Return of the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well

by xSorrow

First published

Mare-Do-Well appeared and disappeared in PonyvilIe, but in the large city of Manehatten, one lone mare stands between right and wrong. Taking up the costume and mantle of her fillyhood idol, Aurora faces injustice as the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well

Many years after the original Mare-Do-Well disappeared and mere weeks after the vigilante resurfaced in Ponyville for a short time, a pegasus named Aurora, who had studied and looked up to Mare-Do-Well her entire life, finally discovers the truth of what happened to her fillyhood idol. Taking up the costume and mantle of her hero in order to protect the sprawling metropolis of Manehatten, Aurora faces crime as the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well!

When you feel like giving up, just remember that it took one titan to hold the sky, one princess to raise the sun, and one hero to save this city.


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She jumped across the rooftops, one caped figure silhouetted over the moon. On any other night, every detail of her outline from the tips of her hat to the sharp ends of her cape were visible, but tonight her silhouette was wavy and distant as a result of the heavy rain falling from the heavens onto Manehatten. Nopony knew her name, which was just as well. When she wore this mask, she had no name.

Her eyes narrowed behind the blue eyepieces in her mask. Her large hat managed to shield her from the worst of the rain, but she still had to concentrate. Doing all these crazy leaps from building to building was dangerous enough, but now there was reduced visibility and slippery surfaces to worry about. She was in a hurry to get home before it was too late.

She arrived on top of a bank, which was a tall building. Only one busy street with plenty of chariots stood between her and the apartment building her family lived. She knelt down, ready to get a running start. The rain was pounding on her back… fortunately, this costume was waterproof. She narrowed her eyes and smiled underneath the dark blue mask. Thank Celestia she was a unicorn.

She took a deep breath, ran to the edge, and jumped with all her might. Her unicorn horn glowed underneath the hat, taking the edges of her cape and straightening them into a glider. The rain was falling, quickening her descent. She held her breath; she just had to get to the building. After tonight… no more. She’d never wear this costume again.

The glider suddenly took a sharp turn down. She gasped and nearly lost control. She tried to straighten up, trying to focus. If she fell, she’d end up under the wheels of one of those chariots. She was close to the apartment building… there was the edge… no fire escapes on this side, it was the edge or nothing but open air all the way down to the street… her speed was failing, she was going to fall.

Now! She released her cape, and threw out her hooves. Barely grabbing onto the edge of the building, she took several deep breaths and struggled to hold on. The rain wasn’t making this easy for her. Her back hooves kicked the wet side of the building, and somehow managed to gain a small bit of leverage. She… yes! She pulled herself up onto the roof of the apartment building. Now all she had to do was find the fire escape and crawl into the window of her apartment quietly, as not to wake anypony-

“I knew it.”

A voice that should have been quiet over the overwhelming roar of the storm, but she heard it perfectly. She turned, and saw him standing on the roof. How had she missed him?

“I knew you were the vigilante,” he continued, glaring at her, “How could you? After everything I’ve done for you- for us- you just turn around and mess it up?”

“You’re a criminal. I’m doing what’s right,” She said, her voice muffled underneath the mask.

“What’s right? You’ve put her at risk now!” He screamed, face going red, “If you aren’t going to worry about her, I will.”

“If you so much as lay a hoof on her-” She started.

“I already have,” He interrupted, “I’ve taken her someplace far away. You’ll never see her again, and it’s just as well. You’re going to ruin this family.”

She stared at him, and he stared back. A monster inside of her awoke, and it was fueling her rage. With an angry roar, she threw herself at him. He looked surprised as she plunged her hoof into his side, but he quickly recovered from the blow. His wings extended, and he swept in for the attack. She jumped backwards, out of the way of a devastating kick from him. He was fast, faster than she had been expecting. A sudden feeling of hopelessness filled her. Even if she won, how was she to find her, assuming that he had really taken her away?

Just as soon as it had appeared, the hopelessness left, replaced with fury. She leapt at him, but he moved out of the way. She slammed into the ground, and slid in the puddles. He was using his wings to maintain balance, but at least she was reminded that she was a unicorn. He seemed to have forgotten, now smirking from where he stood.

She grabbed him with magic, and picked him up. He tried to fight it, and for a moment she felt like her magic wasn’t strong enough to hold him. She held him over the side of the apartment building, letting him look down on the traffic below.

“Don’t make me do this,” She said to him, “Please, we can be together again. I… I don’t want to do this, Rightful.”

“Unfortunately for you,” He said quietly, “I do!” He said the last two words with a roar as he used his wings to push himself out of the magic aura holding him. Her eyes widened as he slammed into her. The two of them struggled as they slid across the entire roof of the apartment building, barely stopping on the other side. She tried using more magic, but suddenly his hoof connected with her snout. Her vision went fuzzy, and she felt off-balance.

“Sorry, Evergreen,” He said, now picking her up off the ground with both hooves, “But I’ll take good care of her.”

He dropped her off the edge of the building. She didn’t scream, and he looked down at her body, hitting the ground in the alley. He stared down long after the sickening crunch of bones hitting pavement had sounded.

“Better care of her than you ever could,” He whispered, turning around and trotting away.

Chap. 1- A Day in the Life

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A Day in The Life


It was the kind of day that was easily appreciated. As she joyously trotted out of the school building, she looked around at the clouds parting to reveal the bright, warm sun. The fresh air made her feel giddy, a feeling that was rare in the sprawling metropolis of Manehatten. What a glorious sight to behold as soon as she escaped the horrid prison that was Manehatten High School!

Aurora felt more excited day-by-day, as the end of her schooling career was finally coming to an end. Yes, the day was looking up as she turned her back to the concrete prison of the educational system. She was practically skipping down the sidewalk, wondering what she’d do when she got home-

“Hey, Aurora! Hold on!”

Aurora sighed, rolling her pink eyes. She began to trot a bit faster, in order to get away. It was just another pony trying to jump on the bandwagon. This had happened before… too many times before. She had to let them know she wasn’t interested in conversation. To Aurora’s surprise, the pony behind her began to chase after her.

“Aurora! Wait!”

Like Tartarus I will… Aurora thought, hurrying away faster. She turned around a corner of the school, ending up on the edge of the quad. During the day, it served as a place for ponies to eat lunch and hang out, but after school it was the place only certain ponies hung out. As usual, there was a large group of ponies (mostly the athletic and popular ones) hanging out by a table, but today there was a bit of shouting. Aurora couldn’t give a flying feather about what they did, but today seemed strange. Usually they’d be around the tables, but today they were crowding around something while shouting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”. Aurora moved a bit closer to see what it was.

Her breath caught in her throat as she recognized a thrashing bright blue and purple form on the ground, her best friend Shiny Seas. Above her was a yellow-coated mare known as Golden Eagle, the captain of Manehatten’s football team. Eagle was the pride of the school… while on the field. The rest of the time, Aurora only saw her as a bully, who abused classmates and got away with everything she did. As Shiny lie on the ground, Eagle kicked her with her hoof.

“I told you to leave us alone, you nerd!” Golden shouted down at her, while preparing another kick.

“I’m-I’m sorry!” Shiny cried, burying her face in her hooves to hide her tears as she lie on the ground, bruised, “I needed it back…!”

“You shouldn’t have dropped it!” Golden laughed, holding up a sleek black notebook with a lock on the side. As Golden waved it around, it was obvious that the lock was open. Aurora recognized it as Shiny’s prized possession, a notebook that her father had given her before he had left their family. Shiny tried to keep it a secret from most ponies… Aurora remembered the hesitation and trust that Shiny had displayed when she showed it to Aurora.

“I’ve filled this with lots of ideas for computers and inventions,” Shiny had said, eyes gleaming down at the pages, “Someday… I’m going to build them all!”
Aurora, while initially shocked at the sight of Golden keeping Shiny’s book away from her, now realized she had to come to the defense of her best friend.

“Hey! Goldie!” Aurora called out in a mocking tone. The crowd’s excited shouts of “Fight!” came to a silence, and they looked over at the newcomer.

Golden Eagle looked over, squinting in the bright sunlight, “What do you want, Aurora? Can’t you see I’m busy here?”

Aurora glared at Golden, and saw Shiny look up at her. Seeing the relief behind the tears on her friend’s face gave her all the confidence she needed. Aurora stood up a little higher, and spoke clearly and loudly.

“Drop the notebook and help her up,” Aurora demanded.

Golden Eagle stared at her for a second, and then threw her head back in a loud laugh. Everypony else was silent, looking between them with a sense of wonder. The crowd parted, giving Aurora a clear view of Golden and Shiny.

“You’re funny, Aurora! ‘Drop the notebook’,” Golden mocked, “Well, here’s some news for you. You don’t tell me what to do, I tell everypony else what to do. And now I’m telling you to get out of here and mind your own business before I kick your flank to Fillydelphia!”

Aurora didn’t blink, only stared at Golden Eagle’s wide smirk for a few seconds. Finally, Aurora smiled, causing Golden’s smirk to flicker.

“Alright,” She said, extending her wings, “You asked for it.”

With that, Aurora threw herself at Golden. Golden was caught off-guard, and gasped as Aurora slammed her hooves into Golden’s stomach. She was surprised by how hard Golden’s stomach was, how strong she seemed, but Aurora didn’t care. The two ponies fell to the ground, where Golden flailed and kicked, catching one of Aurora’s back legs.

Aurora cried out in pain, and got to her hooves. Her leg was hurt, but not much. She could still stand on it. Golden shouted, and then lunged at Aurora. Aurora dived to the side, out of the way. Her bright red eyes surveyed her opponent, and sized her up.

For an earth pony, she’s pretty tough… Aurora thought to herself, watching Golden turn and face her with eyes of fire, Everypony has some weakness… think back to the last football game…

Golden attacked, swinging her hooves and kicking. Aurora had to focus on dodging the blows while thinking back to the last game that Golden had been in. There must have been something that happened… Golden had scored most of the touchdowns… slipped away from every tackle… had it been a perfect game…?

“What are you, chicken?!” Golden laughed, “Stop dodging, you coward!”

Aurora ignored her, and tried to think. Finally, Golden’s hoof connected with Aurora’s jaw. The world blurred for a second, and Aurora blinked a few times.

“There we go!” Golden triumphantly taunted to the cheers of her teammates. Aurora was about to fly up and kick her foe in the eye, but then a memory finally clicked in her head.

Golden was tackled once… they got her leg in the last quarter and she had to sit out for the rest of the game…

Golden grinned as she prepared another punch. This time, Aurora ducked and went to the ground as she swung. Golden was caught off-balance, and nearly tripped. Aurora lashed out with her leg, and caught Golden’s directly where the mare had been tackled. Golden immediately fell down, clutching her leg like a filly who had fallen down and skinned it.

“Ouch!” She cried out. Aurora flapped her wings and jumped into the air. The bottoms of her hooves were level with Golden Eagle’s eyes for an instant, and then Aurora kicked Golden, knocking her unconscious before her lifeless body had fallen to the ground. For a horrible moment, Aurora thought she had gone too far and actually killed somepony, but then she saw Golden’s chest rise up with air.

Aurora sighed deeply, and tried to catch her breath as she looked down at her opponent. The gang of Golden’s friends and teammates now stared in awe at the mare who had knocked Golden Eagle, the Golden Eagle, out like a broken lightbulb.

“This sure doesn’t look like Fillydelphia, Goldie,” Aurora whispered.

Shiny looked up to see Aurora’s hoof, and gratefully took it. Aurora pulled her up off the ground, and Shiny brushed herself off. She looked to Aurora, and saw her eyes full of concern.

“Are you okay?” Aurora asked, looking her up and down for any bruises, “Your snout is bleeding.”

