Oct 12th, 2016
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  1. >2012
  2. http://tinyurl.com/90DayBrawl
  4. >"You're not coming back next year. I hope you understand that, between your poor attendance, grade point average, and athletic contributions to the school, that there's virtually no way for the dean of Crystal Prep to accept your entry into grade 9."
  5. >Your lip curls up into a snarl
  6. >You try to ignore her as you pack up your backpack
  7. >Why is she doing this just as summer break is getting out?
  8. >But Sugarcoat ignores you. She looks you in the eye as she leans against the locker next to yours
  9. >"I mean it. You're never going anywhere in your life. Your grades are abysmal, a disgrace to these crystal halls. You have the most tardies of anyone in our class too, insulting all of us with your record. And finally, despite it being a requirement, you can't physically perform to match the rest of the school either. Your failure at the track meet left a bad taste in our mouths and cast a shadow over our reputation."
  10. >Staring at your backpack is all you can do
  11. >It's not like you can argue that she's wrong or anything, you are kind of pathetic
  12. >"Indigo Zap."
  13. >With a sigh, you continue packing up your locker, one piece of scrap paper at a time
  14. >"Indigo Zap, I'm trying to talk to you, but you aren't listening. Should we add social incompetence to your list of shortcomings?"
  15. >You glare at her
  16. >Why literally the end of school?
  17. "Yeah, whatever, I already applied to CPA for next year."
  18. >Sugarcoat shakes her head. "I don't believe they'll let you in. I think you should consider attending a different high school for the rest of your academic career." She adjusts her glasses and puts on a small smile. "I've heard Canterlot High retroactively takes Crystal Prep credits at a grade higher. You'd excel there where you struggled here."
  19. >You grunt back at her and turn your back
  20. >"Indigo Zap, I'm serious. Don't come back."
  21. >You glare back at her over your shoulder. "Why's that?"
  22. >She tightens her arms around her belly, scowling at you. She moves closer, propping up her glasses on the tip of her fingers.
  23. >For the first time you've ever heard, she whispers, "No one wants a stupid fat girl at Crystal Prep."
  24. >Your glare melts and you slowly look down
  25. >Yeah, your shirt bulges out a bit
  26. >And it's hard to tuck your shirt in sometimes
  27. >Sometimes it's hard to walk up stairs, and you admit you'd want to pick your panties out from your big butt, and you get sweaty a lot-
  28. >Maybe she's on to something
  29. >Maybe you're a lot fatter than you thought. You just didn't think anyone noticed as much as you did, that maybe you were exaggerating
  30. >But as you watch slim, attractive Sugarcoat walk away, you can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, you've been going easy on yourself
  31. "Yeah, well-"
  32. >"You're a failure!"
  33. >You recoil and your stomach sinks, deep in your fat belly
  34. "I uh, I can still get in!"
  35. >You fish around in your backpack. You saw something...
  36. >Yeah
  37. >You hold up a flier and point to it
  38. "The uh, the Regional Triathalon!" Biking, running, and swimming. The three things you're the worst at
  39. >Sugarcoat scoffs. "You're a terrible liar, Indigo Zap. You don't even look like you've convinced yourself."
  40. >Her back is still to you, though
  41. "You... You aren't even looking at me!" The flier gets crunched in your fist
  42. >She looks back at you, her expression bored now. "I didn't need to. That look of desperation and fear are exactly what I imagined."
  43. >A bead of sweat rolls down your neck
  44. "Y-yea-"
  45. >"Give up already. You're a pathetic fat girl, and that's all you'll ever be." Sugarcoat reaches out and presses a hand against your doughy belly. With a flick of the wrist, she switches to rolling your belly between her fingers and thumb
  46. >The sudden contact makes you flush in embarrassment, and you have to look away from her intense gaze
  47. >ffs
  48. >"Stop trying to keep up with us and quit. You're only going to make a fool of yourself and CPA if you continue. Go somewhere where your failure of a self can accomplish something. A fat... Fat ass like you will never be a good enough athlete to get in on your marks."
  49. >Sugarcoat lets go and pushes you with the same hand. You almost fall back on your butt
  50. >You quietly watch Sugarcoat reach into your vest pocket and grab some tissues
  51. >She starts pulling one after the other out until she has a fat handful of cheap tissue paper
  52. >Then she tosses the rest on the ground
  53. "S-sugarcoat, come on..." You squat down to pick it up, and a big ball of paper bounces off of your forehead
  54. >"That was because I grabbed your greasy gut."
  55. >You look up at her. She's crossing her arms already
  56. >"Quit. Crystal. Prep."
  57. >Before you can say anything, she turns on her heel and starts walking
  58. >You can't make yourself do anything but watch her walk
  59. >She's gone
  60. >No more yelling
  61. >Sniff
  62. >No more... Fat... Truth?
  63. >You put your face in your empty hand and quietly sob in the hallway
  64. >Summer's starting
  66. >You kick a can on your way home
  67. >Sniffle
  68. >Fuck Sugarcoat, though, man
  69. >You can too get into CPA if you try hard enough
  70. >You sigh and gulp as you step onto your stoop
  71. >Looking up, all you can see is the tiny house you live in with mom
  72. >You once heard that parents of kids who go to CPA get better jobs almost overnight
  73. >Since you two can barely pay to live here, maybe that means your mom won't have to stress as much
  74. >You shake your head and grab the knob, heading in
  75. >Anyway, you're getting in. For mom, for you
  76. >"Inigo!"
  77. >Not even half way in, and she's calling from the kitchen
  78. "Yeah ma!?" You slip off your shoes, unsling your backpack, and untuck your fucking shirt so you can scratch at your belly. Fucking starch
  79. >"What time do you want to see your father!?"
  80. "I don't wanna!" You wander into the dark living room and plop down, flipping through channels
  81. >"Inny!"
  82. >You sit upright and throw your head back. "What!?"
  83. >"C'mere!"
  84. >You groan and roll to your feet. You just want to relax!
  85. >Plodding around a bit, you follow the sounds of stirring and sizzling to the kitchen
  86. >Your mom stands there, hand on waist as she stirs something. For some reason, she has her hair, your hair, braided in a ponytail
  87. >"Inny!"
  88. >You pull out a chair and slump into it, setting your chin over your arms. "What, mom, god."
  89. >She looks back at you, blinks, and grins
  90. >"Welcome home, sweet pea. How was school?"
  91. "Good, I guess, whatever."
  92. >You start remembering Sugar again, but other shit she's pulled
  93. >Before you can start down that way, Ma butts in
  94. >"Made your favorite, hun. Chicken and gravy and mashed 'tatoes!" She grins back at you
  95. >You look up from her from where you have your head set down, and she turns the heat down
  96. >Ma steps next to you and puts a hand down over your back, rubbing nice and gentle
  97. >"What happened, sweet pea?" She whispers as she pulls some strands of hair out of your face
  98. >Grunt
  99. >Ma looks at dinner for a sec, but then grabs a chair
  100. >"Tell mama. Was it that cow titted Sour Sweet again?"
  101. >You shake your head, looking away as your eyes start burning and your throat starts closing up
  102. >Ma coos, shushing the tears away as she rubs at your back
  103. >"Maybe Sugarcoat? That little shit? She giving you a hard time?"
  104. >You nod and close your eyes
  105. >"Aw..." Ma kisses the side of your head and hugs you
  106. >You sniffle again. Ffs you're gonna cry at this rate
  107. >But Ma hugs you and rubs your back
  108. >Ma pulls you close and squeezes. "Mama's here, sweet pea, you ain't gotta worry about that little twerp."
  109. >She pulls you out to arm's length and grins extra wide. "Hey, guess what?"
  110. >You blink and rub at your eyes with one of your sleeves
  111. "What, Ma?"
  112. >Ma throws her hands up, still grinning. "It's summer break!" She pats her hands down on her knees. "Whatcha gonna do?"
  113. >You sniffle and rub at your face
  114. >It's summer break
  115. "Practice, I guess."
  116. >"For what...?"
  117. >You pull out the flier again, holding it out for her
  118. >She gasps. "That looks like a triathalon!"
  119. >You nod. "Yeah?"
  120. >Ma takes the flier, and reads it closer. "You can't do any of this..."
  121. >You groan and slam your head back on the table, over your arms
  122. >Ma chuckles and leans next to you again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that..."
  123. >"I just didn't expect my little Inny to go running and jumpin and shit." Ma moves closer, and kisses your cheek
  124. >But then she blows and makes that stupid fart noise
  125. >And you reflexively laugh, swatting her away
  126. >Ma chuckles and stands, letting you wipe at your cheek with the back of your sleeve
  127. >She goes back to stirring the potatoes
  128. >You look down at the flier
  129. >Running, swimming, and biking
  130. >You'll need to come out at least tenth place to get in the newspaper
  131. >But CPA doesn't care about tenth
  132. >Only first place gets a high school scholarship
  133. >You glance up at Ma
  134. >She's humming to herself as she cooks
  135. >The rest of the house is kinda dirty
  136. >It's a small crap shack out in West Canterlot. Just you and Ma and the bed you both share.
  137. "H-how was work, Ma?"
  138. >Ma sighs. You listen to her complain about her jobs
  139. >CPA isn't cheap. You know Ma easily put you through grade school, but middle school has been harder
  140. >And you hear high school will be at least five times as much
  141. >You stare down at the flier
  143. >Now full, you sit down at the dinner table, planner in hand, and pull out a pen
  144. >Time to schedule your totally awesome workout schedule for the Regional Triathalon
  145. >...
  146. >You grab your tablet
  147. >Time to research awesome workout schedules!
  148. >Google, google...
  149. >Hm, let's see...
  150. >'How 2 lose wait'
  151. >How to lose weight
  152. >Articles...
  153. >Uh
  154. >Hm, 'Lose weight the easy way!' 'Drop fifty pounds in fifty days!' 'The miracle work out that MELTS the weight away!'
  155. >ffffffffffffffuck, this is all stupid
  156. >It's just a buncha ads! What can you do with ads?
  157. >Augh, you need like a real work out plan, and all you find is these stupid articles of clickbait and stuff, you can't use that!
  158. >Uh, but what else can you do?
  159. >Where do people get fit?
  160. >...Gyms, yeah, okay
  161. >Yeah, forget work out plans!
  162. >You can get super in shape by getting pro advice from a gym guy, like Rocky did!
  163. >Sorta
  164. >Google: 'gyms'
  165. >Hey, there's a lot
  166. >Hey, there's one in your neighborhood!
  167. >Open everyday, 6 am to 10 pm
  168. >Damn, you're probs not gonna be working out all day, but that's convenient
  169. >Aw man
  170. >You're gonna need new undies
  171. >And like other clothes, too, since you'll be sweating so much
  172. >Can't really wear your usual stuff to work out...
  173. >In public
  174. >Your cheeks flush with blood, growing hot at the idea of someone noticing you working out out there
  175. >Now that you think of it, you'll probably be running around a lot, outside
  176. >Everyone will see your... Your belly and butt as you run
  177. >You grab your face and groan
  178. >They already jiggle when you walk up and down the stairs too fast...
  179. >Agh!
  180. >You slide away your tablet ad pull out your planner
  181. >Okay so, like your summer is basically empty
  182. >The first of June, July and August is the usual HSHW tournies
  183. >And... Yeah that's it
  184. >There's a concert in July, but you probs won't have enough cash for that
  185. >After buying all this shid
  186. >Does a gym membership cost snything?
  187. >Tablet says... Yes, fourty a month
  188. >Fourty a month! What? That's insane!
  189. >You grab your forehead
  190. >Damn...
  191. >Maybe you don't need new clothes...
  192. >You grab a calculator and some scratch paper
  193. >Jiggling
  194. "Ah!"
  195. >Your stuff goes flying
  196. >"You kay!?"
  197. "Yeah, ma!"
  198. >You grab up your stuff and keep working
  199. >Ignore that image, count
  200. >Ugh
  201. >Gym membership is 40/month, tourney entry is 20 each, new shoes... You'll worry about them later, you guess
  202. >Uh...
  203. >Can't... Really think of anything else, for like money, anyways
  204. >So you need... 200 for this summer
  205. >No wait, 180
  206. >Hunh
  207. >You hop up and pace to your little lockbox under the bed, mostly ignoring mom laying down and reading a magazine
  208. >Hm... You have... 50 bucks. And a 5 dollar credit for entering the next tourney
  209. >Ah, okay
  210. >You lay down in bed and stare at the ceiling
  211. >Ma leans toward you and points out an article
  212. >"Lookie here, work out tips."
  213. >You raise your brow and look at it
  214. >Looks like some work out style from... Literally who?
  215. >Oh!
  216. "Da fug?" It's the actress who played Daring Do!
  217. >Ma offers up the article and you snatch it up, reading it up and down
  218. >What's her secret!? She was so slim and hot!
  219. >Interview, interview, interview, movie news- Oh, new movie in 2016?
  220. >Hunh, that's cool... Summer 2016, and she's already filming for it...
  221. >Wait, no, the work out! The work out!
  222. >Where is it!
  223. >Ah, okay, okay
  224. >Okay, so, you're supposed to start slow?
  225. >Workout only a few days a week, yeah, makes sense
  226. >Workout until you can handle the workout, then move to a heavier workout routine
  227. >Yeah, okay
  228. >Make sure you eat no... Sweets, or oily food, or greasy food...
  229. >Ah, yeah...
  230. >You lay down again
  231. >"Ya saw the bad part, huh?"
  232. >You nod and hold up the article again
  233. >Workout, push yourself, eat better
  234. >What do you eat?
  235. >Low fat meats, whole grains, nuts and fruits
  236. >Yeah, sure...
  237. "Bluh."
  238. >Ma chuckles at you, and you glare at her
  239. >She starts laughing harder and pulls her phone out to snap a pic of you being angry
  240. >Augh, you gotta roll over to look away from her
  241. >She giggles some more and lays closer to you, probably so she can apologize
  242. >"Sorry sweet pea, but you know how cute you look when you're angry."
  243. >You groan louder, pulling your pillow into your face and dropping the magazine
  244. >You keep on groaning while ma hugs you from behind, squeezing around your belly
  245. >Still angry groaning into the pillow, you start trashing around when she smooches your cheek while giggling
  246. >Eventually, your kicking and screaming tuckers you out, and you lay slack against the bed
  247. >Breath. Not... Coming
  248. >You flop your pillow onto mom, who's pulled away by now
  249. >And she's still laughing, as you pant for air, sweaty
  251. >You lay in bed a little while, letting ma hug you
  252. >Ma leaves after a minute so she can catch her shows, leaving you alone in bed
  253. >One more time, you look at the article
  254. >This time, you carefully read it, just so your dense head gets it
  255. >And you make sure to grab the light next to the bed
  256. >'The number one tip I can give is to find a reason to get fit. I didn't do it just for the movie, I did it for my own sake.'
  257. >Time to sit up
  258. >'It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. There was a lot of pain the first month or so. Exhaustion, fatigue, I wanted to sleep all the time, but I needed to get that work out in.'
  259. >Your eyes narrow
  260. >'I had to lose fifteen pounds in one month, and then put the rest into muscle... It was hard, but it wasn't impossible. Seemed like it, sometimes.'
  261. >Slowly, you lower the magazine and raise your head
  262. >Looking across the room, you see your chubby face in the mirror. You're still in your uniform, and you still have your ponytail tied down low
  263. >Even in the dim light of your lamp, you can see your belly through your long sleeve shirt, and your soft arms, and how your thighs sink into the mattress
  264. >It's not impossible
  265. >For you to change
  266. >Get fit
  267. >Fight your way into CPA
  268. >You set the magazine down on ma's half of the bed and lay down
  269. >You need to get in shape
  270. >Ma needs you to get in shape
  271. >You close your eyes and take a deep breath
  272. >Ma's counting on you to get a good education
  273. >That's your reason to get fit, and no other
  274. >You squeeze your eyes shut and roll over
  275. >Not cause you hate how you look or you're pathetic in every way you can think of
  276. >You're doing it for ma. She works really hard for you to go to a good school and get C's in everything
  277. >She does it cause she thinks you can do good if you get the chance
  278. >Augh...
  279. >You're already crying into a pillow, again
  281. >12:58 am
  282. >You haven't cried in a while now
  283. >Ma's already snuggled up to you again, and she pulled the covers up over you both for bed
  284. >12:59 am
  285. >Sugarcoat's voice comes back
  286. >"You're not coming back."
  287. >You'd cry again if you could
  288. >She's right
  289. >When you fail that stupid triathalon, you're gonna be stuck at CHS
  290. >1:00 am
  291. >You close your eyes and sigh
  292. >Maybe some music to cheer you up
  293. >You wiggle away from ma and grab your slippers and some sweat pants
  294. >Oh those are for exercising
  295. >Maybe you'll bring them tomorrow
  296. >Living room...
  297. >You grab your backpack and snatch up your walkman
  298. >Slowly, you ease into the couch while the track buffers
  300. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7VLgEhiBxA
  302. >Aaaah, now this is good shit
  303. >Yeah
  304. >Just lean back and enjoy
  305. >This... This is 'it'
  306. >Like the one moment when you can like
  307. >Ya know?
  308. >Just stop being worried or notice things
  309. >Just be a different you
  310. >A cool, calm you, ya know?
  311. >Aaaaaaaaah...
  312. >Just let yourself sag into the couch and bob to the rhythm
  313. >If only you could feel like this all the time
  314. "Mm..."
  315. >You should make a workout mix
  316. >For tomorrow...
  317. >You yawn and pick yourself up, walking to the computer
  318. >Poke. It's booting, while you relax with your music
  319. >Your hand is under your chin as you stare
  320. >Wiiiiiiindooooooooooows
  321. >1998
  322. >Computer is as old as you... Yawn
  323. >That's your favorite part, same age
  324. >You grab up a cord and plug your mixtape maker into the computer holes
  325. >Whatever they're called... Wuh, you're getting tired already
  326. >But that's alright, this'll be quick
  327. >As soon as you have a new blank in hand, you're already picking out good songs
  328. >Aah... This this that and this...
  329. >You work as fast as you can, but you're fading quick
  330. >Done
  331. >Record...!
  332. >The blank starts spinning. Computer is making mixtape. Computers are cool
  333. >You shove your hands into your pockets and stare at the glowing screen
  334. >Windowsssssssssss... 98
  335. >Your eyes close
  337. >Sniff
  338. >Eggs?
  339. >Augh, ffs, your face
  340. >Sitting up pops your back
  341. >Looking around...
  342. >Living room? You fell asleep here?
  343. >At the computer?
  344. >What's this mix tape?
  345. >Oh oops, you fell asleep at your computer
  346. >What time... 6 in the morning!
  347. >Eggs at 6, what the fug?
  348. >Your feet cross over each other, and you stumble out of the chair
  349. >But don't fall over
  350. "Maaaaa?"
  351. >Your dry throat cracks a bit
  352. >"Kitchen, sweet pea!"
  353. >Aight
  354. >So you slowly wander on over to the kitchen
  355. >And... Notice a few bags near the front door as you do
  356. >Weird
  357. >Mom's already setting down a plate of eggs and toast when you get in
  358. "Ey ma."
  359. >Ma grins and sits down
  360. >"Breakfast!"
  361. >You slowly take your usual seat, plopping into it. "Yeah... Why so early?"
  362. >Yawning starts happening now, getting you then ma
  363. >"I wanted my little Inny to get a good start on her summer!"
  364. "Summer, right."
  365. >Right, yer gonna... Do this summer thing
  366. >You slowly blink and pick up a forkful of eggs
  367. >"I think you can do it, Inny."
  368. >You rub at your eyes and then you're looking at Ma
  369. >She slides over a cup
  370. >Uh
  371. "Coffee?"
  372. >"Yup!" Ma stands up and picks your empty plate and hers
  373. >You stare at the cup
  374. >It smells okay
  375. >Sniff sniff
  376. >Pretty good, actually
  377. >How bad can it taste?
  378. >Okay...
  379. >Maybe a little more...
  380. >You stare at the bottom of your coffee cup, fully awake and sniff
  381. "Bretty gud."
  382. >Ma pats your head and grabs the cup
  383. >"I'm headin to work. The bags at the door are all for you! And an old friend of mine is gonna call you, so if you get a weird phone number, try answering, kay?"
