• Published 21st Mar 2024
  • 1,144 Views, 26 Comments

Saved!!! - ArchoPony

A human fell through one of Midnight's portals; and now he's in a 7,000 foot free fall while slowing transforming into a horse.

  • ...

9 - Gaunlet of Espionage - Part 1

It had been a few days, and he was still thinking about it.

His talk with Applejack had done his mental state no favors, with him dreading the private apologies most of all. Luckily none of this wasn't until he met all of Twilight's friends, and Twilight thought he was ready.

Going undercover as a Pegasus to avoid further tension was a brilliant idea. I wounder if Applejack was the original pony that had it.
He was trying to take her advice and not focus to much on the metaphorical finish line, rather the road under his hoofs, but that's where the analogy started to break down; He wasn't very good at friendship. Not emotionally or mentally.

He appreciated Applejack's honesty, for all that was worth. He didn't outwardly show this, due to a distinct lack of social skills in that area. He just hoped that in his willingness to cooperate she understood... somehow.

Spike ran by, glowing.

Huh. Dragon thing?

He found himself reminded of one of his hangout sessions with Discord, where he had convinced him to open a haunted house instead of trolling some poor old lady by making her plants glow every time she wasn't looking directly at them.

He apologized for Discord, and luckily she was forgiving. Even laughed a bit.

At least he still had the amulet Discord had given him. One press and there he would be, ready to solve any danger that presented itself. It was a very calming thought. Why hadn't anyone else thought to do this sooner?

Oh well. They probably did, just not given him one before he himself had asked Discord for a copy. What's Starlight up too?

He had found her In her usual spot, reading and practicing casting.
“ Oh hi. “ He said with quaintness.

“ Hello. “ Starlight got up from her table.

“ Did you need something? “
“ No not really. “ He said.

“ Oh, so you just wanted to say hi? “

That response broke him a bit.

“ O- Um- No. “ He chirped out. Starlight looked concerned.
“ Not the saying hi thing, Coming here just to say hi. “ He stumbled into a bad response.

Starlight cocked an eyebrow.
“ Ok fine. “ He admitted. “ Do you know where Twilight is? “ He asked

' Oh. ' She thought to herself, surprised. She must have misread him; the real reason she didn't ' get it ' couldn't possibly be he just sucks at communicating.
She was too used to be able to read everypony back in her village.
Too bad she hasn't met Maud yet.

“ What for? “ She asked.

“ The magic book I got – It's too hard to understand. “ He admitted as he dropped the book from his wing-basket.
“ Either I'm just dumb or I'm missing some very important context. “
“ No, No! Your not dumb. “ She confidently stated.

They both paused for a bit. That interaction;; especially that last sentence... seem too genuine. As if they felt they shouldn't be enjoying themselves at all due to their past.

“ Um. Your not dumb. “ Starlight finally broke the silence.
Things had returned to a normal state of “meh”

“ Well thanks. I'm not dumb. “ he further implied with minor confidence.
“ But wait- “ He was about to ask

Starlight tilted her head slightly sideways in questioning.
“ Isn't Twilight the magic expert here? So shouldn't I be asking her? “

Starlight was holding back a smirk.
“ I'd say I'm pretty good at magic too. “ She said, still fighting back the same boastful smirk.

“ Come on. “ stated Ponder

“ I know that look. Even as an alien I know that look. “ He wanted an answer.

“ Oh, fine. “ She surrendered.

“ I fought Twilight to a standstill many times. “

“ Like, 8 times. “

Ponder was backing away.
“ IN THE PAST! IN THE PAST! “ She rebuked.

“ Will I ever live that down? “ She questioned out loud, eyes widening at that mistake.
“ Not entirely, I think people will still bring it up, but I think the context around it will change. “ He replied, too autistic to realize that was a rhetorical question not meant for his ears.

“ Really? “ She asked, sarcasm intentionally inserted into the word.
“ Yes. “, “ Or, At least that's how it worked in my world. “ Ponder replied, half an eyebrow raised to her sarcasm. At least to him, it did come out of nowhere.

“ Yeah but you don't count. “ She said waving a hoof and picking up another book with her magic. She prodded her brain for a valid excuse.
“ Like you said your LITTERALLY an alien! “ minor playfulness in her voice.

“ And? “ He asked.
Starlight waited for his counterargument, hoping to be proven wrong.
She didn't get her hopes up.

He noticed she was waiting for him. He responded.

“ The fact that a ' literal ' alien is so closely related to your mentality to spite such massive physical differences “ He stood up on his hind legs, starting to use his front legs as arms to make a point “ Should mean that there's at least some universal way to how we living beings think! “ He ended his last word as a upbeat professor would.

