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  1. names

    hi everypony i need a name for my strange prof natasha, i could not find one by myself, i renamed my rocket launcher pinkie pie Party Cannon and my flamethrower party blower
  2. Hey guys! I wanted to change the old post name for my custom skins to just “Custom Skins” instead of “Halloween Custom Skins” but the only thing I can do is hide it. So, I hid the post and made a new one! This is where I will be posting my custom skins for EVERYONE to download! How to install: It's one single basic step! Unpack the zip inside your steam/steamapps/common/Team Fortress 2/tf folder I also am posting my halloween custom skins in this post here so yeah here we go! Rainbow Factory Dash: Preview: Download: Future Twilight/ Solid Sparkle: Preview: Download: Danger Suit Fluttershy: Preview: Download: Lil' Miss Rarity: Preview: Download: Timberjack: Preview: Download: Alushy: Preview: Download: All right then have a good day everybody and if you want to suggest a custom skin type it below! PS: FNaP (Five Nights At Pinkies) Has been postpone'd for reasons I will not say
  3. ((Hey guys, I've settled on a Wednesday release. Again, feedback is welcomed, and a big shout-out to DarqTempest and Cinnamon Groove, for helping out!)) The stallion behind the bar knew what he was doing. He juggled glasses, flipped bottles, and poured mixed drinks with an extreme speed, with everyone around him entranced. Rainbow Dash was hovering over head, watching the spectacle with dreamy eyes. Applejack, who was barely woozy, despite the amount of alcohol that was in her system, was sitting right at the bar, entranced as the glasses flew through the air. “Wait… Is that…?” Lightning was suddenly alert. His previous experience with a red and black stallion hadn’t ended so well. “It can’t be… You didn’t exactly go easy on Darkly… There’s no way he made it out of that…” Fluttershy said, putting a hoof on his shoulder in comfort. “…alright. Let’s go see what he’s about, then.” Lightning gently lifted Rarity off of his flank, set her head down on the seat, and started heading towards the bartender, Fluttershy staying close to him. When they reached the bar, the stallion was juggling full glasses of vodka, sliding them down the bar to their recipients one by one, adding a shot of tonic here, a shot of lemon there. His deftness was unmatched, and soon, Lightning and Fluttershy were just as hypnotized as everyone else. The stallion finished passing out the vodka, then rang a bell. “Last call!” Suddenly, everyone at the bar realized what was just announced, and bits were quickly stacking up on the bar. The stallion smirked, and then quickly started filling orders. He never asked someone what their order was, as he had heard every single individual order, and filled them with speed. Glasses flew down the bar, some even taking to the air without spilling a drop. To everyone at bar, the spectacle was nothing short of mind-blowing. The speed and dexterity of this stallion that no one had seen before was enrapturing them, and even Rainbow Dash had started to seem slightly drawn to him. Lightning’s eyes narrowed. “What the hell is with this?” Fluttershy jumped at the opportunity. “She doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to you right now, huh? Maybe we should just leave.” “No, I just don’t get it… Something’s off about him. The tricks and stuff are fine, and Dash can act however she wants, but something about this stallion isn’t right…” “Ohh… Well, maybe he just reminds you too much of Darkly… I think you’re just overreacting.” “Maybe…” This rumination was cut short by a noise outside. The noise was reminiscent of paws scratching at the ground, and then, a screech sounded. Lightning dashed out to find two large dogs trashing a large section of town. Carts were overturned, ponies were laying about, some blood had been spilled, and saddlebags laid around, torn open and trashed. The dogs both had a pouch, filled with gems. “Diamond dogs…” Lightning growled, gritting his teeth. “Rover… We have a problem, here.” The shortest one said, pointing in Lightning’s direction. “Don’t worry about him, Spot. Get Fido and meet back here,” said Rover, apparently the leader. “Yes, sir,” Spot barked, running off into town. “So…” said Lightning. “You used the new place opening to your advantage. Used that distraction to get us while most of us were preoccupied.” “You know much for a dumb mule…” growled Rover, crouching down, ready to fight. “What gives you such insight?” “I used to live like you, surviving in the Everfree Forest. The move you’ve made has already occurred to me many times, but I never had an opportunity or the need to attack the town, not to mention my previous fear of ever encountering my own kind. You’re not the only ones who can strategize.” “You talk big, mule, but you look weak to me. Maybe someone needs to put you in your place.” Rover pounced, using his haunches to give him a spring motion, sending him at Lightning with speed and momentum. He crashed into him, claws extended out, stabbing into Lightning’s shoulder. Blood spurted out as Lightning flew backwards into The Dark Mare. Everything went quiet as the racket attracted everyone’s attention. Those who weren’t entirely under the table rushed over to him, seeing if he was alright. Dash floated over to him lazily. “What’s wrong, man?” she muttered, tired from the alcohol. “We’ve got diamond dogs in the town.” Suddenly, the bar was a panic. Ponies rushed around, securing their things. Lightning leapt to his hooves, walking calmly out of the doors. Blood leaked down his leg, dripping from his hoof with every step. Rover was ransacking a cart when he looked up, sniffed the air, and then spun towards Lightning. “You surprise me. Most creatures couldn’t take one of those without losing their side, or even their consciousness. You may be resilient, but that won’t help you.” He squatted down again, readying for another leap. Lightning dusted off, using his wings for acceleration. His hoof met Rover’s face in midair. Rover flew backwards, skipping off the ground once before crashing into the cart he had been rummaging through. An apple rolled out from behind it, and his paw dropped limp as he blacked out. Blood ran from his nose, through his fur, and collected on the ground under his head. A crowd started to gather. Around that time, Spot came back, a much larger dog in tow, most likely the Fido that Rover had mentioned. “Rover!” barked Spot, before glaring at Lightning. “How dare you! You interrupt our plans! What gives you the right?” “This is my town, and I’ll defend it from scum like you.” “Scum like us, eh? I recognize you! You used to live in the Everfree Forest!” Lightning was taken aback. “How do you…” “Remember? I remember everything! I have the best memory of all us diamond dogs! You hunted in the thickest parts of the forest! So tell me; What IS ‘scum like us’?” People crowding around regarded Lightning with curious eyes, and his face burned with discomfort. “At… At least I renounced that way of life! I’d rather live in the village with these ponies, and protect them, than be out there again, fighting endlessly.” “Well then, we’ll show you can never escape the forest! Fido, you know what to do!” Spot leapt into the air, landing in Fido’s paws. Fido wheeled back, then, with all the force he could muster, pitched Spot like a baseball, straight for Lightning Bright. He kicked up his wings and jumped to the side just in time for Spot to come crashing through the bar doors, sending wood splintering through the air, threatening all of those nearby. Ponies fled left and right, with pegasi lifting off to stay out of harm’s way. Spot kicked his way out of the rubble from the bar door. Before he could get up, though, a hoof drove into the back of his head, sending him tumbling out into the street. “Who the hell do you think you are?” the red and black stallion shouted, walking out of the empty doorway. “You come to OUR town and start trashing OUR stuff, and you feel JUSTIFIED? Really?” He made to kick Spot’s head, but Spot bared his teeth, snapping at the hoof. He stood up, clambering over to Fido. “Who are you? And why do you interfere with our fight?” Spot growled, licking the open wound on his cheek with his lengthy tongue. “That’s uninmportant…” the stallion withdrew slightly. “No, it fits the general rules of a fair fight!” the dog shouted, his knowledge of honor surprising for a thief. “I want to know the name of my