A lone Clone Trooper wakes up in the rubble of a Gunship with his brothers dead around him. The Trooper soon realizes that the Gunship has crashed on an unmarked planet in the galaxy, which is full of ponies, unaware of the war just beyond there sky.
A lone Clone Trooper named Strider wakes up in the broken remains of the Republic Gunship he was traveling on with his brothers, now dead around him. He uses the last bit of power in the Gunship to do a scan, quickly realizing that he had crashed on an unmarked planet.
Strider soon also finds out that the planet is populated with colorful ponies, griffins, dragons, but no humans. Then, he discovers a chilling remark. The planet and its inhabitants are unaware of the war above that could come raining down on them, destroying them and there planet.
Featured: 6/29/19, 7/5/19, and 7/19/19! Thank you guys so much!
A set of brown eyelids slowly lifted up, exposing brown eyes below it. Those brown eyes went back and forth, looking around the dark room. The set of eyes belonged to a man who was wearing white armor that covered his whole body. The man tried to get up, only to feel a strike of pain shoot through his back. The man sat back down and rose up his left arm. A small silver device blinked green as he activated it.
"Hello? This is Clone Trooper Strider of strike team Indigo, does anyone hear me?" Strider asked into the device. When his only reply from it was static, he muttered something under his breath, before turning the com link off.
Strider once again tried to get up, this time ignoring the throbbing pain from his left leg. As he rose to his feet, he spotted an outline of what looked like another trooper. Strider limped over towards his fellow brother, happy to see that he wasn't the only trooper left after a scouting group likely left the Gunship. However, his happiness faded instantly when he realized that the trooper wasn't moving at all.
Strider bent down and checked the trooper for a pulse, but nothing came. Then, Strider's eyes fully adjusted to the darkness within the Gunship. He identified the entire squadron he had been deployed with dead, sprawled across the area.
"The crash..." Strider said out loud, the realization hitting him like a punch from a Super Battle Droid. He went around the area, checking every body to see if anyone had survived. But he had been correct the first time, they were all dead. That was, until he heard movement from outside the Gunship.
Strider looked around, seeing if there were any holes in the ship for him to crawl out. But the place seemed sealed. He went over to one of the doors and gave it a massive shove. It barely moved. Strider tried the other door, that one however shifted slightly.
Ignoring the sharp pain from his leg, Strider slammed against the door a few more times, before one shove finally knocked the door off. The metal sliding door fell to the ground with a loud THUD!, sending a small cloud of dust into the air.
Strider raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sharp light of the sun, until they adjusted again and he took in his surroundings.
The Gunship seemed to have crashed in the middle of a thick forest. Trees surrounded the crash sight, along with bushes, weeds, and strange flowers he couldn't identify. But that wasn't what Strider was focusing on. What he was listening for. Strider tried to hear the sound of footsteps he had heard from within the Gunship, but the only sounds he heard were a few chirps of birds and the gushing of the wind. That and the sound of sparks flying from inside the totaled Gunship.
Strider got out of the Gunship and began walking towards the other side, his boots crunching a few scattered leaves that had fallen victim to the ship. Strider looked up to see the two pilot seats. The whole ship was tilted away from him so he managed to get onto the ship and crawl up. Once he was on top of the machine, he looked over at the cockpits where the pilots should have been sitting. To his surprise, both were empty. He expected their bodies to be here, but they weren't. That meant that the pilots might have survived.
Strider would go looking for them later. For now, he got into one of the pilot seats and activated the navigation panel. He tried to see what planet he had landed on, but every scan led it to say unknown.
"That's strange, every planet that has been discovered has been inputted into the NAVA computer. That means, I crashed on an undiscovered planet." Strider told himself. A noise brought his eyes over towards the forest, where he hear movement from within. He began to get that feeling that he was being watched.
As quickly as Strider could with his wounded leg, he got out of the cockpit and back to the ground. He rushed over to the main area of the Gunship and looked around for a weapon. He quickly found a DC-15A, resting on the ground. He picked it up and primed it. Then, he grabbed the only helmet that wasn't on a dead body and put it on his head.
Strider, now decked out with a weapon and full armor, gave one last look at his fellow brothers, before walking off towards the forest. He needed to find the pilots, they knew about Gunships more than a classic trooper which meant that if they had any chance at leaving the planet, they would have to repair the Gunship. He just hoped this forest didn't have animals that would like to have a snack, or the two brought blasters. No clone or even Jedi knew what was lurking in that forest.
Even with his limp, Strider was quick to make distance from the Gunship, his eyes peeled for any movement or noise. He was about to make another sweep when he spotted a set of white armored legs sticking out of a bush. He rushed over to the bush and pushed leaves and sticks out of his way, until he saw the helmet of one of the pilots. Dead.
Strider stuck his head up as he heard the sound of something crunching down on food. He looked around the area he was in, only to pinpoint the area where the sound was coming from, which was behind a tree right in front of him. He made sure the DC-15A was primed, before advancing towards the tree. He took a peak around the trunk, only to see a haunting sight.
A strange wolf shaped creature made out of wood was chewing on something. On closer inspection, he identified the other pilot's helmet in the creatures mouth.
Strider had to hold back a gasp at the discovery, before quickly turning and rushing as fast as he could away from the creature. He swung below low hanging branches and over bushes, trying to find his way back to the Gunship. He stopped and frantically looked around, trying to identify anything that could show a sign towards the crashed ship. But everything looked the same. He was lost, alone, in a forest full of creatures he had no idea how to fight. Then, right when he thought things couldn't get worse, he saw the forest grow darker and darker. Striker looked up to see the moon rising into the air, followed by howls from the wolf he had seen.
Strider didn't know how long he had been walking, ten minutes, an hour, he wasn't keeping track. What he was keeping track of was the noises he heard around him. Every twig snap, every crunch of leaves, every noise that could be from a creature stalking him.
Strider hadn't checked his wound, so he didn't know how bad it was. Except for the pain that was shot through him every time he took a step. But that didn't stop him. He kept the DC-15A's safety off and wasn't afraid to point it at shadows he mistook as a creature.
After lowering the blaster from a tree, Strider began walking again. This time however, he didn't hear anything besides his own footsteps. It was as if the whole forest had been frozen in time. Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. Were mice even on this planet? Didn't matter.
The trooper continued on his way through the forest, not letting the silence shake his nerves. He didn't stop walking this time when he thought he saw something. The more time he wasted in this forest, the more time predators had to plan attacks.
Strider whirled around, pointing the DC-15A at the area he had heard the noise. It was the sound of a twig being stepped on. Which means something alive was near, and being deadly quiet.
Nothing could see it because of the helmet, but sweat was dripping down Striders forehead as he watched the area, unblinking. That snap hadn't been his imagination.
Slowly, Strider began to back away from the area, making sure to keep his blaster pointed at the spot he heard the noise come from.
Then, a shadowy figure emerged from the trees. As it came closer, the moonlight lit up the creature, exposing its face and body. It looked like a lion. It had dark yellow fur and a red mane like a male lion. But it also had wings on its back and a much longer tail. Two white fangs stuck out of its mouth, seemingly glittering in the light. The creatures red eyes locked onto Striders helmet, as if staring right through the visor into his eyes.
"STAY BACK!" Strider commanded, pointing the blaster right between the creatures eyes. But before he could fire, it sprang forward with a burst of speed. This caught Strider off guard, costing him a moment to shoot. Instead, the blaster was swatted out of his hand and to the side.
Strider quickly doubled back, staring at the beast. He glanced over at the blaster, trying to figure out how to get it. Slider didn't see the claws on the creatures paws until one scratched his side. The armor protected his skin, allowing Slider to not even flinch and swing a punch at the beast. His fist met its face, but this only seemed to anger it.
With one swipe, Strider was launched into a tree, breath knocked clean out of him. He gasped for air and tried to get up, but the creature was already back in striking distance. It slashed against his chest, scratching some of the white paint off. Strider dodged another swipe, before jumping to the left and making a grab for the blaster.
However, when he landed, it was on his bad leg, causing him to tumble to the ground. Strider gripped his leg in pain, biting down on his lip to avoid screaming. He made a frantic grab for the blaster, only for his arms to get stopped by the creature as it put both it's front paws over them.
The creature leaned down towards Strider's helmet, its mouth opening, ready to claim its meal. Instead, it was met with a headbutt that slammed right against one of his fangs. The fang cracked, sending streaks of pain into the creatures mouth. It moved away from Strider and held up a paw to its mouth.
Strider scrambled to grab the blaster, before turning to take a shot. He froze. Another creature was behind the one that had been attacking. It was the wolf that had finished off the pilots, it's eyes only lime green circles.
Strider squeezed the trigger, watching as a bolt of blue fire from the DC-15A and strike the wooden wolf in the leg. The leg shattered into several bits and pieces, sending the wolf to the ground.
Strider grinned at the victory, until he saw the wolf get back up and raise the remains of its leg. The wood glowed green, before turning back into a whole leg and attaching itself onto the wolf. The grin faded and the trooper turned away from the wolf and lion creature and ran. He ignored the pain from his leg, and the soreness of his arms, and the fire in his chest.
Strider ignored everything he passed, focusing ahead of him. He needed to get out of this forest. He heard the howl of the wolf right behind him. This only quickened his pace as he fired the blaster blindly backwards.
Strider ducked between two trees before spotting a glowing field of blue flowers. He didn't know why, but deep inside his mind told him to avoid those flowers. He quickly looked around the field, seeing a fallen tree that had crashed across the field. He got onto the tree and rushed across it, avoiding contact with the flowers. Once he was on the other side, he looked back.
His mind must have been right, because the wolf had stopped before it went into the field. It looked around a little, before turning and walking away in the other direction. With a sigh of relief, Strider sat down against a tree, exhaustion taking over his body. He could feel his body shutting down, trying to get some sleep. But he needed to keep going. Even if he escaped that wolf, he was still in a forest with other creatures that could be even worse than it or that lion creature.
After recovering his breath, Strider got up and once again began walking, this time limping much worse.
Strider's legs went on auto pilot while his mind began to wonder. Whats going on beyond this planet? Are his brothers still keeping the venator from exploding? Does this planet have civilization or ships to bring him back to the battle?
Before long, Strider didn't even notice he had made it to the edge of the forest, until he collapsed from exhaustion to the ground. The last thing he saw was a cottage, it's windows filled with light. He reached out a hand towards the building, before he fell into a cold slumber.
Sunlight shined down on the white armor Strider was wearing, reflecting it into his helmets visor. He cracked open his eyes, which identified a small yellow bird that was currently looking at him through the visor. The bird quickly flew away once Strider began moving.
With a grunt, Strider got up from where he had been resting and looked around. Instead of the moon, the sun was now in the sky, lighting up the area much better. He saw the cottage he had spotted before, but it looked, strange.
The building had bushes and grass covering the top of the roof, making it look like a tree. The bottom was of wood with a few windows spread around. A small stream flowed under a bridge leading up to the front door. The strangest part was the fact that it looked smaller than a normal cottage. Not in structure, but in size.
Strider's leg felt much better than last night, resulting in his limp being nearly gone when he started walking over towards the cottage. The trooper crossed the bridge over the little stream, and walked along a path which led right towards the front door. He reached the red door which was smaller than he was standing up. Still, whoever lived here must know the name of the planet he crashed on.
He knocked on the door a few times and waited. He heard the sound of movement from inside approaching the door and got ready to talk. The door opened up, revealing the creature who had answered. However, it was no creature he had ever encountered or even heard of before. It had the shape of a pony with yellow fur covering its body. It had a pink mane which slightly covered one of it's cyan eyes. Four hooves froze up as it looked up at his helmet.
"Hello, I was wondering---" Strider couldn't finish as the pony let out a slight squeak, before shutting the door at lightning speed.
"--if you knew what planet i'm on..." He finished, before sighing. The only creature he had encountered that didn't want him as a snack was terrified of him, great...
Strider looked down at his armor, and then the blaster he was gripping in his left hand. The armor did make him look intimidating at first glance.
He knocked on the door again, not expecting the pony creature to come back, before speaking through it. "I'm sorry if I startled you, I just want to know what planet i'm on. My ship crashed in the forest behind your house and I had an adventure in a half making my way out." Strider explained.
He waited for a response, but none came. "I promise i'm not gonna hurt you. I just want to talk."
The sound of movement that he now knew were hooves slowly approached the door again. Then, the wooden door squeaked open a crack, only wide enough for him to see an eye from inside.
"promise? The pony mumbled.
"Sorry, couldn't hear you. Could you say that louder?" Strider asked.
"Promise?" The pony repeated. At lease it spoke Galactic Basic.
"I promise." Strider claimed, setting down the DC-15A in front of the door to show he was being honest.
The door creaked open a little more, revealing more of the pony again. Strider noticed something that he didn't before about the pony. It had wings on its back, like a pegasus from old folk lore he read in the Republic archive while he was stationed there. It also had a mark on its flanks of three pink butterflies.
"Wh-who are you?" The pony asked, it's tone sounding female and shaky.
"My number's 5162, but I go by Strider. I'm a clone trooper of the Republic army." Strider explained.
"A-Army?" The pony stuttered, her eyes widening.
"Wait, you don't know about the clone wars?" Strider asked.
The pony shook her head. How did she not know about the war right above her planet? Speaking of planets, Striker reminded himself to focus on the current problem.
"What's the name of this planet?" He asked.
"E-Equis. The land you crashed in is Equestria." She exclaimed.
"Equis? Equestria? Never in my days have I heard those names before." Strider said out loud, more to himself than the pony. "I'll have to check later. What's your name?"
The Pony opened the door a little more, letting more of her face come into view. "Fluttershy." She said, her voice a little less shaky. "W-would you like to come inside?"
"If it's fine with you, but i'm not sure if it's exactly my height." Strider pointed out, putting a finger over the top of the doorway which was easily at eye level.
"Oh, don't worry, it looks smaller on the outside." Fluttershy claimed, before opening the door the rest of the way and entering. Strider picked up the DC-15A, before ducking under the door frame and following Fluttershy inside.
To say the least, Strider wasn't exactly expecting the house to be built similar to human architecture. So when he looked around the main room, he was not expecting to see two couches in the back with bookshelves behind them. Or a stone furnace that was to the right of the door. Or the mini animal houses and platforms that were scattered across the room.
"Wow, that's not what I was expecting." Strider said, standing back up fully. The ceiling wasn't as low as he thought but it was still low enough that if he jumped, he would likely break into the upper floor.
"I wanted a nice area for all of my animal friends to be able to explore and play in." Fluttershy explained.
"You an Animal Caretaker, or just like animals a lot?" Strider asked.
"Both. Animals have always helped me out through rough times and I want to help any animals who need it."
"That's really kind of you." Strider pointed out.
"A little kindness never hurts," Fluttershy claimed. "Do you want some tea?"
"Sure, it's been a long time since i've had something like tea." Strider stated, eyeing a green chair.
"Um, do you have a preference for what kind of tea?" Fluttershy asked, stopping herself right before going through an empty door frame that most likely led to a kitchen.
"That would be a no, just pick one your comfortable with." Strider said, walking over to the green chair.
Fluttershy walked through the doorway and into the kitchen, vanishing from sight. Therefore, leaving Strider to sit down on a green chair and look over what had happened after the crash. How did the ship even crash? The last thing he remembered was flying with a squad of troopers towards a planets moon when they, along with the other Gunships, were ambushed by a Separatist command ship. How the Gunship didn't just explode from being struck by a blast was unknown to Strider. Did the ship even get hit? He couldn't tell due to the state the ship was left in after the crash. Yet again, it was still mostly in tact, maybe an E.M.P. went off or something and---
Strider halted his trail of thought when he spotted a snow white bunny watching him from a basket he hadn't noticed before. The bunny was watching him intently, a look of uncertainty across its face.
The bunny didn't react. Instead, its eyes locked with the DC-15A that was currently lying against the chair Strider was sitting in.
Realizing this, Strider quickly picked the blaster up and switched its safety on, before setting it on the top shelf of a bookshelf behind him. The last thing he needed was a bunny playing with a Republic Blaster in a house likely full of other animals, not to mention vases and picture frames.
The bunny frowned, before hopping away into another room. Right as the bunny left Striders sight, Fluttershy returned to the room, a trey with tea cups resting on her back. She set the trey down on a table between the chair Strider was sitting on and a couch which she sat down on.
"So, w-what happened to have you end up at my doorstep?" Fluttershy asked.
"Well, if I am to answer that question," Strider reached up to his helmet and took it off, exposing his face to the pony. "Then I think you should know about the Clone Wars."
"The Clone Wars is the galactic war between the Grand Republic and the Separatists. The Republic is led by the Jedi Order, While the Separatists are led by Sith Lords and corrupted business people." Strider explained to Fluttershy, who set her tea cup down on the trey in front of her.
"What's a Jedi?" She asked, not recognizing the word.
"A Jedi is a person who uses the Force for peace and justice." Strider said, recalling the Jedi who led his battalion into battle. It was so satisfying to look over cover and see that green blade slice through Battle Droids.
"The Force?" Fluttershy questioned with a quizzical look.
"Your species doesn't know about the Force? This planet really is isolated from the rest of the galaxy isn't it." Strider muttered to himself.
"Well, the Force is like an energy wave that is created and flows through life. Jedi and Sith lords can tap into this wave and use it in battle." Strider said, wondering if Equis even knew alien life existed beyond their stars.
"So the Force is everywhere?"
"That is correct, anyways, back to the Clone Wars. The Clone Wars started when the Separatists created an army of droids to help them take over the Galaxy. The Jedi countered this army with an army of us, Clones of a Bounty Hunter called Jengo Fett."
Fluttershy seemed to be shaking a little, her eyes filling with fear. "D-Did those Droids k-kill?" She stuttered.
"Yes, yes they did. They were programmed to destroy the Republic and anyone who supported them or were against the Separatists." Strider explained, quickly realizing that this might not have been the best idea to talk about war with a pony who looked right out of a kids book.
"W-What happened then?" Fluttershy asked, no longer in the mood for the tea she made.
"Us clones fought against those droids all across the galaxy, both taking tolls on the others battalions," Strider said with a grin. "We sent those clankers back to where they belonged, in a junk yard."
"So you fought with other clones who were your brothers across the galaxy against these, S-Separatists?" Fluttershy simplified. Strider nodded. "S-So, you saw your brothers...die...and kept going?"
Strider's grin vanished. "That's the cost of war." He said coldly.
"That sounds awful, seeing your brothers...and...." Fluttershy never finished, tears forming in her eyes.
Strider wanted to say something, but what could he say? Not knowing what to say, he instead moved his hand over and patted Fluttershy's head. "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought this up. If you want I can leave and let you have some spa-" Strider's words were drowned out as a loud smashing sound emerged from outside the front of the house.
Strider's soldier instincts quickly rushed into action. He grabbed his helmet, put it back on his head, before grabbing the DC-15A off the bookshelf and rushing out the door.
Strider bursted out the front door, switching the safety off the blaster before rushing towards the source of the crash. That was when he noticed a small crater that had been created on the other side of the bridge. He cautiously approached the crater, blaster pointing forwards.
The crater was full of dust, masking whatever had made it from view. Strider got closer, waving away some of the dust, before tightening his grip on the blaster as movement went past his visor.
"Who's there!" Strider shouted into the wave of dust. "Identify yourself!"
"Ouch, I really need to stop doing that." A female voice muttered through the dust which was beginning to fade.
Striker spotted cyan fur on another pony who was flapping her wings to get rid of the dust. She had a rainbow mane and tail and another strange mark on her flank. She didn't seem to notice him until the dust around him faded away. Her magenta eyes widened as Strider's white armor came into view.
"Who in Equestria are you?!" She asked, before locking eyes with the blaster that was now pointing right between her eyes.
"Another one? Well, Fluttershy did say this planet was called Equis," Strider reminded himself. The pony's worried look vanished instantly as he said Fluttershy's name, and she sprung towards him with extraordinary speed.
Strider didn't have time to react, before the blaster was knocked out of his hand and the pony slammed against him, sending him to the ground. The pony landed on top of him, staring directly into his visor.
"You better not have done something to Fluttershy, or your gonna be in a world of pain buster." The pony threatened.
Instead or replying with words, Strider slammed his helmet against the pony's face, knocking her off him. He scrambled back to his feet, scanning the area for his weapon. The pony recovered from the headbutt much quicker than he though and charged him again. He rolled to the right, before turning quickly and grabbing the pony's multicolored tail, cutting off her flight.
Strider pulled the pony towards him and locked her in a headlock, increasing pressure around her neck. The pony struggled hard, trying to break free. But Strider was a lot stronger, keeping an iron lock on the pony. Before he could do anything, he heard a voice from the cottage.
Both Strider and the pony stopped fighting and looked up at the cottage door to see Fluttershy standing there, a worried expression across her face.
"Could you two please stop? Your scaring all the animals, and me." Fluttershy exclaimed.
Strider let the rainbow maned pony out of his headlock, before walking over to where his blaster had landed.
"Rainbow Dash, sorry about that. Um, what brings you here?" Fluttershy asked, trotting over to the cyan mare.
"Well, I was gonna remind you about that chorus of birds that your gonna be conducting for the Summer Sun Celebration wanted to do a little more practicing," Rainbow Dash said in an annoyed tone. "But 'that' thing decided to have a wrestling match instead." She finished, batting an angered eye at the trooper.
"I'm terribly sorry about that Rainbow, he's just not from around here and wanted to know a few things. Your um, landing probably startled him." Fluttershy explained.
"That, was no landing." Strider commented, checking the DC-15A over to see if it had been banged up by the fall. It seemed to be ok.
"No offence Fluttershy, but you need to teach some of your animal friends manners." Rainbow Dash stated. That made Strider freeze.
He turned around, his glare masked by the visor. He was so tempted to take a shot at that pony right now, but his conscience got the better of him. He instead went back to work checking over the blaster.
Fluttershy was about to comment, but Rainbow Dash had already taken off back into the sky and off into the distance. The yellow mare sighed, before trotting over to Strider.
"Sorry about that, Rainbow can be a bit, short tempered at times. I'm sure she'll come around." Fluttershy assured.
Strider muttered something under his breath, before getting up and looking over in the direction Rainbow Dash had flown off to. Over a few hills were several houses that quickly formed a village. Strider didn't have to be a Jedi to assume that more ponies would be all over the place in that town.
Strider was to focused on the town that he didn't notice Fluttershy tapping on his armor at first. When he did, he turned around and looked at the mare, his frown masked by his helmet.
"Um, you said you um, came from the Everfree Forest?" Fluttershy asked.
Strider looked over to the forest he had come stumbling out of that night. "Crashed there, but I ain't going back in until I know what's lurking around those trees." Strider stated.
"Well, um, i'm not sure how Ponyville would react seeing you, but I need to practice with some of my animal friends for the Celebration. You can stay here until i'm done, of you can come if you want." Fluttershy exclaimed. "B-But if you are gonna come with me, t-then could you please leave your, device here? It, wouldn't sent great signals to anypony."
As much as Strider wanted to argue, he knew she had a point. If he showed up in the middle of a town where they didn't know what he was with a weapon, they would not exactly think nicely of him. The last thing he needed right now was for what seemed to be the common population be scared of him.
"Fine, I would like to check that town out." Strider said, switching the safety on and walking back into Fluttershy's cottage.
He set the blaster down on a nearby table inside, before shutting the door behind him as he walked side by side with Fluttershy towards the town.
Strider stared wide eyed in shock. The whole place looked right out of a kids cartoon show.
Buildings had a strange combination to human architecture with added pony accessories. Most of the buildings had standard pasty yellow colored walls and wooden support structuring the exterior. But the roofs were made out of what looked like hay and straw. Most of the windows had pink stained glass windows and magenta colored wooden doors. A few building had exceptions. One of those buildings appeared to look like a gingerbread house with ice cream on top. The town library was built inside a tree, some windows seemed to be supported by the leaves themselves.
The whole place made no sense, and that's not even counting the population. The population seemed to be solely ponies which seemed to have three different races. A unicorn, a pegasus, and a regular pony. Each one however had different colored manes, tails, coats, and styles.
Fluttershy had guided Strider over to what appeared to be a park that was the only normal looking thing he saw. Each pony who had spotted him either ran in the opposite direction, stared at him, or just simply ignored him. One pony just looked inside a sandwich they were eating.
Fluttershy stopped in front of a tree which had several birds standing on each branch. This must have been that chorus Rainbow Dash had been talking about.
"Well, i'm gonna go look around. Good luck with your....singing lessons. This looks just like a Snow White story." Strider muttered the last bit under his breath as he walked away from Fluttershy and around the park.
It wasn't anything special, just a path, a few benches, and lot's of trees. Just how a park should be. But something caught Striders eyes as he walked down the path. Outside the park was an area surrounded by several carts that had all sorts of food and other items in them. Of course, they were all being run by ponies.
Strider walked past a few trees and went behind a building. He peeked around the corner of the building into the clearing, seeing several ponies with saddlebags on full of items.
"So these ponies have a marketing system, wonder what the currency is." Strider thought. He backed away from the corner and turned to head back into the park, but recoiled back as a pink face took up his vision.
With a startled shout, Strider backed away from the pony that had snuck up on him until he hit the back of the building. Once his breath returned to normal, he glared at the pony.
"What was that for? I know i'm not your kind but do you have to scare he half to death?" Strider emphasized.
"Half to death? Woops, didn't mean to scare you that much! I was just trotting by when I noticed your white armor sticking out like a pink orange and decided to introduce myself. By the way i'm Pinkie Pie!" The Pink pony greeted, smiling.
"I'm Strider, clone trooper of the Republic. Your one of the few ponies who isn't scared or has ignored me." Strider pointed out, now realizing how strange that was. Why was this pony so calm and quick to introdu--
"That's because when I see a new face around here I want to know them! I'm Ponyville's proud party pony! Speaking of parties, I was already planning a welcome to Ponyville party for Twilight Sparkle! She just got here from Canterlot! CANTERLOT! Can you believe that? A unicorn all the way from Canterlot is now going to be living in the Golden Oaks Library! Now that I think about it, isn't it strange to live in a library? I mean you have lot's of books to read but libraries don't exactly have all the things that could made a house cozy. Ooh! Maybe I could do some remodeling for the library so she feels right at home from Canterlot and----"
"CAN YOU STOP TALKING!?" Strider barked.
"Sure!" Pinkie answered, cutting her rambling off.
"Oh thank the Force, you nearly talked my ears off!" Strider claimed, putting a hand onto his helmet in relief.
"Anyways, I think I might be able to squeeze your welcome party into Twilight's but i'm not sure if everypony wouldn't judge you by the cover and..." Pinkie Pie went back into rambling, causing Strider to groan loudly in annoyance.
After what felt like hours, Pinkie Pie finally stopped rambling and outstretched her hoof. "Welcome to Ponyville Strider!" However, the clone wasn't there.
Strider was being as sneaky as he could, keeping his eyes down the alleyway he had rushed down.
"That pony could rival Hot Shot with words," Strider muttered to himself, still trying to wrap his brain around what he had heard from Pinkie Pie.
His thoughts were interrupted when his back made contact with something. Next thing Strider new, he was on his back in the remains of what appeared to have been an apple cart. Several apples had fallen right onto his helmet, bouncing across his visor. Some of them fell with enough force to break through there skin, smearing apple juice all over the visor.
Strider let his head hit the ground as he looked up at the still falling apples that were landing right on his chest and head. "Can't I catch a break?" He muttered out loud.
Turns out this world didn't want to give him one, because a set of emerald green eyes were glaring down at him. Those green eyes belonged to an orange normal pony with a blond mane and tail. They had white freckles on there cheeks and a brown country style stetson hat.
"Care to explain ya self?" The pony asked in a female southern accent.
"Ok, wait a second. Before you start pointing fingers, I was trying to escape an avalanche of sentences spilling out of a single pony's mouth." Strider exclaimed.
"Well, Ah have a pretty good idea as ta who your talk'n 'bout but ah don't think she pushed ya into mah apple cart." The pony stated. "Also, what the hay are fingers?"
Strider slowly got up from the pile of apples that had fallen around and on top of him and looked down at the pony. Due to him being much taller than a pony, several ponies quickly spotted him and began to get curious. Most likely due to the fact that his armor was now covered with apple juice.
"It's just an apple cart." Strider emphasized.
"Ah sixty bit cart with fresh ripe Sweet Apple Acres apples on board." The pony corrected.
"Oh for the love of- why out of all the planets I had to crash on, it just HAD to be THIS one!?" Strider shouted to himself, much to the pony's confusion.
The orange pony was about to reply, but a familiar voice caused Strider to turn around. His gaze was met with Pinkie Pie bouncing through the alleyway he had rushed down, her eyes locked onto him.
"WELL I'VE GOT TO GO MA'AM!" Strider shouted, before taking off in a full sprint down the path, away from the pink pony.
Strider didn't really care anymore if the ponies around him were giving him a weird look, he did NOT want to have to listen to that pony ramble again. The clone trooper dashed through the market, ducking and weaving through unplaced stands and wagons.
Strider had made quite a bit of distance with Pinkie Pie, not stopping to catch his breath. He spotted a wagon full of what appeared to be watermelons being pulled across the path. He didn't have enough time to slow down and no room to go around, so he used his momentum to slide under the wagon, the tip of his helmet scratching the bottom of the wood. He jumped back to his feet on the other side and kept running.
Strider took a sharp turn and rushed down another alleyway, appearing on another path through the town. He took a peek around his back from where he came from, not seeing Pinkie anywhere.
