The Vanishing Star
Edited by Knotwist
Note: to readers.
(-) with italics mean Van/Fade's evil thoughts
(+) with italics mean Van/Fade's good thoughts
Regular italics just mean thoughts
Remember the time you tried ice cream for the first time? I do, I even remembered the flavor my dad gave me. It was hot outside during a family picnic. It was a lemon-vanilla mix, it was sweet and sour at the same time. The taste was so damn good that I inhaled it. It was so good that it was the only flavor I would ever want because of the taste. Sure there were other flavors that would grace my attention but you would always remember the first. If you had a taste of that lemon-vanilla ice cream you would be begging for more.
That is what this new power felt like. After I exploded with a burst of energy it felt like my magic wanted to feed on something or somepony. It did not care as long as I provided something that I wanted to die or at least absorb. It all felt so weird to me, the last thing I remembered was... Well I was in a crater with changelings surrounding me. At least I thought they were changelings. The scary little buggers that almost ruined my brother's wedding.
I gained my memories back. I felt lost without them. Problem was I also gained other memories. Ones that do not belong to me I was sure. Sure I glimpsed into them but suddenly I was riding on the memories of a merchant named Rolex, a young mother named Joy Bringer, a newly retired soldier named Buzz Cut, a child named Tyke, there were about twelve or more ponies I could list off. I could see into their memories: their first day of school, their first love, their pin numbers, everything! And... I don't like it. They... they do not belong to little shrieking creatures were black and had an insect like appearance mixed with a pony. These ones were almost twice their size along with not having any fur. Just a fleshy appearance, red muscles to hold their structures together. Almost sickening to actually see another pony with no skin let alone a changeling. You heard the stories of these things right? Creatures that impersonate loved ones so they can drain the 'love' from ponies. Only that these ones seem to be taking more than the feeling of love, they wanted my thoughts and memories. If I had to compare the two types, I say this one had an advantage in wars. To forget the happiest times in my life before some overgrown bug kills me? Hell no. My fury guided my power, my power flowed through my body and my aura summoned strange tentacles. And within seconds the changelings that surrounded me were drained of energy. Or life. Or pretty much everything as they vaporized at my hooves.
I walked away from the crater to look at the damage. It was severe, there were overturned carts, smashed property, broken tiles, busted walls. The horror of seeing dried up bodies lie there motionless was too great, even for me. They were dead or if not trying to hold on to dear life. There I saw another young pony trot out of the alleyway to find who I assume was her mother and looked over her. She let out an upsetting cry that even pierced my guilty raging soul. I will never forget that as she tried to poke her mother awake over and over again.
"MOMMY!" The unicorn filly cried. "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!"
Sad thing was... I felt like I met this filly before but thanks to the pony named Merry Weather, I was just riding on her memories of how much this filly meant to her. How much I could imagine myself in the place of that filly finding one of my loved ones as an empty husk. No. I did not want to imagine that.
I slowly trotted over to the filly who kept nudging her mother's corpse. The guilty feeling was eating away at me, like a tight knot in my stomach. I was scared to even say anything to her. With my luck something stupid would come out of my mouth.
"FREEZE!" I heard the multiple clicks of automatic rifles nearby, some of them had magic ready to cast as well. Soon I found myself facing down about six or seven ponies dressed in military apparel. Not like any guard I seen but in the familiarity of the Black Suns. Black latex, red lining all over along with special helmets. One soldier did not wear a helmet but had on the red beret. From what I can see she was a strong looking mare with light brown fur and had a short blonde mane. Cute if I do not say so myself.
"Okay. Maybe it was not a good time to observe if you know what I mean."
"Come here honey." The beret mare gently waved the filly to her side.
The filly looked at me still heaving over the loss of her mother. There was only one thing I could say but a lot more I should say. Only grunts and growls could escape my mouth but I think she knew I was trying to apologize and not mean any harm to her. I gently nudged my head to the beret pony's direction to show that I was still a kind pony. At least what I could still show. This red aura was certainly not helping my case. The filly finally waddled over to the ponies who took her into safe custody or at least I hoped it was safe. Safe and far from here.
I tried to speak up but instead was yelled at to surrender. "Well that didn't do any good now did it?" I was ordered to lie down on the ground with my hooves out so they could chain them. Only that something was bugging the crap out of me. My eyes were aching again. I was ordered to get down again, but my body disagreed. No. I disagreed. Just something about those changelings I absorbed did something else to me. Like my body was telling me I could get out of this. Or was that my cocky side?