opponent, before I slit his throat.” “My name… Err… Call me Umbra,” the stallion muttered, lacking confidence in the simple matter of supplying his name. “Ahh, YOU sound like you have amnesia. But that name has meaning in the Forest. No wonder you stand so defiantly against us! However, that won’t save you right now! Fido!” Fido grunted, then, without pause, kicked Spot in their direction. Lightning adjusted, sidestepping, planning out a kick to Spot’s side. Before the plan could pan out, however, Umbra bolted into Spot, counteracting his momentum with a large amount of his own. Spot bounced off of him, flying back into Fido. Fido caught him deftly, setting him back down in front of him. Spot pawwed the wound that was now on his forehead. “You idiot!” Lightning screamed. “You’re not fighting alone, alright? You HAVE to pay attention to what your allies are doing. We could have sandwiched him between our hooves or something, with that speed you have!” “Oh… Sorry… I’ll try to pay more attention…” Umbra withdrew, disliking the criticism. Something caught Lightning’s eye, but before he could comment, Fido sent Spot flying at them like a bowling ball, rolling hastily towards them. They dodged, causing Spot to bounce off of the bar’s wall and roll back to Fido. “Alright, listen!” Lightning jumped over to Umbra, whispering into his ear. “Okay…” Umbra said, after the plan had been relayed to him. “Are you sure you can manage it, though?” He looked doubtful. Lightning said flatly, “Your lack of faith will soon prove to be unfounded.” Fido pitched Spot again, sending him rocketing toward Lightning. Umbra positioned near Lightning, then, as Spot was about to collide with him, kicked. Spot phased right through what used to look like Lightning, which proved to be air. Umbra’s kicked connected with Spot’s snout, a crack sounding loudly as his snout snapped to the right, with blood gushing from his nostrils. He smashed into a wall, slumped to the ground, and passed from consciousness. Fido stared, and then franticly started looking around for Lightning. As he turned to his right, his face met a full-blown kick. His head jerked over, sending him rolling through the air before smashing into a cart, causing tiny bits and baubles to go flying. “See? Told you.” Lightning said, before picking up Rover and Spot. “Hey. Help me carry these three out to the wood. Make sure to bite off their jewel bags.” The pair carried the mutts out to the edge of the Everfree Forest, Fluttershy in tow. They dumped them fairly deep in, then walked towards Fluttershy’s cottage. Suddenly, Lightning stopped. He jerked towards Umbra, looking at him with ferocity. “What?” Umbra responded defensively, meeting the glare with defiance. “What the hell is up with you?” “Excuse me?” “Don’t give me that crap, I know something’s up. How do you move with that speed?” “Lightning, calm down…” Fluttershy put a comforting hoof on his shoulder. “The same way you do, with my wings!” Umbra replied. “Don’t lie to me! I can tell just by looking at them, those things are vestigial!” “…what?” gasped Fluttershy. “They’re too small to carry all of your weight! There’s no way in hell that you use those things to propel yourself like that!” “…how did you…” Lightning stood between him and Fluttershy defensively, standing strong. “So tell me, Umbra. What exactly ARE you?” “I… You…” He took off towards town angrily. “Lightning…” Fluttershy said soothingly. “Do you need to sit down and relax for a bit?” “Yeah… Yeah, I do.” They walked into Fluttershy’s cottage, and Lightning had a cup of tea before heading home, despite Fluttershy’s invitations to stay. Rainbow Dash was already in bed, passed out. He slid in next her, cuddled up close, then soon passed out from exhaustion.
  4. ((A big shout out to DarqTempest for all his helpful story ideas, and also to CinnamonGroove for the ideas for generic problems he's given me! I definitely plan to use them. I'm glad I get to try and write a series. I know commenting doesn't seem to be the thing around her, but I would very much appreciate any critcisms/advice/praise. Please and thank you!)) The town of Ponyville wasn’t exactly the center of excitement. There was plenty to do in town for the average pony, and excitement wasn’t necessarily impossible to find, but the truth is, nothing earth-shattering happens there. Lightning Bright, as the Peacekeeper of the town, learned this fairly quick. Most of his days were spent doing a lazy circle over it about twelve times, spread out throughout the day. The rest of his time was free, and a large part of it was spent visiting the townsfolk. Now that he was their Peacekeeper, he figured he should know who he was protecting. This was his schedule for a week. Somehow, in all his time visiting town, he not once encountered the rest of Rainbow Dash’s friends. Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie were all strangely absent from his life. That changed when he landed one day, only to be immediately tackled by Pinkie Pie. “Ohmygosh, you’re Rainbow Dash’s stallion, aren’t you?! I’ve never met you before, but I see you circling all the time! You’re all like WHOOSH across the sky, looking over the town and stuff like some super-serious guardian and stuff, and I’ve never even gotten to TALK to you! You need to land more often, because you know me, I’m just a simple earth pony, and I can’t fly, so I can’t come up and have a conversation with you (although I COULD pull out my helicopter), and I’ve always wanted to talk to you, and now I finally get to and stuff, and since you’re the newest person in town, we need to plan for a PARTY!” “Uhm… O… Okay?” As fast as she was there, she was gone, off planning the party she had just decided that needed to happen. Lightning recovered from the tackle he had just received and resumed his walk about town. He saw a fashion boutique, and given what he had heard about Rarity, he figured that was where she would be. However, a sign saying “Fabric Shopping, Away For The Time Being” hung on the door. He was just going to have to meet her some other time. He continued down the walk, but there wasn’t much in town that was interesting. He passed the spa, which he had no interest in, then he walked by the sweet shop. Fluttershy had mentioned that Pinkie worked there, but she was most likely not there, given her newfound planning. The only thing in town that interested him was the Sweet Apple Acres cart, especially when he realized that his stomach was growling fiercely. When he spotted the cart, he realized Fluttershy was there, talking pleasantly with Applejack. Lightning stood for a second, trying to decide how worth it some apples were, then resolved to try and act normal with Fluttershy. He walked up, catching her eye. “Oh… Hey, Lighting…” she said, a smile on her face. “Applejack, this is Lightning, my… Uhm… My friend.” “Ahh, so YOU’RE Lightnin’! I’ve been plannin’ to meetcha, but you’re always flyin’ overhead, so…” Applejack extended a friendly hoof. Lightning accepted the firm hoofshake, looking over Applejack for a second. The orange mare was strong, built for work. Her stance was not necessarily confident, but rather, stable and secure. Her mark was a triplet of apples. “Nice to meet you, Applejack… How’s the business?” He said, avoiding Fluttershy’s gaze and trying to find a topic. “Well, you know… Sweet Apple Acres always does good business! We’re the best source of apples around!” “Yeah, I noticed a definite lack of competition…” Lightning still saw a vaguely sorrowful look from Fluttershy from the corner of his eye, and he started to turn a noticeable red. “Uhm… Lightning… Are you… Uhm… Okay?” Fluttershy asked politely, though her way of speech betrayed preconcieved notions of why he was blushing. “Yeah, I’m fine, just… Hungry! That’s why I came over here, actually. I’d like to buy some apples, please.” “Alrighty, then! Sounds good to me!” Applejack had apparently been oblivious to the awkwardness of the two ponies’ exchange, and proceeded to dish up a couple apples. Lightning paid her the necessary amount of bits. He had barely bitten into one when Pinkie Pie speed-bounced her way over to them, with Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle trailing a bit behind. “There you are, Lightning! And you’re with Fluttershy and Applejack! What AMAZING timing! So, I already planned your party, then I realized that OH MY GOSH, there’s a new place in town, so why not have a party there?! So I threw out all my color-coded crayon drawings of your