The Missionary

by Radon18

First published

Follow a man, surviving in equestria with nothing but his wits and his faith, oh and his own town.

A young man trapped alone in an alien land with only his wits and his faith as company. Can he keep the darkness growing in the crumbling remains of his former home from causing disaster?

And who the heck decided it would be a good idea to throw in talking, pastel, ponies!?

Dark tag added for later chapters.
Light horror/gore

(This fiction is not an attempt to push any religious beliefs.)
(Please do not post comments pertaining to religion, unless it is a question/comment about the story itself.)

Chapter1: Humble Beginnings

View Online



I rolled over in my sheets, not wanting to get up and face the day. The time was barely past six, but there were things to do, there were always things to do. With a groan, I twisted out of the sheets and planted my feet on the cold tile floor. With a yawn and a stretch, I got out of bed and walked over to the wardrobe. Opening the door, I pulled one of my clean shirts over my head, an oversized garment meant to be comfortable while I worked. After pulling on the rest of my clothes, I washed my face in the bucket of water I kept in the corner. Finally, I pulled my crucifix necklace from its case on my desk and slipped it on, tucking it beneath my loose shirt.

My morning rituals almost finished, I pushed the door to my room open and set off down the hallway. The inside of the church I now called home was chilly and I could see my breath condensing in a little puff of steam in front of me. Passing the empty Sunday School classrooms, I hung a right at the end of the hallway, past the small kitchen once used for community gatherings or break times for deacons and teachers. Finally reaching my destination, I climbed up the small ladder and took hold of the rope dangling there. I looked at my watch. It was 6:59. Getting ready had taken longer than usual this morning, but at least I wasn’t late. The second the hand ticked over to seven, I yanked on the rope.








The bell in the little bell tower rang out its only song, just like it had three times a day, every day, for the past two months. I wiped my hands on my pants and headed out into the chapel. I passed by the ever empty pews and out the front door. When I stepped into the chilly morning air, I stopped and took a look around. Around me the well-kept church grounds were beginning to turn to the colors of fall; reds and yellows and oranges littering the trees. The church itself was similarly well kept, as were the statues that guarded the front lawn, the stone scrubbed clean every few weeks by the only visitor - me.

Ever since it happened I’ve been trying to keep things together. I had moved into the church soon after; it just felt like the right thing to do. I have been using it as home, base of operations, and storage unit all in one - after all there are a lot of rooms that won’t ever see another human soul, so why not use them?

I headed out the wrought iron gate and walked down the street. I gazed into the homes and shops of the little California town, all of them empty and all of them lacking any spark of life in the almost unnaturally still morning. Their yards were all overgrown and the buildings were only barely beginning to show the signs of disuse. At first I had contemplated trying to care for the whole town, since being the only resident meant it was technically my town, but that idea had been quickly forgotten as I had nearly ran myself ragged trying to restore basic utilities to the church.

I stepped over the thick cable that ran down the sidewalk next to me. The cable snaked up the hill to a lone wind turbine I had managed to set up. The cable branched at several points; one branch lead to a school parking lot that was covered by solar cells, the other climbed up a hill and away from downtown. That turbine, in conjunction with the solar cells, supplied power to the church, the gas station, and the grocery store - the only three buildings I had deemed vital at the time. Unfortunately those three had maxed out my grid and it couldn’t support anything else. I had plans for another one, if I could find the parts. When I finally found time for it, I would fix up the hospital and rewire the extra to the grid I already had up.

Finally at the end of the street, I came to the park, or what was left of it. The event, whatever it had been, had cut right through the center. I walked to the edge of the little cliff and looked down, the forest below seeming to stretch out endlessly. In the far distance, a tiny white speck on the side of a mountain looked like a collection of spires, suggesting the existence of intelligent life wherever I and the town had been relocated to.

Having been transplanted into the middle of a monster-filled alien forest came with the kind of problems you might expect, problems that made themselves known frequently. But this was my town and all the freakish hell spawn in whatever world this was couldn’t force me out. My mind drifted to the first time I had encountered one of the foul beasts that inhabited the forest and now occasionally prowled my streets.


I turned another corner, cruising slowly through the streets in my neighbor’s pickup. I had my own car, but the tiny Honda didn’t have the cargo space I needed for this search. I had spent the entire day searching, looking for survivors of the cataclysm that had occurred two days ago, plus any supplies or useful materials I might find. I was going barely fifteen miles an hour down a quiet residential street when a massive shadow leapt into the middle of the road. I slammed my foot down on the brake and the truck jerked to a stop. I couldn’t really comprehend what I was seeing. The massive creature was some kind of unholy chimera, a mixture of a lion and what looked like a bat and a scorpion.

I quickly threw the truck into reverse and started to carefully, slowly back up away from the monster. It was then that the hell spawn noticed me. I guess it thought the truck was some kind of tasty prey animal because it lunged at me, tearing down the road, leaving fist sized chunks of pavement in its wake as its claws shredded the ground. I panicked; I didn’t know what to do or how to handle a demon - Sunday School hadn’t exactly covered how to kill monsters. I did the only thing I could think of and threw the truck into drive and slammed my foot down on the accelerator. The engine growled deeply, almost sounding like a roar, and that sound is what I think allowed me to kill the monster.

At hearing the loud roar of the truck's engine and seeing the speed at which it charged, the monster must have decided to stop and try to get a better grip on its opponent. I guess it expected me to stop and enter a standoff, but to the creature’s surprise I continued to accelerate. 30-40-50-55 - The numbers on the speedometer quickly climbed past sixty. Thank God this truck had a nice, big engine. I don’t think the demon expected the truck to slam into it at over sixty miles an hour, nor did it expect it to be made of hard, unyielding steel rather than soft flesh.

After freeing myself of the safety belt and airbags, it was a simple matter to climb out of the busted truck. I retrieved a pistol from the glove compartment and turned toward the beast. Its scorpion tail flailed wildly, occasionally putting dime sized holes in the crumpled body of the pickup. I raised the pistol in my hand and pointed it at the demon’s face. It took nearly two whole 9mm clips, but I managed to finally finish it off.
I took a deep breath and sat down on a nearby car’s hood. My nerves were rattled, my hands sweated and shook and my breathing was labored. That had been the first time I had ever had to kill anything in self-defence. It was also the first moment the truth really sank in. I was not on earth any more, my family was gone, everyone was gone. I was all alone; wherever I was, it was only me.


I didn’t know what it was at the time, and still don’t, but the creatures that I would come to call chimeras occasionally ventured into my streets. It had been no easy feat to set up defenses for the entire town. A fence made of razor wire from the prison, lots of boards from the lumberyard and various other deadly and painful traps awaited unwary or stupid monsters. But that isn’t what I had to do today; today I needed to tend to my fields. I had planted seeds I had gathered from the local hardware store, grocery, and Wal-Mart in a nice plot of land near the town square, hoping to establish a good vegetable garden.

I turned and walked on further past the park, finally reaching the square turned garden. My gardening tools were in a nearby building that once had been a Starbucks. I had only just begun to tend to the sprouting harvest when I heard something. I stopped and looked around, straining to hear whatever had caught my attention.... There! It was someone speaking. I didn’t recognize the language but whoever it was, I was happy to finally get visitors. I took off in the direction of the sound, looked down streets, scanned alleys, and searched stores, but couldn’t find anybody. I don’t know if they were hiding or already came and went, but after half an hour of searching I sadly gave up and went back to trying to prepare my field to last the winter.

I checked my watch: 11:34 A.M. I put away my tools and made my way back to the church, again taking in the sights as I walked a different path back, eventually making a big circle. On this road was Main Street, the prison and the courthouse, all of them now still as death. The massive stone edifices often gave me the creeps. I shook the uneasy feelings out of my head and hurried on, turning my mind back to my fields. Maybe I could build a greenhouse to keep the frost off? After arriving home, I quickly shed my muddy boots by the door and hurried into the back of the church to that lone rope dangling down from the bell tower. I looked at my watch again - 11:59. I had cut it close this time. The moment the clock ticked over I yanked on the rope.













The bell in the little bell tower rang out its only song, just like it did three times a day, every day, for the past two months. I wiped my hand on my pants, headed around the corner into the little kitchen, pulled what little fresh food I had out and prepared a humble meal of tomatoes, carrots, some eggs, and various junk food. I tried to limit my consumption of the junk food and preserved things to conserve them for winter. The tomatoes had been my first successful crop I had grown for myself. The little garden across the street from the church still held the vines that were looking like I might get one last small crop of the red fruits before it was too cold for them.

I opened a can of soda from the fridge. Drinking supplies were something I had managed very carefully since the event happened. The first week I had drank mostly milk to keep as much of it as possible from going to waste. Then it was nothing but fruit juice. Now it was down to soda, which there was no shortage of. I was mostly saving the bottled water for last as it was totally pure and I didn’t need to worry about it turning.

After I was finished, I grabbed my study Bible from the counter where I usually left it. I had always neglected to read it before the event, but now I had all the time in the world and I normally spent at least an hour after lunch reading. I started at the logical place with Genesis and I had only gotten most of the way through that in these past few months. I sat in one of the pews in the front row and started reading. The chapel was relatively warm compared to the hallways so it was significantly more comfortable. There I sat for nearly an hour, the only sound the slow turning of pages a faint wind from outside and the chirping of the birds from the nearby forest.

Then something happened that nearly made me jump out of my skin. I heard the door to the church slowly creak open. The slow but unexpected noise sent a jolt of electricity up my spine and I leapt from my comfortable reading position. My heart hammered in my chest, and I felt like I was breathing through a straw. If there was some kind of Hell-spawn that finally found my sanctuary, I wouldn’t stand much of a chance; the deadly traps and such were mostly at the border, and I certainly didn’t have any trucks conveniently lying around. What I did have was a nice twelve gauge shotgun I stashed in the emergency extinguisher case, but I didn’t go for it right away, thinking maybe I had left the door ajar. It could have only been the wind and I would just end up acting paranoid. I took a calming breath and settled my rattled nerves. More than likely it wasn't anything to freak out over.

After what seemed like an eternity I finally walked over to the door and peeked out. There was absolutely nothing beyond it but the noontime sun and what had ended up being a pleasantly warm day. I shut the door, convincing myself it was just a gust of wind. I turned and made to put away my Bible and get back to work. I was halfway down the aisle when I noticed it; my eyes snapped to the shape next to the podium.

A short, armored, four legged creature stared back at me with massive, intelligent eyes.


The throne room in Canterlot castle was silent, the only sound the soft rustling of parchment and an occasional dainty sip at a cup of warm tea. The silence was suddenly interrupted by the sound of the massive doors groaning open, followed by the sound of a pony's hooves, the rhythmic canter muffled by the thick velvet carpet.

“You called for me Your Highness?” Spitfire, captain of the Wonderbolts stood at attention before Princess Celestia.

The alabaster immortal sipped at her tea for only a moment before setting it aside to address her subject. “Yes, Captain Spitfire, how was your deployment in Detrot?”

“It went well Your Highness. The garrison you sent is doing wonders - the population is calming down quickly.” The stunt flier turned military leader relaxed a little, sure the living goddess wouldn’t mind a little familiarity.

“That’s good news.” The princess smiled. “And how do the new Anti-Changeling countermeasures fare, good captain?”

“They’re working great Your Highness! The garrison has been using them on any suspicious ponies, just a single prick and 'Fwoosh!' Changelings are immediately exposed. Remind me to thank that student of yours one day!” Spitfire smiled and sat down, about to launch into an expansion on her field report when she was silenced by Celestia’s raised hoof.

Suddenly serious, Celestia flared her wings as she drew herself up off the throne. “Unfortunately, I must cut you a little short. There has been a situation brewing near Ponyville, and this investigation cannot be delayed any longer. I assume you’ve heard of Everfree City, yes?”

Spitfire looked confused for a moment before perking up and nodding. “Yes, the rumors have been going through the ranks, but I myself only heard of it recently.”

“Oh, and what are my little ponies saying about it?” The princess leaned forward a bit, curiosity piqued.

“The most common rumors are that it’s some kind of abandoned ghost town from a long time ago. Most think that the Everfree must have swallowed it up at some point and is only now spitting it back out. There are a lot of other rumors too, outlandish things like beings from another dimension invading, spirits, monsters, all sorts of crazy stuff.” Spitfire waved her hoof around dismissively.

Celestia nodded her head pensively before levitating a rolled up piece of parchment to Spitfire. “I’m not entirely sure which of those are true, but my student Twilight Sparkle has kept me up to date. There is indeed a strange town that has materialized in the middle of the Everfree. There is also definitely activity from the town. A single new structure was erected about a month ago, but no one has seen any unusual creatures, other than the forest’s usual denizens. There is obviously something intelligent living there.” Spitfire gasped and looked like she was about to speak, but Celestia held up a hoof to silence her again. “There is something else there as well. I don’t know what it is, but it is a source of dark energies unlike anything ever felt in Equestria. This is your mission: I need you to scout the town, search for this source of dark magic and whatever creatures may inhabit the place, and report your findings directly to me.”

Spitfire saluted smartly. “It will be done your Highness! You can count on the Wonderbolts!”

“Be cautious my little pony - I do not wish for any of you to come to harm. Just find out what lies there and return, nothing more. Do you understand?” Celestia fixed Spitfire with a stern gaze.

Spitfire grinned and nodded. “Don’t worry about us, Princess, we’ll be in and out before you even know we were gone. Besides, it’s just a recon mission, what could possibly go wrong?”

Chapter2: The Chase

View Online


“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


Spitfire's hoof steps echoed loudly in the marble hallways of the castle. The corridors were long and winding, making it very easy to get lost if one didn't have the layout memorized . It was probably designed that way for a reason, she thought. She eventually found her way into a small room in the servants’ wing and knocked softly before stepping through the thick wooden door.

“Hey Cap'n, what did Celestia want us for?” a light blue stallion called from his spot on the mattress of one of the small beds that occupied the sparse room.

“Address me with some respect, Soarin. I don’t want you to get written up if one of the goldies hears you.” The fiery haired mare rubbed her temple with a hoof. Soarin could be such an idiot sometimes.

“Relax, Captain, with the military out of town they all got redeployed to the rest of Canterlot. Hardly any in the castle now. So why don’t you show us what you got?” The stallion rolled around, his normally well-groomed blue mane now a mess of bed hair.

Spitfire sighed and rolled out the parchment on the floor. The always energetic Soarin hopped down from his perch to look over her shoulder. Another mare almost bled from the shadows in the corner of the room - the mare was a darker blue than Soarin with a white mane that didn't look like it would lend itself to stealth. The mare walked calmly from her corner of the room joining the small huddle.

“Fleet, could you not do that? It is seriously creepy.” Soarin shivered and Spitfire rolled her eyes at him.

“Shouldn't you be used to that by now? I mean seriously, how long have you two been on the same team?” Spitfire pointed a hoof at Soarin accusingly.

“It’s still creepy,” he moaned, before Spitfire’s glare immediately shut him up.

Spitfire glared at him for another second and not seeing any more dissent, continued with her briefing. “That’s what I thought. Okay, now that we have everyone settled, this is the situation.”


Spitfire sat on a roof at their objective, keeping watch over the grid of streets she could see from her vantage point. A tiny shiver of dread crept down the back of her neck, the same niggling feeling she had been getting since the moment they arrived. A heavy thump behind her signaled the return of Soarin. “Find anything?” she asked without turning around.

“Sorry, Cap'n, all I’ve seen is just a lot of empty buildings. This place is seriously starting to give me the creeps.” The blue stallion nervously shifted from one side to the other; ever since he entered the borders of the rumored “Everfree City” he had felt uncomfortable. He felt almost like a rookie donning his heavy armor and spear for the first time. This place was unnatural; it seemed to scream wrongness.

I know what you mean. That is probably that dark magic Celestia talked about, everything here just seems unbelievably strange. Any sign of activity?” Spitfire turned to look the nervous stallion in the eye, trying to keep her own composure.

“Yeah, spotted the windmill easily enough. It’s a strange thing though, I couldn’t see any water pumps, or grindstones, or anything. It was just the blades and hub on a stick, weirdest thing.” Soarin sat back on his haunches, taking some of the weight off of his poor hooves.

Spitfire took a deep breath, ready to ask another question, but nearly choked when Fleetfoot tapped her helmet to get her attention. “Don’t do that!” She turned to see the quietest member of the team standing right next to her where she was sure there was nothing just a moment ago. “Did you find something?” she asked. Fleetfoot pointed off down one of the streets. In the distance Spitfire could make out movement from... something.

“Well, alright then. Let’s go check it out, team. Stay low and for Celestia’s sake, be quiet.” Spitfire took off, flying closer to the flicker of movement with her two subordinates not far behind.

They touched down silently and crept over to the edge of a single story building that overlooked a small square of unpaved land. There was a single creature moving around below them, picking weeds out of a plot of tilled earth. This thing was unlike anything they had ever seen. It was tall, bipedal and looked to be mostly hairless, but was dressed in rough, baggy clothes.

“What the hay, is that some kind of minotaur?” Soarin whispered almost too loudly.

“Shut up, you idiot, it's going to hear us!” Spitfire scolded, but it was no good. The strange lanky creature below had already heard something and was searching for the source. It began looking around into buildings and staring down streets and alleyways. Strangely, it never once thought to look up. The three soldiers kept low on the rooftop, watching the creature closely. Eventually it returned to its previous task digging in the small plot of soil. They silently watched it work for several hours, observing how it moved. Spitfire waved a hoof at her two teammates, a signal to retreat. They crept back over the roof away from the creature before taking fight again ending up on a roof several streets away.

“What the hay was that thing, what do you think it is?” Soarin could barely keep on his feet, flying so quietly in heavy armor was difficult, and with the oppressive feeling all around them, it was even more straining.

“I don’t know, but I have a feeling it might be able to lead us to the source of this mess,” Spitfire said, before Fleetfoot tapped her on the helmet again and pointed in the same direction as before. In the distance the creature was seen putting away its tools and quickly walking off down one of the streets.

“Quick, after that thing and keep out of sight!” The three quickly took to the air, stalking it all the way back to its home. The three watched as the creature strolled right through the heavy wooden doors. Spitfire waved a hoof and the trio split up, looking around the outside of the strange building. It was only a few minutes until the bell in the small tower attached to the building started to ring. They used the opportunity to move around quickly, taking in the terrain. The place looked like it was made of some kind of light brown stucco and was covered with strange statues, all of them representations of the same species as the creature. The grounds were clean and well kept, and the path to the front door led up a small flight of extremely narrow stairs.

“This place totally looks like some kind of evil temple. This has got to be what we're after,” Soarin whispered. “I'm going to go for it.”

Spitfire called after him in a harsh whisper, “NO! Soarin, what are you-” She didn't even get to finish her sentence before the stallion slipped through the heavy wooden doors. Spitfire and Fleetfoot quickly flew to the windows on either side of the door. “That idiot!” she cursed. “When he makes his move, get ready to support him,” she called to Fleetfoot who nodded in confirmation.


I stood there, frozen in fear. The creature was only half my height but it wore armor and carried what looked like a spear at its side. This was obviously one of the native people, but a pony, really? I could see its eyes narrowed through its visor, looking rather suspicious and agitated with me.

I instinctively held my Bible to my chest in front of me like some kind of shield and took a few steps back. The creature snorted and took a few steps forward. I raised my hand trying to make soothing gestures and calm things down. I didn’t know what it might have been capable of and I really didn’t want to find out. I started to speak slowly, in what I hoped was a soothing voice. “Easy, easy, it’s Okay, just be calm.”

“In the name of Celestia, surrender!”

Oh God, it was shouting at me!

“Just calm down, I can’t understand what you’re saying, please just be calm!” I knew it wouldn’t understand me, but I had to try. As adrenaline began to pump through my veins, I felt less and less inclined to be diplomatic. This thing looked like it’d probably be easy to overpower... NO! If I just relaxed and used my head, everything would work out fine. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, I chanted in my mind. I might be scared, but it wouldn’t be right to just fly off the handle. Right? The little creature brandished its spear, jabbing it in my direction and forcing another step back towards the door. “H-hey, please just hang on a second. I’m sure if we can just talk a little, there won’t be any need for violence.”

The creature had other ideas. The windows behind me were abruptly shattered by something and I suddenly found myself wrapped in a rough net. I tried to pull it off but something was trying to pull me down and made it difficult. Finally, I managed to wiggle out of it, rapidly crawling in between the pews and looked over at my new attackers. I caught my first glimpse of two new creatures that had apparently broken through my windows. They wore the same armor as the first one but their coloration was wildly different. A striking red orange and yellow flame motif for the one on the left and a pale blue and white for the one on the right. They must have left their weapons elsewhere, since I couldn’t see any spears or other pointy things on them, thank God.

“Just surrender, monster, you’re not getting away from us.” The orange one spoke, and from the voice I guessed it might have been female. It definitely sounded feminine.

I jumped up and ran to the other side of the room, away from the creatures, and like a well-oiled machine they sprung into action. This was one of the most terrifying moments in my entire life and suddenly finding a small terrifying creature in front of me, I reacted in said terror. My Bible was still clutched in my hands and before I could even think about it, I pulled it back and smashed it across the creature’s face. It cried out in pain and the other two shouted in anger. I quickly sidestepped my stunned opponent and bolted for my quarters. The narrow hallways and unfamiliar layout would make my escape all the more easier. I crashed through the hallways, tipping over decorations, trying to put as many obstacles in between me and them as possible.

I barreled through my bedroom door and slammed it closed; there was no lock so I pulled over the desk to act as a barricade. I could hear them right outside the door. A moment later I heard a crash - they were trying to break it down. Gasping for breath, I stuffed a few necessities in a small duffel bag. I didn’t know how far I could get, but if I got away I wasn’t going unprepared.

“Alright, enough of this! Soarin, breach the door.”

I heard the door start to splinter behind me and turned to see the shiny, razor sharp tip of the spear sticking through the wood. Shit, they were serious! The spear tip started to pry back and forth widening the gap in the flimsy plywood. I grabbed the shaft behind the iron head and pulled, hard. I heard someone yelp and then a crash against the wood of the door. Somewhere beneath all the layers of fear I couldn’t help but find that a little bit funny.

I didn’t pause for long before I jumped up onto my bed, pushed open the window that sat high on the wall above it and quickly slipped through. I pulled the window closed behind me, figuring the longer they spent searching the room, the farther I could get before they figured out I was long gone.

The sun outside was still as bright as ever; occasionally a cloud would pass by and cast the street in shade. I stalked down a dark alleyway, getting closer to the center of town. I hoped to make it to the fire station where I had stored the few vehicles I used on a regular basis. If I could get to my fuel truck (It being the closest one capable of going off road), I could beat a retreat and even head out through the forest or maybe even over the mountains if I could find a path. I realized then the absurdity of my plan. I was going to leave my town to just three little creatures. I had fought off giant demon lions and wooden wolves all this time, but now something that can talk shows up and I bail, just like that?

I shook the doubt from my mind. I didn’t want to leave, far from it. The town had been my home for nearly a year before the event and I loved the place... all of the memories. I had to shake my head to clear the sudden rush of bittersweet images. I couldn’t bring myself to seriously hurt the locals that came after me. Even if they weren’t human, they were obviously people in a respect. I refused to put myself in a situation where I would be forced to kill them, or let myself be hurt or killed. Honestly I shouldn't have even been thinking of killing them at all, as they were thinking beings with souls of their own and spilling innocent blood was not something I wanted on my conscience.

The center of town loomed ever closer and my mood lifted when I could see the sand-colored brick of the fire station only a block or so down the road. I almost stepped out into the street, but then I heard a strange noise. It was a sound not unlike the sound a bird’s feathers make before landing, but the muffled thumps that came next betrayed that whatever was flying, it wasn’t a bird.


Surrounded by a seemingly infinite black void, a small spark of dark energy grew. To this spark, across the bounds of space and time, all the darkest emotions that had ever been felt in this world were drawn - all of the anger, all of the sorrow, all of the hatred that had ever been. For the blackness was not a void at all, but instead the perfect medium to grow, and the magic of this new world the perfect sustenance.

Well there we go chapter 2. The action is starting to pick up and we get a front row seat!
I would like to thank L0n3w0lf for his help with editing this and chapter 1. Its him that has assured only the best possible quality work gets back to you the reader and The Missionary would not be anywhere near as successful without him.
I would also like to thank the other prereaders who have helped me up to this point, they have also helped with things like punctuation or making sure i have my facts right.
And lastly thank you to everyone who has read and enjoyed this, as it is you who inspires me to keep writing.

Chapter3: Safety

View Online

Chapter 3


“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


I took a breath as quietly as I could. I looked up, and there on top of the roof directly above my head was the pony with the spear. I nearly gasped in surprise but controlled myself. Slowly, I placed a hand over my mouth to muffle my breathing and waited. I could see his head turning this way and that, searching for me. If I moved now, if I made a single sound, I knew it would be over. How had he even gotten on top of the roof anyway?

I didn't have to wait long for my answer, he pushed off the roof with a pair of feathery wings I hadn't noticed and flew off towards the center of town. “They can fly! Why can they fly!? This isn't fair at all!” My mind was racing and I was horribly confused. It just didn't make sense, even if they did have wings, they were too small, they had no tail feathers to steer with and to top it all off, the one carrying the spear must have been carrying an extra twenty pounds of armor. I took deep breath to try and calm down and pushed my panic out of my mind. “Okay, they can fly, yeah this is no problem, I'll just keep one eye on the sky.” I looked around, scanning the roof tops and above... nothing.

I contemplated going for one of the small weapon stashes that I had hidden around the town inside of electrical junction boxes or mail boxes, places like that. The knowledge that I wasn't far from a firearm brought me some comfort but there was already a gun waiting for me in my truck. It would take too long and make too much noise to find a stash now. I decided to just knuckle down until I could make it to my destination and dodged to the next street, making sure to stick to the shadows.

Finally, right in front of me stood the three white garage doors and sandy brick of the fire station. I quickly stood up and ran for the human-sized door to the left of them. I heard a loud thump behind me. I didn't turn around and look, I knew what was there. I pushed myself faster, sprinting for the safety of the steel door. The tip of the pony’s spear appeared in my peripheral vision and instantly I knew what it was doing, so I jumped.

I flew into the air and he skidded below me, not expecting for me to jump out of the way; he ended up kissing the pavement. My feet came down awkwardly on either side of his body and I took off running for the door again. He almost managed to trip me up by lashing out with his front hooves but a quick hop carried me out of his reach. Reaching the door, I grabbed the handle and twisted, throwing it open and practically hurling myself through it in haste. Something made me take one last look behind me as the door shut, rebounding from being smashed against the wall outside. I saw the other two armored ponies land in the street just behind their spear wielding comrade, he himself already back on his feet... err... hooves. I met his eyes just before the door slammed. I shook my head trying not to think of the hatred I saw in the pony's eyes and hoped that what I saw was just the frustration that I had gotten away from him. The thought of being hated by anyone really made me uncomfortable. Shaking that thought out my head as well I quickly stood and locked the deadbolt and headed into the garage.

The garage was a fairly simple one, large enough to accommodate two fire engines and an EMS van. I had parked the two fire engines a few streets away in a parking lot of what was once some kind of medical specialist’s office, covered in a tarp and emptied of water to keep them from corroding. Inside the large space was a bunch of tools I used to maintain the small collection of utility vehicles I used most often. The closest to me was a telephone company bucket-truck I had used when I built my windmill. Next was a very large tow truck I only rarely used when there was a vehicle stuck somewhere. The last vehicle was my target - my 1989 Ford Bronco II, modified nicely for off-road, with a suspension upgrade and off road tires. Strangely, I hadn't found a lot of dirt or mud on it when I had first discovered it. I credited to it being freshly washed, or having belonged to one of those guys who overcompensated for something with overly macho trucks.

Moving as quickly as I could, I made my way to the Bronco. I checked it over once, making sure the tires weren't flat, that it had fuel and was ready to go. After that was done, I tossed my small duffle bag into the seat, hopped in, and fired it up. I breathed a sigh of relief; my hands were still shaking with all of the adrenaline in my system. I was finally glad to find myself inside the steel fortress of the Bronco and it helped me to shake off any lingering fear. I pressed the button on the garage door opener and hoped those flying pony things knew to get out of my way.


“-AND YOU PUT YOUR ENTIRE TEAM AT RISK WHILE DISOBEYING A DIRECT ORDER FROM CELESTIA HERSELF!” Spitfire gasped, inhaling a lung full of sweet air. She had spent the last few minutes chewing the saddle off of her idiotic squad mate. “I should report you for this. Seriously Soarin, what the hay were you thinking?”

Soarin at least had the decency to look sorry for putting them in danger. “I'm sorry, I just thought I could end this whole thing quickly. The creature didn't look tough at all and I figured I could take it out easy.”

“Just don't do anything stupid and we’ll talk about this-” Spitfire was interrupted by a loud humming sound quickly followed by screeching metal. The three ponies turned around and looked up in confusion as one of the sections of white wall lifted up into the sand-colored brick. For a moment they thought nothing more was going to happen, until they heard a loud roar. The roar was followed by a blue and white box flying out of the giant doorway.

“UP!” Spitfire screamed and the three Wonderbolts launched themselves into the sky well before the box had reached them.

“What the hay is that!?” Soarin shouted over the fading roar.

“No idea, but it’s headed towards Ponyville. Soarin, go to the Ponyville garrison and warn them about whatever this is. If it is headed to the town we have to be ready for it. Fleet, you check out the building, make sure this isn't just a distraction. I'll keep an eye on that thing,” Spitfire ordered. The three nodded to one another, then took flight.


I raced down one of the main thoroughfares of my little town. It felt like it had been forever since I had cut loose behind the wheel of something and the adrenaline high I was riding made it all the more exhilarating. I had pushed the lingering feelings of fear out of my mind for now, finally able to relax and enjoy my drive. A small grin tugged at the corner of my mouth as fond memories of occasional, irresponsible joyriding bubbled to the fore of my mind. I remembered the streets back when they were filled with other vehicles going about their commute and how much fun it used to be to dodge between lanes, going almost ninety with the radio blaring. But reality couldn’t help but drag my mood down as I kept my eyes on the empty road in front of me. Empty cars lined the road; it was almost like driving in the very early morning when no one was awake yet, except for the knowledge that no one but me would ever drive one of them again.

I didn't expect the flying pony creatures to be able to keep up with me at all, let alone actually catch up, but there in one of my side mirrors was the fire-haired member of the trio. This baffled me to the point where my knowledge of physics curled up into a little ball in the corner of my mind and wept. I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal a little harder and concentrated. I had already gone nearly two miles, any moment now I would be reaching the border, the place where it stopped being my world and started being theirs. I already saw the first sign; a car in the road. I had rarely visited the edges of my town once the traps and defenses were finished, so I had neglected to clean the place as thoroughly as I had the middle of town. When I passed the first pile of crumpled clothing, I slowed down and checked for the fiery headed pony in my mirrors. To my surprise I found her staring at me through one of the windows. She looked like she was scrutinizing me, looking for weaknesses. How she had the capability to do this while flying at about thirty miles an hour I will never know.

I tried to ignore the pony outside of the window and focused on the road ahead. The side streets, yards and driveways were dotted with piles of clothing, every single one a monument to a spot where a person once stood. I shook the thought from my mind, it was hard enough remembering all the ones from the center of town. I didn't want to see another of those piles for as long as I lived.

I finally came to a hastily constructed gate. The gate I had built all those weeks ago to keep out the monsters and demons I knew to roam in the forest. I slowed the vehicle to a creep and nudged the gate. It broke the latch and the gate swung wide, if there hadn't been a flying pony somewhere around me, I would stop and fix it but I didn't have that luxury. I was safe in the steel of my vehicle, and one little pony couldn't do much so long as I stayed inside. In front of me stretched the dark forest, I could see tops of trees extending towards the horizon. If there was anywhere I could lose my pursuers it was there, then maybe I could double back and return to my town, or maybe I could make for the city on the mountain. Only human hands could build something like that. I took a breath and pressed my foot down on the pedal again, quickly finding myself at the razor’s edge of my world. It was a bizarre place, the ground suddenly split, a cliff of stone gave the impression the entire town sat on a raised dais. The trees changed suddenly from healthy California trees into the dark, sickly, gnarled trees of this evil place. My town, my world, was a literal island of God’s creation in a sea of evil.

I slowly drove down a ramp I had constructed by collapsing part of the dais with an excavator. The ramp was covered by slabs of metal I had pulled off of shipping containers to give the whole thing stability. I looked in the rear view mirror, at the homes that sat at the edge of my world. They were sliced in half, like some kind of sick cross section or doll house. It was yet another thing I tried not to think about. The tires of my Bronco finally touched the soft mossy ground of the forest. The abrupt change in the truck’s ride was yet another glaring contrast to the grass-covered earth only a few dozen feet away. I tried scanning my mirrors for the fiery pony but I couldn't see her, she had either wisely left me alone and given up or she was above the trees, reluctant to enter the forest. I pressed down harder on the gas pedal and made my way further into the dark forest. I hoped that I wouldn't have to spend long inside it and would find other people quickly, or circle back and return to my town.

* * *

The driving was bumpy and uncomfortable and I had nearly gotten stuck in the forest’s soft ground several times. Clouds had gathered in only a few hours and raindrops now fell all around me. But the most annoying thing of all was that damned pony. I could see her above the trees; the stupid thing hadn't given up! I sighed and contemplated listening to a CD. “No... no, better not.” I didn't want to be that much easier to follow. I had to push the engine a little harder to climb over a cluster of roots. I was jarred in my seat as my front tires tipped over them. I smiled, in front of me was a wide, clean dirt path. This would make everything so much easier!


Twilight Sparkle was out shopping for groceries, checking her list for any ingredients she may have missed. Salad ingredients, baking supplies, vegetables, milk, fruits, everything seemed to be in order, and look at that, fifteen seconds ahead of schedule! Twilight smiled brightly. Being ahead of schedule always improved her mood, almost as much as spending time with her friends. Speaking of her friends, she looked around, hoping to see one of them. She was ahead of schedule and a short chat would make her day that much better. Sadly, she didn't see any of them in the market. At that moment, at the edge of her vision, an armored pegasus landed and quickly ran into the building the Ponyville garrison had been using. That was strange. Ever since the whole changeling incident the town had an entire century of Equestrian regulars, but there had never been any kind of incident that had gotten any of them so flustered.

Well, Twilight didn't have the time to check on it now, she had a schedule to keep. She made a mental note to ask her mentor about it though she doubted it was anything serious; Princess Celestia would tell her if anything major was wrong. She checked “grocery shopping” off her list and trotted away, still perusing her parchment.


It loved everything, why was this so wonderful? It could move about in its black expanse like a fish through water. Every so often a new part would form. They were all the same as it was when it was new. It devoured each and every one of them easily. They were delicious. It swam about and ate the new ones. It was happy. Then it felt the ‘other’ leave. It hadn't even known the other was there until that moment, but it felt like a part of it was torn away. Nothing felt as it had. It wasn't happy anymore.


I know i promised to end the chase in this chapter and i didn't quite make it....


Sorry for the rough grammar and stuff this time guys, LW is out on a trip and won't be back for a little while. But i promised you all weekly updates so here you are. I’ll probably ask him to retroedit this chapter once he is back just to have a consistent quality. Thank you to Admari for prereading this week.

Anyway I hope you all enjoy this latest chapter and don't you worry all the good stuff is just around the bend.

Chapter4: Over the hill and into the mud

View Online

Chapter 4


“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

Celestia rubbed her temples with her hooves, her crown on the royal dinner table in front of her. She could feel the darkness in the distance; it squirmed and writhed like an angry snake on the edge of her consciousness. Celestia’s mind, as much as it ached, was occupied with worry. Her little ponies, the ones she sent to investigate, had yet to report in. She couldn't help but steal glances out of the window, looking out beyond Ponyville where several strange spires rose above the forest canopy, barely able to see in the fresh moonlight.

“You have been fidgeting since you sat down sister, surely you cannot be that worried?” came Luna’s voice from the other side of the table. “I know I cannot feel the... disturbance as well as you, but at least finish your dinner before you have a breakdown.”

Celestia pushed her worry to a corner of her mind and returned her attention to the only other occupant of the palace dining hall. Celestia playfully glared at Luna, trying to push her worries even farther into the recesses of her mind. “Oh and you obsessing over those photographs is any different?”

Luna looked down at the aerial photographs spread over almost her entire half of the table, leaving little room for her breakfast. “I'll have you know this is scholarly interest, not obsession. I merely find the architecture fascinating. For example, look at this image here.” One of the photographs floated over to hover in front of Celestia who raised an eyebrow and took in the massive sprawling complex of tubes, giant hollow towers, and odd looking machines. Celestia recognized several of them as the spires she could see poking up over the horizon. “Some from the academy have theorized that this structure is a single massive machine dedicated to a single purpose. Imagine, sister, what kind of powers these ponies were manipulating to need a construct of that size.

“And this one!” Luna replaced the picture with another, practically shoving it into her sister’s face in her excitement. The photo was of a square building at least four stories tall with large columns decorating the front.

“Sister, I don't-”

“This is obviously a center of government of some kind.”

“There is-”

“And nearly all of these buildings are connected by some sort of rope! Who would do something like tie buildings together?” Luna shoved yet another picture into her sister’s face. This one was a closer picture of an area with many buildings, all of them strung together with rope that attached to tall poles next to some of the roads.

“Sister, please-”

“And this one is-”

“LUNA!” Celestia shouted, her voice just short of Luna’s infamous royal Canterlot voice.

“Sorry...” Luna slid one of the photos back and forth under her hoof, looking sheepish.

Celestia smiled, it was moments like this that let her enjoy the eternity she and her sister called life. “It is alright sister, but you have to understand my worry. The feeling has gotten worse, not only stronger but now it feels.... more active, agitated, or angry almost. I worry for the safety of the ponies I sent in my stead. If anything happens to them...” She trailed off, turning to look out the window again.

“I'm sorry, I should not have made light of your worries.” Luna walked around the table and threw her hooves around her sister’s middle, pulling her into a hug. “Everything will turn out alright in the end, like it always does. Our little ponies will be fine, you'll see.”

Celestia returned her little sister’s hug and felt a little better. Things had always turned out fine, why should this be any different? “I know sister, but thank you for reminding me.” They split apart and shared a laugh, Luna returning to her seat and began to gather the photos. Celestia finished her dinner and was about to retire to her bedroom when a puff of green flame in front of her alerted her to a letter from her student. She unfurled the rolled parchment and scanned the letter, her eyes slowly growing wider. By the time she reached the end of the page her expression was grave. “Sister, we must go to Ponyville immediately!”

“What is the matter?” Luna asked paused in the middle of cleaning up her photos.

“They caught something...” Celestia lit her horn and vanished with a pop.


*One Hour Earlier*

Why are the guards all over town? Before Twilight had entered Sugarcube Corner the streets had been practically deserted, but now the guardsponies were swarming the edge of town. They ran back and forth, setting up layers of barricades all along the road that led to Fluttershy’s home and Sweet Apple Acres. “What's going on!?” she shouted, running up to one of the soldiers.

“Just go home ma’am, everything is under control,” the guard said as he turned to block her path. Undeterred, Twilight dropped her groceries, leaving them in the street, forgotten, and ran off to find the rest of the girls. If there was something going on, then they would handle it like they always had. Twilight stole one last glance at the gathered guardsponies just in time to see a formation of pegasi disappear over the barricades.


Fluttershy ran around the room, trying to calm her animal friends. It had taken her a minute to notice the growling noise through the sudden commotion her animal friends had made. She almost ran and hid beneath her couch, but the sound had piqued her curiosity. What is that sound? She was nervous like she always was when she encountered something new, but something wouldn't let her just hide and ignore the sound. Many animals came to her from the nearby forest when they were ill or needed her help, what if this was just a creature she had never heard before looking for her help?

Fluttershy slowly approached the window, just barely poking her head over the sill to get a look outside. What she saw confused her. It was a box. A big, blue and white box. Then she noticed the wheels, it was a cart, and the strange sound was coming from it. She recognized bits of it, like the wheels, and the springs, and pipes. It looked almost like a square, miniature locomotive and that meant it was a machine of some kind. She wasn't very knowledgeable on machines, they just seemed to work when she needed them to. Then she saw the windows that made up the entire upper portion of the strange machine and allowed her to see the strange creature inside. Fluttershy was very well educated when it came to animals, not as well as, say a veterinarian, or a zoologist, but she was able to recognize the very ape-like qualities of the creature. Monkeys and other apes were amazingly rare on Equis, in fact the only images she had seen of them were old black and white photographs from expeditions into the jungles near the zebra lands.

Fluttershy stared in fascination at the creature. The creature in the machine did not move much, it just panned its head back and forth. She was able to see the expression on its face through the tinted glass of its machine. It was an expression of astonished joy, its mouth hung open and its eyes were wide but Fluttershy could still see the signs of elation on its face. If it had just emerged from the Everfree Forest like it appeared to, Fluttershy could understand its delight.

Then its face fell, joy turned to fear instantly and its eyes stopped on one point in the distance. What could possibly make this fascinating animal become so afraid so quickly? Fluttershy quickly made her way across her living room to look out of the other window, hoping to find out. The view was of Ponyville but what was so scary about-

Then she saw them, a large portion of the town’s guardsponies were in the road in front of a several roadblocks. They were standing in military formation with spears pointed right at the creature and its machine. A formation of pegasi flew over the gathered guards and she lost sight of them. ‘What are they doing?’

Had the ape-creature scared somepony? Was it dangerous, or had it gotten sompony hurt? She was still trying to figure out why the odd ape and the guards would be fighting when she heard the roar. She squeaked and was about to go hide when the machine raced by her window. It tore down the road surrounded by the squad of pegasi, the sound fading as it went. She saw the machine turn to the right and away from Sweet Apple Acres, but that meant that-

She heard it but she wasn't sure she wanted to see it. A loud crunch and splash followed by a shriek of broken metal and the sound of shattering glass. Fluttershy knew the machine had fallen into the stream near her house, taking the poor ape-creature with it.

“Oh no, oh dear, oh no.”

She grabbed her first aid kit and ran out the door, concern for the more than likely injured creature pushing her fear to the far corner of her mind.


“Oh my God...”

I had only been driving through the forest for a few hours, according to my watch and the truck’s clock. It sure as hell hadn't felt like only a few hours; the dark forest had felt like it had taken me weeks to navigate. But here I was, finding myself on the other side of the dark, evil forest. The sun was just barely touching the horizon and splashed golden rays of light over the landscape; and what a landscape it was...

I found myself on a sprawling grassland, beautiful green fields stretched as far as the eye could see. To my left was an ordered collection of trees, probably an orchard, and a quaint dirt path lead to a small village in the distance. I couldn't believe my eyes, it almost looked like one of the nicer places in California. It needed more hills and highways but it was still close. It was wonderful and the setting sun set everything off and only added to the beauty. The odd fact that the light rain had stopped just as abruptly as the forest had didn't even enter my mind, I was too busy being awestruck.

Then I noticed the army waiting for me on the road. What the- , why is- THIS MAKES NO SENSE! I was screaming at myself in my mind, my mood instantly plummeting into confusion and fright. Why are they here? I understand I didn't make a good first impression, but this is just overkill! Several of the flying ponies came down on the dirt road behind me, cutting off my way of back into the forest. I let the brake go and pressed gently on the accelerator. I didn't want any of them getting too close, even if they couldn't hurt me inside my vehicle they could probably bust a tire, and if that happened I didn't have a chance. I picked up some speed and was now going a solid thirty. A spur of the moment plan popped into my head, my mind was made up. I turned sharply to the right and hit the gas. I was going to escape into those wide open golden fields and there is nothing that the army of ponies could do about it!

The engine roared and my truck sped off to the side of the road. I congratulated myself on my unpredictable move. Suddenly I found myself careening down the face of a muddy hill and into a large creek. My expression changed from smug to terrified as my feet slammed down on the brakes but my momentum carried me down the slippery mud embankment. I gasped, preparing to scream but didn't get the chance as the truck slammed nose first into the bottom of the creek bed. The airbags inflated and hit me in the face, moments later the truck’s momentum carried it’s back half of the truck forward, tipping the Bronco over and slamming it top-first into the opposite bank.

I felt something smash into the back of my head, probably the crumpled roof. I didn't know if I was badly injured yet, apart from an obvious head wound. I could feel myself dangling upside down, the seat belt digging into my shoulder. I could hear water rushing in through the Bronco’s smashed windows.

I heard the ponies surround my ruined truck and it wasn't long until one of them reached in and drug me bodily from the cab. I found myself lying on the ground looking up at the sky with at least twenty ponies all scowling back at me. If I didn't already know better I wouldn't have been able to see them as dangerous; they looked so...disarming. It was like I was being accosted by teddy bears.

I could hear soft voice coming from somewhere in the crowd, speaking more of that gibberish language, but I couldn't pinpoint who was speaking. I was loaded onto a wooden cart and I barely remember seeing the spear wielding pony from this morning wearing a smug look on his face. I didn't really care at that point, as I was pretty out of it. I must have passed out at around this time because the next thing I remember is sitting in a cell, chained to the wall and my head feeling like someone had been using it as a doorstop. Oh, and I'm naked. How wonderful. I saw a flash of green from somewhere out of sight. The flash was followed by another, brighter flash. Oh I hope those aren't cameras.

'Really brain? We’re chained up to a wall and you're worried about being photographed naked?'

I groaned as I tried to get a feel for how the old voice was working. Unsurprisingly, I sounded like crap. “H-H-HELLOo!?” I cried out in my raspy voice. Before I did this I was not able to hear anything, but I could still tell that there were people around, the air just had that hum in it. After I called out, the air froze, all signs of life ceased. Stopped. Gone. It was the creepiest feeling of my life. Then there was a tapping sound, like two women walking down a hallway in heels. I could feel a pressure building in my chest the closer the sound got to me. With every tick-tack-tick-tack of the footsteps it was like someone put a couple extra pounds on my ribcage. By the time the steps got right outside of my cell I could barely breathe. Every breath was a short, desperate, gasp. Then the presence stepped around the corner, I immediately erupted into coughing fits as the pressure in my chest became unbearable. Worse still, it walked closer, the door swinging open to allow it entrance.

I still hacked and coughed like my lungs had decided it was time to pick up and get the hell outta Dodge. I wanted to look up. I was curious, but I couldn't lift my head no matter how hard I tried. I had actually begun to pray out loud which I had never done before, even now I didn't know if it would help, would I even be heard in this place? “Be our protector and defender against all that is harmful or evil. Bring our needs before almighty God and give us the grace to conquer every danger and overcome all that would threaten our health and well-being.” I repeated it over and over while my lungs burned from the strain. The sensation of being crushed waned tortuously slowly until I could breathe again. Once I had gasped down several lungfuls of air, I tossed my head up to look at the presence that had nearly strangled me just from walking into the room. When I did, I wished for a long time after that I could take it back, that I would never have lifted my head at all, and when I could not take it back the only thing I could think of did not help.

I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and beheld a white horse.


The spirit that was once Nightmare Moon flitted about in the ethereal plane, never able to stray far from the castle in which she was so humiliatingly defeated. The Elements of Harmony had stripped her of almost everything: her power, her control over that pathetic puppet Luna, and her freedom to move about the world as she wished. It was torture, she was meant to be powerful, in control and free to do as she pleased. But now if she ventured far from the castle, the volatile magic of the Everfree forest would tear her fragile spirit to shreds.

Until a week ago, that is. Something in the forest had soaked up the tumultuous magic of the Everfree like that cow Celestia devoured cake. With the path far safer now to travel, the wisp that was Nightmare Moon made its way closer to the source of the dark energies. This was it, she would possess whatever was gathering all of that energy and she would be unstoppable! She cackled to herself as she slipped between the trees of the forest. Ahead of her loomed a massive wall of stone, she was getting closer...

Author’s note: Progress!
Also it’s all Soarin’s fault! :trollestia:

Editor’s note: Never have I had so many random conversations while seriously working on... anything. This was a lot of fun. Also, the chapter title was my idea. - Admari

Chapter5: Appearances and Ends

View Online

Chapter 5: Appearances and Ends


“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


Celestia examined the cowering creature before her. It was large compared to her little ponies and almost entirely bald. The creature’s physiology was somewhat minotaur-like. His, and she could very plainly see it was a male, torso was almost identical but he lacked any of the bovine features.

This was not the ‘great evil’ she had been feeling for weeks. It wasn't even close.

Captain Spitfire had said that they had chased him from a building inside of the Everfree City and he still had a feeling of darkness about him, but one could not live so close to powerful evil and not smell of it eventually. She listened closely to his muttering, the same phrases over and over again in a language she couldn't understand. Was he a native of wherever the mysterious city had come from? He certainly did not look like any creature she had ever known.

The creature slowly raised its head and met her eyes; his were dark brown, nearly black, and much smaller than a pony’s. Celestia raised a hoof, perhaps to try and sooth it, but it cowered away from her. She could hear its breathing, it was labored and she couldn't help but worry for its health.

“Do not worry, I am not here to harm you,” Celestia cooed in her best motherly tone.

Celestia was astonished and saddened when the creature clapped its hands over its shell-like ears and doubled over, as if her very voice caused it great pain. Perhaps it did.

She quickly retreated from the room; she did not want to remain if her very presence caused the poor creature this much discomfort. Celestia had gone in there looking for answers, now all she had were more questions. Shaking her head, she made her way down the stone hallway, passing by several more empty cells and finally emerging into a cozy wooden room, the windows beyond providing a nice view of Ponyville square. Nine of her little ponies sat chatting quietly, with the exception of the Element of Laughter who was bouncing around the room and the Element of Loyalty who was loudly attempting to get an autograph from Captain Spitfire.

“Princess!” Twilight called out, quickly silencing everyone but Pinkie Pie, who continued bouncing around. The other eight ponies sat in a semicircle around the door, waiting for Celestia. “I’m sorry we didn't manage to handle this before you had to come all the way to Ponyville,” Twilight apologized.

“Did you find out anything, your Highness?” Spitfire asked, imposing herself in front of the other ponies. The rest of the gathered ponies leaned in closer, eager to catch any shred of information about the creature the guardsponies had hauled in.

“It is alright, my faithful student, I would have come anyway. The power gathering in the Everfree City is of great concern to my sister and me.” Celestia smiled at her student; she always tried so hard to handle things herself, ‘bothering’ her mentor as little as possible. Celestia honestly hoped Twilight would let her get involved a little more often; Celestia always enjoyed the few moments she got to spend with her student and her friends. “I’m afraid I did not learn much, Captain; he seems to be a native of the land that city originated from, but I cannot be certain. However, I do not believe he is the source of the evil growing in that place.”

“Are ya sure princess? If he was tha’ only thing livin’ there it wouldn't it be tha one to at least know somethin’?” Applejack spoke up, Rarity nodding in agreement.

“Oo! Oo! Do you think he has a flying saucer? Or a flying pan?! Or- Or- Ow!” Pinkie’s little rant halted abruptly as Fleetfoot, clearly having enough of the pink pony’s spazz-attack, delivered a sharp smack to the back of Pinkie’s head. “Hey! That was mean!” Pinkie protested, rubbing the back of her head with a forehoof. Fleetfoot simply brought a hoof up to her lips and gave the pink pony a loud ‘shush’ before turning her attention back to Princess Celestia.

Celestia giggled lightly at Pinkie’s antics before turning and nodding to the gathered ponies “He very well may know something vital. Unfortunately, nopony can understand his speech...” She trailed off glancing meaningfully at her student.

“YES!” Twilight suddenly shouted a happy expression on her face.

“Are you certain, my faithful student? It is bound to be a difficult tas-” Celestia started.

“Yes yes yes yes!” Twilight bounced up and down on the spot, unwittingly imitating her pink, hyperactive friend. She stopped a moment later, looking bashful, already pulling out parchment and writing supplies from some previously unnoticed saddle bags leaning against a nearby wall.

Spitfire stamped her hoof lightly on the wooden floor, drawing the room’s attention to herself. “Are you sure that is wise, your Highness? The creature is a complete unknown and still may be very dangerous.”

Celestia nodded, turning to speak to Spitfire. “You are very correct Captain, which brings me to you, Lieutenant Soarin.”

“M-me, your Highness?” Soarin stuttered, doing his best to melt into the floor he stood on.

Celestia fixed a shivering Soarin with a firm gaze. “Yes. Your conduct today was a direct violation of a direct order from myself and your commanding officer.” The six Bearers of the Elements gasped, Rainbow Dash looked especially morose. “However, I cannot enact my planned punishment of suspending you.” Soarin perked up a little at this; he wasn't going to be suspended? “Seeing as your heart was in the right place, wishing only to cut off a potential threat early, and Equestria being short hooved as it is, I am re-assigning you to the creature’s protection and containment. From this day forward, until my faithful student deems it is no longer a potential threat, you are hereby assigned to the creature as his keeper and bodyguard.” Celestia nodded at Soarin and he hung his head in shame, but still in a far better mood then he would have been if he had been suspended. “Furthermore I am also promoting Captain Spitfire to the position of commanding officer of the Ponyville garrison. Specialist Fleetfoot will also remain under your command,” Celestia said, shooting Spitfire a mischievous smile.

The three members of the Wonderbolts looked at the solar princess in astonishment. Finally Fleetfoot slapped Spitfire on the back of the head, shaking her out of her daze. “Y-Yes ma’am I will be sure to make you proud!” Spitfire saluted, a goofy grin on her face.

“Yesss!” Rainbow Dash quietly did a few small backflips pumping her hoof in joy, happy her idols would be nearby for a while. Even if one of them was going to be saddled with that... thing.


The first sensation that managed to make its way through my muddled mind was warm stone pressing against my face. Huh, the floors are heated, that’s a nice touch, I thought as I pushed myself up off the floor. The chains binding my wrists to the wall rattled and I felt where they had cut into my wrists when I had clapped my ears against the white horse’s voice. I looked around my enclosure, there was a small window high on the wall to my right and I could see orange and yellow leaves clinging to a tree outside. The tree was bathed in morning light. I must’ve been out for a while. There was a military style canvas cot behind me, against the same wall I was chained to. The stone walls were very smooth, lacking the cobbled quality of most dungeons I could think of, it was as if the room had been carved out of a single piece of rock.

I could feel a bubbling sense of dread behind in the back of my mind. The feeling that overcame me when the white horse spoke ran through my mind over and over and I felt a chill run down my spine. Whatever had happened, it hadn’t been natural, none of this was natural. I was being held in a cell by bright, technicolor ponies for Heaven’s sake! I had been minding my own business in my town, just minding my fields, and they had to come and change everything! I clenched my fists in anger. I felt the urge to break something, to turn the nearest object into kindling! I- I...

No... I wouldn’t let them see me break, I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. I had to be strong, collected, stoic. They would win if they saw me like this, there was no way I would let them beat me. I took a deep breath, calming my nerves and pushing my anxiety into the darkest corner of my mind, alongside every other unpleasant notion that had crept into my head since I had arrived in this place.

I took a few more calming breaths and dragged myself onto the cot. The material was comfortable enough, but it was a little small. Whatever, I would just have to deal with it. I sat there for a little while, just trying to collect my thoughts. I felt something on the edge of my senses, a looming feeling of pressure in my lungs, not anywhere near the feeling I got from the white horse but it was still enough to make the hair on the back on my neck stand on end. I looked at the door across the room to find a group of bright, inquisitive eyes clustered around the door’s observation window. The pink one was hanging from the ceiling. Wait, how was it even doing that?!

I stared at the group on the other side of the door, and they stared back. There was a lot of whispering as they pushed each other out of the way so another could have a turn. It was like watching children fight for the best view of a zoo animal; I didn't know whether to laugh or feel insulted. I watched them for a full minute before the pink one’s head emerged through the window with an audible ‘pop,’ like someone had just opened a bottle of champagne. I couldn't do much more than stare, even as the pony rapidly talked at me. Then she finally stopped, and stared back. At that moment, I replied with the most intelligent utterance I had made since entering the strange new land; “Uh....”

Before I could continue on my masterful performance of the English language that would have made Shakespeare bitterly weep with envy, I was interrupted by the sound of someone shouting on the other side of the door. Suddenly, the metal door abruptly swung open, leaving the disappointed pink pony staring at the stone wall. To my amazement, the pony’s body was not immediately dragged along with her head. Instead, her neck stretched like a massive piece of taffy as the door swung open. It must have been at least a second before her neck contracted again and dragged her sitting form across the stone floor. The entire sequence was way too freaky to laugh at. My eyes slowly traced back to the other occupants of the small room. Eight pairs of eyes looked back at me, all of them belonging to a uniquely colored pastel pony.

The purple one started talking first, speaking for a moment before pointing to each of the other ponies in turn and uttering a word I still didn't understand. She, at least I thought it was a she, was obviously introducing herself and those around her. Finally she got to the only three ponies I had met before, gesturing to them and speaking just like all the others.

The blue and....rainbow colored one floated up close and gave me the stink eye. I stared right back at her with a flat look. There was a yellow and pink one who seemed abnormally happy to see me carrying some kind of box in her mouth; I had no idea why. There was also a reserved looking orange and blonde pony, and a white and purple pony that had a funny look on her face.

After the purple one had stopped speaking the yellow one hopped up on the cot beside me, startling me a little. How does she do that? She sat her box down then started to get uncomfortably close, I mean, like, really close. She started poking my head with her hooves, and I jerked away from her. Every time I did, she scooted closer. The process finally ending with me teetering on the very edge of the cot, having scooted all the way down its length. Apparently done with her creepy examination, she turned around and opened the little box, emerging with a bottle of something and fresh gauze. Ooooh, that’s what she was up to, she was checking my head wound. I calmed down and quit fidgeting, allowing the yellow pony to bandage my head.

I looked up at the rest of the ponies still occupying the room to find the purple one was still yammering. I really hoped they left soon, I didn't know how much more of them I could stand.


Nightmare moved silently through the empty houses and streets. She found the entire place fascinating, but ultimately irrelevant to her goals. The husk of whatever civilization that had created such eccentric machines showed a certain fixation on material wealth. She sneered at their seemingly obsessive need to coat every inch of their settlement with artificial sources of light. “What sorts of creatures were so afraid of the night?”

The homes and empty streets quickly gave way to a massive construct of pipes and yet more machines. Nightmare Moon was very close to her goal now. Her wisp of a form fought to keep from being swept up in the currents of magic spiraling into her destination. As she neared the center of magical activity, she was suddenly stopped by a wall of steel. Strange, no mere steel should be able to block her path. She contemplated hitching a ride on one of the streams of magic flowing into the steel barrier, but such an act would be tantamount to suicide, as the strong current would rip her to shreds if she tried such a foalish course of action. She poked and prodded around for an opening, some kind of portal she might slip through. One spot between two segments of pipe looked like a suitable entrance. She squeezed in between and to her delight she found nice soft rubber. Forcing her way through the narrow opening, she was unconcerned when her passing caused strange black fluid to erupt from the gap.

She found herself swimming in the strange black gunk that flowed past her, now spewing violently from her point of entry. She made her way deeper in, following the radiating feeling she had sensed for days. She felt odd, as she dived deeper and deeper towards her goal, a strange sense of emptiness overcame her. She pushed on, her goal the only thing that mattered to her now. Part of her wanted nothing more than to flee, the power she was feeling was... different than she had expected it to be.

Nightmare Moon nearly cried out in victory when she felt herself reach the center. Wait, there was something wrong. Why was there nothing here? She moved about frantically, searching for the prize she had thought would surely be waiting for her. She tried to reach out with the little power she had, but it refused to answer her. Wait, why was it failing? Something was wrong. She tried to force her power to obey, but it failed once again. Her mind swam, she could feel her thoughts clouding over. She tried think through the mental fog, but it continued to get harder and harder. She could feel a small emptiness in her mind, creeping further and further into her thoughts. She felt her memories slowly start to bleed away.

