• 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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6-7: Broken

Flurry was in shock. Starlight Glimmer had been the one attacking the green-coated colt?

The Starlight she knew wouldn’t do this.

Tree Leaf let out a squeal as he was covered in a magical aura and lifted into the air.

“Let’s finish you off now!” said Starlight.

As Starlight fired at him Flurry extended both her wings upward, and the magic deflected around him.

Her wings had always been unnaturally strong. Now that she came to think about it, she had an unusual ability herself. It was similar to Peppermint’s, but she could only stretch out her wings, not her whole body.

Tree Leaf let out a sigh of relief as Flurry set him back on the ground. “T-thank you,” the scared colt said.

“Get up, loser!” said Pound. “You can thank her later, after we defeat this one!”

Flurry’s head shot around towards Pound.

Tree Leaf got up, and moved next to Pound. “Think you’re a real tough guy, huh?”

“I think I could beat you.”

“Well, I’m willing to go at it after we take her down.”

“So what can you do? All of us have a special ability. You got one too, right?”

The colt nodded, transforming into a rhino. “I’ll get her attention,” he said in a quieter voice, “then you attack her.”

“Got it!” After a few moments Pound added, “That’s actually really cool. Stop making me like you when I want to hate you.”

Tree Leaf laughed, charging at Starlight. “Right back at you!”

Starlight shook her head. “I guess you didn’t learn from our last battle.” She levitated herself ten feet in the air. “Now what?”

The mare’s eyes widened as Tree Leaf appeared to continue his charge in the air, but it turned out to only be Peppermint lifting him up. She had tried to catch Starlight off guard, but Tree Leaf was just too heavy in his current state, and the two of them dropped to the ground.

Starlight began laughing, finding the spectacle hilarious.

“She’s off-guard!” Pound whispered loudly to Pumpkin. The two of them touched hooves, and shot a bolt of lightning at her.

Starlight noticed too late the attack coming her way, but just before it hit her a yellow shield appeared.

“Huh?”

Starlight’s magical aura was blue. The only one among them with a yellow aura was-

“Flurry!” said Pound, confused. “What are you doing?”

“Why are you protecting her?” Tree Leaf asked. “You saw what she did to me.”

Flurry looked ashamed as her spell faded. “I… I can’t let you hurt her!”

“What?” asked Pumpkin. “Why not? We have to beat her or-”

“NO!” Flurry yelled. “You’re not touching her!”

Peppermint felt like something was off. Flurry looked almost crazed.

“S-she’s part of my family!” said Flurry, tears coming down her eyes.

“And she’s trying to kill us!” said Tree Leaf.

“S-she wouldn’t! There has to be a mistake.” Starlight was the only familiar face she had seen since they started this crazy adventure. She trusted the mare with all her heart.

Starlight was also an extremely powerful unicorn. If they could just get her on their side then she’d feel much better about their chances of getting out of this.

Flurry teleported in front of Starlight. “Aunt Starlight! What are you doing? Why were you attacking that boy?”

“Flurry Heart,” said Starlight in a neutral voice.

Flurry nodded. “That’s right. It’s me.” She was shaking slightly. “I… I-I-I know. There’s been so much crazy stuff in this world that it’s hard to trust anything. I… I bet you felt like you had to attack everything around you, right? It was the only way to feel safe, right? Right?”

They could all hear the hopeful tone in Flurry’s voice.

Tree Leaf felt uncomfortable. Could it actually be true that this Starlight was just paranoid being in this alternate world?

Starlight floated toward her, rubbing her cheek. “Oh, Flurry. It’s nice to see someone I know.”

The fear went out of the filly. “That’s right. It’s okay now.”

“I don’t think it is.”

Flurry looked down at the ground. “Well… maybe not yet, but I’m sure if we all work together that we’ll find a way out of this.”

“Oh, that’s not what I’m talking about.” She stopped her rubbing motions.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m talking about THIS!” She lifted her hoof up, then socked Flurry in the face.

The surprised filly was unable to get her bearings in time to stop herself, and went crashing into the ground. She bounced off the earth once, landing on her stomach.

“Flurry!” screamed Peppermint, stretching her body to sit in front of her.

Tree Leaf turned into a mouse, hopping onto Peppermint’s shoulder. “Give me some momentum. I’ll transform mid-flight and get her properly this time.”