party and zoomed over to the place, and it’s this totally cool bar-type thing, and I was like *GASP* this is PERFECT! So, now, we’re all going over there to celebrate your new job and home!” “Uhm… Thank… You? Don’t you ever need to take a breath…?” “Nope! I have GREAT lung capacity!” “Okay… So, let’s go, then.” The group started walking through town. Rainbow touched down next to him, walking close to him and giving him a peck. He smiled, but still avoided Fluttershy’s eyes at all costs. Eventually, they came upon a restaurant and bar combination with a bright sign outside advertising The Dark Mare. The interior of the Mare was pretty typical of bars. The seating was closer to the door, with plenty of tables for people to eat at, many of which were already filled with midday customers. The bar was mostly empty; it was only midday after all. However, a stark white mare sat at the bar, a cocktail in her hoof. She had a heavily styled, curly mane, colored of purple. Three diamonds were on her flank, and she sat talking to one of the bartenders with a slight slur. Apparently, she had left her boutique, not for fabric, but to get a head start on the drinking. “Rarity! There you are!” Pinkie Pie shouted happily, running over to her. “Pinkie Pie, how wonderful that you’re here!” Rarity said woozily, swaying ever so gently. “I heard there was a new place in town, and I just HAD to test it out.” She looked over everyone who was there, then her eyes settled on Lightning. She blinked dreamily, then stepped down from her stool and trotted over to him. “And WHO might you be, handsome?” she said with a slur, batting her eyelashes at him with an air of flirtiness. “Uhm… I’m Lightning Bright…” Lightning’s cheeks burned. “Ahh, yes, Rainbow Dash’s boy toy. Well, if you want, I can show you how a REAL lady acts.” she teased, winking awkwardly. “Uhm… What?” Lightning blinked confusedly. “Rarity, you’re already THIS drunk?” Rainbow Dash said, not the least bit concerned about the flirting. “What do you mean ‘already’?” she said, being much less cordial to Dash. “It’s plenty late enough!” “Rarity, it’s only two o’clock…” Twilight said, looking concerned. “Really?!” Rarity looked to the clock behind the bar, squinting through her boozy haze. “Oh my… Well, such is life. Might as well have another drink.” She wrapped herself around Lightning’s leg. “Care to join me, sir?” She batted her eyelashes again, snuggling against him. “Uhm… No thanks.” Rarity detached herself slowly, before stating, with confidence, “Well, when you decide you want a taste of high class, you can ALWAYS come to me.” She sauntered over to the bar, sat down, and asked for another drink. “Uhm… Your friends are a little strange…” Lightning muttered to Fluttershy. “Oh… They are? Well, we could always go somewhere else…” she hinted without subtlety. “Err… No, this is fine… I’m just not used to them, yet… Pinkie Pie is wearing me out, and Rarity is already hitting on me… You and Dash are the only normal ones.” No sooner had he said this that Dash zoomed up to the bar and ordered, with a highly specific description, a “vodka with a shot of cherry syrup, orange juice, lemon drop soda, lime syrup, blue raspberry soda, and grape syrup, all separated into a rainbow pattern, and in a nice, tall glass.” “Okay… You’re the only normal one, apparently,” he corrected himself. The party went into full swing within the hour. Rainbow Dash had already finished three of her signature cocktails and was floating hazily around the room. Pinkie Pie hadn’t partaken in any alcohol, but was pretending to, seeing how much fun everyone who HAD was having. Rarity was snuggled up against Lightning, passed out from all the booze she had downed, leaving him feeling rather uncomfortable. Twilight was slightly buzzed, and it was apparent in her face, as she looked a tad scared. Applejack was drinking quite a lot, in a contest against some large stallion worker from her farm, but she was holding up VERY well, having beaten three other workers before this one. Fluttershy was sitting at the table with Lightning, the only one fully sober, talking with him about his new job, while quite obviously avoiding the subject of his living conditions and his love life. “Well, how’s it been at the cottage, Fluttershy?” asked Lightning, hoping to right his past wrongs of neglecting her opinions and experiences. “Well, it’s been… Quiet. They fixed the walls and all, but… It’s kind of empty…” she said, her eyes glistening slightly. “Yeah… Listen, if you ever need me over there, I’m sure Rainbow Dash would understand…” Lightning suggested. “It’s not that…” she muttered sliding closer to him without his noticing. “I just… It’s not the same without that… Connection…” “I understand that, but…” Lightning wasn’t paying attention, looking down at Rarity, who was snuggling up against him even more, in her sleep. Before he realized it, Fluttershy was next to him. She had a look on her face, a resolved-yet-sensitive look. “Uhm… Fluttershy… Stop, please…” Lightning couldn’t shy away, thanks to Rarity. “Listen… I know you’re too nice of a pony to do anything to hurt Dash… So don’t worry so much…” she blushed. “But I just… I like being close to you.” “Okay…” Fluttershy had barely gotten close until a noise at the end of the bar drew their attention. They had been so caught up in this exchange that they hadn’t realized that a crowd had gathered at the bar, and a pony was impressing everyone with bartending tricks. A red and black pony.
  5. The lights were dim enough already. The forest canopy forced the small amount of light there was to retreat into tiny groupings, leaving only small spots of light strewn across the forest floor. Now, it seemed, the world was slipping into darkness. Lightning Bright pressed a wing against his flank gingerly, then quickly jerked it away when it stung his wound. He tried to stand, tried to get away, but his legs wouldn’t hold him. All he could muster was a pathetic crawl, a dragging motion that only succeeded in speeding the flowing of blood from his side. The sound of hooves drew his attention, but they sounded like vague recordings, like a tape player nearby was taunting him with the illusion of hope. Whether or not the hooves were real, whatever possessed them wouldn’t make it in time. The darkness had already been replaced by photosensitivity, as Lightning Bright’s head buzzed from what was suddenly a very bright environment. His heartbeat pounded in his ears, and as the hooves neared, he heard a voice. The voice was kind, and even though he couldn’t hear what it was saying, despite it being upon him, he suddenly felt warm content, and let himself slip into unconsciousness for what he presumed would be eternity. Lightning Bright woke with a start. His warm feeling of nothingness was suddenly replaced with the sharp, harsh feeling of reality crashing itself in on his mind. He smelled food, cooked apples of some sort. He felt the throbbing of the gash in his flank, now wrapped in a bandage of some kind. He saw the interior of a nice forest house, seeing, through the window, the Everfree Forest, a trail of disturbed earth and blood leading up to the door. He felt safe. A slight humming was coming from what he presumed was the kitchen. It was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard, a melodious tune he had never heard. It lulled him, a sense of comfort enveloping him. A tiny, yellow mare peeked her head through the door, her large, bright blue eyes shining. She noticed Lightning was awake, then made a high pitched squeal, and retreated around the corner. She peeked back around, her cheeks a soft pink, and she slowly clipped around the corner. Her mark was that of butterflies, and she walked in small spurts, as if approaching a wild beast… Technically, she was. “Uhm… Mister… Uhh… You… shouldn’t… You probably… Uhm… Are you… okay??” Her speech was soft and cute, and Lightning caught himself blushing, feeling the sudden urge to draw closer to her. “Uhm… I’m alright…” he muttered, averting his eyes to hide his thoughts. “Oh… Okay… Uhm… Well… I’m making… I’m making apple fritters… If you… Want… Some…” said the mare, shying away from him. “Okay… Thank you… I’ll just rest for now.” “Oh…” she squeaked, suddenly blushing. “Okay… They’ll be in here… If you want…” She retreated into the other room with a noticeable haste. Lightning took that moment to test out his legs. He clipped across the room gingerly, every step with one of his left legs sending pain across his flank. He took a