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I Will Hunt You Down

by -TGM-

First published

Have you ever wanted to be something else? I know I have. Did I ever imagine that I would get turned into a bio weapon of mass destruction in a world full of talking ponies? Nope. And yet...

I used to live on a place called Earth, where things were pretty reasonable. I had a job, I went to school, and life was pretty much normal.

After a night of revisiting Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with my friend, we got an idea. Comic Con was coming up, why not go as one of the most feared things in gaming history? A few days pass and bam, I'm decked out in Nemesis' signature overcoat/power limiter with the look to match. Damn shame we didn't have the time to make his signature rocket launcher though...

As luck would have it, a merchant behind one of the stalls had a perfect replica. I really shouldn't have taken that thing...

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Yet another character in the League of Humans Acting Villanous. I know it's late. Forgive me.

Inspired by stories like
Headless, not Heartless

and

The Rise of Darth Vulcan

Also, rated teen for language and violence.

Editing done by Doccular42 and Salacar

STAAAAARS!

Bored. Bored. I’m really bored. Bored. Bored. Did I mention that I’m bored?

“Children, what do you think this statue stands for?”

The schoolteacher mare gestured towards my stone prison with her hoof, a small group of foals following close behind.

“Whatever it is, it’s ugly!” The snotty comment came from a small filly wearing a tiara . If I could move my eyebrow, or any part of my body for that matter, it would’ve twitched. I could smell her from where my statue was. She was spoiled rotten. Despite this, it earned several laughs from her classmates. The teacher motioned for them to be quiet before continuing.

“This statue represents ‘Vengeance’, or the act of exacting punishment on those who have wronged you, or others before. Long ago, legends say that Vengeance roamed Equestria, bringing destruction wherever it went.”

Blah, blah, blah, typical sun-butt bullshit, blah blah. Geez, I wonder if she told them that I ate ponies too?

“The stories also say, that the very land he tread upon was cursed- and wherever he went, a great sickness would soon follow.”

That’s not a curse. That’s a virus. The t-virus to be exact. Of course, the schoolteacher mare couldn’t hear this.

“It’s s-scary…” I heard one small white filly in the back of the group speak up, hiding behind the yellow and tan-coated fillies.

Kid, you have no idea.

“Move along children,” she pushed them along elsewhere in the garden. I noticed the little brat who had spoken up earlier, reach out and trip the little white filly who had vocalized her fear of me.

“Better run Sweetie-butt,” the snotty one sang. “don’t want Vengeance to catch you, do you?”

The white one shrieked and looked behind her, but I was still stuck in the same position.

For now. I reminded myself. Discord had actually broken out not that long ago, hopefully that also meant my time was coming. Remembering that backstabbing bastard brought up some bad memories, but I let them go. His time would soon come too.

The red-maned filly helped the little white one to her hooves, and they were soon joined by their purple-maned friend. “You okay Sweetie Belle?” The red-maned one asked. I could hear the country in her accent.

“I’m fine just...gosh she makes me so angry!”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” The purple maned one spoke up. “Someone should teach her a lesson or two.”

I felt something tingle. AHHH- what the fuck?

“Yeah. Have her running scared for a while and see how she likes it.”

CRACK!

The small fillies froze in fear, and slowly turned to look at my statue. A large crack formed on top of my chest. Holy shit, am I breaking free?! Another crack, and my statue was visibly shaking with my effort to finally be free of my prison. The fillies ears folded back as they watched a monster freed unto their world once more.

Another crack, and my arm was free! I immediately set to work on freeing the rest of my body, ripping stone from my face, chest, other arm, and legs. Then I fell face-first onto the ground. I didn’t even care, it just felt good to finally be able to feel something other than bird shit!

Air! Grass! Finally! Three shrieks. I looked up to see the three fillies quaking in fear. I should thank them. I thought, as I climbed to my feet, rising to my full seven foot and eight inch height. I opened my mouth to thank them.

“SSSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!”

The three fillies screamed and went running off. “Ms. Cherileeeeee!” They shouted after their teacher.

No! Wait! Come back!

“STAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSS!!!!”

Goddamnit! This reminded me all too much of how I first got here…

~1200 years ago, Nemesis~

“Shit! He’s coming this way!!”
The menacing figure on the television screen merely responded by uttering “Staaaarssss…”

Just before he impaled Jill on the end of a tentacle, slamming her repeatedly into the ground and throwing her several feet away. The text ‘You Are Dead’ came up on the screen. My friend dropped the controller, and looked at me with a wide eyed expression. “What. The fuck. Was that?”

I laughed. “Dude, haven’t you played any Resident Evil game ever? That was Nemesis.”

“What the fuck is a Nemesis?”

I furrowed my brow and thought of a way to explain. “Well, basically the Umbrella Corp’s main goal was to create a biological super weapon. One that could coherently follow orders, as well as being an unstoppable bio-mass of ultimate destruction. Chris and Jill fought their first experiment in the first game, the Tyrant, and he was actually the basis for the improved model. Nemesis, who they named after the goddess of divine vengeance. They programmed him to go after the members of S.T.A.R.S., who survived the first game.”

“So...is there any way to kill this guy?”

I shook my head. “Well...technically yes, but you can’t even consider it until you’ve gotten a special weapon from beating the story. During the game , Jill blows him up with rockets, shoots him with magnums, throws him into a dissolving chemical, and unloads tons of lead into him and he just keeps coming. All of his moves do massive damage to you, and he even has some moves that can insta-kill you. Jill finally manages to take him down with three shots from a rail cannon, but until then he just keeps coming. He’s...unstoppable. To make it worse, he’s the only ‘intelligent’ enemy in the game. Later on he even has a rocket launcher that’s become a sort of staple for him, and he shoots down a helicopter that comes to rescue you. Throughout the entire game you just have a feeling of being stalked. He can show up anywhere, anytime, and just unload hell on you.”

I won’t lie, I let a bit of admiration leak into my voice. Nemesis is one of my favorite antagonists of all time, after all.

“Whoah.” My friend sounded awestruck as he leaned back into the sofa. “You sound like you really like this Nemesis guy.”

“Yeah, definitely. He’s one of the most terrifying enemies in gaming history.”

“I’ve got a pretty great idea, you know how that comic-con’s coming up in a few months? What if you went as him?”

I narrowed my eyes. “As if. Where in the hell would I get a costume like that in only a few months?”

~Celestia, present day~

Princess Celestia was not having a good day. Not only had Discord broken free from his thousand year imprisonment, but today was appeal day, meaning nobles from all across Equestria flocked to Canterlot, and talked. And talked. And talked.

And talked some more. So instead of being at her student’s side confronting an age-old enemy, she and her sister were stuck here.

Talking.

Wonderful.

“...So as you can see, if we were to rotate the crops ninety degrees to match the rising of the sun, they would get more overall sunlight. Or, instead of wasting the money and effort on completing such a huge task, you could simply change the direction the sun rises. What do you think, Princess?”

Celestia stood to her full height, adopting a regal pose. “There are rules forbidding me from doing that. Surely you know this.” After all, you were the one who made them… Celestia thought to herself. She stole a glance at her sister, who was faring no better than she was. Her eyelids fluttered as she stared dully at all of the nobles assembled. Celestia felt for her sister, she should be long asleep by now. However, any decision that affected Equestria must have the consent of both princesses. Celestia ensured this rule was made shortly after Luna’s return, she did not want Luna to feel any less important than herself.

“SSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!”

Everypony in the room froze. Celestia’s eyes widened. “T-that can’t be…” She rushed to the window to confirm her fears. Nemesis’ statue was gone. She immediately returned to the center of the room, looking a little worse for the wear. “Everypony, I’m afraid I have to cancel the appeal court early. My sister and I have a matter we must attend to.”

As everypony quickly filed out of the room, Celestia summoned a scroll and grasped a nearby quill with her magic, quickly jotting something down. Luna galloped up to her sister, a worried look on her face. “Sister? What is it? What’s wrong?”

Celestia looked up at Luna with a grim face, closing her eyes as she finally accepted what was happening.

“Nemesis has returned.”

Author's Notes:

So yeah. Apologies for the short intro chapter, that'll change with the next one. Hopefully. I might even edit this one still, dunno yet.

Comments are always appreciated! Tell me what you like/don't like and I will take ALL the suggestions!

Star of the Show

“It’s going this way!”

“Cut it off!”

Get out of my way you damn horses! I sprinted through the gardens with a fresh troop of guards recently alerted to my none-too-subtle return hot on my heels. A group of them clustered together in front of me, shields and spears raised to block my path.

Gonna have to do better than that. I moved my right shoulder to my front, charging straight at them.

“It’s not slowing down!”

“Hold steady!”

Their resolve lasted all of about five more seconds before I charged straight through their blockade, knocking several of them unconscious in the process. I took a sharp turn around a row of bushes, then jumped into them, concealing myself from view. I waited until I heard the sound of hooves pass by my hiding spot, then slowly fade away into the distance.

I climbed out of my hiding spot, glaring in the direction the guards went. “Staaaars…” I mumbled quietly before turning to leave.

...only to see a white unicorn mare covered in golden armor, standing directly in my way. She was pointing her spear at me, but it was shaking badly. She was terrified.

“S-stay where you are! Or I’ll be forced to hurt you!”

Cocking my head to the side slightly, I gripped the end of her spear, tearing it from her hold. She stumbled back and fell onto her flank, watching as I tightened my grip around the end of the spear, mangling the pointed end and rendering it useless. Saying nothing, I handed the weapon back to her. She stared at it for several moments before dropping the weapon and quickly jumping back to her hooves, her horn lighting up.

“I-I mean it! Don’t come any closer!”

Growling now, I slowly began to approach her.

ZAP!

I stumbled backwards, feeling something blast me in my midsection. I looked down, seeing a smoking charred spot on my overcoat. I blinked, looking back up at the unicorn mare.

She blinked as well, looking just as surprised as I was.

Shit I forgot… I thought to myself, my one good eye lighting up with red as I glared at the mare who was now somewhat more of a threat. I need my launcher, without it I don’t have any magic immunity. I stalked towards her now with renewed purpose.

The mare’s eyes grew wide as she fired another magical shot at me, but I sidestepped it and grabbed ahold of her by the throat, slamming her up against the exterior castle wall.

She writhed in my grip, but I only tightened it as I leaned forward to examine her. Purple eyes with a lock of golden mane sticking out from under her helmet.

She gritted her teeth, her horn lighting up again. I growled, tightening my free hand into a fist and hit her in the side of the face. Her eyes fluttered for a bit before closing, and the glow on her horn died down. I moved my hand down to her chest to ensure I could still hear a heartbeat. Still alive.

I dropped the mare onto the ground before walking in the opposite direction the guards had gone. Normally I wouldn’t make such an effort to avoid guard ponies, but without my launcher, magic could hurt me. Plus I didn’t really feel like staying here any longer than I needed to.

Now, if I were a dumbass princess of a kingdom full of talking ponies who only locked things away in metaphorical closets to deal with them later, where would I—

“NEMMY!”

JESUS CHRIST!

I spun around, prepared to knock whatever had scared me half to death into next week, only to have two yellow eyes with red irises take up my entire vision.

“Long time no see, Nemmy. Whatcha been up to? Read any good books lately? Gone on any adventurous quests? I for one ha- GAK!”

My hand closed around the draconequus’s neck, cutting off his air supply immediately.

Discord. I thought, my eye glowing red as I tightened my grip.

“N-now, Nemmy, I knew we were close, but you’re hugging me a bit too mu- HACK!”

I tightened my grip again, my thoughts seething with hatred.

Don’t give me that shit! You sold me out! After I promised to find a way to get you out, you stabbed me in the back, then left me to rot! I should kill you right now. “Stars!” I growled as I glared down at Discord.

Discord shook for several minutes before he suddenly turned blue, his eyes rolling back into his head as his body melted into liquid, which slipped through my fingers and turned into water around me. Which I then fell into.

“Ohahahah! That trick never gets old!”

I lifted my drenched self out of the small pool of water, growling.

“Now, Nemmy, don’t be a spoil sport. After all, if you were to kill me, how could I give you this?” He reached into his pocket, producing a long, sleek, black rocket launcher with the ‘Umbrella’ logo embedded on its side.

My eye widened. How did you…?

“Ohhh, a spirit of chaos has his ways, yes? Consider it an apology gift! Catch!” He tossed the launcher towards me, which I caught on its handle.

Almost immediately, it felt like a massive weight lifted from my shoulders. I felt a wave of relief wash over me as the small wound from earlier washed away.

...This doesn’t change what you did, but it’s a start.

“I’ll take that as a ‘Thank you you magnificent draconques! I love you!’”

That’s laying it on a bit thick.

“Ooooh, but everyone loves me! Just take a look at Ponyville!” Just then, a beeping sound came from Discord. He lifted his wrist to his face, looking at what seemed to be a watch. Then the watch face opened and a pie fired from it, smacking him in the face. “Oh yes! Ponyville! I almost forgot!” He twirled, tossing some of what remained of the pie from him and onto me. “Toodles, Nemmy! It’s been great catching up with you again, I’ll be sure to let the Princesses know you said ‘hi!’” And with a puff of confetti, the spirit of chaos was gone.

I wiped the remnants of pie off of me and looked down at my rocket launcher, remembering how I had gotten it..

~Nemesis, 1199 years ago~

“This is really heavy.” I said to my friend James, who was at the wheel as we drove to Comic Con. I had to hunch over in the passenger’s seat, my entire frame hardly even fit into the car. It had taken some time but with a few calls to some questionable people we had gotten everything we needed. James and I had slaved over this costume for the past few months, and now it was complete.

I looked like the badass himself. The only thing we were missing was the rocket launcher, which we didn’t have time to make. James decided to cut our losses and we decided this was good enough.

“Relax dude, we’re almost there.”

“Good. At this rate I think I might sweat out all of my bodily fluids before I even set foot outside of the car.”

The car finally came to a stop, and after I nearly tripped over my own feet actually climbing out of the car it was only a short walk to the Con itself.

We stopped a few times to talk to a few people, who complimented me on how awesome my costume was. I even stopped to take a few pictures with others.

It wasn’t long before we reached the shopping section. I wanted to look at what they had so James and I cut into one of the less-populated shops. A lot of the stuff in here looked like something you might find hanging on a shaman’s wall or something, tribal and indian-like.

“No way...Nick, come check this out.”

I made my way over to the counter where I saw, of all things, a model rocket launcher with the ‘Umbrella’ insignia on the side. I stared at it, unable to take my eyes off of it.

“We need to get that.” I said, my voice sounded foreign through the voice modifier I’d included in my outfit.

“Hell, for forty bucks? It’s practically a steal!”

The clerk suddenly made himself known, a decrepit looking old man with an expression that I couldn’t quite pin down. “For a costume like that, Nemesis?” He grinned at me. “Go ahead. It’s yours.”

“You’re fuckin’ kidding me right?” I had already grabbed it by the time I saw him shake his head. However, as I pulled it to my side, I felt something strange. I became dizzy, and everything in the room went double.

“It fits you perfectly.” I heard the clerk say with a devious smirk.

“Nick?”

Jame’s voice sounded far away, and I could only see the old man’s twisted smile before I fell backwards. Only, the ground didn’t greet me...

------------------------------------------------

It felt like a long time before I woke up again. When I eventually did, I didn’t feel the soft fabric of a hospital bed, or even the hard floor. I felt grass.

Ugh...what the fuck? I felt like I had put on about a thousand more pounds. I rose to a sitting position and tried opening my eyes, finding that I could only open one. I almost shut it immediately from the glare of the sun, but I forced myself to wake up.

I slowly began to rise to my feet, falling back down immediately from an immense weight on my right shoulder. Looking over, I saw I still had the rocket launcher gripped firmly in my hand, and I was still in my Nemesis costume.

You’d think someone would’ve gotten me out of this thing… I thought to myself as I finally managed to stand. Why did the launcher feel so much heavier? I put a hand to my face to feel for the edge of the helmet, but I felt only flesh. What…?

It took me a moment to process, but I realized I could actually feel my hand. As if the helmet was my actual skin.

I heard a gasp behind me, and turned. What I saw, was a pony with a basket of apples sitting at his hooves. He looked terrified.

“What the fuck? A pony?” Is what I wanted to say, but what came instead was “STAAARS!” The pony gave a very un-pony like shriek before running off.

Okay, either I was seriously tripping on some drugs someone slipped me, or I was in some seriously deep shit.

~Present Day, Twilight Sparkle~

“I’ll tell you what we’ve learned, Discord! We’ve learned that friendship isn’t always easy, but there’s no doubt it’s worth fighting for!”

“Ugh! Gag! Fine, go ahead, use your little elements to ‘friend’ me!” Discord vanished in a flash, reappearing on his throne at the top of the hill. “Just make it quick, I’m missing some excellent chaos here!”

“Alright, ladies!” Twilight’s friends gathered around her, glaring at the spirit of chaos. “Let’s show him what friendship can do!”

“Waitwaitwaitwait!” The pleas came from a certain pink mare, who was holding her mouth open underneath a cotton candy cloud that was dropping its chocolate contents onto her. She gave a happy sigh before joining her friends with a growl, staring down Discord as well.

Discord gave out a yawn as Twilight closed her eyes, focusing on her bonds with her friends. Slowly, she felt the magic build up in her body, and she could feel her friends reacting to it too. Though her eyes were closed, she could hear Discord ask, “Hm? What’s this?”

When Twilight opened her eyes again, everything was glowing. The power reached a pinnacle, and then there was a bright flash, a trail of rainbow shooting from her and her friends towards Discord.

“Nooooooooo!!!!” Discord shouted, unable to do much else as his body turned to stone once more. There was another bright flash, and all the changes Discord had made to Ponyville were washed away in an instant. Discord’s statue fell to the ground with a distinct ‘thud.’

Twilight and her friend were about to burst into cheers when two bright flashes came from Discord’s side. Standing there, were Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.

Twilight immediately bowed, as did Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rarity. Princess Celestia smiled at them and bid them to rise with her hoof.

“Well done, my student, you succeeded against Discord, just as I knew you would.” Luna trotted up next to her.

“Alas, tis not the time for celebration. While you were dueling with Discord, another enemy has arisen.”

Twilight frowned. “Another one? Is he just as bad as Discord?”

“Pft, I’m not worried!” Rainbow Dash spoke up, jabbing at the air with her hooves. “We’ll just give ‘em the one-two, zap him with some harmony magic, and that’ll be that!”

“I don’t think this enemy can be simply ‘zapped’ away, my friends. He is...peculiar.”

“How so, princess?” Rarity cocked her head as she asked.

Celestia bowed her head. “You see… it all started one thousand years ago…”

~Nemesis, Present Day~

I sailed through the air with ease, landing in a large open square-like area with a crash, bending my knees with the impact.

The cool thing about super-strength is that you can get around VERY easily, faster than almost any other form of land transport. I was close to the exterior of Canterlot now, once I made it to the Everfree I could see how far the problem with the virus had spread since Celestia locked me away. I couldn’t imagine anything good, but I find in situations like this it’s best to remain optimistic.

I was about to jump again when, speak of the devil, I heard a very familiar and very unwelcome voice.

“Nemesis!” I stopped, turning to face Sun-butt. She wasn’t alone, flanking her left was Luna, or as I liked to call her Moony Mare, and on her right were six other ponies I didn’t recognize, all six of them wearing necklaces of some kind.

“Staaaaars…” I hissed.It’s been a long time, bitch. I growled, glaring at Celestia. Time really hasn’t been kind to you. You really let yourself go. She blinked before looking back at herself. She shook her head and glared at me once more.

“If you think we’ll just let you leave, then you’d best rethink your course of action. I can’t allow you to infect the land with your presence as you did in the past.”

Harsh. Coming from the Princess who started the whole thing.

“Lies! Blasphemous lies straight from Tartarus’ self!” Luna spoke up suddenly, and I directed my gaze to her.

And Luna. How was your imprisonment on the moon? Is it made of cheese after all?

“Silence monster! We will end your reign of terror here!”

“Girls, quickly, the elements, before he tries to run!”

“You got it, Princess!” The purple mare spoke up, closing her eyes as they began to glow.

Elements…? That rang a distant memory. I recalled something like that associated with Luna’s imprisonment.

Slowly, rainbows began to connect the six friends as a rainbow-colored light covered them.

Oh HELL no. If there was one thing I learned since I came to Equestria, it was that you do not fuck with rainbows. I remembered where I had heard of the elements before, Celestia and Luna used them to imprison me, and Celestia had used them on her sister as well. So, rather than dealing with that, I idly raised my rocket launcher to point at the ground in front of them.

“What’s…?”

Celestia’s eyes widened. “GIRLS! MOVE!”

Too late. I pulled the trigger, and I heard a sound like a jet as a rocket erupted from the end of my launcher, striking the ground a good distance in front of the group.

KABOOOM!!!

Flames launched high into the air, the force from the explosion blowing the tail of my overcoat behind me, lighting the entire area in an orange glow. I waited, until I felt debris raining down around me, smoke and flame concealing the ponies I was aiming to distract. I stepped through the smoke to examine the situation.

Luna laid off to the side, her back to me but I could tell she was breathing. The other six as well, laid scattered around the area. Bruised, and maybe some singed fur, but they were breathing. Celestia laid off to the side as well, her eyes closed.

Rocket beats rainbow. I grinned to myself before turning to walk away.

The sound of shifting stone made me pause, then I heard the telltale ringing of magic charging up before I spun around, raising my launcher in front of myself as a beam from Sun-butt’s horn hit it dead on, reflecting it off into a nearby street sign. The foundation melted from the sheer power behind the attack, and it fell over. I growled.

“STAAAAAAARSSSS!” I yelled, before rushing towards Celestia. She stumbled backwards, firing off more magic from her horn. I swatted each attack aside with my launcher before several tendrils disengaged from my body, wrapping around Celestia’s front hooves. She faltered and fell, and I slowed my pace to a walk as I dragged her towards me.

She dug her hooves into the ground to resist, but I simply applied more tendrils to her back hooves, her neck, and I wrapped one around her horn for good measure. I pulled her up to me so we were face to face. Then I smirked.

I am going to say this only once. Back off. One thousand years of imprisonment is a long time to think, and I’m willing to come to a compromise. You leave me alone, and I’ll return the favor.

She spat in my face.

My eye twitched slightly before I growled. Have it your way then, Princess… my grip on her tightened before I turned, throwing her to the ground.

I watched to make sure she was still breathing. As angry as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to kill them.

I looked around at the destruction I had wrought. A large crater was now in the center of the square, and ponies all around were cowering in fear of me. I merely growled before turning and walking away, leaving behind a city that surely had a lot of questions for their princesses...

Author's Notes:

See? Longer! Just as I promised.

Also, so there's no confusion, Discord, Celestia, and Luna are the only ones who can 'hear' Nemesis' thoughts. Unless he has his launcher, everyone else only hears 'staaaaarrrrs'. When he has his launcher, he can sort of broadcast his thoughts to everyone in his immediate vicinity.

Anyways, as always pleaaaase comment and let me know how I can improve! It's really appreciated.

Thanks for the read!

Stars and Stripes

Private Golden Shield awoke from her bed with a scream, clutching her head in her hooves. She was drenched in sweat, her coat and mane matted against her messily.

“Private! Are you alright?”

Golden Shield was yanked out of her panicked mindset by her fellow guards, who had rushed in her chambers to see if she was alright. She looked around her room wildly, uttering phrases like “Who…? What…?” before she finally remembered where she was. Canterlot, the guard barracks. They had been called to remain on watch ever since that...thing had escaped. Increased hours led to some of the guard staying overnight in the barracks, so that they could rise for their early shifts.

“I-I’m fine…” Golden Sheild said, climbing out of bed rather clumsily. For the past few nights, sleep had been hell for her. She’d been suffering nightmares and breaking out into fevered sweats. It had started when the one referred to as ‘Nemesis’ had knocked her unconscious. The guard medic had examined her, but she had no physical injuries as far as she could tell, and the ambient magic that unicorns held within themselves made them highly resistant to illness, so what was wrong?

She continued her uneven trek over to her comrades, who clustered around her.

“You don’t look fine…” her captain said, looking at the white private with some uncertainty. “You should get back to bed. I’ll take your shift.”

“Captain...I’m f-” Golden Shield never finished her sentence, as her body gave out on her just then, and she slipped into unconsciousness.

~Present Day, Twilight Sparkle~

“...what was that doohickey he had? Ah’ve never seen anything do sumthin’ that destructive, even magic!”

“It looked like a really mean version of my party cannon!”

“Owwww Pinkie...my ears still hurt…”

“Oops! Sorry!”

Twilight awoke to the sound of bickering, her eyes fluttering open as the haze left her sight, and the events from before the blackness of sleep took her rushed back into her mind. She was vaguely aware of something soft wrapped around her head and ears, though she could still hear the conversation going on around her plain as day.

“Maybe if we’ll leave him alone, he’ll go away…”

“But we CAN’T leave him alone! You heard the Princess, if he does what he wants, Equestria will be destroyed!”

“I agree with Rainbow Dash. His presence here simply can’t be tolerated! I mean, did you see what he was wearing?! It’s a crime to all things fashion!”


“Oh, Rarity,” Twilight heard something between a giggle and a snort. “You always make the funniest jokes!”

“Um...girls? I think Twilight is waking up…”

At this, Twilight gave a slight groan. the conversation in the room had ceased, and Twilight could see her friends watching her. They were all in similar states, bandaged, bruised, though if they were up and talking they were in better condition than her. With another groan, she tried to climb out of bed.

“Now take it easy sugarcube, Nemesis really put a number on ya.” Applejack trotted up to her friend with a worried expression on her face.

Rainbow Dash made a gesture with her hoof. “Pfft! As if! This is only a scratch, once I’m outta here I’m gonna find that ugly jerk and make him pay!” She made several jabs with her hoof before flying around the room, showing off several of her ‘signature’ moves before Applejack caught her tail in her mouth, bringing her to a stop.

“Hold up there now sugarcube! We can’t just rush in without a plan! You saw what he did to us when we tried to use the Elements of Harmony on him, what’s to stop him from doing that again?”

“Pft! That old trick won’t work a second time! I have some new moves up my sleeve-”

“And what if he does too? That’s what ah’m saying, we know nothin’ about this character other than that he’s a big’un who totes around some kind of a doohickey that causes explosions! With that kinda’ magic, who says he can’t do more?”

“Applejack’s right.” Twilight said. She’d managed to get out of bed with Fluttershy’s help, and was now walking towards the center of their group. “As much as I hate the idea of him roaming Equestria, we need a plan. Where are the Princesses?”

“They went back to the castle.” Rarity spoke up, looking out the window towards Canterlot castle. “They told us to come and meet them when we were all awake.”
Twilight’s eye twitched. “...How long was I out?”

This drew several nervous laughs from her friends.

“Oh, not long…” Rainbow said, rubbing the back of her head with her hoof.

“Yeah, not long at all! Kinda like um…”

“Four days!” Pinkie said, a happy smile on her face as she shouted out what everypony else was afraid to say.

“...FOUR DAYS?!” Twilight shouted suddenly, becoming a blur as she rushed around the room. “Oh nononononono! This is not good! Can you imagine all the damage he’s done by now? Not even that- can you imagine all the ponies who have probably come to the library looking to order a book, and HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO?! Or how many tests I’ve failed because I’VE BEEN UNCONSCIOUS?! Or all of the SCHEDULING TIME THAT I’VE MISSED?! Of all the worst things that could happen, this is The. Worst. Possible. Thing!!!”

“Hey!” Rarity spoke up suddenly, but was interrupted by Pinkie Pie.

"Ah, don't sweat it Twilight! Thanks to the plot mechanics, it doesn't really matter if it's been four days or one! Now that you're awake, the story can continue!" The pink mare bounced up and down, tittering in happiness. "Oooh, shiny!" She jumped over to another bed, touching the reflection of the sun that shown upon the bed frame.

Everypony in the room looked at Pinkie Pie for a second, before Applejack rolled her eyes and trotted towards Twilight again. “Though I don’t really understand it, Pinkie’s right. Ya shouldn’t stress out about it now, we gotta go meet the princesses first.”

Twilight looked around at her friends, then took a deep breath. “You’re right. We should go, we don’t want to keep them waiting.”

And with that, the six friends made their way towards Canterlot castle.

~Nemesis, Present Day~

I was pissed.

Okay, scratch that, I was furious.

I swatted a stray tree branch out of my way as I stomped through the shrubbery, growling under my breath.

Funny thing about one thousand years? Shit changes. A lot. I must’ve come across three different towns I’d never seen before until I heard a group of merchants talking about the forest they’d just passed through. I followed the path for a day, managing to stay out of sight until I reached my destination. The Everfree forest.

After marveling at the idiocy of ponies building a small village named ‘Ponyville’ right next to the forest that their kind feared so much, I slipped into the greenery and began my search. Unfortunately, due to the natural chaotic magic of the Everfree, absolutely nothing was as I remembered it.

I punched a nearby tree out of frustration, causing it to shake and topple under my strength. At least give me some kind of point of reference! Even the god damned castle would be nice to see at this point!

I heard a twig snap.

My reaction was immediate. I turned, aiming my rocket launcher at the source of the disturbance. Darkness shrouded the area, but I knew nothing in here would attack me. Even predators knew better than to flock to their own deaths.

Whoever’s there, you might as well come out! I know you’re there! Several minutes passed. I was tightening my grip on the trigger before finally, a distinctly equine-like form emerged from the shadows. At first, I assumed she was a pony, but the designs on her coat hinted at something else.

“Have no fear, for there are no enemies here.” Her accent hinted at something of foreign origin.

If anyone should be showing fear, it is most certainly not me. Who are you and what are you doing here? The last time I was around, no one, and I mean NO ONE, lived in the Everfree. Having run into something else alive here aside from some pony-eating monstrosity of myth was suspicious to say the least.

The zebra bowed her head. “Zecora is what I am called. I am hesitant to state my intentions, lest I be skinned bald.”

I looked her over carefully before lowering my weapon. So long as you mean no harm to me, I mean no harm to you.

She smiled. “This is good my large friend. For some creatures here, you may not wish to offend.”

I’m aware. I said with a slight grin.

“Now, to answer your second question, I am a potion maker in these parts. I make potions for everything, from making one grow extra eyes, to indigestion.” She said the last part with a slight chuckle.

I blinked. A zebra that lives in the forest and made potions? It made sense I suppose, especially considering where zebras came from in my old world.

Remembering my old home made some other memories stir themselves as well…

~Nemesis, 1175 years ago~

Let me get this straight, I asked, staring at Discord with an incredulous expression. You can bring this here? I pointed at the object I had drawn. A minigun, specifically Nemesis’ minigun from the game.

“Oh Nemmy, do you doubt my trans-dimensional capabilities? Honestly, it’s as easy as swatting a fly!” As if on cue, a fly flew into one of his ears, appearing to fly behind his eyeballs and then exited the other.

I blinked again, before grinning. Well what are you waiting for?! Make it happen!

~Nemesis, Present Day~

You seem like you know this place pretty well. I don’t suppose you’d recall seeing a metal door built into the ground anywhere around here would you?

The zebra rubbed her chin with a hoof. “If my memory serves me right, I do believe I may have the answer to your plight. Come, follow me, and I shall take you to your destination, deep within the Everfree.”

I nodded and followed her. In hindsight, I probably could have been a little more cautious, but I was simply eager to get my hand son all my old toys again.

It was a short trek through the Everfree later that we came upon a small hut decorated with trinkets and masks that looked like they might be from India. They vaguely reminded me of the old man’s shop from Comic Con.

Looking around here, I can feel like I’m starting to remember… I took a few steps forward, retracing my steps with a memory that hadn’t been touched in nearly a thousand years.

Clunk!

A decisively metal sound came from the ground in front of me, about where my foot had struck. I bent down, brushing aside some dirt and forest debris that had accumulated over the years. There it was. Rusted, and probably didn’t open very well anymore, but it was still there.

“Alas, all my efforts to open it have been in vain. I fear we may never see what’s inside that you seek to recl-” She was cut off as a heavy metal screeching sound pierced the air, causing her to fold her ears back against her head. A mangled, unusable metal door frame landed next to her.

With a grunt, I jumped down into the hole I made, bending my knees as I landed. The familiar and metallic clang! that sounded made me suffer a bit of nostalgia. However, what met my eyes next ignited my fury once more.

Gone. Everything was gone. Drawers were pulled out, tables wiped clean, walls devoid of any decoration, all of my weaponry and planning that I had spent years making was gone.

Those sons of bitches… an inhuman growl ripped from my throat. I heard the repetitive sound of hooves on metal before a smaller metallic noise landed next to me.

“Oh my, I do hope this wasn’t your home. Everything has been wiped clean, leaving only chrome.”

It might as well have been… I sighed, sounding defeated as I ran a hand over my bald head. So what do I do now…?

Zecora examined the room for a bit, running her hoof across the dusty walls and tables before turning towards me. “Excuse me if I am being rude, but what serves to put you in such a sour mood?”

Let’s just say that certain ponies shouldn’t mess with what they can’t hope to control. I turned my back to her, gripping my launcher a little more tightly. Thanks for your help. I’m in your debt Zecora, if you ever need my help, simply shout for it, and I’ll be here as quickly as I can.

“Wait! Surely I can at least have the name of one who acts so irate?”

I hesitated before glancing behind me. My name is Nemesis. Then I leapt through the exit, sailing into the air once more.

~?????? Present Day~

A brown unicorn stallion overlooked the Everfree, a pair of binoculars in his magical grip. He waited, until he saw what he was looking for. A hulking bipedal figure in a black overcoat, leaping through the Everfree. He lowered his binoculars, his horn lighting up brighter before it flashed, and he spoke with a deep voice.

“He’s back. Release the B.O.W.s.”

Author's Notes:

Yeah, I'm aware that I can't write Zecora for shit.

Anyways, at the time of writing this:

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229 likes

"Ya'll wouldn't know a good story if it came up and bit ya!"

Sorry this one took so long. Real life sucks, y'know?

I hate this chapter. I apologize for its terrible-ness.

If you choose to stick around though, I think you'll rather like the next chapter.

Anyways, as always let me know what you like, what you didn't like, etc. I CAN ALWAYS USE TIPS TO IMPROVE

Thanks :3

Shadow of the Pyramid

Editor’s Note: Hey everyone, this is SCP Pinkamena. Now, before you go saying that I hijacked this guys account, 1) no I didn’t and 2) he wanted some help with this, so stop your pussyfooting. Anyways, I would like to thank -TGM- for this idea and I would like to mention that my story will be sadly, on hiatus. I’m still willing to do collabs, but I wont be working on me story for sometime. I apologize for interrupting your story reading, so please continue on to the story below.








I landed on the ground with a crash, leaving a crater on the ground around me. I stood up and made my way toward the deeper part of the forest. Without my weapons and all the info I had stored in my bunker, I felt rather clueless as to what to do next. Given maybe the info would have been outdated, but some info was better than none at all.

And my weapons, I really didn’t want to think what could be done with those if they somehow managed to get their hooves on them.

Letting out a low growl I kicked a nearby chunk of stone, causing it to shoot off like a rocket and smash through a nearby cobblestone wall. It was then that I realized I had reached the outskirts of the castle of the pony sisters.

I had no idea where to go, and what better way to gather information than a library? From my knowledge, given it was over ten centuries old, sun-butt and moony mare had the largest library this side of Equestria in their castle, and hopefully that old library would have a few books that I could sneak a peek at.

The path was fairly straightforward, but a heavy mist seepd into the area from the forest. Before long, I realized that I had wandered off the path.

Fucking Everfree and its weird weather… I turned to try to see if I could find the path again, but a peculiar sound caught my attention.

There are lots of sounds in the Everfree, and normally I wouldn’t pay any attention to them, but I was fairly certain that the sound of something heavy and made of metal being dragged across cobblestone wasn’t a common sound around here.

I gripped my launcher tighter and turned around. I couldn’t see anything; the mist had somehow, impossibly, gotten even more thick. The sound continued though; it sounded as if whatever it was was right beyond my range of sight. Needless to say, I was unsettled.

Is someone there? I tried calling out to whatever it was, and for a moment, the sound stopped.

I glared into the mist, awaiting a response. What I got instead was the sound once more, only now it was getting louder, as if whatever it was was walking straight towards me.

I took a few steps back, waiting for whatever it was to emerge from the mist. Be it a predator or some kind of monster, I was not going to sit down and die, and this fucking thing was not going to scare me.

The sound stopped.

I blinked once, looking to my left and to my right. Lots of mist, but no sign of anyone. I let out a low growl and turned around, prepared to put some distance between myself and this freaky place. I stumbled back immediately, there was a figure standing directly behind me.

I let out a growl, one that died in my throat as I got a good look at the thing’s build.

It was human? It had hands, feet, arms, and legs, but there was no way it could be human though. Sitting atop its neck about where its head should have been, was a gigantic metal pyramid-like shape. He was slightly shorter than me, but the pyramid came to eye-level with me, giving me the impression that he was staring me down. Behind him, he dragged a massive sword-like weapon. Noticing the trail marks left in the cobblestone behind it, I assumed that was the weapon that I’d heard. His chest was bare, but his legs were covered by a long, bloody cloth. Taking a second look, it didn’t look like cloth. It was human skin.

Jesus! I exclaimed my surprise at him suddenly being there. He said nothing, simply continued to ‘stare’ me down. I wondered if he could understand me, aside from the gigantic metal pyramid for a head, he seemed human. Can you...understand me? I ventured.

The figure cocked his ‘head’ to the side slightly, the metal blade on the ground behind him making another ear-piercing screech as it shifted. I didn’t know what to make of the gesture, but I did notice an eerie glow emanating from his hand. It seemed to be coming from a ring he was wearing. The figure tightened his grip on his blade suddenly, leaning into a swing.

Hey! I barely had time to raise my launcher before the massive blade struck it, creating sparks between the two of us. The strength behind the blow surprised me, it even caused me to stumble back a bit. What the fuck man?! I just asked if you could understand me!

"YoU HAvE SinNEd AgaINst ME. FeEL mY WRaTH!”

I let a snarl of rage tear itself from my throat, leaning back out of range of another blade swing as I did. I felt the wind from the force of the slice. This son of a bitch was trying to kill me! You’re really fucking asking for it…

“STAAAARS!” I tried to hold up my weapon to block another swipe, but there was much more power behind this one. It broke through my hold, slicing me clean across the chest and causing me to wince.
Before I could react, he brought his sword around and made another slash, directly atop the other one.

A perfect X.

He brought his weapon back and made ready to impale me straight through the X, but I’d recovered by then. I brought up my launcher just in time, smashing into the side of his weapon and causing him to stumble. I kicked out with my foot, nailing him directly in the chest. I could’ve sworn I heard a very satisfying ‘crunch’ as I did it too. But what the hell did I know? This motherfucker might’ve not even had any bones.

Regardless, he got some airtime, flying a few feet away from me before landing again, sliding a few feet backwards.

That’s enough shit from you… I snarled, raising my launcher and pointing it directly at him.

