We begin our story during the nighttime, in a dark alley. Quite dank, too. The recent downpour upon the grimy city had filled the air with moisture and sent the gutters running with foul water, disturbing the inebriated bums who made their perch there. They stirred and gripped their paper-bag-wrapped bottles tighter, pulling their ragged garments closer to their bodies, away from the unforgiving cold of the concrete jungle. In the distance, sirens sounded. To a resident, this sound was not uncommon. In fact, it would be quite jarring to go at least an hour through the night and not hear one. Their far-off wail was like a lullaby, a nocturnal birdsong for the resting populace; a soothing ambiance for the waking. The smell of motor vehicles hung thick in the air. Fetid. Choking. Unbearable. Yet, not one seemed to mind. They were born breathing the stink. They lived in it. They died in it. Even as it coated one's skin and left an uncomfortable, unwashable feeling crawling over one's flesh, it was just another thing they bore without a thought. Clouds, both natural and of smog, listed over the night sky. They glazed over the tall skyscrapers of the city's center, where all the beautiful people lived and worked and partied and partook in every hedonistic venture under the moon. The people on the ground, the gutter scrapers, the bottom feeders, the jobless, the homeless, the hopeless... they are left to look up and dream while writhing in their needles, their powders, their own malodorous pleasures.

There was flash within the aforementioned alley. Not a particularly bright or blinding flash, though. A blip, like someone flipped a switch and a light bulb went dead in a more-brilliant-than-usual flair of white, leaving only a darkened room. No loud sounds were heard. No crack of discharging energy, no gunshot of deafening power. Just a small, strange whistle, accompanied by a low buzz. No one witnessed it. No one considered the perplexing image of a small, young woman suddenly in a place where she was not before. Nobody saw her stagger on all fours through the empty alley in a severely out-of-place yellow sundress. The garment itself looked homemade: nice enough to look good and function as clothing, but carried telltale signs of hand-stitching and, in some places, poor foresight and tailoring skills. The dress was probably not the best choice for the weather, either. Summer was quickly turning into Autumn. The air was getting colder, the wind harsher. Soon, rain would turn to snow and the citizens would don whatever winter clothing they have as they went about their business. If witnesses were present, one could also note the strange color of this girl's hair as she shakily rose to her soft, bare feet. Mint, with a stripe of white across the top. Its stylization was nearly immaculate, firm without a hint of hair product, as if it was tediously cared for every morning and subjected to unknown maintenance rituals that the average fashionista would do questionable things to obtain. The girl stumbled backwards a bit, her arms stretched in an attempt to balance herself or, at the very least, catch something to hold onto. She did; her grasping fingers found purchase on the side of a dumpster. She breathed heavily. Then, the girl sniffed the air, made a face, and concluded that this object she was leaning on was not something she wanted to be around. After backing up, she seemed to have gotten a feel for standing upright and paused for a moment of silence.

Lyra Heartstrings looked down at her hands. Her hands! A smile crept on her new face. The spell had worked! It had turned her into one of them! Exactly the way she had envisioned it. She brought them up to her flat, human face, drawing a mental image of what she looked like with her fingers. She brought them down, tracing the curves of the rest of her body, down to her exposed shins. Her new, hairless skin was light, soft, tingly to the touch. In fact, she felt tingly all over. Weird. Must be the aftereffect of the magic. It had, after all, simultaneously transformed her into a human and transported her to the human world. Quite a magically taxing accomplishment. Speaking of which, she twisted around, fumbling her footing a bit, taking in the sights and smells and sounds of this grand new place.

It was... not what she expected. The place looked a lot like Manehattan, but it was somehow... darker. Perpetually darker. And smellier. The acrid smoke that wafted into her nostrils made her want to sneeze and gag at the same time. There was a constant blanket of noise going on beyond the surrounding walls. Rumbles, honks, and squealing of unknown origin... it put her on edge.

