Almost Got 'Em

Feb 23rd, 2013
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  1. Almost Got ‘Em
  2. By IceMan
  4. >The Pickled Gryphon is the seediest bar in all of Manehattan, located south of the industrial district and west of the freight train station along West 38th Street.
  5. >In this bar sit four of the most powerful figures in Equestria, the Queen of the Changelings, the Princess of the Night, the Crystal Despot, and you, a human, and a former mafia boss, playing poker.
  6. >You were sent to the chair more than year ago and awakened in what you first assumed was Candyland.
  7. >Fortunately, even Candyland has a place for crime.
  8. >“Two pair,” the Princess announces, laying her 3 of diamonds and 6 of clubs to lay with the 3 and 6 of hearts on the table.
  9. “Straight,” you respond, placing a 4 of hearts and a 5 of spades on the table.
  10. >You pull the pot of gold coins towards the mountain on your side of the table.
  11. >Nightmare Moon glares at you angrily.
  12. “Now, now, mademoiselle, don’t be a sore loser!” you retort as you shuffle the deck “You might kill a man with that look!”
  13. >“Maybe I just will.”
  14. >You finger the trigger on your pistol.
  15. >You could shoot her, but you only have five bullets left.
  16. >You don’t know what tricks this little pony has up her sleeve.
  17. >Your pistol is the only reason you could possibly hang around this crowd.
  18. >Without magic, your popgun is the only power you have.
  19. >It’s more accurate than any Equestrian-made rifle and can fire more than one round repeatedly.
  20. >Unfortunately, you can’t fashion any more ammunition for it.
  21. >A fifth figure saunters over to the table, a serpent-like chimera.
  22. >“Mind if I join you?” Discord asks, leaning an elbow on the table.
  23. >Nightmare gives him a similar glare as she just gave you.
  24. “Well, isn’t someone just the object of friendliness tonight?” you remark to her. “Take a seat and I’ll deal you in.”
  25. >“Don’t mind if I do,” Discord responds, snapping his figures.
  26. >An enormous red plush chair pops into place out of nowhere and knocks Nightmare down.
  27. >She looks up at Discord, her aggressive glare now replaced with pure malice.
  28. >“Ooh, I’m sorry, didn’t see you there,” Discord apologizes. “Still smarting over our battle over one thousand years ago, Luna?”
  29. >“Don’t call me that,” Nightmare Moon orders.
  30. >“Guess so.”
  31. “Does she hate losing in battle as much as she hates losing in cards?” you ask as you deal.
  32. >“Oh, she didn’t lose. She just wanted to be the one to defeat me. Which she did, technically, though no one gives her credit for it. Her sister gets all the doting over defeating me, what is it now? 1103 years ago,” Discord answers.
  33. “Hm,” you grunt.
  34. >“Speaking of which, how goes the old conquering Equestria business for you four?” Discord inquires as he looks over the two cards now in his lion paw.
  35. >You place three cards on the table.
  36. >“Not well,” Queen Chrysalis answers, levitating a few coins into the center.
  37. >Nightmare Moon barely looks up from her cards, then throws her ante in.
  38. >King Sombra growls at the two cards in his hand (the king and jack of diamonds), not noticing you taking a peek.
  39. “Conquer this place? Nah. I’m just here to make money,” you answer as you push your coins into the pot.
  40. >“Then how does that go?”
  41. “Poorly.”
  42. >“As I expected,” Discord gloats.
  43. >“Why are you here if you just want to brag?” Chrysalis questions.
  44. >“I’m on the lamb,” Discord states, pulling a sheep from his pocket and grinning.
  45. “That’s terrible.”
  46. >“Glad someone cares.”
  47. “Not you, your jokes,” you interject.
  48. >“The Elements of Harmony are after me. Probably going to guillotine me for what I did this time,” Discord elucidates.
  49. “Join the club,” you sympathize. “I thought by this time, with all of us going after them, they’d finally be dead.”
  50. >“I’ve probably come the closest,” Nightmare Moon mentions.
  51. “Now, there’s a joke. No one’s come closer to snuffing the Elements than me.”
  52. >“Liar! You’re just a stringy little monkey? How could you possibly –” Chrysalis argues.
