Pain. For a few agonizing seconds, pain was the only thing that existed in the universe for the unlucky living meteor. While the pain didn't lessen, the creature became aware of the sound of dirt and dust falling down on him. Shaking his head, he tried to rise on his legs, and succeeded to an extent, before falling backward and landing on his back.
What the hell is going on... He thought. The noise of hooves and voices were starting to make their way toward him. Turning over and pushing himself up seemed like the sensible thing to do.
Let's see if my arms work. Still on his back, he tried to move his arms but froze at the sight on his chest. It was a bulgy thick cloth sack, with the straps tied uncomfortably tight on his back. It had a small opening at the top, and as he looked into it a small feathered head popped out and looked at him curiously.
"Ah! What the shit!" He cried out and tried to scrambled away but, in his fright, failed to realize the smaller creature was tied to his body, so it came along with him. After about fifteen feet and an unholy amount of cursing, the meteor tried to rip off the straps. He expected it to be hard, but it sliced apart and fell off of him with relative ease. Never one to question good fortune, he began to bolt with a two-legged gait. He only took three strides before falling flat on his face. Turning over, he saw whatever that thing was begin to wiggle out of the cloth sack. It stretched and let out a cute yawn. The meteor suddenly felt very foolish.
Wait. I'm not a meteor. I'm a guy. Then why the fuck did I fall from the sky? And live? The 'guy' wondered. The little creature looked at him, ignored the colorful ponies that had gathered around them, and started to walk toward him. It looked like some weird hybrid between an eagle and a lion...
A Griffon! That's what it is! Read about them in a book back when.....back when.... Why the hell can't I remember anything!?
The little griffon suddenly tripped over itself and fell on the ground, it began to tear up.
"Hey, hey, don't cry." The guy said warmly, he didn't know why, but he felt that he was responsible for the small thing. It could barely walk so he assumed it was only a child. It sat back on its feline haunches and reached out to him with deceptively sharp talons. Despite the flesh-cutting digits on the little griffon, the guy went to pick up the chick. Wait, or would it be the cub? He didn't finish his thought process as he took a look at his own hands. Or what his hands had become. They were the same as the little chick's, he decided it was a chick not a cub, although his talons were larger. Much larger.
"There is no God damned way..." Talon-handed man said to himself incredulously. Looking down at himself, he saw that he was almost a carbon copy of the tiny griffon, though differently colored. He couldn't remember much of anything before he crashed in... wherever he was, but he knew, for a fact he was a human.
Apparently not. The non-human thought. He knew he used to be human, but having no specific memories being one somewhat lessened the shock that he was now a griffon.
"First thing's first though." He said to the smaller griffon as he picked it up, "C'mere, what's your name littl-" His words cutting off as he took a good look into its eyes. He knew who this was. The chick just smiled and hugged him tight around the neck.
It was too much for his mind to process at once. He needed a place to lay down and think, and he still hurt all over. Finally noticing the large crowd of silent ponies, he began to look pleadingly at them. Part of his brain wanted to say it was ridiculous to try to acquire help from pastel-colored equines, but hell, he just made a yard-deep crater in God knows where and crawled out a completely different species. Pretty little ponies weren't too much of a shocker after that.
One pony began to shove her way through the crowd and faced the griffon. He just looked at her. She looks smart, all the others got out of her way, so she must be important, and she's lavender. The last trait didn't seem relevant but it was appealing.
"Um. Hello? Are you alright?" She said curiously.
"Hey. And no. I'm not. I have no idea what the hell is going on. Do you think you can help me? I mean, us?" The griffon replied, holding the smaller one tight.
"Oh my, yes, of course. You both can come with me to the library, and my name is Twilight Sparkle." The lavender unicorn said, starting to lead the two outsiders through the still silent crowd, "What's your chick's name? Is she your daughter?"
Ha! I knew it was chick. "Nice to meet you Twilight Sparkle. It may sound weird, but I don't know her name, and no, she's not my daughter....."
The unicorn looked back at him. tilting her head slightly.
"She's my sister."
"So, you don't remember anything? Not even your name?" Twilight said, levitating a small cup of tea to her lips.
