A New Breed: Chapter 11

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By TCPolecat7
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Chapter 11


            "This cannot be good."

            Dust and debris drifted down about the speaker, standing in the remains of the monument. Stars shone down through an unscheduled skylight, reflecting off the partially melted stone. Destruction radiated outwards from this newly created alicorn; the statues that had surrounded her were now vaporized, only leaving the scorched pedestals and the newly tarnished plaques to tell of the lives and deaths of "The Six" (plus a small dragon). Beyond, nearly every statue in the hall had been decapitated and partially melted from the backlash of energies that exploded from the cyan unicorn. Only the Obelisk remained undamaged, solemnly bearing the names of the departed upon it's surface.

            "Wh-what happened?" Clockwork asked, voicing what every pony present wondered.

            "Apotheosis," Celestia answered softly.

            "Apotha-what?" Ultrapony asked.

            "Apotheosis. The act of turning a mortal pony into a God."

            "Why?" Galaxi asked from her vigil over the fallen Princess Luna.

            "W-what is going on to…" Tome started, when screeches filled the world around them.

            "More Imps!! We've got… more then I can count!" Clockwork shouted, her sensors almost overloaded by red as new targets threatened to overload her sensors.

            "Tome, to me!" Celestia ordered, and the cyan alicorn nodded swiftly, but before she could so much as take a step the Imps attacked en masse.

            Words were said, but lost, in those moments of battle. Every individual felt as if they were on their own, cut off from each other, the darkness of night accented by the sudden swirls of Imps clouding around them.

            Crowded down over the prone Luna, Galaxi was more intent than ever on defending the unconscious and weakened Princess. Purple shields sprang to life and formed a dome over her and her mother figure. A rage like none the mare had never experienced before clutched at her, guiding her telekinetics in new ways. Clenching her teeth, she closed her eyes and expanded her shield, the surface mottling as it became uneven. Galaxi then gestured in the air, and spikes lanced out from the shield in response, spearing any imp that dared to venture too close.

            Though the darkness surrounded her, Flourish slit her eyes and a smile crept unbidden to her lips. A rush of power bubbled through her, and her eyes saw far more then she should. Reflexes that belied description took hold of her with a rush of euphoria, and she became one with the pink clouds that surrounded her. "Never let them predict you and keep them guessing" was the creed she lived by. With lightning fast thrusts from her rapier-horn she lashed out in seemingly all directions, vanishing and reappearing at a whim. Rather then fend off the cloud, she became one with it, tearing it apart from the inside.

            Ultrapony was nothing if not eager for the dust-up. Tome had somehow defended against his power, and his anger had been simmering just below the surface since this entire farce began. He needed to unleash, and fate had handed him an abundance of targets. With a grin so fierce his jaw popped, he lanced out his hooves, connecting with imp after imp as he punched, bucked, and spun through the cloud surrounding him. He bit at one of the Imps, taking sadistic satisfaction at the feel of its spine shattering. The Imps would be the outlet for his anger and frustration, and for that they had his gratitude, which he repaid with their swift deaths.

            The roar of her plasma ejectors filled Clockwork's ears with a syphony of mechanical precision. The Dragonfly armour responded perfectly as targeting sensors locked on the closest Imps, mechanized weapon systems sending bolt after bolt of superheated plasma through them. Yet for every Imp downed it there seemed to be a dozen more, and the power drain was slowly becoming problematic. Her wings slammed back, crushing a clever Imp between them who had thought to blindside her, making her thankful for the full three-sixty degree scanning she had installed. She frowned in the helmet, they were learning her weaknesses from all this, and she needed to change the rules of this game. A flick of a hoof changed the firing mode of her ejectors, and with a wing assisted pirouette, she strafed the entire group with a pair of burning lines of death.

            Celestia had refused to react in the first moments, making the Imps wonder exactly what she was going to do, which was the point. The Princess abruptly swept her wings wide, tracing a line of celestial fire in the air around her, driving the Imps back another foot. That would give her the time she needed, and she stomped her fore-hoof on the stone beneath her. The Imps rushed forward, sensing an attack. They were only half right, as stone arched up behind them, forming a half globe about Alicorn and Imp alike. As the first of the Imps reached her, Celestia only whispered an apology, and the dome of rock filled with the fiery heat of the sun itself.

