Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 136

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Chapter 136

I went and got Twilight, and explained that Clark seems... off. Also, that she probably shouldn’t make any sudden movements or loud noises if she can avoid it. I remember hearing about PTSD people having issues with that.

“So, we just need to be careful and explain all this delicately. He thinks he’s been given some kind of hallucinogen so...” I just trail off as I lead Twilight to him. He’s sitting on the floor, arms wrapped around a book as he rocks in place. I think he’s crying, too.

“No. Sudden. Moves.” I whisper to Twilight as I walk closer. “Hey man, you feeling alright?”

I hear him mutter ‘it’s real’ over and over again.

“Come on man, what do you mean? This place, or something else?”

Suddenly, he looks up at me, and I can see light in his blue-green eyes again. A broad smile splits his face, looking perfectly natural. “The books. They’re real. I’m not dreaming. Not hallucinating. I can read them, and they aren’t just gibberish, or-or things I already read. They’re real books.”

I grab him in a tight hug. “Oh I missed you man. I missed you so fucking much!” I feel that I’m allowed to be a little sappy. I also feel him hug me back, at least as hard as I was hugging him. I can feel that he’s not as soft, or as flabby as before.

Slowly, he pulls away from me, and turns to Twilight. “Hello there. You must be one of the talking horses Ant-” I jerk a bit, a twitch of my head ‘no’. He stops, face falling a little. I can see suspicion creep into his face.

“Anthony, that’s right. And this is Twilight.” I offer the answers for him, and he barely stumbles with smiling again and greeting her. He bows a little, and she blushes.

“Yeah, don’t expect a ton of formality from this one. She’s too much of a bookworm to have a social life outside her friends.”

“You’re an avid reader?” Clark asks. His smile seems to warm up a bit, and Twilight begins to share his smile. “I’ll have to ask you for good books to read, then. I love reading, and it’s always good to find new material.”

Immediately, I can see that Twilight likes him. I mean, jeez, I must’ve forgotten him being good with the ladies or something, because she’s blushing like the time I teased her about her and Celestia.

“Well, there’s gonna be a ton of new material. Lots of books about magic here.”

He laughs, and smiles more. “Well, I can guess that much. Would you mind if I met your friends, miss Sparkle?” Twilight giggles and indicates she’ll show him around. Wow, how’s he so much ‘better’ already? I can see his arm, the corrupted one, clenched at his side.

“So... who should we meet first? I guess either Rainbow Dash or Pinkie since they’re closest. Oh, by the way, there’s gonna be a lot of new things around. Hey Twilight, show him something cool!”

“Oh, well let me get some materials together.” She begins summoning a veritable storm cloud of items to bring forth, and I see a flicker of something on Clark’s face before his smile returns. It looked, for a moment, like fear, but it was gone so fast. Maybe he’s not as ‘better’ as he looks.

“So yeah, magic. It’s a thing. Unfortunately only unicorns can do this kinda magic... though I guess it’s pretty impressive either way. Imagine, not having to get up from your seat to get a drink!” Twilight rolls her eyes. She starts setting up the debris into an orderly pattern.

“Magic is a lot more complex than simple convenience, Anthony! It takes lots of skill and practice to do anything noteworthy with it!” she huffs.

“Yeah, like opening a door without being in arms reach of it, or getting something from the top shelf without having to get a stepladder.”

“None of those things are noteworthy at all!”

“Says someone who’s been able to do it since, what, pre-school?”

“Oooh, I’ll have you-” Twilight’s angry rant is cut off by a gentle hand motion from Clark, who quickly cuts in between us.

“Come on, guys, let’s do something nice, alright? No fighting. Twilight, I think you said you have something to show me?” And just like that, Twilight’s not pissed, and my teasing has been flattened.

“Uhm, yes, actually. Here, let me show you a basic thaumaturgic array. This can actually be used by anything with magic in them...”

I tuned the rest out, but Clark seems to be enjoying it. He always has enjoyed getting answers about everything.

I sit back and watch as Twilight demonstrates her little magic show, admittedly learning a thing or two myself. “Oh and don’t forget to tell him all about how sound is completely harmless.”

Twilight shoots me an angry glare, but calms again when she gets a left-handed pat on the head from Clark. He gives her some scratches behind her ears, and she practically melts, sitting up against him and continuing to talk in a more relaxed tone.

