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Devil Hunter Dash

By Mshakezilla
Created: 6th April 2021 02:44:56 PM
Modified: 6th April 2021 02:45:36 PM

  1. >>
  2. >It was a gloriously sunny day in Ponyville. The sky was clear, the weather was fine, and the warm summer breeze felt wonderful on your coat.
  3. >Days like this that you can just relax and not have a care in the world...
  4. >Until the ball comes straight for you and you gotta kick the hell out of it!
  5. "Hyah! Got it!" You say smacking the ball with your wing straight to AppleJack, who kicks it straight over to the floating basket being held in a purple aura by Twilight.
  6. >"Fluttershy! Get ready!" Twilight says holding the basket in place.
  7. "Hey! Twilight! Your not supposed to help the other team!" You say glaring at her.
  8. >"Oh yeah, heh sorry! Still new to the whole sports thing!" Twilight says rubbing the back of her head.
  9. >"Aww, hello ball." Fluttershy says as she does a spinning tail catch, "Now goodbye ball!" throwing the ball right over to Pinky.
  10. >This game of buckball was getting intense, although Twilight didn't really play much, it didn't matter against both Pinky and Fluttershy.
  11. >Nothing out of /your/ athletic abilities though. You and AppleJack were pretty much carrying the team.
  12. >"Weee! Coming at ya!" Said pinkie, bucking the ball hard.
  13. >The ball whizzes straight past you, catching a breeze while it does so.
  14. >It rockets straight to the basket being held up by Rarity, whose enthusiasm in the game is...moderate at best.
  15. >The ball lands directly in the basket Rarity held in her blue aura of magic.
  16. >No surprise they would score sometimes, Pinkie was really good at this game...
  17. >"Woo-HOO! Good catch Rarity!!" Pinkie exclaimed in excitement, bouncing up and down.
  18. >"Hm? Oh, I suppose it was." Rarity said sounding bored.
  19. >The game was tied 5-5, and the next point would win the prize! The most important prize in any game...bragging rights.
  20. "Y'know Rarity, you could at least try to sound excited, your team just scored!"
  21. >"Yes, yes that was a very nice kick Pinkie..."
  22. >Rarity goes back to her fashion magazine, sitting back and hardly paying any attention.
  23. >Hmph, if she not gonna care then fine! Its time to end this tie game!
  24. >The ball goes back to the center for the buck-off.
  25. >"Alright everypony, the next point takes the win!" Spike says, about to throw up the ball.
  26. >Ball goes up, and AppleJack takes it fast, bucking as hard as she can, rocketing the ball over to Fluttershy who catches it in her tail and whirls it over to Pinkie.
  27. >"Weee!" Pinkie yells in excitement, bucking the ball back to your basket.
  28. "Oh no you don't!"
  29. >You smack the ball as hard as you can with your right hoof back to AppleJack.
  30. >"Whoa nelly!" AppleJack says, bucking the ball back to Fluttershy.
  31. >"Nawww, that cloud looks like a bunny." Fluttershy says as the balls flew right past her and into the basket.
  32. >"Oh...whoops..."
  33. "Yes!! We won!!" You cry out, "Yes-yes-yes!!"
  34. >You begin a victory dance floating in the air, banging your head and air-guitaring as you do so.
  35. >"Uhh, Rainbow..."
  36. "Aww yeah! Look whos just too busy being awesome!" You say placing a hoof on your chest.
  37. >"Rainbow!" Twilight yells out, getting your attention.
  38. "Oh uhhh, sorry everypony. Guess I got carried away heh heh..." You say waving a hoof.
  39. >"Its okay rainbow! We had fun!" Pinkie says bouncing over to the center of the field.
  40. >"Fiiinally its over, can we go home now?" Rarity said trotting over with the group.
  41. >The afternoon sun was beginning to set, and the horizon glowed in a meld of orange, yellow, and red. Giving it a beautiful hue.
  42. >"Well, it is getting a little late, I'll see you all later!" Twilight says taking off and folding her buckball shirt.
  43. >"Yeah, and I gotta be up early in the mornin' to help Big Mac with the hogs, guess I'll see y'all later also!"
  44. >AppleJack leaves and eventually Rarity huffs and follows in turn. Clearly she had /much/ better things to do...
  45. >"So Dash, whatcha doing tomorrow?" Pinkie asks.
  46. "Oh. Uhhh I uhh gotta be early, yeah! For the clouds...n'stuff" You say with a nervous smile.
  47. >"Oh! Okay! Goodbye Rainbow!" Pinkie says bouncing away with her trademark spring noises.
  48. >You look to the horizon and think about what work their is to be done tonight, hopefully headquarters at Clouds Dale sent you that "package" they notified you about.
  49. >Either way, tonight was gonna be awesome!
  50.  
  51.  
  52. >>
  53. "Lets see, junk mail, junk mail, junk mail..." You say digging through your mailbox throwing away the random letters from various sources, "Ah, this is it!"
  54. >Grabbing the large brown package you dash straight into your house leaving your signature rainbow trail behind you.
  55. "Finally! This is gonna be so awesome!"
  56. >Digging and ripping through the package paper, you reveal a cardboard box.
  57. >A note was written on a piece of paper taped to the corner.
  58. "What the?" you say unfolding it.
  59. >"Dash, this weapon is experimental and should be used with that in mind...you know what I'm talking about."
  60. >You look to the box and back to the letter and continue reading.
  61. >"These two experimental anti-evil guns should dispatch any monster or demon you encounter! Signed, Vortex."
  62. "Anti-evil wha?" You say looking at the paper questioningly.
  63. >Whatever, Vortex is always trying new stuff and methods of making work easier.
  64. >Like you need help catching monsters...
  65. >Oh well, may as well indulge him and see what hes got.
  66. >Opening the box you are greeted by two metal "L" shaped things.
  67. >One of them was a shiny metallic silver, and the other a metallic black. They both had grooves on what you could assume were the handles of these things.
  68. >The silver one had something engraved on its side in gold letters "Ebony and Ivory" it read.
  69. >Must be the names of the twin objects?
  70. >Oh well, should think about that later.
  71. >Observing further, they both had holes on their front ends, with little hook looking things on the top of the rectangular flattened top.
  72. "Just what in Equestria did he make this time?" You ask yourself.
  73. >Picking up both the metal objects, they reveal another paper underneath them.
  74. >They were instructions.
  75. >"Anti-evil guns and you; how to use them..."
  76. >You read the first few lines before throwing the paper to the side.
  77. "Borrring..." Like you need instructions on how to hunt evil, "I'm just gonna bring them along and learn as I go. Like I'll need them anyway..."
  78. >Placing both of the weapons down, you make way for your closet, pushing aside various pieces of clothing, aside from your Wonderbolt uniform which you had specially folded and put away, and take out your red overcoat and black vest.
  79. *Sigh* "I love my jobs!" You think to yourself.
  80. >Dawning the coat and vest on, you grab your new toys and stuff them in your coat pockets.
  81. >You open your back door facing away from town and step outside, crouching down and getting ready to take off.
  82. "Lets see what ol'Vortex has for me tonight!!"
  83. >And with that, you blast off into the evening sky, on a direct course to headquarters.
  84.  
  85.  
  86. >>
  87. >Soaring through the evening sky, passing through clouds at high speed, the warm summer air turns to a mild chill.
  88. >Fiddling with your pockets, you do your best to keep these things from falling out slowing you down just a bit, trying to make sure they wouldn't fly out and you'd have to retrieve them if they landed on the ground.
  89. >Would hate to lose your new gift so early after getting them.
  90. "These things better be worth the effort!" you think to yourself.
  91. >A few more moments go by and you make it to the edge of the bog of Everfree.
  92. >The air turns into a stagnant smell and hazy view.
  93. >Why they have to put the hideout in such a dreary place you don't know.
  94. >would prefer a nice spot near the beach or someplace hidden in the clouds but, why complain?
  95. >The pay was good and helped with the rent of that huge ass mansion you own in Ponyville.
  96. >Landing near a clearing and casually walking to on old hallowed out log, you tap on it's side 3 times.
  97. >A small panel opens up at eye level and your greeted by two emerald eyes meet yours, followed by darting around too see if anyone but you is around.
  98. "C'mon Vortex, its me!" You say in an annoyed tone.
  99. >"Password!" His muffled voice comes through the hole.
  100. "Canterlot clam chowder."
  101. >"Is that the red or the white?"
  102. "Ugh, I can never remember that..." You say tapping your chin,  "White?"
  103. >The panel closes and the door opens with a buzz.
  104. "Yes!" You whisper to yourself.
  105. >Entering the door you are greeted by a short dark hall, lit only by a few lights hung up along the dirt ceiling.
  106. >Thankfully, most of the hideout was deeper underground and wasn't so spooky looking.
  107. >"Good to see you again, Dash." The grey coated white maned Pegasus says greeting you.
  108. "Yeah well, you said I would have an assignment tonight so y'know, I'm always ready."
  109. >"Right, right. Did you get the package?"
  110. "I sure did, still aren't sure just what these things are though..." You say taking the weapons from your pocket and tapping them together.
  111. >"Easy with those things, they can pack a whollop when you really learn how to use them. Did you read the instructions?"
  112. >You give him a dull expression and raise a brow.
  113. >"Heh, right. I suppose I'll just explain how they work once we get to the main room."
  114. >Vortex was good people. Though he wasn't the athletic type, he was good in organization and management.
  115. >Perfect leader for your little band of misfits.
  116. >Nearing the end of the hallway you enter a brighter lit open room.
  117. >The shag rug on floor and couches along the edges of the wall along with the sunk in table in the center complete with a hookah, gave the place a very chill vibe.
  118. >"Hey! SteelHorn!" Vortex calls out to the large brown Minotaur leaning over the counter at the far right end of the room.
  119. >He was clearly working on something magical, having sparks and jolts light up the area around him every second.
  120. >"Not now Vortex, I'm making..."
  121. >A bright shock illuminates the room for a split second and a loud booms comes from the device he was working on.
  122. >"TOAST!" He says holding a burnt piece of bread over his head.
  123. "Uhhh I think its just a bit overcooked there Steel..."
  124. >Steel looks to the black crusty bread and huffs.
  125. >Hmph! You just can't appreciate my genius is all!" he says crossing his arms.
  126. "If genius means blowing yourself up every five minutes, then no. Not in the least" You say waving a hoof.
  127. >"Steel is no fool!"
  128. >"Hey! Hey! Both of you!" Vortex says standing between the two of you, "Now isn't the time for arguing, we have an extremely important mission at hoof!"
  129. >"Yeah yeah, fine..."
  130. >Steel huffs again and places the burnt toast down back on the counter.
  131. "Heh, sorry about that Vortex."
  132. >"Its all good, lets just get you briefed."
  133. >The 3 of you walk over to the sunk in table in the center of the room and take a seat in the comfy suade seats surrounding it.
  134. "Ooo! Ooo! Can we fire up the hookah!?" You say picking up the hookah hose attached to the fancy looking vase in the center of the table.
  135. >"No Dash, no hookah."
  136. >Vortex grabs the hookah places it under the table.
  137. >Dang it...
  138. >"So whats so important about this mission that Steel needs to made separate from his glorious work?" Steel says flexing his arms.
  139. "If by glorious you mean explosive..."
  140. >He growls and huffs, turning his head to ignore you.
  141. >"Our intelligence suggests-"
  142. "We have intelligence?"
  143. >"Suggests..."
  144. >Heh heh...
  145. >"That we investigate a sighting of a strange creature thats been terrorizing the citizens of a farming town on the outskirts of Rambling Rock Ridge."
  146. "Uh, question!" You say raising your hoof over your head, "Seriously, whos our intelligence?"
  147. >Vortex puts on an annoyed expression and facehoofs.
  148. >"Its me, okay? I'm the intelligence!" He say pointing to himself.
  149. "Ohhhh..."
  150. >"Steel is pretty smart too..." Steel mutters to himself.
  151. >"Okay enough! Lets try to be serious for once!"
  152. "Sorry."
  153. >"Sorry..."
  154. >You both say replying at once.
  155. >"Thank you. Now, Rainbow, you'll be investigating the sightings and seeing if you can't find whatever is terrifying the locals. It's spooking them and making them lose crops due to their fear of venturing out to the fields alone."
  156. "Yeah yeah, basically I just need to find whatever this thing is, /smash/ it," You say mashing your hooves together, "And save the day as always."
  157. >"How come you never send SteelHorn on any solo missions?" Steel asks curiously.
  158. >"I'm never letting you do anything after that incident with the white rabbit!"
  159. >"Oh, you know what! That wasn't exactly /my/ fault! When it jumped on me, and cuddled...with me. And had se- you know what!? I'm out of here! Steel isn't on trial!"
  160. >SteelHorn gets up from his chair and huffs with each step he takes back to his burnt toast.
  161. >Celestia, he is a moody Minotaur...
  162. >Vortex lets out a long, drawn-out sight.
  163. >"Listen, Dash. Here are the coordinates to the are where the sightings have been going on."
  164. >You grab the parchment from vortex from across the table. Observing it, you see a detailed map of Equestria and a big X where your destination lie.
  165. "Got it, I'll find this whatever it is and make mince meat of it like all the rest of these lame little monsters!" You say crossing your hooves.
  166. >"And before you leave, I'll explain those weapons to you, and as well, take these."
  167. >Vortex throws you a pair of holsters that are specifically fitted and sowed to the size of the weapons.
  168. "Aww c'mon, like I'll need any help with my job, are you forgetting who your talking to?"
  169. >You lean back in your seat and put on a smug face.
  170. >"Those holsters will allow you to carry your new weapons easier and not just letting them dangle in your coat pockets."
  171. >These things will just weigh you down...
  172. >"Since you saw it fit /not/ to pay any attention to the instructions I gave you, I'll explain how they work."
  173. >Ugh...
  174. "Fine, just make it fast." You say putting both hooves behind your head and sinking into your seat.
  175. >"Right well, if you look at them closely..."
  176. >You take one out of your pocket and closely examine it.
  177. >"You'll see the grooves in the handle are specially fitted to your hooves, and tuned to the magic in your body."
  178. >Magic in you body? Your not a unicorn...
  179. "What do you mean the 'magic in my body'? I'm not a unicorn y'know..." You say as a matter of factly, stretching your wings.
  180. >Vortex closes his eyes and lets out another sigh.
  181. >"Yes Dash...I know. But I know that /you/ know that everypony has latent magic in their bodies based on their type. For example earth ponies use theirs to cultivate land, unicorns have their magic to assist in their special talents, and, of course, we pegasi, have magic to control weather."
  182. >You look back down to the weapon, now more curiously then bored.
  183. "Thats pretty cool I guess, so I'm the only one who can use them since they are only for my magic?"
  184. >You continue looking closely at the metal objects, now with a little more enthusiasm then before.
  185. >"Yes, they use your magic to fire projectiles of pure rainbow energy, and since you were able to perform the legendary Sonic Rainboom, the energy they can utilize from you will be of great use against some of the more durable foes you may face."
  186. >These things were starting to sound pretty cool.
  187. "Right well thats all fine and dandy and stuff, but I think I'm gonna start making my way to this little town..."
  188. >You strap the holsters to your waist and grab the map, roll it up, and make for the exit.
  189. >"Dash do me a favor before you go out." Vortex says stopping you mid pace.
  190. "Ugh, c'mon what now? I'll figure out how to use these things eventually. I'm a hooves on learner anyway!"
  191. >"Yes I get that, but try not to cause /too/ much of a scene. We don't want to get discovered, our private budget from Canterlot can't handle a big cover-up."
  192. "How many of these monster and demons have I gone against and we haven't been discovered?" You say closing your eyes in a smug way.
  193. >"Fine. Just...just be careful alright?"
  194. >You nod and make way for the door. Exiting, you take a quick look at the map and get your bearings as to what direction you should take off in based on the position of the moon.
  195. "Alright, east it is!"
  196. >With that, you rocket into the sky, leaving behind your signature rainbow trail behind you.
  197.  
  198.  
  199. >>
  200. >Harness your latent magic...how could that even work? What could that even mean?
  201. >Would Twilight know something like that?
  202. >Oh well, best not to think about it and just get to where you need to go.
  203. >A short while goes by, and you arrive to the marked spot on the map near the Rambling Rock Ridge.
  204. >It was a little town, only a hoof full of houses and a few crop fields.
  205. >Hovering over the edge of the main road leading into town, you observe for any irregularities. It was night, so no surprise that no pony would be out and about.
  206. "May as well ask around I guess..."
  207. >Casually flying over to the nearest home made of wood and straw, you knock on the door and wait a moment.
  208. >The door is answered by an older earth pony, he had grey hair and wrinkles under his eyes and gasped just a bit at the sight of you.
  209. >Guess the locals aren't accustomed to travelers visiting...
  210. >"Wh-what can I do fer ya miss?" He says nervously.
  211. "Well actually I'm here to..." You pause trying to think of an excuse for being here that doesn't involve hunting monsters.
  212. >Don't want to blow your cover.
  213. "I'm here to...take a uhh...survey on..." a grin grows on your face, "have you accepted Celestia as your princess and ruler?"
  214. >He promptly slams the door in your face.
  215. >Guess you could've thought of something a little better...
  216. >Buck it. Next house then.
  217. >Flying over to the next house, you land at the front and knock at the door, a little harder then the last one.
  218. >"Just give me a little more time!" A male voice calls out.
  219. >A minute goes by and no pony answers.
  220. >You knock again, almost banging on the door this time, tapping your hoof on the ground while doing so.
  221. >"I'm coming! I'm coming!" The voice says again.
  222. "What the heck..."
  223. >Putting your ear up to the door, you begin hearing feint moans and squeaks from inside.
  224. >"Oh Celestia, don't stop! I'm cumming too!" A female voice cries out.
  225. >Your face goes beat red and your ears droop down to your face.
  226. >Yup. Next house.
  227. >An hour goes by, and nopony in the village is willing to work with you. All you managed to get was the typical, "It destroyed our crops and its scary blah blah..."
  228. "Why is every pony in this town so weird?" You think to yourself.
  229. >Whatever this thing is, it must really have them spooked.
  230. "Guess I'll just do some air scouting..."
  231. >You rocket into the air, hovering just above the village and observe the green fields of various crops below, looking for any movement.
  232. >Hovering over and making rounds around the border of the village, you scout every inch you can without venturing too far out.
  233. "Okay, this is getting stupid. Maybe Vortex didn't have the right-"
  234. >A loud rustling in the treeline to your left catches your attention.
  235. "That better be it! I was getting bored!" You say darting towards the noise.
  236. >The rustling in the treeline grows louder as you approach, causing you to become excited to find out what it could be.
  237. "Awww Yeah! Time for some action!"
  238. >Piercing the treeline and making a quick landing sliding on the ground, you quickly look around and observe for any movement.
  239. >The bush to your left moves slightly.
  240. "Prepare to meet your...huh?"
  241. >A squirrel jumps out of the bushes, staring at you for a second before skittering into the night.
  242. "Oh you gotta be bucking kidding me!! A Buck'n squirrel?!" You say kicking the dirt.
  243. >You huff and sit to your haunches crossing your hooves, putting on an annoyed expression.
  244. "I've been looking for like, ever, and I haven't found anything! Maybe I should just go back..."
  245. >The ground rumbles a bit.
  246. "The heck is that?"
  247. >It does it again.
  248. >And again. Like something big was walking.
  249. >Eventually the rumbling and sound of steps stop...right behind you.
  250. "Uhhh...."
  251. >Turning around to see what it is, you quickly jump to the side to avoid the monster's foot stomp.
  252. "Ah-HA! Found you!" You say taking a fighting stance.
  253. >The creature comes out of the dark and into the moonlight, revealing itself to you.
  254. >It was a...banana? With  skinny little arms and legs? And a face...an eerily happy face.
  255. >ITS PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME, PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME, PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME..."
  256. >The banana monster dances and slides from side to side, pumping it's arms up and down in the air as it moves.
  257. "Just what in the-"
  258. >"PEANUTBUTTERJELLY, PEANUTBUTTERJELLY, PEANUTREBUTTERJELLY WIH A BASEBALL BAT..."
  259. >Okay, screw this. Time for action. This was no doubt the monster terrorizing the locals.
  260. >You lunge forward, giving the monster a roundhouse kick to the face.
  261. >It twists and contorts, flying to the ground and not moving.
  262. "Heh, you weren't so tough!" you brush yourself off and prepare to leave, "Time to head back and let Vortex know the jobs done."
  263. >As you crouch down and get ready for take-off, you hear a groaning and movement as the monster gets back up.
  264. >"Who dares hit the mighty Sandwich king!?" It says getting back to it's feet.
  265. >Sandwich king? But, hes a banana...
  266. "I kicked you!" You call out, making yourself known.
  267. >"You would strike royalty? The mighty Banana Sandwich king will make you pay!"
  268. >It begins to charge, stomping and stamping the ground with each step as it picks up speed preparing to take you down.
  269. >You avoid, causing the beast to speed right passed you.
  270. "Hah, your wayyy to slow to try and charge at me like /that/!"
  271. >The beast stops in it's tracks, skidding in the dirt, kicking up dust and rocks.
  272. >"Ima open up a jar of PENUTBUTTER and make a jam sandwich on your face!!"
  273. >Uhhh...okay then.
  274. >Whatever, this idiot monster needs to be shown just how fast you really are!
  275. >You brace yourself and charge full speed at the beast, kicking it square in the face.
  276. >Your hoof sinks into it's face, the impact causes bits of banana goop to fly everywhere and knock it back at least 20 feet.
