Light At The End Of The Tunnel: Plans
Yawning loudly, I hug the empty space in my bed.
Mistake is gone. Weird, he's definitely not a morning pony. In fact, I usually have to keep bugging him to wake him up for morning practice. Is it possible that I made him too uncomfortable yesterday? He seemed to like the closeness but possibly I rushed things too much.
Perhaps my journal will answer the question.
Fortunately, Betty's reappearance gave me a chance to continue my attempts at dealing with Sombra. With him amplifying my ability to steal magic and direct it I might be able to gather enough power by using Sombra as a power source to open a portal to the mirror world and find help there.
Once again I wish I had a clue what it means but at least I can be sure Mistake didn't run to the Guard telling them I tried to rape him.
Now, that means he might be going away for long and if there's something I can do for him it's solving all the issues his leaving the Guard might cause.
First of all I check how much money Mistake took and when the bags prove not to be much lighter I recount the coins and find out he took very little. Either he doesn't expect to be away too long then or he doesn't think he's going to need much because... he doesn't plan on coming back.
I need information.
I make a small breakfast for myself and go to the morning practice. It appears that daylight savings time is something unknown to Equestria as even in the middle of winter there's enough light at this time of day for us recruits to be able to actually do something.
Damn! Even after my last session with Heavy where I found out how his style works I can't hold my own against him. The instructors usually just let the recruits pair up and beat each other senseless while watching and commenting on what they're doing right or wrong but since there's uneven amount of more experienced guys Heavy quite often takes me away for practice.
I've always been mad at the Legion instructors who made recruits or privates do physical exercises for an hour or so and then, when weapon practice came, yelled at them for being slow and useless. Heavy always does the exercises with us though so I don't have an excuse when he disarms me over and over.
"You seem distracted today," Heavy helps me off the ground, "Does it have something to do with your friend being absent?"
He seemed to know something about Mistake when we talked after carrying him to the infirmary on the first day. Perhaps he might be the one to ask?
"Maybe. Do the words 'mirror world' mean anything to you?"
Heavy's mouth opens and for a second he looks as if he's having a heart attack. He recovers quickly though.
"Where... did you hear about it?"
"What? Is it something private?"
"No, not at all. That thing just isn't a general knowledge outside of certain few ponies. It's not a secret, it just isn't publicly advertised that something like that exists. Now, where did you hear about it?"
Mistake's entries concerning Heavy gave me enough to think of him being trustworthy, at least more than anypony else. Still, Mistake did something terrible to him. I have to risk it, do I?
"I've read it in a book."
"And what book was that?" he smiles slightly.
Why do I get the feeling that he knows everything I'm going to say?
"Does he know?"
"Not really. His journal happens to be a magical tourist memento like someone might buy in a gift shop and whatever is written in it appears in a second book which I happened to come across completely on accident."
"Do you have it with you?"
"Yeah," I point at my backpack lying on the frozen ground, "I carry it with me so Mistake doesn't find it randomly and get pissed at me."
"Well, it seems that there's two of us who know his secret. Give it to me!"
"Secret?" I ask.
Enjoying the little break from getting my ass stomped, I bring the black book to Heavy who opens it and nods. I'm not sure about any big secret as such but Mistake and Betty's conversation hinted at little more than the journal did.
"Ah, that's why! This little book only has a fraction of information it seems. Well, are you willing to help Mistake even if it might and very probably will be very dangerous?"
There's no doubt in my mind, not after yesterday.
"Good. Come to me after practice and I'll fill you in. Let me keep this for now, I'll see if there's anything I don't know."
"With all due respect, how do YOU know about all this?"
"Thanks to you I'd say."
He grabs the book and nods towards the fighting recruits. Patience is a virtue, they say, and all I have to do is smack the crap out of other recruits for about... half an hour.
The training goes well enough when I can actually focus on something else than my disappeared roommate and, as per Heavy's order, I switch with one of the paired up recruits, let him get a break and give the other the chance to practice with someone experienced. Well, it goes well enough until I get brutally beaten by Three and when I say brutally I mean it. Getting to know the changelings, I don't want to badmouth them but sparring against her is like attacking the offspring of a tornado and a meatgrinder.
"Didn't know you were so good at melee combat," I cough, scrambling to stand up.
"I was made literally just for that reason. Every one of us is like this but most try to avoid showing it not to make ponies scared," she says in her usual matter of fact tone of voice.
"One day I'll have to get to know you better. How about you, me and Shaky here go grab a drink after evening practice, let's say, this Saturday?"
"Sounds... good?" she says after looking at Shaky who nods.
