Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader!

by RaisingShad0ws

First published

Cutie Mark Crusaders Power Rangers Yay!

My Entry for the NaPoWriMo, this is my first huge huge story that I have written and posted like this.
The Premise is in the first chapter, and I hope that I can explain everything as the story is read. Thanks for taking the time to read it, as I have really worked hard on it and appreciate it.

Bedtime Stories and Nightmares

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Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader! The Prologue Movie the Book Yay!

By: Raising Shadows

The Premise: The tale of The Greatest Crusader is a tale as old as the Princesses themselves. A symbol of the light of Equestria, his adventures were legendary. However, bad blood doesn’t dissipate over time and eventually one snaps into insanity. A Pony with a mad desire, to make all of the, “lesser races,” submit to Equine rule and overthrow the Immortal Princesses. However, with a little luck, and perhaps the fates to guide them, five fillies and one colt will save the Elements of Harmony, Equestria’s reputation, and the world itself. All while trying to find their Cutie Marks. However, will their small size prevent them from their mission? And will the bad ponies get their comeuppance? Read on my dears, as the legend awaits.

A/N: The references to certain shows in this story are not owned by me. Also, the names of certain characters do not belong to me as I did not create the universe of the fandom from which they are from. All credit goes to the authors and creators of the said shows and the said universes.

Chapter 1

-Bedtime Stories and Nightmares -

Quiet and unnerving. That was what the night was to most of the soldiers on the exploration ships from Equestria thought. Though the beauty of Princess Luna’s moon hung above their heads, and the waters weren’t necessarily harsh and un-manageable, it seemed to the ponies that there was something not right in the world.

“I don’ like it.” One pegasus pony, Stoutwind, nickered as he stared out into the horizon. He was clad in a full set of special made pegasi chain armor, which glimmered in the torch light from where he stood on the right side of the ship. On the first glance, his coat would have been mistaken for orange in the light, but it was a sort of golden color like one would see on a pie. Flecks of his blue mane fluttered a little as a gentle sea breeze fluttered through the folds of the leather helmet he wore. “The Captain could be leading us off of the edge of the world for Faust’s sake and we don’t even know it.”

“And you suspect that you could do a better job?” A voice asked. Stoutwind looked down onto the deck of the ship and could see one of the unicorn ponies on the Night Watch lying down for a moment. Stoutwind turned his attention to the unicorn, seeing his snow white coat and dark gray mane against the dark bronze colored armor he wore. The unicorn’s horn was glowing, which held up the torch with a rim of blue colored magic. Stoutwind could also see that the unicorn’s cutie mark was a simple map with a bright red X in the middle, indicating that it was a treasure map of some kind.

“No, I wasn’t saying that.” Stoutwind retorted.

“What were you saying then?” The unicorn lazily asked, standing up and leaning his front hooves from across the oak railing.

“I was just saying that... Look, it doesn’t matter what I was saying. Somethin’ in deep down in me wings tells me that there’s somethin’ out there.” He snorted, staring at the unicorn crossly. “Besides, there’s not a bit o’ gold in all th’ world ta make me feel better about doin’ this thing.” Stoutwind went back to gazing out at the sea, still feeling uneasy about how the night was acting around him.

“And I thought that I had seen everything!” The unicorn exclaimed in a whisper, chuckling a little. “A pegasus, scared of something that’s been beyond his control!”

“You callin’ me a coward?” Stoutwind asked, glaring at the still chuckling stallion next to him.

“No friend, I’m saying that you are a smart one. You aren’t the only one who’s nervous about the past few days.” The unicorn answered flatly. “Trust somepony with a few years of experience, don’t let your fears control you, but don’t let them go. It’s the only thing that will keep you alive long enough to see your work in this service come to some kind of advantage. The name’s Steel. Tempered Steel at your service.”

“Well then, why are you here?” Stoutwind asked him.

“Oh, I suppose to let you know that the time for the shift of the guard is to change. I’ll be taking over. Get some rest lad.” Tempered Steel replied honestly, watching the pegasi’s expression change.

“Oh, well thank’ee kindly. I mean, I do need some time ta relax a little. Maybe even get some sleep before dawn.” Stoutwind said, stretching. He watched as the unicorn smiled gently, before flying off and down to where the crew slept.

As soon as Stoutwind was gone, Tempered Steel grinned darkly. “Now that the watch is gone, the ship is totally defenseless. Soon the treasure of Grimclaw the Terrible will be mine!” He thought viciously.


“And that’s the story for tonight.”

“Aww... But Mommy what happens?” A small, dark green unicorn foal with a blue mane and tail asked from his bed, looking up at his mother with a tired smile. His mother a bright yellow unicorn with an orange mane and tail smiled as she closed a heavy leather bound book, her amber eyes glowing in the gentle lantern light.

“Well, you won’t find out unless you behave and go to sleep mister.” The foal’s mother scolded playfully. “And all good little crusaders need their sleep.” Her horn flared up with a pink aura, tucking her son in underneath the covers of the bed.

Their surroundings weren’t much, a small bedroom with a small bookcase on the opposing side of the room which was carved into the hill that they lived under. The bed that the foal was currently laying in was not much bigger than he was; ends of his tail were visible underneath the blanket that draped over the side of the bed. There wasn’t much in the forms of color; most of their surroundings in the light were a dark and muddy brown, which would have made the room bleak and miserable for most foals.

“Mommy?” The foal asked, stifling a yawn as he tried to remain awake.

“Yes Utopian dear?” His mother replied, watching her colt fall asleep.

“Do you think that I could be a great crusader some day?” Utopian asked, snuggling on the only pillow that his room had.

“Well, if you are already. You’re my little great crusader Utopian.” She said, kissing him on the cheek before getting up from a stool that she had brought in from another room. “Now I’ll see you in the morning. Good night my little crusader.” She said, blowing out the lantern and picking it up with her magic.

Utopian watched as his mother trotted calmly out of the door, before snuggling into the comforts of his own bed. His parents didn’t think that he knew about there situation, about how poor they were after his father was fired from his job for something he didn’t do, but he knew. Utopian wasn’t a simple foal who would ignore things that were above his head, he was one of those who did his part to help around the house. No task was turned down, whether it was helping out with the brick layers in downtown Applewood, or it was running food down to the railroad builders in the mountains that essentially sealed off Applewood from the rest of Equestria.

But Utopian was also a foal with a dream. He wanted to live like a rich pony, like a pony who had money. He wanted to be seen in Canterlot as a very important pony, one of the most important ones second to Princess Celestia. He had heard of how his father was one day going to make things better for him and his mom, and how he was going to buy them a house in Canterlot, but the, “Nightmare Moon Damned Griffons,” kept hounding him from sunrise to sunset.

As Utopian stared blankly at the ceiling, he could hear from deeper into his house the sounds of his mother coughing. That was another thing that made Utopian want to help out. The shape of their, “Castle under the hill,” was taking its toll on his mother. Medicine was expensive, even for herbal remedies that one could find in a Zebra’s stall. And even though there were plenty of Zebra in the area, Applewood was not only Equestria’s Cinematic Capitol of the World but the prime location for immigration, most weren’t willing to share their remedies unless you asked the right ponies and had the right amount of coin.

The unicorn colt’s life was far from perfect. Well, by most standards anyways, but he was still glad to have his family. And still glad that there was something that he was wanted for.

As he drifted off onto the realms of the dream world, a loud banging immediately shook him awake. Utopian heard his father shout something that sounded like a cross between a roar and a groan, “I’m comin’, I’m comin’,” and heard hoofsteps head towards the front door. The young foal climbed out of bed after throwing the small blanket off of himself and galloped to his bedroom door as fast as his hooves would carry him.

After waiting a few moments and hearing the deadbolt on the front door of his house unlock, Utopian quietly opened the door and poked his head outside. To his left, was his parent’s room, dark and quiet as it ever could have been. His right however was a different story.

Against a cold, black night sky, visible only through the open front door stood an intimidating creature. Its body was covered in black feathers as its front legs ended in razor sharp talons. A thin, whip-like tail calmly hung from the back of the beast as a set of paws meant for a lion made up its hind legs. The creature’s head was covered in white feathers, as a simple black eye patch covered its right eye. Several scars adorned the creature’s beak as its amber eye darted from inside the beast’s skull.

“Shadowfang, what do you want?” Utopian’s father, an all black unicorn stallion with an onyx colored stone for a cutie mark asked.

“Ahh... Strip Miner. What a pleasant surprise. I thought I might’ve found you here.” The creature hissed with an icy venom, extending one of his claws out to his father. Utopian watched his father take it nervously, before backing down and trembling.

“I see that you’ve cut yourself a nice hole in the ground here. I just hope that it lasts.” The creature called Shadowfang scoffed, looking in the home with his available eye.

“What do you want Shadowfang?” Utopian’s father snapped, getting irritated.

“Well, I came here to let you know that there’s a job that the don wants you to do...” Shadowfang’s eye rested on the stallion before him. “You figure with all of the pegasi he’s sent onto their turf, something would have gotten done to take care of it. But I guess, a unicorn has to get this job done.”

Utopian’s father shook his head. “I told your boss that I’ll have no part of his mafia any more. I’ve already taken too many lives; I have a family now and have a foal to raise. I-”

“You’ll do as you’re told.” Shadowfang said curtly, glaring at the stallion. “Lest you want anything to happen to your family. I mean, cures for Haystack Fever are hard to come by when there done right. And I mean you do care for Amber don’t you?” Shadowfang asked, watching the color fade from Strip Miner’s coat.

“Wh-What does he want me to do?” Strip Miner asked, defeat hanging in his voice.

“Come now, no need to look so glum. It’s just this one job and you won’t have to see me or anypony else related to the Don again.” Shadowfang replied. “In fact, you do this job right, and I may even see to it that dame of yours get’s taken care of. Now let’s go, you don’t want to keep the Don waiting.” He said, ushering the unicorn pony out into the night. Utopian could only watch as a wicked smile came across the griffin’s face as he closed the door with his tail, chuckling a little as he did so.

That was the last time Utopian would ever see his father. The following morning, several officers from the Applewood Police Department came to his home, reporting the news to his mother. Utopian couldn’t believe it; he was going to help them out of the mess that they were in someday. But just as he contemplated the loss of his father, his mother collapsed. Right on the floor, while the officers were there. She was dead before they even got the chance to finish the tea she had given them.

In that blink of an eye, Utopian’s world was shattered. He wouldn’t hear about how he was a good pony any more from his mother. He wouldn’t be able to hear stories about how his father was going to turn things around in their life. The foal was all alone, and had nopony to care for him. A foal’s worst nightmare.

Utopian’s life then went on a downward spiral from then on. He didn’t know of any relatives that would take him in, his father never really spoke of them much, and any foster home that he was placed in treated him worse than a rampaging manticore. There were days when his life brightened, but they were spent lost in his book, “The Legends of the Great Crusader,” as it was the only thing that kept his foalhood alive.

It all changed when he had gotten his Cutie Mark. It was at a time when nopony wanted to respect him at all. Utopian was sitting outside his home in Canterlot, a very strict and disciplined unicorn family from the well-to-do side of the city had adopted him a few months after his parents died, and waited for his, “Father,” to come home from his post in guarding the palace. Utopian had developed an utter distaste for both the blond-maned cherry colored pegasus mare that dared to take his mother’s place inside the desolate two-story mansion behind him, but could do nothing but wait for the soldier to come home.

As Celestia’s sun descended towards the horizon, he could see the stallion slowly trudge down towards the house from the main street that led from the palace. He was a tired and battle-hardened unicorn whose light blue mane and brown coat clashed with the banged up and damaged golden armor that he wore. The stallion also had several bruises in his face where the results of training and failure to perform were administered on him.

Utopian stood and watched quietly, not moving from where he stood on the small front lawn at his adopted parents’ home. The stallion calmly trudged past the front gate and stopped, staring at the small unicorn colt curiously.

“An’ whadd’re you ere’ for boy?” He asked quickly, glaring at Utopian.

“Ms. Stone told me to come out-” Utopian began before getting cut of by an armored hoof to the face.

“Wha’ did I tell yeh about that? Yer our colt now and yeh goin’ to bucking act like it.” His adopted father snapped.

“You didn’t give birth to me...” Utopian mumbled, purposefully loud enough to where his adopted father could hear.

“Wha’s that?” He snapped, stamping his hoof down on the ground hard. The front door to there home opened wide, revealing Utopian’s adopted mother on the other side.

“Skipping Stone is that you?” The pegasus mare asked, a small tray balanced perfectly on her head.

“Yeah Innocence, it’s me.” The unicorn replied. “I was just askin’ what Junior was out ere’ for, an’ he’s about to get started wif me again.”

“You didn’t give birth to me, you didn’t raise me, heck you don’t even treat me like a regular pony. Why should I show you any respect?” Utopian snapped, unable to control himself.

“Hey hey hey hey!” Both adults snapped, glaring at Utopian like he was a sort of hardened criminal.

“You lissen ere’ colt, an’ you lissen good. Yer no good father was nuthin but a bum. A right ole’ bum.” Skipping Stone snapped, his horn flaring up with a light red aura and wrapping Utopian around with his magic.

“Yer mom was a useless wench.” Innocence continued from inside the house.

“They didn’t care for you, like we do. They didn’t love you enough to stay with you all these years. I mean what did you expect when one was involved with the mob, and the other died because she was too sick to even help herself?” Innocence said, setting the tray down and watching as Utopian was flung inside by Skipping Stone’s magic.

“Nopony wants ya’. Nopony needs ya, heck Faust hasn’t even decided about yer cutie mark yet. Yer useless to this world, an’ it was fate’s job to give you to us.” Skipping Stone snapped, glaring at Utopian. He laughed, picking up the unicorn’s book with his magic and grinned. “The Legends of The Great Crusader? I was ne’er one fer books meself, but you seem to like this ere’ book more than you like tha’ two ponies who only give to bucks about you so,” The Unicorn smiled wickedly, watching as Utopian’s eyes went wide. After a bit of concentration, more on casting the spell than to restrain Utopian, the leather bound book that Utopian treasured more than life itself was on fire. “Enjoy it now.” He said plainly, levitating the burning book in front of Utopian’s face.

As the small colt leapt to grab his book with his hooves, only to have it yanked out of the way, something buried deep with in him snapped. With each successive leap, he got more manic, and angrier. His hatred from his past few years of life, his misery of being forced from one foster home to another, and his new desire for his book to be back safe in his hooves all began to boil over until-

“STOP.” Utopian bellowed, his horn blazing with a pulsing green light.

The next few moments hung in the air forever. Nothing seemed to make a sound. Skipping Stone’s magic seemed to flicker and fade for a few seconds as the book descended from its grasp. Utopian lunged for the book and immediately proceeded to stamp out the flames as his adopted father stood there, non-moving in the hall with a blank expression in his eyes.

After a few moments the older unicorn looked down and glared, his horn flared up with magic again. Utopian struggled, watching as the aura surrounded him with his book and gave his adopted father a determined glare.

“NO. YOU WILL NOT TAKE THIS FROM ME.” Utopian bellowed again, his horn flaring up a second time.

Skipping stone stopped, his horn stopped glowing as he dropped Utopian to the floor. He staggered a bit before shaking his head. Utopian’s horn continued to glow as the older unicorn continued to tremble. “I... I... I...” He uttered, trembling shakily as his voice slowly went in and out of sync.

“Honey... Skipping Stone what’s wrong?” Innocence asked, looking at her husband nervously.

“I... I will not take that from him...” Skipping Stone answered in almost a trance-like voice.

Before anypony could realize what had happened, Utopian was nowhere to be found. Only small, damaged bits of his book remained as he left the house and set off on his own. He couldn’t explain his magic, he didn’t care at the time, but whatever he had done to his father felt good. It felt really good.

And he was prepared to do it again if necessary.

Utopian spent the rest of his foalhood on the run, going from town to town and city to city and learning how to control
his powers and eventually began to understand what his cutie mark meant.

It was during this epiphany that he had found out there was some truths to the stories of the Greatest Crusader. Truths that were forever at one point made to be sealed away for the good of the four-legged populace for all of time.

It was in that book that contained the exact coordinates of getting to what was known as the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible, an ancient Griffin Sphinx that had plans on remaking the world in his own image. An image where the Griffin Race was the territorial power in their world and not the ponies. The stories told of a grand and golden temple, wrought with fountains aplenty and acres of the finest meals that could ever be seen. No mortal except the Greatest Crusader was ever thought to have found it, and supposedly after his passing none ever would again.

Utopian sat drifting for days, awash on a sea of mental desperation. He had no home, he had no friends or family, he had nothing to rely on. He was at the literal bottom of the barrel in Equestrian society, and had nopony to fall back on.

The unicorn then remembered that there was something he could do to change things. “If I can’t ask for help in getting me the ultimate powers of the God of Griffins, then I’ll make the fools help me.” He thought deviously, settling off with a new goal in mind.

The New Pegasus In Town

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Chapter 2

-The new pegasus in town-

“Crimson Heart, report.” A dark and emotionless voice commanded. Three uniquely different, and extremely dangerous ponies stood in the middle of a small mansion’s office. A fire glowed and crackled in the fire place, causing an extremely high-backed chair to cast a long shadow to the wall. The walls were stained oak, and gleamed with pristine beauty, shimmering as though they were made carefully by the princess herself.

A dark brown pegasus pony lowered himself onto the blood red and black carpets before bowing low on his hooves. His pale red mane and tail seemed to droop across the floor like a sort of graceful motion, only stopping as they touched the floor. His cutie mark, a torn Equestrian Battle Flag, was worn on his flank like a proud scar as if he had recently been in a battle of some kind. “My Lord Utopian,” He hissed, his sinister voice slowly dragging on each syllable like they were venomous ice cubes, “The scouts report that there is nothing that has alerted Celestia or Luna to our activity. The eastern diamond quarry workers were successfully driven out without so much as an ounce of resistance.”

“Good. You have done your job well Crimson Heart.” Utopian said through a mock ounce of praise. “Serene Grace, has production begun in our store houses?” He asked calmly.

A slightly taller-than-average unicorn with a pale blue mane and tail and a cutie mark in the shape of a light behind a willow tree followed Crimson Heart’s suit. “Yes milord. The construction and mobilization process is acting as scheduled. We’ll be ahead of schedule with Crimson Heart’s securing of the quarry, and our forces will be battle ready by the time your ascension begins.” She reported.

“Excellent. Tuff Stuff, are our armies prepared?” The cold voice asked from behind the chair.

The last of the three ponies, a dark blue earth pony with a black mane and tail bowed low, out of the three he was the largest roughly the size of an infant Manticore, and had the strength that was rumored to rival an Ursa Major on a rampage. “My lord, the maggots that have been sworn to our cause train night and day. They will be ready when the fighting begins.” Tuff Stuff reported.

“If it ever does begin.” Crimson Heart uttered darkly.

“Something troubles you Crimson Heart?” They all heard Utopian ask, causing even the massive earth pony to tremble.

Neither Serene Grace nor Tuff Stuff said a word as Crimson Heart bowed low again. “My apologies lord, but it has been a while since my hooves have tasted blood. I yearn for the thrill of combat again, and only wish to see your enemies stamped out.” The pegasus shuddered as the sounds of dark laughter began to emanate from behind the chair. He could have sworn that he hadn’t said anything remotely funny, but that wasn’t on his list of primary concerns at the moment.

“You haven’t changed from the murderous monster that was locked up in the Canterlot Dungeons when I found you years ago.” Utopian commented, calming down.

The three ponies watched the wall in front of the chair as it began to glow with a faint green light. A small spot on the floor to the right of the chair then began to glow with the same light, opening up as a small end table rose from its depths. On top of it was a charred and extremely damaged book that appeared to have seen better days.

“The time for bloodshed will come soon Crimson Heart. Your psychotic side will get its fill.” Utopian said in a reassuring voice. “When the Harvest moon rises, and the cries of torment from a thousand souls is heard across the nation of Equestria... When the skies darken and lightning rampages beyond the control of the pegasi... And when the skies shimmer with the beauty of a thousand of Luna’s nights... That’s when the time will come. That’s when the ascension will begin.”

“But what of the Elements of Harmony milord?” Serene Grace asked nervously, her eyes staring in wonder as she saw the green light envelope the book and take it behind the chair. “When the Signs of Ascension come to pass, wouldn’t the Princesses send them to keep that power safe?”

Utopian chuckled again. “That is of no matter Serene Grace. The Elements of Harmony will not be able to stop this. Especially when they have a role to play in this design as much as you do.”

“So you won’t let her raze Ponyville to the ground then milord?” Tuff Stuff asked bluntly.

There was silence for a few moments, but it wasn’t normal. The book was floated back to the side table as the gentle sounds of the fire crackling in the fireplace hung in the air. Tuff Stuff shifted nervously in his spot, realizing what he had just asked and fell silent. Nopony spoke a word as they could hear the sounds of Utopian climbing out of the chair. He calmly trotted around the left hand side of the chair and smiled wickedly.

“And what makes you suggest that I would deny one of my top generals a chance to right an offense made to her?” The dark green unicorn asked. Utopian wasn’t the same foal he was several years ago, he was different. His coat was racked with scars that could have only been done by darker magicks, and his tail was shorter than what was considered normal for a pony. He eyed Tuff Stuff, and watched him shift in his spot again.

“I just assumed milord that the Elements of Harmony were essential to the plan and-”

“Yes I understand that you assumed they were essential. The Elements of Harmony are essential to the plan.” Utopian said coolly to the earth pony. “But what you forget General, is that I do not treat those who have served me well like common tools. Serene Grace has earned her desire to destroy that pathetic country town, and I have given her permission to make examples of the Elements of Harmony when and only when our plan is complete. Just like how I’ll make you the Commander in Chief of my armies, or how I’ll make Crimson Heart the head of my police force.”

“I thank you milord. Blueblood is a fool for trying to seek justice through the Princesses.” Serene Grace bowed low as Utopian extended his hoof.

“Yes, I knew that you all had scores to settle with our beloved diarchy. And settled they shall be. But for now, stay true in the shadows and act not like the fools in the sun. Is that clear?” Utopian asked, watching as the three ponies all bowed at once.

“Yes milord. The shadows protect you, the shadows protect the strong!” They all replied at once.

Utopian nodded. “Now, you will receive your orders at your place of residence. Until that time, contact will not be necessary unless it’s urgent. I bid you all good day.” He said, giving each of his generals a curt nod before watching them disappear with a bright flash of light. As soon as they were all gone, Utopian turned to his left and trotted towards the wall. After a gentle tap of his hoof, the room began to change. Walls started to rearrange themselves, furniture began to move up from the floor, the fireplace disappeared only to be replaced by a collection of classic Equestrian Literature, and a pair of doors began to appear from the wall behind him.

After a few moments, Utopian stared calmly out onto the streets of the Equestrian capitol. From his position he could see the Griffin Consulate and several other important buildings that he promised to demolish when his plan came to fruition. He could see families of all sorts playing and enjoying each others company, running around from street to street, and some going from one of their personal appointments to the next blissfully without a care in the world. “Soon... Soon I’ll have my revenge on what the world did to me.” He thought.

As Utopian continued to stare out onto the pleasant scene below, his ears twitched at the sound of a gentle hoof knocking against his door. Mentally he cursed himself, as he knew who was on the other side. In his calmest voice, one that he could only muster when he was speaking with the Princesses, he said, “Come.”

At first he heard nothing and figured that he had frightened the one who would be so foalish to invade in his personal
thoughts. After a few moments, he could hear the sounds of one of the doors behind him open and close quickly which caused him to turn around.

Utopian stopped, his cold glance staring at a dark purple pegasus foal who had looked like he had stumbled into the wrong part of town. The foal’s navy mane had covered part of his face, save for the blue eyes that he was staring at him with now. Utopian snorted, watching as the foal immediately jumped before bowing low to the ground, leaving his blank flank visible.

“I-I-I’m ready t-t-to go f-father.” The foal said, remaining quiet.

“You are Task Force? I thought I had told you that we wouldn’t be leaving until later this afternoon.” Utopian said, looking down on the pegasus foal angrily.

“Y-you did father. B-but I-”

“You acted without my saying so. I told you we would be waiting this afternoon and you had the gall to act without so much as a second thought. I am very disappointed in you.” Utopian snapped, cutting the foal off. “It would be a fitting punishment for me to cancel your trip to go see your mother. But, due to the divorce I can’t do that.” He paused, watching a small glimpse of fear grace the young foal’s eyes. “However, I can punish you anyways for as long as you are in this house you are my foal.”

The pegasus foal didn’t say anything, though his expression was less than thankful. Utopian eyed him closely before nodding. “I see that the weight of your impatience has been well understood. I expect a report...” Utopian said, pausing as he did so. An idea formulated in his head. “I expect a report while you are away on how impatience can affect the modern ponies’ life. And I want it on this desk first thing when you get back. There will be dire consequences should you not have it done before then. Is that clear?”

“Y-Yes daddy,” Task Force answered, only to go pale and clasp his hooves over his mouth as though he said a curse word. “I mean father.”

Utopian’s eyes narrowed. “Well then, for that little remark you can march straight to your room and stay there until it’s time to leave. I have told you a thousand times, I am not your buddy; I am not your friend. I am your father. And that is what you are to call me.”

“But it was-”

“I don’t care what it was.” Utopian snapped, glaring at the pegasus foal angrily. “You will do what I say and there will be no argument. Now get to your room until I come to fetch you. Is that understood?” He snapped, seeing the pegasus foal nod slowly.

The foal made no other sounds, nor did he make a complaint. Quietly he turned around and trotted over to the door behind him and opened it. Task Force gave one last look at his father before quietly disappearing behind it. As the door finally shut, silence returned to Utopian’s meeting room. He turned back around and continued to glare out into the public square sprawled out in front of him.

To say that Utopian and Task Force had a strained relationship was to say that bears didn’t like honey or unicorns could use magic. Ever since the foal was born Utopian wished for a unicorn to carry on his legacy should he ever fail in his design. However when the foal was taken home from the hospital, Utopian saw that even that dream was set in shambles.

His planned regimens for a unicorn foal; advanced lessons with magical tutors, combat training with trained castle veterans, and advanced techno-magicks with his own personal tutelage had gone down the drain. Immediately Utopian had begun to despise the pegasus, and pushed him harder and harder than any other foals would have been trained. He could have sworn that Task Force recognized that he hated him, but Utopian always pushed the thought aside like one would with unimportant dates.

Quietly the unicorn turned to his desk, viewing his itinerary for that day. “It would seem that I can move things around just so I can get Task Force out of my mane for once. But that would look suspicious.” Utopian thought, using a free hoof to rub his temples. “At least it’s only for the whole summer. That way I won’t have to deal with the foal during my rise to power.” Utopian groaned, glaring at the door that the foal left from. “His mother wouldn’t mind if he stayed back for a few more hours. After all, her life amongst the common ponies has removed all sense of self respect from her. What a shame.”

As his father remained in the office of their small Canterlot home, Task Force silently trotted to his room. It wasn’t too much, bigger than one of the storage closets that he was used to seeing in the big buildings in Canterlot that his father worked at, and it had a bed and dresser like normal foals rooms but it was missing all of the warmth and security that supposedly went with staying at home.

Quietly the foal closed the door behind him and threw himself on the bed, forcing himself to keep quiet. His father told him on more than one occasion that crying was for weaklings, and that the world wouldn’t tolerate weak ponies. “Father really doesn’t want me to leave...” Task force thought, staring at the door that was next to his small bed. “But I haven’t seen mommy in ages. And I get to stay with her this whole summer. I’ve been a good pony haven’t I?” He thought, flipping over and staring at the ceiling. “Of course I have. I’ve stayed out of Father’s way, I’ve done everything he’s told me to do, and I’ve been a really good pony.”

The door opened immediately, which startled the pegasus into standing at attention. His father stood, glaring at him in an imposing manner, making the tension so thick that you could cut it with a knife.

“I have to run to the office downtown.” Task Force’s father said calmly. “You are not to leave this house. You are not to touch anything that I own, and you are to be ready to leave by the time I get back. Is this clear young colt?” He asked, watching the pegasus nod.

“Yes father.” Task Force replied quietly.

“Good. I should be back in an hour.” His father said, turning away from the pegasus and heading towards the front door. “I will see you when I return.” He said finally, shutting the door behind him.

As soon as his father left, Task Force quickly trotted over to the bottom shelf of his dresser and opened it. At the very bottom, beneath a set of books involving the ways that things were built he pulled out a small black case. It wasn’t very big, big enough to hide in his saddle bag, but it held the best thing in the world in his opinion. You see, several years ago about the time when his mother and father split up, Task Force found a set of seven small bronze colored hoof wristwatches. They were slightly busted, and looked like they could do more than just tell the time, but they were something more in their own right.

He tried getting his father to fix them, only to have the older unicorn call them, “Pieces of junk,” and nearly threw them away. Task Force wanted to keep them for himself, just because they were special. Or at least he felt that they were. It was then that he had started to try and get them to work, doing everything in his power and under the sun inside his father’s home to refurbish and remake them work. By the time he had his sixth birthday he managed to not only make the watches worse by his father’s standards, but he managed to make something special happen. On that day, while he was working on the watches, a simple spark of light came from all seven watches and zapped him. Task Force didn’t know what it meant, but he thought that the watches were something more.

“Mommy wouldn’t mind if I tried fixing these at her house.” Task Force thought, closing the case of his treasures. “Mommy knows that I’m a good pony. She says that all the time.”

The young foal turned to his saddlebag at the other side of the room. The all black bag was filled only with the books that his father had said was important for a foal to know. From “The Great Arts,” By Solidor of the Ram Empire to, “The Magnificence of War,” by Precise Strike, it was enough to make even an adult’s head spin. Task Force read them all, but not because he wanted to. It was only because he wanted to make something impossible happen, he wanted to make his father happy.

As the foal rearranged the occupants of his saddlebags until his case could fit inside, he could hear the gentle sounds of water being flushed from the water system in their home. Task Force shuddered every time he heard it, as it always seemed to sound like a monster when it happened. It was another thing that his father had wanted him to be but he was incapable of, being brave. According to his father, the foals his age would have laughed at him due to being the only foal his age that not only didn’t have a Cutie Mark, but was scared of everything that moved.

As the pegasus foal kept up with the task, he looked back on his life and thought about where things went bad. Well as bad as a foal could have them anyways. His parents were divorced, and apparently his mother had cleaned his father out of almost everything except the things she didn’t know about. Then there were the three strange ponies that he had heard his father speak to not a few minutes before he left. His dad didn’t meet them until a few months afterwards, and now they were almost inseparable. Not only would they be together most of the time, but they seemed to do things in complete secret, like they wanted to keep things to themselves until whatever it was that they were talking about happened.

Task Force didn’t concern himself with it as much as he thought he should have. He wasn’t allowed in his father’s study, or anywhere else in the house that wasn’t his own room, the Kitchen or the bathroom. It was another one of those things that he had to deal with in the process of living with his father, but it was tolerable. The rest of their home wasn’t interesting anyways.

“Now I just need to wait for father to come home.” The pegasus said, closing the latch on his saddlebag and trotting back over to his bed. He stretched out his wings before laying down, his tiny body excited for all of the adventures that he planned on having while living with his mother. She was the biggest thing that Task Force missed about her. It wasn’t just the fact that there wasn’t any life in the house that he and his dad lived in now that she was gone, it seemed that when she left the house, all of the rest of the world seemed to fade into nonexistence. The foal wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything, and the last thing that he could remember was being escorted from the Elementary School every day until it let out ever since then.

After a long, and boring, hour passed, Task Force could hear what sounded like his father’s hoofsteps enter the house. The young foal leapt from his bed and stood at attention as the front door to his room opened.

“Are you ready to go?” Task Force’s Father asked.

“Yes father.” The foal answered.

“Well then, get your saddlebag and let’s go.” His father ordered, watching the foal run to the bag and put it on. The older unicorn turned, walking across the small entryway that their home had and opened the door. Task Force shielded his eyes for a moment, before reopening them to a world of color.

As both father and son stepped out from the gloomy building, the foal tried to contain himself from the sights and the sounds. The colors of the flowers in their front lawn were bright and beautiful, the grass shone like emerald blades, even the all black coach that they were trotting to appeared to have been a work of art.

“Are you going to the train station sir?” One of the coach pullers asked, looking down on the excited foal and smiling.

“Yes. We’re headed to the train station, and I need you to get us there as soon as we can.” Utopian answered, opening the coach door with his magic.

With a little help from one of the Coach pullers, and a few, “encouraging words,” from his father, Task Force climbed into the coach and marveled out in the daylight covered world from the window.

“Task Force, quit staring.” The foal heard his father order him. The little pegasus sat back down in his seat and looked back down at his hooves as his father climbed in the back of the coach with him.

“Sorry father.” Task Force said quietly.

“Yes, well before we get too far along I expect you to be on your best behavior. Is that clear?” Utopian asked, watching the foal look up.

“Yes father.” Task Force answered.

“And what does that mean?” Utopian asked calmly.

“That means that I’m not allowed to talk to any of the common ponies regardless of who they are, I’m not allowed to leave the house under any circumstances and... uh...” Task Force began, trying to think of something else that his father told him.

“And that there’s no such thing as being friends with somepony.” Utopian said, reminding the foal. “There are ponies out there who will use you and do terrible things to you out in this world of ours. You are not to talk to anypony, you are not to look at anypony in the eyes, and most of all you are not even to acknowledge anypony in this... Ponyville. Is that clear?” Utopian asked.

“Yes father.” Wonderwing replied.

“Good, now let’s try to behave ourselves shall we?” He asked, falling immediately silent.

The coach ride to the train station was bearable, to say the least. Task Force’s father didn’t even have to say a thing when they got to the station. After a ride on the train which took at least several hours to get there, the foal could see the small town at the base of the hill and began grinning despite himself.

“I’ll allow him this pass. He hasn’t seen his mother in a while now.” Utopian thought, seeing the small grin before beginning to stare out into the small country town before him.

As soon as the train pulled into the station, and came to a complete stop, Task Force and his father stepped off the boarding platform. Almost instantly the foal galloped and leapt at a bright green Unicorn with a yellow mane. “Mommy!” He cried, wrapping his front legs around the unicorn as the unicorn did the same.

“Hello my little Wonderwing. How have you been?” The unicorn asked sweetly, pecking the pegasus foal on the cheek.

“I’ve been really good mommy! I couldn’t wait to see you!” The foal said excitedly, hearing a content laugh from the older unicorn.

“It’s been a long time Flower Petal.” Utopian said, trotting over to the reuniting mother and foal through the crowds of ponies that were walking about the train platform. “And I thought that we had agreed in calling our son Task Force. That is a better name you know.” He said.

“Maybe for a military officer.” Flower Petal replied, glaring at the other unicorn. “But for our son, I want him to be happy in whatever he wants to do. Unlike some ponies.”

Utopian shook his head. “It seems that your head is still in the clouds Flower Petal. The Times for peace and prosperity are over.”

“As far as you’re concerned at least.” Flower Petal said, letting go of Task Force and levitating his saddlebag onto her back. “You see, there isn’t a war. There isn’t a reason to be cold and heartless, why do you think that we separated in the first place?”

“That’s the precise reason as to why we did so.” Utopian countered. “But I don’t want to get into this with you now. I have another train to catch.” He said, turning away from the pair and beginning to trot away.

“You aren’t even going to say goodbye to your son?” Flower Petal asked, watching as Utopian stopped.

“He’s old enough to understand that I won’t be gone long. I’ll see him at the end of the summer.” Utopian replied, before trotting away.

After a few moments, Task Force looked up at his mother. “Mommy, Is daddy mad at me?” He asked, watching the unicorn look down on him.

“Of course not sweetheart. He’s mad at something, but it isn’t you okay?” She said, nuzzling the foal affectionately. “Now, let’s see... What do you want to do first?” She asked, hearing a loud grumble from the pegasus’s stomach.

“Well... I may be a little hungry...” Task Force said, looking at the ground and kicking one of his hooves on the platform. His mother gave him a playfully firm look as his stomach rumbled a second time. “Okay I’m a lot hungry. I was so happy to see you that I didn’t want anything to eat until I got here.”

“Okay Wonderwing, let’s get you some food. I know a great place to go, you’re going to like it.” She said, using her magic to pick up the foal and place her on her back. “Let’s go!”

After an hour and a half of exploring the town of Ponyville with his mother Wonderwing, as he was called by his mother and preferred to be called by that name, stared in awe at what was essentially the best building in the world. The roof appeared to be made of ginger bread and was covered in frosting, the walls were a bright and merry yellow. A small room stood on top of the building that appeared to be made of cake as a bright red cherry sat on top. Even the Window Shutters appeared to be edible, looking like they were carved from chocolate bars. The pegasus foal couldn’t help but smile, even as he slid and fell off of his mother’s back and landed on the dirt street.

“You like it?” Flower Petal asked the foal, who only lazily nodded after getting back to his hooves.

“Yeah, this place looks extra super good!” Wonderwing replied.

“Well then, let’s see if we can get a table inside.” Flower Petal said, guiding the foal over to the confectionary building.

The inside of the building, which was called Sugarcube Corner by Wonderwing’s mother, was packed with ponies from
everywhere. A small line of ponies stood facing the counter, each looking eager to purchase any number of the sweets from the display cases from the store. Several more ponies were all sitting at a small group of tables that were set out near the front of the store, while others just stood around and just began talking.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corner Flower Petal!” A very bright and cheery voice said from the front. “Wait one minute, I’ll be there to help you as soon as I help everypony else.”

“It’s okay Pinkie Pie. Take your time.” Flower Petal answered from over the sounds of the other ponies talking.

It only took Flower Petal and Wonderwing a few moments to get to the front line, but when Wonderwing’s eyes met with the pinkest pony that he had ever laid eyes on, he nearly freaked.

Wonderwing and Pinkie Pie gasped, Wonderwing out of shock from the pink mare’s gasp. Afterwards, she bolted to the back like a blur, leaving both mother and son confused.

“Mommy... Who was that?” Wonderwing asked.

“That was Pinkie Pie Wonderwing. She’s one of the nicest ponies you’ll ever meet here. Though she can be a little bit...” She stopped as a loud crash was heard from the back and cringed as one of the owners, a bright yellow Earth pony named Mr. Cake, trot with a slight limp over to the counter. “... Crazy. Is everything okay back there Mr. Cake?” She asked.

“I... I... I dunno, she came into the back so fast that she nearly took out the ice cream cake that we were working on for Princess Celestia.” Mr. Cake Replied. “Anyways, what can I do you for Flower Petal?”

The unicorn smiled. “Well I would like a slice of your Key Lime Pie if you have any left.” She answered before turning to the foal. “What about you Wonderwing?” She asked, watching the foal smile.

“Well... I dunno what they have here... And I don’t think that daddy would...” Wonderwing began before his voice trailed off.

“You don’t need to worry about what your daddy thinks. Anything you want, you can have it. You’re on vacation now.” Flower Petal replied, cringing as she heard another loud crash from the back.

“Well can I get a slice of pie too?” Wonderwing asked Mr. Cake, watching the earth pony nod.

“Okay what kind?” He asked kindly, staring at the foal.

“Uh... umm... do you have any blueberry pie?” Wonderwing asked nervously, watching as Mr. Cake nodded kindly.

“Yes we do.” He answered. “Would either of you like any ice cream with your pie?” He asked, watching as both Wonderwing and his mother nodded in agreement.

“I think that will be wonderful Mr. Cake.” Flower Petal said, using her magic to make a small coin purse appear out of thin air. “How much do I owe you?” She asked.

“Well, since your son is new in town I’ll cut you a break.” Mr. Cake said chuckling a little, watching as several golden coins flew out of the bag and onto the counter. “That’ll be fifteen bits Flower Petal.” He said, counting out the money and nodding before scooping it all up and putting it in the cash register. He then looked at a set of unoccupied tables and smiled. “How about you two have a seat at table five closest to the front window, and we’ll bring them right out to you.” He said, watching as Flower Petal nodded.

“Thanks Mr. Cake. We’ll do just that.” She commented, guiding the foal away to the empty table.

The sight of the pink pony still alarmed Wonderwing, but it was put in the back of his mind as he sat down next to his mother. Ponies were going here and there from the store, some were looking in their direction while others were whispering things closely to one another. Wonderwing looked up at his mother, who ran a gentle hoof through his mane as they sat at the table together.

“So, are you looking forward to your vacation with me?” Wonderwing’s mother asked, looking down at the foal.

“Yeah.” Wonderwing replied, looking back up at his mother and nodding.

“Good. Well, how about after we eat we go and put your bags away at my house, and then head to the park for some sunshine for once?” She asked.

“Okay!” Wonderwing said, watching as Mr. Cake came from the back of the store and headed towards their table, their orders balanced precariously on his head.

“Here we are, one Key Lime Pie with our homemade vanilla ice cream,” Mr. Cake said, sliding over the plate with the pie over to Wonderwing’s mother. “And one Blueberry Pie with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy you two!” He said happily, taking the tray back with him and leaving as he turned to go.

The taste of the pie was almost as good as the time that Wonderwing was spending with his mother. The foal looked up from his plate, a smile and a little bit of ice-cream on his face, which was met with a similar look from the older unicorn.

As both mother and son were enjoying each other’s company, the door was flung wide open. Everypony looked towards the front door, and went back to their conversation as a very angry, pink earth pony foal with a princess crown stomped in. Her mostly purple mane was drenched with water, as was her tail, and the silk ribbon that she wore was completely soggy.

Wonderwing could tell that the foal was mad about something from where he sat, and as he watched the foal march up to the counter that wasn’t the only thing he could see.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corner, what can I...” Mr. Cake stopped looking down at the absolutely soaked foal.

“I need a dozen of your extra chocolate chip cookies now. And make it snappy.” The foal snapped, slamming at least twice the amount of coins that Wonderwing’s mother placed on the counter.

“I’m sorry Diamond Tiara, but your father said that you weren’t allowed to get another box until he told me that it was okay. Would you like something else?” Mr. Cake asked in a professional manner, looming down on the steaming foal.

“Rrrrgh. Well then, I’ll take a thirty two ounce Vanilla Milkshake and I want it yesterday.” Diamond Tiara snapped, starting to draw attention to herself.

“I’m sorry about that too. We can’t make any milkshakes at the moment because all of our milk is currently in the refrigerator. Would you like something else?” Mr. Cake replied, starting to sweat a little as the foal started turning red.

Before the foal could say anything else, another earth pony foal ran inside, her silver mane and tail all soaking wet. She shivered a little before walking up to Diamond Tiara and passing her own money on the counter.

“How about t-two h-hot ch-ch-chocolates please.” The other foal asked through chattering teeth.

“I do not want hot chocolate Silver Spoon. It’s the start of s-summer and I need something to cool down.” Diamond Tiara snapped, turning on the other foal.

“It looks like you’re already cooling down!” Somepony said inside the restaurant. Both foals looked around and turned, with Diamond Tiara glaring in Wonderwing’s direction.

“What is that foal doing in my spot?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“E-Excuse me?” Wonderwing asked, watching the foal closely.

“I said, what are you doing in my spot? What you don’t speak Equestrian?” Diamond Tiara snapped, trotting angrily
towards where Wonderwing and his mother were sitting. Quietly Mr. Cake nodded as Silver Spoon said something that the foal couldn’t hear and rang up her purchase before disappearing into the back.

“I... I... I didn’t know that this was yours...” Wonderwing began, hearing a dull growl from the angry foal.

“So you thought that you had the right to my seat?” Diamond Tiara snapped, looking over Wonderwing and smirking at him.

“Young lady I think you need to calm down.” Flower Petal said, lowering her spoon with her magic and glaring at the

“No I will not calm down and you can’t make me!” Diamond Tiara snapped back, glaring angrily at Wonderwing, who was busily huddling up and making himself small in the chair. “That Blank Flank stole my spot! And I want it now!” She snapped, glaring at the pegasus.

“Diamond Tiara, let’s just go. I don’t want to cause any trouble.” Silver Spoon commented, watching as Mr. Cake came out of the back room with a pair of steaming to go cups.

Diamond Tiara shook her head. “NO!” She roared. “I’m sick and tired of a bunch of Blank Flanks getting what they want when it should have been me to get what I want! I should have won that water balloon fight today! I should have! But no, look at me. I’m soaked and I need a bath and-”

“You need to calm down Diamond Tiara.” A voice called out as the door opened.

Wonderwing blinked at the impressive sight. Three more foals stepped inside Sugarcube corner, soaked to the bone and wearing smiles as big as their faces. They each wore bright red capes, with a logo of a yellow blank pony standing in front of an all blue circle as though it were a background.

“You have no right to tell me what to do Blank Flank.” Diamond Tiara snapped, glaring at the new foals.

“Yeah, and you have no right to have an attitude at Sugarcube Corner.” The pegasus pony that Wonderwing assumed was the leader of their band declared. She was orange and had a bright purple mane and tail, but it was hard for Wonderwing to tell that she was a pegasus due to the cape that she wore covered up most of her wings.

“Tha’s right. The Cakes ahr nice ponies jus’ tryin’ to make a livin’. They don’t need none of this mess that you’re startin’. Specially since we beat the horseshoes offa ya’ll in the water balloon fight.” The earth pony of the group said. She was yellow, with a slightly greenish tinge to her, and had a bright red bow that seemed to be as soaked, if not more soaked than Diamond Tiara’s ribbon.

“It’s not nice to pick on random ponies like that. I thought your daddy taught you better manners.” The last member of their group snapped, a white unicorn foal with a pale purple and white swirled mane said, watching with a smirk as Diamond Tiara continued to get angrier and angrier.

“Better manners... BETTER MANNERS! I’ll show you better manners you dumb blank flanks!” Diamond Tiara roared, leaping at the three foals. Everypony that could see or hear the shout watched as the foal was enveloped in a green magical aura halfway in between the counter and where the foals were standing.

Everypony stared, watching as Wonderwing’s mother had stood up, her horn a blaze with magic as she held the struggling foal in midair. Just then, the front door opened again to reveal a very important looking, and very angry looking brown earth pony in a business suit with a slicked back black mane and tail.

“Daddy!” Diamond Tiara gasped, ceasing her struggle in the unicorn’s magic and looking positively ashamed of herself.

“There you are young lady. I suspected that you might have tried something like this.” The older pony scolded, stepping in the puddles that the foals were standing in before as they moved out of his way. “This is not how I raised you. This is not what I want to see in my little girl.” He continued, turning to Flower Petal and Wonderwing. “Flower Petal, thank you for restraining her. Ever since the fun day earlier today at school, Diamond Tiara has been in a little fit.”

“I understand completely Mr. Rich.” Flower Petal answered, using her magic to set the foal down. “I didn’t want her to do anything stupid, anything that would make you look bad sir.” She said smiling a little.

“You’re always on duty even when your off duty.” Mr. Rich complimented, bowing his head a little at Wonderwing’s mother. “I assume that this is your foal that you requested some time off for?” He asked, watching Flower Petal nod.

“He’s my little Wonderwing Mr. Rich. And I only have the best for him.” Flower Petal answered, wrapping one of her hooves around the pegasus foal.

“I understand. We all have the best out for our foals.” Mr. Rich said with a slight smile. “Especially when they misbehave.” He added, looking down at Diamond Tiara firmly.

“But daddy I¬-”

“We’ll discuss this later. We’re going home.” Mr. Rich snapped, cutting the foal off. “I hope you have a good week with Wonderwing Flower Petal, good day.” He said, walking over to behind Diamond Tiara and ushering her out of Sugarcube Corner. Silver Spoon followed them, carrying a brown paper bag that contained their hot chocolate as she did so, closing the shop door.

As Flower Petal sat back down, Wonderwing got up as the caped foals turned to go as well. “W-Wait!” He said nervously as the three of them stopped in mid hoofstep.

“Yes? What is it?” The unicorn asked, as all three foals turned their attention to him.

“Who are you guys?” Wonderwing asked, watching out of the corners of his eyes as everypony else began to cover their ears.

The three foals exchanged glances before nodding all at once. They all then took a deep breath before shouting, “WE’RE THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!”

Wonderwing was stunned at the volume of their shout, and before he could react they left as quickly as they came. Like they were superheroes.

The Cutie Mark Who?

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Chapter 3

-The Cutie Mark Who?-

“Mommy, who were they?” Wonderwing asked after returning to their table.

“Oh them?” Flower Petal began. “Those were the Cutie Mark Crusaders.”

“Who?” The little pegasus asked.

“They’re a bunch of the local foals who want nothing more than their cutie marks.” Flower Petal answered.

“Like me?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yes dear, like you.” Flower Petal answered. “They’re generally good kids, but I have to keep them away from Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon just so none of them can get hurt.” She said, finishing the pie on her plate.

“Why?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well lets just say that the Cutie Mark Crusaders act like the good guys and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon act like the bad guys.” Flower Petal explained. “The Cutie Mark Crusaders don’t like Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, and vice-versa.”

“I still don’t get it.” Wonderwing said, rubbing his hooves against his head. “How can ponies not like each other?”

“Well not everypony likes everything that everypony else does.” Flower Petal answered. “You can ask me all the questions you want after you eat your pie okay?” She said, watching the pegasus nod happily.

“Okay!” Wonderwing said.

As soon as Wonderwing was finished, and both he and his mother left Sugarcube Corner, the tiny pegasus bombarded his mother with any and almost every question under the sun. It started with standard, “What’s this for?” and, “Why does it do that?” but it quickly devolved into nothing but, “Why.” Wonderwing’s mother did her best to answer everyone of the foal’s questions, and helped guide him along the path to her small home on Cherry Street.

Flower Petal’s home was small, even for Ponyville’s standards. It was on the corner of Cherry and Main, and seemed to have a small roof problem on the back side of the house. The windows were shut as the unicorn calmly trotted to the front door, and made her house key appear from within her magic before calmly unlocking it.

The inside of the house was modestly furnished, A small living room set consisting of a sofa and a pair of chairs that sat in front of a fireplace were neatly arranged to face the fireplace. A small entranceway led into the dining room which Wonderwing assumed was the kitchen, and a set of steps that led upstairs and deeper into the house could be seen from the front door.

“You’re room is upstairs sweetheart.” Flower Petal said gently. She smiled as the pegasus trotted into the house before stopping. She then used her magic to close the front door behind them before following Wonderwing. “Come on; the sooner you put your bag away, the sooner we can go to the park.” She said reassuringly.

“But Mommy, I don’t know which room is mine.” Wonderwing replied. The unicorn paused for a moment before nodding.

“Well then, let’s fix that problem.” She said, walking past the foal and heading upstairs. Wonderwing followed closely, climbing up the staircase with his mother until they got to the second floor. There wasn’t too much else that stood out on this floor like the last one, a pair of doors were on either side as another door sat across from the stairs all painted white. Wonderwing and his mother trotted calmly across the hardwood floor to the last door on the right before stopping.

“Here’s your room Wonderwing.” Flower Petal said, her horn lightening up gently as the door handle turned before the door opened. Wonderwing looked inside, seeing what appeared to be a barren and empty space save for a small dresser and a bed that faced a window that had a beautiful view of the intersection of Cherry and Main street, and grinned at the sight.

It wasn’t like his bedroom back in his father’s home back in Canterlot. There, the empty space of the room felt like it was more oppressive than anything else. Here, the empty space felt like a new beginning. Like the dawn of a new day was happening at that very moment. Wonderwing began to sniffle up and tear up at that very moment, only to feel a gentle hug from his mother.

“What’s wrong?” Wonderwing’s mother asked.

“I-I-I l-like it.” Wonderwing answered through a small sob. “Mommy, this is the best thing ever!” He said, looking up at
his mother and smiling.

“Well I’m glad you like it.” Flower Petal said, stroking Wonderwing’s mane a little. “I’ll be downstairs when you’re ready to go, okay sweetie?” She asked, watching him nod.

“Yes Mommy.” Wonderwing answered.

Flower Petal smiled before leaving Wonderwing to get his things unpacked. As the pegasus put his things away he smiled. “Nopony’s ever been so nice to me... Not since Father and Mommy separated.” Wonderwing thought, putting his copy of, “The Magnificence of War,” in the bottom shelf in the dresser. He was glad that he was with his mother, and he was also glad that he didn’t have to deal with his father constantly pushing him all the time, which made things feel a lot better.

Wonderwing got finished several minutes later, and galloped downstairs, happily jumping down from three stairs up. Flower Petal smiled at the pegasus before getting up from the couch that she was sitting on.

“So are you ready to go Wonderwing?” Flower Petal asked.

“Yes Mommy.” Wonderwing answered, smiling as his mother calmly trotted to the front door and opened it again.

“Well then, let’s go sweetie.” Flower Petal said, watching the foal scamper outside.

The park in Ponyville was like a whole new world than what Wonderwing was used to. Everything seemed so bright and colorful, there were flowers that he hadn’t seen before and the trees and little animals that lived near them surprised him as he approached. His mother couldn’t help but laugh a little as the pegasus foal actually tried catching a frog that had wandered a little too far from the small pond nearby.

As they meandered through the park, Wonderwing’s mother stopped and took a seat on one of the park benches underneath a very shady oak tree. Wonderwing leapt onto the bench and snuggled up close to her, which caused the unicorn to smile. They both remained that way for a couple of minutes until the sounds of other foals laughing could be heard coming from somewhere.

Wonderwing looked up, looking for the source of the sound until he spotted three other foals, a pale purple unicorn foal with a yellow mane and tail, a white with brown spotted earth pony foal with a brown mane and tail, and a creamy white earth pony foal with a very curly red mane and tail with a pair of round glasses, playing with a frisbee in a small patch of grass several yards behind them. The foals, two of which didn’t have a cutie mark while the other one did, seemed to be really enjoying their game until the unicorn foal threw the frisbee a little harder and higher than the other foals could catch.

Flower Petal watched Wonderwing closely out of the corner of her eye as the frisbee landed near them both. The unicorn foal ran over to where they were sitting, which caused Wonderwing to hide behind the back rest of the bench before she could see him.

“Hi there Miss Flower Petal!” The unicorn foal said happily, watching as Flower Petal turned around and smiled at her.

“Well hello there Dinky, how are you?” Flower Petal asked.

“I’m doing good.” Dinky replied. “Who’s that there with you?” She asked, seeing a dark purple something between the gaps of the bench’s back rest.

“Oh, well this is my little one Dinky.” Flower Petal replied, gently nudging Wonderwing with a hoof. The little pegasus didn’t move at first, but after another gentle nudge, Wonderwing looked over the side of the bench to see the unicorn face to face.

“Oh wow!” Dinky exclaimed, smiling as she did so. “What’s your name?” She asked.

“...” Wonderwing replied, beyond what anypony was able to hear.

“Umm... your gonna need to speak a little louder.” Dinky said.

“Wonderwing...” The pegasus replied.

“Oh, that’s a cool name!” Dinky said. “So, do you wanna play frisbee with us Wonderwing?” She asked, watching the other foal curiously.

Wonderwing looked up at his mother, who smiled encouragingly at him, before nodding. “Sure... If it’s okay with my Mommy.” He said.

“Go on ahead Wonderwing, I’ll be right here if you need me.” She said, watching the pegasus’ face brighten significantly. “You just stay where I can see you.” She said, watching the foal nod.

“Okay Mommy.” Wonderwing replied before running around the other side of the bench and following Dinky.

When both foals got to where the earth pony foals were, Wonderwing trembled as they stared at him nervously.

“ ‘ey Dinky, who’s this ‘ere?” The white and brown spotted foal asked.

“This is Wonderwing you guys.” Dinky replied, smiling as Wonderwing waved a nervous hoof at them both.

“Well it’s nice to meet you Wonderwing. I’m Pipsqueak.” The white and brown foal said.

“And I’m Twitht.” The creamy white foal said after Pipsqueak.

“Uh... what?” Wonderwing asked.

“That’s Twist.” Pipsqueak answered. “She talks with a... I don’t know what it’s called. Do you Dinky?” He asked.

“It’th called a lithp.” Twist answered.

“Yeah, that’s what it’s called.” Pipsqueak said, watching Wonderwing nod.

“Oh, okay.” The pegasus foal answered.

Dinky smiled as she held the frisbee with both of her hooves. “All right you guys, the name of the game is Catch.” She said with a smile. “The first one to catch the frisbee the most times is the winner. Okay?”

“All right!” Pipsqueak said confidently.

“Let’th do thith!” Twist cheered.

“Oh... Um okay...” Wonderwing said, feeling extremely nervous.

The game of frisbee was intense. Well, as intense as a bunch of foals could have made it. And about halfway through
their game, Wonderwing seemed to fit in with everypony else involved.

