Arc 2: The calm before the storm
With a grunt of exertion, Zero rolled into cover, barely dodging a shot from Spanosa's crossbow. In response, he threw a low power bolt of electricity at the teen, causing the crystal guardian to jitter for a few seconds, before he shook it off. "That the best you can do?" Zero taunted. Span responded with a well aimed shot with the bow, the blunt arrow it shot hitting Zero in the back of the head. "Cheap shot!" Zero said as he glared daggers at Spanosa. "Hey, when you have to fight in real combat, your opponents aren't going to stop fighting because you think there methods are low browed. They're going to pull every trick they have, because when it comes to The Father and his underlings, there. Is. No. Mercy." Spanosa punctuated each word with another shot at Zero. "Now, about those drinks your buying…"
Zero sat at the bar, a glass of strawberry cider in his hand. It was all the teen could afford, considering that Spanosa deemed fit to order almost everything on the menu, and even the near limitless funds Princess Celestia allotted him could dry up. He looked over, glaring good naturally at Span, "So… how are the other two doing? They still under?" Span looked up from his food, and sighed, "Yeah… the doctors have no idea what's wrong with them. Physically, they are completely healthy, but they haven't been up and around for two weeks now." His gaze lowered, along with his voice, "If they don't wake up…" Zero leaned over, patting him on the back, "Don't worry Span, from what you've told me about them, they should be up and around soon." Span looked at Zero, smiling and giving an appreciative nod. "Thanks Zero. How's Twilight doing?"
Zero rubbed the bridge of his nose, but grinned, "She's learning, although I'm going to need to find a new area for her to practice with the bot I'm having her build. Thing damn near blew Ponyville sky high last time." He chuckled, before mischievously looking at Spanosa, "So…" Span looked up again. He could tell Zero was up to something, but he took the bait, hook, line and sinker. "So what?" Zero turned around slowly, before speaking, "So… I see you've been getting friendly with Rainbow Dash…" Span nearly fell out of the booth, "W-What are you talking about?"
Zero's grin grew, "Word from the wise Span. Don't try to lie to someone who's felt the same." He put a hand to his chin, speaking quietly, "Also don't try to con a dragon out of his treasure horde. Bloody difficult, almost certainly lethal…" He turned back to Span, his voice returning to normal, "That's besides the point however. Tell me, are you planning to ask her out?" Span blushed, his face turning a shade of red almost identical to his hair. He stood up from the table, "Can we talk elsewhere? If your going to force me to speak about this…" Zero cut him off, "I am going to force you, just for the record." Span continued, "I would prefer if we spoke somewhere with less chance of eavesdropping." Zero knocked back his drink in a single gulp, before sliding off his stool and walking out the door. Spanosa sighed, shook his head, and followed, his dinner forgotten.
Zero closed the door to his workshop quietly, before turning to Span, who was nervously pacing about. Zero reached out a hand and grabbed his arm. "Dude, calm down. It's not like I'm going to tell everyone in town about this." Span took a deep breath before nodding to Zero, letting the breath out. Zero sat down on one of the beanbags he had set up for visitors, pulling out a clipboard and pen from behind the beanbag, along with a gag pair of glasses and mustache he had been given by Pinkie Pie for his first birthday in Equestria. Adopting a mock psychiatrists' voice, "Ok then. Now tell me, when did you begin to develop zees feelings for Rainbow Dash?" Span glared at Zero, before sighing and leaning back in one of the chairs, his eyes closing. "I don't… I don't know… Since I got here, no ones caught my interest like Dash…" Zero nodded, writing on the clipboard, "Mmm… Continue."