deep breath and spread his wings. His left wouldn’t fully extend, clipping off a full 2 inches from his overall spread. He sighed. This healing process was going to take a while. He slowly but surely limped his way into the kitchen. The yellow mare was busy at the stove, so she didn’t notice him stepping his way lightly into the room. He clipped his way over to her, silently observing. Now that he had the chance to get a good look at her, he noticed the more subtle of her features. For some reason, he had not realized her mane was pink, and now that he did, he noticed the shine it had to it. Her stance was that of a shy young girl, her hooves close together, her wings drawn in tight, and her back arched, as if she were drawing into herself, drawing away from the world. His wound throbbed menacingly, and he let out a dull whimper. Apparently she heard, for her head quickly snapped in his direction, and her hooves made a stance of retreat, sliding away from him cautiously. “Were… Were you sneaking up on me?” she whispered, her eyes wide and fearful. “No, I… I was…” he felt his face burn, for he realized as he was about to say it the oddness of what he was truly doing; watching her, looking her over. She gave him a look of doubt, a look that could have melted the heart of a dragon. “I was… I was watching you.” He let the words come out, but they felt like blades when he did. “That’s… Just a little weird…” She gave him yet another look, this time, a look of slight fear, like she was creeped out. “I… Well, it’s been so long since… Nevermind. I’ll go back into the other room. Sorry…” He made for the doorway, but she stopped him. “No, tell me. It’s been so long since what?” Genuine concern flashed across her face, her eyes lit up. “…since I’ve seen another pony.” “Why’s that? What were you doing in the Forest that long?” “I live there… Have for my whole life.” A look of sadness presented itself on her face, and she said, with the sound of tears in her voice, “Who would do that to their young?” “…I’m not sure.” “Well… You’re not living there anymore.” She was suddenly very adamant, a fierce look in her eyes. “I don’t belong here…” He started, limping towards the doorway a bit. “Says who? Because I sure as sugar won’t let you leave. Something hurt you, bad, and whatever it is probably isn’t happy it missed getting you for good. If you go out there again… Who knows what will happen. You’re going to stay here, in my house.” Her stance had changed, her hooves spread, as if she were physically forcing him into this with all her might. “I… But…” “No! You’re going to stay here, and let me take care of you. End of story. Now, here’s a fritter. Eat up, and then go back to sleep.” She set a plate on the table nearby, then walked out of the room. Lightning stood there dumbfounded. She had changed from timidity to ferocity in such speed that he was unprepared for it. He stood there, then suddenly his left side started to give. He kneeled at the table, looked at the fritter, and then suddenly realized just how hungry he was. He ate the pastry in three bites. He had never tasted anything so delicious. He sat there, savoring the taste in his mouth, and before he knew it, his exhaustion and contentment took over, and he was suddenly asleep with head on the table. A sudden banging sound jolted Lightning awake. His neck ached from the odd angle at which he had slept, but his instincts overrode the pain, and he quickly looked towards the sound. A pony was at the door, a pony he had yet to see. The mare at the door was purple in color, with a mane of darker purple with pink streaks. A unicorn’s horn jutted from between strands of mane. From this angle, Lightning couldn’t see much more, though he could make out a star-type shape on her flank, probably her mark. Though there was no immediate threat of danger, as far as he could tell, Lightning still decided to hustle out of sight, at as fast as his wounded body would allow, rounding the fridge, and staying there, ear slightly around the corner, so as to hear what was going on. He heard the yellow mare’s timid voice, with the usual “Coming!”. The sound of hooves sounded down the stairway, and he heard the door open. “Fluttershy, is everything alright? I saw the blood coming up to your door and feared the worst…” The words were from a voice he did not recognize, signifying that the purple mare was the owner of the voice. Her voice carried a certain confidence with it, and one could tell from it that she was both intelligent and proud. “Oh… It’s fine, Twilight. I was just helping a wounded pony… He’s hurt pretty bad… He’s lucky I was there, or he might have never made it out of the Forest…” His savior was obviously the Fluttershy that Twilight had addressed. When speaking with Twilight, there was no more of the timidity in her voice. Twilight was obviously a close friend, and Fluttershy appeared very calm and comfortable around her. “Fluttershy… You know you shouldn’t do that… You remember what happened with the kelpie?” “Well… Yes…” he heard Fluttershy scrape the ground guiltily. Her voice showed that her experience with a kelpie had not gone well. Lightning had once encountered a kelpie in the Forest. It had enticed him to a pond, and he had almost fallen for it, but at the last moment, kicked it in the snout and broke free from its spell. Fluttershy had obviously had a much less fortunate encounter. “Exactly. You can’t just take any creature in, even if they SEEM harmless…” “Well… Harmless isn’t the word I’d… Use… He seems pretty strong… And tough…” “…is he good-looking?” “…what??” “It was a joke, hun. Calm down. Listen, where is he? Maybe I can look him over…” “No, he’s asleep right now… Let him rest… He’s harmless asleep…” “…fine. Just let me know when he’s awake, alright? I don’t want anything bad happening to you…” “Okay…” “Alright. Bye, Fluttershy.” “Bye…” The door closed, but Fluttershy didn’t move. Lightning looked around the corner to see her watching Twilight leave, as if making sure she was safe. “…see what I mean?” Fluttershy jumped at Lightning’s words, then backed away a tad, as if previewing retreat. “Oh… You’re… You’re awake…” she said, showing guilt on her face. Even if he hadn’t heard her conversation, her face would have told the tale instead. “Mhm. And that kind of attitude is exactly why I don’t belong here… No one trusts what comes from the Everfree Forest… Not even ponies.” “I… I trust you.” “Sure you do. That’s why you shy away from me whenever you see me.” Lightning made for the door, Fluttershy sidling her way away from him as he approached. “Psh. Even now, after claiming to trust me, you move away from me as if I were a monster… I’m leaving.” “No… Wait…” She stepped towards him, stopping him in his tracks. He watched her, not without menace, as she slowly approached him. “I… I don’t trust very many ponies… I don’t trust very many creatures in general… But I trust my friends, and even if you were evil or mean… They would never let anything happen to me. And even then… You seem fine to me…” She nuzzled his nose gently, causing his face to severely burn. He stepped away, the contact foreign to him. “Oh… I’m sorry… I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable… I just… I… I thought it’d… Help you feel better…” Fluttershy blushed slightly, though this was a common occurrence. “No… It’s fine, I just… I’m lost, on all of this… I’ve never had a friend before…” “Well… There’s… There’s a first time for everything… Right?” she said, with a smile flickering across her face. Lightning’s face lit up. The way she spoke the words warmed him, and he suddenly felt nothing but happiness. “Friends.” Something he’d always wanted, but had given up hope on. “Yes… Yes there is…” he said, returning her friendly nuzzle with his first ever smile on his face. For a few weeks, Lightning and Fluttershy stayed rather distant, not because of the friendly nuzzling or the fact that Lightning felt compelled to please Fluttershy in any way possible, but mostly because neither was used to the idea of living with someone. To both of them, life was a one-pony ride, and other people just joined for a bit, or, in Lightning’s case, never at all. On the few occasions that they DID speak, Fluttershy would regale Lightning with tales of adventure. To most people, these stories would have either been unbelievable or annoying. To Lightning, these tales were both fully believable and rather engaging. It wasn’t that the subject was surprising, or that it spoke of things he had never