• 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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Twilight Sparkle

Seeing the Pattern 2: Death Take You
Part 3: Twilight Sparkle

There are two kinds of death, Death the stallion knew. He thought about them as he paced the hall of the Ponyville hospital. There was natural death, which was when one’s life-cycle simply ran out or something unusual happened. Then there was kharmatic death, in which an Aspect like himself was supposed to step in to make sure it happened. Karma was not something even he could quantify, he only knew who and where to be when theirs was up. (Just think, if he had to be present for every single death around Equestria he would never get any sleep, much less poker nights with the other Aspects!) He was thankful that some deaths took care of themselves.

But not this one. The mare he was waiting for had eluded death too many times for her to have a natural death anymore. Death leaned into the room, an operating theatre. She was under the knife for perhaps the sixth time in the last decade. She was old, very old, and clinging to life like an angry vulture. He didn’t like that. Medical science prevented a lot of deaths, but in a more frugal manner than one might expect. It was only now and then that a surgeon truly pulled a pony back from Death’s grasp. It irked him. Now, finally, was his chance to snatch her from the mortal coil.

If you asked him, Death would admit there was a certain satisfaction to causing the deaths of those that had eluded it for so long. Everypony got an equal chance at life, and hers was more than spent. Now he could move to assassinate her as was his job as the Aspect of death. When he confirmed his target’s presence he swept into the room. The room was bright, sterile, and quite chilly. It was filled with a little group of nurses, several doctors and a trio of surgeons. Death hadn’t bothered to find out what sort of surgery it was, it didn’t really matter. None of the ponies saw him. None could ever see Death coming unless they happened to be an Aspect. Or that strange pink mare. He’d think on her more later, right now he was working. Leaning over the operation table, he reached out with a chilly hoof. It passed through the body and into her chest cavity. Growling, he fished around for the soul. Ah, there it was, hiding behind her left lung. (If anyone ever asks, your soul is usually either behind your left lung or next to your kidney. Whoever said it was in your heart or mind was just pulling your leg) Reaching rudely, up to his shoulder in her body, he pulled the mare’s soul out. It was like a sticky cobweb, clinging to the body. Just then all sorts of medical machines started going off. The doctors started to panic and the surgeons to sweat. Nurses rushed back and forth, they were all trying to save the elderly mare until—!

Bweeeeee----!

She was gone. Her chest rose up, then deflated for the last time. Death gently pushed the soul, a sticky little blob of cloud, under his cloak. It was thick with the experiences of a long and full life, and would no doubt have no issues working to the great beyond. He looked up at the fallen faces of the surgeons and nurses. He’d grown used to those looks years ago, and they no longer affected him. Sweeping from the room, he paused in the terminal illness hall to pick up two more souls. Then another in a different wing. Hospitals were often the place for Death to interfere, and by the time he came away from the building he had eight souls under his cloak. They floated meagerly in his ribcage. He hadn’t really eaten them, per say, but he didn’t exactly have pockets. That seemed as good of a place as any to keep them safe. Souls were precious, after all. Death would’ve sighed if he had lungs.

Now then. The pink one. He would have to go observe her in his mortal form. Death incarnate could not go anywhere that wasn’t expecting a death, so he would have to be somewhat undercover. Or perhaps—! Wait. Wait wait. There was a kharmatic death approaching. Turning to follow the tingle running down his spine, Death found his eyes resting on the Ponyville Library.

Cantering down the street seen by nopony at all, he walked, ghost-like, through the door. His cloak made him more than just boney-looking. Peering around at the shelves and shelves of books, he wasn’t sure anypony was home until he heard a crashing of glass downstairs. Sweeping down the stairs, he found a lavender mare working busily to clean up a chemical stain on the floor. It looked like some sort of science lab. Ohhh, the perfect place for an untimely death, he smiled inwardly.

“Ugh!” Twilight Sparkle said. “I’m never going to get this right!” she pouted, igniting her horn with magic to turn on a bunson burner and try again. Turning, she studied the three chalkboards she’d filled with calculations, formulae and flowing charts. Death stared at them all, but couldn’t make heads or tails of them. Buuut, if a kharmatic death was due around here somewhere, perhaps he could do a bit more. Twilight was busily writing on the first chalkboard with a floating piece of chalk, her face scrunched into an adorable expression of concentration. She looked over her shoulder at her chemistry set up. That was right. That was right. Oop, no that needed adjusting. Twilight went over and busily started adjusting the plastic tubes around the glass phials and containers. While her back was turned, Death changed a singular number in Twilight Sparkle’s calculations. He had no idea what said number would change, but if the last number had made a phial explode than surely a higher one would make an even greater effect. He was careful not to smudge so it wouldn’t look like it had been altered. Then he stood back. Twilight returned to the chalkboards, eyeing the long formula with a critical eye. “Oh THAT’S what I did wrong!” She chuckled merrily, turning around to make the adjustment he’d made in her mathematics.

