It was once again summer. Lunarstar, and her husband, Blizzard, had come through the portal to spend their vacation with Luna’s adopted parents in Ponyville. Luna always loved doing this, since she had time to spend with her adopted parents, and also spend time with her old friends that she had gone to school with. She also got to spend time with Blizzard. However, like everyone, Luna sometimes liked to spend some time alone. When she was alone, she would enjoy her new favorite hobby.
Early one morning in early July, the sun had just risen above the horizon, and the sky was a mixture of orange, and red. Soon the sun would have fully risen, and the sky would be a bold shade of blue. Perfect weather for enjoying one’s favorite activities on a warm summer day.
Luna was in her car, a white 1966 Jaguar XKE coupe ,driving down a gentle country road that ran out of town, and into the neighboring countryside. She was in her earthling form, and had a purple mane, and tail. Her clothing consisted of a pair of blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a pair of sunglasses.
For all intents purposes, Luna was in a very good mood. The radio was on, and was playing some fast-paced rock music, while she sang along.
Sitting on the passenger seat of the car was a basket filled with a picnic lunch that she had made earlier that morning. Sitting in the back seat was yellow backpack filed with various items. Sitting next to that was a long black, rectangular-shaped carrying case with an attached handle.
Luna was on her way to the woods near town. These were the same woods that she used to go into alone at night when she was younger, so she could have some time to be in her true form as an alicorn. Now, every time she came across the portal into Ponyville, Luna would be sure to go into the woods alone to have some time to herself. Because she had been in them many times, Luna knew her way around the woods from one end to the other. She laughed to herself as she remembered about how the citizens of Ponyville used to tell stories about the a supposed ‘ghost’ that lived in the woods, and who would glow in the dark at night. Luna had always found it amusing that she could glow in the dark.
About six miles north of the town, Luna turned her car onto a dirt road that branched off the paved road and ran into the woods. The dirt road was dusty, uneven, and strewn with small rocks. Because of this, the car bounced up and down as it drove forward down the road.
The car finally reached the end of the road, and parked in a large clearing surround by trees. Coming to a stop, Luna parked the car, and shut off the engine. She got out, and took a look around the clearing. Running from the clearing into the forest was a dirt path. Running south from the clearing was the road that Luna had just driven on. Besides that, the clearing was completely surrounded on all sides by the thick Oak trees of the forest. The floor of the clearing was nothing but dirt.
From high above, the first full rays of sunlight began shine down onto the forest. The sky was no turning into it’s familiar shade of blue. It was perfect weather for being outdoors.
Luna went around to the passenger door of the car, and opened it. She took the picnic basket off the passenger seat, and placed it softly on the ground. She than reached into the back seat of the car, took out the backpack, than the carrying case, and placed them on the ground next to the basket.
Closing the car’s doors, Luna locked them. She than put on the backpack, picked up the basket with her left hand, and the carrying case with her right hand. She than walked down the trail leading out of the clearing, and headed into the woods.
After walking for half an hour, Lunarstar reached the end trail, and stepped into another clearing. Like the first one, this one was surrounded on three sides by thick oak trees. The only was leading in or out of it was the trail that Lunarstar just hiked on. Sitting at the northern edge of the clearing, about forty feet away from Lunarstar, was a long dead oak tree, which no longer had any leaves, and was leaning greatly to the right, as if it was ready to fall down. Despite it’s appearance and condition, however, it served Lunarstar’s purpose perfectly.
Putting her bags on the ground, Lunarstar opened up the backpack, took out a bottle of water, and took a few gulps. She put the bottle back into the bag, and opened up the black carrying case. Sitting inside of it was a small sword that had a gold jewel-encrusted handle. It had been a gift from Buster. After so many attempts to kidnap her and kill her, he had decided it was high time for Lunarstar to learn how to defend herself. So, with the blessing of her father, Buster begun teaching Lunarstar how to use a sword. At first, she had trouble mastering the basics skills of sword fighting, but with Buster’s guidance, she soon became proficient with it, and even began to beat the captain of the guard himself when they would have practice fights.
Luna took the sword out of the carrying case, and held by the handle with both of her hands. With the blade pointing upwards, Luna look into it’s shiny surface, and saw her own reflection. Smiling, she admired herself for a bit, than lowered the sword, until it was pointing horizontally in the direction of the tree. Holding the sword this way, Luna walked slowly over to the dead tree until she was standing right in front of it. Luna reeled back the sword until it was over her right shoulder, and than swung it into the side of the tree. The force of the impact caused the sword’s sharp blade to cut deep into the bark of the tree. Using a bit of strength , Luna managed to dislodge the sword from the tree, freeing the blade. Examining the damage she had caused, she saw that the sword had left a deep horizontal cut into the side of the tree. Nodding her head, Luna stood up, walked over to the other side of the tree, raised the sword again, than swung it into the tree, and made another cut into the tree. Satisfied at this, Luna took a few steps backwards away from the tree, raised the sword above her head, took a deep breath, and charged forward. Letting out a high-pitched war cry, she ran straight towards the tree, and began to cut and hack into it like it was some hostile opponent. After two minutes of this, Luna stopped her attack.
Now completely exhausted, Luna was panting heavily. Her fur was soaked with sweet, and her throat was now bone-dry, and sore. These practice sessions took a lot out of her, but thanks to them, her skills were improving rapidly.
Now that she had caught her breath, Luna decided that she had had enough practice for that day, and walked back to her things to have some lunch. She placed the sword carefully in it’s case, and shut it closed. Opening the basket, she took out a folded-out blue blanket, unfolded it, and than laid it out onto the ground. With the basket sitting next to her, Luna sat down on the blanket, and began to enjoy a picnic lunch that consisted of peanut and jelly sandwich, a bag of pretzels, a thermos filled with lemonade, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies. After she had finished eating, she let out a yawn, placed her hands on the back of her head, and lean backwards on she was lying flat on her back on the blanket. Closing her eyes, she laid there, until she fell asleep, and took a nap.
Nearby in the woods that surrounded the clearing, a figure, who had been watching her all this time, was crouched next to some oak trees. As he watched Luna sleep, he thought about all the times in the past that he had encountered. With a feeling of guilt, he also remembered about all the evil things he had done to her, and her friends and family. Gods. How he now hated himself for doing them. But the past was in the past, and he now had a chance to redeem himself for he knew that Luna life’s would soon be put into danger once again. He vowed to himself that he would never let anyone harm her….Even if it meant his own death.
While Luna slept peacefully in the clearing, a group of menacing individuals were moving westward through the woods directly towards the clearing. They were all earthling stallions and were dressed in jet black suits of lightweight armor. All of them carried AK47 assault rifles, except for one soldier who carried an RPK light machine gun, and their leader who carried a Skorpion VZ68 machine pistol. A scowl was on each of their faces, and a murderous look was in their eyes. They had been assigned an important mission. One that could not fail…no matter what.
After walking for about several minutes, they finally reached the edge of the clearing. Their leader, a stallion with dark blue fur and a gray mane, was out in front of them. Kneeling on the ground, he motioned for the troops who were following him to stop. They did so, and also kneeled. The blue stallion peered through some bushes into the clearing. He saw clearly his target sleeping on the blanket, peacefully…Perfect.
A stallion with light yellow hair, and an orange mane moved slowly forward until he was right next to the blue stallion. “Is that her?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied the Blue Stallion, whose name was Haze, nodding his head. “That‘s her all right. Right where they said she‘d be.” He turned his head, and looked at the yellow stallion. “Would like to kill her, Senkin?”
The yellow stallion, whose name was Senkin, nodded his head. “Your damm right.”
Haze chuckled at his friend’s show of enthusiasm. “Okay, you do the honors.”
A devilish grin appeared on Senkin’s face. He walked slowly out of the bushes, and into the clearing. Making his was slowly, he walked over to the sleeping Lunarstar. When he was finally standing right over her, Senkin cocked the hammer on his rifle, and took aim at the sleeping filly. Placing his finger on the trigger, Senkin got ready to open fire…
From where he was crouched among the trees, the mysterious figure could see everything that was happening in the clearing. He certainly could see the heavily-armed stallion who now stood above Lunarstar, and who was about to gun her down unmercifully as she slept. With every intention of preventing the young mare’s murder, the figure cocked the hammer back on the Colt/Armalite M16A2 assault rifle that he was holding with both his hands, counted up to the number three, than leap from the bushes, and into clearing. As soon as he was fully standing in the clearing, he let out as ferocious roar that echoed throughout the surrounding forest. This had two results:
One, it instantly woke up Lunarstar, who was more than shocked to find a strange stallion wearing a black suit of armor, and armed with a assault rifle standing over. Despite the fact that she had no idea who this stallion was, or what he wanted, Lunarstar had a feeling that she was in mortal danger. She also had feeling that he wasn’t alone, and that he had friends nearby. Fortunately, the stallion was facing away from Lunarstar, and hadn’t seen her when she woke up. Curious about what he was looking at, Lunarstar sat up, and looked into the direction he was looking…She nearly died right there of shock.
Senkin couldn’t believe it. Standing before him was an individual who he thought he would never meet in person. He had heard many stories about this horrifying individual, but had only thought that he was just something that parents had made up to scare their foals into behaving. But Senkin now knew without a doubt that he was alive, and real.
The individual in question had green fur, a snow white mane, and glowing yellow eyes, like those of a lizard. He was wearing a dark-green suit of armor. A gold sculpture of a dragon in full flight emblazoned on the chest plate of the suit. In his hands, he carried the before mentioned M16A2 assault rifle. At the moment, the individual was scowling angrily.
Senkin, frozen in his place due to an overwhelming sense of fear, muttered the individuals name quietly to himself…
While he stood there staring at the horrifying individual, Senkin heard the sound of a gasp from beside him. Turning to the side, he saw Lunarstar ,and than suddenly remembered why he was there in the first place. As quick as lightning, he pointed his rifle and was about to open fire when….he was hit on the right side of his head with a 5.56mm rifle bullet. He was killed instantly. Much to Lunarstar’s horror, he lifeless body stood there for several seconds, still holding the rifle. It than fell to the ground right in front of her. His mouth and eyes were permanently open in a expression of surprise.
Horrified at what she just witnessed, Lunastar simply sat there staring at the freshly-dead corpse that was lying in front of her. She had no idea about what the hell was going on, but she knew that her life was in danger. For some strange reason, she didn’t fell that it was the shocking individual from her past who was trying to kill her this time. In fact, the individual had just proven that by killing the stallion. No, it was more than clear that he didn‘t want to kill her. It was someone else who did….Lunarstar, however, wasn’t going to take any chances.
Finally motivating herself to move, Lunarstar, still in a sitting position, and with her eyes focused firmly on the individual, slowly stood upwards until she was standing completely upright. She than stood there staring at him, not knowing about what was he was going to do next. She couldn’t believe that it was him who was standing in front of her. In past times, she would either be fighting him or running away from him. But this time, she just stood there looking at him.
‘Oh Gods,’ she thought. ‘It’s him.’
Before she could say anything, all Hell suddenly broke lose as vicious gunfire burst forth from the tree line that bordered on the western end of the clearing. Like Buster had taught her, Lunarstar instinctively dived for the ground to avoid being hit by any of the speeding bullets that were now whizzing past her.
Unfortunately, due to a tragic flaw in the timing of her reaction, Lunarstar caught the full brunt of the incoming gunfire…
From where he was crouched among the trees, Haze couldn’t believe what he had just saw. Senkin, his long time friend and loyal comrade in arms, had gone out into the clearing to kill Lunarstar, when had been a loud roar, and than a nightmarish individual leapt from the bushes on the other side clearing, and out into the open. Before Senkin had a chance to kill Lunarstar, the individual, for some gods-only knew reason, shot and killed him. When Haze recognized who it was who had just killed his friend, a chill instantly ran down his spine. Standing there was someone who he had thought had been dead for many years. But that apparently wasn’t so because this individual was standing in full view of Haze, who had a foreboding feeling that, despite whatever happened, things were not going to end well. Realizing that he and his troops couldn’t just sit there among trees, and wait to see what individual would do next, Haze turned towards his troops who crouched in rows along the tree line stretching out to the left and to the right of him, and made what would be a fatal mistake…
“Well, what the hell are you all looking at!?” he shouted loudly, knowing full well what they were looking at. Stretching out his left arm, he pointed at Lunarstar. “Kill her!”
The soldiers immediately obeyed, and opened fire with their weapons. In almost half a second, a cloud of lead bullets starting flying towards their intended target. Almost instantaneously, Lunarstar was hit by a number of bullets, and fell to the ground. Haze smiled wickedly as he saw his target lay there in the grass, supposedly dead.
‘Good,’ he thought, satisfied that his mission had been accomplished. ‘The little royal bitch is dead. Lady Minty will be pleased with me.’
However, in his sudden and mist ought haste to accomplish his mission, Haze had forgotten one very important thing…Lunarstar wasn’t the only one who was in that clearing.
Turning away from Lunarstar, Haze turned towards the direction of the individual to direct his troops to fire on him, when bullets starting whizzing past his head. As quick as lightning, Haze dropped from his crouching position to a lay himself flat on the ground d on his stomach as the individual began firing at him and his soldiers. It became apparent that the individual was an expert marksman, since one after the other, Haze’s soldiers started dropping dead left and right after being inflicted with deadly headshots.
Soon, out of the fourteen soldiers that Haze had led into the forest, only five, besides himself, were left. It had only taken the individual about one minute and fifteen seconds to kill them.
At first rejecting the idea to retreat, Haze now saw it as his only chance to preserve what was left of his platoon. Besides, he had completed his mission.
He began shouting to the five remaining soldiers. “Retreat! Retreat!”
The soldiers immediately obeyed and followed Haze as he led them back into the deep woods, and away from the clearing as fast as they could.
Their withdrawal left behind the individual, a supposedly dead Lunarstar, and the bodies of their nine fallen comrades.
As soon as Haze and his soldiers retreated, the Individual in the clearing lowered his gun. Despite the fact that he had managed to kill most of him, he knew in his heart that he had failed to stop them from killing Lunarstar. As soon as she was cut down by those bullets before he could react, he knew it. It seemed that he could protect her from one killer, but not from a whole platoon of them.
Gods…How he hated himself for this failure.
Slinging his rifle over his right shoulder, he walked over to Lunarstar’s bleeding corpse, and kneeled down to examine it. She had been hit many times in various parts of her body, especially her stomach and thighs areas. As a result, her body and the grass around her was covered in silver-colored blood.
The individual closed his eyes, and dropped his head. He remained in that position for almost ten minute.
‘Oh gods,’ he thought, sadly. ‘I failed her.’
Despite the fact that his eyes were closed, tears began to form around them, and than ran down his face. For the first time, in a long time, he felt sadness for the death of another living creature.
Opening his eyes, he knew that the decent thing he could do was bury her body, and than, somehow, let both sets of parents know about what had happened, while staying anonymous. Noticing that Lunarstar’s eyes were open as she lay on her back, he reached over and closed them. He than leaned forward to giver her a kiss on the cheek as a sign of affection. As he did, he placed his hand on her torso, right above her heart. Doing so, he instantly felt it…beating.
Now fully alert, the individual checked Lunarstar’s pulse and breathing, and discovered that both of those were working too. To his excitement and joy, he realized that Lunarstar was still alive. His joy, however, was short lived as realized that Lunarstar needed major medical attention immediately. Unfortunately, he didn’t either the materials or know-how to perform any major care. But he was capable of performing some basic fist aid to at least stabilize the young mare’s condition until he could get her to the castle.
Thinking quickly, he grabbed Lunarstar’s picnic blanket, and, using his claws, began to rip shreds from it. He than started wrapping them around Lunarstar‘s legs and arms, where most of the wounds were located, and packing them over the wounds. By doing this, he managed to stop most of the bleeding. But that still didn’t mean much. Lunarstar would need major surgery to remove the bullets, and she would need it very soon. Wrapping her in what was left of the blanket, the Individual picked up Lunarstar in her arms. Closing his eyes he started to concentrate heavily. A fiery, vortex portal than opened up in front of him. The individual than stepped completely thought. As an afterthought, the Individual reached back out of the portal, and picked the up the case holding Lunarstar’s sword. When he went back into the portal, it closed up completely, and disappeared, leaning nothing but the bodies of the dead soldiers, and the overturned picnic basket as the only remains of the deadly battle that had taken place there in the clearing.
The young unicorn stallion was having a very boring day. Ever since he had woken up that morning, he had been busy doing various menial tasks around the castle, such as cleaning, and paperwork. The day, however, would soon become lees boring in a very short period of time. The unicorn stallion, who had blue fur and a yellow mane, was in the entrance hall of the castle, taking a much needed nap in a wooden chair, when he was awakened by a loud whooshing sound. Opening his eyes, he saw the Individual standing there, holding what looked like a young earthling mare wrapped in a blanket in his hands.
“Sunbeam!” shouted the Individual.
The unicorn, who’s name was Sunbeam, jumped out of his chair, and rushed over to the Individual.
“What the hell is all this?” he asked.
The individual had no time to answering questions. “Never mind about that. Go tell Doctor Wigwam that he now has a patient who needs surgery right now.”
Nodding his head in understanding, Sunbeam ran out of the entrance hall, shouting, “I’ll got get him! You take her to the Infirmary.”
Walking quickly up the grand staircase in front of her, the Individual carried the unconscious Lunarstar up the sitars, turned left when he reached the top, and than went down a corridor. A look of fear and uncertainty was on his face as he felt the young mare’s breathing become weaker and weaker...
Lunarstar just stood there, surrounded by darkness on all sides. Dressed in her white nightgown, she felt very cold. Suddenly, she felt a the presence of someone standing behind her. Turning around, she found an unfairly stallion standing there, smiling evilly at her. He had red hair, a dark red mane, and yellow reptilian eyes. He was wearing a red suit of armor with a black sculpture of a dragon in flight mounted on the chest plate. The strange stallion was grinning evilly at Lunarstar.
“Hello, Luna,” he said. “I have not seen you in a long time.”
Lunarstar recognized the voice, but she wasn’t sure. She had never seen this stallion before in her life. “Who are you?”
“Don’t you remember me?” asked the stallion in an amused tone. “If you don‘t, you should.” He than said something that made Lunarstar’s blood freeze, and also sent a chill up her spine. “Your uncle Star Cluster knew me very well.”
At that moment, Lunarstar nearly died of shock when she heard this last remark. She now knew who the mysterious red stallion was…Fallon.
“No,” replied Lunarstar, shaking her head. “It can‘t be…It can‘t be.” She pointed a finger at him. “Your…your…dead!”
The stallion, who was Fallon in a pony form, smiled evilly. “I came back from the dead.”
“With some help.” Fallon smiled, and motioned towards the darkness with his hand. “With this mare‘s help to be specific.” He turned his head in the same direction that hid hand was pointing. “Please come and show yourself.”
Another individual than stepped out of the darkness. In this case, thought, she was a mare. She had mint green fur, a white mane and tail, and blue eyes. She was wearing a black gown, with a red collar. Hanging around her neck was a silver circle-shaped medallion with the image of a group of three-leaf clovers on it. She smiled as she looked at Lunarstar.
“Princess Luna,” said Fallon, “I would like to introduce you to Lady Minty, the very luscious Leader of the Cult of Night Flame. It was she who brought me back from the dead.”
Minty chuckled at being referred to as ‘luscious.’ “You flatter me, sir knight.” She and Fallon than kissed each other. She than noticed that Lunarstar was staring at them speechless. Minty laughed and turned back to Fallon. “Shall we?”
Fallon nodded. “Yes.”
From out of nowhere, the both of them held up Stechkin APS machine pistols, and pointed them in Lunarstar’s face. Before the young princess could react, they both opened fire on her…
That’s when Lunarstar woke up screaming….
Lunarstar suddenly sat up in bed. She was both panting and sweating heavily. At first she was highly alert, but she soon gradually calmed down. Immediately, she noticed that she was no longer in that forest clearing anymore. She was now sitting on a bed in a spares looking room. The walls were made of gray stone, as were both the ceiling and the floor. Lunarstar was lying on a bed with white sheets that was propped up against the near left corner of the room. To the right of bed was a simple wooden door with a golden doorknob. The room had no windows. Propped up against the far wall of the room was a wooden desk and chair. On the far right corner of the room was a pair of large window doors that led to a balcony. On the far left corner of the room was a dresser drawer. In all, the room looked eerily like her old room that she had slept in back at Dream Castle when she was younger. Come to think, the room looked too similar to her room…For a moment, Lunarstar hoped that she had been rescued from the clearing, and than brought home to Dream Castle. It was possible, since her uncles, Starfire and Skyview, had also come across the gate to have a vacation. Perhaps they had somehow rescued Lunarstar, and brought her home?
No. That was impossible. Lunarstar had told no one she was going to the forest clearing to practice her swordsmanship skills. Also, everyone had been asleep when she had left the house early in the morning. They probably didn’t know that she was in trouble. To Lunarstar, this fact meant only one thing: She hadn’t been brought home by anyone. This in turn brought up two important question :Where was she, and who brought her here? Lunarstar intended to find the answers to both questions.
While she sat there in the bed, Lunarstar realized that she was no longer wearing the shirt and jeans anymore. She was now wearing a snow white silk nightgown. It seemed that whoever brought her from the clearing to wherever this was had also changed her clothes. But that wasn’t the half of it. Deciding that she needed to get out of bed before she did anything else, Lunarstar began to climb out of it. But as soon as her hooves touched the floor, she felt an extreme amount of pain in her legs. The pain came on so suddenly that it caused Lunarstar’s entire body to convulse violently. She convulsed so violently that she lost her footing, and would have fallen onto the floor if she hadn’t grabbed the bed. While she was trying to prop herself up, she noticed that her legs were completely wrapped in white bandages like a mummy. What was really shocking was that the bandages were soaked with silver blood. Her blood. On a hunch, she pulled back her sleeves, and saw that her arms were also heavily bandaged, and soaked with blood.
“Gods!” thought Lunarstar as she stared at her bandaged arms, “What the hell happened to me?”
She had no idea about what happened in the clearing after the shooting had begun.
Knowing full well that she couldn’t just lean there on the bed all day, Lunarstar began to painfully force herself to move. First, she pushed herself from the bed so that was standing upright. Slowly she turned until she was facing the direction of the door, She than began to slowly walk towards it, trying not to move her legs too quickly, or she would feel some extreme pain. But despite that, she made some progress. However, disaster struck. When she was made it halfway to the door, she moved her left leg a little too quickly. Instantly, she felt a large surge of pain that made her convulse, and lost her footing. Letting a loud yelp, Lunarstar fell onto the hard, cold stone floor of the room. The impact of hitting the floor instantly sent more pain surging through her legs. This made her gasp in pain.
‘Looks like I should of stayed in bed,’ she thought in an attempt to try and put some in humor into the current situation. ‘Well, I can’t stay here forever.’
She attempted to use her hands to push herself up off the floor in order to get herself up off the floor. Unfortunately, when she began push onto the floor with her arms, she felt even more agonizing pain. So much so that she had stop her attempt. Thinking about what to do next, she tried to crawl back towards bed, but found that when she also felt pain when she tried to move that way. In fact, every time she made the even the slightest move, she would feel a large amount of very sharp pain that would instantly immobilize her. This was not good. She couldn’t move, and was now stuck here on a cold stone floor in a room that looked liker her room back home in Dream Castle. But she knew that this wasn’t Dream Castle, and this wasn’t home. And only the gods knew who was outside that closed door…Was it him, or someone else? She didn’t know, and, in a way, didn’t want to now. It was for this reason that she didn’t shout out for help.
Thinking about the desperate situation she was in, Lunarstar realized that for the first time, in a long time, she was in a desperate situation with no viable options of escape. Lunarstar was completely helpless.
Ignoring her current situation for a change, she began to think about everyone that was dear to her. Her friends, her family, and especially her husband. They were all probably wondering where she was right now. Lunarstar wished she knew the answer to that question herself.
‘Oh gods,’ she thought. Tears began to appear in her eyes. ‘What the hell am I going to do?’
Suddenly, the door to the room opened, and than he, the individual who she had seen in the clearing and who she thought she would never seen again in her entire life, walked in…
Laying helpless on the floor, Lunarstar looked up at him as he entered the room. From what she could see, he had taken off his suit of armor, and was now wearing a dark green long-sleeved tunic, and a pair of black trousers. A gray metal medallion with his personal symbol engraved on it. His pair of dragon wings jutted out from his back through pair of slits that had been cut into the tunic. A hole had been cut into his pants to allow his tail to stick out. From some strange reason, he actually looked less-intimidating.
He walked into the room, stopped, and than looked around. A look of genuine alarm appeared on his face when he saw that the bed was empty. He walked quickly towards the bed, and, for some strange reason, failed to notice Lunarstar, who was still laying on the floor. Not wanting to attract his attention, she remained completely silent. Using all of her will power, she tried not to move an inch, but failed when her left leg moved instantly when she felt a twinge of pain. This caused even more pain, which made Lunarstar gasp loudly. In an instant the Individual turned around, and saw her lying on the floor. Realizing that he had seen her, Lunarstar looked up at him, while feeling a sense of dread. The memories of everything that this individual had done to her and her family, especially to Blizzard, her husband.
In a desperate and panicked attempt to escape, and survive, Lunarstar attempt to rapidly crawl across the floor away from the individual, and towards the door.
This, of course, caused an extreme amount of pain that quickly overwhelmed her, and forced her to stop. Failing in her attempt to escape, Lunarstar, fearing the worst, closed her eyes tightly, and waited for the end.
‘Oh gods!’ she thought with horror. ‘This is the end!’