seen, but rather, it spoke of something he had never experienced: adventure. He had never had friends to share an adventure with, and therefore, anything he ever did was a solo thing, and there was no sense of adventure or mystery. All it was to him was a fight for survival. Eventually, Fluttershy started to slowly get used to having another pony in the house, and once her guard was lowered, Lightning got to hear of everything about her day. It was as though she was letting loose something she had always held in, but had never found an outlet for. Her capacity for speech was amazing, and he always felt at ease around her, like he could never get hurt, like she would always be there for him. After about a month, Fluttershy started asking him about himself in the middle of her long speeches. He never wanted to answer; her stories were so full of wonder and young charm. His stories were dark, cold, and gruesome. He had scars that would never go away, not least of which was the one in his left side. When it came up, all he’d do is tell her that he’d tell her some other time, then urge her to continue her story, which she always did with earnest. He wondered if they were on the same level. He would do anything for her, and he wasn’t sure what he felt for her. He didn’t know about such foreign concepts as love and devotion. All he knew was that, no matter what she asked of him, he would do it in a heartbeat. Part of him wondered, however, if she felt the same about him. The more he thought about it, though, the more he realized that, in the end, it really didn’t matter. He wouldn’t, couldn’t change how he felt, no matter how she felt. Eventually, his devotion was put to the test, by none other than a stranger pony of red and black. A pony named Darkly Tempest. Lightning had just awakened in his usual spot in the main room. It took him a second to notice, but Fluttershy had moved downstairs and slept next to him. She shook in her sleep, no doubt in the throes of a nightmare. This wasn’t the first time he had awoken to her next to him. The first time, he had been startled, but she explained how she had never had anywhere to go when the nightmares set in, and now, with him here, that issue was no longer present. He nudged her gently, and she woke with a twitch. Her ears flicked a bit, she rubbed her eyes, then she quickly got up, and, in her usual fashion, apologized for sleeping next to him. “I’m sorry, I just had a terrible nightmare, and I couldn’t sleep…” “Listen, Fluttershy, you don’t have to apologize every time… I understand. I’m used to it.” “Oh… Okay… You don’t mind me… Sleeping with you?” “No, I don’t. Not at all.” “Okay…” she looked on the verge of more words, but she seemed to decide against them. She got up and walked around a bit, stretching out. Out in the yard, her rabbit friends hopped around dreamily, searching for who knows what. Lightning got up, stretched out as well, then strode over to the window, watching the rabbits in their endless scavenging. A rainbow formed in the distance with unprecedented speed, then quickly disappeared. “Uhm… Fluttershy?” “Yeah?” “Do rainbows… Last a short time around here?” “What? Oh! You probably saw Rainbow Dash!” “Rainbow Dash? You didn’t tell me her name was so… Literal.” “Mhm! She’s so cool! She’s the fastest Pegasus in all of Ponyville, or maybe even Equestria! She helps control the weather around town, and she’s got this HUGE cloud house/castle thing, and…” During her story, Lightning had vaguely registered a red and black shape approaching the house at unnatural speeds. However, what it was didn’t fully register until it was fully upon them, and Lightning barely had time to tackle Fluttershy to the ground before the wall where they were standing was destroyed. A red and black Pegasus tumbled into the room, trailing smoke and debris, then came to an abrupt stop on the adjacent wall, smashing its face. Fluttershy got up with extreme speed, running over to the injured stallion and checking to see how it was. In the distance, the rainbow appeared again, then suddenly sped toward the house, screeching to a halt on the lawn. In its wake stood a light blue mare, with a mane of vibrant rainbow colors. A mark of a rain cloud with a rainbow lightning bolt was on her side, and she walked with a swagger, a competitive air. “Fluttershy, what happened?” She stopped dead in her tracks, staring at Lightning, then, with a speed that he could not predict, tackled Lightning full-tilt, sending him to the ground, then planted him with all hooves surrounding him. “What did you do to Fluttershy’s house!?” she yelled, glaring at him menacingly. “Wait… No… Rainbow Dash…” Fluttershy ran into the room shouting. “It wasn’t him! He’s a good guy, I’ve been telling you all along. He saved me from this other pony in here.” Rainbow Dash looked from her to him, then slowly stepped off of Lightning, gave him a once over, then ran into the other room, without apology or remark. “I’m sorry about her… She’s really protective, and doesn’t want me to be hurt…” “Yeah, well… Neither do I. Now let’s find out why this pony just crashed through your wall.” The pony awoke some five hours later. His eyes fluttered for a moment, then he was suddenly on his feet, his head quickly jerking about as if he were looking for something. His eyes met Lightning’s, then, without warning, head-butted him with full force. “Ahh, what the hell is that for?!” “You made me crash, didn’t you?” “What? No! You smashed right through my friend’s wall!” “…where am I?” “What??” “…nice house.” Lightning just stared at him. It was like every nerve had been knocked loose in the crash. The stallion seemed barely able to connect thoughts into coherent sentences. “Listen, what made you crash?” Lightning tried, hoping to get reasoning out of him. “I’m… Not exactly sure. It’s all fuzzy. I remember speeding through the air for some reason… Then I was waking up here, head-butting you…” “Well, you were carrying saddlebags.” Lightning pushed the bags toward the black stallion, taking the opportunity to give him a once-over. The stallion was built shorter than him, with a short mane of black and red, a dark coat, a red vest of some sort, and a mark of a thunderbolt crossed with a knife. He picked up his saddlebags, set them on his back, made to walk forward, then suddenly collapsed in a heap on the floor, out like a light. Lightning turned to the other two. Fluttershy looked genuinely concerned, but Rainbow Dash was laughing heavily. She obviously found humor in the stallion’s loose screws. “Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy lectured. “Don’t be mean! He’s obviously seriously hurt! We need to take care of him…” “Wait, what? Fluttershy, you can’t make your house into a Red Hoof Inn! It’s already bad enough with Lightning here taking up space, now you want to take in ANOTHER injured pony?” “Lightning is NOT taking up space! I have plenty of room, and this pony needs help!” Lightning stared at the pony on the floor, who seemed to be sleeping peacefully, despite his traumatic head injury. He looked at the saddlebags, but decided against looking in them wouldn’t be right. Something about them itched at him, though, and he resolved to keep an eye on them.” Behind him, the two mares were still arguing. “Well then, how about Lightning stays with me until this pony’s healed?” Lightning jerked around, staring at the two, lost on how the conversation had taken this turn. Rainbow Dash glanced at him, but the idea she had just presented didn’t seem to thrill her any more than it thrilled him. “Well… I guess that would work…” Fluttershy seemed unsure of her words, but also seemed to see some necessity in them. “Then it’s settled. You.” She growled, glaring at Lightning. “Come with me.” “Wait, what? No… What if this pony decides to pull something?” “Don’t worry, I’ll check in on them every day.” “But… I…” “Listen, Lightning…” Fluttershy clipped over to him, drawing herself close. “This will only be for a few days… I’ll wait until he can at least walk straight, then I’ll take him to a real doctor… Okay?” “But… What if…” “I’ll be fine.” She said soothingly, nuzzling him gently. She drew him in for a hug. “…okay. I’ll come over whenever Rainbow Dash does, alright?” “Okay…” Fluttershy said, with a saddened smile on her face. Lightning slowly walked out of the house, then, for the first time in a month, unfurled his wings, and gently lifted off. Rainbow Dash appeared next to him quickly. “Try to keep up.” She said, a smirk on her