• 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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Pinkamina

Seeing the Pattern 2: Death Take You
Part 5: Pinkamina

Celestia allowed herself a small sigh of relief when the Sunshine Court was finally over for the day. While being a goddess of the day and half the royal authority of Equestria had its perks, there were certainly endless responsibilities. Leaning, she flicked her eyes over an open schedule scroll next to her. “Captain Grey, Sun Stare, we’ll be having a very special guest shortly. Send tea to the royal gardens and secure the area as you see fit.” She told her twin private guards. They snapped their salutes and were away. They were more ornaments than anything, since it was impossible to kill a goddess with any mortal weapon, but she did enjoy ordaining as many ponies as she could with tasks. It made them feel important, and certainly helped them bring bread home to their loved ones.

The sun princess stepped daintily off of her throne, bowing her head ceremoniously to anypony left in the grand room. Stretching her wings as wide as they would go for a moment, she cocked her head. She could sense the powerful magic presence in the garden already. She took the time to freshen up, pass pleasant smiles to all who looked upon her, and stop in her room for a moment. Turning, Celestia passed Luna’s room on the way out. She cocked an ear, then heard the quiet sounds of her breathing within. While neither goddess needed to eat, sleep, drink, or even manually walk from place to place— together they’d decided such things were necessary. It helped them relate to their mortal subjects, and made them seem less overwhelming. If Luna wanted to she could sleep for a couple of thousand years, but she would rise at dusk as usual. Smiling privately, the sun princess was away and down some stairs to the main hall. All whom she passed bowed and she favored them with smiles, lighting up their day with her presence. It was good to be princess.

Celestia arrived at the royal gardens to find the private area meant for such meetings freshly cleaned. There was a stalwart solar stallion standing… say that three times fast… at each exit, each at attention. At a stone picnic table surrounded by flowers was a dull yellow pony with an orange, poofy mane and tail. She had sprigs of leaves atop her head like a dainty crown, and just looking at her made birds want to sing. The sun princess smiled, approaching. “Mother Nature, so good to see you.” She said, smiling as she found a seat at the table. “What news?”

“Princess Celestia.” She bowed and kissed her princess’ hoof gently. “The flowers and trees sing your praises.” Mother Nature said coyly. If Celestia had been a few thousand years younger, she would have blushed at such praise.

“So formal!” Celestia smiled as a servant came silently by to leave them a tray with tea. Mother Nature reached, but the princess wouldn’t let her. “Ah ah, the host pours for the guest.” She said with a bemused look. Mother Nature was young enough to turn pink in the cheeks. “Here you are.” She levitated the tea to her guest. The mare thanked her, taking it gracefully and sipping. Both allowed the other two sips before anymore words passed between them.

“Winter is almost here, so I thought I might drop by to see you.” Mother Nature said.

“Oh, let’s not linger on formalities. Will you take your crown off so I can see the real you, my little pony?” Celestia asked in earnest. It wasn’t a command, just a request from a very close friend.

Mother Nature cocked her head a little, looking around at all the guards. She would seem to just pop into existence to them, it took a special pony to be able to physically see the Aspects in their Aspect form. Celestia could see her, sure, but… she smiled politely, setting her teacup down. Working gently as not to pull out her mane, she undid the crown from her hair and lifted it from her head. The flowers that had bloomed idly around her vanished, the birds suddenly seemed less interested, and the perfume of a thousand little fruit trees faded. The cutie mark of a trio of carrots appeared on her flanks, and she winked into the view of mortal ponies. They guards posted around the concrete picnic table area gave a start, but Celestia raised a hoof before they came charging in. Now it was Carrot Top, not Mother Nature, that sat across from princess Celestia. She set her Aspect regalia gently on the table. “I feel a little naked without it, here.” She gestured gently, giving a shy smile.

“You are just as beautiful as your normal, noble self, Carrot Top.” Celestia praised her and the mare blushed, hiding her quiet smile behind her teacup. Spreading her wings a little to rest the ache of their weight, the princess leaned to sip her tea. “So, have things been going well in Ponyville?” she asked in a veiled way.

Carrot Top smiled a little guiltily. “I’ve gotten slightly bigger carrots this year, thanks to a little magical help.” She confessed. She wasn’t supposed to use her powers for selfish gain, but she had to pay the bills and the Apple Family made a serious market competitor. The princess smiled bemusedly, and they both knew that wasn’t what she meant. “Death is growing more frustrated.” She finally confessed with a sigh.

“I wish you would call him by his real name.” Celestia said softly, but Carrot Top shook her head.

“We Aspects try not to speak eachother’s names aloud. We don’t want our identities given away, even if ponies like you know all three of us.” It truly hurt to defy her princess, but Carrot Top had to respectfully decline. Celestia closed her eyes briefly, but did not scold the fiery-maned mare. Privacy was a big deal to the mortal races, she had to respect it. (That was one reason the first covenant was not to read their minds) She could certainly understand that sometimes less trustworthy guards would talk, and that the information might leak its way out into the public. A small chance, but still a chance.

