• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,137 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama



Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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Brother

Squall was easy enough to spot, thankfully. Being one of the only two ponies in the Empire with leathery wings sprouting from his back, he stood out like a blemish against the backdrop of the rich blue sky at the edges of the empire. He was hovering high in the air, his wings beating rhythmically while his eyes intently watched the snows in the distance for any sign of danger. Fluttershy gulped and took a deep breath before approaching him gingerly, not quite sure how to greet him.

They’d traveled together all week, sure, but if she were being honest with herself, she didn’t really know Squall very well at all. He just kind of showed up after Canterlot fell with his little sister in tow, with Rainbow and Twilight insisting that the two of them come along when they evacuated Ponyville. It was perplexing, frankly.

Still though, despite her mild trepidation, she eventually drew close enough to him in the air that he spotted her. He rotated in place to face her, his eyes locking onto hers. He raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “Hi… uh, Fluttershy, right?” he asked, his hooves slowly lifted to fidget over his chest while she nodded in confirmation. Putting on a small, friendly smile, he continued. “What do you need?”

“The others want me to bring you back. We could use some help searching the library for information on the power we need from the Empire,” Fluttershy replied while nodding slightly in the direction of the city. “Plus, your little sister probably wants to spend some time with you.”

Squall hesitated and looked away. His hooves wrung themselves and he starting chewing on his bottom lip for several seconds. He jumped as if startled, likely remembering that Fluttershy was waiting for him to reply, then cleared his throat. “Oh! Uh, I-I shouldn't. I should keep watch out here. We need somepony to act as the alarm in case Queen Chrysalis shows up, right?” he asked nervously, letting off a very fake laugh after a few moments.

Fluttershy’s brow furrowed at his reaction. “But… she’s your sister. You really should go spend some time with her. I don’t see anything bad out there,” she said before glancing out into the frozen north and quivering a bit. “I mean… aside from all of that cold, freezing snow.”

“The snow’s the problem,” Squall pointed out with a small hoof gesture. “The blizzards out there are thick. Something could hide out there and you’d miss it unless you were looking. I don’t wanna take any chances, okay?”

Fluttershy looked at Squall sternly, her eyes narrowing somewhat. “...She told me how much she really looks up to you, you know,” she said pointedly while drifting closer to his side. “How she cares about you and loves you so much, she stowed away in your moving wagon when you went to join the Lunar Guard because she didn't want to be apart from you.”

Squall lowered his gaze and sighed, his shoulder slumping in defeat. “She did, huh? Ah, guess it’s for the best…” he shook his head before raising his eyes to look out at the cold snows again. When he spoke again, his voice was cold and distant. “Fluttershy, tell me… do you have any siblings? Brothers, sisters?”

Fluttershy gave a soft ‘mhmm’ and smiled. “Oh, yes. I have a younger brother named Zephyr Breeze. He’s...” she lost her smile to a disappointed frown. “...Kind of a pain.”

Squall just laughed at that, his face showing genuine merriment from that comment. “Heh… sounds like a little sibling, alright. A pain in the flank, but you still…” he hesitated and put a hoof to his chest, his ears falling flat against his head. “...You love them with everything you’ve got… and just hope that you’re setting a good example. That you’re everything your brother or sister needs you to be…”

“She seems to be perfectly happy with just having you around though,” Fluttershy noted, some of the intensity draining from her expression. “And from what I can see, you’ve earned her respect and admiration. You’re a really good big brother.”

“I’m also a really bad little brother.”

Fluttershy perked up and tilted her head in confusion at that remark. She shifted to better look at Squall’s eyes and inhaled softly when she saw the guilt burning in them. “Huh? I thought all of your siblings were sisters, and that you were older than all of them,” she finally managed to say, shifting to be upright again.

Squall winced as if struck, then shrugged. “W-well, he wasn’t my brother by blood. We aren’t related or anything, but…” he sagged heavily. “...yeah. We hung out a lot growing up… He was always kind of hard on me, trying to get me to stand up for myself, to grow a backbone and thicker skin. He pushed me around, talked down to me, even beat me up a couple of times...”

Fluttershy’s hooves shot up to cover her muzzle. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said solemnly, reaching out. “That sounds awful-”

“But just as often as he beat me up, hurled an insult at my face or pushed me to the ground… he stood up for me. He’d protect me whenever somepony else picked on me, he taught me how to fight, how to defend myself… he helped make me who I am...” Squall continued before sighing gently and looking over at Fluttershy. “It was his way of showing that he cared about me… I guess he knew he couldn’t protect me forever…” his eyes lowered, and Fluttershy swore she could see tears welling up in them. “…and how did I repay him for everything he did for me? ...I left him behind, and now he has to suffer the consequences.” he looked back towards the city, his eyes betraying a kaleidoscope of emotions waging a war in his heart. “So… you understand how I feel, right?”

“Um… sort of,” Fluttershy replied meekly, her own hooves fidgeting over her chest and her eyes trained on the tip of her tail gently bobbing around beneath her.