“I’m fine,” Shiny answered, wiping her snout with her hoof. She looked down to see that Aurora was right; A thick trail of blood clung
to her hoof, “Glad you came along though…”

“Of course,” Aurora said with a cough, bending down and picking up Shiny’s notebook from the ground by Golden’s hoof. Aurora handed it to Shiny, who took it with relief. Aurora wrapped her hoof around Shiny, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

* * *

“I’m getting sick of ponies, Shiny,” Aurora complained as they began walking down a long Manehatten sidewalk on a busy street full of chariots, “Just today, before I went to the quad, somepony followed me-”

“And he was going to ask you about Mare-Do-Well?” Shiny finished, playfully punching Aurora’s front leg, “That’s still going on? It’s been a week! Just think, some pony dressed up as Mare-Do-Well shows up in some dead-end town called ‘Ponyville’, and it’s suddenly the next big thing since Sapphire Shores’ Aqua album.”

“Yeah… I would love to talk about the vigilante- I mean… Mare-Do-Well,” Aurora confessed, “It’s just that… I’ve been studying her since I was just a little filly. Before somepony decided to dress as her in Ponyville. The mayor of Ponyville called her ‘Mare-Do-Well’, and she didn’t even have a name when she was in Manehatten. She was just ‘The Vigilante’. I’m sick of these posers who think she’s cool just because she was in Ponyville.”

“It’s because they know you’re the expert on Mare-Do-Well. Nopony else has studied her as much as you have. Did you ever figure out her secret identity?”

“Of course not,” Aurora laughed, “It isn’t like those “Power Ponies” comic books. This is real life. The vigilan- I mean, Mare-Do-Well, didn’t slip up or let anypony know who she was. She was just a shadow.”

As they talked, the two friends began trotting down the sidewalk at a lazy pace. Leaving the large school behind them, Aurora and Shiny travelled through the streets of Manehatten.

“Well, I heard that Ponyville organized a special celebration for Mare-Do-Well, and then some angry pegasus attacked her and she hasn’t been seen since then,” Shiny said.

“Yeah, everypony is acting like I know what happened. Maybe the pegasus killed her. The Vigil- ugh, Mare-Do-Well,” Aurora corrected herself, “...did some dangerous things when she was in Manehatten. In fact, nopony knows what happened to her. She just disappeared one day. Sounds like the same thing happened in Ponyville.”

“Well, I did some research of my own after Mare-Do-Well vanished from Ponyville,” Shiny announced, puffing out her chest with pride, “In Ponyville, there were reports of her stopping a runaway bus… um… saving construction workers… I think there was something involving a dam…”

“Yeah, that stuff was nothing compared to what she did in Manehatten. Here she was stopping gang leaders, bank robberies, and alleyway muggings. She was important here, and they started a branch of Royal Guards in Manehatten because of her.”

“Back then they did, Aurora. The Manehatten Royal Guard Branch isn’t the same as it was back then. They don’t have Mare-Do-Well as a symbol to step up their game. Did you hear about the gang war over in the factory district? Nopony tried to stop that… unicorn magic destroyed a lot of property.”

“Really? Nopony at all?”

“Nopony,” Shiny confirmed, “I think the guards here are just frightened foals instead of brave stallions. Either that, or the gangs are paying them to stay out of their business.”

Aurora sighed as the two of them turned the corner down a dirty and nearly empty street, “This is why the vigilante was so important. She stood up for the ponies here, and Mare-Do-Well inspired ponies to help other ponies who couldn’t help themselves.”

“That’s deep, Aurora. Now I have something to think about later on tonight,” Shiny said, turning down another street as Aurora continued walking, “I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah… are you sure you’re okay?”

“Uh-huh. I’m fine… but I probably won’t be without you, Aurora,” Shiny said, stepping closer to her and wrapping her hooves around Aurora in a hug, “You’re my best friend, you know that?”

“Of course I do,” Aurora said, bidding her best friend farewell as they separated. Her eyes lingered on Shiny’s cutie mark as she walked away, a design of a few ocean waves on Shiny’s flank, and wondered how she managed to get that instead of glasses or something. Shiny was, after all, the smartest pony that Aurora knew.

Aurora snapped out of her thoughts, and continued trotting down the sidewalk. A chariot passed her, travelling down the street at a speedy pace. Aurora had always thought that walking along the street was too noisy, so she always turned down a secluded road where not many ponies ever travelled. It took a little longer to get home, but it was well worth it to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After a while, Manehatten was just sickening to her.

Sure there were dirty homes to the sides of the street, but Aurora didn’t mind. It was a rather true part of life that most ponies pretended didn’t exist… and the residents seemed nice enough. Aurora reached the end of the street, humming to keep herself company in the silence that graced this part of Manehatten, and turned down another street.

Aurora nearly choked when she saw another pony, fallen in the middle of the street. Quickly, Aurora raced over to the mare while screaming “Are you okay?!” at the top of her lungs. The mare moaned. Aurora’s heart leapt when she saw the mare’s limbs, how broken and bent out of shape they seemed.

“Oh my Celestia,” Aurora gasped, “Where you hit by a chariot?!”

“No…” The mare whispered, “I fell… my cane…”

The mare pointed her hoof, and Aurora followed the direction to see a cane. Aurora picked up the cane with her mouth, and carried it over to the mare. As the mare’s hoof reached for the cane, Aurora took a closer look. The mare had a pink coat, with a mane of purple and greenish-blue, the same greenish-blue color as Aurora’s mane. She was definitely an older pony, but Aurora noticed a unicorn horn. There had to have been something wrong with her powers, otherwise she could have gotten her cane herself. The injuries on her limbs, coupled with a few scars on her body, seemed to have been part of the mare for some time.

“What happened to you?” Aurora blurted, before feeling insensitive for asking. She blushed, and hastily murmured a “I mean…” to begin an apology.

“I fell down,” the mare grunted, struggling to get to her hooves and leaning on the cane for support.

“I meant… your legs. What happened to you?”

The mare glanced up at Aurora, finally in a standing position, “It happened a long time ago. I don’t want to talk about it.”

With that, the mare tried to trot away, only to violently fall forward. Aurora caught her with her hoof, and wrapped her other hoof around her.

“Here, I’ll help you inside,” Aurora offered.

They awkwardly made their way to the sidewalk, and the mare led Aurora toward a small, broken-looking house. Aurora, supporting the mare with one hoof, opened the door and helped her get inside. Aurora noticed that the house was dark and cramped, as though designed for somepony living in seclusion. The mare plopped down into a big overstuffed chair, letting her cane fall to the floor. Almost as soon as she was seated, the mare had fallen asleep.

Aurora stared in wonder at the mare, picked up her cane and gently placed it to the side of the armchair, stared a few moments longer, and then quietly left.

* * *

Aurora stared up at the large apartment building that currently housed her and her father. It wasn’t nearly high enough to be compared to the Empire Stallion Building or a few other select skyscrapers, but the apartment building was still fairly tall. After all, this building housed a lot of families on twenty floors. As Aurora entered the building, heading in the direction of the elevator to get to the 17th floor, she remembered that she and her father used to live in another apartment building, but they had left when she was a little filly.

Aurora was puzzled as to why the memory was resurfacing now, but shrugged it off as she climbed into the elevator.


Aurora tried to forget about the old apartment building, but her thoughts flashed through her mind. The apartment building had been too small, that was


why they had moved across the city to this new one. She never thought about it until today, and she had no idea why the memory was resurfacing now. There was a ding, and then the elevator doors slid open to reveal the 17th floor. Aurora stepped out, and trotted down the hall toward her apartment.

“I’m home!” She called out as she opened the door. Her father, a stallion named Rightful Vice, was suddenly there at the door. Aurora had often noted how much she resembled her father (in all but mane colors, his was white). His cutie mark, a heart with a crack through it, always impressed her.

“Where have you been?!” He asked, trying to appear angry to hide his relief, “I was worried sick, Aurora!”

“I’m only a few minutes late, Dad!” Aurora complained, “I stopped to help an old mare who fell down in the street.”

Rightful paused before his face widened in a big smile, “That’s my girl,” he praised, ruffling Aurora’s mane with his hoof, “Is the mare okay?”

“She’s fine… a bit weird in the head though,” Aurora shrugged, “Listen, Dad, I’ve been thinking… what happened to Mom?”

The smile fell off Rightful’s face, “Aurora, honey, I’ve told you… did anything happen today?”

“No,” Aurora answered, “I just wondered, that’s all.”

Rightful stared at her for a minute, and then sighed, “Your mother left us… she couldn’t agree with how we were living, so she… left.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it,” Rightful answered, making a half-hearted attempt at a grin, “Now come on. How d’you feel about macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight?”

Aurora smiled at her father, “That sounds great, Dad,” Aurora replied, stepping into the kitchen to make the meal.

Interlude 1-2

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“Is there somethin’ troubling ya, sir?”

He looked toward the stallion who had spoken, and noted the concern he saw on the stallion’s face. Under the concern was the fear that speaking aloud had been a mistake. He stared at the stallion for a few moments, satisfied as the stallion broke his glance and stared at his own hooves.

“I’m fine,” He answered, “I’m just… thinking about something my daughter brought up yesterday.”

Everypony shifted uncomfortably as he sighed, straightening up and ready to get to business.

“As you know, a group of those filthy PurePonies are still causing trouble for us, particularly around the business district. Despite our victory in the factory district, they’ve refused to release our members imprisoned in Paradise Towers. Gentleponies, I’ve decided that the best course of action here is to use Plan Omega.”

There was a strange mixture of startled gasps and excited laughs. Most ponies who sat around the table were surprised by the sudden announcement.

“But sir!” One mare protested, “With all due respect, Plan Omega is unprecedented! It’s too risky and Subject Powerhouse is too unstable! Surely there must be some other way to regain control of the city?”

“I’m well aware of the risks of the plan and the uncertainty of Subject Powerhouse,” He waved off the question, “But I’ve taken time to calculate every possible outcome. There is nopony like Powerhouse in Manehatten, and there is nopony that can stop him in all of Equestria!”

There were joyous whoops and gleeful shouts as he stood up from his chair at the head of the table.

“Somepony go tell Powerhouse that his time to shine has come… I have work to do.”

Chap. 2- A Startling Discovery

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Chapter 2
A Startling Discovery

Manehatten: The Past

"Ah! Rightful! There you are! And this must be little Aurora!"

Glistening Waters greeted his longtime business partner and best friend, Rightful Vice, the latter of whom had brought his filly, Aurora. This was the first time Waters had met the foal. He ruffled her mane as they stepped into his home.

"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" Glistening asked Rightful, and then he whispered, "Does she know?"

"No," Rightful whispered back, "Just like yours doesn't know. It'd be best if our fillies didn't know what we do."

"All too true," Glistening agreed, "Now then... Shiny? Where are you?"

"Over here, Daddy!" came Shiny's voice from the living room.

"Aurora, that's Shiny Seas. She's Glistening's filly," Rightful explained to Aurora, "Go in there and play."

"Okay daddy," Aurora said, trotting to the living room.

Glistening watched Aurora leave, and then turned to Rightful once she had gone, "Is this important, Rightful? You seemed quite unsettled on the phone. Is everything going well?"
"I'm still thinking about moving to Cloudsdale," Rightful answered, not looking Glistening in the eye, "I was going to take Aurora there after Evergreen was taken care of. Speaking of which, where's your wife?"

"She's out with a friend," Glistening replied, "But you can't leave Manehatten. What will we do without you? I don't think I could run the whole business myself! We'd all be in some Canterlot dungeon if not for you!"

"It's becoming a serious debate in my mind," Rightful continued, "I like the apartment, but it was going to be temporary until I could find property in Cloudsdale. Aurora and I are both Pegasi. On the off chance that Evergreen may actually be alive-"

"I don't like talking about this, Rightful," Glistening interrupted, "What will you do if Aurora were to find out what you did? Besides... that mare is long gone. Nopony could survive a fall like that."

