Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 212

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Chapter 212

It’s been a few days on board and we should be getting close to Manehattan, but there’s no sign of the docks yet. I lean over the edge of the deck just sort of watching the water go by. Alex is still swimming along, having crossed a fourth of an ocean all by herself for weeks on end and no sleep. She’s not motorboating along like she was at the beginning but she’s still going pretty fast. Kid’s got stamina, I’ll give her that much. That said, it’s unclear as to what I should do with her when we get back. Ponyville is already a danger-zone by nature, and if we wanted to train her it should be in a safer more controlled environment. But then, she’d need trainers, someone who understands weird powers and how to learn to control them.

That leaves two options, and they’re too far apart to choose both. Not to mention learning lessons from both at the same time might leave her with crossed wires and she seems messed up enough as it is. I was right about one thing though, Myrna and Anne haven’t healed. They both look like I hit them with a hand-shaped branding iron. They’re gonna be stuck like that until the day they die and their skin deteriorates unless we can finagle a miracle cure. But since pony medicine isn’t even close to human medicine in terms of... everything... Well, at least they’re using it as a reminder that fighting between themselves isn’t going to help anyone. At least that’s what I hope. Neither of them act like the scars are even there, though they can’t really be seen as long as they have shirts on.

I just want all of us to be happy but it just seems so difficult. Though I guess this kind of proves that the pony solution of polygamy won’t work with them, if they end up coming to blows over me. I really do need to get laid though. But who? I’m definitely not gonna use Myrna or Anne for that, not after last week. Alex? Uh, no. I don’t want to go messing around with a chick who, even if it’s only one-sixteenth or whatever amount it is... bottom line: she’s female and part mantis, I’m not gonna literally risk my life for a quick fuck. Rather get blue balls. Heck, rather lose my ‘other’ head than get eaten alive.

Okay she doesn’t seem like she’d do that but I’m not risking it, especially since we literally just met and haven’t spoken in fourteen days. I hate you sex drive, I hate you so much...

Solution to my ‘problem’ or not though, I do need to talk to Alex, get some more info out of her. If human recruiting is going to be a regular thing, I’d want a census of some kind set up so we can keep track of everyone. They aren’t all going to Ponyville after all, and we’re gonna need some kind of... Idunno, “name, powers, etc.” file on them. But who should I bring Alex to in the first place? On one hand she’d be with someone who understands exactly where she came from and how to cope. On the other hand, she’d be getting more education about this place and such.

Kinship or fitting in? I know which one I’d pick in a heartbeat. Her though... Who knows what she’s like in her head? Guess all we can do is talk to her when we get to Manehattan. Which doesn’t seem far off right now as a call is made that we should hit port in another fifteen hours.

...I’ve always wondered if my speed would let me run on water. At my max speed I’d definitely be moving too fast for the water tension to be broken under my feet, but going at my max speed is pretty hazardous to my health. I guess the question is more like: Can I run on water safely. 

Probably not.

Fourteen and a half hours later, everyone on board is prepping the boat for docking and generally doing whatever their job is. For me, that just means ‘wait for stuff to happen’. Alex is still gunning like she’s going for a gold medal down there, pretty damn impressive. I’d imagine someone of her size would be hard to propel through water for long.

When we finally reach land and everyone has vacated the ship, Alex follows us to the train station, the pegasi opting to fly back to Ponyville.

“But before we all head to Ponyville, I want to make sure that’s where all of us are going. Alex, this is up to you to decide who you want to be your mentor-slash-guardian. Celestia, who runs Equestria and is considered god-like to half the local populace... Or Clark, a human refugee like you who has, well he’s getting better and he’s the man with the plans so to speak, so he’d probably know where to start with you. So who’s it gonna be? Clark lives in Ponyville with me, Celestia is in Canterlot, the capital of the... nation... country... I actually have no idea what Equestria is, but it’s big and Celly owns it. Anyway, back to the question of who you want to be your tutor for... integration to your new life.”

“Well... I have a few questions, if that’s alright.” asks the multi-ton being who can apparently roast ghostflesh with her breath and travel several thousand miles almost nonstop.

“Fire away. Actually, hold on...” I look around Manehattan’s immediate surroundings and look for a few restaurants. “We also want current diet squared away ‘cause you’re kinda... yeah.” I notice a restaurant with a vaguely German name implying it’s a griffon restaurant. Guess ‘land-mammal meat’ will be the first thing to try.

“Oh, uhm... well, I used to eat just about anything. And these... mandibles I think they’re called? They let me chew up just about anything. I can’t really taste much anymore, but given what I’ve had to eat so far, that’s probably for the best.”

