Hands

A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfiction

By Andrew J. Talon

DISCLAIMER: This is a non-profit fanbased work of prose. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the property of Hasbro, and the reinvention of the lovely Lauren Faust. No copyright infringement is intended, please support the official release.


I entered Smokestack's shop with the caution of one who has nearly met his end at the hooves of the Cutie Mark Crusaders more than once. I peered in through the door, opened just enough to let me see inside. Looking around carefully, I saw no mane nor tail of the three Horses of the Apocalypse.

"Ah, you're here," Smokestack said, reading through a newspaper while smoke puffed from his pipe. He looked over the headlines at me as I walked inside. "Armor fit okay?"

"Uh, yeah," I said. Fluttershy trotted in behind me with a smile of her own. "I just wanted to thank you and-"

"And ask when in tarnation I got your measurements?" Smokestack asked. "Miss Rarity." He grinned. "That pony don't miss a beat, especially when it comes to figuring out your proportions."

I wasn't sure if there was innuendo or not in Smokestack's suggestion, but given Fluttershy didn't break out into a blush I decided to go with the interpretation there wasn't. Besides, I didn't want to consider the idea that Rarity would break Spike's heart. Not her.

"Well, thanks," I said. "I'm going to go thank her too-"

"Before you do," Smokestack said, moving out from behind his counter and heading to a work bench, "got another surprise for you."

"A helmet?" Fluttershy suggested.

"Nah, haven't finished it yet," Smokestack said, "though with his head he'd be fine without."

Fluttershy giggled, and then gave me an apologetic look as I scowled. I sighed.

"Beat up on the Human day? Didn't know that was a holiday around here."

"Ain't a holiday if it's every day," Smokestack said wryly. I winced. It was like I was wearing a bull's eye.

"Ah! Here we go," Smokestack said, trotting back up to me with a wrapped package in between his teeth. He lifted it up to me, and I took it in my hands. "Open it."

I did so, and blinked. "Woah..."

It was a sword wrapped in a scabbard made of what looked like leather (but was probably a faux version of it-It'd be a bit like that human skin lamp in Silence of the Lambs). I pulled it out and examined it. It was short, only about two and a half feet long, and shaped like a Roman gladius.

"Your little dinky knife isn't much good," Smokestack said, "so I made you a bigger knife."

"Well, thanks!" I said with a smile, resheathing it. I tied it off to my belt, still grinning. Smokestack snorted, and looked over at Fluttershy.

"Keep an eye on him though. He gets into enough trouble with things that ain't sharp and you and Miss Sparkle are too young to be widows."

Fluttershy blushed bright red, and I was the same way. "Wh-What are you talking about?" Fluttershy laughed nervously. "We don't-That is-!"

"It's not like that!" I insisted, holding my hands up. Smokestack huffed.

"Whatever. Just don't get killed, I don't like having to make handles for coffins," he said, trotting off.

Fluttershy and I looked at each other, before we departed the shop. The door shut behind us, and Fluttershy sighed.

"How... How many ponies do you think know about... Um... Our situation?" Fluttershy asked.

If there was one thing this world had in abundance over my own, it was dramatic irony. The Mayor and Mr. and Mrs. Cake trotted by, the former giving us a smile.

"Don't worry, Shepard and Fluttershy! We support you!" She said with a friendly and knowing wink that sent a shudder down my spine.

"We uh, have to stick together after all, heheh," Mr. Cake said with a little grin as Mrs. Cake giggled. They trotted off together, and we stared after them.

Fluttershy's face was glowing in her blush. "Um... Er... Ah... Oh my..."

I twitched. "... Let's go back to the library."

"But aren't we going to thank Rarity-"

"I'll send her a card let's just get back to the library."


Disturbing revelations aside, Fluttershy and I made it back to the library just as the sun was getting low in the sky. But when we walked in through the library doors, we were surprised to see that Twilight and Spike were already back. Both of them were poring through books, Twilight perusing them rapidly and then setting them aside and Spike flipping through them and tossing them when he was done.

"Hey Twilight, hey Spike," I said. Twilight and Spike looked up. My marefriend smiled at me... And her smile held, though a bit uncertainly, as she saw Fluttershy.

"Oh, hi Andrew, hi Fluttershy," she said. Fluttershy smiled back, but there was a definite tension in it.

"Hello Spike, Twilight..."

