"Testing, can everypony hear me?"
"I've got you loud and clear," Clockwork answered, and the others of the team did as well through Galaxi's psychic link.
"Excellent. Time to see how well this works then," Princess Luna said in their minds. Clockwork had to grin, she hadn't expected Luna to take up the role when she suggested they needed a coordinator. "You will be meeting up with a trio of Unregistered ponies known as 'The Crusaders'. They have information of a star-fall in the Northern Reaches. Consider this your first official action as a team."
"Why am I pulling this damnable chariot?" Ultrapony growled and fidgeted in the leather harness that linked him to the golden chariot in question. He had not taken the demotion from team leader very well.
"The team needs to get there somehow, and only Dragonfly can keep up with you. Since she's not a Pegasus, she can hardly pull a chariot," Luna answered, but Clockwork could hear the pegasus' snort clearly. Dragonfly glanced at the riders in the wooden chariot, her teammates, who looked about as thrilled to be riding this particular chariot as Ultrapony did in pulling it.
"I am thinking that is our landing zone, ya?" Ironjaw pointed out, trying hard not to look ill.
"That's correct," Luna confirmed, "Dragonfly? Scout the landing site and let Ultrapony know if it's clear."
"Roger that," Clockwork answered smoothly, and rolled away from Ultrapony and the chariot. She moderated her speed as she began to descend, flaring the quartet of her armour's wings. For the first time she was able to truly appreciate the grandeur of the Northern Reaches. Snow capped mountains that reached into the sky like the teeth of some ancient dragon. Snow capped those teeth only to fade lower down their faces, were a verdant green forest clung tenaciously in the frigid weather. A crisp cold air whistled through the pines, filling the forest with a soft rustling. The day was startlingly clear, and the sky a beautiful blue that makes one feel as if they could see for many, many miles. Clockwork was very glad she thought to insulate her armour.
Clockwork splayed her hooves a bit more, steadying her descent as she approached the clearing below. She began to realize that she was not alone, but her sensors stubbornly insisted she was. Carefully she looked around, and spotted the purple maned pegasus as she buzzed her a second time. On the third pass, the aged orange pegasus pulled even with Clockwork, hovering eye to (mechanical) eye with her. Clockwork took the moment to study her, watching the purple mane falling about the hard lines of her face, and the bodysuit of white with flaming prints covering her lean body. But what drew Clockwork's eye the most were her wings, which buzzed with a speed more akin to an insect then a pegasus.
"You the ponies the Princesses sent?" the pony asked, a thinly veiled note of distaste in her voice.
"Affirmative. I'm Dragonfly, and the rest of the team is circling until I can confirm the landing zone is clear," Clockwork answered.
The pegasus with the odd buzzing wings touched her temple, and Clockwork guessed that she was using a well hidden headset, "You copy that Echo?" The pegasus nodded a few times as she listened to this "Echo" before motioning to Clockwork.
"C'mon then," she said, and zipped down. Clockwork pondered how much energy it must take for her to fly with wings like that, but guessed that her maneuverability must be superlative, and told herself she'd have to sit down with this pegasus and get some data for a future upgrade to her armour. Angling into a shallow dive, she followed the other pony easily enough, splaying her hooves before landing on the uneven ground. A pair of ponies were waiting there for herself and the pegasus to join them.
"Ah thought they was sendin' more then jus' one." a yellow colored pony said, her fire red mane streaked with grey, unruly strands escaping the bow she tied it back with. She was clad in a lavender suit that seemed to billow about her, reminding Clockwork of a martial arts uniform.
"They did," the other answered, an aging white unicorn with a lavender and pink mane that looked similar to Flourish's. Unlike her compatriots, she didn't dress nearly as flamboyantly, only wearing a form fitting bodysuit in white with a few tasteful purple accents.
"I'm just confirming the landing point, miss ?" Clockwork answered.
"Ah'll save introductions for when you've have landed. All you need to know now is we're th' Crusaders," the yellow pony stated with an accent that oddly seemed to fade in and out. Clockwork nodded, and did her sensor sweep of the area.
