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A New Breed: Chapter 7

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By TCPolecat7   |   
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Chapter 7


"Confrontation"




            "You couldn't resist, could you?" the dark alicorn asked, her horn glowing softly. On the field, about a hundred or so yards from her, a mechanized pony darted about in the air. Blue-white bolts lanced from her hoof-tips to rip through the illusions seemingly intent on doing her harm.


            The white alicorn chuckled from the doorway behind her sister, "No, I could not."


            "If you hadn't, I would have done it myself," the younger sister answered, her eyes remained focused on the field as the green and gold armour of the flying pony flashed in the midday sun. For over a week, Dragonfly had been spending her mornings like this, in a constant barrage of practice against illusions the Night Princess summoned for her.


            "I know, but I felt responsible. I did get her into this," the elder sister answered, and moved from the shadowed doorway to sit beside her younger sister, "She is a good pony, stronger then she admits to herself."


            "Cute trick making it sound like her own voice," the younger teased, "You even have Galaxi convinced it was some part of her consciousness that spurred her into action."


            "Good. She deserves that boost in self-confidence."


            "Still manipulating things from the background, 'Trollestia'?" the younger sister giggled.


            "I do have an image to maintain," the elder answered, doing her best to look officious, "What better way to appear that you know more then you should then by making sure you have arranged the events ahead of time?"


            "I always wondered how hoofs-on you were with 'The Six'."


            "Now, now, that would spoil the wonder of their achievements," Celesatia answered with a broad wink.


            Luna was silent for several moments, watching the figure of Dragonfly manage a mid-air stall and fire downward through several Imp illusions, "She's getting better very quickly. Even if she doesn't stay on the team, she could be a top agent all on her own, perhaps even surpassing her late brother."


            "Assuming that she stays within the Agency."


            "You think she would join the ranks of the Unregistered?" Luna asked, surprised.


            "No, but they may attempt to recruit her, were she demoted from the team. I do not think I would stop her either, they could use somepony of her technical know-how."


            "That's something I will have to think on," Luna sighed softly, "Are they still causing trouble in the northern reaches?"


            "Their representative was a tough negotiator, but they have agreed to protect our northern flank in exchange for supplies and trade."


            "If I had to guess, it's supplies we wanted them to have," Luna chuckled, "You were always good at that, Celly."


            "It was in our mutual self-interest they be able to detect Imp incursions," Celestia responded with mock indignation.


            "It really is too bad about the Crusaders. With two of them being related to 'The Six' by blood, they could have been such powerful allies," Luna sighed.


            "They were too fiercely independent, especially the pegasus," Celestia said softly, "You and I both knew they would only felt stifled in your Agency. Allowing them to stay independent and negotiating with them as equals bolsters their sense of freedom while still ensuring they do what we need."


            "I know, I know. Make them think it was their choice," Luna sighed softly, "I'm sorry, I'm better at being cryptic and mysterious then I am at getting other ponies to do what I want them to."


            Celestia wing-hugged her little sister, "That's why we are a team, we each have our strengths and weaknesses." Luna smiled softly and leaned closer to her elder sister, watching in silence as the armoured figure in the distance unleashed another volley of blasts at yet another wave of illusionary Imps.







            Clockwork barely made it to the table with her lunch before she collapsed onto her flank, her head resting on the table as she groaned. Even so, she managed to nibble at the edge of her violet & dandelion sandwich, her tongue swiping up stray petals when they fell to the plate.


            "The Princess wore out our poor Clockwork again?" the unicorn sitting nearby asked as she hovered her drink up for a dainty sip.


            "If I answer yes, will it get me out of our afternoon session?" the khaki mare asked in a pitiful voice.


            "Tome highly doubts you could convince our 'mighty leader' of your need." The unicorn chuckled softly before wrinkling up her nose, "However, Tome thinks you might do well with a chance to wash up."


            "That bad?" Clockwork chuckled, "She really put me through the wringer today."


            "The Princess would only do that if she felt you could live up to that potential," a new voice interjected, and Galaxi hovered her tray over to the table, sitting down herself.


            "Tome agrees. She has seen you practice, Clockwork, you have come a long way in just a week!"


            "I appreciate that," Clockwork said with a wan smile, "But I'm still nervous what my first 'live' battle will look like."


            "You'll do fine," Galaxi said, and patted Clockwork's shoulder before taking a bite of her tomato and lettuce sandwich.


            Clockwork forced herself to sit up, sore muscles protesting, and took a sip of her apple juice, "I hope so."