  384. >You nod and drink up the last few drops in your cup
  385. "Kay."
  386. >Ma reaches over and kisses your forehead and then hustles out the front door
  387. >You watch the empty space where she was
  388. >Time to go, too...
  389. >Okay so these bags Ma left for you
  390. >Dafaq is this?
  391. >It's a bunch of old clothes from the 80s
  392. >Tights, leg warmers, high top sneakers, scrunchies!
  393. >Scrunchies!
  394. >This is kickass!
  395. >You hold out a big shirt with a huge neck hole
  396. "Heaven and Hell Live 1982... I love you ma."
  397. >You grab up the bags and hug them all the way back to your room
  398. >Dropping them on the bed, you start dumping them out
  399. >Okay so what do we really have...
  400. >A bunch of those old tights and unitards to go with them
  401. >Like twenty pairs of leg warmers-
  402. >VELCRO
  403. >SNEAKERS?????
  405. >Huh?
  406. >A base ball bat?
  407. >You hold it up. It's wooden, and theres a dark blue star spray painted on the side near the top
  408. >Weird...
  409. >Oh, there's something written on the tape handle... Hm...
  410. >Blueberry Pop <3
  411. >Whoa
  412. "Mom, why did you give me all this cool shit... I love you so much."
  414. >Alright, so one quick shower, and you're staring at all this stuff
  415. >You're pretty sure that... These shorts are for jogging, yeah
  416. >Aaaaaaaaand, these shoes are good for running
  417. >And... This... Is a sports bra? You think?
  418. >Tee shirt to top everything off... And damn, this all fits nice
  419. >Was Ma fat like you?
  420. >The bat catches your eye, the big blue star sticking out against mom's bat and the white sheets
  421. >That's not blue
  422. >You pick up the bat, again, surprising yourself at how light it feels
  423. >You pull a lock of still damp hair up and look at it with the star behind
  424. >Your hair disappears
  425. >This
  426. >You grin
  427. >This is an Indigo Star, and your Ma gave it to you
  428. >One of these bags is a duffle bag
  429. >Inside is a few base balls, a second pair of sneakers and an empty water bottle
  430. >All new... Er, unused
  431. >You put away Indigo Star and wipe your hands together
  432. >You're gonna hit the batting cages real soon
  433. >But first
  434. >You snatch up your headphones and your walkman and your new mixtape...
  435. >And uh, a few bucks
  436. >Oh right, your keys
  437. >You reach inside and grab those, and lock up. Time to work out...
  438. >Uh, so you just jog?
  439. >You look down at your sneakers and then your hands
  440. >Ball up your hands, and move, you guess?
  441. >Right down the walkway from your house...
  442. >So you just hustle down to the sidewalk
  443. >Fug, you suck, you're already breathing heavy
  444. >But, this is it, you're not gonna quit
  445. >Left, right...
  446. >Around South Canterlot or into Central Canterlot...
  447. >Huff
  448. >The uh, gym is near your house
  449. >So you turn left and put one foot in front of the other, feeling your thick thighs rubbing against each other
  450. >They're heating up, but that classic 80's design keeps your thighs from rubbing up
  451. >You can't breathe, but you smile and keep moving, twice as fast as you usually do
  452. >So a jog
  453. >What you think is a casual pace
  454. >But its fast for you!
  455. >Its fast for you!
  456. >Your lungs are burning up
  457. >And your throat is drying
  459. >You're dead
  460. >You're so fugging dead, you're gonna die, you're gonna die
  461. >Its only been ten blocks
  462. >This bus stop is a godsend
  463. >You can't breathe
  464. >You keep trying, but fug, it's hard
  465. >Augh, the third bus is coming
  466. >Third in a row
  467. >"You gotta learn how to pace yaself, blue."
  468. >You cough a little and look at the girl sitting next to you
  469. >Some big pink girl
  470. >Peace sign
  471. >You return it and cough some more
  472. >She leans over and rubs at your back
  473. >"My dad runs a gym. If ya ask nice enough, I think he'll give ya some advice to get fit!"
  474. >You take another breath and look at her
  475. >She's smiling extra wide, showing off her kinda fugged up teeth
  476. >You smile back
  477. "U-uh..." You cough again, and then something cold touches your lap
  478. >A water bottle
  479. >You rip it open
  480. >"Wait!"
  481. >It's already at your lips, but you stop
  482. >"Nice 'n slow, blue." She chuckles.
  483. >You quietly sip at the icy water while you listen to your new friend (?)
  484. >She's a big girl, with tons of lime green hair
  485. >She's really fit too, but she seems proud of you for trying to lose weight
  486. >It's p great
  487. >"So what's yer circuit?"
  488. >You furrow your brow
  489. "My what?"
  490. >She chuckles
  491. >"Yer circuit! Your routine! Where do you start, where do you stop? Do you run back, or do you take a jog back?"
  492. "Uh." You feel your cheeks heat up. Is a circuit important?
  493. "I-I dunno, I just started."
  494. >She blinks a few times. "Whoa, and how far'd you get on yer first run?"
  495. >Run
  496. >Jog
  497. >S-same thing
  498. "Uhm... T-ten blocks."
  499. >She raises her brow at you. "Uh... Aight, das coo."
  500. >You look away, your cheeks burning up
  501. >F-fug
  502. >You're not gonna cry
  503. >"I mean, it's not far, but I think it's good that you're willin to try."
  504. >You pause and look at her
  505. >She grins again
  506. >You grin. "Thanks. I'm trying my best, ya know?"
  507. >"I getchu, I getchu... You should come to my dad's gym, really. He'll help you if you mention me!"
  508. >You nod, grinning ear to ear
  509. "I'd love to!" You frown. "Oh, but I don't ha-"
  510. >"Don worry bout cash." She winks
  511. >"Cute girl like you deserves everythin."
  512. >Your face flushes and you slowly look away, feeling your breath hasten a little again
  513. >She chuckles, tapping your shoulder with her big fist
  514. >"Jus teasin!" She sets her hand down on the bench now
  515. >You frown at her, and she chuckles some more
  516. >"I mean, ya are cute, but I ain't tryina flirt with ya. Jus a compliment, ya know?" At this point, she's a little flush herself!
  517. >You smirk and bump your own fist against her shoulder and chuckle with her
  518. >"So uh... Yeah, go ahead and mention me, and bein my friend, and my dad should offer you to stick around for the summer."
  519. >You nod
  520. >Sounds easy
  521. >And hella cool of this girl
  522. >...uh
  523. "What's your name?"
  524. >You and she stare at each other for a few moments, until she snorts and quickly chuckles
  525. >"Aw man, we been talking this long without any intros?"
  526. >You nod and hold out your hand. "I'm Indigo Zap. Or Indy, if you like."
  527. >She takes your hand in her big hand. "Well, Blue, they call me Lem. Lemon Zest."
  528. >With a grin, you shake your new friend's hand
  529. >But as you shake, a bus rolls up, the fourth one so far
  530. >She grins at you and stands, waving down at you
  531. >"Seeya, Blue! Hope we can hang out some more!"
  532. >You nod and wave back, grinning
  533. "I do too! That sounds totally rad!"
  534. >Lem hustles up into the bus, and it takes off
  535. >Oh, that one's going far. Where's she headed?
  536. >Hm... She didn't say what gym
  537. >Dang
  538. >You're gonna have to wait till you get home to look that up
  539. >For now, time to continue this jog-
  540. >Oof!
  541. >Your legs. They're sore
  542. >Oh man
  543. >Oh ow, ow, ow
  544. >You toss your empty bottle into the trash bin, one less thing to worry about
  545. >Then you rub your legs a bit
  546. >Fug
  547. >Just gotta keep going, right? Or no?
  548. >Uh
  549. >W-walk for now, yeah
  550. >With a deep breath, you start walking a little faster than normal
  551. >Not even close to a jog, but hey
  552. >It's gonna make you sweat
  553. >Maybe you can visit that gym you know about
  554. >Hey maybe it's the same one!
  555. >Ha, maybe!
  556. >Ow, your feet
  557. >Your feet, your legs, a little bit of your arms, too
  558. >So sore, man
  559. >Maybe you'll walk around a bit, now that you've cooled down
  560. >Just down the street
  561. >Everyone outside gives you weird looks
  562. >Weird, you don't feel like you're walking too weird, except for having all this jelly for your legs
  563. >What's up?
  564. >You look around, and everyone's still giving you weird looks
  565. "W-what?"
  566. >They all ignore you and go back to what they were doing
  567. >Da fug?
  568. >Whatever, walking
  569. >Trying as hard as you can, you definitely can walk, just slower than normal
  570. >Your feet hurt, but whatever, no pain no gain, right?
  571. >If you remember right, that gym is like eight blocks away, so you're more than halfway there
  572. >Er
  573. >Well, not really, stupid
  574. >Augh, why'd you lie to her, that was so stupid
  575. >Okay, so you ran two blocks, and the gym is like eight blocks away
  576. >You won't die from walking that far
  578. >Whew...
  579. >You take a deep breath in front of the Gym
  580. >Maybe you're already making improvement, but that brisk walk barely winded you!
  581. >Now then!
  582. >'Lemon Pie Gym - Training chumps into champs since 1886.'
  583. >Hot diggity damn, dude
  584. >This building is ancient, but it's still standing! Its like a small castle, where people go to get buff and beat ass!
  585. >Awesome!
  586. >You wander on in and take in the scene
  587. >Oh yeah
  588. >It's only like 8 in the morning, and theres already a dozen guys in this huge work out joint
  589. >Awesome
  590. >"Need somethin, lil missy?"
  591. >You excitedly whip ar-
  592. >HOLY SHIT
  593. "Y-you're huge!" You're pointing without realizing it
  594. >The huge pink bald guy is built like a tank, wide, tall, and with a lot of fat. But you can tell he can dish out the hurt real easy, look at those arms!
  595. >He's quiet for a few seconds, then grunts
  596. >"I'm Lemon Preserves. I own 'n run Lemon Pie Gym. You here to get fit lil missy? I'm always accepting kids for the summer."
  597. >You nod, letting your excitement out. "Heck yeah! I wanna get in shape, sir!"
  598. >He smirks. "That's what I like to hear."
  599. >Big Lem motions toward the gym. "For a decent fee, you can use all this equipment, and ask me and my staff for help any time."
  600. >Ah
  601. >Hm...
  602. "Right, I don't have cash..."
  603. >He frowns. "...I see."
  604. >You awkwardly shrug and look away. "Say uh, do you know Lemon Zest?"
  605. >"Lil Lem? My daughter?"
  606. >You flinch and look up at him, blinking
  607. >He's pointing to a trophy case he was completely blocking
  608. >In it, Lil Lem and Big Lem are in like ten pictures, and there's easily twenty trophies, most gold.
  609. "Wow... I never would've guessed you were her dad."
  610. >You look away from the trophies and smile. "She said if I asked super nice, you'd let me in for free!"
  611. >You slide over to Big Lem, who's now glaring down at you. "So can I? Please, please?"
  612. >After a bit more prodding, he groans. "Fine! Only for the summer!"
  613. "Yass!"
  614. >"First up, we draw out a nutritional plan! Follow me!"
  615. >Oh boy
  617. >Oh boy, oh boy...
  618. >You stare at the bit of paper Big Lem scribbled out for you
  619. >Aw man, he was kinda rough, but he's a nice guy
  620. >His handwriting is real neat too
  621. >He's a good guy
  622. >And he gave you really good advice about food, and running too!
  623. >Running as fast as you can, which isn't that fast, isn't the best!
  624. >Good thing you got that out of the way!
  625. >You're supposed to find out what tires you and do a little less than that
  626. >And keep working on that limit everyday!
  627. >Exercise is cool, now that you have some kind of handle on it
  628. >Anyway, you're heading back next week after jogging every day, like Big Lem said
  629. >So you're just gonna stock up on (beg mom for) healthier food and do this schedule every day
  630. >Up early, bed early, excercise, eat better
  631. >Aaaaaaaaand...
  632. >So you're in a convenience store
  633. >You're trying to pick a water to buy
  634. >This one has electrolytes
  635. >But this one is Ph 8.88
  636. >This one was voted best work out water
  637. >But this one is half off right now
  638. >This one has protein, which... "promotes good muscle growth"?
  639. >But this one has a clown on it
  640. >Dang it, which one's better
  641. >Why is eating healthy so hard?
  642. >You sigh, letting your shoulders sag
  643. >Guess you're gonna have to buy both
  644. >You trudge back to the regis...ter...
  645. >The mustached guy at the register is quietly pulling money out and putting it down on the counter
  646. >For a burglar, who's got a gun in his pocket and pointing it forward
  647. >What the actual fuck, dude. It's 10 AM and he's robbing someone!
  648. >What the fuck!
  649. >What a piece of shit!
  650. >You set the bottles down on the counter, nice and quiet and look around
  651. >Canned peas
  652. >Canned ham...
  653. >Yeah... Canned whole chicken
  654. >It fits nice in your palms
  655. >Fuck this guy, dude, shitting up your town
  656. >You glare over at the counter
  657. >There's one of those mirrors, but the burglar won't notice you if you come up right behind him
  658. >One
  659. >Two
  660. >One, two
  661. >You swing up, let your left hand go, and whip the can on his head
  663. >Whew
  664. >You take a deep breath and pick up the can and tie the guy's sleeves together behind his back
  665. >Stupid kid
  666. >Scrawny dude too, pretty boy face
  667. >Eugh
  668. >You go back and grab your waters and reach for your money
  669. >"Thank you!"
  670. >Wha?
  671. >Looking up, you see the dude running the store crying and praying
  672. >"You are a gift from God! Thank you for your help, thank you thank you thank you!"
  673. "Uh..."
  674. >You look around the store for the hidden cams, but there ain't none. "K-kay."
  675. >You hold out your money. "I just did what anyone would do, dude."
  676. >He grabs your hand in both of his
  677. >"No no! No money! I'll give you the water, for free, you come by every day for a free drink for your good act!"
  678. >Blink
  679. >You grin. "Thanks, dude! You're awesome!"
  680. >He grins back and hustles to stuff the money back in the register
  681. >"You go on home!" He chuckles, and gives you a weird salute. "I have to get the cops here, and I can't explain a little kid stopping a robber!"
  682. >You snort and hustle out. "Thanks again dude, I'll be back tomorrow morning!"
  683. >"I'll be waiting!"
  685. >Gosh...
  686. >It's like 11, you think
  687. >Bout time to head home for lunch
  688. >You grab Big Lem's paper from your waist band
  689. >'Do NOT excercise more than 3 hours per day. Do NOT exercise for more than 1 hour per 8 hours!'
  690. >Yep... Lunch and... Something, till after dinner
  691. >Hm.
  692. >Why's mom's car here?
  693. >Door's unlocked too
  694. >You slowly twist and slide in
  695. >Duffle bag is still at the door
  696. >You grab the bat and swing it into both hands
  697. >You hear the sounds of eating
  698. >The kitchen
  699. >One, two, one-two
  700. >There's a fucking bastard in your kitchen, eating your food
  701. >Ma looks up from him and smiles at you
  702. >"Hey sweet pea!"
  703. >The dude stops and turns to you
  704. >He grins that grin full of crooked teeth, framed by five o'clock shadow
  705. >His shitty jacket smells
  706. >He smells
  707. >"Hey, lil Zappy!"
  708. "Sup, assmunch."
  709. >Lightning Zap
  710. >Dad's home
  711. "Hey." You make sure he knows you still hate his gappy grin and stubble and shitty cologne and ugly face with one word
  712. >As always, he grins real wide at you, not getting it. He just puts his arm out to you
  713. >"Come give your pappy a hug!"
  714. >You squint at him
  715. >You wanna say a few things before you hug him, but you don't
  716. >Only because ma's pleading eyes catch your eye
  717. >Instead you groan and walk away
  718. >"Don't walk away, come give me a hug! Something got you down, baby cakes?"
  719. >Whatever
  720. >You lay down on your bed and grab some new batteries for your walkman
  721. >Dad comes bumbling in
  722. >Fffffffffffffffffug
  723. >You stare at your walkman, almost melting it with your anger
  724. >He drops down next to you, throwing an arm around your shoulder
  725. >He clicks his tongue, snaps his fingers and points at you
  726. >"Who wants to go to the zoo?"
  727. "Not me."
  728. >"C'mon-"
  729. "No."
  730. >"It'll be fun, I swear!"
  731. "Sure."
  732. >"Nice, nice, I'll just grab the car."
  733. "No."
  734. >Your dad pauses and puts his hands together as he sits next to you
  735. >God, he's stinking up the place with that shitty cologne
  736. >You look away so you don't have to smell him
  737. >"Are those Poppy's... Old clothes?"
  738. "I guess."
  739. >You pry open the battery hole and slide them out
  740. >"They look good on you. You trying the old styling look out?"
  741. "I'm trying to lose weight, actually, cause I'm fat and need to."
  742. >You answered the next couple of questions, maybe he'll shut up
  743. >"Oh."
  744. >Good. You slide some batteries in
  745. >"So."
  746. "Ugh!" You throw your head up, and then glare at him
  747. >He raises his hands, and you can see gold all over his wrists
  748. >"Hey, come on, I just want to be a part of your life!"
  749. "And I don't. Get out."
  750. >"But-"
  751. "Out!"
  752. >You throw a pillow at him, and he starts walking out
  753. "This counted as your visit, by the way!"
  754. >He stops in the middle of the hall and points down at you. "Bullshit it did! I deserve a real father daughter day, don't pull this fuckin bullshit, Indy!"
  755. "Get out!"
  757. >8 hours later, and you're fugging exhausted, showered, and fed
  758. >Just trying to relax with some dvd ma rented
  759. >You and she are snugged up on the couch, sitting pretty in front of the fan
  760. >And you suddenly remember your dad from this morning
  761. >Fug
  762. >And here you were enjoying yourself
  763. >What the fug, though
  764. >Why can't he just go away?
  765. >Ugh
  766. >Bad enough you have to deal with being fat, you have to deal with him every other week
  767. >Mm, but your work out went well today
  768. >Like Big Lem said, you made sure not to kill yourself with the running
  769. >You made sure to eat good, too. Which is super important
  770. >So time to just relax
  771. >Watch some anime, you guess
  772. >Power Ponies, but from neighpon
  773. >It's been interesting so far, but you're fading in and out
  774. >"Listen, Chilly. You and I need to have this talk."
  775. >It's always weird that Mistress Mare-velous used their real names all the time
  776. >At least to you
  777. >You yawn, long and hard
  778. >Boy, that was a yawn
  779. >"-heroes. You, me, everyone on this team."
  780. >Hm?
  781. >"We don't fight the bad guys because we want to. We fight them because we have to. If we don't, who will? It's not destiny, it's not our duty, it isn't even something as frivilous as using our powers responsibly."
  782. >You lean forward
  783. >"We're heroes. That means we stop wrongs and evils just because no one will. Because it doesn't come naturally to anyone else like us. Only heroes get the urge to do good like us, and we can't sit idly by and let that urge go un-scratched."
  784. >You lean back again, closing your eyes
  785. >MM's always cool with her speeches
  786. >Superheroes are awesome
  787. >You grimace
  788. >Wish you had some superheroes in Canterlot
  789. >Someone to wipe the floor with your dad and punks like that shitter in the convenience store this morning
  790. >But all it's got is you to bean punks with cans and mouth off at your dad
  791. >Eh, whatever
  792. >Why don't you just become a superhero?
  793. >Heh
  794. >That'd be totally rad
  795. >You yawn and cuddle Ma, closing your eyes
  797. >6 AM!
  798. >You slap your alarm and go back to tying up your trainers
  799. >Duffle bag
  800. >Baseball bat
  801. >Keys
  802. >Six waters (with a clowns on em)
  803. >Some cash
  804. >Yeah, you're ready!
  805. >Time for your second week!
  806. >You take a deep breath and march on into the kitchen, smile creeping on your face as you inhale
  807. >"Inny, you up!?"
  808. "Yeah, ma." You take your seat, and ma sets down breakfast and a cup of coffee
  809. >Coffee first
  810. >Black, baby
  811. >It's strong, just like you like it, and it's not that sweet either, which wakes you up like you want
  812. "Aaaaaah!"
