• Published 2nd Jul 2020
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Short Hand - Andrew Joshua Talon



The myriad misadventures of a plucky human in Equestria.

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Thorns, Part 1

Short Hand

A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfic By Andrew J. Talon

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit fan based parody. MLP:FiM is the property of Hasbro and Lauren Faust. Please support the official release.

- - - -

The simple truth is that in Equestria, you’ve taken a few technological steps backwards. They do have video games of a sort, but no internet to use them on. They have record players to play music on, but that’s about as far as it’s gone. They might have radios, but they’re not widely distributed. It’s frankly a bit of an anachronism salad.

Perhaps it’s because they’d had bits of human technology pop in every now and again to influence their development. After all, they had plenty of stuff locked up in their ancient human archives. A lot of stuff I’d helpfully identified for them.

And some I hadn’t, but that’s another story entirely.

But hey! I’d gotten a lot of nice things out of the deal. Not just pay, but plenty of stuff. Like a nice, full sized violin.

Equestria was at a technological level where you had a lot more musicians around plying their trade. It inspired me to try and get back into playing my own musical instrument: The violin.

There wasn’t a great deal of call for classical violin around these parts though. So I decided I’d expand my repertoire a bit.

It had almost broken me at first, but I’d adapted. Yes, dear readers… I learned how to play fiddle style.

“Let’s see,” I muttered, peering at the sheet music as I sat under one of the Apple family’s numerous apple trees. I held my instrument and my bow, enjoying the feeling of the instrument in my arms. I ran the rosined bow down the strings, and went through a few scales. The sound made me smile. It was like an old friend who had come back after many years.

“Okay,” I sighed, satisfied my fingers were nice and limber. I began tapping my toe to keep the rhythm straight.
“Let’s try this…”

The sheet music wasn’t that different from Earth’s-I guess the song had made it here too. But it just lacked that special something without the lyrics. So I sang.

“Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Indianapolis, Indiana
And Columbus is the capital of Ohio
There's Montgomery, Alabama, south of Helena, Montana
Then there's Denver, Colorado, under Boise, Idaho~...”

The actual name for the song is “Turkey in the Straw”, but why let that spoil a good song? Though I wouldn’t say I was anywhere near as good a singer as Wakko Warner.

Texas has Austin, then we go north
To Massachusetts, Boston and Albany, New York
Tallahassee, Florida and Washington D.C.
Santa Fe, New Mexico and
Nashville, Tenne-SEE?!”

I yelped as I felt something slither past my boot. I jumped up, pulling my violin away, searching for a snake. Instead I saw…

Vines. Thousands of them, thick and spiny, like something out of Sleeping Beauty. All crawling across the ground thick as locusts hungry for crops. I stood up, pulling my music and violin case up. I followed the source of the vines-They were streaming out of the Everfree Forest. Again, the place I fell into that is full of scary, deadly, horrific monsters.

I suppose it really shouldn’t be a surprise, terrible shit coming out of there. This was probably something to tell Twilight about. Given her thing about saving Equestria and all.

I hiked my way over to my house first. Unfortunately many vines were already in the way, and the inhabitants were panicking. I sighed heavily.

Well I wasn’t doing any good just standing around. So, as I had learned whenever something weird happened in Ponyville, it was best to be prepared.

I got into my house, and barred the door against the vines. I then shoved bookcases and anything else I could against the windows. Finally, I walked to my closet, and started getting my gear. Along with a backpack full of medical supplies and other useful kit, I had something else.

The amount of human artifacts that Celestia and Luna had collected over the years was huge. And thankfully for me, it had many, many weapons with ammunition.

Like a very nice .45 Colt Single Action Army revolver. It was engraved with 1967, so fairly old but still in working order. Another gun I’d found was a Winchester M97 pump action shotgun, with several bags of shells emblazoned with US ARMY on them. I figured they may have come out of World War II, but I didn’t know for sure.

And of course, there were several, several AK-47s. Of various build qualities and designs. I’d taken the ones with the least wood in it, and all of its 7.62×39mm ammo. There was plenty. It seemed to be a WASR-10, judging from the Romanian on the barrel and that it was only semi-automatic, but I wasn’t entirely sure.

And yes, I had practiced shooting with them all, as often as I could manage, on the outskirts of the town.

