/bootleg/ Jacky Part Six

By BlondieAnon on 25th October 2020 01:03:18 AM

  1. >Damn it Jacky.
  2. >Damn it Prism.
  3. >That fight was serious. You watched one of those bastards kick Jacky in the head, and the other bite into Prism's wing, nearly ripping it off.
  4. >Jacky got one. She's a good kicker. She's always been a strong pony.
  5. >You don't feel bad about stabbing the other. You wish you could have just killed him. You're going to regret only threatening him with it.
  6. >You feel disgusted with yourself. You feel disgusted at having to fight. This isn't you. You never wanted this to be you.
  7. >It feels hard to breath
  8. >You keep below the bridge and stone streets, so at least on one will see you like this
  9. >You try to breath deep and violently sputter
  10. >You can taste blood
  11. >You can smell it too
  12. >Blood and urine and dirt
  13. >The whirlwind of sensations and thought that you could have died or killed someone catches up to you
  14. >You collapse after a few more steps and vomit on the ground
  15. >Damn it
  16. >You're going to get them for this
  17. >Jacky didn't start this, she didn't deserve this
  18. >Prism...
  19. >She could have stopped Jacky from getting kicked
  20. >You need to use magic
  21. >You need to stay awake
  22. >You can mend yourself again
  23. >You can feel where it hurts
  24. >You'll
  25. >Get
  26. >Through
  27. >Your vision fades
  28. >The last thing you're able to see is a growing puddle of red
  29. >Bastards
  31. >Your wake up with a bad taste in your mouth
  32. >You fell asleep with your mouth open again
  33. >You yawn and cough, lifting your head off of Anon's chest
  34. >No sign of Jacky or Prism
  35. >Both of them are probably in the living room
  36. >For a while now they've been sticking together like glue and laughing and having fun
  37. >You don't mind, you've been busy with your own stuff
  38. >And it means that you've gotten Anon to yourself
  39. >Your turn your head to watch Anon's face
  40. "Heeeey..."
  41. >You flop your head onto him
  42. "Heeey. Get up."
  43. >His head bolts up, but the rest of him stays flat
  44. >"Mm?"
  45. "Get up. You were having a bad dream."
  46. >"...I was?"
  47. >His eyes are still closed but he sounds and looks confused
  48. "Yeah. You should really..."
  49. >What did you do last night?
  50. >A co-op game?
  51. "...uh... watch it with the zombie stuff."
  52. >"Braaaaaaaaaaaaaain."
  53. >Anon rasps and drops his head back onto his pillow
  54. >He yawns out the start of a song and stretches out
  55. >His head pats your shoulder
  56. >"Ask the Jackerroni what she wants for breakfast."
  57. >You roll your eyes
  58. "She can do breakfast on her own now. Prism's been showing her how to do the basic stuff, even with hooves."
  59. >He inhales and nods
  60. >He hasn't been saying anything but you know that he's been stressed
  61. >Or just burnt out
  62. >You don't think it has anything to do with what goes on in the apartment
  63. >Except for when you and Prism grabbed all of those coins
  64. >Even though it was mostly you
  65. "Hey Anon..."
  66. >"Mmmm."
  67. >This makes you feel so stupid
  68. "...I really am sorry about the coins and all that."
  69. >"Is alright. I understand why you did it."
  70. >He said that every time after your first apology
  71. >It bothers you so much that he hasn't tried to do anything about it
  72. >Or maybe you just feel guilty
  73. "I mean it, you know..."
  74. >"I know you do, Spa-King. But it's done and done, right?"
  75. "I guess."
  76. >"Then is done and done."
  77. >He pets your shoulder more
  78. >You want a reason to feel angry but he just isn't giving you one
  79. >Even if he's completely in the right
  80. "...can I ask you something?"
  81. >"Mmm."
  82. >You don't want to keep bothering him but you want to talk to him
  83. "You... got today off, right?"
  84. >"Mmm... Saturday?"
  85. "I think..."
  86. >You look at the big, ever-illuminated desktop monitor
  87. "Yea-yes, yeah-hmm. Saturday's the twelfth."
  88. >"Eeeeeeegg-zack-lee."
  89. >He doesn't say more than that
  90. >You can hear Jacky talking about stuff
  91. >She sounds happy
  92. >Everyone was in such a slump but now everything is leveling out
  93. >Whatever Anon had going on, he hasn't spoken on it to anyone
  94. >You could have read his mind
  95. >But you didn't want to do that to him for something important
  96. >You can't even really remember the last time you used your magic on him for that sort of thing
  97. >Maybe you've been feeling more confident about speaking out genuinely
  98. >Or you're starting to respect his privacy
  99. >You don't like the possibility that it's the second option
  100. >You always respected his privacy
  101. >Kinda always
  102. "Anon."
  103. >"Sparkbug."
  104. "...Do you wanna tell me what happened?"
  105. >You can see anon's chest rise
  106. >And hear him sigh
  107. >"No... nah."
  108. "Why not?"
  109. >"Because you guys got your own stuff going on."
  110. "Jacky does... I don't."
  111. >Anon's hand slides up your shoulder
  112. >Up your neck
  113. >Into your mane
  114. >And slides over your face from the top of your head down to the front of your snout
  115. >You spit and sputter and lean back
  116. >"Heh heh heh..."
  117. >You grown and thrust one of your front hooves at his side
  118. "You ass..."
  119. >"Love you too, angry gamer pone."
  120. >You finally decide to get up, leaving Anon to his relaxation time
  121. >You stretch as you walk, reminded of the bad taste in your mouth
  122. >You really could use a drink
  123. >You stop when you see Jacky and Prism practicing some sort of maneuver
  124. >"I know the feel when we used to run! And then you..."
  125. >Jacky squats down and Prism awkwardly tries to sidestep over her
  126. >"And then I go... let's pack a meal and play in the sun!""
  127. >"Yeah yeah, like that, but... faster?"
  128. >"Jacky, I don't want to end up hitting you..."
  129. >"You won't, because you're gonna go fast and it'll look awesome!"
  130. >"It was easier with Sparking because she and I... oh, good morning."
  131. >Prism notices you first and smiles
  132. >Jacky looks up at the pegasus and then at you
  133. >"Oh, hey Sparky!"
  134. >You blink a few times
  135. >Jacky is still squatted down below Prism, between her legs
  136. "Pictures are worth a thousand words, aren't they."
  137. >Prism got the picture and quickly stepped to the side fully
  138. >"Is Anon still tired?"
  139. >Jacky is so oblivious sometimes
  140. >That ignites the tinder inside
  141. "Obviously, otherwise he'd be up and about."
  142. >Don't be so mean
  143. >You don't want to sound so bitter about it
  144. >Jacky doesn't seem to mind, but her smile doesn't seem as vibrant
  145. >"I think something's up with him... has anyone noticed that he's been kinda... different?"
  146. >You look at her
  147. >You catch Prism giving you a certain look
  148. >You shrug
  149. >"Well Jacky, you've changed too you know."
  150. "Yeah... you have. But you're still a chunk head."
  151. >"And Anon likes chunky grits so... you know. Chunky heads are in season too."
  152. >Jacky smugly smiles and nods at you
  153. >That doesn't get you angry
  154. >She's never made you all that angry
  155. >She's not stupid
  156. >Sometimes she just gets on your nerves
  157. >In some ways, she knows a lot that you don't
  158. "Yeah..."
  159. >You disengage and walk past them into the kitchen
  160. >"...oh wow. I didn't think I would win that one."
  161. >"Surprises happen all the time, Jacky."
  162. >Rather than getting a cup, you pour some water from the filtered pitcher into a ball contained by magic
  163. >It looks kinda neat
  164. >And it keeps you from having to use any sort of cup
  165. >Ever since you've been here, you've been wanting to improve
  166. >You aren't afraid of magic anymore
  167. >You aren't really afraid of what you're capable of either
  168. >You compress the ball of water until it's the size of a marble
  169. >If you were better then like you are now, you wouldn't have let all of that happen
  170. >The marble of compressed water shrinks further into a bead
  171. >You aren't angry at any of them
  172. >You really do value them
  173. >Without your friends, where would you be?
  174. >Would you have even made it this far without them?
  175. >You feel a strong spike of jaw-clenching anger
  176. >You compress the ball of water as much as you can
  177. >You've made things difficult for them
  178. >Every single fucking mistake you've made has left a mark on yourself, and on them, and on whatever your track record could look like if anyone cared enough to criticize your every failure
  179. >If only this ball was...
  180. >It's not really even a ball now
  181. >You release your magic
  182. >It swirls back to it's original volume, violently swirling about
  183. >It still just looks like water
  184. >You can see the glimpse of a reflection of yourself
  185. >You wish you could have changed more
  186. >But you're still only just you
  188. >After squirting the water into your mouth, you return to Anon's room
  189. >He's still laying there but at least he's awake
  190. >"Hey there, good morning."
  191. "It's not even morning anymore."
  192. >"Potato, grenado."
  193. >You climb onto the bed and sit on his lap
  194. "I'm gonna play some RE5... you want to play with?"
  195. >He hasn't played that in a while
  196. >He hasn't played that many games at all
  197. >He'll watch you and help out but you haven't done anything cooperative in a while
  198. >You lift a controller up to Anon's face
  199. "You know you wanna... and what're you gonna do otherwise, right?"
  200. >"Hmmm..."
  201. >He squints at you
  202. >You squint back
  203. >He squints harder
  204. >You squint so hard you can't even see
  205. >He goes limp and starts to loudly snore
  206. "Wha-hey!?"
  207. >You poke the controller into the side of his face
  208. "Wake up! You aren't escaping me this easily!"
  209. >On the third poke he grabs the controller and does his best to sound like an old man
  210. >"Bahh, when I was your age, I'd have let an old man sleep! Now you wake me from my crypt to shoot gators!"
  211. "Last time we played we didn't even get that far! Now come on."
  212. >After a little more bickering, the two of you finally get into it
  213. >Anon always preferred the close-range loud and heavy weaponry, which means explosives, hand cannons, and shotguns
  214. >So you backed him up with automatic weaponry and sniper rifles
  215. >Of course, aiming was a cinch for you
  216. >With your magic, you're pretty confident that you're one of the best players in the world
  217. >But Anon is also really good despite being slowed down by having to use his hands
  218. >Even though you like his hands
  219. >You like sitting on his lap too
  220. >"Alright, before I hurl you, take some handgun ammo."
  221. "Mind if I have that herb too?"
  222. >"Sure, grenade too. Clear a path and head down, I'll be down there."
  223. >You smirk
  224. "Kiss for luck?"
  225. >Rather than getting one, Anon's Chris hurls your Sheva across a frankly impressive distance across to another building
  226. >Anon isn't built anywhere resembling Chris but you still find it hard to believe that humans can just fling each other so far
  227. >Compared to the adrenaline pumping violent action going on screen, both of you are still just sitting there
  228. >Anon's still laying on his back but he has started to twist over to see the screen better
  229. >He told you once before how much he used to play it so you're not that surprised
  230. >Everything goes off without a hitch
  231. >Despite having both of your own weapon loadouts, you both have at least a handgun
  232. >It's the only shared resource to worry about, since healing items and grenades tend to come and go as required
  233. >With little communicative grunts and the occasional "gah damn it!", you clear the area and strip it clean of all treasure
  234. >Since it's technically a save file from a cleared game, nothing's stopping you from blazing through with fully upgraded guns
  235. >To keep the challenge, both you and Anon started by buying base stat guns and sticking with them
  236. >The harder difficulty mode helps balance it out
  237. >After a few other maps, you end up in a series of mines
  238. >A very dark series of mines
  239. >Dark enough where either you or him have to hold a light
  240. >Which means no attacking
  241. "Alright, want me to take the light?"
  242. >"Yeah, pause real quick."
  243. >You so do and 'wah!'
  244. >He turned to lay on his side and put his hand on your chest, letting you slide off of his lap without falling over
  245. >He pats your chest a few times
  246. >"Alright, now I'm more focused."
  247. >You're tempted to ask if you were distracting him
  248. "Alright... I'm relying on you now."
  249. >As many times as you've played through the segment, you always feel uneasy
  250. >You aren't afraid of the night
  251. >But you are afraid of just how sheer pitch dark it is
  252. >If the light doesn't touch it, it just doesn't exist
  253. >Except it does
  254. >And whatever it is, it watches you from the dark and somehow knows how to traverse the abyss
  255. >But Anon is with you
  256. >Only when you pass it and leave the light behind do you shiver
  257. "I'll never get used to that..."
  258. >"Seriously... alright Al, focus on those guys we can't reach with your rifle. After that, pretty much a free-for-all."
  259. >Who?
  260. "Who?"
  261. >It takes Anon a second to realize what he said
  262. >"Ah... yeah. Sorry."
  263. >You don't press it and pick off whatever poor sobs cross your hairs
  264. >You can't help but notice that Anon's play style is so different
  265. >Especially now
  266. >He always wears melee armor while you would prefer the extra inventory spot
  267. >Every other attack is a shotgun blast to someone's head
  268. >He enjoys the melee attacks too
  269. >You snort at the sight of him chucking a grenade at a crowd of enemies
  270. >He really isn't subtle, is he
  271. >He's never been subtle
  272. "Anon?"
  273. >"Mm?"
  274. "Y'having fun?"
  275. >"Mm."
  276. >A handful of enemies do come your way, of course
  277. >But Anon's aggro puts him in the center of a slaughter
  278. "...y'need some backup?"
  279. >"Mmm... nah. I think I'm good."
  280. >You pop the heads off of any enemy threatening his flank but for the most part he manages to take care of whatever remains
  281. >Until there are none left and just a half dozen glowing circles signalling treasure and ammo
  282. >Anon exhales, sighing
  283. >"That wasn't so bad."
  284. "...yeah. You didn't even touch the grenade launcher."
  286. >It's another night
  287. >Anon's tired but happy to hang out with you
  288. >While Jacky and Prism spent all day doing their thing, you focused more on an RPG
  289. >You've been hopping from game to game for weeks now, trying to find something that feels right
  290. >Giant wars where you're the chosen one from some long, forgotten group feel... boring
  291. >Small-time, rag-tag groups that end up fighting massive militaries and worse feel like a useless power trip
  292. >You found an interesting answer
  293. >Shin Megami Tensei
  294. >Something about it appeals to you
  295. >A normal person who ends up fighting monsters with nothing but normal person equipment
  296. >And gaining the power of demons in the process
  297. >More so, making pacts with them
  298. >Gaining dominance over them
  299. >Sacrificing them when it's appropriate
  300. >For all of the urges and thoughts you've had, this feels like a nice outlet
  301. >The music is nice too
  302. >Anon's sitting behind you with his back to the wall
  303. >Jacky said that she would come in later to sleep with him but from the sounds of the living room, she probably went to sleep on a pillow instead
  304. >"What do you think of your team so far?"
  305. >Anon's been watching you play without too much comment
  306. >Some fights have been frustrating
  307. >A lot of them have been
  308. >But whenever you growl or sigh, he gives you a bit of insight as to what might work
  309. >Of course he would know
  310. >But he isn't saying anything unless you more or less ask for it
  311. "It's... strong against force."
  312. >"One of your demons is strong against force."
  313. "Right... but if it gets hit, it can end the enemy's turn."
  314. >"Exactly. What else?"
  315. >You squint at your roster
  316. >You don't have any real 'favorites'
  317. "...almost all of them can heal?"
  318. >"Not all."
  319. "Well the three in my party do."
  320. >"And they're only as good for that when they're alive."
  321. >You grumble
  322. >It's such a pain to keep track of so many demons
  323. >Some of them evolve and change too, so you aren't even sure of which ones to keep
  324. >It's fun though
  325. "Hey Anon..."
  326. >You're stuck grinding for the next while anyway, no reason not to focus on talking for a while
  327. >"What's up?"
  328. >Keeping your eyes on the screen, you stand up and start to back up toward him
  329. >You keep going until you end up in his lap, at the center of his crossed legs
  330. >You nod to yourself and rest your head on his knee
  331. "If you had demons... and if you could take advantage of creatures that hold immense magic. Would you use them?"
  332. >"Yes."
  333. >That was quick
  334. >How quickly he said that makes you smile
  335. "What for?"