            "That is what training is all about," Tome pointed out.


            "Cheer up!" a new voice cried out happily, and a sweet cloud of pink heralded the newcomer at the table, "You will have Flourish in battle with you ladies!"


            "Uh… Thanks? It's just another practice session," Clockwork pointed out.


            "But of course, but you must treat every practice as though it were the real thing!" Flourish continued, heedless of the dark glare from Tome.


            "Considering how 'seriously' you took last practice, I'm not sure that's much comfort," Galaxi noted softly, forcing Clockwork to stifle a laugh.


            "I never said take it seriously, I said treat it as if it were the real thing." Flourish offered with a broad wink, and just like that, was gone in another burst of smoke.


            "Humph! Tome thinks our flighty pony could use a large dose of seriousness," the unicorn grumbled.


            "I'm starting to think that's just her way," Clockwork said softly.


            "Tome just thinks she's too uppity for her own good."


            "Give her a chance, Tome," Galaxi offered with a smile, "Isn't that what it takes sometimes?"


            Tome seemed to consider that as she took a final sip of her drink and sighed, "Tome thinks perhaps you may be correct. Tome admits she sometimes jumps to conclusions, as she did about you both when she first met you."


            Clockwork grinned, "I remember."


            Tome blushed, but hid it as she swept a hoof through her mane in a practiced motion, then began to shoo Clockwork, "Regardless, you need to wash up. Begone, oh smelly one!"


            Clockwork laughed at the unicorn's melodramatics and pushed her way back up to her hooves, slowly plodding her way out. Tome cracked a smile when the mare left and gave Galaxi a playful wink.


            "Thank Celestia," a new voice added, "I thought we'd never get that stench out of here."


            Tome didn't have to look to know that voice. When she first arrived on the team, the unicorn had felt the powerful pegasus would be the ideal pony to befriend. But as time went on, the needs of his ego overwhelmed her capacity to tolerate, and his cruel sense of humor taxed even her sharp tongue. That was a feat Tome would have thought impossible before she met Ultrapony.


            "Tome thinks we have traded one stench for another," she stated, her tone cutting, "Perhaps you have heard of these new inventions called 'breath mints'?"


            Ultrapony's eyes narrowed at the insult, "What's got your tail in a knot? You started out as the only decent pony in this group, and now you're trying to cut me down?"


            "Tome has come to understand something," the unicorn said as she got to her hooves, tugging her hat on and swirling her cape with a long practiced motion, "Tome has come to understand that first impressions are not always correct. What looked to be a waifish introvert of a mare is perhaps the most intelligent of us all. What looked to be a strange mare with missing pupils is truly a gentle soul in need of some pony contact. She has also learned that the one who seems the most powerful physically, is the weakest between the ears."


            "So now you have a problem with me too?" Ultrapony asked, his voice deadly soft as he set his sandwich down.


            "Tome has no problems with Ultrapony," Tome answered with a smile that bordered on a sneer, "Ultrapony has plenty of his own problems without Tome's assistance." The moment the words were past her lips, Tome could feel the tension in the room increase as surely as if someone had clamped a vice on it. Ultrapony's stare was so intense, Tome wondered for a moment if he could set a pony on fire from it. The unicorn did not allow herself to back down from egotistical pegasus, meeting his eyes evenly and calmly. The mare had lived long enough to know the type, how to handle it, and how to move past it. She had adopted the name "Tome" to escape her own failures of the ego, and some ponies still sneered at the name she was born with, thanks to the explosive ego of her youth.


            The approach of two ponies diffused the tension abruptly, as the loud Ironjaw made his way in to get some lunch, joking with the teleporting Flourish. In a way, Tome was glad Flourish found a friend in the large (if slightly dim) metal pony. She still bristled at the showpony's methods, and was glad to be making her own friends for once without a "spoiler" taxing her self control. Galaxi was a sponge, so eager for each new story of a world as of yet beyond her reach that Tome found herself almost compelled to regale her with tale after tale. Clockwork disbelieved, Tome could see it in her eyes, but the small mare seemed to enjoy her vocal presence nearby to counter her own introverted tendencies.


            However, Ultrapony demanded her attention at the moment. The pegasus approached her, the tension broken from the inadvertent intrusion, his nose almost touching hers.


            "I don't know what your problem is," he growled, "but you'll want to stay on my good side." To punctuate his threat, he slammed a hoof on a nearby table, folding it in half like before trotting away.


