Note:Hey bronies, sorry for making you wait forever. Between a 5am-7pm work schedule, intermittent writer's block, and goofing off in between, This chapter took way too long. I'm cursed, really. I'll get this great idea, crank out the beginning and middle 10 seconds flat, and then I'll have to tie everything up and my brain goes flips me the bird. Thanks for being patient though. I appreciate you guys reading my story and the helpful critics. Here's some closure!
Twilight opened her eyes. The Elements had "attacked" as soon as the six had asked them to. The rainbow wave shot towards the Meta and suddenly time froze for a moment. Then the wave crashed into the Meta and enveloped him entirely. The effect only lasted for a few seconds and then the rainbow pulled itself off the Meta and into the air. It dragged a black goo along with it, and the two masses seemed to struggle for dominance before the Elements won out. They crushed the dark mass with a flash of light and vanished a moment afterwards. The Meta lay on the ground, unmoving. Cautiously, Twilight plodded towards him. The Meta (minus his wings) breathed; unconscious. The lavender mare breathed a sigh of relief, but bound him with Applejack's rope just in case. The six paused, staring at the prone figure and wondering if he would suddenly spring back to awareness and start attacking again.
"Little help?" Church asked, snapping them from their revery and reminding them that the RvB ponies were probably in desperate need of medical help.
"Hang on, I'll go get Doc!" Twilight informed her friends and teleported a moment later. The other five quickly rushed to the fallen RvB ponies. Church and Tex had been the closest. It was rather eerie to see Tex drag her halved body around with her two front legs. But they all had a giggle at Church's expense as he wiggled on the lamp post like a speared fish. Moving along to the others, they found Simmons and Wash had gotten the best end of the deal: A massive, splitting headache and some bruising, but they would be fine. Sarge was found next, barely keeping himself awake as the pain from his shattered limbs threatened to overtake him. By then, Twilight was back with Doc, and the Blue team medic got to work healing. A minute later, the battered forms of Caboose and Tucker were found. The two blue team ponies were suffering from extreme blood loss, internal bruising, and weren't responding to external stimuli. Twilight, having brushed up on her medical spells recently, tended to Caboose while Doc worked on healing Tucker. It was strenuous work but they were able to stabilize the two blue team members.
"Fheeew..." Doc breathed, wiping sweat from his muzzle. "Is that everypony?" He asked, having just finished healing Tucker's wing. The two groups looked around.
"Where's Grif?" Simmons asked. They looked at one another and split up. After a few minutes of searching, Dash found him first.
"OVER HERE! HURRY!" She yelled. Doc and Twilight rushed over to the sound of her voice, closely followed by the rest of the groups. They found Dash hovering over Grif, panic-striken. The Meta had blindly thrown the orange pegasus into a nearby pile of rubble. Said rubble contained a ruined metal-rod fence; the rods having been ripped out of the top frame and jutted out like spikes. Grif had fallen on two of them. The rods went through his left side and just barely poked out his right. One had gone through his gut and impaled his wings while the other had speared his lungs. Blood dribbled out of his mouth. Amazingly, he still breathed.
"How do we get him off?" Fluttershy asked. Doc stared and grimaced.
"Well we could just yank him off, but I'm afraid that would kill him." The medic replied.
"No it won't." All eyes turned in disbelief at the limping Sarge. "Grif is too lazy to die. Shuffling off the mortal coil is too much work for him. I guarantee that you can pull him off that mess and heal him with plenty of time to spare." The red stallion said confidently. The others stared at him like he was crazy.
"Are you insane? You're insane aren't you!" Dash burst out.
"Insane like a fox!" He replied with a grin. Dash was about to insult him further when Twilight placed herself between the two.
"This is getting us nowhere. Doc-" She turned to the medic. "-if we pull Grif off quickly and heal him as fast as possible, will he survive?" Doc looked uncertain.
"I don't know. The shock to his body from such attempt might just kill him outright." He paused. "But it's the only choice I see us having." Twilight nodded grimly.
"Right. Okay, here's what we'll do: Doc, Rarity, and myself will start healing Grif as soon as everypony else pulls him off. Got it?" She stated. Everypony nodded. They all gathered around Grif and prepared to lift. "On the count of three. One...two...THREE!" Twilight shouted. The assembled group pulled Grif off the bars; the pain from the action jolting him awake. Blood sprayed from the open wounds while Grif screamed and thrashed. The rest of them held him firm while the three unicorns set to work stopping the blood flow and fixing the damage. Sweat poured off their muzzles, but after what felt like an eternity, the three had managed to pull Grif back from the edge of death and stabilize him. The orange pegasus groaned in pain as they gently set him down.
"Is he stable?" Sarge asked, lifting his hooves off Grif. Doc nodded. "Good news..." Sarge said, more to himself then anything. "So everyone's here and alright?" He asked. Everypony nodded. "Good, good news." Sarge repeated. He nodded to himself before finally collapsing in exhaustion. Grif followed suit a moment later. The others seemed to deflate. With Grif out of harm's way, the adrenaline and excitement that had been flowing through their bodies had evaporated. Everypony was drained and it didn't knowing there was still more to be done.
"So what's next?" Simmons grunted out.
"What else? We take care of Masked Lunatic over there, then we start rebuilding the town." Twilight said, gesturing to the Meta and then to the rubble surrounding them.
"While we're at it, can I get a body with unexplodable limbs?" Tex asked.
"Dunno Tex. I think that look suits you." Church replied. Though he didn't have a face to emote with, you could here the smirk in his voice.