However, something surprising happened…
Lunarstar lay their on the floor, when she suddenly felt someone wrapping their arms around her, and helping her up until she was standing upright. She had no doubt about who was it was. She felt being completely lifted off the floor, and than being leaned backwards until, she assumed, she was facing upwards. Being cradled in this person’s arms for a few seconds, Lunarstar than found herself being gently placed onto a soft surface. For a few minutes after that, she laid there, being afraid to move or even opening her eyes. Still thinking that he was planning to do something awful to her. However, contrary to her fears, nothing happened. Finally, she managed to gather up enough courage to open her eyes. She found herself laying in the bed on her back. Standing above her was the Individual, who was looking down at her. Looking into his eyes, she saw that there was an expression of concern in his eyes. The expression on his face matched this. For another several minutes the both of them stared at each other silently as if the both of them were afraid to speak to each other.
It was Lunarstar who finally broke the terrible silence. Gathering up enough courage, she spoke by exclaiming the individual’s real name in a quiet, hushed tone…”Teriney?”
Teriney nodded his head. “Hello, Luna. It has been a long time,” he replied, calling her by her princess name.
Lunarstar, however, ignored him. “Your supposed to be dead.”
Closing his eyes, Teriney nodded his head. “Yes, I know.” He opened his eyes, and sighed. “Look, Lunarstar, I know what you are thinking about, and…” But he stopped himself. Now was not the right time to try, and reconcile. Lunarstar needed her rest, and recover. “Well, I shall let you rest for a while. I will tell the others that you have finally awakened.”
With out another word, he walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. After he had left, Lunarstar lay there on the bed, thinking about everything that happened to her since the events that had occurred in the clearing. It was all very confusing. As she thought, she began to ask herself a few questions: Who shot her in the clearing? Why did Teriney save her, which she assumed that he had. But she would have to find the answers to these questions later. Right now, Lunarstar had find out where she was right now. She also had to find out who these ‘others’ were that Teriney had mentioned. Unbeknownst to her, this question would soon be answered….
Closing the door behind him as he went, Teriney walked out of the room that Lunarstar was staying in, and found Sunbeam standing there. A look of uncertainty on his face, and he was leaning against the stone wall right next to the doorway of the room.
“What happened?” he asked. “I heard a thump.”
“Oh, nothing much,” replied Teriney. “Lunarstar simply tried to get out of bed, and didn‘t succeed,. So I put her back in bed.” He than sighed. “Course, coming face-to-face with me after all these years shocked the hell out of her. But that’s not surprising.”
Relieved, Sunbeam nodded his head. “Ya, I would guess that would be the case.” A serious expression on his face. “So, are you going to tell Majesty and the others about who your friend really is?”
To Teriney, this was a actually a serious problem. When he had gone off on his mission to save Lunarstar, he really hadn’t intended to bring her back home with him. However, because she had been gunned down, he had been force to change his plans in order to save her life. Since he hadn’t told his companions, except for Sunbeam, about his little mission of mercy and the identity of the individual he planned to save, he had to make up a story about doing some target practice in the woods near Ponyville, and than finding Lunarstar lying in a clearing, injured for some ‘unknown’ reason. (He hadn’t bothered to tell them about the squad of Cult troopers that he had nearly wiped out.) At first, everyone wasn’t too keen about the idea of a strange mare being in the let into the castle, but she was near death, and needed medical attention. Fortunately, Doctor Wigwam was able to successfully perform surgery to remove the bullets. Immediately afterwards, Lunarstar had been moved into the spare room that she now occupied, where she had lay there in a coma. For three days she had been in that condition, which Doctor Wigwam said she had a 50/50 chance of getting out of. A distraught Teriney had prayed to the gods frantically that she would recover. Apparently, his prayers had been answered, since, when he had gone in to check on her, he had found wide awake, and lying on the floor. Course, it had been a shocking experience for the both of them to see each other after many years. What with Lunarstar being fully convened that Teriney had been dead for all that time.
“Well,” began Teriney, “I‘ll just to have to explain everything to them when Lunarstar has fully recovered.”
“Okay,” said Sunbeam, nodding his head. “And after that?”
Teriney, who was at a loss for a good answer, closed his eyes. “I don‘t know,” he said quietly. He opened his eyes. “I just don’t know.”
Sunbeam, who fully understood what Teriney meant, was about to say something more, when he and his friend suddenly heard a female voice. “Hey guys!”
They turned in the direction that the voice had come from, and saw Star Flame walking down the corridor towards them. She was an earthling mare with black fur, a fiery red mane that had both a orange and yellow streak running through it, and black eyes. She was wearing a pair of black trousers, and a red long-sleeved tunic. A bronze medallion that had a five-pointed star engraved on it hung around her neck on a bronze chain. For all intents and purposes, she was in a good mood.
“’I was wondering where you two were,” she said as she walked over and stood with her friends. “I‘ve been looking all over for ya.”
“Oh really,” asked a confused Teriney. “What for?”
Star Flame chuckled. “Don‘t you remember? I was going to teach you how to use a smoke grenade after lunch today?”
Suddenly remembering, Teriney smacked his left hand on his forehead. “Oh, that‘s right! Now I remember.” A look of regret appeared on his face. “I‘m sorry, Star Flame, I completely forgot.”
Star Flame smiled, which meant that she wasn’t angry at all about Teriney forgetting about their planned training session. “That‘s okay. I‘ve been busy doing gods dammed paperwork for Majesty all morning.” She smiled insanely. “I’ve even forgotten who I am.” Everyone laughed at this. Star Flame was always cracking jokes at every moment. She than remembered something.
“Oh, how’s that young mare doing?” she asked, motioning towards the door to the room. “Is she awake yet?”
Teriney nodded his head. “Yes, when I went in to check on her, I found wide awake and out of bed. She had climbed out of bed, and had tried to walked out of the room. Unfortunately, she fell on the floor. I had to put her back to bed.”
“Ya, probably scared out of her mind,” remarked Star Flame. “So, now that she‘s awake, I think I ought to pop in, and saw hello.”
Both Teriney and Sunbeam looked alarmed at this. Star Flame noticed this, and became suspicious.
“What‘s wrong, guys?”
“Oh nothing,” said Sunbeam, quickly. “It‘s just that we think…”
“What Sunbeam is trying to say,” explained Teriney, is that we think that our guest should…”His words trailed off as he couldn’t think off a good excuse to keep Star Flame from seeing Lunarstar.
“I thought so,” declared Star Flame. She than promptly opened the door, and walked into the room before Sunbeam and Teriney could say anything.
Lunarstar was sitting there on the bed, thinking about the current situation that she was in, when she heard the door swing open. Looking in it’s direction, she found an unfamiliar mare standing there in the doorway. With her right hand still clutching the door knob, the older mare stood there in the doorway. For almost a full minute the two of them stared at each other, before the older mare spoke.
“Hi there,” she said cheerfully as she walked towards Lunarstar, “I‘m Star Flame. ”
Lunarstar looked up and down at this Star Flame individual with a sense of caution and suspicious. Despite the fact that her inner instinct was telling her that she had nothing to fear from this mare, she was still cautious of anyone, consider the events that had occurred her in the last several hours. Besides, the colors of Star Flame’s fur, mane were unlike anything that Lunarstar had seen before. She had never seen a pony with those colors before, and had feeling that no other pony in the universe had them. This, logically, meant that Star Flame must be unique in some way…Perhaps unique like Lunarstar herself.
This thought, for some strange reason, made her feel a little less suspicious of Star Flame. Although, she still kept her guard up in case anything suddenly happened…
“Um,” she replied, hesitantly, “I‘m Lunarstar.”
‘She scared,’ thought Star Flame. ‘I don’t blame her.’
“Well,” she exclaimed, trying to break the ice between her and Lunarstar, “your probably wondering about a few things right now, ‘What is the hell is this place?’ ‘Where the hell am I?’ and ‘Who the hell is this mare who’s talking to me right now?’”
Lunarstar couldn’t help, but giggle at this. This Star Flame individual probably wasn’t such a bad person after all. If someone could make Lunarstar laugh, that person wasn‘t so bad. She had always thought of humor as a important trait in someone that should be admired. That, and a caring nature, were the two most important traits that Lunarstar saw in every person. If they had those, it would be easy for them to become friends. Smiling, Lunarstar nodded her head.
“Ya, I have more than a few questions,’ replied Lunarstar. She than heard her stomach grumbling. This told her that she hadn’t eaten in a while.
Star Flame heard it too. “Well,” she remarked smartly, “it seems that somebody is hungry.” She than had an idea. “Tell you what, seeing as it‘s near noon time, I‘ll get us some lunch, and than I‘ll answer all your questions.”
This sounded good to Lunarstar. “Okay.”
“Right, I‘ll be back before you can say ‘Great Rainbow.’” Star Flame than walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Watching her go, Lunarstar knew that she had just made a friend. Considering her current circumstance, she needed all the friends she could get. As she waited for Star Flame to return with lunch, Lunarstar decided to sit there on the bed, and relax. Laying back against the large pillow of the bed, she began to think about how her family in both worlds, and about how they might be reacting to her disappearance-Course, that they depended on whether they even knew that she was gone-Of all her friends and family Lunarstar especially thought about Blizzard. How would he react to her disappearance for the clearing?
Usually, Blizzard wouldn’t drop in unexpectedly on Lunarstar, while she was having some time to herself out in the woods. He, and everyone else, respected her right to some privacy. However, Booster had announced that he was planning to take everyone out to dinner that night, on account that it was his and Rosebud’s 30th wedding anniversary. Besides, it would be getting dark soon, anyways. Since Lunarstar didn’t know about any of this, Blizzard had volunteered to go tell her. He was now driving his car, a ice blue 1970 Ford Maverick Grabber, down the road that led out of town towards the forest. He was dressed in a white Tuneful Beats t-shirt, a pair of brown slack pants, and a orange sport jacket. It was adequate clothing since it was a little chilly today. It was unusual for it be cold on a summer day in July, but the weather was known to do strange things. Blizzard paid no attention to it.
Since he had gone out to the forest with Lunarstar several times before, and had once been living in it for awhile, he was also familiar with it, and knew his way to the clearing. Driving along, he thought about how last night, he and Lunarstar had talked about visiting Drakon Island again as long as they were here in this world for awhile. Blizzard himself had never been there, but he had heard about everything that had happened before he met Lunarstar, including the battle with Fallon. Blizzard shivered as he thought about it. As far as he was concerned, Fallon was just as bad as Teriney, if not worse.
Thankfully, both Fallon and Teriney had been dead for years, and there was no way in hell that they were coming back. At least, that’s what Blizzard hoped. Teriney had the uncanny ability to show up out of nowhere, and making everyone’s life miserable. He had done that to Blizzard for years. But again, that was all ancient history. Blizzard now had friends, family, and a loving wife…
Oh, and he was also king of Ponyland.
But Blizzard didn’t really valued that as much as he valued Lunarstar.
While he was driving, Blizzard, with one hand still gripping the steering wheel, reached over, and turned on the radio. He than began to fiddle with the knob, while going from station to station. He finally found one that he liked, and stayed on it. Listening to the music, Blizzard began to tap his fingers on the steering wheel along with the music. Glancing out of the windshield, he noticed that the sky was quickly changing from being bright and blue to being dull and gray. In over half a minute, the sky went from being completely empty of clouds to being completely filled with what appeared to be dark storm clouds.
‘Hmm,’ thought Blizzard, ‘looks like a storm is coming. Good thing I brought my jacket.’
Thinking that it was a typical, everyday rainstorm was forming in the sky above him, Blizzard paid no attention to it, and continued on driving.
After a little while, he caught site of the familiar dirt trail that led off the main road, and headed into the forest. Blizzard drove off the road, and onto the trail. As he was driving into the woods, Blizzard caught site of another car coming down the road towards him in the opposite direction. Instinctively, he steered the car to the right side of the road to let the other car pass him, thinking that it was someone else who had been taking a trip out into the woods, and who was now leaving. Blizzard was in for a shock, however.
As the other car came closer, he recognized it as Lunarstar’s Jaguar. Thinking that she was had done with her actives and was now coming home, Blizzard pulled over to the right side of the road, and stopped. He than rolled down the driver’s side window, stuck his left arm, and started waving in order to attract Lunarstar’s attention. The white Jaguar, however, completely ignored him, and simply sped past him. It than turned to the right onto the main road, and drove away. Blizzard, not surprisingly, was confused and surprised.
‘What the hell was that all about?’ he thought. ‘Didn’t she see me?’
For some strange reason, he began to have a feeling that something was wrong. Also, he had a sudden urge to go into the clearing, even thought he knew that he should go after Lunarstar. But he decided to follow his feelings, and go to the clearing. He figured that Lunarstar was probably going home.
Blizzard released the brakes on his car, pressed gently down on the accelerator pedal, and continued driving down the road.
Meanwhile, about several miles away, the white Jaguar sped down the road at almost 100 miles per hour. (Something that it legally could do since Ponyland had no national speed limit.) Suddenly, a glowing vortex-like portal, similar to the one that Teriney had used, opened up in the road ahead of the Jaguar. Without slowing down, the car sped right into the portal, which then closed up in the blink of an eye.
Back in the woods, Blizzard had parked his car in the small clearing, and was now walking along the trail towards the larger clearing. As he walked, he wondered about why Lunarstar had driven past him like a bat out of hell. And why hadn’t she seen him, and stopped? It was quite a mystery, and Blizzard had a feeling that all the answers would be found in the glass clearing. Coming closer to it, his feeling about how there was something wrong was becoming stronger. Soon, it was so strong that it became impossible for Blizzard to ignore it. Suddenly, the jewel encrusted into his medallion began to glow brightly. Blizzard now knew without a doubt that something was wrong. Whenever the jewel in his medallion began to glow, there was something wrong in the universe. Entering the clearing, the young stallion discovered a gruesome sight…
About ten minutes later, he was frantically speeding down the road towards town. A look of shock and horror was on his face. He know knew-Oh yes, did he know-that something was very, very wrong. He now knew that he needed to get back to town, and get help. Yes, he needed help as soon as possible. The reason for his sudden need for help was what he had found in the clearing. He had found several dead bodies dressed in black suits of armor in the clearing. Realizing that this was the reason that Lunarstar had fled from the clearing, he had rushed back to his car. His concern, and fear, for Lunarstar had now completely consumed him. Gods, if anything bad had happened to her….
About a half an hour after leaving the forest, Blizzard was pulling into the driveway of Booster, and Rosebud’s house. Parked in the upper left side of the driveway was a red 1995 Chevy Impala sedan. Parked behind it was Booster’s gray 1972 Chevy Cheyenne pickup truck. Lunarstar’s Jaguar, however, was nowhere to be seen. Now even more concerned, Blizzard parked his car on the right side of the driveway, next to Booster‘s truck, and than got out of the car. In almost a split second, he is running across the front yard, heading directly for the front door. Reaching it, he flung it open, and ran inside the house.
He didn’t even bother to close it.
Once inside, he ran directly across the living room, and rushed into the kitchen. He found Rosebud standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes, and who looked up at him when she realized that someone had just walked into the kitchen. She smiled when she saw that it was Blizzard.
“Oh, Blizzard,” she exclaimed, “your back.” She than looked past Blizzard to see if anyone was standing behind him. There wasn’t. With an expression of confusion on her face, Rosebud asked, “Where’s Lunarstar?”
Blizzard said nothing, and simply stared at her. A solemn look was on his face. He was very reluctant to tell Rosebud about everything that had happened when he had went to get Lunarstar from the forest, but he knew that he had to. He was just afraid to make her frightened over adopted daughter’s safety like so many times in the past. Still, she needed to know.
“Blizzard,” asked Rosebud, “where’s Lunarstar.”
“Rosebud,” replied Blizzard, quietly, “it’s about Lunarstar.”
He then told her everything about what had happened when he had gone to the forest, and about what he had founding the clearing. After he had finished, he expected to Rosebud to start becoming upset.
The older mare, however, simply stood there, staring at him. An anguished, but calm look was on her face. The idea that Lunarstar missing, and that her life may be in danger, was something she and her husband, Booster, had faced many times before. This time was no different.
“Rosebud?” asked Blizzard, after the mare hadn’t said a word. “Rosebud?”
Realizing that Blizzard was still standing there in front of her, Rosebud finally spoke. “Blizzard,” she instructed calmly, “call Starfire and Skyview. Their hotel room numbers are written on a piece of paper near the phone, and tell them to get the hell over here as fast as they can.”
Blizzard nodded his head, and went over to the kitchen phone, which was hanging from a wall. Tacked on the wall next to it was a piece of paper that had various phone numbers written on it. Looking down the list, Blizzard searched for Starfire’s cell phone number. He immediately picked up the receiver, and began to dial the number.
Rosebud, meanwhile, ran out into the backyard, and headed towards Booster’s woodshop. Arriving there, she found that her husband was busy cutting some wooden boards with a band saw. He was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a blue, and a long-sleeved plaid shirt. He was also wearing both of a pair of goggles and headphone, to protect his ears and eyes while he worked. At first, because of the noise that the band saw was making, Booster didn’t hear Rosebud walk into the woodshop. But when he began to have a feeling that someone was watching him, he looked up, and saw her standing there in the entrance of the shop, with a solemn expression on her face, he turned off the saw, and than took off the headphones and goggles. Walking over to her, he noticed that there were tears in her eyes. He immediately became concerned, and realized that something was wrong.
“Rosebud,” he exclaimed, “what’s the matter?”
Instead of answering his question, Rosebud suddenly started to cry.
“Hey,” exclaimed a now concerned Booster, “what’s the matter?”
A now very distraught Rosebud said nothing, and continued to cry.
Now knowing without a doubt that his wife was upset about something, Booster placed his arms around her, and pulled closer to him.
“Rosebud,” he said soothingly, “what’s wrong?”
Attempting to hold back tears, Rosebud told him everything that Blizzard had told her. Booster, on his part, remained calmed and collect. He knew that he had to be in order to calm his wife. Like her, the memories of previous times when Lunarstar had gone missing came back to haunt him. Still holding his wife, he led her back towards the house. He needed to speak with Blizzard himself, and find out exactly what was going on.
Meanwhile, Blizzard was standing in the kitchen, holding the phone’s receiver up against his ear, while he listened to what he hoped was the ringing of Starfire’s cell phone. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, and which was only about two minutes, Blizzard heard a voice on the other end.
“Hello?” said the voice, which sounded a little annoyed for some reason. “Who is this?”
Blizzard recognized the voice. “Skyview,” he said into the phone, “it’s me Blizzard.”
“Oh, Blizzard,” replied Skyview, who now sounded a little less annoyed. “How ya doing?”
“I’m fine,” replied Blizzard, even thought, in reality, he wasn’t. “Listen, I need to talk to you about Luna.”
“What about her,” asked Skyview.”
Blizzard took a deep breath. He was very reluctant to tell Skyview about Luna, but he knew he needed too. “She’s missing,” he finally blurted out.
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Blizzard simply stood there, trying to hear anything. Blizzard sat there, listening to silence. In his mind, he wondered about what Skyview was doing that very moment on the other end of the line. More importantly, what was he thinking?
Finally, Skyview spoke. “She’s what?” he said in a deadly calm. “She’s missing?”
“Yes,” replied Blizzard. He than told Skyview about everything that happened, and about everything he had found in the forest clearing. There was another period of silence.
Skyview then said. “Okay, Blizzard, here’s what I want you to do. Are you listening?”
“Yes,” exclaimed Blizzard, “I’m listening.”
“Okay. First, I want you to guard Booster and Rosebud like a hawk. Don’t let them leave their house, until either Starfire or me get there. Two, keep that key of yours close to you at all times. We may need to go through the gate to get help from the other side. You understand all this?”
Blizzard said, “Yes, I understand.”
“Okay,” exclaimed Skyview, “I’ll be leaving Diamond City as soon as possible. I should be in Ponyville by tomorrow.“ There was a brief pause. ”Oh, and Blizzard.”
“Pray to the Gods that Luna’s safe, and that we’ll find her. Goodbye.”
Before Blizzard could say anything in response to this, Skyview hung up. Blizzard did the same, and then simply stood there. He thought about Lunarstar, and about where she could be at that very moment. Where was she? He didn’t know. Had she been harmed? He didn’t know. Who had attacked her in the clearing? He didn’t know. There were so many things that he didn’t know, and so little things he did know.
Gods. Why? Why did they let such things happen to poor Luna?
He had been told all the stories about she had been kidnapped numerous times. He heard the stories about when Stardust and his two brothers had been under the control of Star Cluster, and had tried to kidnap Lunarstar. He had also heard about how Star Cluster and Fallon had kidnapped Lunarstar, and had taken her to Drakon Island. There was also the time that he had himself had gone off to murder her.
Gods. How he hated himself because of that.
Now it seemed that someone else had now kidnapped Lunarstar for some new devious purpose. But why?
Blizzard stood there in front of the phone for several minutes, before he realized that someone was standing behind him. Turning around, he saw Booster standing there in the kitchen, with his arms wrapped around Rosebud. They both had expressions of fear, sadness, and uncertainty on their faces. Expressions that were not unlike the one that was on Blizzard’s face.
The three individual stood there in the kitchen, staring silently at each for a full minute, before Booster spoke up, “Well?”
“I talked to Skyview,” explained Blizzard, “and he told me that he’ll call Starfire. They should both be here by tomorrow.”
“Did he say anything else?” asked Booster
Blizzard nodded. “Yeah, he also told to not to let you leave the house until either he or Starfire get here, and that I should keep my key to the gate close to me at all times.”
An expression of disbelief appeared on Booster’s face. “You mean they want us to stay in the house, and not go out looking for Lunarstar?”
“Yes,” confirmed Blizzard, “that’s what he told me.”
“Why?” was Booster’s next question.
“I guess,” theorized Blizzard, “that he figures that you and Rosebud may also be targets of whoever attacked and kidnapped Luna.”
To Booster, that made sense. Whenever something had happened to Lunarstar, Buster and Charade, and than later on, Skyview and Starfire, had always been concerned with his and Rosebud’s safety in case they ever became targets. Remembering it now reminded Booster about the days when Buster and Charades used to live there, and how they would go out with Lunarstar to protect her. Personally, he felt a little sad that they no longer lived there, and protected Lunarstar. It seemed only yesterday that she had brought them home, when they had been claiming to seek work. Course, later on, they later revealed who they really were, and who Lunarstar really was. Needless to say, it had been both a shock him and Rosebud when they found out. But overtime, they learned to accept it, and, like life, times changed. For Booster and Rosebud, the changed had been hard to take. Especially when Lunarstar went to live with her real parents. They had faced many personal hardships when that happened. But soon, Lunarstar, her father, and her uncles had come to live with them during the summer. At first, Booster had had a hard time living with the fact that Stardust and his brothers were now good. He still remembered living with the fear that they would one day catch Lunarstar, and take her way across the portal to the other world. In fact, they once did. And even thought they had turned good, Booster still held a deep hatred for how they had terrorized him, and his family. In fact, during one summer when they and Lunarstar had been staying over during the summer, Booster had entertained the idea of having the three black ponies go out with him into the woods, supposedly to collect wood, and where Booster, using the skills he learned as a commando in the National Equinan Army during the Jungle Wars of the 1960’s, would skillfully and silently ‘dispose’ of them, and make it look like an accident. However, Booster had come to his senses, and realized that doing such a thing would only upset Lunarstar, and would turn him into a murderer. That was something he could never live with on his concise. So, he had learned to get along with the black ponies for at least Lunarstar’s sake. Soon, things became better when Blizzard soon made his first appearance in the grand scheme of things, and Booster and Rosebud found someone new to love. Someone who had became a son to them, and who had eventually married their beloved Lunarstar. But now, it seemed, everything seemed to be in danger of being blown to pieces by the forces of evil.
Who had tried to harm Lunarstar this time?
It couldn’t have been those who had tried to harm Lunarstar in the past, since Star Cluster had become good and was now the new Guardian of the Flaming Pearl, so it couldn’t be him. Both Fallon, and his younger brother, Teriney, had both been dead for years, so it couldn’t of been them either. So who could it be? More importantly, where the hell was Lunarstar, and how was she? Despite the fact that he wanted to go out and find Lunarstar by himself, Booster knew that it would be a better idea to just sit tight and wait until Skyview and Starfire arrived.
A solemn expression was on Skyview’s face as he hung the receiver of the phone that sat on top of the nightstand in front of him. Standing there, completely naked, in the middle of the hotel room that he and Raindrop shared, he could only think of one thing.
‘Oh gods, not again.’
Once again, like many times before-Skyview himself had bee more than involved in a few incidents-Luna had been disappeared, and now there was clear evidence that some violence had been involved. This, based on Skyview’s personal experience, led to one question. A question that he hated to ask himself, but he knew he had to.
Was Lunarstar alive or dead at that moment?
He knew that, from what Blizzard had said about finding blood at the clearing and on the picnic basket, Luna had been injured, but how severely? And were they life threatening?
That is, if Lunarstar was still even alive…
Skyview quickly forced thoughts like that out of his head. He had to keep hoping that his niece was still alive, and `was just waiting to be rescued. He had to hope for the best for the sake of his entire family, no matter in which world they lived in. He especially needed to be hopeful for Blizzard and Iceberg. If anything had happen to Lunarstar, Blizzard would become a widower, and Iceberg would become an orphan…that was something that Skyview could never allow that to happen.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he heard a voice from behind him.
“Skyview, honey, come back to bed.”
Turing around, Skyview saw that his wife, Raindrop, who was also completely naked, and who was sitting in bed, staring at him. Noticing the expression on his face, she asked, “Skyview, what’s wrong?”
