by That 1 Guy

Chapter 11: Loss

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Several plumes of thick, black smoke were rising from Canterlot. A massive airship, definitely a griffon dreadnought given the size and shape if its silhouette, continued to fire upon the marble city and didn't look like it would ever stop. As Clockwork squinted, he noticed several tiny objects heading for Ponyville.

“Get to cover!” the pegasus screamed to no one in particular. Without any conscious thought, he darted towards one of the city’s many towers and crouched behind it. He looked to see that Moppet was present, told him to cover his ears, and then did the same. It felt like eternity before he heard the rounds impact, each one feeling like a separate earthquake as each serrated metal wedge violently make contact with the earth.

After a full minute without any explosions, Clockwork and Moppet emerged from their hiding place to inspect the damage. One round had impacted several yards away, and while debris practically blanketed the area, what was most noticeable were the bodies. It felt like a mixture of surreality and terror. Many of the bodies were missing a limb, their intestines, their heads. Only a scant few were intact, though they had mostly likely died due to severe gashes or peppering from shrapnel. Blood was everywhere.

Clockwork went catatonic, his breathing turned ragged. At Camp Currahoof, the pegasus had seen detailed photos, videos, even practiced basic medicine on actual wounds (with the supervision of a qualified medic, of course), but he still couldn’t fathom that ponies could die so suddenly. Entire lives had been cut short in the blink of an eye; mothers and daughters, fathers, brothers and sons. Unique stories of innocent ponies had ended with a single, red page.

Clockwork collapsed to his knees and vomited until there was nothing left in his stomach to expel. He hoped the entrance to R&D was sealed off, if Haywire. . . or Wetwork. . .

The pegasus got up and shakily turned to his friend who was also motionless. After grasping his shoulders and a weak jostling, the mule came around.

“We’ve got to get back to my house.”

“What?!” Moppet asked. “We’ve got to make sure the Lost Foals are safe!”

“I don’t see any smoke rising from there, so I’m sure they’ll be fine for a little while longer. We’re closer to my house, I need to make sure my parents are safe, and from there we can get a better view of what’s going on!”

Moppet looked over his shoulder then back to the pegasus in front of him. “Fine!”

The duo took off without a second thought. Clockwork would’ve stayed to help, would’ve stayed to comfort the dying. If only he knew how. There were more than enough royal guards to treat them, or at least he hoped. The two equines made it back to the house in record time. Clockwork knocked furiously until he almost ended up hitting his father in the head.

“Dad! Are you hurt? Is Mom?!”

“We’re both fine, honey!” Quick Fix rushed forward, shoved her husband aside, and looked over the two equines before her. “What about you?”

“We’re alright.” Clockwork reassured his mother as he hurried inside, Moppet following close behind. “Is the house damaged at all?”

“Nothing we can’t replace.” Gearbox gestured towards several broken plates nearby. After the earth pony shut the door behind him, Clockwork objected.


“Because we’re goin’ back out!” Moppet said quickly.

“WHAT?!” both parents half-shrieked.

“The Lost Foals are still out there and we need to bring them to a safe place!” Clockwork explained.

“Absolutely not!” Quick Fix yelled, actually yelled, back. ”I’m not having my child and his friend run back out into the middle of a disaster zone! Aren’t the Foals holed up in a bunker underground?”

“That doesn’t mean they can’t get buried alive! Even with all the support beams we ‘ave in place! One building collapses and fwip! I’ll ‘ave thirty-two little corpses to find and give proper burials!”

As Moppet went on to argue with Clockwork’s parent’s, the pegasus began rummaging around the lower floor. When Quick Fix asked her son what he was looking for, his only response was a question of his own.

“Dad, where’s the safe?”

Gearbox sighed. “Under our bed, seventeen thirty-eight.”

“Thanks.” Clockwork disappeared into his parent’s bedroom, returning less than a minute later with a large, and fully loaded, revolver.

“No!” Quick Fix objected. “I’m not letting my son go outside until this has all blown over!

“War doesn’t blow over in a day!” Clockwork snapped.

Only after a tense silence did Gearbox sigh again and speak. “He does have a point, honey. If there’s anypony that can get the Foals to safety, it’s him and Moppet.”

“And I’ve never fired a gun in my life!” the mule added.

Quick Fix began to break down, managing to get out one last question. “Where will you take them?”

Clockwork shrugged. “Here. This place is essentially a fortress anyway.”

Gearbox looked grim. “It’s a better plan than any. Just please be careful, son. Don’t fire that thing unless absolutely necessary.”

