Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 207

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Chapter 207

I sit up, my forehead really sore. I hear Rainbow Dash behind me. “Ugh, the perv is awake...”

“Worth it. You make cute noises.”

“S- shut up, do I need to knock you into next week?”

“You’re just jealous that I’m not even into ponies and I still know how to touch a mare.”

“I am not! Just keep your hands to yourself for the rest of this, okay?”

“What’s your damage? I’m just fooling around.” I say, rolling my eyes

“Ugh, hey Myrna, how can we get serious Anthony back? He’s an ass, but better than this.”

Myrna shrugs. “How would I know? Besides, he’s an ass no matter what his mood is.”

I lean back and look up at the sky. “My mind is an enigma wrapped in mystery, hiding in a flowerpot on the roof of a pizzeria in Western Volgograd.”

Rainbow facehoofs. “Why don’t you just marry Discord already?”

“Because weddings are expensive, boring, and a waste of time.”

Myrna scoffs, “I didn’t think he was your type.”

“Well, he’s certainly good for a laugh now and then. Besides, at least I’m one of the few openly saying he wouldn’t actually be that bad. You just don’t like him because you don’t appreciate his sense of humor.”

“That, and he tends to not think about the consequences of what he does. He turned a house into gingerbread while you were up in space.”

“See? He’s an immediate answer to world hunger, and you want to suppress that. Shameful...” I shake my head condescendingly. “Well we can have this conversation later. It’s fully possible that there is a scared and lost human refugee out there, and if they are anything like you two were when I found you, we should find them ASAP.”

“Alright, alright.” Myrna looks up at the sun, still high in the sky. “We should keep moving. I can ferry you across the river if we find a smaller part to cross, further from the big pond. I don’t like the thought of losing you to some prehistoric throwback.”

“I was caught unaware. I can handle a croc. Just got to stay around it’s tail end. They’re like Dodongo’s, keep away from the mouth and they go down easy.”

“Yeah, but you can’t always see an alligator before it attacks.” Myrna says, picking me up and setting me on her coils.

“Fine, fine. Could still take a croc in a fight though... keep their mouth closed and they can’t do jack.”

Myrna begins slithering to the water, Anne and Rainbow Dash taking to the sky to cross more easily. The trek across the water is uneventful, the crocodile that grabbed me seems to either be the only one here, or the others are staying away from Myrna.

Either way, there’s no further problems, and Myrna simply keeps going, keeping me on her back as she slides across the grass and dirt.

“So how far to the mountain, miss Expert Navigator?” I say, laying down a bit more on Myrna to distribute my weight better.

“Maybe another half a day? We should get there early tomorrow morning.” Dash calls back down. “But only because you’re all so slow.”

“Says the third fastest in Ponyville...”

“What?! I am not the third fastest in Ponyville! You’re only faster ‘cuz you don’t have to deal with drag!”

“And you don’t have to deal with things like trees, rocks, slopes and other obstacles. The planet isn’t totally flat. Also, we’ve already raced with Clark, with me having calculated my time subtracting my head start and Clark also beat you. You are third fastest until proven otherwise.”

“Again, cheating. You’ve got the unfair adva- hey, what’s that?”

“Oh, the ‘hey look a distraction’ rebuttal. Why are you such a sore loser?”

“No, really, look over there!” She points off to one side.

“That’s a cloud. They are little white puffs of water vapor that fly.”

“No, on the ground, stupid!”

“Those are animals. They’re the things we live with that don’t speak but will still eat our food. This is a very educational day for you, isn’t it?” I take another look. “And it looks like they’re stampeding... or running away from something en masse. That’s trouble either way.”

“Yeah, I was meaning the big yellow-and black thing behind them. I think they’re running from that.” Dash calls back down, and the herd of animals gets closer still. Now that I can sorta see them better, I can tell they’re some kind of kangaroo.

“As long as the big yellow-black thing isn’t a ridiculously-oversized yellowjacket, I’m saying we’re fine.”

“Looks kinda like a cat.”

Before I can answer, the kangaroo lookalikes are stampeding past and over Myrna, and by extension me. The thundering of their movements is accompanied by a faint tingling that doesn’t leave when they’ve passed us.

“So... I’m guessing they’re running from a Bigger Fish and that means it’s probably gonna try and eat anything smaller than it.” I look to Anne “Feeling like adding a new link to the local food chain?”

“Uh, Anthony... I think this one might be pretty solely in your court.” Anne says, before winging it up higher. The tingling sensation is now significantly stronger, and something primitive inside me begins chanting ‘run-run-run-run-away-now’ as something like a hole into the night sky pours over the horizon, loping with a fluid feline grace. Two others show up, a great deal of distance between their golden-yellow star-filled forms, as they are evidently herding the kangaroo-things ahead of them, like lions on the hunt.