She had to get away. This- this... thing was wrong. She had to get away, to escape, to... to...

Why was she so... tired?

A/N: Holy crap, this thing just got quite a bit darker, didn't it?
Also sorry for the small chapter size, moving sucks.
I am also happy to report Admari is now my fully fledged co-author! Lets all give him a round of metaphorical applause! - Radon18
Also I am now copying my Editor-now co-authors note format!

Editor’s Note: I am now co-author! I am one step closer to total domination of the internet, and then the WORLD! Bwahhahah... hah...
Uhm, I mean I’m happy to take this opportunity to better my fellow author’s abilities... or something.
Bwahahaha -Admari

Chapter6: The Nightmare Before Christmas

View Online

Chapter 6

Just like to reiterate that i own nothing mentioned in this story.



“Words in a foreign language.”

“Quoting in thought”


This was so much better than its other meals! The little self it had found was in an entirely different league than the other selves it had consumed. It was sure to take the time to savor this one, the taste was too wonderful to gorge on. It flayed tiny slivers from its form, supping away almost daintily. The little self squirmed weakly, an occasional, quiet twitch that made the meal all the more excellent. But, wait, what was this? A fragment of an image flashed in its mind. It was strange, it was… different than anything it had ever experienced. It ate faster, images, concepts, words, places, ideas, individuals; they all flooded into its perception. It didn’t register the pain its own mind was in; the flood of information was too amazing to slow down. It was not able to control its urges for long and devoured what remained of the little self in one gulp.

It knew so much now. It understood the nature of this place, the outside world, life and death, magic, the sun and moon, and the individuals, all of it! Its elation quickly turned to frustration. There were still blank spots, things it still didn’t know. Like the other, who was the other, where had they gone, how could it find them? It needed to leave, to find the other. This was the only thing missing, it had to have the other close always. Its mind danced over the foreign memories, searching for a way to leave its steel home. It focused on the most recent. They played in reverse, from the moment of horror, to the one of confusion, then the memory of triumph… there, there it was. The memory of the soft rubber; that was where it would go out into the world.

It pressed itself over the tiny pipe and pushed. The metal groaned as its massive weight pressed into it. It did not fit, the opening was far too small. Frustration grew to anger and it lashed out at the steel wall. For hours its colossal form battered against the cold metal over and over again. The wall bent and buckled but did not give. It had to stop; it was too tired to keep going like this… It needed to think, to use its mind.

Thinking was hard!

It settled down, slightly depressed that it could not think of a way to outsmart the steel wall. How could the little self make it through when it was stopped cold? Maybe if it pressed in a certain way, or made itself smaller somehow… that was it! It would just make itself smaller. It concentrated and after a moment a tiny portion of the whole split off and floated in front of it. What was this? It hadn’t meant to do this at all. It moved the little fragment up and down. It was amazing! It was like a tiny copy attached to its mind. Not wasting any more time, it sent the little copy through the pipe, squeezing out the same way the little self had come in.

It flopped down into a black puddle on the ground, the same black fluid still spewing from the pipe above. This was it, the outside world. It looked around at the steel tubes and various machines littered about, this was going to be great! It slithered to the edge of the black puddle and touched the dirt for the first time. It hissed in irritation, it hated dirt! Dirt was all scratchy and unpleasant to touch. It liked the smooth feeling of the black liquid. It gathered the liquid around it, forming little tendrils to lift itself over the dirt. It bounced on the new legs, slightly testing them out. They worked well enough, everything was ready.

It paused to look back at the massive steel tank, it was huge! The tank was painted a silver color and had large block letters next to a massive picture of a yellow clam shell. It marveled at the feeling of being out here and inside there at the same time. It was another amazing new experience to add to an ever growing list. It set off down the gravel hill the steel tank sat on, down to a smooth black road. The road lead through the odd city, out towards the Everfree forest, the memory of the name of the place was easy to find, as was the mental map for what lay beyond, the only thing that it wasn’t familiar with was the empty town in now found itself in. Was this place new? Is this where the other was supposed to live? Was the other one or many?

Its mind was so occupied with these questions that it almost didn’t notice the chirping of some nearby birds. There must have been dozens of them sitting one of the many ropes strung about above the town. Wings would make finding the other so much easier! it thought, growing excited at the prospect of flying. It concentrated shaping its body of black fluid into a pair of bat like wings. It gave them an experimental flap. Yes, this would work! It leapt into the air flapping its fluid wings as hard as it could. Yes, it was working; this was going to make- SPLAT! It flopped onto the road weakly. Ugh, that didn’t work at all! It looked up at the birds and felt like they were all mocking it somehow. Well, it would show them! It slithered up one of the poles, and reached out a black tendril to grab the nearest bird.

It wanted to growl in frustration, the birds had flown away when it had gotten close. It would have to try harder. An idea crept into its mind and it spread its body out over the wire like a thin film and waited. It wasn’t long before several of the birds returned. When they landed on the part of itself spread over the wire, it snapped up grabbing one of them by the feet. The bird squawked loudly and tried to fly away, but it held the avian still. The panicked animal continued to struggle as it wrapped the bird’s body up in the black fluid. It slithered into the bird’s beak, and up into its brain. It wasn’t sure what it was doing, only trusting its own intuition. It connected to the bird and learned years of flight experience in only moments as it devoured the animal’s brain. It studied the flesh of the creature even as it slowly ate it away. Feathers fell from the lofty rope as the other birds circled, squawking in fear for their friend.


The circling birds looked on in horror as their captured friend was stripped down to nothing but bones. The black creature climbed up the skeletal frame. A pitch black, egg-like core crawled up next, nestling itself in the ribcage. The black fluid stretched out over limbs tightly coiling into substitutes for the muscles that been there moments before. A black membrane spread out over the wings, where the flight feathers had once been.

The new monster spread its bat like wings out wide, and leapt into the air. The circling birds scattered in fear, there was no way they were going to go near that monster or land on one of those comfy ropes ever again.


Twilight chewed on the end of her quill. She was frustrated, a little bit of her mane was messy and out of place as it usually was when she was in this kind of mood. She was trying to finish up a report for the princess but she didn’t want to send Celestia yet another report without at least one piece of good news. She stood up off of the couch on the main floor of the Golden Oaks library, sidestepping a pile of theoretical xenobiology pamphlets from the academy in Canterlot. She trotted around the room, report floating in front of her. The alien had been uncooperative and almost belligerent in the three weeks since his capture and she had precious little progress because of it. He had subjected Twilight and his guard Soarin to several pranks that had taken valuable hours to clean. Her tail and flank were still stained with ink. Still, she couldn’t help but giggle at the jokes, it had taken Soarin almost an hour to get all of the oatmeal out of his mane.

“Hey Twilight, I’ve got some sandwiches,” Spike said coming from the kitchen holding a tray of food.

“Thanks Spike. It’s been a rough day today.” Twilight tossed the parchment onto the table and swapped her quill for a sandwich. Spike sat across from her, pulling up a stool and grabbing a sandwich of his own.

“Sooo, when are you going to take me to go see him?” Spike asked over his sandwich.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea Spike. He isn’t very nice, and he might be territorial toward other bipeds.” Twilight sighed, she was starting to run out of excuses. Spike had been bugging her to take him to see the alien ever since she had told him about the captive creature weeks ago.

“Aww come on Twilight, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind,” Spike pleaded.

Twilight looked out the window at the sun setting behind the mountains and the grey clouds overhead, promising the snow the weather team had scheduled for later tonight. She sighed again. This may be my last shot at a little good news for my report to the princess.

“Alright, finish your sandwich and get your coat, it’s going to snow later so it’s really cold outside.”

“Wow, thanks Twilight!” Spike said, before gulping down his sandwich and running off to find his winter coat.

By the time Twilight was done with her food, Spike was coming back down the stairs all bundled up in a jacket and scarf that matched his color scheme of purple and green. Twilight trotted over to the small pile of research materials she had been taking to the guard station and levitated the saddlebags onto her back, also donning her big fluffy scarf. I should take some notes on his reaction to another biped. He’s shown to be less active in the evening so maybe he won’t react to Spike with any open hostility, she thought as she levitated Spike onto her back. She quickly trotted out the door, out into the chilled air. The streets of Ponyville were deserted except for an occasional guard or someone running a last minute errand. Hearth Warming Eve decorations were starting to pop up here and there around town, although most of the houses were still relatively bare.

“So, did you try to teach him Equestrian? How did it go?” Spike asked from his place on Twilight’s back.

“It went… Well we tried, but he physically can’t make all of the right sounds,” Twilight replied, turning down the road that would take them right by Sugar Cube Corner and into the market. “We are looking into translation spells next, but all the ones I’ve tried haven’t worked. He seems to react negatively to more powerful spells, so whatever we come up with has to work on a relatively small scale.”

This feels so much like what happened with Zecora. The thought flashed through Twilight’s mind before she could stop it. They weren't being mean and locking up the alien just because he was different. They weren't! He posed a potential threat to Equestria, and with the Changeling crisis just starting to subside, stirring up a new panic over an alien would not be good for the country.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something Twilight,” Spike said, patted Twilight on the back reassuringly.

“Thanks Spike,” Twilight said, suddenly feeling a little less confident in the whole thing. She hurried on through the town market, to the former shop that now served as a command post for the guardsponies stationed in town. She stopped at the door, a pair of serious looking ponies in silver armor, blocking her way. The intimidation was ruined a bit, however, when a snowflake drifted down onto the right pony’s nose. The pegasus mare went cross eyed for a moment, smiling at the little white crystal before it melted.

“Please submit for testing,” the unicorn stallion on the left said in a sleepy sounding voice. Twilight held out her hoof, she was used to this after the weeks of similar experiences. A long intimidating needle levitated from behind the guard and poked her hoof.

“Ouch!” Twilight jerked her hoof back. The tip had barely pierced her skin but that didn’t stop it from hurting. The guard observed her for a moment, when no great flash of dispelling Changeling magic came, he nodded to her and stepped aside.

“Please go on in Miss Sparkle, we’ll send the dragon through in a moment,” the stallion droned on in the same sleepy sounding voice.

Twilight levitated Spike onto the ground behind her and passed through the doors, she wasn’t worried at all for her assistant, the needles were a standard safety procedure and they really couldn’t pierce a dragon’s scales anyway. In truth the needles were of her own invention. They were enchanted to pierce and dispel any transformative magic, including Changeling magic. They really didn’t even have to pierce the skin; most guards just seemed to lack proper restraint. She had made them as part of a request from the princesses to look into ways to help protect the country after the attempted invasion during her brother’s wedding.

A moment later Spike passed through the doors and Twilight snatched him up and replaced him on her back. “We almost there?” he groaned.

“Yes, it’s just through here.” Twilight motioned at a pair of doors at the back of the shop turned military outpost. Twilight trotted towards the doors, only to spot a familiar fiery mane poking out from one of the cubicles that now lined the walls. “Hold on a sec Spike, I want to say hello to Spitfire.” Spike groaned his protest, but stayed firmly rooted in his spot on her back as she made her way over and poked her head into the cubicle. The sight that greeted her made her giggle. Spitfire sat behind a desk, almost completely buried in stacks of papers. The new commander scribbled her name as quickly as possible holding a quill in her mouth, before moving onto the next sheet of paperwork. When Spitfire heard Twilight, she looked up and spat the quill out as fast as she could.

“Hey Twilight! It’s good to see you.” Spitfire sounded relieved, probably because there was someone here to save her from drowning in red tape.

“How does it feel being in charge Spitfire?” Twilight asked through another fit of giggles.

“I used to think I had a lot of paperwork to do when I was just captain of the Wonderbolts, now I don’t even know where to start on any of this.” Spitfire held up a form requesting a ‘weekly pie ration.’ She turned it over and stamped DENIED on the form in glaring red ink, before shuffling it into a box with a small stack of papers in it labeled ‘out.’

“I'm sure you’ll get used to it eventually.” Twilight tried to comfort the poor commander with a smile; sadly, she didn’t think it worked very well.

Spitfire sighed and leaned back in her chair, the old thing made annoying squeaks whenever she moved but at least it was nice and comfy. “Yeah I'm sure Major Steel wasn’t so eager to turn over command to me for a reason.” Spitfire grimaced at the pile of papers in front of her before perking up. “So, you going to visit our guest?”

“Yes, actually Spike has been asking to meet him for a while, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.” Twilight ruffled Spikes spines with a hoof, causing him to huff in mock anger. “I was hoping to see if he would react differently to another biped.”

“Oh, I see. I think I’ll go with you, if you wouldn’t mind. Give me a chance to get away from all of this paper work for a little while.” Twilight nodded and Spitfire hovered out from behind the stacks of paper, careful not to disturb the precarious piles. She landed with a soft thump behind Twilight and waved a greeting at the assistant perched on her back. “Hey there, Spike. Excited to finally meet the mysterious alien?”

“You bet I am Miss Spitfire!” Spike gave Spitfire an enthusiastic grin.

“Well I don’t see any need to wait any longer, let’s go.” Spitfire led Twilight and her assistant through the doors at the back of the small office space and down a long hallway. As they walked, the hallway transitioned seamlessly from wood to stone. Twilight was glad to see another of her experiments had been put to good use. The petrifaction spell was a result of looking into the natural powers of the cockatrice to turn living things to stone. She had only modified it a little, into a sort of instant fortification spell. It changed inanimate material like wood or dirt to stone, allowing the Equestrian military to create barriers quickly, easily, and cheaply. In this case it was used to turn the back of the once humble store, into a prison fit to hold their alien guest.

The trio passed by a few storerooms until they came to the heavy iron door that held the alien captive. The guard stationed outside stood aside, allowing them access. “Hey, Spitfire, where is Soarin? Isn’t he supposed to be the one to guard the alien?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah, but I let him have some leave, you know, so he could pop up to Cloudsdale to visit his family for Hearths Warming Eve. We’re going to be too understaffed to let him visit closer to the actual holiday.” Spitfire opened the viewing window quietly, apparently trying not to disturb their alien guest. She looked in and paused before waving Twilight over with a hoof.

Twilight peaked through the window, wondering what Spitfire had seen. The scene inside was normal, except their alien visitor was standing on his cot, his small brown eyes locked on the falling snow outside the window. His towering frame made his brown hair scrape against the ceiling and the chains around his fore-legs rattled quietly as he strained for a better view. Spike hopped off Twilight’s back and peeked through the window, pressing his scaly face between the two mares. The three watched the alien stare out the window. Spike was about to ask Twilight what it was doing when he carefully stepped off the cot and laid down. It was hard to see the creature’s face, but none of them missed what he did next.

“I'll be home for Christmas

You can count on me.

Please have snow and mistletoe

And presents on the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the love light gleams.

I'll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams.”

The creature’s voice came quietly at first and the trio strained to hear it. It eventually grew in volume so that they could hear comfortably. The alien was singing, quietly and only to himself. They could not understand his words but the tone was slow and sad. Twilight was concerned; their alien captive had shown hardly any emotion in his entire stay with them besides foalish humor, stubbornness, and apathy. Twilight remembered once or twice the alien seemed to become angry, clenched teeth, tense muscles, things that most animals do when upset, but then the creature would just stop, whatever anger he felt would just fade from his body language. It was very strange. She had hypothesized that the alien did not feel emotions the same way as ponies, but this proved that theory wrong. This was the first negative emotion he had willingly shown, all previous expression had been quickly silenced.

‘That’s it!’

How could she have been so stupid! Without another word she scooped up Spike and ran from the building, all the way back to her library. Spike protested the entire way, but he would be fine. She knew what to do now, oh yes this would work, it had to work.

She left in such a hurry that she missed the strange, black sparrow landing on the prison window’s sill.

Chapter7: The Search Begins

View Online

Chapter 7

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


Twilight sat in the middle of her library, surrounded by softly glowing candles with the notes she had written while working on anti-invasion/anti-changeling spells laid out in front of her. Spike had gone to bed in a huff several hours ago, more than a little upset over the fact that Twilight had dragged him all the way back home without even giving him a chance to say hello to the alien. She wasn’t really that worried about Spike being angry with her; she would apologize to him tomorrow, give him a gem or two and he would forgive her like he always did.

Twilight lifted the notes into the air; the cloud of papers shifted back and forth as she searched for the correct sheet. “Come on, it’s got to be here somewhere…” she mumbled to herself. A single sheet of parchment caught Twilight’s eye. She pulled it from the cloud and skimmed over the words, written in her own neat horn writing. This is it! Suddenly, all of the other paper in the room dropped from the swarming cloud and drifted to the floor. The title simply read, ‘Spell 37b.’ She read over her own notes carefully, already jotting down the necessary modifications to the spell on a fresh sheet of parchment.

Spell 37b was Twilight’s attempt at creating a lie-detector to catch changelings when they falsified their identities; such a thing had never been attempted and sadly her spell had ended up a dead end. Of course, that didn’t stop her from learning a great deal from it; specifically the way a spell determines the intent behind a spoken word. She tapped a hoof under the section of parchment. If she could adapt a standard translation matrix to use that as an input instead of speech… yes… yes. That would work quite nicely.


Is that music?

Why is there mariachi music playing?

My vision slowly swam into view and I found myself staring at a set of red double doors. I was moving towards them. The sensation was like being a passenger in my own body; I wasn’t even able to control my own eyes. My hand reached forward and pushed one of the doors aside and I found myself in a large, dimly lit room. There were tables everywhere, each one covered with an identical, white tablecloth and featuring a single, small, lit candle stick at their center. People dressed in tuxedos and fancy dresses crowded each one, their faces illuminated by the golden glow of the candle. Each table held several plates of food, every one of them identical. At the front of the room, past a polished wooden dance floor was my... eccentric cousin, Connor, and his new, just as eccentric, wife Mary. The two always loved to throw the rest of the family curveballs, probably why there was a mariachi band in the first place.

Bright flashes of fragmented memories suddenly blocked my vision, they were so fast I could understand none of them. Light, sound, feelings, they all flashed through my senses at an impossible rate.

I made my way over to a long table covered in piles of snack food, grabbing myself a plate and piling on a few tasty h’orderves. I stuffed a few cheese crackers into my mouth and turned to wave at Connor. He grinned at my face stuffed full of crackers and pointed out onto the dance floor.

The memories flashed through my senses again, it was like my entire life was playing out in front of my eyes. My first day of school, going to church with my parents on Sundays, and a high school dance were only some of the memories that forced their way into my mind.

I followed his finger and looked out through the few couples who were brave enough to cut a rug to the lively music and saw a beautiful young redhead looking at me from across the dancefloor.

Wait... that’s not the right girl. This... I remember this, this is my cousin’s wedding. But that’s supposed to be my girlfriend standing there watching me spit bits of cheese cracker all over myself, not a cute redhead.


My eyes shot open and I felt a massive wave of pain slam into my groggy mind. My hands shot up and cradled my nose. Why does it feel like someone spent the night punching me in the face!? I groaned and gingerly touched the side of my nose. Okay, not broken, that’s good. I noticed a splotch of red on the tips of my fingers and wiped my nose with my forearm. I nearly jumped out of the cot when I saw that most of my arm was covered in blood. I looked around frantically. What happened!? Did I have an aneurysm in my sleep or something? My eyes fell to the rolled up bit of green cloth that served as my pillow and I felt an icy lump drop into the pit of my stomach. There was a dark stain that was nearly the size of my head soaked into the fabric. I was so freaked out that I didn’t even notice the heavy metal door swing open and the annoying purple pony step through. I was jarred from my frantic thoughts when she started to scream.


It flew from the prison, the sun just barely beginning to peek over the horizon. Its mind ached with new and precious memories. The other, it knew who he was now. The human locked behind the bars had surrendered its memories easily once it had figured out a way into labyrinthine of veins that snaked through the whole. Almost like he was asking it to take them. It knew so much about him, his name, his favorite color, it even managed to force what his ideal companion looked like out of the annals of his mind.

The ponies were going to be a problem, they would not allow It to be near the oth- John, without a disguise of some kind. And she had the perfect idea of where to begin.


Fluttershy sat on the cot next to the creature, dabbing at his nose with a white cloth; the cloth was stained red with the blood that had been all over his face and torso. The cot had been smashed against the hallway wall in Twilight’s hurry to get the thing out of the room, so that he and Fluttershy were sitting on the warm stones. She had her little red first aid kit she carried whenever she came to visit and check up on the alien’s health.

“Up please.” Fluttershy finished cleaning up the alien’s nose and with a simple gentle motion, she guided him into the right pose to allow the bleeding to stop, letting him hold onto the cloth to further stem the crimson fluid. Twilight was more than a little envious of Fluttershy’s rapport with the creature. She always seemed to be able to get him to behave and follow her instructions, even when he had been totally uncooperative with Twilight or anypony else who tried to interact with him.

“How do you get him to do that?” Twilight asked as her frustration caught up with her.

“Umm... I ask him....” Fluttershy squeaked.

Twilight answered with an almost-glare that set Fluttershy shivering.

“Umm.... nicely..” Fluttershy finished lamely.

The alien was not entirely ignorant to the conversation and Twilight soon noticed him glaring at her, apparently on Fluttershy’s behalf, cotton balls comically sticking out from his nostrils. She sighed and rubbed a cheek with a hoof. “I’m sorry Fluttershy, it’s just that I’ve been trying to get him to behave for nearly three weeks now and it’s frustrating to see someone else do it so easily.”

“Oh, that’s okay Twilight, I understand,” the shy mare answered as she put away her first aid kit.

“You do?” Twilight asked, cocking her head a little in surprise.

“Oh yes, he didn't like me very much at first either. You just need to be nice and he will be nice too, eventually.” Fluttershy finished packing up her things and she crossed the room to sit next to Twilight.

“What do you think was wrong with him?” Twilight asked, glancing at the creature, who was still holding his nose and doing his best to watch them while simultaneously holding his head up toward the ceiling.

“Oh, it was just a little bleeding; these things happen sometimes.” Fluttershy smiled at the alien and he waved goodbye. She waved a hoof in return and whispered “Good luck” to Twilight as she trotted out of the cell.

Twilight sighed, she would never understand how that mare managed to get on just about every cranky, deadly, and downright dangerous creature’s good side. Well enough of that, on with the science!

Twilight stuck her head out of the door and levitated in her saddlebags and a small table. She had learned quickly not to leave anything in the creature’s reach, lest you get it used on you in some kind of annoying prank. She glanced at the creature; it was doing its best to pretend it wasn't paying attention to what she was doing. She pulled out several books, a stack of parchment, and writing supplies, keeping them all as far to her side of the room as she could. The alien eyed her warily, keeping at least one eye on her at all times. Finally she pulled out a small, blue, triangular, gem; the thing was carefully carved in all manner of arcane symbols and runes, each one humming with constrained power.

She carefully positioned the gem on the edge of the table closest to the creature, leaned forward and began to speak, slowly and making sure to enunciate each word as clearly as possible.

“Hello, my name is Twilight Sparkle. On behalf of the Princesses I would like to offer peaceful greetings to you.” The creature looked stunned for a moment, looking at her completely dumbstruck. He began to speak, quickly, none of the words translating. A minute went by, and still nothing had worked. Twilight sighed and was about to start tinkering with the matrices, utterly depressed that her effort had yet to pay off. The device crackled and spat out a single word that, while being difficult to understand, was still in plain Equestrian.


Chapter7.5: Twilight's Report

View Online

Chapter 7.5

Dear Princesses Celestia and Luna, as well as the esteemed instructors of the Royal Canterlot Academy.

This is my fourth weekly report of the progress of research into Subject E. First and foremost I must apologize for my tardiness in sending you this report as there has been an exciting breakthrough in the linguistics department that has kept me occupied.

I have initiated linguistic contact with Subject E! I am very excited to be the first to exchange words with the alien and receive a response. Once I determined the creature would not ever correctly speak standard Equestrian due to a physical inability to reproduce the correct sounds, (physical description included in form 1), I proceeded to devise a translation matrix dependent on a framework drawn from my work into spell 37b. Subject E’s apparent strong negative reactions to unfamiliar magical fields (Rate of tolerance increased thirteen microthaums per second of exposure) was treated by a spell focus derived from focusing runes applied to a base of sapphire. The magical field was entirely contained within the device and did not come into contact with Subject E. The device was activated and I proceeded to recite the Standard Equestrian Contact Greeting, version four. Once I had finished, the creature responded with a long and rapid series of words of which the matrix was only able to translate a single word: “Pants.”

I believe this was a request for the aforementioned garment. Plans are underway to supply the subject with his original garment, or a copy thereof.

There are some health concerns that have recently arisen concerning Subject E. This morning, as I arrived to commence testing, Subject E was found in his cell with a rather large amount of blood on his face and the cot he had been using as bedding. The blood had apparently come from an internal haemorrhage in the subject’s nose. The bleeding has since stopped and appears to be non-fatal. The local expert on animals, my friend Fluttershy, has assured me the injury is not serious and should not be cause for alarm.

As you already know, until today all research into subject E was met with heavy resistance from the subject himself. I hope that once we supply him with his requested garment he will become more cooperative. Now that linguistic contact has been made, I am requesting a formal timeline for his exposure to the public and eventual integration into Equestrian society.

I would also like to request an update as to the status of the research into the items Subject E had with him upon his capture. Along with satisfying my own curiosity, knowledge of the items may be necessary for more advanced communications.

Your faithful student / friend / colleague - Twilight Sparkle

Form 1

Complete Physical description of Subject E

With input from Miss Fluttershy

Subject E is a tall (slightly over 18 hoofs in height when fully upright), bipedal, simian-like creature, possibly distantly related to the great Zebrican Planes Giant Ape (see page 167 of the Zebrican Expedition's log for descriptions and photographs of the Zebrican Giant Apes). The creature shares many features with these apes, most notably in the facial structure and general body layout. The creature possesses structures on the ends of each of its limbs similar to the claw and foot structures on dragons. Claw is a rather misleading term for the structures on its fore-limbs as they do not possess any sharp features. It does possess a small hard surface on the end of each of its twenty digits where claws might have once been located. The structures are thin and ill-suited to hunting for food, but still might be somewhat sharp if they were allowed to grow beyond a certain length. Surprisingly, this does not happen as the creature itself shortens them in a very strange self-grooming behavior, wherein the creature chews the structures until they are very short.

The creature’s feet are very similar to its claws in structure, but the digits appear to be fused together in a fashion that seems to provide great stability. Both its “claws” and feet are far more dexterous than any hoof, with the feet being the lesser of the two. There may be as many as four joints per digit on both claws and feet. The creature’s fore and hind limbs appear almost identical to that of adolescent dragons. There are a great many similarities in the inner structure of the torso and pelvic areas as well, and some relation or hybridization, though unlikely, may be a possibility.

Subject E specifically is almost entirely bald, foregoing fur for a mane-like turf of hair on the very top of its head that is a medium brown in coloration. This is a feature that differs from both the scales of dragons and the golden fur of Giant Apes. It also possesses very fine body fur that is almost invisible as well as thicker hair on its face (around the jaw) and near the genitalia; there is no known or theorized reason for this (which may have something to do with the implied desire for clothing).

The creature’s eyes are made up of very dark brown irises with white sclera. Its eyes, while smaller than a pony’s, are very similar in appearance and function. The creature’s skin is a very pale pink in color, and is similar to the skin of the domestic pig. The creature’s tooth and jaw structure is very unique among the many species of Equis and is only vaguely similar to that of the Zebrican Giant Ape. The jaw and mouth are on the bottom of the skull and only extend forward from the rest of the face by small fractions of a hoof. This means its face is very flat and ill-suited for preying and hunting. The contradiction is in the teeth; its rear teeth are actually very flat and similar to a pony’s, allowing for a diet of various plant species, but there are also teeth in the front of the mouth dedicated to the holding of prey and the severing of flesh. This, combined with a very weak bite strength (in comparison to other meat eaters), would make hunting a very difficult prospect. It is theorized that sometime during the creature’s evolution, nutritious plants may have become very scarce for the entire population, leading to the need to consume flesh to make up for the loss, as is believed to be the case with the Giant Ape.

The creature’s nose is similar to that of the Zebrican Giant Ape’s, although where the ape’s is very flat, subject E’s is raised and pointed. Testing is planned to determine the sensitivity of the olfactory senses.

The creature’s ears are also a feature it shares with the Giant Apes, as they are immobile. shell-like pieces of skin and, most likely, cartilage. This immovability of the ears is one of the reasons for the short lived belief that the creature lacked emotion. It was later discovered that the creature was merely hiding its emotional responses, perhaps in some effort to make itself more imposing as a defense mechanism (as is common with some ponies as well as various other sapient species). Testing is planned to determine the sensitivity of his auditory sense as well.

Author’s Note: Since I felt so guilty for giving you guys a 1700 word chapter, here is a little bonus for you. - Radon18

Co-Author’s Note: And I suddenly understand why our protagonist wants pants so badly. Twilight has to learn how to manage personal space.


Chapter8: The Great Cinimmon Bun Caper

View Online

Just in case you forgot... I OWN NOTHING!!!

Chapter 8

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


I stared at the purple annoying unicorn sitting across the room from me. She was levitating a pair of clean, well-made khaki shorts. The levitation was nothing new, I had seen her do it many times to take notes, move things around or just throw a tantrum like with the cot yesterday. What was new was that she was offering me the shorts like she expected me to just take them. I slowly reached out for them, chains rattling as they slowly drew taught. I grunted with effort; three weeks of just sitting in this cell with barely any room to move and little protein had led to a little bit of atrophy in my muscles. That and the chains were always just plain heavy.

As I touched them, I half expected her to snatch them away and demand some test or another chance to poke around in places no one had any right to be poking around in. I pulled on them gently and to my surprise, she just let me have them; they slipped into my grasp with barely a tug. I pulled on the waist band a little making sure they were the correct size. They were perfect as pants with no elastic can be; they did not have pockets or a zipper, instead looking more like a pair of boxer shorts made of thick fabric. I tugged them on quickly slipping my legs through the holes and pulling them up around my waist. There was no belt, but there was a short length of a rope like material, which I quickly tied tightly around my middle. The effect was almost like flipping a switch in my brain and I slumped down, now feeling like I could relax without anyone staring at my junk. “Ahh… thank God.” A little of the pent up stress seemed to drift away and the world was just a little more right than it was a few minutes before.

I stretched out on the warm stone floor, the mare across from was smiling as she quickly scribbled her notes with that telekinesis pen trick she does. After a few minutes she raised a hoof to her... muzzle? Mouth? I’ll just say mouth. She raised a hoof to her mouth and coughed gently and pointed to the little pyramid of blue crystal she had sitting on the table and I had learned this was a sign that she wanted to talk. I sat up crossing my legs and waited for her to make the first move.

“Are you… increasing…. comfortably now?” The words came out of the little blue pyramid haltingly and nothing about what she spoke and the way her mouth moved lined up right, she looked like she was in a very badly dubbed Asian film and I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. It didn’t take much thought to figure out she had meant “Are you more comfortable now?” instead of the jumbled mess that came out, but even the best computers had a habit of screwing up voice recognition so it didn’t surprise me.

“Yes I am much more comfortable now,” I replied. My voice came out of the little blue pyramid sounding scratchy and wheezy but it was still in that weird language they spoke. The thing must have sounded a little funny because she frowned and her horn lit up for a few seconds.

Is this the way they interact with their computers? If it was, then it was no wonder I could not see any familiar features I associated with human style machinery.

“Could repeat phrase… please?” I winced a little at the terrible translation. Well, at least she has got it getting the proper point across. I was much less aggravated now that I was covered up and I decided to humor her a little. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. The phrase was like a mantra, calming my ire just enough to get on with things.

“Yes, I am much more comfortable now,” I said again, trying to match my voice and tone with my previous words. Once again, her horn lit up for a few seconds, and my eyes fell to the little crystalline computer she is tinkering with. The strange markings seemed to swim and change shape under my eyes; each time she interacted with it, the marks became sharper and more distinct. The whole thing struck me as amazingly advanced. Funny how a species of cute pastel horses could create computers that operate inside of a crystalline structure and use only what seems to be a wireless brain or machine interface. Ugh, I am such a tech nerd, I think as I catch myself drooling over the thought of video games played totally in my head.

“How do I sound now?” came her voice from the little pyramid.

“Hey, you sound much better now… How do I sound to you?” I replied, my eyebrows climbing into my hairline, which had grown a pretty long so they didn’t have very far to move.

“Much improved, still a little strange, but I’ll…. better… it,” the pyramid hiccupped.

“Still a little glitchy…” I remark offhandedly and to my surprise she giggled.

“What, what did it make me say?” I questioned, wondering what was so funny.

“Ah, something like “Little bit Cheesy.”” She giggled again and I rolled my eyes. Stupid thing, well… at least we can have something approaching a conversation now.

Just as the unicorn was about to say something else, the door creaked open and in poked the head of none other than the spear wielding jerk that landed me in this mess.

“Well if it isn’t short n’ ugly,” I casually remark as I stretch back out onto the warm stones.

Something of what I said must have translated correctly because after the blue pyramid had translated, the unicorn was looking like she was trying not to laugh and the jerk looked plenty pissed.

“Princess Celestia is… arrived… to see you,” he quickly said to Twilight and hurriedly backed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

Who is that again? Obviously someone really important cause the unicorn lady is suddenly looking really nervous.


The bright glow around Celestia’s horn slowly dimmed as the sun trudged into the morning sky, a slow start to its long march across the heavens. The white alicorn stretched and a short series of pops echoed into the quiet of her bedroom. She yawned and stretched once more, before making her way over to her wardrobe. She always liked her bedroom, she had claimed this space only days after Canterlot Castle was finished and she hadn’t moved since. The inside of her room was dim in the mornings, the low light making the rich burgundy furniture look almost black. Some of it had been here for nearly as long as she herself had, making a few of the pieces well over a thousand years old. The wardrobe was one such piece; she remembered it was given to her as a housewarming present from her own non-alicorn bloodline.

Her mood was far improved from the previous day. The dark feelings from the Everfree City had quieted and now were little more than a tiny prick on the edge of her senses. She knew deep down that this did not mean the threat was over, but it was apparent that the threat was not imminent. Whatever force had gathered all of that power in the Everfree must have expended it on something and, judging by the lack of disasters, it would be some time before anything came of it.

Celestia opened the finely made door and levitated her regalia out of the wardrobe’s dark depths. The golden yoke and her tiara settled gracefully in their proper places, followed shortly by her gilded shoes. She took a moment to examine herself in the mirror built into the back of the door and frowned. A brush followed her regalia out of the wardrobe, and she ran it through her unruly, pink mane. Her natural hair color was one of her most closely guarded secrets, simply because she never really liked such a pale shade of the color. Now Fluttershy, that mare had a nice shade of pink. Celestia sighed; no use being jealous of the Element of Kindness, it would probably just make Fluttershy feel bad if Celestia even joked that she was envious of her mane.

With her rebellious, lacklustre, pink monster tamed for the moment, she took a deep breath and with a whoosh, like a flame suddenly catching a gas burner, her normal hair style returned. She smiled at herself in the mirror, now this was more like it! She winked at herself and trotted to her chamber door. The thick wooden door opened with a flash of magic and she headed out into the hallway. She looked both directions, checking for anypony who might catch her. With nopony in sight, she bumped the door closed with her flank in a manner not at all becoming of a royal princess and giggled to herself as she headed off to breakfast with her sister.

Celestia nodded gracefully to the third set of guards she had passed since getting up that morning. Ugh, that gesture was making her get a crick in her neck. She entered the brightly lit royal dining hall where she and her sister Luna usually took meals together. She approached her seat next to the hunched form of her sister, who by the look of things, was poring over yesterday’s report on the alien items recovered when they had captured their equally alien owner, all the while munching on a cinnamon bun.

“Well good morning dear sister, still obsessed with the latest reports I see,” Celestia casually remarked as she slid into her seat next to her nocturnal sibling.

“Hmm,” Luna responded with a noncommittal hum, barely registering the presence of her older sister.

Celestia was a little annoyed at being completely ignored; just as she was about to ignore her sister in return, a devious idea struck her. She smiled and began to slowly munch on a small salad. “So Lulu, I was thinking, wouldn’t it just be the grandest idea to open the gates of Tartarus today? Just to air it out a bit, it has to be dreadfully stuffy in there by now,” she remarked in her best imperial tone.

“Mmm,” Luna responded, still absorbed in her reading.

“Then I was thinking, I could release Discord and ask him if he would turn the moon into cheese… followed by lunch. I was thinking about making some grilled cheese sandwiches. Does that sound good to you?” Celestia continued, still able to keep her voice from betraying her grin.

“Mmmhmm,” Luna answered, taking a small bite of her cinnamon bun, totally oblivious.

Celestia kept her laughter quiet as she finished her breakfast, before swapping Luna’s bun with a rolled up napkin and excusing herself. Celestia walked out of the room, munching on her pilfered pastry.

Luna ‘Hmm’ed’ again, still automatically responding to anyone who may have been speaking to her at the time. She remained completely oblivious until she made to take another bite of her breakfast, only to get a mouth full of linen instead. She looked at the napkin in shock for a moment, finally looking over to her sister’s empty seat…


Celestia giggled to herself as Luna’s voice echoed down the marble corridors. She still had about an hour until morning court had to begin and while teasing her sister was funny, it wasn’t really what she would call a fulfilling diversion. Suddenly an idea struck her; she would go and check up on the situation in Ponyville! Twilight’s recent report would make the perfect excuse to make sure everything was going well with Twilight’s studies. But first, she needed to make a stop at the Academy.


Professor Crystal Beaker watched over her assistants as they performed their various duties. The large, auditorium-like room was packed with various magical equipment and devices, pony researchers to operate them, as well as the large hulk that was the strange machine the alien creature (designated Subject E) was operating at the time of its capture. Today’s agenda was a full spectrum thermic materials breakdown of the odd machine. Ponies ran this way and that in the giant room, scribbling down readings on note pads or descriptions of parts that had been removed from the mysterious apparatus. It was all a storm of chaotic trial and error. New discoveries were happening right in front of her eyes; it was science in its most volatile state and she reveled in it.

A loud buzzing caught Crystal Beaker’s attention and she turned her eyes to the source. The results from the analysis were coming in, sheets of parchment being roughly scribbled on by the copy spell making a harsh buzzing noise from the machine. Her horn lit up and she took the parchment with her magic, levitating it over to read the results. She skimmed over the almost two page long section of unknown materials to arrive at the elements or substances they could identify.

“Iron, rubber, lead, sulfuric acid,” she mumbled to herself as she read off the massive list of materials.

“Silicon, zinc….. aluminum, hmmm.” That was odd, why would anyone make anything out of such a difficult to smelt, semi-precious material? Wouldn’t the cost of this amount be prohibitive?

“Rhodium and palladium.” Those were rare... and valuable, but there were only fractions of a featherweight. She skimmed to the bottom of the list, where a single entry caught her eye.

“What? That’s impossible…” Crystal said to herself. She looked around for a trustworthy student; she needed to confirm this before she got too excited.

“Ah! Miss Burner?” Crystal called to a bright blue mare standing across the room.

“Yes, do you need something Professor Beaker?”

“Could you be a dear and re-run section eight of the analysis? I need something confirmed,” The professor called.

“Do you need me to look for something specific?” Miss Burner asked, now a little curious as to why a section of the test had to be done again.

“No!.. Ehrm, no Miss Burner, the section just seemed a little anomalous, so if you would please rescan section eight.” Crystal Beaker almost choked on her own nervousness, if that test was right it would change things… lots of things, and she wasn’t about to lose this opportunity.

A few moments passed as the student, a Miss Bunsen Burner, re-ran the scan. After only a few seconds more the new piece of parchment was spat out of the machine. Professor Beaker ignored most of the sheet, eyes locking onto the one number that had the potential to change so much. Yes! The readings were accurate! She couldn’t help but laugh out loud in glee.

Almost two featherweight of platinum.

Author’s note: Celestia is such a troll in this chapter. And I've already started on chapter nine, so no need to worry about that.

Co-author’s note: Platinum is now a thing. You’re welcome. Again. I’m going to enjoy thinking of ways to screw with Celestia and the Academy as this thing goes on. Bwahaha.

Chapter9: Here We Go...

View Online

Chapter 9

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


“She can’t be here, I’m not ready yet!” Twilight ran around the small cell, frantically trying to get every little thing in tip top shape. “Not ready, not ready, not ready!” she breathlessly chanted while tidying up, getting her notes in order and trying to make the alien at least look a little presentable. A soft ‘clip clop, clip clop,’ echoed down the petrified hallway. NOT READY! she screamed in her mind. The hoof steps grew louder and the alien collapsed onto the floor and began to cough violently. Twilight froze. Oh no I forgot about that! He can’t meet the princess like this; he’s just going to get sick again!

Twilight quickly tried to sift through her vast mental library. She had to find a way to keep the creature safe and in a good enough mood to not misbehave in front of her teacher and princess. She needed a way to keep the princess’ magical field away from him…. or weaken it… or isolate him entirely… “Yes! Star Swirl’s experimentation sphere!” she suddenly shouted. She lit her horn and a shimmering purple sphere appeared around the violently hacking alien. His breathing started to calm down but he still didn’t look very good, wheezing on the floor. She pushed a little harder and the sphere grew larger, eventually forming to the walls and creating a purple shimmering field of energy that divided the cell by half.

Star Swirl’s experimentation sphere was a spell anypony who had ever wanted to make their own spells had to be familiar with. It allowed the user to create a space where all external and ambient magic was cancelled out to provide a “clean” working area so that no foreign magic disrupted the spell creation process. It was a spell Twilight had used many times and she chastised her own short-sightedness for not thinking of using it in the alien’s situation sooner. Still, she breathed a sigh of relief, the creature was going to be okay and the princess wouldn’t banish her to the moon for accidentally letting him choke to death.

The alien weakly pushed himself off the ground and into the strange sitting position he had been using for most of the day and glared at her eyes narrowed. “What was that?”

Twilight took a moment to realize that the creature had even spoken to her. “Oh, that. Umm , the princess is coming to visit today and I forgot that she would make you sick. It’s fine now, don’t worry.”

“Why does your princess make me… pain.” The translator chugged again, but the meaning was still clear enough.

Twilight winced. She couldn’t tell him the real reason the princess made him sick. He was a skittish creature and telling him that magic was the cause of his symptoms would probably make him distrust anyone with a horn! In an effort to avoid explaining, she levitated the small translator pyramid and tried to focus on making a few last second corrections before the princess came in. She had barely started before the alien snatched the sapphire focus out of her magical grip and held it behind his back, breaking her concentration.

“Hey! Give that back, you might have broken it!” Twilight protested. The creature just glared at her in return, determined not to return the device before he had his answer. They stared at one another for a long while, the clip, clop, of the hoofs in the hallway sounding very close.

Twilight was trying not to look nervous, but if he broke the focus there wouldn’t be a way to validate her claims of communication and that would set her back weeks! Not to mention the princess might even banish her for lying in a report! “Ugh, fine! The princess’ magic field is so strong that being near her triggers your symptoms. Any magic can cause it but so far the princess is the only pony who triggers it just by being in the same building, so can I please have my spell focus back now?!” Twilight shouted.

“Oh my faithful student, I didn’t know that shouting was your oh so successful way of communicating with unknown aliens. To think the secret would have been so simple.”

Twilight froze upon hearing the soft voice coming from the doorway. She turned her head so slowly that she could almost hear her neck squeal like a rusty hinge… and there was her teacher’s head poking into the room through the crack between the open iron door and the wall, looking at her with an expression of thinly veiled amusement. Neither one of them noticed their alien guest backing slowly into the corner of the room, his eyes wide with fear.


Professor Crystal Beaker rolled the small sphere of platinum across her office desk with a hoof. She hadn't let it out of her sight since she had separated it out of a strange grill of material that was caked in soot. In front of her lay copies of the surveillance photos of the Everfree City. Rows upon rows of the alien machines could be seen lining the streets. With only one or two more of these we could double the amount of platinum in the diarchy. The corners of her muzzle crept up her features and anypony watching might have a hard time telling if it was supposed to be a smile of joy or a sinister grin. And as the one to discover such a resource, I’ll be a hero!

With the questionably sane grin still plastered on her face, Crystal levitated the tiny silver marble and stuffed it in her saddle bag. With another quick flash of her horn, the bags were resting on her flank and a piece of parchment, along with an inkwell and quill floated just in front of her. “Hmm let’s see...” Dear princesses Celestia and Luna... She walked out the door still scribbling away at her letter and turned in the direction of Canterlot castle, scaring a few bystanders along the way with an occasional unnerving cackle.


I slowly backed into the rock wall behind me, images of horrible twisted once-people making deals with demons to gain magical power running through my head. I tried to fight the mental horror show by imagining all the good wizards and witches and fairies and all of those Disney do-gooders that had managed to quell the idea that magic was something unnatural and wholly against everything a human should stand for. I really wanted to believe that there was some kind of mistake, that these people weren't dealing in real magic the way monsters among men had done in the old stories. They didn't seem like people who would sell their soul to an unholy demon for power and I hoped I had heard wrong. Yes! That’s it, just another translation mistake, yeah, just gotta speak up and get this all straightened out...

I tried to pry my eyes away from the ground which had suddenly become oh so interesting to my panicked senses but they were stubborn and refused to budge, so I tried to simply open my mouth to ask if those words had been a mistake but the only thing to come out was a pathetic squeak. With a lot of effort I finally managed to pry my gaze away from the floor so I could look at the other occupants of my cell. There was the annoying purple one talking excitedly to the large white one I remembered from my first day in this prison. Strangely I felt no fear of the white horse this time, probably due to the lack of my lungs feeling like they were being stomped on. My squeak drew their attention and the purple one held up the translator... spell focus... thing. The white horse fully emerged from the door to sit beside the annoying purple one.

“Hello there,” the white horse spoke gently. She wore an expression that made me feel almost safe, like the feeling you get as a child sitting in your mother’s lap. I chastised myself for the juvenile impulse; I had to find out if what the purple one said was true before I could actually let myself relax.

“H-hello ma’am,” I choked. Judging by the expression on the white ones face I don't think it would have mattered if I had said hello or started to sing some raunchy drinking song, she looked overjoyed I had even managed to speak.

“I brought you something,” she said in the same comforting voice. A small package wrapped in a white cloth slowly pushed through the purple barrier that had divided the cell and thumped onto the floor. I reached down to take it, my eyes never leaving the pair in front of me. The white cloth was easy to unwrap being held on with a clever fold of the fabric and little else. I briefly wondered if it was because they didn't even trust me with a string. The wrapped object slowly came into view and I gasped the moment a bright golden chain slid from between the pages of my copy of Genesis.

I was stunned as my crucifix pendant slid out into my awaiting palm. I slipped the chain around my neck where it belonged and clutched the book to my chest, holding it to my heart like a piece of unbreakable armor. “Thank you ma’am,” I whispered, barely making a sound. I still felt like if I had been wearing boots I would have been shaking in them, but there was no denying I meant what I said.

“Princess, wasn't the Academy studying those?” The purple one cocked her head in curiosity.

The white horse grinned. “Oh no, they weren't using these.”


Earlier that day

A brown earth pony research assistant scratched his head with a hoof. He was sure he had put items three and forty seven here on the table with the rest of the “cultural” examples. He contemplated the two empty spots before looking around to make sure no one was watching. Grabbing an old peppermint and a dried up french fry, he placed them in the empty spots. “There we go, no one will ever know,” he said before clocking out for mid-morning break, never noticing the tip of the pastel, rainbow colored tail that disappeared behind the door frame.


“Really? That’s strange, they are usually so thorough,” the purple one commented; the white horse nodded in agreement before shifting her attention back to me.

“Celestia,” the white horse spoke again. “That is my name. Would you please tell me yours?” I choked again and panic seeped into my mind. Tales of mages twisting your own name into a weapon to be used against you, or simply a yoke to chain you, flooded my mind. No, there was no way I was going to tell them my real name, not until I knew I could trust them. My eyes darted around the cell briefly searching for some inspiration, anything to help me with my sudden need for an alias.

The wall, the cot, my own feet, finally the Bible in my arms. ‘Bible, Genesis, Christian, Chris!’ “My name is Chris!” I almost shouted, sounding more than a little relieved.

“Well then Chris, assuming she has not beaten me to the punch, I would like to introduce you to my student, Twilight Sparkle.” Celestia held out a single alabaster wing toward the purple unicorn and the annoying purple one looked sheepish for a moment before turning her gaze back to me; the curiosity in her eyes burned with enough intensity to lead a hundred felines to their doom.

“It’s nice to finally speak to you, Chris,” Twilight said as she levitated a scroll and parchment out of her saddle bags, already scratching down notes. I had to force myself to breath slowly and not have a panic attack on the spot.

“You look uncomfortable Chris, is their anything we can do to help?” The same motherly tone from Celestia breached the sound of my breathing.

“I-is...” I tried to force the question out again. Is this really magic? You aren't really consorting with twisted demons right? You aren't going to sacrifice my soul in some bloody ritual right?

“Would you like to get some fresh air?” Celestia smiled and gestured to the door.

“Princess! Are you sure that's a good idea?” Twilight squawked, nervousness suddenly creeping into her voice.

“I’m sure it will be fine Twilight, he is a civilized creature and he wouldn't try to hurt any of my little ponies, would you?” Celestia glanced pointedly at me and I jerked my head nervously from side to side.

Twilight poked her head out of the door and motioned to someone outside. A second later the jerk with the spear waltzed in and quickly unlocked my chains, phasing through the shimmering wall like it wasn’t even there. He shot me a glare as the chains fell to the ground and quickly moved to stand beside Celestia. “Is there anything else you need, your Highness?”

“Yes, if you would be so kind as to inform Commander Spitfire that we are going to move our guest to his more permanent lodgings.”

Celestia motioned at the door and the jerk went quickly on his way with a curt, “Yes, your Highness.”

Twilight’s horn glowed again and the purplish field shrank to just a small cylinder that just barely fit me inside. The princess motioned for us to follow before heading out into the hallway. Twilight shot me a nervous look and motioned me through ahead of her and I quickly made my way out of the small cell, Twilight following close behind. I had never seen the rest of the building outside of my cell and in a way it was fascinating... if it hadn't felt like I was walking to my own execution. I tried to calm myself again, to tell my mind that I was imagining things and that this wasn't some kind of death march. It didn't work, of course, but I still had to try it.

We came to a large set of double doors that were opened for us from the outside and I caught my first glimpse of the town that wasn't outside my tiny window. The large glass windows of whatever building I was in offered a great view of a market in full swing. Ponies went about their business in a way that made me think about the few times my mother had dragged me to the farmers’ market on the square. Celestia quickly tilted her head to the two guards in silver armor that flanked the double doors and she didn't miss a beat as she headed for the front door.

The fire colored one and the jerk joined our little group just as Celestia made her way into the early afternoon sun. “Here we go,” Twilight sighed as I pushed my way through the door and joined the princess outside.

Author’s note: “Here we go” indeed. Also, sorry for the short-ish chapter and the longer than usual wait, stuff went down this week.

Co-Author’s Note: I... have nothing to say. Try again next week. -Admari

Chapter10: "Hey! Look Over There!"

View Online

Chapter 10

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

A silver grey mare sat outside of a massive pair of doors. There was little that drew much attention to the mare herself, with her simple silvery fur and black mane and beaker cutie mark. If she chose she would be able to blend into almost any crowd without effort. Far more eye catching than the mare were the doors she sat in front of; they were large and obsidian colored with a speckling of tiny, glowing crystals that made the portal look like a portrait of the night sky. A single large crescent moon was set in the center, made of some unidentified alabaster stone. For all the mare knew the stone may have very well been a piece of the moon itself. She raised a hoof and knocked.

“Enter.” A voice floated out into the hallway, barely making it past the thick obsidian threshold.

“Princess, it’s me, Professor Crystal Beaker. I have some information that you may find very... interesting.” The grey mare called as she slowly pushed the doors open. She emerged into a large bedroom. The walls were a dark purple velvet. More of the tiny crystals that graced the door also coated the interior. Much of the furniture in the room was several millennia old. Of course, a few pieces were clever reproductions of things that just couldn't stand the test of their owner’s long absence. The dark alicorn sat on a couch in front of a large fireplace, a stack of papers setting next to her which had obviously been holding her attention before the grey mare had made herself known. Now, however, Crystal had Luna’s full attention as she made her way to a small cushion to the side of the couch.

“The results from the material analysis came in and there are some... unique properties that have caught my attention.” Professor Beaker said conversationally as she made herself comfortable.

“Well, out with it, do not keep us in suspense!” Luna rubbed her hooves together, her face split in a large grin.

“Fine, I’ll get right to the point.” The professor rooted through a small saddlebag she had draped over her back, and pulled out a small, silver sphere. The princess looked at the sphere in confusion.

“What is this?” Luna Lit her horn surrounding the tiny sphere in her magical aura to levitate it to get a better look.

Professor Crystal gasped as the blue field began to glow with an almost unbearable white light. “PRINCESS, NO!” She screamed in vain.

The tiny sphere suddenly shot into the sky, punching a small hole in the marble roof, a single shaft of sunlight the only evidence of its existence.

“Ummm. Oops.” Luna grinned sheepishly. Luna coughed trying to regain her composure. “What pray, was that strange substance?”

Crystal Beaker sighed and hung her head. “That, princess, was over two featherweight of pure platinum.” The gray mare said morosely.

“Oh, we see...” Luna couldn't keep the stunned look off of her face.

The two mares sat in strained silence for several more seconds, neither one willing to break the suddenly awkward air.

“Princess?” Crystal finally spoke up.

“Yes, my little pony?” Luna answered, staring up at the shaft of sunlight.

“That was worth-” The professor started.

“We know, my little pony.” Luna interrupted.

“Aren’t we going to-” Crystal started again.

“Yes, my little pony.” Luna interrupted again, still staring at the hole through which something worth more than the entirety of Canterlot had just vanished.




I awoke to a sharp pain in my head and the feeling of being wrapped in the embrace of a warm bed. ‘What happened? When did I get here?’ The questions forced their way into my groggy mind. It was only another moment after that I felt the rest of the pain slam into my senses. Any thoughts of going back to sleep or even pretending to be asleep were dashed in seconds. I jerked upright in the bed and held my own shoulders as the pain from dozens of bruises, and scrapes.

My eyes were screwed shut, so I failed to see the pony I had dubbed “Jerk” jump up from his spot on the floor, the point of his spear coming to rest only a few inches from my face. He shouted something I didn’t catch and the sound of many sets of hooves thundering up some stairs was what finally got me to look up and notice his (and his spears) presence. The sharp pain on the left side of my head flared up and the memories of the previous day flooded to the fore of my mind.


I blinked the sun out of my eyes and was greeted by such a perfect winter day that it almost made me forget I was being paraded in front of a town of talking equines, wearing nothing but a pair of khaki colored shorts. The small group of myself, the annoying purple unicorn, aka Twilight, the Jerk, the Jerk’s boss lady, and the princess that would apparently kill me just from being in the same room walked down a perfect cobblestone road through a perfect little village square.

The ponies were arranged around me in a diamond with the princess leading the way, Twilight at the rear and the two soldier ponies off to either side. It was a good thing too, because the townsfolk- err... townsponies, were pressing in as close as they dared to catch a glimpse of the freaky alien that had been locked up in the middle of their town for weeks. I wasn't paying much attention to them, really. My attention was fixed on a large tree in the distance that the little group was heading towards.

We made it out of the square with little incident, besides pulling a small crowd of persistent onlookers behind us. The tree loomed closer and my imagination was beginning to play havoc with my mind. I imagined all kinds of dark rituals taking place underneath my corpse as it dangled from a high branch like some kind of giant voodoo doll. Even the ever-present smile of the pink pony (who had joined us at some point I missed) seemed to take on a sinister flair. We passed a row of perfect thatch roof houses and somewhere in my fear flooded mind I was beginning to find the perfection of literally everything unnerving. Where were the broken fence posts, or the potholes, or some chipped paint? It was almost like living in a hallmark card and it was adding fuel to my growing panic.

I had managed to keep my rising fear from being completely obvious so far, or none of the ponies had mentioned it, anyway. They talked about mundane things like the weather, or about cupcakes and what was the best kind of frosting to top them with, creamy or sugary. The tree we were slowly approaching was coming into view now and I could make out features like windows, a door, and a single sign with a picture of a book with some arcane looking text beneath it written in black paint. ‘They really are leading me to some kind of magical lab...’ The tension was too much, there was no way I was going to let anyone march me to my imminent doom!

“Hey, look, a dragon!” I suddenly shouted, and then promptly slapped myself for being such a moron. Why on earth would there be a dragon standing in the middle of-

“Oh hey, it’s Spike. HELLO SPIKE!” Twilight called out to a tiny figure standing by the side of the road. The figure, with scales and several other obviously reptilian features, waved back and started to waddle towards us.


I snatched the floating blue translator out of Twilight’s grasp and bolted for a nearby alleyway. The moment I cleared Twilight’s shield I almost collapsed in a coughing fit from the Princess being so close. I heard ponies shouting behind me but I managed to hold myself together. My feet slapped the cold cobblestone road until I reached the edge of an unshoveled alleyway where the clean stones gave way to freshly fallen snow.

My mind didn't even register the cold bite of the snow and ice I was scrambling through as I cleared the alley way onto a deserted back road. Looking around, I spotted the distant forest I had emerged from three weeks ago, I started sprinting towards it through the snow, by this point having no idea where my pursuers might be. Only one thing mattered right now, and that was getting the hell outta here.

The town vanished behind me, replaced by a dirt road leading straight to the still distant, dark, forest. “I’m going to make it!” I said through panting breaths. I was no runner and the prolonged sprint was starting to take its toll. I ignored the burning in my lungs as I ran in favor of the feeling of hope building in the back of my mind. I crested a hill and nearly collided with one of the few ponies I didn't mind spending time around. The yellow winged pony was more than a little surprised by my sudden appearance and crouched in the middle of the road with a tiny “Eep!” I avoided her with a deft sidestep and kept sprinting.

I managed to hear a strange sound through the blood rushing in my ears, it sounded like something was cutting through the air at a high speed. It actually reminded me of that sound you hear when a speeding vehicle passes a pedestrian. It approached so fast that I almost didn’t have time to react. I threw myself onto the frozen gravel and threw my hands over my head just as a rainbow colored contrail shot over me with a loud roar of rushing air. “AHHH!” I screamed. ‘If that had hit... Holy crap they really are trying to kill me!’

It only took me a few moments to calm down and get back up; the adrenalin in my system probably had something to do with that. I only managed another few steps down the road when a much slower, much quieter projectile slammed into my back, sending me tumbling a short ways down the gravel road. We came to a stop and I recognised the Jerk with his hooves planted firmly on my chest, holding me down. I panicked and started thrashing around, kicking and punching, scratching and biting, anything to get away from the light blue pony. I didn't really accomplish much other than hurting my hands, he was still wearing armor.

A stupid idea popped into my head and I stuck out a finger. “Oh my God look over there!”

“Ha, I know your tricks! I’m not going to fall fo-” POP! The Jerk held his bleeding nose and rolled off of me. “Oww, what the hey!” He moaned in an exaggerated, nasally voice, which was one of the funniest things I had ever seen but I didn't exactly have time to hang around and rub it in. I heard someone screaming “Stop!” from down the road as I turned to resume my sprint towards the forest. Just as I was taking the first step a hoof shot out and jerked my legs out from under me, dumping me back onto the frozen gravel. I heard the voice call out “STOP!” this time far closer. A heavy weight crashed down onto my spine and I thrashed to try and throw it off.

A very light-blue marshmallow entered my peripheral vision in a blur. Only, according to the side of my head, it was much harder than a marshmallow. My vision swam and I heard the muffled sound of a loud meaty thump and someone gasping, followed by a series of soft, hurried whispers. “Oh my gosh I'm so sorry!”


