Alycorn

Hero Made: Running Away

Apr 16th, 2018
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  1. 'Running Away'
  2. By: AlycornAnon
  3.  
  4. >Moving isn't fun.
  5. >Never has been and you know that quite well.
  6. >After all, who actually wants to go somewhere new?
  7. >You lose your friends.
  8. >Your favorite places to go to.
  9. >Gotta learn how to navigate wherever this new place is.
  10. >It's, to be blunt, a fucking mess and an annoyance.
  11. >Of course, when your job is literally to go wherever they tell you to go, you go there.
  12. >Because moving all the time is still better than not having a home.
  13. >Or Money.
  14. >Money is a pretty big deal.
  15. >You huff in annoyance none the less as you idly tap the steering wheel of the U-HAUL truck.
  16. >Moving by yourself is even more of a drag than just moving in the first place.
  17. >You contemplate your last few years in the military and the new base you're moving to.
  18. >So far everything seems pretty standard and even if you're not excited about it, at least you're still getting paid.
  19. >The headlights of the U-Haul are the only lights around the deserted highway in the mountains, your only light minus the sparkle of the stars in the sky.
  20. >The 'sparkle' puts a happy little smile on your face as you turn your musings to them instead.
  21. >Forget driving, forget moving, and forget basically everything else.
  22. >You'd rather be watching pony right now.
  23. >Well, even if you can't watch, at least you can listen!
  24. >Your smile molds into a little smirk as you take your phone and switch to the MLP Movie soundtrack.
  25. >Emily Blunt is a gift, truly.
  26. "Open up your Eyes~!"
  27. >You sing along, your attention split.
  28. >"That's going to cost you..."
  29. >Your singing and attention is suddenly caught by the steering wheel jerking in your hands.
  30. >You wrestle with the steering wheel as the headlights go out and the U-HAUL swerves wildly.
  31. >Wait, when did you get to a dangerous section of the road?
  32. >WHY IS THERE A CAR PUSHING YOU?
  33. >You can only look at the mirror in horror as all control of the situation slips your grasp.
  34. >The car in the mirror is blinding you with it's headlights as the truck spins, the music reaching it's highpoint...
  35. >And you feel weightless as you, truck and all, slip the edge of the road and off into the sky.
  36. >"It's time to grow up... and get wise..."
  37. >Any thought of action or even voicing your rage as you feel gravity takes hold is completely lost as you close your eyes and grip the wheel.
  38. >"Open up your eyes."
  39. >*CRU-WHUMP*
  40.  
  41. --------
  42.  
  43. >*Tweet*
  44. >*Tweeet-cheep-cheep-cheep*
  45. >Uuuuuhnn... someone turn off the birds please.
  46. >They're making the world spin more and I'd like to get off.
  47. >Your thoughts are disjointed as consciousness starts to take hold again.
  48. >Struggling to regain your senses isn't always a simple task for you.
  49. >Something that normal requires some coffee, or getting shot at.
  50. >The sudden realization that you're waking up and not dead takes a pretty close second to coffee though.
  51. "Shit!"
  52. >You jerk into full consciousness, only to smack your head against the steering wheel of the U-HAUL truck, making a loud honk and causing your head to recoil against the backwall of the cab of the truck.
  53. "FUCK! Shit fuck balls OW and the FUCK?!"
  54. >Well, that feels better at the very least.
  55. >Let the language sort it out.
  56. >You start to get your baring back and mutter a dark oath when you notice that you're sitting on the roof of the cab, hence why your attempt to get up and out made your head connect with steering wheel.
  57. >You note your phone next to you, not that it'll do you much good considering that it's next to you in two pieces.
  58. >Apple really needs to make a sturdier phone.
  59. >You sigh in frustration even while mentally you're thanking whatever higher power out there that you're alive.
  60. >It wasn't that time a mortar round actually made it next to your tent behind the wire and didn't go off, but hell if it wasn't contending for the throne of 'closest brush with death yet'.
  61. "Fuckers need to learn how to drive. Fucking civvies can't even stay in their damn lanes."
  62. >Cursing is a pretty... interesting defense mechanism but it makes you feel better and is helping you wake up and focus so you let your mouth run as you start making your way out of the U-Haul truck.
  63. >Taking a last glance around to see if anything useful was inside, which unfortunately there wasn't, you crawl out of the cab via broken window, and turn around to face the truck.
  64. >It's not a pretty sight and you can only wonder how the fuck you survived without so much as a bruise from this.
  65. >The U-Haul landed full on it's back, and the door to the storage bay was ripped open by the impact.
  66. >Your household goods and shit is just scattered -everywhere- in this clearing.
  67. >A tree that ended up spearing the storage bay right through the center took quite a bit of your clothing with it, judging by the box speared on the end of it.
  68. >Gonnahavetoroughit.jpg
  69. >You sigh and shake your head in annoyance.
  70. "Well Anon, you really stepped in it this time."
  71. >Scanning the clearing, you notice a big black backpack and swiftly make your way over to it.
  72. >It's your night bag/travel bag. Normally it would sit in the cab with you but it must have gotten thrown free when the truck impacted the ground.
  73. >You quickly open it up and sigh in relief.
  74. >While the contents got a bit scattered in flight, all of your quick-access gear is still there.
  75. >Bowie Knife, a Flashlight and some extra D-Cells for the flashlight, a medical kit, three pairs of socks, two pairs of underwear, another pair of jeans, a pony teeshirt and a sweater.
  76. >Your survival status just went from 'pretty fucked' to 'moderately fucked'.
  77. >Because you doubt the asshole who ran you off the road though to call the cops.
  78. >You turn around, scanning for the highway but you can't really see it through the trees, just some sheer rock walls and, surprise surprise, more trees.
  79. >So much for following the road.
  80. >Being physically fit doesn't mean you want to free-climb, especially when that wasn't a activity you've trained for.
  81. >As you shoulder your backpack, you check your watch.
  82. >0836
  83. >Not quite early or late morning anymore, but that means that you should be able to get directions via the sun.
  84. >You seek out the sun, shading your eyes with a flat hand and smile when you spot it, still dipped in the sky.
  85. >There it is, and the sun raises in the east, so west would be...
  86. >You glance to the other side of the clearing, taking note of the small path that seems to be in the trees.
  87. >Guess that's where you're going next.
  88. >Shouldering your bag so you can collect your Bowie knife and sheath, you start heading towards the small path.
  89. >You were heading west anyway, and if you remembered correctly that was where the nearest town was.
  90. >Too bad your phone got destroyed, thanks again Apple.
  91. >You hook the sheath to your belt and put the backpack on, tugging the straps to make sure it's tight to your body.
  92. >Don't want to have it getting caught on bushes or branches while you're making your way through the underbrush.
  93. >Your trek begins.
  94. >Your stomach growls loudly enough to startle one of the songbirds that woke you up and makes you blush a bit.
  95. >OK, maybe after foraging for some food.
  96.  
  97. -----
  98.  
  99. >Damn, this forest just seems to go on forever.
  100. >The forest is a lot thicker than you originally thought it would be, and the light mist or fog that should have been burnt away by the sun only seems to have gotten thicker as you've moved deeper into the foliage.
  101. >The canopy does an almost too good job of filtering out the sunlight, making the forest feel foreboding, and puts you a little on edge, one hand gripping the handle of your knife.
  102. >Paranoia is only stupid if they aren't out to get you.
  103. >Experience has taught you that they are always out to get you.
  104. >Or at the very least, better safe than sorry.
  105. >Deeper into the forest you trek, the sounds of the living forest a soothing balm to your nerves.
  106. >Sounds like birds chirping and the occasional frog or toad croak mean there isn't a predator close by.
  107. >You take a deep breath and ignore a light grumble from your stomach.
  108. >Your foraging efforts weren't in vain earlier, but you didn't exactly get a full sized meal from the chow hall either.
  109. >Tasted better though.
  110. >But, the path has widened out and it feels like you're on an actual road, so hey, at least you're getting somewhere!
  111. >You march on, staying alert despite your renewed sense of purpose when a flash of blue catches your eye.
  112. >Blue is a very interesting color in nature.
  113. >It's not very common and while it does occur rarely, it doesn't occur in large groups.
  114. >So a big field of blue flowers is quite the sight to see!
  115. >You stray from the path and step up to the field of flowers, not considering the fact that the field is in a clearing of it's own and the trees seem to stay back from the flowers.
  116. >You get a nice closeup look at the flowers, marveling at the little yellow pollen bundles in the bright blue flower pods before standing up and returning to the path.
  117. >A little voice in the back of your head says that you should know something about those flowers but you idly cast that thought aside.
  118. >Your march carries on, back on the road, humming Pinkie's smile song under your breath as you carry on.
  119.  
  120. --------
  121.  
  122. >Ok. What.
  123. >You've been walking for another hour or so and now you're convinced that you must have hit your head a lot harder than you thought.
  124. >You start to feel for blood or a obvious bump on your head as you gawk at the castle in front of you.
  125. >The very SPECIFIC castle in front of you.
  126. >The Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters.
  127. >Not something that should be in the forests of the Rocky Mountains.
  128. >You don't feel any bumps or bleeding, and closing your eyes, looking away, then looking back doesn't make the castle vanish.
  129. "Well shit."
  130. >You say out of shock.
  131. >Suddenly the forest around you feels a LOT more foreboding, even with the sun shining on you.
  132. >There isn't much else to do now but keep going.
  133. >Even as a shiver crawls it's way down your spine.
  134. >Unease sinking itself into your stomach and making your steps a bit shaky as you force your legs to carry you forwards.
  135. "This is not good, nope nope nope."
  136. >The unease bubbles and roils in you, shifting towards panic even as you stomp it back down.
  137. >Nope, no panicking.
  138. >Panicking is just gonna lead to someone getting hurt.
  139. >You shake your head and even out your breathing.
  140. "Get a fucking hold of yourself. You're still breathing, heart's beatin', and you haven't fallen over dead yet."
  141. >Chastising yourself and following it with a pep talk.
  142. >Hey, it worked when you were having ragheads take potshots at you in Nangarhar.
  143. >You make your way to the canyon's cliff edge, and glance to the left and right, seeking out the bridge.
  144. >You spot the bridge but to your annoyance and lack of surprise, the bridge is out.
  145. "Of course it's out, it was always going to be out."
  146. >Well, there goes that idea for shelter.
  147. >The bridge itself collapsed towards the castle's side this time.
  148. >So unless you suddenly sprout wings you're not going to make it over there.