“Wow Wonderwing, you sure are good at this game.” Dinky said, smiling as Wonderwing caught another frisbee thrown
at him.

“But I’m not as good as you guys.” Wonderwing replied, tossing the frisbee towards Pipsqueak.

“Nonsense mate, you’re a pro.” Pipsqueak replied before catching the frisbee with his teeth. He then tossed it to Dinky before speaking again. “You could be gettin’ a cutie mark for catchin’ a frisbee any time now.”

“A frithbee Cutie Mark?” Twist asked. “Are you thure that a pony can get a cutie mark for playing frithbee all day long?”

“Of course!” Dinky exclaimed, throwing the frisbee a little too hard again. The four foals watched nervously as the
frisbee sailed far above where both Twist and Wonderwing could reach and went beyond the bushes where they were playing. They all heard a loud, “Ow!” Before running over to see where it landed.

As the four foals crawled through the bush, they could see it in plain sight. It was however in the worst place imaginable, Diamond Tiara’s hooves.

“All right, what’s the big idea?” The angry foal snapped, looking around before seeing the leaves on the bushes shake. Angrily, Diamond Tiara walked around the bush with the frisbee in her mouth before slamming it down on the ground. She glared at Dinky and her friends, completely ignoring Wonderwing for a moment, as the tension between them began to mount even more.

“All right Blank Flanks, which one of you threw this at me?” Diamond Tiara snapped.

“We didn’t throw the frisbee at you Diamond Tiara, we were just playing and-”

“We were just playing and nothing!” Diamond Tiara snapped, cutting Dinky off. “You’re just jealous that I have a cutie mark and you don’t. Isn’t that it?”

“No that’s not true, we really were just playing when I threw the frisbee too hard and,” Dinky stopped, watching as Diamond Tiara’s face began to get redder and redder.

“Oy, you leave ‘er alone.” Pipsqueak snapped. “Just cause you ‘ave a cutie mark and we don’t doesn’t mean you get ta walk all over us.”

“And whose gonna stop me Blank Flank?” Diamond Tiara snapped.

“My mommy for one thing.” Wonderwing pointed out, raising a hoof as his mother was glaring at the foal.

“Aww... Is the widdle Bwank Fwank gonna tell his Mommy on me?” Diamond Tiara snapped. “Besides, you’re the ones that hit me in the first place.”

“Watch what you say about my mommy...” Wonderwing said coldly, feeling his own blood begin to boil.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Diamond Tiara snapped.

“Come on you guyth, let’th jutht go play thomewhere elthe.” Twist said, trotting towards the frisbee before Diamond Tiara planted a hoof on it.

“Nopony’s going anywhere.” She snapped. “Not until I get an apology.”

Before anypony could say anything, there was a loud, “INCOMING!” which caused Dinky and all of her friends to get their heads down. Wonderwing watched as several bright and colorful water balloons descended from somewhere else, all landing on or near Diamond Tiara with excellent efficiency. The foal stopped, sputtering and spinning around on her back hooves to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders stand next to a small tree mounted slingshot across from them on the other side of the park path. Next to them was the pink mare that Wonderwing had seen earlier, a very goofy grin on her face and a telescope covering one of her eyes. Diamond Tiara continued to fume, but as the Crusaders began to prepare another shot she decided to make a hasty retreat, mumbling about how the, “Adults like the Blank Flanks,” as she left.

As soon as the angry little foal went away, the Cutie Mark Crusaders and the pink mare that was with them crossed the other side of the park and smiled. “Hey there Twist, Dinky, Pipsqueak, awesomely fantabulous new foal to Ponyville that I have never met before that I met at Sugarcube Corner today.” The pink mare greeted, smiling at them all. “Diamond Tiara’s not giving you all any trouble is she?” She asked.

“No, not at all Pinkie Pie.” Dinky answered.

“Yeah, thankth to you and the other Cruthaderth, we’ll be fine.” Twist said happily.

“Umm... One question though... Why was there a tree slingshot there?” Pipsqueak asked.

“Well silly filly, that’s where I keep my tree slingshots in case of Water Balloon Fight or Bully emergencies. Though I wasn’t really wanting to use the Slingshot for that though.” Pinkie Pie answered.

“Oh.” Pipsqueak said, watching as Wonderwing’s mother walked over to the group calmly.

“Pinkie Pie, I appreciate what you did but I could have handled things if they had gotten out of control.” Flower Petal said.

“Oh, but things weren’t getting out of control.” Pinkie Pie replied. “There in the best control that they could possibly be in. It’s the way that the author’s making them to be.” Pinkie Pie replied, seeing the confused expression on Wonderwing’s face.

“So... what brings you and the other Crusaders here?” Flower Petal asked.

“Well, I’m here to get this Party Train rolling.” Pinkie Pie answered. “There’s a big, “Welcome to Ponyville,” Pinkie Pie Party with your son’s name on it. I mean it is his first time to Ponyville and because I’ve never ever seen him before I just knew that I had to throw him a Welcome to Ponyville Party just like I did for you a couple of months ago and-”

“Breathe Pinkie.” Flower Petal and six of the foals said at once.

After taking a deep breath, Pinkie Pie smiled. “So, you wanna party like it’s two thousand and nine?” She asked Wonderwing with a big grin.

The foal backed up a little, Pinkie Pie had gotten uncomfortably close to his face as she smiled at him. Dinky and her friends nodded encouragingly, which caused the foal to look up to his mother. “Mommy, can I go?” Wonderwing asked.

All eyes were on Flower Petal now, as not only were the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Dinky and her friends were giving her puppy dog eyes, but so was Pinkie Pie. After a few seconds of staring into their eyes, and hearing a chorus of whimpering Flower Petal nodded. “Of course you can go Wonderwing.” She said, hearing a cheer from the foals and Pinkie Pie.

“Okay you guys, I have to finish getting it set up.” Pinkie Pie said, looking down on the foals. “You can make sure that Wonderwing gets there in about thirty minutes right?” She asked, watching them all nod.

“Of course we can.” Dinky reported.

“This isn’t a problem.” Pipsqueak said.

“You can count on uth!” Twist said.

“I’ll make sure that they get there on time Pinkie.” Flower Petal said, watching as Pinkie Pie nodded.

“Okie Dokie lokey, I’ll see you all later then!” Pinkie Pie said before trotting off.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders smiled before turning to Dinky and her friends. “All right you guys, we’ll see you at Wonderwing’s party.” The orange pegasus said happily.

“Right, we’ll see you then.” Dinky said, watching as the other foals scampered off.

The foals then went and grabbed their frisbee and ran back over to where they were playing again, but not before Wonderwing hugged his mother. “Thank you Mommy. I love you.” Wonderwing said.

“I love you too, my little Wonderwing.” Flower Petal replied. “Now go on, I’ll call you all over when it’s time to go. Okay?” She said, watching the foal nod.

“Okay!” Wonderwing said happily before following Dinky and her friends.

New Friends and Enemies

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Chapter 4

-New Friends and Enemies-

After several games of frisbee had passed, all of which hadn’t been about who won or lost but more about who had the most fun, Wonderwing’s mother had all said that it was time to get ready to head to Sugarcube Corner. As promised, Dinky and her friends, “helped,” Wonderwing and Flower Petal head over to the direction of the bakery. Once inside, the sight surprised the pegasus foal.

A whole assortment of decorations ranging from balloons and streamers to a huge, “WELCOME TO PONYVILLE!” banner hung all across the room. There was an extremely good looking spread of food, ranging from cookies and candy to soda pop and punch. Plus, to the pegasus foal’s surprise, everypony that had attended were all being introduced to him as if they were some part of his family. He had also met the other Elements of Harmony as they introduced themselves, each of them in turn were more impressive than the stories he had heard about them all.

“So this here’s the little one o’ yers Flower Petal?” Applejack, the first pony that Wonderwing had met besides Pinkie Pie at the party asked.

“Of course he is.” Flower Petal said happily, watching as the cowpony nodded.

“Well it sure is nice ta meetcha’ Wonderwing.” Applejack said, shaking his hoof again. “Yer jes’ gonna like it here in Ponyville. Ah just know it.”

Wonderwing nodded, looking a little scared as Applejack trotted off. The foal watched as she began talking to Rarity, who was apparently a pony that wanted to dress him up in a new line that she was creating but was dragged away from him by Applejack before she could get any measurements done on him.

He could see that Pinkie Pie was busy wandering around, making sure that ponies were happy at the party she threw for him, and popped up from crowd to crowd like a party-hardy mole would. Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy chased after her, apologizing as they went in a vain attempt to calm her down, while Rainbow Dash was just watching from a table in the front, trying her best not to giggle at the whole spectacle.

“Hey, you’re that foal from earlier aren’t you?” A voice asked from behind Wonderwing. The pegasus turned, watching as the unicorn that had shown up earlier that day smiled at him gently.

“Uh...” Wonderwing said, shying away from the unicorn a little as he struggled for something to say.

“Heh, I know this is something you didn’t expect when you got here.” The unicorn continued. “But this is what Pinkie Pie usually does. I’m Sweetie Belle by the way.” She said.

“Wonderwing... I’m Wonderwing.” Wonderwing replied.

Sweetie Belle smiled, before extending one of her hooves to the pegasus. “It’s nice to meet you Wonderwing.” She said.

“Sweetie Belle, come on!” A voice moaned. Both foals looked up to see that both the orange pegasus foal and the yellow earth pony foal from earlier were sitting at a table with Dinky, Pipsqueak, and Twist. The orange pegasus appeared to be a little peeved at Sweetie Belle, but the unicorn paid it no mind as she waved the pegasus off before turning back to Wonderwing.

“Well I was just wondering, we’re telling stories of how we tried getting our cutie marks,” Sweetie Belle explained. “And we need somepony else to join up with us. Are you game?” She asked.

“Telling stories is a game?” Wonderwing asked.

“Of course it is!” Sweetie Belle answered. “Now come on, time’s a waistin’.” She said, dragging Wonderwing without so much as a second thought over to their table.

When they got over to the table, Wonderwing was introduced to Scootaloo and Applebloom who were the ones that came up with the idea in the first place. Wonderwing was trying his best to be friendly, but was completely nervous as the other six foals gave him the feeling that he was an outsider. That quickly changed however.

Scootaloo, who apparently idolized Rainbow Dash, had a story where she had tried to perform a Sonic Rainboom using a scooter and a ramp that she had constructed. Her entire goal was to get going fast enough that she would use the ramp at the bottom of a large enough hill to get her airborne and getting her cutie mark. The foals cringed when she told them that she rode her scooter in during a stampede that started only ten seconds into the run.

Applebloom’s story wasn’t as bad as Scootaloo’s, she wanted to do some simple jump rope tricks, but got tangled in the rope before her first jump.

As the stories were passed around from foal to foal, Wonderwing realized something. “I don’t have a story to tell...” He thought, swallowing a small lump in his throat. As Twist finished her story, which was hard enough to follow as it was, everypony at the small table clapped their hooves together as Twist took a bow.

“Wow Twist, I didn’t know that bubblegum and honey could be so dangerous.” Scootaloo complimented.

“That wathn’t the wortht part though.” Twist replied. “I don’t think that I got all of the bubblegum out of my mane when I went to get cleaned up.” The other foals cringed, before turning their attention to Wonderwing.

“Well Wonderwing, what sort of story do you have for us?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Maybe by the look of you, you probably caused a bit of damage in trying to find your cutie mark.” Scootaloo said.

Wonderwing said nothing, looking away from the other foals. He didn’t want them to know that his father had kept him from trying to find out who he was by keeping him locked in the house. As he remained quiet, looking for something to say but finding nothing he heard a loud thumping noise begin to echo from the center of the bakery. Somehow, for whatever reason or another, Pinkie Pie had managed to find room for and invite a DJ who was busy generating the new atmosphere for the party. It was a minor distraction, but it provided the opportunity for Wonderwing to come up with something.

“Well, do you have a story?” Scootaloo asked. “Or did you just not want to find your cutie mark?”

“I do want to find my cutie mark.” Wonderwing said calmly. “In fact I still do. But the thing is, after what had happened back home, my dad didn’t want me to find out who I am until I get a lot older.”

“What happened?” Applebloom asked as she and the other foals seemed to be intrigued.

Wonderwing took a deep breath before looking to the foals that were now listening to him. “Well, you see when I was a lot smaller my father was going on one of his business trips and he wanted me to mind my manners with the foal sitter that he’d paid to watch me for the weekend.”

“Foal Sitter? You?” Scootaloo interrupted, receiving a light nudge from Sweetie Belle. “What, he doesn’t look like a pony that would need a foal sitter.”

“Yeah, well you need to be quiet.” Sweetie Belle scolded. “Let him finish his story.”

As soon as Scootaloo quieted down, Wonderwing smiled before continuing. “Well my foal sitter was nice, not as nice as everypony here in Ponyville but she was nice to me. And while she was gone off to get some snacks for us, I wanted to make something extra special for her and find my cutie mark at the same time. My foal sitter came back, a few minutes before my father came home, and well let’s just say that the whole house was covered in cement-like batter.”

The foals all stopped, giving Wonderwing strange looks. He looked away from them again, hearing a small cough come from Dinky before looking back up.

“Oooookay... That was a short one. You got anything else?” Scootaloo asked.

“Sorry, I haven’t really had any time to find out who I am. Father wants me to focus on being a smart pony.” Wonderwing replied, hearing audible gasps from the other foals. He watched as they all huddled up, keeping their heads low and whispering about themselves with one of them keeping an eye on Wonderwing closely before they all sat back down. “What’s wrong?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well we had an idea about you since we saw you. Well it was more Applebloom than all of us.” Sweetie Belle explained.

“Ya see, Ah thought that you haven’t actually tried searchin’ for your cutie mark. And what pony doesn’t want to know who they really ahr?” Applebloom asked.

“And its our job as the Cutie Mark Crusaders to help you find out who you are Wonderwing.” Scootaloo said proudly.

“The Cutie Mark Who?” Wonderwing asked.

“The Cutie Mark Crusaders!” Dinky repeated. “We’re all apart of a secret society dedicated to helping ponies get their cutie marks. It’s really fun and stuff, we get to hang out together and go on crusades and try things that we haven’t tried before to get our cutie marks.”

“Dinky, Twist and myself are members too. And we’re going to help you get your cutie mark.” Pipsqueak said happily.

“But firtht we need to thee if you can actually keep up with uth.” Twist said.

“So, you want to get your cutie mark?” Scootaloo asked.

Wonderwing remained silent for a moment and weighed his options. He had never met any of these foals before today, and based on the stories that he had just listened to they did a lot of dangerous things. But they seemed to look like they wouldn’t hurt him, so after gathering up what little courage that he had, Wonderwing nodded. “Sure, it sounds like fun.” He said.

“You won’t regret this Wonderwing, trust us.” Scootaloo said. “You’ll have a lot of fun when you hang out with us and discover who you are.”

“Yeah, and when you get your cutie mark, don’t be like Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon and think that it makes you better than everypony else.” Sweetie Belle warned.

“I won’t.” Wonderwing said before he hopped out of his chair. The table with all of the food looked extremely appetizing right about now, and he was getting hungry.

“Where you goin’?” Applebloom asked.

“I’m just getting something to eat.” Wonderwing replied.

“Hey that sounds like a good idea.” Scootaloo said. “Come on crusaders!” The other foals cheered before following Scootaloo and Wonderwing’s lead over to the table with all of the food that was laid out for the party. A good bit of it was gone already but it didn’t stop them from taking what they could get their hooves on and devouring it.

The Welcome to Ponyville Party lasted well beyond Wonderwing’s bed time, and by the time that Flower Petal had found him, he was gently sleeping alone next to the front door with a bit of cake frosting on his face. Flower Petal smiled, gently picking up Wonderwing with her magic and placing him on her back before turning to Pinkie Pie and the Cakes. After bidding them a good night and making sure that Wonderwing was still asleep, she quietly made the trip back home.

The Crusader Airship

View Online

Chapter 5

-The Crusader Airship-

The whole rest of the week, Wonderwing spent at home with Flower Petal. The Cutie Mark Crusaders did stop by everyday in an attempt to get Wonderwing to join them on their crusades, but his answer was either, “It might be too dangerous,” or, “I have other plans.”

It wasn’t that Wonderwing didn’t want the Crusaders help in finding out what he was really good at, it was the way they went about asking him that caused him to turn them down. Like on Tuesday, they showed up with a small catapult and accidentally launched Scootaloo into the side of his mother’s home. She was okay, and there wasn’t any damage to the house but Wonderwing absolutely refused to come outside due to the fear about him being their next set of living ammo.

It wasn’t until Saturday of that week that Wonderwing had finally gathered up the nerve to join the Crusaders on their little escapades. Like clockwork, at nine in the morning the group of foals showed up to his front door and knocked on it. Wonderwing’s mother was the first to answer, and gave a skeptic look to the foals as they put on their biggest smiles.

“You don’t give up that easy do you?” Flower Petal asked, watching the Crusaders shake their heads.

“Not when there’s a pony in need of our assistance Miss Petal.” Sweetie Belle said proudly.

“All right.” Flower Petal smiled. “I’ll go get him.” She said before turning back to go inside the house. A few minutes later, Wonderwing appeared on the other side of the entrance way, looking nervously at the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

“Hey there Wonderwing, you ready to get your hooves dirty in our Crusades?” Scootaloo asked.

“It’s not dangerous is it?” Wonderwing asked, watching the foals all shake their heads.

“Nah, it taint gonna hurt’cha.” Applebloom said reassuringly. “We’re jus’ building somethin’ today, and tryin’ to get ahr Cutie Marks afterwards.”

“You’re going to build something?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yeah, it’s going to be really cool too!” Sweetie Belle replied. “I mean, when it’s finished.”

The sound of something being built began to pique Wonderwing’s interests a little. “What’re you making?” Wonderwing asked, opening the front door even more to see a wagon filled with mechanical bits and bobs that looked like they could use somepony to fix them.

“Well, we’re gonna make an Airship so we can be,” Dinky began as the other foals took a deep breath, “CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS AIRSHIP PILOTS YAY!”

The sound of their battle cry caused Wonderwing to rub his ears a little. After a moment he stared at the wagon and blinked. From the bits of useless materials that were in there he could see a black rain tarp with holes in it, a bunch of broken air conditioner fans, and even a small radio resting in the pile. “These guys are crazy. This junk will never make a flyable airship... But it sounds like a lot of fun though...” Wonderwing thought, staring down at the crusaders for a moment.

“So are you in or out mate?” Pipsqueak asked.

Wonderwing looked up at his mother, who was thinking the exact same things that he was before looking down on the six foals. “Mommy, can I go with the crusaders?” Wonderwing asked, looking up to his mother.

Flower Petal stopped for a second and scanned the wagon full of junk. There wasn’t anything too terribly dangerous with what they were doing per say, but it looked like the crusaders were blowing a lot of hot air in her opinion. After a few minutes of deliberation she looked down at the foals. “Okay you can go but somepony has to be supervising you, and you can’t use anything too dangerous. Plus you have to do what the adults say okay sweetheart?” She asked.

“Okay Mommy.” Wonderwing replied before trotting out with the other foals.

“Oh and crusaders, bring him home before dinner okay?” Flower Petal asked, watching the other six foals nod in her direction.

“You can count on us!” Scootaloo said, saluting Flower Petal with one of her wings. The unicorn smiled, watching as the foals all ran to the wagon before dragging it off with some difficulty. Flower Petal just simply shook her head, praying to Celestia that nothing bad would happen to her son.

“This here’s where Ah live!” Applebloom reported, continuing to push the overfilled wagon from behind. It took Wonderwing and the Crusaders at least an hour to get to Ponyville’s own Sweet Apple Acres and while they were setting a good pace in the city, the farm’s dirt roads didn’t make things easier on the foals at all.

“Wow...” Wonderwing said, looking at his surroundings. “I’ve never seen so many apples in one place before.”

“You’ve never seen an apple farm before?” Scootaloo asked. Both she and Wonderwing were both on scooters, their wings humming and an incredible rate as they continued down the dirt path.

“No, I wasn’t really allowed to do to much back when I lived with my Father.” Wonderwing replied.

“Why do you call him that?” Dinky asked, stumbling a little before picking herself back up and continuing to push again.

“Why do I call who that?” Wonderwing asked.

“Why do you call your daddy Father?” Dinky answered. “I mean, aren’t they the same thing?”

“He doesn’t like it when I call him that.” Wonderwing replied. “I mean, I came close to not even being here for calling him that before I got here.”

“Well isn’t that a load of... Why would your daddy punish you for sayin’ something like that?” Pipsqueak asked.

“Well he told me that he’s not my buddy, nor my friend. I don’t want to make him mad so I call him father and everything stays relatively normal.” Wonderwing replied. “He doesn’t even call me by my real name.”

“What’s yer daddy call ya’?” Applebloom asked.

“Task Force.” Wonderwing replied. “My father doesn’t think that my real name is appropriate, so he makes me use that name whenever I’m with him.”

“That’s awful!” Sweetie Belle said.

“Yer dad’s nuthin’ more than a grade A bully if Ah ever heard it.” Applebloom replied before looking around. “Th’ barn’s this way guys.” She said, helping to guide the cart over to the left. The other foals began to follow her lead and headed towards one of the few barns on the Apple Farm’s lands. It took them all another half of an hour for them all to reach the barn, and by then they were all tired. After taking a few minutes to catch their breath, Applebloom smiled, trotting over to the closed barn door. With a little bit of help from the other Crusaders, she opened it which revealed the weirdest looking thing that Wonderwing had ever laid eyes on.

The thing that sat in the middle of the barn resembled a small ship, but not the kind of ship that one would see soaring in the air. It looked more like it was ready to sail the high seas than it was for soaring in the air. He could see two long and thin groups of boards extend from either side of the ship’s main body which resembled wings than anything else, and could see that it appeared to have been built before it was truly and properly designed.

“This is your guys airship?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yeah, ain’t she a beaut’?” Pipsqueak asked.

“Well... That isn’t what I’d exactly call it...” Wonderwing thought. “Yeah... It looks, cool?” He said, trying not to hurt the other crusader’s feelings.

“Of course it looks cool!” Scootaloo cheered, smiling as she dismounted from her scooter and walked over to the contraption in the building. “We all wanted it to look a different way, but Sweetie Belle came up with the idea that we should combine all of our ideas together!” She said, watching Wonderwing nod as he dismounted from his own scooter.

“Everypony was fighting over how they wanted it to look, so I just told them to stop fighting and combine their ideas together.” Sweetie Belle replied. “We’re just missing all the stuff that will get it off of the ground though, and the things to actually make it work.”

“You mean you built this thing without putting anything that could make it fly on it?” Wonderwing asked, not believing his ears.

“Well, we couldn’t find anything that would make it fly when we were working on it, so we waited until some stuff came along for us to use.” Dinky replied. “And nopony’s going to want it anyways, because most of it’s broken, so we’re actually helping out by recycling.” She said.

“Yeah, is there a problem with that Wonderwing?” Scootaloo asked.

“No, I don’t have a problem with that.” Wonderwing replied. “So what are we going to do first?”

“Well, we need to actually get the balloon part of our Airship made so it can actually act like an airship.” Pipsqueak replied.

“Okay then, let’s get started.” Wonderwing said, watching the other foals drag the rain tarp from their pile of stuff.

The going was slow, only because when Wonderwing saw the design for the balloon part of the airship, it was in the shape of a certain pegasus pony with a prismatic mane. Much to Scootaloo’s dismay, he said that the balloon part of the Airship wouldn’t work only because of the weird shape the balloon itself was designed as. After settling an argument between the two pegasi, Sweetie Belle had assigned Wonderwing and Scootaloo to different sections of the Airship just to keep the peace.

By the time the sun was starting to set, Wonderwing had seen and assumed that the Crusaders were making very little to almost no progress from where he sat inside the unfinished cockpit of the basket for the airship. He wasn’t making much progress either, having only figured out where the crusaders were going to install their radio, but as he could hear the foals cheer outside of the cockpit, he looked out of one of the windows and couldn’t believe what he saw.

It had seemed that Dinky and Pipsqueak, who were paired off as a team during their part of the project, had gotten one of the fans that the crusaders were going to use as an engine working again. The fan was fastened back onto the motor after, according to them, an epic fight for control, and as a test they had somehow made it faster. Wonderwing blinked in surprise, trotting outside the airship’s body and walking over to the fan and blinked, looking at the size of the fan and making a mental note for never to doubt the crusaders ever.

“So Wonderwing, how’re you coming with the radios? Pipsqueak asked.

“Not good, I mean I have no Idea where anything’s going yet and you’ve all ready built this thing without planning everything else out.” Wonderwing replied. “Did you really have to make them this big?” Wonderwing asked.

“Of course we did. We want it to fly don’t we?” Dinky asked.

“Yeah, good point.” Wonderwing replied. “Well anyways, I’ve gotta go home you guys. Mommy’s probably getting worried.” He said, turning to go.

“Come on Crusaders, let’s get Wonderwing home!” Scootaloo said, watching as they all cheered.

“First let’s get this cleaned up.” Sweetie Belle reminded them. “Remember what Applebloom’s sister said last week?”

“All right then, come on you guys let’s get this place cleaned up.” Scootaloo said, receiving nods from everypony else.

Cleaning up the barn from their hard work was just as hard as dragging all of the stuff for the airship in the first place. By the time the crusaders and Wonderwing had gotten done, it was almost dark and they needed to get back fast.

“Mommy’s gonna be so mad at me...” Wonderwing said, trembling at the thought of his own mother looking at him with disapproval.

“You’re going to be fine Wonderwing.” Scootaloo said reassuringly. “Your mom isn’t going to be mad. We’ll just tell her we were cleaning up our mess and she’ll understand.”

“Yeah, she’ll understand.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“Yer mom’s going ta jus’ say that she don’ want it ta happen agin’.” Applebloom replied.

“All mommies only want to be with their foals. And know that they’re okay.” Dinky said.

Wonderwing nodded in relief, hoping that Scootaloo was right.

As the Crusaders and Wonderwing approached the house, Wonderwing’s mother had just opened the door. She smiled, looking down on the set of seven foals before watching Wonderwing trot up to the front porch.

“And just in time too.” Wonderwing’s mother replied, smiling at the little foal. “You didn’t get hurt out there while you were helping the crusaders now, did you?” She asked.

“No Mommy, I didn’t.” Wonderwing replied. He then turned to the crusaders. “Thanks for the great day you guys.” He said half-heartedly.

“Don’t worry about it.” Scootaloo replied.

“Hey, you keep helping us like this, you may be the next crusader!” Sweetie Belle replied.

Wonderwing smiled. “That sounds like fun!” He said, his mood going up a little.

“We’ll see ya’ll later then Wonderwing!” Applebloom replied, waving her hoof as the group of six foals sped off into the night.

“Bye you guys!” Wonderwing replied before turning towards his mother. “So, what’s for dinner?” The unicorn mare only chuckled as she ushered the little foal inside.

“First let’s get you cleaned up. Then we’ll worry about that. Okay?” She asked, watching Wonderwing nod before trotting into the house and closing the door behind him.

The Midnight Assailant

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Chapter 6

-The Midnight Assailant-

“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS SLEEPOVERS YAY!” The battle cry of Ponyville’s self appointed secret society echoed throughout the town square two weeks later. Most of Wonderwing’s time was spent with the crusaders, mostly because of the fact that they were the first to come over and ask him if he was busy and wanted to help him get his cutie mark through their crusades. By the end of the first week, he was already considered a member of their organization.

Several adults moved out of the way from the approaching foal-sized wagon, pulled by both Scootaloo and Wonderwing on a pair of scooters. Both foals’ wings continued to flutter at an extreme rate as they continued to pull the wagon filled with fillies behind them.

“And why are we doing this again?” Wonderwing asked over the sound of their wings humming loudly between them both.

“Because, our next crusade is going to need all of us together!” Scootaloo answered. “Besides, what’s the fun of getting our Stargazing Cutie Marks if there’s only a few of us here?”

Wonderwing shrugged, looking over one of his shoulders and staring calmly at Applebloom, Sweetie Belle and Dinky who were all sitting in the wagon that they towed together.

“And when’s Twist supposed to get to the clubhouse?” Wonderwing asked as they continued to pull the wagon down the long path to Sweet Apple Acres. Scootaloo shrugged.

“Well, she said that she would be by later. I think it was because she wanted to help out with her parents today back at the store.” Sweetie Belle answered for the pegasus, adjusting her position in the wagon.

“Besides now that she’s got her cutie mark, she’s not going to be around as much. Momma told me that ponies with cutie marks have lots of responsibilities.” Dinky added.

The four foals remained quiet as they continued to approach the apple farm. As they pulled in, they could see that Applebloom’s older brother Big Macintosh was busy hauling a cart full of apples that had recently been knocked free from their trees. “Hey Big Mac!” The fillies called out, watching as the older stallion wiped his brow with a free hoof and nodded in their direction.

“Howdy.” Big Macintosh replied, watching as the wagon raced off, heading towards their club house.

“Who was that?” Wonderwing asked, watching the giant pony continue to pull the cart he was carrying into one of the many barns that dotted the landscape.

“Tha’s mah brother. He helps mah sister with the harvestin’ the apple crop.” Applebloom replied. “Ahlmost all of tha’ apples that Ponyville has comes from this here farm, an’ he’s responsible for gettin them down. Mah Sister also’s responsible for tha work, but she’s right now out sellin’ in the market.”

“Wow, you guys really run a tight ship.” Wonderwing commented.

“Well, tha’s how its ahlways been.” Applebloom answered.

As the foals approached the modest looking tree house, Wonderwing could see that a lot of care and effort was put into its construction. According to Scootaloo there had been a number of renovations done to the place, which mostly consisted of a crow’s nest like on a pirate’s ship and another smaller room that was elevated above the central clubhouse. He could see the flag for the crusaders flying high above the tree house, an all yellow pony silhouette against a blue sphere with a red background, fluttering proudly in the top-most point of the clubhouse.

He could feel the pull on the wagon as Scootaloo began to slow down on her end of the scooter and followed suit, until the, “Crusader Mobile,” came to a complete stop. Three of the fillies leapt out of the wagon and ran up the steps to the tree house as though it were a second home to them, sleeping bags in tow. Wonderwing calmly dismounted his scooter, looking up at the clubhouse nervously and looked back in the direction of the small town that was essentially his second home.

“Hey there Wonderwing, what’s wrong?” Sweetie Belle asked, looking down at the pegasus from one of the windows in the clubhouse.

“Oh u-u-uh, it’s nothing.” He lied, looking back at Sweetie Belle and smiling. “I was just thinking about something.”

“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” Applebloom asked, her head popping up from the same window.

“Oh... I was just thinking about how cool it was for you guys to be so nice to me like you have been. My father tells me that other ponies can’t really be trusted, and that they can only be used to get ahead in life.” Wonderwing answered.

“It sounds like your dad doesn’t know a thing about having awesome friends.” Scootaloo called out from inside the clubhouse.

“My father would have seriously punished me if he found out about me having friends.” Wonderwing said softly.

Sweetie Belle and Applebloom looked at each other nervously, seeing the somber look on Wonderwing’s face. They could tell that something was bothering him, but they were both unable to put a hoof on it. Even Scootaloo, who wasn’t too trusting of the new pegasus, could tell that what Wonderwing said wasn’t normal.

“What’s wrong with having friends?” Dinky finally asked, trotting out of the clubhouse and out onto the balcony that surrounded it. “I mean, real friends don’t get each other into too much trouble. And real friends don’t try to do dangerous things all the time.” Dinky said with emphasis, causing Sweetie Belle and Applebloom to share a glance back inside.

“What? I didn’t know that you had to ask a bull’s permission before you could act like a rodeo pony.” Scootaloo’s voice came from inside, which caused a slight snicker from Wonderwing.

“The thing that Momma told me is, that real friends are like muffins.” Dinky continued, ignoring the blank stares from the other foals that were at the clubhouse. “Sure they taste good, and they can make a bad day go away. But if they were really good, the recipe to make them again will last a lifetime.” She added, smiling at the now utterly confused pegasus.

“That surprisingly makes sense.” Wonderwing said quietly.

“And how are friends like muffins again?” Scootaloo asked.

“Well I don’t think that’s how Momma put it, but it went something like that anyways.” Dinky replied.

As the foals remained silent for a few moments, the sounds of Wonderwing’s stomach rumbled like the sound of a distant stampede which caused him to blush. The other foals giggled a little before their own stomachs began to rumble as well.

“Well all this here talk of Muffins has gone and gotten me hungry.” Applebloom said, laughing a little. “Come on now Wonderwing, the initiation into the crusaders can’t start without you.” She said, watching as Wonderwing nodded and grabbed his saddlebag before heading up the stairs and inside the clubhouse.

If anything could be said about Wonderwing’s first time at a Cutie Mark Crusader Sleepover, then it could be said that he was on Cloud Nine the whole time. Two other foals, Twist, a curly orange maned pony with a white coat and a pair of candy canes in the shape of a heart for a cutie mark, arrived a few minutes after they did. She was followed closely by Pipsqueak, a white and brown spotted colt with a black mane and a similar blank flank to most of the other foals in the room, who had helped her with most of the supplies that she carried into the clubhouse for their sleepover. Wonderwing, being mostly isolated from any sort of foals’ party, had never even seen the amount of candy that they had brought even on Nightmare Night. There were an assortment of peppermint sticks and gum drops, and little drops of chocolate, and anything that she and Pipsqueak could carry in a wagon that she had brought over, which was parked next to the Crusader Mobile outside.

As everypony seemed to have a good time, or that’s what Wonderwing assumed as everypony was all smiles and enjoying their own hauls, the sounds of a gavel banging on a small table echoed from the other side of the room and caused the pegasus to jump in the air.

“Ahll right everypony, less settle’r down.” Applebloom said, standing behind the table on the right side of Scootaloo as Sweetie Belle took the left. As soon as the remaining foals got quiet, she passed the gavel onto Scootaloo with her teeth
who took it and nodded.

“Members of the Crusaders, present your capes.” She said seriously watching as Dinky, Pipsqueak, and Twist all went to their saddle bags before pulling out a set of red and golden capes that bore the logo of their organization. Sweetie Belle, Applebloom and Scootaloo then followed suit and pulled their own capes out from their bags, before putting them on like
the others.

Sweetie Belle then grabbed the gavel from Scootaloo with her hooves and set it aside. “A call to the Crusade!” She declared.

“We Will Never Stop The Journey! Not Until We Have Our Cutie Marks!” The six foals shouted in chorus together. Wonderwing remained silent, out of a sort of respect for the surprising amount of structure that they had in their little organization.

“All right, this meeting of the Cutie Mark Crusaders has come to order.” Scootaloo began, watching as the four foals in front of her took a seat.

“We have ahrselves a new prospect into ahr little club here.” Applebloom added, smiling a little as a set of cheers erupted from the other excited foals.

“Now, Wonderwing. You are the prospecting member of the Crusaders right?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching as the pegasus nodded.

“Uh... Uh yes.” Wonderwing said, immediately feeling nervous.

“And as a prospective member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, you do realize that we have a few simple requests of those who are wishing to join our organization. Do you understand this?” Scootaloo asked, watching Wonderwing nod.

“Well... When you put it that way...” Wonderwing began, nervously pawing at the floorboards on the base of the clubhouse.

“It’s not like you have to do something crazy like hurt somepony or something.” Pipsqueak commented.

“Yeah, you jutht have to thay a few wordth and thay the Cruthaderth oath.” Twist said through her lisp.

The earth pony’s words encouraged Wonderwing, which caused him to nod. “All right, well then I understand.”

The foals all cheered, which continued to enlighten Wonderwing’s spirits. The dark purple pegasus smiled as Sweetie Belle walked forward and presented a copy of the book, “Cutie Marks: The Things That Makes Us Special” She smiled, and stared earnestly at Wonderwing. “Okay, are you ready Wonderwing?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” Wonderwing replied, nodding in the direction of the unicorn.

“Well then, place your right hoof onto the book and repeat after me.” Sweetie Belle instructed, watching as Wonderwing placed his hoof onto the book. “I,”

“I,” Wonderwing repeated.

“Promise that I will never stop the search for who I am,” Sweetie Belle continued,

“Promise that I will never stop the search for who I am,” Wonderwing followed,

“I will not make fun of other ponies who haven’t found out who they are,” Sweetie Belle said,

“I will not make fun of other ponies who haven’t found out who they are,” The pegasus added,

“And when I have discovered who I am, I will help others do the same.” Sweetie Belle finished.

“And when I have discovered who I am, I will help others do the same.” Wonderwing repeated, hearing a chorus of cheers and hoof clapping and stomping from the other fillies.

Scootaloo picked up the gavel and banged it a couple of times until the other foals fell silent. Sweetie Belle smiled, and carried the book back over to where she stood next to Scootaloo and nodded. “All right, Wonderwing.” Scootaloo began, sounding slightly harsh as she said his name. “Breaking a promise to the Crusaders is just as bad as breaking a Pinkie Promise. There aren’t any second chances unless it is the absolute most critically necessary to everypony here. The first time is the last time here. You understand?”

Wonderwing took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, I completely understand. I would rather die than make you guys mad at me.” He said, blinking as nopony said a word.

“Dude, that was a little too much.” Scootaloo said, finally breaking the silence after a minute.

“Uh... I’m sorry. I just got really into the moment.” Wonderwing apologized.

“That’s okay, it all happens to us sometimes.” Dinky replied.

As the tension in the room decreased, Sweetie Belle pulled out a cape similar to the ones that everypony else was wearing. Wonderwing smiled, watching as the cape was draped over his shoulders in such a way so as to give his wings room to move. Applebloom then trotted over to where he stood and helped to fasten the cape around his neck in a comfortable manner.

There was a chorus of cheers from the other initiated Crusaders. Wonderwing smiled, looking over his shoulder and seeing the nice red and gold fabric that it was made from. After hearing a round of applause from the other members of the Crusaders Wonderwing blushed, and received a pair of playful pushes from both Scootaloo and Pipsqueak.

Several hours later, both Pipsqueak and Wonderwing were both taking the first watch in the upper room of the Crusader club house. They called it the first watch anyways, Wonderwing thought that the girls didn’t want to sleep with either him or Pipsqueak though because of something that they called, “cooties.”

The room they were in wasn’t much bigger than the club house. It fit both Pipsqueak and Wonderwing comfortably with their saddlebags, though there wasn’t much room for anything else to get inside. A small window was put into the secondary room, which let in a cool breeze that flowed from the direction of the house every so often, and was made as a perfect lookout point for both colts to catch intruders.

Wonderwing laid his back against the front wall, closest to the rope stairwell that led down. Princess Luna’s moon wasn’t quite all the way full, but it was still as beautiful as it had ever been. He could see it gently rise through the heavens from several small holes in the wall that Pipsqueak rested on. The earth pony looked like he was about to fall asleep, his hooves gently cradling a small brown telescope that he had said would bring him the, “Bestest Treasure in the World.” After a deep yawn, the earth pony smacked his lips and stared at the pegasus.

“Gee,” Pipsqueak began, “That sure was some party.”

“Yeah.” Wonderwing nodded. “It was nice of Twist’s Parent’s to give us all of that candy just because I was joining the Crusaders.” He continued to watch the moon rise from a modestly sized hole in the middle of the wall behind Pipsqueak.

“Well, they are really nice ponies.” Pipsqueak replied. “Really, really nice ponies.” He stretched out and got up on all fours before walking to the window.

“What’re you doing?” Wonderwing asked, watching as Pipsqueak put the telescope to one of his eyes and began scanning the tree line.

“Lookin’ for perverts.” Pipsqueak answered, shocking Wonderwing.

“I’m sorry?” Wonderwing asked, looking nervously at his earth pony companion.

“Perverts.” Pipsqueak repeated, continuing his scan of the farm and not hearing Wonderwing get up. “There are some ponies out in the world who would try anythin’ to get a free look at fillies like Dinky, or Scootaloo, or Sweetie Belle while they’re sleepin.”

“Why would a pony do that?” Wonderwing asked.

“Maybe it’s just so they can get a good look at’em so they can make’em into cupcakes or somethin’. At least tha’s what I heard.” Pipsqueak answered.

Wonderwing’s coat went down a color. There were ponies that ate other ponies? Just the thought or mention of the idea sent shivers down his tiny spine. The pegasus wrapped the Crusader cape he wore closer around his body. “The other Crusaders must really trust Pipsqueak if they can let him keep them all safe by himself.” He thought, looking at the determined earth pony with a newfound respect for him.

“I think that ere’s not going to be any problems tonight.” Pipsqueak said confidently, closing his telescope.

“What makes you so sure?” Wonderwing asked nervously.

“It’s a pirate’s instinct that’s what it is.” Pipsqueak answered. “I just know that in me gut that there’s not gonna be a single problem tonight. I can’t explain it, but I know that there aren’t going to be any sorts of problems.”

At that moment, both foals stopped. They could hear the sounds of hoofsteps and twigs snapping in the dark. Quickly Pipsqueak and Wonderwing ran to the window and looked out of the window, the earth pony with his telescope and the pegasus with a pair of binoculars that Pipsqueak let him use for that night, and gasped.

Several yards out, almost the length of a skyball’s end zone was the silhouette of a tall dark pony that neither of them could recognize. The pony was completely shrouded in the dark, save for the pair of red eyes that it was using to glare at them both with, and it never moved from where it stood beneath one of the Granny Smith trees that sat in the Red Delicious fields.

“Oh no...” Wonderwing whimpered, gulping a little.

“N-N-Now don’t be s-s-scared Wonderwing,” Pipsqueak began, lowering the telescope and placing a hoof on the shoulder of the pegasus, “It’ll be all right. Maybe it’s just a figment of our imaginations, and it will go away if we shut our eyes and count to three.”

Wonderwing nodded, closing his eyes as Pipsqueak did. He had hoped that pony was indeed just a figment of their imagination, and not something that could and would possibly eat them up in a batch of cupcakes.

“One, two, three!” Pipsqueak whispered excitedly, opening his eyes at the same time that Wonderwing did. Both foals looked back into their respective viewing devices only to find, to their horror, the strange looking pony had cleared half of the distance while their eyes were closed and was looking right at them.

As both colts began to see details of the colt’s true self from the lack of distance between them, both of them began to tremble. It was covered from hoof to tail in an all black suit like a business pony, but its face was covered in a white mask. Its pale grey mane fluttered like smoke as another small breeze past by where he stood, and a long and very sharp looking horn jutted from the pony’s head. But that wasn’t the scariest part.

As the moon began to shine on the pony, both foals let out a horrified gasp as the pony was nothing more than an all black, flesh covered skeleton with a jagged horn and deep red eyes. Its form stood about as tall as an average adult pony, but the skeletal monstrosity carried itself like a noble from Canterlot. The undead horror stepped backwards under the shades of a nearby Red Delicious tree, its disguise ruined by the light of the full moon in some places.

Wonderwing and Pipsqueak calmly set their viewing tools down and gulped simultaneously. The sight of the pony would have scared the coats right off of the other Crusaders down in the main part of the Clubhouse but because they saw it first neither one of them wanted to warn the girls. After a few moments, both colts made a mental agreement nodding in each other’s direction and took deep breaths.


The shout was loud enough to cause the lights in the Apple Family home to immediately click on. There was a loud groan from down in the base of the Clubhouse, and as the lights went on, a loud and terrified shriek went pierced the night.


Any foal from a five block radius could recognize the shriek, which caused Pipsqueak to jump into action. The foal undid the trapdoor that was underneath his sleeping bag and threw down the rope ladder to the second floor. He then
disappeared from sight, grabbing a small toy sword from his bag and clenched it with his teeth. Wonderwing, who was still trembling from the sight watched as the undead menace was in near perfect sight for anypony to see in the dark. Without any warning at all, the monster’s horn flared up with a black pulse of magic before it released itself into a small ball of energy.

Wonderwing scrambled to get out of the way of the attack, watching the small ball of energy take a huge chunk out of the room that he was hiding in. He could hear another shout from down in the main part of the clubhouse, and heard a deafening thud come from the outside. Stealing a chance to see what was happening, the pegasus saw a small bombardment of apples come from the main base of the clubhouse, and it seemed to be working.

“What in tarnation?” Wonderwing heard the shouts of another pony he didn’t recognize, and assumed it to be the older sister of Applebloom, and watched as the zombie pony began to beat a hasty yet clumsy retreat back deeper into the fields.

The pegasus then turned to his saddlebag, one of the many things buried in the shrapnel of the attack, and withdrew a small wristwatch-like device from it. After clasping it to one of his hooves and descending the rope ladder into the main clubhouse, he could see the trauma that the zombie pony had caused.

Sweetie Belle and Twist were trying to console Dinky, who was still recoiling from the sight of the zombie pony. Applebloom and Scootaloo had just finished moving what seemed to be a reasonably sized bucket back next to the small dresser against the opposing wall. Pipsqueak was running about the clubhouse, going where he was needed and trying to keep a level head about the whole situation.

“Wonderwing, are you all right?” Sweetie Belle asked, looking up from the trembling Twist with her face full of concern.

“Yeah, where were you? That thing didn’t get ya did it?” Scootaloo asked, remaining surprisingly calm.

“I was still upstairs. The thing fired a spell, and it did a number on the room that was up there.” Wonderwing answered, looking to Dinky. “Are you okay?” He asked, watching as the little unicorn nodded.

“Y-Y-Yeah. I-I-I’m fine.” Dinky replied.

The foals all watched as Wonderwing nodded before heading to the front door of the clubhouse. Before he could open the door, Twist stopped him. “What are you doing? There’th thtill that thombie pony on the loothe!” She cried, watching as Wonderwing nodded.

“I know, and it needs to be taught a lesson. Nopony attacks and scares me or my friends and gets away with it.” He answered.

“You aren’t going alone there mate.” Pipsqueak piped up, giving Wonderwing a stern look.

“Yeah, he’s right. Crusaders need to stick together!” Scootaloo said proudly.

“Well Ah don’ know.” Applebloom said, sounding unsure of herself. “Applejack said tha’ we needs to stay away from things like this and let the adults take care of it.”

“Well what if they don’t find it?” Scootaloo replied.

Before any pony could answer, the front door to the opened wide to reveal both Big Mac and an orange earth pony mare with a blond mane and a cowpony’s Stetson. Wonderwing watched the two older ponies closely as the orange mare looked around.

“Now what’n the hay is goin’ on round here?” She asked, looking from one of the foals to the next.

“Applejack!” Applebloom exclaimed, running over to her and giving the older pony a hug. “It’s just awful! We dun’ seen a zombie pony!”

Both older ponies exchanged looks.

“Say whut?” Applejack asked.

“There was a huge, red-eyed, black-boned, flesh rotten, brain eating, tear your tail off zombie pony out there!” Scootaloo reported, ignoring the gentle whimper that came from Dinky.

“Now what in the hay makes you say that? There’s no such things as zombie ponies. In’t that right Big Mac?” Applejack asked.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac replied.

“But we did see it!” Wonderwing protested.

Both adult ponies gave him a serious look. After a few moments, Applejack sighed. “Ah’ll right, it seems like ya’ll have some explainin’ to do.”

After a few moments of both Pipsqueak and Wonderwing reporting in what they saw, both adults turned to Dinky, who was still visibly shaken but otherwise okay. “Now little missy, would it make ya’ll feel any better if’n we had a little ole look see?” Applejack asked, watching the little unicorn nod. “Ah’ll right then. We’ll have a look ‘round here, an’ make sure that there taint nothin’ here that’ll getcha. Okay with you Big Mac?” She asked.

“Eeyup.” The stallion replied.

“Well then, you youngun’s sit tight. We’ll take a look ‘round and see if there’s somethin’ round here. Then ya’ll need to get some sleep.” Applejack ordered, watching as all seven foals nodded silently in response. “All right then, let’s go Big Mac.” She said, turning for the door and stepping out of it.

“Eeyup.” He replied, following her outside.

As the two adults left, everypony in the room had a chance to calm down and think about what had happened.

“Maybe it wasn’t a zombie pony.” Sweetie Belle was the first to say, breaking the silence that hung over them all.

“Yeah, and I’m an alicorn.” Scootaloo replied sarcastically.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sweetie Belle snapped.

“It means that what your saying isn’t sounding like what you were feeling just a few minutes ago.” Scootaloo replied. “You were screaming like the rest of us, and you also threw apples at that thing like the rest of us. And now you’re going to just say it wasn’t real?”

“Well... I mean we were pretty tired when it showed up.” Sweetie Belle replied. “It could have been something the boys could have thought up to scare us.” She said, giving both Wonderwing and Pipsqueak a look.

“What?” They both exclaimed.

“I’m just throwing out ideas. I mean, it’s not totally impossible. There have been pegasi and earth ponies that have gone to magical college before. Or at least that’s what Twilight said anyways.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“But neither one of us has any magic powers!” Pipsqueak said.

“Everypony has magic Pipsqueak. It’s just different from pony to pony.” Dinky corrected.

“Well barring that how are Pipsqueak and I,” Wonderwing motioned a hoof in between the two of themselves, “Stayed in a room that’s at least fifty feet from the base of the tree in the air, and that I can’t fly really well yet, plus the fact that we can’t control our magic the way that a unicorn could how do you explain us even setting up or even thinking about this prank you’re all talking about? I didn’t even meet Pipsqueak until two weeks ago.”

“Well... you could have gotten another pony you do know to help you with the prank.” Sweetie Belle retorted, almost at a loss for words.

“I’ve lived in Canterlot all of my life. I didn’t know anypony outside of the city and was told that meeting other ponies was a waste of time by my dad. I don’t think that could have happened anytime soon.” Wonderwing replied, watching Sweetie Belle’s ears droop slightly. “It was a good theory though.”

“Guys, guys, guys. We’re getting sidetracked here.” Scootaloo said, looking around at the other crusaders. “Chances are, not that I doubt your older sister or brother Applebloom-”

“Ya’ll better not.” Applebloom replied, looking at Scootaloo crossly.

“Well, chances are that they won’t be able to find the zombie pony and tell us that it’s nothing to worry about.” Scootaloo said, watching everypony look at her curiously.

“An’ wot makes you say somethin’ like tha’?” Pipsqueak asked.

“Trust me Pipsqueak; I watch a lot of horror movies.” Scootaloo answered. “And I know, that their just going to come on back and tell us to go back to sleep because there’s nothing to be worried about.” She said.

“And your point is?” Sweetie Belle asked, her fatigue getting the better of her.

“The point is that we can use this chance to get our Zombie Hunting Cutie Marks!” Scootaloo answered happily, watching as none of the other foals shared her enthusiasm.

“Zombie Hunting Cutie Marks?” Sweetie Belle repeated.

“What would that even look like?” Twist asked.

“Well, it would have something to do with hunting zombies and stuff. Maybe something awesome like a whip that lion tamers use or something!” Scootaloo exclaimed, hearing groans from the other crusaders.

“Nuh-uh. That’s too scary.” Dinky immediately piped up.

“What do you mean? It’s not like you’re going to get bitten by one and turn into a zombie.” Scootaloo replied, causing Dinky to gasp again.

“Hey, ya’ll need ta cool it Scootaloo. Twist just got her calmed down.” Applebloom scolded. “‘Sides, we don’t need ta be crusadin’ now. It’s late, and tha’ more time we spend stayin’ up like this, tha’ less time we have for crusadin tomorrow.”

“Fine.” Scootaloo groaned, folding up her hooves.

“She makes a pretty good point.” Wonderwing commented.

As if they were waiting for the foals to say something sensible, Applejack and Big Mac returned. The orange mare smiled and looked around at the seven foals. “Ah’ll right, we looked everywhere and there was no sighn of yer zombie pony.” She said, watching as Scootaloo threw her hooves into the air in exasperation.

“Are you sure?” Dinky asked hopefully.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac replied.

“Ya’ll can git some shut-eye here now, we’ll be in the house if’n you need us.” Applejack replied, watching the foals nod. After a round of thank you’s and good nights from all seven foals, both she and Big Mac left the tree house for the night and left them alone.

“Sometime tomorrow we need to fix that hole in the second floor.” Scootaloo replied, sounding a little defeated as everypony else snuggled up in their sleeping bags. She turned, watching as Wonderwing stared out of one of the few windows that were built into the club house. “Wonderwing, come on. We need to get some sleep here if we want to do more crusading tomorrow.” She said.

“It’s still out there.” Wonderwing replied, causing the other foals to sit up.

“Whatcha’ mean it’s still out there? Mah sister said that there wasn’t a zombie pony out there to begin with.” Applebloom said, sounding annoyed.

“I can’t explain it.” Wonderwing began, continuing to look out the window and into the darkened orchards. “Maybe I’m just like Scootaloo, only having read too many horror stories back home instead of watching horror movies, but that zombie pony’s going to show up again.”

“Well why don’t we go look for it?” Scootaloo asked with hope in her voice, but felt it fade as Wonderwing shook his head.

“No, that’s what it wants us to do. We’re not going to play its games. If the Zombie pony wants any of us. It’s going to have to come get us.” Wonderwing replied, turning his head towards the other six foals behind him.

“So what we’re just going to sit here and try to chase him away with our ammo, which is running thin at the moment, and be up all night so we can’t get our crusading done?” Sweetie Belle asked angrily.

“No, you just leave that to me.” Wonderwing replied.

Several hours later, while the other crusaders were sleeping, Wonderwing quietly tiphoofed in between them. There were no signs of the zombie pony, but if the safety of his new friends meant that he would have to risk a night’s worth of sleep then he would go back home and take a nap when the time came. He was just about to pass the front door when, in the light of the full moon he saw the zombie pony standing and staring at the tree house. Without a word, Wonderwing tapped his wristwatch with his hoof, causing one of the glass protectors to open upwards.

“All right zombie pony, let’s see if you can handle this.” Wonderwing uttered, tapping the wristwatch again as it began to emit a dull purplish glow.

The zombie pony seemed to hear him, or that’s what the foal thought, as his horn began to flare up with a blood red aura. Wonderwing quietly opened the window that was closest to him, and leapt through it, hitting the dirt of the farm hard. The zombie pony had followed his movements, and was now pointing its horn directly at him. With a growl and a dull shout, Wonderwing cried, “Change me now!”

The shout could have been heard back up in the tree house as Scootaloo immediately bolted up and rubbed her eyes. She looked at the opened window and saw the zombie pony from it and began panicking. “Hey, girls. Girls! The zombie pony is back!” She said in a horrifying whisper. When nopony else stirred, she turned and saw a dull purple glow radiate from closer to the tree house. As the glow got brighter, the pegasus trotted over to investigate. What she saw amazed her.

Below, Wonderwing was being obscured more and more by the localized light show, being bright enough to blot out some of what the zombie pony was doing. It was bright enough to mistake it for a spell being cast by Twilight Sparkle.

“Scootaloo, can ya’ll turn that light out...” Applebloom moaned from the inside of the tree as both she and Sweetie Belle sat up.

“But I can’t. Wonderwing’s doing it.” Scootaloo replied, causing both foals to immediately bolt to the window that she stood from. The immediate noise caused Dinky, Pipsqueak, and Twist to wake up with the unicorn having a frown on her sleepy face.

“Whath all the commothion?” Twist asked rubbing her eyes as she, Pipsqueak and Dinky vied to get a better look. When they could see what was going on, they immediately snapped awake.

Back outside the tree house, Wonderwing continued to let the light cover and obscure his body. “Come on... I need just a little more...” He thought, closing his eyes as the zombie pony let loose its spell from its horn. He could hardly hear the sounds of the other crusaders gasping and telling him to look out as a roaring gust of wind filled his ears, blocking out any other sound. He then reopened them, smiling as he did so.

The six other foals watched only as the ball of magical energy passed through Wonderwing and hit a tree on the other side of their clubhouse. However, as the light died down, the foals gasped as Wonderwing now sported an all black jumpsuit with an all black helmet and a cape which covered every part of his body save his wings and tail.

“Whoa.” Was all Scootaloo could say, watching as Wonderwing struck a pose that caused purple smoke to erupt from either side of him and into the air.

Wonderwing glared at his adversary, watching as it made no sudden moves but seemed to want to charge him. Wonderwing smiled, appearing to be happy to oblige. As the zombie pony reared up and began to charge, Wonderwing leapt into the air and did a flip which cleared about half of the distance in seconds.

“That had to be at least twenty yards!” Sweetie Belle said, her brain not believing what she was seeing.