"Nope. I've been trying. Though my name isn't too important, it's hers. I can't just keep calling my sister 'chick' or 'little one', but I have no idea what her name is."
The tiny griffon had been put into a small bed upstairs and fell asleep. The unicorn said it was her assistant's bed and he wouldn't mind.
"Well, we need something to call you Mister." Twilight said, starting to look at her bookshelves, "I have a book with some names in it you can look at, you can just look through it and-"
"Oh! Oh! I know!" exclaimed a pink pony who somehow emerged from the bookshelf, showering Twilight in books.
The fuck...? Was all the griffon thought as the pink one put her face uncomfortably close to his and began to incessantly talk. He could barely keep up with the words she was saying.
Oh. She's trying to think of a name... He began to shake his head at all of her ridiculous suggestions. Smashy, Feathery, Comet-y, and Griffon-y, among others, wouldn't make good names. Even if they did, he didn't want them.
"Pinkie Pie!" The lavender unicorn yelled, shaking books off of herself, "Those names won't do!"
They certainly won't.
"Why don't you just call him 'Hawk'?" came a voice from the library window. Everyone in the room looked up toward the source of the voice.
"Hey Rainbow Dash," Twilight said, "Where'd you come up with that?"
The cyan mare stretched lazily in the window sill, "I've seen griffons before Twi, most are brown and white, some are black and brown. I've never seen one who was all brown."
It was true, the outsider was definitely brown. His feathers were a much darker brown than his coat, but still brown. Not like his little sister, who looked like a "normal" griffon by Rainbow Dash's description.
"So," The pegasus continued, "It almost doesn't even look like he's half eagle, it's like he's a hawk."
Twilight sighed at Dash, turning her egghead mode ON, "Rainbow, you do know that there are plenty of species of eagles who are brown, they aren't all white or-"
"It's okay Twilight Sparkle, I kind of like the name. I think I'll take it." Hawk said, thinking of himself as 'meteor guy' was getting annoying.
"Yes! Rainbow Dash: 1, Twilight: Zero!" cheered the pegasus, "So, Hawk, why don't we go over names for the little griffon?"
"No thanks ma'am," Hawk said politely, "I'll come up with hers myself, but thank you for the name."
Rainbow Dash just shrugged and continued to lay down in the window.
"So Mister Hawky-Hawk, whatcha gonna call your sis? Huh? Huh? Huh?" Pinkie Pie got in his face again.
"Uhhhh...." Hawk droned, putting a talon softly on Pinkie's face and slowly pushing her back. Her face didn't change at all, she still looked at him, expected an answer, "Give me a few minutes Pinkie Pie."
The griffon sat down and began to think. How could he name his sister? That was his parents' job. But they weren't here, and even if they did name her, Hawk couldn't remember. He knew two things though, if he over thinks it, he'll never come up with one, and that he wanted it to be one syllable. Why? He was sometimes lazy to a fault. These ponies just gave him the name of an animal, it kind of matched him.
So what matches my sister? Hawk thought. He shrugged and mentally said, Fuck it.
"I'll call her Pup."
The two ponies at ground level, who had busied themselves with putting back the fallen books while he sat down, looked at him askance.
Twilight was the first to speak, "Why 'Pup'?"
"Well, Rainbow Dash came up with Hawk because of the way I look. Have you taken a look at my sister? She's really cute for a bundle of feathers. Puppies are cute, and I like the sound of 'Pup'."
"Then why don't you call her 'Cub'?" Rainbow Dash said, landing on the floor from her window. "She's more of a lion than a dog."
"I like the sound of Pup."
"I like the sound of Pup." Hawk repeated for the third time.
"Me too!!!!" The pink one said, "Pup, Pup, Pup, Pup, Pup, Pup, Pup, woof!" She giggled along with Hawk.
As if on cue, Pup woke up and began to attempt walk down the stairs, trying to get to where she heard the sound of her brother's voice.