But that was not going to deter her. Even as her bare, smooth feet were suffering from the cold and the jagged surface of the wet alleyway, she kept her head level. There was no turning back now. Her hand drifted to her forehead, where her horn was a moment ago. It was no longer there. She was no longer capable of performing magic, no longer capable of returning to Ponyville with Bon-Bon and Twilight and Derpy and all the rest of her friends-

She bit her thoughts back and shoved them out of her mind. She was no longer Lyra the unicorn, no longer a citizen of Equestria. She was Lyra the human, ready to make her way in this human-filled world! She would be brave, stalwart. She would find her place in this city without the use of magic! She would...

Where was she, anyway?

Her arms shot out, perpendicular to her body, as she gracelessly tried to keep herself from falling on her face. Back bent and flat footed, she walked down the narrow alleyway. She needed to get this walking upright thing down before somepony-correction: someone-saw her. What a sight to other humans she must have been, she thought. Staggering around like a newborn foal. Not a pony foal, those can usually walk seconds after birth. A human foal. She learned that they need to develop that skill over a year or so. She couldn't blame them! This was hard! How they ever found out how to do this is a mystery to her. But, after a few more step down the frigid corridor, she was able to establish a sort-of rhythm. Lyra tried stopping. She bent forward a bit, her arms circling in wide strokes while she attempted to catch the air and prevent an unwanted faceplant. Fortunately, she succeeded, and stood upright. Next she tried walking again. It was easier than last time and she didn't have to hold her arms out too much for balance. She stopped. Again, it was easier. Euphoric from her progress so far, she tried walking backwards.

"Oof!"

"That didn't work," she thought to herself, cautiously pushing herself off the ground while rubbing her tender rump. She wasn't going to try that again for a while.

Something on the wall caught her eye. It wasn't hard to notice, as it took up a good space upon the wall. Sheets of paper plastered over one another. She stepped closer. They were all the same: weathered, slightly soggy, all containing the same... unnerving collection of things. Robots, a tentacle, fur-covered bipeds, some regular humans (one with a beard and a really tall black hat), a... decapitated head with snakes for hair, a scaly large-eyed thing... was that a minotaur on the left? How strange. Each of them had large, stylized lettering that took up a large portion of the poster, as if it wanted to shout it to all passerbyers.

"CLUTCH: Live in Gotham"

What was a "Clutch", she wondered, and "Gotham"? What were they? Then, it dawned on her. She felt like kicking herself for not drawing the conclusion. The human world was a lot like her world. Either inhabitant could point out that this was a concert poster! A live performance by Clutch in Gotham. Was that where she was? Gotham... she kinda liked the name. It sounded... fitting for the impression she was provided so far.

Her brow furrowed as she realized that the tingling sensation all over her skin was still there. Like countless needles lightly poking her, leaving no mark. She would be lying if she said it wasn't bothering her, but she forced herself to ignore it. It'll go away in time. She was sure of it.

Now that she had an idea of where she was, Lyra decided to press onward. The alley she appeared in didn't seem to have a clear exit into the open, so she picked a direction and-falteringly-began to march. The scenery didn't change much. The tall brick walls still loomed over her, the ever-present racket beyond was still drilling into her eardrums. She caught something new. A soft, thumping beat somewhere close-by. It sounded like... music? It reminded her of what Vinyl Scratch would play in her home. Loud, blaring electronic melodies that would shake her whole body and rattle her lungs. As she inched closer to the sharp, 90 degree turn where it seemed to be emanating from, she started to catch some of the treble. It was talking. Lyrics. Sounded... entrancing. Catchy. The deep, husky voice projected itself over the looping beats, rhyming, sometimes saying words she didn't understand. Before long, she caught herself tapping her foot, bobbing her head with the tempo of the song. Another thought hit her: where there's music, there must be people listening to it! Yes! She could hear regular voices talking above the bassy noise, but couldn't make out exactly what they were saying. Lyra smiled and walked towards the bend some more...

She stopped herself, causing her to nearly lose the balance she had worked so hard to obtain. She crept up to the corner and flattened her back to the wall. She couldn't just go running up to the nearest human like a bumbling idiot! "Hi, my name's Lyra Heartstrings! I used to be a magical unicorn pony from another world who got here via an ancient, possibly forbidden spell!" Nu-uh. She needed to think this through. She needed to find a way to approach them with tact and dignity. She...

