• Published 27th Jan 2012
  • 17,488 Views, 350 Comments

Well, This is New... - Dumbgamer99

An ancient human who has taken it upon himself to maintain balance throughout dimensions becomes ensnared in the realm of Equestria, with nothing to help him combat the struggle on the horizon except for his god-like alien tech, the Universal Editor.

  • ...

Chapter One: Wrong Turn At Albuquerque

Chapter One: Wrong Turn at Albuquerque

[Author's Notes: I appreciate any constructive criticism (no matter how harsh it may be). Be aware of these possible notes at the beginning and end of some future chapters, for they’ll usually be asking for favours/suggestions/other things of the sort.]

Location Unavailable

Time: Unknown

'Dammit, I really messed up this time. Way to go, Storm... dumbass.'

My mouth creased into an exasperated frown. The consideration of me being too hard on myself idly appeared in my mind, only for a passing bullet a hair's breadth from my eyes whizzed by to affirm that I royally screwed up.

The small booth that I was using for cover splintered from its left side, the result of another stray projectile. I cursed in frustration and peeked out of my spot to see the guns across the meeting room trained on me. Pulling back just in the nick of time would be an understatement as the volley of bullets passed my vision.

Ah, I digress. Allow me to explain my predicament, from the beginning...

Memory Archive Triggered.
Authorized Flashback Initiated.
Accessing File: 89IRDA42.0603.YT.4STRM68

My legs ached lightly as I ascended the stairway to the natives’ primary government building. Truly, I didn't understand the nature of the Irida, and why they decided to have their meeting rooms at the highest points they could. The watch towers, spires of wooden support beams that would rival the tallest trees in their accompanying jungle, paled desperately in comparison to the pyramid-esque structure I was climbing. And could they have at least made one their capital city outside of the jungle? The understanding was sort of there (they're large sentient reptiles, so one could guess it must be natural), but the creatures that I had dealt with outside the stone-brick walls were overtly dangerous to the point of being comical.

Of course, I wouldn't have had to bother with the beasts if the Irida had better weaponry beyond spears and claws. I hoped at the time that the shipments of firearms I had brought would help alleviate that issue for later generations. The firearms had a second purpose, of course, and that was to allow me to interfere with the struggle of the clans that had been occurring during my arrival.

Apparently, an ongoing issue amongst their people was with dwindling resources, starting some five years ago. It was a planet-wide dilemma, and the only areas that had major deposits still were watched by their tribe's capitals. One particular area, The Dreshdae Fields, held a surprisingly large amount of livestock and was bordered by two approaching tribes. The population of one of the more edible beasts was similar to buffalo back in the Great Plains of America in the eighteen-thirties.

As such, there was obviously going to be dispute. The two clans who had been warring over it were the Sheykrac, and the Argonians (yes, like in the Elder Scrolls; I had a nice chuckle about it in private at Fate's irony). Now, normally I could care less about aliens throwing themselves against each other. However, if I didn't intervene in this particular conflict, this would interrupt the Scales of this world.

And since the Scales are a fickle thing that shift regularly, and enjoy being sensitive to the balance between Law and Chaos (and not to mention seems to cause way too many problems to just ignore); I had to step in. The firearms were part of the deal to allow an 'outsider' to meddle in the affairs of their people. I didn't mind; those weapons were just sitting around in one of my spare warehouses I had in one of my secured Universes I Balanced a long time ago.

Besides, the Irida couldn't do too much with Remingtons and Peacemakers, and those Rankras were pretty damn difficult to kill if you didn't have the right tools. They were similar to bison, only a lot larger and with very sharp teeth. Good for rending flesh, and crushing your bones just by stepping lightly on you.

The sound of a throat being cleared had brought me out of my thinking of the horrid monsters to realize I had reached the peak and was now standing in front of two guards. They had been given meager training with their new toys, which the clans demanded up-front in a surprisingly polite way (for a warring species) than you'd expect, but I wasn't about to test and see if their accuracy was any good.

"Considering you could properly determine their arc of fire and dodge said accurate projectiles, that is."

I rolled my eyes at Ed's remark. The English bastard always liked giving comments, and he enjoyed jokingly pretending I still didn't know what I was doing after so long. 'Says the triple-A.I.'

"I wasn't deemed an 'Augmented Advanced Artificial Intelligence' for nothing, Storm," Ed stated in an almost posh and proud manner that reverberated inside my brain cavity. "I know things. Lots of things. And while you may have a solid amount of years, many of those years had plenty of failures due to you not keeping everything in check. Behavior and attitude including," he finished with a hint of smugness.

Snorting, I addressed the increasingly-irritated Irida in their tongue. "You'll be escorting me to the meeting room for the peace treaty, yes?" My face scrunched up for a brief second. At least, that was what I had been attempting to say. The learning curve of speaking the dialect was annoying, to say the least. A bunch of throaty growls in different pitches was kinda hard to do.

"This way, outsider," one of the guards stated in my direction as he turned and began speaking with the ones who manned the door.

Built-in language translator. Gotta love ‘em. Even though they aren’t always reliable.

The guards inside merely nodded as they opened the door to the innards of the building. They motioned for me to follow, and proceeded into the depths of the structure. Rolling my shoulders and mentally prepping phrases for the diplomatic event approaching, I strolled in.

The inside was the same as the outside. All stone, most being of a yellowed variety. Some pieces intermingled with both grey and possibly white marble as they formed not only this building, but the other surrounding abodes as well. Torches lined the wall, and scrawled claw marks on a wooden board provided the only sense of direction (and to an otherworlder like me, it was vague at best).

I attempted to transcribe the marks. From what little I could understand from their written language, the leftmost passage (which was where I was going), read "War Room". The ironic naming of where we were going, and my goals, surfaced. I then immediately put those thoughts inside a box, put that box within another metaphorical box, and watched with my mind’s eye as Ed gladly slammed a virtual hammer on said metaphorical box-within-a-box to stop the--

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a random tangent, didn't I? I am a rather old coot, so I'm allowed to have those from time to time. I still may had been rocking my refined nineteen-year-old body, so perhaps you couldn't guess my age from sight alone, but I had lived a lot more years than any ethereal beings you may know.

My thoughts once again tried to organize themselves as I traveled down the escorted hallway. This diplomatic mission ahead of me was going to be more dangerous and annoying than the last one I had led, so I had to pool whatever I could to help me in fixing this mess and keeping the Scales in balance.

There was, unfortunately, a good and bad side to this situation. The bad was that I didn't have much to work with, and without vast amounts of concrete evidence, hopes for achieving peace was minimal at best. Luckily though, I had a few aces up my sleeve I could use to my advantage.

Retrieved artifacts, hidden cross-tribe relationships, schematics to divvy up the land... all I could use to persuade them to cease fighting and share the huge expanse of terrain. The only major thing that was in my way was the intense feud between Tet-Urn (the head of the Sheykrac clan), and the chieftain of the Argonians, Meer.

Since I donned the title 'Outsider', I wasn't allowed much info on what happened between the two. One of them killed the other's family, or something. What I had been given was garbled from the mouth of a drunken soldier when I had stopped in one of the local watering holes.

Fun fact: Watering holes, bars, taverns, inns, and local high schools are all good places to go for information on the local area. The more you know, ya know?

Another poorly faked cough forced me to turn my head to the right. The large wooden door bound together by toughened moss stood, with the scrawl on it proudly displaying "War Room". Walking in, it wasn't much to look at. Even for primitive reptilian bipeds. You know what? By looking at it, it was barely anything more than one lengthy table and a booth that sat at the end.

Pieces of hides tanned into maps were hung from the walls, and I noted some of them to be military maneuvers I recommended. At the time, I didn't know why they were there, though. I had been given the impression that it was neutral territory, a city agreed that no one tribe controlled singularly. The drawings seemed far more archaic, which more closely resembled the Sheykrac style.

Briefly looking up, I noted the odd iron wrought chandelier that was suspended above the table, providing additional illumination to the room alongside the wall-mounted torches. They flickered due to the light draft that plagued the room and building in general. 'An almost medieval feel,' my mind quipped.

Another thing that had caught my eye was the number of Irida Counselors. Every seat at the table save two had been filled with representatives of the two tribes. Confusion was etched onto my face, no doubt, but I quickly shook it off and walked towards my booth. At least, that's what I was assuming was my booth. If the plaque on the stand was meant for someone else who could be classified as (how it so blatantly described) a 'bald-ape', then I don't know who it had been for.

Once I was positioned, I took note of everything in the room. It was an old habit I had developed from paranoia and the simple fact that recognizing your surroundings helped prevent Death from dancing a jig on your grave. Ignoring the plans that were haphazardly posted to the sides of the cave-esque room, there were two exits. One where I had came in, and one to my left. Five guards were positioned in the room, with one standing at the leftmost door. Two were in the corners opposite of me, and the other two seemed to be the ones scheduled to bar the main door with their persons.

I then noticed something, disturbing. Every representative in the room had a pistol on them. It wasn't as well-hidden as they presumed due to the odd structure of their armour, but I could definitely make out the shape and barrel on certain bodies. 'Why did they bring weapons in here for a peace treaty signing...? Furthermore, why even have the guards?'

"Do note that currently neither tribe trusts the other," Ed muttered as he scanned the tension in the air. "They haven't shot each other yet because of ancient laws guarding this neutral city, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't if they were provoked. And knowing how heated politics can get, this could be a sticky situation to escape from should it not fall into our favour."

'Hmm, yes. I suppose I need to tread carefully with what I say?'

"Considering your rank Mr. Outsider, I think that's a smart move."

Nodding at Ed's final statement, I began tapping a slow, steady beat.



I frowned at the appendage for not appeasing my boredom, and decided now was a good of a time as any to prep my tools needed for this meeting. My hand emitted a pale blue as I subconsciously pulled out certain items I had stored in one of my distant warehouses.

'Let's see... take the ancient tribal spear used by one of their supposed gods. Take four reports of successful relationships business-wise of Sheykrac-Argonian transactions. And finally, take the blueprints to begin corralling and dividing the Dreshdae Fields.'

All I had needed sat under me on shelves near my knees. The top of my podium was bare, which I quickly rectified by slapping down the blueprints. Some Irida turned towards my way, and one even tried squinting at my paper, before all interest was lost once again. Rolling my shoulders, I waited.

