A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #361
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by BlasTech View Post
    The shotgun lowers slightly, a frown creasing the big pony's face.

    "Really?" he asks, his voice scratchy from the effects of recent unspeakable events.

    At your tired nod, he shoulders the shotgun and reaches down. The meaty hoof that pulls you out from under the pile of boxes in one smooth, strong, motion is lucky to not tear your forelegs out, but your soon standing free and patting yourself free of dust.

    Paddy meanwhile, has made his own way over to Proper Process, taking only a moment to frisk her and find the remote you talked about, he hoofs it over to you before tossing her prone body on her back.

    "I never really thought you were that much trouble laddyo." he says, as the two of you head towards the exit to the Auditorium. "But you sure have a way of finding it in a hurry. What do you plan to do with her?"

    Before you have a chance to reply, you're nearly bowled over as Milliway barrels past you pushing a transparent capsule containing Starlight Glimmer.

    A second later, Cloudburster comes running past with a black-cloaked bundle on her back. She chucks you a "heyo!" as she bolts past.

    A second after that, Target Practice and three Friendship Patrol ponies charge past with murder in their eyes.

    Finally, following with an air of curiosity more than malice, Regina comes flapping past.

    What do you do?
    "...one sec."

    The Scrapscallion disappeared into the darkness of backstage, and a great clattering and rummaging heralded his coming. Then, his dark work complete, he emerged once more, wheeling a cartload of unconscious mannequins.

    “I’ll, uh, think of something when we get wherever we’re going. C’mon. We got a chase to, chase.”

    Man. Forget one-liner, that was barely even a liner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin View Post
    She gestured at the bubble and directed her eyes elsewhere, and noticed that Scraps of all ponies had managed to join them before the doors had slammed shut. Her heart felt like it skipped a beat.

    Had he seen it? Had she just managed to pull off a big daring rescue while he saw the whole thing?

    While her heart fought to resume normal operations, she stepped back to stand with Cloudburster. There were at the very least three ponies that outranked her here so the issue of what to do now didn't feel like it was really just up to her. She tried not to stare at Scraps, but her eyes just seemed to be drawn in that direction.
    Scraps was, for the moment, counting a pile of oddly-posed mannequins on a cart. It was hard work, especially when he had to spend so much time not looking at the bubble, not looking at Narky, not looking directly at a series of odd hoof signs the pegasus was performing behind Milliway’s back, and definitely not looking at Milliway.
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2021-07-13 at 09:23 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #362
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    She ought to be angry. Ought to be smashing herself against the bubble to get at him. He's alive! That's the bastard who turned her into this! She should be tearing him limb from limb!

    Not, you know, suddenly apathetic?

    He was dead. She heard the message from Milliway, same as Scrapscallion. She'd been conflicted then, but... Well, she's still conflicted. She'd almost felt sad he was gone, sad she wouldn't get her revenge.

    "... You're still alive, I see. Not sure how to feel about that."
    "Likewise!" said Luminark with an air of cautious joviality. "Oh no, I know exactly how I feel about that. Deeply concerned, actually, with that kind of thrill you get to the edge of your teeth when you know you may have to turn a pony into stone to keep them from instituting a centuries long dictatorship, cut with that floaty optimistc feeling you get when you're looking at a magical bubble that seems to be doing the job just fine for now."

    He took a deep breath. "Still, though. When I unleashed that raw magic on you I put my faith in the magic. I didn't know if it was going to kill you or empower you or what. That was the point, Administrator Starlight. I put my faith not in any spell but in magic itself, and if that faith is to mean anything then I have to believe that it's somehow changed you for the better. It means I have to have faith in you, Celestia help me."

  3. - Top - End - #363
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    "It means I have to have faith in you, Celestia help me."
    Starlight does her best not to show how much that stings.

    (Which makes no damn sense, thanks much, feelings. Here's someone who did his level best to take her out. She's wanted him dead for months now. Why should she care what he thinks of her?)

    Wait.

    "Did you just say--Oh! Oh, oho this is too--"

    Ow! Ow, dammit, how is it possible to hurt to laugh like this? There's no organs to hurt! What final unfairness is this?

    "And here I thought your whole goal was to seize control! You know, after you droned about how I was due for retirement, murdered me, and installed yourself as Administrator? How silly of me not to realize you just wanted to drench me in unstable magical goo for friendship?"
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  4. - Top - End - #364
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    "And here I thought your whole goal was to seize control! You know, after you droned about how I was due for retirement, murdered me, and installed yourself as Administrator? How silly of me not to realize you just wanted to drench me in unstable magical goo for friendship?"
    "The Administratorship was a horrible thankless task that I only took because there was literally nopony more sane or qualified than me," said Luminark, "and it ended in me being assassinated in turn and having to claw myself back from the dead literally and metaphorically. So no, I didn't want power, Starlight," said Luminark. "I just wanted to stop being scared for ten seconds. Seizing bureaucratic power sure as hell wasn't going to do that, and I've seen enough arcane power to know it wasn't going to do that either. That only left one power source left, and that is trusting that ponies are good, can grow, and can change despite all evidence to the contrary. Even if it's not true I need to proceed as though it is because every other option has been ruled out."

