Heart Of Black Ice

Packing: Too Much To Handle

All enemies are gone and I can rest at long last. There might be some aftermath and there might not. Well, there will surely be but it's not my fight anymore. There are other problems I'll have to deal with but they are minor.

Blindness, future... all those are meaningless. Crom, Chokey, and Heavy are alive and well, Equestria is temporarily safe, thanks to the offer of military assistance from mirror Twilight, and the royal sisters can deal with anything mundane.

Finally, my tomorrow doesn't matter.

It was a normal day in the Griffon Empire. Black Ops were plotting taking over the entire world, normal citizens were terrified of possible pony invasion, and in one small border fortress situated on the Imperial coastline a commander of said garrison was clutching a pen in his talons and filling out a form requesting more supplies of toilet paper. Well, someone had to do it and if that was the worst thing today had in store for the griffon then he would be happy.

Do I really have to continue that line of thought? I doubt it.

The first new problem came with the knocking on the door of his office which interrupted his zen-like focus, causing him to twitch his arm and completely screw the entire form up. The second problem, or the same one suddenly getting much worse, came in the form of a griffon opening said door without waiting for the commander's permission. Before the fortress leader could start yelling at the disruptive intruder he fortunately had the presence of mind to look up from the paper ripped into pieces by his claws first.

The insult sending the entering griffon to evaluate the potential usage of toilet paper after chilli night stopped before leaving the commander's beak. The entering griffon was wearing the official black jacket with golden embroidery belonging to the Imperial Secret Service meaning that if the commander said something inappropriate the Black Ops agent could have had HIM gather all the information about bathroom accessories including their taste... after being used. Freeing the talons stuck in the wooden workdesk, the commander stood up and saluted.

"What brings you here, sir?"

The Black Ops griffon smiled widely at the commander's barely concealed rage.

"Agent Pranks, at your service. I come bearing ill news for the area under your watch. According to our intelligence, there will be a group of possible Equestrian spies arriving to your region in about a week."

The commander paled. So the rumors were true... ponies repelled the griffon attack and wanted revenge.

"F-for what reason, sir?"

"Officially, just a vacation. Unofficially... we're not sure but one of them is a unicorn potentially on the power level of Equestrian princesses."

"WHAT?" the commander jumped and his wings swiped everything from his desk, "We're not equipped to deal with that! What do you want us to do? Wait... aren't you supposed to have some ID or something?"

The agent scowled.

"You don't need to see any ID," he looked the commander into his eyes.

The terrified griffon behind the desk shook his head and rubbed his temples.

"I don't need... what were you saying, sir? I must have dazed off for a second there, too much patrolling to do, not enough soldiers."

"Keep an eye on the spies, they might attract attention of someone else. If they prove a threat then capture or kill them."

"But how, sir? I mean... magic."

"A distraction and a bullet from behind works on everyone, magic or not. Capture and interrogation is preferred though, don't be afraid of using some mild torture just to push them over the edge."

"What does that mean, sir?"

"I want to see him break again, heh... that was fun."

"What?"

"Nothing. Get on with it!"

"Yes, sir."

Smiling to himself, agent Pranks left the office. Finding a toy that wouldn't break after one use was so difficult these days.

Back in the office, the commander stood and watched the small coast town under his guard through a conveniently placed window. He wasn't too scared of ponies, unlike most uneducated citizens, because the little town was called Golden Sands and served mostly as a luxury holiday resort for wealthy patrons. Species didn't matter after all, only gold did.

Cursing to noone in particular, the commander stepped out of his office to take a short break. He wasn't in the mood to abuse the poor guard staring blankly at the wall and ignoring him so he just knocked on his helmet.

"Up for some chocolate milk, private?"

"Huh? Sorry, sir, blanked out for a second there. Thank you for the offer but no, I hate that stuff."

"Funny... so do I. I just feel like I should give it another try for some reason. If the Black Ops guy comes again tell him I'm grabbing a drink."

"Black Ops guy?" the private asked but didn't get an answer.

Humming to himself, the commander left for the mess hall.

Entering the protected laboratory in the Canterlot castle dungeons, I look around just to see bits and pieces of projects in progress making me think the owner of this place is interested in EVERYTHING. Speaking of the owner, Twilight Sparkle is currently breathing heavily and staring at a blue-maned black unicorn with twitching ears looking in my direction with faded pink eyes. Twilight's frown tells me the experiments she wanted to perform on Mistake didn't go too well.

"Hello, your Highness. You sent for me?" I ask the purple alicorn princess.

"Hi, Crom!" Mistake waves at me. The gesture is a bit off but the heart is there and that's what counts.

"Yes, I'm done. Tell your friend I hate him," Twilight groans at Mistake's amused snort hidden behind a hoof.

"I'm blind, not deaf, your Highness," the unicorn's grin fades when he says that and he 'looks' at the tiled floor.