"I swear to God, when I get my limbs back, your ass will be a gravel road!" Tex snarled. Church waved a rock hoof and gave a dismissive sigh.
"Guys?" Caboose asked.
"I don't see why a more stable golem can't be created." Twilight said, stepping in. "To be honest, your bodies were made in a very slap-dash-in-a-hurry kind of way."
"Guys?" Caboose asked again.
"As long as I don't have to worry about them getting blown off, I could care less. A few more offensive options would be nice though." Tex stated. Twilight looked uncertain.
"Hey guys!" Caboose exclaimed.
"I'm not to sure I'd feel comfortable about that. Obviously I'll make you next one more sturdy, but as far as attack spells go..."
"Heeeeeey Guuuuiiiizsssss!" Caboose said, drawing out the word.
"FOR FUCK'S SAKE WHAT, CABOOSE?" Church snapped.
"The Meta is up." Caboose stated cheerily. The other ponies spun around to face the Meta. The white and brown unicorn was struggling to his feet. His mane was wild, and he was covered in dirt. With his mask gone, the other ponies saw his eyes were also brown. The Meta snarled at them as his horn sputtered to life. The Mane 6 and the RvB team immediately took up a defensive pose. The Meta snarled again and his horn flashed. The others tensed, and he was gone.
"Where's he gone?" Demanded Tex. They looked around in panic yet couldn't find him. The seconds dragged by as the group became more and more anxious.
"Oh, twitchy-twitchy!" Exclaimed Pinkie Pie. "Somepony's coming!"
"Where? Where's he coming from, Pinkie?" Twilight asked.
"Oh silly! It's a she, not a he!" Pinkie Pie corrected.
"Say what?" Tucker asked. A brilliant flash of light appeared in front of them, and the ponies spun around to face...
"Princess Celestia!" Twilight shouted joyfully. Ignoring usual decorum, she dashed forward and wrapped her hooves around Celestia's neck. To her credit, the alicorn was unfazed.
"Greetings my faithful student-" Celestia glanced around at disaster zone for a moment, then to the rest of the ponies in front of her. "-I take it our troublemaker was dealt with?" Twilight released her mentor and looked away, abashed.
"Well...not exactly..." The lavender unicorn muttered.
"We were able to destroy the entity that gave the Meta alicorn powers. However, the Meta himself escaped." Wash stated, stepping up next to Twilight. Celestia cocked her head in thought.
"With the corrupt entity destroyed, I do not believe we will have to worry too much about this Meta." She said finally. Twilight was about to say something when the Princess interrupted her with a flourish of her wing. "He's come in contact with the Elements of Harmony. I do not care what type of mindset he carries. Nopony leaves an encounter like that without some type of new outlook on life. Not to mention this fight has probably drained him significantly and I suspect it will take a while before he recuperates." Celestia explained.
"Forgive me for questioning your reasoning, your majesty, but the Meta still has the ability to steal other unicorn's powers to recharge himself. What's to stop him from using a string of innocent unicorns to recharge himself for another fight." Wash said evenly. The seemingly flippant way Celestia had dismissed the potential threat of Meta's retaliation perturbed him. Celestia merely flashed him that all-knowing smile of hers that made him want to hug a kitten.
"You are right to worry. But as I have said, one does not leave an encounter with the Elements unscathed." The sun goddess said, a bit more forcefully this time. Wash frowned and looked away. Celestia rolled her eyes in a motherly *They never believe me* way. "Regardless, I doubt the Meta will attack at the moment. Focusing on damage control would be prudent for our next course of action." The Sun goddess stated. Everyone had to agree with that. As violent as the Meta was, he was probably in no shape to go hoof-to-hoof with an all-powerful deity in physical form.
"C'mon girls! It'll be jus' like win'ner wrap-up! 'Cept we're movin' rubble now stead'a snow..." Applejack said, trying to sound motivating.
"I'll go let the mayor know everyone can come out of hiding...er, if that's not too presumptuous..." Fluttershy half-stated/half asked. Twilight nodded and waved the pegasus off. The student turned to her mentor.
"Er, your majesty, if it's not too much to ask, well...can you stick around for a little while? Your presence would help speed the repairs along." Twilight asked. Reconstruction efforts would go much more smoothly if the citizens of Ponyville saw that their goddess was nearby to kick the flank of any troublemaker that showed their muzzles. Celestia considered the request.
"I'm sure my sister can handle the daily business in Canterlot while I oversee rebuilding efforts here." Celestia fought back a smile as she heard the other ponies breath a sigh of relief.
The Meta blinked back into existence. He promptly stumbled over to a tree and heaved. Since he hadn't eaten much, very little came out. The Meta pushed himself off the tree and the world spun. The now-white unicorn staggered but regained his balance. After a moment, his vision stopped swaying and his eyes focused. The Meta wasn't sure how far he had gone, but he certainly wasn't anywhere near Ponyville anymore. He picked a random direction and started a slow trot. As his senses settled, his body began to ache. The unicorn felt more tired then he ever had his entire existence. No doubt a side effect from having the nightmare entity ripped from him. Yet he stubbornly tromped forward. He refused to accept defeat. He had lost to a group of rainbow, peacenik, barnyard animals, and his ever present yet clueless foes. He would not let his own body beat him. Finally a dim light appeared through the thick forest. The way the illumination danced over the foliage, the Meta could tell it was a campfire.