  53. >Discord interrupts her with a coach’s whistle summoned from the void.
  54. >“The fact of the matter is we all have an ‘almost got ‘em’ story,” he explains. “I know mine is the best, but let’s hear you four for a change. Since you were so eager, Nightmare, you might as well start.”
  55. >“Fine. It was Nightmare Night, when my power is strongest. I was building an army of stone golems to attack Canterlot with...”
  57. >You are Nightmare Moon, Princess of the Night.
  58. >You stand in front of a large circular carving in one of the many ancient ruins dotting the Everfree Forest, marked with runes and symbols, which you are presently enchanting with a complex spell, causing the letters to shimmer with a dark indigo aura.
  59. >As you reach the end of the spell, a blast of energy shoots into the sky and ignites an aurora of magic in the stars.
  60. >The circular carving begins to turn, and several other cogs, highlighted in violet flames, begin to rotate.
  61. >The crumbling of stone fills the air as a dozen stone, bipedal warriors, bodies held together by tendrils of purple magic, rise from the ground, followed by more as the carvings continue to spin.
  62. >“Stop right there, Nightmare Moon,” a shrill voice cries from the tunnel leading into the ruin.
  63. >You whirl around to greet your guest.
  64. “Twilight Sparkle and the Elements of Harmony. I should have expected that you would detect so much black magic in the air.”
  65. >“Whatever you’re doin’ here, stop!” Applejack orders.
  66. “As if I would really respond to the likes of you,” you sneer.
  67. “Attack!” you command to your army.
  68. >Swiftly, six of the golems charge their magical energies into their right hand, and let loose a burst of black magic.
  69. >The spell levitates your six foes into the air and surrounds them in a cage of black sparks, causing the Elements to writhe in pain.
  70. “That will do, for now,” you tell the six golems. “Come, there is more work to be done.”
  71. >You amble back to the podium and observe the runes, adding magic occasionally as the wheels slow down.
  72. >Then, you hear a bang, followed by the thud of bodies falling to the floor.
  73. >You rapidly turn your head, expecting to see the demise of your enemies.
  74. >What you see is less encouraging.
  75. >Twilight Sparkle has somehow freed herself from the prison of the black sparks.
  76. >Her glowing red eyes and horn clue you in.
  77. “That’s not possible! How could you possibly learn black magic?” you exclaim.
  78. >Your question goes unanswered as a blast of lavender energy whizzes by, smashing into the runes with a cloud of dust.
  79. “Get them!”
  80. >Your army of golems lumbers forward, charging spells in their hands.
  81. >Your foes know their power, and deftly dodge out of the way of the bolts of magic.
  82. >Applejack bucks one of the golems in the head.
  83. >The warrior briefly collapses into pebbles, but reforms through the magic of the whirling runes.
  84. >The two unicorns of the Elements suddenly turn their spells on the cogs behind you.
  85. >You summon an indigo energy barrier to block the bolts of energy.
  86. >Twilight charges a beam of magic and slices through, burning you and knocking you aside.
  87. >The beam slams into the runes, cutting the stone.
  88. >Grunting, you pick yourself up.
  89. >Your army of golems has stopped attacking, and, almost comically, they disintegrate one by one.
  90. >You grimace angrily and charge a hex, but are hit in the side first by an energy blast, then by a blue hoof turned into a near-lethal projectile.
  91. >You hear a pop as someone teleports in.
  92. >“I can take her from here, girls,” your sisters voice echoes across the room.
  93. >After a few clops up the stone steps to where you lay, you hear, “Hello, sister.”
  95. >You are Anonymous.
  96. >After Nightmare wraps up her tale, you simply state:
  97. “What a pathetic attempt,” you berate “You should’ve killed them when you had the chance. Also, two pair.”
  98. >You lay down your nine of clubs and eight of hearts to match the eight of diamonds and nine of spades on the table.
  99. >“I did not want them dead. Once I ruled Equestria, I would have made them swear fealty to me. Then I would have been in total control of the Elements of Harmony.”
  100. “Promises are made to be broken, sister,” you state coolly.
  101. >“Not when they are made in blood and bound to your very soul.”
  102. >You grimace.