"Whew! That was a close- WOAH!" Strider's sentence broke off as he tripped over a pony and landed hard on the ground. He heard the noise of several items crashing to the ground and the gasp from the pony he had tripped over.
Strider got to his knees and looked over at the pony. The pony appeared to be a unicorn with white fur and a purple mane and tail which seemed to be sparkling somehow. The pony's eyes were blue and seemed to have eye shadow on the eye lids.
"Who do you think you are? Tripping over a lady?" The pony asked, yet another female tone.
"Oh don't even get me started ma'am." Strider said, but quickly froze up as he saw Pinkie Pie bouncing through the alleyway he had come out of. "DOESN'T THAT PONY KNOW WHEN TO STOP?"
Strider took off again in full sprint, leaving the mare with a confused look. That was until Pinkie Pie bounced over her head, still giving chase.
The two ran across Ponyville, both not slowing down for a second. Strider rounded a corner and spotted a blue telephone box. He rushed over to it and tried to open the doors, but they didn't budge. Instead, he hid behind it, recovering from the chase.
"Huff, That pony is fast..." Strider said between breaths.
Slowly, Strider peeked around the telephone box and scanned the area for Pinkie Pie. No sign of anything pink moving. The trooper sighed with relief, before leaving his cover and dashed over to a building. He used the buildings as cover until he made his to the outskirts of town.
Strider spotted Fluttershy's cottage on the horizon, a sanctuary from ponies, besides Fluttershy. But he could handle one pony. The trooper trudged up the hills that led to the cottage and quickly reached the front door.
Not knowing if Fluttershy was home, he knocked first. When no reply sounded, he tried to open the door. Strangely enough, it was unlocked.
"Maybe Fluttershy assumed I wouldn't stick around Ponyville. Well she was right in thinking that I-" Strider stopped dead in his tracks.
Two things were wrong when he stepped into the cottage. One was the fact that there were no animal noises. They had been faint when he had first entered, but they were still there. But now, the cottage was as quiet as a deactivated droid. No scurrying of small paws or claws. No quiet noises in the walls. Nothing.
The second thing wrong was the table. The table that was standing between the two green chairs. The table that used to have the DC-15A on it, was now empty.
Strider suddenly felt like he was being watched. He looked around, trying to see if anything was near. But the room was empty with the exception of him.
That was, until Strider spotted it. Standing on top of what appeared to be a resting area for cats, was a familiar looking white bunny, a grin across its small face. In it's paws, was the DC-15A, the barrel pointing directly at Strider.
Strider was locked with a stare down with the bunny that was holding his blaster. He could see the safety switch was turned off, and that the bunny knew it.
"OH S-" Strider couldn't finish as the bunny pulled the trigger, sending a blue bolt of plasma soaring through the air towards him.
Strider grabbed the still open door and pulled it inwards, breaking the bolts in the process. The plasma bolt struck the wood, frying part of the red wood and turning it black.
Strider shut the door and rolled to the left towards the chairs. He took cover behind one just as another bolt was fired. This bolt flew over his head and struck the window behind him, shattering the glass on impact. Shards of said glass rained down onto Strider's back, none being able to make contact with his skin through the armor.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!?" Strider shouted in anger, processing the situation he was in.
He had been shot by droids, bounty hunters, corrupt creatures, but never a bunny. A trigger happy bunny to be exact.
Strider frantically looked around, trying to figure out how to handle the bunny. First, he needed to get it down from its perch. But how? Strider peeked around the chair at the structure the bunny had climbed. It seemed to be exactly what it looked like, a cat climbing structure.
But something caught his eye. At the top where the bunny was stationed, was what looked like a closed hatch from the second floor.
"Must me multi-layered." Strider told himself, before quickly ducking back behind the chair as a plasma bolt flew right over the chair.
Strider looked over at the stairs that led to the second floor, and the lack of cover to reach them. Strider then remembered the table he had set the blaster on. He looked over at it, seeing that it had a circular surface and for legs. An idea formed in his head. An idea so stupid, it might work.
As quickly as he could, Strider extended his hand out and grabbed the table. He retracted his hand with the table back behind the chair right as a blue bolt struck the ground where the table had originally been standing.
"Sorry Fluttershy." Strider muttered as he broke the top bit of the table off the legs. He examined the surface area of the circle, before eyeing a leg. He had four chances.
Strider picked up one of the legs and chucked it at the structure, but missed. The leg slammed against the wall behind the structure, splitting in two.
Strider through another leg, this one slamming against the stone fireplace next to the structure.
"Come on!" Strider muttered, before chucking a third leg. This one struck it's target, the base of the structure. The whole structure shook from the impact, causing the bunny to lose focus on its aim.
Strider took this advantage to grab the table and rush out of his cover, holding the makeshift shield in the direction of the bunny. The bunny saw this and went to fire, but it was still recovering from the shaking tower and ended up spraying a wave of bolts right across the wall and the shield Strider was holding.
Once Strider reached the stairs, he dropped the makeshift shield and ran up the stairs to the second floor. He let out a "Whew!" before looking around. He had never been on the second floor, or any other room of the cottage for that matter. The stairs had led to a little hallway that went to the left and right. Wooden doors lined the walls, including a door right in front of him.
Strider didn't have the time or wanted to go snooping around, so he rushed over to the door he assumed led to the room above the cat structure. His assumption was confirmed correct when he saw a different part of the structure in the room in the same corner.
The structure had been nailed to the wall, with the bottom of the structure not touching the floorboards. Instead, the mini trap door he had seen before was under it.
Strider tried his best to sneak over to the trap door, trying not to alert the bunny below of his plan. Once he reached the trap door, he quickly opened it and made a grab for the bunny. His hand met fur and he tightened his grip as he took the bunny from the structure and into the room he was in.
The bunny tried to fight him, but it was much smaller and weaker than him. Strider simply outstretched his arm to avoid it's swings while at the same time, keeping his grip on the bunny tight.
With the bunny taken care of, Strider bent down to the trap door again and grabbed the DC-15A, which had nearly fallen out of the structure when the bunny dropped it. He switched the safety back on and shut the trap door with his foot.
"You buddy, are one stubborn and trigger happy bunny aren't you?" Strider muttered to the bunny, who had stopped squirming and was simply glaring at him angrily.
Strider took the bunny out of the room and back down the stairs. He went over into what appeared to be a kitchen and eyed a cupboard.
A grin spread across Strider's face as an idea popped into his mind. He set the blaster down on the counter, before going over to a cupboard and opening it. Inside were a few dishes and a stack of carrots. Perfect.
The bunny quickly realized what Strider was doing and resumed squirming and fighting, but was powerless against the clone.
Strider set the bunny down in the cupboard and quickly shut the door. He kept the door shut with one hand while the other searched a few drawers for a certain utensil.
His hand found a fork, which he then slid in between the handles that were used to open the cupboards.
"And that's what happens, when you mess with me!" Strider claimed, before leaving the kitchen with the bunny locked in the cupboard.
Strider went over to where he had dropped the makeshift shield and picked it up. He set it down where the table used to be, before slumping down in a chair.
"How does Fluttershy keep that bunny under control?" Strider wondered out loud.
A cold chill ran down his spine, causing him to shiver a little. Strider looked over at the broken window, only now realizing how dark it was outside.
"Wow, unless I spent a lot more time than I though with that bunny, this planet must have short time cycles." Strider exclaimed to himself, looking at the night sky.
Strider was about to get up from the chair to start cleaning up the glass, when he heard screams, several screams. Strider quickly grabbed his blaster and rushed out the now broken door and looked over in the direction he had heard the screaming.
It was coming from Ponyville.
Strider quickly took off towards the town, switching the safety off his blaster as he ran. Strider was to focused on reaching the town to notice the moon, which had previously held a shadowy outline of a unicorn, was now bare white and empty.
Strider had reached the town at top speed, not afraid to keep the DC-15A pointing ahead. He traced the source of the screaming to a tall building in the middle of the town.
Strider rushed over to the double doors that led into the building and tried the handle. But instead of it opening up to him, they were slammed forward into Strider, knocking him backwards and down the small flight of stairs he had climbed to reach the door.
"Ow..."Strider muttered, his vision blurry.
Through his blurry vision, a dark blue and purple pile of mist flew through the now open door and into the sky.
Strider tried to get back up but ended up getting trotted right over like a welcome mat. He turned his head up to see a purple unicorn running away from the building.
Strider grunted an annoyance and pain, before getting back up on his feet. He looked over in the direction of the strange mist, before rubbing the back of his helmet.
"Something tells me that's not normal." Strider said out loud, gripping his blaster tightly. A noise from behind him caused him to spin around and point the blaster at the noise.
Inside the building was a panic filled crowd of ponies, as well as a few ponies in what appeared to be golden armor who were lying on the ground unconscious. This sight made him lower his blaster and rush over to one of the guards who were still conscious.
"Your a trooper?" Strider questioned the pony.
"Guard..." The pony corrected, his words echoed with the sound of pain.
"Guard, what happened?" Strider asked, looking around at the scared crowd.
"Nightmare moon...she came back....to bring eternal.......night." The Guard fell into unconsciousness the second he finished that sentence.
Strider set the Guard down on the ground, before getting up and taking another look. Each pony was either terrified, fainted, or hiding. Then, his eyes spotted a familiar looking pink mane from below a table. It was Fluttershy.
Strider rushed through the crowd to the only pony who he somewhat knew and bent down to look under the table.
The pony was shaking with fear violently, her eyes as wide as dinner plates. She looked terrified.
Strider heard the noise of hooves rushing towards him. He looked over his shoulder to see that white unicorn he had tripped over, and Pinkie Pie. Why did it have to be miss talks a lot? Strider ignored them and went back to Fluttershy.
"Hey, Fluttershy? You ok?" Strider knew she wasn't but still, he needed to make small talk somehow.
"N-N-Nightmare M-Moon's b-b-back!?" She stammered, her words shaking as much as her body.
"After this is done, your gonna have to explain all this. But for now, you need to come out from under the table." Strider explained.
Fluttershy didn't reply, she just kept shaking, seemingly paralyzed with fear. She must have been close to that mist to shake her up this badly.
"Don't worry, that mist thing left. You've just got to get back up." Strider said, extending his hand towards the mare.
Fluttershy looked at the hand for a few seconds, still not moving. But finally, she extended a shaking hoof out which met Strider's hand.
Slowly but surely, Strider pulled Fluttershy as gently as he could out from below the table and back on her hooves.
"T-Thanks..." Fluttershy said, before spotting the two pony's who Strider had ignored before rushing towards her.
"Fluttershy! Are you alright?" Pinkie Pie asked.
"Did this ruffient do something?" The white unicorn asked.
Fluttershy shook her head, her body stopping it's rapid shaking. "N-No, he just h-helped me from under the t-table."
"Oh hiya again Strider! I was looking for you after you ran off but then I spotted something that looked really sweet in the market and--" She was cut off as Strider put a finger over her muzzle.
"Later, i'm guessing your Fluttershy's friends?" Strider questioned.
The two mares nodded.
"Well then, you two calm her down," Strider instructed, before holding up the DC-15A. "I've got some mist to vaporize."
Strider was hiding behind a building, occasionally looked around the corner at his target. His target being the dark blue and purple mist which was currently hovering over a house's roof. The front end of the mist seemed to be darting back and forth, as if looking for something.
Strider didn't know if his blaster would work on mist, but if his Kamino training taught him anything then when in doubt, shoot it.
So he did. Strider pulled the trigger, firing a plasma bolt at the mist. Instead of it making contact, the mist formed a doughnut shape, the bolt flying right through a hole in the mist, before recombining and dashing off through the sky.
Strider wasted no time rushing after it, firing several more blue plasma bolts at the mist. The bolts either flew past or right through the mist, so Strider stopped the shower of plasma bolts and slowed down.
"How do I hit mist?" Strider wondered out loud, his tone hinted with annoyance.
The mist had either had enough of him chasing it, or wanted him gone. So it stopped flying away and instead dive bombed the clone.
Strider raised up his arms in a defensive stance, but the mist just went right through it and slammed against his face, nearly knocking off his helmet.
Strider fell to the ground, slightly dazed from the attack. The mist took back off into the sky and was out of sight before you could saw 'ouch'.
Strider's vision slowly came back into focus, but the damage had been done. He looked around the sky, but the mist was gone.
"Dang it." He muttered, before grabbing the DC-15A from where he had dropped it and began walking.
Strider quickly did a full sweep of the town, not finding any signs from the mist or where it had gone to. After he had rounded a familiar looking corner, he growled in anger.
"This is pointless! Even if I find it I can't harm it!" Strider told himself.
He gave up the chase and instead, went down a path that led out of the town and to Fluttershy's cottage. Half way up one of the hills however, he spotted Fluttershy, along with Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and three other mares he had encountered earlier. They were standing in front of an entrance to the forest that Fluttershy had called the Everfree Forest.
"Are those ponies going into that forest without weapons?" Strider muttered, quickly realizing that the group didn't even have a spear that the Guards from before had used.
The ponies suddenly advanced into the forest and out of his sight. This set alarm bells ringing in Strider's head. Didn't they know what creatures were lurking in that forest? Not to mention the fact that it was night!
"Oh these ponies are gonna get me killed!" Strider emphasized, before rushing towards the path the group had entered on and down said path into the forest.
It didn't take long before the trooper had caught up with the group of ponies, even if it had taken him a solid 10 minutes before he even saw them.
"HEY! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING!?" Strider shouted out, his voice quickly attracting the group's attention. Rainbow Dash instantly recognized him and glared.
"You again? Can't you mind your own business?" Rainbow questioned.
"Strider? W-What are you d-doing here?" Fluttershy asked.
"I'm here because this forest is full of crazy things and you came waltzing in without any form of weapon." Strider exclaimed.
"We do have weapons! It's called-" The purple unicorn was cut off as Strider shook his head.
"No, you don't. This," Strider held out the blaster. "is a weapon." He exclaimed.
"That's your kind of weapon. But we do-" This time, the purple unicorn cut herself off as she watched a blue plasma bolt fire off into the sky.
Everypony's eyes widened at the sudden plasma bolt, Rainbow Dash's mouth opened wide in shock.
"Now, if you really want to go in there with no weapons, then don't let me stop you. But I AM coming with you. The only pony here who I know will give me correct information about this world is Fluttershy, and if she get's hurt, then someone's gonna have a bad day, capeesh?" Strider said, his tone darker than usual.
"Oh the comments are so gonna ship you." Pinkie Pie said blankly.
"The what?" The orange normal pony asked.
"Ok, if you have to follow us, then follow. But under no circumstances do you lead the way or fire that weapon unless you need to." The purple one instructed.
"I ain't taking orders from a pony. A pony who's name I don't even know." Strider stated.
"I'm Twilight Sparkle." Twilight Sparkle claimed.
"Ahm, Applejack. Ya still owe me ah new apple cart." Applejack reminded.
"And i'm Rarity. You still haven't apologized for causing me to drop my things and fall over me." Rarity muttered.
"Let's just get a move on." Twilight grumbled, before starting to trot deeper into the forest.
"Are we there yet?" Pinkie Pie asked, bouncing forward alongside Fluttershy and Rarity.
"Not yet Pinkie." Twilight Sparkle answered.
The group of ponies plus Strider were currently walking around a mountainside that rose just above the tree line.
"We should be there soon--AHH!!! Twilight cut the her sentence short short as the area the group was walking on broke free from the rest of the path.
"Everypony grab onto someth'n!" Applejack shouted, grabbing onto a stray root that was sticking out of the mountain.
Fluttershy grabbed Rarity while Rainbow Dash grabbed Pinkie Pie. Strider frantically looked around for something to grab onto and spotted an outstretched branch. But sadly, he had to let go of the DC-15A which drifted off the cliff. Following closely behind was Twilight, who had nothing to grab on but the ledge at the end of the cliff.
"HELP!" Twilight cried out, her grip quickly slipping.
Applejack let go of the root she had grabbed hold of and slid over to the unicorn's aid. Strider couldn't help but be amazed at how daring that pony was to save a friend. She could have easily slid right off the cliff herself.
"Heh, reminds me of the boys teamwork." Strider commented, smiling at the memory under his helmet. The happy memory was quickly cut short when he heard a snapping sound, the sound of the branch he was holding onto snapping free from where it had been lodged into the cliff.
Before he could even scream, the branch broke completely in half, sending the trooper tumbling down the cliff side.
"I, CRASH HATE, SMACK CLIFFS!" Strider shouted until he landed in a tree at the bottom of the cliff.
Rainbow Dash couldn't help but chuckle at the scene she had just witnessed, nearly loosing her grip on Twilight. She and Fluttershy set the unicorn down next to Pinkie Pie and Rarity, before flying up to the tree and getting Strider down.
"You alright Strider?" Fluttershy asked.
"Yeah, i'm fine, let's just keep going and pretend that never happened." Strider grumbled.
The group made their way down the path, going deeper into the forest. They soon ended up walking towards a valley between two cliffs. Before they could enter the valley however, Strider heard movement.
"Wait, I heard something." Strider exclaimed to the group, raising up the DC-15A.
Right after he said those words, a familiar beast shot out from the underbrush, its eyes locked onto the group.
"A Manticore..." Twilight said, looking at the beast, fear seeping between her words.
So that was what that beast was called. If this was the same one that had attacked him before, then he had a score to settle with it. Strider aimed at the Manticore, but right before he could pull the trigger, a yellow hoof rose in front of him.
"Wait! Don't shoot!" Fluttershy shouted, surprising the whole group at how loud she had said that.
Before Strider could object, Fluttershy trotted towards the Manticore, showing no signs of fear as she did.
"What are you doing!? Your walking to death's doorstep!" Strider claimed. He tried to aim around Fluttershy but he didn't have a clear shot anymore.
Fluttershy trotted right up to the Manticore, who glared down at her. Instead of stopping, she got even closer and began talking.
"Are you kidding me." Strider muttered. Now it really was like a snow white scene. That was, until something set the Manticore off, causing it to roar right into Fluttershy's face.
"FLUTTERSHY!" The group shouted, Strider rose the blaster again, his finger hovering over the trigger. But he lowered the barrel when he noticed that the Manticore was licking Fluttershy's mane like it was a dog.
Seeing an opening, the group made their way past the Manticore, who stopped licking Fluttershy and walked away into the forest. Strider looked at Fluttershy, amazed at how that pony, who a few hours ago was terrified from dark mist, just face down a Manticore and befriend it.
But deep down, Strider knew that if Fluttershy wasn't willing to fight, then she would fall. He looked at the blaster in his hands, before following the group as they made their way down the valley.
For some reason, the trees above the group began to get thicker. Outstretched branches that had big leaves on then blocked the moonlight from above, casing the forest below in darkness.
Strider reached up to his helmet and flipped on its lights, illuminating part of the area in front of him.
Soon, the group of ponies ahead of him began muttering to themselves about the darkness. He just sighed and kept moving, until a strange noise began to fill the area.
Strider looked around, trying to see what had made that noise. he turned his head to the right, and was greeted with a horrific looking face that had been carved into the tree.
The trooper actually stumbled a little at the sight, but quickly regained his composure. The ponies on the other hand, had already started screaming. Most of them anyways.
He quickly noticed that Pinkie Pie wasn't screaming, but laughing. How in the world was she laughing at the disturbing images around her?
Then, she broke out in song. Strider had to hold back a groan of annoyance at the sudden outburst of singing, but he couldn't help but chuckle a little under his breath at the lyrics. He noticed that the other ponies had begun to laugh at the trees, causing the carved faces to vanish and be replaced with normal trunks.
"How did those vanish?" Strider wondered out loud, but noticed that the moon light had somehow broken free through the trees and leaves, banishing the darkness around them.
Pinkie finished her song, laughing on the ground with her friends. Strider looked at the sight and smiled. It was rare to see these sights because of the war bringing terror to everyone. But every here and there, he would stumble across true happiness, a spark of light in this dark war.
"I have no words..." Strider muttered, gazing at the sight.
Rarity had just snipped off her tail and had given it to a serpent, THAT HAD A MUSTACHE! It made zero sense! Why did he have to crash on a planet that seemed to literally laugh at the laws and rules of the galaxy! Serpents had gone extinct several years ago and were never able to grow facial hair! How did this one even do it? Did he find some sort of hair spray in a bottle? Or maybe--
Strider's avalanche of questions in his mind left him standing there, blankly while the group made their way over the serpents tail to the other side. The serpent looked at Strider for a few seconds, before picking him up and putting him on the other side of the river.
Even if he somehow managed to grow facial hair, he shouldn't be able to talk english! Serpents had their own language style which consisted with clicking noises and sometimes slithers from their tongue! They also shouldn't have that much hair on their heads! Bright orange hair to be exact! First talking ponies who apparently have a strong government of some sorts due to them having currency and what seems to be trading posts. But no, the planet just had to have other creatures that can disprove facts that had been standing for ages in the Republic archives!
Strider didn't even notice Fluttershy pulling him by the hand as the group continued on through the forest.
"Are ya sure he's alright?" Applejack asked Fluttershy, looking at the Trooper, who was still mumbling under his breath.
"Well, I thought he might have finished by now, but he's still going." Fluttershy answered.
"If he keeps going then he might get into the top three ponies/people that can talk for hours straight! I'm number one." Pinkie claimed.
Strider's mind slowly began to slow down from the rambling wave and he finished the wave with a slap to his face.
"Sorry, this planet is just so strange." Strider stated.
"Eh, ya get used ta it." Applejack told the trooper.
Strider looked over to see Rainbow Dash trotting over a now stable bridge, a smile on her face.
"Come on! We have some element's to find!" She reminded the group, before flying into the sky and back across the bridge.
Once the group passed the bridge, Strider spotted what looked like the runes of an old castle. The other ponies however already had seen it from the bridge, so Twilight had already entered.
"Hey! Wait for us!" Pinkie called out, but the unicorn had already vanished into the castles crumbling walls.
Strider and the remaining ponies quickly chased Twilight into a wide room that had some sort of structure in the middle. Resting on a few outstretched disks around the structure, were five stone spheres. Each of the stone spheres had a strange symbol on it that seemed to be engraved into the stone.
"Alright, everypony stand back." Twilight instructed, levitating the spheres into a pentagon, before igniting her horn.
"What's she doing?" Strider asked.
"She's trying to ignite a spark to reveal the sixth element." Fluttershy explained.
"Hmm, is mist supposed to surround her when she's doing that?" Strider pointed to the smoke that was gathering around Twilight and the elements.
"Uh oh..." The group muttered, watching as the mist formed into the shape of a pony.
The pony's fur was night black while her mane and tail were formed with the mist that she had been a few seconds earlier. She had dark blue armor on. as well as bat like eyes and pointed teeth. Not only that, but she had a horn AND wings.
Strider quickly raised the DC-15A to the shadowy mare and pulled the trigger. A blue plasma bolt shot through the air towards her, but the alicorn ignited her horn and suddenly, she, Twilight, and the elements vanished, leaving the bolt to strike the structure behind where she had been standing.
"Where'd they go?" Rainbow Dash questioned out loud, flying over to where they had been standing.
Applejack looked out a broken window to see a light forming in a tower outside. "Over there! Come on!"
Applejack led the way as the group rushed out of the building and towards the tower. The orange pony stopped at a wall before doing a U-turn, and bucking the wall, which crumbled away from the force.
The new hole in the tower exposed a flight of stairs, Twilight's voice echoing from the top.
"All of you, stay behind me." Strider ordered, before rushing up the stairs.
Once he reached the top, he was greeted with the sight of Twilight's body being chucked against a stone pillar. Nightmare Moon instantly spotted him and grinned.
"So, it seems someone forgot their trooper didn't they?" Nightmare Moon said, her voice cold and dark.
Strider rolled into the room, before targeting Nightmare Moon with the DC-15A, and once again pulling the trigger.
Nightmare Moon dodged the plasma bolt, her grin widening. "Finally, a challenge!"
Strider fired another two shots, these ones bounced off of a magical barrier Nightmare Moon had casted. She then charged her horn and fired a bolt of what looked like shadow electricity, which soared towards Strider. He rolled to the right, dodging the bolt and fired again.
Nightmare Moon flapped her wings, rising into the air, letting the bolts fly under her. She fired more bolts at Strider, who dove from where he had been standing to dodge.
Strider fired his blaster a few times blankly at the alicorn, not trying to aim. He needed to find cover. That was when he spotted a fallen pillar and ducked behind it.
Nightmare fired a few more magical bolts which struck the pillar. Strider poked his head out from the cover to aim, and let loose a wave of blue plasma. The alicorn had to scatter through the air to avoid the blasts, but one lucky bolt struck part of her dark blue helmet, leaving a burn mark on it.
Nightmare Moon landed on the ground, slightly shocked that she had been hit. But her shock was quickly wiped from her mind and she flashed a toothy grin at Strider.
"Heh, your better than we originally assumed. But we don't have time for games." Nightmare Moon boomed, levitating the pillar Strider was hiding behind to the side.
Strider went to fire another round, but when he pulled the trigger, he realized that the DC-15A had been engulfed in a blue aurora. Suddenly, it flew from his grasp and over to Nightmare Moon, who rotated it in a circle, observing it.
"Strange piece of weaponry, We will have to replicate it for our army." Nightmare Moon muttered to herself, before raising the blaster higher into the air.
Then, to Strider's horror, the blaster snapped in half. The exposed Tibanna Gas Cartridge fell to the ground, it's power leaking onto the floor. The broken blaster was then tossed aside and Nightmare Moon teleported right in front of his face.
"Let's see how well thi do without their weapon." Nightmare Moon told herself, before smashing one of her four hooves against Strider's side.
The trooper grunted in pain at the attack, before he formed a fist with his hand and swung right at the alicorn's muzzle. But his fist stopped inches away, being encased in that same aurora from before. He was then lifted into the air by his encased hand, Nightmare Moon laughing in his face.
"EQUESTRIA WILL FINALLY BE CONTROLLED BY IT'S TRUE RULER! ME!!!" Nightmare Moon shouted, before laughing maniacally.
She tossed Strider through the air into a wall, which nearly gave way from the impact. The trooper fell to the ground, laying against the wall, defeated. Nightmare Moon was about to advance towards the trooper to finish the job, but was stopped as Twilight's voice rang through the room.
Strider tried to listen as to what the unicorn was saying, but his hearing and vision had been scrambled from the impact. He looked over to see Twilight and the rest of the ponies, before a white light shot across his visor.
He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the light, but right before he could, a rainbow beam of light shot from the group and into Nightmare Moon, encasing the entire room in a wave of white. He could hear the screams of the midnight colored alicorn as the rainbow light wrapped around her, draining her dark energy.
Strider tried to look closer, but his body was overtaken from exhaustion, and he drifted off into unconsciousness.
Space, space is a beautiful place. The quiet, peaceful area all across the galaxy and beyond. But some things lurk in that space that aren't beautiful.
Deep in space, a single Republic Attack Cruiser was flying through its black sea of stars. On the Attack Cruiser, inside the firing range, were five clone troopers. One of those troopers, was currently aiming at a deactivated test droid, which he shot right in the head.
"Ha! Bulls eye right on the first try!" The clone who had fired the shot cheered, smiling at his mini victory.
"Lucky shot Rust," A clone muttered behind Rust, before taking a sip of water from a cup he was holding.
"Yeah yeah you always chalk it up to luck Strider." Rust said, walking over to a water cooler and getting himself a cup of water.
"Fork of the blaster, it's time to show you how it's really done." One clone claimed, grabbing the blaster from Rust's hands and walking over to the shooting range.
"Sure Trigger, like last time when you said that and missed the droid by a foot." A clone commented.
"Shut it Cosmo, last time I checked, you were nearly smashed into paper by a door." Trigger replied, aiming the blaster at a set of droids.
"That was ages ago!" Comso emphasized.
"Yeah, like when you got a face full of door when the motion censors were down for maintenance?" The final clone questioned. That had caused all the other clones on the room to laugh.
"No one told me that the door to the restrooms were being fixed and you had to open it manually Matt!" Comso shouted.
Trigger stopped laughing and went back to focusing on aiming. He shot two bolts, one going between a droids legs while the other one hitting it in its left arm.
That caused the group to burst out laughing again, except Trigger, who grunted and threw the blaster down on the ground.
"Alright, let's see," Matt muttered, looking at Triggers helmet, which had been set down with the rest of the clones helmets. This one however, had a set of tally marks on the front of it.
Matt grabbed a marker from his utility belt, and put another black tally on the helmet.
"Why do you even have a marker in your belt?" Strider asked.
"For marking down how many times Trigger get's triggered over missing a shot." Matt replied, smirking.
"You guys are the worst." Trigger mumbled, but in his head, he was laughing himself.
Strider smiled, setting his cup down on a table and walking over to his brothers.
"We did good today boy's, every clanker that has seen us has always been left for the scrap pile afterwards. This war is gonna be over faster than Cosmo tripping over his own foot." Strider exclaimed.
"Hey!" Cosmo barked, before ironically, tripping over one of his boots and falling face first to the ground.
"Welp, wars over." Matt said blankly, before the room was engulfed in laughter once more.
The group of troopers quickly returned to target practice, completely unaware of the Separatist ship that had just come out of hyperspace right in front of the Attack Cruiser...
Strider cracked open his eyes, sunlight instantly filling them. He quickly realized that his helmet and armor had been removed, leaving him in his black body suit.
