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Bonds


Scootaloo adjusted her goggles against the wind that pressed against her face as wings propelled her and one passenger through the air.

"Thanks for taking me to Manehattan," Sweetie Belle said.

"Don't mention it," Scootaloo replied.

They were flying fast away from Ponyville, heading northeast. Scootaloo was hoping to beat the weather. She adjusted her goggles again.

"You okay down there?"

"Yes, I'm fine," came the nervous reply.

Sweetie Belle had not been too fond of the idea of flying by harness, but Scootaloo had assured her that it was perfectly safe. However, she hadn't told Sweetie Belle the real reason that they were making this flight. Taking a friend to Manehattan to see her sister seemed like it would provide a plausible enough cover to prevent anypony from becoming suspicious. She was fortunate that Brax had approved the leave without much question. There were some advantages to being technically on medical leave.

What she hadn't been able to figure out up to this point was how to uncover any more information on the conspiracy. Scootaloo had briefly entertained the idea that Diamond Tiara might be involved, but she ultimately decided that it wasn't likely. Rotten though she was, staging a coup would be far beneath even her standards.

"Hey, Sweetie Belle.”

"What is it?"

"I wasn't allowed to tell you while we were in town, but we have to make a stop at Cloudsdale on our way.”

"Why?"

"I'm not supposed to talk about it. I have a priority message for Rainbow Dash; it's top secret," Scootaloo evaded as cryptically as she was able. It was true, in a sense. "Don't worry, we won't be there for very long, and I think the Cloudsdale Mall is still open. Maybe you can find a gift for Rarity."

"That's a great idea!" Sweetie Belle seemed excited by the change in plan.

Scootaloo was pleased with herself for misdirecting her friend so easily. This was quite the role reversal. Usually her unicorn passenger would be the one with some scheme or another that she'd be convincing everypony to go along with. Scootaloo felt herself smile until the carrot incident came to mind, which always served to create a frown.

They flew on in silence until they reached Cloudsdale. The trip took longer than normal as they started out heading northeast, directly toward Manehattan until they were out of sight. Scootaloo didn't want to take a chance on anypony knowing that they had actually gone to Cloudsdale instead. That was at least one problem she could deal with. The other problem that had been on Scootaloo's mind was that the inability to know if there were any conspirators already in Cloudsdale. It was a risk they had to take.

The CAP around the floating city intercepted the pair as they drew near and escorted them to an entry point in the magical shield. With the changelings’ ability to fly, nowhere seemed safe anymore. The new security measures in the great floating city certainly would prevent any easy incursion.

Upon landing, they were promptly separated, questioned, searched, and scanned. Scootaloo did her best to remain as pleasant as possible, and maintained that they had come here to avoid weather and stop at the mall. Her travel papers did specify Manehattan as her destination. After causing a twenty-minute delay, the guards made a weak apology for any inconvenience and allowed them to enter the city. They were kind enough to put a spell on Sweetie Belle so she didn't plummet through the clouds and fall to her death.

Passing through a section of shield that the unicorn guards opened for them, the pair entered Cloudsdale. Scootaloo was amazed at how different everything looked. The purple glow of the energy shield discolored everything, but as usual, there were thousands of cadets doing drills. They looked to be a few weeks into their training already. There were also many soldiers about the city, probably on standby, waiting for orders. The changelings would have been insane to even attempt an attack here. After pointing Sweetie Belle in the direction of the mall, Scootaloo walked to the cadet HQ where Rainbow Dash commanded. The guards stopped her at the door.

"No entry permitted," one of them said.

"Sergeant Scootaloo, requesting to see Colonel Rainbow Dash," she said stiffly.

“The colonel is no longer assigned to this office,” a gruff reply came. “Check the Wonderbolt’s barracks.”

It took a bit of searching to track down Rainbow Dash. A guard at the barracks told her to check the war room. There, she was again denied entry.

"Sergeant Scootaloo, requesting to see Colonel Rainbow Dash," she repeated her request.