"She's amazing. She puts everything she has into her tasks. She's the best flier around, but she isn't boastful." Span thought for a moment, before adding, "Well, not overly boastful." Zero wrote more on his board, "Und tell me what it iz that attracts you to her so much. Iz it her devotion to her friends? Her beauty? Charisma?" Spanosa smiled, a blush surfacing on his face. "A combination of everything really… She's devoted completely to her friends, and she's fun to be around. 'Course, the fact that she's beautiful doesn't hurt either…" Span's blush became deeper, as he snuck a look at Zero. Zero peek over the silly disguise, speaking confidently to Span, the silly tone in his voice gone. "Span, you have no need to be ashamed. Remember, I'm already dating Twilight Sparkle. I'd hazard a guess that in a normal human society, dating an animal, sentient and speaking aside, would be… frowned upon, to say the least… But, this isn't exactly a normal human society, now is it?" Zero pushed his gag disguise back up onto his nose, readopting his silly voice. "Now, you have admitted your feelings, und this feels good, no?" Span thought for a moment, and then nodded, "Yeah… it feels nice to have someone I can trust and confide in." He cast a glance at Zero, who was scribbling on the clipboard. "Well… mostly trust, at least."
Zero grinned, his disguise making him look absolutely ridiculous. "Now… you must decide what to do. Will you show her your feelings, and accept it if she denies you? Or will you keep silent, forever wondering if it was the right decision. It is your choice, und your choice alone, to make." Zero leaned over, presenting Span with his prognosis.
Span sweat dropped. Zero had drawn a picture of Span and Rainbow Dash kissing on top of a cloud. Span in turn offered Zero a prognosis of his own. It detailed what the expression on Zero's face would be if he was to be hammered over the head a couple dozen times with his wrench.
The results came back exactly as Span had predicted. Zero in pain followed shortly after by a temporary loss of intelligence.
With a moan of pain, Zero pulled himself off the floor. He felt his head, where what would probably be a very attractive bruise was already forming. 'Bloody Spanosa… I swear next time I'm going to shove my foot up…' His train of thought derailed, however, when he realized that he wasn't actually awake yet. He had awoken, in a matter of speaking, within the White Room, the area of his subconscious that he entered whenever he slept. For a brief moment he remembered a movie he and Twilight had watched a few months ago, something about dreams within dreams, had a very epic opening with violins and the like. With a few glances around, however, he noticed that the room had become… marred. Deep scratches had been made in the walls, and burn marks blackened the wall. 'What in the… I don't remember doing this… But no one else has ever been able to enter here…' Pulling his Mega-Wrench from it's quick draw holster on his sling pack, it's metal surface surging with electricity as he lowered into a combat stance. There was something in his mind, and whatever it was, it was causing damage that could affect him deeply, both physically and mentally.
Zero dropped down from one of the memory towers he had constructed to keep his mind organized, looking around for the dark shape he had seen while surveying the land far below him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a vaguely human shaped form dart into the underground of his mind, a dark place, which had some of his darker memories, and the sealed entrance to the Black Room, the area of his mind that kept his darkest memories and secrets locked away. He made his way carefully inside, his arms lighting up with a steady stream of arcing blue electricity, effectively giving him a brighter, if a blue tinged, light to see.
Zero took two steps forward, when a form burst from the shadows, clawing at his face. With a swing of his wrench, the form hit one of the walls, hard, before exploding in a puff of dust. Twirling the wrench, Zero muttered to himself, "Batter up…"
Zero dropped deeper into the multilayered complex of his mind, panting slightly, more from the fact that his heart was racing than from over exertion. The shadowy attackers seemed to always be lying in wait in the most unexpected areas, even in the rooms he had already checked. He had more than a few close calls, but he managed to keep off the attackers each time. The attackers had stopped appearing as frequently now, so he hoped that he was closing in on the leader of these things.