Then, as if the zombie pony had taken the leap as a challenge, the beast’s horn began to glow before it unleashed a stream of magic at the foal. Wonderwing jumped in the air again, avoiding the attack and extended his left hoof like he were a karate master.

“He’s not gonna make it!” Applebloom gasped, watching Wonderwing’s descent into his foe.

The earth pony was wrong in her analysis as Wonderwing’s attack connected, smashing his hoof into the zombie pony’s back. The zombie pony turned and gnashed its teeth at him, which caused him to leap into the air again and back onto the ground. The zombie pony followed the movement and prepared itself to buck him senseless, but was met with another pair of front hooves to the chest.

“How’s e’ do tha’?” Pipsqueak asked aloud.

The zombie pony, absolutely furious that Wonderwing was beating him, thrashed back and tried to stamp him with its front hooves. Wonderwing was too quick however as he rolled out of the way and swept the zombie pony’s back legs with his back hooves.

“Ooh, be careful...” Dinky uttered, trembling at the sight of her new friend fighting a monster.

The zombie pony staggered back to its hooves only to be met by another pair of hooves to its side which sent it flying. After a few moments, the zombie pony let out an agonized wail and collapsed before disappearing in a puff of black smoke.

“He did it! Wonderwing thtopped the thombie pony!” Twist said excitedly as their fellow crusader trotted calmly back to the clubhouse.

As soon as Wonderwing got back to the clubhouse, and subsequently changed back to only just wearing his crusader cape, he was met with the smiling faces of his fellow crusaders.

“See. I told you I had a plan.”

The Crusader Changers

View Online

Chapter 7

-The Crusader Changers-

The following morning, just as Celestia’s sun had started its ascent into the heavens, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were already tearing up the streets in Ponyville in their Crusader mobile.

“So what was it like? Fighting that zombie thing?” Sweetie Belle asked over the hum of both Scootaloo and Wonderwing’s wings.

“Well, I knew that it was really dangerous, but...” Wonderwing paused, searching for the right words to say.

“But what?” Applebloom asked.

“Well I just knew that if I didn’t do something, we all would have been dead.” Wonderwing replied.

“Where are we going anyways?” Dinky asked, watching as several buildings and homes that she didn’t recognize flew by.

“I have something for you guys. You gave me something cool, and I’m giving you something cool.” Wonderwing replied, as he and Scootaloo made another left turn onto Cherry Street. After a few minutes passed, the crusaders arrived at Wonderwing’s home, and watched as the pegasus got of the scooter excitedly.

“Whoa, I didn’t know that anypony lived here.” Scootaloo commented, looking nervous in front of the two story house.

“Hey, thith ith clothe to where I live!” Twist exclaimed.

The foals all dismounted from the Crusader Mobile, and calmly moved it out of the way from other ponies that were walking in the street as Wonderwing galloped to the door. After following the foal up to the door and watching it open, they were met with the smiling face of Wonderwing’s mother.

“Mommy!” Wonderwing shouted, leaping into the unicorn’s hooves.

“Hey there my little Wonderwing. Are you done with your sleep over all ready?” She asked, watching as Wonderwing shook his head.

“No, we’re just here because I wanna show my friends here my cool watches!” He said happily.

“Watches? Is that what you wanted to show us?” Scootaloo said, not believing her ears.

“How do you think I beat the zombie pony?” Wonderwing asked, flashing the bronze colored watch around his hoof. The other crusaders made an, “o,” with Scootaloo rolling her eyes a little before following him inside.

“Zombie Pony?” Flower Petal said incredulously, looking down at her little foal.

“Yeah, it was big and mean and had decaying flesh and red eyes and sharp teeth and-”

“Ah think she gets it Scootaloo.” Applebloom said, calming the pegasus foal down.

“Well, my little stallion is all growing up! I think that he and his friends deserve a nice glass of milk and some cookies for being so brave in the face of that scary pony!” Wonderwing’s mother said, smiling as the foals faces all lit up.

“Really Mrs. Petal?” Sweetie Belle asked, before getting nudged in the side by Scootaloo.

“Of course. Now you all run along while I get those cookies made.” She said, trotting back to the kitchen as the seven foals ran upstairs to Wonderwing’s room. There, sitting on the dresser was the black case that held his other watches. The other foals watched carefully as Wonderwing grabbed a small chair from his closet and dragged it to his dresser before climbing on it and grabbing the case.

“You guys are going to love this.” Wonderwing said, opening the case to reveal the other six watches.

“Oh wow.” Scootaloo said, rolling her eyes a little.

“They’re really pretty.” Dinky complimented.

“Boy, these sure ahr fancy-lookin.” Applebloom commented.

“Is this what you used to transform?” Sweetie Belle asked, looking down on the watches curiously.

“These look like things you’d see at a jewelry store.” Pipsqueak commented.

As the foals all gathered around, the seven watches began to resonate with brightly colored lights. As each light and watch began to glow brighter, the foals shielded their eyes, but also tried to see what was going on.

Scootaloo was the first, as one of the watches that had a bright red aura descended on her and landed neatly on her right hoof. She blinked for a couple of moments at the sight of the watch as several of the cracks were in the glass began to fix themselves, and the lights behind the panel began to glow red.

Sweetie Belle eagerly took the watch that floated near her, blinking as the blue light that glowed from it seemed to fix its casing and reattach it to the band it had. She watched as one of the displays that reactivated displayed her own name in blue, and began to blink a little.

Applebloom also caught hers, nearly dousing out the yellow light that came with it. She held onto the watch as though it were a tiny egg or something special, as a pleasant warmth radiated from it as the second hand began moving again.

Dinky nearly dropped the watch that came to her, a very bubbly pink light began to radiate from the wristwatch as the sides of the watch appeared to be polished up before her eyes. She blinked once, watching as the logo for the Cutie Mark Crusaders appeared from the center of the watch from out of thin air and shone just like the colors of her own watch.

Twist smiled, something that she couldn’t help but doing, as she caught her watch in her hooves. The white light that came with the watch didn’t seem to diminish, but grow stronger as she held in her hooves which made her more confident about herself.

The last of the watches descended into the hooves of Pipsqueak, a bright brown glow emanating from it just like the other watches on the other sides. He, like the other crusaders, could feel a sudden warmth as he held it and calmly put the watch around his wrist, grinning at the sight.

Wonderwing looked around, watching the expressions of the other crusaders change as one by one they put on their watches. When the last watch was placed around Scootaloo’s hoof, seven beams of white light struck at a central point and began to fill the room with a bright aura of colors. Amongst those colors was the most intimidating, but at the same time gentlest pony that the Cutie Mark Crusaders had ever laid eyes on.

The pony was tall, almost as tall as Princess Celestia, and wore armor that seemed to radiate just like her sun. None of the foals could see the pony’s mane or tail, but could see a pair of stern-looking black eyes look down on them all. The pony’s coat appeared to be a bright white, almost like fresh snow, which contrasted with the black wing-like cape he wore.

“W-W-Who is th-th-that?” Dinky asked, looking up at the pony standing before them.

“I don’t know. But who ever he is, he reminds me of Princess Celestia.” Scootaloo whispered.

The pony looked around at the seven foals, staring at their dumbstruck faces. He smiled a little before beginning to speak. “Ponies of unparalleled innocence, Wielders of the emblems of the Crusade, you are the only ones who can save Equis from danger.”

The foals looked at each other before giving the pony a nervous look. “I’m sorry sir, but who are you? And why us?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“In life I was The Greatest Crusader. I had fallen in my last battle defending the Griffin Temple of their god Grimclaw the Terrible due to a betrayal in one of my own ranks.” The pony answered. “I call upon you now because the Temple is in great danger again.”

“The Temple of whosy-whatie now?” Scootaloo asked.

“He said the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible.” Sweetie Belle repeated.

“So what’s so special about this Temple thingy?” Scootaloo asked.

“Inside lies a dangerous power. The power of the Sphinx itself. It took everything that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna and the four Griffon Kings had to seal it away, and I was tasked in help defending it. It has been several centuries, but a group of ponies that would hope to gain access and control the power are close to unlocking its secrets. You are the only ones who can prevent this threat from happening.” The Greatest Crusader answered.

“An’ why us? Why cain’t the Elements of Harmony stop this here power from being released.” Applebloom asked.

“The power of the Temple recognizes the Elements of Harmony that sealed it away. That power will not be enough to reseal the temple. Only you seven are capable of such a task.” The Greatest Crusader replied.

“Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute.” Scootaloo began. “You’re asking a bunch of foals to help you save the world?” She asked. The Greatest Crusader said nothing, remaining silent as the pegasus’s face immediately lit up like a candle.

“Uh Scootaloo... Ah don’ think that this is a good idea.” Applebloom said, taking note of the glint in her eyes.

“Yeah, maybe this is something left over from somepony else who left the watches behind. You know, maybe like a prank spell or something.” Sweetie Belle commented.

“Bethideth that, our parenth wouldn’t want uth to get into thith kind of danger.” Twist said.

Scootaloo shook her head, glaring at the other Crusaders. “But you guys realize what this means?” She asked,
watching the other foals shake their heads.

“What?” Pipsqueak asked.

“It means maybe we can get Cutie Marks in being Super Heroes!” She said excitedly.

“But isn’t being a Super Hero really, really dangerous?” Dinky asked.

“Yeah, but you saw what Wonderwing did last night didn’t you?” Scootaloo asked. “He beat that zombie pony like it was a fresh record!” Everypony gave her a weird look. “What, I listen to DJ PON-3 on the radio when I get back from crusading. Is that a problem?”

“No... It’s just...” Sweetie Belle began, looking away a little.

“It didn’t sound right.” Applebloom answered.

“Well, I didn’t have the time to practice it since yesterday morning.” Scootaloo confessed before turning to Wonderwing. “What about you? What do you want to do?” She asked. The pegasus blinked, staring at the other crusaders who were eagerly waiting on him to say something.

“What, you mean me?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yeah, they ahr your watches after ahll.” Applebloom said.

Wonderwing stopped, looking down on his watch for a moment. Being a Super Hero did sound fun, and getting their cutie marks did sound like a lot of fun but he didn’t want any of his new friends to get hurt. With a somber shake of his head, Wonderwing looked back up to the other crusaders. “Getting our Super Hero Cutie Marks sounds fun and all, but...”

“But what?” Scootaloo asked, sounding impatient.

“I don’t think that any of our older siblings or parents would want us to get hurt.” Wonderwing continued, looking at each of the foals, and hearing a groan from Scootaloo.

“I figured that you would say that.” Scootaloo moaned.

“I’m not done yet.” Wonderwing said, surprising the crusaders. “I made a promise to help other ponies when I joined the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Just like everypony here, now that doesn’t mean we need to run off and go to this Temple ourselves, but we can still help out here and figure out what’s going on so we can tell everypony else what’s happening.”

“Meaning?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Meaning that while we can still try and get our Super Hero Cutie Marks this way, we won’t be able to get hurt unless we really try and do something that gets us hurt.” Wonderwing finished, seeing smiles on the other foals faces.

“You mean we can be super heroes just like Rainbow Dash?” Scootaloo asked, her face brightening up even more.

“Yeah, but we won’t get hurt-”

“ALL RIGHT!” Scootaloo shouted, leaping into the air. Even the other crusaders were liking the sound of Wonderwing’s idea, and after a few moments of understanding what he was trying to say they all had smiles on their faces. Before long they had all scampered out of Wonderwing’s room and out of the house, completely forgetting The Greatest Crusader.

“Umm... Excuse me? Is anypony going to explain what just happened?” He asked before vanishing a few moments later.

-Meanwhile, at an undisclosed location between Ponyville and Canterlot-

“What do you mean we have been faced with a minor setback?” Utopian snarled, glaring at a team of unicorn engineers from behind a very fancy looking writing desk.

“We are st-st-still unable to achieve maximum firing capacity with the seventeen inch cannons like you requested.” The head engineer, a bright blue unicorn reported, cringing as Utopian continued to glare at him.

“And tell me why you have be unable to achieve maximum firing capacity. This isn’t rocket science you know. It’s Technomagicks, and simple ones at that.” Utopian snarled.

“I-I-I’ve d-d-done all of the m-m-math b-but something is just keeping us from getting the cannons to f-fire properly. W-We calibrated the firing sights, tested and retested the safety mechanisms, and-” The head engineer was unable to finish his sentence. A blast of green energy had erupted from Utopian’s horn and vaporized him on the spot.

“You,” Utopian looked down on another one of the engineers, a dull yellow unicorn, and glared. “You are the new Head Engineer. I want no excuses, I just want this airship completed. Is that clear?” He asked.

“Y-Y-Yes sir.” The unicorn pony answered, keeping his head low.

Utopian smiled and waved one of his hooves in the group of engineers’ direction. “Take them away. I have more important things to do than listen to groveling.” He snarled watching as two of his soldiers, clad in dull green and black full body jumpsuits saluted with their hooves before lighting up their horns and marching the engineers out of sight.

“It’s so hard to capture competent ponies these days.” Utopian thought miserably, sliding out of a throne-like chair that he was sitting on and trotting over to the only window in the small office that he now occupied. Down, far below where he stood was a monster of an airship, glimmering like a dangerous looking jewel and as fierce as it could have been. The beast had to be at least two hundred to three hundred yards from end to end lengthwise, and sported the biggest pair of gun barrels that could have been normally seen on Equestrian sailing ships. Tuff Stuff had told him that Celestial Class Airships were capable of knocking anything out of the sky, as it was loaded with at least a set of eight inch Gatling guns in the front and rear of the body of the balloon’s armored hull, and had enough firepower that protected the basket of the airship to level a city the size of Canterlot twice.

The airship wasn’t enough for Utopian though, he knew it. The Princesses rendered the weapons that were forged by mortal hands ineffective against themselves as did all of the rulers of the respective kingdoms of Equis. But that wasn’t the only thing. The gigantic warship would have to contend with the Equestrian Royal Air Force, which included the Wonderbolts, and needed the extra protection that it provided.

This was his vessel. The thing that would ferry him on to his rise to power. No being in all the land was capable of conceiving a weapon of this magnitude. The hangar that it was currently housed in was at one point a prison that housed some of Equestria’s biggest criminals, but due to Celestia’s change of heart when Princess Luna’s return to her former self the place was shut down and the main facilities were bulldozed. It didn’t take Utopian long, or any effort to... Convince the builders to help him reopen and utilize the prison as a hangar, and it wasn’t long until he had enough space for his weapon of massed terror to be realized.

“It’s all coming together smoothly...” Utopian thought, watching and listening to the sounds of workers welding, cutting and putting together his masterpiece. “Soon all of Equestria will be mine. And then the world!” He thought, letting himself chuckle a little. The unicorn turned away from the window, hearing the sounds of knocking on the other side and said with a firm voice, “Enter.”

On the other side of the door, two ponies were thrust into the room. The first one appeared to be a soldier in the Equestrian Military, his golden armor glinting in the florescent light. The other pony, a scared looking bright green pegasus, looked around nervously as Tuff Stuff entered the room behind them before closing the door.

“Tuff Stuff, who are these ponies?” Utopian asked, glaring at the earth pony.

“They are members of the Equestrian Military, who just got a little too curious for their own good milord.” Tuff Stuff answered, watching as the armored soldier stood proud in Utopian’s presence while the pegasus huddled close to him.

“I see...” Utopian said, looking down on both trespassers. “Do you know who I am?” He asked, watching as the pegasus shook her head.

“I know that this is an illegal construction site, and that you are forcing ponies to work against their will. I also know that what you’re doing is against the law.” The soldier pony replied, watching as Utopian scoffed.

“Law? Law? You mean the laws that were set up so that the weak may flourish while the strong feed on that weakness?” Utopian smiled. “No my dear friend, your laws have no effect on me or the great work that I’m doing. Eventually you will all bow down to me.”

“The Elements of Harmony and The Princesses will stop you!” The Soldier challenged.

“Stop me?” Utopian scoffed, glaring at the soldier. “It is amazing how confident you are about how the Elements of Harmony or your precious Princesses will stop me, when in turn they will help me rise to power!” He smiled, shaking his head before turning to Tuff Stuff. “But alas, you two won’t live to tell about it. Kill them both, and dispose of the bodies so they won’t be found.” Utopian ordered, watching Tuff Stuff nod.

“All right you two, you heard the boss. Let’s go.” Tuff Stuff said, hoisting the soldier onto his shoulders before grabbing the now frantic pegasus.

“Wait, please! I won’t tell anypony! I swear!” The pegasus begged, getting down on her back legs and placing her hooves together. “Please, I have a family! I have a foal! Please no, Please! Please no!”

Utopian said nothing, watching as Tuff Stuff picked up the absolutely frantic pegasus. He smiled, the pegasus was trying everything in her power to escape from the earth pony, even flapping her wings. Before too long she too was grabbed and slung onto his shoulder, not before bucking Tuff Stuff in the face with a wild hoof.

As Tuff Stuff and both ponies left, the pegasus still screaming to be let go, Crimson Heart entered from another door off to Utopian’s left. “I see that you had the prisoner unicorns cast an anti flight spell milord.” Crimson Heart said, trotting calmly into the room.

“It makes the pegasi under our employ able to work to the fullest. Does this discomfort you Crimson Heart?” Utopian asked as the sounds of the pegasus mare’s screams could be heard from deeper in the airship hangar.

“Of course not milord.” Crimson Heart replied. “I have news.” He said, bowing low before placing a small file on Utopian’s desk.

“Ah.” Utopian said coolly. “And what sort of news is it?” He asked, picking up the case file with his magic before sitting down and opening it.

“We have heard reports that both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna will be attending the Ponyville Summer Fair. There will be a heavily armed contingent of guards at the festival, both marked and unmarked, and there are few points of entrance into where we will be able to make our strike.” Crimson Heart reported.

“And this bothers you, Crimson Heart?” Utopian asked, looking over the case file.

“No milord. In fact it excites me.” Crimson Heart replied. “With your permission milord, I have two suitable subjects for the sacrifice for the ritual. They are in the dossier that has been supplied.” He said confidently.

“Hmm... And you are certain that these foals will attend the Summer Fair? They both do look like they have better things to do than appear at a children’s festival.” Utopian asked.

“They are at the top of the city’s society. If there is anything that I have learned from my past experiences, is that one needs to trust the over privileged. They’ll show up when they can and will use their reputation to their advantage.” Crimson Heart reported.

Utopian nodded. “And have you heard from Serene Grace?” He asked, closing the file and setting it on his desk.

“Yes milord.” Crimson Heart reported. “She has been monitoring the situation in Ponyville the whole time. I have heard from her that one of our soldiers fell in battle with a masked assailant.”

“A masked assailant?”

“Yes milord.” Crimson Heart answered. “According to Serene Grace, a pony roughly the size of a foal all in black single-hoofedly defeated one of the soldiers assigned to Sweet Apple Acres. I asked her to elaborate on how, but even she was unable to explain it milord.”

“I see.” Utopian said, placing his hooves together.

“Serene Grace told me that she has replaced the soldier, and is keeping a closer eye on that particular area of the city. None of the town watch had been alerted about the incident, and none of citizens were alerted to the attack.” Crimson Heart added.

Utopian remained silent, studying the pegasus closely. He could tell that something was off about Crimson Heart, but it was hidden so well that not even Princess Celestia could have seen it without having to double check. “Is everything set for your arrival at the fair tomorrow?” Utopian asked carefully.

“Yes milord. All preparations on my end have been made, and I am ready to move out when you say it is time.” The pegasus reported.

“Good.” Utopian commented. “Then I have no further need of you at the moment. Return to your post, and wait there until it is time to act.”

“Yes milord.” The Pegasus replied before leaving the same way he came in.

Utopian processed the news that he was given from his top Lieutenant. “A pony the size of a foal defeats one of my soldiers? That is impossible.” Utopian thought, looking through the window and out over the airship below. “I can’t rule out the possibility that Task Force is with ponies he shouldn’t be with, but I also can’t rule out that it could be any other foal.” He thought, looking back down on the folder. “It shouldn’t matter, especially when I have hundreds of thousands of soldiers that are at my disposal. What’s one soldier when I will have my own nation bowing at my hooves. What’s one soldier to control of a planet?”

-Back in Ponyville-

It didn’t take the crusaders too long for them to figure out how to make their own suits. Sweetie Belle decided that a raid of her sister’s unused fabric was in order, and after literally charging down the front door and running through the elder unicorn’s room to grab several rolls of fabric, they were all ready back at the club house in less than an hour.

“Well first we need to see what Wonderwing’s suit looks like.” Sweetie Belle began, staring at Wonderwing.

“Huh?” Wonderwing asked, yawning.

“She means that ya’ll need ta transform like ya did last night.” Applebloom said, watching as Wonderwing nodded.

“OH! Okay.” Wonderwing replied, taking several steps back from the other crusaders and smiling. “Well, here goes.” Wonderwing said, gently tapping the glass on his watch with his right hoof before shouting, “Change me now!”

The other six foals shielded their eyes as the bright purple light from last night consumed their vision for a few moments before disappearing as fast as it came. Wonderwing now stood on the other side of the clubhouse, wearing a full black jumpsuit and a matching cape that appeared to be cut from the night itself. He also wore a pair of black boots and a belt that looked like polished stone while his helmet, which also was black, had a visor and a small section underneath the visor that appeared to be where they could hear him speak.

“So, do you need me to take this off?” Wonderwing asked, reaching to the back of his helmet and preparing to undo the buckles that protruded from either side.

“You can if you want. I’d imagine it’s pretty hot wearing that thing.” Scootaloo commented, watching as Wonderwing undid the buckles and removed the helmet from his head.

“So how are we going to make the suits look?” Dinky began. “I mean, Wonderwing’s does look really good.” She said as Wonderwing set his helmet down on the floor next to the table.

“I think that we need to make the thuitth match hith.” Twist answered.

“But why though? Not all Super Heroes have matching costumes.” Scootaloo asked.

“They do in Nippony.” Dinky replied. “My daddy got me this comic from Nippony, and it told the story of six ponies that
would get together and fight monsters and stuff. Their suits were similar to each others, but their colors were different.”

“Don’t you mean Neighpan?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“No, I’m pretty sure it was Nippony.” Dinky said. “Anyways, I think we should make our costumes similar to Wonderwing’s but make them different at the same time.”

“You mean like the Pony Rangers?” Pipsqueak asked.

“The Pony Rangers?” Everypony repeated.

“Yeah, it’s this really great show that my older sister got me into. A bunch of teenage ponies with attitude fight evil together and have these giant robot battles and everything! And their costumes match the colors that they wear all the time!” Pipsqueak said happily.

“I can’t believe that I didn’t even think about that...” Scootaloo said.

“Yeah, that show is awesome...” Sweetie Belle replied.

As five of the crusaders were all lost in thought, Wonderwing and Applebloom exchanged glances. It wasn’t until Applebloom coughed that they all snapped out of their thoughts.

“Who’re these here Pony Rangers?” Applebloom asked.

“I’ve never even heard of them before.” Wonderwing added.

The other five foals facehoofed.

“The Pony Rangers are some of the bestest Super Heroes in all of the world!” Dinky exclaimed.

“Tell me that you guys have at least seen the Green and Mean saga parts one through four.” Scootaloo asked, watching as both foals shook their heads.

“We don’ have a T.V. because Granny Smith smashed the first one because she thought it was possessed.” Applebloom replied.

“My daddy told me that T.V.’s are a bad influence on foals, and that if he were the pony in charge, they’d be all banned.” Wonderwing replied, hearing audible gasps from the other crusaders.

“You poor, poor, foals.” Scootaloo said, shaking her head somberly.

“You two are really missing out on a lot. Especially when the Pony Rangers get their awesomely cool ninja powers to beat the evil Dr. Viletrot.” Sweetie Belle said smiling.

“Eww, you like season three?” Scootaloo asked.

“Yeah, that’s the best season.” Sweetie Belle countered. “Why? Which season do you like Scootaloo?”

“The very first season is the best. And you can’t deny that.” Scootaloo said proudly.

“No it isn’t! How can you say the first season is best when Spring Starling and Full Suplex don’t even meet until the Green and Mean saga?” Sweetie Belle asked. “Their relationship doesn’t begin to bloom until late into season two!”

“You don’t need relationships in a show with nuthin’ but flank kicking.” Scootaloo said, beginning to glare at Sweetie Belle. “Besides, all of that lovey dovey stuff just slows it down.” She snapped.

“It does not.” Sweetie Belle countered. “It enhances the story!”

“What story?” Scootaloo asked. “All the story needs is, “There’s the monster terrorizing the city, go get it.” That’s all they really are.”

“No they’re not.” Sweetie Belle snapped.

“Yes they are.” Scootaloo shot back.

“No they aren’t!” The Unicorn said, getting in Scootaloo’s face.

“Yes they are!” Scootaloo said, her voice rising.

“No they-”

“Girls!” Applebloom snapped, causing both foals to look up. “It doesn’t matter what kinda stuff that show needs or doesn’t need.” She scolded. “We need to make our suits just like Wonderwing’s here, but different. Like Dinky said.”

Both foals calmed down a little as Wonderwing smiled. “You two are friends, aren’t you?” He asked, watching them both nod. “Well then why don’t you stop fighting, and let’s get to work on making the costumes.” He asked, watching as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo turned back to each other and extended their hooves as an agreement to stop fighting.

Each of the crusaders spent the better half of the day working on designing and making their costumes. And just like they had said, each one was similar to Wonderwing’s, but different at the same time.

Scootaloo’s was a bright red, almost like an apple. Her back hooves were covered with a pair of boots that had a set of flames that came to the top of the boots before stopping, and her belt was almost like a ruby. Her cape looked almost like the Crusader cape that she and the rest of the crusaders wore, but it didn’t have any of the gold trim because Wonderwing didn’t have any on his.

Sweetie Belle, who apparently got really lucky according to Scootaloo, wore an all blue suit that matched the colors of the Wonderbolts flying suits. Her boots were a brighter color than the rest of the suit, and had a white trim around the base that made them look like sneakers that some ponies would wear in Canterlot. Her cape also was a brighter blue than her suit, and seemed to shimmer in some places in the light that still filled the room from sundown.

Applebloom’s suit was different, to say the least. Her suit itself was a bright and sunny yellow, which almost blended in with her coat as she wore it. Her boots looked more like a pair of cowpony boots, complete with spurs and all. Her cape was also slightly different, as they had run out of the yellow used in making her cape, but had managed to grab a different color from inside the house. It was duller in color, but at least they could tell where her neckline was they needed to.

Dinky’s was a bright bubbly pink, and seemed to mesmerize the other crusaders as she happily hopped around in it. Her boots were pink as well, but looked like muffins came and over took the pair as they covered a good portion of them. Her cape was also pink, and as the foal hopped around, it had a sort of dizzying effect on Pipsqueak, who was unfortunate enough to watch the whole time that Dinky moved around.

Twist’s was a bright an solid white. Sweetie Belle apologized to her as she couldn’t find a way to make the red and white swirl go together at all for her suit, but made up for it in the boots. Twist’s boots looked more like candy canes than boots, with varying rows of red and white that went up along the boot. Her cape was also a solid white, which seemed a little more gentle than compared to Dinky’s, and as Twist admired it she could see that looked, as she put it, “Very cool.”

Pipsqueak’s suit, though it did have the same design as Wonderwing’s suit, looked and felt more like it was made for a pirate that lived on the high seas than a foal. The brown fabric that his suit was made from was just as shiny as everypony else’s, but at the same time it had that essence that made it look ten times cooler than what it was. His boots also were reminiscent of a pirate’s, as they had a pointed end and a simple buckle down on the end where his hoof was. His cape was also brown, but had the same feeling that the rest of his suit had, and hung in such a nonchalant manner that it really impressed everypony there.

“Great job Sweetie Belle, these look awesome!” Scootaloo complimented, walking in circles as she tried to get a better look at herself.

“Yeah, you did a really good job!” Dinky said, continuing to bounce around the room.

“Ahr you sure yer sister’s gonna be okay with this though?” Applebloom asked. “Ah mean this is nice and all, but-”

“But nuthin’!” Scootaloo said. “We’ll let her know that we, “Borrowed,” some of her fabric when she asks anyways, so it’s not stealing. Besides, this is really cool!” She said, striking a pose.

“But what about the helmetth?” Twist asked.

Wonderwing shrugged. “We can worry about those tomorrow before the Summer Fair.”

“Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take too long.” Sweetie Belle said, yawning a little.

“Hey, maybe if these costumes are really good, do you think we could wear them to Nightmare Night?” Dinky asked.

“Yeah! And we can win first prize in the costume contest!” Scootaloo said excitedly.

“You guys celebrate Nightmare Night?” Wonderwing asked.

“You haven’t celebrated Nightmare Night?” The other crusaders asked all at once.

“Well, no.” Wonderwing replied. “My dad thinks that it’s a useless holiday. Along with the Summer Sun Celebration and Winter Wrap Up.”

“Well yer dad’s no fun.” Applebloom said.

“We gotta get you away from him and get you to live here.” Scootaloo said, sounding concerned. “Nopony can truly
say they lived unless they went out on a Nightmare Night Candy run.”

“Or watched Princess Celestia raise the sun.” Dinky added.

“Or helped Wrap Up Winter.” Sweetie Belle said, yawning again.

“Are those things really that important?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well of course they are!” Pipsqueak exclaimed. “Your dad’s opinions on Nightmare Night is a load of rubbish. Complete nonsense.”

“Yeah, and you can tell your dad that whatever he thinks about us is a load of hay too.” Scootaloo said.

“There’s nothing better than having friends, especially on the holidays. Your dad doesn’t understand that.” Sweetie Belle said calmly.

“You’re right... I don’t think that I ever want to leave here. Not without you guys.” Wonderwing said calmly, a small set of tears streaking from his eyes.

“Hey... Don’t be thad Wonderwing.” Twist said, smiling at the crying pegasus.

“What’s wrong?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I-I-I j-just never kn-knew that ha-having friends could be so much fun.” Wonderwing said between sobs.

“There there, it’s all right. You don’t need to be sad Wonderwing.” Sweetie Belle said, trotting over to the crying pegasus and giving him a hug. “We’ll always be here. Okay?” She asked, looking from the pegasus to the other foals before beckoning them over to join them both.

“Yeah, I’ve always got your back.” Scootaloo said proudly.

“Yer not goin’ ta be lonely anymore.” Applebloom added.

“I’ll be there when you need me Wonderwing.” Dinky said.

“You can thtop by any time you need to talk Wonderwing.” Twist said.

“We’ll all be here, all of us will be here together.” Pipsqueak said happily.

Wonderwing looked up, seeing the other crusaders and smiled as his tears slowly went away. Quietly and calmly he returned the hug, and said, “Thanks you guys.”

They remained together in silence for a few moments before releasing the hug, watching as Wonderwing wiped his
eyes with a free hoof. He smiled before taking several steps back and putting his helmet back on his head.

“What’re you doin?” Applebloom asked.

“I need to change back.” Wonderwing answered, turning back to the other crusaders. “I mean, your parents would look at us funny if we went in there wearing our super suits right?” He asked, receiving nods from the other foals.

“That makes sense actually.” Scootaloo said, looking herself over.

Wonderwing nodded, before holding the hoof with his watch in front of him. He then shouted, “Power Down,” and after several flashes of colorful light, his full suit was gone, but that wasn’t the only thing that had changed.

“My suit’s gone!” Scootaloo shouted, looking down at herself to see that she wasn’t wearing anything except the
crusader cape that she had on her back.

The other foals looked themselves over to find that they were in the same predicament until they stared at Wonderwing.

“That’s the command word that I used when I wanted to change back to what I was wearing before.” He said, watching as the other foals nodded.

“You sure that you never saw an episode of Pony Rangers?” Dinky asked.

“No, I’m positive. Why?” Wonderwing replied.

“Well, it’s just that’s what the Pony Rangers say when they want to demorph.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“Well I didn’t know that. Honestly, I didn’t know about the Pony Rangers until today.” Wonderwing replied.

After a few moments of silence their ears were met with the sounds of rumbling stomachs, which caused a chorus of giggles between the foals.

“Ah think it’s time for some supper.” Applebloom said, grinning.

“Yeah, let’s go crusaders!” Scootaloo said, racing out of the clubhouse with Dinky, Sweetie Belle, Twist, Pipsqueak, and Applebloom in tow. Wonderwing smiled a moment before chasing after them, feeling glad that he had good friends.

It was the best feeling in the world.

The Summer Fair! Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are Captured?

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Chapter 8

-The Summer Fair! Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are Captured?-

The following day promised to be an extremely busy one for Ponyville. Everypony was moving from place to place, making sure that anything and everything was perfect for the arrival of both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Everypony was present in helping the small city get ready, from the flowers in the right positions to getting the birds to sing whenever they arrived. Nothing was left to chance, especially when the planners for the Summer Fair included Twilight Sparkle and Prince Shining Armor.

“I’m glad that you could make it back here Shining. I heard that the pony who took your position as Captain of the Guard in Canterlot is so paranoid it’s silly.” Twilight said, heading down main street alongside her brother. She never really got to see him that often, what with the elder unicorn being married to an alicorn and being essentially a ruler of another nation there was little time that they could use to talk face to face.

“It’s not a problem Twily.” Shining Armor answered, running a hoof playfully through his little sister’s mane. “After all, what you did for Cadence and I needed to be paid back in full.” He said looking around and watching as ponies young and old set up carnival games, ticket booths, and even prepared several food stalls. “She’s glad that things got sorted out quickly. That would have been a nightmare if the changelings won.”

“Yeah. It could have been.” Twilight said, chuckling a little watching her brother closely. The white coated unicorn seemed to be the perfect partner for her foalsitter. “No, he is the perfect stallion for her. They were meant for each other.” Twilight said mentally, reprimanding herself for thinking otherwise. She had known Shining Armor since they were foals, and yet there seemed to be a certain glow about him now, not in the way he acted or spoke about Cadence but more along the lines of how he felt about her when she had looked into her brother’s eyes. “How is Cadence doing anyways?” Twilight asked.

“She’s doing fine, she just seems to be a little worn out from after our honeymoon, but she fine all in all.” Shining Armor answered, watching as a little unicorn colt struggled with placing a blender on a food stall too high up for him to reach. His horn flared up with a blue aura before the blender could fall, which caused the little foal to look in their direction and smile thankfully. Shining Armor returned the smile before continuing with Twilight along their meandering path through the fairgrounds.

“What about you?” Shining Armor asked, “How’ve you been holding up since then?”

Twilight shrugged. “I’ve been doing just the same-old same-old. Studying up on magic, spending time with my friends,
you know... Boring non-royal stuff like that.”

Shining Armor shook his head. “Your friends aren’t boring. You tell me more about them in your letters than you do about yourself you know.” He said, watching Twilight blush a little.

“I guess that I do enjoy their company as much as I did with you when I was a filly.” Twilight said. “What I meant was, there isn’t really anything dangerous and exciting going on around here.”

Shining Armor laughed. “You know, you sound like some of the new recruits back in Canterlot when I was Captain of the Guard.” Twilight looked up to her brother with a puzzled look on her face. “You see,” He began, sighing a little, turning down to the lavender unicorn, “Peace, True Peace, is the thing that all heroes strive for. It’s something that we work hard for every day, just so we can go home and get ready for the next time we’re needed.”

“Aww come on!”

Both unicorns looked up to see Pinkie Pie, surprisingly carrying an entire bale of hay and several trays of sweets on her back, glaring at them both. “You can’t make that reference! That game was terrible!” She shouted. Both unicorns stared blankly at her for a few moments before the pink mare shrugged and walked off, leaving the pair together.

“Did she...” Shining Armor asked.

“Don’t ask, it’s just Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie.” Twilight said, smiling a little.

Both unicorns continued their patrol, watching as the party mare seemingly built a booth for Sugarcube Corner in less than a few seconds. Twilight could see that Shining Armor was equally confused and impressed, seeing that the booth not only had several deserts already on display but was also sporting a mini-fridge and an ice-box plus an extremely large sound system.

“She works fast.” Shining Armor commented quietly.

“That’s Pinkie Pie for ya’.” Twilight replied, snickering a little.

Both unicorns remained silent until the sounds of a pony flying at sub-mach speeds roared above them. They both looked up, watching as a rainbow colored streak crashed into and devastated the few clouds that hung above the Fair Ground’s airspace. They both ducked as the streak came barreling towards them, kicking up a small storm of dust before landing promptly on the ground behind them.

“Rainbow!” Twilight snapped, coughing through the dust cloud.

“Oh, hey Twilight. Hey Shining. Whatcha doin here?” Rainbow Dash asked as the cloud died down.

“We’re just making an inspection on the fairgrounds before both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna get here Miss Dash.” Shining Armor replied.

“Whoa, easy there Shining. It’s just Rainbow, or Dash. Or Rainbow Dash. The miss isn’t necessary. Besides, you know me.” Rainbow Dash corrected.

“Sorry, I kinda forgot.” Shining Armor replied.

“Anyways, I came here to tell you that the sky is clear.” Rainbow Dash said, smiling proudly as both unicorns nodded in her direction.

“Great job Rainbow, now the other pegasi could use your help with some of the weather game events that we’ve got going on at town square. You think that you can help out with that?” Twilight asked, watching Rainbow Dash nod.

“Of course Twilight, anything to help out for the Summer Fair.” Rainbow Dash replied before taking off again. She stopped however, and scanned the crowds of working ponies and blinked a little.

“What’s wrong Rainbow Dash?” Shining Armor asked.

“I don’t see Rarity.” The pegasus replied. “Or the Cutie Mark Crusaders, usually they’d be out here trying to help with something and we’d have to go and clean it up.”

“Isn’t Applejack watching them back over at Sweet Apple Acres?” Twilight asked, watching the pegasus shake her head.

“No, I just talked to her before I got the sky clear.” Rainbow Dash replied. “She told me that they were working on something that they would use for the fair themselves. Wouldn’t tell her what it was though, I just know that from what she told me that it was going to be awesome like their theme song.”

“You do realize that it was,” Twilight looked around in case the aforementioned foals were listening in from somewhere near them, “Really, really bad right?”

“We must’ve not heard the same song then.” Rainbow Dash said, shrugging her shoulders. “Anyway’s I’ve gotta go. Weather games can’t get help with Equestria’s number one most awesome pegasus now can they?” She asked, waiting for
a response from both unicorns. “Well they can’t so, I’ll see you two around the fair.” And with that, Rainbow Dash flew off in the direction of town square.

“Pretty confident in her skills, isn’t she Twilight?” Shining Armor asked.

“That’s just Rainbow Dash for you. Something she said bothered me though.” Twilight said quietly.

“What’s wrong?” Shining Armor asked.

“Well, she was right. Most of the time the Cutie Mark Crusaders would be trying to, “help,” and get their Cutie Marks at the same time. It’s actually a staple of what goes on around here.” Twilight said.

“Is that such a bad thing though?” Shining Armor asked.

“No, its just that its got me worried even more.” Twilight replied. “It’s the things that they do when they’re not around that worries me. Especially when nopony’s there to watch them.”

“I’m sure that whatever they’re doing they’ll be fine.” Shining Armor said reassuringly.

“I hope so.” Twilight replied.

-Back at the Crusader Clubhouse-

“Steady... Steady... Steady...” Sweetie Belle said, watching the strip of paper nervously. The crusaders were bright and eager to begin working on their helmets the next day that they started early. According to something Sweetie Belle read in the Library, the easiest way for the foals to make helmets was by making them out of paper machè. Now, while most of their clubhouse had been coated from top to bottom in flour, the foals had managed to cover and construct at least six helmets from a set of balloons that Pinkie Pie had gave them, “In case of Balloon Emergencies,” as she put it.

They had all agreed that as soon as their helmets had done drying, they would be able to cut the places for the visors out and make spots for them to be able to speak, just like Wonderwing’s helmet, and get them painted in time for the Summer Fair.

Pipsqueak was just putting down the last strip of paper on his helmet, thanks to Sweetie Belle’s guidance, when the sounds of a pair of humming wings buzzed from down below. This didn’t distract either of the foals, and as Pipsqueak placed and smoothed out the last piece, the door to the Clubhouse was flung open wide.

“Hey there you guys!” Scootaloo said happily, watching as both Sweetie Belle and Pipsqueak had turned to her. Both the earth pony and the unicorn set the bowl of the paper machè mix down and the brush they used before smiling at their friends.

“So, did you get the hard part done?” Scootaloo asked.

“Well we just finished with the paper machè when you two got back.” Sweetie Belle said, watching as Wonderwing entered the clubhouse with a lot of coloring supplies in his saddlebags.

“Where’s Twist and Dinky?” Wonderwing asked, looking around the clubhouse and seeing that both foals couldn’t be found.

“They went off to the fair grounds to see if their parents needed any help with anything.” Applebloom reported, climbing down from the rope ladder with a small toolbox in her mouth. “Dinky’s mom runs a small muffin cart when she isn’t delivering mail, and Twist’s parents make candy. They should be back anytime now.” She said, looking down at her wrist watch.

“So, is that hole in the second floor fixed?” Scootaloo asked, walking over with Wonderwing and setting down a set of saddlebags of her own in the cleanest place in the clubhouse.

“Well, as good as it’ll ever be.” Applebloom reported. “Ah couldn’t find any spare pieces from the barn, so Ah asked Big Mac if Ah could git some to use. He didn’t say anythin’ cept’ what he usually says and grabbed me a big enough piece of wood fer us to use.”

“That’s great! Now it won’t be so drafty up there!” Scootaloo said happily as Wonderwing nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, now Pipsqueak and I have a place to sleep again. Thanks Applebloom.” The pegasus said gratefully.

“An’ what’s that supposed to mean?” Applebloom asked, sounding a little hurt.

“Nothing!” Wonderwing replied. “Absolutely nothing. I mean, you guys didn’t want us to sleep in the same room, so I’m thinking that you’re all finally relieved that the second floor was fixed so you all can get some sleep.”

The fillies looked at Wonderwing before turning to Pipsqueak who shrugged. “Hey, e’ said it. Not me.” He said.

The room was dead silent for a few moments, until giggles from the foals broke it. Before less than a full minute, they were all cracking up, on the floor and laughing.

“Oh wow... Heh heh, I never thought about it that way. Scootaloo said.

“Nope, but I’m glad tha’s over with.” Applebloom said, smiling a little.

“You guys are how old and you still believe in cooties?” Sweetie Belle asked skeptically.

“Hey, you’re one to talk.” Scootaloo said with a smile. “You’re scared of Slendermane.”

Sweetie Belle couldn’t have gone any paler. “W-W-Well y-y-y-you would b-be too if you h-h-had to play th-that g-game w-with your s-sister...” She stammered, her pupils dilating to the size of pinpricks.

“What happened?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well when there was still only me, Applebloom and scaredy pants over there in the crusaders, We tried getting our April Foals Day Cutie Marks by pulling a prank on everypony.” Scootaloo explained. “Well there was a mannequin involved, and a lot of screaming and... I think we went a little overboard on that one.”

“A little?” Applebloom asked. “We right dun near scared the hooves offa Rarity, and Fluttershy won’t even go near Rarity’s house when she has an order for a Stallion somewhere.”

“Whoa, that sounds bad.” Wonderwing commented.

“N-N-Not as b-b-bad as seeing i-it in f-first h-hand...” Sweetie Belle replied, still stammering and doing her best to calm down.

“Well you know that Slendermane isn’t real, so don’t worry about it.” Scootaloo said confidently. “Besides, a pony like that wouldn’t be able to handle our new powers that we got.”

“Well, I dunno... Slendermane is scary, but you can’t beat the Trotshire Slasher.” Pipsqueak said.

“The who?” Everypony asked at once.

“The Trotshire Slasher.” Pipsqueak repeated, watching everypony else. “Supposedly, e’ only comes out a’ night, when the moon is full. E’ carries around this giant knife, groanin’ and moanin’ abou’ ow e’ needs the blood o’ innocen’ foals ta
keep is motor goin.’”

“Innocent foals?” Wonderwing repeated.

“B-B-blood?” Sweetie Belle whispered.

“Yeah, an’ the worst thing abou’ it is, nopony’s ever caught im’. Not even the Princesses.” Pipsqueak said.

All of the foals trembled in silence until a hoof knocked on the door to the Crusader entrance which caused them all to jump. Scootaloo quietly tip-hoofed back to the door and opened it revealing Dinky and Twist on the other side of it, each with confused looks on their faces.

“Uh... Did we mith thomething?” Twist asked.

“We’re you guys telling ghost stories?” Dinky asked.

“Um... Uh, no we weren’t. We were just... Uh...” Scootaloo began, looking nervous.

“We were just talking about how cool the Summer Fair will be once the Princesses get here.” Wonderwing said, covering for Scootaloo.

“Oh. Well everypony’s at the Fair Grounds getting set up. Momma’s fine with making the muffins for now, and she said I can come back here to help.” Dinky reported.

“And my mom and dad thaid that they’re okay with thetting up their booth right now. Mom told me that I can hang our with you guyth until the fair thtarth.” Twist added, watching the other crusaders nod.

“That’s fine y’all.” Applebloom said.

“So, where do we want to meet up?” Scootaloo asked.

The foals remained silent, the Summer Fair was usually the second biggest celebration in the Summer, behind only the Summer Sun Celebration. The Fair Grounds weren’t that big of a place, but they all still could get lost if things didn’t go right.

“How about we meet at the Main Pavilion in front of the front gate?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“But that’s in front of everypony though.” Scootaloo commented. “We don’t want to change in front of them. They’ll know who we are then.”

The foals continued to think about where they would meet up in silence, and as moments turned into minutes, ideas were passed out and shot down. None of them could think of a way to make themselves known.

“I have an idea.” Dinky commented. The other foals looked up expectantly as she blushed.

“What’s the idea Dinky?” Scootaloo asked.

“Well... We could change in between the booths... I mean nopony will see us there.” She said.

The foals thought about the information that Dinky presented. It sounded extremely simple, but at the same time there was the chance that an adult might stop them and they didn’t want anypony to know of their surprise.

“I mean, we could meet at Momma’s booth when it’s time to change and we can change there. No pony really goes back there unless there’s something unplugged. But I’d have to ask Momma-”

“That’s perfect!” Scootaloo shouted.

“It is?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yeah, how is that better than changing behind the Barn behind the Fair Grounds?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Well think about it for a second. We don’t need to worry about anypony coming up on us while we morph up, and we have easy access to the Fair in case trouble shows up!” Scootaloo said excitedly.

“Yeah, but ah don’ know... Wouldn’t we git shocked from the extension cords in the back back there?” Applebloom asked.

“Extension cords?” Scootaloo asked. “There won’t be any extension cords. What do you think this is? Manehatten or something? Everypony here will probably have only fryers and grills and stuff for gas where the cooking’s going to be.”

“And the games are on the other side of the street where the food is!” Dinky said excitedly.

“Which means that all the cabling and stuff that we’re worried about will be away from where we’re changing.” Pipsqueak said calmly.

“Wait a minute you guys, won’t the adults think that its weird that seven foals happen to slip into a restricted area for ponies like us and happen to come out changed into full body super suits?” Wonderwing asked.

The other foals stared at him blankly.

“Well of course it’s going to look weird.” Scootaloo answered. “It’s gonna look weird no matter where we change to. I mean, if we do go and change behind somewhere out where ponies can see us, it ruins the mystery of it.”

“Well the same thing would happen when we shout our battlecry too.” Sweetie Belle said.

“Well how about we change our name while we’re in costume?” Wonderwing asked. “I mean if we’re going to keep quiet with the name, we’re going to have to let other ponies know who we are.”

The other foals nodded at Wonderwing’s logic; some of it making sense to the other foals before others, like Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, while others had it simplified into something that they could understand a little better.

“We should be working on our helmets.” Sweetie Belle said, encouraging them all. “I mean, we’ll never get them done by the fair at this rate.”The other foals nodded, Sweetie Belle’s words ringing true, and began to work on finishing up their
helmets while passing ideas for their name change while they were morphed.

-Meanwhile back at the Underground Airship Construction Yards-

“Milord, the Summer Fair is about to begin.” Crimson Heart reported, bowing low as he did so. Utopian had just finished receiving a report on the completion of all the rest of his Airships’ Main Cannons when the pegasus appeared before him from the hologram spell that Serene Grace was providing.

“I see. And everypony is in place?” Utopian asked, receiving nods from both the unicorn and the pegasus.

“Tuff Stuff is acting as a simple parlor clown for the foals that would be in attendance milord.” Serene Grace reported. “He has been unable to get a chance for a free moment so that we may speak in the open.”

Utopian nodded. “Of course he wouldn’t get a chance like that Serene Grace.” He said. “His role in the foals capture takes a little bit more time than yours or Crimson Hearts. And the fools wouldn’t expect that a pony of Tuff Stuff’s size to be an excellent clown.” He chuckled a little.

“Your troops are to engage in battle with the guard only. Do not take the lives of the commoners or the Princesses. And do not take the lives of the Elements of Harmony. Is that clear?” Utopian ordered.

“Yes milord.” Both the pegasus and the unicorn said respectfully.

After a few moments, Crimson Heart bowed again. “Milord, I have heard rumors that Prince Shining Armor is in charge of security. What is to be done about him?”

Utopian raised an eyebrow, looking into earnest eyes from the pegasus. After closing his own eyes for a moment, Utopian smiled. “He dies too. But save him for Tuff Stuff when you get the chance. After all I did promise him the death of Shining Armor by his hooves.”

Crimson Heart nodded. “I’ll be sure to keep him alive long enough for Tuff Stuff to crush him.” He said with a smirk.

“Excellent, go now and prepare for the beginning of the end.” Utopian said, seeing both of his lieutenants nod.

“Yes milord.” They both said.

After a few moments, Utopian tapped one of his hooves on the desk in front of him as both Crimson Heart and Serene Grace vanished. A small microphone appeared from the center of the desk, which he tapped a couple of times with his hoof. The sounds of the taps could be heard from everywhere in the facility. “My faithful subjects, workers of a grand revolution...” He began, smiling a little. “You have worked hard, slaved at the construction of this grand design for years. Getting everything done as you have been instructed. But now that time is over.”

Utopian got up from his throne in the small office and looked at the sight of his new warship, almost giddy at the thought that he was going to be inside it. “That time of toil and labor is over! You are the finest workers that your king has ever known. And now, it is time for your exceptionally just rewards. Soldiers, end them.” He ordered, tapping his hoof on the desk again, causing the microphone to disappear from underneath the top of the desk. At the sound of his command, he could hear hundreds of ponies screaming, sounds that only he could truly enjoy. In his opinion, there was a sort of joy that he felt as the sounds that ponies made when their lives ended that he relished in. As he listened, he could hear almost everything. From ponies screaming mindlessly, to them begging for their lives. The sounds were too good for him to even begin to describe.

And just as quickly as it had came, it ended. Utopian’s heart skipped a beat, smiling as the sounds that had just embraced his ears left him. He turned, watching as the door that was closest to his windows opened, several unicorn soldiers stood at attention, waiting for his next order like a well trained machine. The demented unicorn said nothing, smiling as he walked through the door and past them all, crossing the connecting catwalk and entering an elevator. The soldiers followed obediently, trotting behind him and waiting patiently as the elevator descended.

It only took a few seconds for Utopian to appreciate the size of his warship, it was about an eighth as tall as it was long, and the basket was well equipped to defend against enemy attack. He could also see that there were several vertical rotors on either side of the basket in addition to the four giant ones that were on the blimp itself. It was the perfect war machine, nothing in all the lands could touch it. And most importantly, it was all his.

-Meanwhile, Back in Ponyville-

The Summer Fair was in full swing in Ponyville. Other than the modest looking booths and games that the Ponyvillians had set up, a group of professional carnival ponies had shown up all the way from Manehatten to make the little town’s first week of summer break even more special. They had rides set up, simple roller coasters that didn’t look too dangerous to low powered centrifuges that were guaranteed to make anypony throw up and there was even a small Ferris wheel.

The head of the carnival, a minotaur named Raw Power, had asked all of the ponies the day before as to where he and his team could set up. Hearing about how Ponyville was having a Summer Fair a couple of weeks right before the Summer Sun Celebration, plus the thought of Princess Luna(Who had never been to an actual carnival styled fair in the first place), showing up to the fair along with Princess Celestia, gave the Mayor enough reason to splurge on the occasion. The Minotaur was also very easy to get along with, and helped coordinate the day’s events with both Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor.

“Well, everything seems to be set up and ready for the Princesses.” Twilight said, using her magic to check off the last item on her list.

“And they should be arriving in Ponyville right about now.” Shining Armor replied.

As if on cue, the sounds of royal trumpets could be heard from the sky above. Ponies watched in awe as a golden
chariot, carried by two heavily armored pegasi and flanked by at least seven more, descended, carrying both Princess Celestia and a very sleepy looking Princess Luna.

As the chariot touched down low on the ground, everypony bowed low. Both Alicorns stepped off of the chariot, surveying the scene as Twilight and Shining Armor rose to meet them both.

“Princess Celestia, Princess Luna hello!” Twilight said, bowing low again.

“Your highnesses.” Shining Armor said, following Twilight’s example.

“Hello there Twilight, Shining. So, is everything all set up?” Princess Celestia asked, watching both unicorns nod.

“Of course Princess. Everything’s been made available for you and Princess Luna to enjoy the day with the rest of us.” Twilight explained.

“And security has been posted at any entrance and exit points incase somepony or something wants to start a ruckus.” Shining Armor reported, watching as Princess Luna yawned again.

“That sound’s good. Doesn’t it Luna?” Princess Celestia asked, turning towards her younger sister and watching the midnight Alicorn begin to dose off again. Princess Celestia leaned in close to her sister and whispered, “Luna, you’re doing it again.”

Princess Luna blinked before shaking herself awake. “We are sorry everypony.” Princess Luna apologized, yawning a little. “But this would normally be the time that we would be sleeping. Or playing Honorable Valor: Modern Assault. Celestia had insisted that we attend, but we still are not sure that we would not be impeding on everypony else’s fun.”

“That’s okay Princess, we can take it slow until you have time to wake up.” Twilight explained, looking up at Princess Celestia who was scanning the fair grounds as ponies started scattering all over the place. “Is there something wrong Princess?” Twilight asked.

The Rainbow-maned Alicorn nodded. “Where’s your friends? I thought that they would be here to meet us.” She asked.

Before Twilight could answer, there was a loud crash. They all turned to see that Rarity, her mane and tail all in disarray scanned the remaining crowds with her bloodshot eyes. She looked like she too wasn’t getting much sleep and by both Princess Celestia and Twilight’s best guess, she appeared to be out for blood.

“Where. Are. They.” Rarity asked, taking a step forward, one of her hooves trapped in a paint bucket.

“Uh Rarity... Where are who exactly?” Twilight asked, getting nervous that her friend was unraveling in front of both

“YouknowexactlywhoIamtalkingaboutTwilight,don’tplaydumb!” Rarity snapped, immediately running up to the lavender unicorn and planting both of her hooves on her front shoulders. “Those fiends who stole all of my fabric.”

“Who stole all of your fabric Rarity?” Princess Celestia asked, raising an eyebrow as Twilight took several steps away from the fashionista.

“Sweetie Belle and her friends.” Rarity answered. “Those foals ransacked my boutique last night, taking a years worth of potential fabric and crafting supplies while I was out last night. I need to find them, and I need to find them NOW.” She snapped, her breathing becoming harsh and ragged.

As both the Princesses and Twilight and Shining stood with Rarity, Princess Celestia’s ears twitched at the sound of humming wings. She wasn’t the only one who caught the sounds, as both Princess Luna and Twilight heard the same sounds coming from the same direction that Rarity had entered the fair, the main gate. Within a few moments, they all witnessed the foals pulled up in their wagon, and carefully dismounted at the gate.

“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS FAIR HELPERS YAY!” The foals declared, which at their close proximity of the front gate knocked Rarity on her face. The unicorn turned, appearing ready to tear her sister a new one when Fluttershy walked up from behind them, a smile on her face.

“Now you all did a great job in cleaning up after yourselves. We wouldn’t want Rarity to... Oh my.” Fluttershy said, watching as both Princess Celestia and Luna gave Fluttershy a curious look. Rarity blinked, something inside her mentally snapped back to normal a little, as the sight of the yellow pegasus was a sort of a beacon of hope.

“Hey there Rarity!” Sweetie Belle said happily, trotting up to the unicorn before recognizing both Princesses. The little unicorn bowed, before smiling at her sister.

“Wh-Wh-What are you doing here?” Rarity asked, her eyes slowly returning to their normal state.

“Well we were busy with an extremely important project, and we kinda borrowed your fabric and supplies to make it.” Sweetie Belle began.