            Tome sighed, "Unthinking brutes are all the same," she chided at his back, knowing he wasn't listening. Her horn glowed a soft light as it enveloped the table he ruined, and carefully undid the creases in the metal. It was hardly good as new, but would suffice until some-pony had the chance to replace it. She paused to pat the startled looking Galaxi on the shoulder, nodded to the silent and stunned Ironjaw and Flourish, and proceeded to head out herself. She had to pick up her spare cape and hat from the cleaners… not to mention a surprise she had preordered from a store in Canterlot.







            Clockwork could feel the tension when the group assembled on the practice field once more. She wasn't sure what caused it, but there was a small tingle of electricity that she felt even inside the armour. It put her teeth on edge, and worse, she could see its affect on the others. Tome was pretending to be engrossed in her book, but her eyes kept flicking up over the others assembled. Galaxi paced near the armoured pony, the tension so clear on her face it was impossible to miss, but asking had only gotten a gentle shake of the filly's head. Ironjaw seemed alright to the casual observer, but Clockwork had known the big metal pony for many years, and could see the constant flexing of the muscles along his jaw. Even Flourish seemed oddly subdued, for once not teleporting about the group like a mad-mare. Then of course there was Ultrapony, who was a constant source of tension for the armoured mare even before today, but his glare seemed particularly acidic at the moment.


            Clockwork was glad her expression was hidden behind the helm of her armour, as she was concerned for the first time about the team as a whole. Until now, she had always assumed they would gel together in time, that they would each find their niche and the rough edges would smooth out. Now there was a division there, a gulf she wasn't entirely sure could be crossed. Worse, she wasn't sure who, if anypony, was at fault. She instinctively wanted to blame Ultrapony, but she had to admit to herself that she was biased against him, and he against her.


            "Good afternoon, everypony," The Princess' voice called as she trotted lightly across the field. If she noticed the tension at all, she refused to acknowledge it as she reached the group and flashed one of her brightest smiles. "Is everypony ready for this afternoon's session?"


            Luna frowned when nopony answered, "That was a question ponies, you could humour me at least."


            "Yes ma'am." "Ready." "Ya." "Hmmmm… sure!" "Tome is, of course, ready."


            "All systems green," Clockwork added to the mix.


            "Much better," Luna smiled brightly, "Now then, we've had some opportunities to try some small group practices. But with everypony now up and running at full, or at least as close as possible, I think it's time to see how well you coordinate naturally in a simulation. You've been living with each other for over a month now, excepting Flourish of course, and now it's time to try working as a team beyond just a combat exercise. I expect it to be rough today, but this should show me where we will need to focus in the future. Now then, the setting…"


            Luna turned, spreading a wing down the field as her horn flashed a silvery color. To everypony's surprise, the landscape around them began to shift, turning from the warm green field outside Canterlot to a dusty desert-like setting.


            "Tome recognizes this area," the unicorn smiled, "This would be the scrublands near Appleloosa."


            "Very good Tome," Luna answered, and Clockwork couldn't help but be shocked. Had she actually BEEN to Appleloosa as she claimed? That wasn't possible… was it?


            "What's the mission?" Ultrapony asked tersely.


            "Simple," Luna answered, and nodded her horn towards a low mountain range, "There are reports of a star-fall impact in that range. You and your team have been sent to investigate."


            "How far can we push your illusion, Princess?" Clockwork asked.


            Luna just smiled broadly, "My little ponies, even Ultrapony couldn't break the protective field around this illusory testing ground. You may use the full extent of your powers, and if there is any reason to be concerned, I will contact you."


            Luna then paused to look over each one of the ponies, "Your mission begins… now." The moment Luna intoned the last word, all present gasped as she seemed to fade into nothing, vanishing from sight completely.


            "Right," Ultrapony intoned, immediately taking charge, "Flourish, scout ahead. Clockwork…"


            "Dragonfly, we're supposed to use call-signs," Clockwork corrected.


            "…Just get your metal flank in the air and start scanning. I don't want to be ambushed."


            Clockwork didn't argue, and triggered the wings of her armour and lifted off, bringing herself to a good fifty feet above the group as she increased the power to her sensors. She expected Galaxi would establish a network between their minds shortly, so she could report in then. Oddly she found herself wondering if Ultrapony had any military experience.


