• Published 6th Nov 2020
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Son of the Howlite Howler - JNKing

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Chapter 5: Battle for the Crystal Empire

Kodo stared up at the mountains with his heart hammering in nervousness. Just above him were the diamond dogs that had rejected Shiva. He could already see dogs growling at him, like wolves defending their turf. Shiva’s warnings flashed through his head, reminding him of the dangers of different packs. But now Sombra, and the brutal fighting of the last two days hung over the warnings like a storm cloud, glaring at them in disapproval.

“You shouldn’t fear them, Kodo,” He noted to the boy. “They deserve to fear you.”

They aren’t ponies,” Kodo noted. “I’d be dragging them into this.”

Sombra laughed. “And you think your mother didn’t have to drag them into her plans as well?”

Kodo glanced up in disgust, only for the memory to flash before his eyes:

Shiva standing before a Diamond Dog Alpha. Holding him by the neck as lightning coursed through her fur.

“Not every battle can be won with kindness,” Sombra noted. “Least of all from non-ponies. You have to assert yourself. Dominate them. And only then will they listen.”

Kodo glanced up at him in intrigue. “You sound like you had to do it yourself,” he noted.

“Aye,” Sombra agreed, his memories flashing before Kodo’s eyes. “Twilight lied to you about me stealing my throne, pup. All I wanted was to defend my empire.”

Memories flooded Kodo’s mind. A younger Sombra, with a normal gray horn and not as much regalia as before. He watched in horror as a group of ponies broke through the shield. The Crystal Ponies, unused to conflict, were quickly being cut down.

Kodo winced as he saw the ponies falling.

By the time, we managed to stop their rampage,” Sombra muttered. “Too many had been lost.” Sombra shook his head with a growl. “We couldn’t rely on the Crystal Heart forever. Just like you can’t rely on diplomacy.”

Kodo’s ears flattened. Yet, as he looked up from the ground, he saw diamond dogs already approaching him. Some with crossbows. The rest with spears.

Taking a deep breath, he let his magic flare.

The dogs had just enough time to back up before Kodo’s tendrils smashed into them.

#

Shining blasted the last of the dogs out of his way, racing into the palace. It had taken him almost two days of non-stop fighting through the chaos, but he had finally managed it.

“Cadence!” he shouted, before turning to the guards that had kept up. “Keep them out of the palace.”

As the ponies set up defenses, Shining raced into the palace. “Cadence!” he bellowed.

“Relax, Captain Armor,” Scorpia’s voice said, before arriving with Cadence. “We’re fine.”

Shining still didn’t relax until he saw his wife. And even then, he paused, seeing the small bundle on her back.

“F-Flurry Heart?” he whispered, crossing over to his wife and daughter.

Cadence smiled softly, levitating their child over to him before the howls from outside drew their gaze. Despite the threat, Flurry Heart simply giggled, waving at her father.

Cadence sighed. “I wish you could’ve met her under better circumstances,” she admitted, glancing at the doorway with worry. However, Shining turned to the doorway with determination.

“Let’s just make sure they don’t do anything to hurt her,” he replied, turning back to Cadence. “Get Flurry Heart and the Crystal Heart down to the safe room. You should probably stay there as well.”

Cadence narrowed her eyes. “And do what? Cower in fear while my husband fights for me?” She flared her wings. “I am an alicorn. And this kingdom needs me.”

Right on cue, the door nearly burst open, and two diamond dogs managed to get in. Shining turned to the dogs, a shield spiraling into being seconds before one of the dogs could bury his axe in his head. Cadence followed up, blasting the dog right into the other dog with a spell. The guards kept the doors open long enough for Cadence’s spell to send the two guards out, and then slammed the door shut.

Grinning at each other, Cadence levitated Flurry Heart over to Scorpia.

“Please, get her down to the safehouse,” she asked. “Don’t let anyone get to her.”

The changeling princess nodded, and raced away, while Cadence and Shining ran side-by-side up to the castle balcony. Outside, they saw the city in utter chaos. Changelings, diamond dogs and ponies battled throughout the streets. Too many lay eerily still on the ground. Faintly, they made out Luke and Skippy battling each other.

“How can you side with them after they stole my daughter!” Luke demanded of the changeling.

“They didn’t steal her,” Skippy insisted. “There’s a reason to this madness!”

Luke didn’t let him finish, smashing at him with an axe. The changeling managed to dart away, and was pursued through the streets of the Empire.

