Spike let out a small sigh as he stared down into his punch glass, swirling the contents around.
It had been about two weeks since he had gotten that contract from his dream and Queen Chrysalis had made another futile attack on Equestria that yet again ended in failure. Where was he while the elements of harmony were saving the day? Hanging back like a pitiful sidekick, letting the Real heros do all the work like he always did.
Taking a quick swig of the sugary drink clutched in his claw, Spike stared out at the crowd of ponies talking amongst one another excitedly. Why wouldn't they be? The power of friendship had triumphed once again.
Spike wasn't jealous of his friends, in fact he was happy that they had succeeded and that they were beloved throughout equestria. It's just that, he wished he could be alongside them, as a fellow hero rather than just an assistant.
After all that's all anypony ever saw him as: not Spike, the reformer of the changelings; not Spike, the ambassador to the dragonlands; he was just Spike, the assistant to princess Twilight Sparkle; Spike, the close friend of the elements of harmony.
It didn't matter what he did or who he helped, it would always just be second best when compared to the accomplishments of Twilight and her friends. Doomed to spend his days living in their shadows.
"Spike, ya alright?" a country voice asked, breaking spike out of his deep thoughts
"Hmm?" the dragon in question asked. As he looked up from his drink he saw that standing there was Applejack, looking at him with a concerned expression.
"I'm fine, why do you ask?" said the dragon in a passive tone
"Cuz you've been starin at that punch fer quite awhile now." Applejack replied
"I'm okay, I'm just thinking." Spike said,
but that only prompted Applejack to probe further. "Thinkin? Bout what?"
"Stuff and things" he really didn't want to tell her the truth. The last thing he needed was a therapy session from Twilight or, Celestia forbid, the discovery of the contract he had received.
But Applejack refused to let up "listen partner, ifin there's somethin personal ya need to talk about ya know ya can come to me or the rest of the girls? Right?"
Spike waved her off "I know I know. Honestly though you've got nothing to worry about, I'm okay, I'm just thinking."
Applejack just shrugged and said "alright then, ah jus came to tell ya that Rainbow Dash wants to play truth or dare, care to join in?"
"Sure" Spike said, placing down his punch glass.
However as the two walked over, Applejack just couldn't shake the feeling that her dear dragon buddy was hiding something from her, something really, really big. And by Celestia she was going to get it out of him one way or another.
Truth or dare went well for the most part, with some crazy dares involving shoving things up your nose that most definitely weren't supposed to be there and even crazier truths, who knew big mac liked to play with dolls? Once Rainbow Dash completed a dare involving balancing a cup of juice on her head and a tightrope courtesy of our favorite party pony, she gave the bottle a good spin and it came to rest on Spike.
"Alright Spike, truth or dare?" asked the Wonderbolt
"Truth" said the dragon with a cocky smile.
'Gotcha' thought Dash.
Halfway through the game, Rainbow Dash had come up with a crazy plan to get Spike to tell her what had been bugging him. Twilight and the others were getting pretty worried about him, more than once they caught him staring blankly off into space in private but he just claimed it was nothing; even when he was helping Rarity, the little guy wasn't fully there or during their training session when he nearly crashed into a tree because he was spacing out. She hoped that the next question would get him to spill, at least a little.
"What are you hiding from us?"
The change in tone was almost immediate, Spike's cocky smile morphed into a frown. He began to sweat slightly, eyes darting back and forth, the dragon struggling to think of a response. Until finally Spike wordlessly got up, and walked away.
"Oh no, oh buck." said Rainbow Dash, chasing after him. It was pretty obvious she made the wrong call with that one 'stupid, stupid, stupid! If he won't tell us in private, why would he tell me in a truth or dare contest?' mentally beating herself up
Spike had already exited the party through the double doors that led out of the ballroom and was storming down the hallways to his room. Rainbow Dash quickly managed to catch up to him with her wing strength, but before she could get so much as a single word out Spike said "that was pretty low Rainbow Dash, even for you." not even caring to look at the blue pegasi
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Rainbow Dash defensively
"Oh please don't act so innocent" Spike snapped back "you and the girls love keeping secrets, but you all can't stand it when one's kept from you, can you?"
"Spike I was only trying to help" pleaded the athlete.
