New Tricks

by Furzfanger

First published

Shortly after being sentenced to eternal banishment from Equestria, recently captured convict, Rover Berylav escapes the clutches of Celestia's royal guards. On the run with no place to go, he meets an unlikely ghost from his past.

For the past few months, Rover and his dreaded band of Diamond Dogs have been on the lam from the law. Laying low in the small settlement of Appleoosa, the canines are spotted by a local resident. Once apprehended by a group of Canterlot guards, the thieves are met with a hasty sentence of permanent banishment into the wastelands to the north.

On his way to the barren wilderness, the group's leader, Rover Berylav manages to escape the prison train. Terrified and alone, he makes his way west, hoping to jump a boat back to his homeland. However, he finds himself incapacitated in the small, rural town of Ponyville. Broken with no one he can trust, the dog is forced to take refuge with a ghost of his past.

After spending his time under the radar, Rover begins to feel regret for the life he's been living his life. Reflecting upon the horrors of his dark childhood, the furry protagonist faces that which he has feared his entire life.

Chapter 1: The Chain

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How could this have happened?

One moment we're drinking fresh apple cider, the next we're on our way to see the Princess herself. I suppose this had to happen eventually. I just never thought they would find us so soon. I knew I should never have trusted that damn settler pony, but his smile and brown leather vest just seemed so inviting at the time. Leave it to a pony to stab you in the back.

Well, I guess we should be arriving in Canterlot any time now. I hope this Princess Celestia is as kindhearted as they say she is. With all that we've done over the past few months, it would be no surprise if she sent each of us straight to the moon. I can't say that I wouldn't deserve it. I've hurt everyone I've ever known. I just don't want to watch my comrades suffer whatever punishment she has in store for us. They are the only family that I've got.

"Uh... Boss Rover?", woofs a familiar voice.

I pause for a brief moment. "What is it, Fido?"

My large friend is trembling violently. "Are they going to kill us?", he whimpers pitifully.

"They aren't going to kill us.", I say, patting my partner's shoulder.

Little do I know, our sentence is a fate far worse than that of eternal slumber. As our carriage pulls into the castle, the earth rumbles behind us as the heavy portcullis crashes to the ground. There is no turning back now. Our fate lies tightly in one Alicorn's hooves.

*CREEEEEEAK*

As the large metal doors of the prison train open, we find ourselves being drug out by the heavy steel chains around our ankles. Guards with needle-sharp spears line the way to the corridors of the dark, cramped dungeon.

"We shall all die in here!", shouts one of my workers.

"Not me!", shouts another, as he is beaten for trying to break the formation.

"I never thought it would end like this...", Spot mutters to me. "Not so soon..."

"Nobody's dying here!", I shout angrily.

Spot points his emotionless face to the ground, as a single tear falls to the cold, stone floor. Sadly, this despair has consumed each and every one of us. All seems to be at an end, as we find ourselves being herded like sheep into rusty, dark cells. Whimpers and moans echo through the quiet dungeon. Regret and despair pour from the hearts of its captives.

"Quiet in there!", shouts a guard to a whining cell.

The whimpers cease in a flash, as the shivering dogs contemplate this being their final few hours alive. Despair strokes our brown and grey coats, while tears pitter-patter upon the stones at our paws. Turning my head, I notice one dog lose control of his bladder when met with a stare from a stern, muscular stallion outside. It rips me apart seeing my family suffer like this. The only ones who ever had any admiration for me are being punished for following my orders. All of this misery is my fault, and I cannot take it back.

Hours pass as the orange glow from the small, barred window at the end of the corridor fades to a deep, forlorn blue. Night had fallen on this dark day. Surely we will meet our ends when the new sun rises. The fear of death now licks at my heart like a dancing flame to a dead field of grass. I finally joined the rest of the pack as a dead dog walking.

"Alright you dogs!", a gruff voice shouts. "Princess wants to see you all!"

Every beating, canine heart in that prison skips a beat upon the dropping of these words. Our time of judgement has finally come. We are now on our way to speak to the one pony in Equestria who could deal us any fate she so desired, and there was nothing we can to do to protest. There is no going back now. We will soon be in the presence of Princess Celestia, Goddess of the Day.

Blinding colors burn our sensitive, dilated eyes, as our chains clack and jingle down the castle's hallways. The distant ceiling catches everyone's gaze. Gems of all sizes and hues sparkle majestically down upon us. Never before had we witnessed such beauty in one place. Ironic that the one thing that drove us into the abyss was the one thing that would watch us burn for it.

"Princess!", announces one of the guards. "The prisoners..."

"Oh worms...", a voice lightly curses behind me.

"Let them come!", thunders a terrifying roar.

I find a razor-sharp spear graze my back, forcing me into the chamber from which came the booming howl. Behind me follows a train of panicking mutts, overcome by the fear of their impending doom. I now gaze upon the voice's powerful owner.

