Rise of the Elements Part I: The Lost Element

by Radiant Dawn

First published

One wish, one night, and the entire world changed. Follow one man as he is given the chance of a lifetime.

One wish, one night, and the entire world changed. Follow one man as he is given the chance of a lifetime.

This is a harem fic, and is rated T for violence, use of alcohol, and suggestive sexual themes.

Please leave comments to let me know what you think.

*This is a rewrite of my own story from fanfiction.net. Yes...it is me. This version will be edited and will be a much better read than the original, with part two to follow afterwards.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters associated directly with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, nor the original story. Any and all original characters are owned by their respective creators.

A/N: A note to my readers: this is technically a harem fic, but there will be NO lemons in it. The story will instead focus on the connections the characters share, as well as some other things later that I will leave to you to discover.

Cover art is thanks to WhatTheScoots, used with full permission.

A Brave New World

Chapter 1: A Brave New World

My name is Drew. I'm a 25 year old college student working and living at home. I'm not tall, only being about six foot, while my younger brother somehow got to 6' 7".

"Little" brother...yeah...right.

I have dark brown hair which I always kept short because I'm too lazy to do anything with it in the mornings. However I'm always told my eyes are the most interesting physical trait about me: brown and green. Both eyes are the same, but each iris is brown in the middle with a sunburst pattern, with a faded green on the outside. Doctors had said it's part of my condition...something to do with increased light sensitivity. Good news, I can see well in the dark. Bad news, bright lights make my head hurt in the same way your eyes burn when you first wake up in the morning and turn on a bright light. I always got teased for it in high school. Looking back I'm not sure how you could come up with a legitimate insult for eyes like mine, but being an angsty teenager at the time, my feelings got hurt easily.

Having few friends, I always made sure to be close and loyal to the ones that I had, and it always paid off. My friends would do anything for me, and I for them. Keeping only two friends from my high school years, we're now as close as my own family, and so I consider them as such. Through many hardships I've been through with them - both family and friends - I became fiercely protective of them.

I awoke from a deep sleep with a start, quickly checking to make sure I was indeed still in my bed and unharmed. I then tiptoed over to my sister's room to check on her...a growing feeling of dread building as I heard no sound from the room before me. As I ever so slowly cracked the door, I peered in the dark room searching for my piece of mind. Relief washed over me when I saw her figure on the bed before me, soft breathing signaling that she was asleep. I walked over to her bedside, looking at her face. A smile crept onto my face and I leaned in to kiss her forehead before closing the door and crossing the hallway back to my room.

Upon entering my room, I quickly glanced at the clock. 'Damn...two thirty? Why God, why?' I figured that at this point sleep would be impossible, so I grabbed my phone and began to browse a fan-fiction site for some good stories to read until it was time to get up.

Unfortunately, none of this was an uncommon thing for me. Beginning at a young age, I began to have vivid dreams of...things. Terrible things...horrible things that I fear may have driven me a bit insane. Dreams of death...of loss...of war. Though the frightened feeling I felt when awakened in such a way never waned, I had tempered my resolve not to wake up screaming every time it happened.

Needless to say, my family preferred it this way.

As I browsed the fan-fiction site I'd found a couple of months ago, I was yet again drawn to the My Little Pony section. I had watched the show for the first time months ago, curious as to what all the hype was about. Thinking it would be another boring kiddie show, I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself drawn into the story. The characters were well made, and while it's obvious this program was made to be marketed to young girls, I began to realize what all the "bronies" were on about. While I'd never consider myself a "brony", I could honestly admit to myself that I enjoyed the show, and often found myself waiting for the next installment with excitement. Shortly after finding out about the fan-fiction stories, I often found myself enthralled and often daydreaming about how awesome it would be to actually meet and make friends with these characters. I would often catch myself standing in the rain on cloudy nights, just staring at the moon...a little fantasy playing in my head.

This night however, would be different.

It was about 5:00pm and I had just arrived home from work. I did my usual routine of greeting and feeding my dogs and cleaning up myself and changing. I gave a strong hug to my sister telling her I loved her and thought I'd take a walk up the street, seeing as how such a nice day should not be wasted. A "nice day" to me being overcast and cool with a light autumn drizzle. I decided I'd walk into town and say hello to the neighbors for a change.

By the time I made it back home, my mother had arrived home from errands and the sun was just beginning to touch the horizon, causing the beautiful reds, oranges, and purples of dusk to appear. I marveled at just how beautiful it was. It truly is the simple things in life that are important. Almost without thinking, I whispered, 'Thank you Celestia' to the evening. At that moment, the first star of the night became visible overhead next to the crescent moon, as the cool air of the early evening cleared the clouds away. It twinkled, almost as if winking at me, and I chuckled at the prospect. 'Don't worry Luna, I haven't forgotten about you. Thank you for the beautiful night that I love so much. I wish I could meet you and your sister to tell you in person how much I love what you do.' I thought. I walked back inside my home, not noticing that same star suddenly flashing very bright, before waning back to its original luminescence.

After showering and getting ready for bed, I found myself wide awake and unable to sleep. So, I simply sat in the window nook next to my bed and stared at the night sky. I soon found my mind going back to a fairly new yearning within my heart, and I smiled as I thought of the little ponies I cared about, though I would never get to meet them. My momentary waking dream was interrupted as I felt - rather than heard - something in my room. Never having been a paranoid guy, I suddenly found myself intrigued rather than scared, and I scanned the room for anything out of the ordinary. Being a night owl, I often would be awake at the later hours, so I knew my room well. My eyes settled on a shadow in the corner of my room that shouldn't be there. Always one to play on the possibility of freaking out someone who thinks they're being sneaky, I simply said, "I know you're there, I can see you." Not really expecting anyone to respond, I just turned back to the window and gazed at the stars. I then heard shuffling from behind me, and felt the presence standing behind me. Thinking it was my sister I said, "Hey Jen. What's the matter, you can't sleep either?"

Silence followed before she said, "Why wouldst we sleep when the night is our domain?"

...that voice...

While definitely female, that wasn't my sister...

I slowly turned to find myself staring at a dark blue face with bright blue eyes. It was staring at me incredulously, as if questioning how to handle the situation. I scooted back against the window in sudden panic...fear was not something I felt often anymore.

"Be not afraid, We do not intend to harm you." she stated plainly.

I relaxed a little, though still gazed at the creature with wary eyes. The last of the clouds cleared away from the moon in the sky, allowing me to see in detail the one who stood before me. She was a horse-like creature with dark blue fur and and a flowing mane and tail of lighter blue, which seemed to shimmer when it moved. She had a spiraled horn on her forehead, and I saw wings carefully folded along her sides.

'Dear God...I've finally lost it.' I thought to myself.

At this point I assumed I was already insane, so I figured what the hell...I'll go with it. I stood up in front of her noticing that she was nearly as tall as me, not including the horn. I dropped to a knee and bowed my head in reverence. "Princess Luna, it is a pleasure." I greeted before standing again.

The lunar goddess raised an eyebrow at me in confusion for a moment before speaking. "You know me?"

I responded in a non-threatening tone, "In a way, yes. I must say, however, I never expected to actually meet you in person. Er, in pony? Whatever...you know what I'm trying to say."

Her confusion suddenly subsided and she giggled. I was pleased she decided to drop the formal act, as I was never one for formalities. "It brings me joy that you would speak to me as you are. So many of my subjects are so afraid of me that often they will not meet my eyes, much less speak to me. What made you choose to converse with me in such a way? While I will not say your assumption was incorrect, most would use speech with formalities and apologies so as not to incur my perceived wrath."

I snorted with a grin. "You're meeting me - a stranger - face-to-face in my bedroom. I think formality has gone out the window, so-to-speak."

She suddenly blushed furiously. "O-oh, I apologize for intruding in your private chambers. It was not decent of me to do so..." She suddenly found the floor very interesting. I smiled a warm smile. 'Oh yeah...so much cuter in real life.'

I softly placed a finger on her chin, moving her head up to meet my eyes again. Her eyes darted around in embarrassment. "Princess, look at me please." She still would not meet my eyes. I decided to be a little more assertive. "Luna...look at me." She finally gazed into my eyes again, a blush still kissing her cheeks. "You didn't do anything wrong. I did say I wanted to meet you after all. In all honesty, I never thought I would actually meet you, so I'm honestly too happy to let a little thing like a minor invasion of privacy bother me." She accepted this, the blush disappearing and she physically relaxed again.

For the rest of the night we spoke of a great many things. Seeing as how I already knew a bit about her, most of the conversations were her asking questions about me and my life, while I attempted to explain in terms she would understand easily. While definitely not stupid, my world was much different than hers. Something so simple as a car was a foreign concept to her. As the night wore on and the first hints of light began to kiss the horizon, I suddenly felt a little depressed when I saw it.

She noticed this and became concerned. "What is wrong, Drew? You seem rather...down suddenly." she inquired.

I sighed softly and turned to her. "It's just that I know you can't stay here, you'll have to get back to your world. I just worry that when I wake up, this will have all been a vivid dream, and it never actually happened." I was crestfallen, and she noticed.

She smirked a bit before replying, "Well, I did not come here simply to thank you for your revelry in my beautiful night. I came here with a personal invitation. Would you like to guess what I am referring to?"

I stared with mouth ajar...awestruck. Here was a royal princess - nay, a goddess - asking if I wanted to come with her to a world of my dreams, or at least I hoped so. My mind began racing so fast and then stopped on one thing: my family. I can't just leave them. I let out a shaky, pained breath before responding with a simple, "I can't leave."

She looked at me in disbelief and...sadness? "W-why not? I thought you wanted this!" She almost yelled.

I shushed her, remembering my sleeping family. "I'm sorry Luna, I can't leave my family. Imagine the love you have for your sister. Now imagine being asked to leave her forever. I know you couldn't do that...and I can't do that either. I'm sorry. I want this, really I do...but my family comes first." Her expression immediately changed from hurt to a gentle smile. I stared at her confused. "What?"

She simply giggled and shook her head. "Well I could never ask you to do that. That is why they will be coming with you."

Jaw, meet floor...floor, meet jaw. Here's a ball. Play nice.

After what felt like an eternity, I realized she was waiting for my answer, so I quickly composed myself and noticed she was barely containing a laugh. I looked down and noticed I had been drooling a little. I huffed and said, "Har har har, very funny. I'm completely caught off guard with that, don't judge me." Before I could make my decision, something was bothering me that I had to address. "Why me? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only human in a world of six billion people that enjoys your night...nor the only one that enjoys it and knows about you. That and the fact that myself - not to mention my family - are strangers. Why and how are you so trusting that we won't hurt you or the other ponies or something?"

She smiled again, the warmth from it instantly calming me. "I and my sister chose you because of the strong compassion, love, and loyalty that you show to your family and friends. Yes...Tia knows about you as well, and this was a joint decision between us. The way you treat your family and friends is something we value and encourage in our land...and you also have other qualities that we may need to call upon, as does your family. While it is true this is the first time we have spoken, you are no stranger. Being on the moon for a millennia may have left me with stunted understanding of the modern world, but make no mistake...I am no fool. I have watched you and your family from afar, and my sister has as well. We know that while you make mistakes, you do not have malicious intent. Besides, being as we are, what makes you think that my sister and I could not deal with any of you should you pose a problem?"

I mulled this over and nodded. "Okay, point taken. I have to say though, I don't know how my family would react to such a change. My sister would probably love it, my mom would warm up to it eventually...but my brother...I'm not sure of. If you've watched us I'm sure you're aware of his...tendencies towards females as well as his pent up anger and resentment for the only father he's ever known just walking out on him. I'd want him there with me, as I trust him and he's changed a lot over the years...but still. I just don't know."

She smiled that same smile that I've grown to like. Must be magic. "I understand your concerns and I am confident that you will watch out for him and ease him into the new life. As you are aware, I know the damage anger and hatred can do to one's soul. I also know however that your world is partly to blame for this. Your world is...corrupt."

Well...can't argue with that. "Well then, I guess that's pretty much everything. When do we leave?"

She bounced in excitement at my acceptance of her offer. "Well, we are able to leave immediately if you are ready. I would change your physical form to something more...suited to our world though, if you do not mind."

I was never more ready for this than now. "Sounds good Luna, although we might want to give a day or two for my family to adjust and let me explain what's going on before they get 'changed'. Yet again, the whole unknown reaction thing comes into play. I wouldn't want to wake up in a body I didn't go to sleep with and have no idea what happened or why. The shock of waking up in a different world will be enough to deal with for now."

She nodded. "Very well. I am sure you know of my friend Twilight Sparkle. They can stay with her in her library while they adjust. I will send a letter to her before we leave explaining the situation. I am sure she will be glad to help."

I nodded back. "Okay. Well since I'll not have fingers anymore, or need to wear clothes, I guess I'll just pack some clothes for my family."

She waved a hoof dismissively. "Already taken care of." I stared at her with a 'how?' face on. She leans in close and whispers, "Magic..." I decide not to question further.

I suddenly became a little sad. "Hmm...it's too bad. I would've loved to bring my guitars and mp3 player...but I guess without fingers I won't really be able to use them anymore. I really wanted to show everyone my music."

She smiled again. 'Ugh, that damn smile.' "Do not worry, you will still be able to use them. You may bring them if you wish." I was beaming. Vinyl Scratch is going to have fun with this music.

Luna and I spent the next hour of remaining night getting my things ready to go. I was shaking with anticipation, but wanted to be sure I had everything I might need. When I was ready, I signaled Luna to come close. She followed me downstairs, somehow her hooves not making any noise on the wooden stairs. She'll have to teach me how to do that sometime. I gathered my belongings and nodded at the navy-blue pony. "Okay Luna, I think we're all set. Ready when you are."

She nodded and I watched as a dark blue aura emanated from her horn, surrounding me. It tingled a little and I felt the need to scratch my arms. The next thing I knew there was a bright flash and I blacked out.


Chapter 2: Gently

'Ugh, my friggin head...' I thought as I began to awaken. As my head began to clear a bit, I could hear voices...voices I recognized.

"...I don't know, Twi. I don't trust him."

"Spike, Princess Luna asked us to watch over him until he woke up. You know as well as I do that she would not have brought him here if she thought he was dangerous."

"Yeah, but I still don't know. There's just something about this guy that bugs me."

"Spike, you say that about every new stallion you meet. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous."

"W-what? I'm n-not jealous!"

I smiled a bit, deciding to dump my feigned sleep.

"Your lips say no, your behavior says yes." I stated while standing. This startled the small dragon, making him jump as high as he was tall. I chuckled a bit before falling flat on my face, causing the purple dragon to go into hysterics. "Okay fine...I deserve that. Laugh it up." 'What's wrong with my feet? Oh wait...hooves. Oh yeah.' I tried to stand again, more slowly this time and on four feet not two. Needless to say I was more successful. "This is going to take some getting used to. Hey, do you have a book that can teach me how to walk or something?" I said to Twilight. I decided not to call her by name, as I didn't know how much Luna had told her.

Twilight blinked before walking to the bookshelves. "Umm, yeah. One moment." As she made her way through the different tomes, she added, "I guess it must be a big change for you, going from two feet to four hooves." 'Okay good, it seems Luna at least told her what I used to be. Saves me a lot of explaining.' Spike continued to stare me down, but Twilight noticed this and saved me from the awkwardness. "Spike, could you please go prepare us some tea?" The baby dragon huffed a bit, but complied as he walked to the kitchen. I looked at Twilight and mouthed a thank you when he left.

"What's his problem?" I asked once Spike was out of earshot.

"I'm not really sure. Just give him some time though. Being the only male around here that knows all my friends, he can get a little...protective." Twilight announced. She made sure Spike heard.

I raised my eyebrow and asked, "Well I don't look dangerous or anything, do I?"

"The mirror's over here in the washroom. See for yourself." She said.
I walked as carefully as I could to where she gestured, counting a '1, 2, 3, 4...' rhythm in my head in an attempt to avoid falling again. Slowly but surely, I made it to the small room in the hallway. I took a look at myself for the first time in the mirror, and was a little taken aback at what I saw. My fur was a silver color and very shiny, almost like metal. My mane was a stark white, with streaks of silver running down either side with a tail to match. My eyes looked roughly the same, though my pupils were much larger than before. What really surprised me was that I had a horn on my head. 'Sweet, I'm a unicorn!' Something was a bit off though...why was I so big? I was about the same height as Luna was, I think...but I towered over Twilight and Spike. 'I don't remember anyone except Big Mac being so tall. Oh well...I was a different species at one point, so I guess that must be it. I guess...'

"So what do you think?" Twilight said from behind me.

She startled me and I jumped up in the air, something lashing out and hitting the walls on either side of me. 'What the hell was th- no way...' I looked on either side of me, and sure enough there was a massive wing on each side...the color matching my coat with a white stripe coloring the feathers along the outside edge.

"You're...you're an alicorn!" said Twilight...taking the words out of my mouth.

I turned around to her in confusion and said, "I'm surprised, but didn't you see my wings before? I was just kinda laying on the ground for God...erm...Celestia knows how long before waking up."

She shook her head. "I don't remember seeing any wings. Hmm...if you can, fold your wings up against your body."

Being not really sure how to do it, I tried to feel for new muscles I wouldn't be used to, and luckily they were easy to feel in my back. I contracted them with some effort and the wings lay down at my sides...and then disappeared. "Woah...what the hell happened to my wings?" Twilight glared at me. "Let me guess...language?" She nodded. I sighed and lowered my head. "Sorry, Twilight Sparkle."

"Don't worry about it," she said with a smile, "I know you come from a different world and it's safe to assume the way of speaking there compared to here is different. Just try and keep things under control please. Ponies don't use strong words like that very often, if at all. Also, please just call me Twilight. When you say my full name, I start looking around for my dad thinking I'm in trouble." I chuckled a bit at this, surprised that she seemed to have a sense of humor. Guess the tv show didn't show everything. She pondered a moment, then seemed to have an epiphany. "I think I know why your wings disappear when you fold them up. It seems Princess Luna put an enchantment on them to disappear whenever they're folded up. My guess being it's easier to explain a big unicorn than an alicorn being in Ponyville. Ponies like the princesses aren’t exactly common."

Makes sense. All the same, I was still excited that Luna decided to make me the same type of pony she and her sister were. She must really trust me to do that. I felt a little flattered at this, and thought of how nice she was. 'She was pretty too...mmm...wait what? Where did that come from?'


Suddenly my wings were stretched out wide and quivering a bit...I had read enough fanfics to know what this was. 'Great...it's like middle school all over again.' I looked over and found Twilight blushing. Seems she knows what it is too...great. 'She probably thinks I'm a perv now. Smooth move, dude.'

Twilight just giggled a bit. "You need to flap them a bit to loosen the muscles up, then it'll stop."

I looked at her in confusion for a moment. "Umm Twilight, I'm not sure how to do that. New body, remember?"

She nodded then smiled softly. "Feel around for the strongest muscles in your back. Those will be your flight muscles. Rainbow Dash can teach you more about how to use them. For now, just find the muscles and try and move them. You probably can't fly yet without some practice, but you'll be able to move them enough to get your little...problem under control."

I sighed in annoyance but did as I was told. I found the muscles she was talking about after a few minutes of feeling, and worked them a bit. Luckily, it worked and my wings were relaxed again. Now I didn't feel like a complete jackass. I looked up at the violet unicorn and smiled. "Thanks Twi...you're a lifesaver."

She smiled and nodded, then went back to her books.

Spike entered the room a second later with the tea that I had completely forgotten about. I took it gratefully from Spike with a 'thank you', trying my best to befriend the little guy. He rolled his eyes, but nodded and brought Twilight her tea.

"Hey Spike, guess what?" I said with a smile. He turned towards me in time to see me stretch my wings to their full length.

His jaw dropped and he started stuttering. "Y-y-you're an a-a-a-alicorn?" I nodded. He just stood there, dumbstruck.

"Yeah, I have the lovely Princess Luna to thank for this." I responded with a grin.

The dragon begins shaking his head and replies, "Wait, wait, wait...so let me get this straight: Princess Luna comes to you - a complete stranger and an alien - and asks if you want to come to our world. Not only that, she makes you one of the most powerful beings to have ever lived? HAS SHE COMPLETELY LOST IT?"

I grin while looking behind Spike at the figure that just walked in the door. "Maybe you should ask her yourself, Spike." I then nodded towards the door behind him.

Spike winces as if he'd been physically struck on the back of the head. He slowly turns to face Luna as she looks at him with a face of mock fury. He trembles in fear before dashing past me and hiding underneath Twilight's reading table.

Twilight, finally broken out of her trance-like state while reading glares at the small dragon. "Ugh, Spike, what's the matter with yo-" but stops as she looks at the door. She smiles warmly at the welcome guest. "Oh hello, Luna. I'm so glad you're back.” She then pointed at me. “I know he missed you. He missed you a lot." 'Ooh...I am so going to get you back for this...'

Luna's face instantly changed to one of happiness as she gazed at me, seemingly pleased with my appearance. "Well, that turned out much better than I could have hoped. It appears you have adjusted decently to your new body."

Luna seemed deep in thought so I decided to get her attention quite possibly the dumbest way possible. I started singing "I'm too Sexy" while standing on my hind legs and running my hooves over myself in a silly manner. She stared at me for a second before blushing profusely and then...


Luna's wings were now completely stiff.

"Haha! I win!" I shouted.

Twilight fell out of her chair laughing and Spike, now no longer scared, joined her.

Luna was mortified, her face coloring an even darker shade of reddish blue. She stammered out, "S-s-silence! It is not that funny!"

I got up right in front of her face and whispered, "Oh yes...yes it is."

She blushed even harder...I didn't know it was possible, but she did. I then noticed she was on the verge of tears, the hazing apparently getting to her. 'Oh no...I didn't want this to happen. I'd forgotten how sensitive she can be.' I walked right up next to her and gently placed a foreleg around her in a gentle half-hug. She tensed a bit, but then sighed and leaned into it, her wings starting to relax.

I looked at Twilight and Spike, who were catching their breath from the laughing. "Alright you two, that's enough. We've had our fun." Then I turned to Luna. "Don't worry Luna, the same thing happened to me not thirty minutes ago. Twilight laughed at me as well, so it's all in good fun."

Luna relaxed a bit at this, and then started to giggle. "Aww...I missed your first wing-stiff? I feel like I missed out a party!"

I decided to push a little at this point and whispered in her ear, "Care to guess who it was that made it happen?"

She acted offended, switching to her old archaic style of speaking, though I could tell she was being playful. "Thou art filthy-minded, young one. Thou art to wash thine mouth with soap."

"Ugh...you make me feel like a little kid when you talk like that. I feel like I'm talking to my mom or something...minus all the 'thees' and 'thous'." I replied with a sigh.

The blue alicorn smiled at me, which instantly lifted my mood. 'God, I love that smile' "Come now, it was a jest. Surely you did not think I was serious?"

I shook my head. "Luna my family is one of the most joking and sarcastic bunch you'll ever meet. Trust me...I can take a joke just fine. You better be ready at any time to get a joke or prank played on you though.” I then frowned in realization and asked, “Speaking of my family, where are they? I thought they were coming with us."

Luna simply nodded. "Yes they have come with you. As a matter of fact, they are upstairs sleeping at the moment."

I glanced at the clock. "Wow...2:00pm? Must be nice to sleep in that long."

Luna giggled a bit before motioning up the stairwell. "Well...would you like to go see them?"

I contemplated exactly how I was going to do this. Though my voice was the same, a talking alicorn with their brother/son's voice was not going to go smooth. I had an idea suddenly, and prayed to Celestia it would work.

"Alright here's what we're gonna do. Twilight?” I started, and the unicorn looked at me, “ I need you to barricade the window in that room. Or if you have magic that can make it strong enough to where it couldn't be broken out of, do that. Second, we need to lock the door to the room magically so it can't be opened until we're ready. I have an idea on how to do this, but you have to trust me. Above all else, do not say anything until or unless I ask you to. They're already going to freak out a bit...I'd like to keep the freaking to a minimum.” Twilight cast a barrier spell on the window, effectively making in indestructible, and Luna locked the door. 'Hope this works...' I then took a deep breath and knocked loudly on the door to the room. 'No response...' I banged on the door louder. This time, I heard stirring from within the room, along with a few confused responses. My mom's voice sounded a little nervous, but luckily she seemed to be holding.

'*sigh* here goes...' "Mom?" I called out.

"Drew? Where are you? Where are we?"

"You're safe, I promise. I need you to listen to me now."

"Drew? Why is the door locked? Open this door and let us out."

"I will in a minute mom, I need you to trust me please."

"Umm...alright. What's going on?"

"I'm trying to get to that. I'm going to warn you ahead of time...the next few hours are going to be hard...and all of you are going to freak out and/or have a mental breakdown...just bare with me though, I'm here for you guys, I promise."

"I-I don't understand...what's going on? I don't recognize this room...are we even in our house?"

'*sigh*' "I don't really know how else to say this so I'm just gonna say it...we're not on Earth anymore. I'm not even sure we're in the same universe."

"...What? What are you talking about? If you're trying to keep us from freaking out this isn't helping."

I looked at Luna and nodded. "Mom, I'm coming in now. I'm going to warn you ahead of time...I look really different, but I'm still me. Please just trust me. No one is going to hurt you, I promise."

Luna undid the lock and the door clicked and swung open slightly. I nudged the door open and stepped in. My mother and sister stared at me wide-eyed in shock, and my brother stood in front of them in a fighting stance. I stopped about five feet away from them and sat down, lowering my head a bit.

My mother then shouted out the doorway, "Andrew? I thought you were coming in. Why did you send this...unicorn?" She stammered as she realized what I was...or at least half of what I was.

I simply looked up at my brother sadly. He stared at me for a moment before making contact with my eyes, then backed off, leaning against the wall behind him. My mother stared at him, as did my sister, with confused and worried expressions on their faces. I looked to my brother. He crossed his arms and nodded.

'Moment of truth' I sighed, then looked at the two human females with as warm of an expression I could manage. "Hi mom."

My mother's jaw would've dropped on the ground had it not been attached to her head. My sister shared a similar expression, though I could tell she was more curious than scared. Mother stood rigid for a good ten minutes before speaking. "My God...what's happened to you?"

I sighed. As bad as it sounds, thankfully she accepts this is me. This was actually going smoother than I thought it would. I raised my head to look at her and shrugged. "I've been changed to suit this world. Take a look out that window over there." I then pointed towards the closed window. All three humans slowly walked over to the window, not taking their eyes off me until they got there. When they looked, their eyes got even wider. All I could think was, 'Man, they’re gonna need some Visine after this.'

The adult woman then looked back to me, then back out the window, then back to me. "Where are we, Andrew?"

"Equestria." My brother stated. The two female humans both looked at him with eyes pleading for an answer. "It's a fictional world created as a TV show in our world. Well...our old world. Because of all the posts that 'bronies' make on the different sites I visit, I'm more familiar with it than I'd like to be. Still, there's no mistake about it...we're in Equestria. The show it's from is called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic."

The other two stared at him like he was crazy.

I sighed, then turned my head back before calling for Luna and Twilight to enter. Luckily my family didn't seem as surprised to see the unicorn and alicorn enter...seeing as how meeting me had been the majority of the shock. That being the case, I introduced them. "Mom, Jennie, Mason, this is Twilight Sparkle: local librarian, and personal student to the co-monarch Princess Celestia."

Twilight stepped forward slowly and bowed her head slightly. "It's a pleasure to meet you all."

"And this," I gestured to Luna, "is Princess Luna: co-monarch of Equestria, goddess and ruler of the night, moon, and stars."

Luna stepped forward slowly, before surprising me and bowing to my family. "How do you do. I am Princess Luna, but no formality needed. You may simply refer to me as Luna. I understand you all have a great many questions for us all, and we will answer them all in due time, I promise. For now, we need to find you all something to eat, and then you must rest. We will speak again in the morning."

Luna and Twilight left the room, just leaving me with my family. They all stared at me, taking everything in.

My sister was the first to speak. "So...what's it like? Being a unicorn with wings?"

I stretched the wings a bit as I chuckled. Thankfully her curiosity overrules her fear. "Well it's pretty cool actually. The correct term is alicorn though. I can use magic once I train in it, and I can fly once I learn how as well. Walking was a challenge...I fell flat on my face my first try."

My family laughed at this. 'Laughing...laughter is always a good sign.'

"I never really figured you for a brony, man." my brother said with a smirk.

"Meh...I can't really consider myself a brony. I'm not all obsessed over the thing. I do have to admit though, this world is a lot better than ours, so I'm not ashamed to say I'm glad that my 'guilty pleasure' actually went somewhere."

My mother was silent for awhile, but when she finally spoke, her voice was so low it was almost a whisper. "So why are we here?"

I knew this was coming...there would be no easy way to break this. I know I made the right choice bringing them all here. Here we can have a life much better than in our world. However, my self-guilt of making such a large decision on something that affects all four of us made me start to doubt myself. 'No, don't think like that...you made the right decision. You know this. Don't fall apart...you got this.' I sighed softly before explaining everything: my first meeting with Luna in detail, as well as my decision to turn her offer down on account of my family and devotion to them.

When I finished my little story, they all just stared at me.

Surprisingly, my mother spoke first after glancing out the window and around the room again. "So you were ready to give this all up...for us?"

I shook my head. "I can't give up what I never had, but I was ready to turn it down without a second thought. My exact words to Luna were, ‘My family comes first...” and that because of that I couldn't go. She then told me that she intended on bringing us all.” I then took a serious demeanor as I leveled my gaze with the three humans. “We can have such a better life here that would never be available to us on Earth. We deserve this...we've been through enough of the hard stuff. Time for a reward." My mother nodded her head, agreeing. 'Thank God for that.' "There is a catch though..." At these words, they all looked at me again. "I don't want any of you to go back to Earth. I want you here with me for a second chance and actual happiness." They all nodded. "However, in order to stay here, you will have to give up your human body. That's why I look like this now. I've already decided to stay. Now I want you to stay with me, but as I said, you'll no longer be a human. Luna and/or Princess Celestia will help you get a new form. I know it's a big decision, so don't make it right now. Take a day or two and think about it...I mean really think about it." They all nodded so I stood and walked towards the door. I stopped in the doorway and turned back to face them before exiting though. "I love you all, so much. You guys mean everything to me. I want us to be happy and together."

I arrived downstairs to see Twilight, Luna, and Spike all talking at the reading table. As soon as they saw me, they all fell silent.

Luna slowly walked up to me, gazing at me for a moment before throwing her forelegs around my neck and embracing me in a hug.

I was a little surprised at first, but then I stood up on my hind legs and returned the hug. "Thank you Luna...thank you for all of this. I will thank Celestia myself when I get the chance, but for now...thank you so much Luna." Without thinking, I kissed her softly on the cheek. She looked at me with a huge blush on her face, and then nuzzled into my neck. 'Phew...that could've been bad. Dammit Drew, you need to start thinking before doing shit.' After a minute or so more, Luna released the embrace and I walked over to Twilight and bowed before her. She looked at me quizzically. "Thank you so much Twilight for taking my family into your home. I know Luna asked you to, but still...thank you. You have my gratitude, and if you'll have me, my friendship." Twilight smiled before getting up from her table and also embracing me. I hugged her back and nuzzled her mane, to which she giggled. I broke away and mouthed one last 'Thank you' before turning away.

Damn...today was intense...

New Greetings

Chapter 3: New Greetings

After explaining everything to my family, I bid farewell to Luna, as she had to head back to her palace for royal duties. Twilight nudged me towards the front door and told me to go meet the other ponies in town, promising to look after my family.

Deciding to make an attempt at friendship again, I turned to Spike, who had been cleaning up the library a bit. "Hey Spike, I'm going to take a walk around town. Want to join me?"

Spike seemed a bit reluctant while looking at Twilight. She simply nodded to him and he sighed. "Yeah sure. I guess I could use some fresh air." He grabbed a small saddlebag and headed out the door with me.

We wandered around town a bit and somehow ended up at a very lavish looking building that looked a bit like a carousel. 'This must be Rarity's place' Spike had a spring in his step as he realized where we were. I chuckled at this and knocked on the door. Suddenly a small white blur shot out of the door and rammed into my left foreleg. 'That's gonna bruise...' I nearly fell over from loss of balance, but luckily Spike stopped me from falling. He's pretty strong for such a small guy. I glanced back at my "attacker" and saw a small white unicorn.

"Hey Sweetie Belle, you okay?" Spike said in a concerned voice.

She sat on her haunches with her hooves on her head. "Ow...what did I run into?" She caught sight of me for a moment before turning to Spike. "Oh hey Spike. Who's your friend?"

The dragon rolled his eyes at the word "friend". Meh...it's better than outright hostility. "Sweetie Belle this is..." He then stopped and stared at me.

'Ah shit...I can't use my real name. Think...think! Aha!' "The name's Steelbreaker." I said, extending a hoof down to her.

The unicorn filly stared at my hoof before glancing up at me. She then gently grabbed my hoof with hers somehow and pulled herself up. 'No fingers...how did she do that? Must be magic or something...' She smiled cutely before doing a sort of curtsy. "Hi Steelbreaker, my name's Sweetie Belle. It's nice to meet you! Sorry but I gotta run. My friends are waiting for me at the clubhouse. Bye Steelbreaker, bye Spike!" With that she was off again.

I looked at Spike and he shrugged, so we turned and I knocked on the door to the boutique. A few moments later it opened revealing a bleach-white unicorn with violet hair.

Without looking up from a pad of paper she held, she greeted, "Good afternoon and welcome to the Carousel Boutique. Is there anything I can-" She stopped as she finally looked at me a small blush forming on her cheeks before immediately dissipating. "Why hello there, I don't believe we've met. I am Rarity, owner of the Carousel Boutique. Welcome!" she stated, smiling. Spike was visibly on edge.

I smiled in response to her salutation and bowed my head a bit. "Hello Miss Rarity, I'm Steelbreaker. It's a pleasure to meet you. You come with great recommendation from Twilight Sparkle."

The alabaster unicorn’s smile grew and she blushed a bit at the praise. "Ah, so you know Twilight Sparkle?"

I decided to play it safe and keep things simple. "Yes. I'm new to Ponyville and she's one of the first ponies I met here. Spike offered to give me a tour of the town since Twilight is busy."

She glanced at Spike for the first time. "Oh my little Spikey, I'm sorry. I didn't see you there." She gave him a kiss on the forehead and he blushed hotly. Rarity then gestured inside and we followed her, closing the door behind us. "So," she started "would you like some tea?"

I nodded as I took in the finely decorated interior. "That would be lovely. Thank you Rarity."

"My my, so polite. If only more colts had your manners." she quipped.

Spike looked a little mad at the compliment she gave me, so I leaned in close as she left the room. "Spike, she's not my type. Don't worry, I'm not going to try and steal her from you or anything." The little dragon relaxed and nodded at me, a smile on his face.


After some small talk and tea at Rarity's boutique, Spike and I left to wander the town a bit more. We walked towards the town square when a bright pink pony with fluffy pink hair approached.

Upon seeing me, she suddenly bolted towards me and Spike, a huge grin on her face. "HI! I'm Pinkie Pie! I've never seen you before, and I know everyone in Ponyville! *GASP* You must be new here! We need to-"

I stopped the incoming speed-rambling by placing a hoof on her mouth. "Yes Pinkie Pie, I'm new. You know what you should do? You should organize a PARTY!"

Her eyes lit up, and she dashed off, a small dust cloud in her wake.

Spike only shook his head. "Do you think that was a good idea? Her parties can get a little...crazy. It took me two days to get all the frosting cleaned up last time she had a party at the library."

I nudged him. "Ah, it'll be fine. Besides, you have to admit, she does know how to brighten any mood." Spike chuckled, but nodded.

The day was winding down, so we decided to meet one more pony before we called it a day. My guide told me I'd get a kick out of her, so I nodded and followed him to an open field with a few clouds overhead.

I looked around at the seemingly deserted area and asked, "Why are we here? You're not going to murder me or something, are you?"

Spike looked at me with confusion before bursting out laughing.

After a few minutes of laughter, he finally caught his breath and just shook his head at me. "Yeah...you and Pinkie will get along just fine."

I shrugged. "Okay, so why are we here?"

Spike pointed at a small cloud in the air, and I could see a bit of rainbow-patterned tail hanging off the end. Spike inhaled a big breath. "Rainbow Dash!" She didn't move. He rolled his eyes. "OH CELESTIA, IT'S THE WONDERBOLTS!" A rainbow-maned head popped up from the cloud, and the cyan pegasus fell off her cloud. I was afraid she'd get hurt, but she quickly righted herself in the air before gliding down to land in front of me and Spike.

She glared at him for a moment. "Haha, very funny Spike."

The small dragon shrugged. "Hey, it worked didn't it? I tried calling your name, but you didn't even move."

The pegasus nodded and turned her attention to me, confused. "Wow...you're tall." She then looked at the dragon again. "Spike, who's this?"

Spike nudged me, and I coughed before answering, "Oh, I'm Steelbreaker. I'm new here to Ponyville, so Spike was just giving me a short tour to meet a few of Twilight's friends. I heard you're pretty fast, Rainbow Dash."

Rainbow Dash just shook her head. "No, I'm not...I'm the fastest! Winner of the Best Young Flyer's award and future Wonderbolt. Not just anyone can pull off a Sonic Rainboom."

I chuckled. "Well normally pride like that can get annoying, but from what I've been told I think you can afford to be proud."

She blushed a little. 'Holy feather-fuck, Batman! Did the great Rainbow Dash just blush?' "Well thanks, Steel. It's hard work to be as good as I am. It's nice to know somepony can see that. It's too bad you're not a pegasus. It'd be fun to race you, I think!"

I shifted a bit uneasily. "Y-yeah...that's too bad. Well Rainbow Dash, it's getting a little late, so I think I'm going to call it a night."

She nodded. "Alright then, Steel. I'll see ya around then. Where are you staying?"

I nudged my head back towards town and answered, "Well, I'm staying with Twilight for the time being. Look me up there if you're in the area. I'll catch ya later, Dash."

The cyan pegasus nodded again. "Will do. Alright then, see you guys later. I recommend staying inside tomorrow though. The weather team has a thunderstorm planned."

I smiled back at her. "Okay, thanks for the heads-up Dash. See ya!"

When Spike and I finally reached the town, Celestia's sun had already gone down, along with the last bit of daylight. Luckily Luna's moon was bright in the sky and full, so we wouldn't have trouble finding our way back to the library.

"Thanks for the light Luna, I appreciate it." I said out loud.

Spike looked confused and asked, "Umm, Steel? Princess Luna's not here. Who are you talking to?"

I sighed as I looked towards the full moon. "Well, back in my world, I would thank Luna and Celestia for their work. Seems that they heard me, because they knew what I'd said one of those times, verbatim. It was the last time I thanked them before coming here that I'd wished to meet them face-to-face. Obviously, being here, I got my 'wish'. If they could hear me all the way from another dimension or universe, I'm pretty sure they can hear me on their own planet."

Spike scratched his chin before nodding. "Yeah, I guess that makes sense."

When we finally got back to the library, I saw that Twilight had fallen asleep waiting for us on the couch, as did my sister. I giggled (yes, I giggle...don't hate) and locked the door behind me while Spike grabbed a blanket to throw over them. After covering the girl and mare, the dragon brushed Twilight's mane out her eyes and kissed her on the cheek.

I did the same for my sister and smiled while I whispered,. "You're a good assistant Spike. Twilight's lucky to have you."

He smiled at me with a single nod of his head. "I'm not her number one assistant for nothing, you know...but thanks, I appreciate that." Spike then yawned loudly. "Hey Steel, I'm heading to bed unless you need anything."

I shook my head. "Nah, you've done enough Spike. Get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow morning." He nodded and headed off to Twilight's room to sleep.

I then headed up to the second level to check on my brother and mother, hoping that they were handling things okay.

As I entered the guest room, I could see my mother had already fallen asleep. My brother however was still awake, and he nodded at me as I walked in. I walked as softly as I could and sat down on the ground next to him.

"So," he started, "when do we get to actually go outside?"

I felt a little bad that they had to be stuck in here, but rules were rules. "Well, these ponies can't see you in your human form...it would cause too much commotion. The sooner you change, the sooner you can get out of here. Made your decision yet?"

He nodded slowly. "Yeah...I guess there's worse things I could be than a pony. It'll take some time to get over the cutsie-ness of this all, but I'll manage."

I tilted my head a bit to the side. "Well who says you have to be a pony? So long as it follows the constraints of this world, you can be pretty much whatever you want. Keep in mind though, different forms will make the people..erm, ponies treat you differently. I wouldn't recommend being a massive fire-breathing dragon for example."

He brightened up suddenly. "Well, what about a humanoid dragon? Same size as I am now, but a dragon. I could work with that."

I thought about it for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, that could work. You'd need to behave of course. Twilight's assistant Spike is a dragon, and the ponies seem to be fine around him. Twilight and I would vouch for you, as would Luna if she needed to."

He smiled. "Yeah...this'll be sweet. Maybe this won't be so cutsie after all."

I glared at him and cleared my throat. "Hey hey hey, no burninating the village. Remember, we're guests here. Luna trusts my judgment of you, so please don't prove me wrong in trusting you won't make an ass of yourself...and me."

He sighed and focused his gaze out the window. "Okay okay, I'll be good."

I smiled. "Thanks. So, what did mom have to say today?"

The tall ebony-skinned human stared at me for a second before answering. "I'm not gonna lie to you, she had a bit of a breakdown. Jen and I calmed her down though and I think she's come to terms with everything. She'll be okay."

I glanced over at the sleeping form in the bed. "Yeah...she'll be okay. She's not used to real happiness, not like what we have here anyway. In all honesty, neither am I. I have a feeling she's going to be suspicious for awhile, but she'll pull through.” I then looked up at the old-style clock on a desk and exhaled sleepily. “Alright then, it's about midnight. We should get some sleep. Big day tomorrow for you, Mr. Dragon."

My brother chuckled before climbing off the floor and onto his bed, which was a bit too small for him. He stared at his feet hanging off the bed and frowned. "Well shit...even here I'm too big for everything."

I chuckled softly before climbing into bed and relaxing. As I closed my eyes, I thought of Luna guiding me back to the library. 'Thank you Luna. Goodnight.'

I was a bit surprised and almost jumped out of my bed when a few seconds later, the familiar voice of Luna spoke back in my mind. 'You have not trained in any magic, yet already you can speak to me telepathically. I am impressed. Well, we will speak more of this the next time I visit. Goodnight Drew. Sleep well.'

When she said that, I could have swore I almost felt her blushing. I chuckled a bit before closing my eyes again and drifting off to my first peaceful sleep in years.

Apples, Butterflies, and Alcohol

Chapter 4: Apples, Butterflies, and Alcohol

I awoke feeling more refreshed than I had in...well, longer than I can remember. Next, I felt a pressure on my chest and looked down to see my sister snuggling against me. I chuckled at the sight, and my sister stirred and opened her eyes.

"What?" she says defensively.

I just laughed again and shook my head. "Oh nothing."

She stuck out her bottom lip, pouting. "I woke up at around 01:00. That couch was not as comfortable as a bed, and when I came upstairs to lay down in my bed, you were in it. So, I shared it with you. You're really soft now, so don't judge me horse-boy."

I glanced over at the two empty beds in the room. "Do you know where mom and Mason are?"

The young teenage girl nodded. "Yeah, they went downstairs with Twilight Sparkle for breakfast about an hour ago. I was too lazy to get up, so I just stayed here."

I laughed again. "Alright then, well my tummy's got the rumblies, so let's get cleaned up and join them."

It took awhile to figure out how to use my mouth and hooves for things I would usually use my hands for.

I was a little surprised when I found that there was some sort of sticky "field" that allowed me to grab things with my front hooves. 'There's so much stuff going on here that I can't explain. Oh well...different universe, different physics and laws of reality, I suppose.'

After taking quick showers and brushing our teeth, Jen and I went downstairs to find Twilight speaking with my mother, and my brother and Spike playing a card game of some sort. They all looked up as Jen and I came downstairs, and Twilight pointed to the kitchen.

"There's strawberries, apples, and coffee in the kitchen for breakfast. Eat up, there's a lot to do today." the unicorn ordered.

I cocked my head in confusion. "What do you mean? What are we doing?"

Twilight got up and put a book away before looking at me again. "Well your brother told me that he's decided on what form he wants to take, so I'll need to contact one of the princesses. Meanwhile, you still need to meet Applejack and Fluttershy. Lastly, Rainbow Dash said she needs to see you about something. She said she'd meet you at Fluttershy's house at around 17:00."

I nodded. "Okay, did Dash say what she needed to see me about?" Twilight shook her head. "Okay then. Let me get breakfast and brush my mane really quick and I'll get going."

I headed to the kitchen and put a few apple slices and strawberries in a bowl with some milk from the fridge, then grabbed a cup of coffee. Carefully balancing on my back legs, I walked to the reading table and started eating.

My mother laughed at me. "That looks a lot harder to do now that you're a...what did you say...alicorn?"

I chuckled and nodded. "Yeah. Different spine and hip structure. I can certainly walk on two legs if I want to, but it's more comfortable on four."

She grinned. "I bet. I think I've decided to just be a regular old pony. No magic or flying for me, thanks."

I swallowed a bit of strawberry and answered, "Well earth ponies - as they're called - tend to be physically stronger than unicorns and pegasi, and have better endurance. Applejack is an earth pony, and she's an apple farmer. I've never run a farm before, but I imagine you have to be pretty strong to do that all day long."

My mother nodded back. "Mhm. I think I'll just keep things simple."

"Understandable..." I said as I took another bite of breakfast.

I quickly finished breakfast and made myself presentable before heading out. Seeing as how Applejack was closer and I was to meet Dash at Fluttershy's cottage anyway, I headed towards Sweet Apple Acres first. It took asking a few ponies for directions, but I made it there at about noon.

I could hear the furious cracks of hooves against wood before I even got close enough to see anypony, but as I approached, I saw a large crimson stallion plowing the fields. He spotted me and stopped, unhooking the plow harness from himself before walking over to meet me. Amazingly, I was actually bigger than him by a small margin. All the same, I still wouldn't want to get in a tussle with the guy.

"Howdy pardner, welcome ta Sweet Apple Acres. Name's Big Macintosh, but ya'll can call me Big Mac. What can Ah do ya fer?" he said while extending a hoof to shake.

I took his hoof and shook it firmly. "Hey there, Big Mac. My name's Steelbreaker and I'm new around Ponyville. I'm friends with Twilight Sparkle and she said I should head over here to meet your sister, Applejack."

He nodded and gestured behind him. "Applejack'll be in the southern apple fields right 'bout now. Head towards tha house and take a left. Just follow tha noise and you’ll find her."

I nodded back. "Thanks Big Mac. Catch ya later," and with that he went back to his plowing.

I followed his directions and sure enough there was a blonde-maned orange pony bucking an apple tree. I found myself absentmindedly admiring her muscular physique. 'No, stop it! I know you're the same species, but at least talk to her first!'

She saw me approach and wiped some sweat off of her brow before trotting over to meet me. I stuck out a hoof to shake, but before I could speak she grabbed my left foreleg and shook it violently. "Howdy! Mah name's Applejack and I run Sweet Apple Acres with mah family. Nice ta meet ya'll!"

She released my leg and I rubbed my shoulder. 'That's gonna be sore later' I then smiled warmly and gestured to myself. "Nice to meet you Applejack, I'm Steelbreaker. I'm a new friend of Twilight's, and she told me I should meet you.” I took a good look around the fields and smiled. “This is quite the farm, ma'am. I'm impressed with the sheer size of it. I can only imagine how hard it is to keep this place going smoothly. You must be one hay of a hard worker."

The orange mare blushed a bit at the compliment. "Aw shucks, it ain't nothin'. Yeah it's hard work, but mah fam'ly and Ponyville depends on this here farm. Knowin' that our hard work puts food in tha bellies of tha ponies that live here makes it worth it."

I smiled at her. "I admire your work ethic, Applejack. Not many peo-er, ponies where I come from have the same values. The world could use a few more like you."

She blushed even harder. "Yer one hay of a sweet-talker Steel, but thanks."

I waved a hoof dismissively with a grin. "Don't mention it. Anyway, Pinkie Pie's going to be holding some sort of party for me soon, so we'll catch up there. I gotta meet Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash now. Can you point me in the direction of Fluttershy's cottage?"

Applejack nodded. "Sure thing." She then pointed at the forest in the distance. "That there is Everfree Forest. Follow it to tha left fer a stretch and ya'll will get there soon. Ya can't miss it. Make sure ta keep yer distance from tha forest though. There's all kines ah nasty critters in there."

I nodded. "Don't worry Applejack, I'll be careful. Thanks for the directions. I'll be seein' ya." With that, I trotted back towards town.

I ended up having to walk back to town and all the way across it just to get to Fluttershy's cottage, as I was not going to swim through the river. This ate up a good portion of the day so that by the time I finally got to Fluttershy's home, it must've been at least 16:00, as the sun was well on it's way down. I approached the house, and was stopped by a small white bunny before I could knock.

He held up a paw to stop me, so I lowered my head to him and said, "Ah, you must be Angel." He nodded. "Well, Twilight Sparkle is a friend of mine, and she told me I should meet Fluttershy. Can I?" The bunny seemed a little taken aback that I was actually asking for his permission. After thinking for a second, he nodded and opened the door for me, so I followed him in.

The house was cozy and for some reason induced a very relaxed feeling in me, and I noticed it was framed by a great number of small animal residences. Angel bounded up the stairs, I assume to fetch the shy pegasus, so in an attempt not to frighten her too much, I made sure to stay put in plain sight.

I could faintly hear Fluttershy's soft voice upstairs say, "Oh hello Angel, I thought you weren't going to be back until later. Oh, we have a visitor?" I could then her the clop clop of hooves down the stairs, and turned my head to find myself staring at a soft yellow pegasus with a pink mane. I stayed perfectly still otherwise, and allowed her to speak first. "Oh...um...hello. M-my name is F-Fluttershy."

'So cute!'

I nearly "dawwwed" right then, but somehow contained myself. I responded in the most gentle voice I could with, "Hello Fluttershy, my name is Steelbreaker. It's a pleasure to meet you. I heard you have quite a way with animals."

The timid pegasus smiled a soft smile, hiding behind her mane a bit. "Oh...um...yes. I love animals. I see you already met my pet bunny Angel. He was the one who let you in, so I guess you're okay."

I nodded. "Don't worry Fluttershy, I wouldn't dream of hurting you or any of your animal friends. Angel included." She relaxed finally and I breathed a sigh of relief. "So, I'm also supposed to meet Rainbow Dash here for something, but she wouldn't say what. Did she tell you anything?"

Fluttershy shook her head and gestured for me to sit on the couch behind her. "No, Rainbow didn't tell me anything about it. I didn't even know she was coming until you told me, but that's alright. She's my best friend, so I always like to see her."

As if on cue, we heard a knock on the door, and then said cyan pegasus enters. "Hey 'Shy, hey Steel. Good to see you guys!"

Fluttershy trotted over and embraced her friend in a hug. "Oh Rainbow Dash, it's so good to see you! It's been a long time...how have you been?"

Dash hugged the yellow mare back fiercely. "Yeah sorry 'Shy, my training schedule keeps me pretty busy and things have been kinda crazy lately with the weather team. I've been good though. I missed ya, pal." The duo hugged for another few seconds before breaking the embrace.

Fluttershy then headed for her kitchen. "Would anyone like some apple herb tea?" Dash and I nodded, and so the yellow pegasus scampered off to fix the drink for us.

Dash took a seat next to me, eyeing me with those pretty magenta eyes. "So," she started, "when are you going to let me teach you to fly?"

I flinched, then quickly cast my eyes to my sides. I saw no wings...how? I looked up at her in shock and asked, "How did you know?"

She giggled. "Twi's one of my best friends, Steel. I've been around her enough to be able to feel when there's magic around. Plus the fact that you're a lot taller than any of the other ponies around, Big Mac included, plus your horn is a lot longer than a normal unicorn's. Also, Twi told me." I suddenly started to panic a bit, but she placed a hoof on mine, calming me down. I brought my eyes back to hers and she smiled. "Don't worry, the average pony isn't going to look into things like I do. The only other pony who would have figured it out would be Pinkie, but I don't understand half the things she does anyway. She won't tell anypony about it though unless you tell her she can, so don't worry."

I was surprised at her behavior, and made my confusion known. "You know Dash, you're not what I'd expected."

She snorted a laugh at this. "You thought I'd be some impatient meat-head, right?"

I turned away in embarrassment, but nodded. "Yeah...sorry."

She patted me on the back. "Nah it's cool. Yeah, I can be that way, but I'm different with my friends. I don't have patience for ponies I don't know well."

I gave a confused look at this and asked, "Well what about me? I mean, you don't really know me that well. We just met yesterday. I mean I'm good at making first impressions, but we only spoke for like two minutes."

She nodded. "Yeah, but Spike's cool with you, and Fluttershy is too. That makes you okay in my book."

I shrugged. "Well that makes sense. Good to have the element of loyalty on my side."

Fluttershy then poked her head around the corner. "The tea is ready...I mean, if you still want some."

I grinned at the cute yellow pegasus. "Some tea sounds good, Fluttershy thanks."

Dash decided to come with me when we left Fluttershy's house, so we said goodbye and were on our way back to the library.

"So what ever happened to that thunderstorm that was supposed to happen today? I mean it wasn't too hot today, but I would've liked a nice storm." I inquired.

She huffed a bit. "Well I did say things were kinda crazy with the weather team...this was what I meant. Seems they forgot it's harvesting season for the Apple family, so at the last minute they decided to schedule the storm overnight so that Applejack could get her work done during the day. Nothing bad happened, but it's annoying that they can't get things straight."

I chuckled. "Seems we have a similar trait: no patience for stupidity." She barked a laugh at this.

By the time we got back to town, the sun had gone down and it had started to get cold. Dash was shivering a bit, so I gently placed a wing over her.

The cyan mare jumped at the contact and her face lit up bright crimson. "W-what are you doing?"

I shushed her and responded, "I run hot, so this is perfect weather for me, but you're shivering. Besides, no one is going to be out to see me at this time of night."

The athlete was still blushing a great deal, but she sighed and leaned into me, smiling.

When we reached the library, she reluctantly stepped away from me and opened the door. My family, Spike, and Twilight were all sitting around the table finishing up a dinner of roasted potatoes and carrots with some salad. Dash smirked and set down her saddlebag and opened it, producing six bottles labeled "Applejack hard cider".

I smiled at this. "Mmm...I've always wanted to try some of that stuff. What's the legal drinking age here?"

"Fifteen. That means that everyone except Spike can have one." Twilight answered.

Spike didn't seem all that put off by this though and responded, "It's okay, I'm good with just some regular cider."

Dash passed out the bottles, and we all took a seat in the main room.

About an hour later, we were all well alcohol'ed. My sister had luckily gotten tired and gone to bed after a few sips. Legal or not, I still feel bad about her drinking. Spike was playing quarters with Mason after my brother explained the game. It was kinda one-sided with only one person drinking alcohol, but it was definitely funny. My mother had headed upstairs with a book on Equestrian history, so that left Twilight, Dash, and myself on the couch together.

Twilight was laying her head in my lap and I was stroking her mane softly while the three of us talked about where I came from. Twilight was very interested in our magicians, until I told her that they don't actually do magic. She frowned a bit, but then instantly brightened up when I started talking about astrophysics and space in general. Dash looked a little forlorn as she didn't really have anything to say, and was sitting all the way near the armrest of the couch. Through experimentation and feeling all day, I'd gotten familiar with how to work my wings, so I stretched out a wing and pulled her up against me. Her face lit up a bright red and Twilight giggled at her.

"Aww...Dashie you're so cute when you blush." the violet unicorn said in a teasing manner.

With her face still a bright red, Dash glared at the purple mare. "Shut up, Twi. Don't make me tell him what's under your bed."

Twilight nudged Dash in the shoulder with a grin. "Ah c'mon Dash, I'm just foaling around. I'm supposed to be the up tight one. Maybe you need to have a few more drinks."

Dash rolled her eyes, but downed the rest of her bottle with a cough. I had a mischevious grin on my face, and winked at Twilight. I leaned over and breathed a warm breath on the side of Dash's neck. She shivered and her wings shot up.

"Ah c'mon Steel, that's not cool!" Dash yelled.

I burst into laughter and so did Twilight. The pegasus sent us both a death stare, and my laughing calmed down a bit.

I leaned over and planted a soft kiss on her head, only making her blush harder. "Ah Dash, you know we're just playin'. We mess with ya because we love ya." The cyan mare’s eyes twinkled a bit at this, so I nodded and added, "Yes Dash, I said I love ya. I love all my close friends, and you girls are closer friends with me than most of the people I knew back on Earth...which is kinda odd with us only knowing each other two days, but meh...whatever."

"Oh..." Rainbow Dash said, suddenly crestfallen.

I rolled my eyes and poked the flier. "Okay Dash, what's the matter?" She looked away, so I grabbed her face with my hoof and made her look at me, then planted a soft quick kiss on her lips. Her eyes went wide with surprise, but then she smiled again...and Twilight giggled. "Better?"

The pegasus rested her head on my shoulder and nodded with a smile. "Yeah. Thanks Steel. Seems you know just what to do to make me feel better."

I puffed out my chest and gave a smug look. "It's a gift, really." Rainbow Dash shoved me, and I laughed.

Twilight glanced at the clock and sat up in shock. "Oh buck, it's 02:00. Your brother has his meeting with Princess Celestia tomorrow. We need to get some sleep. You all better drink a lot of water, because I'll not have anypony or human complaining of a hangover in front of the princess." I nodded and sent my brother and Spike off to bed with Twilight's instructions.

The unicorn headed upstairs to prepare beds for Dash and I in her room, leaving the pegasus with me to clean up downstairs. The Element of Loyalty kept glancing over at me like she wanted to ask something, so I decided to try to speak to her in her mind like I did Luna a night ago.

'Okay Dash, I know something's bothering you, what is it?'

She jumped, definitely not expecting it. 'Whoa...you can do this too? I thought Twi was the only one who could cast that spell besides the princesses.'

'Don't dance around my question Dash, what's bothering you?'

She sighed in resignation. "Okay fine...I was just wondering how long you were going to be staying here in Equestria. I won't lie Steel...I...I really like you. I don't want you to leave. You're so much different than the other colts and stallions. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were as old as Celestia by the way you talk sometimes. How old are you by the way?"

I gave her a warm smile. "Believe it or not, I'm only twenty-five. I'm guessing that's not much older than you, right? And as far as how long I'm staying, hopefully forever. I'm an alicorn, and that means I won't ever have to worry about death by age. I'll stay as long as the princesses let me."

She gave me a surprised look. "Wow, you're only three years older than me. I'd have guessed you were thirty at least. Well I'm glad that you want to stay."

I gave her another warm smile. "You, Luna, and Twilight are my girls - my closest friends here. I couldn't leave you, nor do I want to." The pegasus smiled at this and continued cleaning.

After we had finished cleaning up the trash and dishes, Dash and I headed up to Twi's room to go to sleep.

I only saw one bed though...

"Umm Twi, where's my bed? Did you set it up in another room or something?" I asked quizzically.

The unicorn mare gave what I could only decipher was a seductive smile and patted the bed. "No, it's right here."

I rolled my eyes. "Twi, I know you're buzzing, but I'm not having sex with anypony any time soon...and definitely not while they're drunk."

She blushed furiously. "Oh no no no...I just like to cuddle is all. I'm not ready to do...that with anypony."

Dash giggled, and I sighed in relief. "Okay good. Let's all brush our teeth really quick and get to bed." The two mares nodded and followed me to the washroom.

After freshening up, we all climbed into the obnoxiously large bed.

"Twi, why do you have such a huge bed if it's just you sleeping in it?" Dash asked.

The violet unicorn smiled and moved closer to me. "Well like I said, I like to cuddle. It's a lot easier to do that at sleepovers if the bed is big enough so that no pony has to sleep on the floor."

Rainbow Dash laughed and replied, "I knew you wanted my body at the last sleepover." This caused Twilight to roll her eyes.

I spread out my wings flat on the bed, at which point Twilight and Dash got on either side of me and snuggled close. I wrapped my forelegs and wings around them, eliciting a sigh of happiness from both of them.

I kissed them both on the forehead and whispered, "Goodnight, girls. Sleep well." They both wrapped their forelegs around me and nuzzled into my sides.

'You are such a player, you naughty colt.' Luna quipped in my head.

'What do you mean?' I asked innocently.

'Two of the elements of Harmony all over you in bed? Well done. I am sure the other stallions would be very jealous.' she said with a mental smirk.

'How would you know that? Wait...can you see me right now?'

The moon princess giggled and responded with, 'Oops, I must have forgotten to mention that when we connect telepathically, I can see what you see if I choose to.

I growled a bit, but then smirked as an idea came to mind.'Well I'd hate to be seen as a player in the eyes of you, Luna. Don't worry, I'll make sure never to cuddle you.'

I could hear her gasp and even felt the shock from her 'N-no! I...I mean that is not what I meant to imply! I was just...'

I chuckled in my head. 'Oh my lovely Princess Luna, you should know I was just messing with you. If you were to be with us right now, I'd be more than happy to be your warm pillow.'

I felt her relax. 'I shall hold you to that oath.'

I smiled. 'Goodnight Luna.'

'Goodnight Drew. Sleep well.'

Tears, Changes, and Music

Chapter 5: Tears, Changes, and Music

I woke up with Dash laying half on top of me, and Twilight nowhere to be found. It was still dark outside, so I gently lay Dash beside me and shimmied out of the bed.

I saw a silhouette behind the balcony window, so I slowly opened the door and found Twilight outside, gazing at the night sky. She had the remnants of tears on her face, and I instantly became concerned.

"Twi?" I whispered with concern.

The weeping unicorn jumped and turned to see me, quickly wiping her hoof across her face in an attempt to hide the fact she'd been crying. "Oh, hi Steel. I'm sorry if I woke you up."

I sat behind Twilight and wrapped her in my wings, shielding her from the chilly night air. "What's the matter, Twi?"

She let out a shudder and a sad sigh. "I had a nightmare. I've been having them more and more ever since the changelings attacked Canterlot. I'm just so afraid that this is all fake...that my friends aren't really my friends. I'm afraid that this is all just some ruse. I'm afraid my friends are going to leave." As her rambling died down, she softly laid her chin on the edge of my wing." I don't want to be alone again..."

I frowned and nuzzled her. "Listen to me Twilight, this isn't something you can conquer by trying to research or study it. You can't out-think this...you have to feel it. I know you have fears - we all do - but you need to stop thinking so much on it. Forget about what you think for a minute. What do you feel?"

The mare sat completely still...the only indication she wasn't a statue was her heartbeat against my chest. "I feel...I feel stupid for even questioning them, and guilty for it. I feel like somehow admitting that I'm afraid is betraying them."

I smiled and lay my head on top of hers. "That's your heart speaking, Twi. Your heart is telling your head that this fear isn't needed. You know who your friends are...you can feel who they are. I haven't even known them near as long as you, but I know that the connection you share with them goes beyond the Elements of Harmony."

Twilight looked up at me, confused. "What do you mean?"

I smiled. "You're the Elements of Harmony because you're friends...not the other way around. Think about it." And with that, I slowly stood up and walked back inside.

Unable to sleep, I quietly descended the stairs to the library floor. I grabbed my iPod out of my bag and a small speaker, then sat down at the reading table. I plugged the speaker into the iPod and then sat there, staring at it. 'Okay...no fingers...how am I supposed to do this? Man, I wish I had fingers sometimes...' I spaced out, thinking of some possibilities of what to do, and didn't notice a glittering, silvery aura surround my horn and my music player. I nearly jumped out of my skin when Metallica's "Mama Said" started playing. After my momentary surprise wore off, I looked inquisitively at the setup. 'Hmm...I wonder...' I focused on my music player, and imagined the song changing to "For Mom", by Buckethead. A silver aura surrounded my music player, and the song changed.

"SCORE!" I yelled, then immediately stuck my hooves over my mouth.

I heard the sound of hooves on the floors above and then a door opening. I looked at the top of the stairs to see Rainbow Dash standing at the top, a groggy frown on her face. "What the hay are you yelling about? Some of us are trying to sleep."

I smiled sheepishly and apologetically responded, "Sorry Dashie, I just got a little excited. Go back to bed...I'll tell you about it later." She rolled her eyes and headed back to bed. 'Almost four days without my music...I thought I was going to go insane. Thank God for this little discovery.' I then focused on Twilight, using that "Spellspeech" thing again. "Hey Twi, it's me. Come downstairs, I want to show you something I think you'll like."

I heard the faint sound of a door closing, and then hooves coming down the stairs. The unicorn trotted beside me and asked, "Hey Steel, what is it?"

I smirked. "Well it's two things. First of all, I wanted to show you some of my music I listen to when I'm feeling a little down. Also, I found out how to use some magic."

Her eyes widened. "How did you learn how to cast magic? Do you have any idea how long it took me to use my first spell?"

I chuckled. "Well, I am an alicorn. Don't feel too bad though, I wasn't trying...it happened on accident the first time."

She grimaced. "The fact that you weren't even trying doesn't make me feel any better..."

I chuckled and beckoned her closer. "Just come here, I'll show you."

After showing and explaining to Twilight how I cast the spell, I proceeded to show her my music collection. I was surprised that somehow my iPod had been changed from an 8G to a 64G, and it had all my music from my computer on it. Must've been Luna...I'll have to remember to thank her. Twi found that she liked a lot of my music, although she was a little put off by the thrash, metalcore, black metal, and similar genres. She was very interested in my player though, so I let her fool around with it while I decided to take an early-morning walk. It was only about 05:30 and the moon was just starting to reach the horizon, with the first rays of sunlight appearing in the opposite direction, so I decided to try and use my wings.

I headed over to the meadow where I first met Rainbow Dash so I'd have room to crash...as much as I hated the idea. I stretched out my wings straight and gave them an experimental flap, and much to my surprise, I actually lifted off the ground about three feet before landing. Remembering my studies during high school physics on how birds fly, I decided to give it a try. I crouched down low and jumped as high as I could, at the same time giving my wings a much more forceful flap. I shot up into the air much higher than I had anticipated, and before I knew it, I was level with a cloud floating a few hundred feet off the ground. I landed on it and found it to be very soft...almost like stepping on the softest pillow imaginable. 'I can see now why Dash likes napping on these.' Feeling that I had made enough progress by myself, I spread my wings wide and glided all the way back to the library.

When I arrived back at Twi's place, I found she was listening to some Issac Sheapard while reading a book. She glanced up and nodded at me before returning to her reading.

"Glad you enjoy the music Twi. You're welcome to it whenever you want." I said. She nodded again, not even looking up this time. I looked at the wall clock and saw it was only 05:45, so I headed back up to bed to try and get a little more relaxation before we had to get up.

When I arrived to the bedroom again, it was to see Rainbow Dash tossing and turning in her sleep, so I lay next to her. She stopped moving when her hooves touched me, and pulled herself up against me, a smile on her face.

'Bitches on my dick!'

I grimaced at myself. "Shut up brain...just...shut up."

I ended up falling back asleep, and before I knew it I was startled awake by a sharp pain in my right foreleg.

I blearily opened my eyes to see Rainbow Dash hovering over me, smiling. I growled out, "What the hay, Dash! I was having a good dream!"

The rainbow-maned pony laughed. "Well I tried being more gentle, but you didn't budge. Desperate times call for desperate measures." She then used her hooves to begin to push me off the comfy bed. "C'mon, get up. We got to get ready for the meeting with Princess Celestia." I grumbled, rising out of the bed.

Rainbow Dash and I then headed to the washroom to get cleaned up. She began brushing her teeth while I turned on the shower and stepped into the cool water. Once she noticed what I as doing, the mare blushed furiously.

"Umm Steel, you could've asked me to leave if you were taking a shower."


"Well...um...because you're taking a shower."


"So...aren't you embarrassed?"

"We walk around naked anyway, why does it matter?"

"Well...umm...hm. You know, I don't really know."

"We'll get you trained yet, young padawan."

"What's a padawan?"


After my shower - and Rainbow Dash's extreme embarrassment - we headed downstairs for breakfast, and I was quite pleased to find eggs and hash browns with toast.

"Ah wow...I haven't had a breakfast like this for years!" I exclaimed.

Twilight giggled. "Yeah, your brother recommended it. I have to say, I'm not sure why we never thought of this before. It's pretty good, and Spike is a good cook." Twilight's comment caused the young dragon to beam in happiness as I sat down with my family at the table, shortly thereafter joined by Spike, Twilight, and Rainbow Dash.