“But when we went to go and put everything away, you were gone.” Scootaloo continued.

“And we didn’ want you ta have to clean everythin’ up by yerself.” Applebloom added.

“And we didn’t know where everything went in the first place,” Sweetie Belle continued.

“So we asked Fluttershy to help us out.” Scootaloo added.

“An’ since there’s seven of us, it didn’ take us very long at all!” Applebloom finished.

Rarity blinked mindlessly for a few seconds. After processing it all in her mind, she gave a weak smile. “Well... I suppose that if you put everything back where you found it, no harm no foul as Rainbow Dash would put it?” She said, before turning to both Princesses and Twilight. “I’m sorry to have startled you all. It was something that I should have done before I came here looking like...” Rarity looked herself over and nearly fainted.

“Oh my... I really guess I should take her home.” Fluttershy said, helping the unicorn onto her hooves. “I’m sorry, everypony, but I won’t be able to come back until she’s feeling better.” Fluttershy said, before bowing low to both Princesses in apology.

“It’s quite all right Fluttershy. We can understand.” Princess Celestia said, nodding in her direction. Princess Luna followed suit, fighting through another yawn, before Fluttershy began to trot off with Rarity back home.

As they left, the Cutie Mark Crusaders all made off to split up until hearing a light cough from Twilight. They all stopped and formed a line, looking at her earnestly.

“Yes Twilight?” Scootaloo asked.

“You guys really need to apologize to Rarity the next time that you see her. There are some things that she doesn’t
really take lightly.” Twilight warned.

“That sounds like something that I would say.” Princess Celestia commented, watching the lavender unicorn blush a little.

Twilight smiled before turning back to the Crusaders. “Anyways, what’s on the agenda you guys?” She asked.

“Well we’re gonna have some fun!” Scootaloo said. “I wanna ride the roller coaster until I barf!” She said, watching the other foals make faces from the corner of her eye.

“Ah’m gonna help out a bit with mah sister fer a while. She’s th’ only one at the booth we set up, and Ah’m gonna be there in case she needs me.” Applebloom reported.

“Same here with me and my mom!” Dinky said happily.

“The plan is that while some of us are going to help out a little bit in the fair, the rest of us are going to hang around for a while.” Sweetie Belle explained. “Then we’ve got something special planned for everypony that they’ll want to see.”

“Wow, it seems like you guys have a busy day planned.” Shining Armor said, seeing the foals smile.

“We’ll we had better go.” Applebloom said, bowing low to the Princesses. “As mah sister says, “Taint no use in burnin’ daylight bein’ idle.” And Ah don’t plan to be.” The other Crusaders nodded in agreement.

“Well then, run along now.” Princess Celestia said encouragingly. The seven foals nodded before scattering in different directions, which caused Twilight to look worried after them. “Something wrong Twilight?”

Twilight shook her head, the slightest trace of worry escaping without any sign of resistance. “Oh its nothing really. I just feel like... Something’s different with them.”

“That’s the sign of growing up Twilight.” Shining Armor replied. “You were like that when you were a filly too.” Twilight blushed again as her brother chuckled. “Well you were.” He smiled before bowing to the Princesses again. “I’m sorry your highness, but I need to make my rounds. I’ll see you later.” He said finally.

“Take it easy Shining.” Princess Celestia said confidently. “We wouldn’t want the Prince of the Crystal Kingdom get worn out over a silly little thing like a fair.”

Shining Armor chuckled a little. “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He said before trotting away, leaving both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna with Twilight.

“So my faithful student, what is there to do around here?” Princess Celestia asked.

-Several hours later, nearing Sunset-

The Summer Fair had gone without a hitch. Princess Luna was wide awake after their first run to Sugarcube Corner’s booth, downing an entire cup of coffee before any pony could react. It didn’t last long in her stomach though as she and both Twilight and Princess Celestia lost their lunch at the centrifuge. After the third time on it. Nopony expected Princess Luna to be having so much fun, with the exception of Princess Celestia, and by the time had come for Celestia’s sun to set, Princess Luna was still a little Alicorn sized ball of energy.

The Princesses weren’t the only ones who were enjoying the Summer Fair though. As Wonderwing had wandered his way around the fair grounds, he could see that Scootaloo had convinced Sweetie Belle to ride the Roller coaster with her. It didn’t turn out pretty as Scootaloo had to be completely hosed off at the Restrooms. Applebloom was busy helping Applejack with their booth by the time that he had come around to meet them, that she was unable to stop for a moment to say hello. Twist and Dinky were in the same boat as ponies all wanted snacks to watch the Lunar Princess raise the moon.

“So Wonderwing, how’re you doing with your little friends?” A gentle voice that the colt recognized asked him. Wonderwing turned, seeing the smiling face of his mother standing over him with a set of extremely full saddlebags.

“We’re doing great Mommy!” Wonderwing immediately exclaimed, leaping into his mother for an affectionate nuzzle. “Our special surprise is all set up, and we’re all ready to let Ponyville know what we’re really gonna do.” He said.

“That’s great darling!” Flower Petal replied, as the pegasus got off of her. “Here, I have something for you and your friends.” She said, opening one of the bags in her saddlebag with her magic. A set of items levitated from the inside, including a pair of small wooden swords and shields, a hula hoop, a small megaphone, a pair of weird looking hooked wooden sticks, a wooden pirate’s rubber band gun and a small hourglass pendant. Wonderwing smiled, before reaching up as he tried to grab them before Flower Petal put them in his hooves.

“Wow Mommy! Thanks!” The foal said happily, holding as many of the gifts as he could in his hooves.

“I’m glad you like them little one.” Flower Petal said, watching as the foal proceeded to turn around. “Where are you going?” She asked, watching as Wonderwing turned back around again.

“I need to show these to the other Crusaders. We’re meeting up at Dinky’s mommy’s booth so I can show them what you got me.” Wonderwing replied.

“Well, let’s go over there together.” Flower Petal replied, watching the foal nod.

After a few minutes of walking, and listening to her son and his friends exploits, both Wonderwing and Flower Petal made it to their meeting point. The booth, like all of the others, seemed to have a mellow aroma waft from it if you could find it within the lingering smell of the smoke. Wonderwing immediately spotted the Crusaders, and ran over to them all before grinning. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle looked like they were recovering from being sick, Pipsqueak was smiling and quickly talking with Applebloom, and Dinky was behind the counter, helping her mother clean up another mess.

“Hey crusaders!” Wonderwing said happily.

“Hey Wonderwing!” Everypony said in varying degrees of joy.

“Look what Mommy got us all!” Wonderwing said as his mother used her magic to pull out the gifts. The other foals oohed and aahed, as Wonderwing passed them all out.

“Wow, these look pretty cool.” Scootaloo said, admiring the sword and shield that she had.

“Yeah... It’s really nice?” Sweetie Belle said, looking at the megaphone in her hooves.

“O’ course it’s nice Sweetie Belle! Now ev’ry pony in Ponyville could hear you with that.” Applebloom said, spinning the hoop around her body with a little bit of trouble.

“The hourglass is pretty Miss Petal.” Dinky said gratefully.

“So is all of this stuff. Man Wonderwing, your mom rocks!” Scootaloo said.

“Totally.” Pipsqueak agreed.

“Most definitely.” Sweetie Belle said, finally getting the chance to admire Wonderwing’s mother’s gift.

“Thith ith the betht gift ever!” Twist said, managing to hook both ends of her sticks together and twirling them around before unpleasantly whacking herself in the head. “Oww...” She moaned.

“Well, I’m glad that you all enjoyed it.” Flower Petal said, smiling. “Now, are you coming home for tonight Wonderwing? Or would you like to stay over for another night?” She asked.

“Well, if it’s okay with them...” Wonderwing said, watching the other foals.

“Well Ah don’ know... Ah don’ think that Applejack will mind...” Applebloom said.

“My mom doesn’t care. So long as somepony’s supervising me.” Scootaloo said.

“My Parenth are opening up the thop tomorrow, so I’ll have to leave early.” Twist reported.

“I don’t think my sister would want to pass up another day away from us. She was really mad.” Sweetie Belle said calmly. The other foals laughed as Dinky looked up to her mother.

“Momma, can I sleep over with the other crusaders tomorrow?” The unicorn foal asked.

Dinky’s mother popped out from behind the counter in the booth and smiled. “Of course my little muffin.” She said. “Of course you need to get back home sometime.”

“We’ll be sure about that.” Sweetie Belle reported.

The foals smiled as Flower Petal nodded. “Okay, I’ll check with your older siblings and parents. If they say that it’s okay, you can stay one more night with them. Okay?” She asked.

“Okay mommy.” Wonderwing said, hearing a gentle yay come from the other crusaders. “I love you.” He said, nuzzling her affectionately.

“I love you too.” Flower Petal replied, returning the nuzzle before her horn lit up. Her magic then grabbed all of the toys that she had grabbed for them and placed them back in her saddle bags as quickly as they appeared.

“Mommy? What’s going on?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well, I don’t think that the town guard would appreciate if you foals had realistic looking weapons now do you?” She asked, watching as everypony shook their heads. “Well then, they’ll all be back at the house until you come and get them
tomorrow.” She said.

The foals all nodded, watching as Dinky immediately looked at her wristwatch. “You guys, it’s almost time!” She squeaked as the other foals looked down at their watched and gasped.

“You’re right!” Scootaloo exclaimed.

“We need to get into position!” Sweetie Belle said.

As the other foals went behind the booth, Wonderwing kissed his mother on the cheek and began to run after them. He was stopped by a gentle pull on his tail and looked at his mother nervously.

“And where do you think that your going?” His mother asked.

“Its something special that we’re going to do for Ponyville Mommy.” Wonderwing said, watching his mom nervously. “We have everything we need in the back behind Dinky’s mommy’s booth so we need to go back there and get it.”

His mother nodded, a look of skepticism on her face as she met Wonderwing’s pleading gaze. Her face softened a little, as she smiled gently. “Okay, and please be careful. I don’t want you or your friends getting hurt.” She said, watching
Wonderwing nod.

“Okay Mommy, we won’t.” Wonderwing said, before following the other crusaders.

Flower Petal watched her son disappear around the corner before smiling. “I hope that he has enough room for me when he gets home.” She said, smiling a little before trotting away.

As the sun continued to fall on the small town, all of the main rides and coasters were all shutting down. Everypony, and creature that wasn’t a pony, moved closer to town hall as the Summer Fair’s first day came to a close. When the Princesses arrived, Twilight had left them to meet with her friends after the third time on the centrifuge, the loud sounds of the trumpets could be heard. Everypony bowed low, watching as both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna turned to face the crowd.

“Hello there everypony.” Princess Celestia greeted, seeing the smiling faces of almost every being involved in the Summer Fair. “I am so glad to see that you have all worked together to make this day not only special for your foals, but for Princess Luna and myself. You all are really dedicated, and have done an excellent job.”

Everypony cheered, the sounds of the Sun Princess compliments was more than enough to raise their spirits even further than they had been. As Princess Celestia continued to speak, there was something that bothered Pinkie Pie.

“Eye Flutter... Ear Flop... Twitchy Tail... Something’s happening, something really, really big!” She thought, her smile disappearing for a second. “But it isn’t a good something. It’s more of like a not funny but funny to an evil pony something. Somepony shouldn’t be here... But I can’t disturb the Princess...” Pinkie Pie thought.

Pinkie Pie wasn’t the only pony who knew that something was up. Her twitching was causing other ponies to stare at her, and get really unnerved at the sight. The pink mare did everything she could to hold the twitches in, from holding her tail still to keeping her ears stiff and her eyelids open. Even the Princess was starting to take notice.

“Pinkie Pie, is there something the matter?” Princess Celestia asked curiously.

“I dunno, something’s up... Something really bad’s up.” Pinkie Pie replied. “I’ve never gotten this combo before.”

“What do you mean that you haven’t gotten this combo before?” Twilight asked, sounding nervous. Pinkie Pie shrugged, continuing to twitch.

“Ah think she means that somethin’ that ain’t sposed ta happen’s gonna happen.” Applejack replied, shuddering a little.

“Whatever does that mean?” Rarity asked, the white unicorn turned significantly back to her normal standards after a little rest and reassurance from Fluttershy.

“I don’t know, but what ever it is we’re going to be ready for it.” Rainbow Dash said proudly.

“You all seem to be pretty confident in your abilities.” A voice called out from the crowd.

As everypony looked around, Luna took a step forward. “A challenger to the Elements of Harmony?” She asked. “How dare you question their abilities. We demand that you come forth now, or face the consequences.”

Everypony stopped as a very old and very corny circus tune could be heard playing from something hidden. It was very slow, and seemed to drag out the melody as it played over and over again. The sounds of hoofsteps could be heard, and before anypony could see where they were coming from, a pair of eyes appeared from behind the Princesses.

Both Alicorns turned, their horns charged and ready to blast whatever had snuck up on them with ancient magicks until the body that the eyes belonged to gracefully leapt over them both before doing several flips in the air and landed on it’s front hooves. The pony, as he righted himself, appeared to be too massive for a normal circus clown as he stood bigger than Big Macintosh. The colorful Afro and body suit that the pony wore covered his coat and mane almost flawlessly as the all white painted face seemed to intimidate the other foals. His black tail hung without any life in it as a set of big red floppy clown shoes seemed to complete the look.

“A jester?” Princess Luna asked incredulously. “Art thou so foolish as to doubt the competency of the Elements of Harmony as to reveal yourself in an outlandish manner?” She asked.

“I’m going to have to agree with my sister.” Princess Celestia said. “Who are you, and why did you call out Twilight and her friends?”

“Oooh.... So that’s the Element of Magic’s name.” The clown pony said in almost a completely intimidating manner. “I like knowing the names of the ponies whose lives are going to be ruined. Especially the sister to the great Shining Armor.”

“How do you know about my brother?” Twilight asked, standing up and glaring at the clown pony.

“Oh well look around you Miss Sparkle.” The Clown Pony answered. “All of these pathetic insects here know about you, the teacher’s pet, the Element of Magic, the Sister to the Captain of the Guard... You make me sick.”

“All right buddy, you can stop right there!” Shining Armor snapped, walking from behind the clown pony with several
heavily armored pegasus soldiers with him. “Just come with us quietly, and you can get a chance to calm down in prison.”
He said.

“Oh, and lookee here. The married Stallion himself.” The Clown Pony said, turning to face him. “Too bad we won’t have time to play yet... Especially when we have a job to do.”

“We? Who is this we of which you speak?” Princess Luna asked.

“Well... Me and my friends here. The fallen soldiers who only follow Utopian, the one and true King of Equestria!” The clown pony declared, throwing his costume off to reveal an all blue gigantic pony with an all Black mane in addition to his tail. The suit of armor that the pony had for a cutie mark glimmered as his eyes glowed a dark red. “Soldiers, capture the targets. Keep the Elements of Harmony and the Princesses Alive. Shining Armor is mine.”

As soon as the giant pony quit speaking, several black covered hooves erupted all from under the ground beneath the Ponyvillian’s hooves. With groaning and moaning, several hundred of zombie ponies crawled from the ground and let out horrible roars which even caused both Princesses to jump slightly.

At the sign of the first undead hoof, chaos reigned. The setting sun truly showed everypony that they were nothing
more than all black skeletons with blood red eyes and horns, and as ponies everywhere decided to flee in every direction, several ponies were unfortunately attacked and injured by the undead.

“You guys, we have to control the crowds!” Twilight shouted over the chaos, watching as her friends nodded. “Applejack, Rainbow Dash, you two take care of the Zombie Ponies that are in everypony’s way. Rarity, you and Fluttershy need to get everypony that can’t make it out of here gone. Pinkie and I will cover you.” Twilight shouted, receiving nods from her friends. “All right everypony, let’s go!” She shouted before everypony began to scatter.

As soon as the first shouts and cries of terror were heard, the Cutie Mark Crusaders jumped. The sounds of groaning and foals screaming terrified them all, but they also were alone.

“What’s going on there?” Scootaloo asked.

“Ah don’ know, but we need to stay outta it.” Applebloom said.

“What about Twilight and the others?” Wonderwing asked.

“They can handle it. We’ll be safe here.” Sweetie Belle replied.

The foals heard a loud shriek, and looked around the corner of the booth. Snips and Snails, two of the foals that went to school with the other crusaders were being chased by several Zombie ponies and they seemed to be losing ground.

“Thnipth and Thnailth are in trouble!” Twist gasped.

“We gotta do something!” Pipsqueak said.

“Ah still think that we should wait...” Applebloom said quietly.

“If we wait any longer they could get hurt!” Wonderwing snapped.

Scootaloo shook her head. “Well if we wait any longer, then they’ll find us and we’ll get hurt. We need to do it now!”

The other crusaders thought it over as they continued to watch the scene. Finally, after a few more moments, Dinky shook her head. “We need to help them. That’s all that will matter right?” She asked, watching the other foals nod. “Well
then, let’s get this started!”

“All right, everypony ready?” Scootaloo asked.

“Ready!” The other foals shouted.

“It’s morphin’ time!” She shouted. Instead of the flash of light, the seven foals stood in complete darkness, still without their suits on, and looking completely silly.

“Wonderwing... Something’s wrong with the watches. Nothing happened.” Scootaloo said.

Wonderwing looked down on his watch and nodded. “We need to open them up.” He said. “The watches aren’t going to change us with the first cover in the way.” The other foals watched as the glass top opened up from the watch and
revealed a small button. “See?” He asked. The Other foals nodded before following suit.

“All right. Well then, let’s try this again.” Scootaloo said. “Ready?” She asked.

“Ready!” The foals replied.

“It’s morphin’ time!”

“I’m sorry Snips... This looks like the end...” The tiny blue unicorn whimpered as the Zombies advanced on them. “All because you made that little wish for having a zombie for a pet.”

“An wha’s wrong with that?” Snips asked.

“Because...” Snails stopped, ducking and bringing the taller unicorn down in time as a set of kicks from several multicolored foals slammed into the pair of Zombie Ponies.

“Are you guys okay?” A voice asked. Both foals looked up to see a unicorn foal in an all pink jumpsuit and cape look down on them. They couldn’t see the face from the Helmet’s visor, but they immediately began to smile.

“Yeah... We’re fine...” Snips said.

“What’s going on here?” Another foal, in an all red jumpsuit asked, the orange wings twittering a little.

“A clown pony sh-sh-showed up at town hall and is looking for a pair of foals!” The blue Unicorn said. “The Elements of Harmony are slowing them down, but they need help!”

“You guys here that?” Scootaloo asked from her visor.

“Yeah, let’s go get some zombie ponies!” Sweetie Belle replied.

“You guys should go. We’ll take care of this.” Dinky said, watching both unicorns nod before getting to their hooves.

“Wh-Why of c-c-course! Come on Snips, Let’s go!” Snails snapped, running off and dragging the other unicorn with

The Crusaders all smiled, looking back at the crumpled heap of Zombie ponies. “Well, it looks like we can take care of these ponies.” Scootaloo said. “Come on you guys, let’s go.”

“Uh, Ah don’ mean ta burst ya’lls bubble’r nuthin but, that’s jes two Zombie ponies. What are we gonna do against an ahrmy?” Applebloom asked.

“Whatever we can of course.” Wonderwing said. “But we need to get the other foals out of danger.”

“All right you guys, the Crusader Operation: Rescue Everypony From The Zombie Ponies is a go!” Scootaloo cried,
hearing cheers from the other crusaders.

As the Crusaders approached town hall, the sight startled them. There were more Zombie ponies on the ground than expected, but even more were still walking around and threatening ponies. An extremely powerful magic barrier was in the
middle, as the sounds of hooves that pounded on it echoed in the night.

They could also see that both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna were completely surrounded, on both the ground and the air. The foals all gulped nervously at the sight, watching as several of the Zombie Ponies began to turn their attention to them.

“Ahr yeh sure that this was a good ahdea?” Applebloom asked.

“You know... I’m beginning to wonder that myself...” Scootaloo answered.


The foals turned to see that Wonderwing’s mother had also been surrounded, guarding the two foals that the Cutie Mark Crusaders didn’t get along with. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon were all huddled close to the unicorn as her barrier shrank more and more. The pegasus foal, more out of desperation than anything, charged the crowd around his mother wildly, leaving the other crusaders behind.

“All right, here’s the plan.” Sweetie Belle said. “Dinky; you, Twist, and Pipsqueak help Wonderwing. We’ll go and get Twilight and the other ponies out of there.” She said.

“Right.” Dinky replied. “Come on you guys.” She said, as Twist and Pipsqueak nodded. Scootaloo and Applebloom then nodded at Sweetie Belle, before they charged the horde of undead ponies that were attacking the Elements of

The chaos from the battle was turning from bad to worse with each second. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and an extremely hurt Shining Armor were surrounded by Zombies, and had nowhere left to run.

“Twilight you have to hold the barrier!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, watching as her unicorn friend’s strength was waning.

“I can’t hold it for very much longer!” Twilight groaned, putting her all into the spell that kept them safe.

“You can do it Twi, just hang in there!” Applejack encouraged, watching her struggle.

“Yeah you can do it! Show those Zombie ponies whose boss!” Rainbow Dash shouted, looking around fiercely.

Just as another crack seemed to splinter Twilight’s already weakening spell, the sounds of, “hi-yah’s,” and, “high-yah’s,” could be heard from the other side of the barrier. The non-magic ponies looked up and watched as Zombie ponies flew up in the air before coming crashing down to the earth like rag dolls, which seemed to draw the attention of the others. None of the ponies could explain what was happening, but as they watched they could see that there were several flashes of Red, Blue, and Yellow, all rocketing around the Zombie crowds.

“Wow... Go Crusaders!” Pinkie Pie thought, smiling as the attacking ponies seemed to be driven off of them. She
turned and stood on her back legs, watching as the massive pony from earlier was heading towards Flower Petal and the two foals that she was with.

“What’s goin’ on?” Applejack asked.

“I don’t know, but I think we’ve been just given a breather.” Twilight replied. There was a loud boom and a flash, which
forced everypony to look up. “Princess Celestia?” Twilight asked.

There, hovering just a few inches off of the ground, was the purest form of anger that hadn’t been seen in Equestria since Nightmare Moon’s banishment. Her mane was wreathed in flames, as was her tail, and her body glowed a terrifying golden aura. The Princess of the Moon, while not like her sister, was just as vicious looking, her mane a wild vortex that seemed to generate storms. She was glowing an equally terrifying Black aura, her cold and pupiless eyes scanned the crowd of undead.

“BEGONE FOUL DEMONS.” Princess Celestia commanded, beating her wings once and generating a wave of golden energy. The blast was so strong that it vaporized the undead ponies to the touch, but seemed to pass through the living harmlessly.

“Did the Princesses do what I think they just did?” Pinkie Pie asked, watching as Princess Luna followed suit, only generating a black wave instead of a golden one.

“I... I... I don’t know...” Twilight said, her face a mix of shock and awe.

The crusaders stopped just as the blast hit the zombies that they were fighting. Each of them trembled at the sight, watching as both the Moon and Sun Princess turned their attention to the massive pony remaining.


Before anypony could react however, a purple fireball roughly the size of a house came screaming towards where both Princesses were standing. Princess Celestia immediately threw up a magical barrier which seemed to encompass the whole battlefield just as three more were launched from the sky.

“WHAT MANNER OF SORCERY IS THIS?” Princess Luna demanded.

“Sorcery? What sorcery your highness?” A cold voice asked from way above them, loud enough for all of Ponyville to hear.


“Oh of course. I’ll show myself, after all you are both going to die one way or the other.” The voice challenged. As if it appeared from nowhere, a gigantic airship materialized from non-existence. It looked fierce, sporting at least a hundred cannons by Princess Celestia’s count and they were all pointed at the small city.


“Or somepony who prefers to fight smarter. Not harder.” The voice challenged icily. “To anypony who is listening. My name is Utopian, and I am your next King.” He declared.

“King? What is he talking about Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked.


“Well then, I’ll just have to find some Immortal weapons then. Perhaps one rests outside your borders, in the lands of the Griffin Kingdom.” Utopian scoffed. “Listen to my words well ponies of Equestria, I will rule this land. You can stop me, but it will be a futile effort. The way is long, but there will be no need to live in this corrupt diarchy any longer. The choice is
simple, serve me or die.”

“I’d rather die than serve someone stuck up like you!” Rainbow Dash snapped.

“If you think that you can best me, come to the Griffon Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible.” Utopian challenged. “Your world will end in three weeks, come if you will otherwise hide behind your stone walls. They will come crashing down on you.” He snapped, as another barrage of gigantic fireballs began to smash into anything and everything around.

As both Princesses focused their magic to strengthen their barrier, Twilight could see that several foal sized ponies leapt at the massive pony after Flower Petal, but were roughly thrown aside. The unicorn in question was then bucked heavily in the chest before thrown to the side like a ragdoll. Twilight tried readying another spell, but before anything else happened the massive pony and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon were gone.

The Chase Begins

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Chapter 9

-The Chase Begins-

The extent of the damage to Ponyville was less than severe to say the least. Due to Princess Celestia’s protective barrier, almost all of the buildings in the major part of the city were spared due to Utopian’s attack.

The same could not have been said for the hundreds of ponies that were injured during the attack however. Some of them had been hit by shrapnel from the impact of the fireballs that had hit before the Princess strengthened her shield, while others were injured from the zombie ponies that had aided in the attack. All in all, there were a total of thirty ponies lying injured in some manner in the hospital. One of them included Wonderwing’s mother.

The small pegasus trembled and quaked like a leaf. He sat alone on a small chair outside a small operating room in Ponyville Hospital, his mother being sent there for extensive treatment of her injuries. Several questions ran through his head, but they all lead up to the all important question, Why? “Why did daddy do something like this?” Wonderwing thought. “Daddy could get banished to the moon for something like this. Why is this happening?”

The pegasus felt a gentle hoof on his shoulder which caused him to look up. Standing next to him were the other Cutie Mark Crusaders, each with concerned looks on their faces. They were with their older siblings and guardians, who were all just as equally confused and stressed as Wonderwing was.

“Ah’m really sorry about yer mom Wonderwing.” Applejack began.

“We should have done something better to help her out of that.” Rainbow Dash commented.

“But Mommy’s going to be fine.” Wonderwing said quietly. “I just know that she is.”

“Of course she is Wonderwing! You have the best mom ever, there’s no way that she’s not going to get up from what had happened.” Scootaloo said confidently.

“Scootaloo’s right, your mom can take hits like that all day any day. You don’t need to worry about that.” Pipsqueak said.

Wonderwing gave a weak smile and looked to the operating room doors, watching as they still remained shut and kept the pegasus from seeing his mother. As the minutes passed, Wonderwing seemed to get more and more worried until the Operation room doors were opened slightly. Two ponies, a unicorn and an earth pony each with cutie marks that looked like a red cross stepped out of the operating room and wiped sweat from their brows.

“Well doctor...” Twilight began, staring at the unicorn nervously. “How is Flower Petal?”

The unicorn lowered his face mask and tossed it in a recyclable container before smiling. “Flower Petal’s going to be just fine. We’ll need to keep her here for a while until she gets better, but other than that she’s good to go.” He said, smiling as the crowd of ponies erupted into a chorus of cheers.

“So you mean my Mommy’s going to be okay?” Wonderwing asked, receiving a smile from the doctor.

“Yes,” The unicorn replied. “Your mommy’s going to be fine. She’s sleeping right now, but if you come back tomorrow you can see her.” He said reassuringly, watching relief wash over Wonderwing’s face. “Now I need to be seeing to some of my other patients. Please take care.” He said as the small crowd left the office.

It took less than an hour for Twilight and her friends to get back to the Library. After encountering a half-hearted protest from the Cutie Mark Crusaders, which didn’t seem like them at all, Twilight steeled herself as she waited for Princess Celestia. Utopian’s declarations were wild, but thanks to her mentor’s guidance in the past she was ready and prepared to get herself and her friends through whatever Utopian threw at them.

“Twilight seems awfully tense don’t you think?” Rarity asked Fluttershy quietly, trying to ignore Applejack’s pacing in the main sitting room, or Pinkie Pie’s hoof wrestling match that she had started against herself.

Fluttershy nodded, watching as the lavender unicorn remained unnaturally quiet with her head down in an extremely large tome that she had taken from one of the shelves in the back. The covers were extremely old and dusty, with the bindings apparently made of an earlier form of faux-leather. As both Fluttershy and Rarity watched, Twilight’s eyes were frantically scouring the pages for some sort of answer as she used her magic to flip through page after page. She would stop every once and a while, before shaking her head and groaning. “Is something the matter Twilight?” Fluttershy asked, causing everypony to look up at Celestia’s pupil.

“None of what Utopian said made any sense!” Twilight snapped, slamming the book closed before planting her face head first into the table. “I’ve checked everything that the library has to offer about ponies ascending into immortals, and I haven’t found anything that said that he could. Not a simple paragraph, not a sentence, not even a mention of it being possible.”

“Well, maybe it isn’t possible.” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her eyes from behind another Daring Do book on the second floor. “I mean, most of those ascension-thingies are like an ancient artifact that needs to be destroyed and we’re probably going to go after the sicko to do it.” Rainbow Dash commented. “I mean, that’s what happens in Daring Do. Especially in, “Daring Do and the Immortal Crusade.” Seriously. It’s something not to get worked up over.”

Twilight shook her head and placed the heavy tome on top of an ever-growing stack of books to her right. “Rainbow, this isn’t like Daring Do. Ascension into immortality has only been speculated, and even then its something that its searchers have been scoffed at and ridiculed in the magical community.”

“He sure sounded confident that he was gonna git immortal ta me.” Applejack commented. “ ‘Specially since he specifically called us all out and th’ Princesses.”

“But that has nothing to do with each other. Does it?” Rarity asked.

“Well, in order to wield a weapon created by an immortal one needs to be an immortal.” Twilight answered.

“Like the Elements of Harmony?” Rainbow Dash asked, setting the book down and paying attention to Twilight. “Because aren’t they immortal? And can’t we use them?” She asked.

“Well yes and no.” Twilight answered. “They weren’t exactly forged by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna directly, they were forged by the bonds of friendship that they shared with each other. I’ve read some of the books in the Canterlot Archives that said the Elements of Harmony were more like body armor before they lost their power. A lot of the pictures that were in the Archives had both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna dressed in armor that more or less looked like the armor that Nightmare Moon wore during their battle.”

“So you mean that the Elements of Harmony are... Not totally complete as it were?” Rarity asked.

Twilight shook her head. “The elements are complete now, I never said that they weren’t.” She paused before looking up from the table and staring into space. “They’re just missing a lot of their original form since they had been turned to stone. I’ve heard it happen to simple trinkets that ancient dragons used in their day to day lives back in history even when Equestria wasn’t even around yet. Most of the ancient artifacts that are in museums now could be reactivated if exposed to the right magical spell. That’s why most unicorn curators prefer to have Earth Ponies move the artifacts instead of using their magic.”

“So they’ don’ accidentally set the dang things off.” Applejack said, receiving a nod from Twilight. “Ah always wondered ‘bout stuff like that. You’d think that they’d be tryin’ to keep Discord from escapin’ again.”

“One can never be too careful when dealing with artifacts from a different age Applejack.” Twilight said, rubbing her temples beneath her horn. “If you guys want, we can go to the museum in Canterlot after we finish what Princess Celestia needs us to do with Utopian.”

“Ooh Ooh Ooh!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, looking up from her hoof wrestling match with an extremely goofy grin. “Can we go there at night so that we could have an ancient Museum Exhibit Party with all of the Ancient Exhibits and stuff that comes to life?”

“For the last time Pinkie, that was only a movie. The exhibits in the Museum do not come to life at night when we’re gone.” Rainbow Dash said, sounding a little agitated. “Besides, where are Princess Celestia and Princess Luna? Shouldn’t they be here by now?” She asked.

For all intents and purposes, Rainbow Dash was right. After separating with them to head to Ponyville Hospital with the remaining injured, and meeting the Cutie Mark Crusaders on the way there, both Princesses said to meet with them back at the library so they could explain what had happened. It had been well past four hours since they said that, and it was getting close to two-thirty in the morning.

“I’m sure that the Princesses will show up.” Twilight said in a reassuring voice. “They’re probably getting everything back to normal in the rest of Ponyville before coming here. A zombie pony attack on just a fun-loving crowd of ponies at a fair is going to take a while to get sorted out.”

Even at Twilight’s reassurance, it was well beyond Four in the morning before both the Sun and Moon Princess arrived. Their manes and tails were each a mess, but still fluttered as though a gentle breeze blew through them. Their coats were black in some places, and their feathers were completely ruffled but both Alicorns appeared to be fine.

“I apologize for us taking so long to arrive Twilight. There were extremely pressing matters for us to attend to, and we lost track of time and-”

“It’s okay Princess,” Twilight replied, rising from her bow as her friends did so rather slowly due to the lack of sleep.

“We do not have much time to discuss what’s transpired these past few hours Twilight Sparkle; you and your friends would do well to heed our words as the fate of Equestria, nay the World even, now lay in your hooves.” Princess Luna said,
in a surprisingly calm and non-shouting voice.

“What my sister says is true.” Princess Celestia began somberly, watching as Twilight and her friends immediately stood or hovered at attention. “Time is not with us, neither is luck. As it would come to find out, Utopian has found the Temple of the Sphinx god Grimclaw the Terrible.”

“Temple of who?” Rainbow Dash asked for everypony else, as she wasn’t the only one who wanted to be sure about what she had heard.

“The Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible.” Princess Luna repeated. “An immortal and vile creature of powers most foul and wretched indeed. The world would not be as it was today if it weren’t due to the valiant efforts of the Griffon clans that had sealed him away thousands of years ago.”

“That doesn’t sound good...” Pinkie Pie said quietly.

“It isn’t Pinkie.” Princess Celestia said, hearing the party pony. “Grimclaw was the worst form of an immortal that could have even taken the name. He had enslaved the griffon tribes for centuries, trying to gain and expand his reign of terror to encompass the globe. Fear and devastation were his weapons, the undead were his soldiers.”

“Grimclaw was a Necromancer?” Twilight asked incredulously.

“A what?” Applejack asked.

“A Necromancer is a sorcerer who uses their magic to interact with the dead.” Twilight explained, watching the horrified looks on all of her friend’s faces. “Not all of Necromancy is bad though, all it does is allow ponies to communicate with loved ones in the next life. The Bad stuff is something similar to what happened at the fair yesterday.”

“You mean Necromancers can b-b-bring th-th-the d-d-dead b-b-back t-t-to l-life?” Fluttershy stammered, trembling visibly at Twilight as she nodded her head.

“How horrid!” Rarity exclaimed.

“Hey, that’s RPG 101. Necromancers that don’t summon zombies are good, Necromancers that summon zombies are bad.” Pinkie Pie said, receiving looks from everypony else in the room. “Hey, at least I know my rules when I play.” She said.

“But this isn’t a game Pinkie.” Twilight scolded. “The whole world could be in danger.”

“What dya’ll need us ta do Princess?” Applejack asked.

Princess Celestia sighed, looking down on the Elements of Harmony before calming down. She wasn’t mad at them, she was mad at herself for asking them to put themselves in danger once again and it clearly showed. “Girls, I must ask you to prevent Utopian from reaching the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible and return him to Equestria by any means necessary.” Princess Celestia answered.

“We would not want him harmed if thou couldst avoid it.” Princess Luna added, also visibly showing anger at herself for having somepony else do her job at protecting her beloved nation. “Utopian is a foal to think that he would be allowed to take Equestria and plunge it into his vile vision of rule.”

“Twilight I know that this is a lot to ask out of you. Out of all of you, but we would go ourselves if we had the chance.” Princess Celestia said on the verge of tears. “Believe me, we don’t want to see any of you getting hurt at all. And if we could have avoided it we would have.”

“Don’t worry Princess Celestia.” Twilight said reassuringly. “You can count on us to stop Utopian from reaching the Temple. Am I right girls?” Twilight asked.

“O’course.” Applejack answered.

“Why certainly, that brute needs to be taught a lesson.” Rarity replied.

“I can’t wait to get a Super Critical on him when we get to fighting!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, once again receiving serious looks from everypony else except the Princesses. “What? I’m serious! I brought my dice and everything!” She said, pulling out a pair of ten-sided dice from her mane and grinning.

“Any ways, you can count me in Princess.” Rainbow Dash said, trying to steer the conversation back to the way it was supposed to be heading. “We’ll take care of Utopian and kick his butt in ten-seconds flat.”

“I’ll come along if everypony else is going to go...” Fluttershy said quietly.

“You don’t have to worry about us Princess Celestia.” Twilight said, reassuring her mentor. “We’ll take care of this problem and be back before things get too out of control.” She said, watching her mentor smile for the first time in the
passing moments that they were talking.

“You really are the best ponies that anypony could hope for.” Princess Celestia said, seeing the beaming, but extremely tired looking, faces of Twilight and her friends. “We’ll let you get some rest then and meet with you in the morning.” She said, watching them all smile. “You’re going to need your strength if your going to follow Utopian into the depths of the Griffon Kingdom.”

Princess Luna nodded. “Everything shall be prepared by the time you are ready to depart. My guards shall see to that personally.”

“Thank you Princess Celestia.” Twilight said before turning to the Night Princess. “Thank you Princess Luna. We won’t let you down.”

“No Twilight. Thank you.” Princess Celestia said finally, before turning to leave with her sister. As both Alicorns left and began to soar across the sky towards Canterlot, Rainbow Dash let out a huge yawn which reminded everypony of what time it was. They all said their goodbyes to one another before leaving Twilight in the library, who then proceeded to head upstairs to the comfort of her own bed.

As the Elements of Harmony proceeded to rest up for their incoming adventure, one foal in particular was having a hard time sleeping. Wonderwing, who hadn’t fully recovered from the sight of his mother being attacked by the giant pony, was too busy thinking about what he would do if he had lost his mother and couldn’t get to sleep at all.

“Who were those ponies?” Wonderwing thought nervously. “Why were they after Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon? And where did they take them?” He heard the sounds of Scootaloo mumble something about Rainbow Dash, “Welcoming her into the Wonderbolts,” but paid it no mind as the questions continued to pound on his mind. “Mommy got hurt because of that pony. He’s probably long gone by now... But I’m still going to go after him.” Wonderwing thought determinedly “Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are in trouble, and because I’m a Cutie Mark Crusader now I’m going to help them. They may be really mean old bullies, but they’re foals just like the rest of us too.” He flipped over, seeing Pipsqueak gently buck at something with his hooves before nodding. “No Crusader leaves a pony behind.” He thought finally, trying to close his eyes and get some sleep.

The following morning was full of excitement and anticipation. Apparently news of the attack on Ponyville during the Summer Fair had spread like wild fire, and had left an impression on Equestria’s defenders. The transportation for their journey, an Aurora Class Battle cruiser Airship known as the Star Blaster was sitting on the outskirts of Ponyville and prepared for the beginning of the journey thanks to Princess Luna and the Night Guard. As hugs and farewells were exchanged and certain foals were told to mind their elders, the Elements of Harmony all boarded the heavily armed yacht-sized carriage that made up the underside of the airship and were off. Something bothered Twilight though, as she scanned the crowd she could see that somepony was missing.

“Hey, what’s wrong Twi’” Applejack asked.

“Well... I didn’t see Wonderwing at all before we left.” Twilight answered.

“Maybe he was just wanting to go see his mom.” Rainbow Dash said. “She did take a pretty big hit last night.”

Twilight nodded, but the feeling still bothered her. He and the other three missing crusaders, Dinky, Pipsqueak, and Twist were all missing from the crowd. Twist was understandable, she helped her parents with the local hard candy shop. But Dinky and Pipsqueak, no something wasn’t right. She couldn’t put her hoof on it, but she knew that they weren’t helping their families during something like today.

“Don’t worry about it Twilight. Maybe he’s back at home with his mommy now!” Pinkie Pie said happily.

Twilight nodded, the words of her pink friend made sense and as the crowd grew smaller than a bit she decided to put the thought out of her mind.

As the Star Blaster continued its ascent away from Ponyville, The Cutie Mark Crusaders all were heading towards Ponyville Hospital where Wonderwing should have been.

“Ah wonder why Wonderwing didn’t come with us ta see them off?” Applebloom asked as she and the other foals continued to approach the hospital.

“Maybe he lost track of time?” Sweetie Belle wondered aloud.

“He’s wearing a wristwatch like the rest of us.” Scootaloo commented. “He couldn’t have lost track of time while visiting his mom though.”

“Ya’ll seemed ta’ do that a lot with yer mom though Scootaloo.” Applebloom commented, snickering a little as the pegasus foal froze up a little.

“Well let’s just head up to the hospital so we can figure out what’s going on with him” Scootaloo snapped, trying to shrug the comment off as it were nothing.

-At Ponyville Hospital, minutes later-

“What do you mean that Wonderwing hasn’t shown up to see his mom at all?” Scootaloo snapped.

“Just that young lady.” The receptionist at the front desk droned, her boredom completely apparent by the expression on her face. “There haven’t been any ponies by the name of Wonderwing signing in to see any visitors. If there would have been a pony by that name, I would have their name on my sign in board and would be glad to help you but like I said there hasn’t been a pony of that name come here except for last night right after the attack. Is there anything else that I can help you with?” She asked, sounding irritated.

“No ma’am.” Applebloom replied. “Come on you guys, le’s go.” She said, turning to leave with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

As the three foals stepped out onto the steps in front of the hospital building, Scootaloo groaned. “Argh!” She groaned angrily. “This doesn’t make any sense! Why wouldn’t Wonderwing want to go see his mother if he didn’t want to see Rainbow Dash off with the rest of us?”

“You do know that there are five other ponies that are just as important as Rainbow Dash right?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching Scootaloo nod.

“Yeah... ehehehe, sorry.” Scootaloo apologized.

“But Scootaloo has a point, if Wonderwing ain’t here then where is he?” Applebloom asked.

As they calmly trotted back to the Crusader Mobile to figure out what would make Wonderwing pass up an opportunity to see Twilight and her Friends off, but not use that opportunity to see his mother, they heard a yelp and a shout followed closely by a crash. They all looked up to see Dinky, laying in a heap and crashed next to a bush with one of the scooters that Scootaloo had for the other Crusader Mobile.

“Scootaloo! Applebloom! Sweetie Belle! You guys gotta come quick!” Dinky exclaimed, shaking her head before rushing over to the other crusaders.

“Easy Dinky. What’s the matter?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Yeah, what’s got your muffins all spoiled?” Scootaloo asked.

“Muffins are being spoiled? Oh no!” Dinky exclaimed.

“She means what’s got ya’ll so worked up.” Applebloom said, watching the unicorn calm down.

“Oh.” Dinky said, calming down significantly. “Well, Pipsqueak and I were looking for Wonderwing around town because he wasn’t going to see everypony off like we were. And we found him, working on our Airship and talking about going after the big nasty pony that hurt his mommy!” She squeaked, causing the other crusaders to gasp. “Pipsqueak’s trying to talk him out of it, but I don’t think that he could say anything to convince him!”

“But those are warships! Even if ours could keep up with them there wouldn’t be a chance for us to stay airborne with all of their cannon fire!” Scootaloo exclaimed.

“Not to mention that it’s incredibly dangerous. We need to get over there now, come on you guys!” Sweetie Belle cried, leaping onto the wagon as Scootaloo revved up her wings. Dinky and Applebloom followed suit before holding on as Scootaloo began to flutter her wings as fast as they could go. In less than a few seconds, the crusaders were off to Sweet Apple Acres, holding on for dear life as they made their way to Sweet Apple Acres.

-Meanwhile at Sweet Apple Acres-

“You realize that you’ve gone completely bonkers right?” Pipsqueak asked, watching as Wonderwing continued to work on the last of the engines to the Crusader’s Airship alone. “You’re a right madpony if you think that you can do this on your own.”

“That was my daddy in that airship that attacked Ponyville.” Wonderwing answered, mounting the propeller on the engine before giving it a few test revolutions on the engine. “He and that big pony that attacked my mommy are doing something wrong, and they need to be told that its wrong.”

“Well tha’s what the Elements of Harmony are gonna do mate.” Pipsqueak replied. He watched as Wonderwing continued to work on the last of the four engines that he so meticulously modified like the other four that had been mounted onto the airship in the two weeks that the pegasus had been with the crusaders.

“They’re going to seal daddy away in stone just like they did with Discord.” Wonderwing snapped. “They don’t understand. My daddy isn’t mean and nasty, he’s just confused. I don’t want them to take him away...” His voice trailed off as he stopped working, looking away from the engines of the airship and sobbing a little.

“They’re not going to take him away Wonderwing.” Pipsqueak said, reassuringly. “Not unless they have to.”


“Wonderwing!” The combined voices of Dinky, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Applebloom shouted out and startled the little pegasus, causing him to jump and slam his head into the wing of the airship.

“What in the hay are you doing?” Scootaloo asked.

“You’re not thinkin’ about goin after Utopian ahr you?” Applebloom asked.

“Utopian’s my daddy. I don’t want anything bad do happen to him.” Wonderwing defended.

“We understand that Wonderwing, but do you even know where they went?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching the pegasus shake his head. “Okay, now do you even know if this thing will fly?”

Wonderwing looked up. “When I’m done with it, it will.” He said, smiling a little.

“How do you know that for sure?” Scootaloo asked.

“I’m following the ways that airship builders used to make their airships in my book here.” Wonderwing replied, trotting over to a small workbench and showing the other foals a complex layer by layer design of a very rich-ponies airship. “The gondola for the airship is totally different because of the way we were building it, but that makes it all the better for the tail fins. I’ve been trying to make this work for the past few hours, but I have to say that this isn’t like our watches. I may even be a few days behind them if I’m lucky.”

Applebloom shook her head. “Oh no, you ain’t gonna go anywhere by yerself Wonderwing.”

“Yeah, it’s still too dangerous. You could get seriously hurt or in trouble.” Dinky added. “And your mommy would be
very sad if you didn’t come home.”

“These watches may be neat, and let us do cool stuff but they really can’t do much else can they?” Sweetie Belle asked. “Can they?”

Wonderwing remained silent, looking down on his watch before taking a deep breath. “You guys are right.” He admitted finally after a few moments. “But we don’t know what we’re capable of if we don’t try! If we just sit here like good foals we won’t get in trouble yes, but we won’t be able to prove what we really can do!”

“We can do that when we’re older Wonderwing, maybe when we do something that isn’t so dangerous?” Scootaloo commented.

“Yeah, I don’t want to get hurt.” Sweetie Belle agreed. “But I also don’t want you to get hurt either.”

“But what about Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon?” Wonderwing asked.

“What about them?” Applebloom countered.

“Yeah, they’re nuthin but a bunch of bullies.” Pipsqueak said. “What do we owe them?”

“They may be bullies and mean ponies, but they’re also foals that need help.” Wonderwing said firmly. “And the job as a Cutie Mark Crusader is to help foals in need.” He said firmly, watching as sweat began to form on the faces of the other foals. “That’s what I said when I signed up to be a Cutie Mark Crusader right? To help other foals after I discovered who I am? Well I may not have discovered who I am, but Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon still need my help. And I’m not going to let some overly big bad metallic monster that my daddy made scare me from doing what I’m supposed to do as a Crusader.”

Wonderwing’s words hit home with the other foals, as determination filled his eyes. None of the other crusaders met his gaze until Scootaloo spoke up, her voice trembling as she spoke. “Wonderwing, you know that you’re taking the creed of the Cutie Mark Crusaders to a different level right?” She asked.

“That’s one thing that my daddy taught me.” Wonderwing replied. “If I’m going to have to be a part of a club when I leave the house, then I’m going to be as good in the club as I possibly can be.”

“But we don’t even know where to start going if we do have a chance to follow your dad and Twilight and the others.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“My daddy had lots of maps in a book that he had back at home in Canterlot. Maybe we can use that.” Wonderwing answered. “He did take a lot of good notes, and made sure that he kept them all organized.”

“The chances of those notes still being there are very slim though... Princess Luna and Princess Celestia probably already made sure to search your house for anything that could be used as clues as to how to get to where he was heading.” Pipsqueak said.

The foals all remained silent for a few moments, trying to search for an idea before it came to them all like a ton of bricks. “The Library!” They all shouted, smiling at the same time.

“Maybe Spike can get us copies of the maps we need!” Scootaloo said happily.

“And we could also check out a few books to keep us safe!” Sweetie Belle replied.

“We’re also gonna need supplies. Food an’ stuff like that.” Applebloom said. “Ah can take care of that with Dinky an’ Twist’s help if she’s on board.” She said, watching as Dinky nodded.

“We’re also gonna need that book that Wonderwing was talking about.” Sweetie Belle said quickly. “Without it, we won’t be able to find out where everypony’s going.”

“Me and Wonderwing will get that.” Scootaloo said. “It’ll be easy, just like how Nightmare Moon was beaten by the Elements of Harmony.”

“They never said it was easy.” Sweetie Belle said. “You also need an adult pony to go with you guys, they wouldn’t let foals onto the train by themselves.”

“Twist is an adult pony isn’t she?” Pipsqueak asked.

“Ah don’ know if she’ll help us with this though.” Applebloom commented. “Ah mean she doesn’t really like gettin’ into trouble and danger like this.”

“We can explain everything when we meet up with her. If her parents ask, we’ll just say that it’s a camping trip.” Scootaloo said.

“A camping trip.” Wonderwing repeated. The other crusaders were just as perplexed as Wonderwing was as Scootaloo watched her fellow Crusaders closely.

“Yeah, it’s not like we’re gonna go, “Heya Twist, wanna come with us to the same place that the bad ponies are going to go and have a chance of not coming back at all?” Her parents would freak if we said that.” Scootaloo replied. “We’ll tell her the truth as soon as we get out of an earshot, but she also needs to keep quiet about this. We don’t want any adults stopping us from getting in the air.”

“We’re gonna need to do it soon.” Wonderwing replied. “The last engine is done and ready to be put into place, and the balloon still isn’t ready. Plus the inside isn’t all done yet.” He said, watching Sweetie Belle smile.

“Don’t worry Wonderwing.” Sweetie Belle said with a grin. “We’ll get that taken care of, wrapping a hoof around Pipsqueak. “You all just get everything together and we’ll have a good bit done before you all get back.” She said watching as the other foals all nodded.

“All right. We’re all gonna meet back here before sundown okay?” Scootaloo asked.

“That’s if the train’s on time.” Wonderwing said. “Otherwise we’re gonna be not able to see a thing when we take off.”

“Oh that’s something we don’t need to worry about.” Scootaloo said confidently.

“Why do you say that?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Oh trust me.” Scootaloo said. “I know how we can get there if nothing else works.” She said, grabbing Wonderwing
and taking off. The other foals remained silent before breaking off to their own assigned pairs, each excited for what they’re plan of attack.

As Scootaloo and Wonderwing arrived at Twist’s parent’s business, they didn’t stop to select their wares, only to ask for their fellow crusader. When the earth pony arrived, she greeted them in her usual way only to be met with a rush of dark
purple and orange hooves which carried her over to a corner of the store away from her parents.

“What’th going on you guyth?” Twist asked, her head being forced down into a huddle with the other foals.

“Listen, we need you to help us get to Canterlot.” Wonderwing explained.

“And we need you to be as quiet as possible. It’s kind of why we’re in a huddle.” Scootaloo added.

“Oh...” Twist whispered. “Okay, tho why do you need me to help you get to Canterlot?” She asked.

After a few moments, both pegasi explained what their plans were when they got there. Twist remained silent throughout the whole explanation, and as they both finished she shook her head.

“You guyth realize that you’re gonna be in tho much trouble if you do thith?” Twist asked.

“Yeah, we thought about it.” Wonderwing said. “But this is my dad that we’re talking about. He’s gonna get turned to stone if I can’t convince him that what he’s doing is wrong. Plus there’s also Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon who need our
help too.”

Twist remained silent, before nodding. “I’ll thee if I can get my mommy and daddy to let me go with you guyth to Canterlot. You guyth will need thomepony to get you there and back right?” She asked, watching both foals nod. “Well then, I’ll thee what I can do.”

Both Wonderwing and Scootaloo watched as Twist went over to her parents, both extremely large earth ponies and began speaking with them. After a few minute conversation her father, the pony behind the counter nodded which caused the foal to run into the back for a few moments before returning with a saddlebag on her back. Wonderwing and Scootaloo smiled before running out the door with Twist, and headed to the Crusader Mobile before speeding off. None of them realized however, that a unicorn wearing a heavy cloak over her face was watching them from the other side of the street.

After arriving at the Ponyville Train Station, and convincing the conductor that Twist was an adult pony just very small, the Cutie Mark Crusaders all boarded the noon train to Canterlot. The ride was completely smooth along the way, and it gave the crusaders time to think about what they were about to do.

“Tho, you wanted me to lie to my mom and dad. And you want me to do it again? Are you thure that we aren’t going to be putting ourthelveth in danger?”Twist asked.

“Don’t worry about it Twist.” Scootaloo said, reassuringly. “We’re gonna be fine. Especially after we get that book that Wonderwing needs.”

“But what about the monthterth and thtuff that would hurt uth?” Twist asked.

“We’ll be way above them.” Wonderwing said. “And most of what can fly wouldn’t be interested in us anyways, because we’d be too small for the effort.”

“Oh. That’th a little reathurring. And Applebloom and Dinky are taking care of the food?” She asked.

“Yeah, they should get enough to last the trip. For all of us.” Scootaloo commented, seeing Twist smile.

“Okay. Well tho long ath you know what you guyth are doing I gueth.” Twist said, looking out the window as the express train that they were on had entered the tunnel in carved in the mountain.

As soon as the express train stopped the crusaders all left in a hurry, thanking the conductor as they did so. It almost
took Wonderwing a full two hours to lead the other foals on the way back to his home, including to stop and ask for directions a couple of times when necessary. When the foals reached the mansion-like house, they all could see that there were no guards stationed anywhere near the house much to their surprise, but could see that most of the windows had been boarded shut as though it had been abandoned.

“This is where you live?” Scootaloo asked skeptically, seeing several of the black shingles on the roof fall to the ground below. “It doesn’t look like much.”

“It lookth thcary...” Twist uttered, trembling a little.

“I don’t think that my dad’s been here since I left.” Wonderwing commented, pushing the gate open and nervously trotting forward. The grass of the small front lawn looked completely different, having an almost dead feeling to it, and none of the flowers that were there when Wonderwing left his home even seemed to exist.

The three foals nervously approached the house, it getting more and more intimidating with every step they took. When Wonderwing walked up to the front door, he gently touched it with his hoof and watch it open a little too easily for even his tastes.

“It looks like your dad hasn’t even been here for a while Wonderwing.” Scootaloo commented. Wonderwing nodded before swallowing a little air and took a step inside the incredibly dark entranceway. He couldn’t hardly see anything inside, and other than the light from outside the front door, he could barely see anything except what was directly in front of him.

“Let’s stick close guys. We don’t need to get separated.” Scootaloo said calmly, moving close to both Wonderwing and Twist as they advanced deeper into the house. The foals all moved quickly, heading from one empty room to the next on the first floor before beginning to think about the second.

“Maybe we should turn back...” Scootaloo said, a chill racing down her spine.

“Yeah, I’m with Thcootaloo.” Twist said, shuddering nervously as Wonderwing continued looking around in the light.

“The book’s here. I have a feeling it is.” Wonderwing answered. “It’s one of his most prized treasures. He wouldn’t take it anywhere except when he wants to read it from...” He stopped, turning towards a set of familiar double doors to the left of the front door. He ran to them, with Scootaloo and Twist following close behind before opening them and seeing the battered book lying on his father’s desk. “There it is!” Wonderwing exclaimed, running over to the book and dragging it off the desk before showing it to Scootaloo and Twist. “This is his most favorite story from when he was a foal.”

“The Legends of the Great Crusader?” Scootaloo read from the damaged title. “I haven’t heard of that before.”

“That’s the problem with youth today.” A voice said from behind them all, startling the three foals before they turned around. “None of them want to read the classics anymore.” They all gasped as a unicorn, that looked almost as tall as Princess Luna, with a pale blue mane and tail emerged from underneath a dark heavy cloak and shook her mane a little.

“Wh-Who’re you?” Wonderwing asked, taking a step backwards.

“Why, I’m a friend of your daddy.” The unicorn said gently stepping forward a little.

“My daddy doesn’t have any friends.” Wonderwing said, stepping back and feeling the desk behind him. “He thinks that all ponies that want to be your friend are after nothing except to use you.”