  149. >You chuckle a bit at the idea, the humorous thought helping distract you from your unease of realizing you were marching pretty boldly through the Everfree forest.
  150. >Military training doesn't exactly teach you how to fight off living tree-wolves and Manticores, on top of whatever other nasty beasties are hiding out in mist.
  151. >You prepare to turn back when a stone step catches your eye and jogs your memory.
  152. >Isn't there a staircase that leads down into the canyon itself?
  153. >You feel a little relief as you make your way towards the steps and start making your way down into the canon.
  154. >Yes, yes there is.
  155. >Outside of sudden flooding, it's probably a bit safer down here with the big magic tree.
  156. >Hopefully you haven't forgotten anything else that could get you into trouble around here.
  157. >Your trip down into the canyon before the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters is very slowly and carefully tread.
  158. >After all, you didn't want to turn it into a slide, or worse, a fall.
  159. >There wasn't exactly a small amount of steps and while the steps had a bit of grip to them, they were eroded and smoothed out enough to be dangerous to a unwary traveler.
  160. >About half way down, you stop to glance at your watch, trying to stay cognizant of your travel time.
  161. >1400ish, the digital numbers blare at you, and you glance up at the sun with a bit of worry.
  162. >So far it seemed like you caught a lucky break and your watch was synced to the actual time, but now that you actually knew you were in...
  163. >You freeze up a bit more, your eyes going wide.
  164. >You were in Equestria.
  165. >You -are- in Equestria.
  166. "... FUCK I'm gonna be AWOL!"
  167. >Reallybrain.jpg
  168. >Barely restraining yourself from slapping yourself silly over being worried about being Absent without Leave when you've literally been kidnapped into another UNIVERSE, you force yourself to continue.
  169. >In the middle of the scary kill-woods from a child's TV show near the big tree of magic is probably not a good time to panic or flip out.
  170. >Generally, no time is a good time to panic or flip out, but this situation takes some special consideration when it's all said and done, if only so that if you survive the scenario you can brag about having the weirdest survival story.
  171. >Note to self, collect something interesting that would let you have proof that this happened when you get back.
  172. >Absolutely no one is going to believe you otherwise.
  173. >Finally you reach the bottom of the Canyon and a soft, almost comforting glow guides you onward into the Canyon and to the entrance of the cave.
  174. >Stepping up to the mouth of the cave steals your breath away as you step into the light of the tree of Harmony.
  175. "It looks exactly like it does in the show..."
  176. >As you step into the cave, the tree pulses almost, and you bask in a sudden warmth that surrounds and suffuses your very being.
  177. >Thoroughly saturated with the warmth brought on by the light, you feel yourself slip away a bit.
  178. >In a dark, quiet corner of your mind, something screams and panics, rattling a cage with a lock that is worn and well used.
  179. >Even as you step closer, your inner thoughts and 'eye' is drawn to the cage and the beast struggling within it.
  180. >A moment passes and you realize that the beast is you, as your perception of reality slows to a crawl.
  181. >It's your monster.
  182. >You know it well.
  183. >It's the beast you learned to channel in Boot.
  184. >The one that aims your rifle.
  185. >The one that grips your blade.
  186. >The one that threw grenades.
  187. >The one that killed.
  188. >The one that would survive all comers.
  189. >Yes you knew this monster well.
  190. >And it's lock wasn't so much a heavy padlock or a intricate combination thing.
  191. >No, this lock is made of a simple word command.
  192. >And the beast is trying to trigger it itself.
  193. >The world snaps back into focus as you take a last step.
  194. >You aren't standing at the mouth of the cave anymore.
  195. >You're at the base of the Tree of Harmony.
  196. >And your hand is about to touch it.
  197. >Even as the beast screams for you to recoil away your hand moves on it's own.
  198. >Reaching, yearning for the light.
  199. >The warmth.
  200. >Security.
  201. >Safety.
  202. >Hope.
  203. >Home.
  204. >You feel, for a moment, wood as smooth as glass.
  205. >And all goes dark.
  206.  
  207. -----
  208.  
  209. >"-his THING is to be our hero?"
  210. >"Come now, do not despair."
  211. >"Indeed, it's not really a hero We need, is it?"
  212. >"Bah! What else would you call them? There isn't a better word for it."
  213. >Boy you'd really like these voices to shut up, it's making the lock rattle out of your grip while you're panicking.
  214. >Wait... what?
  215. >Why are you... this is the monsters cage!
  216. >You are startled to realize that you're in the cold, blackened metal cage of your monster, groping blindly for the lock to the cage.
  217. >On the outside, in the blinding light, you hear the voices continue to argue.
  218. >"He's a monster! A daemon, ripped from another world for Our purpose!"
  219. >"So you would call him a monster when his very existence is for Us and for Our cause?"
  220. >"You would curse him for being able to complete the duty We give him?"
  221. >"I would curse the need for him in the first place!"
  222. >You frown a bit.
  223. >Oi, they better not be taking about you out there!
  224. >You start to struggle with the lock more, finally getting a hold of it.
  225. >Good, now if only you could focus a bit so you could get it undone, which is pretty difficult as the voices continue.
  226. >"But need him We do! It's not simply done."
  227. >"Foals meddling with powers beyond their comprehension doesn't need a killer to stop them."
  228. >"So you would leave Our Harmony undone? Unwound and dashed against the sands of time by Dark Magicks?"
  229. >"Of course not, do not be absurd!"
  230. >"But why -him- of all creatures?"
  231. >The voices get louder as you give a final desperate tug at the lock if only so you can get out and yell at them when a single voice overrides all.
  232. >"ENOUGH."
  233. >The other voices all fall silent and in the shadows cast by the light you see six pony-like figures kneel before a single, brightly shining silhouette.
  234. >The Voice used by the figure shatters the cage and the lock, and you find yourself kneeling, a shadow in the light.
  235. >The light, farm from the warm, comforting thing it was before, now lays you bare.
  236. >Strips you down and exposes you to all.
  237. >All of your desires.
  238. >All of your 'needs'.
  239. >Your every thought.
  240. >Your every action.
  241. >All of it laid out for the silhouette that gazes down upon you.
  242. >The light burns at your very being.
  243. >Your soul.
  244. >Your monster.
  245. >You resist the urge to cower in the light, only because you want to rage against it.
  246. >How dare they.
  247. >How DARE they judge you like you're a frog being dissected!
  248. >"Because WE are in need of one like you, and would like to know you."
  249. >You hadn't realized you spoken aloud as the Silhouettes's powerful Voice responds.
  250. >Your own howls back, and you realize that you mean every big of rage and anger that it produces.
  251. "You call me a monster, a daemon, a beast, JUDGING me without asking WHY?! Without understanding WHY?!"
  252. >You scream back, forcing yourself to your feet in the Light, even as it continues to burn away the shadows that hide the monster.
  253. >Your anger is righteous and burns brightly.
  254. >Judgement is one thing but judging without knowing the whole story, without knowing the why, is abhorrent.
  255. >The fact that these -things- are judging you and looking at you without context and without consent, basically grabbing at your soul itself, makes the rage spike harder.
  256. >Makes the hate climb higher.
  257. >Makes your focus that much clearer.
  258. >But even as the shadow darkens slightly, it too is burned away in the light.
  259. >The Silhouette... smiles.
  260. >"Perhaps you are correct, Son of Man. But you also do not know your whole story."
  261. >The light dims slightly, and the pain starts to reside as It walks closer to you, slowly taking on a more decisive shape, even as the six now quiet shapes vanish into the light.
  262. >You twitch, your mental balance completely skewed from one moment to the next as your entire being and focus shifts, and you find yourself sitting across from your Monster at a small table.
  263. >Your Monster looks just as confused, the dark-colored Anon blinking at you before turning it's head to the Pony now slowly stepping up to the table.
  264. >Your head is hammering with quite possibly the mother of all headaches, but you do your best to stomach it as you tear your gaze away from the being you were occupying moments ago to look at who is approaching the table.
  265. >You can not describe Her, though you know it is Her, and She is all.
  266. >Whatever the fuck that means.
  267. >You scowl, and feel your 'face', if it's even yours in this weird mental world your in, twist up into said scowl.
  268. >Waxing poetic is not your strong point, and frankly you're wasting time.
  269. >"Of course we're wasting our fucking time! Who the FUCK are you!"
  270. >You blink in surprise as your Monster speaks up, his voice yours if a little more growled out, like you've been yelling at your subordinates for a while.
  271. >The Silhouette has finished stepping fully from the light as She smiles serenely at you.
  272. >"Pax, warrior. Your rage will serve you well later. For now, We shall speak with you."
  273. >The monster growls again before sitting back, his end of the table shadowing over a bit more as you turn your focus to the pony.
  274. >"We are Faust. And We brought you here, Anon."
  275. >You blink a bit and mentally wonder at that little bombshell of information.
  276. >Whatddya know, fan theory can be right sometimes.
  277. "How. Why?"
  278. >You can almost feel Her smile as She rests Her gaze upon you.
  279. >"Because it was necessary, an opportunity for Us."
  280. >And now you CAN feel the headache from upper-brass doubletalk coming on.
  281. >Boy oh boy you just loooooooove the fuck-fuck games.
  282. >"Language."
  283. >You give the Goddess currently residing in your brainspace a glare and wave a hand as if to say 'this is literally what you were expecting, right?'
  284. >The mare shrugs and continues to smile, raising a single hoof.
  285. >"Enough, Pax, as We said. All will be explained in due time, Son of Man."
  286. >You cross your arms and sit back in your chair.
  287. "Fine. Explained in time, great."
  288. >"You are worried. Confused. Angered."
  289. >Wow, brilliant deduction there by the Goddess.
  290. "Of course I am! Why wouldn't I be? I've just been dragged away from my home, thrown off of a FUCKING cliff, and currently I've got voices in my head, they talk to me, and I'm literally sitting across from my combat instincts."
  291. >You gesture a little wildly as you talk, sitting up straighter.
  292. >"We thought you are used to being uprooted and moved somewhere new."
  293. >You give the Goddess a blank glare as if you're looking at a Private that lost their rifle.
  294. >Funnily enough, that is enough for Her to actually appear a bit bashful.
  295. >"Mayhaps that is not the correct way to put it. Allow Us to try again."
  296. >She turns away from the table, stepping back a bit as she looks out into the light.
  297. >"Tell Us, Son of Man... what is the purpose of a warrior?"
  298. >You cross your arms.
  299. "Waxing philosophical ain't a skill of mine, Ma'am, even less of a skill of mine than waxing poetic."