She was scared. Heart-poundingly terrified. The constant tingling seemed to grow slightly more intense. What if they can tell she was not originally human? What if they don't accept her? What if she insults them unknowingly through a bad greeting or an unintentional gesture? Lyra didn't know what to do. She mentally slapped herself. "Get it together! You've gotten this far, and there's no turning back! Take the first step!" She knew that, from this this point, there would be some trial-and-error. So what? That's how we all learn! She'd blunder through their customs, but she'll learn them, too. Before long, it would be as if she was born here! With this new perspective, she felt a little better, but not much. Her limbs were still paralyzed with anxiety.

This tingling. Celestia, this tingling! She realized her hands were up, scratching both of her arms furiously. She forced herself to stop, but her face began to twitch with discomfort. It just wouldn't go away! Why won't it go away? Was it something in the air that was causing this? Did all humans feel it, but were just used to it? Dear Celestia, she hoped not. She'd go crazy from this constant sensation, this aggravating pins-and-needles horseapples! It felt itchy beneath her skin! She just wish there was a bunch of hands all over her body, scratching every place at the same time. So many writhing digits caressing her soft flesh all at once-

No! Dirty thoughts, begone! Lyra needed a clear head to go and make first contact with these people. First, she was dying to know what they looked like. The young woman tentatively tilted her head around the corner, gingerly peeking over the brick-and-mortar surface to catch a quick glimpse of whoever was out there, listening to that catchy music...

Her head whipped back into hiding. Her chest was thumping wildly, threatening to burst. She saw them. She actually saw them! Well, not much of them, but she now knew there was more than one of them. Lyra caught some of their features, mostly their clothing. Quite a lot considering the nighttime darkness. They were dressed in mostly dark colors, with strange flairs of bright ones, like on a hat or shoes or an arm-band. And wow, they wore a lot of clothing. Jackets, shirts, pants, pants under their pants, belts, gloves, sunglasses... Why all the clothes? Maybe it was a status thing, how much clothing you had on. If that was the case, she was staggeringly underdressed. Only a simple dress and that was it. Lyra was beginning to feel inadequate.

"Well, that can't be helped," she thought. She thought about rearing around for another look, but she decided she was done hiding. She had to confront other humans, eventually. She had to, so she might as well do it now. It probably wasn't too much different from meeting a pony. Oh, what will they say to her? What will they think of her? These thoughts and more filled her with both excitement and trepidation. She regulated her breathing and pushed the doubts from her mind, along with the cold and the tingling on her skin. She bit her fears down and stuck her leg forward, past the sanctuary of the wall. One bare foot after another, she rigidly forced herself out into the open, out where she could be seen by all. She stopped, turned, opened her clenched eyes, and spoke.

"Umm... Hi."

Immediately, their idle conversation ceases and all heads snapped in her direction. Lyra tried not to tremble, but the tingling made it hard. It was still tormenting her, but, despite its overbearing presence, it was the last thing that was on her mind. Their faces! They were all shaped differently, all so unique! So much more detail and individuality than pony features! They were just subtle differences, like the shape of the jaw, the size of the nose, the way their mouth looked, and the depth of the brow, but even these made them seem miles apart! Their skin! They came in so many colors: pallid, caramel, bronze, chocolate... there was one who look who was almost the color of coal! They came in all shapes and sizes as well. Some stood tall and meaty, their bare arms glistening with sweat, muscles, and sometimes markings that seemed to be etched onto their skin. Others were gaunt and skinny, their eyes seemed to ferret this way and that. One of them was short and kinda pudgy, wearing a face that seemed to have a permanent sneer. There didn't seemed to be any females, but then again, she was just going off of what she looked like, with her soft jaw line and the round bumps on her chest. There was some motion among the group and the music got quieter as one of them manipulated a knob on the box it was coming from. They exchanged glances to each other and made vague gestures that Lyra didn't understand.