“Oh, I see.” The unicorn replied. “But your daddy is my friend. He told me so. And he also told me that he wanted me to get that book your holding. May I have it please?” She asked, continuing her gentle routine.

“No. I need to use it for something. Plus he wouldn’t want me to give it to ponies who I didn’t know.” Wonderwing replied.

“Wonderwing... I think that we need to go...” Scootaloo said quietly.

“Yeah, thith pony giveth me the creepth.” Twist uttered.

The unicorn chuckled a little, hearing both foals comments. “And why do I give you the creeps little ones? You don’t need to worry. I won’t hurt you.” She said, smiling.

“That’s what they all say lady.” Scootaloo commented. “Right before they try to kidnap you.”

“Oh! Oh my, somepony has a mouth on her.” The unicorn said with a malicious smirk. “She had better be careful or else that may get her hurt or even worse.”

“Trust me lady, we’ve been through worse.” Scootaloo snapped.

“Scootaloo... What are you doing?” Wonderwing asked, never removing his gaze from the unicorn.

“Something’s not right about her.” Scootaloo answered. “She’s spying for somepony, and it isn’t our parents.”

“You must watch too much Television little one.” The unicorn answered, sounding a little frustrated. “I’m not spying for anypony, especially not your-”

“AHA! I knew it, you are a spy!” Scootaloo shouted, catching the unicorn off before she could finish. “You aren’t fooling anypony lady. You just wanted an excuse to tail somepony and picked us as a chance to score something big for your boss!”

The unicorn stopped, all of the frustration seemingly melting away as her horn flared up with a pale blue light. “Well well well.” She said, looking down on the foals. “It seems that somepony is smart enough to see through my innocence act. I really need more practice on it I suppose.”

“Who are you, and what do you want with my daddy’s book?” Wonderwing snapped, watching the unicorn toss her mane back a little before letting her spell discharge. Before any of the foals could blink at least fifty to sixty undead ponies just like the ones from last night appeared at her side and began to snarl and growl angrily.

“As I said I am your father Utopian’s friend. But you are correct at the same time. I am one of his trusted generals, Serene Grace at your service.” Serene Grace answered, watching the foals all tense up. “Now, what I want with the book your holding ever so close to that wretched little body of yours is this: My master wants that book destroyed, so that no hiccups hinder his rise to power. Hand it over and things won’t get ugly.”

“And what makes you think that we’ll just hand it over?” Scootaloo asked, causing both Wonderwing and Twist to give her, “Are you crazy?” looks.

“Well I have an army, and there’s only three foals here. Do the math kid, you’re out numbered.” Serene Grace snapped.

“Yeah, and you’re out gunned.” Scootaloo challenged, looking over to both Wonderwing and Twist before flashing her watch. Both foals understood where she was going with her challenges and set Wonderwing’s father’s book inside Twist’s Saddlebag before flashing their own wristwatches.

“What, are you going to time how long it takes me to take that book from you?” Serene Grace snapped, watching the foals closely.

“Nah, nothing like that.” Scootaloo said, flipping the cover for her watch as the others did so. “But it’s gonna be something cool though. You guys ready?” She asked.

“Ready!” Both Wonderwing and Twist answered.

“It’s morphin time!” Scootaloo shouted, as she and the other foals pushed the buttons on their watches. Serene Grace and her group of zombie ponies stepped back a little as light erupted around the foals before disappearing all together. Scootaloo smiled, tossing her cape lightly over her shoulder as she glared at the group of ponies in front of her. “Red Pegasus Crusader!” She shouted.

Wonderwing stretched a little, before taking an aggressive stance right next to his fellow crusaders, his suit allowing him to nearly blend in with the surroundings. “Black Pegasus Crusader!” He shouted.

Twist lowered the saddlebag from off of her back and adjusted her cape before narrowing her eyes at the crowd of ponies. “White Earth Pony Cruthader!” She cried, looking like she was ready to pounce.

“You guys, lets keep them from getting that book.” Scootaloo said. “It’s the only chance we got if we’re gonna save Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.”

Serene Grace smiled at the three foals, watching as they all seemed to want to defend the book they had just gotten their hooves on. “Oh well, I tried being nice. Now you’re all dead. Gentlecolts, rip them to shreds.” She ordered, taking several steps back as the zombie ponies began to charge at the foals.

If somepony had told her about what was going to happen next inside Utopian’s old house, Serene Grace would have never believed it. Within the first two minutes of the fight, the three foals had scattered her soldiers like bowling pins, and had began to pick them off one by one. The leader of the three, the pegasus foal in red had surprisingly good reflexes as she seamlessly smashed her front hooves into one of the zombies in front of her before leaping into the air and doing a back flip away from her target as two beams of red magic slammed into and vaporized it. She then turned right around and punched two more several times with her front hooves before spinning around on her back hooves and bucking them through a wall.

The pegasus foal all in black seemed to prefer taking down his targets all with one shot, striking at joints of bones and snapping off horns like a professional killer. The foal got into close quarters with one of her servants, trading blow after blow with the pony before bucking it deep in the ribs and causing it to fly through the ceiling.

The Earth Pony foal was doing the most guarding of her target, playing floor hockey with her hooves as the zombie ponies tried getting shot after shot off. She threw the small saddlebag on top of the built in wall book shelf with a skillful kick, before charging head long into three or four zombie ponies that were about to take a shot and slammed them into the desk and the proceeding wall behind them.

The battle wasn’t wholly one sided in the foals favor though. The pegasus foal in red was knocked flying by several blasts of magic released by three of the zombie ponies that were close to her, and landed on the ground closest to where the Earth Pony foal was fighting.

“Scootaloo! Are you okay?” Twist asked, looking at the set of scorch marks that were on Scootaloo’s suit.

“Yeah Twist, I’m fine.” Scootaloo groaned, getting to her hooves before turning towards where Wonderwing was
fighting. “You keep those zombies off the book, I’ll help Wonderwing.” Scootaloo said, watching Twist nod before rushing at the zombies that continued to pound on the out numbered foal.

Wonderwing held his hooves up to block as another pair of undead hooves went to slam into him. The force of the impact caused the foal to slide backwards, but it didn’t break anything. Wonderwing was about to retaliate with a punch of his own when the offending zombie was beheaded by a flying kick caused by Scootaloo.

“Need a hoof?” Scootaloo asked, doing another round house kick against three more zombie ponies in her way.

“Do I ever. Thanks for the assist Scootaloo.” Wonderwing said before leaping at a zombie that was about to take a shot at the pegasus and kicking him.

Serene Grace took a step back, the foals were actually winning. After shaking herself, she concentrated as her horn flared up with magic for a second time which caused the zombies to glow with the same pale blue aura that she was generating. Before anything else could be done to stop her, all of the zombies seemed to repair all of the damage that was done to them and proceeded to back the Cutie Mark Crusaders into a corner.

“Uh... You guyth...” Twist uttered as Wonderwing and Scootaloo appeared on either side of her. “What’re we gonna do?” She asked, looking at the zombies nervously.

“There’s no way we can keep this up...” Scootaloo said, looking around for a way out. “We can’t win...”

“But there has to be a way! There just has to!” Wonderwing exclaimed.

“Sorry foals, but you’ve lost. Now be the good little ponies that you should be and give me that book!” Serene Grace commanded.

The three crusaders gave each other somber looks from underneath their helmets before the realization of their defeat settled in. Just as Twist began to climb up to the saddle bag where the book they so desperately needed was sitting at, the three foals watches began to glow a golden light.

“What’s going on? What did you do?” Serene Grace snapped, taking a step back with the zombies that were under her control.

“CRUSADERS, DO NOT LOSE HEART. MY POWER IS WITHIN YOU ALL, JUST CALL IT OUT.” A familiar voice boomed, causing the three foals to look at their watches. Wonderwing, who seemed to understand a little, stepped forward and cleared his throat.

“Calling on the Crusader Shield!” Wonderwing shouted. Everypony watched as the golden light shot from his watch and enveloped his whole right hoof, before taking the form of a very dangerous and heavy looking black foal-sized teardrop shield bearing the Cutie Mark Crusader logo in the center. He smiled and looked over the shield before turning to the other crusaders. “Come on you guys, just do what I did. You’ll get some cool stuff too!” He said excitedly.

Scootaloo nodded as Twist came down from the book shelf before turning to her watch. She closed her eyes watching in her mind’s eye as her own weapon began to form in the shape of a long and slim blade. Scootaloo then opened her eyes and cried, “Calling on the Crusader Saber!” The golden energy shot from her wristwatch, taking the form of a long and slim pegasus fencing sword with about the length of a two-hoofed sword. She took the sword by the handle with one of her hooves and gave it a swing, watching it tear through the air and slash a zombie completely in two. A small gem rested in the center of the guard, which looked like a pair of wings, the gem glistened a little before showing the Cutie Mark Crusader’s logo in dead center.

Twist wowed at the other two foal’s new weapons before she scrunched her eyes up as hard as she could. In her own eye she could see the golden light form two smaller sword like objects with hooks on the longest ends of the blades. She excitedly opened her eyes, and struck a pose before shouting, “Calling on the Cruthader Twin Hookth!” The light then erupted from the watch, splitting off into two and forming a pair of hooked swords that placed themselves in her hooves. Twist smiled, swinging the pair of swords together like a deadly ballerina before hooking them together and striking the zombie pony closest to her with a deadly overhead swing.

“But... Th-Th-This is impossible!” Serene Grace snapped, staring at the now dangerously armed foals.

“No it isn’t.” Scootaloo commented, taking her new saber in both hooves. “We’re the good guys, we get upgrades to our abilities all of the time.”

“Now you’re gonna get it.” Wonderwing said, smiling from underneath his helmet.

“Oh, I wonder what weaponth the otherth are gonna get.” Twist thought aloud.

“Boy won’t they be in for a shock.” Wonderwing replied.

“Not when we tell them what’s going on later.” Scootaloo said. “Now...” She said, turning to the crowd of zombie ponies in front of them all, “Let’s get’em guys!” Scootaloo said, charging forward with her saber held off to the side.

“Hey, wait for us!” Wonderwing shouted, charging into the crowd with Twist following him closely as Scootaloo began striking two to three zombie ponies down with each swing of her saber.

“What are you all standing around there for?” Serene Grace snapped, glaring at the zombie ponies before leaping out of the way from a blast of energy from Wonderwing’s shield. “Stop them!” She ordered, causing the ponies to blindly charge at the three dangerously armed foals.

As quickly as the advantage that the zombie ponies had gained when they revived was lost almost as fast. The foals were making short work of them, each displaying skills with their weapons that normal foals wouldn’t normally have at that age.

Wonderwing ducked and charged through the middle of a crowd of the hordes of the undead ponies, his shield reflecting the blasts of magic back in the general direction of the casters before he leapt into the air and fired blasts of energy at several zombie ponies near the door. He spun around immediately, blocking an attack from a pair of zombie ponies before shoving them off with his shield into the strike radius of Scootaloo’s saber.

“Wow, you’re kinda getting’ pushy with that thing.” Scootaloo commented.

“I guess it comes with the territory.” Wonderwing responded, pointing the shield at a zombie pony behind Scootaloo before firing a blast at it and vaporizing it on the spot. “Watch your back.” He said before moving on to three more to his right.

Scootaloo looked down at the pile of ashes behind her before regaining her focus, running a zombie pony’s skull skillfully with her saber before ripping it out of the said skull and cutting two more. She staggered a little, which exposed her to a pony ready to fire a blast of magic at her only to watch as Twist decapitated the zombie pony with her twin hooked weapons.

“I’ve got your back Thcootaloo!” Twist shouted, unhooking her twin hooks and using them to block the attacks of two more zombie ponies. She then leapt at the ponies, rehooking her weapons together, before skillfully taking them both out in a single slash before landing.

“Thanks Twist!” Scootaloo shouted, taking out another zombie pony with a powerful downward chop. Twist nodded in her direction and charged at five ponies that had managed to sneak up on Wonderwing before continuing her deadly dance.

Serene Grace couldn’t believe her eyes, in less than ten minutes half of her entire force was defeated by a bunch of foals. She ducked another set of rouge shots from the pegasus in black’s shield before backing away slowly. “Buck this... I can tell him that the book was destroyed when the guards searched the place and leveled it.” The unicorn thought, watching as in what seemed a matter of moments only a handful of her troops remained standing. “All right you three... You win this round, but I won’t go so easy on you this time.” She snapped, using her horn to blind the area before vanishing with the handful of soldiers that were with her.

As soon as all of the zombie ponies were gone; Scootaloo, Wonderwing, and Twist all reverted back to normal. “Did you guys see that?” Wonderwing asked.

“When the zombies were all like rawr!” Scootaloo shouted excitedly.

“And we were all like hi yah!” Twist said.

The foals all shared a quick laugh before looking up at Twist’s saddlebag at the top of the book shelf. “Now we have an idea on how to get there.” Wonderwing said. “And we have a way to defend ourselves if we get into trouble.”

“Yeah, let’s get back to Sweet Apple Acres and let the others know we can do all of this awesome stuff.” Scootaloo said.

“Okay, just lemme get my Thaddle Bag firtht.” Twist said, trotting over to the bookshelf before climbing up on the lower shelves and grabbing her bag with her teeth. The small pony looked like she was about to fall however, and let go of the shelf before she got down only to be caught by both Scootaloo and Wonderwing. “Thankth you guyth, that would’ve hurt really bad if I had hit the floor.”

“Uh that’s kinda why we caught you in the first place.” Scootaloo said, giggling a little. “Now come on, let’s get outta here before somepony get’s suspicious.”

“Right.” Wonderwing and Twist said, following Scootaloo out of the front door and out into the street in Canterlot. Wonderwing turned to look at the somber building one last time before following his friends back to the train station. Something told him he wasn’t coming back there, and it made him feel a lot better.

-Back in Ponyville, Several hours later-

“You mean you guys beat back somepony that was helping Utopian?” Sweetie Belle asked as soon as Scootaloo, Twist, and Wonderwing had returned from Canterlot. They were all waiting at the train station in the Crusader Mobile when the three foals stepped off of the train, and were now heading towards Sweet Apple Acres to what was hopefully the finished airship.

“Yeah, our watches were all glowy and this voice told us that, “His power was within us all,” and we just called out what sounded cool at the time and the lights turned into the weapons we used to kick some flank!” Scootaloo answered.

“We wouldn’t have gotten out of there thanks to who ever it was that was helping us with their power.” Wonderwing commented.

“An’ we got some sorta fancy weapons ahrselves too right?” Applebloom asked, watching the three foals nod.

“Yeah, we’ll show you guys how to get them out once we get airborne.” Wonderwing commented.

“You got that book you wanted right?” Dinky asked.

“Yep, it’th in my thaddlebag.” Twist answered. “We’re ready to fly when you are.”

“All right!” The other foals shouted, watching as the barn that held their airship came riding into view.

“It took us a bit to actually convince Dinky’s mom and your mom about the Camping Trip Twist.” Sweetie Belle said seriously. “But we still had a spare Filly Scouts book that was laying around in the clubhouse and they bought it hook, line, and sinker.”

“Spike was also easy to convince.” Dinky said. “I just gave him a few gems from around Rarity’s shop that I found lying around, and I got the copies easily.”

“Were those gems green in color by any chance?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Uh... I think so?” Dinky said, watching as Sweetie Belle smacked her head with her hoof.

“Those were to keep the moths away from her shop.” Sweetie Belle replied. “Hopefully they don’t cause too much damage...”

“We don’t need to worry about that now. We’re almost there!” Scootaloo shouted, fluttering her wings faster with Wonderwing until they got to the airship. As soon as the foals dismounted, they all ran into the barn, making for their things on the inside. “Come on crusaders, lets get this stuff in before we take off!” She said, watching as Wonderwing ran into the basket and began to work at one of the consoles on the inside. Quickly the other foals began to place their saddlebags inside the airship, along with several baskets full of foods that they thought that they would need. Before the airship began to move out to the barn, Applebloom and Scootaloo galloped to the barn doors and pulled them as hard as they could to open them to the point to where the airship could leave the barn. As the balloon on the airship began to inflate all of the foals quickly ran out of the barn, leaving the Crusader Mobile behind and entering the basket before shutting the cockpit door behind them.

“Everypony, get your seatbelts on.” Wonderwing commanded, looking over his shoulder as the foals strapped into the other seats that were in the Basket. “Take off will begin as soon as the balloon finishes inflating.” Wonderwing said.

“How long’s that gonna take?” Scootaloo asked.

“About a couple of minutes. We are starting from it being flat after all.” Wonderwing answered.

As the Crusader’s Airship remained parked in front of the barn that it was in, the noise from all of their engines was
enough to get both Big Mac and Granny Smith out of the house to see what was going on. Both ponies stared, watching as the small winged craft’s balloon filled more and more, before seeing the small foals waiting patiently inside the ship. Big Mac’s eyes widened, causing him to reel back before charging at the ship, running as fast as his legs could go.

“Uh, you guys we don’t have a few minutes!” Sweetie Belle cried, watching as the hard working Earth Pony charged at them. “We’ve got a big brother Incoming!”

The foals all turned, watching as Big Mac continued his charge. “Wonderwing, what’s takin’ so dang long?” Applebloom shouted.

“Were at eighty percent, we can’t leave yet!” Wonderwing shouted, looking at his instruments before turning back to the sight of the charging pony.

“What in the hay is goin on here? You foals git outta there!” Big Mac shouted, continuing to charge at the airship rapidly.

“We’re at ninety percent!” Wonderwing shouted.

“Ah’m sorry Big Mac! But we can’t do it!” Applebloom shouted through the glass. She watched as her brother ran to the door of the basket and leapt at it, trying to open the latch that led inside.

“He’s trying to get inside!” Dinky cried.

“The doors automatically lock when the balloon starts inflating. He’s going to have to try and bash the door in if he wants to get in here.” Wonderwing replied, hearing a loud bang that came from the door.

“He’s gonna break the door in!” Scootaloo shouted.

Looking at the controls, Wonderwing could only watch as the air meter read out ninety seven percent. He looked to the other foals, who were still strapped in and waiting on what to do as Applebloom’s older brother tried his hardest to break in and keep them from flying off. He then turned to face forward, pushing the steering wheel forward as he began to taxi the airship down towards the almost clear path leading away from Sweet Apple Acres. The foals, who had now turned their attention to Big Mac as he narrowly avoided the propellers of the airship’s wings before beginning chase again.

“He’s still coming!”Pipsqueak said, looking from out of the back windows of the airship.

“Yeah, I see him.” Wonderwing replied, seeing the mighty stallion chase after their airship. “But we’re now at full inflation on the balloon, and we’re ready for take off. Everypony hold on!” Wonderwing shouted as they all felt the wheels of the under carriage left the ground and began to tuck underneath into the bottom and lock into place.

Big Mac, who had slowed down to a half-gallop watched blankly as the Cutie Mark Crusaders flew away, beyond his
reach and faster than he could run after them. He panted a little bit, beads of sweat forming on his brow as the airship turned to the east before heading out of sight to the tree line. Before he knew it, they were gone.

The First Ascension Sign - Beginnings

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Chapter 10

-The First Ascension Sign, Beginnings-

“Serene Grace, report.” Utopian commanded, glaring at an empty spot in between both Tuff Stuff and Crimson Heart. A few moments later a bright light flickered in between them both before the unicorn materialized between them and bowed low. Her mane and tail appeared to be in disarray as several minor cuts and bruises were visible from all over her body.

“I apologize for my tardiness in reporting in milord. I had to find a place away from all of the common ponies in Canterlot right after I left.” Serene Grace answered, looking up at Utopian from her position in front of the unicorn. Utopian sat quietly on a very regal looking throne behind several control panels with zombie ponies all working and monitoring the gauges that were in front of him. To her left and right, beyond Tuff Stuff and Crimson Heart were hundreds of other zombie ponies trotting about and working quietly and efficiently at other consoles. The windows that bordered the bridge showed what appeared to be a beautifully painted night sky amongst the clouds, which distracted Serene Grace for a moment before returning her attention back to Utopian. “Milord, the task has been accomplished.” She said confidently, rising from her kneeling position and seeing Utopian’s proud smile.

“I see. So, you destroyed my book as instructed...” Utopian uttered, making a mental not of Serene Grace’s looks. “You must have destroyed my home to by the looks of things... There weren’t any complications with the task now, were there?” He asked.

“No milord.” Serene Grace replied immediately. “I apologize for the wanton destruction of your home, but I believed that it would be necessary to throw the guard off of our trail.” She lied, hoping that Utopian wouldn’t catch her.

“I see... very well Serene Grace. Meet back with the ship at the first rendezvous point as instructed.” Utopian ordered, watching Serene Grace bow low. “You are dismissed.”

“Understood milord.” Serene Grace said before disappearing. Tuff Stuff and Crimson Heart remained silent, watching as the Unicorn used his magic to pick up a small glass of wine that was set out on a tray beside his throne. After taking a small sip, and looking down on them both, Tuff Stuff shifted nervously a little where they stood.

“Milord, I ask you... What was so important in destroying that book?” Crimson Heart asked, which caused Utopian to raise one of his eyebrows generously. “I’m sorry milord, forgive me for prying into private matters.” He hurriedly said watching as the unicorn set the glass down gently.

“No no, even though it is a private matter you did let your curiosity get the better of you. You are forgiven Crimson Heart.” Utopian answered calmly. “As to your question, the book contained everything that I needed to make the journey to the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible alone without an army to be at my beck and call should the choice be necessary. The mentions of how Necromancy is a widely accepted practice in the Griffin Kingdom is also a plus, but none of that matters.” He paused, smirking a little. “Why waste valuable lives like yourselves when I can spend the marks of the undead at the Wayshrines of Ascension?”

“Wayshrines of Ascension milord?” Tuff Stuff repeated, sounding confused.

Utopian blinked, turning to the earth pony that was now kneeling before him. “Yes Tuff Stuff, it’s a pity that your knowledge of the Griffin Kingdom is lacking to say the least...” He paused for a moment, trying to think of a way to explain them better. After a few moments he smiled, coming up with a way before beginning to speak. “Think of the valley around the Temple as a safe, the safe cannot be opened without the proper combination correct?”

“Yes, milord.” Crimson Heart replied.

“The Wayshrines of Ascension are like the combination that one must put in to get inside the safe. There are three signs: The Wayshrine of Beginnings, The Wayshrine of Sacrifice, and the Wayshrine of Power.” Utopian tapped a hoof on the hoof rest of his throne, and lit up his horn which caused a big glowing map of the world to appear in front of his generals. “The Wayshrines are all connected to the center of the Griffin Kingdom, in the Desert of Scorching Death. Most who have tried for the power there had been turned away by the guardians of the Wayshrines here,” Utopian said, using his magic to flatten the map out and make a three dimensional model of a small temple carved into a rocky cliff side of a wide jungle crevice, “In the Jungle of Silent Cries, This is the location of the first Wayshrine. From there we must journey to the Lake of the Four Tribes here,” Utopian continued, using his magic to change the map into another small temple in the middle of a huge lake surrounded by four incredibly large Griffins with their swords pointing upwards to the sky. “The final Wayshrine, the Peak of the Master, rests about a Day’s flight away from the Desert. It is from there that we shall capture the Elements of Harmony, and continue to make our way to the temple.” He said as the map changed a final time into a very foreboding looking mountain that appeared to be more of a volcano than anything else. “Each of the Wayshrines guard the Dagger of Sureblade, the leader of the Four kings of the Griffon Kingdom. Using the Dagger, he dispelled and destroyed Grimclaw with his fellows and divvied up the land into four equal smaller nations.” Utopian explained, as the map changed into a simple looking dagger with a blood red stone in the pommel.

“Who came up with the naming?” Crimson Heart asked, watching as Utopian chuckled a little.

“The names for all of the land based formations were chosen due to the battles that the Kings of the Four Griffin tribes waged and won against Grimclaw the Terrible.” Utopian answered. “Remember, it is just like savages to base their world completely on battle. They did not know how to coexist until Grimclaw, and they don’t know how to now.” Utopian said, watching as both Crimson Heart and Tuff Stuff steeled themselves.

“I expect that there will be some form of resistance at the Wayshrines. They’ll most likely not want anypony to take the power of Grimclaw for themselves.” Tuff Stuff reported.

“You forget Tuff Stuff, we are in a highly capable War Machine and they have rocks and sticks. They will pose no threat even if they try to put up a resistance.” Utopian said coolly. He turned to one of the zombie unicorn soldiers who was carrying a small clipboard with it’s magic. “It would seem that at our current pace, we should make it to the first Wayshrine before too long. Crimson Heart, Tuff Stuff return to your posts. I shall call for you when we arrive.” Utopian ordered, watching both ponies bow before leaving out of the doors from behind him. “It is all coming together now. Nopony can stop me, not even Princess Celestia’s precious Elements of Harmony. It will begin soon...”

-Meanwhile on the Star Blaster-

It had been a while since they had left Ponyville, but Twilight had a tiny feeling in the back of her head that something was really wrong. She had gone through a mental checklist of everything that she remembered to do before they had left, twice, but something was still troubling Celestia’s Star Student.

“I left out enough food for Spike, Owliscious and Pee-Wee to last them the whole time that we’re gone... Made sure that they would keep the Library clean until we got back... Ooh what is it?” Twilight thought worriedly, continuing to make a mental note of everything that she had forgotten to do.

“Mmmm... Twilight?” Pinkie Pie asked, waking up as she could hear the unicorns annoyed pacing. “What’s wrong?” She said, watching as the unicorn immediately stopped before turning back around again.

“I don’t know Pinkie, and that’s the problem.” Twilight whispered, trying not to wake up her other friends. “I’ve gone over everything we did this morning and there’s still something that’s making me feel that I forgot to do something... It’s aggravating.” Twilight nearly shouted, catching herself in mid sentence and looking around as none of the other ponies stirred.

“Oooh... I think I know how you feel.” Pinkie Pie answered. “Come here, and let’s see if we can get this straightened out.” She said, beckoning the Lavender unicorn over to her own personal bed. “Come on now, I won’t bite.” Pinkie Pie encouraged.

Twilight, who was feeling weirded out by the pink mare’s offer and quickly trotted over to the pink mare’s bed before sitting down. Pinkie Pie smiled, getting close to Twilight before wrapping one of her hooves her best friend’s shoulder. “So, start from the beginning.” Pinkie Pie said immediately, watching Twilight blush.

“Well... Um, okay... After both princesses left the library last night I actually couldn’t sleep too well.” Twilight began. “I was just too excited, I mean I’ve never left Equestria before and now I can, you know?”

“Yeah I know.” Pinkie Pie answered gently.

“Well I spent all of last night reading up on the history of the Griffin Kingdom, and it just so happened to mention a lot of things that could possibly go wrong with Utopian’s search for the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible. Not only that but there were several customs and traditions that we have to follow when entering their lands, plus there are creatures that we haven’t even seen in Equestria before.”

“So why are you nervous?” Pinkie Pie asked. “You seem like you’re a little excited to me.”

“Well it’s a combination of both I guess...” Twilight answered, feeling Pinkie Pie’s hoof begin to gently stroke her side. “I mean, I’m just thinking that there’s a lot of things that we don’t know about the Griffins and a lot of things that are missing and-” She stopped, watching as Pinkie Pie’s other hoof was gently planted on lips. “Pinkie... What are you doing?” Twilight asked, her heart racing a million miles a minute.

“I’m making you feel better. Shh...” Pinkie Pie crooned, drawing her best friend close to her. Twilight’s face immediately began to glow beet red as one of her best friends continued to hold her. It didn’t feel like how her mother used to hold her, which was something that seemed to be more reserved to whenever she was a foal and upset or embarrassed at something. No, this seemed to be more natural, something she hadn’t even felt when her other friends were with her, she didn’t even feel the same way when she was with her beloved mentor. No, this felt more genuine, more real.

“Come on Twilight Sparkle.” Pinkie Pie whispered, gently into the Lavender Unicorn’s ear. “Let’s make this a real party.” She said before kissing the unicorn on the cheek.

Twilight could feel all of her worries fade away, she could almost see them disappear like the aftershock of one of Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainbooms. It felt amazing, more than anything that she had ever felt in her life before. Twilight tilted her head, staring into the pink mare’s beautiful sapphire eyes. They were warm, inviting, just like a big beautiful birthday cake that was all for her and no pony else. Twilight couldn’t take it any more, she lunged at the pink mare and kissed her with everything that she had, feeling the bliss mounting as they both shared each other’s company. Their friends remained asleep, quietly unawares that both the Elements of Magic and Laughter were making out in the cabin underneath them.

They continued at it for a few minutes, coming up for air a couple of times during their session until both ponies were worn out. Twilight could feel the relaxing pull of Pinkie Pie’s sheets lull her into a sense of contentment with her pink friend, blissfully gazing into her eyes.

“Twilight...” Pinkie Pie began, seeing Twilight’s smiling face.

“Yes Pinkie?” Twilight asked.

“Are you okay?” Pinkie Pie asked, her soft and gentle voice now showing concern.

“What are you talking about?” Twilight asked, a goofy looking grin now on her face.

“You’re on the floor Twilight.” Pinkie Pie replied, sitting up and seemingly reorienting herself to make herself look farther away. Twilight couldn’t understand what was going on until there was a loud click, which caused the unicorn to shut her eyes.

When Twilight opened them, she had indeed found herself on the carpeted floor of their cabin receiving weird looks from all of her friends including Pinkie Pie. While Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were peering at her from their beds in the cabin, Fluttershy was over by the light switch while Pinkie Pie was on the floor beside her. Twilight rubbed her eyes for a moment, before looking down at a spit drenched pillow in between her hooves before blushing again.

“Looks like somepony had themselves a really good dream.” Rainbow Dash commented, watching Twilight get up from the floor.

“Yeah, Ah’ll say.” Applejack added. “What happened?” She asked, watching Twilight toss the pillow back into her bed with her magic.

“Oh... I was with...” Twilight began, trying her best to hide the fact that she had just been dreaming about making out with Pinkie Pie not ten seconds ago. “I was thinking about...”

“It’s all right Twilight, you don’t need to tell us anything.” Rarity said gently.

“Yeah, we don’t need to know something personal like that.” Rainbow Dash replied, getting settled back into her own bed.

“Thanks you guys.” Twilight replied, watching as Fluttershy clicked the lights before returning to her bed. Twilight was about to drag herself back into bed too until she felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.

“Hey, just so you know...” Pinkie Pie said as Twilight turned to her. “I liked it too.” She whispered, blushing a little before returning to her bed and leaving a very confused Twilight standing in the middle of their cabin.

-Meanwhile on the Crusader Airship-

The stars in Princess Luna’s night sky glimmered and glistened silently. Wonderwing sat alone at the airship controls, keeping everything as steady as he could for the first leg of their journey. The other crusaders were all ready tucked in and silently asleep downstairs as far as he knew, he had told them that he would take over flying the Airship for the majority of the crusade only stopping and switching to Scootaloo or Sweetie Belle when he thought it was necessary. He didn’t want to scare them all away from the task, especially when they were chasing down what was essentially a flying fortress with nothing more than a Hot-Air Balloon, but that was what they had handy at the time.

As Wonderwing let out a gentle yawn, a gentle knock rang out from the only hatch leading down into the sleeping area that the Crusaders had built into the Airship. The Pegasus turned, seeing that the hatch opened revealed to Sweetie Belle who was looking just as tired as he was. “Sweetie Belle, what are you doing up?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well, you looked like you needed somepony to talk to so I came up here to make sure that you were okay.” Sweetie Belle answered, taking a seat on the floor next to Wonderwing.

“Oh, well thanks.” Wonderwing answered. “We should be getting to the border by tomorrow afternoon, there may be four engines on this thing but it doesn’t go very fast.”

“Yeah... That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” Sweetie Belle began.

“You’re not second guessing yourself are you?” Wonderwing asked.

“No.” Sweetie Belle answered. “It’s just that there’s a lot of monsters and stuff at the border. How’re we going to get past them all?” She asked.

Wonderwing remained quiet for a few moments before looking down and grabbing one of the maps that Dinky had Spike photo copy earlier. He reached down, grabbing the map with his teeth and passed it to Sweetie Belle before staring back out into the horizon. “There are several safe routes that airships pass through everyday through the Razor Back mountains on their way to the Griffin Kingdom.” Wonderwing answered. “I haven’t had anytime to actually look at dad’s maps, but the map that you’re looking at now has the Straights of Grandeur, which is a heavy traffic area primarily used for Warships.”

“Do you think that your dad might try for the Straights then?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Well, I don’t think so.” Wonderwing answered. “What would you do if you saw a heavily armed Airship trying to enter your nation during peace time?” He asked.

“Maybe he has a way of making it not look so heavily armed?” Sweetie Belle said.

Wonderwing nodded. “Maybe, but there isn’t a way to be for sure.” He yawned again. “He’s not aligned with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna that’s for sure, so they may not start a war with the Griffons. But there’s always that chance he might.” He said, watching as the information seemed to blow past Sweetie Belle’s understanding. “Sorry he might not be a good pony, but it doesn’t mean the Griffons won’t take it out on the Princesses if he hurts them.” Sweetie Belle nodded, watching the horizon from her spot on the floor.

“How come you know so much?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“What?” Wonderwing said, misunderstanding the question.

“How come you know about the things that your dad could possibly do?” Sweetie Belle repeated, rephrasing her question. “And why do you talk like you were a grown up pony?”

“I don’t talk like a grown up pony.” Wonderwing said calmly.

“Well the way that you answered me just a little bit ago sounded like a thing a grown up pony would say.” Sweetie Belle replied. “There isn’t anything wrong with it, it’s just a little weird sometimes.”

Wonderwing nodded, listening as Sweetie Belle’s words made sense as he tried to come up with an answer. “Well, my daddy wanted me to be a unicorn ever since before I was born.” Wonderwing began, a small tear coming from out of his eye. “For some reason he wanted me to succeed him, “if his plan was gonna fail,” and that I wasn’t the right kind of pony to make him happy.”

“What’s wrong with being a pegasus?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Well my daddy had professional tutors lined up for my school so I could get ready to go to Princess Celestia’s magic school.” Wonderwing answered. “He said that it was a wasted effort after I was born, and had told all of the tutors that they, “Wouldn’t be necessary and were free to leave.” I didn’t understand that when I was younger, but when I saw that the other unicorns at school were getting a lot more attention from some of the teachers I kinda got jealous.”

“You shouldn’t be mad at who you are Wonderwing.” Sweetie Belle said, watching Wonderwing nod.

“Yeah I know.” Wonderwing answered. “But there’s something that I wanted to find out from my daddy that I never got to ask him before I left from Canterlot to Ponyville. Would he actually have loved me if I were a unicorn?”

“I don’t think that it should really matter what kind of pony you are.” Sweetie Belle replied. “Your daddy should love you even if you were a half griffon, half zebra, and half unicorn mix. You’re his son, and that’s what should really matter.”

Wonderwing laughed a little. “That would be a weird looking pony Sweetie Belle.” He said, picturing the three way fusion in his mind. The unicorn giggled a little beside him before nodding.

“Yeah that would be funny looking.” She said. “Anyways, how long until we get to where we need to go?”

Wonderwing shrugged. “I’ll check everything by the time Scootaloo trades with me in the morning. You should get some sleep. It’ll be morning soon.” Wonderwing replied, watching as Sweetie Belle nodded.

“Okay, well you don’t fall asleep on us okay?” She asked, standing up and turning to go back downstairs. Wonderwing shook his head and gave her a smile.

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” Wonderwing answered, fighting back another yawn before Sweetie Belle disappeared. As Wonderwing was sure that Sweetie Belle had safely went back down into the lower cabins, he turned back to his console. After spotting a small switch on the console labeled, “Auto Pilot,” the pegasus picked up the map and began to study it. “Sweetie Belle is right. Daddy should love me even if I’m a pegasus. He really wouldn’t hate me unless I did something wrong, would he?” He thought, looking at several of the entrance points on the map. The dull hum of the engines on their Airship were all still dutifully working based on the modifications that he had made, and the gas that he had managed to sneak out of the local party supply store was busy keeping them aloft to the untrained eye. “Now daddy... which path are you gonna take to get into the Griffin Kingdoms?” He thought, scanning the map before yawning a little, preparing for an extremely long night ahead.

-Aboard the Star Blaster, the next day-

The sight that everypony beheld was mortifying. The checkpoint that protected both Griffins and Ponies at the Shatterpoint entrance had all but been annihilated. Not a creature seemed to be spared from what appeared to be scorch marks that appeared to have been made from dragons.

“What happened here?” Twilight asked, watching the scene as the wooden remains of a house on the cliff side finally collapsed and plummeted to the ground far below.

“The whole town’s just gone...” Rarity gasped, seeing several platforms of where what she could only assume were gathering places for the local citizenry were burning underneath purple flames. She stepped back, the scent of burning
flesh meeting her nostrils before anypony else and nearly vomited on the spot. “Who ever did this revolting act of callousness must pay!”

“I have a good idea as to who.” Rainbow Dash commented. “Our good old friend Utopian, the coward that called us all out. When I get my hooves on him, I swear I’ll-”

“Easy there Dash’ we ahll know that some of yer best friends were griffons, even the non-friendly like. Jes’ calm down an’ we’ll get them back.” Applejack said, trying to calm down the livid pegasus.

“Yeah, but I know that there’s gonna be Tartarus to pay when we meet up with that sicko.” Rainbow Dash answered.

Fluttershy remained silent, her eyes doing all of her speaking as the sight of charred bodies nearly reduced her down to a crying mess. It all seemed to much for the Element of Kindness, until a gentle hoof wrapped around her shoulder.

“It’s okay Fluttershy. Trust me, we’ll make sure that this doesn’t happen again.” Pinkie Pie said, smiling calmly at the pegasus before watching her cry her eyes out into her chest. “It seems like we’re going to get some help here too. Look!” She said, watching a huge cloud of black and brown flying things could be seen from one of the front windows on the bridge. The ponies all stared, watching as the cloud transformed into a horde of very well armed, and very angry griffons came flying towards them like animals possessed.

At the front of the horde was a huge griffon, about twice the size of the others and twice as fierce looking. While the other griffons wore a mixture of spiked leather armor and scaled armor, the lead griffon appeared to have a full suit of Pegasus Steel Mail on. He gleamed in the sun like a bright star, leading the horde towards the Star Blaster before beginning to circle it a few times which caused it to come to a complete stop. As one of the Equestrian soldiers opened the door to the outside, the steel covered griffin stepped on board with several other soldiers behind them. The griffon took off his helmet and gazed fiercely at the unicorn soldiers, each looking like they were about to both fight them and run away at the same time before turning his gaze to Twilight and her friends. “You seem to have just arrived here as we have done. You do not appear to be responsible for the lives that have been lost this past night.”

“We have just arrived sir, we didn’t know what happened until we got here.” Twilight replied, blinking a little as Rainbow Dash trotted past her with her wings fully flared out. The ponies and griffins watched as she then bowed low on her hooves, lowering her wings at the same time and remaining silent.

“What in tarnation is she doin?” Applejack uttered.

“Maybe Gilda taught her something while they were at flight camp?” Pinkie Pie thought aloud.

“I see that you know how to present yourself.” The heavily armored griffin said, sounding impressed, before repeating the same process. Everypony then watched with stunned belief as both the griffin and pegasus rose together before meeting claw with hoof in a shake. “It is a wonder to see you again Rainbow Dash.” The griffon said, smiling a little.

“You’re not looking too bad yourself Prince Steel.” Rainbow Dash answered, leaping at the griffon and giving him a big hug. Ponies and griffons all relaxed a little as the two seemingly long lost friends both held the hug for a few moments before releasing each other.

“Rainbow Dash, you know this griffon?” Rarity asked skeptically, watching Rainbow Dash turn and nod to her friends.

“Do I ever?” Rainbow Dash said excitedly. “Everypony I’d like you to meet Prince Stainless Steel, son of the Griffon King of the East Riptide and my own Wing Guardian from when I was a filly in Cloudsdale.”

The other ponies remained silent for a few moments, watching only as Pinkie Pie smiled and bowed low before the Griffin Prince who nodded in her direction. The other Elements of Harmony quickly did the same thing, but still had the same puzzled looks on their faces.

“I see that your friends have a lot of questions.” Prince Steel commented. “I may have sometime to answer a few.” He said, smiling a little.

As everypony looked very nervously at each other, Pinkie Pie stepped forward, staring at the armored griffon closely. “Hello there Steely, do you mind if I call you that, how do you know Rainbow Dash, why did she Call you Stainless Steel, what’s your real name, can I-” She began very rapidly before being knocked to the floor by the pair of griffons that entered the Star Blaster with extreme force.

“Keep your tongue silent when addressing our Prince worm.” One of the guards snapped, a metallic claw over Pinkie Pie’s throat.

“You must not value your life very much, such disrespect will not be tolerated in our lands.” The other guard said, holding a claw over Pinkie’s mouth.

“Guards, release her.” Prince Steel ordered.

“But your highness, we-” One of the griffon guards began.

“If you do not release Rainbow Dash’s friend, I will have your heads. Is that clear?” Prince Steel ordered coldly, causing everypony in the airship to shudder. After a few seconds both griffons obliged the Prince’s command and released Pinkie Pie before returning to their Prince’s side.

“Whoa, Steel you’ve gotten really tough since the last time I saw you.” Rainbow Dash remarked.

“After being your Wing Guardian Dash? Of course I have to be tough. It’s how our society works after all.” Prince Steel said before turning to Pinkie Pie. “I apologize, but they’re very sensitive as to what you say around me. I’d recommend that you tread with caution the next time that you would approach me, okay?” He asked, watching as Pinkie Pie nodded. “Now, what would you like to know?”

“Well, how do you two know each other first off?” Applejack asked, watching Prince Steel closely.

“Well I can see that you don’t really trust griffons all that much. After all, we are a little bit intimidating...” Prince Steel commented before coughing a little. “Rainbow Dash and I go way back. Even to before she was able to crawl let alone fly.”

“You mean you were our Dash’s foal-sitter?” Rarity asked.

“So that’s the pony term for Wing Guardian... Interesting.” Prince Steel said calmly. “Yes, you can call it that if it makes it easier.”

The Elements of Harmony wowed at the sight as mental images of a younger Prince Steel taking care of a tinier version of Rainbow Dash filled their heads. “I was in Cloudsdale at the time by the order of my father to understand our fellow nations customs on our world. Her parents were always gone, and well... I sort of took to watching her. She was a handful let me tell you.” Prince Steel exclaimed.

“Only until you roared me into shape.” Rainbow Dash said calmly, getting looks from her friends. “What? It only happened once, and I really deserved it.” She said, watching as they all remained serious.

“Anyways, I helped her to get off of the ground, her parents helped her learn to soar.” Prince Steel said. “I didn’t want to leave her behind, but I had a mission that needed to be done so we parted ways. I heard that one of the flock there in Equestria was... Hard to handle?” He asked, watching as everypony shared nods.

“Gilda really wanted me all to herself.” Rainbow Dash explained. “She was also being too rough with my friends here, and she really got what she deserved.” She replied calmly. “I just hope that she comes back around to apologize one of these days...”

Prince Steel smiled warmly. “Don’t worry, if this Gilda is a real friend she’ll be back.” He said before turning to the other ponies. “Now you all know about me, how about I find out about you? Who are you all, and why are you here?”

Twilight stepped forward before bowing low to the griffin prince, rising only as fast as Rainbow Dash did when she presented herself. As she began her explanation, which was supplemented by Pinkie Pie’s crazy antics from behind her, Prince Steel’s expression remained firm but they all could sense that he was worried.

“This is most troubling news...” Prince Steel said darkly. “If this Utopian is allowed to reach the Wayshrines and release the barrier guarding the Valley of Despair, the entire world is in jeopardy. Your Princess was right in sending you to deal with the Unicorn, but I cannot allow you to just fly into Griffon lands so blindly.” Prince Steel said before turning around. He then proceeded to screech and growl at the two Griffon guards, who then immediately saluted with their wings before leaving the airship.

“What did he say?” Applejack asked Rarity quietly, the unicorn shrugged as she was just as lost in the message that the earth pony was.

“He told the guards to go and get some scouts from outside.” Fluttershy said quietly, causing both Rarity and Applejack to face her. “Or at least that’s what it sounded like, my griffon is extremely rusty.”

“You can speak griffon?” Rarity asked, watching Fluttershy nod a little.

“It came with Iron Will’s self help guide for free. I didn’t like the service, but I kept the book just in case I ever ran into Gilda on her mean side again.” Fluttershy said, blushing slightly.

As both the fashionista and the farmer were both impressed, they turned and began to pay close attention to Twilight and Prince Steel’s conversation again.

“In order for you to make up for lost time, you will need to cut through the shadowed pass.” Prince Steel explained. I’d recommend at as full speed as you can, because while we sit here and continue to converse Utopian gets closer to his

“You’re not coming with us Steel?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“I’m sorry little chick, but I need to return to my father and let him know of the news.” Prince Steel said calmly. “If push comes to shove, I shall meet you at the Wayshrine. Hopefully we are not too late...” He said somberly before putting his helmet back on. Prince Steel then headed towards the door to the airship, opening it a second time and leapt off, heading off in the direction that they had came from, directly ahead of them, with the other griffon soldiers.

Rainbow Dash smiled a little before turning to the Equestrian Soldiers that were still on the bridge with them. “You guys heard him, we need to go now!” She snapped, as they all began to begin working about and making themselves look busy. The airship started to move again, changing directions slightly more towards the right before picking up speed. Leaving the destroyed border town behind them, the Elements of Harmony could only look forward in their goal of catching up with Utopian.

-Meanwhile on Utopian’s ship-

“LET US OUT OF HERE!” A loud scream echoed through out the chamber. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon had found themselves inside a huge, all white room that appeared to be big enough for the Princesses’ throne room to sit comfortably inside. Diamond Tiara was on the furthest end from the only other thing in the room, an extremely large looking bed that looked like a group of ponies could carry it with at least sixteen other ponies on board easily. There were no curtains, no windows, nothing else that stood out in the room they were trapped in, and both fillies were panicking.

“Oooh when my daddy hears about what you did to me and Silver Spoon he’ll-”

“He’ll what, my dear?” A voice boomed from behind the frightened foal. Diamond Tiara turned around and gasped at the sight of the biggest looking unicorn that she had ever seen. He was bigger than even Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and had a nasty smile on his dark green face. “I asked you a question young lady. What will your daddy do to me?”

“He’s gonna wipe that smug look off of your face, when he takes everything you own in court!” Diamond Tiara said proudly, a smug look on her face. “You won’t have anything when he’s done with...” She stopped, watching the unicorn
chuckle a little. “What’s so funny?” She asked.

“Why you are my dear.” The unicorn answered. “You think that by suing me in court that your Daddy will come to save you? Bah, by the time I’m through with you, you’re father won’t matter any more.”

“Wh-Wh-What are you gonna do with us?” Silver Spoon asked from the other side of the room, wiping her eyes with a free hoof.

“Well now, I can’t tell you that now... It would ruin the surprise.” He said in a mock-sense of reassurance. “You wouldn’t want that now, would you?” He asked, watching as both foals shook their heads, trembling at the sight. “Good... Now you two be good little foals and wait here until somepony comes to get you. Oops, silly me. It’s going to be a long wait. Ehehehehe!” The unicorn said before disappearing before their eyes. Silver Spoon ran to Diamond Tiara, beginning to cry her eyes out as both foals did the same. They were both cold and scared, and didn’t know where they were.

“I wanna go home Silver Spoon...” Diamond Tiara whimpered.

“Me too...” Silver Spoon replied. “Me too...”

-Back on the Crusader Airship, several hours later-

“You guys... I don’t think that this is the Airship checkpoint...” Scootaloo said, looking through the glass at the sight of what appeared to be a warzone. The foals were all quiet, each not wanting to look at anything until Wonderwing peered out one of the windows.

“This doesn’t make any sense. What happened?” He asked aloud as none of the other Crusaders could give him an answer.

“What’re we supposed ta do now Wonderwing?” Applebloom asked, watching the pegasus closely. “We can’ jes’ walz right in there without somepony knowing who we ahr.”

“Well we don’t seem to have a choice...” Wonderwing replied. “I mean, we can explain ourselves to the griffons when they stop us as a part of a routine check but... We’re not exactly trespassing are we?”

“Well then, let’s go!” Scootaloo said excitedly. “Where to next Wonderwing?” She asked, staring at the pegasus from over her shoulder.

“Well according to the book, and the maps that my daddy left behind we should head that way.” Wonderwing said, pointing off in a left angle away from the front. “We’re gonna need to be wary though, there are constant patrols according to the maps here. Dad must have had somepony tell him what their routine schedule is, otherwise we’d be flying blind.”

“He must’ve been thinking that the griffins would have known he was a bad pony from the get go.” Dinky said quietly, watching as Scootaloo steered the airship in the instructed direction. “All sorts of bad guys have to have plans before they
do their stuff too you know.”

“But my daddy isn’t a bad guy.” Wonderwing replied quietly, looking out the window. “He wouldn’t do this to somepony, at least I don’t think so...”

“Well let’th hope you’re right Wonderwing.” Twist said, coming up from the bottom part of the airship with a small tray of food. “We need to be extra, extra careful if there’th thomething wrong with your dad.” She said before grabbing the tray with her teeth and passing it around to the other crusaders.

“Ah jes’ hope that none o’ them zombie ponies hurt Applejack.” Applebloom said, taking a hoofful of sliced apples and placing them on her lap like the other crusaders. “Because if they do, there gonna hafta answer ta me!”

“Same thing goes for me and Rarity. Those zombie ponies had better watch out if they mess with my big sister.”

“Well on another subject, what do you guys think of the roll call that Wonderwing, Twist and I came up with?” Scootaloo asked.

“You mean when you guys went to Canterlot?” Sweetie Belle asked before taking a bite from her own apple slices.

“Well, not just that but when we talked about it before we went to bed last night.” Scootaloo said.

“I think that it sounds pretty good.” Pipsqueak said after swallowing his food. “But why do you three get to say it first though? I thought that you created the Crusaders with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle?”

“I was wonderin’ that mahself. What were you thinkin’ doin’ somethin’ like that Scootaloo?” Applebloom asked.

“Well, I was...” Scootaloo said, at a loss for words.

“She was doing it for a test run!” Wonderwing immediately said. “The three of us were first because we did it first. And now that everypony’s here we can do it in the right order!” The other foals nodded quickly, smiling as the explanation satisfied them all before running it all through their minds.

“Thanks for the save Wonderwing...” Scootaloo thought.

“You owe me one Scootaloo.” Wonderwing thought, staring out at the vast expanse below them.

After their short meal, and very good one provided by Twist Applebloom and Dinky, The Crusaders all had spent their time, practicing the roll call that they had developed and having fun with it all. Every now and then one of them would scan the mountainside for any sign of griffin patrols before returning back to the action giggling and laughing as much as everypony else.

Night started to fall on the Griffon Kingdom as Scootaloo immediately relinquished control to Wonderwing, who had begun to get nervous. They hadn’t gotten out of the mountains yet where most of the soldiers in the Griffon Kingdom would be patrolling according to his father’s map and constantly scanned the skies for a sign of the troopers that could and most likely would send them back home.

After several hours of remaining alert and keeping an eye out, Wonderwing had to blink the sleep out of his eyes. Before him, as the mountains that surrounded their tiny airship had begun to descend, was the biggest forest that he had ever seen in his life. There were so many trees that he could see them stretch on for miles to come. The end of a huge chasm could be seen near where the Airship was thankfully pointing, but the immense cloud cover above the forest made it too dark even for his eyes to see anything more than the top.

“Oh wow...” Wonderwing said quietly, trying to not wake up the other crusaders. He made sure that everything could be used to keep their rest as quiet and peaceful as possible, including shutting off two of the engines so as to reduce the noise they generated. Their being on didn’t affect the airship balloon anyways, and made almost as little noise as possible during their approach. “So this is the Jungle of Silent Cries... I can see why the author was so into writing about it. If daddy didn’t write all over his book.” Wonderwing said aloud, looking back down and shining a small light onto his father’s book. The inscription was almost completely illegible, covered from top to bottom with notes and annotations that made the original work almost impossible to read. Some of the notes were things appeared to be what his father was feeling at the time while others were parts to his plans of World Domination. The same thing could be said for the other pages except the ones containing diagrams of the Wayshrines and Temple in question.

A small breeze rocked the airship as Wonderwing kept it on course, dutifully staying at the controls like he forced himself to do. He didn’t want to switch it onto auto pilot and catch a few z’s, only to wake up and be completely off course so he remained as awake as he could for the duration of his turn on the night portion of the flight. “This place is beautiful. I hope that I can come back just to see it someday...” Wonderwing thought, continuing to take in the sights.

-Meanwhile back on Utopian’s Airship-

“Excellent.” Utopian said, glaring at the projected screen in front of him. The screen, which had a view of one of the walls in the cliff side, projected a very rugged looking Temple carved into it. He could see that a pair of statues, each looking like Griffons in full battle armor and wielding spears, stood on either side of a pair of heavy wooden doors. He couldn’t tell the number of his opposition, there could be only a hoofful of solders and their could be a whole army. He didn’t dare make a move until he received confirmation that not only the first key to the Temple was there and that the Numbers of the enemy were something that was quite controllable.

“Milord. I have a status update on the temple grounds.” Crimson Heart’s voice reported, causing the unicorn to give a slight start.

“What is it Crimson Heart?” Utopian asked quickly. “Did you find the relic inside?”

“Yes milord, and it remains physically unguarded.” Crimson Heart replied. “Magically though, I can’t acquire it without alerting the guard to where I am. It’s been rigged to alert the entire complex to would-be thieves.”

“I see...” Utopian said, remaining quiet for a moment. “These animals are quite clever... They must have expected somepony to come and try something as bold as this...”

“Milord, if I may suggest something?” Crimson Heart began, causing the unicorn to emerge from his thoughts.

“What is it Crimson Heart?” He asked, feeling his patience to wear thin.

“I suggest that the soldiers set off the alarm at the same time that I do. By my eyes and Serene Grace’s magical uplink, it could overload the spell and cause it to shut down. Plus the guard could be distracted while I make my escape back to the ship.” Crimson Heart replied.

Utopian nodded, using his magic to link up with the link that was set up by Serene Grace. After studying the energy readouts that were coming from the spell that Crimson Heart was talking about he smiled. “That’s actually an excellent
Idea.” Utopian replied before breaking the magical link. “Tuff Stuff, report.” He commanded, seeing the Blue Earth Pony
appear before him as a projection.

“Yes milord?” Tuff Stuff replied.

“Prepare the pegasi. Make sure that they are ready for battle.” Utopian ordered, watching Tuff Stuff bow before him. “Crimson Heart needs a clear enough distraction to take the relic from within the temple, and we’re going to give it to him. Be ready on my command.”

“Yes sir, it shall be done.” Tuff Stuff replied before disappearing again.

Utopian calmly nodded, watching as silently the battle station alarms began to flash throughout the entire complex. He could see that most of his ship’s weapons came on line and that the hatches for his aerial squadron were all opened and in position.

“Milord, the pegasi are ready and in position.” Tuff Stuff reported calmly from one of the speakers.

“Excellent.” Utopian said again, watching as everything began to set up almost perfectly. “Crimson Heart, Tuff Stuff, Serene Grace, begin the operation. All side cannons, Open Fire.” He ordered, watching the screen closely.

As fast and as efficient as lightning, as soon as the cannons hit the walls of the Wayshrine an entire battalion of heavily armed griffons leapt out from above. Utopian could see that a monitor made sure that Crimson Heart was still alive and breathing as a horde of undead ponies, pegasi this time, met the enemy armies with deadly force.

The battle seemed to be a wicked form of entertainment for the unicorn, watching as one by one, or sometimes two by two, the griffons all fell in battle to his hordes. Some griffons may have managed to land a strike or slay two or three before going down, but six or seven seemed to take their place faster than the dead ones could fall. By the time that the griffon soldiers had realized that they were hopelessly out numbered, Utopian saw on his screen that Crimson Heart was safely aboard the airship and that some if not all of the remaining griffons were trying to retreat.

“Pull them back Serene Grace, we got what we came here for.” Utopian ordered, watching as the undead pegasi left the battlefield, some leaving half-dead griffons against the cliff side before returning to the ship. The smoke of his airship’s cannons clouded most of what he could see on the side of where the Wayshrine was, but it didn’t matter as everything happened just as he planned it to.

