Crystal Fallout: Sombra Invictus

by Miles Barbara Jewel

First published

Far into the future in the year 4010 where technology has predominated magic and the world has gone through several apocalyptic wars, a small group of ponies still following the path of magic resurrect an ancient figure in hopes of restoring balance.

Far into the future in the year 4010 where technology has predominated magic and the world has gone through several apocalyptic wars, a small group of ponies still following the path of magic resurrect an ancient figure in hopes of restoring balance.

Much of history regarding the olden days has been understandably lost and as such many facts of the past remain bland, which leaves room for error, especially when it comes to bringing back historical figures. It remains to be seen if the centuries of unlife within the void have changed the Crystal King, or if the world will get better or worse from the actions of these ponies, Celestia have mercy on their souls...

This story takes place in a future loosely inspired by Fallout (specifically the pre-Bethesda games), but the Crossover tag is applied regardless due to there being clear elements taken from the Fallout games. The Alternate Universe tag is there for the sole fact it heavily diverges from the canon MLP timeline.

This story may contain humorous and comedic elements of both pure and dark nature, much like Fallout itself. It is not tagged as Comedy, however, due to there being a limit on a maximum of 3 blue tags.

This story contains a possibly quite OOC, brutal, semi-rational/semi-empathetic and somewhat deceptive incarnation of King Sombra.

Character tags may be added in the future due to me not wishing to tag the story incorrectly until I write chapters actually containing the characters that might appear.

The cover is not made by me and is being used without permission. If there are any problems with this, I will remove it.

Feedback is always appreciated.

Chapter 1 - Return of the King

View Online

A bloody circle of summoning laid on the cold, metallic floor of the grand and tall room which had been amateurishly filled with wooden benches in four rows, separated down the middle equally with a wide space that could accommodate a gathering of ponies throughout the length of it without feeling too tight for a crowd; and a single podium-altar combination hoof-made out of metal with a wooden casing around it laid in the top-most middle of the room at the base of a short set of stairs; decorated with odd occultic trinkets and remains of long-dead unicorns.

One by one, six cloaked ponies gathered around the blood-made circle in the middle of the room, their unholy robes concealing all defining features but their varying heights. They had already each given a portion of their blood in the process of creating the shape and waited long enough for it to dry and become a permanent marking upon the metal. The only thing left to do was to adorn it with the damnable symbol.

"Dearest friends; brothers, and sisters, my closest companions and most loyal servants. This is it, tonight we will succeed in bringing forth a turning point for our eternal struggle!" exclaimed the tallest pony, speaking in a clear feminine voice accompanied with a rattling double-tone that one would expect to come from something demonic, but tonally it displayed maturity and knowledge to the hearing ears.

"The stars are right, our knowledge of our ancestors is vast, vaster than ever! These ancient arts, even through squalid and primitive means, they will bring fruitful results; as I stand and swear upon all of our fallen kin." she finished speaking before a green glow illuminated the darkness underneath her hood to reveal a face belonging to a light blue changeling with a light green and flat mane, dark red eyes and a very jagged horn that had multiple protrusions.

The robed changeling levitated a tray that one would consider to be of surgical origin and placed it upon the floor before her; it was unfittingly clean-like and shiny, unlike the surroundings, and it contained a scalpel of similar cleanliness. Without hesitation, the insect-like mare sliced her right leg open near the hoof and around a safer place with the scalpel and let the red liquid drip into the tray for a while, even squeezing some out of the appendage with her horn's magic before reaching out for a homemade gauze to tie up the wound and staunch the flow.

"You all know what to do, steady now." she said flatly as she levitated the bloodied tray over to the pony to her right, as well as the scalpel.

Once again, each cut one of their legs open just enough for blood to flow but not cause any truly dangerous damage before handing the tools to their right-most companion in a counter-clockwise manner around the circle. Soon enough, there was quite a bit of shared blood within the tray.

"May we see light in this choking darkness, and may this right all wrongs." said the second-tallest and quite widely-built equine right across the changeling; his voice deeply masculine and old. He broke the circle for a while as he went to retrieve a rather large stick with a brush-like tip, then he brought it back to the circle. Then, he handed it to the changeling who levitated it over to her side, as well as the tray of blood.

A moment of silence passed as the group stood motionless.

"Well... If nopony has anything to add, I shall commence!" she said with ever so mildly quivering confidence as she laid her hoof upon her chest, then she got to work. A simple task of merely drawing a wide-lined M, perhaps more easily explainable as an upside-down W with a straight line going through it horizontally.

In a few swift motions on the female changeling's part, it was done.

A few moments passed with nothing happening.

And then, the changeling jumped a bit.

"Ah- Yes! The most important part!" she exclaimed in a suddenly sheepish and nervous tone as her horn lit up green once again, then turned a bubbling purple and brighter green; her horn surrounded itself with crackling black electricity, and finally a wide beam that perfectly illuminated the summoning circle.

The blood, both fresh and dried, started to glow a neon blue as the ritual took effect. Slowly, shadows began to rise up from the spot in a cloudy manner, beginning to take a tall equine shape easily towering over all within the group.

The robed equines all took a good step away from the forming thing as if to give it space, and about as soon as they did a pair of green-sclera opened up; red pupils following fast in forming within them before lastly trails of purple smoke began flowing from the edges of them.

A dark, masculine groan echoed as the shadows finally formed the male equine. Hooves clanked against metal as his forelegs met the ground first, then his back legs, stepping out of the living shadow that was now traveling upwards and bringing the rest of him back into the mortal world.

The King's mane flowed in the unnatural wind caused by the summoning, all of which was flowing directly from beneath, beyond this portal that defied the rules of life and death. The ponies stared in awe at the sight of their doing, then... It settled.

Suddenly, the summoned unicorn's form buckled as if under extreme weight and his shadowy mane dropped down like it had been splashed with a large amount of water.

"Stay calm, give him time and space to adjust-!" the changeling ordered as the dark unicorn tested his grounds and looked around the place that to him, no doubt, would seem unsightly. His now somewhat normal eyes looked upon each of the equines circling him with a lost and confused look; he knew he looked pathetic and weak right now, but he knew it had nothing to do with his prolonged absence.

"Who... Summoned me?" he whispered out in an echoing, haunting voice as he forced himself up straight and flipped his hanging mane backward during the pause to get the tentacle-esque, interconnected locks out of his face.

"I am Star Diver! And these are my friends-- You cannot possibly comprehend what an honor it is to have you here." the changeling said in a genuinely warm and welcoming tone, motioning over to the others. Each and every one pulled down their hoods to reveal their heads and each gave a respectful bow.

"A changeling, four unicorns and a crystal pony..." the King said to no-one in particular as he looked at the ponies around him while considering his actions. He did not even know where he was, and after his last defeat, he did not feel very confident about going ham right now.

"Yes... Well, we are most certainly unicorns! And you are the Crystal King of legend! Oh, we must get you introduced to the others!" the changeling mare said with confidence as she pointed to the pony across her.

"This is Garcheval!" Star Diver introduced the stallion. He looked venerable, with a long braided beard and equally long and braided white mane on his head. His light brown coat was thin and aged; in some places, one could even see skin, but otherwise, he appeared to be a stalwart stallion even for his age.

