Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 147

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Chapter 147

“So, Anthony, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Discord muses, thoughtfully stroking his goatee.

“Well, I think so Discord, but I can’t memorize an entire opera in Yiddish.”

Discord pauses for a moment looking at me in confusion, before continuing with aplomb. “No, no, Anthony, I mean we should try to take over the village!” He grins at me. “Gently, of course.”

“Why? What would be any different? You wouldn’t have any more power, you don’t need money or servants, you can do everything you want for yourself in an instant. Who needs to be in charge to have power?”

“Well, I suppose you have a few points. Mostly on your face, but I’m sure they’ll shave off just fine.” I cross my eyes and see that there’s a cluster of spiny hairs sticking off my nose. “I just want something to do, that won’t leave me in stone again. In spite of what those hippies think, being stoned is not all that fun.” Discord leers around the area.

“Wrong kind of stoned dude. I should get you some weed sometime. Maybe I could ask Rarity.” At the look Discord gives me I nod. “Yeah, still kinda weird and it’s been what, four weeks since that happened? Rarity’s a pothead. Live and learn I guess.”

“Hmm... maybe we should pay her a visit. I’m sure she could learn me a thing or two... and I could show her the amazing gift to the world that is paisley underpants! It’ll be a scream, I’m sure.”

“Mainly for her. Sure, why not... but nothing permanent. We want her to like you after all.”

“Ugh, does she have to?” Discord sneers, rolling his eyes at the thought. I pick them up and hand them back to him, and he sets them back in place.

“Well, you at least need three of the Element Bearers on your side, right? If half of them say they should keep you around, the other half will agree. They have this weird kind of deal with the whole ‘My friends are doing it’ mindset.”

“Oh, that’s just ponies being ponies. I tried breaking them of the herd instincts, but it just made them so droopy. It took forever to peel them off the walls, but I suppose I should’ve picked something better than limpet instincts to use as a replacement.” Discord looks thoughtfully at Fluttershy who looks horrified... and a little curious.

“Yeah, maybe snails. Would be funny to see them try and wiggle around on their stomachs and try to bunch up their legs like a shell.” Even as I speak, I see one colt... doing exactly that. The lanky unicorn child looks like he’s attempting to become a contortionist in motion, and Fluttershy and Discord look confused as hell when they look to see what I’m staring at.

“Did you-”


“What the fuck?” We both turn to Fluttershy confusedly at her odd word choice. “S- Sorry...” she mutters.

“Well, that takes all the fun out of finding out what they’d do... Say, Anthony, let’s go turn some houses into gingerbread houses!” I point to Sugarcube corner. Discord scowls. “That’s twice they’ve beaten me to the punchline... Anthony, have they been preparing for me?”

“No, ponies are just... weird. Like, really really weird.”

“I’m starting to think I’m not needed... Bah! Perish the thought, I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeves!” He gestures at the empty air near his wrist. A few seconds later, he gestures again.  He looks, sees that he has no sleeves. “How embarrassing, I left my sleeves on my other deck.”

“So instead of not playing with a full deck, you don’t have one at all? Explains much.” I say, giving the spirit beside me a wry smile at the hole he dug for himself.

“I- hey! Turnabout is not fair play! I’m still reeling from Sparkle’s rules-lawyering earlier!” Discord says, wearing full fishing attire. A nearly spherical plushie of Twilight dangles at the end of his fishing rod, which he’s reeling in.

“Yeah well, I got plenty of ammo to use, and I don’t really care too much about my aim. Keep a water bucket handy, I’m nowhere near done with friendly fire.”

“I’ve never understood why people have problems with friendly fire. It’s friendly, so why suppress it?” Discord asks, looking upset in his vintage ‘Nam gear. I’m not entirely sure why he’s in a- oh, wait, the first billion COD games. How does he know about- Eh, Spirit of Chaos I guess. Just because he doesn’t show his face doesn’t mean he’s not around. For all I know, he could have spent a vacation on Earth one time.

“So what can we do? I mean, there’s pranking, but most of that can be done with enough money, ingenuity, and time. Which, aside from money, we both have in spades.”

“Hmm... Well, there’s so many ideas, but so few that won’t get Twilight Sporkle’s disappointed glare to have my future ‘set in stone’ if you will. Perhaps we cou-” Discord stops mid word, freezing perfectly in place.