  277. >It landed flat on it's back, not moving.
  278. >That must have done it!
  279. "Get back up from that!"
  280. >You stay floating mid-air and observe for any movement, making sure it wouldn't get back up.
  281. >A few moments go by, and the creature still lies on the ground.
  282. >Yup, that definitely did it.
  283. "I should still double check, just to be sure."
  284. >Approaching the monster's body, you look down to your waist, where your weapons were still holstered, untouched.
  285. "Hah! I told Vortex I wouldn't need'em!"
  286. >You take one last look at the beast before deciding it was down for the count.
  287. >It's face was partially sunken in in the shape of a hoof on it's left cheek.
  288. "Whelp, time to get ba- AHH!"
  289. >The creature's hand-like appendage latches onto your tail as it rises from the dirt and stand back to it's feet.
  290. >"You gon'learn!" It says, raising you over it's head.
  291. >It tightens it's grip, and begins to flail you about, smashing you into the ground and surrounding trees.
  292. >"ITS," *smash* "PEANUT", *smash* "BUTTER" *smash* "JELLY TIME!!"
  293. >The beast throws you off to the side, causing you to bounce and slide through the dirt.
  294. >That hurt. A lot.
  295. "Unnn...owe...that...didn't hurt..."
  296. >You stagger back up, vision blurring as you try to regain balance.
  297. "I can hardly move, don't have the energy to pull another move!" You think to yourself.
  298. >Ugh, how did you let this happen? This never happens!
  299. >"Check the clock! 'Cause its PEANUTBUTTER JELLY TIME!" The monster cries out, beginning to charge again.
  300. >Crap! What to do, what to do??
  301. >Wait, the pistols!
  302. "C'mon, c'mon!" You say fumbling and cringing in pain from the movement to get them out of their holsters.
  303. >The monster draws closer, each step growing louder and shaking the ground more and more.
  304. "D-damnit! I gotta aim!"
  305. >The shaking ground was making your already unstable stance harder to see clearly.
  306. >"You gon' learn! Ima teach ya!" He says, still charging and closing the gap.
  307. "Jokes' on you! I dropped out of flight school!"
  308. >You bring the weapons up and to take a shot.
  309. *BANG*
  310. >The weapons fire off two flashes of light, each changing color in a rainbow pattern that matches your mane and tail.
  311. >The lights twirl around one another and go straight through the banana's head, right between the eyes.
  312. >The lights go, and keep going as they fade out into the distance.
  313. >The monster's body immediately goes limp and falls to the side, just barely missing you.
  314. "Wow...these really /are/ awesome..." You say looking in awe at the smoking barrels.
  315. >Looking to the beast's corpse, you observe the banana bits and guts everywhere...and all over you.
  316. "Awwww! Now I'm gonna smell like buck'n bananas for days!"
  317. >Still, least its actually dead now.
  318. >Your just disappointing in yourself for letting your guard down, still had plenty more moves left before he managed to get hold of you.
  319. >Oh well, its dead, and your alive.
  320. "Getting back is gonna really suck..." You think to yourself as you get back to your hooves.
  321. >The impacts had injured your wings and your ribs. They weren't broken, but still hurt to move.
  322. >They would heal though, in time. Good thing Steel knows some good first aid.
  323. >Taking a moment to compose yourself and catch your breathe, you take the weapons from their holsters and take a good look at them.
  324. "Ebony and Ivory huh? Good names..."
  325.  
  326.  
  327. >>
  328. >The horizon glows a mesh of warm colors.
  329. >Orange, red, a little yellow and some purple.
  330. >It was dawn already, and you had just made it back to headquarters, flying slowly and wearily from the fight erlier that night.
  331. >Damn banana. Got to learn to be more careful next time...
  332. "Finally here...oh Celestia I am going to sleep sooo good when I get back home..."
  333. >You stop and land at the entrance, giving it a quick knock.
  334. >A few minutes go by, and the panel opens, and you are greeted by Vortex like you normally are.
  335. >"Ah! Glad your back Dash." He says rubbing his eyes, "How'd it go?"
  336. >You take a step back and unfurl your red coat, showing the dried up pieces of banana and mud.
  337. >"Ah yes well, lets get you inside and debriefed so you can get home."
  338. >That sounds amazing...
  339. >The door opens and the both of you make your way to the main room.
  340. >"Do you need any medical attention? Looks like it was a pretty rough fight..."
  341. "I'm a little bruised up, but I think I'll be fine." You say brushing the leaves and grass from your mane. "Hey, were you asleep before I got here?"
  342. >"I-uh no! I was uhh...uhhhh...just uhhhh...."
  343. >Vortex puts on a nervous expression as he stumble over his words.
  344. >That bastard fell asleep while you were out all night working! Some ponies...
  345. "Ugh, just shut-up and grab me a cider from the fridge would ya?"
  346. >"Yeah I'm going!" He says darting over to the fridge.
  347. >Walking over to the center table, you collapse into the comfy seats, letting out a sigh of relief from taking all the weight off your hooves.
  348. >"here ya go, Dash. I'm sorry for falling asleep while you were working." Vortex says taking a seat next to you and hooving over a bottle of your favorite cider.
  349. >Yeah yeah, just keep talking you lazy...
  350. >"On the positive side, we haven't gotten any invoices or messages from Canterlot about any missions so, you can just relax until we do."
  351. >Like you weren't going to anyway!
  352. "Thats something at least." You say popping open the bottle and taking a drink.
  353. >Your ear twitches back and forth making you scratch at it. Another twig falls out of your mane.
  354. >Definitely need a shower...
  355. >"Oh! forgot to ask, how did your new weapons handle? Did they work?" He says sitting up in the couch.
  356. >Vortex's voice raises in excitement as more questions roll out of his mouth.
  357. >"Did they even work? How did they handle? Were they too strong? Did they feel okay? How was-"
  358. "ENOUGH! They worked alright?!" You shout, interrupting him.
  359. >He sinks back down and grins sheepishly.
  360. >"Th-thats good to hear, heh. Sorry, I just wanted to make sure my invention worked okay..."
  361. >Oh they worked alright. Worked good.
  362. "Yes, they worked Vortex. They were actually really strong, took the demon out in just shot." You say taking from them from thier holsters and admiring them.
  363. >You set them down in the table in front of you and finish off the cider in one gulp.
  364. >"Okay well, time for your debriefing!"
  365. >Vortex gets up and begins walking to the entrance to the back office just behind the kitchen area.
  366. "Alright, alright..."
  367. >Attempting to sit-upright, you cringe in pain from your hurt ribs. Your body was beginning to relax and the pain was becoming more evident.
  368. "Ah! Damn..." You say holding your sides.
  369. >"Dash, you're really hurt..." He says with concern.
  370. "N-no! I just uhhh...was..." You fumble and your mind races to think of an excuse, "was just stretching, thats all!"
  371. >He gives a dull expression.
  372. >Crap, hes not buying it.
  373. >*sigh* "I'll get Steel to bandage up your injuries, don't wanna find out you have anything broken before another mission pops up."
  374. "No! He always uses to much bandages!" You sit up a bit and turn to face him, "Last time I was practically mummified-HNN!" You say cringing in pain again.
  375. >Vortex rolls his eyes and lets out another sigh.
  376. >"Fine, I'll make sure to tell him to go easy on the bandages. Just make sure you take it easy for awhile though, alright?"
  377. >You nod and huff. He /better/ go easy on the bandages...
  378.  
  379. >>
  380. >A little while goes by, and you find yourself sitting on the counter in the kitchen with your red coat, vest, and as well as Ebony and Ivory sitting next to you.
  381. >Makes you feel like a filly again, sitting on the counter. Why do Minotaurs have to be tall?
  382. >Steel walks over to you with a roll of bandages and some pain killers.
  383. >Would be really useful to have a unicorn with medical magic knowledge right about now...
  384. >"Alright dash, just take one of these twice per day with meals and don't do any core related work." Steel says reading the label on the bottle.
  385. "Okay, but I'm still going to have to maintain an image y'know, I have weather captain duties!"
  386. >"Well if your the captain then can't you re-work the schedule and get somepony else to take your spots?"
  387. >Steel unrolls the white cloth-like bandages and begins applying them to your mid section and the base of your right wing.
  388. "Well yeah, but that wouldn't be fair though! And besides, I can clear up clouds in practically no time at all!" You say with a smug expression.
  389. >"Well don't come running to Steel when your injuries get worse, Steel has better things to do!"
  390. "Like blowing yourself up? Haha AHH!" A shot of pain shoots up your back and neck from your wing, "Okay okay! I take it back!"
  391. >Steelhorn shakes his head and finishes up the wrapping.
  392. >"Okay all set, Just remember to go easy on yourself until the pain goes away without those pills."
  393. >He hooves over the bottle and grabs a gym bag he had next to him on the floor.
  394. >"Okay I'll see you all later, Steelhorn has heavy objects to pick up and put down again!"
  395. >With that, he leaves up the hall leading to the exit and out the door.
  396. "Guess I should get going now too."
  397. >You hop off the counter and grab your things, gonna be a difficult flight back with the bandaged up wing.
  398. >As you walk towards the exit, your stopped by Vortex.
  399. >Just what could he want now...
  400. >"Dash if you want you /could/ just leave your stuff here until you get back. Y'know, make the trip back to Ponyville easier."
  401. "Yeah, okay..."
  402. >You hand your stuff over to Vortex and make it outside.
  403. >Lucky for you, Ponyville isn't /that/ far from here and will only take about an hour to walk back.
  404.  
  405. >>
  406. >The morning drags on, you had to take your time with weather duty this morning and it was making removing clouds as tedious as ever.
  407. >Hopefully none of your friend notice you moving so sluggishly.
  408. >"Hi Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie says in her typical "happy as can be" tone.
  409. >Great...time to think of some excuses.
  410. "H-hey Pinkie, just getting the weather done!"
  411. >C'mon...just say "okay" and hop away...
  412. >"Looks like your moving a bit sluggish there Dash!"
  413. >Crap.
  414. "Y-yeah well, I uhh...pulled some muscles doing..." You say tapping your chin.
  415. >"Did you get hurt while performing your duties as a secret agent for an even more secret organization dedicated to protecting all of ponykind from monsters and evil, and doing said work caused you to become injured last night?"
  416. >Aw hell, how did she find out!?
  417. >Quick! think of something!
  418. >Buck life! can't think of anything!
  419. "N-no! I uhhh..." You say with a nervous expression.
  420. >"Oh, Dash! I'm just teasing!" She says giggling.
  421. >Oh thank Celestia...
  422. "Uhh, y-yeah." You breath a sigh of relief, "Well anyway, I pulled something playing hoof-ball, yeah! Thats what happened!"
  423. >You nod your head and put on a smug grin.
  424. >Sounded true enough, didn't it?
  425. >Just as long as she doesn't notice the banana smell that still lingered even after the thorough shower before Steel put the bandages on...
  426. >"Hey Dash! Why do you smell like bananas?"
  427. >Damnit...
  428. "W-well you see I uhh...wanted to make a sundae last night after Hoof-ball, so I made one and got a little banana on me, thats all!"
  429. >"Ohhh, well if you wanted ice cream you could've just come over, I have plenty!"
  430. >Course you do, now please, just hop away...
  431. >"Anyway, I'll see ya later Dashie! I've got some orders to fill!"
  432. >Pinkie hops away back to Sugar-Cube Corner, humming a cheerful tune while doing so.
  433. "Phew!" You wipe the sweat from your brow, "Now to finish up and go to sleep..."
  434.  
  435.  
  436. >>
  437. >It was early in the morning and the rising sun's light penetrated your room window through the partially left open curtain on the left side of your room, illuminating your whole room.
  438. >It had been 3 days with no word from headquarters.
  439. >Not that you weren't enjoying it, mind you, gave you time to recover and retrain the muscles in the wing that had been damaged.
  440. "Mmmmmm...why does Celestia have to raise the sun so early..." You say groggily, rolling to your side to face away from the sunlight.
  441. >Covering your face with your pillow, you attempt to go back to sleep.
  442. >A few minutes go by and the sun's rays only shine brighter and brighter with each passing minute.
  443. "Ugh, why is it that I can sleep on clouds in the middle of the day, but when I'm in my room a little sunrise keeps me awake..." You think to yourself.
  444. >Lying there in bed staring at the ceiling, you twirl your mane in your hoof, trying to wake yourself up from the sleepiness.
  445. >A whirring noise makes it's presence known hovering over your bed.
  446. >It was Tank, your faithful pet and friend.
  447. >The small gusts of air coming from his flight kit blew in your face, giving you the motivation to finally get out of bed.
  448. >Had some sweet moves and tricks to practice today anyway, can't slack just because your tired!
  449. >You groan and moan, rising out of bed and from under the blankets.
  450. *Sigh* "Morning Tank."
  451. >The turtle gives a smile and hovers away into the living room with his legs dangling in the air while he sputters away.
  452. "Ahhhhhh! Stretching..."
  453. >Arching your back and turning your neck both ways, you expand your wings and give a few hard flaps to make sure they were at one hundred percent.
  454. >They totally were, of course.
  455. >Recovery time: 3 days, 1 full day faster then last time you got hurt.
  456. >Getting faster even in that regard as well.
  457. >Hell yeah...
  458. >Shower time.
  459. >Exiting your room and into the bathroom, you examine yourself in the mirror. Fluffing your mane, you pose in the mirror, admiring your own athletic body.
  460. "Whoa, somepony call the cops! Theirs a beautiful mare in my house!" You give a sly wink to your reflection, "Oh wait, hah! Its just me..."
  461. >You flutter your eyes at your reflection in the mirror and turn towards the shower.
  462. >Turning on the shower and running your hoof through your mane to get any tangles out of it, you see the steam rising from the shower curtain, beckoning you to enter it's refreshing warmth.
  463. >The warm shower water envelopes your body and soaks down your mane, giving a feeling of pure relief and freshness as it washes away all of yesterday's sweat and grime.
  464. >The day prior you had been out and about all day, stretching and working out the wing and core muscles that had been injured, getting them back to tip top condition.
  465. "Yeah thats good..."
  466. >You unfurl your wings and let the muscles and tendons relax in the hot streams of water. The sensation was invigorating, giving you a sense of near weightlessness.
  467. >Cleaned up and smelling like a million bits, you exit the shower.
  468. >Time for breakfast!
  469. >You head straight for the kitchen and reach into your pantry and take out the box of Wheat bits, everypony's favorite cereal!
  470. >Swinging open the fridge door, you grab a bottle of milk and toss it in the air, twirling it around and catching it, you unscrew the top and pour it into the bowl.
  471. >Morning routine: done, 4:15 secs.
  472. >Average time: 5 mins.
  473. >Aw yeah!
  474. >You exit the front door, ready to fly off into Ponyville and say hi to your friends too see what adventures may await.
  475. >But whats this? You've got mail.
  476. "Huh, mail?" you say opening the mailbox just to the left side of the door, "Heh-hey! Headquarters!"
  477. >You open the parchment and unfold the letter, it was a statement from Vortex, containing the details of your very next mission...
  478.  
  479. >>
  480. >It was nightfall, and you had on your fully repaired red cloak and vest, with Ebony and Ivory holstered around your waist.
  481. >Luckily for you, Vortex was nice enough to repair your clothing.
  482. >Normally Rarity would take care of such things, however, bringing this particular uniform to her would only bring about questions. Questions you couldn't answer.
  483. >Oh well, least his stitching skills aren't too horrible, it was actually well done.
  484. "Ugh, why do these dumb cults and monsters always have to be in such boring areas out in the middle of nowhere..." You think to yourself.
  485. >You were on your way to an isolated area towards the San Palamino Desert.
  486. >Supposedly there was a "cult" of some kind looking to dabble in dark magic and bring all kinds of baddies into Equestria.
  487. >They'll learn...they'll learn.
  488. >Your mind wonders in mid-flight, going over the details in your head again from the briefing.
  489.  
  490. >>
  491. >"Okay Rainbow Dash, what we need you to do is scout out this cult group thats been growing in number and organization out in San Palamino." Vortex says looking at a map.
  492. >You and Steelhorn were both sitting at the table area in the center of the main room, listening intently as Vortex went over the specifics of your mission.
  493. >Or at least, as intently as you could without falling asleep...
  494. >"You got that Dash? Just gather info, we don't need a full blown fight to go down."
  495. *Zzzzzz*
  496. >"...Dash?"
  497. *snoring*
  498. >"Rainbow Dash!" Vortex cries out, waking you up.
  499. "Huh!? What? I wasn't sleeping! Just...visualizing the details, thats all!"
  500. >You were flustered, rubbing your eyes and trying to play off not paying attention.
  501. >"Just gather information Dash, scout out what they're doing and see if you can spot out who ever is in charge of this thing." Vortex puts on a more serious expression, "Higher ups in Canterlot seem adamant about finding out who these ponies are..."
  502. >Higher ups in Canterlot always seem concerned...
  503. >One little demon or monster shows up and they all seem to soil themselves...
  504. "Yeah yeah, I got it! I'm so fast they won't even see me coming!" You say with a toothy grin and placing your hoof on your chest.
  505. >"Steel thinks you should wake yourself up..." Steelhorn says reaching to his side, "With the all new, enhanced performance..." He pulls out a can of some kind of energy drink.
  506. >"RED-TAUR!!"
  507. >Steel holds the silver can, decorated with two red Minotaurs headbutting each other, over his head and crack it open, taking a sip.
  508. "Yeah...I don't think I need a Minotaur energy drink there Steel..." You say crossing your hooves.
  509. >"Your loss..." He says taking another drink.
  510. >Vortex grunts and turns his attention to you.
  511. >"Listen Dash, I'm being serious when I say this is important, the invoice from higher emphasized on the gravity of seeking knowledge regarding these ponies and what they may be up to."
  512. >He hands over the map with the big red x marked on the location of your destination.
  513. "So, what exactly are these ponies doing with this cult that has Canterlot so concerned anyway?" You sat looking at the map, "And why does it have to be in the desert!?"
  514. >You drop back into the chair and sink a little bit, the thought of going to a barren desert didn't suit you one bit. But, duty calls...
  515. >"Well supposedly they are attempting to create some kind of link with our world to Tarturas, and unleash all kinds of bad news on Equestria."
  516. >Oh good, organized /and/ crazy...
  517. >You roll up the map and stuff it into your coat pocket.
  518. "Can you tell me anything about their hideout or am I going into this totally blind?"
  519. >Vortex sighs.
  520. >Oh boy, that ain't good...
  521. >"Well, we don't actually have any uhh...information on them, like at all, except for where they are." He says scratching the back of his head and with a sheepish grin.
  522. "Okay so let me get this straight, Canterlot wants me to go into some random place, to get information on some random cult, in some random spot in the desert." You say tapping your chin, "Did I get the rundown just about right?"
  523. >Vortex looked a little caught off-guard by your question.
  524. >"Well...yeah, that basically whats happening..."
  525. "Okay, when I get back, there better be an ice cold cider in the fridge for me!"
  526.  
  527. >>
  528. >Yeah...not the best briefing you could have gotten...
  529. >Your attention is brought back to your flight path as the cold night desert air hits your face, sending a slight chill through your body.
  530. "Ugh, Deserts..."
  531. >Normally this kind of environment wouldn't really be bothering, or at least not if your going to Appleloosa.
  532. >At least there theirs pie and cider...
  533. >Slowing your speed, you take the map from your pocket and examine it.
  534. "Hmmm...this place should be in a cave, located at the base if a mountain in the shape of a...wolf head?"
  535. >You scratch your head and contemplate the peculiarity of the location.
  536. "Just where am I gonna find some thing like tha- OOF!"
  537. >You crash into the side of a large rock, knocking the air out of you for a second and leaving a indention in the rock.
  538. "GRRRR! I Hate Deserts!!" You cry out, kicking the rock.
  539. >The rock cracks and shatters, revealing a mountain face in the shape of a wolf head, only a few hundred meters in front of you.
  540. "Huh...how about that."
  541. >You slowly hover towards the mouth of the peculiarly shaped mountain, flying high so as not to be noticed.
  542. >Nearing the entrance, you spot two ponies standing guard at the entrance to the cave inside the mouth of the head.
  543. >You position yourself high above the head and slowly lower down to the nose, just over the entrance.
  544. >Slowly crawling towards the edge, you peak down to listen on their conversation.
  545. >The two guards carry on in mindless banter, their voices slightly muffled by the distance.
  546. >"Hey." The maroon pony said.
  547. >"Yeah?" The orange pony replied.
  548. >"You ever wonder why were here?"
  549. >"Its one of life's greatest mysteries isn't it? Why /are/ we here? Are we the product of some cosmic coincidence? Or is there really a god, watching over us? Like with a plan for us'n stuff? I don't know, but it keeps me up at night..."
  550. >They both stare at each other for a second, creating an awkward silence.
  551. >"What? I meant why are we out here, in this desert?" The maroon pony asked.
  552. >"Oh, ummmm..."
  553. >"What was all that stuff about god?"
  554. >"HM? Nothing..."
  555. >These "cultists" are idiots...
  556. >The maroon pony goes on, "Seriously though, why are we out here? The portal could've been made in a much nicer place then this..."
  557. >"Well yeah, but then being in a less isolated place would make us easier to spot."
  558. >Portal? Must be what Vortex was referring too...
  559. >Regardless, you need to gain entry into this dreary place.
  560. >Time to sneak around and find an entrance!
  561.  
  562. >>
  563. >Making entry through two holes at the top of the head, you navigate through the narrow passages, eventually the rocky caves turn into metal vents.