"Your lordship." Garcheval rose from the bow and nodded his head respectfully to the stallion, giving him an intelligent look with his one black eye. The right side of his face was obscured with a square-shaped metal extension laden with wires connecting to his neck and the back of his head, and where the right eye would usually be laid a horizontal slit with a red light coming from within. It was a device that the King could not identify.

The changeling clapped her hooves once in approval as the elder unicorn introduced himself and then she moved on.

"Next, this is Shadow Eyes!"

The mare with the faded, light blue coat piped up at her name being called out. Her floor-length tar-black mane obscured most of her face, but it was still pretty clear that her eyes were closed shut as she straightened herself up from the bow. She looked young, but most certainly not healthy; the highlights of her bones could be seen through her skin.

"T'is an honor..." she'd whisper out weakly in a very soft voice and put up a warm smile before growing silent.

"This... Is..." Star Diver trailed off as the King clearly began examining himself with curiosity and disappointment in his gaze, as well as clear disinterest for introductions.

"I appear to have come back without my royal uniform, or crown..." he remarked. "You, Star Diver was it? What an unusual name for a changeling-- Explain this oppressing force that has befallen me and my powers!" he demanded with a slam of his hoof against the metal floor.

"Oh, my... Perhaps I've taken things too fast-" Star Diver placed a hoof on her lips in wide-eyed reconsideration. "How inconsiderate of me! I do not even know how long you have been truly absent, my apologies. And to think I was the one to talk about giving you space..." she shook her head slowly with a small smile that expressed anything but happiness.

"Please, follow me. Let us go to a more casual surrounding."

The group arrived at a sort of lounge, clearly underwhelming and put together with dwindling resources, but it was as good as it could get in these lands.

The crownless King took a seat on the best-looking piece of furniture, which was a rather oversized but seemingly high-quality armchair with a few tears in it. He waited for the others to take their own respective seats, then he leaned back into the surprisingly soft material.

"Begin." he ordered.

"Well... To be simple and clear, the world has fallen into decadent disarray over the years. There have been several great strifes in the time of the ancients and it continues to this day. Technology has made magic obscure and it lives on in only small and isolated societies like our own. The reason for your difficulties is, I theorize, due to you being last acquainted with a world ripe with magic even in the very air. Things have changed greatly, I'm afraid." that was the gruff and elderly voice of Garcheval who, as he said it himself, kept it fairly simple and clear. The dark unicorn they had summoned raised an eyebrow and silently appreciated the straightforwardness.

"I see. The immortal throne of Equestria was not as faultless as it set itself out to be if the state of these rooms is anything to go by." a show of passive arrogance came from the dark unicorn as he sneered a little. "This still does not explain why I've been brought here."

"You see, your majesty, like Garcheval said- Without magic, ponykind has lost its way! Major hardships and hard times have struck us across the ages, seemingly from the very first technological boom as they called them. There are so many troubles that cannot be solved with conventional means. The land above lays squalid and corroded by horrible machinations, pony-made creations and even nature itself! Half of Ponytropolis lays consumed by the forest nearby-- Ah, what was it called, dear?" Star Diver turned to Shadow Eyes with a questioning look.

"Uh, Everfree Forest, my lady." the lithe mare responded in a low voice.

"Right! Crystal King, there is little left regarding the history of the ancient era, but these scrolls and tomes that we've found littering the town above and this very underground have evidence of you being a grand warlock and wizard with great knowledge of magic! Please, I believe I speak for everypony in this room when I say this: You are the stallion all ponykind needs right now!"

Something... Clicked inside of the crystal king's mind at that moment after the changeling had finished her speech. His lips quivered from a frown into a neutral line, before he finally smiled, and soon after grinned. With a start, the unicorn stood up on the armchair, as if ready to give a speech.

"Of course, but know my name: I am Sombra, the Crystal King! I shall declare on this opportunity that while Equestria itself or its inhabitants have never been my foes I've never had a single ally within its borders, yet I had many enemies that wished and succeeded at ruining me!" he spoke with such sudden confidence that the entire group was taken aback, his voice itself going from deep, frail and brooding to charismatic, lively and booming.

"If Equestria could not stand me in the past, yet requires me dearly in its troubled times; I shall help! What use is there holding grudges against ponies who've probably never even heard of me before?" he hung his head as he finished, placing his right hoof over his chest.

"Nay, let it be known that King Sombra chooses to forget the past and looks to the future for the good of all ponykind, be they from Equestria or beyond!" Sombra finished with a charismatic grin and a rather friendly expression. Seemingly filled with a newfound will, he surged with a wave of magical energy and once more his mane began to flow majestically through the air as well as his tail and his red horn glowed ever so brighter.

Every inhabitant of the room was in awe, especially Star Diver who threw herself to the ground in a deep kneeling bow and the rest soon followed.

"I knew it--!" the changeling rose her head slightly to look up at their dark savior "I'll admit I had doubt in my heart when you initially spoke, but there is no room left for it! You are most certainly the King of legend! Forgive my silent skepticism, great Sombra." Star Diver damn near sobbed.

"Nay, nay my unexpected followers, and saviors, rise and stand proudly as you were! I had doubts myself, I am as guilty of them as you are-- When you initially brought me back I had only expected merely to be used by my summoners as I was once before upon a different time, and my will to listen was of questionable presence. However, I persevered despite myself, I have heard your pleas and I can feel down to my core that they ring true." Sombra hopped off the chair he was on to meet his fresh, new allies on equal ground.

"At first dawn, nay, within an hour at most I shall head out into the world and assess the damage for myself under the guise of a wandering mage. I will consult with the folk, do bidding for them, and do my best to gain their trust. Before long, this area will be liberated in the name of ponykind! But until then, let us get acquainted and iron out our plans..." he finished with a wide grin as he began walking off to the side and levitated an aged and blank tome casually to his side, clearly already making himself at home.

As the group rose back to their hooves, it seemed to be high time for perhaps a few mutual questions and answers, and the crystal unicorn of the group piped up first.

"King Sombra, with all due respect, when you first laid eyes on us you referred to two of us as, what was it, a changeling and a crystal pony?" the rather lithe stallion that could easily be mistaken for a mare asked with a hoof on his chin.

"You, my child. You are a Crystal Pony, you are of my lineage and kin." Sombra said as he approached him, setting aside the blank tome onto the chair he was sitting on and grabbed a reflective piece of glass with his magic, assumingly a piece of a mirror that had been left around. Then, he pointed it at him with the reflective part facing the pony.

"These long, dark indigo locks--" Sombra ran his hoof through the stallion's mane. "And this cream orange coat-- And these wonderous blue sparkling eyes!" he exclaimed as he technically stripped the pony of his robes, causing the stallion to let out a few noises of embarrassment. "Look at yourself, can you not see this ethereal shine and these hues? So majestic and divine, even in these dark times! There is no doubt about it. What is your name, my boy?" Sombra finished with a question as he let the stallion go and let him have his personal space back.

"C- Citrine Spark, ser..." he whimpered out as he shakily covered his body back up with the black robes.

"And you, Star Diver! My dear changeling..." the dark unicorn trotted up to her next confidently.

"Your majesty, not to question your knowledge, but I think you've got us confused for some other kinds of ponies, we're all merely unicorns trying to preserve magic; not some legendary creatures--" the changeling began speaking before being interrupted.