“Very well.” Said Celestia gently. Carrot Top gave her a guilty, pouting lip. Thinking quickly, the sun princess went on. “I assume Pinkamina is still giving him trouble?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” Carrot Top gossiped a little more casually now, which pleased her goddess. “He’s been really quiet and frustrated lately. He didn’t talk much to begin with, but now he’s silent as the grave, trying to think of ways to outwit her. She just always gets there before he does, it’s bizarre.” She sipped her tea.

“Pinkamina is an odd one, but she won’t be able to stop him forever. She’ll make mistakes.” Celestia said less gently than before. Carrot Top looked up at her goddess, concerned. “I wouldn’t worry too much, everything will be alright in the end.”

“Death isn’t like me or Father Time.” Carrot Top mumbled, staring into her tea. “He’s quiet, calculating… easy to provoke.” She didn’t like bad-mouthing her colleague, but it was true. “I worry for him, is all.” She confessed, looking up into Celestia’s eyes at last.

“Being an Aspect of Fate isn’t easy.” Celestia said, nodding her understanding. “Different ponies take it in different ways.” She scooted gently around the table and stroked Carrot Top’s mane gently, lovingly. “I want you to know you’re doing very well, I could not have asked for a better Mother Nature.” She watched the mare smile shyly and nod. “Let my sister and I worry about… Death, and you continue to do your job. I know winter is your off-season, but keep on anyway.” Reaching with her magic, she refilled both teacups.

Carrot Top and Princess Celestia talked about this and that for perhaps an hour before it was time to part ways. “Thank you for visiting with me, my princess.” The orange-maned mare bowed deeply and pecked her goddess’ hooves. Reaching for the leafy crown, she placed it back on her head. It twisted to hold onto her mane. Her cutie mark vanished. Ice lilies sprung up around her, and birds sang her praises as soon as they spotted her. She seemed to have a more radiant glow than a normal mortal pony. She sighed at the heady rush of magic that exploded through her body.

“It was good to see you, Mother Nature.” Celestia bent to kiss her on the head. Mother Nature squirmed just a little, and mischief played across her features for a split second. There was a sudden hot rush in Celestia’s veins, and she flushed as her whole body tensed for a moment. The guards raised their brows as their princess and ruler let out a flushed, “Eep!” and swatted at air unceremoniously. Mother Nature danced away, giggling good-naturedly. Though ponies were only ‘in season’ during early spring, she could inspire heated desire anytime with a touch. Not even Celestia herself was immune. “Go on now, you playful little minx!” The sun princess laughed, rubbing at her own cheek for a few moments. Mother Nature let the feeling pass, winked, and was away. The guards around the little courtyard slackened their stances a little, at ease. It wasn’t often their goddess laughed like that. They liked the sound.

=-=-=-=

Pinkamina was miserable. She awoke with a head-blasting headache and moaned quietly. Lickity Split gave a start, having fallen asleep watching over her. “Oh, you’re awake! Good! Take this medicine.” He had what looked like a basting tool in his mouth, leaning and shoving it into hers. He squeezed the rubbery, knobby part and something FOUL forced its way down her throat. She gagged and sputtered, but he apologized with ice water. She drank greedily, her throat was on fire. “You’ve been bedridden for days now, really sick.” He told her. She started to rise, but grew dizzy and fell again. “Hey no no no, lay back, good.” He stroked her mane over and over.

“How long have I been like this?” she croaked.

“Four days now.” He told her sympathetically. “I had to get a doctor to make a house call, I was afraid to move you.” The stallion leaned, putting a little tray of various foods into her view. Apple slices, carrots, cherries, tomatoes, and lots of other little things she could chew up with one bite. “Let’s see your fever…” he leaned forward and pressed his lips to her forehead. She rolled her eyes, smirking a little. “Hmm! Better than yesterday.” He smiled, pushing the tray within her reach. Pinkamina ate mightily, which pleased her stallion to no end. “You really pushed yourself hard last time you went out so late.” He said quietly. “You got sick, and your bruised ribs didn’t exactly help.”

“Sorry.” She offered between small bites.

“I’m… sorry I yelled at you. And hit you like that.” Lickity’s ears turned back shamefully. “I was just so worried, and you came home looking like that and…” he fell into a rather emotional silence. Looking up from her food, Pinkamina felt a twinge of guilt. The stallion was not hard-edged like her. He had feelings and woes that needed to be soothed. If she was going to be a good companion, she would need to take care of him. Reaching, she cupped his cheek with her hoof. He looked at her with soft eyes, smiling bashfully.

Pinkamina stroked his face a couple of times, then went back to her meal. “Mine.” She snapped when he reached to help himself to a carrot, swatting his nose. He chuckled at her, knowing she must’ve been feeling better if she was doing things like that. Her subtle, straight-faced humor was growing on him more and more each day. “I’ll try to be careful.” She amended after a long silence. He beamed at her.