Death waited, smiling inwardly. It wasn’t often he got serious fireworks with somepony’s death. Twilight Sparkle funneled all the desired chemicals into a beaker, heated it, turned it so it would filter into another beaker, stirred it lightly with a glass prod, then went over to her phial rack. Taking two of them from the selection, she went back to the concoction. Leaning close, she held her breath as she undid the stoppers. One drop of each would do. Her tongue came out of her mouth, curling up in concentration. Death leaned forward eagerly. The first one dripped. The mixture hissed and frothed violently. The second phial tilted—

“Twilight no!” Pinkamina thundered down the stairs into Twilight’s lab, tackling her mightily! The mare squealed when they both hit the wall with a crash. The phial went careening out of control and broke on the floor, burning a hole in the wood with a loud hiss.

“Pinkamina what are you doing?!” Twilight squealed, shoving the mare off of her with a cry.

“Saving your life!” Pinkamina snapped, righting herself with a toss of her mane.

“You practically gave me whiplash!” Twilight complained, getting up and rubbing the back of her mane. “Did you have to tackle me like that?!” she moaned a little, sore from the assault.

“It’s better than you blowing yourself up.” Pinkamina said angrily, turning and sweeping her gaze across the room. There he was. ‘I see you’ she mouthed at the spectre of Death. He shuddered with unbridled anger, teeth clattering and his head tossing. Insufferable cotton-candy-maned wretch! How did she know?!

“This experiment is perfectly safe!” Twilight gestured to her three chalkboards. “I’ve made all the calculations perfectly.”

“No you didn’t. You were about to blow yourself up.” Pinkamina said firmly. “Check it again.”

Twilight Sparkle rolled her eyes. She doubted very much that Pinkamina could grasp such advanced calculations. But if it would get her out of her lab sooner, fine… She leaned with a discerning eye. That was fine. The amount was good. Then there was the heat, yes yes that was… no. No it wasn’t. That was way too hot! “What?” Twilight stepped back, reworking the problem in her head without even writing it. “But if it’s that hot it would react far more violently and--!”

“Explode like a powder keg?” Pinkamina offered, turning her nose up and closing her eyes in a mightier-than-thou way. Twilight Sparkle blushed, turning and looking at the pink mare apologetically. The purple unicorn turned her ears back, a little pathetic. “Yes, exactly.” Pinkamina pushed her mane behind her ear, looking around the room again. While Death seethed in the corner, unsure what to do, she pondered anything else he’d done to make Twilight’s death imminent. Nothing that she could see. “Just be careful, huh?”

Twilight sulked a little, but nodded. She didn’t want to blow herself up. Death and Pinkamina exchanged an icy glance. She gestured with a toss of her head for him to come outside with her. “Thank you…” Twilight offered meekly as Pinkamina left.

“Yep.” The pink mare said flatly, for more interesting quarry was following her. Death swept his cloak along the stairs, his frame clattering hollowly as he made his way outside. They stood outside, staring at each other. The early winter made it dark outside already. Squaring off with each other in the darkness, she stared into his face. “I can’t let you run around killing ponies like that. Let them die of natural causes.” She demanded. Death tossed his head back, clattering his jaw animatedly. That was his laughing sound, she already knew. “What are you planning next?” she said, voice flat and demanding. He went a little more still, staring at her. “Well?” she snapped, tossing her curtain-like mane impatiently. “Speak up!” she lifted a hoof, leaning forward like she might strike him at any moment. Death’s jaws opened all the way and he tilted his head back at her. No tongue, no lips, she suddenly realized. “Oh. You can’t.” she face-hoofed with frustration. Clatter-clatter-clatter laughing. Growling, she raised her hoof to threaten him. “Go someplace else, then. I have friends and companions here, and I will always be there before you. Always!” she promised.

Death cocked his head. Was that a challenge? A mortal mare challenging the Aspect of Death? While under his regalia he was no different than she, in his current form she didn’t have a prayer. His molten glare rose in temperature, replacing the black eye sockets with flickering red. She snarled at him, pawing the ground a few times with her hoof. Leaning, he swatted a patch of ice lilies (a winter flower) with his hoof. They turned black in an instant, then burst into ash. Warning enough?

Pinkamina charged head-on, shouting wordlessly. Death Lowered his head, squaring his shoulders and clattering his jaw a few times. Standing in front of the library door it would be more than easy. The pink mare rocketed into him— passed straight through like he was a ghost— and slammed herself face-first into the door. Blood blossomed from her muzzle and she staggered with a screeching cry. Death’s jaw rattled and his whole frame shuddered with silent, helpless laughter.