            The armoured pony turned about in a slow circle as her scanners went to work, impressed by the fact even her sensors couldn't pierce Luna's illusion. All she saw were the scrublands that Luna had crafted about them, orange rock and sand with only the rare brown or green of a hardy plant that somehow survived in the heat. The reported star-fall was towards a low mountain in the near distance with craggy ravines carved along the sides, likely the closer side of it or it wouldn't have been seen at all. The area was littered with natural hiding places that would make her sensors useless, except for relatively close range. Idly she toyed with the idea of a sort of launchable drone she could use for high altitude surveillance while she waited for Galaxi to contact her.


            "Dragonfly, anything?" Galaxi asked in her head, right on cue.


            "Sensors show rocks, rocks, and more rocks," she answered, "I show a clear path to the landing sight, but keep on your hooves. If they've hidden well, they could be using the terrain to avoid my sensor sweeps."


            "Passing it on," Galaxi answered.


            Clockwork flared her wings slightly, and watched the group start to move forward in a diamond shape. Ultrapony was at the front, the "horn". Ironjaw and Tome were on the flanks, known collectively as the "wings", and Galaxi brought up the rear or "tail". Clockwork dropped her altitude slightly to start moving with the group, filling the "cloud" position.


            "He wants to know what you're doing?" Galaxi asked.


            "Standard five pony group, the flyer needs to stay at about 20 feet to protect the group from low flying ambushes," she answered, "Standard Agency tactics."


            "He says get your flank back up higher," Galaxi responded with what amounted to a mental shrug.


            "Galaxi, are you able to set up a full mental network? It would save you from having to relay orders back and forth like that," Clockwork asked, hovering back up to fifty feet.


            "Oh! I… er…"


            "It's alright Galaxi," Clockwork chuckled, "Just think of the headsets the Agency usually uses. It'll make it easier, and save some difficulty for you. It's near impossible to relay commands like that, especially in a firefight."


            "Working on it…" Galaxi answered.


            "You just NOW thought of this?!?" Ultrapony was demanding when it came up.


            "I… I…" Galaxi stammered.


            "Easy there," Clockwork slid in, "Galaxi's not used to doing group coordination." Clockwork could almost hear the breath being sucked in as Ultrapony prepared a retort, but thankfully it was cut-off as Flourish chimed in.


            "Found 'em!" she chirped happily, "Looks like we've got a good swarm. Almost tripped over them, they're dug down but good."


            "How many?" Ultrapony demanded.


            "Too many for me to count without being seen."


            "HOW MANY?!?"


            "I'm not in the Royal Guard now, am I?" the pony joked, "I make ten… twenty… thirty… more. Excuse me, I am going to retreat now, I've been spotted."


            "Not until you tell me how many we're facing!" Ultrapony ordered.


            "Self preservation first," Flourish answered cooly.


            "Coward," Ultrapony all but seethed as Clockwork could see him leap into the air, leaving the group behind.


            "Wait! It could be an ambush!!" Clockwork cried out. Ultrapony didn't answer, and the armoured pony frowned deeply at his accelerating form.


            "Um… ?" somepony asked, confused. Flourish rejoined the group about then, and old habits swept over Clockwork.


            "Okay, form up, I'm coming down. Flourish, you're on the horn. Ironjaw, Tome, cover the wings. Galaxi, you're on the tail, watch our six. I'll take the cloud position…" Clockwork instructed, flaring her wings to drop her altitude and settle herself in position over the remaining group.


            "What about Ultrapony?" Ironjaw asked.


            "We'll have to hope he's as tough as he claims," Clockwork shrugged, "Nice and slow, stick together. Flourish, no teleporting, but set the pace." The gray pony began to trot forward, her unadorned grey coat making her well suited for stealth and scouting runs. Idly Clockwork wondered why Ultrapony flew off the handle like that, it's not like the group could chase after him, as only Flourish and herself would have a hope to keep up.


            "Is it just Tome, or is this a little too quiet?" the mage asked softly.


            "It's too quiet," Clockwork confirmed, "I'm not getting any activity from where Ultra flew off to, which isn't right. I should be seeing a huge brawl, or something. Any ideas Galaxi?"


            "Me?" Galaxi squeaked, surprised, "Um… I suppose they could be shielding him from us. I don't feel his mental connection to the group. Not sure if he cut it off, or it was cut off."


            "Tome, your thoughts?"


            "Tome is not sure," the mage noted, "He may be cut off and THINK he's alone."


            "Alright, assume they're expecting you… er us," Clockwork blushed, slipping slightly, "Ironjaw, Tome, spread the wings a bit. Let's assume we're walking into an ambush. We don't want to be bunched all together if it is."


            "I have contact," Flourish said, her voice/thoughts dropping to almost a whisper, "I don't think they see us yet."