Luckily, I had ended up not having to wait that long. A short knock on the main doors alerted the mini-force and they promptly opened. In walked two garbed Irida, divided by two of the local neutral military force of the city. The left wore ceremonial battle armour, laced with slashes and burn marks. The right wore a long, flowing robe made out of crimson linen.

Nodding respectively to Tet-Urn and Meer, I waited for them to sit down on their sides lined with their representatives. Both seemed to carry about a mask of serenity, yet their thoughts betrayed them. It didn't even require words for my heightened senses to feel the emotions boiling under those false guises willing to work together.

Obviously, this looked like things would be difficult. As they usually were.

A few brief moments passed in some awkward silence as I flattened out the blueprints and addressed the Irida council. "Greetings, Counselors." No response met me, but I chose to let it go. "Today, we are negotiating the dividing of the Dreshdae Plains and to provide a profitable and agreeable outcome to both parties. This meeting will also be doubling as a peace treaty signing, which will be discussed later-"

"Get on with your plans, Outsider," Tet-Urn cut off harshly. Muttered words of protests threatened to rise from the other side, but they were silenced. My brows furrowed slightly at him, which in turn caused me to address Meer first out of minor spite. 'Be a dick to me, will he...'

"You say the Argonian tribe sighted the Plains first, yes?"

He nodded respectfully. "Some of my scouts detected the land several days before Sheykrac." Filing away the fact, Tet let out an derisive snort. Predicting the oncoming statement, Meer continued. "We have documentation, if you wish to view it, Godsent."

This caused me to frown. Meer (unlike all the other Irida), had taken to calling me this name due to my power. Whether he did it because he believed calling me 'Outsider' would insult me and bring about my wraith, or not, wasn't a large concern for me. Several times I tried to correct him, but he seemed adamant about the choice to flaunt my power. I eventually gave up. "The report in written form would help speed things along nicely," I stated politely as Tet let out another snort.

"We also have reports, from several days before the Argonians," he growled as he motioned to the one by his right. Meer did a similar motion, and soon the two representatives had stone tablets in claw as they walked to my podium. The Sheykrac member merely dumped it on my stand and returned to his seat, while the Argonian did a slight bow and handed the tablet to me.

Truly, I didn't know which annoyed me more.

Trying to shake it off, I examined the two tablets side-to-side. Now, I wasn't a huge expert on how the Irida wrote, and their written dialects, but by judging the age of the scratches; the two inscriptions most likely made on the same day. Which meant both of them were lying on purpose, or it was a huge coincidence and everything could end up being hunky-dory.

A sigh nearly rose out of me, then. If only politics were that easy.

Looking up just slightly to address the room, I noticed that the Irida were looking at me intently. "You say that both of your tribes sighted the fields before the other, yes?" My question was instantly answered with a simultaneous nod from them. Letting out a short grunt, I raised both tablets and turned them to face the group. "The writings here are both aged to a certain degree. Meaning, that these were both made on the same day."

A brief silence seized hold of the room. I closely monitored the facial expressions and mental signatures being emitted by the representatives of the Irida. Some were confused, some annoyed, some not even surprised... but interesting enough, some were afraid. These were Meer, Tet-Urn, and the Irida posted to their immediate rights.

I called them out on it in a quiet, smooth voice. I had been complimented once on this tone several thousand millenniums beforehand; they said it reminded them of a serpent waiting to strike. "Why does it bring horror, rather than puzzlement or irritation?" They instantly adapted 'poker faces', and the inner readings they were emanating were clouded as they desperately attempted to hide away their show of emotion. Tense moments passed as I bored holes at them. "Well?"

Meer tentatively spoke up, his growls taking on a softer tone. "We assure you that we had arrived there first, Godsent-"

"Lies!" Tet-Urn shouted, standing up ferociously and baring his fangs. "My tribe was there first!"

The uneasy demeanor of Meer dropped instantly as he returned the look and gesture the Sheykrac gave him. I was really hoping he wouldn't do that. "Silence, you blood-thirsty deceiver! Your members strive for nothing but to advance your own selfish gains, and steal from those who had given rights!"

As I kept my eyes on the two of them, I sensed weapons being drawn. In my peripherals, several Irida were slowly drawing their pistols, while the Guards began loading their rifles as they watched the two leaders clash verbally against one another. Their throaty growls and snarls only intensified with each passing moment.

'This is not going well...'

"You need to stop them before things get out of hand."

'Right.' I slammed my fist down on the table as an improvised gavel, speaking in an authoritative voice while trying my best not to unleash some degree of thu'um by shouting. "Both of you, knock it off!"

My annoyed command was promptly ignored as Tet-Urn leaned in towards Meer. "It is not my tribes’ problem that you cannot provide for your own," he mocked with a sneer. My eyes widened at the insult. That was one of the worst things to say to an Irida. That they couldn't make sure that their people under their guidance be cared for. The Irida were a very proud race, in that respect.

And it didn't go unnoticed by Meer as he drew his pistol.

This provoked an immediate response, as all pistols and rifles rose and pointed at their polar opposites. Anger flowed through me, and as the triggers were pulled, my hand instinctively swiped to the side. The bullets all briefly left their muzzles and slowed to a standstill, before vanishing in thin air. Looking at my handiwork, I spoke in an aggravated tone.

"That is enough," I grumbled as I glanced at the look of surprise on the mortal's faces. "I will not have you disrupting the Scales with your petty conflict any longer. Your arguing achieves nothing, yet you continue to do it. Peace must be restored between your two tribes, and until we have this, no one shall leave. Holster your weapons, and quit acting like inbred morons!"

As my words echoed across the War Room, silence took hold. No words were spoken, no one breathed; it was literally still. Static, and unmoving. But Time had not ceased flowing. For both Meer and Tet-Urn shared a terse glance with one another and nodded, before promptly turning back at me with determination in their eyes.

This caused me to smile. 'Ah, good. They're willing to cooperate--'

Before my sentence could finish, my reflexes and instinct combined into one and I soon found myself behind the booth, with the sound of several bullets ringing off behind me. Taking a furtive peek, it was exactly where my head would've been if I hadn't avoided it.

"You dare to insult us, Outsider?!" I heard Tet growled as the faint sounds of weapons being re-cocked filled the air. "We'll teach you not to imply we perform that act of heresy! Kill him!" And like that, bullets began violently striking my small barrier. Meanwhile, my mind was abuzz with what in the blue hell was going on.

'Ed. What just happened?!'

I heard nervous chuckling coming from within as he spoke. Ed being nervous was never a good sign. Ever. "Funny thing that... the Language Matrix that the Editor uses to interpret and assist you in speaking different languages had, well... a minor glitch."

'Define minor.'

"Well... your words came out so in a particular way, where they believe you accused them of incest, rather than them acting like it."

There was a brief silence as I mulled that over, before the two pieces connected and I face-palmed behind my still-being-barraged defense. Irida took incest as a very serious crime, so combining this with the glitch, and I had just pissed off the two most vital groups on this planet, and buggered up any chance not only for them to get peace, but for me to possibly get outta this alive.

'Dammit, I really messed up this time. Way to go Storm... dumbass.'

End Recording. Fast-Forwarding Memory, To A More Recent One...

Adrenaline surged through me as I attempted to calculate a way out of this mess. There was no way I could balance the Scales now, which basically meant it was time for me to ditch this universe and go on with the next. Keeping the Scales in check across all Universes was important, but it wasn't worth dying over on some backwater reality. The only problem with that, is due to Fate and its damnable circumstances, I had stressed the Editor in those recent years to the point where it was in the final stages of its Stasis.

Which meant, any higher level functions--like trans-dimensional warps, for example--could not be done.

And what I had on me was quite little. I had a spare 6" knife I plucked from some unlucky son-of-a-bitch earlier in the day when the scaly shit tried to pick a fight with me, my Hidden Blade I kept on my person since my dealings with the Assassin Brotherhood, and the Ancient Spear that laid on its side next to me, parallel to the podium.

My ears perked up to the faint sound of claws clicking off against the cobblestone floor in approach, as well as the lull of firing. It was obvious that soon I'd be a dead man if I didn't come up with a hair-brain scheme to wiggle my way to safety. Unless...

An idea came to me. A stupid one, sure... but it was the only one I had. It was going to be a close call, and I was expecting to get out with nothing less than a bullet wound. Tensing up, my fists automatically flexed themselves. A nervous tic, I admit. When I felt that the curious guard was close enough, I enacted my plan and began.

I flung myself up and out of my cover, positioning myself so I stood right in front of the oncoming warrior. Using my left hand, I swatted the ascending pistol coming to shoot me, and stepped in so our bodies were touching. Meanwhile, my right hand went down and fished out the stolen knife I acquired some days prior.

Since this action was done so fast, the other Iridans in the room instantly fired upon seeing me. I was simply glad I was smart enough to use the guard as my unsuspecting meat-shield, causing them to let loose a volley that would've killed me on the spot. Therefore, I didn't waste much time.

Hoping for the best, I spun the short blade in my band so I held it by its tip. Making sure my aim would be true, I chucked the tool right into its intended target; the hook holding the iron-wrought chandelier I noticed on my way into the War Room. I didn't keep my eyes on it, for my new goal was to grab the now-deceased guard and use him one last time.

Another barrage was sent my way, but again the corpse I had dragged along with me for three steps gave me one last cover. But it was all I had needed, because my stolen weapon did its job and struck the hook keeping the centerpiece suspended. The chain supporting the mass broke, and down the chandelier went into the middle of the counselor's table. The flames that were being toted by the metalwork fell off their tiny altars, and were flung in random directions.

At this point, I was rushing for the side-door and the Irida guard standing in my way. I wouldn't have to worry about the others, for my brief distraction would keep them busy. Not even considering pausing, I revealed my Hidden Blade which caught the poor sap of a guard, off-guard. Before he could hope to shoot me, I collided into him and sent both of us through the barred door with my blade impaled into his heart.

(Approximately twenty-five seconds later...)

As I heard the feral roars and snarls behind me, I sprinted down the corridor that the side-door had led to. The inner workings of the construct were similar to a maze, which forced me to constantly change directions and throw caution to the wind. They had simply been too close behind me, and gave me no real chance to just duck into an alcove and hide. My shadow flickered over the walls as I passed torches at high speeds, trying to find my way out.