  300. >"Humor Us."
  301. >You scoff and shake your head in annoyance.
  302. "Fine. Warriors exist to fight. Our reasons are our own, but every warrior fights because we want to. Satisfied?"
  303. >She stands there, looking out into the light with a light hum before She turns back to you.
  304. >"And that is enough for you? That is your reason, Son of Man?"
  305. "Of course not. My reasons are my own, and I'm not just going to blatantly lay them out for you."
  306. >Your scowl returns full bore as She turns back to you.
  307. >"If We told you, Son of Man, that your reason and purpose as a warrior is why you are here, would you tell Us?"
  308. "No."
  309. >You gaze into the light of Her eyes as She gazes back into your soul, and lock your jaw as you drop into a thousand-yard stare, glaring through Her.
  310. >"... Still running away."
  311. >The crack of your fists slamming into the table and the chair tumbling away as you and your monster leap to your feet and lean forwards echos around this mental plane.
  312. >You point accusingly at Her.
  313. "I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO!"
  314. >She looks impassively at you and your monster as it turns and stalks away from the table.
  315. >"You did what you were told to do, Son of Man."
  316. >You growl, leaning forwards a bit more.
  317. "Alright, fuck this. Either tell me what you want or get the fuck out of my head."
  318. >The being sighs.
  319. >"You will learn in time, Son of Man. After all, We have need of you, and here you are."
  320. >She turns away once again before moving into the light.
  321. "HEY! Where is my fucking answer?"
  322. >You move around the table and start after Her, walking swiftly.
  323. >"It will be given in time, Son of Man. We will talk again, but for now Our time runs short."
  324. >She stops and turns and you come up just short of running into Her, staring Her in the eyes as She gazes back impassively.
  325. >"You happen to be what We needed, little one. You will be Our Warrior, as the will of the universe has decreed."
  326. "Fuck you."
  327. >"Indeed. This has been handled poorly. My Elements should have been introduced more smoothly."
  328. >You blink as you feel a soft hoof pushed up against your chest and glance down at it before returning your eyes to Her gaze.
  329. >She... doesn't look so omnipotent anymore.
  330. >She looks tired.
  331. >"-I- promise you there will be an explanation in time."
  332. >Her hoof softly drifts off your chest and you drop to your knees, suddenly feeling exhausted and spent.
  333. >"You and I shall speak again, my Warrior. This world depends on it."
  334. >As you slump to the ground, this mental plane fading once again, you catch the last few words She speaks as She leaps into the light on wings of glory.
  335. >"A Warrior's purpose is to fight for those who cannot."
  336. >You don't have time to consider that before everything goes black.
  337.  
  338. ---
  339.  
  340. >A soft melody of wind-chimes and a gentle breeze drifts over you as you start to regain your senses.
  341. >You feel very well rested, somehow, and warm.
  342. >Like you're wrapped in a nice blanket.
  343. >Slowly you start to regain your focus as your eyes open.
  344. "Mmph... someone catch the number of that truck?"
  345. >You'd expect after all of that your head would be pounding or something, but no, you feel fine.
  346. >You sit up, finding yourself laying on and against the Tree of Harmony which is making the soft chiming noises.
  347. >And indeed, it looks as though it was shielding you against the wind making the chiming, the little pocket you were laying in nice and warm.
  348. >Better then a rack anyway.
  349. >You grimace as you have to emerge from the tree, stretching out and feeling your joints pop as you streeetch out like a cat.
  350. >A pleased sigh leaves you as you crack your back and get to your feet, stepping out from where you had been laying to get a look out the cave mouth.
  351. >It's all shadows outside, but you can see the glowing moonlight even from where you are.
  352. >The shimmering light of the Tree of Harmony at your back does nothing to hide the Moon's glow.
  353. >Must be a full moon tonight, you muse to yourself as you turn back to the tree.
  354. >As you look over the Tree of Harmony, you note that indeed, it looks just as it did in the show.
  355. >And sure enough, the Elements of Harmony are reunited with the tree.
  356. >At least that gives you a general idea of 'when' you are.
  357. >You frown, rubbing at your chest a bit as you consider the fucked up vision, spirit walk, out of body experience thing you just experienced.
  358. >After all, it's not every day you curse out a Goddess.
  359. >You smirk wickedly.
  360. >Ok, it could be, IF you make it to Canterlot and get in good with Luna.
  361. >You could curse out Celestia every day!
  362. >That amusing thought makes you giggle a bit before you shake your head in glee.
  363. >Most people wouldn't expect a hardened warrior to giggle, but let's face it, Dark Humor is either met with snorts and giggles from the people who get the joke.
  364. >Or with abject horror for the poor, deluded souls who don't realize exactly how fucked up the universe actually is.
  365. >You shake your head and focus yourself as you start a full body shakedown.
  366. >After all, you had a funky ass dream and woke up curled against a tree of magical powers overwhelming.
  367. >I mean, shit, it banished a physical Goddess, or the closest thing you could apply such a title to, to the moon for a thousand years.
  368. >And did the same and then some to a being literally made of Chaos.
  369. >And then proceeded to hold off all kinds of magical corruption without the things that powered it for about the same amount of time.
  370. >You strip off your shirt, pants, boots, socks and underwear in order to make sure you can get a full look at your body.
  371. >No mirror, and you don't see any water, but you shouldn't have any markings on your body besides a few scars and the large tattoo on your back.
  372. >Those wings, all ten hours of getting them, were totally worth the cash.
  373. >You smile at the wins as you twist and turn to observe your body.
  374. >Awww yeah, lookin' good.
  375. >Indulging yourself in a moment of pride, you flex a bit and pose.
  376. >No wonder 'Faust' wanted you to be Her warrior.
  377. >Damn fine fighting shape warrior that you were.
  378. >Ok, boosting your own ego aside, you knuckle down on looking yourself over.
  379. >Nothing on your back, chest, no sudden cutie marks, no markings on your le-
  380. >Hold up.
  381. >You look closely at your ankles and note that there are now three blue bands seemingly tattoo'd around them now.
  382. >Those weren't there before.
  383. >You kneel down to get a better look at your right ankle, reaching out with your left hand to help move when you notice the bands are on your wrist as well!
  384. >Wrists, plural, you note as you check your other hand.
  385. >Well, that about caps it off- the tree absolutely did do something to you.
  386. >You snarl a little curse out as you swiftly get dressed again, pulling on your clothing with a huff.
  387. >Of course it wasn't that easy.
  388. "Fuck off! And then they actually fuck off and everything goes back to normal... yeah, that doesn't actually ever happen."
  389. >You grumble to yourself, talking not only about uppity Harmony spirits but the Brass as well.
  390. >As you pull on your shirt, you get a little glimpse of a glow coming from your chest, but the moment you go to look again, it's gone.
  391. >It looked like it came from where She touched your chest.
  392. >You shake off the delusion.
  393. >You're thinking way too damn hard.
  394. >You snag your backpack from where you set it down earlier and without a second glance you march out of the cave and up the steps of the canyon.
  395. >At least you know roughly where you are now.
  396. >Not like there isn't plenty of moonlight and you aren't in a head of steam.
  397. >You scoff one more time.
  398. "A warrior's purpose my ass."
  399.  
  400. ---
  401.  
  402. >A soft grunt slips your lips as you bring your knife sharply through some vines blocking your face.
  403. >Vines.
  404. >In a Forest.
  405. >Fucking hell Equestria is weird.
  406. >You smirk a little though, wondering what Daring Do would Do in a moment like this.
  407. >The amusing thought makes you chuckle again as you carry on.
  408. >You've made a swift journey through the Everfree, which is not something you ever expected to say.
  409. >It's been quiet this night.
  410. >No effeminate male sea serpent.
  411. >No chicken-dragon
  412. >No Lion scorpion
  413. >And no Tree Wolves.
  414. >Not even a rhyming Zebra Shaman.
  415. >Which honestly disappointed you a little bit.
  416. >Others can say what they will but Zecora is a bro.
  417. >Though you can't say you're not glad that you don't have to deal with rhyming right now.
  418. >You'd probably try to copy her and end up insulting her with your inability to rhyme worth a damn.
  419. >As you trek onward, you start to notice another subtle change in the forest.
  420. >The dirt path has gotten a bit more noticeable, and much more firm.
  421. >This path has been used a lot.
  422. >And a used path means one thing.
  423. >Civilization.
  424. >You up your pace a bit and soon are greeted with probably one of the most beautiful sights you've ever encountered.
  425. >You've stepped out of the Everfree to a clearing atop a hill overlooking all of Ponyville, from Fluttershy's Cabin and Sweet Apple Acres, to the entirety of Ponyville Proper, a little pang in your heart noting that the Golden Oaks library is still there.
  426. >All is as it should be.
  427. >The stars glimmer and shine in greetings to you as the full moon basks you in it's glory and shines on Canterlot, represent upon it's perch on the side of the tallest mountain in Equestria, with the Unicorn Ranges and the Foal Mountains set to either side.
  428. >It's glorious, and the beauty present to you makes you stop and just admire the view.
  429. >Perfection.
  430. "... Fuck, wish I had my phone still. The guys woulda loved this."
  431. >The moment passes, as it must always.
  432. >You feel a bit of melancholy grip at your heart but you brush it away.
  433. >No time for deep thoughts now, you're there!
  434. >You literally can see it in front of you!
  435. >There will be time to think about what isn't there soon enough.
  436. >Another pang of sorrow strikes at your heart as if delivered by Mjolnir itself, but you ignore it and start walking down the road towards Ponyville.
  437. >You spend the time thinking.
  438. >You should take up shelter of some kind or another on the outskirts of town.
  439. >Not quite at Sweet Apple Acres but -not- near Fluttershy's Cottage.
  440. >You'd give the little shy pegasi a heart attack!
  441. >You scan a bit with your eyes and notice a nice field near Rainbow Dash's cloud mansion.
  442. >That'lldopig.jpg
  443. >It's closer to Ponyville than either Sweet Apple Acres or Fluttershy's Cottage, but not so close that somepony would deliberately stumble upon you.
  444. >With a plan in mind, you make your way closer to Ponyville.
  445.  
  446. ---
  447.  
  448. >Man that walk was boring.
  449. >The distance from Everfree to Ponyville was quite a bit more than you expected.
  450. >At least three or so miles from your rough guesstimate.
  451. >Within swift running distance, easy, but a boring walk none the less.
  452. >You smile as you finally approach Ponyville proper, before veering off the path to the clearing where Rainbow Dash parks her house.