One of the guards nodded to the other, which turned and disappeared into the building. Scootaloo heard the door lock behind him. She stood there, turning about to watch the pegasi cadets performing flight maneuvers. They were mere specs from where she now stood, but some of them showed real talent. Provided they could handle themselves in a fight, they were going to be valuable assets to the war effort. Scootaloo's thoughts were interrupted when the door opened again, and the guard was standing there. He motioned her to follow, and she did so.

There wasn’t much time to look around as they marched through the command center of all Equestria, but this gargantuan room reminded her of CIC back in Ponyville:  maps everywhere. The room was a great hall filled with desks on which the maps sat. At the far end was a set of steps that led to a higher level upon which a large table sat. The high vaulted ceiling made everything seem grandiose. It was fairly quiet inside the headquarters, but there were probably a hundred ponies planning out and assessing the war effort. It didn't take long to reach an office in the side of the building. It somehow seemed a lifetime since she had seen her mentor; in fact, it had been almost a month.

"Hey there, long time no see," Rainbow Dash greeted her from the opposite end of the small room. She still wore a bandage on her wings.

Several other ponies stood around a messy table, which was covered with sloppily stacked piles of papers.

"Hi, I'm sorry to barge in like this, but can I talk to you?" Scootaloo asked.

"Of course! What's on your mind, kid?" Rainbow Dash replied, cool as always.

Scootaloo looked back and forth to the other officers and said, "Well, it's kind of personal."

Putting up a hoof, Rainbow Dash said, "Say no more!" Turning to the others in the disheveled office, she said, "Give us the room. Reconvene here in an hour."

The others cleared the space, the the last one out shutting the door. Scootaloo could feel her heart pounding already in anticipation. She was relieved to have made it this far. Rainbow Dash looked a little concerned, but Scootaloo had the feeling that it was nothing compared to how she was about to feel.

“I see you’ve got a bandage too now,” Rainbow Dash observed.

“Yeah, it’s just a sprain.”

“I hear you. I get mine off tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back in the air again. So, what's going on?" the colonel asked.

"Well, it's not personal, I just had to get rid of the others," Scootaloo began.

Concern on Rainbow Dash's face transformed into curiosity.

"I have received information that there is a plot to overthrow Prince Shining Armor."

The silence in the room grew thick. They stood there, staring at each other.

"What was that?" Rainbow Dash finally asked in disbelief.

"There is going to be a coup," Scootaloo replied as her heart kept thumping loudly. "And if we don't prepare, we may not be able to stop it."

“What are you saying? Are you telling me that changelings have infiltrated our ranks?"

Scootaloo shook her head slowly. "No," she replied, her voice wavering. “Well, maybe. As far as I can tell, this is completely internal."

"Who is involved?"

"I don't know all of them. The only name I have is General Mane Crusher."

"Wow... What evidence do you have?"

"A letter was written to a civilian in Ponyville. It was from Mane Crusher's aide, a Captain Swiftlight that I have been getting to know over the past few weeks. He wrote that he had observed several things that made him believe that there was a plot in progress, and that he was going to investigate further. He also said that if he suddenly disappeared that he had probably been killed by the conspirators. He did suddenly vanish three days ago. At first they kept telling us he was on maneuvers, even though there was no indication of anything else happening in or around Ponyville. Then they finally told us that he had transferred to another unit."

"Are you sure that he wasn't transferred?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"He wrote in his letter that no force in Equestria could make him leave without saying goodbye. Also, when we asked about it, the clerk found the transfer order and showed it to us."

"So, a helpful clerk is evidence of a conspiracy?"

"Well, no, not by itself. But combined with everything else... He just seemed to be going to extra lengths to make sure we believed him."

"Show me the letter," Rainbow Dash ordered.

"I can't," Scootaloo hesitated a moment. “Sparklefly destroyed it."

Rainbow Dash shook her head.

"We were afraid of being caught with it. If they did kill Swiftlight, none of us are safe.”