The Meta brushed aside fatigue as adrenaline-fueld caution took over. His eyes darted to and fro, his ears flicking towards the slightest noise. The Meta flattened himself to the ground and slowly began to crawl towards the glow. The scent of apples and oats filled his nose. With the prospect of food egging him on, the Meta snuck to the edge of the camp. Hiding in the shadows, he surveyed the area in front of him. It was an open space surrounded by forest on three sides and a road on the fourth. To his left was a small cart barely large enough to fit a pony if they were curled in a ball. A mish-mash of possessions were both strapped down on and strewn about the cart, making it clear the pony who owned them wasn't very tidy at unpacking. In the center of the clearing was the campfire and the cart's owner. She was hunched over a small cooking pot, occasionally stirring the contents inside with her magic. The Meta could make out some of the things she was mumbling under her breath. "...Great and powerful..." and "...Purple unicorn can go..." were repeated often. Swears, curses, and dark promises livened up the mix. Somehow she looked worse for wear then the Meta did. Taking a chance, he decided to make his presence known.
The Great and Powerful Trixie scowled at the soupy gruel in the pot. Oatmeal-n-apples mix. She hated oatmeal and apples. Grits and berries would have been wonderful. Yet this slop was all she could afford, and she was far too proud to resort to eating grass. Yet. She desperately wanted to scream at the concoction and dump in the woods -or on a certain pony's head- but her stomach reminded her that she should be thankful for the meal. Life after Ponyville had been rough. News had spread far and wide on how she had "bawled in fear from the powerful Ursa major before the Princess' pupil stopped it." Trixie snorted. Ursa MINOR. And at least she had tried to stop the damned thing. Most ponies would have pissed themselves before that. Yet everywhere she went, ridicule and mockery were there to meet her. However, the Great and Powerful Trixie relished the challenge. The debacle had forced her to refine her powers as she constantly had to come up with new and complex ways to humiliate her neighsayers. Yes, this setback had made her a better magician in spite of it all. It still played merry havoc on her coin purse though. One would think creating a water monster from a near-by pond to silence a heckler would fetch more bits, but ponies were awfully stingy about giving money to "the Fraud." She'd nearly killed herself earning enough bits to buy the crummy cart she had now, and decent food was a luxury. Instead, she was forced to eat this this insta-mix garbage; the only foodstuff inside her budget.
Trixie spun around, horn aglow. "WHO DARES APPROACH THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXEeeeeeeeeeeeoh horseapples..." Trixie muttered; her challenge dying on her lips. Before her was what could best be described as a feral unicorn. His scattered, blond mane and sullied white and brown coat added to the image. He let out a growl only wolves should make and then slowly made his way towards her. Finally he stopped a few feet from her and glared at Trixie with blood red -and blood shot- eyes. Trixie finally found her voice. "Care for some oatmeal?"
With the Princess and Twilight overseeing the rebuilding of Ponyville, reconstruction went by much quicker then expected. By evening, nearly all the rubble had been cleared and frames to replace destroyed buildings were in varied stages of completion. As the Moon rose in the sky, Pinkie Pie decided to hold a "Ding dong, the meaniepants is gone" party. Though it was open to all, most were exhausted from rebuilding efforts and chose to return home. Not even the attendance of Princess Celestia could coax them to show. Despite low attendance, the party was in full swing. Though they were tired, both the RvB ponies and Mane 6 were enoying themselves.
"...So how is it possible to have a computer the size of a notepad?" During their mad rush to build the golem bodies for the two AIs, Simmons, Wash, and the others working with Twilight had constantly been comparing her computers to their own. Their comments had quipped her interest, but then wasn't the best time to ask about it. Now, though...
"Well humanity has had dozens of years to perfect the technology and make it more efficient. The first computers built were larger then yours, actually." Simmons replied.
"Do you...think you could build me a smaller computer?" Twilight asked, a bit hopefully. Simmons made a thoughful face.
"Dunno. Microchips and hard-drives are a lot different from crystals and rune. Plus I'd need to relearn how your program code works. Linux was never my strong suit." The maroon pony answered. Twilight looked downcast. "What I'm saying is it would take a while and it'd be an uphill battle the whole way. But it could be doable." Simmons added quickly. Twilight's face lit up. The dual possibilities of a tough challenge for her mental abilities and the prize of portable computers excited her to no end.
"When do you want to start?" She asked, enthusiasm already apparent in her voice.
"Once we finish rebuilding, I guess. I got nothing better to do." Simmons said with a shrug. Twilight squealed in glee, and Simmons forced a smile on his face. 'Why can't I ever meet normal chicks?' He mentally whined.
Back in the kitchen, Caboose held up something one might consider a war crime if you forced someone else to eat it. Pinkie Pie took a bit anyway. She immediately went into spasms. Her body jerked and twitched as foam sprayed from her lips. Caboose watched expectantly. Pinkie Pie then jerked to a stop and bolted upright. She grabbed the tray holding the offending 'foodstuffs' and dumped it into a bag marked "Baked bads."
"Well, I guess snickerdoodles aren't your strong point either." She stated. Caboose slumped in disappointment. Pinkie Pie tried to smooth over the situation. "Oh come on, Caboosey-woosy! Just because you can't make cookies, pies, muffins, cupcakes, rolls, party cake, danish, or toast, doesn't mean you can't bake!" She said encouragingly.
"Yeah, but how long will it take me to find something I'm good at?" The earth pony said glumly. Pinkie Pie smiled.
"Silly pony, you're already good at being a great friend! Don't worry, we'll find more things you're good at, just give it time! Or my name isn't Pinkie Pie!" She exclaimed, one hoof around Caboose's neck, the other pointing skyward. Caboose beamed; his mood raised by the compliment and Pinkie Pie's enthusiasm. "Now let's give scones a try!" The pink earth pony exclaimed, waving around a cookbook. She turned to Grif, who was trying to have a cat-nap on a sack of flour. "Griffy, could you be a nice pony and pick up these supplies from Sugar Cube Corner?" Pinkie Pie asked Grif as she waved a piece of paper with ingredients on it.
