn’t able to stop the mare’s advance.

Flurry aimed herself downward and shot at the space right in front of the twins.

Nightmare was a step faster than her, though. Upon reaching the twins she didn’t attack, but rather grabbed Pumpkin and threw her upwards right into the path of Flurry’s blast. “One down!”

Pound looked on in horror, knowing he could do nothing to stop it.

Peppermint stretched her upper half, grabbing Nightmare Moon and hurling her upward.

“Tsk!” Nightmare shot a beam of magic upwards, knocking away Flurry’s spell.

Pound flew upwards, grabbing Pumpkin out of the air. He still wasn’t used to the strain of carrying another pony while flying, but he could slow them down enough.

“Enough!”

When they were near the ground Pumpkin gasped as Nightmare appeared right in front of them, and she swatted her off of Pound’s back, knocking the breath out of her as she hit the ground.

“Pumpkin!” Pound said furiously, mindlessly charging at the mare.

“Two down,” she said as she gathered up energy in her horn and fired at him.

Flurry created a shield around Pound, but while she stopped the brunt of her attack she couldn’t stop it completely. Her shield shattered, knocking Pound to the ground right by his sister.

Tears came down her eyes. She knew this was a bad idea. Things were turning out exactly as she thought they would.

“Don’t give up, Flurry!” said Pound as he moved to a kneeling position, panting.

“T-that’s… right,” said Pumpkin as she did the same. “We… we-we’re…”

“G-going to protect you,” finished Pound.

His hoof shaking, he put it out towards Pumpkin, who met it.

“Why?” asked Flurry. “Why are you still fighting? You’re just going to get hurt again.

“Is it just because I’m an alicorn? Or a princess? You’re not a Royal Guard. It’s not your duty to protect me. So please… just stay down.”

Pound huffed. “We… we’re not doing this b-because you’re an alicorn. It’s because… because we don’t want to see you get hurt,” said Pound.

“Y-you’re our friend, Flurry. So… so we’re going to win this!” said Pumpkin.

Flurry blinked as lightning came out of their hooves.

“This again?” said the mare with a bored tone. “It’ll end the same way it did before.” She shot her own lightning at the pair.

Her body suddenly started moving on its own, like she was a rag doll. She glanced down distractedly, seeing that the shadow brat was messing with her. Well… she’d have time to finish him later, after she took care of the other two.

She heard a scream of fury beneath her, and saw Peppermint’s upper half rapidly heading towards her. “You’re not hurting my friends again!”

The filly slammed into her head, making her let out a scream of pain. The pain weakened her focus, and her magic faded, allowing the twins magic to reach her.

Flurry blinked. By working together, these four children were able to reach their foe. It seemed crazy, but they had really done it.

Nightmare Moon descended to the ground. She landed hard, though she stayed standing. She was no longer laughing. “You brats! That hurt! That HURT!” Her horn exploded with power. “Now you all die!” She fired at the others.

Flurry teleported behind the group, extending her wings and wrapping them around them, adding a magic shield on top of it.

She could feel her shield cracking again. It wasn’t going to last much longer, but no matter what happened she wasn’t going to move. They had risked it all for her, so now she was going to do the same for them.

Nightmare was laughing again. “Won’t be much longer now. Just a few more seconds and there will be five dead brats.”

Her laughter was cut short as she felt something tugging at her back hooves. She looked behind her to see that they were starting to sink into the ground. “W-what? What’s going on?” She pulled at the mysterious force.

Masky’s head popped out of the ground, chuckling. “You said you get your power from the shadows, right? So how would you like to become one?”

Nightmare growled. “How dare you!”

With Nightmare’s attention completely on Masky her spell lost the majority of its force. Flurry created one of her magic portals, sucking up her spell.

Nightmare heard the sound of something right in front of her, and gasped as the remains of her spell struck her point blank. Dazed and injured, she was unable to fight back as Masky completely pulled her into the shadows.

Flurry did as Nightmare had done before, pulling up the piece of ground holding her. She encased it in a crystal prison, hoping it would be enough to keep her contained.

Following that, she collapsed to the ground, exhausted.

“Flurry!” Peppermint called out, trotting over to her. “Are you alright?”

“I’m… I’m alright.” Her wings hurt, but for the most part she was just tired from fighting so many battles back to back. “I just… I just need a few minutes to rest.” After a few moments Flurry began gently snoring.

Peppermint thought it best to leave her be for the time being. After all, they were going to need her strength when they came across their next foe. Even so, she stayed nearby. Flurry was defenseless right now.

