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

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Act II - 08 - Lead Me to Your Door

Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Eight:
"Lead Me to Your Door"

Hoofcuff stalked through the temporary camp, scanning the various cots for Starlight. After the revelation of that giant…thing, she had made a beeline for the temporary medical tents that now littered the remains of the prison.

Hoofcuff was still in a state of quasi-shock over what she had just witnessed.

Where the hell did that thing come from? She thought. She ran through the proceeding events in her mind.

I heard the announcement, came down the hall, enter the room and then a giant green monster is storming around…what the hell?!

No matter how many times she ran through the situation, it only managed to make less, and less sense. How could that thing in anyway be related to Fluttershy? Sure it kind of looking like her, except…it was gigantic…and green…and could smash tanks together like little toy cars. It was disturbing.

She shook her head to clear away the thoughts, muttering to herself. “Get yourself together Hoofcuff…this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ve seen stuff that’s way weirder…right? I mean you’ve hunted down serial killers and mass murders and what’s got you in a bunch? A giant green monster that turned two tanks into a scrap heap and tore through a maximum security prison wall like it was paper…”

She finally caught sight of Starlight lying down on a cot, having a spirited disagreement with a nurse who was trying to move his injured leg.

“Damn it lady! That hurts! Stop moving it! Ow!”

The nurse, who obviously had been putting up with his protests for quite awhile, ignored him and set the injured leg up on a pillow. Hoofcuff finally reached the two.

“Hey Starlight, how you doing?” she asked, trying to sound confident, but the sight of dozens of injured ponies certainly didn’t help it. Starlight shrugged.

“Well, pretty well. They say my leg should be better soon.” He motioned towards the plaster encased leg. “If this nurse won’t stop messing with it.”

The nurse rolled her eyes and turned to look at Hoofcuff. “Excuse me Agent, I have to go treat some more patients. Make sure he doesn’t try to do anything with that leg.”

Hoofcuff nodded. “Sure thing.” She waved as the nurse walked away, before turning back to Starlight. “Starlight, did you see what happened?” Hoofcuff’s voice dropped to a low whisper.

Starlight nodded. “Yeah. What the hell was that thing? I mean it was huge. That’s why I’m here right now. I fell off a walkway or something…”

There was a pause between the two, with Hoofcuff running through the proceeding events trying to piece together something that made sense. Suddenly her face lit up.

“Starlight…remember when the PA system announced that a prisoner had escaped, right before that…hulk thing came around?”

Starlight nodded. “Yeah, they said it was Prisoner 101296…but why? That’s Fluttershy’s number…” he paused, before turning to look up at Hoofcuff. “Surely you can’t be serious…I mean…really?! Fluttershy is that monster? That makes no sense.”

“Well Starlight, think about it. We go to Greifstadt, right? There we find several giant hoofprints, a backpack covered in Fluttershy’s hoofprints and bits of her hair at the scene, right?”

Starlight nodded. “Um, yeah…but who’s to say she simply passed through the area, and forgot her stuff, maybe bolted when the monster came around.”

Hoofcuff’s expression suddenly changed from that of excitement to disappointment. “Oh…right. But still…it just seems too coincidental I mean, when we came up here, do either of us see a sign that said ‘Giant Monster Storage’?”

Starlight rolled his eyes and shook his head. “No, boss, no we didn’t.”

There was another pause between the two as Hoofcuff shook her head, a bewildered expression on her face.

“Um, boss…you know who might have an answer for you?” Starlight suddenly piped up. Hoofcuff groaned.

“Who Starlight? Celestia?”

“Um, no, I was thinking the General. He’s in that tent right over there, and that Snowball guy seemingly also wants to talk to him look.” He pointed towards the snow white pegasus who was trotting over to the General’s tent, a grim and determined look on his face.

“It’s Snowflake, Starlight. And what makes you think he would know anything about that monster? He seemed just as shocked to see it as we did.”