"Shit!" Hawk cursed as he saw she was about to stumble down the stairs, why would he put a child who could barely walk on a second story floor? Stupid! He started to run toward the stairs, but Pup had already stumbled and began to fall. She tried to flap her wings, it held her in the air longer than she should have been, but she quickly got tired and her descent continued. Despite the danger in a child falling down stairs, her useless wing flapping was kind of cute.
With horror, Hawk realized he wouldn't be able to catch Pup before she hit the ground. Nevertheless, he dove for her, coming up short, but before she hit the ground a streak of rainbow swooped her up. Slamming on the edges of the stairs, Hawk winced, but he didn't care, he just looked to where his sister was taken.
Rainbow Dash had carefully set her down on the library floor next to Twilight and Pinkie. Pup was giggling and jumping around, obviously excited over the fun ride she just had.
Kids never understand the danger of stairs!!! He thought running toward Pup. Fighting the urge to pick her up, he let her continue to bounce around with Pinkie Pie, not wanting to ruin her fun. Turning to Rainbow Dash, he smiled.
"Give me a name and save my sister within an hour? You're really awesome, you know that?"
The pegasus struck a pose and put a hoof to her chest, "Heh, it's what I do best." She said, giving him a wink.
"Don't let it all get to your head again Dash." Twilight chided.
"Maybe my awesome glands are just too awesome and I can't help it!"
Hawk chuckled and walked up the stairs while Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle argued over the existence of 'awesome glands'. Twilight stating they don't exist in pony anatomy, and Dash saying that the librarian just isn't awesome enough to have them. Pup had taken to riding on Pinkie's head while she bounced around the room.
He was exhausted. The pain had dulled considerably, but he still felt the need to lay down. He had second thoughts about leaving Pup with the three of them while he slept, but he thought better of it. Although he's only known them for a short time, he trusted the three ponies. It was something about them, like they were devoid of ulterior motives. Hawk made his way to the guest bed and pulled the blanket over himself. The sound of Rainbow Dash and Twilight arguing, and Pinkie giggling with Pup was strangely relaxing. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Hawk groggily opened his eyes. Looking out the window, he saw it was well into nighttime. Glancing at the bed across his own, he saw the blanketed mound that had to be Twilight, was fast asleep. Pup was nuzzled up next to him, and he raised an eyebrow when he looked in the small bed on the floor and saw a tiny purple dragon.
A pony who keeps a possibly fire-breathing dragon in a library. Interesting.
He knew it'd be best if he stayed in bed, he didn't want to wake anybody, but being wide awake, he couldn't lie still. That and all of his muscles felt cramped and sore. He slid as carefully as he could out of the bed, replacing himself for a pillow for Pup to hold onto. The griffon tip-toed downstairs and made his way to the door. Cringing as the wooden door made a loud creaking noise, he dashed outside.
The night air was refreshingly cold. Every breathe in seemed like it purified his lungs. Hawk began to walk around the town, mostly all of the lights had gone out and nobody was outside.
Good. I can take a look around without anyone gawking at-
"Hey! Finally decide to get up?"
Hawk jumped at the sudden voice, and spun around. It was Rainbow Dash.
"Rainbow Dash, what are you doing up so late?"
"I could say the same for you, but I take a lot of naps during the day, so sometimes I get a bit restless at night."
That makes sense. "Well, I remember falling asleep a few hours ago then I woke up and felt like getting some fresh air."
The pegasus looked at him in disbelief, "Hawk, you were asleep for a few days. You must've really been tuckered out.. Pup wouldn't leave your side."
Days!? Suddenly, Hawk felt like a black hole had opened in his stomach and it was eating him from the inside. He needed food.
Dash seemed to notice and chuckled at his expense, "Hungry huh? All of the restaurants and shops are closed, but..." She stopped, hesitating, "..I've got some food at my house if you want some."
A female asks him to come to her house late at night. The implications and consequences of which never crossed Hawk's mind. He only heard one thing: Food at my house if you want some.
"Hell yeah!" He yelled, louder than he wanted to. A couple of the lights from nearby houses turned on.