“You got it. Get to the basement and stay there until you hear three knocks.”

After a nod from his father, Clockwork departed his home, followed closely by Moppet.

For once in his life though, he couldn’t remember a time when he was more scared. The hill on which his house was built certainly provided a vantage point, but said vantage point allowed him to see everything. Smoke and rubble were practically everywhere now, and several buildings had impressive chunks taken out of them. From this distance, the pegasus could make out tiny figures below, lying on their side and surrounded by red. There were no columns of smoke rising from the Industrial District, and that granted the pegasus a moment of relief. However, said relief vanished when he looked to the east.

Off in the distance, brightly lit by the now red light of the sun, were two moderately sized airships. They too were obviously griffon in allegiance and closing fast, but that wasn’t what really scared him.

Something was spilling out of both ships like a swarm of furious wasps. One word came to mind, and it seemed more terrifying now than it ever had been before.


Had Clockwork not vomited earlier, he would’ve done so now.



“What in the name of Tartarus are we lookin' at?” Moppet asked, his voice trembling the entire time.

The pegasus ran through a mental list of documented griffon assault strategies. Let’s see, long distance artillery, no hits on major industrial hubs yet, heavy focus on living areas, and a moderately sized invasion force.

Clockwork’s eyes widened as he brought his bandanna up to his muzzle to block out the inevitable smoke he would have to run through, covering his eyes with his goggles moments later. “Looks like a textbook heavy raid. They’ll want to inflict as many casualties as possible in the time they’re here.”

Moppet removed his hat for a moment, muttered something, and placed the item back on his head. Clockwork felt his neck to make sure his fire ruby necklace was still there. The friends looked at each other, nodded, and galloped into the fray.

The situation was even worse up close. Dirt, shattered glass, chunks of metal and flesh were all too common in the now chaotic streets. Some ponies just stood there in a daze, others shouted in a panic for lost loved ones or an explanation as to what was going on. A few royal guards were present, trying desperately to maintain control and failing somewhat. Nopony seemed to notice Clockwork or Moppet as they continued to gallop through the thick brown haze that had been thrown up by the bombardment. The pegasus was glad that they didn't, as he realized only now that he looked like a bandit.

The chaos seemed to die down a little as the duo made their way farther and farther into the Industrial District. The air began to clear, replaced by the slight haze of the noon smog. Clockwork let Moppet take the lead, for he knew this part of the city far better than him. After several dozen twists, turns, three ladders and a jump from one roof to the next, they made it to their destination.

To the untrained eye, the secret entrance into Lost Foal Fortress seemed like nothing more than a pile of random trash. Clockwork was half-surprised to see that said pile of trash appeared almost unchanged since the last time he had seen it. Even the dumpster’s chipping paint looked the same as it did a year ago.

Moppet darted forward and looked about for something that obviously wasn’t there. He spun around for a moment and spoke. “Gavroche’s not at 'is post, neither are any of the other scouts. What’s worse, the emergency lever’s busted!”

Clockwork didn’t know how to react. Nothing like this had happened before. The attack, the death, the fear in Moppet’s eyes, it was all alien and all terrifying.

“Well don’t just stand there like a statue! Elp me move this thin'!” the mule shouted as he grabbed a nearby piece of scrap metal and jammed it into the nearly invisible seam that ran down the center of the trash receptacle. Clockwork grabbed his own makeshift crowbar and did the same.

It felt like forever before the seam became large enough to be recognized as a very slim black line. It was only after Moppet’s piece of scrap metal broke that he verbally exploded. “Faustdammit!” he shouted as he threw the broken thing aside. He slammed his hooves into the large container’s and futilely punched it.

Clockwork’s ears flickered as he heard something similar to marching not too far away. He couldn’t tell where the sound was coming, given the sound echoing off of the several dozen building, but the griffons were coming. He almost jumped when an idea entered his head. “Moppet, get behind something.”


Clockwork withdrew his father’s revolver from inside his vest. “These hinges are the problem, and I see only one guaranteed way to break them. The rounds might ricochet, make sure to cover your ears.”

Without a word, the mule turned the corner of the building and did not reappear. Clockwork brought the hammer back, aimed the pistol barrel not three inches from one hinge, and fired.

The brass hinge shattered instantly, and it wasn’t much longer before the pegasus and his friend were putting all their might into pushing the massive blocks of metal aside. Clockwork considered giving up, and not moment later the dumpster fell in half.