Probably around the tenth shout for me to surrender was when my body made it's move. Slapped the weapons out of their hooves and magic with these strange magic tentacles. Cue for the soldiers to suddenly either pull out their secondary weapon or try to put me down with their CQC maneuvers. Only that it did not happen, they tried but my body countered everything they threw at me.
"NO!" I growled back at the voice in my head.
"I SAID NO!" I shouted back. "Amazing," I thought, "This thing, this voice in my head, was pressuring me into doing horrible deeds. It wanted blood and to devour the hearts of the unruly." At this point I was pounding on my own head trying to silence the voice, while the soldiers tried to gather their weapons back. I clearly was not going to surrender. You know it. I know it. By now you probably already skimmed ahead wondering if this was going to finally cut to the chase. No, just hunker down and it will get there. Eventually...
Guns were blazing and with my new power I was dodging with great speed and... Ran. There was no point in talking with these Black Sun soldiers if they were going to keep shooting at me. Leap after bounding leap it felt like I was Spider-mane jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Just as soon as I escaped the sight of a Black Sun soldiers a changeling would pop up and try to attack me. I have no idea where these buggers came from but I was in no mood to figure it out. My aura did most of the work slashing and slapping unwanted predators away while I galloped from one rooftop to the next.
"THERE HE IS!" A soldier shouted.
"SET YOUR WEAPONS TO STUN!" Another soldier commanded the other troops to open fire. "WE HAVE OUR ORDERS TO TAKE HIM IN ALIVE!"
"WHY THE HELL ARE THE HUNTERS TRYING TO ATTACK CIVILIANS?"
"THE LINK MUST BE BLOCKED OR SOMETHING! TRY TO STUN THEM AS WELL!"
"GREAT! JUST GREAT! AS IF A GIANT DRAGON IS NOT ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT!"
Who ordered me to be brought in alive? Just moments ago they were firing real lead and harmful magic my way. I could jump anywhere in this city and everypony could see me. I could even duck into alley ways but the changelings or Hunters as the soldiers call them would have me there too. Decisions, decisions. By now you are probably wondering where that dragon thing was.
Well it is not hard to miss. A half finished piece of machinery flying around in the sky sending out a terrible shriek that could horrify the mightiest of soldiers. With a mighty flap of its wings I could figure it was strong as a hurricane. More screams emitted into the air with the sounds of heavy objects crashed into property. That giant mechanical nightmare opened it's wide jaw to let out another blood curdling roar as it finally made its descent. The ground shook as if an actual earthquake was occurring. Ponies ran for their lives as guards tried to control the situation by providing themselves as a distraction. Firing magic spells to keep the dragon's attention to them and not the civilians. Only for that plan to end fruitlessly.
The dragon raised its half-metal covered claw and with one swoop it slapped away a good chunk of the distraction team. Along with pavement getting carved out of the ground as a result, the dragon let out another nasty metal roar.
Man... Who knew a trip back home would be such a hassle? I sure didn't. We went from meeting my little sister again to learning that there was an alternative motive behind why my childhood was so messed up. To finding out that the Sparkle clan is one of the richest, most powerful family in all of Equestria, to a big fucking metal dragon blowing shit up. I can not tell you where my life was originally going, but I can assure you it was not going to be all hugs and forgiveness.
"You just had to follow that pony didn't you Fade? Now you have a gaping hole in your chest and the power of an ancient demon to show for it."
Hold that thought for a second...
Another group of Hunter-changelings tried to pounce onto the fiery stallion. Only to be impaled by a number of sharp magical tentacles and their innards absorbed into the wounded pony. He held his head tightly and let out a dreadful scream as another slew of unknowing memories spilled into his brain.
The more I absorbed, the more power I could feel from those Hunters but the tradeoff from their absorptions just kept piling up. At this rate, I am going to be having other ponies memories invade my own entirely. Might even go crazy and barely remember which ones are mine. Yet... My power or whatever it was, kept telling me to just kill more.
A lone Hunter-changeling slithered its way behind the fiery pony. It's maw filled with jagged teeth and a tongue that moved much like a whip to intimidate its prey. Unfortunately, Fade, Van, or whatever you want to call him, was not impressed. He laid his blood colored eyes onto the modified changeling. Neither of them were going to back down.