I looked between the two mares I deeply cared for, maybe even loved, and mentally sighed.

"So, what's up?" I asked Twilight. I looked to Spike, who was rolling his eyes at our tension. "Enjoy yourselves?"

"It was all right," Spike said. "We're just looking for information about, ya know, dragons." He turned his eyes back to the book, quickly reading through it before tossing it with a scowl.

"Yes. Spike is a bit interested in his origins," Twilight said. Spike shot Twilight a look, and Fluttershy coughed.

"Um... Could we help?" She asked.

"Well, it might go faster with a few eyes, but what about your thing with dragons?" Twilight asked with more than a little tension. Fluttershy tapped her hooves together, but held her ground.

"Well... Books of dragons wouldn't give me any trouble," Fluttershy said. "And I'm sure that... That I can be just as much help to Spike as you."

Twilight narrowed her eyes. "Oh? You can?"

Fluttershy startled at the change in Twilight's tone, but narrowed her eyes back. "Certainly..."

I coughed, and looked between the two of them.

"... Uhh... I was going to go thank Rarity for the suit of armor-"

"Oh yes! I noticed that, it looks great on you!" Twilight said cheerfully. She was at my side in an instant. "Lavender is a very nice color! I mean, you practically match me!"

"Actually, it's more purple," Fluttershy said. "Um, I mean, they are off of Spike when he was in his big form..."

"What?!" Spike gasped. "You mean you're wearing my skin?!"

"Take it as a compliment, Puff," I said flatly, tugging on the armor. "Looks better on me than it ever did you."

"Oh yeah? It makes you look like a big, scaly grape!" Spike growled back.

"Takes one to know one!" I shot back, bending down to glare right into his eyes. Spike snorted.

"I'm not squishy on the inside like you, ya big stupid monkey!"

"Big talk from a bipedal salamander!"

"Big talk from a bipedal ape!"

"Apes are bipedal and I'm not an ape!"

"Yeah you are! A stupid hairless monkey!"

"Monkeys aren't apes!"

"It's an insult! It doesn't have to make sense!" Spike shouted.

"Yes it does!"

"Does not!"

Behind us, Fluttershy and Twilight looked at eachother. My marefriend sighed and chuckled a bit.

"Funny huh? Them fighting over nothing," Twilight said. Fluttershy laughed, just as nervous.

"Hahaha... Oh... Yes... Nothing," she said. They continued to stare at each other.

Unfortunately I chose to ignore this in favor of the far less awkward option of arguing with Spike. Looking back, I was pretty much begging for a situation where I would have to man up or shut up. But I am the kind of guy who requires a brick thrown at my head from God to snap myself out of my funks, so it really isn't that surprising that I would later get a proverbial brick slamming into my head.

And by brick, I mean dragons. Big, scary dragons.


The hike up the volcano side was arduous, and I felt sweat pouring down my brow. I breathed hard in my helmet, and sucked on the nearby straw for another bit of precious drinking water. My thirst was only moderately relieved, but it was enough that I could at least maintain my focus on the ascent.

The helmet over my head was in the shape of a dragon's head, with black mesh cloth over my face to disguise my face as nothing but still allow me to see. On my back, glittery wings had been bolted. A cheap looking tail which housed my water swung behind me, clanking a bit. And my gloves now had claws. From a distance, or to a particularly stupid person, I would look nothing less than a man-sized dragon.

And I was thankful for that.

Above me, dragons flew. Hundreds of them, of all shapes and sizes. They were circling, coming in for a landing in what I presumed was the volcanic crater, or moving on in the great stream of flying reptiles for their breeding grounds. I was strangely reminded of the vast flocks of geese back home that would fly over my house, bound for a nearby lake during their great migrations. Both sights were breathtaking, beautiful in their own ways.

It's just that geese are far less likely to eat or barbecue you if you got too close.

"Grr..." I growled, pulling myself over another boulder. The ascent up the volcano was ending, I hoped. Unlike the mountains I'd climbed in Colorado, there weren't a lot of false summits to raise your spirits and then dash them. It was all just one big, long hike, scrambling up in a heavy suit of armor modified to make me at least resemble a man-sized dragon.

Confused? Let me back up for a moment...


After Twilight had separated us, Spike and myself joined her and Fluttershy in researching dragons. Throughout the night we had read, through volume after volume. Nothing on what it meant to be a dragon. Nothing on dragon behavior. Not much on dragons period, save for anatomy, habits, and several warnings of "Do Not Mess With".