  336. >"Well. Presuming that all hell was breaking loose and that reality as I knew it was crumbling away... I suppose I'd use demons to strengthen myself. Learn their ways through their demonic whispers, fuse them as I saw fit, and make sure that I keep getting stronger, to command even better demons."
  337. "What about their wants and needs?"
  338. >"Who cares? They're demons."
  339. >You smile more
  340. >He's almost sadistic about it, isn't he?
  341. >"I suppose that's the wrong wording... specifically, if they become my demons, then that means that my goals are their goals now."
  342. "What if they get bored or change their minds?"
  343. >"Then I destroy them."
  344. "I suppose it is that easy to do, huh..."
  345. >You watch a few battles go by
  346. >Progress is so slow
  347. "So... say you had a demon, but only one. What would you do with h... it?"
  348. >"That's a good question... depends on the demon I suppose. In a few games of the series, you're a pretty normal person and you can become astoundingly rich by fighting demons. In some other games, they subsist off of something called magnetite. You can turn that into money. So I suppose I'd find a way to get rich."
  349. >He says that but he had a long talk with you about how stealing wouldn't help anything and was an actual bad idea
  350. "So you'd just worry about money?"
  351. >"For a time. But then I would want to find out about more demons. See what their abilities could really consist of. Learn what I could through them, if it's even possible. A lot of protagonists can't use magic at all so they're stuck with swords, guns, and whatever items they come across."
  352. >You shift and readjust in his lap to get more comfy
  353. >He pats the side of your stomach
  354. >It feels nice
  355. >You always feel a lot more calm around him
  356. >Far more at peace
  357. "So... what after? Would you worry about humans getting alienated from the demonically super-powered Anonymous?"
  358. >He chuckles
  359. >"Honestly? Not really. Throughout a lot of the games, since most tend to focus on the alignment scale of Law and Chaos... I find myself abiding by the chaotic characters more."
  360. >That doesn't make a lot of sense to you
  361. "So... between good and evil, you prefer evil?"
  362. >"No, good and evil have nothing to do with it."
  363. >You turn your head to look up at him
  364. >Your expression of confusion and 'are you kidding me' says enough to make him laugh
  365. >"Listen. Is everything lawful good?"
  366. "Psst... obviously not."
  367. >"Exactly. And is everything chaotic bad?"
  368. "Well... no... but?"
  369. >You get what he's trying to make but it still sounds awkward to listen to
  370. >"Well, but nothing. A lot of things in the SMT games go beyond morality of 'here, this is evil, you are evil if you do this'. After enough games and playing through so many scenarios... I don't know. I suppose I could trust demons more. Or, I guess 'trust' is a strong word. Who, and what, they are is on the outside. Not the inside."
  371. >That sounds deep
  372. >Far deeper than you thought you'd ever care to think about on a game like this
  373. >"What about you?"
  374. "Huh?"
  375. >"What would you do if you had a demon?"
  376. >What would you even want a demon for?
  377. "Well... I have magic. You know that."
  378. >"I do."
  379. "So... what do I need a demon for?"
  380. >"Well they're strong. And big. A lot are bigger and stronger than you. Some know magic you don't."
  381. >That uncomfortable truth bothered you
  382. "Yeah well not all magic is equal... so who cares if I'm lacking a certain type?"
  383. >"Well, not all magic is equal. But can you Media?"
  384. "That all-heal spell?"
  385. >"Yeah. If we're all hurt, can you do anything about it?"
  386. >You grumble
  387. >Of course you can't
  388. >You never even really... tried to do magic
  389. >It's always been sort of reflexive to you
  390. >It would be nice if you could just cast Fire or Agi and let it just happen
  391. "Well... in any case, if I had a demon. I guess I'd do the same. Except I don't really care about money. I have everything I want already."
  392. >That's a lie
  393. >But you're ok with telling just a little lie
  394. "Maybe I would want to get stronger too, to defend what I wanted."
  395. >You focus on the three demons on your team
  396. >Your best one is some weird winged thing wearing unusual clothing
  397. >It also wears a mask that has a long nose
  398. "I... don't think I would be friends with them. They look too weird."
  399. >"You'd just them by looks?"
  400. "Given they're murderous demons from who knows where? Yeah. Wouldn't you?"
  401. >"...point. I guess I'm used to seeing them."
  402. >He shrugs and pets your stomach again
  403. "What if... you were a demon?"
  404. >"That's a good question. I suppose I would just have to be myself."
  405. >That makes you laugh
  406. "You're already yourself."
  407. >"Sure, but I wouldn't ever hide anything."
  408. >That makes sense
  409. >It's been hard to fight the urge, but you haven't poked into his head for a long time now
  410. >You kinda miss it
  411. >You want to know what he's thinking right now
  412. >You want to know what his issues are
  413. >You just want to know more
  414. "If I were a demon... I think I would do that more. I would just get stronger and get what I wanted. After all, what can stop a demon, right?"
  416. >It's another night playing SMT with Anon watching
  417. >Like last night, you got into his lap again
  418. >Jacky and Prism have been on their own movie marathon
  419. >Disney movies, last time you checked
  420. >You made some progress, though it was slow
  421. >After a few more areas, you come across...
  422. >A message
  423. >It reads "The flames of the [Candelabrum of Sovereignty] are flickering wildly...]
  424. "W... Anon?"
  425. >"Yes?"
  426. "...what does this mean?"
  427. >"Don't you remember why you got it?"
  428. "I... uh... maybe?"
  429. >After walking around more, another message appears
  430. >It reads "You can feel the presence of a terrifying demon..."
  431. >Given everything you've come across so far, you're maybe a little worried
  432. >You've come close to death far too many times to be comfortable
  433. >And unlike other games, once you're dead, your demons abandon you and that's the end of it
  434. "Uh, Anon? Little translation here?"
  435. >Your voice raises
  436. >Did you heal up everyone?
  437. >How is your MP reserve?
  438. >"Uh oh."
  439. "Uh oh?!"
  440. >"Uh oh, big time."
  442. >You continue the game's dialogue
  443. >Except now someone's talking
  444. >Not really talking, it's all text
  445. >"The flames of the candelabrum beckon me to the battlefield!"
  446. >"I do not know who you are, but... if you have a candelabrum, it is our destiny to fight."
  447. >"Let us duel to the death within my realm, where no one can interrupt us!"
  448. >Just like that a red circle forms around your character and they drop into it!
  449. "UH OH."
  450. >"Uh oh."
  452. >Your character gracelessly drops into a blood red plateau where lightning, or what looks like lightning, strikes the ground all around
  453. >"The victor shall claim the loser's candelabrum, and return in triumph."
  454. >The Mysterious Voice speaks more until it reveals...
  455. >A skeleton?
  456. >A human skeleton!?
  457. >One named Matador
  458. >"I challenge you to a duel, to see which of us is truly worthy of the candelabra... I swear, by my sword and capote, that I will once again prove victorious!"
  459. >You whip your head back to Anon
  460. >He has to give you some advice, right?!
  461. >He looks at you and shrugs
  462. >"This didn't happen the last time I played it..."
  463. "WAIT, WHAT?! HOW?!"
  464. >You focus back on the screen
  465. >The high-tension music is really starting to get to you
  466. >"Now, let the battle begin!"
  467. >Just like that, you're forced into a battle
  468. >The high-tension music morphs into something far more...
  469. >Menacing
  470. >Faster paced
  471. >You watch as he maximizes his agility on the first turn, as his first action
  473. >"Better make your moves and make them count... you really aren't going to escape from this."
  475. >You set your Tengu, Jack Frost and Uzume to action, focusing the most on keeping your health high
  476. >Your magic state is high but you don't know the skeleton's weaknesses
  477. >Your blood turns ice cold as the song erupts with ghostly vocalizations that steal your breath
  478. >This can't be a fight you're supposed to win
  479. >But if you lose... you die
  480. >You struggle to hit him for various turns
  481. >And then it happens
  482. >Andalucia
  483. >Though it's one attack, the skeleton unleashes a literal barrage on your entire team!
  484. >Jack Frost is killed!
  485. >Uzume is killed!
  486. >He then uses an attack that increases your attack
  487. >But it also drops your defense
  488. "Wh... WHAT THE FUCK?! ANON, HELP ME!"
  489. >"You see that he's using force attacks. Don't you have a demon that's immune?"
  490. >Like a ray of sunlight through the storm, he reminds you of that demon with the long nose you kept around but stopped caring to level up
  491. "I got it!"
  492. >You summon that to the fray and keep a righteously desperate struggle to stay alive
  493. >Though you think you're doing enough damage to kill a normal demon twenty times over, it just isn't ending!
  494. >You revive or summon backup where you can
  495. >Maybe one demon out of your active party of four can afford to attack
  496. >With the tengu demon out, Matador's Mazan attack is nullfied!
  497. >Everyone else still takes damage but it affects his turns!
  498. "Just die! JUST DIE!"
  499. >You haven't saved in hours and this sort of in-your-face horror is so far and beyond any other game you've played
  500. >Unable to use anymore MP, you command your Tengu to attack the Matador
  501. >And it dies!
  502. >You hold your breath, unsure of what that means
  503. >Your answer comes in the form of the spoils screen!
  504. >Everything still alive, your character included, level up at least once
  506. >All of the pent up energy you had explodes all at once
  507. >You jam your hoof out forward, as if to show the humanoid skeleton what for
  509. >You can hear Anon
  510. >"Demi-fiend, Sparkoo."
  512. >Shivering with leftover adrenaline, you carry on with the game
  513. >You obtain another Candelabrum
  514. >Your character starts to hear a Lady's Voice, talking about how the candelabrums attract one another and that there's some labyrinth to go to next
  515. >Once it ends, you're left off exactly where you were before
  516. >Weakened
  517. >Still a little scared
  518. >But stronger for it, objectively
  519. >You shiver and go completely limp in Anon's lap
  520. >You drop the controller, your mind fried
  521. >Now that you've been having to keep track of MP, you start to wonder if you have MP as well
  522. >You must be getting low
  523. "Anon... can you pet my mane?"
  524. >"Sure. Want me to cruise you over to the closest save point too?"
  525. "No... no, I'll do that. I just need to... man. Those zombie guys were fun to shoot but that's because it was with you. And even then, we had such awesome stuff to kill them with. But this... I don't feel safe. I feel like a single slip up could do me in."
  526. >"That's the SMT charm alright. I gotta admit, it's really great to watch someone play through this."
  527. >You sigh
  528. "Well I'm glad at least you like it..."
  529. >You can feel Anon sliding his hands through your mane
  530. >You never bother to brush it or anything so it usually looks really messy
  531. >It helps differentiate you from that Twilight character so you like it
  532. >It's grown too, so it's not entirely like hers anymore anyway
  533. >She would probably never get half as far as you
  534. >You chuckle to yourself
  535. >It's not a petty thought, you're just being honest
  536. "My MP is tapped... where are the chakra drops?"
  537. >"You have MP now?"
  538. "Yesss... and it's empty."
  539. >You didn't really know how magic worked before
  540. >For the longest time you just didn't want to use magic
  541. >You didn't want to hurt yourself
  542. >Or anyone else
  543. >You never even really read up on unicorns or how they did magic
  544. >After so many demons having so many spells, and after learning so many moves, you realize that there's a whole lot more to magic than what you ever thought
  545. >What would you even classify the magic that you do have now?
  546. >Your self-conscious internal audit ends when you feel Anon's hands leave your head
  547. >You look up at him and smile
  548. >"Feel better?"
  549. >You nod and rest your head on his knee, curling up into yourself hard
  550. >"I'm gonna get you to a save point..."
  551. "Alright. I trust you."
  552. >You sigh and inhale
  553. >You feel so accomplished
  554. >You didn't really do a lot throughout the day when Anon was at work
  555. >But when he was there to watch?
  556. >You felt like you won a real fight
  557. >You feel better than when you won a real fight
  558. >This must be what he feels when he plays games like that
  559. >"...oops, I got you killed."
  560. >Your eyes burst open
  561. "YOU WHAT?!"
  562. >You whip your head to the screen
  563. >'re fine
  564. >You whip your head to Anon
  565. >He's smiling at you
  566. >Smirking
  567. >"You know I had to do that at least once."
  568. "Ugh... you suck..."
  569. >You jab your head at his arm, winning a glancing blow
  570. >Your horn isn't actually all that sharp
  571. >Maybe it'll get sharper once you level up or something
  573. >It's another evening playing games with Anon...
  574. >Except Jacky is around this time
  575. >Already a little bitter that you can't sit in his lap, you resign yourself to his left side
  576. >Jacky's sitting on Anon's lap, her lower legs resting over his and her front legs in the air
  577. >Anon's been controlling her like a puppet ever since she sat down
  578. >It's annoying how in sync they are
  579. >"So... you went through that branch already, right?"
  580. >He moves his arm, making Jacky point with her hoof at the right side of the screen
  581. >"The real right side here or the last one?"
  582. >"Either."
  583. >It's obvious that she has no clue what she's looking at
  584. >But to be fair even you're having difficulties trying to remember where you've been to before
  585. >The map system doesn't really seem to help
  586. >"Maybe..."
  587. >"That way."
  588. >She speaks and he finishes her sentence, using her to point
  589. "It's not that way... that way is the dead end that took like twenty battles to realize and come back from..."
  590. >"Damn..."
  591. >"It..."
  592. >If they're trying to be funny, it really isn't
  593. >Time slips by as you wander throughout the confusing dungeon
  594. >"I love what I can see... what's expected of you, what's expected of me?"
  595. >He holds up Jacky's front legs, bringing them down
  596. >One points to the side to you
  597. >One points to herself
  598. >She doesn't actually look like she cares what he's doing
  599. >She just looks... happy
  600. >Another half hour passes
  601. >"Duhh duh duh duh!"
  602. >"Ah am yer lord an' savior!"
  603. >"Duhh duh duh duh!"
  604. >"Ah have yer back, to tha wall!"
  605. >"Duhh duh duh duh!"
  606. >"Strike without grace!"
  607. >As stupid as they've been, you've been pursing your lips to stop from smiling
  608. >Anon's been giving deep "duh"s for at least seven fights now
  609. >While shaking her hooves and shoulders, she bleats out the lyrics with her best Applejack impression
  610. >"Duhh duh duh duh!"
  611. >"Drink of the wine of the wrath of Ma!"
  617. >After more than a few headaches, you end up at the dungeon boss
  618. >Compared to before, they're both silent
  619. >Except for the little grunting they're doing
  620. >Anon moves Jacky's legs in tune with the lyrics of the boss theme
  621. >She wriggles back and forth in tune with it, squinting whenever the enemy gets another turn
  622. >You're able to focus
  623. >Obviously
  624. >But you can't help but think of how stupid they look
  625. >Anon's smarter than this
  626. >But he's just so... content with something so basic
  627. >Jacky, shocking no one, is just happy to be there
  628. >She occasionally asks him questions but it's always in a whisper that breaks their little playing
  629. >You would never want to be played with like some sort of doll
  630. >Even if he hugs her
  631. >Or occasionally kisses the side of her head, behind her ear
  632. >Or mentions how he has an itch on his face, then moves her hoof to scratch it, and thanks her
  633. >They look stupid
  634. >Absolutely stupid
  635. >Your main demon finally scores a fatal blow and the enemy dies
  636. >You wish he could do that with you too
  637. "Finally! Screw you and your two sisters!"
  638. >"Yaaaaay!"
  639. >Jacky lets out a quiet cheer while Anon waves her hooves back and forth
  640. >"Very nice, Sparkler. It seems like you have a pretty reliable dynamic going on."
  641. "Yeah... I guess those fiends really do come in handy."
  642. >You can't help but feel like it's a hollow victory
  643. >If Jacky were back out in the living room with Prism you'd be able to have... tried something
  644. >You aren't sure what
  645. >But you feel
  646. >Alone
  647. >Like you, the titled Demi-Fiend protagonist is alone in an alien world
  648. >The people you know seem to be doing fine and are safe and sound
  649. >But you're the one who has to wander without aid
  650. >"Sparky?"
  651. >"What's up Sparks?"