"Dammit, Storm! Why did you have to insult them?!"

'It's not my fault the Language Matrix had a glitch! Don't start trying to blame me, Ed!'

"We need to get outta here. Your stress level is rising drastically, and I can't teleport us out until we get out of the 'hot zone', as it were."

I nodded, and circled around another corner. Only to skid to a halt at the three Irida soldiers immediately in front of me. They turned towards me, fangs bared and hisses emitting from their maws as they raised their weapons. My honed reflexes kicked in as I ducked under the bullets and shot my hand outward, unleashing a pulse of kinetic energy. They flew black in response, and I barreled past their downed selves as I fled.

But it was too late. The other guards had heard the shots, and they closed in on my position with increased frevor. I weaved past portholes and open doorways in the inner walls in order to dodge their volleys, and I noticed that soon I was on a familiar path. Where I was rampaging led towards what I believed was the west side of the structure, which faced the town below-


The bullet grazed my head and leaving a stinging echo in its wake, causing me to curse and locate the marksmen. He wasn't far, maybe twenty feet away shouldering a Remington behind some crates. Ducking into an adjacent doorway and dodging another projectile, I was annoyed that I had appeared in a large amphitheater of sorts, with several very pissed-off Irida residing within. And they already had their weapons raised.

Without pausing, I turned sharply to the left, running parallel to the group. My goal was the weapons rack that sat reclining against the wall on the opposite side of the room. If I had tried to Spawn in a weapon during this situation with the Stasis on its last legs, it wouldn't exactly accomplish anything. The Irida seemed to notice it as well, for they began redirecting themselves closer to the rack as their shots rang out in front of me.

To them, I'm sure I looked like a phantom blurring his way past the path of the bullets. In actuality, I was using Focus to perceive the metal pieces and dodge them with ease. Slow-motion for me, regular speed for them. Dive rolls, cartwheels, front flips; you name it, I did it to make progress towards the weaponry. 'Thank you, Morpheus and Neo.'

It wasn't heavily stocked, the rack. Some spears, a blade or two, and a singular shield. My goal was to get one of each. On my back still hung the Ancient Spear I used to strike fear into the hearts of Meer and Tet-Urn. Perhaps that's why they were aiming in front of me; not to have better accuracy, but to have a greater chance to not hit their ceremonial artifact.

It wasn't long before I made it, and snagging the shield I was quick to fling it similar to a Frisbee. It was a common move I did with all things circular, mainly because it looked absolutely badass and was quite efficient. Its success was proven as it knocked away a multitude of the firearms from their claws, and returning it its point of origin on the rack. Grabbing a spear in my right hand, I quickly reared back and launched it.

Its penetration through three simultaneous soldiers was an interesting highlight, to say the least. As the conga line went in reverse, I snagged what I identified as a revised version of a Mooltan Calvary sword and twirled it expertly in my right hand while reacquiring the shield.

I stared down the five unarmed Irida that rushed me.

They fanned out similar to a crescent, a formation I was quite familiar in decimating. The one to my farthest right came at me, claws extended and sharpened enough to rend my flesh. I was quick to parry the sloppy right swing with the sharper edge of the blade, and slammed the face of the shield mounted on my left arm into his chest. He toppled backwards slightly, but it didn't stop me from bringing the blade downwards on an angle where his neck connected to his torso.

It sliced through halfway, guaranteeing its life would not be long. My instincts kicked in as I heard the leftmost Irida flank me from behind. Moving with grace, I ducked and turned clockwise on a knee. The sword left its meaty sheathe, and entered another horizontally at the ribs. It flowed through the warrior with minimal resistance, leaving three discouraged beasts to fight me.

In anger, one charged me with little regard for his own health. On all fours, he quickly closed the distance. But I was faster. I did a light side-hop and brought my shield downwards, hitting the Irida in the back on its skull on its way past and driving the deformed lizard into the ground below me. I was quick to stab where the spine connected to the neck before any of them could properly understand what had just occurred.

Pulling out my blade, the two had re-positioned themselves to be opposite sides of me. My eyes flicked back and forth between the two as I stood in the center. Instantly, they both came at me simultaneously. 'So, these neutral warriors examined my tactic scripts...'

Once more I trusted and surrendered myself to the guiding hand of my instincts. I disarmed my shield and tossed it so its face interrupted the right attacker. Turning to the left, I stepped in and began my combo. First was a upper left diagonal, which the warrior barely deflected with its claws making a bear trap-like formation. I quickly capitalized on its exposed side, doing the same diagonal motion on its right. The same parry was done, but it was worth it. In a twirl, I spun counter-clockwise and ripped through the chest in the same direction as the first.

But during my spin, I saw the other approaching me, claws raised and body no long impeded by the shield. A cocky side of me emerged, and with it I spun the blade so its edge faced away towards my opponent. I crouched lightly, and drove my sword upwards into the chin of the creature. It pierced its brain, killing it instantaneously.

Probably the most remarkable thing about that entire sequence, was that it started and finished in under a few seconds.

Removing my acquired weapon, the final body collapsed to the ground. I cringed lightly and comically at the blood-soaked corpses that littered my feet (despite being in this situation countless times before, it never seemed to get old) as I replaced my shield that was left forgotten a short distance away from me. Noting the other door, and the sound of other pursuers arriving, I made my way through the opposite passage.

Once again, I was on the move. In retrospect, the smart idea would've been to snag one of the disarmed pistols for later use, but then again I hadn't been too smart to start with ever since I arrived and encountered the Irida (I blame old age). The corridors echoed with shrill growls as the insulted Irida continued to chase and hunt me down. Ed had remained quiet, most likely keeping his attention to my vitals, maneuvers, and my Stress.

And, as if things weren’t bad enough, I could already feel my Stress spiking radically. I felt its hold ease and strengthen periodically, making small opportunities to perform higher functions difficult to estimate. 'Why did it have to be my stress that governed the Editor's power level and ability?'

"Because," Ed mumbled suddenly. "it's just how the technology was designed. Now stop worrying about that, and put that worry towards getting out of here alive."

I growled in affirmation as I kept running through the halls. My dark-grey tunic was splattered with blood, alongside my tanned pants. At least it wasn't a large amount, if my occasional look-down was anything to go off of. Meanwhile, I was mentally reprimanding myself for not getting the layout of the structure before factoring in something to fuck things up.

As I turned a corner, I skidded to a stop once more. Not because of enemy forces, but because the window on the left wall showed the steps I had traversed coming up here. Which meant, I was directly above the entrance! All I had to do was go straight down, maybe shimmy a little, and--

"Kill the Godsend," I heard Meer shout as Irida from all three groups (Argonians, Sheykracs, and Neutrals) formed on my position, forcing me to turn my back so it faced the window. Now I had enemies on my left, right, and front. My blade and shield were still drawn, and I was more than prepared for killing them to get out of this.

That is, until I realized there were thirty guns pointing at me, and very little space or moves I could do to dodge them. I cursed silently as my Stress increased, temporarily giving me a guarantee I couldn't access much higher powers at my current level.

"Don't move, or you will die," Tet-Urn warned from my right as his force stood armed. Meer had his force to the left, and the neutral Irida barred passage directly in front of me. Already though, I was formulating an escape strategy. The window was a few feet away, and the small indent that the window resided it was only perhaps five feet wide. Hmm... I wonder-

"Human. Drop your weapons, and we'll consider not ending you..." I glanced at the voice in front of me, and was surprised to see that it was a familiar face. During my working with the Neutral faction here, I had come to have several conversations about warfare with the one before me I nicknamed 'Scars'. The reasoning for that should be obvious.

"Scars! Look, let me explain-"

He abruptly cut me off with an angered expression. which mixed horribly well with the blood-red scars that plagued his scaly visage. "No, you may not. You insulted not only the tribes of Argonian and Sheykrac, but you insulted the race of Irida as a whole! I order you, to drop. Your. Weapons."

Sighing, I tossed the sword behind me alongside the shield. I noticed that they bounced right into a reclining position under the window, and as did the Irida looked at me with just a smidgen of awe. It seemed a bit of Editor mumbo-jumbo had rubbed off on the tools. Removing the artifact from my back, I watched as they became far more alert when I unsheathed it.

I shrugged, and was prepared to toss it behind me as well, before Scars cut me off. "Don't you dare, Warbringer." I chuckled faintly at the nickname he gave me in kind, despite that part of my nature being something I wasn't particularly fond of. It was mostly the matter of my business. "Hand it over."

Staring down at the valuable trinket in my hand, I held it calmly in two hands. Listening to them nervously chatter, I did the only sensible thing a dead man could do: I began grasping at straws.

And lucky me I had a big one right there in my possession.

Moving swiftly, I stabbed the spearhead into the cracks of the cobblestone below my feet, and leaned to the side to apply pressure. The guns were cocked instantaneously, but by then my trap was set. Smirking, I spoke aloud. "Any of you attempt to kill me, and I break your artifact."

Instantly, the mood changed. From hostile, to horrified. But it worked. Several of them lowered their weapons, but the rest simply seemed against shooting me right away. Annoyance however, was what I noticed on the three leaders. Meer had it mixed with hesitation, Tet had it mixed with anger, and Scars had it mixed with fatigue.

Tet-Urn snarled. "Don't even try it."

Meer scratched his scaly head nervously. "Perhaps an arrangement is in order?"

Scars nodded wearily. "How about this: give us our artifact, and we'll let you live."

My eyebrows rose at this. I had not expected my bluff to work, much less that they'd be desperate enough to let me live despite my blunder for this piece. But suspicion was still there, and usually it was a proper guide. Luckily, in this brief period I had time for my mind to clear some. Enough so, that I could see slight reflexes easier. For example, the twitch of Scar's claw near his rifle.

I understood then. They were luring me into their trap, from my own. With this bit of knowledge, my words that came next were calculated and precise. "Fine. Come here, and I'll give you the Spear first."

They seemed surprised at this, perhaps that I was willing to compromise. Nevertheless, Scars motioned for his lieutenant, and with a nod, the armoured officer approached me. Already, the edginess in his steps, and how he kept a claw near his dual-pistols were enough to tell me he was afraid--

Wait. Dual-pistols? Oh, this'll be interesting...