“Skippy!” Scorpia yelped, flapping out of the castle before Cadence could realize she returned. “Luke, enough of this!”

Cadence followed after her, leaving Shining to reach after her futilely.

As Scorpia yanked Skippy away from Luke’s claws, Cadence kept the dog at bay with a beam spell. She landed before him and the two circled each other.

“Look at what you’re doing to your home, Luke,” Cadence demanded, indicating the Empire. “This place was your home just as it was mine.”

“And that was the mistake,” Luke growled. “We never should have let you take it. We should have kept it for our own.”

“And what would you have done with the Crystal Ponies?” she replied. “What would you have done with the unicorn in your son’s mind?”
Luke paused, hesitation battling his conviction. He gazed across the field, as his own people engaged in intense battle.

Cadence tried to step closer. “Help me call them off,” she pleaded. “We can use the Crystal Heart. This can’t possibly help you get Shiva back.”

Luke’s teeth bared. “Don’t bring her into this!” he barked, lunging to fight Cadence.

But the alicorn easily launched into the air, avoiding his attack before nearly crushing him into the ground. Cadence grimaced as Luke dodged her attacks, his own attack getting repelled by her shield.

“Can we please stop this?” she demanded. “I’m the Alicorn of Love, not War. This isn’t my territory.”

“Then do what ponies do best, and lose,” Luke snarled, lunging up at her.

Cadence narrowed her eyes, and caught him with a beam spell, smashing him into the ground.

“The only good thing we can do is lose?” she demanded, blasting another beam at him.

However, Luke managed to roll out of the way.

“What would you have done if we didn’t stop Chrysalis?” he demanded. “What would you have done if we weren’t there when Sombra attacked the first time?”

Cadence growled, but her shield faltered, and Luke managed to get a hit in.

“You’re working for Sombra now!” she insisted, bucking him away.

“And now your Empire’s in ruins,” Luke replied, easily rolling with her kick. “Once, Celestia and Luna kept you and your ponies safe, but you have grown soft under their rein. And the only way you’ve been able to keep yourselves from being overthrown is due to either Celestia, the pony she’s clearly manipulating for something, or us.”

Cadence caught him with a blast, and threw him off his paws. Before he could regain his paws, Cadence shot back down, and pinned him under her hoof.

“Well, not this time,” she declared, flaring her wings. “Now, it’s my turn to save Equestria.”

“Wrong,” a voice boomed from the ground.

Cadence froze, as did most of the other fighters.

A second later, the ground exploded… and several more diamond dogs came out. All coated in obsidian armor. Their eyes glowed green while Kodo hovered above them, his eyes flashing with the purple highlights of Sombra.

“You’re going to see exactly what would’ve happened if Shiva hadn’t been here for you,” Sombra said through Kodo with a grin.

Cadence narrowed her eyes and lunged at Sombra. However, a block of obsidian flickering with lightning got in her way. As she bounced off the wall, Luke lunged up to catch her.

Cadence got a shield up in the nick of time. But as Luke’s claws sunk into her barrier, one of Kodo’s dark links wrapped around his father’s legs. And those same links dug into Cadence’s shield.

The alicorn’s eyes widened as her magic began to get pulled into the link, the purple light fading into a dark purple as her barrier flickered and died.

“No!” Cadence screamed, canceling her barrier.

But as Luke fell, Kodo smashed through his block, the shrapnel catching her off guard and allowing her to sink his teeth into her neck. His links sunk into her body, and the Alicorn of Love could only kick feebly at her attacker as he crashed her into the ground, her magic draining into his body and fueling his own magic.

Ponies, changelings and even a few diamond dogs still loyal to the ponies yelped and tried to help her. But Sombra shot them a dark look and sent a shockwave through the earth, knocking them back before Luke and his own forces drove them away.

As for Shining, he could only stare in horror from the balcony as Cadence was drained of her magic. Her dulled eyes didn’t leave Shining’s as Kodo stepped off her broken form and coated her body in obsidian, lifting her up so her head was visible to everyone in the empire.

“Your Princess has fallen,” Kodo/Sombra declared as she was lifted up. “Your Empire will follow, unless you surrender.”

Shining seethed, nearly leaping off the balcony. But Cadence stared him dead in the eyes, and mouthed a single word.

“Go!”

Staring at his beloved with heart-rending despair, Shining reluctantly turned from his wife and to the remaining ponies, now looking to him for advice.

