• Published 11th Nov 2012
  • 16,305 Views, 261 Comments

Just Human - Lightless Void



There is a reason why there are no humans in Equestria. Allow me to show you why.

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Alone

Just Human, Chapter 5: Alone


Twilight ran as fast as her legs would carry her. That thing, that monster, had tried to reach out to her. She didn’t doubt it would’ve grabbed her for Celestia knows what. Neither time, nor distance, nor anything else were important as she dashed past trees and through bushes, the branches and thorns clawing at her as she passed them.

Eventually she came to rest, her chest heaving and her entire body numb with exertion. She sagged down against a tree, lying down on the ground, unable to carry herself another step. Slowly but surely, the rush of terror and adrenaline abated, allowing rational thought to seep in again. She listened carefully, but the only sound around her was that of thunder, the wind brushing past the treetops, and her own breathing. Relief began to take hold, until she looked around. Suddenly, she realised that nothing around her seemed familiar.

“G-Girls?” she called out softly, before calling again louder a second time. There was no answer, and now she was sure that wherever she was, she had succeeded in putting far, far too much distance between herself and her friends.

“Poor Twilight... All alone,” a voice called out, though it seemed distant. She recognized it as the voice of the spectre that had led her to that monster earlier, but it was nowhere in sight. Its absence didn’t seem to deter it from tormenting her.

“All you wanted was to save your friends, but you can’t save them now... And they can’t save you.”

Twilight bit back a sob, the anger and stress of the past day getting to her far more than she was willing to show to this thing. “What do you want from us!?” she cried out in anger.

“We have to feed,” the spectre replied, followed by a long period of silence.

Feed? Feed how? Were they... Were they planning on eating us!?

“We were borne of the darkest parts of the heart,” the spectre continued, almost as though it could sense Twilight’s doubt. “We had to feed, but without Father, we starved. Until we found you and your friends. We brought with us a part of the pain that spawned us, and planted it within your hearts, so that we may feed on each of you, as we once did with Father...”

Twilight listened intently, but the voice did not return. She shivered, not in cold, but at the sickening sensation in her gut at this horrible revelation.

So, I was right from the start. I am sick. All of us are. And now...

She tried to stop herself from letting her mind wander to such dark places, but she couldn’t help herself now. Everything the spectre had said was right. She bit back a sob as she tortured herself with her worst suspicions coming true.

I can’t save my friends anymore. I should’ve just stayed at home. I should’ve just written Princess Celestia and stayed home, and none of this would’ve happened. And now... Now it’s too late. I’m lost, and no one will find me here.

Twilight stepped back, her eyes stinging so much she could hardly see. Her back suddenly hit a tree. She didn’t even bother trying to keep standing. She let herself slump down to her knees, putting her head between her hooves. She fought the urge, but eventually lost the battle to keep herself from weeping.

She remained where she was, sobbing, as despair gripped her fully and refused to let go.

I failed everypony, and now it’s too late.

In her misery, Twilight only barely noticed a sound that began to build at the edge of hearing. A myriad of alien voices, coming from afar. They were much like the voice of the spectre, but there were many, and they were drawing near.

“They don’t want you back there.”

“Didn’t you see the way they looked at you? They were going to turn on you, in time.”

“You’re better off out here, alone. You know this.”

Twilight didn’t want to hear it. She couldn’t take all this extra punishment being thrown her way, so she covered her ears, trying to block out the sound. It was no use. It was like the voices vibrated through her very being, making her hear them whether she wanted to or not.

“Just leave me alone! Just leave me alone!” Twilight shouted, trying to drown out the voices with her own, to no avail.

“No one has come for you, and no one will come.”

“You’re all alone.”

Twilight began to cry loudly, the guilt of being unable to save her friends overwhelming her completely. She felt the last spark of hope within her disappearing, as her whole world seemed to drown in darkness.

“Wait, what are you doing?”
A change came over the voices, though Twilight didn’t notice at first, not until they became far harsher than before.

“You fool! She didn’t come here for you! Remember why you left in the first place!”

“She will betray you, and you will be all alone again!”

Twilight cried loudly, desperate in trying to make the voices go away, when suddenly something took a hold of her. She froze completely, terrified at what had caught her, even though it just seemed to be shaking her gently.

Twilight kept her eyes clenched shut, the crescendo of voices around her reaching their high as they were all screaming at the same time. Slowly but surely, the noise began to die down, until she became vaguely aware of a familiar voice, calling her.