"Ultrapony, you're clear. Just watch for the ridge to the north."
"Whatever," Ultrapony growled, and brought the chariot down as gracefully as could be expected, which is to say the 4 ponies on the ground had to dive for cover as he nearly ran it into a tree. The chariot's riders were more then a little thankful to be on solid ground again, all looking nauseas and flight-sick.
"I told the Princess I don't DO chariots," he growled as he tossed off the harness.
"Everypony safe and sound?" the Princess asked over the mental link.
"More or less," Clockwork answered, barely hiding a chuckle as she turned to the recovering trio, "Sorry about that. He's not used to pulling a chariot, but it was the fastest way to get here."
"Think nothin' of it," the orange pegasus answered, "I'd hate haulin' one of those things too."
"Anyway, introductions," Clockwork chuckled, "I'm Dragonfly, the mare in the purple bodysuit is Galaxi, the big steel stallion is Ironjaw, the blue unicorn is Tome, our 'pilot' there is Ultrapony "
"THE Ultrapony?!?" the orange pegasus cried, and dashed over to the white pegasus. She was a blur as she rushed the surly pegasus, grasping his hoof as she pumped it with wild abandon, even as she peppered him with rapid-fire questions. Inwardly Clockwork groaned, a fan-filly. A fan-filly that was older then Ultrapony . She was surprised when she noticed that the pegasus' partners had groaned more audibly.
" and the grey unicorn there is Flourish," Clockwork finished weakly.
"Well, you've already met Firefly," the yellow pony told her, smiling broadly, "Mah friend here is Echo, an Ahm called Shadow Bloom."
"No offense intended, but what do you mares do?" Clockwork asked curiously.
"Ah'd rather not brag, but Firefly over there has those buzzy wings an' the ability to shoot fire from her hooves," Shadow Bloom answered, "Echo here well you'll will just have to hear it for yourselves. As for me " and the mare winked, and she literally faded to invisibility right in front of Clockwork.
"For a while, she called herself 'Fade out'," Echo politely pointed out, her voice having an almost hypnotic sing-song quality to it, "But then she finished her martial-arts training and earned her black belt, so she decided to change her name How many years ago was that?"
"Ah ain't telling!" Shadow Bloom answered from somewhere.
"I wondered if that belt was for show," Flourish offered as she poofed into existence beside the armoured mare. Galaxi joined her as well, while Tome was busy trying to steady Ironjaw and Firefly continued to pester Ultrapony.
"Nope!" Shadow Bloom answered, making everypony jump as she reappeared behind them, "Ah earned it fair and square!"
"So what do you ponies do?" Echo asked politely.
"Dragonfly there," Tome answered as she managed to join the group with Ironjaw in tow, "invented her power-armour. Galaxi is a psychic and telekinetic. Ironjaw is obviously made of metal. Ultrapony is well Ultrapony. Flourish can teleport and use that most unusual rapier she can create from her horn. Finally is Tome, the Mistress of Magic!" Tome finished with a cry, and reared up, showing off with a few illusions of smoke and fireworks. Amusingly the pair of ponies just looked at each other knowingly.
"Ya'll remind me of somepony " Shadow Bloom started.
" our older sisters met way back in Ponyville." Echo finished.
Tome's face fell sharply at the name of the town, "NO! Uh No that's that's not me," she stammered and tried to hide under her hat.
"If everyone's been introduced," Ultrapony cut in, trying to escape the aging fan-filly with the buzzing wings, "What's the situation?"
The unicorn stepped forward and tugged out an electronic map, "We detected it only two days ago, but unfortunately the rough terrain masked much of the landing from our sensors."
"That an we're still learnin' how to use 'em," Shadow Bloom informed them.
"What sort of sensor system?" Clockwork asked.
"We got them in exchange from the Princesses in our last negotiations," Echo informed her, "She said they're the same ones the Agency uses."
"If you want, I'll help acclimate you to the units after the mission," Clockwork offered, "I used to work with them a lot for the Agency."
"That'd be helpful " Shadow Bloom started.