“Ello? Lost Foals! Clocky and I are 'ere to get ye to safety!” Moppet shouted into the hole. “We’re coming down now!”

The mule descended first, followed soon after by his friend. Clockwork was shocked to find that the lights were out, even the backup emergency lights were flickering unsteadily. It didn’t help that they glowed blood red either. The only sound he could pick up was that of his and Moppet’s hooves on the packed dirt floor. He kept his weapon at the ready, though he was now down to only four rounds.

“Ello?” Moppet repeated, his voice echoing through the small cave system. “Lost Foals? Any of ye in ‘ere? Tis Moppet and Clockwork! Yer safe now!”

Again, no answer.

“Moppet, maybe they left or never made it?”

“They couldn’t ‘ave!” Moppet snapped. “The sole plan we ‘ad in place for something like this was to get inside and seal the entrance! So I see only two outcomes. One, they’re in ‘ere somewhere and too scared to speak, or two, they’ve all passed on to a better place. I think we both know which outcome I prefer.”

“Actually, we don’t,” a small voice echoed from somewhere nearby.

Moppet and Clockwork shared the effort in swinging open the slightly ajar, and surprisingly heavy doors to the mess hall. Upon further inspection, it was revealed that the doors had been barricaded by several of the room’s benches. However, this discovery was quickly overshadowed when it was found that the rest of the tables were now arranged near the far corner of the room. All thirty-two Lost Foals were there, every young filly and colt ready to unleash a barrage of makeshift projectiles on their intruders. Gavroche, who was at the front of the crowd, was the first to lower his weapon and rush forward to hug Moppet’s leg.

Clockwork’s ears twitched as he heard the marching from before, though it was much closer now. The sounds of bullets firing and metal clashing against metal were now present as well. “I hate to cut the reunions short but we need to leave now!”

“Who’s the bandit pony?” a unicorn filly asked.

Clockwork rolled his eyes. Called it.

“That there’s Clockwork, and 'e’s right.” Moppet gently nuzzled a few young ponies off his legs and exited the small crowd. He clambered onto the makeshift desk fortress and held his hat outwards. “I won’t lie to any of ye, my Lost Foals. War 'as finally reached our doorstep. As rude as it may sound, there’s next to Jenny we can do about it. The only thin' to do is run, but where to? Clocky?” the mule gestured to his friend.

The pegasus briefly removed his bandanna and goggles to give the Lost Foals a clear view of his face. “My house is heavily fortified and not too far away. When we all get inside it, we’ll be safe from the griffons until they leave!”

“Tis a sad day for us.” Moppet placed his hat over his heart. “We must leave what 'as been our 'ome for years in the pursuit of safety. 'Owever, we will not fall victim to the dumb birds now, will we?!”

The Lost Foals gave a collective “No.”

“I need ye all to be the bravest yev ever been. I need ye to run as fast as ye can and don’t look back until yer inside our new fortress! I must ask ye one last time, can ye do that?”


Moppet placed his hat firmly back on his head. “Then grab yer most favorite item an' 'ead to the surface!”

Clockwork had to admit, the thirty-two Lost Foals moved as a unit better than some of the teams he had trained with at Camp Currahoof. However, the pegasus’ memories couldn’t drift back to more peaceful times even if he wanted to. It wasn’t because of the light brown overcast, it wasn’t because of the blood-red sunlight or ponies screaming for mercy or missing family, and it certainly wasn’t because of the occasional bullet that grazed his body. No, it was because, through all of the chaos, Moppet continued to shout all thirty-two names, in order, and every Lost Foal continued to respond.




“Here, sir!”

“Big gap coming up! Jump!” Clockwork interrupted.

After the ponies and mule had jumped from one roof to the next, Moppet continued to name his followers.


“Still kickin’!”



“I can see my house from here!” Clockwork shouted from the front of the line. “It’ll be easier to get there by ground from here! Take this fire escape down!”

The pegasus slid down the metal platforms first, made sure that every filly and colt was accounted for, then pointed towards his home. It was clearly visible in the distance. “The big house on top of that hill!”

“That’s not a house! That’s a bomb shelter!’ one colt shouted.

“Which is why we’ll be safe in there! Keep runnin’, don’t stop for anythin’!” Moppet shouted.

Clockwork took his place in front of the long chain of equines and went into a dead sprint. He even had to fire a few times to draw the attention off the younger ponies. It felt like more than just the actual few minutes before they arrived at the entrance to Clockwork’s house.


It felt like even longer before Gearbox came to the door and the Lost Foals rushed inside.

“Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two. . .” Clockwork counted out loud, the Foals were all accounted for, but somepony was-.

Oh no.

“Wait! Moppet! Where are you?!” he looked around in search of the mule, only to find him nowhere in sight. Did he trip and fall? Did he take a wrong turn? Did he. . . No! There’s no way he could’ve just-

“Dad!” the stallion looked towards his father. “Is there any spare ammunition for this thing?!” he waved the revolver away from them, though he made sure to keep it visible.

Gearbox shook his head. “I’ve never fired that thing in my life, son, you know that.”

Clockwork gritted his teeth, swore internally, and checked his remaining rounds. One left, he would have to make it count.

Clockwork ejected the spent casings and practically screamed above the turmoil. “Dad! Moppet’s still down there somewhere and I’m not leaving him behind!”

“Then go get him! I’ll stay by the door!”

Clockwork took off without a word, and wished for the slightest moment that he had gone inside. After all, Moppet could handle himself in even the worst of situations.

However, this was not just a situation. This was pure, unadulterated hell. The sheer number of hostile griffons was dizzying, or maybe that was the scent blood both freshly shed and otherwise. Bodies of both species lay motionless on the gradually moistening dirt. It gave Clockwork very slight relief that none of the corpses he had seen so far wore a familiar hat or jacket.

“Moppet! Where are you?!”

Clockwork had little faith that his friend had heard him. Given the proximity of his ears to clanging metal and the explosive propulsion of bullets, the pegasus could barely hear himself.

The guardsponies were putting up a valiant effort against their winged enemies, at range, they excelled as bloodied feathers exploded outwards from their dead griffon owners. However, if even a single griffon came too close, another equine body would hit the floor. Then another, and another, and another!

“Moppet!” Clockwork’s voice cracked as he continued to deftly gallop through the chaos. He could barely see where he was going now, as both tears and dirt clouded his goggle’s lenses. He waited for a lull in the sounds of war before removing his goggles to wipe them off, and it was only then that he saw himself.

Wait, himself?


Clockwork felt something flat, hard, and slightly wet broadside him like a baseball bat. He felt his body go soaring through the air before-



. . . Ow.

Clockwork’s vision flickered to black several times before his mind fully committed itself back to the current world (though he sincerely wished that it hadn’t). The pegasus found that he had skidded through the dirt and ended up in an area where the sights and sounds of war had died down just enough to no longer be deafening. The air had cleared significantly, though the red sunlight had yet to vanish. His revolver was no longer in his hoof, flung somewhere amongst the bodies and fighting. His bandanna was now down around his neck, covering his necklace once more, and his goggles were no longer on his head-

Clockwork suddenly felt a sharp pain in his. . . everywhere, really. He would've immediately placed a hoof to his head had it not been for the sheer number of griffons nearby. Any noticeable motion would've resulted in a quick death by slit throat. He felt a thin, warm stream course down his muzzle as he lay motionless. As he blinked away the blood, the stallion noticed a faint glimmer not too far away and saw the unmistakable silhouette of his goggles. . . just to the right of a griffon's paws. Suddenly, the griffon stood at attention. Clockwork turned his head just enough to see what the soldier was looking at, and immediately wished he hadn’t.

A large griffon stood at the center of a small circle of his smaller brethren, barking orders all the while.

“We’ve got heavy resistance from the west. Head there and mass at rally point bravo. Imperii gloria!”

“Gloria Carniferous!”

After the griffons had departed, the turmoil of war, the screams, the gunshots, it all seemed to quiet down despite it being right there. Clockwork felt like he was staring at death incarnate, and it was staring back in annoyance.

As the behemoth made its way ever closer to Clockwork’s body, the pegasus was able to get a horrifyingly clear view of the monster that had sent him flying minutes earlier.

It wasn’t a normal griffon though, or what Clockwork would consider normal. He was too thickly built for a flying creature, with muscles covering just about every inch of him. His body feathers were a deep brownish red, his head feathers a dark gold, and his claws a golden brown much like that of a freshly baked loaf of bred. The size and shape of the greatsword that the griffon carried over his shoulder only confirmed Clockwork’s fears. This was the guy that had swatted him like a moth.

Clockwork tried to move, tried to stand and fight, tried to run. He could only breath as the demon drew closer, and it was then that he noticed the griffon’s scant armor. All he seemed to be wearing was a deep red cloak with a single golden plate over each shoulder. Judging by the large silver talon pinned above his heart, the pegasus realized that, if he remembered correctly, this brute was the griffon equivalent of a commander.