We talked about all kinds of things over the tasty food, ranging from magic to WWII. Twilight was intrigued, but also confused and saddened as to how humans could think it's okay to kill thousands of their own kind.

As I dipped a bit of toast in the yolk of an egg, I explained. "Humans are like that Twi. That's why in all honesty, I don't miss Earth much at all. Land disputes, religion, even something so simple as a pair of shoes...if it causes a disagreement between two parties, people will fight - and sometimes kill - over it. It's what we call human nature." I took a bite of the toast and chewed before swallowing, then continued. "That's part of the reason why the ponies of Equestria are so popular there. Equestria is the ideal paradise - where a great tragedy is considered to be cotton candy clouds raining chocolate milk. On Earth, we use our ingenuity to maim, kill, and destroy."

"But what about you...you're not like that, Steel." Twilight inquired.

I smiled sadly. "Not all humans are like that Twi, but the potential to be that way is always there. Here in Equestria the line between good and evil is well-defined. Humans don't have that...we have to make our own judgment on what's good and evil. I have a saying that so many people on my world doesn't agree with, probably because it makes them look at themselves introspectively...and that scares them. My saying is,'Good and evil are matters of perspective.'" I then paused as I chewed on a bit of hashbrowns before swallowing and nodding. "Okay, here's a perfect example for you: Luna became corrupted and then turned into Nightmare Moon, causing her own sister to have to banish her to the moon for a thousand years. Now on Earth, there would always be some people claiming that perhaps with some love and care, Nightmare Moon could have been sated and Luna would have returned to us."

"But that's not true. She was corrupted, so there was no saving her...not then anyway." Twilight retorted.

I nodded. "Yes, but therein lies the problem. Humans don't have that clear line to be able to distinguish between good and evil, Twilight. There would be many people of Earth claiming that Celestia was the evil one."

Twilight stomped her hoof, causing all of us to look at her, but she either didn't care or didn't notice. "That's ridiculous!"

I shrugged. "I believe that as well, Twilight, but that's what I'm talking about. It's the kind of decision that humans face every day. Then of course there's the fact that sometimes the ends justify the means. For example, assassinating someone is considered okay so long as it's 'for the greater good'...but where do you draw the line for what's acceptable and what's not? That's the question that no one can ever answer." The violet unicorn gasped in shock, but I waved a hoof at her, showing that I wasn't serious. "I didn't mean that was to apply to Equestria Twilight, I'm just saying that's another one of the things humans deal with."

Twilight furrowed her brow in thought. "Wow...I didn't know things were so complicated for you. Humans are much harder to figure out than I thought."

I cracked a genuine smile. "Well Twi in all honesty, there's still some things about myself I still don't understand, so I'm right there with you." She smiled back at me, and we all finished breakfast.

It was about 10:00 when the carriage Celestia sent for us arrived. The guards nodded at us as we all arrived outside, so we all boarded the carriage quickly as possible to avoid anypony seeing my family. We took to the air with a jolt that startled my sister a bit, causing her to cling to me.

I chuckled, but turned to Twilight with a smile. "So Twi, who all is going to be there?"

The unicorn put a hoof to her chin in thought before answering, "Well I know that obviously the princesses are going to be there, and all of the other Elements will be as well. Beyond that, I don't know. We'll have to hold a sort of conference with the ponies in Ponyville for your brother when we get back so that they don't fear him."

Twilight seemed nervous, so I placed a hoof around her shoulder. "Don't worry Twi. It'll be alright, I promise. I wouldn't even consider this if I didn't trust my brother."

She relaxed a bit and smiled weakly. "I know, it's just that I don't know how the ponies will act towards him. Spike's different because he's a baby dragon and everypony knows I raised him from a hatchling. Your brother is going to be taller than you, and a dragon that no one's seen before."

I smiled. "Well, if it takes me revealing that I'm an alicorn to ease things, I'll do it. The ponies in town are more likely to respect and believe an alicorn when he says, 'The dragon's ok.' I don't really feel comfortable with causing that sort of commotion, but if it comes to that, so be it."

Dash smiled at me and said, "You really care about your brother a lot. I wish I'd grown up with a brother like you."

I chuckled as I leaned back against the seat of the carriage. "Well Dash, believe me when I say that we've had our share of sibling rivalries and fights." I pointed to a scar above my eye, and one on my chest. "But yes, I trust him and he trusts me."

My brother laughed from the other side of the carriage while looking at the window. "You shouldn't have eaten my pizza."

We arrived at the palace gate about thirty minutes later and were quickly shuffled inside to the throne room by a large number of royal guards.

My family stopped dead in their tracks as the giant, ornate double-doors were opened.

"Whoa..." was my sister's only response.

The throne room was larger than our entire house had been back on Earth, and was covered in beautiful tapestries - red ones on the left depicting Princess Celestia's cutie mark, and navy blue ones on the right with Luna's. The rest of the Elements were gathered beside the princesses, and seeing a bouncing Pinkie Pie almost made me laugh.

The five of us slowly strode forward until we were at the steps leading up to the thrones, and we all bowed in reverence to the two monarchs.

A moment of silence, and then a warm, "Arise." We all stood again to see the princess of the sun smiling at us, and she continued with, "Welcome to Canterlot, the capital city of the kingdom of Equestria. I am Princess Celestia."

Luna smiled exuberantly and followed up with, "And I am Princess Luna. We have already met, but it is a pleasure to see you again under less tense circumstances." I stifled a laugh at this as Twilight and Rainbow Dash took their places near the thrones, next to their friends.

Celestia advanced upon my brother, smiling. "Hello Mason, Spike has told me much about you."

The tall human snorted, stifling a guffaw. "Nothing bad, I hope?"

Princess Celestia giggled and smiled warmly. "Don't worry, there is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself with friends. So, I've been told that you've decided to stay and have chosen a form. Am I correct?" Mason nodded, so she smiled and stepped closer to him. "Very well...let us see what we have to work with. I wish for you to envision the form you have chosen within your mind, as detailed as you can imagine." The tall human nodded and closed his eyes, and the solar princess placed her horn upon my brother's head while closing her own eyes. I watched as the magic horn gave off a soft golden glow, but she pulled away a few seconds later with a benevolent smile. "Ah, I see. Well then, we can do that. Luna, if you please." Luna walked up next to her sister, and they took places on opposite sides of Mason. Their horns began to glow brightly, so much in fact that I had to raise a hoof to shield my eyes from the intense light.

When the light faded, I found myself looking at a white and blue swirling cocoon-like thing. The "cocoon" congealed, and began to take shape. The vague shape of hands, feet, and a tail could be seen through the light, but with another bright flash, a figure stood where the orb had been. It was a tall black scaled body with a long barbed tail, wings, and small brown spikes protruding from its elbows. There were red spines leading from its tail up its back to the top of its head, with four rear-facing brown horns with red rings around them adorning the skull.

The being turned around to look at me, and I found myself staring at a large toothy-grinned face with pale gold eyes. Brown also was found on the chest and stomach, and the being gestured to itself. "Hey Drew, how do I look?" Celestia tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to a large mirror that hung on the wall behind the thrones, so he stepped up the stairs as the Elements made way for him. He gazed into the mirror in marvel at his new appearance, and even did a few flexing motions. "Oh yeah...I look goooood..."

I chuckled and shook my head. "Well I'm glad to see the change hasn't had an effect on your personality."

He glared at me in response and frowned. "Shut up...I look awesome. You're just jealous."

I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Okay, maybe a little. You do look pretty boss."

"Hey Steel, you do know that there's such things as transformation spells, right? Once you're powerful enough, you could change into almost anything you can think of." Twilight spoke in my head. I grinned and nodded to her.

After saying goodbye to the two princesses, we were ready to leave. Luckily the princesses agreed to just teleport us, and next thing we knew, we were all back at the library - the other Elements of Harmony included. Spike was busy cleaning up the library when we arrived.

"Oh hey guys, how'd it go? Did everything go accor-" the small dragon started, before stopping and staring wide-eyed at Mason. "Who's the new guy?"

I stood up on my hind legs and threw a hoof around my brother's neck. Luckily when standing on two legs, I was still taller than him. "Spike, this is Mason. Celestia came through."

The little purple dragon smiled so big, I was afraid his face would crack. "COOL! I'M NOT THE ONLY DRAGON ANYMORE!"

I laughed and said, "Nope, and I'm sure you guys will get into plenty of trouble-erm...I mean fun together."

Twilight glared at me, then looked sternly at the two dragons. "If you two cause any trouble, I'll banish you to the moon myself."

The two reptilians both rolled their eyes, and Spike said, "Ah Twi, you're such a killjoy."

The violet unicorn gasped. "Hey, I am not! I know how to have fun. I just don't want you two's fun to be at the expense of breaking everything around town."

Mason laughed. "Don't worry, Twilight Sparkle. We'll be good. Promise."

"You better..." Twilight mumbled.

It was only about 15:00 when we had gotten back, so we all ate a late lunch, much to the delight of our grumbling stomachs. Twilight had left shortly thereafter to speak with Mayor Mare to set up the announcement, and Rarity bid goodbye to us before heading back to her boutique...something about a huge order that just came up. That left Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Spike, my family, and myself at the library. Spike decided to head to the small field behind the library to teach Mason how to breathe fire (which I thought was a bad idea, but meh...whatever), and my sister and mother went upstairs to clean up.

This left me downstairs with four girls...all of them staring at me.

'Great...this has bad news written all over it.' Deciding to break the awkward tension, I spoke first. "So umm...lovely weather we're having, huh?" They all gave half-hearted agreements, and I sighed in annoyance. "Okay...what's going on? You're all looking like Pinkie did when she thought you girls didn't like her anymore."

Applejack laughed loudly. "Nah sugarcube, we're all raht. It's just..."

I cocked my head as she trailed off, and asked, "Just what?"

The farm mare sighed. "It's just that...well...ya'll are so nice ta us. Twi told us what yer world was like...and we just don' get it."

I was now even more confused. "What's not to get?"

Fluttershy finally spoke up, though "spoke up" is a bit of a stretch for her soft voice. "Well...umm...your world was so...mean. How did you turn out like you did? Umm...I'm sorry...I didn't mean it like that. I mean, you're just so nice to strangers. We're just not sure we believe what you told Twilight."

I sat down and closed my eyes in frustration. "Look girls, I told Twilight the truth. I was abandoned by both a father and step-father, I was bullied all throughout my school years, and I was alienated because of my thought processes. Could I be mean? Yeah. Do I get angry sometimes? Yes, I do. Do I get sad? Yes. A long time ago though I learned that happiness and kindness are not something that just happens to you - not just something you feel - they're a choice. They're part of who you are." I then pointed to the pink earth-pony. "Being - as Pinkie would call it - 'a mean ol' meanie mcmeaner pants' wouldn't change the past, and it would only hurt those around me. Besides, I have a new life here. I won't forget my past, but neither am I going to let it decide my future."

Applejack frowned. "How old are ya? Ya kinda sound like Granny Smith."

I chuckled and smiled at a certain cyan pegasus. "Rainbow Dash asked me the same question. The answer's the same - twenty-five, and full of life. Doesn't make sense, does it?"

Applejack's mouth hung open. "Wow...Ah'd ah thought ya'll were at least thirdy or somethin'..."

I grinned. "Thanks I guess? I feel old now, because Rainbow Dash said the same exact thing." They all laughed.

"Well," said Pinkie Pie, "we'll just have to make your party a 'Feel Young' party!" I burst into laughter, the rest of the girls joining in.

Shortly after my little discussion, Spike and Mason walked back in the house, the taller dragon covered in burns.

Mason was yelling at Spike angrily, "Well you could've told me it'd get that big! That hurt!"

I snorted a laugh at this and loudly remarked, "That's what she said! Use some lube next time!"

The black dragon glared at me. "Shut the fu-...just shut up."

Twilight then walked back in the front door with a very satisfied grin. "Well, everything's all set up. We'll be having the announcement in the town square at 17:00. I'll teleport Mason to the tent there so as to avoid a panic."

I looked at the clock...16:38. "Okay, well Mason, you should go get cleaned up. Meet us down here after you're done. The shower's kinda small for you though, so please be careful." The dragon nodded before heading upstairs.

Twilight looked over to me with a quizzical expression. "What happened to him?"

I laughed. "Fire...lots of fire. You can thank Spike for that."

She glanced at the small dragon and giggled. "Yeah...Spike had the same problem when he first started learning." She then stared at me. "So I meant to ask you...how did you figure out how to use Spellspeech and that other spell? The one you used on that music-thingy...I've never heard of a spell like that before."

I smiled and shrugged. "Well I don't mean to make you seem ignorant, but they were both accidents. The 'Spellspeech' as you called it was me just thinking a goodnight to Luna while thinking about her. As far as the other spell, it makes sense you've never heard of such a spell. As far as I know, mp3 players don't exist here, do they?"

Twilight tilted her head in thought. "Well, I don't know about if they're called mp3, but if anyone would know it'd be Vinyl Scratch, the DJ here in Ponyville."

I smiled. "I'll have to set aside some time to meet her at some point I'm sure she'll like a lot of my music."

Mason made his way downstairs and thankfully looked significantly less charred, at which point Twilight nudged me. "Okay, I need you to head to the square with the rest of the girls. Contact me when you're inside the tent, because I'll need you there to pinpoint where to teleport Mason." I nodded and strode out the door with Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie.

The cyan pegasus huffed and complained, "Ugh...do we really need to walk there? This is going to take forever."

I smiled. "Well actually..." and with that I took off in the air.

Rainbow Dash just stared at me, dumbfounded. "How? Did someone train you in the few hours you were away from me?"

I laughed and shook my head. "Nah...remember when I accidentally woke you up this morning? Well I couldn't get back to sleep, so I went to that meadow where I first met you and practiced. Through my understanding with physics and air dynamics, I've got the basics down. I'm probably not going to be anywhere near as fast as you, but I can fly just fine."

She accepted this and smiled. "Well then, let's get going." I nodded, then looked at Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.

"Go ahead you two. I'll walk with Pinkie and we'll meet you there." Stated the yellow pegasus.

I nodded with a grin. "Okay girls, see you later!" With that, Dash and I shot into the air.

Dash was ahead of my by a large margin, and flew on her back in a back-stroke motion, just to tease me. "C'mon Steel, you're too slow. I'm getting bored over here!" I growled and flapped my wings harder, shooting past her in a gust of wind. "Whoa..." she exclaimed as she tumbled a bit through the air. She grinned with a confident smile and chased after me, easily gaining and overtaking me. "Is that all you got?" she yelled back.

'Faster...' I thought as I furiously beat my wings. I felt a tingling in my wings, and then heat. To my surprise, I started gaining on her. All of the sudden, time seemed to slow down for a moment before I shot forward, my ears ringing from a loud boom. I looked in front of me to see a wave of crackling white energy spreading across the sky, but noticed all too late that I was on a collision course with my racing partner. Before I could turn to avoid impact, I slammed into her, causing us both to tumble from the sky. She was knocked unconscious, and my left wing had been dislocated. 'No, no no! I can't let this happen! Not now...' I used my good wing and adjusted my fall trajectory so that I could reach her, then reached out with both of my forelegs and drew her close to me. With a resounding pop and a scream of pain, I stretched out my left wing, forcing the bone back into place. A few seconds before hitting the ground, I opened my wings to slow our descent. The muscles burned like they'd been set on fire, but held and the fall slowed to a soft glide. As soon as I landed on the ground, I couldn't help but be thankful for the soft grass...and then I collapsed.

I was awakened a few minutes later by a teary-eyed Rainbow Dash, who was shaking me and screaming my name.

I opened my eyes all the way and coughed out, "Wha-what's going on? Rainbow Dash, are you ok?"

My voice startled the pegasus, but she quickly righted herself and embraced me tight, crying hysterically for a moment. I thought this rather out of character for the pegasus until she punched me on the side of the jaw with a hoof. "Ow! What was that for?"

She glared at me. "Don't ever do that again."

I grinned. "You can't stop me from flying Dashie."

The mare shoved me forcefully and held her stern gaze. "I'm not kidding Steel. I thought you..."

As she trailed off, the tears began to fall again, so as I was still laying on the ground, I reached out and pulled her close to me. "Shhh...it's alright Dash. I'm sorry I scared you. I'm alright though."

She collected herself and wiped her eyes, then smiled. "Okay. Just...just be more careful."

I cocked an eyebrow and remarked, "Miss Daredevil is telling me to be careful? Call the press! Alert the authorities!"

She pushed away from me and giggled. "Alright alright, enough. We still have to meet at the town square. C'mon, let's get going." I started to walk off when Dash stopped me by grabbing my tail in her teeth. When I turned around, she pointed to my flank. "Steel...y-you got your cutie mark!"

I looked back at my flank in surprise. I had honestly never even thought of not having a cutie mark once since I got here, but there it was. It was a silver shield in front of a shadow and in the bottom right corner of the shield...Dash's cutie mark? "Huh...that's odd."

"No, that's awesome!" Dash exclaimed.

I rolled my eyes. "No, I mean look in the bottom right of the shield. See that little mark? Do you recognize that?"

She stepped closer and squinted at it, then with wide eyes looked at her cutie mark...then back to mine... "Is...is that my cutie mark on your cutie mark? What's that doing there?"

I shrugged and stretched my wings, wincing a bit in pain. "Hey, I'm just as confused as you are. What do you think it means?" The rainbow-maned pony stared at my flank for a few minutes, and I smirked. "Like what you see?"

She blushed a bit at the realization of what she was doing, but quickly composed herself and shrugged. "It's just...I've never seen a cutie mark like that before. I think you should ask the princesses about this."

I nodded in agreement, but responded, "Okay, but in the meantime we have somewhere we need to be." She agreed with me and we headed into town.

We arrived at the square with a few minutes to spare, and I found the tent that Twilight spoke about. I stepped inside and focused on Twilight to make contact. "Okay Twi. I'm in the tent. You guys can come whenever you're ready. Try not to drop on top of me please."

I heard Twilight giggle in my mind as she responded, "No promises. Okay, here we come..."

I felt the air around me warm up a bit, along with the faint sound of an electric hum. A bright flash of purple light blinded me, and there was Mason and Twilight, standing before me. "Hey Twi, hey Mace. How nice of you to drop in." They both smiled, and I looked towards the tent entrance. "Okay, so are we ready to do this?" They both nodded.

Twilight looked to my brother and said, "Let me head out first with Steel and we'll introduce you. Wait until we call you."

The violet unicorn and I then walked out to the small stage that had been erected(giggity) for this event. Twilight stepped to the front of the stage next to the mayor, and I noticed her horn glowing softly.

The mayor turned to address the crowd, speaking in a magically amplified voice. "Citizens of Ponyville, as you can see, we've had a new addition to our humble town." She pointed at me and the crowd cheered.

I stepped forward. "Umm...hello there. My name is Steelbreaker, and it's a pleasure to be welcomed by all of you to your beautiful town."

The mayor nodded and then turned back to the crowd. "However, that is not the only reason why you've been gathered here today. We have another new addition to this town. However, this newcomer is not a pony. He is different, but I ask you to please accept and welcome him just the same as you would a pony."

Twilight stepped forward and nodded in agreement. "Yes...he is a personal friend of myself and Steelbreaker's. I want to let you know that you are in no danger, and I can assure you he is just like the rest of us. Please welcome Darkflight."

With that, my brother exited the tent, to a large collective gasp from the crowd, and he took his place next to me.

"Nice name." I whispered to him, and he cracked a grin.

The ponies all stared at him in...fear? Oh no...this isn't going like I'd hoped. I heard a pony cry, "You brought a dragon here? What's wrong with you?" Mason winced at this, and Twilight glared at the crowd.

The violet unicorn cleared her throat and prepared to speak to the crowd. "Did you forget Spike? He is a dragon too, and everypony in town likes Spike. Why should this dragon be different?"

The crowd didn't seem any less fearful, so I growled and contacted Twilight through Spellspeech. "Twi...I think I'm going to have to do it anyway." She closed her eyes and gave a sad nod. "Well I guess I won't be needing the enchantment on my wings anymore after this. Can you just remove it now?" She nodded again and her horn glowed brightly. I then flared my wings and the crowd gasped in shock.

Moments passed before anyone spoke. "A-a-an alicorn?"

The crowd began to bow, but I raised my hoof in an effort to stop them. "Please don't bow, I'm not royalty, nor am I related to the princesses. I did this to make a point...that appearances can be deceiving." I gestured to myself and stated, "All of you have been friendly to me...are all of you going to start treating me differently just because of what I am? I thought you all were better than treating someone different simply because of how they look."

A white unicorn with duel-hued electric-blue mane and goggles walked up. 'Vinyl Scratch.' She looked at me for a moment before shaking her head. "No...no we won't." The DJ then looked back at the crowd, "RIGHT?" The crowd hurriedly began shaking their heads no or voicing their negatives, so I grinned...as did my brother

I turned back to the crowd and said, "Good...then I am pleased. Well everyone, it's been a long day, and with that we'll take our leave." The crowed roared in thunderous cheers and the stamping of hooves for a number of moments before starting to clear out, so I turned to a smiling Vinyl Scratch and extended my hoof in greeting. "Hello Miss Scratch, my name is Steelbreaker. It's a pleasure to meet a fellow musician."

The white unicorn gasped and lifted her goggles off her face to reveal two crimson eyes. "You make music too? Thank Celestia! I thought Tavi and I were the only ones!" I was then on the receiving end of a happy tackle-hug, and I just chuckled.

I grinned down at the unicorn mare and quipped, "Whoa there cowgirl, you're gonna have to buy me a drink first."

She stepped off of me, blushing a bit in embarrassment. "S-sorry...I don't know what came over me."

I waved a hoof at her with a smile. "It's cool. Tell ya what, I don't think I have anything going on tomorrow, and I have some music that I'd really like to show you if you have the time. I have a feeling you'd really like the style."

Her smile threatened to pull her face apart, but she nodded vigorously. "Awesome! Sure, if you're free drop on by tomorrow. Twilight knows the address."

I nodded. "It's a date!"

The DJ blushed, her entire face turning red. "W-well...umm...ok."

I laughed. "I didn't mean it like that, Vinyl Scratch. I just meant we're meeting up to hang, and it just happens to be at your place." I then leaned in close and whispered, "Although I'm sure you'll get a kick out of Octavia's face if you told her an alicorn is coming over for a date with you."

She giggled. "Yeah, that could be fun. Okay then, I guess I'll see you tomorrow!"

Mason Twilight and I all arrived back at the library at around 18:00, the sun just touching the horizon and the air of autumn bringing about a slight chill to the air. We opened the door to find Luna speaking to Spike, and she turned her head to smile at us.

"Hi Luna!" I greeted.

The blue alicorn trotted over and embraced me in a hug. "It is good to see you, Steel. I just thought I would drop by with a gift for Mason, or Darkflight as he is now called."

My brother grinned and replied with, "Wow, thanks for the gift princess. What is it?"

The night princess then motioned to a door down the hall. "The only place it would fit was the basement. I hope you do not mind when you see it." The black dragon shrugged his shoulders, and we all headed down to the basement.

Where once was an unfinished basement was an apartment, complete with violet walls and violet carpeting. Lastly, was a large comfortable bed, which was built much taller taller than Twilight's.

Mason's eyes were wide and he was smiling in delight. "This...is...AWESOME!"

Luna smiled warmly and said, "Well I spoke to Twilight and it was her idea. The bed was mine though, so I hope you like it."

With that he lay down on the bed, and he fit. The grin on his face told volumes of how happy it made him, and he whispered, "Dude...this is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten." The black dragon then looked at me and said, "Screw an Xbox, screw Iron Maiden concert tickets...this is awesome!" He hopped off the bed and wrapped Luna in a bone-crushing bear hug...er...dragon hug I guess.

The alicorn coughed out, "Too tight...can't breathe!"

My brother released her and scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Heh...sorry about that." Then he walked towards Twilight, and she backed up in fear.

"No no! A thank you is enough, and you're welcome." The violet unicorn said quickly.

He smiled. "Thanks Twilight. I appreciate it...really."

The unicorn grinned. "Just don't set it on fire."

He laughed and glanced around the room. "It could use a little more of a personal touch though." He tapped a claw against his lips. "Hmm...I guess I better get started." We left him to do...whatever he was going to do and headed upstairs.

My stomach as well as Twilight's were roaring at us when we got upstairs, much to the entertainment of Luna, so Spike made us each a daisy and lettuce sandwich.

I just stared at the sandwich, and Twilight nudged me. "Aren't you hungry?"

I sighed. "Well yeah, but I'm not sure about this. I hope my taste buds adapted along with my new body..." and with that, I took a bite. The best way I can describe it was that it tasted just like a chicken sandwich with lettuce. Daisy = chicken...who knew? I smiled and wolfed the whole thing down. After wiping my mouth and letting out a delighted "ah", I said, "Wow...that was good. I'm kinda interested as to how the rest of your foods taste now. Thanks for the sandwich Spike!" Spike nodded with a smile and Luna giggled.

The lunar princess then stood and smiled at me. "Well it was wonderful to see all of you again, but I fear it is time for me to go for now. I hope to see all of you again very soon."

I stood up with her. "I'll walk you out, Luna."

I escorted Luna out and closed the door behind me, then looked into her lovely cyan eyes. "I want to thank you again Luna...I know I've already thanked you, but these few days in Equestria have been some of the best of my entire life."

She smiled warmly and embraced me in a tight hug. "It was my pleasure, Steelbreaker. Hopefully soon you and I can spend some more time together." She released me and hung her head a bit in frustration. "Things have just been very hectic at the palace lately." Suddenly, her ears perked up, and she said, "Tia has informed me that a 'break' of sorts may be coming soon, so gods willing I can make a personal visit for a few days."

I smiled. "Yeah...I'd like that. Don't be a stranger now, you can always write a letter to me or any of us."

The night princess smiled back and said, "I may just do that. Thank you Steel...I am glad you are here." Once more we embraced, and then the lunar princess flew off into the night.

After walking back inside I noticed Twilight had a big grin on her face, and she was staring at me.

I shifted nervously. "What? Do I have a booger in my nose or something?"

She giggled and then continued grinning. "Steel and Luna sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G..."

I rolled my eyes, then smirked. "Well fine then...since you like to make fun of ponies, no more cuddles for you."

She gasped. "But that's not fair!"

I laughed before nuzzling her. "Aw, I was only kidding Twi. Besides, you make a good teddy bear."

She looked confused and asked, "What's a teddy bear?"

"It's a stuffed animal toy. It's used for the same thing that you used to use Smarty Pants for. Nice to snuggle." I explained.

She blushed. "Well then I'm flattered."

I smirked as I looked her in the eye. "You should be. Not just anyone gets to sleep in the same bed as me." With that I walked to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, when Twilight's gasp stopped me. I turned around and asked, "What?"

She pointed at me. "You got your cutie mark!"

I growled and facehoofed. "Ah man...I forgot to ask the princess about that."

She looked confused and asked, "Ask her about what?"

I walked closer to her and pointed to the new mark on my flank. "Look at the bottom right of the shield. What does that look like?"

She leaned in a bit to get a good look, and her mouth dropped open when she realized what was there. "That's Rainbow Dash's cutie mark...why is that there? You have a cutie mark on your cutie mark!"

'Yo dawg, I heard you like cutie marks...' "Shut up brain...not now..." I mumbled to myself.

Twilight was still bewildered. "When did this happen?" I then walked her through the whole morning with Rainbow Dash. After running through it, she was staring at me pensively. "Well...a couple things have happened." she said thoughtfully. "One, it seems that you activated a wing-enhancement spell. Since alicorns are the only ponies to have both wings and magic horns, they're the only ponies that can cast the spell. What's confusing is that with this as well as the other two spells you've learned, you seem to be using spells without even learning them. Secondly - and I might be wrong on this - it looks like Rainbow Dash's cutie mark is on yours because you protected her. I have to say, I've never seen a cutie mark like that. We should really ask the princesses about this."

I nodded. "Yeah, Dash said the same thing regarding my cutie mark. If you can, please send a letter to the princess so she knows about this. I'd really like to know what's going on, and something this rare...I'm sure she'd like to know about it."

The violet pony nodded in agreement and took out a parchment, quill, and ink well. She scribbled furiously for a few minutes and then placed her quill in the ink well. "There...I think that should be sufficient. Spike? Can you come here please?"

'Hmm...I wonder...' I raised a hoof and said, "Hey Twi, let me see that...I want to try something." She looked confused, but nodded and pushed the scroll across the table to me. I focused on Princess Celestia until I could feel her presence, then imagined the scroll going to her...almost asking it to. The scroll floated into the air covered by a silver aura, and then disappeared with a small flash and *pop* sound. I did a hoof-pump and exclaimed, "Yeah! I didn't think that would work. Who da man? I da man..."

Both the unicorn and dragon were in shock, but Twilight recovered first and asked, "Did you just do what I think you did?"

I shrugged. "Only one way to find out." A few minutes passed, and then Spike burped a green flame, out of which a scroll materialized. Twilight grabbed it with her magic and began to read. After a few minutes, she placed the scroll on the table and stared at me. "Well?" I asked.

She was so surprised, she looked as if she'd seen a book for the first time. "Well, the princess definitely wants to meet with you as soon as possible. Also, she put in here how the scroll you sent appeared like it did, instead of by Spike's green flame. She's confused to say the least."

I nodded with a smile. "Okay, well I promised Vinyl I'd see her tomorrow if I had free time. If you can send a letter back to the princess and tell her I'd be glad to meet her in the early morning, that'd be sweet." Twilight nodded and began to write another letter, while I cantered over to the kitchen. 'Things just get weirder and weirder...' I walked out with my glass of water just in time to see Spike burn up the scroll, sending it off to the princess. "So, this has been one hay of a day, would't you say?" I quipped.

Twilight nodded. "You're just one mystery after another. I'd ask to study you if I even had the slightest idea of how or where to start, but I'm completely baffled by all this."

I nodded in agreement. "Remember Twi, you're talking to a former-human who used to think this world was somewhere he would never get to see in his wildest dreams. Yet here I am. Baffled doesn't even begin to explain the way I'm feeling." Spike and Twilight laughed, and then Spike burped another scroll out.

Twilight grabbed it and read quickly through it before looking up at me. "Okay Steel, she'll be meeting you in the throne room at 07:00."

I looked at the clock and sighed. "Ah buck, it's almost 23:30. I'm going to take a shower and then I'm off to bed, Twi."

The mare nodded and said, "Okay, I'll be up in a minute."

Spike was grinning. "Steel and Twilight, sitting in a tree..." his voice faded as I entered the washroom.

I quickly washed the day off of my body, wincing as I brushed my left wing. A quick drying and brushing of teeth, and I headed off to bed. Twilight was sitting out on the balcony with the door open, so I trotted out and sat next to her.

She was looking up at the stars again.

"You know," Twilight started, "I used to look out at these stars when I was little. I used to wonder if there were other worlds out there. I used to have little daydreams about meeting an alien or something. Now...here you are."

I laughed and responded, "Well I'm hardly an alien, Twi. I speak the same language, have a lot of the same mannerisms, and I'm now even the same species as the princesses."

She nodded with a grin. "Yes, but you still come from another world, where so many things are different. It's exciting in a way."

I chuckled as I extended my good wing to cover her protectively. "Well then your dreams have come true I guess. Don't worry, I won't be taking you to my alien mothership or anything."

The mare laughed loudly as she looked up at me. "Good. I'm not so good with flying."

We headed back inside and I plopped down on the bed, laying on my back. After closing the doors and turning off the light, Twilight joined me, snuggling into my chest. I pulled the covers over us and she wrapped a foreleg around my stomach.

For a moment the unicorn was silent before whispering, "Hey Steel?"

I looked down, seeing her face in the darkness. "Yeah Twi?"

She sighed a bit before continuing with, "Did you have a marefriend back on Earth?"

I shrugged and answered, "Well on Earth we call them girlfriends, but yeah...I've had a few over the course of my life."

She was silent for a moment. "Would you ever date someone like Luna, or Rainbow Dash...or me?"

I sighed...I knew this would be coming sooner or later. "Yeah...I suppose I would. I care about all of you a lot, and friendship is a great foundation for any relationship."

She yawned and nuzzled my chest again. "Okay...well goodnight Steel."

I was a little confused, but smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Goodnight, Twi."

Author's Notes:


In case you haven't noticed, I use a 24-hour clock when referring to time, so as to avoid confusion. If you're one of the people that has trouble with that, just remember to add 12 to any hour from 1:00pm on and remove the "pm" to get a 24-hour scaled time. The inverse is true if going from 24-hour to 12-hour (subtract 12 from the hours if time is 13:00 or later and add a "pm", otherwise it's AM[12:00pm noon is the exception]).

The Princess and the Bass Drop

Chapter 6: The Princess and the Bass Drop

"Ugh...where am I? Wh-where are my clothes!" I exclaimed in surprise as I woke, then scrambled out of bed and fell backwards. I ended up falling off the bed and hit my muzzle on a dresser, which caused my nose to begin bleeding. I grumbled, "Great, just what I need this morning."

Twilight came running upstairs and burst through the bedroom door. "What's all the noi- oh Celestia, are you okay Steel?"

As the mare rushed over to check on me, I nodded. "Yeah yeah, I'll be fine. Just get me some tissues or gauze or something so I don't mess up your nice floor." She nodded and bolted out the door, returning a moment later with a wad of bathroom tissue, levitating it to my nose. I grabbed it and held it there with my hoof, shaking my head in frustration.

"So what happened?" she asked after a moment.

I chuckled and shrugged. "Well apparently my subconscious hasn't caught on to the fact that I don't wear clothes anymore. I woke up, realized I wasn't wearing anything, and freaked. Your dresser made a nice place to land my nose."

The unicorn grimaced as she looked at the soiled cloth, and I could swear I saw her heave a bit. "Maybe you should be more careful from now on. I'd hate to have to rush you to Ponyville General because you got out of bed the wrong way."

I laughed. "Yeah, it'd make a funny story though."

After stopping the bleeding from my now-sore nose, I floated downstairs to meet Darkflight and Spike. 'Walking is so overrated. Dash might be on to something.' My brother took one look at me and burst out laughing, Spike following suit.

"Ha ha ha, laugh it up guys." I said, grabbing a bottle of apple juice from the fridge. I reentered the main room and sat down at the table, looking at my brother. "Okay man, so first things first while I'm out and when I get back...we need to find jobs of some sort."

He frowned. "Yeah...I know. I just hope someone will hire me. Not many dragons around here."

I nodded as I took cracked open the juice bottle. "It'll be hard, but I don't feel right about mooching off of Twi. We need to contribute in some way. Go see Fluttershy, I'm sure she can help you out, or at least point you in the right direction."

He nodded in agreement before looking at me with a questioning gaze. "Wait...where are you going?"

I took a sip of juice and smacked my lips. 'That's damn good! I gotta get some more of this stuff...' "Well, I'll be heading back to the palace. Princess Celestia wants to see me about some things that have been going on regarding my magic."

Spike and Dark's eyes widened, and the smaller dragon asked, "You can do magic? Already? How is that even possible?"

I shrugged as I took another sip of the sweet drink. "I'm not really sure, but apparently I've already been able to cast three spells without practice, one of which shouldn't even exist."

My brother smirked. "Oh yeah? Well I can breathe fire...can you do that? I don't think so."

I laughed. "I'm an alicorn, Mace. I'm sure with enough training and practice I can do pretty much anything. All the same, my skin is awful squishy compared to yours, so you got me there." The black dragon grinned, but then I heard Twilight finally descending the stairs, a strange look on her face. "Umm Twi...are you ok? What's up?"

She looked at me and I could have swore she turned a little green. "S-sorry Steel. I'm just a little squeamish around blood. I'll be okay, I just need a glass of water."

I nodded, finishing off my juice and walking with Twilight to the kitchen to throw the bottle away. As I entered the kitchen, Twilight took one look at me, and started dry-heaving in the sink. I walked over to her and rubbed her back. "It's okay Twi, I'm here for you. I guess the good news is that at least you haven't had anything to eat yet."

She smiled weakly, and I handed a glass to her. She grimaced again and said, "Thanks Steel."

I frowned a bit and sighed. "Well I guess I better go then. I don't want to make you sicker, and I need to get to the palace. Hope you feel better Twi." She nodded and I left.

After stepping outside the library, I quickly took to the skies. I decided I'd cast the same spell I used in the race with Dash, so I focused on the same feeling I had at that time...even thinking of the need to go faster. I felt the same sensation of warmth in my wings, and the illusion of time slowing down, before I shot forward again, the same wave of electric white energy expanding in all directions. The mountain city that was once looming in the distance was coming up very fast, so since I had a feel on how my magic worked, I focused on the spell dissipating, and the warmth left my wings while I slowed down at the same time. I flared my wings and glided softly to the front gates to the surprise of the two guards stationed there.

Composing themselves quickly, the one on the left spoke in a stern manner to me. "State your name and business here."

I folded my wings at my sides, the left still throbbing with a bit of pain. "My name is Steelbreaker, and I was summoned by Princess Celestia."

The guards looked at each other and nodded, the one on the left again being the only one that spoke. "Very well, the princess is expecting you Steelbreaker. Follow me and I will escort you to the throne room." I nodded and followed the guard through the winding halls of the palace.

When we came upon two familiar massive doors with a diorama of the two princesses, and the guard knocked loudly.

"Please enter." said a familiar voice from inside. The guard pushed the door open and walked inside, with me following behind him. The sun princess was sitting on her throne, an infinitely warm yet infinitely comforting smile on her face. Upon reaching the thrones, the guard and I bowed respectfully. "You may rise." the princess said. As we both did so, the white alicorn nodded at the guard. "You may go, thank you." The guard nodded and proceeded out of the throne room, leaving just myself and the princess completely alone. Princess Celestia stood up and walked over to me, before surprising me with a hug. I gently returned the embrace and smiled when she broke it. "It is good to see you again, Steelbreaker. How are things?"

I shrugged. "Things seem to be going pretty well so far. We've come across an issue that will need solving, but nothing we can't handle, I think."

The solar princess raised an eyebrow and asked, "Oh, and what would that be?"

I smiled sheepishly. "Well your highness, my brother and I are now seeking employment somewhere, as we both feel we are being a burden on your student. I don't feel it's right to be taking advantage of hospitality, no matter how readily it's given."

The princess relaxed and smiled. "Well Steelbreaker, I am sure that you will be able to easily find employment in the town. Darkflight however will be a different matter. Though your announcement to the town yesterday was successful in quelling any fears the ponies would have of him, I believe it is safe to say they would still feel uncomfortable employing him.” She then placed a hoof on her chin for a moment as she thought, then looked back to me with a smile. “Perhaps I have a solution: I have need of a smithy here in the palace to forge the armor and weapons of the guards, as well as other metallic objects. If he is not successful in finding suitable employment in Ponyville, assure him that I have a career for him here if he's interested."

I nodded with a grateful expression. "Thank you princess...you are most kind. I will pass that information along when I return to the town."

She nodded, but then her face changed to inquiry. "So Steelbreaker, Twilight informs me of some big changes that have happened the past two days. May I see your cutie mark?"

I nodded and walked closer to the princess, as she gazed at the mark on my flank. Her face contorted to...confusion? "What is the matter princess?"

She brought her eyes back to mine with suspicion. "Steelbreaker, is that Rainbow Dash's cutie mark...on your cutie mark?"

I nodded. "Yes...Twilight and Dash seemed to have the same reaction. However, after I told Twilight the story of how it appeared, she seems to think that it looks like that because of the protection I extended to Dash. It makes sense, as my cutie mark appeared as it is right after that."

The princess seemed to mull it over for a moment before nodding. "Yes, that does make sense to me as well. Now, on to the second matter...you are able to cast magic as well I hear. And without training? This is unheard of, Steelbreaker. Even I and my sister were forced to train for days on end before mastering a spell. It appears you have an inborn ability for magic and its applications."

I cocked an eyebrow in confusion. "Inborn ability? That doesn't make sense...I was born a human. We don't even have real magic where I come from."

Princess Celestia looked confused, but responded with, "This is true that humans cannot use magic, but your mind and being was built to use it. Gaining the body of an alicorn seems to have awakened this latent attribute within you."

I mulled it over for a moment. "You know if you'd told me that four days ago, I'd have called you crazy...but it does make sense. So it's almost like...like I was born in the wrong world?"

She nodded. "Yes. My sister and I understand many things, but even we do not fully understand the pairing of essence to body. It is almost as if you were meant to be born into a world or universe that has magic, but things were changed at the last moment. I am curious as to just how versatile your magic is. What have you discovered thus far?"

I thought for a moment. "Well, I am able to use Spellspeech. I was able to access and interface with my mp3 player without even touching it, I am able to cast a wing-enhancement spell for flight, and I was the one that sent the first letter last night. Beyond that, I'm still learning my limitations."

She looked pensive for a moment before speaking. "Well Steelbreaker that is...unexpected. You appear to be a spellbender."

I just stared at her. "A spellbender? What's that?"

The alabaster pony giggled a bit and happily explained, "A spellbender is a powerful magic user that has the ability to both use and create spells with little or no training. Starswirl the Bearded was a spellbender, and it seems you are as well. This makes you only the second one in recorded history. The fact that you were able to interface with your music-player device confirms it, as the spell you used on it previously did not exist."

I was awestruck. "Wow...that's a lot to take in. So that means..."

Seemingly predicting what I was going to say, Princess Celestia answered for me. "Your power is only limited by your imagination, Steelbreaker. You may very well be more powerful than me someday."

I was a little taken aback...and suddenly scared. "Doesn't that worry you? I mean, what if I turn bad or something? Oh God, you're not going to lock me in the dungeon, are you? I wouldn't do well in that environment..."

The solar princess giggled and shook her head with a comforting smile. "Steelbreaker, I have seen your heart. Also, your cutie mark confirms my suspicion on the matter. Your talent - your calling - is to watch over and protect those dear to you. Hurting them or those they care about would go against your very being...something I have a feeling you would never allow yourself to do."

I thought about it a moment before nodding. "I could never do that. I'd die before I let myself do anything remotely like that."

The princess placed a hoof on my chest and grinned at me. "You see? You have nothing to worry about. Now then, that is all I wanted to ask you. You may go, but perhaps you would like to try out the limits of your capabilities with some teleportation?"

I bobbed my head, thinking. "I mean, I guess I could. Well, here goes. It was nice knowing you in case I screw this up or something."

I focused on the library, more specifically the front steps. I then imagined myself getting there as fast as possible...willing it to happen. I began to feel the air around me get colder, and a shiver elicited from my body. My body began to tingle, and then I saw a bright flash. When my eyes readjusted, I found myself standing outside the library.

I decided to contact Celestia, so I “cast” the Spellspeech spell. “Well, you were right princess, it worked. I'm okay.” I breathed a sigh of relief.

'That is good, Steelbreaker. Perhaps you should tell Twilight about your recent findings about yourself. I am sure she will be most excited to hear about it.'

I walked into the library to find Twilight sitting at the reading table with my iPod playing next to her and her eyes locked on a book.

I cleared my throat to get her attention and she looked up at me. "Oh hey Steel, you're back soon. So, what did you find out?"

I sat down next to her, grinning. "Well Twilight, it appears you've got your very own Starswirl the Bearded to study."

She looked confused and responded with, "I'm not sure what you mean, Steel. What's going on?"

I laughed. "Well, Celestia said that by what I told her, I'm a spellbender, like Starswirl was."

Twilight literally jumped out of her seat in shock. "WHAT?"

I winced, thinking she was going to hit me or something. "Umm...well maybe she's wrong, I don't know..."

The unicorn’s expression instantly changed to that of a massive smile. "No, this is AMAZING! To think that in over 3,000 years, you're only the second spellbender in history! This is incredible!"

By now she was in hysterics, so I calmly grabbed my iPod, exited the library, and walked into town.

I asked a few of the younger ponies for directions to Vinyl's house, and before I knew it I came upon a stark white, two story building with Vinyl's cutie mark on a flag. 'Seems fairly obvious...' I walked up to the door and knocked. It took a few seconds, but before I knew it I was staring at a black-maned gray earth pony.

I bowed my head slightly. "Ah, you must be Lady Octavia. It's a pleasure."

I looked up to see the gray mare staring at me in shock, and she whispered, "Oh my...Vinyl wasn't joking. W-well yes, I am Octavia. You must be Mr. Steelbreaker. Please come in, I will fetch Vinyl."

I took a seat on a large L-shaped red couch and patiently waited for my host to return.

Perspective change - Octavia

I was in utter shock as I made my way to the recording studio. 'An alicorn? I assumed for sure she was joking.' Much to my own disdain, I found myself a little...jealous of my best friend. She was as a sister to me, and I loved her as so. Still...I found myself oddly jealous of her. Jealous of her playful nature, of her confidence...of her unkempt style, even. I quickly pushed these thoughts aside as I entered the studio, the sounds of synthesized music filling the air. I pounded on the glass of the DJ booth, getting Vinyl's attention.

The music stopped and she sauntered out with a large grin on her face. "Hey there Tavi, what's shakin'?"

I faked a smile and simply replied, "He's here." If her smile was big before, it was enormous now. Vinyl nodded and we headed back to the living room.

Perspective change - Vinyl Scratch

I was sweating bullets. '...he's here! Okay Vinyl, calm down girl. Take a breath...play it cool. You got this.' I tried to compose myself to not look like a complete foal, which was hard enough on it's own. Not only was he a musician...but an alicorn! And he wanted to see me! I forced myself to calm down as we came up behind him.

He was relaxing on the couch in the living room with his eyes closed, singing some sort of song I'd never heard before. It sounded...sad, almost depressing. I turned the corner to see a tear roll down his cheek. Everything inside of me screamed to go and give him a huge hug...somehow I restrained myself. I still don't know how.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I was singing "Mama Said" to myself when I heard two ponies approaching from behind me. I slowly sat up and wiped a tear away from my eye and smiled at Vinyl and Octavia, who were standing in front of me, concerned looks on their faces.

"What?" I asked.

Vinyl stepped forward with concern and questioned, "Are you okay Steelbreaker?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I'm awesome. Why do you ask?"

Octavia approached me with a frown. "Well you were crying, Steelbreaker. And that song you were singing sounded just so...sad."

I sighed as I stretched a bit. "Yeah, that was a song from where I came from. I find it better when singing or playing a song to feel the emotion or emotions it's meant to convey. Makes for a much more passionate feel to the music. I'm not actually sad, it's just what the emotion was at that point during the song. It was loss, pain, and regret. If those didn't make you sad, I don't know what would."

The two ponies seemed to accept this, as they both broke out in soft grins. I stood off the couch on my two hind legs, arching my back to pop it.

Vinyl gasped. "Wow you're tall."

I laughed and dropped to all four hooves. "Nah, I don't walk around town like that. It just happens to be the easiest way to get the kinks out of my back." Both of the mares mouthed an 'Oh'. I then held up my iPod and asked, "So Vinyl, Octavia...how about we get to the music?"

Vinyl looked very confused. "What's that?"

I chuckled and held the device where she could see it. "This my lady, is what's known as an mp3 player. It holds and plays music. I have over twenty-thousand songs on here that can be played at any time." A gasp was heard from both of them, so I simply winked. "I'll show you exactly what I mean. I take it you have a recording studio in this place?" Vinyl nodded slowly. "Okay then, take me to it and I'll show you what I'm talking about." Vinyl nodded and the two mares led the way to the recording studio.

When we arrived, I was amazed at just how similar the music equipment and the DJ booth was to those back on Earth. I turned to the DJ and asked, "Okay then. Do you have an auxiliary cable?"

Vinyl looked confused. "An oxhill-what now?"

I facehooved and picked up a pair of headphones laying on the PA system, then pointed to the end of the cord coming out of them. "It's a cord that has two ends on it that look like this."

The unicorn nodded and smiled. "Yeah. It's something I came up with about a month ago. Really helps with hooking up my equipment. I got one around here somewhere, gimme a sec." With that she rummaged around in a small bin beside the door. "Aha! Here it is. Here ya go Steel."

I took the cable from her and hooked up my mp3 player to the PA system. I turned the levels on halfway and routed the sound to the speakers in the booth.

I then looked at Octavia with a smile. "First, something for you, Octavia. This is a piece of music I often listen to when I have trouble sleeping. It's called 'Gentle'." I used a bit of magic to get the player to play the song I referred to, and set it aside while Octavia listened to the music. The soft, haunting melody filled the air, and Octavia closed her eyes, seemingly lost in the music. Vinyl of course, looked a little bored. I smirked at her and connected with her mind. “Don't worry Vinyl, I'll play a song for you next. You're really going to like it.” The unicorn smiled at me and nodded as the song continued.

Eventually, the music ended and Octavia had tears in her eyes. The earth-pony looked up at me and said, "That was quite possibly the most beautiful piece of music I've ever heard. Did you write that?"

I barked a laugh and shook my head. "No Octavia I didn't, but I'm glad you liked it. It is one of my favorite pieces of contemporary classical music. My skill in music writing lies in three genres known as 'blues', 'rock', and 'metal'. In all honesty I don't know if you'd like them. They're a bit...heavy." I looked at Vinyl and nodded, then changed the music to "Rock 'n' Roll" by Skrillex, while turning up the bass channels on PA system. Both of the girls were nodding their heads to the music up until the first bass drop. Octavia's face changed to one of fascination, and Vinyl had the single biggest smile I'd ever thought possible on her face.

When the song finished, both of them were speechless. Vinyl found her voice first and stuttered out, "What...what was that? That was amazing!"

I smiled. "That my dear, is known as dubstep. It's a new form of electronic music. Before you ask, no I didn't come up with that. I love the music, but if you want someone that could show you how to make it, you might want to ask Darkflight."

We spent most of the rest of the day playing different songs from my mp3 player and drinking some sort of sweet liquor that Vinyl had(man, that stuff packed a punch though). To my surprise, Octavia actually liked most of the songs. Yet another misconception from the TV show I'm glad was wrong. The only one she didn't like was Ice Cube's "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do it", because of all the swearing. The sun had gone down before we knew it and I bid goodnight to them and left. Too lazy to fly all the way back to the library, I simply teleported again to the front door and walked in. Luna was there to greet me, much to my surprise. I smiled and approached her.

Perspective change - Luna: 1 hour earlier

I had chosen to visit Twilight Sparkle and Steelbreaker after raising the moon, as night court had been canceled on account of a storm scheduled that night in Canterlot. I flew gracefully on the cool air currents of early evening towards Ponyville, the town I had come to adore. I landed softly outside the front door to the town's library - Twilight Sparkle's home - and knocked on the door.

I heard a deep voice shout, "I got it Spike!" from inside, and moments later I was welcomed by a large black dragon.

I smiled warmly and greeted, "Hello Darkflight, it is good to see you again. I am not intruding, am I?"

He shook his head. "You're not intruding at all, Princess Luna. We were just chillin' out. Twilight was expecting you, I think." The tall drake then waved me inside.

I entered to be met with the sight of Steelbreaker's mother and sister playing a game of chess at the reading table. They both waved and smiled at me before returning to their game, fierce eyes locked on the board.

Twilight must have heard the door, as she stepped downstairs to greet me. "Oh hello Luna, it's great to see you again. Steelbreaker's not here right now, but he should be back soon. Would you like some tea while we wait?"

I nodded. "Yes, tea would be lovely Twilight. Thank you."

I watched the young mare leave, and smiled in thought.

Twilight held a special place in my heart. She was my first true friend upon my release from the curse of Nightmare Moon. She was the only one who actually took the time to try and integrate me into the world I had been away from for so long on my first Nightmare Night, and thankfully, she also tutored me in the modern way of speaking, as I was told that my somewhat archaic speech was outdated. While some situations still present themselves that I find myself unable to handle well, I would not be where I am today without her friendship and guidance.

Twilight's voice snapped me out of my thoughts, as she voiced, "Helloooo, Luna? You there?"

I shook my head to clear the mental cobwebs and nodded with a smile. "Yes Twilight, I apologize." The young unicorn levitated a small mug of tea to me, and I nodded my head in thanks. "Thank you Twilight, I appreciate your hospitality."

The mare across from me held her hoof up dismissively and happily replied, "No need to thank me, Luna. You're a good friend...you're always welcome here."

I smiled warmly. It was always nice to be reminded that I actually had friends, even after what Nightmare Moon did. Twilight and I sat at reading table, sipping our tea. I could tell she had something on her mind, and while I could simply sift through it to find out, I chose not to betray her trust in such a way.

I sipped the wonderful tea and asked, "Twilight, what is bothering you? You obviously have something on your mind."

The young mare knew by now that she could trust me, so she didn’t bother hiding the fact. "Well...it's Steelbreaker."

I was not surprised. Truth be told, I had often found myself thinking of him as well. He is just so...different, but in a good way. I could not decipher whether it was because he was from a different world, or because of his personality. One of the matters that made him unique in my eyes was the fact that he treated me as an equal. In normal society, this would be considered an outrage. However the way he did it, it was in no way disrespectful. Tia did not mind the royal treatment from her subjects, but I was not so fond of it. Before Twilight, I would find myself yearning for the informal connection that two friends share. With Steelbreaker, it is different though. There is something else I feel when I am around him, though it is a feeling I am unfamiliar with. I attempted to consult dear sister, only to have her giggle and tell me I should see Steelbreaker.

I broke out of my momentary thought and addressed Twilight. "Well Twilight, I often find myself thinking of him as well. He is..."

"Different," we both said successively. We both looked at each other and giggled.

After finishing tea, we both retreated to the large couch in the main room of the library. Just after sitting down, I noticed a bright flash outside the windows of the library. I stood to investigate, and the door opened to reveal Steelbreaker, smiling.

He strode up to me and embraced me in a hug, bringing a blush to my cheeks. "Good evening, my lovely Luna. It's wonderful to see you again."

I felt my heart flutter at his greeting and I returned the hug, drinking in his warmth. "Good evening, Steelbreaker. I am happy to see you as well." I released him and gazed into his eyes, noticing a power within them I had not seen before. As he turned away to greet Twilight, I noticed something on his flank...a cutie mark? When did that happen? "Steelbreaker, when did you receive your cutie mark?"

He glanced back at his flank and relayed a story to me from yesterday of how he had been racing Rainbow Dash to the town square before Darkflight's unveiling, only to accidentally activate a wing-enhancement spell and collide with her. He told me of how he had saved her from serious injury or death, and had found his cutie mark after waking from unconsciousness.

I glanced at the cutie mark again, and upon noticing the mark in a corner, I blurted out, "Is that Rainbow Dash's cutie mark?”

He grinned and nodded. "Yeah. Apparently it's connected to the fact that I protected Dash from falling to her doom. Not sure how though, but there it is." I found myself strangely...jealous of Rainbow Dash. I wish he cared about me as much as he does her. “I care about both you and Twilight just as much as I do Dash, Luna.”

I jumped in surprise and mentally shot back, “Did you just invade my thoughts?”

He smirked. “I don't have to in order to know what you were thinking. I may not be as old as you or Celestia, but that doesn't make me stupid.”

I smiled. “You know too much for your age, Steelbreaker.”

He laughed and out loud replied, "Yeah...that's what a lot of people have said to me."

Twilight looked confused and muttered, "I feel so left out right now."

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I laughed and nuzzled the violet unicorn, and she giggled and fell back onto the sofa. I joined her as did Luna, sitting on the other side of me. I extended my wings and pulled them close, both of them letting out a contented sigh. Luna repositioned herself to lay her head in my lap as Twilight had a few nights ago, and I softly stroked her mane. I noticed my sister walking downstairs, and as she passed she just looked at me, shook her head, and headed to the kitchen.

It was still early in the evening and Twilight, Luna, and I all sat together, talking about me again (big surprise). To me, I was nothing special, but to these two ponies, I was fascinating. What seemed to fascinate them the most was the fact that Earth's sun and moon move of their own accord. This turned into a crash-course on physics and mathematics, much to the boredom of Luna. At around 22:30, I walked to the kitchen and grabbed three bottles of Applejack’s hard cider that Rainbow Dash had left for us.

We all drank a bit, getting a little intoxicated.

We somehow got on the subject of sexual relations between humans. Apparently that little voice that normally tells me to steer the conversation away from that - no matter how interested these two are - was a little drunk, and was taking a nap. 'Thanks brain...you dropped the ball again.' Luckily Luna seemed to be keeping her cool, but I could tell Twilight was getting turned on. I was luckily just sober enough to stop the conversation right then and suggest we go to bed.

We all proceeded to head up to Twilight's room, as apparently Luna would be spending the night. I didn't mind, I liked her. She was cool for a princess...not that I've known any princesses before her. I gargled some mouthwash and flopped down on my back on the bed, closing my eyes. Luna had gone with Twilight to brush her teeth, so I rested my eyes.

I must have fallen asleep, because I didn't even hear them come in, and the next thing I know, I'm being kissed. My eyes shot open, and I find myself looking at Twilight, her eyes closed.

I pushed the unicorn off and said, "Twilight, I'm sorry...I'm not ready for this yet."

She smiled seductively as did Luna, and she responded, "Who said you have a choice?" Luna winked in agreement, and they both started advancing towards the bed.

'Shit gotta get out of here...think, think!' At spur of the moment, I teleported out of there to the first place that came to mind...the meadow where I first met Rainbow Dash.

Perspective change - Twilight Sparkle

I rubbed my eyes, having been blinded by the teleportation spell Steel had cast. 'Wait...teleportation? He teleported? How the hay...' I was so confused...and then suddenly...ashamed. I looked at Luna, and it was apparent she was feeling the same way. "We shouldn't have done that...I don't know what came over me." I said. She nodded. "Yes...I fear we have just destroyed a friendship." She began to cry, and before I knew it, I started to shed tears too. What if he hates us now? What if he doesn't want to stay in Ponyville anymore? What if he wants to...go back? This thought made me cry even harder. I wanted to find him...to say I was sorry, but I had no idea where to look. With that, Luna and I had no other choice but to go to sleep, and hope by some miracle he actually comes back. 'Please Celestia...please let him come back...'

Perspective change - Rainbow Dash

I woke up to the sound of something that sounded like thunder, and I grumbled curses to myself as floated downstairs to my living room. 'What the hay...there's not supposed to be a storm tonight...' I opened my front door and took a look around. 'Hmm...no clouds. Wait, what's that? Is that...?' I looked down at the field below me and saw a familiar figure.

"Steel?" I voiced.

The silver stallion looked up at me and smiled. "Hiya Dash. You wouldn't mind giving me a place to stay for the night, would you?"

I was a little confused, but always happy to see Steel, so I beckoned him. "Sure, come inside." He disappeared and reappeared in front of me in a flash, and my vision swam with spots in front of my eyes. I was confused before I realized what happened. "Did you just teleport?"

He laughed and nodded. "Yeah, and that's like the fifth time I've heard that exact question today."

This guy was a mystery, but in all honesty I was too tired to figure it out right now, so I just let him inside and closed the door behind me. "Well Steel, it's late so let's just go to bed. You can bunk with me unless you prefer the couch." I tried to act like I didn't really care., but I secretly hoped he'd want to share with me though. I really liked him a lot...I just hoped I was doing a good job at hiding it.

He shrugged. "Well if you're cool, I'm cool. Lead the way, Dashie." My heart lept into my throat when he said that little nickname. Pinkie had come up with it, but when he said it...it was different.

We got to my room and got into bed. I snuggled up next to him, feeling so safe with him next to me. I'd never tell him, but what he did for me - when he saved me - I think I started to like him as more than a friend. I'm not so good with feelings, so I decided to keep quiet until I had things figured out. Something was bothering me though...

"Hey Steel?" I whispered, getting his attention.

He looked down at me. Maybe it's me, but his eyes look a little different... "Yeah Dashie?"

I smiled...I love when he calls me that. I looked at him with uncertainty and asked, "Well it's not that I don't enjoy you being here, but why aren't you at Twilight's house? Did she kick you out or something?"

He shook his head. "No, I left."

I was shocked. I knew for a fact that he considered all of us friends, so for him to just leave like that, something big must have happened. So, I asked the most obvious question... "Oh...um why did you leave? Did something happen?"

He nodded. "I could tell you, but you probably wouldn't believe me. I think it's better if I just show you." He leaned in close and touched his horn to my head...and everything went white.

The next thing I knew I was looking at Twilight's face in front of mine...was she kissing me? No...no she's not, this must be what happened. Oh...oh wow. Both Luna and Twilight? What's wrong with them?

With that, my vision returned and I found myself looking up at Steel. "Wow Steel...I'm really sorry that happened. Any idea why they were acting that way?"

He pursed his lips in thought and replied, "Well we were polishing off three bottles of hard cider and talking on the couch. Somehow the conversation veered towards sexual relations between two humans."

I laughed and nodded. "Ah...well that'd do it, Steel. Ponies don't really talk about that kind of stuff to somepony they're not 'special friends' with. That plus alcohol makes trouble for you."

He nodded with a sheepish smile. "Yeah, I didn't really think that through. To my credit though, I've had a bit to drink too, so that's probably why I wasn't thinking clearly."

I giggled and tapped his forehead with my hoof. "I can't watch out for you all the time, Steel."

He chuckled heartily, then frowned. "Y'know, I had to get out of there fast, but I have a feeling that Luna and Twilight aren't feeling too good about it now."

I nodded with a sigh. "Yeah...they probably think you hate them now or something. You don't, do you? I hope you don't...they didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

He smiled such a warm smile and brushed a bit of my mane out of my eyes, causing my heart to melt. "I could never hate any of you girls. Misunderstandings happen all the time, and I'm not going to let one as small as that little situation ruin a good thing."

I knew there was a reason I was friends with him. I smiled before saying, "Well I'm glad you feel like that, Steel. You should probably make sure to clear everything up with them tomorrow."

He sighed and nodded. "Yeah I will. I'm just thinking of how to do that without hurting their feelings too much."

I was confused at his answer, so I asked, "Well what do you mean by that?" He was silent. "Why would you hurt their feelings, Steel?" I asked a little more forcefully.

He sighed as his eyes closed. "Well...I really like you girls. You’re some of the best friends I’ve had, and I don't want to have to make a choice because I don't want to lose any of you...you're all so great."

I cocked my head up at him. "What do you mean make a choice? Oh...oh I get it."

He nodded. "Yeah...” For a few seconds there was silence, but I eventually submitted myself to laughter, and he just stared at me. "What? What are you laughing at." I laughed even harder, my sides starting to hurt, and he just huffed in frustration and said, "Okay Dash enough, it's not that funny. What are you laughing about?"

I coughed a bit, trying to catch my breath. Once I had composed myself, I moved closer against him and said, "You don't have to make a choice Steel."

He sighed. "Well I can't just leave you girls hanging Dash. That's not fair to any of you...but at the same time I'm just afraid of losing one or all of you."

I giggled (yes, I giggled. I’m still a mare, darn it). "No Steel, that's not what I meant. It's socially accepted - almost expected - for stallions to be polygamous."

His eyes widened. "What? Wow...I was not expecting that."

I laughed and nodded, elaborating with, "Think about it Steel...how many stallions have you seen around here? There's a five to one ratio of mares to stallions in Ponyville, and it doesn't change much across the rest of Equestria. No pony knows why, but it's always been like that. If each stallion was only with one mare, that'd leave the majority of the population of Equestria alone. Nopony wants to be alone. I mean, some stallions are perfectly happy with just one mare, but it's almost encouraged for stallions to take more than one marefriend."

He was silent, thinking about it I guess. When he finally spoke, it was with a sigh of relief. "Well...I have to be honest, that definitely makes sense. It's going to take some getting used to though." I took a chance, and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. He looked down and smiled, kissing me on the top of the head. "Goodnight Dashie."

His care suffused me with warmth, and I smiled up at him as my eyes closed. "Goodnight Steel."

The Beast Within

Chapter 7: The Beast Within

I woke up to bright light invading my personal space, on my eyelid. I moved my head out of the way and attempted to slip back into peaceful slumber, only to have the invading light back on my eyes again. "Alright alright, I'm up." I grumbled to no one. I looked down to see Dash curled up at my side like a little dog. 'Daww…' I softly stroked her mane with a hoof and she stirred in her sleep. She mumbled something about Fluttershy…I couldn't really make it out.

She moved around a bit and yawned before looked up at me, smiling. "Morning, Steel." She wrapped her hooves around me and nuzzled into my side. 'Dammit…why do these girls have to be so damn cute?'

"Good morning Dashie. Did you sleep well?" I asked the pegasus.

She nodded with another cute yawn. "I always sleep well when you're next to me," she said, blushing a bit.

A day ago such a response would've made me feel a pang of guilt, but after what Dash told me last night about how relationships work here, I didn't feel bad about it anymore. Being an ex-human that was raised in only monogamous relationships, it was going to take some getting used to, but now I don't have to worry about hurting these girls that I've grown to care a lot for.

As I sat up and stretched I mumbled, "Hey Dashie?"

The mentioned pony blushed a little and smiled at me. "Yeah Steel?"

I smiled warmly back at her and said, "Thanks for last night. What you told me really put my mind at ease."

She giggled and shrugged. "Well I don't know if you should be thanking me for just telling you something that everypony knows, but…you're welcome I guess?" I nodded, and with that we got out of bed to get cleaned up.

Both of us had decided to go straighten things out with Luna and Twilight, so we prepared to make our way to the unicorn’s abode. I asked Dash to teleport with me, but she said she preferred to fly, so I followed her through the air towards the library. When we landed, I felt a little nervous.

Rainbow Dash must have noticed because she put a comforting hoof on my shoulder. "It'll be okay Steel. Like you said, it's just a misunderstanding." I nodded and opened the door.

Twilight and Luna were sitting on the couch in the main room. They both looked up at Dash and I when we entered, then quickly lowered their heads again in shame. I could hear sniffles from them both as they started crying. To remedy this, I quickly strode over to the sofa, sitting between them.

Before they could say anything, I pulled both teary-eyed mares into a firm hug. "Girls, it's okay. I don't hate you and I'm not mad."

This seemed to brighten their moods a bit and they finally looked at me. Twilight spoke first. "I-I'm so sorry S-Steel…we didn't mean to make you uncomfortable like that. We just…"

I wrapped my wings around them protectively, and they nuzzled into my neck. I cracked a smile and responded, "Girls, I was a little uncomfortable at first. Humans as a whole are raised to choose one mate and one only. Dash explained to me how things work here in Equestria though, so I understand a lot more now. I'm sorry but I just didn't want to have to pick one of you, because I care about all of you. I was afraid that by choosing I'd be losing one or all of you, so I instead opted not to make a choice instead. In retrospect, that wasn't a good choice either."

Luna looked up at me. "S-so you are not angry with us?"

I shook my head. "I have three beautiful mares that like me…how can I be mad about that?" Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rainbow Dash's face scrunched up, so I added, “Don't worry Dash, you can be beautiful and awesome at the same time." The mentioned pegasus showed a smile so big I was afraid her face would split apart, while Luna and Twilight giggled.

Twilight then nudged me and said, "I'm so happy you don't hate us, Steel. I'm sorry…I was just worried I guess."

The night princess nodded in agreement. "I am guilty of that fear as well, Steel. I apologize…I should not have worried."

I chuckled and explained, "Fear is simply the verification that you're still sane and care enough to be afraid, Luna. That fear is a good thing, I assure you."

Luna laughed loudly for a few moments before responding with, "You see Steel that is what I am referring to. You seem to be much more mature than your age suggests. It is confusing sometimes. I find myself forgetting I am the elder, and not the other way around."

I chuckled. "Don't get me wrong, I love to have fun. Sometimes I can be brash and daring, like Dashie. Other times, I can be wild and crazy like Pinkie Pie. I'm versatile like that. I'm just an old soul; I've not experienced much more than others my age…I just happened to gather more from each experience – learned more."

I said with a smile. Twilight giggled. "Way to convince us of your age, old man. No wonder your coat is silver colored."

I shrugged. "Gray hair is the crown of wisdom, gained from years of life and experiences garnered through strife."

Dash stared at me. "Wow…that's deep Steel."

I grinned and shrugged. "Meh, I have my moments. So, it's been awhile since you guys have seen your other friends and I would like to get to know the Element of Kindness better. What say we go visit Fluttershy and see what she's up to?"

They all nodded, so I walked downstairs. "Hey Mace, what's up man?"

An imposing figure came to the doorway, and the dragon smiled. "Oh hey bro. Not much going on here, just decorating a bit. What's up?"

"Well the girls and I are heading over to Fluttershy's for a bit. Hold the fort down until we get back, okay?" I explained quickly.He nodded, so I started to head out, but then turned around. "Oh, I almost forgot, Princess Celestia says that if you can't find work here in Ponyville, she's in need of a smithy in the palace if you're interested."

The black dragon smiled a large toothy grin. "Dude, that'd be awesome. Next time you see her, tell her I'm more than interested."

I nodded. "Will do, Mace. Alright, we're heading out. See ya." And with that, we all left.

