• Published 19th Nov 2012
  • 6,905 Views, 791 Comments

The Missionary - Radon18

Follow a man, surviving in equestria with nothing but his wits and his faith, oh and his own town.

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Chapter14: All Along the Watchtower

Chapter 14

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

Chris slowly limped down a dark, bleak corridor. Every few yards he would pass by a door with no windows leading off to other bleak hallways, the occasional sterile laboratory, or lifeless workshop. He shook slightly like he was shivering from the cold despite the thick, oddly made vest with “Jolton Village Dentistry” written on it in large white letters that was wrapped tightly around him. He paused to open another blank steel door, peering down at a small notebook grasped in his quivering hands. The numbers didn't match. Again. He turned back down the main hallway with a sigh and let the door swing closed behind him.

Chris’ eyes drooped. He hadn't slept in days. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a small white bottle with a red label quickly tossing back the liquid and dropping the empty plastic to the floor. The soft hollow thunk as the bottle hit the floor was almost deafening in the silent hallways. He walked on. How long had he been in these offices?

He looked at the nearest door and then back down at the notebook in his hands, finally finding the number he was looking for. He opened the door and slipped through. The new hallway he had found was different than the cold, sterile office corridors he had been following; this one, while still as silent and lifeless as the grave, was interrupted every few feet by thick piping or a piece of dead machinery. It wasn't far now.

He quickened his steps ever so slightly. While Chris would have gladly sprinted full-tilt down the corridor, it took most of his energy just to say upright and awake. At this point, the word ‘exhausting’ had become synonymous with ‘moving’ for Chris. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep, no matter where he was, but if he did that then they would get him. They would come into his home and find him like they had before, but he wouldn’t be awake this time to fend them off.

Finally, at the very end of the hallway was another blank steel door, the words “MAIN CONTROL ROOM” were written above the frame in large, white block letters. He pushed the door open. The room beyond was simpler than he had dared to imagine, aside from the three plain office desks piled high with arbitrary paperwork, there were few objects of even passing interest in the room. What set the room apart from any of the other cubicle laden office spaces Chris had passed through was an entire wall filled with breaker switches, dials, and various gauges and indicator lights. A tired, slightly twitchy smile tugged on the corner of his mouth, this was what he had been looking for.

He flipped a breaker labeled “Emergency Back-up Power.”


Deep in the facility a loud hum started, followed quickly by a cranking engine.

He looked down at the manuel in his hands slowly reading off the steps again. He watched a small dial climb upwards before flipping another breaker, this one was labeled “Primary Back-up Turbine Prep.” He followed yet another needle before flipping another switch, “Back-up Turbine #1.” The moment his hand left the tiny breaker switch lights all over the wall lit up, casting a dull orange glow over the entire room. Quickly, his fingers found the next switch, “Back-up Turbine #2.” More lights lit up. Now the florescent bulbs in the ceiling started to hum before coming to life and bathing the room in their bright, artificial light. The other switches followed quickly after. “#3” “#4” “#5” “#6” “#7”

The whole facility was humming, brimming with power and life, and the last switch was the only one left to trip. It was a small, black breaker, just like the turbine switches, only this one was covered in a small, flip up glass panel. Beneath it a small label read “Emergency Main Line Connection.” Chris tripped the final switch with shivering hands. Suddenly the hum of life running through the facility deepened as a sudden, massive draw was placed on the seven gas turbine generators. He smiled a tired smile before turning and walking back out of the room and down the many winding hallways, still sterile feeling even if they didn't give the impression of a mausoleum any more. There was only one more thing he had to do before he could rest for a short while. Rest. Not sleep. He couldn't sleep yet. They were following him, chasing him. If he slept they would catch him and he wouldn't even get a chance to fight back...


A large herd of ponies stomped down a trail that was almost invisible under the scattered and obstructed light of the moon. At the center of the convoy were both crown princesses of Equestria along with the elements of harmony and several influential ponies from the Canterlot Royal Academy, all surrounded by a full century of Equestrian regulars and Luna’s Night Guard. They talked quietly among themselves, the journey was slow through the thick foliage and the sheer number of ponies combined with the wagons laden down with equipment and rations forced their progress to an agonizing crawl. The conversations mostly centered around their destination, the dark and foreboding ghost town that was the Everfree City.

“So remind me one more time Luna, why are you wearing a pith helmet?” Celestia asked with a small smirk.

“We are told it is tradition when on excursions into the unknown!” She shouted walking proudly beside her sister with the tan colored monstrosity sitting atop her head.