I shrug. “Eh, I don’t even need to eat but I do it anyway. First reason: Bacon exists. Though a lot of ponies are... anti-meat. Herbivorous nature and all that. Celestia could probably tell you more about that but she also might try getting you to act like a pony. Well, maybe. If she’s realized her efforts with me do jack shit she might’ve given up on the idea. But who knows what a multi-thousand year old horse god thinks? Come on, let’s get some food, I’ll buy.”

“Oh, uhm, thank you. I- I’ll need to think about this.” she looks at the relatively low doorway. “Tell me about Celestia. I’d rather know what I’m doing than stumble around blindly.”

“To be fair, it’s not guaranteed that Celly’s gonna be totally straight with you. Her sister told me that she thinks she doesn’t know how to anymore. And if you ask me, she’s kind of a bitch, but that’s personal. Publicly... she’s a god. Like, seriously. Immortal and controls the sun. I don’t buy it, but every one of the ponies do. I’ve debunked that it’s only something she can do but... anyway I’m just kind of dumping my anger at her on ya. Uh...” I think for a moment as I walk into the restaurant, the light note of cooking meat in the air telling me I am in the right place. “Hmmmmm... Celestia herself... as a person... kinda hard to nail down.”

“Uh, Anthony, I don’t think I’ll fit in there.” Alex says, leaning down until her head is lined up with her hipline. She’s still barely peeking in through the top of the doorway.

“Okay, yeah ponies are friggin’ tiny, getting around is problematic even for me, uh... Eh, I’ll borrow a menu for ya and we’ll order your choice in a ‘to go’ box. That fine?”

“Uh... alright, I guess.” Probably having heard the conversation, an Earth pony in typical waiter attire, at least for a casual restaurant, brings us some menus at the door rather than waiting for us to take a seat. I pass Alex the relative-to-her napkin-sized menu. “You uh, can still read that, right?”

“Of course; it’s in english.”

“I meant the tiny text and... okay. Just make your order and we’ll bring it out to you. Better that than try and squeezing you in here. Most pony buildings are fairly big on the inside but their doorways are a pain in the forehead.”

“Heh.” Alex shuffles back. “I’ll sit, uh, in this alley a bit. I’ll just wait for the food. Get... uhm, how much money do you have? Because I’m really hungry, and literally everything on this menu I know the meaning of the name for looks good.”

“Well, not sure how well silver and generic gold coins go for, but they should work well enough since pony economy uses gold coins as currency. I’m just using whatever’s left from the allowance we got for the journey to find you.”

“You... get allowance?”

“Nah, it was just funding for the trip. Like paying for staying at the docks or any shops we might need to buy from. I want money on any regular day, I hafta get a job like anyone else. Though a bit of ‘hero’s income’ would be nice every month or so.”

“Huh. Anyways, you order, I’ll wait. Oooh, and get something with mushrooms in it!”

“Alright.” Considering it seems to be just me and Alex, Myrna and Anne must have got on the train and wanted to head home. Eh, less people I have to pay for. Looking over my menu I find a relatively cheap pork-based dish so I go with that, and some sautéed mushrooms... well, three of them given Alex’s size.

Luckily silver seems to work just fine and go pretty far. I’m just shocked that this economy will take money that isn’t Bits... but then again, pony economics don’t seem that close to human economy anyway.

So when I’ve placed the order and the food arrives, rather quickly as today isn’t really that busy a day for them. Figuring we wouldn’t want to block the doorway, we take our food to eat it outside on the curb. Manehattan, just by looking around, is much closer to ‘home’ than Ponyville by a long shot. Alex, however, looks down at her large piece of pork and mushrooms.

“Is that all you could afford?” Alex asks. Looking at the food in her hands, I can see why she sounds disappointed. Her left hand alone easily envelops the plate entirely.

“Considering I don’t need to eat... ever and don’t plan on needing to buy food much, yeah. Also, we’re gonna need to buy us a way to wherever we’re taking you, don’t we? Manehattan isn’t exactly a stone’s throw from Ponyville or Canterlot. So there’s getting you fed and to a place where you can stay until we find a stable place for you.”

“Ah... alright.” She lifts the food and proceeds to eat it in two bites, shifting a little in place. Her two foremost canid legs cross like a dog laying down.

“So this is the part where we either talk about you and what you know about your new self. Or we talk about your choices for your... caretakers. Okay, overwatchers is more like it but you get my point.”

“Oh, right. So, about Clark, then? Since you talked a little about Celestia, already.”

“Clark.” I swallow my food before continuing. “Is my best pal and he’s come back from Earth. He knows exactly what you dealt with before coming here... for the most part. He knows a ton more than Celestia in that regard, and being human he knows what you might need to feel normal. Celestia would probably rather you fit in than feel normal. But Clark’s plans for any humans we can recruit...” I sigh. “Bottom line: Humans are coming here with superpowers and the demons are following us. The only option we and the races of this planet has is gathering as many refugees, training them to use their powers, learn control, and fight the demons. Clark and I would give you training and help you understand your abilities, but we’ll expect you to fight at least once. Our situation is no joke and... we need help. And since you showed a certain skill earlier, you’ve got an ability Clark and I, our two heaviest hitters, can’t copy.”