  564. >making your way through and looking through the ventilation shafts, you observe the numerous amount of ponies working on some kind of magic spell.
  565. >A dozen unicorns were gathered in a circle and channeling their magic into the center of a large rune engraved circle, which the edges they stood on.
  566. >They hummed an ominous hymn as they channeled, various lights and sparks illuminated the room as more ponies monitored their actions with some kind of measuring equipment.
  567. >What could they be doing?
  568. >Whatever it was, it definitely wasn't good...
  569. >Taking a mental note, you move further into the vents. You start passing by rooms and hallways, until you come to the end of the shafts.
  570. >At the end of the metal tunnel, there was one final grate, peering down into a small room.
  571. >Looking down into it, you see 2 griffons and a unicorn, talking amongst each other.
  572. >It sounded like they were talking about the portal, and how they could open it up.
  573. >"We have enough magic to power the portal when it opens, we just need a key to actually open it up..." The black coated griffon said.
  574. >He stood to the left corner of the room, standing slightly taller then a normal griffon's height, at least from what you could tell from here.
  575. >His white feathered head complimented the white and grey fluff in his chest, complete with a black tip on his beak.
  576. >"If we can just get a strong enough power source..." He looks to the ground and places his talons on the bottom of his beak.
  577. >"Why not just recruit more unicorns? They seem to be the most adept in magic use of all the followers we have..." Said the dark brown coated griffon, sitting in the right top right of the room.
  578. >Just what kind of portal were they trying to open? What could they want to bring and why? There has got to be more reason then just destroying the world...
  579. >"THATS, not a concern..." Said the unicorn, "We have an abundant power source available, we just have to secure it, or more accurately, one of them."
  580. >The unicorn sat at the desk in the center of the room, sitting behind it.
  581. >No doubt he must be the ring leader.
  582. >He had a dark blue coat and a silver mane, his cutie mark was hard to make out, looked like some kind of runic symbol.
  583. >"The elements of harmony should prove sufficient enough to act as a catalyst to open the gate to Tartarus, we just need to find one..." He said.
  584. >"And just how would we go about that? The elements of harmony have been made manifest into six different ponies, and they are all capably strong." The black griffon says.
  585. >"There are ways to subdue even the most powerful of magics..." The unicorn says with a smirk.
  586. >So, they want the elements do they?
  587. >No, damn, way! Not gonna happen!
  588. >Not while you have the power to stop them.
  589. >Their conversation goes on. You observe and listen on key words and phrases that sound important.
  590. >Your no detective, but even you know basic investigating skills. You had to for this job.
  591. "They're out of their minds if they think I'll let them..."
  592. >A small fuzz land on your muzzle.
  593. "Uh...uh-oh..."
  594. >The fuzz tickles your nose and makes your face scrunch.
  595. "G-get off...hahhh.."
  596. >You jerk your head, trying to get it off your face and preventing a sneeze that would give away your position.
  597. "Huh...ho...*sniff*, oh Celestia! ...EHCHOO!"
  598. >The talking ceases immediately and they look around the room.
  599. >"Was that you?" The brown griffon asks
  600. >"Nah, not me..." The black griffon replied.
  601. >The dark blue unicorn looks up to the air vent.
  602. >Uh-oh, do they see you?
  603. >"Seems like we have an uninvited guest..." He says making eye-contact through the grate.
  604.  
  605. >>
  606. >Uh-oh...UH-OH!
  607. >Think of something!
  608. "Uhhh...I'm just...maintenance! Fixing the vents!"
  609. >You attempt to tighten the screws in the ventilation shaft with your hooves.
  610. >Really...thats the best you could think of?
  611. >"Seize her!" The black griffon calls out.
  612. "Oh buck!"
  613. >You attempt to turn yourself around in the vent, failing miserably due to the confined space.
  614. >The griffons attempt to grab at you through the grating, just barely missing while you scoot backwards from the opening.
  615. >"Enough! I'll get her down from there!"
  616. >The sound of magic charging invades your ears while you struggle. This ain't good...
  617. >The unicorn fires off a small blast of magic energy, blowing the vent down from the ceiling, and you along with it.
  618. *Cough* *Cough* "Owe my head...H-HEY! Get your nasty talons off me!"
  619. >The two griffons grab at your forehooves and legs, pinning you to the ground.
  620. >"Not a chance invader!" The brown griffon says, tightening his grip on your hind legs.
  621. >Damn bird brains! They're out of their minds if they think they can hold you.
  622. >"Keep her pinned!" The unicorn says, "I'll use a sleep spell."
  623. >A feint cyan light glows behind you while you keep kicking and flailing to get free.
  624. >"Hold still! Your not going anywhere!"
  625. >The black griffon punches you square in the muzzle.
  626. >A flash of white and a slight ringing deafens your hearing.
  627. >Black fur, white head, white chest patch, and black beak tip.
  628. >You'll remember that...
  629. "YOU SON OF A...S-son of a...suhhh..."
  630. >The feeling of exhaustion takes over your body, replacing the adrenaline from falling so suddenly.
  631. >Keeping your eyes open becomes more and more difficult with each passing second.
  632. "I-I'll g-get you..."
  633. >And before you realize, you begin drifting.
  634. >No longer able to struggle, your body feels numb from the spell.
  635. >You can still hear their voices faintly as your vision fades to black.
  636. >The room begins to spin, the spell was taking full effect, bring you closer to unconsciousness.
  637. >"Take her to the holding cell, I have a feeling we'll be needing leverage in the near future." The unicorn said.
  638. >"You got it, Flash."
  639. >Flash, so thats his name. Will have to remember that too...
  640. >The rooms goes black and your hearing fades out entirely.
  641.  
  642. >>
  643. "Unghh...Wha? Where Am I..."
  644. >You awaken in a daze, head swaying from side to side while you begin to get feeling in your body again.
  645. >The numbness from the spell starts to fade, slowly giving your body full feeling again. You shake your head to try and regain your vision, the spell must still be slightly in effect, as your sight is still a little blurry.
  646. "Gah! Damn sleep spells..."
  647. >You shake your head spasticly, attempting to get over the spell's lingering effect quicker then they would normally.
  648. >Vision returning, you trying to move, only to find your forehooves chained to the wall in a prison cell.
  649. >The chains clank and cling as you pull and twist against their grip.
  650. "HMPH! C'mon! Stupid chains aren't gonna hold me!!"
  651. >Propping you hind legs against the wall and flapping your wings frantically, you pull as hard as you can in an effort to break the hooks connected to the stone wall where your shackles were bolted in.
  652. "HNGGG-AHH! Damnit!"
  653. >You hind legs buckle under the pressure, and give out. Causing you to collapse.
  654. >A small plume of dust permeates the air around where you fell, making it hard to breath briefly.
  655. *Cough* "This sucks..."
  656. >Looking in front of you through iron bars, you could see a flickering torch light and a small desk sitting directly beneath it.
  657. >And on the desk, were Ebony and Ivory.
  658. >If only you could shoot your way out of here...
  659. >A brief moment goes by, and you begin hearing hoofsteps coming from down the hall on the left side of the room.
  660. >Theirs the way out of the dungeon at least.
  661. >"Well well, looks whose awake!" Flash says, turning the corner of the room connected to the hall, revealing himself.
  662. >"I was wondering how effective my spell would be, not everyday I get to use one." He says stopping at the desk, "And these /things/ here are your...tools of some kind I imagine?"
  663. >Flash picks up Ebony and Ivory and looks them over, examining their features and clanking them together, making an audible clink each time.
  664. "Hey! Those are mine!" You scream in anger.
  665. >"You not in any position to be claiming anything!" He says with a smirk, "Now I suggest you comply...Rainbow Dash."
  666. >Flash sets both of your weapons back down on the desk, but wait...
  667. >He knows your name.
  668. >Shit.
  669. "If you know who I am, then you must know what I'm capable of!"
  670. >Maybe you could intimidate him into letting you go?
  671. >"Indeed, thats why I'm not taking any chances with you. Your an element of harmony, and we just so happen to be in need of such a thing!"
  672. "To open your stupid portal right?!" You say still fighting your restraints.
  673. >"Precisely. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Flash Spark, and I am the future /king/ of this world!"
  674. >Flash stomps his hoof into the ground, emphasizing the "king" part.
  675. "King huh? You don't look like kingly material, hay, you hardly look like a mage!"
  676. >May as well screw with him and get a rouse out of him, maybe he'll unintentionally spill his guts and tell you their plans.
  677. >Still, how exactly did he know who you were? Your reputation was vast but, you had no idea it spread beyond Ponyville, Canterlot, or even the Crystal Empire.
  678. >"Be silent! You will know your place soon!" He says getting frustrated.
  679. "Ooooo I'm shaking in my little coat, bad Rainbow..."
  680. >You roll your eyes to taunt him even more.
  681. >"Shut-up you da-" *ahem* "I won't lose my composure over your silly banter."
  682. >Oh well, worth a try.
  683. >"For soon, we will bring about the end of the world and I will secure my place as ruler of Equestria," His voice raises in intensity, "and not you, nor anypony else will stop me!"
  684. >What a drama queen...
  685. >Flash turns and begins to walk away before stopping to tell you one last thing.
  686. >"We will drain you of that element, Rainbow, and when we do..."
  687. >A big smug smirk covers his face.
  688. >Overconfident piece of...
  689. >"We will open the portal and you will see the fruit of our work."
  690. >He begins walking away.
  691. "Hey! Wait!" You cry out, "How did you know who I was?"
  692. >He stops himself and turn his head, "I uhh, happen to be a fan..." He says looking at the ground.
  693. >And with that he turns down the hall and leaves, his hoofsteps on the stone floor echo through hall, fading away into the distance.
  694. >Great, why do you seem to attract crazy ponies? First Zephyr, that loser, now this dude...
  695.  
  696. >>
  697. >A little while later, you hear more hoofsteps coming from down the hall.
  698. >A single pony enters the area in front of your cell where the desk stood. He sits in the chair under the torch, kicking up his legs and leaning back against the desk.
  699. >He takes out a magazine and begins to casually flip through it, licking his hoof every few pages to do so.
  700. "Hey!" You shout, getting his attention.
  701. >"What do you want, prisoner?"
  702. >The grey coated, blue maned earth pony approaches the bars to your cell.
  703. >On his waist, you notice a jingling, it was a key ring, connected to the belt around his waist.
  704. >whether it had the keys to your restrains you could not tell, but you knew it was your best bet to get out of here.
  705. "I want something to drink."
  706. >"Too bad, I was instructed to watch you, not be your nanny."
  707. "Well what will you do when I collapse from dehydration! We're in the desert y'know!" You say turning your head.
  708. >"Go ahead and get angry..." He looks back to your pistols, "heh, not so tough without those toys are ya?"
  709. >This guy...
  710. "Hey punk, I don't need any weapons to knock you out." You say raising a brow.
  711. >"Yeah yeah..."
  712. >You move slightly, making it look like your about to get up and punch him square in his stupid muzzle.
  713. >"Nyahh! Not in the face!" He says backing off and covering his nose.
  714. >Yup, thought so, hes a wuss.
  715. >Regardless, he was your ticket out. Gotta think of a way to get those keys...
  716. >He returns to his desk, now looking a little worried, and goes back to flipping through his magazine.
  717. *sigh* "I'm bucked..." You think to yourself.
  718. >You go over different ways of getting out of this situation.
  719. >Maybe you could get a jumping start and fly with enough force to break the chains?
  720. >Looking to the ceiling, you see only a few feet of space above you, wouldn't be a good feeling banging your head against the brick roof...
  721. >Yeah, not enough space.
  722. >Buck! What to do, what to do?? Hmmmm.
  723. "That might work..." You think to yourself with a grin growing on your face.
  724. >You peek out to see the grey pony guard still sitting at the desk. A small bit of drool dripped from his mouth, he was falling asleep.
  725. >Yeah...it'll work.
  726. >He obviously doesn't seem like the type to be very smart.
  727. >Or to have even been with a mare before. May not be the most ethical thing to do but, you were low on options.
  728. "Hey, guard." You say in a soft voice.
  729. >"What now?"
  730. >He props himself up in his chair, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
  731. "Oh nothing, was just wondering... You ever...been with a mare for a night before?"
  732. >You give him a seductive look, giving the signal that you would as if you were with a stallion of your choosing.
  733. >"I...s-sure I have! Now be q-quiet!"
  734. >His face turns a slight shade of red and he tries hiding back behind his magazine.
  735. >Your charm was working, just need him to open up the cell and you could knock this idiot out...
  736. "Because, its been so long since I've felt the /touch/, of a stallion..." You give him a wink, "I just work so often. A mare has her needs y'know. I just feel so.../pent/ up."
  737. >"Mmm...mhm!" He says agreeing nervously, face now a dark shade of crimson.
  738. "Oooooh, if only I could feel the warmth of a stallions embrace."
  739. >You lick your lips and flick your tail at him.
  740. >"Yeah...n-needs..." He says beginning to breath noticeably harder.
  741. "I've been looking for a real rush...I've never done it chained up before." You moan, making his leg twitch under the desk, "I think its...kinky, don't you?"
  742. >Hes practically panting at this point, sweat runs down his face and off muzzle as he tries to resist his baser instincts.
  743. "Mmmmm...if only there was a stallion here who could make me feel the sweet ecstasy of release."
  744. >Spreading your hind legs and arching your back forward, revealing more then you'd like to, he stares dead at you.
  745. >His eye may as well been glued to your body.
  746. >"I-I'm a stallion... *gulp* I..."
  747. "Its driving me crazy." You say biting your lower lip, "Please, I need you..."
  748. >You let out a heavy breath, and lick your lips again, making gestures for him to open the cell and claim his prize.
  749. >"I-I c-can help!" He says grabbing his keys and approaching the cell.
  750. "Yes, thats it, come and take it..." You coo at him, covering part of your face with the orange and yellow half of your mane, giving him another seductive look.
  751. >The cage unlocks and he gets in close, moving to undo your coat and vest.
  752. "Thats it, yeah...slowly." You whisper to him.
  753. >"I can't believe this is happening!" He says undoing the buckles on your vest.
  754. "I can't believe it worked!"
  755. >You put on a confident smile and raise your hind leg.
  756. >"Believe what wor- *thunk* AHH!"
  757. >Kicking him in the back of the head, he falls straight down to the ground, out cold.
  758. "Hah! Like you would ever have a chance!"
  759. >You reach down to the keys on his waist with your hind leg and bring it up to your mouth, fiddling with the key with your tongue to position them to unlock the chains.
  760. >Reaching out with your neck, you manage to get the first lock.
  761. *Click* "Yeah! Thats one..."
  762. >You grab the keys from your mouth and into your newly freed hoof, unlocking the second binding.
  763. *Click* "YES! Finally!"
  764. >Bringing your forehooves to your chest, you rub them down and shake out the numbness from them being elevated for so long.
  765. "Time to get out of here..."
  766.  
  767.  
  768. >>
  769. >Shaking out the feeling of pins and needles in your forehooves from the numbness fading, you brush yourself off and make for the table where your weapons lie.
  770. "Meh, wouldn't have been anything that great anyway..." You say looking down at the mid section of the guard.
  771. "Yes! Welcome back you two!"
  772. >Picking up your favorite fancy named weapons, you examine them for any damages or scratches.
  773. "I swear to Celestia if there are any scratches..." You look closer at them, their metallic make-up shining under the torch light, "Good, would owe that crazy unicorn /another/ lesson if there were any..."
  774. >You stow away Ebony and Ivory in their respective holsters, and begin walking towards the hall where you assumed was the exit.
  775. >Moving on down, the hallways twist and turn, seemingly never ending.
  776. >Your hooves clop on the hard stone ground, echoing down the dimly lit passageways.
  777. >Just how big is this underground hideout anyway?
  778. >Turning a corner, you spot a patrol of two ponies, carrying on with their conversation as you duck for cover behind a wooden crate labeled "Red-Taur"
  779. >Guess Steel's Minotaur energy drink of choice is more popular then you thought?
  780. "Buck'n A! Did they see me!?" You think, ducking down for cover.
  781. >Normally, knocking them out would be a sinch, but being caught isn't at the top of your priority list here.
  782. >Their hoofsteps approach, and you begin to make out clearly what they were saying.
  783. >"So anyway, I told him, the reason why I'm so fat, is because your mom keeps making me sandwiches!" Said the tan pegasus.
  784. >"Oh Celestia, your so funny, hang on I gotta take a leak..." Replies the brown earth pony.
  785. >Wait, what?
  786. >The guard walks over directly next to where you were hiding, and positions himself to urinate.
  787. >Oh Celestia, NOO!
  788. >"Ahhh, thats better..." He says as the sound of puddles forming echos down the hall.
  789. >You cringe and hold your breathe while he does his business, trying to to puke while doing so.
  790. >"Hey, hurry the hell up!" The other guard yells from down the hall.
  791. >"Would you shut-up?" He turns his body to reply, bringing the stream closer, "Your the one who got me to drink like a gallon of cranberry juice!"
  792. "Gross gross gross gross GROSS!" You think in your mind.
  793. >The stream stops only inches from you.
  794. >Thank Celestia...wait...
  795. "OH BUCK NO!"
  796. >You fly out from behind the crate, having felt a tiny droplet land on your coat.
  797. >"What the hell..."
  798. "TAKE THIS!"
  799. >Rearing back, you deliver a right hook with enough smack behind it to may as well be used against a Manticore.
  800. >"Holy shi-OOMPH"
  801. >His body flies against the wall and falls directly to the floor, leaving an imprint of himself in the wall, and a stream of urine behind him.
  802. "BLEHG! Did I get any on me?!" You say looking over your coat, trying to find any wet spots.
  803. >"Whoa...you like knocked him out'n stuff..." The Pegasus guard says.
  804. >You give him a hard glare, and get ready for another knock out punch.
  805. "Your getting one too ugly!"
  806. >"Uh, uh quick! Somepony, sound the alarm! The prisoner, SHES ESCA-BLEH"
  807. >A stream of blood flies through the air as your hoof makes contact with the guard's nose, knocking him out cold along with his partner.
  808. >Both guards knocked out, you drag their unconscious bodies around the corner to a dead end and hide them behind the crate where they won't be spotted.
  809. "Yuck! So gross..." You say continuing down the hall.
  810. >Of all the things that could happen...
  811.  
  812. >>
  813. >A while longer goes by of trying to navigate through the passageways.
  814. >Apparently, you were much deeper then you initially thought.
  815. "Muhgggg...how much longer can this stupid thing go!" You say talking to yourself, "I mean honestly! Who the hay makes tunnels this deep!?"
  816. >Continuing talking to yourself, you fail to notice yourself making entry back into the main room where you saw the unicorns assembled around that giant runic circle when you first arrived.
  817. "This is why I hate the desert! It always finds a way to buck...me.....oh."
  818. >The whole room falls silent as all eyes fall on you, various ponies around the room working on different equipment and machines all staring you down.
  819. >Looking up, you see that everypony along the rafters had also taken notice to your untimely arrival.
  820. >The room was larger then you had initially thought, the equipment pieces and machines they were using were big and whirred with magic.
  821. >Runes and glowing pieces of gems and stone hovered along the desks scattered about in an un-organized fashion.
  822. >In the middle of the room, there it was. The circle which all those unicorns were gathered around.
  823. >It glowed, radiating a dark magic.
  824. >Seems they've been working at this for awhile...
  825. "Well? You gonna keep gawking or take a picture!?" You say with a huff and stomping your hoof into the floor.
  826. >"Rainbow Dash!? How did you escape!?" A familiar voice calls out.
  827. >Flash Spark makes his way to the front of the crowd now gathered around you, looking quite annoyed.
  828. >"I left you in chains! How'd you get out!?"
  829. "Lets just say the guard you left to watch me had his mind on...other things." You say raising a brow.
  830. >"Hmph, then we'll just have to keep you from getting out this time. SEIZE HER!"
  831. >Flash points a hoof forward, signaling the entire room to bum rush you like a bunch of drunk idiots rushing the stage at a concert.
  832. "YEAH RIGHT!"
  833. >Taking flight and looking for a way out, you notice another tunnel at the opposite end of the room.
  834. >Judging by where you came in through the vents and this place's layout, it was no doubt the way to the main entrance.
  835. >You immediately blast off towards it, avoiding the cultists.
  836. >"Don't let her get away!" Flash cries out.
  837. >The whole room erupts into a frenzy, everpony there trying to catch you, leaping and flailing about trying to get hold of any part they can grab.
  838. >Too bad for them, your much too fast for that.
  839. >Zig zagging through the barrage of bodies and over the rune engraved circle, you make it into the tunnel leading to the mouth of the mountain face.
  840. >"Elias, Spiro, don't let her leave!" Flash calls out to his griffons.
  841. >"We'll get her back, don't worry about it!" Say the two griffons, watching and taking flight from the rafters above.
  842. "Hah! Too slow! They're out of luck if they think they can catch up!"
  843. >You turn your head back, watching them shrink into the distance.
  844. >A light a the end of the tunnel appears ahead of you, escape is almost in your grasp!
  845. >"Close the front gate!" A voice cries out from behind.
  846. >Its those two griffons from before...
  847. >Through the daylight, you see the silhouette of a pony pulling a lever to operate the gates.
  848. >the Jaws of the maw close down, sealing off the exit and the light from outside.
  849. >The only source of light now being the flickering torch lights hung along the side of the tunnel network.
  850. "WHA-HOLY CRAP!"
  851. >You land, skidding in the dirt and stopping just inches away from the now sealed off entrance, breathing a sigh of relief.
