• Published 8th Feb 2013
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Harmony's Warriors: Flutterhulk - Avenging-Hobbits

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Act II - 10 - In Times of Trouble

Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Ten:
"In Times of Trouble"

Snowflake sat in the waiting room, just outside a lab in the MagiTech headquarters in Canterlot. Having spent the last three months abroad, he was glad to be back in Equestria; a place where everypony spoke the same language and all the food was edible. After Hoofcuff’s unexpected departure, the General had taken Snowflake to Canterlot, where he would finally receive the thing he so deeply desired:

Pure, unbridled power and superiority.

His thoughts drifted from subject to subject as he waited, tapping his hoof impatiently. At the thought of how that grey mare had gotten all riled when she found out about Flutterhulk, he snickered.

Figures that mare couldn’t handle it. He thought. After all, this is a stallion’s world.

He let out a smug sigh and continued to scan the room, his impatience growing.

The door suddenly opened and a rather bookish mare leaned out the door and motioned towards Snowflake, “The doctor will see you now.”

Snowflake smiled and entered the lab, taking it in. It held an unexpectedly high amount of advanced technology, for such a relatively small room. They all hummed and beeped and went about pouring various liquids of colors into vials and moving the vials along, attaching labels to them and putting them in secure containers. The containers were then sealed shut and put into a neat stack on the counter.

A young looking unicorn stallion motioned towards Snowflake. He had a dark green coat, an auburn mane and tail that were both cut short. He was wearing a white lab coat and a pair of goggles rested on his forehead.

“Hello, hello,” he said in a nasally voice, beckoning for Snowflake to come over.

“Hello, I’m here for the injection,” Snowflake replied, motioning towards one of the half-dozen vials in one of the open containers.

The unicorn smiled ecstatically, giggling like a school girl. “Oh goody! Let us proceed!” he whipped out a syringe and filled it with a dark green liquid. “Here we go now!” he giggled as he lifted the syringe like a dagger and moved to inject Snowflake.

The next thing Snowflake felt was a sharp pain in his upper foreleg, then a strange tingling sensation. He turned to see the strange dark green liquid being injected into his foreleg.

“DONE!” the unicorn chimed, yanking the syringe out of Snowflake’s arm and dumping it into a biohazard box, all while whistling some kindergarten tune. Snowflake rubbed the spot where the needle had pierced his skin.

“That’s it?” he asked, slightly confused at the sheer simplicity of it all. He honestly had thought they’d strap him down to a table or something and run a bunch of electricity or magic through him while a bunch of mad scientists cackled maniacally.

The unicorn nodded. “Of course, it’s a very minor procedure. It should take at least two days for you to start to feel the effects, but I assure you, they will be noticeable,” he patted Snowflake on the back. “You can go now.”

Snowflake nodded and trotted out of the doctor’s lab, a distinct feeling of being ripped off lurking in his mind.

“This had better be worth it…” he muttered under his breath.

///////////////////////

Hoofcuff walked down the gangplank, a grim look on her face. The airship ride to Canterlot had been detoured due to a need for repairs. Apparently, making sure his airship was in proper working condition had completely slipped the captain's mind, and the engine had given out, forcing them to dock in this backwater town for repairs.

Hoofcuff had already made her frustration known to the captain, in a rather long and quite colorful rant. She was THIS close to getting home and being back among logical ponies, and go back to chasing proper fugitives, ponies like bank robbers and murderers, not some shy pegasus that apparently could turn into some giant green rage monster at a moment’s notice. No thanks, she thought, I'll take any serial killer over a monster that'll squash me like a bug any day of the week.

She reached the bottom of the gangplank and looked around, taking in the humble town. A small sign identified the town as ‘Ponyville’.

Hoofcuff grumbled and made her way towards the center of town, at least taking a chance to stretch her legs for a bit. Her stormy disposition faded, however, as she quickly began to appreciate the quietness of the town. It was such an extreme contrast to how big cities like Manehatten or Canterlot felt, what with at least a dozen ponies constantly harassing you at any given moment. Here, everybody went about their business happily, chattering with each other and even going out of their way to wish Hoofcuff a good morning as she passed by.