Starlight shrugged. “I don't know boss. You said a few days ago that you felt he was hiding something…and well…”

Hoofcuff looked at the tent across the way, the gears in her head turning again. She ran down a mental checklist of the General’s behavior before, especially back to their first proper debriefing.

“Would you happen to have any information regarding this fugitive’s life before she was hunted? Something like family members or an old home address?” she turned to face Iron Will, holding a hoof up to block the light of the projector from hitting her square in the face.

Iron Will was quiet for a moment. “You don’t need to know anything about that. Haven’t you seen enough? This mare is obviously a threat to the entire nation of Equestria. Now your job is to find her, wherever she is, and capture her, ALIVE and bring her back to Canterlot where we can then decide for a proper punishment for her crimes. Understand?” He snapped.

She nodded, taken somewhat aback by the General’s sudden showing of aggression. “Yes sir, I just like to have all the information I can get on a target before I set out for them. That way I can more accurately predict their next move.”

Iron Will scoffed. “You don’t need any of that for her. As I said, she is a sadistic killer and that is all.”

Hoofcuff suddenly stood up. “Oh yeah he’s hiding something…” she muttered before starting towards the tent across the way, leaving a somewhat confused Starlight calling after her.

“Hey boss! Where ya going?!”

“Going to talk to the General…be back soon!” Hoofcuff shouted over her shoulder.

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

Snowflake sat on a small cot, a unicorn nurse helping with the sprain in his wing.

“You know…you’re really lucky there Mr. Snowflake. A lesser pony probably would have broken their wing instead of just spraining it.”

Snowflake simply cast a dismissive glance at his wing, before returning to stare at the floor below. He had only one set of thoughts on his mind.

What the hell was that thing?

He ruminated over the thought, trying to come up with a logical explanation of some kind, but no matter how many times he ran it through his mind, it was always the same basic thought.

It was huge…

He thought back to the two tanks, and how they looked after the monster was through with them.

They were like toys…tiny little toys…it just threw them together like toys...what kind of power does that thing have?

His mind went over the scene. The monster had shown the most tremendous display of power and strength he had ever seen. It threw him, the most able bodied soldier in the entire Equestrian Military, against that wall like he was a rag doll. It had taken a missile impact without as much as a second thought. It took a .50 caliber round to the face and didn’t even blink. Snowflake simply couldn’t wrap his head around the sheer amount of power it had shown. It was like some angry god, attacking the ponies below as if they were insects.

But the one thing that did make sense to Snowflake was this: He wanted that power. He wanted it desperately. He had tasted it, and now he lusted after it. He wanted to be able to best this…creature with its own power. He was the best after all, the strongest, the fastest, the smartest. Then why, why did the universe see fit to give that wild animal that much power? Where was the justice in that? He had scraped his way from nothing to the absolute peak, and yet, there was always someone or something that would be ahead of him.

Not anymore.

He suddenly hopped off his cot and started for the General’s tent, which had been set up a couple of tents away. That mare was right. The General had been hiding something, the key to unlimited power, and Snowflake wasn’t about to let that slip through his fingers.

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

Iron Will sat in his makeshift office, quietly smoking a cigar. From the outside, one would have thought he was taking the destruction of an entire military grade prison and the loss of his target pretty well, as he showed veritably no real emotion.

However, if one were to look inside, they would find that he was in a seething caldron of rage and frustration. That damned mare had escaped again. And this time, she had managed to take out two tanks, and three entire units worth of troops. That monster had managed to make the prison building nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Suddenly, a snow white Pegasus barged into his tent. “General Iron Will, I don’t believe you’ve exactly been honest with me.”

Iron Will looked up and leaned back in his seat. “Agent Snowflake, what are you talking about?”

Snowflake shook his head. “You know exactly what I’m talking about sir. That thing.”

Before Iron Will had a chance to respond to the irate pegasus, a familiar slate grey unicorn mare with dark brown hair barged in as well, her face just as grim as the pegasus.

“General, I believe that you have some answers about all this.”

Iron Will held up a hand. “Calm yourselves. Whatever do you mean?”