    He took a deep breath. "So here goes."

    And he touched his horn to the bubble to pop it.

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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Something weird was going on with Scraps. Even if she let the fact that he was lugging around mannequins for some unfathomable reason slide, surely they did not need quite that close scrutiny.

    Then there was her new friend. Something weird was going on with her too. Everytime she looked at her she seemed to be exactly the kind of relaxed that suggested she was anything but.

    Interested in hearing what exactly had gone down between the Administrators, Milliway decided to just let the Weird Duo be for now and pricked up her ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    "Still, though. When I unleashed that raw magic on you I put my faith in the magic. I didn't know if it was going to kill you or empower you or what. That was the point, Administrator Starlight. I put my faith not in any spell but in magic itself, and if that faith is to mean anything then I have to believe that it's somehow changed you for the better. It means I have to have faith in you, Celestia help me."
    Well. So much for the 'enforced holiday' thing. Then again, it wasn't as if she'd really believed it so she couldn't claim to be surprised. Unleashing of raw magic? Yeah that sounded like like attempted homicide to her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    "And here I thought your whole goal was to seize control! You know, after you droned about how I was due for retirement, murdered me, and installed yourself as Administrator? How silly of me not to realize you just wanted to drench me in unstable magical goo for friendship?"
    "Sounds like standard Friendship Training practice to me," Milliway muttered under her breath.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    "The Administratorship was a horrible thankless task that I only took because there was literally nopony more sane or qualified than me," said Luminark, "and it ended in me being assassinated in turn and having to claw myself back from the dead literally and metaphorically. So no, I didn't want power, Starlight," said Luminark.
    Milliway bowed her head and her cheeks burned with shame, feeling the surge of guilt suddenly boil to the surface once more at the hoof she'd had in all of that. Giving him back the library was a start but she knew it didn't make up for her share in their past wars. It was good that the Archmage was at his side, even if she was perhaps unnecessarily close. The two of them were both devoted to magic, unlike her who had tried her very best to just shove it under the carpet and pretend it wasn't there.

    He took a deep breath. "So here goes."

    And he touched his horn to the bubble to pop it.
    Wait, what?

    Suddenly snapping out of her own thoughts she looked up just as Luminark placed his horn to the bubble and she was too late to shout any protest and could only gasp and step back, instinctively shielding the cloaked bundle from whatever magic explosion was about to happen.
    "For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel."
    ~ Neil Gaiman

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  6. - Top - End - #366
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Poik!

    The bubble over her head disappears, and Starlight scowls at it. She coulda done that. Had a button and everything.

    "And how is that going for you?" she snarks. "Hmm. Bunker in chaos. Factions revolting. Enemies at our door--and thank you so much for broadcasting 'valuable loot here' to the wasteland, by the way, very helpful--and the one person who has any semblance of a plan is actively egging things on. My, my, how wonderful friendship is."

    There's a bitterness to how she spits that word, like it's acid on her tongue.

    "You may not like how I ran things. But I held things together! For two hundred years! Kept things running! Kept us safe! Kept all you maniacs from tearing each other to pieces, kept the experiments from warping our reality through some dungeon dimension every Tuesday afternoon because it sounded like a good idea at the time!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin
    "Sounds like standard Friendship Training practice to me," Milliway muttered under her breath.
    Starlight hesitates, her rant subtly derailed.

    "And. And it, uh. I, uh."

    She takes in the scene again with fresher and wearier eyes.

    "And maybe, in some small ways that nobody could have predicted, I, er. I might have crossed. Crossed a few lines. Maybe. Ish. In doing so."
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  7. - Top - End - #367
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    "The world functioned for a thousand years without your control, Starlight," said Luminark, and he seemed just as tired. "A thousand years of harmony, more or less, with no secret police, no engines of war, no ministries and no megaspells. Within the span of a decade six ponies reorganized society for battle and the results were catastrophic - and yet you have spent the past two hundred years striving to keep their mad reforms in place. The Ministry Mares were wrong, Starlight. They were bad ponies and bad friends and they broke the world. You've just been keeping their mistakes alive for two hundred years, and the chaos you're so afraid of is the inevitable result of trying to maintain absolute control."
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2021-08-01 at 04:50 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #368
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    “Tch.”

    Incredible, how the smallest sounds carry so far in a Library.

    The Scrapscallion tosses the loose ends of cable over the freshly-bound bundle of mannequins. “Somepony figure out what these spooks are; I need to get me a new jacket.” And without another word, he stomps off to raid the stacks.

    He doesn’t once look at you, Starlight. You can hear, in the quiet corners of your mind, the disgust keeping his gaze forward.