"I know a changeling when I see one, Star Diver. Sure, perhaps your kind has changed over time, as ironic as that may sound. There is that distinct lack of dark colors and... Other, more detailed features, but I am for certain you are one, if even but a descendant of the race." the King raised his right forehoof as he repositioned himself. "I have been in cahoots with your kinds a long, long time ago. This is a shame, do neither of you know of your true origins? Have you been truly taught that you are mere ponies? Sod it all, I will right this wrong, you will both reclaim your birthrights as long as I live!" he spoke as charismatically and dramatically as before.

The two in question stayed quiet afterward but bowed their heads in submission regardless, who were they to question him now?

Then, he turned to the regular unicorns within the group. "Know that you are all equal in the eyes of Sombra, I assure you of this. Now, who are the two remaining ones I had so rudely robbed of an introduction?" Sombra asked.

"Frozen Hoof, your lordship." the grayish-blue unicorn with a short gray mane and icy blue eyes introduced himself in a regal voice similar to Sombra's own. "I must say you are not precisely as I had expected you to be, and I mean this in the best way possible of course."

"Onyx Obsidia." the short, near-pitch black mare with a very dark gray shoulder-length mane said in an uncertain and shameful rough voice, cringing as she spoke her own name. "Please just... Just call me Onyx, or Obsidia." she pleaded with a very insecure look to her dark gray eyes.

"Most unnatural, yet most interesting... You remind me quite a bit of myself, youngling." Sombra approached and put his right hoof on her head. "Very well, Onyx it will be."

"Now-" the crystal King returned to his chair and once more took hold of the tome. "Please do inform me of any crucial details you may find important for me to know about the surface." the unicorn said as he grabbed a nearby pen, examining it and scribbling a bit upon the edge of the very last page for a test, realizing that this thing indeed operated much like a quill.

"Well... As I've already said, half of the city above had been consumed by nature. Nowadays it is in a rather horrid state. No true local leading figure exists, and a bar seems to have become more or less the center of the town. The streets lay ridden with waste and only the heavens know what may be happening during the night. This city, nay, the world is desperately in need of cleansing!" it was, once again, Star Diver who spoke.

Sombra worked rigorously with the pen upon the pages of the tome, keeping his ears perked up. "Very well, it shall be done. I shall return here from time to time to inform you of my progress! Although I shall take a few moments to relax and calm myself before I leave; perhaps on the way there! I doubt I would fit in behaving like this." he said with a somewhat self-aware smirk.

"King Sombra, this... Hardly sounds like an ironed-out approach; you should take at least a few days, maybe a week to learn everything about the situation of the world above we can teach you--!"

"There is no better teacher than sheer experience, my dear! Though, I should probably begin second-guessing myself, this time I simply must let it slip! It has been truly ages since I've even seen light, let alone the world! In the meantime, if you ponies would be so kind--" he finally stopped scribbling on the tome and took it with himself as he began leaving the group. "I would really appreciate if I was shown a way out..." he went back to his very serious and low voice as he finished talking, dropping the morale-boosting persona.

Roughly an hour had passed and he made a mental note of the entrance to the underground passages. As agreed before with his summoners, Sombra was passing throughout the struggling society within this fallen city of Ponytropolis in a casual manner mostly devoid of his previous charismatic aura, he had even let his mane and tail return to being physical and grounded by the laws of gravity. The damage done to this place was... Something else. Sombra could only grimace at the sight. Countless tall buildings which he had never seen before laid in ruins and houses that looked alien to him were in similar condition.

"I did not expect this..." Sombra whispered to himself, low enough to be unheard. Perhaps he would not need to try very hard to keep himself in check, the sight of the world alone sent the loud beast within him tumbling to the abyss.

The streets were full of trash, broken parts of various origins, papers, and the occasional homeless, starving pony; usually of the earth kind. One struck Sombra as peculiar after a cry of fear blasted his ears unprovoked; it came from a shivering mess of a mare that was trying to get up and run away upon spotting him, her violet eyes were as wide open as possible, pupils the size of raw beans. Her pale brown coat was covered in large, but light scratch marks roughly the size of her hooves; and her messy, rosy mane was held up in a ponytail tied with a simple rubber.

She breathed deeply and gasped for air, whimpering and wheezing as she repeatedly backpedaled into the wall behind her with her hind hooves, still not quite upright from her semi-laying position. Sombra's lips quivered a little at the display, almost smirking but never getting quite there, mainly due to his attention being taken by the several empty glass bottles littering the ground around her.

"Ach, that's ole Lilly fer ya!" came a voice from the side; it was one of the homeless folk Sombra had passed while he was walking, an old gray stallion with light olive eyes, dressed in ragged clothing and with a very torn beanie on his otherwise bald head.

"I beg your pardon?" Sombra asked.

"Lilly, the mare that looks like her eyes are 'bout to pop outta her skull, the one ya have been starin' at for 'bout a minnit, yeah that one!" the old earth pony spoke.

"Heaven's sake, Duke, he's going to take me! DO SOMETHING!" the mare yelled in sheer, uncontained terror at the hulking unicorn before her with a clearly drunk, slurred voice.

"Naw, naw I don' reckon he's gon' do that, sweetheart. Right, strangah?" the old stallion asked with a tinge of hope to his voice before turning back to her. "He's got the look of a goshdarn scholar, Lilly, relax!"

"...Truthfully, no. I have no intentions towards either of you, period." the dark gray stallion replied with a shake of his head. The mare still stared at him, ever so slightly starting to calm down, but her once fearful stare had been replaced with skepticism and suspicion.

"But since we are already engaged in speaking, can I ask something of you?" he turned to this 'Duke' pony.

"Sure, shoot!" the old stallion shifted a bit and inadvertently revealed that about half of his right hind leg had been replaced with some sort of metal prosthetic. The dark pony showed but a sliver of curiosity, but didn't question it.

"I am looking for some sort of tavern or a bar in this area. I haven't stumbled upon one yet." Sombra spoke in a sharp but non-threatening tone, at least as much as he could muster up one.

"Ahhh, now that's somethin' I know! Down the street, then turn right at that ol' scrap pile; it's got one o' those big signs sayin' Sweet Apple Inn above the door, can't miss it! Usually, there's town gatherin's in there from time to time, but I'd say it's pretty open fer business right now. It's run by the sweetest thing in Equestria, always leaves us struggling ponies a couple caps 'n' bits and sum drinks!" Duke finished giving his information to the stallion. "On that note, can ye spare sum change?"

"I am afraid I have nothing on me but this tome, although thank you for the time." he said.

"Bah, what'cha gonna do in the inn if ye got no monnie with'cha?" the old stallion asked with an amused wheeze.

"Just... Looking for information, I suppose. Farewell." Sombra said somewhat awkwardly before starting to head off.

He took a few steps before stopping, turning his head around to face them, or at least as far as it went due to him still facing away from them.

"The name is... Sombra, by the way..." he said with some reluctance before resuming on his path. The pair proceeded to talk about the encounter behind him, but their voices simply muffled in his mind as he focused on the barely existent road.

