A/N: Alright. Here comes the second chapter. Sorry for the wait. I had wanted to get it out much sooner...
Dazzle was still shock at what she had just seen. What had all of that been about? The ground started to shake, some kind of crystal had engulfed the castle and then some berserk wolf attacked them randomly? None of it was normal. The black figure she had seen flying from the castle bothered her the most though. Why had it looked like Arcana to her for a split second? That just didn't make sense.
More than anything though, it worried her. From her classes, Dazzle had learned that magic worked in very mysterious and unusual ways. She thought about her dream of the night before. Seeing Arc engulfed in that darkness there then seeing her again somehow in that awful darkness over the castle, it was alarming. She hoped it wasn't some sort of omen she was seeing. Perhaps her magic was trying to tell her her friend was in grave danger? Thoughts like that made her incredibly antsy, though she tried her best to stay as smiley as ever.
After things had calmed down, the unicorn from the restaurant La Fleur Canterlot, who introduced herself as Stormsong, had lead Dazzle and the other bystanders who had been there on the scene into her restaurant. The guard mare had flown off to help fight off other beasts like the wolf who were apparently still besieging Canterlot.
"So... um... what are we going to do about this?" asked the black-pelted unicorn filly, now inside the restaurant with Dazzle. She had said earlier that her name was ShadowMist.
"I don't think there's much any of us can do about something like this..." said Stormsong quietly. "I mean... this is beyond what any one of us can do anything about. We just have to trust the REA ponies can help set things right."
"Maybe we should still try and help somehow?" said Dazzle smiling anxiously, worried for Arcana. "There has to be something we can do?"
"I could never..." Stormsong started, shaking her head. Both these unicorns struck Dazzle as the shy type. She never saw much reason to be shy. Most ponies were nice enough. If she could help anypony by extending a helping hoof, she was happy.
"I just can't believe the castle..." ShadowMist muttered quietly. "I guess Twilight won't be getting that book she wanted from the princess..."
"The princess?" Stormsong questioned. "You mean you were on your way to the castle?"
"I work at a library in Ponyville," said the filly, shrugging slightly. "Though mostly I just end up as a sort of book courier for the mare who runs the library, Twilight Sparkle."
"That sounds like lots of fun!" said Dazzle brightly. "I love books."
"It's... alright..." said ShadowMist, looking not too satisfied. "I mean it's good pay for not too much work..." Dazzle noticed that this filly still didn't have a Cutie Mark.
"I'm positive you'll find something you really love doing if you just keep looking!" Dazzle cheerfully replied, smiling at her new friend.
"Er... thanks..." ShadowMist spoke, looking not entirely sure how to react. "But I'm not really sure this is what we should be talking about..."
"I'm wondering what that crystal is..." said Stormsong in a shy voice, looking downward. "I wonder if your librarian friend would know?"
"Twilight?" ShadowMist spoke. "Maybe... She does read more than almost anypony in all of Equestria... but..."
"Not even the princess herself saw this coming..." Stormsong finished. "She would have escaped or stopped it if she had..."
"I wish Arc was here," said Dazzle, frowning. "She's the smartest pony I know. She knows all about strange magical stuff..."
"Who is this Arc? Didn't you say her name earlier?" ShadowMist asked, tilting her head.
"She's like my best friend ever!" Dazzle started excitedly. Her mood then sunk. "Except she disappeared about a year ago..."
"That's sad," said Stormsong in a low voice, shaking her head.
"Yeah..." Dazzle said, her head hung. She sighed.
"So are there any other particularly knowledgeable ponies around you think could solve this?" Stormsong asked, looking at ShadowMist.
"Well, there's Twilight's friend the Zebra... but she lives deep in that scary Everfree Forest..." said ShadowMist giving her own sigh. "So she'd be even harder to get to..."
"If you're looking for ponies with a lot of strange knowledge, there's nopony better than old Lexis in Fillydelphia," a new voice suddenly said. Dazzle looked up to see a blue unicorn mare with waves as her cutie mark.
"Oh?" Dazzle started, smiling as she stared at the new pony.
"It's Aqua Marine. I travel all throughout Equestria, selling the beautiful wonders of the ocean to anypony willing to appreciate them," the mare replied in a kind voice.
"Nice to meet you, Aqua!" Dazzle called, smiling. "I'm Dazzle Dawn and these are two really nice ponies I just met, ShadowMist and Stormsong."