"Well, well... What do we have here?" Someone from the crowd announced in a strange, rolling accent. He made himself seen. Lyra couldn't help but cringe. All over the tan man's face were silver rings. They were on his face, his ears, his eyebrows, his nose. She knew what piercings looked like... but this? He was also wearing a dark-blue wooly cap over his head, which gave no indication of hair under it. He was wearing a black jacket made of some bizarre, tough, somewhat inflexible material. Under it was a loose grey shirt with an image of chains and skulls, followed by faded jeans and ending in boots. The man sauntered up peered down at her. He wasn't the tallest of the group, certainly, but he dwarfed the scrawny pony-turned-human by at least half a head. Lyra tried her best not to flinch from his toothy grin. A milky discoloration of the sink ran down one of his cheeks.

She cleared her throat and tried her best to speak calmly. "Hi... My name's Lyra... H-Heartstrings..."

He bent down and met her face, hands in his pockets. "You lost, chica?" He looked past her a moment and then returned his gaze.

Lyra swallowed hard. She noted the strange word he used to name her, but the tingling was still biting at her flesh, and that took precedence over most of her thoughts. "Kinda. Do you think you could help me...? Maybe... show me around? I'm... uh... new here."

The man snickered, as did the rest of the group behind him.

"Lemme be the first to welcome you to Gotham!" He spread arms. "Biggest shithole in the country!"

"S'ides Blüdhaven." Someone behind added.

"Shut it!" He hissed before turning back to Lyra. "And yes, we can show ya around. All the ups, the downs, and everything in between!" A few more chuckles came from the others.

She relaxed a bit. "He seems friendly enough," she thought. But still... something seemed off. Something about this whole scenario nagged her in the back of her mind. And those piercings. She couldn't take her eyes off of them. The man seemed to notice her expression.

"Whatchu lookin' at?"

"Um... I don't wanna... ya know... but don't those hurt?"

He was confused for an instant as he ran his fingers down his face. When he realized she was referring to the rings, he smiled.

"Oh, yes, chica. It hurts. It hurts all the time. But you know what?" He leaned closer, causing Lyra to recoil slightly. "I love the pain. I just can't live without it."

She stared at him, unsure of how to respond to that. So focused she was on him, she didn't notice some of the others get up and walk past them, standing behind her. A siren tolled, closer than most of the ones she's heard before. She noticed that some of them flinched ever so slightly. The one in front of her did not budge. From what she could gather, the man seemed to be the leader of sorts. He carried an aura of authority about him in a nonchalant manner, like Spitfire of the Wonderbolts. Perhaps this group he supposedly lead was something like that. After a short minute, the man's eyes drifted up to her minty locks, raising his hand to touch it.

"That's some hair ya got..." Lyra stiffened. His hand smelled like smoke. His fingernails looked dirty and chewed on. She remained frozen. She could probably chalk this up to a clear violation to her personal space, but maybe this was a normal thing for humans of this world. Maybe was probably just part of their meeting... er... ritual. She didn't know. She couldn't know. The man twiddled the strands of her hair between his fingers, brow bent in perplexity, as if he hardly believed what he was seeing was her natural hair color. She noticed that their hair ranged from black, brown, red, and yellow. Green, purple, blue, pink... these colors weren't among them.

"Quit messin' with her, Miggy." The squat one with the puffy green vest said. He was about the same height as Lyra, maybe shorter, but a lot rounder. "Let's just get this over with."

The man, allegedly named "Miggy", let go of her hair, gritted his teeth, and whirled around. "Shut your fuckin' face, cabrón! You can't jus' rush these kinda things!"

The way he acknowledged his friend rankled Lyra a bit, causing her to move back another half-step. She attributed it mostly to culture shock, but now he was bordering on rude. She kept her demeanor, though as she waited for them to do something. She hoped they would show her around, take her on a tour of sorts. She wasn't so sure if they had the same idea anymore.

The "cabrón" character raised his hands in a defeated gesture. "Jus' sayin', man, for all we know, he could be watching us."

Immediately, as if driven by some supernatural force, all heads shot to the rooftops, scanning the concrete canopy in wide-eyed fear. Their eyes flicked back and forth, some turned in full circles. The music player clicked off completely, and that was left was the ambience of the city. Lyra joined in, gawking at whatever they were attempting to look for, with no avail. After a long, uncomfortable moment, Miggy slowly inhaled, exhaled, and turned back to Lyra with an unmistakable change in mannerism. "What was it? What do they mean by "him"? What were they afraid of?" She wanted to voice these questions and more, but when she opened her mouth to expel the words, the man gave a wicked, raspy chuckle, beating back her courage to speak.