  813. >Ma giggles as you shake your head and dig into breakfast
  814. >"You're looking better, sweet pea. All that work's really payin off."
  815. >You grin at her and chew
  816. >She's leaning forward on one of her hands, smiling, and already finished her breakfast
  817. >You smile back. "Thanks, ma."
  818. >She grabs up everything but your plate and moves to the sink
  819. >She shouts over the rushing water, "So what's up today? More runnin?"
  820. >You take a deep breath and nod...
  821. "Gettin ready for next week's exhibition."
  822. >"The what!?"
  823. "The exhibition, ma!"
  824. >"Oh!"
  825. >You roll your eyes and add your plate to the sink just as she stops the water, making her start again
  826. >She rubs a wet hand into your hair!
  827. >Fug!
  828. "MA!"
  829. >Ma just giggles at you and pokes your nose with a soapy finger
  830. >You shake away the soap and rub your face
  831. "Bah! I'll see you later, Ma!"
  832. >She just keeps giggling as you walk out with your crap
  833. >Ma...
  834. >You look around outside
  835. >Another bright and sun shiney day in canterlot
  836. >Punks run in the streets, bullies roam the schools and no one does anything about either
  837. >Some guy is letting his dog shit on your lawn
  838. "Hey!"
  839. >He gives you a glare and a bird
  840. >You whip out Blueberry Pop and chase him and his stupid dog for a few minutes, with no one saying anything about it
  841. >You love this city
  843. >You walk again, rolling your shoulders
  844. >Canterlot city, Equestria
  845. >It's 2012, and this city is still standing
  846. >It really speaks to the... Uh
  847. >It's like
  848. >People just won't leave, 2bh
  849. >Like this city would have been broken a long time ago if no one wanted to deal with any of the bs here
  850. >But then again
  851. >Can you and mom leave?
  852. >Hm
  853. >Not... Really?
  854. >Wait, how many people are like you and mom?
  855. >Everyone in your neighborhood
  856. >But like no one is in any crystal schools...
  857. >You furrow your brow and ponder
  858. >Okay, so your school costs a fortune
  859. >And ma barely managed to paid for any of it
  860. >Aaaaaaaand...
  861. >No one else in your neighborhood can afford that
  862. >What were you thinking about?
  863. >Right, like no one can afford to leave Canterlot
  864. >And a lot of stuff sucks, but that doesn't mean it's a bad city
  865. >Augh... Someone's gotta clean up Canterlot, so everyone see how cool it is...
  867. >Oh fug
  868. >You squeeze your fingers behind your head
  869. >Deep breath
  870. >You pull forward, pushing one more time
  871. >You clench your teeth so you don't sputter all over yourself
  872. >"C'mon, Indy!"
  873. >That's Blueblood
  874. >He gets paid to yell at you
  875. >"Can you do it!? Gotta ask yourself! CAN YOU DO IIIIIIIIT!?"
  876. "YEAH! AUGH 43!"
  877. >You pull forward one more time, your forehead stopping an inch from his
  878. >He shouts out again
  879. >"CAN YOU DO IT!?"
  880. >He's p great 2bh
  881. "I CAN! 44!"
  882. >Just then, Big Lem steps behind Blueblood and sets a huge hand on his shoulder
  883. >"Alright, enough shoutin, it's time fer the real work out. Lots planned today, Inigo. Gotta see how you progressed."
  884. >You slowly fall back flat, breathing heavy
  885. >"Ya ready?"
  886. >You nod and wipe your forehead
  887. >"No you ain't. Get yourself a cooldown stretch and some water first."
  888. >And then he walks away, smirking
  889. >You smirk back
  890. >Big Lem talks big, but he cares
  891. >Blueblood slides behind you and puts his hands on your shoulders
  892. >"You ready!?"
  893. >You manage to gasp, "Totes."
  894. >Blueblood helps you up and you stretch a little to get the blood back into your wobbly legs
  895. "Whatcha think he's got?"
  896. >Blueblood shrugs and crosses his thick arms
  897. >"I suppose he's got the usual in store for you, little lady."
  898. >He smirks
  899. >You frown
  900. >He talks weird when he's not working out
  901. >"I do hope you can overcome your anticipation and come out on top though."
  902. >You pick up your water bottle and sip a bit
  903. "Yeah, same, 2bh. Does he do this a lot?"
  904. >Blueblood cocks a brow and shakes his head as he sits down and hooks his fingers into a free weight
  905. >"Nah, dude. Never seen Big Lem doing this."
  906. >You watch him curl the weight for a while until you've caught your second wind
  907. >Time to impress Big Lem
  908. >Wherever he is
  909. >Where'd he go?
  910. >You look around the flat gym
  911. >In his office, maybe...?
  912. >You walk past a few older tough guys and to his door
  913. >He usually doesn't like to be bothered, but...
  914. >You gotta know what this is about!
  915. >You raise a knuckle
  916. >And his door flies open
  917. >He's there
  918. >He slowly looks down at you, still pissed as usual
  919. "Hey, sup?"
  920. >He cocks a brow
  921. >Big Lem reaches up and rubs at his stubble
  922. >"It's time."
  923. >He guides you to one of the older treadmills, one of the ones that can't go too hard for too long...
  924. >Why?
  925. >"BB."
  926. >Blueblood puts his mega protein bar into his belt and saunters over, hand on his bouncing hip
  927. >Big Lem grumbles, "Stop that."
  928. >He starts the treadmill, leaving you to walk on it, and nods to your swole coach
  929. >"Increase the speed every ten seconds until she flies off."
  930. >You jump and keep walking, "W-what!?"
  931. >Blueblood salutes and Big Lem walks off
  932. >Just before you can say anything, he starts the treadmill on a walk
  933. >You keep walking, but shake your head
  934. "W-wait, what're you doin?"
  935. >Blueblood shrugs. "Just doing what the boss says. I'm sure he knows what's what."
  936. >You toss out your hands. "What? Come on, that's crazy."
  937. >Blueblood bats at the air with a limp hand. "Please, you'll do fine!"
  938. >And that's when he grabs the dial and turns it
  939. "Stop!"
  940. >He shrugs, and you almost stumble into a slow jog
  941. "Come on!"
  942. >"Uh, what's up, Indy?"
  943. >You grunt as you jog
  944. "This isn't cool, don't keep pushing it."
  945. >Blueblood shakes his head and turns it up into a quick jog
  946. >You take a deep breath and keep your breathing even
  947. >This treadmill doesn't go too much faster, luckily
  948. >He can't turn it up too high or else it'll fall apart
  949. >You think
  950. >Blueblood reaches over and you smack his hand
  951. >He chuckles and steps next to you
  952. >As you jog, he ties up your hair for you
  953. >Then twists the dial when you aren't looking!
  954. >Running now! FFS! You almost trip over yourself, and the treadmill isn't doing better!
  955. >This huge bulky thing is shaking, it's gonna fugging explode!
  956. >You just gotta keep running, cause if you trip or slip, you'll fugging get launched!
  957. >Just breathe, Indy
  958. >Blueblood won't turn it up higher, cause he's not allowed to
  959. >This thing is rattling at the nuts and bolts
  960. >Deep breaths
  961. >See, he's not even near the controls
  962. >Instead, he's wrapping up your hair for you, into a pony tail
  963. >"Ready?"
  964. >What?
  965. "W-wha?"
  966. >"ARE YOU READY?"
  967. "No!"
  968. >He slams his hand onto the treadmill controls, tossing it forward into overdrive!
  969. >Holy moly!
  970. >Your feet fly across the belt thingy floor part and you keep running
  971. >You feel something in your side explode, but your feet keep going
  972. >Your feet just fly back and forth and it doesn't even feel like you're making contact anymore!
  973. >But yeah, looking down, you're def hitting that belt thing!
  974. >And looking forward, you see Blueblood bite his lip
  975. >With a hand over the control
  976. "N-n-n-nooooo!"
  977. >The thing is already shaking! It's gonna freaking explode!
  978. >He twists the dial once more
  979. >You fly back
  980. >Oof
  981. >You're not dead?
  982. >You're raised up to your feet?
  983. >Wha?
  984. >Big Lem squeezes your shoulders and you blink, looking back at him
  985. >He has an approving frown, and nods
  986. >"G'job, Inigo."
  987. >You gulp and nod
  989. >You take a deep breath and tighten your bag's straps across your chest
  990. >Cars are goin, so might as well take the moment, right?
  991. >And it keeps comin loose, dude
  992. >Deep breath
  993. >Sun says its been like three hours since the gym
  994. >And you're still sore all over from Big Lem's... Test thing
  995. >Whatever the fug that was...
  996. >At least your breathing is even now
  997. >You reach down and squish at your belly
  998. >There's less of you
  999. >You smile and look down at your looser shirt
  1000. >Big Lem is nuts, but he's smart
  1001. >Fuggin smart as hell
  1002. >Knows a lot about gettin fit, like he's a genius...
  1003. >The light changes, and you get back into step
  1004. >Heel - toe times infinity
  1005. >Ad nauseum? Ad museum? Until you get sick of it, that's the word of the day
  1006. >Yeah
  1007. >Run forever, listen to rock forever, and eventually, you'll get into CPA
  1008. >Do Ma proud, keep running these streets till you get fit enough to blow everyone outta the water
  1009. >A big smile fills your cheeks
  1010. >Gonna do Ma proud
  1011. >Gonna make her smile!
  1012. >Faster! Breathing harder!
  1013. >The streets blur together but you keep going
  1014. >You can't read the signs, cars are blending together, and you only just now stop
  1015. >Because you're at a street light
  1016. >Gotta wait
  1017. >You jog in place
  1018. >"O-oh, h-hey."
  1019. >Wha
  1020. >Ayy, it's Twilight
  1021. >You smirk and give her the two finger salute
  1022. "Sup!"
  1023. >She's got her usual half smile, and that blue girl with her
  1024. >"S-sup yourself... Y-you're r-r-really thinning o-out."
  1025. >Her friend nods. "Trixie thinks you look good."
  1026. >Aw man
  1027. >Your face heats up and you shrug
  1028. "I'm just doin my best!"
  1029. >She giggles. "W-well, y-your best is p-pretty good, I-indy."
  1030. >You grin and give her a thumbs up
  1031. "Thanks! But I'm not done yet! I'm gonna keep goin till I'm a star, I've got like... So many weeks left!"
  1032. >"E-eleven weeks."
  1033. >"Eleven weeks!"
  1034. >They look at each other and grin
  1035. >Daw
  1036. >The light changes, so you salute
  1037. "Seeya at the tourney?"
  1038. >Twilight nods, giving you a thumbs up. "G-gonna be c-cool, d-dude."
  1040. >You chuckle inside as you jog
  1041. >Heh
  1042. >Those two are cute... When they aren't fighting
  1043. >Bleh
  1044. >But they're just a couple of smart girls who hang around the HSHW tourneys
  1045. >They enter as a team cause no one cares
  1046. >They usually come 1-5 or 0-6, so literally no one cares that they enter as a team
  1047. >(Besides, it's kinda cute the way Trixie tries to be Twi's hypeman)
  1048. >Hm
  1049. >You should get to painting up your Relic Harvesters and Egg Spewers
  1050. >Kind of... Super need those
  1051. >Especially if Sour Patch actually has all the smurfs she took that selfie with the other day
  1052. >Gotta whoop her ass
  1053. >Humiliating you last month... She's gonna pay
  1054. >'Oh boo hoo, Indy's using an illegal army!'
  1055. >'Look, as of the October errata, her Swarmers cost 6 each, not 5, so her army is 50 pts over!'
  1056. >Fuggin
  1057. >Slap that bi...mbo
  1058. >"Slap her."
  1059. >Yeah
  1060. >"No!"
  1061. >Wait, what
  1062. >Where did that come from?
  1063. >You squat down and listen
  1064. >There's a girl screaming into something covering her mouth
  1065. >There's an ally near you
  1066. >As you creep closer, you can hear her better
  1067. >You peek around the corner
  1068. >A guy has a girl in a full nelson, and she's got something stuffed into her mouth
  1069. >Two other dudes are getting close
  1070. >Ffs, it's not even noon! You stupid sewer rats!
  1071. >You creep into the alley and behind a dumpster
  1072. >"Slap her again."
  1073. >SMACK
  1074. >Before he even hit, Blueberry Pop is in your hand
  1075. >You get closer to the other side of the alley
  1076. >There's a fire escape, which you climb
  1077. >Sneakers. They're for this.
  1078. >Three men
  1079. >All the same size
  1080. >You get to the top without too much noise
  1081. >They're making enough noise that you can afford to bump and snag the metal
  1082. >Poor girl
  1083. >The alley is only ten feet across, but there's enough trash, that it's basically like 8 feet across
  1084. >The fire escape extends three feet out
  1085. >Those punks in front of her are in the middle of the alley, basically
  1086. >You narrow your eyes
  1087. >You're right above them
  1088. >You grit your teeth and squeeze your bat
  1089. >Which one
  1090. >No guns, their jackets aren't weighed down
  1091. >One has a knife
  1092. >The one holding the girl is basically defenseless
  1093. >Knifey it is-
  1094. >You slide your scarf out and wrap it up across your mouth, nice and tight
  1095. >Time to serve ass
  1096. >You drop and swing, super quiet
  1097. >Blueberry Pop POPS against the side of Knifey's head, and you land on his friend's shoulders
  1098. >They lose their freaking minds, and start screaming
  1099. >But you pop Knifey again, and he drops
  1100. >His bro tries punching you, but your running/thicc thighs are good at soak
  1101. >So it's just a quick matter of jamming the butt of your bat into the top of his head till he drops
  1102. >You hop up and glare up at Hold Bro
  1103. "Get the fuck outta Canterlot, you piece of shit."
  1104. >He sprints off, but you throw a trash can lid at him
  1105. >He stumbles... Gives you a chance to pop on him
  1106. >So, three KO'd alley rats
  1107. >You look back at the girl
  1108. >She pulls her... Undies out of her mouth
  1109. >Ew
  1110. "You kay?"
  1111. >She rubs the back of her neck and nods
  1112. >"I-I guess. Who are you?"
  1113. >You chuckle and put your bat away, pulling out some rope and a skateboard
  1114. "I call myself Amber Horizon. Just doing what I do."
  1115. >She watches you search them up
  1116. >"A-are you mugging them!?"
  1117. >You shake your head as you grab up one of their cell phones
  1118. >One of those fancy smart ones
  1119. >Uh... Apps...
  1120. "Nope, just calling the police to pick up the trash."
  1121. >"Oh."
  1122. >You look back at her, smiling under your scarf
  1123. "You should go home. Get some rest, take the day off."
  1124. >She makes an understanding sound
  1125. >Then hugs you
  1126. >You chuckle and hug her back, till she starts to walk off with a wave
  1127. >You wave back and dial 9/11
  1128. "Hey. It's me. Amber Horizon. I got three more. Corner of 11th and 4th, North Canterlot."
  1129. >You hang up and toss it into the pile of rats
  1130. >You take one of their hoodies, tie em up and...
  1131. >Roll them to the edge of the alley
  1132. >You sprint off to the end of the alley and keep running
  1133. >Deep breaths
  1134. >You cross four blocks and slow down
  1135. >Then stop at a bus stop
  1136. >Water
  1137. >You take off the hoodie and your scarf, tossing the hoodie in the trash while you guzzle water
  1138. >That's done...
  1139. >You toss the water bottle
  1140. >Wait no, you can refill that
  1141. >Plus, it has a clown on it
  1142. >Which is p great
  1143. >You stare at the clown
  1144. >Her happy grin is infectious
  1145. >You sit down at the bus stop bench
  1146. >Those are the like...
  1147. >Uh
  1148. >Fug
  1149. >Okay... Average of... Two
  1150. >Seven days
  1151. >Twelfth-ish, thirteenth-ish and fourteenth-ish thugs you've locked up
  1152. >Er well, Amber Horizon has locked up
  1153. >This city is great
  1154. >She's got a lot of room for people to grow, but she lets everyone live within her walls
  1155. >It's up to her good kids to polish her up
  1156. >Take care of her in her old age
  1157. >You lean forward, taking a deep breath
  1158. >Amber Horizon will continue to fight for her city
  1159. >For your city
  1160. >For all the good people who live in her stone walls and steel skeleton
  1161. >For you
  1162. >For Ma
  1163. >She's gonna fight
  1164. >You close your eyes and lean back, taking another deep breath
  1165. "Be the one to save this city."
  1166. >Augh
  1167. >You grab your side
  1168. >The fug?
  1169. >You pull up your shirt
  1170. >Nothing there...
  1171. >Poke
  1172. >No, nothing there
  1173. >Weird
  1174. >Felt like someone pinched you
  1175. >Meh
  1176. >Better start walking home for lunch
  1177. >You hop up and start lightly jogging the twenty blocks home
  1179. >Nice and cool, you pull out your keys
  1180. >Ma's not here
  1181. >Neither is dad
  1182. >You push open the door
  1183. >Good
  1184. >You slide on in and
  1185. "Ah..."
  1186. >Home sweet home
  1187. >Nice and cool
  1188. >You wander on over to the living room and pop it on
  1189. >News
  1190. >Important to watch
  1191. >Even if some of the stations lie, it's easy enough to pick out what the actual truth is, if you think about it
  1192. >But right now, it looks like they're just going on about some 'stay cool in the summer' tips
  1193. >Good stuff
  1194. >You turn it up and and walk away, on into the kitchen
  1195. >"And we're here with Granny Smith, oldest member of the Canterlot community. Granny, what do you do to stay cool?"
  1196. >Almond butter...
  1197. >"Ya see, lil missy, we hear at Sweet Apple Acres like to cool off the same way our forefathers did!"
  1198. >Hm, toast or not?
  1199. >"A dip in the waterin hole!"
  1200. >...That's gross
  1201. >Not the watering hole, your almond butter needs to be stirred
  1202. >You grab a knife and get to it while walking back to the living room
  1203. >Granny Smith is in a 30's bathing suit and leaning on a cane, and
  1204. >Whoa
  1205. >Is that her grand daughter?
  1206. >She's pretty cute, with the freckles...
  1207. >The toaster pops. You flinch and hustle back to the kitchen
  1208. >Yeah, lunch
  1209. >Toast, almond butter...
  1210. >You pop open the fridge...
  1211. >Mm... A fruit, a fruit
  1212. >Grapes?
  1213. >Maybe... An apple?
  1214. >Oh boy
  1215. >It's gonna be one of those days, isn't it?
  1216. >Bluh
  1217. >You shake your head and grab the red fruit
  1218. >The news changes in the other room to... Something
  1219. >Oh a commercial
  1220. >You take your time, then
  1221. >Chop up the red fruit
  1222. >Grab a plate, put down the wedges
  1223. >Deal out some almond goo
  1224. >Your toast goes next to that...
  1225. >And... Some...
  1226. >You look over at the coffee maker
  1227. >Nice
  1228. >You scoop some of that black good stuff in and turn it on
  1229. >Then back to the tv with your food
  1230. >Looks like the news is back
  1231. >The head of the Canterlot PTA is... Talking about crime rate
  1232. >This lady gets around
  1233. >You slide your toast into the almond and bite
  1234. >Her name is on the screen, but you've heard of her
  1235. >She's been making waves in the Canterlot local government
  1236. >She's full of radical ideas for reform and making law enforcement better, but never getting in the way of people living their lives
  1237. >You like her
  1238. >This Luna is a pretty 20-something. Even though she's young, she has a serious frown and even though she works at CHS, she's dressed like she works at an office
  1239. >Probs for the conference
  1240. >You turn the tv up a bit so you can hear it over your munching
  1241. >"Everybody's out of work, punks are running wild in the street, and no one seems to know what to do about the wild happenings either. There's no end to it. Canterlot is seen as the worst city in Equestria to live in right now."
  1242. >Huh...
  1243. >There's booing from the crowd
  1244. "Shut up, nerds!"
  1245. >She patiently waits until they finish
  1246. >"Every day we get reports of, say eight homocides, twenty firearm crimes and four cases of arson, like that's the way it's supposed to be. But that's not how it's supposed to be!"