"Hehe, okay. Follow me!" The cyan pony told him before flying away from the town. Hawk began to run in the direction she went. After about five minutes of running in the darkness, Rainbow Dash flew right in front of him.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to find your bloody house," Hawk said panting. It was much more comfortable running with four limbs, but he barely ever ran so he wasn't in the best shape, "it isn't underground is it? Because all I see out here is grass and bushes."
Rainbow Dash gave him a "seriously dude?" kind of look.
"My house is up there," she explained pointing straight up, "See those clouds? Those."
"You live in clouds?"
"How is that even possible?"
"Where have you been all this time Hawk?"
"..I don't know..."
"Oh, right.." Rainbow Dash said, feeling a little bad. She landed next to Hawk. "C'mon, just fly on up, you'll see."
Fly...yeah, about that.
"Um, Rainbow Dash, a little help?" Hawk said while flapping his wings, attempting to lift himself up.
"Wow, you really did forget a lot. You're doing it wrong, look, do it like this." She said, while slowly demonstrating the proper technique. It involved bringing up your wings at an angle and then changing it on the down-thrust to generate lift, all the while making sure your wings were perfectly synchronized and your weight was distributed right. Although awkward at first, Hawk began to get the hang of the wing movements.
"There you go! I'll help you up." She said, taking his talons in her hooves as she slowly flew up to her cloud home. Hawk, flapping his own wings, took his own weight for the most part.
Twilight said Rainbow Dash could be cocky and confrontational sometimes, I don't see it. She's really nice!
He felt how high he was getting and opted to not look down. After a few more seconds, they landed on something solid.
I'm standing on a cloud. Hawk decided a while ago some things just weren't going to make sense for him for a while. Rainbow Dash disappeared into the house and came out with a small basket made of clouds that was holding a variety of fruit. Hawk snatched an apple and ate the whole thing in three bites. The whole thing. Seeds and stem. He didn't care as he gorged himself on more fruit.
Soon enough, the basket was empty and the cyan pegasus just had an amused look on her face.
"So Hawk, since you were asleep for so long, we didn't get to tell you, we're all going to Appleloosa in a week to support Applejack's cousin Braeburn in their first Iron Pony Contest."
Who the hell is Applejack?
"Um. Okay. What does this have to do with me?" Hawk asked.
"Well, we want you to come. You haven't met even Applejack, Fluttershy or Rarity yet! It's the perfect chance to get to know them. Besides, Twi said she wanted to keep an eye on you and Pup."
"Oh, I'd be glad to." Even if he wasn't, he couldn't really say no to any of his new friends after they'd been taking care of him and Pup with nothing in return. The pegasus let out a contagious yawn, and soon Hawk was yawning as well.
"You wouldn't happen to have a spare bed would you?"
"No...actually I only have one bed. It's pretty big though, I mean..." The rainbow pegasus said hesitatingly.
"It's fine!" The amnesic griffon said, "Your entire house is cloud, I'll just sleep on the floor, it'll be much better than Twilight's bed."
"O-okay," The pegasus said quietly, "Goodnight Hawk."
"Night Dash!!!" He said happily before plopping down on the floor, falling asleep.
For what seemed like the thousandth time, Hawk tried to remember his name. His true name. His human name. And as always, it escaped him. He let out a sigh and turned away from the train window, green grass and tall trees were beginning to give way to the arid dust and rocks. The locomotive had departed from Ponyville a day ago and was headed toward the frontier town of Appleloosa.
This is torture. He thought.
The week before departing Ponyville he mostly spent in the library or the sky around Rainbow Dash's house. Twilight didn't mind Pup staying over, but Hawk didn't want to feel like he was mooching off Twilight, so he tended to sleep on lone clouds above the library or on Rainbow Dash's floor. During the days, when he wasn't taking care of Pup, he was with Rainbow Dash, practicing his flying.
Over the week he thought he had become quite good at it. He couldn't go as fast as Dash, but almost nobody could, he heard. Flying was something he couldn't wait to teach Pup, he never wanted to give it up, the feeling of gliding through the air was unlike anything he'd ever experienced.
Still unable to remember anything specific to his human life, he didn't miss it. He knew humans couldn't fly, which sucked, he had Pup with him, and he was a griffon now, so all was well.
