Harmony's Warriors: Flutterhulk

by Avenging-Hobbits

First published

Fluttershy is the Hulk...

A monster. A freak.
A weapon. A failure.

Fluttershy is all of these and none of these. She simply wants to be left alone. But turning into a giant green monster more often then not prevents that.

This is her story.

In the same universe as Iron Mare and Soar, but you don't have to have read those to read this...

Rated Teen for Action Violence and dark themes (such as depression/mental illness and such)

Proofread by Dave Man 1000, Spideremblembrony and CluelessBrony.

Prologue - 00 - Suicide is Painless

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Suicide is Painless

Out in the desolate frozen wastelands of the Crystal Mountains, a small figure trudged through the snow.

It was a small yellow pegasus, her light pink mane blew in the wind. She continued to claw her away across the ice and snow.

She was completely and utterly alone. No else for hundreds of miles. It was just her and the voices in her head, all of them whispering and chanting dark thoughts.

Just do it. The voice in her head said. Just do it and nopony else will suffer.

A frigid gust of wind of wind blew across the lonely pegasus, chilling her to the bone.

Look at yourself. You’re a freak. A failure. A monster. Why go on anymore? All it’ll do is cause you and everypony else in the world more suffering. They all hate you. Do them a favor.

She shook her head to make the voices stop and pulled her black jacket over her body in a vain attempt to shield herself from the cold.

Put an end to it. You have nothing to look forward to. Just put an end to it all and spare everypony any more pain and suffering.

She climbed to the top of a hill and stopped, exhausted.

Her body ached and moaned with exhaustion as if she was carrying a massive weight on her back.

The voice in her mind continued. It’s so simple. All it takes is one little tug and everypony will be freed from that horrible monster forever.

She tried to keep going, but her body simply wouldn't respond. She tried to lift her legs, but they felt like they weighed a ton. Suddenly the snow beneath her hooves gave way and she went tumbling down the hill again, coming to a stop next to a large block of ice.

Can’t you see? It’s all totally pointless. Just end it all. Right here. Right now. You know you want to.

She started to cry, bringing her frost bitten hooves to her face. Each sobbing breath caused the inside of her body to suddenly be awash in freezing cold air, chilling her to the very core.

Do it.

She let out a sob and reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a small black gun.

There you go. That’s it. So simple.

She lifted the gun slowly, the cold wind cutting through her jacket like a knife.

The instrument of your salvation. Isn’t it beautiful.

She paused and looked at the gun. It was a relatively simple one, built more for concealed carrying then firepower. It had a simple lever for which non-magic users could pull the trigger with, and it was nicely polished and completely brand new, it’s surface reflecting the face of the pegasus. Her blue eyes were sunken in and looked more like black holes then actual eyes. Her face was worn from the wind and she looked sick.

You’re a complete failure aren’t you? The voice repeated.

Fluttershy Braveheart, freak, monster, murder. A failed science experiment and nothing more.

She opened her mouth slowly and edged the gun inside.

Go on…put it in.

The freezing metal burned the inside of her mouth like a burning coal.

Don’t worry. Go on. Do it. It’ll all be over soon. So incredibly simple. Now just pull the trigger and end it all.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

There you go. Good girl. The world won’t miss you. They’ll all be so thankful for this. And you’ll be free. Free from all pain and suffering. Just pull the trigger. So simple.

She pulled the trigger and everything went black.


Pain. Why was there pain? It looked down at the ground and saw a small black object.

It slammed a hoof down the object that must have caused it such pain, crushing it underhoof. It roared at the sky. All it wanted was to be left alone. Even here it was hunted.

It leap off the hill and off into the wilds

Act I - 01 - And If I Go Insane

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Act One
"Places I Remember"

Chapter One
"And If I Go Insane"

Twenty-Three Years Earlier:

*knock* *knock* *knock* *knock*

“Time to go!”

*knock* *knock* *knock* *knock*

“Fluttershy, dear, time to wake up!” The earth pony knocking on the door said. She had a dark red mane and reddish pink coat. On her flank was a peace symbol.

A squeak came from behind the door.

“Fluttershy, dear, if you don’t get up now you’ll be late for the first day of school.” Tree Flower said her voice kind and motherly as she gently opened the door.

The door opened to reveal a small room with various toy stuffed animals and dolls scattered around the floor. There was a small bookcase with a lamp that was overflowing with various books standing next to a small bed. On the bed was a pile of sheets and covers with a small lump in the center.

“I don’t wanna go to school.” A barely audible voice said from underneath the covers.

Tree Flower sighed. “Fluttershy, I know that school can be scary, but you want to learn right? Don’t you want to make friends?” She walked over and gently sat on the bed.

“Yes…” the voice replied.

“Well if you never come out from under those covers, how are you going to be able to make friends?”

There was a pause as the lump moved and suddenly a small filly popped up, her bright blue eyes peaking out from underneath a light pink mane that was rustled and messy.

“But Momma, I don’t like school. What if the teacher doesn’t like me?” The filly said, sniffing slightly.

Tree Flower sighed. When they had first moved to Ponyville from Manehattan, Fluttershy had frequently been the target of the school bully. However, someone found out and, thank Celestia, the pony was expelled.

But the damage had been done. It had taken several months for Fluttershy to feel confident again, but she had finally gotten back into the swing of things, earned her cutie mark, even made some friends.

However, now it was a new school year and Fluttershy was moving up a grade, and that meant a new teacher, and new students.

And Fluttershy didn’t really like new things.

“Well, Flutters, let’s hope that doesn’t happen. And don’t forget, you do have your friends, like Firefly for instance.”

Fluttershy stopped sniffing and looked up. “Oh…I totally forgot about her.”

Tree Flower brought Fluttershy in for a hug. “Oh that’s okay. It’s okay to be a little worried. It’s a new year, and that means new things. But you know what?”

“What?” Fluttershy asked.

“Sometimes, new things are the best things. Think of this new school as one big Hearth’s Warming Eve present waiting to be opened. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Fluttershy smiled. “Yeah, yeah it does.” She gently nuzzled her mother. “I guess it’s okay then.”

Tree Flower nuzzled her back. “Good. Now, let’s go have some breakfast okay?” and with that, Tree Flower got up and gently helped Fluttershy out of the slightly oversized bed. They turned and walked out of the room together.


Dr. Banner Wing, a yellow pegasus with a brown mane sat in the waiting room of Ponyville Mental Hospital. He had organized the magazines by date and publisher at least seven different ways to pass the time. He was now currently reading an issue of Ponyville Gazette, making sure that none of the pages got caught or ripped.

Suddenly a small bell rung. He looked up from his newspaper and over to the reception desk.

“Dr. Wing? You may go in now.” The orderly said, as she sat down and went back to her desk and back to work.

“Thank you.” Dr. Banner Wing said as he got up, and, as neatly as possible, used his wings to fold up the newspaper, which he placed on the table where the magazines sat.

He walked over to the door and it opened to reveal the hospital visiting room. Inside were various ponies, some actual patients and some family members also visiting.

His eyes scanned the room, taking in the dozen or so patients that were scattered around the room. His eyes eventually landed on a bald, thin yellow pegasus, who sat studying the table top intently, muttering various things under his breath.

Banner Wing sighed and motioned towards a familiar minty green earth pony nurse. The nurse smiled and trotted up.

“Hello Dr. Wing.” She said quietly.

“Hello Nurse Kindheart.” Banner Wing replied. “How’s he doing?”

Nurse Kindheart looked over at the pegasus. “Well, honestly we thought he was doing better, since he hadn’t mentioned any voices in awhile.”


“That’s when we found him this morning.” Nurse Kindheart let out a heavy sigh. “He had somehow managed to shave off his mane, tail and eyebrows. How he was able to find a blade is beyond any of us. He asked specifically to see you.”

Banner Wing himself let out a long heavy sigh. “I know. May I?”

Nurse Kindheart nodded. “Of course you may, just remember, we’ve got him on several medications, okay?”

Banner Wing nodded and quietly walked up to the pony, who seemingly didn’t notice him, instead he continued to stare at the table top, muttering.

Banner Wing sat down directly in front of him. “Hello Cocktail.”

The pony looked up. His pale, sunken in grey eyes staring back. “Oh hey brother.” He looked back down at the table top. “What brings you back?”

Banner Wing simply looked at Cocktail. Why didn’t we spot this sooner? Was all Banner Wing could think. He thought back to his father, Sky Cloud, and how the signs had always been there.

Sky Cloud, although he was an excellent weather pony, would always make sure there were exactly twelve clouds of the same size in every storm. If there were thirteen, he would obsessively clump the clouds together until there were twelve again. If there were eleven, he would frequently request an extra cloud from another team, until once again, there were twelve.

Cocktail himself had shown no signs of obsessive behavior though, instead he was always found talking to his imaginary friends. At first, that’s what everyone thought it was, a simple imaginary friend, a simple fillyhood game that would eventually wear off.

But it didn’t wear off. And now here he was, sitting in a mental hospital, prattling on and on about aliens and a pony only he could see that he insisted was named Jack.

“Well, I see you shaved your mane and eyebrows…” Banner Wing finally said, looking at his brother’s bald head. “Really scared everypony.”

“Jack said it was a good idea…” Cocktail muttered.

“Jack told you so?” Banner Wing said. “And where’s Jack now?”

Cocktail looked back up from the table and paused, his grey eyes darting around. He motioned for Banner Wing to come closer. Banner Wing sighed and leaned in, wary that at any moment his brother might try something crazy.

“Don’t tell anyone, after I shaved my mane, Jack said he had to go and talk to the Sky Lords. They say that if I help, they’ll make sure the Night Breathers can’t attack us. That way the Night Breathers can’t hear my thoughts. You remember Night Breathers, right?”

Banner Wing let out another heavy sigh. “No, Cocktail I don’t.” he replied, rubbing the bridge of his muzzle slightly. Cocktail looked at him if he had just spoken in Griffin.

“What do you mean you don’t remember?” he asked, sounding totally baffled. “They’re the Night Breathers, ponies made of pure darkness with ears and wings like bats, remember? They have those fangs I told you about.”

Banner Wing simply looked at his brother sadly. These ‘Night Breathers’ were a recurring hallucination of his, and he had always insisted that the supposedly supernatural creatures were ruled by a dark unicorn in a red cape, who he described as being made of smoke. Apparently however, this unicorn, or ‘Sombra’ as he insisted it was named, was ruled by the goddess of death from old Equestrian myths, Nightmare Moon. His brother’s somewhat broken voice snapped Banner Wing out his thoughts. “What do you mean you don’t remember? That’s why I shaved.” He paused. “You should shave too Banner Wing, and Tree Flower, and Flutters.”

“Cocktail you know I can’t do that.”

Cocktail looked visibly shocked. “But why? Don’t you want to protect them from the Night Breathers? I mean they’re your wife and daughter.”

Banner Wing sighed. He really loved his brother, and knew he had a problem, but sometimes, he felt that he had to put his hoof down.

“Cocktail, you know for a fact that there are no ‘Night Breathers’, okay. And there are no ‘Sky Lords’ either. You know this.”
Cocktail’s expression changed from that of confusion to anger. “They got to you, didn’t they?”

Banner Wing raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“The Night Breathers. They got to you with their Hell Sprites. They got to your mind. You’ve been brainwashed.” He waved towards Nurse Kindheart. “Hey! Nurse!” he shouted.

Nurse Kindheart looked up from her paperwork. “Yes Cocktail?”

“My brother has been brainwashed by the Night Breathers. I don’t want to talk to him anymore.” Cocktail said, eyeing Banner Wing with visible disdain.

Nurse Kindheart got up and walked over quietly. “Okay then Cocktail. Do you want to go back to your room?” she asked.

Cocktail nodded. “Yes.”

“Okay then.” She motioned towards two earth pony orderlies who walked up.

Cocktail stood up. “Goodbye Banner Wing. I hope Tree Flower and Fluttershy don’t get brainwashed too.” And with that he nodded towards the orderlies and they lead him out of the room.

Banner Wing simply watched as his brother was escorted away. Once they had left, he let out a heavy sigh.

“I’m sorry.” Nurse Kindheart said. “He was doing so well lately.” She put a reassuring hoof on his shoulder.

Banner Wing nodded. “I know, I know.” He stood up. “Well, at least he’s here, where he’s relatively safe.” he started to walk towards the door.

“Goodbye Dr. Wing.” Nurse Kindheart said as he made his way towards the door.

“Goodbye Nurse Kindheart, hope you have a good day.”

Act I - 02 - Koyaanisqatsi

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Act One
"Places I Remember"

Chapter Two
"Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance)"

Banner Wing stepped outside the hospital and took a deep cleansing breath. He looked around. It was a beautiful clear day, not a single cloud in the sky to be seen.

He sighed and readied himself for take off. He jumped into the air and began to lazily fly towards the local university.

Ponyville University was by no means a large campus. In fact, it was basically one building with a fountain in the front lawn. Banner Wing had taken a teaching position there when he and his family moved into town, since the local university really didn’t have any physics studies. So now he functioned as the university’s chief reference on all things physics.

Which usually meant that he spend most of the day in his office rearranging his pencils.

He glided down and came in for a landing. He stepped inside the university.

“Hello Keypad.” He greeted a slate grey unicorn pony mare who was hunched over a typewriter.

“Hey Banner Wing. There was a call for you this morning. What kept ya?”

“Well, my brother wanted to talk to me. You know how it is.”

Keypad looked up from her typewriter. “He doin’ better?”

Banner Wing shook his head.

Keypad shook her head as well. “Shame.” She returned back to the typewriter, it’s keys making loud clickety-clacks as she typed away.

“You said I got a call this morning?” Banner Wing said, wanting to change the subject as soon as possible.

“Yup.” Keypad replied. “Something about research.”

This caught Banner Wing’s attention. “Really? Did they leave a number?”

Keypad nodded and levitated a small note with a phone number on it. “There you go.”

Banner Wing took the note from Keypad. “Thanks Keypad. Have a nice day.” He said as he turned towards his office which was down the hall.


Fluttershy quietly shifted through her locker. Glued on the door were various small pictures of her and her family and the occasional doodle. On the middle shelf sat a small wire cage, where a small white bunny sat, eating the food Fluttershy just gave him.

“That’s a good Angel Bunny…eat it up.” She whispered.

Besides Firefly, Angel Bunny was Fluttershy’s only real friend at the school. Not that she wasn’t liked, actually most of the teachers liked Fluttershy, since she was quiet and didn’t interrupt their lectures.

Of course, this very thing, her natural shyness and quiet nature is what made her a typical target for any student to pick on.

So far, though, things were actually going amazingly well, with no trying to avoid being flushed down a toilet or anything of the sort.

“I’ve been having a great day you know that don’t you Angel?” Fluttershy whispered. Angel Bunny looked up from his food, stared at her for a moment, and then hopped over and gently nuzzled her extended hoof. Fluttershy smiled.

“Oh of course you do Angel. Now go finish your food for Mommy.” She beckoned him back to the food.

“Hey Flutters!” a very loud voice suddenly said.

“EEP!” Fluttershy ducked into her locker, utterly terrified.

“Oh relax Flutters! It’s me, Firefly!”

Fluttershy peaked out from behind her mane. Standing in front of her was a pink pegasus with a blue mane, with three blue lightning bolts as her cutie mark.

“Oh hi Firefly, didn’t see you there.” Fluttershy said, stepping out of her locker.

Firefly shook her head. “That’s okay Flutters. How’s it going with you?”

Fluttershy smiled. “Very good actually, I didn’t get flushed down the toilet or stuffed into a locker or anything today.”

Firefly beamed. “Awesome! Hey guess what.”

“What?” Fluttershy asked as she straightened out her mane and tail.

“I got into flight camp!” Firefly exclaimed, jumping a couple feet into the air in her excitement.

“Really! That’s so cool Firefly.” Fluttershy said, but then her smile started to fade.

Firefly stopped jumping and looked at Fluttershy. “Hey what’s wrong Fluttershy? Isn’t that cool.”

Fluttershy nodded weakly. “Yeah…I guess.” Her voice dropping down to a barely audible level. “It’s just that now you’ll have to move to Cloudsdale right?”

Firefly’s shoulders sagged slightly. “Oh yeah….” She looked at Fluttershy. “But I can still visit during the summer break, right?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Yeah, I guess. It’s just I’ll be without my only friend here, I mean, besides Angel Bunny.” She motioned to the cage.

Firefly thought for a moment. “Well….maybe you can make a new friend.” She looked around at the passing school fillies. “Uh…” she searched the crowd for a potential candidate. “What about that unicorn over there?”

Fluttershy looked up in the direction Firefly was pointing. An alabaster unicorn filly with a purple mane and a triple diamond cutie mark walked by, her noise in the air. She exuded an aura of snootiness that made Fluttershy feel uncomfortable.

“Um…no thank you…she looks kinda stuck up…” Fluttershy quietly murmured.

“Yeah I guess you’re right.” Firefly said, rubbing the back of her neck. She continued to scan the school hallways.

There was a silence between the two for awhile as they both watched their fellow school ponies.


“That’s the school bell.” Fluttershy said, turning around and closing her locker. “We’ve gotta go to class Firefly.”

“Huh? Oh yeah.” Firefly turned, opened her locker and pulled out her backpack. “Look, Flutters, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to make you sad.” She said, putting a reassuring hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder.

“Oh that’s okay Firefly. I’m truly happy for you. I hope you have fun there.” She suddenly pulled Firefly into a hug. “I’ll miss you so much.”

Firefly hugged her back. “That’s okay, I’ll miss you too Flutters. And hey, we’ve still got the rest of the school day. Right?”

Fluttershy smiled. “Yeah, that’s right. When do you have to leave?” she asked, as they made their way back to glass.

Firefly’s shoulders drooped. “Tomorrow. I’m really sorry Fluttershy, I really am.”

“Oh that’s okay, I don’t want your time there be ruined because you’re thinking about me.” Fluttershy said as they entered class and went to their seats.


Fluttershy walked home quietly, feeling depressed. Today had started so good. She had had a nice warm breakfast with her mother and hadn’t really been bullied at all today. Then Firefly had told her the news. And none of that mattered anymore. All that mattered was that she would be alone, in a school where she didn’t fit in.

She reached her house and knocked on the door. The knob jiggled and opened to reveal her mother.

“Fluttershy darling, come here.” She pulled her into a gentle hug. “How was school today?”

Fluttershy shook her head and sniffed. “Horrible.”

Tree Flower raised an eyebrow. “Really? How, were you bullied again?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “No.” she sniffed again.

Tree Flower became concerned. She leaned down and looked Fluttershy in the eyes. “Honey, what happened?”

Fluttershy let out a long sad sigh. “Firefly’s leaving.”

“What do you mean?” Tree Flower asked, already having a rough idea as to why.

“S-she g-got into flight camp.” Fluttershy had now fully begun to cry. “a-and she has to leave Ponyville now for Cloudsdale.”

“Oh that’s okay.” Tree Flower pulled the crying filly in for a hug and gently rocking her back and forth. “Don’t cry…it’ll be okay…”

“But it’s my fault. She doesn’t want to be around me, I’m too shy and small.” Fluttershy sobbed.

“No, no, that’s not true. She has to leave because she can’t learn how to fly in Ponyville. Don’t worry, she’ll be back soon and you can both go and play games together.”

Fluttershy stopped crying and looked up at Tree Flower. “R-really?” she sniffed.

“Really.” Tree Flower replied. “Now, you ready for dinner?”

Fluttershy nodded gently. “Yeah, I guess…”

“Okay then, now go say hi to your father.” Tree Flower gently nudged Fluttershy towards her father, who sat at the dinner table.

“Hi daddy.” Fluttershy nuzzled him.

“Hello Fluttershy.” Banner Wing replied, gently scooping up Fluttershy in his wing.

Fluttershy nuzzled him again. “Daddy?”


“Do you love me?”

Banner Wing paused. He hadn’t quite expected such a question from his daughter. He looked at her.

She was the light of his life, everything he held dear in one small, gentle yellow package. And yet, even though he couldn’t imagine her any other way, he still felt like she was missing something.

He looked her over, observing her cutie mark, three pink butterflies, a symbol for her intense love of animals. His eyes drifted to her gangly legs and her tiny little wings. They were the source of so much suffering for her. To be constantly mocked and picked on because her body shape was something that Banner Wing couldn’t abide.

He took a deep breath and pulled Fluttershy in for a tight hug. “Oh Fluttershy, you know I love you. I’ll love you forever and ever. Don’t you ever doubt that okay?”

Fluttershy hugged him and gently nuzzled his neck. “Okay daddy. I won’t.”

Banner Wing looked at Tree Flower, concern in his eyes. Tree Flower smiled a smile that seemed to say “Don’t worry, everything will be all right.” Before she quietly returned to the kitchen to finish dinner.

But still, deep down in the very bottom of his soul, Banner felt that things might not be all right. He couldn’t bare the idea of Fluttershy being forced to suffer any more pain.

And in that moment, he decided, right then and there that he was going to end Fluttershy’s suffering once and for all. And the phone call he had received was the key.


Banner Wing sat in his bed, staring at the photo of Fluttershy on the opposite wall. It was taken when she was only one year old. She wore an innocent smile as if she didn’t have a care in the world. His mind ran through the events of the day.

He had received the phone call he had always wanted, a way to better his family’s life.

He had also seen Fluttershy in pain and crying.

He could only imagine the pain and hurt that Fluttershy must have been feeling.

“Darling?” he turned towards Tree Flower, who was quietly reading a book.

“Yes dear?”

“Did you know I got a phone call today?” he asked.

Tree Flower turned to look at him, looking over her reading glasses. “Really dear? What about?”

“About my job.” He said, sitting up slightly.

“Oh really?” Tree Flower said, curiosity in her voice. “What about your job.” Suddenly an expression of fear crossed her face. “Oh, no. you didn’t get fired did you?”

Banner Wing shook his head. “Oh no. Not at all.” He looked back at the wall.

“Well, then what?” Tree Flower asked, closing her book and taking off her reading glasses.

“You know how a couple weeks back I sent out my resume to some universities?”

Tree Flower thought for a moment. “Yes…yes I do. I distinctly remember disagreeing with your decision.” Her voice carried the slightest bit of playful sarcasm.

Banner Wing smiled. “Well, it seems that Canterlot University decided to take me up on a research job there. Something to do with the government.”

Tree Flower let out a sigh and looked Banner Wing in the eyes. “Banner, you know for a fact that you can’t take that job. Fluttershy just lost her best friend to Flight School and now we’re going to have to move all the way to Canterlot and get Fluttershy in a new school. She barely fits in here, how will she be able fit into a school where she doesn’t even know a single soul?”

“Yeah, but I can’t bear to see her like this.” Banner Wing said, looking into his wife’s dark blue eyes. “And I think this new job provides a way for me to put an end to her suffering once and for all.”

Tree Flower simply stared back, her face stern. “And what is that Doctor?”

Banner Wing winced slightly at her use of his professional title. She only ever used that when she was angry with him.

“Well, apparently the government wants me to work on something evolving growth hormones or something.” He said.

Tree Flower raised an eyebrow. “Why in Celestia’s name would the government want you to research something like that? You’re a physicist, not a chemist.”

“They said they needed my knowledge of radiation.” Banner Wing ironed out some invisible wrinkles in the bed sheets.

Tree Flower let out a frustrated sigh. “And how will this help Fluttershy? Don’t tell me you were going to try and use our daughter as some sort of lab rat.”

Banner Wing looked down at the bed and said nothing.

“Damn it Banner, I can’t believe you.” Tree Flower groaned. “This is our daughter’s well being we’re talking about, not another random experiment.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Banner Wing suddenly snapped. “It kills me to see Fluttershy mocked like that at school. Her wings, they’re so small and her legs are too long. That’s why they pick on her. No other reason. All I want to do is see if I can fix that, and nothing else. No radiation or anything. Just some simple growth hormones.”

Tree Flower shook her head tersely. “Doctor Banner Wing, I will not allow you to use our daughter for that.” She then reached out and put a reassuring hoof on Banner Wing’s shoulder. “Don’t you understand,” her voice was now kind and understanding. “The way Fluttershy is, with her legs and wings, that’s how she was meant to be. That’s how she was made. She’ll grow out of it. Let nature take its course and everything will be alright. Don’t think that just because science can do it, means that it should do it. I really don’t think you should tamper in nature’s domain.” She then leaned her head against him.

Banner Wing let out a heavy sigh and leaned against her. “I just want what’s best for her…you know?”

“Yes dear. I know.” There was a long pause between them.

“How soon until you have to leave?” Tree Flower asked, joining Banner Wing in staring at the far wall.

“They said they hoped I’d be there before month’s end.” He said.

Tree Flower let out a heavy sigh. “Well…” her eyes wandered, taking in the bedroom. “Let’s sleep on it. We’ve all had a long day and we’re all tired.” She yawned and reached over and turned off the lamp on her bed stand.

“Good night darling.” She yawned before nodding off.

Banner Wing sat quietly in the darkness, his wife now snoring quietly.

The moonlight poured into the room, bathing it with a bluish glow. His eyes drifted around the room, taking in the wallpaper and the carpet. His eyes eventually rested on the framed picture of his family next to his bed.

Poor Fluttershy. He thought. What do I do?

He suddenly got up, being sure to not wake Tree Flower. He quietly made his way out of the room, and walked down the hallway and stopped in front of Fluttershy’s room. It was open just wide enough for him to gently nudge open.

He looked at Fluttershy, who was sleeping contentedly, a small smile her face, clutching a Smarty Pants doll tightly.

The sight of his beloved daughter content and happy, with nopony mocking her made something click inside Banner Wing.

He had to do it.

It’s the only way.

He had to take the job. He had to work there. He had to find something, anything to finally give Fluttershy true peace.

He would take that job and find a cure for Fluttershy’s problem.

Even if it killed him.

Act I - 03 - The Nightmare's Just Begun

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Act One
"Places I Remember"

Chapter Three:
"The Nightmare's Just Begun"

The early morning sunlight poured into Fluttershy’s room through her closed curtains. Her eyes slowly opened and she looked around the room.

In the small cage across the room was Angel Bunny, quietly sleeping. She smiled faintly, the events of the day before still in her mind. She was almost completely alone in the world now, except for the small white bunny in the cage.

She let out a yawning sigh and slowly got out of bed.

After cleaning Angel Bunny’s cage she quietly opened the door and walked down the hall towards the dining room.

She could hear her parents talking about something but she couldn’t quite make it out. The talking steadily grew louder and more clear as she neared the dining room.

“I don’t know why you can't just turn down the job. She’s not going to be able to cope with all this…” her mother’s voice said, laced with worry.

Who are they talking about? Fluttershy wondered, as she stood quietly in the doorway, making sure not to make a sound unless she was discovered.

“Honey, believe me, if there were a way to do this without having to move the entire family I would do it in a heartbeat. You know that.” Her father’s voice replied.

Move the entire family? We’re moving? Fluttershy asked herself. But why?

Her mother let out a sigh. “Are you absolutely one hundred percent sure about this? Because I don’t want to have to force poor Fluttershy to leave the only place she’s known and move to a place that she’s never been all because you want this job.”

“Yes. I’m one hundred percent sure of this. I wish there was another way…but we have to do it.” Her father said, his voice heavy.

Fluttershy finally decided now was as good a time as any to enter the dining room. “Um Daddy, what are you and mom talking about?”

Her father and mother both looked at her. Her mother shot her father an ‘I told you so’ glance as her father let out a heavy sigh.

“Well, Fluttershy…” her father started, leaning down so he could be at eye level with her. “I just got a job in Canterlot…”

Fluttershy instantly knew what that meant. Suddenly the entire conversation she had heard made perfect sense. She shook her head. “No, please Daddy, I don’t want to move to Canterlot…” she said, giving him a tight hug.

“I know, I know darling. I wish there was another way, but this is a very important job. I wish I could stay here and do it but I can’t.” he gently rocked her back and forth. “And don’t worry, we’ll still be together as a family.”

“What about Angel Bunny?” Fluttershy asked.

“You can even take Angel Bunny. We’ll get him a nice, comfortable cage he can sleep in and everything.”

Fluttershy was quiet for a moment. She thought about the fact that, now that Firefly was gone, she didn’t have a single friend in the entire school. All she had was her nice, warm home, and her loving family and her beloved Angel Bunny.

And now, she would lose her home to go live in a place she’d never been before. It scared her.

“Oh Daddy I’m scared…what if the other fillies bully me like here.” Fluttershy said, hugging her father even tighter.

“Don’t worry, dear…I’ll make sure they never do that.” He gently ran his hooves through her mane.

“And Fluttershy,” her mother suddenly said, walking up and hugging the two of them. “Always remember that we’re here to help you with any trouble you might face. We’re a family, that’s what we do.”

The three of them sat there quietly, all hugging.

And Fluttershy, for the first time in a long time, felt that there was some light at the end of the tunnel.



Down the hallway, head held high, walked a large dark grey teenage unicorn wearing a black leather jacket. He was Dark Sky, the undisputed ruler of Canterlot Middle School’s hallways.

On his face he wore a smug grin. He eyed the various younger fillies, which all would instantly cower in fear.

And by Celestia did he love that.

“Hey, you.” He called out towards a random yellow pegasus filly with a long pink mane that was walking down the hall.

The filly froze in her tracks and turned around slowly. “Y-yes D-Dark S-Sky?” she stuttered, completely terrified.

Dark Sky walked up to her, using his considerable size advantage to tower over the smaller filly. “You got any lunch money on ya Flutters?”

The younger filly shook her head. “N-no, Dark Sky, I just s-spent it...” she was shaking all over. Dark Sky was silent of a moment, reveling at the look of fear on the much younger pegasus’ face.

Dark Sky clicked his tongue. “Shame Flutters. I kinda needed the funds. Real shame. You know what this means?”

Fluttershy’s pupils shrunk, her eyes darted around, eying the swiftly growing group of fillies and colts that had come to watch.

She looked back at Dark Sky, falling to her knees in pleading. “No! Not a swirly! Please!”

Dark Sky shrugged, jerking Fluttershy into the air with his magic. “Sorry Flutters, put I just can’t abide with the fact that you never pay up. Can’t have that can I?”

Fluttershy struggled against Dark Sky’s magic in vain. “Please not the Swirly! Please not a Swirly!” she started to sob.

“Oh stop whining Flutters. You’re no fun. Swirly’s are so much more fun.” Dark Sky laughed, dragging the weeping filly into the colts room. “For me that is.”

The door closed behind them and the small crowd that had formed awaited the results with baited breath.

The sound of a toilet flushing greeted their ears. There was another awkward silence before the door suddenly burst open and Fluttershy came stumbling out, her head and mane completely soaked and she ran off sobbing.

Directly behind her came Dark Sky, who, after pausing in the doorway and looking over the small crowd of fillies, stomped his hoof, sending them scattering like a flock of scared birds.

He let out a contented sigh and started to make his way down the hallway again, looking for his next victim.


Fluttershy sat in the corner of the classroom, quietly crying as the teacher droned on endlessly about the wonders of fractions.

These past six months had been the worst of her life. She had hoped that what her father said was true, that he would protect her or do something to make them stop bullying her, but alas, his new job seemingly attracted every ounce of his attention.

He wouldn’t even eat dinner without some aspect of his new job infiltrating their eating. He would often sit at the head of the table, with a pile of papers and notes which he would constantly nitpick and mutter over.

And, to top it all off, she was being bullied even worse than before. Every time she went out into the halls, Dark Sky would come looking for her, always equipped with some new way to torture her.

No matter what she did, or how she tried to avoid him, he would find her and torment her.

She let out a quiet sob and wiped her running nose. She looked around the classroom. All her fellow students wore the same bored expression, except for Long Division, the teacher’s pet, who would watch the teacher intently, apparently drinking in every word.


Fluttershy looked around for the source of the voice.

“Pisst, behind you.” The voice whispered.

Fluttershy slowly turned around to see a small, orange colt with glasses.

“Um….hello….” Fluttershy whispered, making sure the teacher couldn’t hear them. “What do you want?”

“Well,” the colt said in a somewhat nasally whisper. “I kinda just want to say I feel sorry for ya, here” he leaned down and dug through his backpack for a moment, which was packed with dozens of comic books and doodles.

“Where is it…” he muttered, quickly glancing at the teacher to make sure she hadn’t seen him. “Ah, here we go.” His whispered as a small smile spread across his face and he pulled out a small card.

“What is that?” Fluttershy whispered back, casting a fearful glance over her shoulder.

“I think you’re problem is that you’re not assertive enough,” the colt whispered. “Here, take this card.” He held the card out.

Fluttershy once again looked around the classroom. The teacher, Miss Calculus, apparently hadn’t noticed their clandestine meeting and was still droning on as the rest of the class was nearly asleep with boredom.

Fluttershy quietly reached out and grabbed the card. “W-what’s the card for?” she asked, her voice barely audible.

“It’s for a special thing their holding in the gym after school…assertiveness.” The colt whispered.

“Assertiveness?” Fluttershy asked, once more looking over her shoulder at the teacher.

“Because, I think that nopony should be bullied like that. I think you should try and stand up to Dark Sky. Just try it.”

“Excuse me but what is so interesting as to distract you from my class?” the thin reedy voice of Miss Calculus suddenly spoke, causing both Fluttershy and the colt to freeze.

“Um, well, I, uh…” the colt stammered, as Miss Calculus stared intently at him, her face drawn so tight that it looked like it might suddenly rip off.

“Excelsior, I will not have any of your daydreaming fantasy’s in my class. And Fluttershy…” she turned her withering gaze to Fluttershy. “You know better than to fraternize with such….” She cast a derisive glance towards the colt. “….plebeians.”

Fluttershy simply nodded her head and turned back to look at her desk.

“And Fluttershy….” Miss Calculus said, “what is that in your hooves?”

Fluttershy didn’t say anything, but simply shot out her hoof, Excelsior’s card on the end. Miss Calculus levitated the card in front of her face and squinted through her thick glasses.

She read the card aloud. “Strong Will’s Assertiveness Class. Go from pushover to awesome in one week, guaranteed.” She looked down at Fluttershy, who was now quivering in fear.

“My dear Fluttershy, for once I agree with Excelsior. You need this desperately. You’re rather pathetic you know…” she dropped the card down on Fluttershy’s desk and returned to the blackboard, and continued her lecture.

Fluttershy looked at the card. Miss Calculus was right. She was pathetic. Here she was, sitting in class, quivering and shaking like a leaf in the wind. And right there, in front of her, was a way out of it.


“Good afternoon, I’m Strong Will and I’ll be your assertiveness teacher today.” The titanic mare said. Her red hair was pulled back into a tight bum and her tail was clipped short.

Fluttershy sat in a row of ponies, all of whom looked rather meek. Just like her.

“Now,” Strong Will announced as she scanned the group. “I will be choosing one random participant to demonstrate my methods. Starting with….” She lifted a hoof to point and moved it around, as if running through a list of potential candidates.

“You. The filly with the pink mane.” Strong Will pointed a large hoof at Fluttershy. Fluttershy shied away, hoping that maybe there was another filly with a pink mane.

“Filly with the pink mane, I’m talking to you.” Strong Will once more spoke, this time emphasizing her words with a sharp slap of her hoof against the floor.

Fluttershy hid behind her mane and hesitantly walked up to Strong Will, trembling.

“State your name please to the rest of the class.”

“I’m Fluttershy” Fluttershy whispered, her voice nearly completely inaudible.

Strong Will simply stared down at Fluttershy. “What was that? I can’t hear you.” She then looked at the rest of the class. “First lesson in assertiveness. Always say your name clearly, and loudly enough so that ponies can understand you.” She nudged Fluttershy.

“Now come filly, state your name so we can hear you.”

Fluttershy looked up at Strong Will and then at the other members of the class.

“Come on. We’re waiting.” Strong Will insisted, once more nudging Fluttershy.

Fluttershy gulped, took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak.

“Um….h-hello e-everypony…” her knees started to shake. “I-I’m F-Fluttershy….”

The rest of the ponies all nodded and various quiet and meek greetings came from the group.

“And why are you participating in this class today Fluttershy?” Strong Will asked, once more looking down at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy hid behind her mane. “Because I’m bullied at school…”

“Excuse me? I couldn’t quite make that out. Remember, speak so that ponies can hear you.” Strong Will said.

“Because I’m bullied at school.” Fluttershy whispered again, utterly terrified.

Strong Will raised an eyebrow. “Bullied at school eh?” she turned to the audience. “See this poor filly?” she pointed a seemingly gargantuan hoof at Fluttershy. “This filly is the perfect example of why assertiveness is important.” She gave Fluttershy a sympathetic smile and then turned back to the audience.

“You see, if this poor filly had some assertiveness, she would be able to stand up to those horrible creatures that bully and torment her.” She suddenly grabbed Fluttershy and pulled her close. “And I, Strong Will, will now show this filly how to be assertive and stand up to them.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “P-please….I’m s-scared….” She whimpered to Strong Will. Strong Will looked down and a small smile made itself evident on her face. She leaned down.

“Its okay sport, I won’t be hard on ya. Everypony is a little scared the first time. But don’t worry. We’ll deal with that in a moment.” She whispered in Fluttershy’s ear before standing back up.

“Now, Fluttershy,” she raised her voice so that everypony could hear her. “I’m going to pretend to be a bully and I want you be assertive. Understand?”

Fluttershy weakly nodded her head.

“Good.” Strong Will cleared her throat. “Hey. You!” she suddenly shouted at Fluttershy in accusatory tone.

Fluttershy instantly cowered in fear, covering her eyes. She could hear Strong Will’s hoofsteps.

“Fluttershy that is not how you stand up to a bully.” She said, her voice loosing it’s accusatory tone but still stern. “Now, we’re going to try this again and I want you to stand up to me. Don’t let me push you around understand?”

Fluttershy nodded, standing up, her knees shaking. Strong Will smiled and then walked to the opposite side of the stage.

“HEY YOU!” she shouted in the same tone as before.

This time, Fluttershy didn’t instantly cower in fear, but rather started to shake violently and looked over at Strong Will.

“Y-yes?” she peeped, her voice shallow.

Strong Will suddenly started to walk forward. “I want your lunch money pony. Give it over.”

Fluttershy continued to shiver. She faintly shook her head, remembering what Strong Will told her.

Strong Will raised an eyebrow, still in pretending to be the bully. “Did you just tell me no?”

Fluttershy shakily looked up and nodded.

She caught a glimpse of a small, barely visible smile tugged at the end of Strong Will’s mouth.

Fluttershy took this as a good thing and straightened out and did her best to stop her knees from shaking.

“Fluttershy, in order to be assertive you must verbalize.” Strong Will ordered. “Now, instead of just nodding, I want you to tell me that you said no. Let me hear you say it.”

Fluttershy hid behind her mane again and spoke softly. “Y-yes…I d-don’t w-want y-you t-to h-have m-my lunch m-money…”

“Can’t hear you!” Strong Will cupped a hoof to her ear.

Fluttershy gulped and spoke again, this time louder. “I d-don’t want t-to g-give y-you m-my lunch m-money.” As soon as the sentence left her mouth she shied away.

Instead of a verbal threat or a smack of a hoof, as Fluttershy expected, instead she felt as if she was getting hoisted into the air.

She opened her eyes, and saw that Strong Will had lifted her onto her shoulder and was smiling.

“You see! If this little filly,” she pointed at Fluttershy. “Can stand up to me like that, after a mere one try, you can too!”

There was a rush of applause and exclamations.

Fluttershy smiled, a feeling of confidence washing over her. She had been assertive for the first time in her life and, honestly, it felt amazing.


Fluttershy and Tree Flower sat at the small round dinner table. The sound of cooking emanated from the kitchen.

“Honey, what’s taking the food so long? Are you sure you don’t need my help?” Tree Flower called out.

“No thank you honey, I’m almost done!” Banner Wing called out from the kitchen. He leaned over the boiling pot of soup.

“There we go…nice and ready.” He whispered as he dipped in the ladle and took a sip. It was a good tasting soup, full of flavor. It had been awhile since he had cooking anything really, but he had always had a fondness for his mother’s soup.

Thank Celestia I kept Mom’s cookbook. He thought as he stirred the soup, making sure not to let it boil over.

“Honey, please we’re all a rather bit hungry, is the soup ready yet or not?” Tree Flower called out again, sounding slightly impatient.

Banner Wing shouted towards the dining room. “Yes, it’s almost ready, I’m going to just add some spices to spruce it up okay?” as he said this, he poured three bowls, and, in the smallest bowl, he poured a small vial full of green liquid.

The green liquid was his masterpiece. A special growth hormone he had developed for the government program he had been called to work on. The government hadn’t exactly been clear as to the exact purpose of the work they needed done, but they had provided him with the means to create a way to better Fluttershy’s existence.

He quickly stirred in the serum until it was mixed in.

“Dear…” Tree Flower once more called from the dining room.

Banner Wing gently placed the soup bowls on a platter and picked it up with his mouth and walked into the dining room. He set the platter on the table and took his place.

“Sorry it took so long; it’s just that I haven’t cooked in a while. Hopefully you like it.” He said, taking a sip of his soup.

His wife smiled. “Oh that’s okay honey. I’m quite sure it’s lovely.” She took a sip. “Oh wow it is good. What kind of soup is this?”

“Carrot Soup. My mom’s recipe.” Banner Wing replied, as he watched Fluttershy take a sip herself.

“Wow Daddy this good.”

There was an awkward pause as they all quietly ate their soup. Suddenly Fluttershy raised her hoof.

“Um…if it’s okay with you…I’d like to tell you what happened at school today…” She said.

Both Banner Wing and Tree Flower looked at Fluttershy with interest.

“Really? What?” Banner Wing asked, hoping that for once, she had had an actual good day at school.

“Well…um, today this nice colt in class gave me this…” she quietly pulled a small card out from under her wing.

“Really? What is that?” Banner Wing reached out and took the card, reading it. “Assertiveness class? Why would you need an assertiveness class?” he looked at Fluttershy, eyebrow raised.

“Because I don’t want to get bullied anymore daddy…” Fluttershy said, looking down at her soup.

Tree Flower smiled. “Well I think that that is an excellent idea. How did it go?”

Fluttershy smiled. “It actually went really great. Everypony clapped and cheered for me and everything.”

Banner Wing said nothing, a small smile crossing his face. The sight of his beloved daughter finally happy and not bemoaning over another horrible day was the single most beautiful sight in the universe.

“Well then dear,” he said, gently pulling her in for a hug. “That’s all we need to know.”



“There you go Angel, eat it up.” Fluttershy whispered, a small smile forming on her face.

Fluttershy quietly stood in front of her locker, feeding Angel Bunny. She had had a growth spurt in the last few weeks and her wings and legs had evened out a little.

However, none of that was on her mind, as the universe had decided to crank its torture of her up to an eleven.


Dark Sky loomed over Fluttershy.

“What did you just say?” he growled.

“I-I s-said t-that y-you s-should l-leave m-me alone.” Fluttershy said, her voice frail and trembling, doing her best to hold her ground.

“Oh really? And who’s going to make me?” Dark Sky sneered.

Fluttershy tried her best to stand up straight. “M-Me. I've b-been t-taking a-assert-tiveness c-classes, a-and I w-want y-you t-to l-leave me alone.” She stomped her hoof on the ground, but her own shaking prevented it from making much impact.

Dark Sky was quiet for a moment. His face was cold. Suddenly, without warning, he grabbed her tail in his magic and started to drag her along the floor towards the school’s gymnasium.

Fluttershy desperately clawed at the floor in a vain attempt to gain some traction and escape. But her hooves only managed to slip and slide along the floor.

The door separating the gymnasium from the rest of the school burst opened as Dark Sky stormed through.

Suddenly, Fluttershy felt herself flying through the air. She tried to flap her wings, but it was a futile attempt. Her body impacted the water and she felt water begin to pour into her nose and throat. She burst to the surface, gasping and panting for air.

“Listen here Flutters!” Dark Sky’s voice echoed through the gymnasium. “You will never attempt to defy me ever again. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!”

Fluttershy clawed her way out of the pool. She gasped and choked. “Y-yes D-Dark Sky…”

Dark Sky smiled. “Good.” As he turned away, he gave her soaking wet form a sharp kick and she tumbled back into the pool.


So now here she was, trying her best not to totally break down into a quivering pile of tears.

Her wet mane clung her head like a slug. Her own tears were lost in the wetness of her fur.

“At least you’re still here Angel.” She whispered, gently petting the bunny through the bars of the cage and sniffing slightly.


Fluttershy let out a squeak before freezing solid. She knew that voice. Everypony in school knew that voice. She hoped against hope that maybe she wasn’t the one being addressed.

“Didn’t you hear me?! I said, ‘HEY YOU!’” the voice shouted again. Fluttershy slowly turned around to look in the direction of the voice.

And there he was the bane of her existence, Dark Sky. And he was looking right at her.

“I’m talking to you Flutters!” he shouted, walking slowly towards her, the crowd of fillies scattering away in fear.

“Hey Flutters. Whatcha doing?” He sneered, towering over her.

Fluttershy began to shiver. “Um….n-nothing D-Dark Sky, nothing at all. P-please…what do you want now?”

Dark Sky looked into Fluttershy’s locker. “Oh, nothing much…” he eyed the various pictures and doodles and the bunny cage. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of the bunny cage.

“Well would you look at that.” He said, faking surprise at the sight of Angel Bunny. “How long have you had this little friend Flutters?” he said, looking down at the quivering pegasus.

“P-please Dark Sky, w-what do you want?” Fluttershy whimpered. “Y-you a-already d-dumbed m-me into the pool…a-aren’t y-you s-satisfied?”

“Well….” Dark Sky put a hoof on his chin. “I guess…maybe…” his eyes drifted between Fluttershy and Angel. “But, hay, I just think you’re too much fun to pass up, Flutters.”

And with that, he suddenly bobbed Fluttershy on the nose. Fluttershy clutched her nose, letting out a whimper.

“Wow Flutters. You’re like a toy. You make funny noises.” Dark Sky chuckled, once more bopping Fluttershy’s nose.

Fluttershy stumbled forward and hit the floor. “P-please…” she begged, looking at the much large unicorn. “L-leave me alone…” tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’ll do anything, just please leave me alone.”

Dark Sky looked down at Fluttershy, a wicked grin slowly spreading across his face. “Anything?” he asked. His dark blue eyes drifted over the small cage that held Angel Bunny. His horn glowed and a small tendril of magic drifted over and started to tinker with the lock.

“Mind if I play with your little friend here?” he looked back down at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “No…no…not Angel Bunny, he’s all I’ve got…” she cried, grabbing onto Dark Sky’s leg. Dark Sky simply kicked his leg outward and Fluttershy lost her grip.

“Oh Celestia I enjoy myself way too much.” He laughed as the lock popped open and he sent the tendril of magic after Angel Bunny, who had run to the other side of the small cage.

“Come on you stupid bunny, I just want to have a little bit of fun with Flutters.” Dark Sky growled his magic wrapping around Angel Bunny’s leg like a snake. Angel Bunny kicked and struggled as the magic pulled him out of the cage and hung him in the air. Dark Sky’s magic aura quickly enveloped the struggling rabbit.

“Well, well, looky here.” Dark Sky laughed, looking down at Fluttershy, who was now weeping uncontrollably. “Powr wittle Fwutters wanna pway wit her bunny?” He mockingly said in a baby voice, lowering Angel directly in front of Fluttershy’s face.

Fluttershy desperately reached out towards Angel Bunny, only to have Dark Sky suddenly yank the bunny out of her grasp.

“Please!” Fluttershy sobbed. “Leave him alone.”

Dark Sky shot Fluttershy a death glare.

“Now listen here Flutters.” His voice taking on an almost demonic tone. “I want to play with your rabbit here and what Dark Sky wants,” he paused, levitating a small cigarette and a lighter out of his leather jacket. “Dark Sky gets.”

Fluttershy could only watch as Dark Sky light the cigarette and slowly edged it towards Angel Bunny’s tail.

“No! Please no!” Fluttershy sobbed, unable to hold back her tears.

Dark Sky simply cast a dismissive glance at her before focusing his attention back to the bunny he was torturing.

“And here we go.” He chuckled as the cigarette made contact with Angel Bunny’s tail. Angel Bunny let out a tortured squeal and writhed in pain in a vain attempt to escape.

The sight of her bunny being tormented in such a deviant way was simply too much for Fluttershy. Somewhere, deep inside Fluttershy’s soul snapped. Her fear and panic suddenly transformed into a seething ball of anger and rage and everything went red.

“I said LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Fluttershy shrieked and lunged towards Dark Sky, her hooves ready to beat him to a pulp.

Dark Sky turned around at the sound of Fluttershy’s shriek and was greeted by her fists impacting his nose. He was sent stumbling and his magic faltered long enough for Angel Bunny to drop the floor and scamper away to hide.

Fluttershy meanwhile, didn’t stop and continued to punch Dark Sky violently in the face.

“DON’T YOU EVER HURT MY ANGEL YOU MONSTER!” she shrieked, grabbing Dark Sky’s head and slamming it into a nearby locker. She then proceeded to violent kick and buck at Dark Sky as if he was a rag doll.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Fluttershy roared, landing a kick on Dark Sky’s skull once again. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

A small crowd had formed at the disturbing sight of the notoriously meek and shy Pegasus violently beating the much larger and stronger unicorn, whose body was now covered in bruises and completely limp.

Fluttershy suddenly stopped kicking Dark Sky and took a step back. His body was no longer dark grey but now a hideous mix of dark green, black and blue.

What have I done? She thought as her mind slowly cleared and everything came back into focus. She shook her head to clear away the last of the anger and looked down at her hooves.

They were coated in a thin layer of red liquid. Was that blood? Fluttershy thought as she brought her hoof up to her face, her anger and rage fading to be replaced by that of panic.

She suddenly started to hyperventilate as the full gravity of her actions suddenly dawned on her. She looked around at the small crowd that had formed. Their faces were all the same. They were afraid of her. Fluttershy suddenly felt very light headed and collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

As soon as her body hit the ground the crowd all moved back in unison. Suddenly a door opened down the hallway and an older unicorn with a pair of glasses perched on his nose walked up. It was the school principal, Notebook.

“What is going on out here?” he said in a deep, rumbling voice. The school fillies all pointed at Fluttershy and Dark Sky’s unconscious bodies.

“Dear Celestia…” Principle Notebook whispered. “Somepony get the nurse.” He ordered and a filly darted off towards the nurses’ office.


Tree Flower quietly worked in her kitchen, washing dishes when the phone rang. She let out a sigh, pulled off her gloves and picked up the phone.

“Hello, this Tree Flower, to whom am I speaking?” there was a pause as the voice on the other end spoke. “Ah, Principal Notebook, what’s wrong? Has Fluttershy done something wrong?”

There was another pause as Principal Notebook continued to speak. The smile on Tree Flower’s face faded as she heard the principal's words.

“I’ll be there immediately.”


“Dr. Banner Wing Wing, I believe your daughter has some serious anger issues.” Principal Notebook said, taking off his reading glasses. In front of him sat Dr. Banner Wing and Tree Flower, having come to the school as soon as they heard the news.

“What makes you say that?” Banner Wing said, holding Tree Flower’s hoof tightly.

Principle Notebook sighed. “Well, I believe you know that your daughter has been the subject of bullying, am I correct?”

Banner Wing nodded. “Yes, sadly, but I’ve never been able to find out who’s responsible.”

Principle Notebook nodded his head. “Well, I’m sorry to say, but today she managed to put a pony in the hospital.”

Tree Flower gasped. “That’s impossible! She’s so gentle and kind.”

“Are you sure it’s was Fluttershy who did this?” Banner Wing said, doing his best to calm Tree Flower down. “I mean she’s just 90 pounds.”

“Well,” Notebook started shifting though the papers on his desk. “According to some eyewitness, this pony was bullying her and then, something just snapped and it seems she attacked them.”

Banner Wing shook his head. “Impossible. As we said before, she’s just too kind and gentle to be capable of this.”