”I just talked to Blizzard on the phone,” he finally said. He took a deep breath, and added, “Luna is missing.”
“She’s missing?” asked Raindrop, as soon as she heard that her nice was missing. She immediately got herself on the bed, and walked over until she was standing directly in front of her husband. “What happened?” Skyview told her everything that Blizzard had told him. Immediately, a look of shock and horror appeared on her face. “Oh gods!”
Instinctively, she and Skyview wrapped their arms around each other in order to embrace one another. It was apparent that she was now upset over the news that her beloved niece was once again in some sort of danger. This was not surprising, since Raindrop and Luna had become very fond with each other during the past several years. As a result, they were had become close the same way that Luna had become close with her other aunt, Birdie, who was Raindrop’s sister, and Starfire’s wife. Skyview did not doubt for a second that Birdie would also become upset when she learned that something had happened to her niece. In fact, the entire family, and all their close friends, would be come upset when they learned that something had happened to Luna.
After comforting a distraught Raindrop for several minutes, Skyview said, “Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. First, we’re going to get dressed. Then were going to call Starfire and Birdie and tell them about what happened. Next, we’re going to pack up our things, and store them in the car. After that, we’ll all get in the drive back to Ponyville as quick as we can. We’ll eat dinner on the way. Now how does that plan sound?”
Raindrop nodded her head. “Okay.” She then said, “I hope we find her.”
“We will find her,” said Skyview, determinedly. “We will find her. I promise.”
About twenty minutes later Skyview and Raindrop had both gotten dressed, and while Raindrop, who was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a white long-sleeved blouse , was busy fixing her hair in the bathroom, Skyview, ,was once again dialing a number on the telephone in their room. Holding up the receiver to his ear, Skyview listened as the phone on the other end rung for almost a minute, before he heard Starfire’s voice.”
“Hello?” said Starfire on the other end of the phone. “Who is this?”
“Starfire,” replied Skyview into the phone, “it’s me, Skyview.”
“Oh, Skyview, hello.” Star fire, for some reason, sounded very happy. “Look, I’m glad you called, because I have an idea about someplace where we can eat dinner tonight. You see, me and Birdie discovered a nice little restaurant down by the…”
But before he could finish, Skyview interrupted him. “Stafire,” he said in a serious tone of voice, “I need to talk with you.”
Instantly, Starfire, based on the tone of his brother’s voice, knew immediately that something bad had happened. “Skyview, what’s wrong?”
Skyview sighed. He was really reluctant about having to also ruin his brother and sister in law’s vacation with the news that their niece had disappeared., but he knew that he had to tell them. “Starfire, I just got a call from Blizzard. Something has happened to Luna, and now she’s missing.”
There was an expected pause on the other end of the line. Finally Starfire said, “What?”
“Luna is missing,” repeated Skyview. He then explained about everything that Blizzard had told him.
Before he could finish his final sentence, he was interrupted by a string of curses from his brother, who sounded like he was having a complete thermonuclear meltdown over the fact that his niece was missing, and possibly in danger. Course, he had every right to do so, but it was probably be a bad idea to do it over the phone of a four-star hotel.
Skyview stood there for almost two minutes, while he waited for his brother to calm down. In meantime, he listened to Starfire as he used the foulest language ever exclaimed by any pony in the entire universe. Skyview had to admit to himself that he had never even heard of some of the words that his brother was using. Course, it may just been mindless anger talking, but Skyview could of swore that he heard Starfire curse Blizzard. He probably didn’t mean it, though.
Finally, after almost two full minutes of listening to his brother curse everything under the sun, Skyview heard a calmer female voice in the background tell Starfire to calm down, which he did. “Skyview?”
“We need to get back there now.”
“I’m way ahead of you on that one, Starfire.”
The two of them then discussed what they were planning to do when they got back to Ponyville. After they were finished, Skyview hung up the phone, and called out to Raindrop, who came walking out of the bathroom with freshly combed hair. “What is it?”
“Raindrop,” exclaimed Skyview, “I want you to pack up our things. We’re going to meet Starfire and Birdie in the lobby, check out, and then head back to Ponyville as fast as we can. Okay?”
Raindrop nodded. “Okay.”
She and Skyview then began to pack their things faster then they had ever pack anything before. In both their minds, thought only about Luna, and what she was doing, if she was doing anything at all, at that very moment.
Lunarstar had to admit that she was more relaxed than she had been only a few hours ago. About an hour after Star Flame had left Lunarstar to rest, she had returned with lunch, and new friend, a unicorn stallion named Sunbeam, who Lunarstar had taken an instant liking to because of his sense of his zany sense of humor. After enjoying a delicious lunch at a table that had been set up on the balcony that sat outside the room that Lunarstar had been sleeping in, the three ponies sat back in their chairs, with the intention of lunging around while they digest their recently consumed lunch. Even though she had been too busy eating her lunch to ask her new friends any questions, Lunarstar now found the perfect opportunity to start asking questions about where she was, how had she gotten there, and, more importantly, why was Teriney still alive, when Lunarstar knew perfectly well that he was dead?
“Well,” exclaimed Lunarstar, “that was delicious.”
“I glad you liked it,” replied Sunbeam. “ I cooked myself.”
“So,” said Star Flame, “now that our bellies are full, I think it’s about time that me and Sunbeam here start coming clean about, well, everything. Especially about how you came here, and about…”
“Teriney,” said Lunarstar, flatly. She was surprised by how straightforward Star Flame had been.
Star Flame nodded. “Exactly.” She took a deep breath. “So, where to begin…”
“I think,” interrupted Sunbeam, “that Lunarstar should first tell us about what happened to her.”
A curious look came across Star Flame’s face. “Something happened to Lunarstar?”
Ignoring Star Flame’s question, Sunbeam looked at Lunarstar, and asked, “But only if you can remember anything. Okay?”
Seeing that Sunbeam knew that about what had happened to her, and also seeing that there was a sympathetic look in his eyes, Lunarstar nodded. “Okay.” She then recounted about everything that had happened between the time she arrived at the clearing to when she had been gunned down, and feel unconscious. She was careful about not mentioning her family or any other personal information, because, despite the fact that they were friendly, Lunarstar was still a little hesitant to tell Sunbeam and Lunarstar about anything personal about herself should it turn out that they were the ones who had attacked her, and that having lunch wither was a way of getting to drop her guard in order to interrogate her. What if she was being held as a prisoner in this castle, which she now knew was a castle, which Sunbeam and Star Flame, and Teriney, seemed to occupy here in a world where castles didn’t exist.
An unsettling thought soon started to slowly come over Lunarstar.
What if, gods forbid, everything that had happened to her today, from being ambushed in the in the clearing to finding herself having lunch with Sunbeam and Star Flame, had all been some devious plot that had been orchestrated by Teriney in order to capture her for some devious reason. In a way, it made perfect sense.
Assuming that Teriney had somehow come back from the dead, one of the firsts things he would do would be to try, and get revenge on Lunarstar, since it was her, and her family who had defeated him during that battle in Secret Valley all those years ago. Of course, this itself brought up a number of questions that Lunarstar knew would be only answered by talking with Sunbeam and Star Flame. Of course, this may involve being honest with them about who she really was…well, so be it.
“Okay,” said Lunarstar, “here’s what I remember.”
She then began to recount everything that had happened to her since that particular day began, with specific emphasis on the events in the clearing. While she spoke, Sunbeam nodded his head, while he silently listened. On the other hand, Star Flame appeared to be shocked, and then angered, by what she heard.
“Lousy Cult bastards!” she muttered angrily, when she was finished. “It just had to be them.”
Lunarstar was about to ask about who this ‘Cult’ was, but decided that it would be better if Sunbeam and Star Flame explain. “Okay, now that I’ve told you everything I would like you to start being honest with me about everything.” Laying back in her chair, she said, “Now let’s start with two basic questions; What are you doing here in this castle with Teriney, and how did I get here?”
While she waited for an answer, Sunbeam and Star Flame looked at each other as if to ask each other if they should tell her the truth. They both then nodded, and turned their attention back to Lunarstar.
“All right, we’ll tell you,” said Sunbeam.
He then launched into a full explanation about why she was there in the castle with them and Teriney. He also explained about who exactly had attacked her in the clearing. By the time he was finished, Lunarstar was left in total shock…
While Lunarstar was talking with Sunbeam and Star Flame out on the balcony, Teriney was hidden in the adjoining room. Kneeling against the wall right next to the entrance to the balcony. Listening to Lunarstar as she spoke about the events in the clearing, he mentally cursed himself for not showing up in time. If he had only leapt into the clearing a few seconds earlier, he would have been able to fully protect Lunarstar from the full onslaught of her attackers. But things had turned out differently, and now she was here, talking to Star Flame and Sunbeam, two of Teriney’s closet friends, and learning part of the truth behind everything. There were some things she wasn’t being told, but Teriney knew that he himself would have to tell her about those, which also meant that he would have to com face to face with her. However, because of obvious reasons, this wouldn’t be an easy thing for him, or her, to do after all these years.
As soon as Sunbeam was finished, Lunarstar sat there in her seat, neither moving, or making a sound. Her eyes were closed, and there was a solemn expression on her face. After several minutes of sitting this way, she slowly out of her chair, she silently walked over to the rail of the balcony, and, placing her hands on it, leaned slightly forward as she thought about everything that had just been told her. Most individual would be shocked and in disbelief at what she had had been told. Lunarstar, however, was not. She knew from personal experience that such things were possible. Actually, to completely honest, she only knew that some of the things that she had been told were possible. There were other things that she had trouble in believing that they were possible. But Lunarstar knew that she would have to wait before she would get any more answers. Just as she would have to wait for only the Gods know how long before she could be home again, and be with her family.
Ever since she had found herself in this castle- in a world that supposedly didn’t have any castles-Lunarstar had been thinking about her family, and about they were probably reacting about her disappearance from the clearing. Course, that’s if they even knew that she was missing. She had told them that she would be going out into the clearing that morning, but she didn’t tell them about how long she would be there, so it would take a while before they realized that anything had even happened to her. That’s if no one didn’t go the clearing themselves for some reason. If that happened…well, they would discover that she was missing a lot quicker.
Course, when and if they discovered they were missing, there was no way of telling how long it would take for them to search for her, and they would search for her. Every time, she had been kidnapped, her family and friends would come search for her no matter how long or far it took. Unfortunately for Lunarstar, she had been kidnapped on several occasions during her life, ever since she had discovered the truth about who she really was, and where she actually came from. Looking at the grand scheme of things, it sort of appeared as if all the trouble that had personally affected Lunarstar had started when the part of her life that she didn’t even know about revealed itself to her. In simpler terms, as soon as she had found out that she was a princess from a magical kingdom, the shit had started to hit the fan. Almost overnight, Lunarstar’s life had changed completely. No longer was she simply Luna, the young filly who went to school and the ice cream shop with her friends, who lived with two loving parents, and who was actually a winged unicorn in disguise.
She was now Luna, the young filly who was a winged unicorn in disguise, and who was actually a princess from a magical kingdom called Ponyland, who had been left on the doorstep of two strangers in a non-magical world by her mother, because her evil Uncle Star Cluster had taken control of Ponyland, and who was hunting down members of his family so that they couldn’t threaten his sitting on the throne. As soon as this was all revealed to her, Lunarstar and everyone else began to fear for her safety.
Thankfully, Buster and Charades, who Lunarstar would always consider as the older brothers and who would love them as such until the end of time, had already been living them for a while, and automatically became her two guardians. Lunarstar had very fond memories of how, after dinner, she, Buster, and Charades, would go out into the woods in order to have some fun, and to allow Lunarstar to openly spend some time in her true form as winged unicorn. While in the woods, they would play games, such as hide and seek and tag. They would also sit around and talk. Buster and Charades would talk about Ponyland, while Lunarstar would talk openly about how she felt about knowing that she was actually a princess. It ws here that she would let her true feelings be known. One night, in an angry rage, she had told her friends about how she thought that everything in her life that had to do with Ponyland, magic, Star Cluster, the three individuals collectively known as the Black Ponies-who had at that time had made their first attempt to kidnap her-and being a princess was all a bunch of shit that she didn’t want in her life, and about how she just wanted to live happily in Ponyville with family and friends. Buster and Charades had immediately understood how she felt, and sympathized with her. They also enjoyed living in Ponyville, but, they had told her, there were just some things that one had deal with, no matter what. Lunarstar, who completely understood what her friends were telling her, decided that maybe being a princess in a magical kingdom wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. She would never regret that decision for the rest of her life.
Lunarstar’s thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of heavy footsteps behind her. Turning around, she saw that Star Flame and Sunbeam where still sitting where she had left them, and that they were now looking at something. Following the direction that their eyes were pointed at, she saw that another individual had now joined them on the balcony. To her immediate shock, she saw that it was Teriney…
The mood in the entire house, for all intents and purposes, was one of tension and uncertainty. It had been over several hours, since Blizzard had called Skyview, and had told him about Lunarstar’s disappearance. During the time since then, the three ponies had been nearly going insane as they waited for him, his brother and their wives to return from Diamond City. Unfortunately, Diamond City was located several hundred miles away from Ponyville, so it would take them a while to arrive. To be honest, it wasn’t the waiting that was the problem. It was having to stay put, as Skyview had instructed them to, and not go out and search for Luna, which is what Blizzard wanted to do. At that moment, he was currently pacing back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room as he thought about his missing wife, and how he wasn’t going out to look for her, like he wanted to. As much as he trusted Skyview and valued his instructions, Blizzard still felt that he needed to go out, and find Luna himself. However, he had been told that he, Booster, and Rosebud, might also be targeted by whoever kidnap Luna, so, for their own safety, they had to stay in the house.
Blizzard did not like having to do this at all.
Here he was, the King of Secret Valley, pacing back and forth in total uncertainty about the current whereabouts of his own beloved wife, while he waited for her two uncles to arrive, and take charge of the situation. With how far they to travel, it was going to be a while before they could take charge of anything. As he paced back and forth, Blizzard began to mumble under his breath.
“Godamn Skyview! Godamn Starfire! Why the hell do I have to wait for them to show up, before I can go search for my own fucking wife? I mean, I not some young colt, who has half his skin being eaten away by acid. I’m now the king of Secret Valley, and I will damn well decide what to do when my own wife disappears. And you know what? I’m going out to find her.” And with that remark, he went upstairs to the guest room that he and Luna had been staying in, and began to search through the canvas bag that he had been carrying his things in. After searching for about a minute or so, he finally found what he was looking for. It was a 9mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol that was sitting in a leather holster. Blizzard took the gun out of its holster, and examined it. It was gun metal gray, with a handle varnished with oak wood. Engraved on both side of the handle was the image of Blizzard personal symbol, an intricately designed snowflake. Also sitting in the bag was another Browning Hi-Power that sat in a leather holster. While being nearly identical to Blizzard’s gun, it was different in the fact that it had Luna’s symbol engraved on both sides of the handle. The two guns made up a two-piece set that Booster had give to both Blizzard and Luna as a wedding gift, when they visited him and Rosebud the a week or so after getting married. Because guns were a relatively unknown thing in Ponyland, the young couple kept their two pistols in storage at Booster’s home in Ponyville, where they would be waiting for them whenever they came through the realm gate out in the woods. They also decided to keep the guns in Ponyville, because they thought it would be a good idea to keep them a secret away from Luna’s family. They didn’t know how Stardust would have reacted to the idea of having his daughter and son-in-law owning guns, but they knew that they didn’t want to find out. It was a well-known fact that Stardust, based on some experiences during his time hunting for Luna in Ponyville, hated modern weapons, such as guns, with a heated passion. So, for now anyways, the pistols remained firmly locked in place in Booster’s gun cabinet, along with the stallion’s other weapons. (There was no fear of Skyview and Starfire telling Stardust about the two pistols, since they themselves possessed their own vast arsenal, which was stored in an undisclosed location out in the woods near the gate.) While most ponies would see the two pistols as a gift from a loving father to his newly married adopted daughter and son-in-law, Blizzard and Luna saw the two pistols as something completely different. They saw the two pistols as a reminder from Booster that danger, not matter what form in came in, would always be out there, and ready to harm the young couple for one reason or another. The reminder had not been lost on Blizzard’s and Luna’s minds, and they had accepted the gift of the two pistols with full understanding about what they represented.
After placing the pistol back into its holster, Blizzard strapped the holster to his belt, checked to make sure that both his cell phone and his wallet were sitting in his pocket, and then headed downstairs, and into the living room.
Sitting on the couch for the last several hours was Booster, who had been holding a very distraught Rosebud in arms in order to comfort her. They both looked at Blizzard, when he entered the room and stood in front of them.
“I’m going out to find Luna,” he said. “I’m not sure if I can find her on my own, but I can sure as hell try.”
“But Skyview said we should stay here,” reminded Rosebud, “until he and Starfire get here.”
Red hot anger instantly flashed thought Blizzard, when he was reminded of what Skyview had told him to do. But for Rosebud’s sake, he kept his ever-growing anger suppressed, and remained calm. “To be honest, Rosebud, now that I think of it, I really don’t give a flying fuck about what Skyview wants me to do.”
This response shocked both Rosebud and Booster. For as long as they could remember, they had never heard Blizzard curse either Skyview or Starfire.
For some strange reason, however, they both felt a little relieved about how someone was finally going to do something about finding their adopted daughter. Still, Skyview did say that they should stay in the house, until he arrived.
“Look,” said Blizzard as he saw the expression on both Booster and Rosebud’s faces, “I don’t know about you, but just standing here, waiting for Skyview, instead of going out and finding Luna is driving me crazy.” It was apparent that he was trying very hard not to raise his voice. “So I’m going to ignore Skyview’s idiotic instructions, and go out there to look for my wife!” He the marched towards the front door, and grabbed his jacket from off a nearby coat rack as he went. Opening the door halfway, and with right hand still gripping the knob, he turned and looked towards Booster and Rosebud. “Goodbye!”
He then walked out the door, shutting it closed with a loud bang as he went. Once outside, he put one his jacket, and marched towards his car.
Meanwhile, Booster got up from where he was sitting on the couch with his wife, and also headed towards the front door.
“Where are you going?” asked Rosebud, as she watched her husband walk away.
Booster stopped in his tracks, and turned around to face his wife. “I’m going to make sure that young fool doesn’t do anything stupid.”
And with that, he walked out the front door, and headed directly towards Blizzard and his car.
Blizzard had already climbed into his car, and was about to start the ignition, when the passenger side door opened, and Booster climbed in, shutting the door behind him. He then reached over, turned the ignition off, and then yanked out the keys.
A surprised Blizzard looked at him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m here to stop you,” replied Booster, determinedly, “from going out and searching for Lunarstar alone.”
“Now wait just a minute…” begin blizzard, who was going to object to Booster coming with him.
Booster interrupted him. “Now you listen to me, Blizzard, and you listen good. I, like you, love Lunarstar with all my heart. In fact, I loved her long before I even knew you. But yet I love the both of you.” He closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them. “So that means,” his voice continued softly, “if you think I’m going to let you go out there all alone, whoever attacked Lunarstar are still out there, you have another thing coming, because I will not lose the both of you. If that happened, me and Rosebud will be immersed in grief for the rest of our lives, and we’ve already come pretty close to that on several occasions.” He looked directly into Blizzard’s eyes. “Understand?”
To say the least, Blizzard did understand. It was true that both Booster and Rosebud had loved Luna long then he had, and they now also loved him. He also understood about all the fear and grief they had been thought with Luna, while her father and uncles had been chasing her, while under the control of Star Cluster. Later on, he himself had caused some of that grief, when he had been trying to kill Luna, while serving Teriney. Now, both Booster and Rosebud were once again grieved over Luna, but this time they also had Blizzard to be cornered about. In hindsight, Blizzard realized that going out to look for Luna alone-without any true idea about where to look-was probably a bad decision. Not only would be futile, but it would also put Booster and Rosebud in danger should whoever attacked Luna come and attack them. Blizzard now knew without a doubt that he needed to stay out, until Skyview and Starfire arrived. Whenever that would be.
Blizzard slowly nodded his head. “Okay, Booster, your right. I’ll stay here.” He then sighed sadly. “Course, that still means that Luna is still out there. You know?”
Knowing full well what Blizzard meant, Booster nodded his head, and placed his hand on Blizzard’s shoulders in a gesture of sympathy. “Yes, I know,” he agreed. “But we’ll just have to wait for Skyview and Starfire, until we can do something about it.”
Upon hearing this remark, a look of skepticism appeared on Blizzard’s face. He then said flatly, “Booster, can I be honest with you.”
“I thinks so,” replied Booster, who, upon seeing the look of Blizzard’s expression, was starting to have a feeling that the younger stallion was about say something about Skyview and Starfire, and that it wasn’t good. “Go ahead.”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but…” Blizzard seemed to be hesitant to continue.
“Go on,” prodded Booster, gently. “But what?”
“Well,” continued Blizzard, “it’s just that I don’t trust Skyview and Starfire, or Stardust and Star Cluster for that matter.” He then said in a quiet voice. “In fact, to tell you the truth, I think their still evil, and that their been pretending that they changed, since Star Cluster no longer has the power to back him up. What do you think?” Blizzard saw that Booster was only staring at him solemnly, and he began to have doubts about whether he should have told the older stallion about how he really felt about Luna’s father and uncles. He then began to become frantic, and quickly added, “That’s just how I feel. I mean, I could be wrong, and…”
He stopped when Booster took his right hand with his own right hand, and gripped firmly. “Blizzard,” he said gently, “it’s all right. I completely agree, with you. I’ve never liked or trust Stardust and his brothers either, and I’m glad that at least somebody else feels the same way.” He then grinned. “So as you young ponies say these days: Join the club. We have jackets.”
Blizzard began to chuckle at Booster’s joke. It was just the thing to break the tense, emotional mood that had dominated their conversation so far. He was also glad that there was someone, who felt the same way he did. Yet, he had to make sure. “You don’t like them, either?”
Booster shook his head. “Nope, not after the what they put Lunarstar, me, and Rosebud through.” For a moment, the tone of his voice became more aggressive. “To tell you the truth, I have never trusted them.”
“Really?” asked a now curious Blizzard. “Why?”
He listened carefully, while Booster explained his reasons for not trusting Star Dust and his brothers. To say the least, Blizzard explained his own reasons for not trusting them. Abut an hour later; the two stallions had formed a mutual understanding: hey both disliked and mistrusted Star Dust and his brothers. Although, for very different reasons. Talking for a little more, they both formed a theory as to Luna’s disappearance. Despite the lack of credible evidence, they believed that Stardust and his brothers might have had something to do with it. Course, it was also possible that they weren’t evil, and that they had nothing to do with Luna’s disappearance whatsoever, and were innocent.
Neither Blizzard, nor Booster, knew the truth, but they were dead set on finding both it and Luna.
Their conversation was soon interrupted, when Blizzard soon stopped talking, and looked straight out the windshield of the car towards the house.
“What is it?” asked Booster. He too also looked out the windshield towards the house.
The two stallions both saw that Rosebud had come out of the house, and was standing on the front porch of the house looking directly towards Blizzard’s car, which the two stallions were sitting in at the moment. There was a look of uncertainty on her face.
“I think it’s about time we went back inside,” suggested Booster. “Rosebud’s probably been wondering about what we’ve been doing in here for all this time.”
“Yeah, your right,” agreed Blizzard. “Only the Gods know what she’s probably been thinking.”
He and Booster then got out of the car, closing the doors behind him, and then walked back up to the house. Upon arriving at the porch, Rosebud, without saying anything, threw her arms around Booster, and hugged him tightly. Booster did the same.
As he watched them embrace each other, Blizzard thought about Luna even more, and how it was painful for him to stay in one place, and wait for some relatives of questionable loyalty to arrive, while he was own beloved wife was out there, being held captive by an unknown force of evil for some nefarious reason. For all he knew, she might even be dead by now. He just didn’t know, and that was what was painful for him.
When Skyview and Starfire had finally arrived, Blizzard would be prepared to do anything to find his wife.
The two individuals stared at each other from opposite sides of the balcony. As they stared, they each thought about how the other had affected their lives, and about how they had once thought they would never see each other again. They also thought about the series of violent and climatic events that had led to them to the current situation that they now found themselves in. Although, in regard to this, one knew more, then the other did about this.
Off to the side, both Star Flame and Sunbeam sat, watching in silence. They, like the individuals who stood before them, had no idea about what to do, or say.
Finally, after several minutes of awkward silence, the two individuals finally spoke in hushed, quiet voices.
For a few more minutes, there was silence as both Teriney and Luna stared at each other, and took in the significance of them being in the same place together, simply looking at each other. It was, to say the least, a very awkward and incredible situation that either of them had ever been in, and one which they had never thought that they would be in together.
Hell, they had thought that they would never be in a situation, except one in which one of them was trying to kill the other, and such.
But yet here they were, staring at each other silently, as they stood there on opposite sides of the balcony.
Suddenly, Teriney turned his head and looked at Star Flame and Sunbeam. “Could you leave us alone for a while. Luna and I have some things that we would like to talk about in private, if you don’t mind. Okay?”
Sunbeam nodded his head. “Yeah sure. Understand.” He turned to Star Flame. “Come on, let’s give’em some privacy.” He got up of is chair, and walked off the balcony, and into the room. He stopped and turned, when Star Flame didn’t follow him. “You coming?”
Star Flame nodded and then got up, and followed him. As she left, she glanced at both Luna and Teriney, and wondered about what was the deal with those two. She figured that it whatever it was may have had something to do with the strange feeling that she had felt, when she had first met Luna. But only time would tell, whether that was true, or not.