“Sugarcube, you okay?”

She carefully opened her eyes, blinking rapidly to clear the haze out of them, before the orange shape in front of her turned into Applejack. She was covered in dirt, her mane was ruffled and there were a few branches caught in it, but there was was, managing a careful smile.

“Applejack!”

Twilight couldn’t help herself, hugging her lost friend tightly.

“I thought we lost you!”

“Yeah, uh...” Applejack said hesitantly. “Ah was in a bad spot there, needed to... Think things through, on my own, for just a little bit.”

“It’s fine, it’s not your fault! I’m just happy that you’re back!”

Twilight felt herself just beaming with joy, but the feeling quickly faded. Everything that had happened up till now had led to this point. She could stop all of this, but she had to act now. Her expression became more serious as she looked Applejack straight in her eyes.

“I know how we can stop this, but we have to hurry!”


Alex sat, his back against a large tree, hidden from view, as he tried to convince himself to stand up and continue going. Sadness and despair welled up in his chest, but all that escaped was a long weary sigh.

Lightning shot through the sky above him, casting a pale light over his form. There were marks of scratches and bruises on his exposed arms which he hadn’t been able to see in the dark. His stomach hurt with persistent hunger, and his mouth had run dry. He tried to force himself to stand, but his limbs were still tired, as though resting, if only for a short while, had done him no good at all. No matter what happened next, his journey would be ending soon. He doubted it would be a happy ending.

He hated this place. He hated whatever force had decided he had to come here, only to be met with a prolonged agonizing death. Most of all, he hated that he had come so close to being rescued, only for it to be taken away right in front of him. Some part of him even blamed himself for it. That if he had done things differently, chosen his words more carefully, then perhaps that unicorn would’ve helped him. All such hope was gone now, and he knew that all that was left was to get up and keep going. That was the only way he had any hope of avoiding a death of hunger and thirst.

He planted the blunt end of his spear into the ground, pushing himself unsteadily to his feet. He fell backwards against the tree he had been hiding behind, but didn’t bother to try and get himself to move. He needed rest, even though his only source of shelter was gone. He was about to give in and let himself fall asleep, when a strange sensation crept through the bark of the tree to his skin. A vibration.

Steadying himself, he put a hand on the tree, feeling it shiver gently beneath some unheard rhythm, though it did not remain unheard for very long. A soft pounding, too steady to be thunder, was drawing closer to him. Not long after, he noticed the trees in the distance shedding leaves with each pound.

Something is coming! What the hell is it!? It must be huge!

Alex curled up into a ball, hiding between the massive roots of the tree, as he felt the massive creature approach. He dared not look, fearing that it would reveal him to whatever was coming, and so far he had good reason to believe that few things in this forest would be friendly to him. The pounding, now clearly the steps of some massive beast, stopped just on the other side of the tree. A warm air rushed over him several times. Something on the other side was breathing in deeply, and Alex dreaded to think what kind of creature would be able to project its hot breath over such distance.


It has to be around here somewhere, Twilight thought, as she made her way through the dense forest. She had scratched herself on branches and thorns countless times during her flight and had no intention to repeat the experience, nor did Applejack seek to share in it. However, she moved faster now than she had all day. Time was of the essence now, and knowing that she was so close to a solution drove her forward. As she broke through another dense shrub, she found herself back in the clearing where she was confronted by the spectre and the creature it referred to as “father”. Instead, she found her remaining four friends here, looking more crestfallen than ever.

“I knew we shouldn’t have let her come along! I just knew something was gonna go wrong, I just knew it,” Rainbow Dash muttered, apparently arguing with herself.

“It’s not your fault Dashie... It’s mine. I’m the one who let her come along,” Pinkie Pie said in response, as she stared down at her own hooves. “If something happened to Twilight I’ll... I’ll...”

“Girls?” Twilight said as she stepped out into the clearing. Immediately, everypony’s eyes lit up like fireworks. The next thing she saw was a pink blur as Pinkie Pie slammed into her, taking her into a hug that could just as easily be called a stranglehold.

“Twilight! Oh I was so worried that you had gotten lost and that we’d never see you again and it would be all my fault and I’d have to tell the princess an-,” Pinkie began to rant, before Twilight stopped her with a hoof to her mouth. However, that didn’t stop the rest from her friends from also jumping on top of her, hugging her fiercely.

“Girls, I’m fine, I really am. I found out what’s causing all of this, but if we want to stand any chance of fixing it we have to hurry!”