"Then why wasn't her body there, Glistening?" Rightful growled, "I sent somepony to collect it only 10 minutes after I threw her down. They didn't get there until 20 minutes had passed. No Guard could have found the body and carried it away that fast!"

"It's possible," Glistening shrugged, "You need to relax."

"Maybe you're right..." Rightful sighed, rubbing his eye with his hoof, "Have you got any new inventions to show me?"

"Of course!" Glistening announced, eyes sparkling as he trotted over to a notebook. Rightful noticed there was a padlock on it, keeping the book closed unless you had the key, which Glistening wore in a necklace, "I've been keeping them all in this special notebook. Here, I had a new idea for a sort of radio..."

Manehatten: The Present

Ponies scattered up and down the street in various directions as he stomped out of the bank.

He was quite an intimidating stallion with his shaved mane and burly appearance, but the heavy golden gauntlets that covered all four of his hooves completed the look. Those gauntlets wouldn't work for just anypony! He had been injected with a strange green serum that allowed him the strength to harness the power of the gloves.

He laughed powerfully as his hooves slammed into the pavement, cracking it underhoof easily. Thick bags full of bits and gems dangled from his two front hooves. Up and down the street, chariots had stopped and everypony that wasn't staring wide-eyed was running for their lives. There were few Royal Guards around, and most of them looked like they were shaking in their armor.

Nevertheless, one of the bolder stallions hurried over to him in a vain attempt to stop the carnage.

"Stay where you are!" He demanded, "Take off the... erm, gloves... and stand down!"

He simply stared at the Guard, and almost threw his head back in a laugh. Instead, he glared at the bold stallion and seized him with his gauntlets, holding him up in the air before the stallion could comprehend what was happening.

"Nopony orders around Powerhouse!" He declared, throwing the Guard across the street into an oncoming chariot, which tipped over as its extra passenger slammed into it, "Nopony!"

Powerhouse then knelt down and leapt high into the sky, soaring unlike any Pegasus and taking the bags from the bank with him. He landed on the roof of a skyscraper across the street from the bank. As startled passerby looked up in terror, marveling and cowering at the power that he had within his four golden machines, he turned around once more and shouted into the sky.

"Nopony can stop Powerhouse!" He laughed. Just before he turned and stormed off, leaving a panicked pony public in his wake, one mare who worked as a photographer for the Manehatten Daily Newspaper managed to snap a picture of the mystery stallion. An extra was printed later that day with the bold headline: Who can stop a Powerhouse?


Shiny Seas' bright blue eyes were drawn down to an innocent-looking paintbrush sticking out of Golden Eagle's saddlebag.

She hadn't forgotten the beating that was endured three days before. Ever since then, Shiny had made sure to keep her notebook at home, with the lock firmly closed. She was close to finishing constructing one of the inventions written down by her father, and Golden had nearly ruined it when she tried to steal the notebook. Shiny was very protective of the notebook because she didn't want anypony to know that only a few of the inventions in the book were hers. She hadn't even told Aurora, instead telling her best friend that she was the one who wrote them all down.

The notebook was all she had left of her father, whom had thrusted the book into her hooves before leaving for the final time.

"Take care of this, Shiny," He had said breathlessly, "I've got work to do..."

"Will you be back?" Shiny remembered saying in her quiet, young filly voice as she hugged the notebook closer to her, an act that would only be repeated as she went on through her school years in order to prevent anypony from finding it.

"Of course I will," He had said, running his hoof through his only daughter's mane, "I'll be back tonight, Shiny. I'll be back to see you again."
He had never returned after Shiny saw him leave.

Shiny blinked, snapping back to the reality of Equestrian History class. The teacher, a mare named Miss Brightline, continued discussing the Shadow Proclamation and its relevance to Nightmare Moon's transformation. It was in this class, sitting behind Golden Eagle due to Miss Brightline's assigned seats, that Golden had stolen her notebook. The paintbrush kept attracting her attention, and she couldn't look away. Upon closer examination, she noticed that the brush had small traces of glistening yellow paint on the very tips of the bristles. As she stared, Golden Eagle pushed the paintbrush deeper into her saddlebag, underneath a Daring Do book: Daring Do and the Ghosts of the Romane Empire.

Shiny became suspicious, and started wondering what Golden had been doing with the paintbrush. One amused thought was that Golden had been painting her coat, and it wasn't actually that golden color. Another was that Golden was helping to paint the mural in the cafeteria that the art team had been working on for the school since Hearth's Warming Eve.

Neither of those theories seemed likely.

It wasn't until after the bell rang, releasing them from their endless class, that the true purpose of the paintbrush had been revealed. Shiny left class and met with Aurora near the latter's locker. As Aurora twisted the combination lock with her mouth, Shiny talked about how boring her classes were.

"At least they're better than mine," Aurora answered, finishing her combination and pulling the locker open, "I've just got out of Study of Ancient Dragon Civilizations. That class is horrible... a step up from Study of Diamond Dogs though-"

"Oh my Celestia!" Shiny cried, putting her hoof over her mouth. Aurora blinked, and looked into her locker. She gasped at the sight of sloppy, yellow paint splattered over her locker door in the shape of words, which read You'll regret it, you whorse.

"That's what the paintbrush was..." Shiny whispered as realization dawned, slowly taking her hoof away from her mouth, leaving an awed expression, "Aurora, you know who did this...?"

"I have an idea," Aurora replied, glaring behind Shiny. Shiny turned around to see Golden Eagle sitting a short distance away on a bench with her hooves crossed and a triumphant expression on her face. As they watched, Eagle got up onto her hooves, turned around, and walked down the hallway, vanishing behind a wall of classmates on their way to class.

"Gross..." Aurora murmured, looking back at the paint.

"Aurora, this has to be the beginning!" Shiny exclaimed, "You knocked Golden Eagle unconscious! She's going to get even somehow..."

"...and her revenge will be worse than just paint in a locker," Aurora finished, "Yeah, I know... I think I'll just ignore her. Eventually she'll feel like a fool."

"I hope so..." Shiny murmured.

"Yeah... anyway, I have to get to class," Aurora said, pulling a large science textbook from her locker with her mouth and putting it in her saddlebag, "If I don't start pulling my grades up, I think I'll fail Chemistry... not that it matters..."

"I don't think you'll graduate without it, Aurora," Shiny murmured.

"Oh... I guess I'll have to start paying attention in that class then... too bad Miss Chemics has such a boring voice..." Aurora mumbled as she looked through her locker, "Huh... where's my Daring Do book? I know I put it in here..."

Shiny felt cold as she flashed back to Equestrian History class and remembered looking into Golden Eagle's saddlebag as she pushed a paintbrush down.

"Oh Celestia, where is it... I borrowed that from Cherry Blossom... if I don't find it...!"

"Aurora, what was the name of that book?"

"I don't know... A.K. Yearling used a lot of history in it... Ghosts of the Romane Empire I think."

Shiny's mind raced back to Equestrian History class again. The book that Golden Eagle had couldn't have been...? And even if it was, wouldn't it just be a crazy coincidence? Somehow, she doubted it. If Eagle had been in Aurora's locker with the paint, it would have been too easy to take the book.

"I think Golden Eagle stole that too," she said after a moment's hesitation, "Aurora-"

"That total HORSE!" Aurora screamed, slamming her locker shut. Shiny leapt back with fright. Aurora had always kept her temper; Shiny had never seen her friend lose control with rage before. Aurora swung her hoof, hitting her locker.

"Aurora!" Shiny gasped, "Calm down!"

Aurora blinked a few times and then looked down at her hoof as though it had turned into a parasprite when she wasn't looking. Aurora sighed deeply.

"I-I'm sorry, Shiny," Aurora apologized, shaking her head, "I'd... better get to Chemistry now. See you later."

Aurora hurried down the hallway, embarrassed at having lost control at a stupid prank, especially when said stupid prank was courtesy of somepony like Golden Eagle. Eagle the savior, Eagle the pride of the football team, Eagle the pony who had knocked Aurora's best friend down and kicked her until Aurora herself had shown up.

Aurora hadn't realized it, but she was grinding her teeth.

She stepped into Chemistry, only to see that half the class had already arrived. Miss Chemics was still nowhere to be found. Aurora started trotting over to the lab table she shared with a (rather handsome, if not a bit dark) stallion by the name of Crimson Moon.

One of Eagle's friends tripped her as Aurora walked by her desk.


Finally out of Manehatten Penitentiary- Sorry. Manehatten High I mean, Aurora thought, rolling her eyes.

The Pegasus walked out a side door, the same one she had left from the previous day. Everybody else left through the main doors at the front of the school, but Aurora found this to be a quicker route home... not that she was in any sort of rush. After all, there was nothing at home that could compare to the scenic walk she took. It felt good to get away from everypony else and have some Aurora-time.

As she trotted, she could imagine what was going to happen when she finally got home to the large apartment occupied by her and her father. Yesterday had been relaxed, but her father was a serious exercise freak, putting her through a rigorous workout regiment every other day (except weekends), on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so she'd likely have much to do once she finally got home. Naturally, her father had watched her do wing-ups and haunch squats, but he had never done so much as a deep hoof bend; Aurora thought better than to complain. After all, wasn't the exercise one of two reasons she had beaten Golden Eagle (the other reason being her own quick thinking and memory)?

Shiny hurried to catch up to her. Despite her own somewhat-slow trot as she stared at the ground in thought, Aurora had still made quite a bit of progress. She looked back, grinning as Shiny galloped up to her. Aurora wondered if Shiny would bring up her freakout over Shiny's prank.

"Aurora, you've got to see this," Shiny said breathlessly. She held up a newspaper, an extra edition of Manehatten Daily. Aurora squinted at the picture on the front page. It was a faraway shot of a stallion on a roof holding two thick bags. The headline read Who Can Stop a Powerhouse?

Aurora's eyes eagerly flicked back and forth as she read the story, a stallion wearing some kind of high-tech gloves had robbed one of Manehatten's many banks and disappeared after severely injuring a Royal Guard. The stallion was no average pony. The Guards were asking anypony with information to come forward.

"This is like something out of a comic book," Shiny breathed.

"But there's no hero," Aurora said sadly, "If only the Vigilante was still around."

"Maybe Mare-Do-Well will visit from Ponyville and stop him," Shiny offered.

"Probably not."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. They haven't seen Mare-Do-Well in weeks."

"Because she was an imposter..." Aurora sighed. Suddenly, she turned to Shiny with a wide grin on her face, "Shiny, do you think the real Mare-Do-Well will come back? She fought ponies like Powerhouse!"

"Aurora, you know that's less likely than Ponyville's Mare-Do-Well showing up."

"Oh... right," Aurora sighed, this time with a bit of sorrow underneath.

The two continued to talk until that certain street corner where Aurora and Shiny parted ways, Shiny setting off to her home with her mother and Aurora walking through a quiet neighborhood.

Aurora had never really seen anypony outside around the neighborhood she always trotted through, aside from the mare who had fallen the day before. She turned a corner, half-expecting to see the mare sprawled in the road again, but it was as empty and bare as usual. She looked around at all of the broken-down houses, and remembered precisely which house she had helped the mare into.

Before she could consider what she was doing, Aurora was knocking on the door.

There was a temporary pause, and then came the sound of faint shuffling from inside. The injured mare inside was probably wondering who would be at her door. Aurora wondered if she had any family. Next to the door was a window, the shades of which were pulled back as the mare stared out. Aurora smiled. The windowshades were dropped and fell back to where they had been covering the window. There was the sound of the door unlocking, and then the door opened to reveal an unamused-looking mare, leaning heavily on a cane.

"You know," the mare began, "I don't think I ever thanked you for what you did yesterday."