            "They will in a second, I'm hardly subtle," Clockwork noted, "Flourish, see if you can disperse them. Ironjaw, set up to rush them the moment Flourish hits. Tome, pick off any that try to get into the air."


            "Tome recommends you do that as well?"


            Clockwork winced, "Sorry, so used to coordinating from afar I keep forgetting I'm sitting right here," she answered sheepishly.


            "You'll get the hang of it, ya?" Ironjaw chuckled.


            "Thanks," the mare answered, "Right, Flourish? On your mark."


            "Well then…" Flourish answered with a low chuckle, "Let's start this party… NOW!"


            Everything happened at once, startling Clockwork with the suddenness of it. It's one thing to sit in a control center, surrounded by radars and half a dozen other ponies coordinating their own teams from afar, and it's something completely different to be in the thick of things.


            Flourish vanished in a puff of pink smoke, her horn already blazing as she landed right in the middle of the group she'd seen, sending the Imps scattering every which way. Clockwork managed to count roughly ten of them as she shifted back, the plasma ejectors on her hooves roaring as she fired at the ones launching into the air. She heard Ironjaw bellow somewhere and charge in as well, barreling into the combat.


            "We have more guests," Tome noted, a spell from her lancing out and through a pair of Imps.


            "I see them," Galaxi answered, "They're coming up on our left."


            "Dragonfly?" Tome prodded lightly, and Clockwork literally stopped in mid-air to look over the situation, her eyes sweeping over her scanners. Unfortunately this also meant that she stopped firing as well….


            "That did not mean stop, Little Key!" Ironjaw yelped as several flyers made it into the air while she was distracted. Fortunately Flourish was faster, and with a few well placed teleports, made quick work of them.


            "S-sorry!!" Clockwork managed, "Ironjaw, Flourish, see if you can pull the remainder back towards the group, we're going to need you, they're coming up on our left flank quickly. Galaxi, time to shine. Set up a telekinetic shield to protect yourself and Tome, hopefully Tome can cast through it, if not… we'll improvise."


            Clockwork swung her armour about and watched the retreating Ironjaw, and fired a line of shots just behind the handful of Imps, herding them forward with him as Flourish harried them from the sides. The teleporting mare took out any stragglers, even as Clockwork kept them grounded, but the mare could only watch as more and more blips arrived on her HUD.


            "This one's a big group! I think Ultrapony kicked the hornet's nest!" Clockwork managed, and keyed her jets as a pair of imps dove at her. She let the wash of her jets take them out as she started strafing the incoming numbers.


            "My shield… won't hold …" Galaxi cried.


            A explosion of some sort from under the flying mare caught her attention, and Imps flew everywhere, a number of them not under their own power. Galaxi was a wreck, partially collapsed as Tome wove together spells as quickly as she could to keep the press of Imps back. Ironjaw was cut off by sheer numbers, the initial group having been reinforced by this second group, and Flourish was doing her best to help him out.


            Clockwork fired a line of blasts at the ground to give Tome some room to breathe, but had to move quickly, her own jets keying as she was forced into a dogfight with at least 5 Imps herself. Clockwork managed to take down two of them before a third knocked her from the air, sending her spiraling out of control and into the rocky ground where the Imps could swarm her. A blaze of pink motion dug her out in short order, as Flourish danced around them enough for Clockwork to get her hooves up and the plasma ejectors firing again.


            "Thanks Flourish," Clockwork called, staying on the ground for the moment. She swung her hooves around just over head level of the assembled ponies, creating a line of death to force the Imps to the ground again. Ironjaw took advantage of this, and barreled through as many of the grounded imps as possible. Flourish vanished in another puff of smoke as a spell lanced past the armoured pony and into another Imp.


            "They are starting to run low, ya?" Ironjaw shouted over the din.


            "I'll keep them grounded!" Flourish cried eagerly, and teleported around to take out any that made it clear of Clockwork's plasma blasts to actually reach the open sky. One last Imp screamed as it fell, and the world turned startlingly quiet in the wake of the frenetic battle, leaving the ponies to look around warily.


            "Tome, check on Galaxi," Clockwork instructed, "I'm going to head up and see if I can spot any additional on a sensor sweep." The armoured mare launched herself up a good twenty feet, her scanners brought online and her wings flared, absorbing some of the weak sunlight to replenish her reserves. The battle took a toll on her power levels, but not enough to be overly concerned about yet.