Mistake, me, and Darky returned from Manehattan yesterday and princess Luna spent her day interrogating the other two while I went home and had a rest. I didn't feel that bad about it because, to be honest, Darky and Mistake have known each other for way longer and actually had an idea what happened while I was basically trying not to die while facing way more magic than a simple griffon ever should.

"What were you doing here anyway?" I try not to laugh at the disgruntled alicorn princess wearing a lab coat and the black unicorn whose coat is really nicely contrasting with the pink socks and a scarf he's wearing. He spent his first night blind at Darky's place so she had the honor of putting something to protect him from winter on and this is how it ended. Not that he looks bad in it, pink just doesn't fit his... personality.

Princess Twilight waves to one of many workbenches on which something very similar to the husks I fought in the mirror world lies. On closer examination there are noticeable differences but it still seems to be a pony made of metal and cables. It doesn't have anything resembling a mane or a tail but the grey steel plates imitate pony shape quite nicely.

"I'm building a robotic pony capable of independent thinking, it's not going too well. Your friend was just lending a hoof with some magic dampening experiments."

"Didn't work? I thought Mistake was practically immune to magic."

"HE IS! That's the problem. I can't perform tests on him when he disperses anything I can throw at him with a single thought."

"Actually, I have to know how you are building the spell to disassemble it. If you use a process I can't identify in time your magic will work just fine. From what Betty told me earthpony ancestry itself doesn't grant you even minor magic resistance"

"I know, princess Luna told me about your encounter when her old bodyguard was trying to stop you. The thing is that even she has trouble using spells against you. Nevermind, I'll just have to find a better testing method. Thank you for the help anyway, I think I'll be able to use some energy crystals to allow the robopony absorb small amounts of magic if necessary."

"No problem, your Highness."

"Just call me Twilight. By the way, sorry for not being able to help you with your eyes."

"It's okay, princess. I'll just have to buy a thick bumper and hang it on my neck."

"I've got the leash right here," I interject and grin at Mistake's immediate blush, "I might even make you wear it at home."

Twilight's horn shoots out sparks and her wings burst out with an audible 'pomf'. Mistake's face could now melt the steel of the workbench.

"Well, ehm, good. As per our arrangement I'll persuade princess Luna you deserve something for your efforts in Manehattan," Twilight pushes both of us out of the lab, "Now go! I need to do some research... alone... right now."

The door slams shut and I fasten the leash to the choker around Mistake's neck. Tugging at it carefully, I slowly lead the unicorn through the castle halls.

"I didn't need eyes to see that wingboner," Mistake comments.

"Let the young princess enjoy her pony on griffon fantasy. Too much time locked up down here can't be healthy. Speaking of which, how are you feeling? We didn't have any time to talk since Manehattan."

Aside from the show I gave the other recruits I had to attend Heavy's training session and Darky led Mistake to Twilight's lab. I gotta admit two hours of physical training have never felt so long.

Mistake sighs, something he does way too much for being so young.

"Terrified, Cro. I've never wanted to be a bother and that's all I am now."

...useless trash...

Was I the only one who heard the whisper?

"Nonsense, buddy. It's gonna get better, it always does," I realize I'm telling it to a unicorn whose life got gradually darker until this point. I cough, "I'll take care of you as long as you need it."

"I don't want to- to bring you down. I'm just-"

...a cripple...

"No!" I quickly interrupt him. Does the air suddenly feel colder? "It's just the first day, that's all. You've been through so much dumb stuff that this is literally nothing and I'll stay by your side."

"-"

"No, shut up, I'm not done!" something about the situation frightens me and I can't help raising my voice, "I know you and I know you are your worst enemy. I know none of what I'm going to say will get into that thick skull of yours but I have to say it anyway. I WILL be by your side, I WILL help you, and I WILL get you through this even if it means carrying you day after day on my back. Heck, at least Heavy's physical exercise will be a bit more challenging. Just, please, stop resisting."

I know how meaningless saying it is... I'll just have to show you, honey.

Mistake takes a step forward, slips on the frozen cobblestones, and plants his face into the snow.

"Sorry," he mumbles.

...for being an idiot...

He's not saying it so what is it?

The chilly air of the evening suddenly seems to warm up a little.

"-I'm just not used to things being like this. I've always tried to avoid ponies but things just kept happening. I suppose I'll have to come to terms with having somepony who actually likes me around."

"That's the spirit, buddy," I tug at the leash and wrap a wing around his back, enjoying every muscle movement under his coat, "We're almost home and all I want is to have a shower and curl into bed. You're welcome to join at any point."

He nuzzles my neck.

"Glad you're... well, you. Thanks for keeping me around."

"Can't leave the big hero hanging. Well," I look at the unicorn just over half of my size, "small and cuddly hero."

At least he seems to have cheered up a little.

...until you find somepony better...

Or not.

This is going to be difficult.

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