face. “Wait, no…” Before the words left his mouth, she was off. Though it pained him to say it, he admired her speed, not to mention how readily she used it. He stretched his wings for a second, then zoomed off along the rainbow trail. He was still pretty fast, but he had lost a few miles per hour with his injury, and he definitely had to fight from drifting right. However, he eventually caught up to Dash. She looked over, her eyes growing wide in surprise, as he slowly but surely overtook her. He looked ahead, and saw castle made of clouds, no doubt the “house” that Fluttershy was speaking of. He neared it, then tried to put on the brakes His braking wasn’t very good. He slammed into the solidified clouds viciously, skipping a few times before rolling into the moat that Dash had made. He surfaced to her laughter, with her rolling on the ground in tears. “Nice landing! You friends with Red back there?” she snorted in between gasps of air. He sneered at her, then coughed up water. He shook his head, sending droplets wide, partially drenching Rainbow Dash. “Hey!” She said indignantly. “Oops, I’m SOOO sorry.” He retorted, voice thick with sarcasm. “Alright, listen here.” Rainbow Dash said, leaping to her feet and standing with authority. “You’re now in MY house. I don’t know how Fluttershy acted with you, but don’t expect that same behavior from me. She’s a lot more sensitive than me.” “Duly noted.” Lightning said, yet again airing his sarcasm. She glared at him. “Now, here’re the rules. One: If I tell you not to touch something, you better not touch it. Two: NEVER move around my clouds. Three: If I tell you to do something, then do it without question. Understand?” Lightning looked at her with a look of livid anger. “What, you take someone into your house, then make them feel like they’re in prison? I was better off with Fluttershy, at least she knows how to treat people! I’m a guest at your house, and I may not know much about the world, but I know that it’s hardly fair to be a slave driver to your friend’s friend!” “I don’t care WHOSE friend you are! This is my house! I didn’t HAVE to take you in!” “Then maybe you shouldn’t have!” Lightning was suddenly filled with rage. How could two ponies be so different? And friends, no less. “I did this as a favor to my friend! In the meantime, suck it up! Now, I have to go bring in a thunderstorm in a few minutes. Stay here, and remember what I said!” Then, without another word, she was off, her trail lasting a few seconds before following after her. Lightning shuffled his way inside, dejected. He found an area of the living room that was fairly comfortable, laid down, then drifted off to sleep. Lightning was suddenly in a field. It was wide open, a gentle breeze wafting in from the north end. He stood there for a second, basking in the peace of it all. Suddenly, the trees on the edge of the clearing closed in around him, encasing him in near-darkness. He ran through the woods with haste, looking for anything, anypony to help him. In the distance, he spotted Fluttershy’s house. He made for it at great speed, but no matter how much ground he covered, it never neared closer. He ran until his legs wouldn’t hold him, then he knelt on the ground gasping for air. In the distance, an explosion of red and black blew open Fluttershy’s house, sending debris into the air. He tried to stand, to go and save her, but his left side was suddenly numb. His wound was reopened, yet somehow much larger, and her bled profusely onto the ground. His blood appeared rainbow in his stupor, and he heard the approach of hooves, but all he heard was the taunting voice of Rainbow Dash, telling him he was too late. He suddenly awoke. The thunderstorm was crashing outside, and Rainbow Dash was clearly home, the entryway wet with fresh rain. He heard a shower running upstairs, and he looked around. Part of him had hoped he’d awake to find himself still in Fluttershy’s home, with her cuddled up next to him. He’d have told her about HIS nightmare this time, and she could have nuzzled him and calmed him down. Instead, he was in the cloud castle, sleeping on the bare floor, and all he had to wake up to was Rainbow Dash, someone who would probably never get along with him. He sighed, resolved to stay happy until tomorrow, when he’d see Fluttershy again, if only briefly, then dozed off into a thankfully dreamless sleep. The following week felt turbulent, though not for the obvious reasons. Lightning was becoming accustomed to the cloud castle and its sole resident, and he and her had formed the basis of a friendship. They weren’t NEARLY as close as he and Fluttershy were, but they were friendly, at least. The turbulence came when that friendship became complicated. He saw Fluttershy fairly often, but mostly, he stretched his wings by racing Rainbow Dash. Generally she won, especially given his wound. Fluttershy wasn’t exaggerating when she spoke of her speed, and with the gash in his side not quite healed, he was even worse off against her. During one race, they were tasked with running one circle around Ponyville, then returning back to the cloud castle before the other. Rainbow Dash did the countdown, as usual. “Alright, ready? Three… Two…” Lightning took off, giving himself an advantage, leaving her before the sound of her disapproval could reach him. He sped in a circle over top of the bakery, but as he rounded it and headed to Sweet Apple Acres, Rainbow Dash began to catch up. She started to press his wing to the limit, and as she came up on his left side during the final stretch, his wing gave out, sending him into her. They fell into the castle, tumbling over each other over until they came to a stop. Lightning pushed himself up on his knees, then realized he was right on top of Dash. She turned a deep red, but didn’t push him off. Instead, she directed her eyes away from him, as if hiding something that could show in her eyes. Lightning was lost on what to do. He had never been in a situation like this, not even with Fluttershy, the first person he had ever felt for. Rainbow Dash solved the issue for him. She suddenly snuggled up close to him, nuzzling his neck gently, making his legs give way. He fell on top of her, and she drew his face close to hers and kissed him. To say that this feeling was foreign is the least of it. The feeling of the kiss was a shock to Lightning’s system. He had no clue how to respond, but every part of him wished for nothing more to continue with the kiss. In one fell swoop, Rainbow Dash had taken any awkwardness he had and driven it away, and they laid there for a minute, deeply involved in the action. After a while, they finally stopped, and Lightning let Rainbow Dash up. Blushing, she gave him a quick extra kiss, then rushed off into the clouds doing loops over and over again. Eventually, she zoomed into a landing right next to him, snuggling up against him. “Wow… I don’t even know what to say…” She sighed, rubbing against him gently. “Yeah… Wow…” Lightning said, half in a daze. “Well… I have to go bring in some rain over the park… I’ll be back in a bit, alright?” She gave him a kiss on the cheek before launching off into the air, making a spiral as she went. Lightning stood there a bit longer, then realized he was supposed to go check on Fluttershy. He flew over, barely focused, but on his way, it dawned on him that being around Fluttershy immediately after that experience was going to be strange. He wondered how Fluttershy would respond if he told her. He left the thought of telling her up for debate in the less-conscious section of his mind, and landed softly on her lawn. Fluttershy peeked out of her window, then jumped, a smile on her face, and ran out the door to him. She met him with a peck on the lips. His entire face went red, as she snuggled up to him. “I had a nightmare yesterday, and you weren’t here to sleep with me…” She said, half-sad, half-happy. “Uhm… Really…?” Lightning had no clue what to do, but the option of telling her was officially struck from his head. He stood rigid as she rubbed against him softly. Eventually, she pulled away, then started off into a story. “So, I’m not so sure about this pony anymore, he seems strange, and he hasn’t seemed to heal mentally at all. Like, he still is rather scatterbrained, and he’s constantly checking those saddlebags, and the other day, he asked me if anypony claimed me as theirs, and when I told him no, his entire demeanor changed. Yesterday, he randomly kissed me on the cheek, out of nowhere, and today, I