    Held things together, all on your lonesome, for two hundred years. How is that going for you, former Adminstrator?
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  9. - Top - End - #369
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Milliway did a double take as she saw Scraps walk off. He seemed displeased, or perhaps upset or angry with something. Or somepony. She stared at the weird mannequins he left behind without really seeing them as the niggling worry that she was the one he was walking out on.

    It wasn’t as if she hadn’t given him cause to, and addressing that was one of the things still to be crossed off her mental to do list.

    Still, he’d seemed different when they ran in to each other before. And she did what he said. Sort of.

    Shouldering the burden of the cloak covered House once more she gave her Pegasus friend a decided well-here-it-goes-it-was-nice-knowing-you look before drawing a deep breath and following Scraps in to the stacks.

    She made sure they were out of earshot of the others before she called his name.

    “Scrapscallion?”
    "For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel."
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  10. - Top - End - #370
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Why isn't she shouting right now? She should be shouting, declaring loudly to the world that no, he's wrong. Or if he's wrong, it's because he's actually right! Yeah, the Ministry Mares didn't know what they were doing! They trusted her with a facility to do with as she pleased! No guidelines! Told her to make miracles happen and she delivered! Made it work, kept things together, even through the end of the world!

    They trusted her.

    She should be shouting. Angry. But she is so very tired, and Scrapscallion seems to have taken all her will with him.

    "Moondancer," she murmurs. "You were there too. You remember them. Were they really that bad?"
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  11. - Top - End - #371
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    "The world functioned for a thousand years without your control, Starlight," said Luminark, and he seemed just as tired. "A thousand years of harmony, more or less, with no secret police, no engines of war, no ministries and no megaspells. Within the span of a decade six ponies reorganized society for battle and the results were catastrophic - and yet you have spent the past two hundred years striving to keep their mad reforms in place. The Ministry Mares were wrong, Starlight. They were bad ponies and bad friends and they broke the world. You've just been keeping their mistakes alive for two hundred years, and the chaos you're so afraid of is the inevitable result of trying to maintain absolute control."
    Moondancer shuffles a little as you say this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    Why isn't she shouting right now? She should be shouting, declaring loudly to the world that no, he's wrong. Or if he's wrong, it's because he's actually right! Yeah, the Ministry Mares didn't know what they were doing! They trusted her with a facility to do with as she pleased! No guidelines! Told her to make miracles happen and she delivered! Made it work, kept things together, even through the end of the world!

    They trusted her.

    She should be shouting. Angry. But she is so very tired, and Scrapscallion seems to have taken all her will with him.

    "Moondancer," she murmurs. "You were there too. You remember them. Were they really that bad?"
    "Uhm. Yes ... and no"" she starts, adjusting her glasses and shutting the book she's been reading the whole time all of you have been speaking. There's a moment where you wonder why she's reading about courtship of all things, before it vanishes in a puff of fuchsia magic.

    "I'm sorry, but according to chapter thirteen, honesty is important in a relationship - so I have to say my piece." turning back to Starlight. "I agree they made mistakes, but I don't agree that they were bad ponies. Or even bad friends."

    She glances at Luminark.

    "Just think about what you said. A thousand years of Harmony. A thousand years of Peace. None of us, the princesses or the Elements, had any context for what we found ourselves dealing with. I can't imagine the pressures that each of those ponies faced, nor the pressures that ultimately pulled them in different directions. While I honestly didn't have much to do with the Elements before the war, I remember Twilight at least. And if I had to describe her I'd just say she was ... out of her depth."

    "Just like the rest of us." she finishes, looking at Glimmer. "Nopony sets out to break the world. We only tried the best we could with all we knew."

  12. - Top - End - #372
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin View Post
    Milliway did a double take as she saw Scraps walk off. He seemed displeased, or perhaps upset or angry with something. Or somepony. She stared at the weird mannequins he left behind without really seeing them as the niggling worry that she was the one he was walking out on.

    It wasn’t as if she hadn’t given him cause to, and addressing that was one of the things still to be crossed off her mental to do list.

    Still, he’d seemed different when they ran in to each other before. And she did what he said. Sort of.

    Shouldering the burden of the cloak covered House once more she gave her Pegasus friend a decided well-here-it-goes-it-was-nice-knowing-you look before drawing a deep breath and following Scraps in to the stacks.

    She made sure they were out of earshot of the others before she called his name.

    “Scrapscallion?”
    The Scrapscallion froze.

    Milliway?!

    What was she doing, following him? He’d walked out on Starlight, not her! This was against every rule in the dramatic exit book! She wasn’t supposed to. It’s too early for. What about him right now could?!

    What’s even the point?

    The Scrapscallion turned to face her. What was left of him, anyway. Those dashing goggles of his were nothing more than shattered glass, hanging on a worn strip of leather. The jacket that was his pride and joy, his signature look, hung on him in tatters. You could be forgiven, Milliway, for thinking that you’ve accidentally mistaken some random, normal pony for the Scrapscallion, but fear not! Here he is. He is here. And there you are. Alone at last with the great, dashing, super cool hero of the Wasteland. Looking at you with the same dread of a sick patient, awaiting the formality of a diagnosis.

