Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 129

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Chapter 129

I’m scurrying around Ponyville trying to get my bearings. With everything being so big, I can’t tell where I am or where I’m going anymore. My stupid gerbil brain is also being a pain, keeping me from thinking clearly. All I can manage to do is run around like an idiot and squeak my -Ooh, sunflowers!- head off!

Mentally slapping myself, I keep moving. That crazy unicorn will have a hard time coming after me if I keep moving, something I can agree with my instincts on. I’ve tried catching rats before, and it was not only stupid because they can easily bite your finger if you’re not careful, but also because they’re very slippery.

Turning a corner around a planter-box, I dash straight into a towering pillar of black, a soft blue block of fabric cushioning my impact. Blinking and looking up, I see a yellow shape inside a black hood, but my weaker rodent eyes can’t make out anything at this distance. However, the sudden arrival of anything makes me scream internally, and I have to stamp on the urge to drop the contents of my bowels everywhere and dig for my life.

‘Hey, you! Help me!’ *Squeak! Squeak!* Oh... right... fuck.

“Now now, I know you’re scared, little one, but I have to- to go on a s-s-s-secret mission.” The voice is familiar, and immediately soothes my tiny mammalian brain. That stutter at the end cinches it, though, and I recognize Fluttershy... and realize the reason for her quiet voice. Previously, Trixie’s voice had physically hurt from how loud it’d gotten, but Fluttershy’s is... nice. Or maybe that’s why she’s good with animals, rather than the other way around, not sure. Oh, wait, she’s walking away!

‘Hey, ‘Shy! Get back here, where’s Twilight? Make her fix this, damnit!’ ...of course, nothing but squeaks... I just slap myself in the face. This is annoying.

“Now you watch your language little mister!” Wait, what? Did she just actually...

‘Fluttershy, listen very carefully. It’s me. Anthony. That bitch Trixie pulled some crazy trick on me and turned me into this! I’m kinda freaking out over here!’ For once, I’m content with the squeaks, because I’m actually understood! Progress!

“Do I need to remind you again? I don’t want to hear that kind of language from y- wait, Anthony?!” Took her a moment for that to catch up with her.

‘Know anybody else who swears like a sailor and has a tendency to flip out when he’s spontaneously given a new body?’

“Uhm... no? Wait, did you run afoul of Trixie, too?” She stops, shakes her head and continues. “Wait, you already said that. What are you doing over here though?”

‘Trixie said she kicked Twi out of town already. What’s this secret mission? You gonna get her back?’

Fluttershy quickly turns her head from left to right, glancing suspiciously down each street and even looking up for good measure. Then, she scoops me up with a wing, and deposits me in a zippered pocket. “I’ll explain later. For now, just come with me! I have to get to Mr. Beaver’s lodge, soon.”

This whole gerbil thing is gonna be weird... isn’t it? Oh well, free rides... though now that I have significantly less skin, Fluttershy is noticeably less soft. Hello lack of surface nerve endings.

Several minutes of sleep-inducing rocking back and forth, and I started to realize at least what ponies see in Fluttershy. In spite of her noticeably cushiony exterior, she just didn’t stop going. She must’ve been going at a good trot, maybe ten miles an hour, for almost twenty minutes straight, before ducking into a log. I don’t understand why, but the pocket’s comfy, and now it’s getting warm from the log being a confined space and all that.

Whoo, all that running around really took it out of me... So tired...

‘So uh... what’s the plan now?’

‘Na now laddie, th’ Shy mother be sneakin past yonder glass, ye’ ken?’ The strong scottish accent makes me crinkle my tiny muzzle in confusion. Who the hell just answered me?

I look around and, aside from Fluttershy, all I see is a pair of beavers... nobody else- waitaminute... oh great, this is another one of those cliche ‘all animals speak the same language and understand each other’ deals. Goddammit, that’s just straight up Disney bullshit... oh well.

‘So uh... what do I do, then?’

‘Ye keep yer noggin down an yer whinin’ t’ th’ lit’lest. Y sh’ be rejoicin’ I ken the language o’ the wee scampers, else ye’d been stuck in th’ dark, in mor’n one way. Now hush!’ The beaver shushes me just as they begin to bounce the log off the barrier, making the entire thing crackle and the log itself jolt and jostle, Fluttershy curled up in the darkest reaches of the hollowed-out log.

A great scraping and huffing sounds from outside the log, and I can barely glimpse the very top of some sort of gold-wreathed tent sliding slowly into view. I can hear Trixie shouting and yelling at the top of her lungs, before a glow covers the barrier, and the beavers are let through. It’s so different, being outside, with the sounds of animals and nature everywhere, after the sterile quiet of the quarantined town.

Moments later, Fluttershy tries to chicken out. To my surprise, a ton of tweeting birds aren’t having any of it, and proceed to lift us like helicopters carrying a whale between them, Fluttershy making the most adorable squeaking noises and talking about how she’d like to be brave at home, preferably under her blanket with her teddy bear.