"It was nothing," Aurora answered, "Anypony else would have done it."

"But it wasn't anypony else," the mare replied, "It was you."

The mare hesitated, and then asked Aurora inside. The house was as dark and cramped as she remembered from the day before. The mare limped into the kitchen while Aurora sat down on a small chair, nowhere near as big as the overstuffed armchair that the mare seemed to favor. Aurora looked around, only to notice there were no pictures of family or anything that looked personal. Everything looked artificial and sad. She wondered how the mare spent her days alone in this small house.

"I got, uh, lemonade," the mare said, limping back in with a tray holding two glasses filled with the sweet yellow juice. Aurora thanked her as she took one. The mare placed the tray on a small coffeetable between the two chairs, and sat down in the overstuffed armchair.

"Sorry, I'm just not used to company," the mare said.

Aurora wasn't sure how to respond to that, "It's alright," she answered, taking a sip from the glass. The lemonade was cold and sweet, with a tart undertaste, "Mmm, the lemonade is wonderful by the way."

The mare nodded. "Thank you."

They sat in silence. Aurora stared into her glass because every time she looked at the mare, her eyes were pulled down to the mare's damaged legs. Finally, the mare cleared her throat.

"I don't think I ever told you my name. It's Evergreen... Evergreen Sunlight."

"I'm Aurora." An expression flashed across the mare's face, but just as soon as it had appeared, it was gone. Aurora noticed it, "Is something wrong?"

"No, no, it's just... ah... I used to know somepony by that name," Evergreen took a long drink of lemonade.

"I think I knew an Evergreen a while ago," Aurora murmured, "Or was it Everlight... Everclear? Evengreen?"

Evergreen chuckled, setting her empty lemonade glass on the tray. The tray, which had been slightly unbalanced on the edge of the table, now fell over. The glass fell onto the floor and shattered, spreading glass everywhere. The mare gasped and Aurora jumped up.

There was silence for a second as both of them registered what had happened, and then they both relaxed. The crippled mare started to get up.

"Oh, don't get up," Aurora said, "I can clean it. Do you have a broom and dustpan, by chance?"

"In the closet upstairs," Evergreen said gratefully, motioning at the stairs with her hoof, "First door on the left."

Aurora trotted up the stairs, which creaked beneath her weight even though she was a Pegasus, and therefore was lighter on her feet than most other ponies. At the top, she found herself staring down a small hallway with only three doors: a bathroom, a bedroom, and a closet. First door on the left? More like only door on the left, Aurora thought.

She opened the door to be faced with a single coat hanging up, an overturned vacuum, and boots among miscellanous other things. The broom and dustpan were in the back of the closet. Aurora leaned toward them, stretching out her hoof, and cried out in surprise as she fell forward, tripping over the overturned vacuum.

In her panic at falling, her hooves flailed for something to grab onto. They hit the wall, but instead of stopping, Aurora went through the wall as the back fell in. For a moment, she thought that she had broken Evergreen's wall, but realized (to her shock) that it was a panel concealing a secret compartment.

"Aurora? What happened?" came Evergreen's voice.

"N-nothing! I just tripped!" Aurora called back in the direction of the stairs, "I'm fine!"

Aurora turned back toward the closet, and squinted in the darkness. There was definitely something in the secret compartment. As rude as Aurora thought it was to be looking through Evergreen's private things, curiosity got the better of her. She groped around the closet in search of a lightswitch, and finally found a cord. She yanked it, and a light overhead turned on, illuminating the closet in a vibrant yellow brightness.

Much better, Aurora thought. She looked in the secret compartment, finally able to see inside. Aurora gasped, face turning white. She stumbled backwards as her mouth moved, yet no words came out. The world spun and her heart pounded. She blinked and rubbed her eyes with her hoof to be sure that she had seen it. When she finally looked back in, she realized that it was no lie. No deception; it was real.

Inside the secret compartment was a neatly folded Mare-Do-Well costume, mask sitting on the top over the cape.

Interlude 2-3

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Powerhouse had had a long day, the kind of day that sapped your strength and left you weak and weary. The hard work he had put in was impressive, even for him with his gauntlets of power and serum in his blood. Terrorizing the sprawling metropolis of Manehatten while avoiding capture? Difficult. Fortunately, he wasn't only a savage brute. He'd had to come up with his own strategies.

Taking a long moment to rest on a rooftop, he surveyed the cityscape. He wondered what he was supposed to do next. There had to be more to his role in the plan than simply attacking the upper (and more populated) half of Manehatten. Powerhouse frowned, and then his face lit up.

Why hadn't he thought of it before? All he had to do was ask the boss! It was so simple. Feeling fully recharged, Powerhouse stretched out his hooves and kicked a few times. The gauntlets sparked with raw power, and he grinned before jumping once more, soaring into the sky before shooting back down to crush the pavement underhoof.

Powerhouse was going to find his boss.

Chap. 3 Ponynapped!

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Chapter 3:

Manehatten: The Past

"What's that pony wearing, Daddy?" Aurora asked, pointing her small hoof in the direction of the thing that had caught her eye.

Rightful Vice glanced over and groaned. The two of them had gone out to a bookstore (a little "Father-Filly" interaction), where Aurora had marveled at the vast amount of books surrounding her on mountainous shelves. Rightful, his saddlebag filled with books Aurora had wanted such as Power Ponies comic books, three of the "Harry Trotter" books, a Stallion King novel (that Aurora had promised she would read, despite her young age and the fact that the book was over 800 pages), a Batmane/Supermare crossover comic, and a "pony-to-cow" dictionary. Why Aurora wanted any of them (aside for the comics), Rightful would never know.

Now he watched his filly trot over to a large leather-bound book with the bold golden title "The Vigilante of Manehatten". Underneath was the illustration that had caught Aurora's eye, an artist's painting of the Vigilante in her mask, cape, and signature hat. At first, Rightful was hopeful that Aurora wouldn't be interested.

"Ooh, Daddy, this looks interesting!" Aurora exclaimed, "Can we get it? Please?"

"Aurora, honey, you don't even know what it's about," Rightful said weakly, trying to persuade his daughter to ignore the book (even though not knowing what the book was about never stopped Aurora before). His attempts were in vain, and Aurora still stared at the book, moving her lips silently as she sounded out the title.

"What does Vig-ill-ain't mean, Daddy?"

"It's 'Vigilante', Aurora," Rightful corrected her.

"What's it mean?"

"It means... um..." Rightful paused. He didn't exactly want to say 'oh, a Vigilante is a hero' because he knew Aurora loved heroes. She'd only want to research the Vigilante even more, and Rightful wanted to avoid anything about the Vigilante after what he had done. Although, at the same time, he didn't want to lie to Aurora.

"It's okay if you don't know," Aurora said, snapping Rightful out of his thoughts, "Can we still get it?"

"I...I-I... Aurora..."

A few minutes later, Aurora and Rightful left the bookstore. Aurora was more excited about the book about the Vigilante than any of the other ones, and joyfully skipped next to Rightful with the book firmly held in her smiling mouth. At one point, Rightful attempted to offer her a Batmane comic instead, but Aurora had shaken her head.

Rightful glared down at the book, and the masked face of his now-deceased wife glared back.

Manehatten: The Present

Aurora gasped.

The world spun. She raised a hoof to her heart and held it there. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped (something she thought only cartoon characters could do) as she struggled to comprehend the sight before her. It was just impossible. There was no way that the crippled (yet young and beautiful to be honest) mare downstairs could have been the Vigilante all those years ago.

And yet...

Aurora leaned forward, hardly daring to believe that her fillyhood hero's costume was sitting in front of her in the secret compartment, but there it was! Aurora hesitated, and then reached out with one hoof.

"Aurora? Are you alright up there?" came Evergreen's voice from downstairs. Aurora jumped, and her hoof shyed away from the costume.

"Y-yeah!" She called back, "I-I'll be down in a sec!"

She turned back to the secret compartment. The Vigilante's outfit was still there, neatly folded. Aurora bit her lip; how could somepony like Evergreen possibly be the Vigilante? Was that how she had crippled her legs? Had Aurora just solved the mystery of where her hero disappeared to, merely by tripping and stumbling upon a secret panel?

Without realizing it, she was once again reaching inside the secret compartment (secretly secured by the secret panel... secretly). Her hoof was about an inch from the costume, yet she was reluctant to touch it while she was excited at the same time. Slowly, her hoof reached down and caressed the suit. To Aurora's surprise, the suit was made from a flexible rubber material. It wouldn't rip easily, but it allowed the pony wearing it to move around freely. Aurora wondered where Evergreen had gotten it. Had she made it herself?

Aurora picked up the suit, and noticed that it was around her size, although a bit small. Maybe the costume stretched...

Aurora shook her head, and continued to look at the suit. The long, dark blue cape which had intimidated so many criminals out there was connected to the suit, so it couldn't be pulled off. The boots were also connected to the rest of the costume, and Aurora wondered how it was supposed to be put on. Inside the secret compartment was the mask and the hat, separate, unlike the rest of the Mare-Do-Well suit. She had seen pictures of Ponyville's Mare-Do-Well and compared it to the ones she had in her books, and thought that Ponyville had done a good job mimicking it. Now getting a closer look, she realized Ponyville's was almost identical.

Aurora reached into the secret compartment again, and pulled out the mask. She stared into its wide, vengeful (empty) eyes, and then turned her attention to the only piece of the suit she wasn't holding: the hat. The iconic, wide-brimmed purple hat.

She bent down and began reaching for it. The tip of her hoof touched it, and a shiver ran down her back.

"Hey! What are you doing?!"

Aurora jumped, dropping the costume to the floor, and gasped when she saw Evergreen standing at the top of the stairs. Evergreen's face was red, her normally calm composure gone, and she was breathing heavily. Her eyes darted to the secret compartment, then to the hat, and then finally landed on the costume in Aurora's hooves. She opened her mouth, but only angry sputters came out.

"How... dare... you..." Evergreen scowled, speaking in a low voice, "Get out."

"You... i-it was... you..." Aurora blinked, trying to envision the crippled mare as a costumed vigilante, "You were her..."

"GET OUT!" Evergreen roared, stomping over to Aurora and slapping the costume out of her hooves, "Get the buck out!"

"There's an actual supervillain on the loose!" Aurora yelled back, remembering back to the newspaper that Shiny had shown her, "Some monster stallion! This city is being corrupted by greed and you're just sitting here, drinking lemonade?!"

Evergreen stared at Aurora, shaking with fury, "You think I wanted to quit?"

Evergreen's hoof, encased in a metal brace, flung out and slapped Aurora across the face, "I LOST MY DAUGHTER TRYING TO PROTECT THIS CITY, AND WHAT DO I HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT?! FOUR BROKEN HOOVES!"

"Y-your daughter...?" Aurora repeated, shocked, hardly feeling the pain in her cheek.

"Now leave! Get out! Don't let me EVER see you again!" Evergreen screamed, grabbing Aurora's mane with her mouth and pulling her toward the stairs. With a mighty tug, Aurora lost her balance and nearly fell down the stairs. Fortunately, she was a Pegasus, and used her wings to glide to a safe landing at the bottom.

"You were a hero!" Aurora told Evergreen, who stood at the top of the stairs, glaring at her menacingly, "But now..."

Shaking her head, Aurora opened the door and left, leaving Evergreen alone. Muttering under her breath, Evergreen went down the stairs, leaving the costume discarded in the middle of the upstairs hallway.

* * *

Aurora, who often took the backroads to get away from the "hustle and bustle" of the main streets in Manehatten, now chose to walk home down a busy street. The kind of street where there are advertisements everywhere and chariots racing past. Aurora chose this path in order to distract herself from her thoughts, but they still persisted. Evergreen was Mare-Do-Well. Mare-Do-Well was Evergreen. Aurora had just met her fillyhood hero and nearly got tossed down the stairs by her. Fantastic afternoon.