"Get bent. I'm not your runner." He snorted. Pinkie Pie was in his face in a second. Eyes wide, pupils shrunk, and hair flat; she gazed into Grif's soul. Grif stared back and saw madness.
"Ponies should be polite and helpful." She said flatly.
"Oh-my, I've-seemed-to-have-left-my-watch-in-your-house. I-shall-go-retrieve-it-and-bring-back-your-supplies-while-I-am-at-it." Grif replied, doing a horrible job of faking an even tone. He grabbed the list and shot off at a speed that would impress Rainbow Dash. Pinkie returned to normal and looked back at Caboose.
"Like Granny Pie said, all you have to do is ask nicely." Caboose, long accustomed to psychopaths, nodded in agreement.
Meanwhile, Princess Celestia stood in a corner by herself. She had made it clear she was not to be waited on. And after greeting her and shaking hooves, most of the ponies at the party were too exhausted from the day to do much else. The only pony who still had the energy to hover around the Princess, Twilight, was busy discussing technical details of those new-fangled computhingies with Simmons. Celestia knew Twilight's heart was in the right place when her student would try to wait her, but even Celestia needed a moment to herself. Secretly she was glad Simmons had distracted Twilight. Celestia took a sip of the punch Pinkie Pie made and noticed Wash slowly worm his way towards her.
"Your majesty." He said, bowing. Celestia motioned for him to rise.
"Ah, good eve Agent Washington. What do you require?" She asked.
"Your majesty, I was hoping we could have a chat." Wash said. He looked around, then added "Privately." Celestia smiled serenely and nodded. Inwardly she chuckled. It had been centuries since she'd last talked to some creature with Wash's mindset, and she knew exactly what he was going to ask.
"Of course. Though I prefer if you call me Princess. 'Majesty' just sounds so stuffy." Celestia motioned to a nearby door.
"Sounds reasonable enough, 'Princess'." Wash said as they made their way to the door. Once outside into the cool night air, they found a vacant spot near the library and sat down.
"So my little pony, what troubles you?" Celestia sounded a million times more motherly then Wash's own ever had. He figured it was a deflection tactic and shrugged it off.
"If you would me to be so bold, why couldn't you have handled the Meta yourself, Princess?" He asked. The hidden question wasn't so much as hidden as it was painted over. Sloppily. The Princess breathed deeply and looked at the night sky.
"You are questioning my power and ability. You wonder if I am actually as powerful as they say I am." It was a statement, not a question.
"I'm nothing if not a skeptic. And I've had my fill of lies and smokescreens for this lifetime." Wash said, sounding more bold then he felt. There was a tiny voice in the back of his mind screaming that Celestia was everything she claimed and more. However Wash would not have peace of mind until he got confirmation. One way or another. Celestia's chuckle snapped him out of his revelry.
"So you wish for a show of power?" Celestia asked. The next thing Wash knew they weren't in Ponyville anymore. They were on the top of a mountain somewhere. Suddenly he was aware of Celestia looming over him, and that he had been staring at the ground. He looked up and felt the need to cringe. Celestia was different. She wasn't physically bigger, but her mere presence felt immense and crushing. Her skin seemed to crackle and flicker like fire, and her eyes burned like the sun. Despite the high altitude they were at, the air felt oppressively hot and smothering. "Perhaps..." Her voice and abandoned any pretense of gentleness. It was booming like a thousand cannons, as quiet as wind whispering through the forest, and everything in between. "...you should be asking yourself if you really want a true demonstration." Celestia continued. Her voice made Wash want to run away and hug her at the same time. "What are you? A puny mortal. A drop in the ocean of time and space. And you DARE question my authenticity?" Wash could feel the tips of his hair burning. "Me, a divine creature, the co-creator of this realm, the master of the very sun and all its powers? To gaze upon but a fraction of my true being would cause your flimsy mind to shatter, and you have the GALL to demand a sign of my abilities?" Her voice was deafening. Wash felt like he was spinning in a million different directions all at once. His very being was stretched out and scrunched together all at the same time. And then it all stopped.
Wash hugged the ground and vomited. He stumbled upright, heaved some more, and found himself facing Celestia, the pony princess, once again. She wore that soft smile of hers that made one feel like they could fall asleep in her hooves. "You are wise and right to demand proof. Blind obedience helps make my job easier, but sometimes I find myself disappointed with my children's lack of doubt." She said with a chuckle. Wash found he could look at her now without wanting to sob in joy and horror. "As to the question you asked...well, I don't want my children to be defenseless, feeble-minded foals. If I always solved their problems for them, they would never grow or learn or do anything besides chew grass all day. Make sense?" She asked. Wash nodded. Celestia smiled and pointed a wing over to Twilight's Library. Wash wasn't sure when it had happened, but they were back in Ponyville. "Now, shall we return to the party?" Celestia asked. Wash shook his head.
"I think...I think I'd like to get some sleep, actually." He replied slowly. Celestia attempted to stop a giggle from escaping. "Uh, one more thing though-" Wash felt unsure how to continue, feeling greatly humbled by his recent experience. The mischievously raised eyebrow Celestia was giving him didn't help either. "-What about the Meta?" Celestia lost the cheeky look and replaced it with somber determination.
