Applejack's head pounded as she opened her eyes. "Just a few more minutes," she grumbled, but quickly sat up when she heard a soft voice.
"But your breakfast will get cold."
"Fluttershy," Applejack asked as she took in her surroundings. Sure enough, she was sitting in Fluttershy's bed in Fluttershy's cottage. Applejack touched her head and felt no bruise, and a smile graced her lips. She turned to Fluttershy and stared slack-jawed.
Fluttershy stood at the top of the stairs, her mane flowing as long and as graceful as always. Balanced on the yellow pegasus's back was a covered tray.
Applejack wasn't about to let her girlfriend do all the work. She tried to get out of bed, but she was stuck. She smiled at Fluttershy and said, "I guess your girlfriend is a might lazy this morning."
That's when it happened. Just as Applejack finished her sentence, the room shook, but only Applejack seemed to notice.
"What in tarnation was that?"
"What was what," Fluttershy asked as she set the tray down on the nightstand.
"You didn't feel the room shake just now?"
Fluttershy shook her head causing part of her mane to land on her snout. She gave a small puff, blew the offending strands away, and giggled.
"You're plumb adorable, sugarcube." Applejack eyed the tray and said, "I don't wanna sound pushy now, but I'm starving. What's on the menu?"
Fluttershy smiled and said, "It's a surprise, but first let me give you something you deserve." She leaned closer to Applejack and lightly pursed her lips.
Applejack followed suit, closed her eyes, and waited. Nothing. Then something struck Applejack hard across the cheek. Her eyes shot open, and now she stared at a furious Fluttershy. This Fluttershy looked as though she crawled through Tartarus itself. Her mane was cut very short, and she was bandaged at various parts of her body.
"Fl-Fluttershy," Applejack stammered, "What's going on?"
The yellow pony pulled a hoof back and struck Applejack across the face screaming, "You did this to me. You couldn't stand by me, so you abandoned me." She grabbed the orange pony and smiled, "I guess I should thank you. Because now I have Rainbow Dash, and she's much better than you."
Applejack slumped down and brought her forelegs to cover her face. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy. I should've stood by you, but I panicked." She looked at Fluttershy and continued, "If you want to be with Rainbow, I'll respect your wishes, but please, let me try and set things right."
Fluttershy laughed, "Set things right? You don't get to 'set things right'. All you get is to suffer. Now get up!" Fluttershy struck Applejack again across the face.
"You might want to go a bit easier on her, Thunderclap. I don't think Zephyr is interested in brain damaged Elements of Harmony."
The pegasus laughed, "Don't worry. They can take it." He leaned back and kicked Applejack in the stomach, and smiled as the orange pony groaned in agony. "Ain't that right, Ms. Element of Honesty?"
Applejack's vision cleared, and she stared up at Thunderclap. She tried to speak, but her mouth was too dry.
"Which one is Fluttershy," Thunderclap asked Flashpoint.
"Kindness," Flashpoint said, "but from what I've heard, she hasn't been very kind lately."
"Wh-where are we," Applejack managed to croak.
"Just a small shed," Thunderclap said, "We're just waiting for our transport."
Applejack glared at him and said, "Pinkie. Pinkie will find me."
Flashpoint laughed, "And do what? I blasted that pony into a toolshed. There's no way she-"
"She will. She's Pinkie Pie, and she'll find me. I don't know how, but there's no place on Equestria you can hide from her." Applejack grinned in spite of her pain, "I'd sure hate to be ya'll right now."
Thunderclap grabbed Applejack by the mane and drove a knee into her ribs. The orange pony's breath drove out of her as she let out a gasp of pain. Thunderclap wasn't finished. He grabbed Applejack's head and slammed it into a crate.
A small yelp escaped her lips before she lost consciousness again.
Flashpoint ran to Applejack and checked her vitals, "Oh good." She turned to Flashpoint, "That was too close. We need her alive."
The pegasus snorted but said nothing. He just sat down and looked out the window as Flashpoint looked over Applejack's head. Satisfied that there was nothing major, she let her head fall with a thud. Thunderclap couldn't hide his grin.
Luna's moon shone brightly across the night sky, and a lone pink pony galloped after her prey. Pinkie's body, already aching from bruises and scrapes, kept its pace. "Just hold on Jackie," Pinkie said under her breath.