I turned my tired eyes up to the windows, and found myself unsurprised it was morning. I looked over at Twilight, who was still reading despite her hair being a mess and her eyes heavy.

A fearsome glance over at Fluttershy, who was in the same state but determinedly still reading, let me know just why the research had gone on so long. I mentally sighed, and looked over at Spike. He too was still reading, though at least the reasons for him doing so were less likely to cause me trouble.

Oh, how I miss those naive days of youth...

"Good morning~!" Cried a familiar voice. We all looked up to see Rarity enter the library, along with Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.

"Eh? What's with you guys? Reading slumber party?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"No," Twilight said, barely containing a yawn.

"We've been researching dragons for Spike," Fluttershy said, also yawning deeply.

"But we haven't found anything," Spike said. Rarity tutted, and trotted up to Spike. She nuzzled the young dragon, which much to my surprise didn't elicit so much as a blush.

"Now Spike, there's absolutely no reason to fret!" Rarity said kindly. "You're just fine the way you are! A cutesy, wootsy little Spike-Wikey~..."

Spike sighed heavily. "But... What if that's not what I want to be?"

"Well, how are you going to find that out?" Pinkie Pie asked. "It's not like you could just go on the Great Dragon Migration!" Pinkie rubbed her chin and hummed. She then smiled. "Oh yeah! It totally is like that!"

"That's a great idea!" Spike said with a grin. Rainbow Dash snorted.

"Woah woah woah! Hang on Spike! Don't you have to be able to, ya know, fly to migrate?"

"I have to get there somehow," Spike said, clenching his fist. Twilight smiled.

"Well then, we can just go with you!" She said. She glanced in my direction, and I nodded.

"Yeah. That's not a problem," I said, trying very hard not to think about all the fire breathing dragons that would be waiting to gobble us up. That doesn't tend to help.

"I-I'd love to go too!" Fluttershy said.

"Me too!"

"Yeah!"

The other mares all volunteered as well. Spike shook his head.

"No," Spike said. "Thanks, but no. This is something I've got to do on my own. To find out where I fit in. I mean, I'm the only dragon in Ponyville. How am I supposed to find out how a dragon is supposed to be here?" He looked at me quite seriously. "I've never had anyone to show me how to be a dragon... And if I don't find out on my own..."

I felt a tug on my heart as I realized I understood him perfectly. I slowly nodded.

"Spike, it could be dangerous!" Rarity said.

"It will be dangerous," Applejack deadpanned. "Most dragons ain't nowhere near as nice as you!"

"Maybe," Spike said, a determined look on his face. "But I need to find out for myself." He packed up a few things in a backpack, and made for the door. Pinkie Pie moved out of the way, and he strode off for the mountains. Twilight sighed, and shook her head. Dashlooked between us, scowling.

"You're just letting him go?" Dash asked incredulously.

"It's what he wants," Twilight said. I nodded in turn.

"Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do," I said. At the stares I got from the others, I coughed. "Or dragon, in this case."

"But letting him go off alone like that!" Rarity wailed. Twilight smiled.

"Don't worry... He won't be going alone. He'll just think he's going alone. We're going to follow him!"

"Um, but Twilight, Spike is a dragon. We're ponies. Those are dragons, dragons," Fluttershy said. "They might welcome him but they most certainly will not welcome us!"

Twilight's smile changed tone as she looked up at me. "Not unless we have our own dragon."

I stared at her in dawning, horrified comprehension. The rest of the mares figured it out, Fluttershy announcing her realization with a gasp.

"No," I said flatly.

"Um..." Fluttershy tried.

"Come on Andrew!" Twilight pleaded. "Spike will need our help!"

"Er..." She tried again.

"And he's a dragon going among dragons," I said flatly. "How much help could he need?"

"Excuse me..."

"Andrew, please," Rarity begged, holding her hooves together. "My Spikey-Wikey could use your help, and you've already got most of a disguise done!" She rubbed her chin in thought. "And I could easily make a complete one, I've got everything I need back at the shop..."

"No, no, no, NO!" Fluttershy finally broke, shocking everypony. "You're not sending Andrew into a den of horrible, mean, nasty, meat eating fire breathing dragons!"

"Yeah!" Dash said. She grinned. "Not without backup!"

"Not even with backup!" Fluttershy practically shrieked. "You can't send him, you just can't!"