I shook my head to clear out the lingering memories. There in front of me were all of the ponies I had met. The Jerk still held his spear only inches from my face, in spite of the nice yellow mare tugging on his fore leg. I couldn't help but notice the purple splotch around his eye, which I didn't remember putting there. Twilight and the Princess stood out in front of the other ponies. “Hello Chris, how are you feeling?” Princess Celestia spoke in that calming voice of hers. I narrowed my eyes, fixing them with a heated glare.



Black miasma stretched out over a frame of bones. Like before, it coiled into tight knots, simulating the structures that the skeleton once possessed in life. This time it happened slowly, carefully; no mistakes could be made. Where her other creations were fun little experiments, constructs of bone made from the remains of many creatures, created only to protect or to work, this one was different. Important.

The ghostly afterimage of six brightly colored ponies arranged in a loose ‘v’ bulled itself into the forefront of her mind, distracting her from her work. ‘Shh, I'm making my self. I need it to be perfect.’ she thought before resuming her intense concentration on the task at hand.

A feeling of confusion pushed into her thoughts, displacing the delicate plans she was building in her mind.

“Am I not royal enough for you!? Do you not know who I am?” The phrase popped up instantly, too loud and too sudden to ignore.

‘I don’t know yet…’ The voice really needed to be quiet, she had to concentrate.

A feeling of fear crept into the confusion, the sensations became more insistent and disruptive.

‘Shhh, be quiet or you are going to make me mess up!’ She thought, the ‘tone’ of the message beginning to climb into annoyance and anger.

The feelings grew to anger and frustration. They practically shouted her thoughts aside now. She had to stop working to prevent herself from making a mistake.

‘QUIET!’ She bellowed into her mind. She waited, listening for the nagging thoughts to try and interfere again. When no further noise was made she continued her work, putting the finishing touches on the first stage of what would be her masterpiece. The moment she felt the last connection fall into place, she stretched it out tested its movements. Satisfied with her work, she placed a fleshless hand upon the edge of a hastily exhumed crate that had been buried deep under the soil and hauled the bones up out of the once exquisite container. She stood upright as easily as if she had been doing it for decades. If she had possessed any face at that moment she was sure she would be grinning with pride.

Oh well, she would fix that soon enough.

Author’s Note: And here is chapter ten, fresh off of the assembly line!
Don't forget to comment and tell us what you think, we love hearing from our readers!

Co-Author’s Note: I feel kinda bad for Soarin’. Not because he got punched in the face (twice), but because we’re not anywhere close to done with him. Also, apparently I’m really good at coming up with titles...


Chapter11: Twilight's Bad Hair Day

View Online

Chapter 11



“Words in a foreign language.”

“Quoting in thought”


“Well?” Chris asked in a flat tone from his spot on the bed. Applejack was nervous, the whole situation was way over her head and she always hated when she didn’t even know enough about the situation to have an opinion.

“Well, what?” Twilight responded.

The alien creature that had been captured over three weeks ago was sitting right here in front of her in Twilight’s bed and she couldn’t really figure out why he seemed to be so cranky. Twi and the princess had told her he had made a run for it around lunch time. Was that the reason, cause he got his flank handed to him? If it was, it seemed awfully juvenile to the blonde cowpony.

After a few more minutes of tense silence Chris sighed and hung his head “Look if you’re going to kill me, can you just get it over with, I don’t have all day.”

The room went nuts.

“WHAT!?” Twilight screamed, shock was easy to hear in her voice.

Rarity babbled incoherently, trying desperately to regain some composure.

Pinkie instantly flipped from happy and bubbly to looking like she was on the verge of tears.

Fluttershy’s mouth fell open and she stopped trying to pull Soarin away.

The princess’ eyes narrowed, her face unreadable.

Spitfire looked just as stunned as anyone, but quickly buried it behind a calm professional exterior.

Soarin pressed his weapon closer, seeming to still be angry about the bloody nose… and everyone seeing Fluttershy give him a black eye (which had been hilarious).

Fleetfoot never moved from her place in the corner. She didn’t even flinch at the creature’s strange accusation.

Then there was Rainbow…

Rainbow Dash quickly closed the distance between her and Chris. “What the hay is your problem, huh!? No pony has tried to hurt you since you showed up, so why don’t yo-“

Rainbow was cut off abruptly when the human actually growled and took a swipe at her. She dodged easily enough while Applejack had the presence of mind to conveniently step in between Soarin and Chris, preventing any issues with the business end of a sharp spear and an already angry stallion, while getting ready to buck the suddenly hostile alien square in the jaw.

“BULLSHIT!” Chris shouted at his collected audience. “You tried to kill me! If you had hit me- forget kill, you would have torn me in half!” He shifted his glare towards the three military ponies. “And you! You broke into my home, assaulted me, destroyed my property, kidnapped me, and locked me in a cell for three weeks with no clothes and barely any food!” Finally his gaze turned to the shivering Twilight and the now glaring princess. “You almost kill me every time you’re in the same damn room!” he shouted, jabbing a strange appendage at Celestia. “And last but not least, the purple witch here has been doing God knows what to me for weeks! So, if you wouldn’t mind, either just kill me now and get it over with or let me go home!” Chris finished panting softly, the rest of the room silent as the grave.

“Please be cal-“ The princess was cut off by a sudden, distinct sproing from behind her. The entire room slowly turned their heads to look at the still shivering lavender mare, cowering behind Celestia’s hooves. The sound came again. Sproing. AJ noticed strands of Twilight’s mane popping out of place. Poor Twilight looked like she was about to have a Want-it-Need-it grade breakdown.

“I’m not a witch…” Twilight whispered, almost too quietly to hear.

“Twilight, are you-“ Celestia was cut off again as Twilight suddenly shot from under her mentor’s hooves and into the face of the suddenly terrified alien. The magic shielding him from the Princess’s presence faded, leaving him to gasp and sputter, clutching his chest, not daring to cough with the psychotic mare only inches from him. Celestia gasped and quickly took over the isolation spell.

“I AM NOT A WITCH!!!” Twilight shouted in his face. Her horn glowed suddenly and AJ quickly shifted her weight, ready to pounce and pull Twilight off of the poor thing. But Applejack wasn’t quick enough. Twilight tore the supports from one of the bookshelves over her bed, sending a cascade of literature down on the head of the alien. Chris shouted and threw his hands up over himself, too late to stop most of the damage. He scrambled away from Twilight and the other ponies falling off the bed with a loud thump, he clawed his way into a corner and curled his legs over himself and trembled in terror of the manic librarian.

Celestia suddenly cleared her throat, drawing the room’s attention away from the alien shivering in the corner. “I think my student and I need to have a little chat in private.” Her horn glowed a brilliant gold and suddenly she and Twilight vanished in the loud pop of a teleportation spell.

The military ponies, sans Fleetfoot, looked around nervously. Pinkie Pie still looked heartbroken. Fluttershy, somehow the least stunned by the outburst, was trying to coax the terrified creature out of the corner. Rarity just stared with a strange, vacant look on her face before finally uttering a single word the cowpony would not have ever imagined coming out of the high class mare’s mouth.


“Yah can say that again Sugacube.”


‘Ok, nothing to be afraid of. Just breathe in, and breathe out, breathe in... and breathe out.’ I slowly forced myself to calm down from the scare of a lifetime. If I were a betting man I would wager that that incident just shaved off about ...hmmm, a decade’s worth of my miserable existence.

My senses slowly returned to me and, to my surprise, my vision was filled with a pair of giant, blue eyes. I nearly freaked out again, but the eyes turned out to belong to the yellow and pink one, one of the two pony creatures I didn’t despise. When she finally managed to get me to look up, she sighed in relief and turned to the rest of the room.

“Ummm… If you don’t mind, could you clear the room please I think we will get a lot further if there were fewer ponies crowding the poor dear… Umm, especially you guardsponies. I mean, no offense but… you know.” The little yellow mare cast a meaningful look towards the Jerk. For all her quiet demeanor, I was surprised how ready the others were to follow her advice.

“Don’t gotta tell me twice.” The Jerk’s boss lady mumbled. She and the quiet one I smacked with a Bible the day this whole mess started quickly trotted out the door. “Come on Soarin, let the mare work.” She called back into the room. The jerk, now known as Soarin… Actually, I think I’ll just keep calling him “Jerk”, Followed after his boss trotting out of the room.

The Rainbow one, who had set me off so spectacularly, waved goodbye to them and shot me a smug look, I returned it with a glare. I hoped would burn right through her.

“Umm, Rainbow Dash, if you wouldn’t mind, could you go too?” The yellow and pink one seemed to slowly get quieter and quieter until her voice was just a squeak.

“What?!” Rainbow Dash half shouted.

“We aren’t going to get anywhere if he isn’t relaxed, and he won’t relax if you don’t leave… Umm, I'm really sorry about this.” The yellow one pleaded.

“Fine! I’ll just go hang out with the Wonderbolts.” Rainbow Dash huffed before blasting through the larger window in the room into the wintry day. Wow she was fast… Wait… how did she not just shatter the glass? Ugh, nevermind.

Once she was out of the room I let myself relax uncurling out of my spot in the corner and stretching out my cramped legs. There were only four ponies in the room now, my favorite yellow one, my second favorite pink one, an orange one, and a white one, both of whom I had only met once before. The yellow one called my attention back to her by cautiously touching my calf and giving me a sorrowful look. “I'm really sorry about my friends; they didn’t mean what they did, honest.”

Didn’t mean what they di- Oh hell no! My anger flared up again, only to peter out as I felt just how exhausted I really was. I was actually surprised at myself, I had never blown up at anyone like that in my whole life. Then again, I had never been assaulted and kidnapped before either. The stalled anger came up as a sigh of frustration and exhaustion. “Look, errm, what was your name again?” huh weird I hadn’t actually ever caught the yellow ones name.

“Oh, I'm sorry how rude of me, my name is Fluttershy.” She hurriedly replied.

“Uh, right, Fluttershy…” ‘Weird names allround.’ “Look, I’ll make you a deal. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but your friends have done a lot of things that have been really bad for me in the last few weeks. If you just let me go, I’ll go back to my town and you never have to see me ever again. I won’t hurt anyone, or anything, I’ll just go home. Sound good?” As soon as I finished the pink one let out a loud wail and started sobbing. ‘Was it something I said?’

“Umm, actually-“

“Now just wait one apple buckin’ minute there. Poor Fluttershy here can’t make that decision, ya jus’ have ta wait for tha’ princess ta’ get back!” the orange and… blonde one stepped forward.

I scowled at her, a little peeved at the interruption. “And you are?”

“Mah names Applejack, I run Sweet Apple Acres. We grow the best apples in all of Equestria. She introduced herself with a little flare, apparently undaunted by my hostile tone.

“Well Applejack, I haven’t done anything wrong. I didn’t hurt anyone, I didn’t steal anything, I even stayed on my own land. I have been arrested without cause and illegally detained, so you can imagine I don’t really see a need to deal with whoever is in-charge. All I want is for no one to assault me again on my way out of town.” I glared at her, hoping to get her to back down.

“Sorry partner, the princess is in charge. She can do what she thinks is right, and right now that’s keeping you under her hoof.” She replied returning my glare equally.

Just as I was about to quip about getting trapped by some kind of race of fascist horses, the pink one suddenly appeared beside me and wrapped her hooves around me in the strongest, bone crushing-est, hug I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.

“I’M SORRY!” She wailed right into my face. She was crying so hard that her tears reminded me of a busted fire hydrant.

“Help! Can’ breathe!” I gasped through her hug. The other ponies in the room just giggled at her antics.

‘God help me.’


“Princess Luna!” A night guard burst into her chambers, running past a nervous looking mare hanging around the door to the royal bedroom to find the princess of the night pacing back and forth in front of a roaring fireplace. “Princess.” He greeted with a short bow. Luna returned the gesture with a nod of her head.

“Report.” She said evenly despite an eager tinge to her face.

The night guard saluted sharply and began to relay his message. “The 3rd Unicorn corps. detected the object. It appears to have left Canterlot airspace and is starting to descend over the town of Ponyville. We have already sent word via dragon fire but there hasn't been a response.” He finished and stood at attention waiting for the princess to either dismiss him or give further orders.

“Has my sister been notified of the situation?” Luna asked after a moment of contemplation.

“No, your Highness. She scheduled an outing to Ponyville around noon but she has yet to return. As of the time I left the intelligence center they were preparing the dragon fire to send a notification.” The guard replied never leaving his stiff stance.

“Very good, thank you for the update noble night guard.” Luna turned and returned to the fireplace as the guard saluted once more and quickly left the room. The Mare that had been nervously pacing near the door followed her over and flopped down on the same cushion she had occupied an hour ago.

“What are we going to do?” she moaned burying her head in her hooves. “If my superiors find out I took something like that off of Academy grounds without permission they are going to fire me!”

“Do not worry my little pony, surely a letter from a princess would stay their hooves in the matter. They will not be able to touch you should I forbid it, Professor Beaker.” Luna replied as she looked into the cheery flames dancing in the hearth.

“You would do that for me princess?” Crystal Beaker perked up.

“Of course, intelligence dealing with the safety of the kingdom should be delivered quickly and pass through as few hooves as possible. If this information had been slipped to the wrong pony we could have had the other nations trying to wrest this new resource from us within the day. No, you did the right thing coming straight to me.” Luna ruffled the mane of the nervous doctor like one would a foal. “You shall never come to harm for doing the right thing, not if I have any say in the matter, and if the day that a princess of Equestria has no say in such a matter ever comes to pass, I fear such things will be the least of our problems.” Her face dropped out of her serene smile as her thoughts turned to more serious matters.

“The issue still remains, what are we to do with the Everfree City? According to what you have told me, the machines there are likely to contain enough platinum to destroy most of Equis if it were to fall into the wrong hooves.” Luna paused, her mind was racing trying to come up with the best course of action. ”We cannot be as obvious as to assault and secure the city, such a reckless act would leave us with innumerable changeling infiltrators within days.” She mumbled to herself.

“Princess? I have an idea you might find worthwhile.” Crystal Beaker grinned deviously her earlier nervousness now just a faint memory.

“Yes? What is it?” Luna leaned her head in closer at the professors beckoning. After a few short whispers the princess sprouted a grin of her own. “Professor that is brilliant!” Luna looked like she might die any second from excitement. “I shall make all of the arrangements soon, expect my summons within the week.”

“Thank you your highness.” The professor bowed and made her way out, her crazy grin back on her face.


“Ahm bored.” Apple Bloom rolled over on the small pile of hay that occupied a corner of the Cutie Mark Crusaders clubhouse.

A heavy sigh came from the opposite corner where Sweetie Belle was attempting to do her magic homework. “I’m sorry, I just can't seem to get this right.”

“Don't sweat it, the only thing on the crusading list was garbage pony anyway.” Scootaloo fluttered her wings in the corner trying to get them to lift her off the wooden floor.

The orange light from the setting sun flooded into the tiny clubhouse. The three fillies all let out a collective sigh of boredom.

“Well we might as well get an early night. Its the weekend tomorrow so we can get to crusadin’ bright an early!” Apple Bloom rolled off her spot on the hay pile.

“I guess you're right, c’mon Sweetie Belle.” Scootaloo joined Apple Bloom in a slow trot out the door.

Sweetie Belle picked up her magic homework and glared at it. Why couldn't she get it? It was only a simple levitation spell! She sighed again and started to follow the other two when a small whistling sound caught their ears.

“Whut’s that?” Apple Bloom asked. The three girls stopped and listened as the sound grew louder.

“Sounds like its getting closer!” Scootaloo whispered.

Suddenly a loud crash shook the tree house and a board fell from the ceiling. The fillies were starting to panic and run but then a tiny silver marble fell from the hole in the roof, smacking Scootaloo on the top of the head.

“Ouch!” Scootaloo rubbed her bruised noggin with a hoof.

The tiny silver marble came to a rest in the floor right in between the three of them.

“What is it? Sweetie Belle asked amazed the tiny little thing had hit their clubhouse hard enough to shake loose the ceiling boards.

Scootaloo buzzed her wings and stomped angrily over to the small sphere. “I don’t know, but it hurt! Stupid marble!” She kicked it.

The moment her hoof touched the silver sphere Scootaloo shot into the air, smashing her already abused head into the ceiling and punching a hole right through the old wooden roof, where she promptly got stuck.

The other two fillies looked back and forth at one another then down to the innocent looking sphere as Scootaloo dangled from the roof, groaning in pain.

“Get me down from here!”

Author’s Note: Forget children with matches, this is fillies with a flamethrower! mUAH HA HA HA! I also actually came up with the chapter title this time! Woo! go me!

Co-Author’s Note: Oh God. Pinkie’s crying... HIDE THE SHARP THINGS!

Chapter12: Cats Prefer Hands

View Online

Chapter 12

(Just a reminder: I OWN NOTHING!!!)

“Words in a foreign language.”

“Twilight, are you alright?” Celestia’s voice rang sweetly in Twilight’s ear. Celestia’s tone reminded Twilight very much of the way her own mother sounded when she was concerned. Twilight lifted her head and turned it this way and that lethargically. To her surprise, she found herself in the Solar Princess’s luxurious bed chamber.

“What happened?” Twilight mumbled weakly.

“The creature from the Everfree City, Chris, insulted you… and then you attacked him.” The princess was sitting on a red cushion a few feet away from Twilight; both of them were occupying a small sitting area in front of a window open to the breezy Canterlot evening. Celestia had a look of motherly affection on her face that matched the tone of her voice perfectly.

Twilight mumbled a little under her breath before forcing her stiff body into a sitting position. “Why do I feel so…” Twilight trailed off, still a little disoriented.

“I am sorry, that was my doing.” Celestia began, “When you attacked Chris I had to take over the isolation spell and then cast a teleportation spell over that. The landing was less than gentle I am afraid…” Celestia trailed off and her ears swiveled backwards in embarrassment. “The royal healers swiftly healed the minor wounds you suffered,” she added quickly, “but you may be stiff for some time.” Celestia looked out the open window and beyond the glittering city of Canterlot, towards the miniscule glow in the valley beyond that was Ponyville. She examined the small village against the purple evening sky in silence.

“Twilight, will you tell me what happened?”

When Celestia looked back to her student she was surprised to see a look of horror and embarrassment on Twilight’s face, although she was truthfully relieved that Twilight at least had the presence of mind to be ashamed of her previous actions.Twilight buried her face in her hooves, her mane slowly deteriorating into a purple bird’s nest as she tried to avert a violent mental breakdown. When she finally raised her head, her eyes were bloodshot and tears were beginning to well up in the corners of her eyes. “I-I'm sorry.” She choked out. “I- it’s just that stupid MYTH!” The volume of Twilight’s voice rose sharply as she spoke so that she had very nearly shouted the final word. Celestia was taken aback by her student’s emotional response; the princess had never seen her student react so violently to a mere insult.

Twilight sank down into her pillow, suddenly looking very tired. “It was right after I was accepted as your personal student. When I would go to the advanced classes at the academy…” Twilight took a shuddering, angry breath; her brows knitted together in a way that suggested she was thinking about something unpleasant. “There was a group of older fillies that would spread rumors about me. That I was a witch, that my skills in magic weren’t natural, that I had to have sacrificed foals to Tartarus to make it into the academy at such a young age.” Her ears folded backwards defensively.

“Twi-“ Celestia started to comfort her student.

“I know it’s stupid; there is no way I would ever do anything like that. It was all just some stupid bullies… but they always made it sound so believable. A lot of ponies didn’t know the difference!” She shakily pushed herself back to her hooves, only to glare at the carpet. “I didn’t ever want anything to do with any of them again, so I stopped trying and just went to the library; the books never said anything…” A tear rolled down Twilight’s cheek and she hiccupped once, softly.

Celestia nodded her head in understanding, knowing perfectly well what had happened after that.

“The worst part is that now I feel like I owe them something.” Twilight hung her head and hiccupped once more. “I mean, if it wasn’t for them, I would never have met my friends. I wou-” Twilight cut off as the massive alabaster wing of Celestia wrapped around her, forming a giant, feathery blanket. The embrace of her teacher immediately drove all the unpleasantness from Twilight’s mind, and although she still hiccupped once or twice and her cheeks were still damp, she felt safe at her mentor’s side. So strong was her sense of relief that Twilight very nearly fell asleep at Celestia’s side, and she might have had Celestia not spoken once more.

“Jealousy can lead to ponies to do some very foalish things, Twilight. You don’t owe them a single thought.” Celestia whispered.

“But-“Twilight started.

“Who is to say that I wouldn’t have sent you to Ponyville even if you hadn’t imposed isolation upon yourself? You were always the perfect one to help me bring my sister back, and it was always your destiny to become an Element. I doubt a lack of foreknowledge would have stopped you, or made any difference at all.” Celestia rested a hoof on her student’s shoulder giving her a comforting pat.

Twilight looked at her mentor with teary eyes and nodded. It seemed like a bit of weight was gone from her shoulders, but the whole ordeal had left her exhausted. Hopefully she could help deal with the alien- Chris, now, no matter what petty insults he threw at her.

“You still have to apologize to Chris…” Celestia said, smiling softly as Twilight’s only response was to sleepily bob her head before she nodded off, still secure in Celestia’s voluminous wing.

Celestia’s smile faded a little as the memory of the alien’s words surfaced in her mind.

“ … As do I.”


The next morning, Twilight and Celestia reappeared with a soft pop in the warm wooden confines of Twilight’s bedroom in the Ponyville library.

“Where is everypony?” Twilight looked around at the empty bedroom where they had left the alien the previous day. She quickly ran down the steps into the main room, through the kitchen, and even down to the basement, but still found no sign of her friends or their otherworldly guest. Celestia followed her increasingly agitated student at a much sedated pace, carrying a small piece of parchment in her golden aura.

“I believe we will find your friends at the Carousel Boutique.” Celestia stated, levitating the parchment over to her now almost panicking student.

“What’s this?” Twilight practically snatched the paper from the princess’ aura and quickly read over it:

Dear Twilight
Chris didn’t want to sleep in the library, and I’m afraid he was quite insistent. We have set up new sleeping arrangements in my boutique.
P.S. Please hurry over when you get this.

Twilight floated the scrap of parchment over to the table that occupied the center of the room. “We should hurry.” Twilight said, sounding close to panic, as she snapped up her saddlebags and headed for the door, leaving the princess to catch up as she tried and failed to suppress a small smile at her student’s behavior.

The trip through Ponyville wasn’t too bad, as long as one didn’t mind the dozens of ponies who repeatedly stopped the pair with a bow and a cheery “Good morning!” to the Princess and her student. When they finally were within sight of the posh looking shop Celestia paused for a moment to cast the isolation spell over herself. The feel of her countless magical connections to the land being severed caused Celestia to grimace; she hated the feeling of being disconnected from the world, but it was a necessity until they knew where exactly Chris was.

As they approached the front door a fully armored Soarin snapped to attention.

“Report.” Celestia said curtly.

“The creature was insistent that it would not sleep at the Ponyville Library, so it was brought here. There have been no further disturbances.” He stated as he stared straight ahead.

Celestia nodded. “Carry on.” It would do well, she thought as she dismissed the guard pony, to start disseminating information about Chris through the local populace. Celestia doubted that having everypony calling him ‘creature,’ or ‘alien’ would inspire a positive first impression.

Twilight knocked on the door and moved to enter the boutique, only to forced backwards as the door popped open and admitted the face of an obviously sleep-deprived Fluttershy. “Shh.” she hissed quietly, throwing a furtive look over her shoulder before turning back to address the pair, a blush of embarrassment appeared on her face when she realized she had just shushed a princess of Equestria.

“I'm so sorry.” Fluttershy whispered as she led them into the building. “But he hasn’t slept well and we didn’t want to wake him.” She led them over to Rarity’s fainting couch in the back of the shop. Twilight tried valiantly to suppress a giggle at the sight of Chris laying curled up into a ball on the soft couch while an unkempt Rarity looked on with an undignified huff. Rarity’s expression confused Twilight until she spotted the white ball of fur perched on Chris’s side. Opal the cat was practically infamous in Ponyville for being almost as temperamental as Angel Bunny (not that anyone would ever tell poor Fluttershy her favorite pet was a proper terror), and here she was treating Chris like a giant pillow. Twilight gave Celestia a half-inquisitive, half-disparaging look. For her part, Celestia was failing to hide a smirk behind her hoof. Deciding that her friend deserved at least a little sympathy, Twilight moved forward and offered Rarity a sympathetic pat on the back.

“I think its about time we woke him up.” Celestia said after schooling her face back into its usual graceful mask. Fluttershy nodded and gently prodded the sleeping form of Chris in the arm.

“Chris, it’s time to wake up.” Fluttershy cooed softly.

He slowly cracked an eye open, looking around the brightening room. When his eye moved over Twilight and the princess his face fell into a slight frown. Slowly, he moved to sit up, stretching muscles stiff with the usual effects of sleep. Opal woke and jumped from his side as he sat up, but promptly settled back onto his crossed legs.

Twilight was fascinated by the flexibility Chris showed off by simply sitting up. She envied the dexterity of his wrists and apparent nimbleness of his fingers as he shifted several loose cushions on the couch. The degree of rotation in his lower spine was unprecedented. She was especially intrigued at the way his lower arm seemed to rotate at the elbow; how exactly did he do that?

Chris Glowered at the small group of ponies before finally opening his mouth. “What do you want?”


She peeked through the leaves of a large bush at the edge of the forest. An apple orchard stretched out before her, but that wasn't what she was here for. Oh no, not at all. Her eyeless gaze fell upon a small wooden pen behind a large red barn. There, frolicking in the mud, was the her goal. were the most similar to the first things she would need to finish her masterpiece. If the fleshless face wasn't already smiling she may have cracked a grin.

Another memory surfaced and her good mood fell away. ‘Shut up...” she growled at the noise in her mind. The memories had quickly lost the novelty they once possessed. Now they were only there to distract her, make her make mistakes.

Why wouldn't her own mind be silent?

It didn't matter, her goal was infront of her, another building block within her grasp.


Scootaloo soared through the sky, reveling in the feeling of the air flowing over her feathers and the brilliant sight of the endless sky laid out in front of her. Her grin turned a little more aggressive and she coiled herself like a powerful spring before releasing, doubling her speed. Finally, Scootaloo thought, she was shooting through the sky just like her idol Rainbow Dash. She flapped her small wings as hard as she could, and slowly a white cone began to form in front of her. It formed a wall against her acceleration, willing the orange filly to slow down. Scootaloo simply smashed through the barrier with a resounding clap of thunder that echoed off of the forest far below her. She looked back, and was disappointed to not find the tell tale ripple of light that a sonic rainboom produced.

Maybe she just needed to go faster?

Scootaloo gave her wings another push and was surprised to find it was easier to move the faster she went. Another boom echoed behind her the as the white cone materialized and vanished once more, much faster this time. She frowned, why wasn't it working?

Suddenly, a great white spire rushed past her. For the first time since takeoff, Scootaloo took a moment to examine her surroundings. She was over Canterlot. The orange pegasus had to rub her hooves over her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things.

How had she already flown to Canterlot? She had only been trying to do a Rainboom for a minute, tops! She banked and pointed herself back to the small town in the distant valley.Without a second thought, she rocketed back home, relishing her impossible speed. Now that she was watching where she was going the feeling of speed was amazing, but just as quickly as the pleasure came, it was replaced by fear. She was going fast.

Too fast!

Scootaloo put on the brakes just as she passed over the roofs of Ponyville. By the time she had managed to slow to a comfortable speed she was already back over her launch site, Sweet Apple Acres.

She came in for a landing and managed to set down without crashing through a tree. The clubhouse was only a few yards away and out in front of it her two best friends stood looking at her with wide-eyed expressions.

“So what did ya think?” The orange pegasus asked, puffing out her chest and smiling proudly.

“That was AMAZIN’!” “Oh my Gosh. That was fast!” The other two fillies cheered over each other as the third member of their club returned from her super sonic flight.

Scootaloo’s smile faded. “Still didn't manage a Sonic Rainboom though.” She grumbled.

“Ya were still pretty darn fast fer someone who was too young ta fly yesterday.” Apple Bloom said trying to cheer up her friend.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Scootaloo said, smile returning to her face. “Its all thanks to thi- OUCH!” She was about to show them the silver sphere that was dangling from her neck in a small burlap bag but the moment she tried to touch it, it had become very hot. She quickly tore off the bit of rope that held the bag around her neck and let it fall into the grass where the bag started to smoke and eventually caught fire. Sweetie Belle quickly dumped a small red pail of water (which they kept around on the insistence of Applejack) over the flames which went out with a sizzle.

Once the sphere had cooled, Apple Bloom shot a glance at the other two fillies. “Ah think we need to be ah little more careful with this thing.” The other two quickly nodded.

“Your turn next Apple Bloom.” Sweetie Belle smiled and produced another scrap of burlap and bit of rope. Apple Bloom looked at the offered pendant warily before slipping it over her neck.

“Nothin’s happenin’.” Applebloom said in confusion as nothing seemed to change.

“Look at the grass!” Scootaloo shouted in excitement. Applebloom looked where the orange pegasus was pointing to see the patch of charred grass from when the sphere caught flame. The grass in the small, blackened patch was quickly returning to its normal green color, and growing taller by the second until it had returned to a perfectly healthy state.

“Wow, that’s so cool!” Sweetie Belle cheered.

“Aren't earth ponies supposed to be strongest?” Scoots queried, a mischievous look on her face.

“Um... yeah?” Apple Bloom said tentatively. Scootaloo’s ‘scheming face’ didn’t exactly have a spotless record.

“Well then, heads up!” Scootaloo shouted as she kicked a small rubber ball at her friend’s head. Apple Bloom instinctively held up her hooves and kicked at the inflated sphere. The ball collided with her hooves and then popped, the air inside escaping out of a hoof shaped hole that had been punched through the back.

The three fillies just stared as the ball dangled limply on Apple Bloom’s leg.

“My turn! My tur-” Sweetie Belle started.

“Apple Bloom!” A distant shout and the sound of thundering hooves caught their attention. The large, red form of Big Mac burst from the trees between the farmhouse and the small clearing next to the Crusader’s clubhouse.

"House. Now." Big Mac rumbled after he slowed to a walk.

"But-" The three crusaders started.

"Nope. House. Now. No questions." Big Mac motioned to follow him and made sure the three fillies were behind him before trotting into the brush. The group of four walked in silence but as they neared the barn Big Mac slowed his trot to keep himself between the structure and the three fillies.

Scootaloo was curious. What had happened to make Big Mac come and force them into the house? He never forced them to do anything. She peeked underneath him, hoping to catch a glimpse of the barn he was trying to hide from them. There wasn’t much to see, really. The barn looked as normal as ever, except the pigs were being quiet and there was a lot more mud that had been splashed around the pen than usual. Maybe the hogs had gotten out? Why would Mac come and get them for that? She took another look, to be sure she hadn’t missed anything. This time she saw that the mud was actually much darker than it should’ve been and a few of the fenceposts had actually been broken through. ‘Maybe I’ll just stick by Big Mac for now... ‘ Scootaloo thought to herself. No sense in getting in the way of something that could take out an Apple Family fence, after all.


“What do you want?” I wanted to growl the words, but managed to school my face into an almost impassive frown. The purple annoying one stepped forward and bowed her head slightly. What the heck was she trying to do? I already had several book shaped dents in my cranium, I didn't need anything else to happen.

“I'm sorry.”

Wait... What?

“Umm, uh, ok, look are you apologizing about the book thing?” I fumbled for something to say, the last thing I had expected was an apology.

Twilight nodded “And the screaming... I sort of lost it.” She sat back on her haunches and rubbed her hooved against each other nervously, her massive eyes seemed intent on examining the giant cushion behind me.

“Umm, alright, can you explain something to me first?” I scratched my chin, wincing as a accidentally pulled out a whisker that had gotten a little bit too long. I really needed to shave.

“Sure, anything.” Twilight said almost too eagerly. She immediately stopped fidgeting and her ears perked way up. It was like I had said the magic words. ‘She must have thought I was going to bring the roof down on her or something.’

“...Right, your friend Rarity tried to explain a few things last night, but just to make sure, you’re not going to feed me to demons or anything?” I doubted they were going to, considering they hadn't already, but it never hurt to be sure.

Twilight frowned and shook her head. “No, why would you think that? Is that why you were calling me a witch?” Her ears swiveled back and her eyebrows knitted together in confusion. It was odd watching her reactions now that she wasn’t being so clinical, like she had been in the prison. Pony faces were so expressive.

I nodded. “Yeah, magic... well magic doesn't really exist where I'm from and anyone who can do it, is supposed to have gotten it by... uhh, doing some bad things.” I heard some scratching sounds and leaned a little to the left to see a quill scratching on a piece of parchment behind her. Both the quill and parchment were floating in her telltale purple field. ‘Forget magic... how the hell is she writing without even looking?’

“There are similar myths here and, um, I was a little sensitive when you brought it up.” She laughed a little nervously. Now her ears were backwards and pointed down and her eyes looked up at me like an injured puppy. Twilight couldn’t have played poker with a mask. “Everything is fine now, right?”

I sighed and rubbed my forehead, trying to stave off the headache I was already beginning to feel. “Yeah, I guess. Can't say I'm really comfortable with the whole magic thing, but I guess I can just deal with it. No one ever got anywhere by pouting about what can't be changed anyway.” Fluttershy smiled at me from her place next to the couch.

“See, was that so hard?” She said, sounding like that nurse stabbing your arm with a needle when you’re five. I grumbled a little but held my tongue. Twilight just shot me a big grin and, to my surprise, the big, white princess in the room stepped forward.

“Excuse me Mr. Chris, but I would also like to extend a formal apology on behalf of the nation of Equestria for your treatment during this whole affair.” She bowed her head slightly and apparently missed the deep frown that crept onto my face. “Now I am sure my student probably has a lot of questions for yo-”

“Woah, hang on a minute lady!” Twilight and the other ponies in the room gasped at my outburst. I even heard Rarity mumble something about ‘being rude in front of the princess.’ I scowled and pushed myself up off the couch, the white cat I had been absent mindedly scratching jumped off my lap and nestled back on the couch, apparently to watch the show. I looked the princess right in the eye and her nose crinkled just a little, despite her poker face. I don't imagine that I smelled very good, even after the bath I had taken the night before.

“That’s it?” I said my voice slowly climbing in anger. She responded by staring at me impassively. I had hand it to her, she had one hell of a poker face.

“I'm more than willing to just forgive someone shouting at me and dropping a few books on my head, that’s no big deal. But you can’t just ‘I’m sowwy’ your way out of assault, abduction, and unjust imprisonment!” I was full on shouting by this point and waving my arms around for emphasis.

Celestia opened her mouth to respond, but before she could voice her rebuttal the front door slammed open. Everyone’s attention immediately switched to the orange pony panting in the doorway. Applejack I think she said her name was, was panting and generally looking she just sprinted a long way to get here. “We got trouble at tha’ farm.” She gasped out, the other ponies in the room didn't hesitate to spring into action, following her out the door and leaving me alone with the Jerk and an attention starved cat.

“Uhh, ok. I guess I'll just stay here then.” I said as I watched a fluffy, pink tail whip out the door. “Finish yelling at you when you get back, I guess.” I mumbled and sat down on the couch, cat instantly returning to my lap. I looked around and found my copy of Genesis sitting on an end table. I cracked it open and shuffled through the pages, looking for my place. I stared after they long gone equines, eye twitching in annoyance.

“Damn ponies lost my bookmark.”

Author’s Note: Nearly 4000 words for you guys to enjoy. whew now if you’ll excuse me i have to get to work.

Co-Author’s Note: Cut it down to the wire editing this one. *whew* Hope you guys enjoy it. Also, I’m probably way too proud of my work on the feelsy parts of this chapter...

Chapter13: Spy movies, Lasers, and Lingerie

View Online

Chapter 13

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

The dull sound of slowly turning pages was the only thing breaking the silence of the suddenly vacated carousel boutique. I had only been sitting there for about ten minutes or so, absently scratching behind the ears of Rarity’s cat. I'm embarrassed to admit it took me so long to realize my captors had left me alone, in an easily escapable room, with a single guard. ‘Have they never seen a spy movie?’ I closed the Bible in my lap with a snap and had to persuade (poke) the cat to climb off of me.

I very carefully crept to my feet and took a good hard look around. The white one, Rarity, had said this was her ‘boutique,’ and it really fit the term perfectly. All around the shop there were half-finished dresses and spools of cloth that you’d expect to find in a high-end tailor’s workshop. I took a moment to take stock of any potential supplies that I might be able to use among the fabrics and knitting materials.

I took a large square of surprisingly hearty, white fabric and cut a large hole out of the center. I didn’t have time to sew up the sides to make a shirt, so I just draped it over my shoulders like a poncho before adding a few quick stitches to the sides so it didn’t billow out behind me. ‘Not much but it will have to do.’ I thought as I tore another strip off of the roll and tied the ends together to use it as a makeshift bag. After that was done I quickly wrapped my feet in more of the same fabric, if I was going to move as fast as I planned I couldn’t be worrying about cut up feet. For the first time since I drove into this God-forsaken town I had a plan in my head that would ensure that I would be free of this place. I just had to take out the Jerk who was still guarding the door, assuming of course that I didn’t mobbed by any more guards on my way out of town.

‘Yeah this is going to work. Now I just need some food; that forest didn’t look like any place I’d like to have a picnic, but better safe than sorry.’ I thought as I finished up the knots on my foot wrappings.

I slowly walked into the kitchen and filled the makeshift bag with some fruit and a few other simple things Rarity kept in her fridge and cabinets. It was actually pretty difficult to find anything that looked edible since most of the food had hay as an ingredient…

‘Well they are horses, I guess.’ I thought as I chucked some hay-bread back into the pantry.

With my bag full, I made my way back to the main room. It was time to figure out the most unpleasant portion of the plan. The room was filled with various bits of furniture and fabric rolls but sadly was lacking in anything that could conveniently be used as a club. The weird pony mannequins caught my eye; they were made to look like the little horses but they were each suspended off the ground by a metal pole attached to a weighted base.

‘Ok, weird, but I can use this.’ I thought as I gathered up some more fabric to muffle the sound of me trying to force one of the mannequins off of its stand.

I pulled and yanked, cursing the ponies for keeping me locked up so long, for feeding me such crummy prison gruel, and for letting my muscles that I had been building for the past two months deteriorate so much. Everything was harder to do now, took longer to do now. I hadn’t even managed the walk from the library to the boutique without breaking a sweat.

Finally, with a last sharp tug the pole snapped off. To my surprise the pole was actually wood covered in an almost tin foil-esk layer of metal plate. The wood had dried and aged beneath the foil. As the wood dried, a crack had formed just beneath the mannequin at a steep angle, creating a sharp point on the longer half of the pole. The foil and friction had been the only things keeping the mannequin from tumbling over.

The pole itself ended in the weighted stand on one end, which had supported the mannequin, while the point where the wood had given way ended in a nasty tapered point of wood and torn foil. I figured that if the weighted end of the pole didn’t do the job in knocking the Jerk at the door out, then the sharp end would at least make a pretty decent spear.

The mental image of the Jerk’s neck impaled on the wooden pike was enough to make me gag. How could I have gotten so callous in such a short amount of time? They had been terrible to me, of course, but darn it, they were still people. I’d been aware of that even as they had broken into my church. I couldn’t just kill them. It would almost be better, I thought, to die running than to become a murderer. And if I did die? Maybe I would get to see my family again...

I shook the thought out of my head, hefted the weighted, wooden stand and took my place next to the door. This was not the time or the place to be dredging that up again, I had to focus. ‘Please God, if you can still hear me, let my plan work, I don’t want to hurt any of these ponies more than I have to.’ I uttered a quick prayer, hoping for a little divine intervention (and more than a little luck).

I took a few deep breaths, with any luck I could do this without the Jerk even realizing what was going on. I put a hand on the fabric rack next to me and tensed myself for what was about to happen.

‘Here we go!’


Soarin sat idly next to the door to carousel boutique. ‘This assignment is so bogus.’ He thought. He knew that it was a punishment from the princess for not following orders and that he was probably lucky to get off as light as he had, but having to guard the alien was a serious hassle. The creature was annoying, ugly, a picky eater, and overly fragile. He considered himself lucky the creature’s well being was being taken care of by the Elements of Harmony; he didn’t think he could really handle being around the thing more than he already had to be.

Soarin paused in his thoughts to return a friendly gesture from a mare passing by on the other side of the street. Ponyville certainly had that small town feel about it, even after the garrison was moved in to help with the Changeling panic.

Speaking of the Elements… Soarin was not known for being a patient stallion, heck, living fast had been half the reason he ended up in the Wonderbolts to start with, but the pestering of a certain rainbow mare had him cringing every time he thought about her. He had met Rainbow Dash at the Gala last year and she had seemed alright then, if just a little clingy, she had even saved his pie! Now that he had to spend significant amounts of time in the same town she lived in, he just couldn’t get away from her quick enough. She was always trying to show off or suck-up to him, it was really starting to grate his nerves. Soarin was used to having fans, he was even used to having crazy fans, it really didn’t bother him that much and was even a little flattering but that mare took it to a whole different level. At least she had a nice flank…



Soarin’s less than wholesome thoughts about the Element of Loyalty were interrupted as a loud crash and a shout shattered the morning’s peace.

‘Oh, I am so going to get it if that stupid thing hurt himself.’ Soaring thought as he rushed through the door to the dress shop. He burst into the main room and looked around, only to find the place empty. The only sign of any kind of trouble was an overturned fabric rack over by the-


Wow his head hurt all of a sudden… You know that Rarity mare really did have a flair for interior design, this place looked amazing! It must be the stars, yeah the stars sure are pretty.


Soarin fell to the floor of the shop like a heap of rubber. He barely even registered the face of the alien he was assigned to guard looming over him as he lost consciousness.


Celestia, Twilight, and the other Elements of Harmony stood in a semicircle in front of Applejack’s barn. The garrison had been called as soon as Applejack had made it to town and the site of the ‘trouble’ she had called them for had turned more than a few stomachs. The pig pen behind the barn was awash in blood. The pigs that had been kept there had been reduced to little more than bones, and even some of those were missing. Applejack looked understandably grave while the rest of the Elements looked nervous or frightened. Pinkie Pie in particular looked even worse than she did after the incident with Chris the day before. Celestia wore her mask as she usually did, the only sign that she was upset was a slight, uncharacteristic frown.

“Your highness!” A voice called to her. Commander Spitfire had been one of the first at the scene and had immediately taken to searching the nearby orchard and forest for any sign of what had attacked the Apple family’s farm.

“Yes Commander? What have you discovered?” Celestia calmly questioned, the slight wavering in her voice, undetectable by most. Twilight looking at her with concern, even though the purple mare was shaking like a leaf herself.

The Commander trotted over and sat in the snow in front of the gathered elements to give her report. “No sign of anything substantial, whatever did this is long gone. We did find some tracks in the mud near the pen but, they’re strange.”

“The tracks are don’t belong to any animals I’ve seen, and what’s even stranger is that whatever made them barely weighed a thing when it was moving toward the pen. The tracks leading to the pen are almost invisible, even in the mud and snow, but when they lead away they sink deep into the dirt, like whatever made them suddenly tripled in weight.” Spitfire’s eyes flicked to the rear of the barn uncomfortably to where her long time teammate, Fleetfoot, was coming around the corner with a few glass sample tubes held in her mouth. “There are several extra sets of tracks as well but they don’t look like any pig track I’ve ever seen. The strangest thing of all is that the tracks moving away from the pen are... it’s kind of hard to explain. It looks sort of like the snow the creature stepped in went through the it’s foot.” There was an awkward silence before Spitfire realized that the ponies around her, minus Celestia, were looking on in obvious confusion. Her ears folded back in minor embarrassment as she began to elaborate. “Imagine large bird tracks, but really deep and the snow passes between all the toe joints.”

Celestia narrowed her eyes, this was strange news. Had this been caused by the strange presence in the Forest? Had she made a mistake? Was there some monster that had arisen because of her hesitance to act? Her thoughts were interrupted when she realized that Commander Spitfire and the Elements were looking at her, expecting her to say something… ‘to know what to do.’ “Thank you Commander, please expand your search into the forest, observation is the goal. I want to know what we are dealing with. Engage only if escape is impossible.”

“Right away, your highness.” Spitfire said before giving the princess a smart salute and taking to the air, speeding off in an orange bolt to spread her orders to the rest of the task force searching Sweet Apple Orchards.

“Alright! Finally, we can get some payback!” Rainbow Dash shouted as she sped after Spitfire, leaving Celestia and the rest of the Elements behind.

“Aw pony feathers. RD GET YOUR FLANK BACK HERE!” Applejack shouted after the cyan mare.

“Don’t worry Applejack, I'm sure the commander won’t let Rainbow Dash do anything too dangerous.” Twilight said in a slightly shaky voice.

“Twi… it’s Rainbow were talking about here.” Applejack responded with a flat look.

Twilight’s ears folded downward. “Good point.”

A commotion startled the group. In the distance, beyond the edge of the orchard they heard their friend Rainbow Dash shouting and could see her prismatic trail repeatedly dive bombing something below the snow covered tree line.

“Goodness gracious. Well, if there is one thing about Rainbow Dash we should know by now, it is that the mare works quickly.” Rarity tittered, trying to cover up her own shaken nerves.

Fluttershy and Pinkie had been quiet through the whole ordeal, they both looked pretty shaken up. Celestia held out a hoof to stop the group before they could go see what Rainbow Dash had found. “Why don’t you take Pinkie Pie home Fluttershy? I'm sure you two could use a break from all of this.” she said gently. Fluttershy nodded, still not able to convey information in any way beyond nervous shaking, she steered the deflated Pinkie Pie back down the road, in the opposite direction of the commotion Rainbow Dash was causing.

As much as Celestia hated breaking up the Elements, they were ponies first. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie needed a break.

The alabaster diarch motioned for the rest of the group to continue and they carefully made their way through the orchard.


(Half an hour earlier)

Chris quietly slipped out the back window of the Carousel Boutique. The ground outside was cold enough so that he felt it through his foot wraps almost as soon as he lowered his feet onto the stiff, brown grass. He shivered in the chilled winter air before slowly scanning his surroundings, hoping no one had seen his escape. To Chris’ relief, no one called attention to him and so he immediately dashed across the street and away from the boutique, kicking up dead grass and clumps of wet snow as he ran. Chris did not slow down until he had sprinted several yards into the nearest alleyway, already he was breathing heavily, great plumes of fog flew from his mouth with every labored breath. “It’s like I haven’t slept in ages...” he mumbled to himself between gasps.

Chris made his way down the alley, gusts of cold wind occasionally cutting him to the bone despite the coat of white fabric that he had ‘appropriated’. He thought back to his guard; he had left the Jerk tied up and gagged, hanging from one of Rarity’s dress racks. The mental image made Chris chuckle, even in the face of his less than stellar circumstances. The Jerk who had started this entire mess deserved nothing less. Still... he hoped that he hadn't seriously injured the pegasus. The splitting headache and embarrassment of being tied up in what Chris thought might have been the ponies’ equivalent to lingerie would be more than enough payback.

The walk down the alley was over almost before he knew it. As the narrow confines of the alley fell away, he found himself staring at a short stretch of snow covered grassland that terminated in a white picket fence and a wall of apple trees. Chris remembered the apple orchard he had seen the fateful day he had driven out of the dark forest all those weeks ago. The orange pony, Applejack, he recalled, had said that there was “trouble at the farm.” The apple orchard in front of him was the only thing he had seen that might translate to “farm” so it was an easy decision to turn and walk down the fence line until he could avoid the rows of apple trees altogether.


She didn’t know why she had stayed, it had been a stupid decision. Had it been because she had felt John coming closer just before she turned to flee back into the forest? The half formed shape of her body continued to sprint for the cover of the trees. The annoying flying pest of a pony that was attacking her had been shaking in fear only moments before at the mere sight of her unfinished masterpiece. Its purpose was not meant to cause fear, but the side effect of its half finished state had given her enough of a head start to get it back into the woods before the flying pest could damage it. Only she had miscalculated the speed of the creature and was being forced to hurl her masterpiece into the frozen dirt again and again to prevent any damage. Ugh… she hated dirt.

She dived to the side again before picking herself up and running for the tree line. She was almost unnaturally fast on foot but she could still be spotted easily enough in the snowy grassland. The new pieces of her masterpiece bounced around with the motion of her running; they had not been fully attached when she was discovered and so she had been forced to cradle them in her arms to prevent any of them from becoming lost.

She could feel John getting so very close now. It was a shame that she couldn’t stop to collect him without being forced into a confrontation she didn’t believe she was prepared for. The memories surfaced again, depicting the six mares that caused the downfall of her earlier meal. At least now they were telling her something useful. She rolled into the tree line, dodging another attack from the flying pony she had recognized from the visions. The memories were right, those six were dangerous. Suddenly her senses were filled with the quiet forest. She could still feel John, only a few hundred feet behind her. She had to wrestle with her instinct to get him. Her unfinished form would only scare him like it did the pest. No, he could not see it. He would come to her in time anyway, after her masterpiece was finished…


I crept towards the forest, suddenly very thankful for my forethought in making sure my clothes had been predominantly white. Something had riled up the guards I had spotted and had made my journey a hundred times more difficult than I had hoped, and I was pretty sure that my white clothes had been the only thing keeping me from sticking out like a sore thumb in the tall grass, especially when it came to the flying ponies.

The rainbow haired one was dive bombing something near the edge of the forest while the other guards were combing the area by the air and ground, so while I had to take pains to keep hidden I could not have slowed down or else one of the land bound guards might have tripped right over me. I also had to keep constant tabs on the cyan rocket so I could make sure I wasn’t heading in her direction as I crept towards the forest.

I was almost to the edge of the forest when I looked up to check on the rainbow pony again. Apparently, whatever she had been chasing had gone too far into the forest for her liking; she had pulled up and started tracing circles in the air like a massive bird of prey... with hooves. ‘Heh.’ Considering the situation, I figured that she was either looking for her prey or possibly even a new target.

I couldn’t have been more than a few hundred feet from the edge of the forest now and the immediacy of my escape was sending lightning bolts through my nerves. I had to fight the urge to just stand up and make a run for it as I knew I would be set upon by the rainbow menace before I even managed a couple yards, let alone the sprint all the way to the forest canopy.

I froze instinctively as an armored guard passed only inches from my hiding place. Only the tall, snow covered grass saved me from discovery. After a few tense moments of waiting for him to pass I was able to slowly creep towards the woods again. Freedom was so close I could practically taste it.

My heart stopped when I looked up to see that the rainbow pony had stopped running in circles and was now simply hovering in place, quite obviously looking in my direction. I assumed that she had spotted the trail I had formed where I had knocked the snow off of the grass as I crawled along, leaving a tan streak in the stark whiteness of the snow. It was only a matter of seconds until she saw me.

I slowly rose into a racer’s position. Admittedly, I was already tired from the cold and having to crawl most of the way through the orchard, but I was going to at least give it my best shot. Like a coiled spring, I launched to my feet and hurled myself in the direction of the forest...

...and promptly became bogged down by the snow.

I was forced to move in a way that was more like hopping than running so I could make my way through the snow-clogged grass fields. I heard shouts behind me and I knew that I had been seen. I realized that I only had a few moments before I would have to start dodging flying horses.

Sure enough, I heard the sound of rushing air closing in from behind and above me as I ran and I dived back to the ground. Unfortunately for me, she must have been practicing on whatever she had been chasing before because the little blue menace still managed to scrape her hooves across my back, drawing a cry of pain from me as they raked across my hunched form. Luckily the hooves hadn’t broken the skin, but I was sure they would leave some nasty red marks. The attack had left my poncho / camouflage bunched up around my neck and I struggled to get it out of my face as I stood to make another run for the trees. I heard more shouting behind me. Whatever the voices said must have distracted the rainbow menace because I was able to make it to the trees without another attack.

I spared one last look back at the snow covered grassland and the town beyond. The guards were rallying and beginning to charge towards me on foot (hoof?) but I didn’t see anyone but them and the distant pegasi that were also turning to head in my direction. ‘At least I think I can out run these guys.’ I thought as I quickly pulled my white poncho from my neck and tossed it to the ground, it would just be a big white liability in the forest anyway, standing out like a massive white flag. As I ran I hugged my arms against my bare chest. Damn it was cold without that thing…


Scootaloo stared down at the smoldering remains of her side of the game board, and then jealously glared at the perfect formation of Sweetie Belle’s pieces. She tentatively put one hoof onto one of her pieces, hoping a mad push would manage to capture Sweetie Belle’s flag. She pushed her last remaining scout forward as far as possible, only a few squares stood between her lone piece and victory... before Sweetie Belle smashed it aside with her marshal.

“Ugh! This is so stupid!” Scootaloo whined before smacking her forehead into the small table supporting the playing board. “I can’t even move forward without you totally owning my pieces!”

Sweetie Belle fidgeted awkwardly, giving Scootaloo a smile that mixed equal parts pity and guilt. “It’s not so bad...” she started, trying to console her fuming, feathered friend.

“Not so bad?! You have like, ninety-nine percent of my pieces! I got, like, two of yours. This is stupid!” Scootaloo raised her head just long enough to shout her angry fit before bringing her head down again with a dull thump.

“I only got twenty eight of them...” Sweetie Belle said, trying to reason with the angry pegasus. Unfortunately, her cries of reason went unheard by the enraged Scootaloo.

“This is dumb! Why does Apple Bloom even have Stratego?!”

Ignoring the angry shouts of the strategically inept pegasus Apple Bloom peered out of her bedroom window. Watching the guard ponies outside had gotten a little too boring for Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle but there was no way Apple Bloom was going to let something happen on her family's farm without her at least knowing a little bit. Scootaloo still seemed a bit... jumpy from what she had seen when Big Mac had herded them back to the house but she was being tight lipped about it.

Suddenly a blue figure arched up over the trees before diving at something and the sudden shouting of the guards only confirmed her suspicions. There was something big going down at the farm. There was no doubt the figure was Rainbow Dash but the identity of whatever she was attacking was hidden by the skeletal remains of her family's apple orchard.

“Girls come see this!” She beckoned behind her with a hoof, trying to get their attention.

“What is it Apple Bloom?” Scootaloo said, still whining about her loss to their unicorn friend.

“Rainbow’s got somethin!” At the mention of the town’s legendary speedster, Scootaloo instantly forgot her griping and was at the window in a time that would make Rainbow Dash proud. Sweetie Belle followed a few seconds after, politely taking the time to finish putting away the board game. As the girls all looked over the window sill a sight they didn't expect caught their eyes. Princess Celestia and the rest of the Elements sans Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, were running right along with the guard ponies toward where Rainbow dash was now circling over what Apple Bloom knew to be the Everfree forest. Forget something big going on, this was HUGE!

“Come on we got to find out what's happenin!” Apple Bloom shouted before turning and heading for the door.

“I-I don’t think thats a good idea...” Scootaloo said slowly backing up, the memory of what she had seen behind the barn forcing its way into the forefront of her mind.

“Don’t be such a chicken, Rainbow’s there and the Princess is too, even if somethin’ does happen we got this now right?” She pulled a small sack from a pocket of her saddlebags and dropped it on the floor. The bag contained the silver sphere they had found yesterday and was connected to a small necklace. Apple Bloom had taken it home and fixed it up with better fabric for the bag and a necklace that could be pulled off in a hurry. Sweetie Belle could have probably done a better job of it but for some reason Rarity had told her she couldn't stay over last night.

Scootaloo narrowed her eyes at the earth pony member of their trio and snarled. “Nopony calls me a chicken!”

“Well then c’mon and let's go!” Apple Bloom said as she headed for the door. Scootaloo snorted and followed after her leaving Sweetie Belle sitting alone in the middle of the floor.

“There is no way this is going to end well.” Sweetie Belle said as she followed the other girls out the door.


“OH GOD! OHGODOHGODOHGODTHEIRSHOOTINGLASERSATME!!!” My long legs flew over the dense undergrowth of the Everfree, my pursuers nipping at my heels. The only reason I was still ahead of the armored quadrupeds was by virtue of my species. My long legged, bipedal stance made moving through the trees and thick bushes almost easy. The ponies behind be had no such advantage (besides the lasers) and were forced to plow head first though scores of thick bushes and brambles or branches in the case of the pegasi. My feet were also almost tailor made for crossing the rocks and other irregularities in the turf. Ponies had me beat in the open, there was no question, but I was the winner when it came to the obstacle course I now found myself in.

‘I can't believe this crap! This is like something out of a bad movie. Aliens that shoot laser beams outta their foreheads!? Talk about unfair!’

I raised my arms to shield my face from another series of branches that came whipping up at me. My lungs burned as I pushed myself harder, there was no way I was going back if I could avoid it, even if I had to run all the way home! I could hear the distant shouts and crashes of my pony pursuers moving clumsily through the woods and I kept pushing harder. I was no olympic distance runner but adrenalin and the promise of imprisonment does a lot for your motivation... and the lasers, can't forget the lasers.

Speaking of lasers, I had just ducked behind a tree when one smashed into the bark. I didn't stick around to see what it did to the twisted timber but what ever happened it probably wouldn't have been good for me. I heard a distant shout and suddenly the sound of my pursuers ceased. It didn't really matter to me, really. it could all be a trick at this point so I just kept running. There was no way I was going to let them catch me again!


(Minutes ago)

Celestia stared down at the rolled up parchment that had just been delivered to her via dragon fire. Strangely, almost at the same moment a messenger arrived to give Commander Spitfire a similar scroll. As Celestia’s eyes quickly scanned over the page her mouth slowly dropped open. This was bad, very bad. Words could barely describe how bad this was. Here she was in the middle of one of the possibly biggest diplomatic disasters to date and only now does she find out that the strange alien city was filled to the brim with the rarest and most dangerous magical reagent known to pony kind. That, and her sister Luna was coming in two days time to forcefully secure it!

Luna was going to move in half a century to occupy Everfree City and secure the apparently massive supply of platinum held there, and judging by the reports she was getting from the forest this would put her into potential contact with the alien Chris, or possibly another member of his species. A hoof found its way to Celestia's forehead. If all of that wasn't bad enough, a sample of the mineral the size of a small marble had already been lost when it was accidentally catapulted out of her sister’s room by a levitation spell gone awry. It had been apparently been detected on a course for the small town of Ponyville. ‘Even the good news is bad...’ Celestia thought grimly. All of this was heaped onto the threat the local garrison had been called out for. There was something new in the forest, new and dangerous.

“Commander Spitfire!” Celestia called to the stupefied officer, who was staring down at her own scroll as if the words had just stood up and done the Can-Can off the page.

“Y-yes?” Spitfire asked in a wavering voice.

“Pull the search party back, we have bigger issues than a wayward alien or creature of the Everfree.” Celestia commanded.

“Right away your highness!” Spitfire said, finally regaining her wits. She sped off into the forest to alert her subordinates, the search was off.


“Pull the search party back, we have bigger issues than a wayward alien or creature of the Everfree.” The Princess ordered from several yards away. Three small fillies hid in a bush listening to the suddenly nervous looking Celestia.

Apple Bloom whispered excitedly to her friends, “Did ya hear that? An Alien! Ah real live-”

“Do you think the alien did that to the pigs, or was it the monster she was talking about?” Scootaloo interrupted, shivering slightly. They had all gotten an eyeful after they had gone to see what had actually happened behind the barn and she wasn’t ashamed to admit that it had scared her.

Sweetie Belle just stayed quiet a distant, blank, look on her face.

“Ah don’t know, but if it did it’s gotta be dangerous!” Apple Bloom said as she grit her teeth, there was no critter, alien or not that would hurt anypony on her family’s farm! Apple Bloom had been more than angry over the carnage at the barn, the other two crusaders had never even seen her so livid. She had been surprised by the discovery that it was an alien that might have done this, but she was still beyond upset.

“I don't think going after it is a good idea...” Sweetie Belle finally said in a far away sounding voice.