Hoofcuff eventually settled down at a local café, sitting down to sort through the past few weeks and where she should go from here. She lazily scanned the area around the café when her eyes caught sight of a very, very familiar face on a wanted poster stuck to a light pole across from her.

It was Fluttershy.

Any semblance of a good mood Hoofcuff might have developed was quickly washed away by the image of the pegasus’ face. It seemed as if the entire universe was rubbing Fluttershy in Hoofcuff's face, constantly reminding her of the one pony she had been tasked to track down that had gotten away. And not only that, but it also served as a reminder of the fact Hoofcuff didn't even have the gumption to go after the accursed mare and properly bring her in.

Nope, just the opposite. What had Hoofcuff done? She ran the other way, away from her target. It stuck in her craw. She had faced much worse hadn't she? She had gone up against and captured the absolute worst monsters, freaks and weirdos that Equestria had to offer, and what had gotten her to turn tail and run? A little wimpy pegasus. It drove Hoofcuff insane. A part of her berated her for not finishing the job, being a mature adult and get over herself. She'd been scared before, why was this one different? Why did it have to be THIS mission where she finally lost her nerve?

She let out a frustrated groan and pounded her head on the table in frustration.

“Hey you okay there?” a female voice asked.

Hoofcuff looked up the source of the voice, which was a mint green unicorn with a quizzical look on her face. Hoofcuff's eyes narrowed.

“Bug off will you?” she grumbled, giving the unicorn a dirty look.

The unicorn shrugged. “Fine suit yourself,” and with that the unicorn trotted away, humming to herself.

Hoofcuff's thoughts returned to Fluttershy and her own failure. Is it because I'm getting older? She thought. She quickly shook her head. Nonsense Hoofcuff, you're only thirty-five. That's not old. Not at all.

She let out another frustrated groan. Then why do I feel like a total plothole? She wondered, rubbing her temples in frustration. Ugh, my life SUCKS. She thought. Her eyes once more started drifting around, searching for something to distract her from her moral quandary. She caught sight of a sign advertising the café’s various flavors of coffee. That’s it, I need some coffee.

She pulled her head up from the table and motioned towards a nearby waiter. “Waiter, waiter!” the waiter, a rather snooty looking earth pony with a slicked back mane and mustache, trotted over.

“Yes, ma'am?” the waiter asked. “What is it I may do for you?”

“Can I have some coffee? Black, no sugar,” Hoofcuff asked, looking back out at the town passing by.

“Oui madame,” the waiter replied, turning away and trotting into the cafe. Hoofcuff waited, twiddling her thumbs out of boredom.

She jumped slightly when she heard the sound of her cell phone ringing. “Wait, what?” she muttered as she fished through her ever present windbreaker for the phone. She found it, tucked in her pocket. She answered it.

“Hello, this is Hoofcuff. Speaking?” she asked.

“Why hello Agent,” the familiar voice of the General replied from the other side. “I have some news you might find interesting.”

Hoofcuff rolled her eyes, and rubbed her forehead in frustration. “How the hay did you get this number?”

“Well I make a point of finding out ways to contact anypony I might be working with in case I need to contact them with important information. Such as now.”

“And what would that be?” Hoofcuff grumbled.

“Well, for one thing, I completely sympathize with the reasons for your departure from the mission. After all, you certainly weren’t expecting such a…stunning sight now where you?”

“No…no I wasn’t.” Hoofcuff grumbled in response. “And I wouldn’t exactly call that ‘stunning’. ‘Weapon of mass destruction’ might be a better term.”

“Yes, yes it would be. Which is exactly why I believe that you probably feel quite guilty that you’ve abandoned your post…as it were…”

Hoofcuff’s eyes nearly exploded out her skull at the general’s words. How dare that stuck up jarhead accuse her of such a thing? She left for moral reasons, NOT cowardice.