"Epic," I smile and take a small break, seeing the morning practice is nearing its end. The other recruits are slowly crumbling to the ground, wet like oil wrestlers.
Time to squeeze Heavy for information and, if possible, squeeze some of his more private areas as well.
"Sargeant?" I approach the white earthpony.
"Let's talk somewhere more private," Heavy nods.
We walk through the castle and I follow Heavy, making sure to stay few steps behind him at all times, especially when walking up the stairs.
At least I have one more fantasy to strive for. Mistake under me, Heavy on top of me in one tasty, tasty griffon sandwich.
I plant my face into his butt when he stops to open a door.
"You look hungry, Cromach," he grins.
Phew, I'm really glad he doesn't mind.
"Sorry, sir. Got a bit distracted there."
"No problem. I'm used to Darky looking at me as if I was a three-course fancy dinner."
"Sooo... any chance of the two of us walking into a bar, leaving slightly tipsy and-"
"Having Cross rip your head off?"
"Fuck me. I totally forgot."
He actually blushes.
"What did I say?" I continue.
"You griffons curse that way?"
"Ehm yes? What do you ponies say? May rainbows and happiness strike me down?"
"Well, when we curse we usually say buck, not the other thing."
"It comes from the term for kicking something really hard with hind legs which isn't pleasant whatsoever, especially when compared to your expression. I mean, it's like - I've just screwed up, kick me -, and not - I've just made a horrible mistake, please reward me!"
"That's an... interesting way to think about it," I comment as I sit down to the empty guest chair in Heavy's office.
"Sooo, no dice?" I continue when Heavy brings two cups of tea.
"About the bar thing."
"I'd lie if I said I wasn't curious about your kind but I'd have to ask Tio first about how things are between us."
"At least it's not a definite no."
"No, it's not," Heavy smiles and puts my book on the desk between us, "But let's get back to business. You're missing a lot of information about Mistake and it would take me way too long to tell you the whole story, at least what I know about it."
"What about Pine Hills, Sombra and the mirror world then? The short version."
"Pine Hills is a small logging village on the opposite side of the Everfree Forest where the remaining Nightmare changelings live under the eye of Guiding Light, Mistake's daughter. The name he didn't tell you, his real name, is Blazing Light and when he named her he gave her his family name. I was there when Guiding got interrogated by the royal sisters and Blazing named her."
"But Mistake- Blazing seems pretty young."
"Let's stick to Mistake. If it's the name he chose then I can respect it and unfortunately I can easily see why he would pick it. Yes, he would be too young to be a father of a twenty-year old changeling under normal circumstances but Guiding comes from a dimension where time flows differently."
"Dimension? The mirror world?" I hazard a guess.
"No, completely different one. If you choose to cooperate with me then you'll find out about all that."
"One thing, how did you find out Mistake's identity?"
"It was your comment about a pony taking out three weapon experts with his bare hooves. It made me think about the only pony I've ever seen do that and when I replayed the fight in my head Mistake wasn't fast or extremely agile but he just seemed to know what we would do. That's his special talent - prediction from very little or just fragments of information. It's both a blessing and a curse. He's really good at reading ponies other than himself."
"Just from that?" I almost spit out my tea.
"Not... really. I read his journal when the doctors were taking care of him while he was unconscious," Heavy grins, "It's the one Darky bought for him in Ponyville. There are things your book is missing in it but nothing overly important."
Heh, Ponyville, not Ponytown... that's where the smuggler stole it.
"Who is he then? Even if he knew what you would do he shouldn't have been able to take three experts so easily."
"Well, he actually taught Darky EVERYTHING she knows about hoof-to-hoof combat which, no disrespect, isn't too much. He was a drill sargeant when I joined the Guard. I've never been able to beat him during the time he was in the Nightguard and from what I heard he's got plenty of experience in going against staff users while most of us have never fought against somepony of his hoof-to-hoof skill. We were going easy on him anyway because we thought he was just a recruit then. I'd love to spar with him one on one just to see the difference now."
"Wait, Nightguard? He's not a batpony."
"He changed a LOT," Heavy snickers as if remembering something, "Long story again."
"Damn, that saying is getting annoying."
"You're in luck then. There's a way for you to read about it."
"Less cryptic, please."
"I know where Mistake's original journal is. The one he kept until the end of the second invasion."
"The whole unofficial name is mirror invasion led by king Sombra."
"Yeah. Unfortunately, Mistake is the only one who knows exactly what happened when Sombra suddenly disappeared in the Crystal Empire and the Everfree Forest portal closed."