Notebook pulled out another piece of paper. “Dr. Wing, I’m pretty sure as to her gentleness, but right here I have the medical report. Dark Sky, a unicorn, he got his head slammed into a locker, broke his horn, kicked violently and is now in a coma with six broken ribs and a broken jaw.”

He put the papers down. “Dr. Wing, these injuries were all caused by your daughter. Now I don’t believe one bit that she is a monster. In fact, she apparently fainted immediately after she beat up Dark Sky, but that being said, it’s no excuse for her to snap like that and put him in a coma. Are you absolutely sure she’s alright? Any fights at home or a pet’s death or something to make her prone to such outbursts?”

Banner Wing shook his head. “No, sir, as I said before, she’s the most gentle and kind filly you’ll ever meet, and I assure you that she has never in her entire life shown signs of being violent like this.”

Notebook let out a sigh. “Then I don’t know what to tell you Banner. This behavior isn’t normal. Now, since the circumstances are rather unique in this case, I’m not going to expel Fluttershy or anything. But I am going to recommend she see the school psychologist. Are you okay with this?”

Banner Wing nodded. “Of course.” And with that, him and Tree Flower quietly got up and walked out of the principal’s office.


It was late that night when Banner Wing awoke to the faint sound of running water.

Why is there water running at 2 AM? He thought as he climbed out of bed, making sure not to wake Tree Flower.

He slipped on a robe and quietly walked towards where the sound of running water was coming from.

He found the bathroom door slightly ajar, with the light on inside. He could tell that the shower was the source of the noise. Just as he was about to open the door to turn the water off, his ears caught the faint whispering of somepony.

"Oh please go away, go away, please..." the voice pleaded.

Banner Wing instantly recognized the voice.

It was Fluttershy.

"Fluttershy? Fluttershy are you okay?" he said. The whispering suddenly stopped cold, leaving only the sound of the shower running.

"D-daddy is that you?" Fluttershy's soft voice replied, it sounded like she had been crying.

"Yes Fluttershy, it's Daddy. What's wrong honey?" he asked, concern in his voice.

"It's the blood Daddy...it won't go away."

Banner Wing panicked, and instantly opened the bathroom door, fearing the worst.

The door swung open to reveal the small yellow figure of Fluttershy curled into a ball in the corner of the shower, water washing over her body as she constantly rubbed and wrung her hooves together, crying.

The first thing Banner Wing noticed about Fluttershy however, was the complete and total absence of injury or blood of any sort.

"Fluttershy what blood?" Banner Wing gently stepped forward, looking her over. "I can't see any blood."

"No Daddy, don't you see? It's all over my hooves." she reached her perfectly clean hooves towards Banner Wing, who inspected them.

"And..." Fluttershy was sobbing now. "No matter how much I clean them it won't go away." she let out another heaving sob, obviously immensely distressed.

Banner Wing gently took hold of Fluttershy's hoof and sat next to her, ignoring the fact that the shower was still running. He reached an arm and a wing around her shaking body and pulled her close.

"Oh Daddy...that pony's probably dead because of me..." Fluttershy sobbed, burying her face in Banner Wing's chest.

"What pony, Fluttershy?" Banner Wing asked, beginning to gently rock Fluttershy back and forth.

"Dark Sky..." Fluttershy whimpered.

Banner Wing was silent for a moment. To be honest, a part of him felt glad that that monster was in the hospital. However, the sight and sound of his daughter's distress at the thought of her harming somepony was impossible to ignore.

"Oh Fluttershy..." he gently ran a hoof through her hair to comfort her. "It's okay, look," he gently began to rub Fluttershy's hooves as if he were washing them with soap. "Daddy's going to make all the blood go away, okay?"

He gently ran his hooves over hers, and began to sing quietly to her.

"Hush now, quiet now, time to go to bed. Hush now quiet now, now lay your sleepy head..."

"Oh Daddy," Fluttershy whispered. "I don't want to hurt another pony ever again..."

"That's okay Fluttershy, you never will." he consoled her, returning to rocking her back and forth gently.

"I'm so scared Daddy..."

Banner Wing looked down at Fluttershy, who still had her head buried in his chest. "Scared of what?"

"Scared of being angry...I never want to be angry again..." she whispered.

"Oh don't be like that. You'll never hurt another pony again, I promise." he whispered in her ear.

"Never again."

Act II - 04 - God's Lonely Mare

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Four:
"God's Lonely Man"

Twenty Years Later:

Days Without Incident: 230

Fluttershy quietly organized the shelves in the local supermarket in the border town of Greifstadt. Being on the South Griffinhiem side of the border, the town’s population consisted mostly of griffins and ponies that, more often than not, were not welcome in Equestria.

Fluttershy herself was one of those unwelcome ponies. She had spent the last ten years on the run from the Equestrian government, hunted like a wild animal.

All because of New Fluttershy. New Fluttershy had appeared in Fluttershy’s life, and with her appearance, everything Fluttershy held dear was completely and utterly destroyed. But, finally, she had managed to scrape out a simple existence, and had settled down in the small border towns, hoping from town to town as necessary, usually every three months or so. Better to move constantly then to risk being found out again.

Of course, being in such close proximity to Equestria still meant she used a pseudonym. Currently, she had settled on the name Swift Breeze, which she had picked out at random from a crossword puzzle.

Her current job mostly consisted of organizing the shelves, cleaning the floors and bagging groceries. It wasn’t exactly the highest paying job, but the manager of the story didn’t ask any questions and it at least was enough to feed her every night.

Suddenly the voice of the store manager crackled over the PA system.

“Swift Breeze wanted in manager’s office, Swift Breeze wanted in manager’s office.”

Fluttershy’s heart stopped. What could she want with me? She thought. What if she found out about…Her? Various other paranoid thoughts raced through her mind as she stopped what she was doing and shakily started to walk towards the manager’s office.

The manager’s office had the name of the manger stamped on, “Penny Pincher, Manager”

Fluttershy took a deep breath, doing her best to calm down. Calm down Fluttershy, she hopefully hasn’t found out about Her Fluttershy mentally cringed at the next thought …and we don’t want to let Her out either…

She raised her hoof and gently knocked on the plate glass window of the door.

“Who is it?” the muffled voice of Penny Pincher asked from behind the door.

“Um, uh…it’s m-me Fl-Swift Breeze.” She quickly caught herself from revealing her real name. Get it together Fluttershy…

There was a pause. “Oh, yes, come in Swift Breeze, it’s unlocked.”

Fluttershy looked down at the door handle and gently pushed the door open, revealing Penny Pincher’s office.

Fluttershy had rarely, if ever, been in Penny Pincher’s office, so she was rather surprised by the look of the room. It didn’t really look like the office of a store manager at all, but more like that of a teenager’s room. The walls were adorned with various old pictures and posters of some old rock band, along with a plaque declaring Penny Pincher’s status as Primary Store Manger, five years running.

A small CD player sat tucked in the corner, with music playing rather quietly from its speakers. Penny Pincher herself sat at her desk, arms crossed.

“Ah, Swift Breeze, here, have a seat.” Penny Pincher motioned towards the front of her desk.

Fluttershy nodded and quietly sat down, being sure to hide behind her mane as much as possible.

“Care for a cigar Swift Breeze?” Penny Pincher asked, pulling out a rather large cigar and holding it out towards her.

Fluttershy shook her head. “N-no thank you. I d-don’t smoke.”

Penny Pincher shrugged. “Eh, suit yourself.” She lit the cigar and puffed.

There was a long silence between the two as the griffin smoked her cigar and Fluttershy simply sat there awkwardly, hiding behind her mane.

“Now, Swift Breeze,” Penny Pincher said around the cigar. “You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you into my office today...”

Fluttershy nodded. “Um, y-yes...I am…”

“Well, as much as it pains me to tell you this…” Penny Pincher paused, taking another puff from her cigar. “It seems that we’ve been forced to make some cuts around here, and well…” another puff. “It seems your name came up.”

Fluttershy felt her heart plummet like a stone at the griffin’s words.

“W-wait, you mean y-you’re firing me?”

Penny Pincher nodded. “Yup. Sorry, Swift Breeze, but it’s just how the ball rolls. I apologize with all my heart, but we just have to let you go.” She emphasized the last words with a flick of her talons.

“B-but what a-about my p-pay? How am I supposed to pay for my motel room, this job is all I have.” Fluttershy said, her emotions starting to get the better of her in the form of tears welling up in her eyes.

Penny Pincher gave Fluttershy a good long once over.

“Well….” She sighed, “I guess you can take home one last check, something to hold over until you can get a new job.” She put the now much smaller cigar out.

Fluttershy slumped her shoulders and sniffed. “Oh…okay then.” She got up and quietly walked out of the room, the now somber music oddly matching her gait.

“Once again, I’m very sorry.” Penny Pincher said as Fluttershy closed the door of the office as quietly as possible.

Once the door was shut, Fluttershy started to cry quietly, her tears forming a small pool on the ground.

However, her sadness slowly began to transform into another emotion.

That of anger and frustration; anger at the world for bullying up on her so much, and that every time something was starting to look up, the universe would drag her down again.

Stupid griffin. She thought. Why did they have to fire me? I’ve worked hard, obeyed the rules and yet they still fired me. Why? What did I do? Why I should... She suddenly stopped herself. She could feel it coming on.

One of her turns.

The distinct feeling of losing control began to cloud her mind. Panicking she looked in a window.

Oh no.

Her eyes were starting to turn a strange bright shade of green.

She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths.

Calm down Fluttershy...don’t get angry…being angry will only make things worse. Just breath in, breath out… She silently coached herself down from her angry wave. She opened her eyes again and checked her reflection. Her eyes were once more their normal beautiful shade of blue.

Letting out a breath she didn’t even know she was holding, she headed off to collect her paycheck, hoping it would be enough.

After all, things could be much worse.


“No please, you can’t!” Fluttershy begged as the motel manager forcefully pushed her out of the small motel.

“Um, yes, yes I can.” The griffin said, slamming the door in Fluttershy’s face. “If you don’t pay, you don’t stay.” His voice muffled by the glass door.

“But please, you don’t understand! I have nowhere else to go!” Fluttershy sobbed, pounding against the glass.

The griffin shrugged. “That sucks. But you were three months behind on your rent. Sorry pony.” He turned away and shuffled behind the front desk, pulling out a rather tattered old backpack, a hoodie and a small bracelet heart monitor and threw them out to Fluttershy.

“That’s yours right? Ain’t nothing else in your room I need to know about?” the griffin asked, crossing his arms, an impatient look on his face.

“N-no, that’s everything…” Fluttershy sniffed. “But p-please, I just g-got paid today, please take it.” She shuffled through her backpack, and pulled out a few bits, holding them out to the manager.

The manger’s eyes lit up at the sight of the money and he greedily snatched the money from her hoof. He counted it, muttering calculations.

“Well…” he continued to count the money, with Fluttershy watching and praying it would cover her bill.

“Nope. Still not enough.” The griffin sighed, pocketing the money.

“But please!” Fluttershy feel to her knees. “Please don’t throw me out…where will I stay?”

The griffin shrugged. “None of my business. Sure sucks to be you.” And with that, he turned around, and slammed the door of the motel behind him, leaving Fluttershy crying out in front.


Fluttershy pulled her hoodie tighter over her shivering body. It was a cold, cold night. Her breaths formed small clouds of mist in front her.

She had wandered for hours, hoping to find somewhere, anywhere were she could stay the night or until she had another job. But everywhere she went she was turned away. So, now, with nowhere else to go, she had been reduced to hunker down under an old deserted bridge on the edge of town.

She was completely and utterly alone in the world. She let out a quiet sob as she considered the state of her life.

Suddenly four shadows fell across Fluttershy’s body, distracting her from her dark revere.

“Well, well, well. Would you look at that?” Fluttershy looked up to see a young looking earth pony stallion with a bowler hat and dressed in a white suit. Tucked under his foreleg was a black cane.

To his left stood a large griffin, and a pegasus. To his right stood a unicorn. They were all wearing the same bowler hats and white suits. They all wore the same expression, one of malicious bemusement.

Fluttershy turned pale.

“W-w-what do y-you want with m-me?” she peeped, barely able to speak.

The earth pony laughed. “Well, my little darlin’, we figure that you might have some money to spare, eh?”

Fluttershy couldn’t quite get her head around what the pony was saying, but deep in the depths of her soul she knew it wasn’t good.

“I’m s-sorry, b-but I d-don’t t-think I have a-any m-money.” She panted.

The earth raised an eyebrow. “Oh ya sure?” He leaned in close to Fluttershy. He had a wicked smile on his face, and his eyes glinted with malevolence.

“Y-yes, q-quite sure.” Fluttershy whispered.

Suddenly the pegasus spoke up. “I don’t think the mare has any money Alex.”

The earth pony shot the Pegasus an angry look. “Shut your rot.” He spat and turned back to Fluttershy.

“Well,” he sighed. “It seems this mare don’t have any money, my friends.” He stood back up. He looked at his fellow goons. “What do you guys think? Should we have a little fun with this little mare?” he cast another wicked smile in her direction. “Oh!” his eyes instantly widened as they fell on her backpack.

“Oh well, well, well!” the earth pony reached down and picked up Fluttershy’s backpack in his teeth and chucked it in front of his companions.

“Would you look at that my droogies?” he chuckled. “It seems the mare was hiding something.” He turned towards the griffin. “Dim, check that will you?”

The griffin nodded, and picked the backpack up and rummaged for a few seconds. “Nothin’ here.” He spilled the contents of the backpack on the floor. “Just a bunch of pills.”

The earth pony cast a quick glance at the pile of bottles now laying on the ground.

“Hmm…” he huffed. “That won’t do now will my friends?”

The others all nodded and muttered their agreement.

“Well then. It seems we’ve got a bum on our hooves, do we?” His voice taking an even disturbing tone if that was possible. The others chuckled, sounding like a group of lecherous dogs.

“P-please,” Fluttershy begged. “D-don’t h-hurt me, p-please.” Her mind quickly becoming overwhelmed with fear.

The earth pony simply laughed louder. “HA! Don’t worry darlin’, we’re only gonna teach ya a little lesson in generosity eh?” He pulled out the cane from under his foreleg, with a twisted grin on his face. “Ready boys?”

And with that he brought the cane down hard onto Fluttershy’s side.

Before Fluttershy even had a chance to respond the three others let loose with their respective weapons, sending sharp bursts of pain through Fluttershy’s body. She felt herself beginning to lose control as the sound of her heart rate monitor mixed with the sound of various weapons impacting her body.

Her vision suddenly went a strange shade of bright green.

Oh no. Was Fluttershy’s only thought as she felt her fear and pain transform into another, much more deadly feeling.

The feeling of pure unbridled rage.

Then everything went black.


Flutterhulk felt countless pinpricks of pain. Instantly it shot a foreleg out in the general direction of the pain.

A shriek cut through the air as the unicorn thug went flying and slammed into the wall across the way.

Flutterhulk then grabbed the griffin by the tail and slammed him into the wall, his body going completely limp in Flutterhulk’s hooves.

The pegasus tried to flee only to be slammed by a swipe of Flutterhulk’s hooves. He went flying into the bridge above, his body falling to the ground like a rag doll.

This left the earth pony that had already begun to run as fast as his legs could carry him. He didn’t get far before Flutterhulk turned and thundered after him.

Flutterhulk slammed a hoof down on the fleeing pony’s leg, completely crushing it.

He screamed in pain and turned his face now completely pale.

“NO! Please!” he begged.

FLUTTERHULK SMASH PUNY EARTH PONY!!!!” Flutterhulk roared, and brought it’s fists down directly on top of the trembling pony, crushing him like a bug.

Again and again, Flutterhulk slammed it’s hooves down onto the pavement until the pony below was nothing more than a bloody pulp.

Flutterhulk then let out a defiant roar, and, with that, galloped away.

Days Without Incident: 0


A rather small slate grey unicorn mare with a slightly messy dark red mane stood in stood in the general's office.

She wore a rather well worn black windbreaker with the NEIGHS' logo on the back. Tucked in the front pocket of her windbreaker where a pair of aviator sunglasses and her badge. On her flank was a pair of closed hoofcuffs.

She was Equestria's finest fugitive hunter and expert on all things related to her job. Never in her entire ten year career had a fugitive escaped her grasp. In fact, she had been so good at her job, that she eventually was promoted from the Equestrian Marshall's to Equestria's top tier security organization, NEIGHS.

She was Hoofcuff, and she was bored out of her mind.

Director Armor had ordered her to the office of the general for reasons that were unknown to her. She had spent the better part of an hour scanning along the walls where various decorations, paintings and old photos, all showing off the military exploits of past generals. One painting in particular was now the center of Hoofcuff's attention.

It was a rather nice oil painting that showed an orange earth pony mare in what honestly looked like an outfit from a comic book leading her platoon into battle.

On the bottom was a label which read, "Captain Equestria in combat, 1944" and the name of the artist, one Clean Canvas.

Huh, Hoofcuff thought. Interesting….

"Mighty proud of that painting there. It's an original." The low voice of the general caught Hoofcuff's attention. She spun around and was met with a tall Minotaur with the build of a football linebacker.

"Oh, hello General Iron Will, nice to meet you." She reached a slate grey hoof out in greeting. General Iron Will nodded, and shook her hoof.

"Welcome, Agent Hoofcuff, please. Sit down." His voice was welcoming as he motioned to in front of his lavish desk.

"Don't mind if I do." Hoofcuff sat down and started to make herself comfortable, while the general himself sat in a opulent leather chair. Scattered along his oak desk were several dozen manila folders that looked like they were about to explode, several small pictures showing him with various important political figures, boxes of pens and pencils and a jar of Sugarcube Corner's Finest Caramel's.

"Now, Miss Hoofcuff-" Iron Will began, picking up one of the manila folders.

"Please, call me Agent Hoofcuff." Hoofcuff said, her expression hardening slightly. She had spent a good ten years working to be an equal with stallions, and as such, she had developed an intense dislike of the term 'Miss'.

Iron Will smiled. "Okay then Agent," he opened the folder he held in his hands. "I'll be the first to say I don't really like it when Director Armor starts poking around in my business, but, the guys up top like him. That's really the only reason I let you on. Understand?"

Hoofcuff nodded. "Yes. Yes I understand that perfectly."

Iron Will nodded slightly. "You're probably wondering why I've called you into my office today." He started laying the various papers out on the desk.

"Yes, yes I am." Hoofcuff replied as she eyed the papers. All the papers were covered in a red stamp that said 'Top Secret'. This caught Hoofcuff's attention.

"Do you need me to find somebody, because if so, then I'm the mare for the job."

Iron Will nodded, not looking up from the papers. "Yes, as a matter of fact we do. We need you to find this mare right here. She is the single most dangerous mare in Equestria, and is responsible for the deaths of at least twenty ponies." He pulled out a paper and handed it to Hoofcuff, who took it up in her magic.

On the paper was a rather old looking color photo of a yellow pegasus with a long, flowing pink mane.

Hoofcuff raised an eyebrow. "Fluttershy Braveheart?" she thought aloud as she read the name of the pegasus. She had learned from her years of experience that it was often the quiet ones that where the most dangerous. But this mare? For one thing, up until now, she didn't even know this fugitive existed. And second of all, never in her life had Hoofcuff seen such an innocent face on such a killer. In fact, innocent might not have been the right word for it, but fearful. The pony in the picture looked almost as if the very idea of being photographed frightened her.

Hoofcuff paged through the folder, carefully taking in every detail about this mare.

Apparently, five years ago, this mare had stolen some government secrets, and, during her escape, had somehow managed to kill an entire squad of guards. Then, she seemingly dropped off the face of the planet entirely, popping up rarely, leaving a trail of dead in her wake.

As strange as this all seemed, this pony was obviously a grave threat to Equestria and needed to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

"Well, are you up for it?" the general asked.

"General…" Hoofcuff said, finally closing the folder. "It seems to me that this just might be the catch of my career. Are you sure this is all the information you have on her?" She set the folder down on the desk.

"Yes. This is all." Iron Will said, his face determined. "So…are you up for it."

Hoofcuff got up and saluted. "Of course. Me and my boys will find her, wherever she is, and make sure she is brought the justice she deserves."

Iron Will smiled. It looked like a confident smile, but something about it made Hoofcuff suddenly feel uneasy.

"Excellent Hoofcuff. I do have one important thing to tell you."

"Really? What?"

"The Equestrian government is obviously greatly concerned and expects that this mission will be a success, so, in order to make sure that you are able to properly complete your mission, me and a special commando unit will be aiding you in this mission."

Hoofcuff nearly did a spit take at the general's words. "What?! Why? Me and my boys are perfectly able to catch this pegasus."

Iron Will shook his head. "Unless you forgot, this mare singlehandedly killed more than twenty ponies in the space of an hour. You'll need all the help you can get on this mission."

Hoofcuff groaned. "But I work best when me and my boys are uninhibited. I don't need any special ops unit."

Iron Will stood up straight, his tall bipedal frame suddenly towering over Hoofcuff.

"Agent Hoofcuff, you will rendezvous with my unit at Canterlot Airfield at exactly 06:00 tomorrow. Or do you want this murderer to escape?" His voice was low and cold, bearing no semblance to the welcoming voice from before.

There was a pause between the two, neither saying a word. "No sir I do not." Hoofcuff finally said, taking a step back.

"Good." Iron Will said, picking up the folder from the desk and walking towards the door. "See you tomorrow."

"Yes sir." Hoofcuff replied as she followed him out of the office.


Hoofcuff stood near the entrance of the hanger. Canterlot Airfield stretched out before her, covered in a thin veil of morning mist. Despite the early hour, the airfield cluttered with various pegasi and hot air balloons that were either landing or descending. A tremendous zeppelin loomed behind her, ready to be taxied out to the airfield.

Stupid general... She thought. This is exactly why I like to work alone…always late…

Next to her stood a rather tall and thin unicorn pony with a salt and pepper mane and an off white coat. He wore a brand new pair of aviator sunglasses and windbreaker that matched Hoofcuff's and chewed a piece of gum. On his flank was a flashlight and a starburst pattern, indicating his cutie mark.

"Starlight, where the hay is the general? He said he'd be here." Hoofcuff grumbled taking a glance at her watch.

The unicorn shook his head. "Don't know Boss." He scanned the airfield. "Wait, is that him?" He pointed towards a small closed in jeep with tinted windows driving towards them.

Hoofcuff took a long look. "Yeah…that's him alright."

The jeep came to a stop in front of them, and the doors opened to reveal General Iron Will, in fatigues and a hat. Behind him stepped out a well toned snow white pegasus with a blonde mane cut in the standard military mane cut.

"Ah, Hoofcuff, nice to see you came." Iron Will said, extending a hoof in greeting. Hoofcuff shook it rather tersely.

"General, you said that I should be rendezvous with your unit no later than 06:00 and its 06:30. What took you?"

The General scoffed. "Oh don't be such a bitch Hoofcuff."

Hoofcuff tensed up at the remark. She hated being called that.

"I needed to pick up my most crucial team member." The General motioned towards the white pegasus, who simply stared at Hoofcuff, his eyes covered by his own pair of sunglasses.

"And this is?" Hoofcuff asked, giving the mysterious pegasus a once over. Iron Will turned and looked at the pegasus. Something about him made Hoofcuff feel uneasy, almost as if he was wound far too tight and he might suddenly explode at any moment.

"Oh, right. Hoofcuff, I'd like you to meet Snowflake, former Black Ops." The General said.

At this, the white pegasus nodded and extended a hoof mechanically. "Pleasure to meet you ma'am." He said in a vaguely Scoltish accent. Hoofcuff shook his hoof.

"Same here." She turned to Iron Will. "So you were saying?"

Iron Will handed her a portfolio. "In there are his credentials. You will see that he is one of the most decorated ponies in the force right now, and he has agreed to aid us in our search for the target."

Hoofcuff was silent as she paged through the portfolio. Iron Will was right. It seemed that this Snowflake here had singlehandedly managed to acquire almost every possible military honor. He had been in almost every military operation in the past ten years and in each one seemingly went out of his way to be noticed.

Maybe he's making up for something. Hoofcuff mentally snickered at the thought.

"Impressive." She finally said, levitating the portfolio back to Iron Will. "So, General, when are we setting out?"

"Today. We've just received some crucial information regarding the whereabouts of our fugitive."

Haoofcuff raised an eyebrow. Finally, something that was relevant to her interests. "Really? What?"

General Iron Will motioned towards the zeppelin behind Hoofcuff. "Come aboard and you'll find out."

Hoofcuff nodded and motioned towards Starlight, who followed behind her. The three ponies and minotaur entered the zeppelin and the ramp retracted and the door sealed behind them. Their way down the halls and into what looked like a small conference room.

"Sit down." Iron Will motioned to the table in the office. The three ponies sat down. The lights in the room went out and a projector showed a simple slide show on the screen across the room.

Iron Will cleared his throat. "Okay then. Two days ago, we received some reports of a mare matching the description of our particular little filly coming from the border town of Greifstadt." The sound of the slide projector changing slides was accompanied by what looked like crime scene photos.

Hoofcuff nearly jumped up at the sight.

In one of the pictures, several police officers, a mix of pony and griffin, stood at the edge of the photo. In the center of the photo was a pummeled pile of pulp that looked disturbingly like a body of a pony.

"What in Celestia's name caused that?!" Starlight's voice came from behind Hoofcuff.

"That, Agent Starlight, was caused by our fugitive." Iron Will's words were accompanied by the same photo of Fluttershy that Hoofcuff had seen in the portfolio from the day before.

"Seriously?" Starlight said, his voice betraying his skepticism. "She's the one?"

"Do not be deceived by her apparent innocence. This pony, as you've seen, is capable of incredibly sadistic acts of violence." Once again, Iron Will's words were followed by a new slide, this time showing a griffin in a body cast.

"I take it she caused that as well?" Snowflake's voice came from the left of Hoofcuff.

"Yes. Yes she did." Iron Will responded.

The muffled voice of Starlight saying "Holy crap" greeted Hoofcuff's ears.

Hoofcuff said nothing; instead, she intensely studied each and every slide. She had hunted her fare share of psychopaths and sadists over the course of her career, but the one thing they all had in common, besides their blatant disregard for pony life, was patterns.

Every killer had a pattern, a modus operandi. And, no matter how many slides Hoofcuff saw, that was the one thing lacking from Fluttershy's killing sprees.

It seemed that whenever this pony killed somepony, they would do it in the most violent and out of control way as possible. Almost as if they had no control of their actions.

The only thing that linked said deaths together was one thing. All their injuries were almost always in the form of massive blunt force trauma, like that of a baseball bat or a punch. Except on a scale never before seen by Hoofcuff.

One victim, a griffin, had apparently his entire beak shattered and his legs completely shattered as well.

Iron Will all the while continued to talk, narrating each slide in detail.

"Excuse me General." Hoofcuff raised a hoof.

"Yes?" Iron Will paused.

"Would you happen to have any information regarding this fugitive's life before she was hunted? Something like family members or an old home address?" she turned to face Iron Will, holding a hoof up to block the light of the projector from hitting her square in the face.

Iron Will was quiet for a moment. "You don't need to know anything about that. Haven't you seen enough? This mare is obviously a threat to the entire nation of Equestria. Now your job is to find her, wherever she is, and capture her, ALIVE and bring her back to Canterlot where we can then decide for a proper punishment for her crimes. Understand?" He snapped.

Hoofcuff nodded, taken somewhat aback by the General's sudden showing of aggression. "Yes sir, I just like to have all the information I can get on a target before I set out for them. That way I can more accurately predict their next move."

Iron Will scoffed. "You don't need any of that for her. As I said, she is a sadistic killer and that is all."

Suddenly the screen went blank and the light turned back on, causing all the ponies' eyes to blink rapidly as they adjusted to the sudden presence of light. Iron Will rolled up the screen and turned to Hoofcuff, Starlight and Snowflake.

"Now, this zeppelin is taking us to Greifstadt where you will be filled in on all other details. You are dismissed." He waved his hand and the three ponies got up and exited the room, leaving Iron Will alone.

He looked down at a large portfolio that sat on the table. He opened it, revealing its contents. Various photos of Fluttershy, taken over the course of the ten year hunt. One in particular was at center of his attention.

It showed Fluttershy, wearing a baseball cap and hoodie, looking over her shoulder, almost as if to make sure nopony was following her. A look of fear and unease was on her face.

"Soon I'll find you…and when I do…" Iron Will picked up the photo. "Equestria will be safe from you. Forever…"

Act II - 05 - The Long and Winding Road

View Online

Act Two:
“You Better Run”

Chapter Five:
“The Long and Winding Road”

Hoofcuff quietly surveyed the crime scene in Greifstadt. Suddenly a loud voice called out from behind her.

"Hey babe! You ever been with a REAL male?"

Hoofcuff turned at the sound of the voice. She was greeted by a couple of teenage griffins males, all eyeing her rather lustfully. Her horn flared and a bolt of magic went flying in their direction, sending them scattering with them shouting expletives as they flew off.

Stupid punks, she thought. Looking around, she saw the various military troops from Iron Will's unit mulling about, idly chatting or standing guard.

She trotted over towards one of them.

"Excuse me, but can we put a tarp up or something, we seem to have become quite the spectacle." She pointed over towards the covered carcass and the growing crowd of curious onlookers.

The soldier nodded, barking some orders to a pair of unicorn troops who nodded and lit their horns, encasing the crime scene in a special magical dome that allowed the ponies on the inside to see out, but those on the outside couldn't see in.

Almost as if they've never seen police before. She thought.

Hoofcuff let out a contented sigh as she watched the group quickly disperse, having quickly lost their enthusiasm, now that the dome was in place. Hoofcuff hated being watched, made her feel like she was under a microscope or something.

She turned towards the crime scene. She once more took in the scene, content that she wasn't being distracted by any unwanted noises.

The body under the tarp honestly didn't even look like that of a pony. It pummeled and bludgeoned beyond recognition, and the only thing even hinting that this might once have been alive was the scraps of white clothing that poked out here and there.

Starlight walked up, still chewing his gum. "Geez Boss, that's the single most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life. Looks like a big bowl of gumbo or something."

Hoofcuff gave Starlight a frustrated look. "Starlight, if you just want to randomly point out the corpse, please, I had at least thirty griffin's doing that about thirty seconds ago." She pointed towards the dome, where a couple of the griffins remained, idly watching the dome and tossing small rocks at it every so often, causing it to ripple like a pool of water.

There was an awkward silence between the two as they both looked at the corpse.

"Starlight," Hoofcuff finally said, "Did you happen to get around to those interviews I asked for? The ones with the survivors of the attack?"

Starlight nodded. "Yeah Boss I did."


Starlight pulled out a small notebook with his magic that was covered in random doodles.

"Well boss, the griffin survivor said that our friend who caused all this turned green or something. He has trouble remembering."

Hoofcuff raised an eyebrow. "Turned green? Are you serious?"

Starlight nodded. "Yeah, the other guy said so as well. Said he was tossed from there…" he pointed to a couple dozen feet away where a tattered old backpack lay. "…to over there." He brought his hoof around so it pointed at the opposite wall, where, as if to confirm it, there was a small indent.

Hoofcuff said nothing as she trotted over to the backpack. It was a rather normal looking bag, with its contents spilled on the floor. Its contents consisted almost entirely of bottles of various sizes, all containing various forms of pain killers.

"Well, well…" Hoofcuff muttered as she levitated an evidence bag over and placed several of the bottles inside it, sealing it with a spell so it couldn't be tampered with. She then motioned towards Starlight who trotted over.

"Get this," she levitated him the bag. "Over to the evidence ponies, tell them to check it for hoofprints and such. And take the bag too."

Starlight nodded and took both bags in his magic and trotted over to a soldier, who nodded and proceeded to take the bags to a tent where the evidence was being studied.

Hoofcuff turned back to the crime scene. Weird, she thought, suddenly noticing two large, hoof shaped indentations in the ground to her left. What's this?

The weird shapes in the ground reminded Hoofcuff of hoofprints, but they seemed too much too large to be that of any pony she knew about.

She put her own hoof inside one of the holes. Whatever caused these marks had hooves at least six times the size of mine. She thought. What on earth could cause that?

She then trotted over to the opposite wall, where the imprint of the unicorn was still in the wall. She looked back towards the opposite end. Running some calculations in her head, she motioned towards Starlight.

"Starlight, how far would you make it between each of these walls?"

Starlight looked between the walls, and Hoofcuff could tell he was running some calculations of his own.

"Um….I'd say about…twenty-five feet or something. Why?" he gave her a quizzical look.

Hoofcuff then trotted over. "Well, Starlight, if what the victims are saying is true, then that means our friend managed to toss a two hundred pound unicorn twenty-five feet without so much as a second thought. What kind of pony is capable of that?"

Starlight looked at Hoofcuff and then at the crime scene. "Well, maybe she got a unicorn to jack her up, like with that crazy Fillydelphia bat nut."

Hoofcuff nodded. "I guess…" she scanned the bridge, hooves tapping the ground lightly. Something wasn't adding up. For one thing, how could a pony the size of Fluttershy be capable of such destruction? Also, if it was her, why were there those strange hoofprint like holes in the ground?

"Starlight, did you notice that." She pointed towards one of the holes in the ground.

Starlight nodded. "Yeah, I was wondering about that too. Guy had big hooves, that's for sure."

"That's if it is a pony…honestly things are looking awful suspicious…" Hoofcuff said, warily eyeing one of the guards, who simply waved back.

"What do you mean boss? I mean, everything so far is checking out with that Iron Will told us, a bunch of random blunt force trauma and dead ponies. What's suspicious?"

Hoofcuff huffed. "Starlight, I'm not one to go around piping wild conspiracy theories, you know this, but look at the evidence. We've got a small pegasus pony that apparently was able to kill two ponies with her bare hooves, crushing one to a pulp and slamming the other into the roof above…" she pointed at the hole above. "And throw a four hundred pound griffin like a rag doll. They're hiding something. I can feel it."

Starlight gave Hoofcuff a long look. "So what would they be hiding, if they're hiding anything?"

"I don't know…but something, maybe she is being jacked up by spells I don't know. I'll ask Snowflake about it, hopefully he'll be straight with me. Maybe they told him something because he's military." Hoofcuff said as she turned. Starlight cocked an eyebrow.

"But we're NEIGHS. If it were a secret, wouldn't he have told us?"

Hoofcuff shrugged. "General Iron Will told me right off the bat that he doesn't like Director Armor poking around, and these military nuts are always big on keeping it 'in the clique'. So it's worth a shot right?" she answered as she began to walk over to Snowflake, whom, the entire time, had been intensely studying the crime scene.

"Snowflake, can I ask you something?"

Snowflake spun around and snapped to attention. "Yes, what do you want?"

Hoofcuff leaned in. "Snowflake, did the General tell you any more information about Fluttershy besides what he told all of us?"

Snowflake paused and tensed up slightly. "Um, no ma'am he did not." Hoofcuff noticed he seemed to be hiding something.

"Okay then…" Hoofcuff finally said, making sure to mask her suspiciousness with a laid back tone. "Just remember, don't call me 'ma'am'. I really do prefer Agent Hoofcuff, okay?"

"Affirmative, Agent Hoofcuff." With that, Snowflake returned to studying the crime scene.

Oh he's definitely hiding something, Hoofcuff thought as she herself returned to her part of the crime scene.

Don't know what exactly, but it's something….


Days Without Incident: 1

The moon rose over the distant mountains as Fluttershy plowed onward. She hadn’t stopped walking since she came to, knowing that since New Fluttershy got out, the government would probably be right on her tail.

Her body groaned and ached in protest as it always did after an incident. Her hooves were now raw from her walking, her old horseshoes lost after the transformation. She hoped that somewhere there would be a place where she could stay the night and not attract attention.

It was freezing cold, and her breath made small clouds in front of her. But Fluttershy had lost her hoodie, leaving her exposed to the elements. She'd had to go dumpster diving for something to cover herself, and now only had an old, beat up, funny smelling trench coat to protect her from the full brunt of the frigid South Griffinhiem nights.

And that’s when she caught sight of something.

It looked somewhat like a house, Fluttershy honestly couldn’t tell in the darkness. There was a small lamp next to the building that lit up the front porch.

I really should keep going. She thought. Can’t stay in one place too long...they’ll find me for sure that way.

The building steadily grew in size until she was standing right in front of it. She paused. Her body once more groaned and sent sharp pains through her legs. She looked at the road ahead. It stretched on for what seemed like forever with absolutely no signs of civilization. She looked back at the building. It was a small home with a mailbox in the front. It reminded Fluttershy of her home in Ponyville.

At least…when I had a home.

She let out a sigh and tried to continue walking, but her body continued to protest her every movement.

Suddenly a voice called out to her. She tensed up and turned to look in the direction of the source of the voice.

It was a rather short looking griffin who stood on the front porch, babbling on in what sounded like Griffin or Old Scoltish, she couldn't tell. He beckoned towards her.

Fluttershy looked around. The road was totally and utterly deserted aside from herself. Against her better judgment she turned and walked towards the griffin, who seemed quite ecstatic.

“Lassie!” he suddenly said in Equestrian and a very thick Scoltish accent.

Fluttershy smiled slightly, No use being rude, she thought.

“Um…hello…” she replied, waving meekly.

The griffin smiled and walked up to her. “Hello lassie, what possessed ye to be out here on this frigid night aye?” he extended a talon in greeting.

“I um….” Fluttershy searched her mind for an excuse. “I think I got lost.”

“Really? ‘tis a shame lassie. Come inside, the fire’s warm and I have some soup a brewin’.” He motioned towards his home.

“Um…that would be really nice, but I really must keep going.” Fluttershy insisted, and tried to walk away.

“Nonsense lassie! It’s only fifteen degrees outside tonight! That beat up old rag ain't gonna help!" he replied, motioning towards the coat she was wearing as he walked over. "An' ye hooves look horrible! I insist, deary, come inside me house 'fore ye catch a cold or worse.” He put an arm around her and began to escort her to the house. Fluttershy reluctantly went along with it, deep down being glad with the prospect of being out of the cold.

They entered the house and the griffin closed the door behind him.

“Here’s me humble abode lassie.” The griffin motioned towards the living room. It consisted almost entirely of a table and a few chairs, a small fireplace where a kettle was brewing, and two beds. There was a door on the left that Fluttershy assumed was the bathroom, and another door that lead to a small bedroom.

“Um…wow…this is rather nice…” Fluttershy said, savoring the warmth that the fire provided.

“Aye, that it is. Not a mansion, but good enough for me and my Gladys.”

As if on cue, a loud female voice shouted from inside the bedroom. “HAMISH! What ‘ave ya managed to bring home now ya crazy wanker!”

Fluttershy darted behind the table at the sudden noise. The boy griffin simply laughed. “Oh don’t be scared lassie, that’s Gladys.” He then walked over to the bedroom and leaned in, his head disappearing into the room.

“Gladys honey, don’t be so vulgar. We ‘ave a guest.” His voice came from inside the bedroom.

“What guests come over at 3 AM Hamish!” the rather abrasive voice of Gladys screeched.

“Honey, if’in you just come out of yer cocoon and say hello…” Hamish replied, his voice sounding like he’d had this conversation many times in the past.

There was an indistinct groan and suddenly the male griffin, who was apparently named Hamish, appeared again.

“Lassie, I’d like ya ta meet me beloved wife of thirty years, Gladys.” He made a theatrical wave of his talons and a girl griffin, done up in curlers, appeared.

She eyed Fluttershy rather aggressively.

“Hamish,” she squawked. “This is a pony. What’s a pony doin’ in me house at this hour?” she crossed her talons and gave Hamish a dirty look. Hamish simply smiled.

“Now, now Gladys, this here wee lassie was a-wanderin’ outside alone. Are ya seriously going to throw this poor filly out in the cold night air?” he put a talon on Fluttershy’s shoulder.

Fluttershy hid behind her mane again. “Y-you know…I could just leave….if t-that’s okay with you.”

Hamish looked down at Fluttershy. “Nonsense lassie! As I said, it’s too cold out fer ya an' yer hooves are in no condition fer walkin'. How’s about ya stay the night eh?” he smiled a warm smile at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy blushed slightly, and thought about his offer.

Here was a nice, kind hearted fellow who was totally willing to let a complete and total stranger stay at his house for the night.

Gladys, however, only glowered at them. “Hamish, are ya seriously lettin’ a total stranger stay at the house?”

Hamish simply laughed and walked over to Gladys. “Gladys, deary, where’s the beautiful, kind hearted girl I married all them years ago? She would never let a lass like that stay out on a cold night like this would she?”

Gladys rolled her eyes. “She went ta bed ‘bout two hours ago.”

“Well wake her again, ‘cause this here mare is in need of lodging.” He gave her a playful nudge.

Fluttershy didn’t say a word as she watched the two. She was quite exhausted and simply wanted some rest.

Gladys let out a sigh, rolled her eyes, and gave Hamish a gentle hug. “Okay then…” her voice contained none of the venom from before, but rather a tone like that of a rather tried, but patient housewife. “She can stay the night.” She then looked at Fluttershy, her expression softening. “And goodness knows the lass is rather pitiful lookin’. Awful thin too. ‘ave ya eaten anythin’ lass?”

Fluttershy slowly shook her head.

“Oh righty then, I guess we can spare some soup an' shoes then.” Gladys shrugged and walked over to the fireplace. “Do ya happen to ‘ave a name lassie?” she asked as she knelt down and poured out a bowl of soup.

Fluttershy let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding and smiled. “Um, uh, yes…it’s…” she paused, mentally going down her checklist of crossword puzzle names. “You can call me Golden Feathers.”

“That’s a fine name.” Hamish chuckled as he sat down at the table. Gladys poured two more bowls and the three them all sat down and went about eating their soup.

Fluttershy quietly ate her soup, a wistful smile on her face. She thought back to the dinners she would have with her family. All of that was gone now of course, but at least right now, in this moment, she felt as if she was home.

Wow, she thought. Maybe things will start looking up for a change.


The next day, Fluttershy bid the old couple goodbye.

They had insisted that she stay, but, after breakfast, Fluttershy decided to leave, instead of risking her hurting them somehow.

They had been incredibly kind to her, having provided her with a pair of boots that were a size too big to cover her worn hooves, a new backpack, a coat and enough money they said to get her to the next town. She had asked if they had anything for her aches, and Hamish had been kind enough to lend her some pills without a second thought.

However, within a few hours of walking, all the happiness in Fluttershy had had been drained dry by the desert air. Night had fallen once again, and with it, the temperatures too. She pulled her coat a little tighter.

Her stomach rumbled as she continued onward, her aches once more making their presence known. She hadn’t eaten since that morning, and now she was regretting not asking for some food as well.

Her eyes however, caught sight of a small diner.

Her lost energy came back at the thought of food and her pace quickened ever so.

She arrived at the diner after a few minutes, and finally got a chance to see a name for the establishment.

A large neon sign blinked on and off with the words “Welcome to Gus’ Gourmet Greasy Spoon, home of the finest fried food this side of the Griffin Pass.”

Fluttershy smiled slightly, the thought of anything warm filling her stomach being a welcome thought.

She took a deep breath and opened the door. A small bell tinkled as the door swung open and she walked in.

The diner was completely bare, with the exception of a single apparently middle aged griffin who was wiping the counter. At the sound of the bell he looked up from his work and smiled.

“Hello, I’m Gus.” He said in Equestrian, if with a noticeable Scoltish accent.

Fluttershy nodded. “Hello.” She answered quietly as she quietly walked up to the counter and sat down.

“Well, you seem to be a pony. Don’t see many of those around here.” Gus said as he started to wipe the counter again. “Do you want something to eat?”

Fluttershy nodded. She figured that if she remained quiet she could simply eat and maybe ask for directions to the nearest motel.

“Well, I don’t normally serve ponies here, but I’ll see what I have, aye?” Gus said as he pulled out a small menu and slid it over to Fluttershy. “Take a look, see if there’s anything you like.”

“Thank you.” Fluttershy said as she opened the menu. She looked over the contents. Most of it was various forms of meat and most of it was completely covered in some form of fried crust or gravy.

Wow, is there anything on this menu that isn’t swimming in gravy? Fluttershy thought to herself as she paged through the menu. Her eyes eventually settled on some hay fries.

“Well? Anything?” Gus asked, leaning on the counter.

"Um, yeah, I think I'll have some hay fries and some water...if that’s okay with you." Fluttershy said.

The griffin nodded. "Sure thing lassie." he turned towards the kitchen window. "Oi! Klaus!" he shouted into the kitchen.

A large burly diamond dog wearing a chef hat appeared in the window.

"Vat?" he grumbled in an incredibly think South Griffinheim accent.

"Klaus, give this here fair lassie a spot of hay fries and water aye?" Gus said.

The diamond dog shot Fluttershy a quick glance. "Jawhol." he grumbled.

With that he turned and disappeared into the kitchen.

Gus returned to wipe down the counter. "Well, lassie, they oughta be 'round in a minute, okay?" Fluttershy nodded.

They sat there for a moment, neither speaking as Gus wiped the counter and Fluttershy simply sat there, looking at her reflected image.

Gus suddenly stopped wiping the counter and looked at Fluttershy. "You know lassie, I never got yer name." he said, smiling again.

Fluttershy's head snapped up from the counter. She had been worrying about this. Maybe, she thought, just maybe he won't know who I am, like the others...

"Um, you can call me Golden Feathers." she said, reusing the name she'd given to the old couple, as she quickly hid behind her mane, mentally kicking herself for using the same name twice.

"Ah, Golden Feathers, eh? Fine name lassie. Had a girlfriend named that once," Gus said, resting his elbow on the counter. "Funny thing was that she was totally bald, so no idea how the lass got that name." he chuckled to himself.

Suddenly the bell at the door rung again, sending the hairs on the back of Fluttershy's neck on end. She shot a quick glance over her shoulder to see a gang of five boy griffins, all wearing black leather jackets, strode in. She quickly looked back down at the counter and tried to look as small as possible. She could feel her heart rate jump slightly.

"Hello, what can I get ya lads?" Gus said, approaching the apparent leader of the quartet.

The other griffin nodded. "Yeah, you can get me and my clutch here some cider. But the good, hard stuff, not that watered down shit."

Gus nodded. "Sure thing. Anything else?"

The other griffin shrugged. "Nah." he waved his claw dismissively and walked over to one of the tables and sat down, motioning to his friends.

Gus nodded and turned to the fountain when a small bell rung, causing him to turn towards the kitchen.

"Nahrung für das Pony." Klaus grumbled, sliding out a plate of piping hot hay fries. Gus nodded.

"Thank you Klaus." Gus said, taking the plate from the window and setting down in front of Fluttershy.

"Now careful there lass, that’s hot aye?" Klaus said, turning to fill a small glass of water for her and setting it next to the plate.

Fluttershy smiled, the thought of fresh food making her forget her aching bones and tired body. She reached into her bag and fished out her bottle of painkillers, which she opened and popped out two small bright orange pills.

She popped them into her mouth and swallowed them, taking a snip of her water. She put the bottle of pills back into her backpack, zipping it shut.

Meanwhile, one of the griffins took it upon himself and walked over to a jukebox in the corner and clicked through the selection. He eventually settled on an oldie and clicked play.

A deafeningly loud series of guitar chords began to burst from the jukebox speakers and the griffin started to move to the rather brutal music and sat down with his peers.

Meanwhile, Fluttershy did her best to avoid attracting attention and quietly ate her hay fries, hoping that the griffins wouldn’t take notice of her.

Gus emerged from behind the counter with four large cider mugs in his claws, overflowing with cider. He walked over to the table where the other griffins sat and set the glasses on the table.

“Will there be anything else lads?” Gus asked.

The leader of the griffin shot him a dirty look. “Nothin’. Piss off.”

Gus simply shrugged and walked back behind the counter, seemingly not taking any offense to the other griffin. He picked up a glass and started to wipe it.

Fluttershy finished her hay fries and gently pushed the plate forward.

“Ah, done already lassie? Didja like ‘em?” Gus asked, still wiping the glass.

Fluttershy nodded. “Thank you. I hope this covers it.” She quietly pulled some bits out of her pocket and plopped them on the counter.

Before Gus had a chance to take the money, the doorbell rung, and a rather grizzled looking girl griffin walked in, wearing a black leather jacket with yellow stripes.

Gus set the glass he was cleaning down and waved at the girl griffin, who now sat at the counter a couple of chairs away from Fluttershy.

Fluttershy pulled her coat collar up and did her best to remain unnoticed. She could feel her heart rate go up slightly at the sight of the gruff looking griffin. The griffin apparently noticed her as she turned to look at her.

“Hey, wadda you lookin at, huh?” She grumbled.

Fluttershy shook her head, looking back at her reflection. “N-nothing, n-nothing at all.”

The griffin then turned back to the counter. “Fine. Keep it that way.”

Gus walked up to the griffin. “Well, lassie? What’ll it be?”

The griffin looked at Gus. “Coffee. Black. No sugar. Now.” She grumbled.

Gus nodded. “Sure thing.” He turned and set the coffee to brew.

“Here ya go lassie.” Gus said as he slid the fresh coffee in front of the mysterious griffin.

“Don’t call me that, got it?” She spat.

Gus shrugged. “Fine.”


Meanwhile, at the table of the diner, one of the griffins finally noticed Fluttershy. He was a rather thin fellow, his jacket didn’t quite fit and he constantly fidgeted.

He leaned next to the leader. “Hey, Rog, Lookie there.” He tapped the larger griffin. The leader, Roger, looked up from his cider.

“What is it Syd?” he grumbled turning to look at Syd.

“Um, well, there’s a pegasus over there.” Syd said, pointing a claw at the pegasus in the hoodie across the diner. Roger looked at the pegasus for a moment before turning back to Syd.

“And? What about it?”

Syd shrugged. “I donna know, I figured that since it’s a pony, we could maybe have a little fun? You know, rough her up or something.” He quietly took a sip of his cider, looking at another griffin. “Wadda do you think Dave?”

Another griffin, larger than Syd but smaller than Roger shrugged. “I don't know, Syd, what about that other griffin.” He pointed at the other griffin who was pouring what seemed to be alcohol into her coffee.

Syd and Roger turned to look at the other griffin. She looked rather grizzled and downing coffee and alcohol like no one’s business.

Syd’s eyes widened. “Um, wow. Didn’t think about her.”

Roger sighed, looking at Syd. “Of course you didn’t Syd.” He jabbed a claw into Syd’s forehead, making Syd yelp in pain. “You never think things through. Seriously dude, where’s your mind at?”

Syd simply shrugged, rubbing the sore spot on his forehead. “Sorry Rog, just figured we could have some fun. You know, been awhile since we had any real fun you know.”

Roger rolled his eyes returned to his cider. There was a long pause between the five griffins as they each drank their cider at their own pace.

The song ended and another record popped onto the turnstile another loud guitar chord blared from the jukebox.

“Jeez, Rick, couldn’t ya have picked some other playlist?” Roger grumbled and looked at another griffin who was sitting next to Dave.

Rick shrugged. “What can I say, I like the classics dude.”

“Yeah man. Respect them dude.” Another griffin sitting between Rick and Dave piped up.

Roger rolled his eyes. “Nobody asked you Nick, okay?”

Nick shrugged. “Well I still think you should respect them.”

Roger sighed, once again taking a shot from his cider as he scanned the diner, looking for anything to add some spice to what had been an incredibly dull evening.

His eyes eventually landed on the little Pegasus in the coat that Syd had mentioned.

Something about her seemed off. Roger couldn’t quite peg it, but she seemed to shaking or something, almost as if she was scared that the griffin sitting across from her would suddenly jump up and try to rip her head off or something.

Perfect for a good roughing up, some fun for the boys. Roger thought. Maybe Syd isn’t really such a space cadet.

The gears in his head started to turn as he looked at the girl griffin, who was now quite obviously drunk off whatever she was drinking. An idea started to form in his head.

Yeah….we’re going to have fun tonight. He thought, a barely noticeable smile tugging at the end of his beak.