Huh, when I do that, she just curls up and falls asleep. Weird. Guess it’s just me. Anyway, after a while, Twilight is finished, and I remind us of our goal to go see the other Element Bearers. I figure we should start with Pinkie Pie, as I did promise that she’d get to see him as soon as she could.

We head over to Sugarcube Corner and, after a little introduction with Mrs. Cake, we head upstairs to see Pinkie, who is more than overjoyed to say the least.

“Wow! You have a super-arm? Does it shoot laser beams? What about water?” She gasps gleefully. “Does it shoot icing?” I see Clark’s facade of well-being crack for a moment at all the questions, likely because of their rapid-fire nature. However, he settles back fine and laughs.

“No, no laser arm. But I can crush stone with it, and set things on fire.”

“Really? That’s so cool! Or, rather, so hot! Ooh, and Anthony can set things on fire with his hands, too!” Pinkie smiles broadly, and I see a glance from Clark. He doesn’t seem... pleased to hear that.

“Wait, you had that arm before you came here?” I ask. I haven’t seen him test with it at all, so he’d have to have had prior experience with it.

“Well... yeah. But no lasers, or anything like that. Anyways, are you the sort of person who gives hugs, miss Pie?” Immediately after his question, Pinkie zooms across the room to tackle-glomp him, and he seems frozen in place for a moment. Then, he slowly hugs her, gently.

“Who doesn’t like hugs?” I ask as I join in, Pinkie somehow managing to get her hooves around both of us at the same time.

After several more minutes of hug-time, Twilight leading the two of us onwards. We’re making our way towards Rainbow Dash’s cloud house.

We come to the field underneath her ever-mobile house today. I suggest throwing stones at the house until we hit ‘er, but Twilight casts a spell to get her attention. It’s strange, but every time Twilight lights her horn to use magic of any kind, Clark twitches a bit.

Maybe he just needs to get familiar with magic. Or maybe he has some kind of problem with it. Could be that demon arm. If he had it before he came through... how did he get it?

When Rainbow Dash finally comes down, she looks confusedly at Clark. “Who the hay is this?” she asks, to which Twilight face-hoofs.

“It’s the new human, the one I talked about?”

Ohhh... Nope, don’t remember.” Now it’s my turn to face-palm.

After a few minutes, Twilight gets the introductions out of the way, and Rainbow asks a few questions. Clark fields them easily, and even has an impromptu arm-wrestling match with Rainbow, using his altered arm. She loses. Grumbling, she tries again, this time against his left arm. She loses again, but this by a much closer margin.

“So... yeah. I guess unless Dash wants to have a race now, we should head over to see AJ or something.”

“Hey, I could race him to Sweet Apple Acres!” RD says, grinning and gearing up for a race.

Clark raises an eyebrow, but shrugs. “Sure. I’ll probably lose, I’m a better sprinter than a distance runner.”

I grin. “Running. Riiiiiiiight.”

“Nah, I’ll beat him without taking off. He looks like a bit of a slowpoke.” She grins cockily and pokes him in the stomach with a wing joint. Clark smiles back, though I get a twisty feeling in my stomach when he does that. Judging by the sudden change in her ear positioning, I think Dash felt that, too. Either way, though, she gets ready to go, and Clark does too. He raises his right hand in front of his face for a moment, covering his eye on that side.

I laugh. “I’ll see you guys when you get there, okay?” I start a brisk jog towards the smallish red speck on the hill that is the Apple Family barn, just barely visible through all the trees. After a couple moments, I Spark Up, enter my Dynamo form and literally bolt for the barn, getting there in a mere few seconds, but feeling quite tired and out of breath.

I look up, expecting to see a blue blur charging along the ground, with Clark huffing and puffing behind her. Instead, I see a blue blur on the ground... and another blur catching up? It’s got a silvery-blue gleam to it, like an oil slick, but monochrome. It catches up to and surpasses the running pegasus, tearing along the path I used, a dust cloud being dragged into its slipstream, lagging at least thirty feet behind.

Finally, the blur slows to a stop via a long slide in front of me, slipping under a large plow set outside the barn. I can see a quartet of gouges in the hard, dry soil, and have to shield my eyes as the dust storm blows in and flies everywhere. a moment of coughing later, Dash trots up, out of breath from trying to keep up.