Around the same time inside the royal chambers, The Princess of the Sun was having a stern talking to a few of her nicely dressed advisers over the new threats in her kingdom. The one pony who stood out was a green female unicorn dressed in a fine black suit.
"The Black Suns are deployed to handle the situation your highness." The suited unicorn answered.
The princess was none too pleased with the situation, regardless of whether the force she allowed was doing a good job or not. "I want the citizens of Canterlot relocated to the safe haven under the castle. Shades, I want your forces to collaborate with my royal guards in making sure of this. You have permission to fight the dragon if it gets too close to the castle."
"Understood your highness." Shades nodded. The green pony then trotted out of the throne room to deliver the updated news from the princess.
A sudden shake erupted from the ground under their hooves. Then another metallic roar pierced the air.
"I want updates on this creature ponies!" Celestia ordered. "What do we know so far?"
A male middle-aged earth pony dressed in a high-ranking guard uniform stepped up. "Your highness the creature is in the shape of a dragon but seems to be encased in some form of armor we can't seem to dent with our weapons or magic."
Suddenly Shades trotted back into the throne room with urgency. "Your highness! Your highness!"
"Yes Miss Shades?" Princess Celestia sternly looked at the heaving pony.
"We have reports of a new type of changeling running rampant in the streets!" Shades informed the princess with haste. "There are already over one hundred injured and around fifteen dead, not counting our own forces."
"Great Faust." Celestia gasped. "The dragon might have been a diversion?"
"Or part of the changeling forces somehow?" The middle aged guard pony asked. "It might be the lead in for an attack."
Celestia wandered to a nearby window overlooking the city below. The once peaceful and clean city of Canterlot was thrown into anarchy and despair. Smoke steadily rose to the air in different districts throughout the city. All of her hard work, again no match for the force of nature. Celestia eyed the creature soaring through the sky declaring its dominance or simply marking its territory. Its head steadily lifted as its jaws opened widely. Celestia's eyes widened as the creature not only could breath fire as any normal dragon but instead released a steady beam of red energy onto the earth below. Upon impact it released a deadly explosion that rattled the grounds that could be felt for miles. The triumphant roar it produced could be even heard all the way down at Ponyville.
"Put the neighboring cities on red alert." With a flick of her neck she eyed her subjects. "I want this thing dealt with."
"And the ponies in the nearby cities over yonder?" The middle aged guard trotted over to the princess as his armor clanked with each step he took.
"Tell them to take safety in their town's bomb shelter, if they do not own one then to their cellars." The princess narrowed her eyes as she turned her attention back to the dragon. "The power from that blast felt like a bomb going off." And a large smoking crater to prove that. Concrete, tile and debris just all over. The nearby buildings were demolished if not already vaporized from the blast.
"Pardon me princess!" A familiar southern voice called from the doorway. There stood Twilight Sparkle's friend; Applejack along with the others Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy.
"My little ponies," Celestia asked. "Where's Twilight?
The remaining elements looked at each other in worry knowing they should have persuaded their friend to not leave if they knew a dragon would be flying around outside. Applejack decided to break the news and stepped forward toward the princess.
"Your majesty. Twilight told us to head here and inform ya that she went somewhere." Applejack mustered the courage to speak. During a crisis or not, in front of royalty there still needs to be some formality.
The princess froze. "Why?"
"Um. It's a long story." Dash frowned. "But this was before the giant flying Mecha-Godzilla knock off outside started attacking Canterlot."
"It actually started with miss Swan running up to us and saying Fade Away has been missing since this morning." Rarity joined in the explanation. "Gen... Ghen... Ghen what's his face then told us and Twilight to go to the castle and inform you that Fade Away was missing and to form a search party."
"And then Twilight told us the same thing but ran somewhere else too!" Pinkie bounced up and down.
"So where is mister Fade Away's family?" Celestia asked.
"Well miss Swan and little Synn are in their rooms, no idea where Big Tex and Betsy are." Applejack confessed.
"I Think Swan mentioned something about Tex going back to his workplace because something came up." Dash brought up while still flapping her wings to hover above the fine tile floor. "Not sure if he took his wife too."
"Hopefully president Tex's train left the station before the attack." Celestia added. "If not hopefully he and his wife found a patrolling guard that knows the procedures for the castle's bunker."
"Excuse me yur majesty but..." Applejack interrupted. "I had no idea that Canterlot had a panic room for this sort of thing."