  652. >You don't reply
  653. >It's not fair
  654. >You can do more things
  655. >You can use magic
  656. >You've been able to help out more too
  657. >You want to cry
  658. >But instead you just feel angry
  659. >Demi-fiend never once cried
  660. "I'll win..."
  661. >You growl to yourself
  662. >"Spooky."
  663. >"Well you sure got a team plan down to debilitate and buff."
  664. >More time passes
  665. >Anon and Jacky went to sleep while you stuck to your game
  666. >He basically just flopped onto his back and she slithered halfway up his chest before passing out
  667. >While you're tired too, that smoldering anger keeps you from being able to wind down for the night
  668. >You glare at the pair every now and again, expecting one of them to notice your schemes
  669. >Without wondering if you should, you begin to reach for Anon with your magic
  670. >Like you did when you were first fighting over the right to play games whenever you wanted
  671. >Ever since that peek into his head
  672. >Into his life
  673. >Into who he is
  674. >You've wanted to see more
  675. >You've wanted to feel more
  676. >You wanted him to think of you more
  677. >You watch him as you peer into his mind
  678. >He hasn't been wanting to open up to you for a while
  679. >That's fine
  680. >You'll let yourself in
  681. >All at once, you see and feel everything that he's been up to
  682. >Fatigue
  683. >A sense of loneliness that feels similar to your own, somehow
  684. >Concern
  685. >Worry?
  686. >Why would he worry about any of you dying?
  687. >You disconnect and stare blankly at the screen
  688. >It's not any of you that are dying
  689. >It's one of his kind
  690. >Family
  691. >You sorta forgot that he even had human relatives
  692. >You don't think he ever really mentioned them
  693. >A cold wave of panic goes down your neck
  694. >What do you do with this?
  695. >How can you help him?
  696. >What could you say?
  697. >What could any of you say?
  698. >You barely resist the urge to shake him awake
  699. >You couldn't do that and just ask him something like that out of the blue
  700. >But you can't do nothing either
  701. >You watch him sleep with Jacky
  702. >He acts so dumb sometimes
  703. >Like nothing could ever get him down
  704. "You... idiot..."
  705. >You can't be mad.
  706. >You can't be anything
  707. >Like the Demi-fiend, all you can do is move forward
  708. >You can think, at least
  709. >Plan
  710. >You'll find a way to make a difference
  711. >The only question is if you should tell Jacky and Prism about what's going on too
  713. >It's another night with Anon
  714. >Now that you know that he's been worried about family dying, you've been noticing every single cue
  715. >Every delayed smile, like it's a conscious effort
  716. >Every zoned out look at nothing, like he's contemplating something
  717. >Jacky's back in the living room with Prism again
  718. >The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is playing
  719. >You can hear them both laugh at certain parts
  720. >They're probably trying to do that MST3K thing
  721. >Anon would probably love doing that too
  722. "Hey Anon."
  723. >You turn back to look at him with a smile
  724. >It's a real smile, not a smirk
  725. >You're doing your best to make sure of that
  726. "Don't you wanna go out there with those two goobers and make fun of Blondie or Tuco?"
  727. >It takes a second for him to reply, sitting with his back against the wall again
  728. >Given how much you and him sit on his mattress, it may as well be a flat couch
  729. >"Me? Nah.. no, that's alright."
  730. >As goofy as he is normally, this feels like a big shift
  731. >It's not just fatigue, otherwise he'd have taken a nap
  732. >He looks right past you, at the monitor you've been playing on
  733. >You've hit a wall in progress and have spent the day grinding on and off
  734. >Whether or not it's the game itself or for other reasons, you haven't been able to just back out of it and do other things
  735. >Jacky and Prism have been doing everything together again
  736. >Which is good
  737. >You're happy for them
  738. >But you can't help but feel like it's back to the old days
  739. >"Trying to grind up for a fiend?"
  740. >You give a heavy sigh
  741. "I keep dying... and every new boss is getting harder to just skate by. So I want stronger demons. I like some of them... but I need to become stronger."
  742. >"Tell me about it."
  743. >You raise an eyebrow at him
  744. >He notices your accusatory look and shakes his head
  745. >"Digital Devil Saga 1... I spent at least a solid... I don't even know, at least 20 hours grinding at the end of the game. Because I wanted to have 100% cleared skills for the transfer save bonus to the second game."
  746. >You grimace
  747. "Holy crap... was it worth it?"
  748. >Anon's eyes go wide
  749. >He slowly shakes his head while mouthing a large 'NO'
  750. >You scoff at his answer
  751. "I couldn't do that... "
  752. >"You sure as hell shouldn't. Shit sucked. Out of all of the games I played of this series, that was my first title. And it really whipped the shit out of me."
  753. "Why?"
  754. >"Because it was really difficult. It required a ton of thinking and pattern recognition. It wasn't at all like the slugfests that you've been dealing with of heal-attack-heal-attack."
  755. >Personally you always preferred just going at it and giving it your all
  756. "It sounds difficult..."
  757. >Even though you're stuck on trying to figure out how a puzzle boss would go since it's in combat, you say something without really meaning to
  758. "Anon, I love you. No matter what's going on, you have me. You have Jacky. And you even have Prism. So... I guess just remember that if nothing else. Ok?"
  759. >You're taken off guard by your own words but you watch Anon for any sort of reaction
  760. >You can't believe you just did that
  761. >What's he going to think?
  762. >He just watches you
  763. >He finally gives you a smile
  764. >It looks like it hurts
  765. >You remember that smile
  766. >You remember being out on the outside balcony with him like it was yesterday
  767. >That smile still makes your stomach wrap itself into a knot
  768. >"Yeah... I love you too, Shine. Just like I love Jacky."
  769. >He pauses on purpose
  770. >"And yeah, even Prism too."
  771. >Was this a confession?
  772. >Of course it wasn't
  773. >But what if it was?
  774. >Obviously it wasn't
  775. >But what if he proved it?
  776. >Obviously he wouldn't
  777. >Before you can ask yourself anymore questions, you feel a pair of strong, human arms scoop you up
  778. >Your focus is completely erased and your controller falls onto the bed
  779. >You close your eyes and pucker your lips expecting something but
  780. >He just hugs you close to his chest
  781. >With your tail near one shoulder and your head near his other
  782. >Your heart beats a mile a minute at this move, even if it wasn't what you thought it'd be
  783. >He buries his head into your side
  784. >"If this really is happening, I may be the last one, Shine. And I don't know what I'll do once that happens. I'm a man without a country already. Take away what little family I have left and... that'll just be it. It'll end with me."
  785. >Though he's partially speaking into your side, you can hear him perfectly
  786. >Every part of you focuses on him
  787. >His breathing
  788. >His grip
  789. >The tremors in his hands
  790. >How quiet he is
  791. >How you can feel his closed eyes pressing into your ribs
  792. >You don't need magic for this
  793. >You lean your head to the side against the front of his shoulder
  794. >What can you say?
  795. >You know you don't have any family
  796. >If you ever had family to begin with
  797. >You know that you... don't even know where you came from
  798. >But he did
  799. >Probably
  800. >He must have, at some point
  801. >"This is some rough shit, Shine..."
  802. >You absolutely love him calling you that
  803. >You really don't know what caused it
  804. >But you want it to stay that way
  805. >You can shine for him
  806. >Easily
  807. "...wanna play some Soul Caliber? Remember the first time we did that?"
  808. >You don't really get a reply out of him
  809. >Just a tightened grip on the hug
  810. "I'm here now... doing the best I can."
  811. >You aren't great at singing but you remember the lyrics like the back of your hoof
  812. "Where are you now? Did your dreams come true...?"
  813. >You hear a heavy sigh into your side
  814. >Anon's breath feels like fire
  815. >"Here we go..."
  816. >It feels like forever passes
  817. >He doesn't say anything
  818. >You don't say anything
  819. >You're just enjoying his hold on you
  820. >Except
  821. >The way he's squeezing down on you
  822. >It's different
  823. >Anon's breathing is changing too
  824. >The hair on the back of your mane starts to stand on end
  825. >This is no longer something loving
  826. >This is tension
  827. >This sort of tension makes you shiver despite the warmth of the room
  828. >Your legs tense up
  829. >Your ears twitch, as if to pick up any of the most minor of movements
  830. >...
  831. >...
  832. >NOW!
  833. >Anon launches you up into the air the same second you kick off of his forearms
  834. >Though you're in the air for only a second, you spin around and move to hit him with a dive kick!
  835. >He punches up, his knuckles meeting your hoof
  836. >For that split second, you see it
  837. >The fierce, burning soul of a fighter
  838. >That exact moment in time will never leave you
  839. >Your mouth opens as he does
  840. >You both know what time it is
  841. >You both know that neither of you are going to back down, no matter what you are to each other
  842. >There is only one way to settle this
  843. >Your voice bellows out with him
  844. >There's only one thing that needs to be said
  845. "SPARKING!"
  847. >Despite it being a Saturday, you haven't been doing nearly as much with Anon as you wanted
  848. >He's been napping all day long, waking up only long enough to go to the bathroom, drink something, or ask you what's up
  849. >You like it, since you've been grinding away in your game while either sitting on him or laying across his torso
  850. >Jacky really hasn't been around him a lot
  851. >Which means that Prism has been doing her part
  852. >With the sun going down, everything in the apartment feels so much nicer
  853. >Deciding that you may as well be social, you slowly slide off of Anon's body
  854. >Whether or not Jacky would approve...
  855. >Well, she isn't here, now is she?
  856. >You smile to yourself
  857. >You're his Shine
  858. >You've never been called that by anyone
  859. >You've never really had enough people around you for any of them to even attempt to call you something like that
  860. >The only living thing that's been close to you, back then, was... just Jacky
  861. >But even then it's not like you were really that close
  862. >Maybe it would have been nice if you were closer
  863. >You're still solid friends now, so does it matter?
  864. >While making your way to the living room, Jacky zips by
  865. >"heytheresparkybyetheresparky!"
  866. >You scrunch your face at how close she was to knocking into you
  867. >Well, whatever
  868. >You come across Prism, who is so eloquently draping herself across a few pillow
  869. >"Good evening, Sparking. It's nice to see you come out of your Anon cave."
  870. >It sounds like it's a bit of a prod but you don't really feel that aggressive today
  871. "Good to see you too, believe it or not."
  872. >You both smile at the light sparring
  873. >Things really do feel like they're beginning to fit into place
  874. "So hows your side of the plan?"
  875. >Prism smiles, her wings shifting on her back
  876. >"Wonderful! I feel like we're little fillies again. I really do miss it..."
  877. >She sighs
  878. >"I doubt you remember, you didn't know either of us well. But remember that time I tried to act like some noblemare's daughter?"
  879. >You vaguely remember something like that
  880. >It was one of Prism's first attempts at her main skill
  881. >Lying
  882. >You were sort of weary of her for the longest time because she always made these tall tales or came up with these extravagant dreams of how things would be
  883. >You never liked them
  884. >Jacky did
  885. >Maybe she came up with all of that stuff to keep morale up
  886. >Looking back on how things were, maybe you can't blame her
  887. "Yeah... not really."
  888. >You shake your head, still smiling
  889. "You know, I just... didn't get you two. I really didn't. I could imagine having a friend that was that close and thought I was that valuable. I really could. But I never thought I'd get one. Not while I was some... creature living off of crusts."
  890. >"And now look at us..."
  891. >The look on Prism's face is one of supreme victory
  892. >You nod
  893. "Yeah... look at us now..."
  894. >"Speaking of us... how's Anon? I admit, I feel a little bad for how I've been before toward him. It seems like he just does his thing while we do our own. Is he really always like that?"
  895. >Of course he isn't
  896. >When it was just you and Jacky, they were all over each other
  897. >They still technically are, but they've been separated successfully to the point that it's more common that only you get to sleep near him
  898. >Neither of them know about what's going on with his family either
  899. >As important as that is...
  900. >You can't be the one to tell them
  901. >You can't be the one to tell Jacky that
  902. >But Anon hasn't had the chance
  903. >Maybe... he should
  904. "He... he's ok. Yeah."
  905. >You can't help but feel something resembling guilt
  906. "Hey, listen... he's not a bad guy. He's really not. If you think you can go a night or something without Jacky, let's let them have a little alone time, huh?"
  907. >"We'll see. I'm in no rush to give her up again. Did you know that there are books in spoken format too? We've been listening to dozens of them! And some on this world's history, too... do you remember much about where we came from?"
  908. "I... no. Not really. Last thing I remember of there..."
  909. >You get an uncomfortable feel in your chest
  910. "Do you remember that fight we were in? It feels like... well, it felt like I died there. What happened to Jacky?"
  911. >Prism's smile shrinks
  912. >"She was bucked in the head a good time or two... honestly, I was worried."
  913. >She makes herself smile
  914. >"To be honest maybe the kick made her smarter."
  915. >But the smile vanishes
  916. >There's no happiness in her eyes
  917. >"I was scared to death... I don't remember what happened to me. I didn't care, honestly. But I needed to find a way to help her."
  918. >You remember that she looked roughed up bad
  919. >And her wing...
  920. >"You know, Sparking... Jacky was worried about you. Up until..."
  921. >She blinks hard a few times
  922. >"Up until... would you call it 'the end'?"
  923. >The morbid tone she takes upsets your stomach and your chest severely
  924. >Specifically, you can feel your ribs
  925. >Or rather, you can feel how they were
  926. >You blink hard and remind yourself that you can breath like normal now
  927. "T... that wasn't the end of anything. We recovered from that, right?"
  928. >You really can't remember anything from between that point to... waking up in Anon's apartment
  929. >His voice was familiar though
  930. >When you woke up, you knew who you were talking to
  931. >You recognized his voice faster than you recognized Jacky's
  932. "Prism, what do you remember after th-"
  934. >You instinctively duck down
  935. >Jacky soars overhead, bellyflopping onto a well-squished pillow
  936. >You were wondering why that one looked particularly beat up
  937. >It must've been her training dummy
  938. >"Sparky, come watch with us!"
  939. "Watch what?"
  940. >"War documentary!"
  941. >With the faint feeling of broken ribs still in your mind, you back away with a hesitant shake of the head
  942. "No... no, I'm alright."
  943. >"Aw come on... you like games with guns and stuff too, right?"
  944. >"It's alright if she doesn't want to join us, Jacky. It'll just be her loss, right?"
  945. >Prism gives you a wink
  946. >Jacky smirks
  947. >"Ahhh... yeah. It'll just be your loss if you don't do it."
  948. "Yeah... I'm losing out on a lot, alright. Not like I care about history anyway. We're here now, that's all that matters, right?"
  949. >You trot away with a smile
  950. >You want to believe that, anyway
  951. >You return to Anon's bed and climb on top of him
  952. "Hey... hey wake up."
  953. >You push down on his chest with your front hooves and rock back and forth
  954. "Anon... come on, wake up."
  955. >Anon, with what can only be practiced reflexes, snatches you and holds you down against him
  956. >"Mmm in a minute Jack."
  957. >His voice rumbles in his chest, right into your ear
  958. >Wait a minute
  959. >Did he call you Jacky?
  960. >Did you do a Jacky thing of all things?!
  961. >You squint with your mouth open
  962. >After letting the knowledge ferment in your head, you thrash about
  963. "I'm not that chunkhead you idiot! Get up so I can ask you something!"
  964. >"Mehh meh meh meh mehh..."
  965. >Anon mocks you while rolling his head back and forth
  967. >"Meh meh meh meh meeeeehh! Meh mehh meh meh!"
  968. >The way he contorts his face doesn't help at all
  969. "THAT DOES IT, I'M-"
  970. >"Calm down, Shine... I'm sorry for sleeping in so much."
  971. >Just like that, you're defused
  972. >You swear you had more than enough energy to spare to flail around but you just can't do anything more but lay limp like a ragdoll
  973. "'re calling me that thing again."
  974. >"So Shiny... shiny like my heinie."
  975. >Wait what
  976. "...did you just call me your butt."
  977. >"Yes."
  978. >Maybe you've been getting a little too emotionally invested in his words because right now you aren't sure what to feel
  979. "Anon?"
  980. >"Yup?"
  981. "Are you finally up?"
  982. >"I didn't have a choice."
  983. "Good. I hate you."