The bastard moved fast for someone almost as big as me, not to mention the metal atop his head that looked like it weighed a ton. He sat up, grabbing his weapon again and managing to stand up again before I fired.

I watched the area explode into flame. Big bastard with a metal head or not, no one survives a direct hit from a rocket launcher. I lingered for a moment more before turning to leave.

A sound stopped me. It was a whistling sound, like something sharp cutting through the air. I turned just in time to see pyramid-head’s knife, sailing straight for me.

I didn’t have time to react; the bastard caught me in the shoulder, cutting some of my overcoat off and leaving a bright red gash. Before I could stand up again, I was knocked on the side of the head with the flat of his blade, sending myself reeling before the blade came up from the bottom of my vision, cutting directly across my stomach and causing my overcoat to fall off. My bare skin was not pretty. It looked decaying and rotten, muscle showing out from both of my shoulders and tentacles tied together all around my body now hanging loose.

I slumped against a nearby tree, my breathing growing ragged.

Pyramid Head raised his knife, preparing for what I assumed was the final strike.

But the strike didn’t come.

My tentacles sprang to life, piercing the bastard straight through his torso and suspending him out over the ground a few feet away. He grunted in surprise. Hell, I’d be surprised too if I was in his situation.

But I wasn’t surprised.

Instead of pain from my new wounds, I felt anger. Instead of fatigue, I felt power. I felt renewed. I felt pissed.

Okay… I slowly stood to my feet, beginning to shake. Now...NOW YOU’VE PISSED ME OFF! “STAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRSSSSS!!!!” I pulled him in from his suspended position, only to smash my fist straight into his gut, sending him back out into the clearing again.

Kill him! Make him pay, make him suffer! Make him writhe! KILL HIM!

I jumped from my standing position, landing near him with a crash, leaving a crater where I landed. He’d managed to stand up, but a tentacle shot from my hand, wrapping around his neck. With a ferocious snarl, I twirled, sending him crashing through a tree trunk. He went still in my grip, before suddenly springing to life again and grabbing where my tentacles had him held. I responded by crashing him through another tree. he appeared to go still once more, before springing to life and grabbing my tentacles again. I turned my body, turning and smashing him into the ground. He slid a few feet, coming to a stop. Somewhere along the line, he must’ve dropped his weapon, as it sailed through the air and pierced itself into the ground near him.

I said nothing, only stomping towards him with bloodlust reflected in my eyes. The very ground seemed to shake with each step I took. I reached out, grabbing onto the handle of his blade and hoisted it into the air, letting it rest on my shoulders behind my head as I stalked towards him.

Kill him... Make him pay... Slaughter him...

As if on cue, a tree that I had smashed pyramid head through fell straight on top of him, pinning him to the ground. I stood over him, my eye glowing a very bloody red as I raised his sword, blood dripping onto the ground around me from my wounds. My tentacles whipping the air around me as I relished in my victory…

"Who are you to think you can wield a weapon of madness?"

Everything stopped.

Suddenly, an ominous music started to build around me. The trees weren’t trees, they were monsters. Terrifying monsters seeking to tear the flesh from my bones, and slaughter all that I’d sought to protect and cherish. Screams began to sound off one after the other, echoing into the distance in a symphony of anguish.

Fear... That’s what I felt...

SHUT UP! I dropped the weapon, turning and smashing my fist into the surrounding monsters. It didn’t help, the screaming only got louder.

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UUUUPPP!!!!! I couldn't take it anymore. The screaming tore at my mind, I couldn't hear anything else. I roared and smashed through anything within my field of sight. The monsters made a horrible sound, like laughter, at my confusion. The screams only grew more louder, more painful, more familiar. They warped into ones I knew, people I cared about before all of this. All of them screaming in agony. A thousand souls burning for eternity, and it was my fault. All of it was my fault. Yet, there was one I couldn't recognize at first. Daring to glance up, I saw a figure that looked… like me…

Holy fuck…

I saw my own reflection staring back, and… God… My auburn hair, my blue and grey shirt, the same blue jeans… Every detail, down to the fingernail. I was staring at my own soul, and it was screaming the loudest.

“What have you learned today, young one?”

I began to shake my head, my hands covering my ears as I fell to my knees. Slowly the screams began to die, but it didn't help, the damage was done. I didn't move for several minutes, and when I finally did look up, I saw that creature, Pyramid Head, standing over top of me with his blade in his grip once more. It was raised in the air, prepared to swing down and silence me forever. I could barely move. I could hardly breathe. All I could do was sit and wait for my death…

A sudden grunt and the sound of something impacting the earth was what I heard next. I looked up from my kneeling position. Pyramid Head was laying several feet away, but something was on top of him. It looked almost like a dog, except it was made of sticks and wood, and through the openings in its hide leaked an eerie red light.

Several similar figures emerged from behind the trees, all with similar red glows leaking from their insides, all snarling and looking thirsty for blood.

...well shit.

They leaped. I’m not sure where I found the strength, but I stood. One of my tentacles shot forward, impaling the first one straight through its mouth and out its back end. It spasmed and went still, the red light within it going dark.

Well at least we know they can d-

The red light returned, brighter than before. The wooden dog snarled and snapped at me. I snarled back and turned, tossing it into a nearby tree where it shattered from the impact.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the glint of Pyramid Head’s sword as it pierced through the dog on top of him, then he tossed it to the side and stood up, looking at the new incoming threat.

I merely offered him a glance before the next wave was on us. I picked up my launcher from the ground, using it like a bludgeon to smash apart any dogs that jumped for me. Pyramid Head made similar progress, slicing and smashing through any of the dogs that made a leap at him.

I felt something leap onto my back, then fangs dig into my flesh. It didn’t hurt too badly, but it was annoying. I willed some tentacles to erupt from my back, impaling the dog that had latched itself there. It still writhed, and I tossed it away to smash into the ground once more.

I noticed then, the pieces of the dogs that we had already killed were rebuilding themselves at an alarmingly fast rate. When they reformed, the red light within them grew brighter, blood seeping from their maws as they came at us again.

They’re just rebuilding themselves! I called out to Pyramid Head, smashing through another three. We may have been enemies but we were getting outnumbered, and they were certainly no friends of his or mine.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as the old saying goes.

I felt two more dig into me. I snarled, turning and smashing one off of me and grabbing the other one, crushing it in my grip. The pieces that scattered around me already began to rebuild themselves. If there was only some way to get rid of the pieces all at once…

A lightbulb turned on in my head, and I looked over at Pyramid Head. When they get destroyed, they leave behind pieces of themselves, that’s what they use to rebuild! Try to keep the pieces all in one place, I have an idea!

I could’ve sworn there were more dogs than before. Three of them leaped onto me now, fangs and claws digging to find purchase against my flesh. I threw them off shattering them against the ground and causing the pieces to fall between Pyramid Head and I. he was doing something similar, cutting the wolves apart so their pieces landed between us. When I was fairly certain that they were all there, and none were reformed, I raised my launcher and pointed it towards the pile.

You may want to cover your ears...if you have any.

KA-BOOM!

A mountain of flame erupted where the pieces of the dogs once were, leaving behind nothing but ash and burning twigs, which began to rain down around us.

I stared at the fire for a moment more before turning to face Pyramid Head. Now…

The pieces of the dogs around us began to tremble. I stopped mid-sentence, looking around as all the pieces began to come together in the center once more.

Very slowly, they began to build. First was a gigantic paw, then a gigantic leg, followed by three others like it. Then the body began to build, the red light lighting up in the center of the gargantuan beast that towered over both of us. When it was finished, before us stood a massive wooden dog. Then it opened its blood-red eyes, and bared its fangs.

...well shit. I said for the second time that day.
It roared, nearly blowing both of us off of our feet. Then it raised its paw and brought it down on me.

I moved out of the way, the paw smashing against the ground with a loud crash.

It snarled and chased after me, then leaned down to dig its fangs into me.

I reached out, catching both the top and the bottom of its muzzle with my hands. It pushed forward, and I slid back a few feet, but I held fast.

It seemed surprised that I was able to stop it, then I felt it lean heavily to one side. I glanced at the back of it, Pyramid Head had sliced one of its paws off cleanly. I growled, twisting its head with all of my strength and throwing it onto its side.

Its paw quickly reformed and it snarled, but not before Pyramid Head raised his blade and impaled through its underbelly. The monster howled in pain. Pyramid Head moved his blade around, causing the beast more pain before it brought its paw back and smacked him, sending him back a few feet.

I think I knew what he was getting at though, the red glow emanated from the thing’s middle, but its underbelly was thin. If we wanted to take it down, that was our best shot.

The beast turned and stalked towards the prone form of Pyramid Head now, but I ran at it from behind, grabbing its rear leg and pulling back, causing it to fall.

It snarled and kicked backwards, slicing into my bare flesh. I was almost sent flying, but I wrapped a tentacle around its leg. It grew taut as I was thrown from it, then pulled me back twice as fast, and I used the momentum to smash into the monster’s back as hard as I could.

It howled in agony, at least until Pyramid Head sliced its head clean off.

Together, the two of us cut through the beast from the front and the rear. When we reached the middle of it, tentacles left my body and impaled into its ‘heart’. Pyramid head impaled it with his sword. There was a wail of agony and then everything went white.

I was thrown several feet back, but managed to land on my feet. Pyramid Head landed next to me, and I couldn't help it. I felt just a little bad ass.

I looked at the area where the gigantic dog had once been, a red stain on the ground being all that remained of it. I let out a sigh and turned to Pyramid Head.

Listen, we got off on the wrong foot. Thanks for- He was gone. The mist in the area slowly began to fade away, and in the distance I could have sworn I heard the sound of a distant siren beginning to fade away as well.

I stood, staring at the empty spot he once was. I turned and walked towards the area we had fought, the tentacles that I’d let free wrapped around my body once more as I slipped my overcoat back on, feeling my lust for blood dying back down as I did.

I let out a sigh and looked out into the forest. See you another time maybe, Pyramid Head. And with that, I turned and walked into the depths of the forest once more.

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Nearby a red-colored wolf watched the fall of its comrades. Not that it cared, its mind was too far gone to feel anything besides hunger. It quickly scanned the area, seeing no appeal in the large man that had struck his pack down, that was too hard of a meal.

But what he did smell was a particularly appetizing scent coming from the north. He didn’t have much of a memory, but the scent made him think of ponies.

And he’d always wanted to know what a pony tasted like.

So he went to find out.

Author's Notes:

Nemesis' first mutation. Ain't he purty? Only takes on this form when he loses his power limiter/overcoat, his strength and speed increase and he uses his tentacles much more often.

Now then...

If you like my writing style, check out The Sound of Thunder. massive collab I'm working on with a group of friends.

If you're all like 'fuck you I'm just here for Nemesis' and you're a fan of RE in Equestria, you should check out Wesker in Equestria by Deep Thought.

If you like the work my editors have done in cleaning up my horrible writing, you should check out their fics.

Blueblood's Angels By Doccular42

If you're into clop, go read Little Lulu summons By my other editor, Salacar.

And last but not least, be sure to give SCP Pinkamena's A Thousand Tortured Souls Scream My Name some love. He's the brilliant bastard who collabed this chapter with me, after all.

Fun fact: Nemesis' rocket launcher weighs over 700 lbs. no human (or pony) can pick that shit up.

Also, I apologize that this chapter took me so long. School's winding down for summer break and finals are coming up.

Star-ting from the top

~Present Day, Twilight Sparkle~

Twilight and her friends reached the castle in record time, however that wasn’t the issue. Actually getting into the castle was going to be a massive problem, as there was currently a massive mob of ponies surrounding the bottom of Canterlot Castle. Not just the usual gaggle of Unicorns either; ponies from all over Equestria gathered together here upon hearing the news that their princesses and the elements laid beaten, and now they sought answers.

The amount of yelling and shouting was a heap on Twilight’s ears, but what came shortly afterwards made them all go quiet.

”SILENCE!”

The sheer volume of the voice made everypony flinch, and then they all bowed as Princess Luna emerged onto the balcony of Canterlot Castle. Even from this distance, Twilight could tell she looked tired, her flowing wavy mane from earlier was frazzled, and her fur was unkempt and messy.

”Our subjects, we know you are all confused, worried, and afraid. But fear not, for even in a state of recovery, our sister and we are exhausting every resource necessary to remove this threat from Equestria.”

“But what is it?!” One mare called out.

“If it defeated you, surely it won’t have a problem coming after us?!”

The crowd exploded into argument and shouting again. princess Luna’s eyes glowed white, storm clouds beginning to gather overhead.

”WE SAID SILENCE!” Immediately all ponies cowered into a bow.

”OUR SISTER IS TRYING TO RECOVER, AND YOUR SHOUTING AND ARGUING IS NOT HELPING HER SITUATION! HAVE YOU NO FAITH IN YOUR PRINCESSES? HAVE YOU NO BELIEF THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH THIS SITUATION IN EVERY WAY THAT WE CAN?”

A white hoof emerged from the doorway behind Luna, and laid itself on her shoulder.

”...but we ARE dealing with the situation! … Is it not proper to use the royal Canterlot voice? … But sister you are in recovery! … She sighed. ”Very well…”

After several confused murmurs, Princess Celestia emerged onto the balcony as well, and every pony bowed once more. She looked even worse than Princess Luna, if that were even possible. Her royal regalia was gone, showing multiple bruises across her body. Her mane was frazzled, and she appeared to be limping slightly. Ribs showing gave the impression that Celestia hadn’t eaten in days. Twilight Sparkle was appalled that Nemesis could reduce her mentor to...this.

“My little ponies,” Celestia spoke softly, a smile warming her features. “I know you all must have many questions, but we cannot answer them for now, and for that I deeply apologize.” Her smile turned into a serious expression. “What you must know is that this creature, or Nemesis as he goes by, is an enemy from long ago who escaped his stone imprisonment. He seeks to bring Equestria to its knees by bringing a plague unto our fair kingdom, a sickness that seems to follow him wherever it goes. One of our own, a unicorn guard pony, has already fallen ill. Please, I must ask all of you to return to your homes and keep a watchful eye out. If you see this creature, DO NOT approach him. Seek out the nearest guard pony and inform them. DO NOT try to engage him. He is dangerous and unpredictable. However, he will be captured again swiftly, of that I can assure you. He will not be a threat to Equestria much longer.”

There was some murmuring again, but no one dared to speak above Princess Celestia.

Princess Celestia bowed her head. “Thank you for your time.” She limped back into the doorway, followed by a downcast Princess Luna. Slowly, the giant mass of ponies began to disperse. Twilight hesitated for only a moment before turning back to her friends. “Let’s go, she wouldn’t have asked to see us if it wasn’t important.”

As the six friends made their way to the castle, Twilight couldn’t help but recall what Celestia had told them about their enemy shortly after Discord’s capture…

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“It all started one thousand years ago.” Celestia stood next to her sister, who were both standing next to the fallen statue of Discord. “The land was still under Discord’s rule, and Luna and I were working feverishly to undo all of the chaos wrought to the region, as well as trying to protect our little ponies.” Celestia sighed deeply.

“It was during the confusion that he came.” Luna spoke up. “He came from the forest surrounding our castle. The Everfree has always been known for strange magic, but never had it produced something the likes of him before.”

Celestia continued. “By the time we had got there, untold damage had already been done. Some houses were in ruins, and our little ponies were in a panic, and he was there yelling at the ponies. All we could make out was him yelling ‘Stars’.”

Rainbow burst into laughter, earning a glare from Twilight in kind. “Sorry Twi but c’mon, seriously? How would you like it if I just flew around town one day and started yelling ‘staaaars’ at everypony I saw?” her grin widened.

“Grah, staaaars grrrr!” Pinkie suddenly growled, causing Rainbow to laugh even harder.

“I assure you he is no laughing matter.” Luna suddenly stepped forward, causing Rainbow Dash and Pinkie to go silent. “It may seem odd, but he single hoofedly was able to defeat my sister and me in combat the very same day that we found him. None of our magical spells could affect him. We managed to hurt him minimally, enough to cause him to bleed, but he fled back into the forest before we could do any real damage.”

“That was when we discovered one of his ‘other’ abilities.” Celestia spoke up, drawing everypony’s attention to her. “A great sickness rapidly swept through the town he had appeared in, causing all of our little ponies to fall ill. The doctors couldn’t figure out what the sickness was; it wasn’t natural. We could only assume that he had something to do with it.”

Fluttershy gasped, holding one hoof to her muzzle. She knew how tough it was to treat sickness since cared for her little animal friends all the time when they were sick, but to tend to an entire pony population who had suddenly fallen ill… “Th-they got better right?” Fluttershy spoke up, quickly hiding her face behind her mane as the princesses looked at her.

Celestia smiled. “They did, thanks to a very special group of ponies. Unable to determine what the sickness was, my sister and I hired some of our best scientists at the time to take a sample of Nemesis’ blood and study it. They went on to found one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies known in Equestria today.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean…”

“Yes, the company you all now know as Ellura. They began to research Nemesis’ blood and sure enough, they found some similarities between it and the virus causing the sickness. They’re heroes.” Celestia frowned. “But Nemesis didn’t stop there.”

“Ellura continued to develop after that,” Luna said. “But Nemesis attempted to stop them at every turn, wanting them to stop making the cure for the virus he was spreading around.”

“He showed up in towns all across Equestria, and sure enough, the sickness appeared wherever he did.” Celestia said, closing her eyes. “He sometimes appeared with new weapons, sometimes with old ones, always attempting to stop Ellura from getting the cure to other cities and towns, and always causing untold amounts of destruction and mayhem. It was only a matter of time until we found out that Discord was helping him.” Celestia looked angry now, glaring at the statue of Discord. “It wasn’t enough for him to just cause miserable chaos, he wanted my little ponies to fall to the sickness that monster created…” The six friends flinched at Celestia’s unyielding glare at the Draconequus.

Luna spoke up now. “Once we captured Discord, it was actually he who told us of Nemesis’ vulnerability. The weapon he carries around, I believe he referred to it as a ‘launcher’, has some sort of inherent magical property that deflects all magical spells that could have an effect on him. Once we found that out, we predicted his next appearance and met him there, relying on physical force to knock the weapon from his grip. Then we were able to subdue him with spells. After reciting his sentence, it was simply a matter of using the elements to lock him away into stone, so he could never do Equestria harm again. But now he has escaped, and seeks to bring Equestria to its knees, as he did in the past.”

Twilight looked to her friends. Applejack grabbed her stetson and nodded, Rainbow Dash punched at the air with her hooves, Rarity put on some sort of decorated camouflage hat and nodded, Pinkie had a serious face on but was jumping up and down in place excitedly, and lastly, Fluttershy was hiding behind Applejack. Twilight looked back to the princesses.

“Princesses…” Twilight began, sticking her chest out. “You can count on us!”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But they hadn’t been able to count on her. Due to her own stupidity and hesitation, Nemesis knocked them all out and escaped once more. And now he was somewhere in Equestria, roaming free, spreading his disease around with no pony to stop him.

The group of friends finally reached the stairs and rushed through the ornate front doors, which guards opened for them as they drew close. It wasn’t a long gallop from there to the throne room, where Celestia and Luna stood in hushed conversation.

“Princess…?” Twilight’s vision was immediately taken up by white fur as Celestia suddenly wrapped her hooves around her student.

“Twilight, thank goodness. I was so worried that Nemesis had seriously hurt you, or worse…”

Getting over her initial surprise, Twilight hugged her mentor back before disengaging. “I’m fine Princess, but...what about you?!” Upon closer inspection now, it really did look like Celestia had been starving herself. Her ribs were showing, and her normally pristine white fur was covered in bruises, her usual flowing mane was dull and lifeless.

“This is the price I pay…” Celestia sighed, limping away from the group. “Nemesis got the better of me, and though his sickness cannot seriously afflict us, I have not been able to eat for the past...several days without becoming violently ill.”

Twilight Sparkle blinked in surprise. Of all the ponies she knew, she had always considered Princess Celestia an untouchable beacon of light. Yet here she was, looking like somepony you might find homeless on the street rather than the regal Princess that they all knew.

“Princess…” Twilight began, then narrowed her eyes and puffed her chest out. “What’s our next course of action?”

“Nothing.”

Twilight blanched. “Wh...huh?”

“Nothing, Twilight.” Celestia closed her eyes, giving a deep sigh.

“HUH????” All of her friends repeated, growing quiet as Celestia suddenly erupted into a coughing fit.

Luna took her place at her sister’s side. “We have no doubt that the scoundrel seeks refuge in the everfree once more, but due to the chaotic nature of the Everfree itself it is next to impossible to find him there. Unfortunately, the most we can do is...simply wait for him to show himself.”

“After all he ‘done you want us to just sit there and do nothin’?” Applejack spoke up.

“Sit there? Of course not.” Celestia recovered from her coughing fit. “We need you to keep your eyes and ears alert. You six are the closest to the everfree, and we have no doubt that he will show some signs of activity soon. When he does- we need to know. Any activity from the Everfree whatsoever- we need to know. Do you understand?”

Twilight looked disappointed at the prospect of not being able to do anything instantly, but she sighed and nodded.

“Good. Now, my little ponies, I suggest-” celestia erupted into a coughing fit once more, and Luna spoke for her.

“Return to Ponyville, element bearers.” Luna looked sad as well. “Waiting and watching is the best we can do for the moment. Keep the elements near you at all times.”

Shortly after, the six friends made their way down the front steps of the castle, looking downcast. Even Pinkie Pie wasn’t her usual bubbly self.

“We done goofed…” Applejack spoke up.

“Hey, it wasn’t our faults!” Rainbow spoke up, flying above the group in a sudden display of ferocity. “He may have surprised us with that explodey trick this time, but next time I see him, I’m gonna be all like woosh!” She began darting around, probably in an example of how she’d beat Nemesis. But Twilight couldn’t focus.

“Don’t look so down on yourself darling.” Rarity said, frowning at Twilight. Her face rose into a smile, but Twilight could tell it was forced. “We’ll get him soon. I know we will.”

“I hope so…” Twilight gazed up at the moon now hanging in the sky. “...for Equestria’s sake.”

~Present Day, Nemesis~

I could not fucking believe it.

One thousand years. ONE THOUSAND FUCKING YEARS, and they couldn’t even bother to keep their library updated?!

Tome after tome of what was probably some long forgotten spell fell to the floor with a clatter as I pawed through the shelves with a snarl.

Absolutely nothing. I had found information regarding the company for sure, but it was old, outdated, and I was certain they’d probably changed their name since then. The bastards were sneaky like that.

Celestia and her damned biased self. Her ponies were such the perfect example of good behaving little lapdogs, she couldn’t even wake up and smell the coffee without one or two of them sneaking around to stab her from behind!

With a roar, I tossed the book case over, causing it to crash to the floor. The bookcase shattered, its contents spilling out onto the ground. I regarded it with distaste before moving on, but something caught my eye. A scroll with a particular glow to it. I picked it up, unrolling it and glancing through the contents. I’d taught myself to read Equestrian a long time ago, so I could at least read the title. Summoning signs...hm, this might come in handy… I tucked it away into my back pocket for later, and continued to look through the book shelves.

My mind drifted to past events. When I had first arrived, I had no idea what was going on. I came across a town of ponies and tried to get more than one word out. I wanted to ask them where I was, something, any other than what was coming out of my mouth. In my confusion I had pulled the trigger on my rocket launcher and found out that not only was it really fucking heavy, but it was REAL too. It caused a nearby house to explode, and after trying to apologize profusely, those two came and attacked me. What was a man like myself to do in that situation? I defended myself, they managed to stab me with their horns and buck me a few times, but it wasn’t any serious damage, and I was able to escape. They had tried to cast spells on me, but they all either stopped short, went around me, or simply obliterated before they hit me. Even Celestia’s sword broke upon contact with me.

It wasn’t until I met Discord in the everfree did I find out it was actually my Rocket Launcher that was protecting me. Old merchant at the stand back at the con must’ve been more than what he let on.

I got ready for another fight at seeing Discord at first, but he didn’t attack me. He said he could hear what I was ‘saying’ but I hadn’t been saying anything. Turns out whenever I held the launcher and ‘thought’ at Discord, as weird as that might sound, he could hear me.

Discord and I quickly became friends. I told him everything about what had happened to me, up until my most recent meeting with the sisters, and he laughed, agreeing that they could truly be ‘real blowhards.’ He also commented about a strange energy signature I seemed to carry that was leaking out of me. This led me to wonder if, along with Nemesis body, did I inherit the virus too?

I left Discord to go check on the town I had recently escaped from. Imagine my surprise when no one was infected, but I had caught word of a company that had used MY blood to create a cure for the sickness that had recently swept through the town.

I was not having that. Ponies did not need to have a sample of the virus to play with. I went to find out where the sample was being held, but the princesses engaged me again. I managed to fend them off and destroy the shipment that was carrying the sample to another town, but little had I known that three more shipments were already sent off to three other towns.

Discord had offered to find a way to send me home, but I couldn’t do it. I needed to stop the virus from spreading in this world, it was my fault and I needed to make it right.

It wasn’t long before I heard about the group of ponies establishing themselves in other cities. I went to intercept them, but by the time I had gotten there, reports of the virus began to sprout. There was no doubt the greedy bastards were experimenting with the virus to see what they could do, some of their ‘test subjects’ up and told me that once I began trashing their labs. They were testing the virus they had gotten from me on creatures, playing with it and making more and more abominations of nature, right under the princess’s noses, who were all but blind to it because of how perfect they believed their ponies to be.They were playing with power they could not hope to control.

I hunted. I sought them down through every nook and cranny I could find them in. I never killed, but I sabotaged. I destroyed. However, greed is a heavy anchor, and evil runs deep. The princesses, their minds clouded and their ignorance obvious, attempted to stop me at every turn. Discord helped me, I drew plans and he made them a reality. I built up my weapon collection.

Eventually, the bastards grew wise to my tactics, and began deploying B.O.W.s to defend their assets. Did it help? No. The B.O.W.s went wild and started an outbreak. They had no idea how to control what they created, so I had to, and I could only hope that the princesses could see what they were too stupidly blind to see in the past.

They didn’t.

Discord got caught. He ratted me out like a bastard, and the princesses were able to disarm and capture me.

I had been gone from the world for a thousand years, and if those mutated timber wolves were the only things I had seen thus far, I was utterly horrified to think about what else they might have been able to create.

Still nothing. I growled and tossed the decrepit book behind me. There was nothing here. This library was too ancient, I needed a library that was more up to date.

The small village I had passed on the way to the Everfree caught my mind. Surely they had a more current library. I might be able to find out the name and the locations of the company with some more information from the library, maybe even a map since Equestria had changed so radically. I was about to head out when something made me stop.

I heard something akin to a hissing noise, but it quickly turned into laughter. It was coming from just around the corner. I quickly darted behind a bookcase I hadn’t knocked down, peeking only my head out to look.

A deformed claw grasped the side of the wall, an elongated muzzle peeking out from around it. The claws were incredibly long, but they looked rotten. The muzzle was pulled and stretched out, wide enough to make room for razor sharp fangs stretched into an almost sadistic-looking grin. The creature’s face...it didn’t have any eyes. Maybe it once did, but where there should have been there was only skin.

Not even skin...gods, this creature’s muscle was pushing out from underneath its rotting fur. It was standing in a crouched position, sort of like you’d expect a predator preparing to leap for prey to look. It had what looked to be canine, or dog-like proportions. I might’ve mistaken it for a dog even if it wasn’t standing on two legs. It tapped its claws on the wall a few times, then stuck its nose into the air and inhaled deeply. It let out a sound that sounded something akin to a giggle. It was unnatural. Everything about this creature screamed ‘B.O.W.’

It creeped into the room, continually sniffing. its malformed ears gave a twitch every now and again as it continued its strange barely-suppressed-laughter sound.

It was looking for me. So those Timberwolves hadn’t been there to begin with, those bastards actually sent B.O.W.s out to look for me. Were they stupid?! What if one of them got away?!

The sound of a giggle snapped me back to my current predicament. The creature was quickly creeping up on my right side. He would find me soon, but I think killing this thing might be considered more of a mercy than anything else. I didn’t know if there were more of them around, so I needed to kill this one quickly. Just as its claw tapped the ground next to my foot, I lashed out, grabbing the monster and throwing it into a nearby wall, then smashed into it with my body. It didn’t die. It clawed futilely at my body before raising its head and letting out a massive shriek, some venom-like substance dripping from its fangs. I smashed my palm into its head, silencing it immediately.

However, much to my chagrin, I heard several other similar shrieks echo around the castle.

...Fuck.

I disposed of the body I had in my grip and started to run, smashing through a nearby window and tumbling into the grass outside. I quickly climbed to my feet and continued to run, clearing the gap between the forest and the castle with a massive leap. I looked back and, sure enough, several figures stood perched in the window I had broken out of, their ears twitching. I heard scurrying in the grass not far from my position.

They’re fast… I picked a direction and beat it, I didn’t want to think about fighting them right now. They likely outnumbered me and I had no idea what they were capable of. Branches scraped against my sides, and I barely dodged trees every now and again, but I could still hear them crawling behind me. The pitch black of the forest at night had not deterred them. Why should it? they didn’t have any goddamn eyes.

I emerged into a clearing, looking out over the village I had passed on my way here. It was a quiet night and the little town looked peaceful. The flag hooked onto the pole at the top of the tallest building in the small village swayed gently in the breeze. And I was bringing hell straight to them.

I stopped, my heels digging into the dirt as I turned to face my pursuers. They stopped just short of me, their progress ground to a halt as they cocked their heads to the side in confusion. One sniff though, and they surrounded me instantly. I could hear laughter all around me, high-pitched giggling. This is what would happen to Equestria if I didn’t stop the bastards who had created these monsters.

With only a moment’s hesitation, the monsters stopped, then all leaped at once. I rushed forward to meet them, some primal instinct in my mind ground against the inside of my skull. I needed to kill these things before they killed anyone else. With a cry of rage, I let out a loud

“STTTTTTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!”

Then the battle began.

Author's Notes:

Thanks to lunarstallion and Doccular42 for editing this one!

B.O.W.s so far this fic:

Infected Timberwolves (If you've got a name for 'em try me): Instead of green they glow a telltale red. Their natural aggression is escalated tenfold, and their regeneration capabilities have enhanced, allowing them to heal almost instantly.Upon recovery, they become smarter, stronger, faster. The only way to put one down for good is to stab it in its center, where the glow comes from.

Lurkers: Essentially infected Diamond Dogs, these creatures have lost the need for eyesight due to constantly burrowing in the darkness. Their smell and hearing are unlike anything else of this world. They carry a deadly venom in their fangs, enough to kill 20 full grown ponies. Extremely flexible and deadly, these creatures form 'packs' and can burrow through almost anything. They communicate with each other through what sound like laughter or giggling, it is extremely easy to tell when one is near you.

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*takes off sunglasses* "My God."

Starburst

~Present day, the Everfree forest~

“Oh come ON Spike, we’re not going to get anywhere with you going at a snail’s pace like that!”

Spike was hugging himself, glancing around nervously as he ran to catch up with the crusaders. “W-why did you three even want to come in here anyways? D-don’t you know the stories t-that ponies t-tell about this place?”

“Oh pfft, those?” Scootaloo rose her head a little higher, trotting forward with her chest stuck out. “Come ON, they’re just stories. Rainbow Dash wouldn’t be scared, so why should we?”

Spike made a deadpan expression. “But you’re not Rainbow—”

“Look, how would we ever get our cutie marks if we didn’t do something dangerous now and again?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“But you three do something dangerous all the time—”

“Look Spike, no one SAID you had to come with us. We just wanted to go to see Zecora to see if she’s heard anything about that monster that’s been let loose on Equestria here recently. Could you imagine the cutie marks we would get if we caught it?!”

“Cutie Mark Crusaders Monster Beaters!” They laughed and unison before rushing ahead. Spike grumbled and ran to keep up with them.

“Look, I never said I WANTED to come in the first place. You three told me to come over to Rarity’s house. I thought I was gonna see her, but then I remembered that Rarity was still away with Twilight on that special mission. Besides I couldn’t just let you three go into the forest by yourselves; could you imagine the look that Rarity would give me if y—”

“Hey, who’s that?”

Spike sighed, giving up on getting a word in anymore. He crept up next to the Crusaders, who had taken a spot in the bushes. Spike peeked out, spying a peculiar looking brown stallion with a brown mane, blonde streaks cutting through it at spaced intervals. His tail was cut short, jutting out from his flank slightly and matched the color of his smoothed-back mane.

“...What?” An annoyed voice echoed from the stallion’s glowing horn.

“There was an anomaly.” The stallion’s voice was measured, almost afraid. Spike could tell he was being very careful with his words. “A tall biped matching the target. There was a large pyramid shape on his neck and he carried a large knife-”
“I don’t care who or what the anomaly was!” The annoyed voice cut the stallion off. “You had best make sure those B.O.W.s do not cause a scene, Overlook. The LAST thing we need are the media, or worse yet, the PRINCESSES looking into it. Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes sir.”

“You had better make sure that you do. If this operation continues as it has, I’m going to need a replacement for some of my specimens. And a careless field agent who can’t even tell when he’s being watched is high on my list RIGHT NOW!”

The glow from the stallion’s horn ceased and he whirled on his hooves, turning to face the bush where the group was hiding.

“Run!” Spike shouted, pushing the CMC out and following quickly behind.

“Hey!” he heard the stallion’s voice behind him, followed by the sound of pounding hooves.

Spike ran as fast as his short little legs could carry him, making sure the CMC were a good distance in front of him before he stopped.

“Spike!” They called after him, turning to go back to him.

“No!” Spike said, pointing to ponyville. “Keep going! I’ll hold him off!”

The Crusaders looked torn, but with tear sin their eyes they nodded and ran. Spike turned to face the approaching stallion…

Only to find the stallion standing right in front of him. “My my, aren’t you a brave little dragon? And such a fine specimen too…” Spike fell onto his back with a gasp. “I’m sorry to say that your efforts were in vain.” The stallion lifted his head to look behind Spike. Spike followed suit, his eyes growing wide as he saw the Crusaders slowly stepping backwards, a pack of red glowing Timberwolves stalking towards them.

“No!” Spike said, struggling to get up. But then he heard the ringing of magic, and his entire world went black.

~Nemesis~

The first hit struck me from the side, knocking me off of my feet with one of those things on top of me. I pushed against it, its venom-drenched fangs snapping shut an inch from my face. I had no idea what sort of venom these things carried, but I was in no interest to find out. I pulled my feet in and kicked, sending the thing into the air with a screech. I stood up quickly, shooting a tentacle from my hand that pierced through its midsection in mid-air.

I glanced behind me, noticing two more approaching from my rear. I turned, pivoting my weight as I brought their friend around and smashed him into his allies as hard as I could. I heard the satisfying sound of crunching bones as the trio spiraled into the darkness, hitting something with a resounding crack. They were down.

I heard the sound of scurrying coming from my side, and I turned. I raised my launcher just in time to have another one of the B.O.W.s latch onto it, its fangs trying to find purchase against skin that wasn’t there. I pried it off, throwing it to the ground. It began shrieking, but I brought my foot down, and with a wet splat it went silent.

The only indication I had before an attack was a flash of light in the moon’s glow before I felt something cut along my belly. I growled and punched out, but it avoided my blow. It crouched below it, then rose up in an uppercut sort of fashion. However, I was faster. I brought my launcher to my front just in time; the clash of claws on metal causing a spark to light up the darkness for just a moment, and in the flash of light I could see more coming.

I let a snarl rip from my throat, smacking my launcher into the side of its face and causing it to stumble. I grabbed its head within my massive hand and held it up in the air, my free hand beginning to smoke. The creature shrieked and writhed in my grip, its claws slashing against my arm, but it was not going anywhere. I pressed my smoking hand to its face.The creature writhed for a moment more before going silent.

I dropped the body, turning to face my new opponents. There were more of them than I had thought before. They were stalking towards me in greater numbers.

I raised my launcher.

Fuck this.

I pulled the trigger, the sound of a jet echoed for only a moment, then there was a massive mushroom-shaped plume of flame in the night, and the sound of several monsters shrieking in agony.

I liked it.

Two impacts onto my back caused me to roar in frustration. I managed to remain standing, but the creatures were digging into me with their claws, and I was certain they were going to bite soon. I turned, and fell, smashing all of my weight into the ground below me. The two creatures writhed underneath of me, jaws snapping in my ear. I turned on the ground, one got away but I grabbed the other by its head, crushing it in my grip.

I was seeing nothing but red. It felt like my mind was on fire as I listened for the sound of what I presumed was the last one. Where did you go you little fuck…

I heard scurrying, but it was going away from me, towards the peaceful village.

No.

I immediately broke into a sprint. The creature tried to run, but I grabbed it by its neck. it shrieked and clawed again, but all of the shrieking in the world would not save it.

I grabbed its legs with my other hand, then held it in the air above me and pulled in opposite directions. The creature cried, its screams urging me on to keep pulling. the screams died into gurgles and, oddly enough, just before it died I could hear it give a giggle.

Then it gave, and I was left with two halves of a B.O.W. in my hands and a shower of blood raining down over me. I threw the pieces to the ground, breathing heavily as I surveyed my surroundings. Seeing nothing, I took in a deep breath, I rose my head to the skies and I roared.

“SSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

Then I collapsed, falling onto my hands and knees as I tried to catch my breath. My vision swam and faded from the blackness of sleep to the dim light of the moon. I had dropped my launcher at some point, I didn’t feel its weight on me anymore. That wasn’t what bothered me though, what bothered me is that I wanted more. Upon seeing nothing else to kill, I felt dissapointed. I was actually saddened at the prospect of not causing anymore bloodshed.

And I hated it.

What… I thought to myself, glancing around at the destruction I had wrought. Blood and body parts laid scattered about the area, a crater where I had shot my weapon scarred the ground a few hundred feet to my right. The monster’s bodies were scattered about the area, and I noticed I had not escaped the battle completely unscathed. Nasty injuries tore across my arms and torso. Angry red, but I didn’t feel any pain from them. In fact, even though I felt like I should be exhausted, I actually felt like I could run a marathon and still want more. ...What’s happening to me?

Questions. Only more questions. Questions that couldn’t be answered. Not for now, at least. The library. I thought, finally forcing myself to stand. The pounding in my skull gradually died down, and my mind cleared up enough that I could think straight again. I need to get to the library. It will have what I need. It HAS to.

Begrudgingly, I grabbed my launcher laying nearby and, sparing one last look at the carnage, before making my way down towards the peaceful little village.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It wasn’t a long trek, in fact it was mostly downhill. Once I reached the village called ‘ponyville’ I stuck to the shadows. There were still some lights on in some of the houses, but for the most part the village was quiet. Better safe than sorry, though.

I kept tabs on the central structure of ponyville, what I assumed was town hall since it was the biggest structure around. It wasn’t long before I found what I was looking for, a large tree with a ‘library’ sign hanging in front of it. I made sure no one was looking before I tried the door. Locked, of course. I’d need to find another way in.