Clockwork closed his eyes as he saw the beast raise his sword. For a moment, he swore that he could see Charger’s smiling face.


Clockwork’s eyes shot back open as he watched the griffon before him remove his claws from his sword, now impaled in the dirt. The beast looked around, found Clockwork’s goggles and picked them up. He looked at the eyewear, then to the tiny shaking body before him. “These yours?”

Somehow, Clockwork managed to nod his head.

The griffon threw the goggles at the pegasus, causing them to land in the dirt mere inches from the stallion’s muzzle. The right lens had cracked in three and the left lens frame was severely misshapen. As Clockwork weakly placed them around his neck, he heard the griffon speak. “Get up.”

It took some major effort, but Clockwork managed to stand on shaking hooves. His vest had been torn just over his single wing, and the pegasus slipped the appendage through and folded it into his side. If he was going to die, best he die comfortable, relatively speaking anyway.

“Now I’ve seen everything,” the griffon let out an impressed whistle. “You’re the first pony, a smog breather at that, I’ve seen get up from that in a very long time. What’s your name, or should I just call you Cripplewing? Yeah, that has a nice ring to it,” the griffon mused in an impossibly dark voice, one dripping with sadism.

“You first,” the pegasus choked up. Why wasn’t he moving?!

“Axel Goldclaw, Commander of the Seventh Imperial Legion.” he answered in a way that made Clockwork nearly recoil at how casual the griffon was acting. Then again, going by the red stains on his feathers and sword, he wasn’t the first pony he had met today.

“Clockwork. Just. . . Clockwork”

“Well, Cripplewing, your life really has gone to shit now, hasn’t it? I’ll admit that I don’t like being here either, weather’s too muggy for me. So, I'll just off you now and we can both go our separate ways. I'll even do it quick this time.” laughing darkly, the beast withdrew his sword and raised it over his head. Clockwork noticed a faint glimmer not too far off, closed his eyes, and pushed himself as hard as he could into a roll. He felt some of his mane separate from the rest of it as he continued the desperate maneuver. After a few more rolls, the stallion got to his dizzy, bloodied hooves and found his body still in once piece. What’s more, he now had his revolver in hoof, and moments later pointed at Axel’s unarmored head.

The pegasus looked over his shoulder for a split second to ensure that no one was aiming at him, and all the bodies he saw were dead or very close to it. Good, now he could focus entirely on the beast in front of him. “Alright you sack of shit, I don’t care who you are or what your rank but nothing can keep me from putting a .44 magnum round through your damned skull and turning your already tiny brain to mulch!” Clockwork screamed, trying to sound as threatening as he could despite his voice cracking significantly on the last few words.

“Ouch.” Axel struck a pose as though he had been punched in the chest. “You little things really are adorable, thinking you can stop us.” he leaned forward, only to back up ever so slightly when he heard Clockwork pull back the revolver's hammer to full-cock. “Alright, I guess I feel a little sorry for you. So, I’m going to let you ask a question if you want, and I’ll answer it.”

“I want answers!” the pegasus squeaked. “Why invade Ponyville? Why now? Why focus on the population when you could’ve easily crippled our factories instead?!”

Axel’s voice took on an almost impossible baritone, as though he were reciting a speech he had rehearsed for days. “We’re going to take back every inch of what was rightfully ours when the abomination was dethroned. This pest control operation is only the first step. We attacked this pathetic excuse for a city to show the world that the Griffon Empire has not grown weak from a thousand years of false peace. We’ve attacked three population centers at the heart of your so called Federation without so much as a single hitch, and we will not stop until there is nothing left to kill. We shall use your bones as the foundation on which our empire will continue to prosper into eternity!”


Clockwork pulled the trigger, but no bullet left the weapon. No boom, no dead griffon.

Axel blinked, sword already primed to block the bullet, and let his grip slacken. He shrugged, laughed, and started to lift the blade once more.

The pegasus checked the cylinder to find the bullet casing spent. He must’ve fired it when he had been broadsided. In a last ditch effort, he threw the empty revolver at his enemy with all his might, but it was quickly divided into two pieces by a lazy turn of a sword. Clockwork slowly backed up, single wing futilely beating until his legs gave out. He crumpled to his knees and looked up with tears in his eyes. Axel pounced for the killing blow, then brought his oversized weapon down. Clockwork would become one more body in the field of corpses he now sat amongst.

However, the sword never hit its intended target.

Clockwork blinked, but the horrific image did not change. His eyes widened, tears streamed down his face, his throat ached as his mouth hung open, but no sound left it.

