Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 137

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Chapter 137

I make my way to Rarity’s and after quite a walk, I finally get there. Man, I keep forgetting how far apart these six live. They should live somewhere closer, who knows when shit goes down and they’re all needed? There’s no emergency phone or anything... Kinda weird if you ask me. Oh well, I guess not everything has to be prepared in case of extreme circumstance.

I get to the boutique and, shaking my head to remind myself Rarity won’t be stoned off her ass like last time... seriously, I’d never peg her to be the type... I should ask about that some time.

So I see that everyone’s settled down at the kitchen table and is chatting. At least Rarity seems to like Clark. Wonder what got under AJ’s skin so bad... I walk in, pull up a chair and listen as I wait for a chance to be involved in whatever’s going on.

Before I can actually sit down, however, I feel a slight tug on my pant leg. I look down and see that Sweetie’s trying to get my attention, and gestures to the next room over. I hope she isn’t scared or anything.

Maybe she found out what happened the other day? Oh god I hope I’m not the one she wants to give her the ‘drugs’ talk... Either way, I follow the little filly into the next room and sit down. “You uh, wanted to chat with me?”

“Yeah! We need to go get Applebloom and Scootaloo right away, we’ve got to plan! You’re an honorary Cutie Mark Crusader, so you’ve got to come to the meeting!” She looks at me with pleading eyes, but doesn’t elaborate on the why of the meeting.

“Well, I was kinda hoping to spend some time with Clark. I haven’t seen him in so long... What’s the meeting about?”

“Oh, uhm, we’re gonna be talking about him. Cuz he doesn’t have a cutie-mark either, and he could probably use a friend or two, right?”

“Sweetie, humans don’t get Cutie Marks, of course he doesn’t have one. Only ponies have them. And as for friends, he’s already got me, so that’s one right there, and he seems to be getting along fine with everyone else... But I do think he should meet the Crusaders at the very least.”

“Uhm, so you should come with?” She turns her eyes to their fullest power, and I feel my will to resist flowing away. But I must resist!

“Well... why don’t you invite him along? If he goes, then I will. How’s that for a deal? We can have the meeting another time. It might be a little easier if you all get to know him first anyways, right?”

“But- but- seeecret planning!”

I snicker. “And does he have to know about the meeting? Why not just suggest he come by the clubhouse so everyone gets a chance to meet him. Your seeecret plan doesn’t have to be right now, does it?”

“Well- I- I guess...” She looks so disconsolate.

“Come on, let’s ask him to come with us when he’s done talking with your sister. Then we can have our special meeting after he’s left. How’s that?”

“Oh, alright. C’mon, let’s go ask, then!” Sweetie starts for the sitting room, only stopping to wait for me.

I, of course, follow behind her. I’m not sure what the meeting is about, but I have reason to believe it may have to do with his arm...

“So, d’you wanna come meet the other girls? I’m sure Applebloom and Scootaloo and Noi would want to meet you!” Sweetie’s chest puffs out a little from sheer enthusiasm. Strangely, I see Clark falter a bit.

“Uh, y- yeah. That sounds like it could be fun. So long as there’s someone else too, ‘kay?”

Sweetie agrees instantly, and runs out of the room. A moment later, she returns, says thank you, and leaves again, this time accompanied by the front door closing.

Clark looks fine again. “Well, she seems pretty nice.”

Rarity practically preens. “She’s the absolute dearest. She and her friends are most energetic, day-to-day, always trying to figure out their cutie marks.” Rarity smiles, then notices what the clock behind Clark says on it. “Oh, my! If you want to make it to Fluttershy’s house, you’ll need to leave sooner, rather than later to avoid sunset. It can be terribly hard to navigate around here without the light of the sun.”

I grin. “Light of the sun? Pfft, who needs the sun?” I ask rhetorically as I Spark Up, my grayish glow brightening the room.

“Better to move in the day. Fewer things move then than at night, after all.” Clark says, offhandedly.

I shrug. “Point taken, though trust me, the monsters around here are wimps... just don’t let your guard down, that’s all.”

He gives me a genuine smile. “Never will.” He stands, thanks Rarity for her generosity and hospitality, and she giggles and smiles to herself. Man, he’s laying it on thick. However, he does get her to start working on a new set of clothes for him. Twilight, Clark, and I get moving, heading towards Fluttershy’s house. I hope she takes his presence better than AJ did.

Twilight knocks on Fluttershy’s door, and announces herself and I, and says she’s got someone to introduce to ‘Shy. When the buttery pegasus peeks out of her house through a slightly-open door, she stops and gapes at Clark.

“Y-you’re so big!” Is all she can say.

I start to smile, and see Clark suddenly wearing an identical grin. After a moment of her gawping at him, he speaks up. “Well, I don’t want to brag, but I am rather tall.” And just like that, he breaks Fluttershy, the pegasus’ eyes going wide as her pupils shrink to pinpricks. Her eyes roll up, and she passes clean-out.

I think Clark is the most shocked of all of us, though, and looks like he just found out he’d shot a puppy by mistake.

I roll my eyes and turn to Twilight. “I carried her last time, your turn.”

“Oh, fine. Clark, why don’t you step i-” We look over to see Clark kneeling by Fluttershy with a blank look on his face, two fingers of his left hand pressed gently to her throat. His demonic arm hovers right in front of her muzzle.

“Dude, she’s fine! She does this a lot! Think like an opossum, only with more fear issues.”

Clark nods, absently, and lifts Fluttershy, cradling the pegasus’ with his right arm, and using his left to open the door. With a confidence I haven't seen from him all day, he simply enters the room, looks left and right, and moves to set her on the couch. Sighing, I walk in behind him, expecting to hear the usual background clamor of Fluttershy’s home. Instead, I’m surrounded by an almost oppressive silence.