"We don't need help from the Agency!" Firefly cut in, "You don't know if she's some sorta spy or somethin'! We can't even see her face!"
"Scoo Firefly," Echo cut in, catching herself, "We're trusting a group twice our size to help us handle a large star-fall full of Imps. I think we can trust one of them, outnumbered, in a place of strength for us, to show a few technicians how to operate our newly acquired gear."
"Anyway the mission?" Ultrapony cut in. Clockwork imagined she'd be flying back alone if she stayed on to help the Unregistered ponies here, which honestly didn't bother her in the least.
"Right. Shadow Bloom went in to scout out the impact crater," Echo continued, tapping a spot on the map to enhance the image, "It's a big one. We counted at least fifty imps, and they're heavily entrenched. It almost looks as if they're preparing for something, but we've not been able to ascertain what."
"So what was so massive a problem you felt the need to call for assistance?" Tome asked carefully.
Echo tapped the map for a moment, and a small image appeared on the screen, "This."
"Is that ?" Clockwork started, her blood running cold.
"That is a Destroyer Imp, ya," Ironjaw provided, "I have only seen one before. They are enforcers and extremely powerful. If you think an imp squadron or two is bad, a Destroyer makes them look like a piece of cake, ya."
"That's a good deal more then fifty," Clockwork sighed.
"No kidding," Flourish noted, lowering the binoculars she had been looking through, "That looks closer to eighty to me." The two fillies were hunkered down amidst a soft bed of pine needles on a ridge near the star-fall, a smattering of trees covering their presence. Several hundred feet away was the crater the unnatural meteorite had made, the rock walls having been bored full of door-way like holes that allowed the imps to mill about and provided quick entrance and exit.
"If they're as entrenched as the Crusaders believe, it could be upwards of a hundred."
"There's a lovely thought," Flourish made a face, "A hundred Imps plus a Destroyer."
"Well, this is what we signed up for," Clockwork joked.
Flourish nudged her with a grin, "Hey now, jokes at inappropriate times are MY schtick."
"Think the plan will still work?"
"Not a chance," Flourish grinned.
"I was afraid you'd say that."
"Seeya at the bottom," Flourish called and vanished in a puff of pink smoke. Clockwork waited, the mental link open as the teleporting pony relayed the data to their temporary allies.
"Checking in," Luna's voice sounded in her head.
"Doesn't look pretty, Princess," Clockwork offered, "I'm not too sure of this plan."
"You're just squirming at the thought of being bait," she teased.
"Just tell me when to go before I chicken out," Clockwork chuckled, then her breath caught in her throat, "I've got movement."
"What do you see?"
"Oh hay the Destroyer is topside," Clockwork groaned, "He's looking around like he's expecting something or somepony."
"Duck down, he might be trying to spot you."
"I don't think he's seen me," Clockwork answered softly, "But I've got a very bad feeling about this." Clockwork swallowed visibly as she looked out over the crater. The imp that had appeared on the surface was massive, easily 4 stories tall. To Clockwork, it bore a resemblance to the mythical Ursa Major, except it wasn't a bear. It had a wickedly curved beak that was reminiscent of a buzzard, and skin that glowed with the night sky itself even in the mid-afternoon sun. A pair of baleful glowing eyes swept back and forth, scanning every inch of the landscape around it intently. Serrated claws clenched at the ground beneath, churning the dirt with every step, and crushing any rocks that happened to be underfoot. Loosely held in it's right hand-claw was a massive club that looked like it had been a full grown pine-tree just a day ago. The Destroyer Imp was missing the wings of it's smaller cousins, but somehow Clockwork couldn't imagine that being too much of a hindrance for it.
"We're ready down here," she heard Galaxi over the link.
"Alright, Dragonfly," Luna said softly, "It's all you."
"Celestia help me."
"Will you settle for me?" Luna joked.