"Nice to meet you all," Aqua Marine said, nodding at the others.
"Yes," said Stormsong, smiling back. "But about this Lexis pony?"
"I've never met him myself, but you hear a lot of different things when you're on the road all the time," said Aqua. "Apparently he was once some big shot scholar. Now he's just an eccentric old stallion who spends his time collecting obscure old books."
"Maybe I should go look for him?" Dazzle started, nodding. She wanted something to do. If her magic was trying to guide her to Arcana, she couldn't stand still. She needed to leave Canterlot.
"What will that get you?" asked ShadowMist. "There's no way of knowing this guy would even know anything. Stormsong is right, for something as big as this, anything we ordinary ponies try is probably just getting in the way of the REA."
"Isn't it best to still try and help?" asked Dazzle brightly.
"You're a strange one," said Aqua with a soft laugh. "Most ponies would be a lot more uneased by something this big... like these two are." She motioned toward the other two unicorns.
"I am worried," said Dazzle, looking up, thinking about Arcana some more. "Something about it doesn't feel right... But that's kind of why I can't just sit still..."
"You'll be killed," said Stormsong, concerned. "That guard pony said there were more beasts like that wolf out there..."
"I say you should go for it," said Aqua, nodding. "I mean, everything can't stop just because of what happened. I know I don't intend to stop running my store."
"I suppose that much is true," said Stormsong. "Canterlot still needs to eat too, so I can't close."
ShadowMist looked around and sighed. "I guess I could try and get back to Twilight... Maybe she does know something after all..."
"Then it's settled!" said Dazzle with a nod. "We'll all do our part to help everypony. I'll go to Fillydelphia and find Mr. Lexis and see what he knows. I"ll find Arc too!"
"Good luck," said Stormsong.
"Yeah," nodded ShadowMist.
Dazzle Dawn felt confidence building inside of her. It was her time to finally put everything she had learned in school to test. Even when faced with all these terrible things, she was going to do everything in her power to make Canterlot smile again. More than that, she was going to uncover the truth and she was going to find and save Arcana! That much she was positive of.
Several hours of fighting had passed, leaving the young pegasus Radiant Steel exhausted. She had never seen anything like this. She was used to wearing her ceremonial gold guard armor, but earlier that day everypony in her company had been outfitted with more sturdy and battle ready dull gray armor and had been given spiked combat shoes to maximize their offensive capabilities. This was clearly necessary too.
It was as if all the large, non-pony creatures anywhere near Canterlot had all at once decided to lay siege to the city. Securing the streets and ensuring the citizens were protected had been quite the task. After an entire day of fighting the beasts off, things had finally calmed down.
Radiant's entire company had been assembled outside Canterlot REA headquarters. Company B of the Fourth Battalion of the "Princess' Own" First Brigade was under the command of none other than Radiant's father, Major Steeledge. Company B was exclusively comprised of Garrison Forces charged with protecting the Castle and all of Canterlot and the surrounding from those who meant it harm.
Major Rufous Steeledge stood tall, facing the company, fresh claw marks showing red across his face. The argument she had had with her father that morning was the furthest thing from her mind as Radiant faced him now, in line with fifty or so other ponies assembled to meet this latest disaster. No, Radiant stood firm with nothing but respect for the stallion before her. She was ready to do whatever he said.
"Company B, attention!" Rufous barked at his subordinates. "I'm sure you'll all very much aware of why you've been assembled here this evening! Strange occurrences have besieged our fair Canterlot! Her Majesty the Princess and her sister have been imprisoned by the dark crystal! All the while, some strange ailment has stricken the creatures of the land, causing them to all go berserk with lust for blood!"
Rufous paused and stomped toward the soldiers. "After a fierce day of fighting, Canterlot has been secured," the Major started. "However, grave news has arrived through REIN reports. Canterlot is not the only place where this madness has arisen!" Rufous' voice grew more grave and serious. "No, reports indicate similar incidents occurring throughout Equestria. Canterlot is secure for now, but the same cannot be said of the towns and cities throughout this land where the REA has less presence."
"Orders from the top have come in," Rufous continued speak loudly and clearly. "Company B is to split in three. Half of you will stay here in Canterlot on Garrison detail, directly under my command. Those of you in Lieutenant Pike's unit are being switched to the field. You'll be deployed immediately to Hoofington."