"Indeed we do my little pony." Celestia nodded. "Depending on the sections of Canterlot that is. Evacuation would be the more subtle approach but for ponies stuck and unsure of where to go then there is a shelter underneath the castle." The princess frowned. "I suggest all of you head down there with your siblings and wait down there."
"But Twilight is still out there!" Dash raised her fore legs in disbelief.
"Do not fret my ponies." Celestia said sternly. "I taught Twilight the safety precautions if there was ever an event such as this. She knows the underground routes around Canterlot. I have guards stationed underground as well."
The rest of the mane six just blinked.
"Well ya learn something new everyday." Applejack frowned.
"But we still should look for her!" Dash exclaimed.
With an earth shattering shake that rattled the throne room,the princess along with the rest of the mane six suddenly jolted back to the window overlooking Canterlot. The creature somehow fired off another one of its death beam's onto the town bizarre. Bits and pieces of pavement and bricks lay scattered around the ground next to the creature's mighty clawed feet. With a mighty swing of its metal tail the once most famous museum of all Equestria was demolished. Within an instant a number of Black Sun soldiers open fired with their weaponry and own magic to keep the creature distracted. While their tactics were top notch and weaponry were high-tech, it barely made a dent in the creature's armor.
Everything about this dragon was horrifying. Its massive size sent ponies running. Its roar struck fear into their souls. Its death beam showed that at the end of the day, Canterlot might only be a hole in the mountainside and only a memory for future generations. Celestia felt a tight knot in her stomach. She has been through dangers like this before. Countless over the centuries. Some where she questioned herself if she was in anyway as great as a leader as every pony thought she was. How much they cheered for her, loved her, feared her, willing to do anything to please her. Not a day goes by where she thinks about stepping down.
Only thing that roped her back into the leadership role was the ponies who were stubborn to accept change right away. Last time that happened it costed her a queen and a king. She lost many students, friends and guards over the years from old age, accidents and even wars. No matter how hard she tried the pain of living for more than a millennium was always the same. Like a broken record history repeated itself of oncoming dangers that threatened the balance of Equestria time after time. Every century she would look for a suitable pony that could take her place so she could free herself from her cage. Just to live free as a bird without anymore guilt. No more papers to sign. No more meetings. No more suffering. No more judging. And simply no more prying eyes from the main family. Yet guilt and the hopeful eyes of the ponies keep her back into the throne.
That's what she would tell anypony who would ask. Not entirely the truth though.
"My little ponies?" Celestia asked, not taking her stern gaze away from the creature who leveled her dear city. "I think it's time to retrieve the Elements of Harmony."
"You mean?" Rarity asked.
Celestia nodded. Yet Rainbow Dash butted in, "Ah yeah! Time to kick dragon flank!" She paused while still flapping in the air. "Or robot, whatever that thing is."
"I dunno." Applejack pressed her hooves against the window. "Magic really is not doing a lot of good out there."
"I know it seems that your chances are nil but remember that the power of friendship overcomes everything." Celestia assured the friends. "I have faith in all of you."
"But Tw-Twilight isn't here." Fluttershy managed to speak up still frightened by the shrieking roar outside.
"Still let me get your elements from the safe." Celestia turned her larger body to head towards the vault where the elements rest. "I will send a search party for Twilight and Mr. Fade Away right away after this. I can't risk you five let alone Twilight getting killed out there."
"You think the ice cream stands are still open?" Pinkie asked. All eyes fell onto the pink party pony in a negative expression. "What?"
Meanwhile Twilight Sparkle along with her family were in a crisis of their own. Forced to leave her childhood home with her family and relatives as they fled down one of the many streets of the business district. Along the way they came across guards that were willing to take them to safety, unfortunately a few had to stay behind to hold off the changelings. She knew this was a perfect time to use one of the many underground emergency routes Celestia had showed her many times incase the castle was ever under attack. It could be used both ways to enter the castle in secret as well. Only Celestia's guard along with staff knew about these safety ways.
"Oh great. We're at a dead end." Twilight's uncle Gemini growled.
"No we're not." Twilight examined the dead end. It was brick wall on the outside and belonged to an old vegetarian deli market that went out of business years ago. No pony ever bought it to give it another jump start and became property of the bank. The purple unicorn tapped and tapped on the brick wall many times.
"Oh darn it come on!" Twilight groaned trying to remember the procedure to open the passageway. With another quick examination she took a step back. Her eyes quickly beamed to a rather newish looking lamplight. Or at least, one that seemed out of place considering everything else in the alleyway was dirty with a few rats running around.