  852. "If you think this can hold me..." You say drawing your weapons.
  853. >"Hold it right there!" The same voice calls out, sounding closer now.
  854. >Persistent, aren't they...
  855. >The duo lands a few meters away from you, taking an aggressive stance as they do so.
  856. >"Your out of your little pony mind if you think we'll let you leave so easily..." Says the brown coated griffon, slowly walking closer and cracking his knuckles.
  857. >Spiro puts up his wing, stopping his partner in his tracks.
  858. >"Easy there Elias, Flash told us how capable of a fighter she could be..." he puts his wing back down, "we just have to keep her here until all the other ponies get here."
  859. >"Yeah I read you loud and clear." Elias replies.
  860. "So, you want a piece of me huh?" You mash your hooves together, crack your neck, and get ready for a fight.
  861. >You /could/ just shoot them, but thats not as fun, and you don't want to risk killing them, just hurt them.
  862. "Come and get it feather heads!"
  863. >"Lets go!"
  864. >Elias leaps in first, baring his claws. He swipes at your mid section, just barely missing by an inch.
  865. >"Damnit!"
  866. >Elias catches himself on the ground with his his claw and flips to rebound back at you, going for another swipe.
  867. "No you don't!"
  868. >Rearing up your hind legs, you give him a buck to the face, sending him flying back against the wall.
  869. >"Damnit Elias I told you!" Spiro yells out at his partner eating the wall.
  870. >"So hows about helping me then you jerk!"
  871. "You two need counseling..."
  872. >"Shut-up! I'm not about to lose a fight to a friggin /pony/!"
  873. >Elias gets back to his paws and brushes himself off, readying himself to make another move.
  874. "C'mon." You say waving your hooves, taunting the griffon.
  875. >The angrier he gets, the more sloppier he'll get.
  876. >"I'll take you on!" Spiro says taking charge,
  877. >He leaps forward, flapping his wings o give more momentum and swiping with both his claws.
  878. "Too slow-AHH!"
  879. >The claw makes contact, only slightly though. You could feel a tinge of a burning feeling at the point where his claw met with your face.
  880. >He was the one from before, the one who punched you before you got put under that sleep spell.
  881. >Gonna have to get even with him...
  882. >Spiro turns around to face you, giving orders to his counterpart.
  883. >"Elias, get behind, I got her front, and don't let yourself get caught like that again!"
  884. >"Yeah yeah, just shut-up and lets kick her flank already!"
  885. >The brown griffon re-positions himself behind you, wiping the blood from his beak where you bucked him.
  886. >You take in the surroundings, the area was small, yet larger enough for them to surround you, gonna have to stay close to the wall to prevent being caught from behind.
  887. >"NOW!"
  888. >They charge you from both sides, kicking up dust and rocks with their claws.
  889. "Quick decision!"
  890. >You leap forward, rolling towards the wall.
  891. >"Whoa, WAI-*Clunk*"
  892. >They both rammed into each other head first, falling beak first into the ground.
  893. "Talk about bumping heads..."
  894. >Your attention is drawn away from the two griffons and to the voices echoing up the cave.
  895. >"There, up ahead! Quickly!"
  896. "Uh-oh, time to go!" You run over to the black griffon and grab him by his chest fur, "Tell them to open the gates!" You yell pointing at the stone teeth.
  897. >"Wha-what? G-gates? My head..." He says rubbing his temples.
  898. "Snap out of it!" You smack him with your hoof from side-to-side, "Tell them to open up or I'll give you a /real/ head-ache!"
  899. >"Ah! O-okay! O-open the gates!"
  900. >The great stone jaws open up, filling the tunnel with daylight and fresh air.
  901. "Thanks. Oh, and by the way..."
  902. >You pull his ear, and give him more smacks across the face.
  903. >"Owe!" *smack* "OWE!" *smack* "Stop it!"
  904. "Thats for punching me in the face!! Didn't anypony ever teach you not to hit a girl!?" You say dropping him to the ground.
  905. >"N-no! My parents never taught me anything beyond making extra bits!" He says hiding behind his claws and sobbing.
  906. >Whatever...
  907. >You roll your eyes and break for the exit, taking flight with your rainbow trailing behind you.
  908.  
  909. >>
  910. "Hey...isn't that the prisoner?" You said still standing your post.
  911. >"Uh, yeah it is. Cool! ...Wait, how did she escape?" Your maroon partner replies.
  912. "I don't know, but I have a feeling we'll get like, a million new classes on prisoner retention...or some crap."
  913. "Although, in all fairness; it was kinda Spiro that told us to open the gates..." You say looking back at the unconscious griffons.
  914. >"Yeah, we can't get in that much trouble, can we?"
  915. "Well if we do," You say tapping your chin, "I'm tell Flash it was your fault."
  916. >"Shut your orange flank up!"
  917. "Wait, why is she stopping? And why does it look like she facing us now..."
  918. >You both observe the rainbow pony pulling something from her back, they were shiny and she pointed them at you both.
  919. >"You two idiots should be running now!!" Her voice echos in the distance.
  920. "Hey." You say to your fellow guard.
  921. >"Yeah?" He replies.
  922. "We should probably run..."
  923. >"Hmmm...I think your right."
  924. >You both dart off back into the cave, grabbing the griffons while you retreat.
  925.  
  926. >>
  927. >Stopping a little ways in front of the mouth of the wolf head, you draw Ebony and Ivory and take aim.
  928. "Hah, it'll be the next Winter Wrap-up by the time they get out!"
  929. >Pulling the triggers of the handles that fit so smoothly in your hooves, you fire off shot after shot, letting loose a barrage of colors and sparks.
  930. >They make impact against the rocky formation that made up the wolf head shaped entrance.
  931. >After a few well aimed shots, the head collapses, barring off the exit.
  932. "Think that look suits them better." You say holstering your weapons.
  933. >You take a moment and soak in the fresh, warm air. It felt so revitalizing, the breeze running through your mane and fur.
  934. "Ahhh...the sun feels so...wait. THE SUN!? I've been out all night! I need to get back fast!"
  935. >With that, you blast off into the air, jetting back to HQ.
  936.  
  937.  
  938. >>
  939. >"What the hell do you mean you just 'escaped with no problem'!?" Vortex asks, waving his hooves, "They didn't use any of their dark magic on you!?"
  940. >His voice echos through the hallowed out ground where HQ hides, sounding surprised and pretty annoyed at your description of what happened.
  941. >Just a /little/ annoyed...
  942. >"And what the hell kind of 'runic circle' are you talking about?! Was it a portal? Was it some kind of summoning spell? Was it a-"
  943. "It was a portal okay?? I think... Listen! I need to get back to Ponyville fast! I still..."
  944. >"No, not yet your not!" Vortex takes a breath and calms himself down, "Dash, did you ever stop and think why you were able to get out so easily? Why they left only one guard to watch you?"
  945. >Wait a minute...
  946. "I..."
  947. >"Or why they left your weapons out for you to take back so easily after you escaped that cell?" Vortex raises his voice, "Or why the hell they let just you fly on by their main room /after/ you had already seen what they were working on??"
  948. "What are you saying?" You ask in a worried voice.
  949. >"I'm saying they probably let you get away on purpose, to follow you!"
  950. >No way! they couldn't have, could they?
  951. >Nah...Vortex is just worrying too much. Has he met you? Your you!
  952. "Vortex come off it, I'm the fastest in Equestria, remember? Your losing it if you think they could have followed me."
  953. >He gives you a dead stare, clearly that didn't put him at ease.
  954. >"Dash, your not listening. We have to take into consideration that they could be-"
  955. "No way!" You cut him off, "Theres no way they could have kept up! I was booking it here!"
  956. >"Do you really believe your own hype that much?" Steelhorn says in a monotone voice, sitting across the table.
  957. >He wasn't buying it either...
  958. "I AM THE HYPE!" You scream out. Now your the one who was angry.
  959. >You take a minute to regain your composure, taking a deep breath.
  960. "I-I'm sorry guys, I just..." You fall back to your haunches, "I guess I just wasn't thinking..."
  961. >Well this is certainly a wake-up call.
  962. >You /can/ get carried away, after all.
  963. >"Well, we still don't know for sure. But I think it'd be best if you lay low for awhile. Theres no telling what may be in store next."
  964. >"It just doesn't make sense..." Steelhorn says scratching his face, "If higher was so concerned with this cult, then no way that even Rainbow could get away so easily."
  965. >Your sight falls to the ground after hearing that, maybe you really did mess up.
  966. >But wait, you collapsed the tunnel!
  967. >If they wanted to follow you, they can't have! Not after doing that...
  968. >You rears perk up at the sudden realization.
  969. "Wait guys!" You say with a newfound sense of optimism, "I said I collapsed the entrance to their cave, remember? If they /were/ gonna follow me, theres no way they could now! R-right??"
  970. >Vortex and Steel both look at each other worryingly for a second, then back to you.
  971. >They honestly don't believe you were competent in this...
  972. >"Dash, were not saying that its a sure-thing that they followed, or if even that higher wasn't over reacting to this cult. Were just being realistic here."
  973. >They've always had the utmost confidence in you before, just whats the problem? Why is this such a big deal?
  974. >You've messed up in the past, sure, but they're making it out like you just handed out maps leading to your hideout; among other important locations, to every bad guy in Equestria.
  975. >Either way, its well after noon now and the last pony you talked to before leaving Ponyville last night was AJ.
  976. >No doubt they're probably wondering where you are.
  977. >"Dash, before we conclude this debrief, was their anything in particular you remember them talking about? Anything big? A date, anything?" Vortex asks.
  978. "Well, other then what I said about them wanting to open a portal, nothing really." You scratch your head, recalling the recent events, "Wait! The Elements Of Harmony! They needed an Element of Harmony to power up that circle thing to open up a portal to Tartarus!!"
  979. >Vortex's eyes go wide when you tell him this, anything concerning the most powerful force in the world mixing up with dark magic was top priority.
  980. >"Are you positive? They talked about the Elements?" He asked inquisitively.
  981. "Y-yeah, they said they needed one of them to power the portal they were making."
  982. >"Steel thinks Rainbow needs to hideout in Ponyville for awhile..." Steelhorn says contemplating the situation.
  983. "What? No I don't I'll be fi-"
  984. >"Hes exactly right. Dash, I want you to return home and try and lay low for a bit." Vortex proceeds to the counter at the end of the room and grabs a quill and parchment.
  985. >"I'm going to send word of this development to Canterlot, our next move will be entirely up to them."
  986. >You've got to be joking...
  987. >Just whats the big fuss about? You've been through plenty and came out alright!
  988. "But I-" You pause, as they both give an angry look, "Ugh, fine..."
  989. >Whatever, its only a matter of time before they realize they need you again.
  990. >Sitting, thinking, you can't help but feel a sinking in your chest as you listen to the quill scratching against the paper.
  991. >You huff, feeling like a filly who did something really bad and didn't even know it until an adult told them what they did.
  992. >Vortex finishes writing his letter, stowing it away in a saddlebag, which he then puts on his flank.
  993. >"I'm going to deliver this personally to Canterlot. Dash remember what we said, just take it easy for a few days. You already know how we'll contact you if anything new arises."
  994. "Yeah, okay."
  995. >You take off your red coat and holsters, folding them up and placing them in your own saddlebags along with Ebony and Ivory.
  996. "Guess I'll go then..."
  997. >You grab your things and head for the door until feeling a big hand on your shoulder.
  998. >"Its okay Dash, we all screw up." Steel says with confidence, "And you know how Vortex can get with this kind of stuff. I'm sure everything will turn out alright."
  999. "Thanks, Steel. I'm gonna go home now."
  1000. >With that, you make for the door and head home.
  1001. >Theres a lot to think about over the next couple of days.
  1002.  
  1003. >>
  1004. >The whole rest of the day dragged on back in Ponyville, all that occupied your mind was the recent failure of yours.
  1005. >You lay atop a cloud, a grey cloud, a definitive signal of a pegasus being in a bad mood.
  1006. >Looking over the town, you see everypony having a great time going about their day, carrying on with their conversations about flowers, cake, fruits, whatever.
  1007. >You had already had to explain to Mayor Mare why you were so late for your duties as weather captain.
  1008. >Apperently, "sleeping in" wasn't the best excuse.
  1009. >She wasn't too happy...
  1010. >Still though, you got the job done fast as always, leaving the rest of the afternoon to think about the night prior.
  1011. *sigh* "Maybe they did let me go easily. Maybe they really did follow me, m-maybe they...ugh"
  1012. >The cloud turned just a little darker under you as you talk to yourself.
  1013. "I don't know...maybe I really should just take it easy and think of this as a vacation?"
  1014. >You turn to lay on your back, the cloud felt cooshy and cozy against your joints, giving relief and a cool feeling from the breeze flowing through the pillowy make-up.
  1015. >Certainly did wonders for the crick in your neck. Maybe you pulled something?
  1016. >Who cares, nothing a good shower can't fix.
  1017. "Ahh, I'm probably just thinking too much on this." You say scratching you head, "I'm gonna get some sleep..."
  1018. >"Hey Dash!" A voice calls out.
  1019. >At least you /would/ get some sleep if not for...
  1020. >"Rainbow Dash! Your not asleep are you?"
  1021. >Really?!
  1022. "Ughhh, what do you want!?" You call out, rolling over to your side, "Oh! Hey squirt!"
  1023. >It was Scootaloo, standing directly below you wearing her helmet, standing on her scooter. And surprisingly enough, seeing her actually somewhat cured your bad mood.
  1024. >"I was just uhh wondering, do you want to get food with me? And maybe later you can teach me some cool tips on how to fly?"
  1025. >This was exactly what you needed...to be needed.
  1026. >And your favorite little filly friend was the perfect cure for your bad mood.
  1027. >Oddly enough, she always seems to come to you for advice when her friends can't help her.
  1028. >Never seen her with her parents...
  1029. >You had asked about it once, her expression only turned to one of sorrow when you did, and you never thought to bring it up again.
  1030. >Your practically her idol, and shes basically family, and you would never want to do anything that could bring her harm of any kind.
  1031. "Sure thing Scoots," You say standing up, the cloud beneath you turning back to a fluffy white as you do so, "lets go get some haybugers and have a good'ol time!"
  1032. >Her face lights up, like that was the best thing she could have heard.
  1033. >"YAY!! A day with Dash!" She says hoof bumping.
  1034. "Yep, a day with me. I know its awesome isn't it?" You say hovering down and crossing your hooves.
  1035. >Landing down next to Scootaloo, she embraces you for a hug, only managing to get around your forhooves.
  1036. >"Thank you for wanting to hang out with me today!"
  1037. "Heh heh, easy there squirt, don't get over excited." You say pulling her off.
  1038. >A day with you favorite squirt was more like it, thats whats really awesome.
  1039. "Okay squirt, you ready for today's lesson?" You ask, getting her amped up.
  1040. >"Yeah! I can't wait! Show me how to fly!" She replies excitedly.
  1041. >The rest of the day flies by, spending it grabbing hayburgers and teaching Scootaloo some tips on flight.
  1042.  
  1043. >>
  1044. >The sun was setting, giving an orange radiant glow to the horizon and to the open field where the two of you sit.
  1045. >Scootaloo was covered in grass stains and her mane was ruffled from the attempts to take flight and keep up with you in the air.
  1046. >You sat next to each other, holding her in your wing on your side, admiring Celestia's work.
  1047. >"Th-thanks for playing with me and teaching me stuff Rainbow," She lets out a yawn, exhausted from the day's lesson, "Thank you..."
  1048. >She leans in and nuzzles her head to your side.
  1049. >Every feeling of doubt seemed to wash away in an uplifting wave of relief, being so admired had always been what you wanted, but she was more then just another fan.
  1050. >She was family, your family.
  1051. >And you were hers, maybe her only...
  1052. "Don't even worry about it squirt, its no pro-"
  1053. >She lets out a snort, interrupting you mid-sentence.
  1054. >Looking down to your side where she rested, you see that had fallen asleep, tucked under your wing.
  1055. "I should be the one thanking you, kid." You bring her in, embracing her with both wings and forhooves.
  1056. >She returns the hug. A smile appears on her face while she does so.
  1057. >"Mm, I l-love..." *zzzz*
  1058. "Your the one that gives me reason sometimes..."
  1059. >You wipe your cheek, getting a tear from the corner of your eye.
  1060. "Heh, stupid dust, heheh..." You say softly.
  1061. >The sun sets, giving off a fading twilight in the horizon.
  1062. >A cool breeze blows through the open field where you both sat, giving a slight chill. Signifying the coming night.
  1063. "Guess I should get you home." You say picking her up in your forehooves and hovering above ground, being cautious so as not to wake her up.
  1064.  
  1065. >>
  1066. "That her?" Asked Spiro
  1067. >"Yup." Replied Elias
  1068. >The two of you sat hiding in the treeline off in the distance, closely observing Rainbow Dash and her...friend.
  1069. "We should report this back to Flash."
  1070. >"Yeah, lets go."
  1071. "Shes got a little filly friend huh? Good to know..."
  1072.  
  1073.  
  1074. >>
  1075. >The following day you awaken bright and early to make up for yesterday's tardiness.
  1076. >Flashbacks from yesterday play in your head as you go through your morning routine.
  1077. >Scootaloo really does see you as family, that much is obvious.
  1078. >Should probably spend more time with her...
  1079. >Oh well, thoughts for later. Right now, you've got a job to maintain.
  1080. *Yawn* "Time to get today's work done and over with..."
  1081. >Exiting the front door, your grogginess causes you stumble just a bit on the step between the door and balcony.
  1082. "Ah! Dang it!" *Yawn* "Stupid..."
  1083. >You take an extra moment to rub out the sleepiness from your eyes, trying to wake yourself up and get out of this early morning funk.
  1084. >The morning tasks fly by. Despite being exhausted, re-arranging the clouds to a partly cloudy formation still only took about a minute to complete.
  1085. >But there was only one problem.
  1086. >Its still early.
  1087. >/Too/ early.
  1088. >Now what? The sun has yet to fully arise and your just about out of work to do.
  1089. >Nap time!
  1090. >Pushing together of a few of the fluffier clouds, you make a nice bed and get comfortable, taking in the sight of the orange and yellow hue of the sky.
  1091. >Taking a deep breath, you can't help but admire the sun's beauty coupled with the arrangement of the clouds you had made.
  1092. >The sun shafts through the clouds and radiant glow of warm colors gave off a relaxing vibe, adding on to your sleepiness.
  1093. "I really should just enjoy this." You think to yourself. "I mean, Vortex already must've gotten word to Canterlot by now and they're probably just debating on what to do next."
  1094. >You stretch and yawn, re-adjusting yourself in the cloud's fluff, kicking up little poofs here and there.
  1095. "Not to mention, if they had followed me, I think I'd know by now. They would've made a move!"
  1096. >Stretching one last time and nuzzling into the cloud's warmth from the sun, you drift away into slumber.
  1097. >Hours later, you awaken to find its the middle of the afternoon. The sun's warmth covered your fur coat, making it warm to the touch.
  1098. >The cloud had absorbed so much warmth that it felt as if you were laying in one big blanket.
  1099. >The sound of the hustle and bustle of the busy town streets beneath you invade you ears as you wake yourself up.
  1100. *Yawn* "Awww that was great!" You say stretching your legs, "I'm gonna go grab a bight to eat then-"
  1101. >"Hi Dashie!!" Pinkie calls out.
  1102. "Oh, hey Pinkie! Whats up?"
  1103. >Swooping to the ground, you meet Pinkie.
  1104. >"Oh nothing, I just wanted to see if you would want to try to break the hoofball bounce record again!"
  1105. >You mash your hooves together, nothing like a good challenge to start the day!
  1106. "YEAH! I'm so down!"
  1107.  
  1108. >>
  1109. >Hours and many failed attempts later, you are but a few kicks away from the world record...
  1110. >"96, 97, 98, 99..."
  1111. >Pinkie's voices raises in excitement with each number going up, you were very close.
  1112. "Just..*bounce* A few more...*bounce* To go!"
  1113. >Your adrenaline starts to flow.
  1114. >Every bounce was one step closer to another title to hold!
  1115. "C'mon..." *bounce* "Almost..." *bounce*
  1116. >"Your so close!!" Pinkie cries out in excitement.
  1117. >Her sudden outburst causes you to lose focus only for a second and bounce the ball away from the straight up and down pattern you had going.
  1118. "Ahhh! No!!"
  1119. >The ball flies up and to the left, forcing you to dive for it.
  1120. "I'll get you!"
  1121. >You skid along the ground, directly beneath the ball.
  1122. >But not /directly/ beneath it, because its a few inches too far!
  1123. "Nononononono!!"
  1124. >It bounces directly in front of your face, signifying your failure.
  1125. "AWWW! I was so close this time!!" You shout in frustration.
  1126. >"Its okay Rainbow! We can try again later!" Pinkie says bouncing in place.
  1127. >Guess shes right. Actually kind of being counter-productive at this point anyway.
  1128. >Maybe a well deserved break for drinks and hydration is in order!
  1129. "Yeah, guess your right. We'll just have to try again later today."
  1130. >You pick up the ball in your wing and begin heading home.
  1131. "Meet me at my place in like an hour, I'm gonna get something to drink."
  1132. >"Kay! See you later Dashie!"
  1133. >Pinkie bounces away in her typical joyful manner, leaving you to catch your breath and huff in annoyance.
  1134. "I was so close that time!"
  1135. >You kick at the dirt, making a little dust plume rise from the ground.
  1136. "Oh well, Just gotta cool off I guess." You say scratching the back of your head.