  103. “Well, I guess it’s my turn now. Let’s see... I was robbing the Equestrian Mint. Someone must have tipped the Elements off....”
  105. >The acrid metal stench of molten copper and gold fills the air as you march into the Equestrian Mint.
  106. >With you are your three goons, fellow ne’er-do-wells of the Equestrian underworld:
  107. >Bunker Buster the unicorn is an explosives expert, carrying a wide knowledge of explosive spells and a modified firework mortar made to launch explosive shells.
  108. >Cobweb the pegasus is a master lock picker.
  109. >Ripper the Diamond Dog provides the muscle.
  110. >You have a magic little stick that goes bang and makes people fall down.
  111. >Lines of conveyor belts stamp out dozens of gold-plated coins at a time.
  112. >Several walkways line the factory ceiling, allowing managers to observe the workers.
  113. >A small office is attached to one of the walls, high above the factory floor.
  114. >Nearby, piles of slag are dissolved in an acid bath.
  115. “Everybody listen up!” you shout to the frightened workers. “Do as you’re told, and you might live. I want everybody out of here and into...”
  116. >You scan around, looking for a place to lock the ponies into.
  117. >You spot an opened vault, recently emptied.
  118. “Everyone into that vault. Anyone who disagrees, dies!”
  119. >You give each of your men a sack.
  120. “Grab as many bits as you can and take any other valuables you can find: gold and copper ingots, jewels, whatever,” you order. “Then smash everything.”
  121. >Your men quickly get to work loading piles of coins into the bags, until you hear the trotting of 24 hooves entering the building.
  122. >“We have company, boss,” Bunker Buster informs you.
  123. >You pull out your pistol.
  124. >You had one last full magazine of bullets at that point.
  125. >Spotting the silhouette of six ponies at the main entrance, you yell, “Get them!”
  126. >Ripper charges forward, two sacks of coins in hand, but is thrown back by a kick to the stomach.
  127. >Bunker Buster fires off several explosive spells, sending a walkway crashing to the floor in front of your adversaries.
  128. >He loads an explosive shell into his mortar, and you set the safety on your pistol off.
  129. >Cobweb retreats, carrying his sack of loot.
  130. >Managing to stand, Ripper storms the Elements again, swinging his two sacks of coins like clubs and sending shimmering bits flying.
  131. >He knocks Rarity aside like a pile of feathers, and Fluttershy follows suit.
  132. >Bunker Buster launches a shell from his mortar, but it is deflected by an energy barrier.
  133. >You stumble back, climbing up a set of metal stairs to the foreman’s office.
  134. >Ripper slams into Pinkie Pie, sending her flying onto one of the conveyor belts.
  135. >Three down, three to go.
  136. >Rainbow Dash dodges a few mortar shots before kicking Bunker Buster in the face.
  137. >You raise your pistol, lining up the sights on the blue pegasus and preparing to take the shot.
  138. >You squeeze the trigger.
  139. >The bullet bounces off a purple spherical energy barrier that surrounds your target.
  140. >You aim towards Twilight and fire.
  141. >Again, the bullet ricochets off a protective magical sphere, but the distraction allows Bunker Buster to land a mortar shell right next to the violet unicorn.
  142. >Cobweb comes out of nowhere and knocks Rainbow Dash out of the sky, and a second mortar shell incapacitates Applejack.
  143. >Groans of pain fill the factory, and you walk down the stairs, clapping slowly.
  144. “Bravo, gentlemen. Get the money out of here; I will deal with these whelps.”
  145. >You saunter over to Twilight and lift her head up from the floor.
  146. >She glares at you, but is in too much pain to charge a spell.
  147. “Hello, mademoiselle,” you smirk. “Let’s have a little fun.”
  148. >You grab a bundle of chains and chain each of the unconscious or injured ponies onto the stopped conveyor belt lowering into the acid bath.
  149. “Now, I could just leave you ladies here, but I feel like offing you will be best for both of us. You seem to be in quite a bit of pain, and I’d prefer to never have to use any more of my bullets on you girls again. Of course, I could just shoot you now, but you’d probably use whatever spell you’ve put on yourself to deflect bullets to protect you.”