As he traveled down the street, the dark unicorn exhaled loudly, as if he had been heavily troubled. Regardless, he followed the path given to him by Duke. Sure enough, about as soon as he turned the corner he could spot the sign and the rather sizeable door beneath it. To the left was an open plaza-like area; it even had a few statues of unrecognizable ponies around it that weren't wrecked, as well as more equines hanging around it on benches and the ground. Sombra just huffed at it and proceeded back to what he came for.

Sombra stepped into the decrepit bar and intruded on a tussle that had been happening near the entrance; a tussle that inevitably ended with an empty bottle getting smashed over his head right about as he stepped into the interior proper; truly a warm welcome.

All eyes turned to him; the unconventionally tall and attention-taking unicorn that had just been accidentally assaulted.

A small trail of blood trickled down from the top of his head and traveled across the right side of his face. As it came down to his lips, he caught the drop with his tongue and proceeded to keep it in his mouth for a moment, then spat it out on the floor mixed with some saliva.

The dark unicorn snapped his head towards the direction the bottle had come from, spotting a rather short but nevertheless bulky earth pony that looked anything but apologetic. Sombra, however, was not going to ask for an apology in the first place.

His curved horn crackled with black electricity and lit up a bright red and the offending pony was lifted off the ground, then brought up towards the unicorn face-to-face. He was only met with a forceful headbutt that effectively sent the stallion out of consciousness and left him bleeding in a similar fashion to Sombra. Afterward, the yellow-coated male was discarded from the monarch-would-be’s magical grasp and landed on the unclean wooden floor while the other participant of the fight Sombra had interrupted retreated back to his seat in silence.

“Over here stranger!” a rather country-esque, excited and feminine voice called out, its source being the light red coated barmare with striking green eyes who was waving him to come over to her with a half-interested expression. Sombra obliged silently.

“Haven’t seen myself a stallion with as hard a noggin’ as yours in years, not since m’brothers left town. An’ ah can see you were holdin’ back.” She began talking as she leaned over the counter and grabbed a shard of glass that had embedded itself into the gray stallion’s head using her teeth and janked it out then spat it out off to the side.

“An’ not even a flinch, eh?” she smirked as she looked back at him and tossed him a rag.

“I’ve had worse.” He replied casually as if this kind of thing happened every day and began wiping his face before pressing the rag against the wound to staunch the flow while taking a seat in front of her. “…Going by your reaction, one would have to assume violence is not alien here.”

“With that look ya’ve got in yer eyes, ah wouldn’t doubt you 'bout havin' worse- An’ yeah; honest, ah wish y’didn’t knock ‘im out right off the bat though. Tussles be always entertainin’! Save for when we got a gatherin' an' important talks, then naw, that's just disrespectful.” she exclaimed with a short laugh. “Say, ah can’t help but notice yer new in town, where do you hail from, handsome?” the country mare asked with an ever-so-widening smirk.

“…Far north.”

“Ol’ Canterlot? Ain’t y’folk holed up real nice and tight up there? Been hearin’ y’all broke off all independent-like, can’t say ah blame ya-“

Really far north.” Sombra interrupted with a frown. “Technically outside Equestria.”

“…Oh, golly, that’s reeeeeeal far up north then, didn’t even know ponies lived outside these parts. That'd explain the, uh, odd horn. No offense.” The mare said as she began wiping mugs with a clearly long in-use fabric.

“Comes with the knowledge and the arts.” Sombra brought up the tome into her vision and tapped the top of it with his right hoof.

“Ah… Anyway, th’ name’s Red Cripps, everypony just calls me Cripps though!”


“Well Sombra, you are a very fancy stallion, dare I say..." the mare got lost in thought for a moment.

"I've heard about some sort of forest problem around these parts, Cripps." Sombra said in a monotone again, disrupting any thoughts the mare might have been getting while finally placing the book on the counter.

"Oh, right! Yeh, this city used ta be bigger but most o' it got gobbled up by that dang forest! 's been pretty dormant lately though and besides- We've got bigger problems 'round here." Cripps said in a suddenly less that cheerful voice.

"Y'see... There's been this gang o' misfits botherin' us lately. An' when I say botherin', I mean they trash and rob places, kill folk that stands up to 'em."

"Brigands then? Bandits? Thugs?"

"Ye, 'course they're that, and more! This place didn't look squeaky clean for sure, but it was sure as heck more bearable." the red mare hissed as she kept cleaning the mug, at a rather aggressive pace now.

Sombra stayed quiet for a while before leaning his hooves onto the bar stand. "Thank you for this information, lady Cripps." he said with a nod.

"Hardly a lady, but hey, it's only fair to let unsuspectin' folk know 'fore they lose their heads. They usually show up 'round every weekend night, 's like a friggin' work schedule for 'em. That'd make it... Ah crud-" the mare placed the mug she had been cleaning onto the table and pulled out a notebook that seemed to serve as a homemade calendar.

"Aw fuck, they're comin' tonight!" she exclaimed and caused the whole bar to go silent. "Ah, hay, looks like I'll be closin' down early tonight, folks!" Cripps said with a nervous chuckle, already taking the cleaned mugs from the table and began placing them behind the bar, earning muffled exclamations from the patrons who immediately began getting ready to leave. Some approached the bar stand to pay up, others just left their payments on their tables.

Sombra let out a sigh and reached for the tome, but the annoyance did not last for long. A sound unlike any he had heard could be heard from the distance. A loud series of roaring that did not sound like it belonged to any creature.

"Speak of the filly-fucking devil!" the red barmare exclaimed. "Figure you should leave now, sugarcube, a'ight? Just 'bout everypony upped and left anyway." she gave him a weak smile, but Sombra just started tapping his right hoof on the counter.

"I don't mind waiting for them here if they're already this close." he said with a mild spark of confidence.

"Look, ah liked yer display an' all, but these are full on armored, armed and dangerous jackasses!" Cripps said, her expression quickly turning into a serious frown.

"...Maybe I'm one too?" Sombra asked, yet, his ear twitched upon the roars ceasing, fading into a different sound that resembled a loop of deep, guttural gurgles. He was not fazed until a few moments later when he heard a scream. Not just any scream.

The scream of the mare he had met not long before coming in here.

Sombra kept tapping his hoof against the wood, at first with an unchanging demeanor. Then he started picking up the tempo, clearly discomforted by just sitting in place as the bloodcurdling screams outside continued.



A different scream, belonging to a stallion this time.

That was most certainly the old earth pony.

Sweat started building upon his forehead. His right eyebrow twitched and his face strained itself to the point that the wound on the top of his head re-opened. Fresh blood began staining the cloth he was holding up to his head. Something built up within him continuously until...

"Gah, sod it all! And sod me along with it!" the unicorn grabbed his tome with his magic and stormed out without even a parting word with the red mare.

He ran. He ran, not away but towards the sounds, slowing down to a walk as he came to behind the corner.

"Nice find, Lucky! That thing looks worth a pretty cap!" it was a young stallion's voice, one he had obviously never heard before. Another female scream came and Sombra cringed openly, then rounded the corner.

There was a group of ponies around the spot where he had met the pair of homeless ponies that interacted with him, about ten heads in total. Various colors, various races, at least from what he could see in the barely illuminated streets.