  1247. >This is met with silence. Maybe stunned silence
  1248. >"I know things are bad, everyone knows things are bad. But I'm here to tell you that the solution is near!"
  1249. >Yeah?
  1250. >"I, along with the CPD, am working on a new program of training to ensure the people's safety. Your safety."
  1251. >She leans forward, palms set against her podium as her frown turns to a smile.
  1252. >You pop a red fruit into your mouth and mindlessly chew
  1253. >"Mayor Mare has already given her approval to the new program, and we should begin training as early as the start of autumn. I can't tell you exactly what it consists of - yet. But I can tell you this."
  1254. >You're on the edge of your seat, and your fourty year old tv buzzes out her next words
  1255. >"It's going to be the cutting edge of crime response technology."
  1256. >After that, Luna gives the stage to the Mayor
  1257. >And she goes right into blabbing about this or that
  1258. >You blink and chew some more
  1259. >Swallow
  1260. >Good speech, you guess
  1261. >But that's a tall order...
  1262. >Hopefully Luna knows what she's doing
  1263. >Hopefully this goes well
  1264. >Hopefully! This is good for Canterlot!
  1265. >You take a deep breath and look down at your empty plate
  1266. >What's she planning, though?
  1267. >Your side hurts a little, so you rub it
  1268. >Luna's pretty smart
  1269. >She's a good planner
  1270. >She plans all sorts of cool stuff
  1271. >She was responsible for a ton of small things
  1272. >Like CPA accepting scholarships after like a hundred years of not doing that
  1273. >But this?
  1274. >What's she got?
  1275. >You set your plate down and start scrubbing it with a soapy sponge
  1276. >You furrow your brow
  1277. "What do you have, Luna? What are you bringing to my city?"
  1278. >The phone rings, drawing your attention from the butter knife you're staring down
  1279. >It's the middle of the day
  1280. >You wander over
  1281. "Hey, Pop house."
  1282. >Whoever it is takes a deep breath
  1283. >Whoever it is, he sounds like a sweet old man
  1284. >"Hello, is this Indigo Zap?"
  1285. >Niceness aside, it's kinda random, getting a call like this
  1286. >Also creepy
  1287. "Hi? No one by that name lives here."
  1288. >"Oh. My mistake! Sorry little lady, I must have the wrong number!"
  1289. >He doesn't hang up though
  1290. >"I just don't use the phone that often, you see."
  1291. "Uh huh..."
  1292. >You furrow your brow and lean your back against the sink
  1293. >"I got this number from her mother, you see."
  1294. >Ma?
  1295. >"I just wanted to talk to her for a bit, you know?"
  1296. >You stare at the table as he slowly speaks
  1297. >He sounds like a really nice guy...
  1298. >But something about him seems... Off
  1299. >"Ah, but what am I bothering you for?"
  1300. >You can't place your finger on it
  1301. >"You should get back to that pain in your side, Indy!"
  1302. >You gasp as it flairs up
  1303. "Who are you?"
  1304. >"Hm?"
  1305. >You grab your side and rub it
  1306. "I said, who are you, dude?"
  1307. >He chuckles on the other end
  1308. >"How rude of me! I am a simple old man. They call me Scorpan, but I'm not that important."
  1309. >"I'm worried more about that pain in your side, Indigo..."
  1310. >He... Actually sounds kinda worried
  1311. >"I'm a special kind of doctor, you see. I heard that you sprained a muscle in a very special way today."
  1312. >You furrow your brow again
  1313. "Should I stop exercising?"
  1314. >"Oh, no... I think it should be fine. If you continue to exercise."
  1315. >You hear him chuckle
  1316. >"In fact, I think your extra exercising will be good for relieving this sprain."
  1317. "...Huh?"
  1318. >Da fug?
  1319. >"Your extra exercising? With the baseball bat!"
  1320. >You flinch
  1321. "W-what!?"
  1322. >He chuckles again, but then slowly speaks, nice and sweet
  1323. >"Indigo, Indigo... Please, it's okay."
  1324. >You take a deep breath
  1325. >"I like your work, honestly."
  1326. >You take another deep breath
  1327. >"You have a very creative persona, too. Amber Horizon... After the sunset, or sunrise?"
  1328. "S-sunrise. O-o-ov-"
  1329. >"Over Canterlot, yes."
  1330. >He speaks lower again, really trying to calm you down
  1331. >"Indigo, I swear. You are not in trouble, nor am I threatening you, or anything like that... I just wanted to talk. Can we talk?"
  1332. "S-sure."
  1333. >"Okay."
  1334. >Again
  1335. >Nice and slow
  1336. >Like he's talking to a scared... Patient?
  1337. "Did you say you were a doctor?"
  1338. >"I'm a very particular doctor, yes. I'm just interested in making sure that that special strain you have isn't too bad."
  1339. "Okay... So, what, you need me to come to you?"
  1340. >He chuckles
  1341. >"No, no, I don't need you to come over unless you fail this simple test..."
  1342. >You take a deep breath and square your shoulders
  1343. "Okay?"
  1344. >"Press two fingers into the sprain, nice and firm."
  1345. "Okay..."
  1346. >Poke
  1347. "Ow!"
  1348. >"Oh dear. How far did you get?"
  1349. "Fug... Not too far?"
  1350. >"Oh dear... Please visit me then, when you can. I'm local..."
  1351. >He sputters a bit and you lower your shirt while he shuffles around papers
  1352. >"22nd and 14th, building two. Central Canterlot."
  1353. "Kay..."
  1354. >That Scorpan guy was weird...
  1355. >Clank!
  1356. >You twist your hands across your bat
  1357. >Gotta get Ma to drive you
  1358. >Swing
  1359. >Thwonk!
  1360. >Clang!
  1361. >The auto-pitcher winds back up
  1362. >You move your feet back and forth, sliding against the sand
  1363. >Next week's no good, you've got the exhibition
  1364. >Big Lem wants you to be there, show off his new junior while Lil Lem is out of town
  1365. >Thwonk!
  1366. >Week after that...
  1367. >Tourney
  1368. >Gotta beat Sour Patch's tits in this month
  1369. >Clang!
  1370. >Ma's only got Sundays off...
  1371. >Hm...
  1372. >Thwonk!
  1373. >"Hey, yer pretty good."
  1374. "Thanks..."
  1375. >You sorta auto-reply
  1376. >Lotsa people telling you that these days
  1377. >You just kinda picked up doing this to have an excuse to pack Blueberry Pop
  1378. >Whoever the dude is chuckles
  1379. >"Ah came here tah pick up mah cousin n' her girliefriend. Didn' know many folk'er still comin roun here."
  1380. >You sigh and look over at-
  1381. "Holy sh..."
  1382. >Pretty boy
  1383. >The one from the convenience store
  1384. >The back of his head is covered in wrappings, and he's wearing the same ratty navy hoodie, and a big belt under...
  1385. >He chuckles as he steps closer to your cage
  1386. >"Ah know Ah gotta handsome face, but can Ah get a hello?"
  1387. "H-hey."
  1388. >The girl from news comes up behind him, along with a rainbow haired girlie
  1389. >You gulp when he's looking back at his cousin, you guess she is
  1390. >He looks back at you
  1391. >"Be sein ya. Glad ta see someone's keepin Equestria's oldest sport alive sides lil Renbow."
  1392. >She scoffs
  1393. >"I don't think she's keeping it alive, but whatever."
  1394. >She thumbs at herself. "Not everyone can be as awesome as I am!"
  1395. >Oh fug, she ruins the tension
  1396. >You chuckle and set Blueberry Pop against your shoulder
  1397. >She smirks at you
  1398. >"Something funny?"
  1399. >You shrug. "Nah, well maybe you."
  1400. >Her girlfriend chuckles, a deep southern chuckle
  1401. >"Ah think RD's a real hoot sometimes too."
  1402. >She blushes before she can counter your taunt
  1403. >The pretty boy pats at them both. "C'mon, granny'll be mighty angry if'n you two are late."
  1404. >You watch them leave
  1405. >Fug...
  1406. >Pretty boy
  1407. >Does he know who you are?
  1408. >The auto-pitcher loads up again
  1409. >You backhand swing the ball against the fence
  1410. >You get your footing again
  1411. >He doesn't
  1412. >You look back at him
  1413. >He's looking through his keys
  1414. >But he notices you and waves, smiling
  1415. >You wave back and smile
  1416. >You got him good with that can
  1417. >And Amber made sure not to be seen
  1418. >Yeah
  1419. >Thwonk!
  1420. >Clank!
  1421. >He was just some dumb thug
  1422. >One of dozens you and Amber have and will take down...
  1423. >...Thwonk!
  1424. >...If you... Amber, took him down...
  1425. >Why isn't he in prison?
  1427. >That question has been bugging you all day
  1428. >Your memory is bad
  1429. >You can't really check if every goon, hench and thug are the same person or not, but
  1430. >The police have to be doing SOMETHING right?
  1431. >Amber called and everything...
  1432. >You open the front door and wander on in
  1433. >"Inny is that you!"
  1434. "Yeah ma!"
  1435. >You slide off your sneakers and drop em
  1436. >"I'm in the living room! Come snuggle with me!"
  1437. "Kay!"
  1438. >Thugs... Put em aside for now
  1439. >Mommy time
  1440. >Speaking of Mommy
  1441. >You set her bat down next to the door with extra care
  1442. >Blueberry Pop did good today
  1443. >Many goons, much xp
  1444. >Good day
  1445. >Confusing day, but eh
  1446. >You wander on into the living room, where mom's got a fan set up next to her, and the tv on
  1447. >You relax next to mom and she immediately hugs you close
  1448. >She smooches your cheek, makin you giggle
  1449. >But then she grunts
  1450. >"Aw... I'm happy you're doing so good, but I miss your belly, sweet pea."
  1451. >You bust out laughing, and she joins you
  1452. >You close your eyes
  1453. >When you open them the tv is on the news, and mom is gone
  1454. >There's a cop on
  1455. >And
  1456. >...Amber?
  1457. >You blink and sit up, straining your eyes as you yawn
  1458. >"Like I said, this Amber Horizon... She's no good."
  1459. >What
  1460. >You blink and rub away some yawn tears
  1461. >Officer Copper Top, CPD
  1462. >Channel 12 News
  1463. >This lady is calling Amber out?
  1464. >Sure
  1465. >S-u-r-e
  1466. >"She's a menace. A vigilante working outside the law to her own ends."
  1467. >You smirk
  1468. >"If you're watching, Amber Horizon?"
  1469. "Yeah?"
  1470. >You cock your head and sneer
  1471. >"You're not welcome in Canterlot City. Leave crime fighting for the crime fighters!"
  1472. >You jump up and put out the birds
  1473. "Yeah? Fuck you too, do your job!"
  1474. >You yawn
  1475. >Fug, you're tired
  1476. >You sit back down and recline
  1477. >The news station switches to some reporter lady
  1478. >"But not everyone disagrees with Amber Horizon."
  1479. >Oh yeah?
  1480. >The reporter moves to stand next to someone with a blurred outface
  1481. >"We have a recently reformed member of the Rotten Apples gang, who claims to have met Amber Horizon."
  1482. >You can tell it's pretty boy, apple kid
  1483. >When was this filmed?
  1484. >Not live, obviously
  1485. >So he... Knows who you are?
  1486. >"What do you have to say about Amber Horizon?"
  1487. >He hitches his belt and stuffs his hands in his hoodie pocket
  1488. >"I think she's doing good for this city."
  1489. >Oh fug they had to get someone to dub him
  1490. >His accent probably fugged up the voice blurrer
  1491. >That's p hilarious
  1492. >But... He knew who you were?
  1493. >"I've never met her, thank God in heaven."
  1494. >Oh
  1495. >"But after getting a good hit from someone, I dunno, I feel like it knocked some sense into me."
  1496. >Hunh
  1497. >Pretty boy turned good?
  1498. >"I know I have a lot of apologizing to do, but I'm glad I got a second chance. I feel like if I can change, Amber Horizon can change at least half the thugs she puts away."
  1499. >You recline
  1500. >And smile
  1501. >We're doing good
  1502. >You're doing good
  1503. >You close your eyes. Tomorrow's Sunday, time to sleep in a bit
  1505. >Terra Gold...
  1506. >D-dab...
  1507. >Gently...
  1508. >Just the claw
  1509. >Just this one claw
  1510. >Not the finger
  1511. >The
  1512. >Claw
  1513. >Yass
  1514. >You sigh and set down your brush
  1515. >That's one more Wriggler done
  1516. >You flip him over and grab a permanent marker
  1517. >W14
  1518. >You set him aside and grab your notepad
  1519. >Wrigglers
  1520. >Subspace Claws:
  1521. >W1, W2, W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, W8, W9, W10, W11, W12, W13
  1522. >W... 14
  1523. >You hum to yourself as you add this guy to the other lists
  1524. >He's got Subspace Claws, the Mindless trait, Pod Mate and Improved Carapace
  1525. >You sigh and look at your army
  1526. >You're bringing a lot fewer this month
  1527. >Out of your hundred thirty, only eighty are coming now
  1528. >These improvements will be worth it...
  1529. >Just to see Sour Patch's face when you drop three Egg Pods turn two
  1530. >Heh
  1531. >Kek!
  1532. >You pick up the next one and your brush
  1533. >...The tourney will last till 11 PM
  1534. >Will anyone notice Amber missing?
  1535. >You slowly dip your brush into Terra Gold
  1536. >And you slide the bristles against the open part of the little bottle
  1537. >Then you put the brush in some water
  1538. >Thinning paint...
  1539. >...You can slip out and do a quick patrol right now
  1540. >Augh
  1541. >You set the brush down and grab a marker
  1542. >W15
  1543. >You set him down and grab up your notebook
  1544. >You sigh as you scribble some more
  1545. >The CPD will notice
  1546. >You set down your notebook and pen and grab your forehead
  1547. >Okay
  1548. >So
  1549. >The CPD will notice you gone
  1550. >And the tourney will happen next month
  1551. >Leaving you with a gap that has to be filled
  1552. >You set down this little guy and stand up, heading out of the kitchen
  1553. >Gotta get some air
  1554. >You walk past the living room and smile at Ma
  1555. >She's napping, with the TV on
  1556. >"Horizon. Investigators believe-"
  1557. >You stop
  1558. >"The style is very similar. Police believe that this Magenta Sunrise may be an accomplice to Amber Horizon."
  1559. >You take a step back
  1560. >"The police should do something about those rats running around, huh, Indy?"
  1561. >You sock your dad in the chin
  1562. >You both grab yourselves and groan
  1563. "Dafug are you doing here!?" You make sure to whisper so mom doesn't wake up
  1564. >He rubs at his chin some more, and rolls his jaw
  1565. >With a nod, dad mutters, "Good right hook..."
  1566. >You glare at him and raise your fist again
  1567. >"God, lay off. BB asked me to drive you to your toy game. Pack your shit."
  1568. >You roll your eyes and cross your arms
  1569. "First, fuck off with the toy game nonsense. Second, it's not till 6, third, I can walk."
  1570. >He scoffs
  1571. >"I got shit to do, Indy. Enough games, pack up and lets go."
  1572. "I'm not going." You wander back to the kitchen and sit down, tossing your hair back up into a ponytail
  1573. >You grab up a Husker and check your notes
  1574. >Dad slaps the table
  1575. >"I ain't fuckin around, Indy, let's go!"
  1576. >You glare up at him and put a finger to your lips
  1577. >Shhhh. "Ma's sleeping."
  1578. >He throws his hands half way up and leaves the kitchen
  1579. >Huskers are losing their Terra-Bane bolters and gaining...
  1580. >You flip the page back and forth
  1581. >Gaining... Extra armor?
  1582. >Carapace and armor don't stack though...
  1583. >Wot de zog
  1584. >You stand and hustle to your room
  1585. >You can't help but notice dad's sitting next to mom in the living room
  1586. >Hm
  1587. >Whatever, that's fine
  1588. >Once in your room, you grab up the Slugganoid Codex...
  1589. >And see a little box on your nightstand
  1590. >It's labeled "To: Indy"
  1591. >You grab it too and walk back to the kitchen while flipping through your book
  1592. >Why armor...?
  1593. >Okay, armor, armor...
  1594. >Hm
  1595. >'Slugganoids gain no benefit from wearing armor since it is not designed for their forms'
  1596. >'However, that only-'
  1597. >Ohhhhhhh yeah!
  1598. >Armor adds +2 armor against shrapnel and +2 against shell cracking...
  1599. >Yer fuggin smart
  1600. >Huskers' size means they can get hit by three grenades in a round...
  1601. >You sit down and quickly start painting
  1603. >Ugh
  1604. >Dad...
  1605. >At least you're at the tourney hall, surrounded by 200 nerds and no idiot thugs or... Whatever dad calls himself
  1606. >You slump down at one of the tables and pull out your army
  1607. >Almost fugging... Ruined your paint job like a hundred times
  1608. >You look over all of them, one at a time
  1609. >Yeah...
  1610. >15 Wrigglers, 15 Huskers, 15 Decapedes, 15 Webbers, 10 Grub Tossers, 5 Terror Formians, 3 Hive Bosses, 2 Titanic Queens
  1611. >80 big bad bugs. Yeah
  1612. >They're all okay
  1613. >"Nice paintjob, Indy."
  1614. >You grin up at the L1
  1615. >He hands you the usual forms and stuff for entry and carefully look over one of your Huskers
  1616. >"Changing it up? Care to share?"
  1617. >You shake your head, smirking
  1618. "Nah, dude. Not out loud anyway."
  1619. >You scribble in the usual and pull a copy of your army list out of your backpack
  1620. >He sighs and trades forms for your Husker
  1621. >"I'll be watching... Don't let Sour get under your skin this time, okay?"
  1622. "I mean, I'll try..."
  1623. >You shrug as he reads your list and whistles
  1624. >If Sour Patch starts something...
  1625. >Well
  1626. >You're gonna kick her ass in a game
  1627. >Maybe kick her ass after, too
  1628. >You've...
  1629. >You blink
  1630. >You grab at your soft belly
  1631. >And the harder abs underneath
  1632. >You...
  1633. >You can totally destroy Sour now...
  1634. >You slowly sit up
  1635. >And pretend to look over your notes a bit
  1636. >Your hands are shaking
  1637. >You really need to keep your cool this time
  1638. >If you fight Sour, you might end up knocking her out
  1639. >Or worse
  1640. >Sour Sweet is just a chubby girl with a fat butt and big boobs
  1641. >She might have a few inches on you, but...
  1642. >Amber's been knocking out groups of thugs for weeks now
  1643. >You gulp and close your eyes
  1644. >If she picks a fight with you...
  1645. >Can Amber throw a fight?
  1646. >S-she... Sour's not a thug or a villain
  1647. >It'll.... It'll be okay
  1648. >You think
  1649. >Your brow furrows as you imagine all the ways that fight could go
  1650. >A fist to the face
  1651. >A knee to the gut
  1652. >A literal ass kicking
  1653. >Table breaking, chair slamming, neck slamming, figure smashing
  1654. >Augh
  1655. >First dad, now this
  1656. >No matter what Sour's got planned, you're gonna have to keep yourself from busting a vein when you see her
  1657. >"H-hey, Indy."
  1658. >"Salutations, Indigo!"
  1659. >You look behind
  1660. >Twi and Trix are wavin and comin to ya
  1661. "O-oh hey! Yo, wassap?" You smile and wave
  1662. >Okay, you can handle a bit of these two, you know that for sure!
  1663. >They drop their giant backpacks onto the table, and the whole thing jumps
  1664. "Wat."
  1665. >They snicker
  1666. >"P-part of o-our new p-plan."
  1667. >"Yes! We shall blow away the competition!"
  1668. >Smirking, you shrug
  1669. "Can't wait..." You relax again, waiting on round 1
  1670. >"Ms. Zap! Is there anything new happening?"
  1671. >Shrug
  1672. >Not gonna say anything about your army...
  1673. "Uh... I lost weight. Like a lotta weight."
  1674. >They sit across from you
  1675. >Twilight does
  1676. >Trixie stands next to her, holding her arms behind her back
  1677. "I-I noticed. Y-you look r-really good!"