"He got a point, chica, we're kinda pressed for time." He licked his teeth like a leering predator.

Suddenly he was closing in on her, his body pressing against hers, his hands reaching for the doughy mounds on her chest. Startled, she immediately backpedaled and yipped when she bumped into something. She jerked around, and the giant, coal-skinned man looked down at her, grinning with yellow teeth. He shoved her back in Miggy's direction as more of them closed around her. Alarm bells sounded in her mind as she struggled from their grip. This wasn't right... this isn't right! Her ribcage throbbed loudly. Her breathing became erratic. What did she do wrong? Was it something she said? Was is something she did? Something she didn't do?

"W-wait!" She shouted as she tried to free her wrist from the iron grip of one of them. "I-I only wanted some help! P-please!"

"We gonna help you, alright." Bellowed the large one as he gripped her other arm. "We gonna help you right outta dat pretty dress!"

"N-no! Please! HEL- mmmppphhh!" The piercing covered man clamped his hand over her mouth. He stared into her quivering, terror-stricken eyes and growled.

"Don'tchu even THINK about squealin', see? You're mine, and El murciélago ain't gonna stop me this time!"

Lyra could feel the tingling on her skin turn into a white-hot burning sensation that seeped down to her bone, causing her screams of panic to turn into screams of pain. Her eyes widened as the agony bled into her head. In a bout of desperation, she tore one of her hands free and lashed out blindly. To her, it felt like a blur, but her fingers felt a tug as they sailed through the air in a wide arc. The man yelped. The hand suddenly came free and she was shrieking loudly, unrepressed. Miggy saw the red-stained silver ring hit the asphalt. He slowly brought his hand to the place on his lip that gushed red with blood.

"Hijo de puta!" He turned to the wailing girl, furious. "You BITCH!"

There was a snap and, in an instant, a gleaming knife was in his hand. He pressed it against her throat covering her mouth once more. Lyra's eyes were screwed shut, as if shutting out one of her senses would dim some of the pain. It didn't.

"Big, mistake, chica." He snarled, blade pressing on the flesh of her neck. Some of his scarlet life-fluid dripped from his chin and stained her dress. "We were gonna go easy on ya, but now there ain't gonna be much left of ya when we're done. Just a little scrap of cloth and food for the dogs."

She couldn't hear him. She was too busy enduring the agonizing fire that was coursing through her body. It started to ring in her ears. She felt her bones groaning, as if pressure was building up within them. Her muscles were experiencing the same thing. They began to tremble and convulse. Before long, Lyra was thrashing around, the coal-colored man struggling to hold her in place. The sweat that was pouring from her skin was loosening his grip.

"Yo, careful with that thing! You might stab this crazy bitch!"

Miggy didn't respond, merely focused on keeping his paw over her mouth and his blade to her neck. The others began groping for her dress, laughing, trying to rip it off like a candy wrapper.

"Hold still... or I'm screwin'... your corpse!" He said through gritted teeth. His own perspiration was soaking his cap as he tried to follow her movements while she tossed herself around. Lyra screamed louder and louder, past what she thought possible, coating the man's grimy palm with her spittle. Suddenly, he slipped, and the tip of the knife caught the flesh of her neck.

*SNAP*

A light clink hit the ground as Miggy staggered backwards, staring at the broken blade in his hand. His covered hand was no longer over her mouth, releasing the banshee shrieks, a din that could be heard for miles. The gangster's eyes darted from his hand to the girl, face crossed with wordless stupefaction.

Lyra herself did not even realize she was screaming anymore. Her senses were overloaded by the utter torment she was being subjected too. Every bone in her body felt like snapping, every muscle felt as if it was going to explode. The strain in her body was building higher and higher, threatening to tear her whole body asunder.

Then, something gave away.