            "Tome thinks Galaxi will be alright," the unicorn answered, "She was caught in the backlash of her failing shield. She's on her feet now, if a little unsteady."


            "Roger that," Clockwork answered, "Flourish, where was the fallen star?"


            "We're close," she answered, "Just over the ridge there." Clockwork glanced the indicated direction, then pointed her sensors that way.


            "Okay, let's get moving. Sooner we reach it, the sooner we can ensure the Imps are dead," she instructed tiredly, "Ironjaw, you're on point this time. Flourish, Tome, take the wings. Galaxi, you're back on the tail."


            "You want to be closer then Cloud position, ya?" Ironjaw suggested.


            "Negative. The mane position is too low, the backwash would risk hurting you," Clockwork pointed out, as the "mane" position was generally just over and behind the horn by about 10 feet. It works well for a pegasus or "special" flyer, but not so much for power armour, "Ironjaw, set the pace. With luck we'll find out what happened to Ultrapony."


            The moment those words were past her lips, a loud "CRACK" could be heard from up ahead. The group could literally see half of a spherical rock, the fallen star they were looking for, launch itself into the air and crash into the side of a mountain.


            "If Tome had to guess, that would be the wayward teammate now," she offered.


            Ironjaw crested the ridge as Ultrapony hurled the other half of the celestial object out of the crater. He was surrounded by roughly two dozen Imp bodies, all of which were strewn about lifelessly.


            "About time you showed up," Ultrapony sneered, "Had to wash your manes or something?"


            "You abandoned us." Galaxi pointed out.


            "I EXPECTED you to follow me!" Ultrapony shouted, making Galaxi recoil.


            "You do have to tell us that," Clockwork said, lowering herself to the ground between Ultrapony and Galaxi.


            "I'm the leader of this group," Ultrapony all but seethed, "I EXPECT you to be able to keep up! That means I lead, you follow!"


            "And exactly how do you expect that? We only have two fliers, you and I. Flourish might keep up teleporting, but that's it. Ironjaw's slow but powerful, Galaxi is a ground unit and our central communication point, and Tome is capable, but has more important spells to spend her magic on then trying to keep up you."


            "That's your problem."


            "No, it's YOUR problem," Clockwork almost shouted back, "If you're the leader, that means you have to LEAD, not rush off and abandon the team!"


            Ultrapony moved faster then Clockwork would have thought possible, standing almost nose to nose with her armoured helm in an instant, "Is that so? Or is it because you wanted to take over when I expected you to follow? The fact you started giving orders didn't escape my notice," he growled softly.


            "I'm a coordinator, it's what I…"


            "It's what you USED to do!!" he bellowed, "You follow ME now, which means you don't so much as breathe unless I say so!!"


            "Screw you."


            "What?"


            "You heard me," Clockwork answered, her voice deadly soft, "Screw you. Sideways. With the Princess' horn. You don't have a damn clue what you're doing, and you just proved it. I'm no battle leader, but I did a damn sight better then abandoning them like you did. You are no leader, you're just a stuck up pony with a ego larger then Celestia's sun."


            "I'm your leader…" Ultrapony hissed, his face turning red with fury, "…and if you don't like that…"


            "You'll what? Yell at me some more?"


            "No."


            There was something about his voice that caused Clockwork to flinch. It was fortunate that she did, because his hoof crashed into the front of her helmet with such force that all the shields on her armour lit up like fireworks. Clockwork's eyes widened as she saw the power levels shoot into the critical, and she instinctively routed every iota of available power into her shields. The shields flared brightly, filling the crater with a flash of blue-white light before they collapsed in on themselves, sending the mare flying back into the rock wall behind her.


            Alarms blared in Clockwork's ear as she struggled to her hooves, power levels dangerously critical… Brief memories of the incident years ago flitted through her mind, the first time she had met Ultrapony, and how he had hurt her then. Her vision went red with fury and rage, and all the screaming alarms didn't matter. The shouts of her friends faded into the background. Only the sneering face of the pegasus meant anything… and the desire to erase that smirk off his face nearly overwhelmed her.


            "ENOUGH!" came a new voice, far more powerful then Ultrapony's. The illusion dropped so quickly about them it seemed almost a physical force, shattering the moment of fury from the small mare.


            Princess Luna glowered at each one of them in turn, her expression hard and dark, "I knew you'd need more practice, but this…?!? We will discuss this situation later, but it is NEVER alright to attack your teammates. Ultrapony, hit the showers. Dragonfly, your lab. The rest of you, with me."