woke up to flowers in front of my bedroom door… It’s so strange…” As if on que, the stallion gently stepped out of the house, stretching his wings and legs. He walked up on Fluttershy’s side, rubbing against her affectionately. The look on her face spoke of how unwanted the affection was. Without another thought, Lightning Bright returned the headbutt he had received a week ago, with interest. The blow sent the stallion reeling, sprawling him out on the grass. He made to stand, then collapsed again, grabbing at his head. “What the hell was that for?!” Asked the stallion, indignant. “Lay off of her! It’s obvious that she doesn’t want your advances, so learn to stick to yourself!” The stallion stood up on wobbly legs, glaring at Lightning. “What you think you’re any better? Up there doing who knows what with that rainbow pony?” Lightning Bright’s face burned red, and though he tried to hide it from her, Fluttershy caught it. “Lightning Bright… Why are you blushing…?” He voice was disappointed. She looked on the verge of tears. Though he looked for words to somehow rescue himself from the situation, he could only stare at her, dumbfounded. Her eyes glistened, and she quickly ran into the house, her sobs loud in his ears. “I…” Lightning spluttered, trying to piece together the sentence he had slowly formed in his head. “You tell me I don’t know when to lay off… Did the rainbow mare want your advances? Or did you force the issue?” the black stallion sneered, obviously feeling victorious. “You… you bastard!” Lightning lifted off the ground towards the pony, slamming into him full tilt, using his wings for thrust. He felt the pony’s ribs crack under the stress, and he sent the stallion against Fluttershy’s wall. The pony hacked up blood. “What, so I expose you for the scum you are, and I’M the bad guy?” wheezed the stallion. “Shut up! You don’t know me!” “And you don’t know me, OR her, apparently! Tell me, what’s my name?” “I… But…” “Exactly. My name is Darkly Tempest! But you never bothered to ask! Did you even ask for her name? Or did you learn it by chance?” Lightning stuttered, but he could not deny that Darkly had guessed correctly. It occurred to him that he had never actually asked anything of Fluttershy. He had never asked her name, never asked her about her family or friends, never asked where she was from and how she had come to live in the hut, never asked her anything. Not once had he given thought to inquiring more into her life. “That’s what I thought. I HAVE. I don’t see her as the girl who gives me shelter. I see her as my friend.” “Don’t you DARE try and tell me how I see her!” Lightning snapped, bolting into Tempest yet again, skipping him across the yard. “Go ahead, beat up on me because YOU screwed up!” he said, as he slowly pulled himself to his hooves. He sluggishly pulled himself into a stance of defense, but there was no way he could hold it if he was assaulted again. Lightning readied to charge again, but Fluttershy landed in front of him a split second before he kicked off. He faltered, tripping and faceplanting into the ground. He got up, spitting dirt and grass from his mouth, then looked into the face of sadness that possessed Fluttershy. “I’ve heard plenty…” she hiccupped, fighting back more tears. “Just… Leave, Lightning… Please…” “But… I… Fluttershy…” “Please…. Just go…” she cried, tears flowing freely again. Lightning didn’t say another word, but slowly lifted off and drifted his way back to the castle. He landed, shuffled into the living room, slumped into his sleeping spot, and eventually passed out from mental exhaustion. The nightmares Lightning had to endure over the course of the night were vicious, and several times in the night, he awoke with a start. Eventually he fell asleep and stayed that way, for around five hours. When he awoke, Rainbow Dash had cuddled up against him, her head against his flank. When he awoke, she was awakened by his movement. “Mornin’, sleepy head. Miss me when you went to sleep?” she yawned, kissing him playfully. “Yeah…” he sighed, the events of yesterday still heavy on his mind. “I heard what happened, just so you know… You don’t have to relive it to me… I’m sorry…” “Yeah… It’s not your fault…” “No, it is… Did you really for her that much?” “I… I don’t know… I’m not sure how I felt about her… With you, it’s clear what’s going on… But with her… I never knew what to do, or if she even thought that way about me…” “Well… Apparently, she did… I think Twilight and Rarity are over there right now, talking to her…” “Jeez…” “Actually… Twilight said she needed to talk to you, and she specified that it wasn’t about Fluttershy…” “Where is she? Fluttershy’s house?” “Yeah… Want me to come?” “Please…” “Okay. Anything for you, man.” She gave him another peck. They both went out and took off towards Fluttershy’s hut. Twilight Sparkle was there waiting for them. When they landed, she gave them both a look that was impossible to interpret, and then proceeded in an all-business manner. “What do you guys think of Darkly Tempest?” she said in a serious tone. Lightning averted his eyes. Rainbow Dash answered for him. “Well… Lightning doesn’t like him, but he’s probably just over-reacting… He seems pretty normal to me, aside from his… Randomness…” “There’s something not right about him.” Lightning blurted out, unable to avoid commenting. Twilight gave him a glare. “Obviously, you’re biased because he voiced some opinions you didn’t like. That doesn’t mean you dismiss him.” She lectured. “That’s not why! I haven’t liked him since the day he smashed through Fluttershy’s wall!” “Well, your opinion is duly noted, but I was asking because Fluttershy wanted to know, mostly from Rainbow Dash. She thinks he’s fine, especially given her previous examples…” Suddenly, the look she had given him early wasn’t so impossible to interpret. “Listen, I’m just saying, there’s something severely wrong with him, and it’s not just the weird ticks.” Whatever. Anyway, Rainbow Dash, I need to talk to you for a second. Alone.” She said, giving Lightning a stare until he walked away towards the house. He could hear a lecture begin as he walked away, with “Fluttershy, of all ponies” being the most ringing thing he heard. He clipped his way into the house. Fluttershy was in the kitchen, and looked out only momentarily before giving him a look of sorrow then promptly disappearing again. He looked around. Tempest wasn’t around, but he had left his saddlebags lying on the floor in the living room. Suddenly, Fluttershy’s words from the night before occurred to him. *He’s constantly checking those saddlebags.* Lightning bit open the bags. One was filled with what seemed to be useless junk. A few pots and pans, though rather shiny and high-class, filled the left one, along with the occasional gem or trinket. When he opened the right one, he tripped backwards, in awe of what he saw. A beautiful crown and necklace lay within. Each contained a vibrant purple gem, most likely an amethyst, in the shape of a diamond. The gold that the stones were laid into shone with a vibrancy that mimicked the sun in gleam, and Lightning knew that there was no possible way that Tempest had come across this legitimately. He picked the jewelry up with his teeth, carried them out into the yard, and spit them out at Twilight’s feet. “Tell me he’s fine, now.” Twilight stared at the jewels for a moment, then a face of incomprehensible fear slowly drew across her face. “Those… Those are Princess Celestia’s jewels!” Even in the Forest, the creatures knew of Celestia. The pony who brought the sun during the day, and chased it away at night. Her beauty and grace were legend, but Lightning had never seen any depictions of her with these jewels. If they truly were here jewels, then they were harboring a potentially dangerous fugitive. Lightning stormed into the house. “Fluttershy! Where’s Tempest?!” “Why? Are you going to hurt him some more?” she replied, her voice dripping of toxic spite. “Oh, I’m going to hurt him, alright.” He scowled, pushing the jewels toward her. The look on her face morphed from anger to shock in seconds. She simply looked at the jewels for minute, before finally finding her voice. “He’s upstairs, in the bedroom…” “What is he… Nevermind. I’d rather not know.” Lightning resolved not to think about it, to focus on the matter at hand. He charged up the stairs, into the bedroom. He stopped on the threshold, suddenly realizing all at once that he had never been in here, yet there lay Tempest, in the bed, no