“You’ll stay here and get well, for now. If you kill yourself trying to keep others from getting killed, that kind of defeats the purpose.” Lickity Split told her. She was forced to agree. Going out while sick would not help, she wouldn’t be at her best. He waited while she ate, telling her little bits of gossip and telling her about the ins and outs of what had happened in the ice cream parlor lately. Business was slow because of the cold weather, but there were always ponies with sweet tooths to be had. When the stallion saw she was done, he pulled something new out from under the bed. “I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to give you this, but…” he trailed off a little embarrassedly, showing her a frost-covered canister.

“What’s that?” she said, turning her head and honestly a little tired now that she’d stuffed herself. He scrapped his hoof over the label. “Sea Salt… Wave?” it was an ice cream sample bucket, one of the small ones. “How long have you had that?”

“Since I asked you out for the first time.” Lickity confessed, a little warm in the cheeks. She smiled at him just a little. “Ice cream doesn’t really go bad for years and years if you keep it chilled, so I saved it.” He said softly. Peeling the top off, he pulled a waiting spoon from the night stand. “Wanna try it?”

“Is it actually salty?” she said suspiciously. “You know I don’t like sweets.”

“Try it.” He said, shoving a spoonful into her mouth. Pinkamina worked her mouth a little. It was soothing to her achy throat, like the ice water had been. It had sugar in it, like an ice cream, then the flavor washed over her tongue. It was nice. Lickity Split smiled as she worked it over and over in her mouth.

“I can feed myself.” She tried to protest, but no he wouldn’t let her.

“Here comes the Luna express!” he said playfully, waving the next spoonful at her.

“I will end y—!” she gulped the next mouthful when he shoved it in, tamed by the wonderful taste. This exchange went back and forth with all different playful phrases and deadly threats, until she was full. “Tired…” she said, and he put the ice cream as well as the food tray away. He tucked her in, fluffing her pillows and setting a new glass of water by the bed. She glanced at the clock. It was night.

“I’ve got a few more things to do before bed, you go on to sleep.” He kissed her forehead, stroking her mane. She was furious at being so weak, so helpless, her frail stallion looking after her. She wanted to be up, to be moving around and getting things done. There was so much to do, deaths to prevent and… and… sleepy… she sagged, her eyelids like lead weights that pulled her down into the warm inky darkness of recovery.

Death stood in the corner of the room.

Now was his chance. The stallion had gone, and Pinkamina was helpless. Checking that Lickity Split was gone to the front of the shop, he undid the clasp of his cloak. An animated fwoosh of flame conjured his mortal body back to the physical realm. He blinked into existence, a perfectly mortal stallion. Panting a little as the magic rushed away from his body, he cocked his head to one side until he heard the bones in his neck popping.

Savoring the moment, he loomed over the sleeping Pinkamina. She’d muddled his plans far too often. She had to be stopped. Reaching beneath his cloak, he pulled a knife. He didn’t want to murder her… well, no, yes he did. He’d just never had to physically stop somepony before. This had called for extreme measures. He couldn’t have ponies missing their deaths willy-nilly, there would be too much corruption in the fabric of fate. It was his job to keep it smooth. His, Mother Nature’s, and Father Time’s. Taking the knife in his teeth, he leaned over her. The pink mare moaned quietly, turning over and facing him. Her mane fell over her face. He paused, but no, she was still asleep. Her illness and injury were nicely timed. Raising the blade, he saw her curtain-like mane part.

Death paused again, looking at her up close for the first time. In her sleep she did not scowl or make angry eyes at the world like she always seemed to. Why did all the holy terrors of fate and destiny have to be beautiful? Could evil not always be ugly? It would’ve made it much easier to murder her. Shrugging and knowing his time was short he raised the knife high and—!

“Oop, forgot to turn out the lights.” Lickity Split chuckled, coming back into the room and rolling his eyes at his own forgetfulness. He was so caught up in Pinkamina’s recovery and healthy appetite, he’d forgotten to douse the lamps. “What the-!” he saw the black, cloaked figure poised over Pinkamina, who quickly turned to glare murder at him. The ice cream stallion went pale, for the backlighting of the lanterns hid the intruders face and made him look like a massive black shadow. “HEY YOU!” he shouted, rushing forward to defend his mare.

Death panicked briefly. Lickity Split would fight with all he had for the knife in his teeth. He was not tonight’s target. He was not due to die yet. Grr… Pinkamina could die later, when she was alone. Making a split-second decision, the stallion dropped the knife and activated his regalia. Exploding into violent flame he vanished in a rush of black smoke. Lickity passed through his ethereal form and slammed head-on into the wall. Exposed, Death fled for the moment. Lickity, a far frailer pony than his love, could not withstand charging head-on into a hard surface like that. He fell in a heap, out cold.

The next morning...

Pinkamina awoke much stronger than before. She turned over in bed with a soft moan, then gave a start when she saw Lickity sprawled out on the floor. She prodded him a few times with her hoof, and he stirred. “Ohhh, my head.” He moaned, holding his face a little. When he turned to look at her, she saw a beautiful bruise on his right eye, and her brow went up. “Pinkamina! You’re safe!” he threw his arms around her. “I saw him! I saw Death!” The story came spilling out all at once, and the pink mare asked lots of questions.

An assassination attempt. Death had grown more bold. Interesting.



End of Part 5