Well I did say “mostly.”

Pinkie Pie followed close behind the two regal sisters, trying her darndest to not laugh at ‘Luna’s silly hat.’ She was thinking about how much the pith helmet resembled a khaki-colored soup bowl when her thoughts suddenly strayed back to Chris, the funny looking alien-creature-thing who she never got to throw a party for. She deflated at once. She had never had anyone try and bargain so desperately to just to be left alone before. Sure, Cranky the donkey sort of had, but he didn't really want to be left alone; deep down he had actually wanted to be friends, he’d just needed Matilda’s help to see that.

Chris’s eyes had held no secret desire for friends though, they only showed fear and despair over a deep pool of sadness that Pinkie had never seen in anyone. Ever. She had never had anyone run away from her like Chris had and it had taken her almost a whole three days to realise that he hadn't really been running from her. He had been running from everypony. They had accidentally ended up really hurting him and it had taken the patient and kind council of Fluttershy to make her see that it wasn't personal. Now she was determined to make Chris smile at least a little and to make sure that he knew that everypony was really really sorry for everything.

Fluttershy probably wore the grimmest face anypony had ever seen on the normally meek mare. She looked like she was getting ready to stare down a cockatrice and nopony was brave enough to ask what she was so upset over. Even Rarity, her best friend, was hesitant to approach the butter-yellow pegasus.

Rarity, to be honest, wasn’t particularly invested in the recent events. Sure she needed to be there to support her friends and make sure that they were alright, but the alien everypony seemed so concerned over, this... Chris, well he had struck Rarity as brutish, even if he did attempt to speak politely. The damage to the inside of her boutique and the sad state of Soarin when they had found the poor stallion could attest to that. Still, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy seemed determined to make a tragic figure out of the alien and if what they said turned out to be true, well nopony really needed to see her as unsympathetic; it would ruin her good image!

Applejack was angry, but she wasn't upset at the alien they were going after. No, she was upset that she had failed to protect her own family's holdings. Sweet Apple Acres was the Apple Family’s livelihood and by failing to ensure it’s safety from the vicious creatures of the Everfree Forest she felt like she had let down her whole family. Right now, Chris and his mysterious town were just distractions that kept Applejack from looking after her own farm and family, and while the cowpony knew that Chris was ultimately blameless for what had happened on the farm, that didn’t stop her from resenting him because of the distraction he represented.

Besides throwing a few funny looks at the bantering princesses, Twilight was mostly ignoring the other ponies, opting instead to sketch the flora of the deep Everfree. Chris was mostly just a curiosity for her to study. His thoughts and motivations were almost as alien as his physiology. What kind of creature attempted to beg for freedom when cornered? That wasn't usual predator behavior. Perhaps his species had been both predator and prey at some point in their evolution? A flash of the guilt she felt after they had first captured him ran through her mind. She shook her head and began sketching another plant. No, everything they had done was for the best. Equestria was in a delicate situation and the potential panic caused by the alien if they just let him roam free would not have been worth the injured feelings of a single individual. Still, she couldn't help but wonder why he was so passive. A griffon or most other predatory species known to Equestria would have likely attempted to murder their captors at some point, or at least they wouldn’t have shied away from a violent confrontation. Twilight cleared the thoughts from her head for the moment, she would just have to find out after they had caught him.

Spitfire was gliding over the group below with a massive smirk on her face. She banked slightly and pushed her way in between Soarin and his ‘number one fan,’ Rainbow Dash. “So Soarin, I didn't peg you for a cross dresser.” She blurted out, grinning at Soarin’s comically red face. She was rewarded with a low grumble from the stallion himself and cheeky snicker from RD, although, to her credit, the latter did try and hide it as best she could in the tightly packed flight formation.

“Shut up Commander, It won't happen again. Especially if I have anything to say about it.” Soarin grumbled.

“Well its a good thing you don't soldier. I actually thought you looked pretty handsome all done up in a set of Rarity’s designer tighty-whities. Oh, and just for that, no pie for a month.” Spitfire teased through the giant grin on her face. Truth be told, docking Soarin’s pie ration might have been a little harsh for some minor back-talk, but did let the alien get away.

“W-w-whaaaat!?” Soarin looked like he was on the verge of tears. “B-b-but PIEE!” He stammered. “Come on Commander, that’s too much.” He whined.

“It’s either that or you get to wear Rarity’s frilly undies for a week. I know I wouldn’t complain.” Spitfire was only just able to keep herself from breaking into peels of laughter as she wiggled her eyebrows at her speechless colleague. Fortunately for her, Rainbow Dash wasn’t so subtle.