As she walked into the corridor, Star Flame closed the door behind her, and looked at Sunbeam. “What was that all about?” she asked, motioning towards the door, and the balcony, behind her.
“Whatever do you mean?” replied Sunbeam, innocently, as he leaned against the far wall of the corridor, with his arms crossed.
“I mean,” said Star Flame, as she stepped in front of him, “with the way Teriney and Luna were looking at each other, it was like they already knew each other.”
Sunbeam hoped that she didn’t suspect anything.
“Well I thought that they were supposed to be complete strangers,” reminded Star Flame. “So what could they have to talk about in private?”
Acting like he knew nothing, Sunbeam shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Teriney said he hasn’t seen Luna in…years.” With a sense of dread, Sunbeam suddenly realized that he had inexplicably given away the fact that he knew something about Teriney and Lunarstar that Star Flame didn’t.
“Yeah, go on,” urged Star Flame. “You said they haven’t seen each other in years?”
Sunbeam sighed heavily, as he realized that there was no way he was going to get out of telling Star Flame everything he knew. “Al right,” he sighed. “I promised Teriney that I wouldn’t tell anyone, but since we told Lunarstar everything about us, I guess I should tell you everything about her.”
So he began to tell Star Flame everything that Teriney had told him about Lunarstar, and who she really was.
When he was finished, it was Star Flame’s jaw that nearly hit the floor…
Meanwhile, back on the balcony, Luna and Teriney were continuing to stare at each other in silence. Both of them wanted to say something to each other, but they were both reluctant to. In truth, they were afraid of how the other would react to seeing each other again, after so many years.
But still, the tension that had now fallen over the both of them was quickly becoming unbearable…
Finally, Lunarstar couldn’t take it anymore, and quickly blurted out the question that had been in her mind during all this time. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
Teriney closed his eyes shut. “Yes, I am.” He then opened his eyes. “But as you can see, I am quite alive.”
“As can see that,” remarked Luna. “This might be the most obvious question I can ask you, but how? How can you still be alive?”
What could only be described as a sly smile appeared on Teriney’s face. “I knew that you were going to ask me that.”
Luna automatically shrugged her shoulders. “What did you expect me to ask?” she replied. “You’ve been dead for two years.”
“I have been dead for two and a half years,” corrected Teriney. “So, you’re probably wondering about a few things.”
“A few?” repeated Luna. “How about ‘The individual, who I though was dead, is actually alive and well, and is the one who…’ Teriney knew what she was going to say next, “’…saved my life’.”
This took Teriney completely by surprise. He had been expecting her to mention about how he had tried to kill her in order to get control of the Realm Gate. Yet, instead she had mention about how he had saved her life from the soldiers back in the clearing. Teriney took this as a sign that Luna attitude towards him had change. Course, he did still expect her to remember all about how he had tried to kill her and her family, and all the other evil deeds he had committed
“Luna,” he reminded her, “don’t you remember about everything I did to you?”
Upon remembering, Luna shut her eyes tight for a few seconds, and then opened them. “Yes, I remember,” she said, quietly. “I’ve haven’t forgotten, and I never will.”
This last remark caused Teriney to wince in pain. So, she had remembered about everything. Well, it’s not like he couldn’t blame her. “I…” he began, but stopped. Was it really worth…
“What?” asked Luna, when he had suddenly stopped his sentence. “What is it?”
“I,” he said, again, “just want to…apologize for attempting to harm you and your family. It was wrong of me to do those things, and I am sorry.” He shut his eyes, and tears began to appear from them. He then opened his eyes. “I understand if you still hate me.”
The thoughts of all the evil deeds that he had committed, and the grief and sorrow that those acts had caused, suddenly became too much for Teriney, and he quickly turned away from Luna. Then, in one fluid motion, he spread his leathery dragon wings outward, and took off into the air. Once airborne, he headed westward towards the great pine forest that seemed to surround the castle.
Back on the balcony, a shocked and bewildered Luna watched him fly away. She was not sure about what to think at that moment. Teriney’s attempt as apologizing to her for all his evil deeds did tell her that this Teriney was not the one who she had encountered all those years ago. This Teriney, through one way or another, had somehow changed. But what had caused this change in him? Better yet, what had brought him back to life in the first place? Luna figured that the only way to answer these questions and others was to get them fromTeriney. But first, she had to follow him.
In one swift motion, Luna changed from her earthling form to her winged unicorn form, and took off into the air and also headed west to follow Teriney.
It was now seven o’clock in the evening. The sun was slowing starting to sink behind the horizon, and the day’s light was slowly starting to fade. In about two hours, the sun would have disappeared behind the horizon, and night would have fallen over Ponyville. As they waited for Skyview and Starfire to arrive, the three occupants at 315 Sugar Tree Road were trying to keep themselves occupied, and keep their minds off of Luna.
Rosebud was in the kitchen, cooking a simple dinner of everyone. It was a simple dinner, because they had originally planned to go out to dinner that night, but then certain events had made that impossible. So they were going to eat something simple tonight, as they waited. Course on the Gods knew how long they were going to wait.
Rosebud had never openly admitted it to anyone, but for years she had harbored a deep hatred for both Skyview, and Starfire. This was mainly because of all the emotional turmoil that they had put her and her family through, when they were chasing Lunarstar, while they were under the control of Star Cluster. Almost everyday, it had seemed, they were trying to kidnap her, and take her across the realm gate to the other world. To Rosebud, it was unbearable to have her one and only daughter be the constant target of such evil ponies, and their evil intentions. Course, later on, Skyview and Starfire had changed to the side of good, and became loving members of the family.
It didn’t make much difference, though, because Rosebud still held a deep hatred for the both of them, and she always would for as long as she lived.
In fact, as soon as they had walked through the front door for the first time as members of the family, Rosebud had felt like tearing them apart with her bare hands.
But, for her family’s sake, she had willed herself to accept Skyview and Starfire and their two other brothers, Stardust and Star Cluster, as members of the family. Although, to keep herself from simply killing the on sight, Rosebud started drinking various alcoholic beverages to calm herself down.
Still, she would always hold a great hatred for The Black Ponies, and for what they had done to her and her family.
But now she was forced to rely on the ponies that she hated in order to find her beloved daughter, Luna.
Oh, the irony…
While she was standing in front of the sink, washing fresh vegetables before she turned them into a salad, Rosebud happened to glance up at the kitchen window in front of her, and caught site of a black 1970 Jaguar XJ6 four-door sedan pulling into the driveway. She immediately knew who it was. A mild sort of anger started to grow inside of her.
‘So,’ she thought, sourly, ‘the black and blue bastards are finally here.’
She walked out of the kitchen, and into the living room. There she found Booster and Blizzard sitting there, watching TV.
“They’re here,” she exclaimed.
Immediately, both Blizzard and Booster turned away from the TV, and looked at here.
“Whose here?” asked Booster, who was sitting in a reclining chair on the right side of the room.
“Skyview and Starfire,” replied Rosebud.
“Finally,” remarked Blizzard, who was sitting on a couch on the left side of the room.
With an ominous glance over to Booster, who nodded his head in understanding, they both got up, and headed outside, with Rosebud following close, but cautiously, behind them. As they came closer to the car, they found Skyview, Starfire, and their respective wife’s, had gotten out of the car, and were heading directly towards them. Skyview was wearing a pair of khaki trouser pants and a blue long-sleeved, flannel shirt. Raindrop was wearing a white, long-sleeved blouse, and a pair of dark green slack pants. Starfire was wearing a long-sleeved, dark red flannel shirt, while Birdie was wearing a light green, long sleeved-blouse. They were both wearing blue jeans.
As the two groups of ponies came together on the front yard, Booster was the first to speak.
“It’s good to see you,” he exclaimed, solemnly to Skyview. “We were wondering when you would get here?”
“Ya, so were we,” replied Skyview. “It took nearly forever to get here from Diamond City.” Without saying another word, he looked at the house, and then at Booster. “Well, let’s get inside. We have a lot to talk about.”
Booster nodded his head in understanding. He then motioned for everyone to follow him back into the house, which they did. No one said a word, as they walked in through the front door, which Booster, who was the last one inside, closed behind them.
Without saying a word, everyone went into the living room, and sat down. While Booster, Rosebud, and Raindrop sat on the main couch, Blizzard sat across the room from them in the reclining chair. Starfire and Birdy sat in a small sofa that was located in the right rear corner of the room. Skyview, who didn’t sit down, simply stood there in the middle of the room. Silently, he looked around at the room, at his family and friends, who, based on the looks on their faces, were expecting him to say something. It was obvious that they were expecting him to take charge of the current situation, since he was the one who had starting giving instructions, when Blizzard had first called him earlier that day. Like he had admitted numerous times, Skyview was no leader, like his brother, Stardust, the King of Ponyland. In fact, the thought of being responsible for leading anything intimidated Skyview to no end. Because of this, he would always try to avoid being chosen to stand in for Stardust as ruler of Ponyland, whenever he left the kingdom. Unfortunately, he mostly didn’t have a choice in the matter. Fortunately, though, his brother Starfire, who didn’t have a problem with responsibility, would rule along side him.
But now Skyview knew that whether he wanted to be a leader or not was now important. What was important was finding Luna, and the Pegasus nobleman had already come up with what could be loosely called a plan to do just that.
“All right,” he said, finally, “here’s what we’re going to do.” He looked over at Blizzard. “ Blizzard, you’re going to take me and Starfire to the clearing. I want to have a look at those bodies you found.” He then reached into his right pants pocket, took out his keys to the Granada, and tossed them to Blizzard, who caught them in his hands. “ Here are the keys. You can drive us there.” Looking at Booster and Rosebud, he said, “Rosebud, I want you to stay here, with Raindrop and Birdy. Booster, you’re coming with us. Now let’s go.”
And with that, Skyview walked towards the front door, while motioning for his companions to follow him.
Meanwhile, everyone in the room sat there in surprise. They had not been expecting Skyview to come up with a plan of action that quickly, but come with a plan he did. Both Blizzard and Booster both quickly looked at each from opposite sides of the room for a quick second, before getting up, and following Skyview as he headed for the door. Starfire, who was also surprised at how quickly his brother had come up with a plan, kissed Birdy on the cheek, and then got up, and joined his companions.
Just as he was about to go out the door, which Skyview was holding open, Booster stopped, and looked at his wife. He then quickly walked back over to his wife, kneeled in front of her, and then both kissed and hugged her.
“Don’t worry about a thing, honey,” he said in what he hoped was his most assuring voice. “We’ll find Luna, and bring her home. I promise. Okay?”
Rosebud slowly nodded her head. Booster kissed her on the cheek again, and then walked out the door.
Just as he was about to close the door, Skyview looked at Raindrop, quickly walked over to her, and kissed her on the cheek. He then headed out the door, making sure to close it behind him.
Once outside, the four stallions made their way across the yard and climbed into the Granada, with Blizzard getting into the driver’s seat, while Booster sat in the front passenger seat next to him. Both Skyview and Starfire sat next to each other in the back seat.
After everyone had put there seatbelts on, Blizzard started the ignition of the car, backed slowly out of the driveway, turned the car to the left, and headed down the street.
Back in the house, Raindrop and Birdy were trying to comfort a clearly distraught Rosebud as they sat on either side of her on the couch.
“Don’t worry,” assured Raindrop. “The guys will find Luna. I’m sure of it.”
“Yeah,” agreed Birdy. “I mean, they found Blizzard, when he went off to find Teriney.”
Rosebud, who new that the two mares were right, nodded her head. “Your right,” she said, trying not to sob. “They will find her I just know it.” Knowing full well that just sitting around and crying wouldn’t do any good; Rosebud stood up, and stiffened herself. She then looked at Raindrop and Birdy. “Well, I was fixing some dinner, when you arrived. I’m sure your both hungry, so come on into the kitchen, and get something to eat.”
She then walked into the kitchen. Raindrop and Birdy looked at each other, and then followed her.
Several minutes later, the three mares were sitting down at the table, having dinner, when they all heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway.
“I wonder who that could be,” mused Raindrop. “It can’t be the guys.”
“I go see who it is,” volunteered Birdy. She then got up, and walked out into the living room.
Looking through the big bay window that overlooked both the driveway and front yard, she could see that a light green 1969 Triumph TR6 coupe was now parked in the driveway.
She then saw a young mare step out of the car, and walked up to the front door.
“It can’t be,” muttered Birdy to herself. “How can she be here?”
The mare that had just climbed out of the car had mint green fur, and a tail and mane that were both made up of strands of ice blue, pink, and white hair. Her eyes were ice blue in color, and were had a sparkling glimmer to them. The clothes that she was wearing were a pair of blue jeans, and a dark green, long sleeved flannel shirt. After leaving her car, the mare walked up onto the front porch, and knocked on the door.
Birdy immediately rushed over to answer it. As she opened it, she found herself staring face to face with a very familiar, and younger, mare.
“Hi, Aunt Birdy,” exclaimed Whisper, smiling. “Surprised to see me?”
Birdy’s only question to this was, “What are you doing here in this world? ”
“Well, if you let me,” replied Whisper, “I’ll be more then happy to explain.”
Realizing that her niece was still standing in the doorway, Birdy motioned for Whisper to come inside the house, which she did, and then closed the door behind her. Just before she could ask Whisper again about what she was doing in the world of Ponyville, Raindrop and Rosebud came out of the kitchen to see who Birdy was talking to. They were just a s surprised to see Whisper.
“Whisper,” exclaimed Raindrop, ”what are you doing here?”
“Gee,” remarked Whisper, as she sat down in the reclining chair, “that seems to be a popular question right now.” After settling into her chair, she said, “Well, things were a little slow in Secret Valley, and I was felling bored, so I I teleported to Ponyville to ask good king Stardust if I could use the gate to cross into this world, and take a little vacation.”
“And he said yes? asked Raindrop.
Whisper nodded. “Yep, so I came through the gate, and here I am.” She then looked around the room. “So, where are the guys? And where’s Luna?”
It was then that she noticed that the three older mares weren’t smiling like they usually did. In fact, judging by the expressions on their faces, they seemed to be disturbed by something.
‘Something’s wrong,’ she thought. ‘Something’s very wrong.’ Whisper then asked the obvious question, “Hey, what gives? Is something wrong?”
Raindrop, Birdy, and Rosebud dreaded telling Whisper about what had happened to Luna, but they knew they had to.
“Whisper,” begin Raindrop, quietly. ”Luna was…” She then went on to tell Whisper about the events before she had arrived.
When she was finished, Whisper was in complete and total shock, but she kept a firm grip on herself. She slowly got out of her seat, and kissed her adopted mother, and two aunts on the cheek. She then began to walk toward the door.
“Where are you going?” asked Birdy.
“I’m going out to the clearing to help the guys find Luna,” replied Whisper, seriously. “Don’t worry. I’ll be careful. I’m going to find Luna, if it takes to the end of time to do it. Goodbye.”
Without another word, Whisper walked out the front door, leaving the three mares in wonderment. Just like that, Whisper had vowed to go out and find Luna, without even thinking about it. This was surprising, considering the fact that they had always thought that Whisper hated Luna…
Once outside, Whisper walked straight to her car, and climbed into the driver’s seat. ‘Oh gods,’ she thought. ‘I’m too late.’
For a few full minutes, she sat there as she thought about what she had been told. She was immediately filled with a sense of dread. But despite however she felt at that moment, Whisper knew that she had to report in at that moment.
He would have to know about this.
Instinctively, she reached for the CB radio that was mounted in the dashboard of her car, and picked up the microphone with her right hand. While holding it, she reached over with her left hand, flipped on the power switch of the radio, and began to turn to the tuning dial to the right frequency.
She just hoped that He was listening for her tonight.
After finding the right frequency, Whisper pressed down on the call button, and spoke into the microphone as loudly and clearly as she could.
“Green Dove to Blue Knight, come in please, over. Green Dove to Blue Knight, come in, please.”
After what seemed like an eternity, Whisper heard an older, male voice over the speaker of the microphone.
“This is Blue Knight. I hear you, Green Dove. Report.”
A sense of relief came over Whisper as she heard the voice. “Have arrived in Ponyville, and,” She hesitated a bit, before continuing on, “Dark Force have snatched White Dragon. I repeat; Dark Forces have snatched White Dragon.”
There was silence as the Blue Knight obviously was taking in the message. “Message received, and understood, Green Dove,” he replied, with a tone that suggested that he, like Whisper, was not happy about what the message meant. “What do you plan to do now, Green Dove? Over.”
“Ice King, Black Princes One and Two, and Booster have gone off to search for White Dragon. Will follow them, and make contact, over.”
“Understood, Green Dove. Will be expecting you to report in at a later time, over.”
“Acknowledge, Blue Knight. Green Dove, over and out.”
Whisper then hung the microphone, and turned off the radio. She then stared her car, backed out of the driveway, and drove down in the street, and in the direction that she knew that the guys would be heading in to get to the clearing in the forest.
She was determined to find and protect her sister-in-law Luna, no matter what.
Far away in another world, the pony known as Blue Knight, whose real name was Buster, hung up the microphone on the interdimensional radio set that sat on the desk in front of him, and leaned back in his chair. Much to his horror, everything that he had feared had happened, and Luna was now in danger.
Buster now new what he had to do.
He stood up from his chair; picked dup his radio set, and walked over he was standing in the middle of the room. He then kenneled down on his knees, and then reached over with one hand, and pulled a stone tile off the floor, revealing a secret storage compartment. After gently placing the radio in the compartment, Booster put the tile back where it was, and then stood up. He walked out of the room, making sure to lock the door behind him, and headed down the corridor.
While he was walking, he ran into one of the castle guards that he commanded as Captain of the Guard from Dream Castle.
“Guard,” he asked, “do you know where Sir Banner is?”
“I think he’s in the town sir,” replied the Guard. “At the tavern having a drink.”
‘Where else would he be these days,’ thought Booster. ‘It’s like he’s been living there, ever since he retired.’ He nodded his head. “Thank you, Guard.”
About five minutes later, Booster was walking down the path that led from Dream Castle towards the town. For Luna’s sake, he had to meet with Banner.
It had been nearly an hour, since Luna had taken flight to search for Teriney. During that time, she had managed to keep him in her sights as she followed him from a distance. Unfortunately, night was falling, and it was gradually becoming dark, which made it more difficult for Luna to try and keep sight of Teriney. Not surprisingly, he disappeared from her view all together, as his distant form suddenly seemed to be absorbed into the darkening sky.
“Where the hell did he go?” thought Luna to herself. She then looked all around, and saw that complete darkness had fallen. “Oh shit, I’m in trouble. ”
And she was. Usually, flying at night wasn’t difficult for Luna, since she had been doing it for years. This time, however, it was. When she had suddenly flown into the air in order to chase Teriney, Luna had forgotten that the injuries that she had sustained from being gunned down in the clearing would need time to fully heal properly, which meant that she should have been resting somewhere at that moment, instead of flying. Since she wasn’t, Luna immediately felt a surge of excruciating pain every time she flapped her wings, or moved her legs. Fortunately, a firm wind began to blow, which allowed Luna to steady her wings and glide through the air, therefore reducing the amount of pain she felt.
As Luna glided through the cool, night air, she kept looking around in all directions in an attempt to get her bearings, as see where she was going. This was quickly proving to be impossible, since it was now nearly impossible to see anything. As soon as the sun had gone down, a thick cloudbank had rolled in, and had now covered the entire sky. Luna had nearly no time to react, before the thick clouds had swirled in, and surrounded her from all sides. Instinctively, she dived down to a lower altitude to get a clear view of the ground below her. Unfortunately, the seemingly endless pine forest that Luna knew was stretched out below her appeared as nothing more then a dark, featureless void.
Luna now knew without a doubt that she was in trouble.
But she didn’t panic, because she knew that panicking would only make the situation worse. Remaining as calm as she could be, Luna began to review her situation, and any and all options to were open to her.
There weren’t many…
Luna knew that the most important thing that she needed to do right now was to get out of the sky as soon as possible, and to get back down onto solid ground. The question, though, was how? There were two problems with landing that would need to be overcome. For starters, as Luna had discovered earlier, it wasn’t just dark; It was pitch black. As a result, it was next to impossible for her to even see as far as an inch in front of her. Without the ability to see where she was going, Luna even making an attempt to land in the forest-which she knew was the only land beneath her at the moment, and which was the second problem she faced-was a suicidal course of action that could very get her killed.
Unfortunately, Luna didn’t have much of a choice. She could either try to land in the forest, and be possibly killed in the attempt. Or she could just continue to fly around, until she became too exhausted to continue one, and then drop to the ground like a rock, whether she wanted to or not.
‘How the hell did I get myself into this fucking mess?’ thought Luna, wearily. ‘Once upon a time, the only thing I was worried about was not being late for school. Now I’m worried about how I’m going to successfully land in the middle of a pine forest, in total darkness, without crashing into a tree, while looking for someone, who tried to kill me!’ Luna then mentally sighed, and became calm. She then suddenly remembered about her, and lit it so that she would at least have some light to see with. ‘Well, here goes nothing.’ Taking a deep breath, Luna pointed herself downwards, and began a shallow dive towards what she knew as the ground.
As she began her descent, she thought about what would happened, ifs he did crashed into one of those trees, and was killed. Would anyone know what had happened to her? Would they come search for her? Would they find her body, or would it remained hidden in the forest forever? The most likely answer to these three questions was no…
Oh well, so be it. Luna had faced death many times before in her life, was once again facing it. She was no longer the young filly, who had nightmares about fighting dragons, while lying in bed back home in Ponyville. She was a young mare, who was no longer frightened by anything, or anyone. She was determined to survive this whole ordeal, no matter…
Luna never saw what she collided with, but later on she figured that she had crashed into one of the tall, pine trees that dotted the forest. With a loud thud and a yelp of surprise, Luna slammed into the object, and then ricocheted backwards off it. She then felt the sensation of falling downwards towards the ground. The thing that Luna remember before one again becoming unconscious was being scooped up by a pair of arms, and then looking up at a pair of yellowish, reptilian eyes that were looking down at her…
Luna had her eyes closed shut, as she waited for Fallon and Minty to open fire, and kill her. However, when she did finally hear the sounds of gunfire…nothing happened. Much to her surprise and confusion, Luna realized that she was still alive. Even more, when she slowly opened her eyes, Luna saw that she was no longer in the throne room of Dream Castle, and that Minty and Fallon were no longer in sight. She was now standing in the middle of a darkened forest, alone.
“How did I get here?” exclaimed Luna out loud to herself.
“I brought you here.”
Realizing that there was someone behind her, Luna spun around, and found herself standing face to face with Teriney. Like when she had first seen Fallon, she exclaimed, “You’re supposed to be dead.”
“I know,” acknowledge Teriney. “But I have also returned from the dead, and I am here to protect you.”
“Protect me?” repeated Luna in wonderment. “Protect me from what?”
“From Fallon and Minty, and those who serve them.” Teriney then closed his eyes, and then reopened them. “But in order to do this, I must help you release and control a power that even now is growing inside of you.
“What are you talking about?” asked Luna, who didn’t like what he was now talking about one bit. “What power?”
Without answering her question, Teriney walked forward, and stood right in front of Luna. He then placed his arms on her shoulders, and looked straight into her eyes. “This.”
Luna suddenly felt something flow through her body. Something…dark. Something that now caused her to feel a great amount of unbearable pain.
That’s when she once again woke up, screaming…
With a loud scream, Luna sat up quickly…and realized that she was no longer in the forest, or still in flight. She was now sitting upright on what appeared to be an old army cot. Looking all around her, she saw that she was now in a cave that seemed to be in a cave. Actually, once she got a better look at it, Luna realized that she was in a cavernous, chamber-like room that was at the end of a cave, since there was an open entrance cut into the north wall. That, Luna figured, was probably the only way out of the room.
As she sat there on the cot, looking around in all directions in order to have a better idea of her immediate surroundings. Through it was dimly lit, with the only light being that which was flooding in through the cave, Luna noticed two things about the room. For starters, the walls and the roof were comprised of jagged rock, which gave them the appearance of what one would expect the roofs and walls of caves would look like. The floor, however, was made of solid, smooth stone.
The second thing was that, besides the cot, the chamber was furnished, with a few other basic pieces of furniture. Directly across from Luna on the other side of the room was a mini-refrigerator. Sitting up against the north wall of the room was a wooden bookshelf that was fully stocked with an assortment of, what else, books. Sitting up against the wall between the refrigerator and the bookshelf was a large cardboard box. Sitting up against the wall between the bookshelf and the cot was an old, free standing television set. Standing right in the middle of the room was a wooden table, with four chairs surrounding it. Sitting on top of it were several objects that Luna had trouble recognizing from where she was sitting.
Once she had some idea about her current surroundings, Luna began to think about what she should do now.
Her thoughts were soon interrupted, however, by the sounds of someone snoring loudly. Looking straight in front of her, Luna was surprised to find that at the end of the cot was Teriney, who was sitting in a chair. At first, Luna nearly jumped right out of the cot in surprise, when she laid her eyes on him. After closer examination, however, she relaxed, when she realized that he was asleep. This was confirmed by the fact that his eyes were closed, and that he was the one who was snoring loudly. His arms were folded across his chest, and he was sitting with the back of the chair propped up against the wall, so that he was facing towards the center of the chamber.
Since she already knew that Teriney had no intention of harming her, Luna was not disturbed at the though of him sitting near her, while she slept. In fact she actually felt comforted by the fact that he had been near her…and standing guard over her.
‘My gods,’ thought Luna with a slight amount of amusement, when it became obvious that Teriney had brought her to the cave, and had been guarding over her all night, ‘talk about the dragon guarding the beautiful damsel.’