Already once again, my trap was set once more. All that was needed was for him to get a little bit closer... Ah, there we go. The Irida lieutenant stood before me, tersely holding out one claw while keeping his other one hovering over his right pistol. I looked about calmly at the assembled mass, and smiled.

Immediately, I wretched the Spear backwards so I held it in both hands, and slammed the point through the Irida's gaping maw. As I enabled Focus, I tugged the Spear back to give proper direction and twisted it so his body began to turn. Directing my head slightly to the side, I could peer halfway past the punctured skull to see the other soldiers on the verge of firing.

Lucky for me, I had it planned like clockwork. As the corpse fell towards me and turned, I caught the body with my chest, effectively having the body face the horde and double as an armoured meat-shield. My hands went for his pistols, and drew them swiftly. As the beginning bullets began to slowly jettison from their muzzles, I back-stepped while bringing the corpse with me, placing me in the alcove to negate flank fire.

My trigger-fingers worked in slow-motion, firing shot after shot while my wrists pivoted the tools towards my targets. Their bold attempts to eliminate my spree were interrupted by my calculated bullets ending their lives and struggles. While I did have some room for error in my firing due to having a spare round or two, I still couldn't get sloppy during my rather-idiotic escape plan.

I briefly recalled that as the final underling to my front collapsed, I quickly expended the final rounds in varying parts of Scar's body, guaranteeing that he wouldn't be able to further disrupt me, but simultaneously keeping him from Death's Door. As the tell-tale sound of the chambers clicked empty, I discarded the weapons and back-stepped.

However, due to this occurring in less than ten seconds, my flanks were still getting over the sudden shock. Meer and Tet-urn were furious, desperately trying to organize their units to finish me before I could anything else. It was really too late for them, because at this point I had replaced the Spear to hang from my back once more, sheathed the sword, and fastened the shield to my arm.

And then, without allowing my brain to ponder my next move, I threw myself out of the port-hole window towards the stairs below...


The chunks of the wooden beams, splitting the window like a prison-cell portal to the outside realm, were sent flying in random directions as my shoulder finished making contact, and my feet left the recess of the building. Though, my new predicament wasn't much better than my previous considering how I was quickly closing the distance betwixt me and the stairs leading to the settlement.

'Good thing I got this...'

Moving fluidly my shield-arm braced itself as I curled my body, so that the bronze circle would make contact with the steps before I could. It happened just in time, because almost immediately afterwards I lurched forward from the initial impact, and the proceeding front-flip caused by the momentum sent me down the expanse at a high velocity. I leaned enough for me to rebound against the stone once more with my shield, before my velocity slammed me into the corner of the L-shaped stair-way.

Granted, it hurt like a bitch. It didn't stop me from recovering and launching myself back down the second leg of the bumpy ride, however. Especially since multiple Irida were firing upon me from the port that I had fled from no more than twenty seconds ago. This one was more difficult to go down, but I had positioned myself this time so that I skipped down the stairs like a young child riding a sled down a hilly mountainside.

Nearing the solid ground, I got some style points by catching the end of the shield on a chipped section and flinging me into another front-flip. From there, my free arm shot out and pole-vaulted me over the final step and twisted my body so I landed in a kneeling stance having my shield to the side.

"Like a boss, Storm." Ed commented proudly as I saw an ethereal field of energy radiate from me and span out across maybe a mile before dissipating.

"Initiating M.L.P. Scan..."

Ah. So the Editor was doing one of its safeguard features: the Meager Life Pulse, meant to pick out living creatures in a certain area around me. Very useful for incidents where knowing what was alive in my vicinity. However, his response afterwards was far from encouraging. "We have approximately thirty guards en route to us in a quarter-mile of our position..."

'Well... shit.'

I stood as a second wind of sorts overtook me, despite my first one having never quite left me. Rushing towards an alleyway, my thoughts were already trying to formulate an escape route from this ever-growing snowball. There was definitely some distance between me and the front gate, which was the only guaranteed passage I had into a space that wasn't occupied by the creature-infested jungles that surrounded the walls.

Ed let out a small whistle in pity as I ducked into the alleyway and began speed-walking down the path, trying to take into account my inventory. "Really trying not to put a damper on our morale, but you done goofed."

'Thanks for affirming what I've already established, Ed. Perhaps you'd like to tell me what color the sky is next?' was my sarcastic response as I reached the end of the shady alcove and crouched behind a discarded wicker basket.

"Would you be mad if I responded with 'blue'?"

Inwardly, I couldn't resist lightly ripping my hair out at his near-constant way of taking few things in a serious manner. 'For the love of Fate, just help me get out of this!'

"Alright, alright..." he mumbled as I heard the sound of faint keys being tapped away in my head. Something he was doing to further irritate me, the damnable Englishman. "Look. You only have maybe a dozen blocks to traverse to get to the gate. As long as you remain out of sight and mind, then everything should go along fine." He paused, and then went off and said the most frustrating thing: "You've fucked up enough, so what's the worse that could happen now?"

And of course, good 'ole Murphy and his fail-safe Law came into play. Son of a bitch.

Almost instantly, two armed-Irida rounded the corner of the alley opposite of me. And from the looks of their prodding, they were extensively searching for me as their drawn rifles poked pieces of debris. Frowning at Ed internally did little to ease my mood, but at least he got the hint and silently apologized by going back to helping me escape this mess.

The soldiers were trying to be quiet, but my refined hearing could distinctly hear that barely-audible tap of their talons against the stone that made most of the city's floor. They were steadily making their way through their alley, and it seemed obvious that soon they'd be combing mine.

That's when I looked at the basket once more, and got an idea. It was too small for me to use it to hide myself, unfortunately. But, it could serve another function...

*Thwack! Thud-thud-thud*

I remained dead-still as the basket made impact with the street and bounced right into a small collection of tin pans that were hanging from a butcher's stall. This obtained the soldiers interest though, for they quickly came around the corner (while thankfully ignoring the original location of the basket), and had their backs turned to me. As such, I made my way into their already-inspected space while they interrogated the butcher.

The permeating silence that seized the city confused me, which simply put me on edge even further. After my hairy encounter, I was expecting alarms to be going off, and a lot more soldiers to be patrolling openly. In fact, how those soldiers had been already searching for me when I hadn't escaped my situation no more than two minutes ago confused me. They really didn't need to be quiet about this... unless...

They're keeping me low-profile.

Suddenly, things were making a semblance of sense. My interactions with the Irida weren't exactly major, but my persuasion skills combined with my way of inspiring had made me a positive household name throughout all the cities in the eyes of the populace. If soldiers started marching in large groups openly searching for me, citizens would get suspicious.

And if they found out that something went south with me, most likely they'd be siding with the 'all-powerful multidimensional being', than some leaders of factions. I hoped for this, anyway. If I was full of shit, then relying on alerted vigilantes would wind up badly for me.

I didn't want to think about 'what ifs', though. What I had to focus on was simply to escape, whether guns blazing or not. And considering how many little pairs of guards there were trying to discreetly hunt me down at that point, it seemed rather obvious that it would very well come to me going flat-out offensive in the broad daylight.

Lucky for me, there was an alleyway system that connected to the one I took. This meant that for a brief distance, I had multiple avenues and shade to hide myself as I proceeded to my goal. It didn't really matter how fast I got out (even though that bullet graze on my head was still stinging like all hell), but perhaps if I went ahead and did this slowly, I wouldn't have to spill as much blood.

As I reached the end of the network, another Pulse was sent outwards. It had been a good thing only highly magically-influenced creatures could detect the scan on a blue moon (which wasn't in the Irida's forte), for I was able to maintain my cover while getting a feel of what's happening immediately near me.

"Less guards than before. This is also the second Pulse we've sent that's detected zero civilians aside from that one butcher. Where are they, I wonder...?" Ed spoke softly as he worked.

'No clue. Don't really care, as long as we can get out of the city and away from the conflict so that I can generate enough energy to Warp.'

"Right," Ed agreed as he went silent briefly. "Be wary of this main street ahead; several guards are most likely examining all the nooks here, and you have no other options to go unless you feel like backtracking."

'Something I'd prefer not to do,' I thought quietly as I discreetly peeked behind the corner of the alcove that spilled out into the primary avenue. It was fairly barren, with only a patrol of three Iridan-troops moving down the road at a moderate pace. From their pattern, I realized that their circuit only went in a oval for the middle of the road. Thankfully, it seemed that I was out of that zone by a solid few yards. The problem that arose then though, was how to proceed down the street that led to the Gate when those guards could easily alert nearby allies.

Another opening sat on the opposite side of the road, down a little ways. Most likely, my brain mused, it led towards a backyard system that I could use to avoid confrontation. Deciding this was a good of a plan as any, I awaited the trio of guards to finish their round and to move away from me. It didn't take long, and the instant I felt I could cross without detection, I moved silently but swiftly towards my goal.

'A little closer, and I can duck into--'


Another gunshot sounded off, though this time I was unlucky enough to have it strike me in the left shoulder. It ripped through me viciously, causing me to briefly become unfocused. I twisted towards the group of patrolling guards, and to my surprise they were just turning about. No, the shooter was visible to me on a distant rooftop, rifle barrel still smoking from his shot.

I quickly jogged the rest of the way towards the opening as the triple-threat began firing upon me with the aid of their sharpshooter. However, upon entering the alleyway, I realized that not only did it lead to a dead-end, but there were two more Iridan troops sitting back there resting. Of course, that passed the instant they heard the gunshot and saw me. They quickly stood, and drew their pistols at their hips. My eyes bugged out, and with the screaming agony that was festering in my shoulder, I knew that stealth wouldn't cut it anymore.

'It's time to kick it up a notch,' was my brain's only witty-thought before I twisted back around the corner and charged down the sidewalk towards the enemy fire. Now, I knew at the time that what I was doing was a stupid idea. But in the end, what choice did I have?

Bullets impacted the area around me as I closed towards the firing line assembled to dispatch me. I weaved the best I could with the chunk of metal embedded into my shoulder, but I feared that there was no way I could rush through them with the semi-accurate weapons they were toting.

It was in a split-second that I made another decision. To the left of the line that I was charging towards, there were several stacks of crates forming a mini-stair piece that led to a corner of a building outlined with jutting bricks. However, it lied a few feet beyond the leftmost Irida, and there was no way I could go around or stop to confront them.

So, I decided to go through him instead.