"Extra! Extra! Powerhouse abducting ponies! Could you be next?" A young colt on a streetcorner yelled, waving around newspapers. Aurora recognized Manehatten Daily as she approached. The headline was "Powerhouse Abducts Stallion! Royal Guards Terrified!" with an accompanying blurry picture of a hulking stallion with golden gauntlets on every hoof climbing the side of a building.

One of the newspapers was pulled from the colt's hoof by a strong breeze. It drifted on the sudden wind for a moment before coming to rest by Aurora, who picked it up in her mouth and carried it over to the young colt.

"Thank you!" He said jovally as Aurora gave him the paper back. Aurora managed a small grin, and looked at one of the papers he held.

Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes widened. She yanked the paper away from the colt, who gasped with a "Huh?!" as Aurora stared down at the paper. The story on page one began with "Rightful Vice, loving father and assistant manager of First Bank of Manehatten, was ponynapped by Powerhouse as he arrived at his job this morning..."

"Dad..." Aurora breathed, dropping the paper.

She turned, and galloped back down the street, leaving a very confused colt in her wake.

* * *

Evergreen heard a loud thud upstairs.

The crippled mare had been cleaning up the mess downstairs when the noise made her jump in surprise. Old instincts were coming back to her, and she bolted upstairs as fast as a pony with her injuries could manage to move (which was surprisingly fast). Her only thoughts were of the costume, which she had left so carelessly in the center of the hallway. If somepony broke in and saw it, she'd be exposed as the Vigilante.

Evergreen arrived at the top of the stairs to find... nopony at all. She sighed in relief, thinking that something had simply fallen, but there was something about the emptiness that spoke to her. Suddenly, realization struck.

The window was wide open, and the costume was gone.

Evergreen hurried to the window and looked out in time to see a familiar Pegasus vanishing behind a house with a bundle of dark-blue and purple in her hooves. Evergreen sighed, recognizing her at once as the same pony she had nearly thrown down the stairs in a rage.

"Oh Aurora..." Evergreen shook her head, "What have you done?"

* * *

Aurora arrived home, still holding the costume in her hooves. She had always liked flying, but always preferred to trot instead of fly. Rightful had asked her if she'd be interested in moving to Cloudsdale, but Aurora had looked at him in horror and said no. She'd have to fly all the time there, and she loved the feeling of the ground beneath her hooves. Sometimes she was teased because a few ponies called her "afraid of heights", but Aurora never really heard them.

This was the last thing on her mind as she stepped into a dark, desolate apartment. Nothing moved, and the only sound was her own ragged breathing.

"Dad?!" Aurora called out into the abyss before her, "Dad?!"

No answer.

Aurora slowly went further into the apartment. On the kitchen table was a newspaper from earlier that morning. The headline read "Powerhouse in Upper Manehatten?"

Aurora scanned the story for details (nothing about her father) and then looked out the window. Night was beginning to fall as Princess Luna rose the moon all the way in Canterlot. She looked at the costume that she still held in her hooves. The mask, sitting on top of the messy heap of clothing, seemed to stare back.

"Well..." She whispered to the costume, "You always went out at night, didn't you?"

Interlude 3-4

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Interlude 3-4

Shiny Seas glanced out her window in thought. She was currently seated in front of a desk covered in loose papers and books, but with a wide area for her father's notebook. She was currently writing in the notebook, working on a radio design that he had finished, but not to its full extent.

Shiny gasped as her eyes shone. An idea finally came to her, and she bent down over the notebook. She wrote a small note with her quill, then dropped it to the desk and marveled at her work. She had finished the design, and now she was confident she could build it.

Something outside the window caught her eye, and she turned and looked out to the dark Manehatten streets. Weird... she could have sworn she just saw Mare-Do-Well flying outside her window.

Shiny giggled slightly to herself. That was crazy! Mare-Do-Well was in Ponyville, and Manehatten's had disappeared when she was just a small filly. Shaking her head as she let out a deep breath, Shiny turned back to her notebook.

Chap. 4 Aurora's First Flight

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Chapter 4:
Aurora's First Flight

Manehatten: The Past

"Aurora! You're home!" Rightful Vice greeted his daughter as she arrived home from school, throwing down the newspaper he had been reading and looking over to the front door to their apartment with a wide smile. His smile vanished when he saw Aurora, in tears and covered in bruises with her snout bleeding. He immediately leapt from where he had been lazily sitting on the couch over to his daughter.

"What happened?" He asked in a determined-to-be-firm-but-I'm-losing-it-on-the-inside tone.

Aurora hiccuped a few times, and ended them with a cough. She looked up at Rightful, whose heart sank as he saw that her eyes were swimming with tears. He wasn't sure whether he should cry himself at the sight of Aurora's hurt eyes. Instead, he wrapped his hooves around his filly and hugged her tightly. His heart continued to sink as the only sound in the apartment was the sound of Aurora sobbing.

"N-Night Crawler pushed me down at s-schoooool!" Aurora managed before her voice turned into a wail. Rightful felt a mixture of emotions: Anger, Heartache, Fury, Surprise. Aurora was just a young schoolfilly, for Celestia's sake. He was torn between the desire to comfort Aurora and the desire to stomp over to her school, find that Night Crawler colt, and push him down himself.

"Aurora, you don't get cuts and bruises like that from being pushed down," Rightful told her, "He hit you, didn't he?"

Aurora gasped, and went silent. He waited for a few seconds, "Aurora?"

Still no response, aside from Aurora's own quiet sobs. Rightful sighed.

"Well, how about this..." Rightful began, squatting down on his back legs to be almost at Aurora's eye level, "I'll help you make sure he never 'pushes you down' again, okay? Does that sound good?"

Choking out a few last quiet sobs, Aurora nodded and wiped her damp eyes with her hoof. Rightful sat her down on the couch, and then showed her how to swing her hoof to punch somepony, and even let her try it out a few times by punching his hoof. He taught her to use her wings to her advantage and evade her opponent's blows with her air-superiority. He thought for a minute, and then showed her how to kick with her back legs. Rightful warned her that it would hurt tremendously (and possibly break somepony's bones, resulting in a nasty hospital bill), and told Aurora to only do it in emergencies. Aurora got the hang of it fairly quickly. Rightful wasn't sure whether to be glad or worried.

Afterwards, he made her do wing-ups and various stretches. Aurora had complained at first, but did them nonetheless. Rightful made her one of her favorite dinners, cheesy vegetables with roses for dessert, and told her she could have it when she finished cleaning herself up. Aurora had excitedly darted to the bathroom and came back five minutes later with the blood cleaned from her muzzle and the dirt out of her coat. Aside from a few bruises, she looked fine.

Aurora had gone to school the next day. Night Crawler, feeling invincible after his victory the previous day, had pushed her down again. To his surprise, Aurora practically shot off the ground on her wings and then began to swing her hooves at the unicorn. Surprised or not, Night Crawler refused to be beaten by a little filly, and tried to fight back. Aurora's fast punches kept him on the defensive, and when he tried to attack, she would leap out of his reach on her wings. Aurora eventually ended the fight by ducking underneath a wide punch, and lashing out at his exposed middle. Night Crawler collapsed onto the ground, holding both hooves to his stomach as he struggled to breathe. Aurora, feeling bad about it despite the fact he had beaten her up, helped him off the ground onto his hooves.

Night Crawler, to Aurora's surprise, apologized for what he had done the previous day and admitted that she was "pretty tough". Somehow, the two of them became friends after the whole incident.

They remained friends until Night Crawler moved to Trottingham the next year. A few years passed, and he found a marefriend. The two lovers were the envy of much of the school. Unfortunately, their relationship ended when she moved to Manehatten, Aurora's school to be exact. Night Crawler was disappointed at first, but eventually moved on. She moved on even quicker once she saw how many gorgeous stallions were in Manehatten.

Her name was Golden Eagle.

Manehatten: The Present

How the hay do you put this thing on?!

Aurora groaned in frustration as she struggled to pull the Mare-Do-Well suit over herself. She had been right, the fabric DID stretch, but it wasn't easy. Aurora had tried (unsuccessfully) to put her bottom hooves in first, but it wasn't going well. Her two right hooves were in the boots on the bottom, but her left ones were out of it. Didn't she need them to pull the mask on? But wouldn't it be hard to see if she put it on?

She didn't realize how much trouble she was having until she looked around and realized she was sprawled out on the floor with her hooves in the air and the suit's cape under her. Aurora groaned again, letting her head fall onto the carpet in defeat. How am I supposed to save Dad if I can't even put this thing on? She thought to herself, looking at how much she had gotten on. It wasn't a lot.

That's another thing, how am I expecting to save Dad? Nopony can stop Powerhouse, after all, and if he really did take him... I'm not afraid of Powerhouse, even with his gauntlets, but I AM afraid that I'll never see Dad again. And what'll I do if the Royal Guards catch me? I'm gonna look like a psycho cosplayer in a ripoff Mare-Do-Well costume!

Aurora hadn't realized it, but she was shaking slightly out of nervousness. She took a few deep breaths and forced herself to calm down while she thought. Almost without realizing it, she continued prodding her hoof into the costume.

All-in-all, this was just a terrible idea. What in Equestria was I thinking when I stole this from Evergreen?

Her hoof felt the bottom of one of the boots. She looked down in disbelief, seeing that she had one hoof left before she had the entire costume (aside from the mask and hat) on. Now that 3/4 hooves were finished, the last would be a snap. Without hesitation, Aurora pushed her hoof into the sleeve, and then stood up. It was on, and it was a perfect fit. The cape felt a bit itchy, and the boots felt slightly awkward. She adjusted them, and they felt more comfortable. Maybe she had them on wrong.

That left the mask and hat sitting on the floor.

Aurora picked the mask off the ground first, and gazed into the wide blue eyes on it. She stood there for a moment, breathing heavily.

Am I really doing this?

Aurora thought for a moment about everything Shiny had told her about the corrupt Royal Guards, realized that the Guards were supposed to be the ones saving her father, and then she slipped the mask on. Amazingly, her breath wasn't muffled like she was expecting. In fact, it was a rather breathable fabric. Stretchy, but not clingy. She blinked a few times behind the mask, only to see that her vision was in no way obscured. It was rather easy to see out, in fact. If she didn't know better, Aurora would've thought that the mask had holes instead of a light fabric for the eyes.

She pulled the hat on, admiring how easily it slid onto her head, and went to the bathroom to check her reflection in the mirror. It was breathtaking... almost as if the actual Vigilante was there herself. Almost as if Evergreen was there, her hooves completely healed, standing in all her glory. Aurora felt a twinge of regret for taking advantage of the mare's disability to steal the costume she now wore, but knew that it had to be done. She quietly trotted out of the bathroom, and looked out through the sliding glass door in the living room that led to a small porch. Her eyes widened, and she quickly dived behind the kitchen counter, out of sight of the window. Aurora felt so stupid! Anypony who cared to look over at the apartment building would've seen Mare-Do-Well standing in the middle of the apartment!

Aurora saw the front door almost in her reach, and knew she could probably get it open before anypony saw her through the window. But wait... Aurora knew she couldn't go down in the elevator and walk through the lobby in the Mare-Do-Well costume. Hey, what's going on, guys? Oh, it's me! Aurora! I totally just stole this costume from a crippled mare and I'll be using it to rescue my father from a vicious psychopath wanted by the Manehatten Royal Guard. Wish me luck!

Aurora hesitated, looked over at the window, and knew what she had to do. Straightening the wide-brimmed hat and closing her eyes in anticipation, Aurora took a deep breath and then got to her hooves and ran across the apartment toward the sliding door. She threw it open and slammed it closed as she stepped out onto the porch, a small wooden area with a guardrail that barely held enough room for Aurora to sit and read a book. Aurora leaped headfirst over the railing...