  984. >Freaking Anon
  985. >You wanted to ask him something you thought might be important but you can't just do that now
  986. >"Whip it out."
  987. >What
  988. "...what."
  989. >"Whip it out, babe."
  990. >He speaks in some sort of nasally... accent?
  991. >"Jacko ain't got her sword-o."
  992. "I swear if this is another joke of yours, I'm going to-"
  994. >The funny voice and weird words make you regain all of the energy you had and then some
  995. >You scream and flail all of your legs around, whipping your head back and forth until he lets go of you
  996. >"Woah... razzmatazz with a spazz... what's up, spark in the dark?"
  997. >You move back to a sitting position, glaring down at him
  998. "You..."
  999. >You sigh and shake off your excess energy
  1000. >At least he's looking at you now
  1001. "Listen... do... do you wanna help me learn more about my past?"
  1002. >"Your past?"
  1003. "Yeah..."
  1004. >"Where in your past?"
  1005. >That was... a good question
  1006. "I.. don't know. The last thing I remember."
  1007. >"What about the rest of your past?"
  1008. "Well... that's sort of a longer story."
  1009. >"I'm awake."
  1010. >Would you be fine with telling him what you remember?
  1011. >Wait a minute
  1012. "Hey don't try to distract me! I'm talking about what I last remember and how I got here?"
  1013. >"And... what even is that?"
  1014. "I-"
  1015. >You forgot that what you and Prism and Jacky know isn't exactly what he knows
  1016. >Whatever he does know about your past, or Jacky's
  1017. "...nevermind."
  1018. >"Oh come on, don't tempt me like that. Why not just start from the beginning?
  1019. "Eh... haven't you heard something like that from Jacky?"
  1020. >"Maybe. I haven't heard that sort of thing from you."
  1021. >He has a point
  1022. >And it is a way to get closer to him
  1023. "Alright... I guess I can, since you pushed me so hard on it."
  1024. >"Oh yeah, totally. I woke you up and went 'please sing to me the song of your people'!"
  1025. >He stares at you
  1026. >You stare at him
  1027. "...I hate you."
  1028. >"Then smite me with your history already."
  1030. "I'll smite you, you..."
  1031. >You grumble and sigh
  1032. "I just... I feel like I'm nothing, you know? Without a past, roots, I'm kinda just here. And I want to know more of who I was. What I did."
  1033. >"Yeah... I get that."
  1034. "Do you really?"
  1035. >"Sure. My family is so worthless that a lot of the time it feels like I'm the only one of my... what, clan? Like I'm really all I will ever amount to. No generation-passed knowledge, wealth or land. What I have here is pretty much all I've ever had, and most likely will be all I ever do have. Just as my physical family..."
  1036. >He pokes your nose with his finger
  1037. >"Is you three. If I have cousins or extended family, I don't know them, they don't know me, and there's absolutely no value there for either parties."
  1038. >You hate how easily he can say something like that
  1039. >How could anyone be so... proud of that?
  1040. >But the tone and smile he has doesn't say that he's proud either
  1041. "...well I guess you do know."
  1042. >"Yeah. But I also kinda know my family's history, so there's that... but what good does it honestly do me, right?"
  1043. "I guess. But... I would like to know mine. I want to know why I ended up where I did. I want to know why I couldn't have just been born... better?"
  1044. >"To grow up and not feel like you're trash?"
  1045. "Yeah..."
  1046. >"I wouldn't blame you. If I could have, honestly? I don't know if I wouldn't mind having a cosmic re-roll on life."
  1047. >That sounds nice
  1048. >Except
  1049. "But then we wouldn't be here."
  1050. >"Exactly."
  1051. "And if I had a re-roll too..."
  1052. >"You'd be living in peace, have a few thousand suitors and have never learned how to style on foes in God Hand."
  1053. "That would suck."
  1054. >It really would, too
  1055. >You really aren't too sure of what you want
  1056. "I want to learn about my past... but. Do you honestly think it will make me happy?"
  1057. >Anon looks at you
  1058. >Like he's studying your face
  1059. >He doesn't look like he's trying to joke or make a silly expression
  1060. >"What would your past give you that you don't already have now?"
  1061. >That question
  1062. >How are you supposed to answer that?
  1063. "Well... closure."
  1064. >"On what?"
  1065. "Why I..."
  1066. >Oh come on
  1067. >He's really just not shying away from this
  1068. >Maybe you need to be stronger too
  1069. "Why I was abandoned. Left to crawl around the muck and pick rat shit out of my mane. Left to learn magic on my own, and to nearly kill innocent ponies with it. Which freaked me out so much I just couldn't so much as move a cup. Which made me feel even more weak and worthless. Which made me rely on Jacky and Prism for nearly everything that I couldn't solve by sneaking around and stealing pathetic little things so I could suffer to the next day and why I couldn't have just have grown up normal like other ponies and not be such... trash."
  1070. >It all comes out in one solid head rush
  1071. >It's a weird sensation
  1072. >Like you're not even in your own head
  1073. >Kinda like you're floating a little and your mouth is just moving on it's own
  1074. >The really weird thing is that you aren't even crying
  1075. >Crying wouldn't help you
  1076. >It didn't help you then
  1077. "I want to know why I had to be born and live this life, Anon."
  1078. >"Do your think your parents would have an answer that's good enough to satisfy you? That deep gut flame that's burning you from the inside out?"
  1079. >You can feel your ears flatten
  1080. >The out of touch feeling comes back and hits you from the back of your head
  1081. >You bare your teeth
  1082. >You aren't able to help yourself
  1083. "They'll have MY answer. I'll make them regret it."
  1084. >The anger you've felt before really doesn't compare to this feeling
  1085. >This is fury
  1086. >You want, so badly, to cause whoever left you in the sewage inconceivable harm
  1087. >You want to be the worst you can be, and show them a fraction of what you've had to endure
  1088. >You want it so bad you're shaking
  1089. >For a split second, you can almost see Anon as the one who brought you into this world
  1090. >If he knew what he did by bringing you into the chance to remember, he'd
  1091. >No
  1092. >No, you can't think that
  1093. >The quaking in your hooves and the tense stress you've been putting into your legs die down
  1094. >Your hooves keep trembling though
  1095. "I want to know why it had to be me that turned out so bad. I want to know why they didn't care enough to do more for me. To do at least the baseline of care. If I had foals, I'd never even think about abandoning them..."
  1096. >"That's a tall ask... what else do you want help to remember?"
  1097. >You can tell that he's trying to be helpful
  1098. >You appreciate it
  1099. >You really do
  1100. >But you want to scream at him because you feel like you need to badmouth the ponies you don't even know
  1101. >What else matters, really?
  1102. >What you can remember, is blurry
  1103. >A lot of it is
  1104. >But a lot of it also feels like it's the exact same things
  1105. >It's the same cycles
  1106. >Getting hurt
  1107. >Devouring fresh hauls almost instantly
  1108. >Lazing around
  1109. >Watching ponies go home to their families
  1110. >Seeing kids get things passed down to them from their parents
  1111. >Getting older and seeing others your age excel to the point that you can't comprehend how you could have gotten to even half of their level alone
  1112. >Realizing that it's because they weren't alone, that they were able to excel
  1113. >Picking fights
  1114. >Picking bad fights
  1115. >Trying to steal from your two only sorta-friends
  1116. >Who had more than you ever could
  1117. >They had each other
  1118. "...nevermind... maybe it's not worth it, to remember."
  1119. >Normally you'd see if you could get some sort of edge on Anon and make him do something that you would want that Jacky wouldn't allow
  1120. >But you just feel drained
  1121. >You slide off of Anon and just lay, limp, on the mattress beside him
  1122. "I keep hoping that, in part of my past... I have some amulet. Or a sigil. Or a ring. Or something that hints to me being more important to the world than I really am. I keep hoping that if I really remember some... stupid words of wisdom from infancy, it'll put everything into perspective. Like all of those years were just a test. And that everyone is waiting to celebrate me and tell me how great I am for suffering through things no pony would ever imagine."
  1123. >"Instead, it's just how life was for you."
  1124. "And that not every pony had to steal to feel like that they had something. Not every pony cried themselves to sleep. Some never did, you know? Some never once had a single rumbling stomach. Some never once were left out in the rain. Some never once got sick. Some never once felt lonely."
  1125. >"But you did... and you knew it wasn't normal."
  1126. "It was normal... to me it was. Just forget it... Jacky probably has good memories because she had Prism... Prism knew some ponies. She was good with her mouth, anyway."
  1127. >You feel Anon shifting around
  1128. >His arm drapes over your side
  1129. >"Think about it this way... birds of a feather flock together. So trash like us? Gotta stick together like glue."
  1130. >You don't know if he's joking or not but you kinda find it... funny
  1131. "So you think I'm trash too..."
  1132. >"I don't think you're trash at all, Shine. Just as I'm... ehhh, maybe sixty percent sure you don't think I'm trash. But I have a few good reasons to believe I am. Some of them aren't as extreme as your experiences. Some of them are worse. So, without arguing and having a pity party, you think you're trash. And I think I'm trash. So it works out."
  1133. >That makes you feel better
  1134. >In a roundabout way
  1135. >You're not sure if you should feel better
  1136. >He did call you trash
  1137. " you love me, Anon?"
  1138. >"Of course I do."
  1139. >Like he loves Jacky?
  1140. >You should ask that
  1141. >You need to ask that
  1142. >Say it
  1143. >Say it
  1144. >Say it before you lose your chance
  1145. "I love you..."
  1146. >Don't say that!
  1147. "...and I love Jacky too. And even... Dashie..."
  1148. >Don't lose focus
  1149. "I wish I was better, Anon... that's really all. I wish I was a better friend to them."
  1150. >Stop pretending to be strong
  1151. "I want to be better for them."
  1152. >You aren't Anon
  1153. "I want to not feel so guilty because they're around me by choice."
  1154. >You don't have to act like this
  1155. >Ask Anon if he loves you like he does Jacky
  1156. >If you don't, you'll never have another chance
  1157. >You'll end up that much worse because you don't have what she has
  1158. "I'm... sorry if I ever really bothered you, Anon. I really didn't mean to."
  1159. >Stop
  1160. >If you get stronger, he'll have less reason to care about you
  1161. >You'll be strong and alone
  1162. >Do you want to be alone forever?
  1163. >"It's alright, Shine. I know what you mean... I really do. It's... just sort of a process, you know?"
  1164. >The guilt is overwhelming
  1165. >Your face feels warm
  1166. >It isn't a lot
  1167. >But you can feel a few tears going down the side of your face
  1168. "I just want to be better. I want to be worth it."
  1169. >You can lie
  1170. >You can scheme
  1171. >You can really try to get Anon to fawn over you instead of Jacky
  1172. >But if you did
  1173. >You wouldn't be happier
  1174. >Merely thinking about that makes you feel like you aren't even in control of yourself
  1175. >Your eyes close
  1176. >"You are, Shine. Never forget that you're worth it to us, no matter what happens."
  1177. >His voice is so soothing
  1178. >It's a voice of reason
  1179. >A voice that still hurts to hear
  1180. >Probably a voice that still hurts to speak in too
  1181. >"Later, let's go hang out with them. I think we could both use some real time with friends."
  1182. >Sure, Anon
  1183. >Sure
  1184. >But right now, you really just want to sleep
  1185. >Maybe
  1186. >When you wake up
  1187. >You'll be someone different
  1189. >Today feels different
  1190. >You woke up normal
  1191. >You evidently slept between Anon's legs, in the little canyon his legs formed
  1192. >You didn't even have your head on his lap
  1193. >You know that you would've done that by default normally
  1194. >But today feels a little different
  1195. >You woke up before him, and before Jacky and Prism too
  1196. >Jacky was laying on her side, clutching a pillow
  1197. >Prism was flat on her stomach, legs all kicked out, wings spread
  1198. >And her entire head under a pillow
  1199. >They were criminals, once
  1200. >Just like you
  1201. >And yet, here you all were
  1202. >As peaceful as could be
  1203. >Healthy
  1204. >Well, healthy-ish
  1205. >Anon has gotten better about food variety but you haven't minded
  1206. >None of you have, probably
  1207. >It was always there
  1208. >Always ready, hot or cold
  1209. >It wasn't some new revelation but it was something that surprises you every now and again
  1210. >You sit in front of the pony-convenient kitchen area
  1211. >It's a few nice camping utensils and other things, but it's all genuine
  1212. >You've used it a good few times too
  1213. >You wonder what would happen if you made breakfast for him
  1214. >Just him
  1215. >How would you wake him up?
  1216. >Would you make him sit up to eat or would you feed him directly?
  1217. >What would you talk about?
  1218. >What would you do after eating?
  1219. >Would he really be happy?
  1220. >Would you be happy?
  1221. >You stare at the utensils
  1222. >The wide-brimmed bowls
  1223. >The pants that have over-sized handles
  1224. >So easy a pony can do it
  1225. >And that's what you are
  1226. >An animal
  1227. >Not even a natural one
  1228. >Maybe breakfast would be nice to make
  1229. >A distraction
  1230. >Instead, you get up and walk away from it
  1231. >You sit in the hallway
  1232. >Anon's sleeping
  1233. >He sleeps a lot
  1234. >You don't blame him
  1235. >He's almost here as much as you are, and it's as isolated as it can be
  1236. >Almost enough to make you forget that the world is full of humans and more
  1237. >He isn't the only human, but he may as well be as alone as you
  1238. >As alone as Prism and Jacky are
  1239. >You have a new life, a lot of it is really nice
  1240. >But sometimes you think it's too nice
  1241. >Like you don't deserve it
  1242. >But you bet Anon would say that you do
  1243. >Jacky would say that too
  1244. >Your eyes wander to the front door
  1245. >You could leave
  1246. >You could just leave and see what the world had to offer
  1247. >Meet other humans
  1248. >Maybe become a nomad
  1249. >Like in an RPG, wandering around, taking odd jobs and winning awesome stuff
  1250. >But this world doesn't work that way
  1251. >You know that much from Anon
  1252. >That's why he's where he is
  1253. >It's probably why he got Jacky
  1254. >He wanted a friend
  1255. >You're still unsure of how you would feel if he got you first
  1256. >You saw what happened through his eyes, when you were in his mind
  1257. >He never did get around to replanting some of those plants
  1258. >They're still alive at least
  1259. >You don't know enough about them to guess at how happy they are
  1260. >Your eyes leave the door and go to his boots
  1261. >He does have a job and go to work, doesn't he
  1262. >For money
  1263. >Should you get a job?
  1264. >The thought lasts maybe a full second before you sigh
  1265. >Of course you shouldn't
  1266. >You don't want to work
  1267. >The only time you've had to work for anything was to steal
  1268. >Stealing is bad, though
  1269. >Of course, you know that it's bad
  1270. >You aren't some career criminal
  1271. >You don't really feel bad about having done it before
  1272. >But you want to be better too
  1273. >You go from the hallway to the bathroom
  1274. >Specifically, the tub
  1275. >The faucets start to glow red from your magic and twist to full blast
  1276. >Rather than filling the tub, it flows directly to you
  1277. >After a few minutes, you're covered up to your neck in a bubble of softly swirling water
  1278. >The faucets turn off, eliminating any noise they made
  1279. >You close your eyes and exhale
  1280. >You can feel the water marble start to mold and shift until it curls over your head and submerges your mane without getting your face wet
  1281. >Without anything more than a passing thought, the water swirls, pushes, scrapes and hugs you
  1282. >You like the hugging the most
  1283. >Before you end up drifting off to sleep, you let the water loose
  1284. >Mostly loose, anyway
  1285. >It silently sinks down to the bottom of the tub and slinks down the drain
  1286. >You're as dry as you were before you started, but far cleaner for it
  1287. >You hop out of the tub and step onto the bathroom rug
  1288. >It's a really nice rug that Anon bought a long time ago
  1289. >It looks like it's made out of the scraps and strips of countless other sources of fabric
  1290. >You sit down on it and levitate the rug up until you reach the mirror
  1291. >Your mane is...
