Gathering Storm: Allies
Steps echoed through the high, white and gold decorated, hall of the throne room in the Holy City. At this time of the day there was noone allowed inside and the Emperor was alone with his thoughts. Not many griffons have ever seen someone of the imperial bloodline but those who knew the Emperor in person weren't surprised by his appearance.
In the old days the griffon rulership was given to those with power and leader's charisma and the tradition survived even to the present. Despite some nobles disputing the decision to keep the leadership of the Empire in one bloodline they couldn't ignore one key thing - the imperial family wasn't so weak it couldn't compete with external influences concerning the Imperial leaderhip and had to forcibly keep the title within. They kept the Emperor title because, simply, they bred and raised the best of the best to lead their country.
The one most suited to becoming the leader became the Emperor while the other sons had the choice to either serve the Empire further in the Black Ops or get stripped of their ruling rights, given a nobility title of their choice, and be free to live their lives as they saw fit.
The tall, grey griffon on the throne was a warrior, no amount of soft clothes of the highest quality could hide that fact. He wasn't a clerk, he wasn't a politician, and he wasn't a strategist. He had those of such necessary skills serving under him. He was a shining beacon to all those who followed him, he was their morale, he was their banner, and he was the symbol of their unity.
He was also staring in utter disgust at agent Pranks smiling at him from behind one of the white pillars on the sides of of the long hall.
"Who are you?" the Emperor asked the intruder.
"I doubt you really care so let me be direct," Pranks put his talons together, "Your little Empire is in danger and I want to know how far you are willing to go to protect it."
"I will do anything to keep my griffons safe," proclaimed the Emperor proudly.
"Good to know. Well, there's a massive army gathering in Zebrica which will invade Equestria given enough time. With pony military being in complete disarray you have the only force capable of stopping things before they get out of hand."
"And I should care because...?" the Emperor raised his talons.
"If Equestria falls then your supernatural protection will also fall and no amount of technology and brute force will help you then."
"You are not a secret service member," the Emperor narrowed his eyes.
"And you are not a typical bird brain, kitty. So, do I have your support in this matter?"
The Emperor's laughter echoed through the empty throne room.
"I do not care about your agenda. I do not know how you got here and who you are but get out of my sight! The Empire will stand strong against any enemy. The Empire will break the sides weakened by war and spread to Equestria. The Empire will-"
Blood began streaming from the Emperor's beak as Pranks appeared in front of him without moving and stabbed a thin stilleto right into his neck.
"The Empire," agent Pranks grinned evilly, "will be leaderless for a while. As they say, the strong prey on the weak and your bad decision has just made you the weak link."
The Emperor's stamina and tenacity was admirable as he moved his arms and gripped Pranks' neck tightly. Pranks didn't flinch and stared the Emperor directly in his eyes.
"If you're not with me than you are against me, you old fart," Pranks grunted, "We can't have a second evil army messing everything up, can we? So, we'll get the Black Ops to cooperate and temporarily rule this land while they find someone not so... set in his ways. That, or I can just gut you in front of the palace and shatter your Empire with only few cuts. You know that EVERYONE will want a piece of the fertile land once your ruling arm is gone. What'll it be, birdie? Either you tell me the name of someone more peaceful and smarter than you or this land will enjoy some delicious war and chaos."
The Emperor groaned.
"What was it? Didn't really hear you over all that blood gushing out."
"Vargaz," the Emperor's eyes glazed over, "Find agent Vargaz."
Pranks let the Emperor's body slump on the delicately crafted floor tiles.
"I knew griffons didn't go for stupid leaders."
"AAAAAAAIGEEEREREFRAGHR-BERGHIR MAERGHIN!" Choking Darkness cursed as lightning rushed through her body and left her smoking slightly on the floor of princess Luna's Canterlot office.
"I had no idea you spoke the old tongue," Luna smiled, "although I do not approve your choice of words."