  1678. "Heh." You shrug, feeling your cheeks burn up
  1679. >You're about to say something, but Trixie's phone goes off
  1680. >Twilight glares at her
  1681. >"P-put it away! W-we're at a t-t-tournament!"
  1682. >"Oh, but Trixie can't help it! Amber is so interesting, she has to check all the news now!"
  1683. >Uh
  1684. >Twilight just bats at Trixie some, with Trixie dodging away to read her news update
  1685. >"S-silence it!"
  1686. >Trixie smirks and does some things on her phone and puts it away
  1687. >"I-Is it on m-mute?"
  1688. >"Maybe!"
  1689. >You rub your forehead and look away
  1690. >How many people talk about Amber?
  1691. >How popular is she?
  1692. >You didn't ask for this!
  1693. >You don't want to-
  1694. >What if someone figures out you're Amber?
  1695. >Holy. Moly. That's a bad thought
  1696. >How would they figure it out though?
  1697. >"So Indigo!"
  1698. >You snap to Trixie
  1699. >She grins bobbibg her head back and forth
  1700. >"Trixie cannot help but notice! You have been ahead of the fashion curve!"
  1701. >Wha
  1702. >What are you wearing?
  1703. >Tights, a faded Black Sabboth tee, high tops
  1704. >You stare at your bracelets and looks back at Trixie and Twilight
  1705. "Wut?"
  1706. >They both point at their ponytails
  1707. >You also have a po-
  1709. >You take a deep breath and don't freak out
  1710. "Oh, yeah! Yeah, I just like keeping my hair outta the way!"
  1711. >Awkward chuckle (since these nerds won't notice)
  1712. >Still
  1713. >They giggle with you
  1714. >Twilight winks. "I-I never noticed, b-but you're p-pretty good l-looking."
  1715. >...wat
  1716. >She grins wide
  1717. >"Y-you look k-k-kinda like a b-blast from the p-p-past!"
  1718. >You stare at her
  1719. >Trixie gives her a strange look
  1720. >"Trixie did not know you liked girls, Twilight."
  1721. >Twilight sputters and starts batting at Trixie again
  1722. >They run off, Twi hitting Trixie, Trixie ducking and holding her head...
  1723. >They end up leaving their stuff behind
  1724. >"Yo!"
  1725. >You flinch under the girl's hand
  1726. >You glare up at Sour Sweet
  1727. >Looks like she's dressed up again!
  1728. >Low riding shorts and a crop top, very classy
  1729. >Good for a family friendly event, yup
  1730. >Just let those fat tiddies and that jiggly ass hang right out
  1731. >Good for the kids
  1732. >She's why the event can't be simulcasted on youtube
  1733. >And with how she's standing, all you can really see is her fat udders
  1734. >...Freckles
  1735. >She bends over, laying herself against your shoulder as she holds the other
  1736. >Gawd she smells like a strawberry milkshake and fries
  1737. >"You're looking good, Indy!"
  1738. >She pulls you close into a soft hug
  1739. >But then she snarls
  1740. >"Decided to finally cut all that beef?"
  1741. >Amber's fist clenches as Sour Sweet holds you in a warm and sweaty hug
  1742. "Ya know."
  1743. >"Hm~?" She gets close enough that her cheek presses against yours
  1744. >Oh gawd
  1745. >The smell
  1746. >How have you never noticed how horrible she smells?
  1747. >Your stomach turns upside down and your eyes roll up
  1748. "Y-you reek."
  1749. >She grunts and stands up
  1750. >"That's my perfume, numbskull. Maybe wisen up a bit and start acting like a woman."
  1751. >You pinch your nose and the words come out
  1752. "Is that what you call that outfit? Womanly clothes? Really showing how womanly you are there, Sweet Cheeks."
  1753. >Her eye twitches and her arms tense up
  1754. "Smells like you hit McDicks for a shake over the way here. And like you went out for some fast food."
  1755. >Teeth grinding
  1756. "Speaking of McDicks, were they playing your favorite song? Ya know, the lunch bell?."
  1757. >Sour's eyes are bulging out and she's squeezing her fists now
  1758. >Is this you or Amber?
  1759. "I always wondered... They kick drunks out of bars... Do they kick you out after your fourth quarter pounder?"
  1760. >You're out of your seat before she can tackle you, leaving her bowling over it
  1761. >She's growlin now, hoo boy
  1762. >Heh
  1763. "Hey, you okay? Last time something Equestrian dropped that fast, the Neighponese responded with Pearl Harbor."
  1764. >You think Amber is smarter than you
  1765. >Neat
  1766. >Sour screams from her tangle in the chair and jumps to her feet, almost grabbing you
  1767. >But Amber's too fast
  1768. >You're too fast
  1769. >You can't believe you can move like this
  1770. >You and Sour Sweet used to be pretty even, but now...
  1771. >"H-hey, Sweetie!"
  1772. >Sour stops stock still
  1773. >Then smiles sweetly at Twilight, who just returned, pulling Trixie by her sleeve
  1774. >"Oh, Twi~! How good to see you here!"
  1775. >She almost runs around the table and scoops Twilight and Trixie up into the same hug
  1776. >The three join together into a giggle fit
  1777. >"Okay everyone, quiet down for a bit." The tournament's L3 calls out on the intercom
  1778. >The hall quiets down
  1779. >"Please line up, pay admission, grab a ticket, and pairings should be up in ten to twenty minutes, thanks." Some static and he's quiet again
  1780. >Time to get to it
  1782. >You roll some dice between your fingers and size up your round 1 opponent
  1783. >Some kid from outta town
  1784. >Real cool dude
  1785. >Poser, looks like it
  1786. >Got himself an internet list of an army, too
  1787. >Didn't bring any structures
  1788. >Defaulted every rule
  1789. >Amauteur Hour nods behind his cool kid sunglasses
  1790. "You ready to get roflstomped?"
  1791. >He scoffs and rolls out his dice
  1792. "I roll first."
  1793. >"Shit." He quickly scrambles them up
  1794. >You internally smirk
  1795. "No swearing."
  1796. >He flinches, fixing up his sunglasses. "Kay. Sorry."
  1797. >You've already won... Heh
  1799. >You jot down 'Win' and hand it to the third dude so far so he can sign it
  1800. >He was okay
  1801. >Surprised you with some obscure ruling on Slugganoids in his army
  1802. >But he got the ruling wrong, as you told him
  1803. >So he had an illegal army
  1804. >So he had to cut out a tenth of his units
  1805. >Tried so hard, got so far...
  1806. >Aight so that's three rounds down and three to go
  1807. >Bah
  1808. >Its more like
  1809. >Three hours down, two hours till the finals vs Sour
  1810. >Bluh
  1811. >Your match is over...
  1812. >You grab a clown water and relax at your table
  1813. >"Indigo Zap...?"
  1814. >Wha
  1815. >Some old dude on a cane
  1816. "Uh. Hey dude. What's up?"
  1817. >He smirks and looks behind himself
  1818. >Wha...? There's some other, bigger old dude behind him, carrying a leather box
  1819. >With a grin and a grunt, he puts the trunk thingie down on the table
  1820. >He groans and straightens his back, making a lot of popping noises that the smaller man doesn't seem to like
  1821. >The bigger man continues to grin as the smaller guy sneers at you
  1822. >"It appears we will be competing against one another in the coming round, Indigo Zap."
  1823. >Uh
  1824. "Wha? How do you figure, pairings aren't even up..."
  1825. >"Oh, I'm quite aware. However, this late into the tournament, one can determine their most likely of upcoming matches."
  1826. >Your brow furrows
  1827. >Wha...
  1828. >Okay?
  1829. "Y-yeah, sure, dude. Whatever you say."
  1830. >His grin turns sour
  1831. >He raises his cane and swats it down on the table, making a huge boom and almost knocking you out of your seat
  1832. >Your heart pounds, and the old dude snickers
  1833. >"You kids sure are jumpy these days."
  1834. >Fugging
  1835. >Ass
  1836. >Your heart is pumping a mile a minute and your side is hurting again
  1837. "F-fug you."
  1838. >"My my..." He takes a seat at your table and swats at the bigger old guy who starts unpacking the small trunk
  1839. >"I had no idea youngings were so rude in this city."
  1840. >Your heart is still pumping, but you glare at him
  1841. "At least our local seniors are polite."
  1842. >His lip curls
  1843. >Dude's teeth are so yellow-
  1844. "Hey, do you spit a lot?"
  1845. >"What...?" He narrows his eyes as the bigger man pauses
  1846. "I'm just saying, you better not. Butter is a trip hazard."
  1847. >His eyes widen as he snarls
  1848. >You recline in your chair, stuffing your hands in your pockets
  1849. >And that seems to be the last straw, you guess
  1850. >He starts for you, holding his cane in both hands
  1851. >"Brother, watch your temper."
  1852. >He glares at the big guy, who's finished putting the minis down
  1853. >"You'll do well to remember your place and shut your mouth."
  1854. >He glares back at you. "And you as well."
  1855. "How's ED treating you?"
  1856. >He silently stares at you, gaze darkening, and inside, you flinch as your side starts hurting
  1857. >He leans back and a chair... Comes under him
  1858. "...wat."
  1859. >He snaps his cane down into a thinner pen and pockets it
  1860. >"Ignorant child. I came here to humiliate you in this game."
  1861. >He motions toward the table, where the big guy is setting up beautifully painted terrain now
  1862. >Gotta see this up close...
  1863. >Damn!
  1864. >It's all black iron and groady, dirty steel, and he even laid down a red texture map...
  1865. "Is... Is that Mars?"
  1866. >The big guy smiles and nods, and finally talks
  1867. >"I figured you'd appreciate it."
  1868. >Wait
  1869. "Scorpan?"
  1870. >The older gentleman nods, bowing slightly
  1871. "What're you doin here?"
  1872. >He wrings his hands a little
  1873. >"Scorpan goes where I tell him to. Now come play this infernal game."
  1874. "Dude, pairings aren't even up yet, and we're between rounds."
  1875. >You pick up your backpack
  1876. >The L3 starts up on the speakers as you do so
  1877. >"Pairings are up."
  1878. >You glance at the old dude
  1879. >He smirks
  1880. >You frown and go off to get pairings
  1881. >You can feel him watching you as you hustle past neckbeards and skinnier nerds
  1882. >Aside from a quick smirk or smile, you mostly ignore any of your competitors/friends as they go on making a commotion over who they're up against and who they're being passed over
  1883. >You grab one of the pairing sheets...
  1884. >Indigo Zap
  1885. >Das u
  1886. >vs
  1887. >...No one
  1888. >You got a free win this round
  1889. >...wat
  1890. >You glare back at your table
  1891. >The old man smiles at you, showing off his yellow teeth, which are just as gross from this distance
  1892. >Fug
  1893. >You start back to him
  1894. >He's just smirking in his seat
  1895. >Scorpan standing behind him, like a vintage bodyguard
  1896. >Who is this guy?
  1897. >You stop at the table, and drop your backpack with just enough care
  1898. >He motions to your chair
  1899. >You ignore him and pull out your army box in one hand
  1900. >It weighs heavily in your palm as you stare him down and your side pulses angrily
  1901. >You don't...
  1902. >Indy doesn't know who this guy is
  1903. >But he gives you the kind of creeps thugs give you
  1904. >But worse
  1905. >He makes you sick and you don't know why
  1906. >You just know, deep in your stomach, that this guy's bad news
  1907. >With a swift flick of the wrist, you set your reinforced box down into the wastes of the Martian desert
  1908. >He chuckles as you cross your arms
  1909. >"Oh? Your demeanor has changed. Why would that be?"
  1910. >You unclasp the box and puts figures out one at a time
  1911. "Why do you want to play so much?"
  1912. >"I seek your challenge. A fledgling hero like you deserves to prove herself whenever she gets the chance."
  1913. >You put down some more of Indy's Wrigglers
  1914. >"When Scorpan alerted me to your presense, I was drawn to meet you."
  1915. >You pick up some dice from the corner of the box, juggling them in your hand without looking at the old man
  1916. >"I've been drawn to meet the amber eyed lass my brother was so invested in."
  1917. >Those amber eyes raise to stare at him
  1918. >He smirks
  1919. >"You missed your appointment with Scorpan. That hurt his feelings."
  1920. >You narrow your eyes
  1921. >Scorpan attempts to say something, but the old man raises a hand
  1922. >He snaps his fingers, and Scorpan puts a small box of dice into his palm
  1923. >You don't know what his angle is, but he's going down regardless
  1924. >He makes your skin crawl under Indy's sweatshirt
  1925. "Roll for initiative."
  1926. >[spoiler]'Wrong game'[spoiler]
  1927. >It sounds cooler
  1928. >[spoiler]'Shid, u rite'[spoiler]
  1929. >The old man grabs five dice and tosses them at the table
  1930. >You drop your handful
  1931. >Most 6s first
  1932. >The dice clatter against Mars' surface as you glare at the sitting senior
  1933. >Before they even land, he asks, "Perchance are you a gambler?"
  1934. "You looking to make this interesting?"
  1935. >Your voice comes out in a loud grumble, unlike Indy's
  1936. >He chuckles, a dry, angry chuckle, but with a smile. "You could say that... But we'd be wagering information."
  1937. >The dice finally clatter to a stop
  1938. "What information, old man."
  1939. >His old face crinkles up into a grin. "Your name. Or rather..." He leans in toward the table
  1940. >The entire hall goes silent
  1941. >You can't hear him speak, but his accent makes it easy to see what he says
  1942. >"[spoiler]Your imaginary friend's name.[spoiler]"
  1943. >You coldly blink, maintaining your cool
  1944. >Indy panics
  1945. >But that's okay
  1946. >The dice are down, but neither of you have looked
  1947. "Sure. If I win, you tell me who told you she exists."
  1948. >He motions to Scorpan
  1949. >The big oldie leans forward, staring across Mars
  1950. >"Er..."
  1951. >"Sixes, Scorpan, sixes."
  1952. >"Ah." He looks again. "Three to one in Indigo's favor."
  1953. >The old man grunts and rises to his feet. "I contest."
  1954. >You look over his army. "Which of your units lets you seize initiative?"
  1955. >He smirks, raising a hand into his jacket
  1956. >Out comes a small leather book
  1957. >"My 10 Raven Bolters have Seize."
  1958. "My 15 Huskers have Sneak Attack, negating your first 15 instances of Seize."
  1959. >You stare at him
  1960. >He furrows his brow and lays down his book, set to his army list
  1961. >"So be it. You're first."
  1962. >You stare at him as you grasp at your army case
  1963. >His smirk slowly drops into a sneer as Indy sets down unit after unit across Mars' barren
  1964. >You let her put down the giant figures, and that's where she ends it
  1965. "Finished."
  1966. >"This is your army? Where are your Huskers? What of the rest of the box?"
  1967. "Place your units."
  1968. >He grumbles a bit and snaps his fingers
  1969. >Scorpan assembles a huge army of one hundred Black Ravens
  1970. >Their specialty is magi- psionics and swarming
  1971. >The only army that can compete with Slugganoids in numbers
  1972. >Good. You smirk
  1973. >"Impressed? I thought you'd appreciate a challenge. I didn't expect you to sabotage yourself, however..."
  1974. >You pick up your dice
  1975. "Deployment has ended. Turn one: begin."
  1976. >You glide your hands over the giant units, scanning each in turn
  1977. >Indy grabs the big red ants and moves them in different directions
  1978. "2 Terror Formians accelerate using Haste to establish two points."
  1979. >The old man nods
  1980. "They fall at rest, speed dropping to half, gaining +3 armor."
  1981. >"Very well, my-"
  1982. "No."
  1983. >You glare at him, and he returns the motion
  1984. >"You've taken your tu-"
  1985. "My Terror Formians acted on haste. A number of units equal to the turn counter +1 with haste can act in addition to the standard 1 unit per turn."
  1986. >He fumes a bit... "Fine, then. Carry on."
  1987. >You stare at him a moment longer, but Indy grasps for a beetle
  1988. "1 Hive Boss will move and climb this building, ignoring obstacles less than 5 centimeters tall along the way."
  1989. >She measures out the distance and puts it on top of a turned over car-tank.
  1990. "It readies a special action to call reinforcements next turn as a free action, as does the other 2 Hive Bosses, both Titanic Queens, and all 5 Terror Formians."
  1991. >You maintain eye contact
  1992. "Now. Your turn."
  1993. >The old man gazes across your miniatures, then snaps his fingers.
  1994. >"Scorpan, move my Ravencaster to the front. When she moves, her Black Apprentices move with her. As long as they are in formation, her spells gain +1 damage, +5 centimeter range per Black Apprentice, and for every two, she can cast one more spell per turn... Additionally, she allows each of her Black Apprentices to cast at +5 range."
  1995. "While in formation."
  1996. >He half shrugs, both hands on his cane. "Naturally."
  1997. >The Ravencaster has 6 Black Apprentices
  1998. >Your Terror Formians are 100+ centimeters away, holding 2/12 points
  1999. >"She will cast Black Warp, giving all Black Ravens Subspace Resistance and +1 armor. She will do this three times-"
  2000. "She will do this twice."
  2001. >He furrows his brow. "Three times... She has Six apprentices, giving her thr-"
  2002. "She has three apprentices in formation. You announced casting your spell after moving. Their placement is finalized and they are no longer in formation."
  2003. >He blinks, mouth gaping a little, then snaps his gaze down at Mars
  2004. >His rickety body moves closer and he pulls a protractor from his jacket pocket, waving about his units
  2005. >You allow yourself a smirk as he desperately tries and fails to find an angle where all of his apprentices are within 3 centimeters of his Ravencaster
  2006. >"How could... Scorpan!" He snarles, throwing the protractor at the big man
  2007. >"You imbecile, can you do nothing right!?"
  2008. >Scorpan sighs and picks up the protractor, handing it to the little man
  2009. >"Sorry. I don't know this game that well."
  2010. >The little man starts batting his big guy with his cane
  2011. >He's crippled himself
  2012. >Black Ravens need that opening move or else they lose 90% of their fire power until turn 2 or turn 3 if the initial Ravencaster is slain
  2013. >Which she will be
  2014. "Your Ravencaster casts Black Warp twice. My turn."
  2015. >He grumbles at Scorpan and turns back to you. "Yes, yes, take your turn."
  2016. >Indy points at your Terror Formians, Hive Bosses and Titanic Queens
  2017. "My Terror Formians call out 5 pods of 3 Wrigglers each. My Hive Beasts call for 3 pods of 5 Huskers, while my Titanic Queens each call a pod of 5 Decapedes and 5 Webbers."
  2018. >You unclasp your box and pull out 10 Slugganoid pods
  2019. "They can be placed anywhere within 50 centimeters of the units that called them."
  2020. >You set all the Huskers within movement range of his Ravencaster, while the rest are fanned out from your base
  2021. >You flick your eyes up to stare at him
  2022. "...These 6 Pod Mate Huskers accelerate using Haste, moving as one unit, and approach your Ravencaster and her Black Apprentices."
  2023. >You measure out double their range, 60 centimeters, and move
  2024. >He chortles. "Next, they have Ambition, right?"
  2025. "Wrong. They have Scattershot, giving their ranged weapons double range and -1 damage after the normal range."
  2026. >He pauses, glaring down at your Huskers. "...Why? That's such a foolish trait to give, why would you!?"
  2027. "Because it's free as of the May errata and no one ever sees it coming. All 6 Huskers open fire on your Ravencaster, dealing a minimum of 6 damage, killing her."
  2028. >You grab dice
  2029. "Rolling for structural damage and Apprentices."
  2031. "Time in round."
  2032. >Old man grumbles and looks at his watch. "Sixteen out of sixty minutes past."
  2033. >He leans closer to the remains of Mars
  2034. >Indy has had the Decapedes annihilate the landscape. Every building has been turned into rubble
  2035. >Webbers have created a maze for foot soldiers to traverse
  2036. >Grub Tossers are poised at each cardinal point, and with two at the center of the field
  2037. >The Terror Formians are currently dismantling his vehicles, and Indy's Hive Bosses prevent any of their private entourage from dying
  2038. >While the Titanic Queens spew out one or two Wrigglers for every Wriggler that dies
  2039. >[spoiler]'Got this shid locked down.'[spoiler]
  2040. >Yup
  2041. >If Indy says so
  2042. >[spoiler]'She fuggin says so!'[spoiler]
  2043. >The old man grumbles and motions to his Blackriders
  2044. >"Ignoring all obstacles below 1 centimeter, my Blackriders accelerate with Haste toward your Titanic Queen, attacking with Black Warp rounds."