“PFFFT HA HA HA HA HA!” *GASP* “HA HA!” The prismatic mare howled with laughter loud enough to earn her some irritated glares from the pegasi guards. Soarin’s glare was enough to make her can it, but even his most venomous look didn't stop her from elbowing the poor stallion and saying quietly “I’d offer to loan ya some clothes, but Rarity always called my stuff real ‘coltish,’ not sure if it would fit your style.” Both of the mares couldn't help but burst out into laughter as the red on Soarin’s cheeks deepened even more.

After what might have been a solid thirty seconds of silent protest from the unfortunate stallion, his thoughts abruptly strayed to the one person he knew who was not actively ridiculing him. “Hey...” he tried to get the attention of his torturers, but they were too lost in their reverie to pay him any attention. “Hey.” he tried again, slightly louder this time, but was still met with loud chuckles and gasps for air. “HEY!” he shouted this time. It was just enough to get the two infuriating mares to quiet down and pay him some non-insulting attention.

Spitfire was the first to rein in her giggles. “Yeah, what is it stud?” she hiccuped out, wiping a laughter-induced tear from her eye.

“Have either of you seen Fleetfoot around? I haven’t seen her since I got reassigned to that stupid boutique.” Soarin said, scanning the flock of pegasi for his quiet squadmate. Spitfire and Rainbow Dash only snickered some more. “Are you two ever going to stop laughing aboUAHAHAG!” the stallion almost fell out of the sky when a pair of icy blue eyes completely enveloped his field of view.

Fleetfoot giggled silently as she looped around so that she was once again right-side up and flying level with her squadmates, ignoring the burning glare from Soarin.

The entire convoy halted without warning, sending the pegasus formation into disarray and bringing shouts of surprise and confusion from the rear echelons of the convoy. Luna was the first to recover from the moment of disarray and with her best rendition of the Royal Canterlot Voice, bellowed forth her inquiry “What is the cause of this disruption?!”

A shadow in the most forward section of the pegasus formation immediately detached itself from the swirling flock and landed directly in front of the lunar princess. The mare’s bat wings and piercing yellow eyes marked her as a member of the Night Guard. “Your highnesses, there is something you should see.” she reported in a crisp and official manner before stepping to the princesses’ side and bowing low. Luna raised an eyebrow and looked back at her sister, it was rare event in which her Night Guard were not more precise in their reports.

“Very well... Lead the way.” Celestia said evenly.

The Night Guard raised her head, offered the celestial princess a shallow nod, and took to the skies. “This way.” she called back to them. With a great flap of their wings, both diarchs took to the sky after the dark guard and quickly broke the thick canopy of trees. What they saw when they breached the leaves stunned them both into prolonged silence.

“It looks like my stars...” Luna breathed, finally breaking the prolonged silence as both she and her sister hovered, staring at the once black silhouette of the Everfree City. To her, it appeared as though a great swath of her own night sky had been sheared from the heavens and draped over the black town like a blanket.

Celestia narrowed her eyes at the shimmering display. She wasn't caught up in the beauty of the spectacle like her younger sister, instead understanding the deeper meaning of this new display of power. “It is a warning.” she said in a cool tone that brooked no argument. “He is warning us to stay away.”

“Are you sure, sister? Surely such a display is too breathtaking to be malicious.” Luna said, snapping back to her wits.

Instead of answering, Celestia tucked her wings against her sides and dropped back to her previous place on the ground with all the grace expected of a royal princess. “Commander Spitfire!” She called, the edge of authority and urgency in her voice was not lost on the soldiers around her.

“Yes, your highness!” Spitfire answered as she dropped from her own dumbstruck state.

“I want everypony to be on guard. We are being warned away and we do not know what Chris the alien’s true capabilities are.” There was no room for argument in Celestia’s tone but a habit born from Spitfire’s early training reared its head.

“Are you sure it isn't just a bluff, your highness?”

Celestia nodded. “Even if it is a bluff, it is entirely possible that there are dangers that we have not prepared to face.”

Despite her dissatisfaction with her princess’ answer, Spitfire did as she was ordered and took to the skies, spreading the order to be wary of the alien settlement and any hazards that it might conceal.