"Yes, sir!" First Lieutenant Sterling Pike and his ponies called back readily, standing at the ready. Lieutenant Pike, a stallion almost as tough as Radiant's father, had been the pegasus' direct superior for a long time. However, after their most recent argument Radiant had been switched to another unit.
"Those of you under Lieutenant Saber shall also be switched to Field detail. Your destination is Fillydelphia. You'll deploy immediately as well," the Major shouted.
Radiant nodded. Lieutenant Saber's platoon was where she had been placed. She was to deploy. She'd never been on field detail before. Garrison was all she had ever known. Still, she was ready. For Equestria, Celestia and the REA she would not fail, no matter what task she was given.
"Yes, sir!" Radiant called back with the others.
"Alright, dismissed!" Rufous shouted to the crowd in a strong voice. "Further orders shall come from your platoon leaders!"
With that, Radiant's father turned and began to stomp away, his two platoons following behind him in a synchronized march. Pike addressed his ponies briefly, and followed suit, beginning the long march south to Hoofington. Finally, Second Lieutenant Azure Saber, Radiant's platoon leader, stepped out and turned to the remaining platoon. A strong military mare Radiant had long admired, Saber was a royal blue unicorn with a blonde mane worn in an up-do. Standing there in her armor facing them, she looked particularly dignified.
"Alright ponies, we must be off!" she addressed her unit as they nodded to her. "We're to rendezvous with a platoon from the 13th Cataphract Regiment outside the Whitetail Woods. From there we'll continue Southwest past Manehatten to Fillydelphia. Understood?"
"Yes, Lieutenant!" Radiant and the nine others in her unit replied in unison.
"Then we deploy!" Saber called as she turned around. "Onward, ponies!"
With that, the full platoon of 11 ponies began to march steadily away from Canterlot. They however weren't allowed to get very far before they were disrupted. Somepony suddenly came cantering toward them. Radiant didn't recognize her.
"Wait!" this strange pony shouted. "Did I hear you right? Did you say you ponies are deploying to FIllydelphia?" It was some unicorn mare with a green mane, blue pelt and a vacant, happy look on her face.
"That's right, ma'am," Saber said, trotting toward the other unicorn. "What of it?"
"Ooh! Can I come?" the unicorn asked cheerfully. "I really, really want to go to Fillydelphia, and I think it would be more fun than going all alone..."
Radiant stared at the pony stupefied. She just couldn't be serious, could she? Either way, Radiant felt the need to speak up.
"Haven't you been paying attention to anything that happened today? Canterlot- no,all of Equestria, is under assault by some sort of terrible disaster!" Radiant stepped forward and shouted at the foolish unicorn. "The REA hasn't the time at the moment to be foalsitting upstart mares like you. We're deploying for war!"
"Wait, I know you!" the unicorn started like she hadn't heard a thing Radiant had said. "You're the pegasus who saved me from that wolf earlier! You flew off before I had a chance to thank you! So... um..." the pony giggled softly then smiled. "Thanks!"
Radiant was confused for a moment. She didn't remember this far too cheerful pony at all. She had been far more concerned with the wolf at the time though, so she supposed that wasn't a surprise.
"Uh... it was all in the line of duty," said Radiant firmly
"We should be friends," said the unicorn in a soft voice. "I'm Dazzle Dawn!" Radiant was completely taken aback by the ponies all too upbeat attitude.
"Well then, Miss Dazzle Dawn, I'm going to have to insist you leave," she finally said with a frown "This is a military matter. Civilians are currently not being allowed to leave the city."
"But..." said Dazzle, frowning herself momentarily. "I really want to help..."
"The REA appreciates your want to serve Equestria, Miss Dawn," said Saber smiling quietly and nodding to the other. "However Private Steel is right in this case. This is far too dangerous a time for mere civilians to be permitted to leave Canterlot. I'm afraid your request is impossible."
"Oh..." Dazzle sighed, looking down. "Okay..." She looked rather disappointed. Radiant couldn't believe it. This strange pony had honestly expected this half-baked request to work?
"Now then, I apologize but we mustn't waste another moment," said Saber, nodding at Dazzle. The other unicorn smiled weakly and nodded. Saber turned from her. "Forward, ponies. We march!"
The platoon began to move steadily from the outskirts of the city. After several minutes of travel, Saber pulled back from the lead and began to walk in stride with Radiant. Radiant glanced at her.
"Is there something you wanted of me, Lieutenant?" she asked.