  1137. >picking the ball up in your hooves, you take off, making for home and awaiting the sweet taste of a sports drink after a long day of being active.
  1138. >Or at least active since your nap.
  1139.  
  1140. >>
  1141. "Ahhhh...thats some good Thunder-aide!"
  1142. >You take another gulp of the blue flavored drink and slam the empty bottle down on the kitchen counter.
  1143. >The tangy blueberry flavor tingled as it entered your mouth and hit your tongue, giving you a feeling of revitalization.
  1144. >Thunder-aide! Every Pegasus's favorite energy drink.
  1145. "Pinkie will be coming over soon, I should get ready."
  1146. >Throwing away the empty bottle and grabbing another for the road, you exit out the front door.
  1147. "What the, I don't remember seeing a message on my door..."
  1148. >On the door was a note, stuck with a pin into the wooden frame, reading "A formal invitation" on the front of it.
  1149. "An invitation to what?" You say taking the note.
  1150. >Unfolding the letter, you read on.
  1151. >It says: "Rainbow Dash, you are formally invited to the grand ceremony of the ordering of the new world! Please accept this letter and oblige."
  1152. >The hoof writing was done, from what you could tell, by a griffon. There were small parts of the paper that were ripped or scratched, as if by a griffon's claw while writing.
  1153. >"At the point of night when the moon is at the highest, come to your hideout, and from there follow the road marks to the sight where the show will take place. Arrive on time, and your filly friend will be un-harmed..."
  1154. >No doubt that was written by one of two particular griffons you had met before.
  1155. >And what could they mean by...
  1156. "Oh no...Scoots..."
  1157. >It hit you like a ton of bricks, your heart sank and your mind started racing a thousand miles a minute.
  1158. >What if Steel and Vortex were captured along with her?
  1159. >How could they have found out about you being friends with Scootaloo?
  1160. >What could be happening?
  1161. >Did they find out where your HQ was?
  1162. >What if...
  1163. "NO! I wont let anything bad happen to anypony because of me!"
  1164. >You throw the Thunder-aide bottle down over the border of your front porch, and race inside to grab your gear.
  1165. >Dawning it on quick, fast, and in a hurry, you practically break the front door down on your way out.
  1166. >Haven't flown that fast since Fluttershy's brother groped you...
  1167. >Racing, soaring, flying fast enough that you may as well have made another sonic rainboom, you head out straight for HQ.
  1168. >They wouldn't suffer because of you, they wont...
  1169. >>
  1170.  
  1171. "I can't wait to see Dashie break this record! Its gonna be so fun to watch!" You say hopping down the dirt road to Rainbow Dash's house.
  1172. >Skipping and bouncing, you eventually make it to Rainbow's place.
  1173. >But something was off...
  1174. >Her front door was open, and there was an open bottle of Thunder-ade laying on the ground underneath her house.
  1175. "Why would Dash leave a bottle on the ground, shes not a litterbug!"
  1176. >You scratch your head and look up to the front of her house, where the door lay open.
  1177. "I wonder what could, oh, hey! There she is!"
  1178. >Rainbow Dash rockets out of her front door. The door frame shakes and the door itself slams shut behind the force of her departure.
  1179. >She was moving quick, much faster then normal.
  1180. >Must be in a rush...
  1181. "Where are you going!? We were supposed to break a record! Well, technically you were, I mean you would have, I mean, AHH!"
  1182. >All this rambling was giving you a headache.
  1183. "I'm gonna follow her and see what she could possibly be ditching on our hanging out for!"
  1184. >You've managed to keep up with Dash before, you can do it again!
  1185. "I'll find out what your up to Dash!" You say with determination.
  1186. >Sprinting at top speed towards the direction she flew off, you follow what signs you could of her flying over.
  1187. >There were holes in the clouds and trees were bent over from her speed, she definitely was in a rush...
  1188. >>
  1189.  
  1190. "Oh Celestia, Vortex, Steel, Squirt...They better be-" Your mind trails for a second before snapping back, "NO! They /will/ be okay!"
  1191. >You make it to Headquarters in a matter of minutes, landing a little ways away from the entrance, trying to avoid risk of getting caught by anyone that may be waiting for you.
  1192. >Sneaking through the tall grass, trees, and brush, you find the entrance.
  1193. >The hatch had been ripped off it's hinges and thrown to the side.
  1194. "Oh no, I /was/ followed!"
  1195. >Taking a quick look around to see if anyone was in the area, you see that the coast looks clear and dead ass sprint for the entrance.
  1196. "If theres anypony down there..." You whisper to yourself, getting ready to get the jump on any intruders.
  1197. >You make it to the bottom of the stairs leading to the main room, the place had been ransacked and rifled.
  1198. >The room's set up was in complete disarray and everything was scattered about.
  1199. "I don't see any sign of them..." You say frantically searching the room.
  1200. >On the table in the room's center, was a map, and another note.
  1201. "Another note?"
  1202. >Picking up and reading the message, it tells you more of what awaits your friends should you decide not to show up to wherever it is they want you to go.
  1203. >Taking orders from the enemy wasn't exactly your forte, but they had your friends... They had Scoots, and nothing would prevent you from letting them hurt your family.
  1204. >"You've made it this far, now keep going!" The message read, "Once you arrive here, you'll be able to witness Tartarus in Equestria!"
  1205. >This message's writing was as sloppily done as the last one, the parchment was scratched and had little rips and holes.
  1206. >Yup, definitely a griffon's work.
  1207. "I'll find them, I'll save them..."
  1208. >You crumple up the paper, throw it to the side, and head back up the stairs.
  1209. "The first note said there would be landmarks to follow, but where the hay..."
  1210. >Looking around, attempting to find any leads, you can't seem to find anything.
  1211. >What the hell!?
  1212. "Ahh! Where could they be?!" You shout to the evening sky.
  1213. >Growing more and more frustrated, you search for whatever landmark or sign they could have left behind.
  1214. "This is bucking STUPID! How can I follow the signs if they didn't LEAVE ME ANY!"
  1215. >You kick a rock on the ground out of anger.
  1216. >It goes flying into a tree in front of you, bouncing off and coming back to hit you right in the head.
  1217. *clunk* "Owe...WHY YOU STUPID RO- huh?" Your tantrum is stopped once you look down to the rock and notice a giant arrow carved into the ground, pointing to the west.
  1218. "Oh...huh..."
  1219. >You facehoof, and take off into the direction of the arrow.
  1220. >How could you have missed that, seriously.
  1221. >Whatever, whats important is that you waste no time being angry and focus on finding your friends.
  1222. "Don't worry Squirt! I'm coming!"
  1223. >More determined, you speed away from HQ, Doing your best to remain focused on not what may happen if you fail, but what to do /after/ you save them.
  1224.  
  1225. >>
  1226. "That," *pant* "Sounded like Dash's voice!"
  1227. >Sprinting full speed ahead, you follow the direction in which Dash had flown in an attempt to find her.
  1228. >Coming up to a clearing, you see her take off again, just before you can confront her.
  1229. "Daaaash!!" *pant* "Where are you gooooing!!?"
  1230. >Out of breath, you enter the clearing and observe a giant arrow on the ground.
  1231. "She took off in this direction." You tap your chin, "She sounded really mad...whats wrong?"
  1232. >Contemplating on the subject, what could make somepony happy?
  1233. "A party! I'll find Dash and throw her a 'sorry you came close but couldn't break the record' party!" You sit back on your haunches and catch your breath, "But I'll have to catch her first, don't worry Dashie! Pinkie will make you smile again!"
  1234. >Taking a moment to look around while you recover, you see a door on the ground, partially broken at it's hinges.
  1235. "Who would break a perfectly good door?"
  1236. >Observing further, you see that the door came from an old log.
  1237. >A log with a tunnel leading into it.
  1238. >Curiosity now fully aroused, you can't help but feel something bad had happened.
  1239. "Maybe this isn't just about the record? I'll find out, I'll make sure Dashie is okay!"
  1240. >As much as you'd love to, exploring the cave in the log was second to finding your friend.
  1241. >Having caught your breath, you hop back up and head in the direction of the arrow, the very same direction Dash had taken off to.
  1242. "Somepony was probably a big meany meanyhead to Dashie! Why would somepony want to be mean to her?"
  1243.  
  1244. >>
  1245. >Moonlight permeates the horizon, lighting the path to your friends.
  1246. >Eventually, and a little ways ahead, you see a dim glowing in the trees below.
  1247. >Must be them, it has to be...
  1248. >You dive down, catching yourself in mid-air just before landing so as not to make any noise.
  1249. "I just gotta sneak over there and see where they're being held."
  1250. >Trudging through the tall grass and shrubbery, you come up to an opening in the brush.
  1251. >A large bonfire was raging in the center of a large circle of unicorns, all channeling some kind of dark energy into it.
  1252. >The flames sputter and flicker, changing colors every few seconds to a blackish purple color.
  1253. >You could feel the heat from the flame grow more intense each time it changed color before reverting back to normal.
  1254. "This must be the dark magic Vortex talked about..." You whisper to yourself.
  1255. >This isn't good.
  1256. >But, so long as they don't have any of the Elements of Harmony, they can't open any gateways to Tartarus.
  1257. >That much you know, at least.
  1258. "I can hardly see anything beyond that stupid fire," You say turning and shuffling to find a better position to see, "Theres gotta be a better spot..."
  1259. >"What are we watching Dash?"
  1260. "These ponies are part of a cult that want to open a gateway to Tartarus, and bring- wait, Pinkie!?!?" You yell in whisper mode.
  1261. >"Hi Dash!"
  1262. "SHHHHH!!"
  1263. >You cover her mouth and look back out to the circle, making sure no one had heard Pinkie's greeting.
  1264. >Breathing a sigh of relief, you realize the two of you haven't been noticed.
  1265. "Pinkie, what the hay are you doing here!? /How/ the hay did you find this place??"
  1266. >"I followed you, you silly willy! You seemed really mad..."
  1267. >Great, now that shes here, being stealthy will be more difficult.
  1268. "Listen Pinkie, like I said, these ponies are trying to open a portal from Tartarus to Equestria and do Celestia know's what after they make it happen!"
  1269. >"But why? Who would want to do something as crazy as that?" Pinkie says scratching her head.
  1270. >"Thats almost as crazy as somepony wanting to clone themselves over and over again to- oh, I forgot, I already did that." She says giggling.
  1271. >You roll your eyes and attempt to find a way to explain why you were here as well.
  1272. "Listen Pinkie Pie, before you ask, the reason I'm here is because...I'm a secret agent kinda, but not really." You say waving a hoof, "And this stuff I'm wearing is what I use when I'm on mission'n stuff."
  1273. >*Gasp* "That sounds so co-"
  1274. "SHHHHHH!!"
  1275. >You cover her muzzle again, making sure you weren't caught.
  1276. >"Pleh! Would you stop doing that?" Pinkie says whispering.
  1277. "I would if you'd stop being so loud! I said secret, remember? We have to be quiet..."
  1278. >Turning back to the bonfire, you peek through the brush to get another look around.
  1279. >There was a patrol of a couple of ponies walking away from the circle and over to one of the many tents they had set-up around the area.
  1280. "Alright Pinkie, I want you to do me a favor." You say observing their patrol pattern.
  1281. >"Whatever you want Dash! Pinkie is here to help!"
  1282. "I want you to go home back to Ponyville."
  1283. >Pinkie's hair deflates just a little bit after hearing that.
  1284. >"Leave you here?! But why?? We've been through so much together..."
  1285. >She has a point.
  1286. >Its not that you don't doubt her capabilities to find ways out of danger, but this wasn't her fight.
  1287. >It had nothing to do with her. Not to mention, having two of the Elements of Harmony here would only make it easier for them to do what they need.
  1288. "This isn't your fight Pinkie, if something happens..."
  1289. >"Dash, your my friend! I'm not gonna let you be all alone. These ponies look scary and mean!"
  1290. >Damnit. Once her mind is made up, its almost impossible to convince her otherwise.
  1291. >Suppose you /could/ use the help...
  1292. >No telling just what they can do seeing as how last time you escaped, it was because they let you.
  1293. >You sigh deeply. In the least, she could go for help if anything goes horribly wrong...
  1294. "Alright Pinkie, you can help."
  1295. >Her face lights up and her mane poofs back to normal.
  1296. >"Yay!" She yells also in whisper mode, clopping her hoofs together, "Don't worry about a thing Dash! I'll be a big help, what do you want me to do?"
  1297. "I want you to sit here and wait for me, and if you see me get captured, or if they somehow open any portals, you need to go back to Ponyville and get Twilight. Do you understand? Just don't get caught!"
  1298. >She joyfully smiles and nods, giving and audible squee while doing so.
  1299. >At least shes willing to do what you say...
  1300. >Leaving Pinkie behind, you make your way around to another section of the brush, doing your best to remain as silent as possible.
  1301. >You make your way to an area behind a few of the clustered up tents, still laying low and avoiding any of the ponies walking around the area.
  1302. "If I can get into one of these tents, maybe I can find where Scoots and the others are being held."
  1303. >Sneaking further into enemy territory, you find a tent larger then the rest, and more heavily guarded.
  1304. >Looks like either a command tent, or a prisoner one if you've ever seen one...
  1305. >Crawling low, practically dragging your belly along the ground and doing your best to remain silent, you make it to the side of the tent's wall.
  1306. >Peaking around the corner, you observe the two guards at it's entrance.
  1307. >Two other ponies come exiting out of the front where they stood.
  1308. >"I don't care about the finer details of the process, just get the portal ready, we'll have our key soon enough..."
  1309. >It was Spark, and walking next to him was a Zebra, wearing some kind of mask made of feathers and bones.
  1310. >He had small pieces of rope hung around his shoulders, little trinkets and dolls tied up in the tangle of his mane, along with a number of piercings in his ears and nose that zebras so love having. Or at least from what you could tell with Zacora.
  1311. >"Ya mon, don't you be worry'n about a ting! I specialize in all voodoo magics, and dis' be no different. Openin portals be my specialty."
  1312. >They really /do/ intend to use you as a catalyst for their portal.
  1313. >Too bad, you have no intention of letting that happen! Not while your breathing...
  1314. >The two of them both walk away from the tent's entrance, giving an opening.
  1315. >Or at least it would, if not for the guards...
  1316. "Gotta be something I can...ah!"
  1317. >You pick up a rock off the ground, and toss it into the bushes over to the tent's side.
  1318. >"You hear that?" Said the Orange guard.
  1319. >"Yeah...we ought to check it out." Replies the maroon guard.
  1320. >They seem kind of familiar...
  1321. >Regardless, they left. For how long you don't know, all the more reason to get in and gather whatever info. you can.
  1322. >Maybe you can find a map of this place?
  1323. >You quickly enter the tent, examining the walls, checking for any maps or layouts.
  1324. >At the back, theres a desk with papers scattered on it's surface.
  1325. "Maybe one is over here..."
  1326. >Shuffling the papers apart, you find what looks to be a map.
  1327. "Yes! Now, where are they holding them?" You say looking over it frantically.
  1328. >In the lower part of the campsite, was the prisoner ward. No doubt where they were held.
  1329. "Awesome! All I need to do now is-"
  1330. >"Is what, Rainbow dash?" A familiar voice calls out.
  1331. >Your shoulders slump, and you heart skips a beat, you've been found...
  1332. "Back off!" You cry out confronting the voice's owner, drawing your weapons, "I'm taking my friends and crashing this little party you've got going here!"
  1333. >"Now Dash, you wouldn't point those at somepony who isn't actually a monster or demon would you?" Spark says in a condescending tone.
  1334. "I'm considering it..."
  1335. >You tighten your grip on your weapons, though you'd love too, taking out another pony isn't something you were prepared to live with.
  1336. >Even if they were crazy and really pissed you off...
  1337. >"Thats okay, even /if/ you were capable of doing whats necessary, you can't now..." Spark says with a smirk.
  1338. "And just what is that supposed to...what the?"
  1339. >A dark aura envelops you, binding and immobilizing your body. Restricting your forehooves and legs together at your sides so you can't move.
  1340. >"Good work, Jinzo."
  1341. >The zebra from earlier enters the tent, holding a miniature doll of you in his hoof.
  1342. >"Ya mon, da voodoo has its uses! Thats why you recruited me aftuh all..."
  1343. >"Indeed, now what say you and I show our new guest what she'll be contributing too? Elias, Spiros!"
  1344. >The two griffons from the cave enter the tent and grab you by the forehooves, putting them behind your back and tieing them together.
  1345. >"You /won't/ be getting away this time, last time was on purpose!" Spiros says tightening the rope's grip.
  1346. >Elias balls his claws up and delivers a hard blow directly to your stomach.
  1347. "OOF!" *cough* "Wha-what was that for!?" *cough*
  1348. >You wrench in pain. Your legs shook and made it hard to stay standing.
  1349. >"That was for the cave." He said.
  1350. >"Come, bring her over to the fire."
  1351. >Spark motions with his hoof for you to be brought out. The tent was now surrounded by the cultist ponies, all wearing hoods covering their faces.
  1352. >They escort you over to the bonfire, where a large cauldron lay in front of the flame, directly opposite from where you were earlier.
  1353. >Several of the cultist unicorns were sitting in a perfect circle surrounding the fire, chanting something in a language you could not understand.
  1354. >Looking down, you notice a familiar pattern in the dirt, it was the same circle pattern you saw at the cave.
  1355. "Just what is all this?" You say looking to the cauldron, broiling a malignant concoction.
  1356. >"Dis be da future! Don't be shy, we gone through many before ya!" Jinzo walks over to the cauldron and stirs the mixture, "But dey proved unworthy sacrifices..."
  1357. >Sacrifices? Did they intend to kill you?
  1358. >Getting a closer look into the cauldron, you could clearly make out the eroded remnants of bones and hooves.
  1359. >They /do/ intend to kill you...by boiling you alive!
  1360. "D-don't worry! No doubt Pinkie has heard all this and has gone for help by now..." You think to yourself.
  1361. >"Hello Rainbow!" Pinkie says being brought next to you, all tied up.
  1362. >You hang your head in shame, of all the ponies who could've followed you...
  1363.  
  1364. >>
  1365. >The area goes silent for a moment save for the roaring flames. Dancing and crackling in the background.
  1366. >"Heh...haha, Ahhahah! I can't believe it! This is too good! Not only did you lead us straight to you little hideout, you were even kind enough to bring me not one, but /two/ of the Elements! Ahahaha, ooooo, ohh..."
  1367. >Spark composes himself and takes a breath, doing his best to contain his laughter.
  1368. >Great, of all things that could happen, this happens.
  1369. >Not only were you unable to rescue your friends, but you got Pinkie captured as well.
  1370. "Pinkie...how did you get caught!?"
  1371. >"Well, I was hiding, then they found me!" She says with a squee.
  1372. >Yup, of course they did...
  1373. "I told y-you- oh never mind."
  1374. >Jinzo continues stirring the boiling concoction within the cauldron, green ominous steam rising from it as he does so.
  1375. >"Ha-ha! Dis be good mon! Now we have two of da Elements to power da portal!"
  1376. >Spark turns to face you, a wide grin grows on his face.
  1377. >"I can't thank you enough, Rainbow. Thanks to your failure, I not only have the means to open the portal, but I can make you sit and watch as I do so." Spark pauses for a moment to observe the fire, "Yes...you will bear witness to their coming, and my ascension!"
  1378. "Your insane."
  1379. >"Hmph, what is chaos to the fly is normal to the spider, as the old saying goes."
  1380. >"Portal? What portal? What are you crazies talking about?" Pinkie's eyes go wide, "Are we playing a game? I love games!"
  1381. "They aren't fooling around Pinkie Pie, they want to open a portal to Tartarus and bring all the demons and monsters from their to here!"
  1382. >You fight to break free from their talons. They scratch and pull at your forehooves, you may as well have to pull your shoulders from their sockets to break free.
  1383. >"Forget it! Your not getting away, not this time!" Spiros cries out, "And after how you humiliated us back in the desert, I think we should pay you back..."
  1384. >Both Elias and Spiros look to Spark for approval.
  1385. >"Hmph, do what you please." Spark says with a shrug.
  1386. >"Gladly." Elias responds.
  1387. "Screw yo- AHH!"
  1388. >Elias delivers a blow to the right side of your face, followed by a another to the gut.
  1389. >"Dash! No, STOP! Why are you doing this?" Pinkie cries out, seeing her friend in pain.
  1390. >Her cries fall on deaf ears, as both griffons deliver blow after blow to different areas of your body.
  1391. >Your vision begins to fade, all you can see are flashes of white and red after each hit.
  1392. >"And this, is for, the, KICK!" Elias says, cracking you in the face in between each word.
  1393. >"D-Dashie?" Pinkie calls your name to make sure your okay.
  1394. >Your vision begins to fade to black, a loud ringing in your ears impairs your senses.
  1395. "Ngnnnn...y-you...hit like fillies..."
  1396. >"How dare you!" Spiros cries, "Even now you mock us!?"
  1397. >Spiros grabs you by the neck and winds his fist back as far as it could go, bringing it forward sinking into your stomach.
  1398. "AHH MFfff..."
  1399. >You cough up a considerable amount of blood, almost losing consciousness right there after the hit.
  1400. >"Enough! Spiros, Elias, back off a bit." Spark says, stopping the griffons from continuing.
  1401. >"Very well..." Spiros says, wiping the blood from his talon.
  1402. >They return to their positions, holding your forehooves back and bringing you down to your knees.
  1403. >The adrenaline from the beating quickly wore off, bringing about a pounding headache. Felt as if the tendons in the back of your eyes were being yanked on over and over again with every pulse.