  150. >You pull the lever on the conveyor belt, which rumbles and begins to move.
  151. >You laugh maniacally and remain watching the demise of your greatest foes to make sure the acid does its job.
  152. >Twilight’ horn begins to ripple with a magic aura.
  153. “Now, we can’t have that. I was going to give you time to make some last requests, but I guess that isn’t happening now.”
  154. >You fire a round at the chain, breaking it.
  155. >The six horses slide down the slick rubber belt towards the steaming cauldron of clear fluid.
  156. >Twilight’s horn begins to glow again.
  157. “What did I tell you about using magic?”
  158. >You fire another round.
  159. >It is deflected, and Twilight teleports herself and her five friends up to you.
  160. >They stand in front of you, panting heavily.
  161. “Well, this works out perfectly anyways. Six bullets left. Six of you. And my guess is you’re too tired to maintain that shielding spell anymore. Say goodbye.”
  162. >You aim at Twilight first.
  163. >She charges a spell futilely.
  164. >You fire once more.
  165. >She launches a blast of violet energy, which consumes your bullet.
  166. >You grimace in fury, and then are hit in the chest and thrown back ten feet and onto the floor.
  167. >Chains of magical energy surround you, tightening slightly as you struggle to free yourself.
  168. >“Take him away, girls,” Twilight tells her friends.
  170. “And that’s how I almost got ‘em,” you finish, dealing the next hand.
  171. >“A pool of acid, Anonymous? You really couldn’t think of something better? Why not burn them with the molten gold or smash them with the stamping machine?” Discord scolds.
  172. >You make no comment.
  173. >“What happened to the money?” Chrysalis asks over her cards.
  174. “Cobweb turned out to be a police informant. He turned the money over to the polizei as soon as he left the building. He also called the Elements in.”
  175. >“Ugh,” Discord sighs. “Well, who’s next?”
  176. >“Me!” King Sombra barks banging his hoof on the table and rattling the coins. “So there I was in the Crystal Caverns when the Elements came snooping around!”
  177. >“And what did you do?” Chrysalis asks.
  178. >“I threw a crystal at them!” Sombra shouts in response.
  179. >Everyone at the table stares at him in disbelief with a deadpan glare.
  180. >“Anyway, Chrysalis, I guess it’s your turn,” Discord suggests.
  181. >“It was a big crystal...” Sombra debates.
  182. >“Why not you, Discord? You’re the one who even suggested this little game,” Chrysalis argues.
  183. >“I’m saving the best for last.”
  184. >“Fine, then,” Chrysalis huffs. “I caught the Elements passing through the Everfree Forest by one of my hives. I realized I had the perfect opportunity to be rid of them....”
  186. >You are Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings.
  187. >You are hovering in the air behind some trees along a forest path.
  188. >The jabbering of your six enemies floats through the air, and you signal to your soldiers to prepare to spring the trap.
  189. >As soon as the six multicolor equines amble into view, your Changelings strike swiftly and brutally.
  190. >Caught by surprise, the Elements are quickly tied in green goo and dragged inside the Changeling hive.
  191. >Your workers hang them from the ceiling for feeding time.
  192. >You know it’s wrong to play with your food, but you can’t help but gloat a little bit.
  193. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” you brag to your encapsulated prizes. “The Elements of Harmony, trapped in my hive and about to be drained of every emotion they have.”
  194. >You turn to the pink one, wriggling in her cocoon in a fruitless effort to escape.
  195. “I will enjoy you most of all, Miss Pinkie Pie. Your happiness has been like sweet nectar to my Changelings since we first faced you.”
  196. >Your Changelings are visibly shaking with anticipation of a meal.
  197. “Well, now it’s dinner time,” you announce, bearing your teeth and preparing your absorption spell.
  198. >You tear open a small slit in the cocoon with your magic and begin to devour Pinkie Pie’s happiness.
  199. >The other Changelings follow with their spells.
  200. >The shell begins to melt from the heat of so much emotion being converted into usable energy.
  201. >Unfortunately, you are blinded by the sheer amount of delicious sympathy and excitement that you are now absorbing.
  202. >The cocoon begins to warp, and the attachment to the ceiling finally breaks from the heat.
