Spike begins to see connections between the worlds.
“Spike! Stop and think about this!” Rainbow Dash screamed. “How’re ya even gonna find him!?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“And you’re gonna kill him?”
“Spike, you don’t want to do this.”
“Yes I do.”
“What would Rarity think?”
He stopped in his tracks and spun around. Spike gave a look that frightened the young pegasus. A look she never expected.
“He killed her… Rainbow,” the dragon spoke in a cold tone. “Killed… her…”
“You expect me to let that slide?”
Rainbow righted herself. “And what makes you think he won’t kill you first?”
Sweetie Belle staggered. “Ki-kill us?”
“Oh, yeah, I’m out,” Rumble stated from above.
Spike shot him a look. “Well, I’m not.” He turned back to Rainbow. “And I’m willing to take that risk.”
“-and look who’s talking! The one who kicked a dragon in the face is suddenly so worried!? What happened to-”
Rainbow snapped. “I don’t want to lose another friend!” she screamed, tears boiling in her eyes.
At that moment, the black and brittle remnants that hung above them began to crackle. Spike looked up and saw the tree destabilize, as the single branch that hung above him, fell.
Spike’s eyes snapped open. His breathing was rapid, but it didn’t take long for him to calm down once he realized where he was.
He shifted the ring on his right claw, adorned with a blue gemstone. Spike stretched his back and slowly eased himself out of his basket. Across from him, he could see Comet’s bed, empty. Through the window, the sun was just inching over the horizon.
It was the beginning of a new day in this world.
He quickly proceeded down the stairs, and walked down to the main library floor. He found the building curiously quiet, and vacant. Something was not right.
He detected a flutter of movement out of the corner of his eye. At one of the reading alcoves, consisting of a cushioned bench in front of a large window. A form shifted, wrapped tightly in a brown blanket. It was pony-sized, but covered up so well that Spike could not identify it.
He walked toward the form, which suddenly rolled over. Rarity’s face peeked through the cover.
Spike found himself flying towards his lover, who quickly grabbed him tightly in both hooves. He hesitated, confused as to this turn of events.
Her sobbing echoed in his ear. He returned the hug.
The door creeped open behind him.
“Spike, welcome to the land of the living,” said Comet, as he trotted in.
Rarity released her boyfriend, and Spike saw his guardian, followed by Shining Armor and his wife, Cadance. All three of them were slightly dishevelled.
“How is it?” the young mare asked.
“Don’t worry about that now, Rarity,” Shining explained. “Just concentrate on feeling better.”
“What happened?” Spike asked.
“Uh… well… um…” Comet scratched the back of his neck. “Carousel was attacked.”
His eyes went wide. “By what?” he asked, thinking he knew the answer.
“No one knows,” Cadance explained, as she polished her light blue spectacles. “We talked to a few eye-witnesses, but the reports are mixed.” Her glasses returned to their proper position.
“Which is why I think I might know exactly what it was.” Comet said as he trotted away.
“Yeah, I think I might know too,” Shining stated, hanging his head.
“Great,” the shrink said. “But first, I need coffee.” He entered the kitchen, and everyone else followed.
The group of five sat at the kitchen table. Cadance poured the sugar dish into her cup, and stirred it with a spoon.
Comet’s head lay on the table, he stared at the coffee cup.
Shining Armor shuffled nervously, and was the one to break the silence. “So, Comet, what do you think it was.”
The stallion sat up straight, brought the cup to his lips and started chugging. A few seconds later, it was down, and he exhaled dramatically. “Well!” he said, raising his hoof. “Let’s look at the facts. They said the creature was bright, and appeared to be on fire.”
“Yeah,” Cadance responded.
“Half the building was burnt to a crisp, so that’s not too surprising. Now, they said it moved like a blur. But thanks to the brightness of the flame, no one could get a good look.”
“Now, even if they could barely see it, most ponies would still be able to identify a creature, by name, if they saw it, right?”
Cadance thought for a second. “They never heard of it.”
“Ding ding. Which narrows it down. Now I, personally, can only think of one creature obscure enough, that fits that incredibly general description. And it’s a… three, two, one-”
“Qilin,” Shining and Comet announced simultaneously.
“Oh…” Cadance said. “Dammit, how could I have forgotten about that?”
“Lot on your mind?”