"Help? You call that help? Trying to expose a very personal secret of mine in front of all your friends? Oh yeah that's helpful!" Spike shouted
"Spike, please. I'm sorry, but we're all seriously worried about you. You've been acting like a total weirdo for the past two weeks! Something's going on and I just wanna know what's up!" Dash prattled out.
Had it really been that obvious? He was thinking alot about the whole contract, his origins, and the vlemm enclave sure. Why wouldn't he be thinking alot about it? It was a big and important decision he had to make. But staring off into space all the time in deep thought would be a bit off putting for observers, especially his closest friends who cared deeply about him.
Spike took in a few deep breaths to calm himself down, letting his rage die down, before looking at Rainbow Dash "I've just….I've just had a lot on my mind lately Rainbow Dash, about you guys and where we stand. But it's nothing, really. I've just been thinking, that's it."
"But Spike-" Rainbow Dash protested
"Dash do you trust me?" Asked Spike
"Well yeah but-"
"Do. You. Trust. Me?" repeated Spike.
Rainbow Dash stared at her dragon friend. She knew that Spike was a loyal and trustworthy friend; even rivaling her, the element of loyalty. But sometimes he wasn't exactly privy to letting them in onto his personal feelings. Then again this was Spike, if there was really something big troubling him then he would tell them.
"Okay Spike, I trust you."
"Good. Then trust me when I say that I can handle the stuff I'm going through, I'll sort it all out"
Rainbow dash smiled and gave the drake a playful noogie "alright squirt. Your life is your business. Just don't go skipping out on us like last time."
"I won't, anyways I think I'm gonna call it a night. We've had a crazy day" Spike said, opening the door to his bedroom.
"Crazy? Please, we pretty much do this hero thing on a daily basis, it's almost getting boring; almost." rainbow dash said letting out a chuckle.
The two waved goodbye to each other and Spike shut the door; placing his ear fin to it, he waited until the sound of Rainbow Dash's wing flaps died down. Then looked through the keyhole for good measure.
Nopony was there. Good.
The baby dragon's smile gave way to a frown. "She's gonna hate me for lying to her" he said, pulling the scroll out of it's hiding place.
A few days after he had received the contract, Starlight had decided to do some snooping around his room when she noticed his strange behavior; thankfully, he had caught her in the act before she could find anything. Ever since then he had been changing the hiding spot every night to ensure that nopony else came across it.
Laying it down on his desk in front of him, Spike looked it over.
He was already beginning to lean towards accepting their offer, but the attack by Chrysalis only solidified his decision. He had to become stronger, he needed to become stronger. He was tired of being a sidekick, tired of being second place, tired of being on the edge of the spotlight instead of sharing it with the others. He wanted to become a hero in his own right, show everypony that he could do it just like his friends could.
But it wasn't just for him, it was for them too. True they had handled themselves so far, but what if Chrysalis got stronger? What if she raised a new army? What if she found a way to beat them? Or what if a new threat came along, one that was too much for the power of friendship to handle? He couldn't just sit idly by and let it happen to them, like it or not they needed more muscle on their team. If what that dragon said holds true, 'godlike' power would most certainly help in that regard.
Then there was the matter of his parents, they had lost their only child for centuries; he couldn't even fathom what sort of pain they must have gone through, only to find out that he was still alive. If he refused to reunite them, it would destroy them completely along with their kingdom.
But most importantly Spike would finally belong.
All his life Spike had always been somewhat of an outsider wherever he went. His dragon body made it so that he never fit in with ponies, heck to this day he still got a few strange looks from ponies from time to time, especially in Canterlot. He was too much of a pony in spirit to fit in with dragons, even if they are turning over a new leaf, the great dragon migration proved that much. But maybe the dragons that lived on Vlemm were different; that weird dream dragon did say that the dragons Spike knew belonged to a long forgotten breed called 'the horde' who were obsessed with gold and gems. Maybe this misshapen puzzle piece would finally find it's place in this world.
Spike picked up a quill "I know I might come to regret this someday. But there's no other way, I have to do this" he said to himself. Spike signed his name down on the line, sealing his fate for the next few years.