"We'll be with him every step of the way, ready to intervene!" Twilight said. She looked to me imploringly. "Please Andrew? I know you don't want to let Spike go alone any more than I do..."

I grumbled, looked to the side... And sighed. She was right. I slowly turned my head.

"All right," I said, trying to ignore Fluttershy's pale expression. "But I swear to God, I had better not be going in purple," I stated, indicating my armor.

"Of course you won't just be going around in purple!" Rarity said with a laugh. "Why, just purple would be absurd!"

I nodded. "Good."

I sighed and reached up to check the fins on my dragon helmet. My neon green fins.

"Double dealing no good deceiving pony temptress..." I muttered.

"What was that? Andrew, repeat, over? I couldn't hear you," came Twilight's voice over the magic headset in the helmet. She was safely far away with the others in a hot air balloon. I sighed.

"Nothing dear," I said flatly. I grunted and pulled myself up, climbing again. Higher, higher, and higher I went. The lip of the crater came into view, and with a last grunt of exertion, I yanked myself up.

I finally cleared the lip of the volcano crater, and peered down. I gaped in disbelief.

Dragons. Hundreds of them of all sizes, colors and shapes littered the volcanic crater. And Spike was headed for a rowdy, rambunctious group of them. I sighed.

"Dragons... Why'd it have to be dragons?" I muttered.

Resigned, I started on my way down.


As I descended into the volcanic crater, I found myself analyzing the layout of the dragons themselves. Being a professional anthropologist/archaeologist... Well, qualified anthropologist/archaeologist anyway (Professional meaning I got paid regularly for it), I couldn't help but try to understand the complex social interactions going on here. I was basically in unknown territory-Literally seeing dragons, and close enough to get an idea of their social life. I felt a bit like Jane Goodall, or Daniel Jackson from SG-1.

Hopefully I wouldn't be dying repeatedly like the latter. Or even once. Once would be bad.

The biggest dragons laid on the edges of the crater, finding outcrops of rock to rest upon or just sitting on beds of volcanic ash ringing the crater. On the wide plain that formed the interior of the crater were dragons that got no bigger than an elephant. Dragons in between these sizes, I noted, were circling overhead along with a few in the larger size range. The majority of the dragons though were flying still ever southward, so I gathered this volcano was simply a rest stop before the next leg of the journey.

A dragon turned its eyes to me as I passed it, and I hesitated for a moment.

"Andrew, you okay? You've stopped moving," Twilight said.

"A dragon... It's looking at me," I muttered.

"Just don't make eye contact," Fluttershy suggested. "Just don't look it in the eyes, keep walking, and it will leave you alone... Probably."

"Probably?!" I hissed.

"Do it!" Dash shouted. I looked away and kept my eyes straight ahead.

"Try to walk more like... Like a bear," Fluttershy said, a tremble in her voice. "Remember, you're a hulking dragon. You lean forward and leer when you walk, because you're a horrible flesh eating monster!"

"I can't leer, my face doesn't move," I said flatly. Nevertheless I focused on changing my walk, bunching up my shoulders and leaning forward.

I could feel the eyes of the great reptile for a few seconds more, before it looked elsewhere. I let out a sigh of relief and kept going, my eyes on the tiny purple form of Spike among a group of dragons no taller than me nearby a lava pit. They surrounded Spike, leering and laughing and shoving each other. It was very familiar for some reason...

"Hahaha! Well well, lookit the runt!" A red dragon laughed abrasively as I got within earshot. "I'm Garble!" He said, pounding his armored chest. "What's yer name, twerp?"

"Uh, Sp-Spike!"

"What? Who is that?" Rarity asked. "Is he talking about my Spikey-Wikey?!"

"And where are you from?" Garble asked. Spike smiled guilelessly, every part of him screaming "fresh meat".

"Ponyville!"

The older dragons broke out into laughter, as Spike began to frown. That confused, helpless look on his face... The way the dragons were acting like position jockeying douchebags...

Holy shit, I thought, these are teenaged dragons.

Or at least the dragon equivalent.

"What the hay? Spike's run into bullies!" Dash growled. "Kick their tails!"

"No!" I hissed.

"Check it out guys! We've got ourselves a hybrid: half-pony, half-dragon!" Garbles laughed. Spike glared up at Garble.

"Who, me? I'm not part pony! I'm all dragon, see? Raar!" Spike clawed at the air, quite ineffectually.

