• Published 20th Sep 2012
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Seeing the Pattern 2: Death Take You - Aegis Shield



Pinkamina battles Death incarnate using the mysterious power of the Pinkie Sense.

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Big Macintosh

Seeing the Pattern 2: Death Take You
Part 2: Big Macintosh

“It’s almost funny to watch you squirm, y’know. It’s not often anypony takes such a grudge interest against Death.” Mother Nature said with a little smile. She gave her orange mane a haughty little toss. Death scowled at her, pulling back his hood. She rolled her eyes at him. He always did that when he wanted to be more intimidating, but it didn’t work on her anymore. She’d been an Aspect for two long. “Are you going to do anything about her, or…?” Death nodded slowly, his teeth clacking a few times. The poor stallion didn’t have a tongue to speak with in his Aspect form, so it was all he could do to nod or make bodily gestures. Mother Nature smiled sympathetically as he took his place at the round table across from her. He inclined his head a little. She knew the subtleties of his body language well enough to know it was his ‘scolding’ gesture. “Alright, alright.” The mare conceded. “I remember, no talk of business on poker night. We’re still waiting for Father Time, though.” Death bobbed his head a few times.

With a POP of parted air, a brown stallion with an hourglass on his flank snapped into being on the far side of the room. “So sorry, chaps, the little one had taken ill. I could’ve gone back in time a few hours or something, but then I would’ve been in two places at once and that’s never good.” Doctor Hooves, known to that gathering as Father Time, gently set a tray of cornbread and English muffins on the table. A bar of soft butter and a few knives were on the tray as well. “I did remember the snacks this time, though. Very important, snacks, on poker night.” He chuckled merrily. Death and Mother Nature nodded with approval, both smiling. “So if I remember right its Mother Nature’s turn to deal?” he said, cocking his head at their dark-robed friend.

“You can take that silly thing off, you know.” Mother Nature said to Death. “I’ve pulled all my shutters and locked all my doors. No one will see us here like this.” Death hesitated for a long moment, looking back and forth between the two of them. “You won’t be able to have cornbread and muffins with no stomach or cheeks, you know.” Mother Nature teased him, gesturing to the delicious-looking tray of treats.

Finally, Death made his ‘sighing’ body language gesture (hard to read in a skeleton, let me tell you), and pulled off his robe entirely. He stood naked, a bleach white skeleton with hooves. Then organs, muscle, fur and coloring exploded across him as a wildfire! His Aspect form was molded over by a more solid and mortal form, blood and muscle and fur. Soon, he looked like anypony one might pass on the street. Standing there smoking idly for a moment the stallion shook his mane out, looking a little frazzled. Mother Nature quickly rose and waved a newspaper at her smoke detectors so they wouldn’t go off again. Death’s transformations were always so dramatic. “I must say, old chap, you do look much better in your skin.” said Father Time, buttering a piece of cornbread and passing half to Death.

Death smiled in a tired way, reaching across the table and stuffing it in his mouth. He did enjoy the taste of good butter. It got the crisp taste of ashes off of his tongue. “Deal.” He said to Mother Nature, who nodded and started shuffling the cards. The three Aspects settled in for their regular poker night, each setting a stack of fifty bits next to themselves for betting.

=-=-=-=

Big Macintosh was working on his plow in the barn. It had been too long since he’d stopped to sharpen it. His mouth set in a neutral line and his eyes lidded in concentration, he ran the whetstone back and forth over it. He knew it had grown dull when a rock the size of an apple had stopped him entirely. Although it was almost winter time, there was still plowing to be done. It was very, very important to turn the soil to make sure it stayed fertile and good for crops. Dead leaves and other debris had been falling over the fields throughout fall, now it was time to mix it all in. It was like a giant compost heap, to be honest. Smiling and content with his lot in life, the massive stallion worked in silence.

“Hey Big Mac!” Applebloom cantered into the barn. The stallion turned, file still in his mouth. He smiled, bobbing his head once in acknowledgement. “Applejack says that the showers and such in the house are fixed now.” The little filly leaned close, conspiratorial. “Ah think she pulled a big orange ball’a’hair out of one of the main pipes. She’s been sulkin’ an’ brushin’ her mane like crazy.” Big Macintosh chuckled good-naturedly, shaking his head at her. Setting the file down neatly and admiring his work, he looked at Applebloom for approval. He did like to include his little sister in things so she felt like she was helping. “Why Big Mac that looks as sharp as a tack!” she said, leaning over the freshly sharpened plow. “Ah bet you could cut through solid rock with that!”