The convoy ground to a halt at the entrance to the now glittering town. The entire city sat on a raised stone dais, as if it had been placed on a pedestal by nature itself. Unfortunately the effect was ruined by the damaged buildings along the border that had been sheared in half by whatever force had transported the town to its current location. Several houses that had been untouched by the movement had even fallen from the cliff as their foundations slid out from under them, adding to the disheveled and abandoned appearance of the Everfree City. A simple earthen ramp reinforced with what looked to be large sheets of corrugated metal signified the entrance to the town.

The convoy’s guards fanned out, quickly discovering and disarming dozens of simple snares and pitfalls arrayed in front of the diminutive, cobbled together gate. The gate itself was constructed from the same type of metal sheets that were being used to reinforce the ramp and had been topped with wire that was covered in extremely small, sharp blades. Despite the great number and decent camouflage of the snares, the ponies were quick to realize that the traps were not meant for deterring an armed foe. They’re age and relatively small size suggested that they had been placed some time ago, before contact had been established with the alien, and were being used to ward off the more venturesome of the Everfree Forest’s inhabitants.

Celestia, Luna, and the elements gathered at the front of the convoy, looking up at the wide open gate.

“What do ya think we'll find in there?” Applejack wondered aloud, her eyes locked on the disarmed but still foreboding entrance.

“Probably a whole lot of nothing, just like when we were here. I wouldn't rule out one or two traps though.” Soarin said as he and the rest of the Wonderbolts casually set down beside the group. A series of irritated exclamations from the guards behind the gathered ponies drew their attention. They turned in time to see the silver-grey form of Professor Crystal Beaker shove her way through the gathered escort to the front of the convoy, joining the princesses and Elements.

“Do you all remember what we discussed?” She questioned, her calm voice almost managing to hide how eager she was to get started. Twilight nodded and pulled out a scroll entitled ‘Procedures’ while the rest of the group, sans the princesses, looked on confusion.

“I do Professor, I even took notes.” Twilight said a small, smug smile on her face.

Professor Beaker sighed. “Alright, this is the last time I'm going to go over this so please pay attention. Don't. Touch. Anything!” She said, emphasizing each word like she was talking to a herd of school fillies. “We don't know what anything does and you could potentially activate something that could be very dangerous. Understand?” She scanned the faces of those gathered around her and, apparently satisfied, nodded at Luna.

Celestia narrowed her eyes, once more trying to take in as much of the town as could be seen, as if she stared at it long enough it would suddenly spring to life to lay all of its secrets at her hooves. “Commander Spitfire, you have the lead.” She said. Spitfire only nodded and slowly moved up the ramp before halting at the edge of the Everfree City’s strange roads. After a single moment of hesitation, the captain of the Wonderbolts stepped boldly onto the smooth, black streets of the glittering fortress.

Several guards fanned out behind her, searching for additional traps or dangers. When they found nothing, Spitfire sounded the all clear and the convoy climbed up the ramp to join the advance party.

Twilight edged closer to one of the odd, wheeled machines, similar to the one Chris originally rode into Ponyville. This one was a dark red in color with a sleek, blocky aesthetic and sat low to the ground. Curious, Twilight held out a hoof and lightly poked the metal body only to nearly leap out of her skin when it suddenly lit up and began emitting a horribly loud screeching noise. She leapt backwards, to the safety of Celestia’s presence, as the guards quickly surrounded the machine and leveled their spears or horns, waiting for the strange contraption to strike. The machine continued emitting the horrid noise and flashing its obnoxious lights, but otherwise remained still until, apparently was satisfied with its display, it once more became inert.

When the machine fell silent the guards looked around in some confusion, baffled by the fact that they were not currently under attack. When the machine showed no more signs of hostility they finally stood down and gave the machine (and all the others like it) a wide berth.

Crystal Beaker shoved her way through the crowd of guards towards the spot where Twilight had taken refuge behind Celestia’s legs. “What part of ‘Don't touch anything’ was so difficult to understand?” She huffed.

Celestia looked down at the trembling Twilight with a half bemused, half disappointed look on her face. “Come on, out from there, shoo!” She said in a playful, motherly tone as she pushed Twilight out from under her with a gilded hoof.

“Sorry.” Twilight mumbled, finally getting up and trying to salvage at least a little of her dignity.