“Uh... which is the firebreath?”

“What do you mean? I can coat myself in fire, Clark can kinda throw it, none of us breathe it and what you showed clearly had nothing to do with fire or heat in general for that matter. it seemed more energy based, like a gaseous Chi move.”

“... A what now?”

“Spiritual energy. As opposed to being something solid like water, fire, or rock it’s more ethereal. You managed to hurt what amounts to a ghost with it. Hurt it bad. At least one of your powers, that glow in your chest right now, is a spirit attack. Not magic, not tech, ethereal. Does that make sense?”

“So... I have ghost breath?” She pauses for a moment. “Like Danny Phantom?”

“Ghost killer breath. Not in the form of concussive force Danny uses. More like an attack that literally, for lack of a better term, burns someone’s soul or spirit directly. You wouldn’t hurt them physically as the attack isn’t on a physical plane, but that also means things like normal metal armor wouldn’t stop it, someone would have to have specific wards set up in advance in order to be immune to your ‘soul burn’ breath.” I take another bite. “So what else do you know you can do? I assume you get plenty of skills due to your chimeric form. Clearly you’re a formidable swimmer with extreme stamina. Means you’d be our ‘go to girl’ for any underwater fights for sure.”

“Oh... okay. So... where would you recommend for me to go?”

“Well... in the long run it would probably be best to see Celestia, honestly. She’s immortal and has the smarts to prove it. She’s just not totally... down to earth so to speak. If you wanted to go with Clark, you’d probably end up being trained for war, yeah, but he and I also have personal experience with being a human with sudden powers in a messed up land so we might be able to help you cope, rather than fit in. I’d suggest Clark out of personal preference, but if you choose Celestia that’s fine... just don’t expect her to be as perfect as literally every single pony around claims.”

“Alright. Well... let me think. Clark sounds rather... harsh. Celestia sounds manipulative, though. Idunno.”

“Yeah... but hey, at least you get to make your choice. And you could always change it later I suppose. But don’t wait too long, once the side you picked starts having plans for you, you ditching in the middle of it isn’t going to make either of them happy. They like to know what variables are controlled or not. They’re both master gameplayers and they’ll find a niche for you damn quick, but you also gotta be flexible enough to fit in that niche however you can when the time comes. Get it? They aren’t on opposite sides of the war, but how they want the war to go... differs greatly.”

“Uh... what if I don’t wanna go to war? I’m fine just burning zombies and stuff.”

“Well, it’s not quite war as you imagine it. It’s more like... well, demons are randomly dropping in just like you are. Humans are as well. The demons want to fuck this place up just like Earth, and we’re trying to stop them. It’s less of ‘two forces charging each other on a battlefield’ and more like a game of Whack-A-Mole on steroids with a lot of lives on the line.”

“Oh. So... I’d be a superhero.”

“Yep. Or Anti-hero if you prefer that line of thinking. I’m no hero if you ask me, all I do is punch the bad guys in the face until they blow up into meaty chunks. Ponies call me a hero for it... I call it justifiable extreme violence.”

“So... I’d be a Marvel superhero.”

“Yeah, but this isn’t comics either. This time, heroes can die and no magic power is gonna bring them back. This is real life, and in real life, all deaths are final. That’s why we want to train you to use your powers. So you know what you’ll be doing out there so you can save people and live to enjoy your victory party.”

“Okay. Then I’ll go train with Clark. If he’ll make me a superhero... well, I don’t have the powers I wanted, but...”

“Hey, the powers are all rolled by dice, what you get is random. That’s why you gotta learn how to make the powers you got the ones you wanted. It’s not gonna be easy, but we’re going to make sure you’re comfortable with all this as well. I’d rather have a cool, collected idiot on my team than a spastic, unsettled veteran.”

“I can understand that. So, you wanna head out? I think I’ve scared everybody away.”

Sure enough, a quick glance in either direction shows that the once-busy street is deserted for at least two blocks in every direction.

“They’ll get used to you, trust me. Just don’t wander outside of Equestrian borders like that. This place is pretty friendly but skittish. I left Equestria for a few weeks and ended up getting bricks thrown at me. You’ll be fine Alex, Clark and I will make sure you’re happy, not just a winner. At least we’ll do our best.”

“Well, alright. Let’s skip the thrown bricks part, though.” she begins standing up, pausing once she’s fully... uh, upright. “So... is everybody a baby horse here?”

Next Chapter: Chapter 213 Estimated time remaining: 22 Minutes

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