“Retreat,” he choked out. “We have to retreat.”

“Retreat!” the ponies began to yell, fleeing the castle. “Retreat!”

Kodo grinned, marching forward as the citizens either fell in line beside him or raced away into the snow.

“Alpha,” the diamond dog Muffins asked. “Should we pursue them?”

Make sure they are trapped in the Frozen Wasteland,” Kodo/Sombra replied. “The cold and storms will finish them off soon enough.”

Nodding with a grin, Muffins took off, while Luke stayed by Kodo’s side.

“Kodo?” he whispered. “You’re still in there, right?”

“Don’t worry, Father,” he assured the elder wolf. “Sombra can’t get rid of me that easily.”

Will you both relax?” Sombra asked. “I’m on your side.” He grinned as he ascended the stairs. “After giving me back my beloved empire…” he whispered with a loving grin. “Oh, you are most certainly on my side.”

He rested a claw on the door, pushing it open, and breathing in relief as he found himself back in the Crystal Castle. Luke tilted his head, and Kodo nudged at his mind, breaking him out of his reverie.

Spread out,” he ordered his army. “Any stragglers are to be captured. To either join or die.”

Barking in agreement, the diamond dogs raced away, followed by changelings disguised as diamond dogs, dragging along ponies who grabbed desperately for Sombra.

“Please, we wanted you back, Sombra,” some of them begged. “Please don’t hurt us…!”

Sombra, however, didn’t even give them a second glance back. Heading into the throne room, Sombra smiled as he gazed at his throne.

“Oh, Kodo,” he whispered. “I had feared that I would never know how it felt to have my throne again.”

If you’re really grateful,” Kodo growled. “Show me where my mother is.”

All in good time,” Sombra assured him, moving past his throne and into the bunker that had once held the Crystal Hear. “First, let’s make sure that this Empire stays under my control.”

“You mean the Crystal Heart?” Kodo asked. “Because I thought that thing was flawed.”

It was,”Sombra agreed. “But it did take out my power. If some of my magic hadn’t been sealed into Shiva’s essence, and I didn’t put that essence in you, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

How unfortunate that would've been,” Kodo grumbled sarcastically.

Sombra chuckled, just as he reached the bottom. His door of fear was gone. But he could feel the pulse of power that had to come from the Crystal Heart.

And both of them picked up the smell of a newborn foal.

Kodo’s ears perked. “Is that… a newborn foal?”

“It seems the Princess was busy,” Sombra mused. He tried to move forward, but Kodo's legs locked in place.

“You’re not going to hurt her,” Kodo growled.

Kodo…” Sombra tried to protest, but Kodo yanked him back.

The only reason you’re getting this far is because I don’t know how to get my mother back,” Kodo snarled. “If we’re going to do this, we do this my way.” In their inner mind, Kodo got into Sombra’s face. “We don’t hurt her!”

Sombra grumbled, but before he could protest… two cloaked figures came out, small bundles clutched to their chests.

Sombra and Kodo froze, staring at the cloaked figures in shock.

“Don Bhanrion!” they suddenly yelled, blasting at him with spells.

Kodo’s reflexes saved them; he backflipped up the stairs and blasted back at them with dark links. The two figures dodged, one of them firing another spell. Kodo jumped off the stairs, avoiding the blast, only for a portal to form.

Without another word, the two figures charged up and into the portal. Kodo blasted at them with some of Sombra’s magic, but the portal faded just as his bolt hit, destroying the wall.

#

Meanwhile, in Equestria, Celestia, Luna, Celine and Twilight watched the North with grim expressions. Celestia turned as a guard raced in.

“Well?” Celestia asked.

The guard shook his head. “The Crystal Empire has fallen,” he declared. “War is inevitable.”

Celestia took a shaky breath, and turned to Celine, who stared at the guard in horror.

“I’m sorry, Celine,” she said.

Celine shut her eyes. “No,” she growled. “No, there has to be a way to stop this.”

Yet, as Celestia and Luna exchanged a look, they knew there was no way to assure Celine. Whether they liked it or not, war was coming. And Sombra was not going to let peace be an option.

Author's Note:

War has begun. :rainbowdetermined2:

Please let me know what you thought of the hints to Sombra's backstory. I saw someone give a pretty interesting headcanon for why he went bad, and I'll try to incorporate it into this.

Thank you as always for reading, and I hope you enjoy. :twilightsmile: