• Published 7th Feb 2012
  • 18,442 Views, 657 Comments

Displaced - Seven Fates

A unicorn colt has an accident, and nopony knows him. His wild claims go widely ignored until...

  • ...

Chapter 19

Wishing he’d commissioned a pair of shoes or boots from Rarity, Warren spat onto the sole of his right foot. When he’d thrown himself down out of the way of a blast of fire, one of his feet had stuck up in the air, getting blasted with a painful burn. Sitting in the center of the pier, he vigorously rubbed the saliva into the burn—drawing a look of disgust from Rarity—hoping what he’d once heard about licking wounds was true.

“I can’t believe your shouting didn’t wake that... thing!” Rainbow Dash whispered irately. “Are you trying to get us killed?”

“I don’t know about you ponies, Dash, but humans have panic reflexes, which can include shouting.” He looked over the group. Everypony seemed to be sporting some sort of singing to their manes. “I also have an aversion to being on fire: something I’m sure you can relate to.”

Pinkie Pie stood beside him, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Her mane was surprisingly flat and straight for a change, only smoking at the tips. “Twilight knows all about being on fire.” Pinkie giggled softly. “She’s caught fire at least twice since I’ve known her.”

He gaped at her. Surely she knew that joking was the last thing she should be doing at a time like this. Then again, he had to remind himself that this was Pinkie Pie: the Element of Laughter. The party pony looked like she was dead serious, too. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

As he stared at Pinkie, he began to notice movement out on the harbor. A single ship pulled into the bay at a decent clip. It looked like some sort of aircraft carrier but seemed rather short. Is this some sort of late reinforcement to the fleet? Heck, we should probably get this done before they have time to get any fighters out. There’s been enough loss of life today.

“Uh-huh... Anyway...” He turned to face Twilight Sparkle, who was returning the jeweled coronet—the Element of Magic—to her crest. “We should probably get going...there’s a boat coming into the harbor, and I’m pretty sure it has fighter aircraft on board. I’d rather we don’t get caught up in the crossfire. I’m not sure how much your magic would stand up to the cannons on a fighter jet, and I’m not keen on finding out.

“... and I’m no genius, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be easy getting around that Discord dragon thing beneath what used to be the Statue of Liberty. Do we have a plan?”

The purple unicorn cast a quick glance up to the creature beneath the statue. “I’m not sure what has happened to Discord, or how Morrigan changed him, but I think the Elements of Harmony should still have an effect on him.” Her voice didn’t match the confidence she exuded. “Somehow I don’t think it’ll be that simple, though. Princess Luna, do you have any ideas?”

Everybody in the group turned toward the dark blue Alicorn looking for guidance. Instead of speaking, however, the Princess merely stared in a mix of disgust and horror. Warren looked furtively to the statue, and then back to Princess Luna. There was something about it that was familiar, but he couldn’t place his finger on it. The figure was a menacing looking Alicorn sneering down at Manhattan and the harbor, her horn glowing a dark blue. Everypony, following his lead, also looked to the statue. A dark air filled the group.

“Is there something wrong?” Warren asked, again glancing back to the Alicorn statue. “Princess Luna? Is that...”

He could see the beginnings of tears welling up in her eyes, but to Princess Luna’s credit, she looked him right in the eye. “Yes,” she said softly with a profound sadness clear in her voice. “That is a statue of what I once was, corrupted by the Nightmare. I’m not proud of it, but I cannot deny that it did happen.

“That isn’t what I was focused on, however.” Her voice had taken on a bleakness that chilled Warren’s bones. “On the pedestal with the statue, there is a small cage. There is—” She choked, either unwilling or unable to continue. “—only one pony inside.”

A mix fear and concern filled the group. Both Rarity and Applejack exchanged devastated looks towards one another. Even Rainbow Dash had lost her arrogant demeanor at the implication. Warren felt his stomach plummet.

Slamming his fist down into the pier, he grunted in anger. “Damn it all to hell!” He wanted to scream to the world, but all that came out was a choked growl of rage. “We’re too late! We’re too goddamn late!”

Twilight stepped forth, placing a gentle hoof on his shoulder. “You don’t know that for sure! There could be more cages elsewhere. There-”

Warren shrugged her hoof off and rose to his feet. The pain of the burn was nothing to the seething agony that was tearing through his stomach. “You seven worry about Discord,” he said grimly, hobbling a few steps forward. “I’m going to see about freeing whoever it is up there...”

“But Goldenrod...” Fluttershy squeaked.

“No!” he intoned sharply. It was harsher than he intended, so he cast an apologetic glance towards the timid pegasus mare. “No, Fluttershy. You six have to be together to deal with that monster up there. You’re the only ones who can do anything, and I know you’ll need Princess Luna’s help as well... Where I’m going, there’s a good chance I’ll be meeting Morrigan...” In his mind, he added, and if I do see her, I’m going to make sure she pays. “In case I don’t make it... Thanks for everything, Fluttershy.”

Warren limped off towards the island end of the pier, never looking back. He hoped they would never have to see whatever had happened to the two fillies who hadn’t made it. More so, he was itching to give the Draconequus witch a piece of his mind. Without a doubt he stood no chance, but if he could free the surviving Crusader, maybe—just maybe—God wouldn’t completely forsake him.

- - -

The aircraft sitting before him was a mess. The entire outer hull of the aircraft was charred, melted, and even disintegrated in spots. If Warren hadn’t had an acquaintance in the armed forces, he’d probably never have recognized this burned up hulk as a V-22 Osprey. He could see clear into the troop bay from the side, where the fallen soldiers were strewn about outside the craft, either flung from the troop bay in the crash landing and killed outright, or falling victim to injuries sustained in the crash not long after.

It wasn’t hard to guess what had happened to it. In his mind, he could picture the dragon-like maw of Discord’s new form spewing a ball of fire toward the oncoming aircraft. The pilot would have taken evasive maneuvers, but it probably wouldn’t have been enough. The fireball erupted along the side of the craft, burning through the aircraft’s carapace and probably vital avionics. The aircraft would have lost control, and crashed, probably spilling its human cargo shortly before impact, wedging itself into one of the points to the statue pedestal’s base at an awkward angle.

A sound from within the craft jerked him out of his mental replay. Was that a radio? Climbed into the troop bay from where the ramp should have been, and grimaced as he found the floor plates were still hot to the touch. It wasn’t blistering hot, but it was painful hot at any rate. He crawled across the floor as best as he could, and made his way for the cockpit.

Again, he heard the noise. An electronic squelching noise was blasting from the fallen headset of one of the deceased pilots. He thought he could make out a voice. Tentatively, he reached out for it, and put it on.

In between mixed static, he could make out a woman’s voice repeating a call. “-Wasp, any U.S. forces please respond. I repeat, this is the USS Wasp-”

Warren positioned the microphone in front of his face, hoping that the tech was voice activated. “Hello? Is this thing working?”

“Finally, an answer. Oh-” The voice over the radio sounded relieved, until they realized that had just gone out over the airway. “Give me a sit-rep, soldier. What happened here?”

“Sorry to say I’m no soldier, ma’am.” he said flatly. “The entire crew of this Osprey died in the crash here on Liberty Island.”

There was dead air for a long while. Clearly the comm officer was consulting a superior officer regarding the situation. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the aircraft, and leave everything—”

He actually laughed at the woman’s command. “The way I see it, even if there were anything of any use to me on this wreck, there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Between your boat and this wreck is a giant fire-breathing dragon monster—something I’m sure you folks heard over the radio as the rest of that fleet was slaughtered—that wants nothing more than to spread chaos across this world.”

The comm officer on the Wasp went silent again, either biting back a scathing remark or again consulting her superiors. “I’m going to ask you once more to vacate the vessel and clear the airwaves, sir.”

“Sure thing,” he scoffed. “I just wanted to let you know that if your boat is carrying any fighters to save yourselves the trouble and keep them grounded. If you can’t, at least tell them not to fire on any colorful ponies they see. They’re the good guys.”

To his surprise, the lady on the other end of the radio actually started laughing. “Wow, you had me going for a second, sir. I understand it must seem like the end of the world but this is no time to be getting drunk—or high—and hacking military radio channels for a laugh.”

Warren peered through the cockpit windscreen. He could just make out the draconic form of Discord rise up and fly off. He thought he could make out a rainbow blur shoot past the statue. “Well, I suppose you’ll find out soon enough. Just remember this when your pilots start talking about a rainbow-maned pegasus shooting past their cockpits at super-sonic speeds, make sure to pass on my message not to fire. I’d kind of like my friends whole when we go back to our world.”

Slamming the headset down on the console, he strode out of the cockpit. The naval officer hadn’t taken him the least bit seriously, not that he blamed her. It was his hope that if the time came, there wouldn’t be a tragedy as a result of her ignorance. At least with Discord off chasing Dash, the cage beneath the statue was unguarded.

With a shaky jump, Warren jumped out of the troop bay and back onto the body-strewn ground. He wished he was able to check the dog-tags of each soldier, and place a coin in the mouths of the Christians. Sure, it wasn’t a common thing among Christians now, but it would have been a good show of respect. He thought it should have surely made up for what he was about to do out of necessity.

- - -

“Twilight, are you sure one of us shouldn’t go with him?” Rainbow Dash asked, eyeing Goldenrod’s back as he walked away. “He looks like he’s committed himself to death.”

Twilight Sparkle sighed and looked down. “He probably won’t be making it back to Equestria,” she said sadly, and then smiled. “He knows it, and he knows we know too. That’s why he’s not going to hold himself back. He needs to do this for himself, and for the girls. That being said, he is the most resilient pony I’ve ever known. If anypony can find a way to make the impossible possible, he’s as good a candidate as any.”

“At the very least, sugar-cube, we should give him a chance to succeed,” Applejack said, tears in her eyes. “That fella’s dedicated himself to the girls, it’s only right we be doin’ the same, even if it means puttin’ our necks on the line.”

Twilight looked from Applejack to Rainbow Dash, and then to the rest of the group. Everypony nodded at her in unison, reflecting the sentiment, including the Princess and Fluttershy. They hadn’t known him long, but all of them had seen something good in him worth helping. Twilight returned the nod to the group.

Pausing to collect her thoughts, the unicorn scholar stared up at the Nightmare Moon statue and Discord beneath it. If Discord was still there when Goldenrod arrived, it would be the end of the line for him. No, they needed to get the draconic Avatar of Chaos away from the statue before the human got there. They needed a plan.

“Rainbow Dash, I know it’s dangerous, but we need to get Discord away from there. Could you take him on a short tour of the city below?” The cerulean pegasus brought a hoof up to the side of her head in a salute. “The rest of us are going to make our way around the other side of the statue; the island looked a lot bigger from below, so surely there’s more to it than just the statue. If it comes down to it, I'd rather we have more room to defend ourselves.”

“Take care of yerself, Rainbow Dash,” Applejack said, turning to face the bearer of the Element of Loyalty. “Don’t ya go doin’ anythin’ to get yerself killed, ya hear?”

“You have my word,” Rainbow Dash replied solemnly, understanding the unspoken implication of Applejack’s message. There’s been enough loss already. She half-smiled and said, “You won’t even know I was gone.”

The remaining five bearers of the Elements of Harmony and Princess Luna didn’t wait to watch as Rainbow Dash took flight. They knew that the more time they spent waiting on the dock, the bigger the risk to Rainbow Dash would be. With great haste, the group galloped off the pier onto the island proper.

- - -

Rainbow Dash felt a surge of adrenaline as she soared towards the statue. It was unmistakably, undeniably Nightmare Moon, but she couldn’t help but wonder why Discord hadn’t made the statue a replica of himself. With Morrigan in charge, however, he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so. Could Discord even use his magic in the form he was in now?

“Hey, Discord!” she shouted down at the draconic monstrosity below. “Come get me, you lame excuse for a villain!”

Discord looked up, his yellow-red eyes locking on her, and let loose a feral roar. To Rainbow Dash’s horror, the slavering maw of the dragon was being caressed hungrily by a serpentine tongue. She had his attention, she realized with a sickening chill filling her gullet. Unsure whether being on the dinner menu would be a step above or below being incinerated, she cringed away and took off.

It didn’t take her long to determine that Discord had given chase; there were plenty of hints when she felt her tail being singed by his snorts. Not bothering to cast a glance to verify his position, she yawed off toward the nearest edge of the floating island. As soon as she cleared the edge, she pitched downward sharply, aimed almost directly at the streets below.

Boulders dropped behind her, knocked loose as Discord clipped the edge. The falling debris gave her no other option than to pitch upward to fly parallel by the street by the time she was level with the tops of the skyscrapers. As much as she’d have liked having more of the buildings to use as cover, should the dragon lose his patience and decide to incinerate her, having some cover was far better than having none at all.

Expertly weaving in and out between the skyscrapers, Rainbow Dash allowed herself a moment to indulge in the memory of the Best Young Fliers competition that she had participated in years before. Her routine hadn’t been all that different, and all of the maneuvers involved would definitely be a help in losing Discord down here.

The sound of an explosion erupted behind her. At first she’d thought Discord was simply crashing through the buildings instead of maneuvering around them like she was, but when she chanced a glance over her shoulder, she saw a fiery blossom burst outward from the side of a building, followed soon after by another explosion closer behind her.

It occurred to her for a split second to observe what was happening behind her, but that thought was quickly dashed as Discord came roaring out of the smoke and falling debris, two strange things flying after him. Are those what Goldenrod meant by fighter jets?

She didn’t have time to ponder the fact too much. A pair of projectiles streaked out from beneath the wings of the pursuing aircraft, missing Discord completely. Again, explosions erupted close behind her as the projectiles struck nearby buildings. She could only imagine what one of those would do to her, and she would rather not find out for certain. It was time for phase two.

Slipping into a modified form of the second phase of her routine, Rainbow Dash looped around the nearest building, and not a moment too soon. She’d barely made a sharp left when she felt the exhaust of the missile singeing off more of her tail. A few more turns, and she was racing in the opposite direction of her initial turn, Discord and the fighters still hot on her tail.

Again and again, she repeated the pattern, increasing in speed until a cloverleaf pattern rainbow was almost completely visible from the island above. Still, for every straightaway she pulled ahead in, Discord still somehow made up for it in the corners. She didn’t understand how he could be so fast. Nothing is as fast as me!

Rainbow Dash swallowed anxiously, and said aloud to herself, “Time for phase three: the Sonic Rainboom!”

The pegasus mare veered upwards on the next straightaway, climbing higher and higher with every beat of her wings, Discord and company keeping pace. She flew until she was as high as the clouds, surprised at how much higher the clouds on Earth were, and then leveled out for a few moments until she was sure the dragon and his tailing opponents were as high as she was. It’s time!

Angling herself down towards the floating island, Rainbow Dash flew harder and harder, gaining even more speed. She flinched as she felt something whiz past her head and then again beneath her. Those jets were firing something at Discord and missing, almost hitting her! Despite the drag it caused, she chances one final glance over her shoulder. There were more missiles, and they were all chasing after her, having missed the Dragon.

She began to corkscrew as more and more of the high-speed projectiles whizzed by her, one coming so close as to burn a furrow through her mane. This was getting crazy and far more dangerous than she’d ever imagined. Soon enough, she found herself fighting against the sonic barrier. Somehow, her corkscrew maneuver was making fighting it easier.

Punching through the sound barrier, she let out a scream of triumph. “Who’s awesome? I am!”

Close behind her, the missiles impacted the wake of the sonic rainboom, and exploded. Her scream of triumph became one of agony as the concussive force of the explosion reached her, sending her hurtling out of control. Something inside of her broke, and it was making flying impossible.

The floating island was coming up, faster and faster in front of her, and she couldn’t move one of her wings. Air-braking would be impossible. Closing her eyes, she whispered a silent prayer to Princess Celestia, and an apology to her friends. I’ve doomed us all.

The familiar embrace of a magical field wrapped itself around Rainbow Dash, slowing her to a stop, before gently lowering her to the ground. She wrenched her eyes open as her hooves settled on the ground, and to her delight, she saw Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and Princess Luna had worked in unison to save her. She smiled weakly before letting her legs collapse like rubber beneath her.

- - -

Warren looked grimly at his feet one last time before he scrambled atop the charred wreckage of the downed Osprey. He knew it was wrong—even ghoulish—to loot the bodies of fallen soldiers, but he knew they had supplies they’d need. Well, I don’t need the boots, but it’ll make things a whole lot easier, especially if I’m going to be fighting. He had to admit, standing on the warped surface of the VTOL’s wing at this angle was a heck of a lot easier with combat boots on.

He counted himself lucky that the aircraft had crashed in such an awkward position. It made it much easier for him to scale the wall than to run around to the back of the statue and up the first flight stairs. It’ll be far less tiring, he thought. Slowly but surely, he inched his way up to the rotor/propeller, where the blades had snapped off. Luckily, it was locked in an upright position.

As he clambered onto the damaged aircraft part, he was painfully reminded of the other objects on his personage—ones that he had borrowed from the dead soldiers—as they pressed into his back and side. Even from the highest tier of the pedestal, he would still need something to get up to where the caged filly was; he’d appropriated a length of rappelling cable and a grapnel from one soldier’s kit. It was coiled around his torso, with the hook tucked safely in the sash-belt that Rarity had crafted. From the soldier he’d gotten the combat boots from, he’d borrowed a combat knife and promptly tucked it in the sash as well.

Then he'd noticed one of the pilots had a nice custom-finish revolver tucked in his hip-holster; it probably wasn’t standard issue. He’d never held a firearm before, let alone fired one, but he didn’t know what he could be facing. It could very well be that it could be just what he needed to get the drop on that damned Draconequus. If nothing else, it could act as a very big, very dangerous key. He initially thought of tucking it in the back of his pants, but realized that was begging for an accident, and quickly tucked it into the sash as well.

Breathing one heavy breath, Warren leapt from the wing, and grabbed hold of the edge of the pedestal building. With a bit of luck, and help on the part of the boots, he managed to pull himself up over the edge. Looking up, he saw Nightmare Moon sneering out at the harbor. From here, he could make out the colors of the caged filly. Simultaneously, glee and sorrow filled his heart. Scootaloo had made it! At the same time, he knew that meant that Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were gone.

Adrenaline surged through his veins, riding on the waves of anger. He ran around the back of the statue, and quickly found the steps up to the higher levels. The way he ascended couldn’t be called running so much as it was leaping. The love he felt for the fillies and the rage he felt at their loss was fueling acrobatic feats he couldn’t have dreamed of otherwise.

For all the feats his body was performing, leaping straight up a wall was still beyond him. Heaving slightly from the exertion, he uncoiled the line from over his shoulder, and took the grapnel in one hand. This was something else he’d never done before, but he understood the concept perfectly. Spinning the cord at his side, he let the centripetal force carry the three pronged hook up the wall and towards the statue. The first time around, he didn’t quite make it, but that was to be expected. The second time, he was treated to a satisfying clatter and felt the line go taut.

Up above, there was a massive explosion. Turning his head upwards, he saw a rainbow exploding out from a single point. Instead of radiating out like a ripple on a pond—this was how the Crusaders had described it—he saw it spiraling out like some sort of whirlpool. At the center of it, he noticed a series of smaller fiery blossoms. What looked like a rainbow bullet was streaking down toward the island from the center of the rainbow spiral.

Not giving things a second thought, he climbed the cord until he was beneath Nightmare Moon’s raised hindquarters. There, resting beneath the statue’s chin, just like Princess Luna had said, was the cage. He counted his blessings and let out a small sob of glee, rousing the filly from a daze. She turned away from the display, and locked her eyes on him.

“Goldenrod, I’m so glad to see you!” she squealed, on the verge of tears. “Listen, we don’t have much time! Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle—”

“Yeah, I know,” he cut in, his voice cracking. “Let’s get you out of there. You might want to back up into that corner of the cage.” He walked around the cage, so that the door was in front of him. Sure enough, it was secured by a simple padlock mechanism. “This is probably going to be very loud, so cover your ears.”

As soon as the filly had brought up her hooves to cover her ears, he shot the lock off of the cage, the revolver bucked against his grip and causing discomfort in his wrist. He pulled the door open, using his free hand to tuck the revolver back into his sash, and grabbed the filly. Wrapping his arms around her, he hugged her close. “I’m sorry for scaring you. I didn’t want you to think I was dead, honest.”

Scootaloo pushed away from him. “We have to get out of here. That thing that Morrigan made to guard me is going to be back at any minute.” She sounded truly panicked and horrified. “We have to go, now!”

“Okay, hold on.” He scooped her up one-handed and held her close to his chest. Grabbing the rappelling cord, he slid down the wall. “We just need to—”

A growling beneath them caused him to stop partway down the wall. Looking down, he saw a large two-headed beast. Its body was a mottled of pale light-gray olive and white fur. Its faces were vaguely equine. The manes were a bright red and a light pink and grayish mulberry respectively. It was the eyes that really got to them. Each head boasted one brilliant gamboge eye, and one sap-green eye.

“Oh Apple Bloom... Sweetie Belle...” he whispered, losing his grip on the line. “What has she done to you?”

They fell.