"So, let me get this straight," Rainbow Dash took a step forward. "You got a note from a pony you barely know that indicates a conspiracy that he didn't know anything about. Now you can't find him, and the note was destroyed.” She paused before concluding, “You brought me nothing."

"We have to prepare," Scootaloo said, becoming alarmed.

“It’s whispers and hearsay... What would you have me do? March over to Shining Armor and tell him that there might be a conspiracy, but we really don't know anything more than that?"

Scootaloo throught it did sound rather silly when put so succinctly. If the fate of Equestria hadn't been in the balance, it might have been amusing.

"No," Scootaloo said. "I want you to take me to Shining Armor so I can tell him about General Mane Crusher myself."

Rainbow Dash regarded Scootaloo for a moment. "This is a very serious accusation. Do you understand the consequences? Do you realize that it will be your neck on the line?"

Scootaloo stood silently, her gaze falling to the floor.

"What if you are wrong?" Rainbow Dash asked. "This could be the end of your career in the EUP at the very least. I can't help you throw your life away."

Scootaloo looked into Rainbow Dash's magenta eyes and said, "What if I'm right, and we do nothing?"

Rainbow Dash walked away, slowly circling the messy table. Her head nodded and shook as she considered all of this to herself. She came around and stopped facing toward the corner where Tank, her pet tortoise, was sleeping on a pillow. The older mare sighed, but not with exasperation. It was like a caring but hopeless expression.

"For all our sakes, I hope you're wrong. But for your sake, I hope you're right. Wait here. I’ll get Shining Armor."
Bonds

Sparklefly’s mane was tickled by the breeze just before dawn as she walked side by side with her comrade and friend.

"Fly fast," deep concern was etched in Sparklefly’s face. "Manehattan is a long way, and you're due back on base in forty-eight hours."

Scootaloo nodded and gave a knowing glance. She had already donned her combat harness, but she had an extra one slung over her armored body. The sergeant walked briskly away, not looking back. Sparklefly's thoughts were consumed with the information they had gleaned from Java Chip only two days before. She knew that Scootaloo must have felt the same. Sparklefly had destroyed the message that Swiftlight had written for fear of it being discovered, and they hadn't spoken of the conspiracy since then. Finding evidence of who could be involved proved impossible through passive observation alone.

The only potential clue that Sparklefly noticed was the unexplained black eye that Captain Radiant Pyre had acquired. Not that it was suspicious of itself, but it had happened the same day that Swiftlight had gone missing. A thin coincidence at best, it wasn't nearly enough evidence to properly suspect him of anything, but Sparklefly was watching for any other signs that he might be involved. Those dark thoughts aside, the last two days had been completely routine. Applejack was settling in as the new mayor of Ponyville. Not surprisingly, the first thing she did was change the emergency farming program to avoid any further desecration of Sweet Apple Acres. She’d decided to leave what had already been done, as there were several acres of oats that had already been planted. That aside, she redirected their available resources and horsepower to developing land around Ponyville for the needed additional farming.

The sun broke the horizon, signaling the beginning of the day. The sky was golden with red clouds accenting the morning. She spent only a moment trying to remember if that meant rain was coming. The weather acting of its own accord was still a new concept, and the pegasus struggled to understand its moods.

It would be time for assembly soon, and Sparklefly began heading to wake Scootaloo's squad. Entering the tent, she found them sound asleep.

"Up, everypony!" she rang loudly. They all began scrambling off of their cots and stood at attention. "We've got assembly in ten. Move it!" she commanded.

"Sir, yes sir!" they called back in unison. Duster didn’t make eye contact, but stared ahead as he’d been trained.

Sparklefly smiled to herself as she turned to exit. Scootaloo's squad was definitely showing signs of improvement.

...