            The newly created alicorn could only watch in abject confusion at the swirling cloud of Imps about her, unable to understand where they all came from. But she knew one thing, "You did this to me!" she screamed at them. She could see the destroyed statues of "The Six" through the gaps, the darkness unable to hide their desecrated monuments from her eyes. A cold fury washed over her as she realized they had forced her, they had USED her, to do this! A piercing white glow formed upon her horn, and a single beam cut through multiple Imps in a wave before her. Back and forth she traced the beam, screaming wordlessly at them, the pain and fury of her voice almost as damaging as the beam that ripped through the Imps… almost.

            Ultrapony was the first to break through the cloud about him, his eyes landing on Tome with a burning hatred. Celestia was a moment behind him, the rocky dome falling away, leaving only the scorched ground and ashes in her wake.

            "I'm getting overwhelmed here…" Clockwork called, and returned her firing patterns to normal for the group harrying her. It was diffused now and actively dodging her attacks, their claws renting at her armour as she was steadily battered by the overwhelming numbers. A giggle answered her call, and Flourish appeared by her side, bisecting an Imp. The duo began to work together far more effectively then they had on their own, with Dragonfly peppering the Imps with a constant stream of shots from her plasma ejectors, and Flourish ending any that got in too close with her horn-rapier. Finally the cloud began to thin out.

            The blind mare Galaxi was further blinded by rage, but exhaustion was apparent on her features, and her power was starting to wane. She was near collapse when Clockwork spotted her. No words were needed as Dragonfly and Flourish moved to cover their teammate, beginning to clear the air about their teammate and the younger Princess with a deadly focus.

            Ultrapony and Celestia found themselves stymied as they tried to approach Tome. Each of them trying to push forward from their position, but the Imps threw themselves at the pair in waves just to slow them. The Imps cared little for their own lives it seemed as wave after wave of them appeared from nowhere, as if the city of Canterlot held more Imps then it did Ponies. Celestia had just begun to wonder if perhaps the Nightmare had not opened a portal nearby to channel this constant wave of fodder into her hooves. Unfortunately her answer came all too quickly as a new scream erupted from Tome, drowning her rage and fury in cold fear.

            "No," Celestia whispered in horror.

            Astride the cyan alicorn's back was a far larger then normal sized Imp. Easily twice the size of normal, and graced with a wingspan that threatened to block out the night sky. Silvery-blue metal armour adorned its body between star-lanced skin, adding an air of importance and power to the figure. The body was more slender then the usual imp, almost feminine, as baleful moon-colored eyes glared at the assembled ponies from under the rridge of her helm. The spiral horn that jutted mockingly from the fore of this helm told everypony who this creature was.

            The Nightmare herself had come to Canterlot.

            "She's MINE now!!" the newcomer shrieked, and grasped one hand on Tome's horn, using it to forcibly steer the alicorn to face Celestia. Tome struggled futilely against the grip, her hooves scraping the stones beneath her as pained tears painted her face.

            "Free her this instant," Celestia answered darkly, "or you will answer to me."

            "No… No I don't think so," The nightmarish Imp cackled, and her hand on Tome's horn began to glow, "This one is mine now, and so are your precious Elements. You won't be able to banish me without these baubles, will you?" Tome's eyes rolled back with fear, struggling desperately to pull away from her captor, but the Imp easily held her as the magic from her hand seeped through the former unicorn's body. A bridle of shadows began to form about her head, the bit sinking deeply into her mouth. No matter how hard Tome tried to shake it free, it clung and wrapped her head firmly, settling in place with a terrifing weight. Nightmare grasped the reigns, and yanked cruelly to pull Tome's head to one side, laughing at the pained shriek from the new alicorn.

            A body of white launched at the pair, intent on knocking the Imp off the alicorn, and perhaps to hurt the alicorn too. But Ultrapony, for all his vaunted strength, never touched the Nightmare. His body hurtled at the pair, but a magic unlike he'd ever seen enveloped them, reducing them to a dark mist he flew right through.

            "TOME!!" Clockwork cried at the vanishing duo.

            A sudden shockwave of energy punctuated the disappearance, sending everypony rocking back on their hooves, destroying any imps that still remained. Then, just like that, they were alone.

            Silence. It felt like hours since any pony had heard silence that thick. Rest assured that Canterlot was hardly silent, and the approach of the Royal Guard and other emergency services could easily be heard, but after the cacophony of screams and the din of battle, it was almost blissfully quiet.