Masky walked over to Pumpkin. “Hey there. How are you holding up?”

Pumpkin blushed. “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” She got up, nuzzling his face. “I’m Pumpkin Cake. What’s your name?”

“Masquerade Ball,” he replied. “Just call me Masky.”

“Ooh! Your name is cool!”

Masky felt a little uncomfortable with her attention. “Thanksssss.

“So who are you?”

“Pound Cake,” responded Pound as Masky turned to him. “That’s my sister.”

“And over there is Peppermint Swirl,” said Pumpkin. “And the alicorn is Flurry Heart.”

Masky got a cocky look on his face. “Well, thanks for your help and all, but I could have taken care of this myself.”

“Yeah, right!” said Pound. “We just barely managed to beat her with the four of us and an alicorn.”

Pumpkin patted his head. “Come on, you! You don’t need to talk big when you’re already awesome!”

Masky flushed a little.

“Yeah!” said Pound. “We couldn’t have done this without you. Pulling people into shadows? That’s such a cool ability.”

Masky grinned awkwardly. He didn’t want to get too attached to these ponies, but they were making it difficult.

Pumpkin looked at the crystal prison Flurry had created. She could see a shadow moving around inside it. “I’m glad we managed to capture her instead of wiping her out. I don’t know if she’s the real Nightmare Moon, but I don’t think Princess Celestia would be happy if we killed her sister.”

Pound shuddered. “You’ve got a point there.” Looking at Masky he asked, “I’m guessing you didn’t find who was screaming either?”

The colt shook his head. “No. I was looking all over for my parents, and then all of a sudden she came out of nowhere and started attacking me.” He let out a sigh. “If it hadn’t been for my shadow powers I would have been dead a hundred times already.”

The dreamy expression left Pumpkin’s face as she scanned his body. “Are you hurt?”

He shook his head again. “Her first attack missed me, but the impact sent me flying into a house. I was able to use my powers before I got hurt.”

Masky walked over towards Peppermint and Flurry, the twins right behind him. “Is she alright?”

Peppermint nodded. “Just a little wiped out.”

Pound tapped his hoof. “Well, we’ll give her a few minutes to restore her strength, but then we have to keep moving. There’s still that green colt we have to find.”

Masky stretched. “Well, why don’t you watch over her, and I’ll go look for him? Save us all some time.”

“No way!” said Pumpkin, hugging him. “You can’t leave us. We have to stick together out here. It’s too dangerous to go off on your own.”

“I really don’t think something as bad as Nightmare Moon is gonna be out there. And even if there was I can just stay in the shadows the whole time.”

Peppermint shook her head. “You don’t know that, Masky. If we hadn’t showed up when we did you would have died, and there’s no telling what else may be out there.”

“I agree with them,” said Pound. “If we want to get out of here we need to stick together.”

Masky scoffed. “Look, I don’t work well with others, okay?”

“You didn’t seem to be having any trouble working with us earlier.”

He averted his eyes. “Just… look, I can take care of myself. I don’t like to rely on others. They always disappear.”

“Disappear?” asked Pumpkin. “What do you mean?”

Masky was getting irritated. Normally he would just put on his cool, aloof act and pretend to have a connection with them, but he really did feel something for them, and he didn’t like how much he wanted to stay by them. So he would break that connection right now before it could blossom into something more. “It’s not something I have to explain to YOU!” Pumpkin got a hurt look on her face.

“It’s none of your business how I feel! I don’t care about making friends anymore! I never get to keep them! My parents are always moving around because of their job, and every time they do I have to leave someone behind.

“Every friend I make… gone! It’s always the same. I don’t want to feel that same pain anymore, so I don’t have any interest in being friendly with you guys.

“Now stop bothering me! I’m leaving!”

As Masky began to walk away there was a flash, and Flurry appeared in front of him, an angry expression on her face. He recoiled as she slapped him across the face.

“That’s enough out of you!” She had been trying to ignore what he was saying, but he had roused her from her nap.

Masky rubbed his cheek, glaring at her.

“We need you! I ran into the one who put us all in this situation, and he said he’ll only fight us if all six of us were together. If you go off on your own and get killed then all of us will be trapped here forever.

“So stop whining about things and let’s work together.”

“Go find someone else then, jerk! What would you know about my feelings, huh? Fancy princess alicorn. I’m sure you’ve been pampered and treated like gold your whole life. What do you know about feeling unloved?”