He instantly realized that he wasn't in the crumbling tower of the castle, but back in Fluttershy's cottage on a couch. His armor had been put down next to the couch while his helmet rested on a new table.
Strider slowly got to his feet, grabbing his armor and putting it back on his body. He grabbed his helmet, the back arrow com-link on top had been banged up from the back.
"Dang it, Com-Link's relay got busted." Strider muttered, examining the bent arrow style com-link. He had already tried to contact the Republic but didn't get anything. With the relay busted, it would be impossible to contact them with his armor com-link.
With a sigh, Strider put the helmet back on his head, before advancing towards the front door. It looked like Fluttershy had repaired the door since it was on a new set of hinges. The door now opened outwards to the outside world instead of inwards.
Strider stepped out of the cottage, taking in the sunlight. He looked over in the direction of the town, spotting Fluttershy trotting up the path towards him.
"Oh good, your up. You were really lucky. If you hadn't been wearing that armor, your back would have suffered much more." Fluttershy explained.
"I've taken worse, but I am gonna need to make a trip to the Gunship to get another---" Strider trailed off as he spotted a familiar snow white bunny sitting on top of Fluttershy's head. "You..."
The bunny and Strider glared at each other, both remembering the firefight that had taken place inside the cottage.
"Oh yeah, this is Angel Bunny. I'm not sure how but he had been locked up in a cupboard when I returned. He also wanted to throw your helmet in a trash can." Fluttershy stated.
"Yeah, we've met..." Strider grumbled, his glare masked by the visor.
Fluttershy walked past the trooper and into the cottage, setting Angel Bunny down on the ground. The bunny quickly bounced off, not wanting to be near Strider, who shut the door behind him as he entered.
Strider followed Fluttershy into the kitchen, leaning against the wall as he watched her grab a bag of tea and put a kettle on to boil water. She looked so peaceful. This only nagged at the horrible feeling inside Strider. Fluttershy, along with everyone on this planet, had zero clue about the war above. They could be dragged into the war and none of them seemed to have propper weapons or soldiers to fight. Their world would be crushed within hours by the Separatists.
"Fluttershy? Does this place have a leader?" Strider asked.
"Yes, we have Princess Celestia and now Princess Luna. You were unconscious when Princess Celestia showed up to help Princess Luna get back to her hooves." Fluttershy explained.
"Princesses, do they have a castle nearby?"
"Um, in Canterlot. You actually can see the city from Ponyville if you look at the mountain it was built into."
"How can you reach the city?" Strider questioned.
"Well, you can fly there by air ship or wing carriage. Or you can take the Train, but you need a ticket to get there." Fluttershy claimed. "Why do you want to go there?"
Strider took a deep breath in, before letting it out.
"I need to inform the Princesses about the war that's going on." Strider exclaimed.
"Ticket's to Canterlot aren't cheap." Fluttershy claimed, taking two cups down from a cupboard and setting them down on the counter. "But if you want , I might be able to-"
"No, you don't need to use your credits, or whatever you use here. I have a ship, it's just, a little broken." Strider said, remembering the horrible state the Gunship had been left in.
"Didn't you say you crashed in the Everfree Forest?" Fluttershy asked.
"Yeah, but I need that Gunship. It has weapons and machinery that might still be working." Strider emphasized.
Fluttershy put a hoof to her chin, brow furrowing. "How heavy is it?" She questioned.
"Don't know, but it is massive. Even 16 troopers wouldn't be able to move it.
Fluttershy took the ready kettle off the stove and put it on a tray with the cups. She carried it over to the main room and set it down on the new table.
"Give me a moment." Fluttershy asked, before leaving the cottage.
After what seemed like an hour, Strider opened up the door to the cottage and looked around. The mare was nowhere to be seen. Where had she gone?
Not only that, but the cottage seemed quiet again. Strider quickly looked behind him, half expecting Angel Bunny to be standing there with a knife or something. But the bunny was also gone.
Strider's attention was quickly taken by a scraping noise coming from the Everfree Forest.
The trooper rushed from the cottage towards the noise, and stopped in his tracks.
"How...out of all things wise...did you get this?" Strider muttered, eyes wide with shock at the sight.
Resting in front of him was the Gunship, as beaten and run down as he had left it. Standing in front of the Gunship, was Fluttershy.
"Oh, I have some friends who were more than willing to help." Fluttershy claimed.
Strider looked around the side of the Gunship, to see two bears standing behind it, both giving each other fist bumps. A flock of birds above the ship let out a sigh of relief and let go of the Gunship. But the strangest thing, was the pink pony who was sitting in one of the pilot seats.
"Hi Strider! This thing is so much fun!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, before bouncing out from where she had been sitting and bounced away.
Strider looked at the interior of the ship, seeing that all the bodies of the clones were still there, but lined up, ready to be buried. A few boxes full of supplies rested comfortably against the back of the interior.
"W-wow, just....wow, you have no idea how much this is going to help. Thanks Fluttershy." Strider said, looking at the mare.
"Heh, i-it was nothing. Except for a-all the t-terrifying creatures i-in there." Fluttershy stammered, before waving to the animals who had lined up along side the ship.
"T-thank you everyone for the help!" Fluttershy thanked, before watching as the animals departed.
Strider looked back at the Gunship, ideas forming in his head. This day just got all sorts of better.
To say that the Gunship was broken, was an understatement. All the fuel tanks had been cracked open and any remaining fuel leaked out into the grass. One of the wings was hanging on by a set of wires. The power systems had been drained. The whole front part had nearly been torn to shreds from the crash.
Even with all of this, Strider was happy to have the Gunship. It had been the first time since the crash that he had a genuine smile on his face. But he had to put a hold on everything until all the troopers inside had been buried. That, had been one of the worse moments.
Strider had taken their armor off, before burying the bodies alongside the Everfree Forest. Once each body had been buried, he struck wooden poles into the area's he had buried them. The then put each one's helmet on the wooden pole, each helmet facing the Everfree Forest.
"You boys can rest, your armor will to the rest." Strider said as he looked at the poles one last time, before walking away from the burial sight.
After each of his Brothers had been laid to rest, he focused on cleaning out the Gunship of all its supplies. Strider ended up finding a few backup storage crates that had been stored in the small cargo hold.
Strider lowered a box and popped off the lid, exposing the items inside to the sunlight. Strider couldn't help but grin at the items inside the crate.
Inside were a few DC-15S blasters, a bundle of Thermal Detonators, and a stack of power packs. A perfect weapons crate. Strider grabbed one of the DC-15S's and examined it. It wasn't like his DC-15A but it would do.
Strider set the DC-15S next to him on the ground, before grabbing another crate. This crate had a few mini medical packs. This and several other medical items.
"Eh, I barely know anything about medical stuff." Strider stated, before setting the lid down on the crate and moving over to the side.
Strider looked back into the cargo hold and spotted one more crate. But it was in the far back so he couldn't grab it from where he was. The trooper reached into the cargo hold and grabbed the crate. He slowly dragged the crate towards him, but stopped when he saw a certain object that had been hiding behind the crate.
"No way, what are you doing back there?" Strider questioned out loud, pushing the crate to the side and grabbing hold of the object.
The object was about mid way from reaching the exit of the cargo hold, only to hear and feel rain drops falling on his back. Strider let go of the object and backed up, quickly spotting a wave of cloud that had appeared in the sky.
"Where did this storm come from?" Strider wondered out loud, looking up at the clouds.
However, he quickly remembered the object and went back to dragging the object out of the cargo hold. His fingers wrapped around part of the object again and with one sharp tug, dragged the object out of the cargo hold and into the rain.
"Oh this baby is just itching for a fight!" Strider claimed, staring in awe at the device.
Resting in his hands was a fully loaded Z-6 Chain Gun, the dust around the grey metal quickly getting washed away by the rain.
Strider set the Z-6 down on the ground, and went to grab the final crate. Once it had been dragged out, the rain had stopped. He let go of the crate again and looked up at the sky, spotting several ponies with wings pushing the clouds away.
"They control the weather here?" Strider commented, watching the ponies work. "Well, I have seen a species that was able to turn grass into strong bridges."
Strider went back to looking at the final crate, it's lid ready to be taken off. He obliged, removing the lid and looking into the crate. Inside, were what looked like several tools and spare parts.
"Great, a maintenance crate." Strider muttered. He looked up at the broken Gunship, then back to the maintenance crate. This wasn't going to be anywhere near enough to fix the ship.
Strider put the lid back on and put the other two crates back into the cargo hold. He gently set the Z-6 in the transport area, and looked up at the Gunship's pilot area.
This was gonna be harder then taking on a full battalion of Super Battle Droids with a single DC-17 Pistol.
Strider continued on working on the Gunship even as Night rolled around. He let out a yawn as he rotated a wrench which was fixated on a bolt. Strider was mid twist when a voice from the ground next to the Gunship caught his attention. He stopped what he was doing and looked over the edge of the piloting area, quickly spotting Fluttershy who had something shiny in her mouth.
Fluttershy took the object out of her mouth, before looking up at Strider. "Um, are you gonna come inside for the night?" She asked.
"No, i've got other things to do besides sleep. Not to mention I can now use the Gunship as a base instead of intruding in your cottage." Strider explained.
"You really are working hard on that ship aren't you?" Fluttershy pointed out.
"It's the only ship I have left, not to mention it could come in handy to get me back to the Republic fleet. But that would be the last resort. I only have so much fuel left in this thing." Strider stated, trying not to yawn between sentences.
"Well, if you want to come inside, my door is always open. Good night Strider." Fluttershy said, before putting the object back in her mouth and walking towards the cottage.
"Hey!" Strider called out, causing Fluttershy to freeze.
"Um, is something wrong?" Fluttershy asked, her words slightly restricted due to the object still being in her mouth.
"No, I was just wondering what you've got in your mouth?"
"Oh," Fluttershy said, before removing the object again and smiled at the trooper. "It's a ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala. Me and the girls are going to go to it together and i'm gonna talk with all the different animals there." She exclaimed.
"Grand Galloping Gala? Is that some sort of festival?" Strider questioned.
"Um, it's a celebration for when Canterlot was founded. It's one of the most well known celebrations that i've wanted to attend, sort of." Fluttershy stated.
"Are the Princesses are gonna be there?"
"I think so."
"Hmm, alright then, good night Fluttershy." Strider finished, before getting back to work with the bolt.
Fluttershy trotted into the cottage and gently shut the door, leaving Strider alone with the Gunship once again.
Strider was currently forming a plan in his head. A ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala must be hard to get considering that Fluttershy wanted to go but never got around to it until now with her friends. That means that he can't just simply get a ticket. But maybe, he might be able to use the Gunship to help make a forged ticket. It would take lot's of work, and ton's of perfect calculations from him. One mistake could cause him to restart or damage the Gunship. But it could be a possibility. He needed to talk with the Princesses about the war, and if he just went to the Gala, he might not even need to use--
Strider's thoughts quickly shifted as he heard the sound of a snapping noise. He looked down to see that he had snapped the bolt he was unscrewing and sparks had begun to fly from the opening.
A few weeks had passed since Strider had begun working on the Gunship, but it didn't look like it. The ship was still badly beaten up and some parts were hanging by threads or wires. But Strider had managed to reboot the system of the Gunship, restoring power to the NAVA computer and the Communication System.
It had required lot's of patients and tons of precise placements of wires and machinery. But at the end of the day, Strider managed to get part of the job done.
It was around mid day and Strider was currently twisting a screwdriver behind a bent panel in the transportation bay. The panel scraped against the wall as Strider tried to free it. The screws around the panel had all been taken out, but the crash had sent part of the panel into another, wedging it stuck.
With one last pull, Strider let go of the panel and sighed. It was going to take some force to free that panel, maybe a hammer.
Strider reached around for the tool box, but instead found a hammer dangling from the talons of three birds. Then, they dropped the hammer into Strider's hand.
"Uh, thanks?" Strider said, looking at the birds.
The three birds chirped happily at him, before flying away. Strider decided to just go back to work, bringing the hammer down on the panel. The panel quickly gave way, falling to the ground and exposing several wires behind it.
"Haha! That's where you are!" Strider proclaimed, looking at the wires.
It was the central control wiring, the main core of power dispersion in the Gunship. Once this is repaired, the Gunship's power would run through the whole ship.
Strider quickly went to work, unscrewing a mini power box in the wires and tweaking a few strings. It didn't take to long before he had secured a loose wire and managed to reconnect and repair any broken wires. The trooper was about to begin working on the power when a certain pink pony bounced into the transportation bay.
"Hi Strider! When the whole Nightmare Moon thing happened I ended up forgetting about your welcome party! Which rarely happens. I never forget parties. But that just means that this party has to be even better to make it up to you!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.
Strider put down a tool he was holding and looked at the mare. "Pinkie Pie, I would rather not have a party just because I showed up. I would rather keep working on repairing the Gunship so I--" Strider couldn't finish as the Pink pony grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away from the Gunship.
"I haven't missed a welcome party since the dawn of time and I am not stopping today! It's gonna be fun Strider! I Pinkie Promise! Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Pinkie Pie exclaimed while doing several motions in the air.
Strider just sighed, he already knew how determined Pinkie Pie was when she wanted to do something. So instead of fighting, he let Pinkie Pie drag him towards town. Besides, it would be nice to make connections here encase he needed parts for the Gunship.
Strider ended up at the gingerbread looking building which Pinkie Pie had claimed was called Sugar Cube Corner. Inside, it looked like a sweets bakery. Several baked goods were on display in a glass case located in the counter where the cash register was located. A few tables were scattered around the room, some of them had ponies sitting in chairs at them while enjoying a treat.
"Mrs Cake! I brought a new friend over!" Pinkie Pie called out to the room behind the counter.
Strider quickly spotted a light blue pony with a pale crimson mane and tail trotted through two saloon style doors. The pony was wearing what Strider assumed was a pony version of an apron, as well as pink spherical earrings.
"Ah yes, the one you were talking about this morning?" Mrs Cake proclaimed as she went over to the counter.
"Yes sir-re! Mrs Cake, this is Strider." Pinkie Pie introduced, pointing a hoof at the trooper.
"Nice to meet you Mr....." She trailed off when she spotted the trooper, his expression masked by his helmet.
"Strider, ma'am." Strider finished.
Mrs Cake eyed Pinkie Pie, who gave her a nod in agreement, before she looked at Strider. "Well, if Pinkie's ok with you, then I am to." She said, cracking a smile.
"Mrs Cake, do you think I could bring Strider up to my room? I've never thrown a party for a clone trooper and want to know what he would like." Pinkie Pie exclaimed.
"Sure thing." Mrs Cake answered, her fear fading away.
Not wanting to waste anymore time, Pinkie Pie guided Strider up a set of stairs that led to another floor. Right as the two were out of sight, a purple baby dragon entered through the front door.
Mrs Cake quickly identified Spike and smiled. "Good afternoon Spike, i'm guessing Twilight gave you a day off?" The baker asked.
Spike grinned, before answering. "Yep, Twilight thought I deserve a treat for my hard work at organizing the whole library twice." Spike claimed.
"Well then, what do you want Spike?" Mrs Cake asked.
"Hmm," Spike muttered, looking at the display cases in the counter. "Do you have anything with gems?" He questioned.
Mrs Cake brought a hoof to her chin, thinking about the request. Did she even have any gems in the back?
"Sorry Spike, but we don't have any gems." Mrs Cake exclaimed.
Spike sighed. "I wish this town had gems for sale." He said sadly.
Mrs Cake looked looked down at the sad baby dragon, before an idea popped into her mind. "We do have berry bit cupcakes." She said.
Spike's face quickly brightened up at the name of the treat. "Ooh, can I try that?"
"Sure thing, give me a second dear." Mrs Cake stated, before heading into the kitchen behind the counter.
Spike went over to a table and sat down, glancing out the window at the ponies who were passing the building. Spike soon found himself locked in a daydreamy state. He was so zoned out, that he didn't notice Strider who was muttering to himself as he walked down the stairs.
"How can two balloons have several different textures just because it had different colors---" Strider trailed off as he spotted the dragon.
"Wait, is that, no," Strider muttered, walking much more silently down the stairs and towards Spike.
He was about three inches from the dragon before one bad move caused a floorboard to creak loudly. The noise alerted Spike who twirled around 180 degrees and was met face to face with the trooper. The two continued to stare at each other, until Spike began to ask questions.
"Who are you?" Spike asked.
"Um, Strider, clone trooper of the grand republic." Strider greeted. "Are you a dragon?"
"Yep, my name's Spike! Assistant to Twilight Sparkle."
"So this place not only has Ponies, but Dragons?"
"Uh, yeah? Wait, are you some sort of superhero!?" Spike asked, his eyes widening at the thought.
"I'm anything but a superhero. I'm just a clone, another number for the army." Strider said in a low tone.
Spike was about to say something, but stopped when he saw Mrs Cake walking towards him. She seemed to be holding a tray that had a set of cupcakes on it.
"Spike, your berry bit cupcakes are ready." Mrs Cake exclaimed, setting the tray down on the table Spike was sitting at.
The baby dragon smiled with glee at the sight of the the baked goods, before taking one and biting into it. While he was enjoying his snack, Mrs Cake looked over at Strider, who was currently quiet.
"Are you alright Strider?" She asked with a concerned tone.
"Yeah, just--thinking." Strider answered.
Strider was about to head over to the door, but Spike blocked his way.
"Hey, you wanna cupcake?" Spike asked.
Strider let out a weak smile, accepting the treat which was set in his hand, before leaving the bakery.
Strider was sitting on the side of the Transportation bay of the Gunship, the berry bit cupcake in his hand. He remained this way for a while, thinking to himself. He hadn't really thought about the fact that he was just another number. Strider continued to rotate the cupcake in his hands.
"What am I doing? I need to get the Gunship online." Strider told himself, setting the cupcake down and walked over to the open panel.
With a few tweaks and twists of wires, a spark flew through the panel, jolting the Gunship to life. The Transportation Bay lit up with green lights, signaling that the doors were ready to open, which they were.
Seeing the Gunship's power restored, quickly shoved the number thoughts out of Strider's brain.
"Haha! You bucket of bolts still has some character don't you!" Strider declared, looking at the now working lights.
Strider went over to the power box and put the panel back into place. He screwed the bolts back into the panel and gave it a tap. Good as new.
The trooper went over to the side of the Gunship with the broken wing and looked up at it. That was the elephant in the room. With that wing broken, the Gunship wouldn't make it for feet above the ground before tumbling to the ground.
"Hmm, i'm gonna need to take the whole wing off and repair the wing. That's gonna take lot's of new metal, not to mention several fresh canon's and--CRASH!!!"
Strider locked up, identifying the noise to be the sound of his DC-15S blaster falling to the ground. He knew it had been set near the middle of the bay so it couldn't of fallen off by its self. He looked over in the direction of where he had set the blaster, seeing that it was no longer in the Gunship.
Slowly, Strider tip toed over towards the side of the bay and looked around. He spotted the DC-15S laying on the ground below his feet. He grabbed it and switched off the safety, before taking another look around the area.
After a few seconds of pure silence Strider spotted a hint of yellow fur between two crates. Slowly, Strider went over to the crates, keeping the barrel pointed at the crate. Once he was right over the crates, he made his presence clear.
"Who's there!? Come out or I shoot!" Strider exclaimed, pointing the DC-15S at the crates.
Slowly, the pony behind the crates rose up, exposing a filly with a red mane and tail behind them. The pony was wearing a pink bow that was much to big for her head and her sun yellow eyes were looking down at the ground.
Strider lowered the DC-15S at the sight of the filly, sighing under his helmet. "Who are you?"
"Uh, Apple Bloom, sorry for mess'n with your stuff." Apple Bloom apologized, still looking down.
"Why are you even here?" Strider questioned.
Apple Bloom fidgeted with her fore-hoof. "Well, ya ended up breaking mah sister's apple cart but she wouldn't tell me who so ah wanted to know who ya were. Ah saw this strange thing and wanted ta know what it was. Ahm very very sorry!"
"Don't worry, just make sure that you don't sneak up on a soldier." Strider explained.
Apple Bloom's worried look slowly faded and she smiled. "I promise it won't happen again!" Apple Bloom promised, before taking off in the direction of Ponyville.
Strider sighed, switching the blaster back to safety mode and went back to looking at the wing. Maybe the town has a store that sells metal, or maybe he could find a way to get it transported to him, or--
Strider's thought's froze up as he spotted Apple Bloom rushing back towards him.
"Ah never caught your name!" Apple Bloom stated.
"Oh, my name's Strider." Strider answered.
"Nice ta meet ya Strider!" Apple Bloom proclaimed, still smiling.
Strider wasn't sure why, but seeing that filly smile made his day all sorts of better. He felt something he hadn't since the crash.
Strider didn't know why. He shouldn't be feeling happy. Apple Bloom was just ease dropping and nearly got a plasma bolt to the face. But something felt different about this pony then the others.
He knelt down so he was closer to eye level with the filly, and removed his helmet, letting Apple Bloom see his face.
"Woah, is that a suit of armor!?" Apple Bloom asked, now looking into Strider's brown eyes.
"Yep, Clone armor. I think it would be best if I said this with my helmet off." Strider claimed.
"I'm no Jedi, but I can tell that your gonna go far kid." Strider exclaimed.
"Really?" Apple Bloom asked, her eyes widening.
"You can bet on it." Strider answered.
Apple Bloom's smile widened, before to Strider's shock, she wrapped her hooves around his chest in a hug.
Not really knowing what to do, Strider returned the hug, smiling himself. In all his years of being a trooper for the republic, he had never ever been given a hug. And it felt amazing.
After the hug, Apple Bloom trotted off back towards Ponyville with a glowing smile. Strider continued to smile himself as he put his helmet back on and went back to the Gunship.
The Clone Trooper quickly returned to work, unscrewing a few bolts from the left wing of the Gunship. However, he was gonna need some sort of pulley system so the wing wouldn't fall and get even more damaged. Maybe Fluttershy had some spare rope.
Strider paused for a moment, realizing that he hadn't seen Fluttershy all day. Where was she?
"Probably getting stuff at that market I saw." Strider assured himself, before looking back at the wing.
Before he could get back to work however, the pegasus in question popped into view. Strider looked over to see Fluttershy, but something was wrong.
She was rushing into her cottage, shutting the door violently.
Strider got down from the Gunship and went over to the cottage. He knocked on the door and waited.
After a few seconds of waiting with no response, Strider tried the handle. It was locked.
"You alright Fluttershy?" Strider asked through the door.
That was when he heard muffled sobbing. That was the signal that something was definitely wrong. Strider rushed over to the Gunship and grabbed a few tools. He went back over to the door and with some work, and a few back up screwdrivers, he unlocked the door and entered.
Inside, Fluttershy was face down on a green chair, sobbing into a pillow. Strider went over to the pegasus's side and knelt down.
"Fluttershy? What happened?" He asked.
Fluttershy tried to stop crying, but tears still fell as she looked over at him.
"I-I w-was j-just trying t-to help t-those b-birds." She stammered out, before returning to her sobbing state.
Strider wasn't exactly a negotiator, but he needed to do something. Slowly, he extended out one of his hands and wiped some tears from Fluttershy's face.
"It's ok, can you tell me what happened?" He asked again.
"I-I was j-just g-guiding some b-birds t-through t-the street a-and s-she s-shouted at m-me." Fluttershy explained through sobs.
"A G-Griffon." She finished, before she lost her words to more sobs.
Strider removed his helmet, setting it to the side. He spotted Angel Bunny, who wasn't glaring at him, but looking worried at Fluttershy.
"Hey, do you think you could grab a glass of water for her?" Strider asked.
Angel Bunny stood there for a few seconds, before nodding and hopping off into the kitchen.
"Don't worry Fluttershy, you didn't do anything wrong." Strider claimed.
Fluttershy's sobbing slowed, her watery eyes focused on his exposed face.
Angel Bunny came back into the room with a glass of water in his paws. He passed it over to Strider, who set it down on a table next to the chair. The bunny then hopped up next to Fluttershy and went over to help comfort her.
"Thanks," Strider said to the bunny, who nodded.
Angel Bunny looked at Strider, then to his helmet. Then, he gave him an expression that said exactly what Strider was going to do.
Teach whoever did this a lesson.
Strider grabbed his helmet and put it back on. He looked back to Fluttershy, who was slowly calming down thanks to Angel Bunny. Then, he put his helmet back on and walked out the door.
Strider went over to the Gunship and grabbed the DC-15S and primed it. He made sure the safety was off, before taking off towards Ponyville.
Strider soon ended up in Ponyville. Now came the hard part, finding that Griffon. Strider didn't know that much about Griffons, only what they look like due to his brother Cosmo reading a book about creatures from the outer rim.
So with that information out of reach, Strider decided to do an old school perimeter check. He began by patrolling the park, then the market, then the alleyways.
It took a full hour of searching before Strider heard a roar from Sugar Cube Corner. That must be where that Griffon was.
Without any second thought, Strider rushed towards the bakery, DC-15S primed and ready. He quickly made it to the bakery right as a figure soared from the door and into the sky.
The figure didn't look like a pony, so he stopped and shouted at it.
"HEY! YOU GET YOUR FEATHER COVERED BEHIND DOWN HERE!" Strider shouted to the figure, who looked down at him for a second, before continuing to fly away.
Strider didn't care who was looking. He aimed at one of the figures wings, and pulled the trigger. A blue plasma bolt shot from the blaster and through the air towards the figure.
The bolt made contact with its left wing, causing it to scream in pain and land with a THUD on the ground. Strider rushed over to where it had crashed and got a good view of what it looked like.
The figure looked like it was half eagle and half lion. Definitely a Griffon. Its front yellow talons clutching the part of the wing that had been hit.
The figure looked over at Strider, who pointed the blaster right between its eyes.
"Now listen here bud, I don't know why your here, or what you want to do. But if you ever roar at an innocent pony for no reason again, your gonna have a plasma bolt for a meal." Strider exclaimed. "I didn't hit your wing that badly, so get out of town!"
"What in Tartarus is your problem!?" The Griffon barked, its voice sounding female.
"MY problem is the fact that your still HERE." Strider stated.
"If your talking about that clumsy pegasus then she ran into me!" The Griffon claimed.
"So that gives you the right to scare her fur right off her body?" Strider questioned.
"Why defend that lame pony? Even if I did do that it's not an excuse to SHOOT MY WING! Who even are you!?"
"I'm gonna be the last face you see unless you leave, RIGHT NOW!" Strider shouted, firing a bolt that skimmed the side of the Griffons face, leaving a few feathers burned. "NOW LEAVE YOU UNCOOKED PIECE OF POULTRY!
Quickly realizing that the trooper was not bluffing, the Griffon shot back into the sky, ignoring the pain from her left wing, and leaving Ponyville in the dust.
"That's what I thought." Strider stated, watching the Griffon fade into the distance.
The Trooper began walking back towards Fluttershy's Cottage while also keeping his eyes open for any ponies that had witnessed the scene. To his shock, not a single pony was staring at him. Some walked past him while others just ignored him. Either the towns ponies didn't like that Griffin either, or he had just gotten lucky and no one saw it.
That was what he thought at least.
Strider suddenly felt like he was being watched. Not like a glance in his direction, but a full stare at his helmet.
Strider stopped in his tracks, looking around the area he was standing in. He had ended up near the market area, a few lone stalls drifting from the massive patch of shops.
Strider didn't spot any of the ponies looking at him, just doing their thing. That was, until Strider spotted a set of eyes that were locked on him.
A set of blue eyes were looking at him from an alleyway between two shops. The eyes belonged to what looked like a stallion, but their fur and mane were hidden by the darkness of the alleyway.
The two seemed to be locked in a staring contest, both of them not looking away or blinking. This continued for what felt like hours, until a pony pulling a wagon trotted in between the two, covering Strider's view of the alleyway.
Once the wagon had passed, the stallion had vanished. Strider quickly rushed over to the alleyway and ran down it. That Stallion couldn't of gotten far.
Strider scanned the whole alleyway high and low, but didn't find a single trace of the Stallion. Eventually, Strider gave up and left the alleyway and continued on his way to Fluttershy's cottage. But his mind was already beginning to wonder.
Who was that Stallion? They didn't act like any pony he had encountered before, any human before! Why were they looking at him that way? Was it because he had shot that Griffon? Was it because he was nothing like a pony who had a weapon that could kill? Then why wouldn't he have just walked up to him and told him off.
Maybe he was scared.
That would make sense. After all, he had what was basically a space weapon from a movie and armor like nothing from this planet. Now that he thought about it. That was exactly what he was to this world, an alien from a space movie.
"Shut up, focus on the Gunship." Strider told himself.
It didn't take long before Strider was back at the Cottage. He went over to the front door of the Cottage and opened it. But to his shock, it was empty.
Where did Fluttershy go? The answer quite literally bounced into the room as Angel Bunny came into view.
"Hey, where did Fluttershy go?" Strider asked.
Angel Bunny went over to a picture frame and pointed at a pony in it. He was pointing at Pinkie Pie, who was smiling to the camera.
"Probably wanted to help her with a party." Strider muttered to himself.
Angel Bunny bounced over to Strider and looked up at him, his expression said it all.
Did you teach them a lesson?
Strider smirked under his helmet before replying. "Let's just say, they won't be wanting to come back to this town anymore." Strider explained, raising the DC-15S in his hand.
The bunny grinned, before bouncing off to do his thing, leaving Strider to exit the Cottage and head back over to the Gunship. That wing wasn't going to repair its self.