            "What… what just happened?" Flourish asked. Her usual smile muted as she limped over to Celestia. A large claw-gash on her back left would need treatment soon, lest it become infected. Clockwork didn't feel much better, but she knew the Imps hadn't gotten through her armour. Still, it would take a lot of repair before the systems were back up at optimal levels. Galaxi was exhausted, draped over the unconscious Princess Luna, tears streaking her face. Celestia was covered from head to hoof in ashes that stained and smeared her pristine white coat, even as her mane and tail returned to their usual multi-hued colors, but a deep sense of sadness all but radiated from her.

            Only Ultrapony seemed unwilling to let the battle conclude, or to admit the loss they had been handed. His body was covered in smudges and grime and ichor from his own part of the battle, but he was furiously stomping his hooves into the ground at the point Tome and Nightmare had vanished from.

            "COME BACK AND FIGHT!!!" he screamed , and slammed another hoof into the floor where they had disappeared.

            "They are gone," Celestia said evenly, only to be answered with another pound of the hoof as Ultrapony ignored her.

            "Ultrapony, now is not the time," Clockwork threw in, "Princess Luna is injured, we need to…"

            "SHUT UP!!" Ultrapony screamed, "You do not tell me what to do!!" Clockwork recoiled visibly, then slowly turned to face the pegasus.

            "Or what?" she asked him, a cold sense of clarity washing over her, "There's more important things to do right now."

            Clockwork never saw it coming, the streak from Ultrapony's position was the only sign that he'd even moved, and his hoof met the center point of her armour. Clockwork heard the cries of Flourish and Celestia the moment it landed, but she was too far away to make out the words, the single attack having launched her far into the air. Clockwork oddly noticed how clear the sky was this night before the form of Ultrapony blotted it out, another hoof connecting with her chest as he drove her downward.

            System warnings screamed for attention, shield overload and power alarms blaring in her ears, but that cold sensation clung to her. Her mind was oddly focused, able to see him diving at her again, chasing her down.

            "Fine, you want this… come get it," she hissed, and swung her fore-hooves forward, firing them together into the descending Ultrapony. He was knocked from his flight path and missed Clockwork entirely, giving the mare a brief respite to collect herself. Energy wings fluttered to arrest her plummet, hovering in mid-air as she looked around, unable to see him. Fortunately her HUD did, and she was able to turn to meet him, firing her plasma ejector right into his face.

            "This is what you always wanted, isn't it?!" he screamed at her, ducking around another plasma bolt, "You did everything you could to undermine me!!"

            "I haven't had to do a damned thing. You screwed up all by yourself," She answered, firing off a volley of three bolts, two he dodged, but the third caught him across the chest, further smudging his coat. Clockwork realized all she was doing was pissing him off further, but he wanted a brawl, and she was more then happy to oblige.

            "LIAR!" he screamed at her, and powered through a plasma bolt to slam another hoof into her chest before falling back. She tumbled in the air briefly, and realized she was having some difficulty breathing, leaving her to wonder if he had collapsed the armoured chest-piece.

            "I haven't had to say a word," she coughed, but couldn't hide the contempt in her voice, "But you just keep blaming someone else for your screw ups, like some idiot foal. It's never Ultrapony's fault. It's not his fault he abandoned his team. It's not his fault he's ignored Celestia's instructions mid-battle. It's not his fault that he attacked his own teammate… TWICE. It's not his fault he hit some poor girl and broke her ribs. It's never his fault, it must be someone else's fault… It must be my fault. Screw you. Everypony else may fall for your 'poor me' routine, but I don't. I know your secret... You're just some mewling little colt hiding in the body of a stallion, never able to take responsibility for what he does. Always the hero, and only a victim whenever it goes wrong."

            "Shut up," he growled, his voice deadly quiet.

            "Or what, you'll hit me again? Oh wait, it's MY fault that I somehow got in the way of your hoof…"

            Ultrapony's scream cut her off as he dove at Clockwork, ignoring her plasma fire to tackle her in mid-air. The pair plummeted towards the ground like an out of control meteor, all too quickly approaching the momument they had just exited. Thankfully their landing was clear of the swarming emergency services, as a new crater was created with their impact. Alarms screamed in Clockwork's ears, structural integrity failing in multiple places, warnings of potential injuries beneath the suit. She'd have to remember to thank Mai for that, it's always nice to know when someone has crushed your ribs, or potentially pierced a lung. Her breath came in painful rasps as she looked up at him, sitting astride of her armour, and to her surprise his face was streaked with tears.

            A hoof pounded on her chest and drove the breath from her, leaving her gasping desperately for air. Another hit her shoulder, and would have resulted in a scream had she the breath to do so. Another blow landed, and another, but they were dull background percussion to her ears. Clockwork was somehow beyond pain, either too much flooding her body, or Mai had hidden an emergency drug mechanism in the armour when she wasn't looking. She decided she'd have to ask later, if she survived this.