"Or maybe you're a pony in a dragon costume," Garble mocked. More laughter broke out, and I felt my hot sweat turn cold. I tried to look non-chalant, tried to be ignored... But Garbles looked up at me, looked down at Spike, and grinned.

"Oho? And what's this?" Garble grinned. "We got another half-pony here?"

Spike looked over at me and gaped. Realization flooded his eyes, and I decided to ask myself a very important question:

What would Batman do?

I stalked right up to Garbles, cracked my heck (thankful the helmet allowed me to do that), reared back and punched him right in the nose.

"GWARGH?!" Garbles stepped back, off balance. I charged and checked him, hockey style, right into the lava pit. I turned to face the stunned dragons as Garbles sputtered, and I growled.

"Any one else want to crack jokes about dragons from Ponyville?" I snarled. I looked around, hoping the Power Rangers-like helmet I wore would be at least a little intimidating. As I wasn't being burnt alive I gathered it was succeeding.

"Who in the name of the Pit are you?!" Garble demanded as he clawed his way out of the lava pit.

"I'm... Smaug," I said, as Garbles loomed up over me, the heat radiating from the lava still clinging to his skin. I was sweating like crazy-It was probably only thanks to the dragon hide that I wasn't bursting into flame already. "Smaug the Dragon. Spike is my little brother."

Garble glared at me for a while more, and I thought I was about to get a face full of fire. He then grinned and laughed.

"So! Ponyville dragons have got some sacs, eh? All right!" He turned to the other dragons. "Let's welcome Smaug and Spike!"

The other dragons blew fire and cheered, and I felt my tension drop a bit. Even as Spike glared at me. If I was smart, I'd have been more cautious, but going into a dragon den pretty much established just how smart I was...


The dragon gang from then on enjoyed themselves immensely, slapping each other on the back, pushing each other into lava pits, and chowing down on goats and gems. I took a spot on the edge of the group, and Spike joined me with a resentful expression.

"You didn't have to come here," he muttered to me. I passed him a gem I'd been tossed for food, and maintained a careful vigil. The rest of the dragons seemed more occupied with eating and joking amongst themselves than looking our way. Though I'd been accepted, the looks Garbles and what appeared to be his crew gave me were guarded. Like I was now a threat to his dominance in the group.

"Sure I did," I said softly. "If it's dangerous and stupid have you ever not known me to do it?"

Spike just kept glowering. I sighed.

"Besides, Twilight and the others..."

"They're here too?" Spike asked in disbelief, looking suspiciously over at a very odd green dragon named Crackle, who was imitating a bird on a stone mound some distance away.

"Just to keep an eye on you-"

"This is what I was talking about!" Spike growled angrily. His glare was baleful. "I'm never going to figure out who or what I am if you don't stop trying to protect me!"

"Tell him we're fully accepting of his life choices but we just want to be near enough to keep an eye on him if something goes wrong!" Twilight said over my headset.

"If he gets in over his head, wouldn't he prefer to have us there?" Rarity added.

"It's really just for his own good," Fluttershy said.

I thought about everything they said, and I looked down a the glowering Spike.

I sighed. "I know," I said. "You're right."

"EH?!" Cried the ponies.

"So relax," I said. "We won't stand in your way."

Spike looked up, blinking. "Really?"

"Nope," I said.

"HEY! FIRE BELCHING CONTEST!" Garbles yelled. "Let's see who can make the biggest!" He grinned over at me. "Hey! Smaug, you want in on this?"

"No," I said, "but I think Spike," and here I looked over at him, "would like to do it. Right?"

Spike blinked a few times, and then grinned. "Yeah!" He ran off, leaving Garbles to laugh.

"Hahaha! Putting your little bro through the wringer, huh Smaug?" He asked.

"Let's just say I'm not feeling up to it," I said calmly. Garbles smirked and turned. The rest of the dragons joined him as they lined up for the competition.

"Andrew, you should have explained our position! Now he's going to do reckless things!" Twilight protested.

"You mean, like joining the dragon migration as a baby dragon?" I asked.

"He has a point," Dash said.

"Still!" Rarity said.

"Relax," I said. "t's like he said, he has to figure this out on his own and us telling him that would be kind of redundant. Besides, I'm sure he'll be fine..."

The sounds of several dragon belches were heard, as flames shot into the sky. They were followed by a very pathetic looking burp, and the clatter of a scroll.