"Just a word, Private," the other replied. "That incident just now proved to me you still have some work to do when dealing with civilians."
"I said nothing false," Radiant defended herself. She wasn't going to get reprimanded yet again, was she? Hadn't she had enough of that today...?
"You were condescending," said Saber, shaking her head. "Tact is important for a soldier. We of the REA are an extension of Celestia's might. It is fundamental we never abuse that might lest we may damage our Princess' standing with the populace."
"I understand, Lieutenant. But what should I have said in that case? That pony really might not have gotten it any other way," said Radiant with a huff.
"You should have left it in my hooves, Private," said the other. "I appreciate the passion with which you throw yourself into things, but that in itself is dangerous. I am the commanding officer here. Please at least try and defer to me."
"Yes, Lieutenant," Radiant replied, calming down at once. Thinking about it, Saber was entirely right. She really had outstepped her bounds. If she was still in Lieutenant Pike's unit, he'd be screaming at her for that sort of thing. That was to say nothing of what her father might have done. Saber's leadership style was a lot more reserved.
"Now that that's out of the way, I was meaning to ask your opinion of this mess?" Saber started after a moment of silence, nodding as she spoke.
"Mine?" Radiant started, shocked. "Why would you be interested in that?"
"I heard from the major you were one of the first in the Company to bear witness to the dark crystal engulfing the castle. I didn't see it happen myself, I only felt the tremors," the unicorn spoke in a low voice.
"It was bizarre. It erupted rapidly from the ground below, causing it to shake fiercely. No sign of the princesses could be seen as it swallowed the castle whole," said the younger mare.
"To think they're both really imprisoned..." said Saber, looking down. "Equestria needs them. I hate to think what may occur if the sun is never allowed to be lowered from the sky..."
Radiant stopped in her tracks. She hadn't even considered that crucial detail. The sun was still out, unmoved since that morning. As long as Celestia was locked in the crystal, there was nopony who could move the sun. With it locked in the sky above them, Equestria faced further disaster in the form of a scorching heat wave and all the associated problems. They really didn't have much time. The REA needed to set things right and they needed to do it now.
"Damn it! We need to hurry," said Radiant, stomping her hooves. "We need to get to the bottom of this."
"Leave that to the REIN and the V Order of the Honor Guard," said Saber, shaking her head. "Uncovering information is their field. Protecting the citizenry is ours."
Radiant frowned. Her older brother, Steel Dagger, was a member of the V Order, also known as "The Shroud". This order, which specialized in intelligence and counterintelligence, was considered shady by some factions both inside and out the REA. Radiant wasn't sure what to think of them as a whole, but her father sure didn't think fondly of them. Dagger, a bit of a shifty character himself, had joined largely to spite him. If he was an example of the sort they employed, Radiant had considerable doubts about trusting them with something so serious. Still, Saber was right when it came to what their primary concern should be.
"I suppose you're right. Protecting the ponies of Fillydelphia should be our only concern for now," said Radiant, nodding firmly.
"That's right," Saber said in accordance. "There is only so much a singly pony can do in this world. It's imperative we remember that."
"I'll do my best to, Lieutenant," Radiant replied dutifully.
The conversation died off soon after that. The platoon marched for over an hour, staying relative quiet and in line with one another. Soon the Whitetail Woods could be seen just on the horizon. Radiant was surprised they had made it so far without encountering some sort of beast. Perhaps they had abandoned the roads and wilds entirely in favor of the cities? If so, they really needed to hurry. Fillydelphia was a large city, but it had very light REA presence, relying mainly on militia. They were sure to be short-hooved and vulnerable.
It was just as the pegasus was having those thoughts that a terrible roar could be heard in the distance. It was not the sort of sound a pony would make. No, this was the sound of something large and powerful. It was unlike any roar Radiant had heard.
"What was that sound?" one of the stallions in the platoon shouted in alarm.
"The other platoon might be in danger! Ponies, make haste! We ride to their aid!" Saber shouted out, staring ahead at the forest from which the sound had come.
"Yes, Lieutenant!" everypony replied in a grave tone. The entire platoon then burst into a sudden gallop in the direction of the woods. Slowly the battlefield came into view. Radiant was stunned.
"No..." she muttered. "What's happened...?"