My right Hidden Blade revealed itself as I ducked under the rifle that was prepped to end me. Using my present momentum, I drove my stealthy device into the heart of the sentient, located for this particular species right above the sternum. I lifted him from the ground as I tackled him, enabling him to simultaneously take a bullet from the distant sniper.

As I reached the crest of my lift, I flicked my wrist and returned the Hidden Blade to its proper sheathe. I leaned away from the crumpling corpse as I adjusted my positioning so I ran straight-on for the ascension, and with bullets still being fired upon me I jumped up each crate. I quickly reached the end, but at this point I had turned and was using the design of the bricks as a climbable wall.

The screaming pain that arose from any movement in my left shoulder proved this to be an excruciating task, but luckily tucking it in allowed me to still hold onto points at my chest-level. That ended up being only a moderate inconvenience, for I could launch myself using my right arm, and catch any brick in my midriff to pause before flinging myself again. A few repeats of that (while narrowing avoiding the random shots being unleashed on me by my assailants no more than fifteen feet below me), and I quickly hoisted my Editor-wielding self onto the rooftop.

I didn't stop there. After all, that sharpshooter was still after me with a passion. I pressed on and crossed the first gap ahead of me, wheeling my arms lighting to maintain myself as I navigated those small-to-average sized crevices that led to a rather painful fall. The rooftops weren't incredibly bare, which helped in creating small tufts of cover to keep my body intact from another blow. Using the method of 'move, hide, and move', I made excellent time and distance as I exited the district I was in and entered another.

At this point, those incognito patrols had detected me, and converged on where their fellow members were already in hot pursuit. This time the tolling bell that served to give announcements rang at a frantic pace, one that represented an archaic version of a city-wide alarm.

Its constant sounding off was an afterthought as I used my good arm to vault over waist-high peaks scattered horizontally on the higher domain that I traversed. Sometimes, I had to leap completely over the obstacles, for my proper hand would be busy with trying to keep pressure on my wound that rendered my left forearm fairly unusable.

Speaking of that, trying to clot the blood-flow while in mid-run is not an easy endeavor. Trust me: It was definitely a 'bitch-and-a-half' to try and deal with as I made my way past all of the damnable bullets--


My mind shouted the obscenity as I went for a sliding halt at the amassed squad of ten snipers positioned in a row across from me, rifles shouldered and ready to shoot. It was a good thing that I was on a slant, for my momentum combined with me going into a small baseball-esque slide that enabled me to take a simple trip past the fire, and straight into the alleyway twenty feet below.

At least, that's where I would've gone. As I went over the edge, my luck made itself known as my body went straight towards an exposed window with the shutters opened wide for air to come in. Apparently, that wouldn't be the only thing coming in, for my body instantly aligned to find purchase on the windowsill.

I barely stuck the landing, and even then the ground was rushing up to meet me as my velocity forced me to keep going forward. My right arm instinctively jutted out under my left armpit, and my body became similar to a ball. It was a part of Breakfall Training; something I had hundreds of years experience due to the fighting forms I had learned.

It worked like a charm. My shoulder came into contact first, enabling me to push off with my feet after they temporarily found the wooden floor. That push got me to roll back onto my head after going literally head-over-heels and continue my running through the corridor of the home I was briefly intruding in. This hallway though had a corner installed right in the blasted middle of it, forcing me to go right. And if that wasn't enough, a table sat in the way as well.

This didn't stop me, though. At least, not at first. I attempted to vault over the offending piece of furniture to the best of my ability, but there was simply too much momentum behind my person, and I ended up crashing hip-first into the table. It imploded upon itself, and I tripped over my own clumsiness and chunks of debris in my rush.


'Shut up!' was my quick reply as I recovered from my drunkard stumbling into another sprinting posture. After navigating that obstacle, I saw another open window come into view. Using all the haste I had, I pushed my body to fucking run. Even the pain in my shoulder subsided from the adrenaline rush that came with this. The portal outside was no less than five feet away when I saw yet another sniper set up on the roof opposite of me. My eyes quickly locked onto a flower pot that hung from a basic planter to my upper-left, and surprisingly without stopping, my feet made contact with the windowsill and launched me.

My hands wrapped around the pot, and that's when my luck ran out. You see, my plan was to take that little bitch and swing right out of the way and continue my free-running. It only half-worked; when I did my turn, there was nothing for me to keep running on, and as such I plummeted with the pot in my grasp extended over my head (due to the supporting strings holding it aloft breaking), as I descended from the two-story building towards the ground.

My pupils widened as the not-so-soft stone walkway came flying towards me. I prepped my body for a rather uncomfortable crash landing, before an Irida came into my line of sight. And lucky me, he was right where I was going to land. He hadn't noticed me taking my impromptu route, and I used this to my full advantage and instead prepped myself to crash into a slightly-softer-than-stone guard.

Now, to be honest, I didn't even know at the time how I was able to perform all that admittedly ridiculous shit so fluidly, despite the fact that I could barely keep track of my own thoughts at the moment. What I did definitely know at that precise second, with completely and utter certainty?

A flower pot being swung downward by a falling entity from two-stories and a lot of momentum can knock you for a loop when the point of impact is your skull.

How did I know this? Because it’s exactly what had happened. When I made contact with the singular guard, the pottery in my hands was the first thing that came into contact with him. And since me and the Iridan had a semi-similar height, it wasn't too difficult to pull this off.

After the dirt-slash-vegetation storage device was destroyed upon the reptilian's cranium, I used his lower body to help cushion the rest of me as we both made contact with the ground. My ever-present cumulative speed sent me rolling on over him, before stopping face-down in the crudely-made cobblestone path.

Trying to shake away both my dizziness and the shallow cuts from the fall, I attempted to get to my knees in order to keep going. That's when I decided it was a bad time to look up, and I bared witness to the charging horde of at least twenty guards coming down the path this guard had just arrived from. And they weren't intent on slowing down, which meant I had to speed up.

"Storm! We got some stored energy! Let's knock these bastards back and get out of here while we have this reserve!"

Right there was possibly the best time for that news, because the instant Ed's words were heard, my right hand was projecting a small sphere of power. It swirled with sky blue, the signature color of my Editor. Getting up to just one knee, I smirked as I underarm-threw the little ball of Death and quickly tried to rise completely with the thirty seconds I just bought myself.

Meanwhile, that piece of magical destruction I sent rolled and found purchase right under the feet of one of the center-Iridans stomping down on the stone. The result was both disgusting and relieving, for that triggered a kinetic explosion that launched the incoming mass in multiple directions. Some body parts were removed from the sheer force of it compacted so.

At this point, I was on my feet, turned around, and starting to run down the street in the direction the rush was going before a bullet struck the ground right in front of me. Without pausing, I sneered at the sharpshooter I left on the rooftop. With a quick slash of my still-glowing hand, the molecules of the mortar keeping the two building materials together vanished, and as such the irritating rifle-toting bugger plunged into the structure with debris following.

'Took you long enough to bring good news! Where the hell did all these guys come from, anyway?!'

There was a slight panicked undertone to Ed as he responded. "I have no idea. We're close, though! Take this left, and we're on the home stretch for the Main Gate!"

Nodding, I sighted the indicated change in direction and followed it. Even from that distance, I could see the Gate standing largely and proudly as some minor constructions were being made to reinforce its wooden exterior. I could see said Main Gate closing slowly yet surely. That was not a good sign.

I noted that my mini-reserve wasn't out yet, and I made it useful by removing some of my physical fatigue by transferring the quickly expending energy, with brand-new fresh energy. There was no way I would've been able to use it to heal-and-run (which would have been a good usage and super useful), so taking away my tiredness some was going to have to suffice. The ease of strain was a welcome sensation. And naturally, my senses grew even sharper, as did my speed with my goal in sight.

I was halfway down the street. Closing in on my semi-closed passage out of this botched attempt to levy the uneven forces acting on this world. It was an unexpected way of fucking things up; but when you got something that can do a lot of crazy shit, I should've learned to always at all times: expect the unexpected.

And proclaiming to a race that they perform incest and being nearly killed for the slip-up sorta falls under that.

I looked about frantically, but I saw no signs of any more Irida. Did they quit? Was I going to be able to outrun them, and get out of this alive? Could I take another breather from this shtick that became my unofficial job and take a vacation?

The answer, to all of those questions... is 'no'.

And this was discovered when I saw them out of the corners of my vision as I entered the large and rather empty square that bottle-necked into the Gate. They were in waves. Dozens on each side. But I didn't care. I was no less than ten steps away, and the space between the doors would be enough for me to lie in between and be comfortable. The escape was in the bag--!


The large doors that created the Gate closed instantly and suddenly, taking me by surprise as I face-planted into the now-towering hunk of wood and metal. I heard Ed give a light snicker, and to be honest I would assume I had looked rather comical running into that right after it closed, and when I was so close. Unfortunately, since this was me, the humour didn't come at that point.

I turned my body to the right, and reclined my back against the construct. I really wish I hadn't.

Guns. Guns everywhere. And all of them were directed at me, locked and loaded. My heart was having greater thumps than a jackhammer could ever hope for. My eyes were alert, darting towards every sniper that peered their head from behind chimneys, every platoon that thickened the flanks even further, and especially the arrival of Meer, Scars, and Tet-Urn.

"And finally, the rat is cornered..." Tet-Urn gloated as he strolled closer towards me from my left, Winchester in claws as he slowly reloaded it. "Your little escape ends here, Outsider."

"Indeed," Meer commented as he unholstered his 1851 Colt Navy Revolver. "Perhaps now you should have chosen your words more carefully when your strength wasn't altogether, eh Godsent?"

"It is a true shame..." Scars trailed off with a rather glum expression on his face as he inserted a slug into his Model 1887 shotgun.

I bared my teeth as I glanced about. My numbers were correct; there were more than a hundred barrels ready to take me down. And there were no more tricks left up my sleeve. I could feel only a bare amount of Editor energy left for me to use; surely not enough to fight or move out of the situation and into safety.

It was when my eye just slightly glanced at the paused renovation towards my right that I had one last plan. One last resort. It was idiotic, probably wasn't going to work unless Fool's Luck and Fate intervened, and was just a really really bad idea. But it was a plan. Fool-proof, though? Not even close.

'Ed.' There was a brief silence before I received an anxious reply.

"Yeah, Storm?"