I snuck around the side of the tree, looking for some kind of second entry. Bingo, a window. I tried opening it. No good, it was lo-

CRACK!

...oops.

I went through the window, lowering it again behind me. When I turned, I saw precisely what I was looking for.

Books.

Lots of fucking books.

I deadpanned.

Oh this is gonna be funnn…

I began my search, careful to place books back where I had found them once I finished looking at them. i may have tossed one or two behind me though. Maybe.

Magical quantum theory… an entire book on the history of the wonderbolts...Equestrian history? I leafed through that a bit. I did get mentioned once but there was no mention on what the company was called today. I let out a growl and shoved the book back where I thought I had found it, continuing my search.

Nothing. I’d been searching for at least an hour now and I had absolutely nothing to show for it. Whoever owns this place keeps it too damn organized- The sound of hooves outside caught my attention.

shit…! I looked around in a panic, seeing a large open closet door. I quickly shoved some books back onto the bookshelves and darted into the open door, trying to remain as quiet as possible.

~Twilight Sparkle~

“Thanks for walking home with me, Applejack…” Twilight yawned.

“Aw shucks sugarcube, t’aint no big deal. We apples sometime pull 24 hours shifts, especially when the zap apple harvest comes in, so ah’m used to it.”

Twilight was only half listening, her mind still racing about seeing her teacher in such a sorry state. About everything really. She breathed a heavy sigh and she felt Applejack bump her in the side.

“Don’t be so down on yerself, we gave it the best we could.”

“I suppose so…” Twilight trailed off. “I just wish we could have done more.”

“We’ll have our time to shine when the varmint shows his face again. In the meantime, we still on fer that picnic tomorrow?”

Twilight brightened, having nearly forgotten about the picnic she had scheduled with her friends the very next day. “Yes,” she nodded. “Most definitely.”

“Good. Ah’m gonna head back to the barn now, sleep tight sugarcube!”

“You too!”

Twilight waved after her friend, then unlocked her front door with her magic, trotting inside with a hum. Maybe this wasn’t as bad as she thought. She switched the light on, and immediately her bad day got a whole lot worse.

“No…” she uttered, stumbling up to the bookcase. “Somepony...MESSED UP MY ORGANIZATION! SPIIIIIKE!”

Twilight snorted, grinding the floor with her hoof as she looked for her slacking assistant. Instead, she saw a note.

“Twilight, went over to Rarity’s to help the Crusaders with something.

-S”

“...Huh.” Twilight raised an eyebrow, making her way towards her closet where she kept her favorite smarty pants doll. “I suppose I can bug him about it tomorrow, he does deserve a good night’s rest after—” She stopped mid-sentence as she opened the closet door, and saw a massive, hulking bipedal figure taking up the entirety of her closet.

Nothing was said for several minutes. The two simply stared at each other for what felt like hours. There was a beat. Then another. then, tenderly, Nemesis reached up onto the shelf above the closet, offering her the doll she was looking for.

...I can explain?

Twilight said nothing at first, but then she took in a deep, deep breath….

~Nemesis~

Oh God, whatever you do please don’t—

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”

Look, I’m trying—

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

IF YOU COULD JUST SHUT UP FOR ONE MINUTE—

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”

YOU KNOW, I READ SOMEWHERE THAT LIBRARIES WERE SUPPOSED TO BE A QUIET PLACE! TELL ME MS. LIBRARIAN, IS THAT TRUE?!

“...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

The purple unicorn jumped backwards, her hoof grinding on the floor as she narrowed her eyes at me, her horn glowing.

“What in Celestia’s name are YOU doing here?”

Looking for something. If you could just—

“Looking for WHAT?”

Look, if I was here to hurt you, do you think I would have been hiding in a closet?
The unicorn hesitated at that, when there was a sudden knock at her door.

“Twilight! You okay?”

I gave her my best puppy dog eyes, which, given my body, probably seemed more like a “I’m going to kill you and everything you care about” look. She blanched, looking back towards the door. She hesitated a bit before replying.

“Everything’s fine, I just noticed some of my books weren’t organized properly.”

There was a chuckle, before the voice replied. “Ya’ll got me worked up over nothin’. have a good sleep, Twi!”

“You too!” Then she turned to face me, her face serious. “You have five seconds to explain yourself before I call her back here and we lock your flank away in stone for another thousand years.”

You think I couldn’t get away by then? Do you really think, if I thought I was in any danger, I’d still be here right now?

She let out a frustrated groan before slamming her hoof on the floor.

“Would you just explain why you’re here and...why you look like you’re hurt so bad?”

I blinked, looking over myself. Yep, I was still covered in blood, cuts and bruises. Evidence of my rampage from earlier. I sighed.

That’s not important right now—

“Not important? You show up in MY house, hiding in MY closet where all of my PERSONAL articles of clothing HAPPEN to be located, and you show up COVERED in blood none the less, and it’s not important? If you’re going to lie to me about why you’re here, at least tell me why you look so beat up so I can get you some medical treatment!”

I glanced back in the closet, and upon seeing the articles of clothing stashed away there, my horror grew. Okay, first off, NO. SO MUCH NO. Second of all, I don’t need medical treatment. My wounds will heal on their own. I let out a heavy sigh. She hadn’t lowered her horn this entire conversation. You’re making me nervous. How can you expect me to explain myself under all this pressure?

“You hurt the princess. Very badly. You sent Canterlot into a panic, and if that’s not enough, you’re the most wanted enemy in ALL of Equestria. Give me one reason I should put my horn down.”

...Point taken. To be fair though, I warned her.

Twilight snarled, the glow on her horn growing.

Okay, okay. I came here looking for information on a company that was around during the time I was free. They’ve changed their name since then, but they were the ones who developed the ‘cure’ for the sickness that… I sighed. ...that I started.

Twilight’s ear twitched, and her head raised slightly. “...You mean Ellura. One of their bases of operation I know of is in Manehattan, but why would—” Immediately, she slapped a hoof over her mouth.

I grinned. Thanks, little purple pony.

“It’s TWILIGHT SPARKLE.”

Thanks, Twilight. I made for the window again, but I stopped as a blast hit the wall next to me.

“You think I’m just going to let you leave?”

You’re really going to try and stop me?

She hesitated again, her ears falling low. “...Why?”

Hm?

“All of it...why are you trying to stop such good ponies from stopping something that you yourself started? I don’t understand how somepony can be so cruel…”

Trying to… I couldn’t help it. I laughed. Twilight, I’m afraid you’re just as much of an idiot as your princess is. When someone gets ahold of something powerful, they want to control it. Not everyone in the universe has the best of intentions, though they may state otherwise.

“...What do you mean?”

Why don’t you ask your princesses? And with that, I slipped out the window and disappeared into the night.

~Canterlot Hospital, Golden Shield~

Golden Shield hated hospitals. It wasn’t because that’s where horror stories or even that she was scared of them, she just didn’t like them. They made her feel weak.

Her parents and sibling were crowded around her bed. After her episode in the barracks, her officer had rushed her to the hospital. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, she showed no signs or symptoms of any kind of virus that they knew of, and as for right now they could only wait and see what would happen.

Golden Shield’s mom caressed her hoof, smiling at her daughter. “How are you feeling, honey?”

“Sore…” Golden Shield shifted her body, trying to get comfortable. Part of her golden mane went over one of her blue eyes. “And really really embarrassed… I think I’m the only one who got put out of commission after that monster attacked…”

“You’re not the only one.” her father answered, giving her a smile. “Some of the other guards were knocked out and had to go to the hospital too. In fact—”

Golden Shield’s dad was interrupted as several ponies in radioactive suits suddenly stormed into the room.

“Is this the patient?”

“It is.”

“Commence with extraction.”

“The mare, the stallion, and the foal as well?”

“They’ve touched her, they’re coming too.”

Before anypony could react, the ponies in the radioactive suits began to seize the family.

“What is the meaning of this?!” A doctor stormed in, but was stopped by one of the ponies.

“This patient has been confirmed to have a very deadly virus, the same one given off by Nemesis. We can’t have anyone near her, and anyone who does gets quarintened.”

“Mommy! daddy!” The small foal cried as the ponies took him away.

“Stop! What are you doing?!” Her mom was dragged out the door as well.

“Get your hooves off my wife! I swear to Celestia—” It took several guards to subdue him, but they overcame him, and he too was dragged out, kicking and screaming.

“No!” Golden shield reached out to her family, but could do little more as one of the ponies placed something over her face. “That’s it sweetheart...sleep, we have plans for you…” And then Golden Shield’s world faded to black.

~Nemesis~

I had made a cave my temporary home as I plotted out my next move, the glow of the campfire I made casting eerie shadows on the walls. I ignored it for now, and instead reached into my back pocket to fish out the scroll I had gotten earlier from the old castle.

“Some kind of summoning spell...it almost looks like…” The scroll suddenly exploded into light, and I turned my head away. It floated out of my grasp, hovering over the campfire as it unfurled itself. I stood, transfixed as it turned into a portal. Through it, I could see millions of other dimensions. Some akin to the same situation I was in, some in different situations, but I had no doubt in my mind that what lay before me was nothing short of incredible. A rider with a flaming skull. An armored warrior with a taste for battle. A powerful alchemist turned into a pony. It was hypnotizing, and I was reminded of what it had been like to hold Pyramid Head’s sword. I thought, not for the first time, if this is what he went through every waking second.

If you wish to transcend the dimensions, offer an object to be your medium.

Wordlessly, I reached into my pocket and produced a vial. It wasn’t much, but the way the liquid swirled made it look like a DNA strand. It pulsed, moved, writhed, as if it were alive. It was the first sample of the virus I had acquired from Ellura, it was ancient and its cells were long since dead, but it would work.

The vial floated up to the scroll. Somehow, I knew what I needed to do next. The words came to me, as if whispered into my ear.

I am Nemesis. The Hunter. The Pursuer. Those who would seek to harm others for their own benefit are my prey. If you need my help, simply take this vial in your hand, and call upon me. I will aid you in kind. Your enemies will flee before my wrath, but there will be nowhere they can run, nowhere they can hide that I will not find them. I will hunt them down.

The vial seemed to glow, then it shot into the portal that the scroll had created. The scroll glowed briefly before it too vanished in a flash of light. I blinked, holding my head with a hand as a massive headache set itself in. Ugh...Either I’m going crazy or that was a really BAD idea…

Author's Notes:

New summon acquired: STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSS!

Just make sure you ask me before you use it.

Two updates within two days of each other? IMPOSSIBLE!

Don't get used to it, though. These last two were really big chapters and I wanted to get them out asap.

I only had my editor's attention for a little while in editing this one, so apologies if there's any mistakes.

In other news, my summer break's starting at the end of this month, so hopefully I'll be able to get updates out more frequently around then. :pinkiecrazy:

Star Crossed Comrades

~??????~

I sat at the top of a lone hill. Below me, all of the cities, towns, nations, empires, everything that embodies Equus itself was visible in a thick fog of black smoke.

And everything was burning.

Familiar landscapes awash with tongues of red and orange that turned everything they touched into ashen black. Hideous monsters stalked the streets, killing anyone and anything that wasn’t prone and unliving beneath them.

The heavens burned, blackened from the soot produced from the infernos below. What may have once been loving and nurturing homes were now hollow and empty, their walls painted red with the blood of whoever its former denizens were.

And I was watching it all happen.

I pulled my legs against my chest. In all honesty, I was amazed that I still remembered what my human self looked like. Every last detail from my auburn hair to my black shoes was captured perfectly, and I could even see out of both eyes again. Even the ability to be able to say more than one word was a luxury I hadn’t had in a long time. I knew it couldn’t actually happen though. And when it did, that usually meant that I was dreaming.

I never really remembered my dreams before I came here. Hell, I didn’t even think my body needed sleep. I went for a full week without a wink of rest, and only when Discord asked how I was able to keep going did it occur to me how tired I was.

And when I did sleep that first time, I dreamed. I don’t know why this particular dream kept returning to me, it was a typical nightmare, witnessing the possible consequences of something that you’ve done. I don’t even know why it bothered me that bad. It was the same thing every time.

Still though, it brought some rather unpleasant memories, and I was content to simply ride it out until it was over.

I felt, more than saw the ripple across my field of vision in the dreamscape. It passed in front of me like the ripples in a lake after a stone’s been thrown in. I sighed as I heard the sounds of steady hoofsteps in the soft grass on my little hill. I was really not in the mood for this.

“So this is the disturbance that I felt…” I could see her out of the corner of my eye, her long starry mane billowing in some sort of unseen arcane wind as the flames of destruction raged around her.

“Hello Luna. You here to put me into a coma or something?”

She frowned deeply, a look of confusion crossing her face. “Nay strange one, it is our duty at night to patrol the dreamscape and help ponies confront the nightmares that haunt their minds.” She turned fully towards me now, lowering her head to my seated form so she could look me in the eye. “But we can plainly see that thou art not a pony...in fact, we can only guess as to what you are mister…?”

I put on a fake hurt expression, holding a hand to my chest. “Luna, I’m truly hurt. Do you honestly mean to say that you have no idea who I am?” Slowly, Luna shook her head. She almost looked cute when she was really, really confused. Almost. I chuckled. “Well, I suppose it will come to you in time. For the moment, you can call me Nicholas Fringe, or Nick for short.”

“Very well, ‘Nick’.” she got the pronunciation wrong, making it sound more like ‘neek’. I almost started laughing. “Tell us, why does this nightmare trouble you so?”

I turned my gaze back to the inferno, stealing a glance over at the Princess to watch her face as she cringed at the mayhem taking place below. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, releasing it slowly.

“...First, Princess, let me ask you a question. Have you ever been afraid of failure?”

She looked me over again before responding. “Fear of failure is a constant companion when you are a princess of Equestria. If you make even the slightest wrong call, order the wrong thing to be done...it could end in disaster.” She sighed. “I have felt the sting of failure in the past. Failure to see the truth. Failure to believe in my sister…”

“But those were fixed, correct?”

She nodded again. “Not without a great deal of effort but...yes, all of my wrongs were righted, eventually. Why do you ask?”

I glanced back at her. “Well, let’s just say that my failure...well…” My gaze drifted back to the inferno below, my body tightening up. “...It may not be fixable.”

I felt a wing drape over my back, soft feathers tickling my skin. “This is what troubles you? Fear of failure?”

I nodded. “It depends, not only on me being able to fix things, but getting help from pe— ponies who...well, aren’t exactly willing.” I looked up at her again.

Luna smiled at me, lowering herself to lay down next to me. “Know this Nick, the path to do the righteous thing is not always easy, and is paved with challenges, but in the end, those with the perseverance to overcome the impossible are met with greater rewards at journey’s end.”

I groaned. “You make it sound so easy! These ponies I have to convince, they’re pretty damn hard headed!”

Luna laughed a bit, retracting her wing as she stood up. “Well...perhaps you need to show these ponies that your call for help is genuine and sincere. Though, to be honest Nick, it would be much easier to help you if we knew the context of this coversation.”

At that hidden question, I grinned and stood as well. “Luna, I’d tell you but—” Slowly, I felt the dream dispersing as my dream self re-took the mutated form of the monster I was so familiar with being. That would be cheating.

Her eyes widened as she saw me for who she knew me as. “You…!”

Then all I knew was darkness.

~Nemesis~

I awoke to the sound of chirping birds. I sat up quickly, the chirping ending abruptly as the birds scattered from the trees around me. I blinked my eye, looking around the area. No ponies, no hungry predators, for once things were actually going my way.

I made a point to cover up any evidence of anyone living where I had built my small campfire before continuing into the Everfree again.

Thinking past the veil of sleep and last night’s dream and intrusion from Princess Luna, I was able to recall the details that Twilight had given me. Manehattan was my next stop. The problem was that my memory map of Equestria was over one thousand years old, so first thing was first: I needed directions. Obviously going into town to look for a map was out of the question, they were probably looking for me after the stunt I had pulled last night, and I knew of only one person who would talk to me.

Zecora!

The Zebra mare was trotting towards her hut, two hefty looking saddlebags on either side of her.

“Ah, well if it isn’t Nemesis my friend! Please do come in, I have some fresh herbs I need to blend.”

I nodded, leaning over so that I could fit myself into her hut. Thankfully the ceiling was high enough that I didn’t need to bend over quite so badly, but it still felt uncomfortable.

I’d never taken the time to actually look around Zecora’s hut the last time that I was here, but now that I’d gotten the chance to look around I noticed that a lot of her stuff looked like it might belong to a witch doctor or something back home.

Hey, Zecora.

“Hm?” She was preparing some sort of cauldron over a small fireplace in the next room.

What exactly is it that you do out here?

“Ahh, you see I concoct a number of unique potions, from the most bitter of liquid to the gentlest of lotions. Many ponies consider living in the Everfree a taboo, but I think it’s rather enlightening, don’t you?”

I chuckled a bit. It’s a nice place to get away from the ponies, if anything else. I actually had something I wanted to ask you though, if you’re not busy?

“Of course of course, let me first stir up some Zebrafican red tea, I do hope you have the time to enjoy it with me?”

I nodded, and she vanished around the corner, leaving me to my thoughts. I wonder how many other horse pun names they can come up with here. I mean, Zebafrica? Manehattan? What’s next, trottingha—

“Unstoppable pursuer, implacable hunter, hear me! I, The Mighty Gilgamesh, ronin of the multiverse, call upon thy ferocity and strength for aid! Answer my call and come to me, NEMESIS!”

Well shit, that was quick. I thought as a swirling vortex formed behind me. Zecora, hold that thought, and that tea! I only had time to register her surprised face peeking from around the corner as I jumped into the portal with an accompanying "STAAAARS!"

~Twilight Sparkle~

Twilight stepped off of the train which had just made its last stop in Canterlot. She hadn’t told her friends that she was coming here, and a letter didn’t feel right for this situation. Twilight wanted to ask Princess Celestia personally about what was going on with Nemesis. When he had broken into her house last night, yet left without doing any bit of harm whatsoever, it gave Twilight a moment to think things over. He hadn’t tried to hurt her, and he wasn’t hostile about anything, what sort of threat exactly did he pose?

Such questions continued to plague Twilight’s mind even as she made her way up the staircase in front of the castle, the guards moving to allow her access. It wasn’t a long way from the front door to the throne room, as she knew the castle like the back of her hoof.

As she emerged into the massive room, she spied Princess Celestia sitting on her throne, a large number of papers floating in her magical grip as she signed them off one by one, then dispelled them with a flash of golden magic. Twilight noticed that the Princess didn’t even look up as she entered, so she figured that she would have to make herself known. She carefully approached the throne, and warily side “P-princess Celestia?”

Princess Celestia glanced out from behind her papers, a surprised look on her face. “Twilight?” She asked, the papers coming together and neatly arranging themselves before being set down gently next to the throne. Twilight noticed, that even though only a day had passed, the Princess looked as if she had never even been sick. “I wasn’t expecting you... Usually you send a letter before your arrival, but you are always welcome here.” She smiled warmly at her student before frowning, noticing the expression on Twilight’s face. “Is something troubling you, my student?”

Twilight gave a sheepish smile. “Not really...well...maybe just a little bit, yes.” She frowned, shuffling her hooves a bit nervously. “I was just wondering...what exactly is the threat that Nemesis poses?” Celestia blinked, clearly not understanding the question. “Well, you see...hm…” Twilight hesitated, wondering how she was going to word what she was about to say. “I...saw Nemesis last night.”

Immediately, Celestia’s expression changed to a frown. “Twilight, I need you to be very clear, and tell me where exactly you saw him. Did he hurt you?”

“No, Princess, that’s exactly it. He could have hurt me, but he didn’t. In fact, he seemed like he genuinely didn’t mean any harm. All he wanted to know was one of the locations of Ellura’s base of operations.”

Celestia’s face grew stern. “Did you tell him?”

Twilight’s ears went flat, and she became unable to look the princess in the eye. “I...I let slip that one of their main buildings are in Manehattan...but that’s not—”

Another letter appeared in front of Celestia and she began scribbling on it immediately, as if completely forgetting that Twilight where there. After that was done, she called over one of the guards who were standing at either side of her throne. “I want a troop of guards dispatched to Ellura’s center of operations in Manehattan. Warn them of what’s to come and keep a sharp eye out.” The guard nodded and rushed out the door. Celestia got up and began trotting towards the door as well, likely to make more preparations.

“Princess, wait!” Twilight called, running after her teacher. Celestia paused to look at Twilight. “Maybe this is worth looking into? If he really wanted to do ponies harm, don’t you think he’d be going around hurting us directly, instead of trying to strike down Ellura? What if there’s some other meaning hidden behind his actions?”

Celestia turned to face her student, spreading her wings wide as she spoke. “Listen carefully, Twilight Sparkle. You have not known Nemesis for as long as I have, therefore it is understandable that you would be ignorant of his ways. I have seen what it is that he does, if hurting innocent ponies is not enough, he seeks to destroy the only means we have of defending ourselves. Ellura has been one of the primary providers of many different types of medicine, several of which have cured many previously thought incurable diseases. What he will not gain through brute force, he seeks to gain through manipulation. I would sooner believe that his seemingly docile behaviour is another ruse, than dare to think the ponies I have known for over a millennia would seek to stab me in the back. Do you understand?”

Twilight felt low. She felt stupid, ignorant of her Teacher’s feelings or wishes, and very guilty for thinking bad about such good ponies. She lowered her head in shame. “Yes, Princess.” She felt something feathery under her chin, and it lifted her face up.

“Do not feel ashamed, Twilight. Many have fallen for his trickery in the past. Please, return to Ponyville and try to put that encounter out of your mind, Equestria needs you ready if Nemesis shows his face again.”

Twilight, still unsure, nodded her head.

Celestia smiled at her. “Please, continue to send me your friendship reports, they are a wonderful thing to read. Until next time, Twilight.” And with that, the princess left, leaving Twilight in the throne room alone. She breathed a heavy sigh, turning to leave herself before finding her path blocked by a tall, blue alicorn.

“P-princess Luna!” Twilight bowed.

“There is no need for formality right now Twilight Sparkle, we’ve come to speak to you about something urgent.”

Twilight’s ear twitched and she rose. “I-is it about Nemesis?”

“Partly.” Luna glanced around the room to ensure they were alone before speaking again. “We overheard your conversation with my sister. Do you truly believe that Ellura is worth looking into?”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “B-but, Princess Celestia said—”

“Our sister’s mind is clouded by her personal vendetta against our age old enemy.” Luna said, her face hard. “We have known our sister to be blind to things, but never have we seen her so enamoured with the task of apprehending an enemy that she would turn a blind eye to the suffering.”

Twilight blinked. “What do you mean?”

“We are the Princess of the Night, Twilight Sparkle. It is our solemn vow to keep a watchful eye on things that, how you say, ‘go bump in the night.’ That includes both the physical world, and the mental.”

Twilight cocked her head to the side. “I don't understand…”

“Dreams, Twilight Sparkle. And over the course of the last week, we have indeed seen some dreams that...cause us to worry. More so even recently, if the dreamer is any indication.”

“Who were the dreamers?” Twilight leaned forward a bit. Luna looked saddened.

“The Cutie Mark Crusaders, along with who we believe is your assistant, Spike.”

Twilight blanched. “What?! He’s been having nightmares? Why didn’t he tell me?!” She began to make her way to the door. “Oooh, when I get my hooves on that dragon for keeping such a secret from me—”

“We fear he did not get the chance, as these dreams were not over the course of the recent week, but rather all in one night. Last night, to be specific.”

Twilight stopped, turning around the look at Luna. “But that’s when he went to Rarity’s.”

“We fear you have been mislead. If his dreams are any indication, we believe that he, along with the Cutie Mark Crusaders have been...abducted.”

Twilight felt her heart rate sky rocket almost immediately. “What? I need to get back then, we need to figure out who’s responsible for this!”

Luna extended a hoof, as if to stop her. “Please Twilight, wait. We understand your concern for their safety, we are equally as worried. However, rushing into this without thinking things through first will cause more harm than good.”

Twilight looked about to say something, but she took a deep breath, and calmed herself down. “W-what do you suggest?”

Luna lowered her hoof, her face growing stern. “The context of the dreams I have seen is...worrisome. Though not entirely crystal clear, we believe that Ellura may have something to do with their abduction.”

Twilight’s jaw hit the floor. “What?! What would they want three fillies and a baby dragon for?”

“That is what worries us.” Princess Luna said, stepping towards Twilight as she spoke. “Our sister has asked you to refrain from your investigation, but we implore you Twilight Sparkle, to ignore one’s gut feeling is to welcome yourself into death’s embrace. We ask that you return to Ponyville, but do not linger. Gather what is necessary and head for Manehattan.”

“But what about Spike?” Twilight paced, beginning to panic. “What about the Cutie Mark Crusaders? We can’t just forget about them!”

“Nor shall we.” Luna said, smiling warmly. “I will go to Ponyville once nightfall comes, and I myself will assist in the search for the three young fillies and the baby dragon.”

Twilight looked taken back, staring at Princess Luna with a newfound respect. “You’d...you’d do that for us?”

“The mere fact that such a heinous act occurred under the cover of our night is one of the greatest insults that we can think of.” Luna frowned deeply. “We would be more than happy to help right the wrongs that occurred under our watch.”

“Princess Luna...I...I…” Twilight rushed forward suddenly, embracing Luna in as big a hug as she could muster. “Thank you…”

Luna looked taken by surprise but smiled and hugged Twilight back. When they released, Luna’s face was hard. “Go. There isn’t anymore time to waste.”

With a look of determination, Twilight rushed out of the hall, galloping towards the train station. Luna watched her, releasing a heavy sigh as she went. “Makers be with you, Twilight Sparkle…”

~Everfree Forest~

“Ya’ll think they really coulda gone this far in?” Applejack glanced around at the trees. Though there weren’t faces on them anymore, they still cast ominous shadows on the ground around them as they trotted, that combined with the glimpses she occasionally caught of eyes staring at them from the shadows made her feel very unsettled.

“Oooo, with how Sweetie Belle and her friends act when they’re together I bet they went much farther than this!” Rarity spoke, her horn lighting up and repelling the dark pathway in front of them.

“She’s right,” Rainbow Dash spoke, diving down from the tree tops above them as she fluttered lazily in the air above her two friends. “If it hadn’t been for other ponies saying that they’d seen them go in here, I’d probably be looking up in Cloudsdale or something. You never know where those three will end up.”

“I just wish Spike would have exercised some control over them. I really don’t want them coming out into the forest, especially so late at night.”

The three ponies eventually came to a small clearing, the flickering in Rarity’s horn growing more frequent as they neared a bush.

“Okay you three, game’s over!” Rainbow Dash rushed at the bush, crashing into it and coming clean out the other side. Rather than three fillies though, she held something else in her hooves.

“Those are the capes that Sweetie Belle made for them!” Rarity looked like she was beginning to panic. “But...why would they abandon them in the middle of the forest like this…?”

“That’s not all.” Applejack spoke, her hoof gliding over the ground and some of the surrounding trees. “It looks like there’s been a struggle here…”

Rarity shook her head like mad. “No no no! You aren’t suggesting…!”

“There ain’t a trace of blood, Rarity.” Applejack spoke, growing from the frightened, cautious mare she was a second ago into a more stern, commanding presence. “But something definitely has happened to ‘em. Rarity, I don’t suppose you have another spell that will help us track ‘em down?”

Rarity shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. “I was tracking them down using the capes they were wearing...but now I…” she began to sob. “Sweetie Belle…”

Rainbow Dash landed next to her. “Well, sitting here and bawling like a filly isn’t going to solve anything! Let’s get other ponies to help! The more of us there are, the easier it will be to find them!”

The three nodded and started to trot back towards town, but the sound of a growl stopped them.

A Timberwolf crept out of the shadows of the trees, its mouth drooling blood. Its eyes and torso shone with a red light very unlike the other Timberwolves that the three had encountered before, and it looked very, very hungry. With a growl, it leapt straight for the most vulnerable of them it could see. Rarity.

“Look out!” Rainbow Dash rushed into her, knocking them both out of the way. The Timberwolf wasn’t deterred, it landed, then turned and made to jump for them again. Rainbow Dash only had time to cringe and brace herself.

Then Applejack was there, her hind hooves raised as she smashed them into the incoming Timberwolf as hard as she could, sending it into a nearby tree where it shattered from the impact. The three breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“Okay, what the hay was that?!” Rainbow Dash spoke, shooting into the air. “I’ve never seen one glowing red before!”

“Ah don’t know Sugarcube,” Applejack said, beginning to back away as the twigs and branches from the Timberwolf’s shattered body began to rebuild itself. “But somethin’ tells me this ain’t over jus’ yet.”

As if on cue, the Timberwolf sprang back to life, making a leap for the apple mare. It was intercepted in mid air by Rainbow Dash, who smashed it into the ground, causing it to break apart again.

“And stay down!” Rainbow Dash shouted, her breathing heavy.

Heedless of her words, the Timberwolf rebuilt itself yet again, twice as fast as before. The glow in its eyes and torso were brighter, and it only offered a prolonged snarl of rage before throwing itself at the prismatic mare, who took to the air to dodge the attack. The Timberwolf made a jump to grab her tail with its mouth, but she pulled it up and out of harm’s way.

The Timberwolf began circling below, oblivious to the orange mare rushing up to it. At the last second, the Timberwolf turned and saw the incoming threat. Instead of rushing to meet the mare though, it dodged, jumping out of the way.

This took Applejack by surprise, and she stumbled. Timberwolves had never shown intelligence like that before.

Seeing his opportunity, the Timberwolf licked its chops and jumped. Rainbow Dash shot towards it, but she could tell from the distance, there’s no way she’d make it in time…

A blue flash lit up the area, and the Timberwolf was thrown high into the air. He briefly gained airtime before beginning to fall, straight onto the sharp extended branch of a nearby tree.

There was a gruesome sound, one that should not come from something made of wood, as the Timberwolf’s chest was impaled on the tree. It let out a howl of agony, struggling briefly as blood leaked from the wound. Slowly, the struggles became less and less, and then the red light in its eyes and chest began to go dim. it could only offer a choked and painful sounding snarl at the mares before it went dark, going limp on the branch.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at Rarity, whose horn was still aglow with magic. She didn’t practice offensive spells very often, but she learned some from Twilight in case she ever needed to defend herself or her friends. She never thought that she’d have to use it, and she definitely did not believe it would do what it just did.

“O-oh my Celestia…” she put a hoof to her mouth, her eyes unmoving from the body she’d just impaled on the tree. “What have I done…”

Rainbow Dash and Applejack shared a glance before trotting over to Rarity. “You saved me, Sugarcube.”

“Yeah Rarity, it had to be done.”

Rarity didn’t seem to hear them, her gaze was still stuck on the thing she’d just killed.

“Sugarcube, we need to go. The other ponies need to know about this, and we need to find Sweetie Belle and the others.”

Her sister’s name snapped her out of her daze, and Rarity stood shakily to her hooves. “You’re right… let’s go.”

The three mares ran from the forest, leaving the freshly dead body of the mysterious Timberwolf behind.

~Nemesis~

Color blended into solidity as I touched down on the floor to Zecora’s hut again. She uttered a cry at my sudden appearance, blinking a few times.

I glanced down, seeing that my feet had smashed right through her floor and into the ground below her house.

Oh...uh...sorry?

She only gave me an annoyed look, before smiling again.

“Do not worry about it my friend. That will be rather easy to mend. I would rather hear about where you went, benign, I hope, was your intent?”

I nodded. I just went to help someone out, and I made a new friend in the process. Unconsciously, I glanced down to the gloves that Gilgamesh had given me, before reaching over and scratching Zecora behind the ear. Her ears went flat against her head and a happy look came over her face. God, you have no idea how much I’ve been wanting to do that.

“The time for trial has passed, though I hope that lovely gesture will not be the last.”

She set down a cup of tea in front of me, which I accepted gratefully. I drank it the only way I could, pouring it all into my mouth in one go. If she was appalled by my table manners, she didn’t say anything as she took a sip from her own cup.

Now let me get something straight, inhabiting the body of what’s basically a zombie isn’t easy. You have to learn to go without a few things.Taste buds, for one, was one thing I’d fully accepted not having again. And while I’d eaten prepared meals in the past, albeit messily, there was always that craving I’d had for raw flesh. It sounds disgusting, I know, but it’s hard to resist the instincts of something you didn’t belong in in the first place.

But this? This tea, that I held in my hand? I don’t know if she’d enchanted it or something but I could taste it. If I had the ability to cry, I’d be crying right now. This was the most god damned delicious thing I’d had in a long long time. I quickly poured myself another cup and downed that one too. Zecora chuckled.

“I see the allure of tea is not so easily resisted, even by one whose physique is so twisted.”

I only grunted in response, and then only after had I downed about four cups of the tea, did I speak. That...was...incredible! I took a moment to compose myself, my tone growing serious. But look, I came to tell you, I’m leaving the forest. Going to Manehattan.

At her questioning look I sighed. It’s actually probably safer if you didn’t know, but I just wanted to tell you to be careful. I’ve got a feeling there’s more than just your typical Everfree creatures roaming around lately. I was also hoping, maybe if you have any kind of map that could help me get to where I’m going…?

Wordlessly, the zebra stood up from the table and walked off, returning with a rolled up map. she spoke as she hoofed it to me. “I will keep an eye on things, but I also ask you to be cautious of what the future brings.” I nodded, taking the map as I ruffled her mane again. God, I still couldn’t get over being able to do that without risk of infecting someone. Thanks Gilgy!

I will return Zecora, keep safe, and try to get out of your hut more. Spending this much time in a room full of what’s basically drugs can’t be good for anyone. She frowned at me again, but I had already stepped out of her hut and into the Everfree. My happy mood forgotten for the moment, I quickly leapt high into the air to begin my trip to Manehattan. Zecora was right, I didn’t know what the future held, but if things went my way, there was going to be hell to pay…

...Damnit, I was spending way too much damn time around that Zebra.

Author's Notes:

I'm beginning to run out of star puns.

In other news, you see that green text in Nemesis' part in the beginning? You should click that, leads to a rather amazing story.

Sorry this one took so long to update, and as always let me know what you like/didn't like!

Star-tling Revelations

Twilight was already on her way off of the train before it came to a complete stop at the Ponyville train station. She got a few complaints from some ponies, but she ignored them and quickly exited the train. Relief washed over her as she saw her friends, all waiting for her once she got off.

“Girls!” Twilight rushed up to them, and they all quickly embraced in a group hug. “Girls, I have something I need to tell you!”

“Us too!” Rainbow Dash said, causing Applejack and Rarity to nod their heads in agreement.

“Ooo, are you guys planning some kind of surprise for us? I like surprises!” Pinkie Pie jumped up and down in place in blissful glee.

“Rainbow Dash asked Pinkie and me to meet up here with you girls.” Fluttershy explained, hiding behind her mane when all eyes shifted to her. “I hope it’s not a surprise...I don’t like surprises…” she whimpered.

“Not quite.” Twilight sighed, closing her eyes for a moment to catch a breath. The events of the past day and a half had really taken its toll on her. “Girls, I think the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Spike have been...kidnapped.”

A collective gasp was voiced by Pinkie and Fluttershy, but Rainbow, Rarity, and Applejack just looked grim.

“We know sugarcube, that’s what we wanted to tell y’all.” Applejack had bags under her eyes, almost as if she hadn’t slept in a while. “We started a search and got everypony in town in on it. Ah didn’t even sleep last night, ah was so worried.”

“Me neither.” Rarity voiced. She was smiling, trying to remain strong for her friends but Twilight could see the sadness behind her eyes. “I can’t allow myself to rest while my little sister is in danger. We’ve been looking nonstop, but we haven’t found any leads. I can only hope that they are safe…”

“Don’t worry about it Rarity!” Rainbow Dash spoke, looking smug. “They’re tough, I’m sure whoever kidnapped them has their hooves full with them enough as it is!”

“That may very well be the case,” Twilight said, smiling a bit. “Because I think I may know who took them.”

A collective gasp came from the group, followed by a chorus saying, “You do?!”

“Yes.” Twilight looked back towards Canterlot. “Princess Luna told me that she feared something had happened to them, and I was going to come back here to help search, but then she told me of her dream walking abilities.” At the looks of confusion from her friends, Twilight explained. “It’s a spell that allows you to enter ponies dreams. Princess Luna makes it her job to dispel nightmares.” The group nodded.

“So what’s this you said about knowing who took them?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“I think… Well, Princess Luna thinks, that Ellura might have had something to do with it.”

A series of different reactions came from the group, ranging from, “Ellura?” “Oh no!” to, “Those dirty rotten…!”

“She also asked me, rather than coming back to help with the search for them, to go to their base in Manehattan and do some investigating.”

“Sugarcube, as much as I’d love to go teach those varmints a lesson or two if they are the one who took our sisters, we can’t just stop searchin’. What if they’re not in Manehattan?”

“Princess Luna addressed that too,” Twilight spoke, smiling a bit. “she’s coming to Ponyville to help with the search.”

The rest of the group seemed surprised, silent for a moment. “Wow, Princess Luna’s doing all of that for us?” Rarity asked, seeming genuinely surprised.

“That’s awful nice of her,” Applejack said, looking back at Twilight with a smile. “What about Princess Celestia? How is she helping us?”

Twilight grew silent before looking away. “I don’t think she knows that anypony was kidnapped...I originally went to Canterlot to ask her more about Nemesis, but...well… she told me to forget about it. To not ask any questions, because Nemesis is an enemy.”

“She seems mighty bent on bringing Nemesis down.” Applejack spoke, frowning deeply.

“Yeah...it’s strange, all throughout the time I’ve known her I’ve never seen her act this way. She seems so...consumed with the thought of catching him. It’s very unlike her.” Twilight looked to her friends with worry.

“What made you more curious about Nemesis all of a sudden?” Rarity asked, putting a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder.

“Well girls...two nights ago, Nemesis...he paid me a visit.”

A collective “WHAT?!” came from the group.

“Was that the same night ah walked you home?” Applejack stomped her hoof. “Consarn it sugarcube, why didn’t y’all say somethin’?!”

“If I had said anything, he would have just run away anyways,” Twilight said, looking a bit saddened by Applejack’s sudden attitude. “The strangest part about it was that he didn’t try to hurt me. He just wanted to ask me about Ellura. And when I asked him why he was doing the things he was doing, he told me to ask the Princesses.”

“Well, question asking or no, that uncouth ruffian is nothing but trouble.” Rarity turned her nose up in the air with an accompanying “Humph.”

“Yeah Twi, you should have just called us over, we could have come back with the elements lickety split and this would all be over!” Rainbow Dash said.
“But he wasn’t being aggressive!” Twilight stamped her hoof. “It’s so unlike what the Princesses told me he was like, I had to look into it!”

“Ooooh! Oooh! Maybe he just REALLY likes to bake! I wonder if there’s any kind of star-shaped candy…” Pinkie began mumbling to herself, her tongue stuck out one side of her mouth as she began to think.