“Listen here you,” Hoofcuff spat into the phone. “Lets get one very important fact straight right now: I'm no coward. Okay? Got that? I left because I personally feel that you were dishonest with me and put me and my assistant's lives at risk without properly filling me in on, what I would assume, are some pretty important pieces of information! If you had just been honest with me from the very beginning of this 'mission' I probably wouldn't reacted as I did. Got it?!”

She paused, ignoring the fact that the waiter had brought her her coffee, instead awaiting the response from the general on the other side. The response came in the form of a dark chuckle.

“Agent Hoofcuff, you know exactly why I couldn't just tell you that...information right at the beginning. You simply wouldn't have believed me.”

Hoofcuff gritted her teeth together in anger. “Well you could have at least given it a shot!” she spat back. She could hear the general sigh on the other side, almost as if he were tired of her.

“Agent Hoofcuff, are you quite finished? Because if you are, I have a proposition for you,” he spoke, seeming very calm and collected, in spite of the browbeating he had just received from the grey mare.

Probably wants me to find the lost city of the Seaponies or something... She thought, but didn't voice her thoughts, instead opting to hear what the general had to say, mainly so she could come up with a well worded way for her to tell him to buck off.

“Ugh, what?” she finally grumbled, rubbing her forehead. All this frustration and gripping had given her a headache.

“Agent Hoofcuff, my request is this: come back, and finish the job. You know what you're up against and the full scope of what’s at stake. Are you seriously telling me that you will willingly let a pony that is best described as a living weapon of mass destruction simply walk away, free to do whatever she pleases, even if that means the destruction of the country we both hold so dear to our hearts? All for something as frivolous and subjective as 'honesty'?” she could hear the sound of him shifting in his chair. “Because, from my point of view, I believe I was rather honest. What I said was true...from a certain point of view.”

Hoofcuff's first impulse was to scream into the phone a very, VERY colorful line of expletives and ream him on the nature of honesty. However, before she had a chance to come up with any such insults, she was cut off by the general.

“And before you think of making a witty retort, Agent Hoofcuff, I must inform you that if you say no to this proposition, I will make one phone call to your superiors, and inform them that you abandoned a mission, and therefore the search for one of Equestria's Most Wanted, all for what would appear to be quite selfish reasons.”

That stopped Hoofcuff cold. She held herself back for a moment, processing what the General had just said. If she said no, not only would he tell her superiors, but would most certainly make sure that she got fired, most likely in the most humiliating way possible. Hoofcuff felt all her bravado and ego drain away from her.

“However, if you say yes, and come back and help us complete this endeavor, I’ll make sure that none of this sees the light of day, and I’ll put a good word in for you. Take your pick.”

Suddenly the prospect of returning to the job and capturing Fluttershy seemed a very wonderful and charming thing. Hoofcuff looked across the café and back at the wanted poster, her eyes narrowing in determination. A part of her screamed that this wasn’t just and would only end badly for all involved, but another, much more persuasive part of her was telling her to accept the challenge. It was her ego.

“Ugh…fine. I’ll go along with your little wild goose chase. As soon as you get back your little pink maned freak, I’m out okay? No more of this running around, looking over and under hill for her,” she responded, doing her best to remain a calm and collected veneer. “Do we have an agreement?”

There was a pause on the other end, before the General spoke again.

“Yes…of course we do.”

///////////////////////

Fluttershy slowly opened her eyes. The last thing she remembered was bumping into her mother at the Ponyville market and then fainting. The first thing she noticed was that she was in someone’s house, bundled up rather nicely in a warm comforter.

What in Equestria happened? What am I doing here?

She slowly looked around the room. She was lying on someone’s bed, in what was apparently the bed room. All along the light pink walls ran various rather simple, yet elegant paintings of flowers and plants. The warm smell of something that had obviously just finished baking and the sound of soothing classical music playing gave Fluttershy a strange feeling of being at home here, wherever it was. Almost as if she’d been here before.