Perspective change – Fluttershy

I was outside in my garden watering the flowers, humming a tune my mother used to sing to me when I heard a pained chirp from behind me. I turned around to see a small blue jay with what looked like blood on its coat, and a panicky expression on its face. "Oh my word, are you hurt mister blue jay?" I rushed over only for him to hold up a wing and shake his head. It motioned for me to follow and I followed without a second thought into the Everfree Forest after him.

I found myself afraid after realizing I was in the forest. 'No Fluttershy, you can't afford to be afraid. He needs you to be strong! Be like Rainbow Dash, you can do this!' With a rush of courage, I ran further into the forest to where the blue jay had stopped. I saw another blue jay holding its wing in a tree, a frightened expression in its eyes. It seemed to be waving me away. I then heard a growl in front of me. I looked through the trees to find a large figure approaching me. I couldn't move, I was frozen in fear.

Perspective change – Steelbreaker

We were trotting to Fluttershy's house when suddenly we all heard a scream of terror.

Dash stopped in her tracks. "Oh no…that's Fluttershy! C'mon, we need to find her!"

Rainbow Dash took off like a rocket, but I had other plans. I focused on Fluttershy's essence…the soft-spoken, caring, and loving pony. I found her without much trouble, and focused on getting to her.

The next thing I knew, I found myself standing in front of her. Her expression was shock and terror, and then I realized why. I heard a growl from behind me, and I turned to see a large animal approaching. It had the body of a wolf, but looked like it was covered in an armor made from wood, as if a tree and wolf had merged together…a timberwolf. The beast seemed to have a confused expression on its face for a moment, before it changed to one of aggression. It charged. I locked eyes with it and stood my ground, then focused on my magic and changed my voice to that of a wolf, and made it louder and deeper than usual. I let loose a deep threatening growl, sounding more like a demon than an animal. The beast stopped charging, and instead slowly walked up until it was standing in front of me. It was almost as large as me with glowing green eyes, but stopped advancing and sat down on its haunches about a foot away from me, looking at me with a quizzical expression. I smiled and the wolf's demeanor immediately changed to that of a playful puppy, wagging its branch-like tail with what I could only deduce was a smile. It nuzzled up against my face, and I chuckled.

Fluttershy was awestruck and barely stuttered out, "H-h-how…how did you do that?"

I was confused and asked, "What do you mean, Fluttershy?"

The mare’s mouth was hanging open in shock as I continued to pet the large wolf, and I had to restrain a laugh. After a few seconds she finally found her voice again and said, "I-I mean I've never been able to do that with a timberwolf. I usually run whenever I see one!"

I shook my head. "Predator Behavior 101: Never run from a predator unless you’re absolutely positive you can get away." I rubbed my hoof on the wolf's side. "This wolf here seems to be more intelligent than the wolves from where I came from, but the predator instinct still exists. If you run from any predator animal, you'll activate a chase instinct within it. For example, if you were to come across a manticore, you’d be better off crouching to show you're not a threat as you slowly backed away. Remember that, it might save your life." The mare smiled, and a small flash came from behind me. I looked at where it came from…my flank. Fluttershy's cutie mark had appeared to the left of Dash's, so I motioned the yellow mare over to me. "Hey Fluttershy, I forgot to tell you about me getting my cutie mark. Great huh? But take a look at it closely…"

She nodded and looked at the mark on my flank, then gasped. "That's mine and Rainbow Dash's cutie marks!" I nodded and proceeded to tell her the story of how I got it. At the end, she was beaming. "I'm so proud of you Steel! That's great!" She then jumped at me and gave me a hug…one that I happily returned.

"Thanks Fluttershy." I whispered before releasing her and turning my attention to the wolf that was standing behind us. I furrowed my brow. "I wonder if…"

Fluttershy looked confused and timidly asked, "What?"

I moved closer to the wolf, holding up a hoof in her direction to keep her calm and still. "Hold on, I want to try something." I looked into the wolf's eyes, hoping it would understand me. "Hold still for just a moment…I'm not going to hurt you." The wolf just stared at me, but didn't move. I focused on what I hoped would be an enchantment – one I hoped would give the wolf the ability to completely understand and speak our language through Spellspeech. I touched the wolf's head with my horn, and my horn flashed as the wolf backed away a bit. I could see what looked like a Nordic rune on the wolf's head, and it flashed briefly before disappearing. I decided to test it the spell to see if it worked, so I focused on finding the wolf's consciousness. I found one close to me…young, proud, and strangely intelligent. “Hello there…can you hear me?” The wolf looked around, trying to find the source of the voice, so I tapped my hoof on the ground and the wolf looked back at me. “It's me. I'm the voice in your head.”

The wolf looked bewildered, and I heard a voice within my head say, “This does not make sense…whoa! What was that?” The wolf suddenly looked frightened and yelped.

I chuckled and placed a hoof on the wolf's back, causing it to look at me again. “That is your voice. I've given you the ability to understand and communicate with us through our minds.”

The wolf then stepped forward and gave a sort of smile. “Well I thank you, Mr…um…”

I finished for him with, “Steelbreaker, my name is Steelbreaker. Do you have a name?”

The wolf sat down in front of me and answered, “No, I do not. Not much use for names in a society that doesn't speak your tongue.'

I nodded. “I understand. Would you like to choose a name for yourself?'

The wolf nodded and looked into the sky with a comparatively soft expression, at least for him. “I have always liked that great white ball in the sky when the dark comes. I would be honored to be named after that.”

I shrugged. “Well there is already one who shares a derivative of the name of that object, the moon. Her name is Luna, and she is actually the goddess of the moon.” I tapped a hoof on my chin in thought before adding, “Hmm…how about Moonfang? I think it suits you.”

The wolf seemed to contemplate the idea before looking up at me with those glowing green eyes. “Yes…yes that would work. I thank you for your gift to me and the name.”

I smiled and gestured to Fluttershy. "Moonfang, this is Fluttershy.” I then turned to the pegasus and gestured to the wolf. “Fluttershy, this is Moonfang. I have bestowed upon him the gift of Spellspeech as a way to communicate with us. No creature this intelligent should be left out of intelligent conversation." Fluttershy suddenly jumped a bit - no doubt Moonfang had introduced himself. I looked at the wolf and pointed to the pale yellow pony. "Moonfang, Fluttershy is the caretaker of animals, large and small. I assure you she will be a friend to you and is no threat to you. I apologize if she was encroaching upon your territory."

The wolf simply shook his head. “Actually Steelbreaker, I am an outcast from my pack. I challenged the alpha and lost. I am now a lone wolf, and I have no territory of my own.”

I nodded. "Well Moonfang, I am sure Fluttershy here would enjoy befriending a proud and noble being such as yourself." I continued in Spellspeech. “She is rather timid with meeting new ponies, so she may be shy at first. I assure you, she is a good friend to have though. Be patient with her…you will find no pony more kind than her.”

I could feel the grateful feeling the wolf had towards me and while he couldn’t really smile, he did look thankful somehow. “Yes…a friend would be nice. Thank you Steelbreaker. I do hope to befriend you as well.”

I chuckled. “Already done, noble Moonfang. I ask that when I am not around, you please watch after this young pony.”

He nodded and stood beside Fluttershy protectively. “I will protect her as if she were one of my own pups.”

As we three started to walk through the forest, we passed by Zecora's hut to find that she was not home. Undeterred, we continued on and soon saw the the other girls up ahead, exiting the forest.

"Hey girls!" I called, causing the three mares to look back at me, and then at Moonfang…fear suddenly clouded their eyes. I shook my head as we continued our approach. "Girls it's alright. Fluttershy is safe, unharmed, and in no danger." They all relaxed a bit, but were still on edge.

“I don't think they like me.” said Moonfang only to me.

I leaned over to him and whispered just loud enough for him to hear, “Well perhaps you should introduce yourself."

The wolf nodded and trotted next to me. I stopped before reaching my friends as did Moonfang, both of us taking a seat on our haunches. Moonfang spoke for all to hear, “Hello, my name is Moonfang. I am a friend to Steelbreaker and I assure you I mean no harm to your Fluttershy.” I chuckled a bit when all of my friend's jaws dropped open, save for Fluttershy.

Luna's eyes were wide with disbelief. "Did it just use Spellspeech?"

I nodded. I relayed the entire meeting with Moonfang to all of them, and they asked questions here and there.

Luna was still confused. "How did you cast such a spell though? I do not even know of such an enchantment."

Twilight spoke up. "He's a spellbender, Luna. Princess Celestia confirmed it yesterday."

I nodded in agreement and Luna's confusion melted away as she smiled. "Well Steel, it appears there is more to you than meets the eye." She turned her gaze back to the timberwolf, who was patiently waiting to be addressed. "Moonfang, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am Luna, princess of the moon and the night. I must say I had never thought I would have a conversation with a timberwolf."

The wolf gave a wag of his tail and replied, “I never thought I would be befriending ponies, so it appears both of our assumptions were incorrect.”

Luna nodded and turned to me. "I like him already. He reminds me of you in a way."

I chuckled and added, "Well he's also quite the fan of your work, Luna. He asked to be named after your moon. He considers it an honor."

Luna was beaming at this point. Though things were better for her than they once were, it was still uncommon for someone to revel in her moon the same or more than Celestia's sun.

Luna turned back to the wolf and stated, "Well Moonfang, you honor me. I thank you for that."

The timberwolf bowed his head in reverence. “The honor is mine, Lady Moon”

Luna blushed at the compliment, while Rainbow Dash smirked. The cyan pegasus remarked, "Geez you two, get a room." Everyone laughed at this, even Moonfang.

After we had all finished our laughter, I looked to the wolf beside me. "Moonfang, I wish to give you another gift. I will bestow upon you all my knowledge of how ponies interact, along with social etiquette. Hopefully this will make settling into this new life much easier than it was for Luna. After you've settled in a bit, we will hold a meeting with the town to introduce you. Hopefully this will soon allow you to be readily accepted into the general populace. I will help with this matter." I placed my horn on his head again, and it flashed. I felt our minds merge for a moment, feeling his mind learning from mine. A few seconds later I pulled away.

The wolf opened his eyes and yipped in approval. “Ah, thank you Steelbreaker, this will be of great help to me. I appreciate it.”

I nodded, then looked at Fluttershy. "Fluttershy, I would like Moonfang to stay with you if that's alright."

The shy pegasus looked over at the large wolf for a moment, then smiled. "Yes, I think that would be alright. I'll need to explain to Angel what's going on, but I think everything will be okay."

I nodded. "Well, we were headed over to your place anyway Fluttershy. Lead the way."

Perspective change - Moonfang

The ponies and I walked towards the one called Fluttershy's home.

I was a little apprehensive at first towards the actions of the silver pony called Steelbreaker, but not without gratitude. A timberwolf without its pack is lost and alone...I was greatly thankful for such an act of kindness from a being I've never come upon before. It is odd...the very concept of friendship is foreign to me, but it feels...right. In a timberwolf pack, there is only family, allies, and rivals. There is no such thing as friendship, nor emotions for that matter. During the actions that Steelbreaker had taken on me, I had developed a self-consciousness about myself. I was aware that I felt now...I was aware that I was. Not physically, but...something else. When a pony would compliment me or treat me with kindness...I felt good. My newfound knowledge told me this was happiness. It is confusing to say the least. It is as if I had been born without the ability to smell...only to have the sense suddenly awaken.

As we arrived at the tree line, I became nervous. One of the things a timberwolf learns early in life is to never leave the forest. To do so results in exile from the pack, and possibly death.

Steelbreaker seemed to notice this and looked back at me. "Moonfang, what's bothering you? I promise, it's safe. No one but Fluttershy or her friends ever come out this far. No pony is going to see you."

I stared at him for a moment and nodded. He is obviously very wise...it is best I trust him, as he seems to know what he is talking about. I advanced with the group, and I soon found myself at a cozy abode near a stream.

I suddenly realized something and thought I should ask Steelbreaker for clarification. “Steelbreaker, something important has just come to my attention.”

He stopped and looked back at me. "Yes?"

I thought it best to just be honest. “Your friends...they do know I hunt and eat other living things, right? From what I understand, ponies only eat plants.”

He frowned. “Ah yes, that may be a problem. I apologize, I seem to have overlooked that. However if you wish, I can alter your body to be able to consume and process plant life as sustainence. Still having a carnivorous body, you will have to consume protein, but it's nothing a diet with plenty of eggs, tofu, and fungi can't fix. I would also be able to change your body structure to be better suited to a life in intelligent society. Would you wish that?”

I was rather nervous, but he showed me kindness when he could have easily killed me. For some reason, I trusted him. He gave off an aura of raw power, but at the same time, gentleness. My instincts told me he would not harm me. “Very well, Steelbreaker...I trust you. Please do.”

He nodded and turned to the night goddess...Luna. "Luna, I need your help with something, can you come here?"

The tall blue pony turned around to face him and nodded. Upon arriving beside him, he leaned in and whispered something in her ear, and she smiled. "Sure, I can help with that Steel." She then looked at me. "Are you ready Moonfang? This will not hurt, but I warn you, your body will be very different from what you are used to."

I nodded. “You are my new pack now...my friends. I would do this to be able to stay with all of you.”

She smiled a warm smile. "Very well. Steelbreaker? Follow my lead."

Steelbreaker nodded and they stood on opposite sides of me. Both of their horns began to glow bright, so much so that I had to close my eyes. I began to feel my body tingle all over, as if ants were crawling all over me. The tingling turned to an intense warm feeling...not quite burning, but very warm and...comforting. I felt my body changing, the bones and my thick wooden skin moving and shifting, and I felt the toes on my front paws elongating. None of the change hurt, but the feelings were very unsettling. Suddenly, the warmth and tingling stopped.

"Well, we're done Moonfang. Come inside Fluttershy's home and we'll show you what you look like." said Steelbreaker calmly.

I opened my eyes and proceeded to follow them to the small home. The first thing I noticed was that I felt lower to the ground, as if my size was...less now. It felt different walking now as well. Not bad, just...different. Steelbreaker and Princess Luna were smiling as I made my way over to them, but the other ponies had an awestruck expression. I should have been nervous, but I was simply happy their expression was not fear.

We entered the home of Fluttershy, the place alien to me. I had never been inside the dwelling of a pony. It looked...serene, and comfortable. Fluttershy went to a corner of the home and pulled over a large object that was shiny all over. Once I looked at it, I saw what looked like one of my kind, but something was different. I would not let it attack my new friends though, so I let loose a loud threatening growl.

Steelbreaker placed a hoof on my back and smiled down at me. "Calm down Moonfang, that's not another timberwolf...that's you."

I was confused. Whatever that shiny wall was, we had no such things in the forest. However, I had seen myself in the pools of water spread throughout the forest, so I knew what I looked like. I experimentally raised a paw to see what the other wolf would do...and he raised his paw too. Was that really me? I glanced at my paw, noticing it was different. It was no longer a normal wolf's paw anymore, it was more akin to a monkey's paw.

I looked up at Steelbreaker and quipped, “This is...new.”

He laughed before smiling. "That's not the only thing that's changed, Moonfang." With that declaration, he stood up on his hind legs, balancing himself and standing on only two legs instead of four. "Your new body is meant to stand comfortably like this now. Give it a try. I'll support you so you don't fall." he then fell back onto all fours.

I nodded and attempted to stand up as if I were going to grab something out of a tree above me. I found that I wobbled a bit, but this stature felt very natural. I couldn’t help but feel happy at this, and I let out a very undignified yip in joy. “This is very different as well, but I must say I like it.”

I turned my head to find myself looking eye-to-eye with Steelbreaker. "You're welcome Moonfang. I know a lot has changed already, but there's one more thing I'd like to give you." With that he touched his horn to my head again. I felt our minds connect for a moment...some sort of information passing through my brain so fast it almost hurt, and then before I knew it he backed away.

I looked at him quizzically and asked, “What did you do?”

He smiled and explained, "Your new body has a changed facial structure, and it will allow you to speak like we do. The knowledge I just passed to you is how to form the different words you've been thinking to everyone with your mind into words you speak with your mouth. You won't need to think about it, just let your mouth talk instead of your mind. Give it a try."

I was a bit nervous again, but did as he asked. "H-hello?" I was startled by my own voice. It sounded nothing like my snarls, howls, or growls. Yet again it was different, but not bad. I was uncontrollably happy, and I hopped around the room in a very silly manner. "Wow! This is amazing!" I found myself jumping around like a playful pup, and I honestly did not care how it looked. I had never felt so good. I decided to take another look at my appearance, so I carefully walked over to the shiny surface again. I could see that my wooden skin still remained everywhere, and even my glowing eyes were the same, but I was now changed for the better.

I let a large smile cover my face for the first time.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I chuckled at the new addition to my friends as he marveled at his new appearance in the mirror.

Luna then leaned over to me and whispered, "Today has been rather interesting. First you protect Fluttershy from a timberwolf, then you befriend said timberwolf. Next, you give it the ability to use Spellspeech using a previously unheard of enchantment, and after that, you invite him to join us as a friend, with dear Fluttershy being okay with him living with her. To top it off, he now has a radically altered form and can speak in our tongue.” The princess grinned and nudged me. “So...what do you plan to do tomorrow?"

I grinned smugly and replied, "I don't know...depends on how I feel when I wake up. I might lounge around on the couch all day with my lovely ladies, or I might just go out and befriend a massive dragon next. Guess you never know with me."

She rolled her eyes. "You are quite the enigma, Steel. I have to be honest, I never thought so many things would change simply by bringing you to Equestria."

I smiled and knowingly asked, "Different, but not bad, right?"

The night princess nuzzled against me and sighed. "No...not bad. Not bad at all."

I smiled warmly and nuzzled her back before turning to the bipedal wolf. "Moonfang, we will leave you with Fluttershy now to get settled in." He nodded, so I then turned to the named pegasus mare. "Fluttershy?"

She looked back at me. "Yes Steel?"

I then took a serious expression. "I have changed his body so that he no longer has to eat meat to survive. However, he's going to need plenty of protein in his diet. You can show him how to get it from plants, right?" She nodded. "Yes, I can take care of that. Everything can easily be found in the forest, or in town."

I nodded. "Okay then Fluttershy, we're going to head out. Thanks again for doing this."

The Element of Kindness shook her head with a wide smile. "It's no problem, Steel. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine. Besides, I love taking care of animals, as you know. Moonfang isn't really an animal anymore, but I have a feeling we'll get along great."

I let surprise show on my face before smiling. "Wow Fluttershy, I'm surprised you've taken a liking to him so fast."

She smiled back. "I know a good friend when I see one. Come see us again soon, Steel!"

I walked over and gave the pegasus a hug, assuring her, "We will, don't worry." I then looked at Moonfang. "Take good care of her, Moonfang. She's a good friend of mine, and if you'll let her, she'll be a good friend to you too."

The wolf nodded as he stood next to his new charge. "I will. Thank you for everything Steelbreaker...really. I would have been lost without all of you."

I walked over and placed a hoof on his shoulder. "No need to thank me, it's what a good friend should do. You take care of yourself. I'll be back in a few days." and with that, we left.

Today had been quite a long day, so we all headed back to the library. Luna unfortunately had to leave and go back to Canterlot to resume her duties, so we all embraced her and said our goodbyes until she would return.

I found it strange that I had to fight to hold back tears.

I knew it might only be a week or so, but I always missed her when she was away. I had quickly become attached to the princess, so when she was gone it was as if a piece of home was missing. After she left, we continued on to the library, making small talk and whatnot. Rainbow Dash had been kept out of the loop as far as my new abilities, so Twilight spent most of the walk back updating her.

The rainbow-maned pony looked over to me afterwards. "So that's how you did a Sonic Rainboom. I thought it was a little off that you were able to do one so quickly."

I nodded. "Well it's not rainbow-hued, so technically it's not a Rainboom."

She mulled the thought over and answered with, "Okay, so what do you call it then, Steel?"

I shook my head. "Because of the fact that you were the first one to pull off a Rainboom and I did kinda cheat with magic, I think it's only right that you be the one to give it a name."

Rainbow Dash put a hoof to her chin in thought. "Hmm...how about Brightflash Wave?"

I nodded. "If you like it, I'm cool with it. Like I said, it's your choice."

She smiled and nodded her head. "Yeah, I like that name. We'll go with that. Brightflash Wave...has a nice ring to it."

I laughed and bumped my flank against her playfully.

About twenty minutes later, we arrived back at the library to see Spike was just arriving at the door as well.

The small dragon looked up at us and smiled, "Oh hey guys, I was wondering where you all were. What were you all up to?" I proceeded to give him the lowdown on everything that had happened. He was just staring at me with wide eyes. "Wha- but how-" He shook his head. "You know what? I'm just going to have to treat you like Pinkie from now on, because I can't figure out how you do half of the stuff you do. And you made friends with a timberwolf? I mean...that doesn't even make sense. Whatever...Twilight's not freaking out, so I'll be fine."

I laughed. "It's okay Spike, I'm still me," I said while ruffling his spines.

The dragon batted my hoof away and chuckled. "Okay okay, let's all get inside. It's getting cold out here and I don't do so well with the cold."

We all shuffled inside to be greeted by my mother, who looked pretty angry. "And where have you been all day? I was wondering what happened to you!"

I cringed. I was definitely more powerful than a human now, no doubt about it. Still...the woman scares me. "I'm sorry mom, things have been kinda crazy today." She relaxed a bit and sighed. "Well, you're okay. I guess that's what matters. Anyway, Jennie and I are ready to get a change of form whenever we can. I'm just going to be an earth pony and she's going to be a pegasus."

I nodded. "That's great mom. We'll get a letter off to Princess Celestia tonight and hopefully fit you guys in tomorrow if she's not busy."

She nodded and gave me a tight hug. "Well I'm going to call it a night. I'll be reading a bit in the guest room before going to bed, so call me if you need me."

I nodded and gave a hug back. "Okay mom. Goodnight then." With that, she headed upstairs.

Dash, Twilight, and myself grabbed a few daisy sandwiches Spike had been making for us and ate quietly. After finishing and cleaning things up, we called an early night and headed upstairs. I headed to the washroom to take a shower and turned on the water, letting it warm up when a certain cyan pegasus walked in and smiled.

"Hey Steel, you mind if I join you?" she asked with a grin.

I chuckled. "What's up, no embarrassment this time?"

She laughed. "Nah, I thought about what you said and you're right. Ponies do kinda walk around naked anyway, so it doesn't really matter. Besides, it's always nice to have someone helping to scrub that spot right between the wings."

I nodded. "Yeah. Amazingly I haven't learned how to levitate things yet and I'm too lazy right now, so some help would be appreciated." I stepped in the shower and Dash stepped in behind me. Luckily she shower was quite large, so we fit without trouble, though I will admit it was tighter than normal. I grabbed the soap Twilight had bought for me and proceeded to lather myself up. 'Mmm...cinnamon...' Rainbow Dash grabbed a brush that was hanging next to the shower and put some of the soap on it before she started scrubbing the spot right between my wings.

Words can’t explain how relaxing it felt.

I let out a moan of pleasure, and looked behind me to find the mare blushing and giggling. "You know Steel, the others in this place might think we're up to something if you keep making those noises."

I smirked and shot back, "Nah, I'm actually pretty quiet in bed." Her face lit up a bright crimson, and I could see her wings rise and quiver a bit in excitement, so I laughed. "What's the matter Dashie, getting a little excited there?" She blushed again, but continued to scrub my wings. 'Ah damn, that feels good. Wings must be extra sensitive or something.'

After a few more minutes of this, the mare ordered, "Okay, now rinse off Steel."

I nodded my head and got underneath the water, rinsing all the soap off my body. I backed up and let my partner stand in front to get cleaned up, and I did the same she did for me, grabbing the brush and put some soap on it. Remembering how sensitive my wings had been, I started with gentle scrubbing in the place right between the wings. She sighed softly and smiled, so I continued to brush all the feathers very softly, so as not to hurt her. I found it hard to get the right leverage, so I instead decided to sit behind her and just use my hooves to clean her wings instead, doing soft massaging to get all the feathers straightened out and any dirt caked on them cleaned off. She had her eyes closed and was letting out a soft sigh every now and then, clearly in heaven. I then moved to the base of the wings, right where the bone connects to the back. I did the same massage motion and she let out a loud moan, which surprised me and made me feel very nervous all of the sudden.

She turned around, her breathing having become a little heavy during my minestrations. "Why did you stop?"

I smiled sheepishly. "S-sorry Dashie, I thought I hurt you. Well you're all clean. Rinse off."

She did a little pout and stepped under the shower head, rinsing off all the soap. I then turned off the shower and stepped out, with Rainbow Dash following me and we helped each other dry off, paying special attention to wings to get them as dry as possible. We brushed our teeth and then headed off to Twilight's room.

The violet unicorn was sitting on the edge of the bed with a grin when we entered. "If you two wanted some time alone, you didn't need to use the hot water to do it. You could've just asked."

I shook my head. "Twilight we were just taking a shower, honest. I just didn't know how sensitive wings are and well..."

Twilight laughed and nodded. "Yeah, a unicorn's horn is the same way."

Deciding that now would be a good time to tease her a bit, I smirked. "I'll keep that in mind."

With that she blushed. "W-well okay, I'm going to go get cleaned up then and I'll be back."

I chuckled a bit as she walked out of the room and lay down on my back on the bed, with Rainbow Dash joining me. I lay there in bed rubbing a hoof along her back, and she let out a cute squeak whenever I accidentally touched the base of her wings.

She looked up at me with mock frustration face. "You are such a tease, you know that?"

For some reason, that sounded like a challenge to me, so I pushed her on her back, me looming over her. "Oh really? Well, am I a tease when I do," I ran my tongue along her neck, and she shivered, "that?"

The pegasus growled, "This is so not fair!"

I laughed, then ran kisses all along her neck and collarbone. She let out a soft moan and I innocently remarked, "What? I thought you liked this."

She glared at me before completely losing focus when I ran a hoof along the underside of her left wing, at which point she gazed at me as she lightly panted. "You're evil, you know that?"

I grinned. "Yeah I know...but you love it." I quickly flipped her over onto her stomach and proceeded to kiss the bases of both her wings, which caused the mare to shudder heavily.

"Steel..." she whispered.

I smiled and stopped, deciding not to torture her anymore. She climbed over to me with a large smile on her face, and buried her face in my chest, mumbling something. "What was that Dashie?" She removed her face from my chest, but still mumbled. "Still didn't catch that, say again?"

She sighed and looked right at me with those beautiful magenta eyes. "I said I love you, Steel."

It was a bit of a shock to have happened this soon, but when I really thought about it, I felt the same about her...perhaps in a way, I always had.

She turned her head away from me, so I pulled it back and kissed her softly on the lips, lingering there for a few seconds. When I broke the oral embrace and looked back at her eyes, I responded, "I love you too, Dashie."

She opened her eyes and smiled at me, then gained a shocked expression. "Steel, y-your eyes...they're glowing!"

I was instantly nervous because of her expression, so I turned my head to look at the vanity mirror on Twilight's dresser. Sure enough, my eyes were softly glowing, a golden hue to the color. I smiled. "Well...that's cool. I look so much more boss now."

Twilight then walked in smelling faintly of lilacs and stared at me. "Are your eyes glowing?"

I chuckled. "Yeah, I guess. Pretty cool, huh?"

The unicorn looked worried for a second, then shrugged. "You don't seem to be acting any different, so I guess it's alright."

She snuggled into bed with me and Dash and leaned her head on my chest. I looked at both of the mares in my embrace. "Hey girls..." They both looked up at me with smiles. What I was about to ask felt a little awkward and cheesy, but I felt saying it would mean a lot to them, so I asked, "Would you be my marefriends?"

They both looked like they were going to explode with happiness, but then just smiled warmly and draped their hooves across my chest.

"Yes," they both said at the same time.

I smiled and kissed Twilight on the lips softly as I had Dash. She looked surprised for a moment, but then closed her eyes and sighed, returning the kiss. After breaking free she looked nervous.

"What's wrong Twi?" I asked, wrapping my wings around her and Dash.

She buried her head in my chest and then let out a breath before responding, "I have something I want to tell you. I hope you feel the same way, but if you don't..."

I gave her a concerned expression and said, "Well just tell me Twi." I already had a feeling what she was going to say, but I wanted her to say it. I felt her mind try to connect with mine, but I focused and forced her out. "No Twi, I want you to say it out loud."

She looked even more nervous, but then Dash reached across my chest and held her hoof. "Twi, it's okay."

The unicorn nodded and whispered, "Steel...I," she mumbled the rest.

I raised my eyebrow and said, "Say again Twi? Louder please. We already have one Fluttershy, thank you."

She took a deep breath. "Steel...I...I love you."

I leaned down and kissed her again, surprising her somehow and making her giddy with joy I responded with, "See, that wasn't so hard now was it? And I love you too, Twi." She let crack a large smile on her face so I hugged her tight and kissed her again, then Dash. "Feel better now?" They both nodded. "Alright, well I'm beat. I'd love to stay up and play," I winked at Dash and she blushed, "but my body's forcing me to sleep. I love you girls. Goodnight."

They both smiled and hugged me tight, whispering, "Goodnight Steel," in unison.

That night would be one of the best sleeps of my life.

Author's Notes:

The "new" timberwolves shown in S3-E8 were not what I based Moonfang's visage off of. Instead, he was based off of this image: http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=Timberwolf#/d4lm3us - the idea being that the wolves are flesh and blood like any normal animal, but they just have a very thick plated skin made of wood and glowing green eyes.

The Forgotten Element

Chapter 8: The Forgotten Element

I woke up to find the bodies of Twilight and Dash tangled around me in a mess of legs. I smiled at the sight, and chuckled a bit as I ever so carefully untangled the mess that was our bodies and hopped out of bed, somehow without waking the other two in it.

I made my way downstairs to find my brother sitting at the reading table with a mug of coffee and a book labeled, "The History of the Dragon Kingdoms".

I walked up behind him and greeted, "Mornin' Mace, what's up man?"

He looked up from the book and smiled at me. "Good morning, you dog you."

I laughed at him and shook my head. "This isn't the same as what you did with the girls back on Earth. I actually care about both of them."

He shrugged. "Well then, you're a better man than I was. Wait, you're a pony. Nope, I was still the better man technically."

I chuckled. "Okay Mr. Technicality, what's for breakfast?"

He pointed towards the kitchen and answered, "I made some eggs and potatoes with some tomatoes in there and green peppers. I took a walk to town today to pick up some things."

I cocked an eyebrow. "Where did you get the bits to do that? You're not dealing again, are you?"

He shook his head. "Nah, Spike burped up a letter from Princess Celestia this morning. She said she's accepting me as a royal smith and wanted to send us an allowance to get started. Something about making her sister and student so happy or something…"

I laughed. "Well I've never been paid for making someone happy, but I guess technically that's what a comedian does. I don't need the cash, you keep it. You should stock the pantry and fridge since we've been eating all Twilight's food without paying her back."

He pointed to the kitchen and said, "Way ahead of ya man. I didn't really know what to get so I took Spike with me and he helped out."

I was a little surprised at this new responsible person, and I made sure to tell him so. "I like the new you already. You make a cooler dragon than you did a human."

He laughed. "Well we all have growing up to do. Who'd have thought it'd take being a firebreathing creature of legend to do it?"

I chuckled and headed to the kitchen to get breakfast. I grabbed a bowl and heaped some of the food into it and grabbed a bottle of apple juice from the fridge. I walked back into the main room and sat with my brother at the table and I decided to give levitation a try, so I focused on the apple juice after I opened it, willing it to slowly float to my lips.

My brother just stared at me. "What are you doing dude?"

I shushed him. "I'm trying to levitate it."

He nodded and watched me. "You know your eyes look like they're glowing a little."

The bottle slowly floated off the table and towards my lips, and I took a sip of juice. "Mmm…that's quite possibly the best apple juice I've ever tasted. Oh yeah, I know my eyes are glowing. I found out about it last night."

He smirked. "What were you doing?"

"Nothing surprisingly. We just fell asleep." I answered.

He snorted. "Boring! Spice things up a little."

I shook my head as I took a few bites of breakfast. "It's not like that man…I love 'em."

He looked at me with a smile. "Well good for you man, it’s about time. It's been like five years since you've had a girlfriend."

I nodded as I continued to eat. "Yeah, I know. A fiancée breaking up with me after cheating on me with my boss kinda killed my drive to date. The females are different here though. They're much more loyal, and loving, and just altogether better. I thought the fact that they were equines would bother me…it doesn't. Not in the least."

He nudged me. "You go, bro. Just gotta find me a female and I'll be set too."

I shrugged. "You're gonna be hard pressed to find a dragon around here dude."

He shook his head as he drained the last of his coffee. "Nah, I've had my eye on Applejack. I'm pretty sure I can snag her, I just need to get to know her better."

"Well you better watch out for Big Mac. He's really protective of his family." I mentioned as I took another few bites of breakfast.

He frowned and became strangely quiet. "Yeah…that could be a problem."

I placed a hoof on his shoulder and said, "You're gonna have to change who you are, man. The whole party guy who has a different girl every other day isn't going to fly here. Break a mare's heart, and that shit gets around. Basically what I'm saying is don't be a dick."

He sighed and closed his eyes. "Yeah…I know. I think I can do that. Change is good, after all."

I finished my breakfast just in time to see Twilight and Dash come down the stairs, so I greeted, "Morning girls, how did you sleep?" Twilight smiled warmly, but Dash had a groggy expression on her face.

The pegasus grumbled out, "Coffee...” so I nodded and levitated over a cup of coffee I'd made for her. Dash smiled gratefully, and I winked at her.

"So girls," I started, "I've always wanted to see the ruins in Everfree Forest. Care to join me?" They both nodded. "Great, we'll leave after we all get cleaned up."

We all took quick showers and brushed our teeth before heading out the door. Twilight decided to let me carry her and just fly to the ruins, as walking through the forest would take too long and was rather dangerous. Dash led the way of course.

It only took us about ten minutes to reach the ruins, and we landed softly and walked inside. Twilight explained to me in detail everything that happened here in the past, right up to the point where her and her friends became the Elements of Harmony.

I stood for a moment in awe of actually hearing all this from their perspective, and I just gasped out, "Wow…that's intense. I didn't realize this place was so special."

Twilight nodded as she looked around the ruins. "Yes. This place was once known as the Palace of the Two Sisters, back before Luna became Nightmare Moon. These ruins are all that remain after the battle before Nightmare Moon was banished for a millennium."

I nodded in response and gazed around the ruined palace. One hell of a battle must have taken place here, as I could still feel powerful magic within the place after over a thousand years.

Next, we walked into the chamber that once held the Elements of Harmony. I noticed a pedestal in the center that seemed to still have a great amount of magic seeping from it, and I pointed to the spot. "I can feel a lot of magic on that pedestal there. I take it that's where the Element of Magic was?"

Twilight shook her head. "The Element of Magic was hidden until we found the bond of true friendship. Once the other girls' Elements awakened, I realized just how close we'd become. The power of our friendship revealed the sixth element, the Element of Magic."

I cocked an eyebrow…this didn't make sense. What had been there then?

We walked around the ruins a bit more before sitting down to have a lunch that Twilight had packed for us. As we finished, I noticed a strange feeling in my gut…like we were being watched. I took a look around us and didn't notice anything, so I shrugged the feeling off..but that's when I heard the flapping of wings behind me. I turned to see ten gryphons dressed in full armor with blades on their wings.

"Well well…what do we have here? I knew sooner or later the Elements would slip up." said the largest one, who I assumed was the leader.

I turned to face them and growled out, "What do you want, gryphon?"

The leader smirked at me. "Our fight isn't with you, stranger. We're here for the Elements. Get out of the way and we won't kill you."

Inside I was terrified, but I stood my ground and responded, "I can't do that. You want them, you have to go through me."

The leader grinned maniacally at me. "Very well…I've always been curious as to what an alicorn's blood tastes like."

I stared him down and whispered, "Girls, get inside the ruins. Don't come out until I come to get you." They quickly complied, and I then made contact with Moonfang and Luna. “Luna, Moonfang, I need your help. I was walking around the ruins in Everfree Forest with Dash and Twilight and we've been ambushed by a large group of gryphons. It appears they have intent to kill. I don't know how long I'll be able to hold them off, get here now!”

I felt agreement from both of them, as well as fear welling up from Luna. “We are on our way Steel. I will pick up Moonfang and then I will teleport straight to you, just hold on!”

With that, I opened my eyes to look at the enemies before me. The leader smirked. "I guess you're done praying to your god then. Ready to die?"

I cracked a smile. "I think you'll find this meal will not be worth the pain you're going to feel…" with that, I called upon a great wall of fire to separate the gryphons from me and I ran inside the ruins.

I entered the Vault of the Elements, hoping it was a small enough space so that they wouldn't be able to get behind me without me knowing about it and I noticed that luckily the ceiling was very low, so they wouldn't be able to fly. I felt Dash and Twilight in this room as well though, and I then realized I was the only thing protecting them from death.

As terrifying as it was, I knew what I had to do.

I made contact with both of them. “I love you Dashie…and you too Twilight. I can only give you a moment…I want you to run when I tell you to.”

I heard Dash gasp. "No, Steelbreaker! We're not leaving you!" She made herself visible, and I could see tears in her eyes.

I let a tear of my own drip on the cold tile floor and said, "Dash, you're the Element of Loyalty. I need you to be loyal now. Do as I say and save your friend and get out of here. If you stay, we all die."

The cyan mare threw her forelegs around me and hugged me tight. "…no…I can't. I'm sorry Steel."

I sighed and focused my power on both of them…and teleported them to the library. I could have just as easily saved myself as well, but no…these monsters weren't going to stop until they captured or killed my friends.

This ends now.

As soon as I thought this, I felt a rush of power envelop me, and a flash from the empty pedestal in front of me. A ball of swirling white light popped up from the pedestal, and flew into me before I could avoid it. I was blinded by a flash of intense light, and I thought I had died.

I opened my eyes to find I hadn't perished, however.

I noticed my vision was much sharper, and I could now hear the gryphons outside shouting curses at each other. I stepped in front of a window to look outside and caught my reflection.

“What the...?” I said out loud, but the remainder of my sentence died on my tongue.

I was covered head to hoof, head to tail in glowing black armor. There were solid plates on my legs and my wings, as well as a helmet that covered everything but my eyes. On the forehead of the helmet was a bright silver shield with a black gem in the middle where my horn should be. The armor surprisingly didn't weigh anything at all, and I didn't feel any heavier. My eyes were also no longer normal biological entities, instead they were glowing spheres of golden energy. I marveled at my new appearance. “What…what is this?” I was interrupted from my thoughts by the voices coming down the corridor, but they stopped in their tracks when they saw me.

The leader's mouth dropped open and he stammered, "Wh-who are you?"

I turned and smiled at him. "I told you if you wanted the Elements, you'd have to go through me."

The leader growled and lunged at me, but as he did I noticed something very peculiar. It was almost as if he were moving in slow motion. I easily sidestepped him and slammed my hoof into his forehead, knocking him unconscious. Upon seeing their leader fall so easily, the others began to scatter.

"OH NO YOU DON'T!" I yelled as I cast an improvised spell, tying them all together with strands of magical rope. I then plopped them on the ground next to their leader.

Perspective change – Luna

I had teleported to Fluttershy's home to pick up Moonfang and had then teleported to where I remembered the ruins of my once great palace would be. The wolf and I arrived to find a massive wall of magical fire before us, causing my companion to shy away in fear. I noticed this and dispelled the fire, and he relaxed.

"What was that?" he asked.

I shook my head in disbelief of what I’d just seen. "That is a spell that has not been used in nearly two thousand years. The last one to use it…was my father." I quickly rushed inside the ruins, Moonfang following close behind me, but when we entered the Vault of the Elements we found nine frightened gryphons tied up, with one more unconscious lying next to a large armored figure. The figure must have heard us enter, as it slowly turned around to meet us. The armor it was wearing was as black as the night itself, and was giving off a dark glow. Its eyes were two glowing orbs of gold. Intimidating as it was, however...it was smiling at us.

It was then that I noticed something very unnerving and I shouted, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH STEELBREAKER?"

The figure winced and answered, "By Celestia, Luna. You don't have to yell at me."

'I know that voice…'

"Steel?" I squeaked out in shock, and the figure nodded.

The smile was familiar, and so was the very presence he held, but once he responded, all my doubts fell away. "Hi Luna."

My mouth dropped open for a moment until I composed myself and replied, "You…you're different."

Steel looked at himself and nodded. "Yeah…I'm not sure what happened."

Moonfang stepped forward in concern of his friend and asked, "Steelbreaker…are you alright?"

Steel nodded. "Yeah, I feel great." Steel then turned to me and pointed a hoof at the prisoners he was holding. "Luna, these are the gryphons that attacked us. I think Celestia would probably like to have a word with them."

I nodded. "Very well, let me contact my sister." I reached out across the void to connect with her mind. “Sister, something has come up…something I believe you will want to address with the offenders directly.”

It took her a moment to respond, but she finally did so with a slightly panicked tone. “Hello dear Luna, what is it?”

I sighed. “Steelbreaker, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight have been attacked by a large group of gryphons. Do not worry yourself, as everypony is unharmed, but I feel that we now have prisoners to take care of.”

I felt her relief and she sent back, “I am relieved to hear that, dear sister. Very well, I am ready when you are.”

I turned to Steel. "Okay Steel, Tia is gathering guards to prepare for our arrival. I am ready when you are." He nodded once before beginning to charge a spell.

Perspective change – Stelbreaker

Before I cast the spell, I looked to Moonfang and said, “Head back to Fluttershy’s. We’ll see each other later, okay?” The wolf nodded and scampered off, so I focused on all of the gryphons, Luna, and myself…as if grabbing them with my mind. I then focused on the throne room of the palace in Canterlot and closed my eyes as I felt the familiar cooling of the air around me. There was a loud electric popping noise, and then nothing.

When I opened my eyes again, it was to find myself staring at an entire platoon of royal guards.

They all tensed up, but Luna saved me. "Fear not guards, it is Steelbreaker. There is no danger." She then pointed at the gryphons with disdain. "Take these scum to the dungeons until we can figure out what to do with them." The guards nodded, so I cast a spell to knock out all the attackers and dispelled the rope around them. The guards then began to shuffle all of the gryphons out a large wooden door.

Once we were alone, I turned my head to find Celestia staring at me in shock. I shifted a little nervously. "What?"

She just continued staring at me for a moment before stuttering out, "I-I am sorry Steelbreaker…it appears you are the Lost Element."

Luna just stared at her sister and questioned, "Sister, I do not understand. What are you speaking of?"

Princess Celestia composed herself and explained. "Long ago before peace reigned, there was a great war between the dragons, gryphons, and the ponies of what would be Equestria. This war lasted nearly a century until it ended.” The solar princess then looked to her sister. “In order to end the war, King Sol, our father, forged the Elements of War.” I was about to ask a question, but the sun princess held up a hoof to silence me, so I allowed her to continue. “The Elements of War were the Element of the Berserker, the Element of the Assassin, and the Element of the Guardian. Unlike the Elements of Harmony, the Elements of War were sovereign…meaning they did not need the presence of the other Elements to release their power. These elements held no place in peaceful society, and so the Elements of the Berserker and the Assassin were destroyed; because of their nature, the possibility for evil to corrupt the bearer was too great.” Princess Celestia then smiled at me. “The Element of the Guardian was thought destroyed as well, but was instead secretly hidden. This secret was kept only by certain members of our line. Unlike the other Elements of War, two things must be present within the bearer: a desire to protect selflessly…as well as love. Because of its nature and potential, this Element was hidden in plain sight with the Elements of Harmony…it would only activate when its chosen bearer arrived.” The alabaster alicorn pointed at me and said, “It appears that after three-thousand years, a bearer has been chosen...and I can think of none better, Steelbreaker."

I felt myself relax with this new information. "Thank you Princess Celestia. I was worried you were going to banish me or something."

She shook her head with a benevolent smile. "For protecting your loved ones? Never. I would not do such a thing to somepony for taking an act as noble as yours."

I nodded gratefully, but then remembered something important that I had to take care of. "Thank you Princess Celestia. I don't mean to cut this short, but I got Rainbow Dash and Twilight out of there and sent them to the library. The last thing I said to them sounded like a goodbye, so I don't think they're in too good of shape right now."

Princess Celestia nodded. "Yes, I believe you are right.” Her gaze then fell upon her younger sister. “Luna, I wish for you to go too. I can take care of things here and you deserve a few days with the pony you love.” Luna blushed hotly, but the elder sister merely smiled lovingly at her younger sibling. “Yes…I know how you feel about him." I smiled at Luna and she blushed, then saluted to Celestia. "You may go. Thank you, Steelbreaker. Treat my sister well." With that, I teleported Luna and I to the library steps.

We stood outside the library for a moment before entering. For scaring them both, I was afraid Twilight and Dash were going to beat me or something, so I turned to the princess beside me. "Luna, if they feel the need to…punish me for scaring them so much, don't intervene."

She gazed at me in confusion, but nodded slowly. "I am confused as to why you would allow such a thing, but I will respect your wishes."

I smiled at her. "That's why I love you, Luna." She blushed hotly and kissed my cheek, and then I sighed. "Okay…here we go." I opened the door to find my entire family downstairs in the main room, along with Dash and Twilight. They all looked up at me with puffy red eyes, and stared in shock.

Twilight looked me over, then her eyes fell on Luna. "Luna, who is this?"

I smiled and focused on dissipating my Element's power, deciding instead to let it hide within me. A bright flash came, and I could no longer feel the armor on me. Everyone gasped and I nervously answered, "H-hi girls…"

My brother stood up first and walked over to me. He just stared at me for a second as if he were confused...and then punched me in the face, hard. He growled at me, "If you ever pull a stunt like that again you won't have to worry about dying, because I'll fry your ass." He scowled at me a few more seconds, but then reached down and pulled me off the ground into a tight hug, surprising me. "I'm glad you're okay man."

I pulled away and smiled at him. "I'm sorry Mace…I thought it was them or me. I chose them."

My mom stood up next, walked over to me and smacked me…and then pulled me into a hug as well. Her angry mask broke and she sobbed out, "Don't ever do that to me again, Drew. I thought I lost you."

I hugged my mother tightly. "I'm sorry mom, but I love them. You'd have done the same for me had you been in the same situation."

She nodded. "Yes…you're right, I would have...but I’m your mother. Just please…be more careful."

I grinned and replied, "No promises mom. Trouble seems to find me wherever I go, but I’ll avoid it whenever possible." I then went and sat between Twilight and Dash on the couch. They wouldn't look at me at first, and I lowered my head in guilt. "I'm sorry girls…I'm really sorry. I had a choice to make…and I chose both of you. I'm sorry and I understand if you don't want to forgive me for this…but I do ask you to try and understand." Twilight grabbed me and sunk her head into my chest, crying softly, but Dash still wouldn't look at me. Instead, she quietly got up and walked out the front door. I sighed and mumbled, "Well…so much for the fairytale reunion."

Suddenly the front door flew open, and a blue blur slammed into me. I felt hooves pounding on my shoulder painfully as a certain pegasus cried out, "DON'T EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN, STEEL!" She ran out of steam eventually and hugged me tight, her tears running into my coat.

My sister was the only one not crying, and she simply walked over and smiled. "I knew you were fine. No one believed me, but I told them, 'He can't die, he loves us too much to leave us.' No one ever listens to me." I smiled at her attitude, and she brushed my mane away from my face. "You need a haircut, Drew." I laughed.

Luna strode over to me and kissed me softly on the lips before saying, "All is put right, and the Element of the Guardian has awakened."

Twilight stirred and looked at Luna. "What do you mean?" I went through the whole situation, as well as what Celestia had told me, but by the end, Twilight just stared off into space. "So…there was another Element all along? It's not in any of my books, I'm sure of it."

Luna turned around in a circle before sitting down on the rug in front of me, and for some reason I couldn’t help but be reminded of a dog by this. The lunar princess then explained, "It would not be found in any book, Twilight. The creation and subsequent hiding of this Element predates recorded history in Equestria. I did not even know of its existence."

Dash finally spoke up. "So my coltfriend is an alicorn, a spellbender, and a super-secret Element? Wow…I really know how to pick 'em." I chuckled, glad that humor had been reinjected into the conversation while Twilight laughed loudly.

Luna was smiling as well and remarked, "Yes Rainbow Dash, it appears we all have somewhat of a talent for choosing stallions." We all shared a laugh again before relaxing after the ordeal of today.

After everything had calmed down, Luna, Twilight, Dash, and myself all were having a small dinner and talking about the day. Twilight of course was fascinated at the prospect of a previously unheard of Element, and that it had chosen me as its bearer. Dash was beaming, clearly still pleased that I was okay and now about 100% cooler. Luna kept nuzzling into my side the whole time, which I found so cute.

After dinner, we all were exhausted mentally and physically so we all headed up to bed. Luna shared a shower with me which much to my excitement got rather steamy (pun intented) before I stopped myself. 'Wow, Luna gets loud. Soundproofing spell for the win!'

We then lay down on the wonderful bed as Dash and Twilight went to clean up. I quickly found myself all over Luna. I found that she was very aggressive, almost animalistic in some ways. She loved it when I overpowered her and took control, though. 'She must not come across many males that aren't afraid of her. Makes sense.'

Twilight and Dash returned a few minutes later and joined the fun, so I quickly cast another soundproofing spell on the room before we continued. I expressed my wish to not go any further than foreplay, as I was still a little uncomfortable with going any further. The girls didn't seem to mind as my mouth, wings, and magic proved to be more than enough.

About two hours later I found myself lying in the middle of a pile of very pleased, panting mares…me with a triumphant grin on my face and a distinct lack of any more energy. All the same, I couldn’t help but think,.'Oh yeah, I'm the man.'

Dash had passed out near the beginning, clearly not as in shape as she thought.

Twilight and Luna climbed up next to me and nuzzled my side and neck, respectively. Twilight then sighed. "I'm going to have to wash these sheets tomorrow now."

I looked down at the unicorn and smirked. "I didn't hear you complaining a few minutes ago."

She blushed in embarrassment, but smiled. "Well, I guess it was worth it." I then levitated Dash and put her down on her side on my chest before looking at Twilight and Luna with deep affection. I offered a simple, "I love you girls." They each leaned up and planted a kiss on my cheek before whispering 'I love you too' in my ears. I could barely keep my eyes open and fell asleep shortly thereafter.

I woke up shortly later to find Twilight and Dash still sleeping, but Luna's eyes were open, staring at me.

I chuckled softly and said, "Creeper."

The moon princess tittered. "What? I like watching you sleep."

I smiled. "Yeah, I do have that devilish charm to my looks."

She shoved me and giggled…then gained a look of deep thought. "Steel, I have a question for you."

I trained my eyes on her, but smiled. "I have an answer for you. What is it, love?"

She smiled happily then looked up at me. "What are we to you? I apologize, I just fear that perhaps you may leave us…"

I shook my head. "You girls are my friends and so much more than that. I love you all, and I would do whatever it takes to see a smile on any one of your faces. I love you with all of my heart, each one of you. I am your guardian. More importantly, I will never leave you alone and I will love you to my last breath, whenever that may be."

She seemed to sense the determination and adoration in my voice, and closed her eyes, nuzzling into my neck with a kiss. "Thank you Steel. You make me so happy, I just wanted to be sure." I lifted her head with a bit of magic and kissed her with passion. I broke the kiss and she gazed at me with a dreamy expression. "I…I love you Steelbreaker. No…I love you, Drew." I don't know what it was – whether it was that she used my real name or that she meant it so strongly – but I had tears in my eyes.

I kissed her one more time and we fell asleep in each other's embrace.

Dawn of a New Beginning

Chapter 9: Dawn of a New Beginning

Perspective change - Darkflight

I woke up to a little dragon jumping on my chest and I growled out, "Spike, what's going on?"

He glared at me. "C'mon, we gotta meet Rarity today, remember? Get up!"

I pushed him away and sat up while yawning and rubbing my eyes. "Alright alright, can you go make some coffee? This dragon becomes homicidal if he doesn't get his coffee."

He laughed at me and headed upstairs. "Fine Dark, but hurry up! It's already noon."

I looked over at the clock as Spike clamored up the stairs. 'Well fuck, I didn't mean to sleep in that late.' I rubbed my eyes muttering a few more curses and climbed the stairs to the main library.

I was greeted by bright light burning my eyes, and I hissed in annoyance as I let my eyes adjust. Drew and Luna were sitting at the table talking about something and they both looked at me. I just inclined my head in a simple greeting and headed to the kitchen. 'Of all the days I had to get up early...why the hell did it have to be a Saturday?'

Spike had luckily gotten a large cup of coffee ready for me with a bagel. I walked over to the counter where my morning sustenance sat and whispered, “Oh sweet bagel, did you miss daddy? I'm going to eat you up, yes I am!"

Spike just stared at me with a raised eyeridge and asked, “Are you talking to your food?”

I glared at him. "I had a late night and I have the tummy rumblies...don't judge me, man."

The smaller dragon shook his head and laughed. "You kinda remind me of Pinkie Pie sometimes, only less bouncy...and less pink."

I smiled and downed my coffee with a gulp and ravaged the bagel like I hadn't eaten in weeks. I wiped off my face really quick and turned to Spike. "Alright I'm ready when you are, you set to go?" He nodded, so I headed back to the main room of the library and Drew was waiting for me.

As I walked by, my brother said, "Hey Mace, don't forget to pick up some more apples on the way home and for the love of God, please don't set anything that we don't own on fire."

I laughed. "No promises man. I'll be back in a few hours. You guys need anything while I'm in town?"

Luna walked up and smiled at me. "Good luck Darkflight. We shall see you when you return." She then stood and gave me hug. I looked at my brother and he shrugged, so then I looked at Luna.

"Not that I’m not grateful, but what was that for?" I asked curiously.

She shrugged as well and grinned. "For good luck. Everypony knows my hugs are lucky."

I rolled my eyes. "Alright then, we're off." and with that, Spike and I walked to town.

This was my first time actually going somewhere besides the grocer near the town square, so I let Spike lead the way. It didn't take us long to come across the boutique, which luckily was hard to miss, and Spike knocked on the door as we stood there waiting.

I looked out of the corner of my eye at the young dragon and asked, "So Spike, what's going on between you and Rarity?"

He looked down a bit with a huff of frustration. "Not as much as I'd like..."

I kinda felt bad for the little guy. We all knew that being a baby dragon, he didn't really have a chance with her...but that never stopped him from trying. Gotta admire his perseverance at least.

A few moments later the door opened to reveal the white unicorn. "Ah hello Spikey, I'm so glad you're here!" She then looked up at me. "And Darkflight, it's a pleasure." I nodded and we all filed inside.

As we entered the family room, which was also her work space, she stopped and looked at me. "I suppose you're wondering why I've asked you to come today."

I nodded. "Yeah. Twilight said it had something to do with the job Celestia gave me."

The regal unicorn smiled. "Yes, it does. You see the princess has asked that her and Luna's personal guards have a more ornate armor, so as to set them apart from the normal royal guards. That's where we come in. You will be creating the armor, and I will take care of the details to the armor. Celestia will be holding a meeting with ambassadors from the Gryphon Kingdoms, as well as the dragon from the island in the South Sea. If the past has taught me anything, it's that first impressions are everything. The more regal and official the guards look, the more respect our princess will command. I understand it seems unimportant, but I ask you trust me. Will you assist me with this task?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I think I can take care of that. When's the meeting?"

Rarity smiled warmly and answered, "In three month's time. That will give you enough time to train under the current blacksmith and make the twelve sets of armor we will need for the guards."

I nodded and smiled, suddenly feeling happy to finally be useful. "You can count on me. We got this."

She beamed and pulled both Spike and I into a tight embrace. "Oh I am simply ecstatic that you've accepted! Thank you so much!" After a few moments she released us and said, "Well boys next order of business, a little relaxation! It has been far too long since I have seen my friends, and I simply must ask Steelbreaker about his newfound relationships. Oh the notion is positively delicious!" she said in what Twilight called her "gossip tone".

We left Rarity's boutique after packing a small lunch of some kind of sandwiches and headed to some secret hill. I noticed every eye that widened at my sight, every gasp that was breathed.

Damn these dragon senses...

Spike nudged me, noticing my stress. "What's wrong Dark?"

I looked down at the little dragon. I almost wish I was little too...then all these ponies wouldn't be so afraid of me. "It's these ponies Spike. Look at the way they look at me...they don't like me."

He watched as we walked through town and frowned, but then turned to me and smiled, patting my leg. "They don't know you, Dark. I know you, and you're cool, and anypony that gets to know you is gonna think the same."

I sighed uneasily. "I hope you're right, Spike..."

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

Twi and I were walking over to Sweet Apple Acres to grab Applejack for our little get together. Dash told me that the farm mare doesn't work a lot on Saturdays, so we thought it'd be a perfect time to swing by. As we approached the farmland, I saw Big Mac heading into town.

I waved at the large stallion and greeted, "Howdy Big Mac, how's it going?"

The normally silent stallion smiled and responded, "Goin' good, Steel. It's been awhile. How ya been?"

I smiled. "Well it's been good so far, Mac. Is your sister here?"

He nodded and gestured to the farmhouse. "She just finished buckin'. Ya'll can find her at tha house. Just knock."

"Alright then, thanks Big Mac. We'll see ya." I responded with a smile.

He nodded and began walking towards town again. "Eeeyup."

We trotted through the fields until we came upon the farmhouse. Applejack had just walked out the front door and spotted us, at which point she smiled a huge smile and galloped to Twilight.

The mare embraced her friend and exclaimed, "Howdy Twi! Gosh, it's been a long time. Seems like years since Ah seen ya last. What ya been up to, sugarcube?" The two friends released each other and I smiled and leaned down to kiss Twilight, which caused the unicorn to blush. Applejack grinned. "Oh Ah see. It's about time Twi. Ya'll got ya a right good stallion there."

I smirked and responded,"She knows. I showed her just how good la-" The unicorn interrupted me with a jab from her horn and I jumped in surprise. "Ow, easy Twi!"

AJ just chuckled. "So, what are ya'll doin' here?"

Twilight regained her composure and smiled. "Well Applejack, it's been a while since we last spent time together. I was thinking maybe you could join me and the other girls at the hill for a picnic."

The farm pony beamed. "Well Ah'd be happy to, Twi. Jus' lemme tell Apple Bloom where Ah'm goin' and get a few things ta bring and we can leave."

We headed to Sugarcube Corner next to grab Pinkie Pie - after all, a good picnic always has sweets.

We opened the door to the bakery to see the pink party animal giving a smile that's so contagious it might as well be a pandemic.

She looked at Twilight and bounced over. "Hi Twilight! Its super-duperifficly good to see you! *GASP* We still haven't thrown a party for Steelie yet!"

She prepared to dash off, but Twilight grabbed her tail. "Not yet Pinkie, remember? Soon though, really soon...I promise."

The pink mare smiled giddily and nodded. "Okay Twilight, so what's up?"

AJ stepped forward and smiled at her pink friend. "We're havin' a picnic at tha hill and we want ya'll ta be there, sugarcube. Besides, Steel and Dark never got ta taste one of yer famous cupcakes."

Pinkie gasped in surprise. "That's right! Well what a coinkiedink, I just got done baking a dozen of them! Gummy's idea."

I cocked my eyebrow as Pinkie Pie dashed off, but Twilight just shook her head at me. "Don't try and figure it out, you'll get a headache."

Pinkie Pie returned a few moments later and tossed the cupcakes in a saddlebag, so we headed out.

We left Sugarcube corner and headed towards the hill near AJ's farm, at which point I made contact with Fluttershy. “Hey Fluttershy, it's Steel. Me and the girls are all meeting up at the secret hill for a picnic. Are you and Moonfang interested?”

It took her a moment to respond, as she must've been busy. “Oh, hello Steel. Yes, Moonfang and I would love to join you! It's been so long since we've all been together and Moonfang still needs to meet Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. We'll meet you there.”

I was kind of curious about how this place was a secret, but when we arrived I saw why. “The Hill” was nestled against a cliff and Applejack's farm, and you couldn't get to it without trespassing on the farm's apple fields. I trotted up the hill and saw that Luna and Dash had already arrived and were laying on a large blanket on the grass, napping.

I walked up to the two napping mares softly nuzzled them, causing both to wake up and smile at me. "Hey girls, I hope we didn't keep you waiting too long. The rest of the gang is on the way. My brother's coming too, and so is Spike."

I decided that Moonfang would be a surprise, so I didn't mention him just yet, but during the meantime we proceeded to set everything up. Dash moved a cloud to make sure we had plenty of sunshine, as the air was warm for autumn, and the trees had taken on beautiful shades of orange and red.

I was laying on the blanket and almost fell asleep when Rarity, Spike, and Dark arrived. Rarity greeted her old friends with tears in her eyes, not having spent time with them in quite awhile. I think I even saw Applejack shed a tear or two.

My brother lay next to me and smiled. "Y'know, I never thought hanging out with a bunch of females could be this nice. I'm surprised."

I chuckled for a moment and said, "Yeah, well the crazy here and the crazy on Earth are on completely different levels. Pinkie Pie is considered kinda crazy, and she's just funny even at her worst. Like I said, things are better here."

He softly elbowed me in my arm and I looked over at the black dragon. He had the most sincere smile I’d ever seen on him, and he whispered, "Yeah. I didn't think so at first, but you made a good choice in bringing us all here. Thanks."

I laughed. "Oh my, have you become a brony Mace?"

"Can't be a brony unless you're a human, so no. I still win." he said, grinning.

Spike sauntered over and took a seat, leaning up against my brother. "Yeah, it's been awhile since we've done this. I know we didn't meet on the best terms, but I'm glad you guys are here. You guys are like the brothers I never had."

I was honestly touched and replied, "Well I'm honored that you feel that way, Spike. I consider you another little brother, and I think Dark feels the same way." I then ruffled the little dragon's spines and he laughed.

"Well Twi always said I should hang out with the guys more. You're a bit of a girl sometimes, but Dark counts I think." the small dragon remarked with a smug grin.

I glared at him, and then burst out laughing. After a few moments I calmed down enough to say, "Well I've got the love of the pony that raised you, the fastest flier in Equestria, and the goddess of the moon. I think I can handle being seen as a little femmie sometimes."

My brother chuckled. "Way to save that situation, man."

I then felt the presence of Fluttershy and Moonfang approaching, so I stood up to meet them. I looked back at Rarity and Applejack. "Rarity, AJ, I want you two to meet someone. I warn you he's a little different, but he's not going to hurt anyone. He's a friend, I promise."

They looked at me with a confused expression, then looked over the hill when they saw Fluttershy walk up...with Moonfang behind her.

Their eyes widened and Applejack fell on her rump. The farm mare stuttered out, "Wha-what's that? I-is that a...timberwolf?"

I stomped my hoof and both Rarity and AJ stared at me. "Didn't I just say it's safe?" I then walked over to Moonfang and Fluttershy and embraced them both. "Hey Moonfang, it's good to see you again. How's life been with Fluttershy?"

The wooden wolf smiled while Fluttershy blushed, and the wolf responded, "It's been wonderful. This wolf is quite pleased with the way his life is turning out."

Rarity gasped. "Did it just talk?"

I sneered at her, "Yes he did. Are you two ready to stop acting like foals and trust me? If he was really a danger, what in your right mind would make you think Fluttershy would ever be anywhere near him?"

The rest of the group was silent, watching how this would play out, but both fearful mares froze for a moment before looking down in shame.

Applejack looked up at me. "Ah'm sorry sugarcube, Ah been a right foal and Ah'm sorry fer that. Can ya'll forgive me?"

I shook my head and pointed to Moonfang. "I'm not the one you need to apologize to."

Applejack looked a little apprehensive at first, but steeled herself and strode up to him and smiled, holding out a hoof. Moonfang took it in his hand and shook it. "Hello Miss Applejack, I am Moonfang. It is a pleasure to meet a friend of Fluttershy's."

Applejack finally relaxed and replied, "Well Ah'm Applejack and it's a pleasure to make yer acquaintance."

Moonfang smiled and then looked at Rarity. He slowly walked over to her and bowed in a very human-like manner. "It is a pleasure, Lady Rarity. Fluttershy has told me much about you."

Rarity was shocked at his manners, but held her composure and said, "W-well, Moonfang I am pleased to meet you as well."

The wolf stood up and smiled, then looked back at me. "Are you ready to eat? I'm starving."

Everyone shared a look with me at the wolf and then laughed.

Perspective change - Rarity

I was flabbergasted. A timberwolf, as a friend? I had never imagined in my wildest dreams I would be speaking to one and laughing, instead of shrieking and running. It was true he no longer looked anything like a normal wolf, but there was no mistake of what he once was. I felt a pang of guilt as I noticed just how biased my reservations towards him had been. Once one got past what he was, he was actually quite charming...dashing even. He was very polite, kind, and...noble.

I found it odd that in society nobility were rarely noble. Instead, I found a noble heart in one of the least likely places I ever thought imaginable...in the wolf before me. Steel had told us all the story of how Moonfang had met he and Fluttershy in the forest...and that originally the wolf had tried to attack poor Fluttershy.

I gazed at Steel as he was talking with Moonfang. What had he seen in the wolf? I found it strange that one so young - younger than myself - appeared to have such wisdom to see goodness in what used to be a ravenous beast.

Steelbreaker continues to amaze...

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

My brother and I had finally gotten to try Pinkie's famous cupcakes, and all I can say is OH. MY. GOD! That was by far the most amazing thing I've ever tasted...ever. The taste itself was magical, and I couldn't place it because in all honesty, nothing else compared. It wasn't overly sweet either...I-I can't even really explain.

It was a religious experience, let's just say that.

I honestly don't know why I hadn't hung out with Pinkie sooner. There's just something about her that makes you smile...no matter how you're feeling before. My cheeks were hurting I was smiling so much, but I didn't care. I suppose she's the Element of Laughter for a reason.

One thing was bothering me though.

I tried not to let my mind pry, but underneath her laughter and smiles I began to see something else. I knew it was something she wanted to hide, so I pretended not to notice, but every now and then when she knew no one was looking at her but me, she would look at me and give a sad smile. During those moments I saw so much in those pretty blue eyes. I saw sadness, loss, and loneliness.

I was going to get to the bottom of this, and I had a feeling she needed me, so I hopped up and announced, "Hey Pinkie, I want to take a walk. Want to come with?" She looked up at me with her well-practiced grin and nodded furiously, so I faced the rest of the group. "Hey guys, we're gonna take a walk. Be back later, okay?"

Luna nodded. "We will be here, Steelbreaker."

Pinkie and I walked into Everfree, stopping at the small pond where I met Moonfang. She sat down on a rock and looked at me with a blank face, and I sat in front of her.

I sighed and said, "Okay Pinkie, I know you're the Element of Laughter for a reason. You can't fake the kind of laughter and joy needed to be it, but I could tell that some times at the picnic you were forcing it. What's wrong?"

She stared at me for a second before closing her eyes and sighing...her mane and tail deflated from their normal poofiness, instead becoming straight. She looked up at me, this time with tears in her eyes, and when she spoke, her voice had lost its bubbly sound. She sounded much younger, almost like she was a completely different pony.

"Okay, I'll talk. Please Steel...I want you to Pinkie promise you won't tell anypony about this." she stated with an oddly serious expression.

I nodded and went through the motions as I said, "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."

She smiled softly before continuing. "Okay...what do you know about my past?"

I tapped a hoof to my chin, thinking for a moment. "Well, I know how you got your cutie mark, as well as the fact that you lived on a rock farm with your family before coming here. Beyond that, not much."

The solemn mare nodded. "Well that's all true...but it's not the whole story. There's a reason I left the rock farm to come here. I tell all my friends it's because I fell in love with Ponyville because it was so pretty and the ponies were all smiles, but that's only partly true, and not the reason I left the farm to come to Ponyville in the first place.” The mare shuddered a bit as she recalled what could only be a painful memory before continuing. “After I got my cutie mark thanks to Dashie, I was so happy. I thought nothing could bring me down...until my mama got sick. We didn't have the money to take her to the hospital, so..."

She didn’t have to say anymore, and nor could she. I understood what she was implying, and I felt for her as well. The waterworks started in earnest as she sniffled, so I stepped behind her and wrapped my forelegs around her in a hug. At this contact, she burst out into sobs, holding my arms tightly.

I wrapped my wings around her comfortingly and placed my head next to hers. "It's okay Pinkie, I'm your friend. I'm here for you, I Pinkie promise."