The contract began to glow and levitate off the desk. All of a sudden with a burst of energy, the contract disappeared into a plume of smoke which swirled around in the air to spell out a message: 'excellent choice Artair, I'm glad you accepted. A team of warriors will be along shortly to escort you out, so pack your possessions quickly. Feel free to leave your 'family' a note, but you may not inform them of where you've gone.' and with that the smoke dissipated leaving Spike alone in his room.
"Well that's it, no turning back now." Spike said, picking up a piece of paper and setting to work on his goodbye note
"What were you thinking Dash?!" Twilight shouted at her friend.
"I said I was sorry!"
Spike's dramatic departure from the room didn't escape Twilight's notice, neither did Rainbow Dash's little truth or dare stunt. The minute the wonderbolt returned, Twilight began to deal out a harsh scolding.
"Spike has a right to privacy! We can't just force him to talk about his feelings!" the princess shot back
"I was worried about the little guy!" said Rainbow Dash, trying to defend her actions
"So am I, but I still respect his right to keep a secret! Besides he learned his lesson after the incident with Owlicious; Spike knows that if he has a problem he can come to one of us about it!" Twilight shouted.
"Look; Spike already gave me this lecture, so can we just drop it?"
Twilight narrowed her eyes. "Alright fine, if Spike forgave you. But no more stunts like that again. alright?"
"Okay" Rainbow Dash replied sheepishly
The rest of the night went relatively smoothly, a few rowdy ponies here and there but nothing that had the same effect as Spike's outburst.
Once the party was over and everyone had said their goodbyes Twilight walked down to Spike's room and knocked on the door.
"Spike? Are you awake?"
There was a very slight commotion from behind the door, the sound of several items clattering about, before Spike cracked open the door and peered out
"Oh hey twilight. What's up?" Spike asked
"I just wanted to make sure you're okay after what happened with Rainbow Dash" replied the magenta princess.
Spike smiled "I'm fine Twilight. In fact I'm better than fine, all that stuff I was thinking about for the past few weeks….I think I've finally figured it out."
Twilight returned his cheery expression "that's great Spike! I'm glad you got through it."
"So am I Twi, so am I" spike said, with a smile that was almost a little too wide
Twilight then turned around and said over her shoulder "oh and don't forget to get up early tomorrow! Applejack needs help with a few chores around the farm"
"I won't!" Said Spike closing the door.
If only Twilight had paid a bit more attention to spike's expression she would have noticed that his smile was fake, that he was lying through his teeth. If she had tried a bit harder to get into his room, she would have seen that Spike had stripped his room bare, that all of his belongings had been stuffed into a duffle bag that Shining Armor had given him a few months ago. Such things would have brought on a series of questions that would have revealed exactly how Spike had 'worked through' his issues. But alas, she didn't and she just assumed everything was fine.
Oh how very wrong she was.
A loud tapping sound awoke Spike from his slumber.
After Twilight had left, Spike finished packing up all his belongings and swallowing the icky feeling that built up in the back of his throat when he lied to Twilight like that. He went to bed a few hours later, waiting for his escort.
Looking over to the window he could see a purple claw tapping away at the glass
As he got closer he saw that the claw belong to a female teenage dragon dressed in a ninja suit the same color as her scales, who was rappelling from a rope outside of the window.
Under a normal circumstance, when faced with such a situation, most ponies would freak out and call the royal guard. But Spike wasn't most ponies and these weren't normal circumstances. Instead, Spike slid open the window; quickly discovering that the ninja hadn't come alone. Following in after her, were three more dragons of the same size.
The first one, after the ninja, was a male orange dragon with red-orange irises. He was wearing a tan vest and torn-up brown shorts, he had a necklace with a small green gem hanging from his neck, and a satchel hung over his side. His messy dark orange scales were tied in a scrunchy on the back of his head in a makeshift ponytail.
The next was a pale blue dragon, Spike instantly recognized her; she was the same one from his dream that told his parents about his adventure in the Crystal Empire. She was dressed in a bright blue suit vest with white sleeves and a matching bow hanging from a her collar, dress slacks on her legs and a pair on bright red glasses balanced on her snout. She seemed to be almost hiding behind the orange dragon after crawling in through the window
The third and final dragon looked like a colored swapped version of an older version of spike. He had lime green scales and a purple fin almost the same shade as spike's scales. His clothes comprised of a dark green tank-top and workman's pants, a tool belt around his midsection with several different tools strapped to it. The biggest shock was his left arm, taking the place of a normal scaled arm was a metal prosthetic made out of tubes and wires that was robotic in appearance. Out of all of them, he had the brightest smile on his face.