Death stood to one side when Twilight Sparkle came to the door. “Rainbow Dash you need to stop flying into the— oh it’s you, Pinkamina.” The purple mare looked surprised. “I thought you’d gone. Hey, you’re bleeding!” she looked alarmed, for the trickle of red on her face was growing bigger by the moment.

Staggering to her feet, Pinkemina shouted, “Ba’g off! I’m fi’h!” as best she could. She hadn’t broken her nose, but the free-flowing blood made her sound terrible. She walked sideways for a time, disoriented and angry. She looked back and forth for Death, but didn’t see him anywhere. A trail of black mist remained where he once stood, and soon that was gone as well. She swore colorfully, making Twilight’s nose wrinkle a little. As the pink mare rushed away into the night, the innocent librarian made a face at the splatter of blood on her door. Eww.

=-=-=-=

The Midnight Court in Canterlot was not often attended by many ponies. To the point where Luna had taken to reading novels during it. She was lucky to get ten ponies on any given night, compared to her sister who saw hundreds every day. It bothered the wrathful goddess of the night, but at least she had her lunar stallions to play with. The private guards were more ornaments than anything, but they were handsome and fun to play tricks on. Chuckling, she often played phantom sounds to keep them on their toes. A tinkling of glass in a dark corner here, a hiss of a snake in that one over there. They’d gotten into the habit of checking her over their shoulders, for she could not keep a straight face when she was being playful.

Soon, a stallion approached her, cloaked in darkness. She looked up, then let out a breath. It was not who she thought, but a stranger off the street. He fell to all four knees and bowed until his mane grazed the floor. “Your respect pleases us, stranger. Speak thy name and voice thy concerns.” Luna said, her mane floating ethereal with no breeze at all. “What brings thou to the Midnight Courts, to the princess of the night?!” it wasn’t quite the Royal Canterlot Voice, but it was pretty close.

He pulled his hood back, meek before the goddess’ presence. Her twin royal guards gave their customary once-overs. Judging him not a threat, they stayed as stock-still as they usually were. “Your Majesty--!” he bowed once more, then finally rose to his hooves.

“Speak, citizen!” Luna said aloud, leaning forward with interest. He’d come in cloak and hood, perhaps not wanting to be identified by other ponies. But here all was to be laid bare if help was to be expected.

“My name is Mountain Hide. I am… infertile.” He blurted. There was silence, and Luna blink-blinked. Don’t laugh. Do not laugh. Whatever you do do not laugh. It was so flat and blatent, though! “My grand-mammy told my wife and I that you were also a goddess of fertility, not just a goddess of the night.”

“A goddess of death as well!” Luna thundered, making sure he got the complete picture. The stallion fell to his knees shivering, then all the way to his belly to bow in fear. “We serve many functions, stallion! Why dost thou come before us with such a statement?!” she leaned forward on her throne, as vocal as ever.

“I was… I was hoping you could help me with that.” He said, his face turning a lovely shade of scarlet. “My wife and I have tried everything. Herbs, medicine, artificial insemination…” he trailed off, squirming uncomfortably at speaking aloud of such private matters. “And we want a foal or two so, so badly!” He looked up at his goddess pleadingly.

Luna considered Mountain Hide with a steely frown, eyeing him up and down. It had been millennia since such a request had been made of her. Celestia had complained to her perhaps a month ago that no one asked for marriages to be blessed anymore, and that saddened her a bit. It was a happy pleasure to see each new couple before they started their lives together. Now, a thousand years later, this stallion merely wanted offspring with his beloved. “What makest thou think we would raise a hoof to help thee? Perhaps your infertility is decided by fate, and you shalt have no foals!” she raised a commanding hoof, then stomped it.

“But you’re a goddess!” he cried, tears rushing to his big soft eyes. “You can do anything!” his voice cracked a little. “Please! You are our last hope! I would not bother you otherwise! Even if it was just for one night, please!” He pleaded with hooves pressed together.

His blind conviction that Luna could do anything pleased her. While it wasn’t strictly true, it made her feel a bit better about the Midnight Court being so empty. She rose from her throne, which startled her guards out of their dazes. Walking down the steps of the dais, she came to stand in front of him. He sank to his belly again, shivering and not daring to look into her face. Her massive hoof reached out, pressing hard under his chin to tilt his head up. “Look upon us, Mountain Hide.” She said aloud, leaning forward. He did so, not so sure his outburst hadn’t just gotten him thrown in a dungeon or something. “Thy faith in us pleases us.” She smiled gently, then tugged his head forward and pressed her lips into his mane. She kissed the top of his head, tender. There was something magical, something wonderful, about the gesture. He felt a certain virility rise within his chest. “Thy seed shalt be fertile until dawn. Go home, and be with thy wife.” She decreed. “Upon the dawn, thou shalt be as barren as thou were when thou entered our court.”