As I wonder what could’ve caused his freeze-up, his head slowly turns to look off in some direction, a slow grin spreading across his face.

“And what delicious meal of fun has your brain cooked up this time?”

“Actually, I’d say I just heard something....” his voice turns to a low, purring growl, “interesting.” He starts moving in the direction he’s facing, simply sliding around, under, or over the shocked and/or scared ponies in his way, his speed leaving Fluttershy and I in the dust as we hurry to catch up.

After a while I realize he’s heading for the orchards of Sweet Apple Acres. What could be chaotic over there? Oh no, did Clark run into AJ again? Or... Then I hear children. Very loud and familiar children as we get close to the orchard. Of course the CMC would set his ‘Chaos Radar’ off, they can be almost as bad as him.

Oh well, time to see what the little fillies are doing this time.

“... and you say that you just need a bucket of glue to finish this... contraption?” I hear Discord say, a shining beacon of glee shining through his words, and for the first time today, it’s a metaphor that isn’t being taken literally.

“Eeyup! An’ then we can try gettin’ our cutie-marks in cross-country paintin’!” I hear Applebloom’s voice chirp out cheerfully.

What the fuck? I run up to the clubhouse, slowing down to duck under the entryway before realizing I just passed my stop. I exit the clubhouse and look around the clearing for what caught my eye. It didn’t take long to see holy shit they have a cannon! It’s not all of a cannon yet, but...

“Where did you get a cannon!?”

“We built it!” Sweetie says, her voice cracking on the ‘built’. She’s loading a large can of paint into the bottom, even as Discord simply snaps his fingers to just put in the last section needed, even though the new section is composed entirely of what looks like Jolly Rancher.

“Ohhhhhhh no. Nonononononononono! What about the cleanup? What if you hit someone? What if it misfires and explodes?”

Discord cackles gleefully. “I know, it’s just such a wonderful experiment! And, in the interest of staying reformed, I’ll make sure it can’t injure anybody. Probably.” He snaps his fingers, and Fluttershy, the CMC, and myself are all covered in various mis-matched protective gear. Sweetie’s in a full linebacker uniform, complete with black streaks under her eyes. Scootaloo is in an old-style diving suit, blinking in confusion, and Applebloom has about twenty pillows duct-taped around her. Fluttershy has a shimmering energy field around her, and... HALO armor?

And I’m... dressed as a crash-test dummy. “Not cool man, seriously!”

Discord just snickers under his full suit of medieval plate armor and yells, “Paint in the hole!”

The cannon fires, and a solid-blue glob goes flying into the air. I can’t even see where it lands, but it’s somewhere in the Everfree forest. Oh man, that’s going to piss off something in there.

Except... I haven’t seen a single one of those super-dangerous Everfree beasts that supposedly live in there. So what could it land on?

“Oh well, at least it didn’t land on anyone. Seriously, I know Discord can use his magic to be a super quick-fix cure-all for the entire planet, but that’s still vaguely dangerous. Even temporary or reduced harm is still harm.”

“Pfft, they only shot it into Cockatrice territory. Er, wait...” Discord stops and thinks that over for a moment. “Nah, it’ll be fine. Alright, so did any of you get your amazing talent-tattoos? That counts as being reformed if you did, right?” He snaps the claws on one hand, and blocky, ‘?’ shaped images show up on each crusader’s flank. Hmm... I just noticed Noi isn’t here.

The crusaders look at their new ‘talent-tattoos’ with shock and mild horror, until they fade. Then, they look like they don’t know what to think. Discord looks rather disappointed. “Drat, I never was good at soul magic... good with blues magic, though.”

“How about a bit of death metal? Been a while since I heard any. Probably for a good reason.”

“I’m not sure necromantic blacksmithing is the answer to your love life, Anthony.”

I stare at him for a moment and then get it. “Oh no, death metal is a style of music. Like, a sub-genre of metal that has darker tones and more intense music.”

“... I stand by my previous statement.” Says Discord, standing next to a faded Discord repeating “...omantic blacksmithing is the answer to your love life, Anthony. I’m not sure...” over and over again.

“Haha, very funny. Anyway, now that we’re here... I guess introductions can start, though we seem to be missing a member.”

“Noi’s sick today. She’s got the trots. Also, I’m Scootaloo!”

“Ah’m Applebloom.”