Duster coughed as he stood in formation. He felt groggy still from the night before. He must have been sleeping much deeper than he had realized. He coughed again and decided that the climate in Ponyville must have been messing up his sinuses. His muscles were sore all over from the full days of excruciating exertion he had been enduring, and he was pretty sure he had a bruise on his shoulder from knife training the previous day. He was glad that they had used wooden sticks instead of pointed blades. The coughing was about to drive him crazy. Drill Sergeant J had just finished roll call.

"I know you were looking forward to planting today, but it seems that there will be some weather heading in," Drill Sergeant J gestured to the red clouds in the east.

They did seem to be moving in rapidly.

"On account of rain, we'll be cancelling today's scheduled plans.”

“Oh, yay!” Doff quietly celebrated.

Nearly all of the cadets in formation echoed his cheer a little, but Duster was wondering whether they were actually going to get a day off. He doubted it.

Drill Sergeant J continued, "Instead, we're going to perform combat drills on the other side of the Everfree Forest. General Mane Crusher was good enough to volunteer sorties to ensure that the area is clear for us.”

Duster's heart sank. The other side of the forest likely meant they'd be running all morning just to get to the location where the drills would take place. Given the choice, planting would have been preferable.

"Commanders," the donkey bellowed, "Form up your companies in full combat armor, no weights! We move out in fifteen minutes!"

Duster's head pounded as he coughed. There was much shouting as they all sprang into action. Thunder rumbled in the distance as they went to get their gear.
Discovery


"Well, that was a long day," Scootaloo said. “But at least I got to dig a new latrine instead of filling an old one.”

“I thought for sure you’d be on the other end of it today,” Sparklefly replied.

They were sitting atop Scootaloo’s completed work. Her orange coat was saturated with sweat and dirt that had combined into something like salty mud. She was glad that she’s thought to take off her uniform so it didn't get filthy. It was also much cooler to work without it. Her muscles were all weary, but she was so accustomed to such work that she likely wouldn’t be sore.

“Yeah, Radiant Pyre got in trouble for something, so I got to dig a new one instead.”

The orange pegasus stared expectantly at silver for a moment.

“What?”

“Come on, Sparklefly! You’re an officer. Tell me what he did!”

The lieutenant snorted, “First of all, he’s my superior. They didn’t tell me anything about it. Second, he was obviously fighting.”

Scootaloo’s ears perked up as she leaned closer, “How do you know?”

“Simple, when anypony says they fell and they have a black eye, they were fighting.”

Scootaloo grinned at the gossip as she looked back at the results of her work. She let her mind wander back through the day.

"My squad seems pretty good with the crossbow," Scootaloo said. She then smiled and snorted, “I’d never admit it to them, but a few of them are already better at breaking it down than I am."

She looked up in time to see Sparklefly stop rubbing her eye patch; she decided not to mention it again. Sparklefly had seemed self-conscious about it when they talked before.

“Breaking them down is important, but it won’t matter much if they can’t shoot,” Sparklefly noted.

"Yeah, I guess we’ll find out about that tomorrow." Scootaloo dug around in her discarded combat harness and found her canteen. It was truly amazing how refreshingly wonderful even a sip of water was after hard work. She looked down on the pit she had created with complete satisfaction. "As much as I hate the labor, there is something comforting about it."

"That's not surprising; completion of a task, especially a difficult one, is found cathartic by most.” Sparklefly added, "You have created something, and done it well. It only makes sense that you'd be pleased by that in the end."

"Cathartic?" Scootaloo teased, "I thought you grew up on a farm. Where'd you hear cathartic?"

Sparklefly grinned back at her, "I did used to read a lot."

Scootaloo nodded, "That explains it."

In the silence that followed, Scootaloo’s mind went back to Cloud Blazer. Trying to quickly think of anything to get her mind off of that situation, she asked, “How are your wings?”

Sparklefly regarded her bandages and shrugged, “They still tell me, ‘about a week.’ I’m going to have to learn to fly all over again at this rate. It’s a small matter, considering...”

Hearing a noise, both of them turned to see a guard approaching. Java Chip was walking with him.