Before Spike could even realize what was happening, the green dragon walked up to the baby dragon and scooped him up into a tight hug, Tears welling up in the latter's eyes.
"I can't describe how great it is to finally meet you big bro!" The dragon said through sobs.
"Wait. Wait, big bro?" Spike questioned
"Of course! Didn't Cobalt tell you about me? I'm your younger brother! Griffith!" he said with enthusiasm.
Spike began to sputter "I-I-I have a b-b-brother?!"
"Hey man it was just supposed to be the three of us getting you. But the mechanic here insisted on coming with us to see you." Said the orange dragon "He just got so excited when he found out about you, almost as much as your folks did."
Griffith finally released his older brother from the bone crushing hug. Then the orange dragon held out his claw to pull Spike back to his feet and said "name's Connor by the way. Nice to meet ya dude."
Spike shook it then looked at the dragon cowering behind Connor "and you are?"
The dragon just mumbled.
"What was that?" Asked Spike
"My name is Yam"
"I cannot hear what you're saying"
The ninja then let out a sigh and said "she said her name is Yam. Don't take the quietness personally, she's like this around new Drakes, especially royalty such as yourself." Then she pulled off her hood revealing her yellow irises, some small spikes running down her head making a small crest fin, two horns coming out of the back of her head, and an uncaring expression on her face.
"Okay then what's your name?" Asked spike
"Saphira. But don't bother to remember it, I'm only here to get you to the Vlemm Enclave. Once that's done, you're no longer my responsibility."
Spike was rather taken aback by Saphria's deadpan tone.
Griffith then leaned down to Spike and whispered "I know she seems like a bit of a jerk but she's actually a really good friend once you get to know her, she just hates showing it is all." He then stood up, clapping his hands together and saying "well now that introductions are out of the way, shall we get going? We've got a long journey ahead of us."
"Wait if that's true, how exactly did you get here so fast?" Spike asked "I signed that contract only a few hours ago."
"I have a teleporter!" Said Griffith proudly, but then his expression turned sheepish when he held a pile of smoking scrap metal "or at least I had a teleporter. Anyway now we gotta walk back; since, A. we can't use public transport looking like we do and B. flying would draw too much attention. You all packed up?"
Spike slid out the duffle bag from under his bed and slung it over his shoulder.
"Great. Let's get outta here before somebody sees us." He then picked up Spike in one arm, grabbed ahold of the rope with the other, and began shimming down the side of the castle. The others soon following suit.
Once they were all at the bottom; Saphria gave the rope a sharp tug, pulling it off the window, Erasing any evidence that they were even there.
With that, under the shroud of Luna's night, the group took off into the Everfree Forest.
'I'm sorry girls, I hope you can forgive me for this.' Spike thought to himself as they went deeper into the darkness.
The next morning, Twilight burst through the door to Spike's room looking rather annoyed "Spike! I told you to wake up early! We have to…." the pony princess immediately trailed off.
The shelves were empty, along with his desk and Spike was nowhere to be found.
Twilight threw open his closet, panic beginning to overtake her.
Empty and no Spike
She pulled off the covers of his bed.
She searched every possible hiding spot that existed within the confines of his room.
Twilight begin to hyperventilate, going into a classic panic mode reminiscent of when she was late for a friendship report. Her first thoughts went to the worst case scenario: someone had broken into the castle, stolen all of Spike's belongings, and kidnapped the poor drake.
She looked at his desk and noticed a neatly folded piece of paper sitting on top of it. The ransom note no doubt.
She quickly unfolded it, expecting a bunch of cut out magazine letters hastily glued to the parchment like in her mystery novels. But instead she got a series of lines written in neat and clean cursive, she didn't even have to read the signature to know that Spike was the one who wrote this.
She rapidly read through the note, each line changing her panic into shock and sadness.
Once she had finished it, she calmly rolled up the note, strapped it to her side, and then flew through the window at full speed; literally smashing through it.
Only one thought was on her mind: she had to tell the girls what Spike had just done.