“I- I d- didn’t know” she gasped once and held her side. How badly did she push herself? “I didn’t know he had super speed too. So... not fair.” She slides too the ground with a weary groan.

I laugh. “Well, subtracting the time I got from my head start, I beat both of you here by about... twenty seconds? Who’s the fastest in Ponyville now, Dashie?”

Rainbow Dash grumbles, and I’m taken by surprise as Clark crawls from under the plow, his more-than-six-foot-frame somehow unfolding from the cramped space. Silvery stars gleam in his eyes, though they slowly fade. He’s not even out of breath.

I walk over to him. “Hey man, nice jog. Didn’t tell me you got a star core too. When was it? Same time you got the arm?”

“Don’t know. Couldn’t move like that before. Felt... weird.” Aaand he’s back to the broken sentences and shifty eyes.

“Huh, so ya got it when you came here? Neat. I got the same. Fun fact, when humans get to this world, they get random, crazy-ass powers. It’s awesome!”

“... Really? That’s... pretty nice. What’s the cost?”

“Uh... power-strain blackout if you use ‘em too much? That’s what I usually get, though I ended up breaking my hand once. One more tip: Punching something at the speed of light sounds a lot cooler than it feels.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I have a feeling it’d be a little... easier for me.” He waggles his talon-like fingers back and forth. “I can’t feel much in this, beyond some very basic tactile sense, unless it’s stimulated right.”

“Ooh baby!” I grin. “Are you sure that isn’t how you got it in the first place? They did say it’s a sin... Guess those crazy nuns were on to something, huh?”

He gives me a dead stare. “No. And it’s not funny.” Jeez, mood killer much?

I sigh. “Fine, just trying to... fine. Anyway, let’s go find Applejack. She’s probably out in the orchard.”

Twilight leads the way, Rainbow Dash flapping her way into the air to go nap on a cloud or something. When we find AJ, she’s exactly as I expected, bucking apples down from the trees by whatever sense told her exactly where the buckets needed to be, etc. Could just be experience, but I doubt that. Earth pony magic, I guess

Something odd happens when AJ and Clark meet, though. He starts off quite nice, acting all friendly... but AJ is having none of it. Almost immediately, she’s suspicious, and downright rude.

“So, Y’all just gonna come freeloadin’ while yer here? This ain’t a place for no-use vagrants, mister.”

And other stuff like that. Why is she being so hostile? Especially seeing as how Clark’s being really polite. Something’s gotten in AJ, and it must be making her really stressed if she’s acting like this to some random stranger, especially one who’s a friend of a friend.

I’m gonna get to the bottom of this. “Hey Twi, why don’t you have Clark meet Rarity? I’m going to stay here for a bit.”

“Oh, alright. We should see about getting him some new clothes. Rarity is an amazing seamstress, and...” Twilight’s voice peters out as she walks away, Clark giving a single look at me as he follows Twilight. Not sure what the look means though, I’m just not used to human facial expressions anymore.

I turn to AJ once they’re gone. “So, wanna tell me what that was all about?”

“Ah don’t like him. He feels slimy.” She gives a hard glare towards the bend in the road Clark had disappeared around. The little path winding through the orchard really isn’t more than a trampled section without grass, but still.

“Yeah well, maybe you’re just jumping to conclusions. How would you like it if I introduced you to someone and they started jumping to conclusions, calling you a hay-brained redneck?”

“Ah’d buck their face in. Ah don’t care what you say, Anthony. Ah don’t like him. Don’t go bringin’ him ‘round the farm iff’n you can avoid it.” She goes to a tree and kicks it, with more force than needed, judging by the leaves and sticks that come with the apples.

I nod. “Fair warning Applejack. I’ve known him longer than I’ve known you three times over. If you and him come to blows, I’m siding with him, and seeing as how nice he’s been despite your insults, you’d probably be the one to start it anyway. Don’t do something stupid.” With that, I leave down the trail. I hear her mutter something like ‘ah won’t if he won’t’

With a sigh, I head after my friends. This is going to be a long day. Next Chapter: Chapter 137 Estimated time remaining: 13 Hours, 58 Minutes

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