“Uhm...maybe he’s nice deep down…?” Fluttershy hid further behind her mane. “Buthe’ssoscarylookingandthatthinghecarriesaroundmakesreallyloudnoisesandIdon’tlikeit…” she added quickly and almost inaudibly.

“I don’t know…” Rainbow Dash added, looking at Twilight with an unsure expression.

“Look y’all, either way the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Spike are our priority right now. Twilight, y’all said you had to go to Manehattan?”

Twilight nodded. “Princess Luna wants me to go there and look into them, and after I grab some things from my library that’s exactly where I’m going.”

“Oh! Can I come with you?!” Pinkie suddenly bounced at Twilight’s side.

“That’s actually not a bad idea darling.” Rarity spoke up, smiling. “I don’t think any of us like the idea of you going in there alone if they are the ones who kidnapped my sister and her friends. You should take two of us with you.”

Suddenly, much to everyone’s surprise, Fluttershy stepped up. “Uhm...I’ll..g-go.”

“Woohoo, Fluttershy!” Pinkie suddenly shot over to Fluttershy, embracing her in a gigantic bear hug.

“Wait. FLUTTERSHY, volunteering to go somewhere possibly dangerous?!” Rainbow Dash suddenly shot over to the yellow pegasus and came face to face with her. “Who are you and what have you done with our friend?!”

Fluttershy flailed in Pinkie’s grip for a minute before the two separated. “Uhm...well...everypony is working so hard to find them.” Fluttershy looked towards Ponyville. “And while I can get my animal friends to help, I myself can’t do much. And...well, I don’t want to just sit around while my friends are in danger.”

“That’s…” Rainbow Dash blinked, before landing and smiling at Fluttershy. “..actually really brave of you, Fluttershy.” Fluttershy smiled and turned her head away in her usual fashion.

“Do y’all know when Princess Luna is gettin’ here sugarcube?” Applejack spoke up to Twilight.

“Not for certain, but it shouldn’t be long now. It’s late morning here, but I’d say once she’s done raising the moon this evening she’ll be over, we’ll probably be halfway to Manehattan by then.”

“So, it’s goodbye for now then?” Rarity asked with a slight frown on her face. Twilight gave her a sad smile.

“Yes. For now.” The six friends came close and group hugged again before separating. “Stay safe, girls.”

“You too!” Rainbow Dash called after Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy as they rushed to get their things so they could catch the train to Manehattan.

~Rainbow Dash~

It hadn’t taken long for nightfall to come. or at least, to Rainbow Dash it didn’t. She had led a group of pegasi on a fly-over of the Everfree Forest to see if they could find any more signs of the CMC or Spike, but to no avail. Once it got dark out, she flew back to the train station to join Rarity and Applejack.

“Anything?” Rainbow asked, landing and folding in her wing.

“Can’t say so,” Applejack said, frowning.

“My attempts have also proved fruitless.” Rarity said in her usual sophisticated tone.

“All of the pegasi flocks are coming up dry too,” Rainbow said, sitting down on her flank. “I don’t suppose any of the other ponies had any luck?”

At Rarity and Applejack’s shaking of their heads, Rainbow Dash sighed and looked at her hooves.

“I wonder when Princess Luna will get here.”

“We are already here.” Rainbow, Applejack, and Rarity looked up in surprise. The moon suddenly became brighter, and before their very eyes, Princess Luna descended to them in a ray of moonlight with such grace that it left the three friends in shock.

The midnight blue alicorn touched down onto the train station, giving the three ponies a warm smile. “Do not bother yourselves with me, Element Bearers. There is still a job we must do.”

Rainbow shook her head. “Right. Princess, I don’t suppose you know of a spell or some kind of a technique that will help us track down the Cutie Mark Crusaders, do you?”

Princess Luna looked deep in thought, before she asked, “It depends. What were you using to track them down before?”

“Oh!” Rarity spoke up, then dashed off for a moment. When she returned, she carried the CMC’s capes on her back. “I was using a spell similar to the one that helps me find diamonds,” Rarity explained, dropping the capes before Princess Luna. “Only, instead of gemstones I used it to find the fabric Sweetie Belle used to make these capes. I don’t suppose you…?”

Wordlessly, Luna lifted the capes in her magical gripped and closed her eyes. Her horn glowed brighter, and when she opened her eyes again, they were glowing a dark blue. She blinked, and her eyes returned to normal. Then she bore a look of determination on her face, before suddenly rising into the air.
“Come.” She spoke, flying off down the train tracks. The three friends exchanged a look before following the Princess of the Night.

~Twilight Sparkle~

It hadn’t taken them as long to reach Manehattan as it had for her to reach Canterlot. If Twilight had to guess, she’d say the ride lasted about two and a half hours. “Okay girls, we need to find the Ellura facility here in Manehattan. I can tell them I’m here on royal business and ask them to give me a tour.”

“Oooooh! I love tours! I wonder if they’ll have complimentary cupcakes?” Pinkie trotted off the train, quickly followed by Fluttershy.

“Uhm...maybe if we just ask them nicely—” The rest of what she said to Pinkie was lost to Twilight as the train blared its horn.

Before Twilight left, she gave a tip to the stallion who had let her aboard the train at least three times today. He had given her a discounted price the third time. “Thank you for putting up with me.” She smiled before following her friends.

Manehattan was big. Twilight had never been here herself, though she had indeed heard talk that it was the biggest city in Equestria, it escaped her just how ponies could build something so huge.

Stallion-pulled carriages whisked back and forth across the street, and ponies who looked like they were eager to get somewhere in a hurry trotted to and fro, paying the three no mind. Pinkie was busy saying “Hi!” to every pony that passed, while Fluttershy hid behind Twilight.

“Excuse me, if you could just—” she got a mean look.”If you could just point us in the direction of—” A huff. “If I could just have a moment of your time—” She turned to ask another pony, but instead came face to face with Pinkie Pie.

“Oh! Hi Twilight!” Twilight backed up a bit and huffed.

“No one here is going to give us directions. How do we—”

“Maybe if we check that map over there?” Pinkie pointed across the street. There, a map of Manehattan was posted on a large billboard, with the words “YOU ARE HERE” accompanied by an arrow pointing to their exact location in the city.

Twilight face hoofed. “How did I miss that…”

It just took a quick look at the map and an idea of where they were going to reach their destination. The facility was impressive, to say the least. A large, black dome-like building, the roof of which seemed just like a gigantic skylight. A long row of doors made up the front of the facility with large glowing letters that spelled out “Ellura Corp.” above the doors. Twilight could see that there were guards guarding the doors. Celestia must have taken Twilight’s story seriously.

“Just leave it to me, girls.” Twilight and her two friends approached the doors. Upon seeing Twilight, the guards stepped aside and let her pass. She found this a bit odd. Perhaps Princess Luna had talked to them?

When she stepped inside, she was greeted with an enormous room, fit with a tiled floor, several desks, and in the back she could see a set of drapes covering what looked like a laboratory. In front of her there was a large desk, behind which sat an earth pony with a light purple coat and a white mane, a pencil on her flank served as her cutie mark. When she noticed the three mares, she looked up at them, adjusting a set of glasses she had on her face.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes. You see, my name is Twilight Sparkle, and these are my friends Pinkie Pie,” as soon as she said the pink mare’s name, Pinkie Pie shot up to the desk.

“Hi! What’s your name? My name’s Pinkie Pie! Though I guess you already knew that. Anyhow, what’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite food? Do you l—” she was quickly hushed as Twilight put a hoof over her mouth and pushed her back, leaving a very surprised looking desk clerk.

“And this is my friend Fluttershy.” At the mention of her name, Fluttershy backed up a bit and hid behind her mane. “Uhm...nice to meet you…”

The desk clerk nodded and looked back to Twilight. “And how, Miss Sparkle, can the Ellura Corporation assist you today?”

“Well, you see I was actually hoping we could be given a tour.”

“A tour?” The mare opened a nearby notebook and began leafing through it, frowning. “We’re in our hours of operations right now, we usually don’t give tours around then. May I ask what this is for?”

Twilight stuck her chest out. “Princess Celestia has taken an interest in the methods that you use to develop the vaccines, and I’m rather interested in your company as a whole. I don’t suppose it would be too much trouble to ask to be given a tour of the facility while you are in the depth of your work, so we might see how it’s done?”

The mare looked nervous for a moment. Twilight hoped she believed her lie about Princess Celestia taking an interest, as that was about as far from the truth as she could get.

“I suppose that would explain why the guards let you in… let me see if I can get one of our assistants to help you.”

As she walked away, Fluttershy stepped up to Twilight’s side. “You really think this’ll work Twilight?”

“Yeah!” Pinkie spoke up, bouncing up to Twilight’s other side. “If they’ve got something to hide, they’re not just gonna show us all the super-secret secrets!”

“I don’t know girls, but I have to try.” Just then, a tan unicorn with a pair of glasses and an azure mane approached the three.

“I understand you three were looking for a tour?”

Twilight looked the pony over. He was dressed in a lab coat, his cutie mark covered up. He was tall, taller than any of the mares, and he had an aura of authority about him. Twilight had a feeling this was one of the ponies in charge. “Yes, we were mister…?”

“Tube. Test Tube.” The pony’s tone was cold, and uncaring, as if there were a million other things he’d rather be doing. “And as I understand it you are Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, so if you’d be so kind, let’s not waste times with the formalities yes? I have a lot of work that needs to be done.” He stepped aside, motioning to the area they should go with a hoof. “This way, if you please?” The three mares began trotting towards the lab area obscured by the curtains. “Though it is at a rather inconvenient time, we do, of course, welcome our Princess’s curiosity with open arms, and are delighted that they would like to learn more about our work.” His tone sounded bored, and monotone, like he had repeated this same line a million times before. Twilight Sparkle had a sneaking suspicion that this pony meant absolutely none of what he was saying.

“In just a moment I will take you to our labs, where we can look at some of our most gifted researchers as they—” there was a sudden crash from behind the curtains, and Test Tube stopped cold.

“If you’ll excuse me for a moment,” He whispered, and darted behind the curtains. There was yelling, and several stallions talking though Twilight couldn’t make out any of it.

“Oh my… I hope they’re not hurting anyone!” Fluttershy held a hoof to her mouth.

“I hope not either…” Twilight mumbled, raising a hoof to push the curtain aside…

Just then, Test Tube re-emerged, his face the same unreadable expression he had worn before entering into the lab. “I apologize for the interruption, but would also most appreciate it if tour guests did not venture into areas without a tour guide.” Test Tube glared at Twilight’s outstretched hoof. She quickly lowered it, her face growing a little red.

“Sorry.”

“Noted. Now if you’ll be so kind as to follow me.”

The mares followed Test Tube into the lab. It wasn’t anything extraordinary Twilight noticed, white walls with researchers in similar white colors looking at some sort of tissue sample through a microscope, or tending to various machines around the room.

“Here is where we develop most of our products. Our researchers work day and night to develop cures for most of the things that ail pony-kind. From something as simple as the common cold to something far more serious, like cancer.”

Pinkie Pie bounced over to a row of multicolored test-tubes lined up in a rack against the wall. “Oooh...pretty…” she reached out a hoof to touch one. Suddenly, Test Tube slapped her hoof away and glared at her. “Don’t touch that! As a matter of fact, don’t touch anything in here. This is all very unstable equipment and many of the liquids in here are at a critical state. Even the slightest touch could spell disaster!”

Pinkie’s lower lip quivered as she stared at him. “I-I’m sorry…” Test Tube sighed deeply, before speaking again. “Whatever. Come.”

As they trotted through the labs, watching ponies flit to and fro, Twilight couldn’t help but notice some of the researchers casting them nervous glances and scooting a little closer to their work, as if they were afraid Twilight might try to sneak a peek at what they were working on.

“Mr. Tube, I have to ask—”

“Yes, what is it?” Test Tube’s patience sounded thin.

“Where exactly do you acquire samples to test the effects of your ‘vaccines’ on?”

Test Tube stopped, turning back to face her. His expression was, as usual, unreadable. But as he stared down the smaller unicorn, Twilight could have sworn she saw the tiniest flicker of fear in his eyes for a moment.

“Miss Sparkle, you understand when I tell you we are not allowed to disclose such information to visitors, however I can assure you that we are advocates of peace, and would never take something that is not willingly given to us.”

Twilight blinked at that response. She was about to ask more, but Test Tube was already trotting away.

Test Tube was explaining some of the different machinery and introducing different researchers, but Twilight’s mind was on how the researchers reacted, and Test Tube’s reaction when Pinkie almost touched a vial of some kind of strange liquid.

“Uhm...excuse me but, what’s back here?” Fluttershy pointed to a door that said “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY, NO ACCESS WITHOUT PERMISSIONS”

“That,” Test Tube answered, quickly moving to block their view of the door. “Is the area where we test some of our more...unstable chemicals. It is very dangerous, and thus I don’t recommend we go back there. Moving on…” The rest of the tour went relatively quickly, in what Twilight could only describe as a practiced routine. It wasn’t long before she found herself and her friends being walked back to the front door.

“Do you have anymore questions?” Test Tube asked, sounding relieved.

“No, I think you’ve adequately sated our curiosity.”

“Good. In that case, have a lovely evening ladies.” And with that, he was gone, leaving the three mares to leave on their own.

“I don’t like him.” Pinkie spoke up suddenly, surprising even Twilight. Twilight though Pinkie liked every pony she came in contact with.

“He was...mean.” Fluttershy spoke, turning away as soon as the words left her mouth.

“Yes, they’re definitely hiding something. And I don’t think we’re going to find out what it is by playing by their rules.” Twilight walked forward a little bit, deep in thought.

“Whaddya mean Twilight?”

Pinkie asked, tilting her head to the side.

“Girls,” Twilight spoke, turning to face them with a frown. “Tonight, we’re going to sneak in there and find out what they’re hiding.”

Fluttershy and Pinkie gulped simultaneously.

Author's Notes:

No Nemesis this chapter, this was mostly a set-up for the next chapter, which is going to be big.

That said, I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I don't dislike it, but at the same time I feel like it could have been better.

Star-ving for Vengeance [Part I]

~Applejack~

“Princess, Rainbow, wait up!” Princess Luna and Rainbow Dash came to a stop in the air as Applejack trotted up behind them with Rarity sprawled across her back. Normally Applejack would reprimand Rarity for being lazy, but the fashionista certainly was not used to running for this long, and Applejack had begun to carry her when she collapsed. Surprisingly, she had not once complained about it.

“Can we jus’...” the farm mare took a deep breath. “...wait for a second?” The four ponies had been travelling on hoof nonstop since Luna had raised the moon, and the first glimmers of dawn were beginning to spread across the sky.Applejack was certain that they were farther away from Ponyville than they were from their destination now. They had to be...

Princess Luna circled once before landing. “Art thou well, fair Applejack?” She sounded concerned.

“Ah’m fine, princess. Ah jus’ need a second…” She coughed.

Rainbow landed nearby. “Oh, c’mon AJ! After all those times you’ve gloated about being a better runner than me, now you’re letting me down?”

“You were FLYIN’ RD.” AJ glared at her friend. “An’ I ain’t got no way to rest my hooves. Some of us don’t have a fluffy pair o’ wings that we can resort to when our legs get tired, an’ you ain’t got to carry another pony on your back.”

Rainbow gave AJ a bemused expression, and looked about to respond when Princess Luna suddenly cut in. “We believe we have located the fiend.”

“Really?!” Rarity suddenly jolted awake, looking at the Princess from atop Applejack’s back. “Where is he?! Ooooh when I get my hooves on him I’ll—”

“Calm yourself, Miss Rarity,” Luna spoke again, looking into the distance. “We are going to need answers when we find him. I need everypony to close their eyes.”

When they complied, Luna closed her eyes as well, her horn glowing very, very bright, then the ponies vanished from sight in a dark blue flash.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Applejack’s whole body tingled for just a moment, and when she saw a second flash, she resisted the urge to open her eyes.

“You may open them now.” Applejack opened her eyes, and needed only a moment to take in the very western-esque buildings and landscape silhouetted by the rising sun before saying, “Appleoosa? Princess, why are we here?”

Applejack lowered herself to the ground, allowing Rarity to get off of her back and stand shakily to her hooves.

The fashionista shook herself. “W-we ran all that distance just to…teleport? Why didn’t we do that in the first place?!”

“Ah don’t know about you Rarity,” Applejack whispered. “but ah’d run around the world twice over for Applebloom.”

Luna trotted out into the middle of the road. It was nearing morning, so no ponies were not out and about on the street yet. “I couldn’t determine an exact location just yet,” Luna spoke, glancing back to the elements. “Only when I got close enough did I notice a particularly strong magical residue in this area. I am sorry to have troubled you, Miss Rarity.”

At Applejack’s comment and Luna’s explanation, Rarity’s ears laid flat against her skull and she looked down at her hooves.

“In any case, he may or may not be here. I am certain that criminal spent a good amount of time here recently though, the spell is reacting strongly.” Luna shifted her gaze to some of the nearby buildings.

“I’ll ask around.” Rainbow shot into the air and made her way over to some of the far off structures.

“I as well.” Rarity trotted off into a nearby barber shop. Applejack, however, had something else on her mind.

“Uhm...Your Highness?”

“Hm?” Princess Luna snapped out of whatever trance she had set herself into and turned to face the orange mare. “Yes, fair Applejack?”

“This varmint, you don’t suppose he...hurt mah sister and her friends do you? Are they gonna be okay?” Applejack’s voice was shaky, as if she was afraid of the answer the Princess might give.

Princess Luna frowned deeply before looking up at the sky towards the moon. “We do not think that he has harmed them in any way, not physically at least…”

Applejack blinked. “Wait, ‘not physically?’ What does that mean?”

“It means that, if the images of the Cutie Mark Crusader’s dreams we’ve seen are anything to go by, you may be more worried about your little sister’s mental health than her physical well-being.”

Applejack’s pupils shrank. “Oh no…” She and Luna stood in silence for a moment.

“I got something!” Rainbow Dash’s voice called from the skies above as she touched down close to the two. “Some of the ponies over in the pub told me they’d seen a suspicious looking stallion not from around here heading out of town just the other day!”

“I as well.” Rarity emerged from a nearby building, approaching the three quickly. “The barber’s wife had talked to the stallion in question, heard that he was headed for Manehattan next!”

“Well done, element bearers. We may catch this fiend before too long. Close your eyes once more.”

“Figures that ya’d go straight for the pub, RD,” Applejack said, nudging her friend in the ribs.

“Aw, c’mon AJ!” Dash laughed. But it was a hollow laugh, and one that Applejack shared.

A laugh covering fear.

And then in another dark blue flash, the group of mares was gone once more.

~Twilight Sparkle~

Twilight peeked from around the corner of a building, looking at the massive Ellura building in its entirety. From this angle, the only real entrance she could see were the front doors, but seeing as they were being watched by the guard, that sort of entrance was immediately struck from her mind. They needed to be subtle. “Okay, this is the plan,” Twilight turned to her friends. Pinkie looked excited; Fluttershy, however was cowering.

“Is the p-plan going up to the g-guards and being asked r-reaaaaaaaaally nicely to be let in?”

Twilight deadpanned. “Not exactly. We’re going to circle around and see if we can find a second entrance. If not, I know a spell that’s able to cut through glass, and we can drop down into the building without being detected.”

“Oooh, we’re just like Blueblood’s Angels!” Pinkie jumped up and down excitedly.

Twilight blinked. “What?”

“Ooooh, nothing~” Pinkie grinned.

Twilight rolled her eyes, turning her attention back to the building. When she saw three more ponies leave, she motioned to her two friends with her hoof, and the three mares dashed around the side of the structure. Twilight didn’t immediately see anything, but after a few minutes of trotting, Twilight saw what she was hoping for. A door reading “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY” came into her view. “Bingo,” Twilight mumbled. She grabbed the door handle with her magic, but it wouldn’t give.

“Locked. How do we—” just then, the sound of a doorknob jingling caused Twilight ears to twitch. “Back, get back!” She pushed her friends behind a nearby dumpster, and peeked her head out to watch. The door opened, and a blue stallion in a white lab coat exited the door. He yawned, turning and bumping the wall with his hoof. The wall slid aside, revealing a keypad. The stallion punched some numbers in, and the definitive sound of a lock clicking into place came from the door. The stallion nodded, bumping the wall with his hoof again. The wall slid closed, hiding the keypad once more, and the stallion trotted off.

Once Twilight was sure he was gone, she approached the wall and bumped it with her hoof. Sure enough, a section of the wall slid aside to reveal a keypad. “Numerical code.” Twilight frowned. “I don’t know the combination.”

“Uhm...Twilight, can I try?” Twilight looked over at Fluttershy in surprise, then back at the keypad.

“Oh, uh...sure. I don’t know how the system will react to an incorrect password though, so if an alarm goes off be ready to run, okay?” Fluttershy nodded, then moved in front of the keypad and began pushing buttons with the tip of her muzzle.

With a confirmation beep, the sound of something unlocking could be heard. Twilight, in the meantime, was baffled. “Wha-? How-?”

“Oh, uhm...when you pushed us behind that dumpster, I flew above and peeked down from the roof, watching the numbers the stallion punched in. I don’t like spying but, I thought you might be happy…” Fluttershy traced the ground with a hoof. “I’m sorry…”

“No, no it’s fine. Thank you, Fluttershy.” Twilight said with a smile. Then the three of them slipped inside. They found themselves in the lab, the room they had taken a tour through earlier that day. It was significantly emptier; only a few ponies here and there could be seen. Twilight held a hoof to her mouth and made a soft ‘shhh’ sound as she very quietly closed the door. Her friends nodded in understanding. They slowly made their way along the wall, careful to keep low and below the tables so as to not be seen.

Twilight could see the door that Fluttershy had pointed out earlier, the door that read “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY, NO ACCESS WITHOUT PERMISSION.” Her eyes narrowed. “We need to get into that door somehow. I don’t think it’s ‘unstable chemicals’ that they’re hiding in there,” Twilight said in a hushed tone. Her two friends nodded, and Twilight very carefully made her way to the door. She was about to try the handle, when the door very suddenly began to open on its own.

Twilight quickly pulled her two friends behind the door as it opened. “Did you get the results of the experiment yet? I understand two new strains of the chemical were used in it today.”

“Nothing significant, unfortunately. There haven’t been any different responses than the first one we acquired. Though subject A was showing some progress, I fear it won’t be useable for much longer.”

“That’s the one that had the newest strain applied to it right? I wonder if…” the two stallion’s voices faded into the distance as they trotted out of Twilight’s range of hearing. Twilight couldn’t help but wonder what they were talking about, but she pushed it out of her mind for now. She caught the door before it closed with her magic and quickly motioned for Pinkie and Fluttershy to rush inside. She followed quickly behind them, closing the door quietly and giving no indication that three mares had just slipped into a place they would not forget anytime soon…

~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~

Darkness. Everything around her was pitch black. “Girls, can you hear me?”

“Y-yes…” Twilight heard Fluttershy’s timid voice.

“Present!” Pinkie’s higher pitched voice pierced through the inky blackness. Twilight concentrated, and the area was lit up with a bright purple glow.

Twilight took a moment to get a grasp on their surroundings. Some sort of haze obscured her forward view so she could only see about five feet in front of her, but she could see pipes running along the walls to their sides, a metal floor beneath their hooves, and a metal staircase descending down into the darkness. Every so often, a puff of steam would shoot in front of them from one of the pipes, obscuring their view even more. “Come on, girls.” Twilight’s voice was shaky, but she wanted to get to the bottom of this. Pinkie wasn’t even her usual bouncy self, and she followed Twilight with a cautiousness that Twilight didn’t even know that she possesed. Fluttershy slowly followed them from behind.

The sound of hooves on metal echoed in the seemingly endless metal abyss as the trio continued their trek downwards until the path ahead split. One way went into a room with a large, cylindrical glass structure with some sort of murky liquid in it, and the other path continued into the darkness. Twilight looked at the path continuing downwards, then at the room that this path branched into. She narrowed her eyes for a moment, before motioning the girls to follow her into the room.

“T-Twilight, this seems like a really bad idea…” Fluttershy mumbled under her breath, but followed all the same. As Twilight emerged into the room, she found that the glass tube she saw from a distance wasn’t the only one in the room. Lining the wall were about 12 more, all filled with the same murky liquid. Twilight could have sworn she saw movement just beyond her veil of sight, but she couldn’t be certain.

“Fluttershy, we need to find out what they’re up to. If this can help us open the Princess’ eyes, then I want to be thorough with it.” Carefully, Twilight approached a computer monitor that was linked to the tubes by a series of cables. On it, Twilight could make out the outline of a vaguely pony-shaped specimen, and on the monitor it read ‘SUBJECT A’ Twilight’s mind began to race as her pupils shrank. “Girls...I think they’re experimenting on poni—” just then, a very loud ‘thunk’ came from the glass tube. Twilight froze and turned towards it slowly. On the glass, beyond the veil of the murky liquid, was something that defied everything Twilight thought she knew. It was a scaly, clawed hoof. Scaly as in the entire hoof was literally covered with tan, spiny scales, jutting out from the hoof itself as well as what little Twilight could make of its leg. Twilight had a feeling, if she tried to touch it, it would cut her badly.

That’s not what really scared her though. What caused her mind to go into a panic was the eye above the hoof, the eye that was staring right at her. The eye whose pupil quickly narrowed into a slit.

Twilight let out a yell and stumbled backwards. Her friends were rooted to the spot.

“What is that?!” Pinke sounded scared, Fluttershy was shaking. Then, the unimaginable. The glass tube began to crack around the thing’s hoof.

“Oh no…” Twilight didn’t stop to turn around to get a look at the thing as she heard the glass shatter, she just pushed her friends and started to run. A run that lasted of all about two seconds before she felt something smack into her and force her on her back.

Above her stood a monster Twilight hoped to never see again. It looked like a pony, but the familiar shape was offset by what made up its ‘fur’. Rather than fur or skin, the creature had millions of very sharp, deadly looking scales. Its entire body was a weapon. Razor sharp fangs lined its mouth, and two miniature dragon-like wings extended on either side of it. Its scales were tan in color, and they all bristled and moved as the creature made a sound akin to a hiss, its eye narrowing to a slit once more as it stared down at Twilight. She didn’t have time to think, and she couldn’t move. She could only stare in horror as the thing licked its fangs and slowly lowered them towards her face…

Then a pink pair of hooves smashed into its side and it was sent flying, the sound of glass shattering as it crashed into another tube. warm liquid flowed underneath of Twilight, and she barely registered the alarms and Pinkie yelling at her before she snapped out of her trance.

“Twilight!!” Pinkie yelled, pulling the unicorn up off the floor with all her might. “We need to go! They’ll be here any minute!” Twilight shook her head and blinked. She looked back, and immediately wished she hadn’t. There were now two of those monsters laying side by side, rising to their hooves once again as they hissed. Twilight didn’t need to be told twice. She, Pinkie, and Fluttershy quickly ran from the room.

Only to be met with a wall of glowing horns, and a very upset looking Test Tube.

“You should have minded your own business, Miss Sparkle.”

Twilight barely had time to call to her friends before she felt something being forced over her head, and her world was reduced to blackness. She fought,and struggled, but whatever had her was far stronger than her, and whatever they had placed over her head was rendering her magic useless. She could make out words being said, like “How did they get in here?!” and “Where have the test subjects gone?!” But other than that, much of it was muffled. Finally, the bag was pulled off of her head. In front of her, she could see a small room with grey, concrete walls. She only had time to take in that much before she was thrown in rather harshly, two thumps coming from her either side.

“And don’t think about trying to escape!” A pony with a thick accent spoke. It reminded Twilight vaugely of a small foal she knew back in Ponyville named Pipsqueak. She heard the sound of metallic clanging. “These bars are immune to magic, so don’t get any stupid ideas!” The sound of a crash, and then silence reigned. Twilight took a moment to compose herself before sitting up, seeing Pinkie and Fluttershy laying next to her.

“Please be okay, please be okay…” she shook them, and sure enough, they stirred and moaned. “Oh thank goodness…!”

“Twilight?” Twilight heard a small voice near the back of the cell. When she looked up, a small green and miniature bipedal figure walked into view. “Is that really you?” Tears formed at the edges of the young drake’s eyes.

“SPIKE!” Twilight yelled and bolted over to her friend, embracing him in a hug. “You’re okay! Ohhhhh, thank Celestia! You’re not hurt are you?! What have they done to you?!”

Spike hugged her back for a moment before separating. Twilight took a moment to take him in, his scales were dirty looking, and he looked like he hadn’t been eating properly, but otherwise he looked fine. “They didn’t hurt us, Twi. They…” Spike trailed off and looked in the back of the cell. There, three shapes were huddled together, hugging one another. “Girls? It’s alright.”

Then the three shapes separated and wandered into the light. There, before her very eyes were Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle.

“Girls!” Flutterhsy suddenly shot forward, scooping the three fillies into a hug. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re okay! I don’t know if I’d be able to forgive myself if anything happened to you three!”

Pinkie approached Twilight, Twilight noticed her mane had deflated, and was hanging flat down along the sides of her head. “I’m glad we’re together again, but how are we going to get out of here? He said the doors were anti-magic.” Then, the sound of several alarms went off and loud crashes could be heard from above. “Uh...did anyone else hear that?”

~Nemesis~

I had found it.

After nearly three weeks, I had found the place I was looking for. The word ‘Ellura Corp.’ shone in bright letters above the main entrance doors, and I could see Royal Guards standing guard. Did Sun-butt really think sending her useless guard to watch the place was going to help them against me?

This wasn’t a time for smugness though. I had to be sure I was calm. I couldn’t afford to show any weakness in a place like this. If this facility was anything like the Ellura facilities I had seen in the past, I was not going to like what I saw in there. I had to be quick, and relentless. In and out. Sabotage, destroy, leave. I briefly considered summoning a friend to help me out, as I had picked up a pal-sized piece of paper with some kind of drawing on it earlier that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, but no. They didn’t need to see some of the things that Ellura did, and it was my responsibility to deal with them. As I took several deep breaths and stood, I heard something that could only be described as the sound of something tearing, and then I noticed a small folder floating down from above, landing at my feet.

What the… I picked it up and began to read.

To you who find this folder-

If you are reading this, you are what I refer to as a Displaced. Some of us are being held here, in worlds not our own, by one known as The Merchant, a Void-Dweller of great power. If you can use these notes to find your way back to your relative home, I wish you the best of luck. Either because The Merchant is not to be trifled with, or because finding your relative Earth in all the Multiverse is like trying to find a grain of sand in a sandstorm.

Personally, I do not desire to leave. True, abandoning my life on Earth seems cowardly. But the power I now wield confers a responsibility, one that I fulfill willingly. And life in Equestria is more likely to be peaceable than life on Earth.

To those that want to return, I wish you the best of luck, and tell you that the best of results could be gathered by using something that you brought with you.

To those that wish to remain, I tell you that these notes can easily be reversed and used to shield your home from intrusions. Most notably, Discord could find them useful.

To those of you that wish to try to fight The Merchant, I tell you that he will likely not go down easy. Your best bet is to find the one known as Xante and team up with him.

And to those of you that wish to drag us all back...

Do not test me.

-Auric Fulcrum, Master of Psynergy, Wielder of the Flames of Alchemy, Slayer of the Wise One, Knight of the Eclipse, Lord of Eureka, Blade of Understanding.

Damn that’s a long name. I scanned the folder twice over to make sure I hadn’t missed anything before folding it up and placing it in the pocket of my trenchcoat.That must be the Auric Fulcrum Gilgy told me about. Well, I have no idea how time works across the void, so I’m not even certain I have a home to return to. I froze at that sudden realization. I hadn’t thought much about it, but what if that was true? I had taken responsibility for Ellura into my own hands, and spurred Discord’s offers to send me home. It was very likely that back on Earth everyone that I knew was dead.

I shook my head, staring down at the gloves Gilgamesh had given me. I slowly closed my hand into a fist. I didn’t ask to start this, but I’m sure as hell going to finish it. Even if I can’t return home, the merchant is the one responsible for all of this. If I see ‘Xante’, I’ll ask him to let me in on what he’s planning. And with those thoughts, I took one step forward and I fell from my rooftop perch.

The guards never even saw it coming, I impacted the ground with a mighty crash in front of the building. They stood, shocked, and with a tentacle sweep I knocked them all to one side. I lifted my foot and kicked down the front door, Leonidas style. THIS. IS. SPAAARTA! There was an earth pony mare at the front desk who, upon seeing me, quickly began to dial a phone. I rushed up and pushed the desk, which broke from its foundation and slid against a nearby wall, pinning the mare behind it. She couldn’t do much but slap her hooves against the desk surface in futility, trying to push it away from her. I stalked past her, making my way towards the lab in the back. Ponies rushed passed me, screaming and yelling in a panic. I paid them no mind; they were probably civilian workers that Ellura hired to maintain their ‘friendly’ cover.

It wasn’t long before I broke into a sprint, the lab coming up rather quickly. I could see the faces of the ponies as they spotted me, quickly changing from confusion to fear as they ran out of my path of destruction. Once I reached the labs, I stopped. I raised my launcher and turned, a loud explosion ringing through the building as I blew up a whole wall of chemical vials they had on the far side of the laboratory, as well as various pieces of machinery. With that out of the way, I continued my sprint, spying a door nearby that said “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY, NO ACCESS WITHOUT PERMISSIONS”

Here’s your goddamn permission! With a roar, I charged straight through the door, knocking down an entire section of the wall in the process. I continued into metallic area with a staircase descending downwards. I could hear alarms going off around me, pipes shaking and bursting as I felt the building itself shake when I stepped. I took in a deep breath and I shouted “STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!” as I ran.

I passed a room with shattered and empty large glass tubes, and another with a multitude of vials labeled with code words. I stopped to destroy whatever looked important. Any room with computers or any kind of vials in them was not spared. It was only after I had descended a floor did I hear the pounding of hooves behind me. I stopped, and turned, seeing a squadron of unicorns decked out in security gear.

Oh you’ve got to be kidding me. Without reply, the unicorns all fired a blast from their horns at once, straight at me. I rose my arms in front of myself to block the attack, the Genji Gloves glowed as the magical blast impacted me, but I felt barely anything. I lowered my arms, grinning. Now, it’s my turn. I lifted my launcher to my shoulder and aimed it right at them. Their eyes all widened in panic before they all scrambled to get out of the way. I fired, closing my eye as a massive explosion ripped the small hallway in front of me asunder. Some of the ponies who attacked me lay unconscious, others were rushing at me again. One jumped up and fired a beam of magic at me from above. I raised my launcher to block the attack, then shot a tentacle out and wrapped it around his throat. I turned, smashing him headfirst into a wall then dropped him to the floor. I saw another rushing at me out of the corner of my eye and I turned to face him. However, he stopped in mid-gallop.

His eyes widened, and very slowly, blood began to leak from the corners of his mouth. I tilted my head in confusion, then watched as small red holes began to appear across the stallion’s body. He shook for a moment, then started to scream as he was lifted into the air by some unseen force. I took a step back, unnerved by what was happening before me. Then, the stallion was simply ripped in half, right at the waist. The upper half landed at my feet, the eyes, full of pain and agony slowly darkened, until they were completely devoid of life. I looked up and where the stallion had stood, I could see a faint shimmer.

Slowly, a sort of ‘uncloaking’ effect shimmered across the body of what I could only describe as a monster. The thing looked like a living spike trap, a pony form but with millions of razor-sharp needle-like scales all across its body. Its ears were two razor sharp spikes jutting upwards from its head, and from its hooves jutted a pair of jagged claws. Small, dragon-like wings spread on either side of it. It tilted its head and looked at me, as if it had never seen me before. I growled in response. The creature hissed, then its pupils narrowed into slits and what I could only describe as a sound similar to a rattlesnake was heard. Every individual scale on its body began to shake, and before my very eyes, the thing vanished into thin air, like a cloak was being draped over it as the invisibility spread over its equine-like body.

Well shit, that’s new. I backed up a few steps. I could hear the sound of claws clicking on something metallic, it was circling me. I tried to pinpoint its exact location, but oddly enough it sounded like it was coming from every direction at once. I heard a hiss off to my right, and turned just in time to see a spiked ball launching itself at me. It nailed me right in the gut, causing me to roar in pain as I was knocked over. Holy hell that actually hurt! The spiky ball flew away from me, uncurling to reveal the B.O.W. from earlier. So that was their trick, they turn invisible to ambush you, and curl themselves into spiked balls of death and throw themselves at you. Unusually smart for a B.O.W.

I sat up and shot a tentacle at it, but it jumped away, turning invisible again. I quickly rose to my feet and pressed my back against a wall. I could hear the clicking of hooves on the ground somewhere around me, and a steady hissing noise. I kept my breathing steady, and tried to see past the steam that the broken pipes were spewing. I could hear a click, and then everything went silent. I turned my head in the direction I heard the sound, waiting. Sure enough, a spiked ball flew at me from out of the steam. I was ready this time though. I caught it, it uncurled in my hands and hissed, trying to bite at my face. I ignored this and I turned, throwing it to the ground. It got up to escape again, but I brought my foot down on its head, and it went still. I released a heavy sigh and then silenced myself, waiting to see if I could hear anymore. When I didn’t, I turned and left the still twitching corpse behind.

I didn't want to think about what I had just seen, but where there was one there were likely more. I tried to make as little noise as possible as I trudged through the hallways, I really didn't need one of those things sneaking up on me. It wasn't long before I reached another room, this one with multiple monitors and computers set up in front of a glass holding cell-like area. I stepped inside, prepared to destroy all of the equipment before I looked at the glass.

Inside, were ponies. If you could even call them that anymore. Some were leaning against the wall, blood drooling out of their mouths as they stared at some far off thing that wasn't there. Others were stumbling around aimlessly, and sickeningly, chewing on what looked like the corpses of other ponies, which piled up in the corner of the cell. I approached the cell, looking at all these ponies. They weren't B.O.W.s yet, not even close, but they were well on their way to becoming ones. Some of them looked up at me, but intelligence was lost in their eyes. They didn't even know, or maybe even care, that I was there.

My gaze wandered across them until it came to rest on a little filly, sitting at the back of the cell. She was sitting next to two bigger pony corpses, staring off into space. Her eyes were bloodshot, and her mane was messy and dirty, matted with blood and tears. I took a few steps back, my breath catching at the sight. What…? I growled, looking at the screen of one of the nearby computers, where a journal of some kind was kept.

‘Day One: We picked up this filly and her family off the street, they had no home and they were excited at the promise we made of giving them money for assisting in an experiment. What idiots. My colleagues and I are excited at the opportunity to use a new strain of the virus on a filly. Untapped magic is wild and unpredictable, and I’m rather excited to see how it will cause the virus to mutate.’

My fist clenched.

‘Day Five: The filly’s parents passed away. I suppose their bodies couldn’t take it, but their daughter is proving to be resilient. Though she keeps asking about why her mom and dad aren’t moving. Annoying brat.’

I gritted my teeth.