The filly nodded. She stretched her front leg back twenty feet, then tensed her limb before quickly releasing it.

Pound and Pumpkin also prepared a spell, shooting a stream of fire this time.

Starlight just laughed dismissively. “What are you expecting that to do? All I have to do is move a few feet.”

Masky growled. "No, you don't!" He stretched his shadow over to Starlight.

As she went to move Starlight found herself stuck in place. “Huh?”

Tree Leaf turned into a rhino again as he got near.

Pound was suddenly yanked backward, falling on his back. Without their connection Pumpkin’s magic weakened considerably, fizzling out before it reached the mare.

Tree Leaf slowed down mid-air, and gravity quickly brought him heading toward the ground. He transformed again, this time into a bird. When he touched the ground he returned to normal.

Flurry looked a little dazed, wobbly on her hooves as she stood up.

“Flurry,” Pumpkin said exasperatedly. “Knock it off!”

“No!” she replied strongly. She placed the five of them in close proximity, a sphere appearing over them.

Pound put his hooves out, finding it solid to the touch. “Flurry, what are you doing?”

“I… I can’t let you be part of this battle.”

“Flurry! I thought you trusted us.” He slammed his hooves against the barrier, but it didn’t give.

Flurry winced, tears coming down her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry!”

Starlight landed on the ground, watching them quietly.

Masky tried sinking into the shadows in order to escape, but Flurry had accounted for that. The shield extended underground too.

Peppermint gently put a hoof on the barrier. “If you’re sorry then let us out. We want to help you.”

Flurry’s body tensed. “I… I can’t. I can’t! Starlight… Starlight is a part of my family.

“I wondered why I was the only one that didn’t hear a family member screaming when that draconequus split us all up. Now I get it.”

“Get what?” asked Pound.

“I’ve known Starlight since I was a baby. I know she would never attack me. It might be just another Changeling, but a regular Changeling wouldn’t have magic like this. So that means it has to be mind control.”

Starlight began laughing, her head going back as she laughed and laughed.

When she got herself under control she wiped a tear from her eye. “Oh, Flurry. Flurry, Flurry, Flurry. You’re so charmingly naïve.” She smirked. “I’ve never been on your side.”

“Shut up! I know that’s not you talking.”

Starlight began walking toward her. “All those years ago, I hated Twilight Sparkle for taking my village away from me. I tried time travel, to ensure that Twilight and her friends never met up with one another.”

Pound blinked. Starlight had that kind of power?

Pumpkin just gaped.

“However, that didn’t work out too well. As frustrating as it was, Twilight and her cronies were necessary to Equestria. Without them to wield the Elements of Harmony it led to terrible worlds where other villains had conquered Equestria. The final stop on that journey led to an empty wasteland, where it looked like there were no survivors.”

Flurry hopped backwards to get some distance, and Starlight stopped her advance.

“In the end, I had to let time go as it should. Peace returned to Equestria, which is exactly what I wanted. I knew Twilight wouldn’t just leave me be, so I pretended to feel remorse. I told her that she could decide my punishment, knowing that the gullible fool would have to accept my apology.”

Flurry’s mouth felt dry.

Starlight snickered. “And of course she did. She bought my sob story just as I expected her to.

“Then it was just a simple matter of playing my cards right and biding my time. I let her teach me about friendship, earning her trust. Just as I expected, she eventually trusted me enough to let me go off on my own. My good old friend Sunburst was there, after all. What better excuse did I need to move into the Crystal Empire? And, as he was your crystaller, it also provided the means to allow me to get close to you.”

Flurry shook her head. “No.”

Starlight ignored her, slowly walking in a circle around Flurry, but keeping her distance. “Sunburst provided the perfect distraction to get the others to buy that my redemption was genuine. Your dear mother and father believed it so much they even began to allow me to be a caretaker for you. I got to be the one to help teach your magic while your parents were busy ruling the kingdom and training the Royal Guards.”

Flurry was twitching a bit, not liking where this was going.

“It was the perfect plan, really. Through Sunburst it got me in good with you. And through you it put me in a position close to your parents. It gave me the opportunity to find out everything I needed to know to crush the empire and take it over for myself. All I’ve been waiting for is the right opportunity… and it’s finally here.”

The filly was shaking now, unable to believe what she was hearing. “N-no. It’s… you… I don’t…”

I’m the reason you’re here, Flurry.”