A few minutes later, she stopped sobbing and nodded her head. The mare took a deep shaky breath before continuing. "Anyway, after mommy was gone, I saw daddy and my sisters really sad. I wanted to cheer them up, because I knew that's what mommy would want. She wouldn't want us to be sad for her. So, I threw a party in her honor. I remember taking my daddy inside the house after a long day of work, and when he opened the door, he just stared at the decorations I had put up. I had a cake that I made for him that I wrote, ‘It's gonna be okay’ on. He just stared at it for awhile before he finally looked at me. I’ll never forget his face at that moment, because daddy was crying. He just went to his room and locked the door." She drew in another pained, shaky breath. "The next morning I got out of bed like I always do and went to go wake up daddy. His door was still locked and when I knocked and called him he wouldn't answer. I got worried so I forced the door open..." Tears began to fall in great amounts now, but she bravely trudged on. "I thought daddy was floating at first...but then I saw a rope. I didn't know what was happening, so I tried to wake him up. I thought that maybe he was just sleeping or something...but he wouldn't wake up or move." The floodgates opened again, and Pinkie started bawling. It took a few minutes of consoling her, but then she finally continued with, "I couldn't live there anymore after that...it hurt too much. I always loved baking for mama and daddy, and I heard the Cakes needed a good baker here in Ponyville. They were offering room and board, so I moved here." She then lowered her head and shook it. "I...I don't even remember my sisters' names. It's like they just disappeared. I know I had sisters...but I can't even remember what they look like." She finally stopped crying but still looked just as sad as she looked me in the eyes, those beautiful pools of blue glazed over with tears. "Did daddy do it...because of me?"

I hugged her tighter and replied in a very stern voice, "No Pinkie, he didn't. He did it because he was selfish. I'm sorry Pinkie, I don't mean to bad-mouth your father because I know you loved him, but he didn't think of what this would do to you...or your sisters. He did it because he blamed himself for your mother's death. He felt bad that he didn't make enough money to get her the medical treatment she needed. He did it because he felt like he deserved it. It was in no way your fault, Pinkie." I didn't really know what I was talking about, but from what I could deduce it made sense.

I just hoped Pinkie would see it that way.

Thankfully she did, and I saw this was so when she turned around and looked up at me, a faint smile on her lips. "Thank you Steelie. I wish I had a friend like you."

"I thought we were friends Pinkie. You don't want to be my friend?" I asked in confusion.

She shook her head. "I do...but you probably don't want to be mine anymore, not after all this.” She then hung her head in sorrow and shame.

I snorted in annoyance and ordered, "Pinkamena Diane Pie, look at me." She immediately looked at me, fear in her eyes. I stared at her for a second, and then kissed her on the forehead and embraced her. "I still and always want to be your friend Pinkie...all the more so now because I know who the real Pinkie is. Don't ever be afraid to be sad or show what you're really feeling around your friends, because you insult them by thinking that they won't like you anymore if you aren't happy all the time, every day. You know what feeling more than just happiness makes you?” I allowed her time to respond, but she simply shook her head. I brushed a few strands of her mane out of her eyes and smiled. “It makes you normal. We all feel sad, or mad, or scared sometimes. Your friends will always be there to bring you back to happiness though...remember that." She looked up at me and I nuzzled her nose, at which point giggled happily. "No more faking, Pinkie. Do you promise?"

Her mane and tail poofed up a bit and she grinned. "Pinkie promise."

"Now...are you ready to get back to your friends?" I asked with a grin of my own.

She sighed and smiled. "My friends..." Her mane and tail then inflated to full poofiness again and she exclaimed, "Yeah! Let's get back and have some fun!"

I chuckled and nuzzled her. "Good girl, Pinkie. Don't forget - you're never alone."

She smiled and was back to her bouncing bubbly self. She bounded towards the edge of the forest before stopping, and she looked back at me with seriousness. "You won't tell anyone, right?"

I shook my head. "You need to tell them yourself at some point Pinkie, but no, I'm not going to tell them." She nodded and smiled, and we left the forest together.

When we returned, the sun had begun to go down, but everyone was still waiting at the picnic spot of course. For some reason my brother thought it'd be a good idea to wrestle Moonfang, even though the wolf was easily stronger than him, so I decided to break it up before he got hurt.

"Alright guys, that's enough.” I stated as I used my magic to pry them apart. I glared at Twilight and asked, "Why didn't you stop them?"

She shrugged. "I thought it would be funny."

I shook my head with a sigh and laid myself down next to her and Luna. "Twi, I think you're spending too much time around me." Dash walked over and snuggled up against my side as well.

"No, I think I'm spending just enough time with you." Twi said with a smile.

I laughed. "Well I can't argue with that." Pinkie sat down next to Luna and lay down, propping her head on my back leg.

Luna looked down at the pink earth-pony, then at me. "What did you two do on this walk of yours?"

Pinkie looked at me and I smiled. "Pinkie will tell you when she's ready." Luna cocked an eyebrow at me, and I gasped and shook my head violently. "N-no, we didn't do anything of that nature, I assure you. It was completely different but personal for Pinkie. Like I said, she'll tell you when she's ready."

Luna held a stern gaze with me for a moment before she sighed and nodded.

We spent the rest of the day just like that - a group of friends enjoying time away from the world and simply basking in the warmth of each other's friendship. It was so nice...I decided we should definitely do this more often. When Luna caused the moon to rise and the air began to chill, we all called it a night and went our respective ways. Amazingly Rarity and Moonfang had "clicked" quite well, and embraced softly as they parted ways. I waved goodbye to Rarity and Applejack, and began to head back to the library, but then I saw Pinkie Pie walking off on her own to Sugarcube Corner.

I turned to Dash, Luna, and Twilight and said, "Girls, go on and head to the library. I'll be there soon...I'm going to walk Pinkie home."

Luna nodded. "Very well, we will await you at Twilight's home then."

I quickly trotted over to Pinkie and she smiled when she saw me. "Hi Steel, aren't you going home?"

I shook my head. "I will, but you shouldn't have to walk home alone Pinkie. Twi and the others can wait for me a bit."

If I didn't know better I'd say she blushed by how she acted, but I couldn't tell with the color of her coat. She gratefully replied, "Th-thanks Steelie. I appreciate it."

I smiled and placed a wing around her, shielding her from the cold evening air. "No problem, Pinkie."

We walked in silence most of the way, until she finally spoke up. "Hey Steel, thank you for all that...for earlier. I feel so much better now that I told somepony, and you're right, I shouldn't be fake in front of my friends. I'm still scared that they won't like me anymore though."

I chuckled. "Don't take this the wrong way Pinkie, but the whole mad party pony act can get kind of intense...and yes, I know it's an act for the most part. Your friends love you, but to know who you really are they'll love you even more. It'll add an entire new dimension to who you are...somepony they can finally relate to and identify with. Don't ever be afraid to be yourself, Pinkie."

She nodded. "Thanks Steel. Don't tell Twilight, but I think you're smarter than she is."

I barked a hearty laugh. "I don't know about all that, but thanks Pinkie."

When we arrived at Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie unlocked the door and stepped in. "Well, thanks for walking me home Steel. Will I get to see you again soon?"

I nodded. "I'm staying at Twi's house, so just drop by whenever. Besides, I know Twilight and Dash always love seeing you...Luna too." She nodded and kicked the floor nervously, so I smiled and gently kissed her forehead."Goodnight Pinkie...sweet dreams." The mare smiled warmly and nodded before closing the door. I focused on the library and disappeared in a flash.

I reappeared in the library's main room, so I trotted upstairs, cleaned up and got into bed. The girls must've been busy doing something because I didn't see them around, so I just turned off the lights and lay in the bed, closing my eyes. I heard the door open a few moments later as the three ponies entered, and I stretched out my wings as they all laid around me, Twilight lying on my chest. I barely had time to wrap my wings around them lovingly before their warmth lulled me to sleep.

Cold Rage

Chapter 10: Cold Rage

I woke up to an empty bed, but I was rested all the same, so I rolled over onto my stomach and said, "Ah…what a good dream." to myself.

I stepped into the washroom to clean myself up a bit, and frowned at my mane. I was so used to not really doing anything with my hair back on Earth that I realized I hadn't brushed my mane once since I'd been here. It was frizzy with strands going this way and that, so I grabbed a brush and sighed…this was going to suck. I proceeded to brush out my mane, getting all the tangles out and all the strands flowing the same way. My eyes would tear up whenever I hit a knot. 'Dammit…how do women do this without crying every time? What a pain…'

After brushing out my mane and doing the same to my tail, I grabbed a short-bristled brush and brushed out my coat until it shined like it did when I first came to Equestria. I stepped out of the washroom and descended the stairs, catching the attention of Twilight and Luna, who were eating a bit of breakfast at the table.

Luna smiled at me. "Well good morning, Steel. You look very…dashing, as Rarity would say it."

I chuckled. "Nah, I just figured I need to start taking some pride in my appearance. You girls don't deserve to be seen with a stallion that looks like he's homeless. The mane was a pain…literally."

Twilight giggled with a smirk. "Now you see what we go through to look nice for you. I hope you appreciate our work."

I nodded as I sat down and raised my hooves to the air. "I do now, my eyes have been opened. I see the light!" My antics caused both the mares to laugh, and I couldn’t help but revel in the sound of their laughter.

We quickly finished a breakfast of eggs, hash, and hay (which much to my surprise was pretty good) and cleaned up the kitchen. Luna gave each of us a kiss on the cheek (yes, Twilight too) and stated that she needed to get back to the palace, as she had duties to attend to and missed her sister. We hugged her and said our goodbyes, with a few tears in our eyes.

Luna simply gazed at both of us with a smile. "I shall miss you both, but I will keep in touch with letters and I will make sure to come back to you when I can. I love you both and we will be together again soon, I Pinkie promise." We hugged her again and she trotted out the door.

This left just Twilight and I in a now strangely quiet room. It seemed less like home without Luna there, and I could tell Twilight felt the same way.

Dash walked in the library and looked over at us, taking notice of our somber expressions.

The pegasus frowned a bit and questioned, "Luna had to go back, didn't she?" Twi and I nodded and Dash closed her eyes and sighed. Then, she surprised us both with a confident smile. "Don't worry you two, she'll be back before we know it." She came over and hugged both me and Twilight, and this made me feel a little better. "I promise, it's going to be okay. It's not like we're never going to see her again…she's like family."

I tilted my head in confusion at first, but quickly realized Dash was right. It took me a moment to realize just how close we all were with Luna. Family…that felt like the right word. Twilight looked at me and smiled, and I realized we had become a family right before my eyes, and I hadn't even noticed. It just felt so natural. It scared me for a moment at just how easy it was going, but seeing Dashie's smiling face made my worries melt away.

Dash had left again to pick up her duties on the weather team, as she had been slacking a bit. I felt kinda bad until she told me it was worth it. Twilight also had work to do, as she had been shirking her studies, so I gave her a kiss before I left, leaving her and Spike to work.

I decided to take a walk in the park to clear my mind and found myself in a main square with a fountain and benches. For a moment I simply took in the scenery, but then I saw Vinyl sitting on a bench next to a familiar mint-green unicorn. I chortled at the way she was sitting. 'Guess the fan fictions were right.'

I trotted over to the duo with a smile. "Hey Vinyl! How ya been, girl?"

The DJ looked over at me and smiled before she jumped off the bench tackled me to the ground, hugging me. "Man Steel, it's been a long time. Where have ya been?"

I chuckled and smiled, returning the hug. "Oh you know, here and there. How's the music going?"

The white unicorn grinned and winked at me. "It's going great. Dark came by the other day and showed me how to make that dubstep music you showed me. I played it for the first time at one of my shows last night…and the crowd went nuts. Thanks for that, Steel."

She stepped off of me and I stood up with a grin as well. "No prob, Vinyl. Always here to help a fellow musician."

I then looked over at the new unicorn, realizing I hadn't even introduced myself. Vinyl noticed too and took the lead. "Oh I'm sorry, Lyra this is Steelbreaker. He's a friend of mine. Steelbreaker, this is Lyra Heartstrings. We've been friends for I don't even know how long." I looked at Lyra and smiled at which point she started blushing profusely. 'So cute…'

I approached her and held out a hoof. "It's nice to meet you Lyra."

The unicorn stared at me with a dreamy expression for a moment, but must've realized what she was doing and shook her head, regaining her composure. She grabbed my hoof in hers and shook it. "It's nice to meet you too, Steelbreaker. Vinyl has told me a lot about you. I was wondering when I was going to meet you."

She started staring again with that dreamy expression, and I grinned. "Lyra you might want to blink once in awhile so your eyes won't dry out."

The mare blushed and looked away, clearing her throat. "Y-yeah, sorry."

I felt Vinyl pop up in my head and she sent, “She totally digs you, Steel.” I grinned at Vinyl and nodded.

Vinyl had to leave to set up her show for tonight, and as expected Lyra chose to stay with me in the park. I wished Vinyl good luck and she left, leaving me and the little unicorn sitting on the bench. I was slumped down in the bench, sitting much the same as Lyra was, and she noticed.

She tilted her head at me curiously. "You sit like that too? Wow…I thought I was the only one.

I chuckled. "Well Lyra, it felt better with my old body…" My hoof shot up to my mouth in realization of what I’d let slip, and I started mentally berating myself. 'Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…'

The mare at my side looked at me with utter confusion, and a little suspicion. "What do you mean your ‘old body'?"

I sighed in defeat, as I didn’t want to lie to her for some reason. "Alright I can tell you because I already have the feeling you're going to be a good friend to me. You have to swear that you won't tell anypony else though. This is a super-duper-mega secret, you got it?" She nodded and I quickly looked around to be sure we weren’t being watched, then I continued with, "Okay…I'm not from this world."

She stared at me for a second before bursting out laughing. "Haha, very funny Steel…" She stopped laughing however when she noticed that I was staring at her, straight-faced. She grew uneasy. "Steel…you're scaring me a little bit. This joke isn't funny anymore."

I sighed in annoyance. "I kinda figured you wouldn't believe me, so I'll just show you." I leaned over and touched my horn to her forehead, focusing on passing on the memory of my first meeting with Luna, back on Earth. After the transfer, Lyra just sat there with her mouth hanging open.

I must have been five minutes before she spoke, "W-wow…you weren't joking."

I shook my head. "No, I wasn't. You believe me now?"

She nodded slowly before making eye contact and asking, "How is this possible though? I mean, I've always hoped Terra wasn't the only world out there, but I never really thought about it beyond that."

I laughed. "Well I may be an alicorn now, but you're sitting with a genuine alien."

She hopped off the bench and started bouncing around in excitement. "This is so COOL! I never thought in a million years…"

At her outburst, I grabbed the unicorn with magic and sat her down on the bench. "The whole reason I told you to keep it a secret was to not cause a scene. Well, you're causing one. I know you're excited, but please control yourself in public." She looked crestfallen for a moment before smiling at me and nodding in agreement.

Lyra and I walked around the park for quite some time before settling beneath a tree. I propped myself up against it and Lyra sat next to me. For a moment the two of us sat in silence before I said, "So Lyra, I just realized that I don't really know that much about you. What's your story?"

The mare smiled. "Well, I've lived in Ponyville most of my life. I moved here when I was just a filly with my mother...she was a doctor at the hospital."

I realized she said "was", and I found myself strangely curious. "'Was'? What does she do now?" She lost her smile and looked down at the ground. "Oh...I'm sorry Lyra. I had no idea."

The small unicorn closed her eyes and sighed. "It's okay, you didn't know. Not many ponies do. Just Bon Bon and Vinyl really, that's about it. And before you ask no, Bon Bon and I aren't together."

I chuckled. "Not that I was going to ask, but okay."

She furrowed her brow and then sighed. "I'm sorry Steel. I was teased a lot in school for being a filly-fooler and I guess it still bothers me. Most ponies in Ponyville don't really care, but once in awhile there's one pony or another that wants to make a big deal about it when they see us in public. Bon Bon and I are just good friends, nothing more. Besides, she doesn't 'swing' that way."
The mare looked up at me and I smiled warmly. "Don't worry Lyra, I don't judge one way or the other, it's not my place to do so. I also don't really have a problem with said lifestyle...you love who you love." I chuckled. "It's kinda funny, Vinyl got it in her head that you liked me that way."

She was silent for a moment before responding, "Well actually..."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh really? Well, I'm flattered to have caught the eye of such a pretty and cool mare."

She blushed, but shook her head. "C'mon Steel, I'm not pretty. Now Vinyl is pretty. I'm just...plain."

'Great, another Fluttershy...' "I don't give compliments just to give them, Lyra. If I say you're pretty, you're pretty. Accept the compliment." I said sternly.

Lyra blushed again, but rolled her eyes with a smile. "Well when you put it that way, I guess I have no choice."

I nudged her with a grin of my own. "There, was that so hard?"

She rolled her eyes again. "Well Steel, it's been fun but I have to get going. Bon Bon will be expecting me at home, we're going out tonight to Vinyl's club. Will I see you again?"

I nodded. "You will. I'm staying at Twilight's place though, so you can drop by if you're in the neighborhood."

The mint-green unicorn nodded before scampering off. "Alright Steel, I'll see ya!"

By now it must have been a little after 17:00, as the sun was just starting to touch the horizon, so I headed home with a smile on my face. I couldn't deny that I liked Lyra, but it wouldn't be fair to be more than a friend to her without my girls being okay with it. I may have settled into the idea of multiple marefriends, but I still had my morals. I took my time getting home to find a note on the door written in handwriting I didn't recognize. It simply said, "Northern Cliffs, 18:00. Come alone." For some reason this awakened a nameless fear in my heart, and I burst through the front door to find my brother sitting on the couch with Spike, my mother and sister standing next to the kitchen with sad faces. Spike was crying, and I felt horror well up inside me.

"Where is she?" I asked with panic in my voice.

My brother looked up and said, "We don't know, she was gone when I got home."

I really started panicking now. "When was the last time anyone saw her?"

My brother shrugged. "I haven't seen her since this morning."

I looked at the clock...17:43.

I left the library and took to the skies, flying faster than I ever have. I flew to where I thought these Northern Cliffs were, and landed in a clearing next to a cliff face. I looked around before I saw them - an entire squad of twelve armored gryphons. I saw Twilight being held by the one in front with some sort of weird object on her horn, and her eyes widened when she saw me. Twilight started struggling and the beast in front slapped her, making her stop.

I flinched and ground my teeth in anger, roaring, "What do you want?"

The gryphon in front smiled. "Well if I was briefed correctly, you have my captain locked in the Canterlot dungeons. We propose a trade...our captain for this unicorn. Agree and everyone walks away happy. Disagree..." He then dug a claw into Twilight's side and drew a long cut from her shoulder to her cutie mark, causing Twilight to scream in pain through her gag.

I growled but figured it best to not argue, so I nodded. "Fine. Hold on." I then quickly made contact with Celestia. “Celestia, it's Steel. We have a situation at the Northern Cliffs.”

The urgency in my mental voice must have been heard, because I felt her connect with my eyes and heard her gasp. “Is that Twilight? This is TREASON! They will pay for this...”

“Later princess. They want those gryphons in the dungeon or they're going to torture her...possibly kill her.”

I heard Celestia gasp again. “Okay Steel, I'll prepare transport. Just wait, we'll be there within an hour. Please distract them somehow!”

I glared at the gryphon that held Twilight. "Princess Celestia herself states transport is being arranged for your comrades." The gryphon laughed. "Do you think me a fool? I wasn't hatched yesterday you know. I warned you..." With that, he grasped Twilight's foreleg and punched her in the chest hard. I heard a resounding *CRACK*, and Twilight fell to the ground, breathing with much labor, tears flowing from her eyes.

With that sound, something in me snapped. I felt my armor cover my body, but something was different...I began to feel the sensation of ice underneath my skin, spreading quickly...

Perspective change - Twilight

Pain...so much pain.

Can't breathe.

I'm going to die...this is it.

I started to cry, already missing my friends. I just wanted to go home...why did this have to happen? Why? I closed my eyes.

'I'm so sorry, Steel. I'm sorry I wasn't stronger...'

I was ready to resign myself to my fate, so I opened my eyes to look at Steel one more timel...and was suddenly afraid again. Something was happening to him. I didn't know what but I could feel the magic in the air as It made my horn tingle. His armor was covering him, but I could feel magic flowing into him from the surrounding air. I felt something in the air...something that reminded me of Luna when she was Nightmare Moon...


I saw dark clouds forming overhead, casting the bright day into blackness. Steel was clenching his teeth so tight I thought they were going to crack, and he was snorting like a mad bull. I felt the air around me suddenly get very cold, and I could see my breath through the rag that had been stuffed in my mouth. Steel began to be covered in some sort of darkness, as if the light from around him was just ceasing to exist...it was like the air itself became black. His body continued to drink it in and I saw him start to grow taller, larger, and more menacing until the energy surrounding him obscured my view and all I saw was a dark cloud of crackling energy.

The cloud started to take shape, and it only scared me more.

It looked like Steel, but with a flowing white mane and tail that looked like ice crystals, and armor as blue as the ocean. Its fur was no longer silver, but instead a pale blue to match the armor, and its cutie mark was a sword that looked like it was made of ice. The pony then opened its eyes of pale blue and smiled at the gryphon that had hit me.

"Hello there. I heard from a friend that you enjoy torturing helpless ponies. Is that right?" It said, the voice having the sound of howling winds accompanying it.

The gryphon growled, "Who are you?"

The pony laughed. "I have no name, but I suppose you'll need a name to remember me by in the afterlife. You may call me Frostrender."

The gryphon laughed. "What a foolish name. I'll be sure and inscribe it on your headstone." The leader gryphon lunged at the tall pony, but Frostrender simply stood there with a smile on his face. When the gryphon was inches away, Frostrender blinked...and the gryphon froze solid, falling to the ground.

Frostrender simply looked down at the frozen body, a wide grin on his face. "Tsk tsk...it's too bad. You would have made a nice captain one day, I'm sure." With that, he stomped on the frozen gryphon, shattering it into pieces. The other gryphons screeched in alarm and started to run away. "Oh no, we're not finished yet, young ones." A freezing gale blew the gryphons back to the ground in front of us, and as they started to scramble to get up Frostrender blinked again, and their four limbs were frozen to the earth. The pony finally looked down at me. "Hello Twilight Sparkle, will you be alright? Your Steelbreaker is concerned."

The mention of Steel's name as if he were here gave me comfort for some reason, and I nodded. "I think I have a few broken ribs, but if I get to the hospital I'll be okay I think."

Frostrender smiled. "We are relieved. We apologize you had to see this, but they committed the crime of violence against a loved one. Do not worry, no others need die here today. Your princesses will want words with this bunch."

Perspective change - Princess Celestia

'By the gods, please be okay Twilight and Steel...please...don't die.'

I had lost control as soon as the carriage doors had closed when we left Canterlot, and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I could not bear the loss of Twilight...she was as a daughter to me. It vexed me to no end that this trade would be giving the gryphons the power to attack my student and her friends again, but Twilight’s immediate safety was far more important. As we flew near the cliffs, I looked out the window of the carriage to see a large swirling cloud, creating a blizzard on the ground.

'Hmm...that is not natural weather. Have the weather team been shirking their duties?'

I tapped Luna to get her attention and pointed towards the disturbance. "Sister, does that storm look normal?"

She gazed out of the window and narrowed her eyes. She suddenly sat up quickly with a frightened expression. "Tia, they are there! I'm sure of it! Land the carriage now!"

I was unwilling to wait for the carriage to land, so I flung the door open and flew out, with Luna following closely.

As we approached the storm, I could feel a very familiar energy in the air.

Also sensing the energy, Luna suddenly stopped in fear. "Sister...that feels like..."

I nodded. "Nightmare Moon. That cannot be possible though, she no longer exists. It must be something else. Come sister, we cannot wait."

We flew with all haste into the storm. The blizzard was intense, but I caught the sight of a lavender body in the snow and I landed next to her...Twilight.

I shouted, "Twilight! Are you okay?"

She was obviously in pain, and I could see tears in her eyes as she looked up at me, but she smiled and pointed towards the cliffs. "I'm okay princess...he saved me."

I turned my eyes to where she had pointed, only to be stricken with awe.

There stood what seemed to be the very embodiment of winter, looking out over the ocean. I approached the pale blue pony cautiously, very aware of the incredible amount of magic radiating off of it.

It didn't even turn around as it spoke, "Twilight Sparkle is injured. Princess Luna, you must get her to the hospital now. I would have a word with your sister."

Luna's eyes widened in fear as she whimpered, "W-what are you?"

The figure turned and frowned. "Princess Luna, your friend is in a great deal of pain. There will be time for questions later. For now, tend to her." Luna stared for a moment at the pony, then nodded. She ran to Twilight and disappeared in a flash.

I strode to the icy figure, its smile warm in contrast to the air around me. There was a feeling of so much power, but oddly, no malice. All the same, I was still cautious, as a being with this much raw power could easily do massive damage.

I stopped in front of it, looking deep into its icy blue eyes. "Who are you?"

I was surprised when it bowed to me. "It is an honor, Princess Celestia. I am Frostrender. You could say I am...and acquaintance of Steelbreaker's."

I was confused by his words and stated, "I do not understand. The energy I feel in this place...that is the energy of Nightmare Moon. Is she here?"

It...no, he laughed and shook his head. "The energy you feel does not belong to Nightmare Moon. The energy you feel is the magical pressure of pain...sadness...and hatred. The same fate that befell your sister has befallen Steelbreaker. I am the result."

I suddenly felt fear...and sadness for my sister. If what had befallen Luna had indeed happened to Steelbreaker, there was only one thing that could be done about it. Still, I stood tall with an unreadable expression. "What do you want, Frostrender?"

He smiled at me. "I am Steelbreaker's judgment to those that would do harm to those he loves." He pointed at the chunks of ice that were on the ground behind me. I looked at them to notice...oh my... "I've already passed my judgment to the one that did harm to Twilight Sparkle. The ones behind you are his comrades. Like him, they were determined to torture and kill your beloved student. I have no ill will towards them...they are yours to decide what to do with."

I nodded as I turned my gaze back to him. "Why are you here? You do not seem to be evil as Nightmare Moon was."

Icy laughter reverberated through the cliffside at my statement, and it took a few moments for the being to collect himself. When he did, he answered, "The emotions that called both myself and the one known as Nightmare Moon into being are not evil emotions. The reason Nightmare Moon was as she was is because of the state of the beings living here. As Steelbreaker explained, humans have the potential for both good and evil. Because of this, they also have the ability to control what your world considers 'evil' emotions. Princess Luna did not grow in the world that Steelbreaker did, and so these emotions were too powerful and corrupting for her pure soul and heart. She could not control them, and completely lost herself. Steelbreaker is not lost, and is perfectly fine. He is resigning control to me because he wishes you to hear this from the horse's mouth, so-to-speak, so do not worry yourself, I am only a danger to our enemies.” He then hummed to himself and added, “It appears my time is up. With that I bid you adieu."

I felt the air suddenly warm and the sky cleared, and the ice began to melt, so I cast a knockout spell at the gryphons previously frozen to the ground. A bright flash came from in front of me, and I found myself looking at the sleeping form of Steelbreaker.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I woke up in a room I was unfamiliar with.

I looked up to see what looked to be a magic painting of the night sky above me. I tried to move, but found myself restrained by a hoof and a wing. I looked down to see a white wing and a blue hoof, and next noticed that Luna had fallen asleep snuggling me, and Celestia had draped a protective wing over both of us. I yawned loudly and Celestia began to stir, as did Luna.

Luna's eyes fluttered and she looked at me, so I leaned over and kissed her softly. "Good morning, beautiful." The princess of the night went wide-eyed and fell backwards off of the bed, and I heard giggling from Princess Celestia.

The solar princess gazed down on me and whispered, "That was quite the experience, Steel. Are you okay?”

I nodded and stretched a bit. "Yeah I'll be alright. It just took a lot out of me.” I then pushed myself up to lay with my legs curled under me and asked, “Is Twi going to be okay?"

Luna stood up and fixed her crown before responding, "Twilight had a few broken ribs, but with the help of myself and a few choice unicorn doctors, she is like new. She is resting at the moment."

I relaxed and smiled. "Thank you Luna. I'm sorry if I scared either of you."

The sun princess laughed, her chortles echoing in the large room. "I was afraid at first, but after Frostrender explained himself, I am not worried."

I breathed a sigh of relief. "What about you Luna...you still love me I hope?"

The lunar goddess grinned warmly and nuzzled my cheek affectionately. "I do. I apologize for my expression, I was in shock. I worried that somehow Nightmare Moon had returned."

I laughed. "Well all is well, Luna. I'm okay and Twilight is going to be okay.” I then reaized something I’d overlooked and asked, “What about those gryphons?"

At this, Princess Celestia grimaced. "They'll be lucky if they ever see my sun again. The one that Frostrender disposed of got off easy, I'll say that. I do not take kindly to threats and violence made towards the ones I love either."

I nodded in agreement and asked, "Okay, well where's Twilight? I want to see her."

Luna smiled at me and nuzzled my cheek again. "She's at the library sleeping. It is near midnight, so I am positive she is awake without you there. You should get going."

I frowned a little in guilt. "Are you sure Luna? I don't want to leave you so soon. I miss you."

The dark blue alicorn leaned down and kissed me softly before replying, "I shall miss you as well, dear Steel. It will not be long before I will see you all again, I promise."

I smiled at my beautiful goddess and kissed her back before looking to the alabaster alicorn beside me. "Very well, I'll be going now. Thank you for everything, Princess Celestia."

“You are a friend, Steelbreaker...I ask you simply call me Celestia.” the solar goddess requested.

I nodded once before focusing my magic and teleporting to the library.

I found myself in the main lobby and quickly hurried upstairs to Twilight's room. As I ascended the stairway, I heard giggling, so I gingerly stepped over to the door and walked in. I found myself being stared at by Spike and Twilight, before they both broke into smiles.

I walked over to the bed next to Twilight, and Spike surprised me by standing on the edge of the large bed and hugging me. "Thanks for saving her, Steel...even if you did scare the hay out of her.”

I chuckled and embraced the dragon in a half-hug. "Anything I can do to help Spike." I then released the small dragon and looked at Twilight. She looked tired, but okay otherwise, which I made me relax a bit. I smiled and said, "I don't know about you Twi, but I'm beat. Move over."

She scooted over and I slid under the covers beside her as Spike left the room, turning off the light on his way out. Twilight was silent and just hugged me tight.

"My hero!" I said, impersonating her voice.

She giggled and shoved me before her smile fell away and she took an expression of deep thought. "Steel...I was afraid. I was so afraid you were going to be lost like Luna was. I'm so glad that you're okay.” The unicorn then poked me in the chest and said, “I have to say, I prefer you to be warm like this. I don't do so well with the cold."

I laughed loudly and nodded. "Yeah well I'm just cool like that."

She rolled her eyes. "That was a horrible joke."

I then smirked at her before kissing her. "Yeah, but it's all good."

The last thing I remember was looking into her lovely violet eyes before falling into a deep sleep.

A Stroll in the Darkness

Chapter 11: A Stroll in the Darkness

Perspective change - Spike

I woke up in a bed Dark had made me in his apartment. Ever since Steel had gotten closer with Twi, I'd taken to sleeping in Dark's apartment in the basement. While I knew they weren't "screwing like rabbits" as Dark had said, I think with her finally finding a stallion she cared about that much, she deserved her privacy. Besides, Darkflight's room is awesome. It doesn't get cold down here like it does in Twi's room, and this "man cave" - as Dark had referred to it - gave me a place to get away from Twi when I need to.

She's like a sister to me, and while I love her to death, we do bicker like siblings.

I didn't have to worry about being quiet, because Dark slept like a corpse, so I went over to the guitars that Steel had brought with him from Earth. In our spare time, Dark had been teaching me to play, and during one of his first days at his smithing job, he made me one my size - purple with green trim...just like me.

I started to tune up my guitar when I heard a scream from upstairs.

'Ugh...what the hay...'

"SPIKE! GET UP HERE RIGHT NOW!" ...that was Twi, and she sounded terrified.

I ran over to the sleeping black dragon and shook him hard. "Dark, get up! Something happened!"

He mumbled something and opened his eyes with a growl and a yawn. "Dude, what's going on? Why did you wake me up?"


He looked up. "Was that Twilight? What's going on Spike?"

I shook my head. "I don't know, but she sounds really scared, c'mon!"

We ran all the way up to Twilight's room to find her crying and shaking Steel, screaming his name...the scary part was he wasn't moving at all.

Twilight looked at me in panic, tears in her eyes. "Spike, I can't get him to wake up!"

I knew that in this state, she wasn’t going to be any use for anything, so I simply nodded. "Calm down Twi, freaking out isn't going to do any good. We need to get him to the hospital now." She didn’t break her gaze with the unconscious stallion, but she nodded slowly. I quickly grabbed my saddlebag, and Twi cast her teleport spell.

The next thing I knew, we were at the hospital in Ponyville.

The staff up front just stared at us, so I growled out, "Don't just stand there, get a gurney!" One of the nurses nodded and ran off. I looked over to see Twilight cradling his head in her hooves, tears streaming down her face.

She looked over to me and my heart almost broke. "I don't understand what happened, Spike. He was fine last night..."

I nodded, forcing myself to stay calm...for the both of us. "He'll be okay, Twi. I'll send a letter off to the princesses. They'll know what to do." With that, I pulled out a scroll from my bag and wrote a letter to Celestia, telling her what happened. I torched the scroll and it disappeared on its way to the princess just as a swarm of nurses and a doctor came and picked up Steel, placing him on a gurney and rushing him away. I then looked at Twilight again and said, "Twi, the other girls need to know about this, so Dark and I are going to go get them. Just wait here, we'll be back." She didn't look at me, but nodded.

Perspective change - Rainbow Dash

The sun woke me up from a great dream this morning, so I was a little cranky already.

'Ugh...I like daytime Celestia, but can't you put it off for just another hour?'

I rolled out of my cloud bed and brushed my teeth and mane, then floated downstairs for some breakfast. Too lazy to really make anything, I just grabbed an apple and some water and walked outside. I sat down on the edge of my cloud and ate, admiring the sunrise. I may not be much of a morning pony, but I do know beauty when I see it. Of course I keep up the tough act around Applejack. She'd never let me hear the end of it.

"DASH!" I heard two voices yell.

They startled me and I fell off my cloud, but I quickly righted myself and landed on the ground to find Darkflight and Spike with panicked expressions. I quirked an eyebrow and asked, "Hey guys, what's up?"

Spike was sitting on Dark's shoulders and we waved a claw to follow them. "Dash, something's wrong with Steel. He's at the hospital!"

I swear my heart must've stopped at those words.

My mouth went dry and I started trembling in shock and fear. Steel? At the hospital? No...no that can't be right. I've seen him, he's strong. Why is he in the hospital? This has to be a mistake...this has to be a bad dream or something.

I was frozen...I couldn't think...couldn't breathe.

It must have been pretty urgent because I vaguely felt as Dark just grabbed me and carried me, running at full speed back to Ponyville General...I still couldn't believe it...this had to be a dream.

This isn't happening...

This can't be happening...

Perspective change - Applejack

Steel's brother and Spike had run by the farm and told us to meet Twi at the hospital, explaining that something had happened to Steel. I was so confused though. Steel? Nah, that can't be right. This is the pony that stared down a timberwolf for Fluttershy. This is the pony that saved Twi from gryphons...twice. He didn't get hurt then...why was he in the hospital?

I walked in the front doors of the hospital and saw the other elements, minus RD, in the waiting room up front. Twi was in the corner with tear-stains on her face, just staring ahead at nothing.

The purple unicorn didn't even move when I sat next to her and asked, "Twi, how ya holdin' up?"

"H-he was fine. I just talked to him last night. He was fine..." she whispered.

She looked over at me and I saw the pain in her eyes, and fear. She broke into sobs when she looked at my face so I leaned over and wrapped my forelegs around her, and she buried her face in my chest. Nothing needed to be said, so I just let her cry and rubbed her back with a hoof.

A second later a few other ponies walked in. I recognized Vinyl Scratch and her friend Lyra, but then there were two other ponies I didn't recognize. One of them was an earth pony, like me. She had a dark blue coat, and a shiny golden mane and tail, but no cutie mark. The other pony was a pegasus, bright red with purple mane and tail...she didn't have a cutie mark either. Both of them came and sat next to me and Twi, with terrified looks on their faces.

The blue mare looked over at Twi, and then at me and asked, "How is he? Is he okay?"

I raised an eyebrow and replied, "Ah don't mean ta sound heartless, but who are ya'll?"

She smiled weakly. "I'm his mother."

I was dumbstruck and for a moment my mouth just wouldn’t work right, but I finally whispered, "Kate?" The blue pony nodded. I looked over at the pegasus filly. "Jennie?" She nodded as well. 'When did this happen?'

Just then, the princesses burst in the doors, and I could tell Princess Luna was in a panic. The younger sister shouted, "Where is he? Is he alright? Please somepony tell me something, anything!" She looked over and saw Twilight, so I got up and motioned for her to sit next to Twi, which she accepted.

I walked over to Princess Celestia and bowed my head a bit before saying, "Howdy princess. When did ya'll change Jennie and Kate?"

The sun princess looked sad, but answered, "Well when I'd heard what happened, I knew they'd want to be here. Luna and I went to the library and explained everything, then changed them into their new forms. It may not be as formal a change as Darkflight's was, but the circumstances caused me to opt for a non-formal approach." I nodded and she walked over with me to the waiting room and sat down on a small couch across from me, gazing at Luna before turning her attention back to me. "Any word yet?"

I shook my head. "None yet, princess. Ah jus' got here not too long ago mahself."

She stared down the hallway towards the double doors that lead to the intensive care unit. "I have an idea as to what's happening. I just pray I’m right, for the alternatives are none too good I’m afraid."

Perspective change - Pinkie Pie

No...no...this can't be true. Not after I just got to know him. After our little talk the other day, Steel officially knew me better than anypony now. It sounds bad, but he was closer to me than Dashie has ever been. I felt bad about this, but realized it was my own fault. I was always just so afraid that my friends wouldn't like me anymore if I wasn't "Pinkie Pie: Party Extraordinaire Pony". It made me a little mad at myself, but now wasn't the time for that.

The front doors banged open and there was Spike, Dark, and Dashie. Dashie looked a lot like Twilight did and...are those tears? No...Dashie doesn't cry. Dashie never cries, she's the toughest pony ever!

But she was crying...

I started to cry too...it was just too much. I saw Dashie sit next to Luna and Twilight, and all hugged and had tears flowing freely from their eyes.
Hours had passed, and we still hadn't heard anything from the doctors. Dashie was asleep with a frown on her face and Twilight and Luna had stopped crying. They didn't have a sad fearful look on their faces anymore. Instead, they looked...defeated. For some reason, this made me mad. I mean, I know Luna and Twilight weren't the best at dealing with bad situations, but they were giving up already?

No...that's not good enough.

'Now's the time Pinkie, they need to know who you really are. You need to be strong for them...strong for Steel, the way he was strong for you.'

I tempered my resolve with the knowledge that this needed to be done before I stood up and stomped a hoof loudly, growling. Everypony looked at me in confusion, but I stared right at Twilight and Luna. "What are those looks for? Are you giving up already?"

Luna’s eyes watered up again as she whimpered, "Pinkie Pie, we have not heard anything in hours...it is starting to look hopele-"

I cut her off with a loud, "Shut it!"

This got everypony's attention...even Princess Celestia was staring at me in shock now, mouth hanging open.

I was seething with anger now, which was new for me. "Who do you think you are? You girls say you love him, but you're giving up now? How do you think Steel would feel if he knew you gave up on him this quickly? I'll tell you exactly how he'd feel...he'd be insulted. You all say 'I love you' to him all the time, but it looks to me like you don't mean it. If this is all the confidence you have in him, you don't deserve him." With my little rant finished, I stormed outside to get some fresh air before anypony could say anything.

I lay back against a bench near the front walkway, taking deep breaths in an attempt to calm down. 'They must not care about him as much as they think they do. If that's love, then I love him more than they do combined. Maybe this will wake them up to just how foalish they're acting.'

I ended up sitting by myself for about twenty minutes before anypony came outside, and I was surprised when I saw Princess Celestia. She said nothing and simply sat down beside me, keeping her eyes looking straight ahead for the longest time.

Finally after what felt like an eternity, she whispered, "Pinkie Pie...what was that?"

I stared at the ground, almost like I was trying to burn a hole in it. "That's called tough love, Princess Celestia. If you came out here to yell at me for it, go ahead...I don't feel sorry for what I said though. Somepony needed to say it, and since nopony else was going to, I did."

I looked up to the princess to see her looking at me with deep concern. "Pinkie, this isn't like you...what's wrong?"

I shook my head and laughed bitterly. "That is what's wrong, princess...this is me. The party pony that you all know and love is only a part of who I am. I guess if you are all this surprised, I did a pretty good job at fooling all of you."

She still seemed confused. "I don't understand, Pinkie Pie. Rainbow Dash knows you well, and even she was shocked to see you acting as you were."

I shook my head again with a guilty frown. "No, Dashie doesn't know me as well as she thinks she does. She knows the random pony who bounces everywhere she goes and has a smile on her face whenever she's in public. Steel is the only pony who really knows me. Steel knows me better than any of my other friends. It makes me a little sad, but that's the truth."

I looked over at the princess to see a pained expression on her face. It almost made me cry how much I was hurting her and all of my friends, but they needed this shock.

Princess Celestia looked over at me with a sad frown. "Pinkie, I apologize...I had no idea."

I turned my eyes back to the brick walkway and kicked my hooves a little. "I was hiding who I was for all these years because I was afraid my friends would stop liking me if they knew who I really was, and how I really felt. I'm happy most of the time...there's a reason the Element of Laughter chose me. Still, I get sad and mad just like every other pony. And you know what? It's okay. Steel helped me see that." I felt tears well up in my eyes, but fought them back. "If everypony else wants to think it's hopeless after such a short time, then fine...they can leave for all I care. They don't deserve to be there. I won't lose hope though...I won't give up on Steel.” I then lifted my gaze to look at the most powerful living thing on Terra, and didn’t even blink as I met her eyes. “He wouldn't give up on any of us if we were in his position."

The princess stared right back at me for a few moments before smiling softly. "Pinkie, you are displaying a courage and will that I never thought you possessed. I honestly didn't think you had it in you."

I laughed sadly. "Well princess, there's a lot of things that not you, your sister, nor any of my friends ever thought I had in me."

She nodded. "You are correct Pinkie Pie.” The tall pony then stood from the bench and gestured a hoof to the sliding glass doors that led to the hospital waiting room. “Shall we go back inside?" I nodded and we walked to the waiting room.

As the princess and I walked back into the waiting room, I could feel everypony's eyes on me. Normally everypony staring at me would make me feel nervous...instead, I felt proud. I knew I had done the right thing, and for the first time in my life, I was proud of myself for something other than a party I planned or a cake that I baked. I felt my mane and tail curl up back to normal, and I felt happy. I wasn't sad, because I knew Steel was going to be alright. He was too strong to let whatever this was stop him, and I knew that.

I sat down on a couch near the door by myself, looking down the hallway towards the patient rooms. I closed my eyes for a second and just let my mind wander. I began to realize that I really liked Steel. A year or two ago, I used to have a bit of a crush on Dashie, but even when I thought of her, I didn't feel like this. This wasn't the infatuation I felt when I liked Dashie...this was something else. Something...more. I didn't know if it was love because I'd never been in love before, but I definitely had strong feelings for Steel. I giggled a bit. 'If only my friends knew what goes on in my head...'

A few minutes passed by and I felt somepony sit beside me, and I opened my eyes and looked to my right to see Luna sitting next to me, a smile on her face. She leaned over and hugged me tight, catching me a little off-guard, but I returned the hug.

When we broke the embrace, she simply looked at me with what I could only see as gratitude. "Thank you Pinkie...thank you for helping us see our error. We should not have lost hope as we did."

I waved a hoof off and smiled wide. "No problem, princess! I'm glad your frowny-wowny is turned upside-downy!" She giggled and I felt warmth in my chest...I loved it when my friends laughed.

After a few minutes, we saw a doctor walking down the hall towards us, so I stood up and smiled at him. "Well? How is he doing?"

The unicorn doctor looked confused as he leafed through a folder he was levitating in front of him. "Physically he's in perfect condition. I don't understand.” He must have realized that he was almost talking to himself, so he looked to all of us and lowered his head a bit in shame. “I'm sorry, but he's in a coma...we just don't know why."

I felt fear start to chill my insides, but I fought it back. Instead, I looked at all the ponies in the waiting room and smiled. "It's okay girls, he'll be alright, I Pinkie promise." They knew how I am about my promises, and thankfully this put them at relative ease.

Princess Celestia walked up to the doctor and said, "Thank you doctor. I need to see him."

The unicorn nodded. "Of course, princess. Follow me please." and with that, they disappeared down the hallway.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

Blackness...unending blackness...that's all I saw.

What might have been hours ago - or years for all I know - I had decided to play a game of "bottles of beer on the wall"...only starting at one million, just to see how far I'd get. I thought it was weird that I was conscious of the fact that I was not conscious (which in itself is a sort of paradox), but that quickly faded into extreme boredom.

I had gotten to 887,923 bottles of beer when I felt another presence behind me. Normally I would be a little cautious, but I was just happy I wasn't alone.

I turned around to see Frostrender, grinning at my attempt to relieve my boredom. "Wow Steelbreaker, you are really bored."

I nodded with a sigh. "I'm stuck here for Celestia-knows how long, and I thought I would be by myself. I'm just trying to keep some semblance of sanity."

The tall ice-blue alicorn walked up to me and sat on his haunches. "Steelbreaker, you are in a coma."

My eyes widened. "What? What happened to me? I don't remember getting hurt...did I fall out of bed really hard or something while I was asleep?"

He laughed and shook his head. "No Steelbreaker, in fact you are completely fine. And before you start worrying, you will come out of this coma very soon."

I breathed a sigh of relief and nodded, but was still confused. "Well why am I in a coma in the first place then?"

I watched as he lowered his head a bit in what I could only perceive as shame, and he responded, "It may be partially my fault. With the addition of me to your body, the levels of magic within you rose exponentially. Your alicorn body forced you into a coma to adjust itself. You will wake up when the process is complete."

I was still confused. "Wait, this doesn't make sense. When Luna was Nightmare Moon, she never had this happen to her. I wasn't in Equestria at that time, but I'm pretty sure the news of the feared Nightmare Moon falling into a coma would have made headlines."

He laughed at me again and said, "This is true, but you have to remember that your change was not the same as Luna's. Luna became Nightmare Moon, whereas you and I are two separate entities within one body. Had Luna's change been as yours was, the same thing would have happened to her."

I thought about it for a moment before accepting it. It did make sense, as every body is meant to support only one soul. I was just glad my body is simply adjusting instead of dying. I looked back to my alter ego and asked, "Well okay then, when am I waking up?"

He smiled. "Very soon actually. Since your mind works faster when you're sleeping, you will be waking up any minute now. However in reality, two weeks have passed."

My eyes widened. "Two weeks? What the hell! Oh my God, the girls are going to kill me for putting them through this..."

I could start to hear other voices around me and a faint "beep...beep...beep" sound, so Frostrender smiled. "It is time to wake up, Steelbreaker. We shall speak again sometime."

"G...ov...ere..una...He's waking up!"

I groaned and opened my eyes, and instantly felt an intense burning in them. Not really caring who was around, I pleaded with dry, scratchy voice, "Please somepony turn off the lights..." I heard the clopping of hooves and a *click* as the lights turned off, so I opened my eyes again to a mercifully darkened room. Everything was blurry so I rubbed my eyes with my hooves, and when I opened them again, I saw myself face-to-face with Dash. She looked like she was about to pounce on me, but before that I rasped out, “Water...”

“One sec, Steel...” the rainbow-maned pegasus responded before lifting a cup to my lips, which I sipped and smiled as I felt the wonderful liquid coat my tongue and throat, mercifully chasing away the desert in my mouth.

With that out of the way, I smiled and pulled the cyan mare into a tight hug. "Oh Dashie...you don't know how glad I am to see you." She giggled and hugged me back quickly before releasing the embrace. I looked around the room to see all of my friends were there, even Celestia had made an appearance.

Pinkie was smiling a giant smile as she said, "See? What did I tell you! I told all of you he'd be fine but nooo, no one believes Pinkie Pie.”

I smiled and motioned Pinkie over to me, and when she got close I grabbed her in a tight hug, making her blush something fierce. I then whispered, "Thank you so much Pinkie. Thank you for watching out for me."

The earth pony giggled and nodded as she returned my embrace. "I knew you were going to be okay. You wouldn't let something as small as a coma take you down."

I nodded. "Darn right." I looked around the room trying to spot Twilight when I felt a pair of hooves around my neck. Thinking it was Twilight I turned to my left with a smile, and found myself staring at a blue mare with a golden mane. "Umm...you're obviously glad I'm okay, so thank you for that...but who are you ma'am?"

She looked at me and smirked. "What, don't know your own mother?"

I stared with my mouth open for a moment before whispering, "Mom? Wh-when did this happen?"

A small red pegasus with a violet mane and tail jumped on me, smiling. "The princesses changed us the day you got here."

My eyes grew even wider. "Jen? Wow...this is intense. I might fall into another coma just from the shock."

At that statement, I felt a large hoof punch my shoulder, and I turned to my right to see a very angry Luna. "Don't you dare, Steel!"

I laughed. "Oh please, it was a joke. I'm not planning going anywhere anytime soon, Luna. You're stuck with me for awhile."

She rolled her eyes and pouted. "Well it was not funny."

I chuckled and pulled her into a tight hug, kissing her on the forehead. "I'm sorry I put you through this Luna. I'll make it up to you somehow, I promise." I began to see all my other friends close in, and was pleased to see Lyra there as well, but before they could get any closer I held up a hoof. "Whoa whoa, let's save the group hug for when we get outside please. I need to get out of this bed...I'm all stiff (giggity). Someone get a nurse please so I can sign out and get out of here."

Nurse Redheart must have heard me because she stepped into the room. "Well hello there Steelbreaker, it's good to see you're awake. How are you feeling?"

I grinned. "No offense Nurse Redheart, but I'm feeling like I want to get out of here."

The white earth pony giggled gently and nodded. "Very well, let me get the forms and we'll get you signed out."

After signing out I was wheeled out by Nurse Redheart. Because of hospital policy, I had to leave in a wheelchair, which I was none too happy with. All the same, I was happy to be leaving.

After getting a few feet away from the hospital, I stood from the wheelchair...only to be tackled by ten ponies, while Celestia, my brother, Spike, and my mother looked on. I could have sworn I felt a hoof or two feel me up. Had I air in my lungs, I would have been laughing.

It was great to be back.

We all headed home after I said goodbye to all my friends, though Pinkie looked a little sad. I walked over to her and ran my hoof through her mane, asking, "What's wrong, Pinks?"

The bubbly mare giggled and said, "Rainbow Dash calls me that."

I chuckled as I sat down next to her. "Well now Dash and me call you that. But what's wrong?"

She huffed as she sat down next to me as well. "I'm glad you're okay Steel, but I kinda wanted to spend some more time with you. I know you have marefriends now, but..."

I smiled. "It's okay Pinkie. I'm pretty tired today, so I'm probably just going to go to bed, but if you're not doing anything tomorrow I'd be more than happy to hang out with you if you're okay with Dashie, Twi, and Lyra coming too. I promised Lyra I'd hang out with her as well."

The pink pony smiled her massive Pinkie smile and said, "I don't mind, I'll bring cupcakes! We'll have a picnic in the park!"

I smiled and nodded. "That actually sounds great Pinkie." She started to bounce away but I grabbed her tail in my teeth and yanked it back, pulling her into a hug. "Thank you Pinkie."

When I looked down, I could see a faint blush on her cheeks as she asked, "For what, Steelie?"

I smiled and nuzzled her mane. "For giving everypony hope when they started to lose theirs."

She smiled and returned the hug in earnest. "You're welcome...you all are." We broke the hug and she bounded away faster than she should have been able to.

I missed Pinkie's odd physics...

When I arrived home we ate a quick dinner and got ready for bed. Dash helped me clean in the shower, as I felt like I needed one bad after a week in bed. Feeling refreshed I headed to Twilight's room to find only her there.

I looked around and asked, "Twi, where's Luna?"

The lavender unicorn looked a little sad when she responded, "Luna had to leave. There's a lot of things to take care of back at the palace.” A faint smile then appeared on her face. “She said she'd be back in two days though, so don't worry."

I smiled as well and said, "Well that's good."

I slid into bed and tried to fall asleep, but oddly found myself unable to, even with how exhausted I was. Twilight was soon snoring beside me, as was Dash, so I just headed out to the balcony to look at the stars.

The air was chilly with winter being only a week away, so I closed the door behind me. I stepped out towards the railing and leaned my forelegs on it, just looking at the beautiful night sky Luna had no doubt made for me. I let my mind wander aimlessly for a bit before I found myself thinking about the world we left behind. I found it odd seeing as how I didn't really miss it, and realized the only emotion I felt towards Earth...was pity. Earth, a world where war was the norm...a world where someone being kind was so rare, it might as well be a super-power. Earth was a world where everyone cared about themselves before anyone else. A world...where Celestia and Luna did not exist. I found it strange sometimes that I no longer even thought of Earth as a former-home...it was just a place I had stayed until Luna had come to get me and my family. My home is Equestria now...and maybe, in a way, it always has been.

My thoughts were broken when I heard the door open behind me, and I turned to my left to see a very sleepy looking cyan pegasus. "Hey Dashie, what are you doing awake?"

She smiled at me, albeit a little sleepily. "You know I have trouble sleeping when you're not there. What are you doing awake Steel?"

I looked out again at the night sky. "Nothing...just thinking."

She sat down next to me and asked, "You're up in the middle of the night just thinking? What are you thinking about that's keeping you awake?"

I shook my head. "I'm thinking because I'm awake, not the other way around, dearheart."

I looked at her in time to see the pony blush at the pet name, but she then stood up against the railing as well, looking into the night sky. "You know Steel, your world is out there somewhere. If you miss it, I'm sure Luna could help you find it and get back." Her words were sincere, if not tinged with a bit of sadness...and fear.

I chuckled and shook my head. "I was just thinking about that very planet Dashie, but not in that way at all. I don't miss Earth, not in the slightest. My home is here...I think it always has been in a way. I may not have always known about Equestria, and definitely not that it existed, but I think somewhere deep within, my soul always belonged here. I feel it in my very being...this is home. Here, with you and your friends...this is where I am meant to be."

She sighed and leaned against me. "You do realize how sappy that sounds, right?”

I grinned as I extended my wing to hold the mare closer against me. “Yeah...but you love it sometimes, don’t deny it.”

For a moment Dash was silent before whispering, “I love you Steel, and I'm so glad you're here. I'm glad you decided to come here when Luna asked you."

I smiled and looked down at her, then planted a soft kiss on her lips. When I pulled away I said, "I love you too, Dashie. When Luna asked me and told me my family could come, there was no contest. I liked you and your friends even before Luna came to get me...knowing you in person just adds a whole new dimension to that connection. I'm glad I came here, and I'm glad I met you and all your friends. You don't have Earth to compare it to, so you have no idea how great you girls are."

We headed back inside after Dash started shivering, and I closed the door before climbing into bed. I pulled Dash and Twilight close to me, causing the sleeping unicorn to murmur and smile in her sleep, and then Dash kissed me on the cheek.

The pegasus lovingly whispered, “Goodnight Steel. I'm glad you're back."

I smiled at my rainbow wonder. "I'm glad I'm back too, love. Goodnight, Dash."

I found myself awake for only a few more minutes before falling asleep, pleased to have such loving mares in my life.

The Warmth of Winter's Heart

Chapter 12: The Warmth of Winter's Heart

It's been about three weeks since my coma, and things have gotten back to normal for the most part. Twilight and Luna didn't sleep too well for the first week, as they kept waking up in a panic, checking to make sure I was okay. This of course also meant that I didn't sleep well either. It made me happy that they cared about me so much, but at the same time the lack of sleep made me cranky. I was relieved when their fears abated. Dash strangely enough didn't seem to hold the same fear. At first I was worried that she didn't care about me as much as the others did, but I instead found it was because she knew I'd be okay, no matter what.

I love my girls...

Pinkie and I had gotten closer as well, and while we weren't together, we were definitely almost as close as I was with any of my other girls. Thankfully Luna, Twilight, and Dash loved Pinkie and didn't mind in the least, so I was confident that should the time arise that Pinkie wanted to be with me, everything would work out okay. Twilight and Luna were never as close to Pinkie as Dash was, so they had no problem with who she really was. Dash however had a bit of a breakdown. She felt that by not knowing her friend as well as she should, she was a failure. Pinkie assured her that she was a great friend, and that it was her that should have not hidden who she was. Dash seemed okay with this, and set about getting to know the real Pinkie Pie. I was pleased when the two old friends became closer than they'd ever been, and they were both all smiles around each other.

My mom and Jen settled into the new life of a pony very quickly, and made friends with all the townsponies as well. It bugged me for some reason when my mom took a liking to Big Mac, and he to her. I quickly got over it though and was happy that she found a man - or stallion in this case - she liked. My sister became really good friends with the CMC, even though she was five years older than them. Luckily she hadn't started dating anypony yet, which I was thankful for. When that happens I feel sorry for whoever that poor colt is. Two older brothers with one being an alicorn and the other a dragon? He better watch himself.

We had all spent these weeks adding on and renovating the library, making it bigger and better. The library was now twice the size it had been with a book collection that rivaled the Royal Library of Canterlot. We decided to keep the central structure of the tree for Twilight's sake. Mother and Jen now had their own rooms, and Twi's room was now on the new third floor. Twi's old room had become a study, and the old guest room had been enlarged and split into two rooms that made up Jen and my mother's rooms. An extra washroom had been put in the basement for Mason, and Spike permanently moved in with him. We also set about insulating the entire building after I told Twi why it would help, and all I can say is thank God and Celestia for magic. What would have taken months on Earth only took two and a half weeks, especially with all Twi's friends helping. Lyra had helped too, and her and I had gotten very close as a result. She became my fourth marefriend after I ran it by Twi and the rest of the girls, who all were very accepting and pleased, especially Dash.

I think she has a thing for Lyra.

Hearth's Warming was two months away and was coincidentally on December 25th, which I found funny. More importantly though, Dashie's birthday was coming up in a week on November 2nd, and I was walking in the snowy town with Pinkie trying to find something to get her.

"Well Pinkie you've known Dashie longer than I have, what do you think she'd like?" I asked curiously.

Pinkie shook her head. "This gift isn't supposed to be from me Steel, it's supposed to be from you. She's your marefriend, you know her well enough to find something she'd enjoy."

I rolled my eyes. "Gee thanks for the help Pinkie. I mean I know she loves the Wonderbolts, but they aren't performing again until Spring."

The earth pony giggled and said, "Yeah, but I know you'll find something nice for her, Steelie. You're a good stallion, I know you'll come up with something."

I thought for a second when it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I gasped and said, “Oh! I know what to get her!" and with that I ran off to Rarity's, Pinkie amazingly having a hard time keeping up.

I arrived at Rarity's to find (big surprise) Spike working with her. He'd had another growth spurt with the winter season, and was now as tall as Rarity was, and he could actually look her in the eye now. Rarity had started to take notice of him, much to his delight. While I never thought he acted like a baby dragon, now he didn't look like one either.

Pinkie and I walked in the boutique and Rarity smiled at both of us. "Hello Pinkie and Steel, what can I do for you on this lovely winter day?"

I smiled. "Well Rarity, as you know Rainbow Dash's birthday is coming soon, so I'm here to ask for something for her."

The unicorn smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Well what did you have in mind, Steel?"

I looked to Pinkie and smiled, then turned my attention back to Rarity. "Well Rarity we all know how much Dashie loves flying, and how much she loves the Wonderbolts. I'd like to get her a flight suit made, like the Wonderbolts have. And, I have ideas for the design as well."

Rarity tapped her hoof on her chin in thought, and then smiled. "I believe Rainbow Dash would simply love that, and I have just the fabric for it.” Rarity turned around and leafed through different rolls of fabric before pulling out one and showing it to me. “The fabric is soft and stretchy, yet strong, and is also weatherproof. I had bought it some time ago and just have not had a use for it. I think this would be the perfect thing to use it for."

Rarity and I set about taking down the designs and colors for Dash's gift. After an hour of brainstorming, we had come up with a great design. Thankfully because of my new job as a trainer for the guards in Canterlot, I finally had bits of my own to buy things with. "So Rarity, how much do you think this'll be?”

She furrowed her brow in thought before responding, "Well this fabric was very expensive, and the tailoring that will be needed will take time. I think one-hundred bits should do it, does that sound fair?"

I nodded. "That sounds great Rarity, and I must say it's quite a good buy."

The unicorn smiled and nodded gratefully. "Very well, I will get started Steelbreaker. You may pay for it when you pick it up. It will take about three days to make, so come back Saturday afternoon. I am most excited to get working on this, it will be one of my greatest works!"

I nodded to Rarity. "Alright then, Pinkie and I will let you get started. Thanks Rarity. Let me know if there's anything you need."

She smiled gently and closed the door to her "inspiration room", getting to work.

Pinkie was bouncing around me as we walked through town towards the park, where the fillies and colts were playing with their friends. My sister was there as well, playing some version of hide-and-seek with her friends.

Pinkie and I sat on a bench at the edge of the park, just watching everyone. I draped a wing around her to keep her warm, and she just looked at the sight before us. "It's really pretty, Steel. Did winter look like this on Earth?"

I shook my head. "No, it didn't. Because of the vehicles we used, most of the snow would end up piled on the sides of the road, or dirty from all the dirt and air pollution. It rarely kept the pure white, like it does here."

She nodded and smiled. "You don't seem to miss Earth very much at all, Steel."

I shook my head softly as I leaned into the warm body beside me. "No Pinkie, I don't. I love it here. Earth never really felt like home to me. It took coming here for me to realize that." I then got an idea and focused on an essence inside of me. “Hey Frostrender, the day is pretty nice and I've been working on my spell. I think I can give you a few hours if you want. You interested?”

I felt a happy feeling from within me. “Yes Steelbreaker, that would be very kind of you, thank you.”

The past week I had been working on another improvised spell to give Frostrender his own body for a time. It was a spell that I needed to keep active, but through practice I'd gotten better at channeling it to the point where it was almost passive. It's gotten to the point now to where I don't have to think about keeping it going, and the duration has increased to a few hours now. I was worried at first about him, but he was still me, and I knew he wouldn't hurt anypony.

I focused on the feeling of the ice within me - Frostrender - and brought it to the surface and out. A ball of soft blue light settled into the snow before me, and took the shape of Frostrender in a flash. I saw the small elemental alicorn standing before me and I nodded. "Have fun Frostrender, I think you've earned it since helping me save Twilight from those gryphons. You make one hell of a first impression, I'll say that."

He smiled and chuckled, responding in a childlike voice, "Well I am you after all, so I aim to please." He nodded and bounded off like a playful colt.

I cast the spell for the first time a week ago, and found it strange that he seemed so much younger when he had his own body...even his voice was different. I didn't mind though, that just meant he could enjoy himself more with the younglings of Ponyville.

Pinkie watched the small elemental bound away for a moment before looking up at me and saying, "That was really nice of you, Steelie. I know he enjoys it."

I nodded while still looking at my other. "Yes I know. I like to think that even though his first use was for a fight, that isn't all there is to him. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger."

Pinkie giggled and shoved me gently. "Now I know what Twilight means when she says you sound old." I chuckled and nuzzled her mane.

Luna had joined Pinkie and I in the park shortly thereafter and we all sat on the bench just enjoying the day. I was happy with the more regular schedule that Luna had now. With some help from Twilight's organizational skills, Celestia and Luna had much more free time of their own. It was now not uncommon to see Celestia in town greeting her subjects as one would greet a friend, and Luna was able to stay with us most of the time, only going back to the palace on the weekends. Celestia had become much closer with all of us, so much so that now she simply asked us to call her by name. It almost felt like I had a second mother watching over me, and I was happy with my new family in Equestria.

Before I knew what had happened, I fell asleep on the bench to be awakened by Pinkie. "Steelie get up, it's too early to be sleeping!"

I yawned and stretched, enjoying the subtle pops my back made. "Sorry Pinkie, I was just so comfortable that I couldn't help myself. What time is it anyway?"

Luna looked up at the sun for a moment. "I believe it is just after 13:00."

I hopped up hurriedly and shouted, "Oh no, we were supposed to meet Twilight at Sugarcube Corner! Come on, let's go!"

The three of us ran through the snow-blanketed town and arrived at Sugarcube Corner to see an annoyed Twilight standing next to the front counter. "How nice of you all to show up, finally."

I smiled sheepishly. "Sorry Twi, I completely forgot. So what's going on?"

The lavender unicorn glared at me for a moment before dropping her frustration and sighing. "Well first of all I want to get some lunch with all of you. Then, we need to get Rainbow Dash a cake designed for next Thursday. You did remember it's her birthday, right?"

I nodded. "Yep, and Rarity's helping me with a present. I think she's going to like it."

Pinkie hopped behind the counter and grabbed a tray full of apple strudels and a few cupcakes, so I paid for the meal and we all ate the lovely pastries. I'll never get sick of these things. Pony anatomy must be different because I'd have diabetes by now if I were a human, with as many sweets as Pinkie makes us.

After finishing the meal we all sat in the corner window drinking hot chocolate, Twilight cuddled up next to Luna, and Pinkie sat with me, leaning back against my chest. Luna gave me a knowing look and a soft smile, which I grinned at. We just relaxed for the next hour or so, talking about random things while we waited for Dash to get off work. Apparently blizzards could happen very easily, so this was the busiest time of year for Dash.

The rainbow pegasus arrived not a moment later and nearly tackled me and Pinkie in a hug. "Ugh, winter always seems to take all my time up. It's been like three days since I've seen you guys last." She then moved to Luna and Twilight and gave them a hug as well before sitting in between the four of us. Pinkie hopped up and made a hot chocolate for Dash as well, which she took with a smile.

I grinned at the cyan mare lovingly and said, "Well Dash I know you've been busy, but we all love it whenever we see you, even if it's just for a few minutes. Speaking of the weather, how are things this week?"

She took a sip of the hot cocoa drink and set it down. "Well that's part of the reason I had to make sure I saw you guys today. There's going to be a blizzard tomorrow until Sunday. Cloudkicker and I are going to be warning the rest of Ponyville about it too after I leave here."

I tilted my head in confusion. "Why the need for a blizzard Dash? I still don't really understand how weather works here."

She rolled her eyes, as if it should've been innate knowledge or something. "When too much moisture gathers in the air, it can cause all kinds of problems. It can make it so that the clouds won't move where we want them to, and also make it so that the storms are a lot worse than normal. Blizzards are never a good thing, but if we didn't schedule one ourselves, we'd get a worse one that would be uncontrollable, and that would be bad."

I thought about it for a moment before nodding. "Yeah that makes sense. Anything we should do to prepare?"

Dash took another sip of her hot cocoa before smiling. "Yeah, stock up on food and water. The snow will pile up around doors and some lower windows, so unless you climb out a high window, you're not going to be able to leave the library. The good news is that after this blizzard, I'll get a few days off."

I smiled. "To think it would take a blizzard to be able to spend time with our Dashie. You should schedule crazy weather more often."

Dash giggled with a nod. "I'll be sure and bring that up at the next meeting."

We all just sat there enjoying each other’s company until Dash had to leave about twenty minutes later. We left with her and bid her goodbye, her assuring us that she'd meet us at the library when the blizzard started. I watched the rainbow blur speed off towards Cloudsdale before walking with my group towards the library.

We were about halfway there when Lyra walked up. "Hiya everypony, it's good to see you all!" She rushed up and embraced me in a tight hug, surprisingly strong for such a small pony. I hugged her back and the others joined in too, at which point the cute unicorn started giggling uncontrollably. "It's like a hug party!"

I rolled my eyes. "It's like we have a second Pinkie Pie sometimes."

Pinkie looked at me and huffed. "What's wrong with that, Steelie?"

I laughed and pulled the pink pony into a strong embrace. "Absolutely nothing, Pinks. I personally could never have too much of you."

Pinkie blushed and giggled. "Steelie stop it, you're making me blush."

I smirked as I released the pink mare. "Well that is the idea." I then looked at Lyra. "Anyway we're all heading back to the library, care to join us?"

The mint-green unicorn pawed the snow a little nervously. "Actually Steel, I was wondering if I could stay the night. Bon Bon finally started dating a stallion and I'm sure she wants some privacy, seeing as how she's bringing him back to the house for the first time."

I nodded with a snort. "Bon Bon's about to get BIZAY!"

Luckily for me, Luna took control of the situation, though not before rolling her eyes at me with a smile. "Of course you may stay with us Lyra, you are always welcome and there is more than enough room." Lyra smiled wide and gave Luna a hug, making the princess blush. I just laughed.