A very familiar figure stood on his hind legs, forelegs spread out wide to protect his best friend. He had taken the full force of the attack, and an all too familiar red fluid began to flow from the gash in his chest that Clockwork could not see but knew was there.

Moppet looked over his shoulder the best he could. In his eyes shown no fear, no sadness, no worry. There was only a perfect, beautiful light that Clockwork could not name, nor would he be able to for the rest of his days. Moppet’s all but trademarked smile graced his lips for the last time, and his body collapsed to the ground.

Clockwork’s vision turned red, and a horrible, anguished wail filled his ears, much like the tormented screams of the inmates of the deepest pits of Tartarus. Only later would the pegasus come to realize that it was the sound of his own screaming. In an instant, he saw every detail, every move, every second of what was about to happen. He charged.

Axel, the brutish, sadistic commander of the Seventh Imperial Legion, grinned. There was no kindness in his smile, no heart or warmth, only the bloody glee of a killer about to take his next life. With deliberate ease, he lifted his prized, bloodied blade, testing its edge with his talon while he watched the insane pony charge towards certain death.

Clockwork saw the griffon get ready, and he did not slow. Acting of their own accord, his forehooves scooped up the E-1 Grand of a fallen town guard, its previous owner staring up at the battle raging overhead with unseeing eyes. With sure, practiced motions, Clockwork checked that the weapon was primed and loaded. Miraculously, it was.

Axel’s grin turned absolutely vicious as the pegasus pony approached. He was almost in range, almost at the end of the line.

Right. . .

About . . .


The giant griffon stepped forward, and his paw slipped in Moppet's rapidly pooling blood. The swing went wide and missed the pegasus by a hair’s margin.

With a scream fit to shake the heavens, Clockwork charged beneath the gleaming, scarlet dripping steel of the griffon’s deadly sword, heedless of how very close he had come to death. Furious strength burst through his limbs, liquid power coursed through every vein, and with an almighty heave, he plunged the sharpened end of the equestrian bayonet straight into the demon’s black heart. Tempered steel plunged through cloth and flesh like a scalding knife through butter.

Blood pooled in the back of Axel’s mouth, its sharp, metallic tang coating his tongue. He stared down at the pony who had killed him, not quite comprehending what it was he saw. Coughing blood and bile, his legendary strength already beginning to fade, he raised his blade for a final strike. With the last of his power he stabbed at his enemy, at the enemy of all griffonkind. That was when Clockwork found the trigger, and emptied the clip.

Crimson mist, bone, and organ repeatedly sprayed from the monster’s back, and with a final gasp of air, he slid backwards, off of the instrument of his undoing, to topple to the blood-soaked dirt below. It felt like almost a thousand years before he landed. The earth seemed to shatter under the weight of the fallen beast.

Clockwork went numb, the now-empty rifle slid from his grasp as he fell to his knees. Above and around him the battle raged, the sound returning to its deafeningly full and merciless volume. Pony fought against griffon, foals screamed for their mothers, mothers screamed for their husbands, and the dead remained silent amidst the groans of the dying. Far in the background, a massive airship fell in slow motion, wreathed in orange flames and singing its death cry. Clockwork never bothered to learn whether it was one of the Federation’s or the Empire’s, all he could see were the lifeless eyes of his friend staring back at him.

Without realizing that he was moving, the pegasus rose to his hooves and staggered to the mule’s side. He tried to lower himself gently, but he lost the strength and landed hard on his backside. He didn’t feel the pain of the fall, nor the hardness of the dirt, nor the warm blood in which he sat or the bruises on his flanks. He pulled Moppet close to him, clutching the colt’s head tightly to his chest. He thought if he just held on tight enough, he could feel a heartbeat, faint and distant but present all the same, just enough to let him know that his friend was still alive. Only silence greeted him. Silence and the cold of the grave as life spilt uncaring out into the street.

Clockwork wept. Angry, bitter tears at how the world had been robbed of its innocence. Of how the griffons could be so cruel as to wage a war in which foals died and friends lost each other. He wept for all the harshness of reality and the finality of death, and most of all, he wept for Charger, who did not yet know that a familiar, wonderful face would not be waiting to welcome her home.

Clockwork’s last memories of that day were of a vaguely familiar dark colored stallion as he reassured the pegasus that he was safe, that we would be alright, that all would be well.

He did not believe him.

Next Chapter: Bad Fall Estimated time remaining: 9 Hours, 42 Minutes
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