"Sirs," the guard said, "This civilian asked to see you and was granted permission. She is not allowed on base without an escort."

"Thank you," Sparklefly replied. "We'll take it from here. Return to your post."

They exchanged salutes and the guard walked back the way he had come.

"Hi Java, what-" Scootaloo began.

Java Chip interrupted in a hushed and frantic tone, ”They've killed him." She seemed incredibly upset and began looking around to make certain no other ponies were nearby.

"What?" Scootaloo was confused and instantly put on edge, unsure how concerned she should be.

"Killed who?" Sparklefly asked the pair stood.

Java Chip was shaking, and tears began flowing from her hazel eyes. "Swiftlight," she said quietly with a quiver in her voice, "They've killed Swiftlight."

Sparklefly looked around casually, and then said, “Both of you, into that ditch, now."

The three of them climbed down into the new latrine that Scootaloo had been digging all afternoon. The scent of freshly disturbed earth and clay was all around them.

"What are you talking about?" Scootaloo asked. "Who killed Swiftlight? There hasn't been an attack."

Java Chip held out a piece of paper. Sparklefly unfolded it and started to read.

The distraught mare added, “I found that this afternoon. I closed early after this morning, and I finally had time to do a proper cleaning... I’ve been so busy with the election that I hadn’t got around to it... I swept that out from under the counter and picked it up off the floor. It must have fallen down there...”

"By Celestia..." Sparklefly said as she lowered the note. “This was dated three days ago. What happened next?"

"Well, I wasn't sure what to think, but I was worried. Swiftlight can be a real jerk, but he doesn't really do pranks. I went to the castle and asked where he was, and they told me that he'd been transferred to another unit. They said he had left this morning and he wouldn't be back." She began sobbing harder now.

Sparklefly gave the note to Scootaloo before embracing Java, “That’s okay, let it out.”

Scootaloo read, 'Dear Java Chip, Whatever you do, don't let anypony see you reading this. You were the only one I knew for certain I could trust. I have discovered something very disturbing. I have reason to believe that there is a plot to overthrow Prince Shining Armor. I don't know who all is involved yet, but I'm certain that General Mane Crusher and some of his officers are part of it. I'm going to try to infiltrate the conspirators and get more information, so I won't be around much. I don't want to draw any attention to you that might get you hurt. No matter what anypony else tells you, I will not leave Ponyville without saying goodbye. If I suddenly disappear, and there is some excuse as to my whereabouts, then I have been found out. That would mean I'm probably dead. If this happens, trust nopony. Just keep your head down and do what you have to do to survive. Destroy this note, and let's hope I'm just being paranoid. Ever yours, Swiftlight’.

Scootaloo sat down as this information began to sink in. A plot to overthrow Shining Amor... EUP officers involved... It just didn't make any sense.

"Do you think it's the changelings?" Scootaloo asked.

"No," Sparklefly replied thoughtfully. "They wouldn't have killed Swiftlight. If changelings were in control of the military forces in Ponyville, they would have simply replaced him. If he has been," Sparklefly hesitated. Java Chip continued crying. "If he has been murdered, then this is a pony conspiracy; we're looking at a coup."

Thunder rumbled distantly. The three were quiet in the bottom of the ditch. Scootaloo just couldn't believe it.

"But why?" she finally broke the silence.

Sparklefly shook her head, "Lust for power, maybe? Who knows. With the princesses out of the way, it might be possible."

Scootaloo shuddered at the thought. She felt more afraid than she had in a long time. "So, what do we do about it?"

"Let me think a minute," Sparklefly replied.

Fear spun into anger, "I don't know if you've noticed, but time is kind of against us just now."

Sparklefly put her hooves up, "Patience. Swiftlight got too close to this and he's probably dead. We have to be extremely careful."

Scootaloo calmed herself with the knowledge that her friend was absolutely correct. She paced back and forth a little in the cramped hole in which they were hiding.