"I'll take whoever I can get," Clockwork poked back nervously. She folded the flight surfaces back to high-speed mode, and opened the large engine on her back. She'd had plenty of time for her wings to recharge the armour from the trip, but she wasn't entirely sure how well trying to launch into high-speed mode from a dead stop would work. Only way to find out
The engine flared brightly, sending the bed of pine needles scattering, and she galloped towards the edge of the cliff. For a brief moment, fear clutched at her heart as she was sure the air wouldn't catch her, even as her hooves launched her off the cliff. For several long moments only the sense of free-fall gripped its icy talons into Clockwork's heart. Then a cushion of air buoyed her like a bobber on the water and she hurtled forward, leaving her to struggle in an attempt to pull up, and away from the huge Imp looming before her.
"This is bad," she groaned, her eyes widening as she saw the Destroyer Imp leap into the air in an attempt to bat her out of the sky with its massive club. Her options were limited, and the only ones the mare did see were immediately cast away, her death certain with each. Clockwork finally chose one that seemed insane, even to her, and bit her lip. She leaned forward, propelling herself into a dive, angling her hooves back and firing the additional jets to increase her speed as quickly as possible. Her sensors told her what she wanted, as she cut under the Imp's attempted swing, and down the length of it's chest.
"Clockwork!! What are you doing?!?" Luna's panicked voice reached her.
The armoured pony pulled up sharply and rocketed between the legs of the leaping Destroyer, her backwash causing it to howl in pain. Hoping it would take some time to recover, she unleashed the planned bombardment from all four hooves at the swirling force of Imps that had begun gathering below. She wasn't even paying attention to her aim, just kicking the beehive so to speak, and now it was time to run.
Clockwork pulled her hooves tight to her sides and channeled every ounce of power the suit had into her speed, tearing away from the chaos behind her, the swirling mass of imps temporarily halted by the falling members of their own back against them. Unlike the illusions she trained against, these did not evaporate when they were killed. Also they seemed a good deal uglier, but Clockwork didn't allow herself dwell on it. Instead she had to focus on speeding down the valley towards the position the group had prepared. It was narrow and thankfully straight, but even then it took all of Clockwork's skill not to impact the narrowing edges of it.
Finally she saw the barricade her team and the Crusaders had set up, a pair of trees that had been felled and placed in an angle facing towards the valley itself, a few branches still clinging stubbornly after the hasty removal of its brethren. Clockwork began to bleed off her speed, dipping low to come in over them. She'd almost made it too, when an imp crashed into her from above, driving her down into the rocks. Alarms screamed at her, but the shields held even as she was literally ridden through the furrow she created in the rock-bed. Unfortunately the Imp didn't leave when they stopped, leaving her to struggle and attempt to reach her feet with a raging imp slamming her back down.
The Imp's screaming reached the ears of the team, and the sky turned dark with more then a hundred wings as they prepared to dive at the entrenched location. A purple glow formed as Galaxi rose her telekinetic shield over the team, staving off a volley of hurled rocks. Strategy, however, wasn't foremost on the Imps' minds. They wanted blood for their comrades, and they dove en masse at the entrenched team.
"Echo? Ah think it's time to shine," Shadow Bloom grinned.
"I agree. Galaxi, was it? Drop the shield please," Echo asked, and reluctantly the psychic dropped the shield.
The elder unicorn took a slow, deep breath, as if she had all the time in the world. She didn't pay any attention to the diving imps as they drew closer, instead focusing herself inwards. Then her eyes flashed open, her gentle expression vanished as she opened her mouth widely and screamed.
The first of the Imps had nearly reached her, and took the full brunt of the ear-shattering scream, but being first or last did not save the majority of Imps from the intense sonic assault from the aged unicorn. Her voice literally turned to a weapon, and the very air vibrated about the horde of imps, shredding them into a mess of ichor, bone, and sinew.
The imp on Clockwork's back paused from trying to batter through her shields to look up at what Echo was doing. He screamed angrily, launching himself along the ground, but never got more then 10 feet before he was met head-on by a pair of fireballs from the aptly named Firefly.