  1404. >"Dashie! Speak to me! Dashie!!" Pinkie calls out.
  1405. >Looking to her, you could barely make out her face, but you were still able to see enough through your swollen cheeks and black eyes to see the tears streaming beneath her still wet ears.
  1406. "I...I'll be okay...Pinkie...heh heh..."
  1407. >Your vision goes back to the ground, seeing the bloodstains as well as the blood drops from your muzzle dripping into the dirt.
  1408. >The feeling passes quickly, as a bucket of water is splashed into your face.
  1409. "Pleh, Pffft! Ugh...*cough*"
  1410. >"I want her to be wide awake for this next part, or test rather..." Spark turns to a group of hooded ponies and orders them to bring in a cage, "Bring me test subject 13-B!"
  1411. >The hooded ponies all bow and scramble over to one of the tents.
  1412. >"I think you'll enjoy this..." Spark says with a grin.
  1413. >"Dash, are you okay? Th-they hurt you, really bad!" Pinkie whispers.
  1414. >You don't answer. A feeling of guilt and dread creeps into your mind, this was all your fault.
  1415. >You led them to your friends, Vortex and Steele, you failed to rescue them, you let Pinkie get dragged into this, and worst of all, they had Scootaloo...
  1416. >Your mind starts going a mile minute, the thought of failing at something so critical began overwhelming you. The sinking pain in your chest almost numbed you up to the physical pain just dealt.
  1417. >"Easy, EASY! Bring it in slowly!" Said one of the hooded ponies, giving orders to a group of other hooded cultist rolling in what seemed to be a large crate covered by a white tarp.
  1418. >"Thats it, careful to not let the latch get undone!"
  1419. >The metal box's wheels clatter against the rocky soil as they bring it next to the fire.
  1420. >"That? We don't be need'n that ting!" Jinzo says looking to the cage.
  1421. >"No, not for the portal we don't anyway. I'm merely conducting a test of character here." He says looking to you.
  1422. >Great. What could this psycho have in mind?
  1423. >Spark signals for the hooded ponies to uncover the tarp. It flies off the cage and flutters to the ground, revealing a changeling.
  1424. >The changeling jumps at the bars at the first sight of light, hissing and barring it's fangs towards the nearest living thing it sees.
  1425. >It's body was skinny and malnourished. It's ribs were grossly exposed and it shook every time it tried to regain balance from leaping at the bars of its cage. Looked as if it hasn't fed in days...
  1426. >The look in the changeling's eyes were that of malice and hunger, it's need to feed must have been overwhelming every instinct it had as it's teeth chipped and scratched, gnawing at the bars trying to break free.
  1427. >"Changelings, devious little bugs aren't they?" Spark says staring at the cage, "You recall when these attacked Canterlot don't you?"
  1428. >"But since then changeling have become good! they don't feed on other ponies anymore..." Pinkie responds.
  1429. >"Does reformation account for genocide?? When the attack happened, I lost everything!" Spark takes a deep breathe, "My family, my home, my way of life..."
  1430. "And? You think doing this will bring them back? Your no better then Chrysalis!"
  1431. >"I know it won't, and I don't care. That isn't the purpose of what I'm doing."
  1432. >The changeling continues rattling in it's cage, knocking itself against the metal bars.
  1433. >"I manage to capture a lone changeling left after the attack, little bug managed to hide in the sewer systems." Spark looks to the cage. A look of anger overtakes his face, "And since then, I ran experiments on them, trying to see just how they work, what magic they respond too."
  1434. >The changeling hisses and growls, continuing to gnaw on the bars, trying in vain to escape in it's weakened state.
  1435. >"But, my attempts were for not. I don't know exactly what it is that makes them tick. But that no longer matters..."
  1436. "So what? You dedicated the rest of your life to wanting to make everypony as miserable as you now? How petty can you be?"
  1437. >"Petty?" Spark looks to the ground and then back to you, "Hmph, you know not the pain of loss. How could you even /attempt/ to judge me?"
  1438. >Spark takes a long hard look at the caged, ravaging, little insectoid creature.
  1439. >"I have an idea Dash. What do you say we have a little contest?" He says approaching you.
  1440. >Spark motions for one of the hooded ponies to come over to the two of you, revealing your weapons that they had taken from you during your capture.
  1441. >"We'll have a little competition, the both of us will take aim at the miserable creaton, and whoever pulls the trigger first wins. What say you to that?"
  1442. "I say you are way crazier then I first thought! I'm not, HMMF, taking orders from, GAHH, anypony anyway!"
  1443. >You struggle against your captors, trying to make a grab for your pistols.
  1444. >"Yeah! Dash would never do something so mean! No matter who she was fighting! Shes too- MFMMMFMFM!!"
  1445. >Pinkie's voice becomes muffled as Elias wraps a cloth around her muzzle, silencing her to merely grumbling.
  1446. >"Good work, her voice was like nails to a chalkboard..." Spiros says.
  1447. >"She would never?" Spark says faking a surprised look, "Well I guess all the monsters shes killed in the past must not count then, if shes just too pure to ever do such things..."
  1448. >"MFMFFM...hmmm?"
  1449. "Pinkie! Its not how it sounds, honest! I-I..."
  1450. >You stumble over your words, trying to explain yourself to Pinkie's sad expression.
  1451. >"Enough talk, time for our contest. You love competition, don't you?"
  1452. >Spark takes Ivory in his hoof and orders Elias and Spiros to force Ebony into yours.
  1453. "I don't know what could be going through that crazy head of yours, HNG! But if you knew anything--B-BACK OFF! You'd know that these only work for me!" You say fighting against the griffons.
  1454. >"Indeed your right, so then lets fix this game then, the white one will act as my weapon, and the black one will act as yours. Whoever's goes off first, wins."
  1455. "I'm not, MFFF, playing your stupid game!"
  1456. >You kick and thrash around, attempting to break free from their grasp.
  1457. >"Do as your, TOLD!"
  1458. >Spiros cracks you in the back of the head, and hard.
  1459. >Your vision fades again, suddenly in front of you there were 3 cages, dancing around in your dazed view.
  1460. "Ungh...I-I won't..." You say shaking your head.
  1461. >"Good, time to start."
  1462. >Spark leans in and takes you into a headlock and grabs your open hoof and forces your grip around Ebony's trigger.
  1463. "G-Get off! I WON'T!"
  1464. >You continue fighting against their hold, your dazed vision only grew worse with him cutting off the circulation to your head.
  1465. >"Oh no no, this is the easy part..." He says locking your forehoof to the front.
  1466. "S-Stop!"
  1467. >You continue the vain resistance, your body was weakened and your sight was still blurry, making it hard to put up a real fight.
  1468. >"Its alright..."
  1469. >Your breath runs out, and you lack the energy to keep up the fight.
  1470. >Spark tightens his grip around your neck, bringing the back of your head to his chest as he continues to aim.
  1471. >"Do it, Dash."
  1472. "I...N-No!"
  1473. >"...Do It Dash!" Spark says pulling your hoof with his own against the trigger.
  1474. >Your vision begins to return and you see the changeling locks eyes with yours.
  1475. >It growls and makes one last leap towards the front of the cage. The lock snaps off and clangs to the ground as the cage door flies open and the beast charges straight at you.
  1476. *BANG*
  1477. >The weapon goes off, and the shot makes contact with the bug's chest. Purple mist and blood spray from it's backside as it's body collapses to the ground and slides directly in front of your huddle.
  1478. >You look to the corpse laid out in front of you. Your breathing grows harder as you look to your hoof still gripping Ebony.
  1479. >"I win. I thought you were /good/ at competing..."
  1480. >Spark releases his grip and pushes you to the ground.
  1481. >"Relax Dash," Spark says condescendingly, "Your just doing your /job/!"
  1482. >He stomps on your ribs, knocking the air out of you.
  1483. *Cough* "I- I'll get you..." *Cough*
  1484. >You cringe in pain, as the two griffons bring you back to your hooves.
  1485. >"Take her to the holding cells, we'll just use this /other/ one for the portal!" Spark orders.
  1486. >The griffons nod in acknowledgment and begin dragging you away, leaving your weapons behind.
  1487. "N-NO! Wait! P-Pinkie!! Hold on! Just hold on!!"
  1488. >The last thing you see before being knocked out was Pinkie's shocked and tear filled eyes fading away into the dark as your dragged away.
  1489.  
  1490. >>
  1491. >You awaken on the ground, the smell of dirt and grass invades your nostrils as you slowly re-awaken.
  1492. "Muhghhhhh... W-where in the..."
  1493. >Your head pounds, whatever they used to knock you out, you were really feeling it now.
  1494. >Damn griffons
  1495. >"Hey! I think shes waking up!" A high pitched, somewhat raspy voice calls out.
  1496. >Wait a minute, that sounds like...no it couldn't be.
  1497. >"Shes right, shes starting to snap out of it." Another voice says.
  1498. >More familiar voices. But, who could they be? Could have sworn the first one sounded so familiar.
  1499. >"Dash! Rainbow Dash! C'mon!"
  1500. >You feel a nudging on yours shoulder as the higher pitched voice says your name.
  1501. "Ughhhh my head..."
  1502. >Sitting yourself up, you are immediately embraced by a little orange and purple flash.
  1503. >"Your okay!!"
  1504. >Looking down, you see Scootaloo sobbing and nuzzling her head into your coat.
  1505. "Scootaloo?" You think to yourself, returning the embrace, "Th-that means...Pinkie! Th-the portal! I have to stop them!"
  1506. >"Well thats a nice idea Dash, but were kinda...in jail right now..." Vortex says sitting at the opposite end of the cage.
  1507. "Yeah duh, I can see that. We gotta figure a way out of here or else they're gonna open that thing up and all hells gonna break loose!"
  1508. >"HMPH! If only I could get to my explosive stocks they took from HQ..." Steel says crossing his arms.
  1509. >If they were all here then this is no doubt the prison area you saw on the map. At least now you know they're okay.
  1510. >Still, though, finding a way out was top priority. Its only a matter of time before that Zebra freak does whatever he has to to Pinkie and drain her of her magic.
  1511. "Have any of you tried escaping already?"
  1512. >"Well, last time we made a move to escape, it ended with them just beefing up security around here. Not to mention the regularly scheduled patrol and shift changes they've been doing to rotate in fresh guards." Vortex says tapping his chin.
  1513. >Looking out of the cage, you observe the 2 ponies standing at the cage door, as well as the multiple ponies patrolling the area in groups of three.
  1514. >Damn! Clearly escaping here was gonna take a lot more then just relying on the stupidity of a lone guard...
  1515. "Theres gotta be /something/ we can do! The longer we sit here doing nothing, the sooner these crazy cultists are succeed in opening that damn thing!"
  1516. >"Luckily for us, they seem to be a strict time-table with their patrolling patterns. Every 5 minutes or so, theres a about 2 minutes of nopony in this area save for the guards at the cage door." Vortex whispers.
  1517. >"Hes right Dash! We always see them walking around the corner over there," Scootaloo says pointing her hoof towards the bonfire, "And they don't come back for a little while."
  1518. >"HEY!" *Clank* "You shut-up in there!" The maroon guard at the cage door yells, banging his spear against the bars.
  1519. >He turns back around, his attention being mostly taken by the Bonfire and chanting in the distance.
  1520. "Scoots, you gotta be quiet!"
  1521. >Scootaloo covers her muzzle with her hooves and nods.
  1522. >"Anypony have any ideas?" Vortex whispers.
  1523. "When was the last time you can remember that the patrol left the two at the entrance?"
  1524. >"They came back just as you woke up, so it'll be a couple more minutes."
  1525. >Perfect, that gives enough time to enact your ingenious plan...
  1526. "Perfect..."
  1527. >"Why is that perfect?" Steel asks, scooting over to your newly formed semi circle.
  1528. "I have an idea!"
  1529. >You think you do anyway.
  1530. >"Hold on, Dash? An idea? I think its a bluff..." Vortex says with sarcasm.
  1531. >You shoot him a dagger filled glare, his ears droop straight down and his irises shrink to the size of pebbles.
  1532. >"On s-second thought, I'm all ears..." He says with a sheepish grin.
  1533. "Okay so, here's what we do."
  1534. >The group leans in, listening intently.
  1535. "One of us gets a stomach ache and bellows in pain. When the guards open the cage to investigate, we knock them out, stop the portal from opening, save Pinkie, and be back to HQ in time for cider!"
  1536. >Each of them gives you a questioning look. Clearly they weren't as hyped for your awesome and amazing plan as you were.
  1537. "Whats the problem? It'll totally work! They'll investigate and we'll jump them!" You say growing slightly annoyed.
  1538. >"Dash?" Scootaloo asks, "Whose gonna be the one who has to act sick?"
  1539. >Good question. And come to think of it, how can you make somepony act like they have a stomach ache to the point where they have to puke?
  1540. >The guard might not buy it if your just moaning in pain...
  1541. "Vortex."
  1542. >"Me?"
  1543. "Yup"
  1544. >"What the hell, why me?" He asks.
  1545. "Well since you wanna act sarcastic, I say your the one who eats dirt until you throw up and make them unlock the cage!"
  1546. >"Yeah okay...no I'm not doing that!" Vortex yells in whisper mode, waving his hoof.
  1547. >"Steel agrees." Steelhorn says closing his eye and raising a brow.
  1548. >"Me too!" Scootaloo nods in agreement.
  1549. "Well, Vortex? Get eating!"
  1550. >You scoop up a hoof load of soil, shoving it in Vortex's face.
  1551. >"This is a complete load! Why do I have to eat dirt?" He says pushing your hoof away.
  1552. "Well....because uhhh... S-Scootaloo is too young!"
  1553. >Scootlaoo puts on a smug face and nods. "Thats right! How could you expect an innocent little filly like me to eat dirt?"
  1554. "And we cant have Steel getting sick, because hes the one whose gonna rig all the explosives you said they took from HQ to blow this place sky-high!"
  1555. >"I am?" Steel asks.
  1556. >You give him en elbow to the ribs, getting him to play along. Although that is a pretty good idea...
  1557. >"Oh, OH! Y-yeah! thats right! I need to be in good health, n'stuff..."
  1558. >Vortex looks perplexed at his current situation.
  1559. >"B-but! I-I don't, I-I mean!"
  1560. >Everyone in the group just looks at him, expecting an excuse.
  1561. >"You know what? fine! But I won't forget this!"
  1562. >Vortex reluctantly scoops a pile of dirt into his hoof and gives you all a "do I have to" type of look.
  1563. "Go on!" You say nodding and gesturing with your hoof.
  1564. >With a long, drawn-out sigh, he slowly forces the dirt into his mouth and chews.
  1565. >"MFF! Mmmhmmm.... Itsh shfo dry!" He says trying to swallow.
  1566. >"C'mon! Chew chew!" Scootaloo says cheering him on.
  1567. >Slowly he takes another scoop and forces it into his muzzle. Tears begin forming in the corners of his eyes as he keeps chewing, painfully swallowing each clump of dirt.
  1568. "Just make sure you pick out any bugs or rocks..."
  1569. >His eyes shrink to the size of pebbles once again as he inspects the dirt and finds worms wriggling in the soil.
  1570. >"MMFFFFF! MMMMHMMMM! Pleh! Agh! Oh Celestia..." He says wheezing.
  1571. "Why'd you stop? You still have more to go if your gonna puke!"
  1572. >You look out of the cage to the guards still visibly patrolling.
  1573. "Hurry up and eat more!"
  1574. >"I hate you guys..." He says taking another bite.
  1575. "Yeah yeah, hate us later! Just keep going you big baby!" You say watching the patrols leaving, "Hey! Scoots! Is that where you were talking about? When they leave?" You ask pointing the corner where the guards just turned.
  1576. >"Yeah! thats it!"
  1577. >Yes! Now all Vortex has to do is vomit and your on your way outta here...
  1578. "Alright, just hurry up and puke so we can get the guard's attention!"
  1579. >"Ohhh Celestia, with pleasure...FfmMMFmfmf BLehhh!"
  1580. >"EWWW! Puke!" Scootaloo screams out loud.
  1581. >"Hey Guards! This pony is in serious distress!" Steel calls out to get their attention.
  1582. >"Blaehhhh! Oh Cele- MFF!"
  1583. >"Hey! Whats going on in there! Whats wrong with him?" The guards ask in a commanding tone.
  1584. "Hes sick you dummy! Get in here and take care of him before he gets everppony else sick too!"
  1585. >The guard turns to his partner and orders him to open the cage.
  1586. >"Open it up, and all of /you/ get back to that corner!" He says pointing to the left edge of the cage.
  1587. >You all back up to part of the prison he pointed out, mentally preparing to make your move.
  1588. >The cage door opens and the guards enter, one of which tends to Vortex and the other keep watch on all of you.
  1589. >"OH Celestia! The pain!" vortex cries out.
  1590. >"We need to get him to the infirmary ward, less he spreads whatever this is to the rest of us!" Says the maroon guard.
  1591. >"Screw that noise! I'm not taking him back and risk getting puked on!" The Orange guard replies.
  1592. >Capitalizing on the distraction, you leap towards the Orange pony and grab his spear.
  1593. >"H-hey! let go!" He say fighting against you.
  1594. "Steel! get the other one!"
  1595. >Steel lets out a war cry and charges the maroon guard.
  1596. >"Mrahhhhh!"
  1597. >"What the fu- AHH!"
  1598. >Steel delivers a clothesline to the maroon guard, instantly knocking him out.
  1599. >"Got'em!!" He cries out triumphantly.
  1600. "Yeah great! Now help me out!" You say struggling against the other guard.
  1601. >He rushes over and picks up the orange pony off the ground, giving you the leverage to take his spear from his hooves.
  1602. >"Aw hell, they are never gonna let us live this down..." He says wrapped in the Minotaur's arms.
  1603. "If its any consolation, your probably not gonna remember any of this anyway."
  1604. >"OH yeah? What makes you say tha-" *THWACK*
  1605. >Knocking the guard out with the blunt end of the spear, Steel sets him down on the ground and grabs the key of his waist.
  1606. "Hah! I told you it'd work!"
  1607. >"Dash always makes the best plans!" Scootaloo shouts in agreement.
  1608. "See? I told you it was gonna work Vortex! ...Vortex?"
  1609. >Vortex was slumped over in the middle of the cage, having just got done puking up heaves of mud.
  1610. >"Nguhhhh...still hate you guys..."
  1611.  
  1612. >>
  1613. >Exiting the cage and being observant for any returning patrols, your group hides behind a corner of a larger one of the tents and begin forming a plan of attack.
  1614. >"Okay, so." *hack* "How the hay do we get out of here? Its only a matter of time before we get found out, about a minute actually." Vortex says thinking out loud, "From what I could remember the next group of guards will show up any second."
  1615. >"I don't know about you, but Steel wants his armory back! They took all my mana bombs and my whole collection of weapons!"
  1616. >Steel mashes his fist into his hand, "If only Steel knew where they were, he'd show these stupid cultists a /real/ display of power!"
  1617. "Steel, how many mana bombs'n stuff did you have exactly?" You say scratching your chin.
  1618. >"Believe me he had enough to turn this whole area into a sink-hole. Too bad we don't know where any of it is." Said Vortex.
  1619. "/You/ don't, but /I/ do. When I first got here I found a map of this place, and the armory where they probably have all your stuff kept is on the other side of this campsite. The western side to be exact."
  1620. >You sketch out a crude drawing of the area, labeling the points of interest to the best of your memory.
  1621. >"I see, were farther away then I thought. Were gonna need to move fast and do our best to not get caught..." Vortex said observing the
  1622. dirt made sketch.
  1623. >Yeah, thats definitely a good plan...
  1624. "Steel, if you get to those bombs you think you can set them to detonate?"
  1625. >A look of pure joy appears on the Minotaur's face as he bites his lower lip.
  1626. >"EEE! I sure can! I've been waiting for just such an occasion!"
  1627. "Good! Because thats exactly what you three will be doing!"
  1628. >You point out the direction where they need to go. If those bombs can destroy everything here, all their devices, research and whatever else; the odds of anypony continuing this work will be highly unlikely.
  1629. >"Dash, while were taking care of the bombs, what will you be doing? Didn't you tell us before that they needed an Element of harmony? What will you be doing while were pre-occupied?" Vortex asks.
  1630. >Yes, they needed an element. And they have one already...Pinkie.
  1631. >"Dash? What are they talking about? A ritual?" Scootaloo asks intensively.
  1632. >She gives you look of concern.
  1633. >She was perceptive, even she could realize by now that this wasn't just some little adventure for fun.
  1634. >This was a life or death kind of situation, similar to Tirek or Sombra.
  1635. >Didn't fail then, however, and you /won't/ fail now!
  1636. "Squirt, I need you to stay with Steel and Vortex, they'll be able to keep a better eye on you then me alone."
  1637. >"B-but! what about you! Your-"
  1638. >Around the corner of the tent facing the front of the cage, a patrol guard spots the 4 of you whispering amongst each other.
  1639. >Outside of the cage...
  1640. >"BREAKOUT! We have a breakout in the prison ward! Give the alarm!"
  1641. >Aw hell...
  1642. "Quick! Steel, Vortex, take Scoots and go! I'll stop them from opening that portal!"
  1643. >"Got it! Lets go, kid!" Vortex says grabbing Scootaloo and darting away with Steel.
  1644. >"H-hey! Wait I Whuhahhh!"
  1645. >They make a break for it and turn the corner, leaving sight and you with you with the guard.
  1646. >"Hey! Get back h-DRGHH!"