A second later, a small blue alicorn cantered up and waved at me. "Hey Steel, thank you for today, I appreciate it."

I nodded at Frostrender with a smile. "No problem buddy. It's about that time, you ready?"

He nodded and placed his hoof on my shoulder. I felt a tingling in my horn, and I saw him dissipate into a small blue ball of light. The ball of light touched my horn and disappeared. Luna, Twilight, and Lyra just stared at me with wide eyes.

"What was...how..." said Twilight in utter shock.

I chuckled. "I thought Frostrender deserved some time on his own to enjoy himself, so I created a spell to make it so." I just laughed and we continued on to the library.

When we got back, my mother was on her way out, so I felt it was only fair to tease her. "Off to see your man again?”

Without missing a beat, she just nodded with a smile. "Why yes, I am. I'll be home late, don't wait up." I shook my head and stepped inside.

The building was much warmer since I had gotten it insulated, so much so that my brother didn't mind being upstairs now. He was actually sitting with Applejack in front of the newly installed fireplace in the reading room (it was such a pain to get the permits for that). He and Applejack had gotten rather close over the past week or so, after he helped her at the orchard when Big Mac hurt his leg. I hadn't thought he'd be able to pull it off, but he seemed to have caught the eye of the Element of Honesty.

I guess people really can change for the better.

He looked up at me and just nodded with a smile and I nodded back. AJ waved to me and I grinned knowingly at her. The orange mare simply blushed and I laughed at her.

We all sat down for a dinner of sautéed mushrooms with roasted potatoes and carrots, courtesy of yours truly. Thanks to Spike I'd gotten quite a bit better at cooking, so I often cooked dinner when he wasn't around. AJ told us all about her visit to Appaloosa two weeks ago to visit some family. As much as it made her sad, she told us about how she'd been pulling all of the Apple family together, as it was getting to be about that time for Granny Smith. Granny Smith was like the town grandma. It doesn't matter what age you are or where you come from...you're family and she's granny to you. A tear came to my eye as I reminisced about the last time I saw her, shortly after getting out of the hospital.

I remember I had come over to the farm to buy some apples and sat with the aged mare as I waited for Applejack to get back. It had been awhile since I'd seen Dash, and I missed her...and Granny Smith could tell. She didn't even need to ask what had me feeling down...she knew. She told me something that day that I'll never forget. She said, "It don' matter how far away she is or where ya'll go. As long as ya love each other, yer gonna be okay. As long as ya love each other, yer never alone." There was a wisdom in her words that I didn't realize until later that week when Dash came to visit...and I felt the same spark between us when she first told me she liked me.

The spark of love.

Sitting at that table with my friends and family, I realized just how much I was going to miss the old mare. I found it a little odd seeing as how I had never even met her until a few months ago, but I could now understand how AJ felt. I looked up from my empty plate to see AJ sitting with a forlorn look, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. She looked right at me and without speaking, walked around the table and hugged me.

She nuzzled into my face and cried. "Ah'm gonna miss her Steel...Ah'm gonna miss her somethin' fierce."

I nodded, rubbing her back. "I'm gonna miss her too AJ...so much. But you know what? She's lived a long and happy life, and I know she's proud of you, Apple Bloom, and Big Mac. It's going to be hard, but we'll pull through this. We all will together. I know we can...and she knows it too."

Applejack looked up at me with tears in her eyes, but smiled. She hugged me tight again. "Thank ya Steel. I don't know what Ah'd do without ya."

My brother snorted from beside me as he grumbled, "I'm here too, ya know."

AJ laughed and went next to him and nuzzled the dragon’s face. "Ah know Dark, Ah'd never ferget about ya."

He put an arm around her and squeezed her tight, and she sighed with a smile.

We finished cleaning up the dinner dishes and went off to our respective areas. Applejack would be staying the night as she was not needed at the farm during the winter, so she had a lot of extra time. We all hugged AJ one more time and headed upstairs to get cleaned up from the day.

One of the things I had installed in the new master washroom was a stand-up glass door shower that was double the size of the original, which also was a raindrop shower. I stepped into the shower and turned on the water, feeling the soft pitter patter of the drops upon my skin, relaxing any stress away. I sat down and closed my eyes, just relaxing and letting my mind clear from the sadness that gripped me, and I just barely heard the door open and heard the sound of three sets of hooves moving towards me. I didn't even open my eyes when I heard the shower door open, I just scooted a little towards the far wall. I felt two small pairs of hooves go around my neck and a large pair of wings envelop me. I opened my eyes to see Lyra, Luna, and Twilight all hugging me. I felt a little better from their warm embrace until I looked out the glass of the shower to see a pink silhouette standing by the washroom door.

"Pinkie, what are you doing all the way over there? Get your rump in here before I make you." I said with a playful smile.

I heard the mare giggle before the shower door opened again, and she stepped in with us. Luna pulled the pink pony over with a wing and Lyra and I held her close in a hug.

I smiled and whispered, "Thank you girls...I feel so much better now." After a moment they all released me, except for Pinkie.

I looked down at the pink mare just in time to receive a surprise kiss from her. It took a moment for me to process what was happening, but I composed myself and just closed my eyes and kissed her back. Somewhere in the background of my thoughts, I heard Twilight and Luna giggling.

"Wow...didn't know you had it in you Pinkie." said Lyra.

After a few moments, Pinkie broke away with a half-lidded smile. "Wow..."

I chuckled. "Yeah, I have that effect. Just ask Luna and Twi." Said ponies both blushed.

We cleaned up pretty quickly and brushed our teeth, but as it was only about 19:00, we headed upstairs to the new third floor.

Part of the renovations I’d had done was truly turning the library into a home, by adding not only a real bedroom and washroom, but also a large observation deck, complete with an outdoor fireplace and a large glass shield that could insulate it from the elements and temperature. It went without saying that with it being so early, we instead chose to chill out on the deck, so I fixed us a few drinks of assorted juices, liquors, and even coconut juice. During Celestia's travels she'd become friends with a supplier in one of the islands off the coast, and being a personal friend of hers entitled me to benefits, such as getting a personal stock of some of the produce.

Man I had missed the fruit of the islands.

I had come to find that both Luna and Twi were lightweights when it came to any sort of alcohol, whereas somehow Pinkie could drink me under the table. Lyra just seemed to chill and enjoy the early evening, which was what I was doing. We had the observation deck set up with a telescope as well as an oaken couch, a large bed, and a few chairs scattered about. I the retractable glass curtain was to shield us from any rain that may pop up, or if we just felt like sleeping out here. Needless to say, it was perfect for summer, but with the fire going it was good for winter as well.

Luna thew a few logs into the fire pit and cast a spell to light them on fire, and with the insulation as well as a few enchantments I'd placed on the deck, this place was as warm as if it were a balmy summer night.

Twilight passed out rather quickly, as did Luna after she raised the moon. I looked over to find Twi laying on top of Luna on the couch, while Lyra was just relaxing, enjoying the crisp cool air and watching the stars. I was laying propped up on the bed, admiring the night sky as well, and Pinkie was lying in front of me.

Needless to say that it was a perfect relaxing night for all of us.

Pinkie brought her head back against my chest and looked up at me with her lovely blue eyes. I leaned down and kissed her softly and she smiled at me.

The pink mare whispered out, "I really like you Steel."

I smiled back and nuzzled the mare’s cheek affectionately, causing her to giggle and blush. "Well I like you too, Pinks." I kissed just under her left cheek on her neck and breathed a warm breath, causing her to shiver. At the same time, something very odd happened as her mane went completely straight for a split second before poofing back up again. I quirked an eyebrow and remarked, “Well, that was interesting."

Pinkie blushed and said, "S-sorry...I got a little excited there."

I just wrapped my foreleg around the earth pony and pulled her closer into me, causing her to let out a little squeak. Lyra then walked over wobbling a bit and lay down behind me, so I turned over on my back and wrapped my other foreleg around Lyra. I then focused on the two sleeping mares on the couch and levitated them over to us, laying them down as they were and propping Luna up with a pillow against my thigh.

Somehow in the middle of laying there with Lyra and Pinkie in my hooves, we started kissing, which graduated to a make-out session between the three of us. I still don't really know how we started, but I wasn't complaining. I was in the middle of kissing Pinkie at one point when Lyra licked my horn, and I nearly let out a loud moan. I turned to her with a confused look and she just smiled. I just shrugged and went back to the task at hand.

About an hour had passed and I was out of breath, Lyra having fallen asleep a few moments ago as Pinkie still lay in my grasp saying, “Wow,” every now and then. I almost laughed when I noticed that Twi and Luna were still completely out, with no response other than the occasional murmur or mumbling.

I looked out at the night sky, it being well past 22:00 now, and glanced over at Luna and smiled, and then focused on a spell I had been practicing. My horn was covered in a green glow, then a blue glow was added onto that, and then a purple glow. I focused hard and let the spell amplify, and when I felt the spell was at its apex, I released it into the sky. The bolt of swirling colors shot forth high in the sky, and when I felt it was high enough I focused again, and the bolt exploded into brilliant ribbons of shimmering color...an aurora.

I focused and made contact with Dash. “Dashie...are you awake?”

I was worried I was waking her up, but wanted her to see this. After a moment she responded, “Oh hi Steel. I'm in bed but I hadn't fallen asleep yet. What's up?”

I smiled. “I want you to go outside and look into the sky. I did something special for you girls I think you'll like.”

I clopped my hooves together loudly and all the girls started moving around, and Luna looked at me with a groggy frown. "Ugh...Steel what is it? I was having a good dream about..." she trailed off as she looked at Twilight, blushing. "Umm...nevermind."

I just laughed. "It's okay girls, I just wanted you to see something. Step out onto the balcony and look up." We all walked out onto the balcony and the girls looked up, and I was instantly barraged with a cluster of gasps.

Twilight's mouth dropped open and she squeaked out, "Wh-what is that? It's so pretty."

I nodded as I turned my gaze heavenward. "That's known as an aurora, girls. It's a naturally occurring anomaly that usually only happens on Earth at extreme northern or southern latitudes. The one you're looking at now is of magical nature...I made it, for all of you."

I heard Dash gasp in my head. “Wow, you made that...for us? Steel...I don't know what to say. It's one of the coolest and most beautiful things I've ever seen.”

I chuckled and mentally responded, “It's not as beautiful as you girls, Dash...not by a long shot. I miss you a lot, and I hope you come home soon.”

Something new happened at that moment...I felt her rush of emotions conveying love and adoration for me and her friends, and she softly replied, “I’ve only been gone a day, Steel. I’ll be back soon.”

“A day is a long time without you, and I don’t care if I sound sappy...I love you that much.” I responded lovingly.

There was another rush of happiness and love from Dash, and she mentally whispered, “Well I’ll be home soon, and then you can show me just how much you love and miss me, okay?”

There was no playfulness in her voice, only deep affection and understanding. It was something I was unaccustomed to from the cyan mare I loved, but it also was every bit as powerful as it was surprising. So, with equal love and affection, I replied, “It's a promise. Go to bed now Dashie, I love you.”

There was a moment of silence from her end before I heard, “I love you too Steel, so much. Goodnight.”

Once I came back to the “real world”, I felt as Luna gently kissed me on the cheek and whispered, "Steel, this is wonderful. Thank you for showing me this."

I grinned deviously as I let more magic flow into my horn. "Well if you like that, you're really going to like this." I focused on the magical aura in the aurora, and willed it to change shape. The beautiful ribbons of light split into five separate balls of colors, all in a circle. The girls watched in awe as the five spheres changed into a shape they were each familiar with.

They all turned and stared at me, Twilight stepping right in front of me and saying, "Those are our cutie marks...how did you-"

I cut her off. "I'm not done yet, Twi." I focused again, and the residual color that was left over became the outline of a massive shield, with two swords behind it...a coat of arms, with each of the girls' cutie marks on it. They all just stared at the enormous color spectacle before them, and I could swear I heard voices from other ponies in town exclaiming at the spectacle in the sky.

Luna turned to me with tears in her eyes. "That is us...you have placed all of us in my night sky."

I nodded and pulled the four mares close, embracing them tightly again. “I thought that the world should know how much I love you, and this is all I could think of at the time.” I then focused again and dissipated the shapes, turning it all into the lovely ribbons of color again. "I can only imagine what the ponies who are awake right now might be thinking."

I then closed the glass curtain and lay down on the bed, beckoning the mares over, and the four of them all lay around me, Twilight with Luna again and Lyra and Pinkie in my forelegs. I wrapped my wings around the two in my grasp and closed my eyes.

For a moment no pony said anything, but Luna finally whispered, “Steel...that was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” I looked to the moon goddess and she smiled with the most love I’ve ever seen in a simple facial expression. “Thank you so much...”

I simply nodded my head slowly before closing my eyes to sleep.

What seemed like only a moment later I heard a voice, shaking me from a slight sleep.

"Steel? Are you still awake?"

I looked over to see Lyra looking at me with those lovely gold eyes. "What is it, love?"

The adorable unicorn looked down as if in shame before looking up at me again. "Thank you for loving us...for loving me. It means a lot. I just...I just wanted you to know that."

I sighed and kissed her forehead. "Well thank you for loving me back, Lyra. It means more to me than you could ever imagine.” I leaned over to her and gave the lovely pony a soft kiss on her lips before whispering, “Get some sleep, beautiful."

Lyra then closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, and a few moments later, I did as well.

The Icy Claws of Fear

Chapter 13: The Icy Claws of Fear

Alone...so alone.

They all left, I don't know where.



No...no more...please...

Ah...this is most interesting. Your fear will soon consume you, as you will see. There is naught to fear, but the fear itself...is there? You will find out more than you wish to.

I awoke with a start, panting heavily and with tears streaming down my face. I checked to my left and to my right, and was very relieved to see the beautiful mares I loved.

The nightmare I’d had was the first I’d had since coming to Equestria, and it shook me to my core.

I kissed each on the forehead softly, and proceeded to get up. I opened the glass curtain that shielded the room from the beginning of what was to be a blizzard and peered outside. The crisp air kissed my cheeks and I found myself still worried. That was by far the worst nightmare I've ever had, and more so now because I had more loved ones. I was confused, as I had never had a nightmare with any of my girls sleeping next to me, but brushed it off.

I heard shuffling in the sheets as one of them started to wake up, and then a scream.

I turned to see four very frightened mares all staring at each other, and then they all looked to me.

Luna's gaze turned to one of fury, which only made me more confused. "What hast thou done to Us? If thou has violated Us, thou shalt spend the rest of thy days in the dungeons!"

I was suddenly taken aback as I gently responded, "L-Luna? What's going on with you? You act like you've never seen me before or som-"

The furious princess cut me off with, "Thou shalt address us as Princess Luna, knave!"

I was now frightened. Something was very wrong, and my confusion turned to sadness, and then to anger...and then to sadness again. What happened?

At that moment I felt a presence within me...Celestia. “Steelbreaker! I require you at the palace immediately...something has happened!”

I took one last look at the scene before me before immediately teleporting to the throne room, leaving four very bewildered mares behind.

I arrived in the throne room to see a very sad look on the solar princess's face. "Steel...I am so sorry...I couldn't stop it.

The normally powerful and strong sun princess began to cry, so I walked up to her and embraced her in a hug, me crying by this time too at the sheer stress of the situation, and confusion.

After a few moments I asked, "Celestia...what happened? They don't...they act like they don't even know me anymore. What's going on?"

She only shook her head and cried harder. "...Phobos has awakened in our world."

I was confused and stated, "Wait...Phobos...I've heard that word before.” I thought in silence for a moment before my eyes widened in realization, and confusion. “Wait a minute, that's one of Mars' moons in my universe. Mars is a planet, by the way. But what do you mean Phobos has awakened?"

Celestia shook her head. "Phobos is a god of fear. In your world, he is a god of your Greeks. While the mythology in your world is flawed at best, he does truly exist. I don't know why he has chosen to come to this world or how, but he is here...there is no mistaking it. He seems to be targeting you."

I was awestruck. A god is after me? This isn't good. I swallowed my nervousness and asked, "Why would he be after me though? What would be the point? I'm nobody."

Celestia shook her head as she looked at me with a sad smile. "Do you recall what I told you when you first awakened as a spellbender? You have the potential to be far more powerful than I could ever hope to be. Assuming Phobos is here to claim this planet as his own, which would make sense, he will want to destroy the greatest threat to him first...you."

This only made me more confused. "Okay, but what does that have to do with Luna? Or any of the other girls?"

She only frowned and let slip tears from her eyes as she continued. "He is the god of fear, Steelbreaker. What is your greatest fear?"

I thought for only a moment before it struck me like a bolt of lightning...loneliness. My greatest fear was being alone...being worthless. My entire reason for being was protecting my loved ones, and that need to protect stemmed from my love for them, as well as their love for me.

"So...you mean..." I trailed off.

The sun princess nodded sadly. "To all of them, it is as if you've never existed. It is safe to assume he has targeted anyone you care about...even your own family."

Wait a minute... "What about you, Celestia? I care about you and you care about me. You're like family to me, why aren't you affected?"

The alabaster alicorn shrugged in confusion. "I do not know for sure, but I believe it is because of my memories of you. In all of my memories of you, my sister is there as well. The love I have for my sister goes beyond what most beings could imagine, save for one such as you. Because you are connected to her in my mind, those memories are much stronger, and thus much more difficult to break...if not impossible. I cannot say for sure, however."

We were interrupted by a flash of light behind me. I turned to see a very upset Luna staring at Celestia.

Luna then looked at me, and a flash of confusion contorted her face. "Sister, what is this criminal doing here? Hast thou any idea what has just happened?"

I winced at the anger in her voice. Celestia looked at me and nodded, and I nodded back. "I'll be in the Everfree ruins, Celestia." I then looked at Luna, and felt an immense feeling of loss and sadness wash over me. I let slip a tear, and disappeared in a flash of brilliant light.

I opened my eyes to find myself in front of what remained of the Palace of the Two Sisters. I walked inside the main building and sat down on the cold stone floor. I was numb with sadness. I felt so broken, I couldn't even cry. I didn't even want to believe it. This couldn't be happening...this must still be a bad dream.

I sat on the cold floor for what felt like hours, until I heard hooves approaching. Normally I would have hidden to be cautious, but at this point I didn't have the will. I just lay down and let out a sad sigh. I looked up slightly to see Luna approaching, a very confused expression still on her face, but also very embarrassed. She sat on her haunches but didn't speak. For some reason I suddenly became very angry, and I turned away from her.

She growled. "You will not turn your back on the princess of the night! I demand you face Us this instant!"

I snorted and growled right back, anger building in my heart. "I have no fear of you, Luna. I'm not afraid of you, or anyone else. Don't think you can bully me into doing what you want. Until you're ready to address me properly and without all this hostility, you can leave...now."

I heard her gasp in surprise, and she stuttered out, "N-nopony has ever spoken to Us in such a way. Why wouldst you speak to your princess in this way?"

My anger subsided and I turned around to face her, a sad frown on my face. "I've never had to speak to you that way before, because the Luna I know - the Luna I loved - would never treat a pony as a commoner. The Luna I knew hated to be treated like royalty because it's hard to make friends when everyone's so formal. Do you treat Twilight Sparkle this way?"

Her confusion then turned to shock. "H-how dost thou know of Twilight Sparkle?"

I sighed sadly. "I know much more than that. I know nearly everything there is to know about you, princess. For example, I know that you only speak in your old way of speech to strangers. I also know that until you made friends with Twilight Sparkle, you cried yourself to sleep every night. I now know how you felt during your exile to the moon."

At my last statement, she instantly turned indignant. "Do not presume to know how We felt during exile. Thou hast no idea what We felt."

I smiled sadly. "I think I do...and I'll prove it to you." I focused on the emotions I had been feeling since this all started - the intense feelings of loss, sadness, and loneliness. I then felt them well up within me and I allowed them to flow out from my heart towards her. I opened my eyes at the sound of her sobbing.

Luna had tears streaming down her face as she whispered, "We...We had no idea. Why? Why dost thou feel this way?"

I lowered my head with a huff of pained breath. "I woke up this morning to find that everyone I've ever cared about has forgotten everything about me. To you and the rest of my loved ones, I am a stranger. What hurts the most is that I feel there is no way to correct this. Luna, I am not of this world...I am from elsewhere. To you our most important and first meeting - the time when you decided to bring me here - never happened.” At this declaration, Luna gasped loudly, and I just nodded. “Yes...it was you who brought me here, but to you that meeting never was. I have nothing else in my life now. My life...is hollow. So please, leave me...I can't look at you any longer. I feel like the pain of loss alone may kill me, and I kind of hope it does now."

For the first time, her tone softened. "We...I am sorry...I did not know. I sense that you are telling the truth, however unbelievable it may be. Perhaps you could tell me of...us?"

I shook my head as I sat down. "There would be no point, princess. Even if I were to share with you all the memories I have of us, they are still my memories. Love can't come about from a feeling that is not our own. This incident was my greatest fear...and it is a fear now realized."

She smiled softly and innocently said, "Surely it is not as bad as you make it out to be."

I grit my teeth and stood, advancing with sudden anger towards her. She backed away in fear as I growled, "Not that bad? NOT THAT BAD? Imagine if everything you were and everything you cared about was stripped away from you with no way to get it back. Imagine if you no longer could control the moon and the night, and Celestia died before your very eyes...and it was your fault. Imagine that for a moment and you'll have an idea of just how bad it is. I wish I had been banished to the moon instead of this. At least on the moon there is no one to keep you company, so the loneliness is warranted. No...instead I have to be around my loved ones knowing that they don't have any idea who I am, and that I will never get what I had back. So I'll take your words and use them...don't presume to know how I feel."

She hesitated before stepping closer, but I stopped her with a risen hoof. "No Luna...just go. Please just leave. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you being here is just making it worse. Just go back to your sister and tell her I sent you away."

Luna’s indignation returned and she stomped a hoof. "No, I would not leave a loved one if they needed me."

I chuckled painfully. "You're my loved one...I am not yours. Please go." She shook her head, so I glared at her. "Go or I'll make you leave."

The night princess laughed at me. "You believe you can force me to leave?"

I grit my teeth in frustration. "I can and I will. I'll say it again...go, before I make you leave." She shook her head, so I focused on the throne room of Canterlot and teleported her. I immediately put up magic barrier around the ruins, preventing entry whether by physical or magical means.

For the first time ever...I just wanted to be alone.

Perspective change - Luna

I found myself standing in front of my sister once again.

She showed a confused look on her face that matched my own as she asked, "What happened, Luna?"

I closed my eyes and focused my magic in an attempt to travel back, but to no avail. Something was preventing me from doing so. I shook my head with a frustrated sigh. "I am not sure sister. I only wanted to speak to him and apologize. Somehow the conversation escalated and he became very angry. He sent me away and I cannot seem to teleport back. It is as if something is preventing me from doing so."

My sister stepped off of her throne and looked out into the distance, her eyes widening. She pointed towards the forest many miles in the distance. "Luna, what is that?"

I gazed out the window towards where she was pointing, and was shocked to see a massive ball of what looked like silver magic rising high above the forest. It stopped some thousands of feet above the treetops and floated in the air.

I eyed the object warily and responded, "I...I do not know, Tia. Gather the guards, we need to find out what it is." She nodded and shouted to summon the guards to the throne room.

An hour later we approached the object above the forest. A crowd of ponies had gathered, curious as to what it was, and the guards set about quelling their fears and maintaining order. It was as I feared...it was our old palace of days long since past. It was as if the very ground beneath it had been torn asunder and raised into the sky. Who could possess such power?

"Sister, what is that?" I asked, not breaking my gaze with the massive orb of magic.

She shook her head at me with a sad expression. "I never thought this would affect him this much."

I was confused. "Him? What are you speaking of sis-" I stopped my statement as I felt a very cold energy in the air...one I was intimately familiar with. In fear and disbelief I shouted, "Sister, I feel the power of Nightmare Moon...this is not possible!"

Tia merely shook her head as she gazed at the magical entity. "That is not Nightmare Moon...it is another known as Frostrender. He is a being that resides within the alicorn...the one known as Steelbreaker."

Steelbreaker...why does that name sound so familiar? I turned to look at Tia and said, "Sister...we must get inside."

She shook her head. "Not yet. I have an idea, but we need help. You must find and gather the Elements of Harmony. Find the bearers and bring them here. Hurry Luna!" I nodded and sped off to find the bearers.

Thankfully it had not taken long to find all of them, as five of them were in the crowd below us, and the last was in her cloud home, sleeping. I had gathered all of the Elements and found my way back to the edge of the Everfree Forest, noticing that luckily, most of the bystanders had been cleared away.

I cleared my throat and shouted, "Okay Tia, what now?"

My elder sister looked to me for a moment before looking back to the magical sphere. "We must get inside. The barrier on the outside can be punctured, but I will need your help, Luna. It will not be long before the barrier closes again, so we must get everypony inside before that happens."

Twilight stepped forward and made her confusion known. "Princess Celestia, I still don't know what we're doing here...what's going on?"

Tia shook her head at the young lavender unicorn. "I cannot explain it myself, I am sorry. The being inside can shed more light on it than I can." She turned back to me. "Luna on the count of three, I need your most powerful dispel spell that you can muster." I nodded and she began to count. "One...two..." I readied the spell in my horn, putting as much as my being into it as possible. "Three!" I released the spell, firing it directly at the large bubble of magic above us. Our two spells collided with the bubble, tearing a large gaping hole in it. The breach however began to repair itself very quickly. I focused on all the Elements and teleported us inside.

When I opened my eyes again, I saw the Elements of Harmony and Tia all standing next to me in what used to be the main hall.

Sister looked around for a moment before she shouted, "Frostrender, where are you?"

For a moment the only sound in the great hall was of our breathing, but then the faint sound of hooves could be heard down the corridor. I was shocked to see a massive blue armored alicorn standing at the end of the hallway. It towered over both myself and sister, and I felt intense magic radiating from it.

Even with how imposing the figure was, it had a kind smile on its face as it answered, "Celestia, I apologize we must meet again under such circumstances."

My jaw dropped and I looked at my sister. "Tia...you know this pony?"

She nodded as she trotted over to the tall stallion. "We both do, sister...well, both did." She turned her attention back to the blue pony. "Frostrender, what has happened to Steelbreaker?"

The one known as Frostrender bowed his head in what appeared to be sadness. "I am sorry Celestia...I tried to appeal to him. He has lost the will to live. He has withdrawn so far within himself that I am all that is left."

Celestia gasped in shock. "My word...I was unaware just how much this would affect him. What of these ruins? Why have you raised it into the sky? It is causing quite the commotion within the town."

Frostrender shook his head. "It is not I, princess...it was Steelbreaker. He placed enchantments that hold the levitation spell as well as the barrier spell. I have not been able to break them."

Tia nodded and her horn began to glow with the golden aura of her alicorn magic. She let the spell free, only to have it arc back to her horn, flinging her body against a wall.

"Sister!" I screamed in concern as I ran to her side.

She groaned but stood up, shaking her head and standing again. "I am alright, Luna." She then turned back to Frostrender. "Frostrender, we must use the Elements of Harmony...I am sorry, but I do not know how you will be affected."

The tall blue alicorn bowed his head in deference. "I understand, princess. Do as you will. I pray you save Steelbreaker from himself."

I turned to Twilight and her friends. "Ready your Elements. Prepare to fire at Frostrender." They all nodded their heads and began to glow softly as the purifying blast of Harmony was prepared. Each Element seemed to appear out of nowhere, fastening itself to its respective bearer.

Celestia and I then stepped out of the way, but at that moment something happened that I could not explain.

Within my mind, I heard the most loving voice whisper, “I love you Luna. Never forget to smile...it's what made me fall in love with you in the first place.”

I suddenly found myself unbelievably saddened, and something clicked in my head. I felt myself remembering something...something I once knew. Without thinking I jumped into the path of the Elements’ power. There was a bright flash and a feeling of warmth, and then...nothing.

Perspective change - Celestia


She had jumped into the path of the Elements' magic, but I had barely enough time to scream in fear before she was hit. Why? What possessed her do that?

She smiled for a moment before collapsing on the floor, and I ran over to Luna's unconscious body. She was still breathing...oh thank the gods. I suddenly felt an intense warmth from behind me, and the room lit up with a flash. I turned around to see the pained expression of Steelbreaker. He did not speak, he just slowly walked over to Luna and sat on his haunches. He let a tear slide down his cheek as he simply looked over his lost love.

For a few agonizing moments, he was silent. Finally after what felt like eons, he whispered, "Why...why would she do that? What in the name of all that is holy would make her do such a thing?"

I placed a reassuring hoof on his shoulder, but he did not break his gaze with Luna. "Steelbreaker, she's alive. She'll be okay. The Elements are meant to restore order. Killing or harming is not something they are capable of."

He nodded but still looked confused. "I...I still don't understand though. What made her do that? Why?"

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

"...What made her do that? Why?" I was so confused. Even if she knew she wouldn't be hurt by the blast, what would make her protect me? What would be the point? I closed my eyes and grit my teeth in a frustrated confusion as my mind ran wild in an attempt to make sense of this...but I was ripped from my thoughts when I suddenly felt a soft hoof caress my cheek, and opened my eyes to see it was dark blue.

I looked down and saw Luna smiling at me. "Please smile...I do not like to see you upset, Drew."

It took me a moment to register what she had just said and I whispered, "D-did you just call me..."

The beautiful princess of the night nodded with a smile, but the heartfelt reunion was short-lived, as as a multi-hued stream of color shot out from her chest into the sky. I stuck my head out a window and saw the colors form into a ball, growing larger and larger. The ball of energy grew to be as large as the sun in the sky, and then burst in a brilliant flash of light. I opened my eyes and looked around, noticing all of the Elements unconscious on the ground. I was about to panic before I saw them breathing, to which I sighed with relief. I quickly remembered what was going on and dispelled the barrier spells from around the ruins, at which point Celestia looked at me with a smile.

"I think you should get home, Steelbreaker. Take the Elements with you." she requested, smiling warmly.

I looked at her in confusion and answered, "Celestia...I don't really have a home anymore."

"Do as I say please. Trust me." the sun princess responded with an increasingly larger smile.

I nodded slowly and looked at Luna, who just smiled. "I will be by later, Steel. I promise."

My confusion was still at catastrophic levels, but I did as I was asked and teleported myself and all the girls to the library.

It hadn't even been a day, but it felt great to be back home. I levitated all the girls upstairs to Twilight's room and lay them in bed, then walked downstairs to the kitchen. I grabbed a bottle of hard cider out of the fridge and sat down in the reading room, lighting a fire.

"Man, what a hell of a day." I said to myself while taking a swig of the sweet alcohol.

I heard a groan from the basement and looked to see my brother ascending the stairs.

"Ugh...what the hell happened, man? I had one fucked up dream." he grumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

I was about to tell him when I froze...realization hitting me. "You...you know who I am?"

For a moment the black dragon stared at me before he smirked. "Don't act like a dumbass Drew, it doesn't suit you."

His answer caused me to jump off the chair and hug him as hard as I could. He just stood there, confused, but I merely laughed for a moment before replying, "Yes homo...lots of homo." He chuckled.

I spent the next twenty or so minutes explaining what had happened, and he just sat there listening for awhile before saying anything.

"Wow dude...that's intense. I bet you probably flipped shit." he quipped.

I nodded. "Yeah...little bit."

We just sat there for awhile enjoying the warm fire until I heard the sound of hooves on the floors above me, then more hooves...then lots of hooves. I smiled and stood up, my brother following me to the stairs. Pinkie and Twilight stood at the top of the stairs with the other girls, just staring at me. Twilight ran down the stairs while Pinkie dove off of them over the railing, tackling me to the ground.

The pink pony began sobbing, barely sniffling out, "S-Steelie...I had such a b-b-bad dream. You were s-so s-s-sad..."

I kissed her forehead and held her tight, relishing the love and affection. "It wasn't a dream Pinkie...but everything's alright now."

Pinkie looked up at me with a tearful smile, but stepped off me.

I stood up just to get tackled again by Twilight. I just started laughing like an idiot as I stroked her mane lovingly, saying, "It's okay Twi. It's over." I could feel tears soaking my chest, but she nodded. Dash just stepped over me and Twi...and smiled.

The cyan mare leaned down and nuzzled my cheek. "I'm glad you're okay Steel. I know you'll always pull through somehow." I nodded and pulled her down in a hug.

The next hour was spent talking about what had happened. Apparently my relationships weren't the only ones affected...anyone connected to me was affected too. My brother and Applejack didn't know each other, and Spike didn't know my brother. I heard from Applejack that Big Mac had been very surprised to see a strange mare in his house when he saw my mother, which I laughed at. The CMC had it the easiest...they just made friends with my sister all over again.

There was a knock on the door before it opened, revealing Luna and Lyra covered in snow.

Dash frowned. "Uh oh, looks like the blizzard started."

I nodded and looked at the group of mares. "Anypony need to get home?" Fluttershy and Applejack nodded, so I focused teleported them both home. Luna came and sat next to me on the large couch, and Lyra sat on my lap, nuzzling my chest. 'Still so cute...'

Thoroughly exhausted by the entire day, I found myself dozing off while the others talked. After a few minutes of drifting in and out of consciousness, I finally fell off into blissful sleep.

Perspective change - Princess Celestia

I found myself again in my personal study, frantically going through the different papers and books that were loaded on a large desk. 'There must be something different...something I've missed. Why are the wards failing now?' I searched through everything ranging from spells and charms to physical laws. It just didn't add up...I must be missing something. It was then that I saw a small book from my younger years...a book titled "Magical Law". It was a textbook of sorts given to young unicorns teaching them about the universal laws of magic, and how it affects the world. I started reading the paragraph a couple pages in about the source of a pony's magic.

I read aloud to myself, "A unicorn's magic comes from within. It is drawn from the life force of the unicorn itself. Because of this a unicorn must take care to not overexert oneself." I reminisced about my younger years of reading this for the first time and continued reading. "An alicorn is a different prospect altogether. An alicorn's power is drawn from the latent magic within the environment, and from Terra herself."

I facehooved...that's it! Every time Steelbreaker would use magic, he drew it from anything magical around him, from the air to even the spells of other unicorns...or in this case, from the magical wards that protect our planet.

I made contact with Steelbreaker...this was important. “Steelbreaker, I need to see you in the throne room right now.”

I heard him groan in annoyance before responding, “Ugh...Celestia, isn't one crisis a day enough? I think we've hit quota for awhile.”

I rolled my eyes, even though he couldn’t see me. “Just come here please, it's very important.”

I walked into the throne room to find a very groggy Steelbreaker waiting. He glared at me and I giggled as he said, "This better be important, Celestia. I was having a good dream."

My demeanor became serious normally I would not be able to resist teasing him, but this was important. I steeled my gaze and responded, "It is important, Steelbreaker. Very much so...as in 'safety-of-our-world' important."

He raised an eyebrow and nodded. "Oh? Okay, I'm listening. Please continue."

"Well Steel, you may not know this, but we have magical wards protecting our planet from potential invaders.” I started, eliciting a further confused look from him, so I continued. “These wards are powered from the magic of the planet itself. What you don't know is that these barriers have been weakening...and I think I have found the cause.” I sighed as I prepared to break the news, afraid that he would take it personally. “I pray that you do not take this the wrong way, but the cause...is you."

His expression changed from intrigue to shame in less time than it takes to blink, and he said, "Are...are you saying that I'm a threat to this world?"

I shook my head. "Not directly no, but your magic use is. You see whenever you use magic of any kind, you draw energy from the planet itself. This is why you never feel fatigued no matter how powerful the spell you use. Your magic use has been draining the planet's energy, which in turn weakens the wards. It was fine with just myself and Luna, but the addition of another alicorn has put undue strain on the planet's magic."

Steel’s head bowed as he whispered, "I had no idea.” He lifted his eyes to look at me as he questioned, “You're going to have to send me back to Earth, aren't you?"

I giggled and shook my head. "No Steel, I'm not going to send you back to Earth. What I do need to do however is sever your connection with Terra. This way your body will adjust to build up and use its own magical reserves. Things are going to be very different for you from now on. Most of the spells you were able to cast so easily before will leave you feeling exhausted. I do urge you to be careful. The more you practice with your spells however, the more attuned you will become to your own magic. This in turn will increase your natural magic reserves. It pains me to say that you will likely be outclassed by Luna and myself as far as magic prowess goes, but something tells me that won't bother you too much."

Steel relaxed and nodded. "Well being the most powerful made me a big threat which made Phobos target me. That's not something I ever want to experience again. Besides, I'll still have my girls. They definitely didn't fall for me because of my magic."

I nodded before focusing my spell on the aura around him. I could feel his connection with Terra now that I was looking for it, and in a deft motion, I severed the connection.

Before I could open my eyes I heard a dull thud as he collapsed, and I heard him grunt out, "Wow. I feel so...flimsy now."

I stepped next to Steel, helping him up. "Yes, you are going to feel that way for a few hours while your body adjusts to using your own magic.” Once he was standing, I looked into his eyes with all seriousness as I added, “There is one other thing I need to mention Steel...and it is very important. The Element of the Guardian draws upon the bearer's magic to sustain it. This will be a problem for you now, as the amount of magic it has access to has vastly decreased. Using your Element will leave you feeling weakened. Use if for too long...and it could kill you. Be careful, Steel...please."

He nodded weakly. "I'll only use it if I absolutely need to, I promise."

"Good.” I responded with a smile. I then allowed my magic to flow into my horn once again as I said, “You should get home now, as everypony is probably wondering where you went. You're still recuperating, so I'll send you back. Don't forget to practice with your spells to get stronger."

I focused on his destination and sent him on his way. Confident that things would be okay now, I slowly walked off to my bedchambers for some much-deserved rest.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I found myself back in the library, everyone having gone to bed or something. I felt very tired, so I just grabbed another bottle of hard cider from the fridge sat down in the reading room. While nursing my drink, I began to think of what Celestia had said. It actually scared me a little bit to know that using magic too much could now hurt me now, and I realized just how much I had taken it for granted. In all honesty, it did bother me a little that I wasn't going to be so badass anymore, but I would rather the planet continue to exist more than I want to be the ultimate magic user. I quickly gulped the last of the cider in my bottle and got up to throw the bottle away, nearly tripping as I dragged my hooves across the floor. I strangely didn't feel like going anywhere right now, so I just sat near the window watching the storm outside rage. Things were going to get pretty intense tonight, but luckily things would stay pretty warm in the building. I lay down on the sofa in the main room and fell asleep.

I was awakened a few minutes later by Dash. The pegasus was right in my face saying my name to wake me up, shaking me gently as well.

I rubbed my eyes and yawned before pushing myself off of the sofa. "Hi Dashie. What's up?"

She inclined her head towards the stairs. "You coming to bed?"

I nodded. "Yeah. Lead the way."

While walking up the two flights of stairs I yet again realized just how much I had been depending on magic. I usually would have just teleported to the third floor, but right now I was too afraid to. I didn't want to end up in another coma or something.

When we got to the bedroom, Twilight and Luna had already fallen asleep next to each other, Luna cradling Twi in her hooves. I couldn’t help but smile at the adorable visual as I scooted next to them and lay in the obnoxiously large round bed. Pinkie lay down on my chest while Lyra and Dash got on either side of me, and I felt an honest smile tugging at my lips as I began to realize that I didn’t care about my magic that much.

Maybe things weren't so different after all.

The Party

Chapter 14: The Party

It had been a week since my little breakdown during Phobos' attack on me, and things were settling back to normal. Celestia had told me that it was likely the deity would return, though not for some time to come. I was afraid at first, remembering how distraught I was from just his first attack - and only one day of it - but I resolved to be prepared this time. I began training my mind and emotions to resist the impact that fear would have on me, in an attempt to keep my sanity next time.

Now was not the time for that though...now was a time for celebration.

It was the day of Dashie's birthday and we were all preparing for a massive party at the library. Vinyl would be doing the music (which I was pleased with) and Pinkie of course, would be arranging the whole thing. My job that day was to keep Dash occupied while everything was set up, so I took her out flying. Who knew that something so simple could make her happy? I should have thought of this days ago. The cold air bit at my face, but a pair of goggles that Dash had let me borrow made it bearable. We spent nearly the whole day flying, and I got to find out just how much endurance for flying she has. We flew for hours before I had to stop, and she just lay on the cloud next to me, laughing.

"C'mon Steel, you're out of shape! You need to keep pushing, you got this!" she giggled.

I shook my head, breathing hard. "I never was in shape Dash, at least not as much as you. The only way I pulled off my Brightflash Wave was with magic. Being as I am now, I'm not even sure if I can cast the spell anymore, so you're back to being first again."

"I was always first, Steel. After all, I don't need magic to be awesome. This kind of coolness comes naturally." she smirked.

I shoved her off the cloud and lightly hopped on it, dropping a torrent of snow out of it. I looked off of the cloud to see a rainbow tail sticking out of a pile of snow. I chuckled and flew down to find a shivering Rainbow Dash within the pile.

"So Dash, how cool do you feel now?" I said in between laughs.

She snorted in annoyance. "Just shut up and dig me out, Steel."

We continued flying, but at a more leisurely pace, just talking about random things. I looked up at the sun at some point to find it was just starting to descend from the sky, meaning it was somewhere around 14:00, so we headed back to the library.

I had told Pinkie a new way to surprise Dash, as no doubt she would be expecting it as soon as we walked in. Instead, everyone stayed hidden until Dash sat down on the couch and I went to get her a glass of water. I handed the water to her and she took a big gulp, Pinkie deciding this was the perfect moment for everyone to jump out and yell "surprise".

Pinkie decided to jump right in front of Dash when they all said it, and she got drenched when Dash spit out her water all over her in surprise. I laughed loudly, and Dash joined in. Pinkie just wiped her now straight and wet hair out of her face before embracing Dash in a big hug, me following suit. Dash sat there and blushed a bit before pushing us away.

"Alright already guys, let's stop with the mushiness for now and PARTY!" she yelled.

Applejack had been kind enough to supply us with a keg of her fermented hard cider, so each of us had a few drinks. I noticed that most all of our friends were there, including Lyra, Luna, and even Celly made an appearance. Before things got too crazy, we set about giving Dash her presents.

She opened Rarity's first, to find a new pair of flight goggles with a rainbow strap and her cutie mark on the back. 'Oh, my gift will go perfect with that!' I looked over and Rarity and winked, and she nodded back.

Applejack's gift was a few jars of zap apple jam and a personal barrel of cider. Dash's eyes lit up at the sight of the barrel and she wrapped AJ in a bone-crushing hug.

"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!" she squealed while squeezing the orange mare.

AJ hacked, "RD...air!"

Dash let go of AJ with a giggle. "Sorry AJ, but really, thanks. You know how much I love your cider."

Pinkie's gift was next, and Dash opened the bright pink box to find a dozen rainbow-frosted cupcakes. She smiled and gave her pink friend a big hug.

Dash then grabbed a small yellow-wrapped box with a pink ribbon from Fluttershy. As she opened the box, her eyes widened as she pulled out a pair of dark flight goggles, signed by Spitfire, Soarin, Rapidfire and Fleetfoot of the Wonderbolts.

"F-Fluttershy...how?" the cyan mare stuttered.

The usually timid pegasus giggled. "I have my ways, Dashie. Happy birthday." She wrapped her best friend in a tight hug. The rainbow-maned pegasus closed her eyes and returned the hug with a smile.

Dash grabbed my present next, but I stopped her. "No Dashie...I want you to open mine last. Trust me." She nodded and smiled.

Twilight stepped forward next with a rainbow-wrapped gift box. Dash took it with a smile and tore off the wrapping. She opened the small box and pulled out a small bracelet with engravings of all of the Elements' cutie marks.

Dash smiled, but looked a little confused. "This is really nice Twi and I like it, but..."

Twilight smiled back. "Look at the inside of the band, Rainbow."

Dash read the inside out loud. "Soar through the sky, and into your dreams. To our friend, the pegasus that's 20% cooler." Dash smiled at Twilight, a tear in her eye.

Twi brought her pegasus friend into a hug. "It's for you to remember us when you become a Wonderbolt. You'll make it Dash, I know you will...we all do."

Dash actually started crying with a smile on her face. "T-thanks, Twi. I love you guys..." We all gathered for another group hug around her, but this time she just sighed contentedly and smiled.

My brother held out a present next once we all released the birthday girl, the wrapping of course being subpar. She ripped open the package to pull out a bright blue helmet that matched her coat. She cocked an eyebrow at him and he laughed.

"It's made of titanium. I found a new way to heat the metal using my own fire. It's very thin and light, but twice as strong. As you can see, it's also very aerodynamic. It'll make it easier for you to hit top speed while still keeping your vision clear, and it's hard enough and padded enough to protect that thick skull of yours when you're practicing new tricks." he explained with a smirk.

Dash shoved him playfully before pulling him into a hug. "Thanks a lot, Dark. I love it."

Luna stepped up next with a very large box covered in a shimmering gold wrapping paper. "This is from both myself and Tia. We hope you like it, Rainbow Dash."

Dash nodded and ripped open the package, then stepped back in awe. Inside was a white suit of armor, not unlike the royal pegasus guards wore. On the breastplate was etching of the Elements' cutie marks, as well as my own in the middle. Dash pulled out the helmet first, to find that it weighed next to nothing, and was surprised to find it shimmered in the light with the colors of the rainbow.

Celestia spoke up. "We know how protective you are of your friends, Rainbow Dash, and you have ended up in the hospital on more than one occasion because of it. This is modified royal guard armor, enchanted to be light as a feather. It is made of magesteel, a very rare naturally magical metal that is stronger than diamonds. This armor will not inhibit your flight capabilities, but will allow you to protect your loved ones fervently without endangering yourself too much. A perfect gift for the Element of Loyalty, I think...and one of the bravest - if sometimes hot-headed - ponies I have ever known."

Dash walked over to the two princesses and embraced them in a hug. "Thank you so much. This...this means a lot to me." The two princesses returned the hug to the pegasus and nudged her back over to me.

I finally passed my present to Dash and she opened the package quickly. Her mouth dropped open. Everyone stared at her and I nodded.

"What is it, Dash?" Twilight asked.

The rainbow daredevil smiled. "Wait here and I'll show you."

She grabbed the box my gift was in and Rarity's goggles and sped off to the study on the second floor. She returned a moment later with her new flight suit on and her goggles from Rarity. Everyone in the room gasped. The entire room was silent until Pinkie spoke up for us all.

"That...is...so...COOL! OHMYGOSH DASHIE! You look awesome!" Pinkie said with a massive smile.

Dash struck a pose. "Oh yeah, this is awesome..." She then tackled me to the ground. "Thanks so much Steel...this suit is amazing! It's so cool!"

I laughed. "Well give Rarity some credit too. She helped me come up with it, and of course she did the actual clothing work."

Dash then rushed over to Rarity and hugged her as well, nuzzling her mane. "Thanks, Rare. This suit is amazing."

The white unicorn hugged back strongly. "You are most welcome, Rainbow Dash. Only the best for Equestria's fastest flyer."

With all of the presents out of the way, we all started to mingle, dance, and all that stuff. Well...I didn't dance, but you know what I mean. All of the ponies have had a couple of drinks by now, so the party was loose and fun. I think I even saw Luna dancing with Twilight and Dash on the dance floor, but I just sat on the couch with a broad smile nursing my fourth cup of hard cider. It began to get a little hot inside, so I trotted up to the observation deck for some fresh air, leaving the booming bass of the party music downstairs.

I opened the glass shield and took a deep breath of the refreshing, cool air before I sat down with my drink and just stared out at the lovely winter day. I heard hoofsteps from behind me as well as what sounded like clawed feet. I turned to see Big Mac, Moonfang, and my brother coming up behind me. Big Mac was holding a bucket with bottles of hard cider in it.

"Mind if we join ya pardner?" the crimson stallion asked.

I shook my head with a smile. "Not at all, guys. Take a seat and enjoy the cool air."

They all nodded and took seats around the outdoor hearth. I levitated a few logs in with some effort and sparked a small flame that slowly overtook the fuel logs.

"So Moonfang, it's been awhile. What have you been up to?" I asked the wolf.

He took a sip of the sweet alcoholic beverage and smiled. "Things have been very good Steel, thanks. I just want to thank you again for doing what you did for me. It literally changed my life."

I nodded. "You're most welcome, Moonfang. How's life with Fluttershy?"

He looked down in thought, but smiled. "It's great. She's very kind to me, and for that I am grateful. I really like her. I wish I could find a mate like her."

I chuckled. "Well why don't you run that by her and see what she thinks of it?"

Moonfang looked confused as he responded, "I...I am not sure what you mean, Steel. I should tell her I want to find a mate like her?"

My brother rolled his eyes and tapped the wolf on his shoulder. "Dude, she likes you. I can't say how much, but that little pony is scared of everything. If she's that comfortable around you and lets you live with her, she obviously cares about you. Besides, I've seen you two in public, and she just loves to hug you, in case you haven't noticed. No offense, but you have wooden skin. If she's that hug-tastic with you, it's not because she loves to feel like she's rubbing up against a tree. 'Sall I'm sayin'."

He nodded and stood up. "You're right, I should speak to her right now."

I pointed towards the open door with a smile. "Right now would be good. Knowing her, Dash is probably getting her to drink. Give it much longer and she's just going to pass out. You better hurry." The wolf nodded and bounded down the stairs.

Big Mac chuckled, as did I.

"They grow up so fast." I said, wiping away a fake tear.

The dragon and stallion laughed at me. "Okay grandpa." said the obsidian dragon with a smirk.

I raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Hey you can call me old if you want, but who has three Elements of Harmony, a goddess, and a lyrist? This guy, that's who. Guess the ladies just like the older, cultured gentlecolt."

Dark kicked my chair and laughed. "Dude if you're cultured, I'm a rainbow-haired clown with a righteous codpiece."

I chuckled and turned to Big Mac. "So Mac, how are things with you and mum?"

The stallion suddenly got nervous. "Umm...well things are good."

I placed a hoof on his shoulder, as did my brother but with a claw. "Mac, don't worry. She's a grown woman. If we were going to kick your flank for dating our mother, we'd have done it already. Her business is her business. I'm just asking if things are going good."

He relaxed with a sigh of relief. "Eeyup, things are goin' good. I gotta be honest, Steel...I could see me an' her goin' somewhere."

I smiled and gave a playful slug to his side. "It's about time, Mac. Who'd have known it would take a mare coming from a different world altogether for you to finally find one you like? Well so long as you make her happy, I don't have a problem with it."

My brother suddenly got very close to Big Mac's face. "But if you break her heart for no good reason, they'll never find your body." He glared at the red stallion for a second before bursting out into laughter. "I'm just kidding Mac, I know you'll treat her good."

We kept drinking until all the alcohol was gone, and needless to say we were all very...relaxed. Big Mac stumbled towards the door, my brother following him to make sure he didn't take a tumble down the staircase. I continued to sit on the couch nursing the last of my drink, just thinking again about how much my life has changed in such a short time. This time last year, I was working at a dead-end job in a world I honestly hated. Being in Equestria, Earth seems so far away. I let my mind wander for awhile until I heard hoofsteps coming up, albeit a little unsteadily. I looked towards the staircase to find Lyra and Luna walking towards me, slight blushes on their faces and giggling as if they'd heard a funny joke. I could tell they were both a little drunk, so I quickly made room next to me so they wouldn't fall on me. Luna gracefully sat down next to me, while Lyra nearly fell on the couch. I could have sworn the unicorn must have fallen asleep almost instantly, as I heard soft little snores from her. I focused hard and levitated her to the bed behind us and covered her up. Upon release of the spell, I felt a little drained, and Luna noticed.

"Steel, you must take care not to over exert yourself. You are still building up your magic." the princess voiced with concern.

I smiled and nuzzled her. "I'll be fine Luna. I've never been known for being reckless."

Without thinking about it, I leaned against her and began singing a song to her...

"When I counted up my demons
Saw there was one for every day
With the good ones on my shoulders
I drove the other ones away"

As closed my eyes and began to sing, I could swear I heard the music playing...

"So if you ever feel neglected
If you think that all is lost
Well I'll be counting up my demons, yeah
Hoping everything's not lost"

Wait a minute...I could hear the music. What was going on?

"When you thought that it was over
You could feel it all around
And everybody's out to get you
Don't you let it drag you down

'Cos if you ever feel neglected
If you think that all is lost
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah
Hoping everything's not lost"

Luna noticed too, because her ears perked up and she sat up straight, looking around.

"If you ever feel neglected
If you think that all is lost
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah
Hoping everything's not lost"

I was compelled to finish the song, even though by now Luna was staring at me with wide eyes.

"Singing out
Oh oh oh yeah
Oh oh yeah
Oh oh yeah
Everything's not lost

So come on yeah
Oh oh yeah
A'come on yeah
And everything's not lost

Oh oh yeah
Oh oh yeah
Oh oh yeah
And everything's not lost

Come on yeah
Oh oh yeah
A'come on yeah..."

Luna closed her eyes and smiled, swaying to the rhythm of the song.

"A'come on yeah
Oh oh yeah
Come on yeah
Everything's not lost

Sing out yeah
Oh oh yeah
Come on yeah
Everything's not lost

Come on yeah
Oh oh yeah
Sing out yeah
And everything's not lost"

As I finished the song, I could see Luna suddenly realize it was over and start staring at me again.

"Steel, how did you do that?" she asked incredulously.

I simply shook my head. "I'm not sure. I just sang the song like I always have, albeit an octave lower because of my voice range. Strangely enough, I don't feel tired like I usually do after using magic. Do you think your sister would know what just happened?"

Luna placed her hoof on her chin in thought. "I am not sure, but it could not hurt to ask. She would be here still, so let us go downstairs and ask her."

I followed Luna's lead and walked downstairs to see Celestia...dancing? I stood there for a moment before chuckling. She heard me and turned around with a smirk.

"What...a princess isn't allowed to dance?" the sun princess asked with a giggle.

I shook my head with a giggle of my own. "I am just surprised that you're so good at it. I'm glad one of us is. Anyway Celly, I have something I want to show you and everyone else here. I want to see if you can tell me exactly what's happening." I looked over at Vinyl and she tossed me a mic. I have to be honest, I felt kind of nervous with a room full of ponies staring at me now, but I did the same as I did upstairs and closed my eyes...feeling the music within me.

"Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by
You know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me

And I'm feeling...good
I'm feeling good"

Just like when I was with Luna, the backing music started softly, almost as if I'm imagining it. Until the brass kicked in...and suddenly ponies everywhere started to nod their heads and I could tell they heard it too.

"Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom on a tree
You know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me

And I'm feeling good"

As I started to get more into the song I opened my eyes and stood up on my hind legs, moving around smoothly, as if possessed by the very music I was performing. Vinyl had taken her goggles off and was staring at me with her mouth open, Celly doing the same.

"Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That's what I mean

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world

For me.
For me!"

I stepped down into the crowd seeking out each one of my girls that were there, singing a bit to them. Pinkie nearly fainted, while Twilight did when I kissed her on the cheek. 'Ah, the power of the crooner...'

"Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life"

I stood in front of Pinkie and placed a hoof on her chin, looking right into her eyes. 'Okay, this is fun...I could definitely get used to this.'

"It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life"

I stepped back to Luna and Celly, singing in front of them before seeking out Dash, and making my way closer to her with each sentence. I grabbed her with my free hoof and started dancing with her. 'Wait a minute...I definitely can't dance usually. I could definitely get used to this...whatever it is.'

"It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
It's a new life
For me

And I'm feeling...good
I'm feeling good
I feel so good
I feel so good"

With the last word I dipped Dash and kissed her softly. She closed her eyes with a sigh and went limp in my foreleg. When she opened her eyes, she stared at me with a dreamy expression of bliss, while the entire room erupted in applause. I sat her down on the couch behind me to make sure she wouldn't fall or something, then walked over to Celly and Luna.

"So, what did you think?" I asked with a smile.

Celestia just stared at me in awe before smiling. "Well I think it's safe to say you've uncovered a talent of yours, Steel. I believe that if you didn't already have your cutie mark, you'd get a music-related one. Now about the spell - and yes it was a spell - that you cast...I've only heard rumors of such an ability in the past. It appears that your passion for the music you perform feeds into you, and in a way gives you life. The spell somehow feeds off of this passion you have within you instead of your magic, which is why you haven't collapsed from exhaustion. It works in the same way that Luna and I can raise and lower our sun and moon, as we have a passion for what we do."

I nodded. "So is it like I created another spell or did this one already exist?"

Luna shook her head. "No Steel, the spell you cast already exists. You just have the means to cast it while using little to no magic."

I frowned. "Y'know, I kinda wish I had a greater passion for the protection of my family. The music thing will be great and all, but I doubt it'll be all that useful in a battle-type situation."

Celestia laughed and shook her head. "The feeling needed to cast the spell the way you did must be pure, and non-violent. That is why it wouldn't work in a fight. Obviously a fight is quite violent."

I nodded. "Yeah that makes sense." It was then that I heard the crowd in the room shouting 'MORE, MORE, MORE!' and I sighed. "Guess they're calling for me." I turned to the crowd and picked up the mic. "Okay everypony one more song. For this one though, I'm going to need my guitar. Spike, you know where it is, it's the one that's shaped like a giant 'V'."
Spike nodded and headed downstairs. He returned a few moments later with my Gibson Flying V guitar. I had gotten it when I was just fifteen, and have had it ever since. I slung the old guitar over my head and shoulder then took the amp cord and plugged it into the soundboard of Vinyl's. She got the hint and asked me to test a bit, and she adjusted the levels.

She gave me a smile and a nod.

I then started to strum out the opening of Van Halen's "Panama" with the edge of my hoof, which luckily worked very well. I had to use magic at first for the frets, until I suddenly felt the strain be taken off of me when I started to feel the song.

Oh yeah!

Jump back, what's that sound?
Here she comes, full blast and top down
Hot shoe, burnin' down the avenue
Model citizen, zero discipline

Don't ya know she's coming home with me
You'll lose her in that turn
I'll get her!

Panama, Panama
Panama, Panama

Ain't nothin' like it, her shiny machine
Got the feel for the wheel, keep the movin' parts clean
Hot shoe, burnin' down the avenue
Got an on-ramp comin' through my bedroom

Don't you know she's coming home with me
You'll lose her in that turn
I'll get her


Panama, Panama
Panama, Panama


When the guitar solo came, I found myself shredding faster than I ever had before. My fingers had always spazzed out on this part, but my magic was more dextrous, oddly enough.

"Yeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight
I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off
You know what I'm sayin'
Ahh, I reach down between my legs n' ease the seat back

She's runnin', I'm flyin'
Right behind in the rearview mirror now
Got the fearin', power steerin'
Pistons poppin', ain't no stoppin' now

Panama, Panama
Panama, Panama
Panama, Panama


I closed my eyes for a moment and stood up, before I was nearly knocked over by the thunderous applause of the ponies filling the room. I smiled and bowed before placing my guitar next to the DJ booth and stepping off of the "stage".

Pinkie ran up and hugged me. "Ohmygosh Steelie, that was awesome! I wanna hear more sometime!"

I chuckled and kissed the pink mare on the cheek. "Oh you will. Now that I know I can do this kind of thing, I'll be performing a lot more for you girls." She smiled and hugged me again.

By this time, it was around midnight, so the ponies started to filter out, including Celestia. We all said goodbye to the solar princess and she gave us all a big hug before she took off in the air towards Canterlot. Luna and Dash were both leaning against me in the doorway, watching her leave. After she disappeared into the night, we all got to cleaning up the library before heading to the shower and then to bed.

Lyra was already asleep on the top deck, so we all decided to sleep up there. Upon entering the room, we all just lay down on the bed, Luna on my right side and Twilight between us. Dash floated in and settled between us as well, but laying sideways against my leg. Pinkie and Lyra were already asleep on my left.

I looked at Twilight and then at Luna, and the night princess winked at me and I smiled. We both leaned in and kissed the unicorn on the cheeks, and she blushed madly and giggled.

Drunk Twilight was fun...

Strangely enough I had trouble sleeping, and found myself lying awake staring at the ceiling. It was aggravating as nothing in particular was on my mind...I just couldn't sleep. I felt Pinkie stir beside me, and she looked up at me with those pretty blue eyes.

"Steelie, why are you still awake, aren't you tired?" she whispered innocently.

I nodded. "I am very tired Pinkie, but I don't know, I just can't fall asleep."

She nodded and got closer to me, wrapping her hooves around me. This helped, and I finally felt myself start to drift off. Just before falling asleep, pulled Dash up against me and I kissed the birthday mare, whispering a simple “I love you”. The cyan pegasus opened one eye and smiled lovingly before both of us settled into merciful rest.

Author's Notes:

Songs mentioned: "Everything's Not Lost" by Coldplay on the album Parachutes. If you like Coldplay and want a great chill song, I recommend listening to it. Second song is "Feeling Good" as performed by Michael Bublé on the album It's Time. Third song is "Panama" by Van Halen on the album 1984.

Is it Worth it?

Chapter 15: Is it Worth It?

Perspective change - Lyra

I woke up in bed next to a fluffy pink mane and with a splitting headache, along with the need to curse at the light shining in my eyes. Luckily, I caught my bearings long enough to prevent a string of obscenities spewing out of my mouth, instead just groaning with pain. I rolled off the plush bed careful not to wake anypony and stumbled to the bathroom as quietly as I could.

Thankfully the room was just around the corner, so I didn't have to brave the swaying hallway for long. I stood up against the counter in the lavatory and shook my head at my appearance. My mane was bedraggled, my eyes were bloodshot, and I had a line of dried drool on my cheek.

'Oh yeah...that's so sexy. I'm sure Steel would just love to wake up next to this.'

I turned on the shower and stepped in immediately, letting the cold water drops wash away some of my hangover. I heard the door open and saw a blurred blue shape through the shower doors. It approached me and that's when I noticed a polychromatic mane...Rainbow Dash.

She knocked on the door softly. "Hey Lyra, you mind if I join ya?"

I pushed open the door and beckoned her in without a word, placing a hoof to my lips and making a "shhhh" sound, because my head was still pounding with every noise. The cyan pegasus stepped in next to me and began to dampen herself underneath she water. She did much the same as I did and just sat down on the tile flooring, letting the cool water wash over her.

I leaned towards her and whispered in her ear, more for my benefit than hers. "Rainbow, please don't ever let me drink that much again. Never, ever, ever again."

She just giggled softly and placed a hoof on my shoulder. "Dark tried to warn you those drinks would sneak up on you, but nooo...you had to get into a drinking contest with Pinkie. I warned you after all."

I resigned to just laying down in the water now...it felt so good. "I really don't need the 'I told you so' speech right now. What I do need is a good massage. I think I slept wrong or something, because my neck is killing me. Do you know if Steel's any good at giving a massage?"

She blushed. "W-well that depends on what your definition of 'good' is. You don't need to bother Steel with that though, I can give you one."

I turned back to look at her with a raised eyebrow. "No offense Rainbow, but you don't seem like the gentle type. I need hooves that will relax my tension away, not rearrange my bones."

She snorted and placed her hooves on my exposed back. "Just trust me, I know what I'm doing. I learned from a trainer of mine during flight school."

I felt her place her hooves on my back while applying light pressure, moving them in a circular motion on the muscles just behind my shoulders. I couldn't contain a soft moan of pleasure. I whispered out, "Wow...that's a lot better than I was expecting. N-no offense, Dash."

She leaned really close to my right ear, and I could feel her breath. "Oh...I'm just full of surprises, Lyra."

Wait a minute...was she coming on to me? I couldn't deny that she was really cute, but what about Steel? I kinda felt like even doing this I was cheating on him somehow. I know it didn't really make sense, but..."Rainbow, I really don't - oh - know about - mmm - p-please don't stop..."

Perspective change - Steel

I woke up slowly, luckily without a headache. I looked around me and smiled, all the mares sleeping soundly still...even Pinkie. 'Wait...someone's missing...' I just shrugged it off and softly floated out of bed and trotted to the washroom. I stepped in the steamed up room to hear the shower running...and then I saw something I for some reason wished I shouldn't have. It was...private.

I just gasped and closed my eyes. "Shit...I'm sorry!"

I left the washroom, nearly slamming the door behind me with my heart beating out of my chest. 'Wow...that was one of the last things I was expecting this morning...right before a greased deaf pony running around town.' I just shook my head to clear the image before heading downstairs for some breakfast and coffee. My brother was standing next to the kitchen and he handed me a cup of coffee with a smirk.

"So, how's your morning going?" he asked cooly.

I shook my head. "Interesting so far. I just walked in on Dash and Lyra in the shower."

He shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, so?"

I raised my eyebrows. "Together."

His eyes went wide and he looked upstairs. "Are they still in there?" He started to make his way upstairs.

I flicked a bit of magic and pulled him back. "No dude, don't be a dick. I'd rather not have to explain to a bunch of pissed off females why I didn't stop you from attempting to watch a 'free show'."

He chuckled and waved a claw. "C'mon man, I'm just teasin'. Besides, what are you doing down here? You should be gettin' in on that action. Are you gay or something?"

I rolled my eyes. "Totally dude. My straight mannerisms and perceived interest in the opposite sex is all just a cover. You've found me out! Oh woe is me, it is all over." I said dramatically with a hoof over my forehead.

He chuckled a bit and then looked at a book that had been left on the reading table, suddenly taking a very serious face. "Dude, I've been reading up on a few things lately, and it's got me thinking..."

I took another swig of the lovely caffeinated beverage. "About?"

He sighed, a little distraught. "Well...I caught sight of the life expectancy of a dragon. Dude, I'm going to live to be about twelve-thousand years old, at least."

I sat down next to him, and eyed him with interest. "Wow...that's pretty heavy man. Yeah, supposedly alicorns live forever unless killed, and even that's supposed to be a hard task."

He looked a little depressed at me. "Nah dude, you know what that means right? That means that all of these girls...mom...Jen...we're gonna outlive all of them. You'll also outlive me."

I felt his dejected tone spread to me. "Wow. You know when you put it that way, it's kind of depressing. Thanks a lot for ruining my day, asshat."

He actually looked at me apologetically. "I'm sorry man...it's just that now I'm kinda worried about things. I mean, what's going to happen to me when Applejack di-"

I cut him off. "Dude, knock it off. Seriously, keep that shit to yourself, my mind is already running crazy with the idea. I don't need to start thinking about how I'm going to react when I have to attend Dashie's funeral one day...FUCK!" I cursed loudly. I stormed out of the library and grumbled, "I need some air."

I took off flying as soon as I closed the front door behind me. I had to get away. I didn't even care where right now, I just needed to fly far away...away from my thoughts.

The bad thing about thoughts is that no matter how fast you fly, they catch up with you.

I flared my wings before flopping down on a cloud in turmoil. In just five minutes my brain hit the realization like a brick wall: everyone that I loved save for Luna was going to eventually get old and die. Twilight will one day have such bad vision she might not be able to read anymore. Dash will one day be so stiff and tired she won't be able to fly anymore. Pinkie will eventually lose her all-encompassing exuberance. Lyra will one day lose that cheeky young attitude that I loved. Eventually they would all grow old and die, leaving me to watch them pass into the next life, whatever that is on this world. The more I thought about it, the more depressed I got. I just wish someone could give me answers. 'Wait a minute...Celestia! She'll know how to handle this...right?' I immediately took off towards the palace.

I arrived at the front gates, the guards simply nodding and waving me inside. It was still early morning, so I know Celly would still be in the banquet hall for breakfast, so I asked a nearby guard to escort me there.

I walked into the large room to find Celly enjoying a small sandwich with some tea. She looked up at me and smiled, but her smile quickly faded into concern when she saw my face.

"Steel, what's the matter?" she asked softly.

I just sat down next to her with a sad sigh.

She prodded my shoulder. "Steel, you can talk to me. What has you down?"

I looked over at her with tears threatening to break free. "Celly...I just realized the gravity of my immortality. The fact that I will live while my loved ones die. I-I don't know how to deal with it."

Her eyes reflected understanding and stood up. "Come...we will speak in my private chambers. Follow me, Steel."

I complied and followed her down the winding corridors and hallways of the palace until we came upon a massive golden door with a depiction of the sun on it. She nodded to the two guards standing post outside, waving them off to leave. She then pushed on the door and I followed her inside. Her room was not unlike Luna's, though instead of a magical ceiling of a starry expanse, hers was simply a normal ceiling.

She pointed at her bed while grabbing a brush in her magic. "Sit, Steel."

I nodded and sat down on the soft bed...a little too soft, actually. She brushed her ever-flowing mane a few times and sat down on the opposite side of the bed, laying down and propping herself up with a pillow and her hoof.

She motioned for me to do the same. "Get comfortable, there is much for me to say."