            "You've tried to destroy me every chance to got!!" he screamed at her, his hooves gripping the neck of her armour to pull her forwards him, her left leg hanging awkwardly to one side, "You tried to get me banned for trying to seduce you when you were but some silly foal!! You tried to RUIN me!! Then you have the gall to show up HERE, embarrass me in front of the Princess, and expect me not to blame you?!? It's YOUR! CELESTIA-DAMN!! FAULT!!!"

            Suddenly his voice dipped, sharp and dangerous, "I'm going to make sure you never bother me again."

            His hoof reared back, she could see it clearly against the night sky, a white lightning bolt against the darkness. It hovered there threateningly, and yet she somehow smiled under the helmet, a trickle of frothy blood dribbling down her chin.

            "Sounds good to me," she managed to wheeze, and lipped a switch in the helmet. To the shock of Ultrapony, and all around, the jaw of the dragon-like helm opened with a sharp metallic sound, revealing a very special Plasma Emitter Clockwork had placed there. This was Clockwork's answer to the lightning bolt about to strike her… and the night sky was lit up with the blue-white fire of the Dragonfly.

            Clockwork had to blink the spots from her eyes after the attack, half expecting Ultrapony to still be sitting on her chest, but to her relief he was nowhere to be seen. She wanted to sit up, to make sure he was down, but a fierce exhaustion gripped at her. Her body was wracked by a series of wheezing coughs, before finally the darkness of unconsciousness gripped her with powerful claws and dragged her under.


            Princess Luna twisted her neck to look, and immediately regretted the motion, wincing as the newly healed wounds pulled painfully. Unicorn healing was good, but it would be weeks before her injuries stopped bothering her. Taking more care this time, she spotted Galaxi standing to one side of the hall, all but lost in the deep shadows cast about the royal palace.

            "No need to skulk in the shadows, Galaxi," Luna said with a smile.

            "S-sorry," the mare answered, shyly separating herself from the shadows to join the younger Goddess.

            "You've recovered well."

            "I was barely touched in the fight," Galaxi answered sheepishly, "I was just exhausted."

            "You slept for two days straight," Luna said gently, then leaned down to nuzzle the smaller mare, "I'm proud of you Galaxi."

            "T-thank you, Princess," the mare answered distractedly. It didn't take a psychic to know what was on her mind.

            "You're worried about her," Luna said, and Galaxi nodded mutely. Luna could only sigh, "I know it wasn't Clockwork's fault, but we can't exactly sweep the brawl between her and Ultrapony under the rug, can we? Half of Canterlot saw it. There will have to be some consequence to her actions."

            "She's… it's ironic," Galaxi responded softly, "I scanned her memories for the truth of the fight, as you requested. She reprimanded Ultrapony for his inability to take responsibility for his actions, and now she's having to shoulder a responsibility that isn't really hers."

            "Oh? Whose fault is it then that Ultrapony spent two days in the hospital?"

            Galaxi blinked, "She hurt him that badly?"

            Luna nodded, then regretted the motion, and winced before continuing, "Yes, she did. Clockwork wasn't a passive victim of that battle. She may have been in the right, but she still has to accept responsibility for her role in the combat."

            "But… what will happen to her?" Galaxi asked softly.

            "My sister wants her services when she's healed up enough to travel."

            "Princess Celestia? What for, if I may ask?"

            "Ambassador," Luna chuckled, "Seems she made a very good impression on the Crusaders when you all were in the Northern Reaches, and she DID offer to show them how to operate the scanning units."

            "I'm not sure she'd be satisfied with that role," Galaxi said softly, "Not after tasting life as Dragonfly."

            "I think poor Dragonfly had her wings broken," Luna answered sadly, "That suit of hers won't fly again."

            "You're going to replace her?"

            "Galaxi… exactly how many members of my team are left?"

            The blind mare blinked slightly and began to count, "I… er… Only two of us."

            "Correct," Luna sighed, "You and Flourish. Ironjaw will never return to active service in the Agency. Ultrapony fled as soon as he was able, rather then speak to me. Tome was taken by Nightmare Moon after her betrayal…"

            "You know that's not right!" Galaxi cried, then looked abashed at the sudden attention from one of the maids shuffling by.

            "No, it's not. But until we find a better explanation…"

            Luna never finished her statement when a pink cloud poofed into existence right before her, an excited looking Flourish piling out of it, "Galaxi! I found… eep!"