            Luna stalked away with the other four ponies, leaving the armoured pony facing perhaps the single most powerful Special Equestria had ever known.


            "We'll settle this later." Ultrapony promised, launched himself into the air.


            "Yes," Clockwork whispered, "We will."

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As always, all comments and feedback are appreciated.

- Polecat
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anonymous's avatar
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Lykeres's avatar
LykeresHobbyist Digital Artist
First and foremost, you're a fantastic writer, and I don't want to diminish that in any way.
That being said, I've seen you use the word 'then' when the right word would be 'than.' Just thought you'd want to know to keep an eye on that.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah, I know about that one. I'm getting the hang of it... >.<

- Polecat
Darklordcomp's avatar
DarklordcompHobbyist Writer
oh snaps
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:evillaugh:

- Polecat
Darklordcomp's avatar
DarklordcompHobbyist Writer
lol
Nova225's avatar
>"What better way to appear that you know more then you should then by making sure you have arranged the events ahead of time?"
-Kinda reminds me of that one quote ;) : When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.

>It really is too bad about the Crusaders.
>Allowing them to stay independent
-The CMC are alive and formed some sort of Independant Militia ? ...Interesting, grateful for that... Bonus points.

>"Well then…" Flourish answered with a low chuckle, "Let's start this party… NOW!"
-Yeah... Party, huh ? ;)

...Also... I don't know what you have in mind for Ultrapony, now more than ever frankly, but from the look of it... I would ''almost'' tend to say that he will end up going Rogue.

He's starting to fall (or at least, it's the impression I'm starting to get) into some sort of ''blood-thirst revenge haughty a-hole'' kind of personality, BUT he's a descendant of Rainbow Dash, and also other small bits of stuff about Twilight...

Right now, I'm scratching my head, not really me trying to guess what will happen with him, but rather me wondering if (as this moment) I wouldn't prefer him going Rogue just so the rest of the Team could stomp on him a couple times... with heavy spiked boots...

Quite conflictual (conflicted ?), see ?
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
On the Crusaders, they didn't form a militia. But then, I don't reveal the full extent of what they did do until Chapter 9, so you'll see then. :)

As for Ultrapony... there's a LOT of ways it could fall at this point. I have to be very careful not to tip my hand here, but I am glad that it's left readers not entirely certain where I might go with him yet. ;)

And for the record, given his power level, I imagine the team would have trouble beating him. He really is the most powerful "special" in Equestria, second only to the Princesses themselves.

- Polecat
Nova225's avatar
Aren't the CMC the leaders/representatives of that ''Unregistred'' Group ?

From the way Luna and Celestia talked of them, it sounded that way, or did I misinterpreted that part of the story ?

>they could have been such powerful allies
>Allowing them to stay independent and negotiating with them as equals bolsters their sense of freedom
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Again, yopu'll understand more clearly. But let's just say that, given the time differential, the "elderly unicorn" that Twilight was is a good sign of how old the CMC are too. They're hardly going to be young fillies anymore (in fact it's more likely they're grandparents by now).

And a note there. Celestia said "Could have been". She's speaking of the past, not the present. ;)

- Polecat
SummerPwny's avatar
death to Ultrapony.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:evillaugh:

- Polecat
Shellsh0cker's avatar
You know, in spite of my early praise, I was a bit apprehensive about this story at first. There were just a lot of ways it could've gone wrong. My fears were being steadily alleviated as the story continued, but in this chapter, you've finally undertaken the "Trial by Fire" of writing team superhero fiction: the group combat scene.

You passed.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Trust me, this was something I was not entirely sure how to handle at first myself. But I should note that I had this chapter completely written (and was happy with it) BEFORE I started publishing this story. This was actually the last chapter I wrote before I sent it in to Equestria Daily and started putting it up here. :) That said, there's more battles coming up in the future too... ;)

But yes, I know I tend to write dialog better. :D

- Polecat
DarkonShadows's avatar
Nice subtle "Ticket Master" reference. Good flow on the bantering. So Dragonfly only has surface area scanners? Well that's going to be less of a problem while in high flying situations or being able to fight in a cloud.

Random Questions: What are your thoughts on unicorns using combined magic abilities? Such as one unicorn boosting anothers casting ability or cutting down on the casting time all together. Do temporary ability boosting spells exist in your universe? I was thinking of a super whose only ability is to boost the natural talents of others and itself, basically a really simple amplification super power with a ludicrously short range effect. Then again I over think things way too often.