"Everypony deserves a second chance. What Agent Maine does with his is up to him. Should he squander it and continue to hound my subjects, I shall have no choice but do deal with him. It is not the type of action I take lightly. But I hope he abandons his old tendencies and finds a new road to travel." Wash was about to object, when memories of the past 10 minutes assaulted him. Princess Celestia could probably destroy the Meta with a hard glare. Then another thought struck him.
"How did you know his name was agent Maine?" He asked.
"A lady can't reveal all her secrets, agent." Celestia said mischievously. Wash figured that was the best he was going to get out of her. "So what of you, agent Washington? What will your plans for the future be?" She asked. Wash drew a momentary blank.
"Truthfully, I'm not to sure. I doubt they'll find a way to get back to my own universe, and as nice as it is, I don't want to stay in Ponyville." He replied.
"If you are interested, I'm sure I can find a spot for you in the Royal Guard." Celestia offered. Wash mulled it over before shaking his head.
"Thanks, but I've had my fill of playing soldier. I suppose I'll just wander. Do handyman-er-pony stuff. Besides, I'm sure there's a hidden danger or two through-out the land." He said. Celestia raised an eyebrow.
"Indeed. Though I suggest you not actively search for them. Such things can lead to problems for my ponies, and as I've just told you-" Celestia brought her face eye level to Wash's. "-I won't abide troublemakers in my kingdom. Understand?" Wash nodded rapidly. Somehow Celestia pulled off being intimidating and motherly at the same time. Wash suspected he would never learn how she did it.
"Right, well Princess, I'm rooming at Sweet Apple Acres right now. So I'll just head on over there then." The grey unicorn responded. "And not cause any trouble at all." He added as sincerely as he could. Celestia nodded with a pleased smile.
"I'll give them your regards." She responded. Wash put on a fake grin and slowly backed away from her.
"I appreciate it, Princess. Now, if you'll excuse me..." He said as he tried to trot away non-nonchalantly. Celestia waited until after he was out of hearing range before she let loose a stream of giggles. She wished Wash's type would come around more often. The alicorn got no end of pleasure having a bit of fun at a skeptic's expense. With a final chuckle, she walked back into the library.
When she got there, she found that most of the crowd had left, with the exception of the Element bearers, the RvB ponies, and locals Bon-bon and Lyra who Sarge had managed to trap into a corner and was busy regaling them with cheery stories on the different methods he had devised to kill people. "...and so after ya boil his feet 'n oil, you take his hands 'n' stick 'em in'a meat-grinder. Then ya cook the ground hands in tah 'Handburgers' -heh heh- and feed it to 'em. Course, ya poison the burgers first. An' that's method number 129." His 'audience' were struggling to keep their food in their stomachs. Celestia came to their rescue.
"Ah, my dear Sarge. I believe these two young mares are quite exhausted from today's events. As interested as they seem in your tales, it would be best to let them on their way." She advised.
"'Ah reckon' your right, Princess." He said, turning back to Lyra and Bon-bon. "Ya'll head on home. Can't 'ave tired troops!" The two mares nodded, shooting a grateful look at their ruler before making a beeline to the door.
"We're moving. Tonight." Bon-bon hissed to Lyra.
"Can I throw up first?" Lyra responded.
"Sure, but I call dibs on the toliet." The cream colored earth pony said.
"What am I supposed to use then?" Her unicorn friend asked.
"Why do you think Berry Punch has all those trash cans around her house?"
Back in the Library, Celestia had summoned all the others to her. " As pleasant as this evening has been, I'm afraid I must make my leave. I have full confidence in my sister's leadership skills. But the nobles and aristocrats inhabiting my court will start trying to pull fast ones over her the longer I'm gone. Intelligent as she is, I fear one of their obsured requests will manage to slip past. Then everypony will be paying a tax for red cake frosting or something like that." The Princess stated, sounding just the tiniest bit irritated. The other ponies nodded.
"It's been a honor to have you visit us, your majesty!" Twilight exclaimed. "I hope you'll come again soon once we've rebuilt Ponyville."
"Yes your eminence. One such as yourself shouldn't have to look at what a mess this town is. You simply must return once it's been restored proper!" Rarity added. The rest of the mane 6 nodded in agreement. Celestia gave a warm smile.
"Fear not, my ponies. Restoring Ponyville will be at the top of my to-do list. And once it is repaired, I'll definitely be returning to visit." She said. The others cheered. Celestia turned her attention to the RvB ponies. "Now then, what shall you all be up to?" She asked. "You three seemed to be rather inclined to fight. I could use ponies such as yourselves for my Royal Guard." She said to Church, Tex, and Sarge. "You especially seem like the type I could use to train recruits." Celestia told Sarge. 'On what a guard isn't supposed to be, anyway.' She thought. To her surprise, Sarge declined.
"Thank ye kindly for the offer, Princess. But Ponyville needs me more!" The red earth pony exclaimed. The others gave him a questioning look. "What happens if the Meta or somepony like 'em comes 'ere again? Ponyville's defenseless! What this town needs is a militia."
"I assume you would be taking the mantel of 'Militia leader'?" Celestia asked.
"You bet'cha, Princess." Sarge replied enthusiastically.
"Well I suppose it's not a bad idea." The alicorn stated, despite the silently mouthed "no" that everypony was giving her. "You will, of course, be answerable to the Mayor and run all your requests through her." Celestia stated firmly. 'Note to self: Have Twilight and they Mayor watch him like a hawk.' She thought.
" 'Course Princess. Now if ya'll excuse me, I gotta go design some Grifpults." He said, sounding excited.
"Don't you mean 'Catapults'?" Twilight asked. Sarge paused and thought for a minute.