“Um, Syd.” Roger said, tapping Syd on the shoulder.

“What?” Syd asked, looking up from his cider glass.

“That pegasus, there” Roger pointed to the hoodie wearing Pegasus. “That’s the pegasus you were talking about right?”

Syd turned to look and nodded. “Yeah huh. That’s the one. Why? I thought you said we’re weren’t going to rough her up.”

Dave, Rick and Nick nodded in agreement.

“Yeah Roger? What’s the give?” Nick asked, a quizzical look on his face.

Roger gave Nick a bemused look. “Boys, I never said that we wouldn’t rough her up. As Dave here pointed out,” he motioned to Dave. “There is that other griffin we have to take into account.” He waved his claw in the general direction of the girl griffin.

Dave nodded. “Yeah, but Roger, she looks pretty tough.” He pointed out, a rather concerned look on his face.

Roger nodded. “Yes, yes she does. But did you also notice my friends, that our griffin friend over there is also completely and totally wasted?”

The four other griffins looked as discreetly as possible at the girl griffin.

She sat at the bar, sloppily trying to pour her small bottle of alcohol into what seemed to be her tenth mug of coffee, all the while drunkenly singing some little ditty. Her flask however, slipped from her drunken grip and dropped straight into the coffee, causing the griffin to slur an incredibly vulgar curse word and try to fish it out.

The four griffins all turned back to Roger. “You’re absolutely sure you wanna do this?” Rick asked, raising an eyebrow.

Roger nodded. “Yes. If anything it’ll kill this awful boredom.”

The other four griffins looked at each other and shrugged. They too had been feeling terribly bored and wanted desperately to do anything to spice things up. If roughing up a pegasus in an over-sized coat was the only method, it seemed fine by them.

“So, you game?” Roger asked, already getting up from his chair. The others nodded and all stood up.

“Right. Let’s do this.” Roger said, turning and walking over to the pegasus.


Meanwhile, Fluttershy had finally begun to relax, her painkillers kicking in as the dull ache that emanated from her body faded.

The griffin next to her continued to sing whatever song it was she was singing, though, to be honest, Fluttershy couldn’t make it out, the griffin was so drunk.

“Hey.” Suddenly a male voice came from directly behind her. Fluttershy tensed up.

“Um….yes?” she whispered, feeling her heart rate begin to accelerate again. This couldn't end well.

“Well,” suddenly a rather large griffin appeared from behind her and leaned on the bar. “Me and my clutch saw ya over here and, well, we were wondering if you could, I don’t know, give us some spare bits you might have?” he was idly running his claw along the counter top.

Fluttershy began to sweat. She had just spent all her money on the hay fries, so she knew that there was no money left in her backpack.

“Um, well, I’m s-sorry t-to t-tell you, b-but I d-don’t think I h-have a-any m-money left…if that’s okay with you…” She whimpered as she noticed four more griffins step into her line of vision.

The first griffin nodded. “Oh….well…that really does suck…” he continued to run his claw along the counter top. “Really does. If more for you then for us that is.”

With those words he grabbed Fluttershy by the shoulder and flung her to the floor, laughing.

Fluttershy lifted her head from the floor to see one of the griffin, a thin fidgety fellow, rummaging through her backpack.

“Hey Rog,” he said, turning to look at the first griffin, a rather disappointed look on her face. “There’s nothing in here. Just a bunch of pills.”

The large one sighed and stuck his claws in his jacket pocket. “For shame.” He clicked his tongue. “And we were hoping for a few bits at least. Well, guess we just gotta persuade you now don’t we?” he said, looking down at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy’s pupils shrunk to pin points as she started to hyperventilate, her heart rate climbing even higher with each second.

The other griffins started to surround her, all with the same smug grin on their faces. Suddenly the girl griffin spoke up.

“Hey, guys, leave the dork alone huh? Pick on someone your own size.” she grumbled, her voice slurred by the amount of alcohol she must have consumed.

“Shut your trap drunkie.” The leader said, as he clicked his knuckles.

The girl griffin suddenly sat up, her face suddenly very serious. “What didja call me?” she said, standing up from her chair, nearly falling over however in her drunken state.

“You heard me.” The leader griffin replied.

The girl griffin cracked her neck. “Nobody calls me ‘drunkie’. Got that?”

The boy griffin turned to face her. “Look drunkie, I don’t give a damn what you think, kay? Me and my boys are going to have some fun with the pegasus here. And there ain’t nothing you can do to stop it. You get me?”

The girl griffin smiled. Fluttershy noticed that the smiled was anything but nice. “Yeah. I get ya.”

With that she let out a shriek and leaped towards the boy griffin, pinning him to the floor.

Fluttershy instantly took this as a chance to escape. She grabbed her backpack and made a flying leap behind the counter and curled into a ball, Relax, she thought as she started taking deep breaths as her heart rate went sky high. Just try and relax....

She looked to her right to see Gus the Griffin had already hit the floor and was now muttering something about repairs and this being the third time that week.

She could also hear the sounds of the fight coming from beyond the counter, with various vicious expletives coming from all involved.

Fluttershy continued to breathe in and out rapidly.

Oh no, she thought, as her hooves started to turn a shade of green around the edges. She heard an odd 'snikt' sound and the voice of the girl griffin cursing somepony out followed by a yell and cutting sounds.

Fluttershy suddenly remembered something.

"My pills!" she whispered as she reached into her backpack and pulled out a small bottle with pills in it. She fumbled with the safety lid, trying her best to keep calm in spite of the circumstances.

Finally the lid popped off and several pills spilled out onto the floor in front of her. She desperately grabbed a few and popped them into her mouth. Instantly she felt her heart rate go down and watched as her hooves returned to their normal light yellow color. She leaned back and let out a sigh of relief.

She then noticed that the sounds of fighting had stopped, the strange silence broken only by the sound of ragged breathing.

She peeked over the counter and saw that the diner was completely destroyed. Standing in the center of the diner was the girl griffin. From each claw came what looked like three long knives. The claws suddenly retracted into the griffins knuckles.

The griffin let out a long sigh, obviously exhausted. Around her where the battered and bloodied bodies of the punks from before, only now their bodies were littered with various cuts and gashes. The girl griffin then staggered over to the counter and poured herself another cup of coffee and cider. Fluttershy simply stared at the griffin.

"Th-thank you." Fluttershy said her voice barely above a whisper. The griffin gave her a funny look and shrugged. "Yeah, sure. Whatever." she took a gulp of her coffee and turned and walked out of the diner.

“Wait.” Fluttershy said, raising a hooves. The griffin stopped in the doorway.


Fluttershy swallowed, doing her best to build up some confidence. “Well, I’m wondering why you stood up for me like that.” She hid behind her mane again.

The griffin gave her quizzical look. “Would you prefer I did nothing?”

Fluttershy shook her head rapidly. “No, no, no. But I was just wondering why, that’s all. You don’t seem to care about anything else.”

The griffin sighed. “Well, I felt bad for ya, that’s all. Didn’t want them to just go around bullying ya for no good reason.”

“Well, t-thank you.” Fluttershy peeped.

The griffin shrugged. “Yeah sure whatever.” and with that she stepped out of the diner and flew away into the night sky, leaving Fluttershy alone in the destroyed diner.

Act II - 06 - Your Guilty Past

View Online

Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Six:
"Your Guilty Past"


YOU!” the sudden shrill voice of his father caused the young colt to freeze.

“Um, yes father?” the small, thin snow white pegasus said, his voice meek and quiet.

“Laddie, you failed.” The burley griffin spat, his body towering over the young colt. “Those boys over there,” he pointed a talon in the direction of a small clutch of griffins who were rough housing. “You let them beat you.” He emphasized his words with a sharp poke.

The young colt nodded and hung his head in shame. It was true. He had joined in the game in hopes that they would accept him as one of their own. But, no such luck. They merely mocked him and beat him up, giving him several nasty bruises and a black eye.

“B-but daddy, I tried to fight back…but they’re so much bigger than me…and stronger….” He started to cry a little.

“I’ll have none of that laddie!” the griffin suddenly barked. The colt shied away at the sudden verbal assault.

“You lost because you were weak! I’ll have no weak children in my family understand?” the griffin stomped a talon on the ground. “Quite the opposite, I only raise STRONG sons. Sons that are the BEST at EVERYTHING. Do you want to be a failure?” he raised an eyebrow.

The young colt nodded. “No father…I don’t want to be a failure…”

The griffin scoffed. “No need to worry about that laddie, you already are one.”

The colt hung his head and simply nodded. His father was right. He was a total failure. He wasn’t even a griffin, but a pony. A mere pony. He had no claws, no talons, no sharp teeth and no sharp beak. Just a measly pair of wings that were too small for his body. He was small and tiny, the runt of the family, and the laughing stock of the school. Even his name was a failure: Snowflake. It sounded like a girl’s name.

“That’s why,” his father suddenly spoke, a strangely warm smile crossing his beak, considering his typically stern and strict personality. “I’m going to whip you into shape. Make you the best. Because I will not withstand anything less than the best. Understand that laddie?” The griffin then leaned down and looked the colt in the eyes.

“Laddie, you must learn one thing, and one thing only about life.”

Snowflake looked into his father’s golden eyes. “What father?”

“It’s that nobody likes a failure. Or a whiner. So no more crying or weeping. Opposite. You’re going to pull yourself up by your…” he paused, eyeing Snowflake’s hooves with apprehension, as if he forgot something. “…hooves and make yourself better than them. Nobody here is going to respect you if you always play the victim. You must be the better griffin. Make something of yourself so that you will never, ever have to face this kind of treatment again, understand laddie?”

The colt nodded. “Yes father…”

The griffin patted him on the head and stood back up. “Good then laddie. And that way, you can stand up for yourself, and not be just another punching bag.” He turned and started to walk away, leaving the colt alone, crying softly.

“I’ll be the best…the best at everything daddy…I promise.”


Snowflake stood in his cabin’s bathroom aboard the zeppelin, which was now on its way back to Equestria.

Intensely staring into the mirror, he repeated his mantra over and over again.

“You are the best, Snowflake. You are the best at everything.”

It was part of his morning routine since he was twelve years old and he wasn’t about to stop it now. He had clawed his way up from being a laughing stock to making something of himself. He was the single most decorated member of the South Griffinhiem army, and a pony to boot, and was on his way to becoming the most decorated member Equestria’s military.

Whatever it takes…whatever it takes to be the best. He thought.

He thought back to the Griefstadt crime scene. That civilian mare had made a point. Something was off about it. How could a pony so meek and fail looking as this ‘Fluttershy’, be possibly capable of such extreme acts of violence?

No, it had to be somepony else, he thought as he turned around and sat on his bed, laying back to look at the ceiling.

Or something else…

...something with power.


Fluttershy stood in the diner, staring towards the door, still trying to piece together what had happened.

Someone she’d never met before and hadn’t even said a word to in greeting, had, for some reason, found it a good idea to fight for her.

She looked down at the floor of the diner. The five griffins still lay there, looking almost as if they had been through a slicing machine of some kind. That’s when it hit her.

She had claws. Fluttershy had been around Griffins long enough for her to know that, by no means, was having three giant knives shooting out of the mysterious griffin’s knuckles was in any way normal. She looked down at the gang sprawled along the floor. The sheer amount of blood on the floor confirmed her suspicions. They were probably all dead.

Fluttershy suddenly felt as if she was going to throw up at the grisly sight. Unable to bear the sight of another set of bloodied bodies, she bolted out the door, grabbing her backpack and running as fast as she could, tears in her eyes.

Gus himself merely watched the strange Pegasus run out of the diner, unable to quite fathom what caused the pony to suddenly run out sobbing. He then looked down at the floor and turned a shade of green at the rather gruesome sight before him.

“Oh my goodness…that’s going to take quite a bit of cleanin’.”


Fluttershy just kept running and running for what seemed like hours, finally coming to a stop near an old beat up street lamp. She looked around. The diner was now a mere tiny spot of light in the distance, and ahead, the road stretched out endlessly into the darkness.

She was totally alone again. Her body once more ached and groaned in pain. What was she to do? It seemed that death followed her everywhere she went, regardless of her own actions.

“Oh why oh why oh why…” she sobbed, falling against the light pole, collapsing to the ground. She continued to cry, occasionally looking up at the sky as if she was looking to some higher power. After what seemed like hours, she finally succumbed to the feeling of exhaustion that washed over her, her emotions now completely spent. She closed her eyes, still wet and puffy from her crying, and fell asleep.


Fluttershy opened her eyes and looked around. She was in a beautiful, seemingly endless field of red poppies. She looked up. The sky was a beautiful bright blue, with not a single cloud in the sky.

“Fluttershy…” a voice called out. She looked around for the source of the voice. Strangely, there seemed to be nobody else in the field but her.

“Um…hello? Is there anypony out there?” she called out, hoping that it was maybe just the wind playing tricks on her ears.

“Fluttershy…over here.” The voice called out once more. She turned to look in the direction the voice seemed to be coming from. Her eyes were greeted by a strangely familiar building that hadn’t been there before. It was the house that her family had lived in back in Ponyville.

“Fluttershy…please come here.” The voice called out again, seeming somewhat stressed. Fluttershy got up and started to walk towards the house concerned that maybe the source of the voice needed help of some kind.

As the house came closer and closer, she noticed something seemed off about it. It’s light powder blue paint scheme seemed to have faded, and attained an almost reddish tone on top of it.

“Um, hello? Is there anypony in there?” she called out, standing by the front gate, which had seemingly sprouted out of the ground as she got closer.

“Fluttershy please…I need your help…please…” the voice called out, now seemingly in some kind of pain. Fluttershy looked around, taking notice that the sky had suddenly become cloudy and dark, with large storm clouds looming overhead.

“Okay, I’m coming!” Fluttershy called out, walking up to the door and fiddling with the doorknob. It was, strangely, unlocked, and the door clicked open with a strange moaning groan coming from its hinges.

A feeling of unease crept into Fluttershy’s mind. Something seemed off. The house felt strangely vacant. It looked just like it did back when they had moved out.

Suddenly Fluttershy heard the voice again.

“Fluttershy please….I need you…” it cried, once more sounding like it was in pain. Fluttershy turned towards the sound of the voice, which was coming from up the staircase.

Funny… Fluttershy thought. We didn’t have a staircase in the old house.

The voice called out again, except this time it was a strange inarticulate moan. Fluttershy started up the staircase, her concern for the source of the voice, whomever it was, growing by the second.

She reached the top of the staircase to find herself in their Canterlot apartment. The various bad memories involving the place made themselves evident by a sudden rolling thunder from outside.

“Hello! Is any pony there?!” Fluttershy called out, concern in her voice. “I’m here! Where are you!”

The strange voice groaned again. It was coming from the kitchen.

Fluttershy ran towards the sound, entering the kitchen to find a horrifyingly familiar sight.

It was the day the last vestiges of her childhood died.

Her father lay on the floor, battered and bleeding, while her mother cowered in the corner, sobbing. In the center of the room stood a young Pegasus filly that looked exactly like Fluttershy did at that age. Her coat was a strange shade of bright green and her mane was a wild red mess. She suddenly turned towards Fluttershy with a murderous look in her eyes. She let out a demonic shriek and leapt towards Fluttershy.

Fluttershy’s mind told her to turn and run, but her body remained locked down in fear. The demonic filly impacted Fluttershy and sent them both tumbling. Fluttershy kicked desperately to get the filly off of her.

The monstrous creature let out another shriek as they tumbled out of the kitchen and into the living room.

Fluttershy finally managed to kick the monster nice and hard, sending it flying into a nearby wall, where it exploded in a puff of smoke. Shaking herself off, Fluttershy immediately ran over to her parents.

“Mother! Mother!” Fluttershy grabbed her mother. “Mother are you okay?”

“Oh Celestia why, why, why, why, why…” was all her mother was able to choke out between sobs. “Why did this happen…”

“Why did what happen?” Fluttershy asked as she checked her mother for injuries. As it turned out, her mother was perfectly fine, with the exception of a black eye.

Her mother looked into Fluttershy’s eyes.

“Why did you have to kill him?” Tree Flower sobbed.

Fluttershy’s widened and she turned to the bloody body of her father. “Daddy! Daddy are you okay!” she sobbed, tears forming in her eyes.

He turned his head limply towards her. The entire left side of his face was caked in dried blood. “I’m…I’m so sorry…” he whispered before he fell unconscious.

Suddenly, everything seemed to fade into a reddish sepia tone and everything went quiet. Fluttershy looked around.

She was once more in the field, except now, instead of just red poppies, the entire field was blood red. She looked up at the sky. The clouds were blood red as well.

“What’s going on?” Fluttershy thought aloud now frightened as to what might happen next.

Suddenly, as if to answer her question, small droplets of red liquid began to fall from the sky.

Is this…blood?! She thought as she tentatively tasted one drop that had landed on her hoof. Her tongue found the instantly recognizable metallic taste of blood in her mouth.

Now utterly terrified, she turned to run, desperately searching for some form of shelter. Suddenly the ground from beneath her feet began to shake violently.

A monstrous demonic looking jet black alicorn burst forth from the ground and looked down at Fluttershy, it's snake like eyes burning with demonic hatred.

“YOU MUST PAY!” it roared before it lunged down at her, transforming mid leap into a demonic version of herself, complete with blood red hair and green coat.

Fluttershy let out a blood curdling scream and everything went black.


“NO!” Fluttershy awoke in a cold sweat. She looked around. The first thing that caught her attention was the fact that she was no longer in the middle of the desert, but rather in a rather modest motel room.

What am I doing here? She thought as she spotted her backpack and hoodie on the floor across from her bed.

She looked over next to her to the digital alarm clock on the nightstand. It read 12:30 PM on April 22nd.

How long was I out? She wondered as she quietly got out of bed, put on her hoodie out of habit and opened her room’s door, peeking out into the empty hallway.

“Um…hello? Anypony there?” she quietly called out.

Maybe I’m still dreaming...

She started to quietly walk down the hallway, towards what she assumed was the front desk.

Music came from the direction she was heading, along with barely audible whistling.

She entered what looked like the lobby, a rather modest affair, consisting of a small desk and a couple of chairs and a key rack.

At the desk there was a small griffin that Fluttershy discovered was the source of the whistling, and a small stereo where the music came from. The griffin was rather enraptured in drawing. Along the walls of the lobby were pinned up various doodles of various things ranging from rather garish political cartoons to just random shapes.

“Um, excuse me…” Fluttershy asked, walking up the griffin.

The griffin looked up from his doodles. “Oh, hello there, how you feeling?”

Fluttershy hid behind her mane again. “Um, fine…just fine...thank you for letting me stay.”

The griffin shrugged. “The least I could do. Say, I didn’t get to catch your name?”

Fluttershy paused. She hadn’t even expected to be here right now, so she was broke for a name. She looked around the room, searching for something to base a name off of.

Her eyes fell on a rather disturbing drawing of a dove exploding into a monstrous mechanical eagle.

“Um….” She continued to search the walls, finally catching sight of something that might work.

“I’m Bright Sky.” She smiled, hoping that the griffin hadn't noticed her stalling.

"Really? Nice name. My name is Gerald." He reached a talon out in greeting.

Fluttershy shook his talon, casting a glance down at the drawing he was currently working on.

It was a strange, disturbing image of a face seemingly screaming for help or in pain, but the face was emerging from what looking like a white brick wall. It chilled her to the bone. She looked back up at the wall, realizing that it was covered with drawings of a similar nature, all very dark and disturbing.

One depicted what looking like a sea of blood morphing into a sea of paws all surrounding a giant white monolith. Another was what looked like a giant mechanical crab-like machine.

None of this seemed to match the personality of the seemingly very kind hearted griffin.

"Um...I see that you draw..."

The griffin turned and glanced at the wall behind him. "What? You mean those? Oh those are just doodles, nothing more."

There was another pause between the two, neither quite sure what to say next. The music continued to play elegantly from the radio.

"Um..." Gerald started to say, looking around the room. "Would you like to sit down or something? I know there isn't much." he motioned to one of the chairs.

Fluttershy looked at the chair. "Um, no thank you, but I'd love to know if you might have any newspapers available?"

The griffin nodded. "Yeah, sure, they're right over there, the paperboy just left." he pointed towards a small pile of fresh newspapers.

"Thank you very much." Fluttershy said, quietly walking over and picking up a copy and tucking it under her wing.

"Um, do I have to pay?" she asked.

The griffin shook his head. "Nope. Its on the house and so is your room, since you seemed pretty destitute."

Fluttershy smiled. She didn't have to pay? It seemed almost too good to be true. To finally have a nice warm place to sleep and not have to worry about being kicked out.

"Thank you so very much." she beamed, turning to go back to her room. For as nice as the lobby was, the strange drawings made her feel uneasy.

"You're welcome, least I could do for you." The griffin replied, turning back to his drawings.

Fluttershy nodded and left the lobby, as the music ended and the DJ spoke.

"That was Marezart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major K467, second movement. You're listening to 82.5 KLAS FM, your source for the finest classical music Equestria has to offer. And now for the news..."

Fluttershy continued down the hallway, just happy to be somewhere warm and safe for the day, instead of some empty wasteland. She entered her room, and flopped down on the bed, relishing in the nice clean sheets and comforters. She quickly fell asleep, a contented smile on her face.


Meanwhile, Gerald continued his doodling, not really paying much attention to the news reports ramblings.

Nice mare, he thought. Seemed a tad skittish though, wonder why…

As if the radio was reading his mind, the news reporter moved on from local affairs onto the next subject, which instantly caught Gerald’s attention.

"Equestrian authorities have uncovered some new evidence in the hunt for Fluttershy Braveheart, well known escaped terrorist..."

Gerald’s ears instinctively perked up. He had been keeping tabs on this story, more out of curiosity than anything else.

"...authorities say that she was most likely involved in the violent deaths of several gang members in the North Griffinheim town of Griefstadt. Authorities say to be on the lookout for a yellow pegasus a light pink mane, blue eyes and a triple butterfly cutie mark. If you have any information regarding her whereabouts, please contact the local authorities."

“Wait what?” Gerald said, turning towards the radio. His mind suddenly flashed the image of the skittish mare from just a few moments ago. She perfectly matched the description that the news reporter had given. Gerald’s eyes widened and he dropped his pen, ignoring his drawings.

Grabbing the phone, he fumbled with it for a few seconds before dialing the number for the local police.

“Um, hello, yes I’d like to report a sighting of Fluttershy. Yes, I believe she’s at my motel…”

The voice on the other end seemed mildly surprised. “Seriously? Right there?”

“As serious as all get out officer.” Gerald replied.

“Okay then, we’ll come and get her, remember, whatever you do, don’t try and do anything. She’s incredibly dangerous.”

Gerald nodded. “Of course. Goodbye.” With that, he hung up the phone and leaned back.

“Well….let’s hope they get here soon…”


Hoofcuff let out a sigh as she and Starlight busied themselves with a game of chess.

“Checkmate boss. That’s the fifth game I’ve won today.” Starlight said, emphasizing his words by magically nudging his rook into her king.

“Damn it.” Hoofcuff facepalmed. “This is exactly why I prefer poker to chess.”

Starlight simply shrugged, a cocky grin on his face. “Told ya, I’m the chess master. Nopony can beat me.”

Hoofcuff gave him an unimpressed look and laughed. “Well, Hoofcuff, one day you’re going to meet somepony who’s going to wipe the floor with you.”

She then got up from the table they were sitting in and, walking over to the coffee machine, poured herself a cup of coffee.

It had been three days since they left Griefstadt, and it had been the single most incredibly boring three day period in Hoofcuff’s entire career.

They hadn’t been able to find anything belonging to Fluttershy asides from the backpack, several dozen bottles of painkillers and a ripped up old hoodie in a nearby river.

So, with no real reason to continue, the zeppelin had set a course back into Equestria, where Hoofcuff would probably end up being forced to write a report on the hunt and what a waste of her time and effort it was.

And that’s what drove Hoofcuff up the wall. She had been given what seemed an incredibly interesting case, but ended up being simply a dead end.

So the group had spent most of their time in their rooms, going over aspects of the case, hoping that they would have a reason to continue.

Hoofcuff hated the idea of being dragged to some third world country, looking over a crime scene, then being shunted back into a large flying cigar back to Equestria.

But, it seemed the General was determined to continue. But a quick call from Canterlot had seemingly forced him to comply and drag them all back. Not that she hadn’t heard his protests, in some of the most colorful language she had heard in a long, long time.

But, either way, here she was, moping around, and losing chess game after chess game to Starlight.

Just as she was about to return to the table to lose another game, however, a thin unicorn in a military uniform burst in.

“The General wants to see the both of you right this moment!” he said.

Hoofcuff raised an eyebrow. “Why? Is it about the case?”

“Yeah! Somepony just phoned in saying they saw her.” The pony replied, a smile on his face. “Do you know where Snowflake is? The General asked for him as well.”

“In his cabin, he’s been locked in there since we got the news we had to go back.” Starlight replied.

“Okay then! Thanks!” And with that, the pony darted off.


Fluttershy was awakened by a low droning noise.

What in Equestria is that? She groggily wondered as she dragged herself out of bed, rubbing her eyes. She glanced over at the clock. It was about noon. The date on the clock read the 25th.

I’ve been asleep that long? She wondered, surprised by the fact that she’d been asleep for almost two days straight.

That’s when she heard it. A voice shouting orders over a megaphone. She peeked out the window of her room. Her eyes were greeted by the sight of dozens of ponies milling about outside.

Oh no! He must have reported me!

Panicking, she made her way straight for the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

The bathroom was an awfully tiny affair, consisting of a small cabinet, a sink, a toilet and a small shower.

She stepped into the shower, and turned on the water, washing away at least three days worth of grime and desert dirt.

Come on Fluttershy...pull yourself together...maybe they’re looking for another fugitive…oh who am I kidding? They found me!

Fluttershy stepped out of the shower and opened the small cabinet. Inside was some old shaving cream, a straight razor and some deodorant.

She closed the cabinet and looked into the mirror build into the door.

What do I do? She thought, running her hoooves through her mane. Suddenly it dawned on her.

I can cut my hair!

She flung the door open and grabbed the razor, making sure it was nice and wet. Grabbing it tightly, she started to cut off the various strands of her wet mane.

However, due to her lack of experience in the area of hair cutting, her mane only ended up looking like it had gone through a shredder. And it was still pink as ever.

I need some kind of hair dye or something… she thought, leaving the bathroom and searching for some kind of dye or paint she could use to change her hair color. Finding nothing she started to pace the floor, trying to calm herself down and think of a way she could avoid being noticed.

She looked back into the bathroom. There was a small window facing towards the street. Peeking out, Fluttershy looked around.

There was a small corner store just across the street from the motel, and thankfully, there was nopony in military uniforms running around outside of it. As a matter of fact, from what she could tell from her window, most of the ponies were rather preoccupied with the front of the motel.

She paused, thinking what to do next. The corner store probably has some kind of hair dye or something… she thought.

She quietly grabbed her backpack, opened the window and sunk across the street, pulling her hoodie over her face so that she couldn’t be recognized.

I’ve gotta get out of here…maybe if I move quickly they won’t notice me… she thought as she trotted across the street.

After what seemed like an eternity, she entered the corner store, making a beeline for the hair product section, not saying a word to the pony behind the counter.

She grabbed the first bottle of hair dye she saw and slipped into the bathroom.

The radio played a little louder, except instead of music, it was tuned into a news station.

“And in other news, well known technological genius and robotics guru Rarity Belle has shocked everyone with her admission that she is the mysterious figure known as Iron Mare, authorities have long expected her involvement…” and the rest of the report was drowned out by the sound of the faucet as Fluttershy wet her hair again and started to run the dye through it.

After a few minutes, her mane had gone from light pink to dark brown, and she moved on to her tail, leaving puddles of hair dye on the floor of the bathroom.

Once finished, she stepped out of the bathroom, making sure not to attract the attention of the pony behind the counter.

She looked out through the store window and froze.

Outside the back of the motel she had been in mere moments earlier, there was now a veritable army of ponies, all in the dark green military colors of Equestria.

Oh no...how did they even get here so fast?! She thought. As if to answer her question, she caught sight of a large zeppelin hovering in the sky above.

She had to get out of town, before they noticed her. She looked around, hoping that there was some form of escape. Her salvation came in the form of the sight of a small train station, where passengers were waiting for the next train.

Oh thank Celestia! Just get on the train, and you’ll be scot-free.

She quietly stepped out of the store and started down the street and towards the small train station.

It was only as she neared it did she notice that the various military ponies were directly in her path. She would have to cross directly through them in order to get to the train station.

Taking a deep breath, she plunged through the crowd, hoping they might not recognize her. She kept her head downward; making sure that nopony could get a good look at her face.

She accidentally bumped into a rather short slate grey mare with a dark red mane, wearing a windbreaker with a shield and eagle logo.

“Oh I’m so sorry…” she whispered out of habit, hoping that the mare hadn’t gotten a good look at her. The mare simply gave her a quick glance before turning back towards the motel.

Fluttershy decided now was a chance to pick up the pace, and she shifted into a canter. She finally reached the train station and tried to blend into the crowd.

She ended up standing next to a small group of pegasi Fluttershy cast a quick glance and nearly fainted at the sight of one of the pegasi standing next to her.

It was Firefly. She looked much older now, but her mane was still cut in the same tomboyish mane cut. Fluttershy started to panic again.

Oh no, why did this have to happen, of all the mares in the world I could have chosen to stand next too it had to be her! I don’t want her to get hurt!

“Hey don’t I know you?” Firefly’s familiar voice suddenly asked. Fluttershy cast nervous glance in her direction.

“E-excuse me? I don’t k-know who you’re t-talking a-about…” She stuttered in response, pulling her hoodie over her face, hoping that Firefly hadn’t gotten a good look.

“Seriously? I feel like I know you. I’m Firefly, from Ponyville? Maybe we bumped into each other there once?” Firefly said, raising an eyebrow.

Fluttershy shook her head. “No I have no idea who you are. I’m from Tree Branch. Never been to Ponyville in my life.”

Firefly looked somewhat confused, before her expression changed to that of embarrassment. “Oh really? Wow, my mistake.” She began to run her hoof through her mane. “Geez that was awkward,” she laughed. “I mean you look almost exactly like a friend I used to have.”

Fluttershy gave an uneasy smile. “You’re right…that is awkward. Sorry for confusing you.”

Firefly smiled and shrugged. “Eh, no biggie. Happens to the best of us.” She then turned away, scanning the train station, apparently looking for someone.

“Oh well, better find Cloud Burst...Celestia knows that he’s probably still harassing the ticket guy for a lower price. Heaven knows my little Scoots is dying to see us again.”

“Oh really? Who’s Scoots?” Fluttershy asked, her own curiosity for her long lost friends’ present life getting the better of her.

“Oh she’s our daughter. Light of our lives.” Firefly smiled. “Cloud Burst was asked to check out the local weather team here, and well, I had to come, so we left her with my sister. We’re finally going home now…” she paused, her smile fading slightly. “If Cloud Burst can stop haggling the ticket ponies at every train station we go to.” She looked back at Fluttershy. “Say, I didn’t catch your name, might as well right? No use being rude.”

“Um…I’m Bright Sky…” Fluttershy quietly answered; using the name she had used the motel owner.

“Well, Bright Sky, it was nice meeting you.” Firefly extended a hoof in greeting. Fluttershy weakly shook it.

“Yeah…nice meeting you.”

Firefly nodded and turned towards the ticket booth, where a dark orange pegasus with a blue mane was busy haggling with the ticket booth operator.

Firefly’s a mom now? A sad smile crossed Fluttershy’s face. She relaxed slightly, the thought of her old friend with a husband and a filly of her own touching her heart, and also highlighting Fluttershy’s own plight. She would never be able to have a family of her own. Not as long she remained on the run.

Suddenly however, a loud voice snapped Fluttershy out of her wistful thoughts.


Fluttershy cast a fearful glance over her shoulder. The mare she had bumped into earlier was leading a squad of troops and they were heading directly towards her.

Fluttershy bolted away, running as fast as her legs could carry her.


Hoofcuff stood in front of the motel. She still wasn’t quite sure as to why they need an entire military unit for just one fugitive, but at least they had a lead.

As it turned out, Fluttershy had disappeared, having slipped away mere moments before they arrived.

Now quite frustrated, Hoofcuff wandered through the crowd, wondering where on earth the pony had disappeared to.

If I were Fluttershy, where would I go…

Suddenly she was roughly bumped by a pony wearing a purple hoodie.

“Oh I’m so sorry…” the mare whispered, her voice shaky.

Hoofcuff simply shot the mare a quick glance.

She had a long flowing dark brown tale, and a mane that had been cut sloppily. On her flank was a trio of butterflies.

Something caught Hoofcuff’s eye. At the base of her tail was a clump of pink hairs. Instantly the gears in Hoofcuff’s mind began to turn.

Why is the base of that mare’s tail… before her thought had even had a chance to finish, she noticed the trio of butterflies on the yellow pony’s flank.

“It’s her!” she almost shouted, trying to turn and follow the pony. She lost her in the crowd of soldiers and onlookers, however, and Hoofcuff once more began to curse the so-called ‘aid’ they had been given.

If it was just me and Starlight I would have her already!

She hopped up and down in the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of the purple hoodie that Fluttershy was wearing.

Her prayers were answered as she caught sight of her target, standing next to a pink pegasus with a blue mane. As the pink pegasus turned towards the ticket booth, Hoofcuff seized her chance.

“THERE SHE IS!” she practically screamed, pointing towards Fluttershy, who turned at the sound and instantly bolted.

Within seconds, the crowd all turned as one in the direction Hoofcuff was pointing and suddenly Snowflake leapt into the air into the air and soared in the direction Hoofcuff was pointing. Hoofcuff motioned towards Starlight and the two of them galloped as fast as possible after the surprisingly fast pegasus, followed by a gaggle of military troops.

Their target disappeared behind a corner. As the group came around the corner, they were greeted by a totally empty street.

Hoofcuff looked skyward, only to see Snowflake, circling like a vulture. Suddenly he pointed towards the ground.

“She went into the sewers!”

Hoofcuff looked back at the street to see an open manhole cover.

“Starlight, let’s go. We’ve gotta gopher.” She ordered as she clambered down the hole. Starlight groaned.

“Dang it boss, these are brand new horseshoes….”

Hoofcuff simply gave him a disgruntled look. “Starlight. Their horseshoes. Their SUPPOSED to get dirty.” With that, she jumped into the sewer, followed by the still grumbling Starlight.

The two unicorns eyed the sewer ahead of them as a couple more ponies joined them in the pipe.

“Okay, I want you two,” she pointed at two military unicorns. “To go down there.” She pointed down the pipe behind them. “And me and Starlight will take this direction. Got it?”

The two unicorns nodded and started down the pipe in the direction Hoofcuff indicated. Meanwhile, Starlight and Hoofcuff started down the pipe in front of them.


Fluttershy stumbled through the sewer, completely and utterly lost. The stench from the filthy water flowing and tumbling around her feet burned in her nose, and she was doing her best not to vomit. Her mane was now soaked from all the water pouring around her and hung in front of her eyes, blocking much of her field of vision, with the cheap mane dye draining from it and dribbling around her. It smelled incredibly similar to hoofpolish, it’s strong order overwhelming her and making her feel somewhat woozy. It didn’t help that her hoodie was soaked as well, her having stumbled several times, and now it clung to her body like a wet blanket, feeling as if it weighed a ton.

Gotta keep moving... she thought, pausing to try and find an escape route. She had reached a fork in the pipe system, and from behind her came the distant clamor of the small army that followed behind her. Without a moment’s thought, she darted to the left. She could feel her heart rate steadily climbing higher and higher as she ran. Relax Fluttershy...relax...don’t let her out...just don’t yet her out....just don’t let her out... she thought, hoping the sudden burst of adrenaline wouldn’t cause her to lose control. The burning sensation of lactic acid stung in her legs and abdomen and her breaths were in short pants now.

Her eyes darted desperately until she caught sight of an opening in the pipe to the left. Veering towards it, she suddenly felt the pipe beneath her plunge downward, all of a sudden loosing her footing and sliding downward, the flow of water only managing to make her mane completely cover her eyes and water to spill into her nose and throat. She swung her arms about wildly, hoping desperately that she might grab onto something to slow her descent. She felt a sharp tug and all of a sudden came to a stop, her hoodie suddenly tugging at her body and tightening around her neck like a noose, the zipper pinching her skin. However, this meant that at least her head was above the flow of water now, and she brushed her mane out of her eyes, searching desperately for what was tugging at her hoodie and thereby strangling her.

It turned out that the hood had somehow managed to get caught on a piece of metal jutting from the pipe wall. From what Fluttershy could see in the incredibly dim lighting, it appeared to be some kind of handle, probably meant to help sewer workers to climb out of the pipe. Reaching around, she clawed at it as best she could, desperate to free herself from the death trap. Unable to reach the rung, she started to panic.

Oh no...I'm going to drown! She thought as the water continued to pour around her in a torrent. In her panicked state, her heart rate was now climbing even higher and she could see green beginning to tint her field of vision. No please...not here please not here! She thought, struggling to keep herself in control of her own body, as she could feel New Fluttershy struggling wildly to break free. She could feel the zipper of her hoodie scraping against her skin, sending little jolts of pain through her body.

Wait! The zipper! She realized, and instantly her now slightly green hooves grabbed at the zipper, tugging at it with all of her might. The normally mundane, but now positively wondrous sound of the zipper opening greeted her ears and she felt the constricting hoodie open up around her, and she let herself start to slip free. The sleeves however, still wrapped around her forelegs like the tentacles of an octopus, and she tore at them desperately. In a sudden burst of strength that she could only believe was a result of New Fluttershy, she ripped her forelegs free, finally released from the hoodie. The water carried her body down the pipe a ways, until she found her footing again and grounded to a halt, sliding up against the wall. Taking a deep breath, she started to try and coach herself down from her panicked state.

Calm down..deep breaths Fluttershy, deep breaths... She repeated to herself, as her heart rate steadily dropped lower and lower, and the green started to drift out of her field of vision. However, her attempts at calming herself were interrupted by a sudden cacophony of noise and Fluttershy froze, her heart rate spiking in panic. She scrambled down the pipe a little more, glancing behind her to be greeted by a surprising sight.

Splashing around in the water was the same short, slate grey unicorn mare that had been leading the chase. Fluttershy's body tensed up in fear, and she huddled in the shadows, hoping the mare couldn't see her. The mare, however, seemed totally distracted searching for something that had she had apparently lost when she fell down into this pipe. Fluttershy felt something metallic bump up against her hoof. Her eyes drifted downwards and she was greeted by the sight of a small pistol laying at her hoof. She found herself reaching for it tentatively, and she picked it up. Her heart rate was still spiking given the tense situation, and her hooves trembled.

Meanwhile, the unicorn was splashing around in the water, "Where is it?! Where is it?!" The unicorn hissed, obviously searching for the weapon Fluttershy now held in her hoof. Fluttershy found herself walking slowly towards the unicorn, gun held in her hoof, secretly hoping that maybe she could buy herself some time...somehow.

The other unicorn, however, suddenly froze in place, and Fluttershy pointed the gun towards her in a panic. The other mare slowly stood upright, Fluttershy tracking her with the weapon.

"Okay, you got me fair and square." The mare said as she turned around slowly, forelegs raised. Her face however, changed from a wary one to a completely shocked one when she saw Fluttershy.

Fluttershy did her best to hold the weapon steady, her own heartbeat pounding in her ears. “P-please…” she begged. “L-leave m-me a-alone, I-I d-don’t w-want t-to h-hurt y-you.”

The unicorn simply blinked, seemingly unable to process what Fluttershy was saying.

“P-please, I-I’m n-not a m-monster…” Fluttershy whimpered, her hoof now trembling uncontrollably.

The other mare gave Fluttershy a confused look before speaking. “I don’t care!” She said, still holding her hooves up.

Fluttershy herself was now drawn a blank. Unsure of how to respond to the unicorn's surprisingly blunt response, she started to back away. “T-then leave me a-alone, p-please.” And with that she finally let the gun drop from her hooves into the water and turned to run away into the sewers.


Hoofcuff stalked through the sewer, her gun levitated in her magic, ready for any treat. She and Starlight had made their way down the pipe for a while before hitting a fork. Deciding it would be best to split up, the two had gone down their separate pipes.

She listened carefully for any noises that sounded out of place, like footsteps or panting. All she could hear was the sound of water flowing and dripping, the occasional rat squeak as they ran by her feet and the dull roar of where the sewer emptied out.

Suddenly a loud banging noise came from a pipe opening directly to her right. She spun around and cast an illumination spell.

A beam of light shot from her horn and into the pipe as she scanned it for the source of the sound. Along the wall of the pipe ran a line of cables, probably telephone ones. The pipe sloped downward, allowing the water to drain off into more sewers. Suddenly something caught her eye. It was a very familiar dark purple hoodie that had apparently gotten caught on some metal.

Hoofcuff grinned as she started to make her way into the pipe. She stretched a hoof out to grab onto the telephone cable so that she wouldn’t slip and fall. She grabbed on and started to steadily make her way down.

Suddenly her hooves slipped on something slimy and sent her tumbling down the pipe and into the water below. After a brief moment of sputtering and choking on sewer water, Hoofcuff emerged and lit her horn and looked around. She instantly noticed that her gun was missing. She dived back down into the water searching wildly for her weapon.

“Where is it? Where is it?!” she whispered to herself. Suddenly she froze. The distinct feeling of having a gun pointed at her back caught her attention. She stopped searching and slowly stood back up.

“Okay, you got me fair and square.” She said as she turned and was greeted by the absolute last pony in the world she expected to see.

Fluttershy stood in front of her, completely soaked, gun in hoof with her mane hanging around her head like a dead animal, dripping off what looked like gallons of brown hair dye.

“P-please…” she begged. “L-leave m-me a-alone, I-I d-don’t w-want t-to h-hurt y-you.”

Hoofcuff simply blinked.

“P-please, I-I’m n-not a m-monster…” Fluttershy whimpered.

“I don’t care!” Hoofcuff said, holding her forelegs up.

Fluttershy started to back away. “T-then leave me a-alone, p-please.” And with that she unexpectedly dropped the gun into the water and turn to run away into the sewers.

Hoofcuff waited for a second before pulling out her backup gun and fishing her original gun out of the water and putting it back in the hostler. She started to gallop after Fluttershy.

The dull echo of footfalls steadily grew louder and louder as the pipe steadily became brighter she approached the end of the tunnel. She rounded a bend in the pipe and was greeted by Fluttershy, this time clambering up a ladder up the surface.

“Fluttershy!” Hoofcuff shouted. Fluttershy froze and turned around, a terrified look on her face.

“N-no, please, leave me alone.” Fluttershy begged.

“I’ll leave you alone when you turn yourself in.” Hoofcuff replied.

Fluttershy stepped up another ladder rung.

“Fluttershy stop moving right now!” Hoofcuff shouted, aiming her gun directly at Fluttershy’s head. “Fluttershy if you do not stop moving I will shoot you and I will not miss!”

Fluttershy stopped. “B-but New F-fluttershy won’t like that!”

Hoofcuff scoffed. “Look Fluttershy, I don’t know who the hay this ‘New Fluttershy’ is nor do I care. Now, I want you to start down the ladder and don’t try anything.”

Fluttershy nodded meekly and did as she was told. Hoofcuff started to walk towards her, keeping her gun pointing at her in case Fluttershy tried to make a break for it. “And don’t you even think about flying away.” She shouted at Fluttershy as she stepped closer.

Fluttershy nodded and stepped onto the floor of the pipe, falling down on her knees. Hoofcuff levitated a pair of hoofcuffs and slapped them on the pegasus, who was now crying.

“Oh stop whining. You’ve given us enough trouble as it is.” Hoofcuff grumbled, as she forced Fluttershy to her knees and escorted her out of the pipe.


General Iron Will smiled grimly at the sight before him.

His main target, the very thing he had been doggedly searching for more than ten years for, was finally in his hands.

The yellow pegasus lay on the floor of the padded interrogation chamber, quiet as a mouse, looking as if she’d just been run over by a train. Her mane was now matted and damp, and her coat was filthy. She looked like the single most pitiful creature in the entire universe.

Iron Will let out a contented sigh and opened the door to the chamber.

“Well, well, well…hello there my little pony…” he chuckled as he pulled up a small chair and sat down in front of her.

“You’ve caused quite a bit of trouble you know.” He pulled out a portfolio and slammed it down on the table in front of the pegasus, who flinched as if a bomb had gone off.

“P-please….I d-don’t w-want to h-hurt y-you…” she whimpered, her voice somewhat slurred.

Iron Will scoffed. “Oh please. I know for a fact that you can’t hurt me right now. You know why?”

Fluttershy shook her head sluggishly.

Iron Will smiled. “Well my little friend, that’s because we’ve got you doped up on enough tranquilizers to put half of Canterlot into a coma.” He leaned down and roughly patted her on the head like a dog.

“Now, since you’re finally here, our little nerds in science are going to have an awfully fun time with you.”

Fluttershy weakly looked towards him. “What are they going to do to me?” she whimpered, tears in her eyes.

Iron Will shrugged. “Oh I don’t know. Probably cut you open, take organ samples, fill you with needles and IV’s, I don’t care. All I care is that, I finally got you.”

He stood up and walked towards the door. “Good night…freak.” He flicked the light off, leaving the pony alone, weeping.

Act II - 07 - The Secret Side of Me

View Online

Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Seven
"The Secret Side of Me"

Super Max Prison Report:

Case #11095

INMATE NAME: Fluttershy Braveheart
SPECIES: Pegasus Pony
HAIR: Pink
COAT: Light Yellow
EYES: Cyan
CUTIE MARK: Three pink butterflies
VIOLATION: Crimes against Equestria

NOTES: Suspect shows signs of extreme paranoia, refusing to give name or hoofprints. Consistent mentioning of a certain other mare by the name of “New Fluttershy”. When inquired upon refuses to give any more information on said pony.


Fluttershy awoke to find herself wrapped in the warm embrace of goose down comforters. Where am I? She thought, her eyes drifting around to take in the room. It was a simple affair, with calming sea blue walls and a simple wood floor. The curtains were open, allowing quite a bit of light to come pouring in, giving the room a warm and inviting feel.

The sound of scampering hoofsteps greeted her ears, and Fluttershy instinctively bundled up in the covers all the more, fearing what might come bursting through the closed door in front of her bed. The door knob jiggled for a second before the door exploded open, and two small fillies came bounding into the room, dressed in identical yellow dresses. One had a cream colored coat, a slightly lighter shade than Fluttershy's, with a strawberry pink mane. The other had the exact inverse, with her mane being the same shade of cream and her coat strawberry pink.

"Momma!" The two shouted for joy as they jumped onto the bed, instantly burrowing themselves into the covers, pulling Fluttershy into a tight hug. Fluttershy felt a wave of warmth sweep through her. I’m their mother? she thought, her mind still processing the situation. The two fillies hugged her even tighter. The strawberry coated one looked up at her, her eyes the exact same shade of blue as Fluttershy’s.

“Momma daddy wanted you to know he cooked breakfast!” she chirped, a big smile on her face. Fluttershy simply blinked. Father? I'm married too?

“R-really?” Fluttershy stuttered. The two fillies nodded rapidly. “Th-that’s wonderful...” she added, joy welling up within her soul.

“You wanna come down to the dining room or do you want us to bring it up to you?” the cream colored filly asked. Fluttershy was silent for a moment. She wondered what her husband looked like.

“Um no that’s okay, I’ll go downstairs.” Fluttershy said. The two fillies smiled again, leaping off the bed.

“Okay mommy!” they giggled, scampering out of the room again, leaving Fluttershy alone once more. Fluttershy simply stared ahead for a moment, her soul filling with an emotion she hadn’t truly experienced in years.

Joy. The joy that she had a family. Joy that she didn’t have to be constantly fearing that she’d be captured. Joy that she was finally at peace. She noticed that she was crying. Not tears of anguish, but rather tears of joy. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she wiped her cheeks and slowly clambered out of bed and gently let her bare hoof touch the wooden floor. Almost silently, she walked across the room, relishing the simple pleasure of creaking floorboards and fresh clothing. From downstairs came the sound of the fillies giggling and talking adamantly. They were joined by a third voice, a male one, that Fluttershy assumed was the father.

She opened the door slowly, revealing the hallway that lead towards the staircase. She walked along the hall, gazing at the pristine home in wonder. the walls were the same shade of light blue as the walls in her bedroom, and all along them ran dozens of photos of her, the fillies or all of them together. For the first time she was able to see what her husband looked like.

He was a tall earth pony stallion with a neat mane cut and a warm smile on his face. The photo was in black and white, however, and his cutie mark was hidden by the long sleeved shirt he wore in the photo. A wistful smile crossed Fluttershy’s face. Everything was completely perfect.

That’s when she felt it. The floor shaking slightly underneath her hooves. Something was wrong, Fluttershy could feel it. Fluttershy started towards the staircase, her pace quickening as fear for her family overtook her.

She darted down the staircase as fast as her legs could carry her. The staircase shook violently and there was an explosion of noise. The stairs all of a sudden retracted into the staircase, sending Fluttershy sliding down the staircase as if it were a slide. She hit the ground hard, grunting in pain. As she stood on her hooves, her eyes widened in terror.

Standing in the shattered remains of what Fluttershy assumed was the dining room, stood the hulking green form of her alter ego. Its wild red mane hung in front of its face, and Fluttershy could make out its emerald eyes looking towards her with pure, unbridled rage. Underneath it’s hooves Fluttershy could make out some vaguely pony shaped blood covered pulps. Fluttershy found herself frozen in terror, her stomach twisting and unable to move or speak.

A rumbling growl came from the beast. "Puny pony..." it growled, lunging towards her. Fluttershy let out a ear piercing scream as the monster slammed down on her and everything went black.


Fluttershy’s eyes shot open and she bolted upright, soaking wet with a cold sweat. As soon as she sat up, however, a wave of exhaustion fell down on her, smothering her in tranquilizer induced haze almost instantaneously. Her body suddenly felt as if it were made of solid lead. Her energy now completely drained, her body fell back down to the padded floor of the cell like a stone.

The haze of tranquilizers started to dissipate and she could feel herself coming out of the fog. She could feel her energy returning slowly and steadily, but it didn’t matter. She tried to move her legs, but found that her entire body was tightly wrapped in a straight jacket. Her mind shifted through the remains of the nightmare which still clung to her mind. She had had the perfect life she always wanted. A loving husband, two beautiful children, a nice, safe home for them to live together in peace. No government hunting after her, no constant need to move to the next hiding place or fear for her own life or the lives of anyone else. It was all perfect. And it was all just an illusion, completely and savagely destroyed by the demonic monster that lived inside of her.

Another wave, this one of immense, inescapable depression now poured over her as the hazy memory of Firefly's smiling face and her happy, content voice drifted across her mind. Firefly. Her old childhood friend, now happily married and with a child. A part of Fluttershy felt intense burning envy towards her friend. Firefly had it all, and what of Fluttershy? She was nothing more than a failed laboratory experiment, turned into a freak that was forced to run from everything around her, leaving destruction and suffering in her wake. She would never be able to experience the joy that Firefly must feel everyday. That of motherhood, the comfort of a loving husband or the contentment of a quiet home. With Fluttershy, it would always be just a hair’s breadth away from being shattered by her own existence.

She felt her throat tighten as she started to sob, her vision watering and tears pouring out of her eyes in an endless river. Where was she to go? She was still in the straight jacket, locked in a cell in some unknown military facility. It was over. No way of escape. No reason to go on. It was the end.

Her thoughts were interrupted however, when she heard the sound of the doorknob to her cell jiggling. Out of the corner of her vision, she could make out the door creaking open.

“No...please...leave me alone...” she weakly protested as a unicorn stood over her with a large syringe.

“Sorry lady...time for your shot.” the unicorn said, his voice sounding as if he were bored out of his skull.