Clockwork, relieved of the Imp's weight and attentions, deactivated her wings and rolled onto her back to face the sky. She angled all four of her hooves upwards and began to fill the sky over her with blue-white plasma bolts, picking off any stragglers that skirted the edges of the sonic band of death the unicorn created in mid air. Tome and Firefly joined in shortly as well, turning the air into a deadly place for the Imps.
Flourish appeared by the armoured pony's side and went into her deadly whirling dance with her "blade", joined quickly by Shadow Bloom's martial strikes, as they proceeded to make quick work of those Imps smart enough to drop to the ground. Between Bloom's constant invisibility tricks and Flourish's energetic teleportation, they were able to decimate nearly the entire ground force by themselves before Ultrapony and Ironjaw charged in to assist.
The battle lasted only ten minutes, but to Clockwork it felt like hours before the sky was finally clear of any imps. She couldn't figure out how the unicorn managed to make her sonic scream last that long, but she had to admit it was deadly effective. Clockwork rolled to her feet and reactivated her wings, sucking up the solar energy again for her low batteries when she spotted something on her HUD.
"INCOMING!!" she cried out loud and over the psychic network.
Clockwork would relive the next moments in slow motion for years to come. The Destroyer Imp arrived with a crashing shockwave, crushing rock and any living thing, pony or imp, beneath it's feet. Only a panicked teleport from Flourish spared her the fate a handful of imps suffered beneath those crushing foot-claws. With momentum from its leap fueling it, the club it carried was no more them a deadly line in the crystal blue air. This line found a mark right upon the back of Ironjaw, driving him downwards into the rock bed and forming a new crater with the immense force of the impact.
The stunned ponies watched in shock as the Destroyer roared in victory, then derisively kicked the pony it had crushed, sending the limp form of Ironjaw arcing overhead. To Clockwork's horror, her sensors analyzed the image, picking out cracks in the metal of Ironjaw's back where the silvery-grey fur of his coat peaked through. Galaxi, thankfully, caught him with her telekinesis, lowering him safely to the ground. But the damage had been done.
Cold fury mixed with a near crippling fear washed over Clockwork, her plasma ejectors were primed and charged, but she found herself rooted to the spot. Horror at what she had seen flooded her mind, even as her logical mind screamed at her. Her armour could not handle this opponent, she knew it, but righteous fury rarely listened to reason. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately depending on your perspective, another figure rose to the challenge. This figure of a pony flew up in before the Destroyer, his white coat gleaming in the mountain air, his multi-colored mane and tail fluttering in the stiff breeze.
The Destroyer was unimpressed, and swung its tree-club in an arc at the pony, grabbing it with both claws to add extra force. The look on the giant Imp's face was priceless as it was stopped dead by the pony, and almost became comical as the Imp threw its weight into the swing twice more to attempt to make the club move from that spot. The pony shifted his grip, and tore the club from the monster's claws, hurling it away behind him derisively. The white pony then turned into a blur, dashing in at the Destroyer to hit it hard across the beak, driving it back a step.
"SWEETIE BELLE!!" someone screamed, and Clockwork's reverie was shattered. She tore her eyes from the battle between Ultrapony and the Destroyer, to look behind her where the group had prepared their ambush. Sensors showed her the unicorn was the only pony left there, and she was recovering, short of breath. The threat was not apparent to Clockwork until she looked up.
The tree/club that had been thrown from the battle soared over Clockwork's head as it spun lazily in the air, it's deadly arc heading straight for the barricade and Echo. Clockwork gasped, her eyes widening when she realized what was about to happen, and quickly switched the firing mode on one of her plasma ejectors. She'd have to make this count, the low power of her armour wouldn't support the constant beam fire for more then a few seconds.
To Clockwork, time seemed to slow down. She could only wait, and yet every second counted, but her shot would be worthless if she didn't wait. The lazy flat spin of the tree would ensure that if she fired now, she'd only hit it at one end, and she'd be out of power before that was ever effective. She had to wait for it to spin further around, but every second brought it closer to the unicorn, who looked at the approaching tree with horror.