It was then that she realized that the reason that Teriney was probably sitting near her and facing towards outwards toward the chamber was so that he could quickly come to her defense, if anyone snuck into the cave and tried to harm her, while she was asleep…
This thought immediately sent a chill running down Luna’s spine, because it meant that there was a chance that whoever had tried to kill her before would probably try again. That is if they even knew that she was still alive, which they probably didn’t. Teriney, however, didn’t seem to think so. It was now more then obvious that he was determined to prevent her from being killed, which explained about why he had saved her life back in the clearing. Now, the only question was why?
Realizing that she could no longer sleep, Luna decided that it was time to get out of bed and…well, she wasn’t sure about what to do. She would decide that, when she got out of bed. Slowly, so as not to wake Teriney, Luna carefully climbed out of bed, and stood next to the bed, never once taking her eyes off the sleeping dragon in pony form, who was almost sitting right next to her. Deciding on going outside and getting some fresh air, Luna began to quietly maker her way over to the entrance to the cave that led out of the chamber.
When she was halfway there, however, she suddenly heard a familiar voice from behind her.
“Leaving me so soon, Princess Luna?” Turning around, Luna saw that Teriney was now wide-awake, and was looking at her. “I did hope that you would stay ”
Unsure about what to say, Luna was silent for several seconds. “I was just going out to get some fresh air.”
“Well then,” exclaimed Teriney, as he stood from his chair, “allow me to join you.” After smoothing out some wrinkles in his clothes, he walked over, and stood in front of Luna. “Besides, we still have some things to discuss.”
Understanding what he meant, Luna nodded her head. “Yes,” she agreed, “we do.”
Teriney motioned with his right arm towards the cave. “Ladies first.”
Luna smiled. “Thank you.” She then walked out of the chamber, and headed down the cave, with Teriney following close behind her.
Once outside, they both stood next to each other, as they stopped to take in the beauty that was a early summer morning. The sun, which had just fully risen into a clear sky, was casting down rays of golden sunlight that shone through the trees that surrounded the entrance of the cave on three sides. With the exception for the chirping of a few birds, there was not a sound being made by anything. In all, the forest was a peaceful scene.
“Ah,” exclaimed Luna, as she breath in the new morning air, which was fresh and cool, “that feels good.”
“It certainly does,” agreed Teriney, who also took in some air. He looked at Luna, and was about to speak to her, when he stopped. Like when he was on the balcony, Teriney found that he had trouble in trying to bring himself to speak to Luna, even thought it was now clearly apparent that she no longer feared him. Still, the memories of his evil deeds made it next to impossible to bring himself to speak to her.
‘No!’ he thought, adamantly. ‘I cannot continue on like this. I need to tell to her about Fallon and the Cult-No! I do not’ need to’. I must. For her sake, I must!’
“Luna,” he suddenly said, breaking the silence that had fallen over him and the young unipeg, “I need to…” He paused, muttered to himself under his breath, and then spoke again. “I need to tell you some things. Things that you will not like.” He motioned with his right hand towards a dirt path that led away from the cave’s entrance, and headed through the woods in a northeasterly direction. “The path here runs down to a river that runs through the forest near here. I usually go down there to catch a fish from my breakfast.”
Needless to say, Luna was a little taken aback by this sudden suggestion, but was not surprised by it. Ever they had first faced each other back in the room at the castle, Luna knew that Teriney was having a hard time in bringing himself to tell her certain things, and while both Star Flame and Sunbeam had told some things, she also knew that there were things that only he could tell her. First and foremost of these was how he had returned to the dead, and the identity of those who had tried to kill her. The suggestion that they go take a walk, she thought, was probably his way of telling her that he was now ready to talk.
Smiling, Luna nodded her head. “Sounds nice.”
Teriney returned the smile. “Then come with me.”
And with that, the two of them walked side by side away from the cave, and headed down the path.
Both Luna and Teriney were silent as they walked down the dirt path that ran among the oak-filled forest. Suddenly, after several full minutes, Teriney broke the silence, and spoke.
“All right,” he exclaimed out loud to himself, “it is now or never.” He turned to Luna, who was now waiting for him to speak. “Luna, while we were on the balcony the day before, you pointed out to me the fact that I was, by all rights and purposes, supposed to be dead.”
“Yeah, I did,” confirmed Luna. “So how did you manage to come back from the dead.”
With a deep breath, Teriney began to speak. “It all began when Star Cluster defeated at the end of the battle in Secret Valley all those years ago.” He became silent for a few seconds, before speaking again. He sighed. “After he had vaporized me with the power of the Flaming Pearl, I found myself in the demonic underworld of Argon.” He became silent once again to let the gravity of his words sink in. He then continued. “Once there, and before I knew what was happening, a group of demon ponies seized me, and began to drag me towards this large, castle that was made of black stone. I was too tired to fight back, as they brought me before their leader, who name I forget. In fact, I can not even remember what he looked like.” He paused as he tried to remember, but couldn’t, so he continued. “This mysterious leader of the underworld took one look at me, and told me that I was dead, and that I was to suffer for all the evil deeds that I had committed during my life time for all eternity. Transparent images of every evil deed that I had committed appeared in front of me, and began to play out, while I was forced to watch. I saw how I had murdered the King and Queen of Secret Valley when they refused to give me that amulet.” Some tears began to appear in his eyes. “I saw how I had repeatedly torture Blizzard in order to get my claws on his amulet.” More tears began to appear in his eyes, and eh was almost sobbing. “Finally…I saw how I had once strangled you to death.” He suddenly stopped walking, and looked directly at Luna, who had also stopped walking. He through various sobs, he muttered, “After I had been shown these images of my…deeds, those demons… tortured me for I do not how…long…But for a long time…I felt pain…The same pain that I had…inflicted…on to others….And you know something…I deserved it.”
Know fully sobbing, Teriney began to walk forward down the trail, leaving Luna behind. Based on the expression that was currently on her face, it was apparent that she believed everything that Teriney had just told her, before he broke down. She now knew the reason, or at least part of it, for why he had now felt sorrow and guilt over every evil deed that he had committed.
Oh yes, did he feel guilt.
Not wasting another moment, Luna began to walk down the trail, until she had caught up to Teriney. She found him leaning against a tree, while he held his head in his hands. As she walked slowly towards him, Luna could hear him sobbing. She walked slowly towards him from behind, and then stopped, when she was standing right behind him.
“Teriney,” she said, softly.
Teriney didn’t even move or speak in response to Luna.
“Teriney,” repeated Luna. She paused, and then spoke. “Teriney, I know how guilty you feel now about all the evil things you’ve done, and I know that you think I hate you.”
“You should hate me,” replied Teriney, finally speaking. “You should hate me.”
Luna closed her eyes, let out a breathe of air, and then opened her eyes. “But I don’t, Teriney. I don’t hate you at all,” she replied, firmly. “You see, I don’t want to hate anyone. I’m just not that kind of a individual.”
Teriney raised his head, and slowly turned his head, until he was looking over his shoulder at Luna. There were still tears in his eyes. “But I almost killed you.”
“Yes, you did,” agreed Luna, nodding her head. “But I forgive you.”
Teriney looked surprised. “You do?”
“Yeah, I do.”
Teriney fully turned around, until he was standing face to face with Luna. “But still,” he exclaimed, solemnly, “that still doesn’t change the fact that I tried to kill you.”
Luna shook her head. ”No, it doesn’t,” she agreed. “But you did make up for it by saving my live back in the clearing.”
For the first time in al long time, Teriney smiled. “Yes, I did. Did I not?”
Luna smiled at him in return. “Yes, you did.”
In an instant, the sorrow that had tightly gripped Teriney suddenly disappeared, as he and Luna now stood there, smiling at one another. Suddenly, without even thinking, he slowly stretched his right hand towards Luna. Instinctively, and without even thinking herself, she reached over, and gripped it. Once they both realized about what they just did, the two individuals became surprised, but not shocked, or revolted. In fact, they gripped each other’s hands even tighter. As they stood there, smiling each other and holding hands, they both suddenly felt that, someway, somehow, things were going to turn out for the better.
“Well,” said Teriney, “shall we continue on to the lake? I still have much to tell you.”
Luna nodded her head. “Yeah, let’s go.”
While still holding hands, Luna and Teriney walked back onto the trail, and continued on their way to the river.
“So,” said Luna, as they walked, “you said you were being tortured in Argon as punishment for your evil deeds.”
“Yes, I was,” replied Teriney, solemnly. “I do not know for how long I was tortured, but it was for a very long time. That much I can tell you. Of course, to be honest, I really do not care to remember it. For your sake, I will not go into details about what they did to me.” He then admitted, “But I will tell you that I during the time that I suffered greatly at the hands of the demons of Argon and their dark master, my spirit was almost broken and I nearly submitted myself to the fate that I faced.” His solemn expression then disappeared as he suddenly smiled. “There was one thing, however, that kept that from happening.” He continued to smile, and looked at her. “During the time that I was tortured, I thought constantly about anything that could keep my mind from thinking about the pain.” He continued to smile, and looked at her. “During the time that I was tortured, I thought constantly about anything that could keep me from thinking about the pain.” His smile grew even bigger, until he was flashing all of his white, jagged teeth. “In fact, there was one particular individual who I thought about all during my time there. An individual who I had once vowed to destroy, but who was still victorious over me. Yet, the memory of this individual helped me through all the pain and suffering that I was forced to endure. After I was rescued from Argon, I no longer held any hatred or contempt for this individual, and vowed to myself that I would, some day, make peace wit them, and redeemed myself to the. In a way, you could say that this individual changed my life.”
Luna had a pretty good idea that she knew whom Teriney was talking about, but asked anyways. “Who was this individual who changed your life?”
“You,” replied Teriney, softly “It was thinking about you that helped me endure the torture and pain, and made me vow that I would redeem myself to you in any way that I could. Saving your life was just the beginning….” Teriney became silent, when he saw the amazed expression on Luna’s face. “It is hard for you to believe that I changed just because of you, is it not?”
Luna glanced at Teriney. She stopped walking, stared at him for a few seconds, and then smiled. At first, it had been hard for her to believe that Teriney wasn’t the evil dragon that she had fought against all those years ago. But as she had seen, he had indeed changed.
“Teriney,” she replied, softly, “it’s what I it told you before. I don’t hate you. And yes, I believe you’ve changed.” Remembering that she and Teriney had been holding hands for all this time, she continued the firm grip she had on his hand. “So, she said, “how did you escape from Argon?”
“Why don’t we get some breakfast first,” suggested Teriney, “then I will tell you about it.”
Luna nodded. “Okay, sounds good.” She was feeling a little hungry, too. Although, for some strange reason, she had a sudden craving for meat, and she had never eaten meat before in her life…Well, not in that particular life, anyways.
Without another word, she and Teriney, while still holding hands, continued on their way down the trail, and towards the river and food for their breakfast. As they walked together, they both did so knowing that things between them had changed for the better, and that whatever had happened in the past no longer mattered. It was the future that now concerned the both of them.
For very soon, their newly forged friendship would be given a baptism of fire that would nearly destroy them…
During the same stormy night that Luna had been flying through the woods while looking for Teriney, a black 1970 Jaguar XJ6 four-door sedan was heading down the road that led out of Ponyville, and towards the woods outside of town.
As he sat in the driver’s seat, Blizzard was trying very hard not think about Luna as he steered the car down the road, and towards it’s destination.
But it wasn’t easy.
No matter how hard he tried, Blizzard couldn’t help but think about his beloved wife. As he did so, a million questions were swirling around his head. Questions that he wished he had the answers to, but didn’t.
Where was she?
Was she all right?
Who had kidnapped her?
Most importantly, Was she injured or-may the gods forbid-was she dead?
As much as Blizzard wanted answers to these questions, he knew that it might be a long time before he could find them…and Luna. Upon realizing this, he let out a heavy sigh, which was noticed by Booster, who was sitting next to him in the front passenger seat.
“Are you okay?” he asked, knowing full well that Blizzard wasn’t okay by any standard.
“No,” replied Blizzard, flatly, “I’m not okay. I’m not okay with anything right now.”
“I know, I know,” agreed Booster, as he solemnly nodded his head. “To tell you the truth, I haven’t been all right with a lot of things for the several years.” He motioned towards Skyview and Starfire, who were sitting in the back seat behind them, and whispered, “Especially with those two and their escapades.”
“I know, Dad, I know,” sympathized Blizzard, whispering back.
With surprise, he realized that he just referred to Booster as “Dad” which was something that he had never done before. Feeling a little embarrassed, he was about to apologize to Booster, when he noticed the older stallion was smiling at him.
“Now where did that come from?” mused Booster.
Blizzard shrugged. “ I don’t know.”
Both stallions then started laughing, while Booster reached over with his arm, and patted Blizzard’s shoulders. They didn’t know why exactly they were laughing, but they really didn’t care. As far as they were concerned, they were desperate to find something humorous to at least temporarily take their mind of the sorrowful situation that they faced.
In the backseat of the car, Skyview and Starfire, who were both exhausted after the car trip from Diamond City to Ponyville, were fast asleep. As he slept on the right side, Starfire suddenly leaned sideways, and rested his head on Skyview’s right shoulder. He then unconsciously shifted around a bit in his seat, which woke up Skyview. After partially opening his eyes, he mentally groaned, when he saw that his brother was using him as a pillow again, like he always had. But then, after reconsidering a few things, he decided that having his brother use him as a pillow was not as bad as he used to think it was. In fact, he reached over with his right arm, and pulled Starfire closer to him and held him, as if he expected his younger brother to be suddenly snatched away. Based on Luna’s abduction, there was genuine possibility that it could happen again to someone else. With a firm grip on Starfire, Skyview fell back to sleep, while confident that his brother would be there, safe and sound, when he woke up.
Unbeknownst to him, Booster had seen everything, while glancing over his shoulder. Despite the fact that he hated the two individuals with a burning passion, he had to acknowledge, and admire, the fact that they card for each other. Still, if ever given the reason to, Booster would gladly kill them in cold blood. For Luna’s sake, however, part of him hoped that he would never have to do that. But still…
The older stallion’s thoughts were interrupted, when he heard Blizzard speak. He turned away from the two black ponies, and looked at him. “Yeah?”
“I was just thinking,” began Blizzard, “that if for some reason, like to recover the bodies, whoever kidnap Luna might comeback to the clearing. For all we know they might even be there, right now. What do you think?”
Booster was partially stunned at what Blizzard had just said to him. In clear terms, the younger stallion had just brought up a very good point, and something that hadn’t been considered by himself, or anyone else. What if whoever kidnapped Luna came back to the clearing and were there, when they, Booster and his companions, arrived? Were they capable of defending themselves? That is, was he and Blizzard adequately armed? Booster knew that Skyview, Starfire, and Booster would be more then able to defend all of them, with their powers. But according to Blizzard, from what he had seen, the bodies h found were armed with assault rifles. Could the two Black Ponies and King of Secret Valley defend against a group of attackers, who were armed with guns? Apparently, Luna hadn’t been able to. Thankfully thought, Booster’s worries went away, when he remembered that he was armed. Hidden underneath he olive drab jacket that he was wearing was a leather shoulder holster. Sitting inside of the holster was a .45 caliber Colt M1911A semi-automatic pistol that had been Booster’s personal weapon, when he was in the army, and which had taken home with him when he was discharged. He just couldn’t stand the thought of being separated with the one weapon that had faithfully served him in combat. Whenever he had needed it, the pistol had been there for him, and Booster needed it now more then ever. Course, the question of who exactly he would use it against was up in the air at the moment…But still, despite whoever he might find himself up against, the pistol would be there for Booster.
“Blizzard,” he asked in response to the younger stallion’s question, “are you armed?”
Nodding his head, Blizzard replied, “Yeah. I have that Hi-Power you gave me right here.” With his left hand still gripping the steering wheel, Blizzard reached over, with his right hand, and pulled the Browning Hi-Power pistol out the holster that was attached to his belt on his waist. He held up the pistol for Booster to see it. “ You expecting trouble?”
Booster shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said, with uncertainty, “but I’m sure as hell not going to be the one, who’s caught off guard.”
“I hear that,” replied Blizzard. He placed his pistol back in its holster. “I hear that.”
The two stallions became silent as they both took in the severity of what they were talking about. It was while he was thinking about the possibility of being ambushed by whoever took Lunarstar that Booster, who had leaned back into his seat, happened to glance over in the direction of the passenger rear-view mirror, and saw that a car was following right behind them as they headed down the road. At first, he didn’t think much about it, since it was uncommon for another car to be heading in the same direction they were on the same road. But as he looked closer into the image that was reflected into the mirror, he saw that the car was dark green, and looked very familiar…
“It can’t be,” remarked Booster to himself.
“What?” asked Blizzard, who had over heard the older stallion’s remark.
While still looking at the mirror, Booster pointed towards the driver’s side rear-view mirror. “Take a look behind us,” he directed, “because I think we’re being followed.”
Doing what Booster told him to do, Blizzard took a quick glance at his rear-view mirror, and also saw the dark green car. “So? It’s just somebody else who happens to be driving down the same road in the same direction as us. What’s so unusual about that?”
Booster was about to respond to this question, when he happened to glance into the mirror, and saw that the dark green car had disappeared, and was no longer behind them. At first, this mystified him, but then he figured that it probably was just somebody who had been traveling down the same road as them. “Forget about it,” he replied dismissively to Blizzard. “They’re gone now. Probably turned off onto a side road or something.” After a few minutes, he caught side of the side road that led into the woods, and towards the clearing. “There’s the road,” he exclaimed, pointing it towards it.
Blizzard, who also saw the road, nodded his head, and slowed the car down. He then steered to the left off the main road, and onto the dirt road. About a minute later, they stopped and parked in the large clearing where, not several hours before, both Luna and Blizzard had parked their cars. The path that led into the smaller clearing, and the scene of Luna’s abduction, was still there, leading into the deep woods.
After shutting off the engine, Blizzard turned to look at Skyview and Starfire. “Hey, wake up. We’re here.” He smiled when he saw the position that both Black Ponies were sleeping in. He chuckled softly. “Oh, that’s adorable.”
“Yeah, it is,” agreed Booster, who was also looking at the two sleeping Black Ponies. He also chuckled. “I wish I had a camera with me.”
“So do I,“ agreed Blizzard. “Well, let’s waken them up. Shout when I count to three, shout as loud as you can.” Booster nodded in understanding. Blizzard grinned, and began to count. “All right, when I count to three. One…two…Three!”
At that moment, the two stallions shouted ”Wake up!” loudly in unison. This caused the two Black Ponies to jump out of their seats as they were unceremoniously awaken. With two sharp thumps, they both hit their heads on the roof of the car.
“With a groan, Skyview glared angrily at Booster and Blizzard, who were both laughing their rumps off. “You bastards!” he swore. “Why didn’t you just wake us up?”
“Because we though it would be funny,” explained Blizzard. “Besides, we’re here.”
“Here where?” asked Starfire, groggily. He and his older brother looked out the windows of the car, and saw that that it was night, it was raining, and they had arrived at the forest. “Oh, we’re here.”
“Ya, we’re so let’s go.” Booster zipped up his jacket, opened his door, and stepped out of the car. Blizzard did the same, as did Skyview and Starfire after they had buttoned up the black leather jackets that they were wearing.
Once the four stallions were outside, they closed the doors to the car, and glanced around their surroundings, before turning towards Blizzard, who pointed towards the entrance to the path that led into the woods.
“Follow me,” he urged as he headed towards the trail. “The trail leads to the clearing.”
“Let’s go, then,” shivered Starfire. “It’s as cold as Royal Heart’s cooking.”
Both Blizzard and Skyview glared in annoyance at Starfire.
Booster was confused. “What’s wrong?”
“Sometimes, Royal Heart likes to try and make dinner herself, instead of having the cook do it,” explained Blizzard. “Unfortunately, she’s not very good.”
Booster’s reply to this was, “Okay. Now can we get going?”
Without another word on the subject, the four stallions headed down the trail, and into the woods. After they were out of earshot of the clearing where they had left their car, a certain light green car pulled into the clearing, and parked next to the Jaguar. A dark figure then got of the driver’s side, retrieved an object from the trunk, and headed into the woods that ran alongside the clearing…
As they headed down the dirt path, which at that time was quickly being turned into mud by the rain, Blizzard and Booster walked ahead side-by-side, while Skyview and Starfire walked side-by-side behind them. The two black ponies had changed into their unicorn and pegasi forms respectively, and Skyview had lit his horn so the light shining from it would help him see through the darkness. The others were ach holding a flashlight. Unfortunately, the combined light power from both the horn and the flashlights could only allow the stallions to see about a foot or so ahead of them. Besides that, the rain was still coming down heavily, and everyone was soaking wet.
“Lousy weather,” grumbled Blizzard to himself. “When I get back home to Secret Valley, I’m going to declare a ban on rain.” A few minutes later, he suddenly found himself walking on wet grass, instead of the moist dirt of the trail. He stopped walking. .“Guys,” he said to the others, “this is it. We’re here.”
The three other stallions also stopped walking, and stood next to Blizzard.
“I can’t see a godsdamn thing,” confessed Booster, as he tried to see through the darkness for any signs of the clearing that was supposedly there in front of him.
“Let me put some more light on the situation,” volunteered Skyview.
Shutting his eyes closed, he began to focus all of his magical energy into his horn, which began to glow brighter and brighter. Soon, when enough had been gathered into it, a glowing, white ball of pure energy that burst forth from it. It then floated upwards until it has over about ten feet over the exact center of the clearing. As it did so, it acted as a beacon as the light it created shone downward from it, and illuminated the clearing below, and everything in it.
The first thing the four stallions noticed was the dead body that was lying on the ground near the left side of the clearing…
“What the hell? muttered Starfire.
Slowly, he and the other four walked carefully towards the body, and then gathered around it. Upon closer examination, they saw the body was that of an earthling stallion, with yellow fur, an orange mane and tail, and brown eyes, and whose was wearing a black suit of armor. But his general appearance was not as attention getting as the large, bloody gunshot wound that had been bored into his forehead, and which was the source of blood that was trickling across the stallions face, and onto the grass below.
“Well,” remarked Skyview, ”there’s no doubt about how this poor bastard died.”
“Yes,” agreed Starfire, “but who is he?”
“I would guess,” deduced Booster, “that he was probably one of the individuals who helped kidnap Luna.”
“How do you know there’s was more then one kidnapper?“ asked Blizzard.
“Well, let’s use some logic,” continued Booster. “Now as we all know, Lunarstar posses abilities that no other pony in the whole universe has. Right?” His three companions agreed with him, so Booster continued. “Okay, based on what I learned in the army, the best way to capture someone is took pounce on them, while they have their guard down, and take them by surprise, before they can resist. This is best done in with a group of individuals. You know, strength in numbers. With that being said, it’s my theory that our dead friend here,” he motioned towards the corpse, “and his companions-if he had any-tried to catch Luna of-guard, but yet she was somehow alerted to their presence, and she was somewhat able to fight back, and managed to kill our friend here, before she was captured.”
Everyone remained silent for a minute or so as they though about Booster’s theory. It was Blizzard who finally spoke.
“I agree with you, Dad, I think that’s what happened,” he said. “Except for one little problem.”
Blizzard pointed to the corpse, and specifically the forehead, and the bullet wound that had been bored into it. “This stallion was killed when someone shot him in the head, and I know for a fact that Luna didn’t have any guns with her when she was attacked
“How do you know that?”
“I know it because Luna’s pistol is still back at the house,“ explained Blizzard.”
“Well maybe she took one of Booster’s guns,” suggested Starfire.
Booster shook his head. “All of my guns were still sitting in their rack when I went to check on them this afternoon, so Lunarstar didn’t take any of them.” He knelled lower on his legs to have a closer look at the bullet wound in the stallion’s forehead. Extending out his right index finger, he reached over, and traced the outline of the wound, while whispering quietly to himself. Blizzard, Skyview, and Starfire were too busy debating with each other about who shot the stallion in the head to notice what Booster was doing, until they heard say, “Five-Point-Five-Six.” The three stallions stopped talking, and looked at Booster.
“What?” said Skyview.
“Five-point-Five-Six,” repeated Booster. “The bullet hole in this poor bastard’s head is the same diameter as one created by a Five-point-Five-Six millimeter rifle bullet. A particular type of round that I’m very familiar with, since the rifles we were armed with in the army fired bullets of that particular size.” He stood up, and looked at his companions. “Now, judging by how deep the bullet penetrated the skull, I’d say that it was fired from a rifle. The Five-point-Five-Six is a medium-sized round, so it was probably fired from a assault rifle. Based on my knowledge, one of the few assault rifles that fires a Five-point-Five-Six round is the M-Sixteen.”
Needless to say, Skyview, Starfire, and Blizzard were dumbfounded at what Banner had just said. While they did know that he had served in the army, and that he was an expert of sorts on firearms, they were still surprised about how Booster had determined what kind of bullet had killed the dead stallion. They were even more surprised at how quickly he had done, while they had been talking. Slowly, but surely, each of the three stallions began to wonder about just what Booster did in the army…
After several seconds of silence, Blizzard spoke. “Okay, now that we know what kind of gun, and bullet, killed this stallion, the question now is who killed him.”
“Well, well,” said a male voice from behind them, “the ponies that one will find in the woods.”
In an instant, the four stallions turned to see where the voice had come from, and saw that an earthling stallion was standing there in the clearing with them. He had dark blue fur, a gray mane and tail, and was wearing a black suit of armor. With his right hand, he was holding a Skorpion Vz.68 machine pistol. At the moment, the strange stallion was smiling.
“Who are you?” asked Skyview.