"Hmm, reckon 'ah oughta design some of those, too." The earth pony mused. In the back ground, Grif rolled his eyes. Celestia cleared her throat and turned her attention to the other two she had addressed.
"And what of you two?"
"Eh, I think I'm just going to kick back and relax. I finally got a body back, and I aim to enjoy it. So thanks, but no thanks, Princess." Church responded. The Sun Goddess shrugged and looked at Tex. The Golem pony's legs had been hastily fixed by Twilight, allowing her to move about freely. Tex seemed to ponder Celestia's request.
"Is it possible to get a real, organic body to put me into?" She finally asked.
"Yes, but it takes time and-" The Princess began.
"Get me a body that lets me feel again and I'll join your little guard club." Tex interrupted. The mane 6 balked at Tex's blunt tone. Celestia didn't seem to mind. These ponies were a breath of fresh air after spending centuries surrounded by pomp, stuffy decorum, and ponies addressing her like she was going to banish them. Obviously it wouldn't do for them to talk to her like that in public, but in private was a different matter.
"A flesh Golem in exchange for loyalty to me...That sounds like a deal to me, Agent Texas." Celestia responded. Celestia looked at the remaining RvB ponies. "And what of the rest of you? What are your plans for the future?"
"I'm going to be making science Twillit." Simmons stated. Twilight cringed. Also, one really couldn't 'make' science.
"I'm gonna be a baker!" Caboose exclaimed. Everypony seemed to wince, and Pinkie Pie struggled to keep a look of pain from replacing her smile.
"I'm teaching him, don't worry!" The party pony added. Everypony relaxed. If only a little.
"I'm going to be working at the medical clinic. I'm sure I'll be a big help over there." Doc explained.
"I'm going to nap and eat snacks" Grif mumbled.
"I'm gonna pick up some sweet mare flank, bow-chika-wow-wow!" Tucker said, seemingly oblivious to present company.
"I'm going to make sure these two bozos actually do some work." Dash hissed. Celestia only smiled. Inwardly she chuckled. Both from the RvB antics, and the embarrassed looks the Mane 6 were making.
"Well, I can clearly see everything is under control here. I would love to stay, but I simply must head back to Canterlot before a noble slips something silly past my sister." Princess Celestia said. "Good luck to all of you. And Twilight Sparkle, I shall look forward to your progress reports keeping me updated on the situation." She said. Before anypony, especially Twilight could say anything, the Sun Goddess had teleported away. For a moment, all was quiet, before Grif broke the silence.
"So, I guess work means we're weather ponies now?" He asked.
"Yup." Dash said firmly.
"I'll weather your pony! Bow-chika-wo-"*Smack* Was all Tucker could get out before Dash hit him.
-A month later-
Twilight strolled through the new streets of Ponyville. The last of the damages had been fixed a week ago, and now ponies were adding the finishing touches such as paint and decorations. Foals laughed and played, shops were open for business, and the cloud that had settled over the town when the Meta had attacked had all but vanished. The newest additions to the town had settled in nicely. Well, sort of. Doc had it the easiest. With his upbeat demeanor and potent healing magic, he quickly won over the town's respect and trust. He was living out of a spare room in the clinic, but some of the ponies in the town were working on building a small house for him. Rarity had initially insisted he stay in her boutique, but Doc had politely refused. He stated that 'Guest and fish start to smell the same after three days' and informed the fashionista that he wouldn't overstay his welcome.
Caboose was also fitting in, if only just. Working with Pinkie Pie, he'd finally found something he was good at making: Doughnuts. They could give Pony Joe a run for his money and the treats became an instant hit in town. However, his behavior and clumsiness alienated him from the other ponies. Mr. and Mrs. Cake had nearly threw him out when he accidentally destroyed their kitchen, but Pinkie had gone to bat for him. Right now, his bit-making doughnuts were really the only reason the Cakes put up with him. Aside from his teammates, Pinkie Pie was really the only one who enjoyed his company. For that, Caboose was utterly loyal to the random party pony. They had become brother and sister and inseparable.
Speaking of inseparable, Simmons and herself had been spending so much time in her lab working on creating new technology, unscrupulous rumors were starting to circulate. True she did enjoy Simmons' company on an intellectual level, but he was a bit too...clingy? He always needed a 'pat on the back', so to speak. He also became insufferably snarky when he felt his contributions weren't appreciated. And considering the fact that when Sarge would burst into their lab demanding Simmons double-check his newest 'device,' Simmons would drop everything and rush off to comply. Twilight suspected Simmons had self-worth issues.
And Sarge...That pony...the mayor had her hooves full trying to keep him in line. His 'Ponyville Militia' had one member. Himself. Most prospective members had been driven off by his bossy, dismissive attitude. The few who had stayed left, fearing for their safety. Sarge's usual plans were as dangerous as they were absurd. Davenport, the owner of Quills and Sofas, had remarked to Twilight that 'His plans are so insane they they somehow made sense. It's frightening on a level I can't describe.' Speaking of plans, whether it was lava filled pitfalls, trained security manticores, or 'motion-tracking Gatling turrets', the schemes Sarge came up on a daily basis to keep the town 'safe' usually promised to ensure it's destruction. Usually if his plan involved a mechanical component, the Mayor would invite Twilight over to access the device's usefulness. Some were clever; ingenious even. All, however, promised horrible consequences if they backfired. And a good chunk of them also involved Grif getting injured or killed. The thing that had driven the remaining ponies away from Sarge's militia was his class named "Grif and you: The impact Grif holds on the modern battlefield". No pony stayed after the section titled "Grif: Emergency food source." Perhaps most horrifying was the fact that Sarge had written down Grif based recipes. It was another thing she would never understand. Once she had asked Simmons about it. The stallion replied it had and would always be like that. When Twilight asked for specific reasons, Simmons shrugged, then rambled about how it was because Grif was lazy and never took orders.