To her credit, Echo tried to scream again, but her voice devolved into a coughing fit that only served to remind every pony she wasn't a young filly anymore. She wasn't even middle aged anymore. Were life fair, she'd be on the porch in a rocking chair, singing lullabies and nursery-rhymes to her grand-foals. But life wasn't fair, it had stolen her sister from her, it had stolen her home from her, and now it seemed poised to steal her from her friends and family.
A blue-white beam lanced out from the ravine, carving a line through the air as it sliced the tree into two parts at roughly the middle. Echo, known in better times as Sweetie Belle, could only watch as the bisected tree seemed to separate only feet over her head. Then a pair of plasma bolts, launched from the bucking hooves of the armoured pony Dragonfly, slammed into each one of the two parts. That pushed them just enough to send them over Echo's head, as she felt more then saw the massive tree miss her and crash into the forest just behind her. She clenched her eyes shut, only listening to the splintering sounds of the trees, and imagining that could have been her bones.
"Time to go," came a voice, and her eyes snapped open again. The grey pony was there at her side, the one with the weird horn of glowing pink and mane similar to her own, and grabbed her with a foreleg. Echo had never been teleported before, and it was not an experience she wanted to repeat anytime soon, but she was perfectly happy to tolerate the intense dizziness to be safe from that falling log. She closed her eyes, and felt her friends appear like magic to hug her intensely.
"What about ?" she croaked. She touched a hoof to her throat and frowned, the doctors told her if she didn't stop using her scream, she'd loose her voice permanently. Fortunately that wouldn't happen today, but she'd barely be able to speak for weeks after this.
"Have a look," one of the Princess' agents said, Tome she thought, as she spread a hoof to the scene before her. Even were it not for her raw throat, the scene left her speechless.
At the head of the ravine, a single pony was fighting the Destroyer Imp, and was winning. Ultrapony's shining white coat seemed almost like another star on the Imp's skin, yet a very aggressive star as he lunged at the Imp's head, causing it to snap back painfully. The Destroyer roared with pain, and tried to clap it's hands down on the annoying pony, the impact sending shockwaves through the valley.
For a moment, there was silence. The Destroyer began to grin, assured in its own vistory. But its expression fell, then turned angry, as it's hands were slowly forced apart. Ultrapony only smiled from where he had forced the Imp's vice-like grip open, a dark smile that promised much horror and pain, before he seemed to rocket from between the nightmare's claws. Ultrapony was propelled, as if the Imp's crushing hands had launched him, right back into the face of the Destroyer. The Imp's head snapped violently to one side, and a crackling sound made everypony wince. Heedless of the fact he likely just broke it's neck, Ultrapony rushed forward to grab it's beak, pulling it back to face him.
"What's he doin'?" Firefly asked in a terrified whisper, her eyes wide as saucers. The Destroyer's dying scream filled the valley with a bone-chilling sound, which was suddenly cut off as Ultrapony struck the giant imp again, spinning it's head the other way and further shattering the bones of it's neck. He then ducked forward, grabbing it by the nape with his hooves, then literally threw the gigantic imp straight into the ground. The impact caused a shockwave that nearly bowled over the assembled ponies, leaving the broken Imp in a newly formed crater all its own.
Ultrapony filled the air with his feral scream of victory.
"Galaxi!!" Clockwork cried, and had to run along the ground, her armour too low on power to fly. She hoped the wings would collect enough power to manage the feat soon.
"He's... he's alive," Galaxi answered, looking up from where she was sitting by the steel pony's side. Ironjaw was out cold, which itself wasn't the scary part. No, what terrified Clockwork was that the metal shell covering his back was festooned in the web-work lines of cracked steel. Some of the metal fragments had fallen loose, flaking free of the stallion's back, where a matching silvery-grey coat of fur could be seen.
Clockwork swallowed nervously, "I I never believed him when he said he had a 'luxurious' silver coat before his abilities came to light."
"Does does the Princess know?" the mare asked in a soft, strangled, voice.
"She does," Galaxi answered, "I've already relayed the Princess' request to teleport in to take him back to Canterlot for healing."
"What What's the preliminary assessment?"