Starlight was astounded. Mouth half open.
She smiled.

“ Well, Thanks. “ She was wiping something from her eyes; her voice getting teary.
“ Uugh. “ Ponder muttered, getting back down on all 4's and leaning back.

“ OH good. “ Starlight was back to her usual self.

“ Now I get to question you about something you didn't mean to say. “ she said with minor sass.
She paused for a moment in hesitation.

“ So, what gives? “ Starlight had minor concern and hurt written all over her.
He immediately had a response ready.
“ It's not you, It's just I get uncomfortable around too many emotions. “

“ So, like Discord? “

“ No! No. Not that. “ He rushed in a response.
“ I'm not disgusted, I'm unconformable around the mushy stuff. “ He clarified.

“ Twilight really has here work cut out for her, huh? “ Starlight said off handily.

“ Yeah. I guess she does. “ Ponder was impressed with her assessment.

He had never thought about that. He only focused on doing whatever Twilight wanted, as a way to make up for her kindness. He was alarmed at himself for almost forgetting such a crucial detail.
' That's why she's very busy and sometimes forgets things ' ; he had closure on that train of thought.

“ Ponder? “ Starlight asked, as he had been staring into space in the middle of the conversation.

“ OH RIGHT. We were talking. “ He replied in monotone.

Starlight giggled.
Ponder frowned.

“ Sorry, Sorry! “ She looked away and up while waving a hoof.
“ So, uh, anything else? “ She had mistakenly displayed social anxiety for wanting to rush the conversation. Hopefully Ponder wouldn't be too offended.

“ Oh. I was going to ask if you could recommend a entry level magic book, but if your busy... “
“ Oh no! “ She replied with regret. “ I'll actually walk you through it, If you'll let me. “ She offered and apologized.

“ Oh. Yeah. Sure! “ He responded with optimism.
She immediately got into it.

“ I definitely can't recommend most starter books from my childhood “, “ But I do have some new favorites from later in life, most are here, some are in the other wings. “
She cast magic as she went along, all the books sorting themselves and flying into place.
She found the ones she was looking for.

“ Wow Starlight, If I didn't know any better “
He was now in a volcanic wasteland, with dragons spread thinly across the flat rocky landscape along with a single nearby rock with 4 eyes.

“ You could have actually been a teacher! “ He said with minor sarcasm.


Oh no.

He had been teleported to an unknown location.

His eyes started to dilate. His heart pounded. He looked around. Discord? Here? He was looking at him. Saying something? No time to read emotions.

He turned around constantly, looking for potential threats.

=== Twilight Sparkle ===

Twilight had had enough of Discord's shenanigans. This was a serious situation. She was about to say something, when Ponder started to foam at the mouth and started shouting:


He then looked to Discord.
His state of panic becoming more focused by the second.
“ Oh. Um. Sorry? “ Discord apologized. ' For what? ' He was thinking.

He looked around some more.
The rock now had no eyes but now four eye holes.

Spike was there. Still glowing. He wasn't looking his way, though. Weird.
In fact, none of the dragons were.

“ Whats going on!? “ He asked Discord, in a much more controlled manner.
Ehm. I brought you here to give you the credit you deserve! “ He said, arms outstretched towards him with... uncertainty?
' A first for Discord ' Ponder was thinking.
" Annnd I had hoped to use you to make a point. " Visible embarrassment on his face.
He sat in contemplation for a bit.

Twilight was just about to throw off the rock suit and give Discord a piece of her mind when she heard a snap; and the disguise was completely disappeared.
“ It's all good right? No harm no foul? “ Discord half-pleaded half-asserted.

“ OK DISCORD. JUST STOP. “ Twilight shouted.
Rarity was just as shocked.

“ Twilight, and -who? “ asked Ponder.
“ What's going on? “

Twilight cleared her throat.
“ Discord brought you here to show us, literally, that he has plenty of friends. “

“ Not true. “ Discord said in a very unusual shaky manner.
“ I brought you here to credit you for the me-summoning necklace idea. “ He said with repentance; holding up his copy of the necklace.

“ But now something... “ He swirled his right hand around a bit while looking up to the sky.
“ Feels off. I feel terrible. “ He had swiveled back towards them, arms outstretched in apology.

Twilight, in a uncharacteristic outburst, blurted out:
“ Fine. Don't do anything like this again. “ She said, pointing a hoof to Ponder, but not looking in his direction.

“ Um, If I may interrupt. “ Rarity had meekly but regally said.

“ The dragons are running off. “ She pointed over at what used to be the congregation.

Discord snapped again. Spike had been looking around, as if he was missing someone. Or someone(s). As if he could not see them at all. And after a snap from Discord, he could.