The road stretched before her, and it was well traveled. This was the only good news. The ponies that nearly killed her and Applejack were ahead, and Pinkie didn't know if they reached any form of transportation yet.
With hooves hitting the ground as softly as she dared, Pinkie followed Thunderclap and Flashpoint. It had been a couple of hours since Applejack's abduction, and the pink pony feared that she would be too late. No. Pinkie knew that she wouldn't be too late. She hoped to catch those ponies and teach them not to harm her friends. The pink pony streaked down the road, a pink bearer of justice.
"How is Lilly," Fluttershy asked.
The question broke Trixie's concentration, and the showmare stared at Fluttershy. She looked into Fluttershy's eyes and saw nothing but concern. Trixie cleared her throat and asked, "Shouldn't you be worried about yourself?"
Fluttershy smiled, "I know, but my friends are all working very hard to help me. I'm not worried. Um, too much."
Trixie shook her head, "Alright then. Lilly is well. She's speaking to the doctors, but-"
"But what," Fluttershy asked.
"It's just the," Trixie tried to continue but began to shake with anger. She flinched when she felt Fluttershy place a hoof on her own. Trixie wanted to smile, but instead, she pushed the hoof away. "It's the lawyer that is in charge of her case. The moment she learned that Lilly is becoming comfortable speaking to the doctors, she wants to force her to retell every detail of what happened to her." Trixie stood up and glared at the wall, "And what happens when Trixie tries to calm Lilly down? That mule of a lawyer has the nerve to tell Trixie…" Trixie spun around and slammed her forelegs on the table causing Fluttershy to jump. "She tells Trixie, 'Leave this to the professionals. Isn't there a foal with a runny nose you can make funny faces at?' That, that horse has no business around Lilly. She simply wants to advance her career."
"That's awful," Fluttershy said. "I hope Lilly isn't hurt by their questions."
"What do you mean?"
Fluttershy looked away for a moment. Her eyes lazily studied the small room. A few moments passed before she said, "I remember being asked what happened, and it was scary. I. The investigator kept telling me that if I didn't answer all of their questions, I would be letting the monster go free." Fluttershy wiped her eyes and continued, "They couldn't wait until I was really ready. They wanted the answers and weren't-"
Fluttershy looked at Trixie expecting the showmare to be angry, but she was surprised to see concern on the unicorn's face.
"You don't have to tell me if it bothers you this much." Trixie looked down to the table and saw the notes, and she remembered why she was there. "There's a reason I'm here."
Fluttershy nodded, "I know. I saw you studying something when I walked in. Are you doing research like Twilight?"
"Not quite." Trixie shifted in her seat and gave the spell a final look, "I need to know something."
"What, happened," Trixie began, "Did what happen, need to happen?" Trixie looked into Fluttershy's eyes and nodded with recognition.
The yellow pegasus's eyes flashed with a multitude of emotions, but the showmare spotted them. Fluttershy felt guilt, remorse, and, for the briefest of moments, pride. All of these within the space of less than a second.
Trixie took a deep breath and began to concentrate on the spell about to be cast. Her horn flared and a beam shot out at Fluttershy. All that was heard was a quiet squeak before the room filled with a bright light.
Outside the prison, Rainbow Dash kept her eyes on the building Trixie entered. 'What is that pony up to,' she wondered. Minutes ticked by, and Rainbow's attention began to waver, but she snapped back to the building when a bright light flashed in the windows. Before any possible scenarios could register in her mind, Rainbow flew down to the prison and hid behind Trixie's carriage. She peeked from underneath the carriage, and saw a window with a large crack.
Inside the room, Fluttershy remained seated while the world exploded, and all that remained was a dull ringing in her ears. It took a few moments for her eyes to readjust, and she looked around the room. To say that a bomb went off was an understatement. The walls were cracked, the table shattered, and the far window had a large crack in it along with something familiar to the yellow pegasus. Blood.
Fluttershy looked down and saw Trixie struggling to stand and bleeding from her head. Before the image could fully process in her mind, Fluttershy was at the unicorn's side helping her stand.
"Trixie, what happened?"
The showmare groaned in pain before giving Fluttershy a smile and a wink, and before Fluttershy could reply, Trixie vanished. She stared at where Trixie was for a moment before realizing what happened. Trixie was teleported away. Fluttershy couldn't give this anymore thought since the guards were securing her hooves and leading her back to the infirmary.