"What's this? 'Dear Twilight Sparkle, from Princess Celestia...?' HA! You burp puny pony crap!" Garbles laughed, joined by the rest of the dragons. I looked over at Spike, who bore this humiliation as best he could.

"... Probably..."

Unfortunately, in the other tests of Spike's capabilities as a dragon, he fell pretty damn short. Quite literally, especially in the case of "dragon toss". In each of these events though, to help him out I declined to participate.

I mean, tail wrestling? My tail would have been torn to shreds and then I'd have been screwed.

King of the hill? I only shoved that dragon into the lava because I caught him off guard. I didn't fancy scrambling up the hill in this heavy armor anyway.

The worst contest though? Lava diving.

Yes, the dragons would jump off the cliff into a pool of molten lava to make a huge splash. As we stood up atop the cliff, Garble grinned nastily at all the gathered dragons.

"All right... Whoever makes the biggest splash, wins! Ready?"

As before, Spike shot a glare at me to keep me from interfering. I slowly nodded, and backed away.

"What's he doing?" Twilight asked. "Come on, tell me!"

"ALL RIGHT!" Garble shouted. "COME ON! LET'S GO!" He jumped in, casuing a huge splash of molten rock to erupt from where he hit. The other dragons followed, one at a time, until only myself and Spike were left.

"Oh? Not gonna participate again, Smaug?" Garble taunted with a grin.

"As I recall, you're the only one who likes to go swimming in lava, Garble," I stated calmly. The other dragons laughed, and Garble growled but said nothing else. He looked over at Spike, peering uneasily over the edge, and snorted smoke.

"You gonna chicken out too, Pony?" He asked.

Spike started, glared down, and closed his eyes. He then took a step backwards, and leaped off the top of the cliff. I watched him fall, down, down, down... Until he hit the lava hard. The other dragons gaped in amazement, even Garble.

"Woah... What a belly flop!" Garble said.

"Ugh... How was that...?" Spike asked. The red dragon grinned.

"Nobody's ever done that before! You're one heck of a dragon!" Garble said. The other dragons hooted and cheered, and I allowed myself to smile.

"Looks like he's finally been accepted," I said, as I slowly made my way back down to the crater floor.

"That's wonderful!" Rarity said. "He's doing great! I knew he could do it!"

"So, um, mission accomplished? Can Andrew come back now?" Fluttershy asked. "I-I mean, we can keep an eye on Spike from here..."

"No, we still need him around," Twilight vetoed.

"It's very dangerous though, I think he should come back," Fluttershy insisted.

"I don't think so. And I think he agrees with me," Twilight said coldly.

"I think he'd like to leave now," Fluttershy said, just as coldly.

"And I think he'll stay!" Twilight said.

"Andrew doesn't have to listen to you!" Fluttershy growled.

"He doesn't, but he likes to!"

"Not in this case!"

"Uh, guys...?" I tried, but the arguing continued. It faded a bit, and Rarity coughed.

"Sorry Andrew darling, it seems they're having it out..."

"Want us to give you the blow by blow? Mane pulling includied?" Rainbow Dash asked dryly.

I sighed. "No thanks."

"You really should do something about this, you know," Rarity said.

"Seriously."

"I know, I know," I said.

"OI! SMAUG! GET OVER HERE!" Garble shouted. "CONGRATULATE YOUR BROTHER!" He grinned nastily. "Or are you just gonna talk to yourself?"

I growled. "One problem at a time..."


Garble was kind of like that schoolyard hot shot. You know the one. The kinda guy without a soul who struts about like he owns the place, enforcing power through the theft of milk-money and a posse of equally big guys watching his back. How do I know he doesn't have a soul? Hell, the guy's a ginger.

He only paid me some respect because I earned it the only way you could with a bully-By kicking his ass but not rubbing it in too much. Still, after Spike had proven himself he seemed more focused on bonding rather than competing. As the shadows grew long around the volcanic crater, he had the dragons sit down around a small pool of lava. He grinned nastily, the setting sun casting his features into stark relief.

"Alright, you scale bags," Garble started as he sat Spike down right next to him. "Scary story time."

My eyes rolled out of pure instinct. Oh boy.