"EEP!" Velvet shrieked.
"Mom! I think rats are the least of our worries!" Twilight engulfed the hanging lamp post with her magic to turn it at different angles. "Which one is the correct way?"
"It's to a seventy degree angle with the tail end and you'll hear a click." One guard spoke up.
"Oh thanks." Twilight smirked and then heard a loud click.
"Good job Twilight." Orion smiled. Within an instant the wall started to shake like it was ready to crumble. The wall slid back then moved to the right to reveal a long staircase.
"Come on everypony! This way we can get to the castle faster without running into any changelings!" The lavender pony waved.
"Those don't sound like guns." Aries tried to adjust his sight into the darkness below hoping to see better. The clicking started to sound faster and closer by the second.
*CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK*
"Sounds like there are more than a few down there." Twilight's uncle Aries observed.
"No." Twilight's eyes widened with horror. The clicking sound became more rampant as it got closer to the stairwell.
"TWILIGHT GET BACK FROM THE STAIRS!" Aries tried to pull the purple unicorn away.
But it was too late. Within a split second the clicks were still coming and out from the darkness a deformed changeling head poked out. It tongue whipping around in the air to use for intimidation. Many dark glowing eyes shot open from the black void with the rest hissing like snakes. Within an instant. The first changeling that exposed itself leaped from the abyss.
"TWILIGHT!" Orion wasted no time letting his father instincts by leaping in front of his daughter. To embrace protecting what he truly valued even if he was terrible at being it. The changeling slammed the blue unicorn into the pavement with his shoulders pinned. Twilight barely got out of the way in time and also fell to the ground. Hoping some pony nearby would help her father within a split second, suddenly two, three, four more changelings pounced onto two more of Twilight's family members. Orion fiercely kicked and kicked to get the skinless beast from off top of him. But it did no good for how surprisingly strong it was, he turned his head to see his daughter trying to rise to her hooves, "RUN TWILIGHT! TAKE EVERYPONY TO THE CASTLE AND RUN!"
"NO HONEY WE CAN'T LEAVE YOU!" Velvet shrieked as she tried to find something suitable to hit the changeling with. A rusted pipe jutting out of the brick wall going downward caught her attention and with a quick twerk, she snapped it off. The dull white unicorn galloped to her spouse's rescue.
"GET OFF OF HIM!" Velvet hollered as she whacked the changeling across the face with the rusted pipe. Again and again she wailed on the creature as she screamed. The changeling just shook its head in retaliation and hissed at the unicorn.
"JUST GO!" Orion grunted.
"HURRY!" Aries struggled to get another changeling off of him as well.
"NO!" Twilight screamed in response. For no matter how much her father missed out on her life and been unsettling when she was younger. He was still her father that truly cared to protect what he cared about. His pride, at least what was left of it. Twilight herself tried to use magic spells to blast off the creatures but they only got right back up.
"TWILIGHT QUIT SHITTING AROUND AND GO!" No matter how disgusted he was with himself for his past actions. He was still proud that he had something to do with her. Her creation. How much he and his wife struggled through the years just to create a child that can live. Not to be born as a stillborn or die in the womb.
The lavender unicorn froze in place. The changelings pounced on more of her family and guards pinning them either to the ground or pushing them up against the wall. All those years ago of staying in royal custody was torment on her not being able to see her own parents until a certain age. To remember their faces only through pictures, most likely one of the many reasons Twilight was so picked on during her grade school years. Being the daughter of the parents who lost their son because of a dumb squabble. Not only that, she lost another mother and father who were only trying to protect her from a giant beast that threatened Canterlot so long ago. Those nights still haunted her. No matter how much she tried to forget, she could never let the memory of Hinata go... Twilight's eyes teared up as she quickly shut them.
"NOOOOOOOOO!" The lavender unicorn opened her eyes. Only this time her violet eyes were lost in the void of blinding light. Her violet aura quickly surrounded her as her body twitched again and again. Almost like her own power was trying to burst out of her body. Her form gently levitated up into the air. All she saw was a white, blinding light...
*BAM, BAM, BAM*
Fade dropped his disguise spell back into his original form. A blue unicorn with messy dark hair that flowed with the blood red aura, and he was in the monstrous state of mind stood victorious over the former threatening creatures that challenged him. Either they lay lifeless and ready to be absorbed or ripped in half. Guts and blood splattered all over the roof where he stood as the blood started to ooze into the corners and pour down the siding. What was once known as a proud family's house, now violated with blood splatter and giant holes in the walls.