The old stallion was laying on his belly, trying to crawl away. There were two bleeding holes in his back, almost perfectly slit-like in shape. His prosthetic hind leg laid some good three feet away from him, hacked off amateurishly at the knee which had caused rather profuse bleeding. The other homeless in the vicinity were nowhere to be seen, except for...


Lilly laid sprawled on the street, pinned by a couple of earth ponies who were currently in the process of brutally assaulting her in more than one fashion. She screamed and bellowed with an extremely pained expression. Blood ran freely down her nose and mouth, and from what it looked like, her left eye's sclera had been reddened, and around the actual eye itself was a very, very serious-looking bruise.

"Boy, run boy!" Duke yelled out as much as his wounds allowed him to upon spotting Sombra, but the latter had no intentions of doing so. Instead, he approached him and levitated the rag off of his bleeding face, tore it up quite a bit, then wrapped it around where he'd assume the most important blood vessels would be on the re-amputated leg. Another pained noise came from Duke once he tightened the cloth. Then, Sombra proceeded further down the road.

"Oh shit, check out library boy over there!" one of the male earth ponies in a leather getup and a bandana on his head called out and pointed at Sombra, and more specifically the large book he had been half-hugging to his chest. In response, a very, very dark blue unicorn mare that was standing on her hind legs turned her sights towards him; the others clearly did not care as they went about their business of absolutely ruining the poor homeless mare, or were waiting in line to do so. A handful of them were merely sitting on motorcycles and kept them running.

The dark blue, maneless mare began approaching Sombra. The spot she had been standing on contained Duke's hind leg, and she had a large blade attached to her left hoof via a crude metal gauntlet. It was covered in fresh blood. It wouldn't take a genius to figure out she was the one who carried out the deed.

"Oh my, you look quite... Dashing, dear. Simply delicious~" the mare cooed with a shaky and clearly unstable grin as she eyed him up with her yellow eyes. Sombra stayed unmoving, allowing her to close the distance between them.

"What's the matter, big boy? Cat got your tongue?" she teased, standing a good full head above him, if only because she was standing up.

"I don't speak to corpses." the dark stallion replied flatly, letting his wound bleed freely across his face. At this point, it didn't seem to faze him.

"Oh, you edgy piece of shit. I can't find myself one single pure nerd in this shithole, can I?" the mare spoke in what sounded like a genuinely disappointed voice and reared up her bladed hoof to slash across his neck. Then, something tugged her hoof mid-swing.

"Wha-!?" she hissed as she looked at the hoof that was about to strike true. It was suspended in mid-air with a crackling, electricity-like aura. Then the bladed gauntlet was slipped off her hoof and pulled up to Sombra's right side, where it was dismantled piece-by-piece until only the blade remained floating and the rest of the construct laid in a junk pile at his hooves.

The mare smirked a little, a bit teasingly, a bit out of being impressed by the red-horned unicorn. "Oh nooo~ You wouldn't hurt an unarmed little thing like me, now would you sweetheart?" she said in a clear taunt, assured in control over the situation.

"Observe, harlot." Sombra said in the most chillingly serious and dead-set voice he had spoken in all night, but it was not the blade that was now in his possession that struck. Nay, that would be the thick, heavy tome that traveled out of his hoof at sonic speed with help from his telekinetic magic. It landed square against the snout of the mare, filling her mouth with quite a few of her teeth; then, it swung up and slammed back down against the top of her shaved head, causing her to spill out the aforementioned teeth, as well as sending her sprawling belly-first across the road.

Silence struck after the act, and once more he found many pairs of eyes staring him down. He retrieved the tome and left it floating to the left of his form, while pointing at the group with the large blade from his right side.

"Cease these barbaric acts with the mare and kneel before Sombra while my offer of mercy still lasts." Sombra growled, baring his fangs openly.

Then, a tall white mare got off the motorcycle she had been on; her horn glowed pink as she retrieved something from a leathery-sounding pouch attached to the bike itself. She wore an impeccably made metallic armor on the top of her body which contrasted with her full-face welding helmet that looked unprofessionally reinforced and, of course, obscured her face. She pushed past the rest of the group and stepped out in the open. She held a long, black metallic rod combined with a wooden stock and other mechanisms that jumped completely over Sombra's mind.

It was a shotgun, and clearly, one designed with only magically-able unicorns in mind. No visible triggers or easily graspable spots existed, so the wooden parts were most likely just for decoration.

"Sombra, is it?" she spoke in a rough but non-threatening tone. "I apologize for the behavior of my mares and stallions, Lucky's approach was especially uncalled for, even if your response was fucking ridiculous. Do you know these ponies or what?" she asked with a shrug.

"..." Sombra was quiet at first, doubting his own thoughts for a bit. But... He came this far already.

"What you are doing is encroaching on my new territory."

"My boys and girls need some fun and mullah, everypony does. Prosthetics are pretty valuable, and street rats that just stay there and take it are pretty rare all things considered. It's nothing personal, Sombra. Truly." she said as she repositioned her weapon to be more in line with the crownless King's form.

"Then your existence contradicts with my own."


A group of pellets scattered across the wall behind Sombra and blood followed right behind them, splattering across the structure as the mare was magically blasted backward into the gang's vehicles. Sombra hissed and stared at the ponies trapped by the collapsed bikes, but he turned his attention towards the group that was now busy pulling out of Lilly's orifices in a hurry.

With a grimace and a series of stings that littered the right side of his face, the King pounced towards the closest one, impaling him right under the neck with his curved horn and in the process toppled him over to the ground with a scream of anguish coming from the stallion. Then Sombra carved downwards while holding down the male earth pony's front hooves to the sides with his own, splitting his lime green exterior open, exposing his organs, and lastly spilling his guts out, even tearing some up as he swiftly pulled away.

Seeing the other stallion that was now in front of him cowering on the ground, he took priority to look behind himself, spotting the third one desperately trying to pull something out from its holster on his belt. He kicked him square in the jaw with his left hind leg, then returned his attention to the cowering one in front of him now that the third threat was stunned.

Without hesitation, he buried the blade he had been still levitating straight into the male pony's still erect shaft, pinning the organ to the ground and causing a most horrid scream to exit the Rapist. Then, Sombra turned back to the recovering stallion behind him and with a struggle, sent a crackling blast of purple and green straight through his eye and out of the back of his head. The dark missile landed into the side of the leather-clad, bandanna-wearing stallion, went through him as well, and then finally submerged into the remains of the road.

As both of the blasted stallions fell and one writhed for a moment before consciousness faded from him, Sombra let out a breath of overexertion.

The group that was buried in their own bikes had by now made progress of getting them off of themselves; Sombra used this opportunity to finish up and pulled the blade out of the now-unconscious stallion's bleeding member, then slit his throat; afterward, he looked over to the blue-coated mare's knocked out form and shot a blast of dark magic at her head, spilling her brains and blood across the street.

In the heat of the slaughter, he had completely forgotten about the ravaged and sodomized mare on top of which most of the carnage took place. She was laying in a fetal position amidst the blood and gore, with warm liquids alien to her body both on her and inside of her. Sombra was yet to see the shell-shocked display, however.

"That makes half..." Sombra exhaled as he steeled himself for another clash, one that would be undoubtedly harder. Yet, here he was, panting like a dog after a short display of strength against ponies that weren't even prepared to fight back.