  2045. "Success on 6s, Armor 5."
  2046. >He pauses, gritting his teeth, almost foaming at the mouth
  2047. >"Success on 5s, rerolling 1s."
  2048. "Your Blackriders are far from your Blacklight Beacons, losing the reroll, and Blackriders lose their Success on 5s if they move more than their initial 40 centimeters."
  2049. >The old man's face is boiling red, more than it already was and caked in sweat. "Fine. Fine! Scorpan, roll!"
  2050. >Scorpan rolls
  2051. >You lock eyes with the old man
  2052. >At this point, he's leaning on the table with both hands, jacket unbuttoned and tie loosened, letting Scorpan move all the units and roll all the dice and hold his cane
  2053. >The dice bounce
  2054. "You're going to lose."
  2055. >He grinds his teeth
  2056. >The dice settle
  2057. >1, 3, 5, 6, 1, 3, 2, 2, 4, 5
  2058. "Your Blackriders fail to deal any damage to my Titanic Queen."
  2059. >His fingers curl against the textured map
  2060. >He snorts and stands upright, smirking
  2061. >He snaps his fingers and Scorpan hands him his cane
  2062. >"I concede."
  2063. "..." Your lip almost curls
  2064. >"I believe Canterlot is in good hands with such a sharp mind eliminating so many threats. I can see why you're worth as much as you are."
  2065. >He sneers as he buttons up his jacket
  2066. >His army begins to fade, along with yours, leaving the table bare
  2067. >You ignore that, while Indy loses her shit. "Tell me."
  2068. >"Ah..." He sets his cane against the floor with a tap. The hall comes alive with noise
  2069. >"Many parties have taken notice, Amber Horizon. These parties have requested I analyze you, for a pretty penny. To see if they should fear you."
  2070. "And?"
  2071. >He sneers
  2072. >"Keep cleaning the gutters for me, will you?"
  2074. >Its raining...
  2075. >Its only a light drizzle, but you're still in it, and Ma's gonna be worried
  2076. >That's unfortunate, but necessary due to your activities
  2077. >Starting tonight, you're gonna be cleaning the city at random times
  2078. >Indy doesn't have a calendar
  2079. >She'll have to log these dates into her planner
  2080. >The neon sign in front of you flickers
  2081. >Open Till Mid
  2082. >This is the only barber shop open this late
  2083. >In you go, jingling the bell along the way
  2084. >The only worker looks up from her magazine and points at an empty chair
  2085. >Foreigner
  2086. >She won't remember you
  2087. >Without much else to say, you have a seat, and she stands behind your chair with a pair of scissors
  2088. >"Very pretty hair! You cut?"
  2089. >Nodding, you grab up your hair near the scalp and mimic scissors cutting close
  2090. >"Oh so short! But you hair so pretty..." Despite her feigned concern, she starts combing and brushing your hair back, and you make sure to hold the end of your ponytail
  2091. >With a snip snip, your hair comes loose, falling into your grip
  2092. >Short blue lines trail up and down your forehead and around your crown, barely touching your ears as it all drops down
  2093. >"Good? You like? Want something else?"
  2094. >Spike or slick?
  2095. >[spoiler]'Why don't we have both!?'[spoiler]
  2096. >Damn
  2097. >You may be smarter, but Indy's the idea girl here
  2098. >Spotting a can of hairspray, you point
  2099. "Spike tips, and pull back."
  2100. >"Oki." The foreign hair dresser gets to work while you leer at your reflection
  2101. >She takes the loose strands and pulls them back
  2102. >They're cut up into jagged spikes and sprayed into place
  2103. >You appreciate that she takes extra care of the back of your head, pulling the hair far back and flicking it outward
  2104. >Sort of like what you imagine a girl's mullet would look like
  2105. >"You like?"
  2106. >The left and right look good, and you can see in the mirror that the back is good too. "I do."
  2107. >"Good good, I give you lollipop."
  2108. >She shuffles away, and you grasp at your empty pockets
  2109. >[spoiler]'Dude, not cool.'[spoiler]
  2110. >No, you have a 20 in your backpack
  2111. >Click
  2112. >You duck and the mirror explodes
  2113. >Without much thought, your toss the apron off at the scissor girl
  2114. >Blueberry Pop's already out of your bag and in your hands by the time she tosses it off and aims
  2115. >P O P, undercut to the chin
  2116. >Girl flies off her feet and into the air, just a few inches
  2117. >Your bat arcs down onto her face. breaking her nose into a bloody spurt
  2118. >Knocked out, she drops her pistol
  2119. >Fuck. Cameras?
  2120. >Yes, anyone watching will see you acted in defense
  2121. >After bagging and double bagging your ponytail, you pick up the phone
  2122. "Hey. It's me. Amber Horizon. Got another one. This one knew my face and tried to gun me down. Video evidence proves it. Beauty Salon, 4th and 3rd, Central."
  2123. >Hang up
  2124. >Grabbing the gun, you easily unload all the bullets onto the ground and set it onto the counter
  2125. >Time to go
  2126. >Oh
  2127. >You put a 20 down on the counter with a note
  2128. >'For services rendered.'
  2129. >'-AH'
  2130. >Running out of the salon, you take some alleys home
  2131. >This seems faster
  2132. >But
  2133. >You're face to face with four goons
  2134. >All foreigners, like the scissor girl
  2135. >Chain boy, crowbar, bat, steel knuckles
  2136. >"Pretty girl. Worth pretty money. Come easy, kay, lil girl?"
  2137. >Blueberry's already in your hand
  2138. >Time to take out the trash
  2139. "Come get me."
  2140. >[spoiler]BANG![spoiler]
  2141. >Steel knuckles flies forward, landing on his face
  2142. >The back of his jacket is totally torn up
  2143. >Ka-chick!
  2144. >At the back of the alley, there's... An old man in a beat up old winter jacket
  2145. >"You sum-bitch! Get outta mah city!"
  2146. >Another load blows chainboy to the side, but doesn't drop him, and they all start sprinting
  2147. >"I seen what's been happenin here, with the holligans runnin around, making trouble and causing fights, all the drugs, all the mayhem and violence! And I gotta say!"
  2148. >The boys are gone
  2149. >You're hiding behind a dumpster, luckily there was a nice cardboard box there
  2150. >But he steps next to you, and tears away the box, pointing a shotgun barrel down at your scarfed face
  2152. >[spoiler]'Fuck.'[spoiler]
  2153. >You stare up along the barrel
  2154. >Blueberry Pop is in your hand again
  2155. >Slowly, your eyes inch up the metal, and to this guy's dark hand
  2156. >Indy's losing her shit in the background
  2157. >Then up his arm; he's wearing a beat up old fleece jacket
  2158. >You're cool, though
  2159. >And his face is unshaven and torn into a snarl
  2160. >Your digits curl into the tape on your bat's handle
  2161. >Your amber eyes meet his black eyes
  2162. >You've got one shot to knock this barrel out of your face
  2163. >He's got a crazy look
  2164. >Quiet, Indy, stop yelling
  2165. >He's gonna shoot you
  2166. >Be cool, like me...
  2167. >[spoiler]This isn't a warning, Amber, it's... It's taking out the trash![/spoiler]
  2168. >...
  2169. >His fingers tighten
  2170. >And BB flies up!
  2171. >He shoots uselessly into the air, giving you a chance to jump to your feet
  2172. >Ca-chck, he cocks
  2173. >You side step around him, and your bat presses against his barrel
  2174. >He can't shoot you if he can't aim
  2175. >The shotgun pulls back, you move in
  2176. >It's butt flies at you, and you duck
  2177. >Letting him point straight down at you
  2178. >But this old man isn't as limber as you
  2179. >Maybe it's a ruined back, but he can't point straight down
  2180. >So you get to roll to his side and jab at his ribs, getting a loud grunt out of him
  2181. >"Lil Rat!"
  2182. >Before he can say anything else, you're on his back, bat around his neck
  2183. >There's a whole lot of groaning from the old dude, but he can't aim right behind him, get get a real shot at you
  2184. >Pretty sure he's got bad joints or something, with the way he's staggering
  2185. >But you got a good grip on him, with your heels up against his ribs, and BB pulling on his neck
  2186. >He can stagger around all he wants, you'll see any moves he has coming
  2187. >Like this-
  2188. >He's going to slam you into the wall, but his old legs can't move tha-
  2189. >Oof
  2190. >What the fuck
  2191. >Ca-chck
  2192. >With stars in your eyes, you blink and look up
  2193. "What...?"
  2194. >He's got you at the end of the barrel again
  2195. >"Got you right where I want you."
  2196. >Sure he does
  2197. >Old fart's got a few tricks, you guess
  2198. >Got your batting arm under a boot
  2199. >"You're smarter than these other thugs... What gang are you a part of?"
  2200. >You slowly blink away from your bat and up at the barrel
  2201. >You get a chance to blink once more before you notice his finger curling around the trigger
  2202. >Your foot flies up
  2203. >Right in the baby makers, old man's already doubled over and you got your wrist out
  2204. >Hand finds bat
  2205. >Bat finds old man, right in the knee
  2206. >Old man shouts down at you, but you're on your feet again for the second time now
  2207. >He's breathing heavy
  2208. >So are you
  2209. >He pressed you into that wall, and hard
  2210. >[spoiler]Like a trash compactor[/spoiler]
  2211. >The way he fights, the way he talks
  2212. >You're not stupid
  2213. >You know your kind
  2214. "I'm not in a gang. I hate gangs."
  2215. >He takes a breath and grabs his arm. "What about your friends?"
  2216. "About to mug me."
  2217. >He eyes you up and down, grimacing
  2218. >"The bat? Those moves? What's a girl doing with that kinda lethality outside a gang?"
  2219. >You draw your feet closer and slide Blueberry behind you. "I clean up my city the best I can."
  2220. >"Your city?" He spits to the side and marches toward you, shotgun at his side now
  2221. >He's just angry, so you let him grab your collar and shout, "This ain't your city, kid! It's mine! I love this city, she's my missus, I take care of-"
  2222. "-of her and she takes care of me."
  2223. >You stare at each other for a moment
  2224. >The old man gapes down at you, and lets go of your collar
  2225. >"I defended this city in the war. I went overseas, and when I got back, she was pretty enough, I wanted to see others like her."
  2226. >He raises the shotgun up so its in front of him, then slides his hand across the length
  2227. >"Thought she'd be alright. Thought others'd take care of my missus while I was out."
  2228. "Canterlot's like a second ma to me."
  2229. >"That right..."
  2230. >The old man sniffs and extends a dirty hand
  2231. >"Fraid I might've been letting my anger get the better of me."
  2232. >You spin BB up into the air, and she lands in your other hand, letting you shake his hand
  2233. >"They call me Cranky."
  2234. "I call myself Amber."
  2235. >Cranky nods, tapping a finger against his shotgun
  2236. >"Yeah, that's a good name, Amber. You're not in a gang? Where did you learn to fight?"
  2237. >You shake your head
  2238. "Didn't. It comes naturally."
  2239. >He nods again, looking away, working his jaw a bit
  2240. >Cranky adjusts his wool cap and pulls his shot gun up to hold it in one hand by his side
  2241. >"I heard once or twice that..." He rubs at his chin and looks back at you
  2242. >"I heard that, once when I was overseas, that only two types of people can fight 'naturally.'"
  2243. >Old man grunts a little as he pulls out and fidgets with some shells
  2244. "Only two?"
  2245. >"That's what they said."
  2246. >You stare at the old man, who stares at his ammo
  2247. >Finally, he chuckles. Dude sounds like he hasn't had a drink in a year. "Fiends... Like demons or devils..."
  2248. >He points at you with a dirty narrow finger. "And those who hunt them."
  2249. >Oh
  2250. "Well... Yeah, I guess that's me, huh?"
  2251. >He nods, loading a few more shells into his shotgun
  2252. >"I think so. And bout time too. This city needs someone like you. She needs someone to take care of her now that she's gettin on in the years, and God knows I'm too old..."
  2253. >Okay... That's sad
  2254. >But Cranky just shrugs and hides his shotgun under his coat
  2255. >"It's good, though..."
  2256. >He turns and squats down next to the guy he wasted
  2257. "Hey."
  2258. >Cranky looks over his shoulder at you. "Hey yourself."
  2259. >You move closer, switching BB to your good hand. Your other good hand
  2260. >Both are good
  2261. "I don't kill."
  2262. >"That's good." He rolls the guy over-
  2263. >Oh
  2264. >His shirt is all torn up and there's a bunch of torn up little holes in his chest
  2265. >You squat next to him and feel his neck
  2266. "Neither do you..."
  2267. >He grunts. "I kill, lil kid. Just not these kids. They've still got a chance to run away into something better."
  2268. >Cranky paws around the kid's jacket and pulls out a cell phone
  2269. "Let me."
  2270. >He gives you a funny look. "I usually call up the police-"
  2271. "To pick up the trash. Yeah. Can I?"
  2272. >Cranky and you stare at each other for a few seconds
  2273. >You tighten up your scarf a bit
  2274. >Sheathe Blueberry while you're at it, so you can hold your hands on your hips
  2275. >Cranky gives you that same funny look. "Who are you, Amber? Really?"
  2276. >You extend your hand. "Like you said, I'm a fiend hunter."
  2277. >He scowls
  2278. >"And I'm a good kid."
  2279. >He looks down at the phone and makes the screen light up. "Damn kids..."
  2280. >You move closer to him and snap your fingers to thumb toward yourself
  2281. "I'm the Champion of Canterlot, Amber Horizon. I'm gonna call in this punk kid."
  2282. >Indy smirks under the scarf
  2283. "So hand it over, gramps!"
  2284. >"Gramps!"
  2285. >Shit, he's standing up
  2286. >Cranky jabs a finger at Indy- at you
  2287. >You're Indy. And you're awesome
  2288. >"Who do you think you're calling gramps all of a sudden, lil kid?"
  2289. "You, old man!"
  2290. >Despite Amber shouting at you, you give him a playful punch
  2291. "Come on, lighten up, dude! You and me are practically besties! See, I fight crime? You fight crime? You're like my totally rad grampa and I'm your kickass grand daughter, see?"
  2292. >You smirk and show off your finger guns
  2293. >[spoiler]"He's gonna kill us."[/spoiler]
  2294. >Shut up, your sour apple routine didn't do it, it was worth a-
  2295. >"Heh."
  2296. >[spoiler]...That didn't fucking work. That didn't fucking work![/spoiler]
  2297. >Oh, but it did
  2298. >Cranky's chuckling as best he can, and even puts a hand on your head
  2299. >"Like a grampa, huh!" He hands over the phone. "Do your grampa favor then, like a good kid, call the trash pick up?"
  2300. >With a wink and a salute, you grab it up and start dialing away. "Sure thing, grampa!"
  2301. >[spoiler]May I?[/spoiler]
  2302. >Sure!
  2303. "Hey. It's me. Amber Horizon. Got another one, corner of 5th and 17th, Central Canterlot."
  2304. >"Stay right there! We're coming!"
  2305. >You hang up and grab- uh
  2306. >Cranky's pulling the punk already, got him at the curb
  2307. >What a good guy
  2308. >With that done, Cranky dusts of his hands and looks back at you
  2309. >You stare at him and nod, letting Indy talk to her grampa, who approaches
  2310. >"Seeing as how we're partners now, I think I better tell you a bit."
  2311. >Cranky lets out a soft breath as he looks down at you, his stubble covered cheeks moving about with an unsteady jaw
  2312. "What'd that be, gramps?"
  2313. >His lips smack and he looks around, then back at you. "Let's walk and talk." He's already half turned by the time you reply
  2314. "Sure thing." And a hustle you both do
  2315. >Cranky's not fast at all, as you'd expect from an old man, he's pretty slow
  2316. >But he's at least got the stamina to move across the city in the night, which it seems like you end up doing before he says anything
  2317. >As soon as you figure you're in South Canterlot, he sits down at a bus bench and pulls out a big case from under it
  2318. >He stuffs his shotgun in it and locks it, dangling the keys in front of you, then hooks them into a necklace under his shirt
  2319. "What did you want to tell me?"
  2320. >The streets are somewhat chilly at this hour
  2321. >You can take it, but it explains a bit of the chatter to Cranky's teeth
  2322. >"You in summer break?"
  2323. "I am." You nod
  2324. >You get a nod back, and a drawn out hum
  2325. >Grampa isn't talking much, but he looks like he's trying to put the words together
  2326. >A long sigh escapes you and you lean back
  2327. >South Canterlot looks like shit, as usual
  2328. >City council can't afford to let the money trickle through West, Central and East, so they don't bother anymore
  2329. >Instead they let North Canterlot have as many breaks as they need to make sure the prime real estate stays where it is
  2330. >Doesn't make any sense whatsoever, given that North Canterlot has similar real estate to the rest of the city
  2331. >But all that adds up to a shitty landscaping job and poorly maintained streets for the poor folks in SC
  2332. >Another curious glance at grampa, and he nods to himself
  2333. "Ready?"
  2334. >"I believe so, but I don't think you are, kiddo."
  2335. "I have a name."
  2336. >"Grampas give their gran'kids silly names."
  2337. "Fair enough. So what's up, grampa?"
  2338. >Grampa Cranky scratches at his cheek. "This city is divided against itself."
  2339. >You reply with a slow nod
  2340. >A sigh comes out of grampa. "It used to be..." He put his hand up, flat against the air, and slides it across. "Canterlot! City of Comraderie and Companions!"
  2341. >His hand comes down and points at you
  2342. >"But that... That was over forty years ago."
  2343. >His hand drops into his lap. "Now you're lucky to get directions in this hell hole..." He rubs his face
  2344. >"Where did it go wrong?" Cranky looks at a street light that flickers
  2345. "The division?"
  2346. >"The division." He snarls
  2347. "Tell me about the division."
  2348. >You blink away the sleep
  2349. >"A massive rennovation project to make Canterlot look good by shoving all the shit and refuse into one part of the city while polishing up another part."
  2350. >He scratches at his chin and takes a deep breath
  2351. >"Didn't go over to well, looks like. Now we got a city divided against itself, for no good damn reason... It wasn't good, no sir."
  2352. >Leaning back against the chilly wood sends a soft shiver through your body as you listen
  2353. >Cranky gets a darker look in his eye
  2354. >"The division was the worst thing to ever happen to my dear Canterlot. Things ain't the same anymore, and no one seems to want them to be right again. People shouldn't treat each other the way they treat each other in Canterlot, Amber... They should be happy, and friendly... And not what this city's become."
  2355. "...You're rambling."
  2356. >It's a bit rude of you, but it's true
  2357. >"Bah, let an old man ramble."
  2358. "I'm going to fix Canterlot."
  2359. >"Oh?" Cranky turns to you and smirks. "How's that?"
  2360. >Your neck snaps back and forth, popping joints
  2361. "One punk kid at a time, clean up the crime. Then work on uniting everyone."
  2362. >"Tough business, cleaning up this city. How long you been at it?"
  2363. >You glare ahead at the street signs and look back at the past days
  2364. >Every alley you've slid into
  2365. >Every time you chased someone across a vacant lot and into a chain link fence trap
  2366. >Every goon with a bat to the face
  2367. >Tossing empty trash cans from rooftops
  2368. >Entangling idiots in discarded blankets
  2369. >Batting that one boot across a park to nail a mugger in the head
  2370. >Adding a roll of wrapping paper from the gift shop to your routine of BB to fend off two knifey kids
  2371. >Diving behind dozens of different cardboard boxes for a feint or cover
  2372. >Tripping punks using lead pipes at the hardware store
  2373. >Tossing dirt in the face of a gunner
  2374. >Clearing fire escape after fire escape after fire escape to fast travel across the rooftops
  2375. >Ducking into backdoors when you get the sense a shake down is going on
  2376. >Dumping water down a drain pipe to slip up some would be gang bangers
  2377. >Swiping a bottle and tossing it down so the cap comes up like a bullet into the nose of some dude
  2378. >All to bring down the trash that clogs the drains and clutters the streets
  2379. >Easily one a day
  2380. >And stretching it would say five a day
  2381. "A month. I've put away at least 80 thugs punks and ne'er do wells."