There before them was the entire platoon from the 13th regiment. A good 15 fully armored ponies stood there, all completely motionless, each locked in a prison of stone. At the center of the field of statues there was a horrible beast. Its body was like a massive buffalo, but it's head was like a boar. It had giant tusks and horns, a long, thick neck and a body covered in thick armor-like scales. The whole thing had a deep purple hue to it and glowing red eyes.
"What is that?" one of the ponies in Radiant's platoon asked.
"I believe it's a beast called a catoblepas. Like the cockatrice it has the ability to turn ponies to stone" said Saber, dismayed. "But this is wrong... this creature isn't supposed to be found in Equestria... They come from the same far off lands the zebras call home..."
"Then how did it get here?" somepony demanded, fear in his voice.
"It doesn't matter how it got here!" Radiant shouted, ready. "It's here, so we have to stop it before our comrades come to further harm!"
"That's right!" some of the other ponies echoed the call. They began to rush forward, galloping toward the beast.
"Wait!" Saber called. "It's dangerous to just charge in like this..." Noticing much of her unit was getting away from her, the unicorn acquiesced and started to charge with them. "Fine! Everypony, charge! Take that creature down as swiftly as possible!"
Radiant took to the skies and rushed directly at the large beast. She slammed her spiked battle shoes into the beast's back, but it hardly made a dent. The beast threw its head back then and attempted to skewer Radiant with its horns. She darted back to avoid the attack and stared down, looking for a part of the beast's body that seemed more vulnerable. Finally, she decided to just go for the head. Sure it was dangerous, the scales didn't look as thick there.
"Wait!" suddenly a pony called out. Radiant noticed a lone pony lifting herself off the ground from behind many of the petrified soldiers. She looked a little bruised and battered from a fierce fight, but was still petrifaction free. "All of you stop, it'll just turn you to stone like everypony else! All it needs to do is hit you with its breath!"
Radiant looked down at this mare. She was an earth pony, brown in color with a short blue mane. She was clad in heavy battle armor and wore a headband on her head. Radiant knew instantly this was a pony from the platoon they were supposed to meet up with. She flew down towards her.
"You said it uses its breath?" Radiant started, suddenly realizing the need to proceed more carefully.
"Yes!" the earth pony replied. "That's how it got everypony. Miraculously I'm the only one left!"
Just then, the beast let out a torrent of dark, putrid foggy breath that upon contact petrified three ponies from Radiant's unit instantly.
"No..." said Saber, rushing forward. "You beast!" she shouted. Her horn lit up, and from it arose her signature magic, a bright shining sword of light attached to her horn. She lowered her head and charged, ready to slice the beast with her sword. Jumping to dodge a second stream of breath from the monster, the unicorn then made her attack, cutting deep into the catoblepas' flank. It howled in pain and then snorted in anger.
Suddenly the beast began to rush madly ahead. It threw an earth pony from Radiant's unit high into the sky violently with its awesome might before letting out another blast of its fearsome stone breath. This time, two more ponies were left encased in rock.
"Come! Help us fight it before we lose anypony else!" Radiant told the brown mare.
"Right!" the pony shouted, at the ready. The two of them charged at the beast valiantly.
A couple unicorns from Radiant's unit began to fire projectile magic at the catoblepas, getting its attention. The beast clearly did not take these attacks well. It screeched and charged the unicorns, stopping to assault them with a punishing wave of its breath.
Radiant suddenly felt afraid. She recognized they were losing. It was her fault too. Her brashness had got the best of her again. Her anger at this beast, her desire to do good by her fellow soldiers, it had propelled her forward before the order was given and the others had followed her. Now they were all going to be petrified by this monster. She couldn't even bring herself to look at Lieutenant Saber, who continued to slash at the beast with her magic sword while avoiding its breath.
"What are you doing?" shouted the earth pony from the cataphract unit in a fearless voice. "Weren't we going to fight it?"
Radiant shook her head as she snapped back to her sense. None of that mattered right now. They had to keep fighting. They couldn't just give up. Saber was still fighting. Radiant could do the same. She flew down and began to pound at it with her spiked shoes. The earth pony likewise kicked at the beast again and again, while jumping every attack it tried to make. Amidst the assault from the two ponies, Saber prepared her next attack. She rushed with her sword held high, and leapt high for a massive downward slash. The catoblepas jerked just enough to the right of the attack that while it cut deep, it was not fatal. The monster then powerfully fought its way several steps back and unleashed a massive stream of breath in Radiant's direction.