"What kind of story are we talkin' about, Garble?" one of Garble's friends piped up. Another one of 'those.' This dragon was the small snitch-type that hung around the bigger kids, reeling around their shoulder and attempting to look tough just 'cause he hung with the tough kids. "Huh, Garble?" he continued sucking up to the taller dragon. "What kind of stories we gonna tell, Garble?"

Garble quickly silenced him – for all our sanity's sake – with the threat of a pimp-slap. "We're talking about..." a wide, toothy and evil grin spread across the teenager's face.

As instinctive as my eye-rolling came, came a cold shiver. Just that look in the dragon's eyes, I could tell this was all going to end in tears.

"Humans."

Everyone gasped. The little suck-up snitch stiffened like he had suffered a fatal heart attack and slipped from his perch.

Spike scratched his head, completely unfazed. "Uhhhhh..."

I derped. What? That was pretty much what I wanted to cry out. Unfortunately I'd have to sit out on the explanation on this one, for the sake of my cover... and the soft contents of my fleshy body that I would like to remain internal.

"Humans ain' real, Garble. They can't be real, can they Garble?" the snitch dragon squeaked, quaking in fear.

"Oh, they're real." Garble's voice went low and sinister. "You're looking into the psyche of cold blooded killers. Monsters of a whole other world that have rended the flesh of countless ancient dragons. You're learning of... humans." I could hear the Twilight Zone theme playing away in the back of my head, even as I wrestled with the implications.

"I heard they can kill a dragon with a stare." One of Garble's friends shuddered. Garble smacked him over the head.

"No you idiot!" Garble scolded. "They kill dragons with magic wands."

I coughed. "Magic wands?" I blurted out, hardly disguising my voice.

So terror struck, the dragons didn't even notice the change in my tone.

"Magic wands." Garble confirmed. "Great branches of steel, they spit hellfire and metal, enough of it to break dragon-armour and pluck us right out of the sky!"

His friends gasped with terror.

Spike and I sat by confused, casting each other a furtive glance. Were they talking about normal humans? As in... my species?

"Normally two legged creatures, almost like monkeys but without the hair. They have grotesque rounded ears and patches of fur that cover their faces like masks of shadow. Lost, pig eyes they can look right into your brain and steal your thoughts," Garble hissed.

"They wear a second layer of skin over their bodies, sometimes metal, sometimes the very scales of their dragon victims." Garble continued, his voice low and menacing. "And if you try to bite them, your teeth will shatter like glass. They can see and watch you always, their eyes glowing an eerie green glow in the night, and they can see as clear as day. They move with the shadows, blending into any environment, treading quietly the borders of light and dark. They'll eat anything to survive, from plants to the flesh of our fallen brethren. They'll cut you open without a second thought, pull out all your warm bits and cook you up in a stew! They'll even find you momma's unhatched eggs and snatch them away to scramble 'em up and have 'em for breakfast. And if you try to fly away..."

One of the dragons was hugging his tail for comfort...

"They'll follow you on a flying chariot of steel, trailing fire hotter than any dragon's blaze!"

Guns and jets? I thought in disbelief. But Twilight said they had no records of humans...

"Then we can hide underwater." One dragon said shakily. "Our fire may go out, but no-one can hold their breath as long as a dragon... r-right?"

"You fool." Garble whispered with his eyes narrowed. "They don't need to hold their breath. They carry bubbles of air on their back and can survive without fresh air for as long as any dolphin! You cannot run..." he paused for dramatic effect. "And you cannot hide."

I gulped, feeling strangely vulnerable.

"The humans will hunt you, and they will find you... and they will kill you," he finished, flaring his wings out dramatically. The other dragons gasped in fright, huddling around each other, while Spike and myself sat in some disbelief. Garble stared and snorted.

"What? You Ponyville pansies aren't scared of humans?"

"Of... Course not," Spike said bravely. "They're just a... A fairy tale!"

"Oh? You brave enough to face humans, huh?" Garble asked. He grinned. "Then how about a little... Excursion?" He grabbed Spike, and took off. "Come on! We're going phoenix hunting!"

"Ah?! Wait, hang on!" Spike cried.

"Hold it Garble!" I called. Garble grinned down nastily at me.

"Follow us! If you can keep up!" He taunted, flying off with a few of the other dragons. The remaining dragons stared at me, and I tried to stand up straight.

"Well... Guess I'm going phoenix hunting," I said, striding for the lip of the volcano crater.

This was going to end badly, I just knew it...


As I scrambled my way up the slope of the crater, my headset buzzed.