“B-but New Fluttershy...” she whimpered as she backed herself up against the wall. She could feel her heart rate climbing higher and higher as hundreds of terrifying uses for the syringe ran through her mind. Images of her being strapped to a table, dozens of doctor’s looming over her with sharp knives, all smiling, ready to cut her open and see how she ticked, almost as if she were a broken toy that needed fixing.

“Look, ma’am I don’t know about this ‘New Fluttershy’ you keep mentioning is, but you’re gonna stay here until the boys at the top say you can go.” the unicorn’s words snapped Fluttershy out of her paranoid fantasy. Her eyes darted around, looking around for someway to escape, her heartbeat thundering in her ears.

“N-No...p-please...l-leave me alone...” she sobbed, as green once more started to seep into her field of vision. She started to hyperventilate, her adrenaline running wild as she was overcome with crippling fear. She could feel New Fluttershy wildly struggling against her own will, trying to break free.

The unicorn rolled his eyes, seemingly oblivious. “Oh come on stop crying like a baby, it’s only a-”

Fluttershy didn’t hear the end of his sentence, as the green completely overtook her field of vision and she felt New Fluttershy explode forth, completely overwhelming her and seizing control.


Hoofcuff let out a sigh and downed her sixth cup of coffee mixed in with whisky. After capturing Fluttershy, she had taken her to a special ultra high security facility. She didn’t know why she was being forced to stay at the facility, however, but at least it meant she was back in Equestria and not in that over-sized flying silver cigar.

So, here she was, in a bunker, out in the middle of the Equestrian desert, with only a coffee machine, a bottle of whiskey and Starlight for company. She had been showered with praise and adulation by General Iron Will and most of the team for what she had accomplished, but for some reason she couldn’t quiet peg down, she felt rather empty inside. Usually after capturing a target, she would happy and content, quiet willing to bask in the praises of others. But now, she felt a strange sense of guilt.

Starlight suddenly appeared next to her and poured himself a cup of coffee. “What’s eating ya boss?”

Hoofcuff shot him a quick glance. “Is it that obvious?” she sighed as she poured another cup of coffee, emptying her small bottle of whisky into it.

Starlight nodded. “Yeah. You always drink you’re coffee with whisky when you’re frustrated.” There was a pause as the two ponies drank their respective drinks.

“Seriously?” Hoofcuff said, giving Starlight a funny look.

Starlight nodded. “When you can get it yeah. If not you then just visit a bar. So…” he paused, taking a sip of his coffee. “Are you going to tell me what’s eating you?”

Hoofcuff shrugged. “I guess…no real reason not to, right?” she walked over to the table, followed by Starlight where they sat down.

“Well…” Starlight asked, raising an eyebrow.

Hoofcuff sighed. “I can’t quiet peg it Starlight…I’ve been going over the case right, and all the evidence and…well…” she paused, thinking of a way to find the right words. “It’s just that everything seems so damned wonky…”

Starlight raised an eyebrow. “How so? I haven’t really noticed anything totally bonkers. Pretty mundane trip actually.” He took another sip of his coffee.

Hoofcuff groaned. “Oh come on Starlight…don’t you get it? Everything about this is wonky…like, when she had me cornered in the sewer, remember? She had my own gun pointed right at me and you know what?”


“She didn’t take the shot. And she had a perfectly clear shot. I was right there, with my hooves up in the air, and she could have popped me easy, but she didn’t. Why is that?”

Starlight shrugged. “Um…well…maybe she didn’t want to…I don’t know.”

Hoofcuff shrugged. “Nah, if she wanted to kill me right there, she totally could have. She didn’t know about my backup. She had a clean shot and I wasn’t wearing a vest. No, you know how she looked?”

Starlight shook his head.

“She looked completely and utterly terrified of me.” Hoofcuff said, shaking her head.

“Seriously?” Starlight asked, rather surprised.

“Yeah! It’s as if I was some kind of dragon or something. Be honest Starlight; am I frightening?”

Starlight hesitated. “Um…well…sometimes…” he gave her a sheepish grin.

Hoofcuff rolled her eyes. “Thank you Starlight.”

Suddenly a low rumble shook the room.

“What was that?” Starlight asked, his ears flickering about trying to catch the sound.

Hoofcuff looked around. “I have no idea…”

They both paused, saying nothing, trying to catch whatever sound was in the air.


“There it goes again…” Starlight said. “You think it’s an earthquake?”

Hoofcuff shook her head. “I don’t think so…I don’t think we’re by a fault line…are we?”

Suddenly an alarm blared over the speakers, causing both of them to cover their ears. A voice started to speak over the speakers.


Hoofcuff started for the door, making sure to grab her weapon on the way out. Prisoner 101296? She thought. I know that number…Fluttershy!

She bolted through the halls, mixing in with the various guards who were all armed to the teeth.

Personally, though, Hoofcuff wasn’t quite sure why everybody was taking this all so seriously. She understood the need to make sure prisoners stayed in their cells, otherwise, what’s the point of a prison? But all this for one pony? And a strangely meek and fearful one at that. It once again, didn’t quite add up.

She caught a glimpse of Snowflake emerging from a lower floor, a look of abject terror on his face. What she saw next was a sight that she simply couldn’t believe.


Snowflake sat in his temporary cabin, starting intently at the wall across the room. He could hear the voice of his father in his head, memories from all the times he had been berated for failing at anything ringing through his head.


He shook his head to clear away the memories, but he simply couldn't deny the obvious.

He had failed.

He had been so close to capturing this strange pegasus, and what happened? That stupid unicorn mare managed to catch her first.

What was wrong? Was he losing his edge? He had been told to go find a hard to find target, and, to add insult to injury, had lost her once she went down into that damned sewer, being forced to watch as that Agent Hoofcuff character went down and found her instead.

And that was the strangest thing he’d seen so far. Only had he been bested by a civilian mare, but when he finally saw the target, he’d been massively underwhelmed.

She was a sorry sight. Completely covered in sewer refuse, her mane sloppily cut and hanging around her head like a dead animal, dripping disgusting brown hair dye or something, he honestly couldn’t tell, and, a personality completely opposed to what Snowflake had in mind.

She was constantly twitching and shying away from every noise and she seemed completely and utterly terrified of everything around her. Not all the image he had concocted in his mind of a killer willing to do anything in order to escape them.

So, he had then spent the entire flight to the prison in his cabin, and now, he sat in the room provided for him in the prison. Why he was here and not moving onto another, more important mission, whatever that might be, was beyond him.

So he spent his time griping and meditating on his failure.

That’s when he heard it. A low rumbling noise. It sounded almost like a hooffall, except much lower in pitch.

“What was that?”

Another rumbling noise.

“Something’s up…” he bolted up from his bed and darted over, grabbing his weapon, ready for the worst. This was a special prison, designed to hold only the absolute most dangerous and sadistic of criminals. So any out of place noises were something to take notice of.

Before he even had a chance to reach the door however, an incredibly loud alarm started, followed by a voice over the intercom.


Snowflake instantly opened the door, not giving it a second thought. He bolted down the hall, cursing whoever designed this place for not allowing him to spread his wings and take flight.

He rounded a corner and burst out into a more open area, where a veritable army had formed and was making it’s way down the stairs into a lower level, all armed to the teeth. Snowflake smiled.

Now we get some action!

His smiled however, faded when there was a loud crashing noise; sounding almost like someone was breaking china or something. Before Snowflake even had a chance to properly analyze the sound and determine what caused it, he was greeted by a flailing pony coming up from the floor below, as if shot out of a canon. The pony slammed directly into him, sending them both flying into a nearby wall.

Snowflake disregarded the unconscious pony, and shoved him away, before getting back up on his hooves. There was the sound of wild gunfire and shouting coming from below.

What hell is going on? He wondered as he tried to make his way down the staircase again, only to be greeted by a large group of panicked guards, all yelling and screaming about some monster on the lower levels.

Snowflake pumped his wings, lifting above the mob and started to fly down the staircase, being sure not to catch his wings on any of the structure.

He finally reached the bottom floor to only be greeted by pitch blackness. Muttering curses under his breath, he fished for some kind of flashlight. He found one, and flicked it on, placing it in his mouth.

Nothing. Only an empty cellblock. He looked upwards. Besides the staircase he had come down, all that was above him was some hanging lights. Strangely, it seemed as if something had ripped a few off the roof, and they now lay on the floor.

What the hell happened in here? He wondered as his light revealed more and more damage, strangely similar to the damage he had seen Griefstadt.

As it to answer his question, he was suddenly blindsided by something huge, sending him flying across the room and into a nearby wall. Shaking himself off, he hefted himself into the air, before a sharp pain shot through his left wing, grounding him. He flexed his wings, taking note of the sharp pain in his left.

Must have given me a sprain or something.

He looked around for his flashlight, which had magically landed right next to him, its light still on and shining into the darkness. He quietly picked up the light with his good wing and looked around. Suddenly a massive green shape darted in front of him, followed by a deafeningly loud roar.

Snowflake instantly pulled out his weapon and fired in the direction the shape had gone. Another loud roar greeted his ears and whatever it was started towards him. His eyes widened and he bolted back towards the staircase, clambering up the stairs.

Suddenly a massive green fist appeared out of nowhere and completely destroyed the staircase below Snowflake roaring loudly. He continued to clamber up the stairs, now completely terrified. He finally emerged on the top floor and into the light and let out a massive sigh of relief.

The first thought in his head was: What the hell was that?!

As if to properly answer his question, another roar came from the blackness below and a massive green blur sailed over his head, landing with a thunderous crash in the open.

It was the single most terrifying sight Snowflake had ever seen.

It was an incredibly huge pegasus shaped monster with bright green fur and a wild red mane. It’s eyes burned with what seemed to be pure unbridled rage. It let out another incredibly loud roar and swiped at the hail of gunfire and spells that had greeted its appearance.

The various spells and gunfire only managed to bounce off the monster’s hide like little pebbles, only managing to make it angrier. Suddenly, Snowflake caught sight of General Iron Will standing on a walkway above the creature, a missile launcher in hand. He propped onto his shoulder, and without a word of warning, fired a missile directly into the creature below him.

There was a tremendous explosion and Snowflake ducked for cover. As if in defiance, however, he was greeted by the sound of another roar. He stared, mouth agape as the smoke cleared away, revealing that the missile had done nothing at all.

The monster looked directly at Iron Will and swatted at him like he was a fly, sending the walkway flying and Iron Will sailing through the air where he landed on the ground with a loud thump.

Snowflake figured this was as good as a time as any to pull his weapon and he aimed directly at the monster’s eye.

Please let this work….

The .50 Caliber bullet missed its target and instead impacted into the side of the monster’s head. The monster instantly turned towards Snowflake, its eyes once more burning with rage and anger. Roaring, it lunged towards him. Not about to be crushed by the monster’s titanic hooves, Snowflake bolted to the left, causing the monster to impact on the far wall.

Suddenly a voice called out from above. “DAMN IT SNOWFLAKE! GET OUT OF THERE!” Snowflake looked up to see Hoofcuff standing on one of the walk ways, her horn alight, doing her best to drag the General’s unconscious body away.

Snowflake nodded and ran over, scooping the General onto his back and dragging himself up the destroyed walkway, helped by Hoofcuff.

As soon as they reached the top floor, the monster made a flying leap towards them, soaring right over their heads, through several walls, and out of the building as if it where made of paper.

The sound of cannon fire and hundreds of magic blasts going off greeted Snowflake and Hoofcuff’s ears.

“What the hell is that?!” Hoofcuff shouted over the din, as a rouge missile whizzed by and impacted on the far wall of what was left of the prison building.

Snowflake shook his head. “I don’t bucking know! And where’s Fluttershy? Wasn’t she supposed to have broken out or something?!”

Suddenly Iron Will came too. “What happened?”

The two ponies shot him a dirty look. “I wouldn’t know general” Hoofcuff sneered, obviously quite angry with the General. “All I know is that they say the prisoner escaped and we’re greeted by that big hulk thing…” she peaked over the crumbled wall they were hiding behind and fired off a blast of magic.

The General meanwhile brushed himself off and looked around. “Give me a radio.” He ordered. Hoofcuff and Snowflake briefly looked around.

“Sir there is no radio.” Snowflake responded.

Before the General had chance to reply, yet another explosion shook the air around them, mixed in with the roar of the monster. Snowflake looked up and caught sight of a green blur sailing through the air and into the distance.

Then there was nothing but silence.

Slowly the three peaked over the broken wall, where they were greeted by the sight of empty terrain and several demolished tanks, including a pair that had seemingly been smashed together so hard that they looked like one big pile of metal. The only sign of the monster was several large craters that Snowflake assumed where hoofprints and a larger crater that had seemingly formed when the monster leapt off.

Hoofcuff slowly turned towards the General, a grim look on her face.

“General…I believe you’ve been hiding something from us…”


Fluttershy’s eyes opened slowly. Her whole body ached and groaned with pain.

Last thing she remembered was being in a padded cell being approached by a unicorn carrying a massive syringe. Then, nothing.

That meant only one thing. New Fluttershy had decided to come out of her hiding place. Fluttershy quietly sobbed, unable to fathom what destruction she might have caused when she was like that.

Why was it that every time life started to look up, everything would collapse in on itself into a massive seething cauldron of violence and death.

She rolled over on her back and looked around, her eyes still puffy from her crying.

She found herself lying in the middle of a small clearing in the middle of a forest. The forest felt strangely familiar too her, however. Almost as if she’d been here before.

She slowly dragged herself to her hooves and tried to get a better bearing of her surroundings. She looked behind her to see a massive path of destruction cut into the foliage behind her.

That must be where She came through…

She looked at the ground to see a trial of tremendous hoofprints that eventually shrank and became more normal sized, until the trail stopped at her hooves.

She let out a heavy sigh and started to drag herself along, her body screaming with pain every time she moved a limb.

She walked, or rather stumbled along for what seemed like hours, driven on by the fear that if she stayed in one place, they might find her and the cycle of death might start anew.

She just felt empty. What had she been reduced to? A total and complete failure whose life was spent trying to repress a horrible monster that constantly fought to be let out, to destroy everything she held dear.

She wondered if her other self enjoyed destroying her life, if it got a kick out breaking down her soul, bit by bit, until there was nothing left but that monster, wildly running about.

Her internal thoughts where cut short, however, by a sudden snapping sound to her right. She froze.

Have they found me already?

She slowly edged her head to look in the direction the sound came from. Her ears scanning the forest for anything.

A low growl rumbled through the air, and Fluttershy caught a glimpse of a pair of yellow eyes.

“Oh no….” she whispered. Yellow glowing eyes? In the middle of the forest? It could mean only one thing.


The wooden monster burst forth from the bushes and leaped towards Fluttershy, it’s mouth wide open and ready to bite her head off.

Fluttershy closed her eyes and braced herself, fearing the worst. Suddenly there was a loud cry, followed by crashing sounds and breaking wood. Fluttershy opened her eyes to see a strange sight.

A single zebra stood directly in front of Fluttershy, standing straight and tall. In her hooves was a long wooden staff. The timberwolf was now growling, bits of broken wood hanging off its muzzle.

The zebra turned to look at Fluttershy, seemingly totally oblivious to her disheveled.

“Go hide over there to avoid a fate unfair!” she ordered, before swinging her staff to ward off the angry timberwolf.

Fluttershy nodded her head. This zebra was strange, but certainly a better option then staying and being eaten alive by the timberwolf or risking loosing control again.

The timberwolf growled again and swiped at the zebra with a forepaw. Before the zebra had a chance to react she was sailing through the air and landed roughly. Fluttershy took a chance and bolted for the bush. However, the timberwolf spotted her and chased after her, biting and snapping.

Fluttershy’s legs once more voiced their complaints and a series of sharp aches and pains shot through her body. She lost her balance all of a sudden and fell forward onto the ground. She felt a sharp pain as the timberwolf’s wooden paw fell on her leg, pinning her down.

She turned to face the monstrous wooden creature. She could feel her heart rate climbing by the second, and she began to hyperventilate. She could swear that the timberwolf was smiling at the prospect of a nice piece of fresh pony meat. The edges of her vision began to turn that horrid shade of green again.

Oh Celestia please no!

Apparently, the universe must have heard her prayer, as the zebra let out a war cry of some kind and made a flying kick towards the head of the timberwolf, sending him stumbling to the side, freeing Fluttershy’s leg. She seized her chance and stumbled into the bush, collapsing on the ground. A burning pain ebbed from her leg. Taking a quick glance down at her leg, Fluttershy saw that the timberwolf’s paw had done some damage, breaking the skin and causing severe lacerations.

She also noticed that the green shade at the edge of her field of vision had died away. Letting out a huge sigh of relief, she slummed down on the ground, exhausted. The sounds of combat outside her bush, however, caught her attention. Against her better judgment, she peaked out of the bush.

The zebra was fighting shockingly well against the huge living woodpile, that snapped and clawed at the air wildly, while the zebra merely deftly evaded every swipe. The zebra spun in the air, landing a good hard kick in the monster’s face. She landed on the ground and darted over to her staff. The timberwolf, having recovered from the assault, lunged towards the zebra, mouth agape. The zebra spun around, staff in hoof and stabbed the timberwolf in the throat.

The timberwolf immediately went limp, the yellow glow in its eyes fading away. His body then proceeded to fall apart completely, forming a big pile of word and bark on the ground. The zebra let out a sigh and sat down, obviously exhausted from the battle. She looked around.

“Pony!” she cupped her hooves to her mouth to amplify her voice. “Pony! There is no need to hide! The beast is dead; its meal denied.”

Fluttershy bit her lip. Should I come out? She was torn. The one part of her was telling her to keep going and leave, instead of risking capture again. The other part of her was screaming at her to go out and thank the zebra. She tried to stand up, but a sharp burst of pain caused her to rethink her plan of escape.

“Pony! I know you’re there! It’s safe! I won’t hurt you!” the zebra called out again. She sounded concerned, almost frightened of the aspect of Fluttershy not coming out to greet her. She picked up her staff, and put in on her back, and trotted over to the bush where Fluttershy was hiding.

Leaning down, she peered into the bush. Fluttershy backed away, trying her best to stay out of the mysterious zebra’s sight.

“I am aware that you are in there. Please come out, there is nothing to doubt. No need for alarm, I mean you no harm.” Her voice was calm and collected, and she spoke in a strange rhyme, her voice taking on a sympathetic aura.

Fluttershy swallowed and stepped out of the bush, quaking with fear and hooves shuffling awkwardly. The zebra smiled warmly.

“Hello. I’m sorry we didn’t have a proper chance to meet.” She extended a hoof. “What is the name that I am humbled to greet?”

“Um…Swift Breeze…” Fluttershy quietly shook the hoof. “I’m sorry for causing trouble.”

The zebra laughed. “It is alright, my little friend. Come with me; to your leg we must attend.” She motioned towards Fluttershy’s injured leg as she passed her the cloak she had been wearing, revealing her black and white striped coat and swirl cutie mark.

“Um…” Fluttershy looked down at the gash on her leg. The zebra was right. If she didn’t do something about it, she’d probably catch sepsis and die a horribly slow and painful death.


The zebra smiled and motioned for her to follow her, Fluttershy reluctantly nodded, slipping on the cloak as the two of them walked into the forest.

Act II - 08 - Lead Me to Your Door

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Eight:
"Lead Me to Your Door"

Hoofcuff stalked through the temporary camp, scanning the various cots for Starlight. After the revelation of that giant…thing, she had made a beeline for the temporary medical tents that now littered the remains of the prison.

Hoofcuff was still in a state of quasi-shock over what she had just witnessed.

Where the hell did that thing come from? She thought. She ran through the proceeding events in her mind.

I heard the announcement, came down the hall, enter the room and then a giant green monster is storming around…what the hell?!

No matter how many times she ran through the situation, it only managed to make less, and less sense. How could that thing in anyway be related to Fluttershy? Sure it kind of looking like her, except…it was gigantic…and green…and could smash tanks together like little toy cars. It was disturbing.

She shook her head to clear away the thoughts, muttering to herself. “Get yourself together Hoofcuff…this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ve seen stuff that’s way weirder…right? I mean you’ve hunted down serial killers and mass murders and what’s got you in a bunch? A giant green monster that turned two tanks into a scrap heap and tore through a maximum security prison wall like it was paper…”

She finally caught sight of Starlight lying down on a cot, having a spirited disagreement with a nurse who was trying to move his injured leg.

“Damn it lady! That hurts! Stop moving it! Ow!”

The nurse, who obviously had been putting up with his protests for quite awhile, ignored him and set the injured leg up on a pillow. Hoofcuff finally reached the two.

“Hey Starlight, how you doing?” she asked, trying to sound confident, but the sight of dozens of injured ponies certainly didn’t help it. Starlight shrugged.

“Well, pretty well. They say my leg should be better soon.” He motioned towards the plaster encased leg. “If this nurse won’t stop messing with it.”

The nurse rolled her eyes and turned to look at Hoofcuff. “Excuse me Agent, I have to go treat some more patients. Make sure he doesn’t try to do anything with that leg.”

Hoofcuff nodded. “Sure thing.” She waved as the nurse walked away, before turning back to Starlight. “Starlight, did you see what happened?” Hoofcuff’s voice dropped to a low whisper.

Starlight nodded. “Yeah. What the hell was that thing? I mean it was huge. That’s why I’m here right now. I fell off a walkway or something…”

There was a pause between the two, with Hoofcuff running through the proceeding events trying to piece together something that made sense. Suddenly her face lit up.

“Starlight…remember when the PA system announced that a prisoner had escaped, right before that…hulk thing came around?”

Starlight nodded. “Yeah, they said it was Prisoner 101296…but why? That’s Fluttershy’s number…” he paused, before turning to look up at Hoofcuff. “Surely you can’t be serious…I mean…really?! Fluttershy is that monster? That makes no sense.”

“Well Starlight, think about it. We go to Greifstadt, right? There we find several giant hoofprints, a backpack covered in Fluttershy’s hoofprints and bits of her hair at the scene, right?”

Starlight nodded. “Um, yeah…but who’s to say she simply passed through the area, and forgot her stuff, maybe bolted when the monster came around.”

Hoofcuff’s expression suddenly changed from that of excitement to disappointment. “Oh…right. But still…it just seems too coincidental I mean, when we came up here, do either of us see a sign that said ‘Giant Monster Storage’?”

Starlight rolled his eyes and shook his head. “No, boss, no we didn’t.”

There was another pause between the two as Hoofcuff shook her head, a bewildered expression on her face.

“Um, boss…you know who might have an answer for you?” Starlight suddenly piped up. Hoofcuff groaned.

“Who Starlight? Celestia?”

“Um, no, I was thinking the General. He’s in that tent right over there, and that Snowball guy seemingly also wants to talk to him look.” He pointed towards the snow white pegasus who was trotting over to the General’s tent, a grim and determined look on his face.

“It’s Snowflake, Starlight. And what makes you think he would know anything about that monster? He seemed just as shocked to see it as we did.”

Starlight shrugged. “I don't know boss. You said a few days ago that you felt he was hiding something…and well…”

Hoofcuff looked at the tent across the way, the gears in her head turning again. She ran down a mental checklist of the General’s behavior before, especially back to their first proper debriefing.

“Would you happen to have any information regarding this fugitive’s life before she was hunted? Something like family members or an old home address?” she turned to face Iron Will, holding a hoof up to block the light of the projector from hitting her square in the face.

Iron Will was quiet for a moment. “You don’t need to know anything about that. Haven’t you seen enough? This mare is obviously a threat to the entire nation of Equestria. Now your job is to find her, wherever she is, and capture her, ALIVE and bring her back to Canterlot where we can then decide for a proper punishment for her crimes. Understand?” He snapped.

She nodded, taken somewhat aback by the General’s sudden showing of aggression. “Yes sir, I just like to have all the information I can get on a target before I set out for them. That way I can more accurately predict their next move.”

Iron Will scoffed. “You don’t need any of that for her. As I said, she is a sadistic killer and that is all.”

Hoofcuff suddenly stood up. “Oh yeah he’s hiding something…” she muttered before starting towards the tent across the way, leaving a somewhat confused Starlight calling after her.

“Hey boss! Where ya going?!”

“Going to talk to the General…be back soon!” Hoofcuff shouted over her shoulder.


Snowflake sat on a small cot, a unicorn nurse helping with the sprain in his wing.

“You know…you’re really lucky there Mr. Snowflake. A lesser pony probably would have broken their wing instead of just spraining it.”

Snowflake simply cast a dismissive glance at his wing, before returning to stare at the floor below. He had only one set of thoughts on his mind.

What the hell was that thing?

He ruminated over the thought, trying to come up with a logical explanation of some kind, but no matter how many times he ran it through his mind, it was always the same basic thought.

It was huge…

He thought back to the two tanks, and how they looked after the monster was through with them.

They were like toys…tiny little toys…it just threw them together like toys...what kind of power does that thing have?

His mind went over the scene. The monster had shown the most tremendous display of power and strength he had ever seen. It threw him, the most able bodied soldier in the entire Equestrian Military, against that wall like he was a rag doll. It had taken a missile impact without as much as a second thought. It took a .50 caliber round to the face and didn’t even blink. Snowflake simply couldn’t wrap his head around the sheer amount of power it had shown. It was like some angry god, attacking the ponies below as if they were insects.

But the one thing that did make sense to Snowflake was this: He wanted that power. He wanted it desperately. He had tasted it, and now he lusted after it. He wanted to be able to best this…creature with its own power. He was the best after all, the strongest, the fastest, the smartest. Then why, why did the universe see fit to give that wild animal that much power? Where was the justice in that? He had scraped his way from nothing to the absolute peak, and yet, there was always someone or something that would be ahead of him.

Not anymore.

He suddenly hopped off his cot and started for the General’s tent, which had been set up a couple of tents away. That mare was right. The General had been hiding something, the key to unlimited power, and Snowflake wasn’t about to let that slip through his fingers.


Iron Will sat in his makeshift office, quietly smoking a cigar. From the outside, one would have thought he was taking the destruction of an entire military grade prison and the loss of his target pretty well, as he showed veritably no real emotion.

However, if one were to look inside, they would find that he was in a seething caldron of rage and frustration. That damned mare had escaped again. And this time, she had managed to take out two tanks, and three entire units worth of troops. That monster had managed to make the prison building nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Suddenly, a snow white Pegasus barged into his tent. “General Iron Will, I don’t believe you’ve exactly been honest with me.”

Iron Will looked up and leaned back in his seat. “Agent Snowflake, what are you talking about?”

Snowflake shook his head. “You know exactly what I’m talking about sir. That thing.”

Before Iron Will had a chance to respond to the irate pegasus, a familiar slate grey unicorn mare with dark brown hair barged in as well, her face just as grim as the pegasus.

“General, I believe that you have some answers about all this.”

Iron Will held up a hand. “Calm yourselves. Whatever do you mean?”

The two ponies simply stared back at him, before sharing a confused look. The mare was the first to speak.

“General, what the buck do you think we’re talking about? That monster that appeared when Fluttershy escaped.”

“Oh you mean Fluttershy?”

The two ponies’ mouths dropped open. “What are you talking about?” the mare asked, her face now changing from angry to very, very confused.

Iron Will rolled his eyes. “Agent Hoofcuff, I apologize for the lack of clarity, but certain things are better kept under wraps. Simply put, Fluttershy and Flutterhulk are one and the same.”

Hoofcuff simply blinked, as Snowflake took a step forward. “General, I don’t believe either of us understand what you’re saying. I saw Fluttershy, there’s no way in Equestria that she can be that…‘Flutterhulk’ as you called it. I mean, she’s one tenth the size.”

Iron Will smiled. “Would you like me to explain?”

Yes we’d like you to bucking explain!” Hoofcuff shouted.

Iron Will stood up. “Well, Agent Hoofcuff, about twenty-five years ago, Equestria’s Government was attempting to recreate the serum that created Captain Equestria. Surely you know who that is?”

Hoofcuff nodded. “Yeah, that mare from the painting in your office. Why, what does that have to do with Fluttershy?”

Iron Will held up a figure. “I was getting to that. Among the many scientists the government employed during that time, was one Dr. Banner Wing. He hadn’t been told about the exact nature of the program, but he knew not to ask questions. He was able to craft a serum that enhanced strength, and he tested it out on his daughter…”

“Fluttershy?” Snowflake asked, seemingly connecting the dots. Iron Will nodded.

“Exactly. Now that’s when the details get a little sketchy, you see, apparently, Banner Wing had some kind of accident and Fluttershy disappeared for a few years. She finally resurfaced as a student at Manehattan University, where something happened, we’re not sure what, and now here we are.”

Hoofcuff shook her head, and turned out of the tent, muttering something about this being completely insane. Snowflake on the other hand, seemed intrigued.

“Um, General…do you still happen to have some left over bits of that serum Dr. Wing created?”

Iron Will smiled. “Why of course, we confiscated it upon his most unfortunate death. Why do you ask?”

Snowflake shifted on his hooves. “Because, well…it enhances strength right?”

Iron Will nodded. “Yes…yes it does.” He could sense that Snowflake wanted something. “Why do you ask?”

Snowflake shifted again. “Um, well sir, it just seems that…how do I put this…it’s just that…that thing, it had so much power…” Iron Will could see that Snowflake’s took on a strange obsessive look, almost as if he were looking at solid gold.

“Yes…yes it did.” Iron Will said, walking over towards Snowflake. “Don’t you wish we could harness that power? Use it for the good of Equestria?”

Snowflake nodded. “Yes sir I do. I mean…it was amazing…to see those tanks…”

Iron Will put a hand on Snowflake’s shoulder. “My friend, I have that power. And it can be yours…for a price.”

Snowflake looked at Iron Will. “What price?”

“All you need to do is promise to help us find her again, and this time, take no prisoners. What do you say?”

Snowflake visibly hesitated. Iron Will leaned in close. “You don’t want to fail your country do you?” he whispered, knowing that those words would get the exact reaction he wanted out of the Pegasus.

“No. No sir I do not.” Snowflake finally said, tightening his jaw.

“Good. Then let’s get that for you why don’t we?”

And with that, the two walked out of the tent.


Fluttershy sat inside the mysterious zebra’s forest home. The zebra had been kind enough to provide Fluttershy with a place to sit, a warm coat for her to wrap herself in, and, most thankfully, new horseshoes. The zebra now busied herself over a large, boiling pot, where various strange smells and vapors emanated from.

The zebra suddenly turned, holding a bowl in her hooves. She set it down next to Fluttershy’s injured leg.

“Now my young, little friend, this concoction shall make your pain end.” The zebra said as she rubbed some dark green balm over the wound, causing a vague icy feeling to course through Fluttershy’s leg. The icy feeling faded and was replaced by a pleasant warm sensation as the zebra then applied a large bandage to the area.

“Slight discomfort is what you feel, but with this brew your leg with heal.” The zebra said, smiling.

Fluttershy tentatively moved the injured leg. Sure enough, there was no more pain in the area, almost as if there was never a bite there in the first place.

“Thank you so very much,” Fluttershy said quietly. “I really think I should go now though.” She tried to get up, but her bandaged leg suddenly gave way. The zebra caught her, and helped her sit back down.

“The balm may have stopped the pain, that is fact, but it still requires time to act. To fully heal that bite from the beast, you shouldn’t walk on that leg for a few days at least.”

Fluttershy let out a heavy sigh, her eyes drifting towards the door. She didn’t want to be here. It was a strange place, with creepy masks adorning the walls and dozens of vials and bottles filled with liquids that Fluttershy couldn’t recognize.

The whole place reminded her of a witch’s cottage or something from a fairy tale. She half expected that the bubbling cauldron over the fire might have been used to roast fillies or some other horrible deed.

She looked back at the zebra, who was now sitting across from her, smiling kindly. Suddenly the zebra spoke.

“Oh, such poor manners on my part. Let me our introductions restart. From Zebrica, Zecora is my name and it is a title I am proud to proclaim.” She extended a hoof once more in greeting. Fluttershy shook the hoof slowly.

“Okay…” she hid behind her mane as a reflex.

There was a long pause between the two as Fluttershy twiddled her hooves. Just play it cool Fluttershy, she thought, Most likely this zebra has absolutely no idea who you are and what you’ve done so you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

The zebra unexpectedly broke the silence.

“Something is troubling you, of that I am sure. What troubles have you been forced to endure?”

Fluttershy looked up. “Huh?” she finally got a chance to get a good look at the zebra’s face. She seemed about middle aged, maybe forty, yet still looking very fit. Her eyes were a dark green and seemed to show wisdom beyond her years, as if they had seen everything the world had to offer.

“Um…well….it’s nothing really…” Fluttershy finally replied, looking back down at the floor.

The zebra shook her head. “Something is deep inside you. It is why you are feeling blue. Something you claim to be evil. Something that causes your life upheaval.”

Fluttershy bit her lip. Busted.

“Um…no I’m not hiding anything…” Fluttershy said, hoping to end the zebra’s sudden interrogation.

“What you say not true, as I sense great fear in you.”

Fluttershy didn’t say anything, only hiding behind her mane again. Did this zebra have some kind of psychic powers or something? How was she able to know this?

“No I’m not…” Fluttershy replied, hoping that the zebra’s strange powers didn’t somehow encompass spotting a liar.

“Lies to me are your attempts to persuade. Why are you so afraid? Is it because of a wrong you have committed? The horrors you allowed to become permitted?”

Fluttershy turned to look at the zebra, tears starting to well up in her eyes.

“Why should I tell you? How do I know you’re not just going to call the police like everypony else has?”

The zebra leaned back, crossing her forelegs. “Ah, so you have done something wrong. Take heart, my little friend. I could see your goodness all along. Your plea is something that I comprehend."

Fluttershy sighed heavily and stared at the floor. All the various aches and pains she had been ignoring suddenly decided to make themselves known again, reminding her of her battered and bedraggled state. She was exhausted with all this lying and running. Every lie she told just amounted to another heavy burden she would have to carry. She just wanted peace.

“Promise not tell anypony?”

The zebra nodded. “Be not afraid, gentle one. Your time spent here shall be known to none.”

Fluttershy took a deep breath, and took the plunge. “When…when I get angry I hurt ponies. And I don’t want to hurt ponies, but it always happens, no matter what I do to try and stop it.” Tears started to make their way down her cheeks.

The zebra leaned forward and gently put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “You seem to mistrust the path of ire, that it is something you do not desire”

Fluttershy looked up. “What do you mean? Isn’t it bad?”

The zebra shook her head. “Anger can be something a pony can admire. Don’t believe me, take a look at the fire..” She pointed towards the fireplace. “Leaving anger bottled, and it will explode. It will cause all things around it to slowly erode.” She demonstrated her words by dropping a piece of cloth into the fire. “But if the flames are under restrain, then warmth and beauty shall one attain.”

Fluttershy looked at the fire. “But you have no idea what it’s like…to be alone like I am…without anypony to talk to…” she started to sob.

“That statement is untrue. A lot in common I have with you.” The zebra suddenly spoke. Fluttershy stopped mid sob and turned to look at the zebra, her eyes now puffy from her tears.


The zebra nodded. “I do know how it is to be alone. My family and friends, out of my home I was thrown.” The zebra turned and looked out the window, a distant look in her eyes. “Cast out of my homeland. I know loneliness firsthand.” She let out a sigh and turned back towards Fluttershy. “But my time here has been well spent. Bettering myself here, I am content.”

There was a long silence between the two as Fluttershy thought about what the zebra had said. Her curiosity got the better of her and she spoke up, her voice quiet.

“Um, what happened?” she asked, hoping that this wouldn't offend the zebra. The zebra sighed once more.

“I acted foolish and rash. It caused me and my people to clash. I was banished destined to roam, until I found a new place to call my home.” There was another pause between the two, which was interrupted by a rumbling in Fluttershy's belly.

“I see that hunger has found you tonight,” the zebra chuckled, standing up and walking over to a pot that was bubbling over a small makeshift stove. She grabbed a ladle in her mouth and poured two small bowls of something that Fluttershy hoped was soup. She then put the bowls on a small makeshift table and motioned for Fluttershy to sit.

“Come my friend, and have a quick bite.”

Fluttershy hesitated. Her stomach once more sounded its protests. She hadn't had a full meal in at least two days and her body knew it.

No use saying no...she hasn't sold you out yet, so why say no? Better than starving to death right? She thought.

“Um...okay then.” She finally said, quietly sitting at the table. “Thank you.”

The zebra nodded. “Your thanks is well received. I hope the food becomes just what you need.”

Fluttershy smiled and finally relaxed, inhaling the rich aroma of the soup. Warm memories of the dinners her mother would cook came flooding back, bringing a tear to her eyes. She picked up the spoon that Zecora had provided and began to eat, deeply savoring the rich flavors and taste.

After awhile, they each had finished their bowls and night had fallen. Zecora motioned towards a large cushion with some pillows and a simple cover.

“I insist you not sleep on the floor. Take my bed tonight, so your leg will not be sore.” Zecora said.

“Oh no, you really shouldn't. I'll be fine sleeping anywhere really. I wouldn't want to take yours...” Fluttershy replied, shaking her head.

“My dear friend, take heart. You’ll need your rest to make a fresh start. I insist take my bed. It is no trouble so go right ahead.” She turned towards a large pile of stuff and rummaged through it, pulling out what Fluttershy assumed was a rather weathered old hammock. Zecora then proceeded to hang the hammock from the roof of the hollowed out tree and plopped inside, letting a long yawn.

“I wish you a pleasant rest. And may the road ahead be equally blessed.” and with that, the zebra fell asleep.

Fluttershy sighed. “Goodnight...” she whispered back, more out of habit than anything else, as she settled on the makeshift bed, watching as the embers of the fire died away, leaving her in the dark.

Her eyelids grew heavy and she finally surrendered to exhaustion, worn out after the long day, entering the dark labyrinth of her memories and dreams.

Act II - 09 - We're On Our Way Home

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Nine:
"We're On Our Way Home"

The final bell rung and a young Fluttershy quietly walked down the halls of Canterlot Middle School, doing her best not attract any unwanted attention. Ever since her fight with Dark Sky, not a single pony dared to approach her. At whichever table she sat in the cafeteria, the other fillies and colts would instantly shy away and move to another table. Every time that happened, it felt like a part of Fluttershy's soul was dying.

More often than not, she would catch the snippets of their gossip when she walked by, with words like “freak”, “weirdo” or the worst of them all, “monster” being said along with her name.

She stopped in front of her locker and stared at the dented metal, which served as a constant reminder of her horrible actions.

I did that.. She thought, tears coming to her eyes. Everypony treats me like I'm some kind of monster...but I'm not...right?

She wiped her eyes and opened her locker. Inside was Angel Bunny, quietly sleeping in his cage, seemingly perfectly at peace. Fluttershy quietly opened the cage and gently coaxed the bunny awake.

“Angel Bunny, its Mommy. Time to go home...” she whispered. The bunny groggily hopped up her arm and nuzzled himself into her mane. Fluttershy smiled wistfully and fished out her backpack and the cage, tucking the collapsible cage into her bag and slinging it onto her back.

She then closed her locker and started down the hall towards the exit. She unexpectedly bumped into a random colt.

“Hey watch where you’re going you stupid…” the colt turned around, quite irate. However, as soon as he saw who he was shouting at, he took a step back, eyes filled with fear.

“Oh, um, sorry I didn’t know…I, um…uh…” he tripped over his own legs and sprawled on the floor, holding up his hooves as if begging for mercy. “Just please don’t hurt me! I didn’t mean to bump into you…”

Fluttershy shied behind her mane. She felt a sharp pain go through her soul at the sight of the cowering pony. He acted as if she were about to rip his head off right then and there. He was acting as if she were some sort of monster. She bit her lip as tears started to well up in her eyes. The next thing she knew she was running down the halls crying, unable to hold back weeks of pent up sadness.


“What?! You seriously can’t be telling me this...” Tree Flower’s abnormally angry tone caught Fluttershy’s attention as she walked down the hallway towards the kitchen.

“Honey, don’t you understand? It’s for the best. I wouldn’t dare do anything to hurt her…” her father’s voice said, sounding like he was trying to calm Tree Flower down.

“Banner, I explicitly told you that you shouldn’t be testing things on your own daughter like she’s some sort of science experiment!” Tree Flower shouted back. “Did you have any idea of the side effects this stuff might cause?! She could have died.”

“Of course I knew about the side effects! Don’t you think I thought this through?! Of course I tested it. Nothing happened!” Banner Wing snapped back.

Fluttershy could hear her father trying to get a word in edgewise, only to be continually cut off by Tree Flower.

“And don’t give any of that ‘It’s the only way’ crap Banner Wing. You KNOW there were at least ninety other ways to help your daughter! What possessed you to try and inject this!?”

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. What are they talking about? What tests?

Fluttershy peaked behind the corner and saw her mother holding a vial holding a dark green fluid inside of it in front of her father, who simply sat at the kitchen table, biting his lip and avoiding his wife’s withering gaze.

“Mommy? What’s going on? Why are you two fighting? Fluttershy asked as she stepped out into the kitchen.

Her mother and father looked at her, shock on her faces. Tree Flower turned to look at Banner Wing. Banner Wing bit his lip and leaned down, smiling. “It was nothing honey. Just a simple disagreement.”

Fluttershy looked over her father’s shoulder and towards the green vial her mother had now set on the table top.

“But daddy, mommy said something about tests on me…”

Banner Wing’s eyes grew wide in realization. “Um…well…honey…I…um…” he faltered, as if trying to find the right words to say.

Fluttershy’s concern grew. Why was her daddy suddenly so worried? He didn’t have anything to hide, right?

“Mommy? Are you and Daddy okay?” Fluttershy looked towards her mother expectantly, only to be greeted by her mother starting to cry, turning away from her.

Suddenly her dad spoke. “Fluttershy…” she turned to look at him.

“Yes daddy?”

He hesitated. “Fluttershy my dear, I have a confession…” Fluttershy became worried.

“About what, daddy?” she asked.

“Um…well…as it turns out, that little vial over there contains a special serum I made, and…” he hesitated again. “Well…I’ve…”

“Oh please just tell her the truth and be done with it!” Tree Flower suddenly interjected, her voice more of a sob then a command as tears welled up in her eyes.

Fluttershy could sense that whatever it was her father was about to tell her, it probably wasn’t all that good. Her father looked at her mother, took another deep breath and continued.

“I’ve been testing it on you.”

Those six words completely shattered Fluttershy’s world. She felt her heart drop like a stone to the bottom of her chest.

Fluttershy shook her head in disbelief. No this has to be some kind of big joke, she thought. Daddy would never do that…right?

She gazed into her father’s dark blue eyes. They were serious. This was no joke. Fluttershy suddenly felt very confused. One part of her wanted to scream out in anger, unable to fathom how her father could treat her that way. Another part of her just wanted to run away and never come back, since the only pony who seemed to love her as she was seemingly had betrayed her trust.

“D-daddy…please tell me that’s not true…” she sobbed.

Her father simply shook his head, his eyes heavy with sadness. “Oh my dear,” he pulled her into a hug. “I just wanted to make you all better…”

Her father’s words failed to comfort the distraught filly. Make you all better? Why was she sick? Was there something wrong with her? What?!

Her father continued. “You just so small…I just wanted to make you bigger and stronger…nothing else…”

Fluttershy shook her head. She could feel her entire world disintegrating around her. The idea of her father being somehow dissatisfied in her only managed to ignite an inexplicable feeling of rage within her. She shoved herself out of her father’s hug.

“WHY?!” She shouted, seething in rage. “Why did you do this to me?!” tears poured down her cheeks.

Banner Wing took a step back. “Fluttershy, calm down…”

“NO! I won’t calm down!” She shouted back as she felt her mind begin to be clouded over by her rage. “You said you’d never let anybody hurt me and ever since we’ve been here, all I’ve ever been is hurt and mocked and picked on like I’m a freak and some kind of failure…” she started to hyperventilate. “And now you even think I’m a failure?!”

Banner Wing slammed a hoof on the floor. “Fluttershy stop this immediately. I NEVER said that. I love you Fluttershy. I don’t think you’re a failure at all!”

Fluttershy shook her head. “You’re lying! Just like everypony else!” she shrieked as she felt her anger boiling over. The last thing she remembered before blacking out was the look on her parent’s faces. They were frightened.


Fluttershy bolted upright, dripping in a cold sweat. She looked around, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. She was still in Zecora’s hut. She shook her head to clear away the bad memories that clung like cobwebs in her mind. She slowly stepped out of the bed, hoping that Zecora was still asleep. She gently put weight on her bandaged leg. A dull pain ebbed from it, but she was able to support herself on it.

Boy, that stuff works fast… she thought, smiling. The pale blue glow of dawn had started to make its way into the hut, revealing the still sleeping zebra hanging in her hammock, snoring.

Fluttershy smiled warmly. She really was nice…but I really should leave. Don’t want to be a burden.

She started to quietly walk towards the door, limping slightly due to her leg injury. A voice behind her however caught her attention. She froze.

“So your journey must begin anew? Where is it you will be off to?”

Fluttershy turned to see Zecora clambering out of her hammock.

“Um, well…” Fluttershy shuttered, hiding behind her mane. “I, um…I really don’t want to be a burden to you, and…um…I just feel that I should keep going.”

Zecora smiled and shook her head. “What made you think you were a burden to me? You were as good a guest as a guest can be.”

Fluttershy looked down at the ground embarrassed. “N-nothing…”

Zecora walked up and put a hoof on her shoulder. “Swift Breeze, what plagues you now? Is there a way I can help somehow?”

Fluttershy bit her lip. “Well…I just want to keep moving…I just do.”

Zecora’s expression changed from that of concern to that that Fluttershy assumed was calm acceptance. “No need to explain, no need to fret. This is a meeting I won’t surely forget. Before continuing on your mission, take this item as a worthy addition.” She turned and started to rummage through some shelves in the corner. She pulled out a small sack and continued to rummage through the shelves, putting in various containers inside.

“For your long journey, you will need supplies. I shall give you some for the needs that arise.” She said, handing Fluttershy the sack. Fluttershy regarded it with caution.

“Um…what’s inside?” Fluttershy asked, hoping that the containers didn't contain anything dangerous.

Zecora smiled, "Bits, balm, clothes and plenty of food. Those are the things your bag should include." she motioned towards Fluttershy's leg.

Fluttershy smiled and took the sack from Zecora. "Thank you," she started back towards the door. "But I really feel it's time for me to go."

"My friend, don't leave yet. One last thing before I forget." Zecora called out. Fluttershy stopped.

What now? she thought, biting her lip again reflexively.

"My friend, allow me to escort you from this place. Least you be locked in dangers embrace." the zebra grabbed her staff, which had been resting in the corner, and walked up to Fluttershy. "With staff in hoof I promise to defend from dangers that you cannot possibly comprehend."

Fluttershy hesitated. "Like what?"

"Within this forests are many creatures of mystery, many who tried to face them are now lost to history." Zecora stepped ahead of Fluttershy and opened the door. The forest stretched ahead, thick with foliage. Some beams of sunlight shot through gaps in the branches, but overall the forest carried with it a dark and foreboding air.

Fluttershy shied away at the forest in front of her. She hadn't taken into account that she honestly had no idea where she was or what lurked in the dark shadows. "Um...okay then, you can lead the way...if that's okay with you."

Zecora nodded. "Of course my yellow friend, now, to the path ahead, we must attend." she beckoned to Fluttershy. "Now come, we should go before mornings end."

Fluttershy gulped and swung the sack over her back and started after Zecora, still limping slightly.

The two barely spoke to each other as they walked through the thick underbrush, Fluttershy spending most of the time observing the various exotic plants and the occasional animal that would dart in and out of the underbrush or along the various low hanging branches. Her leg still carried with it a dull pain that prevented her from putting her full weight on it, but with each passing hour the pain slowly diminished.

Wow, I wonder what she put in that balm… she thought. She glanced at Zecora, who strode ahead, confidentially, keeping a watchful eye on the underbrush.

“Um, Zecora…” Fluttershy asked.

“Yes?” Zecora replied, still keeping a watchful eye on the forest.

“I was, um, wondering if you could tell me what you put in the balm.”

“To make my special brew, mixing various herbs is what you must do.” Zecora replied, before stopping suddenly, nearly causing Fluttershy to bump into her.

“What is it?” Fluttershy whispered, various terrifying thoughts jumping to the forefront of her mind, all of which involved her being eaten alive by some horrible monster.

Maybe it’s a matacore? Or another timberwolf! Or a maybe it’s a cockatrice…or maybe it’s… she peered over Zecora’s shoulder and instantly felt a massive sense of relief.

In front of them was a thick patch of bright blue flowers that resembled lilies. Fluttershy gave Zecora a quizzical look.

“Um, Zecora, those are flowers. Why’d we stop?”

Zecora looked over her shoulder. “My friend, this flower, as innocent as it may seem, is the source of many a bad scene. It is Poison Joke.”

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. “Poison joke?” the name sounded somewhat familiar to her. “Um, if I’m correct, doesn’t that only grow in the Everfree Forest?”

Zecora nodded. “That is correct, and this is also the place in which we trek.”

Fluttershy looked around, the forest taking on a darker feeling. She had heard stories about the dangers of the forest when she was a little filly living in Ponyville, and now, here she was. It also, however, served almost as a source of relief, since she hoped that the government wouldn’t dare follow her into such a notoriously wild and dangerous part of Equestria.

“Come, let us walk around this patch, less the plant’s poison we catch.” Zecora motioned towards some bushes, and they started to clamber through the thick plant life. The shrub turned out to be a bramble bush, which clawed at their coats and Fluttershy’s bandages.

They plowed their way through, neither of them saying anything much to each other besides the occasional warning against any potential pitfalls that were in their path. As the day went on, clouds of insects hovered around their faces, and sweat lathered on their bodies as the temperature and humidity climbed. After seemingly hours of hiking through the bush, they cleared the surprisingly large patch of poisonous flowers and returned to the main path.

Fluttershy wiped the sweat from her brow and let out a tired pant. “Z-zecora,” she panted, “Are we almost out?”

Zecora herself wiped away her ample amounts of sweat and nodded tiredly. “Be patient my little friend, your journey is near it’s end.” She pushed some thick vines out of the way to reveal the edge of a large clearing ahead. “Behold, the end of our quest. And with little trouble, for our hoofsteps were blessed.”

Fluttershy peaked out into the clearing. The forest opened up to reveal a nice open plot of surprisingly well-kept grass. From where they were standing she could see various buildings in the distance. A unsettlingly familiar feeling came over Fluttershy, as if she’d seen these buildings before.

“Um…where are we?” she asked, turning towards Zecora with a confused expression on her face.

“Ponyville is the name of this town, for kindness and honesty it is world renown.”

Ponyville?! Fluttershy thought. She hadn’t heard that name is years. A massive flood of memories of days spent running around on the playground with Firefly, making daisy chains with mother and general fillyhood games in her innocence flashed through her mind. Those, of course, were quickly overshadowed by an even larger flood of much darker memories.

Memories of being the subject of scorn from older fillies and utter humiliation. Memories of nights spent sobbing in bed plagued by nightmares of monsters and seemingly invincible bullies who would crush her underhoof.

“Oh…oh no…not here…” Fluttershy whimpered, backing away. “Anywhere but here…”

Zecora raised an eyebrow. “Whatever is the matter Swift Breeze? Why are you so ill at ease?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “I don’t want to go here, take my someplace else…I don’t like this place.” She started to stumble back into the briar, tripping over her own injured leg and falling in a heap.

Zecora rushed over and helped her back to her hooves, brushing away any thorns or briars that had caught in Fluttershy’s coat, mane and tail.

“My friend, what about this place gives you such fear? Why is it that you want to leave here?”

Fluttershy hung her head. “I grew up there. It’s a lot of bad memories. Please, tell me we can visit some other town?”

Zecora shook her head. “I’m sorry to say, but here you must stay. For your leg is injured, and you body weak, and I cannot provide enough to make that cease. Whatever pain you have experienced, you must know this: It is in the past, and that means it is no longer a risk.”