"We do have an advantage," Sparklefly said after a minute or so. "If anypony had thought that Swiftlight had contacted Java Chip, she'd probably be dead by now. That means they have no reason to suspect that we have any knowledge of the conspiracy.”

Scootaloo nodded, "So we have the element of surprise. The problem is, we don't know who all is involved. How do we form ranks against an enemy of unknown strength and disposition?"

Sparklefly tilted her head and considered this, unconsciously rubbing her eye patch again. Scootaloo noticed that she frequently did this while deep in thought.

"Whatever happens, we cannot trust anypony with anything we've talked about down here,” Sparklefly said. “It's just too dangerous for them and for us. That maybe how they caught Swiftlight.”

"Agreed," Scootaloo replied. "We tell nopony about any of this without a good reason. Are you up for that?"

Java Chip nodded. She had cried out for now, but her face was still wet with tears.

"Now, we just need to find a way to get a message to somepony we can trust. We need somepony that has access to Prince Shining Armor," Sparklefly said.

"Normally I'd talk to Twilight Sparkle," Scootaloo said with a shudder. She was still grieved to not know what had happened to the princess. "What about Rainbow Dash? She's still in Cloudsdale preparing for her next assignment.”

Sparklefly nodded, "Yes, she could probably get an audience with him. Are you certain we can trust her?"

Scootaloo gave a look that caused a sheepish grin from Sparklefly before saying, "Yes, she would never betray anypony. We can trust her."

"That's settled; now all we need is a pretext of some kind to get a message to her. I think mailing anything would be far too dangerous," Sparklefly said. "For all we know they've got ponies screening all communications by now... I would if I were them.”

They sat in thoughtful silence. Scootaloo turned over possibilities in her mind, but they were slow in coming. More thunder rumbled overhead, and the first light drops of rain began drizzling down. By the look of them, the other two weren't coming up with anything credible either. A shiver shot through Scootaloo, and the fog cleared from her mind as perfect solution struck her.

"Guys," she said suddenly, "I have an idea!"
Discovery


Duster coughed. His muscles burned all over, his legs felt like jelly, and his head was pounding. His company was doing crossbow training. He had thought that it might be fun; as it turned out, they weren't actually firing them. They were learning to completely tear them apart and put them back together. As much of a disappointment as it was, he was grateful that they were permitted to do this sitting down. He wasn't sure if he could have made it standing the rest of the day. Doff had actually fainted during their previous exercises, twice. They brought a medic each time, and sent him to the infirmary after the second. Locknload seemed incredibly capable with the disassembly of the weapon. He'd have the entire thing stripped apart and then put back together in a matter of minutes. Moonsliver was equally adept at the mechanical workings of the device. Duster had trouble figuring it out.

"Hey guys," Gunnysack whispered. "I heard that new armor is being forged back home in the Crystal Empire. My sources tell me it can withstand magical attacks."

"Don't believe everything you hear," Locknload said, not taking his eyes off of his third disassembly. "There's no such thing."

"I just hope the armor doesn't cause too much drag and slow down my flight speed," Rolling Thunder said. "I'd rather be faster and take my chances."

Locknload just shook his head. Duster listened quietly and then made another attempt to get his crossbow together. They had walked him through it one time already, but he seemed to have a spare clamp. He just couldn't figure out where it was supposed to go. He caught his sergeant looking at him.

"That one goes in like this," Sergeant Scootaloo said. "See? Once it is in place, it can slide over, allowing the bow to fold." She collapsed her bow, and then opened it up again, sliding the clamp into place with a click. "See here? Now it's locked. It won't collapse unless you press the release here." Another click and the bow spring folded in two. Pushing the release again now that it was folded, Scootaloo was able to remove the clamp.