  453. >There's some good trees nearby that look like a good spot to set up 'camp' as it were.
  454. >Thankfully it's a beautiful, clear night.
  455. >You'll have to thank Rainbow and the weather team for that at some point or another.
  456. >A warm smile suffuses your face as you get into the treeline and set your backpack down near one of them.
  457. >Hesitating for a moment, you pull out your knife and score the tree bark to mark out where you left your bag.
  458. >As you smile to admire the small eagle you etched out of the dead bark, a loud sound startles you and makes you drop your knife.
  459. *SHRI-BANG*
  460. >You hit the deck and cover yourself quickly.
  461. >Mortar shelling!
  462. >You shiver as you stay down, in order to best avoid any fragmentation when you realize you haven't heard another shot yet.
  463. >You shift your head up and notice there's an extra glow you hadn't noticed before from behind you.
  464. >Looking over your shoulder, your eyes go wide as you see the last possible thing you wanted to see tonight.
  465. >Ponyville is on fire.
  466. >A heartbeat later and you hear the panicked cries of civilians.
  467. >Another heartbeat and you're on your feet.
  468. >Knife in hand.
  469. >Then in sheath.
  470. >You're already running.
  471. >Cuz that's what you do best.
  472. >Run towards the sounds of Chaos.
  473. --
  474.  
  475. "... And so I name them Hero, and HE shall be Our shield against all outside forces, and will not falter against any foe..."
  476.  
  477. --
  478. >Nopony is even paying attention to you.
  479. >Probably a good thing right now desu.
  480. >You are quickly approaching the impact site of the 'mortar' shell.
  481. >Even as you're running, the monster is taking over.
  482. >No panic.
  483. >No emotion.
  484. >Analysis and Instinct.
  485. >Any less will get you killed.
  486. >The house, for what else would be hit in a civilian town, was a two-story wooden building.
  487. >Tiled roof, surprisingly, but judging by the swirling flames licking out from the big hole punched in it, that shell hit hard.
  488. >Some kind of incendiary device.
  489. >Roof is still burning.
  490. >You can hear screaming from inside, and there's a mare with what appears to be a broken leg straining against the hold of a plain-looking stallion and a mare.
  491. >"LET ME GO! LET ME GOOOOOOO! NOOO! PLEASE! NOOOOOO!"
  492. >She's in hysterics, straining and kicking at the stallion and mare.
  493. >The stallion's holding strong, and is crying himself. You can see the tears reflected in the firelight and his brown coat, a slightly bedraggled tie around his neck.
  494. >The heat is -intense-
  495. >You can clearly feel it from here.
  496. >That's not good, especially if-
  497. >"SHE'S STILL IN THERE! DINKY! DIIIIINKYY!"
  498. >The mare that's trying to help catches a hoof to the gut and falls back, winded, but the stallion is more than capable of pinning the hysteric mare down.
  499. >Shit.
  500. >Your teeth grit as you pick up the pace and start getting closer to the house, eyes narrowed as you feel a snarl coming on.
  501. >Fucking monsters.
  502. >Those ISIS fucks can't even have the decency to pick a fight with actual fucking warriors.
  503. >Cowards! Next fucking raghead is gonna get a nice, slow death!
  504. >As you run, you glance around for something, anything to wet you down.
  505. >You're not a firefighter, but there's a fucking civvie in that house.
  506. >They're more important than you.
  507. >They're all more important than you.
  508. >The mare that got kicked blinks and notices you as you charge past the stallion and the hysteric mare.
  509. >"W-wha... WAIT! No! What are you doing?"
  510. >Her cry falls on deaf ears as you shoulder your way through the open door to the house and into the inferno.
  511. >The house is pretty well lit up.
  512. >It's entirely made of wood.
  513. >Those goatfuckers must be using some kinda napalm-esk bullshit now.
  514. >You push through the roaring flames as quickly as you can, even as you do your best to cover your face as you run.
  515. >The heat is -intense-.
  516. >No doubt you've got at minimum some first degree burns.
  517. >But that's fine.
  518. >You're fine.
  519. >Tougher then this bullshit.
  520. >You gotta get the Civvie.
  521. >Civvies are more important than you.
  522. >Your ears strain for any kind of sound when you freeze.
  523. >You're in the middle-ish of the house when you hear a faint sobbing.
  524. >Your head snaps from side to side as you try to pinpoint the sound.
  525. >There!
  526. >The hallway you're in leads to two rooms and a window at the end of the hallway that leads out to another road.
  527. >The sobbing was coming from the end of the hall!
  528. >The heat intensifies even more.
  529. >As you start to run again, you can only gasp in surprise as you feel something hit your back and you collapse to the ground.
  530. >The building is starting to fall apart, and you bite back a cry of pain as you feel the weight of the beam that fell on you pin you down.
  531. >You struggle to lift the weight, clawing at the ground to get purchase.
  532. >It's got your legs and the small of your back pinned down, even as you struggle to get some kind of leverage.
  533. >No damn it NO!
  534. >You're SO CLOSE!
  535. >THEY. ARE. RIGHT. THERE!
  536. >The monster is -howling- in rage now.
  537. >You need to get out!
  538. >YOU NEED TO GET OUT!
  539. >THEY NEED YOU DAMN IT!
  540. >THEY.
  541. >NEED.
  542. >A.
  543. >"Hero."
  544. >You freeze for a moment as your wrists and ankles light up, glinting a soothing blue against the harsh red of the flames.
  545. >"You are correct. They need you, Anon... but they need Hero more than they need Anon."
  546. >... The Goddess is back in your head, though only Her voice this time.
  547. >"Accept your duties. You said that My ponies, these Civilians, are worth more than you? Prove it."
  548. >You strain a bit more, trying to get out even though you feel the support beam push more into your body and pin you more firmly to the deck.
  549. >"You are chosen, Son of Man. As you are. As you will be. All you need to do is let go, and accept Our will."
  550. >"Will you be My Hero?"
  551. >Any protest dies from you the moment you realize that you can't get out.
  552. >You wouldn't complete the mission.
  553. >The civvie would die.
  554. >It would be -your fault-.
  555. >Again.
  556. >Just. Like. Nangarhar.
  557. "... Yes."
  558. >Silence.
  559. "YES DAMN YOU! I NEED TO SAVE HER!"
  560. >"How?"
  561. "I NEED MORE STRENGTH, I NEED TO... TO!"
  562. >The words fill your mind and slip out your mouth before you can even try to come up with anything you need, the bands glowing brighter.
  563. "I'M GOING PONY!"
  564. >The blue bands warp around your limbs and body as you feel filled with that same powerful warmth that you felt at the tree of Harmony.
  565. >As the bands move, you can feel and see the changes as they occur, your normal mind fascinated as your hands become big, powerful hooves and your legs become thick, muscular trunks covered in a soft white coat.
  566. >You feel the same changes occurring to your legs, and soon you're pushing up and off the ground, the pillar weighing less then a feather.
  567. >The fur follows the bands as they sweep over the rest of your body, rolling down your body and forming a tail of shining blond, broad, firm flanks that mark a strong stallion, and across your back and barrel to give you a properly strong body to match your legs and hooves.
  568. >The bands sweep past your eyes and down your face, forming a thick, square muzzle and a flowing blond mane that swept down your back.
  569. >You pant there for a moment, looking at yourself in confusion before you hear the sob again, your new shelled ears easily picking up the sounds you were straining to discover before.
  570. >Your in motion before you even consider anything else, flying down the hallway at full gallop before crashing through the door to the room with the crying sounds.
  571. >A small unicorn filly with a pale purple coat and a blond mane is surrounded by the flames.
  572. >She's a little burnt and her tail is in tatters.
  573. >Judging by the burns on her hooves, she stomped her tail out and her tail had caught on fire.
  574. >She's sobbing.
  575. >"D-daaaddyyyyy! M-mommaaa!"
  576. >She hasn't even noticed you yet, and you're not surprised, considering she's surrounded by fire.
  577. >You charge forwards, heedless of the flames, and nab the filly by the scruff of her neck and shift her up to your back with a gentle flick of your neck.
  578. >She yelps and cries out in pain, startled by your sudden arrival.
  579. >"A-aaah! W-w-"
  580. "Hang on! We're getting out of here! Don't let go! I've got you!"
  581. >You continue these strong words over and over as your flee across the flames, and back out into the hallway.
  582. >The flames are quickly eating up your entrance route.
  583. >Nothing for it.
  584. >If there isn't a hole for you to extract from, you'll have to make a hole!
  585. >You turn a bit, even as the sobbing filly clings to your mane and back, and lash out with both hooves at the wall with the window.
  586. >A loud cracking sound makes the filly scream in your ear, which is -quite- painful, as you blow out the window and some of the wall.
  587. >Enough that you can get out.
  588. >You dash out of the hole, stumbling a bit as you move through the debris from your kick, but you stay upright and are soon on the outside of the house.
  589. >Your coat is burnt and you're pretty sure your tail is maybe on fire, but the civvie is out.
  590. >She's safe.
  591. >They're safe.
  592. >The Ponyville Fire brigade made it just in time to watch the house collapse and the flames to engulf the shelled out home.
  593. >They spring into work anyway, dousing the houses near the home you had just escaped from even as you hear a mournful howl of a mother grieving for their child.
  594. >No mistaking it.
  595. >You heard it too many times before, both at home and Over There.
  596. >You gingerly make your way around and between a few of the houses from the dirt 'backroad' to the main road of Ponyville, where the stallion is still hugging the mare in hysterics tightly.
  597. >He's shaking in grief and is fully crying, almost broken down in his own grief.
  598. >The mare is inconsolable, and the other mare is hugging them both and crying as well.
  599. >Blond mane gray pegasus mare?
  600. >Probably the mother then.
  601. >The precious package upon your back is still crying, and calls out once again for 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' as you approach the huddle of crying ponies.
  602. >As you walk towards them, you note that the general populace that had been doing what they could to get out of the way or help the Fire Ponies out have noticed your presence, and many are staring at you in confusion.
  603. >Others in shock and awe.
  604. >You step up to the group, and cough gently.
  605. >You get the mare who was consoling 'mommy and daddy' to look up at you, and she gasps.
  606. >"Ditzy... Ditzy! Dinky!"
  607. >"She's GONE!"
  608. >The now named Ditzy sobs, shaking in grief.
  609. >"M-my filly is dead! MY MUFFIN IS DEAD!"
  610. >"MOMMY!"