"Come on then! Sombra doesn't have all night to waste away!" he taunted as he began approaching the still struggling ponies, knife still levitating to his right and the tome to his left; he was starting to limp as the adrenaline wore off and soreness accompanied with pain began setting in. It was then in great surprise that the remaining four desperately got out of the pile, got on what bikes they could reach closest, and rode off into the distance with remarks such as "Fuck this!".

That left the leader.

The no longer clear white mare laid sprawled between the now parted piles of motorcycles and with her back leaning against the wall. A black scorch mark was still smoking square in the middle of her chest. She slowly cocked her shotgun, ejecting an empty shell to the side, levitated the weapon up and pointed it towards his advancing form. When he did not show signs of stopping, she turned the weapon towards her head and pushed up the barrel against the unarmored bit of her temple.


Sombra stopped in his tracks and sat down on the ground. He inhaled deeply and let out a sigh before beginning to unbuckle the armor off of the mare's body with his magic.

Chapter 2 - Diamonds and Crystals, Part 1

View Online

As the rage of battle settled down fully, the sound of the ever so blowing and haunting wind replaced the heartbeat within Sombra's ears, feeling almost like an everlasting droning sigh; a dying groan coming from the very afterlife. The most atmospheric, distant creaks, wails, and rattles of aged metal echoed ever so often. The sounds of a ghost town, unnerving to listen even after meeting other ponies within it beforehand, even after fiercely ending several lives.

Sombra had been putting on the armor he had looted from the leading mare's corpse for the last few minutes. It was certainly a tight fit, and the leather belts keeping the front and back together were straining under the sheer width of the hulking unicorn's body, but it would have to do for now.

He was pleasantly surprised at the boon that his blast had only merely left a few melted spots on the very bottom of the armor. Did he somehow curve the shot in the haze? He could not recall being able to do that, but on the other hoof, he never had a quite literal close-cut of a standoff like this before.

He still felt the stinging across the right side of his face from the pellets that the mare's weapon had ejected at him, it had been forgotten in the rush much like other feelings throughout his body. He reached up to feel his cheek and felt torn skin beneath his right hoof, some hanging flaccidly off of what he could only assume was bone. Sombra squinted in discomfort at the feeling before forcing a surge of dark magic through his body, causing his mane to take on its ethereal form once again and every single wound on his body expelled smoke from their openings, ceasing the flow of blood instantly, yet his wounds seldom regenerated; in fact, they did not regenerate at all.

As his mane subdued and the flow of magic stopped, the stallion frowned to himself. "This is too strenuous and ineffective..." he commented to himself in a murmur, as if to avoid being heard by the would-be victims of gang assault he had met on this night.

"Life continues, 'Duke'!" Sombra called out to the old pony. "Are you still conscious?" he asked with words that would imply concern, yet his voice seemingly showed none in tone.

"'bout as conscious as can be with two 'oles and a chopped-off kneecap." Duke groaned out the words, rolling over onto his back before propping himself up on his forelegs to sit up. "Say... You wouldn't happen to be one o' those Death-Horn folk, aye? I know y'speak an' all, but I didn't see this kinda shitstorm since, well... A Death-Horn rolled up in this joint."

"That title, 'Death-Horn', it rings nothing true to my memory." Sombra said flatly in response.

"What 'bout that whole uh... Floating thingy yer doing?" the old stallion waved his left hoof and waved it around while pointing it at the book and blade in Sombra's magical grasp.

"I... Am merely using telekinetic magic, the leader of this group was doing the same." he nudged the white-coated corpse that he was still facing. "I would have assumed the general populace would at least have the common knowledge of its existence, hrrmmm..." the dark unicorn hummed to himself as he suppressed any insults from leaving his mind.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence.

"'Duke'?" Sombra asked as he turned his attention to the old stallion before noticing the elder pony's eyes were not staring back at him but beyond him. Tracing his line of sight, Sombra noticed that it was the red-smeared pony-pile that his gaze had been captivated by.

"Lilly? Lilly ol' girl, you still with me!?" he called out loudly and pathetically to the pile of bodies and spilled organs, losing hope as he could not even recognize a single feature of the mare he knew within it.

The swarthy unicorn's red horn began lighting up for a second before black crackles of electricity that sucked out the red light from the curved extremity began dancing across the horn itself, and deep within the pile.

"A- Aahhh-- A- Ahnnnn!" came whimpering sobs of sheer fear; whimpers and sobs that were intended to be cries of panic as the mare was pulled out by her right hind leg. Thick, dark, still raw blood dripped off of her red-tinted form. A pink-ish mixture of blood and... Other fluids seeped out of her nether orifices as Sombra, with some concentration, managed to grab the mare's entire body with his telekinesis and turned her upright before setting her down as gently as he could onto the remains of the road.

Lilly looked visibly nauseous, sick to the core. Each heavy breath coming from her mouth brought her closer to the edge, but for the next few moments, she resisted. One of her eyebrows was furrowed over her bruised eye; a good few centimeters lower than her other brow, and her damaged eye's pupil had dilated almost completely so, almost making the entire eye look black.

"O- Oh Goddess--!" was all she had time to mutter before loudly retching and ejecting a foul, yellow geyser laden with chunks of brown and globs of white from her throat. Some of the thicker parts of it stuck to the depths of her throat, forcing her to only retch and eject further amounts out of her system. The putrid mixture landed near Sombra's hooves and threatened to spread towards him as it began to pool.

Sombra looked visibly repulsed by this, his ears twitching and leaning back against his head as he took several steps back. He turned his attention back to Duke, who himself observed the act that took place.

"Goodness gracious, I don' think she's had it this bad 'til now. Feck's sake!" the old earth pony struggled as he got up on his three hooves before limping over to Sombra's side. The dark stallion looked over to him, seeing that the wounds on his back did not look quite lethal; whatever those thugs had tried, they were either terrible at it or intentionally left shallow wounds.

"You're alive," Sombra said rather flatly as he turned to look at the mare again. "You both are."

"I don't reckon she... Wants to be. Even, uh, 'fore this all." the old stallion whispered with a grimace. "I'm pretty sure ya noticed before that this ain't exactly 'er first-"

A weak, choking, quivering yell came from Lilly as she started sobbing loudly. Duke only stared with a saddened and guilt-ridden expression, closing his eyes after a while as her wailing continued and collapsed backward onto her flank. The mare was clearly already affected by past experiences if her behavior from before all this was anything to go by. Neither Duke nor Sombra could really comprehend what she must have felt now, albeit the latter perhaps did not even try to.

"Come now." Sombra muttered as he began approaching Lilly while Duke limped towards the bodies and began looking for anything useful. The light brown mare began shaking once the dark unicorn approached her, but she just remained staring blankly through him and whimpering to nobody but herself.

"We are standing in the open, there is no telling if this was all of them, they may return in greater numbers." Sombra tried reaching out to her with his right hoof, but there was no reaction to his words or his touch.

"Ahahah, crikey I hope not!" the old earth pony said in a semi-fearful wheeze. "Anyhow, you uh... Wanna bag?" Duke asked as he held up a saddlebag with his teeth. Sombra turned to look at it before taking it off him, inspecting the bloodied thing. It was dark in color, most likely due to prolonged use, and it was made of a whole array of hues with clearly stitched together parts from various cloths and materials. He merely opened it up and stuffed it with the tome and blade, then hung it up over his back.