Throwing a quick look around the room he had dropped into, but there didn't seem to be any sign of the human look alike. There was, however, a piece of paper that radiated a soft glow sitting on the floor. Examining it, it seemed to be a hint that might help him find his way…
When in doubt, look about. Electricity is in all things, and leaves trace amounts…
Zero didn't have many powers, so it wasn't hard to sift through the possible options. He quickly settled on what he had come to name his 'Electric Sense'. Sure, it wasn't exactly catchy, nor did it roll off the tongue very smoothly, but it explained the ability fairly well. Sending out an electromagnetic pulse from his body, he could see that the room had no electrical sources, but after a fleeting moment, a sickly green outline of what he presumed to be the shadow from before ran past, disappearing through a well concealed door. For a half second, Zero attempted to guess as to how he could see 'after images' of beings, but gave up when he realized that it would just give the runner more time to put more distance between them.
Pushing onward through the door, he found himself in what could be loosely referred to as a church, but it was something more relatable to a cult. The room was heavy with a disgusting musk and a putrid mash-up of incest candles. The room was lit, barely, by many colored flames, greens, reds, blues, and yellows. In the center of it all, a pentagram the color, and possibly drawn in, of blood, faded from many years of disuse. Standing in the direct center of the floor, was the black shape Zero had followed here. In the half light of the room, the shadows revealing arms as thin as sticks, orange hair flat to his skull in an extreme bowl cut. As Zero stepped cautiously into the room, the figure stood taller, before turning slowly. His entire attire was a single piece purple… jumpsuit; Zero couldn't think of anything that he could relate to the garb upon the man's pasty white skin. Six golden buttons, three on each side of a lighter purple area of the jumpsuit, winked at him as they caught the light and reflected it. "Well, well, well… how very nice to meet you. You're… younger than I had anticipated, yes, but…" A look of thought crossed his face. "Hmmm… yes, yes… there will need to be changes… but that shouldn't be difficult…" His face became passive again.
Unnerved, Zero stepped forward, "What are you talking about? Who… wait… no…" A grin that stretched his lips to his ears appeared on the stranger's face and he gave a giggle that made Zero's hairs to stand on end. "Yes. I am what you know as… 'The Father'." Zero stepped back slightly, but stood his ground, charging his wrench with extra energy. "How did you get into my mind?" The Father just giggled at him, before speaking. "You hide some dark fears in your mind… don't you?" Behind him, the ceiling warped, and a form began to fall out. "For example, Twilight Sparkle's death…" Zero suppressed his gag reflex, as the shape falling from the wall took the shape of Twilight, her coat bloodied and torn, and her eyes seemingly staring straight at Zero, silently accusing him for his failure to keep her safe. The Father giggled at Zero's reaction. "You can't win…" With a cry of rage, Zero leapt at The Father, his electrified wrench cleaving through the air, ozone burning in its wake.
Despite the imminent danger racing towards him, The Father simply stood, his eyes calmly observing events as if he were an outside onlooker. When the wrench reached his head, however, it passed through, clanging as it hit the floor. Shocked, Zero paused, attempting to understand what was going on. The Father giggled again, "You shouldn't have done that…" Before Zero could react, he found himself being held aloft, unable to breath. He clawed at his neck, attempting to dislodge whatever was choking the life out of him, but his fingers clawed at air. He found himself being tossed about the room, felt his bones snap, his flesh rip, pain blossoming from everywhere on his body. He screamed in pain, red electricity bleeding from him, snapping and hissing like enraged cobras. Anger fueled him, flowing through his veins. He couldn't think straight, his thoughts veiled by a haze of red.
Zero fell to the floor, bloodied. Red electricity flowed from his body, a polar opposite of the normal pure blue electricity he normally exerted. His thoughts ending, fighting for each breath, his punctured lung releasing almost all the air he brought in. As his mind went dark, The Father leaned over his body, and murmured, "You've met with a terrible fate… haven't you?" and giggled.
Zero awoke with a start, gulping down air, shaking from the terror of his dream. He wasn't left alone for long, however. "Zero! Are you okay? I was so worried when I found you on the floor of your lab!" Twilight hugged Zero close, shaking almost as much as Zero was. Zero attempted to calm himself, but every time he breathed in the old book smell that always lingered upon Twilight's hide; he remembered the battered and broken form that The Father had shown him… Rage built up within him burning like an out of control fire.