It was just beginning to make sense. Duster tried to execute the instruction and did manage to get it together, but the clamp popped off when he tried to lock it open. Jewel laughed at him as he got down on the floor and searched for it. They were supposed to be able to go from the folded position into ready to fire within ten seconds, but at this rate it would take Duster closer to a minute. This teardown and rebuild business was another matter entirely. He coughed again as he continued his attempt to assemble the crossbow.
Discovery


Entering the cave as quietly as possible, Cloud Blazer could already feel fear tingling down his spine. He just knew that there was going to be something hideous waiting for him; he could feel it.

"Good morning, kids!" a cheerful voice broke the silence.

Cloud Blazer turned to see Mr. Cake standing before the counter from Sugar Cube Corner.

"Carrot cupcakes today?"

"You know it!" a young Scootaloo said.

"Thank you, kindly," Apple Bloom chimed in.

"With sprinkles!" Sweetie Belle added.

"Me too!" Cloud Blazer begged. He felt like a giddy colt.

"Coming right up," Mr. Cake replied. "You'll need to keep your strength up."

"Why's that?" Scootaloo asked.

"Full moon tonight," Mr. Cake said.

The light from the moon poured into the shop through the open door, and Cloud Blazer felt strangely drawn to it. Gazing up at the moon, he had the strangest feeling that there was something he was supposed to do.

"Are you ready?" a voice said from beside Cloud Blazer.

He turned and saw a pegasus mare that he didn't know. She was teal with golden eyes. Her mane and tail were blonde or golden; it was difficult to tell by moonlight. She spread her wings, revealing a cutie mark that looked like a movie camera. She was tall and of a strong build.

"I'm ready," Cloud Blazer replied, "but I don't know the way."

"I will take you, but you'll have to lead me," she said.

Had he been awake, Cloud Blazer might have been confused by this. As he was dreaming, it didn't bother him in the slightest. They took flight together, leaving Ponyville behind. They continued on and on, but they didn't seem to actually get anywhere.

"I'm tired of this game!" Scootaloo whined.

"Oh, but I was just starting to have fun," Sweetie Belle squeaked.

Cloud Blazer found himself in the Cutie Mark Crusader's clubhouse.

"It's no fair; you always get to be the pretty princess!" Scootaloo complained.

"I do not!" Sweetie Belle countered.

"Yeah, no offense, but you kinda do," Apple Bloom agreed.

"Well, I called it," Sweetie Belle pouted.

Cloud Blazer sighed, "This is boring!"

They sat quietly for a moment, and then Sweetie Belle leapt onto the table.

"What about a new game," she said in an ominous tone. "What if there were no princesses."

"What kind of a game is that?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Like they've all been caught in a powerful spell, and we have to work together to rescue them!" she continued in the same voice.

"How are we supposed to do that?" Scootaloo asked, drawing closer.

"Nopony knows," Sweetie Belle continued mysteriously, "but we'll need the most powerful magic that there is!"

The three sat captivated by Sweetie Belle's imagination for a moment.

A loud bang outside caused all four to scream with fright. The door to their clubhouse was being beaten in.

"What is it?" Apple Bloom asked.

Scootaloo and Cloud Blazer dashed to the window to see timberwolves swarming all over, and they were at the door. When he turned around, the crusaders were gone, and instead Scootaloo's squad from the Everfree Forest was there, all except Princess Twilight. The door began splintering as the timberwolves pounded away at it.

"Form up at the door!" Scootaloo ordered, and they did so.

"I've got the window," Regal Masquerade said.

Within moments the wooden door shattered, and the timberwolves began ripping through the ponies. They fought hard, but in moments Cloud Blazer was the only one left. He found himself cowering in the corner, completely surrounded. The timberwolves began to laugh at him. The deafening roar was more than he could bear. He sank down, as small as he could, but they just came close, and laughed even harder. Cloud Blazer wanted to die with his friends, but the beasts wouldn't attack him anymore.

"You can't stay here!" a voice shouted at Cloud Blazer. When he looked up, it was the teal pegasus with golden eyes again. "Get up and come through the window, quickly!”

Cloud Blazer looked back at the timberwolves; they were still laughing. The mare kicked him in the ribs.