"I won't let you touch another pony in my unit!" Saber shouted. before Radiant could react to anything, her lieutenant used her magic to throw Radiant fiercely backwards into a tree. This left the unicorn vulnerable though. The beast turned its heavy head toward Saber, the horrible breath finding the pony's skin. Saber was left encased in stone.
Radiant's eyes went wide. This just wasn't happening. Now it was just her, the earth pony mare, a wounded earth pony from her unit and another pegasus that had escaped the stone breath by staying a good distance back from the action. The catoblepas looked severely weakened, but it was still standing and still very dangerous. It roared again and stared at Radiant. Then it began to charge like an enraged bull, straight for her. Desperate, she flew up into the tree to avoid the charge. It began to fire its breath upwards at her. The tree branches withered upon contact with the toxins while she tried to go even higher to avoid her stony fate. Soon, she escaped the tree and took high to the sky, looking down at the beast as it struggled to keep its head held up.
Then something unexpected happened. A massive stone suddenly collided powerfully with the beast's side, right where Saber had cut it earlier. The catoblepas' legs buckled from the pain and it fell on its side. Seizing the opportunity, Radiant flew down rapidly, her spiked hooves held out. Bravely she swooped down and struck it right between the eyes. It howled madly then collapsed, the pain of its wounds forcing it into unconsciousness.
Radiant panted heavily as she landed on the ground. Was it over? The earth pony mare and the other pegasus approached her and the battered, immobile beast. It wasn't going to get back up. Radiant sighed in relief as she let herself calm down.
"Wow..." said the earth pony, galloping toward them. "Finally got him. That was some fight..."
"Just who threw that rock?" asked Radiant, looking around. The rock had clearly been thrown by unicorn magic, but there were no unicorns left un-petrified in either unit. Radiant kept scanning the horizon for somepony, then she saw her. She flew toward her. She couldn't believe it. it was the green-maned idiot unicorn from before. It was the one who had called herself Dazzle Dawn.
"You followed us?" asked the other pegasus. Radiant had never worked with this stallion before, but she was pretty sure his name was Bolt Driver.
"I'm sorry..." said Dazzle. "But I just really feel it is important I get to Fillydelphia." She smiled and trotted toward them. "I really have to do my part. I just had to follow you guys."
"You're really a crazy pony," said Radiant, shaking her head. "Something seriously wrong with you, coming out this far after us..."
"You know, she is the one who saved the day here. That was a pretty awesome blow she scored with that rock," said the earth pony mare, smiling. "You should lighten up."
"Idiocy is still idiocy regardless of the situation," said Radiant sternly.
"I wonder if you're qualified to speak on the matter of idiocy," said Driver in a barbed voice. Radiant was taken aback by the hostility. She however wasn't given a chance to react to it. Somepony else caught her attention.
"Poor guy..." suddenly Dazzle spoke. She trotted toward the catoblepas. "He's suffering..."
Radiant's eyes went wide. This pony really was crazy! "Hey? What do you mean by that? That stupid thing deserves all the suffering in the world for what it did..."
"But he'll die at this rate," said Dazzle in a sad voice.
"Good!" Radiant shouted. "Actually, why don't we just put the monster out of its misery now?"
"But look..." said Dazzle, pointing to the creature. Slowly the purple color dissipated, changing to a more natural dark brown. The redness of the eyes followed with it.
"So what?" shouted Radiant. "It still did this to my comrades!" She pointed to all the frozen ponies strewn about.
"Catoblepas is a creature that only eats plants. It keeps its head always pointed down so that it doesn't petrify others. It uses its breath only in self defense," said Dazzle giving a firm nod. "It wouldn't have done this on its own. It's all the purple stuff's fault."
"How do you know so much about the cato-whatever-it-is?" asked the earth pony, walking toward them, giving a shrug.
"My best friend Arc really, really loves unusual creatures from throughout the world," said Dazzle smiling and tilting her head. "She used to tell me all about them all the time."
"That's great!" Driver started, flying toward them. "Find your friend. She could tell us how to cure the petrification!"
"Okay," said Dazzle, smiling. She then frowned. "But I don't know where she is right now, so finding her might be hard..."
"What do you mean?" asked the earth pony.
"She disappeared," said Dazzle, shaking her head. "Actually, that's why I'm so desperate to get to Fillydelphia. I keep having scary nightmares about her and seeing her in weird places. I'm really getting worried."
"Oh? And why Fillydelphia?" asked Radiant, scrupulous.