“I’m sorry,” Rarity interjected. “But what is a… Qilin?”
The princess explained with a sigh, “A Qilin is a tall reptilian pony with a mastery over fire. Their population is very small, they’re very aggressive, and a bit xenophobic, though there are exceptions.”
“Ambassador Dorin,” Comet stated.
“Who is Ambassador Dorin?” Rarity asked.
“He’s the Neighponese Ambassador to Equestria,” Comet explained. “Nice guy, but he’s the exception.”
“What do you mean, ‘a mastery over fire’?” Spike asked.
“They can shoot fire from their flesh.”
His eyes widened.
“It’s not important,” Shining explained. “We have to go after it.”
“It’s probably long gone by now,” Comet rebutted.
“And if it isn’t? It could attack again.”
“Then we should prepare, but going after it probably isn’t the best idea.”
Shining started to raise his voice. “You think we should just let it get away?”
“I’m not debating this with you-”
The captain froze. “What?”
“Why do you want to go after it?”
He hesitated. “Um… it attacked Rarity’s store, and-”
“You think it might be connected to the attack on Sugarcube Corner.”
The two stared at each other.
“Of course not,” Shining replied.
Comet paused for a second before continuing. “Shining-”
“We should at least try to track it down,” he interjected.
“No direct conflict?”
The prince shook his head.
“Can’t argue with that,” the doctor said as he got to his hooves.
Cadance exhaled in relief. Spike and Rarity looked at each other in confusion.
“You’re coming?” Shining asked.
“I don’t think I have a choice,” the green unicorn responded, rubbing his mane.
“Yoohoo!” A voice came from the main foyer.
Comet trotted out, and everypony followed.
He quickly greeted the guest. “Hey Pinkie,” Comet said.
“OO! Rarity!” the curly-haired mare yelled as she grabbed her friend. “I’m so sorry about your home!” She released the hug. “Are you alright?”
“I’m feeling much better, Pinkie Pie. Thank you.”
She smiled, a mile wide.
“So, Pinkie Pie,” Comet interjected. “What brings you here so early in the morning?”
She turned and stared at him.
“Right! Um… sorry Pinkie we’re gonna have to reschedule. Something came up.”
“You’re gonna go after the thing that attacked Rarity’s home?”
He stared at her for several seconds. “How’d you-wait, nevermind, I don’t want to know.”
“Can I come?”
“Uh…” Comet said, in hesitation.
“It could get dangerous Pinkie,” Shining explained. “Are you sure?”
“You do know I’m coming right?” Cadance asked.
The two stallions turned to look at her.
“Alright,” Shining said.
Comet snapped his head back to the soldier. “What!?” he asked, incredulous.
“I know better than to argue with her.”
“I’m coming too,” Rarity said. “I want to see this thing with my own eyes.”
“Me too,” Spike said.
“Great!” Comet said, his sarcasm palpable. “Fantastic, we’re all going to get ourselves killed, fun times.”
“Do we even know where to start?” the dragon asked.
“Well, my back left hoof started itching,” Pinkie explained. “So it probably went to the south-west corner of Whitetail Wood.”
“Fine!” He cried refusing to question the mare. “Let’s get some supplies and go!” He trotted back into the kitchen, followed closely by Pinkie and Shining Armor.
“Princess,” Rarity whispered.
Cadance held back. “Yes?”
“What was going on between Shining Armor and Cerebral Comet?”
“He’s a member of the Royal Corps of Psychotherapists. He has the authority to detain us if he thinks we’re acting irrationally or putting ourselves in unnecessary danger. Among other things.”
“Another question,” Spike said, holding up a claw. “When did this happen?”
“You mean the attack?”
“Early last night, why?”
“Why didn’t anypony wake me?” He whispered in anger.
“Comet said he tried, but you were ‘dead to the world.'”
“I told him it wasn’t that important,” Rarity explained. “You needed your rest.”
“Okay,” Spike continued. “Another question: What happened to your contacts?”
Cadance adjusted her glasses. “I don’t know, I think I lost them,” she responded nervously.
He crossed his arms, and shook his head. “This is gonna be a weird day.”
“So, how exactly could a Qilin do that much damage!?” Spike asked incredulously, as the group walked away from the ruins of the Boutique, entering Whitetail Wood.
“They’re incredibly fast, incredibly strong, can leap very high, and their skin is on fire,” Comet explained. “Take a guess!”