“Eeyup.” He said, pressing it to one side with the top of his head so nopony would trip over it. When the file was put away with the other tools, he took Applebloom’s hint and headed for the showers in the house. Winter was truly a lazy time for the Apple family, but it was their vacation time, truth be told. They had to work very, very hard all year, but they couldn’t exactly grow apples in the wintertime. So, Big Mac would often pray for snow so he could run around with a snowplow to earn and extra hoof-full of bits now and then. It didn’t happen often, so it wasn’t uncommon for him to spend weeks in the barn with all their tools, sharpening, filing, shining and cleaning. But for now, it was evening and that meant shower time. It got dark early in the winter, and there wasn’t any sense in staying out to freeze and get sick.

Applebloom trotted along beside her big brother, smiling merrily as they went. She stepped inside, into the welcoming embrace of the Apple family home. It snuggled her with warm air and pleasant smells of a late-evening dinner cooking. “Don’cha be goin’ to the dinner table smellin’ like y’do, Big Brother!” Applebloom teased as the massive stallion made for the stairs towards the upstairs bathroom.

Big Macintosh rolled his eyes, smiling. If there was one guilty pleasure he had in life, it was having his own bathroom. Living in a household of mares and fillies left certain… things, in the bathroom that stallions didn’t need to see nor worry about, according to granny smith. So, he’d been given his own bathroom to make up for it. Applebloom and Applejack often teased that it was ‘the little colt’s room’, and never went in there themselves. It was just a bathroom, but it was something that was just for Big Mac and he liked that. Sighing, the barrel-chested stallion arrived there and turned the water on. Pulling the door and the shower curtain, he stepped under the spray. The hot water felt great compared to the cold winter air outside. It made him tingle. Closing his eyes, he stood there for a long time just to let himself thaw out before reaching for the Apple Spice body wash on the edge of the tub.

A pink hoof GRABBED him and he gave a throaty cry! Pushing he shower curtain rudely open was none other than Pinkamina! “Got you.” She hauled him bodily out of the tub, not an easy feat considering his size. Just then, the water in the shower spattered a little and a deluge hit the tub like a pressure washer. The powerful splash knocked the bathroom light out, exploding a lightbulb and sending a huge live wire down from the ceiling into the bath. The hum of electricity was loud. Pinkamina hauled Big Macintosh back and back, for he was trailing water and the electricity would fry him in an instant. “Pony Feathers…” Pinkamina looked back and forth, dragging the confused and now terrified stallion away from the pooling water on the floor. Snarling, she turned and shoved him out the second story window. Big Mac fell with a wordless cry and Pinkamina repelled down on the grappling hook and rope she’ used to sneak into the house. She found him upside down in some hedges, soaking wet and shaking in the cold winter night. He fell with a bump, his weight finally dragging him out of the bush and to the ground. She emerged soon after, panting with effort. “You’ll need to cut the power to the house to soak up the water… are you okay?” she asked, her eyes widening in horror.

“Eey-y-y-yup.” He chattered, freezing. Then he saw where her eyes had gone and frowned a little bashfully. Big Macintosh’s crimson fur had been weighted down with the water from the shower, and it made it easier to see the skin beneath. Across his chest and neck was a massive, jagged scar. It ran from his adam’s apple, across his vocal chords, down through to his under belly without even stopping. Pinkamina didn’t want to imagine what sort of blade or farm implement had done that to him.

“So that’s why you don’t talk very much.” Pinkamina mumbled, fighting the urge to run her hoof across the spectacular scar. “Whatever happened, it must’ve ripped your vocal chords wide open. Speaking must be very painful for you.” She surmised.

Big Macintosh looked to one side, then to the other, uncomfortable. “Eeyup.” He said softly after a time. The pink mare looked at him in a new light. He’d never mentioned it publically or to any of their friends. She’d always assumed he was just shy. But no, speaking physically hurt him.

“I won’t tell.” She offered with an even look. He seemed comforted by this, and nodded a few times at her. “Get back inside, before you get sick and die anyway. Rope-climbing isn’t easy, you know. It took a lot of effort to climb up there. I would hate to have wasted all that effort.” She affixed him with a scowl that made him wilt away a little. Once she’d mentioned it, she remembered to reclaim her rope and grappling hook. Rolling it up in coils, she stuffed it in her saddle-bags.

Big Macintosh turned and quickly went inside through the front door, closing it behind him. Then, he thought better and stuck his soaking wet head back outside again, working his mouth so he could speak. “Thank—!” Pinkamina had already vanished into the cold winter’s night. The stallion rubbed his throat painfully. It really did hurt him to talk, but he wouldn’t be talking at all if not for her. Now all he would have to do is explain how he’d gotten outside from the upstairs bathroom. He somehow doubted his sisters would believe a strange mare had shoved him right out the window.
Pinkamina was long gone.