"Andrew? Andrew, can you hear me?" Twilight asked.

"Loud and clear. We've got a problem." I began.

"What?"

"A couple of dragons took Spike," I said. "They're headed off to go hunting for phoenixes."

There was a chorus of feminine gasps over the radio.

"That's dangerous! He might be burned alive! Even dragons can't handle phoenix fire well!" Twilight gasped.

"Did you see where they went? Where did they take my Spike-Wikey?!" Rarity demanded.

"They're headed..." I squinted in the direction of the sun, retraced the course... "North-east I think."

"Can you get a better view?" Twilight asked.

"If I got to the top of the crater wall, yes," I said.

"Good! Get out of there, quickly but carefully!" Fluttershy said. "Try to find them by looking from the top, then get out of there!"

"No, then they'll be suspicious," Twilight argued. "He needs to stay put where it's safe!"

"Safe does not belong in the same LANGUAGE as DRAGON," Fluttershy practically snarled. I could imagine Rarity holding a hoof to her forehead-I knew I would be.

I really need to resolve this... Have us talk this out, them in human form so it's easier to read them... Maybe with a mud pit and bikinis-SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

"It's a little late for me to stay put anyway," I pointed out, grunting as I pulled myself over a boulder. "I'm almost out of the crater."

"Good!" Fluttershy said. I could hear Twilight's teeth grinding over the radio. Man, was I in for it. Odd that that was what I was dreading, more than the dragons even!

Well... Okay, not very odd at all.

"All right, can you see where they took Spike?" Asked Twilight, with a resigned sigh.

I huffed, and cleared the crater. I sighed, enjoying even the slight dip in the temperature outside the volcanic crater. I shielded my eyes with my glove, and I could make out faint shapes in the distance.

"There," I said. "I can see them! Let's see... Sixty degrees, by..." I did a rough guess with a rock's shadow nearby, "fifty, maybe... Four miles away, fading fast!"

"Good! Rainbow Dash is pushing the balloon hard," Twilight said. "And... yes, I can see you!"

I scanned the skies. "I can't see you..."

"I made the balloon invisible," Twilight explained. "It was rough but it was the best way to let it approach this close... Where did you think we were?"

I had a sudden mental image of a very silly, and poorly made dragon costume supported by four ponies. I shook my head clear of the odd thought.

"Nevermind."

I looked down the slope and sighed. It was steep and covered in boulders, and steam drifted up from piles of rocks that were probably bits of molten rock the volcano had burped up. Below that were miles of forest, with rivers snaking across them. Here I was decked out in heavy armor, at best resembling a poor Power Rangers monster. Low on water, no food, armed only with my sword.

"We can swing around to pick you up," Fluttershy said. "Rainbow Dash is just fast enough to catch up."

"What do you mean, just fast enough?" Dash demanded. I relaxed and smiled.

Thank you God. Thank you.

It was then I felt two pairs of grasping claws on my shoulders, and I flew up.

"Eh?!" I cried, and I looked to my sides quickly. Two of the teenaged dragons were carrying me up, grinning at me from either side. I felt almost weightless, carried by the two teenaged dragons. I was just feeling very happy all of a sudden that I hadn't eaten anything in a while.

"Hey, c'mon Smaug!" The one on the right said tauntingly.

"You gonna go phoenix hunting with your brother, ain'tcha?" The other snickered.

"Andrew! Andrew, are you all right?!" Fluttershy cried.

"What's-Stay calm! We'll think of something, just stay calm!" Twilight cried, not sounding calm at all.

"Ah, look fellas, I appreciate the lift but if you don't let me go, I'm going to twist your tails off like twigs," I said with a growl. The two dragons looked uneasy, sheepish.

"Ah, right Smaug."

"No problem Smaug! We were just wondering why you weren't flying."

"I mean, it is a little unusual-"

"Tails. Twisted right off. Like that," I said, snarling low in my throat. The two dragons gulped.

"No problem, Smaug!"

"Whatever you say!"

"Good," I said.

And then they let me go.

"ANDREWWWWW!" Screamed in my helmet as I plummeted for the valley floor below.

And strangely, I wasn't screaming with the ponies. No, the only thing I could say as I fell to my doom was:

"... I probably should have seen that coming."

Amazing how articulate you can be when faced with a messy death from several thousand feet up.


I edited up the ending to make the story a bit longer. I hope you enjoy the addition!