The convoy quickly reformed and headed deeper into the town, the road they were following led right into the heart of the city, as unremarkable as it was. The apparent center of commerce was down the road directly to the convoy’s left, identifiable by it’s many product displays and what looked to be light-up advertisements that would have given the street a distinctly welcoming air had it not been completely devoid of life. Unfortunately, the road that the convoy was currently traveling was much less friendly in its disposition. The most prominent landmarks on the road, while partially hidden by the silhouettes of several homes, loomed above the rest of the town like great monoliths. On one side was a massive brick of a building devoid of ornamentation, quartered off from it’s surroundings by a giant brick wall that easily quadrupled any of the ponies in height. A smaller, squatter square building stood next to the fort. This one, while still very bland and unsophisticated, was the only structure on the street with any significant ornamentation with it’s marble stairs and stout, embellished columns. Finally, the last but easily most impressive building on the road stood alone, opposite its two compatriots. It was a giant, square spire of steel and glass, rivaling many of the smaller spires of Canterlot in grandeur if not in elegance. Lights blazed in every single pane of glass, turning what would have been a simple glass block into a monstrous torch of artificial illumination.

Oddly enough, the lights that had once inspired awe and wonder in the ponies, most of all Luna herself, held little comfort now. Their apparent omnipresence in the town drowned out nearly every light in the sky, leaving the moon and only the brightest stars to maintain their lonely vigil. What was even worse was that even though the lights were so numerous as to suffocate Luna’s sky, they were not enough to illuminate the smooth, black streets of the Everfree City. Golden yellow bulbs along the sidewalks produced only enough light to illuminate small pools directly beneath them, leaving anything not directly touched by the lamps covered in darkness and malformed shadows.

Worst of all had been the homes that the convoy had forced itself to shuffle past. They sat silent along the roads, full of warm, golden, artificial light but little else. The lifelessness of their interiors was not disguised by the luminescent facade, and every pony in the convoy was keenly aware that they were as uninhabited and lifeless as empty mausoleums.

A sudden, tense silence fell over the group as one of the Night Guard scouts called attention to a strange shape on the top of one of the buildings, a very alien looking shape. When Fleetfoot went to investigate, it turned out to be nothing but a collection of clothes and some sticks, like a hastily constructed scarecrow. The constructs, or ‘scarecrows,’ got more and more abundant as they neared the center of town and appeared over rooftops, in alleyways, and even propped up next to doors. They stood as lifeless sentinels, glowering upon the intruders despite their lack of eyes. They did not welcome the pastel colored interlopers.

“Such a waste of Fashion!” Rarity whined, only just failing to conceal the nervous tremble in her voice as she attempted to draw her mind away from the scarecrow’s eyeless glare and to the more mundane annoyance of the moth eaten and moldy clothes. She even forced herself to wince every time she saw an article of clothing that might have been fashionable at some point in the past to try and complete her personal illusion.

“They are meant only to frighten us.” Celestia said evenly, an almost imperceptible frown tugging at her lips. Her voice carried over her ponies like a warm, reassuring blanket in the oppressive silence of the graveyard town.

“Do not underestimate the alien.” Professor Beaker spoke up from her spot next to Twilight, emboldened by the princess’ words. “These ‘scarecrows’ are more than just a scare tactic; they are a distraction and could allow the creature we are hunting to hide in plain sight. Keep watch for any movement or else he might slip away from us, or worse.” The princesses nodded at the professor. Crystal Beaker was correct, they would need to be vigilant.

Fluttershy quietly glared at the professor’s back the moment the word ‘hunting’ came out of her mouth. They were searching for him, not hunting him like he was some kind of menace that needed to be put down. That the professor would even suggest such a hostile action was insulting to the soft-spoken pegasus.

Professor Beaker couldn’t explain what exactly she was feeling at that moment, only that she felt like somepony had suddenly become extremely displeased with her. She found the feeling both unsettling and confusing.

“I didn't expect you to be one for combat tactics, Professor.” Luna said nonchalantly as they walked.

The professor’s cheeks flushed at praise from her princess. “It is not combat tactics Princess, it is merely logic. I will however admit to reading the writings of Commander Hurricane; fascinating subject, ancient pegasi doctrine.”

“Many ponies in positions of leadership read them, I myself have perused them from time to time.” Celestia said, nodding slightly.

The convoy finally left the accosting silence of the glowing homes behind and came even with the three great landmarks at the heart of the city. As they passed the midpoint of the single embellished structure somepony stepped on a small string suspended above the smooth, black concrete. There was a loud, sputtering, hissing noise and a small pool of hellish, red light bathed the street in the color of blood. The convoy of ponies began to draw closer together seeking safety in their brothers and sisters-at-arms as all but the hardest guards began wondering if even being in this ghostly visage of a town was a wise move. As the convoy gathered closer and closer together, another wire was tripped and the street was lit by a new red flame, as bright and as malignant-sounding as the last. As the group became more concentrated and more confused more ponies set of even more traps, adding three more hissing, sputtering flames of Tartarus to the total. The flames were so brilliant and so numerous now that even the top of the glass torch sparkled ruby red, as if its crown had begun to bleed fat, metallic drops of blood.