Across him a Twilight was lost in one of her many books. In the other side of the train car, a timid yellow pegasus was looking out the window. Whenever she glanced at Hawk she made a little whimpering noise and shrank a little. Rainbow Dash told Hawk she'd explain to him why Fluttershy was scared of him. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, to break the silence but closed his mouth instead, his teeth making an audible click. The unicorn glanced at him and arched an eyebrow, an awkward smirk from Hawk was all she received before she went back to reading.
Twilight Sparkle was one of the nicest ponies Hawk encountered since his crash-landing in Ponyville two months prior. She and her friends were the only ones who didn't look at him with suspicion.
"There's just rumors of something going on. It doesn't involve you, so don't worry about them." Twilight had told him. It didn't help that that trio of flowery mares always tended to freak out whenever he tried talking to them. Hawk didn't look that frightening did he? He didn't think so.
But despite her benevolence toward Hawk, he got to know her well enough to not disturb her when she was so focused on reading. So Hawk settled with resting his talon on the table between him and Twilight, lightly drumming them, staring blankly out the window, and getting lost in his thoughts.
Two weeks had never seemed so long. He had forgotten almost everything about himself. Who he was, what his family looked like, he didn't even know if he had any family besides Pup. The names of his friends... He couldn't remember the names of anyone back home, not even his sister's. It made him feel bad, but Pup was a pretty nice name. She seemed to take to it pretty well.
The very loud and ornery throat-clearing of Twilight interrupted Hawk's train of thought.
The look Twilight gave him could have set damp leaves ablaze. He coughed and realized the sharp, rhythmic clacking of his talons on the hardwood tabletop, was extremely bothersome.
"Sorry Twilight. Forgot myself. Won't happen again."
The unicorn's fiery look softened at his apology, "It's fine, just try to keep it down?"
"No problem. I'll leave you be, it's about time I checked on Pup. Make sure she isn't bouncing off the walls, you know how Pinkie likes to give her sweets." Hawk chuckled.
"Be careful in there!" Twilight said with mock gravity, smiling as she bid him farewell for now.
The dark griffon opened the car door, the sound of the train going over the rails filling his ears. He opened the next car door and walked in to the car the ponies were staying in. It was surprisingly quiet. Rainbow Dash was taking a nap, no surprise there. Pinkie and Applejack had to be in the caboose. Rarity was laying down on her bed, fiddling with some fabrics.
Hawk had a feeling Rarity didn't want him near her. She was nice enough when they first met, but after that she hadn't spoken to him as much as the others. Hawk didn't really care. Now where was Pup?
A small lump starting moving under Rainbow Dash's blanket and Pup's head poked out from the edge of it. She didn't see her big brother, but she did spot the colorful pieces of cloth Rarity was fooling around with. She stealthily crawled along the floor until she made her way to the edge of the dressmaker's bed, and began to inspect the fabrics that were hanging over. With her talons.
The white unicorn suddenly noticed the sound of cloth tearing over her humming and screamed when she realized what was happening.
"Goodness!! What are you doing?!" She gasped way too loudly, "Get away! Shoo!! You'll ruin everything!"
Pup stumbled backward and let go of the cloth. Sitting on the floor her eyes started to water and Rarity just glared at her. Quick as lightning, Hawk scooped up Pup and put her on his back. She wrapped her arms around his neck tightly and started to cry. The larger griffon lifted his wings slightly to make sure the smaller one wouldn't fall off if she lost her grip. Going for the door to the caboose, Hawk shot Rarity a glare that said anything in between: "She's just a kid." and "You stupid bitch."
All of the noise woke up Rainbow Dash, and she asked Rarity what was going on, but Hawk had already left the car, and was heading toward the caboose.
Once inside the caboose, the mood changed dramatically. Pinkie Pie saw Pup and rushed toward Hawk.
"Hiya! Looks like she woke up! She isn't crying is she? I know who could use a smile!" Pinkie said happily.
Upon seeing the party pony, Pup was already beginning to cheer up. She climbed on top of Hawk's head and jumped onto Pinkie's. At which point Pinkie exclaimed "Blast off!" and began to zoom around the caboose. Smiling, Hawk made his way to the back of the caboose, where Applejack was chewing a long piece of grass, lounging on the railed platform.