“And I’m Sweetie Belle! You look just like that weird statue in Canterlot all those years ago.” Discord quirks an eyebrow and grins. Sweetie just smiles at him, completely uncomprehending. Discord peers closer at the trio.

“And you look... familiar already. Have I already terrorized you, or- wait, I recognize the orange one, and the yellow one and the little marshmallow with legs, too!”

“I don’t get it.” Scoots says, and Discord gives an exasperated groan.

He points at Applebloom. “You. Do you understand?” The little pony shakes her head, completely lost.

Sighing, he puts his face in one paw, and puts on a blue version of his face, a pair of golden manacles shackling his wrists, sans chains.

“Alright, in return for letting me free all those years ago, you each get precisely one wish. I might do a song-and-dance if they’re good.”

The girls look at Discord confused then realization hits me. “Wait... they let you out? That’s... not as surprising as I thought two seconds ago...”

“Didn’t you flub my last wish?” Scootaloo asks accusingly.

“No, you flubbed your request. You wanted wings and I gave them to you. Besides, I thought you looked so nice.” Discord snaps his paw-hand-finger-claws-whatever and Scootaloo once more has the giant, light-refracting multi-hued butterfly wings that I’d expect to see on a five-year-old girl’s doll.

Scootaloo’s shriek of rage and dismay is loud and piercing enough that I see a spiderweb of cracks form in each window of the clubhouse. Discord’s face is utterly priceless, but that hurt, and I have normal hearing. Judging by the pained expressions on the crusaders, I’d say pony hearing only made it worse for them.

With a hasty snap, Discord resets Scootaloo’s wings, and pulls off his ears to clean out with a rag. Then, he eats them, just for good measure. I don’t even notice when he got his ears back into their normal positions.

“Well, now that’s what I call pipes kid. Maybe your talent is making loud, unbearable noises.” My ears agree with him, and in a truly sad display, Scootaloo actually looks... Poor kid, she really wants to know what her destiny is supposed to be.

Once my ears recover and I can hear softer noises again, we just kind of end up standing around. Applebloom and Sweetie still look slightly dazed though. “So, you let Discord out? This had to have been before I did it the first time, ‘cuz as far as I know, he only got out three times, two of them from me. That begs the questions... why and how?”

“Uhm, we kinda started arguin’...” Applebloom trails off.

Scootaloo picks up the trail of thought next, “about whether he’s ‘chaos’, or ‘evil’, n’ stuff...”

“And we kinda started a hoofticuffs right next to his statue during the field-trip, and then by the time we got home, there was so much weird stuff going on and then Twilight and our sisters fixed it all and then I got a super-stern talking to by Rarity because Ms. Cheerilee told her about what we did and then the royal guard came and said that Celestia was super-mad with us, and then Rarity was even madder and then I didn’t get dessert for two. Whole. Weeks!” Sweetie stops to take a deep breath, her face a little purple as she gasps and wheezes.

“You set loose the Spirit of Chaos and get a talking to and lose dessert.”

“Applejack whuped me fer it when Cheerilee told her.”

“Eh, corporal punishment wasn’t exactly something I dealt with from my parents. Though my sister beating me up was par for the course.” I comment on the next punishment.

“My folks also took my desserts away, but they also took my scooter, too.” Scootaloo says, but she sounds more proud than regretful. Weird kid. Oh, and she’s going all poofy again.

“Uh.... huh. So I guess you do know each other... inadvertently. Also, I highly doubt that launching paint balls over Equestria would get you any marks unless they had a cutie mark for ‘caused destruction with non-lethal objects’ which, to be honest, you’d probably have by now if it was any of your talents.”

“Oh, we’ve got a coordinate system set up. We’re gonna re-paint the Pony Lisa!” Oh Nabu I didn’t just hear that. That pun was bad, and I can’t even get mad at them, because the little fillies didn’t know what they were saying.

“No. No you aren’t. You’re going to make a mess.”

“Nah, don’t worry! We got this.” Scoots says, poofing up with pride as she leans against the cannon.

In slow motion, I see the cannon shift, and a piece of loose candy-based machinery falls down, causing an attempted firing of another paint can. The firing attempts, but at a much lower angle and entirely too far to one side. Off, into the distance of Ponyville flies a massive blob of orange paint.

“Oops.” Next Chapter: The paint hits the fan Estimated time remaining: 12 Hours, 6 Minutes

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