'Do you think what we got in the tank is enough to fish out something in Storage?'

"Possibly. It would have to be a fairly small object, and the matter composing it can't be too heavy or complex. That shit costs extra... Why?" Ed questioned cautiously.

'Do you really need to ask?' I responded knowingly. Whether he knew or not as well, I couldn't tell. Either way, I felt him shrug.

"I trust your judgement, even if it's shit most of the time. Do I need to do anything?"

'Yes.' I paused, before taking in a physical breath. 'Please refrain from mocking me as I die.'

"Spawning: Italian Smoke Bomb (Renaissance)"

"No..." The horror was evident in his voice, even if it was just a slight tremor. "You aren't."

I nodded internally. 'Oh yeah. I am.'

"Storm, you madman..." was the only response I got out of him, along with him shaking his head as he watched my plan unfold.

As I felt the tiny handheld orb materialize in my hand, I planned my route one final time. They hadn't noticed yet, for I slowed the process of its arrival. Instead, they had been rambling on about my defeat, and how I would perish, blah blah blah. Shit I had heard literally ten thousand times before, so I had tuned them out.

When I felt that they were about to finish, I fully brought in the Smoke Bomb. Before any of them could react, I turned on a dime and dashed to my right, dropping the device at my feet. It detonated, releasing its signature white plume of smoke, providing only a meager sense of concealment. But that wasn't the explosive's purpose. No, it was meant only to distract.

Their eyes locked onto my smoke before me, and by the time they fired, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that over half of the shots had missed in the confusion. They certainly weren't expecting it, for I hadn't been moving at all and their superiors were still giving their premature victory speeches.

My new target sat five yards away. A pulley. I didn't waste any time as I jumped onto the platform, and grasped the rope with my right hand. I could see them out of the corner of my eye, pivoting their weapons towards me. Rushing, I drew my left Hidden Blade this time, and went to cut the bottom of the rope in order for the wooden beams above to propel me to the battlements.


At this moment two things happened; though which happened first, I have no idea. The first that I think happened was that I successfully cut the rope, and I had begun to ascend. The second was Meer firing his pistol and striking me in the right thigh, which I believe was where my head was no more than a quarter of a second previous to the contact.

The pain raced through me as I whizzed up the wall in a matter of moments. I hit the top faster than I expected, and landed in my hopeful spot. I had noticed it on the way in, and it only came to me at the last second as I was pinned against that gate for ideas on how to bail.

I quickly adjusted myself so that I didn't break anything, for I knew that if I did things would go very badly for me. Drawing my left Hidden Blade again, I cut the sinew which launched me from the War Catapult, and into the sloping valley below.

Location: Golden Oaks Library. Ponyville, CPE (Center Province of Equestria)

Time: Approximately late-morning, specifics unavailable

One would believe that a small village nestled in a valley overlooked by the countries' capital would be in full-swing before the day was truly in-effect. That particular person would be mostly correct, for the ever-growing town of Ponyville was indeed quite active as the pondering of whether now was a good time for breakfast or lunch diminished.

Shop-keeps provided service in their stores. Farmers began to prep their crops to be harvested (for fall was on its first leg still.) And off-work residents maintained relationships with friends by conversing with them under the rising sun. Everything was in motion, all except for a singular building that had yet to open its doors to the public.

It was an unusual abode, which functioned as a repository of information for any willing to venture within and seek it. It stood high and proud above the smaller homes scattered about its perimeter, and the fact that it was a building made inside a tree garnered respect and attention from all who encountered it. It was known as the Golden Oaks Library.

However, not many questioned why it remained lifeless, for no figures trotted around the interior. Those who did considered that perhaps the well-known librarian was off dealing with affairs concerning Their Highnesses', or perhaps she was dealing with an issue deep in the looming forest outside the village. Or perhaps she was even taking care of... 'personal' needs.

But no. The motive for the absence of Twilight Sparkle, resident Librarian and personal protégé to her Royal Highness Princess Celestia, was for an entirely different reason...

'Ugh... my head.' A form rolled over in its messy bed located within the higher section of the Library. A purple hoof slid out from under the star-spangled blanket and lazily rubbed her cranium through the cotton. 'By Starswirl’s Beard, I really need to stop studying so late like Spike suggested...'

The being moved only a small part of the cover, allowing a single violet eye to peer out from the partially caved-in tunnel that was formed. It briefly looked over the tomes laying amongst the desk across from her bed, before locking onto the only visible title and producing a tiny grin on her face. 'Theorems of: Leylines and You (Volume II)’ was the proudly printed text on the book, before the tiny viewing passage was crushed by the uncovered appendage and therefore rendered the ability to view null and void. 'It's not going to happen.'

After all, how could she put down a book that was actually attempting to justify the possibility of other worlds, and in fact other planes of existence from their own? Her imagining another Twilight Sparkle brought on excitement alongside trepidation. A phrase the book stated was "For every step you take in one direction, somewhere else you walked into a different direction," if her quoting was right. And that was quite fascinating.

She snuggled deeper into her bed, trying desperately to restart the sleep she yearned for. It was there, but just out of reach. It was Friday, the usual end of the week where colts and fillies were then allowed two days away from learning afterwards. Since the number of ponies that came in dropped off almost entirely from Thursday 'till Sunday, Twilight was certainly not in a rush to get out of bed.

Finding that 'sweet spot' that promised more rest, she let her body go and allowed her brain to steadily halt its restarting processes. A new and lazy smile took hold of her face as her eyelids grew heavy once again, and with nothing stopping her at that moment...

She took pause, dreading the case of somepony coming in to interrupt her and prove her wrong. She let out a nearly-silent sigh of relief, and allowed herself to--


The lavender mare drooped as she heard the muffled call from downstairs rapidly approaching. 'So much for the pleasant thought of sleeping in further...'

A loud noise signifying that her door was quickly opened with unneeded force told Ms. Sparkle that whoever wanted her had arrived before she could even crawl out of her sanctuary. She removed some of the cover to give them a piece of her mind, before she realized that it wasn't a pony, but rather her faithful assistant Spike.

As he arrived to the foot of her bed, he began to speak loudly as he rounded the left corner. "Wake up Twilight. I know today's a slow day, but we really need to get started," Spike announced as he began to shake his guardian without noticing she was already awake.

A tired and frankly irritated groan left her lips as she fully removed the top of the blanket so her upper-half was exposed. She looked down and over towards her friend, staring metaphorical (but if possible, literal) daggers towards the budding dragon. "Nopony has come in on a Friday for the past three weeks." She let out a disheartened sigh as she looked at the ceiling. "So why bother?"

"Because," Spike started. "I know that there is still the possibility of somepony coming in--"

"Spike." Twilight said with a tired authority. "Please. Just... give me five more minutes," she trailed off as she allowed her magic to return the sheet to its proper place over the lavender mare's body.

The little bipedal dragon merely let out a huff, watching as dark-grey smoke billowed out of his snout. "Last time I let you sleep in, we didn't get fully opened 'till after lunch," he retorted quietly. He glanced to see his Canterlot-native roommate making no attempt to try and get ready, signalling that it would be up to Spike to get the ball rolling.

It was a good thing he was a dragon of action.

Backpedaling slowly, Spike called out in a steady, slow tone. "All right, Twi'. I can't force you to wake up." When no response happened, he moved on further. "But I hope you realize how being late to opening the Library will make you look to Ponyville, and if word got around, to Princess Celestia?" She seized up slightly, and that's when he knew he had her. "After all, you are supposed to be doing a job on her request--"

That seemed to do the trick. With a possible berating coming from her mentor being a consequence for laziness, she quickly removed the entirety of herself from the mattress. Moving with a surprising quickness, Twilight lit her horn and Blinked to the vanity dresser she bought in town a few weeks ago that was positioned down the steps of the loft-- Er, her bedroom.

"Okay, I get it, Spike," she sputtered out quickly, levitating her brush over to remove some accursed tangles in her hair. She paused briefly, before looking back and realizing she was played. Spike had a mischievous and victorious smirk on his face, but he wasn't able to wipe it off in time before Twilight turned around. "Oh, so tricking me is funny, huh?"

The purple dragon was swift with his response, as well as making sure that it held the utmost cunning and intelligence. "Wha'?"

A devious grin appeared on Twilight's face. "Nice try. Since you're so ready to get the day going, after you make breakfast for the both of us, you can... Hmm..." she paused lightly to see Spike anticipating some menial task like rearranging the shelves, or cleaning. Her grin widened with a predatory edge as she pronounced with great volume, "From noon to seven you must help out Rarity to pay for a favour I asked of her a while ago."

Spike hung his head. "Yes, Twi'--" He froze, and turned on his heel to stare at his motherly figure. "Are you serious?" When he got an amused nod in return, Spike leaped with joy as a enormous smile plastered itself onto his face.

Before he could even attempt to leave though, Twilight cut his stupor off as she finished her brushing. "Notice how I said 'noon' you can go. Last I checked, it wasn't noon yet." His eyes widened with this revelation, and he scratched his head sheepishly for forgetting.

"Uh, right."

The unicorn let out a giggle. "C'mon Spike. You go make breakfast while I finish getting ready, okay?"

"Yes, ma'am!" The little dragon proclaimed as he gave a mock salute, and giddily jogged down the stairs to get started. Twilight shook her head, a minuscule smile tugging at her cheeks. Focusing on the disheveled bed, she quickly dealt with the creases, and remade it so it didn't look so messy.

Satisfied that she looked good enough to be presentable through the day, and seeing nothing she couldn't clean up at a later time, Twilight proceeded through the door with the promising smell of cooking hay leading her.


'This was an incredibly stupid idea.'

"You've just now realized that?"

I sat a short distance from the cleared main dirt-road that led from the city to the other settlements. The foliage around me provided a meager amount of cover for me to catch my breath and investigate how serious my injuries were after my rather-foolish escape plan.

After I had launched myself, I sailed for a good short distance before conveniently making impact with a semi-large pile of clumped bushes. How one could survive such a feat was beyond me, especially since under normal circumstances anyone (including me) would've probably died and made into sticky paste. Plus, having sharp thorns dig into your bullet wounds hurts more than you'd assume.