    “Yeah? What do you want?"
    Last edited by TheAmishPirate; 2021-08-24 at 07:49 AM.
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  13. - Top - End - #373
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Luminark listened to what Moondancer was saying. Quietly, seriously. And then his eyes flicked back across to Starlight.

    Is that it, Starlight? Were you out of your depth? For as judgemental as he's been, he's not judging here. He's just tired and wants the truth.

  14. - Top - End - #374
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Starlight meets Luminark's gaze, but can't hold it.

    "And none of us thought the world would actually end," she admits. "Weeks--days--from the war being over. And then the sirens sound, the warnings go out, the doors shut, and we're alone with nothing but balefire outside."

    Why didn't she open the doors? Let them out?

    "And... Well, you've seen the archives. You ran them. Tended them. Tucked the unruly ones to bed, tightened the wards."

    But surely there's some good in them as well, right? They were working wonders. There's healing in there as well, isn't there?

    "And I don't..."

    But if she lets them out, then they might... Might leave her. Might decide they don't need her ideas, her protection.

    "I thought we needed a leader."

    Still doesn't remember that night. Is getting back some of the rest.

    "And I woke up without a name but with a couple hundred ponies needing care, restraint, and answers."

    She stares at the floor and scoffs.

    "So no, I didn't know what I was doing. And I still don't. I've been trying to keep abreast of a thousand different things through sheer force of will and personality, and now they're all falling to pieces around me. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
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  15. - Top - End - #375
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    The Scrapscallion froze.

    Milliway?!

    What was she doing, following him? He’d walked out on Starlight, not her! This was against every rule in the dramatic exit book! She wasn’t supposed to. It’s too early for. What about him right now could?!

    What’s even the point?

    The Scrapscallion turned to face her. What was left of him, anyway. Those dashing goggles of his were nothing more than shattered glass, hanging on a worn strip of leather. The jacket that was his pride and joy, his signature look, hung on him in tatters. You could be forgiven, Milliway, for thinking that you’ve accidentally mistaken some random, normal pony for the Scrapscallion, but fear not! Here he is. He is here. And there you are. Alone at last with the great, dashing, super cool hero of the Wasteland. Looking at you with the same dread of a sick patient, awaiting the formality of a diagnosis.

    “Yeah? What do you want?"
    He seemed tired. More than tired. The kind of tired you get once you’ve moved from tired through exhausted and past wiped out until you came out the other end. Maybe… maybe this was a really bad time for this.

    Yeah… it really was.

    Turn around and walk back and stow this for The Perfect Moment. It’s sure to come along post haste.

    “Well, uh…” she looked away, unable to meet his eyes for long.

    “Thought maybe I could lend you a hoof,” she tried, “I designed the new archive system in the library so if you need to find something then I’m your mare. Not that I’m y- I mean- as in, uh, I know where stuff is. Are. Because I, uh, put them… there.”

    Nope.

    Not good enough. Not by a mile.

    “And I, I wanted to say… some things… in private. And this is about as private as it’s likely to get right? Besides the others are just getting in to it so they’ll likely be a while and I thought that that might mean that we have time to…”

    She looked up to meet his eyes, but it felt like lifting weights to do so.

    “…talk.”
    "For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel."
    ~ Neil Gaiman

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  16. - Top - End - #376
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    "It strikes me from all the historical records that I read about the Ministry Mares," said Luminark, "that each of them was individually trying to keep everything together through sheer force of will and personality. Force... that's the right word. Maximize Equestria's military force. Maximize Equestria's magical force. Use a force of secret police to keep control. Engineer the ultimate weapon to force the other side to back down. Force, everywhere I looked at those final years, it was always force. Ponies who don't know what they're doing but using force to back it up."

    He looked at a faded wall poster, the lavender and blue almost dissolved to the same hues of the bunker metal behind it. Harmony means you and me! "But the older books have leaders getting along without the use of force. They have leaders who are accepted because they are beloved and righteous and in tune with their communities. And just like magic goes toxic when you force it into certain shapes, maybe ponies do too."

  17. - Top - End - #377
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Starlight hesitates, and joins Luminark in staring at the poster. Meets the faded turqoise gaze staring back at her. Yellow. Shy. Did the diary mention a name? Remembers only a little--whispers hidden behind a shield of mane.

    Didn't talk to that one much, now that she thinks about it. Not part of Arcane Sciences.

    How often did she see the other Ministry Mares visit? Not to coordinate an inter-Ministry effort. Not the orange one working on those walking eggshells.

    "And a lot of ponies got hurt as a result."

    She doesn't want it to be true. Wants to tell herself it was for the greater good. That each sacrifice was made with the best of intentions.

    "I."

    She swallows. Shuts her mouth. Still can't bring herself to look away from the poster. She had to maintain order! Keep discipline! Keep things from descending into madness.