Look, if you lived in a town with as many monster attacks as Ponyville, of course you’d want to be armed! And it wasn’t like I was going to make my own firearms. Who was gonna help me? The Cutie Mark Crusaders?

Anyway, all of this was quite heavy, along with all the ammo I could pack into a duffle bag. I grabbed a machete I’d also taken from the ancient human archives, and turned around. I opened the door… And the vines began to immediately surge in after me!

“Oh for…!” I grabbed the duffle bag and hefted it over my shoulder. I grunted as I swung the machete as hard as I could, slashing through the vines as furiously as I could. I forced my way out, swinging hard, and shut the door after me. I stood there, panting, leaning against my house.

“Haa… Haa… Haa…” I shook my head. “Holy shit…”

The entire town was now covered in horrible vines. Everywhere, making walking difficult at best. One orange pony was trapped in her cart, and screaming for help.

“HELP! HELP ME!” She cried. I stomped my way through, my tough boots able to resist the thorns but my pants weren’t doing as hot. I slashed my way through, my strikes with my machete now driven by sheer anger. This was just insane! I got to the cart, and slashed through the vines threatening to crush the mare. I slashed them apart, the vines falling apart gushing plant juices. I reached in and the mare wrapped her hooves around me. I pulled her out, and she clung to my torso desperately. I ran over to the nearest shop, whose owners opened their windows. I let the mare get through, and she fell in just before more vines sprang up to capture her.

She watched me with the shop owners in dismay, as I stumbled back. I looked around: The vines were starting to curl in my direction.

Okay, so it was clear some kind of intelligence was directing this. An invasion by some evil horde of orcs? The plot of an evil sorceress? Gozer the Gozarian?

Probably not that last one, but you never know.

Well, I knew one place to find allies to help. I ran for it, the vines trying to bar my way. I swung my machete hard, cutting my way through the barrier. I reached a relatively free area-A straight shot right to the Golden Oak Library!
I ran for it, the heavy duffle bag of guns and ammo weighing me down as I sprinted as fast as I could! Which is a lot harder than it sounds, let me tell you. My heart was pounding in my chest as the door came closer, closer… The vines were already growing faster, trying to reach out for me and wrap their tendrils around me!

“YAH!” I swung my machete in a wide circle, cutting through several vines. It burnt a lot of energy, and was frankly tiring, but it bought me the time to yank open the door and dive in. I slammed the door shut behind me, falling down hard onto my knees.

“Haa… Haa… Haa…”

“YAHHHH!” I looked up just in time to see Spike charging at me. I held up my hands.

“SPIKE! Spike, calm down! It’s me!” I shouted. The dragon skidded to a halt, his tiny claws digging into the wood. He stared in shock.

“Shepherd?! How did you get here?!”

I held up my machete, panting hard. I wiped the sweat from my brow. I looked around the dark library.

“Where is everypony?” I asked. “I mean everybody-Nevermind, where are they?”

“They’re trying to find the source of all this!” Spike cried. “It’s happening all over Equestria!”

“Seriously?” I asked in disbelief, as the little dragon nodded eagerly. “It’s a freaking invasion!”

“I know!” Spike cried. “But they think the source is the Everfree Forest!”

I sighed and wiped my temples. “Okay,” I panted, “okay. So it’s right here and they’re going to Rainbow Nuke the problem, right?”

Spike blinked. “Huh? Rainbow Nu-Oh! The Elements? They didn’t take them.”

The sound of the living vines scraping against the outside of the tree was the only thing that registered for several seconds. I very slowly looked up and stared intently at Spike.

“Let me get this straight,” I said, slowly and deliberately, “there are evil thorny vines trying to penetrate all of Equestria like it’s a particularly kinky Japanese schoolgirl, and they didn’t take the magical superweapons that lets them fight evil?!”

Spike coughed.

“I-I mean, um,” the dragon said. I grabbed Spike by his scaly shoulders and looked him right in the eyes.

“First off,” I growled, “you’re going to forge Twilight’s hornwriting or whatever and send a letter requesting the Elements of Harmony.”

“F-F-Forge?!” Spike squeaked, trembling in my grip, “I can’t forge her hornwriting! I-I wouldn’t even know-”

“Power Ponies. First. Edition, “ I stated. Spike cringed. I glared at him. I glared harder. Spike wilted, and sighed.

“Okay, fine,” he muttered. “I’ll do that… And then what?”

“Second,” I said, “you know how to fly Twilight’s balloon?”