‘Day Seven: The virus mutated. The filly still seems to maintain most of her intelligence, at the cost of some bodily functions. We shall have to mark this one off as a failure. Fortunately, nothing of value was lost in the experiment. Tomorrow we’ll began exterminating the subjects. This is progress though, and I can’t wait to see what e—’

With a roar, I flipped the table the computer was on over, and began laying waste to the room. I smashed monitors, busted some of the walls down, and tore down the cameras monitoring the area. When all was said and done, I approached the holding cell. My mind was numb, I couldn’t believe that they did this to a little filly. This little filly was suffering, because of a virus that I had brought here. If I had come just a week earlier...maybe...just maybe…

I entered the cell and approached the filly wordlessly. She watched my approach, a hoarse moan leaving her throat as I approached her. She grunted and tried to stand, but I heard a crack and she fell over, her legs flailing uselessly. I bent down to one knee, placing my hand over the little filly’s face. I could feel her trying to bite my hand, her little hooves flailing uselessly trying to hold me down. I couldn’t think. My brain pounded against my skull, screaming at me to stop what I was doing, but this had to be done. It wasn’t right, it was my fault and I needed to correct this. Nopony deserved this. No ONE deserved this. I looked at the other ponies in the cell, who were now steadily creeping towards me with looks of hunger on their faces.

I swallowed hard, and with great effort I managed to say I’m sorry.

And then I granted them peace.

Star-ving for Vengeance [Part 2]

~Princess Luna~

The dark blue flash appeared again, this time on the streets of Manehattan. Though the world was very different from what she remembered a thousand years ago, Manehattan seemed like it was on a whole other level. Buildings this tall, or cities this huge, were only joked about back when she was around. Never would she have imagined that her little ponies would manage to build something so unbelievably massive. Yet here she was, standing in it.

“You may open your eyes.” Luna spoke to the Elements, scanning the area around them. They had appeared in the street, though Luna had tried to teleport them close to where the spell was picking up traces of the cape’s fabric. “He’s somewhere around here?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking left and right.

“Somewhere close by. We are unable to determine an exact location,” Luna spoke, her eyes watching the alleyways for signs of any ponies who would do them harm. For being what was supposedly the biggest city in Equestria, the streets and city in general were unusually quiet. “The trail is becoming faint. He’s somewhere in this area, but as for exactly where…” she trailed off, frowning.

“Well standin’ around ain’t gonna help us find ‘im! Let’s start lookin’!”

Applejack dashed into a nearby building. Rarity trotted down a side street, She was seemingly calm, but as she passed, Luna saw the look in her eyes. She recognized the look, she had bore it herself in the past.

“Generous Rarity, if you could spare us a moment of your time?” Rarity paused, turning to face Princess Luna with a look of confusion. “We understand your turmoil and worry for your sister, but we must remind you that we need what we can get from this fiend. Hurting him beyond being useful to us will not benefit our situation.”

Rarity looked aghast. “I-I would never!”

Luna frowned. “The look in your eyes tells us different.”

Rarity blinked once, then she took a deep breath in, letting out a small, concentrated breath. “I can not promise that I will...not be angry, but I will do my best to control it.” Rarity nodded with a smile.

“That is all that we ask.” and with those words, Rarity departed.

. Rainbow Dash took to the sky, acting as a lookout for the group.Though the spell was weakening, Luna attempted to get it to lead her in a particular direction. She closed her eyes, and concentrated. She felt the sensation of being pulled, her hooves moving with a mind of their own as the spell led her along. The pull faded, and when Luna opened her eyes, she was met with an old, run-down bar where a large burly stallion stood guard. She narrowed her eyes and approached it. Upon seeing her approach, the burly stallion blinked, rubbed his eyes, then blinked again to make sure he wasn’t seeing anything, then quickly moved to the side with a bow and the greeting “Your Highness.” Princess Luna nodded and smiled at him, and then made her way into the bar.

The floorboards creaked under Luna’s hooves as she stepped inside. The bar wasn’t particularly remarkable, a place with poor lighting and suspicious characters that you probably wouldn’t think twice about upon passing it. However it wasn’t the sights that caught Luna’s attention so much as the sounds.

“I’m cutting you off after this one, Overlook.” Luna’s ears perked at the name, and upon looking towards the source of the voice, Luna spied a brown unicorn stallion sitting alone at the bar. The tracking spell was pulling her towards him, could he be the one they were searching for?

Wordlessly, Luna took a seat at the bar herself. The bartender let out a surprised gasp, but Luna put a hoof to her mouth and made a motion for the bartender to keep quiet. He nodded and went about doing his job. Luna took the opportunity to speak to the stallion known as ‘Overlook’, who was currently downing his drink. “Quite a lovely night, is it not our subject?”

Overlook opened an eye to look at the one who addressed him, before spitting his drink all over the counter. “Your highness!” He sputtered for a moment. “I-I was just, I didn’t mean, please forg—”

Luna held up a hoof. “There is nothing to apologize for. ‘Overlook’ was it? We are simply here to sate our curiosity is all. When you’ve been gone for a thousand years, culture develops rather rapidly without you.”

“...I-I see.” He turned back to the bar. Luna couldn’t see his face, but she could see the tenseness in his muscles, the uneasiness in his stance. He was nervous. Luna smiled coyly.

“We thought it would be best to get to know our subjects better, and what better way to indulge our subjects than where they indulge themselves, yes?” Overlook nodded numbly. “Indeed. So, if we would be so adventurous as to ask, Mr. Overlook, what would reason dost thou have for being here?”

Overlook sighed, looking at the bottom of his cup. “Unwinding after work. Getting a break from my boss, the usual reason you’ll find any stallion at any bar.”

Luna frowned. She couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t being entirely truthful. “We must admit, we lied when we told thee of our reasons here. Perhaps if we come clean, it will urge you to do the same.” Luna turned her body towards him. “We heard recently of three fillies disappearing from Ponyville under the cover of OUR night. We are not pleased at this turn of events, and so, with the help of some of our friends, we cast a spell that hath led us here. So let me ask you again, Mr. Overlook.” She said his name with an ounce of venom in her voice as she pushed her face close to his. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything of this...would you?”
The room had suddenly grown so quiet that Luna felt as though she could hear a pin drop, if one did. Even the stallions who were playing pool had stopped to stare at the two. Overlook didn’t react immediately, his shivering stopped, his muscles had untensed. Perhaps she was mistaken in her assumption?

Then, overlook began to laugh. He threw his head back and laughed hard. “Well, you found me. Good show then. Allow me to at least finish my drink before you take me in.” Luna was about to respond when the stallion pressed the glass to his lips, throwing his head back and taking a long gulp. As he did, he kicked the stool that Luna was sitting on, sending her sprawling to the floor. Overlook made a mad dash for the door. Luna stood and shot a dark bolt of magic at him, but he avoided it and slipped out the door. Luna grunted in frustration, managing to stand up before giving chase. “ELEMENT BEARERS! WE HAVE FOUND HIM!

Upon hearing Luna’s voice, Rainbow Dash appeared in the skies above. She spotted the fleeing brown unicorn and shot after him. The cyan pegasus was quickly accompanied by Applejack and Rarity flanking her, Princess Luna bringing up the back of the group. “Not so fast!” Rainbow streaked towards Overlook, who glanced back and quickly jumped into the air. Rainbow Dash sailed underneath of him, then had to dig her hooves hard into the asphalt to bring herself to a stop before turning around to face the stallion again, only to see his tail disappearing into a nearby alleyway. “Hayseed!” She took to the air again to give chase.

Applejack was close to him now, and with a growl she leapt towards him. “C’mere you—”

She was cut off with a cry of pain as Overlook bucked her out of the air, straight into a nearby dumpster. She groaned in pain, glaring at his shrinking figure until Luna and Rarity ran past her.

Applejack’s injury only seemed to fuel Rarity’s rage, she split off down a different alleyway. Luna cast a glance back at her, wondering where she was going, but kept up with her pursuit. The stallion turned, closing in on where the alleyway ended. Suddenly Rarity appeared at the end of the alley, her face the picture of fury, her horn glowing. Overlook grit his teeth and shot a spell at Rarity, who had to step to the side to avoid it making contact. Overlook took the opportunity and sprinted out onto the road, Luna and Rarity giving chase.

Luna charged her horn and fired a spell, causing Overlook to stumble. Rainbow Dash swooped down, tackling him from above. He didn’t see it coming this time, and he was forced to the ground. He began to struggle, but Applejack caught up again, using a rope to tie his legs together. Finally, the chase was over.

“You have much to answer for.” Luna said, her eyes narrowed. Overlook only smirked.

“You won’t get anything out of me. You have no proof I did anything.”

Rarity suddenly lunged at him, grabbing Overlook and starting to shake him. “Where is my sister?! Where is Sweetie Belle?!”

Overlook grinned at her. “You mean those three little fillies I took? I hardly imagine that she’ll be your ‘little sister’ anymore once Ellura is through with them.” He began to laugh.

Rarity let out a shrill shriek and brought her hooves down on his leg, a distinct crack rang through the area and Overlook yelled in pain. Applejack had to interfere, pulling Rarity back while Overlook cursed.

“Perhaps you will think twice next time before interfering with a bond as close as sisters.” Luna frowned at Overlook, feeling sympathy for Rarity. Overlook spat at her hooves.

“Little fillies shouldn’t be sticking their noses where they don’t belong!” Rarity began screaming again, but Luna only shook her head.

“Sleep.” Luna’s horn lit up, and Overlook’s eyes blinked a few times before his head hit the ground and he began to snore. Rainbow Dash backed off and looked up to the Princess of the Night.

“Princess, shouldn’t we have gotten him to tell us where they were before putting him to sleep?”

“I have a feeling you’ll be seeing them very soon.” Luna smiled at Rainbow Dash. “For now, we must take this stallion to the outskirts of Manehattan. I will tell Twilight Sparkle where to meet us. I have a feeling she will be bringing friends.” With that, Princess Luna vanished, leaving the three mares to give each other confused, worried expressions.

~Fluttershy~

Fluttershy did not consider herself a brave pony. She was weak, she even jumped at her own shadow once before. She was terrified of dragons, and it took a lot of courage for her to be able to speak to other ponies. But now, she HAD to be brave. If not for herself, then for the three fillies currently crowded around her, shivering. Fluttershy was scared too, but she couldn’t show it. She had to be strong for them.

Pinkie Pie was pulling at the cell door as hard as she could, while Twilight tried to un-do the lock with her magic. “Ugh! It’s no good, my magic can’t get a grip on it! It feels like they put some type of magical ward around the door, and the same spell must be covering the walls, floor, and ceiling too! I can’t do anything to it.”

The building continued shaking, and the three fillies hugged Fluttershy tighter. “It’ll be okay girls, we’ll get out of this.” Far to the left, she heard the sound of a door opening. She froze, Pinkie and Twilight returned to sitting down to make it look like they weren’t doing anything. Heavy footsteps echoed around the room, and Fluttershy hugged the fillies tighter. Pinkie and Twilight tensed up. Then, a huge black boot appeared to the far left of the cell doorway followed by the rest of the massive figure that she recognized as Nemesis.

Twilight gasped. “You!”

Nemesis stopped, turning to look at them in their cell. His eye was glowing blue, oddly, instead of its usual red or white that Fluttershy had seen it glowing before. Wordlessly, he wrapped a massive hand around the cell door and yanked. There was a heavy groaning sound, but the cell door gave, and Nemesis pulled it out of the wall.

You should get out of here. His voice sounded far off, like his mind was on other things. Suddenly, the three fillies rushed from my grasp and ran towards Nemesis.

“Girls, wait!” she called out to them, but the three continued to run towards him.

Nemesis took a step back, holding a hand out towards the three fillies. You don’t want to touch me. He warned with a growl.

The three fillies hesitated, but stopped just short of him and began to speak. “Thank you mister!”

“Yeah thanks, we didn’t think we were ever going to get out of there!”

“Thank you so much!”

Scootaloo turned back to us and shouted “C’mon let’s go!” before rushing to the door Nemesis had left open, followed by her two friends.

“Hey, wait up!” Spike chased after them.

Pinkie stood up and shouted “You can’t go out there by yourselves!” She started to chase after them, but not before stopping and, much to Fluttershy’s surprise, turned back to Nemesis and gave him a massive smile. “Thanks!” then she too darted out the door. Twilight made to go next, but stopped and turned to Nemesis, her ears splayed backwards.

“What about you?” Nemesis snapped out of whatever trance he had put himself in and looked at Twilight.

I have some things left I have to take care of. I don’t think this place is going to be standing for much longer, so you should leave. NOW. Though his voice sounded mean, Fluttershy noticed that it seemed forced. Twilight nodded and ran out the door, but Fluttershy remained behind, staring at Nemesis. What are you waiting for? An invitation? I told you to go.

Fluttershy meekly crawled out of the cell, wincing as Nemesis threw the cell door into the nearby wall before making his way to the door on the opposite side of the room. Fluttershy knew she was going to regret this, but she had to ask. “Uhm...mister Nemesis?”
Nemesis stopped, and turned his head, looking at Fluttershy out of the corner of his eye.

What?

“Are you...crying?”

Silence. Neither of them said anything for a moment. Fluttershy was afraid she had offended him, but then Nemesis took a deep sigh and turned away from her.

I can’t cry. He started walking away from her again, but Fluttershy became determined. With a speed that would make even Rainbow Dash proud, she shot overhead of Nemesis and down in front of him, coming face to face with him. She used her stare, looking at him straight in the eye.

“Now you listen here, mister.” Nemesis actually backed up when she did that, blinking in surprise. “I didn’t ask you if you could cry, I asked if you were.” His eye widened, though he didn’t make any visible efforts to stop her, so she continued. “Everypony gets sad sometimes, and just because you’re different from anypony we know, doesn’t mean you can’t get sad too! I am thankful that you saved me and my friends, but I can’t stand to see anypony who’s done something so good be so sad, so you are going to tell me what’s bothering you THIS INSTANT! Do you understand me?!”

Nemesis blinked once, twice. Then his eye color changed from blue to its usual white. Fluttershy flew closer to him, waiting expectantly. “Well?”

Suddenly, his hand shot out. Fluttershy braced herself to be hit, but instead she found herself being petted by Nemesis’ massive hand. She looked at him again, her eyes showing surprise.

Fluttershy it was, right? You’re alright. That stare of yours isn’t going to work on me, but...thank you. I needed someone to talk to me like that. You should go join your friends, before they begin to worry about you. He petted her again before walking past her, going through the door on the opposite side. Fluttershy landed and folded her wings in. She didn’t get to help him with what was causing him so much pain, but she was glad she was able to help, at least a little bit.

~Nemesis~

Jesus Christ, What. The fuck. Was that? That little pony had a stare so intense I thought she was going to break me. I should’ve expected as much. Gilgamesh had told me about that mare’s ability ‘The Stare’ before, but HOLY CRAP was I not expecting that!

She was right though, there was something bothering me. The room full of innocent ponies came to the forefront of my mind again. If I had just been a little while earlier, maybe if I hadn’t come to Equestria in the first place…

I pushed the images and the thoughts down for now. If the smell was any indication, I was getting close to the testing labs. I had released a lot of ‘test subjects’ on the way down here; ponies who still had their wits about them and, as far as I could tell, were not infected with a virus. This is where they administered the doses of the virus to their ‘subjects’ and it was going down, just like the rest of this facility.

The stairs leveled out to a flat, tiled floor. Stretchers were positioned in alcoves all throughout the room, most of them with restraining straps, vials, and a lethal looking needles above to accompany them.

“Is someone there?” I stopped, hearing someone’s voice. There was a circular area in the center of the room, sectioned off from the rest by a wall split up into three parts. I went around the wall and was met with the sight of a unicorn stallion strapped down onto a stretcher, the massive needle that hovered over it was but an inch from his chest. He looked up as he heard me come in. The stallion was odd, he had an orangeish, tan coat with a mane that shone with a deep bronze color. He scanned me briefly, blinking. “Well, you’re certainly not a doctor.” I grinned, breaking the straps that held him down and tearing the massive structure from above the stretcher, throwing it into one of the other structures that caused it to break as well.

You should get out of here, this place isn’t going to be standing for much longer.

“I can’t.” I raised an eyebrow as he got up from the stretcher, stretching out his limbs and then lowering himself onto all 4’s on the floor below me. “I’m not leaving until I’m sure this place is gone.”

I growled. This really isn’t a time for arguing.

“There is no arguing. I’m not gone until I’ve done what I need to do.” I sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of my nose with two fingers.

Fine. I just hope you know your way out, this is the only warning you’re getting.

“I know my way around just fine.” He answered, before he rushed off into a door on the opposite side of the room I had come in.
I left out the same door I had come in and started to search through the places I had already checked, rushing and telling any competent ‘test subjects’ remaining to get out. Suddenly, an alarm sounded and red lights began to flash in the hallways and rooms. A robotic voice droned over the loudspeakers.

“Emergency protocol has been activated: Facility will self-destruct in T-minus twenty minutes.”

That’s convenient. I thought and turned to make my escape when a voice stopped me.

“You MISERABLE LITTLE INSECT.” I turned, noticing a tan-colored unicorn stallion with an azure streaked-back mane. Flanking him were ponies who all pointed what looked like guns straight at me.

I don’t know who you’re talking to bud, but you’re the insect from where I’m standing. I growled. He scowled at me.

“Be that as it may, you didn’t honestly think that you were going to destroy over ten decade’s worth of research and get out of here alive,” the sound of several guns cocking could be heard. “...did you?” The unicorn’s golden eyes glowed with an unholy fire as he growled out his question.

You’re serious. You have guns now... Where did you even get those things?

“Prototypes, early models that we constructed based off of the weapons we took from you. They are prototypes for a much more advanced model later on.” The sound of a gunshot filled the hallway, and I felt a pain in my side. It hurt, but it wouldn’t slow me down. “But I think they work rather effectively, don’t you?” He gave me a smug look before changing it into a deep frown. “Kill him.”

I dodged into a side hallway as the sound of gunshots filled the area. I noticed a door on the right and quickly yanked it open slamming it behind myself. I heard metallic clanking as the ponies continued to shoot, presumably at the door I was now hiding behind.

“Position yourselves! He can’t stay in there forever. He has to come out eventually, or get blown to pieces with the rest of this facility.”

I frantically looked around for something I could use. This was bad, hard to kill or not, even I was unsure if I could take a wall of bullets aimed at my face. Okay, calm down, what can I use? Then my eyes fell upon the one thing I never thought I would see again. ...Oh HELL yes.

In the hallway outside, the ponies were positioned around the door. each and every one had a weapon aimed at it. “As soon as that door opens,” Test Tube spoke. “Kill the bastard.”

Slowly, the door they were aiming at creaked open. Every weapon simultaneously discharged, all shooting at the open doorway. It took a second for them to realize there wasn’t actually anything there. I took the moment given from the break in gunfire to step into the open doorway, with a new toy in my grip. I know who had taken my weapons now, and lucky for me, I found some of them again. On my back was my regular rocket launcher, accompanied with a second one I had asked Discord to make some time ago. It was lighter, but also fired much more heavy-duty rounds. It also had limited ammo, which is why I had taken an RPG head and stuffed it into the pocket on my coat. In my right hand I clutched a minigun, the grip specialized so that the gun latched onto my forearm, the muzzle hanging below my arm and pointed at whatever was in front of me. I had at least a good ten minutes’ worth of firing ammo strapped around my chest to form an X-pattern.

That was cute. It’s my turn now. The barrel of my minigun began to spin. You might want to get down. The ponies shouted and ducked, just as my minigun opened fire. Empty shell casings clattered to the ground as I shot at, behind, and around their cover. My entire body shook with every shot, the hallway lit up with the light of gunfire as the smell of smoke filled my nostrils. I stopped firing. The area in front of me was riddled with more holes than swiss cheese. Shell casings littered the ground at my feet, burning and filling the hallway with smoke. I wasn’t anywhere near low on ammo though, so I took the moment to speak. I can keep this up all day! If you want to live, I suggest you run! Many of the Ellura employees got up and began to run; however, a handful of others, one of them being the stallion who had spoken to me, began to fire at me again. I grunted, feeling the bullets leave their mark. I aimed at them again. Your mistake. I growled.

One of the men cried out in pain, and I looked to the side long enough to see him being lifted into the air by some unseen force. Shit! I fired at the area below him, red exploding from the ‘empty’ air. Slowly, the cloaking of the B.O.W. died, and I could see that he had impaled the pony on his scales, which were bristled and rising into the air above him. He let out a short hiss before falling to the ground, dead. I heard the sound of hooves on metal, and another one of the stallions screamed, being dragged away by another invisible B.O.W.

Do you see now? Your own creations turn on you, you can’t control these things! I spoke to the tan stallion. He only scowled at me before turning and beginning to run, but he was tackled into a side hallway by an unseen force. I sighed, running to where I heard the other stallions screaming and fired at the invisible B.O.W. tearing them apart. They hissed before falling to the ground. The Ellura employees stared at me with dead eyes.

I turned away from them and saw the stallion who had spoken to me being attacked as well. He was screaming in agony, yelling “Make it stop! Make it stop!” I granted his wish, putting an end to the life of the B.O.W. tearing him apart before tossing him aside and staring down at the dying pony.

You and the rest of your company are so blind. You can’t hope to control these things, they’re meant only to destroy, and that’s exactly what they’ll do. They’ll destroy you.

He began to laugh, a deep, painful sounding laugh that turned into a cough, causing blood to spill from the sides of his mouth. “You don’t understand, do you? Our experiments may turn against us, but this…” He gestured to the now dead B.O.W. “This is the new world order. We can create, anything we want. We can make a stronger pony race; we can make a greater pony race.”

You won’t be making shit. This entire place is about to go up in flames.

He laughed again, beginning to choke on his own blood. He swallowed hard, and smiled at me. “Did you really think this is the only one?”

What?

“We’re everywhere you fool. You stop us here, but you can’t stop...all of us…” his head tilted to the side, and his eyes darkened.
I growled, picking him up by the scruff of his neck and shaking him.

What the hell do you mean you’re not the only ones?! There’s more of you?! His eyes remained darkened. His secrets would follow him to the grave, it seemed.

I growled and dropped him, following along the hallway I had traveled to get down into the subject experimentation area. What the hell did he mean they’re not the only ones? There’s more facilities like this? The sound of the siren reminded me that this entire place was about to blow, so I picked up the pace, heading for the exit.

I reached the door where I had taken out a wall, and after one last check to make sure there were no ponies left behind, I sprinted for the exit. I busted through the front doors, just before I heard a massive explosion behind me. keep running, don’t stop! I felt the heat on my back, and I fell forward, tucking myself into a roll. I came to a stop eventually, laying on my back and staring up at the sky. Everything was blurry, but I could just barely make out the form of something vaguely pony-shaped above me.

“Good, you’re alive.” I lifted my head to see the pony I had released in the labs looking at me with a smile. “I was afraid you wouldn’t make it out in time when I rigged the place to blow. I owe you my life, and that would have been a terrible way to repay it.”

I let my head impact the ground again. You don’t owe me anything. Then I heard the sound of sirens and I groaned loudly. Fucking great…

“Nemesis!” I turned, to see Twilight waving me down. I climbed to my feet and motioned to the pony, and we both made our way over to her. “I’m so glad you’re okay! We saw the flames in the distance and we got really worried!”

Aw. You do care. She deadpanned before looking over to the pony, tilting her head at him.

“Who’s this?”

This is...uh... I looked to him for help.

“Bronze Mane.” He said, bowing his head to Twilight.

Twilight nodded before turning to me again. “Nemesis, Princess Luna and the others are on the outskirts of Manehattan. We caught someone from Ellura, but he’s not telling us anything. We were hoping you could…?”

I chuckled. Working against sun-butt now are you? My, look at you breaking all the rules.

“I’ve seen enough to know that Celestia’s mistaken.” Twilight looked at her hooves, releasing a deep sigh. “That...that thing I saw in there. That’s not Ellura helping ponies. I don’t know what they think they’re doing, but it needs to stop.”

That’s all I want. I nodded.

“Don’t think I’m going completely against the Princess on this. When I make it back to Ponyville she’s hearing all about this. Ellura is finished.” She smiled at me. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you sooner.”

I waved my hand. I knew you’d get your head out of your plot eventually. Let’s go see this ‘prisoner,’ shall we? She nodded, turning away from the destruction.

“It’s this way, follow me!”

We followed Twilight through some back alleyways, keeping out of sight of the streets as we made our way out of Manehattan. The roads were crawling with guards now, most likely looking for me, so we were sure to remain out of sight.

It wasn’t long before we reached a large, open area away from the bustling and tall buildings of the city that read ‘Manehattan city limits’. Not wanting to stick around in the open for too long, I picked up Bronze and Twilight, much to her disagreement, and jumped, making our way along a little more quickly. It wasn’t long after that when I saw Luna, the rest of Twilight’s friends, and a prone stallion in the distance. I landed with a crash, setting Twilight and Bronze down. I raised an eyebrow at Luna.

I have to admit, of all the ponies I expected to see out here, you are definitely not one of them. She frowned and approached me.

“When we heard of the foals’ kidnapping, we could not just sit idly by and do nothing. Our sister knows nothing of our presence here, and we would appreciate it if you did not mention this to her.”

I was still a little unsure, but I nodded. Let’s save this for later. Where’s this stallion you needed me to talk to?

She stepped aside, revealing a stallion whose legs had been tied together, and he was doing the best job he could do of ignoring us. I approached him and yanked him up into a sitting position. He looked at me fearfully.

What’s your name?

“Overlook.” He glared at me. “Watchful Overlook.”

Well, Watchful Overlook, I’ve got some questions that need answering. What can you tell me about Ellura?

“Absolutely nothing.” Overlook looked away from me. I grabbed his chin and forced him to look me in the eye, my impatience growing.

I’m not a fan of liars. Even less of a fan of those who would take homeless fillies off the street and use them as experiments. This drew a gasp from several ponies around me, but I didn’t dare tear my gaze away from him. Think harder, and maybe I’ll let you keep all of your limbs.

Overlook looked unsure for a moment, before he began to laugh. “Do you honestly believe anything any of you could do to me is any worse than what my boss would do to me if I tell you? You aren’t getting anything from me.” He spat at the ground at my feet. I growled and smacked him in the side of the head, rendering him unconscious again. Make him a prisoner. Maybe he’ll be more willing to talk when he realizes he’s in a place where his ‘boss’ can’t reach him.

“We can take him back to ponyville with us,” Twilight said, smiling at a small green and purple dragon on her back before she turned to look back at me. “Do...you want to come with us?” I looked around at the ponies that I had become recently acquainted with. Applejack was hugging and talking to her sister. Rarity was hugging her sister as well, but crying profusely while her sister just looked annoyed. The orange filly was darting around Rainbow Dash, chattering nonstop while Rainbow Dash just smiled. Pinkie Pie was talking with Fluttershy, who wouldn’t look me in the eye. Bronze Mane, on the other hand was looking up at me, as if waiting for an answer.

I don’t really have much of a choice, do I?
“Woohoo!” Pinkie suddenly exploded into a shout. “I get to throw Nemmy a ‘You were our enemy but you’re not anymore, so welcome to Ponyville party!’”

“We will come with you as well.” Luna said, straightening her pose to assume a regal appearance. “We wish to see more about Ellura, so that we may know who to strike at once our sister knows of this.” I nodded.
In that case, we haven’t any time to lose, let’s get back to ugh… ‘Ponyville’ before nightfall. I still hated that name. With a collective cheer, the ponies set off. It was good that ponies could remains so cheerful, even in the face of such terrible things happening around them. The image returned to my mind again, the look in the fillies’ eyes haunting my mind. Was it really Ellura’s fault that had happened? I brought the virus to Equestria in the first place, after all. I sighed, and I was about to follow them, but I heard a sound like a rip in the air above me.

Hm? I stopped to look up at the sky, a letter with something attached to it falling to the ground at my feet. I bent down to pick it up, and started to read.

To Nemmy,
Sup, big guy? How've you been? Scratch that, I'm sure things are going kind of rough for you, just as they were before. Still rooting for you though, and always will be.

I've actually got some down time now, no leads and just killing time 'til the Canterlot Wedding Invasion. Believe it or not, actually made friends with some new ponies, Vinyl Scratch and Octavia Melody, both musicians. I've been giving them songs from our world in exchange for some lessons with instruments, got some plans for trolling during Hearth's Warming Eve.

Anyway, I was going through a list of songs I liked and I remembered one that made me think of you. I've got it on this cassette tape recorder here. Funny how a society that doesn't have cars can still have tape recorders and turntables. I know you've got it hard with Tia, Ellura, and the Nemesis in your head, and as badass as your are even the greatest can break under the right circumstances. If you're feeling down or lost, or hell if you just feel like it, play this and I think it'll give you some motivation. Never forget that you're in the right, and if you need it I'm on call to help you shove that rocket launcher down the throats of every one of those Ellura bastards.
Keep on keeping on, big guy. I know you can do it.

You're pal, Gilgamesh.

This note will self destruct in 5 seconds… Heh, yeah right.

P.S. Play the song while you walk, I'm sure it'll make you feel like a boss.

Oh god, please no more self destruction, I’ve had enough of that for one day. I smiled to myself as I read the note. Leave it to Gilgy to make me smile when I felt like frowning. I inspected the tape recorder he had sent me before pressing play, my finger almost too big for the button.

...Oh HELL the fuck yes!

~Princess Celestia~

Princess Celestia was signing an approval for extended rain water over Appleloosa when she heard the doors to her throne room open. A guard rushed in. “Your Highness, there is someone here to see you.”

Celestia sighed, lowering the papers. It was odd enough that her sister was gone this morning, but now ponies were asking to visit when it was not the hours of appeal. She supposed she could understand, it must have been important. “Yes, bring them in.”
The guard bowed and trotted out, returning with a stallion with a grey-whiteish coat, and a black mane that cascaded down onto either side of his head.

“Ah! Inkwell!” Celestia knew this pony; he was the leader of the Ellura Corporation. “How may I help you today?” The pony named ‘Inkwell’ bowed his head in respect and spoke in a careful tone.

“Princess Celestia, There’s been an incident…”

Author's Notes:

Test Tube is NOT Albert Wesker.

Anyways, sorry part 2 took so long. It's been complete for a while, but my editor went over it and smacked me upside the head for making something so bad, and suggest I make some changes.

So I did, and I'm literally about to walk out the door, so I wanted to get this up before I left. He hasn't had the chance to look it over a second time, so if you notice anything, let me know! Also, let me know what you think. :3

Just FYI, this story is FAR from over. For now, at least. Now it's time to wait on a crossover with another story.

Also, for those of you who don't know, the note at the end is from The Mighty Warrior of Epicness

[EXTRA] A Meeting in Shadow

~Inkwell~

“Princess Celestia, there has been an incident…” Inkwell spoke with a competence and politeness that transcended his age, bowing to the floor in front of the solar monarch.

“Please Inkwell, there is no need for formality now. What has occurred?”

Inkwell smirked to himself before he stood up, the smirk gone from his face once he rose. His face was that of neutrality, calm and restrained. One might call his expression the calm before the storm, as those under him had taken to calling it. “I fear that Nemesis has compromised one of our facilities. Manehattan, specifically.”

Princess Celestia gasped, holding a hoof to her muzzle. “I’ll have the guard combing the city straight away. Nothing of importance was lost, I hope?”

“Objects are hardly my concern Your Highness. You see, the particular facility he destroyed was one of healing. A place where we take our patients so that they may recover from what Nemesis has done to them.”

Princess Celestia’s face grew to one of horror. “You’re not saying…?”

“Many innocent lives were lost today, Your Highness. Many, many more were fatally wounded by attacks from Nemesis himself, and are living their last moments as we speak.”

Princess Celestia stood, her face hard as she gave Inkwell and the ponies around her a hard stare. “He must pay for what he has done today.”

Inkwell barely blinked an eye. “I wholeheartedly agree Your Highness, but I am afraid that today it is my duty to be a bearer of even more bad news.” He bowed his head, closing his eyes in a mock of a sad expression. When Princess Celestia said nothing, he continued. “I’m afraid your student, the other elements, and even your sister have fallen to the dreaded disease that Nemesis has brought down upon our fair Equestria.”

Princess Celestia could have been mistaken for a statue, just then. Her stance was still, unflinching. Within her though, rage was boiling. Preparing to burst forth and unleash a Solar Fury the likes of which nopony in the room had seen before. But Princess Celestia had long since learned to control her emotions, and though it was a difficult task, she capped off her anger before it could boil over.

“...What makes you say this?” princess Celestia asked in a quiet, measured voice.

“Many of my workers reported seeing your student in the facility, as well as some of the other elements, helping Nemesis to destroy it.” When he looked up again, Princess Celestia was staring down at him again.

“Why would she…?”

Inkwell bowed his head once more, the perfect example of respect. “Many strains of the disease are even still unknown, and we believe that empathy...perhaps even insanity, are side effects of it. For whatever reason your student was assisting our enemy, she may not have been in her right mind as she did.”

“And my sister? I thought Alicorns were immune to the virus Nemesis produced?”

“Very nearly, Your Highness.” Inkwell rose from his bowed position. “It is true, your kind are resistant to it, but not wholly immune. When in contact with the virus source for too long, or even when spending too much time around other infected…” Inkwell’s voice trailed off.

Princess Celestia’s eyes grew wide. “No...I can’t lose Luna again!” She began to trot off towards the throne room exit, but quickly found her way blocked by ponies in Ellura outfits, who were turned on by the guard.

Inkwell faced Princess Celestia now, a frown adorning his face. “I truly am sorry Your Highness, but it’s for your safety and the safety of others that we must cut off contact with you and the infected. if you were to become infected as well, it would spell disaster for everyone.”

Princess Celestia backed up, looking distraught. “My student my sister...will they become well again?”

Inkwell bowed his head. “As well as we can make them. They are heading towards Ponyville as we speak.”

Princess Celestia turned to face him. “What do you suggest we do, Inkwell?”

With his head bowed, Inkwell smiled. “Quarantine, Princess.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inkwell emerged from the throne room, the mask of neutrality adorning his features once more. He turned to a nearby guard, and spoke. “Inform your captain to have a squad ready to meet us outside of Ponyville in roughly 24 hours. Princess Celestia has decided to use the guard to assist us, and we are to capture nemesis, the Elements of Harmony, and Princess Luna by any means necessary.” The guard bowed his head and departed. Inkwell smiled. “...fools…”

He began his trip back to his office when his hoof bumped into something. He leaned down and inspected it before picking it up, and holding it in his hoof. It looked like a stone, but in its side, there was a strange design carved.

Inkwell turned the strange object in his hoof before pocketing it, and deciding to deal with it later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~

Later that same night, Inkwell was thinking hard about how to progress from here. Their subject experimentation wing was all but gone, blown to smithereens by the interfering Nemesis. This had actually worked out in their favor, as now princess Celestia had given them government support and the entire royal guard was at their disposal.

Inkwell’s eyes wandered to the stone he had picked up earlier, which now laid on his desk. He sighed and picked it up in his hoof. The design didn’t make any sense, but as soon as he touched it, the very room itself seemed to darken, and a voice spoke to him, seemingly from everywhere at once.

"Those who have need of the shadows, who want to spread fear and desolation, who want a terror in the night, call on me, The Makuta, Emperor of the Shadows!"

Inkwell listened to the words once more, before he decided he had nothing to lose, and decided to divulge the strange words, if only to see what would happen.. “The Makuta, Emperor of Shadows,I have need of you. Hear my call, and come forth!”




Instantly, the room darkened even further, and a portal opened. He stared up… up… up, into two huge, glowing red eyes that stared down at him without any semblance of mercy or pity. Its whole body seemed… wrong, mechanical, unnatural even to him. It spoke, in the same deep, rumbling voice. “Well, well, well. I thought I would be summoned by a human, but you will do just as well… Inkwell, head of Ellura, who seeks to make a new world order with a virus from another dimension…”

Inkwell blinked, his eyes widened first in apprehensive fear, then simply in awe as the dark being before him recited his name and intentions as easily as if he were describing the back of his hoof.

The being (he supposed it was this ‘Emperor of Shadows’) idly tapped its massive, two-bladed staff. “You kidnap ponies and subject them to mutant strains of various viruses. I could use some of these… B.O.W.S of yours.”

Inkwell seemed to finally compose himself, clearing his throat before he spoke. “Well, I suppose I should be flattered that my name transcends my dimension alone, you know all of this about me, yet I do not know any one thing about you, mister…?” He let the unanswered question hang in the air.

The being looked at him as if he were an insect. “Teridax. And you aren’t that famous- I simply pulled the relevant information out of your head. Your mental defenses are non-existent. Truthfully, you are one of billions of similar beings who seek a new world order with this virus. This version of you may succeed, or you may fail. The multiverse ensures that every possibility is fully realised. Now, let’s talk business.”

Inkwell leaned back in his chair as Teridax mentioned business. This was something he was far more familiar with. “I suppose if you know so much about me and my company, then you also know about the thorn in our side. In business, it is often custom to have something in return for services gained.”

Teridax nodded. “Naturally. Come through to my dimension, I can show you my own laboratory.” With a wave, another hole was torn, leading into a darkened room. He waved a hand again, doing something or other in the room, then he beckoned. “I think you’ll like my work very much.”

Inkwell stood, walking towards the newly formed hole with apprehension. Though business was business, he was still unsure of this ‘Teridax’ character. But the promise of what was to come outweighed his fears, and he stepped through with newfound vigor.

Teridax led him to a pair of huge doors, which flew open. “I have incredible knowledge in many fields, Inkwell. Metallurgy, weapon crafting, painting, sculpture, literature, chemistry, biology… and of course, virology.”

The lab beyond was made of smooth black stone, with several benches. Large vats dotted the sides of the room, clear glass cases indicating bubbling green and blue fluids. Racks of test tubes, beakers, Bunsen Burners, frames, pipettes- everything conceivable.

Inkwell stared as Teridax continued. “I make viruses for fun. Usually, I can use them to create entirely new forms of life from simple biomatter.” He pulled out a large handful of grass and poured a red dust on it. After a bit, the grass developed mechanical apendages, almost insectile in nature and scuttled around like a crab, snarling with a whirring of gear-like teeth.

“The possibilities…” Inkwell sounded awed, seeing the intimidating figure in a new light.
Teridax nodded. “This… Nemesis. He’s the source of your original virus, correct?” He looked down at Inkwell. “Provide me with a small sample of his biomatter, and I can make you a specialised hunter. It’ll never stop chasing him, will have an increased healing factor, and will be totally obedient.”

Inkwell nodded. “And in return, you wish us to supply you with B.O.W.s?”

Teridax nodded. “About a hundred to start with should be fine. And with your original virus… if you want more stable results, I think I have the perfect tool for that.”

Inkwell nodded. “If this is the extent of what you have to offer us...I think the Ellura corporation can do business with you, Mr. Teridax.”