“No!” Flurry said, finally getting some of her strength back. “It wasn’t you. It was him. That weird creature.”

“He was the one who brought you here, but I was the one who told him about you.”

Flurry’s eyes clenched shut. “No! I don’t believe it!”

“It was a long wait, but I found my patience. Over the years I’ve learned many useful things, like the guard schedules. Most important of all, I discovered a way to deactivate the Crystal Heart barrier without shutting off the function that keeps us all from freezing to death. With a kingdom of mostly earth ponies it should hardly be any trouble to take care of them.

“The only thing standing in the way of my conquest… is your dear old mom and dad.”

Flurry felt like she couldn’t get enough oxygen in her system. This was wrong. Everything was wrong!

Starlight chuckled, finally stopping her circling as she stood in front of Flurry, once more gently rubbing the filly’s face. “Everyone has a weakness. You know that, don’t you? And their weakness… is you.”

Flurry slapped Starlight’s hoof away, gasping for breath.

Starlight lost her smug grin for a moment, but it quickly returned.

Flurry covered herself in her wings, wrapping them around her like a blanket as she quietly sobbed.

Pound was slamming on Flurry’s shield as hard as he could, but all of them were still trapped within. He couldn’t stand listening to this anymore.

Tree Leaf was likewise going on the attack, transforming into different animals, but he couldn’t break her shield either.

Tears dripped down Peppermint’s face. She so wanted to give Flurry a hug.

“Oh, Flurry,” said Starlight in a condescending baby voice. “Does you want to come out and play?”

She poked her head over Flurry’s wings, but could only see the top of her head.

Starlight put her hooves on Flurry’s wings and pulled.

In a fit of panic Flurry screamed, shoving her wings at the mare and extending them twenty feet to get Starlight away from her.

Once more Starlight lost her smile, but like before it quickly returned. “Does it hurt, Flurry? Does it hurt knowing the truth?” Power started to build up in her horn. “Let me tell you what’s going to happen. Once I take care of you I’ll throw your body in front of your dear parents. They’ll be furious, but before that they’ll feel despair greater than any they’ve ever known. And that’s when I’ll strike.

“Without the Crystal Heart and those powerful shield users I’ll easily take care of whatever small threats remain, and become the undisputed master of the Crystal Empire. But take heart. I won’t harm your little sister. She’ll make a great apprentice. Aren’t I merciful?”

Flurry’s eyes had gone blank. How could this be? How had she been so foolish all this time? How could she not see what Starlight was like deep inside, after all the time they spent together?

She wasn’t naïve. She knew about Starlight’s past. In fact, Starlight herself had been the one to tell it to her.

Since she had been a toddler she had interacted with Starlight. Over the years she had bonded with her. Starlight had taught her spells, and was always there for her when she needed to talk.

During the rough days, when she hadn’t been able to make friends, Starlight had encouraged her and cheered her up. She had been there during the wedding, when Starlight had married Sunburst.

She trusted Starlight, and felt the same amount of respect for her that she did for her mom and dad and Twilight.

One day, after telling her how much she loved and trusted her, Starlight had looked uncomfortable.

***

Starlight sat down, asking her to do the same. “Flurry, I need to talk to you… about something important.”

“What is it, Aunt Starlight?”

Starlight sighed, steeling herself. “I’m very grateful that you love and cherish me so much, but-”

Flurry smiled. “Of course I do! You’re one of the greatest ponies I know. You’re smart, and good with magic, and you’re always nice to me.”

Starlight hesitated, then said, “I wasn’t always this way.”

“Hmm?” Flurry’s head tilted. “What do you mean?”

Starlight looked into her eyes. “I feel like… eventually… you will find out the truth about me. And… I would rather you hear it from me than somebody else.”

Flurry felt a little afraid, not liking where this was going.

And so Starlight told her about her beginnings, how she felt cutie marks just drive others apart, and that they were bad things. She told her about starting a town without cutie marks, how Aunt Twilight and her friends had disrupted everything she had built, and about her time-travelling revenge scheme to try and ensure Aunt Twilight never met her friends in the first place.

It was a lot to take in for the filly. She had only known the good Starlight. The Starlight she heard about seemed like a complete stranger. She couldn’t imagine that the one standing before her, and the one she was told about, were the same pony.