‘Fluttershy, either get yourself together, or I will find a way to fix this myself, and I guarantee you that if it’s up to me, Trixie will have to be buried as giblets.’

That seems to galvanize her to action, and I get to spend the next twenty-plus minutes once more feeling her muscles bunch and release under her coat. I’m not sure how she’s able to keep moving at this pace, given how non-athletic she is. Eh, ponies are horses, I guess. Go figure.

It takes me a minute to realize we are going into the Everfree forest. ‘Uh, why are we coming here? I thought we were going to get Twilight? Why would she spend her banishment in the local monster-pit?’

“She’s going to see Zecora, who might be able to help. I just hope it worked...” Fluttershy sounds a little winded, but also very worried. Maybe she’s running off a sort of variant mother instinct, what with her friends in danger and all.

‘Zecora... I think I heard that name before. Who is he again?’

She is a zebra shaman who lives in the Everfree. She’s really wise, and really nice. Ponyville wasn’t always so nice to her, though, but Twilight helped stop that a few years ago.”

‘Wait, you’re telling me a herd species had trouble with accepting someone who is practically a distant cousin to your genus? That just sounds kinda stupid.’

“She acted so creepy, and different! Only Twilight had even heard of Zebras around here before, and she looked so strange... I’m not proud of assuming what I did, but it was for what seemed like good reasons at the time.”

‘And it took the local shut-in to explain to you how racist and close-minded you’ve been? Jeez, they are right. Ponyville is sheltered as fuck!’

“What did I tell you about your language?!” I feel an actual wave of fear run through me at her tone, though she doesn’t even take the time to look at me as she continues pathfinding in the dense Everfree undergrowth.

‘That uh... you don’t like it?’ I don’t know how, but Fluttershy just became the most terrifying thing I can imagine... she didn’t even do anything.

“And don’t make me wash your mouth out! I have soap bars used often enough to fit even in your little mouth, mister!” I have the strongest urge to just curl and die making her disappointed.

‘Y- yes ma’am...’

“Now, Zecora’s hut should be right about...”

So introductions are finally finished, and I’ve met Zecora. Quite the character this one. She seems very... African. Zebra indeed, as she was striped in grey and white and she had her mane in a tall mohawk, and seems to have a thing for wearing loops of gold. She also has a tendency to speak only in rhyme, which I can barely follow at times. I tried starting a conversation about oranges, earning a brief dirty look from her, which might just have been a trick of the light.

‘So Twilight, how about changing me back now?’ Fluttershy interprets my squeaking and relays my question.

Twilight looks down sadly. “I- I’m sorry, but I don’t think I could. Trixie is so powerful now that she has the Alicorn Amulet...”

‘So? Take it from her.’

“But how can I do that? She wears it, and I can’t overpower her the way she is! How am I supposed to beat that amulet? My magic’s not good enough...”

Zecora does her little cryptic rhyming schtick and... it actually gives Twilight an idea. Glad one of us understands this zebra’s mumbo jumbo crazy talk. Why can’t she just speak like a normal person? It’s like she only does it to make herself stand out more as a person, as if already being striped in contrasting colors wasn’t enough to recognize her by.

Oh well, looks like it’s back to Ponyville.

‘So let me get this straight. Your huge amazing plan for beating Trixie... is cheating?’

Once Fluttershy interprets my squeaks, I get a dirty look from Twilight. “It’s not cheating! It’s using friends to help aid me in tricking her into giving up the amulet!”

‘But in a one-on-one duel, you’re supposed to win without help from anyone else during said duel. That’s what one-on-one means right?’ Fluttershy translates.

Twilight looks thoughtful for a moment. “Well yeah, but she’s using the amulet! That’s cheating too!”

I roll my tiny eyes and mimic holding a paper and pencil. ‘Dear Princess Celestia, today your faithful student has taught me that two wrongs make a right, and that cheating is perfectly okay as long as the other person cheated first.’ Twilight looks at Fluttershy, silently asking what I said. Fluttershy looks rather downcast and just mumbles. I facepalm.

The door opens. “Hey all, I’m back. Whoo, you wouldn’t believe what Ponyville looks like now.”

At Myrna’s voice, I turn and see- Gigantic snake! Ho-ly SHIT!!!!

And I do. Shit myself that is. That done, I rush around the library, my rodent brain screaming instinctual instructions at me, the sudden presence of the hyper-predator kicking me into overdrive. I look for anywhere to hide that could resemble safety from my impending future as an appetizer. Finding a small knothole, I rush for it and take refuge inside the tree between the walls.

“What was that?” I hear the quizzical voice of my serpentine doom.

“That um... that was Anthony...”

I’m not coming out until she leaves!!’

“Oh, and he says he’s not coming out until you leave... he uh, he’s a gerbil now.”