  611. >Ditzy freezes, and the stallion's head shoots up and locks on you, Ditzy's head following a moment after.
  612. >The two clearly see the hurt but alive filly on your back and a moment later you're bowled over by the pegasus mare as she throws the stallion and mare off of her and practically tackles you in an attempt to get a hold of her filly.
  613. >"DINKY! MY DINKY!"
  614. >If anything, she's even more inconsolable now that she's got her filly back in her hooves.
  615. >You, meanwhile, are enjoying a lovely feast of dirt.
  616. >Mmm, dirt.
  617. >Part of a well balanced after-heroics meal.
  618. >You pull your head out of the dirt and groan, rubbing your muzzle with a hoof before you realize the stallion and the mare that had been trying to console Ditzy now surround you.
  619. >"You saved her! I thought you were both going to die!"
  620. >The mare is definitely in awe.
  621. >You remember that she called for you to stop and had seen you run inside.
  622. >Guess she only got a glimpse of you and wasn't able to get a good enough look to see anything beyond 'somepony is going into the burning house.'
  623. >Now that the adrenaline is tapering off, you can honestly say that it was not your smartest idea.
  624. >But you weren't going to let it happen again.
  625. >You keep that thought internalized.
  626. >No need to put on a scary face if you're gonna scare the civvies.
  627. "It's what I do."
  628. >You say with a soft shrug, shaking your head.
  629. >"You run into burning buildings with no protection and no backup? I'm honestly surprised you're alive!"
  630. >The stallion speaks up now, and you blink at the seriously British accent the guy is rocking.
  631. "Well, that's what I do. Run to the sounds of Chaos."
  632. >You shift a bit before shivering as you let yourself relax a bit.
  633. >The stallion is scrutinizing you very closely, as is the mare, but honestly you could care less.
  634. >She's alive.
  635. >You did it.
  636. >You don't have to hear her crying in your dreams too.
  637. >You let yourself slump a bit before snapping back to a proper stance as you hear more approaching hooves.
  638. >No rest for the weary.
  639. >You gotta get back to the wire before you can relax.
  640. >"Everything good over here folks? What about you son, are you alr- By Celestia! Doesn't that hurt?!"
  641. >One of the fire brigade came over to investigate, and as you shift to look at the stallion, you note not only his impressively bushy mustache, but a shiny golden star on each shoulder of his coat.
  642. >Shiny bits usually means officer of some kind or another, so you come to attention.
  643. >Must be the fire brigade chief.
  644. >The black-and-white dalmatian spotted pony is staring at your forelegs and you can only look at him in confusion.
  645. "... What hurts?"
  646. >"Your legs son! MEDIC! Somepony get Nurse Redheart over here!"
  647. >You frown and look down at your leg as the Chief waves a hoof and you see a small group of ponies start rushing towards the little herd you're standing with.
  648. >Ah, that would be the reason.
  649. >There's a pretty big splinter jammed in your right foreleg.
  650. >By 'big' you mean more like a stake.
  651. >Funny enough, you don't particularly feel it.
  652. >Must have gotten it while you were running out of the collapsing house.
  653. >You shake your head.
  654. "Don't worry about me, check the filly first, she's got some serious burns."
  655. >You wave off the medics even as they try to get closer, trying to direct them to Dinky and Ditzy.
  656. >The mare that had been trying to keep Ditzy from rushing the house gasps and goes to inspect the filly only to be shunted out of the way by a well placed hip-check by a nurse.
  657. >"Sorry Carrot Top, I know you and Ditzy are good friends, but we'll need some space if Dinky got hurt!"
  658. >The nurse says, the now identified Carrot Top looking a little chastised.
  659. >Another nurse approaches you even as you try to turn the attention away from yourself and her horn lights up.
  660. >You are gently forced into sitting on your haunches as she takes a hold of your right forehoof.
  661. "Seriously, I'm fine! It doesn't really hurt, I'll just pull it out later."
  662. >You get a withering glare from the Nurse which freezes you in place.
  663. >Yeesh, your DI's coulda gotten a lesson on intimidation from this mare!
  664. >"You're going to be a good colt and stay right there till I'm done with you, that's what you're going to do."
  665. >She says sharply, turning her head to where two nurses and you think the doctor leading the medical team are working on Dinky.
  666. >Arguing would probably lead to too many complications so you focus on the filly as your ears swivel gently to get a better grip on the conversation going on over her.
  667. >"-es going to be just fine Ms. Whooves. The burns look bad but thankfully her fetlocks got the worst of it. Just a burnt coat, and her coat will grow back."
  668. >Ditzy calmed down quite a bit and was gently petting the mane of her sobbing filly who most definitely has not gotten over her scare tonight, but the soothing voice of the doctor and a burn cream that was being applied by a different nurse was certainly helping.
  669. >"Thank you Doctor Horse. Do you need my husband for anything?"
  670. >A slightly pained smile comes across the tan stallion's face.
  671. >"N-no thank you Ms. Whooves. I'm sure he'd much rather spend time with you and your daughter after that close call."
  672. >Your attention is drawn away by a sharp pain in your leg, making your head snap to the nurse who just pulled the 'splinter' out of your leg.
  673. >Your sudden motion and firm gaze startles her and she huffs at you.
  674. >"Sir, please relax! I need to clean and bandage your leg! Goodness, you royal guard types are so intense."
  675. >You don't say anything as she continues to go about cleaning up and bandaging your leg using a medical kit that you just noticed was brought along with a doctor's bag and a few more kits that the other nurse had carried.
  676. >Your attention is split away again as the tie-wearing pony gently taps your shoulder.
  677. >You turn your attention to him, and note how intently he's staring at you.
  678. "Yes?"
  679. >He continues to stare for a moment before shaking his head.
  680. >"Sorry. I'm... this has been a very startling wake up."
  681. >You mentally nod.
  682. >No kidding, you're honestly not surprised that these ponies would be a little shell shocked.
  683. >You then mentally frown.
  684. >Now that you've pulled your head out of the Monster, you realized a few things.
  685. >Mostly that there's no way that was a mortar round... or at least, not one fired by ISIS.
  686. >You're in -Equestria-.
  687. >There is no ISIS here.
  688. >Second, you actually do know these ponies.
  689. >If the introduction you're about to get is who you think it is anyway.
  690. >"I'm The Doctor. If there's anything I can do to repay you-"
  691. >You cut him off, forcing a look of slight confusion on your face.
  692. "Doctor Who?"
  693. >Sure enough, there's a slight smirk.
  694. >"Precisely."
  695. >Yep. You do -indeed- know these ponies.
  696. "... Oookay then Doctor. It was no trouble, really. It's my duty to run headlong into danger."
  697. >This gets you a flat stare from the nurse, the fire chief, Doctor Whooves, and Carrot Top.
  698. >More ponies are idling around but haven't overhead the conversation, and the fire is now completely out.
  699. >"Forgive me for being contrary, but I've never seen you in Ponyville before."
  700. >The Fire Chief is skeptical, as he should be.
  701. >You give him a half-shrug, seeing as the nurse is still holding your right foreleg and bandaging you with upmost care.
  702. "I was just passing through on the way to my next Duty Station."
  703. >Your mind scrambles a bit to come up with a convincing story.
  704. >The best ones are based on the truth, after all, and you were technically on your way to your next duty station.
  705. >And you were passing through Ponyville on your way to your next duty station.
  706. >You just took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, that's all.
  707. >The Nurse gently pats the upper part of your foreleg.
  708. >"I'm all done Mister...?"
  709. >She appears to be trying to draw out your name, and your mind blanks.
  710. "Hero."
  711. >Your mouth speaks before your mind.
  712. >Oh joy, this bullshit again.
  713. >Funny enough, the ponies just accept that flat out.
  714. >"Mister Hero. Please put your hoof down and stand up for me, I want to make sure you can bare weight without adrenaline."
  715. >You nod and shift up to all four hooves, suddenly very, very aware that you have no idea how to move as a pony and yet you're moving.
  716. >Add that to the list of horse apples that you're rolling with today.
  717. >Sure enough, you stand tall, and now that you're paying attention, you're a bit taller than most of the ponies around you.
  718. >Huh, how about that.
  719. >"Well, you appear to be alright. The wood shard wasn't that deep and I don't think it seriously injured any muscle, and the puncture wasn't large enough to require stitches."
  720. >The nurse says aloud, drawing your attention back to her.
  721. >She's still inspecting your leg, looking it up and down before stepping back.
  722. >"Still, I'd recommend taking it easy for the next few days there Hero. No saving foals from burning buildings via knocking walls down, alright?"
  723. >She looks amused at that and you resist the urge to roll your eyes, if only barely.
  724. "Yes Ma'am."
  725. >She frowns.
  726. >"You should stop by Ponyville General tomorrow to collect some paperwork and a note from Doctor Horse on this incident Hero. You'll probably need to deliver it to your post upon arrival."
  727. >Huh, the civvies know that everything is documentation in the military, even here in Equestria.
  728. >That's a neat little bit of info.
  729. "I'll make sure to do that. If there's nothing else..."
  730. >You're about to make your excuses and leave when you're suddenly taken full broadside and forced to stumble a few paces.
  731. >"Thank you thank you thank you-"
  732. >The hug is painfully tight, and you can feel the breath being driven out of your lungs as your ribs strain against the pressure of Ditzy Doo, mail-mare extraordinaire, she of many names, does her best to kill you via hug for saving her daughter.
  733. >The smiles on The Doctor's and Carrot Top's faces inform you that they're going to be of no help.
  734. >Nope, the nurse and the chief don't care either.
  735. >Assholes.
  736. >Breath is very difficult right now.
  737. >Oh hey, that's a really neat color of blue your muzzle is turning.
  738. >"Momma! You're gonna hurt him!"
  739. >Thank you Dinky!
  740. >Ditzy finally lets you go and you slump just a bit before taking a deep breath and standing upright again.
  741. >Most of the ponies look pretty impressed by that, but the wall-eyed mare quickly takes your attention as she shifts to standing in front of you, her wings flapping excitedly for a moment before settling.
  742. >"Mr Hero, Thank you so much for saving my muffin~! Please, if there's anything we could do to help you, let us know!"
  743. >You shake your head a bit, gently holding up your right hoof.
  744. "I just did my job, that's all. I'm just glad that your... muffin, is ok."
  745. >You glance over at Dinky and give her a smile and a wink, making the filly giggle a bit.
  746. >She's got some ashes, and her coat is a mess.
  747. >But her hooves look much better and are gently wrapped.