Zero spoke, his voice barely maintaining a calm level, "Twilight, where is Span? I… I need to speak with him. It's urgent." Zero looked at Twilight, "I need you to head to the hospital. I'll meet you there with Span. We need to wake up his friends." Zero's mind raced, already planning his next move. "We need to make the first strike. Time is of the essence." Twilight nodded, told Zero where she had last seen Span, and gave Zero a quick kiss before she disappeared in a puff of magic.
"…So, you want to make the first strike I suppose?" Span sighed, shaking his head, before looking back to Zero, who was pacing around the waiting area of the hospital. "You do realize that The Father has the advantage, don't you? We'd be taking the fight to his playing field, letting him have the home field advantage, as it were. He likely not only expects you, but is preparing even as we speak for that inevitability. He still has hundreds of followers, and has the ability to create more at will. Hell, even if he walked right up to us and told you to throw everything you had at him, you're still not nearly strong enough to fend him off, let alone go on the offence."
Zero huffed, glaring at Span, "What can I do then? If you have a better idea, please feel free to contribute it!" Angry red sparks arced across Zero's arms. Span observed this, then spoke quietly, "How well versed are you in the medical procedure of kick starting someone's heart?"
Red electricity built up on each of Zero's hands. "You sure this is a good idea Span? I mean, what if I overcharge the electricity? You realize I could possibly cause their hearts to…" Span cut off Zero before he could finish his sentence. "Zero, just follow your instincts. Your powers will guide you." Switching his attention back to the job at hand, Zero sarcastically spoke, "Yes great master! Would you like me to wax your personal wagon next? Or perhaps…" Span leaned into his line of sight, his facial expression speaking volumes. "Kick starting their hearts now."
Placing both of his hands on the chest of the middle Crystal Guardian, Zero released the charge into his chest. His body arched upwards, before quickly falling back to the bed. His eyes fluttered open, flicking around the room, searching for threats. "Who are you? Where am I? Span?" Span made a hand gesture, silencing the re-awakened guardian. "We will explain later, Troy… Much has occurred while you slept." Zero had already moved over to the last unconscious Guardian.
The two newly-awakened Crystal Guardians, now outfitted in casual wear, sat around the library, listening as Zero explained the current situation, only interrupting occasionally. "So, The Father sent us to this world then, allowing himself almost uninhibited control to continue his evil plots? Makes sense." Troy murmured, before looking across the room to Span. "Any ideas as to what we can do?" A quiet voice spoke up from beneath Pinkie Pie, who was currently in the process of drawing on the speakers face. Why the pink pony was present was anyone's guess. "What if we had Zero charge up the generator for the portal? It shouldn't be hard to find the required material to build one."
Troy nodded, "Yes… that just might work! Good thinking Cookies!" The aforementioned guardian lazily raised a hand, waving a small flag Pinkie had given to him, "Go team!"
'How did Zero talk me into this? HOW?' Span was in what could only be described as a calm panic, meaning externally he appeared to be completely composed, but within, his mind was in a crazed panic, ideas flashing through his mind at a rapid pace. Somehow, don't ask Span how, but somehow, Zero had managed to get Spanosa and Rainbow Dash a table at one of the most prestigious and fancy restaurants in Ponyville. (Zero's influence as Master Archineer only extended within the Ponyville borders except in emergency situations.) Rainbow Dash, who normal would only dine on either fast foods, or foods that were more suited to her taxingly physical job as Captain of the Wonderbolts, had somehow managed to settle herself and was dining on a high class dinner of fruits and plants. High Class meaning a dinner that is small enough as to equate to a snack rather than a complete meal.