One after another, hunter-changelings would try to run off and find easier prey. Sometimes they were successful and scurry off before Van could catch up to it. Only to anger Van further and toughen up his assault and defense in fighting the ones that decided to stay and fight. Same results. Changeling's head bashed into the wall or pavement. One tentacle wraps around the changeling's neck and other the hind leg, pull and ripped apart like tissue paper. Decapitated, disemboweled, stabbed, curb stomped, ripped apart, punched to death, impaled. Fade or Van... He did it all.
The tentacles would then hover over the bodies and absorb whatever was left of their bodies. Another dozen memories hurled themselves into their new prison. Ponies of all shapes and sizes that fell victim to the new breed of changelings and their most cherished moments playing in Fade's head. Five, ten, fifteen, thirty... Van lost count... Yet the voice inside was still not satisfied.
-More... Give me more...
Van tried to fight it and resorted to yelling in a blood curdle scream, "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!"
-What you always wanted. Your desires to avenge your younger self...
"THAT'S RIDICULOUS!" Van knelt down.
-No it's not. It all makes sense. Do not lie. You imagined those things as your tormentors. Your biological father, your brother, the ponies that did not even lift a hoof to stop it, ponies that kept putting you back into that broken home... Hell even your twin Von... He was always better than you and society showed it. And what did you get? You had to prove yourself and run away to teach them a lesson that you can be better than them.
"SHUT THE HELL UP! THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Van covered his head with his hooves. Trying to make the voice go away.
-Not only that. The more you found out the more the story unraveled why your father did what he did and what the family went through. For money, for fame, for respect from a group of ponies that hide behind masks. And for what? They hold a ceremony every year to see which of the smaller families made the most progress. They sit there watching the smaller families tear each other apart just to have the spotlight on them for their achievements. Face it... You are apart of a dynasty that approves of families killing, cheating, lying, stealing from each other to get what they want. While the main family sits on top with all the money.
"Stop..." Van moaned. "I left a long time ago! I do not want to have any part of them anymore!"
-Yet you were willing to show one of your prized inventions to them. Face it. They are the ones really pulling the strings in Equestria. They only keep Celestia up there because she is so respected with the ponies. She never really had the power we all thought she did. Do you honestly think ponies would accept the idea of a group of ponies dressed up like a cult making the bigger decisions for all of Equestria? Probably not, yet Celestia allowed to turn a blind eye to your suffering. Not only yours but the shit that the main family pulled. She never looked into the case personally, if she had any power she would have thrown your father in jail no question. Not keep placing you back into that home while Von lives it up!
Van kept heaving to ease his mind. Yet the voice continued.
-Meanwhile Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle lived the good life despite making your childhood complicated as hell. And what do they get? Leadership position, a royal title, a kingdom, a princess for a wife, an ancient artifact that makes them a hero. And you? You worked your ass off to get where you are today. And it only took you to leave them. Those shallow siblings of yours.
"They worked hard too! I'm sure of it." Van grunted.
-Did they? With the Sparkle clan at the steering wheel they could have pushed those two into those high positions. Family in businesses and the military give their relatives a push all the time. Does not matter if soldier A does better than soldier B, if soldier B has family in higher ranks then he's going to be promoted faster. Sure it raises a stink eye but they don't care. Those guards Celestia has are no better than rent-a-cops. Why do you think that other factions are formed in protecting Equestria instead? As for your sister... You keep hearing that she's Celestia's protege yet her magic skills are pretty basic, no different from what is on the Lucrecia program for beginner unicorns. If she was truly as talented as every pony builds her up to be then this mess would have been cleaned up by now.
"She worked hard." Van sniffed. "She wouldn't be where she is today if she was not talented!"
-Only thing going for her is unlimited learning from the most expensive care. She might wield the element of magic sure, but what's stopping any other powerful pony from wielding it? Hell, you're good at magic too. What's stopping you? Don't even try to defend your brother, he punched you in the head by just talking with his wife.
"Just please stop!" Van slammed his head into the ground. "Just stop!"