Twilight decided if she accepted Simmons' explanation, she'd lose faith in the power of friendship. The purple mare had gone to Grif, hoping he'd have more insight on the matter. His response to her inquiry? "Sarge is a dick. What's so strange about that?" She had launched into a tirade about how friends don't treat other friends like this, before Grif interrupted her and explained that the red team were comrades, not friends. And only if comrades meant people who hate each other forced to band together when facing dire situations. Twilight was about to argue some more before Dash had stopped by and griped about how Twilight was distracting one of her 'workers.' Sometimes Twilight could imagine them brother and sister. They were both snarky, loudmouthed, and procrastinating. Then again, Dash actually had a real goal she drove for. Not to mention she was incredibly athletic. Whereas Grif was unmotivated and one of the pudgiest pegasi Twilight had ever seen. Similar yet completely different...Yep, definitely could be mistaken for siblings. Or one of those weird comedy mismatch romance stories that were in a lot of Rarity's romance novels.
If Grif and Dash could be confused for siblings, then Tucker was that sleaze who kept hitting on Dash and never got the hint. No matter how many facepunches he got. In the month he had been in town, nearly every mare grew a scowl at the mere mention of his name. The only ones who didn't seem bothered by him were Ditzy the malemare and Pinkie Pie. Both would just laugh off whatever ridiculous pick-up line Tucker had thrown at them and go on their way. Actually, Twilight was beginning to suspect Ditzy enjoyed Tucker's flirting. Not to many stallions were lining up to offer the cross-eyed mare pick-up lines. She'd even been able to sucker muffins out of him on a few occasions. Perhaps the only reason why the ladies of the town hadn't formed a lynch mob yet was that Tucker was fast becoming an excellent weather-pegasus. He was already 3rd best in town. Obviously he would never be at Rainbow Dash's level, but he had managed to clear the skies one day in 38 seconds flat. Still a mean feat. He'd been asked how he did it. Tucker responded "The sky's like a beautiful lady. You just gotta put the right moves on her and she'll spread right open for you. Bow-chika-wow-wow!" This was at Miss Cheerielee's class. The teacher had thrown him out a window shortly after. Unfortunately, Tucker still had one more zinger. "Wanna show me what else you can do with those hooves? Bow-chika-wow-wow!" The whole class gained a new respect for their teacher and her now "infamous throwing-hoof." Twilight had asked Church if Tucker had ever been any different. The golem's respond was exactly the same as Simmons'. Things had been that way since as long as they could remember.
Church seemed to be settling in only because he had been avoiding Ponyville all together. Twilight had been shocked beyond words when he announced he was leaving with the fully healed Zecora back to her hut in Everfree Forest. Zecora had been taken by surprise, not ever guessing that someone would wish to live with her. "Your guess, Ms Sparkle, is as good as mine. Hopefully this golem's intentions shall be revealed in time." Twilight wondered if it was for 'soul searching.' If he even had one. From what Twilight understood, he was actually an electronic copy of somepony else; or person as they said. It had gotten confusing after that. Whatever his reason, Church didn't say. His only request for Twilight was that she contact him if an organic body could be made for himself. Outside of that, nopony had a clue what Church was doing.
Another pony to leave town was Tex. Immediately after the clean-up had finished, royal guards had shown up and hauled the golem away. Last Twilight had heard, Tex had started a hoof-to-hoof combat program for the Royal Guard. Tex's cover story was that she was a pony who's soul had been trapped into a golem after an attempt to transmute dirt to bits went wrong. The imaginary pony had also apparently been a vivid fighter. When Tex's new combat training had started, injuries had risen in the Royal Guard by nearly 20%. Though from what she heard, Princess Celestia was very pleased with the way the class was progressing. Celestia was also keen on upholding her end of the bargain, and had been sending Twilight details on what had been learned on creating a new, organic body to host a soul in. Most of the information in general had been hard to come by. Creating a functioning, souless body was a technique usually employed by dark cults trying to bring monsters into Equestria. As such, most information on the subject was usually destroyed when it surfaced. Still, with some of Canterlot's brightest minds, and help from herself, Twilight was certain a breakthrough was imminent.
Musing on the fates of the newcomers, she reached the last one: Wash. The 'Freelancer' had taken up residence on the Apple farm, living in a room he'd built into the barn. He had become quite proficient at applebucking, plowing, seeding, and other farm duties despite being a unicorn. Applejack had said he had a "green horn." In addition to doing chores to pay for his rent, Wash had spent most of his free time at Twilight's library reading spell-book after spell-book. His grasp of magic spells was growing at a near frightening pace. Twilight had 'casually' mentioned it in one of her letters to Celestia, figuring the Sun Goddess would want to be informed. The Princess had written back, telling her student not to worry, and that she and Wash had already had a talk before she left. Applejack had also vouched for him. "Shoot, Twi', sure 'es a lil' rough round the edges, but 'es tryin'." However, Twilight couldn't shake the feeling that he was just sticking around until something that suited his needs better came along. Twilight groaned. Confound these new ponies. Life was so much simpler when it was just her friends and a weekly crisis to solve. A rock interrupted her internal evaluation of the past month when she tripped over it. After a moment of stumbling, Twilight realized she was almost at the edge of Ponyville. She had been so wrapped up in thought she had completely walked past the Market square without even noticing. Twilight sighed and turned around to head back. And found herself face-to-face with Ditzy Doo.