“My name is Haze,” replied the stallion, “and you must be Skyview, a prince of the kingdom of Ponyland. The Pegasus next to you must be Starfire, another prince of Ponyland.” He looked at Booster. “And you must be King Blizzard of the Kingdom of Secret Valley.” He then looked at Booster. “And your are-Well I’ll be godsdammed. Hi, Booster, I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
“Oh gods, it’s you,” replied Booster, grimly. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
Upon hearing this, Haze laughed. “Well, surprise! I’m not dead at all.” An evil sort of smile appeared across his face. “Oh no, I’m far being dead. In fact, I haven’t felt more alive in my entire life.” Haze let out a laugh again. “Not even during those glorious days that me and Booster here spent together in the army of the grand Republic of Equina.”
“Booster,” said Blizzard, “do you know this stallion?” For some reason, fear for this stallion Haze was gradually growing inside of him.
Before Booster could say anything in response, Haze interrupted him. “Don’t bother telling your friend here about us. It’ll only be a waste of time” A cold look appeared his eyes. “Besides, your not going to live for much longer, anyways.”
And with that, he raised his left hand, and snapped his fingers. Immediately, a group of stallions, who were dressed in black suits of armor, and who were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, marched into the clearing, and surrounded Blizzard, Booster, and the two Black Ponies on all sides in a circle. Haze then pointed towards them, and then simply said, “Kill them.”
Before Skyview could create a shield around him and his companions from the bullets they fired, or before Blizzard could use his ice breath to freeze them, the soldiers raised their rifles, took aim, and…
As if on cue, a white ball of pure energy flew from within one of the tree lines, streaked through the air and flew into the ground, exploding among some of the soldiers. The resulting concussion threw them a few feet into the air. When they landed onto the ground a few seconds later, they were all dead.
“What the…” begin Haze, but he was interrupted by having to dive for cover, as another ball of energy burst forth from the tree line, and nearly exploded right next to him. “Where the hell is that coming from!”
The soldiers under his command, for their part, immediately began to fire at the spot that the balls had come from. The chances that they would whoever had fired the energy balls, however, were slime, considering the fact that they couldn’t see what they were trying to shoot at. Finally, when it became clear to them that they were wasting their ammunition, the soldiers stopped firing, and imply stood there. Silence then fell upon the clearing as everyone waited to see what the attacker in the woods would do next.
“Did we hit them?” said one of the soldiers, finally.
As if in direct response to this question, another ball of energy burst froth from among the trees, and blew away the remaining soldiers, who had survived the other two attacks. After they were all dead, the clearing became once again silent.
Haze, who had been lying on the ground during all this time, slowly raised his head from where he had been lying face-down on the ground, and saw that, once again, a group of soldiers that were under his command were all dead. ‘Oh gods,’ he thought, ‘that’s the second platoon I’ve lost today. Who the hell has been shooting at me this time!’
Booster, along with his companions, had also dived to the ground for cover, and was thinking the very same thing: Who had fired those energy balls?
Booster and Haze’s question was answered, when a lone figure emerged from the tree line, began to walk slowly through the clearing directly towards them.
At first, because of the darkness, it was difficult for anyone to see who the figure was, but as they soon started to walk through the light that given off the glowing orb that hovered above, they soon got a good look at them….
The individual who had stopped into the clearing was Whisper, who was wearing an emerald green suit of armor, with a silver sculpture of a dragon in flight with a snowflake sitting below it, the royal crest of Secret Valley, mounted on the center of the chest plate. With her left hand, she was holding a short sword. In her other hand, she was holding a small, glowing white ball of energy that she looked like she was ready to throw at someone at a moment’s notice. Judging by the scowl, it was easy to tell that, at the moment, she was not the happy- go-lucky filly that most ponies knew her to be.
Haze, who was the first to raise his head up from the ground, saw Whisper, and more importantly, the ball of energy she was holding. It became more then clear to him about who had killed the soldiers that he had been leading only a few minutes ago. He was surprised that it had been Whisper, King Blizzard’s younger sister, who killed them. Having no intention of being killed by a 19-year-old filly, Haze quickly stood up, and begun to frantically run towards the western edge of the clearing, and the woods that it bordered.
Upon seeing this, Whisper immediately took off after him. Booster saw this, got up on his feet, and also began to chase after Haze. He soon joined up with Whisper, and the two of them were running at full speed as they chased after the dark stallion. Soon, they were almost right behind him.
Haze, seeing that two ponies were now chasing after him, had no intentioned of being captured. As he ran, he raised his left hand, with his ring finger pointing forward. In an instant, a red, swirling vortex-like portal appeared in front of him, hovering a foot or so above the ground. With a burst of energy, Haze made a running leapt straight into the portal, and disappeared. The portal itself immediately closed up, and vanished into thin air.
Both Whisper and Booster came to a complete stop. They were panting heavily as they each tried to catch their breath. Chasing after Haze had taken a lot of them.
“The son of a bitch got away,” exclaimed Booster.
“Yeah, he did,” agreed Whisper.” She then smiled at the older stallion. “Hi, Booster.”
“Hello, Whisper,” replied Booster, acknowledging the unicorn mare for the first time that night. “Would you mind telling me why you’re dressed like your ready to go off to war? Better yet, what the hell are you doing here?”
Before Whisper could say anything, Blizzard, followed by Skyview and Starfire, came running up toward her and Booster. The three of them were also out of breath.
Blizzard had pulled out his pistol, and was holding it in his right hand as if he was expecting to use it. “Are you okay?” he asked Booster as he came running up, and coming to a complete stop next to the older stallion.
“Yes, I’m fine,” replied Booster. “But Haze got away.”
“How?” Blizzard began looking in all directions for any sing of the evil stallion. “Where is he?”
“He escape through a portal he created,” explained Whisper. “I have a pretty good idea where he went.”
As soon as she spoke, Blizzard saw for the first time that the armored individual, who had most likely fired the energy balls that killed Haze’s troops, was his own younger sister, Whisper, who, the last he knew, was supposedly back home in Ponyland. But now, it seemed, she wasn’t. While it wasn’t surprising to see her here in the world of Ponyville-she had made several trips across the gate with Blizzard and Luna in the past-it was surprising for everyone, most of all Blizzard, to see her here at this particular time and place. It was even more surprising to see her wearing a suit of armor, and carrying an actual deadly weapon, since it had been always though by everyone that Whisper hated violence of any kind.
Now, it seemed, that was not the case at all.
“Whisper!” exclaimed Blizzard. “What the hell are you doing here?!”
‘That’s the second time a pony has asked me that tonight,’ Whisper thought, rolling her eyes. Still, it was a logical question, and that she should have expected to be asked. “I’m here to help you rescue Luna,” she replied.
“Rescue Luna!” repeated Blizzard in shock. “How do you know about that?!”
“And how did you get across the gate to this world?” asked Skyview, and then he though of something. “Does Stardust know you’re here?”
“Let’s get back to town first,” suggested Whisper, “and then I’ll explain everything. Besides, Rosebud, Birdy, and Mom are probably worried sick about all of us.”
Despite the fact that they wanted to ask more questions, the four stallions knew that the young mare was probably right. Besides the fact that the three mares back at the house would be worried sick about their loved ones, there was also the very real possibility that whoever had attacked and kidnapped Luna might…well, they had somehow known that the four stallions were going to travel to the clearing, so there was nothing stopping them from…
“All right,” said Skyview, “we should get back to the house, just in case.” He then said to Whisper, “But when we do, you’ll have some explaining to do.”
Whisper nodded her head. “Of course.” She then said to herself ominously, “You don’t know the half of it.”
After the deciding to leave the bodies where they were-seeing as it wasn’t very likely that they would be discovered, since hardly anyone ever traveled to this particular part of the forest-the small group hiked back to the small clearing, and their cars. Once there, Booster was about to get into the Jaguar with Booster and the Black Ponies, when Whisper stopped him. “Why don’t you ride with me, dear brother,” she suggested, sounding more then a little nervous. “I rather not drive alone now.”
Now Blizzard knew perfectly knew well that Whisper wasn’t the kind of individual, who was frightened easily, and he quickly figured that his sister wanted him to ride with her for a completely different reason then just having someone with her. A reason that she, he figured, wanted to keep secret from the others. “Okay,” he said, nodding his head. “I’ll ride with you.”
Whisper smiled. “Well let’s go.” She and Blizzard then walked over, and climbed into the light Green Triumph coupe.
Booster, Skyview, and Starfire all looked at each other in wonderment about why Whisper wanted Blizzard to ride with her. Their short thoughts were interrupted when the Triumph’s engine came to life, and its headlights were turned on. Instead of moving forward, it stood there, idling, as Whisper and Blizzard for Booster and the Black Ponies to get into their car. This they did, with Skyview getting into the driver’s seat, while Booster climbed into the front passenger seat. Starfire sat behind him in the back seat.
Once everyone was ready to go, the two cars, with the Triumph in the lead, drove away, and headed back down the down the dirt trail towards the main paved road. When they had reached the end of the trail, they turned right on the main road, and headed back towards Ponyville.
A half-an-hour or so later, the small, two-car convoy drove slowly onto the driveway of the house of 315 Sugar Tree Road, and then both stopped. After the engines of both vehicles were shut off, their occupants got out, and headed across the front yard towards the house. When they were halfway there, the front door opened, and three very relieved mares came out, and embraced their respective husbands, who embraced them back. There were tears in Rosebud’s eyes as she and Booster embraced each other.
“Booster, I was worried about you,” she said, quietly. “I was afraid that something had happened to you.”
“One of what feelings, Honey?”
“One of those feelings that I used to have, when you were off fighting in the war.” Some solid tears started appear in Rosebud’s eyes. “You know, the ones that would tell me that something had happened to you, and that I’d never see you again.”
Booster shut his eyes as his wife reminded of him of the feelings she used to have about him, while he had been serving in the war. In almost every letter that she had sent him, Rosebud would mention that she had another one of her bad feelings about his welfare. Strangely, thought, she would never tell him just what exactly she felt had happened to him. Of course, all these feelings turned out to be untrue, but it was an example of how much Rosebud loved her husband.
Now, it seemed, she was having those feelings once again.
Never once had Booster had doubted Rosebud and her feelings, and he wasn’t going to start now. If his wife said that she was beginning to feel worried about him, then she was beginning to feel worried about him. There was no doubt about that. The question now was why?
While Booster and Rosebud embraced each other, Raindrop and Birdy were embracing both their respective husbands. Needless to say, they had both been worried about the personal safety of Skyview and Starfire, but also knew that the two stallions were more than capable of taking care of themselves. They were, after all, battle-hardened, royal princes. Still, there was nothing wrong for two mares to worry about their husbands.
Standing off to the side from everyone else was Blizzard, who looked like he was about ready to cry as he saw the other stallions hug and embrace their wives. He, however, stood there alone, since his wife was the gods only knows where, away from him. It was obvious to everyone that being separated from Luna was causing him more grief than he could handle, and that it was, for all intents and purposes, slowly, but surely, killing him.
Whisper, who was standing next to him, noticed that her brother was about ready to fall apart. Upon seeing that he was staring at the other stallions and their wives, she put two and two together, and immediately felt some grief herself. Having her one and only sister-in-law be attacked and kidnapped was hard on Whisper. She and Luna were especially close friends; despite the fact that everyone kept thinking that she hated the winged unicorn queen…
Slowly, Whisper placed her hand on Blizzard’s left shoulder, which made him turn his head, and look at her. For a moment, the two siblings stared at each other, before embracing one another. There were tears in both of their eyes.
“Don’t worry,” said Whisper softly to her bother. “We’ll find her.”
Blizzard said nothing in reply, and hoped with all of his might that they would find his wife, and bring her home safety.
“So,” said Starfire, as he held Birdy close to him, “what do we do now?”
“Well, first we get something to eat, because I’m hungry,” replied Booster. He then looked at Whisper. ”Whisper here can then explain to us about why she’s here in this world.”
“She told us that she’s here on vacation,” explained Raindrop. “At least, that’ what she told us.”
“Well if that’s the case,” said Skyview, motioning towards the younger unicorn, “then she can explain to us about why she’s dressed as if she’s going off to war.”
It was then that both a puzzled Raindrop and Birdy finally got a good look at Whisper, and how she was dressed. They were shocked to discover that she was wearing a suit of armor, and that there was a leather scabbard that was probably contained a sword hanging from a belt wrapped around her waist.
Raindrop nearly had a heart attack right then and there. “Whisper, get inside before someone sees you,” she urged her adopted daughter.
Remembering that she was standing in the middle of her adopted in-laws front yard, Whisper quickly rushed into the house. Everyone then followed her, with Rosebud closing the door behind them.
Once inside, Whisper’s horn lit up as she magically changed from her suit to her normal clothes. “Sorry about that,” she apologized. “I forgot where we were for a minute.”
“That’s all right,” said Skyview, dismissively. “Right now I think we would all like an explanation from you about a few things.”
Whisper nodded. “Your right,” she agreed, and then motioned towards the living room. “Everyone please sit down, and I’ll explain everything.”
Upon being told this, everyone made their way into the living room. Soon Booster, Rosebud, Skyview, and Raindrop were sitting down on the couch, while Blizzard sitting in the reclining chair across the room from them. Starfire and Birdy were sitting in the smaller couch. Standing directly of the room was Whisper, who closed her eyes for a second before opening them again. She then began to speak.
“About two years ago,” she began, “I was at Luna and Blizzard’s wedding back home in Ponyland-you know, talking with guests and stuff-when Buster walked up to me. I already knew who he was, since Luna had told me about him and Charades, but I had never talked to him before.” Tired of standing, Whisper walked over, and sat down in a nearby rocking chair. She then continued speaking. “Well, he walked up to me, and introduced himself. He then invited me to dance with him, and I said ‘yes’ and so we danced a bit. From then on, I essentially hung around with him during the party, and we sort of became friends. Anyways, while everyone was busy playing some party game or something, Buster asked me to take a walk with him through the castle’s gardens. At first, this seemed to be a strange request, but then I figured that he wanted a chance to get away from everyone else, like I wanted to, so I said ‘Sure, let’s go,’ and we went walking out of the castle and into the gardens. We soon started talking about a whole bunch of things from how I liked living in Ponyland to what he did as Captain of the Royal Guards.” Her voice soon became more solemn in tone. “I don’t know why, but we started to talk about when Star Cluster ruled Ponyland, and how Luna was raised here in Ponyville for thirteen years. I’d been told all about that already, so I knew everything-or so I thought.” She sighed. “Right out of the blue; Buster told me there were still ponies living in Ponyland who still hated Star Cluster and the three Black ponies and such. He also told me he believed that some of these ponies maybe planning to harm Uncle Stardust and his brothers. Others, he said, maybe planning to harm Luna and Blizzard. When I asked him why he was telling me all this, he confessed that the Royal Guards he led weren’t going to be enough to defend the Royal Family from any hidden enemies who might try and harm them. Therefore, he was secretly planning to put together a group of ponies who would act as undercover agents who would defend both Ponyland and Secret Valley from them. He called them, Special Royal Guards, or SRG’s, for short. Only he would know about them, and command them. Not even Blizzard or Stardust would know about them.”
There was a pause as Whisper stopped talking, and allowed the others to take in what she had just said. Needless to say, everyone, specially Blizzard and the two Black Ponies, were shocked as the thought of Buster commanding a secret force of Royal Guards within their two kingdoms, without them knowing. Worse still was the fact that there were ponies within those kingdoms who were planning to harm their families. In fact, they realized much to their horror, they may already had…
No one thought that Whisper was lying because, in a way, they all ready knew that she was telling the truth. After a period of silence, it was Blizzard who spoke.
“Whisper,” he said calmly, “why did Buster tell you about these special, secret royal guards?”
Upon being asked this question, Whisper smiled. “Because,” she said, “I’m one of them.”
Everyone else nearly fell out of their seats when they were told this. Never in a million years could they imagine Whisper doing anything military-like, or serving as a soldier or guard of any kind. Her personality just didn’t seem to be that of a soldier, seeing as how she always seemed to be the soft, fun-loving type. It was nearly impossible for them to imagine her wearing a suit of armor and holding a sword, let alone marching into battle. Well, it had been impossible for them to imagine that. Now, it seemed, that had all changed. Like with the SRG’S, nobody thought that she was lying because they all knew that she was telling the truth. They could tell just by the unmistakable of sincerity that was in her eyes as she spoke to all of them. Oh, yes, Whisper was telling the truth. There was no doubt about that. Besides, they knew that Whisper would never lie to them.
It was Booster who spoke up after several minutes of silence. “So what your essentially telling us is that you are member of a group of ponies whose mission is to secretly defend the Royal Families of both Ponyland and Secret Valley. I am right?”
Whisper nodded. “Yes. After he had told me all those things about hidden enemies and all that, Buster asked me to become the very first Special Guard. When I asked why, he said that he wanted someone who was close to the Royal Family working for him. I guess he wanted that someone to be me, since hardly anyone would ever suspect me of being a Guard, or a spy, or a soldier, or anything like that. I mean, I can’t really do the military thing.”
“Well, you were doing it back there in the clearing,” Booster pointed out. “What with the way you were blasting away Havoc’s troops with those magical powers of yours.”
“Believe it or not, that’s not the first time I actually used my powers to kill someone,” admitted Whisper plainly, and closed her eyes. “One night, last year in April, one of the informer who worked for me told me that this young stallion named Rax was planning to kill you and Mom, Dad.”
“Kill us?” repeated Skyview in astonishment. “Why?”
Without opening her eyes, or turning to look at her parents, Whisper replied, “He hated you because you were one of the Black Ponies, and because you and your brothers had gained leadership of Ponyland. He also wanted to kill you, Mom, because you had married Dad.” As she said this, Whisper appeared to have been trying to hold back tears. Yet she kept control of herself, and continued on speaking. “So on the night that he was planning to kill the both of you, I hid behind one of the trees that sit next to the path that goes through the woods to Paradise Estate. I must have waited for about a half an hour before I saw him walking down the path towards the Estate. As I watch him walk closer to me, I got angry at the thought of him, because of what he wanted to do...He wanted to kill you…You. My parents. The only real parents I’ve ever had.” By this time, Whisper was starting to lose her self-control. Tears were starting to appear in her eyes, and she was now trying very hard not to cry. She opened her mouth several times to speak, but had trouble doing so. She was finally able to find her voice again. “Before I knew what was happening…Rax…that bastard Rax…was on fire…I mean, he just burst into flames like that…His clothes were on fire…His fur was on fire…His mane and tail were on fire…He was just completely on fire…I watched him as he stumbled around, screaming at the top of his lungs…He then fell on the ground, and became quiet…He was dead…I killed him…I killed him…I don’t know how, but just being angry at him made me use my powers to kill him…and I’ve never been able to control fire without my powers before…But I killed him….I killed him with my own powers…” She now began to openly cry. “I had never killed before then…But if I have to…I’ll do it again. If it means protecting my family…I’ll do it again.”
No longer being able to say anymore, Whisper ran out of the living room, and up the stairs to the second floor of the house. Raindrop and Skyview got up and followed her. They found her in one of the bedrooms, lying on one of the beds with her head buried in the pillows. A series of muffled cries were noticeable signs that she was crying.
“Whisper?” said Raindrop quietly as she and Skyview walked slowly towards the younger mare. “Whisper, it’s all right.”
“No, it’s not,” Whisper sobbed. “It’s not all right at all. I killed a pony. Worse, I’ve done again and again.” She lifted her face from within the pillow and turned to look at her parents. “I’m a killer!”
Whisper buried her head back into the pillow and starting to sob even more. With looks of distress about her their daughter, Skyview and Raindrop looked at each other, and then gently sat down on the bed, with Skyview sitting to the left of Whisper and Raindrop sitting to the right of her. Slowly and gently, they lifter her up and turned her around, so that was she was sitting upright on the bed between them. With tears in her eyes, the young filly looked at both her parents, before embracing her mother, who embraced in return. Skyview reached out, and embraced the both of them.
The family of three then sat there on the bed, comforting each other as best they could. They were now clearly shaken by what Whisper had told them and were now in fear for the safety of themselves and the rest of their family.
Meanwhile, back downstairs in the living room, the others had been left in wonderment by Whisper’s confessions. Rosebud was understandably more upset now that she that there were those who would think of nothing in harming Lunarstar, and so Booster was trying his hardest in comforting her. Skyfire was also busy trying to do the same thing for Birdy, while Blizzard just stared into space.”
“I can’t believe it,” he said finally. “I just can’t believe it.”
“I can,” said Starfire. “I can believe everything.” He sighed heavily. “There are still ponies out there who hate me and my brothers, because of what we did while under Star Catcher’s control.” He then admitted, “But I didn’t know anything about these “Special Royal Guards.””
“I didn’t know anything about them either,” replied Blizzard.” But I’m not surprised that Buster’s the one who created them..”
“I’m not surprised either,” agreed Skyfire. “You will not believe the lengths that Buster goes to protect all of us. Hell, I sometimes think he goes farther than Banner ever did.”
“He probably does,” said Booster from across the room. “When they were living here, him and Charades would go to any length if need be to protect Lunarstar from…well, you know.” Starfire nodded his head, the legacy of his days as a minion of Star Catcher stinging him once again. Sensing her husband’s dismay of being reminded of his past, Birdy hugged him tighter. Blizzard sighed and sunk back into his chair. Booster then asked, “So what do we do now?”
Everyone remained silent at this, before Blizzard spoke. “Here’s my plan: First; we someone across the gate to tell Skyview about what’s happened-since he’s going to find out one way or another, anyways-and get some help. Whoever does this should also be sure to bring Buster back here, since I think we all have more than a few questions for him.”
“I’ll do it,” Skyfire volunteered.
“Thanks. Second; as soon as Whisper calms down, we find out who attacked Luna, and maybe where we can find them.” Upon being reminded about his wife, sadness filled Blizzard’s eyes, and he leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.
“So what’s the third thing?” asked Booster.
Upon being asked this question, Blizzard raised his head, and looked at Booster. The sadness that had been in his eyes only a few seconds before had now been replaced by burning, white-hot, anger. “We kill everyone of the bastards who took my wife,” he said hoarsely.
Based on the fierce, determined looks in his eyes, no doubted Blizzard at all.
Night had fallen, and it was raining as Buster walked the short distance from Dream Castle to the town of Dream Valley. At first, it was simply sprinkling lightly. But as soon as he was walking across the bridge that spanned over the stream that separated the castle and the town, the rain began to come down heavily. With a heavy sigh, Buster pulled the green cloak that he was wearing-which signified that he was the captain in command of the royal guard-more tightly over his shoulders and around his waist to keep himself, his dark blue long-sleeved tunic and trousers, from becoming soaked by the rapidly falling rain.
With a few quick steps, he quickly made his way across the bridge. Once he reached the other side, and stepped onto solid ground, Buster made his way to the first building on the right. It was a medium sized, two-story structure that was white, and a brown roof. Hanging over the door, which was flanked on both sides by a pair of four-pane style windows, was a wooden sign. Engraved on it in orange letters were the words The Galloping Unicorn. Engraved right next to the words was the image of a four-legged unicorn in a full gallop.
As he approached the door, Buster could a multitude of loud voices from behind the door. He smiled as he heard this. For as long as he could remember, The Galloping Unicorn had always been packed each and every night, with ponies who wished to both damage their livers and enjoy each other’s company after a work filled day. Since the Unicorn was the only tavern in Dream Valley-and in all of Ponyland for that matter-it would always have a steady stream of customers. Course, it would only be villagers, soldiers, and travelers who would come to have a drink. One would never in a million years ever see a member of the nobility come to the tavern. Not because it was forbidden, but because it just wasn’t consider proper for a member of the nobility to be seen drinking at a local tavern that was frequented by simple ponies.
That, however, never stopped a certain princess from visiting the establishment in question.
As he stood there at the front door, listening to the voices that sounded from within the tavern, Buster smiled as he thought about how-when she was staying for the summer in Ponyland before going back to Ponyville in the fall-Luna, accompanied by Buster, Charades, and surprisingly, Banner, would all sneak out of the castle at night on several occasions, and head into town where they would immediately make a straight bee-line to The Galloping Unicorn. Once there, the three veteran soldiers, with the assistance of the tavern’s other patrons, would educate the young princess in what they called ‘The Ancient Art of Drinking’ which was simply a collective term for every drinking game and tradition ever known to pony kind, which they would teach to Luna, who would be very enthusiastic in learning them. During this time, Luna secretly became known as “The Drinking Princess of Ponyland.” When she married Blizzard, she then became known as “The Drinking Queen of Secret Valley.”
Driving away the memories of the past from his mind, Buster opened the door, stepped into the tavern, and closed the door behind him. Once inside, he stopped, and observed his surroundings. Not surprisingly, the tavern was fully packed as usual with ponies who were drinking, playing various card games, laughing at dirty jokes being told to them by friends, or a hundred other activities. Buster, however, hardly paid any attention to them as he looked around the room for a certain pony. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see him through the throng of ponies that filled the room. Looking to the left, Buster caught site of Dolfuss, the owner of the inn, serving drinks from behind the bar area. He was an earthling stallion with lemon yellow fur, a lime green mane and tail, and green eyes. The outfit he wore consisted of a pair of brown trousers, a white long-sleeved trouser, and a brown vest that he wore over his shirt. At that moment, he was too busy serving drinks to notice that Buster had maneuvered through the various ponies, and was now standing across the bar from him.
“Good evening, Dolfuss.”
Dolfuss looked up from what he was doing, and smiled when he saw that it was Buster who spoken to him. “Well, well,’ he exclaimed, “If it isn’t Buster, Captain of the Royal Guard, himself here in my establishment after he swore he would never drink again.”