  1292. >Messy as always
  1293. >You brush yourself with a faint imagination of what a brush would feel like
  1294. >Jacky's mane and tail have gotten longer but you've done a few things to not-quite trim yourself
  1295. >You comb your mane until you look like Twilight Sparkle
  1296. >The flat, neutral expression on your face really isn't like the perpetual smile or grimace she wears
  1297. >She's some magical prodigy that can do anything
  1298. >Make friends anywhere
  1299. >Be successful
  1300. >Have whatever she wants
  1301. >And then there's you
  1302. >You look like you have a question you want to ask
  1303. " can't leave. It would mean leaving them behind."
  1304. >That seems to be your answer
  1305. >You violently shake your head back and forth until it's the loosely presentable mess that you've always had
  1306. >Your magic rug ride ends and you sneak back into Anon's room
  1307. >Whether or not you think you should, you won't bother him about anything
  1308. >Maybe later
  1309. >But for now you just want to feel like you've improved
  1310. >That you've done something worthwhile
  1311. >Something to be proud of
  1312. >You quietly boot up the desktop and get a game going
  1313. >That RPG you've been playing that involves you fusing, killing, and avoiding demons
  1314. >You carefully raise the volume until it's comfortably loud
  1315. >With a playful smirk, you load a save state and bump Anon's arm with your rear
  1316. "Hey, Anon! Is it better to drain or repel?"
  1317. >Your delayed answer is an undulating yawn
  1318. >A hand reaches out and lands on your side with a dull slap
  1319. >"Braaaaaaaaains..."
  1320. "No, not brain. Drain. As in you hit me with a fire attack and I heal from it?"
  1321. >Another elongated yodeling act of a yawn
  1322. >"Draining steals enemy turns, heals you, and stops you from getting hurt. Repel can lead to your foe healing itself."
  1323. "Well... wake up and check my A-team. And my B-team. And that pixie."
  1324. >A third yawn
  1325. >A full on three-act play of a yawn, complete with some theatrical flourish at the end
  1326. >You scoff and shake your head
  1327. "Yeah, good going. Great stuff."
  1328. >"You still haven't fused that pixie yet?"
  1329. "Isn't she important?"
  1330. >"Well sh'yeah. But you can fuse her too. What's the worst that could happen?"
  1331. "I lose someone important?"
  1332. >"Nah, it's fine though."
  1333. >Anon does something, including a final warcry of a yawn, and shifts to lay on his side
  1334. >"So what am I goofing with?"
  1335. "Check my demons. Half are good but they're close to useless now. The skills are good but they keep dying too quickly."
  1336. >"Are they getting their shit rocked due to weaknesses?"
  1337. "Not even that! They're just really... wimpy."
  1338. >"Alright, well, let's see what we can do with some fusing."
  1339. >It doesn't take long before you're smiling and goofing around with him like everything's normal
  1340. >And it is
  1341. >This is normal
  1342. >It's not a lot but it's a lot for you
  1343. "Hey, Anon?"
  1344. >"Wat?"
  1345. "Thanks."
  1346. >"For what?"
  1347. "Being a doofus."
  1348. >"Just doing my duty, citizen."
  1350. >You might not be the best you can be yet
  1351. >But you're trying
  1352. >You've been on the laptop behind the makeshift curtains that have since cut off the living room in half for a while now
  1353. >Thankfully Anon helped you transfer over your game and save data so you can keep playing at your current rate
  1354. >Prism has been laying nearby, watching you
  1355. >You don't think she's too happy with you
  1356. >She hasn't said anything since Anon helped you set up shop and went back to his room
  1357. >With Jacky
  1358. >And closed the door
  1359. >Though you've had the urge to be mean, you've decided that it would just be best to ignore her
  1360. >"Sparking..."
  1361. >Here we go
  1362. "Yes, Prism?"
  1363. >"Wasn't out deal that you keep Anon occupied so Jacky and I could do things together?"
  1364. >You did make a little bit of a deal with her
  1365. >Though you felt bad about it, both of you set up little... clues
  1366. >The browser pages set up for Jacky to find were your idea, among other things
  1367. >At first, of course you were on board with the idea
  1368. >You wanted to become what Jacky was
  1369. >What she still is
  1370. >But that wouldn't be right
  1371. >He wouldn't deserve something like that
  1372. >Not from you
  1373. >Not from a real friend
  1374. >You shrug, smiling to yourself
  1375. "I guess I just messed up then. Besides, haven't they gone long enough without getting a chance to be themselves?"
  1376. >"No."
  1377. "Well... too bad."
  1378. >You go back to playing
  1379. >You feel yourself smiling more
  1380. "Prism. Did you know that in this game you fight against and with demons?"
  1381. >"Demons?"
  1382. "Yeah. They're... well, they're like mythical creatures. Or devils. Or angels. Or just things from nightmares that people in this world have."
  1383. >"Interesting."
  1384. "What's really interesting is that they're capable of changing. Or evolving, I guess I should say. In a lot of other games, where they don't, demons are what they'll always be. Forever and ever, up until their death."
  1385. >"What are you getting at, Sparking?"
  1386. "I'm getting at... that maybe we aren't demons after all."
  1387. >The irritation growing in Prism's voice sounds delicious to you
  1388. >You're able to bother her with this in such a new way
  1389. >You kinda like it
  1390. >It feels a little like revenge, for what happened back then
  1391. >"Are you calling me a demon, Sparking?"
  1392. "I'm calling all of us demons."
  1393. >As much as you're smiling, your tone is serious
  1394. "We were terrible ponies, Prism. Jacky... I'm jealous of her. I really am."
  1395. >"Then bring her back out here and do whatever it is you feel the need to do."
  1396. >You would still want to have that
  1397. >Of course you would
  1398. >You haven't changed completely
  1399. >But you know better
  1400. >You know what Anon needs, too
  1401. >And he needs Jacky
  1402. "No. I'm not her. And... I never will be. But she'll never be me either. And I'm ok with that."
  1403. >You pause when you say that
  1404. >It's true
  1405. >You really are ok with it
  1406. >It doesn't even make you think twice
  1407. "The deal's done, Prism. If Jacky wants to hang out with Anon more again, we shouldn't stop them. I won't stop them anymore."
  1408. >The unicorn doesn't do much but a short glance behind you shows that she's angry
  1409. >Angry like you would be
  1410. >"If I lose Jacky because of this..."
  1411. >You roll your eyes
  1412. "Oh come off of it! You aren't going to lose her, you're never going to lose her. Not unless... I don't know, you chase her off and do something bad. Do you genuinely believe that you'll just up and lose access to her and that you'll be left alone? Really?"
  1413. >She doesn't reply
  1414. "...I get it. I do. But this... whole thing. Trying to fight each other or trying to screw over who brought us here and gave us a new life. It just isn't right."
  1415. >"What makes you qualified to lecture me on what's right and wrong?"
  1416. "Nothing. I just want to be better. And I think telling you about what I believe might help."
  1417. >"And what would that help, you?"
  1418. "Not really. But it would help my friends. Our friends, Prism."
  1419. >Her wings rustle against her body
  1420. >"...what's gotten into you, Sparking? Really. Is this another scheme?"
  1421. "No... I kinda wish it was."
  1422. >Jacky will tell her
  1423. >But you feel like you should tell her first
  1424. "Prism... Anon's going through some really hard things. Some really bad things."
  1425. >She doesn't look like she cares
  1426. >But she doesn't disregard it either
  1427. >"In what way, exactly?"
  1428. "He's losing what we never had to begin with... family."
  1429. >The words make her visibly recoil
  1430. >"W-what...?"
  1431. "He hasn't really... told anyone. But I found out."
  1432. >You really weren't sure if you should tell either of them about this
  1433. >But you have to
  1434. >Otherwise she just won't get it
  1435. "He doesn't want to bother us with that stuff... he thinks it's too... I don't know, unimportant or something."
  1436. >Prism seems upset
  1437. >But it's for a different reason
  1438. >"How does he think he can just keep us in the dark about something like that? When is he going to tell Jacky? She isn't going to be used to that."
  1439. "Come on, do you really think he doesn't know that?"
  1440. >Her face looks indignant
  1441. >"We were playing our dumb games and had utterly no clue..."
  1442. "Quite a change there... now you care?"
  1443. >You don't sound impressed at all
  1444. "Listen... keep this between us, ok? If Jacky knows, then we all know. If she doesn't... well, it's not for us to tell her."
  1445. >"But it's for you to tell me?"
  1446. >She gets up, concerned determination on her face
  1447. >"We must apologize to him at least."
  1448. >You get up as well, shaking your head
  1449. "Whoa whoa whoa... no you aren't. Anon closed the door. They can be having a heart to heart talk right now, us barging in won't help anything."
  1450. >"And if he's alone while she's sleeping like a rock, without a care in the world?"
  1451. "Then we just let them freaking be! We let them calm down and enjoy whatever it is they enjoy. If they're not worrying about it or not talking about it... let him have that. If they are talking it out... then they'll handle that together."
  1452. >Prism doesn't look like she believes you
  1453. >But she does sit back down
  1454. >"...what's it even like, losing family?"
  1455. "It must be hard."
  1456. >"Given... circumstances. I suppose it is indeed best if we don't push for anything. We should make things a little easier for them."
  1457. "Yeah, thanks for repeating what I've been saying."
  1458. >You aren't mad but you do give her the full force of your sarcasm
  1459. >She looks around the room, as if to look for a new focal point
  1460. >"So... this game. Demons are in it, you said?"
  1461. >You make a face at her
  1462. >She seems to be doing her best to at least look vaguely interested
  1463. >You sigh
  1464. "Yeah... a lot of them."
  1465. >"Tell me about them. Maybe one will give us some insight on how to help Anon."
  1466. >Since when did she become such a friendly force?
  1467. >But this is a step in the right direction
  1468. >You hesitantly go back to sitting where you were, keeping your eyes on her
  1469. "Well... let me show you. But no funny business, alright?"
  1470. >"What could I possibly do to you, Sparking?"
  1471. >You thought about an answer to that
  1472. >But do you need one?
  1473. >She's still a demon
  1474. >Until she gains enough experience and evolves, she isn't going to change
  1475. >Like the protagonist, you're aware of that
  1476. >It means you can at least help steer her away from bad things
  1477. "You could ask me really dumb questions... so here is the first one, Black Frost..."
  1479. >It's another day you've been spending out in the living room
  1480. >The cat's more or less out of the bag at this point, about Anon
  1481. >About what he's going through
  1482. >The feel of everything has turned sour
  1483. >Or maybe it's not that it's turning sour but it's just drained the normally casual atmosphere
  1484. >Prism has been quiet about it
  1485. >You've been trying to focus on being better
  1486. >But Jacky
  1487. >Jacky has not been happy about it
  1488. >You tried to cheer her up or casually mention how you've stopped hogging Anon all to yourself but she hasn't reacted
  1489. >You've seen her that sad maybe once before, maybe
  1490. >Now that it's been said out in the open, Anon hasn't been in the same mood as usual either
  1491. >Not that you enjoy being humiliated, but you've even opened yourself up to some of his dumb jokes
  1492. >None of the opportunities worked
  1493. >Prism has been sticking to you a lot lately
  1494. >You aren't that sure why
  1495. >Probably to give the two space
  1496. >"So... which is your best demon?"
  1497. "Best? Hard to say. All of them have weaknesses and their uses."
  1498. >"You make it sound so impersonal..."
  1499. "Yeah. Maybe. They're useful until they're not, then I fuse them."
  1500. >"I see..."
  1501. >You can hear music from Anon's room
  1502. "Hey, Prism."
  1503. >"Yes, Sparking?"
  1504. "What do we do?"
  1505. >"About what?"
  1506. "You know what."
  1507. >You focus on the screen to the point that you don't even care what she does
  1508. >For some reason it feels like her concern isn't genuine to you
  1509. >"I wouldn't begin to know where to start on this type of situation."
  1510. "Yeah... me neither..."
  1511. >Time passes while you play
  1512. >You can tell it's been a few hours due to the play time
  1513. >But you haven't once looked away from the monitor
  1514. >"Hey Sparky... y'got a minute?"
  1515. >Jacky
  1516. >Without thinking about it, you blind hard and turn your head to face her
  1517. >She looks like she's been crushed by a boulder
  1518. >Not physically, of course
  1519. "Huh? Oh. Sure."
  1520. >You just now notice that Prism has been laying near you, sleeping
  1521. >Looking at the clock on the computer, you're not surprised by how late it is
  1522. "What's up?"
  1523. >Jacky looks defeated
  1524. >"Can we... go for a walk outside the apartment? I asked Anon and he said it's ok, as long as we don't go that far."
  1525. >This is a first
  1526. >But it's not unwelcome
  1527. "Well... sure. Ok."
  1528. >You move your cursor over to save the game's state and close out of it
  1529. >You get up, yawning with a hard stretch
  1530. >You aren't the most physical pony so a walk will do you some good
  1531. "So, what's going on?"
  1532. >She waits until you're outside in the hallway outside of the apartment to answer
  1533. >You don't have a key but you can manipulate the door lock without anything more than a passing thought
  1534. >She's been watching the floor since you saw her
  1535. >"...there ain't a medicine that'll help this, huh. And there are no competitions or journey for us to go out on to find a miracle."
  1536. >It's only natural that this would be what was on her mind
  1537. "No... I'm afraid not, Jacky. The real world doesn't really work that way."
  1538. >"Yeah but... well, if we were from Equestria. They got magic far more than what you can do. There's all kinda of awesome things there!"
  1539. "Maybe. But can we even say we're from Equestria?"
  1540. >"Well where else could we be from?"
  1541. >The elevator dings and the metal door slides open
  1542. >You both step in
  1543. >Despite not having the height required to push any buttons, magic makes it as easy as can be expected
  1544. "Who knows... but we're here now."
  1545. >"Yeah..."
  1546. "How's Anon doing?"
  1547. >"Not the best... I miss when he was happier."
  1548. "Yeah. I do too. But that part of him isn't gone. It's just hard to keep it going."
  1549. >The elevator dings
  1550. >Jacky follows you out the passcode-protected front doors, into the cool night air
  1551. >You enjoy the little patio up in the apartment but you do feel a little more free out here
  1552. >Jacky takes the lead and starts to walk across the parking lot into a circular grassy area
  1553. >It has a few thin branches sticking outside of the ground
  1554. >You think they're supposed to be trees
  1555. >"Why can't we do anything to help? What the heck am I supposed to do while this is happening?"
  1556. >Now that you're both out in the open, she kicks her leg out into the dirt
  1557. >She makes a nice hole out of it
  1558. >You always forget just how powerful she is when she wants to be
  1559. >"Anon brings me here, gets you, gets Dashie, gets us all kinda of cool stuff and... we ain't able to do a single dang thing!"
  1560. >You might have had the passing thought that while she's useless, you aren't
  1561. >But you're better than that
  1562. >Now
  1563. >Instead of answering, you remain silent
  1564. >"He's gonna be the last of his kind, he said. Now I know he ain't really the last one, this world is full of people like him. But... what the hell? Why? Why can't we change that?"
  1565. >She doesn't really look at you for an answer
  1566. >Instead she just starts walking along the outline, where concrete meets grass
  1567. >You follow
  1568. >"I bet that Nona could help... I bet Celestia could help too."
  1569. >A cold shiver goes down your spine at the mention of...
  1570. >That woman
  1571. >"Celestia would help him... Luna would, too."
  1572. >You're not too sure either of them have the ability to save lives the way she would want them to
  1573. >Jacky stamps down on the ground and shouts
  1574. >The sudden aggression takes you for surprise
  1576. >Where did that come from?
  1577. "Have you... prayed to them before?"
  1578. >Jacky sighs
  1579. >Whatever aggression she had melted away
  1580. >You can't say you can honestly remember how many times Jacky has genuinely gotten angry
  1581. >She's always been a happy simpleton
  1582. >As long as you've known her, anyway
  1583. >"Maybe... I don't know. I don't know if it was them or not. But I used to pray."
  1584. >That's something that surprises you
  1585. "That's... huh. Did Prism ever know about that?"
  1586. >"Nah... no. Dashie never liked the idea of begging for help. So I just did it when I was alone."
  1587. >Guess she does seem the type who would do that
  1588. >She's always been the most...
  1589. >Normal
  1590. >You're not afraid to admit it, you were really the average unicorn
  1591. >Even if you weren't such gutter trash
  1592. "And they never answered, huh..."