  203. >The green shell crashes to the floor and breaks.
  204. >You are immobilized by the quantity of positive feelings that you are eating.
  205. >However, your prey is not.
  206. >As the cave heats from excess energy, the other cocoons begin to fall as well.
  207. >Your feeding spell is abruptly ended by a swift kick to the jaw, snapping you out of the consumption trance as well.
  208. >Regaining your senses, you spot that the Elements are freed.
  209. “Attack! If we can’t consume their happiness then kill them!”
  210. >Emerald, indigo, and violet spells zip through the air.
  211. >Changelings are flung about by punches and energy blasts.
  212. >A few attempt to transform into their enemies, but the Elements see through their illusion.
  213. “Fight to the last man!” you order. “Do not stop until the Elements are dead.”
  214. >You lob a powerful orb of green energy towards Twilight Sparkle, who manages to teleport out of the way and launch a beam of energy at you that sends you crashing down in pain.
  215. >Wheezing, you rise up and fire your own magical beam at the purple unicorn, only to find her standing in front of you.
  216. >A buck to the chest soon follows.
  217. >“It’s over, Chrysalis,” she utters, binding your hooves to the ground with rings of magic.
  218. >She then fires a signal high into the sky, burning through the ceiling of the hive and alerting the Royal Guard to your location.
  220. >You are Anonymous.
  221. >“And that is how I almost killed the Elements of Harmony,” Chrysalis ends.
  222. >“I always knew you were always thinking with your stomach rather than your head,” Discord rebukes.
  223. >“Pah!” Chrysalis cries.
  224. “Well, now it’s my turn. What you people forget is there are multiple ways to get someone other than killing them,” Discord states. “And, fortunately, I have my story all on tape!”
  225. >He pulls out a movie screen, a projector, and a roll of film.
  226. >“I had previously caught the Element of Kindness, Miss Fluttershy, wandering about the Everfree Forest doing who knows what, and I’d decided to have a little fun with her friends back in Canterlot....”
  227. >Discord flicks the switch on the projector, which clicks into life.
  229. >You are Discord, Lord of Chaos, and you are inside the Canterlot Toy Company.
  230. >Right on cue, the Elements of Harmony burst through the doors.
  231. >Twilight carries a small fancy chest.
  232. >“Discord! Give us back Fluttershy!” Twilight demands.
  233. >You reveal yourself with a red spotlight on top of a large cylindrical display for stuffed animals in the center of the store.
  234. “Oh, Twilight Sparkle, how I love your naïveté. Though I don’t think you’ll want Fluttershy back in her current . . . state of affairs.”
  235. >A second red spotlight illuminates Fluttershy, tied to a chair.
  236. >A malevolent glower glows in her eyes, and her coat is dull grey.
  237. >“You’ll pay for what you did to her!” Rainbow Dash shouts.
  238. “Oh, of course I will, all in good time. Everyone knows crime doesn’t pay. But, if you want dear Fluttershy back, I’ll need the Elements of Harmony.”
  239. >You glance at the purple chest Twilight is levitating by her side.
  240. >“Then we’ll just free Fluttershy ourselves!” Applejack yells.
  241. “I knew it would come to this,” you lament “You never choose the easy route. Very well.”
  242. >You snap your fingers.
  243. >Fifteen equine nutcracker soldiers glow scarlet, then, with a crunching of wood, come to life.
  244. >They carry flintlock rifles over their shoulders, fired by pulling a large trigger with their hoof.
  245. >You laugh maniacally and teleport yourself to a safe distance.
  246. >Twilight teleports the Element chest out of the battlefield.
  247. >You know it’s enchanted so that you can’t find it, so don’t bother trying.
  248. >The nutcracker commander raises his sabre, and his fourteen soldiers form into a double line firing position.
  249. >“Take cover!” Applejack instructs as the commander lowers his sabre and a flurry of bullets ricochet through the store.
  250. >While you hum the Nutcracker March, Twilight charges a spell, which hits one of the nutcrackers in the chest, sending him staggering back.
  251. >The soldiers reload and fire again.
  252. >Applejack charges forward in the calm and bucks one of the soldiers in the face.
  253. >Rainbow Dash follows suit, tackling one of the soldiers and breaking his wooden arms.