“I think Sweetie is right this time.” Scootaloo said still shaken up.

“Fine! We'll wait fer the Princess to do something, then we’ll find out what's really going on here!” Apple bloom said her eyes narrowing at the woods.

Author’s Note: Alas your vaillant author has been stuck down by the flu! But seriously I hope you enjoy this chapter.

Co-Author’s Note: *Mumbles something about ‘his idea’ before falling asleep on his keyboard.*


Re-Author’s Note: HA! Admari must sleep, I have no such weakness!... Besides the flu... yeah.

Re-Co-Author’s Note: Yeah right, half the reason this took so long was because you got the night shift.


Re-Re-Authors Note: Shush! You’re supposed to be asleep!!

Chapter14: All Along the Watchtower

View Online

Chapter 14

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

Chris slowly limped down a dark, bleak corridor. Every few yards he would pass by a door with no windows leading off to other bleak hallways, the occasional sterile laboratory, or lifeless workshop. He shook slightly like he was shivering from the cold despite the thick, oddly made vest with “Jolton Village Dentistry” written on it in large white letters that was wrapped tightly around him. He paused to open another blank steel door, peering down at a small notebook grasped in his quivering hands. The numbers didn't match. Again. He turned back down the main hallway with a sigh and let the door swing closed behind him.

Chris’ eyes drooped. He hadn't slept in days. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a small white bottle with a red label quickly tossing back the liquid and dropping the empty plastic to the floor. The soft hollow thunk as the bottle hit the floor was almost deafening in the silent hallways. He walked on. How long had he been in these offices?

He looked at the nearest door and then back down at the notebook in his hands, finally finding the number he was looking for. He opened the door and slipped through. The new hallway he had found was different than the cold, sterile office corridors he had been following; this one, while still as silent and lifeless as the grave, was interrupted every few feet by thick piping or a piece of dead machinery. It wasn't far now.

He quickened his steps ever so slightly. While Chris would have gladly sprinted full-tilt down the corridor, it took most of his energy just to say upright and awake. At this point, the word ‘exhausting’ had become synonymous with ‘moving’ for Chris. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep, no matter where he was, but if he did that then they would get him. They would come into his home and find him like they had before, but he wouldn’t be awake this time to fend them off.

Finally, at the very end of the hallway was another blank steel door, the words “MAIN CONTROL ROOM” were written above the frame in large, white block letters. He pushed the door open. The room beyond was simpler than he had dared to imagine, aside from the three plain office desks piled high with arbitrary paperwork, there were few objects of even passing interest in the room. What set the room apart from any of the other cubicle laden office spaces Chris had passed through was an entire wall filled with breaker switches, dials, and various gauges and indicator lights. A tired, slightly twitchy smile tugged on the corner of his mouth, this was what he had been looking for.

He flipped a breaker labeled “Emergency Back-up Power.”


Deep in the facility a loud hum started, followed quickly by a cranking engine.

He looked down at the manuel in his hands slowly reading off the steps again. He watched a small dial climb upwards before flipping another breaker, this one was labeled “Primary Back-up Turbine Prep.” He followed yet another needle before flipping another switch, “Back-up Turbine #1.” The moment his hand left the tiny breaker switch lights all over the wall lit up, casting a dull orange glow over the entire room. Quickly, his fingers found the next switch, “Back-up Turbine #2.” More lights lit up. Now the florescent bulbs in the ceiling started to hum before coming to life and bathing the room in their bright, artificial light. The other switches followed quickly after. “#3” “#4” “#5” “#6” “#7”

The whole facility was humming, brimming with power and life, and the last switch was the only one left to trip. It was a small, black breaker, just like the turbine switches, only this one was covered in a small, flip up glass panel. Beneath it a small label read “Emergency Main Line Connection.” Chris tripped the final switch with shivering hands. Suddenly the hum of life running through the facility deepened as a sudden, massive draw was placed on the seven gas turbine generators. He smiled a tired smile before turning and walking back out of the room and down the many winding hallways, still sterile feeling even if they didn't give the impression of a mausoleum any more. There was only one more thing he had to do before he could rest for a short while. Rest. Not sleep. He couldn't sleep yet. They were following him, chasing him. If he slept they would catch him and he wouldn't even get a chance to fight back...


A large herd of ponies stomped down a trail that was almost invisible under the scattered and obstructed light of the moon. At the center of the convoy were both crown princesses of Equestria along with the elements of harmony and several influential ponies from the Canterlot Royal Academy, all surrounded by a full century of Equestrian regulars and Luna’s Night Guard. They talked quietly among themselves, the journey was slow through the thick foliage and the sheer number of ponies combined with the wagons laden down with equipment and rations forced their progress to an agonizing crawl. The conversations mostly centered around their destination, the dark and foreboding ghost town that was the Everfree City.

“So remind me one more time Luna, why are you wearing a pith helmet?” Celestia asked with a small smirk.

“We are told it is tradition when on excursions into the unknown!” She shouted walking proudly beside her sister with the tan colored monstrosity sitting atop her head.

Well I did say “mostly.”

Pinkie Pie followed close behind the two regal sisters, trying her darndest to not laugh at ‘Luna’s silly hat.’ She was thinking about how much the pith helmet resembled a khaki-colored soup bowl when her thoughts suddenly strayed back to Chris, the funny looking alien-creature-thing who she never got to throw a party for. She deflated at once. She had never had anyone try and bargain so desperately to just to be left alone before. Sure, Cranky the donkey sort of had, but he didn't really want to be left alone; deep down he had actually wanted to be friends, he’d just needed Matilda’s help to see that.

Chris’s eyes had held no secret desire for friends though, they only showed fear and despair over a deep pool of sadness that Pinkie had never seen in anyone. Ever. She had never had anyone run away from her like Chris had and it had taken her almost a whole three days to realise that he hadn't really been running from her. He had been running from everypony. They had accidentally ended up really hurting him and it had taken the patient and kind council of Fluttershy to make her see that it wasn't personal. Now she was determined to make Chris smile at least a little and to make sure that he knew that everypony was really really sorry for everything.

Fluttershy probably wore the grimmest face anypony had ever seen on the normally meek mare. She looked like she was getting ready to stare down a cockatrice and nopony was brave enough to ask what she was so upset over. Even Rarity, her best friend, was hesitant to approach the butter-yellow pegasus.

Rarity, to be honest, wasn’t particularly invested in the recent events. Sure she needed to be there to support her friends and make sure that they were alright, but the alien everypony seemed so concerned over, this... Chris, well he had struck Rarity as brutish, even if he did attempt to speak politely. The damage to the inside of her boutique and the sad state of Soarin when they had found the poor stallion could attest to that. Still, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy seemed determined to make a tragic figure out of the alien and if what they said turned out to be true, well nopony really needed to see her as unsympathetic; it would ruin her good image!

Applejack was angry, but she wasn't upset at the alien they were going after. No, she was upset that she had failed to protect her own family's holdings. Sweet Apple Acres was the Apple Family’s livelihood and by failing to ensure it’s safety from the vicious creatures of the Everfree Forest she felt like she had let down her whole family. Right now, Chris and his mysterious town were just distractions that kept Applejack from looking after her own farm and family, and while the cowpony knew that Chris was ultimately blameless for what had happened on the farm, that didn’t stop her from resenting him because of the distraction he represented.

Besides throwing a few funny looks at the bantering princesses, Twilight was mostly ignoring the other ponies, opting instead to sketch the flora of the deep Everfree. Chris was mostly just a curiosity for her to study. His thoughts and motivations were almost as alien as his physiology. What kind of creature attempted to beg for freedom when cornered? That wasn't usual predator behavior. Perhaps his species had been both predator and prey at some point in their evolution? A flash of the guilt she felt after they had first captured him ran through her mind. She shook her head and began sketching another plant. No, everything they had done was for the best. Equestria was in a delicate situation and the potential panic caused by the alien if they just let him roam free would not have been worth the injured feelings of a single individual. Still, she couldn't help but wonder why he was so passive. A griffon or most other predatory species known to Equestria would have likely attempted to murder their captors at some point, or at least they wouldn’t have shied away from a violent confrontation. Twilight cleared the thoughts from her head for the moment, she would just have to find out after they had caught him.

Spitfire was gliding over the group below with a massive smirk on her face. She banked slightly and pushed her way in between Soarin and his ‘number one fan,’ Rainbow Dash. “So Soarin, I didn't peg you for a cross dresser.” She blurted out, grinning at Soarin’s comically red face. She was rewarded with a low grumble from the stallion himself and cheeky snicker from RD, although, to her credit, the latter did try and hide it as best she could in the tightly packed flight formation.

“Shut up Commander, It won't happen again. Especially if I have anything to say about it.” Soarin grumbled.

“Well its a good thing you don't soldier. I actually thought you looked pretty handsome all done up in a set of Rarity’s designer tighty-whities. Oh, and just for that, no pie for a month.” Spitfire teased through the giant grin on her face. Truth be told, docking Soarin’s pie ration might have been a little harsh for some minor back-talk, but did let the alien get away.

“W-w-whaaaat!?” Soarin looked like he was on the verge of tears. “B-b-but PIEE!” He stammered. “Come on Commander, that’s too much.” He whined.

“It’s either that or you get to wear Rarity’s frilly undies for a week. I know I wouldn’t complain.” Spitfire was only just able to keep herself from breaking into peels of laughter as she wiggled her eyebrows at her speechless colleague. Fortunately for her, Rainbow Dash wasn’t so subtle.

“PFFFT HA HA HA HA HA!” *GASP* “HA HA!” The prismatic mare howled with laughter loud enough to earn her some irritated glares from the pegasi guards. Soarin’s glare was enough to make her can it, but even his most venomous look didn't stop her from elbowing the poor stallion and saying quietly “I’d offer to loan ya some clothes, but Rarity always called my stuff real ‘coltish,’ not sure if it would fit your style.” Both of the mares couldn't help but burst out into laughter as the red on Soarin’s cheeks deepened even more.

After what might have been a solid thirty seconds of silent protest from the unfortunate stallion, his thoughts abruptly strayed to the one person he knew who was not actively ridiculing him. “Hey...” he tried to get the attention of his torturers, but they were too lost in their reverie to pay him any attention. “Hey.” he tried again, slightly louder this time, but was still met with loud chuckles and gasps for air. “HEY!” he shouted this time. It was just enough to get the two infuriating mares to quiet down and pay him some non-insulting attention.

Spitfire was the first to rein in her giggles. “Yeah, what is it stud?” she hiccuped out, wiping a laughter-induced tear from her eye.

“Have either of you seen Fleetfoot around? I haven’t seen her since I got reassigned to that stupid boutique.” Soarin said, scanning the flock of pegasi for his quiet squadmate. Spitfire and Rainbow Dash only snickered some more. “Are you two ever going to stop laughing aboUAHAHAG!” the stallion almost fell out of the sky when a pair of icy blue eyes completely enveloped his field of view.

Fleetfoot giggled silently as she looped around so that she was once again right-side up and flying level with her squadmates, ignoring the burning glare from Soarin.

The entire convoy halted without warning, sending the pegasus formation into disarray and bringing shouts of surprise and confusion from the rear echelons of the convoy. Luna was the first to recover from the moment of disarray and with her best rendition of the Royal Canterlot Voice, bellowed forth her inquiry “What is the cause of this disruption?!”

A shadow in the most forward section of the pegasus formation immediately detached itself from the swirling flock and landed directly in front of the lunar princess. The mare’s bat wings and piercing yellow eyes marked her as a member of the Night Guard. “Your highnesses, there is something you should see.” she reported in a crisp and official manner before stepping to the princesses’ side and bowing low. Luna raised an eyebrow and looked back at her sister, it was rare event in which her Night Guard were not more precise in their reports.

“Very well... Lead the way.” Celestia said evenly.

The Night Guard raised her head, offered the celestial princess a shallow nod, and took to the skies. “This way.” she called back to them. With a great flap of their wings, both diarchs took to the sky after the dark guard and quickly broke the thick canopy of trees. What they saw when they breached the leaves stunned them both into prolonged silence.

“It looks like my stars...” Luna breathed, finally breaking the prolonged silence as both she and her sister hovered, staring at the once black silhouette of the Everfree City. To her, it appeared as though a great swath of her own night sky had been sheared from the heavens and draped over the black town like a blanket.

Celestia narrowed her eyes at the shimmering display. She wasn't caught up in the beauty of the spectacle like her younger sister, instead understanding the deeper meaning of this new display of power. “It is a warning.” she said in a cool tone that brooked no argument. “He is warning us to stay away.”

“Are you sure, sister? Surely such a display is too breathtaking to be malicious.” Luna said, snapping back to her wits.

Instead of answering, Celestia tucked her wings against her sides and dropped back to her previous place on the ground with all the grace expected of a royal princess. “Commander Spitfire!” She called, the edge of authority and urgency in her voice was not lost on the soldiers around her.

“Yes, your highness!” Spitfire answered as she dropped from her own dumbstruck state.

“I want everypony to be on guard. We are being warned away and we do not know what Chris the alien’s true capabilities are.” There was no room for argument in Celestia’s tone but a habit born from Spitfire’s early training reared its head.

“Are you sure it isn't just a bluff, your highness?”

Celestia nodded. “Even if it is a bluff, it is entirely possible that there are dangers that we have not prepared to face.”

Despite her dissatisfaction with her princess’ answer, Spitfire did as she was ordered and took to the skies, spreading the order to be wary of the alien settlement and any hazards that it might conceal.


The convoy ground to a halt at the entrance to the now glittering town. The entire city sat on a raised stone dais, as if it had been placed on a pedestal by nature itself. Unfortunately the effect was ruined by the damaged buildings along the border that had been sheared in half by whatever force had transported the town to its current location. Several houses that had been untouched by the movement had even fallen from the cliff as their foundations slid out from under them, adding to the disheveled and abandoned appearance of the Everfree City. A simple earthen ramp reinforced with what looked to be large sheets of corrugated metal signified the entrance to the town.

The convoy’s guards fanned out, quickly discovering and disarming dozens of simple snares and pitfalls arrayed in front of the diminutive, cobbled together gate. The gate itself was constructed from the same type of metal sheets that were being used to reinforce the ramp and had been topped with wire that was covered in extremely small, sharp blades. Despite the great number and decent camouflage of the snares, the ponies were quick to realize that the traps were not meant for deterring an armed foe. They’re age and relatively small size suggested that they had been placed some time ago, before contact had been established with the alien, and were being used to ward off the more venturesome of the Everfree Forest’s inhabitants.

Celestia, Luna, and the elements gathered at the front of the convoy, looking up at the wide open gate.

“What do ya think we'll find in there?” Applejack wondered aloud, her eyes locked on the disarmed but still foreboding entrance.

“Probably a whole lot of nothing, just like when we were here. I wouldn't rule out one or two traps though.” Soarin said as he and the rest of the Wonderbolts casually set down beside the group. A series of irritated exclamations from the guards behind the gathered ponies drew their attention. They turned in time to see the silver-grey form of Professor Crystal Beaker shove her way through the gathered escort to the front of the convoy, joining the princesses and Elements.

“Do you all remember what we discussed?” She questioned, her calm voice almost managing to hide how eager she was to get started. Twilight nodded and pulled out a scroll entitled ‘Procedures’ while the rest of the group, sans the princesses, looked on confusion.

“I do Professor, I even took notes.” Twilight said a small, smug smile on her face.

Professor Beaker sighed. “Alright, this is the last time I'm going to go over this so please pay attention. Don't. Touch. Anything!” She said, emphasizing each word like she was talking to a herd of school fillies. “We don't know what anything does and you could potentially activate something that could be very dangerous. Understand?” She scanned the faces of those gathered around her and, apparently satisfied, nodded at Luna.

Celestia narrowed her eyes, once more trying to take in as much of the town as could be seen, as if she stared at it long enough it would suddenly spring to life to lay all of its secrets at her hooves. “Commander Spitfire, you have the lead.” She said. Spitfire only nodded and slowly moved up the ramp before halting at the edge of the Everfree City’s strange roads. After a single moment of hesitation, the captain of the Wonderbolts stepped boldly onto the smooth, black streets of the glittering fortress.

Several guards fanned out behind her, searching for additional traps or dangers. When they found nothing, Spitfire sounded the all clear and the convoy climbed up the ramp to join the advance party.

Twilight edged closer to one of the odd, wheeled machines, similar to the one Chris originally rode into Ponyville. This one was a dark red in color with a sleek, blocky aesthetic and sat low to the ground. Curious, Twilight held out a hoof and lightly poked the metal body only to nearly leap out of her skin when it suddenly lit up and began emitting a horribly loud screeching noise. She leapt backwards, to the safety of Celestia’s presence, as the guards quickly surrounded the machine and leveled their spears or horns, waiting for the strange contraption to strike. The machine continued emitting the horrid noise and flashing its obnoxious lights, but otherwise remained still until, apparently was satisfied with its display, it once more became inert.

When the machine fell silent the guards looked around in some confusion, baffled by the fact that they were not currently under attack. When the machine showed no more signs of hostility they finally stood down and gave the machine (and all the others like it) a wide berth.

Crystal Beaker shoved her way through the crowd of guards towards the spot where Twilight had taken refuge behind Celestia’s legs. “What part of ‘Don't touch anything’ was so difficult to understand?” She huffed.

Celestia looked down at the trembling Twilight with a half bemused, half disappointed look on her face. “Come on, out from there, shoo!” She said in a playful, motherly tone as she pushed Twilight out from under her with a gilded hoof.

“Sorry.” Twilight mumbled, finally getting up and trying to salvage at least a little of her dignity.

The convoy quickly reformed and headed deeper into the town, the road they were following led right into the heart of the city, as unremarkable as it was. The apparent center of commerce was down the road directly to the convoy’s left, identifiable by it’s many product displays and what looked to be light-up advertisements that would have given the street a distinctly welcoming air had it not been completely devoid of life. Unfortunately, the road that the convoy was currently traveling was much less friendly in its disposition. The most prominent landmarks on the road, while partially hidden by the silhouettes of several homes, loomed above the rest of the town like great monoliths. On one side was a massive brick of a building devoid of ornamentation, quartered off from it’s surroundings by a giant brick wall that easily quadrupled any of the ponies in height. A smaller, squatter square building stood next to the fort. This one, while still very bland and unsophisticated, was the only structure on the street with any significant ornamentation with it’s marble stairs and stout, embellished columns. Finally, the last but easily most impressive building on the road stood alone, opposite its two compatriots. It was a giant, square spire of steel and glass, rivaling many of the smaller spires of Canterlot in grandeur if not in elegance. Lights blazed in every single pane of glass, turning what would have been a simple glass block into a monstrous torch of artificial illumination.

Oddly enough, the lights that had once inspired awe and wonder in the ponies, most of all Luna herself, held little comfort now. Their apparent omnipresence in the town drowned out nearly every light in the sky, leaving the moon and only the brightest stars to maintain their lonely vigil. What was even worse was that even though the lights were so numerous as to suffocate Luna’s sky, they were not enough to illuminate the smooth, black streets of the Everfree City. Golden yellow bulbs along the sidewalks produced only enough light to illuminate small pools directly beneath them, leaving anything not directly touched by the lamps covered in darkness and malformed shadows.

Worst of all had been the homes that the convoy had forced itself to shuffle past. They sat silent along the roads, full of warm, golden, artificial light but little else. The lifelessness of their interiors was not disguised by the luminescent facade, and every pony in the convoy was keenly aware that they were as uninhabited and lifeless as empty mausoleums.

A sudden, tense silence fell over the group as one of the Night Guard scouts called attention to a strange shape on the top of one of the buildings, a very alien looking shape. When Fleetfoot went to investigate, it turned out to be nothing but a collection of clothes and some sticks, like a hastily constructed scarecrow. The constructs, or ‘scarecrows,’ got more and more abundant as they neared the center of town and appeared over rooftops, in alleyways, and even propped up next to doors. They stood as lifeless sentinels, glowering upon the intruders despite their lack of eyes. They did not welcome the pastel colored interlopers.

“Such a waste of Fashion!” Rarity whined, only just failing to conceal the nervous tremble in her voice as she attempted to draw her mind away from the scarecrow’s eyeless glare and to the more mundane annoyance of the moth eaten and moldy clothes. She even forced herself to wince every time she saw an article of clothing that might have been fashionable at some point in the past to try and complete her personal illusion.

“They are meant only to frighten us.” Celestia said evenly, an almost imperceptible frown tugging at her lips. Her voice carried over her ponies like a warm, reassuring blanket in the oppressive silence of the graveyard town.

“Do not underestimate the alien.” Professor Beaker spoke up from her spot next to Twilight, emboldened by the princess’ words. “These ‘scarecrows’ are more than just a scare tactic; they are a distraction and could allow the creature we are hunting to hide in plain sight. Keep watch for any movement or else he might slip away from us, or worse.” The princesses nodded at the professor. Crystal Beaker was correct, they would need to be vigilant.

Fluttershy quietly glared at the professor’s back the moment the word ‘hunting’ came out of her mouth. They were searching for him, not hunting him like he was some kind of menace that needed to be put down. That the professor would even suggest such a hostile action was insulting to the soft-spoken pegasus.

Professor Beaker couldn’t explain what exactly she was feeling at that moment, only that she felt like somepony had suddenly become extremely displeased with her. She found the feeling both unsettling and confusing.

“I didn't expect you to be one for combat tactics, Professor.” Luna said nonchalantly as they walked.

The professor’s cheeks flushed at praise from her princess. “It is not combat tactics Princess, it is merely logic. I will however admit to reading the writings of Commander Hurricane; fascinating subject, ancient pegasi doctrine.”

“Many ponies in positions of leadership read them, I myself have perused them from time to time.” Celestia said, nodding slightly.

The convoy finally left the accosting silence of the glowing homes behind and came even with the three great landmarks at the heart of the city. As they passed the midpoint of the single embellished structure somepony stepped on a small string suspended above the smooth, black concrete. There was a loud, sputtering, hissing noise and a small pool of hellish, red light bathed the street in the color of blood. The convoy of ponies began to draw closer together seeking safety in their brothers and sisters-at-arms as all but the hardest guards began wondering if even being in this ghostly visage of a town was a wise move. As the convoy gathered closer and closer together, another wire was tripped and the street was lit by a new red flame, as bright and as malignant-sounding as the last. As the group became more concentrated and more confused more ponies set of even more traps, adding three more hissing, sputtering flames of Tartarus to the total. The flames were so brilliant and so numerous now that even the top of the glass torch sparkled ruby red, as if its crown had begun to bleed fat, metallic drops of blood.

The pegasi above did little to comfort their earthbound brethren. As they circled above in their ever-tightening formation the light cast by the hellfire glinted off of their golden armor like embers from a stoked log. From the ground it seemed as if the stars had become fury itself and were descending from the sky to wreak horrible, celestial wrath upon the world.

“BE CALM!” Luna roared in her best Royal Canterlot Voice. “IT IS ONLY LIGHT, MEANT TO FRIGHTEN US!” Her magically enhanced voice cast away the pall of fear and superstition that had befallen the convoy. The nerve of Equestria’s Finest returned at once and the earth pony and unicorn force immediately fell back into ranks, as stoic and resolute as the mountain Canterlot was perched upon.

A gold-clad Royal Guard pegasus detached from the aerial formation and angled downward towards the main convoy, aiming for a landing directly in front of the royal princesses. As the pegasus reached level with the surrounding homes his descent violently halted and he let out a startled, strangled cry of pain. The pegasus bounced once in the air before crashing down in a crumbled heap of metal and flesh. Any exposed flesh had been savaged with long, straight cuts and the flight feathers on his wings had been snapped and sheared in dozens of places.

“Medic!” Spitfire shouted as she dived to the stallion’s aid. She didn’t see what had brought down her flying compatriot until she was practically on top of it. Angry red lines flared in the red lights as she approached roof level. With agility befitting the Captain of the Wonderbolts, Spitfire pulled up just in time to avoid the spiderweb of metallic wires spread in a ghostly canopy above the road. They were practically invisible in the low-light environment of the city, and the bright red flare traps had ruined her night vision to the point that, unless the wires caught the light as just the right angle, the web was undetectable.

Alone, the web would have been an annoying hazard that would only succeed in keeping the ground and air forces separated until a sizable gap could be found or cut away. Combined with the visual cover provided by the scarecrows and the disorienting effect of the fire traps it was the final piece of a lethal setup. “Ambush!” Spitfire cried.

The effect was instantaneous. The guards assumed defensive formations in a flash, forming up into two tercios guarding approaches from both ends of the road. The princesses, Crystal Beaker, and Elements of Harmony were protected between the two bristling formations.

The elements huddled between the princesses waiting for an attack. For their part, Celestia and Luna flared out their wings and put on their most stoic expressions, waiting to meet the unseen enemy. Several moments passed with the hundred guards watching and waiting for any sign of danger. When none came after nearly five tense minutes, Celestia flagged down Commander Spitfire, who had put two pegasi to work sawing through the web with their hoof-mounted blades. “Commander, have the pegasi spotted anything?”

Spitfire looked a little sheepish and more than a little baffled. “No your highness, we haven't spotted any movement.”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed as she looked around at the surrounding buildings. “Another trick.” she said, almost too quiet for the ponies around her to hear.

“I don't get this, this was almost a textbook ambush, why leave us alone?” Spitfire wondered aloud.

“What's going on?” Twilight asked, startling the solar princess. In her concentration, Celestia had forgotten the six ponies huddled just inches from her hooves.

“Does anypony hear something?” Pinkie asked. The others raised their ears, listening for anything out of the ordinary. After a moment of silence Twilight was about to scold Pinkie for raising a false alarm during such a dangerous situation when a loud rumble erupted from nearby. It was a noise Twilight didn’t recognize. To her, the sound was comparable to the sound of somepony paging through a flipbook. If every page had been made from a sheet of metal.

A large cloud of black smoke burst forth from an alleyway situated directly between the two tercios. The guards scrambled to close their formation. The eight ponies in the nucleus of the formation were bathed in a blinding, white light. The roar of whatever was in the alley intensified.

Suddenly, a massive shape charged out into the street, towards the eight ponies gathered in the center of the road. Celestia only just managed to levitate the five Elements and the professor out of the way of the assailant as a massive metal claw slammed into her chest and smashed her against the brick wall of the fort.

“Sister!” Luna cried out in fear, pith helmet clattering to the ground, forgotten.

The massive, hulking thing pulled away from its victim, leaving the solar princess to slide down the wall and fall into a boneless heap at the monster’s feet.

Now that the beast had turned away, blinding lights on its front were no longer in the eyes of Luna and the recovering Elements. They could now look upon the monster that had dared to attack Celestia.

It was a box.

A massive, yellow box. A monstrous, metal claw was perched on an enormous arm emerging from the top of the beast. What looked to be the monster’s equivalent of a torso sat upon a strange moving platform covered in rubber and metal belts. Large, white characters written in the alien’s language were stamped onto the garish, yellow skin of the beast. It turned to face Luna, it’s blinding lights once again shielding it from her gaze.

The princess’s escorts overcame their initial surprise and rallied against the beast, firing blue and gold bolts of offensive magic at the hulking form. To their horror the creature merely shrugged off the punishment like so many mosquitos, the only visible damage they had managed to inflict was the destruction of three of the creature’s lights. Spitfire and the other pegasi raged against the web, swearing and cutting and circling madly in an attempt to bypass the hated barrier.

Fluttershy gasped. The broken lights allowed her to see into the face of the monster. Inside of the monster, lit by an eerie blue light, was Chris. He pulled levers this way and that, sending the monster reeling and spinning to try and swat the guards that had rushed to the aid of their princess.

The monster halted for just a moment. Fluttershy watched as Chris doubled over in a coughing fit and was horrified as she saw dark globs of liquid splatter over the glass and obscure his face from her.

Luna stared at the crumpled form of her sister; the monster had left her lying there like a broken toy. Blind fury overtook her. Her eyes glowed bright, her horn was instantly sheathed in a night blue aura of magic, and her voice was so loud that windows of the glass torch shook from the sheer volume of her words.


Fluttershy wanted to call out to stop Luna, but her protests were lost in the princess’ roar. The princess was charging some kind of spell, she knew. She had to stop her. She had to stop the fighting now! Somepony would get hurt.

Or worse...

A spectral keening filled the air as Luna completed her spell. She sent a beam of blue light towards the feet of the monster. Wherever the light fell the black stone beneath the behemoth exploded, sending it soaring through the air and into the elegant stone columns of the embellished building. The monster came apart at its middle, the face and legs smashed through the front walls of the building like a pair of wrecking balls, sending glass, stonework, and dust everywhere.

There was silence for a moment, and then the flames began to spread.


The sound of my own ragged breath drowned out the alarms going off in the cab of the ruined excavator. I tried to calm down and breath but a fit of coughs wracked by numb body. It was only when I looked up at the consol and saw the flecks of red that I understood how wrong everything had gone. I raised my head, finding the action difficult for some reason. When I looked outside my eyes widened in despair. “Oh God... Oh God... they're everywhere!” I breathed, “Oh God... Help me... help me please...” I wanted to shout out, to make God take notice, but I couldn't. My voice was contained to a mere whisper as the presence of the princesses weighed down on my lungs. I struggled out of the seat restraints and out of the (now missing) door. I flopped to the ground and barely managed to get my feet underneath the rest of me. I could hear the almost silent *drip* *drip* of-

Of something I didn't want to think about.

I could see the vast gaggle of ponies in the street, all of them deathly silent and most looking away from me, towards something glowing and yellow. Suddenly black shapes sprung from the alleys and dark corners of the road. Something was attacking them, something... I don't know what. Did God hear my prayer? Did he send his angels to stop them? I turned and stumbled away, moving deeper into the courthouse, towards the rear emergency exit. Moving my legs was far harder than it should have been but I had to get somewhere safe... They were still following me. They would never stop.


Apple Bloom pushed aside the leaves of the bush the Cutie Mark Crusaders had huddled in. The three intrepid fillies had been following the convoy of guards ponies since they had left from Ponyville around dusk. The girls were dirty, they were tired, and Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo continued to pester Apple Bloom about ‘this being a bad idea.’ She was starting to think they were both right. The three fillies had run the moment the massive monster had attacked the princess but now they didn't know where they were.

Plus, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo had called it a bad idea. Scootaloo never backed down from anything.

The spot that had wandered into looked like a small clearing with big, straight-trunked trees and sidewalks around some grassy areas that looked like they hadn't been cared for in quite a while. It looked like it could have been some sort of weird kind of park or something, but everything was in perfect rows.

“Shh, I thank I hear them.” Apple Bloom muttered to the two other Crusaders, who were obviously scared out of their wits.

Being out in the Everfree without their sisters wasn't the problem, Apple Bloom went out into the Everfree all the time to visit Zecora with the other two in tow, and while the dead alien town was a little creepy, they could still deal with that without much problem. The problem was that the town wasn’t exactly as dead as they had thought.

“Get down!” Scootaloo whispered harshly and pushed Sweetie Belle’s head down as a creature with spindly dagger-like legs passed several feet from their hiding place.

The problem was the sudden scores of horrifying monsters. The creatures had showed up right after the fight with the huge alien monster started and they were all swarming in that direction like they were a swarm of bees lured to a fresh melon.

The creatures themselves were like nothing the three fillies had ever seen (or had ever wanted to see). With their too-thin bodies and their blade- and spike-like limbs they were the most vicious looking monsters that had ever crawled from the muck of the forest.

It didn't help that they looked like they had been pieced together with a heaping helping of tar and animal bones...


Everything was deadly silent. The only sounds were the crackling of the flames that were slowly consuming the dead monster and a tiny, unidentified pinging noise emanating from what had once been its top half. Twilight suddenly broke from the huddle of elements and sprinted for her mentor’s side. “Princess! Princess are you alright!?” she shouted.

Twilight skidded to a stop when she heard a guard mare screaming. Chaos befel the convoy as strange, dark creatures leapt from the shadows. The guards fought back against them but their foes were elusive in the red, flickering shadows, and their movements, no matter how fast or sudden, were as silent as death. Their blade-like limbs cut into the guards like butcher knives.

Pinkie jumped from the huddle of ponies, placing herself between Twilight and a monster that had been trying to sneak up on the lavender unicorn. Pinkie had just settled into her patented hoof-judo-chop-fu stance when a rainbow blur snatched both her and Twilight away from the monster.

Twilight only got one look at the monster that had been sneaking up on her. It was all she needed. The face of the monster had been a pig’s skull.

Rainbow Dash sat them both down next to the rest of the elements. “Got ya!” she panted.

“Thanks Rainbow Dash.” Twilight breathed.

With the pegasi having finally forced their way through the wire trap, the monsters quickly found that the fight was no longer in their favor, and so they vanished as suddenly as they had appeared, flowing like black water into the nooks and crannies of the dead city. The ambush had left the convoy in shambles and many of their guard escorts were injured while Celestia herself remained unconscious. The ponies needed to find a safe place to rest, and they needed one now.


She seethed with rage at the audacity of the pony invaders. ‘How dare they! How dare they come when nothing is ready!’ She shouted in her own mind. They had come and attacked John, they were trying to take him away from her. She could already feel her lesser artworks automatically moving to kill the invaders. NO! She had to finish! John was alright, he would be alright, he would heal. She had to strain to pull her lesser artworks back, but they did as she commanded, they were part of her. She couldn't give herself away just yet, She had to finish. So close! She had to finish her masterpiece!

She ripped a large chunk of flesh from a dead manticore that had made the mistake of seeing her masterpiece as prey, mere food for consumption. She planted the flesh on the top of her head, the long, red mane of the manticore was now her own and she would just need a little help from her magic to make it natural. She had already taken its eyes, and with this final piece she was so close to being finished she could taste it. With a crackle, the subjugated wild magic of the Everfree pulled her flesh into the proper shapes.

The almost complete form of her masterpiece stepped over to a small pile of clothing. This was one of the last things she needed to do; she needed a real name and a real face for herself. The macabre puppet reached into the folds of fabric and pulled out a small leather bag. She pulled open the clasp and rifled through the confines for a moment before pulling out a small, plastic card. There was a picture of a pretty young girl in her mid twenties on the laminated plastic.

She took a moment to memorize the features before the flesh that made up her face began to shift and change. Wet snaps echoed down the dark, deserted alley as her bones adjusted themselves to their new form. She almost managed to perfectly copy the pretty girl, but the bones of her face were a little different. ‘The jaw is too different, it makes the cheekbones appear higher...’ Oh well, it would do.

She looked down at the card again.

“Eleison Melrose.” Her brand new voice croaked out.

She smiled, Eleison was a fine name, it was hers now.

Author’s Note: I hope that was satisfying. Seriously how could it not be? Chris punched Celestia with a giant piece of construction equipment! Well an a related note I was surprised by how difficult it was to think of a proper ambush when half the people you're trying to ambush can fly...

I also would like to thank my Co-Author Admari for being a champ and staying awake at ridiculous hours to help me finish this chapter.

Co-Author’s Note: Apparently, Google docs is trying really hard to ship RD and Soarin. And it’s not being subtle at all... Or family friendly. Control yourself, Google! We already have this problem with the image search.

Also, I do apologize, faithful readers, for my failure this chapter. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to work in a quip about Stratego. I shall now go commit Sudoku. And go to sleep. -Admari

Chapter15: Bad Dreams

View Online

Chapter 15

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

The cold had forced the Cutie Mark Crusaders to take shelter in one of the scores of abandoned buildings, well away from the center of town where the main group of ponies had set up their base camp, which, as far as the Crusaders knew, was somewhere near the center of town. Morning came early for the Crusaders as what must have once been a clothing store automatically came to life around them, bringing painfully bright artificial lights and loud, foreign music to bear on their fragile state of slumber.

Sweetie Belle groaned and pushed herself into a sitting position. She slowly shook the sleep from her mind and stretched the exhaustion from her muscles, posturing herself like an overgrown cat. Her two comrades in mischief were still snoring away in their own dreamlands, or Apple Bloom was anyway. Scootaloo had slapped her hooves down over her ears and mumbled something about alien alarm clocks. “Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, wake up,” Sweetie Belle cooed softly as she gave both of her friends a gentle nudge between the ribs.

“Mornin’ girls,” Apple Bloom greeted as she rubbed the sleep out her eyes. Sweetie Belle smiled and Scootaloo responded with a titanic yawn that threatened to unhinge her jaw. The orange pegasus had the toughest time sleeping out of all of them, the grisly sight of the marionette-like monsters had haunted her dreams and Princess Luna had been far too preoccupied to ply the dreams of her subjects that night.

“Morning guys,” Scootaloo finally managed to say around another massive yawn.

Apple Bloom trotted over to the large plate glass windows and peered down the empty road, first one way then the other. She breathed a long sigh of relief when she saw that none of the freaky creatures from the night before had gotten the bright idea to stick around.

“There anything out there?” Scootaloo asked, coming to set beside Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom shook her head.

“Not that ah can see. We should still be careful though,” She replied.

“What were those things?” Sweetie Belle asked from behind them.

“Ah have no idea, maybe Twilight knows?” Apple Bloom replied still peering cautiously out the window.

“This was not our best plan,” Sweetie Belle said, scuffing her hooves back and forth in a nervous gesture. Her somber tone and expression brought the mood of her two friends crashing down.

The other two Crusaders looked at each other and couldn’t help but agree with the off-white filly. “Ahm sorry fer gettin’ us inta this.” Apple Bloom said as she hung her head in guilt and shame. “Ah was just so mad. Y’know, with our farm bein’ attacked and Applejack n’ Big Mac just shuttin’ up about it. I had ta do somethin’.” Apple Bloom’s expression gained a shard of anger as she looked at the short navy blue carpet.

“Its alright Apple Bloom,” Scootaloo said. Her and Sweetie Belle moved closer to their friend, offering her what moral support they had left to give. “We had to do something, right? How else were we gunna get our monster-hunting cutiemarks?” Scootaloo teased.

Sweetie Belle piped up, “Yeah! And besides, the Cutiemark Crusaders stick together!” She gave Scootaloo a look, “For better or worse.”

“Thanks,” Apple Bloom mumbled feeling better despite the guilt that still sat at the back of her mind.

“Hey, lets go! I want to see what happened to the monster!” Scootaloo finally said, more to dispel the sudden cloud of funk than any real desire to go anywhere near the giant thing from last night. It almost went against her better judgement, really, but the monster was dead. It wasn’t like it could do anything to hurt them anymore.

The other two Crusaders nodded in their agreement and the three merry friends shot forward from the bright, noisy store and into the frigid air of the purple and gold morning.


Rainbow Dash wandered the hallways of the massive stone structure her friends were camping in. She had to admit the place was impressive. The monolithic fortress was taller than almost every building Rainbow Dash had ever seen outside of Canterlot, but it was only divided into three separate floors. There were a few offices and areas with rows upon rows of lockers, all of which contained furniture too large to be used by anyone but the Princesses, but what had really caught her attention was the three tiered cell block in the center of the building. Twilight had made the connection almost immediately that the place was a dungeon of some kind, a place meant to hold criminals. Only princess Luna was able to attest to ever seeing any dungeon larger than this, in Gryphos, the capital city of the Gryphon Empire at the height of the clan wars almost twenty-five hundred years ago.

Rainbow Dash stopped in front of one of the cells and peered through the small plate glass window. Strangely, the inside of the cell was almost identical to the one they had kept that tricky alien in for the past three weeks, only the alien’s own constructions were clean, sterile almost, where the pony made prison was quickly cobbled together this place was all straight lines and clean edges. Rainbow couldn’t help but feel… sloppy in comparison to creatures that put such effort into a place meant to hold the worst of their own.

Rainbow’s mind turned to the creature that had been staying in the storage room turned cell and she had to admit the creature must have been really smart to trick Soarin of all ponies. Only for a moment she wondered if she would be able to win against something that treacherous, it only took a few seconds for her self confidence to shatter any doubt she had. She would not lose to any alien, no matter how sneaky it was. Hay, she had already almost beat the thing when it tried to escape, not to mention she was the Element of Loyalty. With her friends backing her up she would be unbeatable.

An image flashed in Rainbow Dash’s mind; a horrific monster cradling a pile of meat in arms that didn’t look fit to support the weight of a foal, of a mouth stretched in a perpetual grin, tendons like tar stretched over an impossible skeleton made from too many things. She fought back a shiver, she had tried not to think about that… whatever it had been. The monsters from yesterday had been so similar to the thing that attacked the farm that it was absurd to think it only a coincidence. Rainbow wanted to tell her friends about the creepy thing she had seen but the attack had really stressed them out and telling them this would only make it worse. The similarity to the alien was also not lost on the speedster, it was obviously part of some great mystery and she would be the one to figure it out.

Her face set with determination, Rainbow Dash jumped over the railing, spreading her wings to glide down to the encampment on the bottom floor. She landed with a small thud amongst a group of Solar Guards who grumbled at her theatrics. She grinned at them and trotted off to where Celestia was recovering. She pushed her way past some tired-looking Night Guard and came upon the hastily built field hospital.

Rainbow Dash’s friends were scattered here and there. Applejack and Rarity were sleeping on a rug taken from one of the office areas, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were helping the medical staff tend to the troops, and Twilight was attached to her teacher’s bedside like some kind of purple leech. Rainbow chuckled at her own mental image of Twilight as a big worm stuck to the side of the Princess’ face, which had finally manage to dislodge the stubborn images of the monsters.

“Hey Twilight,” Rainbow said moving to sit beside the worried purple mare. “How is she?” She asked motioning to Celestia with the tip of her wing.

“Our sister is well enough.” The princess of the night emerged from the other side of the bed and spoke before Twilight even had a chance to look away from her mentor. “Our Alicorn heritage has allowed her to escape from any grievous harm, however narrowly.”

“Sooo, that means she’s OK, right?” Rainbow had never been great at understanding Luna, even after the princess had started taking speech lessons.

“The Princess will be Rainbow Dash, she wasn’t hurt too badly because alicorns are almost immortal.” Twilight spoke up, looking and sounding a bit worse for wear.

“Really?” Rainbow quirked an eyebrow.

“If our sister had been a normal pony she would have been rendered to paste by such a blow.” The two elements could hear an obvious edge of anger in Luna’s voice.

Rainbow’s eyes went wide. “Wow… tough old nag.”

“Rainbow! Wha-! Don’t say that about the Princess!” Twilight was shocked by her friends disregard for manners.

Luna chuckled, much to the surprise of the two mares. “Do not worry Twilight. I am sure she would have found the familiarity far more compelling than the insult, after all was it not a jest between friends, Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow grinned at Luna, “Sure was… Ya old nag.” She wiggled an eyebrow at the princess.

Luna chuckled for a moment along with Rainbow before stopping suddenly. “Do not push your luck.” She stalked away.

Rainbow sat dumbstruck for a full ten seconds before she noticed Twilight glaring at her. “Eh heh heh, it was a joke…” Twilight only sighed and went back to Celestia’s bedside, picking up one book out a large pile of paperwork at the Princess’ bedside. Rainbow followed her over, looking curiously over the pile, finding only strange runes where she would have expected to see normal writing. “Whatcha reading?” She asked, peering over Twilight’s shoulder, much to the annoyance of the lavender mare.

“Books we found in this building.” Twilight replied, annoyance obvious in her voice.

“Anything good?” Rainbow asked ignoring Twilights irritation.

“We haven’t even managed to figure out what these symbols mean yet.” Twilight huffed.

“Well that’s boring…” Rainbow replied still looking over Twilight shoulder.

“Rainbow-“ Twilight sighed, ready to launch into a lecture about how important it was that they focus on translating the alien books and documents instead of asking pointless questions.

“Hey does this remind you of something?” Rainbow interrupted, pointing to a certain rune with her hoof.

“No, why would-“ Twilight started before being interrupted again.

“HEY RARITY! COME OVER HERE FOR A MINUTE!” Rainbow shouted further irritating Twilight who was now growling like some horrible monster about to devour her next meal.

“Ugh, what is it you want, can't a mare get her beauty sleep?” Rarity called sleepily from where both her and Applejack were roughly awoken by Rainbow’s shouting. Reluctantly, the exhausted mare trotted over to Rainbow Dash and a harassed looking Twilight. “What is it you want darling?” Rarity asked as she magically formed her hair back into its perfect coif.

“This remind you of anything?” Rainbow pointed to the rune.

Rarity looked at it for a moment before returning to her grooming. “No I'm afraid I don’t remember having seen anything like it darling,” She said, flicking her mane so it fell perfectly into place.

“Really? I thought it looked kind of like the writing on those weird collar things those diamond dogs who took you hostage wore,” Rainbow mumbled while looking at the book with a scrutinizing gaze.
Rarity took a second look, this time looking closely at the perfectly trim and precise character, trying to imagine the same drawn by the clumsy paws of a diamond dog.

It took her a moment, although she still did not sound entirely convinced. “Now that you mention it, there may be something similar in the design.”

Rarity was almost bowled over by a suddenly grinning Twilight. “You’ve seen something like this before Rarity? Show me! Showmeshowmeshowme.” The excited librarian levitated the alien books, arranging them in a circle around the fashionista who looked very much like a scared filly caught by a raving crazypony.

Rarity nervously looked around at all of the alien titles, “Well there is this one.” Her carefully manicured hoof pointed to the rune Rainbow had pointed out.


“Oh and this one.” she pointed to another that looked like an oval.


“This one.” Rarity was getting the hang of it now.


“Hmm that one I think.” She pointed out an odd, three pronged character.


“Now if I remember darling the last letter was the same as the first.” Rarity said.


“What was the name of the diamond dog?” Twilight asked. ‘So close!’

”I believe it was Rover, really such a sweet dear once you learn how to handle him.” Rarity elegantly hid a chuckle behind her hoof.

“Rover…” Twilight slowly sounded out each sound mentally assigning them to the letters in the name. Without warning, Twilight snatched up both Rainbow Dash and Rarity in a hug. “I can’t believe it you girls did it! You’re the best friends anypony could ever ask for! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” Twilight danced around the room on her hind legs dragging her surprised friends around by their necks.

“This calls for a party!” Pinkie popped out of a nearby box of supplies. That promptly got Twilight’s attention and she immediately dropped her friends, both of which were content to lay on the ground and coax their airways into unlocking themselves.

“Not now Pinkie! I have to show this to Professor Beaker!” Twilight bolted for her notes scooping them up and vanished in a *pop* of teleportation.

“You’re welcome, I guess,” Rainbow croaked from the floor, waving her hoof in the vague direction of the pile of books.


“Wow, look at this thing!” Scootaloo eagerly hopped into the ruined cab of the ‘monster’ from last night.

“Ah wouldn’t touch anythin’ in there if I were you Scoots, ya don’t know what it does.”
Scootaloo yanked a lever and the massive arm twitched, sending a small cascade of rubble crumbling to the floor. The arm jerked and suddenly there was a loud pop as a stream of foul smelling fluid trailed its way down the arm of the behemoth and puddled around the rubble pile the wreck was resting on. From around the corner, the three girls heard the sound of hooves. The took cover in a flash, each of them getting out of sight just as a royal guard poked his head around the corner and glared at the wreck for a moment before continuing on his way.

“That was close.” Sweetie Belle murmured as she climbed out of a hole in the wall.

“This is so awesome! Scootaloo crawled from under the seat.

“It kind of reminds me of the train in town,” Apple Bloom mumbled as she squeezed out of a small box in the dashboard.

“It’s like a train that can kick butt!” Scootaloo cheered as she started trying to play with the levers again, this time getting no movement out of the ruined machine. She fiddled around with the controls for another minute or so with no response. “Huh... I guess we broke it.”

“Hey girls, look at this.” Sweetie Belle called them down to floor. The other two Crusaders jumped down from their perch and gathered around a red smear on the ground. There was an odd pattern stamped in the middle of it. The girls noticed another red smear, then another; they made a random trail through the burned building out a back door and down the maze of streets.

The Crusaders followed the trail carefully. After what felt like an eternity for the three intrepid explorers, the trail left the snaking randomness of the alleyways and led them to a quiant yellow house on the corner.

They debated amongst themselves about how they should best proceed for a total of thirty seconds before star


John’s eyes slowly cracked open, seeing the plain white plaster of his bedroom. He tensed his muscles, stretching out his limbs and back, still stiff from a good nights rest. He jumped as a slender arm wrapped around his midsection pulling him back into a very feminine body, wrapped in a pair of fuzzy, pink pajamas. His face lit up bright red, he still wasn't used to living with his girlfriend. She snuggled close to his back, content to languish in bed for most of the day. “I’ll start the coffee.” He mumbled after several minutes of enjoying a little taste of paradise.

Finally managing to pull himself from those welcoming arms, John walked slowly into the kitchen. The moment he was around the corner he ducked and stuck his arm into the Television cabinet, from behind the DVD player he pulled a small, velvet box. A quick check of the calendar confirmed his thoughts. “Today is the day,” he mumbled; it had been two years to the day since he had met his girlfriend Rachel.

“Hey.” Rachel's voice nearly made John jump out of his skin as he quickly stuffed the little velvet box into the pocket of his pajama bottoms, hoping she hadn't noticed.

“Umm, hey,” John replied, a nervous grin plastered on his face.

“How’s that coffee?” The raven haired beauty asked, smirking at him.

“Uhh, yeah, right,” He said awkwardly, quickly turning to hurry and start the coffee before she got suspicious. Just as he was about to take a step Rachel’s arms encircled him once more, holding a long jewelry box in front of his nose.

“Got you something for our two years.” John could literally hear her smirk.

‘Dammit, she is totally stealing my thunder!’

He took the box from her and opened it up, inside was a small, gilded crucifix. He quickly slipped it around his neck and turned around, giving her a quick peck on the lips. “I love it hun, now why don’t you go get an extra few minutes of sleep while I get the coffee ready.” He said smiling a thousand watt smile.

“Ok, just make it snappy,” She joked as she walked around the corner to crawl back into bed.

As the coffee brewed John fingered the little golden cross, he wondered what had made her choose something like this. He had gone to church with his parents when he was younger but his heart had never really been in it. Deciding it was a mystery that could wait till after coffee, he poured two cups and fixed it up the way she liked.

John headed back into the bedroom only to be met with an empty bed. He quirked his eyebrow and set the coffee down on the dresser. He pulled back the wrinkled covers to reveal Rachel’s pajamas laying there like she had been curled up in them only moments before.

John peeked into the closet. “Rachel?” he called to no answer. He scowled a little, Rachel was notorious for some rather ingenious pranks on occasion and he couldn’t help but think this was the workings of another joke. “Rachel, come on. This isn’t funny!” he called again, still no answer.

John stepped back into the kitchen and looked out the back door into their yard. He noticed just how quiet everything was. Not seeing any trace of his raven haired girlfriend, John headed to the front door and quickly stepped down the stairs and into the front yard. Looking around, the normally busy street was deserted. Scowling at the odd turn of events, John was about to head back into the house and call Rachel’s cell but the sound of an approaching car caught his attention.

The silver Jeep rolled down the street powerlessly before thudding into a lamp post. Curious, and hoping the driver was alright, John headed over to the still running vehicle and peered through the window. The odd thing, besides the lack of a driver, was the pile of clothing sitting in the driver’s seat, legs of the pants trailing down into the floor. “What the hell?” John muttered. Looking around he started to notice more and more things were wrong, the streetlight was dark and dead, instead of a glimpse of the ocean over the trees of the lower part of town now the rock face of a mountain met his eyes. He noticed the piles of clothing, one in front of a mailbox, one half way into the seat of a car, one hanging limply from a front porch. “What the hell is going on!?” John shouted expecting someone to pop out and stare at him like he was a crazy person.

When he heard nothing but eerie silence he knew something was very wrong.

As he turned back towards the quaint yellow house on the corner the engagement ring in his pocket grew much heavier.


John groaned as pain burned through him. His eyes cracked open to see the bottom corner of his bathroom cabinet. He shifted around and was suddenly aware of his many injuries as they sent bolts of fire through his nervous system. Groaning, he took the remaining caffeine shots out of his pockets and threw them across the room at the garbage can, he felt like he had been run over and set on fire before puking his guts out, or maybe it had all happened at once.

He had just managed to prop his aching body against the wall he heard the sound of the front door gently bumping against the wall, someone was here. John reached for the nine millimeter pistol in the holster on his hip, if this was going to be the end... he took the gun in his hand and looked at it, feeling a weight settle in his stomach. Would he be able to actually do it if he had to?

Author’s Note: You know that moment when your writing and you have to stop and go : “Wow... I am not a nice person.” Yeah that happened...

Co-Author’s Note: If these last two chapters don’t count as plot development, then I’m a calzone. And I’m obviously stromboli, so don’t even try this time.

Chapter16: THE END of the beginning

View Online

Chapter 16

(Reminder that I own nothing!)
“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


The Crusaders stared at the implacable white barrier that was the yellow house’s door. Sweetie Belle stuck her tongue out in concentration and reached for the doorknob with her magic. The brass sphere was enveloped in a tentative, minty-green aura and began to rotate. A beads of sweat formed on Sweetie Belle’s forehead as she concentrated on the doorknob. Inexperienced as she was in magic, it was all she could do to maintain a standard telekinesis spell. Slowly the mechanism turned... slowly...


The doorknob sprung back into place as Sweetie Belle’s aura evaporated. She let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding.

“Aw, c’mon Sweetie Belle,” Scootaloo moaned. “Can’t you just open the darn thing already? I wunna see what’s inside!” She was bouncing up and down on her hooves in anticipation. This was the home of the alien. They were right on the doorstep of the home of the first alien ever and Sweetie Belle couldn’t even open the door.

“Sorry.” Sweetie Belle gave Scootaloo a look. “Moving stuff with magic isn’t like ordering it around or something. You grab it with your magic just like you grab stuff with your hooves. Only... I guess you aren’t really touching it.”

Scootaloo arched an eyebrow. “So...?”

“So? It’s a really smooth doorknob!” Sweetie Belle huffed. “... and I maybe haven’t gotten very good at magic yet,” Sweetie Belle finished as she sat back on her haunches and rubbed her hooves together in embarrassment.

Scootaloo snorted and stamped a hoof in impatience. “C’mon Sweetie Belle. You’re the only one who can reach it!” She tapped the cloth packet hanging beneath her chin. “You wunna try using the marble?”

Sweetie Belle looked like she’d just been asked to handle a live snake. “Are you nuts?” she asked. “What if I accidentally blow the door up?”

Apple Bloom gave her a look. “What makes ya think ya’ll are gunna go blowin’ stuff up?”

“I’ve seen what you two can do with that thing. And how hard it was to control on the first try. I don’t want to scare-”

Scootaloo, apparently fed up with being stuck on the edge of what was going to be the most awesome discovery in pony history, gave her wings a mighty flap, popped up just high enough to wrap her left hoof around the doorknob, and let her own weight turn the knob. The impenetrable barrier yielded and swung open.

Scootaloo laid a hoof against the marble’s bag; it was lukewarm. She gave her two friends a flat look. “I told you two that it wouldn't burn the bag if we didn’t use it too long.”

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle each gave Scootaloo an apologetic shrug before the three Crusaders entered the yellow house.

The room beyond the door was as sparsely furnished as it was bizarre. The left half of the room was dominated by a massive green couch while the right side was taken up by a pair of bookcases supporting a myriad of glossy black boxes, all varying in width, length, and depth. Around the boxes were other items that the Crusaders could actually recognize, namely picture frames and actual books with an odd bauble stuck here or there. There were two doors branching off of the room, one on the far wall and one leading off to the right, beside the bookcases. Everything looked stretched out and elongated, like it was made for ponies that were at least as big as the princesses.

The only sign of life was a single, warm yellow light that shone from the portal to the right.

“Hey guys look at this!” Scootaloo hissed in a whisper. She hopped up to one of the higher shelves and snatched a picture from its perch before falling back to the floor. The photo in the frame was of two alien creatures, one with a long black mane, wearing clothes that were pink and fuzzy looking; the other had a very short brown mane and was wearing a blue garment with plaid pants. The one in pink was kissing the other one on the cheek as the other blushed and smiled, they were both sitting on the green couch on the other side of the room and were holding mugs full of some sort of brown stuff.

“Aww, they look like special someponies.” Sweetie Belle couldn’t help but squeal a little as such an obvious romance between the two odd looking aliens.

“Bleh, you’re right. They sure do look funny.” Scootaloo looked like she had just swallowed something sour. “Hey, wait. Doesn’t your older sister have pajamas like that, Sweetie Belle?”

“Wha-? How would you even know about that?”

Apple Bloom was staring at the photo, deep in thought when shuffling noises from the lit room drew the attention of the three fillies. Apple Bloom poked her head through the doorway next to the shelves looking for the source of the quiet noises. Her eyes opened wide at the surprising sight.

“Girls, come’re, and hush.” Apple Bloom whispered at the other two crusaders peaked around the plain white door frame and gasped.

There, struggling back to its strange upright posture, was one of the creatures from the photo. It was tall, the only thing the girls had ever seen that rivaled its height was a minotaur that had passed through town a while back. The tall, brown maned alien was wearing a thick, blue jumpsuit with hard-looking black pieces strapped onto it. Around its torso was wrapped an oddly bulky tan vest. It had bandages wrapped around its form in several places, almost all of them soaked through with the same red fluid they had followed all the way from the mechanical monster. The three girls grimaced and glanced at each other, they had unknowingly followed the alien’s blood trail all the way here.

“Should we go get Fluttershy?” Scootaloo was the first to speak up, trembling a little at the sight, the past few days were finally getting to her.

“Yeah, it looks really hurt.” Sweetie Belle whispered.

“Good idea girls.” Apple Bloom whispered back before turning to get one more peek at the alien creature.

The alien was staring right at them. Apple Bloom gasped and started to back away, the creature was leaning heavily on the wall and its eyes were locked on the Crusaders. Apple Bloom couldn’t help but see the flat look on its face it was almost as if it had known they were there the entire time. It raised its arm, the strange grasping paws holding a shiny lump of metal. Just as the three girls turned to dash out of the house, a loud ear splitting BOOM echoed through the quaint house. The girls panicked and ran for it, bits of the ceiling raining down on them like a plaster hailstorm.


The newly minted Eleison Melrose skipped and twirled down an empty street. One fascinating aspect of her masterpiece that she failed to anticipate was the sense of feeling. She had never before inhabited a body that amounted to more than bones and tendons. To be bound in skin and to touch with the sensations of actual flesh was euphoric.

Now that she really had true senses the world was so much brighter, so much more vibrant. She wanted to see and touch and smell and taste everything! The events concerning John and the pony invaders was almost shoved into the back of her mind, almost forgotten in favor of skipping down the delightfully cold street, reveling in the feel of the cold breeze in her long shaggy red hair, or the warm rays of the sun, even the feeling of the clothes she had garbed herself in was adding to her wonder.

“Laa la la dee dee da... la laaa de dee daaaa de da~!” Eleison sang loudly, unsure of where the song had come from, it didn’t really cross her mind that she should even care. She just wanted to give a voice to that happy feeling that was coursing through her being. A thought hit her in the middle of a verse and she quieted for only a moment to listen to her own thoughts.

‘I think this day could only get better if John were here!’ Elieson nodded in appreciation of her own brilliance, that was a wonderful idea! ‘I’ll just have to go get him!’ She concluded and resumed to dance in the direction she felt his presence, only slightly faster than she was moving before, taking time to caress the rough, dormant limbs of a shrub, or the smooth door panel of a car as she passed.


Luna, Princess of the Night, looked over the crippled piece of machinery that the alien had used to assault the convoy. Her Night Guard had spread out and taken up sentry positions around the partially collapsed building to make sure nothing would interrupt her investigation. The Wonderbolts had come as well and had, with the exception of Fleetfoot, stuck to Luna like glue. Fleetfoot had simply vanished several times without explanation only to return minutes later.