She slowly sat herself up and gently climbed off the bed, walking into the living room, familiarizing herself with it. In the corner sat a rather modest television, perched on a small desk. Along the walls were more paintings of flowers and plants and here were several bookcases filled with books of various sizes, all neatly lined up. There was also a small upright piano tucked into a corner opposite from the television, and it looked rather well used. Perched on the piano was a rather old looking, but well preserved radio; the source of the soothing classical music she had heard. Sunlight poured in through the windows, which overlooked a small, modest looking backyard with a tree in the middle, where Fluttershy could see various birds and squirrels scampering about.

“Um…hello?” she quietly called out, walking as quietly as possible out of the living room and into the kitchen, towards the smell of whatever it was that had been baked. She tilted her head slightly in confusion at the sight that greeted her once she entered the kitchen. The kitchen was an equally humble affair, consisting of a small table, upon which was a small platter, were several dozen chocolate chip cookies sat, apparently fresh out of the oven. There was a small stove top oven tucked in a corner, and in the other corner, was a washing machine, which was quietly running. The refrigerator sat tucked next to the dishwasher.

Fluttershy’s eyes drifted to the kitchen table and the cookies that sat on it, she noticed that alongside the cookies, sat a small note. She quietly walked over picked up the note to read it.

“Dearest Fluttershy,

I hope you slept well and are properly rested.

I baked these cookies for you. I know they’re your favorite. Help yourself.

If you wish to speak with me, I’ll be in the garden painting the flowers.

Your loving mother, Tree Flower.”

Fluttershy smiled, a warm feeling filling her heart. She slowly reached over and picked up one of the cookies. She took a small bite, savoring the wonderfully sweet and warm taste. The flavor of the cookies brought back a flood of memories to her. Memories of her mother gently comforting her after another torturous day of school, always with gentle loving hugs and these wonderful cookies.

Of course, those memories soon darkened with the cloud of the other side of her personality. Especially that black day in October. How could her mother possibly forgive her after what she done? New Fluttershy had taken away the pony most important to her mother, and had left her alone, weeping over his battered body.

An overwhelming feeling of guilt overcame Fluttershy, and she started to hyperventilate.

What if she secretly still hates me? What if she’s towards the door right now and this is all a trick? She turned pale and darted out of the kitchen, paranoia gripping her mind, I’ve gotta get out of here…

She quickly scampered towards the front door, hoping that her mother hadn’t heard her.

Her paranoid train of thought was interrupted by her mother’s melodic voice calling from behind her.

“Fluttershy? Where are you going?”

Fluttershy froze, hoof on the door handle. “Um…” she stuttered. “I-I just feel t-that I s-should go.”

“But why? Why would you want to leave?” her mother asked, a strange sadness evident in her voice.

Fluttershy swallowed. “I’m sorry mother, I just can’t stay here…I don’t want her to hurt you.”

“Whatever are you talking about?” her mother said, slowly walking towards her. She had on a light blue apron that was covered in paint splatters.

Fluttershy sobbed. “Mother, you know exactly what I’m talking about. She’s dangerous, all she does is cause destruction and pain….and I don’t want any more of that to happen to you.”

Tree Flower put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “Dear…is this about your father?”

Fluttershy moved away, the mention of her father making her bristle. One half of her still felt betrayed by the one pony she had trusted and loved so dearly, who had always told her that she was his little angel. But then she found out the truth. That she wasn’t good enough. But, the other half of her felt a totally different emotion: Sorrow.

Sorrow that, in her own selfishness, she had let out some horrible monstrous side of her explode into the world and utterly destroy everything she had held dear. The gruesome memory of her father’s battered and bloodied body laying on the floor, with her mother clutching it, mourning him flashed through her mind. Her emotions overwhelmed her and she fell to her knees, sobbing. “Mother I’m so sorry…” she wept, pulling Tree Flower into a tight hug. “I-I’m so sorry! Sorry for everything...” she continued to weep, more than twenty years of held back pain and suffering exploding forth in one extreme wave of emotion.