The pegasi above did little to comfort their earthbound brethren. As they circled above in their ever-tightening formation the light cast by the hellfire glinted off of their golden armor like embers from a stoked log. From the ground it seemed as if the stars had become fury itself and were descending from the sky to wreak horrible, celestial wrath upon the world.

“BE CALM!” Luna roared in her best Royal Canterlot Voice. “IT IS ONLY LIGHT, MEANT TO FRIGHTEN US!” Her magically enhanced voice cast away the pall of fear and superstition that had befallen the convoy. The nerve of Equestria’s Finest returned at once and the earth pony and unicorn force immediately fell back into ranks, as stoic and resolute as the mountain Canterlot was perched upon.

A gold-clad Royal Guard pegasus detached from the aerial formation and angled downward towards the main convoy, aiming for a landing directly in front of the royal princesses. As the pegasus reached level with the surrounding homes his descent violently halted and he let out a startled, strangled cry of pain. The pegasus bounced once in the air before crashing down in a crumbled heap of metal and flesh. Any exposed flesh had been savaged with long, straight cuts and the flight feathers on his wings had been snapped and sheared in dozens of places.

“Medic!” Spitfire shouted as she dived to the stallion’s aid. She didn’t see what had brought down her flying compatriot until she was practically on top of it. Angry red lines flared in the red lights as she approached roof level. With agility befitting the Captain of the Wonderbolts, Spitfire pulled up just in time to avoid the spiderweb of metallic wires spread in a ghostly canopy above the road. They were practically invisible in the low-light environment of the city, and the bright red flare traps had ruined her night vision to the point that, unless the wires caught the light as just the right angle, the web was undetectable.

Alone, the web would have been an annoying hazard that would only succeed in keeping the ground and air forces separated until a sizable gap could be found or cut away. Combined with the visual cover provided by the scarecrows and the disorienting effect of the fire traps it was the final piece of a lethal setup. “Ambush!” Spitfire cried.

The effect was instantaneous. The guards assumed defensive formations in a flash, forming up into two tercios guarding approaches from both ends of the road. The princesses, Crystal Beaker, and Elements of Harmony were protected between the two bristling formations.

The elements huddled between the princesses waiting for an attack. For their part, Celestia and Luna flared out their wings and put on their most stoic expressions, waiting to meet the unseen enemy. Several moments passed with the hundred guards watching and waiting for any sign of danger. When none came after nearly five tense minutes, Celestia flagged down Commander Spitfire, who had put two pegasi to work sawing through the web with their hoof-mounted blades. “Commander, have the pegasi spotted anything?”

Spitfire looked a little sheepish and more than a little baffled. “No your highness, we haven't spotted any movement.”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed as she looked around at the surrounding buildings. “Another trick.” she said, almost too quiet for the ponies around her to hear.

“I don't get this, this was almost a textbook ambush, why leave us alone?” Spitfire wondered aloud.

“What's going on?” Twilight asked, startling the solar princess. In her concentration, Celestia had forgotten the six ponies huddled just inches from her hooves.

“Does anypony hear something?” Pinkie asked. The others raised their ears, listening for anything out of the ordinary. After a moment of silence Twilight was about to scold Pinkie for raising a false alarm during such a dangerous situation when a loud rumble erupted from nearby. It was a noise Twilight didn’t recognize. To her, the sound was comparable to the sound of somepony paging through a flipbook. If every page had been made from a sheet of metal.

A large cloud of black smoke burst forth from an alleyway situated directly between the two tercios. The guards scrambled to close their formation. The eight ponies in the nucleus of the formation were bathed in a blinding, white light. The roar of whatever was in the alley intensified.

Suddenly, a massive shape charged out into the street, towards the eight ponies gathered in the center of the road. Celestia only just managed to levitate the five Elements and the professor out of the way of the assailant as a massive metal claw slammed into her chest and smashed her against the brick wall of the fort.

“Sister!” Luna cried out in fear, pith helmet clattering to the ground, forgotten.

The massive, hulking thing pulled away from its victim, leaving the solar princess to slide down the wall and fall into a boneless heap at the monster’s feet.

Now that the beast had turned away, blinding lights on its front were no longer in the eyes of Luna and the recovering Elements. They could now look upon the monster that had dared to attack Celestia.