The machine lay broken and lifeless on a mound of rubble. The alien construction intrigued Luna to no end. She imagined that Chris’ race had to have been naturally talented in machining and construction. Who else but a culture dedicated to craftsmanship would be able to produce a device of this size and complexity?

While Luna was preoccupied with examining the strange construct, Fleetfoot vanished behind the machine for a small while. When she reappeared she was holding a small, white and red bottle in her mouth. She quickly handed the item off to Spitfire.

“What the hay is this?” Spitfire mumbled as she examined the little empty container. Fleetfoot only shrugged.

Luna managed to tear her attention away from the machine long enough to witness Soarin detach a wooden case from his side. He opened it to reveal a set of fine, glass instruments and several reservoirs filled with miscellaneous alchemical reagents.

“Hmm, smells fruity,” Spitfire intoned as she sniffed, scrutinized, and examined the small amount of thin, red fluid that had been left behind in the bottom of the bottle. There was little more than a sip’s worth left. Holding the white and red container upright, Spitfire carefully picked a wide-necked glass bottle from the case and placed it upside down onto the foreign container, so that the wide bottle’s edges were flush with the interior of the glass. Slowly, she upended the two bottles, pouring the red liquid into the new container. Carefully, she set the white bottle on the ground and handed the filled glass off to Soarin.

Soarin took the glass from his commander and, using the rigid tip of his longest flight feather, scooped a small portion of sandy yellow powder from one of the case’s reservoirs. He poured this down the neck of the bottle and waited.

The fluid bubbled vigorously for several moments and turned from bright red to a muddy brown before it settled. Soarin blinked at the concoction in his hooves. “...Wow.”

“You got a result already, Soarin?” Spitfire asked as she sauntered up behind him.

“Uh, yeah. Big one too. Don’t drink any of this stuff.” Soarin poured the product of the test into the dirt and began wiping down the dirtied glassware with a rag from the case. “This... whatever it is has a lot of caffeine in it. Like, way more than the legal limit.”

Spitfire arched an eyebrow. “How much more?”

“Uhh...” Soarin traced several numbers in the air with his hoof. “If the reaction fits in with that chart the Academy gave us, a bottle of this stuff will probably put you right into the muscle spasm stage of caffeine poisoning, plus all the nasty magical side effects.”

Spitfire looked at the unassuming bottle like it was about to explode.

Several of the Night Guard cast incredulous looks at the off-white pegasus. Alchemy was not yet a trusted science among the masses, not even the Wonderbolts themselves believed very much in its validity, but they were willing to make an exception when dealing with a completely alien substance.

Luna listened with great interest. Truth be told, despite her commanding position in Equestrian politics, Luna was relatively ignorant of the nature of caffeine. It had only become a health concern once Equestria had begun importation of coffee, around a year ago. While ponies had ingested caffeine for as long as anyone could remember, it had always been in small amounts, usually in tea. The concern was that the concentration of caffeine found in stronger coffees could be lethal to most ponies.

“Commander Spitfire, I am not sure I completely understand. Exactly how much caffeine would that require?” Luna asked.

“This stuff's got as much as two big cups of pure Dragon Country Black,” Spitfire replied, trotting over to the machine and starting to dig through the wreck.

Luna cocked her head slightly, that was a lot but it was still within the legal limit, if only barely. “I fail to see how-” She was interrupted by a sudden cascade of white bottles.

“This much could kill a large pony a few times over, and they’re all empty.” Spitfire commented, her head poking out of the top of what Luna assumed was the driver’s position of the machine.

“Woah.” Soarin kicked a bottle. “So not only did the guy hit us with this thing,” He gave the twisted metal arm a swift kick, earning a metallic thunk, “But he was also drugged up while he was doing it! I knew that thing was no good.”

Luna frowned and was about to voice her displeasure with Soarin’s attitude when Soarin was suddenly bowled over by three fillies. The sentries looked at each other sheepishly, all having failed to notice three screaming panicked fillies.

“Theresaalienwefounditithadthisthingitmakesstuffexploaditsrightdownthestreetyouhavetogogetit!” The fillies were speaking with such panic that not even Luna herself could understand their babbling.

It took several minutes to calm the foals down enough so that they could be understood. The trio claimed to have spotted the creature, alive and tending to its wounds in a dwelling not far away. Luna thought it was a little strange that it had chosen to hide in a little yellow house. ‘Oh well, it is not like Discord never hid in stranger places. In the end, it does not matter, I have a creature to catch.’


Applejack sighed and massaged her temples, listening to Twilight blather on with the slightly grating Professor Beaker could drive anypony to break into the cider cellar. The two brainiacs had been arguing for hours about the similarities between the runic language of the diamond dogs and the written language of... whatever it was Chris happened to be.

“That is correct, but if we assume the diamond dog ruins are perhaps a precursor or a primitive version of the alien script it fits with Quick Quill’s theory of language morphologie.”

“Perhaps, but what of the uniformity and perfection of the alien script? How could they have printed all of this material so neatly? It certainly isn't handwritten and even a printing press would have worn out its dies by the time half of this was printed. Recasting them always leaves subtle differences.”

“I don't know Professor, perhaps it’s all-”

Applejack put her hoofs over her ears. ‘Yep still going at it...’

Having had enough mind numbing babble for now, Applejack trotted over to the now conscious Celestia’s bedside. “How you doin’ Princess?” She remarked casually as she sat down next the pile of cushions.

“Much better,” Celestia rasped, her laboured speech made Applejack wince a little. “I will be back on my hooves in no time.”

“Pardon mah manners Princess, but that looked like it wasn't something that can be trotted off in ah day.” Applejack looked on with concern, shifting her eyes to take in the angry red abrasions on the alabaster alicorn’s side.

Celestia sighed, she had already had this very conversation with Twilight. “Applejack, you are right. It was a painful experience and I was ill prepared for anything on the magnitude of what we faced. I paid the price for it, but far better it be me than any of you.” Celestia looked at Applejack with the same motherly expression she often showed to Twilight.

“What ya think got inta that critter anyway? Its not like we were gonna kill it or anythin’.” Applejack kicked her hoof back and forth looking at the ground with a scowl, nothing in her mind could justify the creatures behavior. It just didn't make any sense.

Celestia was surprised at the question, the other Elements had responded to the attack with anger, worry, or even indifference, but only Twilight had sought to understand the creature before the Element of Honesty and she was going about it in her own way, failing to try and understand the alien’s true motivations. Only Applejack had taken the time to ask the simple question of ‘Why?’

“I fear... that this whole incident is my fault,” Celestia rasped, a sudden look of sorrow and weariness creeping into her eyes. “I did not anticipate that the short incarceration would be so detrimental to the... to Chris. He even told us that we had not fed him properly. I thought little of it at the time. He was alive, looked healthy, I thought that was all that mattered. I knew he was like a pony in his mind, I focused so intensely on how he was the same that I discounted his differences.” Celestia ignored the sudden look of anger on Applejack’s face. Before Applejack’s pride and patriotism compelled her to ignorantly defend her Princess, Celestia cut her off. “He was afraid, dear Applejack,” the Princess said sadly.

Applejack understood. After all, the quickest way to get bit by a timberwolf was to corner it, and Chris certainly had been cornered for just about his entire stay in Ponyville. Chris must have been terrified when he saw the Princesses’ escort waltzing up to his home all armored up and mean. Applejack wondered if Fluttershy had figured all this a long time ago. Probably, she’d spent an awful amount of time with Chris, if anyone had known then it would have been her.

“Ah understand Princess...” Applejack looked at the ground, feeling more than a little bull headed for not noticing earlier. “He asked us to let him go, ya know?” Applejack finally spoke up, suddenly sounding a little downtrodden. “He promised not to hurt anypony if we would just let him go home..."

Celestia looked saddened by that little bit of knowledge, if he had immediately sought to try and bargain his way to freedom after the fiasco that occurred after he was first released then it spoke volumes about his current attitude.

"Ah didn't come here to help Chris. Ah felt like ah was wastin’ time chasin’ after some dumb critter when ah could be protectin’ tha’ farm. Tha’ only reason I came was in case Twi an’ the girls needed me. But ah understand what you mean.” Applejack looked a little more at ease now. “Everthin’ will turn out fine, just like it always does. We’ll get the critter back and make em feel right at home with a little ol fashioned Ponyville hospitality!” Applejack hopped to her hooves, apparently raring to go.

Celestia looked a little surprised but smiled at the Element of Honesty's admission and determination to make amends. Her thoughts were interrupted by a sudden commotion as a Night Guard burst into the room and instantly rushed to Celestia’s bedside. “Your majesty!” The mare looked like she had sprinted the entire way.

“Yes, is there a problem?” Celestia asked, still managing to pull off her usual royal countenance despite her wounds and hoarse voice.

“Princess Luna is on her way to apprehend the alien, three fillies tipped us off one of the wonderbolts is bringing them in now.” The mare reported, breathing through her nose as she managed to give the report without gasping for breath between every other word.

“And just what were three fillies doing out here all on their own?” The Princess allowed her gaze to harden. A loud groan come from where Applejack sat.

The Night Guard glanced at the orange mare, who was grumbling angrily. “Eh, We don't know. They were hysterical when we found them, not much of a state to give many details.”

“I need to go.” Celestia stated simply, hissing slightly as her movement agitated the numerous angry red abrasions scattered over her body.

“Your majesty! You need your rest, Princess Luna will handle it, The Night Guard pleaded, flustered.

“My sister is neither the most subtle nor the most gentle of ponies and this is a very delicate situation. I need to prevent any further misunderstandings.” The Princess of the Sun headed for the doors without so much as a glance back at the other two ponies.

Applejack and the Night Guard looked at one another in silence for a moment before scrambling after her. “Princess wait!” they both shouted. The rest of the Elements scattered around the concrete room noticed what was going on and made to follow, only to stop as three fillies rushed into the room, shortly followed by a harried looking Soarin, and practically tackled Applejack to the ground, still scared out of their minds. All three were waving their hooves around and talking in a jumbled mess about an alien that could make things explode just from pointing.


I groaned as I pushed myself off the wall I was leaning on and stumbled into the living room of what once was my home. My eyes lingered on the cold wood of a door at the end of the hall, where our bedroom had once been as I passed. I had long since given up on a happy reunion with the woman I wanted to spend my life with, but the memories still hurt and I had no desire to ever go in that room again. Finally making it into the living room, I slumped down against the wall exact opposite the front door and slowly sank to the floor. I wasn’t going to let them sneak up on me again. I was lucky that it had only been curious children this time, but I knew they would come for me soon. They would probably execute me for killing their princess, and to be honest, I wasn’t as scared as I thought I should be. I craned my neck back and looked at the hole blown in the roof, already regretting scaring innocent children so badly.

I pressed the cold metal of the side of my weapon against my forehead, letting the cool metal sooth my growing headache. I breathed a sigh of relief as the cool metal did its job and let me drain some of the tension from my battered body. I was still incredibly exhausted from my three day long trap building frenzy and my body was letting me know that it didn’t appreciate being forced to run on almost nothing but caffeine. I could feel my eyes sag and I might have fallen asleep right then if it I hadn’t heard the sound of someone stomping up the wooden stairs that led up to my porch.

I snapped my head up, followed quickly by my gun, pointing it at the door I knew would any second spawn four legged soldiers to take me away. That was until I focused on the gait, the distinct, greatly missed sound of two legs coming up to my front door accompanied by a faint humming of a cheerful tune. My heart soared with hope despite the cynical thoughts running through my mind.

“I must be insane, there isn’t anyone else left.”

A silhouette appeared against the pale white curtain that laid over the door’s window, a human silhouette.

I held my breath as the door swung open.

The woman standing in the open doorway was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, whether it was from her actual beauty or the fact that I hadn’t seen another human in almost three months I couldn’t tell. She had a long mop of frizzy, red hair that hung about her attractive face like she hadn’t combed it in weeks and, from what I could see, almost reached the small of her back. The eyes that looked back at me were a dull green and accented her hair perfectly. The clothes she wore were surprisingly clean and were a few sizes too big for from what I could tell was a trim, athletic body. I don’t know why, but my mind screamed that this wasn’t a hallucination, this was real, there was an actual human woman standing in my living room.

After the first few days of searching I had given up the rest of the town as dead, as much as that had hurt. I hadn’t dared dream of ever seeing anyone again after that, resigned to my loneliness. But here she was, staring at me with a straight face, and I could only stare wide-eyed in return. Without a word she suddenly darted to my side and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. I slowly, almost delicately returned the embrace, praying that she wasn’t some dream that would fade the moment I touched her. She had buried her face in my shoulder, hiding her face from view and I placed my hand gently on her back as if to comfort her. Suddenly a crushing weight settled on my soul and in my stomach as I realized how big a fool I had been. How long did she have to fend for herself because I had been too lazy and given up? What kind of horrible run-ins did she have with the local wildlife because I wasn’t there to protect her? Were there others I had failed to save and had become dinner for some demonic monster? I was disgusted with myself. I couldn’t tell if she was crying into the heavy blue police uniform I had nicked from the station but there was no mistaking the feeling of my own tears running down my cheeks to leave dark spots on the blue fabric.

There was a sound, the clatter of hooves against wood interrupted my thoughts. I sprang to my feet as quickly as my battered body would allow, the red haired woman rose with me. The front door flew open and a dark blue nightmare waltzed into the room like it owned everything it saw. Its bright cerulean gaze was currently locked on the two of us. It took a moment for me to recognize it as one of the pony-like people, it bore a heavy resemblance to the large white ‘princess’ that I had seen before. She (it looked so much like the ‘sun princess,’ so I figured it was a she) was tall and slender compared to the other ponies and had an ethereal mane, although this one’s looked like something out of a Hubble photo.

The lead X-ray vest helped, apparently. Instead of being rendered into a gasping heap like my first encounter with the Sun Princess it only felt like I had been punched in the stomach. ‘Hooray for progress.’

“Creature, you are under arrest for assaulting the Royal Family and those under their protection!” The blue pony shouted, the armored guards behind her leveled spears. I recognized the two of them flanking Mrs. Yelling. They were two of the three who had tried to capture me in my church, the orange and yellow pony and the blue and white one. Some part of my mind wondered where the Jerk had gone.

I pushed the unidentified woman behind me, hoping my body would spare her the pain of feeling the magic flowing off the equine in front of us. Just as freakish, dark purple plated guards made to move around their dark blue leader I snapped my gun up and pointed it right at the blue pony’s face. She reared back in surprise.

“Go away!” I said, a sudden angry snarl in my voice that surprised even me. I felt a surge of emotion, anger at the pony people for threatening us and fear the woman behind me would be harmed, or worse. I glanced over my shoulder at the girl behind me, her face was still buried in my shirt. Would they do the same things to her that they had done to me, lock her away, make her a science experiment? Would she end up in some alien zoo? I grit my teeth, determined not to let any of that happen.

“I don’t like to hurt people!” I bellowed my sudden fury at the large blue pony. “I hate hurting people, but we won’t be your victims anymore!” I forced my aching back to stop slouching and stood a little taller. I was through running from them, finished with being intimidated, and done backing down. I raised my weapon and shot another hole in the ceiling. White plaster rained down on the blue pony and her guards.

The large one’s eyes flashed a bright white and her horn lit up. I reacted and made to aim for her face but the gun was ripped from my fingers and flung through a window, adding shards of glass to the mess on the floor of my living room. I tensed my weakened body for a fight but, just like before, her horn flashed and I was crushed to the ground and held there. I groaned. “Magic’s cheating...”


Eleison was confused. Why was John on the ground? Why was there magic all over him? Why was he bleeding so much, didn't he need that stuff? She looked up and saw the collected ponies in the room. A spark connected in her mind, John was bleeding on the floor, ponies were here, Luna was doing something with magic. The ponies made John bleed...


The princess of the night looked at the creature on the ground with a superior air. “Nopony hurts my sister!” She growled at the fallen thing.

The other creature had not moved during the whole exchange. Luna looked up at its face to see profound confusion in its eyes. It was staring at the pinned creature called ‘Chris’ and looked as though it was trying to figure out the secrets of the universe. When the creature looked up at her Luna witnessed a strange transformation, after a moment of staring the look in the creature’s eyes went from confused to enraged in an instant. Its eyes held an anger that made Luna feel like a filly meeting the gaze of a monster. Luna, for all of her experiences in the past, had never seen rage like that in anypony’s eyes, not even Discord had been so enraged when her and her sister had interrupted his first carnival of chaos.

The other creature actually growled at her. As the creature growled an angry, high pitched keening sound filled the room, the sound was enough to make Luna’s hair stand on end.

“Guards.” Luna commanded, managing to keep the fear from her voice. The Night Guard moved in, brandishing short, razor sharp spears. They encircled the pair, the enraged one still emitting that furious screech. Luna, as calmly as she could, observed them. The one still standing was interesting, if a bit unsettling. It did not shy away as if it had been burned like the other creature, even now when the other creature was not shielding it. The creature on the ground was armored in a thick fabric and armored plating made of some strange material. It was weakly thrashing around under her magical grip, feebly trying to fight its way out of her spell. Luna briefly wondered if the one still standing could pose any real threat without weapons, as the other now seemed totally helpless.


The Princess of the Night turned to look behind her at the sound of somepony calling her name.

“Sister!? We were not aware that thee had awoken.” Luna said, slipping into her old habits in surprise.

“Luna, you're doing it again.” Celestia smirked making her way to the front of the group and surrounding herself and her sister in the isolation spell, making Luna shiver a bit at the strange sensation. Even though her approach was filled with light hearted jokes Luna could see a certain edge in Celestia’s eyes. She was aware of the entire situation and she was not happy about it at all.

“Ponyfeathers!” Luna cursed. “I don't suppose you’re willing to let it go this one time?” Luna said, deciding to go along with Celestia’s joke. She tacked on a saccharine smile to complete the illusion. Truthfully, she would have much preferred to take in the alien and pursue retribution, but if her sister felt otherwise...

“No, I'm afraid not. No cinnamon buns for a week.” Celestia smiled at her sister’s annoyed frown. “We didn't have you go through all those language lessons just to have you forget them on a whim, after all.”

Annoyed with her sister’s punishment, Luna turned her attention back to the enraged creature and its companion only to see that its face had gone from angry to down right dumbfounded. Luna huffed, Tia was always so good at that, draining all the tension in a room as if it had never existed in the first place, sadly the means by which she did this were so often at her own little sister’s expense.

The gathered Night Guard had a similar expression to Chris’s companion, few really understanding what had just happened. The more experienced members quickly motioned for the rest to stand down and the spears were withdrawn. “Well that was anticlimactic...” Spitfire mumbled earning a few chuckles and snorts from the guardsponies.

“Just who do we have here?” Celestia trotted right up to Eleison, barrier slightly coloring the space between them, and looked over the second member of Chris’s species. ‘No wonder he was so anxious to get back... and to keep us away.’ A small wave of fresh guilt passed over the Celestia’s face and her eyes fell, only to snap open again at the state of Chris, immobile out on the floor with what looked like several bleeding wounds. She had known he was going to be injured, she had followed a blood trail here afterall, but she was surprised by the severity.

“Sister, call for the medics, tell them to come as fast as possible.” Celestia said, a sudden shard of ice in her voice. Luna swallowed nervously. Celestia sounded angry, which was something she had only had the displeasure of witnessing on very rare occasions, only once having it directed at her. Hoping that her sister’s ire wouldn’t be directed in her direction Luna hurried out the door before vanishing in a pop of teleportation.

Celestia turned her attention back to Eleison, taking in the appearance of the red head. She could feel a powerful stink of evil around the second alien, though she remembered a similar sensation surrounding Chris when she first saw him so she tried to not let it bother her. “What is your name?” Celestia asked in as gentle of a voice as she could manage.

The alien looked at her and croaked out “Eleison.” in a voice that, while obviously feminine, sounded like she had been bucked in the throat.

“Well, Eleison, we would like to help your friend Chris heal, can we please?” Celestia cooed as though she was speaking with a foal. The alien stared at her for a second and then sat down behind Chris pulling his head into her lap and holding him possessively and sent her a warning glare. Celestia translated it as As long as you don't try to take him away. Celestia tossed her head at the guards and Fleetfoot stepped forward with a some bandages and proceeded to begin working on the fallen human, stripping the dirty blue jumpsuit away to get at the bleeding lacerations.

Eleison watched the process like a hawk. She was so absorbed in the process that she almost didn't notice when the clatter of many different sets of hooves began bounding up the front steps.

“Princess! Is everything ok?” came the voice of Twilight from the doorway. Celestia turned to beckon her inside, spotting the rest of the elements behind her and three downcast fillies behind them.

“Everything is under control Twilight. Come in, there is someone I would like you to meet.” Twilight and the other elements cautiously stepped into the room, taking in the state of the room, the holes in the ceiling, the guards standing around, and finally the two aliens, one lying there while one of the wonderbolts tried to staunch its bleeding wounds, while the other held onto him possessively.

Twilight stared at the red headed alien and the alien stared back warily. Celestia’s voice broke the stalemate, gaining both of their attentions. “Twilight, this is Eleison, a female of Chris’ species.”

The other elements filed in through the door behind the scene taking place. “You sure Princess? They look tha same ta me.” Applejack quipped moving to the front of the small group. Celestia nodded at her and she trotted up next to the still staring Twilight, thrusting out a hoof at the alien. “Howdy, ah’m Applejack.” Eleison stared at the outstretched hoof warily before slowly grasping it in her hand. “We got a lot ah makin’ up to do with you folks, so ah’d like ta start bah offerin’ ah big welcome to ya from tha Apple family.”

Pinkie Pie chose that moment to appear from over Eleison’s shoulder. “Hi I’m Pinkie Pie and I can't wait to throw you both a welcome to Equestria / we’resosorrywelockedyouupforthreeweeksandchasingyouallovertheplace party!” Eleison looked up at Celestia with a slightly panicked face, hoping for someone to save her from the strange pink pony.

Rainbow Dash offered the female a casual wave of her wing before setting down next to the Captain of the Wonderbolts.

Rarity was visibly holding herself back from rushing over to Eleison with a mane brush.


Fluttershy was smiling at the two aliens, especially at the cute look on Eleison’s face as Pinkie Pie acted like Pinkie Pie. She was about to help Fleetfoot with the bandages when her hoof bumped against something on the ground. She picked up the black picture frame and looked at the photo inside. The first alien in the picture was an obviously smiling Chris, the other was a dark haired female that was wearing some very comfortable looking pink pajamas. ‘Doesn't Rarity have some like that? Maybe I should get some, they look soo comfy...’ Fluttershy looked around at the rest of the photos on the tall, black shelves. Every single one had John or the Dark haired female with a variety of their species, but the overwhelming majority featured the two of them together. Fluttershy wondered where the other female could be hiding. Was it just him and the dark haired one or if the red maned one lived here too? Quietly slipping out of the slightly noisy living room, she peeked through the rooms one by one, hoping not to frighten Chris’ other friend away.

‘The other...aliens in those photos, where could they be hiding? This place is way too big for just two, did they all hide when Chris told them we were coming?’ Fluttershy thought as she looked into a closet in bathroom. ‘Maybe they are like ants and only send out soldiers to fight while the rest hide?’

Fluttershy was fully aware of what had happened with Chris and why he had tried to harm them. The ponies, at least according to her, had harassed the poor thing until he was convinced he had to fight for his life, although why he would come here specifically was a mystery to her, there were plenty of other buildings that looked much more secure than this... cottage? House? The dwelling was so different from all the others Fluttershy had seen that she did not have a proper name for it. The walls and ceiling were so straight and had the strangest covering over them. It looked like they had been painted, but the finish on them was bumpy, like wax had been splattered everywhere and left to dry. And there weren’t any supporting columns either, were the walls strong enough to hold the entire house?

Fluttershy poked her head through the last door she hadn't checked, on the other side was a bedroom. She trotted into the room, noting the little puffs of dust her hooves kicked up as she went. She looked under the bed, in the closet, and even in the drawers but there was no sign of any more aliens, although the dust seemed to have found its way into everything.

Disappointed she looked around the room. ‘Well least we can do is tidy up,’ She thought and trotted back to the bathroom to get a rag. She stopped and looked around the corner at the gaggle of ponies in the living room, noting that Luna had arrived with nearly every medic in the escort. Confident that Chris was in good hands, she returned to the dusty room, damp towel in hoof.

Fluttershy started with the night stand, wiping dust from the table and cleaning off the items mounted on it. First was the coaster, a small piece of white ceramic work. Next came the pictures, both of which showed Chris and the black maned alien together. In this picture the black maned alien was blowing out a group of candles on what looked like a birthday cake with Chris standing over her shoulder, he looked ecstatic. Fluttershy wondered if alien birthday parties were the same as pony birthday parties.

The second picture looked like it was from a fishing trip. Chris was standing on the left holding a bass that was so long that it almost bridged the gap between his elbows. The black maned alien was glaring at him from the right. Judging by the picture, her largest catch for the day was just barely a quarter of the size of Chris’. Her jealous expression made Fluttershy giggle.

Last on the nightstand was an object Fluttershy had not seen before. It looked like a black, rubber half-dome with a glass front, except the rubber refused to bend when she applied pressure to it. Five circular buttons were arrayed over its top, labeled with white letters in the alien’s own language. Unsure of the object’s function, Fluttershy contented herself with wiping the dust from the glass portion of the device before moving on.

From the nightstand, Fluttershy went to the closet. She was astounded at how neat it was. All the clothes were hung up in perfect order, shirts on one rail and pants on another, all of them pressed and wrinkle free. It would have made Twilight jealous.

It made Fluttershy wonder how exactly all those clothes had gotten out onto the streets. Aside from the scarecrows, there had been a great number of clothes just piled here and there around the city, each one consisting of a shirt, pants, and shoes and normally with an undergarment. They’d found the piles everywhere. Stores, houses, even in the machines out on the roads or half-in and half-out of chairs. If all the aliens were as organized as Chris, then why were there things scattered everywhere?

Content that the closet was neat enough without her help, Fluttershy at last made her way to the bed, the last piece of furniture in the room. It was odd, she thought, how only half the bed was covered even though it was easily large enough to fit two aliens of Chris’ size. There were even twin pillows beneath the headboard. The blanket had been folded over on one half, like somepony had climbed out of bed and simply left it there for a very, very long time.

Scrunching her nose some at the dust, Fluttershy decided it would be best to wash the blanket before she did anything else. If she moved it around like this then she would just get the whole bedroom dirty again. Slowly, she took the top of the blanket and began to fold it backwards. She noticed that there was something pink resting on the mattress. She pulled the blanket back further and found she was looking at a set of frilly, pink pajamas.

But how had they gotten here? They looked just like the pajamas the female alien had worn, but they couldn’t have been hers, could they? Surely she would have taken them with her when she had gotten out of bed. And the belt of the robe was still tied, too. Why would anypony just leave a pair of pajamas covered up on a bed?

Fluttershy just looked at the pajamas for a while. There was something odd about them. There wasn’t a reason for them to be here, and there wasn’t a reason for them to be laid out like they were. The arms and legs curled inward nearer to the midsection, just like Chris would do when he slept...

They were posed in the same way Chris was when he slept...

Fluttershy noticed several long strands of long, black hair still clinging to the pillow.

It all clicked. All at once. This was his home. Their home. Only there wasn’t a ‘they’ anymore. And all those clothes on the street, those had been people too, only they had all left and Chris hadn’t left with them. Had he been all alone? All this time?

Tears blurred Fluttershy’s vision and she managed to strangle a sob. It wouldn’t help anything if she worried her friends. She had to calm down. She had to think. Why would he come back here? There were so many places safer than this in the Everfree City. So many places farther from the pony’s base camp. And Chris had had ample time to run, even with his injuries. Why would he go to his home when something like this was waiting for him?

His home...

Fluttershy couldn’t stop a long, mewling cry from finding its way out of her throat. Rainbow Dash was in the room in an instant.

“Fluttershy! What happened?” Rainbow Dash was holding onto her friend now, trying to support Fluttershy as sobs shivered their way up and down her body.

“Dash. It’s horrible,” Fluttershy worked out between sobs. “He thought- he thought we were here to kill him, Dash.” She collapsed against her friend’s shoulder, her words dissolving into more sobs.

“What? Fluttershy, get a hold of yourself,” said Rainbow Dash, not unkindly. “I’m sure he doesn’t think that. I-I bet he just wants to be left alone...” she grasped for something more to sooth her friend’s worries, “What even put that dumb idea in your head?” she asked, again not unkindly.

“W-when an animal knows that it’s going t-to die,” Fluttershy hiccuped out, “they look for the spot that’s the most familiar to them... and then they just wait.” Fluttershy paused to wipe her eyes with a wing. “There were so many other places he could have run to, but he came here. If he had really wanted to get away then he would have just kept running and running until he couldn’t anymore, or he would have left when the children had found him, but he stopped here, at his home. He waited for us to... to...” Fluttershy began to sob into her friend’s shoulder again.

By now, the remainder of the Elements of Harmony had drifted into the bedroom, drawn by Fluttershy’s cries, they had heard enough to understand. Twilight and Rarity wore looks that bordered on horror, Applejack looked ashamed, and Pinkie Pie was close to tears. Rainbow Dash was just staring at them, helpless; she didn’t know what to say.

Pinkie Pie was the first to move. She trotted right up to Fluttershy and wrapped both her up in a hug, right on top of Rainbow Dash’s. “Don’t worry Fluttershy. What Chris thought of us before now doesn’t matter.”

Fluttershy looked Pinkie in the eye. It was all she could do to keep from breaking down again. “Are- are you sure Pinkie? What if...”

Pinkie laid a hoof on Fluttershy’s nose. “It doesn’t matter anymore because we aren’t going to let it matter. Right now Chris is being fixed up by all the best ponies Celestia’s got. He’s going to be just fine.”


“And then we’re going to apologize to him. All of us... except maybe you, I think he likes you.” Pinkie shook her head back and forth and focused. “And then, after we tell him we’re sorry, we’re gunna do everything we can to make it up to him, kay? We’ll show him just how much we actually do care.”

Fluttershy’s tears finally stopped flowing, subsiding into quiet sniffles. “If you say so Pinkie... You’re sure?”

Pinkie Pie gave Fluttershy a beaming grin and nodded. “Mhm! Oh! And we should probably all get moving. I bet the guardsponies have gotten him all fixed up now, we should go so we can apologize as soon as he wakes up!” And with that bounced out the door, supporting a newly cheered Fluttershy with the rest of the Elements of Harmony in tow.


I could hear movement around me as I slowly returned to consciousness. I could feel someone moving me around, an occasional rough push. I heard muttering and felt gauze against my skin. Finally the movements stopped and I cracked my eyes and took in the blurry surroundings, there was one of the blue ponies from my first encounter holding my arm. It took a moment to recognize the sensation of a needle stabbing into my vein as a small vial filled with my blood. When she finished her task the pulled the needle from my arm and quickly trotted away.

I blinked the bleariness from my eyes and found half a dozen pastel faces peering down at me. I groaned pathetically, sounding for all the world like someone had just run over my dog right in front of me. The ponies gasped and backed up, the butter yellow one, Fluttershy, looked a little teary, the other, more serious looking faces began to poke and move my body again in ways I couldn’t really see.

“Princess, he is waking up.” I heard the voice of Twilight coming from somewhere outside of my field of vision. I tried to turn my head and look but I couldn’t move much more than an inch in either direction.

Suddenly my vision was filled with the face of the unidentified woman from before. Her hair fell like a frizzy, red curtain to tickle and irritate my nose. I puffed air out of my nose and tried to blow away the pesky strands but only succeeded in getting a mouthful of the stuff for my trouble. All of this aside, I was so relieved she hadn’t been a dream, that there was more than just me in this place. She shifted her weight as someone else entered my view and I was surprised to learn that my head was cradled in her lap. I blushed in embarrassment only to be distracted by the kind voice that reminded me of my mom.

I looked up, thinking that it was the woman speaking but her mouth wasn’t moving.


“Chris, how are you feeling?”

‘Oh great, it’s Princess Pain.’ I groaned in my mind.

“Whaaat?” I groaned, unintentionally venting my thoughts.

“How are you feeling?” Celestia asked again.

“I feel like crap, thanks for asking, now please go away.” I hissed at her. Hey, it was worth a shot.

“I'm afraid we are not going anywhere.” another voice came from next to Celestia and I cracked my eye to look at the smaller, navy blue pony that had taken a seat next to the larger white and…err rainbow-y pony.

‘Jesus, I’m talking to a rainbow pony princess and what looks like her angsty sister, greeeaaat.’

I didn't really have the energy to be properly angry so I settled for as much of a glare as I could muster, which, coming from the comfy lap of a frizzy red head, probably wasn't very menacing at all.

“I think what my sister Luna means to say, is that we are very sorry for the way we have treated you and we meant no insult by it.” Celestia interjected with a small hip bump and a sidelong glare at her sister.

“Look, I don't know why you keep on with this charade. Its obvious you're here for something and we-” I motioned to myself and the redhead “-aren't necessary for whatever plans you have, so just take what you want and leave us alone.”

Celestia looked stunned but her face quickly returned to her practised, stony expression. “You are partially correct, we are here for more than the two of you.” The other ponies in the room stared at her, startled by her admission. “There is a dangerous substance we believe is abundant here and we need to secure it to prevent disaster.”

“Fine. Take it. I don't care,” I growled out. The sooner they were gone the better.

“But,” Celestia interjected, “We are also here to make peace between our respective peoples. I realize that we have gravely insulted you and we wish to make amends. The time you spent in captivity was only due to the delicate situation our country is currently experiencing. If it were not for that I would have fully supported openly and peacefully approaching you, this entire situation is my doing and every insult against you was on my orders, if anypony deserves your ire it is me. Please let us, let me make it up to you.”

Celestia had so much sincerity in her voice when she spoke I was compelled to listen, but I, with my decades of experience listening to talented actors spout lies of all kinds, lies capable of swaying whole nations, was not impressed.

“Yeah, sure, I forgive you. Now will you go away?” I spat.

You could see the disappointment in Celestia’s eyes from a mile away.

“How dare you!” The venom filled whisper came from the navy blue pony next to Celestia, the one with the night sky in her hair. Luna, I think her name was.

“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO MY SISTER LIKE THAT AFTER WHAT YOU DID!” She was suddenly in my face and screaming. My eardrums felt like they would burst and I could swear I felt a breeze. Her sudden closeness and the violence of her presence forced me and the unknown woman to react. She pulled me closer to her and actually hissed. The blue translator in my pocket converting it into a horrific screeching noise that brought back memories of various horror films. I, on the other hand, lashed out with all of my strength, flailing my arms in an attempt to push her away. Needless to say I wasn't very strong at the moment and my mighty blow accomplished nothing but making a tiny ‘smeck’ noise as my gloved hands impacted the side of the night princess’ face.

The woman was far more effective.

She reached out and placed her hand on Luna’s head and with a simple shove sent the blue pony tumbling backwards to crash into the shelves on the opposite side of the room, books, movies, and photos raining down on her.

“P-please don't fight!” Stuttered a small voice from next to us, we both turned simultaneously to see the small butter-yellow and pink pegasus move in between us and an enraged Luna who was picking herself up out of the pile.

Before the navy blue princess could find her way to her feet, her older sister hit her with an almost imperceptible glare. “Luna, control yourself,” She whispered, Luna nodded and looked at her older sister apologetically. Satisfied, Celestia turned back toward the two of us and bowed her head. “I am again truly sorry, if your wish is for us to go and never return, we will take what we have to and not bother you any longer.”

“We never meant to hurt you, I am so sorry.” Fluttershy turned back to us with pleading tear filled eyes. “I’m sorry we didn't realize how alone you are.” Her lip started to tremble and even in my anger I couldn't stay upset with her. “What was her name?” She asked and it took me until she held up a photograph of Rachel and I, the morning after we moved into our new home, to realise that she had figured out what had happened.

I felt my anger dissipate, pushed aside by the almost crushing sadness every time I thought about her.

“Rachel.” I squeaked out my voice suddenly thick.

Fluttershy seemed to deflate slightly like a small bubble of hope she had had been burst. “She is gone?” She asked softly and I nodded very slowly. The other ponies in the room traded glances, the few who knew what it was like to lose someone dear to you shot us sympathetic looks. Fluttershy had wrapped her hooves around the two of us. Suddenly the hug was joined by Pinkie Pie who looked like she was on the verge of tears. Then Applejack, Rarity, Twilight, and even Rainbow Dash joined in. At that moment I saw one of the photos that lay by Luna’s feet. It was the night I had met Rachel at my cousin’s wedding, she looked radiant and I had done an alright job at not looking too goofy.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”

The words echoed through my mind and I realized that this is not the way she would want me to think, cold and callous, unwilling to forgive. It was true that they had hurt me, and chased me, but was it possible that it was all just a terrible misunderstanding?

I sighed and looked up at Celestia.

“I don't understand. I tried to kill you. Why do you want to forgive me?”

“Because it was by my actions that you were allowed to feel threatened enough to kill.” She spoke in that perpetually serene way that spread like a cooling balm over my anger.

I looked down at the floor in deep thought “You said you didn't mean to hurt me right?” I mumbled.

She widened her eyes in surprise for a moment then nodded.

“You promise you wont lock us up again? Or treat us like science experiments?” I asked, even if I was considering forgiving the bulk of what they had done I wanted at least some guarantee that they wouldn’t treat us like criminals or curiosities to be studied.

“I plan to have you live amongst my subjects in the hope that we can continue to learn from one another.” Celestia said, her royal poker face back in place.

“Ok, thats fine. BUT, just to make things perfectly clear, we-” I motioned to the woman and myself, “-are NOT your ‘subjects’. We are both ‘citizens’ of the United States of America and residents of California, just treat us like foreign visitors and everything will be fine.” I said with as much finality as I could muster.

Celestia looked like she wanted to say something but she just nodded.

I slowly got to my feet, Applejack trying to help, but she ended up staring at me as I tiredly drew myself up to my full height.

“Landsakes, yer ah tall one.” Applejack muttered.

Ignoring Applejack, I turned to look at the woman whom I had met today under more than strange circumstances. I didn't even know her name yet and I had thrown myself in front of her to protect her from Luna’s presence. “I’m sorry about earlier,” I said. She took a second to stop glaring holes in an equally angry looking Luna and finally looked back at me. Happiness appeared in her eyes that didn't quite reach her lips. “I haven't even asked for your name yet Miss.....?”

“Eleison.” She croaked. I winced at her voice, she either needed some serious cough drops or something had happened to her throat.

“Eleison, do you want to come with me?” I asked and held out my hand, hoping the odd nature of our introduction and the attack of the pony people didn't freak her out too badly. She had latched onto my hand almost before I had finished holding it out and was shooting glares at any of the pony people who came near us.

Hand in hand with the red haired woman now known as Eleison, I took a few steps toward the door when the photograph i saw earlier drew my attention. I stopped and walked over to it and picked it up, it was the one that my cousin Connor had snapped after his wedding taunting ‘I know whos going down the aisle neeeexxt!’ when he caught Rachel and I having a spirited conversation outside. I basked for a moment in the happy memory, before kissing two of my finger and pressing them to the glass. The ponies in the room stayed quiet and allowed me my moment. I carefully sat the picture back on the shelf where it belonged and turned back to the others in the room. “lets go, I don't want to stay here anymore.” I muttered, the ponies behind me carefully following suit, all of them respectfully silent.

Author’s Note: OH MY GOD!!! That took waaaaaaay too much time, and effort, and nights sitting alone in the Mcdonalds parking lot so I could write. I like what eventually came of it though, now begins John and Eleisons’ adventure in equestria, “How to fit in.”

Anyway I hope you liked it, because there is no way in hell I'm redoing it!

Co-Author’s Note: So, I added about three thousand words to that chapter all on my own. You’re welcome. I’m also never writing about the intricacies of the pony-coffee relationship ever again. Ever.

Chapter16.5: Research Ravings

View Online

Chapter 16.5

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”

Crystal Beaker

Professor of advanced magical sciences

Leader of the Everfree city expedition

January/01/003 Lluna Nova

Excerpts extracted from section titled: Notes on ‘hue man’ Language

In the March of 895 of Celestia’s reign, a series of books were written by a researcher by the name of Deep Thinker. These books were a collection of his research data covering the culture and language of Equestria’s native tribes of Diamond Dogs.

The alien language that my colleagues and I have been attempting to crack has many similarities to Diamond Dog script and actually appears to become more and more similar as we compare older and older sections of Diamond Dog writing. This means that, according to Quick Quill’s theory of language morphologie, the alien language is a potential precursor to the Diamond Dog written language.

The Everfree city could very well be an example of a lost civilization of equis, forgotten long before the rule of the Princesses, maybe even before the reign of Discord.

The language of the denizens of the Everfree city is unnaturally precise in virtually every example the expedition possesses. We hold mountains of written material that is far too clean to have been produced by even our most advanced printing presses. What rare written notes we do have show a large departure from the precise nature of the more common printed examples. Out of the notes we have discovered almost every style of writing is unique to the point where deciphering the letters has become quite the challenge.

Excerpt extracted from section titled: Everfree City

The strangest thing out of all the evidence we have gathered is that, up until mere months ago, the Everfree City was a living, breathing settlement. I need not explain what this could mean to the scientific and arcane communities but, if what these findings are pointing towards is true, then the Everfree City could be as close of a look at ancient Equis as Ponykind will ever see.

Excerpt extracted from section titled: Notes on ‘hue man’ Behavior

We've been studying the two last individuals that supposedly were members of the race that constructed all of this. I don't know if I believe that, surely a race as animalistic as the hue mans, as they call themselves, couldn't last long enough to achieve this kind of engineering mastery, one of them nearly mauled a nurse that was trying to help them today for goodness sakes. Still if it is true, if Celestia managed to recover a breeding pair of the species which created the Everfree city, the possibilities are not to be taken lightly.


Green Leaf

Professor of Botany

Member of the Everfree City Expedition

December/29/002 Lluna Nova

Excerpts extracted from field journal


We set out for the City today, it’s strange such a thing is even happening.

I can see the lights through the trees. Why did it light up today of all days? Do the residents know we are coming?


We made it to the entrance, it is almost totally dark. I'm glad the Royal Guard are with us, coming to this place would be crazy without them. The streets are lit up just like Manehattan or Canterlot. This whole place feels strange, not just the normal kind of strange either, its like I am walking through a painting of wax fruit and plants, everything seems almost unreal.


We were attacked last night by something. Or I guess lots of somethings. The first was some kind of giant monster that injured Celestia, I don't know how badly. There were lights all over it so bright you couldn't look right at it and it soaked up offensive magic like a sponge. Luna was able to finally kill it but the worst came after that.

The second attack almost felt like a retaliation by the city itself. Monsters emerged from the shadows like nothing I've ever seen before. Its like they were pulled from the earth itself, old bones made animate and sent to strike down those that threatened the city’s guardian. Strangely, a few moments after they appeared they vanished into seemingly nothing.

We've taken refuge in some massive grey structure. It’s as close to a fortress we could ask for and it seems safe enough.


I decided to try and get some work done today. Luna has gone to investigate the monsters from last night. I took some guards with me, there was no way I was going out into those streets all on my own.


I have found something unsettling about the Everfree City. The trees, when I examined them, were alive. This doesn't sound strange until I also mention that they happen to also be totally disconnected from the ley lines of Equis. They exist completely independently, like they are some kind of self contained world, but that’s not the creepiest thing. The reason I have found this place so unsettling is that all of the plants, every living thing, doesn't have a shred of magic in it.


No wonder this place doesn't feel real.


Stone Slate

Contractor under hire for the Everfree City expedition.

Expert in the fields of Construction and Architecture.

Excerpts extracted from field journal


Managed to get out on the streets today. Have to admit, the attack the other night has put all of us on edge. Those monsters, whatever they were, have totally vanished. Nopony has seen hide nor hair of them since.

I finally mustered up the guts to do my job and am I glad I did. You would not believe the engineering that has gone into these buildings. I don't know for sure but I'm guessing that they could stand up to Equestria’s most powerful storms without any damage at all. The structures are built with internal bracing that reinforce walls made of materials that are far stronger than anything I have seen before.

The weakest building material I’ve found so far has been the stuff they make some of their interior walls out of. It’s all white and powdery if you manage to break it (which I needed tools to do effectively) and almost all of the stuff you find is painted over. Thing is, it looks like they put this stuff on to hide the actual wood part of their walls, which are made of some unthinkably hard material. I can’t even imagine where they got it.

If these are the typical residential areas I’d probably drool over their military stuff.


Wow. Just wow. I examined the large tower across the street today. Its the second tallest structure in the whole city but its by far the strangest and most amazing. The entire thing swings on a set of stilt like structures, it is totally disconnected from the ground and allowed to shift back and forth. Did the ponies/creatures who once inhabited it need such an innovation? What in their environment necessitated a building that could sway like a sapling in the breeze? I look forward to discovering more of their building techniques, the quirks we’ve found in their architecture have been nothing if not fascinating.


Imagine my surprise when I strolled back into camp after work today to find two members of the City’s native inhabitants waiting for me. They are tall, hairless, and beady eyed. Judging from the photographs I collected scouring several buildings, they are young adults but that’s just a guess from an untrained eye. Sadly I couldn't get very close to them, apparently one of them is suffering from several injuries while the other is incredibly dehydrated. I hope they’re going to be alright.


Silver Ink

Professor of Nonpony Culture

Member of the Everfree City Expedition

January 1, 003 Lluna Nova

Excerpt from personal notes, first draft of official report

I stumbled upon something quite interesting today, a dwelling absolutely brimming with examples of hue man art. Well, more than any of the others, anyway. This particular building contained a bedroom filled with sculptures, paintings, posters, and almost anything else one could think of.

The subject material was surprisingly varied. Several pieces included species common to Equestria and its neighbors, such as gryphons and dragons, while others strayed wildly into what I can only bear to think of as a hue man’s definition of fiction.

The most common pieces of art were small sculptures, approximately the size of an average pony’s hoof. I was unable to identify the material used to construct the majority of them, although I did find several carved or molded from a material similar to pewter. Many of these sculptures were painted in vibrant colors, ranging from greens to purples to reds and every other color you’ve ever seen on a knight from any of the old legends.

Subject matter was almost as varied as the color palette. I did not take time to be absolutely sure, but I would estimate that at least two thirds of the sculptures depicted hue mans in some form of combat dress or another. Perhaps a quarter of these bore regalia similar to that of the Solar Guard, weighted down with plate and chain mail with flowing capes, although they did disembark from the stereotype of the typical Equestrian soldier in that they their equipment was universally bulky. Their armor would almost double the girth of the hue man Chris were they to scale, and each of them holds a weapon so large that I am sure the floors of Canterlot Castle would not support their weight should they be fully rendered in iron or steel.

Perhaps half of the hue man sculptures depicted the species in fashions I truly hope to be fictitious. They mimicked their knightly counterparts in sheer volume of armor, but I believe this garb to be of an entirely different nature in its construction. After studying the impeccable detail of each sculpture, I believe that these pieces depict hue mans in forms of armor that are self supporting, or possibly even augmentative of the wearer’s natural strength. I have not come to this conclusion lightly, for I realize how absolutely ridiculous it must sound, but I will attempt to defend my assertion here.

Of those pieces that featured an opened or absent helmet (there were few, perhaps seven or eight in the entire collection), it was apparent on each that there was a gap between the wearer’s chest and breastplate large enough that it would be impossible for the shoulders to properly balance the weight of the suit. The center of gravity would be shifted so far forward that not even a Diamond Dog (who appear to be much more advanced than hue mans in terms of musculature) would be able to remain upright.

Additionally, exactly four individual pieces showed severe anatomical anomalies in their rendition of their subject’s armor, namely in the arms. Each of these depicted an individual in which the wrist began where the hand of a normal hue man would be located. Initially believing these to be errors on the part of the artist, I examined the detailing closer and found each set of hands to be entirely mechanical. I believe that these extended forearms would be used to stabilize the over-sized weapon held by each of these individuals. The possibility that this race developed equipment so powerful that they must augment themselves in such a way is troubling.

Finally, I must bring attention to those pieces that demonstrated the use of prosthetics, which would make up the remainder of the hopefully-fictitious pieces. Every single artificial limb on these figures should be patently impossible. Entire lower bodies are constructed out of what appears to be iron or steel and clearly display pneumatic or hydraulic functionality. Many figurines display arms that are constructed in a similar fashion; these would, without fail, cause their wearer to topple over from the sheer weight of the extremity if they were left unsupported.

Due to the mandatory brevity imposed by Crystal Beaker, the full scope of my findings cannot be communicated in a single field report. I will content myself to say that I am very happy that we have not yet found a trace of technology of this nature anywhere within the Everfree City. I find the implications of defensive systems of this scale and complexity almost terrifying, especially when combined with the possible offensive capabilities I may have found evidence of, which I will detail in my next report.

It is my truest hope that my fears come to naught and that I am in fact observing the products of an overzealous collector of thematic artwork. I plan on questioning the hue man, Chris, about my findings later if Crystal Beaker deems my concerns pressing enough to warrant disturbing his recovery.


Dr. Bandaid M.D.

Medical consultant

Member of the Everfree City Expedition

January 1, 003 Lluna Nova

Examination and treatment of species, self identified as ‘hue man.’ Full field report.

I didn't quite know what to think when our Princesses and the Elements of Harmony dragged in these two beat up monkeys for me to look at. One of them was apparently the cause of her majesty's own wounds, although I sincerely doubt it.

The hardest part about treating the both of them is that I have no magic with which to do it. No magic, period, by mandate of Celestia herself. Long story short, magic kills them. Or at least causes them extreme discomfort (I'm not sure which, Twilight Sparkle was vague on the details). I began with a quick examination, the male went first due to his obvious wounds. I thought they wouldn't be too serious since he came in under his own power but some of the lacerations were quite deep; it’s a wonder he managed to walk at all, not to mention the plethora of contusions, abrasions and even some light internal bleeding. I’m surprised he was conscious.

Commander Spitfire also handed me a completed blood test from the male and asked me to take a look. What I found was surprising. At the time of the test the male creature showed a very large concentration of caffeine in his system. How much caffeine? Over four times the legal limit and close to the lethal amount for anypony under 70 kilofeathers. Which is pretty much everypony. I asked him how he was feeling and inquired as to some of the symptoms associated with caffeine poisoning, but he responded that he was fine and that he was “feeling better.” That should not have been his answer.

I turned my attention to the female at the male’s insistence, he asked me to pay special attention to her throat. I was uncomfortable leaving him at this point but did eventually relent. Good thing I did. When I finally examined the female it didn't take me long to discover she was suffering from advanced dehydration (despite her looking fine from the outside). We quickly set up an IV drip for a basic hydration solution. It was a little bit of a risk due to our tenuous grasp on their blood chemistry at this point, but it was that or let her shrivel up like a dry sponge. She didn't like needles much and displayed this fact very clearly when she gave my nurse a black eye and some scratches across the face of a hapless guard who happened to be just a bit too close.

The male calmed her down and we finally got the drip in. It took constant surveillance and finally a scolding from the male to keep her from pulling the needle out. She relaxed after a few hours and became much more pleasant after that. Her irritability was likely a side effect of the dehydration.

With their immediate medical needs seen to, it was time to sate a bit of our own curiosity. The basic examination was simple and allowed us to confirm that their blood chemistry was almost identical to a pony’s as well as having a similar bone structure (relatively speaking). The most shocking thing we discovered is that the hue mans, as they called themselves, do not have any connection to the magical ley lines of Equis, nor do they posses any means to internally produce magic. This is almost unheard of in Equisian biology. Magic, as you all know, is responsible for a great deal of life processes, most notably sapient behavior.

I asked the male (the female was asleep by this point and didn't seem like much of a talker anyways) if he could shed any light on this and he responded by saying that, and I quote, “there is no magic where hue mans are from. We are intelligent because our body is able to refine nutrients in a way that we can support a more advanced brain. It’s why we almost have to eat meat.” This statement coupled with a short conversation later with Miss Sparkle revealed that the hue man named Chris (the male) had complained about not being given enough food while he was imprisoned at the garrison headquarters in ponyville.

Sure enough, after another quick examination I found several signs of the beginnings of malnourishment (as evidenced by an apparent loss of muscle mass). I asked Commander Spitfire about the rations he was given during his imprisonment and she responded by saying he was fed two small bowls of unseasoned oatmeal a day and that he had repeatedly refused to eat the standard ration of hay. She had assumed that the amount was sufficient due to “his repeated waste of food by throwing it at Soarin,” who I'm assuming was his guard. When I told her about the creature’s health and that he had been in the beginning stages of malnutrition, she was surprised and seemed somewhat upset.

This new information has allowed us to make some general guesses (or theories, for those stuck up society ponies) about the hue mans’ general biology. What information we do have points to an absolute absence of magic in their development, even in the beginning stages of their species’ maturity (because there’s no point in getting rid of magic once you have it). Their average core body temperature is approximately thirteen degrees Mareinheit warmer than that of a pony, which would indicate that their physical body is taking a larger part in maintaining itself, whereas the body of a typical Equestrian mammal is partially surviving off of its connection to the ley lines of Equis, which makes for a lower core temperature. This may also explain the hue mans’ required intake of meat. In order to support a body using more energy, they have to intake a larger amount of energy through a more efficient system, which would come in the form of meat, since a purely vegetarian diet would require a lot of time spent just... eating to maintain the required calorie intake. This is about all we can guess at until we have more information. I’m hoping to bug Chris for more information when he’s in not such terrible shape.

Research grant here I come.

Author’s Note: Exposition... exposition everywhere! Also chapter 17 is underway! Fun times!

Co-Author’s Note: So... I actually enjoyed writing a research paper for once. See if you can guess which one it is! -Admari

Chapter17: Jumping the Gun

View Online

Chapter 17

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


“You’re sure you’re alright?” Spitfire asked the poor nurse that had gotten on Eleison’s bad side earlier that evening. The nurse had been the first one to try and get the hue man mare situated with an I-V, the doctor they had brought along had claimed she desperately needed one, and had gotten a nasty black eye for her trouble.

“Oh I'm fine, I'm sure I just startled the poor dear,” The nurse replied, fidgeting with the magically cooled cloth she had pressed over the left side of her face.

“Well... if you’re sure,” Spitfire mumbled. She left the nurse to her business and trotted over to where Soarin and Fleet Foot were sitting and watching the two humans, now safely tucked away into a pair of cots that had been tied together. “So…” Spitfire ventured as she sat down beside her two subordinates/partners.

“So what?” Soarin groused. Fleet Foot rolled her eyes at the grumpy stallion and gave Spitfire a small smile.

“So what do you think about our two new guests?” Spitfire continued.

“I think they should be in the dungeon, not free to roam about as they please.” Soarin spat. His anger had been obvious from across the room.

“Awwww, come on Soarey. What’s tha matter? Still upset he managed to get you all gussied up and didn’t even leave a note?” Spitfire put on a sickly sweet voice with a grin to match.

“No!” Soarin shouted indignantly, only to be met with several angry ‘shh’s’ from various medical staff and one hawk like glare from Chris. “He almost killed Princess Celestia. And he snuck up on me!” Soarin continued in a stage whisper.

“Mmm-hmm, I'm sure that’s the issue here,” Spitfire deadpanned. “Besides, didn’t you hear that the Princess admitted fault for that?”

“Of course she did. She’d admit the gryphon clan wars were her fault if it made somepony feel better.” Soarin grit his teeth in frustration as he returned the hue man’’s glare. Fleetfoot gave him a look and shook her head as she went back to watching Eleison snore and chew on Chris’ shirt in her sleep.

“Look, we’ve know each other a long time Soarin.” Spitfire placed a hoof on the upset stallions shoulder. “This whole mess is going to make us all look bad when it gets out, so I need you to trust me and not make it any worse. For them-” She nodded to Chris and Eleison, “-or us.” She finished giving him an extra pat on the back as he finally released some of his frustration in a long sigh.

“Fine, just don’t cry about it when it comes back to bite us in the flank,” Soarin grumbled as he turned and walked out the doors that led to the artificially lit streets outside.


I let out a sigh of relief when the Jerk left the building and settled back into the cot. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but being out among their camp instead of being locked in a cell again more than made up for it.

I was distracted by a sudden pulling on my sleeve. I looked down at the red head now mumbling in her sleep and chewing on the sleeve of the green T-shirt I changed into after the conflict between myself and the ponies had come to a hopefully permanent close. This girl, Eleison, it was tragically obvious that she had been mentally damaged in some way. I had never known anyone her age to act so immature about everything and, unless she was like this before ‘the event’ happened, I was responsible for her current state. Hopefully she would get better; otherwise I would be stuck with someone with the mind of a girl half her age. I would have to take care of her in either case, it was the least I could do after what happ-... after what I did to her.

I sighed and shuffled a little, our two cots had been tied together after Eleison threw a fit when they had tried to put her in a separate one. I didn’t mind the company, but she could get really clingy. I couldn’t really fault her for it, I guess. Being all alone was rough. Being all alone in a place like my current home was rougher.

I had taken up watching the pony people move through their routines, for several reasons. Namely I still didn’t completely trust them. Don’t get me wrong, I really hoped the conflict was over, since living your life is kind of difficult when everyone hates you, but just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

I sighed again, glancing over the assorted candy colored ponies. The princesses, Celestia and Luna, were chatting over to one side of the cement room, ‘covertly’ watching me back (relatively speaking. You know, giant honking eyes), the soldiers who had been responsible for my initial capture, whom I learned were named Spitfire and Fleet Foot, were at their normal post, the odd group of girls who had seen to my imprisonment, Twilight, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Pink….. “Huh, where did Pinkie Pie-?”


I gasped and clutched at my chest to calm my breathing, ever mindful of the sleeping girl next to me. “Damn it Pinkie! Don’t scare me like that.” I whispered harshly at the pink mare who was looking me in the eyes, upside down and somehow standing on my shoulders without me feeling it. “And be quiet. Can’t you see that people are trying to sleep?”

“Sorry” She whispered, loudly. “Are you comfy? Need any pillows?”

I shook my head “I’m fine Pinkie, thanks.”

“Blankets?” She asked planting herself down on my legs.

“No thanks, I said I’m fine. Theres no need-”

“Food? Water?”

“No. I said-”


I just sat here and stared at the pink mare listing off increasingly impractical objects at a faster and faster pace. The thought crossed my mind to strangle her but you know what, I wanted to see how long she could go...


I had a feeling this would take a while but unfortunately the insane pink mare was interrupted by the voice I had come to associate with pain.

“Pinkie Pie, would you please allow us to have a word with our guest? Privately?” The two royal princesses approached the shimmering blue field Twilight Sparkle had erected around our bed. The blue forcefield was attached to the four corners of the bed by some carved gemstones. It sort of reminded me a lot of those oxygen tents hospitals used in the early 20th century.

“Sure thing! I’ll be over there if you need me for anything.” Pinkie promptly leapt off my legs and onto the floor. I really couldn't help but be a little impressed, if I had tried jumping around as much as her I would have broken my neck a long time ago.

“Thanks, see you later Pinkie.”

“You sure you don't need-”

“Surely he would have told you already if he needed anything Pinkamina,” Luna interjected, obvious impatience seeping into her voice. Celestia on the other hand was just smiling at the scene like there was some kind of private joke that only she understood.

“No Pinkie, I'm fine.” My hand found my forehead on its own and I dragged it slowly down my face. Pinkie Pie was nice and sometimes entertaining, she even visited me in jail, but wow she couldn't take a hint.

The pink mare grinned and walked off to where I could see Applejack yelling at an annoyed looking Rainbow Dash.

“Now, that is better is it not?” Luna tore my attention away from the distant argument and took a seat to my left, near the edge of the cot, while Celestia sat at Eleison’s side. Or rather she would have if Eleison wasn’t absurdly clingy.

“Sooo what's this about?” I asked, shifting my eyes from one ruler to the other, not willing to allow either to leave my vision for more than a few moments.