"What are you planning to do about her?" Sombra asked the old earth pony as he tried nudging his hoof against her again in a manner that resembled a foal poking a broken toy, she only shuddered in reply.

"Eh, what can I?" Duke asked him in return as he began stripping the leather armor off of the earth pony that had been wearing it. "I mean-- I- I tried ta help 'er, but she jus' freezes up every time somethin' bad happens. Never got my arse handed t'me 'til tonight, an' things never got quite as bad as now, though..." the gray stallion furrowed his brows as he tried to get her attention for a moment, to no avail. "I guess I'll hafta jus'... Drag 'er off t' a building." he said with a shrug, then he returned to looting, procuring a newfound bag from the corpse pile and proceeded to stuff whatever he thought was useful into it.

"I see. What about your leg?" Sombra moved on from the topic as he turned to the amateurishly removed prosthetic on the ground.

"I'd try gettin' it re-attached, but those bastards went ahead an' chopped off more of m'knee- I'unno, I'll try ta get it extended or somethin', this shite's bound to haul sum monnie to pay off fer that!" he said as he began going through the putrid pile again in search of trinkets, weapons and such. Which... Brought Sombra to the thought about the weapon that the leading mare had used.

The crystal King approached the white corpse again and picked up the specialized shotgun from the spot it had fallen near her; his brain was suddenly filled with sensations unfamiliar to him as his magic went into the gun's interior itself, feeling mechanisms and concepts his mind could not quite completely comprehend yet. He cocked it a few times, imitating the motions that the mare had done before after firing. One, two, three thick, red-colored cylindrical shapes came out of the weapon to the side before the pumping seemingly did nothing more. The dark gray unicorn just stared at them as the rolled about, eventually settling down.

"Aye, that thing could bring in some good bits!" Duke called out. Without missing a beat, Sombra handed it over to him.

"Take it then." he said as he pushed it into the stallion's hoof, remembering for a moment that there had been something that the white mare pulled it out from before... On one of these steel vehicles.

For a bit, Sombra looked through the pile before finding the thing he was looking for attached to a black-painted motorcycle which was currently toppled over. Regardless, it was easy enough to reach and it detached easily; some sort of leather holster for the mystery weapon. He handed that, too, over to Duke. However, Sombra's attention moved to a leather bag that he had not taken notice of before. It was attached in an extremely secure manner to the back of the bike. With some curiosity, he opened it, and within it found a large steel box, a smaller plastic one, and rather heavy, velvety looking bag. Not things that he would associate with mere bandits; these possessions were most likely stolen.

Sombra opened the large box, peered inside and took a few moments to comprehend what he was looking at.

It was a short construct similar yet different from the weapon that the white mare used, yet, a far less complicated one. The interior of the box had a purple casing that hugged the shape of this tool of destruction perfectly. He took it out of its cushiony prison and dropped the box without any interest, examining the construct in the grasp of his magic.

Four barrels, extensively engraved in tribal patterns and shapes. The metal half looked like pure silver, giving it a glint from the tiniest of light sources. It had a high-quality wooden handle with the words "Bear-Claw" engraved on each side. A sawn-off, break-action, quad-barrel shotgun; custom-made for unicorn use only. Speaking of use, it looked brand new, likely the gang's latest haul from wherever they took it.

It was bulky, bombastic, stylish; most importantly, it did not feel severely confusing in his telekinetic grasp; in fact, it felt quite simple to operate. Sombra had taken a liking to it already.


It snapped open at a silent command, revealing the four empty barrels. His mind went back to the cylindrical objects that he had accidentally scattered out of the mare's gun. As he turned to them again, something within the velvety bag moved around, catching his attention. He opened it up, glanced inside, and raised an eyebrow as he saw that the bag had been filled to the brim with cylindrical objects of similar shape and size to the ones on the ruined road, except golden-colored.

He pulled out a good four of them before closing up the bag, proceeded to load them one-by-one into the barrels, then closed the weapon back up. It was primed now, ready to be used, and he felt like he had sufficient enough knowledge on how to use it as if instructions had been magically embedded into it and had unlocked upon his magic meeting with the tool.

He holstered the thing in his bag, along with its ammunition and the plastic container he decided to save for later, then he scooped up the red shells that remained on the ground and levitated them over into the bag as well.

"What in the Goddamn...!?" came a bewildered, rough voice from the distance as a bipedal figure approached, obscured by darkness and shadow. Its form was about as tall as Sombra's, and about three times as wide. Duke limped his way over in front of Lilly, facing this new arrival as Sombra merely turned his attention to the shadow.

"What the fuck happened here?" the creature demanded as it unholstered something from its right hip and pointed it at them.

"Thugs, strangah. Tried ta rob us an' all that comes with it, but this ol' boy saved us." the aged earth pony replied with uncertainty to his old voice. "Who might ye be?"

"Fuck do I look like to you, wretch?" the figure stepped out of the shadows. It was an olive-furred Diamond Dog wearing some sort of security outfit, complete with a kevlar helmet and vest that each had a patch depicting an insignia or coat of arms with a yellow gear layered behind a light blue shield on top of it. Its, or rather, his eyes could not be seen due to a large pair of colorless mirrored glasses that he wore. He was currently pointing a pretty sizable pistol-esque weapon of even more advanced design than what Sombra had seen in use by the band which had attacked them.

"Aw feck, 's the cops." Duke whispered.

"Yeeees, I am a member of The Security, amazing perception!" the Diamond Dog growled out. "And we're gonna see just what happened here, you blood-soaked messes. You're coming with me!"

"We can't!" Duke argued as he moved a bit to the side, revealing Lilly to the bipedal canine. "We got a traumatized lass here!"

"Traumatized my ass, come here!" the canine yelled out and began walking towards her in a rush.

A dark, blood-stained hoof was suddenly outstretched between him and her; Sombra looked at him with a stoic expression as he shook his head sideways. "No, you do not understand. She is not responding even to him," Sombra motioned with his head over towards Duke "And they were long-standing neighbors from what I've seen."

The Diamond Dog seemed to focus his sight on the borderline catatonic mare sitting in place and breathing heavily, it was a bit hard to tell with his glasses. He seemed in thought for a few moments as his mind consumed the information and reconsidered his actions. Then, he let out a sigh. "Fine, I'll carry her myself. You two grab your shit, get in line right in front of me and I do not want any funny displays!"

The two stallions were led up the streets into the more respectable part of the city, with buildings that still stood or were efficiently repaired. Diamond Dogs were out on seemingly thinned-out patrols around every block of this part of town.

The canine that had been leading them from behind occasionally barked orders at them as he carried Lilly's barely struggling form over his left shoulder, keeping his weapon aimed at their backs at all times.

Eventually, the group arrived at a rather militarized series of city blocks, complete with outlaying palisades and checkpoints. Otherwise, it looked all quite usual save for the clearly barricaded buildings and some sort of station that took up around half a block near the middle of it all.

A long and mentally strenuous process began when they approached one of the gates...

The Diamond Dog leading them approached a communications device built into the wall to the right side of the gate. "Watchtower, this is unit 142-Gridkeeper, rank 03, personal ID 0990-333-75-18; requesting entrance and access to the main block, over."