            Luna smiled as Flourish practically did a back-flip away from her straight into a bow, "You may rise, Flourish, I'm curious what you found."

            Flourish looked uncertainly to Galaxi for a moment, who only nodded in response, and the grey mare reached back into her saddlebag. After a moment she dug out an item wrapped in a heavy cloth, which she unfolded to reveal a glowing green gem.

            "W-where did you find this?!?" Luna demanded.

            "It was in Tome's room, under her dresser. Galaxi asked me to check to see if we could find any clues about what happened to her."

            Galaxi frowned as she looked over it, lifting it with her telekinesis, "This is a brain-worm gem, isn't it?"

            "Correct. It was smart of Flourish to use a cloth to carry it," Luna said softly, lines of worry creasing her face.

            "I didn't, at first," Flourish admitted, "But when I tried to pull it out initially it only flashed me in the face and kept whispering to me about 'testing' the Elements of Harmony display, and some confusing magic stuff I couldn't make heads or tails of. Maybe if I studied more magic I would have, but that was never my talent. Anyway, once I got it out, I wrapped it up so it would just shut up. Thankfully it worked."

            "A brain-worm gem that whispers to you? That doesn't make sense…" Luna began.

            "…unless somepony was implanting an idea in Tome's head!" Galaxi finished, and was met by the wide eyed stare of her mentor.

            "Now we know why Tome was there," Flourish pointed out, "But what's the craziness at the end?"

            "One way to find out," Luna noted, and ignoring the surprised cry of Galaxi, and touched her horn to the gem. Being a Princess, she was far too powerful for a normal Brain-worm gem to work on her, but she was surprised by the seductive sensation that crept through her mind. For a moment, she found herself held in place, only able to receive the relatively short message in the gem. Then suddenly, she fell back on her flank, her eyes wide.

            "P-princess?" Galaxi asked worriedly.

            "I know what happened now," she whispered, her voice husky with fear.

            Her form stalked along the halls of the palace, her motions oddly graceful, a gift from the feline half of her heritage. Tawny fur covered that half of her, legs flexing with powerful muscles, and a tufted tail that bobbed along behind her. She shuffled her wings slightly, adjusting them along her back, their tawny feathers almost lost against her furry hindquarters. The shift from the tawny fur to the white feathers of her front half was rather dramatic and sudden. No fade or shift from one to the other, just straight from soft fur to downy feathers.

            Her front legs were equally different in structure, feathers only extending down to the "elbow" and yellow scales that ended in a fierce and sharp claw. She kept her talons sharp, but was careful not to score the marble floors of the palace, it wouldn't do for her status as a guest, plus showing off her strength would only get her punished. Her head twisted slightly, eyes adjusting as she looked at a golden statue of an Alicorn, her blue eyes drinking it in from over her sharpened beak. She kept her feathered crest swept back and out of her eyes, unlike a lot of other griffons, which gave her head an oddly sleek appearance. It didn't matter that the feathers seemed to curl upwards slightly at the tips, giving her a mildly "cute" touch, she still preferred keeping them back like that. It kept them out of her eyes if or when she had to fight.

            "Filigree!" someone yelled, more demanded, her name. With a sigh she turned her head, looking back over her shoulder at the approaching griffon. She honestly didn't care if he was a Prince or not, the fledgling was a spoiled brat. He was fat for a gryphon, having never had to hunt or fight a day in his life, and his gray feathers were carefully coiffed and styled so not a single feather was out of place. Idly she wondered if he could even fly on his own wings?

            "Where do you think you're wandering off to?!?" he demanded, out of breath from the short dash to catch up to her. It didn't matter that she could reach out and end his life any one of a number of ways; his father was powerful, and had leverage over where her family roosted.

            "You gave your servants their leisure," she stated, "So I took my leisure."

            "I gave THEM leisure!" he yelled at her, but she refused to even so much as even ruffle her feathers at the outburst, "That does NOT include a freak like you!"

            "Then what sort of freak would it include, my liege?" she asked carefully, knowing exactly the right button to push to further infuriate him without loosing the veneer of respect she was forced to give him.

            "NO FREAK!!" he screamed loud enough to turn heads down the hallway, badly startling the ponies nearby.

            "Is everything alright here?" a effusive voice asked. The gryphoness began to turn when the Prince's claw grabbed her beak and forced her head down. She was strong enough to have ignored it, but acquiesced and let him force her head to the marble floor between her claws, where she could see the golden hooves of one of the Princesses. Celestia, she assumed, as she had been told the younger sister preferred blues and silvers.