"He might not walk again," a new voice answered, and Clockwork looked up to see the pony known as Shadow Bloom approaching her, "Ah think it might've broken his back. That's why we ain't moved him."
"Why can't " Clockwork started.
"It ain't that simple," Bloom answered sadly, already knowing the question as coming, "Ah WE may have started the Unregistered movement, but it's been a long time since any of us were its leader. We Crusaders are more of a figurehead now, still bangin' around, but not havin' much say over how things work anymore. They'd have retired us, but we don' sit still well."
"Why are we just figureheads? 'Cause we're getting' old," Bloom answered with a sad smile, "Mah sister, and Echo's sister, were both part of 'The Six'. But unlike them, we didn't want be pressed into service. All Luna's Agency represents is an extension of the Royal Guard. There are a lot of Specials who never wanted to fight, who didn't have a talent that would allow them to fight, or just plain didn't have the personality for it. How do you make a pony with a gentle soul, who only wants to create art for other ponies, fight in a battle? You can't, an' if you do, it won' end well."
"So we're stuck?" Clockwork asked, trying hard to control her voice.
"Just cause we ain't in charge no-more, doesn't mean we ain't got some clout," Shadow Bloom said softly, "We're just waitin' on permission. Once we got that "
"Bloom!!" Firefly called out, "Tell the.. Oh wait, there you are. Galaxi, tell the Princess she has permission to extract 'im!"
Galaxi nodded quickly and touched her head. With barely an instant passing, Luna appeared in a silvery flash of light, looking about quickly for the wounded pony.
"Oh dear, this is worse then I anticipated," Luna said worriedly, then looked to two Crusaders, "Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, thank you. Hopefully we can save this pony's life."
"Best get movin' Princess. You know how fidgety they get about having you in the territories," Shadow Bloom noted with a sad smile.
"I know. I wish we could have met again under better circumstances," Luna answered, then knelt down to drape a wing over Ironjaw. Her horn glowed again, and in another silvery flash, both vanished from the scene. Galaxi let out a soft sigh and a groan as she climbed to her hooves, Firefly joining her as she wandered tiredly away, but Clockwork could only stare at the spot where Ironjaw had been.
"You alright?" Bloom asked the armoured pony, placing a hoof on her shoulder.
"Probably not," she admitted, "He's a friend of my family. I've known him since I was a foal in school. He and my brother were inseparable. Now Now I've lost them both."
"It's hard loosin' kin," Bloom said, sitting on her flank near Dragonfly, "I lost both my elder sister an' my elder brother in this mess."
Clockwork reached up and tugged off the helm of her armour, revealing her face for the first time to these new ponies. "Are you really Apple Bloom?" she asked softly.
"Your sister saved my family once " she said softly, "Back when I was very young. I was barely old enough to understand what happened, only that Lady Sparkle and Lady Applejack rescued us from a falling star, thankfully not one carrying Imps."
"Mah sister was probably ready to buck the thing back into space if Twilight didn't stop it with her magic." the yellow mare grinned.
"I know Lady Sparkle used to compare my brother to Big Macintosh all the time too," she pressed on.
"That was our big brother," Bloom offered, smiling sadly, "He was such a proud stallion, but of few words. Did you know that he and Twilight almost got married? They were fixin' to, but then all this Special stuff happened. Sure Big Mac understood, but it broke his heart when she left."
"I worked with Lady Sparkle sometimes near the end, she was assigned to the station I used to coordinate from," she said softly, "I can promise you she remembered him fondly. You could always see it in her eyes, and how she'd never talk about how they had to part ways."
"Not surprised," Bloom nodded, "They were really in love when all hell broke loose. If it's not prying, who was your brother?"
"Warpony," she said softly, "Widget when not in the armour."
Bloom considered, "Ah've heard that name before."
Clockwork nodded, "I helped design his armour when I was still in school. He got me into the Agency as his personal technician, and I climbed up the ranks to become a coordinator. When my brother died they offered me his spot on this team."
"Never feels like you can measure up, does it?"
Clockwork shook her head before she looked at Bloom, "No."