After what felt like forever she finally came back to herself, seeing Starlight waiting for her response. She had felt a sense of betrayal at the time, her eyes filling with tears as she smacked Starlight as hard as she could, and ran off crying.

Over the next few days she kept to herself, trying to process the enormity of the revelation she had been given. Starlight didn’t try to intrude on her, leaving her be.

Sunburst eventually came to see her. She had a soft spot for him. He had been her crystaller, after all, and always looked after her well-being since she was a baby, from before the time that Starlight came to live there.

“Starlight told me about what happened,” said Sunburst as he sat on the edge of her bed. He coaxed her over, and she eventually sat on his lap.

It was quiet for the next few minutes. Flurry eventually looked up into his eyes. “Did… did you know about what Aunt Starlight did, Uncle Sunny?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“S-she… she hurt Aunt Twilight. How should I feel about that?

“And you married her! You think it’s okay what she did?”

Sunburst ran a hoof through her mane. “The mare I married is different from the one that travelled through time and tried to hurt your aunt. She did some bad things, for sure, but she’s become a better mare now. She’s sorry for what she did, and wishes that she could take it back.

“I can’t make you forgive her, but she did go out of her way to tell you the truth. She risked having you hate her forever, simply because she wanted to be honest with you. She wanted to feel worthy of the love and respect you have for her, and she knew if you ever heard about her past from someone else that you would feel like she lied to you.”

Flurry wiped her face. “Do… do Mom and Dad know about what she did as well?”

Sunburst nodded. “They do, indeed. But just like Twilight herself, the one Starlight hurt the most with her actions, they knew that she had changed. Even knowing what she had done in the past, they still believed in the goodness she had inside, so once she moved to the Crystal Empire they let her watch over you too.”

Sunburst gave her a hug. “Starlight’s love for you isn’t fake. She truly cares for you, Flurry. If you trust me, then please... believe these words.”

***

And she had believed them. All the important people in her life had trusted Starlight despite knowing her past, so she had been able to put aside her own hurt and forgive her for her revenge plot.

It only took a few more days before she had basically completely forgotten about the confession and was able to be as close to Starlight as she had been before.

Starlight had done nothing to betray that trust since that moment… until now. She couldn’t fathom it. She couldn’t comprehend it. She had truly believed in Starlight, but now it turned out the mare had only been biding her time, waiting for the right moment to strike.

It was all too much to take in. Her mind didn’t want to accept it, but the evidence was speaking for itself. She had tried to kill Tree Leaf, and had attacked her.

“Well,” said Starlight, “it’s been fun, but I don’t have time to play around with you all day. I guess I’ll do my duty one last time for you. I’ll save you from this pain of yours, by ensuring you never feel pain again.”

The glow from her horn grew brighter. “Don’t worry. It’ll only hurt for a moment, then you’ll feel nothing at all.”

Flurry was trembling like a leaf, so deep into her thoughts that she couldn’t even focus on her shield spell. She was too distraught to respond as the mare fired at her.

“FLURRY!” yelled Pound. As soon as the shield faded he was on the move. Pumpkin, knowing the way her brother was, moved at almost the same time he did.

The other three were close behind them.

Pound threw himself in front of the attack, putting his hooves out protectively.

“Pound!” Pumpkin unconsciously threw up a shield.

Starlight’s spell crashed into Pumpkin’s shield. It held for a few seconds, but quickly shattered

Tree Leaf turned into a rhino again, throwing himself in front of Pumpkin. Peppermint and Masky covered Flurry as well. In a last desperate act to protect Flurry Peppermint grabbed her and threw her off to the side.

The five children were all caught in the blast, Flurry the only one who remained unharmed.

Flurry wasn’t even conscious of being picked up, but the pain from the impact of the landing jolted her back to awareness.

She felt her heart stop for a moment as she took in the battlefield. All the other children were injured and unmoving.

“Oh! Oh, no! No!” She comprehended what had to have happened. They had thrown themselves into the path of Starlight’s attack. They… they had sacrificed themselves to save her life.

In this horrifying situation, being close to them had been the only thing to give her hope. They were the only chance she had of getting into the castle and returning home. But because of her cowardice and unwillingness to protect them they… they were all…

Flurry’s breathing got shorter and shorter. She felt like her mind was breaking down as she grabbed her head and let out a long, somber scream.

Author's Note:

Our heroes seem to be at their lowest point. Is there any chance of victory left?

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