'Speaking of those...' I glanced down at the offending little pieces of metal I had picked out. They glistened still with my crimson blood, almost mocking me in the tiny ray of sunlight that shone down unto them. It was evidence that I was certainly not indestructible. That with enough guns in a short enough time-frame would be the possible death of me. Age couldn't kill me, but blunt trauma certainly could.

As for the actual gaping holes in my body, those had been wrapped up and were currently disinfecting. The adrenaline was starting to wear down at this point, for I had been lying in wait listening for any form of approach for the past twenty minutes. And so far... not a sound.

I was thankful for the Editor opening enough spare energy in its refilling Reserve to get me some fresh linen bandages and rubbing alcohol. While I didn't really need these for the injuries to fade away, which they would in a rather brief period due to all sorts of magical incantations cast over my body throughout my lifespan... I felt it helped out decently in speeding up the healing process along and making me feel not so... immortal.

Ah, immortality of Time. The one thing I had come to both enjoy and loathe. To be honest, at this point I couldn't tell which feeling was dominant. I'd seen things others would only hope to... but at the same time, I had witnessed things that no one should ever know. Ups and downs, I suppose.

The only thing I was waiting on was for Ed to establish a Warp. Didn't care which of the secured systems he sent me to, as long as the residents there didn't want to kill me. Well, most of the residents. Some factions were still rather sore, after all. However, it would appear it was going to take longer than I thought. This meant that for the time-being, the lush hideaway would be my temporary camp.

'Ed. I'm not trying to rush or anything, but... Could you hurry the hell up with the Warp coordinates?'

An irritated sigh left him as I felt him extending the Editor's reach and attempting to pick our target. "This isn't exactly easy, Storm. We are still technically riding off our last wave of your Stasis, and therefore are a bit limited to what we can do."

'I only barely went into the first stage, which is the beginning of the initial Phase, of being in a Stasis though!'

"Precisely. If you had went any farther down we'd be in a lot more trouble. Be glad that before the hour is out, we'll be out of this death-trap."

Sighing lightly, I eased myself up and took steady breaths. I could feel the stretching of the sensitive nerves outlining the points groaning in protest, causing me to maintain my frozen-wince. It remained for the duration of me trying to desperately let go of the possibly-deadly, further downward-spiraling series of events.

It didn't work too well.

I slumped against the tree that I had been resting under, allowing it to support my weight. My head reclined against the rough exterior of the bark, and with that came a hollow laugh. Ed surely noticed, but didn't say anything. I spoke regardless out loud in a low voice. "Here I am... The fabled 'Beginning', the great 'Master of Gods', and the true 'Keeper of Neutrality'; currently licking his wounds in a fucking meadow of a jungle inhabited by beasts of all sorts. Fuck my life."

That's when I heard footfalls on the road no more than five feet away. It was close enough to where I could very lightly hear just the light flexing of its claws, as well as the nearly inaudible reloading of its revolver. Not a single movement arose from me as I stood there, body leaned against the tree as I stopped breathing, period.

A voice spoke up, guttural and relatively quiet as opposed to the usual volume of an Iridan. "Did you hear that?"

Another began to talk, and I realized it was Tet-Urn. "No, but His scent lingers. The Outsider is close." I heard shifting of a shoulder strap, which was most likely connected to his Winchester. "Search the perimeter."

From there, I heard at least five separate presences move in different directions. Luckily, none happened to go my way yet, presuming that I was on the opposite side. Maybe they thought that due to me taking a piss over there ten minutes ago, maybe not. Either way, I had to get away from them, or get them away from me.

"Okay. I have an idea," Ed commented slowly, sending out a very small M.L.P. scan of about fifteen feet. "If you move quietly (and I stress the word 'quietly'), you can sneak away and get some distance. But you have to follow my guidance exactly."

'Better than what I had.'

"Wait, what did you have?"

'Crouch and hope for the best?'

A disappointed sigh answered my rather poor alternate plan, before Ed spoke again in a lowered voice. "Now, carefully take a-"

'Quick question: Why are you whispering?'

"...I don't really know. But focus, Storm. Carefully take a step with your right foot about half-way from a normal step at a 65-degree angle relative to your position."

Without looking, I rose my foot and slowly moved it in a meticulous and solid pace. When I felt that I had reached the spot and angle, I set down my foot toes-first. Once that was solidly in place, I lowered my heel-


...And proceeded to break a fucking brittle stick.

The result was immediate. The other Irida who were milling about silently all halted instantly, eyes pivoted right towards my tree. I was sweating like mad, constantly repeating obscenities as my body tensed.



"If I were you (which in a weird sense I am if you count my ethereal-slash-technical form residing in your brain), I'd run. Like, now."


And with that, I hobbled as fast as I could possibly go straight-ahead. This put the tree between me and many bullets, allowing me some form of a head-start. I'm glad I had it too. Because once I hit a wall of foliage, I stumbled onto an overgrown trail, with the hunting party right on my heels.

Again, without thinking I went right. Because truly, when you have a very real sense that what may finally kill you is on your heels, you start going instinctive over rational. Unfortunately for me, by going right, I didn't go left. And because I didn't, I maybe would've been able to dodge yet another bullet down the line.

Now, before I go into that, allow me to describe the two halves of this fading path that was once a major trade route. I wasn't able to pick up many details (being chased and all), but the half that was on my left had plenty more thickets. Which meant, more cover. The one on the right? Nowhere near as effective.

So, it both took me off-guard while at the same time not really taking me off-guard when I got hit by yet another bullet after being under fire and running for about three minutes. And let me tell you: I don't even know how I was still kicking. After all, I had been hit by four bullets at this point (if one counted the graze way back.)

This particular bullet found purchase in my other thigh, and combining this with my current sprinting hobble I had going on... my face became intimate with the ground right quick. 'At least it wasn't gravel, I suppose. Just dirt with some big rocks here and there.'

My body tumbled and rolled, bouncing off some of those big rocks and directing me into more big rocks. When I finally was able to stop my momentum, I was in a little clearing. I couldn't see where the next section of the road went, and the only trace of non-jungle was being trampled by several very PO'd lizards.

And right now, the last thing I wanted to be looking at was bipedal fucking lizards with varying horn sizes and shapes, along with those ridiculous cartilage-knots at the end of each of their tails. Especially since they had Old-Western grade firearms and a bone to pick with me.

They were quick to swarm me, creating a tight circle. A single opening in the round little area was towards my feet, and that was where Tet-Urn walked in. His Winchester was already in-claw, locked and loaded. Suddenly, one doesn't feel so ballsy when you know you're fucked and you genuinely don't have another ace up your sleeve.

My eyes locked onto Tet's, whose own bored a look of satisfaction intermingled with disgust. He stopped at my heels, and brought down the rifle so I stared into the barrel hanging maybe two feet away from my face. And even if by some chance he missed, the other seven hunters wouldn't. Like the saying went, I was between a rock and a hard place. With the planet of Iridon being the rock, and the hard place being... well, guns.

"Well? Come on then," I muttered with a grimace. "Got any last comments to say to me? Some mockery, perhaps?"

The cold look I received mixed with that maniacal grin might have had the potential to send shivers down my spine, if it hadn't look slightly comical. "I am waiting for you, Outsider."

"Oh? And why's that?"

He leaned in, which in turn located the end of the barrel to sit less than a foot from my right eye. "Because I like to see my prey beg for their life." A dark chuckle followed, accompanied by a similar echo caused by the hunting party standing around me.

'Die with honour, Storm.'

"Go piss off, you ugly excuse for a biped." There was no fear in my voice. In fact, if this was my end, at least I knew it was the end of the road. In a sense, it brought some peace. That's gotta count for something, right?

Tet-Urn seemed like he expected that, because he shrugged. "When we are done here, I will leave." His grin widened. "Farewell, Outsider."

'Whelp. This is the end of the tale. We had a good run, Ed--'

"Engaging Emergency Warp Function"

'Wait... what?!'

"Hold on, Storm!"

Before I could even comprehend how to complain, I saw the signature blue glow of the Universal Editor wrapping me in its essence. I didn't even realize the thing had an Emergency Warp feature before! Not like I ever needed it, surprisingly. I do admit though, having the last image of the place being Tet's infuriated-slash-confused look was priceless.

I'm certain my pained laughing echoed in that grove long after I vanished.

Location: Golden Oaks Library. Ponyville, CPE (Center Province of Equestria)

Time: Approximately mid-afternoon, specifics unavailable

A flip of a page. A sigh, followed by light scribbling. A pause that lasted for several moments, before another flip. This was the repeating cycle for Twilight Sparkle as she took notes on 'Theorems of: Leylines and You (Volume II)' at the Libraries' front desk.

She was intrigued by the concepts the book was leaning towards, and the slow day complemented by the lack of Spike to disturb her allowed nearly uninterrupted reading. Her telekinetic grasp on both her favourite quill and the tome was lazy, but refined. Without removing her gaze from the text, she re-applied ink to the tip of her pen, before copying a quote made by the author, Soft Story.

"'The systematic web of Leylines that form the basic structure of Life affects all living things, whether they recognize its subtle flows or not...' Simply fascinating."

Before she was able to continue though, she stopped. Something was amiss. There was a new feeling in the air suddenly, one that demanded her to take notice. Cautiously, she glanced about. Nothing had changed. The windows and doors were all sealed shut, locked all except for the front entry.

Twilight glanced down at the well of astonishing methods and opinions that she still held. Whatever the new presence was, it had to involves Leylines. She knew there had to be a connection, for when thinking about the new feeling alongside the theorems of Leylines... they seemed to blend perfectly together.

And whatever it was, it seemed to be magically-influenced. She could tell; she could feel it reverberating and resounding in her horn. Like a faraway echo, but it was noticeable in the still room. Enough for her curiosity as well as her surprise to increase dramatically. She remained still nonetheless, waiting for anything to occur. When nothing did after a few minutes, she shrugged off the feeling reluctantly and continued to write on like it had never happened in the first place.

Location: Everfree Edge. Ponyville, CPE (Center Province of Equestria)

Time: Approximately mid-afternoon, specifics unavailable

Serenity captivated the outskirts of the little hamlet known as Ponyville. The rolling green knolls intermingled with the sparse farm lands to create a truly peaceful space to any who came into contact with it. This was quite true for Fluttershy, a well-known animal caretaker whose abode resided on the perimeter of the infamous forest of the Everfree.