  1647. >You leap forward and with a roundhouse style kick, you knock him out cold, allowing the 3 of them to go unnoticed.
  1648. "Don't take too long guys..."
  1649. >Good thing you weren't beaten to the point where you couldn't fight. Thats something, at least.
  1650. >Lucky for you no other patrols were around, where could they all-
  1651. >">"My loyal followers!" Spark's voice echos, "Through many hardships and loss, you have found your way here, to me."
  1652. >Turning to face the light of the fire, you take flight and go straight for the flame.
  1653. "He must be using one of those voice spells Twilight likes to use sometimes!"
  1654. >As you fly over the area you notice that most of all the ponies were heading over to the flame as well.
  1655. >With great haste you make it to your destination, hovering overhead to observe what they're doing.
  1656. >Spark was giving a speech, garnering the attention of everypony in the area.
  1657. >He stood atop a podium, speaking through a microphone he had hovering in front of his face. His voice echoed through the fields being amplified by his magic.
  1658. >"I come to you in the wake of recent events in our lands to issue a call to reason. Let nopony argue the perils of our time."
  1659. >The cultists gather around and listen, hanging on every word.
  1660. >Hopefully their distraction will give Scoots and the others the time they need.
  1661. >"While nations and different races struggle with one another with their fragile diplomatic ties, divided by the petty conflicts of our common history; a tide of greater conflict seems inevitable."
  1662. >Behind him was that Zebra from before, adding more various ingredients to the cauldron as Pinkie was being brought over to it's side next to the bonfire.
  1663. >"The threat of the changeling among other evils in our world threaten to decimate our way of life and all that we have accomplished..."
  1664. >You immediately recognize the two taking Pinkie to the cauldron, those two griffons which you have a score to settle with.
  1665. >No one gets free hits on you like that and gets away scot free!
  1666. >The speech goes on, if only you had popcorn...
  1667. >"It is time to show the world that our differences must be set aside and to unite as individuals as /we/ have shown is possible. With the leadership and guidance of those, unjustly banished to Tartarus, we shall bask in the light of a new world..."
  1668. >Guidance? Leadership? If the rest of Tartarus is like Tirek then they'll just get eaten or something.
  1669. >"We have seen our homes, our families destroyed and ripped apart by forces like wich we have never seen before. Grim though it be, these are the signs of the times we live in..."
  1670. >Guess he has a few points, but the bad guys never win in the end...right? Even Discord is good now!
  1671. >...Good enough anyway.
  1672. >"Out of the many who will join once they see our ways, we will form an inadvisable whole, answering /only/ to a single throne! And from that throne.../I/ will watch over you. From this day forward let no enemy bar our way. for we will stride through, no matter the cost!"
  1673. "Were awesome, I'm a bad ass, blah blah blah-blah blah..." You think to yourself still hovering overhead and out of sight.
  1674. >He ends his speech and leaves the podium.
  1675. >The cultists cheer and praise his words as if he were a prophet, stomping the ground and raising their voices.
  1676. >They are more diluted then you could've thought. No way they could believe that anything that comes from Tartarus could be a good thing, could they?
  1677. >Either way, they aren't opening any portals, gates, doors, or whatever the hell they want to today!
  1678. >Spark issues out a few orders and the large crowd begins to dissipate, returning to their various duties around the campsite.
  1679. >The crowd now fully dispersed, you think this is as good a time as any to make your move.
  1680. >"Why did joo have to order away de crowd? We coulda had a great audience mon!" Jinzo says in protest as the crowd leaves.
  1681. >"They are a means to an end, that speech was to make sure they don't waver when the portal opens." Spark replies.
  1682. >"Hah! I don't care anyway, once de portal opens, we gonna becomin' gods mon! We gonna be havin powuh dat dem sistuhs can't even compare to!"
  1683. >"Indeed... Bring her over now!" Spark calls out.
  1684. >Pinkie is carried to the cauldron of boiling green goop all tied up, letting out muffled words of anger from her covered muzzle.
  1685. >"MFF MFMFM MFMM HMMFM!!"
  1686. >Gotta make a move now...
  1687. >"Trow her in, once de goo has separated da magic from her body, we can be usin' it for us mon."
  1688. >Spiros and Elias grab the strands of rope and pick her up overhead.
  1689. "Yeah hey so that speech was kinda lame," You say making a landing, "y'know like it could've been done better I think in some areas..."
  1690. >The four of them all stop in their tracks to face you standing in front of them.
  1691. >"How...its not possible!" Spark says agasp.
  1692. "Sure it is! If you had actually learned anything from last time you woulda had like, way more security then two idiot guards. I mean, what is this? A badly written story or something?" You say with a smirk.
  1693. >"Okay, screw this! No more buck'n around! Spiros, Elias, break her legs!"
  1694. >They both nod and drop Pinkie on the ground near the fire.
  1695. >"With pleasure..." Spiros says cracking his knuckles.
  1696.  
  1697. >>
  1698. >"Finally we get to shut that smart aleck mouth of hers!" Elias says spitting into his claws.
  1699. >"No, I will."
  1700. >What?
  1701. >"Wha-What the hell are your talking about? I owe her as much as you Spiros!" Elias says in protest.
  1702. >"I don't care. I'm gonna be the one who gets to gut her."
  1703. >Spiros takes a fighting stance and digs his claws into the ground, positioning his wings for balance as if about to pounce.
  1704. >"C'mon! Don't be like that! We can take her together!"
  1705. >"You'll only be in my way! You fight like a child anyway, letting your anger always get the better of you!" Spiros pushes Elias back,
  1706. "Your sloppy, and you'll just get in my way!"
  1707. >Spiros locks eyes with yours, not even paying any attention to his fellow griffon anymore.
  1708. >"FINE! But when she kicks your ass, I'll make sure you never live that shit down!" Elias says backing up to the cauldron, "Stubborn bastard!"
  1709. "Seems like you two need some counseling. But, one on one? I'm down, should be more fun fighting a gauntlet!"
  1710. >Probably shouldn't be bluffing at a time like this...
  1711. >You stretch your shoulders and wings, gritting your teeth and mentally preparing for the melee.
  1712. >He takes a few more steps closer, closing the gap between you ever so slightly with each step.
  1713. >You spit into your right hoof, then the left, and give your elbows a good tap to ready yourself for the beat down this feather headed psycho needs.
  1714. >Charging forward you make the first move, jumping from the ground using your wings to give a boost and knocking him square in the face.
  1715. >The crack of your hoof hitting the bone rang in your head, signifying a solid hit and you follow-up with a left.
  1716. >He catches your hoof and grips it tightly in his claws, answering back with a left hook to the ribs and pulls your hoof downward to uppercut your face.
  1717. >*Clunk* Your teeth go from the impact.
  1718. "AHHNGG!"
  1719. >You stumble backward a few steps, giving him leverage to bear his claws and attempt to slash at your torso.
  1720. >*pant* "HMRAGNN!!"
  1721. >You catch his arm with your hind leg and push him back off balance, he follows through with another right hook which you duck to avoid.
  1722. >He kicks up again, blocking with an elbow, you answer back with a hard hit to the stomach.
  1723. >"AHH! You, BI-GRGHNGH"
  1724. >Not letting him finish, you quickly lean forward and buck with both legs straight to the face.
  1725. >Losing balance and collapsing to his elbows in front of you, wiping away the blood from his beak.
  1726. >*Pant* "I'll..."
  1727. >Spiros rubs his chin and feels around his teeth. He pulls out a bloody tooth and throws it to the side.
  1728. *Huff* "I'll get you..."
  1729.  
  1730. >>
  1731. "Where are all the damn guards?" You think to yourself, sneaking through the campsite.
  1732. >Could they really be that distracted by the speech going on right now?
  1733. >Save for a few here and there they've all migrated to that area. Just makes sneaking around easier.
  1734. >"Steel doesn't know, nor does he care! He just wants his bombs, to make stuff explode, go boom!" He says waving his hands in the air.
  1735. >"Why is that good?" Scootaloo asks, following close behind.
  1736. >Steel seems caught off-guard by her response. Being a Minotaur he never really interacted much with anyone that doesn't think blowing stuff up isn't awesome.
  1737. >"Wh-Why is...well, why are rainbows good? Why are little white rabbits so cuddly? They just are! Don't question it!"
  1738. >"Why shouldn't I? Explosions are only good when they're fireworks, or stuff for the Wonderbolts! Ooo! Or when its the Sonic Rainboom!" Scootaloo says with a glimmer in her eyes.
  1739. "Would you two stop it? Your making too much noise, and I think were getting close!"
  1740. >Your group stops behind a stack of large crates near the treeline.
  1741. >They were large enough to provide concealment from sight of any nearby deranged cult members.
  1742. >Around the corner to the left and not far ahead, lies a large fenced-in area. Secured with barbed wire and several signs that read:"Keep out" and/or "No entry without authorization."
  1743. >Two guards stood at the only entryway, alone with two watchtowers at both sides, holding 4 more guards each equipped with spotlights and crossbows. Entry would be near impossible even with most of the others gone.
  1744. >And even then there is no telling how long they will be...
  1745. "There it is, just gotta find a way in." You say peeking around the corner of your fragile cover.
  1746. >"Well thats easier said then done, Vortex. Or, better yet just fly on in! You have wings!" Steel says.
  1747. >You tap your chin, contemplating the situation.
  1748. >Maybe, just maybe, you /could/ find a spot to fly in...
  1749. >Most of the guards are still gone right? And time is of the essence here...
  1750. >"Hey look! A birdie!" Scootaloo says pointing to a fluttering little bird.
  1751. >It flies towards the area over the armory.
  1752. >Huh...maybe it would be that easy- *PFOOMFM*
  1753. >The unsuspecting bird bursts into flames as it flies over open are around the fence-line, leaving only a few burning feather to float to the ground.
  1754. >"Birdie noo!" Scootaloo cries in shock.
  1755. "Yeah...we need an actual plan... They clearly have a spell barrier around the open area, and I don't know about you two but I like /not/ being on fire."
  1756. >The 3 of you simultaneously place tap your chins as the muffled sounds of Spark's voice ramble on in the background, thinking of the most brilliant plan ever made.
  1757. >Okay, not that good.
  1758. >But still! ...Nah that would suck.
  1759. >Gotta be /something/ you can do...
  1760. >"Steel has a plan!"
  1761. >There was a momentary pause before anyone said anything.
  1762. >"What? Its a really good plan."
  1763. "I don't know. You? A plan? I think your bluffing."
  1764. >Steel scoffs and shrugs off the your comment, putting on a confident face.
  1765. >"What if; now follow me here, what if we take one of those hoods all these ponies wear and we use them as disguises!"
  1766. >Just 1 problem.
  1767. >More accurately, 1 big problem and one little problem.
  1768. >how the hell are you going to convince them that a filly and a Minotaur just suddenly appeared in their ranks?
  1769. "No that would never work, this cult consists mainly of ponies. A Minotaur, not to mention a filly, would be too obvious that something was up."
  1770. >Steel snaps his fingers and goes back to thinking.
  1771. >"Wait! What if only /you/ wear a hood! A-And you... hide us in something?" Scootaloo says hesitantly.
  1772. >"Hmph! Maybe you should let the grown-ups come up with plans little girl. That plan sounds-"
  1773. "Like it could work..."
  1774. >"What?"
  1775. >Not the most original, yes. But, its worth a shot. Isn't it?
  1776. "If I can find a way to hide you two, I can pose as just another guard transporting more items to the armory. And then you would have access to whatever they took from the hideout!"
  1777. >Now that you say it out loud, this plan sounds completely retarded.
  1778. >How the hell could you expect them to just let you in? Given the current situation no doubt they have some kind of policy in place prevent such things...
  1779. >Well, its either that or sit here and wait to get caught...again.
  1780. >But, another problem.
  1781. >Just what the hell could you transport something as big as a Minotaur in?
  1782. >Wait a tick...
  1783. >Your surrounded by large crates, any of them would work!
  1784. >Yeah, a "Trojan pony" kind of thing...
  1785. "The way I see it, were screwed if we just sit here and do nothing. No telling how long that idiot's speech is gonna go on for, and we need to do something while we have a window of opportunity."
  1786. >They both nod in agreement.
  1787. "So, are you both okay with scrunching up in a crate while a drag you to along?" You ask shrugging your shoulders.
  1788. >Again they nod, giving the okay to enact the plan.
  1789. >"Hey Mr. Vortex?" Scootaloo asks, "How are you gonna get a disguise?"
  1790. >Damn. Shes smart.
  1791. >Didn't even think of that!
  1792. >"-For we will stride through, no matter the cost!" Spark's voice echoes.
  1793. >The sound of his voice stops, giving you a healthy dose of reality.
  1794. >No more time to waste. No doubt all the missing guards and cultists would be returning to their posts.
  1795. "Dammit! If we don't come up with something fast we'll-"
  1796. >A random and unfortunate guard comes stumbling out of the trees, sweating and breathing hard.
  1797. >"Ohhh my various new gods, that bean and hay burrito did /not/ sit well...oh dammit I missed the whole thing! I have a feeling that I-uhhhhh..."
  1798. >He locks eyes with yours, and you all fall silent for a solid second.
  1799. >"Just who the hell are you three??"
  1800. "GET'EM!"
  1801. >Steel leaps forward and grabs the guard by the head and leans backward.
  1802. >"ALER-MFMMM! Th-The Pri-" *clunk*
  1803. >"Heh, never butt heads with a Minotaur..." Steel says crossing his arms.
  1804. >This is truly the dumbest of luck. But regardless, you have your disguise. All thats left to do now is the actual execution.
  1805. >Right, the part where you walk up to a group of crazy ponies with weapons and pretend not to be an escaped prisoner.
  1806. >No problem...
  1807. >"You alright there?" Steel asks, seeing your worried expression.
  1808. "I-I'll be fine! I was top in my class in acting school when I was a colt y'know!"
  1809. >In a class of 8, but the top nonetheless.
  1810. >Taking the hood off the unconscious guard, you dawn it on and roll his body back into the trees.
  1811. "Grab one of those crates, make sure you both can fit inside."
  1812. >Steel picks up one of the larger crates and opens it up, emptying out the contents consisting of various foods.
  1813. >Mostly fruits and packages of oats and hay.
  1814. >Setting down the now empty box Steel and Scootaloo both climb inside.
  1815. "Alright, I'm gonna close the lid up. Make sure you two stay lo-" You say attempting to place the lid over them, "Uhh...hmmm..."
  1816. >You look down into the box.
  1817. "Are you two all the way in? Did you empty everything out or not?"
  1818. >"Yeah everything is out! not my fault his horns are in the way!"
  1819. >"Hey! Steel can't help with the way he was born!" Steel says rubbing his horns.
  1820. >You do a solid facehoof. Time is running out and your making too much noise.
  1821. "Listen!" You yell in whisper mode, "Just crane your neck so your horns don't block the lid!"
  1822. >"Ugh!"
  1823. >Steel lowers his head at an awkward angle, with Scootaloo sitting between his forearm and legs.
  1824. >"If you fart..." She says glaring at him.
  1825. >"Shut-up!"
  1826. "Both of you shut-up! Also, as a plan B." You whisper into the crack between the lid and the frame, "If we get caught, both of you take off running in any direction, I'll try and distract them."
  1827. >"Okay." Steel says without missing a beat.
  1828. >Good to know you've got friends...
  1829. >You make a few last minute adjustments to your newly acquired hood, making sure it was on properly too not arouse suspicion.
  1830. "Alright, lets do this." You say taking a breathe, "Celestia help me..."
  1831.  
  1832.  
  1833. >>
  1834. >You make one last look to check of the area leading to the armory was clear.
  1835. >It is, thankfully. You position yourself to begin pushing the crate out into the open, doing your best to look as official as possible.
  1836. >With a heave, you attempt to push the crate along over to the entrance of the armory, doing your best to not knock off your hood.
  1837. "HNGGGG...guh. Why do you two have to weight so much?"
  1838. >"The gains train knows no stops! Size is the prize!" Steel says, his voice muffled by the wooden crate.
  1839. >You tilt the crate up slightly and drop it.
  1840. >"Owe!"
  1841. >Heh heh...
  1842. >Inch by inch, you make your way to the guards posted at the gates leading into the armory.
  1843. >Every inch, and inch closer to you possibly getting beheaded for escaping.
  1844. "UHNNN!" *thud* "Duh...done..."
  1845. >Panting and regaining your breathe, you turn to face the guards who look at you inquisitively, while also examining the box.
  1846. "Evening, uhh gents. Just hear to bring in some more weaponry brought in from the hideout that was raided." You say with a sheepish grin.
  1847. >C'mon, please buy it...
  1848. >The snow white guard scratches his head and adjusts his crimson mane as he looks at the crate and walks around it. Examining it for any markings or damages.
  1849. >Or you would assume so.
  1850. >"From the hideout...right." He says returning to his original spot, "I was informed that place had already been swept."
  1851. >Damn.
  1852. "R-right, well there was a storage room that was overlooked in the initial uhh *ahem* sweep. All good though because we found it."
  1853. >The guards both look at each other then back to you.
  1854. >"Right...so whats in there then? Do you have the contents properly documented?"
  1855. >Damn damn!
  1856. "Well about that, due to the uhh, ur-urgency or rather, time constraints of the portal about to be opened, we were informed to just bring it here and have it all documented at a more prudent time."
  1857. >The two guards look at each other, then back to you and give a hard glare.
  1858. >"Y'know I don't think I've seen you around here before, whats you name?" Says the purple coated grey-maned of the two.
  1859. "Name? Hah! I have one, why wouldn't I?"
  1860. >Your mind races a thousand miles a minute, thinking of a name.
  1861. >Beads of sweat begin forming on your forehead along with a lump in your throat.
  1862. >But wait! Theres a name tag on you!
  1863. "J-Jenkins! My name is Jenkins." You say grabbing the tag and pulling it forward.
  1864. >"Ohhh, your that new guy. No wonder you don't know shit. Well listen, for future ref-"
  1865. >He gets cut off by another voice off in the distance, getting louder as it approaches you.
  1866. "Whose that?" You ask, look toward it's source.
  1867. >"Damn! Its the platoon leader!" Say both guards worryingly.
  1868. >The short stallion power walks his way over, eye twitching.
  1869. >"Hey nasties! Why the fuck are my squad bays fucking disgusting??" He yells, stopping in front of you all.
  1870. >He had a dark brown coat and a mostly black mane save for the grey streak going through it, signifying his age.
  1871. >His cutie mark resembled that of a horseshoe striking the head of another pony.
  1872. >"I asked you a question!"
  1873. >Uh sir, I-I was unaware of-"
  1874. >"SHUT THE FUCK UP! What are you disgusting things being paid for huh?"
  1875. >These ponies are getting paid?
  1876. >Standing there trying to be as invisible as possible, you look on as the guards get their asses chewed.
  1877. >"You morons leave for post, and what do I find when I decide to stop by the squad bays? Trash, unmade beds, hoof-lockers unlocked, dirty uniforms just thrown about!"
  1878. >His jugular veins may as well be exploding out of his neck, this dude has no chill it seems.
  1879. >"S-sir, we had to leave for post a little early f-"
  1880. >"Oh, WHAT?! Tell me I'm wrong! Tell me I'm wrong! Go ahead!" He yells, more veins popping around his neck and head.
  1881. >The guards say nothing and just stand their dumbfounded.
  1882. >"Your here to serve, act like it. We can't be having mishaps like this, especially at such a crucial time!"
  1883. >"Y-yessir!" The guards say in unison
  1884. >Biting your tongue, you try to remain invisible.
  1885. >He turns and gives you a hard look.
  1886. >Damn Damn Damn!
  1887. >"You new?" He asks.
  1888. "Uh, Y-yessir! I'm *gulp* Jenkins." You reply.
  1889. >"Well listen hear Jenkins, I can't be having shit going wrong around here. Its up to you and your fellow members to maintain things when I'm not looking!"
  1890. "Yes sir!"
  1891. >"Now I'm going to be back at the squad bays tomorrow morning, they better be fucking SPOTLESS!" He says stomping his hoof into the ground.
  1892. >"Yessir!" You all respond.
  1893. >Holy shit. Talk about close calls.
  1894. >"I hate him..."
  1895. >"Yeah he fucken sucks."
  1896. >Hopefully that ass tearing was just the distraction you needed to take the focus off how suspicious you are.
  1897. "Uhhh... So, about letting me in?"
  1898. >They both let out a sigh.
  1899. >"Yeah just, give me a minute..." The guard says turning to unlock the massive wooden door.
  1900. >The lock clings and drops to the ground. He leans down to pick it up and motions for you to enter.
  1901. "Thanks guys, looks like after post were in for a long night of cleaning right?" You say with a sheepish grin.
  1902. >"Yeah no shit new guy. Now hurry the hell up."
  1903. >With pleasure...
  1904. >With another heave you push the crate into the entryway, stopping just enough for the crate to be now a few inches from the door.
  1905. >Good, once inside all you have to do is find a good spot open up the crate and let Steel do his thing.
  1906. >Peering over the crate you get a glimpse of whats inside, seeing an array of organized weaponry and stolen artifacts.
  1907. >Mostly your stuff...
  1908. >Bastards.
  1909. >You make another push, getting halfway through the door.
  1910. *ALERT* *ALERT*
  1911. >Your heart skips a beat from the loudspeakers sudden sound.
  1912. *ESCAPED PRISONERS, ALL PERSONNEL PERFORM PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND SEARCH ALL AREAS AND SEAL ALL EXITS*
  1913. >Shit. Shitshitshitshit! Just get in!