    The words sit in her throat like vomit, acidic and burning, and when she speaks it's in a whisper, hoarse and halting.

    "I. I've hurt. A lot of ponies. Haven't I."
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    A few weeks ago, the Scrapscallion would’ve found a way out. Staring down the barrel of the conversation - a recurring feature of both his dreams and nightmares - without an idea in his brain of how to make it anything but a disaster? No thank you. That sounded dumb, and bad, and like it’d probably hurt a lot, so that’d be a hard pass from him.

    But a few weeks ago, the Scrapscallion hadn’t known what it was like to live in a world where the conversation might never happen. Today, the Scrapscallion knew he’d been given a chance he didn’t deserve, and another one might not ever come.

    So. It had to be now, didn’t it?

    “Yeah.” He croaked. Stars, words were bad, and his voice was worse, but it was this, or nothing, and he couldn’t do nothing. Not again. “Yeah, I think we got time. And. It’d be faster if you show me where the dang jackets are.” Faster than him wandering the aisles, probably.
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    So. It had to be now, didn’t it?

    “Yeah.” He croaked. Stars, words were bad, and his voice was worse, but it was this, or nothing, and he couldn’t do nothing. Not again. “Yeah, I think we got time. And. It’d be faster if you show me where the dang jackets are.” Faster than him wandering the aisles, probably.
    Milliway hadn’t really expected that Scraps would run screaming but his quiet agreement seemed almost just as unlike him too and a beat passed before she snapped to and grabbed the ball that was slowly rolling towards her in her court.

    “…yeah. Sure. Yes, of course,” she stated to walk down the stacks, just walking straight on and taking a wide detour towards the parts of the library were he might find what he was looking for. Not to stall, you understand, just… buying time to gather her thoughts.

    In my defence I didn’t know-
    No. Don’t go there. As if anything could excuse what you did.

    I had no idea you’d be good.
    Worst. Words. Of all. Time.

    In a way perhaps it’s just as well I crushed you because-
    Just stop. Please stop.

    I wish I hadn’t kissed you.

    She directed a glance to him where he walked at her side. Perhaps that was what she should say. But then again… it was a lie, though? Wasn’t it? Despite all the hurt it had caused, and how much she wished she could change how things had happened, the precise moment, that frozen few seconds when all had fallen away and there had been nothing but the two of them, that was a moment she knew she would never be able to let go. It shone like a tiny gemstone. Perhaps cracked and flawed by all the horrible that had come both before and after but on its own it was still beautiful.

    “Luminark and I…” she began, not entirely sure where exactly this sentence was going. “We’ve been locked in to this… nemesis thing since, well, since forever. Getting in each other’s way, messing with plans, tripping each other up… until it became this… obsession. This all-consuming, vicious… secret war.”

    “But it’s over now. Like, over over. No more. From now on, whatever happens with Luminark and his magic is none of my concern. Him and his, library and his… hat-thing and Moondancer,” it’s fine, it’s fine, “complete Milliway-free zone,” she gestured.

    She lowered her head and breathed a slow steadying breath. “You deserved better than me dragging you in to the firing line of all that toxic mess,” she said and swallowed hard. She paused her steps and mustered every last ounce of strength to lift her head to meet his eyes. “I- I’m sorry.”
    Last edited by Elanorin; 2021-09-12 at 01:21 PM.
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  20. - Top - End - #380
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    "I. I've hurt. A lot of ponies. Haven't I."
    "Yeah, Starlight," said Luminark quietly. "You have."

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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    It's not possible. She doesn't make mistakes. She's Starlight Glimmer, administrator, head chief princess in charge of everything, because she knows what to do. Gives good advice. Always has an answer for the tough questions. Can do the calculus of survival that other ponies can't or won't do. She's perfect! She has to be!

    Because if she isn't, then they don't need her. Might decide they don't want her. Might leave her.

    She really thought she could just come back, didn't she? Waltz in, take her place at her desk, and it would be like she never left. Her ponies would embrace her with open arms, because they loved her, accepted her, admired her.

    They want to execute her. Want her dead or, at least, out of their lives. Want to use her as a distraction in a play for control.

    "I don't know how to fix this," she croaks. "All of this, I mean. My ponies hate me and... I don't know how to make it right."
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  22. - Top - End - #382
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin View Post
    “Luminark and I…” she began, not entirely sure where exactly this sentence was going. “We’ve been locked in to this… nemesis thing since, well, since forever. Getting in each other’s way, messing with plans, tripping each other up… until it became this… obsession. This all-consuming, vicious… secret war.”

    “But it’s over now. Like, over over. No more. From now on, whatever happens with Luminark and his magic is none of my concern. Him and his, library and his… hat-thing and Moondancer,” it’s fine, it’s fine, “complete Milliway-free zone,” she gestured.