“But what about Applejack? Are we just gonna leave her out here?” inquired Rainbow Dash.

“Y’all wouldn’t have gone all the way out here just to look for me, did ya?” Applejack said plainly as she walked out of the bushes, only to be tackled down and receive the same treatment as Twilight.

Twilight got up and walked over to the giggling pile that were her friends. As happy as she was that everypony had been reunited, she couldn’t afford to waste more time now.

“Girls, I know all of you are happy to see Applejack again, but we have to keep moving! There’s a creature in the forest that’s responsible for everything that’s happened to us. If we hurry, we can still catch up to it!”

All of her friends’ heads perked up as she said this, looking at her inquisitively.

“There’s a creature responsible for all of this? What kind of creature would do these dreadful things to us? Even Discord didn’t take his jokes this far,” said Rarity.

“I... I don’t know,” Twilight responded, “but I do know it’s not far from here. It went further into the Everfree Forest just before I... Just before you girls got here. If we’re all together, we might stand a chance at stopping it.”

“But Twi’, we don’t have the Elements or nothin’. If that thing is strong enough to cause all this, how do you figure we stop it?” asked Applejack.

Twilight didn’t respond immediately. So eager had she been for a solution that she hadn’t thought that far ahead. Eventually, she made the most logical conclusion.

“If we leave now to get the elements, it will be too dark to search the forest again until tomorrow morning, and by then that creature will be Celestia knows how far away. We can’t risk it coming back when we don’t expect it, or creating the same kind of havoc elsewhere. If we can’t stop it here and now, we might not get another chance.”

As much as her friends wanted to go back home, she could see each of them resigning themselves to another search. She knew that to them, just like to her, the thought of what had happened to them today happening again, or to ponies elsewhere, wasn’t something they were willing to risk any more than she was.

The group collected themselves as Twilight led them to the cave where she last saw Father, only to find the very last thing she had expected to see. Hoofprints unlike any she had seen before were imprinted in the soil outside the cave. A long bent oval shape, with five tiny little dots at the end. Now that she thought about it, it didn’t even look like a hoof, or a claw, or anything else she recognized.

“Fluttershy, have you ever seen prints like these?”

Fluttershy carefully walked over to the prints. She furrowed her brow, apparently trying to come up with something that could explain these weird prints, running a hoof gently along it.

“N-no. I’ve never seen anything like these tracks. A-are you sure this is a good idea, Twilight? This animal could be d-dangerous.”

Twilight looked at the forest surrounding her. The light from above was nearly gone, coating much of the forest in ominous shadows. If it weren’t for the severity of their predicament, she would’ve turned around long ago.

“We don’t have a choice.”


Using the last rays of the sun, Twilight and her friends made their way through the forest again, this time quietly. Whatever this thing was, they wanted to make sure they saw it before it saw them. Thunder and lightning occasionally boomed through the forest, though the light was fading quickly. They didn’t have much time left.

However, above the sound of the forest around them, a different sound began to become noticable. They couldn’t quite place it. It was like the sound of the wind blowing through a wide cavern, but somehow, that didn’t seem quite right either. Twilight turned her head to face the group, who were all even more nervous than she was.

“Stay quiet, I think we’re getting close.”

They made their way through the dense shrubs as quietly as they could, until they came across an area of the forest where the trees grew far taller, with a little bit more space to move and see. Here, they saw some sort of massive form moving, though the light had grown too dim to see what it was beneath the canopy of the trees.

“Is that it?” Rainbow Dash asked in a hushed tone, just before lightning illuminated the forest briefly. There, they saw the body of a massive feline, easily the size of a small house, and to their amazement, two heads stuck out of its front. One had a big brown mane and ended in a lion’s head. The other was covered in shaggy white fur, with two horns sticking out of it, ending in the head of a goat. The strange sound they had heard earlier was the sound of that thing, taking deep breaths.

Twilight’s eyes grew wide in shock, and he did her best to swallow the lump in her throat.

“That’s a chimaera... What is that thing even doing here? They’re not supposed to come this close to Ponyville.”

As another flash of lightning struck, Twilight realised why it was here, and cursed herself inwardly for not thinking of it.

“They follow thunderstorms, and it must’ve followed this one all the way to Ponyville. We better get away, before it notices us.”

Before they could start moving, Twilight noticed something that made her heart skip a beat. The noise had stopped, though the chimaera hadn’t turned around yet.

“Did it see us?” Applejack whispered.