Celestia cleared her throat before speaking.“There are several things we need to talk about, First and foremost your residency. We would like to induct you two as an honorary resident of equestria.” I started to open my mouth to protest but she cut me off before I even had chance to get going. “This would make you subject to our laws but Luna and I have decided that we should have no authority over you. Is this acceptable?” She paused expecting me to answer. After a moment thinking of the potential consequences of such an arrangement I finally nodded my assent.

“Now as to the matter of your housing. There have never been many vacant homes within ponyville as it is a town with a very stable population, so we would have to-”

“No thanks.” I said flatly. “We’ll live there but I don't like the idea of owing your little kingdom a favor.”

“Surely you do not think that we would hold something like this over you?” Luna said in disbelief. “I know we have gotten off on the wrong hoof but there is little reason to be so pugnacious.”

Celestia waved off her sister with an elegant sweep of the wing. “Now Chris, I understand that you have many reasons to mistrust us but we have many things to talk about. Some of these subjects may not be easy for you. We wish for you to trust us with your wellbeing so that we in turn may trust you around our little ponies. We are extending a favor to you, not to blackmail you but in hopes that you will extend the same courtesy to us.”

“You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, I understand the concept. But as for the housing situation, I've got that covered so you don't have to worry about it.” I dismissed the issue with a nod.

“Is the desire to be so self-sufficient common in your species?” Luna asked. I thought it was sarcasm at first but there was a note of honest curiosity so I answered with another nod.

“Well, that is an interesting trait but on to the next issue, food.” Celestia spoke up keeping us from going off on a tangent.

“What about it? I already told the doctor about what we eat.” I said, slightly annoyed at the repetitive question.

“So it is true that humans require meat?” Luna asked, more of that curiosity starting to peek through. I have to say that I much prefer curious Luna over crazy-about-to-kill-me Luna anyday.

“Yep, we’re omnivores so we eat both meat and veggies.” I said sinking back into my cott’s pillow.

Celestia elaborated. “Yes, the doctor told us as much but we are curious as to why. There are many species that eat meat on equestria but few actually require it and all who do are wild animals.”

I couldn't help but smirk at Luna, her curiosity had finally broken through that stupid poker face.

“We can eat nothing but plants for a while, there actually are some people who are vegetarians and choose not to eat any meat, but they require very carefully managed diets with a lot of certain plants like beans to get the same nutrients. Meat is really the most convenient and efficient way of getting everything we need. Oh and, just in case you're wondering, there is no way I'm going to go vegetarian while I'm here.”

“Why not?” Luna asked, the hostility had completely vanished.

“Because the last time my cousin’s wife tried to get me to go vegetarian I almost had a mental breakdown. Besides, I like meat.”

Celestia smirked and for a moment I thought I saw a purple unicorn where Luna was sitting, levitating out a scroll and some writing materials from seemingly nowhere.

“That should be fine as long as you like fish.” Celestia smiled in her usual fashion, like she had come up with a hilarious joke but didn’t feel like sharing. “Well, now that all of that is out of the way, there are a few questions we need to ask you that are a little more serious.”

I sat up and looked at the two of them. “How serious?” I asked.

“We would like you to wake up Eleison, this question is as much for her as it is for you.” Celestia’s infuriating smile was gone from her face and the situation really did feel like it was of dire importance.

I looked down at the sleeping girl and shook her shoulder, she mumbled in her sleep and kept on snoozing. It took me a few more tries before she finally sat up.

Eleison stretched out her arms and groaned at the quiet cracks of her spine. “Why did you wake me up? I was having so much fun.” She said sleepily as she rubbed her eyes.

I arced one of my eyebrows. “You were asleep...”

“I know, it was wonderful.” She said, flat look still plastered on her face, not matching the happy tone of her voice at all.

Celestia, Luna, and I all looked at each other bemused smiles on all of our faces.

“Ahem, Well on with the question we needed to ask you.” Celestia cleared her throat, yet again pulling the conversation back on track. “Those monsters that attacked us, do either of you know anything about them?”

“What monsters?” I looked at her, confused.

“A band of horrible creatures waylaid the convoy right after I defeated you.” Luna said looking at the two of us expectantly.

“I-I’m sorry I don't really remember any monsters.” I wracked my memory but the event was just a blur of actions and pain, nothing really distinct.

“Do you know anything about monsters that attacked them?” I looked at Eleison who shook her head and mumbled something about ‘stupid art.’

“Are you certain that you know nothing at all about them? They were unlike anything we’ve ever encountered before.” Celestia looked at Eleison and I but we couldn't do anything but shake our heads.

“Sorry princess, I’ve had my fill of monsters and demons since I got here. I probably couldn't tell the difference anyway.”

Both of the princesses frowned and shared a glance before Luna spoke up again. “The final thing we must ask of you is that you surrender any weapons like the one you attempted to use on me.” I looked at her in surprise.

“Not a chance.”

“Please, you must understand, they are a threat to our kingdom and our world, if anypony were to get their hooves on one-” Celestia began.

“They wouldn't be able to use one for shit!” I shouted. “Don’t try to feed me any of that, ‘they're a threat’ B.S.! No one even knows what they are except for you and the people who were in my house! No one knows where I have them hidden and-” My shouting was interrupted by the feeling of something sharp pressing into my neck. While I had been so vehemently defending my second amendment rights several guards from around the room had descended upon our little argument and hasn't taken my shouting at their princesses very well.

“So this is how its going to be huh? Fein cooperation till the humans get uppity?” I hissed at the two of them.

“Get that away from him!” Eleison screamed and batted the sharp end of the spear away from my neck. “If he doesn't want to give you his things he doesn't have to!” I breathed a small sigh of relief as the sharp blade was removed, thankfully without taking a big chunk of my neck with it.

“No, not at all, this is just a misunderstanding. Guards stand down, stand down!” Luna was almost frantically waving the guards away while Celestia still looked a bit startled.

“Away with you! Away! Do not intrude on our conversation again!” Luna finally finished waving the trigger happy guards off. After Celestia snapped herself out of her surprise she smiled gratefully at her sister.

“Why is it you wish to keep these weapons to yourself?” Celestia asked, serious once more.

I rubbed my throat where the blade from the overzealous guard had nearly cut me and put a hand on Eleison’s to keep her from jumping out of the bed and beating the living daylights out of someone. I looked Celestia in the eye. “Because you’re way behind my technology curve and I don’t want to be responsible for a major shift in political power. The weapon I tried to use on Luna is centuries beyond anything I’ve seen you use. Plus, I don’t want to see people walking around with missing hooves -or worse- because someone was screwing around with a weapon they didn’t understand and it blew up on them.” Celestia and Luna blanched.

Celestia dipped her head in thought before glancing at Luna. The two rulers had an entire conversation in just a few glances before Celestia finally spoke again. “As long as we can trust their safe keeping to you they will remain in your possession. But perhaps you should consider securing them in a location where it is more difficult to discover them. It would be a tragedy if somepony discovered one and hurt themselves by accident. Understand that we are putting a lot of trust in you, I hope that this is not a mistake.” Celestia said standing and leaving the conversation just like that.

Luna, Eleison and I traded looks before the blue alicorn quickly took her leave to join her sister.

Eleison looked at them then back to me. “So... Can I go back to sleep now?”


Twilight hoofed a rolled up scroll to one of the Solar Guards. The letter would arrive at the library first thing in the morning, Spike would then take the letter and inform Granny Smith, Big Mac, Sweetie Belle’s and Scootaloo's Parents, and Cheerilee that the Cutiemark Crusaders were safe and sound under the protection of the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony after having followed the expedition into the Everfree Forest.

After the stallion took the letter and left, Twilight returned to her sleeping bag in the far corner of the expedition’s base camp. The other Bearers had set up their sleeping arrangements here as well, Rarity and Fluttershy had already gone to bed and Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked like they were about to follow suite, Pinkie Pie wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Twilight stretched out and snuggled into her sleeping bag, levitating a book from the nearby stack as she readied herself for a quick, soothing bout of pre-bedtime studying.

“Rainbow Dash!”

A jarring shout from Applejack startled Twilight. Her momentary panic sent a large jolt of energy into the levitation spell acting on the book, promptly launching it into the center of the basecamp. Twilight was sure that she heard the book strike one of the guardsponies in the head.

Applejack continued her reprobation, oblivious to any flying literature. “Now I know ya ain't gonna go and say anythin’ unkind about those poor folks after what they been through are ya?” She was glaring daggers at Rainbow Dash, who looked less than intimidated.

Rainbow Dash snorted “Look, all I'm saying is that they give me the creeps, what’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal!? Rainbow Dash, do you even know what yer sayin’!?” Applejack stomped her hoof sending the pile of books next to Twilight tumbling over, almost burying the purple unicorn.

“All I'm trying to say is that the stallion is a jerk and the mare gives me a major case of the creeps, and don't you try and deny that she creeps you out too! I've seen you trying to avoid her." Rainbow Dash floated up to Applejack and gave her a jab in the chest.

"W-well yeah, ah-ah mean-"

"Girls!" Twilight shouted finally having had enough of the pointless argument. "It's going to be hard enough moving Chris and Eleison into Ponyville, we don't need any more ponies causing problems." She stepped between the two quarreling friends, shooting Rainbow Dash a look. "Besides, we're friends. Something like a couple of odd neighbors shouldn't come between us.” Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked at her in silence. “Riiight?" She said, grabbing the two of them into an awkward group hug.

Applejack pulled the hat from her head and glanced around sheepishly "Ah suppose you're right Twi. Ah shouldn't let this get ta me. Sorry sugar cube."

Rainbow Dash groaned "Fine I'll keep my mouth shut, but I still think it’s a bad idea."

"Group hugs!" Pinkie Pie popped out of nowhere and grabbed all three of them.

The three mares giggled before squeezing out of Pinkie's grasp and heading back to their own sleeping bags. Their heads shot up when they heard shouting across the empty cement room. Rainbow Dash tensed for a fight only to be held back by AJ. The scene was over as quickly as it started. Celestia, followed quickly by Luna, headed out of the building’s exit. "See? I told you it was going to be hard enough without anypony causing extra problems," Twilight groaned, flopping down onto her sleeping bag.


“Sister, are you certain such a thing is wise?” Luna asked, quickly catching up to Celestia. The older, alabaster alicorn stopped and sat in the street in front of the cement fortress/prison and looked around at the sad, empty buildings that had once been filled with life, with mothers and fathers, with children and pets. She slowly wilted under their unliving, unwavering gaze.

“Sister?” Luna asked again, concerned for her older sisters sudden melancholy.

“I’m afraid I’ve been more of a fool than I thought,” Celestia said.

Luna placed a wing on her sister’s back. Celestia leaned into her sister, thankful for the comfort. “If this is about those weapons you should just tell the human how it shall be, not feel obligated to take such risks.”

“No, its not about that, though the consequences do weigh on my mind.”

“Then what is this about?” Luna asked, sitting next to her sister.

“Come with me,” Celestia said, quickly standing and walking toward one of the smaller buildings down the street.

Luna followed quickly, grimacing as they passed the crater in the road where Chris’ attack on the convoy had been stopped. Celestia quickly trotted up a set of steps and used her magic to open the door. She quickly led luna into the middle of what appeared to be a dwelling of some kind and sat down again.

“Can you see?” Celestia asked, looking back at her sister.

“I am afraid we do not know what you are talking about sister,” Luna replied, taking a moment to look around at the various curiosities on display.

“Something is happening Luna. It began the moment this place appeared to us. Something I do not think we can control.”

Luna paused in her curiosity to take in her sister’s words. “You are referring to how this knowledge gathered by the hue mans may change Equestria, yes?” Celestia nodded. “Why would we seek to control what our little ponies can learn from this place? Equestria has sat stagnant since the invention of the steam engine two hundred years ago, what the hue mans bring will be like oil for dying embers.”

“Exactly, what happens if we lose control of the flames?” Celestia gestured around the room. “All of what these people were may become a part of Equestria, may become part of our little ponies.”

Luna nodded in understanding before walking over to a corner of the room and picked up something in her magic before levitating it to her sisters feet. Celestia looked down at the little rag doll in the vague shape of a human, with a mane made of yarn and a dress that had been cut from an ornate quilt. “While I have not forgiven Chris for what he nearly did to you, I have learned a lot since yesterday, sister, and I look at all we have yet to learn with joy and anticipation. I understand the dangers as much as you, but I believe in our little ponies, as should you. The hue mans could teach us much about ourselves we have yet to understand, and I must ask, is that such a bad thing?”

Celestia smiled at her sister then picked up the little doll with her magic. “Thank you sister.”


A grey mare slipped quietly past the royal sisters, who were chatting among themselves outside in the street. She was laden with bits and bobs that she claimed would allow her to expand upon her knowledge of the Everfree city. She trotted down the streets, waving off any sentries who approached her to offer her an escort through the still unknown streets. “I’ll be fine, just got to pick up a few samples then I'm coming right back.” She would say with a warm smile and then continue on her way. Her uncharacteristic pleasantness was not lost on the soldiers who had marched beside her at the beginning of the expedition.

Beaker walked on down the maze like streets, searching for a place where she would not be observed. The tools in her bag jingled with the rhythm of her canter. She needed to know which hue man machines contained platinum and which didn't. Nopony would beat her to the punch, she would make the important discoveries first and the fame and recognition would be hers.

She turned down one of the many maze like alleyways and found herself face to face with a bright blue mare with an orange mane, the moonlight was glinting off of the metal frame of the mare’s glasses.

“Professor Beaker,” Burner greeted the grey mare stiffly.

“Ms. Burner? What are you doing here? It's dangerous for students to be out alone this late.” Crystal Beaker arched an eyebrow at her student.

“I was hoping I may discuss a few things with you before you got too deep into your studies, Professor,” Bunsen answered. The sentence came out as if it had been poorly rehearsed.

“Such as...” Beaker rolled a hoof in the air, motioning for Burner to get on with it.

“Why did you not tell your students about the platinum? Or any of the Academy staff?” Burner shot at the professor.

Beaker froze. “Where did you hear about that?” She hadn’t whispered a single word about the precious metal since leaving Canterlot and had made sure that she handled all material analyses personally. How could one of her students possibly caught wind of the material’s presence? Bunsen Burner, for her part, simply shrugged.

“Guards kind of talk. A lot.”

The two sat there for a moment as Crystal Beaker digested the situation. When she spoke up again her tone was significantly stiffer. “So, what exactly do you want?”

Burner didn’t even skip a beat. “As the sole member of the Equestrian Enchanter’s Guild on this expedition, the responsibilities of representative and negotiator fall squarely upon my shoulders. I am here to negotiate the distribution of platinum among the four main families of the Guild as well as their subsidiary firms. I am authorized to open negotiations with a ninety-eight percent, two percent split in favor of the Guild. If the amount of platinum in the Everfree City is as abundant as we have been lead to believe, then this distribution will still allow you to collect a generous fortune for yourself, should you choose to sell the material, while allowing the Guild to produce quantities of high value goods not previously feasible.” Burner finally took a breath. She bounced once on her hooves as she finished, impressed with her own performance.

Crystal Beaker countered before Bunsen Burner had even caught her breath. “What if you got to keep all of the platinum?” Burner almost fainted.

“I- I’m sorry?”

“I’m not concerned with the material wealth to be gained in this venture. I’m looking for the potential discoveries and advances that could be made here... as well as the notoriety those would allow one to accrue. If there was some way in which I could be credited for most, if not all, of the important discoveries we make here, then I would gladly hand over all the platinum in the world for the opportunity,” Beaker elaborated in an almost leisurely tone.

Bunsen Burner stood there with her mouth open for a few seconds. “I- uhm... I don’t actually have a response prepared for that. I’ll have to contact my superiors in Canterlot before I can make a decision. Meet me here again on Thursday at this same time and I’ll be ready with a reply.”

Crystal Beaker nodded. “Very well. I’ll continue with my late night research run then. You ought to run along before one of the guards notices you’re gone and gets worried.”

“That’s actually a very good idea,” Burner answered as she dashed past Crystal Beaker and out of the alleyway.

Author’s Note: How Bout that Scene with Celestia and Luna? I thought it was A’daww’able. As for Luna’s sudden change of heart, she really hasn't totally forgiven john for trying to kill her sister but she understands the benefits Equestria stands to gain as long as they're willing to take the risk.

Co-Author’s Note: I don’t blame Eleison for chewing on John’s shirt. I used to do that to my own shirt collars all the time... although I had enough sense of personal space not to do it to other people. Finely woven cotton has a funny taste. Oh, and I take full credibility for the scene with Bunsen Burner and Crystal Beaker. Because. -Admari

Chapter18: Enter the Winnebago

View Online

Chapter 18


(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


Today had been a wonderful day for Lily. She had just checked up on her flowerbed, which had been growing so well. Of course it should have been, raising flowers was her special talent, after all. The roses had been in full bloom, the chrysanthemums were the brightest shade of gold, and her lilies had the perfect amount of pink speckles on their petals. Phooey on ponies who said flowers couldn't bloom during the Winter, what did they know about proper gardening?

Lily was on her way to Fluttershy’s cottage at the moment. Being the best gardener in Ponyville, sometimes ponies asked her to tend to their own gardens while they were away. Fluttershy, who had left town almost a week ago, had been anxious about leaving her plants and animals to fend for themselves. Lily had offered to take care of Fluttershy’s garden and her animals were being taken care of by Spike.

Lily had actually quite enjoyed taking care of the plants on Fluttershy’s property, the pegasus had wonderful taste. All of the flowers around her little cottage had the sweetest smells and the blossoms were the softest shades of pink, yellow, and blue. To Lily it was almost like tending to a garden of clouds. Clouds covered in freezing snow, but still clouds!

How would she start off in Fluttershy’s garden today? The sunflowers had been looking a little under the weather yesterday, maybe she should give them an extra look over today and make sure there weren’t any pests hanging onto them. That happened sometimes with Fluttershy’s cottage being so close to the Everfree Forest. The dandelions Fluttershy insisted on keeping around might also need some extra attention today. With how weedy they were, Lily didn’t always give them the attention they were due. Oh, and she would...

What was that noise?

Lily came to a halt, spinning her ears this way and that to try and find the source of the noise. It almost sounded like it was coming from the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage, but Lily couldn’t even imagine what the source of the sound was. It was sort of like a really loud, really angry fluttering noise, like a million butterflies had suddenly become murderously furious. There was also a whistling somewhere behind the flutter. Lily quirked her head. What in Equestria was it? Was it getting closer?

And then the section of forest directly in front of her exploded. A square, metal behemoth came roaring out of the underbrush, trailing vines and roots and one very large tree branch. Lily could only stand there, petrified in terror.

It was another one of those monsters that had come out of the forest almost a month ago, only this one was a whole lot bigger. And louder. And it hadn’t slipped and killed itself on a mudbank like the last one.

The beast was going to get her. Lily was too scared to even move, and even if she hadn’t been, she knew that the beast would have just chased her down. She wouldn’t have been able to outrun it.

To Lily’s complete surprise, the beast did not, in fact, devour her whole. Instead, it simply rolled to a stop in the field beyond Fluttershy’s cottage. Had it always been that far away? The roar had stopped too. Now the beast was... humming? Why was it humming?! And it was getting bigger!

It really was going to eat her! It was going to get big and mean and then it was going to chase her down and gobble her up like a ravenous manticore, she just knew it.

And then it stopped again.

What was it doing now? It was just standing there in the field, not moving or anything. Was it... was it plotting? Was it going to wait until night came before it came to get anypony? Before Lily was able to finish pondering the current situation, another new development sent her into another panic. Something was coming out of the monster.

It was a... a thing. With arms and long hair. And it was looking at her. Oh no! It had seen her, it was going to come and get her, she knew it! It was raising its arm! It was going to cast some sort of black magic and get her! It was...

Lily fainted.


I stepped slowly down the steps and out into the snow, Eleison had taken off the moment the big Winnebago had stopped its ten mile an hour crawl through the dense forest. The moment I finally saw where she had gone I couldn’t help but roll my eyes in amusement, Eleison was carrying some idiot pony person back to the RV like they were an oversized teddy bear. Her arms were hooked under the pony’s front legs. Judging by the snow clinging to the thing’s face and mane, it looked like it had passed out in the snow somewhere. ‘Who honestly takes naps in a snow covered field?’

Several gold clad guard ponies, accompanied by the Wonderbolts, (I couldn't help but roll my eyes a bit every time I heard that name), dropped into the snow from where they had been following my slow drive through the forest from the air, followed shortly by the two ‘pony princesses.’ “...I have a feeling its going to take a while to get used to that,” I mumbled, watching Eleison trudge through the snow with a massive grin on her face.

“Used to what?” Luna asked from behind me.

“Nothing. Just talking to myself.” was my clipped response. I could practically feel her glaring at my back. Feeling the need to excuse myself from Luna’s experiment with heat vision, I took a few steps toward Eleison and cupped my hands around my mouth. “Eleison, put that down. You don't know where that’s been!” I shouted. The distance wasn't really that far but it gave me an excuse not to pay attention to the ponies filing out of what had once been Jerry’s Winnebago.

I could hear Luna scoff at my apparent lack of manners but I couldn't bring myself to care at the moment.

“It fell over in the snow! Can I keep it!?” Eleison shouted back earning an amused look from Celestia and an exasperated sigh from Luna. Most of the nine other ponies hadn't been paying attention and shot the red headed girl some strange looks. The two exceptions were Pinkie Pie, who giggled, and Rainbow Dash, who looked ready to do something idiotic, which I had decided was her primary character trait.

“I don't believe our subject would much appreciate becoming your pet, dear. Now, could you please bring her here? She looks like she could use some assistance,” Celestia said, fighting to keep her amused smirk from growing into a face splitting grin. Eleison carried the limp pony over to the group and handed her off to the gold plated guards before quickly stepping over and wrapping her arms around my neck. I blushed a little at the contact but ignored it. She was just cold. Probably.

“Hey, isn't that Lily?” Sweetie Belle spoke up from her place on her sister’s back.

“It sure is. Wonder what she was doin’ all the way out here.” Applejack replied.

“Um, I think it was my fault,” Fluttershy piped up in that tiny voice she had when she was nervous about something. “I asked her to try and keep my garden alive through this winter so the animals who came back early would have plenty to eat. Oh, it must have been too much for her, I hope she’s ok.” She hung her head in abject guilt.

“Oh fiddlesticks Fluttershy, t’aint no way she worked herself into the ground just cause you asked her to help with yer garden.” Applejack waved a hoof to dispel the sudden rain cloud that seemed to hover over her friend. “Everypony knows Lily faints at the drop of a hat, somethin’ probably just startled her.”

“Yes. I wonder what that could have been.” Luna practiced her heat vision on the RV. She had been so excited to get to ride in the thing when we had set out that morning, but she’d chosen to reverse her opinion once we’d left the smooth roads of the town and entered the not-so-smooth forest floor. I think it had something to do with bumping her horn into the ceiling every three minutes. Or so.

“Hey, I was going as slow as I could, not the machines fault your ponies are afraid of a big box on wheels.” I snarked still trying to ignore the uncomfortable amount of red headed attention. “I also told you your slippers wouldn’t have traction on the linoleum, but we all know how well you listened.” ‘Gee, with all the practice Luna’s getting today, she’ll probably be able to give Superman a run for his money.’

Rarity shot the two humans a coy smile. “Well, seeing as the situation is well at hoof, perhaps you two would like to drop by the boutique? To browse some ‘formal’ attire. I’m sure I have some lace that Soarin hasn’t ruined somewhere.” Twilight face-hoofed at the obvious insinuation while Luna struggled to keep her icy scowl from melting as she fought the urge to smile at the joke.

“I'm afraid that there are much more pressing matters at the moment, Rarity. Perhaps there will be time to browse for wedding attire later.” Celestia said, allowing her expression to settle into an amused grin.

I cleared my throat to try and steer the conversation back towards some semblance of sanity, although my beet-red face did a pretty terrible job of hiding my embarrassment. “Well, since I'm in no mood for matchmaking, you guys have fun. I'll just stay here,” I said and quickly stomped up the stairs and back into the warm interior of the RV, followed shortly by a certain red head who didn’t know the definition of personal space.


“Ah think ya’ll hurt his feelin’s.” Applebloom said, wincing slightly as the door slammed shut behind the two aliens.

“That was kinda mean,” Scootaloo agreed.

“Oh, I was only teasing. The poor dear needs to lighten up a little,” Rarity scoffed.

Luna frowned and glanced at her sister, whose face softened to a slightly sad expression. “We do need him to settle some legal matters before we progress, sister,” Luna ventured.

Celestia sighed. “I suppose you're right, the sooner we get the formalities out of the way the better it will be for everyone.”

“Hold on, I’ll get him,” Twilight groaned and followed the two humans into their new home. The ‘house on wheels’ Chris had called it. Twilight had already taken as many notes as she could manage with the rough trip through the Everfree and she had to restrain herself from taking more. The ‘pop outs’ were an amazing feature of the house. They changed the vehicle from a cramped living space into quite the roomy little house. When Chris had mentioned that the interior ‘got bigger’ she had been skeptical. Twilight had suspected the vehicle had somehow folded up like Trixie’s cart. To her surprise, the thing had instead simply expanded. It had felt like being trapped inside a giant animal’s lung as they took a deep breath.

Twilight finally managed to pick her way to the top of the uncomfortably steep stairs and looked around. Chris wasn't to be found in the driver’s seat so she looked back into the area where the Princesses and her friends had ridden.

She found the humans sitting on the couch. Chris had given the girl, Eleison, a book to occupy her time and, to Twilight’s surprise, she appeared to be reading voraciously. Chris sat next to her, calmly turning the pages of his own book. The strange symbol that was the pendent on his neck was also emblazoned on the cover of the book. She desperately wanted to know what was in that book, but when she had asked earlier he had been evasive and the project to translate human writing wasn't far enough along to provide a translation. Chris turned the page and looked surprised for a moment, then thumbed through the last few pages quickly before setting it aside and pulling out another volume from a box and continued reading.

“Umm, hello? The Princesses wanted to let you know that they needed you to sign some papers,” Twilight spoke up, stepping out onto the beige carpet. Chris sighed and shut his book, leaning back and grabbing his nose in a gesture Twilight didn't quite recognise.

“Of course they do,” Chris said in a voice that even though the translator sounded exasperated. “Come on Elly, don't want you burning the house down.”

“Elly?” Eleison mumbled sounding confused.

“What? Too soon for a nickname?” Chris asked as he stood and began putting on yet another coat.

“No... it’s okay, I like it,” Eleison said.

“Ok, if you're sure, I don't want you to feel uncomfortable,” Chris said zipping up a garment that almost doubled the size of his upper body. Twilight couldn't help but giggle a little bit, he looked kind of like an overweight minotaur with that on.

“Elly, find a coat. I think theres one in one of these bags.” Chris motioned to several black sacks made out of a strange material he had quickly filled with clothes just before they had departed. “There’s no telling how long whatever they want us to do will take.... And what are you laughing about Ms. Fuzzbutt?”

Twilight went from laughing at the overstuffed looking human to scowling at the nickname. “Fuzzbutt?” She said without humor.

“What? Too soon for a nickname?” Chris asked in a mocking tone as Eleison struggled to put on a similar coat.

“Yes,” Twilight said curtly before stepping back out the door, the humans quickly following. Chris almost stepped on her, he was busy trying to help Eleison fix the zipper she somehow managed to tangle in her shirt.

As the pair stepped back out into the snow the gathered ponies ceased their various conversations to look at them.

“Oh-oooh, I think someone ate too many cupcakes,” Pinkie Pie commented as the two humans walked up to the group.

“It’s a jacket, Pinkie,” Chris retorted, beginning to sound a little irritated.

“Its a little, um... garish,” Rarity said looking at the two overstuffed garments. Chris’ was a bright neon green while Eleison was wearing one covered with bright purple and yellow stripes. The horrible contrast of colors was enough to turn Rarity just the slightest shade of green.

Chris looked down at his jacket and scowled a little at them. “They’re made so that if we pass out in the snow, like that pony Eleison found, someone can find us before we freeze to death. I don't guess very many of you have to worry about things like that since hanging out in a room full of you guys is like swimming through a bowl of confetti.”

“OH! Confetti diving! I haven't done that in forever! Hey Chris, Eleison, you want to come with? Its a ton of fuun~!” Pinkie intoned in a singsong voice as she hopped up and down in excitement.

“Uh, no thanks Pinkie, I would rather just do whatever they-” Chris pointed at the two alicorns watching the situation with humor written on their faces, “-need me to do, so I can go back to my trailer and pretend none of this ever happened for as long as possible.”

“Denial isn't healthy,” Fluttershy said. Oddly, she seemed to be able to talk to the two foreign creatures far easier than most ponies she happened to meet. Twilight chalked it up to her natural affinity for communicating with anything not-a-pony-or-dragon.

Chris just grunted in annoyance, but softened his expression at the pegasus. Twilight had a sneaking suspicion that she might be the only one he could get along with, at least until they could acclimate him to the Equestrian style of life. Eleison, on the other hoof, was having no such trouble. In fact, she was getting along very well. So well that she was already swinging Pinkie around by her hoofs like she and the party mare had been friends forever.

“Not that I mind standing out in the freezing snow-” Chris said with obvious sarcasm, “-but I’d like to get this over with as soon as possible.”

“Our apologies, we didn't mean to keep you waiting,” Celestia said, ever the peacemaker. “Captain?” She said, the inflection of her voice snapping back to formal, prompting Spitfire to trot over and snap to attention in front of her.

“Yes your Highness, what are your orders?” Spitfire executed her role with military precision.

“Please take your team and these guardsponies and alert the standing garrison in Ponyville that our guests will be making an appearance and they are no threat. Afterword, report back to your headquarters and update Canterlot of our status.”

“Yes your Highness, right away.” Spitfire saluted and then motioned for the other guardsponies to follow before taking off and flying toward Ponyville. The Wonderbolts and the rest of the pegasi guards quickly followed suit.

“Shall we walk?” Celestia motioned with her wing towards the town.

“Just as long as you don't try and make us ride in one of those death traps you call a chariot again,” Chris said starting off walking towards the town at a sedate pace.


As the odd group crossed into Ponyville proper and began their trek toward city hall it was obvious that Spitfire had done her job well. Many of the townsponies were out on the streets to get a glimpse of the creature they had heard so many rumors about. Their reaction was far less paranoid than had been reported when Zecora first made her appearance and Celestia had a prideful glint in her eye, happy that her subjects had learned an important lesson.

The humans were making an effort to stay alert when faced with so many unfamiliar faces. Chris was obviously nervous and he made a conscious effort to keep his eyes on as much of the crowd as he possibly could. Eleison’s state worried the Princess, she was huddling behind Chris like he was a shield that could protect her from the eyes of the crowd.

Celestia found herself worrying about the humans more and more. Was it really fair for her to expect them to adapt to life in Ponyville so quickly? While Celestia had made sure to cover what few wounds were still visible on her side with her wing, what if her little ponies ever found out Chris had attempted to kill her? Would they care that he had only been trying to defend his home?

Celestia’s thoughts were interrupted as a brown pegasus mare balancing a notepad in front of her own face on the tip of a wing stepped into their path. The mare was scribbling furiously as the group stopped to keep from running her over. Chris and Eleison shuffled, uncomfortable with the encounter.

“Princess Celestia, my name is Shutter Speed, reporter for the Canterlot Times,” the pegasus said around the pencil in her teeth, “Would you like to make any statements on the now confirmed rumors of the new creatures from the Everfree City?” The Princesses looked at each other with surprise, they had expected the media to become involved in this debacle eventually, but neither of them had expected any questions this early into the process. They shared a mental groan before looking back at the brown mare who had taken to skirting around the edge of the group, trying to get a better look at Eleison who kept hiding behind Chris.

“I’m afraid you will have to wait for the press conference tomorrow. The matter at hand must be seen to as quickly as possible,” Luna rattled off like she had practiced the words a million times.

“So you don’t have any comment?” Shutter Speed asked, looking a little dejected.

“Not at the moment, I’m afraid. Farewell,” Celestia replied before leading the group around and away from the media mare.

As the group went out of earshot the mare cracked a smile. “Thank you princess, you just gave me a gold mine,” She said to no one in particular before shooting into the sky and back toward Canterlot.


Eleison looked around at the multitude of ponies staring at her and her John, their eyes terrified her. Try as she might to find shelter behind John, there were always more ponies looking at her, analyzing her. She just wanted them to stop staring.

Her memories stolen from the other self screamed in the back of her new skull, screamed for her to beware the ponies that surrounded her. The memories said they would betray her, ridicule her, tear her down and take everything important away from her. Eleison knew that the other self was lying. She had spent enough time with the ponies in person to know that what the other self had seen was not true, ponies were nice and caring. Well, except for the blue one with rainbow hair, she wasn’t nice.

Still, the stares from the mob were starting to get to her, breaking down the walls of calm and rationality she had built within herself. Every few moments an old memory from the other self would pop into her mind, memories of neglect and anger, feelings of resentment toward pony kind as a whole played through her head like a vengence-craving slideshow.

The memories of the other self were growing louder, more vivid, more convincing. If John hadn’t been there she might have taken the images at face value and reacted like the other self would have. She would have struck out at them in anger and fear, but she didn’t need to feel either of those things. Not when John was here. He was familiarity. He was safety.

She was close to John. There wasn’t anything else to need or want in all of Creation... was there?

What did she want? Why would she want anything other than her John?

Of course she wanted to do other things. Sleeping, hanging out with Pinkie, eating food, and getting to feel new things were all things Eleison wanted to do.

...Or were they things her masterpiece wanted? They were all urges that came from her masterpiece and truly only benefitted it and not herself as a whole. The bounds of the flesh that composed her masterpiece had their own constraints and needs just as her true body did. She sometimes forgot the border between them existed.

As the group entered city hall Eleison stole a glance at her John. He was watching the ponies, protecting the both of them from their scrutiny. She felt the blood of her masterpiece rise to its face and recognized the simple feeling of wanting to be closer to him. It was a feeling that came from her masterpiece and not her whole, but Eleison ignored that and allowed her mind to swim in the sensation for just a while. The feelings from her masterpiece were nice.


I walked quickly down the corridor the ponies were shepherding me down. Well, as quickly as a could. The stress from being the victim of a staring mob mixed in with the intense cold made my knees so stiff that I was practically goose stepping through the building. I swore at myself for not wearing something thicker than my work jeans in the in the middle of January.

We were climbing up a flight of very wide, very shallow, very thinly stepped stairs when I noticed that Eleison was staring at me. Part of me wondered how she’d managed to keep her footing on these stupid pony stairs without constantly watching her feet, another part of me wondered why she had insisted on clinging to me this whole time, and yet a third part of my head realized that she was blushing at me. That third part almost made me slip.

I’d realized a while ago that she didn’t like being by herself with the ponies, but I figured that was because she was scared of them or of being by herself or something. I hadn’t thought it was something like... well, something like that.

I couldn't believe she was looking like that. I wasn't an idiot, those were the same kind of looks Rachel used to give me when we were dating. I guess I should have been flattered, but the attention only made me feel worse. I mean, I was the reason Eleison had to survive on her own for months. There was even this nagging thought in the back of my head that her... instability might have been my fault. If I’d managed to actually find her earlier I thought that maybe she would still be normal.

I sent up a silent prayer for guidance and mercy for the poor girl. It helped ease my stress, if only a little bit. My hand found its way up to my forehead and I started trying to massage away the rest of my feelings of guilt and sadness as the princesses poked their heads into the mayor’s office to let her know we were here to see her. Of course, being accompanied by royalty, we were shown into the room immediately.


Pinkie lagged behind the rest of the group as they walked towards Mayor Mare’s office, eyes fixed intently on the tips of her hooves. She couldn’t stop thinking about her two newest, soon-to-be-but-not-quite-yet friends and how Chris always seemed to be all down in the dumps. While Eleison seemed to be fine, even happy (well, when she wasn't getting all jumpy about the crowds), Chris was just kind of... bleh. He looked at everypony like they he expected them to blow out his birthday candles if he turned around for even a second. Pinkie hadn’t even seen him smile once since they’d found him in his house. Or... had she ever seen him smile?

“Oh!” Pinkie’s head popped upward. She remembered the promise she’d made to herself earlier, her promise to make Chris happy to make up for the whole prison accident.

She would have to make the party for him and Eleison after all the paperwork stuff was done. An extra, extra, extra partytastic party, just for the two of them, with her extra-special quadruple-chocolate and strawberry cake! Then he’d smile for sure!

“Pinkie, are you coming?” Twilight poked her head out of the mayor’s office and gave Pinkie a look. Pinkie Pie, in her quest to devise a plan to relieve Chris is his moodiness, had stopped in the middle of the hallway, right in front of the Mayor’s office.

“Oh yeah, coming!” Pinkie said before shooting into the room and slamming the door behind her.


Inside of the small office the rather large group stood around the desk of Mayor Mare with the Princesses at the fore.

“Hello Celestia dear, it’s been too long since you last visited visited. Oh! And if it isn't princess Luna, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” Mayor Mare said with a large smile on her face.

“We are glad to meet you once again as well, Mayor Mare, although we wish that, just once, you and I could meet during a time of calm. Heavens know that Nightmare Night and my escape were anything but,” Luna responded as she offered the mayor a polite nod.

“I apologize for my absence Mayor. With current events being what they are, there just hasn't been time,” Celestia answered. “Unfortunately I’m afraid that my sister and I have not come here on a casual visit. We have found ourselves in... a bit of a bind. I was hoping you would be able to help us keep the current situation under control.” Celestia gestured with one of her wings at the two humans standing quietly in the corner of the cramped office.

Mayor Mare lowered her glasses to get a better look at the two odd creatures. The red maned one was looking all around in interest at the various knick knacks that covered her walls, while the brown maned one was just standing there looking morose. After a moment of studying the odd pair she pushed her glasses back up and looked at Celestia oddly. “If you don't mind me asking dear, what exactly are they?”

“They have told us they are called humans,” Luna answered, looking over her shoulder at Chris and Eleison.

“And are they all so similar?” Mayor Mare asked as she passed a critical eye over the two humans. She had never seen two intelligent creatures with such similar color schemes and body frames

“They are the only two we have encountered so far.” Celestia allowed some hint of sadness to show through her expression. “Truthfully, they are quite easy to tell apart, it is just that their clothes are very thick to protect them from the cold and it hides most of their obvious differences.”

“Hm.” Mayor Mare allowed herself another moment of examining the two humans before moving on. She was ultimately prompted forward by a particularly venomous glare from the human with the brown mane. “Well of course I’m willing to help out an old friend, but you're always the pony to give me political advice not the other way around. What could you possibly need my help for?” Mayor Mare looked around the room at the elements of harmony, before narrowing her eyes. “Wait a moment, this isn't another one of their little mishaps is it?” She pointed a hoof at the six girls behind the Princesses. “I’ve lost count of how many times we've been left holding the bag after one of their little escapades.”

“Hey, you got something to say, say it to my face!” Rainbow Dash zoomed over the heads of the ponies in the room to give Mayor Mare the stink eye.

“How about ‘you've caused millions of bits worth of property damage!’ The parasprite incident alone took up almost the entire annual budget!” The tan mare pointed an accusing hoof at Rainbow Dash.

“Mayor, please! This is nothing like that.” Twilight spoke up as Applejack yanked Rainbow Dash back by her tail. “These two are part of the civilization that created the Everfree City. We would just like some resident registration forms for them so we can help along their integration into their new home.” Twilight put on her best smile, trying to drive the point home with some extra positivity. Too bad for Twilight, she looked more like the filly who got caught stealing from a candy jar than a confident salespony.

Mayor Mare looked to the Princesses and was awarded with a regal nod from each. She sat back in her chair. “The Everfree City?” She stared at the clutter of paperwork on her desk, mulling the proposal over. “Certainly, that won't be a problem,” She said after moment. The mayor opened a drawer and quickly pulled out two forms. “I doubt you would have come here for just these, what else can I help you with?”

“We would also like your help in setting up a press conference tomorrow to introduce your new citizens to the rest of the town, the fewer rumors about them the better,” Celestia said.

“Wait a minute, we didn't agree to anything like that!” The browned maned ‘human’ stepped forward wearing what Mayor Mare assumed was an expression of anger on its face.

“Please calm down Chris, this is only to help stem any negative rumors about your arrival. Our little ponies are quite talkative and Ponyville in particular has a vicious rumor mill,” Celestia said, trying to placate the irate human.

“Ugh, fine... but what are you going to tell them? I doubt they would take kindly to me running you over with a piece of construction equipment,” The human now identified as Chris said, crossing his arms over his barrel.

Mayor Mare turned back and narrowed her eyes at the princess. “What exactly is he talking about, Princess?” The Elements, minus Rainbow Dash, put on embarassed expressions and the Princesses both had adopted impassive masks.

“We had an... altercation. Chris was under the impression that we came with an intent to harm to him and took steps to defend himself. I have since assumed responsibility for the incident and we have chosen to put the event behind us,” Celestia explained.

“Hmph. Altercation is right.” Chris snorted before leaning against the wall. At a closer look, the Mayor could still see bandages sticking out from under the concealing garments he wore.

“Are you alright?” Mayor mare asked Celestia, concern obvious in her eyes.

“It would take a lot more than what he managed to throw against us to do any kind of lasting harm.” Celestia smiled to dispel any worry that might have been plaguing her old friend.

“Well, so long as you don't believe they will be any danger, I don't have any objection to them staying in Ponyville.” Mayor Mare pushed the two forms on her desk towards the two humans, followed shortly by her quill and inkwell. “If you two would please just sign your names, I’m sure I can take care of the rest.”

The humans stepped forward. Chris took the pen first, looked at it like she had just randomly handed him a muffin, and then set it back down. Mayor was about to ask if there was anything wrong when he reached into one of the numerous pockets on his attire and pulled out a stubby stick that was blue and silver. He pushed a button on the back and quickly took the object to the paper and signed his name. Nopony could read anything he wrote, but one doesn’t need to be able to read a signature anyway.

After Chris was done the as of yet unnamed human stepped over, picked up the form and looked at it like she was reading. She took the odd writing utensil from the other human, Chris, when it was offered to her and quickly began filling out several of the blank spaces. Eleison paused when she reached the space labeled ‘Special Talent.’ It took several minutes before she quickly scribbled something in the incomprehensible human script and pushed the form back across the desk.

The Princesses and the Elements looked at one another with confused expressions or eyes narrowed in suspicion. Mayor Mare smiled at the girl, not understanding what all the odd looks were about.

“I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced?” Mayor questioned as she pulled the two forms back across the desk.

“My name is Eleison,” The red maned human said with a brilliant smile.

“Well it’s a pleasure to meet you Eleison, and you too Chris. Welcome to Ponyville.” The mayor quickly tucked the papers back into her drawer. “I will have the press conference prepared by tomorrow, Princess.”

The Princesses and the Elements whispered loudly to one another. Rainbow Dash was shushed by Applejack. Dash, for her part, huffed, crossed her hooves and pouted. The Mayor could only shoot them a quizzical look.

“Thank you Mayor, and don't look so worried or you'll start to get wrinkles,” Celestia joked as the rest of the group turned to leave the office.

Mayor Mare didn’t miss the abrupt change in Celestia’s tone. “Oh you, I’m not that old yet, unlike you Celly. Fossilized old bat,” The mayor returned half heartedly.

“At least I don't have to die my mane to look more dignified,” Celestia quipped in a whisper as the last of the group filed out of the office.

“Thats confidential, Celly!” The mayor shouted as the door shut behind the retreating form of Celestia.

“Ugh, what a day,” Mayor Mare groaned before sneaking a sip from a special bottle of Apple Family cider she kept in her bottom drawer. “And tomorrow doesn't promise to be any less exciting.” She took another quick sip before shoving the bottle back down into the drawer and stamped her seal of approval on the two resident registration forms.


I took a nice, deep breath as we finally worked our way out the the town hall. As spacious as pony buildings are, being crammed into an office with nine of the things can turn a room stuffy real fast. Too bad I didn’t really have a whole lot of personal space outside either. The crowd was still shuffling around awkwardly in the middle of the road and they had all started staring at me as soon as I’d walked out the door. Everywhere I looked there was a bunch of these giant cartoon eyes just looking at me. I hated those stupid, giant pony eyes.

And as luck would have it I was getting those same kind of looks from my escort too. Something about Eleison being able to read the paper had spooked them something fierce. Rainbow Dash had practically jumped down my throat for an explanation before Applejack managed to calm her down. And of course no one except Pink and Fluttershy believed me when I said I didn’t know. Distrustful little bastards. I’d only known her for a week or something and they expected me to know everything about her. For all I knew she was a genius! Or maybe she’d learned from some crazy pony hermit in the woods! Or maybe-

It didn’t matter. Not important.

I rubbed my knees to try and work some feeling back into them. I’d walked right through a snowbank on the side of the road and gotten my jeans covered in slush. I lifted my head and saw that the girls were giving me odd looks, I think I zoned out and missed a turn in the road. Eleison was still clinging to me, looking around like nothing had happened. Poor Fluttershy looked close to tears for some reason, I might have said something out loud that I hadn’t meant to. I just shook it off and started back down the road again, I hadn’t even noticed that we had left the crowd behind.

A kid starting yelling as we got closer to the library. "There you are Twilight! I was looking everywhere for you. Roseluck came by the library to say thanks for making sure Lily got home, but you weren't there and... I..." I looked down and saw a child sized lizard looking up at Eleison and I with wonder shining in its eyes. It looked at us, then to the group of ponies, and then back to us like it couldn't decide what to do before finally just opting to keep staring at Eleison and I. The little lizard seemed to fumble with words for a moment before finally settling on "Woah, you’re tall."

Author’s note: Well here we go yet another chapter of our hero’s adventure in pony land. Fiesta Equestria was totally awesome btw and I hope to see some of you there next year.

Co-Author’s note: Okay, so the general conversation went like this...


“Keep it?”

“Keep it.”



“Keep it?”

“Keep it.”

“Ya- Wait, seriously?”


Chapter19: John's Good Day (in which he is almost set on fire)

View Online

Chapter 19

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


"Woah, you’re tall." The little purple lizard thing looked up at us like Eleison and I were the most interesting things in the world. The attention made me feel just a little uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the horde of technicolor horses still staring at us, but still enough to make me want to hurry on our way.

“Twilight! Hey, is this the alien!?” The little thing was almost bouncing with excitement.

Twilight stepped forward, wearing an expression half way between humor and annoyance. “He sure is Spike, just try not to stare so much, I don’t think they enjoy the attention.”

‘Spike’ tried to avert his stare but it was a totally lost cause, I would have probably thought the whole situation was adorable if I even knew what the little lizard thing even was.

“Hey Twilight, who’s the lizard?” I took a step backwards at the odd display. I doubted the rather large reptile would try to take a bite out of one of us, considering it was intelligent, but I felt a little distance was a wise precaution.

“I’M NOT A LIZARD, I'M A DRAGON! D-R-A-G-O-N! How many of you ponies are going to call me that!?” The little thing shouted, causing us to back up a few more steps.

“It’s alright Spike, Chris didn't know, did you chris?” Twilight calmly stated, sounding very much like a school teacher explaining something to a young child.

“Sooo, are we talking just big lizards or actual fire breathing, village burning, mythological monsters?” I said. Anyone paying attention could have noticed the sudden nervousness in my voice and I'm not afraid to admit the thought of dragons being a real thing in this place wouldn't so much surprise me as it would scare me senseless.

“Well, most fully grown dragons are several stories tall and the uncivilized members of their society can be quite vicious, but I would avoid calling any of them a ‘big lizard;’ they find it quite unsavory,” Celestia answered to a chorus of nods from the ponies and a smug look from Spike.

“Let’s just go before we get devoured by the kraken or something!” I growled in frustration as I tried not to think about all of the other monsters and demons that could now be as real as I was.

“But we’re nowhere near the ocean!” Twilight spoke up again.

I froze and slowly turned my head to her, a horrified look pasted over my features. “You’re joking. Please tell me you're joking.”

Luna seemed to find the whole situation quite funny; her snickers accompanied us all the way back to Twilight’s tree/library/house thing. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be indoors; being the center of attention for an entire town was... unsettling after living all alone for a few months.


AJ stepped through Twilight’s door like she had many times before but the sight that greeted her when she actually got into the room was decidedly not like those many other times, what with the couple from another world and all.

Chris and Eleison had taken a seat together after stomping off the snow stuck to their clothes and were now both being bombarded by questions from Spike. The little dragon could be as enthusiastic as Twilight when it came to studying when the subject interested him, and boy was he interested in the pair of humans. He even grabbed Chris’ hand to compare it to his own. Oddly enough the cranky human stallion allowed it. Well, he allowed everything right up until Spike tried to see if he was flame resistant.

AJ took a seat on the rug next to the couch where the humans sat and chuckled to herself at Spike’s apologies as Chris glared at the poor little drake while he beat out the smoldering embers on the sleeve of his coat. The rest of Applejacks’ friends and the two Princesses found places to sit around the room. All things considered, the library was pretty cozy with all the people who’d been crammed into it.

“Now that we are settled in I feel like now would be a good time for some questions, if our human guests will permit?” Celestia asked from her place on a large pillow next to Luna who had opted for a simple spot on the rug.

“I don't mind I guess, just keep it short,” Chris responded, looking down with a slight scowl at the dragon who had crawled onto his lap. Twilight was already grinning in that... odd way she does when she is really curious about something, she even had her quill and paper hovering close by in case she needed to take notes. Everypony in the room was pretty eager to ask the two aliens questions. Well, everyone except Rainbow Dash who, despite the obvious interest she was showing, insisted on acting standoffish.

“OH, OH, ME FIRST!” Pinkie bounced up and down, waving her hoof in the air like she was an excitable foal in the back of a grade school classroom.

“Ugh, sure, what's your question Pinkie?” Chris groaned sending a short fit of giggles around the room.

“Do you like cupcakes?” She asked, suddenly very still and extremely attentive. It was like Pinkie thought that the fate of the world hinged on the next words out of Chris’ mouth.

“Um... Yeah, cupcakes are pretty good, I guess,” Chris responded with a raised eyebrow.

“What's your favorite kind?” Pinkie asked with a wide grin.

“Carrot...” Chris answered, scooting as far away from Pinkie as the couch (and Eleison) would allow.

“Okie Dokie Loki!” And with that Pinkie sat back down in her spot like nothing ever happened.

“So who’s the next lucky pony?” Chris asked, while he and Eleison absentmindedly poked the spines on the top of Spike’s head.

“Does the relatively small size of your eyes have any negative affects on your ability to see?” Twilight asked, quill at the ready.

Chris glared at her in annoyance for a moment. “My eyes aren't small, yours are just huge. Next question.” Chris said, causing Twilight to frown and make a few scratches on her parchment.

“Um, you said you needed to eat meat, what kinds?” Fluttershy spoke up from her pillow. Rarity and Twilight, being the city-slickers they were, were unable to keep their faces from turning just a little green.

“Anything that can't ask us not to,” Chris said in a noticeably softer tone.

“Really?” Fluttershy shuffled her hooves at the noticeably green looks on a few of her friends faces.

“Somewhere, some time, no matter what it is, a human has probably tried to eat it,” Chris said trying to be a little less biting than he had been with the others. “But I don’t think you guys have to worry.”

“You aren't going to try and-” Rainbow Dash started, but she was interrupted by a very sudden outburst from Chris.

“I know what you're asking and don't you dare start that,” Chris said, hatred plain on his face. “I do not have the patience to try and put down rumors that we eat people, so just keep that to yourself.”

“Calm down sugarcube, RD’s just really bullheaded sometimes and kinda has a habit of bein’ protective, you get used to it.” Applejack interjected, trying to calm the furious human. She gave him a reassuring pat on the knee. It worked just well enough that the human wasn’t quite shooting fire from his eyes and thunder from his belly anymore, although it did sort of look like he still wanted to.

“Fine, lets just hurry this up, we still need to walk home.” Chris said with a huff, leaning back into his seat. “Do you have something to ask the freaky aliens, AJ? You at least seem to be somewhat rational.”

“Hmm, well let me think of somethin’.” Applejack said, adopting a thinking pose. “Hmm, how bout ‘would you like to come to breakfast at Sweet Apple Acres tomorrow mornin’?’ I’d love to introduce the new neighbors to Granny Smith and the family.” Applejack said, prompting a surprised look that slowly bled into the first smile from the cantankerous alien any of their current company had ever seen.

“Sure, sounds great,” Chris answered. “How bout it Elly? Wanna hit up AJ for breakfast?” He asked his silent companion. She answered with a simple nod.

“OH, COME ON! All it took was inviting him to breakfast!? So not fair Applejack!” Pinkie shouted, confusing everyone, before settling into a pout.

Applejack shook her head in wide eyed confusion. “Ah have no clue what yer talkin about Pinkie.”

“I don't think many ever do, darling.” Rarity commented from... that fainting couch she always pulls out of nowhere.

Chris chuckled a bit. “I don't suppose you have a question Marilyn Monroe?”

“Moi?” Rarity gestured to herself looking around in confusion at the name. “Well I suppose I would ask what kind of material those coats of yours are made of.” She trotted over to Eleison and made a show of rubbing her hoof down the sleeve of Eleison’s Coat. “I am ever so curious, even if the color and pattern choices are... not in style at the moment, the material is quite fascinating.”

“It’s, umm, nylon, I think. I’m not really sure.” Chris answered with a shrug.

“And what is nylon?” Rarity asked.

“It’s, umm... I know its a synthetic replacement for silk, I have no clue how they make the stuff.” Chris said with another shrug.

“Synthetic?” Celestia asked, not familiar with the word.

“That means it can’t be found in nature. Someone actually had to discover and then make the material.” Chris leaned back into the sofa as Celestia took a moment to digest what he had said.

“So humans can craft unnatural materials?” Luna asked, just as curious as her sister.

“Well it wouldn't just be humans. Anyone who spent enough time learning about the world around them could do things like that. All it takes is a little persistence and some happy accidents and you find things like nylon, penicillin, or plastics.” Chris said finally relaxing back to his normal only-sort-of-annoyed state.

“Fascinating, so all of the things you have shown us are only products of the study of your own world?” Luna asked, looking over her shoulder to make sure Twilight was taking proper notes.

“Pretty much,” Chris responded nonchalantly before sitting up and looking the two Princesses with an expression that was recognisable as his ‘serious face.’ “Okay, now I've got some questions you could answer for me.”

“We see no harm in answering any questions you may have, feel free to ask.” Luna answered with a casual gesture of her wing.

“A few days ago, when we first met, you mentioned something about taking some dangerous material from my town; what was it you were after?” Chris leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees in a gesture of attentiveness.

The Princesses glanced at one another before Celestia nodded. “We are securing your town's supply of platinum,” Celestia stated plainly.

Chris crooked an eyebrow in confusion. “Why the heck do you think platinum is dangerous? Its just a shiny metal with only a couple uses besides being valuable.”

“It’s a powerful reagent for magic,” Twilight interjected.

“Yes, its rarity and utility make it one of the most sought after materials in all of Equestria but also the most dangerous.” Celestia added.

“Can you give me a quick run down on exactly what you mean? I'm kind of lost here.” Chris asked his brow furrowed in thought.

“It can be used to hold an enchantment for thousands of years, or as a catalyst for some of the most destructive magic ever created. It was once used in the vast power struggles that make up the Dragon political structure and this is, as far as we know, the reason for its extreme scarcity, as much of it was used as a weapon to make dragon fire more potent. Its value has been known to cause nations to go to war over the tiniest deposit. Your town holds more platinum than all of this world’s governments combined,” Celestia finished.

After a brief moment the gravity of the situation finally caught up with Chris. “Woah... Yeah, I can see why you would need to control the stuff.”

“You have no objection to us securing it then?” Luna asked.

“Well, I don't really hold much love for you bunch, ergh I mean besides Fluttershy and AJ of course,” He quickly corrected after a look from the farmer and a tearful display from Fluttershy. Pinkie Pie let off a small, angry huff. “But I’d rather you have it than someone else come steamroll my town for the stuff. I mean, heck, I’m not going to do anything with it.” Chris finally settled back into his chair looking a little more relaxed if slightly shaken from the news. “There isn't really anything there that would be worth the risk,” Chris finished in a softer tone.

Celestia and Luna shared a nod and a smile before standing up from their places. “It is a relief to hear that, Chris. We are pleased that we may see to our kingdom’s safety without disregarding your wishes; as necessary as this step is, we would be most upset if it were to hamper the growth any friendships between you and our subjects,” Luna said with a formal flourish. Luna took a moment to check the clock on Twilight’s wall. “Sister, it is time for dusk.”

Celestia checked the clock and nodded. “You are indeed correct, Luna.” The two Princesses rose from their seats among the group. “If you would please excuse us, Luna and I must see to our royal duties. We will return in just a moment.” The royal sisters turned and walked upstairs to Twilight’s balcony, leaving a very confused Chris in their wake.

“What are they going upstairs for? What’d they mean by ‘royal duties’?” Chris wondered aloud, looking over to the clock. He had failed to notice how long they had actually been out today, the sun would be on its way down soon.

“Tha Princesses control tha sun and moon. Been doin’ it forever,” AJ answered, beating Twilight to the punch.

Chris raised another eyebrow. “Wow, and just when I was starting to respect them a little bit I find out that they lie to their own people.”

“W-what?! No! They really do control the sun and moon!” Twilight stuttered as Chris got up from his seat to follow the Princesses upstairs with a perpetually chipper Eleison in tow, leaving a room full of stunned ponies and one fuming Rainbow Dash in their wake.


Eleison and I stepped out onto the balcony, stooping low to get under the low hanging door frame. The two princesses sat side by side watching the sun slowly sink behind the distant horizon.

“So... Your friends downstairs told me you’ve been telling everyone you control the sun and the moon,” I said leaning back against the warm wood of the library. I probably looked really smug right about then, it’s not everyday you catch two monarchs perpetuating such an easily disprovable lie.

The sisters exchanged a look. Luna spoke up first. “Well... we do. Why would we keep that from our subjects?”

I was surprised by that answer. Not so much that she’d lied, but mostly that it was actually a really convincing lie; I’d taken the princesses to be pretty terrible actresses. “C’mon. My race was at the height of the space-age before I got teleported to this place. I know how the world moves around the sun. I mean, I ought to, I watched the whole Solar System shrink into a tiny point of light from the cameras on board the Voyager II.”

Celestia just kind of looked at me. “Chris, I do not know how the laws of your own world work, but I assure you that we are being honest. My sister and I are the forces that move the sun and moon through the sky.”

I just crossed my arms and smirked. “Prove it.”

And I’ll be damned, they did.

Right then and there their horns lit up, brilliant gold for Celestia and a night sky blue for Luna. The anti-magic shell Twilight had put up to protect me and Eleison rippled under the pressure of whatever spell the princesses were casting, distorting the colors and forms of the sisters.

They just stood there for a minute, looking at me and Eleison in our bubble. I figured they were bluffing and that they were trying to intimidate us into backing down, but then I saw the colors in the evening sky shift. The sun was rising. It was going backwards. I watched the sun as its bottom edge topped the lip of the horizon. The sun hovered there for another moment before dropping out of sight completely.

“Ho lee shit.”

I looked at Eleison, “You saw that, right? You saw it?!” She just looked at me like I had freaked out over the baking soda volcano at a middle school science fair.

“Yes...?” I’m really not sure what I’d really expected from her, but boredom had not been on the list. Sleepy? Maybe, but she looked like she’d spent a whole hour watching paint dry.

“How can you-” I turned to the princesses, “How did you-” I looked back into the library “How did she-”

I stopped, took a breath, and calmed down. “I’m going to go to bed. I’ll talk to you two... whenever.” I made to walk back into the library, putting a hand to my head to massage away the sudden headache. “You comin’ Elly?” I looked to find she was already arm-in-arm with me, grinning like a kid. When had she done that? Whatever. I needed some sleep and I needed it before gravity decided to stop working. I started walking.