  1914. >With another push, you hit a snag, the crate gets caught against the wall.
  1915. "Oh you gotta be kidding me! Hey, help me out with this will ya!"
  1916. >"Fucken new guy!" Says the guard setting aside his spear to assist you.
  1917. >The two of you get the crate unstuck as alarms go off in the distance.
  1918. >C'mon, hurry the hell up!
  1919. >Your heart races and sweat runs down your face as you grow more and more anxious. Just one more big push and your in!
  1920. >"MY Clothes! They took my stuff!!" A voice cries out in the distance.
  1921. >Uh-oh...
  1922. >"Just who the hell are you?" The other guard cries out.
  1923. >"I'm Jenkins! I'm new and I got beat up, please help!"
  1924. >UH-OH!
  1925. >"Jenkins...? Wait a-HEY!"
  1926. "Game over man, GAME OVER! Quick! Steel screw this lets go!"
  1927. >The guards overhead in the towers hears the commotion and fires a barrage of arrows down upon you, barely missing and hitting the top of the crate.
  1928. >"Make way for-AHH!" Steel yells breaking out of the crate and ducking to avoid the arrows.
  1929. "We don't have time for zippy one-liners, shutup and lets go!"
  1930. >With Scootaloo in hand, Steel jumps out of the crate, tripping over himself while doing so.
  1931. >"Gah! Go on without me kid!"
  1932. >Steel launches Scootaloo forward, straight at your chest.
  1933. >"AHHH!" She cries out, being caught by you.
  1934. >You set her down and order her to safety.
  1935. "Get in there, find a place to hide!"
  1936. >"B-but what about-"
  1937. "Just go!"
  1938. >She nods and darts off into the armory.
  1939. >You turn back, seeing the guards holding onto Steel's arms as the archers atop the towers reload their crossbows and take aim.
  1940. >"AH! Get off me you psychotic little bastards! You don't even lift!" Steel cries out as the cultists try to restrain him.
  1941. "Hang on you big dumb idiot!"
  1942. >You leap forward, tackling down one the purple guard and freeing steel's right arm.
  1943. >He lands on the ground with a loud "thud".
  1944. "You alright??"
  1945. >"I'll be alright!" He says grabbing the other pony and flinging him over his head.
  1946. >"Ahhhh!" The white coated pony soars through the air and collides with his companion, getting the air knocked out of him.
  1947. >Looking up at the tower, you see the archer still taking aim.
  1948. >He fires, releasing an arrow straight at the unsuspecting Minotaur.
  1949. >"Ha-HAH! You don't have the gains to contend with me!"
  1950. "Look out!"
  1951. >"What?"
  1952. >You lunge towards him, attempting to take the arrow for him.
  1953. >But you jumped too soon. You fly past and land on the ground a second before the arrow makes impact with Steel's arm.
  1954. >"HNGGG!"
  1955. >That could've gone better...
  1956. >"Stop them!" The guards in the towers cry out as the alarms go blaring in the background.
  1957. "C'mon lets go!"
  1958. >The both of you run into the armory, avoiding any and all other arrows that fly overhead and impact the ground.
  1959. >Making it inside, you both slam the door shut and bar it off with whatever you could find. The watchtowers continued their barrage of arrows, only for them to burn up in the magical barrier surrounding the space above the armory.
  1960. >"Ungh...Vortex...y-you..."
  1961. "Tried to take an arrow for you? I know, pretty heroic eh?"
  1962. >"No! You missed!" He says, holding his arm.
  1963. "Well its the thought that counts right?"
  1964. >"No, taking the arrow. Thats what counts..."
  1965. >He plucks the arrow from his arm and throw it to the ground while you bar the door.
  1966. >"Okay...wheres my stuff?" Steel says talking to himself, examining the surrounding area.
  1967. >"Over here! I found a big thingy!" Scootaloo calls out from the distance.
  1968. >You finish blocking the door with whatever you can. Planks, heavy objects, big ass crates, everything.
  1969. *pants* "Thats all I could," *pant* "move..."
  1970. >You lean against the assortment of items against the door and slide down to your haunches to catch your breath.
  1971. >But whats this? Steel and Scootaloo are nowhere to be found?
  1972. >Dammit! where did they go? gotta find them fast!
  1973. >You spring back to your feet and begin frantically searching for them.
  1974. "Steel! Kid! Where are you...Whoah..."
  1975. >You find them both standing in front of a pile of assorted mana bombs and detonators, stored within cages locked up and sealed within various containers.
  1976. >"WooHoo!" Steel cries out, biting his lip in excitement, "Time to make a bomb!!"
  1977. >He grab hold of the locks on the crates and with his mighty Minotaur strength, break them off one by one.
  1978. "Just make it fast, theres no telling when they'll bust that gate down!"
  1979. >"Well it would be much faster and easier for Steel, if /somepony/ would've stopped the damn arrow!"
  1980. >Scootaloo looks up to you with a disappointing look.
  1981. "Right..."
  1982. >Steel begins to pull and connect an assortment of wires, fashioning together a makeshift detonator.
  1983.  
  1984.  
  1985. >>
  1986. "HRNNGH- GAH!"
  1987. >You roll the griffon of your back and slam him to the dirt. Rocks and dust form a small cloud around him as he slides across the ground.
  1988. >Giving no time for him to recover, you move in to knock his head into the ground.
  1989. >Your punch narrowly misses his beak and he grabs at your neck, locking you in his claw.
  1990. >He locks in his grip with both claws and lifts you off the ground, choking you while he does so.
  1991. >"HNGRUHH!"
  1992. >Spiros lets out a short roar as you flail about attempting to grab at whatever you can.
  1993. >The griffon brushes off your attempts to pummel his face, lifting you higher into the air and throwing himself off balance.
  1994. >He stumbles a bit forward, flaring out his wings while doing so to keep himself on his hind legs.
  1995. >Giving you just the right amount of leverage to get a grip at the tip of his wing.
  1996. "Ugh-gah!" You gasp, desperately taking in a breath.
  1997. >You twist and pull against the wing, and with enough force the bone begins to bend.
  1998. "HnnnGG..." *SNAP*
  1999. >The tip if his wing breaks against the force, letting out a crack like a tree branch in a violent wind.
  2000. >"DAHHH!" He cries out in pain. "You little, HMPH!"
  2001. >He reals back and lunges forward, releasing you from his grip and sending you tumbling and bouncing against the ground.
  2002. >"Hey Spiros, good luck flying straight for awhile, hah!" Elias calls out still observing.
  2003. >"You'll pay, I'll make you dead!"
  2004. >He lets out another roar and charges.
  2005. >You roll to your side to get back to your hooves, barely managing a defense against him as he continues his assault.
  2006. >Having more leverage and weight, he pushes you back down and twists your front right hoof into a lock and pummels at your ribs.
  2007. >"HNNG- GUH, MUH, GAH!!"
  2008. >Each hit sends a wave of pain through your already softened body, making you dry heave with every blow.
  2009. >He lets up for a moment, catching his breath and falling to a knee while keeping your hoof locked.
  2010. >"Finish it already Spiros!" Spark yells from the background.
  2011. >"Don't," *pant* "tell me how to fight!" He snaps back.
  2012. >You use the distraction and his hoof-lock to bring him close.
  2013. >With every ounce of force you can;
  2014. "Take, THIS."
  2015. >You shoot your head up against his chin.
  2016. >His beak clacks together against the blunt force and he leans back now dazed by the hit.
  2017. >Grabbing the back of his head, you lean back and force his forehead against yours in what could be considered the hardest head-butt you've ever given anyone.
  2018. >*CRACK* His head goes against yours, sending him falling backwards and you barely able to keep balance.
  2019. >Your vision blurs and everything is seen in twos and threes. You grab your head and attempt to keep yourself from losing sight of whats in front of you.
  2020. *ESCAPED PRISONERS, ALL PERSONNEL PERFORM PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND SEARCH ALL AREAS AND SEAL ALL EXITS*
  2021. >Alarms go blaring off in the near distance, garnering your attention and keeping you from falling unconscious.
  2022. >The griffon is faring no better, picking himself back up to his elbows and keeping his eyes slammed shut as a trail of blood moves down his face and stains the feathers on his head.
  2023. >Spark looks around, seeing his cultists all running to one end of the compound through the tents in the background.
  2024. >"The armory? But thats where all the..." His eyes go wide when realizes, "That Minotaur! Her stupid friends got into the armory?!"
  2025. >"DEAD!" He cries out, "Every damn guard is dead to me! We have no time for this! Elias, throw her in now!"
  2026. >Elias wastes no time and grabs Pinkie from off the ground and chucks her into the cauldron.
  2027. >"MPH...HMPPH!!" She yelps, muffled through her covered lips.
  2028. >"MPPH, BLMPH..BLAH!" She manages to get the tape off her mouth, "Too hot, TOO HOT!"
  2029. "P-Pinkie...h-hang on. I'm coming..."
  2030. >You attempt to take a step towards the cauldron, falling onto the ground no longer able to carry your own weight.
  2031. >You wince in pain from the impact, your ribs are probably either broken or at least cracked and your head pounded like a drum.
  2032. >Not to mention the faint taste of blood you had in your mouth from the earlier pummeling.
  2033. >Vision still blurry, your barely able to make out the sight in front of you.
  2034. >The unicorns encircled around the flame keep their chanting going, not being deterred or distracted by the noise. Seemingly in a world of their own.
  2035. >A deep green light begins emanating from the cauldron's fluid while Pinkie is inside, letting out a sickly green hue to the atmosphere.
  2036. >"I've heard of bubble baths, but this is too much! HOTHOTHOT!" Pinkie cries in pain.
  2037. >Tears begin welling up in her eyes as she writhes in pain, steam covering most of her face.
  2038. >"Help me Dash!" She cries out through her weeping.
  2039. "I-I'm trying... I can still walk, I can...still..."
  2040. >You drag yourself along the ground desperately attempting to answer your friend's cries for aid, shaking and cringing in pain with every movement.
  2041. >A rippling begins to form over the flames, jolts of energy and lightning crack open a massive tear in reality as the air crackles and seethes with unstable energy.
  2042. >Pinkie cringes and writhes within the cauldron's fluids. Tears stream down her face before she eventually passes out from the pain, her head tilted back against the edge of the cauldron.
  2043. >"YES! I can feel der presence drawing near! Now get ready to face, TRUUE POWUHHHHHH!! AHHHAHAHA!" Jinzo cries out, laughing maniacally while his trinkets and various rings clatter in the violent winds.
  2044. >Your pushed back by the pulse of power, sending you back several feet and further from saving your friend from her impending fate.
  2045. >"Elias! Finish her off and grab Spiros, once the portal opens were going to have to secure the armory to make sure those fools didn't tamper with any of the weaponry!"
  2046. >Elias simply nods, slowly waltzing his way over to you as the wind howls and thunders from the portal beginning to take shape like a whirlpool of fire.
  2047. >He stops next to Spiros, who is still dazed and confused on the ground several feet away.
  2048. >"So much for you getting even, stubborn idiot!"
  2049. >Elias slaps his companion across the face, feeling no remorse for his comrade.
  2050. >"AH! D-damn you...Elias." Spiros hisses and falling back to the ground.
  2051. >"Just watch, I'm gonna get even for both of us..." He says walking towards you.
  2052. >You look up to find him standing over you, or more accurately, 3 of them standing over you.
  2053. >You shut your eyes and shake your head just a bit to snap yourself out of it. Looking up again, you see clearly for a moment.
  2054. >Only to find the image of a griffon reaching down to grab you.
  2055. >He grabs you by your vest and holds you upright, sending a quick jolt of pain through your shoulder and down your wings.
  2056. "SHHHMMMPHFFFAHHhhh..."
  2057. >He tightens his grip and jerks you upward to make eye contact, sending another wave of pain through your body.
  2058. >"Y'know I'm not /that/ bad of a griffon, I'll give you a last word." He says forming a straight hand with his claws aimed directly at your heart.
  2059. >The air continues to swirl around the area. Bolts of energy from the portal striking the ground each more violently then the last while a loud, deep thrum permeates the area as the portal grows and emits a deep crimson glow.
  2060. "HM-" *SNORRT* *PHTOO*
  2061. >"NGUH?!"
  2062. "Fuck you..."
  2063. >He grunts, wiping your bloody spit from his cheek, "Fine then!" He grabs your neck with both if his claws and squeezes, clamping your airways shut tight.
  2064. >"I"LL JUST CHOKE YOU TO DEATH!"
  2065. >You grab at his claws around your neck, desperately trying to break free.
  2066. >The injuries sustained up till now were taking their toll, making you all but helpless in his grip.
  2067. >You retch and gag, gasping for any amount of vital air. Your hind legs flail about trying to get any leverage to kick him off, but it was no use.
  2068. >He slams you into the ground, knocking the back of your head into the dust and obscuring your breathing even further.
  2069. >Your body grows weaker and weaker with each passing second, and so do your attempts to break free. All feeling seemingly leaves your body and everything begins to go black.
  2070. >"Shh, shh, go to sleep...it will be over soon..." He whispers into your ear, "Just let it take hold, let it envelop you..."
  2071. >Elias takes notice of his efforts, seeing your eyes begin to roll back.
  2072. >"Hah! Yes! I'll be the one who is remembered as the griffon that killed an Element of Harmony!"
  2073. >He laughs triumphantly, proud of his moment of glory.
  2074. >"Elias! In front of you lookout!" Spark calls to him.
  2075. >"Lookout for wha-HMPPHPHMP!!"
  2076. >Elias is grabbed by the mouth, his beak and half his face covered.
  2077. >"Change of plans!" Steel cries out, lifting him off you.
  2078. "G-UHHHHH!!"
  2079. >You immediately breath in, gasping for the air you've been so deprived of, borderline hyperventilating to get back your breathe.
  2080. *Cough* "Ugh," *wheeze* "What took you so long?"
  2081. >Steel doesn't answer, just gives a smirk and thumbs up before throwing the snarky griffon directly at Jinzo.
  2082. >"AHHHHH!"
  2083. >"What in-GUHH!"
  2084. >Elias crashes headfirst into the zebra, knocking over the cauldron and sending the two of them tumbling off to the side.
  2085. >The cauldron's contents dump out all over the ground, the green glow emitting from it's fluids quickly fade as it is absorbed by the earth.
  2086. >Pinkie rolls out along the ground in front of the flame, still unconscious and covered in the green goop.
  2087. >Steel kneels down, picking your head up and examining your injuries.
  2088. >"Dash, are y-"
  2089. "Get Pinkie!!" You cry out.
  2090. >Steel looks back up to see the pink earth pony laying on the ground and sets down your head to sprint over to grab her.
  2091. >"Dash!" Vortex cries out, running to your side along with Scootaloo, "Were here to help!".
  2092. >Having caught your breath, you attempt to lean up only to stop yourself. Your ribs hurt too much to do much moving.
  2093. >"And look!" Scootaloo says, "We even got your thingies for you!"
  2094. >Scootaloo bends down and shakes off a belt from her back with two holsters attached.
  2095. "Ebony, Ivory..."
  2096. >Steel is stopped in his tracks by a magic missile hitting the ground in his path, a small plume of black smoke wafting in the wind still being generated by the portal.
  2097. >This catches your attention, seeing Steel stand still while Spark aims his horn, glowing with energy at him.
  2098. >"No!" Spark yells out, "I will not be stopped! Not by a bunch of idiots like you! The portal will still be opened!"
  2099. >The blue aura around his horn glows ever so slightly brighter, being easy to see among the red hue given off by the portal.
  2100. >Almost like a target...
  2101. >"You won't, you CAN'T! I have come too far!"
  2102. >You grab both Ebony and Ivory in your hooves and aim directly at the glowing blue light, doing your absolute best to keep steady through your shaking. Your body is still very weak.
  2103. >"Don't you get it though? Tartarus is sealed away for a reason, the things in there will only kill you!" Steel says, attempting to talk some sense into the deranged unicorn.
  2104. >Thats it, keep him talking...
  2105. "H-help me aim, I-I'm shaking too much."
  2106. >"On it!" vortex says, grabbing your hooves to keep them steady whilst staying out of your vision.
  2107. "C'mon, c'mon! A little closer..."
  2108. >You try to line the sights up, but you can only see so clearly through the wind and dust.
  2109. >"Shut-up! I don't care what happens to anypony, or whoever else in this world! I've already lost everything, and now everyone will know what that feels like!"
  2110. >"Uhh, Dash..."
  2111. >Almost...
  2112. >Spark's horn lights up brighter.
  2113. >"Now, just-DIE!"
  2114. >*BANG*
  2115. >Spark's horn flashes with a blue light and explodes like a fire cracker from a shot of rainbow colored energy. Tiny blue and white sparks fall to the ground from the smoking stub that was once his horn.
  2116. >"AHHH! Wh-what in...m-my horn??"
  2117. "Got it!"
  2118. >Spark falls back to his haunches and feels around his forehead.
  2119. >"M-MY HORN!! What have you done!?" He cries, feeling his horn now shattered.
  2120. >Wasting no time, Steel grabs Pinkie and brings her back over to your group, carrying her in his arms.
  2121. "Is she okay?? Is she gonna be alright?!"
  2122. >You look at her seemingly lifeless body as Steel and Vortex both begin to unravel the ropes from her body.
  2123. >"Easy around the legs, slowly now..." Steel says.
  2124. >Tears begin forming as you look on, seeing the burn wounds on her legs.
  2125. >You bring yourself upright, completely forgetting about your own injuries and only caring about hers.
  2126. "Oh no, oh no-no-no-no!! P-Pinkie *sniff* Pie!"
  2127. >Scootaloo's reaction isn't much different, quietly sniffing and covering her mussel as she looks on as well.
  2128. >You bite your lip and shut your eyes, hoping wildly that your friend is okay.
  2129. >"Look!" Scootaloo says.
  2130. >You slowly open one eye, afraid to accept the possible outcome.
  2131. >Pinkie's eyes open-up and dart back and forth.
  2132. >"Dash...? Dash is that you?" She says, slowly coming back.
  2133. "Pinkie?" You wipe the tears from your eyes and beam at your friend "YOUR OKAY!!"
  2134. >"I'm okay!!"
  2135. >Save for the burns...
  2136. "Your alive!!"
  2137. >"I'm alive!!"
  2138. >You grab her and hug as tight as you can.
  2139. "I'm so glad that- OWE!"
  2140. >You wince, forgetting about your injured ribs and release her from your hug.
  2141. "Heh, f-forgot heh heh...unf! It hurts to laugh."
  2142. >"Th-thats okay Dashie, me too. Ungh..." Pinkie cringes in pain from the burns.
  2143. >You give a sheepish grin and wipe away one last tear from your eye.
  2144. "I'm just glad..."
  2145. >The moment however, is abruptly interrupted.
  2146. >The portal was closing, crackling and releasing violent bursts of thunderous energy while it collapses in on itself.
  2147. >"Nooo..." Spark whispers to himself, "NNOOOOOO!!"
  2148. >He reaches his hoof out to the portal, desperate for it to stay open.
  2149. >The swirling rift suddenly stops, pulsating a last bit of power before shrinking to a point of white light.
  2150. >The point pulses once again, small bolts of lightning shooting out form it while it does so.
  2151. >"This-cannot-be!"
  2152. >The point of light flashes briefly, lighting up the whole area and disappears into dust and particles of light. Leaving only the moon and small embers from the now extinguished bonfire to illuminate the area.
  2153. >"What just happened?" Scootaloo asks, hiding behind you.
  2154. >"Without it's power source, it was unable to sustain itself and collapsed." Vortex says.
  2155. >The circle of unicorns all snap out of the trance they were in and begin to look around, wondering what had just transpired.
  2156. >"Did it work?" One asks.
  2157. >"I don't know, it doesn't look like it..." Another replies.
  2158. >"No." Spark says sitting and staring into the ground in defeat, "It didn't work...my plan, didn't work."
  2159. >"So...what do we do now?" Another cultist asks.
  2160. >"I don't care...just leave. Go home. I. Don't. Care."
  2161. >The unicorns all look at each other questioningly and shrug.
  2162. >"Well, if theirs nothing more you want from us, I guess we'll go. I'm sorry we couldn't-"
  2163. >"Just go. Begone already." Spark snaps.
  2164. >"Very well..."
  2165. >Slowly one-by-one they begin to walk away, disappearing into the brush and into the night.
  2166. >"Uhm...shouldn't we be stopping them?" Steel asks.
  2167. "Let'em go. They were just played on, not really evil by nature. Besides, I don't think we can exactly capture them in the state were in anyway..."
  2168. >You turn to Spark, who is still sitting in defeat.
  2169. >The two griffons and the zebra lay unconscious on the ground, Spiros from the headbutt, Elias and Jinzo from mashing into one another.
  2170. >Them however, they all need to be taken in and put in jail. Hopefully forever...
  2171. >One question still remains however.
  2172. >How the hell did they get here in the nick of time, /and/ get your weapons??
  2173. "How did you guys get here anyway? What happened at the armory?" You ask.
  2174. >"Hey Steel." Vortex says.
  2175. >"Yeah?" Steel replies.
  2176. >"Exactly how long did you set those mana bombs for...?"
  2177. >Steel's eyes go wide and his jaw drops, having completely forgotten about that.
  2178. >"Uh-oh..."
Rainbow Dash Crossover OC

Anon joins the guard (WIP)

by Mshakezilla

Dash's orders

by Mshakezilla

Pinkie's time

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Doctor's orders

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Lessons in the way of Horsiery

by Mshakezilla