“Wait, what? Then why is he afraid? I don’t eat anything smaller than the occasional turkey...” I hear the dreaded hissing of one of her hair-snakes, and try huddling further into the tiny knothole I’d claimed.

‘I bet that’s what you say to all the rodentia, she-devil!’

“He’s, uh, trying really hard to still look brave for you.” Fluttershy helpfully translates, the dire traitor.

A shadow blots out the light streaming in through the knothole, and I force myself as tightly against the wood as I can, even when I hear a few bones maybe pop and/or creak painfully. Slowly, a gigantic, menacing snake head, like the gaping jaws of a hydra, forces itself into my sanctum, the amber-yellow eyes staring at me, cold reptilian hunger gleaming in its depths.

And no, I’m not making any of this up! That snake’s going to eat me, I just know it!

‘You can have my firstborn if you let me live, I swear!’

“Uhm, he says he’s happy to see you’re alright, Myrna.”

“Aww, he’s so sweet. And he looks so cute like that. Anyways, if there’s any way I can help out, just say so, okay Fluttershy?”

“Of course, Myrna.” The snake head retreats from the hole, and I hear a soft sound outside.

‘You can help by leaving and never coming back! Unless you have food. When’s dinner?’

“She’s gone, Anthony. And I have a few pine-nuts here, if you’d like.”

I proceed to rush towards the offering of food at light-speed and wait for the treat to be placed in front of me. When it is, I proceed to stuff my face. Okay, point in favor of animals. Nobody gives you odd looks if you just shovel food into your cheeks with both hands.

“Ooh, you are sooo cute when you do that.”

I give Fluttershy a glare, grab a few more nuts, and head back to the knothole.

After getting fished out of the knothole by a surprisingly dextrous wingtip, I’m brought back to Ponyville with Fluttershy, and get a sort of first row seat. First mane seat, I suppose, because I’m clinging to Fluttershy’s ear with a death grip.

There’s nothing much to say, though. Trixie does some spells that everyone says are impossible, Twilight mimics them with -ironically enough- stage magic, and then finally tops Trixie with... Pinkie being normally Pinkie.

‘But that’s not even a magic trick! Pinkie does that on her own!’ I squeak. Fluttershy shushes me. ‘But... but... you guys have the power to alter the world around you with mystic forces, bending the rules of the universe to your will in minor amounts... and you cheat anyway!?’

“It’s not cheating if nopony can explain how she does it. It might even be magical.” Fluttershy reassures me.

Then, I see Trixie snatch the fake amulet from Twilight, and take off the one everyone’s been calling the ‘Alicorn Amulet’. Seriously, someone needs to talk to their history-keepers about the names these artifacts are given. Either way though, I have to wonder why Trixie doesn’t just put on both? Downgrade or not, why ditch what’s been working already, in favor of what looks like something better? Why do villains never keep their other superweapons around as backup anyway? God, this is like a Saturday morning cartoon!

With a quick grab of the actually-functional Amulet, Twilight secures her victory. With a flash, I’m sitting on Fluttershy, who seems rather... upset. Maybe it’s because my butt’s in her face.

I get off of her and walk up to Trixie. “So... how’s this all gonna end?”

The mare looks up at me and Twilight, and breaks into tears. While I’m not impressed, Twilight forgives the mare, and I just sigh.

“You realize that all this garbage is all her fault, right? Why would you just forgive her, or did you forget she literally banished you from your own hometown?”

“The amulet corrupts anyone who wears it, Anthony. It’s not her fault she got like this.” Twilight says, standing defensively between me and Trixie. Jeez, does she think I’m going to attack her? She’s already beaten, that much is obvious.

“Yeah, alright, and I suppose that a magical, forbidden artifact of evil just happened to appear around her neck? I’m willing to bet that she actively sought out and retrieved it simply for this purpose. Unless the corruption effect works even when you aren’t wearing it. But if that’s the case, why would she go out and look for an artifact of ultimate power if revenge wasn’t her goal?”

“Trixie just wanted to fix her wagon.” the blue mares says, still sounding disconsolate.

“Oh bullshit! Like you couldn’t just, I don’t know, pay someone else to fix it? That’s like trying to dry someone off with a tornado!” For some reason, Rainbow Dash blushes and turns away at the analogy. Trixie, however, looks flabbergasted.

“Paid someone to... fix...” Oh no, she never thought of it, did she? “How could Trixie have overlooked that?!” Wow. I feel the overwhelming urge to facepalm my head off and be done with this.

“Oh goddamnit! Welcome to Ponyville, where the villains are fucking idiots, the townsfolk are a bunch of close-minded racists, and the paragons of friendship are a bunch of morally ambiguous cheaters!” I shake my head and wander off to chat with Anne.

Who’s still on the train. Shit! Next Chapter: Chapter 130 Estimated time remaining: 14 Hours, 60 Minutes

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