- - -

As it turned out, he did. And it was anchored above the thorns, so we just had to climb into the basket. Which, combined with the weight of my duffle bag and the briefcase for the Elements of Harmony was just loads of fun, let me tell you.

Twilight was going to need a new balcony. But hey, understandable in the situation, right? Right.

Anyway, Spike’s magical flame breath had us floating high above the grasping vines, and over the Everfree Forest. The vines could be seen for miles, snaking through the trees of the forest like the threads of a gigantic spiderweb. Some were huge enough they were sticking out of the forest canopy, waving like snake tails. There were many beasts and monsters growling and snarling beneath us, audible even at this altitude.

Since when was Equestria like the Darkroot Garden?! God how I wish Solaire was with us. I sighed and looked over at Spike, who wasn’t in a much better mood.

“Do you even have a plan?!” The dragon asked.

“Yes,” I said. “One, find Twilight and the others. Two, give them the Friendship Deathray. Three? If that doesn’t work, shoot Evil in the face. Four? Repeat as needed. Five…” I thought about it and shrugged, ”go home.”

Spike’s jaw dropped.

“That’s it?” Spike demanded. I shrugged.

“Pretty much. I make things up as I go along, really,” I admitted. ”Besides, what do you have to worry about? You’re a dragon! You can breath fire, eat gems and wade through lava. I’m the squishy one.”

Spike sighed and rolled his eyes, leaning against the side of the basket.

“I don’t have a problem with that! Well I do, but that’s not my main problem: I mean, Twilight went with the others! Don’t you trust them?” He asked. I waved my hand out, trying to encompass the entirety of the situation.

“Of course I trust them!” I shouted. “But I trust them a hell of a lot more when they’re at their best!”

Spike grumbled, and crossed his arms.

“Yeah, still,” he said. “This is really dangerous.”

“Yeah, I know,” I stated, “but we need to do something.”

Spike nodded slowly, crossing his arms. “Yeah, I suppose so-” Spike started, and his eyes went wide. I looked over my shoulder, and-Oh yeah. Something big, scary, and with lots of teeth was flying at us. I looked back at Spike, as I rummaged around in the duffle bag.

“Can you lose him?” I asked urgently. Spike shook his head rapidly.

“It’s a balloon, not an airship! I can try though!” He took a deep breath, and shot a massive blast of green fire up into the balloon. We gained altitude, but it wasn’t much. It did, however, make the flying monster miss us. It circled around, flapping its huge wings to match our height.

All of which gave me enough time to get my AK out, and load it. Just as importantly, I shoved some cotton balls into my ears. I took aim.

“You might wanna cover your ears!” I shouted at Spike. I waited until the beast was lined up with the iron sights. I released the safety. And with just a bit of difficulty, I squeezed the trigger.

The WASR-10 is a civilian model of the AK-47, so no fully automatic gunfire mode. That suited me fine, as shooting a gun in a swinging hot air balloon basket is hard enough without it spraying bullets everywhere. The retort was loud and the kickback was fierce into my shoulder, and Spike yelped as he held the sides of his head.

The beast was surprised, either by the sound or by the bullet hitting it, but it immediately careened away. I fired a second shot at its retreating backside, not aiming too hard but more just to keep it fleeing.

Not that I could be sure I’d even hit him the first time.

“Okay,” I said, over the ringing in my ears. I slid the safety back, and pointed the gun up and away from anything. “Okay, that’s sent him off. You okay?”

“ARGH! Wow, that is loud!” Spike groaned. He shook his head. “That’s one of those human things, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. I shrugged. “Probably not much use against magic but hey. Better than nothing.”

“Okay, how about against that?” Spike squeaked. I looked… Just in time to see a gigantic thorny tendril swinging our way. My eyes widened. I pulled the gun and pointed it at the massive vine… But I didn’t even get a chance to shoot as it slapped us right out of the sky!

Not that it would have done us any good as Spike and I held each other, screaming in terror, as we plunged into the forest below!

TO BE CONTINUED...

Author's Note:

Got to indulge my inner gun nerd and I compressed a fair amount of stuff that should have been introduced earlier in Hands. Like guns.

Anyway, I'm having Shepherd get involved in one of the most infamous IDW MLP Comic Story Arcs. And it's gonna get crazy. Stay tuned!

EDIT: The gun issues have been resolved, at last.