  254. >A second soldier hits her aside with the butt of his rifle.
  255. >Pinkie Pie whips out her party cannon from Hammerspace and fires into the crowd of soldiers.
  256. “Ugh, this won’t do,” you spit.
  257. >You snap your fingers again.
  258. >The ropes around a pile of basketballs rip, spilling the bouncing spheres down the corridor of shelves to where the Elements are dodging hot lead.
  259. >The balls bowl Rarity and Pinkie Pie over like pins, while Twilight teleports on top of the shelves of toys.
  260. >She fires a machine gun burst of spells into the line of soldiers, toppling two more of them, then leaps in the direction of Fluttershy’s display, Rainbow Dash in pursuit as well.
  261. >Under your influence, the soldiers adjust their aim towards the Element of Loyalty and Magic.
  262. >You also turn on a group of toy planes, which spray hundreds of tiny projectiles onto the pair of running mares.
  263. >A miniature bomb detonates on Rainbow Dash, sending her crashing to the floor.
  264. >Back at the line of nutcracker men, a swift rifle smash sends Applejack into unconsciousness.
  265. >You teleport yourself in front of Twilight, clapping ironically and grinning like a crocodile.
  266. “Surrender, Twilight Sparkle. One flick and I could turn you to a pile of purple confetti. Give up the Elements.”
  267. >“Then why do you even bother hurting us?” Twilight asks angrily, panting.
  268. “Where’s the fun in choosing the easy route?”
  269. >She reluctantly summons the chest containing the Elements and levitates it into your paw.
  270. “There, was that so bad?”
  271. >Twilight simply scowls at you.
  272. “Well, it’s been a blast, but I’m afraid Fluttershy and I will be leaving now. Toodles!”
  273. >“What?! But you said –”
  274. “Do you really expect the Lord of Chaos to keep his promises?”
  276. >You are Anonymous.
  277. “And that’s how I got the Elements of Harmony!” Discord concludes.
  278. >He then laughs.
  279. >“But what happened to Fluttershy?” Sombra asks, rather astutely.
  280. >“Oh, her? She’s my little sidekick now. Here, meet the Element of Cruelty!”
  281. >Discord snaps his fingers, and Fluttershy, still grey from mane to tail, pops up beside him.
  282. >“She’s my ace in the hole now. Without her, the Elements of Harmony (the items, that is) are completely powerless! And speaking of aces...”
  283. >Discord reveals his hand, the ace and king of spades to go with the jack, queen, and ten on the board.
  284. >“Royal flush!”
  285. >Discord begins loading the pile of coins into a sack.
  286. >“So what happened to the Elemental Artifacts?” Sombra inquires.
  287. >“Oh, I’ll probably drop them into the fires of the Dragon Volcano or smash them with a hammer or something,” Discord explains, pulling the chest out from a black hole in the air. “If I can recover the pieces, then I’ll send them as a gift to Miss Twilight Sparkle!”
  288. >Discord guffaws maniacally again.
  289. >“I don’t think so,” Sombra responds.
  290. >“Huh?” Discord questions, wiping a tear from his eye. “Oof!”
  291. >Sombra blasts Discord with a violet energy spell, throwing him back onto another table and sending cards and beer steins flying.
  292. >The light fixture above the other table swings back and forth like a pendulum.
  293. >“What, want the Elements for yourself, Sombrero?” Discord asks.
  294. >“I want them back, Discord. And Fluttershy too.”
  295. >The light suddenly swings over Sombra, revealing him to actually be Twilight Sparkle.
  296. >You raise your gun.
  297. >“Well, well... never thought that you’d go as low as Chrysalis, Miss Sparkle,” Discord admonishes.
  298. >“You were stupid enough to think that you could take all four of us on at once for your trinkets and your friend? My sister was a fool to take you as her student,” Nightmare declares.
  299. “You can’t dodge five bullets, mademoiselle,” you snarl. “You won’t make it out of here alive.”
  300. >All Twilight says is, “Maybe.”
  301. >The other bar patrons all rise, unsheathe swords, raise flintlock rifles, and charge spells.
  302. >“But I’m not bad with traps myself,” she states.
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