"Howdy Partner, take a seat." The earth pony greeted, tipping her hat and gesturing to the empty spot next to her.
"Hello Miss Applejack, I'd be glad to." Hawk said, slouching down against the wall of the caboose.
"I told ya, you can just call me Applejack, I don't do none of that fancy 'miss' stuff. I'll leave that to Rarity."
The mentioning of a certain white pony made Hawk grind his teeth. Applejack noticed and gave him a nudge.
"It's nothing, really. In the other car, Rarity got kind of short with Pup for messing up a little bit of her fabrics or whatever."
"Ah, Rarity's never really been good with the youngin's. She's probably just stressed over something. And it doesn't look like Pup even remembers." Applejack said, then smiled at the sound of Pinkie and Pup laughing in the caboose.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right." Hawk grinned at Applejack, dismissing Rarity's shortness as nothing major.
Hawk really liked Applejack, she was abnormally friendly, hard-working, and gave really good advice. She even gave him a tour of Sweet Apple Acres while her younger sister, Apple Bloom, played with Pup. Pup was around the same size as Apple Bloom, although much younger. Nevertheless, they got along really well.
"Pup doesn't talk much does she? She doesn't seem very shy, but she's never said a word to me." The country pony asked.
Hawk noticed this as well and explained, "She only knows how to say a handful of things, and even then she only talks to me on a regular basis. I'm not entirely sure why she doesn't talk to anyone else. The only other pony I've heard her say anything to was Rainbow Dash."
"Ya don't say? Rainbow sure has taken a liking to her, never seen her act quite like this, all motherly and the like."
"Motherly?" Hawk scoffed, "Nah, well... Hmmm. I kind of thought she was just trying to help me out some."
"She is and she really wants to, sugarcube."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You'll find out Hawkley." Applejack said cryptically, walking into the caboose.
Oh yeah, that. Hawk didn't know exactly why Applejack had started to call him that, something about having a real name and not just being called some animal. She didn't make sense sometimes, but she always looked out for him. Applejack was like the older sister he never had, or didn't remember having. Either way, he was happy she was here.
Looking up at the sky, the sun had already passed its zenith.
Almost to Appleloosa.
Night had settled and the sky was a beautiful canvas of brilliant stars, even the blackness of the space between them was bewitching. Hawk and Pup's sleeping car was directly behind the one belonging to Twilight and her friends. Pup had fallen asleep half-an-hour ago and Hawk decided it was getting kind of stuffy.
Breathing in the chilly desert air, he idly wondered if anypony was knocking on the door. He wouldn't have answered it of course, being that he was on top of his train car at the moment, crouched low on the roof, wind sliding over his aerodynamic form.
His resistance against the wind increased as he began to ever so slowly spread his wings, taking all of his concentration to keep them from opening too quickly. The significant draft generated by the speed of the train could do some damage to his wings if he wasn't caref-
"Hey! Knew you'd be up here!" a voice yelled from behind, unmistakably Rainbow Dash's.
Startled, Hawk's intense focus was shattered like a pane of glass, his wings were painfully forced open and he was flung backwards.
Whatever the cyan pony was going to say was interrupted as the larger body of the griffon collided into her, knocking them both off the train. They both tumbled along the cold desert ground before finally coming to a stop. Rainbow Dash lay atop him for a few seconds as the dust settled.
After regaining her senses she looked down into Hawk's green eyes, their brilliant glow absent in the dark of night, but nevertheless, she had to try hard not to lose herself in them. The griffon gazed back blankly, still dazed. He blinked a half-a-dozen times and let out a grunt.
"Huh?" Hawk said after realizing the warm body weighing down on his own was none other than Rainbow Dash. The pegasus smiled at him and began to rise. The pegasus was glad he hadn't noticed the way she was looking into his eyes. She had to play it cool.