“So this thing is dangerous?” asked Applejack.
“Who cares!?” Rainbow screamed. “We can take him!”
“We’re not ‘taking’ anypony,” Comet explained, staring up at the pegasus. “This is strictly a reconnaissance mission, we’re going to find him, and direct the cavalry to ‘take him’ if we need to.”
Rainbow crossed her hooves in protest. “Pshh. Come on! He attacked our friend! Let’s do this now!”
“YEAH!” A voice came from a nearby bush.
“Apple Bloom!” screamed the earth pony. “What are you doing!?”
The young filly peaked out of the shrubbery. “I wanted to come with you.”
“Awww… Come on Applejack, let me come with. I can help!”
The yellow earth pony continued to sulk.
Rarity interjected. “Apple Bloom, why don’t you go play with your friends?”
“Sweetie Belle’s on a date with Rumble, and Scootaloo… Actually, I haven’t seen her all day.”
Everyone quickly turned their eyes in the direction of the noise. They only saw trees.
“Scootaloo!?” Shining Armor said. He trotted toward a tree. “You’re really good at that.”
“Thanks!” she said, emerging from a patch of bark on the tree.
“GAH!” Rainbow screamed. Clutching her chest, and fainting.
The young pegasus was covered in what appeared to be some type of paint. She blended in with the forest so easily nopony noticed.
“What are you doing here!?” screamed Applejack.
“Well, I was going to follow you to find the dragon without you noticing.”
“Qilin,” Comet said.
“Well, I don’t care,” Applejack said, incensed. “Go home. Both of you. This is too dangerous for you two.”
“You know,” the shrink explained. “They’ll probably follow us anyway. Might be better to just let them come, that way we can keep track of them.”
Applejack sighed, “Fine.”
“Great!” Scootaloo screamed. “Where’re we going!?”
“No idea!” Comet said with a smile.
“Oh, just follow me!” Pinkie said, trotting away.
As everypony left, Rainbow Dash slowly came to. She looked down the path, and saw her friends leaving. “Hey, wait for me!” She screamed. Flying off.
The journey was a long one for the large group. The sun was already halfway up the sky, and was slowly creeping ever higher to its peak.
Pinkie Pie took the lead followed closely by Princess Cadance, and Applejack. Rainbow Dash and Cerebral Comet were right behind them. Shining Armor took up the rear, ensuring the group’s safety. And directly in front of him, were Spike, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Rarity. Together, talking.
“You’re seriously worried?” Rarity asked.
“Well, I’m not worried,” Scootaloo explained. “It’s just… we never hang out anymore.”
“Just because Sweetie Belle found love, does not mean she’s no longer your friend.”
“Well, we know that,” Apple Bloom explained, a bit insulted by the suggestion.
“Well, eventually, I’m sure you’ll find things will go back to the way they always were.”
Scootaloo turned to Spike. “What’s it like anyway?”
“You know… it…”
Spike’s face turned beet red.
“OH! Um… it’s hard to explain…”
Rarity gave him a soft smile.
“So, Rarity,” said Cerebral Comet as he slowed his pace to join them. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“Yes?” She replied, quite curious.
“I assume you’ll need a place to stay, while your house is being rebuilt.”
“Well, the Library’s open, if you want.”
“Oh, well I don’t want to impose.”
“No imposition at all,” he replied. “Now, Spike, a word?”
The two of them slowed their pace, separating from the others.
“What is it?” the dragon asked.
“We… uh… never got to really talk about… what you told me yesterday.”
Spike just looked at him.
The other world.
“Oh… right…” he replied.
“We got time now.”
Spike hesitated. “Uh… now?”
“Can you just tell me what you dreamed about last night?”
“Uh… well…” he lowered his voice. “I woke up, and… Twilight… told me Sweet Apple Acres was attacked by a dragon.”
“The entire orchard was burnt to a crisp.”
“Then Rainbow told me the dragon was green.”
“Does that mean anything to you?”
“It was the same dragon that attacked Sugarcube Corner.”
Comet stopped in his tracks. Shining stopped next to him as the shrink put a hoof to his chin. “Interesting,” the green stallion mused. He hurried his pace to catch up.
“We’ll talk about this later, Spike.”
The dragon followed his guardian.
Shining raised an eyebrow and picked up his pace, once again.