"Oh, uh, hey Ditzy. How are you?" Twilight asked. She noticed Ditzy's bulging saddlebags and remembered it was a Saturday. "How are you working today? Did the delivery days change?" She queried.
"Improper input!" Ditzy stated. "Different contract. Side quest to gain monetary for Dinky's grand muffin shock!" The mare continued. She reached into her bag and stuck a paper on Twilight's horn. "Free sample!" She chirped, before taking off towards Trottingham. Twilight made a face and pulled the paper of her horn. She knew Ditzy had a speaking disability, but her behavior was just odd sometimes. Shaking her head, Twilight glanced at the paper. Her stomach dropped, and she took off.
"Alright Twi, everyone's here. So what's up?" Rainbow Dash announced as Rarity and Doc passed through the door. The RvB ponies and the mane 6 had all gathered into the library after Twilight had informed them she had an important discovery to share with them.
"Yeah, you're cutting into some serious nap time here." Grif added. He ignored the scowl from Dash.
"I shall have to agree with Rainbow. The fall clothing line is just around the corner and I simply must have everything ready before then." Rarity chimed in.
"Alright, alright, calm down." Twilight stated. "I've come across something very important that I think you should all know about. And that is this:" She held up the poster that Ditzy had given her. The other ponies gasped in shock.
"SEE THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE: MASTER MAGICIAN! AND HER AWE-INSPIRING ASSISTANT, IRON MANE: THE UNICORN WITH THE STRENGTH OF TEN EARTH PONIES! " The poster brazenly declared. The top half showed Trixie rearing up in a cocky, aggressive manner. Her face was both triumphant and conceited; a sneering grin spread across her features. 'Iron Mane' looked both smug and viscous as he gripped two 50 pound weights in his mouth. The jumble of Greek symbols on his flank was all the evidence the group needed to come to the correct conclusion.
"Meta!" Church exclaimed.
"What the Pickadilly is the Meta doin' ina circus?" Sarge grumbled.
"Weightlifting, it seems." Rarity remarked dryly.
"Who's the chick?" Simmons asked.
"Some ol' windbag by th'name a Trixie. She used 'er magic ta humiliate other ponies til Twi here sen'ner packin." Applejack explained.
"A magician? Well I gotta few tricks I'd like to show her. Bow ch-*" By now, most of the ponies had been able to anticipate Tucker's usual response. And Applejack silenced by stuffing an apple into his mouth. She ignored the look of indignant rage.
"But why would the Meta be traveling with a egotistical magician as a sideshow? What does he stand to gain?" Doc asked.
"I'm not sure, but I do know one thing-" Twilight replied. "-Their next show is in Trottingham in a few days. Anypony wanna see a magic show?" She asked the crowd, the fire of adventure burning in her eyes. The other ponies exchanged a few glances before looking back to Twilight.
"Shoot, Twi, ya know ah wouldn't leave ya in the lurch, but harvestin' seasons coming up 'n' Big Mac needs mah help tah buck all them apples." Applejack said despondently.
"And I simply have a slew of work I need to accomplish. Not to mention what happened the last time I ran across that horrible witch. You know I'd love to go, but I have too many responsibilities." Rarity said with an over-dramatic sigh.
"Don't worry guys! I got this covered. I got a few days of leave saved up anyway. Trottingham, here I come!" Dash exclaimed, boxing air.
"Well, um...I guess that...well maybe I might be able to go..." Fluttershy said "As long as Angel knows I'm gone." She muttered. When Fluttershy had returned home to a wrecked kitchen and Angel, covered in bits of food, sleeping on a pile of random vegetables. She had not been pleased.
"Oh YES! I love epic adventures! The random encounters! Side quests! Slaying boss monsters! Tavern drinking contests! Rescuing a pretty mare in distress! Oooh, that reminds me. I need to go get my plus +5 minstrel barding! Be right back Twilight! Don't leave without me!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, before mysteriously vanishing.
"That chick creeps me the fuck out..." Tucker muttered, having consumed the fruit Applejack had silenced him with.
"Moving along. So I have Dash and Pinkie. Anypony else?" Twilight said quickly. Tucker shrugged and raised his hoof. As did Simmons.
"We need to find out what the Meta is up to. Count me in." Wash said, speaking for the first time.
"Sooner the Meta's down, the safer the town is. Ah'm in!" Sarge bellowed.
"Sorry, but Rarity will probably need help with her designs. And the clinic needs somepony to fill in for nurse Redheart since she's taking a vacation. Good luck though." Doc explained. Caboose was nowhere to be seen. He'd gone after Pinkie Pie. Though one could assume since Pinkie was going, so was he. That left Grif and Church.
"Love to go, but I think I'm a bit conspicuous." Church stated. The others nodded. It made sense. All eyes turned to Grif.
"Pfft, as if you jerks would let me stay." He grumbled, glaring first at Dash, then at Sarge.
"You need the exercise." Retorted Dash. Grif cursed under his breath.
"Then it's settled!" Twilight declared, ignoring the growing spat between Grif and Dash. "Pack your bags fillies and colts, we're going to Trottingham!"
To be continued NEVER! Well, maybe. I doubt it though. I might get some inspiration to write the above mentioned story arc, but I honestly doubt it. Who knows. I really don't like this chapter either. I ran out of ideas and the whole thing feels forced. But I knew I had to finish it somehow and this was the only thing I could think of. Feels like I ran out of good dialogue too. What can you do? Anyway, rock out bronies!