"Whut?" came the reply from a feminine, dumbfounded and distant voice, distorted by the speaker on the device.

The Diamond Dog trembled with barely contained outrage, wheezing to himself for a moment and letting out an ironic laugh. "Unit. One! Four! Two! Grid. Keeper! Rank. Oh-Three! Personal. I. D. Zero. Nine. Nine. Zero. Three. Three. Three. Seven. Five. One. Eight! Requesting entrance, and access, to the main block!" he repeated in a much slower and clearly agitated voice.

"Ahhhh, gotcha, wink-wink. A'ight, one minute. Lemme check the code-book..." the female voice answered again before rather loud rustling sounds replaced her.

"IT'S..." the Diamond Dog's teeth chattered against each other. "It's OLIVER, you WHOOOOOORE!" he bellowed in sheer uncontained rage that caused the two stallions to genuinely recoil at the shift in volume.

"Oi, why didn't cha say so?" she replied after a particularly loud sound that implied something had fallen over. "So what can I do for ya, hun~?" she took on a playful tone.

"OPEEEEEN THEEEEEEE GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE!" at this point, the canine could probably be heard even without the communications device from the sheer volume of his voice. Sure enough, though, the gate opened and he led the group inside.

The group stayed silent as they walked through the enclosed base; the gate behind them closed after a few seconds of them being inside; after an eventless walk, they arrived at the central building. Upon entry, Sombra squinted his eyes at the bright, white interior that looked fairly well-kept, and more importantly, well-lit. Well, minus the very clear rusty spots and the metallic scent in the air, but the place was in far better condition than anything he had seen until now.

The Diamond Dog they now knew as Oliver left their traumatized partner with them nearby the entrance and went to the reception desk which was surprisingly left in the hooves of a yellow-coated and lighter yellow-maned earth pony garbed in similar equipment, discussing something with the canine with words that quickly faded from Sombra's mind as he inspected his newfound surroundings, mapping out the interior in his head.

"Alright, alright, let's make this real simple. One by one." it was the receptionist's much calmer and softer voice. "I'll make this as fast as I can. Oliver, get the lady to the medical bay. Come, you two." he motioned over for Sombra and Duke who promptly trotted up to him. Sombra took notice of a nametag adorning the stallion's chest which read "Knucklejack"

"Look, I don't care about your stuff, but it's staying here at the table. I'll have to look through it, but I ain't gonna touch. Now, I don't think anyone cares about what happened to buncha trash ponies, but until we can or can't identify the bodies, I am afraid you folks are staying here until then. Where did you say the bodies were left at, Oliver?" the stallion turned to the Diamond Dog with a tired expression.

The canine turned to face him as he flung Lilly over his shoulder again. "About three blocks southward, near the park and Sweet Apple Inn." he replied before heading off.

"Right. Well, old feller!" the yellow earth pony turned to Duke. "I'm gonna need you to follow Frodigar here to the interrogation room." he motioned over to one of the Diamond Dog units on stand-by. "I assure you, it's nothing serious, just make it easy on all of us and tell the truth. I don't want any inconsistencies tonight. You-" he turned to Sombra. "I will need you to follow me to the holding cells. Again, nothing serious, we're just spread thin as it is and I can't risk having anyone suspicious out and about the HQ. You're gonna have a bed, you can hang around, do whatever you want. Ignore any scumbags that might be in the other cells, or don't, I ain't your daddy. I'm afraid neither of you gentlecolts are leaving until dawn, sorry." he sighed out before leaving his chair and coming out from behind the table.

"I'll need your names too, so I can just make sure everything is in order within the registry-"

"Ehhh, Duke Cranberry." the elderly stallion said in a bit of a wavering tone.

"Sombra. I am afraid I am not from here." the dark unicorn added his own reply.

"Great, less shit for me to worry about. Please, hand over your bags and such." the stallion requested and, with some reluctance, the duo complied. Sombra seemed about ready to head out with the receptionist, and Duke was already being escorted by the Diamond Dog that this 'Knucklejack' fellow had called Frodogar. The yellow pony still stayed and stared expectantly at Sombra.

"The armor."

"You haven't the slightest idea what amounts of bother this was to put on."

"Yeah, I don't. Take it off."


The bars closed on Sombra after he entered the empty cell.


And he was now locked in.

"Is this absolutely necessary?" Sombra asked Knucklejack with a cautious expression as he prodded at the bars softly with a hoof.

"Yes. No fear, though. If anything happens, one of the first things we make sure of is to release the prisoners. Just wait here until I am done with your friend." the yellow pony reassured. "And would you look at that, you've got a pal here!" the earth pony turned to the cell across Sombra's. It was a bit too dark to see as if all sources of light have been specifically removed in this one cell and the main lights in the hallway separating the two weren't strong enough to reach far into it, but there was a figure sitting down on the bed.

"Now excuse me, I need to return to my desk." the yellow stallion said with a yawn and just left in a casual manner.

Sombra let out a sigh and sat himself down on the edge of the bed, stretching out a bit and popping a few bones. He heard movement in the cell across his and slowly turned to face it. His eyebrows rose a bit as he spotted a very burnt-looking, hairless Diamond Dog with glowing red mechanical orbs attached where his eyes should be, he was currently holding onto the bars with his large hands.

"Well... Would you look at that. A unicorn." he spoke in a frail, quiet voice. "What did you do to end up in here?" he asked.

"Apparently being held until it is my turn to be questioned-"

"HAH! Good luck with that. There hasn't been a single soul that left these walls alive." the canine snorted as he let go of the bars and took a step away. A tinge of concern rose within Sombra at these words.

"What are you exactly speaking about?" he asked as he squinted his eyes.

"What I am saying is- You've already seen a bunch of rust in here, didn't you?" the hairless creature asked.


"Well, not all of it is rust."

"..." with a deep breath, Sombra was clearly on guard now.

"This whole "Security" thing, a bunch of barbaric monsters and bastards. Not to the public though, oh no, they're golden puppies in the eyes of the masses. And don't even ask about what the government thinks about this shithole, they're too busy deciding which way they're gonna collapse. It'll be the 2100's all over again soon!" the Diamond Dog spoke in a voice that was quickly getting tired.

"You will have to forgive my ignorance, I have no idea about what happened in 2100." Sombra said after a brief pause.

"Nobody fucking knows, there are just tales of a big, long period of anarchy. Chaos reigns, fire and brimstone coming down from the heavens, rivers and seas boiling, thousand years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, sentient sacrifices, dragons and ponies living together, mass hysteria!" the dog went into a coughing fit after raising his voice far too long for his apparently weak organism to handle.

Sombra winced a bit as the Diamond Dog hacked out blood onto the floor, before backing away further into the darkness. "These pieces of shit are killing me slowly..." he took a dry breath before continuing "They know I don't have long to live without my suit, so they just left me here to rot!" the canine slammed his fist against the wall pathetically. "...They'll get to you too, 'friend'. Just wait for it."

Sombra took a few moments to let the dog recollect himself, then got off the bed and approached the bars closer. "What is your name, broken warrior?" he asked.

"Pravik." the Diamond Dog spat out his name after a moment. The dark unicorn nodded.

"I am Sombra."

A pause.

"Well, Pravik. What is your story?"