Twilight didn’t think it did, or else it would’ve turned around by now. She studied the thing intensely, not daring to move for fear of giving herself away. As another flash of lightning struck, she noticed the chimaera’s tail had an odd texture, as her mind struggled to remember something. She followed it with her eyes, leading straight up for some reason into the branches above.

Only then did she realise what she had forgotten. Chimaera’s do not have two heads, but three, she thought as she stared into the serpentine eyes of a gigantic snake head which had attempted to creep towards from through the branches above. It’s body was the tail of the chimaera, and as soon as the snake realised it had been noticed, the rest of the body began to stir.

“Run!”


Alex listened as every hot breath passed by him, until suddenly it stopped. He wasn’t sure if the creature had given up, but he was too afraid that it might still be lurking just next to his hiding place. A familiar voice rang out.

“Run!”

The creature roared and began its pursuit, the ground quaking as it began to charge. Alex waited for several seconds as the shock wore off, before rising up from his hiding place in between the roots of the tree. He saw, even in the dark, that whatever creature that had been must have been massive. It had charged off into a certain direction through the forest, leaving devastation in its wake. Brushes and plant life had been stomped into the ground, and smaller trees had been uprooted entirely.

That voice... I know that voice. That was that unicorn.

Alex moved to the trail the monster had left, before noticing, that between the massive paw prints that had been left behind, stood dozens of tiny little half-circular prints. Hoof prints, he realised.

Why did she follow me? Did she... Did she save me again just now? But why? She was terrified of me. And now... Now that thing is after her.

He stared off into the dark for several moments as his thoughts went into conflict with themselves. Suddenly, he darted into the dark of the forest, following the trail the monster had left as fast as his legs would carry him.

What are you doing!? he questioned himself internally. That thing is huge! What the hell do you think you’re going to do, even if you catch up to them!?

I don’t know... I don’t know.


Twilight ran as fast as she could, not caring that she had no idea where she would end up, only that she stayed out of reach of the monstrosity that was chasing her and her friends. Leaves and branches rained down around her, a result of the thunderous charge of the chimaera behind her. Twilight tried to focus on running, keeping her legs moving without tripping, but the events of today had stripped her of her strength. Her hooves hurt. Her legs hurt. Her entire body was in agony, and the best she could do was try to focus on something else.

Something inside her urged her to look back, and see what progress she was making, but she feared that if the chimaera had begun to lose ground, she’d lose her focus, and if it was too close, that the sight would paralyze her with shock. When she heard somepony struggling behind her, however, she couldn’t help but look behind her.

“Come on! Come on!” Dash pleaded as she fluttered her damaged wings, only just barely managing to lift herself off the ground without achieving flight. The damage she had done to herself had been too much, and dash hissed in frustration as she beat her wings even harder, trying to lift off. Suddenly, two yellow hooves wrapped themselves around her.

“Come on Rainbow Dash! You have to flap your wings or we won’t make it!” said Fluttershy as she hovered above Rainbow Dash. As Rainbow Dash put all her effort into fluttering her wings, she finally managed to get into the air with Fluttershy’s help, however clumsily. She gave Twilight a remorseful look as she began to climb above the canopy of the trees.

At least they’re gonna be safe... It’s my job to keep everypony else safe!

Further behind them was the chimaera, all its heads fixed on her, charging through the forest like a bulldozer. The only thing that slowed it down at all were the trees, which it didn’t even bother moving around, instead ramming straight through them.

Twilight gritted her teeth as she focused on her task, keeping herself and everypony else alive, but her body betrayed her. As she redoubled her efforts, her vision suddenly blurred and she was nearly swept off of her hooves by vertigo, causing her to fall behind on Rarity, Pinkie and Applejack. They all looked back at her with intense worry, which only caused Twilight to panic more.

They can’t slow down because of me!

“You have to keep going, Twilight!” Rarity called out. Suddenly, there was a shriek in front of Twilight as the group made an unexpected fall just beyond a thick bush. Twilight’s reaction was too sluggish to alter her course or speed, and found herself falling after the rest.

On the other end, there was a steep slope, causing Twilight to slide down to the rest of her friends. It was an old dried-up riverbed, with sides too steep to climb, leading in only two directions.

A powerful hoof pushed her back up. “Come on sugarcube, no time to take a breather!” Applejack called as she took the lead, leading the group through the riverbed. Though Twilight was still disoriented from the fall, she did her best to kickstart her legs into action, and soon the group was moving again.