Fluttershy a stray tear from her eye. “But why here? Isn’t there any other town nearby?”

“No I’m sorry, there is not.” Zecora replied, her voice becoming calm and understanding. “For most ponies avoid this place, for it a fright to their race.” Zecora replied, motioning to the forest around them. “In fact, they have an aversion to me, for a witch they believe me to be. But to you I believe they will be kind. You are a pony and therefore one of their kind.”

Fluttershy looked back towards the town. “But…it’s been so long…”

“What is it that troubles you so? What is it that fills you with dread?” Zecora asked rather sternly. “To overcome fear, one cannot focus on long time ago. She must look forward and see what’s ahead.”

Fluttershy gulped. “Um...okay.” she pulled herself back up and started to limp towards the clearing, her leg now once more burning in pain. She glanced down at the injured limb. The bandage Zecora had applied was now tattered and torn, with various bits of plants stuck to it where some of the balm oozed out.

“My friend, remember this: If you are ever in need of a friend, come to my home and I will amend.” Zecora spoke, picking up her staff in her mouth and turning to walk back into the forest.

Fluttershy stopped in her tracks. Friend. Zecora considered her a friend. The relief of knowing that somepony actually cared for her, and wasn’t seeking to harm her lifted the heavy feeling off Fluttershy’s soul. She felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time: confidence. Confidence in the fact, that, at least she had one friend in the world. A shoulder to lean on, a shelter from the world and its woes. Someone who was an outcast as well, who knew how she felt and what she had gone through.

“Zecora…” Fluttershy called out towards the zebra, who was about to step into the underbrush.

“Yes Swift Breeze?”

“I’d just like to say thank you, for being so nice to me.” Fluttershy said, smiling faintly. Zecora smiled and nodded, and, not saying a word, disappeared into the forest, leaving Fluttershy to finish the walk into town alone.


Hoofcuff stomped into the tent she was staying in and started to levitate her things into her saddle bags, muttering a very colorful and vulgar stream of insults under her breath, all directed towards General Iron Will.

“Stupid bucking idiot! Gets me roped into this idiotic goose chase for what I’m told is a just a normal criminal and instead turns out to be a giant monster that smashes tanks! Great! Perfect! Just what I needed!”

She violently folded up her clothes and stuffed them inside the saddle bags, continuing her rant.

“I mean seriously Hoofcuff, why didn’t you guess that earlier?! I mean all this time you’ve been wondering how she could throw a four hundred pound griffin into a brick wall like he was a puppet?!” she angrily stuffed spare cases of ammunition into the saddle bag and violently tugged the flap closed, pinning it shut.

“And on top of that…” her rant was cut off by the distinct feeling of being watched. She spun around, horn charged and ready to strike down anybody who had snuck up on her. She was greeted by Snowflake, who, with an oddly smug grin on his otherwise grim face and eyebrow raised, was staring at her.

“What the buck do you want?” Hoofcuff spat, slowly coming down from her angry high. Snowflake stepped forward.

“I take it your leaving?” he asked, stepping into the tent and standing in the corner, his chest puffing out slightly.

Hoofcuff felt her anger return at the stupid question. Wasn’t it obvious she was leaving? Why would anybody stay on a mission sent to find what was basically a living atomic bomb?!

Yes! Of course I’m leaving!” she hissed, swinging the saddlebag over her back violently and stamping towards the exit of the tent. Snowflake stepped in front of her.

Hoofcuff let out an inarticulate snarl. “Snowflake, so help me get out of my way before I blast your brains in.”

Snowflake shook his head. “The General asked that you stay here.”

Hoofcuff pushed her way past the pegasus and shifted into a fuming canter. “Tell him to buck off because I’m out of here. I’m not military anyways, so he can’t boss me around.”

“Why?” Snowflake asked, flapping into the air behind her.

“Because I’m not keen on getting squished by a bug next time we run into that thing,” She spat back, “I’m going home. I’m tired, frustrated and honestly, I can think of three other cases I could be investigating. So leave me be.”

She heard Snowflake scoff. “Fine, be a bitch. I don’t care.”

Hoofcuff’s eye twitched involuntarily at the insult but she kept going. She wasn’t about to let some stupid jock solider get on her nerves. She had enough of those for these past few weeks.

“I guess that means that I capture it, though, I’ll take all the credit.” Snowflake sneered from above. “After all, I’m always the best.”

“Piss off!” Hoofcuff spat back, shooting off a bolt of magic towards the proud pegasus, who simply dodged it, and flapped off, a self-satisfied grin on his face.

Once he disappeared, Hoofcuff returned to her fuming.

“Stupid general bucking lied to me. Could have gotten Starlight or me KILLED just so he can catch a giant green freak pony! Stupid, stupid, stupid…”

She made her way out of the camp, ignoring the various funny looks other ponies where giving her as she continued to mutter and grumble to herself.

The number one thing that stuck in her craw was just the sheer deceptive nature of this whole mission had had from the beginning. If Iron Will had just been honest and told her what exactly they were after, she probably would not have been so angry.

And if there was anything in the whole world that got Hoofcuff angry faster then anything else, it was dishonest authority of any kind. Her father had been the only honest cop in Trottingham it seemed and it had certainly rubbed off on his daughter, giving her a strong distaste for dishonesty.

She reached the edge of the destroyed compound, looking for someway to get back to Canterlot and sane, logical ponies. She caught sight of a small airship readying itself for take off. She cantered over and called for the captain.

“Hey! Cap!” the captain of the airship, a grizzled unicorn with an eye patch and pet parrot perched on his shoulder turned towards her.

“Yes ma’am?”

“I’d like to know where this airship is heading.” Hoofcuff asked, motioning towards the airship behind them.

“We be headin’ fer Canterlot me bonnie lass. What business is it of yers?”

Hoofcuff rolled her eyes at the eccentric pony. “I want to hitch a ride. I’m an NEIGHS agent.” She flashed him her badge.

The captain eyed the badge with his good eye. “Aye that ye be. Seems legit.” He turned towards his parrot. “What do ya think Jimmy?”

The parot leaned in towards the badge and then eyed Hoofcuff suspiciously.

“BRAW! Jimmy okay with this!”

The captain smiled and laughed heartily. “Aye my friend!” he turned back towards Hoofcuff, who was feeling rather foolish by putting up with this weird pirate-like pony.

“Does this mean I can come or not?” she asked, her patience wearing thin.

The captain nodded. “Aye that be the living breathin’ truth missy! Come aboard The Minnow.”

“Yeah thanks whatever.” Hoofcuff grumbled, stepping past the captain and walking up the gangplank.

The captain followed afterwards, barking orders to his crew who darted across the deck and up the masts, busy at work.

The airship lifted gracefully into the air and its engine started up, sending it forward towards Canterlot.


Fluttershy quietly walked into town, her limp fading in and out as she walked. To be in an open, neatly cut field felt strange to her. She had spent most of her life running back and forth, always with the constant fear of being caught following her everywhere.

But, for the first in a while, she felt strangely at peace. The sun was up, the sky was a tremendously beautiful shade of blue without a single cloud to be seen, and, since she had left the Everfree behind her, the humidity from before had been replaced by a crisp, clear feeling in the air. The cloud of insects hadn’t followed her either, instead being replaced by an occasional butterfly, which would flitter past Fluttershy.

As she neared the town, the grass was steadily replaced by a relatively simple road, on which various ponies walked about, chattering amongst themselves. Fluttershy paused when she caught sight of a well-weathered signpost.

"Welcome to Ponyville
Home of Sweet Apple Acers
Population 20,000"

Fluttershy smiled wistfully. The town hadn’t really changed since she saw it last, which was more then twenty years ago. She scanned the town, her feelings of fear slowly being replaced with the distinct feeling of being someplace safe.

The various buildings from she remembered her childhood still stood around town. There was the candy colored Sugarcube Corner, where she remembered having milkshakes and soda back in the day.

As she walked through town, she decided to keep a low profile, just in case. Even though she wasn’t feeling particularly paranoid right now, her mind still told her to keep a sharp eye out for any suspicious behavior.

She felt a shot of fear go through her however, when she caught sight of a small poster stapled to a light post.

Fluttershy Braveheart, for various crimes
Against Equestria including, but not limited to:
Acts of Terror; Destruction of Government Property; and at least five counts of Murder

Fluttershy felt the smothering feeling of depression come over her soul. Even here, a seemingly innocent and placid town, her monstrous other managed to make itself known. The thing about the poster that hurt her the most however, was the number. Five.

Five ponies who would never see their families or loved ones again.

Five families who had to go on without them.

Five innocent lives, that probably hadn’t done a single wrong, where now snuffed out, cut off and terminated.

Fluttershy felt a tear run down her cheek. She felt frightened. Frightened that no matter where she went, she would cause somebody’s life to end in a horrible, violent manner.

She barely even noticed that her own picture was on the poster, in full glory, for everyone in town to see and be able to identify her. She looked around, an immense feeling of paranoia and fear sweeping over her. Strangely however, nobody seemed to notice her. They all went about their day, some in a hurry and some not.

Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy held back the oncoming panic attack.

“Relax Fluttershy, relax…calm down…just don’t do anything to attract attention to yourself…” she whispered to herself, eyeing the poster. Taking another breath, she tried her best to calm down. She quietly reached out for the poster and yanked it off the light pole, hoping that nobody had seen her do it. She quickly stuffed the paper into the saddle bag Zecora had given to her and started walking.

“Just keep moving Fluttershy. Find a motel, use a fake name, same as before…” she scanned the town, now searching for a place to stay overnight that would hopefully not ask too many questions. She walked by the flower shop, making sure to keep her head down and mane in front of her face, so that nobody would recognize her.

However, she lost track of where she was going, and bumped into a pastel red earth pony with a dark brown mane.

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Fluttershy instantly apologized, her own good manners getting the better of her paranoia.

“Oh, no I’m sorry!” the mare said, in a frighteningly familiar voice. Fluttershy’s ears came to attention at the sound of the voice.

The voice carried a strangely familiar tone, as if Fluttershy had heard it before, but she couldn’t remember where.

The mare turned and properly faced Fluttershy. At the sight of the mare’s face, however, Fluttershy’s eyes shrank to pinpricks.

“M-mother?!” she sputtered, instantly slamming her hoof over her mouth and turning away.

The mare’s own expression changed from apologetic to shock.

“F-Fluttershy?” the mare herself sputtered, tears welling up in her blue eyes. “Y-you’re alive?!”

At these words, Fluttershy promptly fainted straight away.

Act II - 10 - In Times of Trouble

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Ten:
"In Times of Trouble"

Snowflake sat in the waiting room, just outside a lab in the MagiTech headquarters in Canterlot. Having spent the last three months abroad, he was glad to be back in Equestria; a place where everypony spoke the same language and all the food was edible. After Hoofcuff’s unexpected departure, the General had taken Snowflake to Canterlot, where he would finally receive the thing he so deeply desired:

Pure, unbridled power and superiority.

His thoughts drifted from subject to subject as he waited, tapping his hoof impatiently. At the thought of how that grey mare had gotten all riled when she found out about Flutterhulk, he snickered.

Figures that mare couldn’t handle it. He thought. After all, this is a stallion’s world.

He let out a smug sigh and continued to scan the room, his impatience growing.

The door suddenly opened and a rather bookish mare leaned out the door and motioned towards Snowflake, “The doctor will see you now.”

Snowflake smiled and entered the lab, taking it in. It held an unexpectedly high amount of advanced technology, for such a relatively small room. They all hummed and beeped and went about pouring various liquids of colors into vials and moving the vials along, attaching labels to them and putting them in secure containers. The containers were then sealed shut and put into a neat stack on the counter.

A young looking unicorn stallion motioned towards Snowflake. He had a dark green coat, an auburn mane and tail that were both cut short. He was wearing a white lab coat and a pair of goggles rested on his forehead.

“Hello, hello,” he said in a nasally voice, beckoning for Snowflake to come over.

“Hello, I’m here for the injection,” Snowflake replied, motioning towards one of the half-dozen vials in one of the open containers.

The unicorn smiled ecstatically, giggling like a school girl. “Oh goody! Let us proceed!” he whipped out a syringe and filled it with a dark green liquid. “Here we go now!” he giggled as he lifted the syringe like a dagger and moved to inject Snowflake.

The next thing Snowflake felt was a sharp pain in his upper foreleg, then a strange tingling sensation. He turned to see the strange dark green liquid being injected into his foreleg.

“DONE!” the unicorn chimed, yanking the syringe out of Snowflake’s arm and dumping it into a biohazard box, all while whistling some kindergarten tune. Snowflake rubbed the spot where the needle had pierced his skin.

“That’s it?” he asked, slightly confused at the sheer simplicity of it all. He honestly had thought they’d strap him down to a table or something and run a bunch of electricity or magic through him while a bunch of mad scientists cackled maniacally.

The unicorn nodded. “Of course, it’s a very minor procedure. It should take at least two days for you to start to feel the effects, but I assure you, they will be noticeable,” he patted Snowflake on the back. “You can go now.”

Snowflake nodded and trotted out of the doctor’s lab, a distinct feeling of being ripped off lurking in his mind.

“This had better be worth it…” he muttered under his breath.


Hoofcuff walked down the gangplank, a grim look on her face. The airship ride to Canterlot had been detoured due to a need for repairs. Apparently, making sure his airship was in proper working condition had completely slipped the captain's mind, and the engine had given out, forcing them to dock in this backwater town for repairs.

Hoofcuff had already made her frustration known to the captain, in a rather long and quite colorful rant. She was THIS close to getting home and being back among logical ponies, and go back to chasing proper fugitives, ponies like bank robbers and murderers, not some shy pegasus that apparently could turn into some giant green rage monster at a moment’s notice. No thanks, she thought, I'll take any serial killer over a monster that'll squash me like a bug any day of the week.

She reached the bottom of the gangplank and looked around, taking in the humble town. A small sign identified the town as ‘Ponyville’.

Hoofcuff grumbled and made her way towards the center of town, at least taking a chance to stretch her legs for a bit. Her stormy disposition faded, however, as she quickly began to appreciate the quietness of the town. It was such an extreme contrast to how big cities like Manehatten or Canterlot felt, what with at least a dozen ponies constantly harassing you at any given moment. Here, everybody went about their business happily, chattering with each other and even going out of their way to wish Hoofcuff a good morning as she passed by.

Hoofcuff eventually settled down at a local café, sitting down to sort through the past few weeks and where she should go from here. She lazily scanned the area around the café when her eyes caught sight of a very, very familiar face on a wanted poster stuck to a light pole across from her.

It was Fluttershy.

Any semblance of a good mood Hoofcuff might have developed was quickly washed away by the image of the pegasus’ face. It seemed as if the entire universe was rubbing Fluttershy in Hoofcuff's face, constantly reminding her of the one pony she had been tasked to track down that had gotten away. And not only that, but it also served as a reminder of the fact Hoofcuff didn't even have the gumption to go after the accursed mare and properly bring her in.

Nope, just the opposite. What had Hoofcuff done? She ran the other way, away from her target. It stuck in her craw. She had faced much worse hadn't she? She had gone up against and captured the absolute worst monsters, freaks and weirdos that Equestria had to offer, and what had gotten her to turn tail and run? A little wimpy pegasus. It drove Hoofcuff insane. A part of her berated her for not finishing the job, being a mature adult and get over herself. She'd been scared before, why was this one different? Why did it have to be THIS mission where she finally lost her nerve?

She let out a frustrated groan and pounded her head on the table in frustration.

“Hey you okay there?” a female voice asked.

Hoofcuff looked up the source of the voice, which was a mint green unicorn with a quizzical look on her face. Hoofcuff's eyes narrowed.

“Bug off will you?” she grumbled, giving the unicorn a dirty look.

The unicorn shrugged. “Fine suit yourself,” and with that the unicorn trotted away, humming to herself.

Hoofcuff's thoughts returned to Fluttershy and her own failure. Is it because I'm getting older? She thought. She quickly shook her head. Nonsense Hoofcuff, you're only thirty-five. That's not old. Not at all.

She let out another frustrated groan. Then why do I feel like a total plothole? She wondered, rubbing her temples in frustration. Ugh, my life SUCKS. She thought. Her eyes once more started drifting around, searching for something to distract her from her moral quandary. She caught sight of a sign advertising the café’s various flavors of coffee. That’s it, I need some coffee.

She pulled her head up from the table and motioned towards a nearby waiter. “Waiter, waiter!” the waiter, a rather snooty looking earth pony with a slicked back mane and mustache, trotted over.

“Yes, ma'am?” the waiter asked. “What is it I may do for you?”

“Can I have some coffee? Black, no sugar,” Hoofcuff asked, looking back out at the town passing by.

“Oui madame,” the waiter replied, turning away and trotting into the cafe. Hoofcuff waited, twiddling her thumbs out of boredom.

She jumped slightly when she heard the sound of her cell phone ringing. “Wait, what?” she muttered as she fished through her ever present windbreaker for the phone. She found it, tucked in her pocket. She answered it.

“Hello, this is Hoofcuff. Speaking?” she asked.

“Why hello Agent,” the familiar voice of the General replied from the other side. “I have some news you might find interesting.”

Hoofcuff rolled her eyes, and rubbed her forehead in frustration. “How the hay did you get this number?”

“Well I make a point of finding out ways to contact anypony I might be working with in case I need to contact them with important information. Such as now.”

“And what would that be?” Hoofcuff grumbled.

“Well, for one thing, I completely sympathize with the reasons for your departure from the mission. After all, you certainly weren’t expecting such a…stunning sight now where you?”

“No…no I wasn’t.” Hoofcuff grumbled in response. “And I wouldn’t exactly call that ‘stunning’. ‘Weapon of mass destruction’ might be a better term.”

“Yes, yes it would be. Which is exactly why I believe that you probably feel quite guilty that you’ve abandoned your post…as it were…”

Hoofcuff’s eyes nearly exploded out her skull at the general’s words. How dare that stuck up jarhead accuse her of such a thing? She left for moral reasons, NOT cowardice.

“Listen here you,” Hoofcuff spat into the phone. “Lets get one very important fact straight right now: I'm no coward. Okay? Got that? I left because I personally feel that you were dishonest with me and put me and my assistant's lives at risk without properly filling me in on, what I would assume, are some pretty important pieces of information! If you had just been honest with me from the very beginning of this 'mission' I probably wouldn't reacted as I did. Got it?!”

She paused, ignoring the fact that the waiter had brought her her coffee, instead awaiting the response from the general on the other side. The response came in the form of a dark chuckle.

“Agent Hoofcuff, you know exactly why I couldn't just tell you that...information right at the beginning. You simply wouldn't have believed me.”

Hoofcuff gritted her teeth together in anger. “Well you could have at least given it a shot!” she spat back. She could hear the general sigh on the other side, almost as if he were tired of her.

“Agent Hoofcuff, are you quite finished? Because if you are, I have a proposition for you,” he spoke, seeming very calm and collected, in spite of the browbeating he had just received from the grey mare.

Probably wants me to find the lost city of the Seaponies or something... She thought, but didn't voice her thoughts, instead opting to hear what the general had to say, mainly so she could come up with a well worded way for her to tell him to buck off.

“Ugh, what?” she finally grumbled, rubbing her forehead. All this frustration and gripping had given her a headache.

“Agent Hoofcuff, my request is this: come back, and finish the job. You know what you're up against and the full scope of what’s at stake. Are you seriously telling me that you will willingly let a pony that is best described as a living weapon of mass destruction simply walk away, free to do whatever she pleases, even if that means the destruction of the country we both hold so dear to our hearts? All for something as frivolous and subjective as 'honesty'?” she could hear the sound of him shifting in his chair. “Because, from my point of view, I believe I was rather honest. What I said was true...from a certain point of view.”

Hoofcuff's first impulse was to scream into the phone a very, VERY colorful line of expletives and ream him on the nature of honesty. However, before she had a chance to come up with any such insults, she was cut off by the general.

“And before you think of making a witty retort, Agent Hoofcuff, I must inform you that if you say no to this proposition, I will make one phone call to your superiors, and inform them that you abandoned a mission, and therefore the search for one of Equestria's Most Wanted, all for what would appear to be quite selfish reasons.”

That stopped Hoofcuff cold. She held herself back for a moment, processing what the General had just said. If she said no, not only would he tell her superiors, but would most certainly make sure that she got fired, most likely in the most humiliating way possible. Hoofcuff felt all her bravado and ego drain away from her.

“However, if you say yes, and come back and help us complete this endeavor, I’ll make sure that none of this sees the light of day, and I’ll put a good word in for you. Take your pick.”

Suddenly the prospect of returning to the job and capturing Fluttershy seemed a very wonderful and charming thing. Hoofcuff looked across the café and back at the wanted poster, her eyes narrowing in determination. A part of her screamed that this wasn’t just and would only end badly for all involved, but another, much more persuasive part of her was telling her to accept the challenge. It was her ego.

“Ugh…fine. I’ll go along with your little wild goose chase. As soon as you get back your little pink maned freak, I’m out okay? No more of this running around, looking over and under hill for her,” she responded, doing her best to remain a calm and collected veneer. “Do we have an agreement?”

There was a pause on the other end, before the General spoke again.

“Yes…of course we do.”


Fluttershy slowly opened her eyes. The last thing she remembered was bumping into her mother at the Ponyville market and then fainting. The first thing she noticed was that she was in someone’s house, bundled up rather nicely in a warm comforter.

What in Equestria happened? What am I doing here?

She slowly looked around the room. She was lying on someone’s bed, in what was apparently the bed room. All along the light pink walls ran various rather simple, yet elegant paintings of flowers and plants. The warm smell of something that had obviously just finished baking and the sound of soothing classical music playing gave Fluttershy a strange feeling of being at home here, wherever it was. Almost as if she’d been here before.

She slowly sat herself up and gently climbed off the bed, walking into the living room, familiarizing herself with it. In the corner sat a rather modest television, perched on a small desk. Along the walls were more paintings of flowers and plants and here were several bookcases filled with books of various sizes, all neatly lined up. There was also a small upright piano tucked into a corner opposite from the television, and it looked rather well used. Perched on the piano was a rather old looking, but well preserved radio; the source of the soothing classical music she had heard. Sunlight poured in through the windows, which overlooked a small, modest looking backyard with a tree in the middle, where Fluttershy could see various birds and squirrels scampering about.

“Um…hello?” she quietly called out, walking as quietly as possible out of the living room and into the kitchen, towards the smell of whatever it was that had been baked. She tilted her head slightly in confusion at the sight that greeted her once she entered the kitchen. The kitchen was an equally humble affair, consisting of a small table, upon which was a small platter, were several dozen chocolate chip cookies sat, apparently fresh out of the oven. There was a small stove top oven tucked in a corner, and in the other corner, was a washing machine, which was quietly running. The refrigerator sat tucked next to the dishwasher.

Fluttershy’s eyes drifted to the kitchen table and the cookies that sat on it, she noticed that alongside the cookies, sat a small note. She quietly walked over picked up the note to read it.

“Dearest Fluttershy,

I hope you slept well and are properly rested.

I baked these cookies for you. I know they’re your favorite. Help yourself.

If you wish to speak with me, I’ll be in the garden painting the flowers.

Your loving mother, Tree Flower.”

Fluttershy smiled, a warm feeling filling her heart. She slowly reached over and picked up one of the cookies. She took a small bite, savoring the wonderfully sweet and warm taste. The flavor of the cookies brought back a flood of memories to her. Memories of her mother gently comforting her after another torturous day of school, always with gentle loving hugs and these wonderful cookies.

Of course, those memories soon darkened with the cloud of the other side of her personality. Especially that black day in October. How could her mother possibly forgive her after what she done? New Fluttershy had taken away the pony most important to her mother, and had left her alone, weeping over his battered body.

An overwhelming feeling of guilt overcame Fluttershy, and she started to hyperventilate.

What if she secretly still hates me? What if she’s towards the door right now and this is all a trick? She turned pale and darted out of the kitchen, paranoia gripping her mind, I’ve gotta get out of here…

She quickly scampered towards the front door, hoping that her mother hadn’t heard her.

Her paranoid train of thought was interrupted by her mother’s melodic voice calling from behind her.

“Fluttershy? Where are you going?”

Fluttershy froze, hoof on the door handle. “Um…” she stuttered. “I-I just feel t-that I s-should go.”

“But why? Why would you want to leave?” her mother asked, a strange sadness evident in her voice.

Fluttershy swallowed. “I’m sorry mother, I just can’t stay here…I don’t want her to hurt you.”

“Whatever are you talking about?” her mother said, slowly walking towards her. She had on a light blue apron that was covered in paint splatters.

Fluttershy sobbed. “Mother, you know exactly what I’m talking about. She’s dangerous, all she does is cause destruction and pain….and I don’t want any more of that to happen to you.”

Tree Flower put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “Dear…is this about your father?”

Fluttershy moved away, the mention of her father making her bristle. One half of her still felt betrayed by the one pony she had trusted and loved so dearly, who had always told her that she was his little angel. But then she found out the truth. That she wasn’t good enough. But, the other half of her felt a totally different emotion: Sorrow.

Sorrow that, in her own selfishness, she had let out some horrible monstrous side of her explode into the world and utterly destroy everything she had held dear. The gruesome memory of her father’s battered and bloodied body laying on the floor, with her mother clutching it, mourning him flashed through her mind. Her emotions overwhelmed her and she fell to her knees, sobbing. “Mother I’m so sorry…” she wept, pulling Tree Flower into a tight hug. “I-I’m so sorry! Sorry for everything...” she continued to weep, more than twenty years of held back pain and suffering exploding forth in one extreme wave of emotion.

Tree Flower gently rocked her back and forth, shushing her. “It’s okay…it’s okay…it wasn’t your fault.”

“But it was!” Fluttershy cried out, “If I hadn’t let New Fluttershy out, none of that would have happened!” She tightened her hug around her mother, burying herself into the other pony’s chest.

Tree Flower gently pulled out of the hug, and put a hoof on Fluttershy’s chin, making Fluttershy look her in the eyes. “Fluttershy,” she said, her voice placid and calm. “It’s not your fault. You didn’t do it on purpose. It was purely an accident, nothing more. Your father loved you, and I still love you. Nothing you could ever do would stop me from loving you with all my heart. You’re my daughter,” She wiped a stray tear from Fluttershy’s face.

“B-but f-father said I w-was a failure…t-that I n-needed to be fixed, like I was broken or something…” Fluttershy sniffed, tears streaming down her face.

Tree Flower let out a heavy sigh, “Fluttershy, listen,” she paused, seemingly gathering her thoughts. “When your father said that, he was angry and frustrated at himself. Do you know why he said those things?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “N-no…”

Tree Flower unexpectedly stood up. “Follow me and I’ll show you,” she beckoned towards the living room. Fluttershy, still crying, stood up and followed her mother into the living room. They both sat on the couch, as her mother tinkered with the television.

“You’re father left you this, he made it right before he died…” her mother said as she put a rather old looking video tape into the rather battered and bedraggled looking tape player.

She then switched the television on and it revealed a very pale and sickly looking Banner Wing sitting in a hospital bed, with dozens of IVs and life-support systems wired into him, his body aglow with healing magic, his breath wheezed, and breathing obviously taking its toll on his body.

“Hello Fluttershy,” he said, taking a shallow breath. “I hope that when you see this, things are going better than they are now.”

He chuckled slightly, his laughter descending into a coughing fit, his whole body heaving and shaking with each cough. Fluttershy felt a stab of guilt go through her heart at the sight. It was her fault he was like this. Eventually, however, his coughing subsided and he looked back into the camera.

“Sorry about that. Anyways, I’m making this message in case I don’t make it. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. Sorry that I didn’t tell you about my tests, I really should have. That was foolish of me. I’m so sorry,” He coughed again.

“Even though it might not look that way, I did this because I love you. I couldn’t live to see you bullied and mocked at school, other fillies and colts poking fun at your tiny wings, or your gimpy legs. Sadly, I started to think that those where defects too. What I didn’t realize, however, is that those aren’t defects, they’re gifts. They make you what you are,” tears started flowing from his eyes. “I regret that I acted so rash and foolishly. But, even with those mistakes, and there are many, you must remember that I will still love you, no matter what happens. Nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you. Just remember that. I love you.”

And, with those words, the tape went blank. Fluttershy stared at the screen, her own emotions now confused and clashing.

“See?” her mother said, sitting next to her. “That was his last message to you. He loved you, Fluttershy, and he always hoped that one day, one day you’d return and we’d be together again…as a family…” she paused, tears welling up in her eyes. “And now you’re home…” she unexpectedly pulled Fluttershy into an incredibly tight hug, and started to cry into Fluttershy’s shoulder. “And we’re a family again…”

Fluttershy herself returned the hug, and the two mares sat together, quietly crying, healing the wounds those twenty years of separation had made between the two.

And, deep in Fluttershy’s soul, she felt at home and, most importantly, she felt at peace.

Act II - 11 - Your Possible Pasts

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Eleven:
"Your Possible Pasts"

“Ouch!” Fluttershy winced as a sharp pain shot up her leg.

She sat at the kitchen table, while Tree Flower quietly went about changing the old beat up bandage on Fluttershy’s injured leg.

“Dear Celestia, Fluttershy, what happened to you?” her mother asked, tossing the old gooey bandage in a plastic garbage bag. “You look like something bit you or something.”

Fluttershy bit her lip, still unsure if she should tell her mother about the Timberwolf attack. “Um…well…I…um…fell while running,” she lied, hoping her mother would buy it. “Into some thorns.”

“Thorns? Where?” Tree Flower asked, looking up at Fluttershy, worry in her eyes. “I need to know just in case it gets infected.”

Fluttershy hid behind her mane compulsively. “It’s okay, mother, really. I had someone already look at it, I’ll be fine.”

Tree Flower looked somewhat unconvinced. “That would explain this,” she motioned towards the remains of the bandage and the leftover blobs of goo that Zecora had swathed on Fluttershy’s leg. “But I still want to know…” she paused, looking up and into Fluttershy’s eyes.

Fluttershy was silent for a moment. Ever since she saw the old tape her father had made that morning, she had spent her time quietly thinking and talking with her mother, the conversation usually concerning what had happened in Ponyville in the intervening twenty years, with Tree Flower occasionally asking where Fluttershy had been.

Fluttershy was vague when asked exactly what happened during her time away, usually resorting to an answer along the lines of, “I’d rather not talk about it,” or, “I don’t remember”. Usually, whenever Fluttershy would say that, her mother would nod and quietly move onto a less sensitive topic, usually back to daily life in Ponyville.

But this time, there was a determination in Tree Flower’s eyes. Her dark green eyes looked as if they were staring into Fluttershy’s soul. However, mixed in with the determination was another emotion. Sadness. This mare had spent twenty years convinced that her daughter was dead, and now, here she was, sitting at her kitchen table with an injured leg.

Fluttershy bit her lip, her eyes quickly looking away as her own guilty feelings overtook her.

Come on Fluttershy. She thought. You could have at least sent her a letter saying you were alright. But what did you do? Nothing. She glanced back at Tree Flower, who was still looking up at her with the same expression. Fluttershy’s conscious continued to berate her.

And now here she is, having totally forgiven you and you still want to lie to her. You were honest with Zecora. You didn’t even know that zebra, and yet you were still more honest then you are with your own mother. Just come clean.

Fluttershy hesitated. But what about New Fluttershy? She thought, as if her conscious were another pony she was having a conversation with.

Tell her about that too. No use hiding it. Better that she know now then wait until New Fluttershy comes out to play. Her conscious replied.

As Fluttershy continued her internal debate, Tree Flower let out a long sigh and returned to treating Fluttershy’s leg, “I understand dear that you don’t want to talk about it. It must have been a painful experience,” Her voice sounded sad and heavy, but also carried no trace of anger or resentment. Just painfully sad disappointment.

The pain evident in her mother’s voice was the final nail in the coffin for Fluttershy. She couldn’t take it anymore, to see her mother sad and in pain. Taking a deep breath, she finally spoke up, “M-mother…I haven’t completely honest with you…”

Tree Flower looked up from the wound, concern in her eyes, “How so dear?”

“Um…well…remember how you asked me how I got the injury?” Fluttershy asked, mentally trying to picture her mother’s reaction once she told the full truth.

“Yes,” Tree Flower nodded, curious.

Fluttershy shifted slightly in her seat, “And I said that I got caught in some thorns?”

Tree Flower simply nodded, saying nothing.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Fluttershy said, as took one last breath, bracing herself. Now or never.

Tree Flower put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder and leaned in close, looking Fluttershy in the eyes.

“Fluttershy, you don’t need to be scared. You can tell me the truth.”

Fluttershy smiled a little, taking comfort in her mother’s confidence in her.

“Do you want to know all of it?” Fluttershy asked, peering out from under her mane at her mother.

Her mother smiled gently, “I would like to, yes. But it’s your choice.”

Fluttershy nodded, “Okay then…here I go…”

And with that, she began.


Fluttershy had no memory of what had happened during her blackout. The only memories she had was the feeling pure rage that she felt immediately before and the horrible sight that greeted her once her rage faded.

Her mother was in the corner of the kitchen, rocking her husband’s battered and bloodied body back and forth, her cries of anguish filling the room.

Fluttershy felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt. It didn't take more than a few seconds to figure out what had happened. It was quite simple.

She had lost control again. The horrifying memory of Dark Sky's bloody body and her blood stained hooves flashed through her mind. She slowly looked down at her hooves.

They were caked in blood.

The next thing Fluttershy knew, she had let out a scream and was running as fast as possible. She could hear her mother calling for her to come back, but she ignored the cries.

She was nothing more than a monster.


Fluttershy kept running. She ran for what felt like an eternity until her legs gave out, her energy utterly spent.

She ended up in Canterlot Park, shivering in the chilly autumn rain and huddled under a random park bench.

She didn’t know where else to go. She was a monster. Her father was probably dead, and by her own hooves no less. Trembling in fear and confusion, her eyes drifted down to her hooves.

The blood on them was now smeared and dry, and a disgusting shade of brown. Bits of wood, pebbles and garbage clung to them, having stuck on during her run from the house. She started to rub them together vigorously, desperately attempting to rub away the coating. The dripping rain helped a little, and the blood started to wash away, slowly and steadily until they were seemingly clean. Fluttershy let out a shuddering sigh as she finally saw the yellow color of her hooves again. Even with the blood gone she could still see that they were covered in dozens of small scrapes. She let out a sob as the full weight of what happened fell down on her.

She had released the monster that was hiding inside of her, and it singlehandedly had completely destroyed everything she held dear in her life. She was a monster. Nothing more than a failed science experiment. With this realization, the dam broke and she started to sob uncontrollably. As she cried, she started to gently rock herself back and forth, pulling her arms around herself in an attempt to comfort herself, her own tears mixing in with the rainwater pouring down from above.

“Excuse dear, but are you alright?”

Fluttershy froze, looking for the source of the gentle voice. Her eyes landed on a gentle looking yellow earth pony with a light pink mane. She was dressed in a sea green raincoat that protected her from the rain. The pony looked almost exactly like Fluttershy, except she seemed to be about the age of her mother.

“G-get a-away from me,” Fluttershy whimpered, attempting to scoot away from the Earth Pony. The earth pony gave her a quizzical look.

“Why what’s wrong filly? You lost?” the pony leaned down to her knees, peering under the bench.

“I’m a monster…get away from me!” Fluttershy sobbed, backing away a little more, waving the pony away.

The pony’s eyes instantly focused on Fluttershy’s injured hooves.

“Oh dear Celestia you’re hurt!” she reached towards Fluttershy, worry in her voice.

Fluttershy tried to back away again, but the mare beckoned towards her.

“Look, I know you’re scared, but I promise not to hurt you. Please, let me help you,” She said, her voice kind and gentle as she reached into her saddle bag and opened an umbrella, shielding the two of them from the rain.

Fluttershy looked into the mare’s eyes. They were an almost identical shade of blue as hers. They showed a kindness Fluttershy had only ever seen in her parents. Why was this pony trying to help her? Couldn’t she see the blood? Couldn’t she realize she was a monster?

“Please….let me help you…” the pony said, gently touching Fluttershy’s right hoof.

Fluttershy looked down at the hoof, and then at the pony attached to it. She exuded a kind and gentle aura. This total stranger had taken it upon herself to talk to her, to actually care what was happening to her. She was the first pony asides from Fluttershy’s mother and father who had shown any kindness to her since Firefly. Fluttershy finally relented and gripped the yellow pony’s hoof, and allowed her to gently lead out from under the bench.

The pony looked over Fluttershy’s arms and hooves, whispering words of comfort to her.

“Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,” she turned and fished a handkerchief out of her saddle bags and began to wipe the blood off of Fluttershy's cuts as best she could. “What happened? Did you fall?”

Fluttershy simply sniffled, her tears slowly and steadily running dry.

The pony looked up from Fluttershy’s arms and looked at Fluttershy, “What’s your name?”

“F-fluttershy.” Fluttershy whispered.

“That’s a beautiful name,” the mare said, as she started to wipe Fluttershy's hooves dry with a cloth from her saddle bag. “My name is Posey. Do you have a home Fluttershy?” the pony known as Posey asked.

Fluttershy didn’t answer at first. How could she go back home? She couldn’t. Her mother would never take her back after what she had done. She slowly shook her head.

“N-no, no I don’t.”

Posey suddenly stopped wiping Fluttershy’s hooves and looked at Fluttershy again, “You don’t have a home?”

Fluttershy shook her head again, “No.”

Posey unexpectedly pulled Fluttershy into a hug, “That’s terrible.” She pulled back and gave Fluttershy a questioning look, “Do you want to stay with me?”

Fluttershy was taken aback by Posey’s sudden request. This mare suddenly wanted her to live with her? Fluttershy was suddenly greeted by the horrible mental image of this seemingly saintly pony getting hurt or worse if Fluttershy ever lost control again. Just like her father. She couldn't take that risk. She backed away a little.

"N-no...I m-might hurt you," Fluttershy stuttered fearfully.

"Oh, nonsense. I couldn't believe that a little filly like you would have it in you to hurt anypony," Posey countered, seemingly slightly amused at the filly's concern.

"B-but, I d-do," Fluttershy sob, trying to make herself clear. "I'm a m-monster...p-please...leave me alone..." she whimpered, retreating back under the bench.

Posey shook her head. "And leave you alone out here? Nonesense."

Fluttershy looked into the mare’s eyes. Even after being warned of the danger this stranger still wanted to offer her a place to sleep. Even if it was only temporary. Fluttershy felt a strange mix of emotions.

She felt fear, that maybe this mare was just a really good liar and secretly had evil intent for her.

She felt confusion. This mare didn’t even know her. Why was she being so nice?

She felt afraid. She felt afraid of everything. Afraid of the city around her, and the mean ponies that probably were waiting for an easy target such as her. Afraid of herself, that she might suddenly explode like a bomb and hurt this pony.

But most importantly, she felt alone. Alone in this cold, dark world. And here was a chance, no matter how temporary it might be, to have somewhere safe for her to sleep, to have food, and most importantly, to have a friend. She also feared what might happen if she were to stay out in the park. What would happen if some sort of criminal found her? Her yearning for companionship and safety won her over and she slowly nodded.

"O-okay," she whispered, causing Posey to smile softly. "B-but you have to p-promise that you'll r-run if I ever start to get angry," Fluttershy said solemnly. “You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

She then felt Posey take her by the hoof. The earth pony was smiling, “Deal. Now let's get you inside.” And with that, Fluttershy willingly let herself be lead out of the park.


Several years passed. What had originally been just a temporary place to stay had quickly become a home to Fluttershy.

As it turned out, Posey’s husband had recently died, leaving her alone in the world as well. She apparently never had children of her own, simply saying that, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

They lived a quiet life in Canterlot for most of those years, eventually moving to the town of Manehattan, where Posey worked as a volunteer at a local foster home. Instead of normal school, Fluttershy was educated at home, with Posey being her teacher, as Fluttershy was simply too fearful to leave the house without her. Slowly and steadily, however, Fluttershy gained confidence, slowly and steadily coming out of her shell. She was still naturally shy, but no longer the quivering fearful mare from before.

At least that’s how it looked on the outside. On the inside, Fluttershy was the exact opposite.

She was angry.

Over the years, the memories of her father’s mistake only managed to make Fluttershy angrier and angrier. He had abandoned her in her hour of need. Left her utterly alone in the world to fend for herself. If it hadn’t been for Posey, Fluttershy might have ended up dead behind some dumpster or worse. She kept it bottled inside, where it festered, mixing in with another emotion.

Fear. She feared that at any moment, she would lose her self-control and hurt an innocent pony. Be it Posey or any other pony.

So the two emotions fought for dominance, with neither winning a decisive victory until one fateful day.


The Day had been just like any other, with Fluttershy quietly walking down the halls of Manehattan University. She made her way out of the classroom. Professor Do’s archeology class was the last class of the day, and Fluttershy honestly couldn’t wait until she got home. It had been a long and exhausting day. Most of it spent avoiding attention as much as possible.

All of a sudden, a brown hoof appeared on her shoulder.

“Gah!” Fluttershy squeaked, jumping in the air and turning to see where her assailant might be. As it turned out, the hoof was attached to a familiar face.

“Miss Fluttershy, you forgot this,” a brown pegasus with a monochrome mane said, handing her a saddlebag.

Fluttershy let out a sigh of relief, taking the saddle bag from the pegasus, “Th-thank you Professor Do.”

Professor Do nodded, a small smile on her face, “Sure thing Fluttershy. Least I could do.” And with that, the brown pegasus turned and headed back to the class room behind her as Fluttershy left.

She trotted across the campus, making a point of avoiding the various clutches and cliques that populated the grounds. The sun was finally setting and the sky was now a brilliant orange. She made her way to the exit, saying goodbye to the guard and started down the street.

The path she usually took home would always lead her pass Manehattan Park, where she would often stop and take pause, quietly observing the animals and enjoying the peaceful nature the park took on at dusk. She knew not to stay there long though. The park was notoriously dangerous at night, with criminals lurking in the shadows ready to pounce upon any innocent ponies they might find inside.

She took a deep breath, shuddering at the prospect of being mugged...or worse. She blinked rapidly in order to clear her mind.

Calm down Fluttershy...just keep walking and everything will be okay. Nopony's going to mug you. She thought, quickening her pace to distance herself from the park.

Eventually, she had entered the neighborhood where she and Posey lived.

It wasn't exactly the poorest neighborhood in Manehattan by any means, but it wasn't exactly the most well to do either. Neither of them complained, quite content to live here. It was an average looking neighborhood, with brownstone apartments. There was a cold October breeze in the air, scattering the leaves across the streets. Oddly, the streets were mostly devoid of activity, giving the neighborhood a strangely desolate air.

It made Fluttershy feel all the more uneasy. Something felt wrong. She couldn't quite peg what it was, though. She quickened her hoofsteps again, worry overtaking her.

There was a sudden loud noise and she froze. Panicked, Fluttershy looked for the source of the noise. A skinny dog scampered by, having knocked over a nearby garbage can.

Fluttershy relaxed a little at the sight. Loosening up, she finally reached the street where her apartment was, and she started to quietly whistle to herself, if only to distract herself from the unsettling air.

She was about to unlock the apartment door when a barely audible sound caught her ear. It sounded like a dog whimpering. She paused, not sure if it was just a trick of the ear or the wind. She heard the whimpering sound again, this time mixed in with another sound.


Against her own better judgment, Fluttershy found herself following the sound, walking around her apartment and through the dirty alleyway. The sounds grew louder and louder until Fluttershy ended up behind her apartment.

Her eyes widened in horror at the sight before her.

Backed up against a wall, and surrounded by three thuggish earth ponies, was a small three legged dog that Fluttershy had seen around the neighborhood. The ponies were all abusing the poor animals in various ways, either by kicking it or hitting it with their hooves. They all laughed maliciously with each successive kick.

Fluttershy felt an incredible rage start to build up inside her. The idea that those three savages would dare attack a help creature like that was the single most revolting sight in the universe.

“What are you doing to that poor animal!” Fluttershy found herself shouting, her voice unexpectedly enraged. One of the colts turned to look at her as if she had offended him in someway.

“What the buck do you want filly?” he spat, raising an eyebrow.

Fluttershy instantly cowered, taking a step back and hiding her mane. The dog whimpered again, attempting to make an escape. However, one of the colts pinned him down with its hoof, causing the animal to cry out in pain.

“I-I said, 'what are you doing to that poor dog?'” Fluttershy said, building up what little confidence she had. Something inside her felt compelled to help the poor creature, since it seemed nopony else would.

The colt snorted, “Filly get outta here. Its none of your business. Now go home to your mommy.” He then turned back to the stray and once more kicked it, a sadistic grin on his face.

The next thing Fluttershy knew, she was galloping to the animal's side, forgetting the fact that the three colts were present. She took the injured animal's head in her hooves and gently petted it. “Its okay, it'll be okay...” she whispered to it, gently rocking it back and forth.

All of a sudden, a hoof grabbed her shoulder and flung her to the ground.

“Stupid mare! Get outta here while we're still in a good mood.”

“Good mood? How can hurting an innocent, helpless animal put you in a good mood you monster?!” Fluttershy shouted back, years of pent up anger suddenly welling up, herself unable to fathom such a barbarous and sadistic action.

The colt simply shoved her way roughly, causing her to hit a nearby wall and he turned back to the dog, ready to abuse it some more.

Something inside Fluttershy snapped, and ten years of pent up rage and anger exploded forth, her eyes turning a bright shade of green. Letting out a monstrous roar, she lunged forward, her coat morphing to a dark shade of green as she impacted into the three colts, sending them sprawling.

FLUTTERHULK SMASH MEAN PONIES!!!” She roared, now at least five times her original size. She began to bludgeon the three colts viciously with her hooves, causing the street below them to buckle and crack. As her rage exploded forth, everything nearby became a target.

Her hoof slammed into the nearby apartment wall, causing some of it to collapse down on her. The sudden feeling of concrete and brick impacting her body only managed to make her even angrier. She attacked the building, bucking the building violently.

Letting out a monstrous and deafening roar, Flutterhulk slammed into the ground one last time and galloped out of the alleyway.


“…and since then I’ve been moving from place to place, just trying to avoid attention.” Fluttershy sighed sadly, finishing her story. She looked down at her hooves, her years of wandering had made them chipped and worn. Her hooves had taken so many lives, caused so much pain. She knew her mother had said she was forgiven, but a part deep inside of her still doubted whether the forgiveness was genuine. Now that her mother knew all this information, about Posey and such, could she still treat her as a daughter, even though Fluttershy had abandoned her in her hour of need?

“Did Posey ever know?” Tree Flower suddenly spoke, not looking at Fluttershy, her focus instead directed to the table top.

“Did Posey ever know what?” Fluttershy asked, confused at her mother’s question.

Tree Flower sighed, idly tinkering with the table cloth, “Did she ever know what happened to you after you…left?”

Fluttershy slowly shook her head, guilt welling up inside her again. “I never contacted her after that. I just woke up in the middle of a field, no memories of the night before,” Fluttershy sniffed. “Only found out about it through newspapers.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheeks.

Tree Flower continued to tinker with the table cloth. “That’s how I found out too,” She finally spoke after a long pause.

“Wh-what do you mean that you knew? You knew about…about New Fluttershy?” Fluttershy asked in shock.

Tree Flower nodded. “Yeah. It came on the news one day, ‘giant monster destroys city street.’ I just didn’t know it was you this whole time. I always thought it was some kind of dragon or something…” she chuckled slightly. “In hindsight, I should have known it was you.” Tree Flower wiped away some of her tears, which had been streaming down her face. “And you know what’s strange?”

Fluttershy shook her head slowly, “No, no I don’t, Mother…”

Tree Flower, looked into Fluttershy’s eyes, “I don’t hate you for it. Not at all. Quite the opposite, I feel sorry for you.”

Fluttershy shifted in her seat again, mixed in with her own feelings of sadness, she felt strangely relieved. Her mother still accepted her, even knowing every horrible detail about what she had done and who she had harmed. Even when she had told Zecora about her anger issues, she still felt that strange burdensome feeling.

“You feel sorry for me?” Fluttershy asked, looking her mother in the eye for the first time.

Tree Flower nodded slowly, “To have all that anger...and pain. To be unable to express it without hurting somepony. How do you cope?” She looked back at Fluttershy.

Fluttershy shrugged weakly. She wasn't quite sure herself. She had tried everything at one time or another. She had tried meditation, medication, and in a particularly dark point in her life, a gun to her own head. Each time, they didn’t change a thing.

“I-I don't know, Mother...” she whispered in response.

There was another long pause between the two, broken only by the sound of the ticking clock on the wall. Fluttershy shot a quick glance down at her injured leg. Whatever herbs were in that goo Zecora applied must have worked, because the only evidence of the timberwolf bite was a rather nasty looking patch of raw skin. She looked back to her mother, who seemed as if she was pondering something intently. Tree Flower's forehead was furrowed in thought and her eyes focused somewhere else.

Tree Flower all of a sudden, stood up and trotted over to the phone which was attached to the wall of the kitchen, leaving Fluttershy's leg unattended.

“Mother who are you calling?” Fluttershy asked, raising an eyebrow. A brief fear that her mother might have changed her mind and betrayed her was quickly banished by Fluttershy's own logic. Her mother had expressed her forgiveness more than three times over the course of the past few hours and each time it was from the bottom of her heart. There was absolutely no chance Tree Flower would do such a thing.

Her mother quickly dialed a number and spoke with the pony on the other side. “Hello, Ponyville Train Station? I'd like to purchase a pair of tickets to Manehattan if possible... Yes, that'll be one way... Thank you,” she set the phone back on the hook and turned to Fluttershy, smiling.

“Fluttershy, we are going to Manehattan. I have a friend there. She might be able to help you,” she said, apparently quite happy all of a sudden.

“Why? What does this friend of yours know?” Fluttershy asked, the prospect of any kind of help being a welcome light at the tunnel.

Tree Flower sat back down next to Fluttershy. “Well, she's a scientist, a biochemist to be exact. And I thought maybe she can help you somehow,” she said, gently placing a hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder. “I’m not a hundred percent sure how exactly, but at least it’s worth a shot right? Certainly better than ignoring it.”

Fluttershy didn’t answer at first. Her mother had a point. She had spent too long running from place to place, as if running would solve her problems. And what good had all that running done? Nothing. It didn’t change a thing. Maybe her mother was right, that talking to someone about it, being honest and straightforward, with no more deception would be a better way to deal with it. She remembered how she felt when she finished her story. She felt relieved. Relieved that someone else knew the full truth, with no lies or missing details. It was like a weight was lifted off her shoulders. She felt a little more free, as if there were a light at the end of the tunnel.

She longed for that feeling, to be free of secrets and lies and pain and anger. And if going to Manehattan to see this friend her mother mentioned was the way, well, then she’d take it. No questions asked. She leaned against her mother, who hadn’t moved.

“Mother…I would like that very much.”


Snowflake wandered in what seemed to be a seemingly endless maze, its walls, roof and floor lined with hundreds of mirrors. The strangest thing about these mirrors though, is that each one reflected a different image. Each image was distorted and warped, like that of a fun house.

Some images made Snowflake look more like a giraffe then a pony. Another one made him look like a cyclops. It was all very strange to Snowflake. A thick, almost impenetrable mist hung low around his legs, only clearing occasionally, always to reveal another warped and distorted image of Snowflake.

“Um…hello?” he called out, his voice echoing strangely. With each echo it became more and more distorted, and strange ghostly laughter echoed back from some point deep within the maze.

“Um…hello? Anypony?” he called out again, his voice once more echoing strangely and eerily. With each of his hoofsteps, the room echoed, the sounds bouncing off the mirrors and walls and fading into nothingness.

Okay… Snowflake thought. This is getting weird.

He rounded another corner and was suddenly caught in a dead end. He nearly screamed at the sight that greeted him in the massive mirror that took up the entire surface.