“Take us out of here, head to the next Wayshrine.” Utopian ordered, tapping the screen once with his hoof and causing it to vanish. He heard the door leading into the bridge open from behind him, and looked over his shoulder as Crimson Heart trotted forward with a small pouch over his shoulder. “Did you get the artifact Crimson Heart?” Utopian asked.

“Yes milord.” Crimson Heart replied after bowing, trotting over to the counter and placing the pouch onto the center console. “This is what you requested, am I not correct?” He asked, watching as Utopian used his magic to furiously open the pouch before gingerly taking a small, all black dagger’s handle and guard from within. It didn’t look like much, nothing decorated or adorned the dagger to make it look like it was something special to the normal eye, but Utopian smiled as he saw a very peculiar red gem in the center of the pommel of the dagger.

“Excellent work Crimson Heart. Rest now and prepare for our next capture, you have done well.” Utopian said, gingerly examining the bladeless dagger with his magic. “Soon... Soon this world will bow to me and only me! It will only be a matter of time now!” He thought, setting the dagger back in the pouch before settling back in his throne. His plan was all going as planned, the Elements of Harmony have already fallen into his trap and he had gotten both the necessary sacrifices and the first piece to the dagger.

-Several Hours later, onboard the Star Blaster-

“Dagnabbit, Utopian’s ahlready been here!” Applejack shouted, looking at the devastation that was left over from the night before. The sight of several injured griffons from within the temple was enough to get the blood boiling of even Fluttershy, who looked on the after affects of the scene in disgust.

“We should have gotten here faster... Maybe then we could have stopped him.” Twilight uttered as she observed the scene. She could see that several griffon soldiers were with another heavily armored griffon like Prince Steel, but they didn’t seem to be barking orders at the griffons at the temple so much as they were gently talking with them.

“We need to get them some help.” Fluttershy said determinedly, trotting over to the door only to be stopped by Rainbow Dash. “What are you doing?” She asked, watching as Rainbow Dash shook her head.

“Don’t do it Fluttershy. It’s kind of an insult if you offer help that they don’t want.” Rainbow Dash explained.

“But we can’t just sit here and do nothing!” Rarity exclaimed. “There are a lot of injured in there, and by the looks of things they all could possibly die!”

“Yes, they know that too.” Rainbow Dash answered. “Stainless Steel told me that a griffon would rather die by a plague than accept unwanted help. It’s in their code that they have ever since they were born. It’s bred into them.” She said.

“ ‘Sounds like their bein’ mighty stuck up ta me.” Applejack said coolly.

“Hey I didn’t make their rules, but I’m not going to break them. You seen the kind of armor that Stainless Steel was carrying right?” Rainbow Dash asked, watching the other ponies nod. “Now imagine that armor in black standing over you and about to execute you.” They all gulped nervously.

“They still do execution?” Twilight asked.

“That’s terrible!” Fluttershy gasped.

“It’s one of those things that they do though.” Rainbow Dash said. “Out here, there traditions are like the laws. It’s kinda why Stainless Steel showed up in the first place.”

“You sure seem to know a lot about the griffon culture Rainbow Dash. Care to explain?” Rarity said, watching the cyan pegasus blush a little.

“Okay, okay so you got me a little on the whole culture bit.” Rainbow Dash said. “It was something that I got a little into back at flight camp, before I met Fluttershy but after I met Gilda. She wouldn’t shut up about all of the traditions that she was used to back home, and I guess that some of them stuck. And when Stainless Steel found me trying to do some of them, he actually told me how to do things the right way. It was something that I thought was cool, so that’s how I know how some things work around here.” Rainbow Dash replied.

Everypony else nodded as the information seemed to make more sense in their heads. As everypony watched the horrible scene, a very old and very weary looking griffon stepped out of the temple before heading towards the airship. He was flanked by several heavily armed guards as he approached, landing on the bridge of the airship before slowly walking to the door. Several soldiers remained cautious as the door was opened, as the griffon took a step inside and looked around.

“This... This is the Star Blaster... The vessel that was summoned by Princess Celestia of Equestria to aid the Elements
of Harmony.” The old griffon said before taking a few more steps inside. Everypony followed Rainbow Dash’s lead, bowing low to the griffons before receiving a bow back from them in return.

The Elements of Harmony remained silent as the griffon looked around, as though something was missing. “Something... Something is not right, something is amiss...” The griffon said with a worried voice, looking around the bridge.

“Elder, what’s wrong?” Fluttershy heard one of the Guards say.

“The chosen foals... The ones guided by the crusader... Where are they?” He asked, looking down on the ponies worriedly.

“What chosen foals sir? What do you mean?” Twilight asked, looking up at the griffon as he shook his head somberly.

“So gifted with the arts of magic yet she does not know... Foals from your nation, proclaimers of the crusade, they are the chosen ones.” The griffon replied. “Two pegasi... Two unicorns... Three earth ponies. They share a bond... Most of them are not marked like you are. They must be here... they must put a stop to the mad unicorn...”

As soon as the griffon said this, a flock of the same heavily armored griffons landed near the Star Blaster. Rainbow Dash recognized the armor of Stainless Steel right away and watched as he was escorted in by another, much larger griffon than any of them. The Equestrian soldiers watched closely and backed away as a griffon, three times the size of a normal one wearing all black plated armor seemed to easily squeeze into the doorway of the Star Blaster’s bridge without any assistance from the griffons outside. After taking off his helmet and revealing an all golden mass of feathers that surrounded his black beak and amber eyes, he scanned the crowd of ponies and griffons as they all bowed low on their knees to him.

“Father, these are the ponies that I am talking about.” Stainless Steel explained to the gigantic Griffon. “These are the Elements of Harmony, the ones sent by Equestria’s Princess of the Sun to stop one of their own from bringing back Grimclaw.”

The giant griffon nodded in Stainless Steel’s direction before clearing his throat and staring the Elements of Harmony down. “I Am Black Wind, King of the Eastern Province of the Griffon Kingdoms and Protector of this ward of the ancients. Which one of you is known as Rainbow Dash?” He asked, watching as the ponies all looked to a cyan blue pegasus before watching her step forward.

“I-I-I am your highness...” Rainbow Dash replied, trying her best to remember all of her manners that she was taught to use in front of royalty.

“Hmm... This one is very fearful of my size is she not my son?” King Black Wind asked, watching Stainless Steel nod.

“No offense your highness, but your current size is intimidating to our nation’s guests.” Stainless Steel said, watching as King Black Wind nodded. Before anybody could say anything, the king began to glow with a dark purple aura before shrinking down to a slightly larger than normal Griffon.

“Is this better?” He asked Rainbow Dash, who still seemed to be intimidated, but appeared to be more relieved at the sight.

“Y-Y-Yes sir, I mean uh Yes your majesty.” Rainbow Dash said, getting a chuckle from the Griffon King.

“It’s quite all right Element of Loyalty, speak as you would amongst your friends. There is no need to be so nervous.” King Black Wind said, watching Rainbow Dash said, wiping the sweat from her brow and relaxing back to her normal, laid back attitude. “Now I must ask, when did you arrive at the Wayshrine of Beginnings?” He asked.

“I guess that we arrived here an hour or two after morning. We didn’t see any other airships enter or leave at all...” Rainbow Dash answered.

“Hmm... This is most troubling.” King Black Wind said quietly. “This would mean that half of the Dagger is already found, and that he seeks the other two Wayshrines...” King Black Wind thought aloud. “My son, I want you to alert the other Kings, tell the messengers to let them know that another fool has attempted and just acquired the first piece to the Dagger of Grimclaw. Fly quickly and return to me, we haven’t got much time to lose.” He ordered, watching Stainless Steel nod in response.

“Yes father.” Stainless Steel replied before leaving the airship the same way he came.

“My lord... Foals not on board... sun has not risen... Darkness claims us! Darkness claims us!” The Elder griffon said, watching King Black Wind nod in understanding.

“Your highness if I may...” Twilight began, causing King Black Wind to glare in her direction. Twilight trembled a little before backing up, what she wanted to say dying in her throat.

“You’re the Element of Magic, Twilight Sparkle.” King Black Wind said, continuing to glare at the unicorn. “From what I heard, you calmed an infant Ursa Minor and returned it to its mother... Is this true?”

Twilight, who was still scared of King Black Wind only nodded silently gulping a little as King Black Wind remained quiet.

“Rainbow Dash, you know of our customs. Please let your friends know that it is not right to be intimidated by someone who means them no harm.” King Black Wind said calmly, watching as Rainbow Dash nodded.

“Yeah you guys, he’s not gonna bite. He’s just lookin’ for the same respect that we would show Princess Celestia or Princess Luna. So relax.” Rainbow Dash said reassuringly. “He was only expecting me to speak though, and it was kinda rude that you jumped outta turn like that Twilight.” She watched as everypony calmed down before seeing King Black Wind nod.

“I apologize then your highness, I didn’t know that there was such a thing like that in your culture.” Twilight said calmly, blushing before bowing low again.

“It’s quite alright, you are all foreigners in this land. Some of our nuances may be new to you if you never really grew up around griffons before.” King Black Wind replied. “Now what is it that you wanted to ask me?”

“Well I wanted to ask...”Twilight began, feeling very nervous as she spoke, “What is he saying?” She asked,
mentioning towards the Elder griffon.

King Black Wind nodded, staring at the Elder before turning his attention to the group of ponies. “I assume that you all have never even seen a proper Seer before?” He said, watching as they all shook their heads. “I see, you all must live with charlatans or not many good ones then.” He said calmly. “Seers, true Seers, need only to touch something once before they start having visions of the future. They words they say may sound like nonsense, but it isn’t. You could say that it’s a sort of code that they speak.”

“A sort of code?” Twilight asked, watching the King nod.

“Yes young one.” King Black Wind replied. “The schools of foretelling the future have always been regarded with skepticism, especially in Equestria.” He smiled as the unicorn began to understand a little. “Here in our land, the school of divination is a widely respected art. Those with true gifts may not even realize that they have them.” He said, watching as Pinkie Pie shuddered a little.

“What does the elder mean then?” Twilight asked respectfully.

King Black Wind watched as the griffon elder turned to him, a grim look on his face before whispering what he said moments ago into his ear. King Black Wind nodded, before clearing his throat. “What the seer means is that several foals that you know may be missing from here... They seem to stop at nothing about getting their Cutie Marks I think they are called if I’m not mistaken... And they are also guided by the crusader from your lands that aided us centuries ago. But because they are not present there is something the matter with this... You are all in great danger.” He said firmly, watching as most of the Elements of Harmony shared skeptic looks.

“You don’t think he means...” Rarity uttered.

“Ah hope he don’ mean who Ah think he means...” Applejack said quietly.

King Black Wind nodded as the griffon guards asked if they could escort the griffon elder off of the Star Blaster according to Fluttershy. As the Elements of Harmony watched them escort him off, King Black Wind turned to them all. “I understand that it’s hard to trust the words of someone that you have only met for just a few minutes, but trust me when I say that you would do well to heed his words. He knows what he’s talking about.” King Black Wind said before turning to leave himself.

“Wait a minute your highness.” Twilight said, causing the King of the Griffons to stop. “What did he mean by, “Darkness claims us.”?” She asked, watching as King Black Wind give her a somber look.

“The world will end, and Utopian will win.” He said, hearing an audible gasp from everypony in the airship.

-Several Hours Later, on the Crusader Airship-

“You guys, look!” Scootaloo shouted, taking a look down in the crevice below from the Airship. The foals all looked down from the window, watching as there were still hundreds of griffons flying about the base of what they assumed was the Wayshrine. Some of them were carrying injured, others were flying supplies in to fix the place, and others still were patrolling the area. Several soldiers looked up and began to charge at their airship, but were stopped by a huge griffon in all black armor before returning back to their posts.

“Ah wonder what’s makin’ them not come after us.” Applebloom said quietly, watching as the griffons not only stopped to see them pass over head, but some even shouted and cheered at them.

“I guess they think we’re the good guys.” Sweetie Belle said, watching the griffons continue to cheer.

Down below, inside the small courtyard in the Wayshrine, the Elder Griffon sat with a smile on his face and small tears in his eyes. “The sun is rising...” He whispered happily, rocking back and forth gently. “The sun is rising... The Light Banishes the Darkness...” The griffons all were delighted and continued to shout and chant at the sight of the foal’s small airship as it passed them from over head, treating it as if it were a sign blessed by the heavens. “The golden ones watch over you Cutie Mark Crusaders. The Golden ones watch over us all.” The Elder said, watching as the other griffons continued to celebrate.

The Second Ascension Sign - Sacrifice

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Chapter 11

-The Second Ascension Sign, Sacrifice-

-Sometime later, on Utopian’s ship. In Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon’s cell-

Quick and efficient, that was how the foals needs were taken care of. If they were hungry, a plate of some very good looking food appeared on a silver platter from underneath the floor. If they needed to use the little fillies’ room, a set of walls rose out from the floor on the other side of their cell and created a complete bathroom within them. The only thing that they couldn’t get service on was to get a door to appear on the outer walls, or find something to end their ceaseless boredom.

Currently Diamond Tiara was lying on the bed, glaring at the white washed wall off to its side that she currently faced. Silver Spoon was still in the corner, and hadn’t even touched the food that was given to her for fear of it being poisoned and refused to eat even after Diamond Tiara cleaned her plate.

“I’m bored...” Diamond Tiara moaned, continuing to glare at the wall. She was met with only silence, and a few gentle sniffles from Silver Spoon as she continued to glare at the wall. “Im soooooooooooooooooo boooooooorrrrrrrrred. B O R E D.” She thought, burying her face into the mattress of the giant bed. Even the pillows that she and Silver Spoon used for a near non-existent pillow fight seemed boring to the foal as nothing seemed to cry out for her to be used to entertain herself with. “If I don’t do something fast, I may go just as crazy as that pink nut ball that helps at that lame-o sweet shop what’shername.” She said mentally before flipping over and staring at the ceiling. The design and the pattern of the fabric on the ceiling of the bed seemed to make her boredom worse, and made her sleepy on top of being bored. She groaned inwardly, trying to fight against the effects of the hypnotic looking fabric but was out faster than a light before she even got the chance to yawn.

“Wh-Where... Where am I?” Diamond Tiara asked, looking at the vast landscape before her. Everything and anything that she ever dreamed of was in one place, mountains of bits, trees that bore diamonds for fruits, even a simple river that rushed underneath her was flowing with the purest of crystal clean water.

The foal rushed forward, her greed taking the better of her as she leapt into a smallish looking mountain of coins. Unlike what someponies would have her believe the coins scattered easily, almost like a pile of leaves in the fall. This place, this wonderful place was all hers. Everything, from the fanciest of clothes and shoes to the best meals a foal could ask for were at her beck and call.

“Enjoying ourselves are we?” A gentle voice said from behind her.

Diamond Tiara snapped around faster than a comet, blinking as a beautiful pony stood before her. She wasn’t as pretty as Princess Celestia by a long shot, though Princess Celestia didn’t have diamond studded purple Butterfly wings either, but she was beautiful in her own rights. A long and elegant bright white dress flowed down from her body, obscuring what appeared to be a beautiful shimmering tail. The pony’s mane concealed the base of her horn, fluttering a little as a gentle breeze began to flow through the area. She smiled, her amber eyes full of the most warm and gentle thoughts that a Diamond Tiara could have imagined.

“Wh-Wh-Who are you?” Diamond Tiara asked, watching the beautiful pony closely.

“My name is Genesis young Filly. And this is the home of the Pony Rider.” She said.

“Pony Rider? What’s a Pony Rider?” Diamond Tiara asked. “And why do you look a lot like Princess Celestia?”

“Oh no my dear, Princess Celestia is a goddess. I am just a humble servant crafted from her image.” Genesis explained. “And you young filly are what I have been searching for. You are a Pony Rider.”

Diamond Tiara blinked, still not knowing what Genesis was talking about. She set her knife and fork down before facing the bigger pony directly. “Okay, first off my name is Diamond Tiara not young filly.” She said, watching as Genesis nodded.
“Secondly you still haven’t told me what a Pony Rider is.”

Genesis smiled, staring at the foal who was giving her a stern look. “Well, a Pony Rider is one who will defend others from evil-doers. Using the powers of the things that they believe in, they can do many things. You’re still young yet you have enough power to become the true hero that Princess Celestia wishes you to be.”

“Hero? Me?” Diamond Tiara asked. “You have got to be kidding. That kinda stuff doesn’t happen to foals, I haven’t even gotten out of Elementary school yet. How do you expect me to be a Pony Rider or whatever it’s called?”

Genesis just continued to smile, looking down on the foal with a seemingly gentle patience. “You will fulfill your role soon. My creator said that I am to awaken you to the truth, and that you are to take up arms as Equestria’s first Pony Rider. Are you prepared?” She asked, watching the foal stare nervously at her.

“You mean I’m going to have to fight somepony?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Only when it’s necessary.” Genesis answered. “And do not be afraid, your powers as a Pony Rider will protect you, just as they protect all Riders in all of Creation.” She said, her horn flashing brightly. Diamond Tiara could only shield her eyes for a brief second, watching as all around her, weird creatures that appeared to stand on two legs instead of four all surrounded her and Genesis. The one that stood close to Genesis was all green, and wore a white scarf around what she assumed was its neck. A pair of orange bug-like eyes stared at her, as it made a fist with its appendages and nodded vigorously at the foal.

Diamond Tiara couldn’t explain it, she probably wouldn’t have been able to even if she tried, but some how she could feel like she was apart of these strange beings. One by one they made the same gesture, which made her more and more confident in herself until finally she could contain the confidence in her no more.

A golden flash of energy consumed the foal. After the flash of light died down, Diamond Tiara blinked and looked herself over and nearly squealed at what she saw. Her entire body was covered in a pink suit of very comfortable and very fashionable armor. Her mane and her face was invisible from behind a helmet, which somehow was incorporated into her crown which glowed a bright pink. The eyes of the helmet looked similar to the other beings, bug-like but they were blue in color and she could see out of them. A small pink bow was worked into her tail as she swung it around almost happily.

“The transformation is complete. Welcome Pony Rider Tiara.” Genesis said, as the other beings began chanting the same thing.

“This... This feels amazing, like I can do anything!” Diamond Tiara said happily.

“Yes, but the transformation will be waiting for you as I will be back in Equestria.” Genesis said somberly.

“What? Why?” Diamond Tiara asked, watching as the suit faded away along with the strange beings.

“Because the distance away from home is too great, and a good portion of my power was stolen when I made the call to awaken your inner Pony Rider.” Genesis said. “I’m sorry that we can’t stay together, but my time grows short. I leave you now Pony Rider Tiara, with the hopes that one day we may meet again.” She said, her voice getting faint as she began to disappear.

“No! Don’t leave!” Diamond Tiara cried, running over to Genesis’ fading form and trying to grab her.

“Do not worry Diamond Tiara... I am always with you... As is the power and the fate of all riders...” Genesis said before completely disappearing, leaving Diamond Tiara alone.

“But I don’t want to be alone...” Diamond Tiara said, looking down at her hooves and beginning to cry.

She felt a gentle touch of somepony’s hoof several moments later and opened her eyes to see Silver Spoon sitting on the bed next to her. “S-S-Silver Spoon?”

“I’m here Diamond Tiara. I’m here.” She said, before being tackled by Diamond Tiara and feeling her begin to bawl in her chest. “Don’t worry... I’m going to be here. Right here for you...”

-On the Crusader Airship, Two Days after arriving at the Wayshrine of Beginnings-

The crusaders all were quiet. The Airship was almost at a dead stop, parked somewhere above the Jungle of Silent Cries as the only sounds that could be heard from down in the cabins were the sounds of things being clicked together and short fizzling noises. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle had decided to slow their approach down, not only to keep quiet from the flocks of Dragons that were said to fly over head from Wonderwing’s Dad’s book but to listen to what exactly Wonderwing was doing in the small passenger cabin they had down stairs.

“Uh, does anypony volunteer to check up on him?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching as the other foals all shook their heads nervously.

“How about you go see what he’s doing Sweetie Belle.” Scootaloo offered, turning to the unicorn.

“Now you know that Wonderwing asked us not to mess with him while he’s down there.” Sweetie Belle protested. “Why would I want to make him mad at me?”

“Will somepony just go down there and check up on him?” Pipsqueak asked. “I mean, I like Wonderwing and all but he’s messing with our weapons by himself.”

The foals all muttered and nodded, noting as they were all transformed but had their helmets off. Nopony decided to make a move however, until Applebloom stepped forward and gulped. “Ahll right, Ah’ll go down there an’ see what he’s doin in there.” She said, heading to the trap door before a, “Yes! It finally works!” Applebloom jumped back watching as the trap door flung open revealing Wonderwing from the other side with an extremely happy smile from the other side of the trapdoor. He stopped however as the other foals began to give him worried looks.

“Uh, what’s up guys?” He asked, watching as they all began to give him skeptical looks.

“Uh... Maybe the fact that you took all of our weapons and began fiddling with them for some reason that we don’t know.” Scootaloo said calmly.

“Well, there’s a reason for that. You see I listened to your stories about the Pony Rangers and how they would beat the bad guys and stuff, and I came up with something very cool. Scootaloo, could you put the airship on auto pilot and come with me and everypony else. There’s something that you all need to see.” Wonderwing said, watching as Scootaloo nodded, flipping the switch and following the other crusaders down into the deck.

After a quick explanation of what he did, and after he returned their weapons back to them, Wonderwing smiled as he saw the looks on his friends faces.

“You mean with these adjustments we can do that?” Sweetie Belle asked, holding a megaphone gently in her hooves.

“Yeah, but we need to save it for when things get really serious. I mean really serious, like we’re all in trouble serious.” Wonderwing answered.

“And when’re we gonna know that kind of trouble’s going to come after us?” Dinky asked, resting an Hourglass shaped hammer on her shoulder. “Won’t we need to use it before that kind of trouble happens?” She asked.

“It kinda defeats the purpose of a weapon of last resort Dinky.” Pipsqueak answered. “This is something we use when and only when we need it.” He said, twiddling a small pirate’s pistol in his hoof.

“Yeah, Ah sure don’ wanna make none o’ these here fights any easier...” Applebloom said in an annoyed manner, a hula hoop with a very sharp edge on the inside resting around her.

“I know this whole matter of using this as a thing of last resort may sound like a bad idea, but trust me when I say that it will be better that way than if we use it when the fight starts.” Wonderwing said confidently.

“Besides, the thing takes a while to charge up.” Scootaloo said. “We can’t wait for the thing to charge and beat bad guys at the same time now, can we?” She asked.

“No, and Ah see yer point but couldn’t yeh jes’ make it easier?” Applebloom asked.

“Like How?” Wonderwing asked.

“Ah don’ know, maybe make it come with a full charge right from the get go?” She asked.

“And how are we going to do that all the time?” Sweetie Belle asked. “We only have to generate enough energy for one shot according to Wonderwing. And we charge it by fighting with our weapons. That’s how it works.”

Applebloom nodded. “Ah know, but Ah was jes’ wonderin’ if we could make it easier ta use you know?”

“Sorry Applebloom if I couldn’t make it easier, but I didn’t want to break it or punch any holes in the airship.”
Wonderwing apologized, watching as Applebloom waved him off.

“It’s okay Wonderwing, if it don’ work that way it don’ work that way. No sense in forcin’ it to work that way if it can’t.” Applebloom said.

The foals all murmured in agreement until Wonderwing took another deep breath. “So, how do you guys feel about changing our name?” He asked.

“What?” Scootaloo snapped angrily along with the other foals with her.

“No, no... I didn’t mean it like that, I mean when we transform.” Wonderwing said calmly.

“Well what would we change it into?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Well, you can thank Dinky for this Idea as it’s a doozy. You know of the Nieghpaneze Pony Rangers right?” Wonderwing asked.

“Yeah, those guys started the Pony Rangers in Equestria.” Scootaloo answered.

“Well, what if we added just one little word to our roll call when we announce who we are? And we don’t have to do it if you guys don’t want to. I mean it’s just a thought for an idea.” Wonderwing continued.

“Well, what is it?” Dinky asked.

“What if we called ourselves, when we transformed mind you, the Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader?” Wonderwing asked, watching as the name slowly mulled over in the others minds.

“I like it. It sounds nice.” Dinky said quietly.

“What’s Sentai supposed ta mean anyways?” Applebloom asked.

“It means Squadron, or Task Force in Nieghpaneze.” Sweetie Belle answered. “This doesn’t have to do anything with
your other name does it Wonderwing?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“No, I just thought that Sentai would sound cooler when we transformed when we said who we were.” Wonderwing answered.

“Well then that’th fine. I like the thound of that word.” Twist said.

“Then we need to make it official.” Scootaloo said proudly. “A show of hooves, who all likes the old name?” She asked, seeing nopony put up their hooves. “Alright, who likes the new name? Now remember, this is for only when we transform. Only when we transform okay?” She asked, watching as everypony’s hoof shot immediately into the air and caused her to beam. “All right then it’s settled. We’re now the Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader! When we’re transformed of course.”

“Of Course!” The other foals said.

-On board Utopian’s ship, nearing the Lake of the Four Kings-

Utopian calmly trotted to his throne behind the central console. After a generous night of sleep, he felt refreshed and ready to begin the capture of the dagger blade that was in the Wayshrine of Sacrifice’s possession. A magical screen appeared from in front of him, revealing a very small, almost shack-like, hut in the center of the massive lake which was guarded by a full army of griffons.

“Milord, the locals have been alerted by our attack on the last Wayshrine, and are preparing to defend themselves.” The voice of Tuff Stuff met his ears as he and Serene Grace walked out from the same door that Utopian himself came from before kneeling in front of him. “What are your orders?” Tuff Stuff asked, causing the unicorn to nod.

“Those animals think that they can stop me do they?” Utopian asked confidently. “It’s a pity that they already have lost, especially since Crimson Heart has done his job.” He said, using his magic to pull out another pouch from the throne and revealing the blade of the Dagger. “Have the main guns target those hideous looking statues though.” He said, staring at the screen as four stone statues of very regally decorated griffons wielding swords that pointed to the heavens were all in his screen’s sights.

“You heard him. All main cannon engineers, target the statues.” Tuff Stuff repeated the orders over a small communication device in his ear.

“But how, I... How did he get past the defenses Milord?” Serene Grace asked, staring wildly at the blade.

“Apparently he didn’t appear to get enough of the thrill from the first Wayshrine.” Utopian answered. “Before I realized it, he already had the blade in his hooves and replaced it with a decoy just before we arrived.”

“B-b-b-but, h-how... He hadn’t even seen it before!” Serene Grace exclaimed.

“There’s just good and great. It depends on how you look at it.” A voice replied as a door on Utopian’s left opened. “I’m glad that you are enjoying your gift a little earlier than expected milord. Perhaps I should fetch you the Elements of Harmony now?” Crimson Heart asked, calmly trotting into the room and bowing low to the unicorn.

“No, that won’t be necessary Crimson Heart. You have done very well these past few nights.” Utopian answered as Tuff Stuff looked up.

“Milord, the cannons are primed and ready to fire.” Tuff Stuff said, watching as Utopian nodded. “Plus I am receiving reports that an Aurora class Battle cruiser has appeared on our radar and is heading towards us at a high rate of speed. They should be on us within the hour.” The pony reported, which caused Utopian to nod.

“Excellent then tell the gunners that they may fire when ready.” Utopian said, watching Tuff Stuff nod.

Outside, down by the lake the griffons watched as four extremely large and very dangerous looking cannons extended themselves from the hull of the balloon on Utopian’s airship. With a loud, ear-splitting crack and the sonic force of a nuclear explosion a house sized fireball erupted from each of the four cannons, colliding into the ancient statues and causing them to explode and fall over. The griffons, shocked in disbelief watched as the airship’s cannons remained out of the hull as the engines started moving the behemoth over across the lake.

Back on board the Airship, Utopian smiled and looked down on his three trusted advisors. “Now that’s been taken care of, on to the Mountain where the next and final stage of my plans can be put into action. All engines ahead at half power. I want the Elements of Harmony to see us, but not to catch completely up until it’s too late.”

Tuff Stuff nodded, relaying his commands to the engine room.

“Milord, I don’t mean to pry but how do you intend to capture the Elements of Harmony and sanctify the Dagger all at the same time?” Serene Grace asked.

“Ah, you see my dear that is a question that will be answered in due time. It will be answered all in due time.” He said, staring at the screen that now showed the airship that carried the Elements of Harmony following them. “Excellent, you have fallen into my web just like the fly to the spider. Foals, you will all soon bring me to god hood!”

-On board the Star Blaster-

“There’s the destruction,” Twilight said, seeing rubble where the statues of the four griffon kings used to be. “And there’s Utopian’s airship!” She exclaimed, which caused her friends to look at the gigantic gray mass that was already across the other side of the lake.

“Utopian, you’re gonna get it...” Rainbow Dash said darkly, glaring at the mass with her friends.

“This is little more than being just a ruthless barbarian! How can you destroy history like that?” Rarity asked aloud as she continued to see the griffons mourning over the fallen statues.

“Ah hope fer’ his sake he comes quietly.” Applejack said coldly. “Somepony must’ve not taught him no manners.”

“That was a mean thing to do, blowing up there statues.” Pinkie Pie said, doing her best to imitate a fierce voice. “I mean he wouldn’t like it if we went to his house and broke his stuff now, would he?” She asked.

“Let’s just get this guy and be done with it.” Rainbow Dash asked, turning to Fluttershy who was saying something in griffin. “Hey Fluttershy, what’s the matter?” Rainbow Dash asked, watching as a small tear dropped from her face.

“O-Oh me? N-Nothing.” Fluttershy lied. “Let’s get him and stop him from doing any more bad things.” She said, getting a shake of a head from Rainbow Dash.

“You need to work on that ferocity Fluttershy...” Rainbow Dash said, shaking her head as the Star Blaster crossed the lake.

-On the Crusader Airship-

“This is the Lake of the Four Griffon Kings?” Dinky asked, looking at the rubble from the leftovers of Utopian’s assault.

“There were supposed to be statues of the Ancient Four Kings here... It’s not looking too good for your dad Wonderwing.” Scootaloo said, watching Wonderwing nod.

“Yeah, but I know that there’s a good pony somewhere inside of him.” Wonderwing said with not as much confidence as the others. “Hopefully we can get to the last Wayshrine and convince him before he does something really bad... And it becomes too late for him...” He said, watching as the other foals nodded.

“Well at least there’s some good news.” Scootaloo said, smiling a little.

“What?” The foals all asked.

“We’re finally catching up to Twilight and the others, look!” Scootaloo said, pointing out the shape of the Star Blaster from the other side of the lake. The foals all cheered as Wonderwing continued to steer the Airship in that direction, determined to reach his father before Twilight and her friends did.

“Hang on daddy... Hang on...”

The Final Ascension Sign - Power

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Chapter 12

-The Final Ascension Sign, Power-

-Aboard the Star Blaster, two days after leaving the Lake of the Four Kings

“It doesn’t seem like we’re getting any closer...” Rarity commented, seeing the giant gray mass that was Utopian’s Airship directly ahead of them.

“Yeah, Can’t this thing fly any faster?” Rainbow Dash snorted. “I could get us over there and back in ten seconds, easy.”

“And how would ya’ like ya’lls wings done up, baked or extra crispy?” Applejack mused as Rainbow Dash rounded on her.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Rainbow Dash snapped.

“That’s supposed ta mean that there Airship o’ Utopian’s is ahrmed to the teeth.” Applejack said calmly. “Ah don’ mean ta doubt yer fancy flyin’ Dash, but there’s more o’ them guns on that ship then there are o’ you.”

“Uh hello? Paging Applejack, your forgetting one little detail.” Rainbow Dash said, causing the cowpony to raise an eyebrow. “I’m the fastest flyer in all of Equestria, I can get us there through whatever the psycho can throw at me.”

“There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance Rainbow Dash.” Rarity commented. “And as it were, the look of being blackened and singed is not very fashionable.”

Rainbow Dash fumed at Rarity and Applejack before feeling a gentle hoof on her shoulder. She turned, seeing Pinkie Pie smile at her, and calmed down before saying something worse.

“It’s okay Dashie.” Pinkie Pie said. “Maybe you’ll get to try some death defying cannon run like that in somepony else’s story.”

Rainbow Dash remained silent, reminding herself not to pay Pinkie Pie any heed when she started to not make sense, before turning to Twilight who was steering at the helm. “So what’s the deal Twilight? Why aren’t we gaining on them?”

The other ponies looked to Twilight, who was completely red in the face as she returned to the front of the small bridge that her friends were standing at. “The helmsman said that he has his orders. He said that because Utopian’s Airship is so heavily outfitted, if we do attempt to get closer we could be in danger.” She answered watching the mixed reactions ranging from pure terror from Fluttershy to a loud and annoyed groan from Rainbow Dash.

“So what your saying is that our hooves are currently tied.” Rarity said calmly, watching Twilight nod. “This doesn’t sound good.”

“Of course it doesn’t sound good!” Rainbow Dash snapped, stamping one of her hooves on the floor. “While we sit here and wait for it to be safe, the bad guy’s gonna get away! What kinda sense does that make?”

“The sense that if you don’t want to get hurt, possibly even killed, you’ll stay put.” Rarity said calmly, glaring at Rainbow Dash. “The Elements of Harmony can’t exist if the Element of Loyalty, which is you Rainbow Dash, is killed because you wanted to rush things.”

“Yeah but-”

“Besides, if you get hurt then all of your fans would be really really unhappy!” Pinkie Pie said, cutting Rainbow Dash
off. “You know how many apology cards and cupcakes that I would have to make just to say that the author is sorry?(Not those Cupcakes you guys. I don’t swing things that way.) Trust me, the cakes would go out of business if that happened. And then the whole universe would explode.”

Everypony fell silent and said nothing at the pseudo-crazy mare. After essentially a few moments of trying to remotely understand what she was even talking about, one of the doors that led out of the bridge flung open. They all turned as another pony, wearing a bright red airship officer’s jacket(Which Pinkie Pie uttered, “Dead Stallion walking...”) and sporting an Equestrian Naval Officer’s hat. The Stallion, whose possibilities of being a pegasus or a unicorn were obscured by the jacket and the hat, trotted over to where Twilight and her friends stood before eyeing them.

“So... am I to understand that just because you’re the six chosen mares means that you can not only invite Griffon Royalty and one of their Seers on board my ship without so much as letting me know what’s going on? But now you’re trying to order my Stallions and Mares around?” He asked, trying and failing miserably to intimidate them all.

“A little late to the party there buddy, you just missed out on everything...” Pinkie Pie uttered.

“I’m sorry sir, but we we’re just discussing-”

“You will address me as Captain Ironside, and only as Captain Ironside.” The Stallion snorted, cutting Twilight off.

“I apologize, Captain Ironside but we were just discussing-”

“I don’t care what you were just discussing Miss Sparkle.” Captain Ironside snapped, once again cutting Twilight off. “My orders are law, and anypony who decides to break them will be thrown off of my ship. Is that clear?”

“What’s eating this guy?” Rainbow Dash whispered.

“Ah don’ know, but he’s startin ta git on mah nerves.” Applejack answered.

“Yes Captain Ironside.” Twilight answered, looking over her shoulder as her friends nodded all at once. Captain Ironside then nodded curtly before turning and trotting towards the pony at the helm.

“Helmsmare, report.” Captain Ironside barked, causing the unicorn mare to jump.

“U-uh yes Captain, engines are still running at half as ordered and fuel consumption is acting as scheduled.” The
Helmsmare reported.

“Radio Officer, what is the weapon load out on the target?” Captain Ironside asked.

Another pony, this time a pegasus stallion turned from his station on the left-most side of the bridge. “Captain, they’re a mobile gun platform.” He answered.

“I can see that from here.” Captain Ironside snapped.

“W-W-Well from the load out I’m getting, the enemy vessel has four forward facing seventeen inch cannons built into the carapace that keeps their vessel’s balloon shielded, and has at least six ten inch cannons on either side. The gondola itself is covered in at least fifty separate eight inch gun sets, each set like Gatling guns.”

The news seemed to disturb Captain Ironside, and Pinkie Pie at the same time though their initial thoughts were completely different. “Those kind of weapons aren’t even armed on a Trinity Class Destroyer from the Ram Empire...” Captain Ironside said quietly.

“It seems like Utopian’s trying to compensate for something...” Pinkie Pie thought, watching Captain Ironside closely. The captain remained silent, appearing to try and think of a way to take control of a situation that he appeared to have no control over.

“Helmsmare, remain current distance away from target.” Captain Ironside commanded, hearing an audible, “What?” from Rainbow Dash. “All soldiers stay on high alert, until we know what his intentions are exactly we do not engage him.”

“His intentions are to take over the entire bucking world for Faust’s sake!” Rainbow Dash snapped. “And you’re saying that we’re not going to fight him? What are you a stallion or a sheep?”

“I will not endanger the lives of any of the soldiers on board my ship Miss Dash.” Captain Ironside said coldly. “Now I suggest that you and your little pals get off of my Bridge before I do something that will make you regret that you were even born.”

Rainbow Dash prepared to snap something else at Captain Ironside, but was held back by Applejack. One by one the Elements of Harmony quietly filed out of the Bridge, each of them glaring once at Captain Ironside, before leaving the Captain on board. He smiled deviously, staring at Utopian’s airship before nodding. “Errant fools...” He thought before beginning to shout more orders at somepony else.

-Meanwhile on board the Crusader Airship-

“Why aren’t we actually moving so fast again?” Scootaloo moaned. It had seemed only for a moment that the crusaders had caught up to the Star Blaster at least before they had stopped completely.

“Fer tha’ las’ time Scootaloo,” Applebloom began, glaring at the pegasus, “Ahr airship’s generator ran outta power. Without power, we cain’t go nowhere.”

Scootaloo moaned before turning around to face the front. They were right on the airship that Rainbow Dash and her friends were riding right now, and could make out a gigantic gray blob way in front of them, but now they were stopped and their only chance for catching up was quickly disappearing.

“Well at least Dinky and Sweetie Belle are on it.” Pipsqueak said hopefully. “Twilight charged it for us the first time and it lasted a really long while, but now we have to do it ourselves.”

“How did we convince her to charge our crystal generator so easily though?” Scootaloo wondered. “I mean, it’s not like she isn’t smart or anything she did ask a lot of questions.”

“We told her that it was for the Science Fair during school remember?” Applebloom replied. “When Wonderwing asked if we had one of them chargin’ crystal thingies, Ah remembered what it was and we got it from Sweetie Belle’s stash.”

The foals all nodded, before hearing a gentle bang from underneath them. As the trap door to the lower cabin opened up Wonderwing, Sweetie Belle, and Dinky all clambered up as best as they could. As the other crusaders helped them up,
Sweetie Belle flopped on the floor in between Applebloom and her seats. “Let’s not do that again.” Sweetie Belle said,
groaning a little.

“Yeah, my horn hurts.” Dinky moaned, clutching her horn with her hooves.

“Sorry guys, but we needed a charged crystal.” Wonderwing apologized, flipping several switches on their hoof made console and smiling as the engines roared to life again. “We’re back in business. And we can start making up all of that lost ground.” He said, watching as they all gave a mixed cheer.

“Hey uh Wonderwing, I was wondering...” Pipsqueak began.

“Yeah?” Wonderwing asked, looking over his shoulder at Pipsqueak.

“Well, you sure do know a lot of stuff and can do a lot of things. More things than any of us can, I was wondering if your Cutie Mark had something to do with that?” He asked.

“Well, I dunno... Maybe?” Wonderwing said, remaining quiet.

“Well you helped us work on our Airship for our airship pilot Cutie Marks, even though only you and Scootaloo get to fly it.” Pipsqueak said calmly, a sly grin appearing on his face. “Do you like Scootaloo?”

“Pipsqueak I know where you’re going with this, so don’t even start.” Scootaloo snapped. “We’re all friends here, right?”

“Yeah, but Pipsqueak does have a point though.” Sweetie Belle said. “Why don’t we all take turns on flying?”

Wonderwing paused for a moment and blinked. The way they had things set up wasn’t fair at all. They all should have gotten a chance to earn their airship Cutie Marks too. He smiled before turning to the other crusaders. “All right, who wants
a turn?” He asked, watching several hooves shoot up into the air.

-Later that evening-

The results of the other Crusaders trying to earn their Airship Pilot Cutie Marks were interesting to say the least. While Twist sat quietly and watched, encouraging each of the crusaders as they had a turn at the controls, some of them were never meant to fly an airship in the first place.

Sweetie Belle was up first, and even though she did all right the sounds of the other crusaders kept distracting her. Not to mention that she nearly flew them into a mountain that wasn’t on the map that they had. She was so shaken that she didn’t envy the next of them that wanted to try.

Applebloom was next, and was about as good as Sweetie Belle could have been. The controls of their console confused her though, and caused her to give up a few minutes after her turn started saying that she, “Didn’ need ta learn any o’ them fancy whatchamacallits anyways.”

Dinky was ready and eager to go by the time her turn was called for, but maybe a little too eager. Beyond any rhyme or reason as to why, the little unicorn foal had somehow not only caused their airship to perform a perfect barrel roll, but she had also nearly caused them to start heading back the way they came.

When Pipsqueak came up to the controls, he seemed to be a natural for it and understood what most of them were for. He wasn’t exactly a bad pilot, though he had one too many close encounters with mountain peaks as the Crusader Airship entered a mountain range that was listed in Wonderwing’s father’s book as the Cinderclaw Heights.

“Well now that was a bust...” Pipsqueak said, looking down on his flank and seeing nothing there with everypony else.

“Aww come on you guyth, why don’t we try thomething elthe to get your Cutie Markth?” Twist asked.

“Well... There is the possibility of being Cutie Mark Crusader Super Heroes.” Scootaloo said.

“Yeah, but we need some kind of bad pony to stop from endangering the world though.” Dinky said, getting looks from
everypony. “Oh. We’re doing that now!”

“Well not totally.” Wonderwing said, watching as the foals’ faces fell slightly. “But we can still be Cutie Mark Crusaders Super Heroes if you guys want.” The response was met with an extremely loud battle cry.


-On board Utopian’s Warship, on the approach to the Peak of the Master-

Utopian remained silent, sitting calmly on his throne as his warship began to raise to meet the elevation of the Final Wayshrine. The final piece of his plan rested at the top of this mountain, remaining relatively unguarded by the griffons that would be there. That much he remembered.

“Milord, the warship is almost in place. The troops are ready to move out, and the sleeper agent is ready for the capture.” Tuff Stuff reported, bowing low before Utopian.

“I see... And what of you Serene Grace, are your troops prepared as well?” Utopian asked, receiving a nod in his direction.

“All of the unicorn soldiers are readying now as we speak.” She answered. “The bugs that were in the system from when the first one fell have been fixed, and make them nearly impossible to defeat by conventional means. All Earth Pony Troopers also await your commands.”

Utopian nodded at the sound of the news before casting a glance at Crimson Heart. “I see that you are anxious to get started Crimson Heart.”

“Yes milord.” Crimson Heart replied. “I apologize for looking so anxious.” He said.

Utopian shook his head. “There is nothing to worry about. All will go according to plan, and everything will be ready for
my ascension into my rightful place as a god. I am counting on you three to have your troops ready to protect me when I get to the Wayshrine, the process of sanctifying the Dagger is a very delicate one and I must require complete concentration for it. Is this quite clear?”

“Yes milord.” Utopian’s three henchmares said at the same time.

“Excellent.” He said before rising from his throne. “I shall be readying myself, do not let anything change until we are ready to begin.” And with that, Utopian left the bridge and his three generals standing alone.

“Keep your heads about yourselves.” Tuff Stuff warned, garnering the attention of his fellows. “The Elements of Harmony may look innocent, but they will fight for what they believe in. Do not make the mistake of underestimating them.”

“Don’t worry yourself Tuff Stuff.” Serene Grace said confidently. “The Elements of Harmony stand no chance to our might.”

“Those are the signs of an amateur.” Crimson Heart scoffed. “They have Princess Celestia’s personal protégé along with the pony that single-hoofedly saved the Wonderbolts and one of her own at the Equestria’s Best Young Flyers competition.”

“You think that I underestimate children?” Serene Grace snapped.

“No, I think that you overestimate your own abilities.” Crimson Heart corrected, causing Serene Grace’s face to blush red with anger.

“Why I-”

“Serene Grace, Crimson Heart be silent. Or I’ll make you silent myself.” Tuff Stuff snapped, causing both ponies to stop arguing. “We need to be at our best, so both of you make last preparations now. I do not want to know that our Lord Utopian was captured because of your errant mistakes.”

“And what about you Tuff Stuff?” Crimson Heart asked. “What are you gonna do?”

“I’m going to do the same thing, so as to better prepare myself.” He answered curtly before leaving the bridge. Both Serene Grace and Crimson Heart shared a look before following him, leaving the bridge quiet once again.

-On Board the Star Blaster-

“What are you talking about Pinkie?” Rarity asked, looking at the pink mare nervously.

“I told you already, there’s something not ha-ha funny going on around here.” Pinkie Pie answered. “Captain Ironside
is a super scary zombie pony who works for that big mean meanie pony Utopian!”

“And you can prove this how?” Twilight asked, still remaining skeptical.

“Well, when at all in the past couple of days did we meet this guy?” Pinkie asked, looking at her friends. They were all sitting around a small table in their cabin discussing the way that Captain Ironside had spoken to them, and none of them
were taking it very well at all. “We haven’t met him at all before today, and wouldn’t a Captain of a ship introduce himself to
those that would board his ship?”

“Well, that makes sense... But what if he was busy down on the other end of the ship when Prince Steel and King Black Wind showed up?” Twilight replied.

“It shouldn’t matter.” Rarity replied. “A captain should at least show some common decency to address guests that are on board his ship.”

“Yeah, and the guy’s attitude was completely sketchy. I didn’t like him.” Rainbow Dash snapped.

“That’s because his orders were there to keep you safe. That’s why we’re still here.” Twilight replied.

“Ah’m startin’ ta suspect that somethin’s up.” Applejack replied. “Ah mean, shouldn’t we have seen the Captain before we left Equestria?” She asked watching the others nod.

“I think that it’s high time somepony went up there and-” Rainbow Dash snapped, being cut off by a short bang that shook the Star Blaster. “What in the hay was that?” She asked.

Nopony answered, but scrambled to grab onto something secure as the Star Blaster shook a second time. The red alert siren began to blare, which caused them all to immediately cover their ears with their hooves at the sound.

“W-W-W-What’s g-g-going on?” Fluttershy shouted over the alarm.

“It means that we’re under attack!” Pinkie Pie answered just as the Star Blaster shook again, only a lot more violently this time.

“I’m gonna see what the hay’s goin on around here.” Rainbow Dash snapped, taking off and leaving the cabin before they could say anything. They all cast a glance at each other before chasing after Rainbow Dash, with Fluttershy hesitating
a little before following suit.

-On the Bridge of Utopian’s Warship-

“Milord, we have begun to shell the Star Blaster as you have ordered.” Tuff Stuff reported, surveying the battle map that displayed on a screen in front of him. A three dimensional model of the Star Blaster, plus all of the awaiting forces at the summit of the mountain, glowed in front of the Earth Pony’s face as he continued to give the orders to fire.

“Have you received any information that the Elements of Harmony are together?” Utopian asked over a speaker.

“Milord, the informant has not reported back to me just yet.” Tuff Stuff reported. “I shall let you know personally when I receive conformation.” He said.

“Well then, maintain the assault. Do not shoot down the Star Blaster until you received word that they are all together.” Utopian ordered.

“Yes milord.” Tuff Stuff replied before looking up at another screen. He blinked a couple of times, checking to make sure that his eyesight wasn’t going out on him, as the screen read out the form of another Airship approaching the summit
of the mountain. “Another airship? Could it be that our intelligence was off?” He thought nervously. “No, it’s too small to be a threat... but I will have the guns on standby in case that they try anything.” The earth pony thought before touching the intercom button. “Rear Cannons, there is another passing airship in the area, do not fire on it unless provoked.” He ordered, hearing a long groan drowned out from the other end of the intercom. “Now let’s see these Elements of Harmony
in action by themselves.”

-Back on the Star Blaster-

The sight of what was left of the ponies on the bridge was horrifying. Scorch marks and scars ran rampant across the floors and walls of the bridge while blood was stained and smeared all over the room. Nearly all of them wanted to lose their lunch, and almost did at the sight of a disemboweled soldier laying on the floor dead next to them, but the sight of Captain Ironside was horrifying in itself.

The captain was kneeling over the dead form of what was once the Helmsmare. The pour soul appeared to have been split in half, and as the captain rose from his handy work, one half of the Helmsmare’s body was completely missing. Captain Ironside turned towards the group of six, the end of a white hoof sticking out of his mouth, and grinned almost psychotically at them all.

“What... What is... Why?” Twilight began, ducking as Rainbow Dash leapt at the deranged stallion.

“All right sicko, you’re going down right here, right now!” She shouted, reeling back one of her front hooves as if to punch the stallion only to get blasted in the face by a ray of red magic.

“Rainbow Dash! Are you okay?” Twilight asked, running over to her and deflecting another spell launched from the monster that was in front of them.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Rainbow Dash snapped, watching as both Applejack and Pinkie Pie leapt at the Captain and forced him against the Airship’s steering wheel. “Or at least I will be when I end this no good walking piece of monster a-”

“We get it Dashie, you want him dead as much as we do.” Pinkie Pie said as Twilight, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy trotted over to the psycho pony without actually getting close to him.

“All right first question, who are you?” Twilight snapped before getting spit in the face. She didn’t even cringe a little as both Rainbow Dash and Applejack smashed their hooves right into the Captain’s gut.

“Ah wouldn’t try that again if I was you.” Applejack said darkly.

“Yeah, the next one goes in between your eyes.” Rainbow Dash threatened.

“Your threats won’t work on me.” Captain Ironside said coolly. “I am already dead, as will you all be when my Lord Utopian is through with you.”

“Whatever are you talking about worm?” Rarity snapped.

“Oh, why you are all extra special guest at my master’s ascension ceremony. And he has specifically asked that you all are to attend.” Captain Ironside said.

“Sorry, but I don’t wanna go to a party that’s being hosted by some pony like Utopian.” Pinkie Pie said darkly, causing her friends to gasp at her direction. “What? It just wouldn’t feel right.” She said.

“Oh, but I insist.” Captain Ironside said with a wicked smile “Especially when transportation is being provided for you.”

“T-T-Transportation? What are you talking about?” Fluttershy peeped.

“Why, my master’s airship of course. Tuff Stuff, will you take it away please?” Captain Ironside asked to nopony in particular.

-Back on Utopian’s Warship-

Tuff Stuff smiled as Ironside’s message came through loud and clear. “All rear guns targeting the Star Blaster, Open fire.” He commanded.

-Back on the Star Blaster-

Everypony remained silent for a few moments, the bridge going so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Then immediately, all hell broke loose. Captain Ironside began laughing as several explosions caused the Star Blaster to shake violently, causing everypony to scatter and fall to the floor. Several more explosions rang out through the body of the ship until everything that wasn’t tied down to the bridge began to free-fall.

“What’s going on?” Rarity exclaimed, her voice nearly drowned out by the sounds of every alarm going off in the airship.

“The blimp’s been busted!” Pinkie Pie shouted.

“What?” Everyone else replied.

“WE’RE GOING DOWN!” The Pink mare replied, watching as Twilight’s horn began to light up.

“EVERYPONY, GET AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN TO ME!” She shouted, concentrating all of the magic in her horn that
she could. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy did their best to help their non-winged friends get close to the unicorn, and just before they heard a loud smash they were engulfed in a bright white light that was expelled from Twilight’s horn.

-On the Crusader Airship-

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Sweetie Belle and Applebloom cried, watching as the events above the mountain’s summit unfold. They watched as at least twenty to thirty balls of flame erupted from the back of Utopian’s Airship and struck the Star Blaster with near lethal force. The cruiser that carried their siblings then dropped like a flaming rock, slamming into the mountainside moments before a flash of white light could be seen from the inside of the carriage of the smoking wreck.

As both foals began to cry, Twist had to blink as a blinding flash of light erupted on the summit of the mountain. “You guyth, look!” She exclaimed, pointing with her hoof at the sight. They all watched as Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy all appeared where the flash of light was only moments ago, shaken but otherwise unhurt.

“Ah know who cast that spell ta git them outta there.” Applebloom commented. “And we need to git them outta there too. Look!” She exclaimed, pointing higher up the mountain.

“I don’t like the looks of that.” Scootaloo said, looking down at the mountain from where she stood and watched as a mass of at least a thousand undead ponies descended from the top of the mountain leaded by a unicorn and a pegasus.

“I’m dropping anchor and killing power.” Wonderwing reported, flipping several switches at once. The airship began to descend, just as several loud hisses could be heard from below. The airship fell down several yards just as the foals held on, before settling down on the base of the summit. “Scootaloo, wanna lead us off?” Wonderwing asked, watching the pegasus closely.

“What are you talking about?” Scootaloo asked.

“Well, we are like the Pony Rangers and the Red Ranger always leads the team don’t they?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Well, yeah but we do it together though.” Scootaloo said calmly.

“Don’t worry Scoots, we gotcha.” Applebloom said, receiving a shove from Scootaloo.

“Please don’t call me that Applebloom.” Scootaloo said as Wonderwing galloped over to the door and opened it. A cold wind began to gust from inside the Airship, which forced Wonderwing to close the door again. “What’s wrong?” Scootaloo asked.

“It’s cold out there, plus were at the edge of the summit.” Wonderwing replied. “If one of us lands on the wrong side, it could mean the end of us.”

“Well then let’s just steer the airship the other way, and change in here.” Pipsqueak replied. “It’s a simple solution.” He said, watching as Wonderwing nodded.

“Right.” Wonderwing said before running to the pilot’s seat and beginning to steer it to face the right way. After cranking the wheel hard, and getting it facing the proper side he nodded towards Scootaloo who gulped nervously.

“A-A-All right.” Scootaloo said, before shaking herself back into her confidence. “You guys ready?” She asked.

“Ready!” The other crusaders replied.

-Meanwhile on the Summit of the Peak of the Master-

“Are you guys okay?” Twilight asked, staggering to her hooves.

“Ah’m fine.” Applejack replied, getting to her hooves quickly. “Though I feel like mah insides are all mussed up from
that spell.” She said.

“I could do with a bath.” Rarity answered, her face mane and a good portion of her covered in the blood of Equestrian Soldiers. “I’m glad that nightmare is over.”

“Yeah, we’re gonna need to clean up before anything else. And maybe go home...” Fluttershy uttered.

“After what that creep did to us?” Rainbow Dash snapped. “No, I won’t be satisfied until we send that jerk to the moon.”

“You know we can’t do that Dashie. Besides, we’ve got company.” Pinkie Pie replied, pointing at the massive army of
undead ponies that approached.

The hordes seemed to take an appearance similar to the ones that showed up during the summer fair. They all however wore dark purple and black suits that covered their black bones, and wore white face masks that seemed completely blank save for the red eyes that each of them had. They were all being led a brown pegasus stallion with a pale red mane and tail, and a tall unicorn mare with a pale blue mane and tail. Both of their eyes were cold and malicious, but as they approached, they seemed a lot less menacing than what met the eye.

“So, are these the targets?” The pegasus asked, glaring at Twilight and her friends.

“It would appear so.” The unicorn answered, causing the pegasus to nod.

“All right then, soldiers, take them.” The pegasus ordered, only to stop as the unicorn raised a hoof.

“Pardon my compatriot here, but he doesn’t know the proper etiquette when taking hostages.” The unicorn apologized. “I am Serene Grace and this is my partner Crimson Heart. We are servants to our Lord Utopian and humbly request that you surrender yourselves to us.”

“There’s etiquette to taking hostages?” Rainbow Dash asked, turning to Rarity who shrugged.

“Sorry missy, but Ah ain’t goin nowhere ‘cept where Ah came from with yer boss in chains.” Applejack snapped, getting
in an aggressive stance. Serene Grace shook her head.

“I tried to do things the polite way. But you leave us with no other choice.” Serene Grace said coldly. “Soldiers, take them but do not kill them.” She said, remaining still as the army of undead charged at Twilight and her friends.

As the six mares readied themselves for battle, several blasts of energy rocketed towards the group of where they were standing and punched several holes in their charge. Everypony turned and saw as seven foals all stood, each wielding a unique weapon, wearing uniquely colored jumpsuits and helmets with capes to boot. Serene Grace glared, before taking several steps towards them as the pegasus in black lowered his shield.

“Oh great, there’s more of them.” She groaned.