Behind them, a loud thump could be heard as the chimaera fell into the same trap they had fallen in. Though it took the large creature time to get back up, its path would now no longer be littered with obstacles.

Pain began to take over most of Twilight’s body. She had been pushing herself far harder today than she should have, without giving herself the time to rest. Even if she had been more athletic, that wouldn’t have stopped her body from paying the price. All of her other sensations seemed to dull, only to be replaced by stinging agony as her muscles begged for her to stop. She did her best to focus on her friends running in front of her, trying to remind herself that as long as she could keep up, everything would be okay.

Slowly, her friends in front of her slowed down and ground to a halt entirely.

“What’s wrong? We can’t stop now!” Twilight said as she looked up, panting heavily. What she saw robbed her of any hope they might have had to escape.

They had reached the end of the riverbed. It ended in some sort of deep basin, leading them into a bowl-shaped pit with slopes too steep to climb and no path leading out. They were trapped.

The group backed off as far as they would go, hugging the slope at the very end of the basin as closely as they could. The chimaera’s pace slowed until it stopped by the very entrance to the basin. It was no longer in any rush. Its prey had nowhere to go now.

Twilight could only stare as the chimaera took a single, painfully slow step forward.

“Twilight! What do we do!? What do we do!?” a panicked Pinkie Pie cried as she held Twilight’s face in her hooves, though it barely registered in Twilight’s mind. Behind her, Applejack was frantically trying to dig through the loose sand of the slope, trying in vain to create a path up. Rainbow Dash stood on the edge of the basin, reaching down in an attempt to grab hold of Applejack, but the distance was too great.

Twilight saw the chimaera take another step forward now. It was already nearly entirely in the basin. Just three more steps and it would reach them, and it would all be over.

“Twilight!”

It took another step, the ground beneath Twilight’s hooves shaking. She almost imagined it being as result of the fear that she felt right now. Her heart was pounding in her ears, and the panic that gripped her chest was constricting her lungs. Every breath became harder.

“Twilight!”

It took another step. So close was it now that she could smell its breath. A switch triggered in her mind. She had to act. It didn’t matter what she’d do, as long as it was something. As long as it could buy them some time. Her horn ignited in a burst of magical energy, causing Pinkie to let go. She braced herself in the dirt as she drew on all the power her beaten body had left.

“I’m not going to let you hurt my friends!”

Air began to rush away from the space between her and the chimaera, until with a flash, a magical barrier materialised between them and it. The chimaera looked at it for a moment, dumbfounded at this strange interruption of its meal, before tentatively touching it with its paw. The barrier held, sparking with energy on the touch, but Twilight could feel the strain the chimaera was putting on it. It withdrew its paw, instead opting to beat its head into the shield once, before pushing hard, causing her magical strength to be depleted even faster. She already knew that she wasn’t going to last for long.

“Everypony has to get out of here, right now!” she forced out, the sheer concentration that this spell making it hard for her to even speak.

“But how!?” Applejack called back, before Fluttershy appeared just above her.

“Take my hooves! I’ll pull you out, just hurry!”

Pinkie was the first to get airlifted out by Fluttershy, but Fluttershy wasn’t the strongest flier. Progress was painfully slow, and Twilight could feel her magic draining by the second, every push the chimaera gave making it harder on her.

From the corner of her eye, she could see Applejack walking to Rarity.

“Okay Rarity, you’re next! Twilight can’t hold this spell forever!”

Rarity was staring at the magical barrier. Her face was set in determination as she steadied herself, digging her hooves into the ground with gritted teeth as her horn slowly began to glow. As Rarity’s magic began to take hold within the barrier, it became just a little bit more solid.

“Just go Applejack! You won’t make much of a difference here, but I can! Now go!”

Twilight could hear Applejack trying to find the words to argue with Rarity, but all that came out were half-formed sentences. She hung her head low as she turned around to grab Fluttershy’s waiting hooves.

“You better come out of this alive you two,” she whispered as she began to climb the hill with Fluttershy’s help.

Cracks were beginning to form in the barrier. The chimaera’s sheer weight was far too much for the two unicorns, even if they hadn’t been exhausted from that day’s events. Lightning flashed in the sky overhead, showing the bright white gleam of the lion’s teeth, the vapour in the air created by the snorting of the goat’s head, the forked tongue coming out of the waiting serpent’s head.