  2382. >"Only eighty. Only eighty, only eighty, only eighty..."
  2383. >Glaring at him doesn't bother him
  2384. >"You know... There's a lot of troubles in this city. And it ain't coming from the one off thugs and tough guys pushing people around for scratch and change."
  2385. >Your arms fold across your chest
  2386. >"You and I, we're not going to get anywhere beating up two bit goons in alleys."
  2387. >Cranky turns to you, shakes his head, and continues. "We've got to get rid of the ones who send those goons out in the first place. The people in charge, who have power over those punks and over these streets."
  2388. >What!?
  2389. "What?"
  2390. >"You think these kids were running around for no damn good reason?"
  2391. >Well...
  2392. "Yes."
  2393. >Cranky shakes his head and pats himself down a bit, then pulls out a notepad
  2394. >It waves through the air as he leers at you
  2395. >"There's four gangs..."
  2396. >The book comes open and you get to see scribblings and pictures all in different colors and inks
  2397. >A few pages are written in marker...
  2398. >Cranky holds up one page
  2399. >There's an apple drawn on it
  2400. >"Bad Apples, that's what I call em. They're all coutry boys and girls, part of the Apple family..."
  2401. >Cranky looks on at you, trying to catch your eyes, which is when you both have a stare
  2402. >"They're all over East Canterlot. They dress like cowboys and fight like bulls. Can't put em down, least not easy."
  2403. "How many have you met?"
  2404. >"Bad Apples?"
  2405. "Yes, Bad Apples."
  2406. >His brow knots together as he thinks
  2407. >"Hrm... I'd say sixty or so." He nods toward you. "That's a safe guess."
  2408. >Sixty...
  2409. "And you have put away all 60?"
  2410. >Cranky gives you a funny look and flips a few pages more. "Look here."
  2411. >The notepad is placed into your hand
  2412. >It's a list of names
  2413. "Who are they?"
  2414. >One of Cranky's dirty fingers taps the page, "That there's, the entire list of Bad Apples who got locked up after I put em away. And for everyone? A new one comes up."
  2415. "Wait..."
  2416. >You slowly look up at Cranky
  2417. >He nods before you can speak
  2418. "But."
  2419. >He shakes his head now
  2420. "No."
  2421. >"Yeah. This is how Canterlot works, kiddo. You put away a punk, two more join the gang."
  2422. >Your shoulders slump
  2423. >That's really bad
  2424. >You put down 80
  2425. >80 more come in...
  2426. "How do they get so many?"
  2427. >Your response is a shaking head. "I don't know."
  2428. >Your head shakes down into your hand
  2429. "How can we beat their leaders then? With that kind of recruitment power, they can have a hundred men waiting for us by the time the justice system moves their bosses through."
  2430. >"That's not what we'll do." Cranky doesn't look at you as he speaks. He's watching a squirrel try to pry open a wrapped candy bar
  2431. >You whip your head to him. "I don't kill."
  2432. >Cranky doesn't say anything, so you slide off the bench and glare at him
  2433. "And if we work together, neither do you."
  2434. >Cranky rubs his chin and cheeks again. The squirrel opens the wrapper and starts on the candy
  2435. >You step in front of him and squat, glaring into his eyes
  2436. >Cranky puts his notepad away. "Iron Will, Flim and Flam, Cherry Jubilee and Rover."
  2437. "Yeah?" You refuse to stand, but he doesn't seem to care
  2438. >He's staring past you, at the street still
  2439. >"I've got their names. Took me a couple of years, some bullets, lost a bit of my left foot, but I got their names and faces."
  2440. >Shrug
  2441. "What do you do with names and faces? Did you go to the police?"
  2442. >Cranky is quiet
  2443. >You look over at the squirrel he's watching
  2444. >It's gone
  2445. >Most of the candy bar is there
  2446. >"It doesn't matter what I tell the police. These people are important to Canterlot society."
  2447. "What do you mean...?"
  2448. >A clear of the throat, and Cranky rambles a bit more.
  2449. >"What time you gotta be home?"
  2450. "I d-"
  2451. >"Your momma must be worried."
  2452. >A groan escapes your lips before you can stop it
  2453. "Yeah. Yeah, I hope she's okay."
  2454. >Cranky groans himself, and gets up. "Come on, I'll tell you a little bit you need to know along the way."
  2455. "Okay..." You follow after him and start heading toward your house
  2456. >Old dude can keep pace with your walking, which is good
  2457. >You two begin the walk back to your house, mostly leering around for any strange activity along the way
  2458. >"North, East, West and Central Canterlot are dangerous places for folk like you an me, kid."
  2459. >Your eyes drag up and stare through him. "Like us?"
  2460. >He almost snarls. "Good folk, who want change."
  2461. >You stare for a second then nod, looking forward again
  2462. "The South?"
  2463. >"Safe. It's where I lived till a couple of punks chased me out. Real nice place, near the ocean... Very nice."
  2464. "You lived on the docks."
  2465. >"I did."
  2466. >You grunt. "That means you're homeless."
  2467. >"So what if I am?"
  2468. "I'm surprised."
  2469. >Cranky gives you a weird look again. "How's that?"
  2470. >You blankly stare back. "I figured a good guy like you'd have friends or family."
  2471. >Cranky looks forward again as you both stop at a corner; this is the farthest you can go together
  2472. >"Had."
  2473. >[spoiler]Oh fuck no[/spoiler]
  2474. >You toss Amber away and hug gramps
  2475. "Dude, ya got me."
  2476. >He takes a second to reply, but Cranky hugs you back
  2477. >"You really are a good kid, huh?"
  2478. >Dude smells like sweat and smoke, but you didn't expect anything much better, to be honest
  2479. >"Aight." Cranky pats your shoulders and pulls you away. "Nuff'a that, go home, go on home to your momma."
  2480. >You let go of him and nod. "Kay, grampa, Imma go home. Don't go get yourself killed, kay?"
  2481. >Gramps snorts and starts laughing
  2482. >So you laugh with him
  2483. >Grampa's cool
  2484. >"Kid, you meet me at the docks tomorrow night, aight? We've got good work to do."
  2485. "What's at the docks, grampa? Sides your home, I guess."
  2486. >"My home."
  2487. "Oh." You stare at him, to try and see if he's gonna go further. He doesn't. "Kay."
  2488. >"We get that, we got a good start to cleaning this city up. For starters, I'll get a chance to sleep somewhere that ain't a bench."
  2489. >You snort at that, but shrug
  2490. "I getcha. We're gonna get you your home back, gramps, then get to work on this city. Gonna make her beautiful."
  2491. >Gramps grins
  2493. >1 2 3
  2494. >"Indy you got this!"
  2495. >Six hours of sleep is doing you pretty okay
  2496. >1 2 3
  2497. >In the zone
  2498. >"One minute left!"
  2499. >You nod and Blueblood yells more
  2500. >"Only one minute left?" Big Lem comes up from behind and you nod for him too
  2501. >1 2 3
  2502. >"I got you n Lil Lem a spar in half a hour. She'll be back soon, lemme know if ya nee'a breather."
  2503. >1 2 3
  2504. "Gonna beat her."
  2505. >Big Lem smirks as he reads from his clipboard
  2506. >"Sure ya are."
  2507. >1 2 3
  2508. >Lil- Uh
  2509. >Lem's not gonna catch you off guard
  2510. >You've got the speed to get a good shot off on her
  2511. >1 2 3
  2512. >"You grinning for the win, indy!?"
  2513. >You bob your head and keep on running
  2514. >You're gonna win!
  2515. "Gonna win!"
  2516. >Your hand slams down on the treadmill controls right as it beeps
  2517. >You stop and take a few deep breaths, slowing your breathing
  2518. "Gonna beat Lem today. Gonna get that hit in."
  2519. >"Gonna beat me today!?"
  2520. >By the time you turn, Lem's music is already blaring at you
  2521. >You grin at her and she grins at you
  2522. >Big girl's got her hands on her hips and her workout gear
  2523. >Lem gets closer and turns down her music. "Sup dude!?"
  2524. >You rub all the sweat off yourself. "Sup, Lem. Ready to get knocked out?"
  2525. >Lem snorts and waves out her hands a bit. "I been ready fer a while, but don't seem no one can give me tha big ol KO."
  2526. >She rolls her shoulders and throws her arms around you, giggling
  2527. >You giggle too and hug this big pink lug of a bestie you got
  2528. >Man, she might be the toughest girl you know, with the heaviest punches you've ever seen in person
  2529. >But damn if she ain't the softest, best... Hugger
  2530. >Big Lem puts his hands on both of your shoulders. "Aight, aight, save tha lovin for the ring, you two."
  2531. >You grin and rub at your cheek a little
  2532. >Lem winks at you as her dad goes on some more, and when he's not looking, she blows you a kiss
  2533. >Gosh, this fuggin girl don ease up
  2534. >Ya love it
  2535. >"That right?"
  2536. >You blink up at Big Lem and Lil Lem nods
  2537. >"Yessir, yessir. We're gonna have a fair fight, dad! Righ' Inny?"
  2538. >You bob your head, wiping some more at your sweaty face and chest
  2539. "Fair fight! Right! How else can you fight!?"
  2541. >You look at the pic of you and Lem, holding each other as she takes the pic
  2542. >It's earlier today
  2543. >Your both got those helmets on, gloves too
  2544. >And smiles
  2545. >She's poor and all, you get that
  2546. >But a god dang polaroid selfie?
  2547. >Of you and your best friend, too
  2548. >It gives you a... A warm feeling
  2549. >Oh gosh
  2550. >You're hugging the stupid picture
  2551. >And wearing a stupid big grin
  2552. >And curling up on your bed with it too
  2553. >Ma giggles. "Inny, you're gonna end up folding that dang thing in half and crumpling it up like that."
  2554. >You giggle and unwind. "Oops?"
  2555. >Ma shakes up your hair
  2556. >"You're growing up so fast! It's so cute!"
  2557. >You and Ma and your pic hug
  2559. >You look down at Ma sleeping as you strap your belt
  2560. >You take a deep breath and prepare to switch
  2561. >But before you do, or as you do, or whatever however this psychology thing works
  2562. >You notice that box on your dresser
  2563. >The fug is that?
  2564. >It's not heavy at all, but picking it up, you realize you don't remember where you got it
  2565. >'To Indy.'
  2566. >Ugh
  2567. >Where did you get this!?
  2568. >[spoiler]It appeared out of nowhere, when dad came to pick you up for the tourney[/spoiler]
  2569. >Right
  2570. >Thanks, Amber
  2571. >It's wrapped up in white, so
  2572. >What's in the box?
  2573. >Wiggle it open, tear up the paper...
  2574. >Wot
  2575. >The fug is... This?
  2576. >Goggles?
  2577. >You pick them up and stare at them
  2578. >Wot???
  2579. >The box has a letter inside
  2580. >Wot is this?????????
  2581. >This thing looks like it's written by a bunch of different people, what is this shid?
  2582. >Ugh, whatever, you're busy, so you stuff the box in your pocket
  2584. >South Canterlot
  2585. >You don't know where Cranky is, but you know where your bat is
  2586. >Blueberry Pop is light in your hand and your feet are light on the concrete
  2587. >No one's around
  2588. >At least
  2589. >No one thinks that you know anyone's around
  2590. >But you can sniff out the shit stinking up the docks and that isn't the bird streaks across the piers
  2591. >Easily twenty people the past half hour
  2592. >And not a peep out of any of them
  2593. >Fine by you
  2594. >But it's getting you a bit nervous, nah
  2595. >Anxious
  2596. >Itching... The word is itching
  2597. >You're itchy all over to scrub these kids across the concrete and wood
  2598. >But you're here for a reason
  2599. >Gramps' house
  2600. "Cranky."
  2601. >"Cranky who?"
  2602. "Cranky goddamn doodle dandy."
  2603. >Your bat points back at this kid with nice accuracy
  2604. "Now fug off unless you're gonna grow fifty years in an instant."
  2605. >You keep walking, and he follows
  2606. >"That ain't too nice."
  2607. "Neither is littering."
  2608. >"Littering?"
  2609. "What else do you call a bunch of trash laying around? Litter."
  2610. >"That's not very nice."
  2611. >This kid rounds you
  2612. >Goth kid
  2613. >Skinny
  2614. >Greasy hair
  2615. >Leather jacket
  2616. >No, fake leather
  2617. >You grimace
  2618. >Knife hidden in one pocket
  2619. >BB flies at that pocket, jamming his fingers, and he squeals
  2620. >He holds his bloody hand and whimpers
  2621. "You'll find I'm not too keen on looking at shit. Much like anyone, I figure, I prefer not to handle garbage unless I have to."
  2622. >"You bitch."
  2623. >He narrows his eyes and pulls his knife out in his bloodied hand
  2624. >You smack his hand again and the knife goes flying
  2625. >Just in time for his big bros to come running in and give you a punch to dodge
  2626. >"Not so tough now, huh!?"
  2627. >You two hand BB
  2628. >Turn her around, put your palm on the bottom
  2629. >Stab at the big bro's gut
  2630. "Yeah."
  2631. >Big bro crumples over like a top heavy trash bag
  2632. "I actually feel nice and small, thanks."
  2633. >You slide back and spin around big bro as he falls and use the momentum to get another big bro in the side of the head
  2634. >Two more big bros here, two more big bros hiding
  2635. >First off
  2636. >You kick the little shit in the face
  2637. >He drops, and that flushes out the other three big bros
  2638. >Whatever
  2639. >You duck under a few ham fisted punches from a couple of fat kids
  2640. >One of them you grab
  2641. >Half hand BB, grabbing in the middle
  2642. >She comes down on his elbow and you let him walk it off
  2643. >Four left, your first count was wrong
  2644. >They circle you
  2645. >That never helps these kids
  2646. >They all come at the same time, so you get a good slide out and let them barrel each other
  2647. >When the dust settles, you headshot one more
  2648. >Three
  2649. >BANG
  2650. >Everyone stops
  2651. >Ch-chck!
  2652. >Everyone looks across the pier
  2653. >There's that old man, with that shot gun
  2654. >He rolls his jaw back and forth
  2655. >"Please, let me welcome you to my home."
  2656. >He blasts a big bro in the chest, dropping him
  2657. >Everyone scatters, who has the sense to scatter
  2658. >You swing BB around and sheathe her
  2659. >"Hey grampa."
  2660. >Cranky grins and pulls you in for a hug
  2661. >"Good to see ya, kid. Glad you could make it."
  2662. "Of course. I have to give you a good house warming, right?"
  2663. >Cranky grins at that, and looks around
  2664. >"Friends of yours?"
  2665. >You shake your head. "I thought they were visitors. I tried to give them a warm Cranky welcome."
  2666. >A dozen kids are piling in
  2667. >Grampa has a chuckle and rests his shotgun against his shoulder. "Well, I always say the more the merrier, what about you, kiddo?"
  2668. "I do love making new friends." You pull Blueberry Pop out and two hand her as you watch the crowd form
  2669. >Thirty now
  2670. >"Lets have a great house warming party, shall we?"
  2671. >A smug looking prick steps out from the crowd, cigar in hand. "So I see old m-"
  2672. >Your bat is on his nose
  2673. >He's down
  2674. >"Kiddo!"
  2675. >You look back at him
  2676. >He nods, smiling. "I always hated that little snot."
  2677. >You smile back as the crowd comes crashing at you both
  2678. >You jump over one punk, swinging BB around to break another's nose
  2679. >Before your mount can toss you off, you've already kicked another in the side of the head and when you finally get off, you vault kick him into the ground
  2680. >Cranky's not packing lead, but his shots do disperse the crowd around him nicely
  2681. >With two shots and a bashing, old dude's got five kids down
  2682. >Hm
  2683. >You duck and trip another goon and spear the one who tries to grab up on you
  2684. >Two more come, so you jump up and kick/bat them off
  2685. >Taking out the trash is good
  2686. >It's healthy, and good for your community
  2687. >1 2 3
  2688. >Everyone should do it!
  2689. >This one swings a knife at you, but you fall into his arms, against his soft belly
  2690. >1 2 3
  2691. >He doesn't have the sense to shank you, so you shank him and jump forward, clobbering another kid over the head
  2692. >1 2 3
  2693. >Cranky puts a hand on your shoulder and blasts the last punk there in the gut, blowing him off his feet
  2694. >You take a deep breath
  2695. >You both look on at the valley of destruction and over at a small makeshift porch with a simple light hanging over it, all in front of a storage unit
  2696. "Welcome home, grampa."
  2697. >"Thanks, kiddo. Good to be home."
  2699. >Cranky's got a nice place
  2700. >All things considered
  2701. >Table, bed, fridge, chairs, radio
  2702. >Can't ask for much more, 2bh
  2703. >You relax in one of his chairs and he roots around the place, moving stuff around and tossing other things out
  2704. >"I'll just be a minute..." He grabs up a bunch of kids' stuff and tosses it out the door
  2705. "Take your time."
  2706. >He puts a cherry cream cola down in front of you and you give him that weird look he gives you
  2707. >He shrugs and shakes his head. "All I got. Little weirdos and their fancy pants sodas and imported beers."
  2708. >He throws up a hand as he walks off to throw more stuff out
  2709. >"Drink it, or it's going in the trash."
  2710. >With a shrug, you crack the first soda you've had in... Weeks
  2711. >Yeah, since May
  2712. >As soon as you pop the tab, the room smells like cherries
  2713. "Oh, nice."
  2714. >He sniffs, and rubs his nose. "It is, yeah."
  2715. >Cranky goes back to throwing out the trash and you sip at your soda
  2716. >It's nice
  2717. >This is nice
  2718. >You... Er
  2719. >Amber never gets to relax
  2720. >She- you don't know how you feel about it, it's weird
  2721. >You feel like you should be investigating something at least
  2722. >You'll do that
  2723. >There's that box
  2724. >You pop it open and grab the goggles and letter
  2725. >Five different writing styles
  2726. >'Hey, Indy. This might not make a whole lot of sense, but I know you'll need these. I mean like, not these goggles, but all these letters from everyone. You got friends, okay? We're your friends and we care about you.'
  2727. >What?
  2728. >'Anyway, with that outta the way... Here's a pair of goggles. I know they look pretty boring, but hey, they're also really you. Not that you're pretty boring! Haha, naw, I mean they suit you, the cool car girl look you took so long to make.'
  2729. >Cool car girl?
  2730. >"Nice goggles, kiddo."
  2731. >You look up as Cranky sits down
  2732. >He's looking over the goggles, sort of turning them back and forth in his finger and thumb
  2733. >You bob your head and pick them up
  2734. "Thanks, they're a gift from a friend." As you say that, you wrap them on your forehead
  2736. >22nd and 14th
  2737. >Central Canterlot
  2738. >It's an older building, but it looks better than the rest of the area by a lot
  2739. >Like everything about the building looks better
  2740. >There's no grafitti
  2741. >There's no holes from bullets
  2742. >No litter
  2743. >The little tree at the sidewalk looks better even
  2744. >You guess this is where Dr. Scorpan is, right?
  2745. >Probably
  2746. >"This the place, Inny?"
  2747. >You nod and hug ma
  2748. >She giggles and hugs you back, but pauses
  2749. >"Why do you have your work out bag?"
  2750. "Uh."
  2751. >Don't lie
  2752. "In case the doc needs me to do some kind of tests. Don't wanna get my clothes sweaty."
  2753. >"Oh okay."
  2754. >Ma smiles again. "Have fun, Inny, and call me when you're done."
  2755. >You wave with her cell phone in hand
  2756. "Sure Ma."
  2757. >Ma gives you one last kiss on the forehead and gets back to her car
  2758. >Okay so
  2759. >There's no doorbell
  2760. >So you just like
  2761. >Open the front door...
  2762. >Oh shid, someone else grabs the door and opens it for you
  2763. >Some stoner chick in a poncho smiles at you
  2764. >She's tying back her dreadlocks
  2765. >"Sup, dude."
  2766. "Sup... Dude. Uh, is Dr. Scorpan in?"