I nodded and just lay on my back, propping my head up with a foreleg. "So Celly, what have you to say?"

She suddenly looked a little sad. "Steel...I understand your pain, more than you know."

My ears perked up. "You were in love once? With who?"

She just shook her head and smiled sadly. "Truth be told Steel, I have my eye on somepony right now, as a matter of fact. That aside though, I know what it's like to have to watch a loved one die knowing that there's nothing you can do to stop it. I understand what it's like to know that everyone you know will at one point cease to be. This is why my bond with my sister is so strong and so important. Luna is the one pony I know will always be by my side. It is because of our immortality that alicorns have rarely chosen mates who were not also alicorns. I made what I considered to be such a mistake centuries ago..."

I placed a hoof softly on her shoulder as she shed a tear. "What was his name?"

She lowered her gaze to the soft sheets we were laying on. "Veroxzhar." She moved closer and nuzzled against my mane, crying softly.

"That doesn't sound like a pony's name I've ever heard of. Did ponies have different names back then?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

She shook her head, still buried in my mane. "No, he was not a pony. He was...a dragon."

I drew a sharp breath in surprise. "You were enamored with a dragon? Wow. I mean I guess I don't really have a problem with interspecies relationships - with me technically being a human and all - but wow...he must have been quite the charmer to catch your attention."

She drew back and looked at me again, this time with a smile filled with the remembrance of times gone by. "Yes, he was very different from most dragons. He was a gem dragon, like Twilight's assistant, Spike. Just like all dragons he was proud, wise, and powerful. However he was also kind, gentle, and loving.” The sun princess took a breath before continuing with, “Dragons are not the heartless monsters ponies think they are, Steel. They are simply...misunderstood. Dragonkin keep up the facade to keep any land-hungry races from invading their lands. Make no mistake, they are actually a noble and intelligent race. They simply wish to protect their kind, as I do my own."

I nodded slowly. "I understand. You really do know my fears then. I'm not sure what I should do though. I love Twilight and the others fully, but I am just afraid of the heartbreak of their inevitable decline and death."

She frowned and stood up in front of me. "Well Steel, in response to that I must take measures to assure that you do not suffer such sadness and pain. As your princess I hereby forbid you from any further relationships with non-alicorns."

I was dumbstruck. "B-but what? N-no...you can't do that! I won't let you! I don't care if you are the princess or not, you have no right so suggest such a thing!"

Her gaze grew forceful. "You dare defy your princess? What makes you think you know more than I?"

The anger welled up within me, an emotion I never thought I would feel for Celestia. I stood, a fierce glare on my face. "Because it's worth it. You may be ruler of this land, but you have no right to place a law on my feelings. I don't care if it's fifty minutes or fifty years, every second is worth it..." I dropped my glare and stared off into space.

The regal alicorn walked closer to me and smiled. "I believe you've given us both an answer, Steel.” She then turned towards a window that overlooked a view of Ponyville in the distance. “Never stop caring, never stop loving...that is the secret to the sanity of an immortal. Whether it be a simple subject or my precious student, Twilight...I love all of my little ponies with all of my heart. Learn to do the same, and you will be just fine. Besides," she stepped closer and embraced me in a tight hug. "you will always have myself and Luna by your side. When the time comes, you will miss those who have passed...but you will never be alone. That much I promise you."

The realization of the inevitability of the life I’d chosen hit me again, and I couldn’t help but let a few pained tears fall...but now this future wasn’t so frightening anymore. I looked to the solar princess and smiled, returning the hug. "Thank you Celly. You've given me quite a few things to think about...but I think I'll be okay now. This has actually taken a lot out of me...do you mind if I take a nap here?"

She released me and nodded. "You may use my bed. I will be in the throne room should you need me while you're here. Sleep well..."

I could have swore I heard her say something else, but I just settled into the plush bed and nearly instantly fell asleep.

Perspective change - Celestia

"Sleep well...prince." I said in a whisper. He lay his head down on my pillow and closed his eyes, quickly slipping off into much-needed rest. I silently left the room and closed the door, heading towards the boredom that awaited me in the throne room.

Day court was more of a formality now because of Twilight's organizational skills. Where once there were dozens of cases to go through, there were now rarely more than ten, if that. More often than not, I would actually bring a book or two to keep myself occupied in between cases, casually chatting with Brightwing and Shining Armor, my two most trusted guards.

I had met Sir Brightwing when he was but a foal, his parents being servants within the palace. He showed much promise early in life as a fighter and as he grew, he became a personal friend of mine. When he was nineteen, I inducted him and his equally talented brother, Nightwing, into the royal guard training program at their request. While Nightwing had chosen to take his career to the Equestrian Military, Brightwing stayed within the royal guard, quickly advancing through the ranks until he became a part of the prestigious Celestial Guard. He took his vows a little over six years ago, and he has been serving ever since.

Guard Captain Shining Armor is a different story. He was once a recruit in the Royal Guard during an attack from a radical gryphon faction, where he nearly gave his life in my protection. For his valor and stalwart dedication, I immediately asked that he be promoted to Captain. Shortly after his promotion he fell in love with my niece, Princess Cadence. The day of their marriage in Canterlot, Queen Chrysalis infiltrated and attacked with her swarm of changelings. Upon regaining his own consciousness with the efforts of Twilight and the other elements, Captain Shining Armor recast his barrier spell with the help of Cadence, effectively ending the incident. The young captain became a personal advisor and friend, and I trust him with my life. He is also one of the only living ponies who knows about my past.

While waiting for another court case to come about, I was speaking casually with the two guards, about seemingly random things until Shining Armor brought up the topic of his younger sister, Twilight, or more specifically, the stallion she’d fallen in love with.

"Well, I worry about her, Celestia. I mean she's been sending me letters lately talking about some stallion and I haven't even met the guy yet." the guard captain said, clearly frustrated by the matter.

I simply smiled. "Fear not, captain, I can personally assure you that she is in good hooves. As a matter of fact, perhaps you could meet him soon."

He nodded. "That would put my mind at ease. Any idea when that would be?"

I just smiled. "How about now?" I focused on Steel and connected my mind with his. “Steel, would you come to the throne room please?”

It took a moment for him to respond, but when he finally did so, I could almost taste the annoyance in his voice. “You know Celly, any other pony would be cranky when you wake them up from a good dream. Just saying.”

I giggled. “Oh come now Steel, you know I would not wake you if it were not important. Captain Shining Armor wishes to meet the stallion who makes his sister happy.”

I heard him sigh before he responded, “Fine fine, I'm on my way.”

A few minutes passed before Steel strode into the throne room, catching the attention of the two guards at my sides. They each bowed to him, and he just simply rolled his eyes.

"Guys please don't bow. I might be an alicorn, but I'm not royalty, I assure you." he said with a hint of annoyance.

The two guards stood once more, eyeing me with confusion. "He speaks the truth. Captain Armor, Brightwing, I would like you to meet Steelbreaker. Shining Armor, this is the stallion you've heard so much about from Twilight."

Steel simply smiled. "Ah, so you're the awesome BBBFF I've heard so much about. Twilight's told me a lot about you."

The captain slowly advanced towards Steel, stopping a few feet in front of him. "Well you have manners. I guess you're doing okay so far."

Steel merely rolled his eyes again. "Well I'll answer a few questions for you that every protective brother would want to know. First off, I would protect Twilight with my life if it came to that. I treat her with the love and respect that she deserves. Lastly, no, we haven't done 'the naughty hug', as Pinkie Pie calls it."

Shining Armor tilted his head. "Did you just read my mind or something?"

Steel simply shook his head and smiled. "I'm not only the Element of the Guardian, but also a big brother myself. I just know how you feel is all."

The captain just stared at me and I giggled. I went about explaining the story of the Lost Elements, as well as how Steel came upon his. The two guards went about asking a few questions here and there, while Steel sat by my side looking utterly bored.

"So are there any other 'unknown elements' we should know about?" Brightwing asked with confusion.

I shook my head and sighed. "If there are, they are so much of a secret that even I do not know of their existence."

Day court finished early at lunchtime, so I invited Steel to join me for lunch. I found myself unconsciously glancing at him from time to time nervously, only to avert my gaze with a slight blush when he would look up. I couldn't deny to myself that he was a very handsome stallion, and I believe that the fact he was also immortal unconsciously allowed me to lower the wall I usually kept around my own emotions. Looking at him without the guarded mind I usually have, I could see why my sister had fallen for him. He had changed quite a bit just from coming to our world. He had gone from an anti-social human to a stallion that loved to be around others. From what he had told me of his world, I understood exactly why he chose to be alone rather than seek out other human companionship. Much of his world was selfish, corrupted, and dark. I still remember my look of shock when he told us all of the often pointless killing that took place on Earth.

I was happy I had brought such a man here, and I know he was too. For the first time in many years, I felt proud of something other than my duty of raising the sun.

I remember upon him first coming here, I would find myself almost unconsciously probing his mind, trying to discern his thoughts. Somehow he quickly found a way to shield himself, his explanation being that there were things he had done and experienced that would prove detrimental to my mental health. I was at first offended that he thought me some fragile flower, but understood when he explained to me what was considered a simple nightmare to him. I remember him referencing a story - a "fan-fiction" as he called it - on his world, called "Cupcakes". After hearing a general explanation of the story, I began to see what he meant when he referred to the human race as sick and diseased.

We quickly finished lunch and made our way to the gardens for the bit of new-found downtime I found myself with during recent times. Thanks to my precious student, I now had time to be more than a simple ruler; I had time to be Celestia again after more than three centuries. I had real friends again - a luxury I had not allowed myself since Verox had died those many years ago. I felt my age pressing down on me, but looking over at the young alicorn stallion laying on the grass a few feet away from me made me smile.

He opened his eyes and looked at me with concern. "Is something on your mind Celly? You've been deep in thought most of the time I've been here today."

I was forced myself from my thoughts and offered a smile. "Yes, I fear my mind has been wandering. I apologize."

He scooted closer and placed a hoof on my side, softly brushing my cutie mark in the process, and I just barely contained an involuntary moan.

He looked up at me with concerned eyes and stated, "Celly, you once asked me to voice any concerns I had. You told me I could tell you anything...well now I'm extending the same thing to you. What's bothering you?"

I looked over and smiled softly at him. "I pray you don't take this the wrong way, but I've been thinking of you."

He smiled. "I kinda figure since you hope I don't take it the wrong way, you mean you're thinking of me in a non-romantic sense. True?"

I just nodded. "I won't lie and say I do not find you attractive on a number of levels, but no...that is not where my thoughts were. I was simply thinking of how different you've turned out to be from what I had imagined, especially considering your life and the world you came from. You could have easily turned out much more...hostile."

He just chuckled. "Well Celestia, I don't really have an answer for that one...I wonder it myself sometimes. Following the rules of psychology, I should be all kinds of screwed up. I by no means had a horrible life, however. I mean, there were many more out in the planet Earth who had it hundreds of times worse than me. I questioned it a few times in my adolescent years, but my mother did a good job of raising myself and my siblings on her own. We always had enough to eat, we always had a roof over our heads, and we never felt unloved. That's a lot more to have than most of the human race."

I simply let out a pained sigh. "Whenever you speak of your home planet, I feel as if you did not appreciate it in the least. Was there anything good about it?"

He simply shifted a bit closer to me and smiled with his eyes closed. "On Earth we have what I've come to notice is a defense mechanism. We always try and focus on the positive. Anyone who thought like I did was considered cold, cynical, and often times depressed and depressing. The problem is that I was not so easily distracted from just how bad the faults of man had made the world I had to live in. Being brought here has simply reinforced that thought, and now that I no longer live within such a world, I can see it fully for what it truly was. I won't lie, there were some things there that were fun to do, but it was only because of the emotion I had come to think true happiness was. Happiness here on Terra is on a completely different level. I often find myself thinking how I could be happy on Earth, but then I realize just how different my way of thinking was back then. I mean, when I first met Luna I thought I had gone insane and she was just a manifestation of my own mind."

I always found myself at awe for how aged he sounded sometimes. My sister had confided in me that she had to often remind herself that she was the elder between the two of them, and now I found myself doing the same. He reminded me of Verox in some ways, namely his kindness and avoidance of my hints of affection towards him. I giggled softly and he looked over at me with confusion.

"Are you laughing at me? Yes I thought I was crazy, so what?" he said with a hint of annoyance.

I waved a hoof at him and smiled. "No Steel, I just thought it was funny that you remind me of Veroxzhar sometimes."

He sat up, genuinely interested. "Oh? And how do I remind you of a past love? This sounds juicy."

I giggled and smirked at him. "Well, Veroxzhar also avoided acknowledging my hints of affection as well."

He suddenly looked a bit uncomfortable. "Oh, well yeah...that. Sorry it's just a little strange to me is all."

I faked looking hurt. "Steel...you're saying I'm strange?"

His eyes widened and I had to restrain the urge to laugh. "What? N-no, I didn't mean that at all. What I meant was...well...I don't actually know what I meant. I just didn't mean it like that."

I shoved him gently and laughed loudly. "Oh Steel, you must learn to be able to tell when I'm joking with you. That was just too easy."

He smiled and chuckled. "Oh har har, nice one."

I slowly lay down next to him, looking up at the early afternoon sky. He was humming a bit, and then I started to hear music. He opened his eyes partway and started to sing.

"Daddy's flown across the ocean
Leaving just a memory
A snapshot in the family album
Daddy, what else did ya leave for me?
Daddy, whatcha leave behind for me?

All in all it was just a brick in the wall
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers, leave them kids alone

Hey, teachers, leave those kids alone

All in all its just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers, leave them kids alone

Hey, teachers, leave those kids alone"

I heard a chorus of children's voices around me as well. My, the power of this spell still amazes me.

"All in all you're just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

I don't need no arms around me
I don't need no drugs to calm me
I have seen the writing on the wall
Don't think I need anything at all

No, don't think I need anything at all

All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
All in all you were all just bricks in the wall"

When he finished, I simply looked over at him with a smile, him facing me and returning a smile as well. 'Come on Celestia...just lean in and do it. You're only a foot away, just do it.' I started to lean in and he turned away from me.

I was taken aback and suddenly was a little sad as I asked, "Steel, is something wrong? I apologize if I was too forward. It's just-"

He shook his head. "It's not that, Celly. There is more than just you and I involved. I'm confident not many that we know would really care, save for Twilight and Luna. However you're a princess and the ruler of this land. I'm not royalty...what do you think the implications of a princess dating a commoner would be? I understand times have changed, but that could still be a problem."

I giggled. "Well that's easily fixable Steel. I could just make you a prince. Being an alicorn and personal friend of two princesses, it's an easy process."

He sighed. "I mean it would be nice to have that problem out of the way and all, but I really don't like ponies bowing to me or anything. I mean you and Luna control the day and night, but what do I control? I wouldn't want to be a royal alicorn for no reason."

I shook my head. "Not all royalty are alicorns, Steel. Shining Armor is part of the royal family by marriage, and as you know Prince Blueblood is my nephew."

He laughed. "Yeah, but Blueblood is a jerkoff...no offense."

I laughed with him heartily. "None taken, Steel. I do agree, Prince Blueblood leave much to be desired. Your friend Rarity can attest to that."

He nodded. "Yeah, Spike told me all about that night. Needless to say he was very upset at how Blueblood treated her."

I tilted my head. "Indeed. Back to the matter at hand though, I must say that you already hold control over something important, though you have not known it. Frostrender is the avatar of ice and winter. He has chosen you as a vessel, Steel. So you see, you already control something important to the world, albeit unconsciously."

He raised an eyebrow. "You're really set on this whole 'princing' thing, aren't you? Very well, I supposed I can be persuaded to do it...although I will be sure and tell all of the ponies to not bow to me. Royalty or not, I still don't really like it...it makes me feel weird after growing up being just a regular guy on Earth."

I just giggled and placed a hoof on his shoulder. "You and Luna are more alike than it seems. She holds the same sentiment towards 'royal treatment'. I will admit it did bother me as well for the first few centuries of rule, but I soon realized that the treatment is not truly for me, it is for my ponies. They do not feel comfortable not treating royalty with special treatment. Perhaps one day you will see that as well."

He laughed. "Unlikely, but I'll keep an open mind. Well Celly it's been a wonderful day, truly, but I did kinda leave without telling anyone where I was going this morning. I bet everyone is worried, so I'll be getting back now."

I nodded and stood up. "Very well, Steel. The paperwork and rituals for inducting you into royalty will take a few days, so await my summons." I stepped forward and embraced him softly with a foreleg. "It was good to see you Steel. I hope to see you more often soon."

He nodded and returned the hug before taking to the skies, his wild white mane whipping in the air.

Perspective change - Luna

I had been pacing in the library for hours, Twilight doing the same. Steel had simply left this morning with no warning to anyone but Darkflight, but even he did not know where Steel had gone. I had tried to make contact with both Steel and Tia trying to find where he was, but I received no answer. Hours ago my mind had begun to dwell on great fears of what might have happened and I had panicked. I had finally calmed down with the help of my friends, but Steel was still nowhere to be found. Both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy had been gone for an hour now, scanning the skies for him while Moonfang and Darkflight searched through the Everfree forest. Pinkie Pie was standing outside the door waiting for any word from the group searching while Twilight and I waited as patiently as possible.

I heard Pinkie Pie gasp from outside and shout, "Twitchy tail!"

I watched as Spike and Twilight duck and I just stared at them, confused.

"Why are you both cowering so? What is wro-" I was cut off by a crash of the window above the door breaking, and a thud as something heavy hit the ground. I looked around the room to find a bloodied Steel lying in a pile of glass.

He stood up and shook his mane and tail out. "Ugh...sorry about that. Updraft caught me off guard."

After my momentary shock wore off, I glared at him and shouted in a magically-amplified voice, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"

He winced and brought his hooves to his ears. "Geez Luna, can't you ever just yell like a normal pony?"

I glared at him even harder, but lowered my voice. "Answer my question, Steel. We have all been very worried about you. You left without telling anypony where you were going, and when I tried to contact your mind, you did not respond."

He scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Yeah...sorry about that. What started out as needing fresh air became a very lengthy talk with your sister about many things."

Twilight then strode up to him and punched him in the chest. "You could have left a note or something! We all thought something really bad happened, you idiot! Rainbow Dash is going to kill you!"

He rubbed his chest. "Watch it, Twi, I think you hit a piece of glass. Look, I'm sorry I just left. I just had something on my mind this morning that I needed to think alone about."

She looked confused and angry. "What could be so important that you just left without telling anyone?"

He just shook his head. "I'd rather not talk about it, actually. It's depressing."

She just became more angry. "If you won't tell me, I'll make you."

He suddenly took a stance of defiance. "Oh really? I'd like to see you try." She let loose a spell and levitated him upside down, a scowl on her face. Steel just facehooved. "I forgot that you're more powerful than me now. Alright fine, if you really want to know, I was getting depressed about my immortality."

I stepped forward and stood right in front of him. "What depresses you about immortality?"

He just looked away, a little sad. "The fact that I'll have to watch most of you grow old and die, while I just keep living."

Twilight suddenly dropped him and her face changed to one of sadness. "Steel..."

He rubbed his head and stood up. "Like I said, it's depressing."

Suddenly the door opened up to reveal a very tired looking cyan pegasus. Her head immediately shot up when she saw Steel, and a look of anger creased the lines of her face.

She flew at him full speed and slammed him into the staircase. "Where have you been? We've been looking all day for you!"

He choked out a response. "Dashie, I'm sorry. Glass...in the skin...you're jamming it in. Please get off!"

She jumped off him in surprise. "Oh, I'm sorry Steel! Fluttershy, get the first aid kit!"

He waved them off with a hoof. "I'll be fine, Dash. Just get me bowl please."

She nodded and rushed to the kitchen, returning with a small bowl. Steel then began the painstaking process of carefully removing a dozen or so shards of glass and dropping the bloody pieces in a bowl. Twilight left the room retching, and I felt a little sick as well, to be honest.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I grit my teeth with a closed mouth so as to try and mask the amount of pain I was in, especially with Twilight reacting the way she was...again. Thankfully Fluttershy and Dash didn't seem to be affected by it, likely because Fluttershy was a veterinarian and Dash was always getting hurt. After removing the last shard of glass from my leg, I stood up and dumped all the glass shards in the waste bin.

I looked over at Luna with a pleading look. "Luna, could you clean up the glass on the floor please? I really need to take a shower and get this blood off my coat. I'd really appreciate it."

She nodded and levitated a brush and dustpan and began sweeping up the broken glass on the floor. I headed upstairs to the shower on the second floor and just sat under the water for the longest time, the perverted part of my mind frantically trying to replay what I saw in this very shower that morning. 'No, stop it! Not now!' That's when I heard the door open and watched through the blurred shower door to see a light blue blob of color coming towards me. As it got closer, I noticed a mane of many colors. 'Fate...thou art a sick sadistic mistress indeed...' I stood up off the shower floor and blocked the door as it opened to show a very concerned mare. I could see as the water ran over my coat, a trail of bloodied water heading towards the two drains.

"Umm Dashie? It's kinda bloody in here...It's not a good idea for you to be in here with me right now." I stated firmly.

She just giggled and started to move forward. "Steel, I've been in some bad accidents. Blood doesn't scare me."

I focused my magic, creating a barrier that stopped her. I shook my head and said, "Blood by itself isn't all that scary, that's true...however what's in it can be more dangerous. You have to remember, I'm from a different world. The antibodies in my blood might be extremely dangerous to you if they somehow get in your bloodstream."

She just looked at me with a confused gaze. "Antibodies? What are you talking about?"

I just sighed and smiled. "Dash, I know you're worried about me, but my blood could be dangerous to you...it could kill you. Please just wait in the main room for me and I'll be down after I get done cleaning up. Actually, get a bag of some sort that I can put the towel in after I'm done with it. If you'd do that for me, I'd love you forever."

She giggled. "You love me anyway, but fine I'll do it. Don't take too long."

I stepped out of the shower after a few minutes and went about toweling myself off. Once I felt I was sufficiently dry, I dropped the ruined towel in the bag Dash had left me and tied it up, putting it to one corner of the room. I looked underneath the sink to find bleach and a scrub brush and went about cleaning out the shower, so as to protect the others in the household. After I was done, I put everything away and grabbed the bag, heading downstairs. I saw everyone was now sitting in the main room talking, and they all looked at me. I looked up at the window and was pleased to see that somepony had put a tarp over the broken window until we could get it fixed. With that out of the way, I simply walked out of the back door and built a little fire pit. I set the bag in the middle of it and set it on fire. Confident that it would burn all the way through, I went back inside.

Fluttershy was waiting with a first aid kit to bandage my wounds, which after explaining the safety issue of my blood, she got to bandaging.

A few minutes later I was sitting on the floor looking like I was half-mummy while I explained everything that had happened that day. I decided at least for now it was best to leave Celestia's feelings out, choosing to instead save that for sometime tomorrow. Lyra had walked in during the middle of the conversation, so I reluctantly started over after she was done yelling at me. Thankfully after everyone was briefed on the situation, Spike made dinner...which was good because I was starving.

As we sat down for dinner, Mason and Moonfang walked in the door. I stood up and walked up to them both, sighing. "If you guys are going to hit me for worrying you, please just get it over with. I'm hungry." My brother, as expected, took the invitation and landed a strong punch to my shoulder. 'Bastard just had to hit the one that is already bruised...' Moonfang just looked at me and chuckled. We all sat down at the reading table and enjoyed another great meal prepared by Spike...man, that guy can cook.

We finished the lovely dinner of roasted carrots and leeks with baked potatoes and a gravy made from some kind of root. 'Ugh...I need to stop eating like this all the time or I'm going to be a fat pony.' We cleaned up the room quickly and all went our separate ways. Lyra had things to do tonight with Vinyl and Bon Bon, so she said goodbye to all of us and left. Dash unfortunately also had some sort of weather meeting early tomorrow morning in Cloudsdale, so she left as well. This just left Twilight, Luna, and Pinkie downstairs enjoying some pineapple and coconut smoothies I had made, with some help from Spike. 'Mmm...Smoothie King ain't got nothin' on this.' Luna quickly raised the moon, and we talked about the whole me becoming a prince thing. Needless to say Twilight was ecstatic.

"A prince! Ooh...all the fillies from school would be so jealous if they saw me now..." she said with a smirk.

I just laughed and winked at her. "Well Twi, glad I can be your revenge against your school years. What about you, Luna? What do you think?"

The lunar goddess simply smiled at me. "Well Steel, I love the idea. I always thought of you as a sort of prince, this will just make it official. Pinkie? What are your thoughts?"

The cute pink mare took a sip of her sweet drink and smiled. "I love it! Steelie's gonna be a prince? That's sooo cool! I can't wait to tell Gummy!"

We just smiled and nodded, unsure of what to say. I swear sometimes that little mare is so hard to figure out. She always has a way to make us laugh though, so we love her all the same. After finishing our drinks and having a few laughs, Pinkie left as well, saying she had a party to plan for a pony in town. We all gave her heartfelt hugs and said goodbye, the room being much quieter with her gone.

By now it was well after 20:00, so we headed upstairs to clean up and such. Having already taken a shower, I just brushed my teeth and went up to the bedroom, then stood out on the small balcony, admiring the stars. After over a week of rest, I felt strong enough to cast my aurora spell, so I cast it the same way I did last time and released it into the air, letting it go much higher than I did last time. I allowed it to explode high in the sky, high enough for anypony within one hundred miles to see it. After finishing the spell, I felt myself feel a little weakened, but I was glad I could notice myself slowly getting better with magic. Since my magic power had been radically reduced, I had noticed that my eyes at first were back to normal, but with the practice I'd been doing, they were slowly recovering the soft golden glow I was now used to.

Hoofsteps behind me confirmed the girls had finished cleaning up, the scent of that lavender shampoo Luna loves so much caressing my nostrils. Both mares looked into the sky from behind me, and I felt them both lean up against me.

Luna sighed and smiled against my mane. "You should do this every winter night, Steel. In addition to furthering your attunement with your magic, I am sure everypony up at this time of night enjoys it. As a matter of fact, we should make it an event! The winter solstice is coming up, and this would be just the thing to introduce the new Winter Prince. I will ask Pinkie Pie to arrange flyers for the town! Oh this will be wonderful."

I just laughed and turned my head, kissing her on the cheek. "You're rather excited about this, Luna."

She nodded her head. "Oh yes. Equestria has not had an elemental avatar grace its presence for over six-thousand years. The last pony to meet one was our father. This is a time for celebration!"

I focused on Frostrender within me. “You hear that? Celestia wants to make us a prince of winter, with you being the avatar of ice and winter. What do you think about all of this?”

Well Steelbreaker, the last time I was on this plane of existence was over nine thousand years ago, shortly after the first ponies capable of rational thought were created by the gods. I have never been a prince before, but so long as I am allowed to continue doing what I have always done, I see no harm in it.”

I don't see how being a prince would prevent one from doing their duty and fulfilling their passion. By the way, I am sure you saw me creating the magical aurora. I hope you don't mind.”

Not at all, Steelbreaker. The aurora is associated with the wintery polar areas of Earth, is it not? So it would make sense to give such a thing to the winter. I enjoy it and it is beautiful, thank you.”

All right then Frostrender. I'm glad you're okay with all this. I don't see any foreseeable problems, but I will make sure that your power and place in winter is preserved.”

I then turned to Luna and Twilight. "Frostrender seems happy with my aurora I've been making, and he's okay with the whole 'princing' thing as well. I don't know if it matters, but being a prince isn't going to restrict any of his powers over winter, does it?"

Luna shook her head. "As long as he does not attempt to bring about an eternal winter or something of the sort, I foresee no problems."

I nodded and leaned against her, cradling Twilight with my opposite wing. After a few more minutes of standing in the cold night air, we all stepped inside and lay on the bed. Twilight had recently taken to sleeping in between Luna and I, almost as a child would with her parents. It was a little weird for me at first, considering our relationship with her was definitely not as parents, but I soon got over the notion because of how cute she was and how the bond she shared with Luna was likely to be stronger than her bond with me. I thought it would bother me at first, but then I remembered that she knew Luna before I ever came along, and they both shared so much in common. I'd be lying if I said a pang of jealousy didn't hit me every now and then, but I made sure to force my rational thought into mind to keep me from turning into some kind of jealous ass.

As we lay there, I felt a song came to mind...one my mother used to sing to me as a lullaby. I found myself humming the song, and as I heard a familiar piano riff start, I began to sing softly.

"When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"

I could hear the instruments playing as they normally did...but this time, I could hear familiar voices singing the "oohs". I looked over see Twilight and Luna with eyes closed, singing with me.


"And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Yeah there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"

With the guitar solo break, I looked back over to see Twilight and Luna with eyes still closed, nodding their heads to the music. 'Well good, they like classic rock. There's a lot more I can show them then.'

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me
There will be no sorrow, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be no sorrow, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be"

As the song ended, they both opened their eyes in confusion. Luna looked over at me first and asked, "What just happened? I...I knew that song. I know I should not, but I did."

Twilight nodded in agreement. "Me too. Was that a song from your world?"

I smiled. "Yep, that's a song by a group called The Beatles...and no Twilight, they weren't actual insects. They were humans just like me, but they had a great talent for music and showmanship. They were and are quite possibly one of the most popular groups of all time in my world. I have to be honest, I'm not sure how I transferred the knowledge of this song to the two of you, but I'm not complaining. Luna, you have quite the lovely singing voice, as do you Twilight."

They both blushed and hugged me. 'I guess it's true, good music really is universal. Heh...across the universe. I made a funny.'

I hugged both of them back and lay back on the firm pillow. I levitated my mp3 player off of the dresser across the room and turned on my "Chill" playlist and hooked it up to the small speaker on the nightstand beside me, thanks to the auxiliary cable Vinyl gave me. Soft music filled the air as we lay and talked the night away. I wasn't really listening what Twilight and Luna were talking about, but somehow the talking evolved into a cuddle-war between the two, while I just placed my forelegs behind my head and closed my eyes, losing myself to the music. I for some reason thought at that moment to check my player's battery meter, only to find it was showing the thing was charging. 'Must be the ambient magic in the air. Magic is a form of energy, after all.' Satisfied I would have my music for however long the life of the player was, I settled back into my pillow, closing my eyes again. I heard giggling from beside me and felt two pairs of lips contact my lips and neck, respectively. I opened my eyes to find Twilight's face in front of mine, so I kissed her back with fervor. She moaned softly and broke the kiss, staring at me.

She smiled and lay down on me, nuzzling into my chest. "Steel, I'm sorry if you've been feeling a little left out lately."

I raised a hoof from behind my head and softly stroked her back. "Left out how? I don't feel left out of anything."

Luna giggled and pressed against my side, stroking my mane softly. "Rainbow Dash explained to us what you unwittingly discovered this morning."

My eyes shot open nervously and I blushed a deep crimson. 'Damn it, why couldn't I have red fur?'

Luna giggled at me again. "Yes, Lyra and Rainbow Dash were worried that was the reason you left."

I laughed and shook my head. "No Luna, that most definitely was not the reason. It's just that two mares enjoying a personal moment was not something I was at all prepared to see this morning. I was expecting to brush my teeth and take a quick shower. Instead I see Dash on top of Lyra attacking her like a wild animal. Whether I'm intimate with the both of them or not, I consider it rude for me to watch such a thing without being invited to. Rude and embarrassing. I assure you though, it's just one of my quirks, I don't hold it against either of them."

Twilight nodded against my chest. "That's good, Steel. They were worried it was their fault. You should have heard the shouting war they had."

I laughed again harder. "I'll have to explain it to them tomorrow so they can make up."

Luna leaned in close to my ear. "Still Steel, it's been awhile and I've missed you...we both have."

I looked over at her with confusion. "What do you mean you've missed me? It's not like work keeps me all that busy. I'm here most of the time, so how can you miss me? Oh wait...oh I get it."

She playfully nipped at my ear. "A bit slow tonight, are we?"

I pouted and Twilight just laughed at me. "Sorry Steel, you're not cute enough to pull off the pouty face."

I shrugged my shoulders. "Well it was worth a try. At least I have these rugged good looks."

Luna smirked. "I apologize Steel, but you are not very 'rugged' either. If rugged is the word we are using, that describes Darkflight more than it does you."

I just sighed. "Well damn, way to kill all traces of my male ego. Do you want my balls in a mason jar too? I think there's one around here somewhere..."

Twilight laughed at me and then nuzzled into my chest. "I have other words for you. How about handsome?"

Luna nodded. "Or regal?"

Twilight blushed a bit. "Or sexy?"

I blushed and chuckled nervously. "Well 'sexy' is not a word I'd use to describe myself, but who am I to argue? I can roll with sexy. And regal? You know heaping all this praise on me is going to give me a big head."

Twilight laughed hard and quipped, "You already have a big head."

I just stared at her. "It houses my infinitely sexy brain, thank you very much."

A moment of silence followed before both of them burst out laughing. I just rolled my eyes, pushing them both off of me. "You're lucky I have a very dry sense of humor. Any other pony might have had his feelings hurt."

Luna was struggling to catch her breath. "Come now, Steel...do not be this way. We were only having a bit of fun."

I suddenly placed a mischievous smirk on my face. "Oh...I think I have a different bit of fun I'd like to participate in at the moment." I said as I ran my hoof along Luna's cutie mark, causing her to let out a little squeak.

She responded by doing the same to me. It felt like someone just shot lightning through my body...but in a good way (yes, there is a good way). I growled and rolled her over on her back, me looming above her. She blushed a deep purple against her coat, and I leaned down and began to kiss down her chest...

About half an hour later, I fell against the bed out of breath. Luna had her eyes closed and was still moaning softly to my side, while Twilight proceeded to fall out of the air on top of me, equally out of breath.

Luna just looked at me and smiled. "I am suddenly hoping you advance your magic power even faster."

I regained my breath and smiled back. "Yeah...me too. I kinda wish I had fingers again sometimes, but I guess magic makes up for it. How you doin' there, Twi?"

The lavender unicorn looked up at me and smiled weakly. "I’d have been better if you didn’t drop me, but I'll be fine, Steel. I'm just tired is all. I'm thinking it's about time to go to sleep."

Luna nodded, as did I. I lay down Twilight between us, and she threw her hoof around me tightly. Luna proceeded to press herself against Twilight's back, eliciting a small moan from the unicorn and a smile. The night princess then stretched a wing across the both of us before leaning close to plant a goodnight kiss on my lips. I smiled and returned it before turning my gaze towards the ceiling.

Only about twenty minutes had passed, but I could hear a duet of soft breathing beside me. Once again I found myself laying awake with nothing but my thoughts as company. My mind was drifting between my talk with Celestia, as well as what I was going to do for Luna's birthday, which was fast approaching in a few weeks. I had come to find that lately things have been going pretty smoothly around here. I tried not to think about it, but I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that this calm was only temporary. Maybe that's what has been keeping me awake at night. I brushed the thought off once again and closed my eyes, eventually slipping into what would be an interesting dream.

Author's Notes:

Songs mentioned: "Another Brick in the Wall" parts 1, 2, and 3 by Pink Floyd on the album The Wall. "Let it Be" by The Beatles on the album Let it Be.

Call of the Elements

Chapter 16: The Call of the Elements

Perspective change - Rainbow Dash

Boring...boring...boring...boring. That's all it was. This “meeting” that I had to be in Cloudsdale for so early in the morning ended up basically being a training course for rookies. That meant that I had to spend the next six hours training a bunch of clumsy, unfocused, foalish, pegusi. My patience was quickly wearing thin for most of them, as half of them kept trying to flirt with me, while the other half kept wanting autographs. 'What the hay, I'm not even a Wonderbolt yet!'

Surprisingly the only pony not acting out of line was Scootaloo, who was now strong enough and old enough for the training program. I first met the little filly in the "Big Sister" program that I took during flight school. She got on my nerves at first, but over a few weeks she started to grow on me. She always loved to hear about my stories and watch my tricks, and practically worshiped the air I flew through. After she got over being starstruck, I couldn't help but get closer to her.

After two years, I considered her family. Blood couldn't make us closer.

I stood at the entrance to the training ring, awaiting the arrival of my charges for the day, only to see Scootaloo trot out in excitement, no doubt because she’d heard who would be training her.

The little filly immediately recognized me and let loose a smile as bright as Celestia's sun.

"Rainbow Dash!" she screamed as she flew towards me. Yes...she flew. Words can't describe how proud of her I was.

I caught her in the air and hugged her tight. She was one of the few ponies I actually felt comfortable displaying affection with. Hey, a mare has to keep up her reputation, right?

"Hiya kiddo! Wow, you got big!" I chuckled out.

She giggled and hugged me back, her mane tickling my nose. It had been almost a month since I last saw her, and I began to notice just how much can change in such a short time for a filly her age. She was already almost double her size this same time last year, and the fact she could fly now showed just how much had happened. She released me and stared at me with those big violet eyes.

'Argh! Cute overload!'

I couldn't help but be lazy, so I just put the rest of the recruits through rotating training drills while I caught up with Scoots. She was eight years old now and just as lively as ever. While talking to her, I began to realize exactly why I found it so easy to bond with her. When it came right down to it, we were a lot alike.

Because both of us grew up without parents, we both acted nearly the same way about certain things. Through some therapy that Shy practically forced me to take (hey, you don't know her...she can be very persuasive), I had gotten over a lot of my issues. Scoots reminded me of how I used to be: guarded. She put up the same tough-pony front that I used to, afraid to let anypony in. Besides her friends Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, I was probably the only other pony to actually know the real her. I'm also the only pony she's ever cried in front of. It tore me up to know how much she held inside, but I let it go when I realized I was the same way at one time. She'll be okay, she'll just need help. It used to scare me a little just how close I had allowed myself to get to her, but it also felt good.

I remember the day I had confided in AJ about it, and for some reason I just broke down and cried. I made her swear never to tell anypony, but after that I realized that it was okay. I loved the little squirt like a sister, and I know she felt similar about me. Shortly after telling AJ about it, I remember telling ‘Shy about it too and she just smiled and hugged me...and I cried again.

'Darn that mare...she always brings out the worst in me...or the best depending on how you look at it.'

I had accidentally fallen asleep next to Scoots while off in my own little world, and I woke up to her shaking me with a worried expression. "Rainbow Dash, wake up! We're supposed to be training! I'm gonna get in trouble!"

I just laughed and nodded as I shook the sleepiness from my mind. "Alright squirt, you're right. I want fifty wing-ups. Go!"

At my order, she dropped to the ground and started the pegasus-modified workout. I remember catching flak one time for working her so hard, but the trainer was surprised when she did everything I said successfully and without question. I then yelled at the colt for not trusting me and for doubting her...while Scootaloo just giggled.

After about five minutes of this, I could tell she was struggling a bit...but I knew for a fact that she had more in her. With this being the case,I lowered myself to eye level and said, "C'mon Scoots, you got just five more!"

She shook her head, tears in her eyes. "I can't do it!"

I snorted in mock annoyance. "Can't? CANT?! What did I say about that word? When you're training, you aren't allowed to even say 'can't'!"

She closed her eyes and I could see her face turning red. "B-but..."

I cut her off. "No Scoots, you can do this! I know you can! Come on, just four more and you got it! I believe in you, so believe in yourself!"

I couldn't help but let loose a small smile when I saw a spark of determination suddenly wash over her face. She grit her teeth and powered through. She still considered me a hero somewhat, so I knew that voicing my belief in her would give her the confidence she needed. She finished the last one, nearly collapsing before catching herself with her forelegs.

She looked up at me and I pointed at the track going around the outside of the training grounds. "Alright Scoots, you're going to flap your wings to make you run faster. I want you to keep up with me. Readyset...Go!" and with that I took off, the young pegasus following closely.

We had made twelve laps around the track before I noticed that all of the other trainees under my watch were sitting there staring at us. I motioned for them to join us and they all flew over to the track and followed suit. I continued around the track until all but Scoots had collapsed with exhaustion. I could tell she wanted to, but she wouldn't let herself in front of me.

I stopped her and made her sit down, giving her a water bottle. "You did great Scoots. I'm proud of you."

She looked up at me with a tired, but radiant smile. She took a couple swigs of water and lay down on the bench, nearly instantly falling asleep.

I spent the rest of my day teaching all the ponies about flight technique, safety, and all that kind of stuff. To put it simply, boring with a side of boring sprinkled with boring sprinkles flavored with...more boring. I almost lost half of the group as they fell asleep, but luckily the coach came and told us the training day was over for now. 'Thank Celestia...' With the day ended for us, I flew back to Ponyville with a certain orange filly in tow.

We arrived back in town with the sun high in the sky. It must've been only about noon so I decided to treat myself and my companion to some lunch at Sugarcube Corner.

Perspective change - Pinkie Pie

"Order 112 up!" I yelled from the counter, ringing a bell. A bright blue stallion grabbed the bag at the counter and smiled before leaving. "Thanks a lot, mister! Enjoy!" He smiled and nodded before walking around the line of ponies and out the door.

Winter was always a busy time for us at Sugarcube Corner, but I didn't mind. It just meant more profit for the Cakes and more fun for me! Something about the winter season made ponies want to get some warm baked treats. There wasn't a pony in town that could resist my cupcakes, and we always made a killing.

I was all smiles around my surrogate family nowadays. I was afraid of how they would judge me after revealing my true feelings to them like I did to Steel, but they were instead very understanding. I shouldn't have worried...Steel had been right. After letting on how I really felt sometimes, even Mr and Mrs Cake seemed to get closer to me, and I to them. This was a big relief to me, and I was happier than I'd ever been. Truly happy...not just faking.

After the morning rush, things calmed down a bit around lunch time, with our regulars trickling in here and there. Seeing as how we had some down-time, I grabbed a brush and dustpan in my teeth and started sweeping up the kitchen, getting the flour and bits of sprinkles and frosting off of the floor to prepare for the rush that would no doubt come right before dinner time.

"Pinkie, Rainbow Dash is here to see you!" said Mrs Cake from the front.

I left the dustpan on the counter and took off my apron, hanging it on the wall before bouncing out the door to the kitchen, in what my friends referred to as "true Pinkie Pie style". I turned the corner to see Dashie and her friend Scootaloo at the counter.

I smiled and tackled Dashie to the ground with a big hug, much to Scootaloo's amusement. "Oh Dashie, I'm so happy to see you! It's been...almost a whole day! *GASP* You didn't eat breakfast did you?"
As I stepped off of my friend, she shook her head and smiled. "Nah, Scootaloo and I have been training all morning. What's fresh Pinkie?"

I sped off to the kitchen, quickly grabbing a tray of cupcakes that just finished baking. Quick as lightning, I slapped rainbow frosting on all but two of them with blue sprinkles on. The last two were different, so I quickly put on orange frosting and purple sprinkles. I placed them on a cool tray and sped back out to meet Dashie with the fresh food. She had a look of shock that always made me giggle.

'That never gets old.'

Dashie closed her mouth and smirked. "I'll never figure out how you do that Pinkie."

I placed a hoof on my chin in mock thought. "Nope, probably not." I looked over at Scootaloo and pointed to the two 'special' ones I made. "Those are for you, Scootaloo. Buttercream frosting with a pudding center, just the way you like it."

The little filly's eyes lit up and she smiled. "Ah, so cool! Thanks Pinkie!" She then took a big bite and her eyes rolled back in her head and she let out a very...racy sounding moan. 'This filly's going to be trouble when she starts dating...I can just tell already.'

Dashie nearly spit out her cupcake and blushed. "Wow Scoots...I don't know if they're that good.” Scootaloo then offered a bite of the cupcake to her, which she took...and she had much the same reaction. When she gathered her composure she smiled sheepishly. "I stand corrected...they are that good."

I stared at them with mock shock. "Of course they are! You were expecting them to be bad? *GASP* Well fine then...no special present for you later, Dashie."

Dashie gasped as well and responded, "But that's not fair, I was just kidding, Pinkie! Wait...what special present?"

"Why, the present I couldn't give you because we all had to leave last night." I was trying to hint in a way that the filly standing with us wouldn't know what I was talking about. Dashie still looked confused. I grew a mischievous grin and drew up right next to her ear, whispering very softly. "Well Dashie, it involves you, me, Steelie, and some whipped cream."

I giggled when her face turned bright pink and I could see her struggling to keep her wings from popping up in excitement. The little orange pegasus just stared at us both with a thankfully very confused face.

We all finished up lunch and I cleaned up the bakery one last time before Mr Cake told me I could leave with my friends, so I gave him and Mrs Cake a hug and bounced out the door with Dashie and Scootaloo.

We walked Scootaloo to the Ponyville orphanage where Dashie hugged her and said goodbye. We then walked towards the library which was on the other side of town, finally giving Dashie and I a chance to talk alone.

She bumped up against my flank and smirked. "So what was all that at the bakery? I liked it, but it was just surprising. I guess I'm just wondering where that came from."

I looked down in embarrassment. "Well Dashie, I kinda used to have a big crush on you."

She looked at me not with shock or disgust, but with amusement. This made me feel more confident. "Oh really? Wait...what do you mean used to?"

I giggled. "Well I guess I got over it is all. I mean let's face it Dashie, you weren't the most approachable mare."

She rubbed the back of her head, a little ashamed. "Yeah, I was kind of a foal sometimes. Sorry. That still doesn't answer the question why you didn't tell me, though. Why didn't you?"

I just stared at her. "Really Dash? That's kind of the idea of having a crush...not telling the pony you like them. That and the fact that we weren't exactly the closest of friends until about a month before Steel came here. I mean, you're way closer with Fluttershy than you and I have ever been. In fact, I'm surprised you didn't end up with her."

She blushed and waved a hoof off dismissively. "No Pinkie, it's not like that. I mean I love ‘Shy to death, but she's not my type. That and the fact I don't think she likes mares that way. As far as you and I not being the best of friends, that's kinda my fault." she finished with a frown, looking at the ground.

I hugged her. "Dashie I already told you it was my fault. You weren't the pony hiding how she felt, I was. You were as good a friend as you could have been."

She pulled away and smiled. "Well I'm glad one of us forgives me. Well if I can ask, what do you think about Steel?"

I had to think on this one. Steel was the only pony who seemed to notice I was faking smiles at that picnic so long ago. Those piercing eyes of his seemed to stare right into my soul. I remember at first I thought of him as an older brother. He was just so safe...

"Well Dashie, I mean, I really like him a lot. You all saw how I acted at the hospital. I certainly didn't do that just because he was nice to me." I responded thoughtfully.

She stopped and sat on her haunches outside the library. "Yeah, I know what you mean Pinks. I mean Gilda kinda killed relationships for me." She visibly shuddered when she said the name before gaining a far-away look on her face. "When I met Steel though, it was different. I mean granted I was drunk when he first kissed me, but there was something...else. As much as it bothers me sometimes, he can read me like a book. He cares how I feel though, and that's more than most of the colts and stallions around here. It's stupid how many times I get offers for a roll in the hay, sometimes from ponies I've never even met before."

I giggled and blushed. "Well Dashie, you're really pretty. I know you don't think you are, but I think you are."

She just blushed and nudged me softly with a smile. "Well thanks Pinks. I don't know though, it's like Steel doesn't really even care about that...like he doesn’t really care how we look, but in a good way. I don’t know, I'll have to ask him about it later."

We both finally opened the doors and walked inside the library, a warm fire burning while Twilight and Spike were studying. Wow...Spikey had gotten big. I walked over to the both of them and waved with a smile. They both acknowledged Dashie and I with a nod and a smile before getting back to whatever they were doing. I dropped a box of the cupcakes I had carried on the table, and Spike’s eyes lit up and he smiled.

"Ah cool! Thanks Pinkie, I love your cupcakes." he said.

I just nodded and headed upstairs to wait for Steel to get back.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

"Ugh...you two need to be faster. Again!" I said to the two guard recruits laying in front of me. They quickly got to their hooves and got into a ready position. "Alright, now pay attention. Watch my shoulders, thighs, and wingtips. Do it correctly, and you'll be able to get out of the way before I can hit you. I'm going full force this time, so you better keep on your toes...er, hooves....whatever, you know what I mean." I stood up on my hind legs, now towering over both of them. I smiled evilly, both of them faltering and taking a step back.

Big mistake...'

I flared my wings and bolted towards them. The colt took my elbow to the side of his head and nearly instantly crumpled on the ground, out cold. The mare looked at me with fear in her eyes and tried to fly away, but I jumped and got a hold of her back hooves, slamming her to the dirt. I scrambled on top of her and wrapped my foreleg around her neck, squeezing.

She started to struggle, so I leaned down to her ear and whispered, "Don't panic...there's always a way out." Even with my words of encouragement, I still applied pressure on her throat.

Before she could pass out, she planted her front hooves and slammed the back of her head into my nose. I saw stars for a second before regaining focus, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. The young mare started to walk away triumphantly, her peers cheering for her.

I grinned and rushed her from behind, quickly flipping her on her back and forcing my sharpened horn against her throat, drawing a small trickle of blood. Her breathing rate increased and she started to whimper, after a few seconds of which I then backed off and stood up, looking at her.

"Your job in a battle is to disable or capture the enemy. Never turn your back on an enemy that can still fight." I said while pointing at her comrade, who was still unconscious.

I looked over to Shining Armor and he nodded. "Hey Steel, think I can get in on this?"

I nodded back. "Sure Shining. Show these recruits how it's done. You wanna go half or full?"

He smirked. "I think I'll be fine going full force. Ready?"

I nodded. I stood on four hooves this time, knowing this opponent would use two-point stance to my disadvantage. Shining Armor's horn began to glow and then he just disappeared. I knew this illusionary spell...he was very fond of it, and used it our last bout to kick my ass. This time I was ready though. I focused on Frostrender's power and charged the spell in my horn, then let the aura move to my front hooves. I reared up and slammed them both into the hard stone floor, causing the ground around me to freeze solid.

Clearly not expecting this, Shining Armor lost his concentration and reappeared behind me, now frozen to the ground. He grinned and cast his powerful barrier spell, instantly breaking the ice around him and freeing him.

I nodded with a smirk. "Nicely done Shining, but I do hope you didn't think that's the only trick I had up my sleeve." I casually strode up to him still smiling, and placed my horn against his barrier. I focused on the new spell I had recently mastered and proceeded to drain the magic out of the barrier. The spell faltered and dropped.

He just smiled. "Alright then, looks like you've got me beat in magic...but how's your physical attacks?" He then rushed at me, horn down.

I jumped out of the way and was preparing to make a smug remark only to be stopped by a strong kick to my jaw. I stumbled back and felt myself get tackled to the ground, hooves raining strikes on my face. I felt my consciousness waver for a moment before I gathered my senses, curling my back legs up and around his neck, slamming him to the ground near my hind legs. I kept the pressure on his neck and grabbed his rear leg with my hooves, roughly yanking the limb with a loud *POP*, forcing it out of the socket.

He let out a sharp hiss of pain only to slam his free forelegs against my ankles. There was a loud snapping sound and a horrendous amount of pain that actually brought tears to my eyes.

Shining Armor jumped up with a limp and a strained face before twisting his leg with another *POP*, forcing the joint back into place, but before I could get up he rushed me again. I tried to use my freeze spell again, but he jumped over it. He was in the air, clearly planning to slam his hooves into my face, so I stretched out my wings and flapped as hard as I could, blasting him into the air. He quickly caught himself and teleported right in front of me as I was standing up. Before I could react he planted a buck right in my chest, knocking the wind out of me. I scrambled to get up and cast a new improvised spell at him. He couldn't get out of the way fast enough and was hit.

The spell appeared to have no effect and he smiled confidently. "Game over Steel." He charged up a spell in his horn and I smiled knowingly. He attempted to let go what I assumed was to be a knockout spell, because he instantly fell down, unconscious.

I let out a sigh of relief and cast a healing spell Luna had taught me, fixing my damaged ankle, though it didn’t relieve the pain.

I limped to the recruits who had watched the fight and nodded. "Remember, your enemy is not going to let up until they defeat you, and more than likely, he or she is not going to play fair. In my training, you're not going to learn how to fight fair, you're going to learn how to win by any means necessary. This means get sneaky, get devious, take cheap shots, use the environment to your advantage. If war should ever come to Equestria again, you will be putting your life on the line. If you don't win, you die." They all nodded slowly before looking at the fallen captain. I walked over to him and nudged him a bit, waking him up.

"Huh? Wh-what happened? Wait...what the buck happened? That spell should've taken you out." he said with frustration as he came to.

I just chuckled and extended a hoof, pulling him up. "Yeah, I cast a new spell I thought of on you. Basically it's a magical feedback spell. It takes the next spell you cast, and turns it against you. Easy to dispel, but if you don't know what it is, it can spell trouble for you. Haha...spell...see what I did there?"

He just smiled and turned to the recruits as well. "Let that be a lesson to you all. It doesn't matter if your enemy is stronger or faster than you, there's always a way to win. Your mind is the most formidable force you have in a fight. Train it...use it."

I nodded and smiled as well. "Alright recruits, dismissed!" The group started to disperse, leaving just the mare and colt I had fought earlier. I noticed the mare was still bleeding slightly, so I went over to my saddlebags and grabbed some gauze and rubbing alcohol, passing it to her. "Clean yourself up, private." She nodded and took off her helmet, beginning to rub the alcohol on her neck. I now got a good look at her. She was a gray pegasus with blonde hair and golden eyes.

'Wait a minute...I know who this is.'

I stepped forward and motioned to her. "What's your name, private?"

She stood up straight and saluted me. "The name is Ditzy Doo, sir."

I raised an eyebrow. "The mailmare?"

She shook her head. "No sir, that's my twin sister. Her name's Derpy, sir."

'Hmm...so they really are two different ponies...' "Ah, well I apologize if I offended, private Doo." I said apologetically.

She smiled and relaxed a bit. "Not at all sir, we are twins after all. Only differences are our cutie marks and our eyes. Hers are a little...off." She instantly became defensive and glared at me. "You're not going to make fun of my sister now, are you?"

I smiled and shook my head. "Not at all, private. I'm stern as a drill sergeant, but I am far from mean-spirited. I have my own things to be self-conscious about." I turned to Shining Armor, who was still standing next to the young colt, who was starting to come to. "Hey Captain, keep an eye on the recruit if you could. Same time next week?"

He nodded. "Yep. I'll see you here Steel. You better bring some new tricks...I'll be ready for a rematch."

I chuckled and nodded. "Alright then, I'll be ready."

The young recruit and I made our way to the royal gardens at my suggestion, a place she said she’d never been before. Luckily, she didn’t seem too nervous about it, and just continued acting as normal.

Ditzy removed the rest of her armor and sat down on the soft grass. "So sarge, you said you have some things you're self conscious about. Care to share?"

I chuckled. "Ditzy we're not training anymore. Just call me Steelbreaker or Steel when we're being casual. As far as the things I spoke of, they're kind of personal. I hope you don't take offense, but I wouldn't be comfortable telling you until I got to know you better and trusted you."

She nodded with a smile. "Okay fair enough, Steelbreaker. So where are you from?"

"Far away, that's all I can safely say, Ditzy." I stated with a straight face.

She smirked. "Ooh, mysterious. I'm getting more and more interested. So what can you tell me?"

I placed a hoof to my chin in thought. "Well, I can tell you I live at the library in Ponyville. I have a brother, a sister, and my mother. I'm friends with Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, Big Macintosh, Lyra, Vinyl Scratch, and the two princesses. I am an alicorn, as you can see, but not royalty."

Her eyes were wide. "Wow...that's a lot of friends. Oh wait a minute, were you that stallion that introduced us to that dragon about a month ago?"

I nodded. "Darkflight. Yep, that was me."

She smiled for a moment before her eyes went wide again. "Wait a minute, did you also say you're friends with the princesses? As in Princess Luna and Princess Celestia?"

I nodded again. "Yes I did."

She seemed almost starstruck. "Wow...I was hoping I'd get to meet you! I don't know how I didn't recognize you. Derpy's gonna freak when I tell her who I met!" She let out a little fangirl squeal that I couldn't help but laugh at.

We spent about another hour talking about random stuff until Celestia came running into the courtyard.

She looked very panicked and this in turn nearly caused me to panic. "Steel! I need you in the throne room right now!"

I nodded and turned to Ditzy. "Well it's been fun, Ditzy. Keep in touch, you know where to find me." She nodded and I followed Celly to the throne room.

When I arrived, I saw that there were a lot of ponies in there. All of the Elements were gathered, as were Luna, Shining Armor, and a few ponies I didn't recognize. Celestia had a grave look on her face, which frightened me. I had never seen such a look of seriousness and fear in her eyes before.

The sun princess cleared her throat and took her place beside Luna on her throne. "Thank you all for coming. I apologize for the short notice, but something has come up. There is no easy way to state this, so I will just speak plainly: the Gryphon Kingdom of Highmount has declared war on Equestria."

I stepped forward, instantly taking a serious demeanor. "On what grounds, princess?"

She looked at me sadly for a moment before addressing the crowd with, "I am sure all of you here have heard of the ambush upon Miss Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and Steelbreaker in the Everfree forest...as well as the abduction of Twilight Sparkle shortly thereafter. The king of Highmount has claimed that because we have taken the offenders prisoner, we have already declared war on his territory. Anypony who knows what has happened knows this accusation is completely absurd, but it does not change the fact that war is now looming on Equestria's horizon...for the first time in nearly a millennium." She then turned to me. "Steelbreaker, because of where you are from, you have more experience with war than even I do. We will need your assistance."

I nodded resolutely, feeling the innate Guardian’s instinct welling up within me. "Of course, princess. I would protect my loved ones by any means, and that extends to our home as well. I am at Equestria’s service."

She nodded and continued. "To everypony here, I will not lie to you...war is not pretty. It is a nightmare. The enemy we fight will not be as Discord or Nightmare Moon," Luna winced at that comment, "this enemy is out to kill. The gryphons are famous for their warriors...and they do not take prisoners." She took a breath. "With that knowledge given, I ask you to pass it to everypony you know. This is your home as well, and so if you wish to join the fight, I open enlistment into the reformed Equestrian Military. Both stallions and mares are welcome. You will be trained by Sergeant Steelbreaker and Captain Shining Armor. I ask that every able-bodied pony enlist so that we may protect our home. Please do not take the decision to join the military lightly...you may lose your life in this war. Thank you all for coming, you are dismissed."

The ponies began to filter out of the throne room, leaving just the Elements, myself, and the princesses. It was at that moment I felt a voice from inside me.

“Steelbreaker, I must speak to the princesses.”

“It's not that I don't trust you Frost, but why?”

“It is concerning the war. If they are trained correctly, they can help us.”

“I don't think it is a good idea for Celestia and Luna to be in this war, Frost.”

“Steel, you know we will need all the help we can get. Besides, it will not be the princesses who are fighting.”

I sighed. “Very well...I trust you Frost. Control is yours.”

With that I focused on feelings of anger...of hate...of pain. I felt the familiar feeling of ice under my skin, and I felt the transformation take hold...

Perspective change - Frostrender

We opened Our eyes to see all the ponies in the room staring at Us, the ones who have yet to meet me having slack jaws.

We smiled and strode to the solar princess and bowed slightly. "Hello again, Princess Celestia. As always, it is an honor."

She showed a look of confusion, but smiled nonetheless. "Hello Frostrender, it is good to meet you again. To what do we owe the pleasure?"

We lifted our head and stood, looking the princesses over. "We must train you for the war, princesses."

All of the Element bearers stared at us in shock. The violet unicorn was the only one to speak, however, as she spoke with concern, "Umm...Frostrender? I don't think it's a good idea for our rulers to be fighting in a war."

We shook Our head. "Fear not young one, the princesses themselves will not be in the battle. It will be their avatars instead."

Princess Luna stepped forward, stopping in front of us. "Our avatars? I do not think I understand..."

We sighed and looked them over again before turning to Princess Celestia. "I am the avatar of ice and winter. An alicorn is the only Equestrian being that is able to house an elemental avatar. It is something that is the potential of any of our race, but only few know how to unlock. Both yourself and your sister house elemental avatars. All of the ponies in this room save for Steelbreaker have met Princess Luna's already."

All of the ponies in the room eyed us with confusion until the lunar princess turned to me with a look of shock. "No...you are speaking of Nightmare Moon!"

We nodded. "Yes We are, dear one. The one you know as Nightmare Moon is the elemental avatar of night and darkness. Trained properly, you will be able to call upon her power without losing yourself, as Steelbreaker is able to call upon me."

The princess of night began crying in both fear and self-pity. "No...I am sorry everypony, but I cannot do it. I will not allow that monster to be free again..."

We strode forth and placed a comforting hoof on her shoulder. She looked Us in the eyes and We smiled. "Princess, we understand you are afraid, but if you follow our teachings, you will be in complete control...and the nightmares that plague you when you sleep will also cease to be." She looked at us with utter shock and we smiled warmly. "Yes princess...We know of the horrors that follow you into the realm of dreams."

She still shook her head. "I...I cannot...I am sorry."

We turned to Princess Celestia with a stern expression and ordered, "Princess? Take the Elements under your wing and back away. Once at a safe distance focus and cast the most powerful sustainable barrier that you can." She stared at us, very confused. We rolled our eyes and added in a firm tone, "Please do not question Us princess. Do as We say."

She nodded and took the young ponies a distance away before casting her spell. I then turned back to Luna, who had a very confused look on her face.

I sighed and closed my eyes. 'Gods watch over us for what we are about to do.' I opened my eyes with a fierce expression, one that conveyed both disappointment and frustration. "So Luna, you would let your loved ones die instead?"

She looked at us with more confusion and sadness. "What? No, w-we..."

I waved a hoof dismissively. "No excuses, Luna. You have chosen to abandon your friends. You were right in thinking you did not deserve to be with such loving ponies."

She began to cry, and I could feel Steelbreaker’s confusion and anger rise within. “I hope for your sake you know what you're doing, Frost.”

“Please trust me, Steelbreaker.”

I felt Steelbreaker sigh as he responded, “Very well, Frost. If you are trying to get her to break, speak of the ponies' love of the sun. The last time she transformed, jealousy became hate, which is what set her off.”

We looked back at the young blue alicorn and smirked before stating, "I have always thought your night was very...plain. It is no wonder so many ponies sleep through it. Your sister does a much better job with her part of the day."

We noticed her eye twitch and her sadness immediately changed to all-encompassing anger, signifying We had indeed hit a sore and sensitive topic. She clenched her teeth and glared at Us, growling out, "Tread carefully, knave. Thy next words may be thy last."

I laughed, which only infuriated her more. "Oh, is Woona getting a wittle angwy? Well too bad. I've always loved the sun, your night is such a waste. It should be day all the time."

That did it. We felt an immediate charge in the air, as if a fire had been lit within the very mare standing before us, and We began to feel the magic being drawn into her. A dark cloud formed around her, shrouding her in darkness for a moment. The figure grew as tall as us and turned from the lovely midnight blue to black.

The cloud dissipated, and before us stood a tall black alicorn with a flowing mane and tail that resembled a starry night sky from open space. It wore a helmet and chest armor, and the eyes opened showing an icy blue to rival my own.

The pony laughed. "Ah, it is good to be back. Who do I have to thank fo-" she stopped as she looked at us. "N-no...this is not possible. How?"

We simply smiled and bowed. "Why hello Nightmare Moon, it is a pleasure to meet the avatar of night again after so long. Did you miss me Nighty?"

She snorted in annoyance and snapped back, "Don't call me that. What is the meaning of this?"

Our expression changed to a serious one as We responded, "Avatar of night, you have been called forth at our behest. War looms on Equestria's horizon, and your assistance is required. The avatar of winter has summoned you. What is your reply?"

She looked at us stunned. "We are at war? With what nation?"

Celestia finally spoke up from far behind us. "The gryphons of Highmount."

Nightmare Moon's gaze quickly shot to the princess. "Silence, We did not ask you!"

We stomped a hoof in frustration and shouted, "ENOUGH! Her avatar is to be awakened as well. You will both assist in the war...or be banished to the space between universes."

She flinched at this, and the smug grin was wiped from her face. "You wouldn't dare."

We glared at her, unflinching. "Would you care to try Us? Do not test Our patience. If We find you to be of no use or a danger, We shall cast you out Ourself."

The black alicorn was cowed and lowered her head with a sigh. "Very well...what would you have Us do?"

We smiled. "First, you will relinquish control to Luna. You will take your rightful place as an avatar at her side, not above her. Also, you will cease to invade her dreams."

She looked annoyed, but nodded in agreement. "Fine...is there anything else?"

We shook Our head. "That is all at the moment. You may go until Luna chooses to call you again. Thank you Nightmare Moon...truly."

The alicorn then showed something none of the others in the room ever expected...a non-malicious smile. "I never believed I would say this, but you are welcome. We will speak again later." As she turned away, she connected with my mind and added, “And for what it’s worth Winter, I have missed you greatly. It is wonderful to see you again.”

With that a bright flash of light filled the room, and just as quickly as it came, it was gone...revealing an unconscious Princess Luna. Princess Celestia rushed over to her with tears in her eyes.

Twilight Sparkle approached and stood at Our side. "You know," she started, "I always thought Nightmare Moon was evil. Can we trust her?"

We nodded. "Yes, we can. Nightmare Moon is not evil young one...merely greedy. Luna did not have the power to control her, and so Nightmare Moon used Luna's body, completely taking over. Nightmare Moon now has a purpose again, and with training Luna will be able to keep the avatar under control...though at least for the time being I do not believe such control will be needed."

I then sighed and released control of our body, leaving Steelbreaker unconscious.

The New Prince

Chapter 17: The New Prince

Frequent trips to the hospital...again. This time however, it was for Luna. Much as I had, Luna was now in a coma after Nightmare Moon was assimilated into her body. We all visited her every day hoping she would wake up sooner than I had, but it seemed that was not to be. Thankfully everypony was prepared for it this time since I had the same thing happen to me, so even though we worried, there was no crying.

Without her sister, Celestia became lonely, so Twilight and I opted to spend time with her until Luna woke. At first Twilight worried a bit about Spike, but Rarity quickly assured Twi that he would be staying with her at the boutique. I'm sure Spike was pleased. Anyhow, that left us to focus on Celestia.

Celly quickly finished the paperwork for me being a prince, and today - the day that Luna was to awaken - I was to be participating in my coronation ritual. Even though it was to be a simple process in theory, I was sweating bullets that day. I was in a guest room preparing for what was to come, and I was nervous as all hell.

My brother had forged custom hoof caps and a choker, as well as wing-guards to give myself a more "regal" appearance. I had told him I didn't need them, but Celly convinced me otherwise. I was apprehensive at first at wearing this new regalia, but after seeing it all together, I quickly warmed up to the idea. They were all made of silver, but darker to offset my color. Within the choker were a total of four gems, all yellow sapphires. In the exact center was a magesteel setting, where through some magic from my brother and Celestia, a yellow dragon's flame burned safely and indefinitely. The choker itself was thick, almost like a bit of chest armor, but very light. It was shaped into the depiction of my cutie mark, and enchanted to mimic it perfectly as well as long as I was touching it. I had to admit...this was going to look pretty damn cool. I was finishing putting on my rear hoof caps when Twilight walked in the room.

She eyed me for a moment before smiling. "You look great, Steel. You're going to make a great first impression." She walked closer and smiled seductively. "And if I may say, you make a very sexy prince."

I smiled sheepishly and chuckled. "Well Twi, that's good to know that the whole time I'm standing up there every mare is going to be eye-raping me."

She burst out laughing and hugged me. "Don't worry Steel, every stallion and his brother does the same thing to the princesses. It must be part of being royalty."

The door opened again to reveal Luna, a large smile on her face. I couldn't contain myself and nearly tackled her to the ground as I whispered, "Luna...I am so sorry I could not be there when you woke up, dearheart."

She returned my hug and smiled. "It is alright, Steel. Unlike it was with you, everypony knew I was going to be okay." She then smirked. "However if you still feel bad about it, you can make it up to me later."

I nodded and then looked down at my body...frowning. The incident with me flying through that window had left scars, especially the one on my leg. I sighed. "I swapped out my old scar-ridden body for this one...and now it has scars too."

They both laughed and hugged me. Twilight nuzzled under my chin. "The scars aren't that bad, Steel. They actually look kinda cool. Makes you look like a warrior."

I chuckled. "You know now that you say that, I think you're right. Makes me look hardened. Of course anypony that knows me knows that I am pretty much the exact opposite."

We all shared a laugh for a moment until Brightwing poked his head in the room and smiled. "Steelbreaker, you're due in the throne room. It's time."

I nodded and stood up, following Twilight and Luna out the door. The two mares left on their own, while a large group of smartly-dressed guards escorted me in formation down the hallway. I was nervous, but I had to admit...this was pretty cool. As we rounded the hallways, I could hear Celestia's voice from within the throne room. She was busy introducing me while the guards and I took flight from the northern balcony, planning to land in the throne room just as Celestia said my name. After all, we have to make a good entrance.