Tree Flower gently rocked her back and forth, shushing her. “It’s okay…it’s okay…it wasn’t your fault.”

“But it was!” Fluttershy cried out, “If I hadn’t let New Fluttershy out, none of that would have happened!” She tightened her hug around her mother, burying herself into the other pony’s chest.

Tree Flower gently pulled out of the hug, and put a hoof on Fluttershy’s chin, making Fluttershy look her in the eyes. “Fluttershy,” she said, her voice placid and calm. “It’s not your fault. You didn’t do it on purpose. It was purely an accident, nothing more. Your father loved you, and I still love you. Nothing you could ever do would stop me from loving you with all my heart. You’re my daughter,” She wiped a stray tear from Fluttershy’s face.

“B-but f-father said I w-was a failure…t-that I n-needed to be fixed, like I was broken or something…” Fluttershy sniffed, tears streaming down her face.

Tree Flower let out a heavy sigh, “Fluttershy, listen,” she paused, seemingly gathering her thoughts. “When your father said that, he was angry and frustrated at himself. Do you know why he said those things?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “N-no…”

Tree Flower unexpectedly stood up. “Follow me and I’ll show you,” she beckoned towards the living room. Fluttershy, still crying, stood up and followed her mother into the living room. They both sat on the couch, as her mother tinkered with the television.

“You’re father left you this, he made it right before he died…” her mother said as she put a rather old looking video tape into the rather battered and bedraggled looking tape player.

She then switched the television on and it revealed a very pale and sickly looking Banner Wing sitting in a hospital bed, with dozens of IVs and life-support systems wired into him, his body aglow with healing magic, his breath wheezed, and breathing obviously taking its toll on his body.

“Hello Fluttershy,” he said, taking a shallow breath. “I hope that when you see this, things are going better than they are now.”

He chuckled slightly, his laughter descending into a coughing fit, his whole body heaving and shaking with each cough. Fluttershy felt a stab of guilt go through her heart at the sight. It was her fault he was like this. Eventually, however, his coughing subsided and he looked back into the camera.

“Sorry about that. Anyways, I’m making this message in case I don’t make it. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. Sorry that I didn’t tell you about my tests, I really should have. That was foolish of me. I’m so sorry,” He coughed again.

“Even though it might not look that way, I did this because I love you. I couldn’t live to see you bullied and mocked at school, other fillies and colts poking fun at your tiny wings, or your gimpy legs. Sadly, I started to think that those where defects too. What I didn’t realize, however, is that those aren’t defects, they’re gifts. They make you what you are,” tears started flowing from his eyes. “I regret that I acted so rash and foolishly. But, even with those mistakes, and there are many, you must remember that I will still love you, no matter what happens. Nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you. Just remember that. I love you.”

And, with those words, the tape went blank. Fluttershy stared at the screen, her own emotions now confused and clashing.

“See?” her mother said, sitting next to her. “That was his last message to you. He loved you, Fluttershy, and he always hoped that one day, one day you’d return and we’d be together again…as a family…” she paused, tears welling up in her eyes. “And now you’re home…” she unexpectedly pulled Fluttershy into an incredibly tight hug, and started to cry into Fluttershy’s shoulder. “And we’re a family again…”

Fluttershy herself returned the hug, and the two mares sat together, quietly crying, healing the wounds those twenty years of separation had made between the two.

And, deep in Fluttershy’s soul, she felt at home and, most importantly, she felt at peace.

Author's Note:

Chapter title from the song "Let It Be" by The Beatles

Huh, would you look at that. That's the second Beatles song I've used for this story.

Weird. And from the same album too. Totally random.

Moving on, sorry for the delays, but I really needed to sort some story points out first, before I continued. Since I really want this finale to be as solid as I can make it.

And hopefully, you all find Hoofcuff's motivations for returning to be nice and logical.

And don't worry, we'll get some more Fluttershy with her mom next chapter.

Same goes for Snowflake. His scene was a stop gap, to remind us where he is. I'll hopefully feature him a little more in the next chapter.

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