"Wait," Fluttershy tried to say as she was carted out of the ruined room, "What happened to Trixie?"
The guards weren't interested in answering her, and they had to semi-drag her. Fluttershy could hear Dexter arguing with a guard, but she couldn't make any of it out. Something about security or something, but she didn't care. I hope she's alright, Fluttershy thought.
Rainbow remained hidden under the carriage, and nearly jumped when Trixie appeared before her. The showmare looked confused, but it didn't take long for her to figure out what happened.
"Trixie can teleport on her own," Trixie said in her usual tone to an unknown pony.
The carriage creaked and a pony stepped down. Their legs were white, but Rainbow couldn't see their tail.
"I'm simply doing my job, Trixie," the mysterious mare said. "I was watching, and I couldn't help noticing that Fluttershy was escorted unharmed from the room."
"Her friend, Twilight Sparkle, must have placed a protective ward on her."
"And yet the Great and Powerful Trixie was not powerful enough to pierce such a ward," the mare asked in a mocking tone.
Rainbow moved closer to the two mares in hopes of seeing more, and she saw Trixie throw some papers into the other mare's face.
"There was nothing there that could have pierced the weakest of wards, foal."
If this bothered the other mare, she made no sign of it. She just smiled at Trixie and said, "Very well, get in."
Trixie took a step back, "Trixie will not."
"You don't have a choice. Didn't you just commit attempted murder? Get in and do what you are told. My employer will ensure that there will be no backlash against you."
Trixie looked down and saw a glimpse of blue under the carriage. "Very well, but Trixie will speak with your master once we arrive."
"If you wish," the mare said with a smile and boarded the carriage.
Trixie followed, and soon the carriage was airborne, headed to Storm Ring's mansion. Within the confines of the trunk, Rainbow Dash seethed with anger toward Trixie.
"What was that? I thought guards were better trained than that." Dexter Hoofstrom glared at the guard while the nurse tried to give Fluttershy an examination.
"Calm down, sir," the guard said, "We have begun our investigation into the explosion, and, if I may be frank, you should be concerned about your client. She appears to be unharmed."
"She's not here."
Both stallions turned to face the nurse.
"What do you mean," Dexter asked, "I'm looking right at her."
The nurse shook her head, "I know. I also know how it sounds, but magically speaking," she pointed a hoof at Fluttershy, "there is no pony sitting on that table."
Dexter walked up to Fluttershy and gave her a soft poke. When she gave a soft squeak he asked, "Are you absolutely sure, nurse?"
The nurse shook her head, "She's here, but I can't use my magic to check her vitals. There is something very powerful blocking all of my spells, and it has to be related to what happened in visitation because I checked her vitals earlier today."
"Is she in danger," a voice spoke up. All eyes turned to Gilda. She narrowed her eyes and asked again, "Well, is she in danger?"
"I don't believe so," the nurse replied, "She might have a powerful shield protecting her, but I have no means of determining that from here."
Gilda jumped off her bed, and, with a slight limp, she walked to Fluttershy. She gently grabbed Fluttershy's foreleg and said, "The worst that will happen is you'll get a scratch, but hey, what better place to get hurt than an infirmary?"
Fluttershy nodded in spite of her body shaking like a leaf and waited for Gilda to test the nurse's theory. The griffon placed a talon on her leg and slowly pulled it towards her hoof, and apart from a few light sparkles, nothing happened.
"Ok," Gilda said, "I think we need to take more drastic measures." She tightened her grip Fluttershy's leg and swiped at it. Again, sparkles followed by a lack of an injury. Not even the fur on Fluttershy's leg was bothered. "I guess that answers that then," Gilda said, "Whoever cast this spell knew what they were doing cause I swung at you pretty hard."
"As much as I enjoy the potential mauling of my clients," Dexter said, "Let's see how else this ward protects her." He motioned toward the small table next to Fluttershy's bed and asked, "Why don't you take a drink of water?"
"Um, ok," Fluttershy said as she reached for the plastic cup. She carefully gripped it in her hooves and proceeded to drink.
"Good. So she can still eat. I'm gonna call this a blessing-"
"This still technically falls under assault," the guard said.
"That's up to the victim to decide," Dexter said turning to face Fluttershy, "Do you think you were assaulted?"