Teridax nodded back. “I’ll show you one tool I can make a decent quantity of.” He walked off, to the side of the room, and pulled a large steel object off the wall. He held it up- with its eyeholes, it looked vaguely like a mask. “This is the Mask of Mutation. I don’t know if it’ll work for you, but with this…”

He removed the mask he’d been wearing (and it was then that he realised that its insectile visage had been a mask) and put it on. He then focused on the tiny crab, concentrating. The crab squirmed, before growing an extra set of appendages. “I can make whatever mutative change I want, and reverse it as well.” He turned. “Interested?”

“Very. This...what you can do...it’s unheard of. Even WITH magic, the most advanced technology known to pony-kind couldn’t possibly…” He saw the irritated look on Teridax’s face and cleared his throat again. “I mean...yes. I am very interested.”

He didn’t smile. He didn’t have a mouth. But there was the impression of a smile. He removed the mask and handed it over. “It’s a deal. Give me the biomatter, and I’ll have your perfect hunter within a week. I’m not sure if the mask will work for you, please tell me if it doesn’t.”
The portal opened again, and he beckoned through. “Have a good evening, Inkwell. I’ll know when you have the biomatter. I watch all of my allies closely…”

If the last statement had meant to be a threat as much as it was a statement, it surely worked. Inkwell clutched the mask close, nodding rapidly before exiting through the portal, a wide grin on his face.

Author's Notes:

This chapter was a crossover with Ssendam the Masked's Casting a Shadow which is an amazing story that you guys should probably go read.

This chapter is an [EXTRA] Because it's not necessarily crucial to the story, but it is an interesting development, no? :pinkiehappy:

What does this mean for Nemmy?

Will B.O.W.s start popping up in other fics now?

How does this effect the LoHAV Verse?

Why am I asking YOU all of these questions?!

I don't even f***ing know!

Falling Stars [Part I]

~Nemesis~

Pffft! You did WHAT? Laughter bubbled up inside me as I hunched over and held my gut. Across from me stood a warrior clad in armor that gleamed in the rising rays of the sun, joining in on the laughter as well.

It hadn’t taken us too terribly long to reach Ponyville thankfully, though the ponies regularly switched off who held Overlook on account of getting too tired. Eventually I just carried him myself. Once we made sure his bindings were secure, we threw him into Twilight’s basement. She has a lot of machinery down there, she claims she has a lie detector but I’m holding my belief until I see it for myself. I found it hard to believe ponies could make anything more than a few basic machines, magic seemed to do everything for them, and I imagined that it wasn’t easy building anything with hooves.

Afterwards the ponies headed off to tend to their respective homes, to make sure everything was in order. Twilight went to go write a letter to Sunbutt, and Luna said she needed to call in some ‘special friends.’ Bronze Mane said he had something he needed to attend to also, though he didn’t specify what.

Once I was alone, I headed up to the small hill overlooking ponyville and decided to thank Gilgamesh personally for the cassette player he had given me. I summoned him and it wasn’t long before we were deep in conversation. Sometimes having someone like yourself to talk to can make all the difference in the world. Right now Gilgamesh was telling me about how he and his student ‘Kat’ had decided to ‘spice up’ Hearth’s Warming Eve.

Once I had composed myself, I wiped a pretend tear from my eye. How did Sunbutt react?

“Well, after the weight joke I grabbed the instruments, burst through the wall, and the two of us ran away while Celly chased us down in a fire magic hissy-fit. It was all over the news the next day, and it was glorious.”

Bahahaha! That’s amazing! I drank a cup of Zebrafican Red Tea. Before I came to the hill I’d stopped by Zecora’s hut to get some of that liquid gold she was so good at making. I wanted Gilgamesh to get a taste, but imagine my surprise when he’d already had some! I suppose some things are just constants, even in other universes. Thank God Zebafrican Red Tea was one of them. You said Kat’s a gravity shifter though? I think I know what game that’s from, but I never played it myself. How did the rest of her training go?

"Well, she was doing pretty good until," he sighed and became unexpectedly somber. "Until the Ursa Major."

"Oh god. Is she-?"

"No no, she's still alive it's just... It turns out the reason she wanted all that combat training was because she wanted to tear the Princesses a new one. I've never seen such rage and pain in a single person before. She knows they were tricked into betraying her, knows it was because someone framed her, and she still intends to take her rage out on them. She promised me she won't kill them, and that she'll even protect them afterwards, but I will always see my inability to change her mind as my greatest failure. I just hope she gets help before it's too late."

I think I kind of know how she feels… I spoke, my mind wandering back to the Ellura facility incident back in Manehattan. When you feel like someone has hurt or wronged you that badly, you can’t do much more than think about how badly you want to be rid of them. I inhaled deeply, the image of the dying little filly entering my mind again. I wish I could say I’ve had similar good times Gilgamesh. What I saw in Manehattan, what Ellura did to those ponies...what I had to do to correct it. I clenched my fists, taking in steady breaths as I struggled to remain in control of my emotions. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it. I remained silent for a moment before I spoke again. but at the same time, I need to try hard to not let it consume me. As I’ve experienced in the past, vengeance is like a wild fire. It destroys everything, even things that are close to it. I looked down into my now empty cup of tea with a sigh.

“Heh. Looks like you are wise man after all. It’s funny how many life lessons we can get from video games, huh?”

Amen. I was about to add more when the sound of trotting hooves reached my ears. A pony with a tan coat and a bronze colored mane came over the hill, his eyes set on me as he approached.

“Nemesis. I need to talk to you abou—” he went silent as he set eyes on Gilgamesh, looking the warrior up and down. “And...who’s this?”

Gilgamesh chuckled before standing upright. “Give me your name, and I shall give you mine.”

Bronze Mane nodded. “Bronze Mane, though you may refer to me as just Bronze. I had the pleasure of meeting Nemesis’ acquaintance when he rescued me from the Ellura facility in Manehattan. it’s a pleasure to meet you mr…?”

“Ah, one who my intimidating friend has gained the friendship of? Then you are a friend of mine as well! Please, allow me a moment.” The warrior put down his teacup before posing. “GAZE UPON MY MAGNIFICENCE, MORTAL, FOR YOU BASK IN THE GLORY OF THE MIGHTIEST OF WARRIORS, THE MASTER OF WEAPONS, THE SEEKER OF BATTLE! MY FOOTPRINTS HAVE BEEN LEFT ALL OVER THE MULTIVERSE, AND WEAPONS HAVE BESTED GODS AND DEMONS ALIKE! CHERISH THIS MOMENT, TINY PONY, FOR YOU ARE NOW ALLIES WITH THE MIGHTY GILGAMESH!

A strong breeze blew through the area just then, creating a blowing wind sound as Gilgamesh held his pose. For the briefest of moments, a tumbleweed rolled by as well.

“And right on cue, Tumbly makes his cameo.”

I snickered, but Bronze Mane could only stare in shocked silence before finally summoning the courage to speak. “I...see.” He cleared his throat. “I came up here at the request of a miss Twilight, she’s requested to see you Nemesis.”

Has she? I stood up from my sitting position and stretched, feeling several joints crack as I did. Well I guess I should probably humor her. Care to join me, Gilgy?

“Oh, so you’ve got even the Element of Magic on your side? Nice progress! Things are going pretty well for you after all!”

It only took them being imprisoned and nearly experimented on for her to see the light. I don’t hold anything against her, though. If only Sunbutt were as open minded as she is. I shrugged.

“Yeah, that’ll do it. And don’t forget about the rest of the Elements. And the Canterlot royalty’s more azure half.”

They softened up to me when their sisters came back unharmed. I owe a lot to Princess Luna though, she really drove the metaphorical nail in the coffin in convincing them that I wasn’t a ‘bad’ monster.

“Wait, what? How the hell do you have the Elements and Luna on your side but not Celestia? If anything, Luna would probably be less willing to trust you than her sister, not more.”

She was suspicious of Ellura since she came back, so she told me. When she dreamwalked she saw some things that made her suspicious, but when the Cutie Mark Crusaders got kidnapped, she realized what her sister was doing was wrong, and sought to help us out. Unfortunately, Sunbutt’s still set in her ways. I hope Luna went to go talk to her.

“You have got to be freaking kidding me. Celestia is the stubborn nose-to-grindstone fanatic one in this universe? How the hell did that happen?”

I really don’t know. I don’t know if I did something to her in some way that made her hate me this much, I certainly can’t remember anything. I sighed. Luna joining us should convince her, at least I hope.

Bronze Mane cleared his throat again. “I’m sorry to interrupt but miss Twilight told me it was rather urgent. We should get down there soon.”

Nemesis nodded. Right then, Gilgy you wanna meet the elements of harmony of another universe?

“Hey, done it once before, so why not? And it’ll be a pleasure seeing a fourth version of Princess Luna as well!”

Well, there’s your answer Bronze. Lead the way!

Bronze Mane led us down the hill back into Ponyville. On the way we earned quite a few incredulous and frightened stares from the majority of the populous. Ponies stared and backed away from us, and a few pegasi may have crashed into a few objects while in flight. Not our problem though, could we really help it if we looked so dashingly handsome?

Gilgamesh waved enthusiastically all the while, even at the ones who backed away and outright panicked at the sight of us. I chuckled. Geez, the way they’re acting you’d think these ponies have never seen a warrior in armor and a mutated virus monster from another dimension before.

“We’re still working on convincing them that you’re NOT going to eat them…” Bronze Mane mumbled, trotting in front of us still.

“Just like back in my home dimension I’m doing my best to convince them I’m just a big goofball who likes a good fight instead of a savage barbarian who wants to start a world war. I think I’m actually starting to make some headway with that,” Gilgamesh commented.

Yeah, they seem to react pretty harshly to anything that ISN’T a pony. Racists…

“I think the term is ‘speciesist’, although they did alright with Gilda until she was proven to be a jerk.”

Don’t think I know a Gilda. Starting to wish I had watched the show before I ended up here. I mumbled.

“Griffon, Rainbow’s old friend from Flight School. The two were pretty tight until it was revealed that Gilda thought pretty much every pony except Dash was beneath her. Quickest way to make anyone here be thought of as the bad guy is to make Fluttershy cry. Even Pinkie drew the line there.”

The Griffons eh? Haven’t dealt with them for a few thousand years, not since the Griffons were running Pegasi out of the sky because their emperor was hungry. I rolled my eye. Different dimension or not, aside from Ellura things considered ‘bad’ here were outright ridiculous sometimes.

”Hail, Comrades!” I flinched and put my hands over my ears as a voice echoed from the sky. A blue Alicorn descended from the heavens, floating down gently to touch the ground in front of us. Around her, ponies colored in armor similar to the color of her fur touched down. I suppose ‘ponies’ would be an inaccurate term, they had long leathery wings, fangs poking from their muzzles, tufts of fur protruding from the tips of their ears, and intense slitted eyes.

Luna! Are these your uh...’special friends?’

”Rightly so, fair Nemesis!” I flinched again. ”Though we fear that something more ominous may be approaching. We tried to gain access to Canterlot to talk to our sister, but we were shot at as soon as we came close! Our own ponies shot arrows and magic at us! We saw something on the way, it appeared as though they were gathering forces to begin a march. We took what members of our guard that we could and flew back here post haste.” She gestured back to the bat ponies, who stood more erect at their mention.

What? I facepalmed. Sunbutt’s shooting at her own sister now?! What’s gotten into her…

“I’m sorry, I think I heard something that couldn’t POSSIBLY be true. I thought I heard that Celestia’s own guard attacked her sister,” Gilgamesh began in a jovial tone that was thinly veiling his rage. “PLEASE tell me that Ellura has somehow taken over Canterlot and its forces, because the only other explanation is that CELESTIA attacked her OWN SISTER, which may be the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard. Heh heh.”

Everyone looked to Gilgamesh and could practically see the anger burning in his eyes.
Luna spoke first. “We wish it were a lit sir…” She looked over at me for help.

Gilgamesh. I offered.

“Sir Gilgamesh. We truly wish we were engaging in humorous storytelling, but we are still trying to get over it ourselves. Whatever has happened in Canterlot, it is clear to me that Celestia is no longer in control of what is happening anymore.”

“Ok then. That’s… slightly less aggravating. At least we can assume that Celestia is somehow kept out of the loop on this.”

Luna nodded. “It still worries us greatly. if she is no longer directing our citizens, we wonder what Ellura has done to her.” Just then, a midnight blue bat pony with metal blades in place of his wings approached the Princess.

“Princess Luna.” The stallion’s voice was gruff.

“Ah, Lieutenant Shadow Streak. Have you something to report?”

Shadow Streak bowed his head. “Our scouts have returned from their patrol as you requested, there is some activity off in the Everfree and surrounding diameter of Ponyville, about ten miles out. We tried to get close to investigate, but we were shot at and had to make a retreat. I fear that something may be coming, something big.”

Before Princess Luna could respond, there was a bright purple flash and six more ponies appeared nearby. “Thank goodness you’re all here!” Twilight’s voice made itself known as she rushed to the center of our little group. “I have something I need to tell you all. I tried to send a letter to the princess, but when I sent it, all I got back was…” She unfurled the parchment of paper she was levitating. Instead of a letter, it was in fact a wanted poster, depicting all of the mane six, princess Luna, and myself.

...Well shit. There goes convincing Celestia. I commented.

Gilgamesh snatched the poster out of Twilight’s magical grip and brought it to his face. Everypony took a step back, ready for the warrior to explode.

“You. Have. Got. To. Be. FUCKING! SHITTING ME!” he shouted before vaporizing most of the paper with a blast of his heat vision. He then threw the smoldering remains on the ground before stomping on it. “HOW THE FUCK CAN SHE TRUST THOSE DAMN CORPORATE BASTARDS OVER HER PERSONAL STUDENT AND HER OWN SISTER!? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HER!? THAT LITTLE PIECE OF-!” He stopped himself short, suppressing his rage with a growl before taking in a deep breath. “I’mma need a minute,” he said simply before stomping a few yards away and sitting down, taking a meditative position and breathing deeply. “Be like water,” he muttered.

Once Gilgamesh had sat down to meditate and grew quiet, Twilight leaned over to me. “...what does shit mean?”

...I’ll tell you later.

“Is he a...friend of yours?”

He is. He’s here to help us.

“Oh...good. I’d hate to be the one he’s angry at.”

Twilight, you and me both.

Before the conversation could carry on anymore, a siren could be heard wailing in the distance. Once it was over, a voice rang out loud and clear. ”Attention Ponyville Citizens. According to article 1.9.0.1.1 of the biohazard regulations, and in accordance with authorization from princess Celestia, your town has been infected with a dangerous contagion. Ponyville is therefore scheduled to undergo Quarantine. Please return to your homes, and remain there until we deem it safe to exit again.”

In the distance, I could see movement. Not just from one direction though, all around ponyville, ponies of all shapes and sizes were making a march straight for it. Many of them wore black overcoats with the Ellura corporation on them, more were outfitted with royal guard apparel. The only thing that mattered to me though was that there was a lot of them. Ponies around us began to panic and chatter in a frenzy, and stamping hooves overrode anything else that could make sound as the ponies dashed to and fro in a panic.

My eye narrowed. So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?

~Gilgamesh~

This was bad. Not only was Ellura making a full out assault, but they actually had Celestia’s damn authorization to go forward. To say I was pissed was an understatement. Hell, even livid was an understatement. I couldn’t fathom how Celestia, the kindest wisest pony in Equestria, could do something so ludicrous. I guess… something in me snapped, and suddenly I knew what to do.

“Princess Luna,” I called over the screaming ponies, catching her attention as I stood up. “Royal Canterlot Voice. Send the civies home.”

Princess Luna looked a bit unnerved at the sudden calmness of the warrior’s voice, but she nodded and ascended into the sky. ”Subjects, we implore you to return to your homes! We will deal with this to the best of our ability!” The ponies didn’t need to be told twice, they all made a mad dash for their respective homes, leaving nothing more than myself, Nemesis, Bronze Mane, the elements, Princess Luna, and her guard in the streets.

“Twilight Sparkle, we need to keep them out and keep them out for good. Ideas?”

Twilight was in full out panic mode, her mane was frayed and she was inhaling and exhaling deeply as she watched the line of ponies steadily advancing.

Twilight! Nemesis shouted. His voice seemed to snap her out of it, she looked back at us, still with panic in her eyes.

“Well...I don’t know! I mean, I could construct a barrier around Ponyville to keep them from getting in but, it would take a lot of time! They’d be here by then! My brother is better with shields than I am, ohhh I wish he were here…” She began to hyperventilate again.

“How far will it extend?” I asked firmly.

Presented with a problem, Twilight Sparkle seemed to calm down a bit. “If I can channel just the right amount of magic, excluding Starswirl’s law of relativity and—”

“Cut the magic mumbo jumbo Twilight!” Rainbow Dash spoke up, gesturing towards the approaching ponies. “We’re kind of on a schedule here!”

“Right well, I’d say about...half a mile? Maybe a mile?”

“Get to work on it. In the meantime, Rainbow Dash, you take Fluttershy, Nemesis and some of the Lunar Guard to the cottage to retrieve her animals, Zecora, and supplies you might need. Princess Luna, you, Rarity, and the rest of your Guard protect Twilight Sparkle while she prepares the spell. Applejack, you, Pinkie, and I are going to the farm to get your family and as much apples as we can get ahold of.”

“You will not take any of Our soldiers with you?” Luna asked.

“I’m enough by myself. Which brings me to one final concern,” I began before turning to her. “Princess Luna, this may sound odd for you to hear, but I have great respect and admiration for you. I always have, no matter which reality I see you in. This isn’t my realm, so I need you to make the decision here. The Solar Guard will be spared no matter what, but there is the question of Ellura’s forces. I can defeat them, Princess. I can do it without ending a single one of their lives, I have that power. But the fact is, I don’t want to give them the courtesy. There is a part of me that is screaming for their heads. But this is your realm, your kingdom, and your ponies. If you ask me to show restraint, I shall. If you let me do as I wish, I cannot promise that there will be even bodies left to bury of those scum. Their lives are in your hooves, Princess Luna. What would you have me do?”

Everyone looked at me in utter shock, trying to process not only the intense amount of malice my words held but also that I had just put the Lunar Diarch on the spot.

Princess Luna regarded me with a wide eyed stare, the full effect of what I had just said to her taking its toll. She looked to the advancing wall of ponies, conflict rising in her eyes. She turned to me again. “As much as we would love to see them punished for what they have done, brave Gilgamesh, they cannot receive their punishment if they are no longer with us, can they?”

"True enough. I understand. Twilight, get to work. Applejack, Pinkie, get behind me. The rest of you, get ready to move on my count."

The less regimented members of the team hesitated but followed my orders. I approached the group of ponies blocking the path to Sweet Apple Acres.

"Halt! Surrender or you will be struck down!" the Ellura commander shouted. The Ellura agents readied their firearms, which looked about the level of Wild West weapons, repeater rifles and single action revolvers. The Solar Guard readied their crossbows and all the unicorns charged magic.

The two earth pony mares peeked out nervously from behind my legs.

"Hear me, ponies! I am Gilgamesh, mighty warrior who has bested dragons and entire armies! To the Solar Guard, I say return to your Princess and protect her from these vile deceivers! To the agents of Ellura, I warn you now, go back to your corporate masters, your contemptible foalnappers and murderers, or suffer my wrath!"

The solar guard looked back to the Ellura commander in confusion. The pony snorted. “Empty threats and lies. What are you going to do, 'mighty warrior?' All you have is your size and your spear! We have guns!”

Even in my tranquil fury it couldn't help but smirk at what he'd set me up with.

"No, what you have are bullets and the hope that when your guns are empty I’m no longer standing, because if I am, I'll have taken you down before you've reloaded."

The commander growled. "Put the freak down!"

I quickly cast Haste, Protect and Shell on myself before quickly unclipping my Naginata. As they all let loose with their weapons and magic I skillfully deflected their blasts with my weapon, the few that did hit me barely did a damn thing, bouncing off my enchanted form. After nearly half a minute of firing they stopped, the shock and fear in their eyes palpable.

"My turn."

I gripped my weapon and swung. Hard. They all went flying from a hurricane level gust of wind, barely having the chance to scream before they went crashing into the trees, each other, or just being sent off over the horizon.

"Sweet Celestia!" Applejack cried.

"Yowie zowie!" Pinkie exclaimed. "Now that's a show stopper!"

"Grab the weapons!" I shouted to the two mares, snapping them out of their stupor. "MOVE!" I ordered the others.

~Shadow Streak~

If there was one thing that Shadow Streak knew, it was his loyalty and pledge to the Princess. Never once had he questioned a decision that she had made, or thought an act of hers to be a false one.

“On your left!” Shadow streak turned, intercepting an arrow that had almost broken through their defenses. He sliced it to two pieces with one slash of his metallic wings, then turned to intercept another pony who was rushing towards Princess Luna from behind. Purple light lit up the battlefield, casting a strange glow on the coats of the ponies surrounding them. Stormclouds had gathered overhead, and thunder was beginning to boom as the magenta light came to a point far above them, then spread out and began to form a very large dome. The light emanated from a purple unicorn, who was at the center of their group. They had formed a circle around her, others taking to the sky and venturing out onto the battlefield to intercept soldiers before they reached their defense. The alabaster unicorn named Rarity was proving herself to be more than a simple dressmaker as well, spells zapped from her horn in rapid succession, pushing the Solar Guard and Ellura soldiers back or outright knocking them out cold.

No, not once had Shadow Streak questioned Princess Luna, but even now, at the back of his mind a question gnawed. He could see the craze in his enemy’s eyes, he could see their lack of hesitation and he knew that if he hesitated for a second, he may just be another unidentifiable corpse on the battlefield. He also knew that given the chance, the enemy would not let them live.

So why had Princess Luna allowed them to live? He cast a glance over at Princess Luna. She had produced a long spear, the blade of it curved into the shape of a crescent moon on the tip. Glowing arcane armor surrounded her, and she parried and pushed, slashed and swiped with an elegance that he had seen in no other.

A blow to his head snapped him from his daze, and he quickly retaliated with a slash across the attacking pony’s legs. The pony fell to his knees, and Shadow Streak rose into the air to deliver a strong kick to the side of the pony’s head, sending him flying several feet away. Unconscious, not dead. Shadow Streak resumed his defensive position and narrowed his eyes. He would just have to trust his Princess.

~Nemesis~

“Halt! By order of Princess Celest—”

“STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!”

I charged straight through the group of ponies blocking our path through the Everfree, sending them flying in every direction. I didn’t slow down, I pumped my arms and continued to run. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew alongside me, and several Lunar Guards brought up the rear.
“Uhm...Mr. Nemesis do you think you could be a little more...gentle with them?”

I cast a glance over at Fluttershy. Sure. I’ll be certain to hit them a little softer next time. Right after I said this, I smashed through another group of guards. Fluttershy squeaked.

“It shouldn’t be much farther!” Rainbow Dash spoke shooting ahead of us. “Zecora’s hut isn’t too deep in, we just gotta grab her and go!” I nodded. We rushed into a clearing. On the far side of the clearing, I could see the glint of rifles as they took aim at me. At us.

Thinking quickly, I grabbed both Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash and turned, exposing my back to the weapons, and used my body to shield them.

“Eep!”

“What the—?!”

Pain flourished across my backside as I heard the guns discharge, all of them finding their mark. Shreds of my trenchcoat flew on either side of my field of vision. Ignoring the pain for now, I released the two pegasi in my grasp and turned as I raised my rocket launcher. The ponies shouted and tried to scatter just as I let a round fly. It found its mark dead in the center of their formation, a bright orange glow and an explosion echoed across the Everfree as the ponies went flying.

The Lunar Guard emerged out of the foliage behind us coming to a stop as they saw the condition I was in. I heard Fluttershy gasp.

“Nemesis! You’re hurt!” I glanced over my shoulder. I couldn’t see the injury, but judging by the blood on the ground around me my guess was that it didn’t look pretty.

I know you’re probably gonna find this hard to believe, but it’ll heal.

“Whaddya mean it’ll heal?! Injuries like that don’t heal so easily, we need to get you to a doc—” I cut Rainbow Dash off by holding up a hand.

There are a lot more important things to be worrying about right now than my injuries, let’s go get Zecora and then get to Fluttershy’s cottage. The ponies looked unsure but nodded.

Rainbow Dash was right, just past the tree line, Zecora’s hut came into view. Without hesitation, I opened the front door. Zecora! You in here?!

The Zebra galloped into view, her face a mask of uncertainty. “Friends! What has occurred? All of these sounds and fighting are of a nature most absurd!”

“Ellura’s trying to take Ponyville!” Rainbow Dash spoke. “We came here to get you; we need to go! Twilight’s putting up a barrier to protect us from them, but it won’t reach your hut! So you need to come with us!”

“Uhm...if you don’t mind that is.” Fluttershy added meekly, hiding behind her mane. Zecora smiled softly at Fluttershy before giving Rainbow Dash and I a hard look.

“I will gather what I can and meet you outside. By then hopefully some of this fighting will subside!” With that last rhyme, the Zebra disappeared back into her hut. I turned to the Lunar Guards.

Help her gather what she needs. The guards nodded and flew to help Zecora. Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and myself went outside to wait.

“Halt! Surrender or you with be str—” The voices of guards from nearby was quickly cut off as they went sailing over our heads. I looked back to where they were to see Bronze Mane, his horn smoking as he glared at the fallen guards.

Bronze Mane? What are you doing here?

He tossed a crossbow at us, one which Rainbow Dash swooped down and caught in her hooves. Fluttershy meekly started backing away towards the tree line. “Saving your flanks, that’s what!” He called before gesturing in the direction he had come from. “Get ready, more of them are coming!”

True to his word, more Solar Guard and Ellura soldiers emerged from the treeline, weapons trained on us. I let out a roar and charged straight at them. They fired their weapons, but it didn’t slow me down. They dropped their weapons and tried to run as I smashed through them, grabbing a nearby pony and throwing him at his group of comrades nearby. They went tumbling to the ground. I felt something pressed up against the back of my head.

“Heh, what are you gonna do now big g—” There was a thump, and an Ellura soldier flew past me. Rainbow Dash shot overhead and shouted at him.

“That!” Before giving me a grin and rushing back towards Zecora’s hut.

I owe you for that one. I said to her, before making my way back to the hut as well. Several Lunar Guards had emerged from the hut and were battling with the advancing ponies, and Zecora had emerged as well with a full saddlebag. Judging by the amount of ponies though, there was no possible way we were going to get her out of here without going through one hell of a fight. Just then, a roar ripped through the battlefield, causing everyone in battle to freeze.

~Fluttershy~

Fluttershy was cowering behind Zecora’s hut, trying to make herself seem as small and non-threatening as possible to avoid having to fight anypony. She was shaking. She hated fighting, why couldn’t everypony just get along?

Then she heard the sound of hooves, and looked up in fear to see an Ellura officer pointing a gun at her. “You can come quietly, or you can put up a fight.” He said, the gun making a clicking sound as he trained it on her.

“O-okay…” Fluttershy meekly replied and began to crawl forward to comply with the Ellura soldier’s demands, but then a loud roar ripped through the Everfree. Fluttershy’s ears perked up, while the Ellura soldier began to look around in a panic.

“What in the world was that?!” A Manticore charged from the forest, and the Ellura soldier could only scream as the beast lifted a paw and swatted the soldier away like he was a fly. Fluttershy looked up at the massive beast, who first roared, then gently purred as it stared down at her.

“Oh! It’s you!” Fluttershy hugged the massive beast’s head, who purred and licked her in response. “Is your paw feeling better?” The Manticore showed Fluttershy its paw, which looked to be healed. “Oh, good! My friends and I are trying to get our friends Zecora back to Ponyville, then we’re going to help the rest of my animals back at my cottage. Do you want to help us?” The Manticore picked Fluttershy up before placing her on its back, then let out a roar and charged into the fight.

~Nemesis~

“Retreat! Retreat!” the soldiers ran around in a panic as a massive Manticore burst onto the battlefield with a roar, swatting aside Ellura soldiers and Solar Guard alike as if they were made of paper. At first I was surprised, but then when I saw Fluttershy on its back I could only grin. Always the quiet ones. I thought. Alright, we got Zecora. Some of you guards escort her back to Ponyville, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and I are going for the cottage! With a nod, some of the Lunar Guard broke off with Zecora in tow. I gestured towards the cottage and myself, Rainbow, Fluttershy, and about three guards followed me. I could hear rain beginning to pelt the ground around me, and felt a few drops on my body. It wasn’t long before the drizzle turned to a drench, and a steady downpour began. Thunder boomed overhead, causing Fluttershy to squeak.

“Hey, what gives?!” I could hear Rainbow Dash shout over the rain. “It’s not scheduled to rain this morning!”

It’s the everfree, I spoke. It always does unpredictable things, though from the looks of it, it’s happening over Ponyville as well. Wonder if someone’s messing with the weather schedule. With a resounding boom and a flash of lightining to accompany my statement, I couldn’t help but wonder how Gilgamesh and the others were holding up…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Unaware to either party, back in the clearing in the Everfree where Nemesis had gotten shot, a lone pony wandered. He wore glasses and had an Ellura lab coat on. The pony approached the spot where Nemesis had gotten shot and produced a vial, scooping up some of the blood on the ground with it. He took off his glasses, revealing bright fiery red eyes. “Oh yes,” He spoke, a grin plastered over his features. “This will do nicely.” Lightning flashed and thunder boomed as the pony laughed.

Author's Notes:

This chapter and the next is a crossover with The Mighty Warrior of Epicness. It was a lot of fun to write. c:

Falling Stars [Part II]

~Gilgamesh~

“How’s it coming, Applejack?” I called back.

“Almost done! We’re just gettin’ a few things from the barn!”

I nodded and turned my head back to the forces of the Solar Guard and Ellura, waiting nearly half a mile away with their weapons and horns trained on me. After a few gusts of wind and deflecting of projectiles and magic bursts they realized there was no way they could overpower me, or even get close. They were now just waiting for us to move so they could screw up our plans.

“Alright, we’ve ready!”

I turned back to see the Apple family, ready for battle and transport. Applejack held a pitchfork in one hoof, rope hanging off her back and hooked up to a cart full of apples. Big Mac had a woodcutting axe and pulling his own cart, Granny Smith sitting on top and armed with a frying pan wearing her military helmet. Apple Bloom held a shovel and wore a soup pan on her head. Even Pinkie Pie was pulling a cart, she was an earth pony after all, and had her party cannon at the ready. Everypony except Granny had saddlebags on as well.

"Let's send those blasted idjits back where they came from!" the elder Apple shouted.

"Easy Granny, we just need ta get to Ponyville to back up Twi an the rest,” Applejack interrupted.

“More than that, we need to make sure we can get all these supplies down there as well. If they manage to take out any of the carts that's less food for Ponyville to weather the storm,” I commented.

“Ah, don't pay it no mind, them pegasi will take these storm clouds away soon enough.”

“I don’t think that’s what he mean, Granny,” the youngest Apple commented.

“Now come on, Grigormash, puts those muscles of yers to work!” she ordered, ignoring her descendant.

“Gilgamesh,” Applejack corrected.

“Thas what I said!”

I chuckled at the spry old pony. If her strength matched her stubbornness, she’d probably be a match for the Princesses.

“It’d be my pleasure, ma’am,” I replied before unclipping my naginata, casting my three buffing spells before charging forwards.

~Rarity~

The ringing of magic was a constant companion as Rarity fired spell after spell, ponies falling one after the other like dominoes. Twilight’s barrier had reached its apex, and was now very steadily curving down, beginning to form over the town. It was at this point that the guard and Ellura realized what they were doing, and focused every effort to try and break through their tight defense around Twilight.

Rarity wasn’t able to rest for a second, whenever one pony fell two more were there to replace him. Thestrals flitted about the skies, picking off individual ponies before they could get to their defense, but they could only do so much.

A glint caught Rarity’s eye, and she noticed a group of ponies all pointing something at their defenses. It was long, metal, and gleamed in the flashes of lightning. Rarity heard a bang, and closed her eyes to brace for pain. However, the pain didn’t come. She opened her eyes, and before her stood Princess Luna. The Princess now had physical armor on, a sleek metallic armor not unlike the armor that Nightmare Moon wore, but it seemed far less intimidating on the smaller Alicorn. Luna levitated her weapon off to her right, a shield hovering in front of her. Once the ponies who had shot at them paused to reload, Princess Luna’s eyes glowed.

“Foul scum! You will NOT harm our subjects!” She lifted her weapon and sliced it horizontally through the air in front of her. A blast of energy dyed the color of moonlight left her blade, smashing into the attacking ponies and sending them tumbling. Princess Luna pointed her weapon to the ground before glancing around, then held it to her side as she turned to Rarity. “Are you unharmed, generous Rarity?”

Rarity nodded, and Princess Luna smiled. “Good.”

A blast left Rarity’s horn, throwing back a pony that was about to attack the princess with her back turned. Princess Luna glanced back in surprise before giving Rarity another smile. Her smile faded though, when she noticed that the lull in enemy assault was not too last, and even more ponies were coming their way.

“We will not last much longer…” Princess Luna frowned, adopting a fighting stance once more.

“We don’t need to last much longer, once Twilight gets the barrier up we’ll be safe. I just hope our friends can make it back in time…” Rarity glanced out over the everfree and the path towards the apple farm. “Please hurry back…”

~Nemesis~

Thankfully Fluttershy’s cottage is relatively close to Zecora’s hut, we made it out of the Everfree and into the clearing near Fluttershy’s hut in a relatively short amount of time.

“The barrier’s halfway there!” Rainbow Dash flew up and gestured towards Ponyville. “We gotta book it! C’mon!” She shot off towards the cottage, the Manticore following suit and me bringing up the rear. When we got close, we noticed there were an odd amount of wagons around Fluttershy’s home.

Well that’s definitely odd...Fluttershy I don’t suppose you needed all these wagons for some reason? She slowly shook her head. I nodded and took the lead, reaching the front door first. I held out a hand to get them behind me, then slowly opened the door. Immediately, a dark form shot past my head and out into the open.

“Elizabeak!” Fluttershy jumped off the manticore to comfort the figure, which turned out to be a chicken. I squinted my eye before opening the door the rest of the way. Inside was, the best way I could describe it, chaos. Things were thrown everywhere, furniture was overturned, and feathers and fur alike were floating in the air. What I noticed most of all were cages, mostly cages with animals stuck in them. Once I opened the door fully, I saw the Ellura personnel gathering some of Fluttershy’s animals up.

I was about to act, but a small yellow and pink figure shot past me, and hovered a few feet in front of me. “WHAT do you think you’re doing?!” The Ellura personnel stopped and turned, looking at the yellow pegasus who was shouting at them. “Capturing innocent animals with no way to defend themselves?! What is WRONG with you?!”

One pony with a red tinted coat and a blonde mane smirked. “My, this one’s got quite the mouth on her. Well really it’s none of your business, but since you’re gonna be dead soon anyways, I’ll tell you. These,” He kicked a small cage nearby with a group of small porcupines in it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rainbow Dash back away from the cottage. “STUPID filthy animals are getting run through our genetics program. They won’t be ‘innocent’ for much longer.” He smirked.

Rainbow Dash whispered in my ear. “Dude, get away from the door.”

I glanced back at her. ...Why?

That’s when I heard it. The low growl that steadily rose into a scream. What happened next...well, I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll say I was at least courteous enough to shut the door before I backed away.

...It’s always the— I flinched as I heard a massive crash come from inside of the cottage, followed by a bloodcurdling scream. —quiet ones.

Once everything had gone quiet, Rainbow Dash slowly inched towards the cottage, opening the door with her hoof. Inside, every single cage was pulverized into an unidentifiable mess, and Ellura personnel laid strewn about the room, some of them stuck in a fetal position and rocking back and forth. Fluttershy stood in the middle of the room, the Ellura member from earlier was seated down in front of her and staring right at her, his face a mask of abject horror.

“Uh...shy?” Rainbow Dash touched a hoof to her friend’s shoulder. Fluttershy flinched, then stood erect. She turned, her big blue eyes wide.As soon as she turned away from the stallion, the stallion fell onto his side, breathing but not moving.

“Oh...my...what happened?”

Something that I may need to see a psychiatrist about in a year or two… I mumbled. Note to self, never, EVER, piss off Fluttershy.

After the Ellura members were...taken care of, it was just a matter of searching the rest of the cottage for any animals that remained, then Fluttershy grabbed any important belongings and ushered her animals out the door. In the distance, the force field was now getting close to the ground.

“Okay, we’ve got the animals, we got Zecora, let’s GO! They might need our help!” after a nod of agreement, Fluttershy re-mounted her manticore, and I jumped, and we were on our way to Ponyville once more. I just hoped that everyone else was holding up alright.

~Shadow Streak~

The thestral lieutenant barely managed to deflect another bullet with his wing blades before rushing forwards to cut the attacker across the foreleg before smacking the firearm away and bucking him in the head. He was panting heavily, pushing himself to the absolute limit.

He then screamed in pain as a crossbow bolt hit him through the hind leg. His stumbling left him open for a magic blast to knock him over. He raised his head only to see a row of guns pointed at him. Resigned to his fate he tensed, expecting the final sting of projectiles.

Suddenly,of all things, music began to blare. Shadow Streak saw three earth pony pulled carts of apples approaching, but they were severely overshadowed by the intimidating bipedal figure barrelling towards the town. The warrior Gilgamesh had his naginata drawn, his eyes shining red with power, and the intimidating music somehow blaring from him. A large portion of the opposing forces fired their weapons and blasts of magic, all of them bouncing off him, not even bothering to dodge or block them, before smashing into the ponies like a battering ram.

The warrior then began to swing his weapon, unleashing gusts of air that sent the enemies flying like leaves in the wind. Strikes to the ground unleashed massive explosions of dirt with similar effects to the Ellura forces and the Solar Guard. The armored being continued to assault those that attacked him, not even reacting to the myriad of bolts and bullets beyond simply garnering his attention. As he continued wind began to spiral around him like a tornado, his shining eyes of power and the occasional strike of lightning from above striking fear even into his own heart. And it was then he realized that that was exactly what the warrior was going for, made even more evident by the screams of the enemy forces as they backed or even ran from him.

In the middle of this intimidating display he raised his weapon upward. ”I SHALL NEVER TIRE!” he proclaimed before a bolt of lightning struck it. Rather than convulse in pain the electricity began to gather at the tip of his weapon. He then lunged at the enemy forces shouting ”FEEL HEAVEN’S WRATH!” He slammed his weapon into the ground and produced what the lieutenant could only describe as a wave of electricity, extending forwards for several yards and blasting away any opponent in front of it. Shadow Streak would never admit this, but he nearly pissed himself at the display of power. It was like looking upon an angry god striking down at mere mortals, something that legends of the Princesses had described in fables. For a brief moment, he wondered if he might actually be their equal.