Buster smiled. “It’s good to see you too, Dolfuss, and no, I haven’t started drinking again, and I never will.” He leaned against the bar top. “I still remember the time I once came back to the castle after getting drunk here with Charades, and then climbed into bed with Royal Heart, while Stardust was in the bathroom.”
“I remember that,” chuckled Dolfuss. “Everyone around town-myself included-joked about how you should have been king, instead of Stardust.” His good nature then suddenly disappeared, and he sighed. “Once we thought about, it didn’t really seem to be a bad idea, considering certain events of the past and certain deeds also committed in the past by a certain king.”
Understanding completely what his friend meant, Buster sullenly nodded his head. “I know what you mean, old friend, but the Bad Old Days are lone gone, and he’s changed.”
“I guess you right,” agreed Dolfuss, half-heartedly. His good nature then returned. “So, if your not here to drink, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I was wondering if Banner was here?”
Dolfuss nodded. “Oh yes, here’s here.” He pointed towards the staircase that led to the second floor of the tavern. “He’s in his room, as usual.”
‘What else is new?’ thought Buster, with a mental sigh. “Okay, thanks, Dolfuss.”
And with that, Buster headed towards the stairs, and then headed upwards.
Along with being the only tavern in Ponyland, The Galloping Unicorn is also the only inn in the entire kingdom, and possesses eight single-spaced guest rooms on it’s second floor. Years ago, when Banner had retired from being captain of the guard, Dolfuss, out of respect and admiration for the veteran soldier, had offered him one of the rooms to live in, rent-free, since the elder stallion had decided to turn down an offer from both Buster and Stardust to continue to live in the castle barracks. Banner had gratefully accepted Dolfuss’s offer, and had been living in Room #12 at the inn ever since. Course, this had led some ponies to wonder about why the former captain of the guard had chose to live in a room at an inn, instead of buying a house for himself. Buster personally believed that Banner had chose to live in the inn, because it was in close walking distance to the castle, and he could be there quickly in case of an emergency to, theoretically, offer his assistance to the Royal Family.
As he thought about this, Buster couldn’t help but shake his head. Even when he was retired, Banner was still working as a guard for the Royal Family, when he should have been enjoying his life after retirement. But he wasn’t spending his days enjoying himself at all. Instead, he could mostly be found hanging around the tavern, wandering around town, or repeatedly visiting the castle to see how things were going, and if he could be of assistance to anyone…
But no matter how unusual, for lack of a better term, they were, Banner’s actions were not surprising to anyone, considering the fact that his retirement had been forced upon him…
Now, Buster needed Banner.
After reaching the top of the stairs, Buster found himself standing at the end of a corridor that had was flanked on both sides by a row of doors. Walking down the corridor, Buster glanced the each of the three doors he passed on the left side, as he wondered in simple curiosity about who they were being occupied by tonight. After passing the first three doors, he stopped and stood in front of the door in the row, which had #4 engraved on it. Knowing that he had arrived at his destination, Buster reached over, and began to firmly knock on the door. “Hey, Banner, are you in there?” There was no response, so he continued to knock. “Banner, are you in there?” There was still no response whatsoever.
‘Please don’t tell me he passed out again?’ thought Buster. ‘I don’t want to have bust down this door like the last time.’
Finally, after knocking for the fiftieth time and receiving no reply, Buster figured that he must have passed out from drinking, and wouldn’t e awake until the morning. This was a sort of a disappointment to him, since he had wanted to talk with the elder stallion about Luna as soon as possible. But now it looked like he wouldn’t have that chance, until Banner had relieved the inevitable hangover headache he would feel in the morning. Buster knew, however, that every second he would have to wait for Banner to sober up would be more time wasted, and when it came to Luna’s kidnapping every second counted.
Buster was about to leave, and go back the castle, when the wooden door to the room suddenly opened, and there, standing in the doorway, was Banner, who looked like he was in one of his trademark, subdued moods. He was dressed in a dark blue long-sleeved tunic, and a pair of brown trouser pants. With a solemn expression on his face, he looked a Buster as if to say, ” I don’t appreciate it that you disturbed me on this evening.” After remaining silent, he spoke. “Good evening, Buster.”
“Good evening, Banner, I was told you’d be here.
“If I’m not anywhere else, I’m here. Now if I’m not mistaken, you’ve come to see me about something.”
“How the hell do you know that?” asked a surprised Buster.
“I saw you enter the tavern from my window,” explained Banner, as he motioned towards his room, and the single double-spaced window that overlooked the front of the building, and the street that ran past it. “And since you don’t drink anymore, I figured that you would only visit to either check up on me-which I don’t need you to do everyday-or to tell me that something’s wrong. So, which is it?
Needles to say, Buster was taken aback by how quickly Banner had figured out why he was there, but didn’t show it. Right now, telling the elder stallion about Luna was more important. “Banner,” he began, “I came to tell you that Luna is missing, and all evidence points to her being kid…”
Before Buster could finish his sentence, he found himself being pulled into the room, and having the door closed behind him. He then ground himself staring face-to-face with Banner. The calm, subdued expression that had been on his face was gone, and had been replaced with one of seriousness that he had always worn when faced with a crisis or emergency of any sort. His eyes were now narrowed and focused on Buster.
“What happened?” demanded Banner, calmly, but firmly.
All at once, Buster felt something…familiar in the tone of Banner’s voice. Something that he hadn’t felt, since he was a…
He suddenly realized that that what he was now feeling was something that he hadn’t felt, since he was just a simple soldier, serving under the command of Banner. He now no longer felt that the situation was the same as when he first came to the tavern. He was now no longer Buster, Captain of the Royal Guard, telling Banner, the retired Captain of the Royal Guard, about the kidnapping of Queen Luna of Secret Valley, in another world; He was now Buster, the Royal Guard, telling Banner, the Captain of the Royal Guard, about the kidnapping of Princess Luna of Ponyland in another world.
In short, it was an extreme case of deja’ vu.
Now knowing fully well about what to do, Buster, in the clear and firm tone that he would have used to address Banner years ago, told his former leader about everything that Whisper had told him over the inter-dimensional radio not a half an hour ago.
When he was finished, Banner, instead of giving out orders like he would have done years ago as Captain of the Royal Guard, nodded his head, and then turned away from Buster. He then walked slowly across the room, and stood in front of the room’s lone window. Facing towards it, he closed his eyes, and sighed heavily.
Whether out of reflex or instinct-He didn’t know which-Buster stood there by the door as he waited for Banner to say something.
Finally, after almost a full minute of silence, Banner opened his eyes, and began to speak. “Sergeant Buster,” he said quietly, using Buster’s old rank, “do you want to know something?”
“Yes, what?” asked Buster.
With another heavy sigh, Banner replied, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
This remark surprised the hell out of Buster. While it was true that Banner was getting old, he had always given everyone the impression that he wasn’t going to let it slow him down, or interfere with how he served as Captain of the Guard. Unfortunately, he had only been able to hold out for a year or so after Blizzard was crowned as Prince of Secret Valley, before had retired to due to an incident that he was involved in, and which ponies still talked about in hushed voices to this day…
But that wasn’t important right now to Buster as he stood there, taking in what Banner had just said. He just couldn’t believe it; the veteran soldier had just admitted that he was tired. Too shocked to say anything, the younger stallion simply stood there as he stared at the older stallion in disbelief.
Noticing the lack of the response from the younger stallion, Banner said, “Your surprised that I would admit I could ever be tired, aren’t you?” Before Buster could say anything, he added, “I know that everyone thought that I was some unstoppable super soldier, who could never become tired of doing duty, and serving the King.” He sighed. “I admit I’m responsible for giving everyone that impression.” Slowly, he turned around, until he was facing Buster. “ But the fact, Buster, is that I’m now a tired old stallion, whose had his fill of things.”
“Fill of what things?” asked Buster.
“Oh, violence, death, destruction. Things I’ve dealt with for the last thirty years of my life.” Banner once again shut his eyes. “Especially since a certain incident that occurred over twenty years ago, and which sent the world spiraling into the depths of Argon.” In an instant, the elder’s stallion’s eyes flew open. There was a look of anger inside of them. “For almost thirteen of those years, that bastard Star Cluster put us all through hell. “ His voice began to sound angrier, and gradually rose in volume as he continued to speak. “First, he takes control of his brothers, and turns them into his servants. Then he attacks Dream Castle right on the same day that Luna’s born, and forces poor Royal Heart to escape across the Gate to another world, where, just before being taken prisoner for thirteen years, she is forced to leave her one and only daughter on the doorstep on the house of some strange couple. Meanwhile, we have to hole up on Moony Mountain, and then have you and Charades go over into this other world, and find Luna. Unfortunately, the three Black Ponies did so too, which made things even more difficult, and had us stop them at all costs. Not to mention the fact that while all this was going on, poor Luna was going through so much emotional turmoil that I don’t think she will ever completely recover from it. Poor Filly.” As soon as he mentioned Luna’s name, and began to talk about her, the anger in Banner’s eyes seem to fade away, and were replaced by a look of sorrow. His voice became calm and steady. He once again turned away from Buster to stare out the window. “Then, when we had finally defeated both Star Cluster and the reptilian bastard named Fallon who pulled his strings like a puppet-not to mention his bastard brother Teriney-and when it looked there was going to be a happy ending to everything, you come and tell me on this stormy, gods-forsaken night that Luna has been once again kidnapped, and that you need my help.” There was a pause. “As you know, I’ve been retired for almost two years now. This, I assume, meant that I would be no longer required to do my duty as a defender of the royal family and kingdom of Ponyland. With that being said, I’m going to ask you a question: Why do you tell me all this?”
For a moment, Buster was speechless. In almost a minute and a half, Banner had just recounted all the events of the last twenty years. A period of about two complete decades. The only thing that Buster could at that moment was, ‘My gods, has it really been that long?’ But he knew that it had indeed been twenty years, since the three Black Ponies had attacked Dream Castle on that fateful morning…the morning when everything went all to hell.
Buster finally found his voice. “I think you already know the answer to that question,” he replied to the elder stallion. “If you don’t, let me remind you. Once upon a time, years and years ago, me, you, and Charades were the ones who fought the hardest to protect that filly from Star Cluster and the Black Ponies. Oh sure, there were other ponies who fought against them, but they only did it to defeat Star Cluster. I still doubt very much that they could have personally cared less about Luna.” This last sentence was said with suppressed anger. Buster sighed. “But the point I’m trying to make is that we did, and thirteen years of hard fighting on our part proves it.” He reached over and placed his right hand on Banner’s left shoulder. “What I’m trying to say, Captain, is that we once fought for Luna, and now that she’s in danger again, it’s time for us to fight for her again.” With sincerity in his eyes, he added, “I need your help, and so does Luna.”
For a long time, there was silence in the room as Banner stood, waiting for a response from Banner.
In return, Banner looked at Buster, and saw the look of sincerity that was present in the younger stallion’s eyes. He then leaned forward. “You though I was telling you that I was a tired, old soldier, who no longer felt like doing his duty to kingdom, and was also going to tell you that I wished to be left alone as I live out my twilight years. Am I right?
Buster was surprised at this. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he had though that Banner was going to rebuff him, but now he knew that he was a fool for thinking that the veteran soldier would refuse to help come to Luna’s aid. He had just wanted him to think so. The question was why?
Before he could say anything, Banner motioned for Buster to be quiet, and then pointed to the room’s one and only door. This indicated that there was someone hiding behind it.
Someone who had probably been listening in on them…
“Well,” said Banner, “you didn’t answer my question?”
As he spoke, the elder stallion used sign language to tell Buster that he intended to take whoever was listening in on them by surprise, and capture him. He then directed the younger stallion to move ro shut off the light in the room, while he himself moved towards the door, and to keep talking like normal.
Buster, who knew and understood sign language, nodded his head to let Banner know that he understood his instructions.
“Yes,” he said in response to the elder stallion’s question in what he hoped was a normal sounding tone, “for a while, I though that you were telling me that.” He slowly began to across the room, until he was standing under the room’s one source of light, which was an oil lamp that hung from the middle of the ceiling. He waited for the signal to turn the lamp off.
In the meanwhile, Buster had moved slowly across the room, until he was leaning up against the wall to the left of the door. “Well, everything I said was true. I’m now just a tired, old soldier, who’s at the end of his prime.” He motioned for Buster to get ready to turn the lamp off at the exact moment that he opened the door. “So, do you have any ideas about who may have kidnapped Luna?”
“Yes, one,” replied Buster.
At that moment, Banner gave the signal. In a split second, Buster blew out the fire in the lamp and plunged the room in complete darkness. At the same moment, Banner flung the door open. Almost immediately, the unmistakable sounds of a heated struggle could be heard through the darkness as he pulled someone else from out in the corridor, and into the room.
Buster, who had trouble seeing, somehow managed to make it to the door, and closed it. He then made his way in the direction he came back towards the lamp. Fumbling, he felt around with his hands, until he found his left pants pocket. He then reached into it, pulled out a box matches that he had been carrying, pulled out a match, and then lit it. Using the light from the small flame of the match to see, he reached up, and relit the kerosene lamp. Light then filled the room once more, and revealed a surprising sight to Buster.
Banner, the stallion who everyone fought was now too old to be much of a fighter, was currently on the floor, struggling with another stallion, who most likely the one who had been eavesdropping a few moments ago.
The stallion in question was an earthling, who had golden yellow fur, an aqua blue mane and tail, and brown eyes. He was wearing a pair of trousers and long-sleeved tunic, which were both brown. A dark blue cloak was draped over his shoulders.
Buster was then surprised even more when he recognized the stallion. “Aquiles!” he exclaimed.
Upon hearing this, Buster, and the other stallion, whose name was Aquiles, stopped their struggle, and then looked at Buster.
“Hello, Buster,” exclaimed Aquiles from where Banner was pinning him to the floor, “it’s nice to see you again.”
“Buster,” said Banner from where he was pinning Aquiles onto the floor, “do you know this stallion?”
“Of course I do,” smiled the Captain of the Royal Guard of Ponyland. “Aquiles here is Captain of the Royal Guard of Secret Valley. In other words, my counterpart there.”
With some skepticism, Banner looked at Buster, and then at Aquiles. “Is there anywhere you can prove to me that you are Aquiles, Captain of the Guard in Secret Valley?”
Aquiles nodded his head. “If you’ll be so kind as to give me a chance,” he replied, “I’d be more than happy to prove to you that I am. Now could you please get off me?“
“All right, but if you.” With some hesitation, Banner slowly lifted himself off of Aquiles, never taking his eyes off of the golden stallion for a second. It was more than clear that he did not trust this stallion, who was a complete stranger to him, at all. Glaring at Aquiles suspicion and mistrust in his eyes, the elder stallion almost seemed ready to pounce on the gold-colored stallion, and, for all intents and purposes, take him out…
While someone would think that Banner was being paranoid, someone who knew him well, like Buster, wouldn’t. They knew that it was just the old soldier’s way to be suspicious of anyone that he considered of being a hostile threat. It came with being a Royal Guard for so long, and having to be constantly on guard to protect the Royal Family from harm all times. From his time as a young, lowly soldier to his time as Captain of the Royal Guard of Ponyland, Banner had encountered many, many threats that he had all managed to fight off and defeat.
That is, except for a certain morning about twenty years ago…
For as long as he lived, Banner would never, ever forgive Star Cluster for all the evil things he had done all those years ago.
As soon as Banner had gotten off of him, Aquiles picked himself off the floor, and stood up. Upon seeing the expression on Banner’s face, he realized that that gaining the old soldier’s trust wasn’t going to be an easy thing to do. Still, there was a reason that Aquiles had been chosen to carry out the mission that had been given to him….
“Here,” he said, “will this be enough proof for you?” He reached under the collar of his tunic, and pulled silver medallion that hung on a silver chain form around his neck, and handed it to Banner, who examined it.
Engraved on the front side of the medallion was the image of a dragon in flight sitting above the image of a snowflake. This, Banner knew, was the royal seal of the Kingdom of Secret Valley. Flipping it around, he then saw that engraved on the backside of the medallion was the imager of two swords crossed over each other in an X, with a small crown sitting above them. In any kingdom, this was the universal seal of a Captain of the Royal Guard. To most, this seal would be considered ultimate proof that Aquiles was who he claimed to be.
This, however, didn’t entirely convince Banner. Despite the fact that the gold-colored stallion had presented irrefutable proof of his identity, Banner’s internal instincts were telling him that there was something not quite right about Aquiles. Something dangerous…
Right then and there, Banner vowed to himself that he would keep a suspicious eye on Aquiles from now on.
Buster, on the other hand, seemed to fully trust Aquiles. In fact, he seemed to be friends with the gold-colored stallion from Secret Valley. “So,” he asked Aquiles, “what brings you here to Ponyland?”
“Better yet,” added Banner coldly, “why were you eavesdropping on us?”
“I wasn’t eavesdropping on you,” insisted Aquiles. “I was about to knock on your door, when you opened it, and ambushed me.”
Banner didn’t believe him, but didn’t’ say anything.
Buster, however, did. “Okay, so why are you’re here?” he asked.
“That’s what I want to talk with the both of you about.” Aquiles reached into his pocket, and pulled out a folded-up piece of paper. “ One night about two weeks ago, and about two days after King Blizzard and Queen Luna went on vacation, two of my soldiers found the body of stallion floating face-down in a stream near the castle. He was dead. He was an earthling with purple fur and a yellow mane and tail. He was wearing both trousers and a tunic that were both brown. We also found a brown cloak snagged on a low lying branch of one of the tress, and we think that may belonged to him, too.”
“You found a dead stallion floating in a stream?” repeated Buster, interrupting the golden stallion. A look of subdued alarm was in his eyes. “Do you know how he died?” he asked immediately.
Aquiles nodded. “Yes. We had the royal doctor examine the body after we had pulled out of the stream, and he found that the stallion had been stabbed to death in the heart, with what we figure was a dagger or knife. Judging by how deep the cut was, we figured that the killer must have been standing right in front of his victim when he killed him.”
“Did you found the murder weapon by any chance?” asked Buster. The look of alarm in his eyes was growing, but he remained calm and professional.
“Yes, we did,” replied Aquiles. “One of my soldiers found a hunting knife lying under a tree on the far side of the stream. It was one of those basic kinds, with a brown leather handle and a long steel blade. We knew it was the murder weapon, because there were dried bloodstains on it. If you ask me, I think it’s pretty stupid to leave behind the weapon you committed a murder with at the scene of the crime, but there it was. Just sitting under a tree.”
“Did you manage to identify the body?” asked Banner for the first time in awhile.
“Not at first,” admitted Aquiles. “But we soon did thanks to this.” He reached into left side pocket of his trousers, and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “We found this in his trouser pocket. Your never going to guess whom it’s addressed to.”
“Who?” inquired Banner.
“Just read it.”
Aquiles handed the letter to Banner. He then unfolded it, and began reading it. It read:
Dear King Blizzard and Queen Luna
My name is Flance, and you don’t know him. But I know who you are. I’m writing this letter to warn you that a group ponies are planning to kill the both of you for reason that I don’t even know. I don’t even know how they’re planning to kill you or when. What I do know is that one of the ponies who serve you in the castle secretly works for these ponies who wish to see you dead. Again I don’t know their identity, but they are most likely one of your servants. I’m sorry that I can’t tell you anything more, but this will hopefully give some warn you, so that you can at least be on guard.
I’m sorry that I can’t tell you anything more.
After he had finished reading it the first time, Banner read the letter again, as if he didn’t believe what it said. He, however, knew that it was true. He just wanted Aquiles to think that he didn’t…
Buster, meanwhile, looked with a ever-growing sense of dread. He had not counted on Aquiles showing up, and telling him and Banner about a murder, and a mysterious letter. A letter, he knew, that may very well be connected with what he had gone to see Banner about. Oh gods, why did Aquiles have to show up here? It was almost too good to be a coincidence…
After he had read the letter, Banner first looked at Aquiles, and then at Buster. There was a look of both anger and disbelief on his face. “Buster,” he said quietly, handing the letter to the younger stallion, “read this.”
He handed Buster the letter. The younger stallion did read it, despite the fact that he already had a pretty good idea about what it said. After he was finished, there was now an even greater look of alarm on his face. “Oh, gods.”
“You already know something about this, don’t you, Buster,” said Banner. It was not a question.
Closing his eyes, Buster slowly nodded his head. “I’m afraid I do.” He reached into one of the pockets of his trousers, and pulled another piece of folded that nearly identical to the one that Aquiles had found on the dead stallion. Buster opened his eyes. “This,” he said, holding up the piece of paper he had just pulled out of his pocket, “is a letter that I found on the floor of my room one night after I had come back from dinner one night. I think you should also read it.”
He handed the letter to Banner, whose reaction was the same as the one he had had to the letter from Aquiles.
“What the hell is going on with the world?” he exclaimed after he finished reading it. “Can anyone tell me who this Flance characters is, or should I say, was? More importantly, can anyone tell me who these ponies who are planning to kill the royal families are going to…” Banner trailed off when he realized something that actually sacred the hell out of him. “Oh, gods, Luna.”
Buster nodded his grimly. “That’s right. Whatever happened to Luna is the beginning.”
“What a minute,” exclaimed a confused Aquiles. “What happened to Queen Luna?” Buster told him. The gold-stallion looked horrified. “Oh, gods! No! ”
“I’m afraid so,” said Banner heavily. “It appears to me that some insidious group of ponies is planning to kill the royal families of both Ponyland and Secret Valley, and have already begun to do so.” A silent rage began to slowly grow inside of him, but he remained calm and professional. There was now, however, a dark, angry look in his eyes.
Buster knew that look all too well. He had seen it many times on Banner’s face before, and he knew that the elder stallion was now ready to kill someone. Preferably, whoever had attacked, and had possibility kidnapped, Luna.
Meanwhile, Aquiles sat there in his chair, staring out into space. “This can’t be happening,” he said out loud in denial. “This can’t be happening.”
“I’m afraid it is,” said Banner, and turned to Buster. “Since you came here to tell me about Luna, I assume you’ve already planning to cross over the Gate and rescue her. Am I right?”
Although he knew that he should be, Buster wasn’t the least bit surprised that the older stallion had already guessed what he was planning to do. For as long as he knew him, Banner always seemed to be able to guess what someone was gong to do or say beforehand. Why this was had always been a mystery. Some ponies said it was because Banner was psychic, which had been quickly dismissed as a credible explanation, since most ponies had been joking around when they suggested it. Other ponies said that he possessed magical powers. This was also turned down as an explanation, since it had been proven time and time again that Banner didn’t have any magical powers at all. Right now-especially to Buster-it wasn’t important. What was important was getting out there and finding Luna.
“That’s exactly what I’m planning to do,” replied Buster. ”The sooner we can get over there, the sooner we can find her. “ He turned to Aquiles. “I assume you already know about the other world.”
Aquiles nodded. “Yes, Queen Luna told me about it, when I became the commander of the Royal Guards. In fact, I’m the only pony besides the King and Queen who knows anything about it.”
Instead of pointing out just what was wrong with Aquiles’s explanation, both Banner and Buster remained silent. They did, however, glanced at each other in understanding. For now, they would go along with anything that Captain of the Royal Guard from Secret Valley told me them. For now anyways…
“So, Sergeant, “ Banner said to Buster, using the younger stallion’s old rank, “what exactly is this plan of yours?” He smiled.
Buster also smiled. “Well, Captain,” he replied to the older stallion, referring to him by his old rank, “my plan is very simple.” He sat down on the edge of the bed, and said very plainly, “We go across the gate to Ponyville, find Luna, and annihilate whoever took her.”
“But there’s a few things we need to take care off, before we do that, isn’t there?” said Banner, who was now leaning against the wall directly across from Buster with his hands folded across his chest. Sitting in-between them in the chair was Aquiles. They both listened carefully, but for different reasons…
Buster nodded. “Yes, there is,” he agreed. “First off, we need to recruit a few more ponies to go on this little rescue mission of ours. Face it; all three of us are good at what we do, but we’re not that good. Besides, I’m betting the bastards who took Luna didn’t do it alone. Not with how powerful Luna is.“
The two other ponies agreed with Buster’s deduction. It had been proven many times that Luna was more powerful than any other pony in existence. She was, after all, the resurrected spirit of a dragon…
“So were planning to recruit anyone in particular?” asked Banner. “Or were you just going to randomly ask someone to join us.”
“Well, as a matter of fact,” replied Buster, ”I already have two ponies in mind, who I know will join us in a heartbeat as soon as I ask them.”
“I rather not tell you, until I ask them.”
Banner was now understandably curious about the two individuals that Buster was planning to recruit, but he decided to wait until their identities were revealed to him. “Anyone else?”
“No, that’s it. I want to keep this group of ours as small as possible.” Buster then turned to Aquiles. “Did you come here to Ponyland alone?”
Aquiles nodded. “Yes, I came alone.”
“Good. The less ponies who know about all of this, the better.” Buster than said ominously, “For all any of us know, there could be someone trying to spy on us here in Ponyland right now. There may also be spies in Secret Valley.”
“You think so?” Aquiles asked, looking a little unnerved by what his counterpart from Ponyland was saying.
“Yes, I do.” Buster gazed intensely at the golden stallion. “Don’t you think so?”
Aquiles now clearly appeared to be unnerved by the gaze that was directed towards him, and gulped loudly. The two other stallions, however, still said nothing.
Banner said, “So what’s the second part of your plan, Buster?”
The younger stallion didn’t answer right away, and turned away and looked out the window instead. He let out a sigh. “I don’t think your going to like the second part of the plan,” he said. “In fact, you may even hate me for suggesting it.”