            "Everything is fine Princess, perfectly fine," the Prince ruffled, preening before her.

            "Is that why you have your subordinate's face pushed to the floor?" Filigree wished she could have seen the look on the Prince's face as he slowly pried his claws off her beak. She stayed like that, however, until bidden to rise. Thankfully the Princess picked up on that, or perhaps she was familiar with the more strict caste system the Gryphons had compared to the relatively free and open society the ponies enjoyed.

            "You may rise… Filigree was it?" Celestia asked, and the gryphoness sat up properly, giving a short nod as she let herself drink in the Sun Princess' form for the first time. Filigree never thought she was all that beautiful a gryphon, but she knew she had a nice flank and could turn the occasional head. But never before had Filigree ever felt truly plain. The Princess was awe inspiring, with a white coat and wings that reminded her of fresh fallen snow in the Aeries. The gold accessories she had heard of, and always assumed were symbols of her status, she realized were but humble offerings from her ponies in a vain attempt to match her beauty. With a mane and tail that streaked with multiple colors that swayed even in the still air of the Palace, Filigree felt insignificant compared to her.

            "P-please forgive my… servant's indiscretion," the Prince noted, all but begging for her attention. Yet somehow the Princess' gaze never left her, at once gentle and assessing.

            "You're a 'Special', aren't you?" the Princess asked, and Filigree blinked widely, showing surprise for the first time. She glanced to the Prince, who drew a claw across his neck, telling her to keep her beak shut…

            "That depends, Princess," she answered, her voice slightly raspy, and ignored the Prince as he covered his face. She was sure to be lashed for daring to speak to this pony, who was obviously far above her caste, "How do you define 'special'?"

            The Princess seemed almost surprised by the question, but her smile didn't waver, in fact it seemed to sadden slightly, "By special, I mean powers beyond those considered 'normal' for your kind."

            "Ah, princess, I'm sure you don't wish to talk…" the Prince tried, and found himself cut off by a sharp look from the Princess.

            "Then you're correct, Princess," Filigree answered softly, "I am cursed."

            "Cursed? I would hardly consider you such," the Princess said simply, her smile warming again, "Prince Silverthorn? We will discuss your terms when we meet later today. For now, I would like to borrow your 'servant'." Filigree couldn't help but notice how her mouth twisted with distaste at the word.

            "I… But…" the Prince stammered before he caught himself, then finally bowed low, "As you wish, Princess." He carefully backed away in the bow, as was customary for their kind, but the look he shot Filigree from under the fall of his crest promised her a very unpleasant trip home.

            "What abilities do you have, Filigree?" the Princess asked the moment the Prince was out of sight, even if the gryphoness doubted he was out of earshot.

            "If the Princess wishes it, I can show her," she said, her head slightly bowed.

            "I would like that."

            That surprised Filigree, but she nodded, it had been so long since she'd been able to release the mental hold on her power. Thankfully the Prince had opted to remove the outward signs of her servitude, as the shackles and collar would have made it impossible to unleash without a great deal of discomfort, a magic he'd had woven into them when she slipped two summers ago. Taking a handful of steps away from the Princess, not wishing to hurt her, Filigree flexed her wings to their fullest extent. Gryphon wings were always a good bit bigger then pegasus wings, possibly due to their larger bodies, but it always confused Filigree how pegasai could fly on those tiny wings.

            Unaware she was gaining an audience of curious ponies, the gryphon let out a sigh as the power flowed down her body, and flaring out along her wings. To all present, it looked almost as if someone poured liquid metal over her wings, starting at the joint and flowing out to the tips. Brown feathers turned to silver, and glinted in the light of the room.

            "Is that all you can do?" the Princess asked, her head tipped in genuine curiosity.

            Filigree dipped her head slightly to the Princess, "Anything else would require a target."

            "Will this do?" she asked, and near the wall an illusion formed one of those accursed… creatures from the stars. She had never seen one personally, but knew much about them. An entire Aerie was wiped out due to their assaults and attacks, and one entire clan was nearly eliminated. Filigree channeled that anger and flexed her wings towards the target. The motion seemed almost casual, but the edge of her wings sliced through the illusion. Unfortunately she misjudged how close the wall was behind the illusion, and the serrated edge her feathers made cut a pair of deep furrows in the pristine white marble. The Princess seemed quite pleased with the display, spending a moment to investigate exactly how deep the furrows went.