As the ponies of Ellura and the Solar Guard pulled away from the warrior, Shadow Streak spotted something else. A figure in the sky, but it wasn’t a pegasus. it was bipedal, not unlike the warrior who was decimating their opponents. Then, with a crash of thunder to accompany it, the figure landed in the middle of the fleeing ponies, sending several flying as he did. Then he stood, dwarfing everything around him. lightning flashed, and the only part of the creature that wasn’t cloaked in shadow was his glowing red eye. “STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!” The ponies yelled and tried to get away from him, but the monster was relentless,swinging left and right and sending their enemies flying, or unholstering his weapon and causing massive explosions across the battlefield. In short, the two bipedal figures made short work of the army that had almost been the end of them.

“Retreat! The barrier is almost down, we need to get out of here before we’re locked in!” Solar Guard and Ellura personnel began to flee for the edge of the barrier, the injured only managing a crawl or a limping trot. When ponies tried to flee for the route of the everfree, a massive Manticore blocked their path and they quickly scattered to find another route out. Shadow Streak tried to struggle to his hooves, but he fell again. A soft blue hoof extended to him. He looked up to see Princess Luna standing over him, a smile on her face.

“Need some help, Lieutenant?” Shadow Streak could only grin sheepishly, then took the Princess’s hoof. She smiled softly at him. “You’ve done a fine job here ton—” Shadow Streak heard a loud bang. Time slowed down. His Princess’s eyes widened in shock. Shadow Streak himself could only stare at the splash of red that appeared on his Princess’s side, before her legs failed her and she began to fall. At this, he took a sharp breath and dove for her.

“PRINCESS LUNA!”

~Nemesis~

I heard the shot, but it didn’t occur to me until the thestral with metal wings called out Princess Luna’s name. I saw her fall, and then lay unmoving in her soldier’s hooves.

I can’t describe what I felt in that moment...but if anything it felt like an indescribable anger. I was angry. Screw that, I was pissed. I was livid. I looked, and saw a unicorn lowering a gun that had been pointing at Princess Luna. I felt a pressure rise in my head, and I did everything I could to slow it down or stop it, but there was no preventing it.

This pony had to die.

It started slow, a low growl in my throat and I was stomping towards him. I wasn’t in control of my own actions. I don’t think he knew what was coming for him, as he had a smug smirk on his muzzle. The pony had a dark green coat with a black mane. Then he chose to look over at me, and the smile fell.

”STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSS!” the pony dropped his weapon and ran. I wasn’t having any of that. I crouched and jumped, sailing overhead and landing in front of him with a crash. He fell and started backing away from me.

“S-stay back!”

I ignored his pleas, and sent tentacle to wrap tight around him. He let out a choked cry, and I turned and threw him. Not with intent to kill, this pony had so much left before I allowed him to die. He bounced across the ground like a ragdoll, coming to a stop near the town hall. I stomped towards him again with renewed purpose. He was coughing, spitting up blood and rainwater. The growl rose in my throat again and I felt something pulling at my hands, urging me to end it.

I could hear dull voices, calling out my name, telling me to stop. Familiar voices too, but almost like a dream. They were from some memory long ago. They weren’t important.

I wanted to stop, I keep telling myself that. I wanted to so badly. But as I neared the incapacitated pony, my hand balling into a fist, I realized.

I couldn’t stop.

I lifted my hand, prepared to strike a blow that would end it. Then, a tall figure stepped between us. In my rage, I didn’t recognize who it was, but my fist stopped.

Get OUT of the way… My voice was twisted, it didn’t sound like my own.

“Regain control of yourself, Nemesis,” the figure ordered. “You are a monster in body, not in soul.”

I said ‘MOVE!’

I punched at his head only for him to step aside and grab my wrist. Before I knew it I was thrown onto my back. I moved to aim my launcher at him only for something sharp to stab into my wrist and hold my arm down.

HE SHOULD DIE!

“Get ahold of yourself! Remember what you yourself said about revenge but a few hours ago!”

The figure’s words brought on a headache, and with them, memories. ‘As I’ve experienced in the past, vengeance is like a wild fire. It destroys everything, even things that are close to it.

Did...I say that?

The headache grew, and I could only yell in pain. It was almost like having an out of body experience, I was watching myself do and say these things, but I could do nothing to stop it. Then, at the apex of pain, I felt like I was being thrust back into control of my body.

I blinked once, turning my head. Six mares were staring at me,some with their hoof over their mouth and staring at me with a mix of fear and worry. I turned my head again. Gilgamesh was standing over me, a weapon thrust into my wrist.

Uh...did I miss something? What happened?

Gilgamesh withdrew his weapon from my arm before offering his hand.

“Just a battle with your worse half. Don’t worry, you didn’t do much.”

I took his hand and he pulled me to my feet.

Sorry. I don’t know what-

“Your reasons were righteous, but they consumed you. Killing should be done out of necessity, not punishment, especially to those weaker than you,” he said in a tone I could only describe as sage like.

Killing? I don’t—

He then walked over to the unicorn that had been the source of my rage before stopping right in front of him. I noticed then, the condition the unicorn was in.

...Oh God...did I…?

“It has been said that mercy is the mark of great being,” he stated. A moment later he kicked the stallion hard enough send him bouncing for several yards. “Guess I’m just an ok one.”

Everyone was silent for a moment more, the stallion Gilgamesh had kicked was crawling away from us now. After a moment, I remembered why I had gotten so upset.

Princess Luna! I turned to the six mares who had been watching us. Is she…?

“She’ll be okay.” Twilight spoke. Her stance was shaky, and she looked like she was about to fall over. “Her Thestrals are taking her to the Ponyville hospital now. She’ll get the best care they can offer there.”

Good… I breathed. I looked out across Ponyville. A shimmering, purple barrier now covered the entirety of the town. Ellura and Solar Guard members laid scattered about, some unconscious and others still crawling in futility towards the edge of the barrier. A large amount of ponies were still gathered outside of the barrier, glaring in at us.

We should round up whoever got locked in here with us. They can be our prisoners. Can one of you go to the hospital and get some of the Lunar Guards to help? They nodded and set off to do just that. Twilight began stumbling towards the hospital.

Twilight.

“Y-yeah?” She squinted at me tiredly.

Go get some rest. You’ve earned it.

She gave me a tired smile before changing direction and stumbling towards the library. I turned towards Gilgamesh, his back still to me. I put a hand on his shoulder to get his attention. Gilgamesh, everything okay?

“This will be a difficult battle, Nemesis. I am sorry I won’t be here to see it all through,” he began. “But at least I can help prepare you as best I can before I leave.” He turned to me, a look of sadness in his eyes. “Gather the citizens and bind the members of Ellura and the Solar Guard. I’ve got a speech to work on.”

~Gilgamesh~

I stood as intimidatingly as I could in front of town hall, everyone in Ponyville murmuring or staying quiet, afraid they might say something that could anger the imposing figure who stood before them. To my right were the bound members of the Solar Guard and Ellura, and to my left were the Elements (minus one exhausted lavender unicorn), the Thestrals, Princess Luna, who insisted upon attending despite her wounds, and of course Nemesis.

“Citizens of Ponyville,” I began. “My name is Gilgamesh, warrior from beyond time and space. I hail from a realm not unlike this one, an Equestria ruled peacefully by two mighty Princesses of the Sun and Moon, and having been saved several times by six brave mares bound together by friendship. Indeed, if you were to suddenly find yourselves there you would be hard pressed to even know you had changed locations. Aside from one major detail.” I turned and pointed at the group of ponies in the black trenchcoats and lab coats with the Ellura insignias.

“Them. This much lauded Eurella corporation is absent from my realm. And much to its benefit, might I add.”

This earned me several scowls from the Ellura ponies, which I promptly ignored.

“You might ask ‘how can I say such a thing? Does he not know of the great strides in healing and medicine they have made?’”

Several murmurs of agreement came from the crowd at that.

“To this I say though I have no firsthand knowledge of such a thing, I can indeed guess that there have in fact been several incredible benefits they have provided, especially in a world more likely to use magic than chemistry. However, these benefits, though undoubtedly great, are just a front for their true machinations. A entire company run by ponies with delusions of grandeur, experimenting with a substance that they cannot hope to control in hopes of achieving power, blind to the fact that their creations will destroy them, and most importantly more than willing to treat their fellow ponies as naught more than test subjects.”

Several outcries of disapproval rang from the crowd, but to my surprise a butter yellow pegasus with a pink mane rose up. “I know it’s hard to believe, but you all must listen to him! I saw firsthoof what these...these awful ponies have done!” At Fluttershy’s outburst ponies seemed shocked, but everyone grew quiet and listened to what I had to say.

“I understand this is difficult to believe, and in fact I have nothing but words and the testimonies of others to try and convince you. But I assure you I speak the truth. And as terrible as it sounds, this is not the first time an organization like this has existed. They used the same substance, conducted the same experiments, had the same political and financial power to cover up their misdeeds. They even had a similar sounding name: the Umbrella Corporation.”

Ok, so that wasn’t exactly true, Umbrella wasn’t real, but they didn’t need to know that. Besides, Eurella was such a carbon-copy that I was surprised I didn’t see any pony versions of Mr. X sent to Ponyville.

“They used the money from their legitimate business practices, the creation of life saving medicines, to fund their true ambitions, and their goodwill only aided them. After all, who would suspect such a charitable business as being responsible for atrocities that most could only have nightmares about?”

More murmuring through the crowd. Most seemed to agree with what I was saying, but I still heard the occasional dissapproval, and even the word ‘freak’ tossed around.

Believe what you want, I heard Nemesis speak up. This ‘freak’ as you call him just saved all of your lives. And regardless of how you feel about me or him, what he says is the absolute truth.

“Ellura created the cure that kept my baby from dying as a foal!” I heard one mare shout over the crowd. “Are you telling me they used that as a cover?!”

“In a sense,” I began. “Your child’s recovery was no doubt a small but significant boon to them. Not only did that garner your own faith in them but also those of potential customers and, more importantly, investors. The more lives they saved, the more money they would receive, and the more funding they would have to continue their work. I also suspect that in the back of their minds they reasoned that another pony kept alive would be another potential test subject down the road.”

“Those…!” The mare suddenly shot forward towards the Ellura members, who visibly flinched. Several ponies had to hold her back.

“I understand your rage, but please restrain yourself. It won’t help you or anyone else.” I turned to the crowd again. “I unfortunately must bring you more distressing news. The influence of Ellura is even greater than that of the former Umbrella, as even Princess Celestia has placed her full trust in them, as should be obvious by the presence of the Solar Guard here,” I said as I motioned to the stallions and mares in bright armor. “And if that wasn’t enough proof, allow to cement the veracity of my claim.” I stepped towards the group who flinched and struggled as I approached. “Which of you is in charge?”

One unicorn stallion looked visibly uncomfortable, but he spoke up. “I-I am. Major Solar Flare, highest ranking officer present.”

“Tell me, Solar Flare, what orders were you given regarding the Elements of Harmony and Princess Luna?”

Solar Flare blinked, looking deep in thought for a moment. “W-we were told that the elements and Princess Luna had fallen prey to Nemesis’ sickness, and that we were to capture and restrain them by any means necessary.”

“And of course, like the good soldier you are, you didn’t question that order for a moment, did you?”

Solar Flare swallowed audibly. “We were aware that Nemesis spread around a sickness wherever he went, though I thought it a bit odd that a sickness would induce empathy to an individual…” His voice trailed off. “...but no, I didn’t question it. Failure to obey orders is not something I want on my record.”

“And what do you think now?” I asked, motioning to the other side of the stage, more specifically to Princess Luna’s wounded and bandaged form.

He breathed deeply, glaring at Ellura across the stage. “I think that Princess Celestia is mistaken in her belief of Ellura, and that the truth needs to be known.” He narrowed his eyes.

I looked into his eyes, and I saw no hint of deceit in them. I turned to thestrals and nodded, the dark ponies walking across the stage and began undoing the bonds of their comrades.

“Solar Flare, you and your soldiers have likely already been declared as ‘contaminated’ by the Ellura’s advisors to Celestia. The moment you leave this barrier you will be hunted down by Ellura’s agents and your own comrades. Even still I give you the choice, will you stay or leave?”

Solar Flare looked over the rest of the guard and the thestrals before he nodded at them. “We will stay for now I think, though we will actively make plans to find a way to get to Canterlot and inform Celestia of what has happened. This…” He motioned to the forcefield, and the Ellura personnel setting up tents outside of it with biohazard symbols on them, and ponies walking around in hazmat gear. “This is wrong.”

“Glad you think so,” I said before turning back to the crowd. “Citizens, this is the situation you are in. Your own beloved Celestia is willing to trust the agents of Ellura to such an extent that she would even be willing to allow them to invade your town,” I turned to face the other end of the stage. “To apprehend the heroes who have saved her kingdom, her own protege, and even her own sister, and they are willing to do anything to keep that trust.” I turned back to the citizens. “This will not be an easy task, but there is hope. The tighter you cage an animal, the more it tries to break free. Even with all her faith in them, even Ellura cannot restrain the Princess fully. If you hold out long enough eventually Celestia will decide to take action herself, and Ellura can only hold her back for so long. When she comes, that will be your chance to show her the truth. I will not lie to you, this will no doubt be a terrible war of attrition, and you may be stuck here trying to hold out for days or even weeks. Your ability to cooperate will be tested to its limits, and you may wish to lash out at something in your frustration. But if you should find these times trying you need only look outside this dome of safety to see the truth,” I said while pointing to the ponies in hazmat suits. “That you must persevere, or you will be dead. Or worse.”

Now, rather than scowls or murmuring, ponies were stomping their hooves and cheering for me. Princess Luna was smiling wide, and the mane six were all hugging one another. Nemesis stood off to the side, his arms folded but I imagined that if he could smile, he would be.

~Nemesis~

Much to my surprise, ponies weren’t saddened or burdened by Gilgamesh’s speech, but they were invigorated. They were moving with energy, and I could feel some of their happiness rubbing off on me. I met Gilgamesh off to the side as he exited off the stage.

That was one hell of a speech. I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for doing that.

“Anything for a friend,” he said simply. “I wanted to do all I could, especially considering I can’t stay.”

“Can’t stay?!” A pink ball of fluff suddenly smashed into Gilgamesh’s leg, and Pinkie Pie wrapped it in a massive hug. “But I have yet to throw you a ‘wow-thanks-for-saving-ponyville-with-your-awesome-flashy-moves’ party! And I still have to throw Nemmy a ‘sorry-we-thought-you-were-a-bad-guy-but-now-we-don’t’ party! Don’t tell me you’re leaving!” She stared up at Gilgamesh with large puppy dog eyes, which, I admit, made even my heart melt.

The warrior scratched the pink party mare behind the ears. “Believe me Pinkie, there’s very few things I’d like more than one of your parties thrown in my honor, but I have my own Equestria that needs me. Though there’s no Ellura there are things that don’t belong, and I’m the only one strong enough to stop them. And more importantly,” he paused and turned to look at the Ellura agents being led away. “Despite how I may look now I’m not the best at controlling my emotions. Even now I have to suppress the urge to ki… do something I might regret to those scum.”

“Ya sure had us fooled, Sugarcube.” Applejack spoke up, trotting up to us along with the rest of the Mane Six. “The way ya’ll were able to calm Nemesis down, I had ya figured for one o’ those fancy psychiatrists they have for ponies in the big cities.”

“Indeed,” Rarity spoke up, tilting her head. “How are you able to remain so calm despite your…” She looked back at the Ellura ponies. “...urges?”

He turned to look at Princess Luna. “Giving your word to someone you revere helps. That and I’ve learned a few tricks over my life to try and trick myself into thinking I’m happy.”

Princess Luna broke off her conversation with her thestrals and saw Gilgamesh looking at her. She smiled and trotted up to us. “We do not think that we...nay, we do not think that Equestria will be able to thank you enough for all that you have done. Both of you.” She looked between me and Gilgamesh. “You have my sincerest thanks.” She bowed her head to the both of us.

There’s really nothing to be thankful for, I spoke, looking over at the Ellura ponies as well. I did what I thought was right. I couldn’t let another Umbrella Corporation root in a world that didn’t even have anything to do with them in the first place.

“Still,” Luna spoke, looking up to us. “Your intents were pure, and your heart is true. It would do us a great pleasure if you would allow us to give the both of you something. it is not much but, we hope that it will serve to rectify what we and our sister have done to you, Nemesis. And we hope that it will serve as something to remember us by, brave Gilgamesh.”

“A gift. For me?” Gilgamesh asked, seemingly stunned at the notion.

“Indeed.” Luna said with a smile. “Thestrals! Formation!” At this, the Thestrals that littered through the crowd snapped to attention, and arranged themselves in a row of ponies leading up to the two of us. The crowd fell silent as they watched. A lone Thestral walked up towards us, the other Thestrals rendered a salute. The lone thestral was carrying a large box on his back. When he reached us, Princess Luna picked it up with her magic, and when she opened it, revealed two gleaming medallions, decorated with a large gemstone depicting the symbol of Equestria, celestia and Luna circling each other with the sun and the moon.

“This is a badge of honor, something any and all guardponies work their whole lives to achieve. It is the highest form of honor that is within our power to grant to you, and as we said, it isn’t much, but we do hope that it will serve its intended purpose.” As she spoke, she levitated the medallions over our heads. “And not only is it a badge of honor, but it also acts as a two way mirror. You two may communicate with each other across the realms, so to speak, without needing to summon one another. It will also provide you with light, when you find to be lacking one.” She bowed her head. “We truly cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for us.”

I...don’t know what to say. I spoke, glancing over at Gilgamesh.

“You and me both pal,” he said simply. He then turned to Applejack, “Hey AJ, I’m gonna need your advice on something.”

Applejack’s eyes widened a bit at being addressed so directly, but she smiled. “Whatever it is, ah’ll do mah best to give ya’ an answer.”

“I told the ponies that they’d have to hold out for days or even weeks, but the truth is you guys might even need to hold out for months. By that time you guys will probably have food problems. I figure I could send you guys some things from my dimension, but the truth is I’m… not exactly on the best terms with my own Equestria. I’ve been trying to fix it but, well, let’s just say Nemmy’s situation isn’t unique to him. So I got to ask… how should I go about convincing my own Applejack to give some of her crop to guy she doesn’t particularly like or trust so he can help feed a group of ponies in another dimension?”

“Oh...that is a might pickle ya’ll are in.” Applejack scratched her chin with her hoof.

“I mean, it is a desperate situation, so stealing them is not out of the question, but I’d really prefer not having to stoop to that.”

“Ah’ll tell ya one thing, if you are lookin’ to make friend with that Applejack, and she acts anythin’ like this Applejack,” Applejack put a hoof to her own chest. “Stealin’ from her apple orchard definitely ain’t the best way to go about it.” She grinned. “If ya’ll want to get on mah good side, the quickest way would be through mah family.” She looked over at the rest of the apples. “You convince them that yer a good guy, ah won’t be long to follow.”

“Hm. Well, I do have some good deeds under my belt, including saving her little sister and her friends from a perverted octopus.”

“Uh...ah won’t ask specifics on that sugarcube, but if ya’ll saved my sister, you can bet that ah’ll be the first to plead yer case when you’ve got yer head on the metaphorical choppin’ block.”

“I hope so. Well, anyway guys, time moves differently from reality to reality, so I’d better be getting back. Last time I spent about twelve hours in one dimension only to find that two weeks passed by in mine,” Gilgamesh set down Pinkie Pie giving, her one last scratch behind the ears, before unclipping his naginata. “I wish you all the best.”

Good luck with things in your dimension. I nodded. Give Celestia a good beating for me, when you eventually get around to training them once you’ve convinced them you’re not going to murder every race on Equus.

“Heh. Yeah, you make it sound so simple. Well, see ya,” he said before cutting a rift into the space between dimensions. “May the winds of Freedom carry all your wings.”

“But I’m an earth pony!” Pinkie stated.

“Metaphorically.”

“Oh, ok.”

And with that he hopped in as it closed behind him.

~Golden Shield~

Confusion. Confusion and pain. Those were emotions that she was familiar with by now.

How long had it been? Weeks? Months? She lost track of time when she was dragged from her hospital. Now she was strapped down to a stretcher, in a large, empty dark room. She would see the occasional glint of light, and a faint hope would rise that her family was coming for her, but it was always just another doctor.

They had done something to her. She could feel it, trying to claw its way out. She felt like she was on her deathbed, waiting for whatever it was to take its toll. The sound of a door opening reached her ears, and light flooded into the room. She lifted her head to see a man in a lab coat approach her stretcher.

“Miss Shield. How are we feeling?”

“Go to Tartarus.”

“Good, verbal function is still working nicely I see.” He lifted a syringe, flicking it with his hoof once. Some deep red liquid sprayed out the end of it.

“N-no! No more! I’ve had it with your Celestia damned—”

The straps holding her down tightened, and she screamed in rage. “Sh, shhhh my dear. There’s no need to struggle right now. Your biology is very unique you know, we’ve tried several different strains of the virus on you and...well, rather than becoming what our...other subjects have,” Images popped up on the walls surrounding her suddenly, showing decomposing, rotting ponies still walking around. “you’ve persevered. You’ve beaten the virus down, and turned it into something...more.” He tapped the syringe again with his hoof. “Now, I have one last thing for you. It’s a pure, untainted sample that I acquired from our...original source. One last thing, and if it works, you can see your family again.”

Her struggling ceased.

“Ah, that still appeals to you, doesn’t it?” Then she felt the syringe go in, and her vision went red.

Author's Notes:

Last part of the two part crossover with The Mighty Warrior of Epicness

This was incredibly fun to write, and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as we did. :moustache:

Also, my editor has been away for the past two weeks, so if you spot any errors let me know!

Staring Into the Face of Adversity

Oh goodie. Here comes Robbie the pigeon. How are you doing Robbie?

The pigeon responded by pooping on his shoulder.

Oh wonderful. I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with you. Discord mentally sighed. He would kill to be able to move his eyeballs; the exact same thorny rosebush he had been staring at for the past two weeks had become rather boring. It hadn’t been a thorny rosebush at first of course, but plain roses were just so dreadfully boring! It took a shameful amount of time and exertion, but eventually he was able to make the plant sprout thorns. it was promising, last time it had taken him at least five hundred years before he was able to influence anything outside of his stone prison at all. He suspected it had something to do with the massive surge of chaos coming from the general direction of Ponyville. Discord relished in the power he received, and went mad with glee as he thought about what must be happening in the small town to cause so much chaos in one place. Soon enough though, he remembered his situation and mentally frowned. Deeply.

Maybe this time I won’t be stuck in here until my mind rots on the inside out from insanity… Discord grumbled to himself. But then, something happened. A twist, something unexpected. A presence that caught even the lord of chaos himself unawares, and that was saying something! Oh my… if Discord could grin, he would. Someone's been peeking...and it's me!

~Nemesis~

To Auric Fulcrum, Master of Psynergy, Wielder of the Flames of Alchemy, Slayer of the Wise One, Knight of the Eclipse, Lord of Eureka, Blade of Understanding

First off, I would like to thank you for your letter. My universe's Discord and I are not on good speaking terms, but next time I see him I will show it to him.

I count my acquaintances few and far in between in these troubling times, and even less so my friends. My Equestria does not yet know of what it is I am trying to do for them, and Celestia as well as this world's version of the Umbrella Corporation has me on edge. I am unsure of my standing with this world at the present moment, but it is good to know that there are others out there in the same boat as I am. I would like to believe that they can count on me, as much as I on them.

That said, I have enclosed my summoning sign within this letter. It's not much, but if you need a hunter, a pursuer, a monster on your side, I will stand by you.

Sincerily,

A friend and a fellow Displaced, Nemesis

I looked the letter twice over, making sure I’d said everything I’d wanted to. I frowned at the word ‘Sincerily’

That sounds too personal...perhaps, ‘best regards’? I looked over at the pile of balled up papers hastily thrown into the corner of the room. I hesitated for a second before I pulled out my summoning item. ...Fuck it. The vial lit up in response. Auric Fulcrum. I ‘spoke’ clearly. The vial glowed a translucent blue and the letter in my hand vanished. The vial returned to its normal state. I sighed and leaned back into the chair I’d been sitting on for the past two hours, stewing over the events of the past few days in my head.

I’d be lying if I said we’d made any significant progress towards bettering our situation, even after Gilgamesh’s speech there were some ponies around town who were against being cooped up in here with a bunch of ‘flank backward hicks’ as they put it. Nobles from Canterlot, who had been here on ‘royal business’ when the town was attacked. Personally I thought they were a bunch of stuck up snobs, but Princess Luna had done a fine job of putting them in their place when they started jeering at the town folk. I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone wet themselves quite so hard.

Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie, and Rainbow Dash had helped with the housing for Fluttershy and Applejack. Luckily there was a house for sale at the time, and with some furniture lent from their friends, Applejack had a place for her and her family to stay. Fluttershy was staying with Rainbow Dash, who had pulled her cloud mansion down into the magic barrier so she herself would have a place to stay. As for her animals, most of them were tame and were allowed to wander Ponyville so long as they stayed out of trouble. The community was even working together to make a temporary home for them.

I myself was perfectly fine with sleeping on the ground. Rarity said she had an extra room, and I even tried it for a bit, but the bed was too small for my massive frame and I continuously hit my head on the ceiling. I stuck to sleeping outside, and in the everfree when I could get to it without being seen by the quarantine on the outside of Twilight’s barrier. While I was out, I’d made several runs to sweet apple acres and some of the nearby farms to retrieve food for the ponies, but the harvest was already running low. I wasn't sure how long we could play this waiting game before we ran out of food.

As for the ponies from Ellura, we’d kept them in the town hall and under close watch and interrogation by the Lunar Guard. The town hall also apparently doubled as a Police/Guard Center, though I’d hardly seen any guards around when the town wasn’t under attack, though Luna insisted that they were there.

Luna… My thoughts wandered back to the events of about a week ago. I remembered the massive battle, how so many ponies had gotten hurt or maybe even worse trying to keep Ellura out and away from Ponyville. Princess Luna had gotten shot and I...I’d lost it. I completely lost control of myself. What if I lost control again, and there was no one around who could stop me? What if I—

A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. I released a sigh and slowly rose to my feet, then bent down again as I hit my head on the low ceiling. Damn pony houses… I grumbled as I rubbed my head and jerked open the door.

Fluttershy was there to greet me. She had her saddlebags on and some kind of paper in her mouth. Upon seeing me though, her eyes widened and her wings, which were previously open, snapped shut.

“O-oh my...I didn’t disturb you did I?”

Nah, just writing a letter to a friend. Twilight had been kind enough to lend me her study room so that I could write in silence. I stepped outside, then frowned at the lack of a breeze on my face. That was one thing I missed, and why I’d often venture outside the barrier.

“Oh...was it Gilgamesh?”

No, another Displaced. one who’s helped others far more than ask for any in return. Anyways, was there something you needed?
Fluttershy tilted her head at the word ‘Displaced’, then brightened up. “Oh...yes!” She raised her head, urging me to take the paper hanging from her mouth.

What’s this? ‘Ten ways to calm down before you lose your cool: anger management tips.’ I frowned again and lowered the paper, giving her a deadpan look. And why do I need this?

“Well, me and the girls were talking about what happened, and you do lose your temper rather easily…”

I growled and threw the paper on the ground. I do NOT lose my temper!

Fluttershy hid her mouth behind her hoof and began to giggle. I was confused for a moment before I realized what I’d done and put a hand over my face. Shuttup. I bent down to pick up the paper I dropped.

“You don’t have to read it Nemesis, we just thought it might help.” She smiled at me. “Anyways, I also came over to ask if you wanted to accompany me to the marketplace. The salesponies were nice enough to hold a sale on some of their products today, since ponyville doesn’t have any income coming in at the moment…” She trailed off, frowning a bit. “Besides, nopony hardly even sees you anymore, you’re always off by yourself or doing something.”

Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I grumbled.

“I think some pony interaction will do you some good, so could you please come with me?” She gave me her best puppy dog eyes.
I mentally groaned. Fine, but if you start making me take part in any songs, I’m gone. Not that I could sing anyways.

She smiled widely. “Deal!” Fluttershy turned and began to trot off towards the marketplace.

I poked my head back into the library. Twilight, I’m going out! Upon hearing nothing in response I figured she must’ve been out or asleep, so I closed the door and followed closely behind Fluttershy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s two bits for a tomato, or four bits for two.”

“Oh...but last week it was only one bit.” Fluttershy frowned. I stood not far off, watching ponies trot around the marketplace. They all spared me a wave or a smile, and I returned a wave in kind. It’s so different from the time I first arrived here, I thought to myself. I watched ponies move from stand to stand, still smiling despite their situation.

“Look lady, I ain’t compromising. Two bits, take it or leave it.” I frowned at that and turned, noticing Fluttershy cower under the stern gaze of the salespony. I made my way over toward her.

Hey, look. Her gaze turned towards me, and her eyes widened. We’re all in some tough times right now, is one bit less really going to kill you?

“Hmph.” She frowned, settling back down behind her stand. “Speak for yourself, bud. I’m counting every bit I’ve got left, especially since you, the princess, and those other ponies trapped us all in here!”

What? I narrowed my eye.

“Don’t look at me, go talk to the pony who’s been speaking nothing but sense all day.” She pointed towards the center of the marketplace, where a large crowd of ponies had gathered around an elderly looking stallion, who was shouting something I couldn’t make out.

Wait here, Fluttershy. I strode over towards the crowd, keeping an ear out for what the stallion was saying.

“...and why should we trust the word of some bipedal freaks? How do they know what’s best for us pony folk?!”

”Yeah!” the crowd voiced. Most of them, I noticed, seemed to be made up of ponies who were from out of town. I noticed Pinkie Pie and Rarity off to the side of the crowd, frowning at the scene. I quickly made my way over to them.

What’s going on? I asked, watching the crowd of ponies hoot and holler as some of the ponies in the marketplace frowned at them.
“Oh, hello Nemesis.” Rarity smiled at me, then frowned again as she looked back towards the crowd. “Nothing to worry yourself about, just a bunch of uncultured brutes who wouldn't know thankfulness if it came up and bit them in the flank!”

“Yeah, what she said!” Pinkie shouted, waving her hoof in the air. “You wouldn’t have a flank if you weren’t...thankful…” Pinkie looked back at her friend. “Rarity, that doesn't make any sense!” Rarity just face hoofed.

“Well if it isn’t the guilty ones themselves!” the elderly pony spat on the ground. “You still expectin’ us to stay in here until we all starve to death?! Well I won’t go down without a fight, I tells ya!”

“Hey!” A wall eyed grey pegasus mare shouted from the marketplace crowd. “That’s no way to talk to them! They and the Princess risked their lives to save us!”

“Risked their lives? Hah!” The stallion spit at the ground again. “What’s the worst that woulda happened?! A few days in quarantine? Some antibiotics? I woulda taken that over slowly starvin’ to death under some magical doohicky!”

“Did you not hear anything they said?!” Rarity shouted out suddenly. “Ellura would sooner use you as a science experiment then let you go!”

“And who do you swear that by? Princess Luna?” The stallion snorted. “That mare can’t see past her own muzzle! She gathered us all up in here just so she could have some ponies appreciate her ‘eternal night’!”

That was it. I suddenly stormed through the crowd, which parted as I approached. I walked up to the stallion, who narrowed his eyes and stared at me defiantly.

Do you know where Princess Luna is, right now? His eyes looked into mine, searching for some kind of answer. She’s in the hospital because of a bullet wound, a bullet wound she took while protecting you, I gestured out towards the crowd. protecting them, I gestured towards the town hall. and protecting this town. So I’d think twice about what you say before disrespecting her, on account that you’re not dead, or worse, because of her.

I turned and started walking away, back towards Pinkie and Rarity. You should go see Fluttershy at the tomato stand, I doubt she’s going to be happy with me anyways. I stomped past them and into the streets.

I continued to walk for a bit, stewing over the stallion’s words in my head when I heard a voice call out to me.

“Nemesis!” I turned and saw Twilight galloping towards me. I turned and continued to walk, and she slowed to a canter as she walked beside me. “I heard the whole thing. You shouldn’t let that stallion get to you, he gets on everypony’s nerves.”

It’s getting to me anyways. I’m going out for a walk.

“Where are you going to go? Ellura’s got the entire outside on lockdown right now, it’s too risky to open the barrier right now, even just a little bit.”

I don’t know then, maybe I’ll—

“Nemesis, the Hunter, the Pursuer. I call on you; come to me!”

Then a portal opened directly under my feet.

Aw, shi— I immediately fell through, and the portal closed quickly behind me.

Twilight was left staring at the spot where I’d just been a moment ago, her eyes wide and her stance in mid-canter. She turned towards where the portal opened and poked it with her hoof. “...Nemesis?!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The portal opened in front of me again as I fell through. I twisted in mid-air, managing to get my feet below me. Trees rushed up to meet me, and I broke through several branches before I reached the ground, landing with a crash and flinging dust into the air around me.

Huh, first time I didn’t come back to where I left from. I looked around at the trees, adjusting my newest weapon which was wrapped diagonally around my torso, a chain that glowed with an eerie light. I’m glad I was able to help them, both of them. Damn though, I hate rednecks.. I cracked my neck before making my way through the forest.

I knew the layout of the everfree by heart now, and it wasn’t long until the hill that overlooked ponyville came into sight. It definitely wasn’t the small town I remembered, the quarantine was still set up around the barrier, but it was good to see that it was at least still standing. However, as I looked closer I noticed something peculiar happening near the quarantine. I could see a large, black figure. Ponies were darting around it and using magic and some sort of ropes to try and subdue it.

That doesn’t look good… I broke into a run, leaping over the small hill and landing at its base with a crash. I quickened my pace, and as I got closer I could finally make out the large figure the ponies were wrestling with.

Cerberus. Ellura were using long poles and ropes to try and bring the immense dog down, who was putting up one hell of a fight. he flung Ellura employees around and stomped on the catch poles they tried to use.

What the hell is Cerberus doing here? I saw some of the Ellura employees loading their guns off to the side, and aiming at the dog. There’s no way Celestia could know about this…she would never allow this. I growled as I broke into a sprint.

”STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!”

The gun-wielders turned to look at me, quickly trying to change direction to point at me but I was already to them. I plowed through their formation, sending them flying in every direction. I continued my sprint and jumped, smashing through a catch pole that had caught Cerberus by one of his throats. The dog howled at his new-found freedom and quickly began to fling the ponies off of him. I helped as best I could, smashing through some nearby quarantine tents and plowing over machinery and throwing ponies away from him.

When we were done, Cerberus turned, and looked straight at me. He lowered his heads and began to stalk towards me. I backed away slowly. Shit, I need to get back into Ponyville, but how-?

Suddenly, cerberus leaped, pinning be beneath one of his paws and...began to lick me.

Pfft! Quit it! Oh god, it’s so slobbery! Bleagh! Knock it off! Cerberus obeyed, backing up a few steps and sitting down, then stared at me expectantly. His tail wagged furiously. I climbed to my feet and wiped myself off. Ugh, this is why I prefer cats… Cerberus whined and laid his three heads down. I blinked, then reached out and began to pet one of them, softly. Cerberus whined harder. And you’re supposed to be the guardian of tartarus? I rolled my eye. Just go home, this is no place for you to be right now anyways. Cerberus stood and barked loudly, then leaped over me and began to run off in another direction. Oh wow...did he actually listen to me…? After Cerberus was gone, I could hear the voices of ponies around the outside of the barrier yelling and rushing towards me.

“He’s out!”

“Take him down!”

“Get him!”

I cursed and ran, laying a hand on the barrier. Twilight, can you hear me?! I need you to open the barrier here, just for a second! Please!

A couple of seconds passed. I glanced behind me and noticed the Ellura ponies getting closer. I turned, hunching over as I roared at them. They didn’t seem deterred, and were quickly loading weapons and grabbing their gear.

C’mon Twilight… Much to my relief, I hear the ringing of magic behind me. I quickly darted through the new opening. I heard several shouts before they were quickly cut off by the closed barrier. I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew. That was close. I turned, and was immediately met with a very unhappy looking Twilight, with Spike on her back. Oh, uh…

“We need to talk.” She turned and began to walk towards the nearest street. Spike turned and gave me a shrug.

I sighed. Right. I followed close behind.

“Where did you go?” She asked without looking back at me.

It’s kind of hard to explain, mostly because I myself don’t even know how it works. Basically though, there’s lots of other versions of Equestria, and all of them have someone like me.

“You mean like Gilgamesh?”

Exactly. And from time to time we tend to call on each other, I just got back from helping a time lord and a hot head, for instance.

“Mhm.” I flinched. She didn’t sound any less upset. “Well, after you made your sudden departure, Princess Luna and the Night Guard made some progress with their interrogations.”

I immediately came back to reality, my tone growing serious. What did they find out?

“We identified one of their higher-ranking ponies. We even have him in custody.”

Which one is he?

“Watchful Overlook.” Spike answered for her this time, glancing between her and me.

I remember that name, wasn’t he the one who kidnapped you and those three young fillies?

Spike nodded affirmatively. “Yeah, he’s apparently pretty highly regarded in their group too. They’ve got him in the interrogation room now.” Spike sighed. “Between us three, I’m kind of hoping he’s reluctant to talk, after what he did to us, what he showed us…” Spike’s eyes became hard. “I don’t think I can ever forget that.”

“Nopony’s asking you to forget, Spike.” Twilight glanced back at him with a smile. “But we do need to get him to talk, and he’s not talking to anypony so far. We were hoping you…?”

Persuasion tactics. Right. I sighed. Just get me into the room with him, I’ll see what I can do.

We’d arrived at the town hall while we were talking. I made my way inside, ducking under the low doorframe and followed Twilight down some stairs. This levelled out into a dimly lit wooden hallway, lined with several doors. Twilight took the door closest to her left, and I followed her in, being careful not to hit my head on the low doorframe. Inside, Bronze Mane, Princess Luna, and several of her thestrals sat staring through a window. They turned as we entered, and Luna gave me a tired smile. “I wish we could meet under better circumstances our friends, these are trying times for all of us.”

Definitely. I smiled at Bronze Mane as well, then I leaned down to look through the window, where I could see the pony named overlook from earlier. he was sitting in a chair, looking smug as another thestral spoke to him.

“We can’t guarantee your safety if you don’t cooperate with us,” The Thestral spoke, frowning deeply at Overlook’s smug expression. “If you help us out we might be able to get you some protection from legal proceedings, but we can’t give you anything if you don’t give us anything.”

“I’m not stupid, bat pony,” Overlook leaned back in his chair, giving the guard a curious look. “You can pretend you care and try to intimidate me with your good cop, bad cop routine all day, but I fear my boss far more than I fear any of you.” My eye narrowed. “He can do far worse to me than anything you’re capable of.”

Let me talk to him. I spoke, causing Luna and Twilight to look over at me.

“Are you sure? He’s refused to talk about anything to any of the officers, do you think you can make him talk?” Bronze Mane asked me.
I’ll make him scream. I said, stepping out of the room. I stood outside of the interrogation room, waiting for the other thestral to leave before stepping in myself. Overlook looked surprised to see me, but his smug smirk remained.