"Citizens of Equestria, I present to you Steelbreaker!"

The crowed cheered as we glided into the throne room from the northern gardens. I smiled and bowed my head slightly to the crowd, then took my place beside Celly.

She leaned over to me as the crowd cheered. "Very nice entrance, Steel. Rainbow Dash's idea?"

I nodded. "Well if I'm going to be a prince, might as well make a good first impression, and Rainbow Dash is the source of good first impressions.”

She smiled and motioned for me to step forward and say my induction speech, so I stepped forward to the crowd, trying my best to hide my nerves.

I stood tall and smiled. "Greetings everypony, I am Steelbreaker. I have loved Equestria for as long as I've known her. The ponies of this kingdom have captured my heart and soul, and I will protect this land and it's ponies with my life. As a prince of this fine land, I will serve her and her citizens until death claims me or I am no longer needed. May Equestria grow and prosper under us all, the ponies that live and work within it."

he crowd erupted into thunderous applause, so much so I had to restrain myself from placing my hooves on my ears.

Luna smiled and contacted me. “That was a little...unorthodox, but it worked quite well. You seem to have shown you are a prince of the ponies and for the ponies. I wish I had thought of that for my speech as a filly.”

I smiled back at Luna before turning to Celly and taking my place in front of her. The Element bearers gathered around me, their Elements being worn. Celestia's horn began to glow with a magenta aura, and the familiar multi-hued magic of the Elements began to surround me in a circle on the floor. I closed my eyes and felt my coat tingling all over, as well as my horn and wings. An immense feeling of comforting warmth enveloped me...

The tingling stopped and I opened my eyes to notice Celly smiling at me. "It is done, Steel." I then stood beside her and Luna along with the Elements as she turned to the crowd. "Citizens of Equestria, I present to you the first prince of Equestria, Prince Steelbreaker!"

The crowd roared with cheers again and hooves stomping against the floor. I located my mother, brother, and sister standing off to the side and smiled softly at them. My mother was crying as if I had just gotten married, and my brother was... 'Ah dude...slow jerk! So not cool, Mace!' He stopped and chuckled.

When the whole thing was finished, the guards escorted everypony out except for our friends and a few of the palace staff. My mother and sister had gushed over their son/brother being a prince, and left soon after. My brother simply patted me on the shoulder, and he left for the steelworks. This left just myself and a few of my friends to talk about what just happened. Twilight was saying "ohmygosh" repeatedly, and Pinkie was bouncing around like...well, like Pinkie.

Luna had walked over to me and smiled. "You did very well, Steel. By the way, you should take a look at yourself. Something very important has changed..." she let her words drift off.

I did as she suggested and didn't notice anything at first. My coat is still the same, these new scars are still there...but then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. My mane...it had changed! It was now long and flowing in a nonexistent breeze as Luna's did. It looked to be a smooth gray winter cloud with snowflakes falling out of it...and my tail matched. 'Boss...'
Somehow during all this commotion my brother and his fellow smiths had brought out and placed a new throne. When I turned around, I saw a truly unique chair to end all chairs.

The one chair...to rule them all.

It was so metal. Shining silver fashioned simply into a normal throne, but the etchings on the metal itself were of all our friends. The detail was stunning, and the thing was very comfortable. On the back was a diorama depicting myself and Frostrender standing next to each other, beautifully painted and looking epic. By far the most epic of all though? This thing was floating about a foot off the floor on fucking magnets. Yeah that's right, I have a magnetic throne.

The monarchs of Earth can suck it.

Celestia and Luna turned around to see me sitting on my new throne. Jaws dropped and eyes wide, they both just stared.

Celestia looked at me first and smiled. "Well...this is quite the throne. I have never seen one anything like it." She then walked over to Darkflight and placed a hoof upon his shoulder. "Darkflight, you have outdone yourself again. If it is not too much trouble, I would like custom thrones for myself and my sister as well. Would you be willing to do that?"

He just chuckled. "Are you kidding? Yeah it was hard work, but look at that thing. That's the most awesome looking thing I've ever made. My work right there will be remembered far beyond my own life. So when you ask me if I'd make you two new thrones, I have to say that I've already started. Triple the awesome." he finished with a fist pump.

Celestia giggled and smiled. "It is good you have found your passion in life, Darkflight. Something that is not even work for you...you seem to love it."

He smiled. "Yeah. Just wait until you see the new military armor and weapons I'm making. You think that throne is nice? Just wait until you see how great your military looks."

Luna walked over to me as my brother and Celly talked. "Why hello there, Prince Steelbreaker. Ah, that has a nice ring to it."

I just giggled and motioned to her. "You and Celly aren't going to jump me after we leave or something, are you?"

She shrugged. "I have not decided yet. That all depends on how fast you can fly." she said with a strangely scary smile.

I chuckled nervously and stood up, only to be tackled by four ponies of pink, violet, green, and cyan. Kisses and hugs abound, I was having my own heartfelt reunion. With preparing for this ceremony and watching over Celly while Luna was incapacitated, I hadn't had time to see any of the girls. After some more hugs I stood up and they all just looked at me with smiles.

I used to be just a regular human with a shit job and I lived in a world I that didn’t value me. Now I lived in a world of magic and love. I had the love of my family still, as well as the wonderful mares I have come to care for. I was important. I was wanted and needed.

I had never been happier.









Just kidding!

Love Abound and Found

Chapter 18: Love Abound and Found

After the whole "princing" thing (or whatever it's called), we all headed back to town. Unfortunately for me there was a huge crowd waiting for my arrival to meet the "new" prince. I was pleased when they saw it was me and just smiled. Thankfully most of them already knew how I felt about bowing and such, though a few still did so.

As I walked through the crowd, I heard whispers that I could not decipher, no doubt about me being a prince or if Luna and I were together. I just smiled and continued on to the library.

I walked into the home to find the pleasant aroma of a wonderful cooked meal, smelling faintly of cloves, rosemary, and olive oil. I looked over to see my mother standing next to Big Mac, setting the table.

She looked up when she heard the door open and smiled. "Well it's about time you got here, Drew. We could have used your help with the cooking."

I smiled and sat down, waiting for everyone else to arrive. Twilight, Dash, Pinkie, and Lyra all walked in next, followed by my brother and Applejack. Applejack handed us all bottles of hard cider and joined us in the reading room.

I looked at the earth pony and smiled warmly. "Well AJ we can't very well have a celebration without you and your awesome drink, now can we?" She giggled at this and went to talk to her friends.

My brother sat down next to me and we quietly drank while the others talked. Shortly thereafter, Rarity and Spike entered, and we all welcomed the fashionista and the adolescent dragon.

Spike let out a sigh of annoyance and sat down next to me. He grabbed a bottle of hard cider and placed his feet on the table, looking rather exhausted.

When I set to ask him what was wrong, he glared at me and growled, "Steel...Rarity's working me way too hard. I need a drink."

I didn't bother looking at him, and just laughed. "Well Spike, I thought you loved her. Wouldn't you do anything for her? I mean at least now she's interested in you."

He shrugged. "I mean yeah, I'm happy that she's actually looking at me as a dragon instead of a baby. All the same, she seems to be working me even harder now."

I leaned in close and whispered with curiosity, "So, are you two together yet?"

He sighed a little sadly and shook his head. "I wish, guys. I mean it's pretty obvious to me that she likes me like that now...I just don't know why she won't take that last step." He opened his eyes and took another swig of his drink and coughed a little. "Wow, this stuff has a kick." He turned to me and shook his head. "I mean for example the other day we were working on a new dress line she's going to promote in Canterlot. She was tired, I was wired, and she was quickly getting frustrated. I forced her out of the boutique to take a walk with me. She'd been working for ten hours straight without sleep, and I knew she needed a break." He took another gulp of the sweet alcohol, not coughing this time. "We walked around the park for awhile, but I could tell she was tense..."

Flashback Perspective change - Spike

We sat down underneath my favorite tree in the park, a ways away from where anypony could see us. Not that I was planning on doing anything bad, but I just wanted things to be calm, and I knew she would appreciate it too.

Rarity sat down somewhat stiffly next to me and let out a frustrated sigh and hung her head. "Spike...I just don't know what to do. I cannot seem to find my inspiration. Ugh...it is so frustrating!"

I placed a hand on her shoulder and she looked over at me. I smiled and winked at her. "Rarity, you're the best designer I know. Well...you're the only designer I know, but still. You've been working yourself to the bone for the past two days...it's no wonder you feel so drained. You need to rest and relax." I scooted behind her and placed my hands on her shoulders, softly massaging. I was worried at first that she would move away, but she stayed and started to relax. I felt the tension in her muscles all around her neck and legs, so I set about working out the knots.

"Mmm...Spike...you're really good at this..." she muttered in between moans, a smile on her face.

I chuckled and explained, "Yeah, Steel and Dark taught me. I knew it would come in handy sooner or later." I gently lay her down on her stomach, and continued rubbing her neck and back. She continued sighing and moaning as I worked her body with my hands. I found it difficult to keep a blush from rising to my cheeks, as this had been a bit of a fantasy of mine for awhile. I couldn't help but inhale the scent of her hair as I rubbed her shoulders - mmm...vanilla.

After about twenty minutes I stopped when I heard the soft rhythmic breathing of her sleeping. Not wanting her to have to lay her head on the ground, I sat against the tree and lay her head on my leg. I sat there stroking her mane and daydreaming about a possible future with the beautiful mare in my lap. I was snatched from my thoughts by a very soft, beautiful voice.

"Spike?" said the pure white unicorn, looking beautiful in the afternoon sun.

I continued stroking her mane and smiled down at her. "Yes Rarity?"

She averted her eyes with a bit of a blush, but then collected herself and look back at me. "Spike, how long have you pined for me? And please don't tell me that you haven't."

I chuckled. "I wasn't going to deny it. Maybe at one point in my life I was a little ashamed of it, but I'm not anymore. To answer your question, it was since the first day I met you."

Her cheeks colored crimson again, and as I proceeded to massage her scalp, I could feel the heat rising to her face. "Well...that is a long time. That was over four years ago, Spike. How did I affect you so?"

I shrugged. "Well at first, Rarity, it was your beauty. I saw you for the first time when Twi and I came to Ponyville to check on the preparations for the Summer Sun Festival. You were the most beautiful pony I'd ever laid eyes on." She blushed harder and I chuckled. "But all kidding aside, I wasn't in love. I thought I was, but Twi explained it to me later after she found out. I couldn't love somepony I didn't know, so I tried to get to know you better to see if I would feel different. That's why I always wanted to help you and be around you. I had to see for myself if I would feel different when I got to know you."

She nuzzled against the muscles in my leg and sighed. "Well Spike...did you feel different?"

I shrugged. "Well, I did in a lot of ways. I found out that I really did like you, not just your looks. That was until the Grand Galloping Gala when you went to find that Prince Blueblood guy." I felt her shudder at the name, but I continued. "I was...angry. Like really angry. I mean in my mind, I was asking myself why you wouldn't go with me. Why wasn't I good enough? After cooling off and thinking about it though, I realized that it was because no matter how I felt about you, I was just a baby. Then I got depressed because I realized that no matter what I did, no matter what I tried, I wasn't going to be good enough." She tried to interrupt me but I stopped her, explaining in a soft voice, "It wasn't your fault Rarity, I was still a baby after all. Dragons mature a lot faster than most things on this world, but even in dragon terms, I was a baby. I can't really blame you for not feeling the same way I feel about you because you're grown, and I'm not. Believe me, I've tried to blame you...but after the anger is gone, I just feel guilty. I can't help who I love Rarity, but I also learned that some things just aren't meant to be."

I could hear her crying softly against my scales. She looked up at me with sadness in her eyes. "Spike, I am so sorry that you feel this way. I am so insensitive."

I cupped her face in my hands and smiled. "Rarity, you're not insensitive. I mean it's not like I exactly came out with it and said, 'Rarity, you're the love of my life'. Besides, the fact still remains that there's a huge age gap. Even in dragon years, I'm still only about eighteen and you're what, twenty-seven? That's nine years by maturity standards."

Rarity had stopped crying by now and was looking up at me with a smile. Without warning she pulled my head down and kissed me. I could have swore I saw fireworks exploding around us, and the world seemed to stand still.

She quickly pulled away and looked away from me. "Spike, I...I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"
I interrupted her by pulling her up to meet me, planting my own kiss against her soft lips. She melted into me and sighed. We continued kissing and I felt her tongue brush against my lips. I did the same for her and she squeaked, before we both opened our mouths and our tongues met. Electricity shot through my body, and I started to question if this was really happening. I casually removed my hand from behind her and pinched myself. Yep...it was real.
We continued for another few minutes before she suddenly pulled away with a look of shock and self-loathing. She let a tear fall before standing up and running away, leaving me very confused against the tree...by myself.

Present time - Spike

"I met her at her boutique the next day, and she acted as if nothing happened. She acted the same she always did when we worked together, but now she wouldn't even look at me. And if you notice, she hasn't looked at me since we came here either." I explained with a sliver of annoyance.

Steelbreaker placed a hoof on his chin in thought for a minute before looking at me with an unreadable face. "Spike, I think I know what's going on. She's ashamed."

I was confused, but asked anyway, "Ashamed? Ashamed of what, of me?"

Steel shook his head and looked at me with the same unreadable expression. "No Spike, she's ashamed of herself. You have to keep in mind that most of the time she's known you, you were and looked like a baby. That's what she knows you as. You were her 'little Spikey-wikey' for the longest time, and now that you're growing into someone she actually has real feelings for, she's confused with herself. On the one hoof, she knows logically that dragons do mature a lot faster than ponies do. On the other hoof, she's watched you grow from a little cute dragon to one that's bigger and stronger...and one she finds herself attracted to. She wouldn't have kissed you if she didn't mean it, Spike...she just feels bad about it because of her own thoughts, not because of you."

I pondered what he said for a moment...and it made perfect sense. He was right, I was a baby for most of the time she's known me. It makes sense that if she really is starting to feel about me like I do her, she's going to feel weird about it. I turned to Steel and asked, "Well what do I do now?"

He just smiled at me. "You're going to need to confront her about it. For better or worse, you need to clear the air with her. Whether you two end up together or not, things are going to forever be weird until you two address this with each other. It's safe to assume that since she's avoiding you like she is, you're going to have to be the one to bring it up. I'm not going to give you false hope Spike...she might not want to be with you. Then again though, she might. From the looks of it, you've got an equal chance for both."

I felt a little nervous now. I didn't want to ruin anything I had with her, but then again what did I have? Nothing right now, just a whole bunch of badly hidden awkwardness. On the one hand if everything went well, I would get to be with the pony I loved. If things went not-so-well and she rejected me, I was just right back where I started. It did scare me a little bit, but not knowing was also driving me crazy. I stood up and looked at Steel and Dark and nodded...then I left to go find Rarity.

I found her talking to Applejack and Twilight next to the kitchen, and as soon as she saw me, she looked away.

I walked up to all of them and smiled. "Girls it's really good to see you all. I hate to break this up, but I really need to talk to Rarity. Can you give us a few minutes?" They nodded and walked off to join Steel and Dark in the reading room. Rarity still didn't look at me and I sighed. "Rarity, come outside with me please. I need to talk to you alone." She nodded and we walked out the back door.

She still wouldn't look at me, instead just kicking some snow nervously. "Alright Spike...what did you need to speak with me about?"

I just sat down on the steps and looked at her. "I'm pretty sure you know what I want to talk about, Rarity. It's been three days and you won't even look at me. Why are you so ashamed?"

She finally looked at me with shock and answered, "I am not ashamed of you, Spike. Whomever told you that was the case is misinformed."

I chuckled. "I never said you were ashamed of me, Rarity. I think you're ashamed of yourself."

Her shock turned to a look of resignation, and she closed her eyes and let out a small sigh of defeat. "Is it truly that obvious?"

I shook my head. "Not to me. To Steel though..."

She nodded in understanding. "He does seem to notice a lot, that one. Yes Spike, I am ashamed of myself. Do you know why though?"

I absentmindedly drew circles in the snow around me and nodded. "I think I do. Is it because you still think of me as 'cute little baby Spike'?"

She nodded. "Yes Spike, you seem very well informed. I...I know it does not make sense, but when I look at you sometimes, I still see the young dragon that was enamored with me. The young little dragon that would do anything to please me."

I gently reached out and took her hoof in mine. She looked at me in the eyes again and I smiled. "I'm still technically a young dragon, Rarity...just not as young. And just so you know, I would still do anything to please you. That hasn't changed." I let go of her hoof and cupped her face in one hand. "So, how do you really feel about me?"

Rarity stared at me for a moment before closing her eyes and sighing. She kept her voice barely above a whisper as she said, "It feels like love, Spike. And yet...it feels wrong somehow. I've seen you grow from a small child into a handsome young dragon, and I feel that because I have seen so much of your young life, I feel as if I am 'robbing the cradle' as it is."

I just chuckled and rubbed her cheek. "It would only be 'robbing the cradle' if the younger one didn't know anything about love, and was naive in the way the world works. I might not have lived as long as you and may not have seen as much, but I know what love is and I know what it feels like. I know what it means and how the one I love should be treated."

She suddenly shot forward and kissed me with fervor, pulling away just as quickly, rapidly apologizing with, “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

I brought her back and kissed her very gently and quickly on the lips again, and when she looked at me, I smiled. "Rarity, don't ever apologize for that. Like Twi told me, you can't help who you love. I'm just glad that even though for the longest time what I felt about you was one-sided, you actually feel the same way now. So don't be sorry." She nodded and smiled back. "Now c'mon Rarity, it's cold out here and I don't want you to freeze. Let's go join our friends."

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

My brother and I hadn’t left the comfortable sofa as we continued to drink, just watching the party continue.

Our silence was broken when my brother leaned over and whispered, "So, how do you think he's doing?"

I just shrugged. "I don't know for sure, but if I know Rarity like I think I do, he'll be fine."

Not a second later, Rarity and Spike walked in through the back door next to each other, smiling. I gave myself a mental pat on the back and caught Spikes eye. I smiled at him and he nodded.

"Well dude, I think they're going to be okay." I said with a smirk.

Luna, Fluttershy, and Moonfang then appeared in a blinding flash in the center of the room, right in front of myself and my brother.
I stood up right away and hugged my wolf friend. "Moonfang, it's great to see you. It feels like it's been ages since I've seen you last."

He embraced me as well for a moment before releasing and looking at me. "I agree, Steel. It has been too long."

I looked over at the two mares and held open arms, beckoning them in for a hug. They both walked over to me and embraced me as well, Luna nuzzling my mane cutely.

Fluttershy stepped back after they both released me and smiled. "Hello Steel...oh...um, I mean Prince Steelbreaker."

I laughed and shook my head, responding in a soft voice, "Fluttershy, you were a friend before any talk of this induction into royalty even came about. I ask that you don't treat or address me any differently." She smiled and nodded, and we all headed to the main room.

The large table had been set for thirteen, but that means we were missing a few. I turned to Twilight and asked, "Hey Twi, where are Pinkie, Lyra, Dashie, and Celly?" As if on cue, Dash and Pinkie walked in through the front door, Lyra in tow. Celestia walked up behind me, as if by...well...by magic. This was obviously much to the delight of my stomach, for at that moment it rumbled very loudly and everypony turned and laughed at me. I just grinned sheepishly and sat down to eat.

The meal was lovely, a take off of my mother's recipe of clove and rosemary chicken, baked with olive oil...substituting daisies, tulips, and potatoes for the meat. Spike was very surprised that someone could cook better than him, and I was just glad to be in the warmth of all my friends' presence.

The meal was finished quickly, and after some more alcohol everypony started to clear off to their respective areas. My mother decided to spend the night with Big Mac at the farm, but everypony else stayed...even Celestia.

Celly stood leaning against the doorframe as I cleaned the dinner dishes.

She smiled at me and spoke in that soothing silky voice that relaxed my very soul. "Steel, I wish to speak to you about...well...about us."

I finished putting the last plate on the drying rack and smiled. "Celly I already told you I personally don't have a problem with that prospect. You need to speak to your sister and student about it. Your sister because...well...she's your sister and it might be awkward because the two of you are already so close. Twilight because...well I think she sees you as a kind of second mother. It could be more than a little weird for her."

The sun princess smiled and nodded. "Yes, I was thinking the very same. I know my sister, so I am confident she will be fine with it. Twilight may be a different prospect, however."

I just chuckled and motioned upstairs. "Well then, she's upstairs on the observation deck preparing some drinks for us. Go talk to her now."

She nodded and headed upstairs as I finished cleaning up the main room.

Perspective change - Twilight

I set up the blender and added the ingredients like Darkflight showed me.

“Okay, strawberries, banana, rum, tequila..." I said, talking to myself. I popped the ice in last and turned it on.

Luna and the rest of my friends were all sitting around different areas of the room, talking about Steel's new status or other things that I couldn't think of. I turned off the blender after a minute and poured the mixed drink into the five glasses.

Okay girls, drinks are ready! Come and get 'em." I said with a smile. Luna, Pinkie, Dash, and Lyra all walked up and grabbed their own glasses, while I took mine and sat down next to Luna.

Luna took a sip of her drink and her eyes widened. "Twilight, this is very good. What is in this?"

I giggled and leaned against her, drinking in her warmth. "Well Luna, it has strawberries, bananas, and two different types of alcohol in it. Darkflight showed me how to make a non-alcoholic version called a 'smoothie' a few days ago. He said this doesn’t really have a name, but considering the circumstances, I’m just going to call it..."

“Awesome!” Rainbow Dash answered.

I giggled and nodded. “That works.”

The other two mares tentatively took a sip, only for them to smile.

Pinkie started to chug hers and I had to stop her. "Pinkie be careful. I know it's sweet, but Dark told me the alcohol in this can sneak up on you. I know you can handle it, but still...please take it easy and just relax." She nodded and took a relaxed slump next to Rainbow.

A few minutes later, we all heard hoofsteps coming up the stairs. We all turned to princess Celestia and Steel approaching us. The princess suddenly looked a little nervous when she looked at me, and this in turn made me feel nervous. She looked at Steel and he nodded.

The princess turned back to me and softly announced, "Luna, Twilight, I need to have a word with the both of you in private, please."

'Uh oh...what could this be about? I hope nothing's happened...'

Luna and I set our drinks down and stood up to walk over to her and Steel. We all sat on the edge of the bed and Celestia looked me over before sighing with closed eyes, prompting Steel to place a hoof on her shoulder. When she opened her eyes, I could tell she was nervous, which made me even more nervous.

"I wish to speak to the both of you about something...something important that involves all of us." she said. She took another nervous breath and continued, "I...I have come to care deeply for somepony, and I need to ask if the two of you are okay with it."

Luna looked confused, but I had already figured it out.

I sighed and questioned, “You're talking about Steel, aren't you princess?"

She nodded and Luna's jaw dropped open. "Yes my faithful student, it seems nothing gets past you."
I nodded with a blank expression. "Well princess, I've learned from the best."

I knew what she was asking, and I understood her reason for doing so. She was interested in Steel, and worried that it would be awkward to be in a relationship with him while the rest of us were as well.

My brain began to tell me that it was weird, and I should tell her that no, it wasn't okay. However I quickly turned that thought away and just like Steel had taught me that night on the balcony, I stopped thinking logically.

Instead, I listened to my heart.

Princess Celestia had been alone for so long. Not literally, but she hadn't had a romantic partner in longer than I had been alive. She had told me of a dragon she used to love, but that was a few centuries ago. It wouldn't be fair to deny her of this after so long. Besides, it wasn't as if she was asking to be in a relationship with me, now was it? The more I thought about it, the more and more I found myself being okay with it.

Steel must be rubbing off on me.

I lifted my head out of my thoughts and smiled at Celestia. "Yes princess, I'm okay with it."

She looked as if I had just grown a second head. "Wh-what? Really?"

I nodded. "Yes...why, were you expecting me to freak out?

She smiled sheepishly and nodded slowly. "Perhaps a little bit, yes. You never cease to amaze me, dear student." She turned to Luna and smiled warmly. "And what of you, dear sister?"

Luna's look of shock finally dropped, and she giggled. "Well Celly, are you ready to admit that I have good taste in stallions after all?"

Celly sighed and rolled her eyes. "Yes, you have chosen much better. I haven't forgotten Earth Shaker, however."

Luna gasped. "I told you that was a mistake, sister. It has been over a millennium, can you please drop that?"

Celestia smiled and said in a level voice, "I suppose after this, it is time to let the past be the past."

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I couldn't help but smile. I figured if anyone would freak out, it would have been Twilight...but she surprised me. I think I might be rubbing off on her a little too much.

I turned to Celestia and she looked at me with those warm magenta eyes. Before I could react, she pushed our muzzles together in a kiss, one that I now happily returned. I could almost feel her emotions of contentment, and she sighed happily when we broke apart, at which point I looked at her and smiled.

"Well Celly, your confession went better than you could have hoped. I think this calls for a drink for you and I." I responded happily. She nodded and I proceeded to the small bar-like drink area. I mixed us both a couple drinks of coconut milk, a hint of lime, and a lot of rum.

She took the glass and took a small sip, smacking her lips and smiling. "Well Steelbreaker, this is very good. Are you sure you weren't an alcoholic on Earth?"

I chuckled and shook my head. "No princess, but I was a bartender for awhile. Not to say I didn't drink regularly, but I never was a heavy drinker."

We all took our drinks and sat out on the deck. I opened the glass curtain and a rush of cool air came in. I focused my aurora spell and shot it into the sky again. Celestia turned to me with a look of shock.

"So it was you that has been doing that?" she asked with a slight waver in her voice.

I nodded. "Yeah, it's me. I'm surprised Luna and Twilight didn't tell you."

Luna just giggled. "I actually wanted it to be a surprise, so I told Twilight as well."

Celly shrugged and smiled. "Well I enjoy this surprise. It is beautiful." She looked at me and leaned in, kissing me on the cheek.

We spent most of the rest of the night relaxing and all of us got a good buzz, and it was about midnight by the time we were tired enough to go to sleep. Luna had to leave in order to take care of some duties in Canterlot tomorrow, so we all gave her a hug and she teleported to the palace. I closed the curtain and lay down on the bed, Celestia snuggling up on my left side. Twilight cuddled up right next to me and Dash in between her and Lyra. Pinkie decided to lay down against my leg, and we all spent the next hour or so talking about random things. Slowly, one by one, each of them fell asleep, until it was just Celestia and myself awake. She kept snuggling into my chest, and I just thought it was so cute.

I leaned down and kissed right below her horn, and she looked up at me with a very content smile. I chuckled and remarked, "Comfortable?"

The sun princess nodded. "Yes, you're very warm, Steel."

I chuckled and wrapped my foreleg around her, falling off into blissful sleep soon thereafter.

A Freakout and a Reunion

Chapter 19: A Freakout and a Reunion

You know that feeling you have when you just had the best sleep of your life and you wake up to what seems like a perfect day? That would be me at this moment. It must have been obnoxiously early because the moon was still high in the sky.

'The dream I had was so vivid, and Luna was in it. Ah man...that wasn't fair, Mr. Brain.'

I woke with a smile on my face...only to see Luna on top of me in a very compromising position.

She was splayed over me with a messy mane, literally connecting us at the hips. A scent also caught my attention...one that was rather unmistakable.

'Oh gods...that wasn't a dream. Shit, shit, shit!'

I levitated the sleeping goddess off of me as gently as I could, then I shimmied out of the bed careful not to wake the rest of my guests. I then set Luna back down again, pulling the cover over her.

Of course with the with the way my mind works, I had images running through my head so fast it could be counted as insanity. Images both good and bad, but none that I was ready for at the moment. I walked out to the balcony overlooking the palace and sighed heavily before slamming my head on the railing.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid..." I chanted while slamming my head against the steel bar over and over, hoping that sooner or later I'd knock myself out.

It was about a minute into this wonderful new hobby of mine when I heard hooves approaching behind me, and then a gasp.

"Steel? What are you doing? Stop that!" said the unmistakable raspy voice of Rainbow Dash.

I stopped, but didn't turn to look at her. I licked the side of my mouth as I felt blood dripping down the side of my face, for some reason the taste calmed me a bit...odd. After a few minutes of silence I turned to meet her eyes, only for her to gasp again.

She was looking at me with not disgust or anger...but concern. "Steel...why? Why are you doing this to yourself?"

I snorted a laugh. "Because I'm an idiot, Dashie."

Her concern dissipated, and was replaced by a frustrated sigh. "Okay Steel...what did you do now?"

I sighed heavily again, sitting down. I said in as soft a voice as I could manage, "I think I got Luna pregnant."

Dash just stared at me for a second before bursting out laughing. She was literally rolling on the ground, which just made me more frustrated.

"Okay Dash, it's not funny. I'm serious." I said, getting steadily more annoyed.

She calmed down enough to catch her breath and just smiled at me, tears in her eyes. "Steel, you are going to be fine, I promise. So is Luna."

I wasn't really convinced. "Dashie you don't get it, I'm not ready to be a dad yet! And with a war coming? This is by far one of the worst possible times for this. By Celestia, somepony kill me now..." I had worked myself into a frenzy, and before I knew it I was speaking at a speed that only Pinkie could decipher.

She just placed a hoof over my mouth and giggled. "No Steel, I didn't mean it like that. I know you'll be a good father someday, but I also know that's not now...not for you. What I meant was that Luna can't be pregnant. She's not in season."

I felt relief and a feeling of stupidity wash over me. 'I really need to read up on the workings of pony anatomy and biology...' "Okay Dash, well that's a load off of my chest. Question though...how will I know when she is 'in season', or any of you for that matter?"

She scoffed. "Trust me Steel, you'll know."

I grumbled, "Wait a minute, you mean I've been neglecting sex for nothing then? Why couldn't any of you told me this sooner?"

She blushed brightly and shrugged. "You didn't ask."

I nodded dumbly and walked back inside to the washroom to clean myself up.

I looked in the mirror to notice a split in my skin just over my left eye, and I set about cleaning it up as best I could. After wrapping it and cleaning up the sink, I walked back into the room to notice that Dashie had settled back in the bed, and the rest of the mares had yet to wake up as well. With my mind at ease again, I lifted Luna up before scooting back in my place, laying her just beside myself with a kiss. A few moments later and I began to drift back to sleep...

Perspective change - Lyra

I woke up feeling warm and secure, so I looked to my left to see a vivid pink fluff ball snuggling against me. I was a little nervous for a moment before I thought, 'What the hay...' and snuggled closer to her. She let out a cute squeak that I couldn't help but grin at. Pinkie got a little intense sometimes, but when she was calm like this, she was so cute. Like two-week old kitten cute.

'Ugh...I think I've been spending too much time around Twilight. Since when is Pinkie cute?'

I tried to rationalize my thoughts to myself, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn't care. Buck it...I was fine with thinking she was adorable. After all, Steel didn't seem to mind being all lovey with us, why should I care?

As much as I hated to, I knew I had to get up and get cleaned up. Vinyl was having a party at her house for something or other. Didn't matter to me, I loved hanging out with her, and her parties were always great.

I begrudgingly untangled myself from Pinkie's grasp and headed to the bathroom to get cleaned.

I was awestruck when I noticed just how big it was, but then again it was for royalty after all. I quickly showered and brushed my teeth, then took to brushing my mane and tail. I kinda wanted to wake Rainbow up for this, but she looked really peaceful curled up next to Sparkles (yes, I gave her a nickname), so I let her be. After I finished cleaning up, I walked over to Steel. He must have heard me because his eyes were open, looking at me.

I shuffled over and kissed him on his cheek. "Hey Steel, I gotta go. Vinyl is having a party tonight and I wanna be there for her. So I'll see you later, okay?"

He pulled me into a hug with one leg and kissed me on my cheek as well before nodding and releasing me.

I left the room, closing the large silver doors behind me. The two guards that were posted outside the room stared at me with confused expressions. I just smirked at them and walked down the hallway. It took a few minutes, but I finally reached the landing pad for carriages. I could see Vinyl's house, so I focused and disappeared in a flash.

When I opened my eyes again, I was outside Vinyl's front door. If I knew her, she'd still be passed out from last night, so i let myself in and raided her fridge for some breakfast. Not much, but I found some eggs, toast, and a few apples, so I started cooking breakfast for the two of us. I was just about to finish when I heard the clopping of hooves from the stairs above me. I looked up to see Vinyl smiling from over the railing.

"Hiya Lyra! Gosh, it's been forever since I've seen you. What have you been up to?" she asked while wearing her trademark grin while walking down the stairs.

I shrugged. "Not much. Playing music, making money, dating a prince..."

She stopped dead in her tracks as she reached the bottom of the winding stairwell. "You're dating a prince? Who? Do I know him?"

I nodded. "Yes you do. You introduced us."

She furrowed her brow and placed a hoof on her chin, thinking. Suddenly she gasped in realization. "Steel? He's the new prince?"

I nodded again. "Yeah. Weren't you at his coronation?"

She smiled sheepishly. "Umm, I might have been sleeping off a hangover that day. Sorry babe."

I giggled. I remember when all the stallions in town used to think we were dating, she messed with them by calling me "babe" and similar things. It was an inside joke of sorts. One that was still funny every time because it still got a reaction out in public. I gave the eggs a stir and caught the toast with some magic as it popped out of the toaster. I placed it all on a plate and slid it over to Vinyl, who was seating herself on a stool at the counter. I served myself and cleaned up really quick before sitting beside her and digging in.

"You know," she began, "I never figured Steel for the 'royal' type." she said with a mouthful of toast.

"Well he wasn't really feeling it at first, but the princesses convinced him after awhile." I said after taking a sip of apple juice.

She nearly spit out her food. "Wait...he knows both of the princesses too?"

I giggled. "Well knowing would be an understatement. They're kinda together too."

She slammed a hoof down. "By Celestia, who is this guy? I mean he shows up out of nowhere and makes friends with all of the Elements of Harmony, then both of the princesses."

I smirked. "You know Vinny, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous of us."

She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Maybe a little bit. I mean it's not like I really had time to get to know him though. I'm so happy that he showed me that dubstep music, it helped my shows take off like wildfire. Still...my career keeps me really busy. I barely have time to myself anymore."

I shrugged. "So take some time off. You're making tons of money off of your record sales. I'm sure you can afford some time to yourself. Trust me Vinny, your fans aren't going anywhere. Not only are you one of only like three musicians in all of Equestria, but in my opinion you're also the best."

She grinned seductively. "Dear Lyra, flattery will get you everywhere."

That was one thing about Vinyl that I loved...she was just...everywhere. Like after that statement, I honestly couldn't tell if she was joking or not. Still, it's one of the things that kept us close after all these years, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

She suddenly burst out laughing. "L-Lyra, you should see your face!" I pouted cutely, hoping it would get her attention. It worked and she groaned. "C'mon Lyra, that's not fair. You're no fun at all..." I wore my own grin and leaned over, nibbling on her shoulder. She moaned while biting her lip. "That's not fair either, Lyra."

I played innocent. "What? You said I was no fun. I was just proving a point." I leaned closer. "Besides...if you thought that was good, I really shouldn't tell you what Steel and I did the other night."

She gasped again. "W-what did you do? C'mon, don't leave me hanging!"

I leaned over and whispered in her ear a very sensual explanation (use your imagination). I pulled away and noticed she was blushing so hard even her ears were turning red.

She composed herself and looked me right in the eyes. "Okay, you got me. Now I'm really jealous."

Perspective change - Vinyl

How? How did she land a stallion like that? She's got to be exaggerating somewhere in her story...or something's different about him. Like he's got a fifth hoof or something. I mean I loved Lyra to death, but I remember her not being the most socially open filly with colts back in school. She's right, I need to set some time apart for myself. If I missed something this huge, maybe I am working too much. Now I just gotta find a way to tell Tavi about it, otherwise I'll just get a three-hour long "I told you so" speech.

I was so lost in my own thoughts, I hadn't realized we were walking through the city of Canterlot now. 'How did she teleport us both without me noticing? Okay Vinyl...no more spacing. Next time you snap out of it, you're gonna be an old mare with grandfoals or something.'

I always thought the capital was really pretty, but I tried to steer clear of this place. The upper-class ponies didn't really like me. All I ever hear out of them is "low class" this and "lower class" that.

It was sickening.

Next thing I knew we were walking up to the giant golden gates to the palace. Two guards stopped us before recognizing who Lyra was.

She looked back at me and smiled, then she looked at the guards. "She's a friend. I'll take full responsibility."

The guards both nodded and lowered their wings, letting us through. Lyra leaned in close, and whispered, "Don't make me regret saying that, Vinny."

I pushed her away with a giggle. "Oh yes, mistress. Whatever you say." She blushed and I laughed hard. I loved messing with her.

We walked through the winding corridors of the palace, to...somewhere. How the princesses didn't get lost in this place was beyond me. However after like five minutes we arrived at a huge set of silver doors. Lyra opened one of them and peeked inside, then she opened the door fully and we walked in.

There was Steel and four other mares. I recognized all of them, especially Pinkie (she throws wicked parties), and I was about to wave when I noticed what they were doing. They were all sitting in a circle listening to music. The next thing I knew, I could hear it too. Was that coming from Steelbreaker?

"She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then

I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone"

Wow...that was Steel! He was singing, but where were the instruments coming from? I didn't see him playing any...

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time..."

As he finished, I realized that I had closed my eyes and was rocking to the rhythm of the song. It wasn't rave music, but there was something...catchy about it. He looked over at me and stood up, walking towards me. I hated to say it - like really hated to say it - but with his royal gear on he looked like a completely different pony...but in a good way. And his mane had changed! Now it looked like the clouds from the blizzard about a month ago, and I could have sworn I saw snowflakes coming down it.

'Hmm...I wonder what my mane would look like if I were royalty...no! Stop that, bad A.D.D! Focus!'

As I snapped back to reality, I noticed he was standing right in front of me. By Celestia, had he always been that tall? He just stared down at me before pulling me into a hug. 'Aww...I didn't get to hug-tackle him this time. Oh well...there's always later.'

He nuzzled me softly and in a low deep voice whispered into my ear, "Hey Vinyl. It's been way too long. I've missed you."

'He missed me?' What was happening to me? I was feeling all flustered like back in school when I first started "noticing" colts. I nearly stuttered to get the words out to answer him.

"I missed you too Steel." I answered in an uncharacteristically soft voice for me. What? That couldn't have been me. What's going on? Is he using spells on me? Is he inside my mind? WHAT'S HAPPENING! 'Vinyl, slow down girl...calm...calm...' I calmed myself and took a breath. 'Good...now take another breath.' I did as I told myself, and felt my heartbeat slow down some. Once I stopped spazzing out, I looked up at him and could tell he was struggling not to laugh at me. Normally I would be offended, but I realized how foalish I was acting and beat him to it, laughing loudly. The rest of the room joined in and we laughed until my sides hurt.

After we all composed ourselves, Steel went ahead and gave me the heads up on what had been going on. Apparently not only was he friends with both of the princesses, he was "friends" with both of them. 'Lucky bastard.' After that he told me he had something really important to tell me...

"Well Vinyl, if we're gonna be good friends I think there's something about me you need to know. Something pretty crazy." he said.

I was very interested all of the sudden. "Okay Steel, I'm all ears...both of them. What's up?"

He looked a little nervous before taking a breath and closing his eyes. "I'm not of this world, Vinyl."

'What? What's he talking about?' I was confused, so I pushed further for answers. "Steel I'm not sure what you mean. Care to clarify?"

He sighed and closed his eyes. He leaned forward and touched his glowing horn to my head...

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

As I finished transferring my memories to Vinyl (leaving out the more personal parts, mind you), I saw her wobble a bit before falling to the ground, breathing heavily.

"Wow, that's intense." she said before standing on her hooves again. "What the hay, Steel. So you're like, an alien?"

I nodded. "Technically yes, I am. I pray you don't think any less of me."

She shook her head. "No, this actually answers a lot of questions for me. There are so many things about you - the way you act, the way you do things, the fact that you didn't know how to fly - that didn't make sense until right now."

I smiled. "Well I'm glad to know I'm not so weird anymore."

She chuckled heartily. "You're still weird Steel, but at least now I know why you're weird."

I rolled my eyes. "Gee thanks Vinyl. You really know how to make a stallion feel welcome to an alien world."

She then surprised me with a hug. "Oh please Steel, I'm pretty sure all your marefriends make you feel more than welcome, if you catch my drift."

I chuckled. "Yeah they do. Especially Luna last night...mmm..."

Luna blushed and turned her face away. "Steel, please don't talk about that...you're embarrassing me!"

I walked over and nuzzled the night goddess affectionately and said in a soft tone, "Well, you were rather shameless last night from what I remember. And you didn't wake anypony up? Well done, my dear."

This just made her blush even harder, but she shoved me playfully. "Alright, Steel. Well I have things to take care of. Royal duties and whatnot. Will you be alright on your own until I return?"

I smiled and nodded. "Yes love, we'll all be fine. We'll find something safe and non-destructive to do."

She gave me the "stink eye" for a minute before shaking her head and leaving the room. I watched her leave and shut the door, before looking back to see five mares with devious looks on their faces...even Vinyl, which scared me for some reason. The last thing I remember seeing is Twilight's soft chest fur before I blacked out.

Author's Notes:

Song mentioned: "Rocket Man" by Elton John, on the album Honky Chateau.

Of War, Wubs, and Worries

Chapter 20: Of War, Wubs, and Worries

I woke up to a pounding headache, as well as a very warm feeling all around me. As my hearing began to awaken as well, I heard...crying? Did someone die or something? I dare not open my eyes so as to forestall the inevitable burning from the light of wherever I was. Instead, I just groaned and moaned out a, "Why?" to no one in particular. This apparently got the attention of whoever was in the room with me, as the crying stopped. I opened my eyes only to be met with a bright blue face and two angry rose-colored eyes.

"You are an idiot, Steel." said the rainbow-maned mare.

I chuckled softly and smiled. "I agree Dashie, but what about?"

I received a punch into my shoulder that made me wince, and I turned to see Vinyl glaring at me. "You gave yourself a concussion, stupid."

I laughed. "Well out of all the things I've done in my life, of course it would take something as simple as that to give me a concussion. Didn't get one when I got hit by a car, didn't get one when I fell out of a tree, didn't get one when I drunkenly fell down stairs...but a few slams on a metal bar does the trick. I guess I'm just an overachiever."

Thankfully this lightened the mood, and a few of my visitors were laughing. I nudged Dash off of my chest and sat up, only to be met with a sensation of the room spinning. 'Vertigo...awesome...' It took everything I had not to fall back to the bed, and I looked around the room to notice it was packed, much like when I had woken up from my coma a month ago. However, I noticed that Luna was missing.

"Luna?" I mumbled.

Twilight rolled her eyes. "You've only been out a few hours, Steel. Unfortunately Luna has responsibilities to keep, even if you feel like being a dummy. You can expect a lecture from her when you get back to the palace."

I sighed and lowered my eyes to the bedsheets. "Great, I can't wait," I said, my remark just dripping with sarcasm.

I was almost resenting waking up when the very pony that was indirectly causing said resentment walked in the room...and she was furious.


Perspective change - Darkflight

My sword cut through the log like a red-hot knife through butter on a stripper's ass. I checked the sword to find it just as it started - flawless. I had to say, I actually turned out pretty damn good as a blacksmith. Rarity and I had held off on making the ornate guard's armors because of the incoming war.

Somehow I didn't think the ambassador dude for the gryphons would be showing up, and she agreed.

This left me lots of time to make new weapons and armor for the new military, which in all honesty, I loved doing. This military was going to look so sick...

My thoughts were broken by my brother walking up, looking like a demon just tore his soul out.

"Fuck dude, you look horribad. What happened?" I said, trying not to laugh.

He just sat down beside me. "Luna happened..."

I couldn't help but laugh now. "Lemme guess, she chewed your ass out for being a retard, right?"

He nodded while rolling his eyes. "Pretty much. I mean Twi told me she was worried until she found out I was going to be okay...then she got really mad."

I nodded and went back to my training. "Yeah, I heard about that. So how exactly did you manage to give yourself a fucking concussion?"

"Well I kinda freaked out when I thought I got Luna pregnant, so I slammed my face into a steel bar over and over again." he said, smiling sheepishly. Then he looked at my swords and smirked. "Dude...is that Yamato and Force Edge?"

I took the larger sword off of my back and smiled. "Hells yeah. I mean not the real demonic swords per se, but if I'm going to make weapons for myself, they're going to look badass."

He rolled his eyes and smiled. "Dude, I think you played Devil May Cry 3 too much."

"No such thing, good sir. Now if you'd kindly leave me, I have more awesome to practice." I said, turning away from him.

He just laughed and walked off.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

After leaving my brother behind, I headed back to the palace to make amends with Luna. With it being late afternoon I knew she would be in her room, so I headed there. In all honesty I really didn't want to do this, but meh...love makes you do crazy things. That and the fact that being a male meant admitting I'm wrong...all the time.

Anyhow I was attempting to not wobble too much as I walked down the corridor to Luna's room, as my head was still killing me. Luckily I made it without passing out again, and I softly knocked on the door.

"Luna?" I said, almost hoping she wouldn't hear me. She did.

I heard shuffling from behind the door before the door opened a crack, revealing Luna with puffy red eyes. She'd been crying. 'Great...now I just feel even more like an asshole.' Luna didn't say a word, she simply opened the door wider and nodded me inside. I walked in the room trying to look as pitiful as possible, which wasn't that hard because in all honesty I did feel like shit. Looking into the broken expression of my goddess just made me feel worse.

"The doctors told me you might have brain damage. You could have died..." she said softly. I could tell she was trying hard not to cry again.

I sat down on the bed and lowered my eyes...I didn't even want to look at her right now. "I'm really, really sorry Luna. I just did something stupid. I never thought something as simple as ramming my head into a steel bar would tear you up this badly. Please believe me when I say I never meant to do this to you. Hurting you or anypony else is the absolute last thing on my mind. I'm so sorry..." She didn't move, didn't speak. She wouldn't look at me either. After about ten minutes of silence, I figured I'd said what I needed to say, so I got up to leave. It felt like a knife was twisting in my gut when she didn't stop me, so I just opened the door and walked out.

I didn't have anything to do for the rest of the day, but neither did I really want to do anything now. I just headed back to my room and lay down. Unfortunately the doctor told me I couldn't sleep for at least the next eight hours...as I might not wake up. And so I closed the door behind me, turned on my mp3 player, and just lay there staring at the ceiling.

Perspective change - Vinyl Scratch

It was late afternoon and I was with Lyra walking back towards the palace to check up on Steel. I kinda felt sorry for him...Luna really let him have it, and Twilight said she'd never seen her that mad. I mean I kinda understood why she was mad, but still. Maybe I could find a way to lighten Steel's mood...

Before I knew it, we were walking down the now-familiar corridors of the palace. 'By Celestia, I never thought I'd be familiar with the palace. This is so cool! No, focus! We're here for Steel.' I forced myself from my thoughts just in time to see Steel's big silver doors that lead to his room. Lyra was about to knock, but I just walked in. I could feel her glare, but I shrugged it off.

"Hey girls." said the silver alicorn, not even looking at us. "You two here to hate on me as well? Go ahead, I'm in my happy place...somewhat."

Lyra walked up to him first, looking genuinely sad for him. "Steel, don't do this to yourself. You know Luna, she'll come around. Just give her some time."

I couldn't stand to see him like this...it was making me mad. I walked over to him and nudged him softly. "Alright Steel, enough of this feeling sorry for yourself. Get up, we're going out."

He just stared at me, but sat up. "What? What are you talking about? Where are we going?"

I rolled my eyes. "Somewhere not so depressing, and we're going to do something fun."

Lyra and I walked Steel over to the local club/bar that I perform at, and sat down for some drinks. After all, it looked like he could use a few.

"Girls, I really don't want to drink right now." he said a bit glumly.

I giggled. "C'mon Steel, a few drinks won't kill ya. You need to loosen up some, and I can help ya do that."

He sighed. "Okay, but just a few."


"I love everyone!" Steel said, slurring a bit. He leaned over and gave me a big kiss, albeit a sloppy one. Any other time I would be blushing like mad, but I was well aware what powers alcohol had over inhibition.

Maybe vodka was a bad idea...

I stood up and dropped bits on the table to pay, then started nudging him. "Okay Steel, I think it's time to go home now. C'mon now, let's go."

He shoved me away angrily. "No, I don't wanna!"

Lyra rolled her eyes and pulled his hoof. "Steel, stop acting like a foal. Lets go!"

And then...he started crying. "Why are you being so mean to me?"

He had the saddest and cutest face I've ever seen, and my heart just broke. Okay...new rule: sadness and alcohol are never allowed to mix with Steel.

Anyhow, we finally got out of there and headed back to the palace. I had to end up making sure he didn't fall because he was definitely too drunk to fly. He thankfully turned back to a happy drunk on the way back, so at least we didn't have to explain to all the ponies we passed why a grown stallion was bawling.

We arrived at the palace again just as the moon was getting ready to rise, and Steel had surprisingly sobered up quite a bit just on the short walk back. I could tell because for one he could now walk on his own, and two because now he hung his head in embarrassment...no doubt over how he was acting. He opened his door and we walked inside with him to make sure he didn't hurt himself or something. He lay back on his bed and turned that mp3 thing back on, and started to listen to music.

Lyra walked up and kissed him on the cheek. "I have a concert to play in Fillydelphia tomorrow, so I won't be able to stay tonight. Are you going to be alright, Steel?"

He nodded and let a little smile show. "I'll be okay Lyra. Thank you. Travel safely, beautiful."

She blushed and nodded, then left. This just left me alone with Steel, which in all honesty made me a little nervous. He looked over at me and patted the spot next to him on the bed, so I hopped up and lay down on the plush blanket. He was listening to some sort of soft music and was bobbing his head to the beat. It was like my kind of music only more...chilled. I couldn't help but nod my head to the rhythm as well.

"It's called 'Summit', and it's done by that DJ Skrillex that I told you about." he said softly.

I nodded and ever so carefully moved closer to him, until I could feel the heat he gave off.

He noticed and looked down at me with a smile. "And what are you doing, dear Vinyl?"

I blushed and smiled back. "It's cold in here, and you're warm. Why do you keep your windows open anyway? It's the middle of winter."

He chuckled and smiled at me mischievously. "Because I like it cold in here. Besides, it makes whoever's in here want to get even closer to me. By how you're acting, it's working quite well." He then reached a hoof around me and pulled me right up against him. He started stroking my back softly, giving me chills.

"Ugh...you're not making this easy, Steel." I said with a huff of frustration.

He smiled innocently. "What am I making difficult?"

"It's taking every fiber of willpower I have not to latch onto you like a tick and never let go." I stopped when I realized what I said and smiled sheepishly. "That sounded a lot cooler in my head..."

His face contorted in a smile before he burst out laughing. I was so happy I could make him laugh, even if it was at my expense. He needed it after today. I was just about to follow through with my threat when he pulled me up against him instead and hugged me tight.

"Haha! I beat you to it, I win!" he nearly yelled, which actually hurt my ears a little.

This guy is good...

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I was actually having a lot of fun with Vinyl, much to my surprise. She was playful, had a good sense of humor, and had great taste in music. Why did I never spend time with her before? Well since Luna hated me now, I guess that gives me plenty of extra time to catch up.

"So Vinyl," I said softly, "I'm sorry I didn't really stay in touch as much as I should have. I just kinda bailed on you after I showed you my music. I'm really sorry about that."

She rolled away from me and lay on her back, placing her hooves behind her head. "Steel it's okay. I was busy too, ya know. Recently though, I've decided to take a little 'vacation', so I have plenty of time to myself now."

"Well good, because you seem like the kind of friend I'd like to have. Chilled out, loves music...you're awesome." I finished with a smirk.

She giggled again. "Well I can't say I've never been told that, but it means a lot coming from you. Thanks Steel."

We spent the next few hours talking and laughing a lot about the many "adventures" I've had so far with Luna and the others until it was near midnight.

It was at that moment I felt a presence that I was intimately familiar with approaching from the throne room.

'I hope she's ready to talk...'

I looked at Vinyl and smiled. "Hey Vi, can you give me a few minutes? Things are gonna get tense in here and I don't want to bring you into that."

She nodded. "Alright Steel, I'll wait in the gardens then."

I nodded and she left. I turned my music back on and started listening to some soft music while I waited. Not a minute later, Luna walked in my room looking very sad, and she still wouldn't look at me. I wanted nothing more than to jump up and tackle her to the ground and rain kisses on her along with apologies, but I restrained myself. Something told me she wouldn't be okay with that...not yet.

She shifted nervously before clearing her throat and addressing me, "Hi Steel."

I sat up and leaned against the headboard, smiling. "Hi Luna."

"So, um...how are you?" she asked, sounding an awful lot like Fluttershy.

I decided to go for the cheesy line, just to see if it would work. "Much better now that you're here, Lulu."

It worked...thank the powers that be.

She finally looked at me and smiled. "Well then I am happy, Steel." She then took a more somber look and sat down in front of me. She sighed deeply before continuing in an equally somber tone. "Steel, I apologize for how I reacted. I was just so worried. When I received word you were in the hospital with head injuries, I nearly cried in the middle of court. I don't know what I would do without you Steel..."

I grabbed her with my magic aura and pulled her closer to me before wrapping my forelegs around her and hugging her tight. "Luna, I'm so sorry that I put you through that. I mean, I was just banging my head against a steel railing because of how stupid and careless I was last night. I had thought I got you pregnant or something. Don't worry though, Dashie explained how ponies' reproductive cycles work, so I'll not be having that misunderstanding again."

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow, "You gave yourself a head wound because you believed I might have been with foal? Would that have been such a bad thing?"

I nodded glumly. "Yes Luna, it would have been. First off, we will be going to war relatively soon, most likely. You would be unable to help us if you were carrying, and I would be unable to be here for you because I would be fighting. Secondly and more importantly, I'm not ready for a foal just yet, Lulu. I admit I overreacted a little, but still...I was freaking out because I know I'm not ready for that yet. I promise the day will come, just not now."

She seemed to accept this and smiled. "I understand, Steel. I am sorry I treated you as I did when you came to me earlier. I was afraid I would lose you...and I honestly do not know why I acted how I did towards you. I was hurt...and afraid."

"Well all is well, Luna. I'm not hurt too badly and you're not pregnant, so it's a win-win scenario here." I said with a goofy smile.

She smiled back at me and lay down next to me. "I would not look at things so optimistically, but I am gladdened that you are okay."

"Hey Lulu, where are all the girls?" I asked. I felt bad that I hadn't even noticed they were gone until right that moment.

She snuggled against me and sighed. "Twilight is studying on war tactics within the Royal Library. She is here, but will be staying in her old tower room for her stay until she finishes. Rainbow Dash is spending the night with her friend Fluttershy, but will be back tomorrow. Pinkie Pie is lending a hand at Sugarcube Corner for a large order that has come up, and she would not leave her family to do it alone."

I nodded. "Well I suppose that just leaves you and Vinyl tonight. It's all good."

She looked at me incredulously. "So you and Ms. Scratch..."

I shook my head and chuckled. "No Luna. I mean I wouldn't be against it, but we're still getting to know each other. Right now she's just a good friend who makes a great cuddle buddy. It's been weeks since we last saw each other, so I'm playing catch-up right now. I've already contacted all the other girls about it and they don't have a problem with her should we ever become more than just friends. Pinkie even seemed ecstatic. What about you?"

"I trust your judgment, Steel. I have not felt any less loved, so I have no reason to distrust you." she said softly, nuzzling into my snowy mane.

I smiled and kissed her forehead. "Thanks, love. That means a lot to me." I then made contact with Vinyl. “Hey Vi? You can come back now. All's well here.”

A few minutes passed before I heard the door open. I opened my eyes to see Vinyl walking in with that grin that just made me want to smile with her. She hopped up and lay down next to me, curling her tail around herself and cuddling into my side.

'By Celestia, that is so cute. She's like a little puppy! D'awwww...'

I couldn't help myself, and I started stroking her back again softly. She shivered a few times and sighed happily. Luna wrapped herself around me, and I could feel her cool skin against my side.

'I don't get it...I'm the carrier of the avatar of winter...how is she cold while I'm warm? This doesn't make sense. Whatever...feels nice.'

I turned my music back on and Vinyl turned around to talk to Luna. I wasn't paying attention but I did hear them laugh a few times. No doubt Vinyl had told her about my drunken stupidity earlier today, as well as a few other choice things. Their laughter was music to my ears.

Well I already had music playing, but I guess it was like double-music or something.

A few minutes later I could hear the soft snores of Vinyl beside me. Without opening my eyes, I pulled her closer, which she sighed again and nuzzled into my side while wrapping a hoof around me. I nearly fell asleep when I began to feel a hoof stroking my chest softly. I looked to see Luna staring at me with a wry smile.

"What?" I asked with confusion.

She shook her head. "Nothing Steel. I am just glad that you are here."

I pulled her close to me, feeling her cool skin against mine again. "I'm glad too, love," and I leaned in for a kiss. She met me halfway and pressed her soft lips to mine and let loose a very soft moan before breaking away and smiling.

She nuzzled into my neck. "I missed that, Steel."

"It's only been a day, Lulu." I chuckled out.

She pouted cutely. "And? I cannot miss your kisses after only one day?"

I kissed her again and smiled. "I'd be offended if you didn't, actually."

She hummed happily while burying her face in my mane and I closed my eyes again, falling asleep a few minutes later, with my love in my arms.

Inner Demons

Chapter 21: Inner Demons

"Steel...Steel wake up," whispered a soft, angelic voice.

I opened my eyes to see Celly awake and smiling at me. Where normally I would be groggy from sleeping in such an awkward position, I leapt out of the chair next to the hospital bed and hugged the beautiful alicorn as gently as I could, while still making sure she knew I missed her.

"Celly...we missed you so much." I said softly, so as not to hurt her wakening sense of hearing. I then made contact with the girls in the waiting room. “Girls, the princess is awake! Come and see her!”

A minute later, eight ponies rushed in to see the princess - the Elements plus Luna and Shining Armor. They all burst into bright smiles upon seeing their friend and princess awake and well, and a few even had tears in their eyes. It was a heartfelt reunion for the ages, and Twilight and Luna were happier than I'd ever seen them.

After a quick sign out, we all headed back to the palace. Celly used the excuse that her legs were stiff so that she could lean on and nuzzle me the whole time, which I didn't mind in the slightest. We talked quite a bit about what had transpired since she had been out, and Celly just listened quietly with a smile on her face...one I had missed more than I realized.

After my little stint with Luna a week and a half ago, I was happy to bring the princess of the sun home.

We arrived back at the palace at around noon, and we all giggled when Celly's stomach didn't growl, but roared. We all couldn't help but laugh at her body's hunger. That being the case, we all headed to the banquet hall to get some lunch. The alabaster alicorn princess would keep stealing looks at me when she thought I didn't notice, and I could tell she wanted to say something.

"Celly, I know something's on your mind. Talk to me." I whispered in her ear softly.

She sighed and closed her eyes. "I dreamt nearly the entire time I was unconscious."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh? What about?"

She bit her lip and looked away. "...you..."

I was suddenly interested, for obvious reasons. "Really now? About anything in particular?"

"Everything..." she said simply.

I was confused. "I don't follow, Celly."

She sighed again and replied in a low voice, "I mean everything, Steel. I saw everything from now until the end of time..."

"Wow...really? You do know you were only out for two weeks, right?" I said with a smirk.

She ignored my remark. "Steel, I saw our foals..."

"I can honestly say I wasn't expecting that...at all..." I said with a now blank faced stare. This conversation was quickly getting a lot deeper than I would have liked for a simple walk home...

Things had went pretty smoothly these past two weeks, other than whispers of gryphon movement along Equestria's northern border. Luckily I had ordered a regiment of some of the guards I trained to keep watch, and things had quieted down since then. I knew full well that panic would be the enemy right now, so I was more than happy that Celestia had returned. The ponies needed their princess to reassure them.

We finally made our way to the banquet hall, and by now my mouth was watering. I hadn't eaten since the day before, much to the dismay of my stomach. I sat down and was served a salad with tofu and mushrooms, so I dug in with earnest.

Perspective change - Pinkie Pie

I stared at him, forcing a smile. He seemed so happy nowadays, but inside I was just a hurricane of different emotions. Jelousy that he seemed to spend more time with Celestia the past week than anypony else. Suspicion that he was hiding something. Anger at myself for questioning him...

But nopony's that perfect.

He had to be hiding something. He said it himself that it's okay to be sad, or mad, or scared...but all he ever seems to be is happy. I didn't get it. I thought about asking my friends for help, but I didn't want to do that unless I was sure. 'I guess I'm on my own...again.' I started feeling seething anger at my friends, but I brushed it aside. It wasn't their fault...they trusted him too much. I planned to ask him about everything that night.

The day went pretty quickly, since I spent most of my time with Dashie. It had been a long time since her and I could just be alone together, and I could honestly say I missed it. It was almost like when she first came to Ponyville...when it was just me and her. Even when Fluttershy was around, it was still great. I loved Fluttershy, she was one of my bestest friends ever. She was so nice and sweet, and she was a great friend. I missed this a lot now...but Dashie told me it would be okay. She was right. She always made time for me. We played like foals in the snow for the longest time before getting tired, and before we knew it the sun was starting to set. I waved goodbye to my friend and walked back to the palace.
It took awhile even with how fast I was, but I got to the palace right before the sun set. I saw Steel walking down the hallway towards me, and I smiled as best as I could.

"Hi Pinkie! By Celestia, I've missed you." He said before wrapping me in a big hug. 'Oh...this is gonna be hard now.'

I looked up at him trying to keep a straight face. "Steelie? Can we talk?"

Just by how his face changed, I could tell he knew something was wrong. "Uh, sure Pinkie. What's going on?"

Now I started to feel bad. This was going to be harder than I thought. "Um...I'm really sorry Steel..."

Now he was nervous. "Pinkie, what are you sorry for? Did you do something?" he said in a tone that reminded me of my mommy.

I composed myself as fast as I could and sighed to keep from crying. "Steel, I have to ask you something...and I'm really sorry if it sounds bad. I'm just so confused..."

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

"Confused about what, Pinkie?" I asked, now feeling equally confused.

She shifted nervously and let a tear slip down her face. She looked up at me with those beautiful blue eyes. "Steelie...why are you so happy all the time? I mean, it doesn't make sense."

'Ugh...this again...'

"Pinkie I thought I already explained this to you girls. I get sad and mad just like any other pony, remember?" I said softly.

She shook her head. "Well if you do, you never show it. Why? What are you so afraid of?"

That struck a nerve for some reason, and I instantly changed from calm to frustrated. "Who said I'm afraid of anything at all? I'm not!" I instantly felt bad when the Pink mare cowered on the ground in fear. "Oh no, Pinkie I'm so sorry...I didn't mean to yell."

She jumped up off the ground and glared at me. Now I was on the defensive. "Then tell me why you're so afraid to show how you're really feeling! Are you afraid of being weak or something?" she yelled back, gritting her teeth.

I took a step back and was about to reply, when I realized I had nothing to reply with. She was right...

I was afraid.

I was afraid to show weakness, because I knew I couldn't afford to be weak in any way...not if I was going to save my friends. I realized that the very idea was stupid, because that didn't make what I perceived as weakness disappear.

I looked at the little earth pony before me and dropped my eyes from her gaze. "You're right, Pinkie...I am scared. I'm scared of being weak."

She gasped and actually sat down in shock. "Steelie, why are you afraid?"

I wanted to look her in the eye, but my neck wouldn't respond. I was too ashamed at myself...

"Because Pinkie, I can't afford to have weaknesses. Our enemy is plotting against us right now for the upcoming war that could start at any time. My weakness could mean your death or capture. I am not going to let that happen...ever." I explained sternly.

"You don't have to do this alone, Steel. You can't do this alone." said a soft voice from behind me.

I turned to see Celestia and Luna with somber expressions. The didn't say any more...all three of the mares walked up and hugged me. It was too much to handle, and I collapsed in tears.

Perspective change - Celestia

It had only been a few hours since I had been awake, and already Steel was brought to tears. He seemed to take so much responsibility upon himself that it was quite literally breaking his mind. I was at first unsure of whether it was simply his personality or the Element he harbored, but it was destroying him from the inside out. I had heard stories of the past bearers of the Elements of War. Assassin and Berserker killed each other...and Guardian suffered from insanity. I was now very worried about the effect the Element was having on him. Though an alicorn, it was times like this that reminded Luna and I of how young he was, no matter how rare these occurrences may be.

'All power has its price...'

While he was still weeping openly (prompting questioning looks from the guards), we made our way down the hallways to his room. He lay down on the bed and curled into a ball. I looked at Luna with a face of understanding and she nodded.

"I will return later, dear sister. Please watch over him." she said with a small smile.

I nodded and smiled back. "I will Luna. Go to court...I have this covered, I promise."

She nodded and left the room, leaving just Pinkie Pie and I to tend to Steel. I began softly stroking his mane when I noticed his horn was glowing softly. I wondered what spell he was casting, but then I noticed his coat began to darken. His mane also became darker, larger...and more menacing. The process took only a few seconds to complete, and he was now no longer his bright and shiny silver...he was a dark, ruddy color more akin to blackened rusted iron.

"Steel," I said as softly as I could, "you might want to take a look at yourself."

He looked down at his hooves and barely reacted at all. "What happened to me?"

I didn't immediately have an answer, but thought of something that might make sense. "Steel, what kind of clothing did you wear on Earth?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Depended on how I was feeling that particular day, I guess."
Now I understood perfectly. "Steel, I believe your subconscious has altered your appearance to match your mood."

"Great...so my subconscious has turned me into a mood ring. That's just awesome." he said with no small amount of sarcasm.

I suppressed the urge to giggle and instead crawled over him, laying down where he could see me. I placed a kiss on his nose and smiled. "Steel I can't pretend to know what you're going through, because in all honesty I don't. I will let you know that I will never leave your side, especially when you need me." With that said, I hugged him tightly. I felt him relax against me, and his hooves snaked around my waist.

"Thank you, Celly. That...that means a lot to me." He then looked at the Pink mare who had been silent the whole time. "C'mere Pinkie, I want you here too." She smiled and jumped onto his chest, giggling.

The young pony did have a way of cheering him up, and while he wasn't as lively as usual, he pulled her into a hug and kissed her softly. He then turned to me and did the same, and I felt the love in it. He may have not been the happiest stallion at the moment, but I could tell it was not because of us...and that made me feel somewhat better.

Some time had passed and somewhere during that time, I had fallen asleep. I knew this because the next thing I knew, I felt feathers caressing my shoulder. I opened my eyes to see Luna draping her wing over the four of us and Steel was still wide awake, a look of deep thought gracing his face.

"Steel?" I whispered softly.

He turned to me and smiled, albeit a bit sadly. "Yes beautiful?"

I couldn't help but blush. Even when he himself is not feeling at his best, he always gives to others, trying to spread happiness...even when he has none for himself.

"Do you think we will come back from this war?" I said carefully. In all honesty, the war had been on my mind a lot. I had never ruled during war-time, let alone fought in one. That and my father was taken by a war. I felt an emotion that seemed foolish for what my subjects saw as a wise and benevolent ruler - fear. I was afraid for myself, and for those I cared about. I feared for my land, and for my subjects. I began to understand just how easily fear could drive a pony mad. I was dragged from my worries by Steel pulling me close to him.

"I will make sure you come back from this alive and well. All of you. Your sister, all our friends...everyone. That much I can promise you. No, I Pinkie promise...and no one ever breaks a Pinkie promise." he said with a genuine smile.

I began to see some of the color to his coat restore, and he looked just a little brighter. It seemed that while his Element put a great deal of strain on him, it also offered him a confidence and strength that he should not normally have. I still did not know if this was him or the Element speaking to me, however. All the same, I felt safer and less fearful with his words.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I felt so broken...so vulnerable. I hated the feeling, but I didn't know how to purge it from my mind. Being with my girls or my friends made it better, which is why I hated being alone. When I was alone, I couldn't escape my thoughts. There was nothing to distract me, and nothing to save me from myself. It felt like being in a deep hole with no way out unless I had help. So long as I had my loved ones, it all worked out fine. The very thought of losing them because I couldn't be strong enough was tearing me up, though.

The enemy was strong...stronger than I had first realized. The enemy was smart, and well versed in the art of war. It was at that moment that I started to realize something...something I had tried to avoid at all costs for both my sake and the sake of those I cared about.

I might not be coming back from this war.