  748. >Healing Magic is a thing then?
  749. >Or maybe it's some kind of alchemetic burn salve or something.
  750. >Either way, the little filly looks much better.
  751. >Ditzy huffs at you, obviously not liking your answer of 'no, seriously, it's not a big deal', but abates once she's pulled into a hug by The Doctor.
  752. >Carrot Top sighs as she stares at the burnt out husk-of-a-home.
  753. >"My poor house... I still have the farm, but..."
  754. >The small herd of Carrot Top, The Doctor and Ditzy start to talk between themselves, Ditzy gently herding Dinky in between her hooves and holding her filly close as they talk about homes and where they'll need to stay.
  755. >You shift your attention away from them as another discussion catches your interest.
  756. >"-Miss Sparkle, but we didn't catch them this time either. We think it was launched into town."
  757. >Sparkle?
  758. >You turn a bit and your eyes widen.
  759. >Oh... oh wow.
  760. >A Princess here before us.
  761. >Behold~
  762. >Behold~!
  763. >You blink the song away but even then, you're a bit dazed at the sight.
  764. >Sure, it was pretty exciting to see Ditzy Derpy Muffin Whooves-Doo, Carrot Top, Dinky, and The Doctor...
  765. >Hmmm, come to think of it, you might want to try to corner him and have a 'talk' later.
  766. >But TWILIGHT. SPARKLE.
  767. >She's -radiant-.
  768. >Like, wow.
  769. >You know she hasn't been a princess long, though judging by the fact that you didn't run into any of Discord's thorns, you're gonna guess that you're a short ways into Season 4.
  770. >Even then, she stands just a bit taller than everypony around.
  771. >Her horn is a bit longer when you mentally compare it to the nurse and the fire chief, and her wings are a good size-and-a-half bigger than most of the Pegasi you've seen.
  772. >You're staring.
  773. >Fucking hell you are STARING.
  774. >HEY FAGGOT.
  775. >EYES OFF.
  776. >You wrench your eyes off of Twilight Sparkle and refocus yourself.
  777. >Jeezus.
  778. >You haven't eyeballed anypony that hard since you were in boot camp and the DI was literally screaming in your face about it.
  779. >You missed more of the conversation, so you mentally turn your ears back on and listen in, and after a moment, your eyes find something much more important to look at.
  780. >Twilight is frowning hard at the item, and now you're a little confused.
  781. >Eggshells?
  782. >"I don't understand. How do they keep getting a hold of Phoenix eggs? More importantly, how are they getting enough to lob them at ponies?"
  783. >Twilight sounds quite frustrated, and judging by the look on the face of the royal guard who is standing in front of her, helmet tucked to his chest via his right foreleg, so is he.
  784. >"Ma'am, if I had an answer for you then this problem would already be solved. These foals are getting more and more bold. They attacked Ponyville in the middle of the night, for Celestia's sake."
  785. >Oh yeah, the guard is -very- frustrated.
  786. >He's practically grinding his teeth, and the two guards standing by look just as mad.
  787. >No, not mad. Bitter.
  788. >Somepony got hurt while they were there.
  789. >They weren't able to stop it.
  790. >You push the bitter feelings aside, knowing that the Monster is now screaming about it as well.
  791. >You can't save everyone.
  792. >You already learned that lesson.
  793. >"HELP ME!"
  794. >A woman's scream and a child's crying.
  795. >You tense up and do your best to shake the vision out of your head.
  796. >Nope.
  797. >Now is not the time.
  798. >You saved them today.
  799. >Today is a good day.
  800. >You got up.
  801. >You take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
  802. >"Princess Twilight, I'm going to have to report to Princess Celestia and Captain Flint Glint about this."
  803. >The guard sighed out the words, and Twilight looks a little dejected about it as the guard puts his helm back on.
  804. >"I understand. Make due haste Stoic, the ponies doing this need to be caught and soon. If not, I'm afraid somepony might get hurt."
  805. >"With all due respect Ma'am? Somepony already has. Frankly, I'm more worried that somepony is going to be killed."
  806. >Twilight flinches at the blunt words and sighs before turning away from the Guard, who barks orders to the other two before the trio rush off, the leader running along the ground, a Earth Pony you now notice, as the other two take to the skies.
  807. >Twilight is now facing you and the scene, and gives you a weary smile as she trots up.
  808. >"Thank you for what you did tonight. Stoic Marble informed me of your quick actions tonight. I'm Twilight Sparkle."
  809. >She introduces herself to you and you give her little teasing smirk back.
  810. "Thinking so lowly of yourself, Princess?"
  811. >Your tone is soft and teasing as you bow to her, making her blush and wave her hooves at you, mumbling for you to stand.
  812. "Sorry, couldn't help but poke a little fun your Highness."
  813. >You smile warmly to show you didn't mean anything by it and get an embarrassed smile back.
  814. >"None the less, thank you again, really. You've done Ponyville and Equestria a great favor tonight. If there's anything we can do for-"
  815. >You cut her off right there.
  816. "Eenope."
  817. >This earns you a blink from all the ponies listening in.
  818. >Including, you now notice, the rest of the Mane Six minus Fluttershy.
  819. >Sure, they're all kinda scattered around the scene.
  820. >Rainbow Dash is helping a few pegasi maneuver a raincloud back to the sky.
  821. >Applejack just joined Ditzy, Dinky, The Doctor and Carrot Top and had just given Carrot Top a hug.
  822. >Applebloom was right next to her, doing the same to Dinky. Awww.
  823. >Rarity was in a dressing gown and standing at the door to the nearby Carousel Boutique.
  824. >And Pinkie Pie was standing right next to you, vibrating in place and grinning wildly.
  825. >Wait.
  826. >You turn your head and observe she of the fourth-wall.
  827. >She's smiling directly at you, her eyes shining.
  828. >... Whelp.
  829. >You turn your head back to Twilight and do your best to pretend the crazy one isn't there for now.
  830. >You just aren't ready to deal with that particular bit of psychosis.
  831. >Maybe you're in a Pony Fever dream, but Pinkie Pie is a bit much to deal with in a normal situation.
  832. >This isn't a normal situation.
  833. >Twilight finally recovers from your flat refusal and looks at you in confusion.
  834. >"You didn't let me finish."
  835. "You don't need to. I was just doing my job your Highness. I don't need a reward for that."
  836. >Twilight frowns.
  837. >"Even though you risked your life to save Dinky?"
  838. >You resist the urge to shrug.
  839. >Gotta be careful about how you word this, don't want to trip over civilian sensibilities.
  840. >They like to frown upon the idea that their lives are worth more than yours.
  841. >Or when you out and out tell them you'd rather die over them in a majority of situations.
  842. "A risk I willingly took on my own shoulders of my own accord when I made my vows. I am owed nothing nor would I think to ask for anything."
  843. >She looks a bit befuddled by that and glances at Pinkie Pie, sighing a bit before giving you a soft smile.
  844. >Goddess she's pretty...
  845. >"Then I suppose my thanks and the Pinkie Party you're about to get will have to suffice."
  846. >You can only blink in confusion and hope that you don't have a dumb look on your face as you snap out of the pretty-mare induced trance.
  847. "... Pinkie Party?"
  848. >At this point you are assaulted by the -new- strongest hug you've ever experienced.
  849. >Ditzy might have been trying to break your ribs.
  850. >Pinkie is succeeding.
  851. >And taking your spine with her.
  852. >Help
  853. >She's talking so rapidly that you can barely understand a word she's saying but she's excited about -something- or another.
  854. >A few moments later you're on the ground, twitching.
  855. >She let you go.
  856. >You think.
  857. >You can't really tell, your ribs are trying to push back into place.
  858. >"So! What's your name?"
  859. >Pinkie asked you a question.
  860. >Maybe.
  861. >Oooh, the world is pretty colors and spinnin'.
  862. >"His name is Hero. At least, that's how he introduce himself."
  863. >Ditzy spoke up, saving you the trouble of trying to get up and can instead try to focus on making the world stop so you can get off.
  864. >Que PinkieGasp.exe
  865. >"Super Hero! That's a great name, especially because it's his and he swoonced right in to save the day and noweveryponyisfineandwe'regonnahavesuchabigpartyandI'msoexcitedaren'tyouexcitedIdon'tthinkI'veeverbeenso-"
  866. >Aha.
  867. >So that's why she hugs ponies so tight.
  868. >She's stealing their lung capacity so she can just keep talking.
  869. >That makes much more sense.
  870. "... Ow."
  871. >Twilight's magic grabs a hold of you and gently pulls you up to your hooves before brushing you off.
  872. >"Sorry, Hero, right? Or is it Super Hero? I only caught a bit of Pinkies ramble."
  873. >Twilight smiles warmly at you as you take some breaths and feel your ribs finally shift back into place.
  874. >On the plus side, your back feels -great-.
  875. >Spine Status- 100% Realigned.
  876. "Hero... just Hero."
  877. >"Just?"
  878. >Twilight asks, a little confused.
  879. >Whoops, looks like you kinda skipped naming conventions 101...
  880. "N-no, I mean, my name is -just- Hero."
  881. >"Oh! Well, nice to meet you Hero."
  882. >You give Twilight a little smile.
  883. "A pleasure to meet you as well, Princess."
  884. >You narrow your eyes at her and your smile turns sinister.
  885. "You do realize, of course, that this means war, your Highness."
  886. >Twilight had started to smile back, but now she looks confused again.
  887. >"War?"
  888. >You chuckle softly.
  889. "You sic'd the Pink Prancing Party Planner on my head, Ma'am. A prank, if you will. Well executed at that."
  890. >You smirk a bit, as her eyes widen.
  891. "A brilliant flanking maneuver. Inspired even. Why, if one of my boys had the brains or the guts to do that to me I'd be congratulating them every time they shove the world to make it spin faster."
  892. >Your grin has turned feral, and Twilight looks very nervous now.
  893. "The opening shot across the bow is seen and understood your Highness. Retaliation will be sweet and delivered promptly."
  894. >Awww, she's actually shivering a bit at your tone!
  895. >Hehe, still got it.
  896. >Nopony out pranks Hero!
  897. >... Uh.
  898. >No.
  899. >No -ONE- out pranks Anon.
  900. >Especially not your derpy Privates and Lance Corporals.
  901. >Jeeze, get your head back in the game, huh?
  902. >You drop back to a normal smile as you hear more ponies approach before you're suddenly hit amid-ships by a fuzzy ballistic missile.
  903. >You sway a bit, and blink in surprise as you glance down at your side, unaware that you had sat down on your flanks again.