Last thought: Ultrapony has deep rooted issues that needs to be adressed and I can only guess that's coming up soon. Dragonfly can take more advantage of her sensors in 'blinding' terrain such as a FOW Fog of War or night time missions. On a cloudy day you won't see the wyvern that bit you.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I get to make a few more references like that. I like to keep these stories at least partially grounded in the series that inspired them. :)

As for her scanners, I actually grabbed from my knowledge of Radar, which I worked on in the Navy. So it's possible I might need to rethink it a little...

As for Unicorns "boosting" each other, the problem would be specialization. Unicorns are, by the inherent structure of MLP:FIM, specialized in specific areas. TK isn't really boostable, simply because it's a physical force. Other spells would be, but it would require a group of unicorns with similar abilities. For instance: Twilight and Rarity working together could "boost" the gem-finding spell Rarity uses and taught Twilight. OTOH, Rarity could not boost Twilight when Twi decided to use her Teleport spell, because she doesn't have even the least bit of knack of ability with it.

Hopefully that answers your question.

- Polecat
DarkonShadows's avatar
It does answer my question.

Now that I think of it the Imps remind me of the monsters from the adventure game "Heart of Darkness" for the playsation(Not to be confused with a book of a similar title about Africa), either that or one of many Ridley reiterations from Metroid. (The darklands can give people nightmares of a boy with electricity cannon being eaten by shadowy creatures)

[link]

If you don't know what 'Heart of Darkness' is, this youtube video at 1:40, you get a good close up on what I think your imps look like. 6:30 of the same video is how I think an attack on Ponyville would look. You don't have to look at the video I just think it'd nice to know what I'm referencing.

Sonar scanning could be useful, but I doubt your throwing the team into an underwater situation or underground.(Unless there was Diamond Dog or Sea Pony involvement, sound based detection right?)

Motion tracking sensors are also somewhat useless as they tend to have people jumping at shadows.(In the Aliens series of horror movies the motion trackers didn't seem very effective for telling you when something was sneaking up on you, it was even less effective in the game as it tended to cause the player to panic at even the slightlest movement and it only tracked the motion that was in front of you.)

Seismic sensors will be mostly useless except for detecting disturbances underground.

X-ray sensors are a tad too dangerous to use, unless you had a version that didn't cause radiation damage maybe a magical lense kind of deal?

Heat sensors and Infra-red visuals, if the creatures give off no heat then that kind of useful if everything around you is warmer than they are.

Sound sensors have their place too, I remember reading a Terminator book(off shoot of the movies) where skynet can listen in on a conversation by scanning the way glass vibrates from the sound of a person/pony's voice hits it from a satellite in outer space.

Energy signature sensors are probably the most effective kind of sensors as they can be calibrated to scan for specific things, including the life signs of bioelectrical currents of an equines brain.

Sorry if I'm being to annoying, I just like to throw ideas out there.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, I remember that game. Never got very far in it tho, it kept kicking my flank. Honestly I got the idea for the Imps more from Ridley then I did from them, tho not exclusively from him.

As for sensors, I know of a number of them, but a majority wouldn't seem practical on a power-armour. As for traditional radar, it basically acts like Sonar. You send a signal out, and where it bounces and comes back, it forms a spatial image.

For instance, a seismic sensor wouldn't work unless you were firmly planted on the ground, and Dragonfly is a flying unit... ;)

- Polecat
Blaireau-Garou's avatar
Maybe with a fleet of smalls specialized drones.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Which would take up necessary space in the armour better used for defense & offense.

- Polecat
Blaireau-Garou's avatar
except if the fleet flies around ClockWork at the beginning and spreads itself as soon as on the battlefield.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It would still require having the systems in place to launch and communicate with them, which would take a lot of room.

- Polecat
Blaireau-Garou's avatar
Clockwork will need a piece of Kryptonite ... a big one
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Kryptonite doesn't work on Ultrapony. Mwahahahaha!!

- Polecat
xanderfox's avatar
Good to know the Crusaders are all active, but I can see how they would go off and form their own team rather than join a "official" one. Also like the fact that you got Celestia's "Chessmaster" thing down.

Should have expected Ultrapony to be the one to set off things, he's very much like his mom. I would think she's ganna also a hot button for him. Ultrapony is obviously trying to live up to Rainbow Dash's legacy and probably assumes greatness is just his birthright.

I disagree with you Wing, I don't think Ultra pony needs to go off and form his own splinter group, though he really needs to learn a lesson about being part of a team, probably a hard one.
anonymous's avatar
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