She flitted about her home, using her wings to hover lightly above the ground as she tended to her potted plants and feeders. With a certain and elegant grace, she was able to easily water her hibiscus flowers and replenish the hanging reservoirs of food for all flight-capable creatures.

As Fluttershy felt that the front of her cottage was taken care of, she began to glide slowly towards the back.

"Hey, 'Shy!"

The response was instantaneous. The timid Pegasus nearly flew out of her fur as she quickly landed, wings extending in surprise and made difficult to use. Looking about frightened, she realized that nopony else was around but herself. Believing that she simply heard something, Fluttershy went to turn around to continue her endeavors before colliding with the snout of another pony.

She backpedaled with her forehooves flailing as she tried to maintain her balance since she was reared, before gravity took hold of her and she fell unto her back. A quiet squeak came out on impact, and with quaking eyes she looked up to see--

"...Rainbow Dash?"

The mentioned sky-blue Pegasus gave an apologetic smile as she offered Fluttershy a hoof. "Eh heh, sorry 'bout that. I knew it probably wasn't the best of ideas to land behind you."

Gratefully taking the friendly appendage, the pink-maned Pegasus rose from her former position on the ground. "Oh, it's quite alright, Rainbow. I didn't recognize your voice at first," she meekly stated with that gentle smile.

In response, Dash just shrugged. "It's cool. So, listen," she paused as she rather awkwardly looked around. "I figured you might need some help. And since I happened to be flying over, I decided to drop in."

"How thoughtful of you!" Fluttershy responded cheerfully, before returning to her demure behavior. "But, you don't have to. I can finish these chores by myself."

She was met with her friend shaking her head. "What kinda friend would I be if I just let you do your chores by yourself when I (the most awesome flyer in Equestria), could help you out?" Rainbow followed up before Fluttershy could try to answer the rhetorical question. "Besides, I got time to waste since I just finished my shift with the Weather Patrol."

Fluttershy softly kicked at the dirt underneath her, watching a stray dust cloud form and float away. "Well, if you really want to. I'd really appreciate the help, Rainbow."

Dash simply gave a cocky grin in return. "Sure you can. Now, just tell me what I can do to help..."

(Several minutes later...)

It didn't take a large period of time for the duo to finish the meager amount of remaining tasks to be completed. While Dash was semi-incompetent with animal care-taking, she was still helpful in replacing loosened nails and hauling bags of feed. Not what she was expecting to do, but she was loyal enough to her friend to not mind all that much.

At this point both of them lied down in the backyard, backs against the wild yet tame grass. Celestia's Sun shone overhead enough to provide a pleasant warmth, but not one that would be uncomfortable at this time of day. The barely audible sound of the stream that ran under the bridge connecting Fluttershy's cottage to the roads leading to the Everfree and Ponyville provided a soothing undertone to the relaxing moment.

In order to appease boredom for Rainbow Dash, both had taken into looking at clouds that rolled over from the unnatural and self-sustaining Everfree Forest. Because of their unpredictability, these clouds took on forms that depending on the perspective became different shapes and figures entirely.

"Oh, how about that one?" A cyan hoof pointed towards a cluster. "It looks like... an opening to a cave. What about you, 'Shy?"

There was a brief silence as she examined it. "Why, to me it looks almost like Whitetail Woods!"

"What? No way."

"Yes way, Rainbow. It looks like the entrance when you first walk in."

Dash glanced over incredulously at her friend, before scrutinizing the cluster with curious focus backed by determination. "...Huh. I guess it does. Cool, I guess." Before another ball of fluff could be distinguished though, something else caught her eye in the sky.

Noting its rapid descent, she pointed it out lazily. "Hey, 'Shy. What's that?"

Fluttershy glanced over at the object, before arching her eyebrows in confusion. "I don't know. It looks like--" Her breath hitched loudly. "Oh no." Seeing the horrified look in her friend's eyes, Rainbow squinted at the falling object. Soon, she too recognized what it was.

Both of them spoke in-sync. "Somepony is in a free-fall..."

They acted hastily. Rainbow Dash launched herself to her hooves, wings already flaring to save the unknown reckless flyer. "Who in the hay thought it was a good idea to try and fly over the Everfree? Everypony knows the weather is way too crazy to be considered a Safe Air zone."

"We'll never be able to catch them before they hit the treeline," Fluttershy sad anxiously as she saw the free-falling fliers' wings unfurl. At this moment her motherly-slash-healing instincts were raring to take over and move at once. But her fear was still present enough for her to not dart right in. Going into the Everfree with nothing less than five ponies was a careless, and possibly very dangerous move.

That didn't seem to stop Dash as she took to the air. Turning around, she cocked her head at her lifelong friend. "I'll try and fly over to see where he hits. You go in on the path, and I'll meet up with you."

"But, Rainbow. You just said that flying over the Everfree wasn't a good idea--"

"I know," she replied. "But if we don't know where they land, going in after them won't do the three of us any good." Those words sunk in for both of them as they finally saw the seemingly-unmoving form crash against the treetops. From their position, one could still hear the collision of body against tree before a heavy echoing thud told them the fall had ended.

Driven solely by her will to help others, Fluttershy darted towards the path leading to the Everfree. Recognizing what she was doing, Rainbow Dash took to the skies and began to make her way to where she believed the Pegasus crashed.

I felt the wind. Its nature whipping against my hair and my skin. I had to of been plummeting. There was no other way I would've felt it. I had questioned myself on whether to allow my eyes to open and see how close I was to the ground. Would that be a truly wise decision? No, not at all.

That didn't stop me, though.

Fighting the air striking my eyes, I squinted past the liquid coagulating. I was going head-first towards a forest. A dense, dark forest. My eyes tried to widen in shock, but the damnable gusts pounding on my eyes prevented this. I looked down, which oddly meant that I was technically looking up.

The bullet-wound from my thigh was seeping out more blood than the previous ones, for some reason. The blood was so plentiful that it had actually dripped off of me, and therefore became trailing behind me as I made my descent. My heart had made record-time in returning to its jackhammer-esque pulse, and I may had been a tiny bit afraid.

'Ed! Da hell?!'

"Really sorry 'bout this!" Ed's apology went unaccepted at that moment. "I thought I had set the Z-coordinates lower than what you're falling from!"

'Exactly how the hell up am I, Ed?!'

"Er... a little over two-thousand feet?"

That caused my heart to skip a beat. I might be toting a piece of tech in me that can change most of reality on a whim, but there was no way I'd be able to avoid death from a fall this high. Truly how I survived that last one, which was only a tenth of what I was plummeting from at that time, was surprising.

'Well gee, since you're my triple-A.I. and all, could you possibly... Oh, I don't know; keep me from fucking fall to my death here?!'

"Yes, I can! You got just the tiniest amount left now in the Reserve since it recharged a little bit. Make it count, eh?"

I snorted with a righteous passion as I tried to figure out a small enough item that could keep me from a rather painful impact. Quickly glancing back down was a bad idea when the distance between me and tree was halved. Somehow I achieved terminal velocity and fell one-thousand feet in less than twelve seconds, if my math was right. Apparently, in whatever Universe I was falling, physics had been told to go fuck themselves. Quickly trying to refocus, my mind worked in a frenzy before suddenly one of my 'brilliant' ideas struck.

"Spawning: Parachute (Renaissance)"

Leaving my hand open, I felt the wrapped-up bundle materialize into my grip. Once I had been assured it was all there, I quickly loosened it up and held onto the straps. I would have liked a more-modern version at the time, but my quaint backpack didn't exactly leave any room. So, I had to improvise. Badly, I might add.

The sudden jerk was unexpected, but it was preferred to the probable full-speed collision that was the only alternative. Speaking of that impact...

As I touched the top of the canopy that created my forest drop-zone, my feet made contact with a nook in a tree. Believing I was safe, I decided it was a wonderful idea to let go of the parachute and try to stand there. Unfortunately for me I didn't realize my footing wasn't solid.

Down I went.

You know, one doesn't expect wood to be that strong when it's still alive, or bark to be all that rough. But when you're crashing against both of these at a fairly-high speed, with no idea on what branches were where... you learn that Nature is a bitch when you plow into it. Literally, I was bouncing off of these extending branches that under normal circumstances would provide me with a route to swiftly move across. Instead, they were helping to break my fall as I crashed into them.

What I said was in an almost-monotone voice, because at this point I had started to lose consciousness from all the ridiculous events tied in with all the bloody pain that I had to live through on a day-to-day basis. It went a little something like: "Ow. Shit, fuck... Ow, ow, dammit. Shit...!"

Here, was the true low-point of my day. Because of crashing into foliage, my human form was somehow flipped, causing my feet to be pointing towards the ground. This was bad for two reasons. One was the fact that this would most likely have broken my legs if it wasn't for Reason Two.

And Reason Two had me hitting a branch. With my legs in a straddle position. At very, very, very high speed. My eyes widened at the immense pain coursing through my veins, while in the dim background I could just faintly hear Ed trying desperately to repress a laugh. I had been planning on telling him off, but my basically-limp self rolled off the branch. I hit one last one with my back, before soon rolling off that one and falling for about three feet.

It was then that I finally reached the ground. My body collapsed in a heap as cuts and bruises most likely adorned my body, and agitated my previous wounds even further. Ed was still snickering about my groin suffering from the uppercut by that branch, which I really wanted to punch him for. I had landed on my chest, but luckily my reflexes told me to bring my hands down from their spread-eagle position as I fell to slap the ground and to spread the impact. This provided me the sweet justice of not having my internal organs being ruptured.

There was near quiet after this, not including an odd sound coming from above. Painfully turning myself over with the last bout of consciousness I had left, I was graced with watching an unhinged branch tumbling down and slamming me into my face. The thing I recalled as I was gripped by the dark void was Ed's fading voice asking if I was okay.


Author's Note:

And that heaping intro is done! It was extremely long-winded, I admit. But hopefully, it doesn't deter you from the later chapters. They get better, and no so tediously drawn-out! Also, take note that the '-WTIN-' scene-breaks are perspective-exclusive. Meaning, when I need to break a scene but don't need to update the location/time or change characters point of view, I'll use that.

[Edit (5/5/14): revised again. Cleaned up certain plot points, grammar that I missed from before, and adjusted the Author's Notes. This is the last time I should have to touch this ever again. May Fate have mercy on me.]