"So, what did you say you wanted?" Fluttershy asked as she and Strider walked through the market.
"A rope to make a pulley system for the damaged wing on the Gunship." Strider explained.
"Oh, ok. I don't really know who would sell that." Fluttershy stated.
"Well that cart looks like a good place to start." Strider claimed and pointed to a nearby cart that had several ropes hanging from the side of it.
The two went over to the cart which was being managed by a Stallion with grey fur and a black mane and tail. He smiled as he spotted Fluttershy head over to him.
"Hello Miss Shy, what would you like today?" The Stallion asked.
"Oh, I don't need anything, but my friend here does." Fluttershy exclaimed before stepping to the side to allow Strider to get closer.
"I'm Strider. I'm working on something that needs a pulley system. I was wondering if you had any 32 ft long ropes?" Strider questioned.
"Well, I do have a 32 hoof length rope over there." The Stallion stated, pointing a hoof at a brown rope resting on a nail.
Strider picked the rope up and examined it. The rope seemed to be tough and was diffidently long enough.
"Perfect, how much?" Strider asked.
"That rope would be around thirty bits." The Stallion claimed.
Strider didn't exactly know what a bit was, so Fluttershy stepped back in front of him and put the money on the counter. The money appeared to be small circular golden pieces.
As the two were walking away from the cart, Strider brought it up.
"Your currency is gold?" Strider asked.
"Um, yes. We call them bits." Fluttershy explained.
Strider was about to reply but stopped when he spotted a crowd gathering in front of the town square building.
"What's going on over there?" Strider wondered out loud.
"I don't know." Fluttershy answered.
"Let's check it out." Strider said, walking towards the crowd.
Fluttershy was a bit hesitant to head towards the crowd, but she followed the trooper around the side of the crowd.
It turned out that the group of ponies were looking at a wagon that was in front of town square. It had a red roof and pale yellow wooden walls. A voice echoed through a microphone from inside the wagon, which suddenly opened up.
"Come one! Come all! Come and witness the Great And Powerful TRIXIE!" The female sounding voice proclaimed through the microphone.
The wagon quickly opened up into a makeshift stage with several other things popping out. This was then followed by a set of fireworks which blasted into the air.
"Wow, a traveling entertainer. I've heard some pretty strange stories about these guys." Strider stated to Fluttershy, who had ducked behind him as the fireworks blew up.
Strider looked back at the stage, now seeing a female pony with light blue fur and a white and light blue colored mane and tail. She was wearing a star covered purple pointy hat and a matching purple cape. Her purple eyes looking out at the crowd.
Strider didn't need to be a Jedi to tell that the pony was probably Trixie, who was talking to the crowd before another set of fireworks blasted into the air.
Trixie raised up her right forehoof and waved it around. Then, a bouquet of flowers appeared out of nowhere and onto her hoof.
That was when Strider remembered something else about this world that he had forgotten completely. It had unicorns, who used magic. Nightmare Moon had used said magic to fight him in that castle, but other than that, Strider hadn't seen magic used before.
"She's got some nice moves." Strider stated to Fluttershy, who had come out from behind his leg and joined him and the crowd at watching the performance.
Strider didn't pick up what a pony had said, but Trixie stopped what she was doing and looked down at the crowd.
"Well well well, it seems we have some neighsayors in the audience." She declared.
It took a moment before the pun registered in Strider's head, before he answered it with a face palm to his helmet. When he removed his hand from his visor, he spotted Rainbow Dash hovering in front of Trixie, frowning at her.
"What makes you so much better than everypony else?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Why, only the Great And Powerful Trixie has magic strong enough to vanquish the dreaded Ursa Major!" Trixie claimed in a booming voice.
Another set of fireworks went off, but this set was different then the others. This set somehow showed neon glowing images in the sky which made a shape of a bear.
A few gasps escaped through the crowd at the sight, while Strider looked up in confusion. What the heck was an Ursa Major?
Trixie continued to talk about the Ursa Major and how she had defeated it. But Strider was more focused on the lights which faded once the story was finished.
"That was a nice light show, huh Fluttershy?" Strider asked.
"U-Ursa, M-Major?" Fluttershy stammered, her mind racing.
"Yeah, what is an Ursa Major?" Strider wondered.
Fluttershy didn't answer, still visibly shaking a little on her forehooves.
Strider looked back at the stage which had once again had fireworks going off above it. Ok, that was getting a little repetitive now. Even the machines which launched the fireworks began to lose gas.
"That's it. Ah can't stand for no more of this!" Applejack's voice stated as it rang through the crowd.
The Orange pony got up onto the stage and grabbed a rope out of seemingly nowhere and tied it to her tail. She then spun the rope around and around like a lasso and launched it over to an apple tree. The rope wrapped around an apple and was yanked back with the rope back to Applejack. The mare ate the whole apple as it came soaring into her mouth and smiled.
The crowd of ponies cheered at the performance, some clapping their hooves together while others whistled. Strider couldn't help but give Applejack a round of applause as well.
That was, until he realized the lack of weight on his shoulder where he had put the rope. Strider quickly realized that the rope was gone.
"Hey! That's my--" Strider trailed off as Trixie took the rope in her magic and did some strange dancing with it.
Applejack had frozen up, her eyes locked with the rope. The rope slowly tied its self around Applejack, before spinning her out and off the stage. Trixie then looked up at the rope and grinned, before twisting it around a few times and into a knotted pony shape.
Trixie then tried to undo the knot but after a few sharp tugs, just broke the rope around the knots and put it away in a barrel.
"rope..." Strider finished, quickly realizing that the rope was no longer usable due to Trixie breaking it and shortening its length.
Strider cursed under his breath and clenched his hand into a fist. The small amount of respect Trixie had earned from him from her show vanished instantly.
Fluttershy spotted Strider's clenched fist and looked up at him.
"Don't worry, we can get another one," Fluttershy said. "But it wasn't very nice for her to do that to Applejack--and Rainbow Dash----and, Rarity."
Strider looked back to the stage to see Rarity rush off with green hair and Rainbow Dash rubbing her head with a hoof.
Strider sighed, before spotting the crowd break away back into town. His hands still clenched in a fist as he and Fluttershy walked back towards the market.
Strider flipped a few switches from the Gunship, grumbling the entire time. Not only did the shop keeper not have any 32 ft rope left, but he also didn't have any ropes longer than 32 ft. So the pulley system was no longer an option for the time, so he had to improvise.
That being unscrewing the wing with several spare pillows and cushions Fluttershy had spared him underneath and hope it doesn't break.
After Strider was sure the power wasn't running through the wing, he climbed on top of the Gunship and began unscrewing the wing from the rest of the ship.
By the time he had taken most of the screws out, Night had rolled around. Strider unscrewed the final bolt, causing the wing to fall to the ground with a THUD!
"Please don't be badly damaged," Strider muttered as he hopped down to the ground and went over to the wing.
The wing didn't seem to of taken more damage from the fall, but it was still bent badly and needed repairs.
"I think i'll do that tomorrow." Strider told himself.
The Trooper got into the Gunship's Transportation Bay and flipped a switch. The light's inside the bay shut off, letting the darkness sweep through it. Strider sat down against a wall and looked out at the night sky. Once the wing was repaired, the Gunship would be over half way repaired.
With that thought in Strider's mind, he smiled and shut his eyes. However, a loud noise caused him to open them again and look over at the Everfree Forest.
What he saw making its way through the forest caused his blood to freeze up.
A massive blue transparent bear with a white star on its head was rushing through the forest right towards Ponyville, it's orange and red eyes glaring at the town. It looked exactly like the image Trixie had made during her performance, sort of.
"If that's an Ursa Major," Strider said, staring in disbelief at the creature. "Then Ponyville's in for a massive problem."
Strider looked over at the DC-15S that was resting next to him. That wasn't going to be enough to take that beast down. But he did have something that could.
Strider leaped from the bay and over to the cargo hold. He opened the hatch and grabbed the Z-6, pulling it out into the moonlight. This thing was going to see some action after all.
Not wasting anymore time, Strider rushed as fast as he could with the heavy chain gun towards the town.
The Ursa Major didn't take to long in terrorizing the town. It has torn away at a roof of a house while growling at the ponies rushing to safety. It stepped on Trixie's wagon, crushing it into pieces.
Several screaming ponies rushed past Strider as he walked towards the Ursa Major, Z-6 primed. A few ponies spotted him and stopped running, looking at him in confusion.
"HEY! STAR FACE!" Strider shouted, trying to get the attention of the Ursa Major, which turned its head to face him.
The Ursa Major roared at Strider, staring down at the trooper. Finally, Strider thought it was close enough.
"TASTE LASER!" Strider barked, activating the Z-6.
The chamber in the blaster spun around and around, spitting out blue plasma bolts right into the Ursa Major's face. It roared in pain as the bolts made contact. It reached over to a house and pulled the roof off, using it to cover his face from the wave of fire.
Strider spotted a puff of steam emitting from the barrel so he halted the wave of plasma bolts and looked up at the Ursa Major. It growled at him, before chucking the roof it had used as a shield at him. The Trooper dove out of the way and shot another wave of bolts at the Ursa Major.
The Ursa Major roared and picked up an empty wooden cart, then chucked it at Strider. He dodged the cart just by a foot, but a pony behind him wasn't as lucky. The yellow furred mare behind him got scraped in the side by a piece of the cart as it flew past her and into a house.
Strider saw this and quickly realized that he needed to get this thing out of town. He shot one more wave of bolts at the Ursa Major, before running away from it towards the outskirts of town.
Just as Strider thought, the Ursa Major chased him down. The two soon ended up in the less populated outskirts of town. Strider turned to fire another round, but the Ursa Major was closer then he thought. It swiped the Z-6 away from him and pounced.
Strider quickly felt pain shoot through his rib cage as the Ursa Major's paw landed on him and slammed him into the ground. Strider looked up at the Ursa Major, whose orange eyes were glaring down at his helmet. It snarled at him, showing a set of fangs that glistened in the moonlight.
The Trooper shut his eyes, waiting for the Ursa Major to finish him, however, after a few seconds of silence, he opened his eyes again just in time to see an apple collide with the Ursa Major's head.
Strider looked over to the right and saw a filly with a pink bow looking at them. It was Apple Bloom, who was standing in front of a pile of wood that had the Z-6 resting on it.
Apple Bloom said something that Strider couldn't hear, before activating the Z-6 which unloaded on the Ursa Major.
The Ursa Major got off of Strider and shielded its face with a paw. Strider stared slack jawed at Apple Bloom, who continued to keep the Z-6 activated.
The Ursa Major roared and took off towards Apple Bloom who had stopped firing. However, Twilight Sparkle had appeared next to the filly and had her horn ignited.
Suddenly, a soothing breeze filled the air, causing the Ursa Major to freeze in its tracks. It listened to the calming tune, before wobbling in place as it became drowsy.
Seeing this as a window, Strider got up from where he had been pinned and rushed over to the two ponies positions. He looked back at the Ursa Major right as Twilight levitated what looked like a water tower over to the beast. The Ursa Major grabbed it and began drinking from it.
Strider looked over at Twilight whose horn was sparking and glowing brightly. The unicorn was visibly struggling to keep her magic going, but she persisted.
The Ursa Major was lifted into the air and hovered back to the Everfree forest. Once it was deep within the forest, Twilight let go of her hold on it and wiped some sweat from her brow.
Twilight's friends and several ponies cheered for her while Strider looked over at Apple Bloom.
"That was a very clumsy move Apple Bloom. If Twilight hadn't been there then you would have been in a worse position then me." Strider exclaimed.
Apple Bloom's smile faded and she looked down at the ground.
"Just think about the enemy before you start an attack. You've got gut's Apple Bloom, and your very brave. Thank you for helping me out." Strider said, his smile hidden under his helmet.
Apple Bloom looked up at Strider, her smile returning. However, it once again faded when she spotted a certain orange pony walking towards her. But instead of it turning into a sorry expression, it was replaced with nervousness and worry.
Strider looked behind himself to see Applejack trotting towards Apple Bloom, a frown on her face. Something told him that Applejack was going to have a discussion with the filly.
Not wanting to interfere with family matters, he stepped aside and went over to Twilight.
"Nice job taking care of that Ursa Major." Strider stated.
"Oh, that wasn't an Ursa Major. It was an Ursa Minor, a baby." Twilight corrected.
"That massive star bear, was a baby?" Strider questioned, not sure how to process the statement.
"Yeah, that was just a baby who was upset because Snips and Snails disturbed it so Trixie could vanquish it." Twilight exclaimed. "Speaking of which, where did Trixie go?"
Strider looked around, not seeing any trace of the light blue unicorn. Well, if she showed up, she would still owe Strider a rope.
Strider picked up the Z-6 and began walking away towards the Gunship, but Twilight stopped him.
"Could I take a look at that? This device is nothing like i've ever seen!" Twilight claimed, staring at the Z-6.
"Sorry Miss Sparkle, but this baby is sticking with me." Strider stated, before leaving the unicorn with her friends as he went back to the Gunship.
"COVER FIRE!" Strider shouted as he unloaded a round of plasma bolts at the advancing droids.
Matt quickly switched targets, firing at the approaching droid force. "Where did they all come from!?"
Cosmo, who was currently reloading his DC-15S was the only one to answer. "Droid transportation pods, caught us off guard just like that Separatist cruiser!"
Rust dodged a red bolt and fired at a closing in Super Battle Droid, blasting it to the ground. "Doesn't matter where they came from, keep them at bay!"
"Easier said than done!" Trigger stated as he spotted another set of Super Battle Droids approach their position.
The group of clones were currently fending off an army of Super Battle Droids in the main hanger. Most of the other clones had set up other spots to hold the line, but only a few were still in the hanger. One clone who firing next to Strider got up from their cover and unloaded the full magazine of their DC-15S.
A Super Battle Droid quickly ended the clone's assault, shooting the clone square in the chest. Strider quickly shot down the Super Battle Droid with his DC-15A, but another replaced it instantly.
The Super Battle Droids were almost at the clones cover, forcing them to fall back.
"Take cover by those crates!" Rust ordered, diving behind a crate.
Strider abandoned his position and rushed over to a crate. He took cover behind in and began firing again. However, when he looked over the crate, he spotted Cosmo get shot in the back. The trooper fell to the ground instantly, his DC-15S tumbling out of his hand.
"COSMO!" Strider shouted, but the trooper didn't move.
Strider quickly resumed firing at the approaching Super Battle Droids. But he already knew deep in his mind that this fight was already lost. But he also knew that his brothers and himself would not go down without a fight.
With determination flowing through his veins, Strider shot into the group of Super Battle Droids, taking as many as he could to the scrap yard.
Strider's eyes shot open as the memory flooded through his mind. He could still distantly hear his brothers fighting when he got up from where he had been laying in the Gunship and stepped out into the sunlight.
"Blasted clankers, I hope the rest of the crew was able to get off the---" Strider trailed off as he spotted a thick black wave of smoke float through the sky, encasing any clouds it touched into darkness.
"What in the world is making that." Strider muttered under his breath as he looked at the thick smoke.
The Trooper went over to a crate and fished out a pair of Macro Binoculars. He flipped them on and looked up at the smoke trail. He followed the trail to what seemed to be the source, the source being a cave on top of a really high mountain.
Strider lowered the Macro Binoculars, looking at the mountain normally now. It was much taller than the mountains surrounding it, almost breaking cloud level.
"Strange, wonder what's up there." Strider said to himself, staring at the mountain.
The Trooper turned around and walked over towards Fluttershy's cottage, only to see Fluttershy wearing several inflated objects, a blue helmet, and what looked like a red vest. She was also slightly trembling in place.
Strider went over to the shaky pegasus, confused as to what she was wearing and why she was wearing it.
"Uh, Fluttershy? What is all that?" Strider asked, looking at the makeshift suit.
"I-It's armor for the journey t-to the m-mountain." Fluttershy claimed.
Strider had to take a few seconds to register what the mare had just said. Once he had, it still rocked his brain.
"Armor, that's supposed to be armor?" Strider questioned.
Fluttershy nodded, looking at her makeshift armor.
"That's not gonna protect you from a pebble. If anything, it's just gonna slow you down." Strider stated.
"O-Oh," Fluttershy mumbled.
"Also, why are you gonna go up to that mountain?" Strider asked.
"W-Well T-Twilight wants us t-to g-go a-and," Strider put a finger over her muzzle, silencing her.
"Twilight wants to figure out whats causing that smoke?" He finished.
"Well then, that armor ain't gonna do anything but make it harder to climb." Strider exclaimed.
Fluttershy said something that might have been an ok, but Strider couldn't hear it due to her basically whispering it. Then, she went back into the cottage. After a few minutes, Fluttershy came out with the 'armor' removed. However, her testimony had caused Strider to start wondering.
Strider was curious about what was causing that smoke, and if Fluttershy was going to go, then he might as well. Not to mention the fact that Fluttershy seemed to be scared stiff about going.
"Tell you what, i'll come with you up the mountain." Strider stated.
"N-No, you h-have y-your ship to w-work on. I shouldn't take away your time." Fluttershy exclaimed.
"The ship isn't going anywhere, besides, i'm interested in what's causing that smoke." Strider insisted.
"O-Oh, the smoke i-is b-being caused by a-a, d-dragon." Fluttershy stammered.
Strider's eyes widened at that statement. He could place bets that the dragon up in that mountain wasn't anything like Spike. He had heard stories about Krayt Dragon from a few of his brothers, but he hadn't seen one in the flesh, or scales.
"W-Well, if you want to." Fluttershy said quietly.
"I just need to grab some supplies for dragon hunting." Strider said bluntly.
Fluttershy's eyes widened at the word hunting. "N-No! Even if it is a d-dragon, it s-shouldn't be hurt because of something it naturally does." She insisted.
Strider wanted to argue, but instead just sighed under his helmet. He had forgotten for a second the fact that this planet has almost zero violence that he knows of.
"I'm at least bringing a DC-15S." Strider muttered.
Strider and Fluttershy walked through town towards the tree library, also known as the Golden Oaks Library apparently. The two quickly spotted the rest of the group standing out in the front of the library with saddlebags on. Well, except Rainbow Dash. It didn't take long before the group gave confused looks at Strider.
"Strider, what are you doing here?" Twilight asked.
"I've been told that a Dragon is the cause of all that smoke. I'd like to follow you up there and make sure that you don't end up getting burned up by that--" Strider cut himself off as he noticed Fluttershy trembling rapidly. "and i'll shut up about that."
Twilight looked over to her friends, who returned her confused gaze, then back to Strider.
"Ok, you can follow if you want." Twilight proclaimed.
Strider soon found himself once again marching with the six ponies. After a few short minutes of walking, the group found themselves at the base of the mountain.
A very steep mountain.
"Uh, how are we supposed to get to the top?" Strider questioned, looking at how steep the mountain was.
"We climb." Twilight stated bluntly.
"The surface of the mountain is way to smooth and steep to---" Strider trailed off as he watched Applejack climb up a little effortlessly.
Applejack was then followed by Pinkie Pie, then Rarity, then Twilight.
"climb..." Strider finished, before mentally slapping himself in the face.
These creatures were ponies. Ponies have hooves. Hooves can go up steeper slopes and inclines then human feet. Strider was about to fire a cable for him to climb up with, but remembered that the cable attachment was to the DC-15A that had been broken in half.
Strider looked around the surface of the area for any nooks or crannies for him to climb on. He spotted a chunk of rock sticking out and grabbed it. He used the rock to pull himself up and to a crack, which he used to pull himself up again.
For the ponies next to him, this would be a piece of cake, but for Strider, it was like back on Kamino at the training wall. The only difference was that there were no practice droids shooting at him. But he had taken on worse, so he soon ended up side by side with the group once again.
However, when he went to reach for another ledge, he quickly ran into a problem. The DC-15S he was carrying was badly restricting his climbing. He looked over to see Rainbow Dash, who was using her wings to fly while her empty hooves were crossed.
"Rainbow Dash, think you can hold this until we get to a path?" Strider asked, extending his hand with the blaster out towards the pegasus.
Rainbow Dash eyed the blaster similar to how Angel Bunny had the first time they saw it, before grinning.
"Sure." Rainbow said, taking the blaster.
Rainbow Dash didn't see it, but under Strider's helmet, he was grinning to. Did she really think that he would give her a DC-15S that could shoot? That's what the safety switch is for. Strider also didn't have to guess that the pegasus didn't know about the switch, so that blaster wasn't shooting a single bolt until it was back in his hands.
However, before the group could start climbing higher, Twilight took notice of an absent Fluttershy. The group looked down to see the pegasus hiding in a bush at the base of the mountain.
"Fluttershy? Come on, we have to get moving!" Twilight exclaimed.
"I-I know, b-but that cliff is so, steep." Fluttershy stated.
Rainbow Dash sighed. "It's a cliff, it's supposed to be steep. Just use your wings."
"O-Ok." Fluttershy mumbled, stepping out of the bush.
Fluttershy outstretched her wings and tried to fly up, but a loud snore from the dragon above, caused her to freeze up. Her wings folded in on themselves, causing Fluttershy to fall back into the bush.
"You alright?" Strider questioned, letting himself slide down the mountain and landed back on the ground.
Fluttershy poked her head out from the bush and took a look around, before ducking back into the bush as the dragon snored again.
"Fluttershy?" Strider called out, leaning over the bush.
The pegasus was nowhere to be seen from where he was looking in the bush.
Strider put a hand on his helmet, thinking to himself. An idea quickly popped into his head and he leaned down next to the bush.
"I've got an idea, you can just ride on my back until we find a path on the mountain." Strider exclaimed.
Fluttershy poked her head out of the bush again, looking right at Strider's helmet.
"Y-You would do that?" Fluttershy asked.
Strider nodded. With that, she got out of the bush and looked up at the mountain. As gently as she could, Fluttershy got onto Strider's back, wrapping her forehooves around Strider's neck.
Just as Strider assumed, Fluttershy didn't weigh as much as he thought. He could still climb, but it wouldn't be as easy as before.
The Trooper went back to the side of the cliff and began climbing once again.
When he had begun climbing, Fluttershy seemed to weigh the same as one of the backpacks that troopers sometimes wore. He hadn't noticed that Fluttershy had been using her wings slightly to make his job easier.
But the Dragon above decided to snore again, startling Fluttershy so badly that her wings had locked up again, nearly pulling Strider off the cliff from the sudden weight increase.
Now, Strider felt like he had the Z-6 strapped on his back. Still not bad, but he couldn't do this forever.
After a solid 10 minutes of climbing, Strider finally reached what felt like a path in the cliff. He pulled himself up onto the path, before falling to the ground from exhaustion.
Fluttershy instantly got off of Strider's back and looked down at him.
"S-Sorry." She mumbled.
Strider held up a finger, signalling that he was ok. Once he had done that, Rainbow Dash couldn't help herself but laugh. Strider remained silent, but stuck up another finger towards Rainbow Dash. He had seen a Jedi do this to some of his brothers, and due to Matt's information gathering, he figure out what it meant. But Rainbow Dash didn't know that.
It took a few seconds before Strider got back up to his feet and stretched his back.
"Rainbow Dash, give me the blaster back." Strider instructed.
Rainbow Dash dropped the blaster carelessly, finding out half way up the climb that it was broken. Strider caught the DC-15S and switched off the safety. He then pointed it out at the sky, and pulled the trigger.
A blue bolt shot from the chamber and through the air, giving Strider the satisfaction of knowing that Rainbow Dash hadn't broke it. That, and the fact that he wanted to see her face after seeing the blaster work perfectly.
When he turned to face the pegasus, he was greeted with exactly that, followed by a chuckle under his breath. Strider walked away from the pegasus and took a look out at the horizon. The amount of mountain they had climbed wasn't enough to look over a few tall trees, but it still gave sight across the forest and a little beyond.
"Probably a better view from the cave. No wonder that dragon set up camp here." Strider claimed, looking out across the tree tops.
Twilight rolled up the map she was holding in her magic and put it back in her saddlebag. She turned around to face the group, before clearing her throat.
"I've mapped out a quick path up to the top. Let's get a move on, every second waiting is another puff of smoke from that cave." Twilight exclaimed.
"Finally!" Rainbow Dash said in an annoyed tone.
The group started down the path quickly, Twilight at the front with the map ready to use, while Strider took up the rear, DC-15S charged.
After a solid ten minutes of walking, and helping Fluttershy get over a disproportionately small gap between cliff sides. A conversation eventually broke out between the group and the trooper.
"Ya really caught the attention of mah sister," Applejack stated suddenly.
The memory of Applejack glaring at Apple Bloom after she had used the Z-6 flashed into Strider's mind.
"I guess so." Strider answered.
"She, doesn't have that many friends at school. She has also been targeted for bullying due ta her not hav'n her cutie mark." Applejack exclaimed.
"Cutie Mark?" Strider asked out loud.
"The image on our flanks, it shows our special talents. Some fillies and colts tease others because they don't have their cutie marks." Applejack explained.
Now that Strider thought about it, it did sort of make sense. Fluttershy's cutie mark was three butterflies, showing her skill will taking care of animals. Applejack's was of three apples and Fluttershy had told him that she was a farmer on an apple orchard.
"But then, one night at the dinner table, she seemed much happier than before. Next thing mah family knew, she described your armor and your conversation. Ta say she was happy about your statement would be an understatement." Applejack said.
Strider couldn't help but smile as he pictured the filly smiling at their dinner table while describing her little adventure.
"But, I do have ta ask ya somth'n," Applejack stated, her tone changing. "If she ends up hurt because of you, or lost somewhere all alone,"
Strider's smile vanished as the pony turned to face him dead in the eye. "Y'all will have a VERY bad time." She finished.
Now, Strider wasn't planning on ending up in a dangerous situation with Apple Bloom. but he knew that if it somehow ended up happening, and Apple Bloom got injured or lost, then he would most likely end up dead where he was standing.
"I understand Applejack, and I don't exactly plan on that happening." Strider claimed.
Applejack's blank expression turned into relief, before she turned away from the trooper and continued to look ahead at the trail.
Strider couldn't help but shutter under his armor, Applejack's glare burned into his mind. That was a glare that he wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon. But still, Strider knew that if he was really in danger from these ponies, he had the upper hand in combat and weaponry.
Still, he highly doubted that it would come to that.
After another ten minutes of walking, the group had made their way further up the mountain and were now walking alongside a very steep slope next to the path. Twilight stopped and turned to face the group.
"Alright everypony plus Strider, we're entering an avalanche zone. The slightest of loud noises could cause a rock slide to fall right down onto us, so keep quiet." Twilight instructed.
The group followed the unicorn's instructions, not saying a word as the made their way down the path. Every second of silence dragged on, giving a feeling of unease at all times.
Rainbow Dash hovered under a low hanging branch from a tree as she flew past it. However, she didn't notice her tail touch part of the branch, freeing a leaf which floated towards the ground.
That one leaf landed silently on Fluttershy's back, causing her to scream out in surprise. "AVALAN-" She was cut off as Strider and Applejack both covered up the pegasi's mouth.
However, the damage had already been done. Fluttershy's yelp echoed throughout the cliff, causing a rock slide to trigger. Several massive boulders flew down the cliff side towards the path, and the group of ponies and Strider who were standing on it.
"RUN!" Strider shouted before taking off running down the path.
The rest of the group followed the trooper, dodging falling rocks as they landing in front of them. A few massive rocks caused Applejack to stop abruptly, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the boulder.
Strider glanced over his shoulder, but even that small glance had caused him to spot a massive boulder falling right towards a frozen in fear Fluttershy.
Strider stopped mid run, aiming the DC-15S at the boulder, and pulled the trigger. A blue bolt shot from the chamber and flew through the air, however it stuck another falling rock. Strider's eyes widened as the boulder got closer to Fluttershy. He pulled the trigger again, sending a few more blue bolts flying towards the boulder.
The first bolt struck another falling rock, the second hit the boulder he was targeting, but only cracked it. The third one however, struck the crack, breaking the boulder into small pieces.
Strider sighed with relief, temporarily forgetting his surroundings. While he stood their, another boulder rolled down the cliff side right towards him.
At the last second, Strider snapped out of his thoughts as Applejack tackled him out of the way. He watched as the boulder shot right through the area he had been standing.
"THAT, was close." Strider muttered, realizing how close he was to being a clone pancake.
"Ya don't say." Applejack agreed, getting to her hooves.
Strider did the same, except without hooves. He looked around area which was now filled with rocks and stones everywhere, as well as a mountain of rocks and dirt that now blocked the path.
The Trooper stared at the new road block for a few seconds, before his mind finally processed the situation.
"That's gonna be a problem." Strider stated, looking up at the hill of rock and dirt.
Twilight went over to Strider, glancing at the hill. "Not really, we just need to, climb." She muttered, the last word dragging a little.
Strider slowly made his way down the other side of the dirt hill, his white armor now coated with dust and dirt. Once he had made it back on the path, he dusted off some of his armor and checked the DC-15S for any damage. When he was sure the blaster was still in working order, he wiped off some dirt on it and grinned.
That grin however of knowing the weapon was still in very good condition faded once he was knocked to the ground as a group of ponies slammed into the bottom of his legs.
Strider stumbled, barely stopping himself from falling. He looked over at the group of ponies that had landed at the base of the hill. Rarity and Applejack on all four hooves while Fluttershy sat on top of them, looking down at the ground.
Strider went over to the three ponies and helped them to their hooves. When they were all back on their hooves, they went over towards Twilight and Rainbow Dash, who were looking at a cave.