  2767. >She gives the sky a distant smile
  2768. >Then looks to the side
  2769. >Then back at you
  2770. >"Yeah dude, come on in. He's been waiting for you."
  2771. "Nice..."
  2772. >She shuffles back in, leading you through the old house
  2773. >It's like a really old boarding house
  2774. >The place isn't perfect, but it's way better than the other houses around here
  2775. >Plus it smells nice, like fruit or something
  2776. >"I'm making a bunch of juice and stuff for a bake sale, you want some, Blue?"
  2777. >Looks like she's leading you to the kitchen, apparently
  2778. "Oh, uh, sure."
  2779. >She goes to get one of the ton of pitchers she has set up, and you sit down
  2780. >And you set down your duffle bag
  2781. >Kitchen's full of fruits, and like all kinds
  2782. >And some you've never seen before
  2783. >"Ah, young Indigo Zap!" An old, friendly voice announces you and you whip around
  2784. >Scorpan
  2785. >Big dude's wearing an old man suit, one of those jackets and pants combos that's no good for working business but awesome for saying 'hey I'm a grampa'
  2786. >He comes right at you just as the other girl is pouring out two glasses
  2787. >He grabs one and gives you a small smile. "Welcome, Indigo. I'm glad you could make it." He sips and nods toward the girl.
  2788. >"Great punch."
  2789. >She dazedly nods with a smile. "Thanks, dude."
  2790. >You grab your glass and sip some too
  2791. >Yeah, it's pretty good...
  2792. "I uh. Sorry I couldn't make it for like a month."
  2793. >But Scorpan just shakes his head and bats away your apology. "That's quite alright. I understand that you're busy."
  2794. >As he speaks, he unbuttons his jacket and pulls out a small hankie to wipe his mouth. "That said, I'd love to begin as soon as you are ready!"
  2795. >You chug down the rest of your punch and jump out of your seat, bag already in hand
  2796. "Kay! What kind of tests are we doing, doc?"
  2797. >Big guy chuckles into his fist. "Very simple ones. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but don't expect anything nearly as strenuous as you've been doing these past few weeks."
  2798. >Nod
  2799. "Right, right." You follow as he starts walking
  2800. >With a grunt, he starts up the stairs
  2801. >"My brother and I, our apartment contains the proper equipment. I'm going to be testing for the origin and circumstances of the affliction, it's... Well..."
  2802. >He clears his throat at the middle of the stairs
  2803. >He's so slow
  2804. >Poor guy
  2805. >"I won't bore you with the fine details, my dear Indy. I'm just going to check up on how you're doing to make sure that you're growing right and that that pain in your side isn't anything serious."
  2806. "Hey..."
  2807. >He pauses and looks back at you
  2808. "How'd you know about that anyway?"
  2809. >Scorpan pauses
  2810. >He smiles
  2811. >"Mr. Preserves, your fitness trainer, told me. I've been the Lemon family physician for generations, you see."
  2812. "Oh... Okay, that makes sense."
  2813. >He winces, grunts and begins climbing again. "Sorry for the air of mystery!" Old dude chuckles and sets a leather toed foot on the second floor
  2814. >"Stairs get harder to climb every day..."
  2815. >After a short breath, Scorpan smiles at you and wipes at his forehead
  2816. >"Now..." He replaces his hankie with a key and continues down the hall
  2817. >"Do you still feel the pain in your side?"
  2818. >Nodding, you tighten your grip on your duffle bag
  2819. "Sometimes, yeah."
  2820. >Scorpan's brow raises as he stops at the end of the hall. "Only sometimes?"
  2821. >You grab your side and hold the spot of pain
  2822. "Well... I guess I just don't notice. Anymore."
  2823. >You're both quiet as you stare at the spot of pain
  2824. >With a hum, Scorpan unlocks his door and opens up
  2825. >He opens up to his living room
  2826. >Couch, desk, book case- wait this isn't a living room
  2827. "Oh, yeah, you're a doctor."
  2828. >He chuckles. "Why yes, yes I am."
  2829. >You awkwardly smile and walk in, dropping yourself on the couch
  2830. >As you relax, big guy walks to his desk and grabs a big leather bag, like old doctors use. "Comfortable?"
  2831. "Oh, uh, yeah."
  2832. >"Good!" He smiles as he nears you. "I'm glad you're not nervous, the testing will go better that way."
  2833. >With a grunt, Scorpan pulls over a stool and sits in front of you and digs through his bag
  2834. >You sit upright so you're not all sprawled out for this
  2835. >He shows you a little hammer thingy while smiling
  2836. >"Let's start simple, shall we?"
  2837. >You roll your eyes and grin
  2838. >Scorpan tests your reactions, blood pressure, breathing, sight, hearing, weighs you, measures you like eight different ways, has you sing the abc's, measures your heart rate, compares your skin color to a couple of charts, checks your nails, carefully looks at a hair, and finally, finally
  2839. >Gives you a lollipop
  2840. "So what's the good word, doc?"
  2841. >He clears his throat and writes some things down on a form he has
  2842. >"You're..." He taps his pencil to his bearded chin
  2843. >After a deep breath, he winces. "Alive."
  2844. "Wew."
  2845. >"Yes... But more in depth, I could tell you that..."
  2846. >He checks his forms. "You are right handed, favoring your left for handling devices and buttons, or that you..."
  2847. >Another form. "Prefer to chew soft foods on your right side and brittle foods on the left..."
  2848. >You stare
  2849. >"But that won't tell you anything important, now will it?"
  2850. "You know all that?"
  2851. >"I do! But none of that is... Important to what we're doing today."
  2852. >He sets his clipboard down and weaves his fingers
  2853. >"I will now test the pain in your side."
  2854. >You nod and watch him extend a finger
  2855. >His nails are kinda long and pointed, but not sharp
  2856. >He moves toward your side and you watch as he slides your shirt up just enough to see part of your flat belly and your waist
  2857. >Gulp
  2858. >Poke
  2859. "Ah! Fuck," you slap his hand away
  2860. >Scorpan takes a deep breath and pats your shirt back down
  2861. >"I recommend continue doing your extra work outs. This pain will likely never go away unless you finish up your work here."
  2862. >Rubbing at your side, you cock a brow at him
  2863. "Wut?"
  2864. >The old man takes a deep breath and stands, grabbing his stool. "I... Find it difficult to explain, exactly."
  2865. >He drums his fingers across the stool as he looks up and thinks.
  2866. >"I suppose the best way to describe it would be..." He looks back down at you
  2867. "That you've developed a physical need to fight wrong doers."
  2868. >You stare
  2869. "Pffft." You start laughing
  2870. >And he joins you
  2871. >"I know it sounds silly..." He chuckles some more, "But it's true, Indy."
  2872. >You shake your head and stand up, setting your hands on your hips. "Dude, are you seriously telling me that I can sense people doing bad stuff?"
  2873. >He raises one hand and shakes his head.
  2874. >"No, no, not quite."
  2875. >He taps his chin and looks around, before pointing at one of the doors
  2876. >"Brother? I was going to the market, do you want anything?"
  2877. >The door opens and out comes the other old dude. "No."
  2878. >Scorpan looks at you as the pain flares, right when you see that old man's face
  2879. >Okay, you get it
  2881. >Okay, gotta play this game
  2882. >So, that pain
  2883. >Whatever, this pain in your side
  2884. >Like whatever, head in the game
  2885. >You know when people are bad guys
  2886. >No big deal!
  2887. >You toss your dice down
  2888. >1, 3, 6, 6, 5, 2, 6, 5
  2889. >+2 each
  2890. >"That's fucking cheating, give me your dice!"
  2891. >Ugh, you slide all of your dice to Sour Sweet
  2892. >She's the only one you can practice game against this week
  2893. >You stare at her, wishing she'd stop holding the game to test everything you have for faulty (aka cheating) changes
  2894. >She's not a bad guy
  2895. >You just don't like her cause she's a bitch
  2896. >Her and her fat girl tits and short shorts
  2897. >"What the fucks this!?"
  2898. >She slides right next to you, pressing your shoulder between her fat udders
  2899. >ffs
  2900. >...sniff?
  2901. >Making sure she doesn't notice, you sniff her
  2902. >She smells like cherries and lime
  2903. >And like actual soap
  2904. "Oh hey, you don't smell like day old burgers."
  2905. >She shuts up at that and you smirk
  2906. >"...yeah."
  2907. >Wut
  2908. >"I uh, didn't like how I smelled, so I bought, uh, some new stuff."
  2909. "Uh, it smells nice?"
  2910. >She shrugs. "Thanks."
  2911. "Yeah-"
  2912. >"This isn't for you, it's for Twilight." She frowns at you, squeezing you closer against her padded body
  2913. >Her belly is fucking warm. Your hand is getting burnt (not really)
  2914. "Hey, that's cool, let me go now."
  2915. >"No, not after I show you how you're cheating!"
  2916. >"H-hey g-girls. A-are we late?"
  2917. >Hey
  2918. >You both look back and you grin at Twi
  2919. >You smirk
  2920. >"Ya just in time, bae. C'mon over, give ya girl Indy a hug, I missed ya!"
  2921. >Sour Patch stiffens and lowly growls
  2922. >Twi giggles and bounds over to hug you
  2923. >Bit harder than you expected from a twiggy girl, but whatevs
  2924. >You hug her back and sneer at Sour
  2925. >[spoiler]Get cucked[/spoiler]
  2926. >???
  2927. >[spoiler]Don't worry about it[/spoiler]
  2928. >After a second or two longer than you expected, Twi peels away from you and pulls some hair behind her ear
  2929. >"S-so, h-h-how are y-you? B-both of y-you, I-I mean."
  2930. >She makes an effort of looking between both you and Sour
  2931. >In the background, her friend is unpacking their HSHW stuff
  2932. "I-"
  2933. >"I'm great! I'm happy to see you, Twilight, honey! I wanted to play with you, so I got here nice and early, and now that you're here, I'm so glad!"
  2934. >Sour Patch makes a show of tossing you aside (and failing) to jump and hug her
  2935. >Instead she sort of hop skips closer and throws her arms around Twi
  2936. >Twi wasn't expecting it of course, given the girl has like no response time aside from a yelp
  2937. >So Sour Patch ends up snatching her up and tripping
  2938. >Falling onto her
  2939. >And onto the concrete floor
  2940. >You almost jump to stop them
  2941. >But you notice in the split second before they land that they turned in mid air so they'd land on their sides
  2942. >You sigh and scoop up Twi, leaving Sour to groan and get help from Twi's friend
  2943. >(You keep forgetting her name)
  2944. "You aight?"
  2945. >She half shrugs, adjusting her glasses. "Y-yeah..."
  2946. >Aaaaaaaaaaaand she's palming your flat belly, so you set her on her feet and take a step back
  2947. >By now, Sour's up, but Twi ignores her for the most part
  2948. >"S-so, I-Indy?"
  2949. "Yeah?"
  2950. >Twi looks at her hands as she wrings them. "C-can we t-talk in p-private?"
  2951. >A gasp comes from Sour
  2952. >Despite what Amber's chuckling about, you have no idea what's going on
  2953. >So you shrug
  2954. "Yeah, sure..." You lead her away from Sour and to another part of the game hall, to get a water while you're at it
  2955. >When you're both far enough, Twi whisper stammers out something
  2956. >"S-so I h-heard, u-um, th-that you h-h-have a r-r-really cool f-friend?"
  2957. >[spoiler]What the fuck!?[/spoiler]
  2958. >Amber's outburst aside, you don't respond beyond, "Yeah?"
  2959. >She looks away, adjusts her glasses, and leans closer to whisper directly into your ear
  2960. >"C-can she h-help? M-my s-s-s-s-s-s-" She starts trembling and shaking like a broken down washer machine
  2961. >You grab her, and she stops with a huge purple blush and an embaressed frown
  2962. "Go ahead."
  2963. >She takes a shakey breath and pulls out a notepad and a pen
  2964. >She scribbles it out instead and hands it to you, with her head held down so her bangs hide her burning face
  2965. >You stare at her and grab the notepad
  2966. >It's for Amber
  2967. >So, you turn to the wall
  2968. >And you let Indy sit in the back for a second as you scan the sheet
  2969. >'Dear AH'
  2970. >'Over the past year or so, some people have been harassing my sister and her fiance.'
  2971. >'It's been the usual... You know, annoying kids who make cat calls and stuff.'
  2972. >'But ever since my sister started trying out to be a cop, the kids have been getting worse.'
  2973. >'Last month she came home with her taser out.'
  2974. >'Last week, her fiance had her car stolen.'
  2975. >'...Last night... My sister's fiance...'
  2976. >'...She...'
  2977. >'She...'
  2978. >...
  2979. >You set the notepad down and quietly glare at the wall
  2980. "She what."
  2981. >Twiley hiccups
  2982. >"Sh-she had a-a broken n-n-nose and her c-clothes were a-a-all ripped u-up-"
  2983. "Okay."
  2984. >You put a hand on her shoulder, glaring at the wall
  2985. "Where?"
  2986. >"I-Indy?"
  2987. >You look to where she is without turning your head
  2988. "My friend will need to know where this happened."
  2989. >She gasps
  2990. >"C-central Canterlot!"
  2991. >Twi jumps on you and squeezes, rubbing her face into your back
  2992. >She's mumbling into your shirt
  2993. >[spoiler]Who's in Central Canterlot?[/spoiler]
  2994. >If you recall correctly, Central Canterlot is controlled by Iron Will, a giant of a man
  2995. >[spoiler]He sounds like a big guy[/spoiler]
  2996. >You can only assume
  2997. >And for Twilight's sake
  2998. >Hope you can put him down
  3000. >It was a dry day today, but the streets are cool tonight, making your evening patrol comfortable
  3001. >You grip the railing of a fire escape and pull up to perch at the edge
  3002. >And you toss yourself up to the ledge of the roof
  3003. >Once on top of the roof, you wander on over toward a nearby steel boxes and drop your duffle bag
  3004. >You pull out a cell phone and dial away
  3005. "Cranky."
  3006. >"Hey kiddo. How's tonight treating ya?"
  3007. >You sit down on the box, "Alright. Tossed out six kids so far..."
  3008. >"Atta girl."
  3009. >Sounds like Cranky's eating
  3010. >No punks to steal and cash his food stamps, he can eat something
  3011. >[spoiler]Keep this quick so grampa can have dinner[/spoiler]
  3012. "I want to bring Iron Will down."
  3013. >"You gotta find him, first."
  3014. "Where is he?"
  3015. >"Dunno kiddo. Ask around a bit. Make some friends in low places. But don't go yet, okay? Grampa wants to come with, make sure you don't get hurt...!"
  3016. >Despite him being unable to see you, you nod
  3017. "I understand. Thank you, grampa."
  3018. >"Yup. Seeya Thursday."
  3019. >The line clicks
  3020. >You lower Ma's phone and stare out at the city
  3021. >Central Canterlot
  3022. >Iron Will controls this part, apparently
  3023. >You grab your bag and sling it on as you move across the gravel
  3024. >Your city
  3025. >You love her like you love your Ma
  3026. >Four scumbags are filling your Ma full of cancer and filth
  3027. >You grab a fire escape ladder and slide down
  3028. >Your sneakers tap against the concrete below without a sound as you walk
  3029. >Iron Will is first
  3030. >Then you can move on to the others
  3031. >Maybe clean up before the end of summer
  3032. >No one out tonight
  3033. >Good
  3034. >...What is that?
  3035. >You look up and down the building
  3036. >Central Canterlot Historical Antiquities Museum
  3037. >This is where a thrift shop and a gym was, just yesterday
  3038. >Right?
  3039. >And...
  3040. >'OPEN 24/7, SECURITY ON WATCH'
  3041. >That's... Weird
  3042. >You tighten up the straps on your bag and hustle in
  3043. >The museum is poorly lit, but you're positive it's on purpose
  3044. >So you don't notice the security guard at the entrance waves a scanner over you
  3045. >He nods and lets you go
  3046. >It's just a small museum
  3047. >All the pieces are from Old Canterlot era
  3048. >Paintings and statues fill the halls, all leading to the main display room
  3049. >Holy shit
  3050. >They got an entire catapault in here
  3051. >And
  3052. >You get closer to this one display
  3053. >Its not in a display case or anything, it's on a manequin
  3054. >A suit of armor and a big, big sword
  3055. >All gold
  3056. >And its the only thing with a bright light over it, so its like it glows in the dark room
  3057. >[spoiler]Touch it[/spoiler]
  3058. >You can't, it's against the rules
  3059. >[spoiler]I didn't see any signs saying not to[/spoiler]
  3060. >It's a museum, it's assum-
  3061. >[spoiler]ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL[/spoiler]
  3062. >INDY NO
  3063. >INDY YES
  3064. >You grab your wrist in one hand before you can touch the armor
  3065. >Damn it
  3066. >You're a tough girl, but Indy's had this body longer than you
  3067. >Actual sweat starts beading on your forehead from the strain of keeping her at bay
  3068. >But
  3069. >You can't-!
  3070. >A finger touches it
  3071. "Fuck!"
  3072. >Is this fucking thing live wired?
  3073. >That's what you get for not listening to yourself, you guess...
  3074. >Er
  3075. >You stare at your finger
  3076. >It's unharmed
  3077. >That's pretty weird, it hurt like hell
  3078. >...
  3079. >Uh
  3080. "What...?"
  3081. >...
  3082. >[spoiler]Amber?[/spoiler]
  3083. >A-are you there?
  3084. >Footsteps
  3085. >Behind you
  3086. >You look, and there's an annoyed looking man in a thick sweater standing at the entrance to the room
  3087. >He adjusts his glasses and sneers
  3088. >"Please don't touch the displays."
  3089. "Sorry dude."
  3090. >He grunts and walks past you
  3091. >Before you- Well, nah
  3092. >He whips out a tissue and rubs at the spot you poked
  3093. >Not before you can react, but you guess since he works here, he won't get hurt, so you don't do anything
  3094. >It only hurt you
  3095. "Uh, can you tell me something about this?"
  3096. >He sighs. "Sure."
  3097. >"This would be King Arthour's regalia and sword, Sunriser."
  3098. "Uh."
  3099. >He stutters to a stop and snorts. "What?"
  3100. >You look at the sword
  3101. >It's a huge tower of steel with golden words all across it. "I thought..."
  3102. >You look back at him
  3103. "I thought it was called Dawnbringer?"
  3104. >He scoffs
  3105. >"I guess, if you use the old Gaellop translations. But real historians agree that the Old Equestrian manuscripts can be trusted, thus, King Arthour's sword is named Sunriser."
  3106. >He smirks from under his thick rimmed glasses
  3107. "...You're pretty cute dude. Are you single?"
  3108. >He grunts and glares at you
  3109. >"I-I am 37 years old with a wife and daughter, you little punk!"
  3110. >While waving your hand a bit, you giggle at him
  3111. "Just a prank, bro, just a prank!" You smile. "You just remind me of this one girl I know. She's got big glasses too."
  3112. "You look like you're twenty though, good job."
  3113. >He grits his teeth... Then sighs. "Do you want to hear about Arthour or not?"
  3114. "Yeah yeah, go ahead dude. Can you do it with a stutter though?"
  3115. >He furrows his brow and stares at you, mouth agape
  3116. >He gulps and looks around
  3117. >"U-uh. Th-the anc-cient texts s, no, sorry. I don't like my stutter. You weird, weird little girl."
  3118. "That's fine, go ahead, dude."
  3119. >He glares at you again, but it's softer
  3120. >Shier?
  3121. >You smirk
  3122. >He raises a hand and points at the breast plate, where a sun is stamped into it
  3123. >That's where you poked it
  3124. >"Historians all agree that he wore this armor in every battle he took part in. When he was crowned king, he had the crown combined with the armor..."
  3125. >"It was said the forging gave the armor divine power, as back then, the crown of king was symbol of divine right."
  3126. >He gives you a smirk
  3127. >"They thought his god given right to rule was permanently affixed to the armor. Hence his inability to be defeated in combat or via magic."
  3128. "Magic?"
  3129. >He shrugs
  3130. >"It was believed that the armor dispels mind controlling spells and counters insanity."
  3131. >Oh
  3132. >...A-amber?
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