“Well that depends on what it is,” Buster informed him. “Now, what is it?”
“In order to get across the gate, we need to steal King Stardusts’ key.”
The room became silent as the two other stallions took in what Buster had just said. Banner, as one would expect, was completely taken aback by the very idea of stealing such as sacred item. And yet, he wasn’t the least bit surprised that Buster had come up with it. For as long as the veteran soldier had known him, Buster had always been who would come up with the most unusual, most creative, and downright most insane, solutions to any problem he faced. It was this unique quality that had given Buster the reputation as a problem solver. It was also because of this that Banner had long ago chosen him to be his successor when he would finally retire as Captain of the Royal Guard.
Aquiles, still sitting in his chair, was speechless; with his eyes wide open in disbelief.
“Are you insane?” he finally asked. “Your planning to steal the key to the Gate here in Pony land from King Stardust? Are you insane?”
“You already asked me if I’m insane,” replied Buster. “But yes; that’s what I’m planning to do.”
Banner just shook his head. “It’s impossible,” he suddenly said.
“It’s not impossible,”
It not impossible.”
“It is impossible, and you’re insane for even thinking about it.”
“Oh, yeah?” Buster asked, with his arms folded across his chest and an annoyed expression on his face. “How is it impossible, Banner?”
“For starters,” the veteran soldier explained, “Stardust keeps the key close to him at all times.”
“He wears it around his neck all day and all night.”
“Its impossible to get it away from him, without him becoming aware that it’s being stolen.”
“What you would have to do-if it were even possible-is to somehow get from around his neck, without him obviously knowing your taking it, and then getting as far away from him as possible. And if you managed to do all that, Stardust, and just about everybody else in Ponyland, would know right that whoever just went across the Gate to the other world who took the key and would be waiting for that individual to return. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you?”
Listening quietly for all this time, Buster’s only reply was, “So?”
Banner nearly lost his patience. “Have you been listening to me?”
“Yes, I have,” the young stallion replied, with a fierce look now in his eyes. “And I’m still going through with it,” he added determinedly. “Face it; the only way we’re going to be able to find Luna is get over into Ponyland, look for her, and rescue her like we’ve always done.”
“You mean like how you and Charades used to saver her,” Banner corrected him. “I was always back here, fighting Star Cluster and his allies, if you’ll care to remember.”
Buster nodded. “Yeah, I know,” he now calmly replied. He looked directly at his mentor and predecessor. “Look, you want to find Luna, right?”
“Of course, I do,” Banner replied adamantly.
“Well, since she went missing over in the other world, we need to get over there to find, right?”
“Well the only way to get there is through the Gate and the only way we can get through the Gate is with Stardusts’ Key. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
There was silence as Banner supposedly thought about what his young prodigy had just said, with his eyes closed shut. “Buster,” he finally said, opening his eyes, “your absolutely right.” A wide, toothy smile then spread across his face and he became to chuckle. “Your absolutely right.”
Buster was now understandably confused by the veteran soldier’s sudden, crazed behavior. The bewildered expression on his face made Banner start to laugh out loud like a lunatic.
“Buster,” he said, in between fits of laughter, “you just pass the test.”
“I wanted to see how determined your were at stealing Stardusts’ Key to the Gate here in Ponyland,” Banner explained, ”and you just passed with flying colors.”
A look of astonishment was now on Buster’s face. “Do you mean to tell me you didn’t think I would be sincere in doing it to rescue Luna?”
Banner shook his head. “Oh, no, no, no,” he insisted. “I just wanted to put you through one of my old tests.” He grinned. “You remember those, right?”
Upon being reminded, Buster did remember about how, when he was just a lowly soldier, Banner would put him through a series of mental tests, whether they would be riddles to solve, poems and passages from books to be recited, or whatever the veteran soldier could think of. The reason for these tests, he would always claim, was that he wanted to see how well his young prodigy was at using mind to solve problems. Now, it seemed, Banner had one again given Buster another test and, like always, he had passed it.
“So,” Buster asked, smiling, “does this mean you with me all the way on stealing Stardusts’ key?”
The grin on Banner’s face suddenly disappeared and he looked Buster straight in the eye. “Do you seriously think you have to ask me that?”
There was some silence before Buster simply replied, “Hell, no.”
The current, and the former, Captain of the Guard of the Kingdom of Ponyland then both began to laugh uncontrollability.
“So,” Banner said, after the laughter had died down, “how exaclt y do you plan to steal the Key from Stardust?”
Buster smiled devilishly. “I’m glad you asked.” He then went on to explain, in full detail, his plan to steal the key…
Unbeknownst to the three stallions in the room, a dark, shadowy individual wrapped in a black cloak and hood was outside in the corridor, eavesdropping on them and hearing exactly everything they were saying. Due to this individual’s finely honed skills at being silent and stealthily, he, unlike Aquiles, remained undetected by Buster and Banner. When he had heard all that he wanted to hear, he silently headed to the other side of the corridor, quietly opened a door to a room, entered, closed the door behind him, and headed across it the windows which looked over the forest that stood behind the tavern. He opened them, climbed onto and crouched on the windows sill, and then dropped to the ground, landing perfectly on both feet, without making a sound. He then silently jogged into the darkened woods and disappeared completely.
While he was doing all of this, the Individual wondered about how King Stardust would react when he learned that his own Captain of the Guard was planning to steal the key to the Gate in his own kingdom…
“Buster,” said Banner, when the younger stallion was finished, “that has got to be the most ingenious, and insane, plan you have ever come up with.” He then smiled. “It just might work.”
“But will it work?” said Aquiles. “Like you said, Banner. The King keeps the Key close to him at all times.”
“The hard part will be getting it away from him,” Buster admitted. “I’ll have to pray to all the Gods to do it, but with the way I see it, we hardly have any choice. We need that key to get to the other world and find Luna. That’s the important thing.” No one in the room would argue with that. “So now that we all know the plan, I think we should call it night.” He yawned. “I, for one, am getting tired.”
“Your right,” Banner agreed. “It’s getting late.”
“So am I.” Aquiles than asked, “So we’re meeting again tomorrow night at the Gate?”
Buster nodded. “Yeah, and I don’t think I need to remind you to come alone.”
“Of course.” Aquiles got up out of his chair. “Well, good night.”
Both Banner and Buster returned the good nights as watched as the Captain of the Guard of the Kingdom of Secret Valley left the room, leaving the door open, and then headed to the room he had rented at the inn for himself. The two stallions listened to him until they finally heard the sound of Aquiles closing the door to his room. It was Banner who spoke.
“I don’t trust him.”
“Neither do I, Banner, neither do.” Buster let out a heavy sigh. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to act like we do, until he reveals his true colors.”
“Yes, whenever that might be.” Banner didn’t sound all that pleased at the prospect of having to wait to see whether Aquiles’s true intentions were, but he didn’t have much of a choice at that time. He would just have to wait until the Captain of the Royal Guard of Secret Valley exposed himself.
“Well, ” the veteran soldier said, “I’m going to bed. It’s late enough for me.”
His younger companion nodded. “So am I. I need to get back to the castle before someone starts wondering where I am.” Buster began walking towards the door. “Good night,” he said, opening the door and then walking out of the room. He closed the door behind him.
Once he was gone, Banner let out another awn and prepared for bed.
When he had reached his room, Aquiles stopped, looked down both ends of the corridor to see if he was alone, which he was, and then opened the door. He then entered the room, closed the door behind him, and made an immediate beeline to a large steamer trunk that sat on the floor in a corner of his room, which furnished just like every other room in the inn. He swung open the lid, and looked down at its contents. Stored inside the trunk was a partially dissembled inter-dimensional radio set. With practiced precision, Aquiles took lifted took every component out of the trunk one-one, and placed them on the nearby desk. He then sat down and began to assemble together into the radio. When that was done, he put the set of headphones on, flipped on the power switch, and began to adjust the tuning dial to the right frequency.
“Hello?” he said into the microphone, when he had tuned into the right frequency. “This is Aquiles calling Midnight Castle. Midnight Castle, come in please.” He finally heard a voice on the other end. “Yes, I’ve made contact with them…Captain Buster trusts, and so does Captain Banner, apparently…Our theory was right. They’re planning to head across the gate to the other world…By stealing King Stardusts’ key, of course…Captain Buster is the one whose planning to steal it…I’m not sure how he’s going to do that. He didn’t say…They’re planning to meet together tomorrow night at the Gate…Yes, I’ll be there…Yes, my lord, it shall be done….Aquiles signing off.”
He turned off the radio, dissembled it, placed the components back into the trunk, and closed it. He then got ready for bed, the orders he had been given still rung in his head.
Outside the room, Banner, who had been listening in on Aquiles, showed his teeth as if he was about ready to snarl. ‘Got you, you bastard,’ he thought, and then headed back to his own room, shutting the door softly and silently behind him.
Teriney had walked out into the middle of a freshwater stream that flowed through the forest, and was now standing in knee-deep water as he tried to snatch one of the fish swimming past him out of the water for breakfast. At first, he had tried standing up, and taking swipes at them with his hands, while trying to catch them with his claws. When that didn’t work, he got on his hands and knees, and was now trying to dip his head into the water, with the hopes of catching any of them with his razor sharp teeth. Unfortunately, he wasn’t having very much success.
From where she sat on the shore of the stream, Luna smiled and laughed a bit as she watched the elder dragon tried desperately to catch a fish. Based on how he confidently waded into he stream when they first arrived, she figured that Teriney was well experienced in catching fish, and, at any other time, she would be right. But today he seemed to be having more trouble than usual.
After watching him struggle for a few minutes, Luna decided that the least she could do was go and help Teriney, so that they could at least have something to eat for breakfast. Standing up from her sitting position, she slowly waded out into the stream herself, and headed directly towards the elder dragon.
“Need some help?” she asked as she came closer to him.
Teriney looked up at the younger winged unicorn with surprise. Before he could say anything, Luna dipped her head into the water and then quickly pulled it up again in a split second. A still-squirming fish was now clenched in-between her teeth “Why, Luna,” he said with astonishment, “I didn’t know you could do that.”
Luna reached over and took the fish out her mouth, and held it with her right hand. “Oh, Teriney, you should already know quite well that I’m more than capable of catching fish,” she replied, smiling. For an instant, her eyes changed colors from purple to green and back again. “I was once a dragon like you, after all.”
For a moment, Teriney stared at Luna in astonishment at how her eyes had quickly changed colors. He then remembered something and smiled.
Luna seemed to be confused by this. “What?”
“Nothing.” Teriney then looked at the fish the young mare was holding. “That’s a very good catch you have there. Let me see it.” He took the fish, held it in his hands, and examined it. “This is an impressive catch, Luna.”
The young mare smiled. “What can I say? It came naturally to me.”
“I’ll believe it.” Teriney handed the fish back to Luna. “Come on, let’s cook it. I’ for one, am hungry.”
He and Luna headed back up the trail, leaving the river behind them. After walking for a few minutes, they arrived back at the cave. Sitting in the middle of the small clearing outside its entrance was a simple fire pit that was formed by a ring of stones. Sitting in the middle of the ring was a stack of dry logs, while standing above it was a metal grate that was held up by four legs. Teriney handed the fish to Luna. “Here,” he told her, “take this.”
While the young filly waited with the fish, he went into the cave, and came back out a minute or two later, holding a sheet of tinfoil. He then kneeled in front of the grate, and placed the sheet of foil over it, completely covering it. As gently as he could, he placed the fish on top of it. Turning his head to directly face the logs, he took a small breath and blew a small burst of fire that engulfed the pieces of wood and set them ablaze. They began to burn quite nicely and were soon hot enough to start cooking the fish.
“There,” said Teriney, smiling. “Breakfast will be cooked quite nicely now.”
“It certainly will,” agreed Luna. She looked all around her. “So you live here?”
“Sometimes,” the elder dragon replied. “Mostly when I need to relax and have some time for myself.” He smiled. “It’s my sanctuary from the rest of the universe.” He and Luna sat down. “But most of the time I live at the castle with the others.”
“You mean with Star Flame and Sunbeam?”
“Yes, them; Doctor Wig-Wam, who operated on you when I first brought you there; and a few others.”
“Others?” a confused Luna asked. She hadn’t seen any other ponies at the castle when she was there.
Teriney nodded. “There are a few other ponies who live at the castle.”
“Really? I didn’t see anyone else there.”
“That’s because they’re all away on a trip.”
“Yes, they went off on a camping trip for a couple of days,” explained Teriney, almost automatically. ”I didn’t go because, as you may guess, I already live outdoors. It would be pointless. ”
“Yeah, it would,” agreed Luna, who knew that her former opponent had just avoided telling her the truth that she already knew.
The two sat there together in silence as they dined on the now cooked fish, bare handed, neither of them seeming to mind. All around them the woods were silent, still, and, most of all, peaceful. There were hardly sounds being made by anything, which meant that there was hardly anything moving around. To the two ponies, it was quite the opposite of the violence that had occurred the day before.
When he was finished with his part of the fish, Teriney tossed the pieces of bone that remained into the fire. He then leaned back, and let out a loud, audible burp that echoed throughout the surrounding forest. This made Luna laugh.
“I see you like the fish I caught,” she observed, in-between fits of laughter.
Teriney laughed as well. “It was delicious.”
They then both laughed together, which, in the past, would have been the most inconceivable thing to the both of them. Further still, just sitting together in the same spot would have been even more inconceivable. Yet here they were, together, sharing a meal and laughing like old friends.
The world could work in some mysterious ways.
It had been a half a day and all night since Teriney and Luna suddenly left the castle, and now it was morning and still hadn’t returned. Star Flame, while not worried about it, was somewhat concerned. She knew that Teriney had a lair out in the woods he liked to go to and stay at for days on end. That was not the problem. The problem was that he had suddenly left without telling her or anyone else, and that Luna had suddenly left with her. While she didn’t know a single thing about their relationship with each other, Star Flame figured that Teriney must have done some pretty bad things involving Luna, since he seemed to have a tormented look about him ever since he brought the young mare to the castle. He also seemed to be under tremendous guilt. Whatever the dragon stallion had done in the past had been a good at all, Star Flame had figured, and that Luna had been involved. The question now was what exactly did happen between Teriney and Luna in the past?
Star Flame was thinking about all of this in her mind, as she stood on the balcony of the guest room that Luna had been staying in the day before. She leaned forward on the stone railing, and looked towards the great forest that she knew the two ponies in question were in, together. Were they friends, or were they enemies? Only the gods knew the answer, and Star Flame vowed to herself that she would find out what it was.
She suddenly heard the sounds of hoovesteps coming up from behind her. She turned and found that Sunbeam has now joined her on the balcony.
“Have seen them yet?” he asked, referring to Teriney and Luna.
Star Flame shook her head. ”No, and I’m getting worried.”
“Worried? What for? ”
“I don’t know. It’s just that Teriney has just never run off like this before.”
“Yeah, I know, but ever since he brought that mare, Luna, here yesterday, he’s been acting like he’s guilty of something,” said Sunbeam. “And I think it’s because of Luna.”
“I think your right,” agreed Star Flame. “There’s something about those two that our dear friend Teriney doesn’t want us to know about.”
“What could that be?”
“I don’t know, but I think we should ask them both a few questions when they come back here.”
Just as she was saying this, both Star Flame and Sunbeam heard the low roar coming from off in the distance. They instinctively turned towards the direction that the sound was coming from. They watched as a white car emerged from the woods and head towards the castle. As it came closer, Star Flame recognized it.
“Holy smokes!” she exclaimed, her eyes wide. “The Queen’s back!” Soon a procession of cars emerged from the woods, and followed the white one. “The whole gang’s back!”
“Oh, great,” Sunbeam groaned. “Something tells me we’re going to have some explaining to do.”
“Gee, you think so?”
Once they were finished with their meal, Teriney and Luna simply sat peacefully, letting their stomachs digest the fish they had eaten. They didn’t speak, since they both enjoyed the peacefulness that surrounded them. They both smiled at each other, acting more like old friend than old enemies, which is what they had now become.
“Well,” said Teriney, breaking the silence, “I think we should return to the castle. The others are probably worried sick about us.”
Luna nodded. “Yeah, they probably are,” she agreed. “We did sort of suddenly disappear.”
“Yes, we did.”
The two of them then got up, and put the fire out. When that was done, they extended their wings out, flew into the air, and headed back towards the castle, with Teriney leading away.
Both Star Flame and Sunbeam continued to watch from the balcony, as the procession of cars drove towards the castle on the dirt road that led from the woods and led up to where a drawbridge spanned across the moat that surrounded the castle. Then crossed the drawbridge, one by one, and rolled into the castle’s vast courtyard, coming to park in rows along the outer walls. As fast their legs could carry them, both Star Flame and Sunbeam rushed down the stairs and out of the keep to meet their friends, who were starting to climb out of their cars. They were a diverse group, being made of ponies of various species, and who were dressed in various, regular street clothes. Most of them were talking top each other, while were walking alone. In all, they all look exhausted.
Standing near the door, waiting for the group, were Star Flame and Sunbeam, who were frantically trying to come up with what exactly they were going to say about everything that happened while they were gone.
Their thoughts were interrupted when a stallion with dark green fur, a black mane and tail with a red streak that ran through the both of them, and black eyes came walking up to them. He was dressed in a pair of olive drab trousers, and a matching military-style field jacket. He wore a pair of steel-rimmed sunglasses over his eyes. He smiled as he walked over to the two ponies near the door.
“Hi there,” he said to them. “Didn’t expect us to be home so soon, did you?”
Star Flame shook her head. “No, we didn’t,” she admitted. “So how did it go?”
“It didn’t. Somehow the Cult heard we we’re heading their way, so they packed up and got out of Sandville before we even got there.“
“Ah, crap,” Sunbeam said sympathetically. “That stinks.”
“No kidding.” Battlefield then asked, “So did anything major happen while we were gone?”
Instead of answering right away, Star Flame and Sunbeam both looked at each other and then back at Battlefield. It’s not that they were afraid of telling him what happened. It’s just that they weren’t sure about how he would react. Ever since Teriney had joined the group, Battlefield had, while not completely disliking him, had always been suspicious of the dragon pony. He always claimed to everyone else in private that Teriney was hiding something about himself from everyone else. Something that, he figured, wasn’t good. The two ponies feared that telling the green stallion about what had happened the day before would confirm some of the suspicions that he had, and, possibly, make him become hostile against Teriney.
And may the gods help the pony who receives hostility from Battlefield.....
“Well, you see,” Star Flame finally said, “something did happened yesterday.”
“In fact,” Sunbeam added, “a lot of things happened yesterday.”
They both told Battlefield about what exactly had happened the day before, and about Teriney and Luna. While they did, they both hoped that he wouldn’t become upset. Battlefield listened to them carefully, not making a sound. When they were finished, his response was, for all intents and purposes, neutral and unemotional.
“Okay,” he said. “So where’s Teriney and this mare, Luna, now?” They told him. “All right, I’ll go talk to Majesty about this. You two just act casual for the moment. If anyone ask where Teriney is, tell him he’s out to cave. Pass the word on to the Doc. Okay?”
The two ponies nodded. “Good. Something tells me there’s more than meets to our friend Teriney than he’s told us. ”
Battlefield entered the castle. Both Star Flame and Sunbeam were somewhat relieved that Battlefield hadn’t blown a few gaskets, like they thought he would. They remained alert, thought, since there was always the chance that he was saving his rage for later. That is, if even necessary, and that would only happen if Battlefield considered Teriney to be a threat to the group. It had always been that way; whenever a new member joined the group, the Green Stallion, which was Battlefield’s widely-used nickname, would be suspicious of them, until he determined that they could be trusted. How long this took depended on how long he thought that they should be observed by him. Fortunately, Star Flame had instantly became friends with him when she first met him many years before, so she was never under suspicions by him. It was the same case with Sunbeam, since he had been friends with Battlefield since their group had been first formed together.
As she and Teriney flew closer to the castle, Luna finally got a good look at it from outside. What she saw was both incredible and confusing. The castle, from the outside, looked just like Dream Castle over in Ponyland, right down to every little detail. It was just a perfect copy in color, size, fixtures, everything. Luna couldn’t help but be a little spooked out by this. There was a, in a world which was supposed to not posses anything magical but did, castle that was home to a group of ponies, including her supposed to be dead enemy, who dressed like they were from the middle ages, and who seemed to be keeping a lot of secrets from her.
As they flew together, Teriney noticed the surprised expression on Luna’s face, as she looked at the castle. “The castle looks familiar, doesn’t it?” he asked her.
“It looks just like the one in Ponyland.” She looked at him. “Why is that?”
“It’s sort of complicated. When you met our friends, we’ll explain everything.” Teriney than noticed the cars that were parked in the courtyard. “They’re back.”
Luna also saw the cars. “Friends of yours?”
“Yes, it seems they’ve come back from their trip early.”
“Oh, good. I can met them now.”
“Yes, you can,” said Teriney, a little less than enthusiastically. I just hope they don’t kill me because of what I did to you, he thought.
The two of them then swooped down towards the castle, and landed in the courtyard, right in front of the entrance to the keep. Teriney turned to Luna.
“Before we go in,” he said, “I think I should warn you.”
“Well, the thing is some of the ponies I live with-actually, most of them-are very suspicious of strangers like you.”
“You see…well, you’ll see what I mean when you meet them.”
Before Luna could ask what he meant, Teriney opened the door, and waited for her to follow him. She did so, with some sense of caution, and they both stepped inside. They both stopped dead in their tracks at the sigh that greeted them.
Waiting for them in the entrance hall, in a large group, was every pony in the castle who lived in the castle. Now dressed in medieval-style clothing-which seemed to be the norm-the ponies were scattered around the room. A few were leaning on the walls at the sides of the room, while a few stood on the grand stair case and leaned on the railing. The rest were crowded together in a small group at the foot of the stairs. Besides her and Teriney, Luna counted that there was over fifteen other ponies in the room with them. Fifteen ponies who, at that very moment, were all staring directly at her.
Luna was, at first, understandably intimidated by having a sizable group of ponies stare at her. That is, until she got a good look at the expressions on their faces. While some of the ponies had the expressions that some would give to a complete stranger, others had ones of curiosity. Some even had ones of amazement. But none of them even had the slightest hint of aggression on their faces. Upon seeing this, Luna relaxed. Her own instincts began to tell her that she had nothing to fear from anyone in the group. Although, she still somewhat kept her guard up, just in case…
It was at that moment that one of the ponies in the small group in front of the stairs walked forward towards Teriney. She was a unicorn mare with white fur, and a sky blue mane and tail, which had a white streak run through the both of them. She was wore an elegant, loose-fitting white gown, with a gold cloth belt that was wrapped around her waist. What appeared to be a gold ring with a single red diamond was on her left ring finger. A neutral expression was on her face, as was the look in her eyes. She soon stood in front of Teriney, never once taking her eyes off him.
“Hello, Teriney,” she said, in a warm but authoritative voice; the one that would be used by someone who held great authority when greeting a favored servant.
“Hello, my queen,” replied Teriney, bowing to the mare. “How was the mission?”
“A failure.” The unicorn mare then told him the same things that Battlefield had told to Star Flame and Sunbeam. “It seems dear Minty is getting smarter.”
“Yes, or her spies are getting better,” the elder dragon suggested.
The mare, who was apparently a Queen, shook her head. “Either way, it’s going to make defeating them more difficult than ever before.”
While Teriney and the Queen were talking, Luna stood there listening. Just by looking at her, Luna could easily tell that the mare talking to Teriney was a Queen. The way the mare walked so gracefully was the same way that she herself had been taught when she had been training to do when she had first become a princess. In fact, the unicorn Queen reminded her of her birth mother, Queen Royal Heart of Ponyland, in how she had greeted Teriney so warmly and such. For many years, Royal Heart had been known for being different from others queens in that she treated even the lowliest servants with a sense of affection. She had even once that a true Queen treated those serve her with affection, as if they were members of her own family. Luna herself had remembered this, when she became Queen of Secret Valley.
“And who’s this?”
Upon hearing this, Luna suddenly realized that the Queen was now looking at her, a smile on her face. “I take it your Luna,” she said, examining her with amusement.
Luna nodded, and then instinctively bowed. All too late that bowing that easily would give away the fact that she was royalty- and that was a fact about herself that she just wasn’t ready to reveal to anyone. It was too late, thought.
The queen, upon seeing how she bowed so easily and gracefully, just smiled even more. “It’s all right, she said. “I know exactly who you are. You can stop trying to hide your true identity, Queen Luna of Secret Valley.”
For a moment, Luna was alarmed at being so plainly unmasked by this mare, but something told her that she shouldn’t be surprised. Being a magic user herself, she could sense if anyone else was, and this Queen certainly was. A very ancient form of magic was coming off of the mare who now stood in front of her. A form of magic that was more powerful than the one she possessed. Just feeling it left Luna in total awe, since she had never felt magic like it before. Whoever this Queen was, she was a very powerful magic user, and no doubt a skilled one at that. It was no wonder that she was able to tell who Luna really is.
“Since you know who I am,” she replied, “will you tell me who you are.”
The mare smiled. “I’m Queen Majesty.”
All at once, just the mere mention of that name struck Luna like a ton of bricks. “No, you’re not,” she said to the mare, who had just claimed to be the ruler of the ancient kingdom of Dream Valley. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
Queen Majesty smiled once again. “That’s what everyone seems to think.”
The sincerity in the older mare’s voice told Luna that Majesty was who she said she was. All she could do now, though, was just stand there and stare in amazement.
“I think,” said Teriney, speaking up, “we should sit down and talk.”
Luna turned and looked at him. “Yeah, I think so.”
More coming soon!