It was a horrendous creature, at least twelve feet tall, with a coat of pure white. Its eyes blazed with an almost demonic shade of red and its muscles were over sized and spikes came out of its back, like that of a dragon. In its mouth were hundreds of teeth, all sharp like steak knives.

The beast in the mirror mimicked Snowflakes movements, following him perfectly.

“What the hay?” Snowflake thought aloud. The beast copied him, except in a deep, demonic growl. Then, the most unexpected thing happened.

It laughed. And Snowflake wasn’t laughing.

Its laugh was best described as a guttural rumble that shook the walls, causing all the reflected images of Snowflake to vibrate so much that they all shattered, sending a rain of glass falling down around him.

Snowflake tried to run, but his hooves refused to respond. It was if he was glued to the floor. The monster the mirror reared on its hind legs and fell forward, smashing the mirror with its hooves. Instead of shattering with the glass, however, the monster shook off any remaining shards of glass and leaned down to look the now trembling Snowflake.

“You better run little filly,” the monster growled, a demented smile on his face.

The monster’s words snapped Snowflake out of his dreamlike state and he bolted in the opposite direction, running as fast as his legs could carry him. He tried to spread his wings and fly, but they simply wouldn’t open. It was if they were glued to his sides.

The monster’s laughter echoed behind him, and thunderous hooffalls followed after it, causing the floor beneath Snowflake to shake and rumble violently like an earthquake. He tripped over his own boots and fell forward, slamming into the mirrored floor below, causing the glass to crack, splintering into a thousand shards. A searing pain shot through Snowflake’s muzzle. He looked down to see a small pool of blood on the floor below.

The booming hoofsteps from behind him however, snapped him back into the real world again, and he dragged himself to his hooves, and stumbled forward, once more running as fast as his legs could carry him. His boots crushed hundreds of shards of glass, sending tremendous pain through his legs and leaving a trail of blood behind him. The behemoth, meanwhile, had been gaining on him the entire time and was now breathing down his neck, its hooffalls sending shock waves so strong that they sent Snowflake tumbling forward again, and he rolled over himself, his coat being shredded against the broken glass.

He looked up towards his doppelgänger who now loomed over him, smiling demonically.

“W-what are you?” Snowflake whimpered, now feeling like a lost child instead of a mighty soldier.

The monster simply lifted its titanic hoof, and with a look of almost satanic glee, answered the question.

“I’m you.”

And then its hoof came crashing down on Snowflake and everything went black.


Snowflake bolted upright and looked around the room. The room was pitch-black except for the light from a small digital clock on the wall. The time read 02:35. Snowflake wiped away the cold sweat that coated his forehead, his breath shallow and ragged.

“What the hay was that about?” he whispered, trying to make sense of the nightmare. He lay back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

Ever since he had taken that injection, his dreams had become stranger and more disturbing each night. One nightmare involved his skin falling off, only to have a demonic doppelgänger of himself explode out of him and eat him. Another side effect, he quickly found, was a constant dull pain throughout his entire body. The only good things to come out of it so far was an increase in his energy and senses. The colors seemed brighter, the sounds more defined and, above all, an increase in power.

And that was all he had wanted. More power and more stamina. And it was working. So what he had a couple of weird dreams or aches? He was Snowflake, best the griffin military had to offer. He could take it.

Letting out a tired sigh and rubbed his eyes and dragged himself out of the bed and sleepily trotted over to the nearby bathroom. He flicked on the light, wincing slightly at the sudden burst of light.

He looked in the mirror. The first thing he noticed was his coat color. The once bright white color had now faded into a dull grayish-white. The bones in his back also looked much more prevalent, poking against the skin of his back.

A thought drifted through his mind.

Why’d you run like a coward Snow? Huh? Why? He mentally reprimanded himself, mentally picturing his stepfather looming over him, disapproval in the griffin’s eyes.

You weren’t scared when you went up against that green thing! Opposite! You went and shot that thing like a real stallion! But what happens now? You see this one and you chicken out. Like a coward. That’s what you were in there you know.

A coward. Nothing more nothing less. I’ve seen baby chicks with more bravery than you showed back there. Running off like that. Pfft. No son of MINE is going to be a coward.

The mental image of his stepfather crossing his talons, looking down at Snowflake, eyebrow raised.

Do you know what we do with cowards son? Do ya? We make ‘em get up by their bootstraps and get over themselves! That’s what!

There was a pause, as if the specter of his father were thinking of what to say next.

NOW! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?! The specter shouted, stomping a claw on the ground.

Snowflake shook his head, the memory of his step father fading, slowly being replaced by grim determination.

“I’m going to get over myself, Daddy, that’s what. No son of yours is going to be branded a coward. No matter what,” he whispered, staring intently into the mirror, meditating on his reflection in the dream. Another thought, however, made itself known.

What if this was all a terribly bad idea?

He quickly shook his head, the mental image of his father slapping him upside the head. Nonsense Snowflake! He told you there would be side effects. This is normal. Anyways…you’ve got your power right? And that’s worth any price.

His train of thought was interrupted by a sudden sharp ringing noise, which caused him to wince slightly. Collecting himself he trotted to back to his bed and picked up the ringing phone on the nightstand.

"Agent Snowflake, General Iron Will would like to inform you that we've been able to locate Fluttershy and we're on our way there. We should be there by tomorrow." The voice on the other end said. Snowflake nodded.

"Aye. Thank you." he muttered, a dark smile coming across his face, and he hanged up the phone.

Once more tightening his jaw, Snowflake went back to the bathroom and looked in the mirror one last time. His eyes burning with a frightening determination.

“You are the best Snowflake. You are the best at everything.”

And that mare? That little whimpering, shivering pegasus? She was nothing.

And he was going to be the one to prove it.

Act II - 12 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Act Two:
"You Better Run"

Chapter Twelve:
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

As soon as her conversation with Iron Will was complete, Hoofcuff had once more made a beeline for the airship. Her hopes of a swift return to Canterlot were dashed within moments. Upon questioning, the captain of the airship had stated that the damage to the engine was such that a crucial part was in fact damaged beyond repair and they'd have to wait for the replacement part directly from San Franciscolt.

Upon hearing that news, Hoofcuff had released a very long and exhaustive list of names and offensives, to which the captain simply replied with, “Arg, ye be a real fanged siren with a bitch up her tail.”

Hoofcuff had no response to that.

So, she had been forced to hunker in a tiny motel perched over a bar of all places. The motel wasn't an awful place, but the fact that it was built over what was apparently the only bar in town certainly didn't help her personality. Even though a part of her felt like finishing the mission she had been given was the best decision (namely her now bruised ego), another part felt that she should at least attempt to report Iron Will, tell one of his superiors that he was blackmailing her. Then, they could release her from her contract and she could finally get out of this backwater town without fear of her until-now spotless arrest record being tarnished.

All of a sudden there was a knocking sound on her motel room door, snapping her out of her musings.

Ugh who is that? she grumbled as she trotted to the door and opened to reveal a young stallion in a mail delivery uniform.

“What do you want?” she asked, eying him with disdain.

“Package for Ms. Hoofcuff,” he stated, motioning towards the mammoth package marked ‘Air Mail’.

“Sign here.” the mail pony added, holding a check board in front of Hoofcuff’s face. Grumbling, Hoofcuff levitated the small pen that was attached via a chain to the board and quickly scrawled her name at the bottom.

“Welcome. Bug off.” she grumbled, irritated to be interrupted by what she saw as a totally pointless diversion. The mail pony shrugged, seemingly offended to being dismissed in such a brusque manner and he trotted away, muttering under his breath.

“Don’t have to be such a bitch...” he grumbled, causing Hoofcuff to shout after him.

“I’m not a bitch!” with that, she turned her attention back to the package, and started to drag it inside her motel room.


As it turned out, the package contained more than a half dozen portfolios filled to bursting. On the top of the pile was a small card which said:

Sorry about not picking you up. But I need you to do some snooping around first.
- General Iron Will

Hoofcuff facepalmed. Figured he’d send me this... she thought. Letting out a grumbling sigh, she went about reading the portfolios. Shockingly, the portfolios had actually contained information that Hoofcuff found to be rather interesting. For one thing, they had seemingly nothing to do with Fluttershy. Instead, it was a disturbingly well researched series of documents concerning a certain earth pony named Tree Flower.

As it turned out, this Tree Flower mare had been living in Ponyville for the past twenty or so years, having moved there after a family tragedy. Apparently, she had lost both her husband and only child in an event that was simply deemed as “Incident 2”. Since then, she'd mostly worked as a teacher at the local school and her life was an especially boring one.

Hoofcuff wondered what had possessed Iron Will, who Hoofcuff had seen was almost fanatical in his dedication to capturing Fluttershy, to amass such an incredibly large amount of information on what was supposedly a totally pointless pony.

She continued to read though, her curiosity piqued. Something was off here, but she couldn't quite place it. She grazed through the dozens photos taken of her over the years. Most were the standard surveillance faire; always taken from an awkward angle and most of the time, a little fuzzy. Under each photo was a label that gave the date, time of day and the special codename assigned to Tree Flower, “Den Mother”. She continued to page through the portfolio, growing more frustrated by the minute.

There was nothing to look at. Just grainy black and white photo after grainy black and white photo.

“Agh, this is pointless!” she groaned, throwing the folder away in frustration, causing it to smash into several other piled up folding which only managed to create a pile of papers on the floor.

Figures that bastard would waste my time on something so pointless, she thought, standing up from her sitting position. Once she did so however, her eyes caught sight of a random paper with bold lettering along the top that read:

Potential connection between Tree Flower, codename ‘Den Mother’ and Fluttershy Braveheart, codename ‘White Whale’

"Well, what have we here?" Hoofcuff muttered, pulling the sheet of paper out from underneath the pile it was under. It was a small memo, where, in typeface, was the following text:

Research has demonstrated a potential connection between Subject Den Mother and Subject White Whale.

Blood sample tests show a strong likelihood of blood relation, showing a 96-98% DNA match between Subject Den Mother and Subject White Whale. It is this researcher's opinion that all available personnel should be tasked with the observation and surveillance of Subject Den Mother.

Hoofcuff’s eyes widened upon reading the words. She was in the same exact town as Fluttershy’s mother?! A plan instantly started to form in her mind. She had to find this Tree Flower. If her hunch was correct, and if she could find Tree Flower, she could maybe use her as a way to find Fluttershy. And once she found Fluttershy, she was scott free! With that piece of information and the hope of finally ridding herself of this mission, she bolted out of her hotel room, running down the stairs as fast as her legs could carry her.

Her train of thought was interrupted, however, when she tripped over her own hooves and was sent tumbling down the stairs. She landed hard on her face, grabbing the attention of the patrons of the bar below.

“Oh hello Agent.” General Iron Will said, causing Hoofcuff to look up.

“General?” She groaned as she stood up, making sure to dust herself off. “What the hay are you doing here?”

“Simple, Hoofcuff. Thanks to the watchful eyes of this town’s citizens, reports of a mare matching Fluttershy’s description came from this town. So we came to check it out.”

Hoofcuff nodded, looking past Iron Will to see a small army of soldiers all hanging around the bar. She spotted a familiar white pegasus skulking about by the door. She noticed that Snowflake had seemingly bulked up quite a bit since she last saw him and seemed to manage to make himself look even more tightly wound.

“Ugh, fine...” she finally muttered, “So, are we going to go find your little ‘White Whale’? Or do you just want to hang around and drink peppermint schnapps?” she asked, unable to hold back her own sarcasm against her better judgement. The General however, seemed unfazed.

“That depends. Me and my troops are prepared, are you?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Hoofcuff nodded brusquely. “Yes I’m ready. Let’s just get this over with.” she muttered. Iron Will nodded.

“Excellent.” he said, smiling. “Boys!” he all of a sudden barked, causing all the soldiers to snap to attention.

“Let’s go find our target.” he said, making his way to the door and stepping outside, followed closely by Snowflake and the troops, leaving Hoofcuff alone. Letting out a grumbling sigh, she followed after them.


Fluttershy shied behind her mane as she and her mother sat quietly on a park bench. Tree Flower had insisted that the two of them take a walk, if only to stretch Fluttershy’s leg, which had healed remarkably well, given the injury. Tree Flower had saved the leftover balm Zecora had used in a jar, saying that she might need it at some point. Once that was done, the two of them had made a beeline for Ponyville Park, which was an incredibly modest affair, it’s center being a simple fountain.

For Fluttershy, the experience was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because this was the first time she had been able to enjoy the park in almost twenty years. It was a beautiful summer day with the sun shining brightly and now there were several large cloud banks hanging in the sky. The park however, was relatively empty, as it was a work day and most ponies were busy at their jobs at this time, leaving the park to Tree Flower and Fluttershy.

However, there was the cursed fact that Fluttershy couldn’t deny. She knew for a fact that those wanted posters she’d seen had been there for more than a day, and pointed it out to Tree Flower, and her mind was dominated by the fear that someone might have recognized her.

“Mother can’t we just stay at home...” she finally asked, looking at her mother with concern. Tree Flower smiled warmly, and put a comforting arm on Fluttershy’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry Fluttershy. Just relax,”

“But what about the poster I showed you in town?” Fluttershy asked. Tree Flower smiled warmly.

“I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any more wanted posters. In fact, in all my years living here that is the first one I’ve seen. Don’t worry. If we just keep a low profile and don’t attract any attention, like we’re doing now, we’ll be fine.”

Fluttershy sighed, looking at a squirrel that was scampering up a nearby tree. “Alright then Mother...”

“Good,” Tree Flower smiled. “Now, how about we start planning what to do once we get into Manehattan?”

Fluttershy shrugged, her mind still more concerned on if they’d be seen. She was already scanning the bushes and trees for anything that might seem out of place, mentally preparing herself to be ready to run at a moments notice. Her mother continued to talk aloud, running through the plan she had devised once they got to Manehattan.

“...so, once in Manehattan, we either take a subway or a taxi or a bus to get to Dr. Sound Mind’s office in the Upper West Side. Which do you prefer?” Tree Flower asked, diverting Fluttershy’s attention away from the squirrels scampering about.

“Um...well...whichever you prefer Mother, it’s really up to you.” Fluttershy shrugged, looking back at the squirrels. Tree Flower let out a sigh.

“Fluttershy, please, tell me, what’s wrong? I mean just an hour ago you were perfectly okay with going and now you’re suddenly apprehensive? Why?” she asked, looking at Fluttershy with concern.

“Well...Mother, I was wondering...what would happen if...” she hesitated, shuttering at the thought of New Fluttershy exploding in anger on a subway. “...I lost it?”

Tree Flower let out a sigh. “Well, Fluttershy, I can’t tell you. That’s really up to you. I mean, from what you told me, I think it’s just a matter of self-control, just like anything emotional,” she shifted on the bench, looking at one of the squirrels as well. “Just try and maintain self-control is all I can tell you. I honestly don’t know what else to say.”

Fluttershy simply sighed dejectedly, her eyes drifting about, not really focusing on anything, unsure of what to say next. That’s when she saw it. A glint of something in the bushes. She squinted, praying it was a trick of her eyes.

It wasn’t.

The figure of a pony, clad in camouflage and observing her through a pair of binoculars caught her eye and her heart sank.

They found her.

“Mother we have to leave now,” she said, turning to her mother in fear. Her mother raised an eyebrow.

“Why?” Tree Flower asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No time we just have to leave!” Fluttershy answered, bolting up from her bench and starting to run. Tree Flower followed close behind.

“They found you?!” She called out, with Fluttershy nodding rapidly. Before Tree Flower could respond, the low droning sound of zeppelin engines kicking in and Fluttershy glanced behind to see a zeppelin coming out from behind one of the cloud banks. There was a sudden explosion of noise as a voice shouted down from the zeppelin, apparently barking orders.

Fluttershy heard a shout and turned to see her mother barely dodge a large net attached to some kind of cable. Fluttershy looked up to see a mint green pegasus wielding what Fluttershy could only describe as a bazooka. A long cable ran from the weapon to the ground where the net had impacted. The pegasus yanked at the cable and the net began to retract, being pulled by the cable. Another loud bang and Fluttershy saw what she assumed was a dart impact the ground just inches away.

Fluttershy and Tree Flower used this as a cue to run even faster, the two soon running in a full on gallop. Fluttershy could hear her heart thundering in her ears and she felt New Fluttershy start to fight against whatever forces held the monster back as her adrenaline climbed higher and higher.

No please no... Was all she could think as she continued to run, ducking into the bushes in an attempt to shake her pursuers. There was another loud bang and she heard her mother, who was now quite a ways behind her, cry out in pain. Fluttershy ground to a halt and spun around to see her mother pinned down by the large net, wide in the open of the park. "Mother!" She cried out, making her way out of the bushes in order to go help her mother.

Her mother however, waved a hoof in protest. "Get out of here Fluttershy! Now! Leave me and go!" Tree Flower shouted, still struggling against the net. Fluttershy shook her head.

"But I can't just leave you Mother!" Fluttershy shouted back, unable to fathom abandoning one of the only ponies who'd ever shown her kindness. Tree Flower shook her head.

"Fluttershy just go! I'll be fine!" Tree Flower protested. Fluttershy hesitated, her heart torn. There was shouting everywhere and Fluttershy could see dozens of troops coming out of the foliage behind Tree Flower, all aiming their weapons directly at her and Fluttershy.

"Fluttershy run!" Her mother shouted one more time snapping Fluttershy of her panicked state. Fluttershy felt tears start to run from her eyes as she nodded fearfully and turned back into the bushes, hoping against hope that she could somehow lose the army that had suddenly appeared.

There was a rustling sound to Fluttershy's left and she looked to see a white blur come out from seemingly nowhere and felt something big and heavy impact her sideways. Her and her attacker rolled and tumbled through the bushes, with Fluttershy struggling wildly in a desperate last ditch effort for freedom. The mysterious white pegasus that was her assailant however, was much stronger than her, and he was quickly winning the fight, pinning her down like a wild animal.

Fluttershy felt herself quickly begin to lose control again as her adrenaline went into overdrive and green began to seep into her vision. "Leave me alone please!" She sobbed out, still struggling against her attacker, who simply shook his head, pinning her down even harder as he reached behind to pull out a pair of hoofcuffs. Fluttershy began to hyperventilate and she felt New Fluttershy quickly start to take over as her vision went entirely green.

"Leave me ALONE!" She roared, bucking the white pegasus off of her in a sudden explosion of strength. The white pegasus spun through the air before catching himself with his own wings. Fluttershy felt herself beginning to shift and transform and she looked up at the now shocked hovering pegasus.

And all she felt was rage.


Snowflake spun away in shock as the weak pegasus mare beneath him bucked him away as if he were made of paper. Quickly flapping his newly strengthened wings to regain control, he looked down to see the mare writhing on the ground, her yellow coat changing to a shade of dark green and her flowing pink mane growing longer, wilder and darker in color until it was blood red. She growled an monstrous growl that sounded as if it were coming from some demonic creature trying to break free. Her legs flexed and stretched, as her body quickly began to expand with new muscle mass. Her size continued to increase until she was at least five times as large as before, her wings now no more than comically short stubs. Her eyes were now glowed a bright shade of emerald green and she stared up at him, her eyes burning with an almost demonic level of rage and hatred.

FLUTTERHULK SMASH PEGASUS!” the monster roared, swiping a massive green hoof towards Snowflake, and Snowflake dived out of the way, landing on the ground and readying himself for the next attack. He wasn’t about to back down now. He had The Power now. Grinning boldly, his eyes narrowed.

“Time for a rematch!” he chuckled, spreading his wings and making a flying leap towards the creature, throwing himself with all his might into the creatures jaw. The punch however, did absolutely nothing and Snowflake practically bounced off the beast as if he were a rubber ball. He tumbled to the ground, almost instantaneously regaining his footing. He stared up at the beast who glared back at him with burning rage.

PUNY PONY!” she roared, slamming a hoof down on the ground, sending a shock wave of rock and dust into the air that caused Snowflake to go tumbling again. Snowflake caught himself again and this time pulled out his weapon, firing off a shot at the monster before jumping into the air and firing off another shot. The shots seemingly had a slightly better result, as the monster roared in what Snowflake assumed was angry pain, swinging another hoof, which Snowflake dodged gracefully.

There was a sudden boom and then an explosion of fire and smoke and the monster cried out in pain again, shifting her attention to the tank that had been lying in wait. Growling, the green monster turned and galloped towards the tank at incredible speed given her size, leaping into the air to come crashing down on it, crushing it underneath as if it were a soda can.

Snowflake flew after the creature. This was their battle. Time to prove that he was the best. Spreading his arms, he tackled the monster from behind, wrapping around its neck like a vice. The monster growled in protest as she reached behind to grab Snowflake by his wings and this time, flung him with all her might to the ground. Snowflake felt a burst of pain as he impacted, and everything went back.


Flutterhulk stood over the crushed remains of the tank, letting out another loud roar. Her roar was greeted by a hail of gunfire. She growled in anger and swung her arms out to sweep away the tiny ponies tormenting her as if they were insects. She looked around, readying herself for the next attack when her eyes focused on the tiny figure of a slate grey mare galloping towards what appeared to be another pony, this one a coral mare captured in a net.

For some reason, something told her that the coral mare was something friendly and that the grey mare was an enemy. Gritting her teeth, Flutterhulk let out a roar and started towards the grey mare.


Hoofcuff now only had one goal in mind. Avoid getting caught and crushed by the monster that was now rampaging somewhere on the other side of a hedge of trees. The sounds of explosions and gunfire confirmed her suspicions. Everything about this mission had now been completely and utterly rendered unsalvageable. She ducked behind a tree, searching for the coral mare she had seen earlier running with Fluttershy. Might as well arrest her and get something out of this crapsack mission. She thought as she caught sight of her laying on the ground, trapped in one of those dorky net things that some of the troops were given.

This is probably the worst idea I ever had. Hoofcuff thought, as she scampered across the field towards the coral mare. Horn aglow and gun at the ready, she ran up next to the mare, who was no longer struggling against the net, but was now sobbing in what Hoofcuff assumed was anguish.

“Mrs. Flower!” Hoofcuff called out, hoping that this was in fact the mare she was looking for and not another innocent civilian. “I’m sorry it has to be this way but you're under arrest for aiding and abetting a fugitive of the Equestrian Government.” she then whipped out her hoofcuffs and was about to latch them around Tree Flower’s wrists when she heard a roar from behind.

She turned to see the mammoth green form of the monster galloping towards her. Her eyes widened and she quickly conjured the first shield spell she could remember, now wishing she had listened to the teachers in school. She hoped that it would hold.

It didn’t.

Hoofcuff was assaulted by a backwash of her own magic, which exploded in a shower of red, sending her flying backwards, landing on the ground hard. She rolled over, groaning as her ears rang and her head felt as if it had just been hit with a sledge hammer. Shaking her head to clear it, she stood on her hooves, looking for the monster. She was greeted by the sight of a green hoof slamming into the ground directly at her left and another to her right. Looking up in panicked fear, she was greeted by the sight of the monster looming over her, eyes burning in rage.

The monster raised it’s right arm, it's hoof clenching, obviously readying herself to crush Hoofcuff underneath. Hoofcuff swallowed one last time, her body frozen in fear.

“Fluttershy don’t!” a voice called out and both Hoofcuff and the monster turned. Hoofcuff was greeted by the sight of Tree Flower, still pinned under the net, looking up at the monster with a pleading look in her eyes.

The monster seemed confused for a moment, as if it were trying to process what the older mare had said, before it put it’s hoof down slowly and started to stomp towards Tree Flower. Hoofcuff simply watched in shock and confusion as the monster loomed over the earth pony a long, strangely quiet moment, before all of a sudden reaching down and scooping her up off the ground like a toy and setting her on her back. The monster then looked back at Hoofcuff for a moment, it’s eyes narrowing.

Leave Flutterhulk and friend alone.” it growled, before turning and galloping off into the trees, leaving a bewildered Hoofcuff standing alone, unsure of what she just saw.

Act III - 13 - Speaking Words of Wisdom

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Act III:
“Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)”

Chapter Thirteen:
"Speaking Words of Wisdom"

The tremendous monster that was Tree Flower’s daughter sat hunkered down in the corner of the cave that they had taken refuge in, hidden deep in the thick wilderness of the Everfree Forest. Tree Flower herself sat at the opposite end of the cave, unsure of what to do. She simply watched the large creature, who now sat sulking quietly, seemingly wrapped up in it’s own world.

Tree Flower honestly couldn’t believe that the beast opposite from her was actually her own daughter. Everything about the titanic pony next to her was the total opposite from her kind, gentle and above all, shy daughter. This was a being that seemed to be angry at everything around it, it’s voice a rumbling growl that was more often nothing more than inarticulate growls or grunts. It’s every muscle seemed wound as tightly as was possible, giving the creature the feeling as if it might suddenly explode wildly in all directions.

Outside the cave, there was the characteristic drizzle of pouring rain, as it had begun raining a few minutes before, thereby trapping the two inside the cave until the storm cleared. A loud clap of thunder exploded across the sky and Tree Flower flinched as the beast besides her leapt across the cave and stood in front of her, roaring skyward as if defying whatever forces of nature conspired to break the silence between the two of them. The sound of thunder died away and the beast relaxed slightly before stomping back to it’s corner.

Tree Flower said nothing, but rather raised an eyebrow slightly. Why did she do that? she wondered, looking back at the jet black sky as the rain continued to pour. It was as if she were protecting me.

She silently swallowed, building up her confidence as she got ready to play out a hunch that was forming in her mind.

“F-Fluttershy,” she spoke quietly, looking towards the beast. “I’m okay if that’s what you're worried about.”

The beast simply grunted in response, shifting on it’s haunches slightly and simply stared back into the blackness. However, Tree Flower could see that it had looked towards her for a moment, as if worried before turning back to look towards the entrance to the cave. Taking a breath, Tree Flower started to slowly walk towards it.

“Fluttershy...Fluttershy can you hear me?” she asked softly, causing the beast to simply grumble in response. Tree Flower took the beasts ambivalent reaction to mean that she could continue her approach, albeit slowly and quietly.

As she neared the beast, she remembered to be ready to retreat to her corner of the cave at a moments notice, lest the beast unexpectedly explode into a rage. However, even with that fear in her mind, the aspect that this was in fact her daughter was enough to override her fear and instead imbue her with curiosity. Maybe the monster wasn’t as mindless as Fluttershy had made it out to be. The beast obviously had recognized her before, having picked her up and carried her all the way out here. It had even called her ‘friend’, and just moments before, had moved to defend her from the thunder, which it apparently perceived as a threat.

She slowly reached a hoof and gently touched the beast’s foreleg. The beast, instead of squishing her like a bug, simply flinched slightly, before looking down at her for a moment. Tree Flower looked up, doing her best not to panic given her rather dangerous position so close by. She smiled as warmly as she could muster, and she could see the perpetual anger that burned in the creature’s eyes fade slightly, and it looked vaguely relieved.

“H-hello F-Fluttershy...” Tree Flower repeated, now gently rubbing the spot where her hoof was, feeling the rough and wild fur of her daughter’s coat. “It’s me, Mom. Remember?”

The beast shrugged slightly, “Flutterhulk like friend,” it murmured, relaxing a little more and letting Tree Flower come a little closer. Tree Flower leaned up against it and settled to look out towards the rough and tumble forest that spread out before them. They sat there, no sound passing between them asides from the monster’s deep breaths. As time passed, Tree Flower let herself drift off to sleep, still gently stroking the beast beside her.


Fluttershy’s eyes opened slowly. She felt her heart sink at the feeling of the ache that pervaded her entire body. That could mean only one thing:

She had lost control again.

She looked around to see where she had ended up this time. She found she was in a relatively clean looking cave, and the smell of rain confirmed that it had recently been raining. She found that she was now covered in a blanket, and she reflexively pulled it around her to cover herself. A light snorting noise greeted her ear and her head whipped around in fear, only for her fear to vaporize almost instantaneously once she saw what had made the sound. Her mother simply shifted her weight off Fluttershy slightly and murmured under her breath. Fluttershy looked back towards the entrance of the cave. It was a surprising sight to say the least, as she had no memory of arriving in this cave, much less her mother following along. Her last clear memory was of her trying to fight off that white pegasus stallion that had attacked her back in Ponyville and then nothing but foggy and imprecise flickers of whatever New Fluttershy had done. A quick glance outside the cave told Fluttershy they were deep in the Everfree Forest, which was miles away from the park Fluttershy had remembered. She could see the pathway that her alter-ego had cut through the trees, having snapped them like twigs in order to get to this rather meek cave.

She slowly got to her hooves and started towards the exit. She felt compelled to keep moving. She knew that, most likely, given New Fluttershy's appearance, that the government would be right on their tail, most likely capturing her again. But another, more worrying thought was on her mind: What would her mother do once she woke up? She wondered if her mother would be scared or frightened of her now that she knew the truth, just like everyone else had been.

Fluttershy stopped in her tracks, turning to look back at the still sleeping older mare. What did her mother even think of her now? She wondered if the only reason her mother had been so forgiving was because she simply didn't know everything about New Fluttershy. But now the truth was out, no use denying it, and Tree Flower had finally seen the full scope of Fluttershy's monstrous alter-ego. Fluttershy took a deep breath and once more started to walk to the exit. She couldn't bare the thought of what would, most assuredly, happen next. She could picture her mother, shoving her away like a freak and leaving her alone again, lost in the middle of the forest.

"Fluttershy? Where are you going?" Tree Flower's tired voice called out. Fluttershy halted in her tracks again, Tree Flower's question snapping her out of her paranoid thoughts.

"A-Away..." Fluttershy choked out, not wanting to look at her mother out her own guilty feelings.

"But why? You don't have to leave." Her mother replied, sounding concerned.

"Yes, yes I do Mother!" Fluttershy cried, turning to face her. "You saw what I am! I'm a freak!" Tears started to well up in her eyes. "I'm a monster Mother! An evil, brutal monster! You saw it didn't you?!" She was practically sobbing now, sitting on her haunches, her chest heaving as she felt her emotional catharsis wash over her.

Tree Flower said nothing in response, instead practically galloping over to Fluttershy and pulling her into an incredibly tight hug.

"Nonsense Fluttershy! You're not evil."

"But you saw her! She kills ponies!" Fluttershy sobbed, clutching her mother tightly. She was greeted by her mother's hoof grabbing her chin and looking into her eyes.

"Fluttershy. Listen to me-"

"I already told you Mother...it's because I'm a monster..."

"No!" Tree Flower said sternly. "You are not a monster. You still have a choice."

Fluttershy halted, looking into her mother's eyes in confusion. "Wh-what? M-mother what are you talking about?" She asked, completely baffled at her mother's words.

Tree Flower nodded, her face serious and stern. "Yesterday, when we were trying to escape, I got caught in that net remember?"

Fluttershy nodded mutely, replaying the memory in her head. Her mother apparently took this as a sign to continue, as she continued to speak, her voice steady.

"Do you remember what happened after that?"

Fluttershy shook her head, still saying nothing.

"She saved me," Tree Flower said matter-of-factly. Fluttershy raised an eyebrow slightly.

"'She'? Who's 'She'?"

"Flutterhulk," Tree Flower said plainly.

"What?!" Fluttershy practically gasped, as she shook her head in confusion. "B-But how? How did that happen?"

"I don't know," Tree Flower replied, shrugging slightly. "All I know is that this grey mare came to arrest me, and then, out of the blue..." She paused, apparently carefully choosing her next words carefully. "...she appeared. She was about to crush that pony, and I called her by your name."

"But Mother..." Fluttershy murmured, still trying to wrap her head around what happened. "Why did you even try that? Why not run away like everypony else?"

Tree Flower smiled sadly. "Because, and this might sound strange, I couldn't just let her run wild like that. I had to at least try and communicate with the daughter I knew still was inside there somewhere."

Fluttershy looked at her mother in confusion. "Why would you even think that? New Fluttershy is nothing but hate. It hates everything, wants to destroy it, crush it and pulverize it until there's nothing left..." She looked down at her hooves mournfully. She saw Tree Flower's coral hoof come up to meet with her yellow one and caress it gently.

"No Fluttershy...that's not true. I saw Flutterhulk's face. The look on her face wasn't one of hate, but rather...fury. When it was going to crush that other mare, it looked at her as if the mare was something evil that needed to be destroyed. And then when it looked at me, it looked as if it knew me, even if it was only vaguely. Then it came, scooped me up, as if I were a filly it were protecting, and then walked away from the other mare. We later came through the Everfree and ended up here because of the rain. If Flutterhulk was as evil as you say she was, she wouldn't have done that. She would have ignored me, crushed that other pony, and then crushed me as well. But she didn't. She chose to spare me and the other mare. And you know what she called me?"

"N-No...I d-don't..." Fluttershy replied quietly.

"She called me 'friend'," Tree Flower said kindly. Fluttershy sat silently, running through the events her mother had described in her head. It made no sense. How could New Fluttershy, a beast that until now Fluttershy believed to be an almost demonic abomination of anger and rage, suddenly show mercy on somepony?

"But how..." she repeated, "She's hurt so many...why stop now?" she put her head in her hooves in frustration. "And why can't I stop it?" she cried softly.

Tree Flower shrugged slightly, "Maybe you just need to let it go."

"Let go of what Mother?" Fluttershy asked angrily, turning towards Tree Flower. "I can't just let go of my past! Its always going to be there! Haunting me constantly, reminding me of what she's done-what I've done to destroy everything I hold dear! Father, Posey, you, everything!"

"Thats nonsense Fluttershy," Tree Flower said just as sharply. "I knew exactly what you did that day and I still saw past the monster and was able to see you, the daughter I love."

"But why?!" Fluttershy half-sobbed, half-shouted in anger and frustration.

"Because I forgave you and decided not to hate you for whatever's happened in the past. And don't think that was easy. Because it wasn't," Tree Flower snapped back, her voice stern and authoritative. "I had to first let go of twenty-three years of wondering what I had done wrong or what I could have done or said to prevent all this –" she motioned towards the cave, her face tight with emotion "– from happening. I had to let go of my own anger, anger towards your father for not telling me what he had done, anger towards those who would mock you and hurt you every day. I even felt angry at you, for taking your father from me," she admitted, her voice heavy with emotion. "It was eating me alive, just as your own anger is right now! But until you let go of that anger, take it out and bury it, destroy it, you will always be like this, torn and tortured by your past. Stop letting your past define you Fluttershy, and instead, break free from it."

Fluttershy simply sat in stunned silence, taken aback by her mother's speech. Tree Flower herself was now simply breathing rather heavily, obviously having invested quite a bit of energy into expressing her own feelings on the matter. Neither of them spoke for what seemed like an eternity, with Fluttershy taking in the meaning of her mother's words. The fact that her mother had to bear with the pain and suffering she had undergone for twenty-three years, and still be willing to wake up every morning only managed to highlight Fluttershy's own intense self-loathing. She felt tears running from her eyes as she looked back at her mother, whose own eyes were watering as she stared back at Fluttershy, a mournful look on her face.

"B-but Mother...h-how do I let it all go? I can't just throw it away...its a part of me, an evil, monstrous part of me..." Fluttershy finally asked, her voice hoarse. Tree Flower let out a heavy sigh.

"If you can't throw it away, if it really is so much a part of you that you can't rid yourself of it, the least you could do is try and control it somehow...and don't let it rule over you. The first thing I learned was that the past is just that, the past. Its already moved on and is over. Nothing we do is going to change what already happened. No amount of screaming or crying is going to bring back your father. I've already accepted that horrible truth. So, instead of wallowing in the past, I decided to instead always look ahead, and hope that tomorrow is a better day than today." she said, her voice now tired and calm.

"But its so hard Mother. I mean, I tried everything to control it, but it won't go away..." Fluttershy replied sadly, looking down at the floor, no longer angry, but rather intensely depressed. She felt her mother's hoof on her shoulder and simply silently let her shoulders sag even more. She felt her mother's other arm reach around her and felt herself being pulled into a gentle, yet firm hug.

"Then we'll just have figure out away together," her mother whispered. Fluttershy opened her eyes and looked up at Tree Flower, a confused look on her face.

"'We?'" she asked. Tree Flower nodded simply.

"Yes. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, you're my daughter Fluttershy, and that means, no matter what you've done or will do, I will never, ever leave you alone," she then unexpectedly chuckled slightly. "Anyways, with all that ruckus back in Ponyville, I'm pretty sure me going home isn't an option."

Fluttershy couldn't help but smile at her mother's reassurance. The same feeling of release that had come with their first hug back when Fluttershy first returned home washed over her, and she let herself relax completely in her mother's loving grasp. Her mother was still here, alive and well, and above all, she was never going to abandon or betray her. A part of Fluttershy was taken in abject wonder at her mother's saintly courage and dedication. Even knowing the full scope of everything, and having seen New Fluttershy herself up close and personal, she was still going to stay. As Fluttershy came to this realization, she started to cry. Not tears of sadness, but tears of joy.

She was no longer alone.


The zeppelin was now flying over the Everfree Forest, its spotlight trained on the dense foliage below. Hoofcuff, meanwhile, had first tried to find Starlight, but, as it turned out, he had apparently been sent home. Of course, having a broken leg might have had something to do with it. Upon hearing that news, she went back to her cabin, trying to make sense of everything that had happened. She settled to look out the window, and, to be honest, was now even more confused than before. This was the second time Fluttershy had been at the advantage, and even as that...creature...or whatever it was, she consciously chose to spare Hoofcuff. It only managed to make everything that had gone on during this entire bizarre mission even stranger. General Iron Will had always made it sound as if the beast was something that was evil or sadistic, if not at the very least totally mindless.

But what Hoofcuff had witnessed was something different. She was a threat, no doubt about that, what with her crushing a tank like a soda can. But evil? Hoofcuff knew what 'evil' was supposed to look like, with her job basically guaranteeing that she'd run into her fair share of 'evil' ponies, and, as wildly destructive as this...'Flutterhulk' seemed to be, she didn't exactly fit the standard definition. Now that Hoofcuff had had a chance to observe it in action, the first thing she had noticed was that it only seemed to attack what it seemed to be a threat. If it were evil, shouldn't it have instead focused its attention on the completely defenseless town that was quite literally right next door? Wouldn't that have been a better, more satisfying target then a heavily armored tank? All in all, everything was just confusion piled on top of more confusion. It drove her up the wall.

She let out a grumbling sigh and turned away from the window, the view outside being a mind-numbing expanse of green. She sat on her bed, lying back in an attempt to at least try and fall asleep. It had been a long day and she was quite on honestly exhausted. However, as she tossed and turned in an attempt to fall asleep, her mind continued to drift back to what happened earlier. Not that monster mind you, she had already ran over that in her mind enough times to make her dizzy.

No, rather her mind focused on another thing she had seen. Before everything had gone south, she had had a unique opportunity to really observe Fluttershy for the first time. And to be honest, it really only managed to drive home the freakish difference between her and that monster.

She had seemed, at least to Hoofcuff's eyes, to be at peace, and it had been the first time she had seen her in a state other than abject panic or fear. Even when she had spotted her at that train station before, she had seen how paranoid the shy pegasus could be. But back in Ponyville, she had seemed almost content, calm and placid, quietly discussing things with her mother, Tree Flower.

The more she thought about it and the more she had watched the other two, the more pointless this whole trip had seemed. Even thinking back on it started to make Hoofcuff feel somewhat guilty, since, before the ambush, both Fluttershy and Tree Flower looked as if they didn't have a care in the world. All the memory of the two ponies managed to do was remind Hoofcuff of her own rather lonely existence. She didn't have any friends of her own. All she had was Starlight, who even then was more the chipper assistant then an actual friend. Most of the ponies back at HQ tended to avoid her and it wasn't like her own rather prickly personality helped to smooth things over.

Hoofcuff all of a sudden shook her head brusquely. Stop it Hoofcuff. You're getting sappy, she chided herself. You've got a good thing going. You help Equestria. You help them find and capture the worst of the worst. That's all that’s important, her train of thought paused.

As true as those words were, something still felt missing. She couldn't quite nail what it was, but she knew something was missing. Her train of thought started again, Yeah...that's all...but then what? After you catch them, what do you get? A pat on the back and a trip back home to your ratty apartment to dine on take out. Excellent.

She found herself letting out a frustrated groan and shifting on her cot, going back to earlier that day and how quickly Fluttershy could swing from apparent peace to complete and utter terror. As soon as Fluttershy had caught sight of the miniature army that had been stalking her, her and the older mare turned tail and ran wildly for the forest. Of course, once the expected explosion of shouting, gunfire and chaos that accompanied the botched ambush, Hoofcuff soon lost track of Fluttershy, and had to make due with trying to arrest the other mare.

Hoofcuff let out another grumbling sigh. Why did Flutterhulk save that other pony? The only reasonable explanation for that bizarre move would be that she somehow recognized the other mare, and understood what the other mare was saying. Heck, it had responded to Fluttershy's name no less, almost instantaneously.

This is all so damned confusing! Hoofcuff thought, rolling over in bed and looking at the small clock.

It read 01:00.

Maybe you just need rest, she thought, rubbing her tired eyes as her exhaustion only managed to grow. Her eyelids felt heavy, as if they were made of stone and closed over her eyes.

Yeah...sleep. Sleep is good. Where her final thoughts as she drifted off into dreamland.

Act III - 14 - Movin' Right Along

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Act III:
Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)

Chapter 14:
“Movin’ Right Along”

Fluttershy remained in the hug with her mother for what seemed like hours, until a gentle tap on her shoulder caught her attention.

“Fluttershy, I think we should keep moving,” Tree Flower said quietly, letting Fluttershy go to reach for her backpack. Fluttershy nibbled her lip slightly as she sat to the side, looking around worriedly. Tree Flower noticed this and kept her arm on her shoulder in support.

“Fluttershy, what’s worrying you now?” she asked.

Fluttershy sighed. “Well, I’m just worried for you. I mean, when I lose control, those ponies who were chasing us before always seem to find me again...” she sighed again, shifting slightly and running a hoof through her mane slightly. “and I don’t want them to hurt you.”

Tree Flower smiled gently. “I see. But I promised I wouldn’t leave you. I promised I’d get you to Manehattan safely, and I’m not about to let you down again. Now,” she stood up, dusting herself off. “Let’s go then shall we?” she said, starting towards the exit, beckoning for Fluttershy to follow. “Ready Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy nodded meekly, and slowly stood to her hooves, quietly walking up to Tree Flower. “Um...I guess,” she replied, looking out towards the dense forest outside the cave. “I guess we have to walk through that don’t we?” she said, looking towards Tree Flower.

Tree Flower nodded. “Yes, it seems we do. But don’t worry,” she then put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “We’ll get through this, just watch.”

And with that, the pair started to trot out of the cave, and into the forest.


Fluttershy and Tree Flower now trudged through the thick underbrush. Thankfully, it seemed that the Everfree had caught up with the rest of Equestria weather wise, so it was a relatively crisp 75 degrees in the forest, if somewhat more muggy then the pegasi-controlled weather of the rest of Equestria. As they walked, they would occasionally make a comment on either the weather, the plant life or the bugs, but for the most part, remained silent, both having temporarily exhausted any conversation topics.

As they walked, Fluttershy had another chance to better get a look at the fabled Everfree Forest. Maybe it was just the situation she was in before, or the fact that she was now walking through the forest with her mother, or just the simple fact that they were in a different part of the Everfree, but now the forest looked considerably less threatening than it had when she was walking with Zecora. Instead of the dark and threatening vines and swamp like environment around Ponyville, this part of the forest looked more like a dense forest of pines and oak trees, with scarcely a vine to be seen, and above all, lots of light coming through the branches above, giving the ground a wonderful patchwork pattern of light and shadow. The more Fluttershy thought about it, the odder and less like the Everfree this forest seemed.

I’m not even sure this is really the Everfree, she thought. Who knows how far New Fluttershy took us...

“Well, fancy that! We must be nearing some sort of civilization,” Tree Flower said, pausing as she pointed towards a dirt path that emerged out of the underbrush of ferns. Fluttershy cocked an eyebrow at this.

“But that makes no sense,” Fluttershy said, trotting up next to her mother. “I mean, this is the Everfree right? Why would their be a dirt path in here?”

Tree Flower rubbed her chin for a moment, “No idea. But, the good news is that this path has to lead somewhere right? I mean, might as well follow it right?”

Fluttershy shrugged. “I guess so,” she said, not sure if following the path would be the best idea. “But what if we get spotted?”

“Spotted? By what? I think deer are the only ones who live in these parts-” the sharp sound of a twig snapping caught their attention and Fluttershy instantly found herself cowering behind her mother.

“What was that?” she asked fearfully, looking around in a panic. Tree Flower herself looked somewhat spooked, and was scanning the forest around them as they heard more rustling in the bushes around them.

“No idea...” Tree Flower said, her voice low. Fluttershy could feel her heart rate climbing as Tree Flower then cupped her hooves to her mouth and called out.

“Hello? Who’s there?”

There was some more rustling, louder and closer this time, and Fluttershy could feel another panic attack coming on as hundreds of potential monsters that could possibly be lurking in the forest around jumped to the forefront of her mind as her heart rate pounded in her ears. Just as she feared she might snap and lose control, out emerged a tall and somewhat stocky stag. Fluttershy practically fainted.

“What are you two ponies doing here?” he said, his eyebrow cocked and eyes narrowed slightly. Tree Flower let out an audible sigh of relief and relaxed.

“Well, me and my daughter here were wondering if you could show us which way to the nearest town,” she asked, smiling warmly and giving Fluttershy a comforting smile. The stag put a hoof to his chin, thinking for a moment.

“Well...I think Tree Branch is about a mile down this path here, I was actually on my way there right now, do you want me to lead you there?” he asked. Tree Flower nodded.

“That would be wonderful,” she said warmly, beckoning for Fluttershy to follow her as the stag nodded and started down the dirt path. Fluttershy shook her head meekly and stayed put, making sure to hide herself behind her mane and not speak as much as possible as her mind processed the strange turn of events.

Does this deer know me? Maybe he saw a poster? Why is he helping us? she wondered, not noticing that she was actively muttering slightly until Tree Flower walked up to her and gave her a gentle nudge.

“Don’t worry dear, we’ll be fine,” Tree Flower whispered, giving Fluttershy an encouraging smile. Fluttershy bit her lip slightly.

“I know...but still...” she whispered back, “I mean who's to say he can be trusted? I mean he’s just a random deer walking in the woods.”

Tree Flower shrugged slightly. “Well, we’ll just have to give it a shot then Fluttershy. Remember, you can’t let fear rule your life like it has. Just let it all go.”

Fluttershy let out a troubled sigh, giving the deer in front of them, who apparently hadn’t heard a word of their conversation. He looked honest...but so did that griffin back in the motel, and look what happened there. But her mother had a point. Fear had controlled her life long enough. Time to break free from it and take at least one leap of faith.

Anyways...you’re going to Manehattan anyways...not exactly a small town. she thought, swallowing and finally nodding.

“Alright then Mother...I’ll try.”

Tree Flower smiled. “Okay then,” she then turned to the deer, who was still patiently standing there, tapping his hoof on the ground slightly. “We’re ready mister.” she said, as both her and Fluttershy started to follow him along the dirt path and, hopefully out of the forest.


Night had fallen, and the large full moon loomed in the sky as the odd looking trio emerged out of the forest, the deer still in the lead.

“Well, here we are,” the deer said, “Welcome to Tree Branch,” he motioned towards the small town that greeted them on the edge of the forest. Fluttershy herself cocked an eyebrow slightly at the name of the town as she heard it, her attention focused on the well lit, yet modest sign that was facing towards them.

Welcome to Tree Branch Township;

What are the chances of that, she thought, recalling the incident at the train station when she bumped into Firefly. She had honestly just used the first two words that popped into her head, and had had honestly no idea that there was an actual town by the name of Tree Branch at all.

"Thank you very much Mister...?" Tree Flower asked, looking up at the stag.

"Oh, my name is Will," he said, extending a hoof which Tree Flower shook gratefully.

"Well thank you very much Will," she answered, starting to feel for her purse. "Now, do you know the way to the nearest motel so we can stay the night?" She asked, still trying to find her purse. Fluttershy bit her lip. Would they be even able to afford a night in the motel? Fluttershy had had her fair experience with those places, and she knew for a fact that they tended to be expensive.

"Oh dear," Tree Flower murmured, her voice concerned. "I don't seem to have my purse with me...weird I could have sworn I had it when we left home."

Fluttershy felt her heart once more drop. No purse meant no money, and that meant no shelter for the night. What were they to do? Would they be forced to hunker down under a bridge like Fluttershy had been forced to do many numerous times in the past. Fluttershy couldn't bear the idea of her mother being forced to live like a homeless pony, let alone in the middle of October, when she knew the nights were always cold.

"Wow that's terrible, you sure?" Will asked, his face concerned. Tree Flower and Fluttershy nodded simultaneously, with Fluttershy's expression looking noticeably hopeless.

"It seems so, yes." Tree Flower said, her own expression worried. She paused, sighing slightly. "But don't worry yourself, we'll find somewhere we can stay, you can be assured of that." She added, putting on a self-confident smile. Will, however, shook his head.

"Nonsense. I mean I can't just let you two strangers wander around town at night, its too dangerous."

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. Was he seriously offering what she thought he was offering? Because that would be wonderful.

"Oh no need to worry yourself. Like I said, we can probably find somewhere, we don't want to be a burden." Tree Flower countered, smiling.

"No, but I insist," Will pressed. "I mean I helped you through the woods, the least I could do is let you have a safe place to sleep. Come on, my house is this way," he said, beckoning them to follow.

Tree Flower seemed to think about the proposal for a moment, before giving Fluttershy an inquisitive look. "Well dear, what do you think?"

Fluttershy nibbled her lip again, awkwardly running her hoof through her mane. "Um...well..." Maybe this isn't such a good idea, she thought, before a cold breeze blew across them, giving Fluttershy a chill.

"I, um...okay then." She finally answered, swallowing. Tree Flower gave Fluttershy a warm smile, as if to say 'its going to be alright.' and she nodded towards Will.

"Alright then Mr. Will, we'll gladly accept your offer." She said, as the trio started walking in the direction Will had been heading.


"Here's the guest bedroom," Will said, leading Fluttershy and Tree Flower down the upstairs hall to the humble and homely looking bedroom and opening the door. Fluttershy was first to step inside, taking a moment to quietly take in her surroundings. The walls of the room were painted a soothing shade of light pink, with little cherub fillies holding ribbons that ran along the upper part of the wall near the ceiling.

"I like the walls," she said simply, smiling a little, the room giving off a very peaceful and calming feeling that she was greatly relieved to feel. Will nodded.

"Yeah it was my daughter's room back when she was a filly, but she's in college now." He stated simply, his voice carrying a hint of nostalgia. Tree Flower smiled warmly.

"Aw, that's sweet," she said, walking into the room as well, the carpet muffling her hoofsteps. "I really like the carpet," she commented, sitting on the bed and making herself comfortable. Will simply smiled.

"Yeah, will that be all? Do you need anything, like a drink or something?"

Fluttershy shook her head gently and Tree Flower waved a hoof. "Your welcome, but I think we'll make it." She said, as Will nodded and stepped out, closing the door behind him.

As soon as the door closed, Tree Flower let out a sigh of relief and laid down on the bed. Fluttershy looked around the room, noticing that, besides the bed, there was only a rather old, yet comfortable looking highback chair sitting to the left of the bed, and a small walk in closet. Outside the window, there could be seen the lights from the house next door.

Fluttershy started towards the chair, sitting down silently and trying her best to get comfortable. She hadn’t really noticed it until now, but her body still ached from yesterdays events, and she was in desperate need of sleep.

“Fluttershy why are you on the chair?” Tree Flower asked, getting up from the bed. “You should be here on the bed, you need the rest.” Fluttershy simply shook her head.

“No, I’ll be fine mother, really. I’m kinda used to not sleeping on a bed.” she said quietly, looking out the window absentmindedly.

