Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 105

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Chapter 105

I’m aware of people saying they wake up feeling like a million bucks. With all the bruises, aches and pains I can feel all over my body, I come to the conclusion that I feel like a worn peso.

“Ugh, my head...” I try to sit up, but I only manage to lean my head forward. My vision is a bit blurry, but spotting Rainbow Dash by her bright, multicolored mane is still easy.

“Woah, stay down. You weren’t kidding when you said you healed slow, you need to relax.”

I blink a bit and I get a better look at her. Aside from the shadows of a few healing bruises, she looked perfectly fine.

“How long have I been out?”

“Er... about an hour and a half.” Dang, she wasn’t kidding about pony heal rate... and she’s a slow healer?

“So... was it good for you?” I ask weakly.

What? What do you- oh. Ha ha, very funny. If you must know...” Rainbow Dash is now leaning on the bed. “You’re kinda strong but your stance and techniques are all wrong, you have poor balance and your defense is severely lacking. I know you’ve been in fights, but I don’t think you’ve had any real combat training of any sort.”

“Well... I can use a shortsword... kinda. It was more of a half-month crash course in basic swordplay.”

Rainbow facehoofs. “Yeah, seriously dude, you may be a good hero, but you ain’t a champ.” She then looks... happy? “But that’s okay, because I can train you and turn you into a real fighter. That’ll get you on Myrna’s good side for sure!”

“I don’t need training, I can land a chick all on my own. I’m sexy and you know it.” I give my usual snarky grin.

Rainbow Dash simply rolls her eyes. “Then why haven’t you got her yet?”

“Because we’re trying to work out how this whole ‘romance’ thing is gonna happen. It’s not as easy as those crappy novels make it seem.”

“I don’t really see why it’s such a big deal. If you love someone and they love you... then you just get together. Simple as that!”

“Heh, I wish it was that easy.”

“Well, maybe it is and she just doesn’t know how much she loves you. Seriously, one of these days I’m gonna whip you into shape and that gore-again is gonna go crazy for you, I’m sure of it!”

“Gorgon. And I’m not gonna be holding my breath.”

“Yeah well, when you wise up, come find me.”

I don’t realise I’ve fallen asleep until I wake up again, and I notice a new sensation. I look down and I see that a content, lightly snoring Scootaloo is resting on the bed, snuggled up to my arm. I use my other hand to gently pet her like I would a cat. This makes her let out a very happy sighing noise and curl a hoof around my arm like a teddy bear or something.

Awwwwwww, that’s so adorable. I wonder what it would be like to actually have Scootaloo as a sentient pet? I briefly imagine her chasing a laser pointer and I have a hard time not laughing aloud. The mental image is just so silly and so adorable. And she’s so soft and fuzzy... I gently move her on top of me and hold her in a one-armed hug. As I pet her, she snuggles into the crook of my arm and continues her light snoring. It’s so cute I can’t hold back a smile.

After a few minutes, a nurse pony comes in. She looks at me holding Scoots and she gives a brief ‘d’awww’ face. “I’m sorry mister Anthony, but visiting hours are over and you really need your rest.”

“She’s not bothering me, and she’s so cute.”

“That may be the case, but you really are in bad condition. Our healing magics can’t work miracles, so you’re going to be staying for a while longer. Your friends will be able to come see you tomorrow, but right now she has to leave.”

“Oh fine...” I uncurl my arm from around Scootaloo and the nurse gently picks her up.

“Really Anthony, you should try and rest. We can only guess how long you’ll need to stay here.”

“Xenological biology. Ain’t it a bitch?”

The nurse gives me a hard stare and frowns at my language, but then just rolls her eyes. “Yes, now get some rest. You will see your friends tomorrow.” With that, the nurse carries Scoots out of the room and I decide I really don’t wanna be stuck here for very long, so I just try and sleep.

When I next wake up, I look at the clock and it seems that it’s tomorrow already, must have been pretty tired after all. After about fifteen minutes of twiddling my thumbs and pondering the great mysteries of the universe, Twilight walks in. She takes one look at me and sighs.

“Don’t you ever get the idea that getting hurt is not fun?”

“Truthfully? No, not really.”

“Well, either way, I’ve gotten permission to study your injuries and I’m also going to be asking some questions.”

“How much of that is for science, and how much ‘cause you want an excuse to hear the beautiful sound of my voice?”

“Don’t make me mute you.”

“Fine, fine. There is something I want to talk to you about. It pertains to the mare I mentioned yesterday. The one you called a harlot.”

Twilight gives me a look that is equal parts fearful, angry, and nervous. “Please tell me you didn’t actually...”

“No, we didn’t have sex. Anything else you want to know about her, or should I just tell you?”

“Just tell me, please, it’ll save us both a lot of time.”

“Well, that was Gladius, another one of the constellations. Her main reason for stopping by was that she wanted to meet me.”

“Ah... sorry about that, I get a little- uh, well, you saw. Usually Spike gets me to sleep on time, but with everything happening lately...” Twilight blushes and rubs the back of her head.

“Well, to be honest, I’m glad she’s gone. You see, if she had her way we probably... okay, yes we would  have... y’know. I didn’t think a constellation could have a libido.”