  1593. >"Not a single time, Sparky..."
  1594. >You follow Jacky for a few laps
  1595. >Once or twice, she breaks out into a full gallop
  1596. >You're almost able to keep up with her, but you lag behind pretty hard without much chance of catching up
  1597. >You do get back up to pace when she slows down
  1598. >"You know something, Sparky?"
  1599. "Ha... what, Jacky?"
  1600. >You're still out of breath
  1601. >"I'm mad."
  1602. "Really... I couldn't have guessed."
  1603. >You're trying to be better
  1604. >But it's a work in progress
  1605. >"I'm so mad... I just can't do anything to stop this. Or to help it."
  1606. >As much as you're inclined to agree
  1607. >You don't
  1608. "Jacky... Anon likes you. Even if you aren't anything resembling Applejack... at all. Dear lord, are you not her... you make a big difference."
  1609. >"I don't care what you or your deer lords think! How do I make a difference?"
  1610. "Jacky, I..."
  1611. >It's not worth it to try to explain yourself
  1612. "It's not about what I think. It's what Anon thinks. And he thinks you make a world of difference."
  1613. >" could you know that."
  1614. >She drags herself for a few more steps but nearly drops to the ground after one last push
  1615. >She isn't breathing heavily
  1616. >She doesn't look exhausted either
  1617. >She just looks done
  1618. "Because I do. I know a lot more than I should."
  1619. >"That explains your big head..."
  1620. >Jacky grumbles, her face rubbing against grass
  1621. "I..."
  1622. >She really isn't afraid of going all out, is she
  1623. >This isn't the time to turn this into a bickering match
  1624. "...well, for one, I think you're just jealous. Freaking chunkhead."
  1625. >You clear your throat, maintaining your composure.
  1626. "Secondly... let's be honest here. As honest as it takes for it to hurt. What would Anon be doing if we weren't here for him?"
  1627. >The question finds a mark
  1628. >"...I worry about that."
  1629. "I know you do. I do too. That's why I want to focus on how he isn't alone."
  1630. >"Yeah..."
  1631. "Answer the question Jacky."
  1632. >Jacky stifles a noise
  1633. >"He'd... he'd probably not be in a good place..."
  1634. "And?"
  1635. >"...I get it."
  1636. >She lets out a heavy, fatigued sigh
  1637. >You're surprised she could make such a noise
  1638. >You've never known her to be so agitated or obviously bothered
  1639. >"But... I'm not doing enough to help."
  1640. "Jacky... when is it ever honestly enough? If we could do anything and everything in our power, how much would it take before we felt it would be enough?"
  1641. >"Well... I don't know."
  1642. "Look at Anon and what he's done. Do you think he's done enough?"
  1643. >Her head perks up
  1644. >"Well of course he has!"
  1645. "But does he think so?"
  1646. >The question makes her head drop down again
  1647. >She kicks out her legs
  1648. >"...probably not. He's always talking about how he can do more stuff, or figure out ways for us to feel more natural or at home."
  1649. "I hope he doesn't mean sticking us in a tunnel..."
  1650. >That makes her laugh
  1651. >Just a little
  1652. >"No... nothing like that. He wants us to live like Twilight does."
  1653. >As much as you still hate the comparison, you've been playing video games like Twilight reads books
  1654. >He's sorta succeeded in that respect
  1655. "What about Prism?"
  1656. >She shakes her head
  1657. >"He doesn't know what to do with her. I don't either... I've never known how to impress or really make her feel content or all that happy. She's always been the one focusing on me."
  1658. "Then why don't we all talk and figure something out?"
  1659. >It's not the most useful solution, maybe
  1660. >But it it would give her something to focus on
  1661. >It would give him something to distract himself with, too
  1662. >Helping out Prism would be purely incidental
  1663. "Come on. You know how helping his his weakness. And this gives you a chance to show him how much you appreciate things
  1664. >You wait
  1665. >And lower your head near her
  1666. "Come on... Anon's waiting for you. You gotta be there for him, right?"
  1667. >"Yeah..."
  1668. >Jacky stumbles to her hooves, yawning
  1669. >"Man... I'm tired."
  1670. "Yeah, I bet. You ran like you were chasing down a pie with legs."
  1671. >"I could sure go for some, too..."
  1672. >What a freaking simpleton
  1673. "Maybe strike up a conversation, see about making one with him? I don't think he'd say 'no' to you, of all ponies."
  1674. >You shrug
  1675. >You really don't feel jealous
  1676. >It's weird
  1677. >You don't fully understand it yet
  1678. >She nods, sighing one last time
  1679. >"...I just wish they could have helped me. Helped him. Answered at least one prayer. I don't ask for a lot, Sparky. I promise I don't."
  1680. >You hug her
  1681. >She's as surprised as you are
  1682. >You don't know where this came from either
  1683. "I know, Jacky. You're in good hooves. Anon is too."
  1684. >You don't know if that is true or not
  1685. >But you're capable of making a difference
  1686. >You know you are
  1687. >This is your time to Shine
  1689. "Hey Anon."
  1690. >"Ah?"
  1691. "Ah?"
  1692. >"Eh?"
  1693. "What?"
  1694. >"Oh?!"
  1695. "...whatever."
  1696. >You're playing games again in Anon's room
  1697. >You gave him and Jacky some time to be alone
  1698. >Evidently he told her
  1699. >And then told Prism too
  1700. >She pretended like she heard it for the first time, of course
  1701. >Now that it's out in the open, things feel a little less... bad?
  1702. " there anything you wanna talk about?"
  1703. >You've been sprawled out on your side on his bed
  1704. >He's been sitting with his back to the wall, either playing on his phone or watching you
  1705. >"Anything specific?"
  1706. "I don't know, you tell me."
  1707. >You aren't really sure how to bring up asking how he is
  1708. >What would he do?
  1709. "Tell me what's bothering you already."
  1710. >Yeah
  1711. >That's what he'd do
  1712. >He chuckles, ending with a 'huh'
  1713. >Then he sighs
  1714. >"I don't know. It's kinda how things are already, you know?"
  1715. "I guess? But don't you want to talk about it anyway?"
  1716. >He doesn't answer
  1717. >Not immediately
  1718. >"Would it really behoove you to focus on something like that?"
  1719. "Behoove?"
  1720. >"Yeah."
  1721. "What's that mean?"
  1722. >"It means you have hooves."
  1723. >You let out a disgusted sigh
  1724. >Your sigh leads to him laughing
  1725. >"With you guys being from Equestria or wherever... how did you guys deal with sickness and crap?"
  1726. "Well..."
  1727. >You look down at yourself
  1728. "Well... uh... rest and food usually did it for me I guess."
  1729. >"You've never been sicker than the occasional cold?"
  1730. "Not that I remember, no. Medicine and stuff was really rare for any of us to find. I never bothered to steal stuff like that because it was kinda difficult to get without getting into trouble."
  1731. >"Makes sense. So... did you ever know any ponies that got sick?"
  1732. >You shrug, drawing a blank
  1733. "I honestly don't know. Other than Jacky and Prism, I don't remember any faces. If I knew anypony and they got sick and..."
  1734. >And died?
  1735. >Better not say that word
  1736. "And... well, if they got better or not, I wouldn't know. None of us really had any social circle. It was kinda for the best to not group around, you know? And the whole 'honor among thieves' thing only really lasts until someone gets touchy. Then all bets are off."
  1737. >"Sounds like something you might've partaken in."
  1738. "Anon... I partook in a lot of things that may have hurt others."
  1739. >"Yeah... I know. I vaguely recall Jacky telling me that once or twice you left her behind."
  1740. >He doesn't sound mad at you
  1741. >Or even really irritated?
  1742. >Your ears flatten against your head, expecting something negative
  1743. >Anon reaches over and pats your chest
  1744. >You wish he'd pet a little lower
  1745. >"Don't worry about it. I know how things were back then. How it was is just... how it was. I know a thing or two about that."
  1746. >You scoff
  1747. "Do not."
  1748. >"No. No, I do. I was a really shit kid."
  1749. >From his tone, he doesn't sound like he's kidding
  1750. "Oh."
  1751. >"So, you ever used magic to heal yourself or something?"
  1752. "Healing?"
  1753. >"Sure. Casting dia or cure or something like that."
  1754. >He gestures with his wormy fingers, like some old-school wizard
  1755. >You shake your head and hold up your controller, which has been drowned in your reddish aura
  1756. "Honestly? I don't know if magic works like that."
  1757. >"Ok red Twilight, school me."
  1758. >You shoot him a dirty look
  1759. >Your tone drops to a serious level
  1760. "Don't call me that. I'm better than her."
  1761. >He gives a half smile and nods, holding up his hands in a defensive posture
  1762. >"Sure, yeah. Won't do it again."
  1763. "So... the way I do magic... it's weird. you know?"
  1764. >The controller spins in place
  1765. >It's wireless so nothing is stopping it from turning whichever way
  1766. "I... I don't think I have MP. I don't feel tired anymore when I do stuff."
  1767. >"How have you gotten so good at magic, anyway? That used to be a thing you just really didn't like to do. Or something you wouldn't do."
  1768. >You turn your head away from him and grimace
  1769. >You knew that sooner or later this would come up
  1770. "I... was scared, alright?"
  1771. >"Of your unlimited power?"
  1772. "Of hurting people."
  1773. >"Have you ever hurt someone through your magic?"
  1774. "Sure. I'm sure Jacky may have told you something about it."
  1775. >"Something like that. Any examples that you want to mention?"
  1776. >Your head sways back and forth
  1777. "I... may have threatened to blow up a thug from the inside out."
  1778. >" can do that?"
  1779. "I don't know. But I stabbed him with my horn."
  1780. >"Brutal."
  1781. >His nonchalant comment leaves you wondering if he actually cares or if he just doesn't mind that you've been violent like that before
  1782. >"So could you have actually done that?"
  1783. "Maybe."
  1784. >You shake your head
  1785. "So... anyway. So..."
  1786. >You really don't know how to word it right
  1787. "I don't have MP. So it's more like... a muscle? Maybe?"
  1788. >"You don't sound convinced."
  1789. "Because I'm not."
  1790. >The controller spins faster in the air
  1791. "Like this? What I'm doing right now? I'm thinking about it, but I'm not... doing anything. This isn't a spell. I'm not casting anything. It's..."
  1792. >"It's like telekinesis then?"
  1793. "Yeah!"
  1794. >"What about the other things you do?"
  1795. "Like what?"
  1796. >Anon doesn't reply
  1797. >He scratches the side of his face
  1798. >"...I don't know. I guess a lot of stuff you do is kind of a form of that, isn't it."
  1799. >You nod
  1800. "I guess so, sure."
  1801. >"Bufu."
  1802. >You quint at him
  1803. "What?"
  1804. >"You heard me. Bufu."
  1805. "You want me to cast an ice spell."
  1806. >"Bufu me, baby."
  1807. >That third word brings a mighty fire to your face
  1808. >He smirks at your reaction
  1809. >"Bufu my drink on the desk. That'll be a cool thing to do."
  1810. >Bufu is an ice spell
  1811. >You roll your eyes hard
  1812. "Ok..."
  1813. >You roll onto your hooves and stand up
  1814. "Ok... ok ok ok..."
  1815. >"Think cold thoughts."
  1816. "Shut up."
  1817. >You set the controller down and stare at the soda can
  1818. >Think cold thoughts
  1819. >Chilly
  1820. >Not just chilly but frigid
  1821. >Frigid enough to make bone snap like a fragile toothpick
  1822. >A frozen hell that surpasses even the hottest fire
  1823. >The soda can doesn't move
  1824. >Damn it
  1825. >DAMN IT!
  1826. >You're embarrassing yourself, in front of Anon at that!
  1827. >Freeze
  1828. >Lose all hope and warmth
  1829. >Leave the world of light
  1830. >...
  1831. "..."
  1832. >You pick up the can and bring it to yourself
  1833. >Anon reaches out and touches it
  1834. >More than that, he takes the can and shakes it a little
  1835. >You watch with slight irritation
  1836. >He drinks like it's fine
  1837. >"...yeah, seems like it's pretty normal."
  1838. >You let out a frustrated sigh
  1839. "Damn it..."
  1840. >"Alright... so another option."
  1841. >You raise an eyebrow at Anon, who's twisting a napkin over itself a number of times until it looks like a thick wick
  1842. >"Agi."
  1843. >You look at the napkin
  1844. >Like lighting a match, the tip ignites
  1845. >"Hey hey! Alright, near instant reaction time."
  1846. >Anon licks the finger and thumb of his free hand and kills the flame
  1847. >You puff out your chest, as easy a feat as it may have been
  1848. >"So what about zio?"
  1849. "Like... electricity?"
  1850. >"Sure."
  1851. >You shrug
  1852. "I wouldn't even know how I'm supposed to do that."
  1853. >"Fair enough. Zan?"
  1854. "Wouldn't that just be me pushing you?"
  1855. >"...damn, I guess so."
  1856. >Anon sighs
  1857. >"Ah! I know. What about..."
  1858. >He taps the air, squinting
  1859. >"Ah... what's that thing..."
  1860. >You wait for him to finish his thoughts
  1861. >He shrugs
  1862. >"Yeah, I got nothing."
  1863. >You shrug in return
  1864. "See? I mean, I didn't even really think about lighting that thing up. But for cold..."
  1865. >You sigh
  1866. "I thought really cold thoughts. I even tried to think of it like a spell or something. I tried to kinda psych myself up for it."
  1867. >"But nothing came of it, huh?"
  1868. "Not a single freaking thing...
  1869. >"Well that's fine. Guess if your magic is a muscle, we gotta get it to flex or something, right?"
  1870. >For some reason you think of impressing him with your horn growing longer or something
  1871. "...s-sure..."
  1872. >You watch each other for a moment
  1873. >"..."
  1874. "..."
  1875. >"Maybe you're a fire type."
  1876. "I guess."
  1877. >"I'm glad you didn't set us on fire when you first came around."
  1878. >You hate that memory more than you hate your past
  1879. >You didn't mean to
  1880. >Or maybe you did
  1881. >But you didn't have the will to follow through with something like that
  1882. >It was sort of a bluff
  1883. >But it was also just something that you really felt the urge to do
  1884. "...I'm sorry."
  1885. >"Don't be. It would've sucked for you far more than it would've for me."
  1886. "You would have died."
  1887. >"And then Jacky would have punted you out the window and worse."
  1888. >You wince
  1889. "...I've... not been the best friend to her, have I..."
  1890. >"That's not for me to say, honestly."
  1891. "But in your opinion..."
  1892. >"In my opinion? It's not for me to say. Talk to her yourself on that. I have my views on being a friend but I'm biased. And look where it's gotten me as far as my friends too, right?"
  1893. >That sounds mean-spirited
  1894. "You're a good friend."
  1895. >"Yeah, that's why I'm known far and wide and everyone likes me."
  1896. >He shrugs and taps the tip of your horn with the singed napkin
  1897. >"Talk to Jackoober the goober whenever you feel up to it. She likes talking about you."
  1898. >You can't help but feel self-conscious
  1899. "Alright... I guess I'll do that later."
  1900. >You look around
  1901. >You weren't paying attention but Anon put the soda can on the floor near the mattress
  1902. "Hey, about that soda can... think I should practice with it?"
  1903. >"Sure. Practice what?"
  1904. "I don't know yet... but I want to see what I can do. If I can't do elemental stuff, I gotta be able to do something else. Like... changing it into gold?"
  1905. >"Now that would be neat. Sure, go nuts with it whenever. Just be careful, alright?"
  1906. >You nod
  1907. >Maybe you can "learn" new magic
  1908. >Or maybe you just need to figure out how you can do what you can naturally do
  1909. >Maybe you'll find a way to impress Anon more
  1911. "Anon?"
  1912. >"Eh?"
  1913. "Why is does she have tentacles on her head?"
  1914. >"That's... a good question."
  1915. >Jacky speaks up
  1916. >"Anon?"
  1917. >"Eh?"
  1918. >"Why are there tentacles coming out of her back too?"
  1919. >"That is also a good question."
  1920. >Prism speaks up
  1921. >"Anon?"
  1922. >"Eh?"