“I just… I’m worried that I’m not what she needs me to be,” Squall continued, looking back at her with pleading eyes. “She’s my little sister, and I want to make sure I do good by her… but…” he brought his hooves in front of his face and scowled bitterly at them in disgust. “Considering the fact that I ran away from somepony that I looked up to like a big brother… even if I really disliked him sometimes… I dunno...” he slumped and looked down at the ground far below them. “...Is that the kind of pony my sister needs right now?”

Fluttershy bit her lip for a moment before her eyes lit up. Her smile returned in full and she gave an encouraging nod. “Well, I know that you’re out here, diligently standing guard to make sure nothing bad can slip into the empire to hurt her or your friends. You, all on your own, bravely swooped in and safely carried her out of Canterlot while the Changelings were invading,” her smiled widened and she drifted a little closer. “I think you’re everything she needs you to be; strong, brave, and you will do anything to protect your family. I don’t think there is anything more a little sister could ask for in their big brother.”

Squall looked at Fluttershy with wide eyes. He gaped at her, mouthing like a fish as he struggled to find his words for several moments. Eventually, he sighed and nodded. “I mean… I see your point, but…”

“But nothing,” Fluttershy cut in, putting a hoof to his chin just as he tried to drop his gaze again. She tilted his head so they were eye-to-eye. “You are a wonderful brother, and Wind Whisper is lucky to have you…” she then retracted her hoof and winked at him. “Plus, you can always come back and stand guard later. You’ve been at this for hours… you should rest your wings.”

Squall looked at her disbelievingly for several moments. A small sound escaped his throat, like a cough. He made the sound again, before bursting into a fit of laughter, clutching at his gut. Fluttershy, a bit taken aback by his outburst, drifted back a couple feet, but soon enough his laughter began to die away. He slowly managed to right himself in the air and wiped a hoof over his eyes to remove some tears that had spilled out from his uproarious laughter, and smiled at her. “Fluttershy… you might not seem like it, but you make a darned good motivational speaker when you want to be!” he complimented her before shifting and started to fly at a leisurely pace for the Empire. “Come on, let’s go. You’re right; my wings could use a rest.”

Fluttershy let a small, delighted squeak slip past her lungs, then turned and began to lead Squall deeper into the city towards the library. While they went, Squall cast one last furtive glance at the snow-blasted wasteland in the distance.


The frozen wind and snowflakes lashed against Pharynx’s chitin like a relentless onslaught of chilling daggers, drawing a pained hiss out of him. He squinted to see through the blizzard that had sprung up out of nowhere, but his eyes were just met with various shades of white and, in a few rare spots where stone jutted up out of the snow, black. A shiver worked its way through him, and he swore bitterly under his breath. “Dang it, Thorax… why did you have to go into a blasted arctic wasteland?!” he growled before pushing on.

He had been following Thorax’s trail for almost a week, now. It had taken him about a day after Chrysalis sent him off to figure out that his little brother had fled with Princess Rainbow Dash and her assortment of friends, first to the Castle of the Two Sisters in the depths of the Everfree Forest, and then north into this snow smothered landscape. He had followed their trail the whole way and had been sure he was catching up. However, as soon as the grass gave way to snow, the trail was lost among the never-ending blizzards, and Pharynx was slowly coming to grips with the fact that he was hopelessly lost. Another shiver rattled his body and he felt a sharp throb worm it’s way slowly through his head. Growling, he shook himself a bit more in an effort to raise his body temperature before looking around for some shelter.

He was able to find a suitable location after a time. It came in the form of a small cliff-side that formed a rocky overhang, with the winds harmlessly rushing by. He secluded himself underneath the stones and curled up as tightly as he could, trying to keep warm. A quick flick of his magic saw his physical form disintegrated in a swirl of green fire. When the flames faded, he had changed his form to that of a thick-furred yak. Already, he could feel his body temperature rising, and he couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Sadly, he knew he couldn’t maintain this form for long. He only had so much energy to work with, and without a proper source of love to keep him fed, he had to use it sparingly.

After several minutes, he dropped his disguise, returning to his normal self. He regretted the decision, his chitin quivering and his instincts yearning for that heavenly warmth to shield him from this cold. He ignored the urge to don the yak form again, however. Starting to shake again, his purple eyes glared out at the frozen north, narrowing with disgust and anger. He was getting nowhere fast in his search for Thorax, and he was starting to question which was worse; perishing to the snow, or to the ferocity of his queen.

Thorax...

He thought of his brother, and of their last meeting. He remembered the resolve Thorax had shown, the commitment to his suicidal mission to protect some meaningless filly out of a sense of guilt. He could remember feeling a flicker of pride in his chest as he looked upon his little brother, who once was a cowardly nymph that shied away from even the threat of raised voices, standing his ground and refusing to budge, even in the face of certain failure.

Pharynx humphed dismissively, narrowing his eyes at the snow. His pride in Thorax was not important anymore. Queen Chrysalis’ orders had been perfectly clear…

Chrysalis eyed Pharynx critically for several moments, then turned her back on him. “Now, I have a special mission for you.”

“Mission, your majesty?” Pharynx asked and hesitantly lifted his head so he could look at Chrysalis. She casually glanced back over her shoulder at him and flashed him a sadistic smirk.