Span, who had managed to control himself long enough to order his meal, and found, once again, Zero had seen fit to intervene and had asked that the house provide their best wine. The drink was delicious, having a strawberry flavor with a delicious tang afterwards. Naturally, the drink was highly alcoholic, and by the time Span and Dash had reached desert they were both thoroughly intoxicated. The desert, once again likely chosen beforehand by Zero, was a metaphorical rainbow of fruits arraigned artfully around a cascading fountain of chocolate fondue. The waiter that had served them that night handed Span a small white card with the logo of the restaurant imprinted along the top in gold foil. The waiter said goodbye after explaining that the dinner had already been paid for in advance by, who else? Zero.
On the white card was a note from the matchmaker himself;
Surprised you, didn't I? Ha-ha… Anyway, I paid for the dinner in advance, so all you have to concentrate on is wooing Rainbow!
P.S. Did you know that chocolate is the symbol of love? Who knows? Maybe it'll help you out in the long run, eh?
Span crumpled the note, muttering darkly, something along the lines of 'Stupid matchmaking lightning bug…' Looking up, masking his murderous intent towards the aforementioned builder, Span smiled cheerfully at Dash as they walked through the streets of the town. "You enjoy your dinner? The food there's pretty good, eh?" Dash smirked and nodded, "Yep. Although the portions were small, it was pretty filling… So, Mister Expensive, where next?" Span tilted his head, "Well, I did come across these tickets to the early showing of 'Doctor Whooves; Of Timelords and Terror'," With a flick of his wrist, two tickets with the artistic logo of the nearby theater splashed across it's front in bold colors appeared in his hands. "But I haven't the slightest idea what to do with them! Oh well," His voice dripped with fake drama, "I guess I'll just have to-"
He didn't finish his sentence, but he could be excused, considering that all the air had forcefully been evacuated from his lungs by way of an excruciatingly tight hug from a certain sky blue Pegasus. "Oh my gosh, !" Span managed to wheeze out a response, "Your welcome Dash, but these tickets do require that my heart is still beating, and I think you may be causing me to leave the land of the living. So if you would kindly…?" Dash blushed, releasing Span, who promptly sucked in a giant breath of air. Dash scratched at the ground, embarrassed, "S-sorry…"
Span breathed at a somewhat normal pace, and gave Dash a grin, "S'…S'okay." He blushed, "Was worth getting to see that beautiful smile on your face." Dash stopped, her face turning as red as Big Macintosh's coat. "B-beautiful?" Span continued walking, leaving Dash standing, mouth opening and closing repeatedly as she tried to form a sentence. "You think I'm beautiful?" Span stopped, turning slowly towards her, a smile on his face, "Well, yes…" He walked up towards Dash, taking her hoof in his hand. He took a deep breath, looking to the stars as he exhaled softly, "Dash… I… I might as well get this off my chest here and now." He focused upon Dash's beautiful magenta eyes, and spoke in a quite whisper. "Rainbow Dash… I love you."
Dash stared at Span for a moment, not speaking, not moving, and hardly even breathing. She fell to her haunches, Span sitting cross legged next to her. After a few minutes, Dash spoke, "Span… I've never had anyone feel like that about me ever before…" She turned her looked at Span, her voice giving off a slight undertone of fear, "What if I do something to upset you and you get mad at me? What if I ruin our friendship! What if–" Span put a hand to her muzzle, quieting her, "Dash; there is nothing you could possibly do to ruin our friendship. And I could never, ever hate you." He put his hand on the side of her face, holding her gaze. Dash blushed. "Well… I guess you could… we could…" Dash looked into Span's eyes, a spark of mischief glinting within her own magenta irises. "You could probably benefit from being my boyfriend. 'Least you'd be about 20% cool anyway…" Span laughed, "Whatever you say Dash. Whatever you say."
A nearby tree rustled, and two pairs of binoculars poked through the leaves. Zero and Twilight, as who else could it be? Carefully the two matchmakers watched Span and Dash leave the park, a slight bounce in the step of both. The binoculars pulled back, and Zero turned to face Twilight, a grin on his face.