=-=-=-=

“I know you work in an ice cream parlor, honey, but you really should bundle up when you go out that late.” Lickity Split said gently. She shot him a glare that said ‘don’t call me honey’, but he pressed a little more. “You were out preventing somepony’s death tonight, weren’t you?” he smiled a little when Pinkamina put her saddlebags on a side table by the door. It tilted, and a grappling hook fell out, trailing rope behind it. “Scaling walls now? Gonna be the next Mare-Do-Well?” he teased, going and kissing her cheek. She smiled idly, nuzzling him with her cheek. It was nice to have praise. Just a little bit. Especially from such a handsome stallion. She flopped onto the couch, heaving a relieved sigh as she let the warmth of their little abode thaw her from the cruel winter’s bite.

“I didn’t see him this time.” Pinkamina said, frowning at the wall idly. “Big Macintosh was going to be electrocuted in his own shower. Fried. Way past dead.” She saw her lover wince at her graphic telling. “Death… I didn’t see him there.” She confided in him as he joined her on the couch with a concerned look. “Maybe he would’ve survived? Or staggered out of the shower when the water pressure went way up, before the light bulb burst?” she went over the details with him and he listened carefully.

“I think you saved him, without a doubt.” Lickity Split pressed his muzzle into her mane, nuzzling up and down a few times to soothe her. She relaxed a few more inches, then laid her chin on the arm of the couch. He smiled at his personal victory, pulling the quilt off of the back of the couch to drape over her. Cuddling up to her comfortingly, he helped her warm up for the evening while they lay there on the couch. “But that is a little weird. You’ve seen Death as a stallion twice now.” He pondered, looking at the ceiling. “Maybe he was busy elsewhere?”

“Death doesn’t take nights off.” Pinkamina said grouchily. She turned and lay on her side, facing him. “Does he?” Lickity Split chuckled at her words, leaning to peck her cheek again. She sighed, relaxing at last. Ah well. A victory was a victory, whether it made sense or not. Pushing her curtain-like pink mane behind her ear, she relaxed into her stallion’s arms at last. He stroked her comfortingly.

“Wait…” Lickity Split said after a time. “What were you doing watching Big Macintosh take a shower?” he wondered aloud. She kicked him as soon as he started laughing.

=-=-=-=

Death pulled his cloak back on, pulling the hood up and snapping the broach-like clasp into place around his neck. His flesh burned away suddenly, his eyeballs exploding and his mane going up like straw in a bonfire. His veins and muscles melted into goo and then vanished. He reared up a little, slamming his front hooves down. When the fires went out he stood there smoking, teeth clattering. He was once again a cloaked skeleton.

Beep-eep-eeep-eep-eep!

Mother Nature stood from the table, waving her newspaper back and forth in front of the smoke detector. “Faust damnit, Death!” she screeched, standing on a chair as she did it and trying to reset the little device. “Out! Out out out!” she took him by the cloak and Father Time by the ear. “I told you to stop transforming in my house!” Shuffling both stallions out of her little house she slammed the door on them.

Father Time looked at Death with a little smirk. They both knew Death did it just to excite Mother Nature. It was fun to watch her dance about like that, trying to keep things in balance even in her own house. “I’d say she was just angry because she lost, personally, know what I mean?” Father Time snickered a little as they went down the sidewalk. They passed Mother Nature’s rather impressive carrot patch, then used the tiny gate to get out of her yard before she came outside to throw things at them. Death clattered his teeth, tossing his head. That was his ‘heavy laughter’ gesture. “Well then, I think I’m going to take the rest of the evening off as well.” Reaching up, Father Time removed his crimson bowtie and collar. When he took it off, his Aspect powers winked out and he was a normal stallion once more. Death saw none other than Doctor Whooves cantering down the sidewalk to his left.

The skeletal stallion stood there for a few moments, relishing in the chill of the night. Winter was setting in. That meant plenty of deaths by cold. Heck, it also meant most plant life was going dead. This was his busiest time of year. The cruel breeze rattled through his ribcage and he pulled his cloak tight about himself. He tossed his head a few times, the bones of his neck clattering. Death was just about to take his leave when another pony approached. Father Time, wearing his red bowtie and collar again. Death turned, for Doctor Whooves had turned the corner only a moment ago.
Approaching from the right side, quite the opposite of the way he’d left, the brown stallion cantered past Death. “Sorry, had to jump straight back here. I forgot my tray at Mother Nature’s table. Can’t have that. Never see it again.” If Death had had eyeballs right then he would’ve rolled them. Father Time was such a charming, if odd, stallion. Something about the way he often talked in rapid-fire sentence fragments made him very likeable. It didn’t keep him from getting hit in the face with his own serving tray, though. Mother Nature was very cranky. Death’s teeth clattered with silent laughter.



End of Part 2