            Filigree sucked in a trembling breath, realizing her error as she quickly banished the metal wings, shuddering at the painful sensation of forcing the metal away. She was sure to be punished, and lowered her eyes to the floor, and was further horrified to notice her claws had dug into the tiled floor. Carefully she extracted a claw, and swallowed visibly, the gouges seemed huge to her.

            "Fascinating. You seem incredibly strong as well," the Princess stated casually, "Filigree, I believe you should meet my sister."

            "Y-you mean the redeemed… Princess Luna?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly.

            Princess Celestia smiled warmly and nodded, "Yes. I think you would be perfect for a… project of hers. I will discuss with your Prince the terms of your… 'service' being transferred to Princess Luna and myself. For now, Filigree, do me a favor?"

            "Yes Princess?"

            "Do try to relax," the Princess answered softly, giving the gryphon a wink before she began to walk away. The Gryphon could only stare for a long moment before spurring herself to rush after her, hope surging in her heart. Such a transfer would look very good for the Prince, remove her from under his claws, and maybe even boost her family out of the lower caste!

            For the first time in a long time, Filigree felt good cause to smile.

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- Polecat
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Kimonoskunk's avatar
Ahhh Happy Birthday Polecat hon....

I never expected to see you here, writing stories as good as your artworks.

I loved this story so far, and will keep reading.

TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I appreciate the thought, even if you're a month late on the Birthday thing.

And yeah, the MLP thing sunk it's hooks into me, and I'm off and running. Glad you're enjoying it tho. :)

- Polecat
Nova225's avatar
>"You did everything you could to undermine me!!"
-He's clearly insane, so... How was he accepted in the team again ? Don't they have psychology tests or anything ?

>"I know it wasn't Clockwork's fault, but we can't exactly sweep the brawl between her and Ultrapony under the rug
-He wha huh who ? Wait what !? Do they forgot that Ultrapony is the mentally-unstable psychopath here ?

>"Oh? Whose fault is it then that Ultrapony spent two days in the hospital?"
-HE TRIED TO KILL HER ! Are they stupid or ?

> "No, it's not. But until we find a better explanation…"
-''We will assume the worst.'' ...yes, they are stupid. That or they seriously hurt their head.

... Filligree, huh ? So, they can have any races in their team, BUT! they MUST not be males for some godforsaken reason ? Is that right ? ...
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nope. Ultrapony isn't completely insane, but he does have a twisted perception of reality. In his mind, it's all about him.

As for being removed from the group, yes that's gotten a lot of controversy, as I expected it would. Pure and simple tho, she was in the right, but that still benches her for an extended period... a period of time they don't feel they have. I handle it a bit more next chapter. However they are hardly insane. Different logic than you, but not insane.

And that's what it seems, doesn't it? But then, Equestria itself seems very female biased in general, maybe there's a reason for that? I dunno, but it seems tome they must be doing SOMETHING right.

- Polecat
TheBahamaLlama's avatar
If you dont mind me asking (correct me if im asking in the wrong place) but how often are chapters being released? about 4 friends and I follow this and are just curious when to check for them, Thanks
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I try to release them one a week, usually on Tuesday mornings.

- Polecat
SummerPwny's avatar
interesting turn is interesting!
i really like that you keep it almost "random" with the twists and turns, i honestly have no idea what's going to happen, and im loving it.
maybe these two chapters were a little "gloomy" or mostly the second one.. but nevertheless im so looking forward to read more.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you. I honestly had most of this planned out (at least in my head) but the characters sometimes tug in their own directions for various things. I am glad you're enjoying it.

And yeah, these chapters were slightly darker, but that generally happens when you loose... and the team got handed a big ol' loss there. ;)

- Polecat
SummerPwny's avatar
please do continue to allow the characters to sometimes tug in their own directions. i really love the way you can't predict anything. it makes it that much more thrilling to find out that there's a new chapter out.

as "vVKaptainVv" stated "Minus the whole "dead Twilight" part" im still sad about the mane 6 too, especially when you portrayed Twilight so amazingly.
would i be hoping in vain to read more about "Twilight, The mistress of Magic"? even if it's just a flashback from Clockwork or something?

but i think i forgot to tell you about how i loved the part with the "Crusaders" it's nice to see some familiar faces and hearing them talk about the mane 6, im such a sucker for reading about their legendary status. i do hope i get to read more things like that.

yet again, Love this story, it's grown on me tremendously.

keep up the amazing work!
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well I'm glad they have that level of unexpectedness to them. Hopefully future chapters will be able to live up to that. :D

Yeah, I know a lot of people aren't happy with the way I handled the "Mane 6" (Including another commenter who constantly derides the way Rainbow Dash bought it), but as I said in the comments of EqD, there's NO death that's worthy of a hero. Death is always an inglorious thing, and it's better to remember one's life then one's death. As for more of Twilight & company...