    She lowered her head and breathed a slow steadying breath. “You deserved better than me dragging you in to the firing line of all that toxic mess,” she said and swallowed hard. She paused her steps and mustered every last ounce of strength to lift her head to meet his eyes. “I- I’m sorry.”
    He doesn’t move. He hardly breathes. Libraries, civil wars, impending doom, none of that really mattered compared to her, standing beside him, looking into his eyes.

    Milliway was sorry.

    Milliway knew she did him wrong.

    And. And she said so. Herself. And the only thing he did was show up.

    What. What’s up with that, huh? Why’d you do that? Why?! You knew how much that was gonna hurt! You didn’t want to pour your heart out in the first place! You knew he coulda slapped your apology right in your face! Maybe he will! Wouldn’t that be something, to show the mare who broke his heart what’s what. Wouldn’t that be a real Scrapscallion move. Turnaround’s fair play, right? Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?!

    So. Why?

    Why’re you being this brave. For him?

    “C’mon. You didn’t need to do all that. Yourself.” He tries to say through the heart lodged in his throat. “I was, meaning to, y’know. Bring it up sometime, here, and…” And now he’d never know. The opportunity passed him, and he’d never even known. “And. Thanks. I mean it, thanks. But. Like. That’s a lot, with you and Luminark, life story all out there, promises, and, and. Y’know.” Looking him in the eye, when he could hurt you the most. “All that, for the Scrapscallion?”

    He swallowed.

    You deserved better...

    “You really need to go that far for him?”
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  23. - Top - End - #383
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    "I don't know how it is with anypony else, Glimmer," said Luminark. "But I don't hate you. I don't even need you to atone. I just want you to stop hurting ponies. For me, it'd be enough if you just stopped doing the bad things. Figuring out how to be good is a lesson for another day, for now just... deciding that you need to learn it is enough."

  24. - Top - End - #384
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    "Of course" adds Moondancer, carefully picking her words.

    "If you did want to atone, there are things that need help. It wouldn't magically make everything right again ... but it would be at least a start."

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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    “C’mon. You didn’t need to do all that. Yourself.” He tries to say through the heart lodged in his throat. “I was, meaning to, y’know. Bring it up sometime, here, and…” And now he’d never know. The opportunity passed him, and he’d never even known. “And. Thanks. I mean it, thanks. But. Like. That’s a lot, with you and Luminark, life story all out there, promises, and, and. Y’know.” Looking him in the eye, when he could hurt you the most. “All that, for the Scrapscallion?”

    He swallowed.

    You deserved better...

    “You really need to go that far for him?”
    His eyes were wide and he stood so very still. Was he even breathing?

    The relief she'd expected to feel after finally owning up to her crime had yet to materialise and she was beginning to wonder if it was coming at all.

    She knew for absolute certain that she had not been mistaken when she realised she'd hurt him, that he'd really cared for her. But in all the time she'd known him he'd always been free to the wind, come and go, not once had she seen him committed to anypony, in any way. It was entirely possible that he'd take her apology and run for the hills. Was that what he was saying? 'Appreciate the effort but easy now.' Having had feelings for somepony did not automatically lead to walks in to the sunset and forever afters.

    They'd never had a deep heart to heart, unless you counted that brief and interrupted call for help. Was that sudden shift to third person yet another sign of him reaching for measures of distance to pad in to the seemingly quickly narrowing space between them? For all she knew he no longer felt that way about her. And if so, could she really blame him?

    Yes, maybe she should stop here. The apology that had been burning away in her chest, resting heavy as a boulder in her conscience, had been said. She had done the right thing. She'd said sorry and he'd heard her, he'd even accepted it. Yes. This was a good place for moving on.

    And yet this conversation did not feel over.

    "Yes," she answered, her voice quiet.

    I'd go further than that.

    Her eyes finally broke eyecontact and paused at his lips for a single second before looking away, but it was long enough for a single swell of heat to flush to her skin at the memory of their kiss.

    "Where were you?" she asked with a voice that was unsteady. "When I called."

    Are you going back? She opened her mouth once more to voice what she really wanted to know, but no sound came.
    Last edited by Elanorin; 2021-09-27 at 09:11 AM.
    "For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel."
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    "Just because I'm sorry doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it at the time."
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  26. - Top - End - #386
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin View Post
    "Yes," she answered, her voice quiet.

    I'd go further than that.

    Her eyes finally broke eyecontact and paused at his lips for a single second before looking away, but it was long enough for a single swell of heat to flush to her skin at the memory of their kiss.

    "Where were you?" she asked with a voice that was unsteady. "When I called."

    Are you going back? She opened her mouth once more to voice what she really wanted to know, but no sound came.
    Yes? And…what? You didn’t think he’d ever get around to mentioning it, so you knew you had to bring it up yourself? You felt so bad about it that you wanted to go as big as possible on the apology? You actually meant no? What? What?!

    Don’t leave him at yes. Please. Even if you’re wrong about him, don’t leave him at yes.