"Heh heh. Not tonight feather-brain." Dash laughed as the griffon scrambled up from under her. Hawk began to brush the dirt off of himself nervously. Even after the dust was gone he still brushed his coat and preened his feathers as if he were covered in it. Anything besides look at the rainbow-maned pony who seemed much too amused at his distress.
"Sorry Dash, didn't know you were there." Hawk apologized, although he knew he wasn't to blame in any way.
"It's cool. Not the first time I've been knocked off a train before!" Dash stated, brushing tiny chips of dirt out of her mane.
"So I've been told..." Hawk replied, remembering the story Twilight and Applejack had told him about their last visitation to Appleloosa, "Think we should start following the tracks to Appleloosa?"
"Sure, but how about we make this a little more fun."
Hawk raised an eyebrow at her statement, "What'd you have in mind?"
"How about a game? You aren't as fast as me, so a race wouldn't be fair." She explained, sounding very self-assured, "We'll play follow the leader. See those outcroppings? We'll fly around them, do some tricks, and you can learn from the best!"
"Well aren't you the perfect example of humility." Hawk said cheerily.
"Heh, I know, I know. You ready? Go!" And with that, the pegasus took off, leaving a cloud of dust behind. Hawk wasn't too far behind. Rainbow Dash began to head toward the towers of naturally formed rocks, swerving and flying in between them. Every time she passed a rock outcrop she was doing some sort of complicated trick. It was obvious she was showing off, but she was getting dangerously close to hitting the tall obstacles. Hawk was just trying to keep up.
She's getting a bit reckless. I have to stop this.
Just as he thought it, Rainbow Dash turned around to look at him, still flying pretty fast, "Having a hard time keeping up? I bet Tank could fly faster than you!"
"Dash! Look out!" She didn't have much time to maneuver before it was too late. She tried to roll away from the stone outcrop, but she was going too fast and clipped the side of it. Hawk let out a curse, and dove to catch her now limp body.
The impact reduced her speed significantly, but she was still plummeting toward the ground at a lethal pace. Flying faster than he ever has before, Hawk grabbed her a few feet before she hit the ground, he flew up and held her in his arms,
"Dash! Rainbow Dash! Wake up!" he yelled, shaking her slightly. She only let out a small groan.
Spotting the railroad, he began to pump his wings furiously, heading toward Appleloosa.
It'd been only an hour since the sun came up, the train had arrived but none of the passengers had gotten off yet, and Sheriff Silverstar was galloping after Braeburn. He had said there was a commotion on the edges of the town. Something about a pony in danger. They made their way to the sound of shouting.
A circle of ponies surrounded a ragged griffon. In the griffon's grasp was an unconscious blue pegasus.
"Get out of my way!!" It yelled.
"Ah don't think so, pigeon. But ya can hand over that there pony in yer claws." A burly stallion said. The stallions words were met with a loud agreement from the other surrounding ponies. The Sheriff began to watch silently, a bit a ways behind the group, but close enough to intervene if anything happened.
"That's not happening. Just let me through, I have friends in Appleloosa right now." He pleaded.
"You don't think he's friends with Twilight and them? AJ said in her letter that they were bringing a little griffon with them, could be his daughter Sheriff." Braeburn whispered to Silverstar.
"I think you're right. Let's stop this before it gets out of hoof." The Sheriff said with conviction. Trotting over to the crowd, he loudly cleared his throat, "What's going on here?"
"Sheriff? Good thing you arrived, this here griffon won't give up that mare he stole." The leader stallion said, his breath reeked of alcohol.
"Stole?! I'm saving her! Look at her! She's hurt and needs medical attention!" The griffon yelled.
"Ya probably did that to her yerself! And yer just trying to get into the town to cause more trouble! We know what you pigeons have been up to!" Another, probably intoxicated, stallion said.
"If I wanted to do that then why couldn't I just fly over you idiots? None of you have any bloody wings."
"Ya cain't. Ya look like ya been flyin' all night, and carryin' that pegasus probably wasn't too easy. Ah reckon yer wings er too sore too do much of anythin'" Slurred the leader, who was surprisingly observational as a drunk.