The two ponies simply stared back at him, before sharing a confused look. The mare was the first to speak.

“General, what the buck do you think we’re talking about? That monster that appeared when Fluttershy escaped.”

“Oh you mean Fluttershy?”

The two ponies’ mouths dropped open. “What are you talking about?” the mare asked, her face now changing from angry to very, very confused.

Iron Will rolled his eyes. “Agent Hoofcuff, I apologize for the lack of clarity, but certain things are better kept under wraps. Simply put, Fluttershy and Flutterhulk are one and the same.”

Hoofcuff simply blinked, as Snowflake took a step forward. “General, I don’t believe either of us understand what you’re saying. I saw Fluttershy, there’s no way in Equestria that she can be that…‘Flutterhulk’ as you called it. I mean, she’s one tenth the size.”

Iron Will smiled. “Would you like me to explain?”

Yes we’d like you to bucking explain!” Hoofcuff shouted.

Iron Will stood up. “Well, Agent Hoofcuff, about twenty-five years ago, Equestria’s Government was attempting to recreate the serum that created Captain Equestria. Surely you know who that is?”

Hoofcuff nodded. “Yeah, that mare from the painting in your office. Why, what does that have to do with Fluttershy?”

Iron Will held up a figure. “I was getting to that. Among the many scientists the government employed during that time, was one Dr. Banner Wing. He hadn’t been told about the exact nature of the program, but he knew not to ask questions. He was able to craft a serum that enhanced strength, and he tested it out on his daughter…”

“Fluttershy?” Snowflake asked, seemingly connecting the dots. Iron Will nodded.

“Exactly. Now that’s when the details get a little sketchy, you see, apparently, Banner Wing had some kind of accident and Fluttershy disappeared for a few years. She finally resurfaced as a student at Manehattan University, where something happened, we’re not sure what, and now here we are.”

Hoofcuff shook her head, and turned out of the tent, muttering something about this being completely insane. Snowflake on the other hand, seemed intrigued.

“Um, General…do you still happen to have some left over bits of that serum Dr. Wing created?”

Iron Will smiled. “Why of course, we confiscated it upon his most unfortunate death. Why do you ask?”

Snowflake shifted on his hooves. “Because, well…it enhances strength right?”

Iron Will nodded. “Yes…yes it does.” He could sense that Snowflake wanted something. “Why do you ask?”

Snowflake shifted again. “Um, well sir, it just seems that…how do I put this…it’s just that…that thing, it had so much power…” Iron Will could see that Snowflake’s took on a strange obsessive look, almost as if he were looking at solid gold.

“Yes…yes it did.” Iron Will said, walking over towards Snowflake. “Don’t you wish we could harness that power? Use it for the good of Equestria?”

Snowflake nodded. “Yes sir I do. I mean…it was amazing…to see those tanks…”

Iron Will put a hand on Snowflake’s shoulder. “My friend, I have that power. And it can be yours…for a price.”

Snowflake looked at Iron Will. “What price?”

“All you need to do is promise to help us find her again, and this time, take no prisoners. What do you say?”

Snowflake visibly hesitated. Iron Will leaned in close. “You don’t want to fail your country do you?” he whispered, knowing that those words would get the exact reaction he wanted out of the Pegasus.

“No. No sir I do not.” Snowflake finally said, tightening his jaw.

“Good. Then let’s get that for you why don’t we?”

And with that, the two walked out of the tent.

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

Fluttershy sat inside the mysterious zebra’s forest home. The zebra had been kind enough to provide Fluttershy with a place to sit, a warm coat for her to wrap herself in, and, most thankfully, new horseshoes. The zebra now busied herself over a large, boiling pot, where various strange smells and vapors emanated from.

The zebra suddenly turned, holding a bowl in her hooves. She set it down next to Fluttershy’s injured leg.

“Now my young, little friend, this concoction shall make your pain end.” The zebra said as she rubbed some dark green balm over the wound, causing a vague icy feeling to course through Fluttershy’s leg. The icy feeling faded and was replaced by a pleasant warm sensation as the zebra then applied a large bandage to the area.