    “Dunno exactly. Maybe...couple hundred miles, northeast-ish? Outside an Enclave base, about to knock it over.” Without thinking, he reached into one of the few working pockets he had left, and pulled out the Peregrin’s battered old walkie-talkie radio. Could probably stop carrying it now that he, y’know, made it here and all. He checked it anyway. The static felt...comforting. Familiar. “It was me, a couple of Rangers, and that pegasus-”

    Wait.

    “Hey, uh, speaking of, she didn’t give you any trouble earlier, did she? I saw the two of you in the auditorium, and, uh…” Look. He’d only just gotten into a world where Milliway could make mistakes. How was he supposed to ask her about a wicked fight she was in?! “I mean, I told her about you, so she should’ve known, and, you’re not hurt, right?” He stuffed the radio back whence it came, and gave Milliway a quick, but thorough glancing-over for collateral damage. Like, obviously the pegasus survived, and that’s good luck for her, but you know how it goes; sometimes when you swing and/or throw a chair at somepony, you get caught in the blast zone.
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  27. - Top - End - #387
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Starlight studies her hooves with the intensity of someone afraid to look anywhere else.

    It's not too late to run, really. Scratch one experiement that went wrong. Rebuild somewhere else. It's a beautiful day, apparently. She could do it, probably. Those ghouls in Canterlot will want a technician. She's got a hellhound who'll want her back in his bed. Bring in some pre-war artifacts, spruce up the cave with a little color, it'll be great!

    But she knows, now. Would keep on knowing that it's her fault. Would have to screw up that little nauseating pill of memory and tell herself it's not her fault everything fell apart. Hope she never met any of them in the wastes, after.

    "I think I can do that. I can't promise perfection--"

    Gah. Is it supposed to sting like that?

    "But... I have to try. Have to fix this."

    She scuffs one hoof against the floor and scoffs bitterly. "Sure hope you have a better plan for that than I do. Enemies outside, Proper Process sending the bunker into chaos, and any second now Target Practice is gonna roll in and try to use my head as his namesake. Thoughts?"
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  28. - Top - End - #388
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate View Post
    “Dunno exactly. Maybe...couple hundred miles, northeast-ish? Outside an Enclave base, about to knock it over.” Without thinking, he reached into one of the few working pockets he had left, and pulled out the Peregrin’s battered old walkie-talkie radio. Could probably stop carrying it now that he, y’know, made it here and all. He checked it anyway. The static felt...comforting. Familiar. “It was me, a couple of Rangers, and that pegasus-”

    Wait.

    “Hey, uh, speaking of, she didn’t give you any trouble earlier, did she? I saw the two of you in the auditorium, and, uh…” Look. He’d only just gotten into a world where Milliway could make mistakes. How was he supposed to ask her about a wicked fight she was in?! “I mean, I told her about you, so she should’ve known, and, you’re not hurt, right?” He stuffed the radio back whence it came, and gave Milliway a quick, but thorough glancing-over for collateral damage. Like, obviously the pegasus survived, and that’s good luck for her, but you know how it goes; sometimes when you swing and/or throw a chair at somepony, you get caught in the blast zone.
    Milliway visibly relaxed at the change in subject to something much less minefield-like. Her shoulders dropped a fraction. Her eyes brightened. Her ears pricked up. Her tail did a little swish. Other than the odd scrape, a few signs of bruises beginning to develop and perhaps a slight limp, she seems fine.

    "Oh. That," she said, her voice gaining renewed energy from the relief of firmer conversational ground underhoof. "She's got a pretty mean right hoof, I have to say. And wing." Milliway rubbed the side of her face a little. "I didn't really take the time to look around after, what with the execution and all, but it's entirely possible that we pretty much trashed that auditorium," she grinned a little sheepishly but with a hint of mischievous pride. "It was a pretty great fight, actually," she said and smiled even wider. "There were a few moments when I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to take her but I managed to remain standing a few moments longer than she did. Long enough to make my point anyway." Milliway made a satisfied nod to herself. "She's great though. Best friends now. That fight was just us... Well- We just... i-it was because..."

    I had to stop her from trying to sleep with you.

    Stop her from trying to kiss you.

    Stop her from looking at you.


    Was it though? It had been an act. An infuriating and convincing act, but among the dust and rubble as they lay exhausted from their fight, the truth had come out, she'd just pretended. The pegasus was not been interested in pursuing him. And, hell, after the story she'd heard of what had happened and how she'd come to the ground, she believed it. It had been nothing but an empty threat. Just to rile her up. Just to make her... confess... that...

    I have feelings for you.

    Feelings other than guilt.

    Milliway suddenly blushed profusely and was entirely unable to look him in the eyes. Anywhere else. Anywhere. Her own hooves. The floor. The books. The shelves. The odd dead decibug covered in cobweb.

    She straightened her mane, suddenly realising she hadn't looked in a mirror between now and violently demolishing the auditorium. Too late now.

    "U-Up here." She cleared her throat and nodded up ahead. "I think, there's some, uh, jackets and... coats." Mercy, it was getting hot in here.