It was a box.

A massive, yellow box. A monstrous, metal claw was perched on an enormous arm emerging from the top of the beast. What looked to be the monster’s equivalent of a torso sat upon a strange moving platform covered in rubber and metal belts. Large, white characters written in the alien’s language were stamped onto the garish, yellow skin of the beast. It turned to face Luna, it’s blinding lights once again shielding it from her gaze.

The princess’s escorts overcame their initial surprise and rallied against the beast, firing blue and gold bolts of offensive magic at the hulking form. To their horror the creature merely shrugged off the punishment like so many mosquitos, the only visible damage they had managed to inflict was the destruction of three of the creature’s lights. Spitfire and the other pegasi raged against the web, swearing and cutting and circling madly in an attempt to bypass the hated barrier.

Fluttershy gasped. The broken lights allowed her to see into the face of the monster. Inside of the monster, lit by an eerie blue light, was Chris. He pulled levers this way and that, sending the monster reeling and spinning to try and swat the guards that had rushed to the aid of their princess.

The monster halted for just a moment. Fluttershy watched as Chris doubled over in a coughing fit and was horrified as she saw dark globs of liquid splatter over the glass and obscure his face from her.

Luna stared at the crumpled form of her sister; the monster had left her lying there like a broken toy. Blind fury overtook her. Her eyes glowed bright, her horn was instantly sheathed in a night blue aura of magic, and her voice was so loud that windows of the glass torch shook from the sheer volume of her words.


Fluttershy wanted to call out to stop Luna, but her protests were lost in the princess’ roar. The princess was charging some kind of spell, she knew. She had to stop her. She had to stop the fighting now! Somepony would get hurt.

Or worse...

A spectral keening filled the air as Luna completed her spell. She sent a beam of blue light towards the feet of the monster. Wherever the light fell the black stone beneath the behemoth exploded, sending it soaring through the air and into the elegant stone columns of the embellished building. The monster came apart at its middle, the face and legs smashed through the front walls of the building like a pair of wrecking balls, sending glass, stonework, and dust everywhere.

There was silence for a moment, and then the flames began to spread.


The sound of my own ragged breath drowned out the alarms going off in the cab of the ruined excavator. I tried to calm down and breath but a fit of coughs wracked by numb body. It was only when I looked up at the consol and saw the flecks of red that I understood how wrong everything had gone. I raised my head, finding the action difficult for some reason. When I looked outside my eyes widened in despair. “Oh God... Oh God... they're everywhere!” I breathed, “Oh God... Help me... help me please...” I wanted to shout out, to make God take notice, but I couldn't. My voice was contained to a mere whisper as the presence of the princesses weighed down on my lungs. I struggled out of the seat restraints and out of the (now missing) door. I flopped to the ground and barely managed to get my feet underneath the rest of me. I could hear the almost silent *drip* *drip* of-

Of something I didn't want to think about.

I could see the vast gaggle of ponies in the street, all of them deathly silent and most looking away from me, towards something glowing and yellow. Suddenly black shapes sprung from the alleys and dark corners of the road. Something was attacking them, something... I don't know what. Did God hear my prayer? Did he send his angels to stop them? I turned and stumbled away, moving deeper into the courthouse, towards the rear emergency exit. Moving my legs was far harder than it should have been but I had to get somewhere safe... They were still following me. They would never stop.


Apple Bloom pushed aside the leaves of the bush the Cutie Mark Crusaders had huddled in. The three intrepid fillies had been following the convoy of guards ponies since they had left from Ponyville around dusk. The girls were dirty, they were tired, and Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo continued to pester Apple Bloom about ‘this being a bad idea.’ She was starting to think they were both right. The three fillies had run the moment the massive monster had attacked the princess but now they didn't know where they were.

Plus, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo had called it a bad idea. Scootaloo never backed down from anything.

The spot that had wandered into looked like a small clearing with big, straight-trunked trees and sidewalks around some grassy areas that looked like they hadn't been cared for in quite a while. It looked like it could have been some sort of weird kind of park or something, but everything was in perfect rows.

“Shh, I thank I hear them.” Apple Bloom muttered to the two other Crusaders, who were obviously scared out of their wits.

Being out in the Everfree without their sisters wasn't the problem, Apple Bloom went out into the Everfree all the time to visit Zecora with the other two in tow, and while the dead alien town was a little creepy, they could still deal with that without much problem. The problem was that the town wasn’t exactly as dead as they had thought.