“Fluttershy I insist. You need the rest more than I do. Here, take the bed and I’ll sleep in the chair.” Tree Flower said, getting out of bed and motioning for Fluttershy to get up. Fluttershy sighed and got out of the chair, walking over to the bed and laying down as Tree Flower walked over to the light switch, flicking off the lights and settling into the chair.

“Ah...” Tree Flower sighed, shifting in the chair again slightly. “Goodnight Fluttershy.” she said.

“Goodnight mother,” Fluttershy said, pulling the covers over her body and letting out a relieved sigh, as she rolled onto her back and looked at the ceiling, milling over the past few days. Could it be possible that her mother was indeed correct, and that, somehow, New Fluttershy might be able to be controlled? Fluttershy honestly wondered though what would she even do with New Fluttershy if she knew how to control her. Would she keep it bottled up and locked away permanently, never letting her alter ego come out and possibly wreak all kinds of havoc? Or would she set aside a day of the month to wander out to some empty place and just let it loose, see what happened? Or maybe find someway to pay back for all the pain New Fluttershy had caused, some kind of recompense? And if so, what? What kind of good could New Fluttershy even be? she let out a troubled sigh, her eyelids starting to grow heavy and she could already hear her mother starting to snore slightly as sleep descended over her.

Just as she was about to drift off into dreamland, however, there came an incredibly loud clash and what sounded like the yowling of a cat, jerking Fluttershy and Tree Flower awake. “What was that?!” Fluttershy asked, panicked. Tree Flower meanwhile, was quick to shush her, stomping over to the window and opening it brusquely. She leaned outside, cupping her hooves to her mouth and shouting at the top of her lungs.

“HEY! SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP YOU JERKS!” she shouted into the darkness.

“Sorry!” Came a tired sounding voice from below. “That was me!”

“Me who?!” Tree Flower shouted back, obviously still very angry about being woken up. Fluttershy tentatively peaked out the window too, to see a rather disheveled looking stallion dressed in a pair of white nurses scrubs.

“Um, sorry I’m just on my way to work,” he said, obviously embarrassed.

“Work? What do you mean work? It’s midnight!” Tree Flower asked, her voice still angry, but less abrasive. The unicorn below shrugged.

“I work night shift at the local hospital,” he said, giving his watch a quick glance. “And I’m going to be late if I don’t leave now!”

Tree Flower’s shoulders sagged and she let out a tired sigh. “Oh...okay then...go on then.”

The unicorn nodded rapidly. “Thank you, I’m sorry for waking you.” he added, quickly galloping off into the night. Tree Flower simply muttered under her breath as she closed the window and locked it again, tiredly flopping back in her chair.

“Are you okay Mother, you seemed a little angry there,” Fluttershy asked, putting a hoof on her mother’s arm. Her mother simply gave her a tired look before laughing slightly.

“Yeah, I guess I did kind of overreact a little there. I’m sorry, you can go back to bed.” she said, shrugging slightly.

“Yeah I guess you did,” Fluttershy chuckled, laying back down in the bed. “Goodnight Mother.”

“Goodnight Fluttershy,” Tree Flower replied tiredly, once more quickly dropping off to sleep. Fluttershy smiled in relief, and quietly fell into a deep, restful sleep.


The next morning, after a filling breakfast, Fluttershy and Tree Flower bid farewell to Will, and started towards the train station. The walk was a quick one, since Tree Branch was a small town, and thankfully, they hadn’t seen any wanted posters of Fluttershy.

Fluttershy herself couldn’t wait to arrive in Manehattan, but the conversation with her mother had once more returned to what was going on in Ponyville and the like.

The pair now sat on board the train, with Tree Flower making due with a magazine she had found in their cabin, reading it quietly while Fluttershy now quietly looking out the window, focusing at her reflected image.

The first thing that struck her was how incredibly tired she looked. She had several dozen heavy bags under eyes, making her look like a raccoon. Her mane was full of split ends; in spite of the long shower she had taken that morning. Her coat’s normal bright yellow color scheme was now faded, and covered with scrapes. She could spot some bruises along her legs. She had never really had a chance to see how pitiful she looked. She looked like some sort of homeless bum who hadn’t had a full meal in weeks. She sighed sadly, her eyes now shifting focus to watch the horizon.

“Fluttershy?” her mother all of a sudden said, snapping Fluttershy out of her thoughts.

Fluttershy looked back towards her mother, who was looking at her with a gentle smile on her face, “Yes Mother?”

“Fluttershy, if you’re worrying about how you look, I think you look just fine,” Her mother said, looking at her own reflection in the window.

“Really?” Fluttershy asked, raising an eyebrow, “I look like a homeless pony.”

Tree Flower chuckled, “Well, don’t worry. When we get to Manehattan we can maybe visit a spa.”

Fluttershy smiled slightly. Even with her daughter looking utterly reprehensible, her mother still managed to find a positive aspect in all this. Her mind started to wander, moving from topic to topic randomly. Eventually, her thoughts settled onto the main subject they had been discussing since they left house. Ponyville.

A brief memory of when she bumped into Firefly passed through her mind. I wonder how’s she’s doing… she thought. A brief paranoid thought that Firefly might have been injured or something on board the train was quickly banished from her mind by the forces of logic.

Nonsense Fluttershy, she thought. She’s probably in Ponyville now…you’ve gotta relax.

But, she still couldn’t shake the gut feeling she had that something might be wrong. Her mother hadn’t mentioned Firefly at all in any of their conversations, and Fluttershy found that odd, considering how close she and Firefly’s family’s had been.

“Um...mother, can I ask you something?” she said, looking towards her mother.

“Of course, what is it?” Tree Flower asked, looking up from her magazine and nodding.

“Did I ever tell you that I bumped into Firefly a little while back?”

Tree Flower’s expression changed from the characteristic warm smile to one of curiosity. “Really? How did that happen?”

“Well, I was in a town at the train station, just trying to move to the next town, and I bumped into her. She said she was on her way back from some sort of country wide inspection or something and couldn’t wait to get home.” Fluttershy said, being careful to leave out the detail that at the time, she was trying to escape government agents.

Tree Flower’s face however, paled slightly at this, and she shifted in her seat, as if uncomfortable. “O-oh really?” she said. Fluttershy nodded.

“Um yeah. You never told me that she had a daughter. In fact you never mentioned her at all,” she added, raising an eyebrow at the way Tree Flower seemed to look. “Mother are you okay? You look worried? is something wrong?” she asked, becoming worried.

Tree Flower bit her lip, and for the first time, seemed to not want to meet Fluttershy’s eyes. It was obvious that she didn’t want to talk about whatever it was that happened to Firefly. Fluttershy closed her mouth. Did she really want to know?

“You know what...forget it,” she said, looking back out the window. “We can talk about it later Mother...I mean it’s not that important and if you don’t want to talk about it, I’m not the one to force you to talk about it. Never mind.”

Tree Flower seemed to notice how worried Fluttershy looked, and she gently tapped her hoof. “That’s alright Fluttershy, you really have no need to be worried. Firefly is fine. We’ll be in Manehattan soon anyway and at Dr. Cheerilee’s. So let’s just focus on getting there right?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Yeah okay. I’m sorry for asking you.”

And with that, they fell silent again, with Tree Flower returning to her magazine and Fluttershy refocusing her attention out the window. The minutes seemed to blend into each other, as the sun descended closer to the horizon.

“Oh look, there’s Manehattan!” Tree Flower finally said, pointing out the window. Fluttershy raised an eyebrow.

“Really? Where?” she asked, scanning for the skyline of the city. She quickly found it, sitting to the east and facing the ocean. The setting sun glinted and reflected off the glass skyscrapers as if they were giant mirrors. It looked as if the entire city were carved of crystal.

“Wow…that’s beautiful…” Fluttershy whispered, her eyes widening at the sight. She hadn’t seen Manehattan in more than ten years, and it had certainly changed. There were at least a dozen new buildings that climbed towards the sky, mixing in with the older buildings that Fluttershy recognized.

Memories of her time spent with Posey flew across her mind. Of course, all those memories ended the same way. New Fluttershy released. She closed her eyes tightly and shook her head to banish the horrid memory from her mind.

“Well,” her mother said, gazing at the city with wonder. “We’ll be arriving at the train station soon, so be prepared, okay dear?”

Fluttershy nodded, doing her best to not look troubled. She wondered if maybe someone might recognize her. And then what would happen? Would that pony call the authorities? What would happen to her mother? Would she lose control? These and at least another one thousand paranoid thoughts attacked her mind and Fluttershy could feel herself start to panic.

Her mother’s hoof appeared on her shoulder. Fluttershy’s head whipped around to face Tree Flower.

“Fluttershy….” her mother said her voice warm and her eyes kind, “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. We’re going to go to Dr. Cheerilee and everything will be fine.”

Fluttershy nodded, “O-okay…I’ll try.”

Tree Flower smiled, gently tapping Fluttershy’s shoulder, “That’s my girl.” By then, the train had finally entered the city. The train steadily slowed down, it’s brakes squeaking and shrieking as it pulled into the train station. The doors opened, flooding the train with a thousand new sounds and smells.

Tree Flower grabbed their saddlebags from the overhead compartment and beckoned for Fluttershy to stand up and they exited the train. Fluttershy clung to Tree Flower tightly as they maneuvered through the mob of ponies, diamond dogs and griffins. Fluttershy made sure to hide behind her mane as much as possible, just in case someone recognized her.

“It’s okay dear, keep calm. We’re almost out,” Tree Flower called back towards Fluttershy, leading her out of the mob and into the main central area of the station. The mob thinned and Tree Flower led them to the front door, which opened up to reveal Central Manehattan.

Fluttershy whimpered slightly at the sight of the city before her. She hadn’t seen so many ponies in her entire life. It seemingly stretched forever, with the skyscrapers forming canyons that were filled with thousands upon thousands of ponies. Dozens upon dozens of bright yellow taxi carts darted back and forth, picking up and dropping off their passengers. On either end of the staircase leading down the street were doorways heading downwards into darkness. Fluttershy assumed that those lead to the subway. Fluttershy looked up at the sight of several large zeppelins flying gracefully through the sky, looking like beautiful silver whales. Tiny brightly colored dots fluttered about, which Fluttershy assumed were pegasi.

“Well, which do you want to take?” her mother asked, looking at Fluttershy expectantly. Fluttershy snapped out of her distracted state and shrugged.

“Um…I don’t Mother…which would you prefer?” she asked.

Tree Flower thought for a moment, putting a hoof to her chin, “Well, the subway is faster…”

Fluttershy thought about that option for a second. The thought of being crammed into a tight metal container underground and surrounded by dozens of grumpy ponies was a scary one.

“Um…how about a taxi?” Fluttershy finally said, pointing towards one of the dozens of taxi cabs darting about. Tree Flower raised an eyebrow.

“Are you sure Fluttershy? That might take awhile,” she said, sounding rather reluctant.

Fluttershy nodded her head, “Well, I’m not sure I’d like to be around too many ponies…” she lowered her voice, “Just in case…New Fluttershy, you know?”

Tree Flower’s expression changed from one of confusion to understanding, “Oh…you’re right…a cab might be safer.” As she said this, her eyes started scanning the dozens of taxicabs that darted about., “Umm….” she paused, apparently trying to narrow down a potential ride. “How about that one?” she pointed to a rather new looking one that had just pulled up with the number 1646. Its paint job glinted in the sunlight and its driver looked like a reasonable fellow. Tree Flower gently lead Fluttershy down the steps and the two of them trotted towards the taxi driver.

“Excuse me! Taxi!” Tree Flower called out, catching the dark brown pony’s attention. The colt looked towards them and nodded.

“Yes ma’am?” he asked as they trotted up to him. Tree Flower smiled graciously while Fluttershy hid behind her mane.

“Hello there, we’d like to take go to…” Tree Flower paused, seemingly at a lost. The taxi driver raised an eyebrow.

“Go to….?” he asked, seemingly impatient. Tree Flower gave him a quick glare as if to say ‘hold a second’ as she tapped her chin. Fluttershy meanwhile, bit her lip, unsure of what to do. She didn’t know the address of this Dr. Cheerilee. All she knew was that it was somewhere in Manehattan. So, she decided to simply stand by. After a few more moments of thinking, Tree Flower nodded.

“Now I remember,” she chuckled, “Its 1973 SW 103rd Street, sorry for the inconvenience.“ She then fished out some spare change from her saddle bags and handed it to the driver.

The taxi driver simply shrugged, taking her money in hoof, “Whatever ma’am,” he said, as he stepped out the vehicle and opened the door for them. Tree Flower thanked him and the two ponies stepped inside. Fluttershy assaulted by the sudden burst of putrid odors and the sheer filthiness of the inside of the cab. The seats were coated with a disgusting film of dirt, crumbs and stains unknown origin. The floor was almost buried in its own distinctive array of stains, bits of moldy food and the like. Herds of dust bunnies hovered around the seat belts, and the windows could only be described as utterly and hopelessly filthy.

Fluttershy looked at Tree Flower weakly, “Um…I changed my mind, I wanna take the train.” Tree Flower looked at her sympathetically. She opened her mouth to speak but was cut off when the taxi driver suddenly glared at them.

"Oh no ya don't! Ya paid for a ride in my cab, so you're gonna ride in it. No take backs," he said, pointing towards the meter. Fluttershy's shoulders sagged.

She felt Tree Flower's hoof on her shoulder. "Do you want to go? We can still take the train," her mother said, her voice gentle. She then eyed the cab driver with disdain. "Because Celestia knows that a stallion should properly respect a mare." The cab driver simply scoffed in response.

Fluttershy paused. She once more considered the subway. It was tight and cramped, but if her memory served her right (and it had been quite awhile since she was last on one), any subway was better than this. She turned towards Tree Flower.

"Alright then," she said, stepping out of the cab, closely followed by her mother. Tree Flower gave the cab driver a dirty look as he slumped back in the driver’s seat, all the while muttering under his breath.

"You're lucky I don't report you," Tree Flower said, turning away. The cab driver simply cursed under his breath in response several incredibly vulgar words as the two mares departed.

Fluttershy simply hung her head low. She'd messed up again. And it had cost her mother at least twenty bits. A total waste. She sighed sadly. Of course things would go wrong, that's all that ever happened when she was around ponies.

"Mother...I'm sorry I made you waste your money like that..." she quietly said, all the while keeping her eyes fixed on the ground.

Tree Flower simply shrugged. "That's okay, dear. I've seen worse drivers. It wasn't your fault. He was a jerk, it couldn't be helped."

They quietly weaved their way through the crowd, with Fluttershy still hiding behind her mane. They reached the subway entrance and descended into the bowels of the subway station.

Act III - 15 - Homeward Bound

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Act III:
“Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)”

Chapter Fifteen:
“Homeward Bound”

Once aboard the subway, however, Fluttershy regretted making that decision. It was worse than crowded, it was packed. Ponies were crammed into every available inch of space, forced to stand as the subway car rocked back and forth slightly as it rushed along the rails of Manehattan's complex underground railway.

Fluttershy bit her lip reflexively and tried to read the newspaper she had found as a particular sweaty stallion to her right bumped into her as the car shook slightly as the train briefly came to a halt at one of the many stops along the way. As if on queue, a garbled voice came over the speakers announcing the stop and some of the ponies started to move, some scooting to allow room for new ponies, and others disembarking from the train. The sweaty stallion muttered an apology absentmindedly and stood up from where he was sitting to disembark. In his place, a new pony came to sit down next to Fluttershy, with Fluttershy reflexively scooting over to allow her some room. It was a young filly. She had a dark brown coat with a reddish orange mane that had a bright white streak in it for some reason. Her mane was cut so that a bang hung over her left eye, which she would blow out of her line of sight so often.

The thing that really made this pony stand out from the rest however, was her strange attire. She wore a dark green leather jacket with yellow stripes. She wore leg-length boots on her hooves, which on the forelegs blended into the sleeves of her sweater. She looked rather sullen and hunched in the corner next to Fluttershy, making sure to keep as far away as possible from the other ponies in the car.

She all of a sudden shot Fluttershy a dirty look, "Whadda youse lookin' at huh?" she asked in an incredibly thick Bronclyin accent. Fluttershy gulped and looked away, realizing that she had been staring at the filly the entire time.

"S-sorry, d-didn't m-mean to s-stare..." she whispered in response, hiding behind her mane again. “That's a nice jacket though..." she added, hoping to at least make the filly stop glaring at her so viciously.

The filly's stare lessened and she visibly relaxed a little. "Thanks," she said, shifting to look out the subway window.

Fluttershy herself shifted in her seat slightly and decided to focus on other things. For instance, there was a very interesting message scrawled with spray paint on one of the windows. Fluttershy tried her best to figure out what the message said, but couldn't make it out. She tilted her head slightly and squinted, reading the message under her breath. Her eyes widened however and she could feel herself blushing once it dawned on her exactly what the message was saying.

"Oh my..." she whispered. Fluttershy quickly returned to her newspaper with renewed vigor. She did her best to read her own choice of papers, as the rocking of the train and the constant on and off flickering of the lights only managed to enhance her constant feeling of exhaustion. The pages she had chosen consisted mostly of economic articles discussing quote: ‘The widespread economic and political ramifications of technological icon Rarity Belle’s shocking announcement of her identity as Iron Mare.’

It was the single most mind numbingly pedantic article she’d ever read. Never in her life had she read something so out of her interest zone. She glanced over the paper towards her mom, who was sleeping peacefully. Her mother apparently had fallen asleep since they boarded, and the headlines of the newspaper she had been reading lay spread open in front of her. Fluttershy quietly reached over and gently pulled the paper out so that she could read it.

She flicked the paper open and was about set about reading the headlines when the subway jerked to a halt once more, sending everyone in the subway lurching towards the left. Fluttershy could immediately tell which ponies were natives by their ambivalence towards the subways sudden stop. The doors opened and another series of ponies (including the filly in the green jacket) made their way out of their seats.

Of course, since this was a subway, there wasn’t much empty space for long, as another mob of ponies entered the subway, and the train once more lurched into motion. There was a long silence, only broken by the clitter-clack of the train on the tracks, and Fluttershy had begun to feel tired. it had been a long day, and Fluttershy honestly couldn’t wait until they finally reached this Dr. Cheerilee and were finally able to stop running and take a break. Her train of thought was interrupted by the sound of one of the train doors opening and Fluttershy turned towards the sound to see a unicorn mare with a dark grey coat and a darker brown mane entre the car. She wore a dark grey jacket and tucked herself into a corner and settled down. She then set about reading a magazine she had brought with her.

Fluttershy couldn’t quite place it, but something felt…off about the mare. Something was strangely familiar about her. She could have sworn that she saw her someplace before and also thought she caught the mysterious mare glancing towards her every so often. However, she shrugged it off.

Just you being paranoid again, Fluttershy; that mare isn’t watching you, you’re just being really paranoid. Just relax, and everything will be fine. Probably just a coincidence.

She glanced up at the map above the doorway. They were on the “R” line heading towards the Upper East Side of Manehattan. Fluttershy hoped the next stop would be theirs, since the idea of missing the stop and being forced to find another way to get to this Dr. Cheerilee her mother had spoken of was certainly unattractive.

She let out an absent minded sigh as she returned to reading articles. Most of them, unsurprisingly, concerned the much lauded Rarity Belle and her announcement. Fluttershy now felt a slight sense of relief however at the massive media blitz directed towards the unicorn. At least this meant that most ponies would be too distracted to notice her presence.

And besides, it’s not like the government knows I’m here…


Hoofcuff strode through the subway station, a Fluttershy adorned wanted poster and badge held aloft with her magic. “Excuse me, have you seen this mare?” she was quick to ask basically every pony she passed, to which most of them greeted her with a raised eyebrow, but a quick wave of her badge in their face was usually enough to get an answer out any pony who actually decided to stop. Most of the time however, they usually answered something along the lines of “I’ve never seen that mare before in my life.”

By the fiftieth pony however, Hoofcuff lost much of her resolve and had sat down on a bench, resolved to instead carefully scan the crowd, hoping that she might catch a glimpse of her target. However, another, slightly more selfish reason had factored into her volunteering to go on the street herself. The overall atmosphere of the zeppelin Iron Will used as a base of operations.

Although they had been searching for days of any sign of her, it seemed that Fluttershy had once more disappeared into the mist. Hoofcuff had quickly realized, that, unless Fluttershy had some sort of public meltdown and destroyed seven city blocks in a wild rampage, they had effectively lost her completely.

And that meant that, quite honestly, they had managed to, once more, completely waste her time. Also, on top of the wasted time, the whole environment of the zeppelin had become...unsettling. Everyone seemed edgy and generally even more shut in and tight lipped then they had been already. One pony in particular however, had done more than anyone else on the ship to make Hoofcuff feel unsettled.


Ever since his injury, which had been surprisingly minor considering the force the beast had flung him into the ground, he seemed to become even more shifty and off kilter. Every sound seemed to put him on edge, and he constantly watched everyone around him with a visible paranoia, his red eyes always darting from pony to pony, as if they were all plotting and scheming against him. Hoofcuff herself couldn’t help but think that Snowflake might not exactly be all that stable, and could possibly explode at any moment. Not to mention that General Iron Will himself seemed to be especially grumpy, going through cigars like a beaver through wood, often locking himself in his cabin for hours.

So, when the completely unexpected news that a mare matching Fluttershy’s description almost verbatim was spotted boarding a train from Tree Branch to Manehattan, Hoofcuff was quite eager to get away from the increasingly strange and odd mannerisms of the two, and finally be outdoors. Of course, as soon as this news of Fluttershy’s location had been heard, the entire zeppelin exploded to life, with crew members running about, scampering through the bowels of the airship, all to get the ship ready for it’s lightning paced trip to Manehattan International Airport.

After a rushed flight and landing, Hoofcuff had been chosen as the agent to go on the ground along with a small unit, with the express purpose of finding Fluttershy at all the major train stations in the city. And, as much as Hoofcuff dreaded having to go to train station after train station, asking around, hoping that one of the at least one million ponies within the city had seen Fluttershy….it was still a better prospect than sitting around, doing nothing on the zeppelin.

Tapping her hoof, Hoofcuff glanced up at the timetable, scanning and hoping that the train from Tree Branch would be displayed. To her knowledge, there were no stops from Tree Branch to Manehattan, which meant that, whichever train coming in from Tree Branch, would most likely be the train on which Fluttershy was boarding. The garbled sound of an announcement caught Hoofcuff's attention and her ears perked up, her eyes tracking the rush of arriving trains and their respective places of origin.

Finally, She thought, taking delight at the sight of Tree Branch as one of the towns on the list. Time to finish this...

She started towards the lower levels where the actual train ran, once more holding out her badge and the wanted poster. She held each in front of every pony she passed, muttering a constant stream of angry expletives as each pony was quick to answer with either a “No,” or with a “Get that stupid thing outta my face ya kook.”

She was about to reach the end of her rope and throw in the towel when she bumped into someone, sending her tumbling to the ground, papers and badge spilled over the floor.

“Hey! Watch where’s youse is goin’!” came the angry voice of the young filly she had bumped into, who glared at her while she adjusted her dark green and yellow jacket. Hoofcuff meanwhile concentrated on picking up her papers and badge, scooping them up in her magic.

“Sorry,” she muttered, clipping her badge on her jacket and starting to fold up the wanted posters so that she could better stuff them inside her jacket.

“Hey, you dropped one,” The filly said, picking it up and looking it over. “Hey, I think I saw this pony…”

Hoofcuff’s ears instantly perked and she looked towards the filly. “Really? Where?” she asked, not really noticing how desperate she must have sounded. The filly gave her a funny look.

“Um...yeah I did. On that train there,” she said, pointing towards the subway train, which was already filling with new ponies and closing it’s doors. Hoofcuff bolted towards the train as fast as her legs could carry her, leaving the filly behind.

She tugged at her walkie talkie with her magic, lifting it to her mouth. “This is Marshall Hoofcuff. I think I know where Fluttershy is,”

Where?” Came the fuzzy response over the walkie talkie. Hoofcuff quickly glanced up at the station identification.

“E-Street Station, R line!” she barked, already shouting her name and rank over the crowd of ponies that had either just left the train, or were waiting for the next one in order to clear a path.

Roger that, sending backup.” came the response.

“Too damn late the train’s already moving!” she replied, “And I’m not missing it.”

She finally broke through the mob of ponies just as the door of the train closed and the train began to chug forward, it’s wheels clattering and sparking. Hoofcuff increased her pace, swearing under her breath, hoping against hope that she could at least hop onto the back of the train before it left the station. With only seconds to spare, she made a flying leap towards the rear of the swiftly departing train and landed, her hooves instantly grabbing onto the handles as if her life depended on it. She let out a loud sigh of relief as she regained her footing, and tapped at the window, where the stunned engineer gawked at her.

She cast him a quick glance before levitating her badge at the window. “This is NEIGHS Agent Hoofcuff! Let me in!” she ordered, and the engineer quickly nodded, opening the door for her.

“Why in Celestia’s name are you riding the back of my train?” the engineer asked, completely baffled. Hoofcuff simply gave him a blank expression.

“I’m selling vacuum cleaners.” she deadpanned, ignoring his attempts to ask any further as she left the caboose and entered the next car, quickly pinning down the small flaps of plastic to cover up her NEIGHS decals. She smoothed her mane slightly from the wild ruffle that it was currently in, and popped her collar, doing her best to disguise herself as inconspicuously as possible. She ignored the odd whispers and pointed glances from various passengers, instead intensely scanning the car, hoping that she was in fact on the right train and that odd filly hadn’t been mistaken. She felt herself smile when she caught sight of a bright pink mane through the dirty subway window that belong to whichever pony was in the next car. She was quick to crossover, ignoring the burst of noise that came with the open door and the clattering of the subway beneath her hooves as she crossed the empty space between cars. She discreetly closed the door behind her, and inwardly cheered when she was greeted by the sight of Fluttershy, who seemed more concerned with the newspaper she was reading. Next to her was Tree Flower, who was fast asleep, looking like a living breathing greeting card. Hoofcuff clamped her mouth shut, instead focusing on finding a good place where she could both watch Fluttershy and also not be noticed by the pegasus.

She squeezed herself into the first empty chair, being sure to tuck herself behind the large stallion who stood between her and Fluttershy. Without saying a word, she made do with closely watching Fluttershy, quickly focusing her attention elsewhere when Fluttershy glanced in her direction.

Fluttershy meanwhile, refocused her attention back on the newspaper, paging through it to find an article that was a little more inside her interest zone, preferably something involving animals. Her eyes were drawn to a rather bizarre little story involving a chicken, two weasels and a crocodile, and how their owner had somehow managed to get them all accidentally inside the local supermarket, where they caused quite a stir. Fluttershy couldn’t help but giggle slightly at the mental imagery of dozens of ponies all running about in a wild frenzy trying to catch all those animals.

She felt a stirring next to her, and turned to see Tree Flower blinking tiredly, yawning and stretching. “Oh hi Mother,” Fluttershy said, scooting in her seat to allow her mother a little more room. Her mother nodded, rubbing away the last of her sleep.

“Wow I really needed that,” she said contently. “That today’s paper?” she asked, and Fluttershy nodded, handing her mother the newspaper.

“Thank you dear,” Tree Flower said, giving her a gentle hug and taking the newspaper from her and already beginning to page through it, eventually settling on a random article on the recent local news. Fluttershy looked up at the map of the subway system that was pinned over the door.

Just one more stop, she thought, a thin smile on her face. And this nightmare is going to be over.


General Iron Will sat in his office, a thick billowing cloud of smoke ebbing from his cigar. He had finally been given a blessed windfall, and had been able to discern Fluttershy’s location. It seemed that fate was going to be especially kind to him, as Agent Hoofcuff had been unexpectedly eager to actively trail Fluttershy.

Figures...mares do tend to get skittish. he thought, already having received a message from Hoofcuff that she was at the train station and on the lookout. Now just to wait, and hope that the train hadn’t gone cold again.

There was a sharp knock at his door and he shifted in his chair.

“It’s unlocked.” he said, taking the cigar out of his mouth and putting it out in the ash tray. The door opened to reveal a tan earth pony with a paper in her mouth.

“Message for you sir,” he said around the paper, trotting up to the desk and placing it in front of Iron Will. Iron Will nodded, saying nothing and reading the note. A satisfied grin spread across his face. Even with her constant complaining and defiance, Hoofcuff had proven useful once again.

“Get everyone ready, Spring Seed. We have found our mare.”


Fluttershy and Tree Flower made their way out of the bowels of the subway, with Fluttershy glad to finally distance herself from such a mass of ponies. They came to a stop on the street corner, with Tree Flower reaching into her saddle bag to pull out a street map they had bought in the station on the way up.

“Alrighty then…where to next…” Tree Flower muttered, scanning the map. “What was that address again…ah here it is! 1973 SW 103rd Street, which is….” she looked up from the map, squinting to read the addresses of the buildings around them. A bright smile appeared on her face. “RIght down this block! Well...what are the chances of that.” she chirped, tucking the map back in the saddle bag.

“Let’s go Fluttershy.” she said, starting across the street with Fluttershy silently tailing her from behind.

Completely unbeknownst to the two ponies, another pony was following close behind. Her ruffled brown mane blew in the autumn breeze and she once more popped her collar up, following a good three or four paces as not to attract their attention.

“This is Agent Hoofcuff...I’m on their tail. They’re heading for one of the brownstones on SW 103rd Street.”

Roger that,” came Iron Will’s response. “Just don’t make a move until we get here. That’s an order.

Hoofcuff rolled her eyes and let her shoulders sag. She could quite logically just notify the local police herself, and therefore save tons of time and finally be free of all this, but once more, General Iron Will had INSISTED that she stay behind. Just go along with it ‘Cuff, she thought, biting her lip. You’re too close to the finish line to screw up now….so close…

“Roger that…” she replied darkly, stuffing her walkie talkie in her windbreaker and continuing behind her targets.

Act III - 16 - The Storm Clouds Gather

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Act III:
“Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)”

Chapter Sixteen:
"The Storm Clouds Gather"

Fluttershy and Tree Flower stood on the steps of the relatively unadorned brownstone building just across the street from Manehattan’s prestigious Celestial Park. On the door in front of them, was a small sign that said “Dr. Cheerilee, Biochemist”.

“Well, here we are,” Tree Flower said, looking towards Fluttershy. “Are you ready Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy simply nodded without saying a word. She honestly was just happy that they had managed to get this far without being found out or her losing control. Tree Flower meanwhile, seemed relieved as well, as she smiled kindly and knocked on the door. There was a long, awkward pause as the two awaited a response.

“Well that’s odd,” Tree Flower muttered, once more knocking on the door, this time with a little more force. Fluttershy meanwhile, took this as an opportunity to get a better bearing on her surroundings. The streets were impeccably clean and well maintained, with an almost postcard level of tidiness exuding from the look of everything. The windows on all the buildings were nicely polished so that they reflected the setting sun brightly, and across the street was a grove of trees inside the boundaries of Celestial Park. Fluttershy felt a chill run through her as an unexpectedly crisp breeze swept through the air, sending the leaves on the ground tumbling and twirling through the air.

Autumn must be coming… she thought, taking notice of the vivid kaleidoscope of color that the tree leaves had turned. Probably should have packed a jacket, she thought wistfully, as she was quick to remember what had happened as soon as they left the house and how little good a jacket would have been. The streets themselves were also calm and idyllic, with only a few ponies walking about, all dressed in what looked like comfortable sweaters or jackets. On the benches on the edge of the park were several couples, some nuzzling each other lovingly. Fluttershy felt a pit develop in her stomach at the sight of the gentle nuzzling. She knew that, unless her mother was right and this Dr. Cheerilee had some sort of miracle cure for Fluttershy’s alter-ego, she would never be able to truly experience anything remotely like that. She’d never be able to really have a romantic relationship, as there would always be the risk...the risk that it would all go wrong and collapse around her, just like it had a thousand times before.

She bit her lip, refocusing her attention to a random lightpost. Don’t think that Fluttershy, she mentally scolded herself, Maybe there’s still a chance… her train of thought trailed off when she noticed that the lightpost was missing the wanted posters she had seen adorning much of Ponyville. The thought that her face wasn’t being shown on billboards or posters for all to see was enough to calm her nerves slightly, and she felt a wistful smile spread across her face.

At least nopony will recognize me, she thought, the sound of her mother now practically slamming at the door catching her attention.

“Damn it! What does it take to get noticed!?” Tree Flower grumbled, moving to press down on the doorbell, and Fluttershy could hear the muffled sound of it ringing inside the house. Tree Flower lifted her hoof from the button, and tapped it impatiently against the ground. There was the sound of what sounded like shuffling hoofsteps, interlaced with the sound of plastic hitting the door. The sound of locks tumbling and muffled muttering greeted their ears and the door swung open to reveal a grape colored earth pony with a slightly lighter shade of purple mane, which looked a tad disheveled. She wore a slightly over sized snow white lab coat.

“I’m so sorry for making you wait,” she apologized, before looking towards Tree Flower. “I assume you’re Mrs. Flower?”

Tree Flower nodded, her previous iteration seemingly having evaporated and she smiled. “Yes I am. And this is my daughter, Fluttershy,” she added, motioning towards Fluttershy. Fluttershy reflectively hid behind her mane. Just in case.

“Wonderful, I’m Dr. Cheerilee,” the purple earth pony said, extending a hoof in greeting. Tree Flower reached out to shake it before pausing and looking down at the extended hoof. Fluttershy looked towards the hoof and felt her eyes widen ever so slightly at the sight of shiny plastic instead of a normal hoof. Cheerilee seemed to notice this as well, as she glanced down at her artificial hoof and quickly retracted it.

“Oops, sorry about that,” she said, switching to her left hoof. Tree Flower shook her head.

“No, that’s okay, I shouldn’t have stared, that was rude of me.” Cheerliee nodded her head in acknowledgement.

“Well, we all make mistakes, and I’m kinda use to it by now. Care to come in?” she asked, motioning for them to step inside. Cheerilee stepped aside, allowing Tree Flower and Fluttershy to enter. Cheerilee led them down the somewhat cramped hallway into what seemed to be her living room, given the elegant carpet that muffled their hoofsteps and the couch tucked in the corner next to the window.

“Nice room,” Fluttershy said quietly, admiring the patterns in the carpet. Cheerilee nodded.

“Thank you. You can sit, I’ll get you both some coffee then?”

Fluttershy shook her head, with Tree Flower taking notice. “I think we’d prefer tea.” she said.

“Alright then, tea,” Cheerilee said, walking off into the kitchen. As the carpet gave way to linoleum flooring, Fluttershy could hear the shuffle of hooves and plastic on the floor. Fluttershy's expression was pensive. She honestly had never seen an amputee in her life, since most of her life had been spent moving from town to town in a constant state of fear, so seeing a pony who was missing a leg seemed rather...off. But Cheerilee seemed to be a happy pony, despite of the disability, and Fluttershy knew it would most likely be taken the wrong way if she were to ask how it was lost.

“Fluttershy, you can sit down you know,” her mother said, moving to sit on the couch. Fluttershy nodded and sat down, letting out a sigh of relief to finally be resting her legs. However, the fact that the couch was right next to the window, allowing anyone outside to have a peak inside.

“Well, are you ready Fluttershy?” Tree Flower asked. Fluttershy shrugged slightly.

“I’m not sure Mother...I mean, we haven’t been seen or anything...but..."

"You feel worried?" Tree Flower asked. Fluttershy nodded.

“Yeah...I mean, it just feels too easy. I mean...how do you know this pony can be trusted?” Fluttershy asked, not even really noticing how worried she sounded. Tree Flower gave her another kind smile and a comforting hoof on the shoulder.

“Don’t worry Fluttershy. I checked my references. She checked out just fine. Remember, don’t let all that fear you have control your life. You have to let it go, start trusting ponies a little more. Not everypony in this world is out to get you. And besides, we’ve gotten this far without incident, so have some faith.”

Fluttershy sighed, looking down at the carpet, “Oh...okay then. If you say so. But if I get to stressed can we leave?”

Tree Flower nodded. “Sure. You know I would never knowingly put you at risk. I’m your mother after all.”

“Here you go,” came Cheerilee’s voice, and Fluttershy looked over Tree Flower’s shoulder to see the purple earth pony walking in, holding the cups of tea on a trey that wobbled precariously in the grip of her mouth. She set it down on the coffee table. “Nice fresh chai tea.”

“Wonderful,” Tree Flower complemented, taking a glass in hoof as she helped steady the tray. Fluttershy smiled and took her own glass in hoof. It had been a long time since she last had tea, and she relished the somewhat spicy flavor of it on her tongue.

The trio sat there quietly for a while, all sipping their respective glasses of tea, until Cheerilee spoke up. “So...Miss Fluttershy,” she started, looking towards Fluttershy. “Might I ask exactly what your problem is?”

Fluttershy shifted on the couch slightly. She honestly still wasn’t a hundred percent sure if this pony was trustworthy, and Fluttershy honestly feared that, if she gave away too much information, Cheerilee might make the connection between her and New Fluttershy. And then what would happen? Most likely a panicked run to the nearest phone and calling the authorities. Tree Flower seemed to notice Fluttershy’s unease, as she put a hoof on her shoulder before turning to Cheerilee.

“Well, Dr. Cheerilee, my daughter would prefer not to talk about the exact details of her problem.”

Cheerilee’s expression soured slightly, “Well, then how am I supposed to know what to do to help her? I need to know all the fact Mrs. Flower.”

Tree Flower nodded. “Of course, which is why, I will talk to you on her behalf. Would you like that Fluttershy?” she asked, turning towards Fluttershy. Fluttershy shrugged slightly.

“I s-suppose.” she murmured, her voice hushed. Tree Flower smiled and leaned a little closer.

“Don’t worry dear,” she whispered. “I’ll just tell her what she needs to know. Nothing else, okay?”

“Alright then,” Fluttershy replied, shifting on the couch again, this time more to get a little more comfortable then out of any real fear. She was happy that it was her mother telling the story rather than herself. That at least meant she didn’t have to worry about slipping up out of her own paranoia.

With that, Tree Flower stood up from the couch.

“So, where would you prefer to talk about it?” Cheerilee asked.

“Any place would be nice,” Tree Flower replied. Cheerilee nodded.

“I guess the kitchen will do...I’ve got more tea brewing anyways. Come then,” and with that, the two earth ponies retreated into the kitchen, leaving Fluttershy alone. Now that she was alone, Fluttershy had nothing to do other than familiarize herself with her surroundings, as her predominant focus before was mostly getting inside the house and away from any potential prying eyes.

The walls were painted a relatively calming shade of off white, while the carpeting was a rich auburn. All around the room were scattered bookcases of various sizes, all practically overflowing with books of various kinds. Out of curiosity, Fluttershy quietly stood up from the couch, walking over to better see the contents of a particular bookcase that was nearby. Unsurprisingly, most of the books seemed to be large, thickly bound manuals and field guides to various aspects of biology. However, one topic above all others stood out among the books. Almost all of the books were about reptiles, with titles ranging from, “Herpetology for Dummies: A Beginner's Guide to the World of Dragons, Lizards, Turtles and Snakes”, to “Regrowth: The Miraculous Healing Regenerative Properties of Lizards and Their Potential Application in the Modern Medical World”, which appeared to have been written by Dr. Cheerilee herself. Fluttershy furrowed her brow. Even with her love of animals, she had never quite been as comfortable around things with scales, instead preferring little critters with lots of fur and whiskers. I wonder if she has any books about bunnies, she thought absent mindedly, nostalgic memories of her pet rabbit drifting through her mind.

In the background, she could hear the disembodied voices of her mother and Dr. Cheerilee, with them apparently engaged in hushed conversation. She could tell they were actively talking about her at that very moment, and what exactly that entailed, as her own name would pop up every so often, usually followed by what sounded like quite a bit of complicated science talk and medical technobabble.

Fluttershy returned her attention to the bookcases. Not polite to listen in like that, she told herself. It’s rude. She scanned her hoof along the books, being sure not to get any too dirty, as they all seemed to be very well taken care of and several of them looked quite old. Here we are! she smiled as she finally found a book with the word ‘Rodent’ on it. She pulled the book out and looked at the title. Her heart froze.

The title of the book was “Nutritious Rodents: How to Properly Feed Your Pet Snake with a Cornucopia of Rabbits, Rats and Mice” by a certain Hearty Meal. Fluttershy was quick to put the book back where she found it, her body involuntary shivering at the morbid image on the cover of a snake trying to swallow a rabbit that seemed to be three times the size of the snake. It didn’t help that above the snakes head was a thought balloon that said “Yummy!”

Fluttershy quickly looked around for something else to attract her attention. Preferably something that wasn’t nearly as morbid as snakes eating baby bunnies. Her eyes landed on what seemed to be a large coffee table book lying lengthwise on one of the bookshelves. “Dazzling Jewels: The World’s Most Beautiful Reptiles” it was named, and Fluttershy gently pulled it off the shelf and walked back to the couch, setting it gently on the coffee table nearby. She opened it, immediately being greeted by a tremendously beautiful brightly colored photograph of a Griffinheim Green Lizard sitting proudly on a rock.

Fluttershy felt some relief come over at the sight of natures beauty, and therefore spent the next few minutes paging through the book, admiring the various wild and beautiful color schemes of reptiles from around the globe. However, the sound of oncoming hoofsteps caught her attention and she looked up to see Dr. Cheerilee and her mother entering the living room again, having apparently finished the conversation. Fluttershy could tell by the way Dr. Cheerilee looked at her that she was now fully in the know as to what exactly was Fluttershy’s...condition.

“Well, Miss Fluttershy,” Dr. Cheerilee said, sitting in a chair across from the couch. “You’re mother told me about your, um….condition, and how it affects your life, and suffice to say that I give you my deepest condolences.”

Fluttershy smiled, “Thank you.” Dr. Cheerilee nodded, obviously still a tad uncomfortable.

“Well, I might already have a solution, but it’s only based on an assumption. In order to better test it, I would require a blood sample.”

“Blood sample?” Fluttershy asked. The idea of getting a needle jabbed into her was certainly unattractive.

“Yes, but don’t worry, we don’t have to leave here. I have a fully functioning laboratory upstairs. Not quite as fancy as the one I have at Rich Corp, but it’s still quite well set up and I think we can find the solution without having to bring anypony else into the loop. Would you mind me taking a sample to test?”

Fluttershy looked towards Tree Flower, as if she held some secret answer. Tree Flower simply nodded, “It’s okay Fluttershy.” Fluttershy shifted on the couch again, her eyes drifting about the room.

“Um...okay….I guess,” she murmured. Dr. Cheerilee’s expression brightened at that, and she stood up from the chair.

“Excellent. Now, let me take you upstairs and we can sort this…” she paused, and there was a hint of trepidation in her expression, as if she were unsure of herself, “....dilemma of yours,” she finally said, putting on a slightly larger than necessary grin. Tree Flower beckoned for Fluttershy to follow, and the trio started out of the living room and down the hall again. Dr. Cheerilee led them aways down the hall, eventually stopping before a polished stainless steel door.

“We’ll take my elevator,” Dr. Cheerilee said, pressing a button next to the doorway.

“I didn’t know you had an elevator,” Fluttershy said out of curiosity. Dr. Cheerilee nodded.

“Oh yeah. Had it installed after…” she motioned to her prosthetic limb. “Just to make it a little easier to get around and all," she said, trailing off. Her voice seemingly perfectly at ease with her missing limb, but Fluttershy had a feeling that she shouldn't press the issue any further than this, since she could tell that the look on Dr. Cheerilee's face was one of wistful nostalgia. Probably would be rude to ask anyways... Fluttershy thought, as the trio stepped inside the small elevator and started upwards.


Hoofcuff watched as the pair entered the brownstone, while trying her best to blend in. She sat on the park bench, actually enjoying the crisp breeze that was blowing through the air. She wondered if it was a good idea to follow into the building, but a quick glance through the window revealed that most likely, this wasn’t just an office building, but rather someone’s home. And that would require a warrant, and that would require bringing in the entire Manehattan legal system. Not exactly the subtle “walk in, walk out” style capture she would have preferred. She'd entertained the idea of calling NEIGHS, but figured that would just get Iron Will even more angry at her, which would just lead to disaster.

The low sound of what sounded like a low flying zeppelin caught her ears and she glanced up to see the familiar, whale-like shape of General Iron Will’s zeppelin looming over the skyline. Really subtle genius, she thought, furrowing her brow and reaching for her walkie talkie.

“Hoofcuff here, General I can see you, over.”

Yes. We know. We’re sending a pony down to provide back up and get everything ready.

“Well, can you try and be a little more subtle, they’ll probably hear the airship.”

Don’t worry, Marshall,” scoffed General Iron Will. “We’ve got everything covered. Now, where exactly is the target?” Hoofcuff’s eyes darted back to the window across the street.

“She entered the brownstone on SW 103rd Street. And what do you mean send me backup?” Hoofcuff replied.

Look up and you’ll see.” Iron Will replied. Hoofcuff looked up to see a small, white dot descending from the zeppelin above. As it came closer, Hoofcuff could make it out to be a pegasus. Something in her gut told her that she was probably going to be very familiar with whomever it was Iron Will sending.

“Snowflake…” she grumbled once the pegasus in question came into focus, landing a couple of feet to Hoofcuff’s left. Hoofcuff’s eyes narrowed and her eyebrow arched at the sight of at least three large, black saddlebags that Snowflake had strapped to his body. Before, he seemed to be simply on the edge; now he looked as if he was ready to explode at any given moment. His red eyes darted towards Hoofcuff and he tersely nodded his head in acknowledgement.

“Snowflake,” she said, trying her best to sound level. “How you doing?”

“Good, good,” he replied. “Where is she?” he asked, and Hoofcuff could sense the tension in his voice. it was as if the very idea of him having to wait to capture Fluttershy made him stressed.

“She’s over there. But we’re not supposed to make a move apparently until everypony gets here,” Hoofcuff replied, watching warily as Snowflake pulled out a long barrelled sniper rifle that looked more like a cannon. Snowflake seemed to visibly tense up at those words, and his eyes darted towards a nearby oak tree.

“If you need me, I’ll be in there.” he said, flapping his wings and disappearing into the bushley top of the tree. Hoofcuff nodded glumly.

“Sure thing…” she called out, already hearing the rustling of the tree branches. With that sound, she hunched slightly. The wind seemed to grow just a little more cold, and a touch more biting, and she was honestly fearful. Something about the way Snowflake was acting, and the sheer over-the-topness of the weaponry he had brought with him only managed to enhance her fear that everything was probably going to go wrong. Now that she thought about it, everything had been just a little too easy, too straight forward over the past few hours.

I just hope this doesn’t end in disaster, she thought, as her eyes watched the zeppelin overhead bank gently towards the park.

Act III - 17 - Strike When the Moment is Right

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Act III:
“Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)”

Chapter Seventeen:
"Strike When the Moment is Right"

“And here we are,” Dr. Cheerilee said, leading them into the laboratory. Fluttershy’s eyes widened at the sight of dozens of pieces of advanced computers and laboratory equipment. There were several chairs, all with wheels, scattered about the room, and the various computers all beeped and chirped.

“Have a seat there,” Cheerilee said, motioning towards a weathered couch in the corner. Tree Flower and Fluttershy made a beeline towards it, sitting down and both attempting to get comfortable. Fluttershy continued to study the room, noticing the large number of terrariums, all with various reptiles, mostly lizards, lining the walls.

“I see you like reptiles,” Tree Flower said, looking around the room. Dr. Cheerilee, who was now standing across the room rummaging through some draws nodded.

“Yeah. I specialize in herpetology,” she said, pulling out what looked like a box of needles.

“Really?” Tree Flower asked.

“Yeah huh,” Dr. Cheerilee replied, turning to trot over to them, box in mouth, and sitting in front of Fluttershy. “They’re so interesting. You know that lizards can regrow their tails?”

“Yeah,” Fluttershy replied, speaking for the first time. Dr. Cheerilee smiled towards her kindly, motioning towards Fluttershy’s arm. Fluttershy looked towards Tree Flower worriedly, and Tree Flower simply smiled. Reluctantly, Fluttershy extended her leg, and Dr. Cheerilee took it in hoof, rolling up the sleeve and motioning towards the box.

“Ms. Flower, would you mind opening that, I need you to open the antiseptic wipes okay?" She asked, and Tree Flower nodded, reaching for the box and opening it, pulling out a small packet that was labed 'Antiseptic Wipes'.

"These wipes right?" She asked, holding the packet towards Dr. Cheerilee. Dr. Cheerilee nodded.

"Exactly. Would you mind opening that pack?" She asked, and Tree Flower nodded. Dr. Cheerilee turned back to Fluttershy, still smiling.

"Alright then Miss Fluttershy, would you mind telling me about any symptoms that you have? Just so I have the information right from the source." She asked, raising an eyebrow as she took the fresh wipe from Tree Flower and rubbed it along a spot on Fluttershy's foreleg. Fluttershy took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to describe her problem.

"W-well," she started, her voice still quiet. "Usually, after an...accident, I can't remember what happened." As Dr. Cheerilee rubbed another wipe over the same area, and Fluttershy could feel the spot grow slightly numb.

"You can't remember?" Dr. Cheerilee asked, her voice curious as she reached into the box and pulled out a large needle. Fluttershy felt her breath hitch and her heart rate jump at the sight of the needle.

"Oh no...not that," she whimpered, catching Dr. Cheerilee and Tree Flower's attention.

"What? The needle?" Dr. Cheerilee asked, concern in her voice. Fluttershy nodded, looking towards the needle fearfully. Dr. Cheerilee seemed to notice her fear as she put her artificial arm on Fluttershy's shoulder. "Look, I do need to take a blood sample and the needle is only way I can get it. If you want, you can close your eyes so you don't see it. That better? And I even put anesthesia there so all you'll feel is a pinch."

Fluttershy bit her lip fearfully before closing her eyes tightly and leaning against Tree Flower, who was already gently rubbing Fluttershy's back. she then held her trembling arm out again, and felt a sharp prick, followed a dull thudding ache.

“And there we go, that’s a good sample.” she heard Dr. Cheerilee say, and Fluttershy opened her eyes to see Dr. Cheerilee dabbing a piece of gauze where the needle had just been.

“Th-that’s it?” Fluttershy asked, hoping she wouldn’t have to get anymore needle punctures. Dr. Cheerilee nodded.

“Yeah, that’s it. I’m going to take this blood sample, and I’ll see if there’s anything to deduce from it.” she said as she stood up, vial in hoof, and walked over to the machine. “So,” she said, placing the vial in what looked like some sort of spinning mechanism which spun the vial gently, swishing the blood inside around. “What about your symptoms?” she asked, turning to face Fluttershy.

“You said you can’t remember what happened?” she added, arching an eyebrow. Fluttershy nodded reluctantly, biting her lip slightly.

“Y-yeah…” she replied, hiding behind her mane. Dr. Cheerilee nodded.

“Hmm...interesting. Anything else? Like do you remember what happens before you…” she wiggled her hoof slightly. “...transform?”

“W-well, usually I just feel sc-scared or angry….” Fluttershy said. “I’d really rather not talk about it if that’s okay with you.”

Dr. Cheerilee nodded. “No of course, that makes sense. It’s probably an incredibly harrowing experience for you,” Fluttershy noticed that she rubbed her prosthetic arm absentmindedly as she said this. There was a noticeable pause as the three ponies simply looked at each other awkwardly, unsure of what to say next. Fluttershy could see that Dr. Cheerilee was thinking of something, but Fluttershy had no idea what might be going on in the doctor's mind.

There was an electronic ping and Dr. Cheerilee’s eyes darted back towards the machine behind her. “Ah, there we are…” she said, turning and taking the vial from the machine, and opening the top. Taking what looked like an oversized eyedropper in her normal hoof, she extracted a small amount of blood from the vial and poured it into another, slightly smaller vial. She then picked up another eyedropper filled with a yellowish liquid.

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing Dr. Cheerilee?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m just adding some chemicals to it in order to see if my hunch is correct.”