The giant who restrained her cried out as an immeasurable force lifted him from his feet and sent him sprawling into his companions. One of the men clinging to her dress was suddenly gripped by agonizing vise, one which instantly crushed his bones to gravel. He screamed as he was pitched into a collection of trash cans. The rest of them had the sense to back off as quickly as they could. She dropped to her knees, clutching her head in her white-knuckled, slender hands, trying to block out the deafening peal that was splitting her eardrums. Her trembling body began to surge outward. Her limbs lengthened, her muscles swelled. Tears streamed from her eyelids, unfettered. Lyra's skin had been subjected to so much stimulation that it began to numb, but she could still feel herself pressing up against the rough cloth of her sundress. It began to audibly rip at the seams, revealing her growing flesh through the drum-tight cloth. All the while, the gangsters watched, terrified.

"Jesus Christ, she's a meta!" Miggy shouted, voicing all their thoughts. He whirled his puffy-vested companion. "Dans! Shoot her! SHOOT HER!"

The other man's sneer had finally disappeared, replaced with petrified shock as the thing-a mere few feet away from him-that was once a little girl no taller than him, slammed her fists into the ground, breaking the asphalt like a brittle layer of ice, all while screaming bloody murder. Dans started to inch away, turning, getting ready make a break for it. The Miggy roared at him once more.

"Your piece, man! Ice her before she kills us all!" That gave the panic form for all of them in their minds. While the rest of the crew twisted around and made a break for it, Dans slipped his trembling hand into his vest, fumbling for his gun. He couldn't seem to wrap his sausage fingers around the snub-nose revolver fast enough before the gang leader stomped over, grabbed him, and wrested the gun from his hand.

"El amor de Dios! Gimme that, ya brainless fuck!" He shoved him to the ground and aimed at Lyra.

Six times he yanked the trigger. Six times the hammer was pulled back to strike the firing pin. Six times his arm bucked with the recoil as he gripped the faux-wood handle with a sweaty, white-knuckled vise. Six loud thundercracks echoed across the city; echoed inside of Lyra's eardrums. They felt magnified, as if her ears were being filled with nothing but more pain. She felt six sharp pinpricks collide with the force of a blacksmith's clanging hammer, lifting her from her knees, driving her backwards. The slugs rippled across her skin, intensifying the burning sensation to searing molten metal. Her eyes were wrenched open. A maddening vista of light invaded her corneas. Bright, flashing, relentless, she tried to close them again, but her mind couldn't seem to find the muscles required to do so. As if the bullets knocked loose another restraint, her body pulsed and expanded again. A loud rent signaled the end of her yellow sundress, which fluttered to the cold, wet ground in useless tatters. Her screaming had faded out to a dry moan, having lost the cognition to do anything with her throat than to force air through it.

Her mind was a stream of fractured consciousness, each thought that flew through her head made less sense than the last. "What's happening to me? Was it the spell? Was it something I ate? Breakfast? Bad breakfast? I knew that stallion who sold me those blueberries was a shady dealer. He tainted them. Poisoned them! Tried to do away with crazy, human-obsessed Lyra! Thought he was doing the world a service!" She felt her blood starting to come to a rolling boil. Through the psychotic, visceral haze that sped across her vision, she caught the trembling form of that ring-faced man, now looking so small from where she was, holding a clicking metal thing that had caused her noise and pain banging against her burning body and throbbing skull. "No... It was him! Him and his evil rings and his evil smile and his evil knife and his evil, grabby hands! He cursed me! Hexed me! Afflicted me with his magic face-rings and his spell-weaving words!" The realization that her foe was place before her, awaiting destruction, caused her bones to lengthen and her muscles to bulge a bit more. She bared her teeth, ground her bare feet into the black asphalt, and began to charge.

"Shitshitshitshitshit!" Miggy thrust his hand into every pocket on his person in search of bullets. Bullets which he was sure he had, unless he gave them all to Dans when he trusted him with his gun so he wouldn't get jailed by the pigs if they decided to search him. Barring that, he looked for anything he could use to increase his chances of survival against that freak of nature. His frantic pocket diving was abruptly halted when he felt the ground quake with each stomp Lyra made. By the time he looked up, she was already upon him. He had no time to shout before he was heaved into the air by a glancing blow, and even that sent him faceplanting into a second-floor window and sliding into a heap of trash and cardboard boxes with most of his ribs cracked or broken. His gun fragmented against the wall, spilling the smoking casings from the dislodged cylinder.