The griffon flexed his wings and winced lightly. The stallion was right. Setting the mare gently on the ground, he spread out his limbs slightly, lowered his body, and his voice took on an eerily calm tone, "Very well then. If you don't let me get into the town, I'll let myself in."
The gaggle of ponies surrounding him laughed, the burly leader being the loudest. "Hear that fellas? Pigeon here thinks he can take alla us!"
"Everypony calm down!" The Sheriff yelled, the situation was deteriorating quickly.
"Yeah!" Braeburn said, making his way to Silverstar's side, "He's probably friends with Applejack which means he just wants to see his daughter in the train! Let him through!"
"Shuddup, boy. Stick to yer damn apples." The ringleader scolded, "Got some pigeon-kin do ya? Well, fer kidnappin' the pretty mare, and fer what yer other pigeon friends have been doin', we can probably take you and yer kid's head for a decent bounty!"
Sheriff Silverstar looked at the stallion agape. Did he really believe the ridiculous rumors about griffons coming and kidnapping ponies? Some ponies probably got lost somewhere, and an idiot decided to make a rumor of it and it spread like wildfire. The Sheriff was about to call the ringleader on his idiocy, but only saw a brown shape ram the stallion with jarring force. The griffon was on top of him, punching him ruthlessly in the face. One of the lackeys tackled the griffon from the side, but he rolled with it and launched the lackey off of him with his back paws.
Regaining his stance, the griffon glared at everpony, "I'm not a fucking pigeon! My name's Hawk!" He yelled. Another drunk instigator charged him and Hawk sliced him across the chest with his talons, it wasn't a killing blow but it took the stallion out of the fight, his blood staining the desert floor.
"We have to stop him, he'll go on a rampage!" Silverstar ran at the griffon from behind and wrapped his front hooves around his arms, holding them in place. Hawk moved his head forward and brought it back swiftly, the headbutt disorientating the lawpony. Once free, he raised a talon to swipe at the Sheriff but it was caught midair by a lasso.
Braeburn, rope in mouth, began to pull and take the griffon away from Silverstar. Hawk cut the rope with his other talon and the country pony fell backwards at the lack of tension. The griffon leaped right in front of him and rose to strike the yellow stallion. All Braeburn saw was the blind fury in Hawk's eyes. He heard a loud "thud" and suddenly the griffon's eyes went blank and rolled up into his head.
When the griffon fell onto the ground, Braeburn was surprised to see a familiar orange pony standing behind his attacker.
"Wow, thanks AJ. He almost got me." He said gratefully.
Applejack sadly looked at the still griffon. Unconscious and breathing slowly, he didn't look at all like the griffon who had attacked a group of ponies.
"Don't thank me for this.." She replied.
Hawk opened his eyes slowly, his head was on fire, black dots seemed to swirl around his vision. He tried to bring a talon to his head, but it only moved a few inches before being held back.
Both of his talons were shackled to the uncomfortable bed he was laying on. His wings were also tied tight to his body by a coarse rope, his feline legs were unbound, but for all they could do, they were useless at the moment.
The room he was in was very dim, the source of light being an oil lamp in the far corner of the room. Hawk craned his neck and looked around, he was surrounded by black iron bars and there was a pony he couldn't make out in the corner of the room.
"Ya know Hawkley, you injured a third of the contestants that were going to compete in the Iron Pony here. They had to postpone the contest 'til they get better"
Hawk put his head back down, staring at the ceiling. "Applejack, I didn't mean to-"
"Don't lie to me Hawkley. You know ya did. The Sheriff told me everything."
When she used "Hawkley" it made him feel like a child being scolded.
"Lucky for you, the Silverstar is a good stallion. He knew you were being goaded into a fight when you were just trying to get Rainbow to safety. 'Specially after what they said about Pup."
The thought of his sister jolted Hawk, "Where's Pup!? Is she okay? Get me out of these!" He yelled, thrashing against his bindings.
"Take it easy Hawk!" Applejack asserted, "Sheriff Silverstar will be back in a few minutes to let ya go, Twilight paid for your bail."
Hawk was furious he put Twilight, Pup and all of his friends in this situation.
"Then what?" He asked.
"Then we go see Rainbow Dash."