The cave's ceiling was covered with smoke as it drifted through it and out into the sky. Twilight Sparkle trotted in front of the group, her expression focused and determined.
"Alright everypony, we're here. Rainbow Dash, I want you to clear out the smoke with your wings." The Unicorn instructed, watching Rainbow Dash take off into the sky before turning to face Rarity and Pinkie Pie.
"Rarity and Pinkie Pie, I need you to create a distraction encase things go badly." Twilight stated. Pinkie Pie quickly grabbed a rubber chicken out of her saddlebags and began waving it around for an example.
Twilight held back her confusion and turned to face Applejack and Strider. "Applejack and Strider, I need you two to be ready to throw apples and, whatever that machine does if the Dragon attacks."
Applejack grabbed a pair of apples from her saddlebags and bucked them into a nearby tree with enough force to cause the fruits to shatter on impact. Strider just saluted, questioning why he was following Twilight's orders. It was probably because he didn't exactly have a plan himself.
"But it shouldn't come to that, because Fluttershy will do what she needs to do to wake the Dragon up. With me following, both of us should be able to convince him to find another spot. Now, let's go." Twilight declared, walking into the cave.
Strider stool there for a few seconds, before spotting the unicorn coming out of the cave, a confused look across her face. The trooper then looked over to see that Fluttershy hadn't moved an inch since Twilight finished. Not only that, but she had stuck her head into the dirt completely.
"How the heck can she even breath?" Strider questioned, before kneeling down and removing Fluttershy's head from the dirt.
The others just shrugged, but Twilight's patience was wearing thin. "Come on Fluttershy, we need to go, now!"
Twilight tried to push Fluttershy towards the cave, but the pegasus remained sitting on the dirt, not budging. Next thing Strider knew, the rest of the ponies joined Twilight in pushing, but Fluttershy was only pushed a few inches before she anchored her hooves into the dirt, causing her to stop moving again.
"I-I can't." Fluttershy stuttered, looking at the ground.
"Why?" The group of ponies asked in unison.
"I'm, afraid of Dragons." She stated in a sorry tone.
Strider was about to question why, but quickly remembered that not only was Fluttershy a civilian, but a shy one to be exact. This isn't a place for her. He should have said that before the group began the trip.
"Alright everyone, back it up, give her some room." Strider exclaimed, walking over to Fluttershy.
The group did what Strider asked them, backing up a few feet. Strider knelt down next to Fluttershy, setting the DC-15S to the side. Fluttershy looked up at Strider, but quickly back to the ground.
Strider looked over at the other ponies, before sighing. Doesn't matter if they saw his face or not. He was a clone after all. So he put his hands over his helmet, and removed it, exposing his face to the others. They quickly began muttering to themselves, but Strider tuned them out. Instead, he looked right into Fluttershy's eyes.
"Fluttershy, i've been through a few things, things that sometimes got my bones rattled. But I had to face them to complete the mission, for the Republic, and for my brothers. You can't shy away from something forever, especially when someone you care about needs you." Strider said.
Fluttershy looked up at the trooper for a few seconds, before shying back to the ground. "I-I- I just, can't."
Strider sighed, before putting his hand on the top of her head. "Alright then," Strider said, before standing back up. "Sorry, but you'll have to finish the mission without her."
Twilight was about to protest, but glanced over at Fluttershy, before nodding.
"Ok then, everypony back to your positions." Twilight instructed.
Strider put his helmet back on and picked up the DC-15S. "You can take shelter behind that rock if you want." He exclaimed.
Fluttershy nodded, before trotting behind a massive rock silently. Strider watched Fluttershy until she was hidden from sight, before walking over towards the cave and taking cover right outside the entrance.
Twilight went back into the cave, the other's watching her until she faded once again into the darkness of the cave. Strider made sure the DC-15S was primed, before aiming down the cave into the darkness.
A few minutes passed with nothing different happening, until Twilight emerged from the cave, followed by a wave of smoke.
Strider waved some smoke away from his face with a hand, before looking back into the cave.
"I guess it's my turn." Rarity stated, walking into the cave.
She lasted shorter than Twilight, quickly being pushed out by another wave of smoke.
Strider was about to say something, but spotted Pinkie Pie who was now wearing some sort of party suit smile and walk into the cave.
Yeah, Strider expected her to last the shortest. She came out of the cave with all the balloons she was holding popped and one of the flippers she was wearing was missing.
"ALRIGHT, ENOUGH MISTER NICE PONY!" Rainbow Dash declared, taking off into the cave.
"Uh oh," Everypony else muttered, while Strider quickly aimed into the darkness.
Then, out of nowhere, Rainbow Dash was rolled like a bowling ball right into the group of ponies, knocking them against a rock.
That was Strider's cue. The Trooper abandoned his cover and aimed into the darkness, ready to take a shot. However, instead of the cave, he saw a red and yellow scaled Dragon looming above him.
"Oh son of a-" Strider couldn't finish as the Dragon smacked his tail against the Trooper, sending him flying into the same rock the other ponies had hit.
Strider's impact was so fast, that the entire top bit of the rock broke off with him, causing a chunk of the rock to fly over the edge. Strider was about to join it before he spotted a ledge and reached for it. His hands met the ledge, stopping him from suffering the same fate as the rock and the now falling DC-15S.
Strider looked down at the weapon and rock as they fell towards the forest below. Well there goes that blaster.
"Uh girls? Someone? Anyone?" Strider called out, noticing that the ledge was beginning to crumble away.
Right before the ledge gave way completely, a yellow hoof extended out towards Strider. The Trooper grabbed the hoof with a hand, using the other to help himself climb up.
Once Strider was back on the cliff, he let out a deep breath. That was way to close. He looked over at Fluttershy, who smiled warmly to him. Then, the mare turned around, her smile vanishing instantly. She flew away from Strider and right in front of the Dragon.
"NOW LISTEN HERE MISTER," Fluttershy shouted, landing right on the dragon's face. "Just because your big doesn't mean you get to be a bully!
Strider, along with the other ponies stared, slack jawed as Fluttershy stared down the dragon, still shouting.
"Just because you have big teeth and sharp scales and snore smoke and breath fire, but you do not, I repeat do NOT HURT MY FRIENDS!" Fluttershy proclaimed. "You got that?"
The Dragon lowered his head away from Fluttershy, looking up at her weakly. "But that rainbow one kicked me." He stated.
"And i'm very sorry about that, but your bigger than she is and you should know better." Fluttershy exclaimed.
Next thing Strider knew, he was watching Fluttershy SCOLD the Dragon. Fluttershy even managed to get the Dragon to cry a little. After the talk was done, Fluttershy patted the Dragon on the head, before flying down to the ground.
The others quickly recovered from their shock and went over to congratulate and cheer Fluttershy, but Strider was still frozen in place. How, just... how? Strider was expecting them to try and talk with the Dragon, but one single pony managed to not only make the Dragon leave, but caused it to tear up and feel bad.
After awhile, the others noticed Strider's lack of movement and went over to the Trooper. Rainbow Dash waved a hoof in front of Strider but no reaction triggered.
"Strider? Hello?" Twilight asked, wondering if this was normal for his species or not.
Finally, Strider snapped out of it and looked down at the ponies. "Let's...just get back." He said.
With those words in mind, the group began their journey back down the mountain. They spotted the Dragon taking off into the sky which had begun to clear up, the sunlight breaking through once again.
This was diffidently the strangest planets he has been on, but it was also one of the best.
Strider twisted a screwdriver a few times to the left, tightening a loose bolt. Once it was secure, Strider put the screwdriver down and looked at the repairs he had made to the wing. So far, he had managed to fill a hole that had been made by a broken tree. He also managed to straighten out most of the bent areas and even managed to make new parts that consisted of wood, spare metal, and lots of glue.
"Getting better and better by the day aren't you." Strider said, tapping the wing.
However, the part of the wing he had tapped instantly broke off the wing and to the ground. Strider sighed and picked up the broken part of the wing and examined it. One of the sides of the part had been bent and due to his tap, it broke off from the rest of the wing.
"Sort of...why did I have to end up working with a hunk of junk." Strider grumbled. He was sure that this Gunship must have been the weakest one ever made.
Strider put the broken part on the ground of the transportation bay and reached for a tool box, but a beeping noise quickly caught his attention.
The Trooper quickly stopped what he was doing and rushed out of the Gunship and towards the cockpit. He climbed up the makeshift ladder he had made and sat down in the pilot's seat. He looked at the monitor in front of his face which was beeping loudly. Strider pressed a few buttons and flipped a few switches until the monitor flicked to a green radar.
Strider watched the green needle rotate around the radar until it went over a blue dot which flashed into view for a few seconds. A blue dot meant a distress signal on this style of radar. That meant that either another Gunship had crashed on this planet, or it was an escape pod from the Venator.
"YES! Someone else escaped from the Venator!" Strider cheered, pressing a few more switches to pinpoint the location.
Strider's cheers quickly died down when he realized that the distress call was coming from the Everfree Forest. If the survivors didn't have weapons then then they wouldn't last the night in that forest! He needed to find them and get them out of the forest.
Strider took a holoprojector from his utility belt and downloaded a path to the signal into it. Once it was done, Strider quickly shut off the radar and climbed down from the cockpit.
The second he reached the ground, he rushed over to the transportation bay and grabbed his replacement DC-15S. However, Strider realized that if a crew member was wounded, it might take to long to exit the forest before night fell. And he knew one blaster wouldn't be enough to tackle the forest.
Strider opened up the cargo hold and grabbed a crate. He pulled it out and onto the ground before popping the lid off and examining the content inside. A few other DC-15S's rested against the side of the crate, but deep down, a few thermal detonators rested deactivated.
Strider picked up a few thermal detonators and put them in his utility belt, along with a few spare power packs. He shut the crate back up and put it away in the cargo hold. Strider turned towards the forest and was about to take off, but a voice from behind him caused him to halt.
"Strider? Where are you going?" Fluttershy asked.
Strider turned around to face the pegasus, lowering the DC-15S. "I'm going into the Everfree Forest. The Gunship picked up a distress signal from it and it could be coming from an escape pod that escaped the Republic Cruiser that caused me to end up here." He stated.
"Y-Your going to go into the E-Everfree Forest alone?" She questioned, fear seeping through her words.
"I'm a soldier, I can handle the punishment. But the crashed ship or pod has zero idea about the forest." Strider exclaimed.
"But you don't know much about the forest either! What if you get attacked and hurt!?" Fluttershy said.
"I don't have choice. The Gunship still isn't flyable and I can't leave a possibly injured crew in that death trap after dark!" Strider stated.
The Trooper turned away from Fluttershy and was about to run off but Fluttershy flew in front of him, causing him to stop.
"I-I know what i-it's like to w-want to help someone or somepony, b-but the Everfree Forest isn't s-something even you can h-handle alone." Fluttershy claimed.
"I can handle it, now I have a crew to find!" Strider stated, taking off running towards the forest.
Strider ignored Fluttershy's pleadings and focused on the mission at hand. He grabbed the holoprojector from his utility belt and activated it, causing a blue holographic map to appear above it. Once he was sure he knew a route, Strider deactivated the device and put it away, grabbing hold of the DC-15S with both hands.
It didn't take long before Strider reached the entrance of the forest which was surrounded by thick trees and bushes. Strider ignored the dread that came with the looming forest and charged down the path towards the signal.
Strider glanced up at the sun which was resting in between the horizon and the middle of the sky. Night was already beginning to creep up.
Images of that wooden wolf with the pilot's helmet in its mouth flashed into Strider's mind, nearly causing him to hesitate. However, knowing that his brothers and other crew members could need his help pushed back his fear and fueled his determination.
As the Trooper ran through the forest, several lime green eyes locked onto his white armor from the underbrush. Those lime green eyes then had several sets of red eyes next to them. Then purple eyes. The whole underbrush appeared like a massive wall of eyes, each one locked onto Strider as the Trooper rushed past them.
Strider ran through the forest as fast as he could, only slowing down to check the holoprojector to see if he was still on the right trail. After a few minutes of running, the trail on the holoprojector soon left the physical trail in the forest, causing Strider to leave the dirt trail and rush through the underbrush.
Strider weaved through a patch of bushes and between trees, still keeping his speed up. The Trooper didn't slow down until he had arrived at the location of the distress signal.
Strider peaked between two trees at a small clearing where an object rested in the middle. Just as Strider had thought, it was an escape pod from the Venator. Without any second thoughts, Strider rushed out into the clearing and over to the pod.
The escape pod had a few broken branches smashed below it as well as a dirt trail from the crash. The back four thrusters had faint puffs of smoke leaking out into the air. The hatch located between the thrusters wasn't open, which meant either no one was inside, or someone had shut the door, or several other options.
Strider didn't want to waste more time pondering the options and approached the pod. He grabbed hold of the hatch and pulled at it. The first few tugs didn't budge it, but with a few branches and one plasma bolt to the side of the hatch caused it to open up.
The hatch creaked as it moved, rubbing against broken pieces of metal. The interior was quickly showered with light from the sun, giving Strider a clear view at the horrific seen inside.
There were three clone trooper bodies sprawled around the pod, most likely died on impact. Several shards of metal stuck out from the walls as well as a few wires which sparked with energy.
"Dang it. At least they died instantly, hopefully." Strider muttered, backing out of the pod.
As Strider shut the hatch, he noticed a set of boot tracks in the dirt. Strider quickly turned around, following the tracks by eye sight until they reached the underbrush.
Someone had survived.
Strider followed the tracks away from the clearing and back into the underbrush. However, after a few minutes of walking, the tracks suddenly faded.
"Where did they go?" Strider wondered out loud.
Right on cue, his com link flashed green, signalling a transition. Strider quickly pressed a button on the com link and listened for something on the other side.
"IS ANYONE OUT THERE!? I NEED HELP!" A Clone Trooper's voice frantically stammered through the com link.
"Yes! This is clone trooper Strider, who is this?" Strider questioned.
"Strider?" The Trooper said to himself.
Even though the Trooper was a clone, Strider instantly recognised it as Rust, the leader of his squadron.
"Rust! What's location?!" Strider asked.
"I don't know! Everything looks the same! I'm also being chased by some sort of wolf! My DC-15S is running low on power and I can't shake it!" Rust frantically exclaimed.
Strider rubbed his helmet in thought, trying to figure out how to get his brother over to him. He looked down at his DC-15S, before an idea formed in his head.
"Rust, follow the flare!" Strider instructed, aiming up at the sky.
With a quick lever switch on the blaster, Strider pulled the trigger, sending a red ball of light shooting through the sky.
"I see it! Get ready to fire on this wolf!" Rust stated.
Strider switched the DC-15S back to plasma bolt and aimed up. It didn't take long before the sound of footsteps filled his ears. Then, a white shape emerged from the shadows.
"OVER HERE!" Strider shouted, waving a hand.
Rust quickly altered his course, running towards him at fast as he could. Strider could spot the wolf right on his tail. He aimed the DC-15S towards the wolf and got ready to shoot.
The second Rust ran past Strider, the Trooper pulled the trigger, sending a blue bolt hurtling towards the wolf. The bolt made contact with the wolf's front claw, shattering it to pieces. The wolf fell to the ground with a thud, before getting back up and re-attached its claw.
"Rust! We need to get out of the forest right now before-" Strider cut himself off as he heard the sound of blaster fire behind him.
Strider turned around to see Rust firing at what looked like a lizard and a chicken hybrid. Rust was mid trigger pull before he started to turn to stone.
"Rust!" Strider called out, rushing towards his brother.
The Trooper quickly realized what was happening to himself and tried to break free. Strider open fired at the lizard chicken hybrid, causing it to flee into the forest. However, when Strider looked back at Rust, the clone had been turned to stone completely.
Strider rushed over to his brother's side before trying to break him free. But the Trooper remained frozen in stone, not showing any sign of life.
"Rust?" Strider asked, looking at his leader's visor. Rust didn't respond.
A growl from the wooden wolf caused Strider to look away from Rust. But that wasn't the only thing that the wolf had done. It had just sighed its death certificate.
Strider aimed the DC-15S right between the wolf's eyes and fired. The bolt struck the head, causing some of the wood to break. Strider kept firing, unloading a full power pack into the wolf.
Once the DC-15S had finished the power pack as well as let out a bit of smoke from the barrel, Strider lowered it. The wolf was on the ground, completely shattered into thousands of wooden chips. It barely resembled anything that was once living.
Even with that, Strider wasn't taking chances. He grabbed a thermal detonator from his utility belt and activated it. He chucked it into the wooden pile and watched as it exploded. All the wood was flung everywhere, into bushes, against trees, and into the ground.
Whatever that wolf was, it was definitely dead.
Strider went back over to Rust's side and tried again to get the life back into him. But Rust remained a statue, not moving even an inch.
Strider took off his helmet, staring at Rust's helmet with sorrow, raising his hand up in a salute.
"You were a great leader Rust, i'll take twice as many clankers to the ground with me for you." Strider claimed.
He finished his salute before putting his helmet back on his head. He replaced the DC-15S's power pack and primed it. He had a lot of ground to cover to get back before dark.
As he began walking, a few rain drops fell onto his visor, splotching it up. Strider wiped the water away before continuing to walk back towards the direction of Ponyville.
Strider's helmet shielded his face from any creature, therefor hiding a bit of water that had developed under his right eye. It was diffidently not rain...
The rain was falling fast, causing Strider to constantly wipe away the water from his helmet visor so he could see. Luckily for him, he emerged from the forest right outside Fluttershy's cottage and the Gunship.
Strider rushed towards the Gunship and hopped into the Transportation bay, before attempting to shut the door. However, the button that shut the door let out a crunching noise, before getting stuck.
With a sigh, Strider sat down in the transportation bay with the rain still flying into it. His armor was already soaked, so it didn't really matter.
Strider turned on the DC-15S's safety before putting it down next to him. Strider leaned back against the wall of the Gunship and began to get lost in thought.
Strider soon began to put information together which formed a terrible conclusion. If Rust and those other troopers had to evacuate with an escape pod, then the Venator must have been taken over or destroyed by the Separatists. That meant that there wasn't a Republic ship that could rescue him, and no defense around the planet. If the Separatists sent one single battalion of droids, this planet would be lost, along with the population.
The rain battered down on the Gunship, thunder rumbling in the distance. Strider looked over at the rain for a while, pondering about the situation. He was lost, forgotten, and alone...
At least, that was what he thought. But someone reminded him that he wasn't, or somepony.
Fluttershy emerged from around the Gunship, her mane and tail drooping from the rain. She looked over at Strider, then around the empty transportation bay. She didn't need to guess on what had happened.
"Strider? Do you want to go inside?" Fluttershy asked gently.
Strider looked over at the pegasus, before nodding and getting up. He hopped down from the transportation bay and walked with the pegasus over to the cottage. Fluttershy opened the front door and let Strider inside, before shutting the door behind her as she followed.
Two birds flew over to Fluttershy with a towel in their talons. They gently set it down on Fluttershy's back before flying off. However, instead of using the towel, Fluttershy held it towards Strider. Strider held up a hand, shaking is head.
"I don't need it, i've got armor and you don't." Strider exclaimed.
Fluttershy quickly used the towel to dry herself off, before putting it down on a spot on the couch. Strider sat on the towel and looked at the wooden floorboard. Fluttershy took a seat next to him, looking at the Trooper's hidden face.
After what felt like hours of silence, the only noise being the rain pattering against the windows and roof, Fluttershy looked down at the floor as well.
"Was no one there?" She asked.
".....no, that was what made it worse." Strider answered in an emotionless tone.
Fluttershy was about to say something, but closed her mouth, keeping the silence going.
"Three of my brothers were in an escape pod. They had died on impact. But one of my brothers did survive." Strider stated.
Fluttershy looked up at Strider with smile at the news, but Strider's blank tone and stillness caused it to fade away.
"Where is he?" She asked, afraid of the answer.
"He was being chased by one of those wooden wolves," Strider exclaimed.
"A Timber Wolf?" Fluttershy questioned, worried.
"I guess, but with a quick signal, he soon ended up with me. I fended off that Timber Wolf and was about to take him to safety, but another creature caught him." Strider said.
Fluttershy remained silent, stunned at what the trooper had said.
"I watched him die right in front of my eyes...unable to do anything. I fired at that creature, but the damage had already been done." Strider muttered.
He let his shoulders slump down while recalling what he had done next.
"I unloaded a full power pack on that Timber Wolf, as well as a thermal detonator, leaving nothing left of it." Strider finished.
After another round of silence, before Fluttershy asked in a sorrowed tone. "What was his name?"
"Rust...he was the leader of my squad...and a great person." Strider exclaimed.
Strider waited for a reply from Fluttershy, but instead, he was greeted with a hoof on his shoulder. He glanced over to see Fluttershy looking at him sympathetically.
"I'm very sorry for your loss, but I want you to remember, your not alone." Fluttershy stated.
Strider smiled under his helmet. "Thanks, for helping me out."
"That's what friends are for." Fluttershy exclaimed.
Friends... That was something that was rare throughout the clone army. They were all brothers and the battalion that he was in was led by a Jedi who usually stuck to protocol and was distant. Strider also wasn't ever stationed in one spot on a planet near its inhabitants. Knowing that Fluttershy saw him as a friend and not just a strange creature made him happy.
Strider began asking Fluttershy about the creatures from the forest and if they do things differently depending on the time. He might be able to scavenge parts from the pod if he needed something for the Gunship that he couldn't replace with what he had.
Unknown to both of them, a set of Blue eyes watched from a window behind them. That set of eyes then vanished as the pony they belonged to turned around and left.
The rain kept falling outside the cottage, battering the building with water, but it no longer gave off a dark ambiance. Instead, it began to fall in rhythm, like a calming beat.
The rain also masked the sound of hoof steps trotting away from the cottage. A Stallion ignored the rain pelting his mane, tail and fur as he trotted down a path towards Ponyville. The Stallion every now and then looked back at the cottage, his blue eyes locking onto the yellow light flowing through a closed window.
The Stallion gave the window one last look, before sighing and continued to trot towards the town. He had other things to do and had plenty of time on hoof.
After a few more days of working on the Gunship after that rain storm, Strider had managed to fix the transportation bay doors and got most of the left wing repaired. Fluttershy had also begun to hang around the Trooper, often moving some animal classes closer to the Gunship so she could keep an eye on him.
Strider didn't really mind. She wasn't distracting him or damaging anything. But she had gone into Ponyville for something, leaving Strider to his work and thoughts.
Which was exactly what Strider was doing. The Trooper twisted a screwdriver to the right as far as he could, until it stopped for some reason. Strider looked at the screw which was still not completely tightened, before twisting the screwdriver again.
"Come on," Strider muttered, trying to tighten the screw.
After a few tugs, the screw finally began to move again. But when Strider turned the screwdriver one last time, the screwdriver broke off, part of it stuck in the screw.
Strider looked at the broken tool for a second, before sighing in annoyance as he chucked it into the transportation bay. He reached down to his utility belt and opened up a pouch. Inside were a few shiny gold bits that Fluttershy had given him if he needed something from town.
"How much would a screwdriver cost here?" Strider pondered to himself as he stood up and began walking towards town.
It didn't take long before Strider entered Ponyville, even less to reach the market. However, something was wrong, very wrong. Not a single pony was around. None tending to gardens, none eating food, none managing the markets, none even in the streets.
Strider reached around his utility belt and grabbed the DC-17 pistol he had strapped to it and rose it up. He walked around the market, checking every nook and cranny for something strange. But the only thing he found was a single mouse who was nibbling on a piece of cheese.
After Strider was sure he had checked the whole market, he began walking down the street towards the shops that were in buildings. He made sure to keep both his eyes wide open, trying to find a pony or a creature, or any sign of life.
Strider finally stopped walking when he noticed a hooded figure standing all alone in the middle of the street. The Trooper imminently ducked behind a wooden wagon, hiding his armor from view.
The figure either didn't notice him, or didn't care, as it continued to do its thing. It patted what appeared to be a hoof into the ground. It was walking on four hooves which made Strider think that it might be a pony. However, the townsfolk's reactions told him that if it was a pony, then it was a dangerous pony.
Strider watched intently as the figure looked around, before trotting over to another spot in the street. They dug at the ground once again, before turning sharply over towards the wooden cart Strider was hiding. The Trooper quickly ducked behind the cart, debating whether or not to open fire or not.
When he peaked over the wagon again, he saw two glowing yellow eyes staring directly at him. He ducked again, ready to fire at the creature. However, when he looked back up again, the figure was gone.
"What, where did they go?" Strider wondered, getting up from his hiding/cover spot.
With the DC-17 primed and ready, Strider began a perimeter check around the area. He checked a few alleyways, an old garbage can, but the figure remained hidden.
Eventually, Strider finished his search and went over to a house. He holstered the DC-17 back into his Utility belt, before knocking on the house's door.
"Hello? Anyone home?" Strider called out.
The house remained quiet, nothing stirring within it's walls, not even a mouse. Strider walked away from the house and began walking back towards Fluttershy's cottage. He had a few questions for the pegasus once she got back from her trip.
As Strider reached the top of a hill, he spotted Fluttershy entering her cottage. He quickly rushed over to the door and knocked.
Fluttershy opened the door and smiled. "Hello Strider." She greeted, stepping to the side to let him inside.
"Hello Fluttershy, i've got a few questions about something I saw in town." Strider stated.
Fluttershy's smile faded and was quickly replaced with worry. Strider stepped into the cottage and shut the door, before heading over to a chair. Fluttershy did the same, sitting down on the couch next to the chair.
"So, I was going to go buy a new screwdriver but for some reason, the whole town was empty. Except for one hooded figure standing alone in the street." Strider exclaimed.
Fluttershy fiddled with her fore hooves for a few seconds, before looking up at Strider.
"T-That was Z-Zecora, a zebra." Fluttershy claimed.
"A zebra? What are they doing in Ponyville?" Strider questioned.
"I don't know, but she's mysterious, and creepy." Fluttershy said.
Strider put a hand to his chin under his helmet, deep in thought. Ok, mysterious zebra scaring the town stiff. The Zebra also seems to be creepy and strange, as well as wear a hooded cloak and has glowing yellow eyes.
"Hmm, where does Zecora live?" Strider asked.
"That's the creepiest part, she lives in the Everfree Forest." Fluttershy stated.
Ok, that WAS strange. Strider didn't see any weapons on Zecora, but the zebra was also wearing a cloak. But any weapons that were small enough to be hidden under a cloak would most likely, not be enough to fend off the forest's inhabitants.
"Zecora is either brave, strong, or stupid." Strider muttered.
Fluttershy nodded, before glancing out the window at the setting sun. Strider also took note of that. How long had he been searching that town for Zecora?
"Well, i'll let you get some sleep. Thank's for the info." Strider thanked, before walking over to the door and leaving the cottage.
The Trooper made his way over to the Gunship and knelt down next to the left wing he was repairing. He was about to reach for a screwdriver but quickly remembered why he had been in Ponyville.
"I'll need to get another one tomorrow." Strider told himself, hopping into the transportation bay and shutting the doors.
Strider quickly removed his armor, setting it down next to his makeshift bed he had made. Strider laid down on the Transportation bay's floor, his head on a pillow Fluttershy had given him. His black bodysuit was basically already a blanket that was always around his body so he just shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Sunlight shined through the cracks in the metal doors, illuminating the transportation bay. Strider opened his eyes, blinking away the drowsiness. He got to his feet and stretched, before putting his phase one armor back over his bodysuit. He secured his helmet over his head and opened the doors, letting more light shine into the bay.
However, something was waiting for him on the other side. Strider was greeted with several different colored birds, each one looking at him with confusion.
"Uh, hi?" Strider greeted.
The birds chirped at him, before using their beaks to point towards Fluttershy's cottage.
"You want me to go to the cottage?" Strider asked. The birds nodded in agreement.
Strider hopped down from the transportation bay and walked over to the cottage's front door. He knocked a few times, waiting for Fluttershy to answer.
The shy mare slowly opened the door, looking very confused at the Trooper. She stepped aside, letting Strider enter, before shutting the door.
Inside, Angel Bunny appeared to be laughing in their basket, tears running down their eyes. That was something knew from that bunny.
"What's got him laughing so badly?" Strider questioned, watching the bunny roll a little in the basket.
Fluttershy didn't answer. Instead, she looked down at the ground, rubbing a hoof against another.
"Uh, are you feeling ok?" Strider asked.
Fluttershy took in a deep breath, before letting it out. She looked at Strider, before opening her mouth.
"I, don't really want to talk about it." Fluttershy stated in a very deep voice.
To say Strider wasn't expecting that was an understatement. He stared at Fluttershy, mouth agape, dumbfounded at what he had just heard. Angel Bunny went into another laughing fit while a few birds standing on a bird house chuckled a little.
After a few seconds of silence, besides Angel Bunny's laughter, Strider finally managed to form words again.
"Do I even want to know?" He asked, mouth still agape. Luckily, it was hidden under his helmet.
"....no. I'm going to go to Twilight's and see if she can do something about this." Fluttershy explained before trotting over to the door.
"Okay, good luck with that." Strider stated, watching the pegasus shut the door.
Strider looked over at Angel Bunny, who seemed to have recovered from their laughter fit. The Trooper knelt down next to the basket, eyeing the bunny.
"Do you have any idea as to what happened to Fluttershy's voice?" Strider questioned.
Angel Bunny shrugged, shaking their head.
"Well, i'm gonna go replace some tools. If she comes back, can you tell me what she might have found out?" Strider asked.