  1923. >"Why does Leeloo have orange hair?"
  1924. >"Because she's Mila Jovovich and she looks good with any color hair."
  1925. >You chuckle at Anon's comment
  1926. >Jacky, who's been sitting in his lap, gives him a squint and wriggles around until he clears his throat
  1927. >"And, you know... I dig orange hair in general. Sometimes things are just fated to be."
  1928. >Jacky nods to herself and smiles
  1929. >You shake your head and scoff
  1930. >You can't believe how... open they are
  1931. >But you're not really jealous
  1932. >You glance over to Prism
  1933. >She does her best to ignore it but you can tell that she's not the most amused pegasus
  1934. >You're happy to see Anon smiling like this
  1935. >He hasn't said much but everyone has noticed that he's been quiet
  1936. >So you insisted on a little group movie night
  1937. >You've had the urge to speak to him privately, through the ability you've just decided to just call telepathy
  1938. >But you're a little hesitant to
  1939. >It's not that you've stopped wanting to be closer to him
  1940. >But you haven't connected that way in so long
  1941. >A lot has changed in his head, you're sure, if only due to this whole family thing
  1942. >You're really not sure how that would affect you
  1943. >This, right here
  1944. >Two other ponies and a human
  1945. >This really is your family
  1946. >And when you think about it, it's kind of the ideal size
  1947. >It's not too big
  1948. >It's not too small
  1949. >Maybe you haven't been the best, but no one's been their best
  1950. >The two main characters in the movie kiss and the female lead vomits out some sort of white beam of... magic?
  1951. >Energy?
  1952. >The beam evaporates a giant fireball in space, which you will admit is impressive
  1953. >You could still probably do better
  1954. >Probably
  1955. >Once the movie ends, Prism gets up
  1956. >"Don't count me out, I'm just getting a drink."
  1957. >Jacky hops out, her tail flickering to and fro
  1958. >"And we need snacks!"
  1959. >"Can't argue with that... grab that bag of pretzels while you're out."
  1960. >"Yup!"
  1961. >"And the gummy worms!"
  1962. >Maybe he went overhead when it came to buying snacks and candy for the weekend, since there are a few plastic bags full of stuff
  1963. >He said 't'is the season' when you asked so you just let it stay at that
  1964. "Add those jelly beans too, the variety pack!"
  1965. >"Roger!"
  1966. >Jacky shouts from the kitchen
  1967. "Ahh... it's nice having someone to do the legwork."
  1968. >"Tell me about it..."
  1969. >With it just being you and him in the room, you feel...
  1970. >Anxious?
  1971. >Excited?
  1972. >No
  1973. >More like worried
  1974. "Anon... how are you feeling?"
  1975. >"Me? well, I'm watching movies with my gal pals. Never thought I'd say that phrase but here I am now."
  1976. "Heh, it sounds kinda silly. But... really. Don't you miss being around your own kind?"
  1977. >He gives an awkward sigh and shrug
  1978. >"Eh... kinda? I mean, I miss my old friends. I really do. I'm not the sentimental sort of guy but I've seen their faces in a lot of things that just remind me of them for some reason. I can't really explain it."
  1979. "Not sentimental, huh... then why do you have that picture of you, me and Jacky as your phone wallpaper?"
  1980. >He gives you a hard squint
  1981. >"Because the smug smile you had then gives me enough energy and spite to want to come back here after work so I can slap you in your everlasting gob stopper."
  1982. >You give him the smuggest smile with half-lidded eyes
  1983. "Well gee, when you put it like that..."
  1984. >"Yeah..."
  1985. >He clears his throat again and sighs
  1986. >It's a heavy sigh
  1987. >"But nah. Yeah. I kinda miss being around other humans. But not really. I always grew up around animals. Not that I see you guys as animals or whatever... but you know what I mean."
  1988. "I'm glad... I don't think any of us have ever seen any humans before you. Or... I guess anything that wasn't human that even vaguely resembled you."
  1989. >"So how are you guys so... comfy around me?"
  1990. >You shrug
  1991. "Iunno. It's just kinda... comfy. You're comforting. I mean, there are griffons and... well, it kinda really makes me feel weird. But..."
  1992. >You don't like bringing up the show
  1993. >You haven't wanted to think about it
  1994. >Because of Twilight
  1995. >You're not her
  1996. >Obviously
  1997. >And she isn't you
  1998. >But you look so similar at a glance that it bothers you
  1999. "Well... in Equestria. From... the cartoon. There were a few other things like that. A lot of things that weren't ponies that could still talk. Never saw a baby dragon before though. Or knew any pony like Pinkie Pie... thank God for that."
  2000. >"Yeah, I'd question reality too if I had to be around some goofball like that."
  2001. >You turn your head to the left, just in time to see a big bag of gummy worms slap against your face
  2002. >You heard Jacky trotting and expected something more... dexterous.
  2003. "Speaking... of..."
  2004. >Prism comes back in, a number of water bottles in a plastic bag that's hanging by her mouth
  2005. >Jacky grabbed far too many bags in her mouth and evidently decided to just fling them into the room
  2006. >You duck down, narrowly avoiding a pretzel bag smackdown
  2007. >In a rush of activity, everyone's back in their place
  2008. >Plus a few pounds of food
  2009. >And water
  2010. >" know, I got a question for you guys."
  2011. >Anon speaks up, holding up one of the bottles
  2012. >"This here bottle... has a screw top."
  2013. >He unscrews the bottle cap
  2014. >"And... I have here with me, fingers."
  2015. >He scans over you and the other two
  2016. >And finally down to Jacky
  2017. >"How are we gonna make this more ergonomic?"
  2018. >Jacky's only response is to tilt her head up, open her mouth, and to go 'aaaaaah?'
  2019. >Prism looks at you, visibly displeased
  2020. >You look between the two and then up to Anon
  2021. "Well... I can operate them. If Prism needs access, I can just-"
  2022. >"I can figure it out, thank you. I'm not some animal."
  2023. >Her tone has an unnecessary edge to it
  2024. >Jacky doesn't seem to mind, though Anon gives her a side glance
  2025. >He shrugs and tilts the bottle over, into Jacky's mouth
  2026. >"I don't mean to be a dick about it, Dashie. I just... want to figure out how things can go more smoothly, that's all. This isn't a thing where this is my home and you guys are just in it. I want it to be home for everyone. I might not have really made that point in the past. And I'm sorry if that seemed like the case. You guys are family."
  2027. >Family
  2028. >It's one thing to say that you're all his friends
  2029. >But family?
  2030. >That's a big shift
  2031. >Jacky nods and leans back
  2032. >You swear, if she didn't have happy thoughts, she wouldn't have thoughts at all
  2033. >You like making fun of her
  2034. >You know she isn't that dumb
  2035. >That outburst she had the other day was enough for you to ease off of the snark for once
  2036. >Prism doesn't say anything
  2037. >You can't really think of anything to say about that either
  2038. >He's always fond of these big, important-sounding speeches
  2039. >Makes you think that he's the crutch character that ends up dying with one last word of wisdom
  2040. >You've played at least three games now where that sort of thing has happened
  2041. " what's our next movie?"
  2042. >"Welp... t'is the season. Time to introduce you girls to Halloween. And I know just the movie."
  2044. >Anon reaches over to his mouse and clicks away through a few folders
  2045. >He leans back, satisfied with himself
  2046. >His hand on Jacky's chest pulls her back
  2047. >She resists as much as jelly and slips to half lay and sit on her side
  2048. "So what is this supposed to..."
  2049. >As soon as you start to answer, what looks like a TV commercial plays
  2050. >Along with the mention of a company that makes countless items
  2051. >The company's name is Umbrella
  2052. >Not what you're expecting, it plays like some sort of business sitcom
  2053. >Until something goes wrong
  2054. >And everyone seems stuck
  2055. >Or worse
  2056. >The sudden ram of a woman's head into the top of an elevator makes everyone jump
  2057. >Except Anon
  2058. >"Oh, this is gonna be good... heheh..."
  2059. >He mumbles, patting Jacky's chest
  2060. >When the camera focuses on a completely new character... you're not sure what to expect
  2061. >She started in a shower, on the floor, and ends up in a dress
  2062. >The thumping music of the scene puts you on edge
  2063. >Jacky too
  2064. >Bit by bit she's been pushing her face into the side of his arm for reassurance
  2065. >Even Prism has been ruffling her feathers, slowly readjusting herself
  2066. >Then some guy pops up out of nowhere!
  2067. >And humans wearing all black!
  2068. >The tonal shift makes you lean forward, trying to understand what's going on
  2069. >Evidently the cop isn't the good guy in it, because he's been put in handcuffs
  2070. "What is this..."
  2071. >"A dining room..."
  2072. >The way Anon says it, it's like he's trying to imitate someone
  2073. "That's no dining room..."
  2074. >Jacky whispers at the sight of some high-tech, all metal train
  2075. >Most trains you've seen were... well, from video games or the cartoon
  2076. >This one just looks like it's not even for people
  2077. >After a jump scare, you catch a few seconds of electronic touch screens and other things that kinda look like Anon's phone
  2078. >Nothing really comes out at you to make this a Halloween movie
  2079. "Hey Anon... what's Halloween supposed to be about, again? Because this isn't really scary."
  2080. >"Well, Halloween is about spooky things, and candy."
  2081. "Well we sure got enough candy..."
  2082. >"And this doesn't seem so spooky..."
  2083. >The way Prism sounds, she expect something to happen
  2084. >"Ohh my little ponies. Just you wait..."
  2085. >A menacing tone doesn't reassure you
  2086. >It's actually enough to bother you
  2087. "Shut up..."
  2088. >The talking subsides just around the time one of the humans gives a rundown on something called The Hive
  2089. >It's put down so deeply under the earth that it sounds like an entire city
  2090. >It's pretty hard to imagine
  2091. >At the mention of nerve gas, you snort
  2092. "Stuff like that doesn't exist..."
  2093. >"Maybe..."
  2094. >Jacky doesn't sound so sure
  2095. >Your breath catches in your throat as soon as the humans enter a pitch dark room that they opened
  2096. >Until it lights up and reveals some sort of room with...
  2097. "A view to the outside?! I thought they were underground!"
  2098. >'Makes it easier to work underground, when you think there's a view' says one of the characters
  2099. >Well you kinda feel... dumb
  2100. >You shuffle to the side until your flank is pressed against Anon's hip
  2101. >Nothing scary has happened yet, but there is a lot of tension
  2102. >Including a queen that killed everyone?
  2103. >Your attention snaps back to the movie on a scare chord
  2104. >A body is suspended in some gross orange water!?
  2105. >No one says anything but there's an obvious heightened sense of danger
  2106. >You don't get it
  2107. >You've seen people get shot before in all of those westerns
  2108. >Why is seeing just the one body hanging there bothering you?
  2109. >Talk of floods and schedules reminds you of Twilight
  2110. >Whatever they're doing, they can't sit around
  2111. >'poor bastards' a female says
  2113. "G-GAGH?!"
  2114. >You jump
  2115. >Jacky flinches and presses her face into Anon's arm more
  2116. >Prism's neck goes low, like she's trying to lay in wait of an ambush
  2117. >Anon chuckles
  2118. >The bastard
  2119. >He knows what's happening, doesn't he
  2120. >When the group split up and enter some big area full of metal pillars, the character in the red dress finds... something... meaty?
  2121. >"What in the world..."
  2122. >Prism sounds both disgusted and intrigued
  2123. >A giant hallway lights up as one of the humans enter
  2124. >The music keeps you tense
  2125. >If you were there you'd have so much of an easier time
  2126. >You could just blast everything to bits and it would be fine
  2127. >These humans only have guns
  2128. >What chances could they have?
  2129. >What chance would someone like Anon have?
  2130. >A few more humans, carrying a bag, enter the hallway
  2131. >The hallway closes
  2132. >"Uh oh..."
  2133. >Anon whispers
  2134. >Uh oh?!
  2135. >An alarm starts to blare
  2136. >'what's that?' a human asks
  2137. >And then a freaking laser happens?!
  2138. >What you see is something so terrifying you're not sure when you'll be ok
  2139. >The laser slices off a few fingers of one human, the head of another, and it cuts another in half!
  2140. >Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, the fourth human gets...
  2141. >Eviscerated, into squares
  2142. >You have no clue what you just saw
  2143. >Jacky's eyes are wide and glued to the screen
  2144. >Prism looks like she's been driven mad
  2145. >You do a doubletake on her and her stone faced expression is there
  2146. >But it's the eyes
  2147. >Something's in her eyes that tell you she is not fine with what just happened
  2148. >"Holy shit..."
  2149. >Jacky finally whispers
  2150. >"Those guys got..."
  2151. >Their mission, whatever it is, continues
  2152. >To be honest, you kinda forgot
  2153. >'get out get out, you can't be in here'
  2154. >A red holographic girl pops up
  2155. >She sounds kinda funny
  2156. >'you're all going to die down here'
  2157. >The flat, expressionless delivery of that line makes you feel sick
  2158. >The tip of your horn starts to glow, until all of the lights in the facility come back on
  2159. >Anon nudges you with his arm, reminding you to breath
  2160. >"Remember... just a movie. Right?"
  2161. >Your ears twitch and try to stop themselves from going flat
  2162. >You give a little nod
  2163. >Jacky seems to be handling it better than you, but only because her front hooves are gripping onto Anon's hand
  2164. >You don't envy him given how strong she can be
  2165. >The other group of humans start to split up or something, looking for a noise
  2166. >One finds a person all in white
  2167. >What's with that breathing?
  2168. >The person in white BITES one of the humans?!
  2169. >After trying to talk the thing down, the two humans fire their guns at it
  2170. >The amount of firepower they fling toward one person feels like overkill
  2171. >You've seen people die in other movies from a single bullet
  2172. >Having dozens of bullets fired into one person?
  2173. >'because blood doesn't coagulate until after you're dead'
  2174. >What does coagulate mean?
  2175. >Was that person dead?
  2176. >A second weird human in white shows up, wielding an ax and walking with a broken foot or something
  2177. >Then more pop up
  2178. >Including one where part of his face is gone
  2179. >Then another that looks severely damaged
  2180. >One of the good humans gets grabbed by one but basically snaps it's neck
  2181. >Loud, hard-sounding music starts to blast as all of the humans open fire and shoot everything coming near them
  2182. >So many of them firing and not even really thinning the group is insane
  2183. >How could that happen?
  2184. >One of the towers explode
  2185. "How did that explode!?"
  2186. >Your only answer is seeing that some of the bad humans are now stumbling around while on fire
  2187. >"Aren't there guns any good?"
  2188. >Jacky mumbles
  2189. >"The guns are good... but those aren't people they're shooting."
  2190. >That's impossible
  2191. >They look just like humans
  2192. >The roaring and groaning that they do is inhuman
  2193. >One opens up a locked door, only to get pulled into a massive group of them!
  2194. >They start biting into him, and the female human that still wants to save him
  2195. >The camera shows just a mass of hands and heads going to eat and claw
  2196. >You avert your eyes from the scene, only for Jacky to scream
  2197. >"W-what was that thing?!"
  2198. "What was what?"
  2199. >You hear something bashing against metal but didn't see it in time
  2200. >The remaining humans argue and bicker about everything
  2201. >They mention that all of the humans that attacked them are dead
  2202. >Moving and biting and eating
  2203. >But dead
  2204. >One of the humans throws her gun to the floor
  2205. "Doesn't she need that?"
  2206. >"Ammo..."
  2207. >Anon and Jacky speak almost in tune
  2208. >The one in the red dress wanders off, only to get ambushed by some sort of... red, meaty dog
  2209. >And a dead human!
  2210. >Before you can feel panic, she...
  2211. >Jumps in the air and spin kicks him?
  2212. >"Woah..."
  2213. >Prism just says what you're all thinking
  2214. >The red human grabs a gun off of the dead human and ends up surrounded by those red dogs
  2215. >She shoots them like it's nothing
  2216. >And then drops the gun
  2217. " ammo..."
  2218. >You know how that works now
  2219. >The human-woman-in red kicks another dog and the scene ends there
  2220. >You shake your head, blinking as hard as you can
  2221. "Who can do that sort of thing?"