Zero stood in by the fountain that dominated the view in Ponyville Town Square, clean water sparkling as it arced gracefully through the air. He spoke softly, "Amazing, isn't it?" Twilight turned her gaze from the fountain, motioning with her head for Zero to continue. "Amazing how fast your world can change. In the space of only a month, there's now a grand total of four humans in Equestria, I-" Zero pointed at himself, "Have been given the power to control electricity," He pointed at Rainbow Dash and Span, who sat on one of the more secluded park benches, talking quietly, "Span has confessed to Dash," He discreetly pointed between the two, where hand and hoof had met and entwined, before moving his pointing finger towards one of the largest trees in the park where Pinkie Pie was hiding from Cookies. "Pinkie Pie seems to have formed a close bond with Cookies," He grinned at Twilight, "It's absolutely amazing what the magic of friendship can bring about, wouldn't you say?"
"Of course, not all the changes have been good." Twilight pointed out, "You've got a pretty big burden on your shoulders now, having to help fight off The Father." Zero nodded thoughtfully. "By the way, when are we going again?" Twilight inquired. Zero was taken aback, "When exactly was it ever said that you would be coming along?" Twilight opened her mouth to speak, but Zero placed a finger across it, willing her let him finish. "Don't take it the wrong way. You and your friends have done great things here," He put up a finger for each point he made, "Nightmare Moon's return, that time with the Ursa Minor, The Young Fliers Competition, the Dragon, just to name a few. But if anything were to happen to you, or your friends… I don't know what I would do." Zero's eyes held a haunted look.
"Zero… I understand that what you were forced to see by The Father was horrible, but I can't let you go this alone. Being friends, or in our case, being in a relationship, means that you watch out for each other. You're afraid of how you would react if something happened to me, but in turn, if something happened to you, and I had been back here, where I would be safe from harm, when I could have been their for you… That would be just as bad." Zero looked to the sky, breathing deeply, before turning back to Twilight. "I was hoping you would say that."
Twilight backed up, shocked. "What do you mean by that?" Zero took Twilight's fore-hoof in his hand, looking straight into her violet orbs, "Twilight, it pains me that I had to do this, but I needed to test your resolve. I needed to know that, deep down, no matter what harm might come of you; you would still be ready, willing and able to help. It's one of your best qualities of course, but it was still necessary." With an annoyed sigh, Twilight pulled away from Zero's hold on her hoof, before proceeding to slap him across the face. "I really thought you would be smart enough to know that I love you enough to face anything, as long as your by my side."
Zero's only response was somewhere between hilarious and worrisome. His voice affected a cliché Count Dracula accent, "Oh my… One, Two, Three… Three Twilight Sparkles! Ah, Ah, Ah!" Twilight just facehoofed, before dragging Zero back to the Library.
End of Arc 2
Author's Note; Jeez, the latter chapters of this arc were really difficult to write… (Is wondering if making a crossover of the Jadusable ARG and Friendship is Magic was a terribly horrible idea, and if he should have just made a simpler and more single romance focused stories instead of… this! *moans in despair*) I really hope everyone who reads this enjoys, and I hope that I'll be able to keep this up… Big thanks to the two reviews I've received from Eonsig and Lavasharks, you have absolutely no idea how good it makes me feel to check up on my story and see that two people were interested enough to review. Also, if any administrators are reading this, a views (reads?) counter would be very appreciated. At least I would know how many people I'm entertaining. Also, while I'm entertaining this notion, might I suggest a more consistent log-in system? Maybe a new interface? Made of… fruit. XD More reviews, please! Oh, and finally, before I forget, Arc 3 may take a bit to get out, not because of no internet access, but simply because I've kinda hit a creative wall here. I've got the first bit written up, but I'm not quite sure how to write the next couple of scenes. Instead, I'll be releasing my second story, which will be updated whenever I feel like it. It stars Zero, but not in the way you all know and love…
See you soon!