Fluttershy looked at Dexter and then to Gilda. After a few moments she said, "I don't think that Trixie planned on hurting me." She shook her head, "No. She cast this spell on me to protect me."
Dexter nodded, "That settles it then. Rest up kid, cause tomorrow will be your arraignment."
Fluttershy gulped and asked, "Is there anything I need to do?"
Dexter smiled and said, "All you need to do is say 'Not guilty'. I'll handle the rest."
"If you say so. Thank you again for representing me."
"Thank that girlfriend of yours Applejack. She made quite the case for you, not to mention the fact that saving the skin of one of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony would be a boon to my practice."
"Yeah you're all heart," Gilda said rolling her eyes.
Dexter grinned at the griffon, "Nothing wrong with having a little business sense." He turned to Fluttershy, "Really though, get some sleep. I want you well rested and looking pretty for the judge."
Fluttershy nodded, "I'll try."
Once Dexter left the infirmary, Fluttershy rolled over and looked at Gilda. The griffon stared at Fluttershy with a mischievous grin. "You know, I never pegged you for the fillyfooling type. So, you and Applejack? That one of your Ponyville friends?"
"Yes, but we're not together anymore." Fluttershy wiped her eyes with a hoof and said, "It's a long story."
Gilda sat up, "I got time. It's not like we're going anywhere."
Fluttershy sighed, "Ok." She looked up to the ceiling and said, "It started about two months ago…"
Luna studied ancient law scrolls in silence while the rest of the ponies poured over various law books searching for any precedent that could aid in Fluttershy's defense, or even better, have the case thrown out altogether. This proved to be a rather fruitless endeavor so far.
"Not much in this pile," Twilight said sliding a stack of book to the side. She smiled as she levitated more books in front of her.
"Your Highness," Rarity said, "I believe I have found something that might interest you." She slid a book to Princess Luna.
"What did you find, Rarity," Twilight asked.
"I'm sorry Twilight, but I can't say." Rarity saw the flash of anger in Twilight's eyes and mouthed, I'm sorry.
Twilight tilted her head, but she understood what Rarity meant. She gave her friend a small smile and nodded, "I understand." She turned to Luna, "Princess, may I ask what research you're doing?"
Luna gave Rarity an angry glance, but her attention was returned to Twilight.
"Princess, I ask because I feel that you holding back information. Rarity didn't do anything."
Luna looked over the book Rarity passed her and said, "My reasons are my own, and I trust you will leave it at that-"
"I'm sorry, but I can't."
Luna looked at Twilight with a look if bemused indignation, "What?"
Twilight bowed her head, "I'm sorry, Princess, but the life of one of my best friends, no, the life of somepony that's a sister to me is on the line. She needs our help, and that means everypony working together." She gave Luna a warm smile and said, "I know you're worried about these ponies that are trying to resurrect Nightmare Moon, but I promise you that we will help you." Twilight tapped the table, "All of us will help you. Now will you please tell me what you're planning?"
The princess of the night gave Twilight a nod, "I can see why my sister has so much love for you." She smiled at the sight Twilight blushing at the unexpected praise and continued, "I understand that your friendship with Rarity is being strained, but I promise you that it was never my intention to further damage it." She cast her gaze downward, "I suppose I was afraid."
"Afraid of what," Spike asked, "You rule the night. What could possibly scare you?"
"Spike," Twilight scolded.
"It's alright, Twilight Sparkle. His question is a fair one." Luna smiled at Spike, "I feared what all of you would think of me should I have enacted my scheme."
"Scheme," Spike asked while trying to stifle a laugh, "No offense princess, but if you want ponies to stop thinking that you might be evil, you really need to drop the evil talk."
Luna tilted her head at the baby dragon, "Evil talk? I'm afraid I don't understand."
"What he means," Rarity said, "is that you should favor more common words. Plans perhaps, instead of schemes could be a better choice. Still, the mystery of all of this does lend a slight sinister undertone."
"What we mean, princess," Twilight said, "is that we will weigh what you have to say fairly." She looked away from Rarity and said, "There has been too little of that lately."
"I agree," Rarity said. She smiled when Twilight returned her gaze, "But the blame must be shared, and somepony must take the first step." Rarity stood up and looked Twilight in the eyes, "Twilight, I am so sorry for what I did to you." She raised a hoof to silence Twilight, "I know words are not enough, but for now, they must be."