  2222. >Anon shrugs
  2223. >Jacky leans over and nudges you with her face
  2224. >"Hey... I bet I could do the spin kick."
  2225. "Can not..."
  2226. >"I bet you a chocolate egg..."
  2227. " don't have any."
  2228. >"But Anon does..."
  2229. >She grins at you
  2230. >You squint and grin back
  2231. "Deal."
  2232. >If she can sweet talk her way into giving you an egg, it's his loss
  2233. >Some exposition with a dead human happens about the Umbrella company but you're not really sure what it's supposed to amount to
  2234. >You don't even know the names of the characters
  2235. "Shouldn't they be... running?"
  2236. >"From?"
  2237. >You look up at Anon
  2238. >He's smiling
  2239. >He's enjoying this so much
  2240. "Humans that look as ugly as you."
  2241. >"At least I don't try to eat you."
  2242. >Jacky nods
  2243. >She doesn't say anything but you know exactly what she's thinking
  2244. >Jacky, that's just gross
  2245. "All of this talk about a virus... how do you sell a virus?"
  2246. >Why was money the entire reason for this?
  2247. >All of the humans meet up again, somehow
  2248. >'they seal shut in just under an hour'
  2249. "O..oh... oh no..."
  2250. >If they're stuck under there, with all of the dead humans...
  2251. >You don't want to think about it
  2252. >Some talk about computers goes on and the red girl's weird voice comes on again
  2253. "What is this accent?"
  2254. >"British. I have no clue why."
  2255. >Anon doesn't sound like he's joking on that
  2256. >'it brings the dead back to life?' the multiple bitten human asks
  2257. >'the need to feed'
  2258. >That line is said with the same emotionless cadence as 'you're all going to die down here'
  2259. "...does this mean... dead people are coming back just to eat others?"
  2260. >"That can't just happen... not once you're dead."
  2261. >Jacky doesn't believe it
  2262. >You don't either
  2263. >Somehow, they end up in a sewer, and immediately end up under attack
  2264. >You're a little dubious about everything because when they had rifles and guns, nothing was being done
  2265. >But the one in the red dress just uses her hands and it's as easy as can be
  2266. >You feel a growing sense of panic at the last human
  2267. >She's been bitten so many times now and she's the only one that's in range of the dead
  2268. >You feel a growing sense of disgust at the sight of the one that was bitten over and over dripping her blood into the horde of the dead down below
  2269. "What is this... what can you do in this? How do you ever get this to happen?"
  2270. >If you had magic, you could take care of them
  2271. >Probably
  2272. >You could just burn them all
  2273. >Even if the ones on fire didn't actually show any signs of damage
  2274. >No one likes getting set on fire, so it should work
  2275. >Another human falls into the horde and gets surrounded
  2276. >Somehow, he's able to make an escape
  2277. >All of them look so hurt and scared out of their wits
  2278. >Could you four get out of this situation?
  2279. >The stranded human puts his gun in his mouth
  2280. >Thankfully, before you even think of what that means, he shoots the dead that was about to attack him
  2281. >If you were stuck in a situation like that, would you be able to kill yourself?
  2282. >You've had it rough before but that was completely different
  2283. >"This is nightmarish..."
  2284. >Prism gasps in disbelief
  2285. >As soon as she said 'nightmarish', you saw something climbing on the walls
  2286. "What the hell WAS that?!"
  2287. >"You saw it too, that was the thing!"
  2288. >Jacky stabs her hoof into the air, pointing at the monitor
  2289. >It lasted not even a full second but you're sure of what you saw
  2290. >It looked like an animal
  2291. >Barely
  2292. >After a flashback one of the humans has, it's revealed that there's an antivirus
  2293. >A cure, basically
  2294. "Wait, can a virus be fixed that easily?"
  2295. >"She's been bitten a lot..."
  2296. >Prism sounds weary
  2297. >She's been unusually silent, even during all of this
  2298. >But you've seen her head duck and sway, like she's trying to avoid all of the dead
  2299. >Her wings have been hugged tightly to her, almost to the point of a feathery cocoon
  2300. >One of the humans grabs the only gun they have
  2301. >Evidently he was evil?
  2302. "Why are they threatening each other? The dead doesn't care!"
  2303. >"Humans are greedy, Shine... it's pretty bad."
  2304. >Without a noise, a dead human rises from the knee-deep water they've been in
  2305. "Oh no..."
  2306. >Jacky flinches at the surprise bite from behind, even though it was well telegraphed
  2307. >To us it was, at least
  2308. >You wouldn't let something like that sneak up on you so easily, would you?
  2309. >You let out a shriek at the sight of the bad human getting ambushed and eaten by the fleshless animal
  2310. >You see it in all of it's glory
  2311. >As if seeing it wasn't enough, it 'mutates'
  2312. >Changes
  2313. >"It must be the boss of the dungeon..."
  2314. >You don't know why, but that's the only thing that comes to mind
  2315. >Demons and monsters under your control and wanting to devour you is one thing
  2316. >But you've had magic and demons on your side
  2317. >These people are stuck without demons or magic
  2318. >Or even guns, evidently
  2319. >'you're gonna have to kill me'
  2320. >The infected woman offers to let herself be killed, just as the mutated animal starts bashing on a window
  2321. >The voice screams to 'kill her', everyone's screaming and violent
  2322. >And then the lights go out again
  2323. >The animal is gone
  2324. >What the hell just happened?
  2325. >The once-abandoned human shows up to save the day, thankfully
  2326. >They leave the locked room just as the mutant smashes it's way in
  2327. >The escalation of this has been immense
  2328. >It was a really short time, they're back at the train
  2329. >But they all look so worn down and chewed up
  2330. >Literally
  2331. >The bad one was dead but came back, rasping and screaming
  2332. >It was killed though
  2333. >Or was it still a he?
  2334. >"Eight minutes left..."
  2335. >Anon warns
  2336. >Eight minutes until the gates shut
  2337. >If they end up stuck down there after everything...
  2338. >The mutant, out of nowhere starts to claw at everything
  2339. >The surprise causes another cry from
  2340. >You, actually
  2341. >You didn't take yourself to be so jumpy
  2342. >The boss fight against the mutant really doesn't seem to last though
  2343. >It gets stabbed in the tongue and dropped out of the train from the bottom
  2344. >Where it's... set on fire...?
  2345. "How does that happen? What set it on fire?"
  2346. >"The electricity, I think."
  2347. >As soon as it began, the boss fight was won
  2348. >At the cost of half of the party dying
  2349. "Balm of Life..."
  2350. >That would have to work, even in that setting
  2351. >They seem to make it just in time too, and end up back in the mansion
  2352. >At least everything's done
  2353. "Man... what a ride that was..."
  2354. >There are only two of the humans left
  2355. >The two share a weird moment until the man's arm starts to twitch and make gross, meaty noises
  2356. >Then... humans in white are coming in? From some white room?
  2357. >You don't really get what they're doing there but the two are defeated
  2358. >This counts as a game over, right?
  2359. >And yet the movie continues
  2360. >To the point that the woman in red is now naked, on some sort of slab, covered in needles
  2361. >Including one in her head
  2362. >Jacky's slowly shifted from leaning back, to curled up around his arm, to requiring both of his arms for protection
  2363. >Yet she never once looked away
  2364. >You haven't been able to maintain yourself to that degree
  2365. >Maybe it's just you but you haven't been able to follow half of the movie as far as plot
  2366. >The camera pans out to a security room where it's completely empty
  2367. >Except for a passing figure
  2368. >The half naked woman leaves the white room, and explores whatever building she's in
  2369. >It's completely white
  2370. >Sterile, even
  2371. >That should be a good thing but the music says otherwise
  2372. >You lean forward at the reveal, once she leaves the building
  2373. >Vehicles are wrecked
  2374. >Things are on fire
  2375. >It's completely abandoned and destroyed
  2376. >She grabs a gun from a wrecked vehicle and the camera pans out, showing that the entire street is abandoned and in ruins
  2377. >But not just the street
  2378. >Buildings are covered in blood with broken windows
  2379. >It cuts out with one last musical sting
  2380. >As soon as the credits start, some weird hard-sounding rock song comes on
  2381. >Like that, the spell of cinema is lifted
  2382. "WHAT THE FUCK?!"
  2384. >"I can't believe this was fake..."
  2385. >You've been scared half-witless at some moments
  2386. >Jacky looks like she had the time of her life
  2387. >Prism looks like she's been disturbed and then some
  2388. >"Alright! That is movie... number... one..."
  2389. >Oh no
  2390. "What do you mean number one..."
  2391. >"It means that there are more movies to watch in this series. Sequels."
  2392. >Jacky lurches out and latches onto you
  2393. >"Awesome, we get to watch more!"
  2394. "What?! No, no way! I'm not watching anymore of this crap!"
  2395. >Undeniably skittish, Prism gets up and darts past everyone
  2396. >A flap of her big wings give her a bit of a boost
  2397. >"Dashie, don't leave us!"
  2398. >Jacky trips while leaving Anon's lap, her head landing against the mattress with a bounce
  2399. >She gives chase, tearing around the corner after the pegasus
  2400. >Leaving you with Anon again
  2401. "Don't tell me you watch these movies on purpose..."
  2402. >"Didn't you fight the embodiment of death itself and win a few days ago?"
  2403. >Anon sounds surprised that you'd feel anything less than sheer excitement at the movie
  2404. "Yes. But it didn't look like freaking this! This was horrifying!"
  2405. >"Yeah."
  2406. "Sickening!"
  2407. >"Sometimes."
  2408. "I felt like I might die just by being there!"
  2409. >He smiles at you
  2410. >You have the urge to stab him
  2411. >Or to kiss him
  2412. >Or to jump out the window, just in case the building was infested
  2413. >If it was, there was no way you four could handle it
  2414. >Anon's guns may as well be toothpick launchers
  2415. >"Calm down, Shine... it's alright. If any were here, we'd hear them first. And we're as secure as can be. With your magic, my ammo, Jacky's legs of granite and Dashie's..."
  2416. "Wings?"
  2417. >"Y-yeah..."
  2418. >He clears his throat
  2419. "Between all of us? We could get through it. Don't even worry."
  2420. >That helps
  2421. >Not in that you think it might not ever happen
  2422. >But that if it did, you would be able to come out of it alive
  2423. "...but what if any of us get bitten?"
  2424. >"Oh... oh no... Shine... Iiiiiiiiiaaaaaaauuuuuuuughhhh..."
  2425. >You watch
  2426. >Paralyzed
  2427. >As Anon's jaw goes slack
  2428. >His eyes roll up into his head, leaving only the whites
  2429. >He grabs onto your shoulders and lets out a long, dry rasp
  2430. >You scream with every ounce of your essence
  2431. >You don't even think to use magic, you struggle against his iron grip until you manage to slip through
  2432. >You sprint out of his room, joining the pair
  2433. >The scream of life-threatening terror reached them, obviously
  2434. >Jacky just looks confused
  2435. >Prism looks at you like you're a ghost
  2436. >She's already pale but she looks faint
  2437. "A-a... Anon's one of them!"
  2438. >As if that was the last straw, Prism drops and faints on the spot
  2439. >Jacky gives you a dubious look
  2440. >"Oh come off of it, Sparky. Anon can't become of those things. It was just a movie!"
  2441. >You spin about face at the sound of something falling over in the kitchen
  2442. >Anon pokes his head out and lets out another rasping roar
  2443. >His face looks as white as a sheet
  2444. >Both you and Jacky scream
  2445. >"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM!?"
  2446. "I DID SOMETHING?!"
  2447. >The towering human lurches forward with an uncanny finesse, then pulls back
  2448. >You can hear his spine crackle and pop from where you are, the fabric curtain to your backs
  2449. >"̢e̛e̛èeeee̷eeee̢e͝eee͜e̛e͡e̵e̡ęeeeée̷eeee͞e͡eé..."
  2450. >Or to jump out the window, just in case the building was infested
  2451. >If it was, there was no way you four could handle it
  2452. >Anon's guns may as well be toothpick launchers
  2453. >"Calm down, Shine... it's alright. If any were here, we'd hear them first. And we're as secure as can be. With your magic, my ammo, Jacky's legs of granite and Dashie's..."
  2454. "Wings?"
  2455. >"Y-yeah..."
  2456. >He clears his throat
  2457. "Between all of us? We could get through it. Don't even worry."
  2458. >That helps
  2459. >Not in that you think it might not ever happen
  2460. >But that if it did, you would be able to come out of it alive
  2461. "...but what if any of us get bitten?"
  2462. >"Oh... oh no... Shine... Iiiiiiiiiaaaaaaauuuuuuuughhhh..."
  2463. >You watch
  2464. >Paralyzed
  2465. >As Anon's jaw goes slack
  2466. >His eyes roll up into his head, leaving only the whites
  2467. >He grabs onto your shoulders and lets out a long, dry rasp
  2468. >You scream with every ounce of your essence
  2469. >You don't even think to use magic, you struggle against his iron grip until you manage to slip through
  2470. >You sprint out of his room, joining the pair
  2471. >The scream of life-threatening terror reached them, obviously
  2472. >Jacky just looks confused
  2473. >Prism looks at you like you're a ghost
  2474. >She's already pale but she looks faint
  2475. "A-a... Anon's one of them!"
  2476. >As if that was the last straw, Prism drops and faints on the spot
  2477. >Jacky gives you a dubious look
  2478. >"Oh come off of it, Sparky. Anon can't become of those things. It was just a movie!"
  2479. >You spin about face at the sound of something falling over in the kitchen
  2480. >Anon pokes his head out and lets out another rasping roar
  2481. >His face looks as white as a sheet
  2482. >Both you and Jacky scream
  2483. >"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM!?"
  2484. "I DID SOMETHING?!"
  2485. >The towering human lurches forward with an uncanny finesse, then pulls back
  2486. >You can hear his spine crackle and pop from where you are, the fabric curtain to your backs
  2487. >"̢e̛e̛èeeee̷eeee̢e͝eee͜e̛e͡e̵e̡ęeeeée̷eeee͞e͡eé..."
  2488. >His wheezing word freezes your blood
  2489. >Jacky looks at him like everything she ever knew crumpled away
  2490. >"N... no way... this isn't real... t-this only happens in movies!"
  2491. >Anon takes a lurching, awkward step toward you and her
  2492. >It looks exactly like in the movie
  2494. >"I... what do I do...?"
  2495. >What can she do?
  2496. >What can you do?
  2497. >The seconds feel like they last for entire minutes
  2498. >You can see Anon lurch forward again, taking another step
  2499. >Jacky looks like she might die then and there
  2500. >This is it
  2501. >This is how you're going to die
  2502. >You can't use magic on him
  2503. >You could never
  2504. >Not even on his dead, reanimated body
  2505. >You can't do a thing
  2506. >Anon takes one last step before getting into range
  2507. >But trips over one of the multiple pillows strewn about
  2508. >He gracelessly faceplants onto the floor, making a hard, heavy thud
  2509. >You're
  2510. >You're not sure what to think
  2511. "I... is he dead?"
  2512. >Before you can even contemplate what that means, he reaches out and grabs Jacky by her hooves!
  2513. >Both you and her let out an existentially horrified shriek
  2515. >He screeches out while raising his face, his raspy voice ending by the word 'chocolate'
  2516. >"I'M SORRY I DIDN'T MEAN TO REANIMATE YOU BY BE...tting... a..."
  2517. >Something doesn't look right
  2518. >Half of the whiteness of his face looks gone
  2519. >Like it was smeared off
  2520. >Nerves on high alert, you scan over his features
  2521. >Face reddening from falling face first onto the carpet
  2522. >That white film on his skin looks uneven and like something that isn't even a part of his face normally
  2523. >His arms look fine but one of his hands has that same white crud on it
  2524. >Despite your pulse, you look over at Jacky
  2525. >Jacky squints
  2526. >At him
  2527. >Then at you
  2528. >Then at him again
  2529. >"....yer sure gonna pay for this, pardner..."
  2530. >She growls at him using Applejack's signature drawl
  2531. >He smiles, nodding to himself
  2532. >He looks so satisfied
  2533. >"I'm ok with that. Happy Halloween, girls."
  2534. "I can't believe you... I hate you so much right now."

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