  904. >Nuzzled into your barrel and hugging you firmly is Apple Bloom.
  905. >Awwwwww.
  906. >You're quite enjoying the hug, though you can't help but won-
  907. >"Apple Bloom! What hav' 'Ah told ya' 'bout randomly huggin' strangers?"
  908. >Eeyup, there's Applejack.
  909. >"Bu' he saved Dinky Applejack!"
  910. >Apple Bloom is now gazing up at you from where she was hugging you.
  911. >Immediate Diabeetus.
  912. >Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnng.
  913. >anonheart.exe has crashed
  914. >error error error
  915. >"'Ah know sugarcube, but ya'll need ta ask first."
  916. >Applejack gives you a smile, tipping her signature hat to you.
  917. >"Ifn' 'Ah ain't mistakin', an' 'Ah'm sure 'ah ain't, he's one o' them stoic types like Big McIntosh."
  918. >... Oh.
  919. >The slow lobbed pitch.
  920. >You lean forwards, just a little bit, savoring the build up.
  921. >This moment is just too good to pass up, and you want to enjoy every bit of it.
  922. "Eeyup."
  923. >This earns you a glorious deadpan face from Applejack, and only makes your smirk intensify.
  924. >"Somehow 'Ah feel lahck ye'r makin' funna' raight now sugacube..."
  925. >[Smirking Intensifies]
  926. "Eeyup."
  927. >Applejack rolls her eyes and smirks back as Applebloom giggles.
  928. >Mission accomplished, you can now puff your chest out in pride.
  929. >If you were inclined to do such things anyway.
  930. >You smile at Apple Bloom and gently push her off of you.
  931. "You should listen to your sister anyway, Apple Bloom was it? I like a good hug, but you really should ask first if it's a stranger."
  932. >Does stranger danger even exist in Equestria?
  933. >Sometimes, it feels like parenting, (dead or otherwise) in Equestria tends to be very... hooves off.
  934. >Free Range doesn't even cover it.
  935. >The filly sulks a bit at you agreeing with her big sister, who gives you a wink and a nod.
  936. >"Fiiiiiiine. Thank you for savin' Dinky!"
  937. >With that Apple Bloom turns and runs back over to the small family you were drawn away from and you're left with the small herd gathering around you.
  938. >Rainbow Dash had come down from the sky and was giving you a pretty big smirk herself, eyes narrowed a bit as she holds a hoof up to you.
  939. >If it is what you assume it is...
  940. >You bump your hoof to hers, and her eyes un-narrow a bit, as if you've just answered an important question for her.
  941. >"Heh. Nice work there Hero, you did Ponyville a solid tonight."
  942. >Just like that, she's off again, and you can only shake your head in bemusement before noting that Rarity has joined Ditzy's group and appeared to be offering the small family a place to stay for the rest of the night.
  943. >You turn to Twilight and give her a half smile, feeling the night's events start to push down upon your shoulders.
  944. >Even a 'super hero' needs rest after busting through a burning building apparently.
  945. >Honestly, you're feeling exhausted.
  946. >You didn't notice it before, but you're really feeling the weight of your actions tonight now.
  947. "With all due respect your Highness, but it's quite late and I've been traveling all day."
  948. >Twilight blinks and then takes in your appearance, looking you over with deep scrutiny.
  949. >"Oh my gosh, you must be exhausted! Did you just make it to Ponyville before this happened?"
  950. >You nod firmly, and she frowns.
  951. "Ponyville's Inn is full on rooms for the moment, but I'm sure we could-"
  952. >You shake your head.
  953. "Nope."
  954. >You get a small glare back for interrupting her again but you hold up a hoof and continue.
  955. "Really, it's fine your Highness. I found a nice grove to sleep in and I'll be right as rain in the morning. I've got to get going as early as possible so that I'll be to my next duty station on time to report."
  956. >Twilight stares you down, and steps a bit closer.
  957. >By Celestia's beard her eyes are gorgeous.
  958. >Stop focusing on the pretty mare and focus on leaving...
  959. >"And you're telling me you're going to travel after sleeping outside on the ground?"
  960. "Been doing it for years Ma'am. Another night isn't going to hurt me none."
  961. >"Nope."
  962. >The glare-off, glaring from Twilight, gazing stupidly into her eyes from you, is stopped by Ditsy who, along with the rest of the ponies that had been, has now re-entered the conversation.
  963. >Ditsy pokes you firmly in the barrel, making you wince.
  964. >"Now you listen to me Mr. Hero. You are going to be thanked. You are going to be rewarded, and you're going to get a good night's sleep!"
  965. >You stood firm in front of the mare for all of a second before being cowed by her tone of voice.
  966. >Heaven hath no wrath like a Mother.
  967. >DI's learn how to cow their Recruits by listening to Mothers scold their children and spouses.
  968. >"DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?"
  969. "M-Ma'am! Yes Ma'am!"
  970. >The serene smile makes you sweat a bit as she softly pats your foreleg with her hoof before turning and trotting away.
  971. "... Haven't been stared down that hard since boot."
  972. >Your mutter doesn't go unnoticed, Twilight giggling her pretty little mane off before your turn to face her.
  973. >"As I was saying, the Library has a perfectly good couch, the least I could do is make it into a bed for you to rest in tonight."
  974. >You sigh and nod.
  975. >Twilight smiles brightly at you, her wings flapping once before settling again.
  976. >"Excellent! I'll go set up the library. Just a moment please."
  977. >The Princess moves off and away as Dr. Whooves gives you a apologetic grin, making you shake your head.
  978. >You're not gonna argue with a mother.
  979. >Arguing with a DI?
  980. >Fine, you get screamed at and forced to do more workouts.
  981. >Maybe a pop in the mouth if you mouth off badly enough.
  982. >Argue with your momma?
  983. >She'll tan your backside and then wash your mouth out with soap.
  984. >And -then- she'll come up with your actual punishment!
  985. >Nope, you learned early on in life that what Momma says goes.
  986. >You're not about to argue with one, especially one that's in a emotional tizzy because her baby was in a life threatening situation.
  987. >Unfortunately, that exhaustion you had been experiencing is building more and more, and you have shifted from sitting on your flanks to laying on the road.
  988. >"Woah, hey now big guy, none of that."
  989. >A blue wing gently cuffs you upside the head, making you regain focus and awareness.
  990. >Rainbow Dash is standing on your right, one wing extended.
  991. >Jeeze, you must really be out of it if you missed her landing next to you.
  992. >"Come on, Twilight wants me to escort you to your bags and then bring you to the library. She's gonna do that fancy egghead stuff of hers and make a bed for you tonight."
  993. >Dash grins at you and you sigh, shifting up to all four hooves.
  994. "Doesn't want me running off and trying to skip out I take it."
  995. >Dash's grin becomes a shiteating one and you just sigh.
  996. >Whatever, a place to sleep is a place to sleep.
  997. >You wanted to see if you could change back, but you're just too tired to argue.
  998. "Jeeze, ponies around here are almost too friendly."
  999. >You grumble to yourself, only getting a snigger from the blue pigeon flying next to you.
  1000. >Come to think of it...
  1001. >You glance over at the pegasus, mentally comparing your size to hers.
  1002. >Jeeze, either Rainbow Dash is really, really tiny, making that pigeon comparison much more accurate.
  1003. >Or you are Charlie Atlas Superpower, the Titan.
  1004. >You smirk to yourself a bit as you focus on the road again.
  1005. >You'll have to go find Big Mac some day and compare, or one of the Princesses that isn't Twilight.
  1006. >"So, what do you do when you're not saving the day there, muscles?"
  1007. >Rainbow Dash has gotten tired of peace and quiet apparently.
  1008. >How unsurprising...
  1009. "Besides training to save the day, and catching mares that swoon into my hooves because I'm just that handsome and heroic?"
  1010. >Behold, you can sarcasm too!
  1011. >"Har-de-har-har. I thought you guard types weren't allowed to have a sense of humor."
  1012. "It's dry humor, and it's standard issue, like everything else."
  1013. >"Does that include your brain?"
  1014. >Damn, that was a zinger with some heat!
  1015. >You look at the smirky, air-strutting pegasus.
  1016. "No, you have to bring that yourself. Why, were you trying to get one to fill up the empty-space, featherbrain?"
  1017. >The smirk drops as does she, landing right in front of you with a bluster of wind as you now have a angry, challenging mare glaring you down...
  1018. >Well, glaring you up.
  1019. >She doesn't even make it half way up your chest.
  1020. >"Oh, so you're a egghead huh?"
  1021. >You snort at her and step past, continuing on your way without much issue.
  1022. "Nah, but I sure ain't a meathead."
  1023. >"Who are you callin' a meathead?!"
  1024. >Wow, you weren't even trying to rile her up and there she goes.
  1025. >Then again, she hasn't gone to Wonderbolt's training academy yet, right?
  1026. >She's not enlisted, or an officer.
  1027. >She's a athlete, and a very, very competitive one.
  1028. >Wait.
  1029. >No, this is the 4th season, right?
  1030. >You gotta treat this right or you're gonna be spinnin' off into some mess.
  1031. "Look Flyfilly, are we gonna have a issue?"
  1032. >"That depends on you, gropo, can you back up the talk?"
  1033. >You both are face to face again, as the agile mare had back-winged and got in front of you again.
  1034. >You stopped this time, so that you both could stare each other down.
  1035. >You snort softly, feeling the air huff out of your muzzle.
  1036. "Absolutely."
  1037. >"Hoof-wrassle, now."
  1038. >You glance around for a suitable surface, and point out a nearby stump.
  1039. "That'll do. Now after I win-"
  1040. >"-Not happening."
  1041. "Right. After I win, you're gonna drop it flyfilly, and I'll oh-so-graciously accept your praises."
  1042. >"Uh-huh. And after -I- win, you'll owe me one favor, unconditional, pay out at any time of my choosing, and you'll have to drop a line back to Ponyville."
  1043. >You blink at the mare, who is smirking brightly now.
  1044. "... That's... specific."
  1045. >The smirk widens.
  1046. >"Oh, you thought you were gonna escape Ponyville huh? Sorry to break it to ya 'hero', but you ain't hightailin' it outta here that easily."
  1047. >You huff.
  1048. "I have my or-"
  1049. >"Bull."
  1050. >You frown at her again.
  1051. >"Oh, I'm not discounting that you might have orders."
  1052. >She waves a hoof as she trots over to the stump, rolling her shoulder before planting the elbow of her foreleg on the stump, hoof up in the classic arm-wrestling position.