"So he plans to open it again? Why?"
"I don't know. From what I understand from the entries in your book it seems that for some reason Sombra is locked inside him and is threatening to get out. The problem is that the only pony I can think of that might know more is Darky who seems to have forgotten everything about him with the help of Void."
"Is it the alicorn?"
Heavy raises his eyebrows.
His unspoken question comes through.
"I met him and some others back in the Empire. The name is all I know. He didn't seem like a bad guy though. He said he did regret doing something."
"I don't know him too much either but I think Darky does. Whether or not we should confront her is a different question which we should ask after you do what I want you to do."
"Mistake's original journal is in Darky's possession but I don't know where exactly it is. The real problem is that I can't just visit her apartment and start looking for it. She's a pretty good liar and would see through me as soon as I opened my mouth."
"You want me to steal it?"
"Just like you stole her necklace."
"You know about it?"
"I saw you. The symbol on the necklace is Mistake's old cutie mark so I let it go because I knew he had something to do with it."
"Yes, it saved my life yesterday after the party."
"Something I should know about?"
"I'm wanted by the Legion and there's a bounty on my head."
"Thanks. Why can't you just ask Choking to give you the journal?"
"Now that's the problem. I can, but what would it lead to? Mistake wrote it was her choice to forget and until I know why or what exactly happened I'd like to avoid drawing attention to it."
"Any idea how I should go about doing it?"
"Darky is a heavy sex addict. She can't go long without bringing a random stranger to bed. Fortunately for you, at certain point she'll hump anything that moves no matter gender or race. By the way, a friendly warning, if you EVER try to use that against her I will break all your limbs and send you back to the Empire for free."
He's not kidding. The underlying irony of him trying to protect her by lying to her and using me is something to appreciate though.
"What does she like?"
"Sex, no questions asked, no strings attached. Screw her silly, go through her apartment."
"You're a good friend," I say, sarcasm dripping from every word.
He just sighs.
"I wish her the best. I wish you good luck in solving your Legion problem. I wish Mistake finds happiness and respect for himself one day. Wishing doesn't help though. I have to do what I think is the best and bear the consequences myself."
"You're one twisted group of friends."
"Just wait till you read Mistake's journal."
"All right, how much time do we have?"
"No idea. The travel time from Canterlot to Pine Hills and then to the castle of two sisters is about a day. Everything depends on how long it will take Guiding Light to find a way to open the portal."
"Why don't we just wait for him in the Everfree and stop him?"
"That would probably be the best but... the thing is that Mistake usually knows what he's doing and... SHIT!"
"He doesn't! He still thinks princess Luna is out to get him."
Heavy rubs his temples.
"We need to keep Darky out of this for now. You get the journal, I'll think about what to tell princess Luna and, more importantly, WHEN to tell her. I have to find out what happens when the portal opens and if we can allow Mistake to do it."
"Just so I understand it correctly, you're going to negotiate with the princess the possibility of Equestria getting invaded again while my job is to get a sex-crazed mare to bed, right?"
"Funny, I still think I've got the easy part," Heavy grins, "Remember, Darky must not find out."
With my next assignment clear, I drink the rest of the tea and leave Heavy's office. I must do it either today or tomorrow and I have no idea what Choking likes. On the other hand, I've never had trouble getting girls in the Empire during the training and deep down the batpony mare shouldn't be much different, right?
Smile for confidence! Done.
Girls and mares, they all want the griffon D.
Later that evening...
[Linked Book Entry]
Guiding was able to work something out that should work for me. Opening the portal is the easy part though, keeping it open is the hard one. The main obstacle will be that as soon as I open the portal all princesses will be alerted to it. Guiding told me Luna and Twilight weren't able to block the influence of the Tree of Harmony on connecting the worlds so they just set up magical wards to keep ponies away from the portal site but Sombra should be easily able to take care of those.
What bugs me is that I'm using his knowledge to try to destroy him and he's helping. That either means he's got his own agenda or that he doesn't believe I can succeed. There's one pony in the mirror world who should be on my side in this and that's unicorn Twilight Sparkle who should be currently ruling Equestria. She might not have the power of the Element of Magic anymore but she should have enough knowledge to tell me what to do next.
Alright, let's just go through the instructions one last time and open the portal. A small rift might possibly be enough to give me time to reach her before Luna or whoever is watching this place closes it. If not then this entire problem will solve itself because Luna will just blow me up and this time she'll make sure I don't get up again. That way I'll never get to see Chokey...
...forget about her.
I will either find a way to separate Sombra from myself or Luna will kill both of us. This is a win-win situation.