Twilight felt herself getting dizzy, losing her grip on consciousness as more and more of her stamina was lost to maintaining the spell. The chimaera on the other side of the barrier became hazier by the second, though she couldn’t be sure that wasn’t just her vision fading away. More glowing cracks appeared within the barrier, beginning to form a spider’s web across its ethereal surface.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just give in, Twilight? Can’t you feel how tired you are? You need to rest...

No! Twilight mentally cried out, silencing the voice of the spectre immediately as it returned to her. I’m not giving up! I’ll never give up! Not while my friends are in danger!


Alex’s body was reaching its limit. He ran across the trail of destruction left by the great beast, no longer trying to pace himself, nor paying heed to the numbness of exhaustion that was spreading through his legs. All he could focus on was the thought of that unicorn, who knowing or not, had put herself into mortal peril to save his life.

He ran across fallen branches and flattened bushes, before reaching a dried riverbed where the trail continued in the dirt below. Unwilling to get trapped between the steep slopes below, Alex followed the trail from above, following the edges of the riverbed, before finally reaching a basin. Here stood the great monster, possessing three heads, with the unicorn and several others trapped at the other side.

He could see that there was another unicorn down there too, and both their horns were glowing brightly, apparently to power some barrier between them and the chimaera. However, he could see the way the purple unicorn was swaying that she wasn’t going to last for much longer. One of them that could fly with wings too small for its frame was ferrying them out of the basin, but it was going too slow. He knew, beyond any doubt, that they wouldn’t make it in time.

Beneath him, the chimaera bashed its front heads into the barrier over and over, trying to break through.

What am I supposed to do?

Alex was afraid of the monster that stood before him, just as he was afraid of returning to the woods where he knew only a slow and agonizing death awaited him, but even that paled in comparison to the sickening feeling of powerlessness he felt, staring down at this horror scene and being unable to act.

If I go down there, I’ll get killed, or worse...

His eyes drifted to the side, the dark forest surrounding him. He became acutely aware of the cuts on his body, some still bleeding, and the hunger that plagued his stomach.

And what else am I supposed to do, huh? Go back? To where? I’m going to die out here, and no one can help me.

With a mighty blast of air coming from the basin, the chimaera broke through the barrier. The explosion sent the white unicorn flying, whose body was thrown against the slope of the basin like a ragdoll. It sagged down, no longer moving. The purple unicorn collapsed where she stood, breathing heavily, but otherwise completely spent. Her head slowly rose, and she suddenly acknowledged his presence, though seemed all the more confused for it. She looked up at him through teary eyes, as though begging him to act.

She... She saved my life. She did so twice, and all I’ve done was scare her in return. She... She doesn’t deserve this. She doesn’t deserve to die out here.

He looked back at the yellow one with the wings, who just finished dragging one of the other horse-like creatures out of the basin. She gave him the strangest wide-eyed stare.

All she needs is time to get out. And me... I’m not going to get out of this forest alive.

Alex looked down at the spear, the weapon he had made to save his own life, and thought it to be oh-so ironic at how he now planned to use it. He took a deep breath, readying it.

At least this way, it won’t be in vain. At least, now, I’ll have made a difference.

He charged forward, jumping as far as he could over the edge, and aimed the spear down at the chimaera beneath.


Though Twilight could see the chimaera approaching from the corner of her eye, some unknown force kept her eyes glued to the strange creature standing on the edge of the basin, stranger still than the dark things she had seen up till now. It wore clothes, though those parts of its body that were exposed seemed mostly hairless. It stood on only two legs, its limbs ending in strange appendages that reminded Twilight more of Spike’s claws than hooves. In one hand it held a long wooden branch. On its face, there were a pair of glasses, though its face was oddly proportioned. It’s eyes were small, and its mouth was set very oddly beneath its nose. She could see the determined expression its face bore as it took several steps back, before launching itself over the edge of the basin right onto the chimaera, its branch held in front of it. Only now did Twilight notice the sharpened tip.

Her jaw fell open. The strange tall creature landed directly on the back of the lion’s head, the eyes of that head suddenly flying wide open, its mouth hanging open as though it tried to form some sort of noise, but nothing would come. A thin trail of drool leaked from its open maw, slowly reddening.

The head slumped down, becoming useless dead weight on the chimeara’s body. It was far from beaten, its right side only momentarily faltering before another head took over the torso’s motor functions. Twilight couldn’t believe her eyes. That creature couldn’t have been more than twice her size, yet it dared to attack something the size of a house, alone no less.