Flurry’s eyes narrowed further, and she stomped over to him until they were nearly face to face.

Peppermint felt a little scared. She really didn’t want them to start fighting amongst themselves.

Pound wasn’t sure if he should intervene.

“I know that feeling a lot better than you think,” said Flurry.

“Yeah, right!” said Masky.

“I’m treated like a joke by anyone who isn’t part of my family, because of these.” She unfurled her wings, and her self-consciousness tempered her anger a little. “When I was younger I used to show them off all the time, thinking my wings were cool.

“But as I got older I realized they just made me stand out. I began to notice the stares of others when I’d have my wings out. The adults were too respectful to say anything, but the kids ‘helped’ me by insulting me for them. I began to understand that the adults weren’t looking on with wonder, but they just saw me as abnormal.” She broke eye contact, looking at the ground. “A freak.”

Masky’s anger diminished a little.

“Even when I tried to make friends it always ended terribly. They’d always be too scared to ever be real with me, like I was gonna blow them up if they ever made a mistake.”

She looked up into Masky’s eyes again, tears brimming in them. “Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I could have done more to fight for my friends and keep them around, but I didn’t have time.”

“Didn’t have time?” Masky asked. “You telling me your parents give you royal duties at your age?”

Flurry shook her head. “No. But I knew they were coming. Walking around, with everyone putting pressure on me to be great, or to one day take my mother’s place as leader of the Crystal Empire... because I was born an alicorn I couldn’t escape the expectations of others.

“What would happen if my mother fell to disease or an accident or an attack? Who else would they expect to replace an alicorn leader than another alicorn? I had to spend all my free time learning new spells, or else I wouldn’t be ready for when that time came.”

Flurry fell to her knees, her eyes clenching shut as she hugged herself. “I spent every day in a state of near terror, never knowing when that moment would arrive. And even if my parents might not be dead, the moment I’ve been dreading my whole life is finally here.”

She covered herself with her wings as well as she quietly sobbed. “Here I am, in the middle of nowhere, with some freakish monster threatening all our lives, and I couldn’t beat him. All your lives are in my hooves, and I have to do my duty as a princess to protect you.

“I… I don’t have the strength to defeat him on my own. B-but maybe… if we all work together, we can take him down.”

She looked up into Masky’s face again, barely able to see him through her tears. “Please… don’t leave. I can’t do this myself. I know I might have seemed strong during our battle with Nightmare Moon, but I’m terrified.

“So please… stay with us.” She folded up her wings. “I can’t do this without you.”

Masky hadn’t wanted to listen to her before, but seeing her looking so vulnerable stirred something within him. He didn’t want to see her crying anymore.

He closed the distance between them and hugged her. “Alright,” he said quietly. “I’ll stick by you guys.”

Flurry sniffed as she hugged him back. “Thank you, Masky.”

Masky felt those old feelings creeping up, but couldn’t bring himself to release her. He might not ever see these children again after this adventure was over, but even so he wanted to keep them close by as long as he could.

When Flurry had composed herself she released Masky, giving him a grateful smile. She wasn’t at full capacity, but that bit of rest had done her good.

She was starting to feel really motivated now. “Alright! Just one more to go.”

They didn’t even have to look for him.

There was the sound of an impact in the distance, and a few seconds later the green colt from before flew backwards over their heads with a grunt of pain. Flurry stopped his momentum with her magic, gently setting him down on the ground.

The colt looked a little dazed, but after a few seconds he shook his head and seemed to come back to himself.

“It’s you,” he said, putting a hoof to his forehead and rubbing it. “Owwww!”

“Are you alright?”

“I… I took a hard hit, but I’m alright.”

“It’s okay now. I’ll protect you from whatever monster hurt you. Changelings, Timberwolves... what attacked you?”

“B-but… it wasn’t a monster. It was another pony.”

Flurry’s eyebrow went up. “But who would do such a thing?”

She heard the clopping of hooves behind her, and Tree Leaf tensed. “It’s her!”

Flurry turned her head, her horn glowing as she prepared to deal with this new threat.

Her mouth hung open as she took in who it was, the glow from her horn fading. “No! N-no! It can’t be!"

“So you’re still alive,” said the light-purple-coated pony. “Let’s fix that, shall we?”

“Why? No!” Flurry was shaking again. “A-Aunt Starlight?”

Author's Note:

Their last foe is someone Flurry knows well. Will she be able to fight against someone she considers family?

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