-Nothing changed. Every pony is just as miserable before you left. And now you're defending them? You were the one that wanted nothing to do with them and wanted to leave for a second time. Admit it. You still hate them for all they done. Your brother was coked out of his mind and ended up on the end of his drug rage. Your father has a bad day and you end up on the end of his abuse. Your mother is sexually repressed and she starts giving you attention, that's why you're such a pervert. Your sister uses you to her advantage to get what she wants. Your relatives do not even try to intervene until you land in the hospital.
"Stop..." Van started to cry. "Just stop."
-Yet the only pony that took pity on you was dear old grandma. The only one that gave you shelter from all the harsh crap that went on in your childhood home. Yet you ran away from your sanctuary as well to go live a peaceful life with two strangers. Tex didn't even want you while Betsy did. Why else would he call up your grandma? So she can take you back and the main family just throw you back into that broken home? Even if you did go back home then they would look like kidnappers and your grandmother would have gotten into trouble somewhat too! You were always a little monster. No pony wanted to deal with you unless strings were pulled. So I own you!
Vanishing Star had enough. Crying was not going to do anything. This repressed side of him was too strong and was not going to let up. Over to the far side of the roof lay a combat rifle next to an unfortunate dead Black Sun soldier. Van sighed as he looked at the body. He could salvage the memory or what was left by absorbing the dead soldier, or what was left of him. But figured he did not deserve the same fate as the changelings. They were the real monsters here. He eyed the rifle again and picked it up. Pulled the clip out to find still half a magazine worth of bullets in there.
-Feel like shooting now?
Van slid the magazine back into the slot and pulled back on the slide to load the next bullet into the chamber. Apparently the gun jammed from the soldier's fight earlier and must have been his downfall. Still it would not do any good to mourn now for him. The blue unicorn let out a huge sigh then sat on his plot. He positioned the butt of the gun onto the hard surface and aimed towards his own head. Mouth open wide to slip the barrel inside.
-What are you doing? You still have a job to do!
He used his lower leg to find good leverage so the trigger can be used.
"I don't want to be a slave to my own demons." Van thought to himself as his eyes watered. He said a little prayer in his mind and remembered all the good times in his life. From past birthdays to competitions, all the kids and grownups that he met during his stride, to love and happiness. This was the side he wished he spent more time remembering. Yet once his sister walked back into his life, it was nothing but negative thoughts and regret. Regret for coming back and finding out the rabbit hole went deeper.
His eyes slid up a little to see the destruction of his birthplace. Everything was either in shambles or on fire. Yet that dragon proudly flew over the town. Proud of its accomplishment like any dragon would. It roared, it breathed fire, it trampled its new territory to further accommodate itself. The screams and cries of the ponies, the moans and blood curdling yells of the soldiers trying to help. It seemed it was for nothing.
Van then lowered his gaze back down onto the rifle barrel shoved into his mouth. His hind leg twitching near the trigger ready to pull it. He fished his hoof inside of his shirt pocket to realize he still had his medal from the ceremony earlier in the week. Sometimes Van asked himself if he truly deserved this high honor. Many would say that he did. He invented things that helped the lives of all ponies everywhere in the world. What they did not know is that they were copied or at least reworked into a new idea. Van never felt like he deserved it. Never wanted to be in the spotlight, never to get the credit himself, never to cheat anypony else out of their due.
Ponies loved Fade Away... They forgot about Vanishing Star... Only a handful knew they were the same pony. One was on the rise of glory, the other was forgotten and many thought was dead. One was loved, the other scorned.
He looked at the medal one last time and it read...
-The Equestria High Appreciation Achievement Award-
-Present to Fade Away, Vice president of Big Tech-
-In appreciation for outstanding, dedicated and inspirational service to the ponies of Equestria-
-From the Royal Academic Association-
Van turned the medal over to see something tapped to the back of it. A rather crude circular shaped scrap of paper with a weak piece of yarn string. It was colored sloppily with yellow crayon to look like it was a gold medal too. He peeled it off with his free hoof and read it.
-To the best teacher, inventor and pony in the world. For teaching my brother and me to go forward. Luv Synn-
Van slowly took the barrel out of his mouth and let it fall by itself onto the hard surface. The tears continued to roll down his cheeks while his breathing grew more erratic. How selfish he felt for even garnering the idea of ending it right then and there.
+ Hey Van...? What did you say to the old man? It's not how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit...And keep moving forward...How much you can take and keep moving forward...
To be continued...
Note: if anyone has to ask, this takes place before Discord gets redeemed because of obvious reasons.