Angel Bunny put a paw to their chin, seemingly in thought. The bunny remained this way for a solid while, before Strider sighed.
"Your not gonna do anything I ask aren't you?" Strider muttered.
Angel Bunny nodded, a smirk on their face, before resuming their thinking pose.
"Never mind then." Strider finished, standing up and walking towards the door.
Strider shut the door behind him as he exited the cottage, before checking his utility belt for the pack of bits he had. Then, he began walking back towards Ponyville for round two of searching for a screwdriver.
"That will be fourteen bits." The shop keeper pony stated.
Strider reached into the pack that held the money and fished out fourteen. He set them down on the table and grabbed the screwdriver he had set in front of the pony.
"Thanks." Strider told the shop keeper pony, before pocketing the tool and setting off towards the edge of town.
As the Trooper exited town, he spotted a familiar looking filly running towards the Everfree Forest.
"Where the heck is she going?" Strider wondered, watching Apple Bloom for a few seconds, before realizing that she was going into the forest.
"OH COME ON! WHY IS IT ALWAYS THAT STUPID FOREST!?" Strider emphasized out loud to no one in-particular.
Strider rushed off towards the forest, grabbing the DC-17 Pistol from his utility belt and priming it. He reached the entrance and took off down the path.
Strider tried to spot Apple Bloom through the underbrush, but the filly was nowhere to be seen. What was Apple Bloom thinking? She had just entered a very dangerous area without any weapons or experience! Strider had to find her before something else did.
"APPLE BLOOM!?" Strider called out, listening for any reply.
Strider muttered something under his breath, before spotting something on the ground. He knelt down to see a set of hoof tracks rushing down the path.
Strider followed the tracks until they shifted off the path and down an opening in the shrubbery. Strider pushed aside a few branches before spotting what appeared to be a hut inside the base of a tree.
The hut had a few strange bottles hanging from branches of the tree it was in, the bottles filled with strange liquids and substances. A strange mask hung above a pale red door which had two windows on either side of it. Yellow light leaked out from the windows, giving off an eerie feeling.
"Strange place." Strider stated, approaching the door cautiously.
With the DC-17 Pistol aimed in front of him, he opened the door and pointed the Pistol inside. However, the room was empty.
The room he was aiming into was full of strange masks and potion bottles. A massive black cauldron rested in the middle of the room in a stone circle for keeping the flames from igniting the tree. Several shelves had bottles and books scattered on them, followed by a few strange golden objects.
Strider checked the room from the doorway, making sure it was empty, before stepping inside. He approached what seemed to be another room and peaked inside. That room had a bed with yellow spotted covers. It was empty as well.
Strider was about to leave the room when he spotted a brown cloak with a hood hanging up on a hook next to the bed. Had he seen that cloak before?
"Wait!" A voice shouted from behind Strider, causing him to turn around sharply right as a bamboo stick froze in front of his face.
The creature holding the bamboo stick was the zebra from before that Fluttershy had called Zecora. Strider was about to raise the DC-17 Pistol, but Zecora knocked it away.
Apple Bloom came rushing towards the two from the door, a worried expression on her face.
"Strider what are ya do'n here?" Apple Bloom asked.
"Better question, what are you doing here?" Strider countered.
"Ahm try'n to fix a mistake ah made." Apple Bloom stated.
"By rushing into a forest filled with creatures that are ready to chomp down on you?" Strider said.
"If you two could quickly break from your tension, might I be able to ask some questions?" Zecora questioned in a rhyme.
Strider grabbed the DC-17 Pistol from where it had been tossed and holstered it back into his utility belt.
"Yeah, I think we all have some questions." Strider stated, glaring at Apple Bloom.
"That was definitely not as I thought, but rest assured Apple Bloom that it wasn't your fault." Zecora exclaimed before trotting over to a shelf.
Apple Bloom sighed and put her hooves over a small table. Strider thought about what Apple Bloom had stated about what happened to the others. So Fluttershy wasn't the only one who had gotten affected by something. But what was that something?
Strider let that thought circle around his mind for a while until Zecora returned with a green book. She then flipped the book open to a page with a few images of plants.
"As it says in the paragraph below, the reason behind their changes is because of Poison Joke." Zecora stated.
Strider looked at the description, then to the illustration of a plant next to it. It was that plant that had caused the Timber Wolf that was chasing him to stop.
"To reverse the effects of this particular plant, all you need to do is mix up a special bubble bath." Zecora claimed.
Sure enough, another paragraph below exclaimed what to do and what ingredients were needed.
"So all ya need ta do is put that stuff into that cauldron and then have mah sister and her friends take a bath with it?" Apple Bloom questioned.
"That is the basics of-" Zecora was cut off as Strider sighed.
"Wheres the catch?" Strider asked.
Zecora glared at Strider for a few seconds, before continuing.
"what we could do, but I lack some of the ingredients to start the brew." She finished.
"Called it." Strider muttered, knowing from past experience that nothing was that easy.
"So what do ya need?" Apple Bloom questioned.
Zecora grabbed a blank sheet of paper from another shelf and set it down on the table. She then wrote down the names of the items she needed, before showing it to Apple Bloom.
Apple Bloom looked at the names for a few seconds, before passing the paper to Strider. The Trooper picked the paper up and glanced over the names.
"Hmm, and where would we find these? Half of them don't even sound like real things." Strider asked.
"Some items might catch your suspicion, but most could likely be in your very own kitchen." Zecora exclaimed.
Strider put the paper into a container in his utility belt, before glaring at Apple Bloom.
"Come on, I would like to have a talk with you while we leave this forest for this stuff." Strider stated. Apple Bloom followed Strider out of Zecora's hut, shutting the door behind her.
The two soon ended up back on the trail which would lead them to the entrance, Strider breaking the silence between them.
"Now that were alone, can you tell me what in the force were you thinking?" Strider questioned.
"Ah was just try'n to fix ah mistake ah made." Apple Bloom claimed in a low tone, her eyes locked with the path.
"I understand that part. I was talking about rushing into this dangerous place blindingly without any source of weaponry." Strider exclaimed.
"Ah can defend myself! Ahm not a defenseless little filly!" Apple Bloom proclaimed, looking up at Strider with anger.
"Your mind might be telling you that, and you did prove that you aren't afraid to fire a Z-6 at that Ursa Minor. But if a group of attackers spring up around you and you don't have a weapon, your a droid lined up to the shooting range." Strider stated.
Apple Bloom's eyes emptied of anger while she processed the troopers words. Then, she returned her gaze to the ground.
After a few minutes of walking, Apple Bloom spoke up.
"You sound just like mah sister..." She muttered.
Strider looked down at Apple Bloom for a few seconds before replying.
"What do you mean?"
"Ya tell me that ah need to stay out of the bigger situations, claiming that it's to dangerous for ah little filly. But ah know all that and ah know that some situations would be out of mah hooves. But this ain't one of them, almost none that mah sister states are one." Apple Bloom exclaimed. "Ah just wanna prove that ahm not just a little filly and can handle mah self."
Strider was caught off guard from Apple Bloom's explanation. Yet again, he never really needed to prove himself that he was good enough to handle something.
Well, except for the training on Kamino. Now that he thought about it, Apple Bloom's situation was closer to his training than he had thought. Strider had wanted to prove to the rest of his squad that he was a good soldier and teammate.
His squad which back then had been called the indigo squad, they had managed to run the Citadel Channel right behind the Bravo Squad. That squad had gone to become ARK troopers, but sadly, theirs didn't make that cut.
They weren't as nearly as bad as the Domino Squad, but ARK trooper Colt's words still remained in his mind.
"Not bad, but there is room for improvement." Those words had nearly crushed Rust. Their leader had worked so hard to get the squad up to the top, but his efforts fell on deaf ears.
Strider still remembered that one training session where he had tripped over part of the ground and had accidentally shot Cosmo in the foot with his training DC-15A. And how furious Rust had been with him, even throwing down the YOUR NOT EVEN A GOOD TARGET! card.
Strider had managed to prove himself to the squad on the final test when he had managed to hit every single shot he had fired as well as grab the end pole. But that had only been because of his squad and other troopers encouraging him.
Apple Bloom was just trying to prove herself to be able to handle responsibility, like how he tried to prove to his squad that he was a good soldier.
"Apple Bloom, you might not believe me on this, but I have been in your situation before." Strider claimed.
Apple Bloom looked up at Strider, surprise and confusion in her eyes.
"My squad that I fought with had to go through training before we could start fighting for real. During that training, I wanted to prove to everyone that I was capable to do anything needed on the battle field. But when I focused to much on that, I ended up firing at one of my brothers." Strider stated.
"Your mind might claim that your ready and try to prove something, but you need to make sure that you don't end up doing something that could end up proving them right or end up with you in danger. If I did that same mistake on the battlefield, my brother would have most likely died by my hands, not the enemy. That is the worst thing you could ever do, endanger someone you care for." Strider exclaimed, trying not to groan in annoyance at how cheesy this was sounding.
"So what your saying is that if ah try and do something just to prove mah-self then ah might end up causing more damage than proving a point?" Apple Bloom summarized.
"Basically. No one who cares about you wants you to do something that could end up hurting yourself." Strider said.
Apple Bloom stopped trotting, causing Strider to halt himself. The filly looked up at Strider's helmet, before smiling.
"Thank ya for tell'n me that, your a great friend, ya know." Apple Bloom claimed.
Strider's helmet hid his expression from Apple Bloom, but he was smiling under it.
"Let's go get that stuff Zecora needs for that antidote." Strider exclaimed, beginning to walk down the path again. Apple Bloom followed with a slight spring in her steps.
Strider finished putting the last items into Apple Bloom's saddlebags, before shutting the flaps on it. Zecora hadn't been lying when she had claimed that most of the items would be in a kitchen. They had almost found everything instantly just by looking around in Apple Bloom's family's house.
"That should be it." Strider stated, checking over the list Zecora had made.
"Ok, let's bring this back ta Zecora so she can make that antidote." Apple Bloom said.
The two exited the farm house and began on their journey back to Zecora's hut. It didn't take long before the two began to talk again. Apple Bloom told about her family's farm and business, along with how the farm worked and what her jobs were. She also talked about school and a few of her friends.
Strider hadn't ever talked to the local populations of other planets he had been stationed on, so it was sort of interesting to hear how these ponies were able to live in harmony. It was still strange not seeing any war around him. No firefights, no soldiers stationed around the area, not even war propaganda.
It didn't take long before they had made their way through the Everfree Forest and back to Zecora's hut. However, something wasn't right.
Strider held Apple Bloom back as he noticed that the front door was wide open, along with the sound of crashing from inside.
"Apple Bloom, stay here. I'm gonna check it out." Strider instructed, raising up the DC-17 Pistol and began to approach the hut.
Strider leaned against the wall next to the door frame and peaked inside, before sighing. He looked back at Apple Bloom and waved his hand forward, signalling her to come over.
Apple Bloom went over to the entrance and entered the hut, Strider following. Inside, the other ponies had come to take matters into their own hooves. Twilight Sparkle was currently shoving her head against Zecora's as they growled at each other. The whole place was also completely trashed, with masks scattered on the floor, broken bottles hanging from the roof, and the cauldron in the middle of the room had been knocked over, spilling out its contents.
"Are we interrupting something?" Strider asked.
Everyone's attention quickly went to the Trooper as well as Apple Bloom. Twilight was the one to speak up first.
"Um...maybe?" Twilight said.
"Why are y'all attack'n Zecora?" Apple Bloom questioned, trotting over to the zebra's side.
"Because she's an evil enchantress who was gonna turn you into soup?" Twilight stated, slightly confused.
Silence followed that statement for a few seconds, before Zecora and Apple Bloom began chuckling. Strider couldn't help but chuckle a little himself.
His chuckling quickly halted when he noticed something lying on the ground. Strider let Apple Bloom explain the situation while he walked over to the object. If this was what he thought it was, then he had less time than he thought. Strider pushed a few pieces of paper off the object, before sighing with relief.
It was just a strangely shaped broken bottle. From a distance, it had looked like an arm of a B1 battle droid. Strider set the bottle down and stood up. He looked over his shoulder to see the group apologizing to Zecora, before smiling.
The group soon began to funnel out of the hut, leaving Apple Bloom and Strider alone for a few seconds, before they also left, Strider shutting the door.
Unknown to Strider, resting under a pile of books, was a banged up B1 battle droid head, its blank robotic eye sockets staring out into the room.
Strider parted ways with the group as they went towards Ponyville, while he changed course towards Fluttershy's cottage. He still had plenty of work to do on the Gunship, and he was sure Apple Bloom was now in safe hands, or hooves.
The Trooper soon ended up back at the Gunship and climbed up into the cockpit. He sat down in the pilots seat and booted up the monitors.
"Alright, diagnostics scan." Strider muttered to himself as he activated the scan.
The monitor showed the image of a progress bar which quickly filled up. Once the bar was reached the other side of the box it was in, it faded away and was replaced with some text.
"Hmm, yeah still need to attach the wings. Front canons are a lost cause. Other then that, we're good to go." Strider stated, patting the monitor.
The Gunship was getting closer and closer to being flyable. And once it was, he could fly to that city on the mountain and talk with the Princesses about the war. Then, he could fly the Gunship back to the Republic.
For some reason, those last words seemed to drag against Strider's mind. Then, six words rang through his ears that no clone should even think of.
"Do I want to go back?" Strider wondered, but quickly shook the thought away.
Strider was loyal to the Republic, he wouldn't abandon his brothers as well as the code he lived for. If he just stayed on this planet then he would be preforming treason, and treason was something no clone could afford to do.
With that thought in Strider's mind, he hopped down from the cockpit and went over to a tool box. He opened the box and grabbed some tools, before heading over to where the left wing was resting. But the more Strider thought about it, the more he began to realize just how kind these ponies had been to him.
Did he want to return to the battlefield just to line up and be shot down like his brothers? That was what he was made for after all.
Strider took off a bent panel from the wing and set it down besides him, before looking up at the calm blue sky. No gunshots, no canons blasting, no screams of pain, no death.
Strider slapped himself on the helmet, causing his wondering mind to halt.
"You are a soldier of the Republic, you will fight for it, or die trying. That's the code." Strider told himself, getting back to work.
"This wire goes here, and this goes there, ok HIT IT STINGRAY!" Strider instructed, calling out to the cockpit.
Inside the pilot's area, a Blue Jay pressed a button with its beak on the console which activated the monitor. Then, it used its wings on a panel which glowed green, sending power through the Gunship.
Strider stood back from the Gunship, watching as several lights inside the transportation bay flickered to life. A loud whirring noise began to emerge from the ship, rattling the doors a little.
"Yes! yes!" Strider said out loud, a grin growing under his helmet.
The rumbling let out one last whir, before the entire ship roared to life completely.
"YES! WE'VE GOT FULL POWER!" Strider cheered, raising up a fist in triumph.
Stingray flew down from the cockpit and over to Strider's side, tweeting happily. The only things left to do were re-applying the left wing and repair the right wing. Then, the Gunship would be ready to fly.
"Fluttershy was right, you are a great helper." Strider stated to the Blue Jay.
Stingray smiled, before flying off towards Fluttershy's cottage. They had definitely earned whatever it was going to do.
Strider climbed up to the cockpit and turned off the power, saving the fuel for later use. As he was climbing back down, Fluttershy trotted over to him.
"Strider? Did Stingray help with the repairing?" Fluttershy asked.
Strider stepped off the ladder and onto the grass covered ground. "Stingray did their part, and thanks to their wing power, the Gunship's got full power!" Strider exclaimed.
Fluttershy smiled, making a mental note to give the Blue Jay a reward for helping out.
"That's great! By the way, are you getting ready for Princess Celestia's visit?" Fluttershy questioned.
"No, i'm to focused on repairing the wings for the Gunship. I'm so close to fix--- did you say Princess Celestia visiting?" Strider asked.
"Um, yes?" Fluttershy claimed.
"Oh that's gonna save me so much time! Why didn't you tell me this in advance?" Strider questioned.
"I didn't know until a few days ago, sorry..." Fluttershy stated.
"It's fine. I've just got to make sure that I talk with Princess Celestia and alert her of the war. That could save me a trip and fuel." Strider exclaimed.
"Ok. I'm gonna go help pick out some flowers for the Princess." Fluttershy stated, trotting off towards a flower covered hill.
Strider climbed into the transportation bay and opened up a tool box. He still had work to do before Princess Celestia arrives.
Strider picked up a wrench and rotated it in his hands, making sure it was the right side. After making sure it was the correct one, Strider hopped out of the transportation bay and looked up at the area where the left wing should be.
"Hmm, how am I gonna get the wing up there?" Strider wondered to himself.
The pulley system was out of the equation due to the lack of rope. Speaking of which, Trixie still owed him a rope. The wing was to heavy for him to carry so dragging it up wouldn't work.
"Maybe I could use a log to build a makeshift scaffolding system," Strider thought out loud. "or maybe a ramp and put wheels under the wing."
While Strider thought out loud, he didn't notice an orange pegasus filly with a purple mane and eyes running away from a pack of chickens.
Strider glanced over at the chase for a second, before going back into thought. Then what he saw hit his mind, causing him to look back over at the scene.
"Why do I have a feeling that's not normal?" Strider questioned out loud, grabbing the DC-15S but keeping it on the safe setting.
Strider rushed over towards the chase, quickly passing the chickens and running side by side with the filly.
"Why do you have a gang of chickens after you?" Strider asked.
"I don't know! Well, I might of crashed my scooter into their hen house while doing an amazing stunt." The filly stated.
"Do you want some help?" Strider questioned.
"No! I can handle things myself! This is nothing!" The filly claimed. However, her eyes widened once she noticed the chickens gaining on her.
Strider saw this and rolled his eyes. "Still don't want help?"
"Um, maybe?" The filly said, staring at the chickens.
"Ok then, hold on!" Strider instructed, picking the filly up and setting her down on his back.
The filly wrapped her fore-hooves around Strider's neck, not sure why she needed to since since Strider was going so slow- "WOAH!" The filly shouted with shock as Strider went into a full on trooper sprint.
Strider easily dusted the chickens, ducking into the Gunship's transportation bay and shutting the doors. Right before the doors shut completely, the chickens spotted the filly and began running towards the Gunship. But the doors shut on their faces, locking them out.
Once the doors were shut completely, Strider set the filly down on the bay's floor. The filly let out a sigh of relief, before looking up at the Trooper.
"Thanks." The filly said.
"Your welcome, the name's Strider." Strider greeted, extending out a hand.
"I'm Scootaloo!" Scootaloo claimed, shaking Strider's hand with a hoof.
Strider set the DC-15S down on the ground, before flipping a switch on the wall. The doors slightly opened, letting enough space to see but not enough for anything to enter.
Once Strider was sure the chickens had given up, he opened the doors the rest of the way and stepped out. No chickens in sight.
"All clear, you can head back to town now." Strider said.
Scootaloo hopped out of the transportation bay, before gasping.
"My scooter is still in the chicken coop." Scootaloo stated.
Strider sighed, grabbing the DC-15S and raising it up. "I'll be right back."
Scootaloo dangled her back hooves over the side of the transportation bay, thinking to herself. Her trail of thought faded once she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
"Did you find my-" Scootaloo trailed off as she looked up to see the state Strider was in.
Strider's armor was covered with feathers as well as eggs. Strider's helmet's visor had smeared eggs all over the visor and the DC-15S he was holding was soaked with egg. In his other hand was a blue scooter which was in a similar state, with eggs and feathers on it.
Scootaloo held back a chuckle as Strider set the scooter down on the ground in front of her.
"Thank's Strider. Sorry about the egg....and feathers." Scootaloo apologized, hopping onto the scooter. She cringed as her hooves touched the sticky egg and feathers which began to stick to her.
"No, problem..." Strider grumbled, setting the blaster down and wiping away some egg.
As Scootaloo took off towards Ponyville, Strider walked over to a hose and picked it up. He twisted the knob, causing water to flow from the hose.
"Sometimes, I wonder why I help." Strider muttered right as he pointed the nozzle right at his face to wash the visor.
Strider cracked open his eye lids, rubbing the sleep out of his face with his hands. Strider quickly put his armor back on, ignoring the faint smell of eggs that still remained on it, and put his helmet on over his head.
Strider pressed a button which opened up the transportation bay doors, allowing sunlight to shine into the Gunship. Grabbing the silver tool box, Strider hopped down from the transportation bay and over towards the area where the right wing rested.
Strider still didn't know how the left wing was gonna go back onto the Gunship, so he decided to fix the right wing first. However, once he was closer to the wing, he noticed something hovering over it.
"What the heck is that?" Strider questioned out loud, not knowing what he was looking at.
A spherical white creature with green eyes and four wings eyed him with a smile. It didn't look dangerous, but something in the back of Strider's mind told him to be careful.
Strider slowly set the tool box down and grabbed a hammer, before approaching the creature cautiously. If it had fangs, then it didn't show them as it continued to smile and watch him.
Strider rose the hammer up as he got closer to the creature, before he finally spoke.
"Uh, hi? What are you doing over here? I'm pretty sure that Fluttershy doesn't have any of you in her care." Strider stated.
The creature looked up at his visor with confusion in its eyes.
"Well, your sort of in my work area. I don't want to end up attacking something that looks happy." Strider exclaimed.
The creature seemed to get the idea as it flew away from the wing and towards Fluttershy's cottage.
Strider lowered the hammer, glad that the creature left him to work. Strider knelt down and used the hammer to pry out a broken slab of metal, before picking the metal up and seeing if he could somehow repair it.
Before Strider could decide, the sound of a door being smashed open caused him to spin around and stare at Fluttershy's cottage. A massive herd of those creatures had just busted open the front door and flew right into Fluttershy and her friends who happened to be standing right in front of the door.
"What in the force did I miss!?" Strider questioned, dropping the hammer into the tool box.
Strider rushed over to the transportation bay and grabbed the DC-15S and primed it, before rushing over towards the swarm.
The group of ponies quickly spotted the trooper rushing towards him. "What the heck is going on?" Strider asked.
Twilight Sparkle stepped forward, before answering. "We might have a Parasprite infestation on our hooves."
"Parasprite?" Strider said, looking up at the swarm.
"Don't worry, i'm on it!" Rainbow Dash claimed, putting goggles over her eyes and taking off into the sky.
Rainbow Dash spun around in the air, creating a makeshift tornado which sucked the Parasprites into it. Some Parasprites escaped the tornado, flying away towards Ponyville.
Strider quickly aimed the DC-15S at them and pulled the trigger. A few blue plasma bolts shot through the air, each one narrowly missing the small target.
Strider was about to fire again, but Fluttershy pushed the DC-15S down, sending the bolt into the ground.
"What are you doing?" Strider asked, breaking Fluttershy's hold on the blaster.
"Even if these creatures are bothersome, you shouldn't hurt them just for doing what they don't know is wrong." Fluttershy claimed.
Strider grumbled under his breath, but lowered the blaster. That was, until Pinkie Pie walked up towards the tornado with a pair of symbols. The symbols broke free of the string they were on and flew into the tornado, breaking it up.
Next thing they all knew, the entire swarm of Parasprites were flying towards town.
Strider and the others rushed off towards town which had already begun to panic once the Parasprites began eating their crops and food.
Several ponies watched in horror as the food they were either selling or eating was gobbled up right in front of them by the Parasprites.
Strider and the group stood in the middle of the panic, watching as ponies screamed and hid their food. One stallion however was watching as a group of Parasprites eat up a crate full of pears.
"How are we suppose'd ta round up all of these critters before the Princess arrives?" Applejack questioned, watching a few Parasprites eat up a basket of muffins which was being carried by Derpy, who looked down in confusion as to what happened to her food.
Before anyone could answer Applejack, the orange farm pony's eyes widened as she realized something. "Mah apples!" She cried before taking off towards Sweet Apple Acres.
Twilight frantically looked around, before an idea popped into her mind.
"I know, i'll just cast a spell to make them stop eating all the food!" She claimed, before igniting the spell.
Several pink rings flew through the air, causing each Parasprite that it touched to halt what it was doing.
Strider looked down at a basket which had an apple inside as well as a Parasprite. After a few seconds of sniffing, it appeared to of worked.
Before the group could sigh with relief, the Parasprite ate the basket instead, spitting out the apple.
Strider face palmed, shaking his head. But then a thought shot through his mind.
"Oh no, if they eat the Gunship then my way back to the Republic is lost!" Strider stated, priming the DC-15S.
Right before Strider could rush off, Fluttershy stopped him by standing in his way.
"Please, don't hurt them." She begged.
"Sometimes, the only way to keep something away, is to make it." Strider countered, leaving the group of ponies in the dust as he rushed off.
If Strider was fast enough then he might be able to get a better vantage point. Strider just had to get back before they ate through the ship's mainframe.
As Strider passed a cart that was being eaten, he spotted a cowering Apple Bloom, trying to shove Parasprites off her bow which had several bits chomped out already.
Strider quickly aimed the DC-15S up, careful to not hit Apple Bloom. Then, he pulled the trigger. A blue bolt shot from the chamber and through the air right against one of the Parasprite's wings. The Parasprite fell to the ground, clutching its hurt wing, before the others quickly fled the scene.
Strider knelt down next to Apple Bloom and extended out his hand. "You alright?"
"Yeah," Apple Bloom claimed, letting Strider help her to her hooves. "They just went after mah bow."
Strider looked around at the streets which were full of Parasprites. How would Apple Bloom get out of here? Strider spotted an alley and pointed at it.
"See if you can hide in there until the Parasprites are out of town." Strider instructed.
Strider watched as Apple Bloom took cover in the alleyways and waited until she was out of sight, before continuing to rush towards the Gunship.
Strider ran up a hill just in time to see a pack of Parasprites advance towards the Gunship. Strider fired at the pack, causing the creatures to scramble away.
With the new time he had just bought, Strider rushed over to the Gunship and set the DC-15S down in the transportation bay. He needed something bigger.
Strider opened up the cargo hold and grabbed the Z-6. He dragged the chain gun out of the cargo hold and turned around, ready to unload on any critters that wanted to take a bite from his hard work.
Right on cue, a massive ball of Parasprites emerged from the hills. They got closer and closer, before stopping as they spotted Strider.
Strider didn't know if they were wondering what he was holding, or what he was doing, but Fluttershy's words began to echo through his mind.
"HEY! LISTEN UP!" Strider shouted out to the Parasprites, whose eyes quickly locked onto him.
"IF YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT ADDING THIS SHIP TO YOUR LUNCH MENU! THEN YOUR GONNA HAVE TO GET THROUGH ME FIRST!" Strider proclaimed. "AND I AM NOT GOING OUT WITHOUT A BANG!"
When the Parasprites didn't leave, Strider primed the Z-6.
"So be it..." With those words, Strider activated the Z-6, spraying a wave of plasma bolts into the swarm.
The swarm of Parasprites quickly scrambled out of the way of the plasma bolts, a few getting skimmed by the firepower. Strider kept the Z-6 blasting as he pointed it at the swarm again.
The Parasprites weaved through another wave of bolts but were quickly met with another, and another. One tried to eat a bolt but the bolt went right through it. Strider watched as the Parasprite vanished into thin air, seemingly defeated.
The other Parasprites saw the scene as well and quickly retreated towards Ponyville for safety. Seeing this, Strider stopped firing and lowered the Z-6.
"Yeah you better run." Strider muttered, walking towards the cargo hold to put the Z-6 away.
However, a faint buzzing caused him to turn around. And what he saw made him prime the Z-6 again. It appears that another swarm wanted to give the Gunship their shot.
"Round two huh? Bring it." Strider stated, getting ready to fire.
That was when he saw the Parasprites expressions. These ones didn't have happy smiles, instead they had hungry glares. Something told Strider that this swarm wasn't exactly gonna be as easy to shoo away as the other one.
That didn't change how Strider was gonna deal with them. He open fired at the Parasprites, aiming the best he could at the middle of the swarm.
This swarm of Parasprites either didn't notice a few others getting hit into oblivion , or didn't care since they continued to rush towards the Gunship.
Strider charged at the swarm, still keeping the Z-6 firing. He gunned down at least twenty before finally getting the attention of the other Parasprites.
The Parasprites looked down at the trooper, before changing course and flying right towards him. Strider saw this and quickly rolled out of the way. He sprung back up onto his feet and fired at the swarm, taking down a few more.
"Don't any of you get the message? BUZZ OFF!" Strider shouted, aiming up at the middle of the swarm.
Then, in one quick motion, every Parasprite grouped together in a wave, before diving at Strider. Strider tried to roll out of the way but the Parasprites just changed course. Strider was quickly engulfed in a wave of Parasprites which began to grab onto his armor.
Strider tried to shake the Parasprites off but every Parasprite that fell was replaced with two more. When he tried to fire the Z-6, it was knocked away by a pack of Parasprites.
Next thing Strider knew, he was being lifted up into the air and carried over to the Everfree Forest.
"I know what your thinking and if you do what I think your gonna do then I will make sure that you--WOAH!" Strider's words quickly changed to a yell as he was dropped onto a tree.
Strider fell into the tree hard, smashing several branches on his way down. He rose his hands up, trying to grab onto a branch, but a branch he hadn't seen ended up smashing into his left arm. Strider clutched the arm as he finally fell out of the tree and onto the ground on his back.
":Huff: Wasn't expecting that." Strider said, getting back onto his feet.
Strider looked over at the Gunship right as a colorful swarm of Parasprites began to land on it.