“Slight discomfort is what you feel, but with this brew your leg with heal.” The zebra said, smiling.

Fluttershy tentatively moved the injured leg. Sure enough, there was no more pain in the area, almost as if there was never a bite there in the first place.

“Thank you so very much,” Fluttershy said quietly. “I really think I should go now though.” She tried to get up, but her bandaged leg suddenly gave way. The zebra caught her, and helped her sit back down.

“The balm may have stopped the pain, that is fact, but it still requires time to act. To fully heal that bite from the beast, you shouldn’t walk on that leg for a few days at least.”

Fluttershy let out a heavy sigh, her eyes drifting towards the door. She didn’t want to be here. It was a strange place, with creepy masks adorning the walls and dozens of vials and bottles filled with liquids that Fluttershy couldn’t recognize.

The whole place reminded her of a witch’s cottage or something from a fairy tale. She half expected that the bubbling cauldron over the fire might have been used to roast fillies or some other horrible deed.

She looked back at the zebra, who was now sitting across from her, smiling kindly. Suddenly the zebra spoke.

“Oh, such poor manners on my part. Let me our introductions restart. From Zebrica, Zecora is my name and it is a title I am proud to proclaim.” She extended a hoof once more in greeting. Fluttershy shook the hoof slowly.

“Okay…” she hid behind her mane as a reflex.

There was a long pause between the two as Fluttershy twiddled her hooves. Just play it cool Fluttershy, she thought, Most likely this zebra has absolutely no idea who you are and what you’ve done so you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

The zebra unexpectedly broke the silence.

“Something is troubling you, of that I am sure. What troubles have you been forced to endure?”

Fluttershy looked up. “Huh?” she finally got a chance to get a good look at the zebra’s face. She seemed about middle aged, maybe forty, yet still looking very fit. Her eyes were a dark green and seemed to show wisdom beyond her years, as if they had seen everything the world had to offer.

“Um…well….it’s nothing really…” Fluttershy finally replied, looking back down at the floor.

The zebra shook her head. “Something is deep inside you. It is why you are feeling blue. Something you claim to be evil. Something that causes your life upheaval.”

Fluttershy bit her lip. Busted.

“Um…no I’m not hiding anything…” Fluttershy said, hoping to end the zebra’s sudden interrogation.

“What you say not true, as I sense great fear in you.”

Fluttershy didn’t say anything, only hiding behind her mane again. Did this zebra have some kind of psychic powers or something? How was she able to know this?

“No I’m not…” Fluttershy replied, hoping that the zebra’s strange powers didn’t somehow encompass spotting a liar.

“Lies to me are your attempts to persuade. Why are you so afraid? Is it because of a wrong you have committed? The horrors you allowed to become permitted?”

Fluttershy turned to look at the zebra, tears starting to well up in her eyes.

“Why should I tell you? How do I know you’re not just going to call the police like everypony else has?”

The zebra leaned back, crossing her forelegs. “Ah, so you have done something wrong. Take heart, my little friend. I could see your goodness all along. Your plea is something that I comprehend."

Fluttershy sighed heavily and stared at the floor. All the various aches and pains she had been ignoring suddenly decided to make themselves known again, reminding her of her battered and bedraggled state. She was exhausted with all this lying and running. Every lie she told just amounted to another heavy burden she would have to carry. She just wanted peace.

“Promise not tell anypony?”

The zebra nodded. “Be not afraid, gentle one. Your time spent here shall be known to none.”

Fluttershy took a deep breath, and took the plunge. “When…when I get angry I hurt ponies. And I don’t want to hurt ponies, but it always happens, no matter what I do to try and stop it.” Tears started to make their way down her cheeks.

The zebra leaned forward and gently put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “You seem to mistrust the path of ire, that it is something you do not desire”

Fluttershy looked up. “What do you mean? Isn’t it bad?”