“ Oh. There you are... “ Spike trailed off into silence.
“ Discord? Ponder? What are you doing here? “ He asked In annoyed confusion.

Ponder was still shaking. He managed to shrug.
Discord tapped his fingers nervously.
“ I brought in Discord. With how many ways this could go wrong, this is a matter of national security. “
, “ Discord, can you make sure one of more, agreeable ones win? “
“ Certainly. “ Discord had still not quite returned to his normal tone.

“ Now we can just wait it out, no matter who the new dragon lord is- “
Twilight was interrupted.

“ We? “ asked Spike.
We? “ replied Twilight. More of an ask, really.

Spike looked to the side, eyes half closed, then back to Twilight.

“ I'm staying to compete. “

W H A T ? ! ? ! “ Shouted Twilight, the rapid increase in pitch making her voice give out at the end. She had slid into a wider stance, wings outstretched and all.

She realized her mistake. She looked over to ponder. Almost cowering. Not out of fear of her, fear of the situation. Eyes deadest on her.
In fact,
all eyes were looking at her.
To her.
She felt like she needed to be strong. As the last and strongest link the chain, she couldn't break. She was worried and she couldn't show it. But she did anyway.

She gained a concerned and very worried look on her face for about a second or so; staring off into space.
She then returned to standing on all 4 legs, as she had reared up a bit, and then tried one of Starlight's poker face techniques.

“ Spike, Uhm. “ She was trying to be quieter.
“ We have many ways to defend Equestria. “

“ Discord, the other 3 princesses. “
Her expression turned somber.
“ All you would be doing is throwing your life away. “
Spike got tears in his eyes.

“ You don't know that! “ He held back screaming.
" I could win! "
“ And that big dragon may only be the start of it! “ He pointed back to where the leader of dragons used to be, throwing his arms out in expression.

“ We have no idea what the dragons as a whole are capable of! “
“ Spike – I “ Twilight was about to cry.

“ Have Discord make Spike invincible. “ A loud and monotone PonderBright stated.

He had gotten up to face both Twilight and Spike, with a ghastly blank expression. His movements were entirely stiff and robotic.

Twilight was looking at PonderBright, visibly concerned.
“ Are you ok- “

“ And there should be 2 more volunteers. To ensure a convincing win. “ Ponder said, ignoring Twilight completely as he spun around to Discord.

“ Can you turn ponies into dragons and vice versa? “

“ Oh. Yes. Why hadn't I thought of that... “ Discord went into deep thought. He seemed distracted.
“ Twilight, Is this plan agreeable? “ Ponder asked in a hurry.

She looked down to the floor, mind finally catching up to her. She was still very worried.
Mouth half-open, Her eyes darting around the ground for a few moments seemed to get her the answer she needed.

“ Yes. “ She responded; uncertainty clear in her voice.

“ But I don't feel... comfortable with you leading- “
He immediately turned away. Talking to Discord and Rarity. She had taken too long in her response, apparently.

She stared off in their direction for a bit, and spike nudged her.
“ Twilight, are YOU ok? “ Spiked asked.

“ I don't know Spike. “ She said while looking over to him, comforted.
“ I can't help but think I wasn't really made for this job. "
She peered at her reflection in a puddle.
"A princess. “ She said with sorrow.

“ Nonsense. You had to know-all to bring in Discord, remember? Getting help is exactly what leaders do: especially the leader of friendship. “,
“ And yeah, I probably would not have won competing by myself. “
“ You were right. “

“ Thanks, Spike. “ As she wiped her eyes.

“ Yeah don't mention it. “
They had made up already.

They both looked back toward the unofficial meeting with concern, Ponder starting to run out of breath he was talking so fast.

“ I really hope this works out. “ Twilight found herself saying.

Spike looked at Twilight then back to the other group.

“ Yeah. “
“ Me too. “

The general who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth; he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven. Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves; on the other, a victory that is complete.

- Sun Tzu, Art of war.

There can be more then one leader. Sun Tzu recognizes this in " Maneuvering " verse 7.

Author's Note:

I am open to PM. No discord or email. Do not use email. Please.
I am open to work, even collaborations. I can't draw. Muscle condition.

I find it very funny that the first written record of how to wage war references the magic of friendship. (In Sun Tzu's own demented way)
Ill be posting some after every chapter.

Want to test my writing with this one. Will try to write more and more challenging subjects as time goes on.
All criticism minus something that can only be seen as a nitpick will be appreciated.

You might be asking yourself
Both for the cannon show and for here:
Why oh why do these little ponies lead like their a bunch of disorganized children?

Answer: Because they are.