The pegasus foal in the center slashed her extremely long saber once before resting it on her shoulder. “Red Pegasus Crusader!” She cried, shocking Twilight and her friends.

The unicorn on her right twirled a megaphone in one of her hooves before making like she was flicking a bang from her mane out of her face. “Blue Unicorn Crusader!” She cried, which startled Rarity.

The earth pony that was on the first pegasi’s left twirled a loopdy hoop around one of her front hooves before dropping to the ground and twirling it around her waist. “Yellow Earth Pony Crusader!” Mentally, Applejack trembled at the sight.

The other unicorn on the earth pony’s left swung her hammer a little before resting it in the snow and waving at the crowd of undead. “Pink Unicorn Crusader!”

The second earth pony began twirling her dangerous looking hooked weapons around before catching it flawlessly with her other hoof and posing. “White Earth Pony Cruthader!” She cried.

Down on the left end, the second pegasus bowed low before taking an aggressive stance at the crowd. “Black Pegasus Crusader!” He shouted.

On his opposing end the last of the bunch, a pony that looked more like a pirate than any of them, twirled his gun around before running it across the dull end of the small cutlass he carried. “Brown Pirate Crusader!” He cried.

“We are the Cutie Mark Sentai-” The pegasus began as everypony watched them strike a pose.

“CRUSADER!” They all shouted, staggering a little as several small explosions erupted behind them in their own colors.

Serene Grace rolled her eyes before turning to Crimson Heart. “You deal with the Elements of Harmony. I’ll put these foals to bed personally.” She said, turning back around as the foals charged. “Come and get me fools.”

Crimson Heart nodded, waving at the undead ponies to follow him as he flew at Twilight and her friends. The mares were still recovering from the sight of the foals that they were immediately set upon by the undead hordes. They all began to scatter, trying to either fight or escape as best as they could depending on the choice that they made on that second.

Rainbow Dash leapt at the incoming undead attackers like a beast from Tartarus. Skillfully she smashed three of them before leaping into the air and watching as two zombies hit each other with their own attacks. She turned, seeing that Crimson Heart was flying at her and immediately dove at him, nearly performing a Sonic Rainboom as she did so, and met the crazed pegasus half way. She and Crimson Heart traded blows, punching and bucking each other until Crimson Heart buried his right hoof into Rainbow Dash’s stomach and knocking the wind out of her. The cyan pegasus fell to the ground, in less than ten seconds, but was caught by Crimson Heart who immediately slapped metallic cuffs on her.

“Hang on Rainbow Dash, I’m Coming!” Scootaloo cried, charging at the horde of undead only to be met with Serene Grace.

“You’ll have to get through me first. En garde!” She snapped, firing several blasts of magic at the foal which knocked her back. Scootaloo charged her a second time, followed by both Dinky and Twist who immediately struck the unicorn only causing her to disappear. “I’m right here foals.” She said coldly, firing several more blasts of magic at the three crusaders which sent them flying.

“Scootaloo, Dinky, Twist!” Sweetie Belle shouted, rushing at the unicorn as her friends landed on their backs. Pushing the button on her megaphone and taking a deep breath, Sweetie Belle roared into it, causing a blast of blue energy to
erupt and slam into an extremely strong shield that Serene Grace had erected just in time. The older unicorn just smiled, pointing in the direction of the battle that her older sister was participating in as Rarity was knocked several feet backwards before receiving the same hoof cuffs that Rainbow Dash did. “NO RARITY!” Sweetie Belle cried, beginning to run over to her sister only to be intercepted by Serene Grace.

“Uh uh uh.” The older unicorn taunted. “You know that you foals aren’t allowed in a big pony’s fight.” She said, preparing a blast of energy at Sweetie Belle. She lost her concentration however as her face was met with Applebloom’s hoof which staggered her a little.

“Ya’ll ahlright Sweetie Belle?” Applebloom asked.

“Yeah Applebloom. Thanks.” Sweetie Belle replied before heading towards her sister.

As the battle continued, Twilight, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie were surrounded. Twilight was using her magic to beat back the undead ponies that were surrounding them all, while Fluttershy was helping Pinkie load her, “Snow Party Cannon,” up with the snow that they were standing on. Twilight didn’t question it, she just kept keeping her magical blasts ready and willing to fire at the undead that continued to advance on them. “Pinkie, what’s taking so long? I can’t keep this up forever!” She shouted, firing another blast at several more zombie ponies.

“No! Stay back!” She heard Fluttershy scream, which forced Twilight to turn. Pinkie Pie was on the ground, struggling with the hoof cuffs that now bound her hooves together as if she were hog-tied, and Fluttershy was backing away from Crimson Heart and nearing the edge of the cliff side.

“Fluttershy look out!” Twilight cried, watching as the pegasus looked over her shoulder and saw the massive drop behind her. Twilight rushed over to her friend, only to watch as Crimson Heart tripped Fluttershy, knocking her over before slapping hoof cuffs on her before rounding on Twilight herself.

“I would say I’m sorry about what’s happening here, but I’m really not. Neither is Serene Grace.” Crimson Heart told her, leaping at the unicorn like a mad beast. Twilight tried to throw up a barrier to block the incoming charge, but the pegasus was met with the orange hooves of a very angry Applejack.

“That’s that.” She snapped. “You okay Twi?” She asked, watching Twilight nod.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She said, hearing the sounds of flapping wings. “And so is he!” She gasped, turning around and seeing that Crimson Heart had not only a pair of hoof cuffs on his hooves, but he didn’t appear to be phased by Applejack’s attack at all.

“Come here you two!” He snapped, diving down on both ponies and tackling them to the ground.

Serene Grace however seemed to enjoy herself, blocking attack after attack after attack that was launched by both
Pipsqueak and Wonderwing’s weapons with her shield. She advanced on both foals like a predator, grinning as she did so and blocking the attacks that were sent her way from the other foals that blindly charged at her. “You call those basic energy attacks? I’ll show you energy attacks.” She said, charging her horn and firing several blasts from it. Both foals rolled out of the way, which made Serene Grace turn to face all seven foals all at once.

“We can’t win this way!” Sweetie Belle cried.

“Come on guys, let’s bring them together!” Scootaloo shouted. The other foals all nodded, and began concentrating as their weapons began to glow. The spectacle intrigued Serene Grace, which caused her to tilt her head to the side at the sight. As the foals continued to concentrate, she watched as Crimson Heart leapt up from where he was wrestling with the remaining targets and nodded in her direction.

“I’m sorry you all, I really am.” Serene Grace said sarcastically. “But it’s time for me to go. It’s too bad that I won’t get to finish you off, so how about we do this sometime when the world ends?” She asked, watching as the army of the undead carried the captured Elements of Harmony back to a platform that descended from Utopian’s airship. She could also see that Utopian had made it out of the Wayshrine and was now heading back to the ship before giving a smirk.

“Wait, you can’t leave!” Dinky snapped.

“We’re not done yet!” Wonderwing cried.

Serene Grace just shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. But I will leave you with a parting gift.” She said, her horn flaring up for a final time before unleashing a massive wave of magical energy which knocked all seven foals to the ground. “Ta-ta for now!” She said cheerfully, before galloping towards the platform and leaving the crusaders in her wake.

As the Crusaders struggled to get up, the platform that was laid out for Utopian and his soldiers quickly rose into the belly of his airship. By the time that everypony had gotten up and had reassured each other that they were okay, they were gone.

“Dang. We need to get back to the Airship now.” Scootaloo snapped.

“Yeah, let’s git outta here.” Applebloom agreed.

The other foals all agreed and headed back to their airship via the anchors that were surprisingly unscathed in their battlefield, and climbed back up before reeling them in and heading after Utopian’s Airship.

The Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible

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Chapter 13

-The Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible-

-Utopian’s Airship, the next day-

Utopian stood calmly on the bridge of his airship, smiling at the sight that he beheld. The Elements of Harmony were all kneeling before him, bound by techno-magicks that could have only been seen in the Ram Empire. He could see the blue pegasus in front of him struggle against her bonds, and couldn’t help but afford himself a little chuckle at her futile attempts at resistance.

One of the doors from behind the main console opened up as Crimson Heart calmly trotted towards him, with a nameless unicorn soldier that carried several files on a tray with its magic. Crimson Heart eyed the ponies that were kneeling before his boss, and watched each of their reactions from varying degrees of fear and shock to indifference and mistrust. Utopian turned towards him and smiled, which forced the pegasus to bow low.

“My lord, the sacrifices are being prepared as you have instructed.” Crimson Heart reported, flitting one of his wings towards the soldier. The tray that he carried was levitated down onto the main console, to where Utopian could grab it with his own magic. After the unicorn opened up the file, Crimson Heart flitted his wings again which caused the soldier to leave from the same door that he came.

“Excellent work Crimson Heart. You have yet to have failed me. And I must say, your capture of the Elements of Harmony was a most decisive work of your skill. Tell me, did they put up too much trouble for you?” Utopian asked.

“We lost three Earth Pony Soldiers during the initial encounter thanks to the pink one over there.” Crimson Heart reported, not making eye contact with any of the ponies that were being held as captive prisoners. “As soon as they tried to separate, we lost three Unicorn and Pegasi Soldiers from the chases of the orange one and the prismatic mane. The other
three were captured without any trouble.”

Utopian nodded, setting the file down with his magic and taking a closer look at the Elements of Harmony again. “So, it was just a minor inconvenience then?” He asked, watching Crimson Heart nod from out of the corner of his eye.

“Yes milord.” The pegasus replied.

Utopian smiled. Even when Crimson Heart took losses on the battlefield, they were minimal. Clean and efficient, that’s how the pegasus sold himself and that’s how he kept himself on his good side. The unicorn took a deep breath, trotting away from the main console and around to its front side to get a good look at each of Equestria’s champions.

Utopian nodded, turning to the lavender unicorn directly in front of him. “Ah, I do believe that this is the first time that we have met in person Miss Twilight Sparkle.” He said with a mock smile on his face.

“Am I correct when I assume that you would be the unicorn the Princesses warned us about?” Twilight answered, watching the unicorn nod.

“Oh have the Princesses noticed what I’ve been doing? I’m rather touched.” He scoffed. “I just assumed that they were too busy with their immortal duties that they couldn’t settle this problem themselves. I mean, after all being the ruler of a nation must be extremely tiresome. Surely they could solve the problems that they send foals in their stead to solve.”

“Hey! You watch your mouth buddy or I’ll watch it for you!” Utopian turned, his smile diminished a little as he saw the cyan pegasus continue to struggle from her bonds. He calmly trotted on down their line stopping at her. As the pegasus stopped struggling, he gave the pegasus a once-over.

“You must be Rainbow Dash. Aspiring Wonderbolt, stunt flyer, and the Element of Loyalty.” He smirked.

“Yeah, and what’s it to ya?” Rainbow Dash countered.

Without any warning, Utopian reared his front legs up and bucked the pegasus square in the face, knocking her to the floor and drawing blood. The other bound mares watched as Utopian’s metal covered hooves continued to hit her several times before stopping, leaving her battered and significantly injured. “You see, I hate that kind of attitude in my subjects.”

“Your subjects?” A voice down on the opposing end asked.

Utopian turned, ignoring the yellow pegasus that struggled to get to Rainbow Dash and trotted over to the source of the voice. He stopped when he came upon the other unicorn of the group, a white one, and sighed. “You are correct my dear. Rarity was it?” The unicorn nodded as Utopian continued. “You see, I grow tired of our supposed beloved diarchy. I grow tired of living under a pair of erroneous fools who think that they love their subjects, and I believe that there’s a change of power due in the lands of Equestria.”

“But the Princesses do love us.” Twilight protested. “They would be willing to do anything for us. They would-”

“And what do you know of true love Miss Sparkle?” Utopian asked, cutting her off. “What do you know about ruling a nation, which may seem perfect on the outside but is rank and filled with impurities on the inside? Ponies, that are the perfect race, breeding with animals and heathens like the Zebra or the Griffins, or even the Minotaurs. Those who would dare to think that they are on the same level of society as we are.” Utopian chuckled, shaking his head before returning to face Twilight. “Well let me let you in on a little secret. The Princesses are not perfect. Their system is broken, corrupt, failing. And it is I who will set it back to the way it should be. To the way where Ponies are the superior race and all of the animals will know who we are. I will be the one to-”

“Now tha’ don’ make a lick-o’ sense.” One of the other mares snapped, cutting Utopian off.

“Yeah, you’re just going to be a big meanie meanie pants and say that only ponies have a right to live in Equestria? That’s not right.” A second voice followed, which caused Utopian to turn back down towards the left end of the group of six mares.

“Ah, the Elements of Laughter and Honesty. Applejack and Pinkie Pie I presume?” He said, smiling as both mares nodded nervously. “I thought you might not see it this way. After all, you were never exposed to how bad life can really be. You were never exposed to the horrors of-”

“Yes we were. Applejack ran away to the city for a few months and I lived on a dirt poor rock farm.” Pinkie Pie replied, cutting off Utopian.

A temple formed on the unicorn’s head. “Oh, so you think that because you lived on a rock farm or that she tried striking out on her own was bad? I do believe that you need a taste of reality Miss Pie.” He said coolly.

As if on cue, one of the soldiers that was standing behind the group of mares flared up its horn. The other mares watched in shock as the soldier lowered its horn into the pink pony’s back and released a stream of electricity which caused the pony to cry out in pain. After a few moments, Pinkie Pie dropped to the ground, her body still being pumped full of electricity as she continued to scream.

“Stop it! You’re going to kill her!” Twilight cried, watching the horrifying scene with her eyes. She would have stopped it herself, but something in the hoof cuffs that she wore kept her from channeling her own magic into her horn.

A full minute passed before Utopian raised a hoof as a signal to stop the pink mare’s torture. The soldier removed the horn from Pinkie Pie as she lay on the cold floor, twitching slightly. The smell of slightly burnt fur that came from the center of her body hung in the air as Utopian smiled at the sight.

“Pinkie Pie!” Applejack exclaimed, fighting against her bonds and nudging the pink pony with her head. Pinkie Pie stirred a little, and was still breathing from what she could see, but was otherwise still not moving.

“She’ll be fine Applejack. You see, for my plan to be a complete success I need all of you alive. The Elements of Harmony are integral in this stage of the plan, and while you all won’t live to see my kingdom after the fact you will all still be alive to see the nation of Equestria burn.” Utopian said in a mock-reassuring voice.

“And what makes you think that we’ll help you good sir?” Rarity asked, trying to keep a civil tongue even amidst what she had just witnessed.

“Well you have no choice in this matter. For my ascension there are two ways to make a sacrifice. And you can’t create a kingdom without spilling a little innocent blood, as the saying goes.” Utopian replied. “I’m sure that those poor foals, what were their names... Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon? I’m sure that they would be willing to sacrifice themselves in order to restore Equestria to its former glory.”

The remaining mares gasped at Utopian’s plan, the unicorn turned smirking a little just as an air raid siren began to blare from the inside of the airship. He turned, watching as Crimson Heart began to work on one of the consoles just as Serene Grace stepped out from the door in the back. “What’s the problem? Why are the intruder sirens going off?” He snapped, glaring at Serene Grace.

“My lord, the radar room has picked up a small craft closing in behind us.” Serene Grace reported.

“And you have just now bothered to tell me about this because?” Utopian snapped.

“It just showed up out of nowhere. It wasn’t on our radar last night, and it just appeared on our radar this morning. I apologize milord; we failed to catch the pursuing vehicle in time.”

“It looks like the Princesses were on to your little scheme the second you kidnapped Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon from the Summer fair.” Twilight said confidently. “I bet that’s the flagship of the Equestrian Air Brigade, ready to take you and all of your ponies in and stop your mad scheme.”

Utopian was livid at the unicorn’s comments but before he could raise a hoof to strike her, he heard Crimson Heart say, “Milord, we have a visual on the craft.”

“Excellent, put it on the main screen.” The unicorn snapped, turning around to view the screen behind that was behind the Elements of Harmony. The sight caused him to do a double-take.

From the angle of where they were flying, he could see the front end of a smaller bright red airship. A pair of long wings extended from either end of the craft which ended in propellers. In the undercarriage of the smaller airship he could see what appeared to be at least six foals running around the inside and getting things ready for some reason he couldn’t come up with. One foal in particular got his blood boiling however, as a dark purple pegasus pony with a navy blue mane and tail was at the helm of the craft with a confident smirk on his little face.

“Task Force...” Utopian growled angrily through gritted teeth.

Twilight looked over her shoulder and gasped, watching as the Cutie Mark Crusaders were all inside what appeared to be an airship of their own colors. She could hear both Rarity and Applejack take sharp deep breaths as Fluttershy eeped at the sight.

“Milord, we’re getting a closer visual now and it appears that the smaller airship is being piloted by foals.” Crimson Heart reported.

“I realize that you idiot.” Utopian snapped. “What does that fool think he’s doing? And who are those commoners with him?” He thought angrily, watching the smaller ship as it moved out of one screen and changed to another view.

-Meanwhile, on the Crusader Airship-

“You guys, we finally caught up to Wonderwing’s dad!” Pipsqueak reported, pulling his spyglass back inside the carriage of their airship. The other crusaders looked in the direction of the bigger airship and saw that several ponies dressed in a manner similar to the ones that attacked the Summer Fair in Ponyville were all marching along a smaller bridge outside the main part of the enemy airship.

“Yeah, and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are on that thing somewhere.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“But how’re we supposed to git on tha’ airship without bein’ caught?” Applebloom wondered aloud.

Scootaloo shook her head. “It doesn’t look like we can get anywhere near that thing on this side.” She said, as the other foals stared at her.

“She’s got a point.” Wonderwing replied. “This looks like a Celestial Class Battleship.”

“A Celestial Class?” Dinky Repeated.

“Yeah, it was only used for major wars like against the liberation of the Giraffes or Operation Camel Freedom. And they’re only used at the start of the War they’re in. Mostly because they’re too expensive to fly.” Wonderwing replied. “You see those long tubey thingies?” He asked, pointing a hoof at the long barrels that were remaining motionless on the sides of the enemy ship’s hull.

“Aren’t thothe cannonth?” Twist asked nervously. Wonderwing nodded.

“Yeah, the book I read up on airships said that those are seventeen inch guns. They’re capable of knocking out a fully grown dragon out of the sky.” Wonderwing reported, shuddering like everyone else on board. “But usually most Celestial Class Airships can have a maximum of fifteen inch guns on board at a time. I wonder why dad put those guns on board; they’d be really heavy for a Celestial Class to use.”

The foals remained silent for a moment as the realization of what they were dealing with set in. Wonderwing continued to steer their airship as nopony spoke for a few moments.

“See, I told you that we needed a plan.” Sweetie Belle scolded, glaring at Scootaloo.

“Yeah, those big gun thingies c’n blast us outta tha’ sky!” Applebloom said, taking a gulp of air.

“Uh guys, I think that we have bigger problems.” Pipsqueak reported, closing his spyglass.

“What is it Pipsqueak?” Wonderwing asked.

“Well... ere’s a problem wif’ the airship your dad’s using.” He said, quickly trotting over to Wonderwing and pointing a hoof in the direction of the gigantic airship. Every foal ran to the window and immediately galloped back to their seats. The sights of the airships smaller guns were trained on their small craft and ready to fire.

-Back on Utopian’s Warship-

“Crimson Heart, do your stallions have a clear shot on our little pest problem?” Utopian asked.

The pegasus nodded, watching as both the screen that he was viewing and the main screen that everypony else was viewing all had the Crusaders airship in its crosshairs.

“It’s a pity. They are really persistent. They could have all made great officers in my army.” Utopian sneered.

“If you lay one hoof on my sister’s head I’ll-”

“Ah, so there’s family on board as well!” Utopian said, cutting off the unicorn. “Well my, my, isn’t this a pleasant surprise. You really should have taught your sister not to meddle in the affairs of adults. I tried teaching my son that, I tried to teach him that nopony in the world was to be trusted. But oh no, he didn’t want to listen. He wanted to fall in with commoners like your sister.” He paused, looking down at Rarity with a malicious grin. “Crimson Heart, tell your stallions that they may open fire.” He ordered.

“Yes milord.” Crimson Heart answered, putting a hoof to his ear. “Open fire.” He commanded, smiling at the reactions of the Elements of Harmony.

“But that’s your son there!” Twilight protested, appearing to try to talk some sense into the deranged unicorn before her.

Utopian said nothing, returning to his throne behind the main console of the bridge. After taking a seat and resting his head on one of his hooves he smiled. “I know.”

-Back on the Crusader Airship-

“Wonderwing, they look like they’re going to shoot at us.” Pipsqueak said, watching several guns turn towards their craft.

“Your dad wouldn’t do that would he?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching Wonderwing shake his head.

“My dad may dislike me, but it wouldn’t be enough to shoot at me. I’m his own flesh and blood!” Wonderwing replied. A loud explosion rocked the side of their craft as Wonderwing stumbled to his own seat. Another explosion, which came close to hitting the side of their airship, rocked it wildly and knocked most of the foals around in their seats.

“Wonderwing... Wonderwing!” Scootaloo cried, getting out of her seat and crawling towards the stunned pegasus. “Dude, your dad’s nuts!” She snapped, watching as Wonderwing remained silent. “Hey, Sweetie Belle, we need to get him out of here! Wonderwing’s completely lost it!”

The unicorn nodded as another explosion rocked the small airship. She then made her way to the front where Wonderwing sat, and watched as he began to cry. “It’s okay... Here, come on Wonderwing. This way...” She said, beginning to reassure the pegasus as she led him to where Scootaloo sat, which in turn gave Scootaloo control of the airship.

-Back at Utopian’s Warship-

“Ahh... so even in their time of great peril, the commoners show compassion to one another.” Utopian remarked, watching as the pegasus was escorted back from the main seat in the airship.

“Utopian stop this! Please!” Twilight pleaded, watching as the unicorn began to scoff.

“It would seem that even in this moment when the ones you love and care for are going to die; you still try to reason with the pony in power.” Utopian commented, looking down on Twilight with a smirk. “Crimson Heart, what’s taking so long? I want those foals out of the sky now.”

“I apologize milord; the men have adjusted for the wind speed and are preparing another shot as we speak.” Crimson Heart reported.

Utopian nodded, smiling at the large screen in front of him as though it were a game of Stormball. He watched all of the pleading looks from the remaining conscious Elements of Harmony before looking back up at the screen. “You had better get one last look at them. This will be the last day that they are alive after all.” He said confidently.

The mares on the floor could only watch as a blast of magical flames, not unlike what was used to attack Ponyville during the Summer Fair, smashed into the Crusader’s airship with a powerful force. A chorus of screams and gasps echoed through out the bridge, watching as the foal’s small craft turned into a ball of flaming wreckage.

“You monster... You MONSTER!” Rarity screamed, lunging at the main console like a beast from Tartarus. She was only stopped by a powerful spell released from Serene Grace which knocked her to the floor with the force of a behemoth.

“You dare address the new Lord of Equestria in such a manner?” Serene Grace snapped, her horn flaring up with magic as it levitated Rarity’s body towards her own. “If you were not necessary for my lord’s plan, I would kill you now peasant.”

“You dare call yourself an Equestrian? I’ve known dragons that deserve that title more than you do.” Rarity snapped, glaring at Serene Grace.

“You insolent fool! I-”

“Release her Serene Grace.” Utopian commanded. The unicorn turned, a puzzled look on her face as her eyes met his. “I mean it. Release her.” Utopian watched as Serene Grace hesitated for a few moments before releasing her magical
hold on Rarity.

“I apologize milord. She had insulted you and-”

“There’s no need to apologize Serene Grace. You were only doing as you should. Crimson Heart; take the Elements of Harmony to the prison hold. The Elements of Laughter and Loyalty are to be given medical treatment before hand. I also want them in separate cells. Is that understood?”

“Of course milord.” Crimson Heart replied, bowing low to the unicorn. “You heard Lord Utopian; I want these four in the Prison hold. Take the other two to the medical wing, double time!” He ordered, leading the soldiers that guarded the Elements of Harmony towards the door he entered and out of sight. As the last of the prison guards carried both Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash off of the bridge, Utopian turned his attention to Serene Grace.

“Is there a problem?” He asked.

“No milord.” Serene Grace replied.

“You do realize my dear that you are a terrible liar.” Utopian said, watching the unicorn blush. “Now now, there isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. We’re all bad at something at one point.” He said, sounding like a parent reassuring a foal. “Would you care to tell me what troubles you?”

Serene Grace bowed before Utopian, her face almost touching the floor as she spoke. “Milord, I ask that you forgive me but why do you require the Elements of Harmony? I fail to see their role in your ascension.”

Utopian nodded, as Serene Grace remained on her knees. “The ritual that is required to release the sealed god’s power is the force of another god. The Elements of Harmony, though their physical bodies may be mortal, are implementers of divine artifacts. It is through that bond which I will revive the power of the Lord of the Griffons, and ascend into godhood. The foals are necessary to open the first gate which would protect the Elements of Harmony from its resonating powers. Is everything clear now?”

Serene Grace nodded. “Of course milord. I need to return to my post at once sir.” She said, bowing another time before leaving the bridge.

As soon as the unicorn left, Utopian smiled. “A pity that my own son had to fall by my hoof.” Utopian thought, staring out across the horizon from where he sat on the bridge. “But I will show no mercy to those who would get in my way. It was the fate that he chose, and the fate that all traitors will meet.”

-Back on the Crusader Airship-

The damage to the airship had been severe. Taking a magical burst from an eight inch cannon at point blank range would have done other aircraft in if they weren’t built like the Crusader’s. With Scootaloo still at the helm, she tried her best to hold the ship steady as it continued to plummet to the ground below.

“We’re going to crash!” Dinky cried, holding her head between her hooves.

“Not if I have anything to say about it!” Scootaloo shouted, pulling back on the Airship’s wheel as hard as she could.
“Wonderwing, we need you!” She snapped, looking over her shoulder and seeing the pegasus remain silent.

“Come on Wonderwing! Please!” Sweetie Belle cried, nudging Wonderwing gently. “Your mom still loves you! She’ll be very sad if we don’t make it!”

Wonderwing still didn’t respond, the shock of his father firing on them was still weighing heavy on his mind. “Why though? Why would dad want to kill me? Did I do something wrong?”

He never got to answer his question though as an all brown hoof smacked him across the back of the head.

“Lissen ere’ you.” Pipsqueak shouted over the sounds of the freefall. “You’re being glum an’ miserable when we need you! The time for questions is over. You just need to act. We need your ‘elp, an’ you ain’t going to leave us here. Not yet!”

Wonderwing shook his head. Pipsqueak was right, the time to act was now. Asking questions could wait. He snapped to attention and slid down to where Scootaloo sat as the airship continued its descent.

“Glad you could join us!” Scootaloo shouted, watching as Wonderwing began to flip several switches. She tried to follow his movements closely, but he was working so fast it was hard to keep up and pay attention to the ground that was getting closer by the minute.

“Thouldn’t we jump from the airthip?” Twist shouted over the now roar of the free fall.

“No, I’ve got this!” Wonderwing replied. After flipping a few more switches, he slammed his free hoof into the console which caused a big red button labeled, “Balloon Release,” to appear from out of the center of the wheel. After a few moments, Scootaloo cast a glance at Wonderwing who nodded as if they shared a mental conversation. Then, with all of their hopes on the line, Scootaloo pushed the button.

A few things happened all at once at first. Time seemed to stand still for the foals as the flames began to eat away at the roof of their basket. Then as if somepony were watching over them, the flames disappeared. The airship then slowly began to come out of the dive and finally stabilize, which caused the foals to cheer.

“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS! AIRSHIP PILOTS YAY!” They all shouted their battle cry. Their mood dropped a little as the blank flanked foals all checked their Cutie Marks only to find nothing there.

“Well at least we’re still alive.” Scootaloo said finally, looking at the instruments and flipping the switch indicated, “Auto Level Flight.” After spinning around in her chair to face the other foals, she could see that there was a lot of consoling done for both Dinky and Wonderwing. Quietly she slid off the seat and trotted over to Wonderwing, who was silently crying in the back. “Well... That was exciting.” She said, watching as Wonderwing failed to respond.

“Scootaloo, I think he needs to be alone.” Sweetie Belle scolded.

“I’m fine.” Wonderwing said through a sob. “I’m just relieved that we’re okay.”

“No you’re not.” Dinky said, causing everypony to look up. “You’re sad that your daddy tried to kill you.”

“Well he did try. But he failed. We’re alive, and we need to get to that temple.” Wonderwing replied.

“Hey, you can’t do any kind of crusading with that attitude. What’s wrong?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Wonderwing remained silent, sniffling a little as the realization of how his father felt about him settled in. “My dad doesn’t love me. I knew that. I figured that because I wasn’t born a unicorn, I wasn’t good enough.”

“But you ahr good enough Wonderwing.” Applebloom protested.

“No I’m not. Not to him at least.” Wonderwing countered.

The other foals remained silent as Wonderwing’s mood was felt by them all. He continued to sniffle and sob a little as he stood up on his hooves. “I mean, I try getting interested in things that unicorns can do. I try doing magic like a unicorn, I try fixing things and making things work, but it isn’t enough.” He turned to the other crusaders. “Well buck him! Buck him and his stupid rules! I have a mommy who loves me with all of her heart, I have the best friends that any foal could ask for, and I belong to the best club ever!”

The other crusaders cheered. Sweetie Belle smiled, grabbing a small napkin from her saddle bag and passing it to Wonderwing. The pegasus took it with his hooves and wiped his eyes, feeling extremely grateful.

“Thanks Sweetie Belle.”

The unicorn foal smiled, taking the damp napkin from Wonderwing and placing it back in her bag. “Don’t worry about it. You’ve been the one doing all of the work for the Crusaders, and it’s our turn to do it instead.”

Scootaloo smiled. “Yeah, we have some business to discuss with Utopian when we meet back up with him.” She stopped however as Wonderwing stepped forward. “What’s up?” She asked.

“I’m sorry that I may have been a little uneasy to work with these past couple of days.” Wonderwing apologized. “I know that I was wrong and that you should and Applebloom and Sweetie Belle should have been leading this thing.”

Scootaloo nodded, extending one of her hooves to Wonderwing. “Listen, I wanna apologize too. I thought that you were stealing my thunder and that you were going to take my friends from me. I just got so caught up that there were two
pegasi in the crusaders that I just wanted to show off. We still friends?” She asked.

Wonderwing nodded, extending his own hoof and shaking it with Scootaloo’s. “Yes. Yes we are.” He said, watching as Scootaloo turned away from them and towards the front of the airship.

“All right crusaders, we have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s go!” Scootaloo cried, galloping back to her own chair as Wonderwing took the front seat.

“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS! YAY!” They all cried in unison.

-Sometime later back on Utopian’s Airship-

The news was hard enough to bear that they had been captured and thrown in cells that were barely suitable for hardened criminals. It was hard enough to know that Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon were just hoofsteps away from where they were but could not be rescued. But the biggest bombshell was the news that the Cutie Mark Crusaders didn’t survive the attack from Utopian’s warship.

Rarity and Applejack seemed to take it the hardest, after all Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were on board during the attack. And even though Pinkie Pie, who had gotten put into her cell an hour ago, was doing her best to try and cheer them both up it wasn’t working.

Twilight could hear gentle sobs coming from Applejack’s cell that was to her right. Across from her was Rarity, but her face was so distraught with pain and loss that she wouldn’t have ever been the same.

Nopony said a word. At least they didn’t dare to. They were prisoners, and the loved ones that they were just a stone’s throw away from were now gone forever.

“Princess Celestia... I’m sorry. I didn’t think that the crusaders would actually follow us, let alone get caught in this mess...” Twilight thought, a tear streaking down her cheek. “I hope that wherever those foals are, they’re happy and together. That’s the least I can ask for you.”

“It’s my fault.” Rarity uttered finally, which caused Twilight to look up. “I s-s-should h-ha-have been th-there.” She wailed, gasping for air.

“No Rarity, it’s not your fault.” Fluttershy’s voice echoed throughout the chamber.

“I-I-I’m a terrible sister!” Rarity wailed, burying her face into her hooves. “She... She relied on m-m-me! And I let her get killed! I-I failed her!” She cried as a new stream of tears followed.

“Yer not the only one who’s lost a sister Rarity.” Applejack commented from her cell. “She was just a little filly. And there wasn’t a thing Ah could do to save her.”

Everypony remained silent with the exception of Rarity as hoofsteps could be heard. Twilight rushed to the bars of her cell and looked down the hall to see two of Utopian’s unicorn soldiers walk past. She could see that neither of them had a key, and that they appeared to be nothing more than grunts than anything else. Twilight slid down along the side of one of the walls in her cell. She wanted to do something, she really did, but there was no way out of her prison or any of her friends.

Not even Pinkie Pie, who had been silent the whole time surprisingly, could come up with an appropriate way to solve their problem. Her cell was the only other one that was completely quiet save for a deep and relaxed breath every now and then.

“Hey Pinkie Pie...” Twilight could hear Rainbow Dash ask through her cell. “Pinkie Pie... Hello, Equestria to Pinkie Pie, come in Pinkie Pie over.”

“Dashie, stop. I need to concentrate.” Pinkie Pie replied, surprising everypony else.

“What about?” Twilight asked, now wondering about what would make the party pony so serious all of a sudden.

“Utopian’s Airship is slowing down. I’m trying to figure out why.” Pinkie Pie replied.

The door that led out of the prison hold was opened suddenly, which caused Twilight to stir in her cell. The sounds of gigantic hoofsteps could be heard a mile away as she stood up and looked down the hall.

“W-What’s going on?” Fluttershy uttered, hearing the giant steps and trembling in her own cell.

The sounds of cell doors opening met the ears of each of the Elements of Harmony, and as they stood up in their own regards, a pair of Utopian’s soldiers replaced the hoofcuffs that they had earlier. The soldiers then led them out into the hall and in single file line as the pegasus known as Crimson Heart was standing, wickedly beaming at all of them.

“I see that you all have enjoyed your flight.” He said, looking down on them all. “But you see, we have arrived at our destination.”

“Where are we?” Twilight asked in spite of herself.

“You will see soon enough.” The pegasus replied, turning his back on them all and smirking a little. “Now, honored guests of the new Lord of Equestria Utopian I humbly ask that you follow me.” Crimson Heart said, calmly trotting down the hallway that he came. The captives said nothing, being forced into walking in step with Utopian’s soldiers as they marched down into the ship.

Several minutes passed as they all headed down corridor after corridor, with the layout making no sense at all to Twilight. When they finally stopped at a massive pair of double doors that were labeled, “The Hangar,” she could feel an intense heat radiate from the other side of the door even though it was less than a foot away from her.

“Fillies and Gentlecolts, milord Utopian would like to introduce you to the Temple of the Griffin Sphinx god Grimclaw the Terrible.” Crimson Heart introduced as the front doors opened wide. Even in the huge hangar, where Twilight could make out more of Utopian’s soldiers running about and getting things ready for a huge battle later on, all of her attention was focused in the center of the Hangar.

On the opposite side, she could start to see a huge building, ancient in nature but similar in size to Canterlot. The style of the temple looked like something that one would see in Equypt, with massive griffin statues on either side of the entrance that appeared to be guarding something. Row upon row of columns led from the airship towards the temple, as some of them were fallen over and shattered into tiny pieces. A pair of tall and slim spires stood on either side, one made of what appeared to be obsidian and the other appeared to be made of faded gold, which reflected what appeared to the unicorn as Night and Day. Everything also appeared to be in perfect alignment with the sun, as what would have been a small pool of water that ran up to the temple was dry but gave the illusion that there had been something there.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it Miss Sparkle?” A voice called out to her from above. Twilight turned as she felt herself being pushed forward, seeing Utopian in an all black suit of armor flanked by the biggest earth pony that she had ever seen and the unicorn Serene Grace. “This is the entrance to the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible, in the Valley of Despair. A fitting place for one’s ascension into godhood don’t you think?” He asked.

Twilight said nothing but glared at the unicorn bitterly. She watched as the three ponies descended from a lift that was operated from a central hub above the hangar floor, which in turn was operated by more of Utopian’s soldiers. When the lift finally touched the floor and caused all three of the vile ponies to step off, Utopian laughed again.

“It would seem that one so talkative has nothing to say. I’m saddened really; I thought that you would be curious as to the history of this place.” He said, watching as Twilight made no sounds and nodded. “Well then, if that’s the way it’s going to be then that’s the way it’s going to be. Onward, my ascension to a being more powerful than the two sisters is at hoof!” He declared, beginning to march towards the temple. Behind him, soldiers numbering well over the thousands followed suit, marching in a tight box formation around the Elements of Harmony.

As Twilight was forced to march in line with everypony else, she cast a quick glance over her shoulder. Applejack and Rarity’s heads hung low, the loss of their siblings still paralyzed them and kept them from doing anything. Fluttershy was trying her best to make herself as small as she could, quietly obeying the commands of her captors. Rainbow Dash was still trying to struggle, valiantly trying to free her wings from the pair of cuffs that she had been given to keep herself from flying. Pinkie Pie however had a face full of determination, something that Twilight hadn’t seen since their battles with Nightmare Moon, Discord, or Queen Chrysalis.

“Don’t worry Twilight.” Pinkie Pie said, reassuring the lavender unicorn. “It will all work out in the end. Utopian will get his, and everything will be fine.” She smiled, watching as Twilight nodded in agreement.

“You’re right Pinkie. We just need to keep thinking positive, there’s nothing we can’t do.” Twilight replied, only to get struck with a light blast of magical energy. Twilight looked up and got back to her hooves to see that Serene Grace had fired the shot and was glaring at Twilight angrily. “Oh just you wait Serene Grace. Your master will get his.”

“Prisoners are only to speak when spoken to.” Serene Grace snapped, turning her attention back to the front.

After a few minutes of marching, it felt like hours to most of the Elements of Harmony, the small army of ponies stood at the gigantic doors of the Temple. Utopian smiled and turned to the gigantic earth pony that flanked him. “General Tuff Stuff, knock down the door if you please.”

The massive earth pony nodded, waving one of his front hooves from the army and towards the door before bellowing, “Artillery, bring that door down!” The response from several of the airship’s guns was automatic as several blasts of magical flame sailed over the army and into the ancient doors, shattering it into pieces. As the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Utopian continued to advance forward, as if he were about to get the best present in the world.

“Every pony step lively now.” He said almost too happily, turning to both Serene Grace and Tuff Stuff. “You two, go back to the ship and get the sacrifices. I want them here for the ceremony.” He ordered, watching as both ponies bowed low.

“It will be done milord.” They both said before leaving the temple.

-Meanwhile, back on board the Crusader Airship-

“Do you guys see that?” Dinky asked, watching as the airship closed in on the Temple.

“Ith the motht beautiful thing that I ever thaw!” Twist said, marveling at the sight.

“Yeah, but we need to be careful when we get near that thing.” Sweetie Belle warned. “Not only is the airship parked right out front of the temple, there’s an entire army of Utopian’s forces. And they could be liable to kill us.”

Wonderwing nodded. “Right, I’m settin’ her down.” He replied, doubling back to the ridge that was furthest away from the temple. After flipping a few switches and beginning its descent, Wonderwing eased the airship down towards the ground.

“Uh, Wonderwing... You may want to speed it up there buddy.” Scootaloo reported.

Wonderwing looked over to one of the side windows and saw that a smaller group of ponies had begun to advance towards them, charging fast on their own accord. They were led by another pony; clad in glinting armor from what they could see from their height but they couldn’t tell anything else about it.

As their airship continued its descent, blasts of magical energy whizzed from above their heads. “Guys, get your morphers ready and grab some parachutes.” Wonderwing said continuing the descent of the airship.

Scootaloo looked out one of the windows and saw several magical blasts whizzed by, dangerously close to one of the engines. “Come on you guys, we gotta go.” She said, climbing out of her seat and grabbing a small bag from underneath it.

The other foals did the same, before grabbing their saddlebags and their wristwatches, watching closely as
Wonderwing flipped the autopilot switch on and did the same. After the sound of a small explosion rang out from above their
heads, Scootaloo nodded as both Wonderwing and Applebloom opened the door.

“Ahr you sure this is safe?” Applebloom shouted over the roar of the wind.

“We don’t have a choice!” Wonderwing answered as a blast of magical energy flew dangerously close to the airship.

“It’s a sacrifice that we have to make! When we jump, change into your suits it will cushion the fall!” Sweetie Belle shouted. “The red cord is to release the parachute! As soon as you’re far enough away, let it go!”

“The longer we stand here the closer we are to getting killed!” Scootaloo cried. “We need to go now!”

The other foals nodded as each of them in turn leapt out of the airship. Wonderwing gave a last glance at the airship, before he too leapt from it.

The ponies on the ground didn’t understand what was going on until the last foal leapt from the airship. As they began to ready another salvo of magic into the free-falling foals, they all erupted into bursts of bright magical energy, each representing a particular color. The change was so bright that the soldiers didn’t even get a chance to fire a shot as they landed, their eyes adjusting to the instant brightness of the foals’ costume change.

The Lieutenant on the ground smiled, glaring at the foals from behind his bronze helmet. When the last foal finally descended, he smirked at what he assumed to be the easiest capture of his life.

“Is everypony ready?” Scootaloo asked, removing both her saddlebag and the parachute pack from her back.

“Yeah. Ah’m ready.” Applebloom answered.

“We’ve gotta put a stop to Utopian and his evil ways!” Sweetie Belle added.

“This is going to be the best crusade that I’ve ever been on!” Dinky squeaked.

“We need to be careful though, there’s a whole lot of them and only seven of us.” Wonderwing said.

“Well, we’ll take every thingle one of thothe creepth down if we have to. Nopony kidnapth innothent foalth and getth
away with it.” Twist added.

“An’ we’re all going to do it together.” Pipsqueak finished up, turning with the other crusaders as they all formed a line.

“Well well well. What have we here? A bunch of foals who think that they can stop Utopian?” The heavily armored pony scoffed, his all black cape fluttering against his back. “We’ll just put you all back to bed before anypony has to get hurt, and you go crying to your mommy’s-”

“You’re the only pony who’s getting hurt. Get out of our way or face the consequences.” Scootaloo snapped.

“And who do you think you are little missy?” The heavily armored pony asked, snarling at the group of spandex-wearing foals.

“We are the defenders of the blank flank,” Wonderwing began.

“We protect those ponies who found out how they were special,” Dinky said proudly.

“We are always on the quest for our own marks,” Sweetie Belle added, taking an aggressive stance along side her friends.

“Ahr cause is noble and just,” Applebloom reported, following everypony’s suit.

“We thtop bad ponieth like you,” Twist added.

“We’ll never stop our journey,” Pipsqueak said, as every one of the foals looked towards Scootaloo.

“Cause we are,” She paused, breaking into a smile that she hoped her friends could see even though she knew that they couldn’t, before taking a deep breath. “We are the Cutie Mark Sentai!”

“CRUSADER!” The foals shouted all at once, each of them striking a pose before charging at the crowd of ponies.

Meanwhile back inside the temple, Twilight’s ears twitched at the sounds of ponies fighting. Something didn’t seem right at all, as Utopian had seemed to be winning at every turn. She and her friends were tied up to one of a set of six pillars that held up the structure. She could also see that both Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara were both soundly asleep on the central pedestal that stood in front of another door in front of them.

Utopian smiled, his horn flaring up as his magic took a very old looking, ceremonial knife from one of the trays that another soldier held in its teeth. The soldier stepped backwards behind both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace, bowing low like the other soldier ponies that were in the room. “My dear followers, captives, and friends.” Utopian began, eyeing the dagger aloft. “This is the moment, the time that will make our long years of toil worth it. This is the epitome of success. The pity is that two young foals, and the defenders of harmony across Equestria, have to be sacrificed for it. But, there is hope! Their sacrifice will not be in vain! Equestria shall be a utopia once again, as it should have been. It will not be an easy road but I, as your new King, will lead you all into a glorious new world! And it all starts with a simple stroke.” Utopian used his magic to raise the knife high into the air, ready to plunge it deep into the body of Diamond Tiara, using all of his magic powers until-

“MASTER! I’VE FAILED YOU!” A loud shout was heard, causing every pony to turn. The Lieutenant from outside was flung backwards, smashing back first into Utopian before rolling away and collapsing due to exhaustion. The next thing that happened shocked everypony in that temple hall.

Heading towards them all, in a perfectly horizontal row, were seven foals. Each of them had a smirk on their face, and each of them wore bright red and gold capes with golden wristwatches. They stopped after getting within walking distance of the pillars that bound the Elements of Harmony, which caused both the Elements of Generosity and Honesty to stare dumbfounded at them.

“But... I... How? How did you survive?” Utopian snarled, glaring at the foals.

“Well dad,” Wonderwing began, glaring at his father, “You apparently hit us with a burst from less than an eight inch cannon. It may have destroyed the Balloon, but the way we designed the Airship itself kept us perfectly safe.”

“Utopian, what you’re doing is totally wrong!” Scootaloo snapped. “And as citizens of Equestria, we are forced to place you under arrest! Come quietly and we won’t have to hurt you!”

The unicorn laughed, looking down at the foals with contempt. “Oh please. Seven foals versus my army? What can you possibly do?”

The foals shared a look, before nodding all at once. “We can do plenty.” Scootaloo challenged. “Ready?” She asked.

“Ready!” The other foals replied excitedly.

“ACTIVATE! CRUSADER CHANGER!” They all cried, lightly tapping their hooves against the glass of their wristwatches. The resulting flashes of light blinded everypony in the room temporarily, and woke up Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, before it died down and revealed their costume changes.

Scootaloo reared up on her back legs before beating her wings. “Red Pegasus Crusader!”

Sweetie Belle made to flick a bang from her mane from out of her face with one of her hooves. “Blue Unicorn Crusader!”

Applebloom cracked her shoulders slightly as she began to stretch and warm up like she was ready to rumble. “Yellow Earth Pony Crusader!”

Dinky smiled, spinning on one of her hooves before falling lightly to the ground. “Pink Unicorn Crusader!” She said after climbing back up.

Twist followed Applebloom’s example and began stretching a little before dropping back on all fours. “White Earth Pony Cruthader!”

Wonderwing stood back on the back of his back hooves before bowing. “Black Pegasus Crusader!”

Pipsqueak drew a small pirate cutlass from its holster and ran one of his hooves around the dull end. “Brown Pirate Crusader!”

“We are the defenders of the blank flank,” Wonderwing began.

“We protect those ponies who found out how they were special,” Dinky said proudly.

“We are always on the quest for our own marks,” Sweetie Belle added, taking an aggressive stance along side her

“Ahr cause is noble and just,” Applebloom reported, following everypony’s suit.

“We thtop bad ponieth like you,” Twist added.

“We’ll never stop our journey,” Pipsqueak said, as every one of the foals looked towards Scootaloo.

“Because we’re the Cutie Mark Sentai!” Scootaloo paused as everypony was on the same page.

“CRUSADER!” The foals all shouted at once, ignoring a series of small explosions from behind them in their own respective colors.

As soon as their transformation ended, Utopian smiled, clapping his hooves together in a mock attempt in applause. “Well now, these foals want to play in the big leagues. Soldiers, annihilate them.” He ordered, as the hordes of his armies descended upon the foals.

“Let’s do it guys!” Scootaloo said, taking an aggressive stance before charging the horde of ponies. The other crusaders nodded, charging at the enemy with Scootaloo as fast as their little hooves could take them.

Nopony that wasn’t fighting could believe what they were seeing. The professionally trained soldiers that were under Utopian’s sway were being beaten down like they weren’t even there.

Scootaloo slid under one, striking another soldier in the chin with one of her hooves before getting back up and smashing into another one with her front hooves. As five or six of Utopian’s soldiers lined up a shot on her with their magic,
she charged them all, and bucked all of them before they could fire a shot off. She had to duck though as several more of Utopian’s soldiers were thrown into the air.

Several soldiers had Sweetie Belle surrounded, each ready to pounce on her should she make a mistake. After what seemed a split second, the little unicorn foal let out a horrifyingly loud screech that not only knocked away the soldiers around her, but took out over thirty more that were directly in front of her. She smiled, turning to another group of soldiers that charged her before screaming again and knocking them all back from where they came from in an unconscious heap. She smiled as she could tell that Scootaloo was staring at her in amazement from her helmet, and nodded as both foals got back to work.

Applebloom and Twist both seemed to be having the time of their lives, bucking soldier after soldier into next week with their super powered hooves. Several of the soldiers got smart, firing blasts of magic at the pair and knocking them backwards a little. Both foals got right back up, leaping towards the group that shot at them with little effort, and burying their hooves in between them.

Wonderwing was the only one of the few ponies who seemed to be having the most fun in beating the crap out of his father’s goons. Even as he finished three with a powerful strike with his hooves, six more would charge from the crowds and attack. It didn’t really matter to him, so long as he and the other Crusaders could put his father away for a long time. “Just you wait dad. I’ll make sure you pay for not only betraying Equestria, but for trying to kill me and my friends.” He thought, skillfully beating down another group of soldiers and advancing towards the unicorn closest to the pedestal.

The only two members that weren’t causing as much damage as the other foals were Dinky and Pipsqueak. They had both agreed to cover each other while one undid the bindings that were holding the Elements of Harmony. “Dinky, you got that rope cut yet?” Pipsqueak asked, striking several soldiers with his cutlass before blocking another attack at the little unicorn.

“I’ve almost got it Pipsqueak, hang on!” She replied, her horn flaring up as a mini laser that cut through Twilight’s ropes. The unicorn looked over her shoulder, and could feel the bonds loosening until she heard a final and fateful snap that set her free.

“All right Dinky!” Pipsqueak cheered as the little unicorn turned and got several of Utopian’s soldiers off of him. They both got cornered against the pillar however as more and more of them seemed to pile up in front of them.

Before either foal could charge the wall that surrounded them, they heard a loud battle cry and saw that Twilight had joined the battle, and began to use her magic to cut down swaths of the demented unicorn’s soldiers. “Thanks Twilight!” Both foals said as their savior, who was a blaze with flames at the moment, nodded in their direction.

“You two go on and help the others!” Twilight shouted, watching as both foals ran to the next pillar and began to free Utopian’s next captive. She then turned to the other soldiers and angrily charged them, her horn flaring up just like the rest of her body.

As the numbers of Utopian’s army significantly dwindled to almost nothing, both Wonderwing and Scootaloo turned towards the would-be god. “Calling on the Crusader Shield!” Wonderwing cried, tapping his hoof on the wristwatch on his other leg. A split second later and his black shield appeared on Wonderwing’s right hoof from out of thin air.

“Whoa! How’d you do that?” Scootaloo asked.

“It comes with your watch.” Wonderwing answered. “Your weapons come when you call them. Didn’t you pay attention when I told you what they did?” He asked.

“I may have missed that part.” Scootaloo replied, watching Wonderwing smashing another soldier with his shield.

“Look, all you have to do is say, “Calling on the Crusader,” and whatever your weapon is. In this case it’s a saber.” Wonderwing said calmly, watching Scootaloo nod.

“Right, okay let’s try it!” Scootaloo said confidently. “Calling on the Crusader Saber!” She cried. In the same way that Wonderwing’s shield appeared, Scootaloo’s saber appeared and dropped itself neatly into her right hoof. The pegasus foal nodded, swinging the blade of the saber at several soldiers and instantly defeating them with a wave of red energy. “I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. This is totally awesome!”

Wonderwing nodded. “Yeah, now let’s show my dad our new toys.” He said, charging towards the older unicorn.

Scootaloo smiled, following Wonderwing closely, swinging her saber at soldiers that came after them that Wonderwing’s shield missed. Just as soon as they reached within striking distance of the pedestal, another pegasus dove down on them like a missile. Without anytime to think at all, Scootaloo lunged forward and knocked Wonderwing down before the attack connected, looking up at the vile pegasus that came after him.

“You two don’t worry about that poser! Stop that freak in front of you!” Both foals looked up to see not only Rainbow Dash, but Fluttershy chasing after their aerial assailant, and nodded before commencing their attacks.

Utopian smiled, bringing the knife blade across as both his son and his friend leapt after him. But he didn’t hear the clang of steel from the blade that he wielded in his magic, he turned to see that General Tuff Stuff had blocked both attacks with his armor and was easily holding both foals back with his sheer bulk. It didn’t last however as the Element of Honesty leapt at Tuff Stuff with a flying tackle like a bat out of Tartarus and got the general out of their way. Both foals tried to strike Utopian a second time, only to have their weapons held back for a moment by Serene Grace. That notion was completely stamped out however as not only did the Element of Generosity leap at Serene Grace, but the foals claiming themselves as the Yellow Earth Pony Crusader, Blue Unicorn Crusader, and White Earth Pony Crusader each leapt at her with a hammer, pair of bladed hooks and a megaphone.

“Well now... I guess my ascension will have to wait. I must dirty my hooves now.” Utopian sneered, using his magic to enlarge the size of his knife until it was the size of a Minotaur’s broadsword. “En garde! Your foolish lives will end soon enough!”

Wonderwing blocked the initial strike his father made with his shield and pulled the older unicorn away from the altar. Utopian raised the sword his magic carried high into the air and brought it down again and again, with more force each and every time.

“I’m going to enjoy watching you squirm Task Force.” Utopian sneered again, bringing the broadsword high into the air. He was stopped in mid swing when he was struck by a wave of red energy, which caused him to skid far enough back for both of his captives escape throughout the way they came.

“Where are they going?” Wonderwing asked, watching Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon run away.

“I told them to get back to the airship.” Scootaloo answered. “It maybe wrecked, but it’s safer than being in here.”

Wonderwing nodded, sharing another mental conversation with Scootaloo as they charged at his father. Over the sounds of the battle he could hear his father order both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace to go after them and leave the foals, but there was something else on his mind.

“Where’s Pinkie Pie?” He thought, seeing the bonds from where the pink party mare would have been standing only to find them lifeless on the floor.

The Showy Samurai Ponies

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Chapter 14

-The Showy Samurai Ponies-

While everypony else was inside the Temple of Grimclaw the Terrible, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon had made their way back to the wreckage that was once the Cutie Mark Crusaders Airship. They could see several members of Utopian’s Army standing around, looking at random things. One would pick up a small gear with its magic while two others would be fighting each other over who got the shiniest object.

The two fillies looked at each other nervously.

“They wanted us to head back to a hunk of junk?” Diamond Tiara whispered, looking over at the depressing scene.

“Well, did you want to stay back inside the temple and get sacrificed?” Silver Spoon asked.

“No, but I would have expected our rescuers to have the decency of not having a junked up way back to Equestria.” Diamond Tiara said coldly.

“Well you have to admit that they tried. I mean we wouldn’t be here now if they didn’t bust us out.” Silver Spoon replied. “Especially after all of the mean things that we said to them over the past few weeks.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING?” Diamond Tiara shouted loudly. “You mean to tell me that you’re actually thanking those blank flanks?”

“No, but...” Silver Spoon looked over her shoulder as several members of Utopian’s Army turned to the direction of her shout and began growling angrily.

“But what?” Diamond Tiara snapped, not noticing the soldiers hearing her angry tirade.

“I don’t think that this is a good time for this...” Silver Spoon uttered, nudging her head over to the left of where they stood.

Diamond Tiara didn’t catch the hint, ignoring her friend’s signal as she continued. “We’re better than them. We have our Cutie Marks. They don’t have anything. They aren’t special,

Diamond Tiara-” Silver Spoon began, only to have her voice cut out by the other foal.

“They don’t have their Cutie Marks; they cause a lot of trouble in Ponyville,

Umm... maybe we can... You know, talk about this later...” Silver Spoon continued, the impending danger of Utopian’s ponies advancing on them by the second.

“No! I will not stand for my supposed best friend when she thinks that a bunch of second-rate, Blank Flanked, loser ponies are better than I am. Better than we are!” Diamond Tiara countered, the anger and frustration of her captivity boiling over like water from a boiling pot.


No buts Silver Spoon. We are better than they are. We are the superior ponies. We are-” Diamond Tiara stopped, her tirade and anger had been cut short as the sounds of a chorus of low rumbling growls had echoed in her ear. She turned, seeing the midnight sky colored ponies and gulped nervously.

“Well well well. Look what we have here Tuff Stuff. Two little fillies lost and alone.” A gentle voice commented behind them. Both Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon turned, and nearly let out a scream at the sights of both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace had somehow appeared behind them both.

“Well now, they don’t seem too harmless. Maybe I can toughen them up by sending them to work in the diamond quarry we captured. Or I could send them out as arrow-fodder when the war comes.” The intimidating voice of the General rumbled.