Lyra kept running forward, propelled by her own substantial momentum. She felt as if she was only controlling half of her body, the other half moving to its own accord. Eye screwed shut, heedless of whatever solid object placed itself before her, she ran past the cowering silhouette of Dans, past the broken body of Miggy. She crunched the music box under her foot, causing it to spark, sputter, and die. She grazed the edge of a dumpster, overturning it, distorting the rusted metal and sending its foul contents scattering across the alleyway. She felt herself flatten against what may have been a brick wall, but it gave away almost instantly. She thought she heard a high-pitched scream from her left, but couldn't discern it for sure through the constant white noise in her ears. She felt another surface crumble before her.

Suddenly, she was in a world of honks and screeches and shouts. She could feel the frigid wind from the high speed objects that roared by her. Lyra stumbled forward, driven partly by reflex of dodging these zooming hunks of noisy metal. Their blazing beams of light could be felt past her eyelids. She brought her hands to her face, sticky with tears, trying to block it out. Block it all out. She sensed the ground rumble beneath her, a prelude to a lower-pitched honk that got louder and louder. She felt the air shift and the light shaft through her fingers as something tremendous rolled towards her. Her stomach came in contact with cold, heavy metal that crumpled against her dermal layer like tinfoil. She was thrown to the ground amidst the bedlam of screeches and screams, breaking glass and groaning steel. She began convulsing before she even hit the road's surface, her body experiencing another surge of agonizing growth. Thankfully, the impact returned some of her cognisance. She looked up at the street full of swerving metal carts that seemed to be drawn by nothing. She glimpsed inside and saw humans, all wide-eyed and panic-stricken. All staring at her. "What's happening?! When will it stop?!"

She needed to leave. She needed to get out of here. Far away from all the noise and lights, all the pain and metal and men with rings and sneering faces. Lyra scrambled to her feet, ignoring the burning of her skin, the pressure in her bones, the strain in her muscles, the noise in her ears, and the lights in her eyes. She shut them all out and ran. All she wanted was to meet the inhabitants of this wonderful new world. How did this all go sour? How did it ever come to this? Droplets fell from her eyes, leaving an invisible trail along the already damp roads and sidewalks of Gotham. She paid no heed to the other humans, who fled at the mere sight of her, nor to these monstrous, foul-smelling wheeled vehicles. Her feet just carried on while her mind wandered to her previous life, her life in Ponyville. She thought of her friends, her roommate Bon-Bon. She imagined their smiling faces and their warm greetings. They supported her, cared for her, considered her to be a true companion.

She traded that life for this?

Sirens sounded over the pandemonium of the night. Red and blue lights dashed through the streets of twisted metal and veered after the rampaging giantess.

Miles away, across the vehement city of broken dreams, a haggard, yet finely dressed man sighed as he arrived at his manor in his luxurious automobile. He maneuvered his bulky torso from the driver's seat and slammed the door behind him. He loosened his tie as he walked up to the front door, where a thin, grey-haired man held the door waited, holding the oaken door open. The weary one nodded in appreciation, the two entered the manor, and the door creaked and latched shut.

"Welcome home, Master Bruce."

"Thank you, Alfred." Bruce popped his neck. "And what a day. I thought that host at the charity auction would never stop talking."

"Yes, after all that pain and suffering, I would hardly be surprised to see your unfathomable constitution nearly spent." Alfred returned in his usual sardonic manner, drawing a small smile from his longtime employer. "I trust you ate this evening?"

"Hors d'oeuvres galore." He handed his coat to his butler, who took it and hung it over his arm.

"I hope that will be enough, Sir, for it seems your night has only just begun. I've been listening to the police's radio chatter, and it appears an interesting development has been taking place in the city. One of rather... tremendous proportion."

"Oh, this ought to be good..." Bruce Wayne commented aloud as he made his way to the secret entrance behind the grandfather clock.