"We have to go, now!" she barked before she turned and jumped through the window.

He followed her, leaping out and taking flight. She was getting farther away, and as he sped above the tree line after her, a timberwolf leapt up and bit his leg. The stallion cried out in pain and crashed into the orchard.

Cloud Blazer awoke at the same moment of his sudden stop. This caused disorientation, and he thrashed around a moment. Pain shot from his injuries as he settled down. His heart was racing and he had soaked the bedclothes with sweat. It always took him a few minutes to recover after those kind of dreams. He began to settle down, and the fear was soon replaced by deep sorrow as he remembered the situation with Scootaloo.

"Are you okay?" a strangely familiar voice asked.

Cloud Blazer turned to see that the curtain that divided the room was open, and there was a new patient in the other bed. Her head was bandaged across her eyes, and both of her hind legs were wrapped. She was a pegasus, but Cloud Blazer's heart nearly stopped when he saw that she was teal with the same golden mane and tail, just like from his dream. They were cropped short, EUP style.

"Are you there?"

"Yes, I'm fine. Sorry," Cloud Blazer finally replied.

"Were you dreaming? You sounded so upset."

“Just a nightmare."

"Oh. I get those too, sometimes...” she replied.

"My name is Cloud Blazer."

"I'm Pixyglitter; nice to meet you," she replied mechanically.

"Have we met before? You seem familiar.”

She laid her head flat on the bed, "Cloud Blazer... I don't think so. Have you been to Manehattan?"

"No, why do you ask?"

"That's where I’m from.”

"I see," he replied.

His new neighbor didn't say anything else, and he wasn't sure what further to talk to her about. It would probably not come out right if he told her he'd been dreaming about her. He decided to keep that to himself for now. Surely it had been a coincidence that she had appeared in his dream. In any case, his mind went back to more lugubrious things. Scootaloo’s words dominated his mind and crushed his spirit. He laid down, quietly soaking his pillow with fresh tears.

deviantID

Jatheus
Remember...
United States
Current Residence: Home
Favourite genre of music: Soundtracks & Classical
Operating System: I'll let you know if I find one that actually operates!
Shell of choice: the candy coating M&M shell of course!
Favourite cartoon character: I don't know anymore... so many to choose from... In any case, Rainbow Dash is 20% cooler than all the others.
Interests
Wp 20160923 001 by Jatheus
Oh my gosh, OH my Gosh, Oh MY Gosh, OH MY GOSH!!!!!

Look at!!! Look at her!!! :D It's Sparklefly!!! :love: :heart:

Made by my talented and lovely :iconthecrochetdragon: (she'll custom make these by commission. Basic pony starts at $150. One like this is $160 on account of the wings taking a lot of extra time. Note her for more information.)

I am going to cuddle this sooooo much! :D Don't judge me! :P

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:iconzacorasfollower:
zacorasfollower Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2016
thanks for the :+fav:
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:iconjatheus:
Jatheus Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2016
You earned it! :D
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:iconunbridledmuse:
unbridledmuse Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the :+fav: on Rocky Seashore! :tighthug:
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:iconjatheus:
Jatheus Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2016
You earned it! :)
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:iconunbridledmuse:
unbridledmuse Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
:aww: you're so sweet! :hug:
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:iconrrainbow22:
rrainbow22 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Ty For The Fav ^^
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:iconjohesy:
Johesy Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hope you have a fantastic birthday dude! :cake: :cake: :D
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:iconjatheus:
Jatheus Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016
Thank you very much, Johesy! :D
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:iconandoanimalia:
AndoAnimalia Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday Jatheus!!! birthday cake Happy Birthday Godliek :D :happy birthday: MenInASuitcase  pinky pie party canon emoticon Pinkie Pie Party Canon icon Pinkie-pie-Party You are a talented author and a great friend. May you have an awesome time. :D Happy Labor Day too!
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:iconjatheus:
Jatheus Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016
Thank you so much! :D

haha, nice party cannon! :P
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