Twilight smiled at Rarity, "I accept your apology, and I'm sorry, too." She couldn't help giggling, and when the others looked at her she said, "I'm sorry, but I don't remember ever seeing that kind of passion from Rarity. She was ready to go to war for Fluttershy." Twilight smiled, "Words can't begin to say how great it is to have a friend that would go to such lengths for a friend." She turned back to Luna, "But enough of that, please princess, what is your plan?"
Luna nodded and levitated a number of books before Twilight. The lavender unicorn's face changed from curiosity to one of shocked wonder.
She looked up to Princess Luna and asked, "Are you certain this could work?"
Luna nodded, "If all else fails, this should ensure The Element of Kindness's safety, but we should also continue our efforts to aid her defense."
Twilight grinned and removed her research, mining, hat from her head, "Spike and I managed to find quite a few laws that provide a reasonable defense for Fluttershy." She flipped through a tome, "Sadly, I haven't found the specific law, but I have found mention of it."
"That's good work, Twilight Sparkle, but we shall need the law if we are to aid your friend."
"Fluttershy's your friend Prince-"
"I haven't earned that right," Luna said to Spike. She smiled at the progress they've made and said, "Yet."
"Wow." That was all Gilda could say once Fluttershy finished her story. She stopped looking at the yellow pegasus when the story got to the hospital, but now she turned back to Fluttershy. Gilda saw Fluttershy crying. "Sorry," Gilda said, "I'm not good at this stuff."
Fluttershy nodded, "I understand. I just wish I wasn't so weak."
Gilda laughed and asked, "And just how is saving your best friend being weak?"
"It's not that. I would never forgive myself if Rainbow had to suffer that, but I wasn't fast enough. She was still hurt, and it's my fault. I was weak when I let my anger take control-"
"You wanna run that by me again?"
Fluttershy laid back down, "I should have just called for the Wonderbolts to get Grey. Rainbow could have pressed charges, and he would be in jail."
Gilda nodded, "Yeah, but he would probably find some kind of loop hole, or his dad would get him out of Equestria. Rainbow is safe because of you, and he won't harm anyone else. I'd say that's cause for celebration."
Fluttershy smiled, "Thank you Gilda. I appreciate it. How long are you going to be in the infirmary?"
Gilda laughed and said, "Well, I wasn't even hurt. I just traded some words with a pony, and a few death threats later, I found myself in here. Not sure how long I have before they send me back though," Gilda said with her eyes looking up to the ceiling.
"I don't think anypony that messes with you would be much of a challenge. I mean, griffons are pretty scary."
Gilda smiled, "That we are." She looked at the clock, "We should get some sleep." Gilda scratched the back of her head and said, "Uh, good night, Fluttershy."
"Goodnight Gilda," Fluttershy said. The yellow pegasus rolled over and closed her eyes. The events of the day still weighed on her. Mainly, Trixie's spell worried her. The way she winked at Fluttershy made her nervous.
What is she planning, Fluttershy wondered. She smiled at all the possibilities. I've been listening to Rainbow too much. Her eyes closed, and she tried to get some sleep. Sleep that would be denied her, at least for the time being.
She looked up to the ceiling, and with tears in her eyes she whispered, "I'm so sorry everypony."
"Are you well? Would you like something to drink," the white mare asked Trixie.
Trixie sneered at her, "Trixie is fine."
"You're rather pale. Please, I insist that you drink something."
Trixie sighed, "Very well, Trixie shall have a glass of apple juice."
The mare laughed, "Wouldn't you rather have something stronger? There are some wonderful spirits available."
"Trixie would rather have her faculties, thank you."
The white mare shrugged, "If you insist." She levitated a glass of apple juice to Trixie.
"Thank you," Trixie said before drinking. Once done she asked, "Is there something you wish to ask Trixie?"
The mare nodded, "Yes. It's a silly question, but how did it feel to kill a pony?"
"I killed nopony. You know that."
"True, but had you killed her-"
"Trixie doesn't waste time on 'what-ifs'. She prefers to focus on the now."
The mare nodded and raised her own glass, "Good advice. Shame more ponies don't heed it."