"Oh no you don't!" Strider shouted, grabbing the DC-17 Pistol from his utility belt and aiming up at the Parasprites.
Strider open fired at the swarm, causing some to fly away but most of them remained on top of the Gunship as they began to chow down.
Strider kept firing at the Parasprites as he rushed over to the ladder and climbed up it towards the cockpit. He spotted two Parasprites which were trying to eat a holographic projection of the Gunship. He quickly took them out before climbing up onto the roof of the Gunship.
The entire roof was covered with the Parasprites which were already eating through the metal and towards the wires. Strider fired at the Parasprites, startling a few of them and ending a few others lunch breaks forever.
Strider kept firing at the Parasprites until the DC-17 Pistol stopped releasing plasma bolts. He tried to pull the trigger but a puff of steam which emerged from the top indicated that it needed another power pack.
Strider reached for the spare power packs that he had on his utility belt, but his hands found nothing but air. That was when he spotted them resting at the base of the tree he had been dropped into. They must of broken off the belt when he hit the ground.
Strider tried to shove the Parasprites away but they kept coming back to the roof and resumed eating. Finally, Strider stopped fighting and just stared as the critters ate. By the time he climbed down to grab a DC-15S or a set of power packs, the Parasprites would of already eaten through the main power line.
Right as Strider began to lose hope, the sound of music filled his ears. He looked over at a dirt path which had a familiar looking pink pony with several instruments strapped on her body.
Pinkie Pie was playing a pretty decent song all by herself, using what must of been all her concentration to play each instrument in tune.
Before Strider could comment, he noticed the Parasprites on the roof stop eating and began to hover. Next thing he knew, the Parasprites were bouncing along in tune with Pinkie's one pony parade down the dirt path and towards the Everfree Forest.
Strider looked back at the roof of the Gunship to see that most of the eccential wires hadn't been reached, meaning that the Gunship could still fly without needing to replace the main power wire. If that had been eaten through, then the Gunship would be grounded until he could fix it. And fixing important wires wasn't exactly his strong suit.
That left one thing to be said before anything else happened.
"What did I just witness?"
Well, that would be a pony playing several instruments all at once which caused the entire swarm of Parasprites to follow her to the Everfree Forest.
As Strider continued to space off as he questioned the legalistic of what just happened, he failed to notice a very tall white alicorn take off in a royal carriage. That was, until the carriage flew right over him, causing Strider to watch in shock as Princess Celestia began to fade into the distance.
Then another thought drifted into Strider's mind, this one being shouted out into the sky.
"Can't you at least check?" Strider asked the mare who was on the other side of the counter.
"Sure, just give me a second." The mare said, trotting behind the stand.
Strider grabbed the box full of bits from his utility belt and got ready to pay. Surely at least one of these hardware stands would have the correct set of screws. He didn't want to think he had wasted his time coming to town instead of working around the screw lose area of the right wing.
The town seemed to of gotten used to him being around since none seemed to be scared of him. He was still given a few weird glances, especially from a mint green unicorn. He's still a bit jumpy when opening a crate ever since he had found that unicorn waiting inside one.
After a few minutes of waiting, the mare finally returned to the counter. However, Strider quickly noticed that the mare had come back empty hooved.
"Sorry sir, but I couldn't find any screws." The mare said apologetically.
Strider resisted the urge to groan in annoyance, instead just saying "Thanks for checking." and walking away.
That had been the sixth stand he had went to and none of them had the right screws. If this continues then he might have to use something else to keep the wing together.
Strider walked away from the stand and back towards Fluttershy's cottage. On his way there, he looked around at his surroundings.
A few pegasi were flying around, pushing clouds into clumps or kicking them out of existence. Other ponies were chatting with each other, some eating snacks on a checkered tarp. The whole place seemed so peaceful, so calm, so quiet.
Strider shook those thoughts out of his mind again, he had things to do. He quickened his pace back towards the cottage and went over to the Gunship right next to it.
However, he noticed a certain purple unicorn who was knocking on the shut doors of the transportation bay, as well as a purple dragon who was sitting next to the unicorn with an empty scroll.
Strider walked over to Twilight Sparkle who didn't seem to notice him until he cleared his throat.
"You need something?" Strider asked.
"No, I was just curious about your situation, not to mention that I haven't seen your species in any books that I have read. And I have read lots of books in my spare time." Twilight exclaimed.
"She has been up a whole night now trying to figure out more about you and your stuff." Spike claimed, earning him a glare from Twilight.
"Anyways, I was just wondering if you could answer a few questions for me quickly." Twilight said.
"Depends on the questions, but ok." Strider stated.
Twilight's eyes widened with joy as she looked over at Spike.
"Spike! Get ready to take notes!" She declared.
Spike unrolled a very long and blank scroll and held up a quill, ready to write. Something deep in Strider's mind told him that he was gonna be here a while.
Spike stopped scribbling on the scroll, giving his aching claw a break. Strider was also letting something rest, his voice. Seriously could ponies talk that much without having to take a breath?
That moment of relaxation was quickly cut short when Twilight asked yet another question. Strider was expecting another question about the Republic, but instead was a question that caught him off guard.
"What's it like to be a soldier in a war on a galactic scale?" Twilight asked. "I've read my fair share of books about olden Equis and the wars that took place, but i'm curious as to if they are any different if the war is beyond a single planet."
Strider looked at Twilight, his expression masked by his helmet.
"If you want me to answer that question, then follow me." Strider instructed as he opened a transportation bay door.
Twilight hopped inside but before Spike could follow, Strider held up his hand.
"Not you Spike, you can rest your claw." Strider said, shutting the door before he could answer.
"Hey! Why can't Spike enter? He isn't dangerous." Twilight claimed.
"That's not why I didn't let him in. You don't have to worry about taking notes on this, you'll remember." Strider stated.
After a few moments of silence, Strider answered the question.
"Terrifying." Strider said blankly.
"What do you mean?" Twilight questioned, breaking the silence for a few seconds. Her tone had changed from excitement and fascination about the new knowledge she was learning, to worry and confusion.
"Imagine landing on a planet you know almost nothing about with your team beside you. Your ship lands and you exit right as a round of plasma bolts are launched towards you from the battlefield. You have no idea about what any of the wildlife could do but you have to take cover behind it to avoid being killed." Strider's words were filled with no emotion, his slightly annoyed tone in answering so many questions gone.
"All you can do is fire towards the enemy, hearing the screams of the ones you care about all around you, but you have to ignore them and keep fighting." Strider said, looking directly at Twilight.
"Imagine having to do that every day of your life until the fight is over." Strider finished.
After those words were said, Strider opened the doors again, allowing the two to exit back outside. Twilight trotted over to Spike and whispered something into his ear, before turning to face Strider.
"Strider, thanks for the information. I'm sorry to know what you had to deal with your entire life. If you ever need something from the Library than please ask." Twilight said.
Strider didn't say anything, instead just walking over to a tool box and picking it up. He watched as Twilight and Spike began trotting/walking back towards Ponyville in silence.
Why did Strider even tell Twilight about the war? She along with the inhabitants of Ponyville likely don't think about how rough war is.
Strider went back to work on the right wing, not saying a word as his mind began to pry up memories that were better left forgotten.
Night had begun its accent over the world, engulfing it in its darkness. That didn't stop Strider from his work. He kept twisting a wrench around a bolt on a piece of metal even as his viability began to lower. He did what he did with the first bolt the rest before taking off the panel and looking at the bundles of wires inside.
Strider pushed some wires out of the way until he spotted a relay box at the back of the compartment. It also had a few bolts locking it down.
As Strider began to work on opening the relay box, his mind continued to pry up memories. He tried to ignore them but each memory struck him worse than the others, like a hammer bashing at his helmet.
"EAT LASER CLANK-AHH!"
"MAN DOWN! MAN DOWN!"
Strider pried out a bent bolt and tossed it to the side. He moved onto another bolt and began twisting the wrench around it. As he did, blaster fire filled his ears.
"Super Battle Droids on your right!"
"I've got it!"
Strider grunted as a bolt refused to turn, he applied more force but the bolt remained stuck. It must of been another bent one.
"He's GONE Strider! We need to keep- ACK!"
Strider snarled under his breath, anger rising as he remembered the horrific battle.
"EVACUATE TO THE GUNSHIPS! THE SHIP'S LOST!"
"MATT TAKE COVER!"
Strider finally couldn't take it anymore.
"RRAH! SHUT UP!" Strider shouted as his anger finally overtook his actions.
Strider shot up from where he was working and chucked the wrench at the Gunship. It soared through the air until it struck a panel and fell into the grass below. Strider stared at the tool for a few seconds before his mind began wrapping more images in front of his eyes.
"I'll hold them off, GO!"
"NO! I won't leave you!"
"We don't have any other choice! GO!"
Strider was so subjected to his own mind that he didn't notice Fluttershy exit her cottage. She was about to head off towards Ponyville but stopped once she spotted Strider.
Fluttershy's happy expression faded as she saw Strider's frozen figure staring into nothingness.
"Strider?" Fluttershy asked, beginning to trot towards Strider.
Strider stayed silent, not moving as she approached him, his mind keeping him in a trance.
"Strider? You ok?" Fluttershy questioned, getting closer and closer towards the Trooper.
Strider slowly walked over to where the tool had landed and picked it up. He walked over to where he had been working and knelt down next to a panel.
"I-I don't know what your thinking about, but I can tell that something's wrong." Fluttershy claimed, only a few feet away from him now.
Strider started to twist the wrench at a screw, getting ready to pry open the panel. But before he could unscrew the final bolt, Fluttershy said one last sentence.
"I want to help you." Fluttershy claimed, her words echoing through Strider's mind.
Strider stopped twisting the wrench, Fluttershy's words repeating through his brain. Then, Rust's words shot like blaster bolts across his eyes.
"We always have each others backs Strider."
"I'm all ears Strider."
"Will make it through this Strider, and when we do, drinks are on me."
"I've got you!
"Keep fighting Strider! We can beat these clankers!"
"I'm always here to help.
Images of Strider's team flashed before his eyes, each one showing them working together against the toughest odds. Taking down droids, blowing up tanks, defending the wounded against thousands of enemies.
"WATCH YOUR LEFT!
"Hold on tight! Will get you out of here!
"I can't keep them back!
"I've got your right!
"If we go down, we go down together, and FIGHTING!"
The memories of him fighting with his brothers transitioning to Cosmo getting shot, Trigger getting blown up, Matt holding the line to safe him and other Clones, Rust turning to stone.
He was the last member of his team, a single trooper on an unmarked planet.
Right as the memories began to get even worse, they began to slow down their attack on Strider's psyche. Finally, one last image flashed in front of Strider.
"Good Soldiers follow orders"
Then, It all stopped. The screaming, the fighting, the blaster fire, everything playing in the back of his head stopped. It was like someone had just hit pause for a simulation.
After what felt like an eternity, the memories began to fade, being sucked away into some part in his brain. Strider didn't hear the screams, didn't feel the anger, like his mind had been refreshed.
It felt wrong...
Strider watched as his vision faded between each battle he had fought in, to Fluttershy's worried expression.
Strider's mind finally began to process her words again, his ears empty of the noises from the battlefield.
"-o you need some water? Please tell me if your ok!" Fluttershy begged, fear leaking with her words.
"I'm alright, i'm alright." Strider muttered, a headache splitting through his skull.
Fluttershy noticed Strider's hands slightly trembling as well as his heavy breathing. She wasn't buying it.
"Your not. Please tell me whats wrong and I can help." Fluttershy said.
Strider looked at Fluttershy, his vision beginning to blur.
"I said, i'm....fine..." Once those words left Strider's mouth, the Trooper fell to the ground, his whole body locking up.
Strider's thoughts scrambled again, words falling on deaf ears. He tried to get up but his muscles refused to cooperate.
Suddenly, Strider's helmet was taken off and tossed aside. He looked up into Fluttershy's scared eyes, her mouth making motions like she was talking but all he could hear was muffled whispers.
Strider tried to say something but nothing came out. Fluttershy was increasingly becoming more and more panicked by the second, frantically calling out to what Strider assumed to be some animals.
Fluttershy's face suddenly began to fade away, replaced with nothing but darkness, before Strider completely fell unconscious.
Fluttershy sat in silence on a chair in the Ponyville Hospital's lobby. She glanced up at the Nurse managing the desk a few times before returning to looking at the tiled floor.
Fluttershy wasn't sure how long she sat there but it felt like forever. Eventually, Nurse Redheart emerged from a set of double doors and trotted over to her.
"Miss Shy?" said Nurse Redheart, stopping next to Fluttershy.
"Is Strider gonna be ok?" Fluttershy asked, looking up into Nurse Redhearts eyes.
Nurse Redheart looked unsure about something, but she tried to hide it.
"We've tried as much as we could do, but Strider isn't like anything we've seen before. Most of our machines aren't able to work with his biology. However, we were able to get some scans. I could show you them if you want." Nurse Redheart stated.
"Um, if it isn't to much trouble." Fluttershy answered.
"Follow me." Nurse Redheart instructed, beginning to trot towards a different set of double doors than the ones she had gone through to enter.
Fluttershy followed the earth pony as they went deeper into the hospital. Most of the hallways had the same look to them, giving off the illusion of stretching forever. It didn't take to long before Nurse Redheart stopped at another set of double doors and opened them.
Inside was what seemed to be a hospital room that had several machines scattered around. Several wires appeared to be hooked up to a single monitor that was next to a hospital bed. On said bed was Strider, his armor off to the side.
Fluttershy's eyes widened as she noticed some tubes connected directly to Strider's head, each one having some sort of liquid pumping through them.
"What's going on?" Fluttershy asked, staring at the several machines hooked up to her friend.
"Well, from what we have discovered, something went wrong in Strider's brain, causing several nerve systems to get blocked off. This included some vital organs which is why those machines are hooked up to him." Nurse Redheart exclaimed.
"What caused his brain to be blocked off?" Fluttershy questioned.
"We did a scan of his brain and due to it being almost identical to a typical pony brain, we believe that a tumor of some sorts has erupted in his brain." Nurse Redheart stated.
"A tumor? H-How bad?"
"Worse than any normal Tumor. This one had put so much pressure on his brain that several important functions had been completely cut off from the rest of the body. The only other example of a tumor this bad was a rare tumor that could numb or even block off the connection to magic from the horn in a unicorn. But even that didn't end up causing any vital organs to slow down to a life threatening level." Nurse Redheart said, trotting over to a desk.
Nurse Redheart picked up what seemed to be X-ray scans, before bringing them over to Fluttershy for her to see.
"This scan shows the tumor and what is happening to his brain." Nurse Redheart explained.
Fluttershy looked over the X-ray scans, identifying the area where the tumor appeared to be. It didn't look good at all.
"Is there anything you can do to help him?" Fluttershy asked, her tone full of concern.
"The only thing we were able to do without the danger of damaging his brain is use those machines to keep his vital organs working. Other than that, all we can do is keep giving him our anti-tumor medication and wait for his brain to heal. Nurse Redheart claimed.
Fluttershy looked over at the unconscious Strider, then to the machines hooked up to him. How badly must Strider be feeling right now? It must be horrible...
Strider opened his eyes, noticing that he was laying in a snow white void that stretched out for what seemed like miles in each direction.
"Where in the force am I?" Strider questioned out loud, looking around the area.
Strider stood up, barely able to make out his armor from the landscape. He glanced to the left, not spotting anything different.
For some reason, he felt, strange. Strider couldn't put his finger on it, but something wasn't right. Still, he wasn't doing anything useful just standing around in the middle of nowhere.
"Might as well start walking." Strider said to himself, walking off towards the direction he had picked out.
Fluttershy trotted over to the bed where Strider was resting. Fluttershy watched as a machine pushed oxygen into a tube that was strapped to Strider's mouth and nose.
"How long to you think he'll need to recover?" Fluttershy asked.
"At least four weeks. His whole nervous system needs to reboot. I wouldn't be shocked if he needed to be here until fall." Nurse Redheart claimed.
"Oh, poor Strider. He was so close to finishing his ship as well." Fluttershy said.
"Even if Strider gets out before fall, he's gonna need to take things slow until his mind can return to its normal pace." Nurse Redheart stated.
"I understand, thanks for all the help your giving him." Fluttershy exclaimed.
"It's what we do at the Hospital." Nurse Redheart said.
Fluttershy nodded, before taking one last look at Strider, before exiting the room.
As Fluttershy was trotting back towards her cottage, she spotted Twilight Sparkle checking a scroll with Spike next to her on a bench.
Twilight quickly spotted the pegasus and smiled, before waving her over.
"Hey Fluttershy! How are you doing today?" Twilight asked.
"Not very good." Fluttershy stated as she approached the bench.
"What's wrong?" Spike questioned.
"Last night, Strider seemed to be angry about something. So I went over to see what had gotten him so angry. But instead, he ended up falling to the ground. I rushed him to the hospital and Nurse Redheart said that he has a tumor in his brain." Fluttershy explained.
"A tumor? How bad?" Twilight asked, her smile gone.
"Very bad, Strider's brain can't sent the right signals to keep some of his organs working. A lot of machines are hooked up to him right now and he might be stuck there until fall." Fluttershy said.
Twilight and Spike both exchanged glances, before looking back at Fluttershy.
"I hope he gets better, he was working so hard on that ship for so long." Spike stated.
"Yeah, I was actually checking over a report to Princess Celestia about Strider. If anypony would know about his species and how to help him get better." Twilight exclaimed.
"That's a good idea! If Princess Celestia offers to help then Strider will get back to work in no time." Fluttershy said.
With those words in the air, Twilight quickly got to work on rewriting the report. It didn't take long before she was done and wrapped the scroll in a royal seal and levitating it over to Spike.
"Alright Spike, send the letter." Twilight instructed.
Spike nodded, before raising up the scroll and blowing a gust of green fire which quickly engulfed the scroll. The scroll instantly formed into sparkling mist, before flying away towards Canterlot.
Princess Luna smiled as the moon rose into the sky. Once it was in its proper place, Princess Luna stopped it and looked around at the night she had made. Several well placed stars sparkled, outlining a few shapes for anypony to spot. She could safely say that this was one of her best nights.
"Good job Luna, good job." Princess Luna told herself, gazing out at Canterlot below her tower.
As much as Princess Luna wanted to stay and look out into the night, she had a job to do in the dream realm. With that in mind, Princess Luna trotted off the balcony and into the tower.
However, before she could reach her bed, she noticed a guard at the door. The guard was one of Celestia's Solar guards, his golden armor sticking out against the dark colors of her room.
"Your Highness, your sister has requested you in the throne room." The Guard said.
"Very well. Has she told you anything about why?" Princess Luna asked as she changed course from her bed to the door.
"Unfortunately no, she only requested for me to take you to her." The Guard exclaimed, moving out of the doorway to let Princess Luna through.
Princess Luna and the Guard quickly went down a set of stairs and towards the throne room, the only light from sets of torches and moonlight from the windows.
The two trotted in silence up until they reached the doors of the throne room. The Guard opened the doors, before standing back and giving her a salute. Princess Luna nodded, before entering the throne room and shut the doors behind her.
Princess Luna immediately spotted her sister Princess Celestia. She also noticed that Princess Celestia wasn't smiling like she usually did. This meant that this meeting wasn't for fun.
"Sister? You wanted to see me?" Princess Luna asked.
Princess Celestia stopped pacing and turned to face her sister.
"Yes Luna. Twilight Sparkle sent me a report on a creature that is currently living in Ponyville. So far, the creature seems to be peaceful since she didn't say anything about it hurting anypony." Princess Celestia said.
"A creature? What species?" Princess Luna questioned, mentally making a mental checklist on what creature it could be.
"That's the thing sister. Twilight said that she didn't have any information on the creature, but she did write a description. I'm sure that the description matches with the creatures that were told in the ancient tales." Princess Celestia stated.
Princess Luna's mental checklist quickly vanished, replaced with memories of the tales that were told to her by her mother.
Princess Celestia motioned for her to follow as she opened a door that led to a hallway behind the thrones. Princess Luna followed her sister as they went down a dimly lit hallway until they reached a massive vault door.
"Surely it couldn't be the same ones. They went extinct decades ago." Princess Luna claimed.
"We don't know if they went extinct. We were only told that one day, they vanished. But if my assumption is correct, then we might have a very bad problem on our hooves." Princess Celestia exclaimed as she ignited her horn with her magical aura.
Several locks and switches were engulfed in yellow as Princess Celestia unlocked the door. Once one last click was heard, the door creaked open a little. Princess Celestia opened the vault door the rest of the way, letting a thick wave of dust flow out into the hallway, before stepping inside the room.
Princess Luna followed, her eyes adjusting to the dark room. Princess Celestia levitated an unlit candle towards her and used her magic to ignite it.
The room was quickly showered with the flames light, showing the terrible state the room was in. The walls were coated with dust and rotting wooden beams. Several wooden shelves were laid out around the room, some of them broken beyond repair.
Several strange old items were scattered around the room. Some on rotting shelves while others were in boxes or just on the floor. The remains of what once was a chandelier rested in the middle of the room, cobwebs covering most of it.
Princess Celestia went over to a corner that had several boxes stacked on to of one another as well as a few posters that were so faded that nothing in them could be identifiable.
Princess Celestia gave the candle to Princess Luna, who quickly grabbed it in her own magical aura. Princess Celestia then trotted over to a box that rested right in front of a grey poster. She pushed aside a few stray objects on the box before opening it and dragged the box over to where Luna was standing.
Princess Celestia then levitated a scroll out of the box and unraveled it. She blew off a bit of dust that was covering some words before turning the scroll around for Luna to see.
After briskly reading a few paragraphs, Princess Luna took the scroll in her magical grasp as well as levitating the scroll Twilight had sent from where Princess Celestia was keeping it on her back. Princess Luna compared the two scrolls, focusing on the set of illustrations that they both had.
"These two creatures do seem to line up with each other. But where did this creature come from?" Princess Luna wondered out loud.
"No idea, but if one can return, then others can as well." Princess Celestia claimed.
"What about the mirror?" Princess Luna questioned.
"A Guard would of reported seeing it, not to mention get all the way to Ponyville without being seen." Princess Celestia said.
Princess Luna nodded in understatement, but that just rose another question, where did it come from?
Princess Celestia trotted over to a shelf that had several old books scattered on it. She levitated a red journal with a golden hand print on it and flipped through some pages. When she was done, she put the journal back on the shelf and moved onto another.
Princess Celestia went through several other books and journals before finally coming across a grey journal with a strange symbol on it. She flipped through a few pages before stopping on a page that showed an illustration. She looked at the illustration for a few seconds, before giving it to Luna.
The illustration showed a tall alicorn shaking hooves with a bipedal homo-sapient who was wearing a set of robes. Several other homo-sapients and ponies stood behind their leader, each one staring blankly ahead. The ponies wore armor while the homo-sapients wore robes and their own armor.
"Almost everything that was written down for that time has been lost from age or destruction. But from what information we have, I think that our races came to an agreement about a war." Princess Celestia said, trotting over to another shelf.
"A war? Every war that has ever taken part in Equis has been archived. No war has ever been fought with these homo-sapients." Princess Luna exclaimed.
"All the wars in Equis, yes." Princess Celestia agreed, grabbing an object in her magical aura.
Princess Celestia levitated the object with her as she trotted back into the candle light. She rotated the silver object in her magic, before stopping once she found a button. She used her magic to press down on the button, activating the device.
"But not from beyond the stars." Princess Celestia claimed, watching as a green line of energy shot into the air from the device.
Princess Luna set the two scrolls and the book down on the ground, her focus now on the neon green light that illuminated half the room.
Princess Celestia switched of the device and set it down on the shelf. She looked over at the book and scrolls, before facing her sister.
"I don't know what might be going on beyond our skies, but I know that I will do whatever it takes to defend our subjects and keep them safe." Princess Celestia proclaimed.
"So will we." Princess Luna stated.
The two sisters took one last look around the room, before Princess Celestia grabbed the two letters and the book and began to trot towards the exit. Princess Luna followed, but not before snatching up the device from the shelf and taking it with her as she left.
Princess Luna sat upright in her royal bed, rotating the strange silver device her sister had found in the ancient chambers in her magic. How could something so small and weightless be able to control a beam of light. She had done several scans to locate any type of magical spell or charm, but the device was clean.
Well, clean from magic anyways. Even with Princess Luna's effort, the device still had dust all over it, masking the chrome parts from shining in the moonlight.
Princess Luna held the device up in her magic and pressed down on a switch. The same neon green beam of light shot from the device, engulfing her dark room in green light.
As Princess Luna waved the device around, the beam of light made a slight whirring sound as it danced through the air. It acted somewhat like a sword that were sometimes used by the Royal Guard, each having what must be a blade and easy grip and handling.
"Hmm, if this is a sword, then what happens if-" Princess Luna got out of her bed and pointed the green beam of light at the floor of her room, before slowly poking a wooden floorboard.
To Princess Luna's surprise, the beam of light went right through the floorboard, leaving a hole in the wood when she retracted the device.
Princess Luna knelt down to the floorboard, eyeing the hole in disbelief. How could a beam of light cut through wood? Well this was another race's technology, but still, how is that possible?
With curiosity flowing through her mind, Princess Luna stood back up on her hooves and trotted over to the balcony doors. She pushed the glass doors open, allowing a faint gust of cool air to blow into the room. She then looked at the wall that operated her room and the balcony.
The castle walls were made out of solid white concrete and were tough as rocks. The only thing that could break them were strong magical blasts or heavy objects like canon balls, and even those have to take a few tries before a wall would crumble.
Princess Luna stood in the doorway between her room and the balcony, watching closely as her magic slowly inched the green beam towards the wall from her room. Once the beam made contact with the wall, a loud hissing noise began to fill her ears.
The more Princess Luna pushed the blade into the wall, the louder the hissing and amount of steam radiating from the hole. But surely this blade couldn't break through the wall, right?
But the more she pushed the blade, the further and further it went into the wall. It surprised her that she almost felt zero force when pushing the blade through the wall. Then, after pushing the blade one last time, the beam of light broke through the wall and emerged from the other side of it.
It didn't take long before the entire beam of light was through the wall and out the other side, leaving only the silver device on the inside of the room. Princess Luna retracted the beam from the wall and looked at it in dismay. This thing cut through the castle walls like a knife through butter.
"Very impressive." Princess Luna stated, switching off the device which caused the green beam to vanish back into it.
Princess Luna set the device down on the nightstand next to her bed only to catch a glance at an alarm clock.
"9:39?! Oh we should of started work hours ago!" Princess Luna told herself, quickly hopping into bed.
Princess Luna shut her eyes and ignited her horn, ready to hop into the dream realm.
Princess Luna opened her eyes to see a row of doors on both sides of a star lit path in the dream realm. She levitated a small clipboard out of nowhere with a blank sheet of paper on it as well as a freshly dipped quill.
She turned to trot towards the first door to enter, but stopped in her tracks when she noticed another door. It was common for new doors to appear and old ones to fade away as new life was born and old life moved on, but this door seemed, strange.
The door was made out of solid white metal with several scorch marks scattered about it. A control panel was to the side, beeping and blinking. On the door was a strange symbol that looked like a wheel of some sorts.
Princess Luna put the clipboard on the door she was originally gonna enter as a bookmark to remember which one, before trotting over to the door.
Princess Luna tried to find a door handle, but couldn't. Eventually, she went over to the control panel and started pressing buttons. A red light flashed when she hit the enter button, signalling that it needed a password to open.
"Strange, a dream door has never had a lock on it before." Princess Luna stated out loud, not remembering her ever encounter a door she couldn't open.
Princess Luna tried to guess the password a few more times, entering the date Equestria was founded, tonight's date, the amount of doors she could see from where she was standing, even one two three four. Each one however just answered with a red light.
Eventually, Princess Luna just tried to pry open the door with her magic, but the door remained shut. Princess Luna's frustration began to rise as she stared down the stubborn door.
Finally, Princess Luna was done fooling around. She glared at the door, taking in a deep breath, before releasing it in the royal canterlot voice.
"THOU DOOR SHALL LET US PASS FOR WE ARE THE PRINCESS OF THE NIGHT AND PROTECTOR OF DREAMS!!" Princess Luna bellowed, her voice so loud that a few other dream doors were blown open.
Princess Luna glared at the door for a few more seconds, before sighing. She looked around the area at all the open doors. A few objects or creatures from each ponies dream began to exit into the hall. Princess Luna quickly used her magic to put the objects and creatures back into their respected dreams and shut the doors.
Once each door was shut, she looked back at the strange door in defeat. She had other things to do then just play around with a single door.
However, when Princess Luna glanced at the control panel, she noticed that the bar that would turn red when the wrong password was entered now glowed yellow. Suddenly, the metal door slowly slid to the left, letting a crack of light from the dream leak out into the hall.
Princess Luna went over to the door and tried to use her magic to open it the rest of the way, but the door remained solid like a boulder. So instead, she just peaked through the crack into the dream work beyond.
Princess Luna's eyes adjusted to the light from within the dream, revealing a swamp-like area with several crates and machines set up.
It didn't take long before a set of movement caught Princess Luna's eyes. She looked over at the source of the movement, expecting a pony to emerge from the swamp. However, to her shock, a bi-pedal homo-sapient creature wearing white armor and holding a strange black device.
Princess Luna spotted several other homo-sapients wearing similar white armor and holding other strange black devices. The group went over to an area that was surrounded by monitors and began fiddling with them.
"Is that bombing strike ready yet? Those droids are getting to close." One said, rotating the object they were holding.