Breeding Fear

Chapter 22: Breeding Fear

I was so exhausted. I hadn't slept the previous night, no matter how hard I tried. Now that Pinkie had "awakened" my own insecurities, the stress of what was to come was starting to wear on me. After losing two sisters when I was a teen, I had become careless with my own life...sometimes destructively so. My loyalty became no longer to myself, but to my loved ones. It was at this moment that I decided that I needed to make sure everyone would come out of this war alive, including myself. If not for myself, then for those I care about.

Sometime during the night, Vinyl and Twilight had joined me in bed. Without even noticing it, I was absentmindedly rubbing their backs in an attempt to calm my own nerves. Of course simply being around them did make me feel better, and while I was still stressed, my coat had turned back to its normal color. I was happy again and I had come to terms with my own fears...partly because I resolved to now put it in the enemy.

After all...fear is the enemy of any army. I just had to figure out what a gryphon fears.

Perspective change - Vinyl Scratch

I woke up to find myself spooning with Pinkie. Thankfully I had woken up in stranger situations, so I didn't freak out or anything, but that still left the question as to where Steel had gone. In his place was Princess Celestia. It was still kinda weird waking up in the same bed as my princess, but hey...things could be stranger.

I groaned and rolled over, dropping off the soft mattress and onto the ground. After that, I grabbed my shades and put them on, because I didn't feel comfortable with many ponies seeing my eyes. I had a pair of neon crimson eyes that after all these years I was still kinda self-conscious about. Lyra had seen them, but that was an accident...and Steel was a special case. Just thinking about this was bringing back memories of all the teasing I used to get back in school. When I put these on, I didn't have to be Vinyl anymore...I could be a different pony. I could be DJ P0N-3. I took one more look at the ponies still sleeping, grabbed Steel's mp3 player, and left.

Steel had taught me a spell that let me control his music player like he did, so I put on my headphones and turned on some music he called "hardstyle". It was still nighttime as I walked around the palace, which was odd because this would make the first time I've gotten up before the sun did. I decided to check out the palace grounds, and so I calmly walked towards the gardens.

It had been an hour or two since I started to take a stroll around the place, and the princess had already raised the sun. For the first time in a long time, I got to see a sunrise. I was enjoying this simple beauty to life when I heard the sound of metal clanging against metal from the direction of the guard's barracks. Interested as to why they were training this early, I headed over there.

I walked through the stone archway to find Steel training with...Darkflight? And they were using real swords...cool! I couldn't help it and I found myself sitting down a ways away so I could watch them. Darkflight was using a sword that was easily the size of me, and I wondered just how strong he must be to even be able to lift it...but he was swinging it around as if it were nothing.

The dragon was clearly stronger and faster than Steel, and I started to get worried that he would hurt him. Steel was just barely hanging on with his own swords that were being held with magic, but then I saw his horn begin to glow brighter. I saw his silver aura of magic extend out from his horn as he was fighting, until it covered a huge area around them. And then...I heard the ground start to crack. Dark fell to his hands and knees like something was holding him down, and he couldn't lift his sword. All of the sudden, a giant crater formed around where they were standing, as if something really heavy just hit the area. Steel's eyes started glowing brighter, until they were completely gold now. After a few seconds of this, the aura disappeared, and Steel collapsed on the ground.

Perspective change - Luna

I woke to the sound of what sounded like an earthquake, and violent shaking that seemed to be coming from beyond the gardens, near the guard's training grounds. At that moment, Tia burst in the room with a panicked expression on her face.

"Luna, I think we're under attack! Gather the guards and get to the barracks!" she said quickly.

I nodded and sped off to gather the full Celestial Guard - our most elite of guards. I then followed my sister towards the plateau where the guards trained. When we reached it, we found Steel being helped up by Darkflight and Vinyl Scratch...and they were in the middle of a massive depression in the ground.

"Steel," I said with a hint of panic, "what has happened here? Are you okay?"

He nodded and smiled. "I'm fine, Luna...just fine. I'm just a little tired is all because that spell took a lot out of me."

I was confused. "What spell are you speaking of?"

He looked around him and chuckled. "The spell that caused this. Sorry about that, by the way. I guess it's a good thing there's nothing to damage out here. I didn't know it was going to be that strong, I'd never used it before."

"I am confused as well, Steel. What spell did you cast exactly?" Tia said, now less panicked.

He grinned and sat down. "A spell that manipulates gravity. Now that the war is coming, I'm starting to experiment with more battle-worthy spells. This spell for example is great for keeping enemies that can fly on the ground, which in turn makes the fight that much easier. Also depending on how strong I make it, it can change from being a simple spell that grounds them to being a spell that can crush them. I'll have to practice more and get a better feel for it before I'll be ready to use it on the battlefield, though."

I found it unnerving that he was dabbling in manipulating the physics of our world, but he assured me that the effects were not permanent. This relieved me somewhat, as for some reason my mind conjured a fear that somehow his spell would pull my moon upon our world. A silly fear, but a fear nonetheless. What frightened me now was the fact that he was so visibly weakened just from using one spell. 'I do hope he trains to overcome this...'

It was midday by the time we made it back to our palace, so all of us joined Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and the rest of the Elements in the dining hall for some lunch and tea. I could not help but giggle as Steel was brought to the ground by Rainbow Dash, who he had not seen in days. They hugged tightly and then Rainbow Dash, in a rare display of public affection, kissed him. This prompted giggles from all the others within the area, including a few of the palace staff.

Perspective change - Rainbow Dash

I found myself lost in a kiss with Steel and couldn't help but stare at him a little dreamy-eyed...I missed him. Just a few days away seemed like forever. I then quickly realized that everypony was staring at us, and I blushed in embarrassment and jumped off of him. Rarity was laughing at me, and I glared at her, but she just smiled a coy little smile and turned away to face Spike.

I was kinda surprised that Spike finally got his wish to be with her, even if she was almost thirteen years older than him. Still, he was a lot taller now - taller than her - and had matured a lot over the years. He even wanted to join the military to help us fight, but Twilight told him no.

I was snapped out of my thoughts by the feeling of Steel grabbing me and placing me on his back, and I couldn't help but breathe in his scent as I wrapped my hooves around his neck. He smelled like the air right before snow...that crisp, cold scent that made my nose tingle. We all walked to the large table to sit down, and just in that short distance, I almost fell asleep.

Luckily I woke up when Steel levitated me off and into my chair across from him, and I was happy to see roasted carrots and a small salad already waiting for me. I ate like a wild animal...I was so hungry after training. I could hear AJ giggling at me, but I didn't care at the moment...my stomach had blocked out all forms of embarrassment at this point. Luckily for me I finished quickly, so I sat back into my chair with a very contented look on my face.

“Ah...much better." I said with a smile. I looked over at Princess Celestia with a grin. "Thanks a lot, princess. That hit the spot."

She giggled and waved a hoof in dismissal. "You are most welcome Rainbow Dash but please, you may simply call me Celestia. There is no need for formality among friends."

I had to admit, it still felt a little strange not having to address the princesses as royalty, but I knew she was right. We weren't just subjects to her anymore, we were friends.

'Now if I could just get to be friends with Spitfire and Soarin, I'd be set.'

We all finished lunch and went our separate ways. The princesses both had work to do with things starting to pick up as far as the war, so they stayed at the palace today. AJ headed towards the training grounds with Dark, while I flew back towards Cloudsdale to finish work.

"Hey Rainbow Dash!" said a voice from behind me. I turned around to see a gray pegasus with a blonde mane and tail flying towards me. I thought it was Derpy at first until I saw her eyes, and then noticed this must be her twin sister Steel had told me about.

I smiled and waved. "Hey...Ditzy, right?"

She nodded and flew closer. "Hey there, Commander Steel told me I should meet you. I hear you're the fastest thing in the air around here."

I couldn't help but puff out my chest a little bit with pride. "Yep, that's me! So what's up, Ditzy?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "Not much. I was just coming over here to ask if you were going to join up."

I nodded. "Of course I am. I wouldn't let my friends go in without me! Besides, I've got a really cool set of armor that Celestia made for me."

Her eyes widened in shock. "You mean Princess Celestia personally made you a suit of armor?"

I nodded again, this time with a little more pride showing. "Yep! It pays to be friends with a princess. Why don't you come by my place? I'll show you." She nodded and we sped off towards my cloud home.

We landed a few minutes later and I opened the door and walked in, Ditzy following me. I leaned down near my couch to stroke Tank's shell and he greeted me with a smile. We then walked to my room and I heard a gasp from behind as my armor came into view. Rarity had been nice enough to donate one of her ponyquins for me to keep it on, and it looked awesome.

"What is this? I've never seen armor like this before..." said the gray mare.

I giggled and walked over to her next to the armor. "It's because it's one-of-a-kind. Celestia said it's made of something called 'magesteel'. It's a magical metal that's stronger than diamonds."

She then frowned. "Okay this is cool and all, but how would you ever fly in this? It must weigh a ton!"

I grinned. "Well why don't you try it on and tell me how heavy it is?"

She nodded and got to putting on the plated armor to her legs, body, head, neck, and stomach. She then looked confused. "It doesn't feel like it weighs anything...what's up with that?"

I giggled. "The princesses put some kind of enchantment on it to where it's not any heavier than clothing. Makes it so that I can protect myself, but still fly fast."

She nodded and removed the armor, placing it back on the ponyquin. "Wow Rainbow Dash, I'm afraid of what you're gonna do to those gryphons."

We shared a laugh and headed back outside for some more flying time. Now that I was getting to know her, Ditzy was pretty cool.

We flew around for a few hours before laying down on a cloud to rest.

Ditzy let out a sigh as she turned to me. "So Dash, what are your thoughts on the commander?"

'Haha...she has no clue! Oh, I'm gonna have some fun with this...'

I shrugged. "I mean Steel's pretty cool. Why, you wanna date him or something?"

She blushed and stuttered out, "N-no, I didn't mean it like that. I mean he's really nice and all, I'm just not in a place in my life for a relationship with anypony right now. Maybe after this war is over, I'll think about it. Besides, our first meeting left me with a little reminder. He's a little scary sometimes," she said while pointing to a scar on her neck.

All of the sudden I found myself angry at Steel. I nearly screamed out, "What did he do to you? Nopony is gonna get away for hurting another pony for no reason!"

She looked at me shocked and placed a hoof on my shoulder. "Dash, calm down. It happened during training, and I learned a good lesson from it. This little mark will always remind me to not underestimate my opponent...no matter who it is. I promise Dash, he did it for a good reason and I don't blame him for it. He had to show me that the mistake I made could have gotten me killed."

I relaxed when she told me of the first day she trained with him, and how he held his sharp horn against her neck...which is how she got the scar. Then I felt like a foal. I knew Steel wouldn't hurt anypony for no reason, it's not in his nature. I had to kept reminding myself that he came from a different world. He came from a world where violence and killing was completely normal. He always told us about how much he hated that about his world, but that didn't mean he wasn't used to it. I let it go when I understood why he did it. Likely he'd have to do similar things to me in my training if I slipped up.

'Ugh...training is gonna suck!'

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

I had decided to take a nap in the gardens after some more training with my spells. Over the past few weeks, I could feel myself slowly getting stronger. I just hoped when the time came that it would be enough. I was drifting in and out of consciousness until I was startled awake by someone laying down next to me. I turned to see Lyra, and I couldn't help but smile and hug her tight. She had been gone longer than she expected because of the carriages shutting down during a slight panic caused by gryphons moving around. Thankfully she was back now, and I was glad she was safe.

I gave her a kiss on her forehead and held her against my chest. "Lyra, I'm so glad you're okay. I missed you...we all did."

She giggled and nuzzled into my chest. "I missed you all too, Steel. Especially you. How have things been?"

I shrugged and smiled. "Eh, not bad. I'm making new spells for this war, Dark is making new armor and weapons, and Vinyl's making new music. Other than that, same old same old."

"Well that's good. Say, do you feel like getting something to eat? I'm starved," she said as her stomach growled. I nodded and we headed out to the city.

I had taken to wearing my royal regalia when in public in Canterlot, as otherwise I would be bombarded with questions from the cityfolk about who I was and whether I was a prince, and so on and so on. The royal wear took care of both of these problems, so I didn't feel weird wearing it around here. Besides, I just loved seeing the looks of surprise whenever I would bring Lyra or my other girls - who the ponies around here considered "common" - out to a nice restaurant or park for the day.

Being a prince does have its perks.

We walked towards a place I had come to enjoy called Blue Surf. The tastes of the place were similar to Japanese and Hawaiian, and because of that I had come here a lot over the time I started staying here. I got to know the owner - an old vivid blue unicorn stallion named Coral Crash - and made his business that much more popular to the nobleponies simply by eating there. He tried a few times to give me a free meal, but I turned him down saying that I wanted to be treated as just another customer. After he got over the whole "royalty" thing, we became fast friends. He reminded me a lot of my late great-grandfather - who interestingly enough was Hawaiian - and the ponies of Canterlot would often find me in my off-time simply enjoying a drink and listening to the old pony's stories of his past. He'd lived a long time, and coincidentally used to live on one the islands south of Equestria before they became sovereign. After I'd become comfortable enough with him to confide in him who I really was and where I was from, we'd swap stories of our lives.

As Lyra and I entered the restaurant, Coral was there to meet us. "Steel! It's great to see you, as always. How ya been, boy?"

I chuckled and shook his hoof. "I've been great, Coral. Sorry I haven't been back in awhile, things have become kinda hectic."

He waved a hoof at me. "It's no problem, Steel. I heard all about what's going on to the north, and I know just how busy that can make you. That's okay though, because I'll always have a place here for you to rest and unwind. You two eat yet?"

I chuckled and shook my head. "Nope, that's why we're here. This is my dear Lyra. It'll be her first time eating here," I said while gesturing to the pale green unicorn next to me.

She stuck out a hoof and shook hooves with Coral. "It's good to meet you, sir. Steel talks about your restaurant a lot, so I figured I'll try it out and see what all the fuss is about."

The aged stallion let out a hearty chuckle and motioned to a booth in the corner. "Well then take a seat. I'm pretty positive you won't be disappointed, young mare."

We nodded and made our way over to the corner booth to sit down. A young white pegasus mare fluttered over and handed us menus as she greeted, "Hello there again prince, it's always a pleasure to have you here. And who's this?" she said while gesturing to Lyra.

I smiled and placed a foreleg around Lyra, hugging her tight. "This is Lyra Heartstrings, my marefriend."

The server smiled and extended a hoof to shake Lyra's. "Well it's nice to meet you Miss Lyra. My name's Pearl. Have the two of you decided on some drinks to start with?"

We both nodded and gave Pearl our orders before she nodded and walked away to get them.

Lyra turned to me with a smile. "You know Steel, this would be like only the second real date we've had."

I chuckled and kissed her forehead. "Does that mean I have to act awkward and stutter in nervousness? I'm not sure I can pull that off."

"No, I'm just saying. Besides, it's nice. With you training so much, I hardly get to spend time with you anymore," she said while nuzzling into my chest.

Pearl returned a moment later with a piña colada for me and a rum-cranberry-pineapple cocktail for Lyra. "Okay you two, are you ready to order?"

I nodded. "Sure are, Pearl. I'll have the grilled ginger haysteak with some kimchi, please. Lyra?" I finished while looking at the unicorn beside me.

"Umm...I don't know, what do you recommend, Steel?" she asked, a little nervous.

I grabbed the menu and scanned it quickly. "Okay, how about the sautèed mushroom soup with tofu and bean sprouts, and then some fried banana and grilled pineapple."

Pearl nodded and finished writing on her pad. "Okay you two, we'll have it out to you in a few minutes. Let me know if there's anything else you need." and with that, she sped off to the kitchen.

Our server returned about ten minutes later with our meals, piping hot and smelling oh so good. I was about to dig in when I noticed Lyra staring at my plate

Lyra leaned over and took a whiff, and scrunched her face up at the smell of the kimchi. "Ugh...what is that Steel?"

I took a small bite, chewed and swallowed, then smiled. "It's fermented cabbage, seaweed, carrots, radish, and onions with all kinds of spices. Trust me, you wouldn't like it. It's an acquired taste."

She shook her head and giggled. "You are going to be brushing your teeth before you kiss me again."

"Well I'll brush them twice if I get to taste those lovely, succulent lips of yours," I said in a very seductive tone.

She blushed madly and turned her eyes to her food and began eating. Her ears perked up and she smiled when she tasted the soup. "By Celestia, this is amazing! Now I feel like I've missed out all these years by never coming here before. I mean I do live in Ponyville, but still."

I chuckled and smiled. "You have missed out. This is the same kind of food I used to eat in my world, minus the meat and fish of course."

She nodded and continued eating, and I did the same to be sure I savored the lovely hot meal before me.

We finished eating in a few minutes and spent the next hour or so sipping drinks and talking with Coral. Lyra was just as interested in his stories as I was, and she was mesmerized when he spoke about how he used to surf and swim in the ocean. I had always loved talking to old people because they always had such great stories and wisdom from life, and Coral Crash was no exception, especially with his life span being many times that of a human's.

Lyra stood up and headed to the washroom, at which point Pearl came by to clean off the table. I chuckled inwardly when she watched Lyra go. "Mmm...that is one fine mare. How did you land that?"

"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" I asked with a huff.

She giggled and shook her head. "You're just one of the goofiest stallions I've ever met, which is saying something."

"Well you're right, but she loves that about me. So do all my other marefriends...princesses included," I said with a smirk.

Her jaw dropped open for a moment before she composed herself. "Wait a minute, you mean to tell me you're in with both princesses? As in not just one, but two?"

I nodded and chuckled. "Yep, guess they just can't resist all of this." I said while gesturing to myself.

Pearl rolled her eyes. "Well I'm not really into stallions so I can't say I agree, but they must see something. Still, you're a good friend so I guess you get points there."

I nodded and stood up to join Lyra as she left the washroom. "Well Pearl, it was good to see you again. I'll be back soon, okay? Stay out of trouble until then."

"Hah, trouble's my middle name." she said with a grin.

"And danger's mine, which is why we get along so well," I finished with a smirk. We waved goodbye to each other and I walked out with Lyra.

We arrived back at the palace in the late afternoon, and the sun was just about to touch the horizon. We both trotted up to my room and she lay down on my bed. Now that I'd had a few hours to let it marinate, the alcohol and kimchi was starting to leave a bad taste, so I quickly showered and brushed my teeth before stepping out of the washroom. I grabbed my brushes and gave my mane, tail, and coat a quick brushing before laying down next to Lyra.

She rolled over and straddled on top of me with a mischievous grin before leaning down to kiss me. I had forgotten just how soft her lips were so I savored it, pressing back into her which caused her to moan a little. She then pulled back and winked before leaning down again to continue.

"You have got to teach me that spell, Steel," said Lyra, a large grin plastered on her face.

I shook my head and grinned back. "No can do, hun. Trade secret."

She pouted cutely and looked up at me. "Oh fine then. Was worth a try."

We lay sprawled out on the bed next to each other, trying to cool down in the now unbearably hot room. I heard a knock on the door a moment later and the door opened to reveal Pinkie, Dash, Twi, and Celly. I smiled at all of them and beckoned them over to me. All but Celestia bounded over like little playful fillies and jumped on the bed, making me bounce up off it in response. Celly giggled and strode over to me, laying down on the other side of Lyra and I.
The sun princess looked at me and smiled. "Luna has night court tonight, so she won't be able to rest until around three in the morning."

I nodded. "You know after this war, I'd like you to train me in these royal duties and such so I can take over for you two sometimes. I may not be able to raise or lower the moon or sun, but I could at least sit through court so that you two could get more time to yourselves."

She nodded and smiled. "I was thinking the very same thing. Yes, that can wait though...your training of yourself and the guards is more important at the moment."

There was another trio of knocks on the door, and the door opened to show Vinyl. She walked in and closed the door behind her, before running and jumping on top of me. I responded with an "oof" and she giggled. I reached up and started to take her glasses off before she stopped me.

"Hey Vi, why don't you take your glasses off? I think you have beautiful eyes," I said with a gentle smile.

She looked nervous for a moment but then slumped a little and sighed. "Alright then, I guess I can do it around all of you. You're friends after all." She then proceeded to remove her shades and levitated them to the dresser across the room. She held her eyes closed for a moment before opening them, eliciting a gasp from everypony but myself and Lyra. She winced and started to hide her face in her hooves before a pink hoof stopped her.

"Don't hide, Vinyl. I think you have pretty eyes too. I like them a lot," Pinkie said in an uncharacteristically soft voice.

The other mares agreed and Vinyl broke out in a relaxed smile. "Thanks, all of you. I'm just a little self-conscious about them is all. I got teased a lot in school for these babies."

I reached up and booped her on the nose with a chuckle. "You don't have to be self-conscious around us, Vi. I'm from an entirely different world, but they all accept me. Just because you have eyes that are a rare color doesn't mean we'd ostracize you or something because of it, okay?"

She smiled and leaned down, planting a kiss on my cheek. "Thanks Steel...I needed that."

I smirked at her. "You did that wrong, Vi."

She looked at me, utterly confused. "Did what wrong, Steel?"

I grabbed the back of her head and pulled her down to me. "This..." and with that, I planted a soft kiss on her lips. Her eyes rolled back in her head as her eyes closed, and she sighed happily. I released her a few seconds later and she sat up, smiling.

"It's about time," said a giggling Lyra beside me. "The tension was so high I could cut it with a knife."

I nodded. "Yeah I was gonna wait for her to make the first move, but I had to take matters into my own hooves...again."

We spent most of the rest of the night talking before one by one they all started to fall asleep. Before I knew it, it was just Vinyl, Pinkie, and myself left awake. Vinyl was listening to music and Pinkie was snuggling against me like she always did. I tried so hard to stay awake, but I felt my eyes working against me. Before I knew it I was in darkness, and I felt myself fall into a peaceful slumber.

The Threshold of Hell

Chapter 23: The Threshold of Hell

I was having a wonderful dream about walking around the world's largest mint candy store. Pinkie Pie was there and everything was going great, until...

"Steel, wake up!"

I nearly jumped out of my skin, and proceeded to fall backwards off of the bed. Luckily the back of my head broke my fall with a resounding *thunk* against the granite floor. I heard what could only be Celestia giggling at me, and I just groaned in annoyance and a little pain. I opened my eyes to see said princess standing in front of me with a massive grin on her face, obviously holding in torrents of laughter.

"Well dear, glad I could wake up in an entertaining way." I said with no small amount of annoyance.

She just rolled her eyes before walking over and nuzzling me. 'Dammit...I can't stay mad when she does that.' She saw my expression of frustration drop, and she giggled again.

"Alright fine Celly, you win." I mumbled softly before giving her a kiss on the cheek. "So what do you need me for?"

Her demeanor suddenly turned serious. "Steel, my scouts have reported that the gryphons look as if they're preparing to attack. There has been a lot of movement along the northern border with the Gryphon Kingdoms, and I fear for my ponies. I have already dispatched Captain Armor as well as a few more of your guards to the front line. I need you to join them in case this takes a turn for the worse."

I did not question her any further and immediately headed to the smithy to meet my brother.

"Hey Mace, what's up man?" I said as I approached the working dragon.

He smiled and wiped some sweat from his brow and turned to me. "Not much, dude. What's going on?"

"Well, the princess is sending me off to the northern border. Apparently those gryphons might be attacking any time now. You got those weapons and armor ready for me?" I said in a serious tone.

He nodded and walked back to the storage room, returning a moment later with a suit of gleaming armor. "Alright dude, so here's what I've done: I figured that you'd like to be able to fly while wearing this, so I used blue fire to temper the titanium. It's lighter and thinner than any armor I've made before, but don't let that fool ya...this stuff isn't going to be breaking anytime soon. All the same, I've tried to limit the armor to your vital areas of your body as well as your wings." He pointed to the wing armor. "This stuff is gonna slow you down a bit, but if one of those gryphons takes a swipe at your wings, you'll be glad you have it. You'll notice I added razor wing tips so that you can use it for offense as well as defense. Lastly, I added a magesteel horn cap for you, courtesy of the princess. I've heard stories of how much it hurts to get your horn broken off or even just fractured. This cap will still let you cast spells while protecting your horn." He then turned around and grabbed my swords and placed them in the scabbards on my back. "Alright dude, looks like you're set."

I shook my head. "Nah, I got to add some enchantments to this stuff first."

He showed an expression of mock offense. "What, is my work not good enough?"

"Nah dude it's fine, I just have some things I want to tweak." I said with a chuckle.

He raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Okay, what did you have in mind?"

"Well I was thinking an armor enchantment that will make the armor lighter as well as one that gives the illusion of a large frosty aura around me. Then, enchants on the swords to make them inflict a very large amount of pain." I said with a smirk.

He still looked confused. "Explain please..."

I rolled my eyes. "Alright, the armor enchants are pretty self-explanatory. The lighter armor will let me be faster, and the aura illusion will make me look more intimidating. As far as the swords, I don't want to use them unless I absolutely have to...and when I do, I want them to inflict more pain than damage. Hopefully the immense pain will make an enemy give up so that I don't actually have to do any major damage to them. War or not, I'd like to try and keep from killing anyone."

He sighed and shook his head. "I know you made a promise to that Lux chick, but do you really think you're going to be able to avoid that? Equestria or not, a war is still a war."

"Yeah I know, believe me. Soldiers always say that the first time you kill someone, a little part of yourself dies with the one you kill. I'm pretty sure I could handle that if it came to it. What I'm afraid of is how the ponies would react to having to watch another creature die, by my own hoof or theirs." I said glumly.

He nodded and started to suit up. "Well I'm coming with you. I know the captain is there, but I don't know if the rest of those ponies are gonna be ready for this, and both of us had martial arts training in the past. I don't know what good it's gonna do you now, but my body layout is still pretty much the same."

I simply nodded and finished getting ready while he left to the back room again. After about twenty minutes he returned, wearing a black suit of armor that made him look like a tank. The armor was the same style as mine though, so I assumed it was also lighter than it looked. He was wearing his Yamato and Force Edge replicas as his weapons, and he looked so badass. I was just glad I wouldn't be the one fighting him. After taking about an hour to place the enchantments on my gear, - as well as a lightening enchantment on his - we took to the skies.

We arrived about twenty minutes later to find a batallion of around four-hundred very nervous pegasus and unicorn soldiers. Shining Armor was walking around his soldiers trying to reassure them as best he could, but I could tell it wasn't really working. None of these ponies had ever fought in a war before, and I could tell they were scared. When the group caught sight of us, their morale improved greatly. Many of them relaxed, and a few even sported smiles.

"Commander it's good to see you, although I wish it were under better circumstances." said Captain Armor with a smile.

I nodded and smiled back. "Well met, captain. What news have you received from the scouts?"

He gestured to the mountain range in the distance. "The gryphons are gathering in the mountains. In all likelihood, they're watching us right now. We have no idea why they haven't attacked yet."

I gazed at the mountain range and frowned. "Captain, no smart enemy is going to attack without gathering intel first. That's why they're watching us. They want to see what they're up against before they make a move. More than likely they're going to attack when we appear the most vulnerable...when we make camp and rest. So instead, we'll do that now and sleep in shifts. From what I've read, gryphons have much better sight in the dark than we do, so they'll likely attack then. We're going to wait until nightfall and act as if we're going to bed, and I'm betting that's when they'll attack. But of course since we know they're going to attack, we can be ready for them." I pointed to the hills surrounding us. "We’re going to send most of the troops away to hide in the hills and wait for my signal, which will be a silver flare. The rest of us are going to be the bait." I pointed to Shining Armor. "Captain, you're taking field command of the unicorn elite." I then pointed to Ditzy. "Private Ditzy, I'm issuing a field promotion to corporal. You'll take command of the aerial troops."

Ditzy gasped and sputtered. "B-but Commander, I'm not ready for this! I have no idea what I'm doing!"

I smiled and patted her shoulder. "Corporal Ditzy, you know the battle formations as well as fighting tactics like you do your own hooves. I personally trained you with everything you need to know. I don't place my trust in a pony if I don't know if she's capable of doing the job. You can do this, Ditzy."

At my praise and belief in her, a look of fierce determination washed over her and she nodded and saluted. "Yes sir." She then flared her wings and turned to the pegusi around her. "Troops, you heard the commander. Move out!"

A large number of the pegusi flew off with Ditzy towards Ponyville before banking west towards Froggy Bottom Bog. I then turned to the captain and nodded. "Shining Armor, I'll need your help in this and that of your unicorn soldiers. The gryphons are a lot smarter than I thought, and so might have found a way to avoid or get around magic. Do not underestimate them, captain. Rely on your weapons if you find your magic is ineffective and remember to hit the flight muscles on their backs if you have a clear shot. Pinion is going to be is going to be very effective, since if you do it right it'll prevent them from flying." I then closed my eyes and sighed. "I'm not going to lie to you, captain, this is going to be more dangerous than the changeling attack on Canterlot. Gryphons are stronger and faster than us, so we'll have to outsmart them." I turned to the rest of the unicorns watching me. "Rely on technique, not power and you'll be fine. Don't fight alone, look for your comrades and fight together to overcome. One more thing..." I said before sighing again. "Keep your distance from me. The spells I might have to use could cause harm to all of you as well as the enemy...so no matter what, stay with the main group."

The group was a little unnerved, but nodded and took off, leaving just a few soldiers plus myself and my brother.

"What about me, dude?" said the black dragon.

I patted him on the shoulder. "There's no one else I'd trust to stay by my side...I need you here. Things are gonna get hairy if the plan doesn't work, and I'll need you to cover me. You got my back?"

He nodded. "I got you, man."

"Alright Mace. Get some sleep, you're gonna need it." I said with a smile.

He nodded and headed over to a tent to rest. The rest of the remaining soldiers followed suit, which left me to keep watch.

Perspective change - Ditzy Doo

I took my group back towards Ponyville before banking to the West towards Froggy Bottom Bog. From here there was no view of the mountains, which also meant we couldn't be seen either. Our mission had now become one of stealth, so we landed on the outskirts of the bog and walked through the trees the rest of the way to the hills surrounding the camp.

"Corporal!" said a voice from behind me.

I turned to see a young white pegasus colt with a nervous look on his face. "Yes private, what is it?" It still felt kind of weird being a superior officer all of the sudden, but if Steelbreaker had faith in me that was good enough.

The colt shifted nervously and spoke with an equally nervous voice of inquiry, "Are you sure this is the best thing to do? I mean, it just seems that we're out in the open here. Vulnerable even."

I nodded. "Yes private that's true, but I trust the commander's judgment. We're outnumbered by a superior force, so we can't take them head-on. We have to be sneaky and cunning. There's a risk with any battle, but if we all do our job we'll make it through this." I then addressed the rest of the group. "All of you, remember your training. Follow the techniques and don't lose focus and we'll all make it out of this alive, I promise you. Now come on, we're almost there."

In a few more minutes we had reached the hilly area that Steelbreaker had gestured towards, and I was happy to see that it gave us a clear view of the entire camp as well as the air. It was the perfect vantage point to see exactly what's happening. I turned to a petite mare by the name of Silvershine. "Silver, you're going to be our scout. You're the fastest of us, so if anything should happen and we need to get info to the princess, that job goes to you." She nodded and I looked to the black stallion next to her. "Nightwing we all know how well you can see in the dark, so I'm going to need those eyes of yours when the light starts to fail. We have perfect placement here...the only thing that could mess this up is if they were to sneak up from behind us. That's where you come in. We have another four or so hours before nightfall, so get some sleep. You've got watch tonight." He nodded and started setting up a small tent.

It was safe to assume that Steelbreaker was right - these gryphons weren't going to attack during broad daylight, so other than two scouts keeping watch, the rest of us rested and relaxed for the inevitable battle to come. I tried to keep a clear head, but my mind kept wandering to thoughts of the commander. I had tried to avoid it for awhile now, but there was no denying I had a bit of a crush on my commanding officer. I pushed the thoughts aside again however - now was not the time for that. Maybe after the war is over and peace has returned, but right now losing focus could cost myself and my troops their lives. That was something Steelbreaker taught me. Even though at first I questioned his training style, he proved himself knowledgeable and caring. He was stern and sometimes - harsh even - when he trained me, but I realized I had become stronger because of it. He wanted me to survive...he wanted all of us to survive, and he trusted me to make sure I did my part to make sure that happened.

I wasn't going to let him down.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

It had been an hour or two since our arrival, and I was sitting alone near the rear of the camp, keeping watch for any movement with a smile. Shortly after my brother had gone to get some sleep, I had noticed a small gryphon - who I assumed was one of their scouts - flying out in the open towards the mountains quickly. No doubt to advise his superiors of the change that's taken place in our camp. I couldn't help but grin.

"So, it seems everything's going according to plan." said a voice beside me.

I nodded. "Yeah, so far." I looked over to see a young female gryphon sitting beside me with a smirk on her face. I immediately jumped to my feet and cast a levitate spell on her, rendering her helpless in my grasp. "It was very foolish coming here alone. Do you have a death wish?" I growled.

I felt a twinge of regret when I saw fear in her eyes. "Whoa there, I don't want to fight! Please don't kill me!"

I probed her immediate thoughts and discovered she was telling the truth...at least about this. I released her, but still stood alert. "Explain yourself, gryphon...now. What's your name and what are you doing here?"

She gulped in nervousness, but nodded. "My name's Gilda, and I don't want any part in this war. Please believe me, I don't have anything against any of you ponies. I'm not part of the gryphon army and I don't want to hurt anyone!"

'Wait a minute...' "Gilda? Like Rainbow Dash's ex Gilda?" I asked, now thoroughly confused.

She suddenly looked sad, but nodded. "Yeah, that's me. How do you know Dash?"

I couldn't help but smirk now. "Well, she's my marefriend."

"Oh...so she told you about me, huh?" she said, visibly worried now.

I shook my head. "Not really. She only said that you two used to be really close a long time ago, nothing more."

She seemed a bit relieved, but her nervousness was now replaced by guilt. "Yeah...that was kinda my fault. I acted like such a..." she trailed off, seeming to be searching for the word.

"If you're trying not to curse, don't worry about it. Cursing doesn't offend me." I stated dryly.

She nodded. "Well, I was such a bitch to her and all her friends. I was just so hurt that after a year of not seeing each other she seemed to just have moved on with new friends, a new life...new everything. I felt like old news, and I guess I kinda flipped a little." she finished, now looking at the ground. I couldn't help but notice a few tears dropping to the ground.

Sincere tears were a weakness of mine...I couldn't stand to see her cry. No matter what she'd done in the past, I was prepared to help her if she was willing to change. I sat down next to her and placed a hoof on her shoulder. She looked at me incredulously and I smiled. "Gilda if you're really as sorry as you seem to be, you should be telling that to Dash and her friends. I'm not the one of the ones you hurt, they are." She seemed to accept that and I continued. "Tell you what...if you're really serious about making amends to Dashie and her friends, I'll vouch for you." She smiled but I got close in her face and she stepped back. "But know this: if you return to your old ways, I'll be the one that personally kicks your sorry ass out of here...you get me?"

She calmed down and nodded. "Yeah...I got ya. I know I kinda lost Dash for myself, but I miss her so much as a friend. I want to...no, I need to make this right."

I removed my hoof and nudged her with a smile. "Well, I'll help you out if you're serious about this." I then withdrew to a stern look. "However, we're in the middle of what might be a battle soon. I'm not sure how you got to me without any of the other soldiers seeing you, but you should get out of here until we're done. Hmm...I have an idea. Wait one moment."

I then made contact with Celestia. “Celly, it's me. Things are pretty quiet around here right now, but I'm worried about the rest of Ponyville. Send a few scouts to keep an eye on the wilds and mountains to the east. I'm just worried this might not be the entire force for the initial attack.”

I am glad that everything is okay, Steel...and it is good to hear from you. Very well, I will send a few of my best pegusi scouts to patrol that area.”

Thanks Celly. One more thing - a young gryphon by the name of Gilda has found me. Do you know of her?”

I recognize the name, yes. If I remember correctly she was the young gryphon that Twilight wrote to me about in one of her past friendship reports. From the way I understand it, she acted rather ill-tempered towards the ponies of Ponyville, specifically Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy.”

That's her. She has come to me as a broken soul, Celly. She wishes to make amends with those she's wronged, but I fear at the moment my soldiers may mistake her for an enemy, and there is no safe haven nearby. Would you mind coming to collect her quickly so we can address this when the battle is done?”

Very well, Steel. I trust you've explained to her that there will be no tolerance for her previous behavior, yes?”

To a degree, yes I have. Thanks Celly, I owe you.”

Yes Steel, you do owe me. I'll figure out your payment later.' I could almost feel the smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth, and with that she closed contact.

I turned to Gilda and smiled. "Alright Gilda, Princess Celestia is coming to get you. She'll keep you safe until we can handle this."

She gasped in shock. "The P-Princess? Are you s-sure that's a good idea?"

I nodded and smiled. "Yes Gilda. I've explained the situation to her and she's going to help you out at my request. You'll stay in the palace until I return, and then we'll take care of this all, okay? Now then I'm sure I don't have to tell you that you need to compose yourself with the utmost respect for the rulers of Ponyville. That means bow unless told otherwise, don't speak unless spoken to, and for the love of Celestia, don't purposefully insult anyone there."

"I think I'll be too afraid to do anything like that. I'll be good, I promise. By the way I never caught your name." she said with a small smile.

I grinned responded, "My name's Steelbreaker."

She gasped and said, “Prince Steelbreaker!”

She started to bow but I stopped her. "It's just a title, Gilda. No bowing to me please." She nodded and stood back up. It was at that moment that a flash of light blinded me, and I saw Celestia standing before me with a smile on her face.

She walked over and nuzzled me affectionately, and I returned the gesture. "Hello Steel. This must be Gilda, right?" she said while pointing at the young gryphon by my side. I nodded and Gilda proceeded to bow.

Celestia giggled. "Arise young Gilda. You will come with me to the palace. I have already prepared a room in the royal quarters for you." She then grimaced a bit. "I also know that your kind are carnivores. While it turns my stomach a bit, I understand that you cannot change what you are. There is a lake in the mountains to the northeast of Canterlot with plentiful amounts of fish for you to hunt."

The young gryphon nodded and smiled. "Thank you so much your highness. I'll make it a point to make up for my past here. I promise."

Celestia then smiled and placed her hoof on Gilda's shoulder. "I sense the sincerity in your heart. You are welcome here since you intend to repent and make amends for your past misdeeds." The white alicorn then turned to me and smiled. "Alright Steel, I will take care of her until you return." She then looked worried and kissed me on the cheek. "Come back to us, Steel."

I nodded and smiled. "I Pinkie promise, Celly. Take care of yourself. Gods willing we'll be back soon...all of us."

My beautiful princess then stood beside the gryphon and smiled one last time before disappearing in another flash of light. I looked upon the horizon as my vision cleared to find that the sun was just barely kissing the horizon.

Oh, this was going to be fun...

Into the Maw of Oblivion

Chapter 24: Into the Maw of Oblivion

"Woe to you oh earth and sea, for the devil sends the Beast with wrath because he knows the time is short.

Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the Beast, for it is a human number.

Its number...is six-hundred and sixty-six."

I found myself sitting alone again as the sun sank lower below the horizon, quoting a line from one of my favorite songs. Even with everything that was riding on this battle - the future of Equestria and my life - I found myself strangely excited. I found it strange that with threat of death of myself and my comrades, I was not afraid.

I was ready.

As the sun finally passed the horizon and the moon rose behind me, I stood up and headed to my tent, feigning turning in for the night. I then made contact with all of the soldiers, my brother, and Shining Armor. “Alright everyone, this is it. Prepare for contact. Remember ambush groups, watch for my flare before attacking. We have to draw them into a bottleneck or we could lose this battle. Ready weapons and wait for my command.” I then closed contact with everyone except for my brother. “Alright Mace, I'm counting on you. Find the commanding field officer and TAKE HIM DOWN!” Satisfied with my orders, I then readied myself for the inevitable. As the last vestiges of the day died to make way for the night, I couldn't help but smile. I had reached the epitome of my purpose.

Protect and defend, by any means necessary.

We waited...and waited...and waited some more. Some twenty minutes had passed and I began to doubt my strategy. It was at that moment I heard the soft, almost inaudible sound of wingbeats. Had I not been actively listening, I would have mistaken the sound for wind. 'It's a good thing we're prepared or they would have slaughtered us.' I smirked and focused my magic on my voice, twisting and manipulating it into something feral...something dark. I then let loose a loud, guttural growl. I heard a few gasps and I could now almost taste their newfound apprehension in the air outside, so I ever so calmly stepped out to be met with over a hundred gryphons dressed in full armor. They eyed me with confusion before one stepped forward in more ornate armor than the rest, as well as a scarf. 'A field officer. Well that was easy.'

"So, you've decide to bring yourself to us? That saves me the trouble of having to come get you. Have you come to surrender? It would be smart of you to do so." said the officer gryphon with a sadistic grin.

I made contact with my group. “Alright camp team, get ready. On my command...” I then looked up and smiled at the gryphon in front of me. "Arrogance is bred from ignorance...and your ignorance will get your fellow gryphons and yourself killed one day. Stand down, and you will not be harmed. I'll only ask once."

The officer barked a laugh and his troops joined him. After a minute or so of hearty laughter, it died down and he looked at me with that same sadistic grin. "I do enjoy when my prey has a sense of humor. Somehow it makes the meal taste that much better." The officer then lunged at me and embedded his claws in my shoulder.
I winced a little in pain, but didn't move. I then let show my own grin of sadism and spoke in a dangerously soft voice, "You should have run when you had the chance..."

I focused on my illusion enchantment, activating it, and the air around me became filled with eerily gentle falling snow. The gryphon released me and stepped back to his troops with a look of confusion. I then focused Frostrender's power into my wings, feeling the sensation of cold flowing all throughout the feathers. I flared my wings and flapped hard, releasing a high-speed barrage of stinging sleet into the eyes of the entire front row of gryphons.

I then made contact with my team. “Okay...NOW!”

I heard the clopping of hooves and flapping of wings from everywhere, and was pleased to see my entire group converging on the much larger, but surprised small army of gryphons. While the officer gryphon was momentarily focused on the ambush, I drew my swords that I'd affectionately named Agni and Rudra with magic. I dashed forward and struck with the reverse-blade swords at the neck of the leader. He saw me coming and dodged just in time, but the soldier behind him wasn't so lucky. The unlucky gryphon fell to the ground writhing in pain as the intense feeling of burning and electrocution overcame his body's pain receptors. I then charged headlong into the group, slashing my swords all the way, hitting those unfortunate to get in my way.

Perspective change - Darkflight

I stepped out of my tent to find myself surrounded by gryphons everywhere. Drew was fighting a large group of them like a maniac since they were surprised by our ambush. However, these things were well-trained, and were already recovering to defend themselves...even worse, their reinforcements were already pouring in. These gryphons were big and powerful, easily larger and stronger than a normal pony. Still, I towered over them and knew I had them beat in strength.

That and the fact that feathers catch fire very easily...

Three of them spotted me and one of them turned to his buddies shouting, "DRAGON!"

I just smiled a toothy grin and shot flames out of my nostrils. Before any of the three in front of me could get away, I drew Force Edge from my back and slapped all three of them with the flat of the blade, knocking them to the ground. I then grabbed the one closest to me and threw him effortlessly into his two friends. As the three lay there disoriented, I sliced a wing off of each of them. They all screeched in pain and started to crawl away, so I let them go...they were crippled now, and likely would not want to risk losing any other body parts. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my back, and turn around to see a gryphon tearing at the soft skin around my spines with its razor-sharp claws. I growled, sheathed my sword, and bathed my hands in a blue flame - hotter than molten rock, but harmless to the dragon that casts it. I reached around and tore the gryphon from my back, then proceeded to rain flaming punches on the body of the attacker, leaving burnt feathers and flesh wherever my attacks hit. The creature howled in pain and tried to fly away, so I shook my hands and extinguished the flames, then grabbed the fleeing gryphon and slammed him to the ground...hard.

It was then that I saw Drew getting overpowered, and I was blinded by a bright silver flare shot into the sky, lighting up the battleground.

Perspective change - Ditzy Doo

My troops and I had been watching the battle unfold and were shocked to see a large group of gryphons flying down from the mountain. It was then that we all saw the commander's signal.
I turned to my troops. "Alright, you all know what you have to do. We are to establish air superiority. If it's flying, get it to the ground and make sure it stays there. Ready? Move!" I shouted, and we took to the night sky.

We arrived upon the field of battle and immediately attacked the gryphons in the air. Luckily more of them were on the ground than in the air, so we used our superior air numbers to take them down quickly. They were stronger, but we were quicker...and because of the commander's strategy, we caught them by surprise again. I flew as fast as I could and slammed all four hooves into the head of the first gryphon I came across. He was dazed, but not down.

'By Celestia these things are tough!'

The gryphon turned towards me and snarled, then lunged. I barely had time to move before its claws slashed at where I was just half a second ago. The gryphon lunged at me again, and so I bucked the approaching taloned foot as hard as I could. I heard a satisfying *CRACK* and a scream of pain, and I looked back to see the foot bent at a very awkward angle. I winced a bit just from looking at it, and in that second the creature was joined by two others. 'This isn't good...I can't fight three of them at once!' I prepared to fly off as fast as I could, but was stopped by a massive gout of orange flames engulfing the gryphons in front of me. The three that were about to attack me were covered in flames, and fell to the ground screaming. I looked down to see where the flames had come from, only to find a tall black dragon wearing armor. He smiled and gave a small salute before rushing towards where the commander was.

We were stopped by a large pack of gryphons, and we proceeded to fight our way free. The battle went on and on like this for what seemed like hours, and I could tell that we were massively outnumbered. Even with our ambush tactics, there were just too many of them and not enough of us. We were slowly losing this battle.

I turned to Silvershine and yelled as loud as I could at her, "Silver, get a message to the princess! Northern border is falling!" She nodded and sped off as fast as she could towards Canterlot. I then turned my attention back to the enemy, and fought free of most of them, with the dragon's help of course. After clearing some of the area so we could move, the two of us headed towards a large group of gryphons circling and attacking something...

I followed the dragon only to find some sixty or so gryphons circling a silver armored alicorn. He was bleeding from a cut along his face and many more covering his legs, as well as what looked like a bite mark on the small patch of his neck that was unprotected.

He saw us coming towards him and he shook his head. "No, get back! Get as far away as you can!"

I couldn't leave him...he wouldn't leave me. I was about to fly to him to help, but a large clawed hand held me back...it was the dragon. He looked at me with sad eyes and shook his head.

He then yelled out in a loud voice, "All troops, full retreat! Clear the area!"

My group as well as Captain Armor's all began a full retreat, and all of the gryphons began to turn their attention to our commander. I was torn...I had a bad feeling that Steelbreaker was about to do something stupid.

Perspective change - Steelbreaker

It wasn't enough. We just weren't prepared enough for this, and I could see we were losing. My arrogance had already cost us lives, and I had vastly underestimated the sheer ferocity of these gryphons. Even with the help of our ambushes, there were just not enough of us to hold back wave after wave of them. They were an unending tide, and I knew trying to stop them all would only end up getting more of us killed...and the forty we had already lost was too many already. I couldn't let them through though...their next destination would be Canterlot or Ponyville...

I couldn't let that happen. I knew what I had to do.

I focused on my Element and brought it to the surface, donning the armor after so long. I felt the surge of power flowing from within me, but I knew this wouldn't be like the past. The armor was literally sucking the life out of me...and I only had one chance at this. I focused on the ambient magic in the air as I fought the gryphons around me and drew as much as the magic into my body as I could. The gryphons stopped attacking and stared at me with confusion. I couldn't help but let out a sad chuckle...by the time they figured out what was happening, it would be too late.

'I'm so sorry, Celly. I have to break my promise.'

Perspective change - Darkflight

The gray pegasus and I were floating high above the battleground now, too high for her to see what's going on, but with my sharpened dragon senses I could see perfectly. I sensed something was happening and I felt something in the air I didn't recognize. It felt like static, and I could feel it moving towards a point below us...towards Drew. My eyes widened in realization at the possibility of what was happening.

'No...he better fucking not be!'

...but he was.

I knew exactly what he was doing, though I'd never seen a spell like this before. This is why he told us to get away...he wasn't planning on making it back.

It was like a train wreck...and I couldn't look away. I saw a glittering silvery aura start to form around the battlefield, like when I had trained with him...but the aura was different. It was brimming with energy crackling through the air like lightning. I then began to actually see waves of pulsing energy start to gather around him, and the next second...there was a deafening silence.

A massive wave of energy was then released in every direction, so I grabbed the pegasus mare and flew as fast and as far as I could. I chanced a look back and saw that everything the wave touched disintegrated into dust. I then found myself backed against a mountain with nowhere to go...but before the wave reached us, it dissipated.

"No...no no no no no..." I choked out. I bolted towards the area that once held the camp, only to find barren earth. Where there used to be trees and grass and little bushes, there was now nothing but dirt. As I flew down towards the epicenter of the "explosion", I saw a tall blue armored alicorn standing next to a motionless silver stallion's body.

Perspective change - Celestia

I had been pacing for hours after I had left Steel. I couldn't address cases in court in my current state, so I simply used the excuse that I was busy with wartime duties. The nobleponies bought it, thankfully. Luna as well as all of the Elements had joined me in my study, as well as Lyra, Vinyl Scratch, and even Steel's mother and sister. They were all not much better off than I, with Steel's mother actually being worse off. She was wracked with worry and stress, and while I had yet to have a foal of my own, I could understand her feelings of worry...for I was feeling them myself.

We were interrupted by a guard knocking on the door. "Princess, you have a scout back from the front lines. She says it's urgent."

I nodded. "Very well, send her in please."

The guard nodded and stepped aside to reveal a petite chrome-white pegasus. She was breathing with difficulty and her armor was stained with droplets of blood. The scout bowed to me and then looked up...and I could see the sadness and fear in her eyes.

"Private Silvershine, report. What news do you bring?" I asked.

She saluted me and sat down. "Princess Celestia, I bring word from the northern border from Corporal Ditzy Doo. The border is falling."

I blinked in disbelief. "I-is that all private?" I said, my voice betraying my emotions.

She nodded and left. I then heard what sounded like sobs from outside the door, and I wasn't the only pony who noticed either. All the ponies in my study were now much more worried, and I could tell by their facial expressions.

I stood tall and looked to my sister, not being able to keep a tear falling from my eye. "Luna, I need to you stay here and look after things. I must go and see what is happening. I promise I will be back soon." She looked about to protest, but closed her mouth and nodded. Without another word I focused upon where I had been informed the military camp was and disappeared in a flash of light.

After falling through the void I reappeared in what was once a beautiful and vibrant green field...only to find a barren wasteland. 'What has happened here?' I took a look around and noticed something in the distance...figures approaching through the dust cloud. I squinted and as they got closer, they began to take the shape of a tall dragon, an alicorn, and a pegasus. I recognized the dragon as Darkflight and noticed he was carrying something. However, it wasn't until he got closer that I became very confused at the sight. The avatar of winter was walking with him, and the dragon was carrying...

Oh gods no...

Perspective change - Darkflight

I had always prided myself on being the tough badass, but at this moment I didn't care about that. I was crying openly as I walked towards the shocked princess of the sun, with a lifeless body in my arms - Drew's body. Looking at the princess' face nearly made me sick from how much pain was in it. I wanted to say something to her, anything, but no words came to me. There was nothing to be said about this.

My only brother was dead...and it was my fault.

As I stepped in front of Celestia, I fell to my knees in sobs of sorrow, grief...every sad emotion there was. I lay down the body at her hooves and proceeded to cry like a baby. The princess stood there with a look of disbelief, pain, anger and many others all at once.

"He Pinkie promised..." she whispered, just barely audible.

She was silent for a few seconds longer before she collapsed on the ground, shaking in silent sobs. She continued like this for a few moments before she suddenly let out a loud cry of pure agony and sorrow, one so great it shook the mountainside. Had I not been there, I would have thought someone was murdering her...but no, I was there. I stood up and ignored my own grief for a moment, and embraced the bawling alicorn in my arms. She leaned her head against my shoulder and cried harder than I'd ever thought possible. Frostrender stood there a moment longer watching us, before he stepped forward.

"Princess Celestia and Darkflight, I am so sorry for this loss. I tried to stop it...but there was nothing I could do. He was driven to protect all of you by any means necessary. I did not even think he was capable of something like this..." he said with a sad sigh.

I hugged the princess tighter and sighed. "None thought he was, Frost. Knowing him like I did, I don't think even he thought he was. That doesn't change the fact that he's gone now...and it's my fault..."

Celestia suddenly pulled back and punched me in the chest with force. "Don't ever say that, Darkflight. You stood by him in this...and you will be remembered as a hero for your bravery in the face of immeasurable odds," her voice began to crack and falter, "...as will he."

I didn't deserve this...he didn't deserve this...

Perspective change - Luna

I had lost my modesty nearly ten minutes ago when I suddenly could not hold back tears from flowing. I could not explain why, but I felt immense misery and I could not help but cry.

Something was very wrong.

I stood up and prepared to take flight to check on my sister, only to be stopped by the sight I beheld when I stepped out onto the balcony. There, flying towards me was my sister, looking more broken than I'd ever seen her. Her mane had lost most of its color, instead becoming dull shades of gray, and her eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying. Behind her I saw Frostrender flying with an equally sad expression. I was confused as to why Steel would be in that form...until I saw what was behind him.

It was Darkflight, carrying Steel's body.

My mind went blank...I could not believe this...I would not believe this. This has to be a bad dream, this has to be some sort of trick. I was having no trouble denying it and it came much easier than I expected...until I saw his face.

That smile...that same soft smile that he gave me the first time he told me he loved me was plastered on his face.

I froze in...fear? I became numb, I had so many emotions running through me all at once that I could not feel any of them. As they all landed on the balcony I almost unconsciously stepped aside. Collective gasps were heard from the entrance of Tia and Frostrender...and silence upon the entrance of Darkflight.

I turned towards the room to look upon the occupants. There was no sound...only a pregnant silence hung in the air. A moment later, Steel's mother and sister simultaneously broke into deep, choking sobs of anguish. The rest of the room followed a moment later.

I could no longer fool myself...I could no longer escape. The realization hit me as if my moon itself had fallen upon my head.

Steelbreaker - my love - had been killed...

Somewhere, as I retreated into the confines of my own mind, I could hear sobbing cries...my cries.

Author's Notes:

Song choice for this battle scene was: Mega Man X8 'Winged Reploid (Revelation)'

Impractical Sacrifice

Chapter 25: Impractical Sacrifice

Perspective change – Frostrender

This was wrong in every sense of the word. Through my own compassion, I was forced to watch as Steelbreaker's loved ones broke – mind and soul – because of his death. My immortal heart was softened, and I could not help but let my own tears flow.

It had been two days since his great sacrifice. A small simple ceremony was to be held in the main square of the town of Ponyville to honor those lost in just the first battle…as well as the loss of the prince. There were a great many questions asked in regards to his sacrifice for this world…for his new home. Questions were asked ranging from why he would do such a thing all the way to why a prince would even be on the battlefield in the first place, but none could be answered. As the ceremony started, I strode forth to the podium to address the crowd.

"Citizens of Ponyville, I am Frostrender. For those who do not know me, I am the avatar of winter and ice, and I am…was a part of Prince Steelbreaker." I said with a solemn expression. I cleared my throat before continuing in a powerful yet soothing voice, "This is a great loss for us all. Whether close to him or not, he made an impression on all of us, even for those who did not know him personally. He gave his life to protect you…all of you. Now however, I fear this sacrifice was too costly. I see the pain it has caused, though lives were saved." I looked beside me at Steelbreaker's mother, sister, and brother. "When a son loses his mother, there is grieving and mourning…but in time the son can look forward to a better tomorrow. By remembering and honoring what his mother has taught him, the son can make sure that his mother never truly dies." I dropped my eyes in newfound sadness. "However, when a mother loses a son, there is no hope for a better tomorrow. A parent having to bury their child goes against the most basic laws of nature. Such are the risks of war, but that does not make it any easier." I then turned back to the crowd. "He gave his life so that you might live. I say to you ponies, do not let his sacrifice be in vain. Make sure the life he saved is a good one. Make it worth it."

Everypony on the elevated ground with me let pained tears fall, and I was now letting my own tears openly flow as well. I couldn't help but let a pained snort of laughter out. I realized how foolish it was for an elemental avatar to be weeping as a mortal would…but I found myself not caring. Living within the body and mind of Steelbreaker had given me insight into the life of mortal beings…and into the life of a young human man. Every happiness, every pain, every incident of love and intimacy…I felt it and lived it all. I remember eons ago my brother, Summer, chided me often for being so compassionate towards the mortal races. He was right of course, though I had never admitted it to him. When I lost him to the Great War, I felt the same feeling of brokenness I felt at this moment. I could only imagine the Steelbreaker's family was feeling.

I began to question myself as an immortal…whether I deserved it or not. Immortal life offered me the ability to do great good in keeping balance within our world, and was a great honor among the elementals. I should have done more to prevent the death of Steelbreaker, however.

I was not worthy…

Perspective change – Darkflight

I hadn't stopped crying since the funeral ceremony begun. I felt like such a pussy for bawling like a baby…but Applejack held me close all the same.

She looked at me with her lovely emerald eyes and smiled sadly, her own tears streaming down her face. "It's ahlraht, sugarcube…cry. I don't think any less of ya. I'd consider ya heartless if ya weren't, matter of fact."

To think it took coming to this glittery cutsie world to find a girl that really understood me. It was unnerving in a lot of ways, but day by day I was slowly becoming more okay with it. If not for AJ and my family, I'd not be able to even take another breath at that moment.

It wasn't even so much my own sadness that was turning on my waterworks. As heartless as it sounds, I would usually be able to hold it in. Over years of shit happening in my life back on Earth, I'd learned to keep myself in check. Women didn't like a guy that cried like a bitch, no matter what those shitty "perfect man" books and magazines might say.

No, it wasn't my own sadness that was getting to me…it was the expressions and reactions of all of Drew's friends and my family. Normally I'd be jealous that someone other than me was loved by so many, but it didn't bother me at all actually. I didn't let it, because it would be an insult to his memory. He deserved the care and affection that he got from everyone, and his last act was proof of that. At the moment though, only one question was gnawing at my mind…

What now?

What do you do after losing someone so close to you? How do you go on? What's the point? I then started to think something that I never thought would ever in a million years come to mind: it should've been me. Years of guilt caused from the treatment I'd meted out to women, friends, and even family started crushing down on me. I took advantage of every nice gesture given to me, every polite smile, and every honeyed word. Drew never did. Maybe it's because it happened to him so many times or maybe he just wanted to be different from me…but he never willfully took advantage of anyone's kindness. He always gave more than he would take, even when he sometimes had near to nothing to give. As much as I hated to admit it, I started to see through his eyes exactly why he hated Earth so much.

It was because of people like me.

Perspective change – Twilight Sparkle

I was completely done at this point. I had held myself together throughout the entire procession, but as soon as the silver casket opened, I lost control. I was sobbing uncontrollably while Luna and Celestia held me tight, each weeping as well. It took every bit of restraint I had left in me to keep from shaking the body screaming at him to wake up. He had a slight smile on his face - the same smile he would show to me in those common yet special moments when he felt nothing for me but love and adoration. No matter what I had done, no matter what had happened…he loved me unconditionally. Had I not known better, I would have thought he was sleeping at this moment, and that just made saying goodbye that much harder.

We were going to live together and one day get married…and perhaps later have our own foals. Why did this have to happen? What justice is there in the world for this? I began to feel a new emotion…one I was never acquainted with before.


I hated the gryphons now. I hated that their greed or whatever it was that compelled them to attack us had cost me Steel…had cost all of us Steel. This is what Steel had told me Earth was like…where humans would kill each other for little or no reason. What was the point? It only led to pain and death. There is no lasting peace that can be gained from killing another living being.
I started to feel helpless in quelling my own need for closure. There was no book that told of this and no experience I'd had before to prepare for something like this. What was the point in going on now? Steel was my first real love besides Luna…and now he was gone. I loved Luna in every sense of the word, but that didn't help. Maybe I was just being selfish…I don't know. What I did know is that Steel wouldn't want us to be broken over this. For awhile it was going to hurt, but he gave his life so that we might keep ours…and live in happiness.

Was it worth it though?

Perspective change – Rainbow Dash

This isn't fair. Why did it have to be him? There were plenty of other ponies more than happy to fight for Equestria. So why then, did Steel have to fight? I didn't get it…it's almost like he had a death wish or something.

The speeches had ended a while ago, and the majority of us were speaking and/or being comforted by family, friends, and other ponies. I couldn't help but ask myself questions over and over again, and none of them yielded any answers. I was pulled from my own confusion by a soft voice behind me.

"Rainbow Dash…" said the sad, broken voice. I turned to see the two princesses with tears in their eyes. Their own tears pushed me over the edge and I started crying too.

However, I kept my composure enough to respond. "Yes princesses?" I said in a voice barely above a whisper.

They both leapt forward and hugged me tight. I tried to hold it in but instead just erupted with wailing tears. In the back of my mind all I could think of was how pathetic Spitfire would think I was right now. I pushed the thought away though, now was not the time for Wonderbolts thinking…Steel deserved more than that.

The only pony who hadn't moved was Frostrender. It seemed weird referring to him as his own pony now, but he wasn't a part of Steel anymore. As Princess Celestia said, somehow the spell Steel cast had basically given Frostrender his own life. It was something about the sacrifice affecting him as well, except in a magical way. Frostrender continued to stare at the open casket within the tent, apparently deep in thought. My curiosity got the best of me, so I released the princesses and walked over to him.

Frostrender didn't acknowledge me at first; he just kept starting at Steel's body…as if looking at it hard enough was going to bring him back to life. He then let out a sad sigh and turned his head to look at me, a pained expression on his face. "This is not right, Rainbow Dash…there must be something that can be done."

I slumped a little in sadness at his statement. If an immortal could not accept death, how was I supposed to? "Frost…Steel's gone. There's nothing more that can be done."

He then turned back to Steel's body. "Dashie, there's always something that can be done. There's always hope."

'That voice...'

I was stunned. That very sentence was said to me by Steel when the gryphons first declared war. What shocked me the most was that when Frostrender said it, I could have swore I heard Steel's voice, not his.

Like a little filly, I broke down and cried for the umpteenth time that day. I hate being a mare sometimes...

Perspective change - Pinkie Pie

The feeling was back. That same feeling of sadness I felt the day daddy...killed himself. After this, I didn't know if I'd even deserve the Element of Laughter anymore. How could anypony possibly laugh or smile after something like this? It wasn't fair...

The other ponies had all cleared out by now, as it was late afternoon and raining softly. Usually a gloomy ugly day like this would bother me, but now it just matched how I felt on the inside. I wandered around the square by myself, and saw something in the distance. It was a tall figure coming towards us. At first I thought it was Darkflight, until I looked back and noticed he was still there. As it got closer, I noticed the distinct coloring of wood on it. It got closer until it was standing right in front of me, a sad expression on its face.

"Hello, Pinkie Pie." he said sadly.

I stood on my hind legs and wrapped him in a hug as I cried. "You made it, Moonfang."

He nodded and ran his claws through my straight mane. "I came to pay my respects. It's only right I do so. If not for Steel, I wouldn't even be here right now."

I nodded and we walked together towards the casket in the square. There was no danger of him being seen, as the only ones left now were family and friends. They all looked up and watched us as we walked together towards the small tent that had been made for Steel's body, and I just nodded at them.

As we both stepped inside, Moonfang froze. He didn't move...I didn't even think he was breathing. He took one step, then another, then another until he stood in front of the silver casket. He was still for the longest time until he slowly placed a hand on the body's chest. He let out a shuddering sigh and I think I saw a tear roll off his face.

"I have you to thank for my wonderful new life. I..." he stuttered as he sighed again. "I am sorry I was not there when you needed me. Please forgive me. May you find peace in the next life. Goodbye, my friend." He breathed a choking sob and stepped away, his hand lingering a moment longer upon his fallen friend. His breathing was steady as he stepped away and turned to me, but I could see tears streaming down his face. He hastily wiped them away with his hand and snarled in frustration at himself. "I'm sorry, Pinkie Pie. Crying is unfitting for a wolf."

I hugged him again, nuzzling into the thick wooden skin of his chest. "You're not just a wolf anymore, Moonfang...you're our friend. Steel didn't see you as just a wolf, and neither do we. You're so much more than that. You think Steel choosing to give you the gifts he did was a random occurrence? I know random, Moonfang. Steel is anything but random. He did for you what he did because he saw something different in you...and you know what? I think I see it too."

Even with the sad atmosphere, he smiled at me as I pulled away and stroked my mane. "Thank you, Pinkie Pie. That means a lot to me coming from you."

Perspective change - Luna

I was in so much pain. There was no need for this to happen...why him? I would live another thousand years on the moon if it meant he did not have to go...but he did. I had spent the last two days in the Royal Library searching for a spell to bring him back. I didn't care what the cost was at this point...but I came up with nothing. I was lost...more so than I had ever been in my long life.
Tia was doing much worse than I was, however. I tried to comfort her as best I could, but she had not stopped weeping since the day she brought the body back. This was the second real love of her life she had lost to death.

The life of an immortal was both a blessing and a curse.

Perspective change - Frostrender

I had a headache by now trying to think of some way to fix this. There had to be something that could be done about this...something I must have overlooked. The death of Steelbreaker was just...unacceptable. What hurt more than the headache, however, was my heart whenever I would hear the sobs of Steelbreaker's...no, our loved ones. Steelbreaker and I had become one being over the past few months. While at one time perhaps I had my own consciousness, we were now one and the same. I felt like I knew everyone he did.

'Wait...one being...'

The idea hit me like a lightning strike...but then I faltered. The price is great...would it be worth it? I looked around at all the grieving ones around me.

Yes...yes it would.

'Brother...I think I now understand why you did it.'

I turned to the two princesses with a solemn face...I hope they forgive me for this. "Avatar of Night, Avatar of Day...Winter summons you!"

The two princesses howled in pain as their bodies were taken over by the respective avatars. They whimpered, they cried more, and they convulsed as they felt their resolve weaken. A flash of light followed, and when my vision cleared, I found myself looking at Night and Day.

Night stepped forth and glared at me. "Winter, what have you done? This is unacceptable to summon us during their time of grieving. Explain yourself."

Day did not speak, but shared an equal glare with her sister. I breathed a sigh of sadness before speaking. "We must perform the ritual." Both of my fellow avatars gasped in shock. I was not surprised by their response.

Night stepped closer to me, now with fear in her eyes. "No...Winter, do not do this."

I shook my head sadly at her. "It is my choice. What was given was not mine to take. Take your place, Night."

She stood defiantly and frowned. "No...I will not"

"If you do not take your place, I will perform the ritual myself. You know full well what will happen if I do." I said softly.

Day then stepped forward as well and eyed me with confusion. "Winter...why are you doing this?"

I nearly broke down again when I saw her face...but I had to press on. "Steelbreaker once told me that he who has nothing he would die for is not fit to live..."

Perspective change - Nightmare Moon (Night)

"I am not sure what that has to do with anything, Winter." I said with great confusion. I could feel Luna was confused as well, and was surprisingly not fighting to regain control. We both knew what the ritual meant...I could not let him do this.

He smiled a genuine happy smile, for the first time in millennia. "Because, Night...I have found what I would die for. I never knew why Summer did what he did until right now...this moment. He did it because it was right. He did it because he realized there was a greater purpose he could fulfill than to simply live. Now please...I am pleading with you to take your places to perform the ritual, or I will be forced to do it myself."

He knew he had put us both in a corner, but I still had to try to stop him from doing this. "Winter...you know there's no guarantee. There never was."

He smiled and nodded. "It'll work. I have faith. Now please, I'm only going to ask one more time before I take matters into my own hooves."

We had no choice in the matter. With a heavy heart, the both of us stood on opposite sides of the last avatar of seasons. Before we could start, I leaned forward and kissed him one last time. "Goodbye Winter...I will miss you."

He smiled once more and turned away.

Perspective change - Applejack

I was still confused about what was going on when the three avatars started talking about some ritual, but then they were all standing around the tent that held Steel's body and their horns started to glow. I turned to Twi and poked her in the shoulder to get her attention.

"Twi, what're they doin'?" I asked in confusion.

She shook her head, not taking her eyes off the scene. "I...I don't know Applejack."

I shrugged and turned back to them, only to see that Frostrender was walking inside the tent that held the body. All of the sudden ice started to crawl up from the ground, covering the tent in it. Within a few seconds all that remained was a huge block of cloudy ice. Nightmare Moon and the other one walked over to us with sad looks on their faces.

Nightmare Moon spoke first. "I am sorry...but he made his choice."

I was curious, but Twi beat me to it. "What choice? What are you talking about?" she asked.

The other avatar looked back at the ice block before responding, "I am sorry...we cannot say more than that. It’s in the gods' hands now."

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