“Well, why wouldn’t they? They’re living creatures, too. But you say she wanted to... with you? That’s a little weird, though I suppose there’s more in common between you than a gryphon and a dragon, and that’s a relatively interspecies relationship...”

Me? She was trying to get with pretty much anything that moved. She was... quite a handful. Anyway, her brother came by and took her back.”

“Her brother? Which one?”

“Galeam. The ‘protector’ or something. She was about ready to kill me because I insisted that if she was going to have a threesome, it should not be within the vicinity of children.”

“Wait, she did what?! How could- I just- What?!”

“She thought it was okay to get with a pair of ponies during one of Pinkie’s parties in Sugarcube Corner. Once she got out of the closet, I dragged her outside, gave her a piece of my mind, and she was gonna kill me for it. Galeam beat the crap out of her and took her back.”

“Galeam did what?!”

“Is ‘what’ the word of the day or something? He stopped his sister from killing me and dragged her back into the sky.”

“Wait, so you got to witness an actual exoterrene expulsion? What did it look like? Was there a magical burst or similar signature? Was there any kind of matter expulsion at the site? Where was this? Where did they leave to? What were the somatic components to the spell? Was it a spell? Can you replicate any of the hoof motions with your arms?”

“How about I just tell you what I saw?” I sigh. “Gladius draws her sword, yelling about how she’s gonna turn me into a trophy. Galeam flies down out of the sky and bodyslams Gladius making a large crater. He then proceeded to pummel her unconscious, and when she stopped moving, he picked her up and flew back in a flash of gold. There should still be a crater in front of Sugarcube Corner.”

Twilight blinks. Then, she blinks again. Finally, her eyes trace down a little. “Where did you get that sword?” she asks slowly, gesturing to my hip. I look down, and see that the sword is sheathed at said hip.

I unsheath it and I look at the bronze metal of the blade. “It looks like a replica of Gladius’ sword. The one she carried on her and was gonna run me through with. I take it this is the Sword? Like the Lyre?”

As I turn the sword, the light catches, and the darkened half of the sword spills into the night, stars gleaming distantly in its shadows. Twilight gulps.

“Y- yeah... how do you keep getting these? What’ll you have next, the Hammer? The Crown?” She says with half-hearted sarcasm.

“Who knows? Lyra gave me the Lyre by accident, and now I have the Sword. I’d say it has to do with me meeting them, but that doesn’t make sense. And it’s obvious that I wasn’t intended to be given them.”

“Yeah... wait, how did you get this one?”

“Dunno, but it’s cool, isn’t it? I mean, it’s bigger than the one she had though. It’s just the right size for me.” I pause. “Do ponies usually make shortswords this big?”

“Uhm, Anthony, unless I seriously missed my guess and have become completely incapable of understanding magical output for no apparent reason, that’s the Sword. Unless, of course, Gladius was meaning to give that sword to you all along, but that’s a little silly.”

“Yeah, but mystical artifact or not, seems it likes me better than her.” A thought comes into my head. “Hey, do you think these cosmic artifacts could give me my powers back?”

“Actually, I think your body just needs to process the poison. With the hospital report I received, it seems to heal significantly slower than almost anything else in this world. You’re only faster than stone trolls, ogres, and bakerolyths, and those are extinct now.” She clears her throat. “Also, it seems my initial estimate on how long that’ll take was a bit off. You’re going to want to drink lots of water for about the next six weeks. Then, you’ll need to wait another four or five days, then you’ll be good, I think.”

“Aw come on! And how long until they let me out of here? I’m not bleeding anymore, I can walk this off!” Attempting to get out of bed makes my legs tell me the exact opposite. “Jeez, Dash did a number on me...”

“Well, she actually held back, from what I can tell. She’s a third-Mahna in two separate martial arts.” Twilight says. “Also, I think the Cutie Mark Crusaders wanted to talk to you, Scootaloo was waiting in the main room when I was sent in here.”

“Well, finish up whatever questions you have about human medicine or whatever and send them in. It’s not like I want to talk to you all day.”

Twilight pouts, her eyes going exceptionally large and watery. As my heart clenches reflexively, I have to wonder: has she been taking lessons from the little fillies around Ponyville in that technique?

“Oh come on Twilight, it’s not fun when you take me seriously. You know I don’t hate you.”

The pouting intensifies.

“Oh fine, you win.” Despite the soreness in my arms protesting, I lift Twilight onto the bed and give her a hug. “I don’t hate you, I just... say things to get you mad. You’re just fun to make mad, that’s all.”

She turns her face to me, and she’s looking absolutely smug. There’s practically smug dripping to the floors from that grin. “I know, I just wanted to get back at you a little.” She hugs me back.

“You might not be as incorrigible as I thought. I’ll make a sarcastic jerk out of you yet... at least partially.” I give her another quick squeeze and set her down on the ground again.

“Heh, you’re welcome to try, mister Anthony, but I shall be fully immune to such things.” She flourishes a little bow. “After all, I may be a bookworm scholar, but I was raised in the capital of the nation.”