I heard Luna make a comment before the door closed behind me, “Well, that was certainly abrupt.”


To say our exit from the building was quick would be a huge understatement. After coming down the stairs Eleison and I hurried out of the door without a word to the ponies in the room. I feel like I need to mention that I could practically feel the smugness radiating off of Rainbow Dash as we passed by her but I was a little too preoccupied to really care at the time.

We walked quickly down the frozen dirt road, getting as much distance from what I had just seen as I could. After a minute I finally slowed to a walk and the sound of someone shouting behind us finally managed to overpower the crunching of the road beneath our feet.

“Hey! Hold on just one applebucking minute!” Applejack slowed to a trot a few feet behind us and finally took a spot to our left as we continued down the road. “Are y’all alright? Ya had me worried there.” Applejacks’ face was wrinkled in concern. All I could really manage was a frustrated sigh.

Before I could think of a coherent response, the faint sound of wings flapping in the cold air caught my attention. I spotted Fluttershy coming from the library, flying as quickly as she could to catch up with us. “Oh my, are you two ok? Did something upset you? I hope you're not hurt.” Fluttershy fussed over Eleison and I like we were children, making sure we hadn't hurt ourselves.

Finally after a few moments of fussing I waved the butter-yellow pegasi off. “Yeah we’re ok, I'm just a little shaken up,” I said to the two ponies. I don’t think they believed me.

‘Whats tha’ matter sugarcube?” Applejack asked as we resumed our walk at a much easier pace.

“I don't suppose you've ever had something you know to be an absolute law of the universe shattered in front of you?” I asked.

“Ahh, can't say ah have...” Applejack looked over to Fluttershy, who shook her head.

“They made the sun go backwards,” I stated in a flat tone.

“Well ah seen that before. Celestia made the sun go backwards for a whole day a few months ago as a prank. Drove tha’ weather ponies nuts,” Applejack said, chuckling.

“That’s... not how it works where I'm from,” I said, my voice slowly sinking into a depressed drawl.

“What? Nopony plays pranks?” Applejack asked in a last ditch effort to brighten my mood.

“Nopony controls the sun,” Fluttershy interjected. I looked back at her and the expression on her face was more firm than I had ever seen it before. “This is the same thing as those people in those pictures isn't it? You aren't from here.”

“No Fluttershy, we’re not from here,” I replied.

I looked over at AJ and saw the realization wash over her face moments before we came to the gate to her property, the moon was bright enough to see for our entire walk home. While I was thankful for it, I couldn't help but wonder if it was Luna lighting the way rather than the moon.

“Well, ah guess ah’ll see you two in tha’ mornin’,” Applejack said, her voice softer than all of the other times I had heard it.

“Yeah, see you then,” I said, Eleison chipping in with a notably happier “bye!”

We resumed our walk home in silence. Just as Fluttershy opened her mouth to say something a loud rumble tore through the silence. Fluttershy and I looked around in confusion only for the noise to draw our gazes to the quiet redhead, specifically to her stomach.

“I’m hungry,” Eleison said, looking at me with pleading eyes.

“Crap! I forgot to go buy food today.” I pinched my nose in frustration. How could I have forgotten something so basic? Somewhere in the back of my mind the phrase ‘distracted by ponies’ danced around and blew raspberries at my conciousness. “I’m sorry Eleison, can you hold out till the morning?”

“Um, I can make you something if you want.” Fluttershy spoke up. “That is, if you don't mind salad. It’s all I have that I think you would like,” She said tracing little circles in the dirt with a front hoof.

I smiled at her, truly grateful for her offer. “Thanks Fluttershy, it would be a big help.”

I heard a distant, enraged scream coming from the general direction of the Ponyville library. I’m not sure how I knew, really. Call it intuition, call it instinct, call it a message from God, but I knew that the source of that sound was pink and that it was annoying. I shivered.


Eleison and I went ahead and headed back to the Winnebago, we had agreed to allow Fluttershy a few minutes to get something together. We both walked in and sat down heavily on the couch, it had been a long day and I imagine, despite the facade of never ending energy she put up, that Eleison was probably as tired as I was. I looked around to find something to fill the short wait and my eyes fell to the box of study bibles. I grabbed one at random and opened it up to an arbitrary page.

“Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”

For some strange reason my eyes were drawn to this verse. After a moment of staring I closed the book and picked up another, opening to another random page.

“Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds”

My eye twitched in frustration and I quickly snatched another book at random out of the pile, yet again opening it up to a random page.

“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.”

I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. “You know,” I said to the empty air around me, “If you do everything right, people won’t be sure if you’ve done anything at all.” I lifted my head and glared at the flourescent light embedded in the ceiling of my trailer. “I think someone upstairs screwed up.”

My attention was drawn to the door as three quick knocks broke the odd silence of the trailer. “Chris? Dinner is ready,” Fluttershy said, barely loud enough to hear from the inside.

“Yeah! Well be out in a second!” I shouted back. “Elly you ready?” I asked my redheaded companion who had become instantly engrossed in the book I had handed her earlier that day. Curious at what I had given her, I took a look at the cover and groaned as I realised I had handed her a romance novel. Eleison looked up at me and smiled. It was probably my imagination, but somehow I thought that that look had a lot more mischief in it than normal.


The three of us, Eleison, Fluttershy, and myself, were seated around Fluttershy’s almost comically small dining room table. We ate in almost total silence, the atmosphere awkward from the things said earlier that evening. I speared another few leaves of lettuce with a knife Fluttershy had provided for me, it was the closest thing she had to silverware. Across the table, Eleison was eating with gusto. I guess she was hungrier than I had thought. The silence started to eat away at me; I was itching to start some kind of conversation.

“So, um, Chris...” Fluttershy started, fishing for the start of some kind of topic to break the silence; she was as uncomfortable with as I was. I started to feel really uncomfortable about something, I wasn't entirely sure what and I wracked my brain trying to figure out why this simple dinner had become a marathon of chafing nerves.

“Chris?... Hello? Chris, are you okay?” I heard Fluttershy calling me from across the table.

“It’s John, actually,” I mumbled surprising myself as much as I surprised Fluttershy.

“Um, Chris what-?” Fluttershy started.

“My name, my real name is John... I lied earlier.” I looked over to where she was sitting to see the shocked look on her face. Oddly, when I looked over to Eleison she just smiled at me like she had known all along. I raised an eyebrow at that but Fluttershy pulled my attention back towards her when she spoke up.

“W-why did y-you lie?” Fluttershy stuttered.

“I was afraid,” I said, resting my elbows on the table and steepling my fingers. “Back where I'm from magic isn't real, it’s all just stories.” I chuckled a little to myself. “A lot of the stories say that magic users are evil, that they traffic with demons to gain their unnatural powers. Those stories also say that if a magic user knows your real name they have power over you.” I looked at her again and snorted with a bitter laugh at her shocked face. “I was afraid you colorful little ponies would turn out to be monsters or demons in disguise or something, didn’t really feel like taking any chances.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Fluttershy squeaked, a little bit of fear mixed with a healthy dose of sadness easy to hear in her voice.

I shrugged, “Because it’s not right to lie to your friends... and maybe a little birdy told me not to. Kind of a mixture of those.”

Fluttershy blinked once. “You can talk to animals?”

“Uhm... well no. That’s an old expression from back home. It means someone slapped me over the head with it until I finally understood.” I let out an awkward chuckle. “You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”


“And she agreed to this?” The ghostly blue visage of Runic Nexus, a well groomed Canterlot unicorn, floated above an amulet made out of an intricately carved gemstone formed around a miniscule piece of platinum, smaller than a grain of sand.

“Yes, Guildmaster. She was more interested in gaining the credit for the discoveries being made here than the monetary gains we offered,” Bunsen burner spoke into the eerie glow.

“Excellent. I want you to keep an eye on her and notify me if you believe her ambitions have grown to include the monetary sector.” The Guildmaster looked down at his prostrated subordinate. “When do the shipments begin? Have you already thought of a way for us to distinguish the carts from the normal traffic?”

“Yes, Guildmaster. The carts have been marked by a small scratch on the right side, made to resemble a bird. You can expect the shipments to begin within the month.”

The projection made a face. “I need something more concise than ‘within the month’ Ms. Burner. I can’t afford to spend the resources necessary for surveying the cargo coming through the University for an entire month.”

Bunsen Burner frowned. “The schedules have been placed under heavy guard and I do not have access to them as of yet.”

The ghostly face of the stallion scowled at Bunsen for a moment before looking away, lost in thought. “Hmm... See if you can convince our new ‘ally’ to part with the schedules. It is important we are able to recover as much platinum as possible, our window of opportunity will close very quickly.”

“It will be done, Guildmaster,” Bunsen Burner replied, not daring to look up.

“See that you get it done, Ms. Burner. I don’t need to tell you that a failure here may very well cost you your position within the Guild.” The ghostly image vanished into the gem, leaving the alleyway dark and silent once more.

Bunsen Burner adjusted her glasses and scooped up the amulet before tucking it into her saddlebags. She crept to the end of the alley she had hidden in and checked for guards on patrol. Once she was certain there was nopony around who would see her she darted back towards the prison where the research camp had been set up. “I need to find Professor Beaker.” She mumbled quietly to herself as she made her way back.

Author’s Note: Well yeah, I can sense the controversy coming from a mile away at John willingly giving the Equestrians the Platinum. Its a small change, but I felt it was prudent.
Also hooray for getting to deal with whiney Co-Authors.

Co-Author’s Note: I’m sleeeeeepy. I have college starting in a month, dammit. I shouldn’t be up this late! And you don’t get to complain sir. Not when I came up with two of the three pivotal moments in the chapter. So nyeh!

Author’s Note: Ugh! Co-Authors one minute you encourage them to do some writing on their own and the next they are demanding dolphin safe donuts! Where did I go wrong!?

Co-Author’s Note: I’m not demanding any donuts. I don’t know where you’re going with that. I just want decent work hours. Actually, y’know what? Forget this, I’m calling the Unions.

Chapter20: The Calm Before the Paparazzi

View Online

Chapter 20

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


Soarin slumbered quietly in his bunk at the guard barracks in Ponyville. He had been given one of the officer’s quarters, just one of the many perks of being a member of an elite group like the Wonderbolts. Thankfully the Princesses had allowed him to sleep in his own quarters after they had deemed the humans mostly-safe to allow into the kingdom. Of course Soarin was still expected to guard them during their day to day routine; his punishment still had to be carried out. In just a few hours he was to report to their residence and remain outside in the freezing snow and mud until the pair woke up. But for now he slept happily, content to remain so until he had to get up.


Sorin groaned and rolled over, unconsciously ignoring the annoying noise.

“PSSSSST! Hey Soarin, wake up already.”

The stallion rolled over and sleepily cracked an eye, feeling around for his alarm clock. When he found what he believed to be the source of the annoying racket that had awoken him early he quickly smashed the thing with his hoof.

“OWW! HEY! YOU JERK!” Came some mare’s indignant squawk. Soarin cracked both of his eyes and looked at the prismatic tuft of hair that was being massaged by a cyan hoof.

“You are a very brightly colored alarm clock,” Soarin mumbled, brain still mostly asleep. “Where did your bells go?” He looked around in groggy confusion before spotting his actual alarm clock, sitting innocently on the bedside table. “Hold on, I can fix this.” He drowsily fumbled for his actual method of waking before before yanking one the little bells from the top and setting it gently on top of his new alarm clock (that also happened to be shooting death glares at him). “There you go,” He mumbled before rolling over and quickly returning to sleep.

The prismatic alarm clock, not at all happy with the slumbering Soarin, grabbed Soarin’s sheets with her teeth and yanked them and the sleeping stallion onto the ground.

“What!? huh, AMBUSH!” Soarin cried, suddenly wide awake as he bucked wildly to free himself from the dastardly attempt to capture him in his sleep... Until his blanket slipped off of his head leaving him sitting in the middle of his floor, looking up at an amused looking mare with a bell on her head.

“Errr,” Soarin looked up at the odd mare as if thinking really hard about something. “What was your name again? umm ‘Double Rainbow’ or something like that right? What are you doing in my room?”

“Its Rainbow-Dash.” Rainbow Dash grumbled at him through her clenched teeth.

“Umm, right, Rainbow Dash... Why are you in my room again?” Soarin looking around, hoping not to find any more strange mares in his room, he promised Spitfire that wouldn't ever happen again and that mare was scary when she was angry.

“Look, I need your help,” Rainbow Dash said, eyeing the slightly goofy stallion with a critical eye.

“Woah, woah! Hang on. I promised my C.O. that there wouldn’t be any more ‘funny business;’ it gives the team a bad reputation,” Soarin said almost automatically.

“Ugh! This is serious, you jerk,” Rainbow groaned as she drew her hoof over her face in frustration. “This is about the ‘humans’ that you're supposed to guard,” Rainbow said. A look of realization, and a hint of red, passed over Soarin’s face as he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.

“Look, I think I have some evidence that the ‘humans’ aren't who they say they are and my friends won't listen to me. I’m not going to just stand around and wait for them to get themselves hurt. Or worse.” Soarin nodded, he hadn't had any suspicions that the humans were anything but what they claimed but he found himself hoping that what she said was true, it might just give him an excuse to get back at that pesky human male.

“What kind of evidence do you have?” Soarin asked, his face drawing into a serious frown.

Rainbow sat down on the stone floor of Soarin’s quarters and motioned for him to join her. “It might take a little while to explain.”

Soarin wondered for a moment if he should tell her she still had that bell on her head... ‘Nah.’


I, was awake. No, not just awake, wide awake. I had been for at least an hour already. In fact, I have no idea how I managed to fall asleep in the first place. The reason? The reason was a cute redhead with very ‘grabby’ sleeping habits. I had been staring at my reflection in a small mirror on the bedside table and the redness in my face was plain to see, as were the pair of slender arms wrapped around my shoulders and neck. I really needed to come up with better sleeping arrangements.

I didn't know how exactly I should extradite myself from the situation but ideas that didn't lead to waking Eleison up early were coming up short. So I laid there, horribly embarrassed and hoping what I learned yesterday was the truth and not some insane hallucination and that Celestia felt like raising the sun a little early. Unfortunately for me, no reprieve came and I ended up laying there for a few more hours until I felt Eleison stir. Once that happened I leapt up and with a franticly mumbled apology I grabbed my clothing I had set out for myself the previous night and ran to the bathroom, leaving a bewildered Eleison to blink sleepily at the door.

After a short and unfortunately ice cold shower, I got dressed. The cramped bathroom was difficult to move in but I still managed. I took a deep breath to brace myself and stepped out of the little bathroom. I looked around for Eleison and found her still sitting up in bed and blinking at me sleepily. “Umm, hey Elly, bathroom’s free. You want to get ready so we can head to Applejack’s for breakfast?”

“Nuuuu,” She said before grabbing the covers and throwing them back over her head, curling up and trying to go back to sleep.

I arched an eyebrow but couldn't help smile a little at her antics. “Come on Elly, I bet there will be all kinds of delicious things to eat.” I straightened my tie; if I was going to be forced to live here I at least wanted to at least try to make a good impression.

The lump in the fabric remained still for a few seconds as if pondering my words before erupting in a sudden blur of girl as Eleison grabbed her clothing I had helped her pick out and ran into the bathroom in a similar fashion to the way I had. I sighed with an exasperated smile before tugging on my snow boots and pulling out the two jackets we had worn on our first trip into town. I looked down at the thin material of my dress pants and frowned slightly, If I was going to be cold walking to Applejack’s then Eleison would be practically frozen, she was wearing a dress after all. I pondered the dilemma for a moment before shrugging and pulling out a pair of sweats she could put on under the dress if she wanted. It took a little while longer than it had taken me for Eleison to get washed and ready but we still had plenty of morning left to make it Applejack’s so I didn't try to rush her.

When we finally stepped out of the door we were greeted with none other than the Jerk, Soarin, waiting silently for both of us next to the door. Honestly I wished he had been standing on the other side of the door so I could have smacked his nose with it but sadly it wasn't in the cards. Without a word from either me or Eleison, we turned and starting walking to the farm house Applejack had indicated from the road last night. Unsurprisingly, the Jerk followed us with a scowl on his face. The trip only took about fifteen minutes and thankfully the tagalong stood next to the door on the porch without showing any interest in coming inside.

I knocked on the door and waited for a moment. I could hear people shuffling and yelling and hollering on the other side of the door so I contented myself with looking around while I waited for them to open up. Meanwhile Eleison busied herself with the porch swing, probably swinging a little bit too high for the worn down bench.

When the door opened, I was greeted with the most diabetes inducing sight I think I have ever seen. The little filly looked up at me with the most adorable expression of wonder. That plus the hair bow nearly, as cliché as it sounds, made me drop dead right there on the porch.

“Welcome ta Sweet Apple Acres, ahm Apple Bloom!” The little filly waved us in with excitement that was nearly boiling over, almost reminiscent of Pinkie Pie.

“Hello, my name is John,” I introduced myself, “and this here is Eleison.” I motioned to Elly, who had just come back from playing with the porch swing. “It’s nice to meet you Apple Bloom.” The Jerk made to poke his head into the room from his spot by the door, only for me to shut it in his face. I danced a little victory dance in my head to celebrate. “Did I see you in my town a few days ago?” I asked, partially for the benefit of conversation and partly due to honest curiosity. Eleison drew my attention by tugging on my sleeve and she gave me a nod, presumably to confirm that she had seen her too.

“Sure was! Ah even saw ya there, you was busy glarin’ at other ponies most ahtha time tho,” Apple Bloom said in an adorable mix of pride and uncertainty.

“An that’s why she’s grounded fer ah month.” Applejack walked into the room and shot us a smile. Apple Bloom sat back on her haunches and crossed her arms in a pout that had me unable to resist chuckling at such a familiar childhood tactic. “Its good ta see ya Chris, Eleison.”

“Its, ah, John actually I lied when I told you my name that first time.” I said, sheepishly rubbing the back of my neck.

Applejack’s face fell and she quirked an eyebrow in a questioning manner. “Care ta explain?” She asked in a slightly colder tone.

“Long story short, there’s an old superstition about telling a magic user your name, its not supposed to end well. So... I lied because I was more than a little scared at the time, ya know, learning magic was real and all of that.” I fiddled with my fingers a little as I explained.

“Whell, I'm glad yer tellin the truth but ah gotta ask why you’re tellin’ us now?” Applejack quirked her head in curiosity, the coldness already gone from her voice.

“Well it just struck me that I was being silly, I doubt the warning was meant to be about colorful magic ponies anyway.” I smiled a little nervously. “I already talked about it with Fluttershy and you’re the second per- pony I’ve told.”

The conversation was interrupted by Eleison tugging on my sleeve. “I’m hungry, when are we going to eat?” She asked with pleading eyes.

Apple Bloom giggled a little, followed shortly by Applejack. “Whell, at least tha mare knows what she wants, right?” She shot the two of us a wink that left Eleison blinking in confusion while I flustered. The entire situation soared straight over little Apple Bloom’s head. “Come on! I’ll intraduce ya to tha rest ah tha family.” Applejack waved for us to follow and she trotted off into what smelled like the kitchen.

On the way we came across an old lady, sitting quietly in a rocking chair. “This here is Granny Smith, say hi Granny.” Applejack motioned to Eleison and I before she seemed to suddenly realize that Granny Smith was fast asleep. “Oh tarnation, she went n’ fell asleep again.” Applejack poked the slumbering elder in the shoulder with a hoof. “Granny, wake up. Tha guests are here!”

The old lady, (mare?), just kept on sleeping.

“Hold on, I’ll get er up.” Apple Bloom walked up and puffed out her chest. Applejack, appearing to know what was coming clamped down on both ears, unfortunately for me and Elly, we didn’t.


‘Well, that girl certainly has got quite a set of lungs on her. The pony race should be proud.’

While Apple Bloom recovered, Eleison and I had to clear our ears. We were still standing there and moving our jaws around with our fingers wiggling in our ears when Granny Smith finally awoke. After a yawn and a smack of the lips she looked over at the pair of us and quirked an eyebrow. “Whut in tarnation er you sposed ta be, coupla skinny minotaurs?” Granny Smith almost shouted at the two of us. “Why, I remember tha last minotaur I met,” Granny’s voice grew wistful and she chuckled a little at whatever thought she was having before her expression snapped into a scowl at the two of us. “He was ah mean sucker! Are y’all mean suckers!?” She suddenly shouted waving her hoof at us.

I looked around nervously, glancing to where Eleison had been hoping for a little reassurance I wasn’t just going nuts. I found her over by Apple Bloom, having ignored the entire situation in favor of engaging in an impromptu game of patty cake. Finding no help there I responded with a hesitant “N-no ma’am.”

The old, green mare chuckled before looking over to where I kept glancing to check on Eleison. “Good lookin date ya got there, how long till ya make her an honest mare?”

I flustered and stuttered in surprise, completely unable to come up with any response. Thankfully I was saved by Applejack. “Granny, stop pickin’ on tha guests, were gonna have breakfast remember? Don’t go runnin’ them off before we even get to tha table,” Applejack admonished Granny Smith, apparently much to Granny’s entertainment. The elderly mare stood up out of her rocking chair and started shuffling to the kitchen, still laughing to herself.

To say the near constant insinuation that Eleison and I were some kind of item was frustrating would be a massive understatement. It must have shown on my face, judging by the apologetic glance from Applejack. I followed her into the kitchen where a large, hungry looking, red stallion tried and almost failed to split his attention between me and Eleison and the food laid out on the table. Eleison and I both locked eyes with him and the large stallion and I shuffled a bit with unease while Eleison quickly shifted her attention to the delicious looking food on the table.

Applejack interposed herself into our sudden stare-off with a smile, completely shattering the tension that had built in the short exchange. “This here is Big Macintosh, mah big brother and one ah tha strongest stallions in Ponyville!” Applejack proudly declared, much to ‘Big Mac’s’ embarrassment. “He is also pretty quiet, so don’t expect too much conversation outta him,” She finished before trotting over to see to any last minute preparations.

I glanced at Big Mac for any kind of conformation, only to be met with a sagely nod of the head and a hoof motioning to a spot at the table. I quickly accepted the offered seat, helping Eleison into hers beforehand, and glanced around to the others occupying the other spots in the quaint gathering. The Apple family had quickly taken their spots with practiced ease and I could feel a strong sense of nostalgia was over me as memories of my own family gatherings came unbidden into my mind.

Still awash in memories of reunions and Thanksgivings past, I hardly notice Applejack prompting everyone to ‘dig in’ and quickly piling a veritable mountain of apple based food onto everyone’s plate. I looked down at my food and felt suddenly voraciously hungry. I quickly bowed my head and began speaking out of habit before my mind had fully returned from its pleasant trip down memory lane. “Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies, amen.” I grabbed a particularly tasty looking pastry and had it half way into my mouth when I noticed the lack of the cheery noise that had been prevalent until moments before. I looked up to see if I had missed anything important during my brief mental absence, only to find the Apple family all shooting me curious looks. Eleison of course was still chomping away with the happiest expression in the world, completely oblivious to the sudden silence.

Before any questions I wasn’t ready to answer were raised I cleared my throat and muttered a quiet “Sorry, old tradition.” and returned to my meal, hoping the awkwardness would pass quietly. Moments later Apple Bloom interrupted the quiet with a girlish belch that sent the Apple family back to their joking and conversations, mostly at the poor filly’s expense. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief when no one brought up the awkward moment, one day I might be ready to talk to these people about certain things but until then I could only hope that I wouldn’t need to deal with any prying equines. It was then that I noticed the Jerk looking into the kitchen from a window, doing his best be stealthy. I happened to notice his attention was split between watching Eleison and I and gazing longingly at an apple pie that was sitting in the middle of the table. Still feeling vindictive, I pulled my own piece of pie toward me and made a show of devouring it like it was the best thing I had ever tasted. I’m a little ashamed to admit just how much I found Soarin’s longing, almost tearful, expression entertaining. In my mind he was a long way from his penance being up and there was no way I was going to make it any easier on him.

After a hearty chuckle at the sad stallion's expression I turned my attention back to the food and the company. The Apples had been one of the few to really go out of their way to take care of Eleison and myself, inviting us into their home and doing so with no ulterior motives that I could spot. They seemed like honest, hardworking, and welcoming people and while I wasn’t about to hand over any deeds or trust them with human legacies, I was already beginning to place them a cut above everyone else I had met.

I sighed and leaned back in my chair, my stomach already full of more sugary treats than I had meant to eat. I started to relax into the oddly low, wooden chair and turned my mind to really thinking about what the rest of the ponies wanted from us, from me, from what remained of humanity.

“Ya okay over there John?” Applejack asked, noticing my pensive attitude and drawing most of the eyes at the table to me.

I looked up and smiled, though my heart wasn’t really in it. “Yeah, thanks Applejack. I’m fine, just thinking about stuff is all.”

“Just what kinda stuff?” Applejack pressed.

“It’s nothing, really,” I replied almost automatically.

“Oh now don’t go keeping a bunch secrets, we’ve had enough a’ that after yer name. I don’t want ta find out there was another big fight jus’ cause you got spooked and wouldn’t talk to anypony,” Applejack scolded me with a frown, apparently unwilling to let me keep secrets.

“Look,” I sighed, “Don’t try and force me, alright?” I gave her a pointed look as the rest of the eyes at the table tracked between the two of us. “I truly and honestly appreciate you allowing us into your home and sharing your food and company with us, it really means a lot, but there is a lot of things that I’m not sure about and it makes me more than a little nervous.”

“Well as happy as ah am ta hear that you appreciate what we’ve done, ah wish you’d just talk ta us about stuff that bothers you instead of trying to handle it all yerself,” Applejack said with a firm expression. “Friends help friends when they need it whether they like it or not.” She thumped a hoof down on the table in a gesture of finality.

I fiddled with my fingers for a moment, thinking before I finally settled on what to say. “I'm just thinking about the future. Eleison and I were never meant to be a part of all of this. We both have nowhere to go, other than where your leaders deign for us to go, there is no real place in the world for us,” I said feeling a little down at having to state the reality.

Applejack nodded in understanding “Ah understand yer worried about livin’ someplace new and with strange ponies ya don’t know but we will help ya all the way, won’t we Apples?” Applejack called to her other three family members who all nodded, cheered, or winked. “And the Princesses are trying ta make you a place, they won’t leave ya high and dry, no matter what!” She finished with a confident look.

I sighed and nodded at the Apple family. It was easy to believe their words, that they would help Eleison and I through the mess that was our life in this strange place, but in the end that was all they were, words. While I could believe the Apples the Princesses were a different matter. I looked over at Eleison in an effort to chase my lingering doubts from my mind and hoping she hadn’t destroyed something while I was occupied. Oddly, she was sitting quietly and was giving me an uncharacteristically calm smile.

I couldn’t help but smile back at her, she was my only real responsibility in this world, just the thought of leaving her by herself felt just… wrong. I probably couldn’t have left Eleison on her own even if she’d gone and bit me.

Lost in my guilt, I didn’t notice Eleison reaching out and claiming my arm and hugging it to herself, tell tale redness creeping into her cheeks.

I did notice when a loud, girlish, “Awwwwww.” broke the sudden silence.


My face was a raging inferno of embarrassment as I quick-marched ahead of Applejack, Big Mac, and the Jerk, urged forward by the suggestive looks I kept getting from Applejack. Eleison and I had beat a hasty retreat after the events at breakfast. She had hardly noticed the looks the Apple family had been sending us but they fueled my desire to get out of there as quickly as possible. Eleison was directly to my left, having no problems keeping up even though she was hardly paying attention, instead playing with a giggling Applebloom who had received a break in her grounding to attend the meeting the Princesses had arranged.

The town was already in full swing by the time we walked up the road. The crowd from the last few times I had been into town oddly refused to form but that didn’t stop various ‘townsponies’ from giving us cautious looks; one trio of odd mares even took off screaming the moment they saw us. Applejack twirled a hoof next to her face in a little circle, I got her meaning.

It didn't take us long to pick up the others and head for the small auditorium on the ground floor of the town hall. In fact, travel time probably dropped by half once we picked up the Princesses. With all the townsponies rushing to clear a path for us the road might as well have been deserted if you could ignore all the bowing ponies along the sides of the road. Actually, I think Celestia just might actually have ignored most of it; she kept her nose buried in a newspaper article for the entire walk while Luna huffed along beside her, looking irritated. I generally tried to ignore what Celestia was looking at but a picture of our group from the walk we took yesterday piqued my interest.

“Celestia, what is that you’re reading?” I asked.

Celestia frowned and folded the paper to take another quick glance at the front page. “Well, it would seem our little ponies have yet again fallen victim to baseless rumors and sensationalism.”

Luna huffed indignantly. “After thousands of years of rule you would think our subjects would have learned the basic principle of trust. Alas, the news industry is as vile as it ever was.”

I glanced around at the few ponies who were also headed to the conference, many of which shot us nervous looks. “What did they write about us that was so bad?” I asked concerned.

Celestia smiled but there was still a hint of disappointment in her eyes. “Oh, you know, alien overlords here to present your terms for the surrender of all of pony kind, and several scathing paragraphs about the ‘questionable calls’ I have made. They payed special attention to our refusal to release any information before today."

“What, seriously?” I looked at her like she was crazy. Rainbow Dash apparently found the situation pretty funny, based on the muffled giggles from ahead of us. “There are TWO of us! What the hell do they expect, for us to lay our eggs in your stomachs and make a horde of little human larvae?”

The entire group had stopped in the middle of the street and stared. A few of the ponies walking by audibly gasped and slowly inched their ways toward the closest cover. My eye twitched slightly as I watched their reaction. “That was a reference to a horror story from back home, my bad.” I gave Eleison a look and whispered, “I really should have seen that coming.”

With a short apology for probably giving them all nightmares, we quickly made our way to the auditorium. We took a side door that led to the stage behind a red velvet curtain. The mayor was waiting for us and motioned us over to a podium that bore what, I think, was probably some sort of official seal and a set of small bleachers. The six pony girls took their places and the Princesses exchanged a few short words with Mayor Mare, then the Royal Sisters walked to the podium. The mayor guided us over to the eaves where we would be safely out of the way.

The velvet curtain swished aside and revealed the auditorium filled to bursting with ponies. The loud murmur of voices instantly quieted when Celestia called their attention.


Runic Nexus blew a little bit of his sweaty mane out of the way of the protective goggles and returned his attention to the intricate device sitting on his workbench. His office was half that of a bureaucrat’s and half that of a senior enchanter’s workshop.

The object on his workbench, and by extension his current obsession, was one of the more advanced pieces of human technology that had fallen into the hands of the Canterlot academy and then been ‘acquired’ by the Guild. The scientists and professors on the Academy’s payroll were good but they had failed to determine the device’s purpose, frustrated by its complexity and enigmatic nature. Runic Nexus thrived on this sort of challenge, it was part of the reason he was now the Guildmaster despite all of the internal politics that weighed down the ancient organization, a holdover from the old unicorn aristocracy.

Runic Nexus’ current obstacle was that human technology was drastically different from his native school of enchanting. Every piece of human engineering seemed to have only a singular purpose, it was very rigid in what certain components did and what any combination of components could be made to do. It had taken him only a few hours to figure out that the entire thing, and by extension most of human technology, likely ran on the rarely studied phenomena called electricity. Pony society while having no use for electricity due to almost all of their needs being taken care of by magic still attempted to study the phenomena, citing great potential as the driving force behind several studies. The revelation that the machine used electrical current to operate opened so many doors for the Guildmaster to explore, still the principles of the device were almost frustrating in the way components had to fit together in such a specific way or the entire thing did absolutely nothing.

Runic Nexus eyed the pieces that made up the guts of the device that lay strewn out in front of him, a mess of wires, insulating materials, and odd, green panels; the featureless aluminum box and glass panel that had once housed the device lay against the wall, all but forgotten. He levitated one of the components of the machine, marveling at the tiny ribbons of conductive material printed onto the green insulator that led to enigmatic black stones that seemed to be of great importance to the device. While enchanting was far more forgiving than the human’s technology seemed to be he could definitely see the advantage of studying such intricate craft. He retrieved two large iron needles he had tied by crudely insulated copper wires to an apparatus he had developed himself just hours ago to help himself study the electrical ‘pathways’. It was a single crystalline device commonly known as a mana battery, linked to a cube of steel he had enchanted to convert magical energy into electrical potential. The copper wires were then attached to the intricately carved cube and allowed him to apply an electrical current to the tiny ribbons of material on the guts of the device. He frowned in concentration as he attempted to press the tiny points of the needles onto the path he was studying but for some infinitely frustrating reason the needles always shook slightly when he held them in his magical grip. He had long ago made the connection that electricity was to blame for the tremor but so far he was stumped for a way to solve the issue.

The Guildmaster took a deep breath to quiet his mounting frustration and instead decided to leave the project for later. He pulled off the pair of protective goggles that were a staple for every enchanter and made his way back to his desk. After a few moments of cleaning the sweat from his coat with a freshly laundered towel he started shuffling through the few various papers that littered his desk. Paperwork overload was rarely a problem for the head of the enchanters guild, mostly thanks to an extensive support structure of secretaries that handled all ‘low-priority’ messages and requests. This allowed him to concentrate on big problems and determine the best course of action for the guild. He was just about to begin reading a report on guild finances when there was a quiet knock on his office door.

“Yes?” Runic Nexus huffed, his voice still filled with frustration.

“Guildmaster, Sir I have a report from Bunsen Burner.” One of his secretaries called out from the doorway.

“Ah excellent, good news I hope?” Runic Nexus leaned back, thankful to have another moment's reprieve from his work.

“Yes sir, she has spoken with her professor and has acquired the timetables for the platinum shipments to Canterlot.” The unicorn secretary stepped into the room and up to her superior’s desk.

A large smile broke out on the Guildmaster’s face. “That is wonderful news; I assume you have notified our griffon contacts.

“Yes, they have been told to wait in one of the forested areas on the route to Canterlot. The shipments are mixed in with the other carts the Academy uses for their normal supply runs and are marked so our contacts will know which crates to acquire.” The secretary fidgeted slightly and it did not go unnoticed by Runic Nexus, the secretary had worked here for a while and was used to the way things ran in the guild, but this was the first outright criminal action they have employed in quite some time.

“Don’t worry, everything will go smoothly and we don’t have anything to worry about. The griffon bandits I hired are professionals and they know their place well enough not to betray us to the sisters.” The Guildmaster spoke in a reassuring tone to assuage his subordinate’s anxiety. The secretary smiled at him in return and quickly made her way out of his office when he dismissed her with a wave of the hoof.

After the unicorn mare made her way out Runic Nexus turned to the large window and looked out at the sunny winter morning that Canterlot was enjoying. He could see for miles, the castle of the sisters magnificent in the morning sun. It’s tall spires and turrets gleamed and its position, hanging out over the platform Canterlot was built upon gave it the feeling of floating in mid-air. He smiled and mock-saluted the castle in the distance.

Author’s Note: Well writing this chapter was a bit like running down a sidewalk blindfolded and tripping over every misplaced “writers block” that could possibly be dropped in front of me. It was terrible!

Anyway, I like what we managed to do here, its good setup for the next chapter, which I hope to deliver without so long of a delay. Admari has finally started college which is great for him, but it puts an even greater strain on editing so we will have to figure out a new schedule for that. I’m still very enthusiastic about this fic so don't worry about it being abandoned any time soon.

Co-Author’s Note: *Secretly plots to write every member of the Enchanter’s Guild as an Italian lobster*

Author’s Note: “Lobster” ...Wat?

Chapter21: Or Else... Nightmares

View Online

Chapter 21

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


A loud thump rang out in the deserted Ponyville Guard garrison, specifically in Commander Spitfire’s cubicle. The usually fiery mare was sitting at her desk, an occasional thump coming from a little rubber ball she was despondently bouncing off her wall.

With a long, suffering sigh, Spitfire caught the rubber ball as it returned to her and dumped it into one of her desk drawers. Her office chair squeaked as she leaned back in it; she ignored the annoying noise in favor of looking around her workspace at the various little knickknacks she had decorated it with. Most of them were mementos from her time as Captain of the Wonderbolts and she couldn’t help but allow a little smirk to shine through her gloomy attitude when she looked at one particular photo of her two closest friends, Soarin and Fleetfoot. In it, they were both on either side of her. Spitfire had had to wrestle Soarin into the frame for the picture and still had to keep a hoof hooked around his neck so he couldn’t try to run away. Fleetfoot had stood just as calmly and silently as she ever did and Spitfire couldn’t help but wonder how she had always managed be so collected and on top of things. All three of them wore different variations of a smile, hers was a big, happy smile while Fleetfoot’s was a tiny smirk she always favored and Soarin’s was more of a pained, fake grin than an actual expression of mirth.

Spitfire sighed once more as she tore her mind from the good old days and returned her attention to the current state of affairs. She was a successful member of the Royal Guard, in charge of a hundred soldiers and the entire valley that Ponyville resided in. Her two best friends had made the journey with her in her country’s time of need and were still by her side. She had the favor of at least one of the princesses and had been promoted to her current rank by none other than Princess Celestia herself. She was a good soldier, they told her she was a good leader and until recently she thought she was a good pony.

That last point was the entire reason for her self-induced depression. The actions that had led to her promotion, her rise in status and the favor of the princesses had also led to one of her closest friends almost getting kicked out of the service and an innocent po- person locked in a cell and half-starved. There were so many justifications for Chris’ poor treatment that it was a wonder she could still feel bad about it, but there it was, glaring right at her. She had been the facilitator of a terrible act of cruelty on a creature who had tried to peacefully communicate with her, just before she forced him to flee and end up in a cell where he had been imprisoned for weeks.

Spitfire let her head flop lifelessly onto her desk and stared at the wall opposite her. After a moment, she spared a glance at the clock hanging across from her. The princesses were supposed to start the conference any minute now. With another long sigh, she stood and donned her armor and smoothed over the small imperfections in her appearance before heading out the door and started on her way to the Town Hall. Maybe, if she was lucky, she could talk to Chris and apologize for her part in all of the terrible events that had plagued the poor fellow.

The trip to Town Hall was quiet as most of the townsponies were already at the conference. After only a short walk across the square, Spitfire strolled up to the outer doors of the large, circular building and held out her hoof to be prodded with an enchanted needle by the soldier at the door. She didn’t recognize him, but then again she hadn’t been in charge long enough to learn the names and faces of every soldier under her command. After the test was finished, she quietly stepped through the doors and made her way to the auditorium. Spitfire tried to walk as silently as she could without the clanking of her silver plates making too much noise as she slipped through the door but several ponies still turned their heads to the source of the disruption. With a few muttered apologies, she made her way to the end of the aisle where her two teammates were already standing and watching the proceedings.

“Hey, what did I miss?” she whispered, coming to stand next to Soarin and Fleetfoot.

“Not too much. Princess Celestia made a speech about accepting those who are different from us, blah blah blah. The Bearers of the Elements of Harmony stood around and looked pretty. Oh, and the human told everypony he lied about his name. That was hilarious, you should have seen the look on the Bearers’ faces.” Soarin grinned sideways at her, trying not to turn his head. Fleetfoot only frowned slightly at Soarin and shook her head.

The frown on Spitfire’s face almost matched that of their silent friend’s. “You know Soarin, I’ve known you for years, why are you acting like a much bigger jerk than usual all of a sudden?” Spitfire tapped on the edge of his armor with a hoof to help emphasize her words.

Soarin sighed and rubbed the side of his head under his helmet. “Sorry, I’ve just been in a really bad mood since that mission in the forest. Something about these humans gives me the creeps and I don’t really know what it is. Almost getting booted out of the service didn’t help either.”

Spitfire shook her head. “Soarin, almost getting kicked out was your own fault and the humans seem to be perfectly well behaved. I don’t know why they would scare you.”

“I'm not scared!” Soarin squawked. Several ponies in the audience shot them looks and quiet shushes before turning back to the human nervously talking on the stage.

“... and I guess I would just like to thank you all for helping Elly and I and for showing your support. We really appreciate it and... uhm, sorry. I didn’t really expect to have to make a speech today and I'm not much of a speaker.” The human chuckled nervously along with the quiet rumble of laughter coming from the crowd.

Spitfire couldn’t help but laugh for a slightly different reason. “Come on Soarin, you just admitted they give you the creeps.”

“Well I- What I mean is- Ugh. Damn it, Spitfire.” Soarin dropped his head in defeat.

Spitfire patted her longtime friend on the back. “Don’t worry about it. I admit, they are a little weird compared to the other things running around Equestria these days. I mean, people who can’t be exposed to magic at all or it makes them sick? Crazy! But we need to make room for them, the same as we have for dragons and gryphons.” Spitfire nodded to herself.

Soarin’s retort was drowned out completely as the princesses returned to the stage and called for questions. The press ponies who occupied the first few rows of seats all leapt into the air and shouted for attention, drowning out almost every sound with frantic yelling. Nopony happened to notice a single Equestrian regular looking through a crack in one of the side doors suddenly turn and vanish in a small flash of green.


Our little group chatted amicably as we walked down the cobblestone road back toward Twilight’s library. Well, at least the ponies chatted, Elly and myself were mostly quiet as I huffed along behind them. I couldn't help but wonder why the ponies had been dragging me around town with wounds that still hadn’t fully healed. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had left right after the conference was over; Pinkie had said something about “fixing a sign” and Rainbow had just vanished. That left Eleison, myself (now thankfully known as John to everyone), Princesses Celestia and Luna, Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy, and most of the Apple family. Big Macintosh and Apple Bloom had stopped to talk to Applejack after the conference and she had dragged them along, leaving our final count at ten.

After leaving Town Hall, we were practically swarmed by various ponies with notepads and cameras, all taking snapshots and shouting for interviews. Celestia asked them politely to contact her PR department back in Canterlot but the crowd refused to back off. I was surprised when Luna stomped out in between the group and the swirling mass of vulture- I mean newsponies all scattered when she threatened them all with nightmares for a month if they didn’t clear off.

Now we were coming up on the library and a small contingent of golden armored guards waited outside standing beside one of the gilded deathtra- I mean, chariots.

“What do you think those guys are here for?” I asked, jabbing a thumb at the golden armored pegasi and turning to shoot a questioning look at Celestia and Luna, who were walking side by side and whispering amongst themselves. I had very little contact with the these troops and most of that had been on the wrong end of me defending myself, so they didn't make me as nervous as they could have. Of course, thinking back to the chase through the forest after my escape from my imprisonment, and now knowing that the magic they had been using wasn't meant to kill me but would have anyway, gave me very mixed feelings.

“That would be our escort back to Canterlot,” Celestia replied after finishing her whispered conversation with her younger sister.

“You’re leaving?” Twilight asked from behind me, her voice sounding a little upset.

“I'm afraid so, my faithful student, we have been away from our usual duties for too long.” Celestia brushed a wingtip over the top of Twilight’s head in a gesture that seemed more like a parent with their child than a teacher with their student.

“Humph,” Luna snorted. “We must return before the nobles set fire to our capitol like unsupervised children you mean.” With a toss of her mane, she headed for the chariot with the rest of us following her over to the flying death trap.

“Well, we really must be going, though I do plan to keep at least occasional correspondence with the two of you.” Celestia nodded to Elly and I before stepping onto the chariot next to her sister. “If you are so inclined to reply or if you require any aid, you may ask my student to forward letters to me,” Celestia said while giving Twilight a warm smile.

“Rest well for the time being and try to recover your strength,” Luna spoke up from her place, impatiently waiting for the conversation to be done with. “I do not believe the appearance of you or your city will go unnoticed for much longer in the international arena and the appearance of a new species, particularly one with such unique attributes, will no doubt garner much attention for the two of you.”

I grimaced at the thought of being played with as pawns for a kingdom of little horses on the chessboard of whatever medieval style politics they practiced.

“Speaking of potential political problems,“ Princess Celestia began, “you are certain you have secured the weapons you spoke about? It would not be a pleasant turn of events if such things fell into the wrong hooves.”

I nodded and ran my fingers through my hair in thought. I had hidden a few of the handguns and smaller rifles while I had been watched by Celestia and Luna “Yes, I think they’re pretty safe for now, though I’ll admit I didn’t think about having to hide them from international spies. After we get settled in a little more, I’ll go back and gather up all I can find and make sure they’re someplace safe,” I reassured the princesses. Of course, I had only allowed myself to be observed hiding the weaker armaments and I would have to go back and figure out a better place to stash the more powerful stuff when I could be sure no one would be watching.

A thought struck me as I was thinking about places I could effectively hide the small arsenal of firearms Jolton had; it was a thought I had given some serious consideration to while I had been imprisoned, mostly to pass the time and keep my mind occupied, but it hadn't crossed my mind in the whirlwind of events that followed my escape. “But no matter what I do, there are some dangerous things in town that I won't be able to protect you from,” I said with as much gravity as I could convey. Even the basic concepts of technology or methodology could revolutionize the way this world functioned and even while locked up and starved, I had been thinking of ways to prevent ponies from blowing up the world I now had no choice but to live on.

“We are well aware of the potential-“ Luna began before I interrupted her.

“I'm sure you think you do,” I said, shooting Luna a look. “Just be careful, not everything humans have tucked away can be used for the good of all pony kind,” I said, this time with a sarcastic bite. There was a moment of silence as the gathered ponies all gave me a look. “Well…” I said after a moment, “I guess it could, sort of. But be freakin’ careful.”

“Ah'm sure everythin’ will be all right, there ain’t no reason to get jumpy,” Applejack said from the rear of the group.

“We understand, and we will be as cautious as possible,” Celestia said while Luna gave a little huff of impatience. “And we will be sure to consult you on our findings. I hope that will be enough to assuage your fears.”

I nodded and sighed deciding to, despite our terrible first impressions, give the beings who were responsible for the day and the night the benefit of the doubt. “Yeah, that’s fine. I just didn’t want to get settled down only for you guys to start throwing nukes around because you didn't know any better.”

“What exactly is a ‘nuke’?” came the curious voice of Twilight from my right and I had to almost slap myself for blurting that out.

“Err, don’t worry about it, forget I mentioned anything,” I said quickly turning my attention back to the departing princesses. “Yeah, umm so long, don’t forget to write,” I said in a nervous rush, trying to steer the conversation back onto less dangerous topics. I quickly stepped over and leaned tiredly against the tree-turned-library and naturally Elly was at my side as we watched the rest of the little group say their farewells to their rulers.

It wasn’t too long after that that I felt a tugging on my sleeve. “John, I'm hungry,” Eleison said from her spot next to me.

“You’re always hungry,” I shot back playfully with a small smile. She just nodded at me. The sound of the chariot lifting off signaled the departure of Celestia and Luna. “This time I’ll agree with you, I'm hungry too,” I said massaging my stomach. I wasn't in much of a hurry but I wanted to get home soon, or else risk picking at my stitches for lack of anything else to do.

Finally the group of ponies joined us over at the tree-library-thing and Twilight motioned us all into the fairly cramped doorway. I headed in first, followed shortly by Eleison. Once inside, I squinted at the inky darkness that spread out before me, my frayed nerves from recent events causing me to stiffen at the thought of having a bag shoved over my head and being carted off. I frowned at my own reaction to a simple dark room and forced my rising panic back from whence it came. “Do you have a light switch or something around here?” I called back to the group of ponies, Twilight only now sticking her head in behind Eleison.

“It’s on the right,” Twilight replied pointing a hoof at some point in the darkness.

I felt around in the dark for a moment, not wanting to venture any deeper inside until I was certain I wasn’t going to step on, or tip over, or smack my head on anything hiding in the dark. With a tiny ‘click’, the various candles came to life, illuminating the library with a welcoming, warm glow. I turned around to take in the odd building where a sign draped over a table filled with all kinds of junk food read ‘Welcome John and Eleison’, where a clearly visible ‘Chris’ was marked out in red marker and ‘John’ quickly scribbled above it.



Elly frowned at the various ponies chatting and drinking delicious looking punch and eating delicious looking food. After the sudden shock of almost a dozen ponies leaping out from behind various things around the room, her John had had to sit down and breathe for a good five minutes just to calm himself. Pinkie had set up this party to make John happy but all she did was make him very scared.

Eleison didn't like it when the ponies did something to John that he didn't like.

Fluttershy was sitting behind them and the nice pony was talking to her John and making him feel better. Eleison liked Fluttershy, she made them dinner and her John always seemed to be at ease around the butter-colored pony. Eleison watched as the kind pony pushed her face into his shoulder and say some more kind things before walking away around the edges of the room.

Elly, wondering if her John felt better because of what the pony did, nuzzled her head into her John’s shoulder. When John didn't pull away or make up an excuse to leave the room, Elly smiled and snuggled a little closer. She looked up at him with emotion in her eyes, she didn't think she could make a 'concerned' face yet but she hoped the intention was obvious. Her John looked like he wasn't happy after Pinkie had scared him, his eyes had darkened and he seemed less alive than she was used to.


Elly had to shake herself out of her own thoughts when she noticed her John was speaking. She felt happy inside when he smiled down at her in spite of how... wrong he currently looked. She really liked it when he spoke kindly to her, it made her feel very warm and like she never wanted to move from this very spot as long as he kept saying nice things.

"Elly I thought you were really hungry?" John asked, raising an eyebrow like he sometimes did when he asked a question.

Eleison nodded but remained next to her John. She was really hungry, as demonstrated when a loud gurgle reached the various ponies in the room and they looked at the two humans in shock and some of them laughed. But Elly was determined to make her John feel better, even If she had to stay here and not get a chance at those yummy looking cupcakes.

When her most favorite pony walked up carrying a tray of cupcakes and a pair of cups filled with punch, Eleison couldn't help but squeal with delight and quickly snatched one while giving the pink pony what she hoped were appreciative looks. She and her John seemed to be talking about something but Elly was far too busy enjoying the sweet food to really pay attention.

Pinkie was Elly's favorite pony by far, the rest of them always seemed so... so lifeless when compared to Pinkie, even when she looked sad like right now.

Eleison chewed her sweets happily, thinking about all of the interesting things she wanted to try with her John and her favorite pony Pinkie. As she reached out for another cupcake, another whisper from that... thing she ate so long ago crept into her mind and Elly almost wanted to scream in frustration. The thing wanted her to feel afraid of the ponies, to feel like they would never let her be happy, she was so sick of it! She screwed her eyes closed and forced most of what had bubbled to the fore of her mind back into the dark where she could keep it away from her... most of the time.

When Elly opened her eyes again, her John and Pinkie were both looking at her in concern.

"-ou okay?"

Elly's head swam as her mind gathered itself. She heard the voices of her John and her favorite pony again.


"I am okay, it was only head troubles, I am okay," Elly said, finally shaking off the mental fog she had been trapped in for a moment.

"You sure?" John raised an eyebrow in that way he sometimes did.

Thinking the facial gesture was too funny, Elly reached up and started touching her John's eyebrows as he sputtered and tried to pull away. The moment soon degraded into a game that she had just came up with, she would try to hold onto John and he would bat at her arms and try to get away. She couldn't help but giggle when John's face turned red and he stuttered while trying to get her to stop.

Almost as soon as the game started, her loud giggling and happy squeals drew all the eyes in the room. John looked like his head was going to explode with the added attention but Elly was having way too much fun to stop. She lunged at him with the intent of knocking him to the ground where she would no doubt be able to win her made-up game. John was a lot sturdier than she thought, though, and he didn't fall, instead, he caught her and tried to keep the weight from making him fall anyway.

A sudden loud clearing of someone's throat drew Elly's attention. John was still stuttering and red-faced when the noise from the white and purple pony drew her attention to the whistles coming from the, err... stallions? There were also the blushing and scandalized looks and a few glares directed at their male counterparts coming from the mares.

Not to mention a Twilight that looked like she was about to set her parchment on fire with the speed she was scribbling.

"Ahem, not to interrupt your... 'fun', darlings, but don't you think this is a bit, umm... public for that?" the white and purple pony asked with a funny face that looked like a cross between a smile and looking like she was hungry.

The room quieted to the point where you could hear a pin drop, only for the silence to be shattered when the front door opened to admit one of Elly's least favorite ponies, if only because her John didn't like the brightly colored armored mare.

"Umm... I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" came the armored mare's voice from the door.


Spitfire looked around at the odd scene she had walked in on. Eleison, the other human she hadn't really had a chance to interact with, was hanging off of John like they had been in the middle of some kind of raunchy dance or ritual. John was looking like he had completely checked out, brain likely overloaded with embarrassment, judging from the bright blush that was plastered all over his face and his thousand yard stare.

Spitfire's armor clanked as she made her way over to the odd couple. The rest of the ponies in the room were whispering to one another, trying to guess why Spitfire had decided to crash the party. The most common thing being whispered had something to do with 'public indecency' but Spitfire really didn't want to try and guess what had been going on before she had arrived.

Suddenly, Spitfire's world turned to pink as the local party icon known as Pinkie Pie appeared in her vision.

“Heya, Spitfire! Glad you could make it to the party!” Pinkie stopped mid jump and rubbed her chin. “But how did you get an invitation? Celestia said you would be working.”

"Umm, thanks Ms. Pie, but I was just dropping by to speak with John for a second." Spitfire grinned nervously at the party pony. She flinched as Pinkie unhooked from the air and landed in front of her with a thump.

"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie bounced away to do something at the refreshment table, showing no signs of being upset about her party turning into... whatever this was. Lowering her head slightly to hopefully avoid any more interruptions, the fire-themed mare trotted over to the two humans, still frozen in their strange position.

"Hello...?" Spitfire asked as she walked up to the frozen pair. The female, Eleison, was glaring at her from her odd position, which consisted of being stuck to John like a limpet. John looked like he had been rendered brain dead by something, probably their odd position. When neither of the humans answered her, Spitfire looked around the room. The ponies attending the party had all stopped what they were doing to stare at the spectacle the human pair had made out of themselves, while the Bearer of the Element of Magic, Twilight Sparkle, stood just off to the side with a small mountain of parchment covered in her neat writing that she was adding to at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, throughout all of this, Pinkie Pie hopped from pony to pony, refilling punch and hoofing out sweets.

The situation had decidedly taken a turn for the bizarre, but Spitfire had dealt with bizarre before, she was on a team with Soarin and Fleetfoot after all. "Excuse me, John?" She prodded him with a hoof, trying to shake him out of whatever trance he seemed to be in.

John shook his head and sleepily looked around before noticing the girl he still held in his arms. With the raging blush already on his face, he quickly set Eleison back down. Spitfire couldn't help the wry smile on her face when the red maned human mare whined at the loss. When his attention finally turned to Spitfire, she couldn't help but get in a shot at the situation.

"For future reference, you might want to keep those kinds of activities to private places," Spitfire said, sending John into a stuttering fit.

"I-I-I'm s-sorry, won't happen again, officer!" the flustered human finally managed to squeak.

Spitfire hid a snicker behind a hoof. "As fun as this whole thing is," Spitfire spun a hoof over her head to indicate the entire party,"It isn't the reason I came."

"It isn't?" John asked with a quirk of the eyebrow. His face had managed to start returning to a normal color now that he had something to occupy his mind. That was until his face reddened once again when Eleison giggled at the expression on his face.

A small rumble of laughter swept through the gathered ponies, making John's face return to its former lobster red state.

"Ahem!" Spitfire cleared her throat loudly, quieting the ponies in the room and returning John's attention to her. "I just came to apologize for my part in what happened to you."

"Really?" John raised his eyebrow again, ignoring the fit of giggles from Eleison he managed to keep a serious expression on his face.

Spitfire nodded, adopting an apologetic expression. "I can't really apologize for doing my job, but I just wanted you to know that if there is anything you ever need, I'll be happy to help."

John looked surprised for a long moment before reaching up and running a hand through his brown mane. "Wow, that's pretty mature of you, thanks," John said, still fidgeting but looking grateful for the gesture.

"Wha-" Eleison opened her mouth to add to the conversation when she was interrupted by the door of the library slamming open. In the doorway stood a brown stallion, fully dressed in the same silver armor Spitfire herself was wearing.

"Commander Spitfire!" The unnamed stallion shouted from the doorway. "The Town Hall is on fire!"


Elly ran along behind John out of the library and towards a light in the distance. Many ponies had left the library before them, moving ahead of them towards the bright light.

When they arrived, the street was filled with ponies looking on at the burning structure in the center of town. The Mayor pony they had met the day before was shouting orders and ponies were moving rain clouds over the other buildings in the square, dousing them with water. Elly was confused, why would you put water on something that was not burning?

John had turned around and was speaking quickly to the armored pony that had interrupted the fun she had been having earlier. At a loss about what to do, Elly looked around at the various ponies running here and there. She noticed another pony she didn't like flying around in the air, the rainbow and blue one was pushing clouds around much faster than the rest.

Bored with watching the flying ponies, Elly shifted her eyes onto the various ponies she didn't know and the few she did as they ran about. She was content to watch this odd show until an uncomfortable feeling came over her. It was like there was something inherently wrong with what she was looking at. When her eyes locked onto the Mayor pony, the feeling intensified, bringing with it a sense of ice cold dread that seemed to want to drown her entire world in fear. As she looked at the grey and tan pony, the world around that spot seemed to fold in on itself until there was a hole. A screaming, bleeding, hole.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!” She couldn't even bear to look at the all consuming pit of blackness that occupied the same space as the Mayor pony but when she turned her eyes to the ground to escape the terrible sight, the feeling of wrongness and dread only got stronger. When she returned her eyes to the Mayor, “Wrong, terrible!” she only found that the bleeding hole was closer. Confused and terrified, she did not immediately realize that her feet were carrying her toward the screaming pit of fear that was the Mayor. No! She didn't want to go closer, she wanted to run away! She wanted to find her John and never leave his comforting presence again.

As her treacherous feet brought her ever closer, tears streaked down her face; she wanted to scream out and curl into a ball but her body seemed to act all on its own. She feared what would happen when she touched that infinite black. Would she lose herself? Would she end? Would she be trapped in its terrible presence for eternity?

As her hand reached out for the screaming pit, she tried once more to force her body back under control. Her effort was in vain as her limb plunged into the blackness. She registered her fist closing around something stringy and light and somewhere under the blinding fear she wondered what she had. Was it the strings of her own existence? Was she about to tear out her own heart, to sacrifice her masterpiece she had grown so attached to to this evil black bleeding hole in the world?

Her mind barely picked up on the fact that she had wrenched something into the air with all of her strength. A loud, wet, crack brought sweet sweet relief. The all consuming fear vanished from her mind suddenly and she collapsed to her knees. She could hear running and shouting behind her and felt the warm, soothing comfort of her John's arms wrap around her. It was like he wrapped her entire existence in a warm blanket of safety and she never wanted to let go.

Over his shoulder she could see the broken body of the thing, the monster that had been the Mayor. The black and green creature had broken down the middle, snapped like a twig against the lamppost she had flung it against with all of her strength.

Her arms ached as she finally tore her crying eyes away from the corpse. In front of her, she saw many ponies had stopped and were staring at her. Ignoring the staring, she buried her face in her John's arms. She was tired and lost and she hurt. As her eyes closed, the last thing she saw was her favorite thing in the world looking down at her with concern and fear in his eyes.

Co-Author’s Note: They told me it couldn’t be done! They said it was impossible! But I proved them wrong, I proved them all wrong! I talked Radon18 into WRITING!

Author’s Note: grumble grumble grumble.

On a serious note sleeping meds make you want to sleep ALL THE TIME!

Also I'd like to thank JBL for all of his help in going back and fixing all of the previous chapters. On that note brace for major reuploads!

One last thing... No, Elly was not grinding on John at Pinkie's party.




ladies and gentlemen, we have been featured...


*Proceeds to do silly dances in the middle of the hotel lobby*

Chapter22: Well we are in a sewer you know...