Silence fell over the carriage as Trixie thought about the blue she spotted under the carriage. She knew that Rainbow Dash heard their conversation, and she hoped the blue pegasus didn't draw the wrong idea. First chance I get, I'll explain everything to her. That was when she began to question her actions. What kind of foal am I? How could I use such a dangerous spell? Trixie shook her head to clear the thoughts. Fluttershy wouldn't be in danger, and in turn, Trixie wasn't in danger.
In the luggage, there sat a time bomb of rage. I should've never agreed to take Fluttershy to her. She turned on her. Rainbow rubbed her hooves together, First chance I get, I'm gonna make her pay.
"It makes so much sense," Twilight squealed with delight. "Princess, if this works, then Fluttershy will be safe."
Luna nodded, "That is my hope, but this is a gambit. One that we must be careful in using, should it fail, we may have war."
Twilight's earlier excitement cooled to cautious optimism. Still, she found cause to celebrate, "I think we can break for lunch."
Rarity yawned, "Lunch Twilight? I would think it's time for bed."
"What time is it," Twilight asked before looking at the large clock on the wall. "Oh, I had no idea it was that late." She turned to Rarity and said, "You should get some sleep. I'll stay up with Princess Luna, so we can form a plan to use this new information." She pointed a hoof to the now sleeping Spike, "You may want to take him with you. Poor guy is really tired."
"Being forced to be mediator has that effect," Rarity said.
Twilight flinched, "That was unfair of us wasn't it?"
"It was, but we weren't thinking clearly. Our emotions and pride forced him, and I'm glad he stood against us." Rarity giggled into a hoof, "It could have been so easy for him to side with you."
"What makes you think that," Twilight asked.
"You are his first friend. I wouldn't be surprised if he saw you as his mother."
Twilight tilted her head, "That's stretching it don't you think?"
"Is it? You are the one who brought him into the world, and you hold your relationship with him highly. He is a lucky dragon to have you, even if it's only as a surrogate sister."
Twilight smiled at the sleeping dragon. "You have no idea how many times he's been there for me," Twilight whispered. "Always there with a bad joke, or a hug. He even would take time to make me feel special when I thought I was a failure." She levitated Spike and placed him onto Rarity's back. Before the white unicorn could protest Twilight said, "I know you want to help, but really the princess and I have it under control." She placed a hoof on Rarity's shoulder and said, "I'm not refusing your help."
Rarity smiled, "I know. You're just using our talents appropriately. I understand, but it's a long walk back to the palace."
"That's not a problem I brought a couple of bedrolls with me."
"A couple," Rarity asked, "As in, two?"
Twilight nodded, "Oh Spike has been having some nightmares lately, so-"
Rarity nodded, "Don't worry Twilight dear, I shall stay near him to provide any comfort I can." The white unicorn took the two bedrolls from the saddlebag and placed them on the floor. Once the baby dragon was tucked in, Rarity curled up next to him and looked up to Twilight. "Do you think we will be able to save Fluttershy?"
Twilight waved a hoof and said, "I don't know, but I do know that we aren't the only ones who are working hard to save her." She managed a smile and said, "I don't want to picture Equestria without kindness in it. Fluttershy will be saved."
The determination in Twilight's voice was enough for Rarity. "Thank you Twilight," she said, "That's what I was hoping to hear, and it means the world to me to hear it from you." Rarity rested her head on the pillow and closed her eyes.
"Did you mean your words, Twilight Sparkle?"
"Of course, Princess," Twilight said, "I'll die before I allow Fluttershy to be taken to the gallows."
"And should anypony stand in your way?"
Twilight smirked, "Let them try."
"Even my sister," Luna asked. "She does have a responsibility to her subjects."
Twilight was stunned, "No, I won't be put into this position again. I will not choose between my friend and my mentor. I. I'll try to reason with her."
Luna nodded, "You have a point there. Tia is a reasonable pony." She smiled when she heard Twilight giggling softly. "It must sound strange coming from the very pony she banished to the moon, I imagine?"
"I'm sorry, princess, but I know what you mean." Twilight went back to her notes and said, "I have faith that she won't put me in that position."
Luna nodded, "I have faith in her as well." She levitated a tome and said, "You seem to be quite pleased with my plan."
Twilight leaned back and stretched her forelegs, "It's pretty ambitious. I never thought that the bearers of the Elements of Harmony could be seen as a military force, but we do serve in the defense of Equestria. We're just a specialized part of its defense."