“Get down!” Scootaloo whispered harshly and pushed Sweetie Belle’s head down as a creature with spindly dagger-like legs passed several feet from their hiding place.

The problem was the sudden scores of horrifying monsters. The creatures had showed up right after the fight with the huge alien monster started and they were all swarming in that direction like they were a swarm of bees lured to a fresh melon.

The creatures themselves were like nothing the three fillies had ever seen (or had ever wanted to see). With their too-thin bodies and their blade- and spike-like limbs they were the most vicious looking monsters that had ever crawled from the muck of the forest.

It didn't help that they looked like they had been pieced together with a heaping helping of tar and animal bones...


Everything was deadly silent. The only sounds were the crackling of the flames that were slowly consuming the dead monster and a tiny, unidentified pinging noise emanating from what had once been its top half. Twilight suddenly broke from the huddle of elements and sprinted for her mentor’s side. “Princess! Princess are you alright!?” she shouted.

Twilight skidded to a stop when she heard a guard mare screaming. Chaos befel the convoy as strange, dark creatures leapt from the shadows. The guards fought back against them but their foes were elusive in the red, flickering shadows, and their movements, no matter how fast or sudden, were as silent as death. Their blade-like limbs cut into the guards like butcher knives.

Pinkie jumped from the huddle of ponies, placing herself between Twilight and a monster that had been trying to sneak up on the lavender unicorn. Pinkie had just settled into her patented hoof-judo-chop-fu stance when a rainbow blur snatched both her and Twilight away from the monster.

Twilight only got one look at the monster that had been sneaking up on her. It was all she needed. The face of the monster had been a pig’s skull.

Rainbow Dash sat them both down next to the rest of the elements. “Got ya!” she panted.

“Thanks Rainbow Dash.” Twilight breathed.

With the pegasi having finally forced their way through the wire trap, the monsters quickly found that the fight was no longer in their favor, and so they vanished as suddenly as they had appeared, flowing like black water into the nooks and crannies of the dead city. The ambush had left the convoy in shambles and many of their guard escorts were injured while Celestia herself remained unconscious. The ponies needed to find a safe place to rest, and they needed one now.


She seethed with rage at the audacity of the pony invaders. ‘How dare they! How dare they come when nothing is ready!’ She shouted in her own mind. They had come and attacked John, they were trying to take him away from her. She could already feel her lesser artworks automatically moving to kill the invaders. NO! She had to finish! John was alright, he would be alright, he would heal. She had to strain to pull her lesser artworks back, but they did as she commanded, they were part of her. She couldn't give herself away just yet, She had to finish. So close! She had to finish her masterpiece!

She ripped a large chunk of flesh from a dead manticore that had made the mistake of seeing her masterpiece as prey, mere food for consumption. She planted the flesh on the top of her head, the long, red mane of the manticore was now her own and she would just need a little help from her magic to make it natural. She had already taken its eyes, and with this final piece she was so close to being finished she could taste it. With a crackle, the subjugated wild magic of the Everfree pulled her flesh into the proper shapes.

The almost complete form of her masterpiece stepped over to a small pile of clothing. This was one of the last things she needed to do; she needed a real name and a real face for herself. The macabre puppet reached into the folds of fabric and pulled out a small leather bag. She pulled open the clasp and rifled through the confines for a moment before pulling out a small, plastic card. There was a picture of a pretty young girl in her mid twenties on the laminated plastic.

She took a moment to memorize the features before the flesh that made up her face began to shift and change. Wet snaps echoed down the dark, deserted alley as her bones adjusted themselves to their new form. She almost managed to perfectly copy the pretty girl, but the bones of her face were a little different. ‘The jaw is too different, it makes the cheekbones appear higher...’ Oh well, it would do.

She looked down at the card again.

“Eleison Melrose.” Her brand new voice croaked out.

She smiled, Eleison was a fine name, it was hers now.

Author’s Note: I hope that was satisfying. Seriously how could it not be? Chris punched Celestia with a giant piece of construction equipment! Well an a related note I was surprised by how difficult it was to think of a proper ambush when half the people you're trying to ambush can fly...

I also would like to thank my Co-Author Admari for being a champ and staying awake at ridiculous hours to help me finish this chapter.

Co-Author’s Note: Apparently, Google docs is trying really hard to ship RD and Soarin. And it’s not being subtle at all... Or family friendly. Control yourself, Google! We already have this problem with the image search.

Also, I do apologize, faithful readers, for my failure this chapter. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to work in a quip about Stratego. I shall now go commit Sudoku. And go to sleep. -Admari