...and then screamed as she fell to the city below.

Below, the streets of Manehatten were dotted with chariots, each racing to a different destination. Aurora's cape flapped in the wind, and she was worried that the hat would fly from her head. Her hooves were firmly locked to her sides, making her feel like a missile falling over the city. She didn't even realize that SHE was the one who was screaming so loudly. Her eyes were wide behind the mask. Aurora realized she had to fly, and tried to stretch out her wings. For a terrifying moment, she was frozen with fear and her wings refused to open, but then they opened at the very last second and sent Aurora soaring back into the skies. Below, there were cries of surprise from the ponies on the sidewalk who had nearly been divebombed by a psychotic schoolmare in a costume.

"Holy Celestia!"

"Is that-"

"The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well!"

"In Manehatten?!"

Aurora grinned to herself. Those ponies thought she was actually Mare-Do-Well! She glanced over her shoulder to see that a few of the Pegasi that had been on the sidewalk were taking flight in an attempt to catch her, but she was long gone before they knew it. Aurora flew lower, back toward the street, scaring a few of the stallions pulling chariots. At one point, Aurora raced past Shiny's house (which rested on a street corner), but went by too quickly to wave hello. Unless it was Aurora's imagination, she noticed Shiny looking out the window at her. Aurora gleefully shot through alleys, rode the wind into the sky, sailed toward the streets without her wings, and then flew back up last second. It had been too long since she had truly flown like this, and she was having such fun! To be flying again, and wearing the Mare-Do-Well suit as well? An incredible feeling.

Her fun was forgotten when she remembered she was wearing the suit. Specifically, Aurora remembered why she had put on the suit. Powerhouse was supposedly in Upper-Manehatten, not far from where she was now. It couldn't hurt to look around, could it? It wasn't like Aurora was really going to fight Powerhouse. That stallion had issues... major issues. And gauntlets of death, he had those too.

But Powerhouse also had her father. If Aurora managed to find Powerhouse, surely she could follow him back to wherever he had taken her father?

Aurora rode on her wings, zooming through the skies and staring down at the city like a hawk. Aurora was soaring over Upper Manehatten before she knew it, keeping a keen eye out for Powerhouse. Aurora thought there was no reason for anypony else to be on the rooftops, only Powerhouse.

But no, Aurora was surprised to see there were other ponies on the rooftops. Some ponies sat looking off the edge of a roof to the streets or alleys below, and Aurora was deeply concerned they were contemplating suicide. Maybe they were just deep in thought. A rooftop seemed like the perfect place to think. She made a mental note to try it sometime.

Aurora's head tilted back and forth underneath the hat as she surveyed. No sign of Powerhouse. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. Aside from a shady-looking group of mares huddling around outside of a bar, that is. Aurora toyed with the idea in her mind about watching them to make sure they weren't up to anything, but scoffed at the notion. After all, she wasn't a hero. She was just somepony who stole the real Mare-Do-Well's suit.

Aurora was losing hope, and then there suddenly came a large, earthshaking crash to her right. A sudden burst of wind from the crash caused her to lose control of her flight, and Aurora went into a spiral. She was falling toward the alleyway below before she could comprehend what had happened. A large object had fallen from the sky onto the roof next to her, and the resulting shockwave had blown her off-course. This information didn't help Aurora, as she was facing the side of a building in front of a street full of busy chariots.

Aurora felt like screaming, and wildly looked around as she flailed her hooves in some attempt to regain control. She noticed her cape dancing around behind her, and wondered for a moment if it could be used as a parachute or hang glider. Shrugging that idea off as "ridiculous", Aurora realized she was in a barrel roll. Aiming to counteract the force, she stuck out her right wing. She managed to stop herself from rolling and steered herself away from the street, but she was upside-down in midair. Aurora managed to use her left wing to steer herself onto her hooves again, and landed roughly in the alleyway on her stomach with her hooves sprawled out and her head hanging limply.

"Ouch..." Aurora moaned, rising on shaky hooves. She stretched out her wings and sighed in relief. Nothing felt broken... maybe a little bruised. She turned her masked face to the sky, wondering what had caused her wipeout.

She gasped loudly when she saw Powerhouse, leaping from the rooftop he had just landed on toward another rooftop a block away.

Aurora recognized him instantly, the shaved mane and golden gauntlets on all four of his hooves was a dead giveaway. He was a large, white stallion, with a coat so flawless it seemed like a fallen star. Atop his head was what used to be a dark blue mane. His eyes were blue, but deeply bloodshot, making Aurora all the more nervous as she leapt off the ground into the air and began to follow him, praying he wouldn't turn around. She briefly wondered what his reaction would be, seeing Mare-Do-Well chasing after him. Would he be surprised? Aurora imagined the look on his face, and smiled to herself in amusement.

Powerhouse continued hopping from rooftop to rooftop, unknowing of the costumed mare following behind him. Finally, somewhere in the industrial district, Powerhouse leapt from a rooftop onto the street below. There was nopony around, aside from Aurora watching from the sky.

As she watched, Powerhouse looked around the street and, seeming satisfied, trotted into a large, abandoned warehouse. As his hooves hit the ground with his trot, the pavement cracked beneath them. Aurora shivered a little, and breathed heavily.

Her father had to be inside, but how could she get in without Powerhouse knowing?

"You are the most reckless, most impatient, most impulsive stallion I have ever met," Rightful Vice told Powerhouse as the stallion marched inside.

"I'm sorry, boss," Powerhouse said sheepishly, lowering his head, "I just had a few questions, is all."

"So you ponynap me off the street?!" Rightful yelled, "For Celestia's sake, Powerhouse! My daughter is probably worried sick! The least you can do to compensate for the inconveniences you've brought on me is to at least keep on eye on Aurora while I stay here. Make sure she doesn't get into any trouble in my absence, and make sure that she or nopony else sees you."

"Y-yes sir..." Powerhouse sighed, now having more work to do, "Aurora's the mare with the blue mane, right?"

"You imbecile, she looks just like a younger, mare version of me!" Rightful snapped, "Aside from her mane. Her mane color is the same as... nevermind. Her mane is blue-green. At least tell me that Plan Omega is progressing smoothly?"

"I'm holding up my side of the plan, boss," Powerhouse answered, puffing out his chest with pride, "But like I asked you earlier, there's got to be something more I can do than just terrorize the northern side of the city-"

"Maybe when we've finished," Rightful interrupted, "Once the PurePonies have been dealt with, assuming you've done well, we'll have more work for you."

"Thanks boss," Powerhouse said, "Y'know, if you're so worried about your daughter, why don't you just leave? Tell the Guards that you escaped?"

"Because that will raise questions, maybe even an investigation," Rightful shrugged, "I'll have to lead them to where you held me, tell them everything I know about you, and I'll have to think of a suitable explanation to everypony and Aurora why you decided to ponynap me of all ponies. It's easier to just wait for a miracle to happen to take the attention off your motives. Besides-"

There came a loud clanging sound, the sound of metal hitting something else, from another part of the warehouse, interrupting Rightful before he could finish his sentence. Both stallions looked around in surprise.

"I don't think we're alone, sir..." Powerhouse murmured, looking around.

"Pretend I'm your prisoner," Rightful whispered, "Yell at me, play the role. We can't let anypony know that you work for me."

"Got it," Powerhouse nodded.

Horseapples! Aurora thought, gritting her teeth and squeezing her eyes shut as her hoof accidentally bumped into a metal pipe that was leaning against the wall, sending it to the metal catwalk beneath her with a loud sound of metal-on-metal.

She had snuck into the warehouse through a broken window on the side, and found herself on a metal catwalk with large crates stacked on it, high above the warehouse floor. Powerhouse was in here somewhere, and she half-expected him to jump out at her at any moment. Nothing happened, and Aurora silently sighed in relief.

She could hear Powerhouse talking in his gruff voice somewhere near the middle of the warehouse... he was close. Was her father with him? Aurora took her steps one at a time, the suit's fabric muffling the sound of her hooves as she tried to hurry forward while taking it slow. She wondered if the purple color would be visible in the dark.

"Shut up!" Powerhouse roared. Aurora tensed up, expecting to feel Powerhouse slam into her out of nowhere, grab her, and then rip her in half with his gauntlets, but nothing happened. She was still on the catwalk, staring down at the warehouse. The catwalk's view had previously been blocked by a few large crates, but as Aurora continued on, she could see over the crates and the top of Powerhouse's head, then his upper-body. Before she knew it, Aurora was staring straight down at Powerhouse and... her father.

"P-please..." Rightful moaned, "Let me go... I just want to see my daughter..."

Aurora's heart felt like it was being torn in half, hearing her father's voice so weak and fearful.

"You're not going anywhere," Powerhouse grunted, pushing Rightful down onto the cold concrete floor. Rightful let out a cry of pain when he hit the floor, and didn't move. Aurora could only stare down at the scene unfolding below her, "Get up!"

"I can't... my hooves... they hurt so bad..."

"Now!" Powerhouse roared.

Aurora threw herself over the side of the catwalk and fell to the warehouse floor, landing between Powerhouse and Rightful Vice. Her back legs were facing Powerhouse, and then Aurora kicked. Remembering everything Rightful had taught her, she lashed out with both of her back legs with all of her strength and caught Powerhouse in his torso, just below his neck. Surprised, the stallion stumbled backwards and then fell down. Aurora turned her gaze to her father, who was still lying on his back on the floor, but now he was staring up at the costumed vigilante standing over him with wide, unbelieving eyes.

"Y-You!" He stammered, "I-It... It can't be...!"

Aurora heard Powerhouse behind her, recovering from his initial surprise and mad as the mythical Lord Tirek on a good day. He got to his hooves, and let out a yell of fury.

"Legendary 'hero' or not, I'm still going to rip you to pieces!" Powerhouse vowed, lowering his head and tapping at the concrete with his metal-encased hoof like a bull. Aurora saw the concrete shattering beneath it, and her life flashed before her eyes as she faced the super-charged supervillain.

No! Gotta get him away from Dad... Aurora thought wildly. Instinctively, Aurora leapt into the air, her ascent aided by her wings, and she gracefully soared over Powerhouse's head. He looked up in bewilderment, still foolishly bent like a bull. Aurora hit the ground behind Powerhouse softly, and then began galloping toward the exit. Powerhouse turned around and charged at the costumed mare. Aurora heard his heavy hooves behind her, and dived to the side just in time as he leapt into the air and smashed down with his gauntlets, demolishing the spot she had previously been and leaving a wide crater in the concrete floor.

Powerhouse looked around crazily, his gaze finally finding Aurora. Aurora bent her legs, and then launched herself off the ground in Powerhouse's direction. She pulled her back right leg back, and then swung it at Powerhouse, catching him on the cheek, just below his left eye.

"Ungh!" Powerhouse grunted as his head snapped back with the force of the kick. Aurora landed in front of him as he stumbled backwards, and then continued her frenzied gallop toward the two big exit doors that Powerhouse had entered through, "You're dead, Mare-Do-Well!"

Mare-Do-Well? Aurora thought, repeating what Powerhouse had said in her mind, Yes... I am Mare-Do-Well. I'm Mare-Do-Well now...

"You gotta catch me first!" Aurora taunted, her mask muffling her voice so even she could hardly recognize it. Her confidence restored, Aurora leapt toward the exit and hurried out to the deserted streets of Manehatten's industrial district. Behind her, she could hear Powerhouse's enraged growl. Once she reached the opposite side of the street, she turned toward the warehouse and stopped for a second to catch her breath. She kept her eyes on the doors, fully expecting Powerhouse to burst from them at any moment like a rabid dog hunting down wounded prey.