"Not yet Strider. They can't bomb their spot and ours at the same time. We have to hold this line, at all costs." Another said to the one they called Strider.
"Alright then, set up a defensive perimeter around the area. Those tanks are gonna be quite difficult to keep at bay" Strider exclaimed.
The others took off around the area, vanishing from view from where Princess Luna was standing. Strider went over to a monitor and started fiddling with it. A few signs emerged on the monitor, before Strider glanced over towards where the door Luna was looking from.
The two stared at each other for what felt like hours, before the door suddenly shut. Princess Luna stumbled back, not expecting the door to shut so abruptly. That shock quickly turned into anger at the fact that the door had shut her out right before she could do anything.
"OPEN THY DOOR ONCE AGAIN! WE ARE NOT FINISHED WITH OUR WORK!" Princess Luna shouted in the royal canterlot voice at the door as she did before. But unlike before, the door remained shut, no yellow bar appearing on the control panel.
Princess Luna snarled at the door, before turning around to face the other doors. She was done with that for now and she had plenty other things to do. But she did give the door an angry buck, before trotting over to the door she had set the clipboard on.
Chapter 35: Cutie Mark Crusaders Gunship Repairers!
Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all watched as a machine pumped air through a tube into Strider's lifeless body. They each took turns to trot over to a table next to Strider's bed and set their get well cards on it.
After each Crusader was done, they went back over to where Fluttershy was standing and looked up at her.
"When's Strider gonna wake up? He's been like that for three weeks now and we're worried 'bout him." Apple Bloom said. The other two Crusaders nodded.
"All we can do is wait for him to wake up." Fluttershy exclaimed.
Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo looked back at Strider. It must be horrible, unable to do anything as your stuck in the hospital.
Then, an idea Struck Apple Bloom's mind. She waved for her friends to follow her as she left the room and took off towards the exit of the building.
"So, what are we gonna do?" Scootaloo questioned as they trotted towards Ponyville.
"Well, when we were in Strider's hospital room, Ah was think'n about how we might be able to help work on that ship thingy that he was working on!" Apple Bloom stated.
"You mean that weird white box thing in front of Fluttershy's cottage?" Sweetie Belle questioned.
"Oh yeah! That thing. Strider was kind enough to let me hid inside it when..." Scootaloo trailed off.
"When what?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Nothing!" Scootaloo quickly claimed.
"Well, except for you Sweetie Belle, Strider has helped both me and Scootaloo with someth'n. We should return the favor." Apple Bloom explained.
"Yeah! And maybe will get our cutie marks in repairing things!" Scootaloo said cheerfully.
"Then it's settled! Will finish Strider's ship for him so when he wakes up he doesn't have ta worry 'bout it." Apple Bloom declared.
With those words in mind, the Crusaders quickly dashed off towards Fluttershy's cottage. Little did they know that a set of blue eyes were locked onto them as they ran.
Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo all gazed in awe at the sight of the Gunship, the machine towering over the little fillies.
"So, where do we start?" Sweetie Belle questioned.
"Hmm, that wing!" Scootaloo stated, pointing in the direction of the right wing that had a toolbox next to it.
"Perfect! Will just pick up where he left off." Apple Bloom exclaimed, trotting over to the toolbox.
With a quick push of her hoof, the top of the toolbox opened, revealing several shiny tools resting within. Apple Bloom grabbed what looked like a wrench and pulled it out of the cluster of tools.
Apple Bloom put the tool on the ground next to the toolbox and went to grab another. However, before she could, Scootaloo smiled as an idea popped into her mind.
Scootaloo went over to the toolbox and knocked it over, causing all the tools to roll onto the ground. Several tool didn't even look like they could fix anything.
Sweetie Belle picked up a strange tool that had a silver barrel and a wire that hooked up to a machine next to the wing.
"So, how do we know which tool to use?" Sweetie Belle asked, trying to figure out what tool she was holding.
"It can't be that hard. A've seen mah sister work on things on the farm all the time!" Apple Bloom claimed.
Scootaloo fiddled with a switch on the machine as Sweetie Belle set the tool down. She turned the switch forward, then backwards, then to the side.
"Well, we better get to work!" Scootaloo said, twisting the switch to the other side.
A clicking noise sounded from the machine as energy began to whir through it. Suddenly, a blue flame ignited from the tool Sweetie Belle had set down. However, since the tool was so close to her tail, the flame caught the end of her tail on fire.
"Oh, so that's what that does." Scootaloo exclaimed, looking at the flame.
"What does what?" Sweetie Belle asked, turning around to see what had happened.
Sweetie Belle's eyes widened as she noticed the fire on her tail.
"AHH! Somepony get water!" Sweetie Belle cried, frantically beating her tail against the ground in an effort to put out the fire.
Apple Bloom and Scootaloo quickly rushed over to Fluttershy's cottage. Surely she had a hose somewhere! It didn't take long before they found the green hose and quickly turned it on. Water blasted from the nozzle which was then pointed at Sweetie Belles tail.
The flames quickly died down as the water continued its assault on Sweetie Belle's tail. It didn't take long before the fire was completely extinguished, allowing the Cutie Mark Crusaders to take a breath.
"Ok, with that situation under control, should we start on the ship?" Scootaloo questioned.
"Yeah, and can we please not use fire?" Sweetie Belle asked, staring at the scorched end of her tail.
"Hammer?" Apple Bloom asked, raising a hoof.
Scootaloo set a hammer on her friends hoof. Apple Bloom then started bashing at a metal panel with the hammer, bending it into the correct shape.
Scootaloo went back to the other wing and got to her position where she had been using the hammer. The area seemed ok, which meant that this wing was ready to go.
"Alright, this wing is ready to go." Scootaloo said with a grin.
Sweetie Belle glanced out of the cockpit she was sitting in and looked over at her friend.
"Good job!" Sweetie Belle cheered with a smile, before looking back at the monitors.
Sweetie Belle pressed a button, seeing if it connected to the monitor. When nothing happened she tried another, and another, and another.
She continued this until the monitor finally registered something. She looked at the words that began to boot up, before reeling back in surprise when a rectangular chip popped up from the controls. Cautiously, Sweetie Belle grabbed the chip, before removing it from the slot it was in.
Sweetie Belle rotated the chip in her hooves, examining each side like it was a puzzle box. She was about to put it back when Twilight Sparkle's voice rang through her ears.
"What are you three doing?" Twilight asked, noticing the Crusaders tinkering with the Gunship.
Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle quickly stopped what they were doing and rushed over to the lavender unicorn.
"We're fix'n up Strider's ship as ah thanks and ah present for him when he wakes up." Apple Bloom exclaimed.
"Well... that's very sweet of you, but you shouldn't be trying to fix something that you might not even know is already fixed. Even I don't know how that thing works." Twilight stated.
"Oh," The three Crusaders said in unison, considering what Twilight had said.
"But i'm sure Strider will be proud, especially since he woke up an hour ago." Twilight claimed.
"Really!?" The Crusaders said at the same time, eyes widening.
"Yeah, Fluttershy's helping him back here as we speak." Twilight proclaimed.
Apple Bloom smiled, feeling proud of herself as she looked back at the Gunship. Sure the wings were still not on, but thanks to her fellow Crusaders, both wings looked ready to go.
However, as Apple Bloom looked over the Gunship, she noticed several flashing red lights coming from the transportation bay.
"Hey Scootaloo? Sweetie Belle? Did either of ya put someth'n like that in there?" Apple Bloom asked, not recognizing the lights.
Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Twilight all looked over at where the flashing lights were located, before the two Crusaders shrugged.
"No idea. I didn't put those there." Scootaloo claimed.
"I didn't either. I was in that control place the whole time." Sweetie Belle insisted.
Twilight stepped forward, looking down at the Crusaders.
"So if none of you put those there, then who did?" Twilight questioned.
The Crusaders shrugged, continuing to look at the lights. Twilight slowly began approaching the blinking lights, fear beginning to crawl up her spine.
As Twilight got closer and closer, several loud beeping noises began to fill her ears. She stepped into the transportation bay and cautiously approached a small crate that held the blinking lights.
Twilight slowly levitated one of the objects in the crate up into the light for her to see. The object seemed to be a small spherical ball of metal with a flashing red light near the top. Several other objects that looked exactly the same rested in the crate.
Twilight was about to put the device back down in the crate when the beeping got faster. Something deep in her mind was telling, no, screaming at her to run.
With panic pumping through her veins, Twilight dropped the device into the crate and dove out of the transportation bay right as the devices exploded, engulfing the Gunship in a fiery blaze.
Strider still felt dizzy even as he walked with Fluttershy towards her cottage. To say that he had been shocked to be told that he had been out for over three weeks would be an understatement. However, Fluttershy was able to somewhat calm him down.
"So you were dreaming about a b-battlefield?" Fluttershy asked in a weak tone.
"Yep, it felt real though. The only thing that made it different from a real battlefield was how my brothers acted. They were acting more like droids than human, telling me to follow orders. But the strangest thing was when I saw an eye watching me from a door." Strider exclaimed.
"An eye?" Fluttershy questioned.
"Yeah, an eye with a blue iris. But before I could make out the creature, the door shut. When I opened it, the only thing on the other side was the rest of the base." Strider stated.
"Sounds scary." Fluttershy said.
"Not really. I've seen much worse during other battles." Strider claimed, straightening his helmet on his head.
Fluttershy was about to comment when a massive explosion rang through the two's ears. They looked forwards to see a wave of fire and smoke float into the sky.
"That's close to my cottage!" Fluttershy stated, panic rising at the thought of her animal friends being hurt.
"Come on Fluttershy, double time! We need to see what happened!" Strider proclaimed, taking off in a full trooper sprint down the path towards the explosion.
Strider and Fluttershy reached the cottage in minutes, both sighing with relief when it was completely in tact. However, a few seconds after that realization settled in, Strider's blood ran cold.
"No, no no no," Strider repeated, rushing around the cottage and towards the sight.
"no no no NO!!" Strider shouted as he spotted the source of the explosion.
Resting on the burned up grass was an on fire Gunship, pieces falling to the ground with hard thumps and crashes. Standing in front of the scene was Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and a third filly who he didn't recognize.
Strider ran towards them, anger in his eyes. But he quickly realized that they were stunned by the shock. Each one stared, unblinking at the chaos.
"Can any of you three hear me!? What happened!?" Strider questioned, but the fillies remained still.
A loud smashing sound caught Strider's attention, causing him to turn around and gaze at the carnage. He quickly spotted something moving from under a piece of metal.
Something was caught underneath.
Strider quickly dashed over to the shard of metal, his suit offering zero protection to the flames around him. With what strength he had, Strider lifted the shard of metal off the creature and dropped it to the side.
Resting in a heap of broken wires and burned grass was Twilight Sparkle, her mane and tail slightly singed by fire. The Unicorns eyes were shut but her chest rose and fell, signalling that she was still breathing.
Strider tried to move Twilight but quickly realized that a much larger piece of metal had trapped both her hind legs under it. Strider tried to move the piece of metal but halted once Twilight grunted in pain. He was gonna have to lift it off.
Strider went over to the piece of metal and tried to lift it, but the weight proved to be to heavy for him to lift. He looked over at the three fillies who were still staring at the wreckage.
"HEY! I NEED YOUR HELP OR TWILIGHT ISN'T GONNA MAKE IT!" Strider shouted.
Those words seemed to finally break the fillies from their trances. They quickly rushed over to Strider and with their combined strength, lifted the chunk of metal off of Twilight.
Strider quickly picked up the unicorn and followed the fillies over to a safer part of the area. A strike of pain from Strider's chest caused him to fall, landing hard on the grass with Twilight rolling out of his hands.
Fluttershy emerged from the side of the cottage and instantly spotted the two on the ground. She rushed over to them and let out a gasp in horror at the state Twilight was in.
Fluttershy quickly rushed inside the cottage and came out with a medical kit. She quickly got to work, trying her best to bandage any serious cuts.
As she did that, Strider got back up on his feet and turned to face the destruction of the Gunship. He watched, unable to do anything as the Republic Symbol, a sign of hope and order, broke off of the Gunship's walls and fell into the flames below.
Strider fell to his knees, the hope for him returning to the Republic draining with each crackle of the fire. He had been so close to finishing it, so close, only for it all to be blown to pieces.
"Strider?" A trembling Apple Bloom called out.
Strider clenched his hands into fists, fighting the urge to scream bloody murder into the air. He looked up one last time at the wreckage, his ticket home burning right in front of him, before his anger finally began to leak.
"What were you three THINKING!?" Strider shouted, turning to face the fillies who quickly recoiled in fear.
"W-we were just try'n to f-fix your ship so ya didn't need ta worry 'bout it w-when ya woke up." Apple Bloom stammered.
"I-It was supposed t-to be a gift for helping us." Scootaloo exclaimed.
"W-we didn't know it w-would explode." The final filly who appeared to be a unicorn stated.
"Well, not only did you DESTROY my way home, you seriously INJURED someone else!" Strider barked, pointing at Twilight.
"We're so sorry! We didn't know! If we could change what happened then we absolutely would!" Scootaloo claimed.
Strider wanted to grab a DC-15S and take out all his anger on every single cloud he could see. But instead, he just grabbed the first thing he found from his utility belt which happened to be a spare power pack and chucked it as hard as he could at the wreckage.
The power pack struck part of the right transportation bay door, causing it to break free from the rest of the ship and fall to the ground loudly. Strider didn't care, the ship was already a lost cause, just like any way to get back to the Republic.
Strider watched as Rainbow Dash shook one last cloud, sending another wave of rain showering down across the wreckage. The final wave of rain extinguished the last remaining flames, allowing the Gunship to be accessible again.
Rainbow Dash bucked the cloud out of existence, before landing in front of him.
"That was a lot of flames, but they're all out." Rainbow Dash claimed.
"Thanks..." Strider said blankly as he walked past her and towards the wreckage.
Strider glanced over his shoulder to see Rainbow Dash fly over to where the rest of her friends were standing. All of them had come rushing once the Gunship exploded, But Rainbow Dash arrived first and somehow managed to get some clouds to rain on the flames.
Strider weaved through a few outstretched metal shards, making his way over to the cargo hold. He reached the slightly burned panel and tried to open it, but the panel remained stuck. With a groan of annoyance, Strider grabbed the top of the panel and pried it off of its hinges.
The panel fell to the ground with a thump, sending a faint cloud of dust into the air. Strider tried to peek into the cargo hold, but the darkness inside made it near impossible.
Strider flipped on his helmet's head lamp, revealing the interior of the cargo hold. To his dismay, almost every crate had been crushed by fallen panels, or burned up by flames.
However, what did cheer him up was when he saw the Z-6 still in tact. The only damage on it seemed to be some soot on the handle and it was on its side. Strider grabbed the rotary blaster and pulled it out of the cargo hold.
Strider gently set the Z-6 down outside and went back to looking in the cargo hold. He managed to spot two other crates that seemed untouched. He grabbed one of them and set it next to the Z-6, then the other.
Strider popped off the lids of the two crates and looked inside. One of them had two DC-15S's and ammunition which was a score, but the other one only had a few broken wires and a single cable attachment for a DC-15S.
"Well, it's better than nothing." Strider told himself, putting the lids back on the crates and stacking them.
Strider picked up the two crates and carefully balanced the Z-6 on top. Once he was sure it was safe, he left the wreckage and set the stuff down next to Fluttershy's cottage.
Once Strider double checked that everything was alright, he went over to the group of ponies who were all standing over Twilight who had regained conscientiousness.
"Twilight? You think you can stand?" Fluttershy asked.
"Yeah, I think i'm alright." Twilight claimed, getting to her hooves.
"Phew, we were so worried!" Rarity stated.
Applejack was about to agree when Strider pushed past her and towards where the three fillies were standing.
Strider grabbed his helmet and ripped it off, carelessly dropping it as he advanced towards the fillies. He wanted them to see him face to face for this.
"Now that everything has been cleared up, can any of you tell me as to what has happened here?" Strider asked, glaring at them.
"We don't know! One second we were watching Twilight holding a strange object, the next was it blowing up!" Scootaloo claimed.
"An object? What did it look like?" Strider asked.
"Um, it was hard for us to get a good view, but they looked like metal circles with flashing red lights on the top." Scootaloo said.
"But Twilight must of gotten ah better look." Apple Bloom pointed out.
Strider looked over his shoulder at Twilight, who by now had regained consciousness. A metal circle with a flashing red light huh? Strider might have an idea as to what those were.
Strider fished around in his utility belt, trying to find a certain item. Once he found what he was looking for, he pulled it out of the belt and went over to Twilight.
Strider knelt down next to the Unicorn and held up the object for her to see.
"Twilight, was this the object that you saw in the ship?" Strider asked.
Twilight used her magic to gently pick up the device. She rotated it around a little, before setting it back in Strider's hands.
"Yeah, that's the same one." Twilight proclaimed.
"That would explain how loud that explosion was." Strider muttered to himself.
"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, putting away the medical kit.
"This is a thermal detonator, used primarily on the battlefield. Once activated, a countdown begins with a flashing red light. Once that countdown reaches zero, they detonate. But someone has to activate it before it can go off." Strider exclaimed, turning to face the fillies.
Strider got up and walked back over to the three fillies, showing them the thermal detonator.
"Have any of you seen this before?"
Strider gripped the thermal detonator tightly, his anger rising.
"Well one of you did! So quit lying right to my face and tell me." Strider ordered.
"But none of us put them there! Sweetie Belle was in the cockpit, Ah was work'n on a wing, and Scootaloo was work'n on the other one!" Apple Bloom exclaimed.
"Well one of you must of at least activated them, otherwise they wouldn't of blown up." Strider explained.
The other filly who was apparently called Sweetie Belle stood silent for a few seconds, before her eyes widened.
"Can they be activated remotely?" She asked.
"Yes, if they are hooked up to the right frequency. Why?"
"Um, I might of pressed a few buttons in the cockpit." Sweetie Belle admitted.
Strider glared at Sweetie Belle with fiery eyes.
"Why were you even pressing buttons in the first place!?" Strider questioned.
"Well, we thought the futuristic looking screens might of needed repairing. And since I was the only Crusader who has had experience with monitors and computers, I was the one chosen." Sweetie Belle exclaimed.
"But she didn't know that this would happen!" Scootaloo stated.
Strider's grip on the thermal detonator tightened even more, his knuckles turning white under the body suit.
"The only thing that needed fixing was the left wing! EVERYTHING else was ALREADY done! WHY would you even THINK that you would be able to fix a ship that ISN'T even FROM YOUR PLANET!?" Strider shouted.
The others quickly took notice of the scene and helped Twilight get to her hooves before rushing over to Strider and the CMC.
"We're so so sorry! I promise we are! Will never do it again!" Apple Bloom promised.
"Sorry won't bring back my ship! I swear if you think you can just do stuff to peoples things WITHOUT EVEN ASKING THEM then I SWEAR I--" Strider cut himself off, realizing that he was boiling over.
As much as Strider wanted to shout more, he needed to remember that they were just kids, young ponies who didn't know what they were doing. But still, they shouldn't of touched his stuff.
Strider put the thermal detonator away in his utility belt and turned around, walking away from the three fillies. The others tried to talk to him but he ignored them. Instead, Strider walked right past them and towards who knew where. He just needed to take a walk. A moment to think about what to do.
Apple Bloom was about to follow but was cut off by Fluttershy. She was then quickly stared down by her sister as well as the rest of her friends.
All Apple Bloom could do was watch as Strider got further and further away into the distance, the only thing left behind was his helmet which still rested in the grass where he had dropped it.
"Y'all have a lot of explain'n ta do." Applejack said coldly.
The sun began to set, sending waves of color through the sky as it made its decent. It didn't take long before the moon replaced its position, shining down across the land.
The light of the moon reflected off of a small lake that Strider had stopped next to. He walked across a small docking area for row boats and sat down at the end. his eyes drifting across the water as he thought.
What now? His only way home was now destroyed, most of his equipment along with it. He was out of communication range with anything he had and was stuck on a planet that isn't supposed to exist.
Strider was a soldier, a worthy trooper for the Grand Republic Army. But now, he was trapped on a planet that had close to zero technology or contact from any other planet. He wouldn't be able to see his brothers again, wouldn't be able to fight with them, win the war with them.
Even if he had a ranged communication link, no Jedi or high ranking officer would send a search party for one single trooper. He was all alone.
A surge of pain shot through Strider's mind, almost exactly like the other time. But Strider wouldn't let himself get knocked out again just because he thought something.
Even though Strider was deep in thought, he could still hear the sound of hooves against the rickety wooden boards that held the dock together. Strider turned his head around to see who followed him, instantly identifying who had once he did.
Fluttershy stood around ten feet from where Strider was sitting, his helmet resting carefully on her back.
"H-Hi Strider." Fluttershy greeted.
"Hi..." Strider said blankly, turning back to face the water.
Fluttershy trotted over to the end of the dock, gently setting the Trooper's helmet in between herself and Strider.
"Um, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle are dreadfully sorry about your ship and accepted their punishments. They also promised that they wouldn't touch any of your stuff anymore." Fluttershy exclaimed.
Strider remained silent, still watching the water. Fluttershy copied Strider, gazing at a few ripples from some fish that swam by. Silence filled the area, only being broken by a few chirps from some insects.
Eventually, Strider finally broke the silence.
"Is Twilight ok?" Strider asked.
"Yes, she said she had casted a quick spell that took most of the impact from the explosion. She's gonna be fine." Fluttershy proclaimed.
"Good to hear..." Strider said.
Another wave of silence flowed through the lake.
"Strider? You ok?" Fluttershy questioned.
"Great...just great. It isn't like my only way back home, the only way to see my brothers again got blown up." Strider muttered.
"Oh," Fluttershy said, looking down at the lake.
"I'm a soldier who can't even find the battlefield! Stuck here with no ship, limited supplies and a com link that can't even reach outside the atmosphere!" Strider shouted, banging on the com link that was on his left wrist plate.
"Wouldn't they send a ship to get you once they notice your gone?" Fluttershy pointed out.
"No Jedi or high ranked officer would care to send a ship just to fetch a single clone. Were clones! Were meant to be expendable." Strider exclaimed. "I'm just a forgotten trooper who was most likely thought to be lost in action.
"They'd just forget about you?" Fluttershy said, shocked at Strider's testimony.
"Why wouldn't they?" Strider countered.
"Even if your a clone, your still a living breathing creature. No matter what creature, big or small, good or evil, should ever be tossed aside and forgotten." Fluttershy proclaimed.
Strider turned his gaze away from the lake and at the pegasus beside him. Her expression told him that she was serious, she believed the words she had said were true.
"Your lucky you know." Strider said.
Fluttershy rose an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
Strider looked deep into Fluttershy's blue irises, watching as they seemed to sparkle in the moonlight.
"I've seen it in every single pony that i've walked by when I arrived here. All of your eyes sparkle, they glisten with clear and calm colors. They aren't tainted like a soldier's." Strider exclaimed.
Strider felt another wave of pain shoot through his brain, but he once again refused to let it take over his actions again.
However, this didn't mean that he didn't flinch, show a sign of pain that was instantly picked up by Fluttershy.
"Strider? Are you ok? Do you need to go back to-" Fluttershy was cut off by Strider's shaking head.
"No, i'm fine." He said blankly.
Fluttershy looked like she wanted to protest, but decided against it. Instead, she picked up Strider's helmet and looked at it. But for some reason, the helmet looked different. It was most likely because she was seeing it in the moonlight, but still.
Whenever she saw it in the day on Strider's head, it looked like an ice white helmet that had some light dust on it as well as a few dings from the crash Strider was in when he got here.
But now, she saw more. She saw scratches covering the entire right jaw line, like an explosion sent shards of metal into it. Some spots had their white paint chipped and faded with age. Part of the right side of the visor was cracked and several dents were scattered about the entire helmet.
Fluttershy looked over at Strider's armor, only now noticing how scratched and faded it looked. Then she saw Strider's eyes again, but this time, it felt like she was looking at several expressions at once. She saw anger, sadness, strength, loyalty, fear, but one stuck out from the rest, lonesome.
Fluttershy glanced back and forth between the helmet, and Strider. Then, she held the helmet out towards him.
"Strider, if you ever need to talk about something that's causing you pain, i'm always here to listen." Fluttershy promised.
Strider looked at Fluttershy for a few seconds, before cracking a faint smile. He took the helmet out of Fluttershy's outstretched hooves and positioned it in the correct way for him to put on. But before he did, he stared at Fluttershy right in the eyes.
"Thanks." He said, before putting the helmet over his head, shielding his expression from the outside world.
The two stood up from where they were sitting at the dock, before walking back in the direction of Fluttershy's cottage, the moon lighting their path.
Strider set a crate down outside of a small wooden shed that was behind Fluttershy's cottage. Strider glanced over the exterior of the shed, seeing what state it was in. Still, as long as it had a roof, it would be better then waking up to another prank that Angel Bunny pulled on him, even with Fluttershy claiming that Angel had claimed to stop.
Strider reached for the door knob and turned it, waiting for a click before he pushed it. The door creaked due to the rusty hinges and wood that scraped across the ground, but the door did fully open.
The interior surrounded in darkness due to the lack of windows, but one flick on Strider's helmet's head lamp sent a wave of light into the shed and brightening it up.
Strider could see a few spare two by fours against the right wall as well as a single rusty gardening tool. A little lamp dangled over a single wooden chair that rested on its side in the middle of the room, most likely due to one of the legs being broken.
Strider picked up the chair and went over to the side of the shed, planing on setting it against the wall.
"Well, this place is better then having to be watched by that--" Strider trailed off as the wall he had leaned the chair on broke, sending the chair and part of the wall falling outside.
"--bunny..." Strider finished.
Strider half expected to see Angel Bunny holding a power tool when he poked his head out of the new hole, but the bunny was nowhere to bee seen.However, he did notice that the leaves on the trees had changed colors, some red, some orange and some yellow.
"How did I not notice that until now?" Strider wondered to himself as he backed away from the hole. One thing was for certain, he needed was another set of tools,
Strider walked over to a crate he had set down and unhitched a rectangular pouch from his utility belt. He set it down on the crate's lid and opened the pouch, letting its content spill out.
Several shiny golden bits clattered across the lid, some nearly falling off the edges. Strider counted the amount of bits that he had which ended up being twenty-seven.
"Hmm, hopefully this should be enough." Strider muttered to himself, scooping the bits back into the rectangular pouch and putting it back on his utility belt.
Strider quickly exited the shed and began walking towards Ponyville. Hopefully someone sells some good tools for the amount of bits he still had.
Strider had maybe set four feet into Ponyville when he noticed a large amount of ponies trotting together towards the end of town.
"What's with the commotion?" Strider wondered, walking over towards the group of ponies.
"Where are you all going?" Strider questioned to a yellow furred pegasus with a blue mane and tail.
"Were heading to Sweet Apple Acres for the Iron Pony competition. This is the first one to happen in years!" The pony claimed happily, quickly rushing away to catch up with the crowd.
Strider watched as the crowd of ponies left town and trotted down a path that had a sign next to it labeled Sweet Apple Acres.
"Hopefully that competition doesn't shut down all the stands." Strider said out loud, noting how quiet the town was and how many ponies were heading towards the farm.
Strider turned away from where the ponies were going and walked towards town square, quickly noticing the lack of ponies around the area. Strider looked around, trying to spot any stand or store that showed any sign of tools. But just as he had feared, most of them had closed signs or were completely empty.
"Come on, give a trooper his weaponry." Strider muttered.
Then, he spotted it. A store that had a sign hanging above the door that showed the image of a hammer and a wrench. Perfect! Surely that store has the correct tools.
Strider quickly rushed over to the store and went to open the door, but it didn't budge. Strider tried again but the door stood its ground.
Only then did Strider notice the Closed sign that was hanging on the other side of the glass part of the door.
"Dang it," Strider muttered under his breath, before walking away from the closed shop. "Surely some shop is still open around here."
Strider looked around the town for a while, not giving up. But to his disappointment, no other stores seemed to sell any tools. He did however spot something else.
Strider walked over to a single story building that rested in front of a set of train tracks. A small deck area stood between the tracks and the building, the only thing on it was a single bench.
Strider hoped onto the deck and walked over to a glass window/booth. The booth was being managed by a stallion with grey fur and a black mane and tail.
The Stallion quickly noticed the Trooper and put down a newspaper he had been reading.
"Hello! You must be that friend of Fluttershy's. What brings you here?" The Stallion asked.
"I was passing by when I spotted this place and a question rolled into my mind. How much would it be for a ticket that takes me to Canterlot and back here?" Strider questioned.
The Stallion reached below the desk he was behind and retrieved a piece of paper. He set it on the outstretched bit of wood on the glass and pushed the paper through the opening.
"That's a list of every station that the Friendship Express takes. The number of bits for each trip is to the side." The Stallion exclaimed.
"Thanks." Strider said as he picked the paper up and walked over to the bench.
Strider sat down on the bench and began looking at the paper, quickly making out the rail to Canterlot as a purple line that went from Ponyville right to the Capitol. Strider then looked over at the information about the line.
"Distance is fifty-k, time estimated to arrive at destination is around five hours, train arrives at Ponyville Station every---" Strider continued to mumble as he read, focusing on finding the key information he needed.
It didn't take long before he finally found how much a ticket would cost.
"twenty bits for a one way trip..." Strider muttered, looking at the number on the paper.
A few seconds rolled by as Strider stared blankly at the numbers.