Let's just say that you'll see more of the Crusaders in a future chapter. I won't give away what or how, but given your comments there, you'll be in for a treat when they do. ;)

I am so glad you're enjoying it. :)

- Polecat
SummerPwny's avatar
i might not be happy with the mane 6 but i woudnt have wanted it any other way in this story.

im to tired to be trying to post a serious comment but im looking forward to the next chapter and im pretty sure whatever you choose to throw at us it will turn out Epic.

time to stop harassing your comment section untill the next chapter!
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
But but... I LIKE comments.

- Polecat
SummerPwny's avatar
then hurry and give us the next chapter and i'll be spamming your comment section once again :D
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*LOL* You have to wait like everypony else for Tuesday. ;)

- Polecat
vVKaptainVv's avatar
Well, while Clockwork's punishment does seem unfair, I see where you're coming from. Yin and Yang and all that "balance" tripe. Clockwork is tied for my favourite OC pony right now (LilttlePip of FO:E being the other favourite) so I was happy to see her get a shot in at Ultrapony. Strangely, I'm already missing the self-absorbed pegasus.
As for Trixie's abduction/manipulation... So sad. Nightmare obviously won't be kind to her, and if she is it's going to be with sinister intent. So sad right now.

BUT ONWARD! Sadness or not I love this story! (Minus the whole "dead Twilight" part, but hey, it's OC, no? Favourite pony had to give up the stage sooner or later.)
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
More will be explained about Clockwork over time, and her reaction to things. Next chapter will tackle that one head on. :) As for "favorite OC", LittlePip is damn good company for Clockwork to be keeping. Kkat has been knocking the "Fallout: Equestria" story out of the park.

Aye, Tome/Trixie's manipulation and abduction a dark spot on things. And given how badly the team was beaten, it might be a little while before they can stage a rescue, ne?

Thank you. But yes, that was why the Mane 6 are dead at this point. Because this isn't a story about them, but about the ponies who are trying to fill their shoes (And mighty big shoes they are to fill, ya? )

- Polecat
heartsvenom's avatar
Yay Ultrapony is gone, and yet i sense a betrayal soon to happen.... A griffon, that will be a nice addition to the story... very few actually give griffons an important part of the story....assuming that filigree will be joining the team. Looking forward to your next "addition" to the story =D
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah, I like Gryphons myself, always have. Gilda was a punk, but she brought one of my favorite fantasy species into the world of MLP, so I see no good reason NOT to use one. ;)

Plus the personality I gave her makes her just damned fun to write.

- Polecat
psysci's avatar
psysciHobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, i´m really hating Ultrapony now. The worst thing is that Luna is acting like it was Clockworks fault! Was she expected to just lie there and get herself killed!?
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Luna did not act like it was Clockwork's fault, only stating she had an active role in the battle. I ran afoul of those sorts of rules in school all the time, and my father (a police officer) would have to arrest many a person who were "defending themselves" in a fight. Point blank, legally, you are as much to blame for throwing the second punch as you are for throwing the first. I disagree with it, but it's still there.

- Polecat
Levia-the-Dragon's avatar
And FIligree is the only ray of sunshine to come out of that big old cloud... well at least they know Tome isn't intentionally a traitor, and hopefully she can be freed... really not a good time for Ultra to finally loose it, but punishing Clockwork seems a bit silly...
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks, I enjoy writing Filigree. No, Tome is not intentionally a traitor, but let us say that she'll be out of sight for a while. Ultra lost it, yes. I expected some folks not to understand what I did there, but being the kid of a Police officer means I understand that in the eyes of the law, the person who throws the second punch is as guilty as the person who threw the first. Short and sweet, she still took part in the brawl, thus bears some (not the majority) of the blame. Tho if Ultrapony hadn't fled, he'd probably have gone to jail, where-as all Clockwork had happen to her was a removal from the team (and all her medical expenses covered).

- Polecat
Levia-the-Dragon's avatar
I guess... but still, when you're fighting for your life against a psychotic...
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Next chapter addresses it a little more fully as well, as well as Clockwork's feelings on this.

- Polecat
anonymous's avatar
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