A moment later, Powerhouse broke through two enormous windows above the double doors, shattering the glass and sending it onto the ground. He landed in the street, breaking a small crater in the pavement, and grit his teeth as his eyes glared into Aurora's. It felt as though he was looking beyond the mask into her very soul. With an unponylike snarl, Powerhouse threw himself at Aurora, who leapt off the ground and took to the skies on her wings.

"You'll have to be quicker than that!" Aurora said, deliberately trying to provoke Powerhouse. If Powerhouse was angry, he'd become reckless, wouldn't he? It made sense to Aurora... and it had worked in her Batmane comic books...

Powerhouse leapt into the air with surprising speed, nearly knocking Aurora out of the sky if she hadn't managed to dodge to the side at the last second. He reached for Aurora with his hoof, almost close enough to grasp the bottom of her long, dark blue cape, but ended up falling back down to the street emptyhoofed. He gazed up at her with a wild look in his eyes.

"You can't run forever!" He yelled up at her.

"Of course I can't, that's why I'm flying," Aurora replied smugly.

"You think you're funny?!" Powerhouse roared.

"No..." Aurora admitted, "I'm downright hilarious!"

Powerhouse leapt into the air again, making another grab for Aurora, who easily darted out of his way. Aurora raised her hoof to the mask in an exaggerated yawn.

"Is that all you've got?" She asked innocently.

Powerhouse's face went red, and he slammed one of the gauntlets into the street, breaking the pavement and creating even more work for the Manehatten Road Committee to deal with. Aurora wasn't impressed, and was beginning to think that everything in the newspapers about this guy were all hype. That was until she noticed Powerhouse was grabbing a chunk of pavement that he had dislodged from the cracked street, but it was too late. Powerhouse hurled it at Aurora, who tried to get out of the way, but the hunk of stone slammed into her middle, knocking the wind out of her and sending her flying across the sky like a shooting star. Powerhouse leapt into the sky again, chasing after her.

Aurora and the pavement separated halfway through their journey together, and Aurora found herself falling headfirst toward Manehatten. Spots danced in front of her eyes as she struggled to breathe. She could hear Powerhouse's victorious laughter coming closer. Aurora somehow managed to flip her body in midair so that when she hit the cold pavement of the street, it was on her back. She prayed to Celestia that no bones were broken. As she lie on her back in the alleyway, limp and defeated, Aurora thought that it couldn't get any worse.

And then Powerhouse fell from the sky and landed right next to Aurora's weak form.

"Not so tough now, are ya, smartmouth?" He smirked, standing over her. He slipped off one of his gauntlets and dropped it to the concrete, and then reached for her mask with his uncovered hoof, "Now let's see who this pony is..."

No! Aurora wasn't sure if she screamed the word in her head or out loud, but it gave her the strength to resist. She kicked up with one of her back hooves, hoping she had gotten it right with her vision, which had gone blurry and disoriented after the chunk of stone had knocked her out of the sky. She felt her leg connect with Powerhouse's chin, and realized it had been perfect. She grabbed the gauntlet that he had foolishly left discarded on the alleyway ground, and took off into the sky.

"Damn you to Tartarus!" Powerhouse screamed as Aurora began her frantic escape with the gauntlet. She saw a street full of chariots over the next wall of buildings, and knew once she had reached it, she could leave the costume someplace safe and blend in with the crowd on the sidewalk. Suddenly, Aurora felt a heavy weight on her leg, pulling her down toward the street. Surprised, she glanced down to see Powerhouse clinging to her leg with his uncovered hoof. She quickly realized that he had used his remaining gauntlets to launch himself after her and managed to barely seize her leg. Aurora realized that if he had grabbed her leg with his gauntlet-covered hoof, he might've broken the bones in it.

"Can't you take a hint?" Aurora coughed out as she began to involuntarily descend with Powerhouse's increased weight. She swung the gauntlet in her hoof at Powerhouse, who was quick enough to try to block it with his own gauntlet. When the two gauntlets connected, the air itself cracked with a feeling similar to lightning, or a miniature Sonic Rainboom. Powerhouse was sent back toward the ground while Aurora was thrown into a tailspin. She dropped the gauntlet as she lost control, and noticed she was headed for one of the tall buildings forming a wall in front of the chariot-covered street.

Aurora squeezed her eyes shut and braced for the impact just before she slammed into the side of one of the buildings, wincing in pain before she slid off the side of the building and fell toward the ground. Just before she hit, Aurora had one rushed thought:

I can't do this alone.

The world went black as Aurora hit the ground. She didn't even feel it.

Powerhouse didn't see where Mare-Do-Well disappeared to after he had reclaimed his power glove, but he smiled to himself nonetheless. He had read his fair share of Supermare comic books; If Mare-Do-Well was going to challenge him, the resulting chaos over Manehatten would make his job even easier. No matter how curious he was about who was under the mask, Powerhouse hurried away under the dark sky of night.

And yet... he still felt troubled.

Mare-Do-Well posed no threat to him whatsoever, but Powerhouse still had to fight back a sense of unease as he made his way back to the warehouse where Rightful Vice impatiently waited.

Aurora struggled back to consciousness with her last thought as clear as glass.

As the defeated Pegasus lie on her back behind the tall building with nopony in sight, she gazed up at the stars above. How beautiful they were when they twinkled. They were shiny, in fact. Aurora paused as her own musing repeated itself in her mind, and then the perfect pony to help her became perfectly obvious.

She groaned as she climbed up onto her aching hooves. Aurora stretched out her wings and winced in pain. Nothing felt broken, but flying was going to be agony. Aurora leapt into the air, and shakily began to fly over the rooftops. She straightened the wide-brimmed hat on her head, and took in a deep breath. Powerhouse had gotten away, but if Aurora could get this pony on her side...

After flying for a few minutes, Aurora arrived at the small house in downtown Manehatten that Shiny Seas and her mother lived in. She landed in an alleyway nearby, and pulled off her mask to wipe off her sweaty forehead. Aurora ran her hoof through her mane, and looked down at the mask. She began pulling the rest of the suit off, and a sudden wind-like sound rang out behind her. Aurora's head whipped around, and she glared at an empty alleyway. Nopony was there.

Aurora shook her head. Her brief encounter with Powerhouse had left her more rattled than she thought. Aurora wrapped the suit inside of the cape, and held it closed in her mouth as though it were a bag. She then hurried over to Shiny's front door and knocked.

Unknown to Aurora, a certain pony was passing by at that time. That pony had been partying late into the night, and was trying to get home. She was walking down the sidewalk and heard the beating of Pegasus wings down the alley, and looked for the source of the ruckus out of mild curiosity. To her surprise, she saw Mare-Do-Well coming to a weak landing in the middle of the alley. She watched around the side of a shop down the alley as the vigilante, to her surprise, pulled off her mask to reveal the Pegasus beneath. The pony recognized Mare-Do-Well as... Aurora? She gasped involuntarily, and then covered her mouth with her hoof.

She quickly ducked out of sight as Aurora turned around, looking intently for her. The pony waited for a minute, and then looked back around the corner. Nopony was in the alley... Aurora had left. She was a bit disappointed, but now she knew Aurora's secret.

And then Golden Eagle smiled to herself as she thought of ways to exploit this wonderful revelation.

Interlude 4-5

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Interlude 4-5

From the headlining page of Manehatten Daily:

Mare-Do-Well in Manehatten?!

At around 7 'o clock yesterday evening, many ponies in our sprawling city witnessed the vigilante known to Equestria as the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well flying high above the city buildings, confirming the assumption that she is a Pegasus. Various eyewitness reports, including sources here at the Manehatten Daily, confirm her appearance to not be a tall tale, not a trick, but true. It is currently unknown why Mare-Do-Well chose to move from Ponyville to Manehatten, but there is speculation that it is a copycat vigilante. Unconfirmed reports say that Mare-Do-Well engaged in confrontation against the notorious Powerhouse, a stallion who has recently gained public attention for citywide destruction. These reports insist the duel took place in Manehatten's industrial district, but they remain unconfirmed. While Mare-Do-Well was in Ponyville, she... See A1 HERO

Chap. 5- In Dark, There Comes Light

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Chapter 5:
In Dark, There Comes Light

Manehatten: The Past

In the life of Rightful Vice, ever since he had risen to the top of the metaphorical pyramid of the Soul Redeemers gang, only few things had remained constant. One of those constants was that Glistening Waters was his partner. There would be no Redeemers if he and Glistening had never teamed up and Rightful couldn't imagine working without him. Another constant was that the PurePonies were a big problem. The PurePonies, a self-righteous rival gang that believed they were a superior race of ponies, were the enemies, and that would never change.

The final constant thing in Rightful Vice's life was the most important by far: Aurora. He loved his daughter, and it was that love alone that motivated him into moving to Cloudsdale. It was that love that gave him the strength to throw his wife... to throw the Vigilante, he corrected himself, off the roof of the apartment building where they both lived.

Rightful hated his job sometimes, and gave serious consideration to quitting sometimes. After all, being co-head of one of the biggest gangs in Manehatten was deadly business, and fillies like Aurora tended to get hurt because of the father's mistakes. Every night, he'd tuck Aurora into bed and she'd say "I love you, daddy," before falling asleep. It melted the stallion's heart, and often sparked long nights when he'd lock himself in his bedroom, guzzle a bottle of Applejack Daniels, and think about his life choices.

By day, he was working his way up the corporate ladder at a Manehatten bank, and by night he was a mob boss. How strange his life was. The best part? His own daughter didn't know, didn't even suspect it.

The night went by as usual. Aurora climbed into bed, a tired Rightful covered her up with a blanket and kissed her forehead, and Aurora whispered, "I love you, daddy," as Rightful began to trot out of the room.

His hoof landed on a hardcover book, and he looked down instinctively to see what he had trodden upon. When he lifted his hoof, his eyes were staring into the Vigilante's mask. Aurora's copy of "The Vigilante of Manehatten" sat discarded on the floor. Rightful's heart skipped a beat, and he hurried out of the room. Aurora didn't notice.

Outside Aurora's bedroom, Rightful grit his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut as he began to sweat. When was he going to stop lying to his own daughter? When was he going to sit Aurora down and go over every single detail of how their life alone together came to be?

When was he going to tell her what happened to her mother?

Manehatten: The Present

There came a knock at the door, snapping Shiny Seas out of her thoughts. She pried her attention from the notebook that lie open on her desk and shouted out a "Coming!" over her shoulder. She clenched a stray pencil in her teeth and jotted down a few notes on the paper, and then dropped the pencil onto the desk as she hurried out of her room.

Shiny's mother had left for a little "girl time" (Shiny shuddered at the term) with a few of her friends for a night on the town. It seemed like she was gone all the time... which was fine with Shiny. It gave her more time to work on the designs in the notebook.

Shiny trotted out of her bedroom, through the living room, and then hesitated by the front door.

"Who is it?" She called out.

"Ish me!" came a familiar voice from the other side, but the voice sounded like the pony on the other side of the door was holding something in her mouth. "Aurora!"

Shiny opened the door slightly and peeked out, sighing in relief when she saw Aurora standing on her front porch, clenching a dark blue bag in her teeth. Shiny pulled the door open the rest of the way, and motioned Aurora inside. Her best friend hurried into the house from the cold Manehatten streets, and Shiny closed the door before a draft could wander in.

"Hey Aurora," Shiny greeted, "Anything new happen? Do you know if Rightful is okay?"

"He'sss fine!" Aurora spat out, trying to speak while she held the bag tightly, "Ssssomething in-portant, Shiny...!"

"I can't understand you, Aurora," Shiny sighed, "What'd you say? 'Something important'? Is it in that bag?"

"Bag?" Aurora tilted her head in confusion. Her eyes widened in realization, "Oh, dis? Dis isn't a bag."