"Somepony told me there was a really wise pony there who knew all sorts of unusual knowledge," said Dazzle cheerfully. "I'm not sure he'll know anything, but it's at least a place to start..."
"This is silly," said Radiant, giving a huff as the unicorn suddenly began to tend to the wounded beast.
"Hey, but what if this wise pony knows something about how to cure this petrification?" asked the earth pony in a cool voice.
"That's a good point," said Radiant, nodding. "And we were deployed to Fillydelphia in the first place..."
"Tell me you're not considering continuing with the orders?" Driver shouted, clearly fed up. "Our unit was destroyed. Our platoon leader has been lost. Clearly the thing to do is to return to Canterlot and find reinforcements!"
"And leave Fillydelphia undefended?" Radiant shouted. "They need us!"
"There are an ordinary civilian and four soldiers here, one wounded. We're not worth anything to an entire city!" Driver retorted bitterly. "If you actually stopped to think, maybe you'd see that."
"Just what is your problem with me?" Radiant shouted, angry. "I don't even know you!"
"That you even have to ask proves how thick you are," Driver snarled. "This whole incident is all your fault. You acted without orders and got our platoon wiped out. It was a mistake for Lieutenant Saber to ever accept you into our ranks!"
"You-!" Radiant fumed, about ready to strike at the other pegasus. "I didn't even see you attack once in the fight just now once! You just hovered about, watching everypony else risk their lives!"
"I was waiting for an opening! I actually think about what I'm doing, unlike a certain pony who wouldn't have even been accepted into the REA if her father wasn't the Major!" Driver continued to argue.
Radiant finally exploded. Maybe it really was all her fault. At least some of it surely was. She could admit that much. That didn't mean she had to take all this from this guy. No. This coward didn't deserve to speak to her like this. She gave a low growl and prepared her hooves for a collision course with the other pegasus' face.
"Stop fighting!" Dazzle suddenly raised her voice. "It's just not nice." The unicorn's horn lit up and her magic began to hold Radiant back.
"This filly's right," said the earth mare, trotting between the two pegasi unafraid of getting caught in the middle of their argument. "You guys were a little reckless in your charge, but as you can see my unit didn't fare much better... and we had more time to plan..."
Radiant struggled and growled, not caring, She just wanted to hit the other pegasus in the face for what he had said. Nothing else mattered in her state of ire.
"Umm," said Dazzle in a quiet voice as she stepped toward the male pegasus. "Maybe we can split up? You can take the injured pony back to Canterlot and ask for your reinforcements while the rest of us continue to Fillydelphia."
"Not bad," said the earth pony, nodding in accordance. "You'd make a fine soldier with that kind of thinking."
"I could never do something that calls for so much violence," said Dazzle shaking her head firmly. "But thanks!"
"Fine with me," said Driver laughing. "I'd actually love to give the report of what happened here personally." The male pegasus glared at Radiant as he said this.
"You little-!" Radiant started, fuming.
"Cool it," said the earth pony. "it's already decided. Arguing now is just a waste of energy.."
Radiant gave a sigh and cooled down. This pony was right. There was no point continuing this. Not in a situation like this.
"Fine!" said Radiant, giving a huff, hardly in a good mood.
"Let's go then!" said the earth pony. "The name is Rally, by the way!"
"Ooh! I'm Dazzle Dawn!" Dazzle called excitedly. "I just love making new friends."
Radiant shook her head. This unicorn was going to be a constant annoyance. She could already tell.
A/N: Heh. Here we get things moving along a little more. Mostly just set up for the coming adventure. It actually took a lot more effort getting Dazzle and Radiant to travel together than I thought it would. About the catoblepas. I was kind of unsure about what kind of legendary monster to use there. I wanted something that used petrification, since I want to leave killing in this story to a bare minimum. A basilisk was the first thing that came to mind, but I inevitably decided this was kind of silly. Both it and gorgons petrify by sight. It just didn't seem like so many ponies would all fall for a sight based attack one after the other. I then remembered a massive armored bull/boar beast from the Castlevania games that used a breath based petrification. After further researching catoblepas, I figured it'd work and went with it. Besides that not a lot else to say about this chapter. It was pretty much just a further introduction to our key characters Radiant and Dazzle. Thanks again to MyLittlePonyTales and Armony for the uniconrs in the opening scene. Thanks to Bronies for Life for Aqua Marine and tanks to Ginger Mint for Rally.