The zebra shook her head. “Anger can be something a pony can admire. Don’t believe me, take a look at the fire..” She pointed towards the fireplace. “Leaving anger bottled, and it will explode. It will cause all things around it to slowly erode.” She demonstrated her words by dropping a piece of cloth into the fire. “But if the flames are under restrain, then warmth and beauty shall one attain.”

Fluttershy looked at the fire. “But you have no idea what it’s like…to be alone like I am…without anypony to talk to…” she started to sob.

“That statement is untrue. A lot in common I have with you.” The zebra suddenly spoke. Fluttershy stopped mid sob and turned to look at the zebra, her eyes now puffy from her tears.

“What?”

The zebra nodded. “I do know how it is to be alone. My family and friends, out of my home I was thrown.” The zebra turned and looked out the window, a distant look in her eyes. “Cast out of my homeland. I know loneliness firsthand.” She let out a sigh and turned back towards Fluttershy. “But my time here has been well spent. Bettering myself here, I am content.”

There was a long silence between the two as Fluttershy thought about what the zebra had said. Her curiosity got the better of her and she spoke up, her voice quiet.

“Um, what happened?” she asked, hoping that this wouldn't offend the zebra. The zebra sighed once more.

“I acted foolish and rash. It caused me and my people to clash. I was banished destined to roam, until I found a new place to call my home.” There was another pause between the two, which was interrupted by a rumbling in Fluttershy's belly.

“I see that hunger has found you tonight,” the zebra chuckled, standing up and walking over to a pot that was bubbling over a small makeshift stove. She grabbed a ladle in her mouth and poured two small bowls of something that Fluttershy hoped was soup. She then put the bowls on a small makeshift table and motioned for Fluttershy to sit.

“Come my friend, and have a quick bite.”

Fluttershy hesitated. Her stomach once more sounded its protests. She hadn't had a full meal in at least two days and her body knew it.

No use saying no...she hasn't sold you out yet, so why say no? Better than starving to death right? She thought.

“Um...okay then.” She finally said, quietly sitting at the table. “Thank you.”

The zebra nodded. “Your thanks is well received. I hope the food becomes just what you need.”

Fluttershy smiled and finally relaxed, inhaling the rich aroma of the soup. Warm memories of the dinners her mother would cook came flooding back, bringing a tear to her eyes. She picked up the spoon that Zecora had provided and began to eat, deeply savoring the rich flavors and taste.

After awhile, they each had finished their bowls and night had fallen. Zecora motioned towards a large cushion with some pillows and a simple cover.

“I insist you not sleep on the floor. Take my bed tonight, so your leg will not be sore.” Zecora said.

“Oh no, you really shouldn't. I'll be fine sleeping anywhere really. I wouldn't want to take yours...” Fluttershy replied, shaking her head.

“My dear friend, take heart. You’ll need your rest to make a fresh start. I insist take my bed. It is no trouble so go right ahead.” She turned towards a large pile of stuff and rummaged through it, pulling out what Fluttershy assumed was a rather weathered old hammock. Zecora then proceeded to hang the hammock from the roof of the hollowed out tree and plopped inside, letting a long yawn.

“I wish you a pleasant rest. And may the road ahead be equally blessed.” and with that, the zebra fell asleep.

Fluttershy sighed. “Goodnight...” she whispered back, more out of habit than anything else, as she settled on the makeshift bed, watching as the embers of the fire died away, leaving her in the dark.

Her eyelids grew heavy and she finally surrendered to exhaustion, worn out after the long day, entering the dark labyrinth of her memories and dreams.

Author's Note:

Chapter title from the song "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles

And here you are! Another short, yet hopefully meaty chapter. I hope you enjoy it all.

And once, more I have to say thanks to my poets, Spideremblembrony, Dave Man 1000 and FloydianSlip. In the end I used Spideremblembrony's rhymes, but I'm thankful for everyone's efforts.

And if you're a real Marvel Nerd, you probably already know what I have planned for Zecora.

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