“Okay, that’s weird... But ‘Shy’s gonna be alright. Give her ten minutes and she’ll be up and offering you dinner.” Sure enough, it only takes seven minutes before she’s recomposed herself, and is trying to be hospitable. During that time, not a single animal is fully visible, and not a sound is heard but from the ponies and humans in the room. I keep seeing glinting eyes glaring from knotholes, birdhouses, and the like, and even the occasional fuzzy blur moving from one place to another, but they never reveal themselves. Even the domestic rabbits, who usually come out to just laze around on anything that might hand them food for the luxury of their company, are in hiding.

It’s the arm. His arm. The corruption doesn’t sit well with the harmony magic that is pretty much everywhere. Like a dog barking at spirits, they run from his corruption... But his mind is fine. I need to know how, when, and where he got it... I’ll ask when we’re alone. I doubt it’s a story for pony ears...

I guess the universal belief that acceptance is the best policy doesn’t reach beyond things that aren’t alien to them... I’m not sure if that’s hypocritical, ironic... or just sad. I return my thoughts to the conversation at hand. Now that she’s awaken, Fluttershy is getting along with Clark just fine, and Anne seems interested, though also a bit trepid. Again... the arm... I need to get everyone to understand why it’s not the same as a rampaging demon...

We finally start leaving Fluttershy after a fish-based dinner, which Clark practically shreds in his haste to eat it all, looking almost bestial as he does. It’s weird, but I think Fluttershy actually feels safer when he does that. Might be the whole deal with her liking animals better than people. Still, the meal is good, and I’m a bit surprised to see Twilight eat the meal exactly like everyone else, fish and all. She doesn’t say a thing about it, neither positive nor negative. Guess she’s a bit less close-minded about the whole meat thing. Hey, you need protein somehow.

After our meal and visit are finished, the three of us head back to the library.

Twilight then makes a realization. “Oh no... I don’t have anywhere for Clark to sleep... I mean, he’s too big for the couch in the main room, what do we do?”

I laugh. “You haven’t seen this guy sleep. He can do fine with blanket on a wood floor. He can bunk in my room until we get a place for him.”

Twilight seems unsure and turns to Clark. “Are- are you okay with that?”

“I- uhm, can I choose when we get there?” Twilight nods assent to his request.

I shrug. “If you still need to shrug off your PTSD, Twi’s got a basement under the tree. Just don’t touch anything down there, who knows what crazy shit she does down there?”

“N-no, not underground, please.”

“Oookay then. Fine, whatever you choose when we get there. But seriously, I’ve been down there twice, and the second time, I swear something exploded.”

“Wait, before you go parceling off my perfectly legitimate laboratory, he could easily sleep in the side room. There’s a couch in there, and it’s pretty comfy. I, uh, may have fallen asleep in there a few times.”

Clark looks at her a for a sec. “Yeah, that’ll work.” He pauses for a moment. “Thank you.”

“Perfectly legitimate, sure. Then why do you have containment units that can contain practically anything short of an explosion of cosmic energy? Are you sure you couldn’t make, Idunno, some sort of magical bomb or something?”

Could and would are different things, Anthony. And I had the containment units for testing you!” I see Clark flinch at the words, even though they aren’t aimed at him. I remember him saying something about ‘them’ testing him.

“Yeah, well, they didn’t do that good of a job if I can just melt them with my bare hands.”

The back and forth discussion continues, mostly about just what Twilight does down there, and her being vague. Eventually we reach the library.

“I still don’t have solid proof that you aren’t some mad scientist. Heck, if Spike shows up with a hunch someday, I’m having you committed.”

“What? He only had a hunch because he kept reading in the cubby to hide the light!” Twilight stops when she admits this, and covers her mouth. Clark and I both stare at her, mutely surprised. Even by Ponyville standards, that was pretty random. And a little sinister.

“Twilight, I have a feeling that you shouldn’t be allowed in your lab during a lightning storm. I’m keeping my eye on you, and if you start talking about brains, I’m going to get you tossed in an asylum.” I tease.

Twilight just sputters and mumbles, giving me angry looks. Heh, score another for me. Though, she calms pretty darn fast when Clark starts scratching her behind the ears as they walk. Damnit, he’s really doing the ‘nice’ thing for her. Basically every pony except AJ has liked him, and he’s seemed to like them back. Heck, he was even polite with AJ when she was insinuating things about him that make no sense. I still want to figure out what her problem is.

I’d blame it on the arm again, but this time, AJ just outright doesn’t like him while everyone else does... Whether it’s the arm or not, I plan on asking tonight. He has to tell someone about it right?

As we get inside, Twilight shows him to the side room, and shows him to the couch. She floats in a blanket, and he gingerly accepts it, before finally shaking it out, though it looks like he’s basically pinching it in his right fingers, and holding it normally in his left. Must be the strength boost of it. The moment Twilight leaves the room, I’m getting ready to talk to him while he settles in, but he seems to have disappeared by the time I turn to him. Looking around, I almost miss his corrupted arm sneaking out from under the couch to pull the last of the blanket underneath it.

I sigh sadly. “I know old habits die hard, and whatever happened that made you get into this habit of being so high-strung must have been awful... you wanna talk about it?”

“No, need to sleep. Need to wake early.” I can see a single off-yellow eye staring at me from under the couch. His hand-eye.

I should ask if he can see with that, but I guess I’ll ask later tomorrow... I walk slowly up to my own bedroom, and go to sleep. Next Chapter: Chapter 138 Estimated time remaining: 13 Hours, 48 Minutes

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