  1053. >Equestria man, it does things.
  1054. >"What I am discounting is that you're traveling through Ponyville to get to wherever you're going. All Guards get transportation to their next duty stations, with a two week leave period minimum in their hometown or place of choice, being dropped off and picked up from that leave location."
  1055. >You blink in surprise, even as you take up the opposite position on the stump, hoof up.
  1056. >Comparing hooves, yours dwarf hers by a lot. Geeze, are Clydesdales a thing in Equestria?
  1057. "And your point is-"
  1058. >"Pretty simple."
  1059. >Her hoof smacks into yours as you and her settle into the start position, testing the firmness of each other's position and getting your elbows in place.
  1060. >"I haven't been given any flightplans for a guard carrage to go through my fly-zone, and the train doesn't arrive in Ponyville Station from any of the distant territories for another day before going to Canterlot, and the Canterlot train arrived early this morning."
  1061. >You raise an eyebrow.
  1062. "You goin' somewhere with this flyfilly or are you stallin'?"
  1063. >"You weren't on the train and you weren't on the manifest. So that means you made your own way here. Which you aren't authorized to do under the Military Movement Charter."
  1064. >Fucking hell, there's an actual fucking rule against Ditty-Moves in Equestria? Ain't that some shit.
  1065. >"Of course, only a military service pony would know about it, because everypony sees the Guard packing up and moving members every once in a while. So if you don't know, you're either a Civvy showing off... or a spy."
  1066. >The struggle begins on that word, and your hoof strains against hers.
  1067. >For a mare that flies all the time, she's ridiculously strong.
  1068. >Seriously. Rainbow Dash is scary.
  1069. >You're feeling every bit of power she's putting into the push.
  1070. >And you're pushing back evenly.
  1071. >Both of you are obviously struggling your best to make the other collapse.
  1072. >But Arm Wrestling is more about technique than it is about raw power in later stages of completion.
  1073. >You've got the muscle to make her fall back, and you can feel her start to give, making you put more weight in.
  1074. >When her smile gets even more feral and suddenly your arm sweeps the other way.
  1075. >You overbalanced, mostly due to your unfamiliarity with hoof-wrestling, and she moved her hoof up towards the top of yours, giving her more leverage.
  1076. >In a sweep, the back of your hoof smacks into the stump, and she lets your hoof go with a smirk.
  1077. >"So, what are you? Who are you?"
  1078. >You wince.
  1079. >Damn, not only did she hurt your pride, but you lost a bet -and- she blew a hole in your cover story.
  1080. >When the hell did -Rainbow Dash- get smart?
  1081. >Guess she's really been applying herself at the Academy.
  1082. >"... Tell you what, you'll just owe me that explanation later."
  1083. >You blink in surprise.
  1084. >She's letting you off the hook?
  1085. >The pegasus mare huffs, and shakes her mane out.
  1086. >"I'm tried, it's been a long day, and you did do something pretty damn spectacular on your first night in town. That gets you a pass, for now."
  1087. >The mare rounds on you, and prods you firmly in the chest with her hoof.
  1088. >"Just know that I'm -watching- you big boy, and you owe me that explanation and favor. I -will- find you if you don't pay up."
  1089. >Mares are fuckin' scary man.
  1090. >Forget Mothers, just mares in general.
  1091. >You sigh.
  1092. "Fine, deal."
  1093. >You spit into your hoof and hold it out, and after a moment, she spits into hers and slaps it against yours.
  1094. >Deal sealed, you scrap your hoof clean through the grass before continuing on towards Rainbow's clearing, and the trees you stored your stuff at.
  1095. "Come on, we're burning good moonlight."
  1096. >The rest of the trip travels in silence, even if she makes a 'huh' sound at the sight of your bag, but she doesn't try to look through it or anything like that, and you swiftly make your way back into Ponyville proper, idly making your way down Mane (hurr) street.
  1097. >The trip to Twilight's Library is fairly easy, not just because it's easy to spot, but because you already vaguely know the way, spotting out landmarks like the Carousel Boutique and Sugar Cube Corner as you go, and passing by Town Hall, where a sleepy looking Mayor Mare is talking with a few more guards, nodding before she sets off towards the houses away from where the Doo household was.
  1098. >Guess even bureaucracy sleeps once in a while.
  1099. >Soon you're in front of Twilight's Library, and you just have to stop and stare.
  1100. >It's the greatest thing you've seen in your entire life.
  1101. >Remember when you were younger, and you had those fantasies of living in a treehouse?
  1102. >No doubt in your mind, this is a thousand times better than that dream ever was.
  1103. >A blue wing impatiently swats your muzzle.
  1104. >"Hey, big, broad, and breaks through walls. You with us, or did you dump your brain on the way into town?"
  1105. >You sigh, rolling your eyes at the pegasus, giving her a flat look as you droll at her.
  1106. "Oh why yes I did Miss Featherbrain Ma'am. I was -not- marveling at the library built out of a tree, something that I've never seen before, and admiring not only the aesthetic but the comforting gravitas of the location."
  1107. >The pegasus snorts at you, rolling her eyes.
  1108. >"It's a tree. You've slept in one you've slept in them all."
  1109. >You barely restrain yourself from snarking about her obsession with sleeping in the Sweet Apple Acre's trees, but only just.
  1110. >Besides, it would be too easy.
  1111. >Instead you trot forwards and gently knock on the door.
  1112. >"... It's a -library-."
  1113. >Goodness, that deadpan is thick enough that you could probably cook a steak in it.
  1114. "It's also the home of royalty and after hours."
  1115. >The Pegasus raises a hoof as if she's about to respond and comes short, frowning for a moment before conceding the point with a huff and a ruffling of her wings before the door is opened in a haze of purple aura.
  1116. >"Ah! Thank you for escorting Hero back into Ponyville Rainbow Dash, did you both have a good talk about guard life?"
  1117. >Twilight is smiling brightly at the two of you, leaving you a bit bemused.
  1118. >Huh, not only was she using Dash to make sure you came back, but she was deliberately trying to make you and the Wonderbolt-in-training friends.
  1119. >Clever, though you're not sure why she's trying to have you make friends when you're going to be leaving the next morning.
  1120. >Either way, time for niceties.
  1121. "Thank you for letting me stay in your abode Your Highness. You'll never even notice that I'm here."
  1122. >You sketched a salute and she's waving you off, much to the amusement of Rainbow Dash.
  1123. >"Please, none of that! You're a guest in my home, just call me Twilight!"
  1124. >You glance between the Princess and Rainbow Dash, who is rolling her eyes and about one step away from breaking out in wild cackles in her amusement.
  1125. >Guess you're not getting away from it.
  1126. >You sigh, hanging your head and shaking it before giving Twilight a playful smirk.
  1127. >Might as well be 'charming' if you're going to be a house guest of royalty.
  1128. "Very well. Then I insist you just call me 'Anon'. Super Hero is such a mouthful and a bit pretentious."
  1129. >Twilight and Dash both look quite confused.
  1130. >"Anon?"
  1131. >Twilight asks, cocking her head at you and looking at Dash, who shrugs her wings.
  1132. "It's short for 'Anonymous'. It's my nickname. You know, because I'm all white?"
  1133. >You sweep a hoof down your shiny white coat and gently toss your blond mane.
  1134. "I could be anypony, especially once I'm in armor because I look like everypony else only moreso because I don't need any of the color adjusting armors."
  1135. >Rainbow Dash frowns and then scoffs.
  1136. >"That's kind of a lame nickname."
  1137. >You raise an eyebrow at her.
  1138. >Yep, she's definitely not a bolt yet, she hasn't been in the hazing episode yet.
  1139. "Alright then Tie-Dye, you come up with a better one."
  1140. >Twilight blinks and then giggles, covering her muzzle with her hoof as Dash's frown deepens as she marches up to you.
  1141. >"What did you call me Powder Puff?!"
  1142. >Excellent, she's proving your point.
  1143. "You heard me Roy-B-Giv. You don't get to pick your nickname, and I'm sure you're gonna get saddled with several, especially if you're as much as a hotshot as you appear."
  1144. >Her wings splay out and she looks like she's about to call you out when she's stopped by Twilight.
  1145. >"No, he's right Rainbow Dash, Shiny told me all about it, even if he wouldn't tell me his nickname."
  1146. >The Pegasus looks at the princess and then does the whole 'I'm watching you' motion with one hoof at you before rocketing off into the sky with nothing more than a 'Later Twi!'
  1147. >Twilight sighs and smiles warmly at you as she steps aside and beckons you into her home.
  1148. >"You really got Rainbow riled up, but I think that's enough excitement for one night. You should get some rest."
  1149. >You step over the threshold into the Library with only a -little- bit of caution and worry.
  1150. >Mostly hoping some magic doesn't suddenly strip you off your appearance.
  1151. >Twilight closes the door and locks it behind you, putting out a few candles as she trots past them.
  1152. >Mmm, comfy.
  1153. >You take a deep breath, enjoying the musk of books and well-cared for wood.
  1154. >Fresh wood apparently. The house is still alive after all!
  1155. >You follow her deeper into the house, and are guided to a room tucked behind some shelves.
  1156. >"Normally I'd have you sleep in the landing below my room, but Spike is already asleep and I don't want to shock him in the morning."
  1157. >You nod, before looking at her curiously, well aware that you technically shouldn't know who Spike is.
  1158. "Who?"
  1159. >"Who."
  1160. >Ah. This gag.
  1161. >You look up at Twilight's Owl, at whom Twilight is giggling.
  1162. >"Spike is my Number One assistant and a baby dragon. I'm sure you'll like him, but he's very excitable in the mornings."
  1163. >You blink.
  1164. "A baby dragon?"
  1165. >"Yes! He was my entrance exam to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns."
  1166. "Huh... so that actually is a thing."
  1167. >She blinks at you before blushing, muttering under her breath.
  1168. >You ignore it and step into the room hidden behind the shelves.
  1169. >"Sorry that it's not much, I've been using it as a quasi-storage room and extra shelving for not-often-requested reads."
  1170. >You would wave off her comment but you're far too happy about what you see around you as you step into the room.
  1171. >It's a book-loving introverts dream, a room sequestered off from the rest of the house where all that is inside of it are books and comfortable looking bed.
  1172. >You set your bag off to the side and simply walk forwards, drawn by the sirens of the clean sheets and the alluring aroma of books just waiting to be read.
  1173. >Why did you want to stay in the Whitetail Woods again?
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