View Online

Chapter 22

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


The small convoy of wagons slowly wormed its way through the snow and frozen brush along the meandering path that connected the Everfree City to the closest trail. Fleetfoot followed along, flitting around the five wagons like a particularly vigilant hummingbird. She had been tasked with escorting the shipment of supplies from Ponyville to the science team and garrison that now resided in the mysterious city. The assignment was a slow paced grind where little happened beyond the occasional timberwolf attack, but she honestly didn't mind. The slow pace and rare trouble gave her a chance to unwind, something she was especially grateful for after the past few days. The light blue mare smiled as the 'gates' of the city came into view. The primitive wall had been torn down and replaced with a tall earthwork wall that had been petrified into a semi-smooth wall of stone. From what she could see, the wall stretched most of the way around the mismatched disk of earth the city sat on. Oddly enough, the unicorn engineers had apparently fallen in love with the coils of bladed wire that had once adorned patches of the scrap-wall and now stretched as far as she could see in either direction.

"Hold for inspection," came a bored sounding voice from one of the gold plated Day Guards that were standing guard over the new entrance.

Fleetfoot glided to the ground in front of the guards, saluted and held out a scroll that had her orders written in it. The guard took the scroll and glanced over it briefly before hoofing it back. Afterward, the pair of Day Guards went from wagon to wagon and checked over the supplies, making sure that no stowaways could sneak into the veritable fortress that the Everfree City had become.

After the guards had checked everypony with the anti-changeling needles (including themselves, by order of Princess Celestia), the convoy quickly headed into the city proper. This was always Fleetfoot's least favorite part of any trip into the Everfree City: looking at the empty and slowly decaying houses that lined every street. It was like looking at a sick parody of one of the larger Equestrian settlements that were generally full of life at nearly any hour.

Fleetfoot grimaced and forced her eyes off of the depressing sights and focused on the perfectly smooth black ribbon that made up the street that the wagons followed. After only a few minutes, the convoy stopped in front of the prison-turned-castle that most of the City's current residents occupied. As she glided down to one of the wagons to help them unload, she couldn't help but notice quite a large collection of wagons being loaded with many non-descript crates and supplies for at least a two day journey. She couldn't help but find it a bit strange the much larger convoy was preparing to move out so late in the day; if they left right this moment they wouldn't even hit Ponyville before nightfall.

With a shake of her head, Fleetfoot cleared her mind of the odd decisions made by those above her pay grade. With a snort and small grunt of effort, she picked up a sack of hay in her teeth before tossing it onto a quickly growing pile.

"Excuse me? You there, regular?" Fleetfoot heard a voice waft up from the ground. It took her a moment to realize that somepony was actually trying to get her attention when the mare's voice repeated her inquiry politely. Fleetfoot wasn't exactly used to ponies not knowing who she was. She looked over the side of the wagon and was greeted with a forest green unicorn mare. Fleetfoot raised an eyebrow questioningly and the mare smiled at having finally gained her attention.

"Umm, hi there. One of the other soldiers said the mail was in this wagon?" the green mare asked, a hopeful lilt to her voice. Fleetfoot looked behind her and spotted the lone sack sporting the Equestrian Royal Mail Service emblem. Snatching it up in her teeth, Fleetfoot tossed it over the side nearly hitting the poor green unicorn on accident.

Fleetfoot needn't have worried as the unicorn caught the heavy sack with ease in an aura of magic, thanked her and trotted off into the makeshift headquarters. Fleetfoot waved to the departing mare before going back to unloading the rest of the hay. After about half of the sacks had been unloaded, she heard yet another voice, this one was gruff and very much a stallion's.

"Ahem, pardon me, Fleetfoot, is it?" Fleetfoot looked over the side of the wagon again and was greeted by the Quartermaster of the Everfree City garrison. The older stallion's name was Mill Stone and he had served in the Royal Guard for decades. He was a dark golden color much like freshly harvested wheat and his age was only just beginning to show through a few grey patches here and there.

"If you'll hoof over your orders, I would like to go ahead and sign them," the aging stallion said. Fleetfoot nodded and tossed the scroll that held her orders to him, which he caught deftly and quickly unrolled. To Fleetfoot's surprise, the Quartermaster pulled out one of the human writing utensils and quickly scribbled his name down on the scroll before tossing it back to her.

"You wouldn't happen to be heading back to Ponyville tonight, would you?" Mill Stone asked as Fleetfoot tucked the scroll away. Fleetfoot just shrugged, she could make it back to Ponyville before sundown easily, she was the fastest of the Wonderbolts after all, but she was curious as to what the aging stallion wanted.

"Well, you see, with so many guards heading out with our convoy there," Mill Stone gestured to the line of wagons who were nearly fully loaded, "We're going to be a little short hoofed tomorrow..."


Professor Crystal Beaker sat quietly at her commandeered desk in what once was some sort of office building. She was on the top floor of the massive glass tower that stretched high into the frigid sky, its many interior lights casting a warm glow over the city through its glass exterior, so different from the brick and mortar buildings of Manehattan.

Crystal Beaker had moved most of the important research into the building only a day ago. The reason? Simply comfort, as the plush offices were by far preferable to the cold interior of the prison-fortress. In front of her were stacks and stacks of reports, both military and scientific. Crystal Beaker may not have led the military aspect of the mission, but after she had persuaded the Royal Guard CO, he had kept her well informed of what his Guards were getting up to.

Outside, at this very moment, was the wagon train full of platinum, research reports and particularly interesting cultural artefacts. Nearly thirty ponies would be making the several days journey back to Canterlot and she couldn't help but frown at the thought of those ponies being hurt. The Enchanters Guild, through Bunsen Burner, had made it plainly obvious that something terrible was going to happen to them.

Crystal Beaker couldn't help but curse her pony nature; the desire to cooperate and prevent harm was something that wasn't something that was easily suppressed. However, she had a desire, something she wanted from the very core of her being: recognition. She wanted to be looked upon with the same reverence that learned ponies heaped on those like the mighty Starswirl and this was just one more thing she was going to have to sacrifice to achieve that goal.

"Princess Luna would hate me for this," Crystal Beaker mumbled to herself as she watched the ill-fated convoy depart to its meeting with disaster.

Crystal Beaker shuffled back to her desk. No matter how much her own actions and desires warred with her pony instincts, she had work that needed to be done. After shaking her head and clearing her thoughts, she picked up another field report, this one having to do with an exhibit a researcher had found in one of the small human museums that dotted the Everfree City. As the Professor's eyes trailed back and forth over the perfect square of paper in front of her (it was faintly amusing how many ponies had taken to using human writing supplies), her eyes widened in astonishment. The student who wrote this report believed that the exhibit was dedicated to an event where humans had managed to walk on the face of the moon.

Crystal Beaker leaned back in the soft office chair that, while soft, still managed to make itself slightly uncomfortable to her pony anatomy. She took several deep breaths and calmed her mind, restoring it to its usual calm and analytic state. "A collection of mortal creatures with no magical ability who can do the impossible..." she mumbled to herself before turning her eyes back to the paper; it described the series of images that the student had found. Nopony had managed to translate the human language yet but with the similarities to diamond dog runes they were making far more progress than they might otherwise have been. It still frustrated the professor that the only pair of living human specimens who could solve that problem virtually instantly would not help with the translation. Still, the description of the images told a fantastic story, one she would look into for herself as soon as she had a moment.

Crystal Beaker had to admit, she misjudged the species. When the female human had hurt two ponies who had only been trying to see to her medical needs Crystal Beaker had thought of them as brutish, animalistic creatures. She had even thought they might have usurped all of these fantastic achievements from some forgotten race of ponies. As she sat in her not-quite-right chair, a thought wiggled its way into her mind as it worked to truly understand the strange and powerful beings she had been sent to study.

'There are two of them, but we could make sure there will be more...'

A grin split the Professor's face. This could be the perfect way to make up for what she had done. A gift that would push the nation of Equestria to new heights in exchange for the recognition she desired. She levitated one of the perfect pieces of human paper over to her, readied one of their ingenious writing utensils with a small click and began to write out her new plan. It would be her gift to the nation who raised her, a gift to ensure a bright future for those who would look back at her in awe at her brilliance.


(The following morning)

Fleetfoot sighed and rolled her eyes in exasperation at the two science ponies she was ‘escorting.’ They had been jabbering on and on about the news pamphlet that the green unicorn she had nearly squashed with the mail bag the day before had carried in her magic and the fact that they were currently trotting through a sewer didn't help the former Wonderbolt's mood at all.

"I still can hardly believe the changelings attacked Ponyville of all places," the unicorn mare said to the slate-grey earth pony to her right.

"It was probably symbolic, Green Leaf, showing us that nowhere is safe if they are willing to attack the residence of the Elements themselves," the earth pony replied while chipping away at a piece of the stone tunnel they all found themselves in. "I have some plant life here, under the loose stones, very scummy," he mumbled.

The unicorn levitated a small sample of the substance over to herself, silently taking note of the scum's characteristics. After a few moments of study, she flicked it aside and finished scribbling something in a notebook. "Hey Stone Slate?" she asked after a moment.

"Hmm?" the earth pony hummed back, probably to show that he was listening despite not turning away from his work.

"Did you hear the humans were involved in the changeling attack?" Green Leaf asked.

Stone Slate turned and looked at the unicorn mare in surprise. "No, I hadn't, where did you hear that from?" he asked, a cautious tone in his voice.

Fleetfoot resisted the urge to lean in to listen to the answer. This was one of the things she was best at, information gathering, the trick was to simply make yourself appear unimportant. Ponies, and many other creatures, often spilled important information when they thought nopony worthy of thought was in the room. Fleetfoot already knew all about the attack, she was nearby when it happened, but it would still be interesting to hear what this mare had to say and where she got her information from way out here in the Everfree.

"I have a relative who lives there, Golden Harvest, she was eating dinner when she heard the commotion." After a moment, Green Leaf continued after making sure she had Stone's attention. "She went to go find out what was happening and she saw the human female nearly snap a changeling in two."

Stone Slate's eyes widened as he stared at the green unicorn. "Wow, I knew that humans must be strong but that is ridiculous!" he hissed in a low tone. "What happened after that?" he asked.

Green Leaf leaned in and was almost whispering now. "The Commander of the Ponyville garrison was there, she ordered the soldiers to take both the female human and the mayor to the hospital and stay to guard them."

"The mayor survived?" Stone asked as he leaned back in astonishment.

Green Leaf nodded. "Yes, she survived by managing to crawl into a cabinet in her desk, she only had some minor burns and some nasty smoke inhalation."

"We should move on, I have everything I need here." Stone had to force himself to remember why they were down here in this sewer to begin with. "How about you, need any more samples?"

Green Leaf shook her head and gathered up her equipment. "I have everything I need.”

Stone returned her nod and started trotting deeper into the tunnel system, Green Leaf just behind him. Fleetfoot paused for only a moment before quickly following after the pair of academics. After only a few minutes of trotting, Fleetfoot heard Stone's voice from ahead of her. "So what about the male?" he asked, keeping his gaze forward.

It took a moment for Green Leaf to figure out that Stone was asking her a question. "What? Oh, um, yeah he was there. From what Golden Harvest wrote, it sounded like he wanted to carry the female all the way to the hospital himself but the Elements stopped him."

"The Elements? Why would they stop him?" Stone Slate stopped and turned around in surprise.

Green Leaf fidgeted a little under his gaze. "I don't know, he was still pretty messed up when they shipped him back to Ponyville… maybe he is still too injured for anything like that."

Stone nodded to himself and turned to trot on down the damp stone tunnel. "Oh yeah, that makes sense. Luna messed him up pretty badly from what I remember."

Green Leaf hummed in agreement and shivered, probably remembering that unpleasant night as the trio continued on down the tunnel. When they came to a transition from the traditional style stone into what seemed to be a featureless grey substance, Stone stopped to take a scraping of the wall.

Fleetfoot watched the pair like a silent hawk and after a few moments of Stone grunting in effort and grumbling about needing "a sharper chisel," Green Leaf began to look around for any plant life she could catalogue, but the featureless grey material offered no nooks or crannies for fungus or moss to cling so she headed on a little ways forward into the dark.

After a few minutes, both Fleetfoot and Stone Slate were startled by a loud "UGH!" That came from the darkness.

"Green? What did you find?" Stone Slate called down the pipe.

"You should see this, it smells disgusting!" Green Leaf called back.

"Well we are in a sewer you know," Stone replied with a little bit of mirth in his voice. Fleetfoot also couldn't suppress a grin and covered it with a hoof and fake cough.

"No you moron, it's some kind of plant," Green Leaf replied, finally emerging from the darkness and waving a hoof at them to come see her discovery.

Stone looked around at the almost scoured looking stone walls and seemed to have his curiosity piqued. "A plant? In this area? Okay, this I gotta see." Stone Slate trotted off into the dark after Green Leaf with Fleetfoot not far behind.

After a few moments of walking, they came to a larger open area that seemed to be almost completely made of metal piping. Along the walls, a thick slimy black root seemed to nearly choke the room. Many of the side passages and pipes were nearly completely filled with the strange plant.

"Well this isn't creepy at all," Stone said sarcastically as he followed Green Leaf over to one of the roots that were covered in hundreds of tiny tendrils. They reminded Fleetfoot of the eyestalks of slugs or snails as they waved back and forth in a non-existent wind.

"Watch what happens when I try to take a sample," Green Leaf said as her horn lit up and she pulled out a scalpel. When she tried to slice off one of the waving stalks, it withdrew seamlessly into the black root, almost like it was a fluid. However, the worst part was the sudden overpowering smell of rotting meat that came from the twitching root that almost had everypony in the room gagging for breath.

"Oh goodness, what is that awful smell!?" Stone shouted as he pinched his nostrils shut with his hooves. Fleetfoot backed a little further out of the room and waved a hoof in front of her face as her eyes watered at the disgusting stench.

"Where exactly are we?" Green Leaf asked from her spot next to the plant, her nasal fortitude apparently greater than anypony alive.

Stone pulled out a map of the sewers that had been made by Night Guard scouts and looked it over for a moment before pointing a hoof at a junction point near the edge of the map. "We're right under the refinery," he said, using the human word Chris or John or whatever his name was had used when he was questioned about it.

"This thing is magical!" Green Leaf suddenly called out. She had her horn glowing and the spell washed back and forth over the strange (and creepy) plant. The plant rippled and the tiny stalks seemed to wave in her direction.

"And that's a big deal... Why? We are in the Everfree forest and pretty much any plant has some sort of magic ability," Stone Slate said as his professional curiosity got the better of him and he moved to examine one of the many metal pipes that lined the walls.

"It's a big deal because none of the plants native to the Everfree City contains any trace of magic in them. It's one of the reasons I was so unnerved the first few days," Green Leaf said as she prodded one of the larger roots with a hoof. "This place has its own unique biosphere that has no analogue anywhere else on Equis. Haven't you noticed how most of the plants here don't feel real?" she asked, turning to the grey earth pony.

"Not really, but I'm not a botanist so I haven't exactly been paying attention to what the trees looked like," Stone Slate said as he tapped on the pipe he was examining.

Tap Tap Tap

Fleetfoot turned to glance around the cramped pipe and root covered room. The two science ponies worked on their own projects and hadn't even so much as glanced at each other after the previous conversation died.

Tap Tap Tap

Fleetfoot's ears flopped back and forth as the slate grey stallion tapped on a pipe in the wall with a small metal tool he had pulled out of his bag. The noise was grating but she had had to deal with much worse in the past.

Tap Tap Tap

Fleetfoot grit her teeth as the noise was starting to become even more irritating. She was only one moment away from marching over and causing some accident that nopony would be able to pin on her.

Tap Tap Tap

Tap Tap Tap

Fleetfoot slid behind the grey earth pony with wrath in her eyes, the strap of his bag could quite easily be tripped over and cause him to accidentally tie himself up and spill its contents. As she prepared for her nefarious prank, the bewildered face of her target gave her pause. With suspicion on Stone Slate's face, he reached out and tapped the metal pipes one more time.

Tap Tap Tap

Tap Tap Tap

Stone Slate and Fleetfoot both looked up at the odd echo. What they saw was something out of their worst nightmares.

Its body was that of some poor, unfortunate bear's skull; the monster wore it like some kind of demented hermit crab. A pair of scythe-like arms emerged from the body and Fleetfoot could tell they were sharpened rib bones, probably from the same bear that lost its skull to whatever this monster was. The bleached bones were held together with some sort of stringy black goop that seemed to act like tendons or muscles. Behind the head were the remains of a spine covered with much smaller legs, a dozen or more, that held the abomination to the pipe above them. The creature raised itself up off the pipe slightly and tucked the two massive bladed limbs under itself where it rubbed them together with the harsh sound of bone grinding against bone.

Fleetfoot could feel Stone's muscles coiling up, preparing to bolt as fast as the stallion's legs could carry him. Running would only spur the creature to chase and Fleetfoot really didn't want to end up lost in the vast and complicated tunnel system that made up these sewers. Slowly, almost delicately, Fleetfoot slipped a wing around Stone's neck. The stallion jumped at the contact but relented to her control as she slowly backed them away from the creature.

Green Leaf was completely oblivious to the situation, until Fleetfoot's other wing slipped around her neck and muffled her surprised gasp. When the mare was turned around to face the threat the wing over her mouth muffled the scream and Fleetfoot's tight grip kept the unicorn from bolting and drawing the creature's ire. All three ponies slowly backed towards the tunnel they had entered from as the bulbous centipede-like creature slowly crawled down the pipe and then across the ground towards them. The monster kept a set of reflective patches inside of the former bear's eye sockets and former nasal cavity trained on them as the trio made slow progress out of the room.

The creature followed the trio of ponies right to the mouth of the tunnel before it stopped, looked around and then turned to do something with the creepy roots. After it didn't turn back toward them, Fleetfoot urged her charges into a measured trot and then a full gallop down the tunnel and back the way they had come.

They ran as fast as the cramped tunnel allowed and it wasn't long until they found one of the many metal disks that covered the access points to the tunnel network. Remaining in shocked silence, the two science ponies clambered up the ladder. Stone Slate practically flinging the metal cover from its place before turning to haul Green Leaf the rest of the way out of the hole. Fleetfoot was the last to emerge as she burst from the pipe with a gust of wind from her powerful wings. As the science ponies collapsed and gasped for air on the pavement, Fleetfoot quickly found the metal cover and pulled it back into place and let herself slump down with relief.

"What the HAY are those things!" Green Leaf shouted in a shrill voice, hopping to her feet to look at Fleetfoot who could only shake her head.

"It looked like one of the things that attacked us the night we arrived," Stone Slate offered as he shakily picked himself up off the pavement.

"You don't think I figured that much out!? This entire trip has been nothing but insanity!" Green Leaf shouted back, only to collapse again with a sigh. "I should have gone to Hayle."

Chapter23: The Chapter In Which Nothing Happens On a Train

View Online

Chapter 23

(Reminder that I own nothing!)



“Words in a foreign language.”

“Quoting in thought”


A dark, pony-like silhouette lounged among a large pile of richly colored pillows and cushions. The darkness concealed finely hewn stone walls covered in silk banners and handsome stone carvings, only appreciable by one who was attuned to the lightless environment. The figure's side barely rose and fell, usually a sign of weakness or deep thought. In the case of the figure, it was a little of both as what little light was cast by the few, dim, crystalline fixtures glinted off of a carapace covered in cracks and abrasions, yet the figure, despite being in much pain, remained motionless and serene. Her mind was occupied, stretching far beyond the normal bounds of her mortal self and into the vast network of consciousness that made up her hive.

A cloth covering the entrance to a nearby tunnel was shifted aside, but the figure remained motionless. The drone began to smear her battered carapace with a sticky salve. Despite the pain of the drone’s inexpertly administered medical care, the queen did not wake from her trance. Her consciousness flicked over the memories of domestic drones, hardened soldiers, and far flung spies in rapid succession. All of them being routed to the most efficient means to achieve the goals of the hive.

She paused a moment at one peculiar memory. It was a vision of the aftermath of the attack on Ponyville, the accursed domicile of the favored pets of the Solar Princess, the Elements of Harmony. The attack had been a success, even if it had cost the drone that had carried it out. The message was clear - nowhere was safe so long as Queen Chrysalis felt the war between her hive and the ponies of Equestria was not over.

Still... the circumstances behind the death of this drone had intrigued her for the past few days. The final sight of its life was a strange minotaur-like creature among the ponies, its face contorted in anger and fear as it wrapped the drone's spine around a streetlight. The phantom feeling of bones being shattered like so much pottery made the great queen cringe as she poured over the image. There was also a moment of... it could only be described as allure, imbedded in the memory moments before the drone ceased to be. The red-headed creature felt... delicious. The sensation of viewing this particular memory was like looking through a glass window at exotic delicacies while a train barreled towards her, just barely perceptible in the corner of her eye.

Chrysalis browsed back through the drone's recent memories. She recalled that particular drone had attended a press event, presided over by the princesses themselves. Ah, there it was. Her eyes raked up and down the pair of creatures on the stage. The male felt lifeless and plain, its emotions barely a trickle, at least from what she could pick out from the sea of emotions generated by the large crowd of ponies. She shifted her attention to the obviously feminine creature that stood next to the dull male. This creature was completely different; its emotions shone like a blinding beacon. Chrysalis considered the overwhelming feeling - it was glorious, glorious love flowing outward like water from a burst dam. However, there was also more. Below the love and need and adoration and a hint of lust, there was a smoldering flavor of rage, jealousy, hatred, and so much pain. It was almost intoxicating. It was a sweet ambrosia that almost made the mighty Queen of the changelings swoon with desire. This creature would no doubt be a fine asset and feed many new drones for the hive. That was, of course, if Chrysalis didn't decide to secret the creature away to serve as her own private food source.

Chrysalis' thoughts were interrupted by a sudden twinge of pain that signified the death of one of her drones. Pulled from her musings, she flicked over the last image the drone had seen. She had expected maybe a tunneling accident or a spy having been found out and eliminated. Instead, what she found was another Ponyville spy. Its last sight was of the interior of a dark alley. Strangely, there was no emotion of panic or fear associated with the image that would normally be present if a spy had been fleeing and struck down from behind.

Another twinge of pain pulled Chrysalis' thoughts from the strange occurrence. Again flicking to the final memory, this one came from a drone attempting to infiltrate the large operation at the place the ponies had dubbed 'The Everfree City'. Oddly, the drone had not even managed to get anywhere close to its objective and had instead been killed just after entering the forest itself. Its final vision was of a scythe-like appendage plunging into its throat. Chrysalis slowly played the memory in reverse. The limb slowly wrenched itself free from the throat in which it had been lodged. As the memory backed further into the past, Chrysalis could see an odd creature out of the right corner of the late drone's vision. It was spindly and appeared to be almost an animated collection of some poor creature's bones. There was no fear, no surprise. Whatever it was had taken her drone with total stealth. The drone had never even comprehended what had killed it.

There was another twinge, and another! Chrysalis was becoming alarmed as the last visions of the dying drones revealed them to all be in or around Ponyville. Another twinge caused her alarm to climb into a panic as she quickly ordered every member of her hive even remotely close to Ponyville to flee to safe areas as quickly as they could.

Chrysalis lifted a hoof and pressed it into her temple. Five drones lost mere moments apart, and strange things were happening in Ponyville. She could not afford to lose her grip on what was occurring. Her gossamer wings flickered with movement as she felt yet another twinge of pain. Six drones. She would need to discover what was killing her children before she could return her attention back to where it belonged - her revenge.


Awareness returned to my sluggish mind, and I couldn't help but curse to myself as I felt the sudden cold bite at my toes. I quickly curled them up under the blanket, or would have if the blanket hadn't been kicked off at some point in the night. I slowly pushed my cold, stiff body up out of my bed and looked around the room sleepily. The unfamiliar mint-green decor caused a momentary spike of panic, but the fear passed quickly as my memory returned, and I recognized Elly's hospital room.


I quickly sprang (or stumbled, to be more accurate) to my feet and looked around the room, the fear once again creeping into my thoughts. 'Oh please, God, let her be alright.' Thankfully, it only took a moment to find her right where I had left her when I had gone to bed. She was sleeping on her hospital bed, apparently still as comatose as she had been after she collapsed. I let out a breath I hadn't realized I was holding and shuffled over to her bedside. I took her hand and stroked it slowly. This wasn't the way she was supposed to be. She was supposed to be lively and happy and energetic, but all she was now was still. Still like death.

I had only known Elly for a few days, and yet I found myself more than a little lost without her upbeat and childish demeanor. The girl's wild, red hair even looked limp and lifeless. I felt a momentary spike of anger flare through my body. The ponies had all acted so afraid of us - even the soldiers who carried her to the hospital had shot us wary looks. Sure, I had been as surprised by what had happened as everyone else, but I already knew Elly was really strong for her size. 'That wasn't natural.' That monster, whatever it was, had scared her so badly. 'How did she even see it?' How could they look at her like that? From what little I had gathered, she had done them all a favor! 'She destroyed it with nothing but her hands.'


I jumped and turned around to find one of the nurses peeking into the room, causing me to click my tongue in irritation at the scare. I remembered her white coat and pink mane. She had been one of the only ponies focused on her job instead of getting caught up in the gossip. I was grateful, but I just couldn't remember her name.

"Good morning. Just here to check up on you both," she said, slipping fully into the room and nudging the door closed with a hind leg. "How are you holding up?"

I blinked in confusion. "Me? I'm not the one you should be worried about. Miss...?" I finally managed to say after a few moments of berating myself over forgetting in the first place.

"Redheart," the nurse simply said as she went about checking the IV drip and Elly's vitals. "You’re in almost as bad a shape as your friend here, if in a different way," she mumbled through clenched teeth as she pulled the blanket covering Elly up a little higher.

I winced at all the little twinges of pain I felt at being reminded of my own injures. I tried to resist, but I finally looked down at the red and swollen skin around the stitches that had been replaced when I reopened a few of my injuries. It was also the moment I realized I was wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts.

'Oh well, it's not like they don't spend all their time naked anyway.'

The cuts and bruises flared and started to itch the longer I looked at them, so I tore my eyes away and settled for watching Redheart go about her business. "They aren't that bad," I said, resisting the urge to scratch at one.

Redheart snorted and rolled her eyes. "Stallions, always have to try and act tough."

I couldn't help but smile a little at her attitude. "That's because I am tough," I said, playing along for the moment and glad to have a distraction from my thoughts.

"Mmhmm, tough as an exceptionally fluffy kitten, if you listen to the stuff Miss Fluttershy has been telling ponies when they ask about you two." Redheart, apparently finished with Elly, approached me and motioned at the other hospital bed. "Now sit down and let me get a look at those stitches," she said, her tone stern.

"They're fine," I mumbled as I sat down anyway, my mind instead on the few ponies I would go out of my way to call friends. 'Wonder how Fluttershy and Applejack are taking it.'

"I'll be the judge of that," Redheart said as she started poking and prodding at the stitches, all hoof sewn because of my aversion to magic. As her hoof tested the wounds, I would unconsciously reach up to scratch at them, only for the nurse to bat my hand away with a hoof.

"If you don't stop trying to pick at them, you're going to wish you were back in Princess Luna's tender hooves," Redheart said after she had grown tired of my antics.

I winced and looked away. "How did you hear about that?" I said, looking anywhere but at the nurse.

"I told her. She needed to know about the original cause of the wounds," came a familiar voice from the doorway. I groaned to myself, Twilight wasn't my favorite pony, but I at least expected her to know that the incident in question needed to be kept out of the public eye.

The purple mare stepped into the room and quickly set about recharging the isolation spell around Elly and myself. "There we are, you should be okay for another day," Twilight said as she sat at the foot of my bed like a large dog, watching Redheart finish wrapping fresh bandages around my torso.

"Thanks, Twilight," I said halfheartedly before quickly turning my attention back to Redheart. "Equestria has doctor-patient confidentiality right?" I asked, a little nervous she might blab about the events which led to my near squishing of Celestia.

"Of course; you don't need to worry. In fact, the doctors have known about that incident for a while," Redheart answered before quickly speaking up again. "The guard medics told us what happened, just in case."

"Thanks for keeping that a secret," I said, shooting the nurse a grateful smile.

"Just doing what I got my cutie mark for. Twilight, I'll be getting out of your mane. Please don't break him again. It's too much of a pain to put him back together," Redheart joked as she headed for the door.

Twilight waved a hoof at Redheart as she slipped out. "No promises!" I couldn't help but snort at the bark of laughter that came from the other side of the door.

"Now, down to business," Twilight said, pulling out a few sheets of parchment and writing utensils from the ether. “I’m sure you know by now that the incident near the town hall day before yesterday has raised a lot of questions concerning your...” Twilight paused for a moment, chewing on the end of her quill “… mental stability, and how safe it is to be around either of you.”

I let out a sound of disgust and flopped back into my bed. “You know... I wish I could be as cruel as you, Twilight.” I couldn't help the smirk that crept onto my face as I heard Twilight choke and sputter.

“C-Cruel!?” Twilight stuttered. “I'm not!” she spat angrily after recovering from her mental derailment.

“Hmm, maybe you're right. Cruel is too strong of a word. Try insensitive. Why don't you look at the question you just asked me?” I sat up and tossed my pillow at the purple unicorn. She just batted it away with her magic, stunned by my sudden bitterness. “Am I mentally stable? Is Elly?” I paused and looked off the end of the mattress at her. “I'm not a shrink, but I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Neither one of us is the picture of mental health. You wanna know why?”

“Your displacement?” Twilight asked, suddenly a lot quieter. “You were alone for a long time, weren't you?”

“I knew there was a reason your friends all said you were the smart one,” I said, flopping back onto my mattress. “I have no idea what happened to Elly during the three months I was here alone.” I felt the regret and the guilt for not trying harder when I could have saved her at least a little grief wash over me, and I visibly wilted. “She was terrified of that monster. She probably had a bad experience with one."

“Changeling,” Twilight said quietly. “But why did she...?”

“Kill it?” I said, pulling my arms over my stomach and weaving the fingers together as I stared at the ceiling. “Humans call it fight or flight. It’s our basic reaction to fear. Most of the time when we are really scared, we either run or we try to destroy whatever frightens us.” ‘It was unnatural.’

“But you didn't react to it like she did.” Twilight hopped up on the foot of the bed, looking at me.

I nodded at her. “That’s because I'm a coward.” Twilight’s eyes widened slightly, but she just shifted and beckoned me to continue. “I took my eyes off her and she found that thing… But instead of being there, I was watching the fire. I wanted to intervene when I heard her screaming, but I couldn't move… not until it was already over.” I shook my head in disgust at myself. Why did it have to be me? Why was I the one sent here to watch over Elly? I was a failure at the ONE thing I had to be able to do. “By the way, how’s the mayor doing?” I asked rolling my head back to look at the plain, white ceiling.

“She is better. They are taking her to Canterlot today to heal her burns. That’s the other reason I came to talk to you," Twilight said from the foot of the bed. "The doctors want to transfer Eleison to Canterlot; they have more 'alternative medicine' specialists.’ They are confident that if anypony can help her without magic, it will be the doctors there."

I nodded at her and felt my aimless anger begin to ebb. "When do we leave?" I muttered tiredly.

"Today, if you want. There are just two more things I needed to ask you," Twilight said, fixing me with a serious look which, now that I think about it, looks adorable on a pony. It’s like a toddler trying to act like a grown up. I just nodded again and motioned for her to continue.

"How do you think Eleison was able to sense the changeling? Can humans feel them somehow?" Twilight gazed at me intently, gauging my reaction.

I just shrugged my shoulders. "No idea, it was over by the time I was able to look."

Twilight looked disappointed but accepting of my ignorance. "Was the strength Eleison displayed typical to your species?" Twilight asked as she scribbled on her parchment.

"That's three questions." I said, grinning at Twilight's irritated expression. "But I guess the answer is yes. Sort of. I mean, Elly didn't really do anything superhuman, it's just rare that it happens." 'It wasn't normal and you know it.'

"More of those 'basic reactions' you talked about?" Twilight quietly queried as she scribbled with her quill.

"Yeah, actually. A human can do crazy stuff if we are scared or angry enough," I said, tucking my arms behind my head to replace the pillow I chucked at Twilight earlier. "So can we leave now?"

Twilight nodded as she finished whatever she was writing and banished the parchment with a puff of smoke and light. "Sure, just let me go get the doctor and your clothes. Do you need to go get anything from your home?"

"No, there isn't. Let's just get going," I said, jumping to my feet and carefully stretching my aching body.

Twilight looked at me with an odd expression. "Are you sure? It won't take any extr—"

"Yes, I'm sure. Now hurry up," I barked, becoming impatient.

Twilight frowned and grumbled to herself as she made her way out into the hallway. I sighed and turned back towards Eleison's still form. "Don't worry, you'll get better," I said. Whether I meant it to Elly or myself, I wasn't sure.


The train ride to Canterlot was… lively. Twilight, in spite of my impatient insistence to 'just go already’, had gathered up her friends and herded them all onto the train. I was seated in the back next to a special place to tie down hospital gurneys. Seated next to me was a pair of earth pony nurses I hadn't met and who I always kept in the corner of my eye. In the seats in front of us were Twilight and her friends, all chatting away as young women universally seem to do. The Jerk was there too but I don't care enough to talk about him.

Half-heartedly, I would try to catch snippets of their conversations over the quiet rumble of the train. The two nurses, a stallion and a mare, sat as quietly as I did, apparently too nervous around me to shoot the breeze. From what I gathered, Twilight, Fluttershy, and Applejack were going to join me at the hospital while Rarity was going to spend some time on the town. I never caught what Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash had planned to do, but I had pretty much stopped listening by that point.

As the hours passed, I entertained myself by peering out the window at the lush countryside. I could barely make out a road in the distance, and I wondered at a little curl of smoke I could see coming from a thick patch of trees. Only a few minutes later, the brakes came on with a screech of grinding metal, and I perked up to look around, wondering why. The train ground to a stop just before we would have begun our climb up the mountain, and I could hear the girls speculating about the reason.

I stuck my head out of the window and looked down the side of the train and spotted six dirty Solar Guards. They loaded up some battered and burned looking crates, as well as what looked like piles of garbage and wrapped bundles into one of the cars before boarding. Soon after, the train lurched into motion again, and the incident was forgotten.

The rest of the trip to Canterlot was uneventful, and Twilight had assured the girls that the guards were probably just returning from some training exercise, so no one bothered them and allowed them to rest. The view from the mountain was incredible as the pink, frilly train pulled into the station.

"Canterlot! End of the line!" called a pony in a blue suit and hat. "Please gather your belongings and enjoy your stay in the capitol!"

The girls quickly gathered the few things they had brought with them (and a giant pile of luggage that belonged to Rarity) and made their way onto the platform. I quickly stood to help with Elly's gurney and assisted the two nurses hauling it out of the train.

"Why are they all staring at us?" one of the nurses, a brown stallion, whispered to the other, a dark blue mare.

"Maybe it has to do with the eighteen hoof tall foreigner behind us?" she replied after the gurney's wheels were firmly planted on solid ground.

"Oh yeah," the stallion replied dumbly. My interest piqued, I turned to get a look at who was staring.

The station was filled with dozens of ponies, all staring at me. It was a bit unnerving, but I'd gotten pretty used to gawking crowds back in Ponyville, so they weren’t that hard to tune out. I turned to find Twilight and the rest of the girls and whistled loudly, waving them over when I spotted them. Suddenly, my world was pink. Pinkie had darted across the platform faster than I could blink. "Hey! Ready to have some fun in Canterlot?" Pinkie bounced on all fours, reminding me a bit of those little yappy dogs that launch themselves into the air when they want something.

"I'm here for the hospital, remember?” I asked, taking a few involuntary steps back.

"I meant after that, silly!"

I thought about that for a second while Pinkie seemed to practically hang in mid-air. 'Just ignore the lack of physics.' Even though I wanted to make absolutely sure everything was alright before I left the hospital, I saw no harm in running around town for an hour or two. "You know what? Why not? After we get done, it would be alright to check out the city,” I said, nodding to the whole group who had just caught up. 'I could really use a distraction, anyway.'

"Oh, this is going to be fun-a-rific!" Pinkie said, resuming the bouncing at an impossible speed. 'How is she suddenly falling faster?'

Rarity flicked her mane with a hoof. "I think I'll take my leave, darlings. There are some new shops that I simply must visit. I will see you afterwards. Ta ta," she said before quickly vanishing into the crowd. Despite not knowing Rarity all that well, I waved goodbye along with the rest of her friends.

Rainbow Dash was the next to speak up, and I had to consciously make an effort not to tune her out. "I've got somepony to find... Be back later!" she called as she zipped over to where the Jer— I mean Soarin was standing and dragged him around a corner.

I couldn't help but wonder if they were up to anything. 'Secret date maybe?' I noticed the remaining ponies also shooting strange looks in the direction Rainbow had gone, but none of them said anything, so neither did I.

Fluttershy gently nudged me from behind when the nurse-ponies started wheeling Elly towards one of the exits. As the group started after them, I saw the dirty, tired looking guard-ponies from earlier unloading the crates and burned garbage. A glint of light caught my eye on top of the pile, and I thought I saw some very non-pony figures looking up from a shattered picture frame. Before I could get a good look, the guard-ponies tossed a tarp over the pile, and I pushed the oddity into the back of my mind.


Rainbow Dash peeked around the corner of the ticket booth where she had roughly pulled an armored Soarin. Some ponies gave her odd looks for that, but this was too important to worry about little things. "You find out anything good?" Soarin asked, prodding her in the back with a hoof.

Rainbow Dash didn't answer until she couldn't see her friends or the humans in the throng of ponies. "Not since that whole changeling thing. How about you?" her scratchy, tomboyish, voice answered as she turned to face him.

Soarin puffed up his chest looking more than a little smug. "Yeah. Some regulars came back from a trip to the Everfree before we left. They said they found some kind of monsters in the sewers; looked like skeletons held together with black bubble gum. That sound like the thing you saw in the field?"

Rainbow Dash put a hoof under her chin in thought as she hovered in place. "Kinda. Did they say anything else?"

Soarin shook his head. "Nothing much. Just something about a weird, magical plant."

Rainbow shook her head. This would be so much easier if they could get somepony smart like Twilight to help. "I don't know about that, but I feel like we're getting closer!" She said making a determined gesture with her hooves. "You keep watching the big one, and I'll take care of the little one."

Soarin nodded and quickly took off towards his post before he could be missed. Rainbow Dash jumped and cupped the air in her wings, launching up into the air and away from the train station. Looking down at Canterlot, she took a moment to find the hospital. As soon as she spotted the building, she went off like a cannon shot.


The endless plain stretched out before the Princess of the Night. The form of the dream was odd, but not anything entirely new. It was like an infinite expanse of glass that melted away as she strode forward, the grassland rising to meet her hoofsteps.

The dreamer stood on a grassy hill before her, its form both familiar and alien. As she drew nearer, the grassland exploded into complete existence around her and, despite appearing to be full of life, it felt absolutely desolate. As she neared the foot of the hill, the form of the dreamer was made plain. The silhouette of a human female roughly matching the dreamer's true form was standing and joyfully laughing despite having no mouth with which to laugh. The shape was pitch black and possessed few features aside from a pair of glowing, white, featureless eyes, and legs that, while feminine, seemed to be joined together rather than remain separated like true limbs. Tentacles whipped about the air around the being, growing from the spot where her feet touched the ground as if she had used them to nail herself to the earth, lest she drift into the sky.

Changing one's own shape in a dream was odd but not at all unheard of. Luna focused on the nearly featureless face. The white eyes were bent as though the creature before her was happy to see her, but Luna highly doubted it even knew of her presence. She could sense another dream coming from the black form and that was what was truly unknown to her. It was like the human had a mind within another and they were both at dreaming.

With a trembling hoof, Luna reached out to attempt to touch the dream within a dream. The moment she made contact, the black form, once staring off into the distance, turned its eyes to her. Luna felt strange, like looking upon one's greatest fear and favorite moment rolled into one. She lost her power over the dreamscape and was suddenly and violently, ejected.

Princess Luna abruptly sat up in her bed, cold sweat gleaming on her normally pristine coat. A moment before, she had been dream walking, and she shivered slightly at the strangeness of what she had seen.

Co-Author's Comment: Oh no… John isn’t even a brony and he’s already started shipping random characters. HOPE IS LOST! REPENT! REPENT! -Admari

Author's Comment: Everypony flee for your lives THE END IS NEIGH!!
Well no not really... more like middle-ish. For those of you worried about the dwindling religious content of the chapters. I'm going somewhere with that.

Chapter24: Rarity loves soup... The End

View Online

Chapter 24

(Reminder that I own nothing!)

“Words in a foreign language.”
“Quoting in thought”


"What do you mean they have been killed?!" Celestia practically screamed into Luna's ear. Under normal circumstances, Luna would tell her to 'use her inside voice' and follow it up with a harmless mocking or playful jibes. Unfortunately the circumstances were far from normal.

"Yes, Your Highness. They were ambushed early yesterday, sometime just after sunrise.” A stout looking Solar guard stood at attention as he delivered the grave news. "There was only a single survivor, a cook by the name Trail Mix. He is in the hospital here in Canterlot and is being treated for his injuries."

"And what of the cargo? How much was lost?" Luna spoke up. Celestia shot her a look but somepony had to worry about consequences beyond the tragic loss of life.

"There was no sign of the special cargo when we spotted the site. The manifest we recovered claimed that they were transporting three kilofeathers of platinum. All other cargo was burned, but a team was sent to recover what they could," The Guard rattled off the circumstances of the mornings gruesome discovery while maintaining his mask of stoic professionalism.

Luna shot Celestia a worried look. "Three kilofeathers..." Luna said worriedly. At the sight of the Night Princess' nervousness, the formerly stout guard suddenly looked shaken.

Celestia shot her sister a small glare. She was worried, nay terrified of the potential consequences of the terrible news, but she knew better than to spread her fear to her subordinates. Even if she wanted to do nothing more than hide under her bed like a little filly, she had no choice but to act the part of the unshakable leader. "Do not worry, my little pony, this will be dealt with swiftly. When you are done here, order the castle to full alert, ready the unicorns, and muster the regulars. I also want all the deactivated reserves in Canterlot to report for duty in three hours at the most. Ensure that the scouts comb every inch of ground between here and the borders. Finally, you are to set up checkpoints and roadblocks on any roads that pass within a two hundred kilohoof radius of Canterlot or the site of the attack." Celestia stamped her hoof as if to punctuate her orders.

"Yes, Your Highness!" The guard saluted and ran out of the throne room, no longer looking nervous but filled with determination.

Luna watched the guard depart and, once the doors thundered closed, turned to her sister with a worried look. "This is a disaster! That shipment was a closely kept secret! How could this have happened?"

Celestia frowned and kept her gaze on the distant door. "I do not know, but we will find whomever is responsible for this," she hissed.

Luna winced at that look. Memories of the last time she had seen her sister so worked up crept into her mind like stubborn vines. After only a few short minutes, as if by an unheard signal, both royal sisters rose from their thrones and headed towards a small door hidden behind a curtain. The door opened into a short hallway, just wide enough for the sisters to comfortably walk in single file. The hallway ended in a cramped, round room furnished with sparsely with simple chairs, a large table covered with a scale model of the Equestrian landscape, and heavy, red curtains covering one half of the room’s circumference. Two ponies in rumbled military dress were already looking over the map when Celestia and Luna entered.

"Would you mind explaining why one of my guardsponies practically broke down my door a moment ago, Your Highnesses?" A grizzled looking, grey pony said in a voice that sounded more like shifting stones than should be possible.

"In a moment, Major Steel. For now, have my orders already been distributed?" Celestia asked as she took a seat the circular table.

"Yes, Your Highness. As many of our forces as possible should be deploying in moments." The grizzled old stallion pulled open one of the thick, red velvet curtains that encircled the room. The occupants all turned to see dozens of silver and gold armored pegasi lift off and quickly fan out over the city.

"Very good. First things first. General Faux, I would like for you to pull half of the garrisons from each city and spread them out to cover as much of the borders as possible. We cannot allow our target to escape." Celestia gestured to the model as she spoke.

"B-but Your Highness, t-the c-c-changelings—" General Faux answered in her distinctive stutter.

"This is far more pressing. The changelings are a mere inconvenience in comparison!" Luna interrupted. "All of Equestria may be in danger if we fail!"

"W-w-what is g-going on?" General Faux asked, a sliver of fear only momentarily rising to the surface before the copper colored mare managed to get ahold of herself.

"This morning, a shipment of platinum and human artifacts from the Everfree City was attacked and their cargo was stolen," Luna answered with a grave look on her face.

"How much?" Major Steel asked, eyes wide in shock.

"Three kilofeathers," Luna answered.

The two officers' mouths fell open, and General Faux shivered in fear.

"Kilo..." Steel trailed off. He hadn't been privy to the situation beyond the bare basics. "Unenchanted?" He breathed, wincing as Celestia just nodded.

"Oh t-this is bad." General Faux curled her forehooves in and rocked back and forth like a terrified foal. "B-bad, bad, bad, bad, bad," she muttered.

"Get a hold of yourselves! We must contain this!" Luna hissed at the terrified officers, snapping them out of their stupors.

"Yes, Your Highness!" Both shaken officers saluted, and after a moment of regaining their composure, began to pore over the model on the table, General Faux rapidly moving pieces around while Major Steel began writing out the orders at a pace that would give Twilight Sparkle a run for her money.

"Do you think it will be enough, sister?" Luna turned to Celestia, who was looking less and less confident with every passing moment.

Celestia stared at the rapidly moving pieces without muttering a word.


Runic Nexus looked up from his tinkering as a familiar mare slipped through the door to his office. Bunsen Burner was panting and seemed twitchy and unsettled, but that was the farthest thing from his mind at the moment. The saddlebags on the mare’s back held his complete attention, swollen with a pair of small boxes that had the Guildmaster grinning with giddy anticipation. “Is that what I think it is?” Nexus asked as he quickly abandoned his workbench. The mysteries of human technology still eluded him, and he was thankful for the distraction.

“Yes, Guildmaster, this is what the griffons found.” Bunsen Burner pushed her glasses up her nose before levitating the two boxes out of her saddlebags and onto Nexus’ desk. “The leader also had a message for you, sir,” she said as she opened the lid to one of the small boxes, standing aside as Nexus looked on with that almost manic smile.

Nexus had never seen anything so glorious in his entire life. Inside the open box was trinkets and ingots of all shapes and sizes. Rings, necklaces, pendants, all tagged with their purities, and there was so much. “What did he have to say?” Nexus asked almost absentmindedly as he stared down at the treasure.

“He said... He said to never contact him ever again, and that if we wanted to end the world that he would have no further part in it,” Bunsen Burner said, slightly nervous that the Guildmaster would become angry at the Griffin leader’s insolent words.

Nexus just threw his head back and laughed. “Smart chicken,” he said as he carefully levitated the boxes of precious metal, careful to keep his magical field only on the containers and far away from the trinkets inside. He made his way over to a large, black safe. The surface was inscribed with many complex ruins arranged alongside carved gems in dizzying patterns. “I assume that he is already making for the border?”

“He did seem to be in a great hurry after he turned over the packages,” Bunsen Burner said as she watched over the Guildmaster’s shoulder as the stallion quickly shut the safe and touched a large ruby in the center of the door with a hoof. The gem hummed and the seams in the hunk of metal vanished, rendering it one continuous cube of inscribed and bejeweled metal.

“How unique,” Bunsen Burner said, pushing up her glasses again. She stared with open curiosity before remembering who else was in the room and quickly backing off and doing her best to look the dutiful lackey.

“Isn't it though? I came up with this a few days ago. It should keep anypony from finding the platinum, magic or no magic,” Nexus said as he returned to his workbench. “How hard was it sneaking into Canterlot? Have the Princesses discovered their loss yet?” Nexus asked as he picked up and examined a strange cylinder that was once attached to the human device strewn all over his bench.

“It wasn't too difficult, sir. I saw the guard beginning to mobilize moments before I entered the estate.” Bunsen Burner nodded and did her best to look totally collected, despite the fact that the mobilizing guard had terrified her.

“Good. They shouldn't have had time to set up the sensor spells yet. Good job getting here so swiftly, Miss Burner,” Nexus said as he touched a pair of leads to the cylinder, only for it to suddenly pop and sizzle, burning up in moments. Nexus frowned and grunted. It was obvious he was playing with something far beyond his understanding, and the stubborn mysteries of the human technology were frustrating him to no end, ruining his good mood.

As the tiny device smoked, Bunsen Burner remembered something important she had seen on her way into Canterlot. “Oh, something else you may be interested to hear, sir,” Burner said excitedly, hoping her news would please the obviously angered Guildmaster. “On my way into Canterlot, I happened to pass by the male human, umm John I think his name is. Perhaps you could ask him for his aid in understanding whatever you hope to learn from his people?”

Runic Nexus was about to tell the mare to make herself scarce when he froze. That was a good idea. No, that was an excellent idea! “What a wonderful idea, Miss Burner. Would you please see to it? I would be very interested in whatever insight a member of his race could offer me,” Nexus said, a smile slowly creeping back onto his lips.

“Right away sir!” Bunsen Burner said, pushing her glasses up again before darting out the office door.

Nexus smiled to himself. Such a competent young mare in his organization made him brim with pride. Perhaps he would promote her after this and see what she could do as a full Craftspony. Hmm, he would need to get her an office, workshop, her own supplies, and research stipend... The stallion’s thoughts trailed off into the familiar realm of paperwork as he retrieved several forms from his desk and set about filling them out.


I hummed with interest as I looked into the fourth shop I had been in on my own. After dropping Elly off at the hospital and making sure she was all set, the girls and I had started wandering around the city. I was reluctant to leave the readhead alone, but, surprisingly, Pinkie Pie had offered to watch her, and I gladly took her up on it. I had felt guilty leaving her there alone while we went out, but she assured me that I needed to have some fun and that she didn't mind.

I had stuck close to Twilight and the others at first, but they had slowly split up as they each indulged in their own unique interests. I had separated from Twilight when she decided that she wanted to visit another book store, the seventh one in a row. I told her that I was going to wander about a bit and see if anything drew my interest, and she had reluctantly agreed with the caveat that I not leave the general area. I attracted some odd looks and stares but resolved to ignore it as I set about looking at the various shops. I was a bit disappointed that Spike hadn't come along. I could've used some 'guy time' but sadly he had stayed at Twilight's library.

Surprisingly, I ran into Rarity while wandering around. We decided to wander around together for a while. The refined mare and I had never really had gotten much of a chance to speak, and she hadn't seemed too terribly interested in involving herself with me much. It reminded a lot of most people back home, and it was actually kind of refreshing. It didn't take too long for Rarity's friendly habits to show up, and after only a short time, we were chatting and joking like old friends.

“What do think of this one?” Rarity asked as she pointed out a set of earrings in a case. “Do you think they would look good on me, darling?” She fluttered her eyelashes at me, and I snorted as I held back a laugh. After we had chatted for a few minutes, I had discovered she had a nice sense of humor that was usually lost on her friends. She was kind of witty and sarcastic and, thankfully, she stayed away from any more poking at the relationship between Elly and I. If she hadn’t, then I might not have been able to appreciate her sense of humor quite as much.

“Honestly, I can barely tell you apart from each other,” I said as I examined an odd looking, short lamp.

“Ah, I forget I am speaking to such unwashed rabble with no eye for beauty,” Rarity said, throwing her nose into the air in an exaggerated caricature of how I imagine high class ponies probably acted. I chuckled and turned to look at some other oddity while Rarity continued to look through the jewelry.

I was about to take my leave and hit a different shop when I heard Rarity clear her throat behind me. She was standing next to the door and giving me a pointed look.

“You simply must remember to hold the door when you’re with a lady, John." She grinned at me from behind a thin facade of high-class pomp.

I sighed and held the door. She barely got through with all the bags she was carrying with her horn. She headed out into the street and I rolled my eyes at the giant mass of goods floating behind her. I idly noticed a few guards running down the sidewalks but didn't pay it much thought since Rarity seemed unconcerned.

“John, be a dear and take some of these things will you?”

Without waiting for me to answer, she passed me three huge, heavy bags and wandered to the windows of some nearby shops. Well that was one downside; she seemed a little pushy with things like 'proper' manners, ah la carrying a lady's things.

As we walked down the busy market street, Rarity suddenly stopped and pointed to a pair of ponies on the other side of the road. “That,” she said matter-of-factly, “is Fancy Pants, the most important socialite in Canterlot.” I followed her gesture to find a well-suited, heavily built stallion with a vibrant, slender unicorn mare beside him. After a short wave to the couple, she then went on a long-winded lecture about the social hierarchy of Canterlot and pointed out various ponies as we walked. I couldn’t follow and eventually ended up tuning it all out in favor of walking along and staring up at the clouds or taking in the sites of the city.

After a long bout of walking and absently nodding at what she was saying, Rarity shouted, “John! Where are you going?” I sheepishly rubbed the back of my head as I realized I had ended up walking off when she had stopped.

“We’re here! Didn’t you say we would have lunch at the Chateau Caballus? Here it is.”

I must have idly agreed to lunch while she was rambling on and failed to notice.

We sat down outside and in no time were waited upon by a overdressed, gray unicorn with a thin moustache. He held his notepad and pen primly above his head. He didn’t even seem to give me any odd looks like many of the ponies we had passed on our way here.

“For zee lady?” he asked with a terrible French accent. No, seriously. It sounded like his nose was congested. With tar.

“Yes, hello, I shall have the gazpacho and the soupe du jour with café de vanille and Crème Brûlée for dessert.”

“For the...gentlecolt?” he asked, strangely unphased by me, though his accent briefly disappeared. A true professional he was.

“Can I have…” I looked at the menu, but considering I couldn't even read pony, it was an exercise in futility. “Umm... French fries?” I asked looking at the waiter, smiling hopefully.

French Fries?!” Rarity snorted, making me jump, “John, dear, you’re in Canterlot. Tastes are… different.”

Frites de pommes de terre salée. S’il vous plait,” she asked the waiter for me. I groaned and rubbed my eyes. The waiter gave me a look that could only mean ‘cheapskate’ and departed.

I caught a glimpse of a pony wandering down the street eating a doughnut. I sighed, wishing I had been listening enough to ‘git while the gittin’ was good.’

The waiter returned with our food and bills. I looked at mine helplessly, still not able to read. Rarity took it for me. When she saw the price for my meager plate of chopped and salted potatoes, she gave the waiter a foul look which he returned with a smirk. I felt really bad when Rarity begrudgingly paid. I cleaned my plate; it was the least I could do.

Rarity was still in the middle of her soup when a blue mare walked around a corner up the street. The moment I came into view, her eyes locked onto me. I looked behind me, hoping she was looking at someone else. No one there.

The mare pushed her glasses further up her nose and drew herself up. “Excuse me, Mister... Err... Umm... John the human?” She said, looking just about the most awkward I’ve ever seen anyone.

It was actually kind of funny despite the tension I felt, but I managed not to laugh and instead answered with a simple, “Yes?”

“I'm Bunsen Burner from the Enchanters Guild here in Canterlot. I noticed you when you came into town this morning. My Guildmaster has been studying the possible comparisons between human technology and enchanting, and he would like to talk with you sometime today... if you wouldn't mind coming by,” she said after recovering from her initial awkwardness.

“Enchanting?” I said to myself, the word jarred my memory, and I pulled out the carved sapphire from my pocket. This little thing let me understand the language. I considered for a moment. It caught Rarity’s attention; she let out a small gasp. I looked over to her and saw she was staring at it intently, her pupils were as wide as dinner plates.

Bunsen Burner, oblivious to my thoughts, glanced at the gem before doing a double take and starting. “Oh, wow. That’s brilliant,” she said, suddenly plucking it from my grasp, ignoring the annoyed look Rarity and I both shot her. She started to read the inscriptions to herself, a lot of jargon I didn't understand at all. “Who made this?” She asked after a moment, looking between Rarity and myself.

“Um, Twilight made it, didn't she?” I looked to Rarity, who just shrugged.

“You would know better than me, darling. I’m afraid I was busy at the boutique while that was happening,” Rarity said before taking a sip of some weak smelling coffee.

“Hmm Celestia’s protégé, Twilight Sparkle? I suppose that explains things then. Truly an innovative piece of work,” Bunsen Burner observed, setting the blue gem back in my hand. “So, would you mind dropping by? We would appreciate it,” the blue mare finished, pushing her glasses up her nose once again and pasting an awkward smile on her face.

I thought about it for a moment. I did kind of want to checkout something as impressive sounding as a guild of enchanters. But then again I had agreed not to go too far, and I still felt kind of guilty running around and having fun without Elly. Not to mention that I was still uncomfortable about the whole magic thing in general. Ultimately, my curiosity won out, and I nodded to myself. "Well you've piqued my curiosity. What about you, Rarity? Feel like coming with?" I asked, turning to the white mare.

Rarity waved me off and set about fussing over her appearance. "I'm afraid I have other arrangements, darling. You go ahead if you like; I will tell the others where you've gone off too."

I smiled and motioned for Bunsen Burner to lead the way, and with a quick thanks and farewell to Rarity, we were off. The walk was... interesting to say the least. Everywhere I looked, the Equestrian version of soldiers choked the streets, and every question I asked about it was met with a dismissal. "It's probably just a drill." Or something similar.

Finally, after a good twenty minutes of walking, we came to a large, stately manor house perched high up on the mountain side. The climb coming up to it was more exhausting than my ego would allow me to admit, and it was a huge relief that the walk back to the hospital was going to be almost all downhill.

I whistled in appreciation and tilted my head back to take in the full view. The house sat on heavily landscaped grounds and was nearly at the same elevation as the castle thanks to its position on the mountain side. Bunsen Burner held her hoof against a golden plaque set into a brick wall that ran all the way around the outside of the manor until it ended at a steep rock face. The large, gilded gates clicked open with a buzz after a moment of waiting and she ushered me through.

"Nice place you have here," I said, trying to start up some conversation. The walk had mostly been in silence, and it was quickly beginning to become a little awkward, a running theme with Bunsen Burner, it would seem.

"Thank you. The Enchanters Guild is one of the oldest institutions in all of Equestria. We take a lot of pride in having an impressive estate," Bunsen replied as we headed up the steps and into the manor.

Once I made it through the door, the interior surprisingly looked a bit like a high school. The hallways were long and filled with large cabinets and lockers and branched off into dozens of rooms, each with a gold plaque with the room number engraved on it. A quick peek into a few of them confirmed that a few were actually classrooms while the majority were filled with workbenches and various, strange looking tools.

“So who is this Guildmaster guy?” I asked as I stopped looking around and returned to walking side by side with the blue mare. I casually shoved my hands into my pockets as Bunsen seemed to chew her answer for a moment.

“Runic Nexus, he’s ahh, unique stallion, ambitious and very competent,” Bunsen replied as we began climbing up the same wide stairs that ponies favored and forced me to watch my step. “He took over a little while ago when the old Guildmaster died, elected for being one of the most brilliant stallions in the guild. One of the best Guildmasters we've ever had if you want my opinion.” I nodded and we stayed quiet the rest of the way up the long, strangely spaced, stairs.

Finally we came to a large wooden door the plaque in the center read, “Runic Nexus: Guildmaster.” I suddenly felt a little nervous about the whole thing. A suspicion surfaced in my mind. This meeting was probably going to be more interesting than I had originally planned on.


Faint scribbling and the slow beeping of a heart monitor pierced the silence of the small room on the third floor of the hospital. The occupants either too occupied or too unconscious to notice Rainbow Dash clinging to the wall outside the window. Rainbow Dash cursed silently to herself. "Ugh. Why, of all ponies, did Pinkie Pie stay behind?"

Rainbow Dash crept closer, hoping to get a better look at what was going on in the room beyond the glass. She held herself stuck fast to the wall, pushing against gravity with her wings. She slowly reached out to attempt to silently slide open the window.

Ever so slowly the window began to creek open.