"Exactly," Luna said, "That is my intention. Should the worst come to pass, I can conscript Fluttershy into the military." A smile crept onto Luna's face, "It's been too long since I had a force of my own."
"That doesn't sound ominous," Twilight said.
Luna shook her head, "I have no intention of misusing the military. It was just an amusing thought."
Twilight couldn't help smiling at the thought of Fluttershy as the leader of an elite squad of soldiers before she returned to the notes. The image played in Twilight's mind like a scene of an historical epic.
Fluttershy stood on a barren battlefield with only a small number of soldiers by her side. The shy pony examined the soldiers, giving each a comforting smile. When she finished, she said, "Soldiers, out there is the enemy. Out there is everything we stand against. We are Equestria's last line of defense, and we will stand strong." Fluttershy smiled and said, "I hope you're ready, because tonight we will march up to the gates of Tartarus and kick the gates down." She flew into the air and with a hoof raised to the sky shouted, "Are you with me?"
Beneath her came a collected cry, "Yay!"
Twilight shook her head of the thought and went back to some notes that caught her eye earlier. "I think I know where to look for the laws we need. I'll be back as soon as I can." Twilight donned her research hat and took off towards the eastern stacks.
Applejack groaned and tried to get up, but she was held down by a hoof. This hoof didn't strike at her, but rather seemed to be comforting her.
"Don't get any ideas," Flashpoint said, "I just don't want to ruin my investment. Thunderclap is outside waiting for Zephyr to collect us." She laughed and said, "I've never seen him so mad. He almost killed you, but I guess your stubborn nature means that you don't care how far you push." The unicorn turned back to the door and smiled as the large pegasus entered.
"Carriage is almost here," he grinned at Applejack and added, "Don't see your friend though. We're gonna be gone and even if she stumbles onto this shed, she'll never find out where we're going."
"Ya'll just don't get it do you," Applejack said with a groan, "You're not dealing with just anypony. You're dealing with Pinkie Pie. She'll find you because she wants to. I just hope she's in a talking mood, cause if she ain't, there isn't enough hurt in the world to suffice for what she has in store for you."
"Enough," Flashpoint said, "We know about Pinkie Pie's talents. We also know that she is injured, and that buys us time."
"Besides," Thunderclap added, "Next time I see her, she's dead."
"I'm not thrilled about killing a Bearer."
The pegasus shrugged, "It's just business. It's not like the princess can't find another, right?"
"How should I know," Flashpoint asked, "I'm not an expert on these things."
Thunderclap glared at Flashpoint before saying, "I'll be waiting outside. You can deal with Zephyr."
"Fine," Flashpoint said.
Within minutes, a carriage stopped at the shed, and Thunderclap hoisted Applejack onto his shoulder. He then exited the shed and smiled as Flashpoint had to listen to Zephyr. His joy was interrupted when he received an elbow to the side of his head.
Applejack fell to the ground and made quick work of the ropes on her forelegs. She gave Thunderclap a quick buck to the ribs causing him to stagger and began to work on the ropes on her hind legs. She didn't make much progress as she was soon levitated in the air. Before she could say anything she found herself slammed into the ground.
"You had your chance to behave," Flashpoint screamed, "Now I'll make certain that you can't escape." She proceeded to lift Applejack and slam her into the road three more times. Flashpoint turned to Thunderclap and said, "Throw her in the trunk. It's what she deserves."
Thunderclap laughed, "I thought we didn't want to be too rough with her?"
"She's not dead. It'll do."
Once Applejack was deposited in the trunk, the carriage took off back to Canterlot, and a few minutes after that an exhausted pink earth pony found her way to the shed.
"Did I miss them," Pinkie wondered. Sorrow began to creep into her like a chilling frost, but she shook her head and entered the shed. This would not be a failure. She began to search the shed, and nearly threw up at the sight.
Blood pooled in the corner, and Pinkie knew that Applejack was there. Her friend was hurt, and now she could be anywhere in Equestria.
Enough of that, Pinkie thought, I need to narrow down where she is, and I know she's not here. I need to find out where she could be. Pinkie searched the shed showing care to avoid the bloodstains, but she found nothing inside the shed.
Looking back outside to the carriage tracks, Pinkie found a scrap of paper. Upon closer examination, she saw it was an address to a restaurant in Canterlot. Though not much, it was a better lead than she had. She wiped her brow with a hoof and continued her run to Canterlot.