The goat’s head blared in anger as it began to throw itself around, the entire torso beginning to buck wildly. Twilight could see the creature hanging on to its branch, which she now could see had been wedged into the chimaera. It didn’t last long before the wild bucking forced the creature to let go, causing it to soar through the air, landing further away into the basin on its back with a soft thud.

Twilight watched as the creature groaned, though made little effort in trying to get back up. It seemed dazed, somehow, despite the chimaera closing in fast. Only when the goat’s head hung straight above the creature did it react, its front limbs reaching behind it weirdly as it began to push itself back across the soft sand. Each time the chimaera brought a paw forward to try and grab the creature, it only barely managed to crawl or roll out of the way.

“We have to do something, that thing just saved Twilight! Come on girls!” she could hear Applejack calling. She watched as her friends rushed along the edge of the basin, closer to the chimaera. The creature was still backing off as quickly as it could, its eyes now wide in terror, but it was running out of room to move.

A hail of stones came from above as Applejack, Pinkie and Rainbow Dash began to kick stones down into the basin at the chimaera.

“Take that you monster!” Pinkie called out as she kicked as many rocks as she could find down at the chimaera. Unfortunately, the small pebbles did little to slow the monster down. Suddenly, the chimaera seemed to have enough of playing with its food, the goat’s head reaching down with its jaw wide open. Its teeth were blunt, and the goat’s head was unlikely to eat the creature, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t just crush the creature’s body and then spit it out again.

She heard her friends gasp.

“No!” Applejack called out as she jumped over the edge of the basin, straight on top of the chimaera’s back. The chimaera’s reaction, this time, was instantaneous. It began to buck and thrash around, throwing itself against the slopes of the basin in a mad bid to throw its unwanted passenger off. Thankfully, it moved away from the creature.

Twilight saw Fluttershy glide down to the creature, who’s back was pressed against the slope of the basin, its eyes staring wildly. There was still red blood dripping off one of its arms, though Twilight knew that wasn’t its own. Fluttershy very carefully reached her shaking hooves out towards the creature, almost too fearful of the blood to touch it.

“Please, just grab my hooves! You have to get out of here!”

Twilight’s attention returned to the wildly thrashing chimaera. It was slowing down, the serpent’s head above raising higher up into the air, its eyes focused on Applejack.

“Applejack!” Twilight called out. Applejack looked up at the massive serpentine head just as it began to spread its maw to strike. She jumped out of the way as the serpent’s head moved to strike. It missed her by but a hair’s width, only to strike the back of that goat’s head instead.

The chimaera’s body suddenly convulsed, it’s movement becoming spastic as the goat’s head jerked up and down at an ever slowing pace. The entire body fell to its knees right as Applejack hit the dirt rolling. She tried to get up as quickly as she could, knowing that there was one head left. However, when she looked up, she saw the snake’s head pulling away from her, instead going for a far easier target. Fluttershy, who’s back was turned to the chimaera.

“Fluttershy, look out!”

Fluttershy turned around only to see the snake’s open maw coming towards her. Out of sheer terror, her wings seized up, causing her to fall down towards the ground, but even that wouldn’t put her out of the way of the open jaws coming towards her. She closed her eyes as she fell.

Suddenly, the creature seemed to jump into action. With a rough shove of its shoulder, it beat Fluttershy out of the way. Twilight closed her eyes at the expected moment of impact.

She heard a scream, but it was not Fluttershy’s. When she opened her eyes again, she could see the creature, one of its rear legs disappearing entirely within the serpent’s maw. The serpent’s maw began to draw the creature back, even as it cried out in agony.

Twilight watched in awe as the creature took something out of its back pocket and began to stab something into the serpent’s head. She could hear him roar in pure outrage as it fought like nothing she had ever seen before. Though anypony would fight for his or her life in a situation like this, never could she imagine a creature doing so with so much violence, so much blind rage.

The serpent’s head flinched harder everytime the sharp object struck its head. Its lower jaw began to open, the chimaera desperate to let go of the kill that just wouldn’t stop fighting. It took far too long, the creature’s leg too impaled upon the serpent’s fangs for it to just let go.

As the creature’s leg finally slid free of the serpent’s fangs, it brought the sharpened object down upon the serpent’s head one more time. The serpent’s head hissed loudly as the creature fell off of it, squirming around as the trauma to its head became too much to bear. With a thud, the head fell down, and the chimaera’s torso toppled and struck the earth.

It was over. The chimaera was dead.

The creature lay several feet from the chimaera’s corpse. Even from this distance, Twilight could see its entire left leg running red with blood. It moved only slowly, one of its “claws” slowly moving down to touch its leg, before bring it up to its face. It was covered in blood.