less. “This is going to be satisfying.” The bedroom wall of Fluttershy’s house blew open as Lightning smashed into Tempest, sending him straight through the wall. Tempest caught himself in mid-air, an impressive feat for someone who had just been thrown through a wall. “What the fuck is your problem, huh?!” He yelled, indignant in spite of himself. “We know who you are! We found the Princess’s crown and necklace in your bags!” “…shit.” Tempest suddenly made to run. Lightning wasn’t going to let it happen. He was upon Tempest before he even knew what was going on, and Lightning brought his hind hooves around, slammed them down on Tempest’s head, and smashed him into the ground. Tempest lay on the ground, struggling to stand. By the time he finally did, everyone was outside. Fluttershy looked at him with a look of betrayed sorrow. Twilight and Dash stared daggers at him, but their stares betrayed their thoughts; that this was his last few moments. Lightning slammed to the ground next to him, taking care not to step on him. He wanted to savor it when he did. Suddenly, Tempest was on his feet, like he wasn’t even harmed. “You’ve obviously never dealt with an after image before. Quite convincing, am I right?” Before Lightning had fully turned his head, Tempest’s hoof drove into his face. He felt his jaw snap as he flew across the lawn, grinding a ditch into the dirt as he hit. “You BASTARD!” Rainbow Dash was upon Tempest in less than a second, as she drove all four hooves into his spine. He was tossed a few feet, but rolled, recovered with a sliding landing, then rebounded back, headbutting her in Fluttershy’s wall. She slumped down against the brick, as blood trickled from her head. Lightning hadn’t fully recovered yet when Tempest came upon him. Tempest reared back, but as he kicked Lightning, his hoof suddenly met no resistance, but rather free space. Before he realized what had happened, Lightning was above him, and drove his head to the ground with a violent stomp of his front hooves. Blood spewed from Tempest’s snout and mouth, and his teeth cracked and crumbled from the force. Lightning stood next to the battered stallion, blinking the blood from his left eye. He gingerly reset his jaw, but he could tell that this fix would lead him to more pain later in life. “You’re finished.” Lightning growled at Tempest. Tempest weakly lifted his head, looked Lightning in the eyes, and said, “At least I got to see her bedroom.” Lightning’s resolve hardened. “Shut up and die.” He smashed his hoof against Tempest’s head at an angle, snapping his neck. Tempest’s head rolled pathetically, his eyes closed for the final time, and his last breath escaped his lungs. The fight was over in less than a minute. Twilight stood there, starstruck by the speed at which Pegasuses fought. Lightning slowly walked over to her, still fighting the blood that was drizzling into his left eye. “I’m sorry that I hurt Fluttershy… I didn’t plan on it. Neither did Rainbow Dash. Things just… Happen. I hope that you’ll forgive me…” Twilight blinked at him for a bit, then silently nodded. She gave him a friendly nuzzle, then rushed to Rainbow Dash’s side. She laid where she had landed, the blood flowing from her head now pooling at the base of the house. She was slumped awkwardly against the wall, and one could not hear her breathing. “Twilight, fix it. Hurry, please!” Lightning became frantic, scared for the life of this mare he had only known for a week. “I know, I know!” Twilight said, exasperated, as her horn glowed with magic. “I’ll do my best. In the meantime… Talk to Fluttershy. Figure things out.” “Okay…” Lightning clipped over to a concerned Fluttershy. “I don’t want to ask… What happened last night?” “He… We kissed. A lot… He said he’d comfort me, that he’d… He’d be better than you were…” Lightning suddenly felt the urge to cry. His eyes stung, and he turned away. “I’m sorry… I told you, I shouldn’t have stayed here…” “No… I’m sorry. I should have listened to you. Instead, I went and did some… Some petty act of revenge… But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have come here… You’ve found someone who obviously cares deeply for you…” Lightning turned to the unconscious mare who had given him the precious time he needed to think over the after image technique. Her wounds were for him. “Yeah… I guess you’re right.” Lightning smiled, an action that sent pain up the left side of his face. “Ow…” “Yeah… Listen… I know I really messed up this time… But… Can we still be friends? And… If you and Dash don’t work out… Don’t rule me out… Please?” Lightning gave her a hug. “Don’t worry. I won’t forget what you did for me. If for some reason, Dash and I don’t work out, then you can count it. Alright?” “Okay… As long as we can still be friends…” Lightning smiled again. “Definitely.” “Guys! She’s awake!” Rainbow Dash was slowly getting to her hooves, her legs wobbling dangerously beneath her. Lightning dashed to her side, supporting her weight against his flank. “Don’t worry, love. I’ve got you.” Dash grinned. “You better love me.” “I’ll take her home. She’ll recover. In the meantime, Twilight, you need to give the Princess her jewels back.” Twilight smiled at him. “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it. You two go and rest. You deserve it.” With a final wave to both of them, Lightning lifted Dash off her hooves and flew her away to the cloud castle. He touched down gently, carried Dash to her room, laid her in bed, and then made to leave. Dash grabbed his mane, pulling him partially on top of her. “All that, and you think you’re sleeping alone tonight?” Dash said, with a mischievous grin on her face. She pulled him close to her and kissed him passionately. The initial surprise wore off, and Lightning returned the kiss. He slipped in the covers with her, and they kissed for most of the night, with Dash eventually passing out from exhaustion. Lightning promptly feel asleep afterwards. In his sleep, Lightning had wonderful dreams of clouds and rainbows. The next morning, he was abruptly awakened by Dash shaking him. “Lightning, you’ll never believe this! Celestia wants to talk to you in person!” Before he could respond, Dash dragged him from his bed and started speeding toward the royal palace. She touched down in front of the gates, and they entered. Celestia awaited them in her main chamber, while she sat on her throne. “Lightning Bright. I hear that you caught the thief who made off with my jewels.” “Caught is… Generous…” he said, scraping at the ground nervously, averting his eyes from her. “So I hear. Though violence is overall appalled in my domain, the circumstances you found yourself in were understandable. To let such a dangerous opponent live seems… Risky. I will not fault you for your actions. Rather, I have called you here to praise you. You’ve saved a valuable part of the royalty of Equestria.” “Thank you, your Highness.” He said, bowing deeply. “It is with great pride that I name you Official Peacekeeper of the town of Ponyville.” “…what?” “Your prowess in combat saved many lives today. Darkly Tempest did not just sneak in and sneak out. The reason he was not pursued and thought to be lost was because he killed all of my guards. In finishing him off, you have both saved the jewels and the lives of ponies everywhere, but also avenged those he had viciously slain. To give you the role of Peacekeeper seems only just.” “Your Highness… I don’t know what to say.” Lightning stammered, looking to Rainbow Dash with pride in his eyes. “You need not say anything, my friend. Now, with the role of Peacekeeper comes a house bought and paid for by the royal family. There’s a nice house near the bakery that’s open…” “That won’t be necessary, your Highness… I already have a place to stay,” he said, turning to Dash with a smile, his cheeks burning. Celestia picked up on the gesture. “Ahh. I see. Well, then, after you have been given your medal, you’re free to go. I hope that this stays a lasting friendship, you and I.” She smiled warmly. Lightning bowed as the medal was bestowed upon him, bowed with a final “Thank you, your Highness,” then he and Dash left the palace doors. The moment they cleared the threshold, he snatched Rainbow Dash into the air, and in midair, kissed her passionately. After a moment, they disconnected. He smiled at her, and said, “I have a home!” She smiled back at him, eyes shining. “Yes. Yes, you do.” After another quick kiss they sped off toward home, a streak of rainbow following them into the blue.