"I'm gonna need an extra batch of cupcakes once this is over," Pinkie said as she ran.
Trixie looked out the window and saw the mansion. It impressiveness came not from its affluence, but rather from the lack of it. Whoever designed it wanted it to go unnoticed. Just like the kind of pony that would be interested in necromancy, Trixie thought.
The carriage landed and the white mare said, "I shall alert my employer that you wish an audience. Please wait here."
"Very well," Trixie said, "Trixie is in need to stretch her legs."
The mare nodded and disembarked. Once she was out of sight, Trixie turned to the luggage rack and opened the window.
"What are you doing here you foal," she hissed.
"Me? You traitor, you tried to kill Fluttershy, and don't try to deny it. I heard you."
"Rainbow Dash," Trixie said in a whisper, "Please understand that I said what I had to, and I had no choice."
"Oh please, you really expect me to belie-"
"They were going to kill a foal!" When Trixie didn't hear a reply she continued, "I was informed that if I refused to kill Fluttershy, they would kill a patient at the hospital. I couldn't allow that to happen, but I wasn't about to end another life."
"What did you do?"
"I casted the most powerful ward I could think of." A wave of nausea hit Trixie, "In hindsight that might have been a bad idea."
"It's an illegal spell. It utilizes the life force of the caster to protect the recipient. Instead of Fluttershy suffering an injury, I become weaker."
Silence. Suddenly, Rainbow asked, "You used necromancy?"
Trixie stared at the luggage and stammered, "How did you know about that?"
"I remember reading about it somewhere."
Trixie tapped a hoof to her chin and smiled, "Daring Do?"
"Uh, maybe," Rainbow replied, "You've read them?"
Trixie laughed, "Who hasn't? Still, it's good that you have some understanding what-"
"How could you use such evil magic on Fluttershy?"
Trixie rubbed her face with a hoof, "It's not evil. It's only misused."
"Sounds like an evil excuse to me."
"Fine," Trixie said, "Let me put it like this, levitation is a common spell used by unicorns, correct?"
There was no reply from the luggage.
"Did you hear me?"
"Yeah, I nodded. Wait, you can't see me." A slight thump was heard, clearly from a hoof having a quick meeting with a face. "Ok continue."
Trixie cleared her throat, "Ok, well a unicorn could just as easily use the spell to harm somepony. Should the spell be outlawed?"
More silence came from the luggage.
"Don't tell me you're nodding again."
"I'm thinking," Rainbow groaned, "You know, I should be kicking your flank right now. I thought you were trying to hurt Fluttershy. I mean, thank you for casting that spell on her, but why did you do something that put you at risk?"
Trixie leaned back against the seat, "I was hoping you would tell me. I can't explain it, but there is something about that pony that compelled me to protect her."
Rainbow laughed, "She has that effect on ponies. I don't know how she does it, but I guess most ponies just see her shyness as weakness."
Trixie shook her head, "No. There's more to it than that, there has to be. I don't care for the weak, but it would seem that there is strength within that weakness." Trixie groaned in frustration, "That doesn't even make sense. Everything I believe in says that I should despise Fluttershy, but instead, I find myself unable to do anything else but protect her. It's insanity." Trixie's attention shifted back to the mansion. "Keep quiet, she's returning."
"My employer is almost ready to speak with you."
Trixie nodded, "Good, Trixie shall have words with him, but first Trixie is curious about the spell that she is required for."
"It's a spell of great power. Of course, we will need to use a test subject before we attempt the spell on the actual subject, but that's only practical."
"Of course," Trixie said with growing concern, "But what details can you tell me?"
The mare paused clearly agitated that this information wasn't available to her, but she smiled at Trixie and said, "All answers in time." She looked past Trixie and said, "It would appear Zephyr has returned, and it looks as though he has a trophy with him."
Trixie turned and saw a large pegasus stallion carrying badly beaten pony on his shoulder. The pony's coat color seemed familiar, but it wasn't until Trixie saw the cutie mark that her heart nearly stopped. Three red apples, she thought, I know that pony.
The mare smiled at Trixie and said, "I guess we have our test subject."
Trixie turned back and saw the stallion carry Applejack to a cellar, and all she could say was, "I guess so."