I recall Twilight’s brief ‘lesson’ on constellation creatures, and that Leo and Taurus are among them. Well if these aren’t Leos... I have no clue what else they could be. I hop off Myrna and ready my sword. I have a feeling they aren’t going to let us go peacefully if my stellar Spider-Sense thing is any indication. Concentrating, I work on summoning my Plasma form, which doesn’t have to be forced this time thanks to the relative distance between me and the closest Leo. Once I have the nimbus circling around me, I grip my sword tightly and take a deep breath to calm myself. I can’t afford to get sloppy or distracted here.

The middle Leo stops when it sees me, at least long enough to roar.

The sound is primal and terrifying, and it feels for a moment like my heart stops in my chest, and I can feel Myrna, Anne and Rainbow Dash scattering blindly away from the stellar lions. The first of them resumes its charge, and all three begin converging towards me. At first, I figured they be big, but these are huge! They must be the size of small houses!

Well, guess that’s it then. Kill or be killed. Cats are fast though... I’m having trouble wondering if I should let them attack first and hopefully counter... or go for initiative? Hard to say, but a decision has to be made... they’ll be on me in a few moments at the rate of their advance.

Well, if I have to die, I’m gonna do it the same way my life started. Kicking and screaming and covered in bodily fluids of disturbing origin. Sword gripped, I move forward, less of a battle charge and more of a sprint.

The lead star-lion slams into the ground ahead of me, opening its jaws wide and letting loose a roar that literally shakes my bones. The ground seems to try coming out from under me from the shear amount of force the sound carried. Bracing as best I can, I hold my shaky ground and swing my sword to hurl a wave of plasma at the creature’s eyes as the big cat stares me down.

The cat jerks it head back a little, the plasma wave seeming to pour into the starry distance glimpsed through the creature’s body. The big cat leans forward, and I feel twin gusts of breath, scented like dust and the smell of a freezer with nothing in it as the animal sniffs me. It doesn’t seem like its planning to attack, just find out what I am... but I don’t know if I should let it have time to decide. It just absorbed my plasma wave like it literally wasn’t there, but I have no idea how that translates to actual durability.

Well, there is one option to try... <HELLO... WHOS A GOOD KITTY?>

The lion tilts its head, getting one eye down closer to me, before simply reaching out a paw and smacking me off to one side. Tumbling head over heels through scrub brush and dense grass, I see a patch of razorgrass go by, barely missing me as I pass. I lay for a few minutes, just staring at the sky as it spins slightly, the thunderous sound of the Leos resuming their hunt fading slowly into the distance.

Well, it was worth a shot... Of course now that it’s clear they have no interest in eating me, I suppose I’m safe. Relatively speaking given the continent I’m on but hey, just bruises and minor cuts so far, that’s a good sign.

I power down and wait for the rest of my group to calm down and get back from... wherever they ran to.

The first one back is Anne, flapping down and shading me with her feathers. “Anthony, are you alright?”

I shrug. “I’m not cat food. At this exact moment I’d say that’s pretty good news.”

Anne scoops me into a big hug, with a whispered ‘Thank goodness’.

“So where’s Myrna and Dash? You didn’t exactly all flee in the same direction.”

“I- I don’t know. When that lion roared, I couldn’t think anymore, I j- just had to run.”

“And that’s perfectly fine, we just need to regroup and keep going for that mountain now.”

Anne nods, and takes to the air, keeping an eye out for the others. I just sit and sheathe my sword, while I wait for Myrna and RD to show up. Hopefully it won’t take long.

“Any luck!?” I call up to Anne, hoping to get a report. “Wait, I have an idea!”

I spark up once more and try to... Idunno, expand my range <IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, THE LEO ARE GONE AND WE'RE SAFE. LOOK FOR ANNE, SHE'LL GUIDE YOU TO ME.>

A minute or so later, RD’s blue streak meets up with Anne, and Myrna slides out of the ground nearby a little after that. However, it’s nearing the end of the day, and we’ll need to put up a camp very shortly. Damn, I’d hoped to get this done sooner... Oh well.

“So I guess the plan is we set up camp for the night and make our way to the mountain and see if we can’t find the Class Four in the morning. We should try and get that done quickly so that we can get back in time to keep our boat from being toothpicks.”

“It should be an easy run back, once we get to the mountain. We’ve been kinda meandering getting there.” RD says.

“Alright, so mountain tomorrow. For now, sleep.”

Next Chapter: Chapter 208 Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes

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