“Hunch? What hunch?” Tree Flower asked, and Fluttershy actually noticed that she hadn’t spoken much since they entered the room. Her expression seemed serious, and her voice sounded suspicious. Dr. Cheerilee glanced over her shoulder.

“Well, from what Fluttershy is telling me, since it seems that her problem might be adrenal based, since she mentioned either feeling angry or stressed…” she poured the contents of the eyedropper into the smaller vial. “So, if my theory is correct, that means that this special adrenal chemical mixture I’ve made should create some sort of chemical reaction.”

Fluttershy and Tree Flower nodded in synch, but Fluttershy honestly had only heard lots of sciencey technobabble. She honestly worried what it all meant, and something inside her made her feel uneasy, as if they were tampering with something that should be left alone.

“Chemical reaction?” Tree Flower asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well yes. Basically, if my assumption is correct, it will mimic whatever transformation Fluttershy undergoes, but on a smaller scale,” Cheerilee answered, placing the vial of blood back on the machine, and setting into motion. As the machine spun, Fluttershy watched as the yellow liquid and the blood mixed together. As the vial spun around, Fluttershy felt her stomach twist at the sight of her blood turning a shade of dark green.

“Oh my…” Dr. Cheerilee said, arching an eyebrow at the sight of the blood changing color. “That’s not at all expected…” She murmured as the blood in the vial soon began to bubble and fizzle as if it were boiling before bubbling over out of the vial. Dr. Cheerilee was quick to switch the machine off and the vial stopped spinning, with the contents inside spilling all over the counter.

There was another rather awkward pause as the three ponies looked at the green blood, which seemed to be slowly be returning to it’s rich crimson color. Fluttershy simply blinked. The idea that her own blood, isolated from her very body, could still be able to undergo such a monstrous transformation made her whole body shiver involuntarily. But, still, it seemed that, once it had stopped being agitated, it had returned to it’s normal, red color.

“What happened?” she asked, looking towards Dr. Cheerilee, who also seemed to be pondering the spilled blood.

“Well….it seems to be that whenever your adrenaline levels go up, which I just simulated, it means that your blood undergoes a vast chemical transformation. But apparently, whenever your adrenaline levels go down, everything reverts to normal.”

Fluttershy nodded slightly, still unsure of what exactly Dr. Cheerilee was talking about. She honestly wished she had read up on biology on the way over, so that she wouldn’t be so out of the loop. She let out a confused sigh. “This is so confusing…” she said softly.

Dr. Cheerilee meanwhile, rubbed her chin. This case was...interesting. It seemed that this pony’s problem involved complex adrenaline chemical interactions. I wonder if… she thought, the gears in her head turning as she trotted towards a nearby shelf. She scanned it, her eyes landing on a vial labled “Haloperidol”. Here we go…

“Okay I think I have an idea for another test.” she said, turning towards Fluttershy and Tree Flower. Tree Flower raised an eyebrow.

“Another test? Why?” she asked, her voice now incredulous.

“Well, in this case, we only saw what happens when the blood has adrenaline in it. Now, since we all want to find a way to prevent such a transformation from happening in the first place, we need to induce another transforma-”

NO." Tree Flower cut Dr. Cheerilee off with such venom that both Fluttershy and Cheerilee flinched. “I will not allow you to turn my daughter into a laboratory experiment. She’s already gone through enough and I’m not about to let you inject her with some random chemical.”

“You didn’t let me finish Miss Flower,” Dr. Cheerilee said, holding up a hoof. “I didn’t say I was just going to inject random chemicals into your daughter.”

“Well that’s what it sounded like to me!” Tree Flower rebutted, standing up from the chair. “How else are you supposed to ‘induce a transformation’?”

“Miss Flower please, I understand why you’re worried. I would be worried too. But this is the only way we can be sure that my theory is going to work.”

“What theory? Are you saying that you just came up with one now?”

“No. And my theory is that maybe if we were to induce a transformation using my adrenal serum, we can administer a sedative and perhaps counter act the transformation.”

“But that means putting lives at risk!”

Fluttershy hadn’t said a word, just watching both Dr. Cheerilee and Tree Flower argue viciously. She’d never seen her mother look so viciously angry before in her life.

“...Mother,” Fluttershy said quietly, looking towards her mother worriedly.

“I’m trying to help your daughter” Dr. Cheerilee said, taking a step forward.

“By forcing a transformation!?!” Tree Flower replied, her voice becoming harsher and taking her own step forward.

Fluttershy bit her lip, turning towards Dr. Cheerilee. “..Doctor”

However, it seemed that both Cheerilee and Tree Flower were too busy to notice Fluttershy’s now fearful expression. “This is for the best and it...” Dr. Cheerilee began, before Tree Flower cut her off again.

“The BEST?!? How can putting dozens if not hundreds of lives at risk be for the best?!” she spat, now directly in Dr. Cheerilee’s face.

Dr. Cheerilee shook her head, blinking rapidly. “I don't want to put lives at risk, but don't you want to cure your daughter? There's always going to be some risk involv-"

"Some risk involved would be an understatement! You don't even know what she's capable of and you’re just going to go in on a hunch?!"

“DOCTOR! MOTHER!” Fluttershy practically shrieked, causing both Dr. Cheerilee and Tree Flower to clamp their mouths shut and look towards Fluttershy in shock.

“Stop fighting both of you!” Fluttershy shouted, barely even noticing the blood pounding in her ears. “Don’t I have a choice in this matter, mother?! You’re always telling me to stop letting my fear control me and make a decision, but then when I’m finally asked by someone to make a decision, you say no! Why?!”

“Fluttershy, calm down. she was going to make you transform again.” Tree Flower replied, her voice still stern. "And we just can't risk that."

"Calm down?! Don't you think I know that mother?! You're not the one who has spent years knowing that every time I'm in a room with someone, I run the risk of squashing them like a bug! I want that to stop! I want to be free!" Fluttershy replied, now with tears in her eyes. "I'm just sick and tired of all this running and lying and I just want all this fighting to stop!"

As soon as these words left her lips, Fluttershy felt a piercing pain at the back of her neck and everything suddenly seemed to go fuzzy, with Dr. Cheerilee's and Tree Flower's voices sounding murky and hard to define. Alarm bells were going off in her brain in a wild frenzy, but all Fluttershy could do was stumble forward, her legs seemingly having turned to liquid and she could only just make out her mother shouting her name in panic. Next thing Fluttershy knew she was face first with the floor and everything went black.


Snowflake hunkered down in his hidden position perched up in a tree across from the doctor’s office. He had insisted on taking this rather vulnerable position himself, as it gave him a clear view into the building across the street. Luckily enough, the foolish scientist who owned the building had left the window curtains open, giving the pegasus a perfect shot into the upstairs laboratory should the need arise.

A grim smile crossed his face when he caught sight of the familiar yellow figure of his target. He was about to announce that he had a shot when a pony he had been briefed on during the trip to Manehattan stepped in the way. It was a middle aged mare with a coral coat and reddish brown mane. Another pony Snowflake couldn’t recognize stepped into his line of sight as well, ruining any chances of a shot. It was a purple earth pony mare in a white lab coat. Snowflake assumed it was the scientist. The three ponies moved about the room, Snowflake grumbling in frustration as any potential shot was ruined by their constant movement.

Just then, Fluttershy stepped back into his line of sight and sat down on the couch, her mouth moving as she spoke with the scientist. Snowflake practically beamed. Fate must have been smiling on him today, as the couch she sat in was perfectly in his line of sight.

“This is Snowflake called Iron Will. I have a shot sir,” he spoke into the microphone he had. There was a brief crackle and he was greeted by the sound of Iron Will in his earpiece.

“Excellent. What is the target doing?” the general asked, sounding expectant. Snowflake shrugged.

“The mare’s talking to a purple earth pony. And I have her perfectly in my sights. Do I take the shot?” he asked, tensing up in expectation. There was a long pause on the other side as Snowflake waited for a response.

“No. Not quite yet. Let me and my men get into position first,” Iron Will ordered, as the sound of dozens of ponies moving and shouting behind him confirmed that they were indeed ready to move.

Snowflake cursed under his breath. Here was his chance to finally prove himself as the best. He was about to single-hoofedly capture Equestria’s most wanted criminal with one shot, and what did the General want to do? He wanted to wait. Snowflake bristled, his newly sensitive ears picking up the distant sound of hoof falls coming up from behind him as backup arrived.

All of a sudden, he thought he heard the scratchy voice of his father whisper in his ear.

Take the shot laddie. Prove to me that you’re the best, the voice sneered, causing Snowflake to tense up even more. He could feel his muscles tighten in both frustration and expectation. The sound of marching steadily grew louder as Iron Will and his men approached.

Do it laddie. Now. you don’t need those stupid ponies and you know it. You’re better than them. You’re faster, you’re smarter, you’re stronger. Take the shot. They’ll all be thankful to ya, the voice hissed once more, now sounding impatient.

Snowflake shifted slightly, wincing as a tree branch poked him in the abdomen. Leave me alone Father. I can do this myself, he thought, mentally snapping back at the phantom griffin. He swore he could hear the spectre of his father scoff.

Oh please. Those ponies don’t know what they’re doing. But you do. You’ve been in more battles and skirmishes than any of those greenhorns. And no son of mine let’s a silly pony boss him around like a chick. Be a griffin. Take the shot, the voice insisted, and Snowflake could’ve sworn that he felt something nudge him in the shoulder. He whipped his head to the side, expecting maybe a squirrel or a bird of some kind, maybe even just another branch, but saw nothing but air.

TAKE THE BLOODY SHOT YOU WEAK EXCUSE FOR A SON!!! the voice of his father practically screamed in his ear, now to his right. Snowflake was startled for a second before regaining his control and setting his jaw tightly. All of a sudden, the voice of Iron Will came over the earpiece.

Take the shot."

Snowflake smiled broadly readying his rifle and finally pulling the trigger. “I’m not weak, Father!” he hissed aloud, as there was a light ‘puff’ sound as the tranquilizer was sent flying through the air and through the glass window of the lab. He felt a massive grin explode across his face as the dart impacted Fluttershy in the back of the neck. his ears picked up the delightful sound of her crying out in pain as she slumped over, quickly falling unconscious and slumping out his line of sight.

There you go Father, he thought as he heard Tree Flower scream in terror as her daughter lay on the floor. I’m not weak. his confidence restored, he spoke into the microphone again.

“General I have taken care of the situation. Target has been nullified.” With those words, he hopped out of the tree and floated down to the ground, a content smile on his face as more than two dozen ponies in military uniforms burst forth from all around, out of bushes and from trees, all armed to the teeth. They stormed in towards the scientist's building, breaking down the door.

Pegasi units dropped down from the sky above, having been placed in strategically low lying clouds, and sweep inside the building as well.

Snowflake simply stood there, content that he had finally captured that foolish little mare. He caught sight of the familiar shape of General Iron Will walking towards him. The General stood in front of him for a moment, looking down at Snowflake like a disappointed father. Snowflake felt a chill go down his spine, however, when the ghostly form of his father drifted into focus. Instead of his normal scowl however, the griffin wore a grim, yet pleased, smile, and nodded towards Snowflake approvingly.

“Officer Snowflake...” Iron Will spoke, his voice low and commanding, “You’ve done an exceptional job. Well played.”

Snowflake nodded, “Yes sir, thank you sir.”

Iron Will was silent for a moment before continuing, “I’ll be sure to put a good word for you back at HQ,” the General reached for his walkie talkie and spoke into it, “Alrighty labrats. You can have your fun now.” There was a low rumble as what seemed to be a large mobile home rumbled into view with the label “Mobile Lab Unit” on the side. Iron Will then looked towards the brownstone across the street. Snowflake watched as the General started towards the group of ponies there were carrying the now-straight-jacketed body of Fluttershy out of the building. She was still totally unconscious.

Iron Will leaned over the unconscious pegasus. “I finally have you,” he whispered, even though he knew she couldn’t hear him, “And this time, I’m not going to let you get away so easily.” With that, he motioned for them to carry her to the nearby Mobile Lab Unit. Iron Will waited until he caught sight of the mare he knew was Fluttershy’s mother, who was now surrounded by a gaggle of troops. It was obvious that she had just been crying.

“Hello Mrs. Flower. Nice to finally meet you.” As soon as he finished, he was promptly greeted by a slap to the face from the mare.

“You’re a monster.” the mare said, her voice tight with emotion. Iron Will simply shrugged, unfazed.

“Ma’am, you can believe that if you wish. But to me, I’m just doing what is necessary to keep Equestria safe from the real monster. Your daughter. Farewell,” with that, he turned back towards the Mobile Lab Unit, leaving the crying mare behind.

Act III - 18 - Journey's End...

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Act III:
Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)

Chapter Eighteen:
A Journey’s End...

“Dr. Cheerilee answer the question. Is that blood sample from Fluttershy?” the interrogator asked, holding a notepad aloft in her magic. Cheerilee sighed, rubbing her artificial leg.

“I already told you three times, yes. I don’t see why asking the same question three times is going to change the answer.” She looked over the interrogator’s shoulder to see a snow white pegasus stallion hovering around the laboratory equipment, occasionally picking up a random pipette to inspect it. Cheerilee let out a frustrated sigh. “Excuse me sir, but can you please stay away from that! It’s very sensitive equipment and I don’t want anything to break!” she called out, and the interrogator raised an eyebrow.

“What did you plan to do with the sample Dr. Cheerilee? What’s the laboratory equipment for?” she asked, diverting Cheerilee’s attention away from the stallion. Cheerilee rubbed her temple.

“I’m a biochemist. It’s for my work.” she answered, the interrogator’s constant questioning now getting on her nerves. “And Miss Fluttershy came here for treatment…”

“What sort of treatment?”

Cheerilee let out an involuntary groan, “Medical treatment.”

“What sort of medical treatment?” the interrogator droned once more, jotting down whatever Cheerilee said on the notepad. Cheerilee groaned.

“I can’t say. Mostly because we were kind of interrupted before we started by your little paramilitary fun brigade,” she replied sharply, causing the interrogator to raise an eyebrow, eying her with visible disdain. Cheerilee let her shoulders’ sag and rubbed her forehead.

“Sorry...it’s just...it’s been a good two hours since you began asking me questions, and honestly, I can’t tell you anything more than what I’ve already told you, okay? I guess it’s stress I don’t know…” she trailed off, once more noticing the white stallion, who was now seemingly muttering to himself while eyeing the vial of blood intensely.

“Can you ask your buddy over there to leave that sample alone please. It’s probably useless now and I don’t want him messing around with the medical waste. It’s dangerous,” she said, looking up at the interrogator. The interrogator only rolled her eyes before turning to walk over to the stallion.

“Hey Snowflake cou-”

Cheerilee let out a yelp at the sight of the blow that the pegasus dealt the unicorn. The unicorn was sent tumbling to the floor, where she lay still, apparently unconscious. The stallion turned to look Cheerilee in the eye, his bright red eyes glaring back her with virulent madness.

There was a strange pause between the two as they simply stared at each other, Cheerilee frozen in fear and Snowflake eyeing her like a lion would prey. Cheerilee was first move, making a bolt for the doorway, only to be greeted by a loud bang that sent her prosthetic limb flying off her leg. The gunshot, while not physically harming her, had managed to throw off her prothestic, and the sudden loss of the heavy prosthetic threw off her sense of balance, and she stumbled forwards awkwardly, stumbling to the floor. Next thing she knew, she felt something cold and metallic on the back of her head.

“Alright now don’t try anything like that again, okay doc?” came the voice of Snowflake behind her. “Got it?” he hissed, pushing the gun sharply against her head. Instinctively, Cheerilee raised her good leg in surrender.

“Alright! Alright I swear!” she said, her voice tight with panic. She felt the pressure on the back of her head abate somewhat and then felt a strong hoof pulling her to her hooves. She tried to stand, but was still missing her prosthetic, causing her to stumble awkwardly. She felt the gun against her head again and did her best to remain still.

“L-look...j-just give me th-the prosthetic okay? That’s all I need an-and then I’ll do whatever you wa-want okay?” she said, her voice wavering. There was a pause before Snowflake moved the gun from her head.

“Alright then. Go get your arm…” he said, his voice sounding edgy and prickly. Cheerilee nodded and limped as calmly as possible towards the limb, sitting down to properly apply it. “Now what do you want?” she asked, taking a deep breath to calm herself.

“I want what Fluttershy has!” Snowflake practically barked, his whole body looking like an ultra tightly wound spring. “And I know that you know a way to get it.”

Cheerilee blinked for a moment, trying to figure out what the stallion meant. This also gave her a moment to more carefully study her captor. He seemed stressed. His ears flicked about wildly, and his eyes were constantly shifting to look at some corner of the room, following the path of his ears. Every few seconds, he would either twitch or flinch as if someone had just poked him sharply, only to quickly tightening his body again. His muscle mass looked abnormal, as if enhanced by some sort of steroid.

“Well?!” he barked again, once more forcing the gun to her head. She raised her hooves again, biting her lip tightly in panic. “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!!!”

“P-please I’m a biochemist, not a genie! You ha-have to tell me wh-what you wa-want!” she pleaded, hoping the crazed pony would relent.

“Don’t give me that! You saw what that stupid little pegasus is able to do! I want what she has! I want her power damnit!” he shouted, once more forcing Cheerilee to her hooves and practically dragging her over to the laboratory equipment. He violently shoved her into the rolling chair and shoved it up to the vial. “Her blood, her power, hurry up!” he barked, snapping the somewhat shell-shocked Cheerilee back to reality.

“Alright, alright, just give me a second…” she replied shakily, reaching for the vial of blood with a shaky hoof. She placed it gingerly in a slot to hold it steady while she reached for the pipette. She quickly drew a sample, now holding the pipette rather awkwardly.

“What are you waiting for?! Inject me!” Snowflake commanded, shoving her violently. Cheerilee’s eyes widened.

“What?! I can’t just inject you! I haven’t run any tests on this at all and we need to see what’ll happ-”

Snowflake let out a growl and shoved her asides, toppling her out of the chair. Before Cheerilee had a chance to protest, Snowflake had already grabbed an empty syringe, carefully filling it with the blood. Cheerilee shook her head.

“No, wait, you can’t do that!” she protested, only to be greeted by a hoof to the nose.

“SHUT UP!” Snowflake hissed, now looking wildly paranoid. “I’m going to have that power if it’s the last thing I do! Understand?!” he then fell silent for a second, his eyes intensely focusing on a corner of the ceiling. His eyes narrowed before focusing back on Cheerilee. Without looking away, he jammed the syringe into his forearm and violently forced it’s contents into his body. Almost instantly, the area around the syringe began to change from it’s previous snow white to deep blood red. The muscles around the syringe began to bulge grotesquely and Cheerilee backed away fearfully. Snowflake’s entire coat was now the same shade of blood red and his muscle mass had increased so much that the chair he was sitting on collapsed underneath the weight. He let out what sounded like a growl of pain, slamming a hoof down on the ground. The floor underneath visibly cracked under the force of the blow and this only made Cheerilee’s desire for escape increase all the more. She turned and ran as fast as she could, hoping to reach the exit and get downstairs before things became any worse.

She had just reached the elevator and was wildly slamming down on the button when a deafening roar assaulted her ear drums. Against her better judgement, she looked over her shoulder fearfully and froze.

Standing at the other end of the room, and looming a good ten feet tall was a monstrous, blood red creature. His muscles were now ridiculously huge, with his wings having grown equally massive in proportion. His eyes burned bright gold and his mane had changed as well, growing out of it’s blonde buzz cut into a wildly unkempt mess of jet black hair. The monster turned to look at her, his eyes burning with demented glee. He lunged forward, and Cheerilee let out a scream, her hoof going into overdrive as she slammed on the elevator button. Just as the monster was about to slam into her, the elevator door opened and Cheerilee flung herself inside, slamming the down button as hard as she could. The elevator doors slid shut just as the creature impacted with the wall, sending the elevator swaying violently, banging against the elevator shaft walls.

Cheerilee curled into the corner, fearing the worse. Instead of the cable snapping like she expected, she was greeted by the normally mundane but now beautiful sound of the elevator going down. She uncurled her body and let out a massive sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, back in the remains of the laboratory, Snowflake let out an angry growl. The doctor had escaped, that was true, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t matter in the slightest. He had what he had come for. He had the power he craved. He could feel it coursing through his veins, filling him to the brim and providing him with energy and strength...superiority. He let out a satisfied sigh, simply taking a moment to allow the sense of triumph to wash over him.

Tisk, tisk, tisk… came his father’s raspy voice and Snowflake froze, his entire body bristling with rage at the sound. Unbeknownst to him, the floor underneath him began to melt as a burning heat emanated from his body.

Leave me alone…” he growled, his already-deep voice at least five octaves deeper since the transformation. The spectre of his father drifted into his field of vision, his talons crossed and shaking his head.

Oh laddie, laddie, laddie...ya fergot somethin’...somethin’ very important, he chided, which only managed to make Snowflake even angrier.

What did I forget?!” he asked, his voice a seething cauldron and visible steam rising off his body. “I got what you wanted! I got the power! I’m the best now, aren’t I? Isn’t this good enough for you?!” he roared, swiping a tremendous hoof at the spectre, only to see it go through like smoke.

His father meanwhile, remained unfazed, shaking his head slowly. Not until you’ve finished the job...she’s still around ya know...ready to challenge your hard earned victory…

Snowflake raised an eyebrow. “Who…?

Fluttershy, his father’s voice hissed. Snowflake’s eyes widened. That’s right. You forgot about her. Sure you have all this power, but as long as that little pegasus is scurrying about, well, you’ll have someone who bested you. Who's to say that she won’t try and knock ya off yer hard earned throne? You don’t want ta have yer flank kicked by that silly little mare wouldja? Oh wait! the ghost paused, chuckling slightly. She already has...remember? She flicked ya away like ya was a bug. Yer not gonna let her get away with that are ya? You’re the best right? Now you have the advantage….find her and win.

Snowflake narrowed his eyes. He had already been defeated once before. But now, he had the advantage. And this time...he was going to win.


Fluttershy’s eyes opened slowly. She felt a sharp stinging sensation in the back of her neck and her head felt as if she had been hit with a baseball bat. Oh no! she thought, her energy slowly returning as her eyes darted fearfully around the car.

“Wh-where am I?” she whimpered, not having the slightest idea why she was in what looked like a padded cell. Had she lost control again? The last thing she remembered was feeling angry and then the sharp pain in the back of her neck. Then...nothing else.

“That son of a bitch!” came a completely unexpected second voice and Fluttershy turned to see her mother, hooves cuffed together, sitting across from her. She looked as if she’d been crying for quite some time, if the tear stains on her cheeks were any indication.

“Mother, what are you doing here?” Fluttershy asked, attempting to scoot a little bit closer to her mother. Her mother turned to face her, an intense look of relief replacing the previous anger.

“Oh, Fluttershy, thank Celestia you’re alright!” Tree Flower said, and she also attempted to scoot a little bit closer, only to be foiled by the chains that held her to the chair. Fluttershy looked down to see that she was tied down as well, but this time, instead of a simple pair of leg cuffs and hoofcuffs, she was completely bound in a straight jacket. There was a good five feet of room between them, and it was obvious that whomever had placed them here was sure that they couldn’t make any physical contact.

“Mother what happened?” Fluttershy asked fearfully, only to be greeted by the sound of a door opening. Both Fluttershy and Tree Flower turned to see a pony that Fluttershy couldn’t recognize. He held himself with a self righteous air and sat down across from Tree Flower and Fluttershy.

“Well,” he said, reaching into his front shirt pocket to take a gulp of what looked like a bottle of whiskey. “This is actually kind of underwhelming…” he said, his voice sounding vaguely disappointed.

“Who the hay are you?” Tree Flower asked, her voice sounding tight. The dark green earth pony sighed, leaning back in his chair.

“That’s none of your business,” he answered, looking at Tree Flower with disregard. He looked back at Fluttershy, who was now looking away in shame. “So you’re the big mean monster everypony was talking about huh? Because I think you look pretty damn wimpy if you ask me. I mean seriously where’s the monster? Where’s the freak-”

“You stop that right now,” Tree Flower said so sharply that the soldier across from them stopped mid-sentence. There was a tense pause between the three before the soldier rolled his eyes and stood up.

“Whatever…” as he turned out to leave, Fluttershy could still hear him muttering under his breath, “Now I owe Stalwart twenty bits…”

Now she had been reduced to nothing more than some sort of sideshow attraction, waiting for the next pony to pay to gawk at her and mock her.

As if to drive the point home, the door to the car opened again and in strode the dark, looming form of Iron Will. He seemed quite happy with himself, if the smug and self-assured grin on his face was any indication.

“Evening Ms. Flower...Miss Fluttershy…” Iron Will said, walking over to put a hoof under Fluttershy’s chin, “Look at me…” he said. Fluttershy continued to look at the floor, tears streaming from her eyes.

“Look. At. Me!” Iron Will commanded, now forcefully making Fluttershy look up. Fluttershy looked into Iron Will’s face, fear overtaking her body as she feared what might come next.

“You leave my daughter alone, you bastard!” her mother shouted from her seat, only to be greeted by Iron Will staring at her hatefully.

“I would advise you stop protesting Ms. Flower. You’re lucky I haven’t separated you two.”

"Do you seriously think you can just treat my daughter like some kind of animal to abuse?!" Tree Flower protested, leaning towards Iron Will angrily.

Iron Will simply glared at her again. "Ms Flower, I regret to inform you that you are, quite frankly, living in a complete and total illusion. Your daughter is nothing more than your husband's sorry excuse of a lab experiment. She has caused the deaths of many innocent ponies and she is not about to escape justice again, understand? I am taking her back to Canterlot, where she will be dealt with in the manner I best see fit!" He roared before diverting his attention back to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy simply looked down at the floor, desperately trying to hold back her own sobs. Is that what she really was? Was she nothing more than a freak, a science experiment gone wrong? Something that could just be thrown away and destroyed? Any hopes she might have had for a life where she wouldn’t be judged by the actions of a monster she couldn’t control were now completely shattered. She felt herself begin to sob, unable to fathom what could possibly be lying ahead for her. They’d probably take her back to wherever they came from to cut her open and use her for testing. She could hear her mother trying to comfort her from across the car, but it was no use. No amount of comforting could prevent the inevitable.

“And what pray tell would that accomplish? Oh master of military blunders?” came an unexpected third voice, which caught the attention of the others.

"Agent Hoofcuff..." Iron Will grumbled, and Fluttershy looked up to see a familiar grey unicorn walk into the car, wearing a weathered looking windbreaker. Her dark red mane was rustled and unkempt, and her eyes looked tired, as if she had been awake for days.

"General," she replied, seeming to notice Iron Will's displeasure, as she arched an eyebrow, glancing over at Fluttershy. "What? Aren't you happy that you got your 'white whale'?" She asked.

Iron Will looked noticeably angered by this, and he made a point of standing more erect. “I’ll have you know I am a decorated officer..”

"Oh don't give me that ‘decorated officer’ crap!" Hoofcuff snapped. "You obviously can’t just up and fire me, since it’s obvious that nopony besides you, me and Snowflake has any idea what’s gone on here. And all because you are obsessively keeping all the facts from everypony.”

“The reason I did not tell you all the facts is because you didn’t need to know them. The only reason Snowflake received that information is because he needed it to complete his mission,” Iron Will replied sternly, which only made Hoofcuff blink in apparent shock.

“What do you mean I didn’t need to know?! If anypony needed the info, it was me! I’m the fugitive hunter, not Snowflake. Do you know how many ponies ended up injured, in the hospital or worse because of your obsessive need to hide the facts? Did you even think it might have been better to let everypony know all the facts so we’re all properly prepared.”

“Careful Marshall,” Iron will said through his teeth ”You’re on thin enough ice as it is, you don’t want me to-”

“To do what?” she said, cutting off the general. “You and I both know that taking Fluttershy back to Canterlot is just going to be another complete snafu! And all because you were too stubborn to admit when you’re wrong!” she continued, pointing a hoof towards Fluttershy. “Every time you’ve gotten close to capturing her, it always ends up with her going green and destroying everything. Have you ever just taking a second to think that you, oh great and mighty Iron Will, might actually be wrong in doing this and maybe should have left the mare that can throw a tank like a rubber ball alone?! ”

General Iron Will simply stared at Hoofcuff, and Fluttershy could have sworn that he was trying to burn a hole through her skull. She looked over to the much shorter unicorn, who glared back at him. Finally, the general spoke, his voice a low rumble.

“Agent Hoofcuff...you’re fired. Leave now.”

“Fire me?” Hoofcuff replied incredulously. “Screw firing me, I’m quitting! I’ve been standing around, letting you run around and waste my time, just so that you can stroke your Celestia-damned ego!” She stomped a hoof on the ground violently, letting out a sharp snort. Iron Will was about to respond when a loud burst of static came from his earpiece, causing him to wince slightly. Without taking his eyes off Hoofcuff, he put a hoof up to the earpiece.

“What?” he barked, holding a hoof to his ear. His eyes narrowed slightly, apparently concerned by whatever was coming through his earpiece. Without saying a word, Iron Will unexpectedly started towards the door, leaving a very confused Fluttershy, Tree Flower and Hoofcuff standing there. Hoofcuff was first to move, trying to beat Iron Will to the door, only to be blocked.

“You stay here. I’ve had enough of you and your constant insubordination!” Iron Will growled, slamming the door behind him, leaving Hoofcuff with an incredibly angry expression on her face.

“Insubordination?!” she shouted aloud. “I’m the only freaking pony on this whole trip who shows any sense and he imprisons me?! What the buck?!” she sat down in one of chairs, now looking more baffled than angry.

Fluttershy simply stared, unsure of what to do. For the first time, someone besides her mother had really stood up for her. She swallowed, still trying to wrap her head around the events of the last few minutes.

“Th-thanks for standing up for my daughter” Tree Flower all of a sudden said, her voice frail. The unicorn and Fluttershy glanced towards her, a slightly surprised look on their faces.

“What?” the unicorn asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I said thank you.” Tree Flower repeated, her voice gaining some strength. “You’re the first pony to jump to Fluttershy’s defense like that. Thank you.”

Hoofcuff simply rolled her eyes. “Oh don’t get sappy. I didn’t do it out of sympathy or anything. I did it because I’m sick of all this bullsh-lying and dishonesty. I’ve been on this trip for what feels like forever and I just want it to end. I just wanna go back home,” she sighed, shoulders sagging.

Fluttershy couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the mare sitting across from her. The tired, world weary look in the unicorn’s eyes was one that Fluttershy knew intimately, having long become accustomed to it’s heavy, oppressive weight on her shoulders.

“Hey...I know how you feel…” she said, despite her own shyness. The unicorn gave her a bemused look.

“Really? That’s great...not like it’ll change anything though. My job’s probably completely bucked,” she sighed, shifting her weight. Fluttershy bit her lip, shifting slightly herself. The straight jacket was quite tight, and she could feel her wings being squished against her body rather uncomfortably. There was a moment of silence, punctuated by faint, undefinable rumblings. At first, the rumblings were spaced a good distance apart, and Fluttershy had assumed that it was a thunderstorm or some other weather phenomena. However, as time went on, the rumblings became louder and more frequent, punctuated by sharp popping noises and what sounded like muffled shouts.

“What’s that noise?” Tree Flower asked aloud, her ears swiveling to catch the noise. Hoofcuff seemed to notice it as well, as her ears perked up and she leaned against the wall of the car.

“Is that...gunfire?” she said aloud, a suspicious look on her face. Before any of them had a chance to answer, there was a deafening metallic bang and the car was thrown violently on it’s side, sending the three of them sprawling up against the wall, the chains holding Fluttershy in place snapping in the process. Before anyone of them had a chance to regain any sense of balance or even comprehend what could have possibly have caused such a sudden event, there was another, even louder clang, coupled with the opposite wall denting inward as if someone had stepped on it.

“What’s going on?!” Fluttershy cried, her heart rate spiking again as she looked around the car frantically. Another loud clang and the car shook again, it’s metal walls buckling under the weight of whatever was coming down on it.

OH FLUTTERSHY! COME OUT TO PLAY!!!” came a monstrous voice from outside the car. Fluttershy let out a whimper of fear, her heart rate climbing again, and Tree Flower struggled to get closer to her. Another clang, and the voice roared again.

COME OUT LITTLE MARE!!!! SNOWFLAKE WANTS TO TALK WITH YOU!!!” it repeated, punctuating it’s words with stronger and stronger slams against the wall, causing it to buckle and bend under it’s weight. Fluttershy tried to curl into a ball in an effort to block out the horrible sounds, when a loud explosion reverberated through the car, an enraged roar mingling with the chaotic cauldron of noise. Next thing Fluttershy knew, the door to the car opened to reveal the same soldier from before, which beckoned them to move.

“Come on, before he recovers!” he barked, and Hoofcuff started towards the exit, while Tree Flower instantly set about undoing the straight jacket. Hoofcuff paused in the doorway, looking behind her with a baffled look on her face.

“Damnit Ms. Flower we’ve gotta go!” she barked, only to have Tree Flower shake her head.

“Not without Fluttershy!” she shouted in return, still trying to undo the complicated straps holding Fluttershy’s legs to her body. Before Hoofcuff had a chance to come back with a reply, there was another deafening explosion, and all three turned to see a gigantic, blood red monster of a pegasus crouched over what looked like the remains of a tank, his massive wings tucked around his body like a vulture. His head whipped around, his eyes practically glowing with venomous hatred. Fluttershy felt her body seized in horror at the sight.

THERE YOU ARE FLUTTERSHY.” he growled, and he hunched down, looking as if he was about to spring towards the three again. He leapt towards them, and before any of them had a chance to avoid him, he slammed into the car, sending them all flying wildly in different directions. Fluttershy landed hard on the ground, letting out a cry of pain as she felt a leg snap. Her eyes watered with pain and fear as she looked around, trying to find where her mother had landed. She caught sight of the red beast with his arm caught inside the remains of the mobile lab, having apparently punched clean through it. Fluttershy spun her head around, searching for her mother. She spotted the coral mare a good two dozen feet away, looking quite disheveled, but otherwise fine.

“Mother!” she cried out, and her mother waved wildly for her.

“Fluttershy! I’m coming!” she cried, and Fluttershy could see the older mare begin to limp towards her, her own leg looking as if it had been strained. But before Tree Flower had even managed to get a good five feet, she was violently slammed away by the red beast, who was now free from his trap and had crossed the couple dozen feet in mere seconds. Fluttershy felt a scream die in her throat at the sight of her mother being tossed aside like a toy, landing quite roughly into a nearby bush.

Fluttershy instinctively began to drag herself towards the bush, her mind completely focused on seeing if her mother survived. She only managed to make it a few feet before she felt a crushing pain in her hind legs. She let out a scream, before being violently flipped onto her back by her assailant. It was revealed to be the same demonic creature, who now loomed over her, his right arm pinning her down.

I FINALLY GOT YOU!” he cackled, sounding completely and utterly demented as he leaned closer to her quivering form. “IT’S JUST YOU AND ME NOW!” he said, grabbing her head violently, and bringing her limp body close to his face. His yellow eyes seemed to be searching for something, as they scanned her body wildly. His grip felt as if it were a hot iron, and Fluttershy weakly squirmed against it, her broken legs only adding to her pain.

“P-please…” she wept, her voice now completely shattered and overcome with her own sobbing. “J-just le-leave me al-alone….p-plea-”

WHERE IS IT?!” the monster shrieked, causing Fluttershy’s weak protests to die in her throat. “WHERE’S THE REAL YOU?! I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!!!” he threw her to the ground again violently, and she cried out, only to be pinned again. Fluttershy felt her heart rate, which was already at an all time high go even higher. She could already feel New Fluttershy violently struggling against her already sorely weakened defenses, screaming for release. “SHOW ME THE MONSTER!” he roared. Fluttershy simply whimpered, holding her arms in front of her face in a futile attempt to shield herself from the heat ebbing off the stallion’s body. He lifted his arm and seemed to be readying himself to crush her with a massive hoof when a voice cried out.

“LEAVE MY DAUGHTER ALONE YOU MONSTER!” Both Fluttershy and Snowflake looked in shock towards the bedraggled form of Tree Flower, who had dragged herself out of the bush, doing her best to stand on her hooves.

“M-Mother go! Ju-just le-leave me!” Fluttershy cried, weakly waving her away.

“Never! I’m not going to abandon you again!” Tree flower shouted, picking up a fallen soldiers pistol and taking aim at the beast. In spite of this show of bravery, her hooves could still be seen to shake and she bit her bottom lip tightly.

Snowflake simply blinked before an evil grin spread across his face. “Oh look at that! Isn’t it precious!” he chuckled, looking back at Fluttershy. “If hurting you doesn’t wake her up...well, I guess I’ll have to hurt somepony close to you.” he growled, tossing the blooded Fluttershy aside and walking slowly, deliberately towards Tree Flower, who still stood her ground. The hollow click of an empty gun greeted their ears and Snowflake smiled. The image of her mother, completely defenseless, Snowflake’s hoof ready to crush her proved to be the final straw, and with a final defeated whimper from the blooded yellow pegasus, New Fluttershy broke free.

Flutterhulk, her mind completely dominated by pure, unbridled fury, began to shift and change color, her bloodied and soiled yellow coat once more morphing into a deep green. Her tattered pink mane almost instantly began to grow out, turning into a deep, dark red, and her hind legs, both of which were previously broken, visibly healed themselves. Any cuts and bruises the mare might have suffered healed almost instantly, and when she opened her eyes again, they shined a brilliant emerald, and burned with unbridled fury.

Snowflake let out a cry of triumph, which was greeted by a deafening roar from the green pegasus beneath him, her body expanding and growing extreme amounts of new, perfectly formed and sculpted muscle mass.

However, Snowflake’s triumph was interrupted by a tremendous crack as the now equally monstrous mare slammed her hoof into his lower jaw, sending him violently flying across Celestial Park, with him landing in a small lake a good two hundred feet away. He looked up to see Flutterhulk now standing at full height, letting out another defiant roar. Her roar was cut short, however, by an explosion of gunfire from a nearby tank, which quickly met it’s end at her hooves, crushed underneath like a soda can. Next thing Snowflake knew, Flutterhulk had flung the tank towards him like a spear, and Snowflake rolled aside, the tank landing with a thunderous crash just inches from him.

FLUTTERHULK SMASH RED PONY!” he heard her roar, and he felt his adrenaline spike with excitement as the monster lunged towards him at full gallop, the normally well-kept ground beneath her being turned to mush beneath the sheer force of her hoofsteps. Snowflake answered her charge by one of his own, flying towards her, wings pumping.

The two collided with a sound like a thunderclap, sending out a shockwave that took the leaves off almost every single nearby tree. Snowflake, using his training, quickly put Flutterhulk into a headlock, twisting her neck and causing her to bellow in pain. Flutterhulk answered with a sharp buck, causing Snowflake’s grip to weaken and him to fly another two hundred feet and land hard in a grove of trees, creating a crater beneath him. He shook his head, letting out a growl before standing back up, his wounds healing rapidly and any leaves rapidly burning away due to the ambient heat.

IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?!” he shouted back, flaring his wings in defiance and crouching low, preparing for the oncoming attack. Flutterhulk roared, charging towards him at full speed once more, and he reared, the pair colliding again. However, this time, they were sent tumbling backwards, and through the park fence, ending up in the middle of the street. A loud horn blast from an oncoming truck caught Snowflake’s attention, and he pulled Flutterhulk down close to him, and the truck slammed into the pair, the front end completely collapsing inward. Snowflake was the first on his hooves, grabbing a nearby car and slamming it over Flutterhulk’s still recovering body.

Flutterhulk rolled onto her back just as Snowflake lifted the car for a second blow, this time catching the car mere inches in front of her face before tearing it out of Snowflake’s hoof. Snowflake let out a roar as the now jagged metal tore the skin from his hooves, which rapidly grew back, just as red as before. Before he had a chance to return a blow of his own, he was greeted by the twisted wreckage of the car to his face, with Flutterhulk quickly dealing another blow with the impromptu club. Snowflake tumbled backwards, crushing several more cars underfoot, before slamming into a nearby building, going through the brick walls as if they were paper. This caused the building to grow weak and he rolled away just as it collapsed down on him, piles of debris crushing his left wing. He let out a cry of pain and yanked himself free, the broken wing almost instantly resetting itself.

STOP HOLDING BACK!” he shouted, leaping to land a sharp right hook on the charging Flutterhulk’s muzzle, and successfully pinning her to the ground. He then put his full strength into violently punching her repeatedly, causing a large crater to form around the two.

I AM THE BETTER PONY! I AM THE SUPERIOR BEING!” he roared, continuing his unrelenting assault on the mare beneath him. However, his assault was interrupted by a sharp jab to his abdomen from Flutterhulk’s hind leg, quickly followed by a left-hook to his face. This caused him to lose any advantage he had, throwing off his balance. Flutterhulk dragged herself out of the hole, before spinning around and violently bucking him through a building. She then grabbed a nearby truck that had been abandoned in the chaos and leapt towards Snowflake, raising it above her head and bringing it down mercilessly on the stallion’s head. The stallion rolled out of the way, with the building collapsing around him and on top of Flutterhulk.

Flutterhulk growled, grabbing Snowflake by the tail and dragging him back to her. However, he was quick to respond with a buck of his own, which sent her tumbling down the street violently and back into the park. She tumbled through the grass, causing a long furrow to form before she came to a stop in the same grove of trees from before. She heard Snowflake roar and saw him leaping towards her and she tore a nearby oak tree out of the ground and socked him with it, sending him straight into the earth head first. She lifted the oak tree, now shattered in half and jabbed the jagged end into his right wing. He let out a roar of pain, his wing completely impaled by the tree. She then grabbed him by his mane, violently pulling his head out of the ground. She quickly slammed him face-first into the ground again.

Snowflake's arms flailed around him, desperately searching for somewhere to grab onto and turn the tide in his favor. Snowflake found it in Flutterhulk's mane, yanking it hard and flipping her over his body, Flutterhulk screaming in pain. He pulled himself to his hooves, quickly yanking the broken tree out of his wing, grunting in pain as he did so. Flutterhulk had recovered in the meantime, and she lunged, only to be greeted by a tree trunk in the shoulder, the oak piercing through her like a spear. She roared in pain again, breaking the tree trunk in half with one blow of her hoof before pulling it out of her shoulder and attempting to return the favor.

Snowflake simply ducked, landing her a punch to the gut. She responded with a crashing blow to his back, before wrapping her arms around his somewhat slimmer body and throwing him to the ground. However, he dragged her down with him and the pair rolled across the park, ending up in a clump of bushes.

Flutterhulk ended up on top and began to violently punch him in the face repeatedly, each punch landing with more and more force and more and more speed, until his entire face was a shattered, blood mess. She briefly paused, her breaths ragged as she looked down at his still barely conscious, but badly blooded form. His eyes still burned with hatred and his skin burned with a near unbearable heat from beneath her, causing the grass around them to actively start scorching, but she still felt strangely hesitant, as if something were holding her back from squashing his skull beneath her hooves in one final strike.

Aren’t you going to finish the job?” he quietly hissed, his deformed, shattered face twisting into a maniacal grin. “Or are you chicken?

Flutterhulk felt the burning fire inside of her flare up at his words and she growled inarticulately and reached over, grabbing the discarded tree trunk which had landed nearby. She lifted the jagged trunk above her head, being sure to keep the pointed end facing towards her foe.

“STOP!” came the loud, pained cry and Flutterhulk halted, the makeshift spear stopping mere inches away from her enemy’s throat. She whipped her head towards the sound and saw a familiar, coral blue mare leaning against a tree, severely bruised but otherwise perfectly fine. Her left eye was swollen, but her right one seemed to plead with her. Flutterhulk didn’t quite understand why, but a soft, pleading and strangely familiar voice at the back of her mind told her to listen to whatever this random mare had to say.

The coral mare swallowed, tears welling in her eyes, “Fluttershy I know you’re in there! Please just stop! You said that you didn’t want to be a monster, right?!”

Flutterhulk simply blinked, the words of the mare somehow feeling familiar to her. The small, oddly familiar voice inside of her told her that what this mare was saying was true. She wasn’t a monster. She looked back down at the blooded body of Snowflake, who simply looked up at her with weakened eyes, his blood seeping from his decimated muzzle and pooled around his face. Before Flutterhulk even knew it, she had dropped the tree trunk and looked over to the coral mare.

Flutterhulk not monster…” she rumbled, feeling as if some burning fire inside of her was slowly dying away again. As if on in a daze, she slowly climbed off the blooded stallion’s body, and she walked over to the smaller mare. She reached a hoof out slowly, the smaller flinching slightly before it came to gently stroke the coral mare’s face.

Flutterhulk like friend.” she said, not really noticing what she had spoken until after she said it. The coral mare seemed to tear up and smile at this, clutching the large hoof tightly.

“Yes Fluttershy...I’m your friend,” she said in a gentle voice, stroking the hoof. The distant sound of approaching vehicles faded into the nighttime, with Fluttershy feeling a strange sense of peace as she collapsed into her mother's arms.


The last thing Snowflake saw as he drifted in and out of consciousness, was the green monster gently shift back to her normal, yellow coated form. Try as he might, however, Snowflake couldn't make himself move to deal the final blow, no matter now much both his and his father's voice screamed in unison for him to do it. He tried to move a leg in a futile attempt to heed his mind's desperate commands, but alas, a sharp, yet fleeting pain in the side of his neck was the only indication that the sedative had set about its work.

But his last cognizant thought, one that burned with a fiery hatred and defiance towards the yellow pegasus was,

I am the best...

And with that last hate filled thought, he fell unconscious.

Epilogue - 19 - Happiness...I'm Glad

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“Happiness...I’m Glad”

“So Hoofcuff, that’s the whole story as far as you know it?” The short blond earth pony asked, eyeing her with suspicion. Next to him stood a much taller unicorn with a brown coat and a darker brown mane. The unicorn held a notepad in his magic, jotting down whatever Hoofcuff’s responses were.

Hoofcuff let out a tired sigh, shifting slightly and pulling the shock blanket a little tighter around her body. “I’ve already told you at least five times that yes, that’s the whole story Agent Winchester.”

“I see” The earth pony nodded, turning to look at the unicorn. “Well Sammy, do ya believe her?”

The unicorn shrugged. “Yeah Dean I do. I mean she’s been nothing but honest to her own mistakes the entire time. Not like Iron WIll…”

“Wait… You talked to General Iron Will already?” Hoofcuff asked, raising an eyebrow. The blond earth pony nodded.

“Oh yeah. Talked to him about an hour ago. Tried to blame it on basically everypony but himself. Even tried to get us to detain you for treason.” The pair of agents then snickered, obviously amused by what the general had said. “But don’t worry, he’s currently under investigation.”

“In fact, we’ve basically interviewed everypony but you,” the unicorn chimed in, flipping through his notepad. “Let’s see we’ve got statements from Miss Tree Flower, Miss Fluttershy, Dr. Cheerilee…”

“Wait why are you telling me all this? I mean why would you give me all these details to an ongoing investigation?” Hoofcuff asked, cutting the unicorn off. She was instead greeted by Dean laughing.

“Told ya she’d ask Sammy! That’ll be five bits.” he chuckled, extending a hoof. Hoofcuff simply blinked.

“Okay what the buck is going on here?” she asked incredulously, and the tall unicorn simply rolled his eyes before answering.

“Well, actually it’s pretty simple Agent. If you couldn’t already tell, this whole little fiasco would probably mean you’d lose your job. Now what our boss thinks that this was a total waste of material, especially on your part, since, according to your record, you’re on the best we’ve got.”

“What are you saying?” Hoofcuff asked, her curiosity getting the better of her. The shorter pony answered her this time.

“What Sammy is trying to say is that our boss has authorized us to offer you a position as a…watcher over two new entries to our witness protection program. They’re a mother and daughter I think you’ll love ‘em.” he finished, a big, cocky grin on his face.

Hoofcuff blinked, stunned into silence at the proposition. She leaned back slightly, trying to weigh the pros and cons of the situation. On the one hand, saying no would probably mean she’d be roped into another, mind numbingly long series of questions by even more government agents, and not only that, but her entire career would most likely go down the drain. On the other hand, saying yes not only meant keeping a job, but it also meant she’d still be able to pursue the job she had signed up for, which was finding Equestria’s worst. She nodded slightly, arching an eyebrow.

“What do I get if I say yes?” she asked, looking towards the pair of agents.

“Our boss will make sure that nothing from this fiasco gets on your record and you’ll only have to answer to him.” The short blond one replied.

Hoofcuff smiled. “Alright then. I’m in. But one thing. Just make sure that that poor mare is safe okay? Last thing the poor mare needs is to be left alone or something.”

The unicorn nodded. “Oh don’t worry, she’s fine. We’ve got her being looked after by one of our top agents.”

Hoofcuff raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“Exactly what I said. Top. Agents.”


“So do you two like the cake I made ya?” The bright pink mare asked, sliding the humble, yet still wonderfully tasty looking red velvet cake. “Sorry if it’s not up to standards, but I really didn’t have much time to plan for anything really, and especially not a cake!”

Fluttershy simply smiled gently. “It-It’s good...I just not use to ha-having a normal meal with others I guess.” she said simply, hiding behind her mane again. Tree Flower smiled warmly, reaching an arm around to give her a gentle, supporting hug. The older mare still had several bruises from their recent brush with death, but otherwise looked fine.

“That’s okay dearie,” she said, “I understand.” she turned to look at the pink pony sitting opposite from them. “And thank you very much Agent Pie, I can’t thank you enough for making us this delicious cake. I mean, how did you know that red velvet was the family favorite?”

“Oh I just made a shot in the dark! And please, call me Pinkie.” The pink mare replied, smiling broadly. “Granted I really, really wish I could have thrown a big welcome party for you, but things have been really busy and everypony’s a tad stressed lately and on top of that the ice cream probably melted and it’s not even soup day.” she took a deep breath, regaining all the air she must have used for her long unbroken sentence. “So I guess this’ll have to do.”

There was a pause between the three. Fluttershy took a moment to just simply appreciate the feeling of peace that pervaded the small cabin. However, from underneath her mane, she could tell that the expression on the agent’s face was somewhat somber, as if the idea of not being able to make anything more than the cake made her depressed.

“Hey are you alright?” She asked, looking towards Agent Pinkie with concern. Almost instantly, Pinkie seemed to notice her dourness and sat up straight.

“What? Oh I’m fine, just fine. Just happy to see you happy ya know.” she said, running a hoof through her mane. “Just kinda wished I could make something better than just a cake. For a friend ya know.”

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. “You consider me a friend?”

Pinkie nodded, her face noticeably brightened. “Oh for sure you are!” she chirped, her smile genuine. “I mean, I have my own meanie little grumpy pants I have to deal with up here.” she tapped her forehead slightly. “So I know what it’s like to have a lot of red in my ledger.” she leaned forward, putting a supportive arm on Fluttershy’s shoulder. Fluttershy looked down, a sad look on her face.

“Yeah but...I’ve hurt so many...caused so much pain…” she sniffed, wiping a tear from her eye.

“Oh dearie,” Tree Flower said, pulling Fluttershy into a gentle hug. “It’s all over now, you’re safe now and away from anypony who wants to hurt you.”

Fluttershy sniffed, clutching her mother tightly. “I know...I know...I’m just...I don’t know what to do you know?”

“Oh don’t worry dearie, we’ll get there. We’ll get there.” Tree Flower cooed, “Just take it a day at a time.”

Pinkie meanwhile, simply felt a warmth go through her at the sight of Tree Flower comforting Fluttershy. “I’ll just show myself out then.” she said quietly, making her way to the door.

“A-Agent Pie…” came a frail voice and Pinkie turned to see Fluttershy looking towards her, her previous sadness now looking tired, yet content. “Thank you so much.”

Pinkie simply smiled, tipping her head towards the other mare as she stepped out the door.

“You’re welcome...friend.”