“So, straight to the big guns, eh?” He leaned back in his chair. “What are you gonna do? punch me? kick me? yell at me? Threaten my family? My friends?”

I simply stared at him, before calmly placing a hand on the table in front of him. So, this boss of yours. What was his name?
Overlook sneered. “Like I’d just tell you? At least humor me with some effort here.”

I’d suggest saying it out loud, it’ll help you remember. Wouldn’t want to forget. That’s one of the side effects of your medicines isn’t it? Amnesia? I leaned down to stare at him face to face. So tell me, what would your boss do to you if you told us anything here? Slowly, I let a tentacle slip on of my hand, and let it work its way across the table towards him. Overlook’s eyes widened and he leaned away from it. Would he make you his new test subject? Inject a foreign virus into your system that makes you puke blood for three days straight? The tentacle worked closer towards him and he watched it with his eye twitching slightly.That’s all well and good, but do you know where your boss got that virus from? Slowly, Overlook shook his head. He got it from me. Overlook’s eyes widened. And that bit your boss would use on you? That’s after he’s tested it on other ponies. Do you know what it’s like to live with a pure, raw, untainted virus burning through your veins? The tentacle grasped the edge of his side of the table and slowly began to reach out towards him. Overlook backed up towards the wall now, his eyes wide. Agony. Pure agony. First comes the itching. Then the rotting flesh. That’s right, I said rotting flesh. You literally get to watch as your own skin falls from your body. The tentacle reached out more. Overlook looked alarmed and he pressed himself further back against the wall. Then comes the cravings for flesh. Yeah, can you imagine what that would do to a pony? I mean, with us humans it makes sense because we’re omnivores, but to do that to a pony who doesn’t naturally eat meat? I shuddered. I don’t even want to begin to think about that.

“Y-you’re lying…!”

Am I? haven’t you just spent the last few years of your life watching the same exact thing happen to other, innocent ponies? His eyes widened. Yeah. Imagine that, just ten times worse. The tentacle stretched out more, nearly touching him.

“O-okay! I’ll talk! Just please, don’t hurt me!!” The tentacle continued forward, unheeding of his words. “Wh-what?! STOP! PLEASE!”

Why should I?

“Wh-what—”

Do you know how many other ponies begged for this to stop? Begged for release as this virus stripped away everything that made them sentient?! made them alive?! Why should I show you mercy you’ve never given to others?!

The tentacle inched closer. “P-please! I don’t…!”

You deserve what’s coming.

Overlook slid to the floor, hiding his face behind his forelegs as he began to weep.

Enough, Nemesis!” Princess Luna appeared in the room with a flash, forcing me away with a burst of magic. I slid a few feet backwards, but glared at the cowering form of Overlook.

“C-Canterlot…” Both Luna and I turned to look at him. “C-Canterlot...that’s where the training facility is...thousands of B.O.W.s are housed there as they go through training…”

I huffed and stood up, turning to leave without a word. Luna watched me go, concern written in her features. I began to storm up the stairs when I heard the familiar sound of hooves behind me.

“Nemesis, was all of that true?” I heard Twilight’s concerned voice. It made me flinch, the last thing I needed right now was sympathy.

Was what true?

“What you said about the cravings for flesh...and...the rotting...and…” Twilight’s voice trailed off, as she trotted in front of me, staring upwards to look me in the eye. “Is...is that really how you feel? All the time?”

I snorted, staring towards the set of doors leading to the outside. I slowly walked past her. Twilight, you have no idea. Twilight quickly trotted after me.

“Where are you going? You heard him yourself, there are literally thousands of those monsters in that training facility! You can’t possibly expect to handle all of that on your own!”

I glanced back at her. I won’t be doing it alone. Just lower the barrier in the usual spot near the everfree in about five minutes, okay? Without waiting for a response, I leaped high into the air, leaving her with a stunned look on her face.

~Overlook~

It wasn’t long after the interview with Nemesis that Overlook found himself thrown back into his cell. He shook on the ground for a minute, remembering the look in Nemesis’ eye as he told him all of the things the virus could do.

“Lies...they had to be…” He remembered the writhing screaming ponies from the test labs below, but he had simply been made to retrieve them and he never wondered what went on in the labs below. He closed his eyes. “Inkwell will surely have my head for this…”

Overlook slowly let his head sink into the floor, until the sound of hoofsteps caused him to jerk his head up. Slowly, in the shadows, he could make out a figure approaching him, something held in its magical grip.

“I thought I was told I would not be disturbed for the rest of the night?”

The object in the stranger’s magical grip came into view. It was a gun.

Overlook’s eyes widened as the weapon was trained onto him. “W-wait! I have more information! You can’t just-!”

The sound of a gunshot could be heard resonating throughout the room, followed by a soft thud. The stranger lowered the smoking weapon. The figure ensured it hit its target before it opened the cell, positioning the weapon into Overlook’s hooves, then closed and locked the cell again as it slowly began to trot away.

Before the figure left, it cast one last glance at the dead pony.

“Absolutely pathetic.” Then it closed the door, and all was silent.

Author's Notes:

Blame school, Destiny, and other fics I've been working on.

Also,

No editor.
No pre reader.
No sleep.
No problem.

Nemesis also actually helped two Displaced during his time in the depths of the multiverse, and this chapter will be updated once that crossover gets put up on the other author's fic.

Also, I do realize this was basically a filler-ish chapter and apologize for making so little so late. I can't promise frequent updates but I can promise something interesting every chapter from now on, even on fillers like this. :3

Also the star puns might be done. Seriously, it's just bad and I need to stop doing it.

The Masks We Wear [Part I]

~Princess Luna~

Princess Luna had dealt with a lot of problems in the past. These issues ranged from guiding a newborn country along with her sister, to toppling a tyrant, and even detaining a mad god of chaos. However, seeing what lay before her, Princess Luna was presented with a new problem. One that she had not had to deal with in the past, nor console anypony about.

Suicide.

The unmoving and dull eyes of her ex-prisoner stared back at her from the jail cell. The strange device that Ellura had constructed was clutched in his hooves, and was pointed towards his head. Blood splattered the wall behind him. Though he had been an enemy, Luna couldn’t help but cringe at the sight of a pony choosing to end their lives so abruptly.

“Do we have any clues as to how he got his hooves on a weapon?” Luna asked her thestrals, who were investigating the scene of the suicide.

“None that I can see, Princess.” Dusk, a large thestral with a scar across one of his eyes spoke up. “The other prisoners were locked up at the time, and even then they were stripped of their weapons. It’s a strong possibility that he could have concealed it somehow. He is a unicorn, after all.”

Perhaps, but Luna wasn’t so sure. “He did not seem to be particularly adept at magic, much less a spell that would conceal a weapon from us.” Even then, why wouldn’t he have used it earlier? Something didn’t sit right with the night princess.

“Well he had to get it in here somehow, I checked him myself and he most definitely did not have a weapon on him when he came in here.”

Something clicked in Princess Luna’s mind.

“The door.”

“Princess?”

Luna whirled on Dusk. “The door to the cells! When you came down here, was it locked?!”

“N-no Princess, I didn’t really think about it until—” Dusk’s eyes widened.

Luna nodded, glad her guard finally understood. “We believe we have a traitor in our midst. Someone went against my orders and killed Overlook while we slept last night.” She trotted over to the door in question. “We want the prisoners questioned, and the guards, and everypony who was in the building when the prisoners were put into lockdown. Do you understand me? We cannot afford to have treachery ahoof.”

Dusk saluted his Princess, barked orders to some of the lingering guards, and dashed out the door.

At the same time, a familiar cyan mare burst through the door. “Princess! You have to come outside, it’s—” Her eyes fell on the bloody cell, and the dead stallion who stared back at her. Rainbow covered her mouth with her hooves, her eyes going wide.

Princess Luna stepped in front of her, her face serious. “Rainbow Dash, listen carefully. Something truly terrible has befallen us today, but as of right now it is important we don’t share this news with anyone unless absolutely necessary. We do not wish to cause chaos. Understood?”

After Rainbow got ahold of herself, she fidgeted nervously in place. “Uhm, well...I think it may be a little too late to prevent that.”

Princess Luna cocked an eyebrow. “How so?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Princess Luna could hear yelling as she followed Rainbow Dash up the stairs. She pushed open the door with her magic, then had to blink a few times to make sure she wasn’t seeing things.

Lots of ponies were gathered outside of the city hall, yelling and gesturing at the purple unicorn who stood at the podium.

“Now if everypony could calm down, we can resolve this quickly and easily.”

“Calm down?!” One mare from the crowd shouted. “This coming from the pony who trapped us here!” Several yells of agreement.

“Hey!” Pinkie jumped forward onto the podium, looking down at the crowd. her face was contorted into a very uncharacteristic frown. “Don’t be such a meanie pants! if Twilight hadn’t ‘trapped us in here’, we’d probably all be hurt or much worse!”

“Does ‘much worse’ entail slowly starving to death in a magical dome cut off from the rest of the world?! You not only trapped us in here with you, but made us fugitives as well!”

More yelling in agreement from the crowd.

In a sudden flash of blue light, Princess Luna appeared on the stage. “What is the meaning of this?!” She bellowed, causing the ponies to flinch. “You dare to attack the ponies who saved your coats? Have you no shame?!

“I have a lot of things Princess Luna, but shame isn’t one of them.” Luna looked down to see an elderly stallion at the front of the crowd. “I think I know an effort to retake the throne when I see one.”

“We beg your pardon?” Luna asked in a quiet tone.

“Oh don’t play coy with me. Your ‘protection’ setup is really a way of getting ponies of your own to start your New Lunar Republic yet, don’t think we’ve all forgotten what you tried to do when you first came back. Jealousy doesn’t disappear like a candle being blown out.”

Luna blinked a few times, trying to process everything he just said. He face lowered, so a shadow fell over it.

“You think...I am trying to take power…?”

“It’s pretty obvious to everyone here. Am I right?!” The elderly stallion gestured back to the crowd, and there were several low murmurs.

The elements quickly rushed to Princess Luna’s side as streams of water streaked down her face from under her mane.

“You’re a horrible old stallion.” Twilight growled at the elderly pony, who only snorted in response.

Princess Luna suddenly broke out of her trance and slammed her hooves on the table. “Does this,” she gestured to her injury. “Look like an attempt to take power to you? Do they,” she gestured to the elements, who were looking on the tired side themselves with heavy bags under their eyes. “look like they are trying to rule over you? We are trying to help you, you dense fool! If you believe us faulty, then go hoof yourselves over to the real monsters standing just on the other side of that barrier and see how that turns out!”

The stallion threw his head back and laughed, stepping forward. “Help us? Please! if you’re trying to help us, then where is our food? I don’t exactly see any food falling from the sky!” The stallion gestured to the sky.

Just then, a whole mess of barrels fell from the sky and buried the old pony alive.

They opened as they landed, and a whole mess of apples spilled out, along with a slip of paper.

Twilight blinked, then levitated the piece of paper over to them with her magic. She noticed a note, and read it aloud.

"Appleloosa sends its regards. Hope this'll last for a while.
Best wishes,
Gilgamesh"

Twilight levitated the piece of paper to the side and cocked an eyebrow at the crowd of ponies before them expectantly, who had suddenly gone silent.

One pony holding a torch in the back spoke up, “Oh.”

~Nemesis~

They say if you spend too long in a place, you start to hate it. This described my feelings for Canterlot pretty well, as even staring at it from afar still brought up old feelings of rage I thought I’d bottled up years ago. Celestia set my prison up in her gardens, her own personal gardens mind you, like I was some kind of piece of artwork. That class of little fillies had been the first other ponies I’d seen in almost four hundred years. Was that Celestia’s schtick? Defeat an enemy after they were backstabbed by someone they trusted, then put them on display for others to point and say ‘that’s what not to do’?

Whatever, the past was the past. Thinking about it now only brought up headaches I’d rather forget, and I’d need a clear mind if I was going to take down another Ellura facility. Watchful Overlook said the next facility was in Canterlot, but if I knew Ellura, they wouldn’t put something so valuable to their operations in plain sight. Canterlot was the most likely city to be attacked in the case of strife with neighboring nations, so they had to have some sort of protection in that sort of a worst case scenario.

My eye wandered to the mountain that Canterlot was attached to, and my brow furrowed in thought. Could they have built their facility into the mountain? It would make sense. It was large and they tended to need massive facilities for their...’experiments.’

I shuddered at the word in my head before I jumped from my perch atop the trees, landing on the ground with a solid thud. I’d need to get into the city first, which meant there was a whole lot of climbing ahead of me.

“What are you doing?” I turned around, raising my launcher. Bronze Mane stood behind me, eyebrow cocked. Upon seeing my weapon however, he backed up a few steps. I lowered my launcher and huffed.

What am I doing? What are you doing? I thought I told you all not to follow me.

“I did anyways.” Bronze Mane trotted past me, gazing up at Canterlot mountain. “You heard Twilight anyways. You can’t do this on your own.”

I wasn’t intending to. I stomped past him. Don’t follow me this time.

“You’re not going up to the city, are you?”

I stopped, turning my head to cast a glance back at him. Well, I was planning on it.

“Probably not a good idea.” He levitated a pair of binoculars out of a saddlebag he had strapped to his side. “Here, take a look for yourself.”

I took the binoculars from his magical grip before raising them to my face. They zoomed in enough so I could see the Canterlot gates, ponies in Ellura outfits stood on either side of the doors. Ponies in similar outfits flitted through the sky above Canterlot as well, patrolling.
I growled and handed the binoculars back to him. What the hell is Celestia doing, letting them run Canterlot now?

Bronze Mane tucked his binoculars back into his saddlebag. “I don’t know if that’s the case exactly, but they seem to have a tight patrol on the city. The odds of you getting in without being noticed are...pretty low.”

I continued walking anyways. Then I’ll force my way through.

“By yourself?”

By myself.

Bronze Mane galloped past me, before standing in front of me. “Nemesis, think logically. These ponies aren’t meant to be taken lightly. They have the support of Princess Celestia, and they probably have hundreds, if not thousands of their troops up there, not including Princess Celestia and the B.O.W.s they might have locked away in their facility.” He jerked his head back towards the mountain. “What are you going to accomplish by going up there and getting yourself killed? And even if you survived, you just smashed through a bunch of ponies Princess Celestia trusts. That doesn’t go far in showing her that you mean well.”

I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. I knew he was right, but denying myself the chance to do to Ellura what they had done to Ponyville was proving to be difficult. Fine Bronze, what do you suggest then?

He smirked. “We take another route.”

Bronze Mane lead me around the side of the mountain, then stopped when we arrived at the area below Canterlot. A massive waterfall fell from Canterlot’s base, feeding into a gigantic pond at the bottom of the incline.

“There’s a cave system beneath Canterlot!” He shouted over the roar of the waterfall. “There’s a lot of tunnels, but one of them leads out behind the waterfall! You can go in that way, and get into the Ellura facility from there!”

You’re a genius. I praised, my good mood renewed once more.

“I know!” He grinned. “But that alone won’t be enough, you’ll need to bust through some walls to get into the facility! I know that’s not a problem for you, but it’s going to be loud! I’m going to go topside and cause a scene. Hopefully that’ll draw some attention away from you!”

I looked down at him, speechless. I...you don’t have to do that. I can take whatever they throw at me.

“Please, it’d be a pleasure!” He grinned again. “Besides, I need to get back at them myself!” I gave him a questioning look. “Later!” He shouted, before making his way towards the railroad tracks leading up to Canterlot. “Just get in there, and bust down the wall when you hear the alarms ringing! I’ll meet you back in Ponyville when it’s all said and done!”

I nodded then waited until he was out of sight. I crouched and leaped. Sailing through the air and the waterfall, I landed in the entrance to the cavern system with a crash. I was slightly wet, but other than that I was fine.

I wiped some of the water off before looking around. Thankfully, Nemesis’ body came with built-in night vision, so I had no problems seeing in the dark. The cavern itself was huge. Stalagmites hung from the ceiling far above me, and tunnels branched off from the room in nearly every direction. I picked one sloping upwards and began to my trek.

Remember when I said the caverns were huge? That was an understatement, they were massive. I’d crisscrossed at least several other paths on my way up, and even more tunnels branched off from those paths. The entire thing was a confusing labyrinth. Luckily, I seemed to have chosen right. I stopped at the edge of a massive chasm. An unfinished and winding railroad was the only thing between me and the other side. I stopped only for a minute to briefly ponder why ponies would make such an unstable railroad before I jumped. I shot my tentacles into the ceiling and used them to swing myself over to the other side. As I landed, however, the ground made a rather uncomfortable cracking sound.

Shit… ! I jumped to safety just as the ground underneath of me gave way. The debris fell into the dark abyss below, and I didn’t hear any sound afterwards. Probably wouldn’t kill me, but I’d rather not make that entire trip again.

After another few minutes of walking, I came to a rather large room with dozens of crystals embedded into the walls. One particular side of this room, however, was bare and smooth. I ran my hand over it, prodding for weaknesses. Is this what he meant? How did he know this was here? The sound of a dull alarm blaring from the other side of the wall cut my thoughts off. I narrowed my eye. Later. Right. I waited for a few more moments then brought my fist back. With a grunt I punched through the wall, straight through to whatever awaited me on the other side.

***

Light filtered through the cracks in the wall, and I gave one last punch. I fell through into a metallic hallway. Red sirens blared on the walls, and I could hear someone’s voice over the loudspeaker. “Code red, this is not a drill! There is a hostile on the premises! All anti-aggression units mobilize!”

Damn. Whatever Bronze Mane did, it must’ve been pretty bad. I broke into a run and ran down the flashing red hallway, then emerged into a large central hub. Multiple paths branched off here, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to destroy all of this before I was found.

I need help. I dug into my trenchcoat to fish for a token, but something else nearby caught my eye. A glowing sphere, only about a foot and a half in diameter. An image of a mask was reflected in its translucent surface. Curiously, I reached out to touch it. I could feel the connections branching off into the ether. This item was connected to another Equestria. One I hadn’t met yet.

I weighed the options of summoning someone I didn’t know, but time was of the essence. I tried pulling the orb to me, but it resisted my pull. I frowned. I don’t know who you are, but I need your help. I pulled harder. This time, I got results.

The Orb’s light suddenly flashed blindingly and as it faded a larger, dimmer light appeared, with details becoming clearer as the light itself faded.

Within a few seconds the lights had both vanished completely leaving behind a being, human in appearance, but with a mask over its face and an almost tangible aura as malevolent as Pyramid Head’s.

Suddenly, I wasn’t deep in the innards of an Ellura facility. I was in the Everfree Forest again. The figure of Pyramid Head poised above me, his weapon trained to cut straight through me. I needed to stop him before he could hurt me or anyone else. I reacted immediately, lashing out with the butt end of my rocket launcher. I aimed to knock him off his feet.

My weapon got nothing but air. The figure dodged the attack and was now off to my side. I turned, aiming with my fist to smash him in the ground, but he dodged again and my attack hit and cracked the ground at my feet.

I snarled and rushed at him again, but he surprised me this time. He caught my attack, and I only had time to briefly think Oh shit. before he tossed me. I flew, smashed straight through a wall, and then rolled to a stop.

I punched the ground in anger, raising my head to glare at him.

“You know,” the figure tilted his head as he spoke. “It’s rather inconsiderate to summon another just to attack them.”

What? I blinked. The vision of the forest and Pyramid Head faded, replaced by a broken wall and a tall, dark, masked figure staring down at me.

My head whipped left, then right, as where I was and what I was doing came rushing back to me. Oh… I shook my head, the last of the lingering vision faded as I stood. Debris from the broken wall rolled to the floor around me and I rubbed my head. I’m really sorry about that, I thought you were someone else. You two have a similar...presence.

“There are four similar to myself, but only one as...aggressive. I’ll assume you refer to the King of Silent Hill?” He asked, offering a hand.

If you’re talking about Pyramid Head, then yes. I accepted the offer, and was back on my feet once again. And yes, I know. A friend of mine referred to you as ‘the triad of madness’. I’m afraid our acquaintance set the bar of my expectations for you when he attacked me in the Everfree.

Crossing his arms across his chest, he said, “The ‘Triad,’ as you call it, is the term only the wielders use. It started as a misnomer, as there are four of us, so we adjusted the term to suit individuals.”
Noted. Sorry about the misunderstanding. I turned away for a moment to look around at the split hallways. As for why I summoned you, long story short there are a group of ponies in this dimension who are using things they cannot understand or control. They’ve been around for almost as long as I have, and they’ve committed atrocities pulled straight from your worst nightmares. I turned to face him again. Right now, we’re underneath Canterlot. They have a facility built into the mountain where they test their ‘findings’. It’s massive, and I can’t destroy it all on my own. I’d elaborate more, but I have a comrade above drawing their attention away, and we’re on a timer.

After explaining this, he started chuckling darkly, his expression hidden behind his mask.
“This will be most interesting.”

I grinned a bit myself. I’m going to head deeper in and destroy whatever research and assets I can find, do you think you—

“I’ll just follow you until you have something specific you require,” he interrupted.

I nodded. Alright then. Stay close, I have no idea what they have down here. With that thought, I ran down the left hallway, the footfalls of my newly summoned ally close behind me.

It wasn’t long before we came upon a staircase spiraling downwards into an inky blackness. Down. Why is it always down?

Gazing down beside me, Jack stated sagely, “Because it would be distasteful to have to go up into hell.”

That earned him a chuckle. Very true. Rather than take the long way, I simply took a step and fell. Darkness enveloped me, and not long afterwards I bent my knees with the impact of my landing.

As the sound of my feet reaching the bottom faded, an eerie red glow appeared from the dark, now above, as Jack descended slowly after me.

I took a second to gaze around, trying to peer through the shroud of blackness. I didn’t have to peer for long though, as one by one lights flickered on underneath of large, liquid filled tubes.

Words failed me for a moment.Each tube was populated by some otherworldly thing. Some contained hybrids of pony and something else I couldn’t recognize. More of them contianed the creatures that had attacked me at the castle, ‘Lurkers’ I had taken to calling them. Other tubes contained things I had never seen before. A Manticore with rotting flesh and eight sets of eyes stared at me, while another contained what appeared to be a dead unicorn corpse.

“Nightmares, indeed,” Jack said, “Far from the worst I’ve seen, having been present at the birth of Albion, but undeniably among the worst any mortal would ever encounter.”

I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself at the sight. And they’ll just keep getting worse. I don’t know what the hell they think they’re doing, I began to make my way towards the door to the back of the room. But if they think they can control any of these things, they’re dumber than I though— The entire room lit up red with the sudden sound of an alarm. The computer consoles next to some of the test tubes lit up with exclamation marks.

“Evacuation protocol initiated. Specimens released.” The tubes containing the blinded creatures I had seen in the Everfree opened first, and they were quick to flit into the darkness. The tube containing the unicorn body was next. Upon opening, the body began to twitch and spasm violently until it burst into the air with a scream. Its horn lit until the glow covered its entire body. Strangely, the glow actually seemed to be leaking from its wounds, and its eyes were hollow with the color of its magic.

Drawing his weapon, a sword with intricate patterning and a gap along the blade, Jack calmly said, “It looks like they wish to fight. Should we oblige them?”

I nodded, drawing my Rocket Launcher from its place on my back. Let’s.

A Lurker was first to act, with a scream of bloodlust it leapt forth from the shadows to my side. I raised my launcher, and it quickly latched onto it, trying to bite my weapon. They’re blind! i shouted to jack. They react to sound!

Slicing into what appeared to be his third or so, Jack shouted back, “I noticed. There also seems to be more than were here originally. They must be getting in somewhere, but the door is clear.”

As he spoke, I noticed the unicorn beginning to glow brighter as it aimed its horn at Jack. I quickly pried the Lurker off, then threw it in the path of the beam it fired.

The Lurker screamed and writhed as it fried from the attack, eventually slumping to the ground, dead. I shot a tentacle to grab the unicorn as well, but it vanished in a flash of magic and reappeared on the other side of the room. It tilted its head at us before it began to glow again. Several orbs of the same color as its magic flickered into appearance in the room, then steadily began to grow bigger.

I don’t think we want to touch those, I advised as I began to make my way back towards the cleared door. Let’s go!

“No!” Jack shouted. “They want us to go that way. I’ll use the door, you find another.”

There isn’t another!

“Then make one!” Jack shouted before making a break for the door. The sound of his metal boots drew away a portion of the Lurkers.

I growled, sparing a glance at the unicorn. It seemed to smile at me before I charged for the wall behind me with a roar then smashed through into a parallel room. The magic in the room before was still expanding, beginning to leak into the room I’d just charged into. I ran ahead and tried to distance myself as far from that thing as possible.

They were expecting us. I should’ve known better. Were they really counting on their own people telling us? I shook my head as the flickering lights of machinery turned into the sleek walls of another hallway. Ugh, does this place go on forever?! I quickly choose a direction as the path split off and broke into a run. Monitors became more frequent on the walls here, showcasing camera footage of other rooms. Some were empty, yet riddled with bloodstains. Others had something moving in them, but the darkness was so thick I couldn’t make out much beyond that.

Finally, I slowed to a stop as I came across a rounded dome-like chamber. On the other end were a massive set of steel doors. Monitors spanned the length of the room in a single line. Lights sputtered on as I entered, casting eerie shadows about the room. The monitors showcased row after row of some sort of pods, lining the length of a long tunnel that led to a door on the far side.

My eyes wandered back to the massive steel doors. I thought Overlook said this was a B.O.W. testing facility. Why would they have so many of those things in storage here?

I made my way to the doors, stopping just in front of them. I put my hands on both and pushed. They resisted at first, but with a snarl and another mighty push, the doors swung wide open with a groan. They led to the tunnel I had seen on the monitors, complete with the massive amount of pods on both sides of me and the door on the far end. I frowned.

Huh. I’m sure this can’t possibly be a trap. I said sarcastically as I cautiously stepped forward.

Nothing.

I crept forward again, a bit faster this time.

Still nothing.

I had sped up to a walking pace as I neared the opposite end of the tunnel.

Huh. Maybe I was wrong.

As soon as I thought those words, a massive metal barricade descended from the ceiling, blocking the exit. A similar one descended from the end of the tunnel I had come from, blocking the way I’d come in.

...or not. The pods began to shake and open, revealing the glowing eyes of the B.O.W.s within. I clenched my hand into a fist as they all directed their gazes at me.

Well, I suppose this was inevitable. Then they all cried at once, and surged forward with the voice of the legion.

~Jack of Blades~

As I ran down the corridors, releasing bursts of Will to slow the B.O.W.s, as I later came to know them, I noted, just how clean everything was around me.

Sterilised, even.

My run stopped, however, when one of the unicorn creatures, an Archaic, appeared before me in a flash of light. As soon as it appeared, it charged its horn and pointed at me with what would normally be an unavoidable shot in the corridor.

Thankfully, I’m not what passes for ‘normal’ by any mortal definition. I timed it until the Archaic released its beam before using my ‘Rush’ Will ability, displacing myself to immediately behind it. I swung my blade across its back, severing the spine.

It stumbled briefly, though mostly from having an outside force impact it, and flashed away again,.his time, it backtracked in the tunnel.

Before it could charge up another attack, I released a small ball of Will at it. The Archaic easily overwhelmed the blast with its own magic, but it couldn’t prepare for the arc that followed from the Sword of Aeons.

I shattered its horn and, it opened its mouth. But nothing came out as it burst in a magical conflagration which slowed the Lurkers and allowed me to get away.

Reaching the end of the corridor I was met with an open door. THis couldn’t have been more obvious if it was marked by a neon sign reading ‘Trap Here’.

However, with nowhere else to go, I entered. I set off some kind of motion sensor, and the door slammed shut behind me, leaving me in a small five metre by seven meter rectangular room with one wall almost entirely replaced by a kind of glass. A shutter behind the glass lifted, revealing a room with several ponies in white coats on the other side.

The one closest to my position started, “Subject has entered the room, we will begi— Wait. Didn’t the file say Nemesis was around twenty hooves tall? This… um… It’s only around fifteen.”

The one farthest responded, “There’s no explosive propulsion device with him either.”

“Stow it, both of you!” the one standing closest to the glass said. “If nothing else, we have before us an opportunity to test the new one before setting it after Nemesis. Now, if you would kindly dispense with the pillow-talk, we can commence with the test.”

The scientist ponies pressed buttons on a console on the other side of the glass. One of the walls to the room I was in began to move aside.

“Introducing agitation variable.”

From within the darkness of the new entrance to the room, a deep growl emanated. I narrowed my eye, and gripped my blade tighter as the room began to shake somewhat violently.

“Test subject has acknowledged the… variable. The test begins… now.”

With a thunderous roar, a massive Cragodile charged into the room. This one looked different. Other than being larger than the average one I had seen, its eyes gleamed red with no pupils. Its teeth were sharpened enough to appear perfect for flesh-ripping, and, overall, the abomination looked more like a tank than an animal.

Quickly, I used my Will to propel myself several paces back just as the monster lunged forward. Its jaws snapped into the space I had just occupied.

Before it could take another shot at me, I swung the flat of my blade at its bottom jaw. The Cragodile snapped his jaw shut and lifted its head enough for me to let a shot of Will at it.

Were it any other of its kind, it would have been dead. But this one simply slid back to the other side of the room, much to the surprise of the scientists.

“The variable uses some sort of...energy. Not one like I’ve ever seen.”

“Interesting. Can you analyze it?”

“The readings on the test subject can’t pinpoint what it is. They registered it as a physical attack.”

“Hmm…”

As they spoke among themselves, I swung my blade and sent a wave at the stoney abomination.

My mark was off, however, and instead of catching its eyes, the wave ran along its back and skinning it almost to the tail.

The abomination roared in agony at this,. writhing and stomping. The flesh along its back bulged, and from it sprung four hydra-like heads which hissed at me.

“Subject has mutated into critical form,” The leading scientist interjected as the abomination stomped one foot on the floor. I could feel the ground below me shift, and I had enough sense to move out of the way as an earthen spike stabbed through the floor in my previous location.

“Terrestrial manipulation appears to be functioning.”

I heard lead scientist behind me laugh. “Good.”

Surrounding myself in an aura, I levitated. The initial head lost sight as the extra heads restricted vertical movement.

One of the heads tried to attack, only to meet a sudden stop as I rose a little further and used my free hand to punch with my full force. The blow sent a violent tremor through the beast, resulting in a gristly crunch that came from the prehensile neck before it went limp.

The abomination seemed unabated as it turned around and smashed its tail on the ground. The room shook violently again, sending a spiderweb of cracks in the dividing glass, much to the rather suppressed concern of the scientists.

“You told me the glass was reinforced.”

“It is, sir! Not even the test subject could break through it in the tests we ran!”

“Then what’s it doing right now?” The scientist at the console could only gawk in fear and bewilderment. “Finish it, you imbecile! We don’t want either of them getting in here!”

As the second new head also attempted a lunge. I released my hold of the Sword of Aeons with the tip directly in the path, letting the abomination impale itself. I pulled my blade out again before gravity took it in range of the initial head’s attacks.

As the final two heads seemed to wisen a bit they attempted a twin attack, sacrificing maneuverability for speed. either aware enough to notice the glass behind me.

“Wait… stop! Stop the attack!”

The scientist madly pushed buttons. “I can’t! It won’t listen to the command prompts anymore!”

As the glass shattered, I gave a hidden smirk. I severed the spines before allowing myself to drop onto the body, and drove the blade between the rock-like segments over the neck... But I was unable to end the fight as it thrashed, throwing both myself and the blade loose. I tore away a large segment of its hide before I landed on the ground, however.

As I recovered, I took note of the scientists. One lay motionless in a growing pool of his own blood, having taken the worst of the shattered glass. The other was also lying with large pieces of glass in his fore legs, but well and truly alive, if the hyperventilation was any indicator.

Finally, the lead scientist in the room was backed up between two filing cabinets, muttering, “No, no, no,” repeatedly.

Grabbing the injured one by the throat, I channeled an inordinate amount of Will into him in the form of lightening and threw him in with the beast as it calmed down. I watched as it snapped him out of the air, only to lock up as energy arced out of it before I opened its throat while it was paralysed.

Turning back, the last scientist started screaming as I calmly approached, taking off my mask and extending it toward his face.

~Nemesis~

Rip.

Tear.

Crush.

Throw.

Repeat.

The mantra repeated itself in my mind as I dealt blow after blow to the enemies around me. I had long since abandoned my trench coat. It had been cut off of me during the fight, and tendrils now sprung forth from me, whipping and piercing anything that came within range.

I saw a flicker of movement separate from the enemy mass and directed my attention to it immediately. A Lurker tried to jump me from above, but was quickly punished for its decision as it was intercepted by my tendrils and then thrown back at its fellow Lurkers. It sailed past them and hit the wall with a satisfying crunch.

I heard the next attack before I saw it, a rather large B.O.W., a minotaur that looked like it belonged in the morgue. It snorted at me and charged, horns lowered to impale. I caught the charge then threw the minotaur’s head back.

It stumbled, and I brought my fist back and connected it solidly with its face. I could feel the crunching bones under my fist and took an extra moment to watch as the minotaur crumpled to the ground. I was fairly certain I had broken its skull.

I only had time to grab my launcher, which I’d dropped in battle, and fire it an another incoming group of rotwolves before the next wave was on me.

As impossible as it seemed, the enemies appeared to be thinning out. However, my struggle was far from over. One of the capsules in the back of the room finally opened, and two rather large wings extended from their prison.

Birds now? I snarled. However, the being that emerged from the pod wasn’t an ordinary bird.

In a burst of flame, one of the largest phoenix I’ve ever seen took to the sky and made its presence known. It flew a good distance above me, but even still I could feel the heat. It radiated off the avian in waves.

It didn’t seem to target me specifically; it spewed forth a stream of fire at the walls and at some of the pods, quickly catching most of the room on fire. An Archaic blinked into existence in front of me.

I narrowed my eye, glaring at my two opponents.

The phoenix seemed to finally notice me. It banked hard and breathed a steady stream of flame at me. I jumped to the side to dodge the attack then shot a tentacle out of my hand and caught the phoenix by the talon.

It squawked in surprise and tried to pull away from me, but I yanked hard and sent it crashing into the earth. I approached it, but felt something searing hot impact my side. I flew backwards, rolling as I hit the ground. My right shoulder and abdomen had a seething burn mark that still glowed with a faint green sheen. I glared at my attacker, an Archaic, who reared on his hind hooves and shot again.

I lifted my launcher like a shield. I felt the attack impact, but the beam was pushed to the side. I raised my launcher again with the muzzle pointing towards the Archaic this time, and fired.
Rather than teleporting, this Archaic took to the air levitated itself. It charged up for another attack, so I took the opportunity to grab the still injured Phoenix with my tentacle and drag it over to me.

I ignored the burning for now. I waited until the Archaic fired, then brought up its ally as a shield. The phoenix shrieked as the attack hit it, and, once it stopped moving, I threw the remains to the side.

The Archaic merely tilted its head before blinking out of existence again, but I had anticipated that this time. I use my tentacle to grab my launcher near the center of the room, and pointed it at where he’d teleported to the last few times. I fired.

The Archaic appeared, just in time to be blown to kingdom come as the rocket found its mark. A horn imbedded itself in the floor near me.

My chest swelled with my breathing, my mind was burning as I surveyed the damage. B.O.W.s laid strewn about the room, multiple chunks of walls and floor were missing from the force of the explosions, and blood had been splattered everywhere.

My vision was tinted with a shade of red. I clenched my fist, I threw my head back, and I roared.

STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS!” I didn’t care if every Ellura member in the facility heard me. Let them know that I was coming for them.

I relaxed, almost falling to the floor as the room spun for just a moment. My tendrils, whipping in the air around me just a second ago, now hung limp as I scooped my trenchcoat off the floor and tried shrugging it back on. Claw marks tore fresh shreds into it, and the beam I’d endured put a fresh burn mark in the front of it, right over my chest.

I think I could live with a ruined trenchcoat. At least I was alive. I approached the door I’d meant to exit through when I first entered. I was thinking about lifting it when the barricade lifted itself.

“Hazardous biological breech contained. Please proceed with your scheduled routine.” I ran my hand over my head and finally forced the door open.

This room looked almost like some kind of massive lift. The ceiling was high above me and looked as if it could be opened. Sunlight streamed from around the corners of the door on the ceiling, so I know it led outside. They keep a small army of B.O.W.s underneath Canterlot, right near a lift that leads to the outside? Are they inviting a biohazard outbreak?

I heard a door on the other side of the room open, and I turned to see Jack standing in the doorway. His mask hid his emotions, but the gaping holes and entire missing segments in his robes showed he’d not been idle.

Good to see you’re alright. I thought they’d laid out a trap for you or something. I eyed the damage to his robes.

“It was intended for you,” he deadpanned.

I watched him for a while, mildly curious, because, in the brief span we’d been talking, he seemed to have changed a little.

It wasn’t long before it dawned on me that his robes seemed to be repairing themselves as we spoke.

I wish I could say it was any better on my end. They had a horde of BOWs stored in the tunnels. Why, I’m not sure, but it’s really unsettling that they were expecting us. We were told about this place by one of their own, someone we took as a hostage back in Ponyville. I’m not comfortable with how well informed they were about this attack. I gazed up towards the ceiling again. Or how close to the surface all these BOWs were being stored.

Looking back the way he came, then the way I came and then to the exit, Jack started, “I’m not entirely sure they were expecting us. Given I was caught in a trap that you were to be pushed into by sheer numbers, I don’t think this tunnel was meant… Oh.”

Yeah, that’s what worries me. That tunnel wasn’t meant for a trap.

“It is rather cunning, I’ll admit,” Jack continued, as though he hadn’t heard me, “I might use this myself, when I raze my own version of this world.”

Raze your own—? My question was interrupted by a swirling dark mass that suddenly appeared between and behind us, back towards the enemies we’d just faced. What the hell? I tightened my grip on my launcher, taking several steps back. Jack, are you doing that?

“No, I use Will magic fueled by the void. This is closer to the Void itself funneled through another medium.”

I narrowed my eye. Well I don’t want to stick around to find out. Let’s get the hell out of here.

Sherrryyyyyyy…

My eye widened. Wait...that sounds like...

SHEEEERRRYYYY!

A massive taloned limb reached out of the swirling blackness and grabbed Jack, wrenching him in with a sudden, unexpected force.


Then two tons of massive, infected flesh smashed straight into me.

Author's Notes:

Woo! Update! It's been forever!

This chapter and the next are a crossover with rikusorasephiroth's The Masked Face of Fear. Go read that if you have the chance!

I want to thank both him and my editor Doccular 42 for putting up with me for the past week or so, I've been busy and my schedule's been all mixed up. @[email protected]

I would've finished this double dose of chapters in one big chapter update, but I like to keep my chapter lengths at least somewhat consistent so you guys know what to expect from me when you read. I don't want to overwhelm you with massive chapters, some people don't like that.

ANYWAYS! Next chapter won't be nearly as long of a wait! See you all soon! :pinkiehappy:

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