"I know the feeling. I mean, Applejack was one of the legendary Six, an' she was mah big sister," she said softly, "I learned to fight since mah power was just turning invisible, an' she was super-strong. An then there was Big Mac "
"My brother looked up to him he was a legend."
"Yeah he is," Bloom nodded, wiping her face with a fore-hoof, "Ain't many ponies can claim to have rescued Princess Celestia, helped to stop the assault of Redpine Ridge, and stood up to a squadron of Imps single hoofedly all without any sort of 'gift' at all. Sometimes it ain't the powers, but how you use 'em, that makes the pony."
"I hope he's okay," Clockwork whispered softly, blinking back tears.
"Ah'll understand if you don't stick around," Bloom said softly.
"I'll come back when things calm down. I don't mind helping out, but "
"But you want be there," Bloom said understandingly.
"Ah'll see what strings I can pull. Maybe some sorta exchange or something, but I doubt they'll go for that," Bloom sighed, "We never wanted to separate ourselves from Equestria, we just wanted a safe place for those who wouldn't or couldn't fight, powers or no."
"The current leadership is getting ambitious?" Clockwork asked, curious despite herself.
"A bit. They think that just cause the Princesses let us live out here means they can't come swoopin' in if they up an' change their minds. They think they got some sort of power over the Princesses," Bloom snorted, "As if they ain't met the Princesses like we Crusaders. They ain't felt the power they give off just standing in their presence. We're here cause they let us be here, not cause we got some sorta power over them."
"Sounds like they might make a mistake and overreach."
"Maybe," Bloom nodded, "Ah was worried they might do it now and turn down the Princess' request to get that wounded teammate of yours. Ah'd have stood against 'em if they did that. You don't abandon your kin, and your team is your kin."
Clockwork looked up to the sky, "Yeah, I guess they are."
As always, feedback and comments are encouraged.
Spark Chapter 2
Spark Chapter 7
Spark Chapter 3
I'm not so sure about that choice of words; you make it sound like she turned off her wings, which would be a ridiculous thing to do in the middle of a fight since it would cripple her shields.
>Firefly over there has those buzzy wings an' the ability to shoot fire from her hooves
-I thought those ''specials'' were supposed to be a rare/limited occurance.
>She angled all four of her hooves upwards and began to fill the sky over her with blue-white plasma bolts
-On her back to fire ? Seems like a dengerous position inside a fight.
> "Best get movin' Princess. You know how fidgety they get about having you in the territories,"
-It's becoming more and more like in X-Men... Will there be a Magneto-pony or something ?
>rescued us from a falling star, thankfully not one carrying Imps.
-Waaaaaiiiit... what do you ''mean'' by ''carrying'' ?...
> "The current leadership is getting ambitious?"
>They think they got some sort of power over the Princesses
-Huh ? Pony-Genosha ?
... 75% X-men - 25% Avenger, now ? ...
And it might have been a vulnerable position for Dragonfly/Clockwork, but she's hardly a trained fighter. She did it on instinct rather than anything else.
I think I made a joke about a Magneto-esque pony in a later chapter, but it was only a brief story for a character who no longer lives.
By proportion, Real Super-Heroes (like, Super-Man, Wonderwoman, etc) are about 1% of the World's Population.
They will be very few in number, but compensate with super ''Super Powers'' (beyond normal range of powers).
Not always born that way, but when they aren't their Super-powers will come from an object ancient and/or very powerful (amulets, gloves, rings, etc)...
...when X-Men's mutants are like 25+ % of the World's Population, and are usually born with it (latent genes), making people-ponies with powers something much more common in comparaison.
It also means that it would be something that ''spread'' and pop up randomly, and a bit everywhere, making the number of them grow (even if slowly) day after day.
...that RD thing... just can't shake it, at all... a wall...
By bomb, by hospital rescue, by assassination, by super-imp monster, by protecting vital information... and... by pathetic wall...
You seriously see no problem, no ''difference'' in 'decency' for the last one there, compared to the other ones ?
.........eluding something ?