“Yes. I want you to hunt down and find your runaway little brother of yours, and bring him before me to answer for his betrayal.”

“But, my queen,” Pharynx licked his lips, his mouth suddenly going dry. “I… I don’t know where to look, or even where to start. I’m not an infiltrator or scout. I’m-” Pharynx’s words hitched in his throat when green fire erupted along Chrysalis’ horn, and she turned on him with fury in her eyes.

“YOU ARE MY DRONE!” she roared furiously, encasing Pharynx in her magic and forcefully hauling him to float before her in the air, his front legs pinned to his sides. She snarled angrily into his face, her lips curled back to reveal her teeth. “And I thought you just said you would do anything for me! So unless you were lying to me, then I expect you to start somewhere! I couldn’t care less what your position in the hive is, you are a drone, and you will serve your queen without question, so if I tell you to do something, YOU DO IT! Do you understand?!”

“Y-yes!” Pharynx gasped in terror, nodded quickly. He instinctively squirmed in her grip as adrenaline began pumping through his veins and his heart hammered against his ribs like a blacksmith working on his newest masterpiece. “My sincerest apologies, my queen! I spoke out of line!”

“You are doing a lot of apologizing today! How about I give you a reason to be sorry?”

He clutched a hoof to his chest and screwed his eyes shut, shaking horribly as the memory of that indescribable agony resurfaced in his mind. That horrible pain... pain caused by having the energy sucked right out of him and consumed by Chrysalis... It was the worst thing he had ever felt in his entire life, and it was the worst fear he had ever felt as well. He would do anything to avoid suffering such pain again.

Anything.

All he had to do was catch Thorax… his little brother, a traitor that he had willingly allowed to escape. Catch the traitor, and bring him back to Chrysalis for punishment.

Of course, to do that, he had to brave the snows...

“This is all your fault…” Pharynx seethed under his breath. “Thorax… you idiot. You stupid, foolish child!” his voice began to rise and shake along with his temper. He rose to his hooves, turned and slammed one of them into the stone surface of the cliff-face. Pain danced up and down his leg, but he was too blinded by his rapidly building rage to notice or rightly care. “You should have come back with me! You should have given up on this stupid crusade of yours! You’d have been punished, but I could have made sure you lived! Now we’re both trapped out here in this stupid BLIZZARD!”

He slammed his hoof into the rock harder and harder, over and over, his voice rising with each strike. “We’re trapped in this blizzard, and if I can’t find you, we’re both going to DIE, do you understand?! YOU! KILLED! US!” his hoof struck the stone one more time, creating a spider-web crack in the surface for several inches in all directions. At the top of the cliff, some snow was shaken free from the force of the impact, plopping to the ground not far away. Pharynx stopped then, panting and shaking uncontrollably while struggling to calm himself down. Finally, he pulled his hoof back from the wall and stared at it.

There were fresh cracks all along the surface, and as his anger slowly bled out of him, he could feel pain starting to flare up all over his leg and shoulder. Groaning in discomfort and cursing his own stupidity, Pharynx settled down onto the ground again and curled up. A heavy sigh escaped him, and he closed his eyes to try and get some rest.

Time passed him by for a while, the blizzard never letting up. The cold continued to bite into his chitin. The wind never stopped howling in his ears. If he listened carefully, he thought he could hear an animal howling in the distance. He shivered and curled up tighter, clutching his wounded hoof close to his chest. The air was getting colder if that was even possible, and Pharynx felt his heart rate accelerate. His wings began to erratically twitch and buzz on his back in irritation and unrest, and he could feel his spine and neck tingling. Something was out there...

No longer able to keep his eyes shut, he snapped them open.

They widened to the size of dinner plates at what he beheld.

A colossal, towering mass of smoke and darkness was visible in the distance, working it’s way farther north. Shadowy tendrils licked away at the snow, and two glowing green eyes with crimson pupils could be seen glaring ominously from the top of the mass. Pharynx huddled deeper down, the blood draining from his face. “What in the world is that?!” He thought to himself, sweat forming on the back of his neck and fear swelling in his chest.

The shadow stopped, and those horrifying eyes suddenly turned to look directly at him. Pharynx went completely still, a whole new chill working its way into his veins along with a shaking unrelated to the freezing cold. He watched the amorphous mass of darkness as it eyed him, praying to whatever would hear him that it would pass him by. He knew that this was not something he could defeat, especially not as was now. For a time, the two locked gazes, waiting for the other to do something.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Pharynx could hear a voice quietly laugh in amusement. The mass of darkness turned it’s eldritch eyes away from him before pressing on, soon disappearing amidst the swirling snowstorm. A harrowing howl reverberated across the frozen north, and then everything fell silent, save for the roaring of the wind.

Pharynx released a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding in a sharp gasp, relief washing over him like a tidal wave. He took a few seconds to compose himself, then stared out into the snow, his anger and hatred having been replaced with a wholly different emotion.

Fear.

“Brother… for your sake…” he muttered with that newfound fear swelling in his heart. “I hope that I find you before that thing does…"

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