"Rover Berylav...", hums the princess. "You and your party have been charged with crimes against Equestria and its ponies. Do you deny this accusation?"

I pause for a moment. "N-no... your highness..."

"And are you aware of the penalties for stealing in Equestria?", she asks heartlessly.

"N-no... your highness.", I answer back, tears streaming down my cheeks.

"Exile... Mr. Berylav.", breathes the princess. "Eternal banishment."

A massive sigh of relief echoed within each of our minds. Although banishment was a horrible punishment, it was far better than execution. One question did, however, remain unanswered. Where were we to go?

"Um... your h-highness?", I mutter under my breath.

"Speak felon.", she retorts coldly.

"Where shall we be sent?", I prod inquisitively.

"To the wastelands of the north.", she speaks. "And you are never to return."

Displeased with the news, I choose still to be polite in the presence of our judge. "Thank you, Princess Celestia."

Raising an eyebrow, the princess gives me a peculiar look. "I believe you have mistaken me for my dearest sister. Please, call me Luna."

"A thousand pardons, your majesty...", I whimper back.

As we are herded back towards the black dungeons below, I am met with an unexpected reply.

"I am so sorry, my troubled friend. May the aura of the moon light your path."

Chapter 2: The Escape

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Chapter 2: The Escape

SLAM!

Links of rusty chains clatter upon the train car's floor as the engine hits a rough stretch of track. We find ourselves bumping into one another as our transport tosses us about. Guard ponies stand vigilantly at every conceivable escape, watching our each and every move. One in particular appears to have his gaze locked solely onto me. Staring into his emotionless blue eyes sends a numbing chill down my spine, adding to the immobility the chains lay upon my arms.

Suddenly, a voice floods into the car through the intercom. "Immediate assistance required in the engine. Over."

Almost instantly two of the watchful guards exit the through the large, steel door. With only three remaining with us, glances of rebellion seem to shoot from one dog to the next. An uneasy feeling comes over me. What could be so important

Several minutes pass, with no signs of the two guards returning. The guard who had his eye on me earlier now struggles to hide a look of concern on his face. The large door swung open once more, followed by the presence of the two stallions who had left just a few minutes prior, however, something was wrong. Their expressions seemed different. Two crooked smiles now masked their fuzzy white facades.

"Did they get promoted or something?", Spot whispers in my ear.

Without warning, the two returning guards engage the stallion who'd had his eyes on me. With three swift kicks he was on the floor, unconscious. The two remaining guards raised their swords in response to the violence.

"Stand down!", commands one of them.

The two traitors grin as they draw out their blades as well. In a brief bloodbath, they take out the remaining guards. Every canine jaw in the room falls open at the massacre. Never did we expect to have our hides saved by the ones who were watching us. To our sudden surprise, the white coats of the royal stallions fades to a dirty, midnight black. These were no mere ponies standing before us. These were Changeling soldiers.

"Holy bones!", howls a voice in the back of the room.

The strange, insect-like creatures make various clicking sounds in response to the outcry, watching us with their soulless, blue eyes. The clattering of chains rings around the car, as many dogs back away from the train's intruders. It suddenly occurs to me that our speed was dropping incredibly fast. Someone was stopping the train.

"What the woof's goin' on?", barks Spot to the bugs.

In a heart-stopping instant, one of the two Changelings jams its bloody sword into his soft gut.

"No!!", I scream, as my comrade falls forward into my shackled paws.

Blood drips from the open gash onto my vest, as he shivers violently. "R-Rover...", he chokes.

Tears begin to quickly form in my eyes as I continue to hold him tightly. "I'm here buddy. I'm here."

A faint smile covers his small, brown muzzle. "Told you they was gonna kill us."

"Nobody's dying today! You're gonna be fine, Spot.", I lie as the tears roll down my face.

"Can't you see them all, boss?", he whispers to the ceiling.

"S-see them all?", I ask.

"All those gems...", he returns in a drowsy tone. "Green ones, red ones, blue ones... white... one..."

The stout dog collapses limp in my paws, eyes still trained at the blank metal ceiling. No more could he be bound by the thick metal chains, which still clung to myself. As I sob to myself, the others crowd around, adding in tears of their own.

Suddenly, my ears were assaulted by an ear wrenching cackle. Spot's murderer stands above me, jagged teeth bent into a hideous smile. Too overcome by grief and insanity, I found no immediate strength to rise up and strike my partner's killer in the skull. I was powerless.

We now find ourselves being herded out of the car as if we were livestock. Masses over dark-hearted Changelings stand in a line in front of us, examining their newly found prey. Carrying my fallen brother in my paws, I begin to release a ghostly howl unto the cloudy, nighttime sky. My cries ring not alone, as the group joins in to grieve the heavy loss.