“Oh thank you, my princess! Thank you! Thank you!” he wept and kissed her hooves and blubbered helplessly.

“Begone with you!” Luna said bombastically after a few moments, a smile of mischief on her lips. “Thy clock is ticking, and no mare enjoys a soggy-eyed stallion!” that sent Mountain Hide running. His hoof-beats faded with distance and she smirked a bit. Both Lunar stallions gave her silent, curious looks. “Poor guilt-ridden fool.” She said, shaking her head. “Twas not he who was infertile. Twas his wife.” She allowed herself a small smile. “Though, we can appreciate a stallion that takes the initiative to please his wife.” A chuckle rose to her lips and she went back to her throne. Sitting daintily upon it, she informed the lunar stallions. “She shalt be fertile for a night, then. I deem it so.”

A black chuckle echoed over the high vaulting ceiling of the Midnight Court. The startled expression on Princess Luna’s face told the lunar stallions it was not one of her pranks. They sprang forward, looking around feverishly. A pair of eyes watched them from the deepest corner, in shadow. “It is good to know that the magic of a goddess is going to good use.”
“What brings thou to our court, Death?” Luna frowned, not rising from her throne. The expression she wore was, at best, annoyed, at worst, angry. The lunar stallions backed off a bit, but still flanked the princess.

“Ten more kharmatic deaths.” He said, not moving from shadow. “I have ten more souls for the great beyond.” Luna almost grimaced, but held her expression neutral. He worked fast. Although he’d been Death for some time now, he could not deposit the souls he collected without princess Luna’s aid.

“Thy work in Ponyville is… more rapid than expected.” Luna said, raising a dinner-plate-sized hoof. On the far wall, a portal RIPPED itself open, spinning into existence. Both Lunar stallions covered their faces, for no mortal pony could look beyond the veil and stay sane. Luna waited patiently while Death donned his cape and exploded into flame, illuminating the shadows he stood in. Emerging as a skeleton of unholy, fear-inducing darkness, he pulled back the side of his cloak. The princess watched him work gingerly. Call him anything she desired, he certainly knew how to handle tender things like souls. Depositing them into the portal, he nodded with a clack of his boney jaws. The portal snapped shut, and there was silence. “What news if any, stallion of Death?” the princess of the night ventured, cocking her head at him.

Death tilted his head, reaching and undoing the clasp on his cloak. His organs, muscles, skin and fur imploded back onto his body. “There is a pink mare in Ponyville that can see me.” He grouched at her. “I don’t like it.”

“We know of her. She is called ‘Pinkamina’. She disobeys us often.” Luna growled a little, trying to keep up her regal posture as she placed her royal hindquarters back onto the pillow where they belonged.

“Why not just kill her?” Death said flatly.

“We did. She didn’t stay dead.” Luna said, rolling her eyes in a very un-princess-like way.

Death looked startled. “What?!” he hoofed at the ground a few times. “Is she immortal?!”

“No. A foalhood accident split her mind in two. We only killed half of it.” The alicorn stopped the conversation and briefly filled him in on everything that had happened thus far. She saw his scowl deepen into a grimace of disapproval. “Hast thou encountered her many times?” Luna asked.

“Three times so far, yes. She tried to charge me head on today. Broke her face on a door.” He smiled grimly when Luna threw her head back and laughed like a thunderstorm. The room shuddered on its foundations before she managed to stifle herself, an honest look of embarrassment on her face. Shaking her head, she bade him to continue. “She won’t give up, will she?” Luna shook her head. “She’s already prevented… what… at least five deaths now?” He scowled dangerously, pulling his hood back up and closing his cloak around himself. “I already tried to iron out several of the deaths she made me miss before. A stallion called Big Macintosh, a filly named Applebloom, and a stallion called Lickity Split. She has blocked me at every turn, and the fabric of fate will get wrinkled at this rate.”

“It is thy job to iron out such wrinkles.” Luna said a little snottily.

“I know, princess.” Death growled, reaching for the clasps. “But no mortal mare can stay the hoof of death forever. If I have to stop her directly, I will.” He glared at nothing, then snapped the clasp of his cloak. His body began to melt into its skeletal form, catching fire by magic.

“Thou cannot just go touch her, Death. Her death is not destined to be so blunt.” Luna warned, frowning. “Much less so blatant.”

“Doesn’t keep me from sticking a knife in her back, while in my mortal forra-a-a-rm.” His mouth and tongue exploded into dark fire, rendering him speechless. Soon he was skeletal again, ash raining down around his hooves. He tossed his head a few times, rearing up and then vanishing into a puff of black mist. If he could not beat Pinkamina as Death, that wouldn’t keep a perfectly mortal stallion from just murdering her.



End of Part 3