I fold my arms and grin. “I’m still gonna get you laid one of these days. I think I recall Cadence saying she’d pay for it.” Twilight sputters and turns red. “Alright, send the kids in.”

The shell-shocked Twilight leaves before I can strike another blow for not-stick-in-the-mud-ness, and Scootaloo full-on gallops into the room, catapulting herself -not literally, thankfully- onto the bed.

“Heya kid. How’d you like the show? Was it as ‘epic’ as you said it would be?”

“That was so cool! You’re almost as awesome as Rainbow Dash. Almost.” She nuzzles me, climbing onto my lap as she does.

“Eh, I guess I’ll take it. Sorry if it got a bit bloody, though. Not sure how much you or your friends like the idea of it.”

“Aww, they’ll be fine. You’re alright, though, right? You’re totally tough.” The little orange-and-purple koosh-ball imitator smiles up at me.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m just sore at the moment. You ponies heal too fast, that’s cheating.”

“Pfft, it’s not cheating. You’re just hooficapped ‘cuz you heal slow.”

“Slow healer or not, I can give just as good as I take. So how’s your catapult business going? You rich yet?”

“Nah, most of our money is going to buying more parts for the new catapults, and Applebloom is setting up more room in the clubhouse. She said she’s gonna make me a turret! Like, in a tower! I can be a guardspony, and pretend to be in the wonderbolts!” Her wings buzz, fanning my entire body in a miniature downdraft. It’s actually rather nice in the overly-warm hospital.

“Like the Wonderbolts? When I chatted with them, they said they were showme- showponies, not soldiers.” I think for a minute. “What was that one’s name? Cooking Spit or something?”

“Spitfire! And she’s the captain! They can doplay anywhere in Equestria in minutes to fight a problem! Most of their older captains ‘n stuff retired about four years ago, though, so they haven’t got any veterinarians in their ranks.”

I’m going to assume she meant ‘deploy’ and ‘veterans’. Wait... So the Wonderbolts are air-fighters and performers... huh, like the Blue Angels. Neat.

“Well then, I’m not really going anywhere for a bit, and it’s gonna be a few weeks until I get my powers back. You’re the one with all the plans, any ideas on what I could do to pass the time?”

“Ooh! I can show you Battleclouds! It’s really fun, but Rainbow Dash never loses at it, so it’s hard to get good practice in.”

“Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

Scoots hops off my bed, and roots around in a little nightstand next to the bed. After a moment, a bunch of board games spill onto the floor, and Scootaloo proudly carries up one labeled ‘Battleclouds’  onto the bed. I notice that she never seems to try flying. I wonder why...

But, for now, I am occupied with learning this game. It’s quickly made obvious it’s similar to Battleship, but the clouds are on a hex-map, not a coordinate grid, and that throws me off for a little while, as well as having to learn the names of the different pieces.

It’s not long before I’m quietly hoping she doesn’t blast my remaining cloud, a tiny Bumblebee-Formation hiding slightly away from a corner. The kid is competitive! She seems all too pleased each time she takes a piece from me, but at least she doesn’t get upset when I took out her two clouds. Still, with seven pieces on the boards each, that’s pretty much negligible, since I’ve only hit tiny ones.

Eventually I lose, and after a few more rounds we get tired of it. Her practically stomping me has nothing to do with it at all. “So what other games are there? Do they have Chinese Checkers?” Once I say that though, I remember that China doesn’t exist here and it probably has another name. “Er, nevermind. How about... chess?”

“Oh, I’m not so good at chess... Sweetie’s better at that one. B-but we can try, of course!” She hops off the bed again, and grabs the game, bringing it back up. With a grunt, she sets it on my lap, and I open it up.

I stop cold, and I feel a shiver run up my spine as I look at the board and pieces. A red alicorn and a white alicorn are the most prominent pieces on a board with too many spaces, and there’s pieces I don’t recognize from chess... but which look like the ‘pieces’ I saw in Wunderland. there’s even a pair of knights with the lances at their shoulders, though the lances aren’t coming out of their shoulders thankfully.

“Well, uh... this isn’t what I’m used to. Guess I need a crash-course on how it works here. Sorry kiddo, we got anything else?”

“Oh, I can still teach you...” She rubs her leg. “If you want to, that is.”

“Where’d the competitive, tough Scootaloo go? I like her better.” I say and pet her like I did earlier, the ‘pet Scootaloo’ thought making me grin again. She ducks her head, looking really sad and hurt for some reason.

She raises her foreleg to her face, and I realize she’s wiping away tears. Holy crap, I was just playing!

“Woah, I didn’t mean to insult you, I was just playing around. I don’t care if you’re tough or not, I like you no matter what.” I pick her up and hold her in the usual one-armed hug I use for small creatures and fillies. “Come on, you’re fine, you don’t have to be sad about anything.”

She just sniffles and curls up in my arm. Sighing, I recline in the hospital bed. Looks like I’m getting to look after Scoots for a little while.

I think it might be time to get to the bottom of this little filly’s actions around me. Next Chapter: Chapter 106 Estimated time remaining: 20 Hours, 15 Minutes

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