    In truth she had no idea if there were even anything vaguely resembling fabric up on the stacks ahead, nevermind clothing. Her mind was suddenly a complete blank at the instant shutdown of nearly having blurted out... the thing... that she had nearly said.

    Oh heavens, it was actually true, wasn't it? It felt true. Now. That he was right here. Why else was her mouth so dry and her face so hot and her mane so itchy and the notion of him finding out, both the most seductive and panic-inducing thought in her head.

    That kiss, she thought, as little beads of sweat began to form along the hairline of her mane down her neck.
    "For love is no part of the dreamworld. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel."
    ~ Neil Gaiman

    "Just because I'm sorry doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it at the time."
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  29. - Top - End - #389
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    Default Re: [MLP] Cloudbreak II: Towards the sun

    Quote Originally Posted by Elanorin View Post
    Milliway visibly relaxed at the change in subject to something much less minefield-like. Her shoulders dropped a fraction. Her eyes brightened. Her ears pricked up. Her tail did a little swish. Other than the odd scrape, a few signs of bruises beginning to develop and perhaps a slight limp, she seems fine.

    "Oh. That," she said, her voice gaining renewed energy from the relief of firmer conversational ground underhoof. "She's got a pretty mean right hoof, I have to say. And wing." Milliway rubbed the side of her face a little. "I didn't really take the time to look around after, what with the execution and all, but it's entirely possible that we pretty much trashed that auditorium," she grinned a little sheepishly but with a hint of mischievous pride. "It was a pretty great fight, actually," she said and smiled even wider. "There were a few moments when I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to take her but I managed to remain standing a few moments longer than she did. Long enough to make my point anyway." Milliway made a satisfied nod to herself. "She's great though. Best friends now. That fight was just us... Well- We just... i-it was because..."

    I had to stop her from trying to sleep with you.

    Stop her from trying to kiss you.

    Stop her from looking at you.


    Was it though? It had been an act. An infuriating and convincing act, but among the dust and rubble as they lay exhausted from their fight, the truth had come out, she'd just pretended. The pegasus was not been interested in pursuing him. And, hell, after the story she'd heard of what had happened and how she'd come to the ground, she believed it. It had been nothing but an empty threat. Just to rile her up. Just to make her... confess... that...

    I have feelings for you.

    Feelings other than guilt.

    Milliway suddenly blushed profusely and was entirely unable to look him in the eyes. Anywhere else. Anywhere. Her own hooves. The floor. The books. The shelves. The odd dead decibug covered in cobweb.

    She straightened her mane, suddenly realising she hadn't looked in a mirror between now and violently demolishing the auditorium. Too late now.

    "U-Up here." She cleared her throat and nodded up ahead. "I think, there's some, uh, jackets and... coats."
    There it is. There's the light coming back. She just can't hide it, can she? That's the face of Milliway when she's got something exciting. She stopped seeing the world around her, and starts seeing something even better, something that she's got to get her eyes real wide to see. And, and, no matter how much she tries to keep it all business, the tail gives it away every time. Every time! There it goes! Swish! Stars, doesn't it make you want to just-?

    His hoof slipped past her shoulder and found her back. It landed square above a patch of soft coat between bits of sharp augmentation. Like he knew where to aim, even through her robes.

    "Hey."

    He waits. He waits for you to look. You gotta see the tender look in his eyes, the soft smile, that little flash of teeth. How else are you going to know he means it?

    "It's all right. I get it"

    You don’t have to say anything. Not here. Not when it’s just the two of you, now. Breathe. Let go. Trust him...

    "I've gotten into a ton of fights over stupid stuff too. It's cool"

    Pat pat pat. And he's off down the aisle. The coats have got to be around here somewhere. She wouldn't have just taken him to some random part of the library. I mean, she totally could. Maybe she would. Maybe she did! Hay if he knows. Either way, he's not gonna be finding any jackets. Not right now.

    Yes.

    No road stays safe. What was around the bend yesterday might be gone today, and might be back with friends tomorrow. The easy path doesn't care about the last hundred times you rode it. Today, it's trip #101, and now the earth is trying to gobble you up. Roads were the the most unboring thing in a world constantly inventing new ways to be lame and boring. And, maybe that's why being around Milliway lit that same spark in his blood. Never know what she's going to say next, do next, be next.

    But not today. There’s no spark today. Just.

    She left me at yes.

    Tired.

    No road stays safe. No road just takes you where you want to go either. Where you might need to go. Whatever else he might be, he was a driver. Hell or high water, he had to travel the roads.

    "So." He barreled through the silence. "This. Reminds me of a story. And, seeing how we've got time and all." Pause, to stick his entire face into a box of jangly scrap. To search, you see. Not for hiding. Never for hiding. "Might help us pick out the right jacket too. 'Cause. Some say." He shot a sidelong glance down the aisle. Towards the light. Where Milliway stood. "This is a story about the Scrapscallion's first ride.'

    He swallowed.

    "Do you...wanna hear it?"
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