Aurora lowered her head and gently set the bag down on the ground. She looked up at Shiny, who awkwardly smiled.

"Why so serious?" Shiny asked, throwing a quote from one of Aurora's favorite movies at her. Her grin faded when she saw Aurora was actually quite serious.

"Shiny, what I'm about to show you... you have to promise to never tell anypony else," Aurora said, putting a hoof on Shiny's shoulder, "It's very important. Very, very important."

Shiny looked into her friend's pleading eyes, and realized that Aurora had come to her out of desperate trust. Reluctantly, Shiny nodded.

"O-okay..." Shiny agreed, "I'll never tell another living soul. Cross my heart and hope to soar, however that goes. I promise, Aurora, okay?"

Aurora stared at her a moment longer, and then knelt her head down and poked at the bag with her snout. The bag began to fall open, and Shiny realized that it wasn't a bag: it was actually something wrapped up in a blanket or a sheet or-

A cape?

Shiny gasped as she realized that Aurora had been holding a costume wrapped inside a cape. A hat settled atop a purple uniform. Dark blue shoes poked out from underneath the rest of the costume. A mask stared up into Shiny's startled face. Her eyes darted to the wide-brimmed hat, and then to the mask. Finally she looked up, gazing into Aurora's solemn stare, a stare that was imploring for help. Shiny stared a moment longer, cold realization striking her as the dots finally connected in her head and she remembered what costume it was. Shiny looked up from the costume, fixating her eyes on Aurora, who seemed to be waiting for her to speak first.

"So you bought a Mare-Do-Well costume?" Shiny asked, shrugging, "Okay?"

"W-what?" Aurora's jaw dropped and an eyebrow raised, "Bought...? No!"

"How much did it cost? 30 bits? Wait... whoa! I didn't know you were a cosplayer, Aurora! This is great!" Shiny exclaimed in excitement, "Now we can go to conventions together! I have this awesome Diclonius costume that I can wear to Ponycon-"

"No, Shiny!" Aurora harshly interrupted, making Shiny's voice falter, "I didn't buy it, I-I stole it!"

"What?" Shiny raised an eyebrow, "You stole it? I know the prices in Manehatten can be a bit ridiculous, but-"

"No, Shiny!" Aurora put a hoof between her eyes and sighed, "Look, just sit down. I'm going to start from the beginning... you know how I always take the back roads to get home? Well, y'see... the other day..."

Aurora and Shiny sat down on the couch in Shiny's living room, and Aurora began to speak. Shiny listened in wide-eyed horror, occasionally gasping but not once interrupting as Aurora told her everything, from coming across Evergreen fallen in the street to stealing the costume to her brief duel and narrow escape from Powerhouse. When Aurora had finished, Shiny opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She looked at the costume, and then looked at Aurora.

"Y-you can't be serious," Shiny shook her head, rising from the couch, "Tell me you're joking. You have to give the costume back, Aurora. You can't be Mare-Do-Well!"

"Look, Shiny, my father's in trouble!" Aurora defended, getting up from the couch as well, "You said it yourself: the Manehatten branch of the Royal Guard is corrupt! If I don't save him, nopony will!"

"Listen to yourself!" Shiny shrieked, "Saving ponies? Costumes? Fighting villains? You think you're jumping right into a comic book! You don't know how dangerous this is, Aurora! You're going to get yourself killed if you try to stand up to Powerhouse! Forget what I said about the Guards, they're working to catch him! Not all of them are corrupt, they'll save your father!"

"If they ever get their heads out of their plots long enough to do that, my dad's gonna be dead!" Aurora sharply retorted.

Shiny paused. Aurora immediately knew that she was thinking of her own deceased father. She stepped forward and put a hoof on Shiny's shoulder.

"Listen, Shiny," Aurora said softly, "I can't do this alone. You're the smartest mare I know, and together I know we can make a difference. I need your help... your smarts..."

Shiny looked toward Aurora, whose heart sank when she saw a faint glistening in her friend's eyes.

"I need you, Shiny," Aurora whispered.

Shiny closed her eyes, and kept them squeezed shut for a minute or so. Aurora kept her hoof on her friend's shoulder the entire time, and tried not to look at the costume on the floor. Finally, Shiny's eyes opened and she trotted over to the Mare-Do-Well costume.

"Hmm..." she pondered, rubbing her chin with a hoof, "I think I might have something that can help."

Without warning, Shiny turned and hurried into her bedroom. Aurora, completely caught off-guard by the sudden change in her friend's attitude, followed after her. Shiny trotted over to her desk and looked at a notebook that lie open on top. Aurora realized that the notebook was Shiny's precious one; the notebook that had caused a fight with Golden Eagle. Shiny's eyes lit up, and she laughed a little as she turned around again and hurried back out into the living room, pushing past a confused Aurora.

"Yeah! I think I can help you out!" Shiny grinned, grabbing the mask from where it lie on the floor, "Can you leave the costume with me? I'll fix it up, add a few things here and there..."

"So does this mean you're going to help?" Aurora asked hopefully.

"It means I don't want to see you get killed," Shiny sighed, "Aurora, do you really have to do this?"

Aurora hesitated.

"I don't know, Shiny. I really don't know."


Masquerade Vanity, a dark brown unicorn, fidgeted with the bowtie on his tuxedo as he stared at himself in the mirror. Finally getting it into a satisfying position, Masquerade stepped back and tilted his head to the side, pleased with his appearance. After all, appearance was everything at these oh-so-important Manehatten dinners where millionaire stallions guzzled down scotch and then tried flirting with mares half their ages.

Masquerade, bringing a small champagne glass through the air with his unicorn magic and gently placing it on an endtable, turned away from the mirror and began strolling through the party. This dinner party was currently taking place in the penthouse suite of a rather expensive hotel. The host and owner of the hotel was nowhere to be found; Masquerade knew that he had probably locked himself in a bedroom with a drunken mare. He shivered at the filthy image as he navigated through the crowd of "high society" ponies, careful to avoid contact with any of them.

"Hey, you..." slurred a voice off to Masquerade's right. He stopped, and turned to face the voice with a stoic expression. The voice belonged to a red-cheeked mare who was stumbling over to Masquerade. Everything about her, from the blush in her cheeks to the wobbly way she moved, said that she had drank a few too many. She wrapped a hoof around his shoulders, making him flinch at her touch, "Brighten your night, darlin'... just a few more drinks oughta do it..."

"No thank you," Masquerade replied in his deep voice, "I'm quite all right."

"C'mon," the mare pouted, "What're you into? I can do the kinkiest stuff for ya, just a few more drinks, please..."

Wondering how a mare like her managed to get an invitation to the party, Masquerade gently pushed her aside and smoothed his tuxedo. Then again, it only made sense for the host of this little social event to invite mares who drank until they couldn't even remember their own names. He was probably sleeping with one at that very moment.

Masquerade made his way through the crowd, finding his way toward the exit. Incredibly, the red-faced mare scampered after him.

"C'mon, just a few more 'n I promise... I'm great 'n bed..."

Masquerade whirled around, quick enough to become a blur of motion. The mare stopped, nearly tripping. She hadn't anticipated Masquerade's sudden stop. She cast him a foolish smile.

"So, is this a yes? Because I hear they're almost out of wine-"

Masquerade's hoof lashed out and caught the mare's cheek with a wet, slapping sound that rang out over the entire party. The mare gasped as she moved with the blow. Her head snapped to the side and she practically dove to the floor with the force of the slap. Masquerade wiped his hoof on his tuxedo as the mare looked up at him with wide eyes, her mouth hanging open in an "O" of shock.

"You... you hit me... you hit me..."

"Ponies like you are ruining Equestria," Masquerade spoke curtly, unaware of the attention that everypony in the crowd was now giving him. The mare reached up with a hoof and rubbed her cheek, which was now burning bright red. Her blue eyes began to fill with tears, and Masquerade turned around and kept moving as she began to cry.

"Just wanted another drink, just one more... wasn't that much to ask..."

Masquerade paid no attention to anypony as he reached the exit and trotted out into the hallway where three stallions dressed in tuxedos similar to his were waiting. He reached the elevator and clicked the button to call it as the three stallions followed.

"How'd it go, sir?" one of them asked. Masquerade turned around.

"As well as you'd expect any Manehatten social event to go," Masquerade dismissed, trotting into the elevator as the doors finally opened. The three stallions followed him inside, one of them pressing the button to bring the elevator to the bottom floor, "You didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to, sir," the stallion replied as the doors closed.

Upon reaching the bottom floor, Masquerade made a show out of stumbling out of the elevator. The stallion behind the front desk glanced at Masquerade and gave him a small grin.

"Leaving so soon?" He asked politely.

"Yesh," Masquerade slurred, "Gonna try 'n find my way home... Thas' enough scotch for one night..."

The front desk stallion gave a polite smile, like this was something he saw all the time, and turned back to his work. Masquerade struggled to keep a drunken facial expression as he staggered outside of the hotel with the three stallions following after him.

Once outside the magnificent hotel, standing under the looming white building in the dimly-lit Manehatten streets, Masquerade spat on the sidewalk and stopped his drunk act.

"Just remember," Masquerade said, pulling a small metallic device out of his tuxedo pocket, "This is an extraordinarily large group of 'Manehatten's Finest' gone tonight. Our work was fantastic."

The stallions nodded in agreement, and then they followed Masquerade as he crossed the busy, chariot-covered street. Was there ever a point when Manehatten didn't have a chariot on every street?

Safely across the street, Masquerade and his followers looked up to the sky, gazing at the top of the hotel where the dinner party was still in full swing. Masquerade, shuddering a little as he remembered the filthy mare that had dared to soil him with her touch, pressed a small black button on the device.

With a thunderous crash, the roof of the hotel exploded in a fiery inferno as remote-controlled bombs were detonated. A black column of smoke rose from the roof of the once-tall and proud hotel as a few more explosives and three gallons of gasoline went off, consuming everything in a blaze of orange and red. Ponies on the sidewalks began to panic, and galloped away while screaming for the Royal Guards. The hotel began to cave in on itself as the damage began to take control. A stream of panicked survivors began pouring out the front of the hotel. Masquerade turned and began trotting away, with the three stallions following closely behind.

"Again, good work today," He praised, "Another victory for the PurePonies. Mark my words, Manehatten will be cleansed of all scum and sin. We're doing this for the good of all of Equestria!"

A few Royal Guards galloped past Masquerade and his followers as they rushed to the scene of the disaster. They arrived in time to save a few ponies from the rubble, but there had still been plenty of unavoidable causalities.

Just another success for the PurePonies.

Interlude 5-6

View Online

Interlude 5-6

She had found the newspaper on her walk to school.

There had been two major developments in Manehatten the previous night, so the editors at Manehatten Daily were clearly confused about which headline to print. In the end, they had decided on one, but the other headline's size was almost as big.


And about halfway up the page:

Mare-Do-Well in Manehatten?!

She was significantly more interested in the second headline. According to the paper, Mare-Do-Well had been sighted in Manehatten. There were confirmed reports that the vigilante had been seen flying over the city (and there was even a blurry photograph to prove it) along with unconfirmed reports that she had engaged Powerhouse, comic book hero style.

"Hmm... so Aurora actually fought Powerhouse?" She wondered to herself, impressed. Then again, Aurora had beaten her, so Powerhouse shouldn't have been a problem.

Nevertheless, Golden Eagle was deep in thought as she continued the trot to school, discarding the newspaper on the sidewalk behind her. Taking on Aurora one-on-one was a mistake. Eagle would have to put some thought into her revenge, especially knowing that Aurora was Mare-Do-Well.

Then again, if Powerhouse clobbered her, then Eagle wouldn't have to waste time on revenge.

She shook her head as she trotted, trying to push Aurora out of her thoughts as Manehatten High came into view.