“But they’re so pretty too... Natural beauty like this would be a shame to waste on the battlefield. Maybe if they get older they can keep the soldiers happy and well entertained.” Serene Grace added, getting a hearty laugh from the General.

“Too bad that Utopian’s ordered their death warrants.” General Tuff Stuff commented. “The boys probably would have had a good enough time with them as teenagers.”

“And orders are orders.” Serene Grace added, glaring at the two nervous foals as her horn charged up with magic.

“Wh-Wh-Wh-What are you going to do with us?” Silver Spoon stammered, staring at the two ponies nervously. She reached for Diamond Tiara and held her close, staring into the eyes of what she assumed to be her own impending doom. She chanced a glance over at Diamond Tiara, watching as her rage was washed away in the place of fear.

As both foals held each other close, General Tuff Stuff chuckled. “These ones aren’t too bright are they?” He asked, receiving a nod from Serene Grace.

“Well, being born in the upper crusts of society has to have some draw backs.” She sneered, looking down on the foals with contempt. “You see dears, your going to die.” She said calmly, her horn beginning to flare up with magic.

The next thing that happened to both Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon changed them in such a way that they would eventually part company pursuing different interests entirely. As Serene Grace’s horn continued to glow, possibly to generate a spell that would potentially annihilate both foals on the spot, a soft sort of loud bong echoed throughout the valley that they were all standing in with a gentle, “Bong.” Everypony stopped to find the source of the offending sound but as they did so more of the noise continued to flood the area as if generated from a drum player.

The next few moments caused everypony to look at base of the valley wall, as at least a half dozen or more ponies all dressed in black seemed to appear out of no where. Nothing about the ponies could be seen, everything from the tips of their snouts all the way to their tails were covered in black. And based on what they appeared to be doing, they seemed to be preparing a stage.

The Captors and the captives watched in stunned silence, seeing several bamboo flags with an all black trio of stars rise from almost out of nowhere. As each of the bamboo flags rose into place, a pair of extremely long banners appeared in between the flags each bearing the same mark. The whole set up appeared to both foals that they were about to be in some sort of play, but as the drum beat continued to get faster and the banner that was closest to them moved, their reasoning was proven dead wrong.

“What the-” General Tuff Stuff gasped, at a loss for words.

“But how? You were imprisoned by Utopian’s magic!” Serene Grace snapped.

Standing before the crowd of ponies, each clad in Nipponesian attire, were five different ponies. Each one was different in a slight way, but they all appeared to belong to the same family. The pony in the exact middle of the line that they formed spoke up, her flat pink hair and cold and serious stare taking the two foals for a loop.

“You stand on this battlefield accused of high treason against the Princesses of Equestria.” She said, not moving a muscle, her outfit fluttering in a gentle breeze that now flowed through the valley. “As the Nineteenth head of the Pie Clan, I Pinkamena Diane Pie, order you to surrender or face your fate in the pits of Tartarus.”

“Of course it would be the Princesses Lapdogs out to come and do what she can’t.” General Tuff Stuff commented, surprised to hear what the crazed mare was saying. “And if we refuse your offer? Will you try to take our heads?” He smirked evilly. “Or are you unable to risk the foals we have here.”

The pink earth pony said nothing, continuing to glare at the crowd of ponies around Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. She remained silent, calculating her options at the scene. After looking at the other ponies around her, a black maned earth pony with a dark gray coat, a gray maned earth pony dark blue coat, a yellow maned pegasus pony with a white coat, and a green maned unicorn with a blue coat who sported jagged orange sunglasses, she smiled and rose onto her back legs.

“What’s she doing?” Diamond Tiara whispered nervously. Silver Spoon shrugged, watching as the other ponies in the line up also began to stand on their back legs.

The members of Utopian’s Army, even both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace watched as all five ponies used one of their hooves to pull out a weird looking oblong device. They all stared in a trance-like state almost, and only when the tops of the devices revealed themselves to conceal a brush tip did it click for the adults.

“Tuff Stuff, throw everything you have at them now!” Serene Grace demanded, watching the Earth pony nod before turning to his troops.

“All of you, get them. Get them Now!” He screamed, turning his attention back to the row of ponies, hoping that he executed his order fast enough.

“MOBILE BRUSH!” The group of five ponies declared, glaring at the charging horde of enemies that headed right for them. “WITH THESE STROKES, WE REPORT TO THE PRINCESSES!”

In that instant, time seemed to stand still. The five ponies calmly and quickly began writing with their brushes in the air, as if their strokes were recorded on a sheet of paper in front of them. Silver Spoon told Diamond Tiara later that each of the symbols that they wrote were actually the Nipponesian words for fire, water, wood, land, and heaven. When they were finished, with absolute perfect timing, they swung their writing hooves in such a way that made the symbols they had written
spin around. After another blinding flash of light, everypony stopped moving as the ponies had changed into color coordinated jumpsuits and helmets. They each had a sword that looked more like a futuristic version of a Nipponesian Katana that Samurai would use if they were from the future.

“Samurai Pony of Fire, Pinkamena Diane Pie.” The Pink mare declared, drawing her sword from its sheath with a hoof and resting it on her shoulder as she got down on all fours.

“The Same, but of Water! Octavia Marie Pie!” Her blue clad companion on the closest right declared, drawing her own sword but bringing it gently across an invisible cello in front of her.

“The Same, but of the Heavens! Bellamina Ann Pie!” The mare in pink declared, who was furthest from the right, gracefully drawing her sword and bringing it close to her heart.

“The Same, but of the Forest! Humble Alexander Pie!” The only stallion in the line up that was the closest to left of the pink mare declared, drawing a hoof across the dull side of the blade.

“The Same, but of the Land! Surprise Lydia Pie!” The pegasus mare in yellow finished, leaping into the air and dancing a little in her spot, furthest from the center on the left.

After the roll calls were finished, everypony except for the one clad in red presented their swords before sheathing them and getting down on one of their back knees. As they did so, Pinkamena slowly drew her hoof along the bottom of the sword she held as she said, “We are the Samurai Ponies Authorized by Faust’s Providence!” At the end of that statement, the four kneeling ponies got up on their back hooves, drawing their swords with them as they went before they all slashed them downward.

“Shinkenger!” The group of five declared at once. “Going forth!”

The five jumpsuit-clad ponies then charged forward, all wielding their swords to meet the members of Utopian’s Army. They appeared to be outnumbered at least three to one, but as both sides met with each other, the levels of skill were staggered more towards the foals’ would-be saviors. The katana wielding warriors fluidly and gracefully danced around their foes attacks. It was as if that they had spent all of their lives practicing for battle, and had successfully honed their craft as foals.

The mare in red was the most skilled of them all, blocking three simultaneous attacks from three of Utopian’s soldiers before returning them with a slash across their masks. Another follower attempted to swing its own sword at the red clad mare, only to have it blocked by her blade. The red clad mare then retaliated with a strike of her own, knocking the offending follower to the ground.

The other ponies weren’t having any problems with the minions that they faced either. The stallion in green was surrounded by at least ten or twelve of the enemy, and took a deep breath before removing the guard on his blade. After placing it on the buckle on his belt, it changed colors from black to green before he replaced it on his sword. “Let’s see how you guys like my Wooden Spear!” He cried, spinning the guard on the sword as it disappeared in place of an actual spear with the Nipponesian symbol for Wood on the end. “Who in the hay do you think we are?” He roared, charging into the group of ponies that were trying to surround him.

“You think we should tell him?” Surprise, the mare in yellow asked her fellow combatant Bellamina.

“Let’s let him figure it out.” Bellamina answered, blocking the attacks of two more of Utopian’s followers before responding with a group of attacks of her own.

The only ponies who weren’t saying anything about the green clad stallion’s comment were both Ponyville’s pink party mare herself and the pony clad in blue. Calmly she repeated the same action that her brother had done, and removed her sword guard from her weapon before replacing it with a bright red one. After giving it a mighty swing the sword grew in size, looking like it was capable of cleaving a pony in half with a single strike.

“Pinkamena, are you sure you should be unleashing your weapon now?” Octavia asked nervously, putting two more of the enemy soldiers down with the dull side of her blade.

“Don’t be so sure Octavia, they aren’t the only ones who have entered the fight.” Pinkamena replied, staring across the valley landscape as both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace had joined the fray. “I’m going forth.” She said calmly, charging at the two ponies with her large sword drawn.

As more and more of their followers fell in battle, both Serene Grace and Tuff Stuff picked the ponies that were doing the most damage to their numbers. A blast of magical energies erupted from Serene Grace’s horn as both Humble Pie and Surprise leapt at her. “Here’s a present from me to you! My Land Star Barrier!” Surprise cried, her sword changing into a multi-bladed ninja star which reflected the attack back at her. Humble then swung the back end of his spear into the opposing unicorn, which knocked her backwards several feet.

As Serene Grace was flung back, Tuff Stuff held up his hooves as several shots of blue energy that came from a bow that Octavia carried and aimed directly at him. He slid back at the impact, and looked up as Pinkamena’s massive sword met his hooves which caused a massive shockwave on impact. He took several steps back, blocking another attack that came from another massive horizontal swing from the pink mare’s sword. He leapt forward, bringing his massive hooves down on the mare only to find the massive blade where her face was. He let out an angry roar, bringing his hooves down on the mare, only to be blasted by another set of blue energy bolts. Tuff Stuff looked up, watching as the mare in pink’s blade changed into a fan in the light. The pony then swung her fan in the direction of the general, which created a tornado that lifted him off of his hooves and knocked him back to the ground. General Tuff Stuff tried to right himself without noticing the pony he was fighting originally.

“You’re distracted!” Pinkamena declared, swinging her massive sword with the sharp edge first, which knocked him skyward.

Meanwhile, Serene Grace found herself on the defensive. Attacks from both Humble and Surprise were keeping her from helping the General. Both ponies’ weapons were keeping her focused on using her defensive barrier spells as opposed returning their attacks back towards them. With each successive hit, she could feel the strength of her magic waning until,

“Let’s Finish this Surprise!” Humble cried, leaping into the air with the pegasus pony. Humble thrusted his spear into the unicorn’s barrier, which pierced and shattered her spell. Surprise followed the attack by throwing her star directly at the unicorn’s hooves, which caused the earth from underneath to crack and shatter. Serene Grace stumbled backwards, just as an explosion knocked her flying several feet towards the fallen form of General Tuff Stuff.

As the five color coordinated ponies met back up with each other, their weapons returned back to their original katana. General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace staggered back to their hooves while their own remaining followers staggered to their side.

“Are you guys ready to finish this?” Pinkamena asked, resting her now smaller sword on her shoulder.

“Of course we are little sister.” Octavia replied.

“So, are we going to try that?” Bellamina asked, receiving a nod from Pinkamena.

“Of course we are. We’re the team who’s going to pierce through the darkness!” Humble cried, taking his sword in both of his hooves.

“All the ponies out there are going to enjoy this surprise. Especially since you’re our team leader Pinkie!” Surprise said happily.

Pinkamena nodded, grasping her belt buckle with her open hoof and opening it. She smiled, removing her sword’s guard a second time and placing it in the buckle. A half a second later, she reopened her buckle and withdrew her red guard, and put it in place of the original guard of the blade. The other ponies followed her motions, and stood firm as a mystic energy erupted from the source of the blades. “Hidden Sword, Disk Art!” She declared, which caused the General
and Serene Grace to look up.

“Tuff Stuff, what do we do?” Serene Grace asked desperately, watching as the earth pony shook his head.

“We pray. It’s all we can do now.” He said, watching the blades erupt with colored magical energy.

The group of Utopian’s ponies, all trembled as the unnatural pressure that emanated from the incoming attack. The group of Pies all began letting an unnatural yell as the energy from their swords increased ten-fold every second they held
their blades aloft. After a few more moments of waiting, Pinkamena charged at their group, followed by the other members of her small team.

“Dance of the Blessed Heavens!” Bellamina cried, swinging her sword which unleashed a hurricane force wind that slammed into the opposition with a force that would have made a dragon envious.

“Dance of the Surging Waves!” Octavia cried, swinging her sword in a diagonal motion to her right before bringing the blade back over and crossing it to form an X. A huge wall of water then formed from the blade strike, slamming into the crowd of their opposition with the force of a tsunami.

“Dance of the Vibrant Woods!” Humble Pie cried, spearing his blade deep into the earth. The residual energy from his sword caused the earth from beneath the hooves of Utopian’s forces to begin to glow before erupting into a massive collection of small trees.

“Dance of the Shattering Land!” Surprise shouted, following suit with Humble’s attack and spearing her own sword into the earth. The trees from Humble’s attack immediately disappeared as the ground began to quake and erupt and shattered beneath their hooves. The ground quaked, and knocked them all backwards and sending them flying.

With a leap and a battle cry, Pinkamena leapt into the air and shouted, “The Finisher! Dance of the Blazing Flames!” She brought her blade down in between the crowd of ponies in front of her, before swinging her sword horizontally with a wave of fire towards their number.

As the five color clad ponies landed, they sheathed their swords and turned their backs on General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace. With a loud agonizing scream, the group of ponies fell to the ground as explosions erupted amongst their crowd. As the smoke cleared, the only ponies that remained were both General Tuff Stuff and Serene Grace lying on the ground and unconscious.

Both Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon remained quiet after the battle. Neither one of them said a word as the five jumpsuit-clad ponies sheathed their swords and turned to the foals. They said nothing, wincing a little as the red clad party pony slowly advanced on them.

“You two promise that you won’t tell any pony that you saw us right?” Pinkamena asked earnestly, watching both foals nod. “Great. Well then, we’ll be off now. You two can’t say a word of this to anypony.”

“Jeez Pinkie, you sound more like a gangster than a hero of justice.” Humble commented, trotting over to the party mare. “But you two can’t tell anypony about what just happened. Seriously, we don’t need that kind of press.”

“We want it to be a big surprise!” The pegasus pony exclaimed, watching the foals jump a little.

“Now everypony, you have to head back home. We need to make ourselves scarce if we want this chapter to close.” Pinkamena said calmly.

And as she said that, both foals watched as their rescuers shared a nod before dashing away and out of sight.

As both foals tried to process what they had just witnessed, a low rumbling groan caused them both to look over to the top of the massive temple they had just escaped from before nodding together.

“We need to get out of here.” They said at the same time.

Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader!

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Chapter 15

-Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader!-

Meanwhile back inside the Temple, the fighting was fierce. Utopian’s forces seemed to have the upper hand in numbers, but that advantage dwindled as the fight continued.

“Why?” Wonderwing shouted at his father, blocking another slash attack that was sent his way. “Why would you attack Equestria? Why would you make ponies hurt each other against their will? Why would you try to hurt Mommy?” Wonderwing asked, evading a horizontal slash from his father’s sword.

“Why? Why else Task Force.” Utopian scoffed, glaring at his son. “Equestria is a disease riddled nation with a pair of rulers who only listen to the bureaucrats that are in power. They’re weak, and do not see the glorious new world that I have planed for ponies everywhere.” The unicorn used his magic to bring the blade down on top of the pegasus, only to watch him roll away. “Your mother is one of those pathetic foals that did not see the truth even when it stared at her in the face and stabbed her in the back. She’s a weak one, and will never truly understand what it means to be a ruler.”

“You’re sick you know that?” Scootaloo snapped, bringing the blade of her saber down on Utopian who blocked it with a magical barrier.

“And you’re wide open commoner filth!” Utopian roared, swinging the blade at Scootaloo’s exposed chest. She flipped away just in time, narrowly avoiding the deadly edge of the weapon that Utopian was using before charging back at the unicorn. Utopian, still recovering from the miss of his first swing, hastily threw up another barrier to block Scootaloo’s attack until he was ready for her.

“And what about me Daddy?” Wonderwing asked. “Why did you try to kill me and my friends? Why are you doing it now?”

Utopian laughed, bringing the blade back around to his right where Wonderwing stood and narrowly striking the foal with it. He glared angrily at Wonderwing before continuing his mad tirade. “You are being punished Task Force.” He snapped, swinging the blade over his body and bringing it down into the altar. “You have deliberately disobeyed me. This commoner trash has convinced you that this world is supposedly worth saving, when parasites like the gryphons or the bulls or even the ram all still live. You let your naivety get to you, and this is what happens to ponies like you.”

“But this world is worth saving!” Wonderwing snapped, avoiding another attack that his father sent his way before charging the unicorn. Utopian didn’t have too much time to react, as the foal closed the gap within a matter of seconds and slammed his shield right through his own barrier before plowing Utopian into a wall. “If you would stop this and see that what your doing is wrong, then you can appreciate all that this world has to offer.”

The pegasus was met with a magical blast at point blank range which caused him to fly back and slam into the altar, which was smashed into several pieces. The other crusaders and the Elements of Harmony watched with horror as Utopian began to glow a dull green, his mane and tail erupting into blazes of Green flame as his robe was burned away.

“Uh Twilight,” Applejack began, witnessing the spectacle but not believing her eyes. “Can unicorns do that?” She asked.

“It’s called rage shifting Applejack.” Rarity explained, panting a little as the battle began to take it’s toll on her. “A rage shift is something that happens to unicorns when they are in times of extreme stress, or are in need of more power. Nopony can control it, it comes naturally and goes as it wants to.”

Rainbow Dash, who was holding Crimson Heart with a sleeper hold, blinked and looked down at the scene. “Anyone wanna explain what’s going on to mister green eyes here?” She asked.

“Simply put, Utopian just took the kiddy shoes off.” Twilight answered, her own rage shifted form not as impressive as Utopians. “Though I have to say this is really impressive.”

“Great, now she’s complimenting the guy?” Rainbow Dash moaned, watching out of the corner of one of her eyes as Pinkie Pie merrily skipped back into the temple before proceeding to blast a group of Utopian’s soldiers with her party cannon.

“This is the end of you Task Force.” Utopian said, his voice echoing due to the increase of his magical power. His horn began to glow a bright neon green which began to become consumed by an all black energy. Utopian looked down on the pegasus, who tried to reach for the shield before smiling crookedly. “I hope you enjoy oblivion. Your stupid mother will be there to join you shortly.” He said, unleashing an extremely large wave of black and green energy.

“WONDERWING!” Everypony shouted.

Before anypony could react, before anypony could see anything at all, there was a resilient flash of bright light as the energy wave impacted something. Wonderwing sat up and blinked a little, watching as Scootaloo was giving her all to hold back the blast with her saber.

“Glad to see you back!” Scootaloo cried, straining herself against the energy attack with all her little might. Wonderwing rushed over to her, planting his shield against the energy wave and holding firm.

“Thanks for the help Scootaloo.” Wonderwing said gratefully.

“A Cutie Mark Crusader never leaves one of their own behind.” Scootaloo replied.

Utopian scoffed as both pegasi struggled to hold his beam of magic back. “You think that another foal makes any difference? I am Utopian, future King of Equestria! You are all maggots before my hooves!”

“We’re right here with you guys!” Sweetie Belle shouted, using her hooves to hold back the barrier.

“Ya’ll taint gonna hurt mah friends while Ah’m still buckin!” Applebloom snapped, following Sweetie Belle’s example. The combined effort of the four foals seemed to have an affect on the wave of energy, which caused it to slowdown significantly to slower than a snail’s crawl.

“The Cutie Mark Crusaders are going to stop you Mr. Meanie head!” Dinky shouted, following the other foals and planted her hooves on the energy wave next to Scootaloo.

“A true gentleman wouldn’t dare stoop to this level. Any less is just appalling sir.” Pipsqueak added. “You sir, ‘ave no ‘onor, an’ need to be taught a lesson in humility.” He said before putting his hooves on the demented unicorn’s attack.

“Thith one’th for everypony in Equethtria!” Twist said, planting her hooves on the energy attack and effectively stopped it from moving at all.

Everypony stopped fighting, staring at the battle of wills that was currently happening. Utopian, who clearly had the advantage in every way, was being held back by the Cutie Mark Crusaders and he didn’t like it.

“What sorcery is this?” Utopian snapped. “There is no power greater than a rage shifted unicorn’s own magic!”

“That’s where you’re wrong Father.” Wonderwing said from behind the blast of energy. “This power that we have, this unbreakable bond that we all share is stronger than any of the darkest magicks in all of Tartarus.” Taking a step forward.

“Our light will defeat your darkness.” Sweetie Belle continued, taking a step forward.

“We learned a lot from this trip. And from everything and everypony that had pushed us to this point. We wont lose here!” Scootaloo roared, stepping in time with Sweetie Belle and Wonderwing.

“Ahr friends and family are countin’ on us ta come home safely, you ain’t keepin’ me from mah big brother and sister!” Applebloom shouted, taking a step forward with the other foals.

“Momma says that I’m extra super special every day, I don’t want her to lose me because of a big dumb pony who doesn’t know what having friends is supposed to mean!” Dinky snapped, following the other foals in front of her and taking a step with them in turn.

“We’re all ‘ere on Equestria once, an’ the friends we make now are going to make an impact on our futures!” Pipsqueak shouted. “You sir aren’t going to have an impact, because you won’t win today or any other day from this day on!” He took a step forward, keeping up with the other foals.

“We all may not be big ponieth in your eyeth, but we have heart!” Twist added, taking a step forward with the other foals. “And that heart ith what we’re gonna beat you with!”

The foals then began to advance, pushing the energy attack back at Utopian. The Elements of Harmony watched with wonder as Utopian’s horn glowed brighter than a blazing inferno and stopped their steady advance for only a few seconds before they started again. The unicorn maintained his stoic face even as the gap of the attack got shorter and shorter.

“Father, you were robbed in your life.” Wonderwing began calmly glaring at the unicorn from both behind his visor and his shield. He knew that he couldn’t see his father, but he could feel that he was beginning to get desperate. “You lost your mommy and daddy when you were really little, but that doesn’t give you the reason to do what you’ve done. I’m sorry for you, I really am.”


“And that’s why I’m sorry for you.” Wonderwing said firmly. “You spent your foalhood trying to get revenge and look what it’s got you, no friends. No family, you’ll be alone for the rest of eternity.”

“YOU THINK THAT I WILL BE ALONE?” Utopian roared, watching the wave of energy continue to shrink until it got down to the size of a giant ball. “MILLIONS OF PONIES FROM EVERYWHERE WILL LOVE AND ADORE ME, I WILL BE THE RULER OF THIS WORLD! DO YOU HEAR ME? I WILL RULE ALL, ALL WILL BE UNDER MY CONTROL! YOU’LL SEE, I’LL SHOW YOU ALL!”

Wonderwing shook his head gently before turning his head to the other Crusaders.

“You guys ready?” Scootaloo asked, watching as the other foals nodded. With a mighty heave, they pushed the energy attack as hard as they could, watching as the spell touched Utopian’s horn. The adult unicorn screamed in pain as the blast of energy returned to his horn as an explosion sent the crusaders flying backwards. As it happened, the undead ponies that were currently in battle with the Elements of Harmony immediately collapsed, turning into dust before they hit the floor.

“Applebloom!” Applejack cried, rushing over to the fallen foals all of which were no longer in their jumpsuits.

“Oh my dear Sweetie Belle!” Rarity followed, rushing over to the unicorn.

“Oh crap, Scootaloo!” Rainbow Dash cried, descending on the fallen foals.

Crimson Heart looked across the Temple floor and saw that Utopian lay on the floor, neither moving nor breathing. He flew over to the fallen unicorn and checked his pulse before snorting angrily. “It figures something like that would happen.” The pegasus snapped, turning to face the Elements of Harmony who were all glaring at him. “I’m never one to run from a fight that I know I can win, but this isn’t winnable. We’ll meet again Elements of Harmony.” Crimson Heart snapped. Before anypony could make a move, he flapped his wings powerfully once blinding the grounded ponies before taking off through one of the temple’s skylights.

“That coward, why I oughta...” Rainbow Dash snapped, taking off a little before being dragged down by Applejack. “Hey AJ, what gives?” She asked, looking down at the cowpony.

“We don’ need ta be fightin’ that Crimson Heart feller after he’s ahlready flown th’ coop.” Applejack replied. “ ‘Sides, we got younguns to git outta here.”

“Oh, right.” Rainbow Dash said, dropping down to the ground as the foals stirred. “Hey, they’re okay!” She exclaimed, watching as one by one everyone of the foals tried to rise on their wobbly hooves, almost like newborn foals.

“Did we...” Wonderwing began, clutching his head with his hooves. “Did we win?” He asked.

“You could say that.” Twilight answered.

“You mean we beat Wonderwing’s dad?” Scootaloo asked.

“It looks that way squirt.” Rainbow Dash reported.

“Ehehehe, well we won’t be doin’ this anytime soon.” Applebloom said, getting back to her hooves first.

“Ah should expect not. Ya’ll could’ve been hurt or killed jus’ now!” Applejack scolded.

“And I should have expected better from you Sweetie Belle, I mean coming after us was flattering and all but we could have handled ourselves nicely.” Rarity added.

“Says the pony who had herself tied up and captured...” Sweetie Belle mumbled.

“So, what do we do now?” Dinky asked.

“Do we have Super Hero Cutie Marks?” Scootaloo exclaimed, which caused all the blank flanked foals to look down
and still see that their flanks were bare.

“You mean that after all that work,” Sweetie Belle groaned, hanging her head in defeat with the other crusaders.

“Ahll of that time,” Applebloom added.

“And all of that energy was wasted?” Pipsqueak moaned.

“Thatth a real bummer.” Twist moaned.

“Don’t worry guys, at least you can try and get another Cutie Mark when we get back home! Well after your done with your groundings, and your recovery, maybe after a Saved the World Party Because we’re awesome-”

“Pinkie!” Everypony shouted, causing the party pony to giggle a little before falling silent.

“Don’t... Count... Me... Out... Just... Yet.” A voice groaned from behind them. Everypony stared in shock as Utopian staggered to his hooves, a wicked smile forming on his lips as he limped and stumbled over to where the ceremonial knife was.

“B-But that’s not possible!” Rarity exclaimed.

“That much magic returning to your horn should have killed you!” Twilight said, tensing up a little.

“Maybe for those who do not wish to become gods like myself Twilight Sparkle.” Utopian rasped, weakly picking up the dagger with his magic.

“Uh, guys... Maybe we should stop him?” Pinkie Pie said, watching the demented unicorn closely. “Uh guys?”

Nopony said a word, the other Elements of Harmony were too disturbed and shocked at the sight of Utopian still standing after his struggle with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “With the power of Harmony, and the dark entities of Necromancy... I sacrifice this soul whose innocence is peerless to others. May the powers of the great Grimclaw the Terrible, Sphinx God of the Griffons descend into this mortal shell and grant me immortality!”

Just as Utopian finished the incantation, Pinkie Pie and the Crusaders charged at him. They all stopped in mid-charge however as the blade was thrust into Utopian’s own chest, which caused him to drop onto the shattered altar. Wonderwing couldn’t help but scream as the life drained away from Utopian’s eyes, leaving a shattered body behind them.

As soon as his blood touched the shattered altar, the room started to shake violently. Pinkie’s tail began to twitch, and almost a hair of a second later she tackled the Crusaders and shoved them all out of the way as a gigantic section of the roof came crashing down on where they were standing just seconds later.

“The Temple is coming apart!” Twilight shouted, leaping out of the way of another piece of the ceiling. “Everypony out, NOW!”

With Pinkie Pie leading the group together, and her tail keeping them all safe, both the Elements of Harmony and the Cutie Mark Crusaders all began to make their escape. Wonderwing could only steal one last glance at his father’s corpse before following everypony else.

“Come on you guys, Let’s move it!” Rainbow Dash shouted, far outpacing the group of land bound ponies. She stopped, watching as several pillars began to crash down on top of their group before diving to action and keeping the pillars off of them.

“You guys! We’re in the Load Bearing Boss segment of the story!” Pinkie shouted, galloping ahead of everypony else.

“Pinkie Pie, this is not the time for you being you!” Rarity snapped. “It’s life or death here and frankly I’d appreciate it if we all could make it out in one piece!” She added, avoiding another boulder that came from the ceiling.

“Come on Everypony!” Twilight shouted, using her magic to form a shield around them. “We’re almost there!”

“Uh... Um... Oh my... Girls?” Fluttershy asked.

“Not now Fluttershy.” Twilight said.

“Girls?” Fluttershy repeated, looking over her shoulder and seeing an all black miasma ooze from behind them where
the altar was. It seemed to creep closer and closer, and by her count it didn’t look friendly.

“Fluttershy, this isn’t the time!” Rarity snapped, continuing to run.

“Uh, you may wanna see this...” Rainbow Dash said, seeing the black miasma that made Fluttershy so nervous. Everypony else chanced a glance over their shoulders, seeing the cloud of inky blackness that was steadily gaining ground on them. They all let out a scream, before beginning to run faster.

“What in tarnation is that Twi?” Applejack asked, continuing to run as fast as her hooves could go.

“I don’t know but what ever it is, don’t let it near you!” Twilight shouted back, seeing the blasted remains of the front
door just a few more yards away from them. “Come on Everypony! We’re almost there!”

With Twilight’s encouragement, foals and adults alike continued to go faster. When it seemed like the foals weren’t
going to be able to keep up, Rainbow Dashed swooped in and began planting foals on each one of the escaping pony’s
backs. When everypony was on safely, she flew back above them to keep the stone pillars from crushing them all.

With hope in their hearts, and their goal in sight, the Elements of Harmony and their foal passengers pushed even harder. Even when they made it outside and well beyond the reach of the griffon statues they continued to run. Only when Twilight looked over her shoulder and stopped did everypony stop and follow suit. The black miasma appeared to only be collecting from within the temple as none of it threatened where they were outside.

“We should be safe for now.” Twilight said, hearing a chorus of cheers from everypony else.

“IT SEEMS THAT EVEN A SMALL VICTORY HAS CLOUDED THE ELEMENT OF MAGIC’S JUDGEMENT...” A booming voice called out from inside the temple. Everypony gasped, watching as a gigantic all black claw reached out from the inside of the temple, before reeling back inside in pain.

“What in the hay was that?” Scootaloo asked.

“Ah don’ know, but we ahll need ta be ready for anythin.” Applebloom replied.

“Whatever it is, you kids aren’t getting anywhere near it.” Rarity ordered.

“But-” The foals all moaned.

“You heard me, you will not be endangering your lives trying to play super hero. Is that quite clear?” Rarity snapped.

“Ah’d hate to say it, ‘specially since ya’ll saved ahr lives and practically Equestria, but Rarity’s right. Ya’ll need ta stay back.” Applejack said, hearing grumbling from the other foals.

“It won’t matter...” Wonderwing said quietly. “Dad’ll just try to kill us next if he beats you guys.”

“And what makes you think that’s your father in there?” Fluttershy asked.

“Because...” Wonderwing said somberly, glaring at the temple with hate. “He likes to make things clean. He’s going to
take no prisoners. That’s how he taught me to act, and that’s how he acted most of the time. And he’s not the kind of pony that would be beaten so easily in a fight. Or at least that’s what he told me.”

“So, your saying that we could get killed either way?” Dinky asked.

“No, I’m saying that for anypony to stand a chance we need to work together.” Wonderwing replied. “We started this
fight, we can help finish it.”

The older ponies stared dumbfounded at the little foal’s declaration. Before any of the adults could react, Scootaloo stepped forward. “Well then, let’s do it together. You aren’t going in there alone.” She said.

“Hey there squirt, maybe you need to-”

“Sorry Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo said calmly. “But we’re just as involved with this as you are.” She smiled. “And do
you honestly think that we’re going to stay back after doing something so cool not ten minutes ago?” She asked.

“Ah’m in.” Applebloom said, watching her sister’s face shake her head. “We taint got much choice. You need our help an’ we have a bully to stop.”

“You guys aren’t going to have all the fun without us are you?” Sweetie Belle asked, as she, Dinky, Pipsqueak, and Twist all stepped forward.

The adults all gave the foals serious looks, which were returned by the foals. No pony wanted to budge an inch on the issue until Twilight coughed to get everypony’s attention.

“We all know that you would like to help but-”

“Sorry Twilight, we’re going to help you with this monster here.” Scootaloo said, glaring at the adults. “You saw what we did the first time, didn’t you? I’m sure that everything’s going to work out just fine in the end.”

“It usually does in these types of situations at the end of movies like this.” Pinkie Pie replied.

“That’s not helping Pinkie.” Rarity snapped.

“Trust us, we have an ace up our sleeve.” Wonderwing said, smirking a little.

“A PITY THAT THOSE WOULD BE YOUR LAST WORDS MORTALS!” The voice, which sounded a lot like Utopian’s, scoffed. “FORGET ABOUT KEEPING YOURSELVES APART, YOU WILL ALL DIE TOGETHER!” The voice roared, as a massive explosion of black energy erupted from the temple which leveled it and knocked everypony onto their backs. As they all got up to see what had hit them, they were met with the most disgusting looking creature ever to be seen in Equestria ever. Instead of a Sphinx like the one depicted in Utopian’s book, the creature was everything that was far from it. An all black carapace covered most of its hard body with the exception of its black bat like wings and its face. The face, which didn’t remotely resemble a human’s, appeared to be the cross of a stag beetle’s and a unicorns with the horn resembling another mandible that didn’t grow properly. The monstrosity’s legs ended in talons as opposed to hooves, and a gigantic hairy scorpion tail swayed from side to side as the stinger oozed out a poisonous venom. The beast, however intimidating it was, was no bigger than an alicorn and a remotely small one at that.

“YOU WILL ALL SUFFER AT MY NEW POWERS!” The beast snapped, roaring at the crowd of ponies.

“You guys ready?” Scootaloo asked the other crusaders.

“Ready!” The other foals shouted.

“ACTIVATE! CRUSADER CHANGER!” They all cried, lightly tapping their hooves against the glass of their
wristwatches. The Elements of Harmony all had to shield their eyes at the flashes of light, watching as the foals were all now clad in their super suits, each with a look of determination that could not be seen from the outside of their helmets.

Scootaloo reared up on her back legs before beating her wings. “Red Pegasus Crusader!”

Sweetie Belle made to flick a bang from her mane from out of her face with one of her hooves. “Blue Unicorn Crusader!”

Applebloom cracked her shoulders slightly as she began to stretch and warm up like she was ready to rumble. “Yellow Earth Pony Crusader!”

Dinky smiled, spinning on one of her hooves before falling lightly to the ground. “Pink Unicorn Crusader!” She said after climbing back up.

Twist followed Applebloom’s example and began stretching a little before dropping back on all fours. “White Earth Pony Cruthader!”

Wonderwing stood back on the back of his back hooves before bowing. “Black Pegasus Crusader!”

Pipsqueak drew a small pirate cutlass from its holster and ran one of his hooves around the dull end. “Brown Pirate Crusader!”

“We are the defenders of the blank flank,” Wonderwing began.

“We protect those ponies who found out how they were special,” Dinky said proudly.

“We are always on the quest for our own marks,” Sweetie Belle added, taking an aggressive stance along side her friends.

“Ahr cause is noble and just,” Applebloom reported, following everypony’s suit.

“We thtop bad ponieth like you,” Twist added.

“We’ll never stop our journey,” Pipsqueak said, as every one of the foals looked towards Scootaloo.

“Because we’re the Cutie Mark Sentai!” Scootaloo paused as everypony was on the same page.

“CRUSADER!” The foals all shouted at once, ignoring a series of small explosions from behind them in their own respective colors.

“TRANSFORMED OR NO, IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. YOU WILL DIE!” The beast roared, firing a blast of venom from its tail. The Cutie Mark Crusaders all rolled out of the way, avoiding the attack as quick as they could. They then charged the beast, each of them drawing their weapons as they did so before commencing their attack on the monster.

“Come on you guys, they can use our help!” Pinkie Pie said, galloping after them. The other Elements remained stunned for a few moments before snapping to their senses and following the pink mare into the fray.

“Take this!” Scootaloo shouted, bringing her blade down on the beast. Her attack wasn’t fast enough as one of his
talons slashed at her and knocked her backwards.

“Scootaloo!” Sweetie Belle shouted. “How dare you!” She roared, twisting the knob on her megaphone before letting out a high pitched scream. The beast staggered back for a moment before throwing its tail at her. The attack was blocked
by a purple energy shield, which caused the beast to look up.

“You keep your filthy tail off of my sister!” Rarity roared, using her magic to pick up a modestly sized piece of rubble before chucking it at the beast. It let out an angry roar, using its mandibles to catch and crush the boulder before turning her attention to her.

“Oh no you don’t!” Scootaloo snapped, leaping back at the beast and sticking her blade right into its tail.

“All right squirt!” Rainbow Dash cheered, diving down to grab the foal before the beast’s claws could grab her.

As the fight continued, Wonderwing blocked attacks from the beast as Applebloom and Applejack tripped up its legs. They gave a temporary cheer but moaned as the beast got back up and swiped at them with its tail.

Dinky, Twist and Pipsqueak were on the beast’s right side, protecting Fluttershy with a healthy stream of energy blasts
and strikes as the pegasus recovered from getting kicked in the face, jumping back as the beast swung its tail a second time to keep them off of its side. It tried to swing its tail a second time, only to see that it had been severed at the base of the stinger which caused it to howl in agony.

The constant effort of the Elements of Harmony and the Cutie Mark Crusaders had significantly weakened and hampered its attempts to kill them all, until it let out an agonized roar that sent a shockwave which knocked back all of its assailants and gave it space to move around.

“YOUR EFFORTS HAVE BEEN SLIGHTLY IMPRESSIVE...” The beast commented as the Cutie Mark Crusaders staggered together. “BUT THEY ARE FUTILE. YOU WILL DIE NOW!” The beast roared, firing several blasts of energy from his eyes at the Crusaders, knocking them to the ground in a hail of explosions.

Rarity and Applejack both let out screams of terror at the sight of the merciless bombardment, watching their sisters fall before they were obscured by the smoke. The beast began laughing, watching the misery that he was causing. As both Rarity and Applejack mourned for a moment, a small blast of energy erupted from the cloud of smoke and struck the beast dead on in the chest.


“Somepony doesn’t read a lot of fiction stories then.” Scootaloo said confidently. “The thing is, the good guys are supposed to win. And the bad guys are supposed to lose.”

“And we’re the good guys here.” Sweetie Belle snapped.

“Ya’ll taint gonna believe what Wonderwing cooked up on our way here fore you shot us down!” Applebloom said happily.

“How about we show them instead of tell them?” Wonderwing asked. The other foals nodded before their hooves clutched their weapons again.

“Let’s go guys!” Scootaloo declared.

“ASSEMBLE! CRUSADER BAZOOKA!” The foals all shouted, tossing their weapons into the air. A flash of light blinded everypony on the battlefield for a few moments, before an extremely weird looking cannon descended into their hooves.

The cannon, which appeared to have Pipsqueak and Sweetie Belle’s weapons as the base like the stock of a rifle, Scootaloo Twist and Dinky’s weapons like the barrel of a rifle, and Applebloom and Wonderwing’s weapon’s as both a sight and a hoof handle, had spots for all of the foals to grab on to. Scootaloo stood in the back, with Sweetie Belle and Applebloom on her left and right, Dinky and Twist on their respective sides, and Pipsqueak and Wonderwing kneeling in the front on their respective sides, who all kept the weapon trained on the beast with deadly proficiency.


“You need to shut up and stop underestimating your opponents.” Scootaloo commented. “Especially when you’re about to lose. Is everypony ready?” She asked.

“Ready!” The foals all shouted together in unison.

“CRUSADER BAZOOKA, FIRE!” They all shouted, lurching backwards as a wave of golden energy erupted from the cannon and slammed into the beast. He tried to struggle, and was successful for the first few seconds but as the attack continued it proved to be too much, and punched a hole right in the dead center of the creature’s armor. The beast let out a gurgling roar, groaning as his life began to expire a second time before dropping to his knees.

“BUT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE... URGH... THE KING OF EQUESTRIA... I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!” The beast roared, falling over on his side before being engulfed in a fiery explosion.

“All right!” Scootaloo cheered, as she and the other foals reverted back to normal. “We won!” She exclaimed.

“Oh my gosh! Are you alright!” Twilight exclaimed, galloping over to the crusaders.

“Totally cool you guys. I’d have to say about fifteen percent cool.” Rainbow Dash commented.

“Really Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked, trotting over to the pegasus. “Wouldn’t you say that it was more than twenty?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “Nah, they’re still kids. When they get older I’ll admit it then.”

“Hey!” Sweetie Belle snapped. “We saved your feathery butt!”

“Sweetie Belle, calm down. What you did was very cool indeed.” Rarity chided. “Though don’t expect to ever do it again. It’s not happening.”

“Same goes fer you Applebloom.” Applejack scolded. “You don’t need to be gettin’ in ta somethin like this again.

“Yes ma’am.” Applebloom replied.

They all turned to hear a quiet sniffle from behind them, watching as Wonderwing was sitting down near where the monster was destroyed.

“Wonderwing... Wonderwing, what’s wrong?” Twilight asked, trotting over to the crying pegasus.

“Why...” Wonderwing uttered, a small set of tears dropping onto the ground. “Why did daddy do it?” He asked, looking up at Twilight. “He had every chance. He could have been a good pony, why did he have to throw it away?”

“Nopony could say why he did what he did.” Twilight said as the everyone else ran over to him.

“Your daddy wasn’t all right in the head Wonderwing.” Scootaloo said.

“He’s not somepony that you would have convinced easily anyways.” Sweetie Belle said. “Besides, you have us.”

“Yeah, we’re all here for you Wonderwing!” Dinky exclaimed.

“Ya’ll don’ need ta be sad anymore. You’re a Crusader, and bein’ one means ya’llre one fer life.” Applebloom said,
lightly bumping Wonderwing with a hoof.

“You also have a mommy back home who loveth you too. Remember that.” Twist reminded.

“We’re not leavin’ you an’ you aren’t leavin’ you. You remember that.” Pipsqueak said.

Wonderwing wiped his eyes and looked back at all the other foals that were comforting him. They were all right, and
after sighing he smiled and got to his hooves. “You guys are right. My daddy may not have been somepony who loved me, but I have Mommy and you guys who love me. And that’s all that matters.” He said, smiling.

“It seems that you guys have really gained something from following us.” Twilight commented.

“Ah’d sure say so.” Applejack said.

“I concur.” Rarity added.

“You guys are really going to go far you know.” Pinkie Pie complimented.

“Ah’d hate ta be the stick in th’ mud though... We don’ have a ride ta git back home.” Applejack commented, turning to
Utopian’s battleship and seeing the holes that were punched in the hull of the balloon of the airship. “Dang thang dun’ shot
holes in his own airship...”

“I could fly us home.” Rainbow Dash offered.

“That seems unlikely.” Rarity commented, getting the pegasus angry at her. “Not to offend your skills, but you could hardly make the trip by yourself. How are you going to transport nine foals and the six of us by yourself?” She asked.

“Hey I could do it!” Rainbow Dash snapped. “But how about you count everypony again. I only see seven foals.”

“What about Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon?” Fluttershy asked. “They escaped the temple before it collapsed.”

“Oh, they’re fine.” Pinkie Pie reported. “They’ve been hiding by that pillar there ever since we got back.” She said, pointing at the first set of pillars that were closest to Utopian’s warship. They poked their heads out ever so slightly, trembling as they nervously approached them.

“Oh.” Rainbow Dash commented, watching as the foals approached their group.

“Well what are we going to do now?” Wonderwing asked, his eyes scanning the temple grounds and finding nothing that would get them home.

“Guys look!” Pipsqueak shouted, pointing a hoof to the sky. Everypony watched as an entire fleet of Equestrian Battleships had appeared into view, with Princess Celestia and Luna’s own Flagship The Faust as though they had come out of thin air. The ponies and foals all moved out of the way as the fleet descended onto their reunion, making everypony nervous, but glad to see some familiar faces.

-Aboard the Faust, several hours later.-

As both the Elements of Harmony and the Cutie Mark Crusaders recounted their tale for both Princess Celestia and Luna, none of them tried to show any fatigue of any kind. The Princesses both listened to their tale, attentive to every detail and asking very little to almost no questions at all. When all of the foals and ponies had finished speaking, Princess Celestia remained silent.

“You all have been through a lot this past week and a half.” Princess Celestia began, her gentle gaze never changing as both they all remained silent. “Yes... You all have been through a lot. And once again you and your friends have saved Equestria Twilight.”

“I’m sorry Princess, but we didn’t actually stop Utopian.” Twilight replied.

“Yes, I know.” Princess Celestia answered. “But you did help the foals that did stop him from making his plan a possibility.” She turned her gaze to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “Without them, I think that there would have been a different outcome.”

“Sister, dost thou know what thou art saying?” Princess Luna asked. “The masses would be upon the foals like beasts would to a piece of meat! They would get no reprieve, and-”

“That’s why we’re not going to expose them to that kind of attention.” Princess Celestia said, turning to the Night Princess. “They are heroes just like Twilight and her friends, but like you said they do not need the attention of the media.”

“I’m not following.” Rainbow Dash commented, causing both Alicorns to turn towards her.

“What Princess Celestia means is that we need to take all of the credit for what the Crusaders have done.” Twilight answered. “They’re too young for all of that publicity, and don’t need that much attention.”

“Hey, we can speak for ourselves too you know.” Scootaloo said proudly.

“Well then Scootaloo, what do you and your friends have to say in the matter?” Princess Celestia asked, intrigued by the foal.

Scootaloo smiled, looking to the other six crusaders before returning her gaze back to Princess Celestia. “We may all not be fully adult Ponies like Twilight or Rainbow Dash, or Even you your highness, but we were still good at what we did this past week.”

“We went through dozens of obstacles, hundreds of dangerous monsters, and even helped save an entire kingdom on our way to the Temple. Not to mention of fighting off Utopian’s forces every step of the way when he tried to keep us from following him.” Sweetie Belle added.

“An’ what’s even more is, we saved the World!” Applebloom said. “Now Ah no Ah don’ much like the spotlight, but credit needs to be given when its due. If you’ll pardon mah sayin’ so.”

“I see...” Princess Celestia commented.

“We couldn’t have done this without each other, there wouldn’t have been an Equestria tomorrow without us all together trying to make a difference.” Wonderwing commented. “We don’t want to be showered because of our success, but we want to be recognized. Nothing more than a little foot note or something that can make us all smile when we look back on this past week and a half.”

“We also don’t want it to sound like we’re being too ungrateful though your highness.” Dinky said trembling a little with the other crusaders. “I wouldn’t want to have traded this experience, or these cool powers we have for anything. This was the best crusade ever!” She squeaked getting a laugh from everypony, including the light chuckles from both princesses.

“We’ll always be there to help when we’re needed. You can count on us for sure!” Pipsqueak said happily.

“There will alwayth be ponieth that need the Cutie Mark Cruthaderth. Just like there will always be timeth when Equethtria needth The Cutie Mark Thentai Cruthader.” Twist added, bowing low. “We’re not going to be one only all the time any more. Ethpethially when we have the chanthe to be both.”

Everypony remained silent as Princess Celestia and Princess Luna weighed on their words. The seven foals remained silent as both Princesses mentally deliberated for a few moments before nodding with each other in agreement. “Cutie Mark Crusaders, we have heard all of your statements and weighed them based on your actions on the past week and a half.” Princess Celestia began in a gentle but authoritative voice. “Your actions, which endangered your lives for the sake of not only Equestria but every walk of life on this world, have also been dually noted and have been taken into consideration. Please approach line up and approach the throne before you.”

The bridge of the Faust remained silent as the seven foals all approached the Equestrian Diarchy as instructed. Both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna then rose from their thrones, advancing on the group of nervous foals until they quite literally had to look up at them. Both of the Alicorns cast a last glance at each other before turning to the foals proudly. “Kneel, Cutie Mark Crusaders.” Princess Celestia commanded, watching as the foals all knelt down on their front knees. She could see that the foals weren’t the only ones nervous, watching as the Elements of Harmony trembled at the sight but otherwise didn’t make a move or protest at anything that was going on. “And Arise, Cutie Mark Sentai Crusader.” She said, her horn glowing with a golden aura.

The foals froze for a second as if they were trying to understand the command. After a few moments, their watches began glowing which caused them all to stand back up to get a better look at them all. The watches, which continued glowing the same golden light as Princess Celestia’s horn, began to change into elongated bracelets each a different color and sporting the Cutie Mark Crusader’s symbol.

“What’s going on?” Twilight asked, watching the light die down and seeing the change from watch to bracelet. “What happened to their watches?”

Princess Celestia smiled, as the foals all examined the bracelets. “Why Twilight, those are their watches.”

“They are?” Scootaloo asked.

“They look pretty.” Sweetie Belle commented.

“These are the true forms of your morphers.” Princess Luna began. “They will always be with you, as long as you stay true to your creed as Crusaders.”

“These morphers have great powers, used to defend Equestria from evil. Seven warriors like yourselves wielded them and the weapons they used to defend Equestria when they were needed.” Princess Celestia said proudly. “The Greatest Crusader was the last member left alive who still had his morpher and still followed the creed that you all now share.”

“The Greatest Crusader was a Cutie Mark Crusader?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“You could say that.” Princess Celestia answered. “They were more the kind of exploring the world in search of adventure and treasure kind of crusaders. They’re your predecessors, and they were the ponies that helped make
Equestria safe.”

“This sure seems like a lot ya’llre askin of us your highness.” Applebloom began.

“Would that be a problem for you Applebloom?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Aw naw, ‘taint a problem!” Applebloom answered. “Yer trustin’ us more than Applejack trusts me back home, an she’s mah sister!”

“I see.” Princess Celestia said, looking up and seeing the farmpony blush. “Well then, are there any more complaints or questions that you all would like to ask?” She asked. After meeting with general silence from the foals, she nodded before smiling. “Well then, you all can leave.” She said watching as all of the foals bowed to her before leaving. Princess Luna, who more seemed worried about them getting into things that they weren’t supposed to get into followed them, leaving the older Alicorn with the other Elements of Harmony.

“Princess Celestia... That was... well...” Twilight began.

“Unexpected My faithful student?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Sounded darn right crazy ta me.” Applejack said under her breath, watching Princess Celestia smile.

“My little Ponies you must understand, there are some things in this world that not even the Elements of Harmony are capable of defeating.” Princess Celestia explained. “The powers that the Cutie Mark Crusaders have earned during their journey will only be called upon when the situation is dire. There will be tough battles ahead of them, but their friendship is as strong as yours is. My advice is to believe in them, they may just surprise you.”

Twilight and her friends remained silent at the Sun Princess’s words, trying to take it all in. Well, with the exception of Pinkie Pie who was currently drawing up plans for another party in mid-air and mumbling to herself. Princess Celestia smiled as what she was trying to say dawned on the Lavender unicorn, who nodded.

“So, when things we can’t handle do happen we need to trust the Cutie Mark Crusaders to handle it... Like when you count on us when we use the Elements of Harmony?” Twilight asked, watching Princess Celestia nod.

“What if they don’t make it though? What happens then?” Rarity asked, watching Twilight smile before turning to her.

“They’ll make it work out. Trust me, it may not be the way you expect it to be but it will work out in the end. Princess Celestia knows what she’s doing.” Twilight replied.

“Ah’ll go along with it if it don’ mean mah sister gits killed.” Applejack said. “Ah wouldn’t want to have to tell ma and pa about it, it would break there hearts so much...”

“Hey, there gonna be fine!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. “Because if they wouldn’t then the princess wouldn’t let them become super heroes, and she would have stopped them in the first place, and-”

“Breathe Pinkie.” Every pony on the bridge said at the same time, causing the pink mare to calm down and take a deep breath.

“I’m just afraid that my dear Sweetie Belle is going to get hurt from those battles. I couldn’t bear to think about what could happen.” Rarity commented.

“Princess Celestia said she would be fine didn’t she?” Rainbow Dash asked. “If the Princess knows that they’re gonna be fine then they’re gonna be fine. It’s like a total gimme, like when I can do a Sonic Rainboom now.”

“Though I wouldn’t recommend you do it now Rainbow Dash.” Princess Celestia said, watching as the pegasus blushed a little before settling down. “I see that you are all wary from your journey, the rest of the trip will be uneventful I expect so please get some rest. We will be back in Equestria sometime by the end of the next week.” She said, watching Twilight and her friends bow before excusing themselves from the bridge and leaving the Sun Princess alone. She was confident that the Crusaders could handle their new abilities like Twilight and her friends could handle the Elements of Harmony, and she was proud that they did just that today. But she couldn’t help but worry though, what kind of dangers did she really throw them in?

“I shouldn’t worry about that now...” Princess Celestia commented, spinning her throne around to admire the sunset around her nation’s capitol fleet. “We’ll cross those bridges when we come to them.” She added with a yawn, smiling at the beautiful view in front of her.

-Back in Equestria, a Week and a Half Later-

Just as Princess Celestia had predicted, the ride back to Equestria and to Ponyville was more or less uneventful. While the masses cheered and roared about the victory that the Elements of Harmony had over the tyrant unicorn Utopian, nopony really paid any attention to seven little foals that had somehow mysteriously appeared in the crowd.

As the victory party that Pinkie Pie had came up with wound down, and foals had apologized to parents, the Cutie Mark Crusaders had found themselves all sitting at the same table they had all met at just weeks ago when Wonderwing had first arrived to Ponyville. A new foal was among their number, trembling nervously as she sat in her chair and remaining silent amongst the sounds of the other foals telling stories of how they attempted to earn their Cutie Marks.

“All right, that was a nice one Pipsqueak.” Scootaloo said, smiling as she and the pirate wanna be bumped hooves.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t as cool as yours was.” Pipsqueak replied.

“So, who wants to go next?” Sweetie Belle asked, watching as every foal at the table shot their hooves up into the air except the new comer. “What about you?” Sweetie Belle asked, staring at the foal. “Do you have a Cutie Mark Story that you wanna tell us?”

The foal shook her mane, strands of silver falling out of place as her glasses threatened to fall off of her snout. She continued to tremble, but stopped only to feel a reassuring hoof on one of her own. She looked up to meet the face of Wonderwing, who was smiling just as the rest of the table was, and immediately felt extremely calm.

“Hey, you don’t need to worry.” Wonderwing said reassuringly. “We’re all friends here. It doesn’t matter where you came from before, all that matters is what good you can do now. In the present.”

“Wonderwing’s right.” Scootaloo said. “You may have been a bully now, but if you wanna be a part of the Crusaders you need a great cutie mark story plus you have to show us that you really mean that you want to turn your self around. This is just the first step.”

The foal, after hearing other words of encouragement from the other Crusaders, adjusted her glasses and took a deep breath. “Well, this was before meeting Diamond Tiara for the first time...”

Just as Silver Spoon was beginning to tell her story, Wonderwing felt a gentle hoof tap his shoulder. He turned and saw his mother standing behind him, a gentle smile on her face even though there was enough stress to even make Pinkie Pie miserable as she stood over him. Wonderwing leapt onto his mother as they both hugged, right in front of the other crusaders at the table.

“Mommy... I’m sorry.” Wonderwing said quietly, feeling his mother gently stroke his back.

“I know my little Wonderwing.” Flower Petal replied. “I know.” She then held Wonderwing out in front of her and put her sternest face on that she could muster against the foal. “But don’t you ever do that again. Okay?” She asked, watching Wonderwing nod.

“I promise.” Wonderwing replied, receiving a smile from his mother.

“Good.” She said, before hugging the foal again.

It didn’t matter where Wonderwing had came from. It didn’t matter that where he was from her was a second rate
nopony. He had friends that loved him, a mother that loved him, and was a part of the best, “not so secret but secret anyway society,” ever. Or at least that’s what Pinkie Pie said. And that’s all that mattered in the end. At least that was all that mattered to Wonderwing, except for maybe his next Cutie Mark Crusade.


-Somewhere, millions of miles below the surface of Equestria-

“SO... UTOPIAN HAS FAILED... EVEN WITH THE POWERS THAT I HAVE GRANTED HIM...” A loud voice boomed from a swirling vortex in front of the now battered form of Crimson Heart.

“It would appear so my lord.” Crimson Heart replied. “Only the purest of hearts can hope to wield your magnificence to it’s true potential.”

“SO it would seem...” The voice replied. “Are my armies prepared Shift Click?” It asked, as the pegasus known as Crimson Heart disappeared revealing a beige unicorn with a tan mane and tail and a black rainbow for a Cutie Mark. The unicorn used his magic to sling a simple bag over his shoulder before giving a polite bow.

“But of course master Tirek. You have spent tireless eons toiling over your resurrection, and I your humble servant seek to satiate that goal.” Shift Click responded to the swirling vortex.

“Then the war begins. And Equestria shall fall!”

Or is it?