Oh no, it’s hurt! We have to do something!

Twilight tried to get up, but her body had taken too much of a beating from the earlier battle against the chimaera. She tried to force her legs to bend and push herself up, but it was no use. Her body no longer responded as she demanded.

Come on! I have to move!

Though her magic reserves were severely depleted, she managed to reach out and grab her own limbs with telekinetic force. Little by little, she managed to force magic to do what muscles could do no longer. Slowly, she walked over to the creature, Fluttershy and Applejack already standing near it. Fluttershy was holding her hooves in front of her mouth as she continued to flutter around the creature. The panicked look on her face spoke volumes.

As she drew near, she could see it staring off into space. It seemed completely out of it.

She got up closer to it, until she could look it in the face.

“Can you hear me? You have to stay awake!”

She knew it was undoubtedly already going into shock. There wasn’t any time left. Very slowly, it raised one of its claws. She wasn’t sure what it was trying to do, until its claw brushed briefly past her cheek. She felt so sorry for this strange creature that had sacrificed itself to save her.

“We have to get him back to Ponyville!” she called out. There was no way she would leave it to die here.

It was only now that she began to notice something. Something that seemed to crawl from underneath the creature’s clothing. Darkness, flowing like black smoke. Her eyes widened, as the realisation struck her.

This thing is Father!

“Twilight?”

She looked up to see Applejack looking at her worriedly. “Ah’ll carry him, you just lead the way.”

“No. I’ll carry him,” Twilight replied plainly.

“You sure sugarcube? Ah can see you’re at the end of your rope here.”

“I said I’ll carry him. Don’t worry about me.”

Applejack sighed, nodding silently. Twilight guessed Applejack knew better than to try and argue now.

She, along with Fluttershy, crawled under the creature’s arms. It was a very strange way of carrying another creature, but this thing’s weird body shape made it impossible to do it any other way. Applejack took a still unconscious Rarity onto her back. Twilight gritted her teeth, as now she had to extend her magic to not just carry her own weight, but that of the creature as well.

I don’t know who or what you are, or why you’ve caused all of this, but you saved me and my friends! I won’t let you die here. Please... Just don’t die.


Twilight stared down at the forest floor as she took one agonizing step at a time. She was reaching the very end of what her body could take. Her legs were numb with fatigue, and a dull pain seemed to pulse through her body with every breath. The passenger she shared with Fluttershy didn’t make things any easier on her. She struggled just to keep her eyes open, barely aware of what little progress they made.

Her horn glowed faintly as magic filled in where her muscles could no longer bear the strain. It was the only source of light as she and her friends made their way through the forest at night. On her right was Applejack, beads of sweat rolling down her face as she carried Rarity on her back. Even she, strongest of them all, was starting to show the strain of their forced march.

Suddenly, the weight on Twilight’s back became even greater. She fell limply to the ground as the weight on her back asked too much of her failing strength. As she looked to the side, she saw, to her horror, that Fluttershy had collapsed, the strain having grown too great for the poor pegasus to bear. Fluttershy covered her eyes with her hooves, choking back a sob as she tried to catch her breath.

“I’m so sorry Twilight... I’m so sorry,” Fluttershy snivelled. Twilight wanted to tell her everything would be okay. Glancing back at their passenger convinced her that doing so would be to tell a lie. She had never seen anypony seriously hurt before, but just a single glance made it clear. If they couldn’t keep going, they were never going to make it in time.

Applejack stepped next to her. “Twi’, just let me take over. You’ve had enough.”

Gazing up at her, Applejack’s expression betrayed the same hopelessness she heard in Fluttershy’s voice. Twilight had come so far, tried so hard, and yet still, she knew there was no way they would make it.

“No...” she said as she climbed to her hooves, gently letting the creature’s arm slide to the ground.

“Twilight?”

“I’m not going to let it end like this!” she shouted out as her horn began to glow fiercely. The sky above was illuminated with its fierce glow, appearing as a fountain of light to any who managed to see it, as she called upon the last of her strength for the second time that night.


Alex could feel the warmth rushing out of his body. Everything else was blurry and distant, like he was watching things happen through a very old television screen. The sound of himself breathing seemed to overshadow all other sounds around him. His vision was steadily growing darker, until a heavy din began to fill the air, breaking his concentration. Light began to fill his vision, and he smiled weakly.

I guess... I guess I won’t be going home after all.