Choking twitched and few sparks jumped between her stiff mane and the carpet. When her eyes finally rolled back and become more than just white blanks she stood back up and sneezed.
"Sharpie went through all that as well?" she shook her head again to get rid of the feeling that her brain was melting out of her ears.
"Yes, although with less severity and much less swearing."
"I believe my tits were shooting lightning for a while there. I thought the horseshoes focused the magic themselves."
"Of course not, the horseshoes are just meteoric iron with your blood caked into it. You have to feel them and use them to focus your energy. Don't worry, it took Sharp Biscuit several months to learn to use them correctly. You seem to be harnessing a lot of raw power though."
Choking couldn't get rid of the rush of magic coursing through her body. It was like flying but faster, so much faster. She wanted to try again and not only because every time she fell on the carpet her crotch left a damp spot. First of all, she needed all the power she could get to be able to protect herself and everypony around her. The second reason? The flow of energy felt so damn gooooood.
Raising her hooves in front of her and standing on her hind legs, she felt her core get warmer and warmer unil the heat and fullness in her every vein was unbearable and screamed:
Small bolts of lightning reaching few inches out of Choking's horseshoes lit the dark office and made Luna's mane slightly wobble with static electricity.
"Very limited," Luna raised an eyebrow, watching the mare pointing her hooves at Luna's face with an expression of indecisiveness between insanity and orgasm.
Few moments later Choking's legs gave up on her effort to look evil and she slumped on Luna's carpet with a wet squelch. Luna sniffed the air.
"It smells like a house of moderately priced affection in here. I dread the gossip the cleaning maids will spread about me. Still, she learns rather quickly."
The paperwork ordering the draft of everypony between the age of eighteen and twenty-five still burned Luna inside. Of course it wasn't her sister's fault this thing got through the legislation process. Somepony just got news of a possible unrest and wanted to use the law against her sister to portray her as a ruler sending foals to war.
She smiled to herself and her horn glowed. The official document burst in flames and disappeared into a heap of ash.
"You are very useful, miss Darkness, although you lack self-control. I might even have to punish you for ruining such an important piece of legislation."
Luna slid her hoof across Choking's crotch and sent a small bolt of electricity through. Choking smiled, twitched, and her tongue lolled out of her mouth.
"Consider yourself punished."
With that, Luna teleported out of her office into her private suite in the castle and walked straight into the bathroom. A long shower was in order. As the steaming water flowed through her coat she realized she was going to need allies. Allies didn't always mean friends though. Money bought mercenaries but some mercenaries worked for different currency as well.
Perhaps it was time to stop dwelling on details and admit her fault. Still sitting in the spacious tub, she focused on a quill in the main room which began writing.
Her head hurt. Her head hurt so much. The nice pony wasn't around. The weird pony was making noises. Truth be told, he didn't look much like the nice pony. The nice pony's colours were dim and didn't hurt her eyes like the weird one's did. She also liked when the nice pony nuzzled and hugged her from time to time. The weird one's strange sharp muzzle was hard when she tried to boop him and he recoiled at the touch. The feathers on his head felt cold unlike the dark pony's fur.
She didn't like the new pony. He made a lot of noises in too high pitch, jumped around a lot which made her head hurt even more, and laughed. Not in the nice way like the dark pony did. The nice pony made quiet noises and rubbed her ears while the weird one pointed at her and laughed over and over while making more noises.
Where did the nice pony go?
Moving was difficult but she managed. Sometimes she moved too fast and bumped into things. The nice pony always smiled at her and led her at her pace where she wanted to go. She loved when the nice pony made pictures move around, especially the one where a smaller black pony was eating something brown and crunchy a gold pony gave him. She could never look at the picture for long because her vision became blurry but the nice pony didn't mind and showed her more pictures. He was in some of them, most of the time alone but sometimes with the gold pony.
The weird pony was yelling at her now. The pain from her head now pulsated in her bones as well. She laid down on the soft red carpet and covered her head with her legs.
She was scared and wished the nice pony would come back.
The weird pony knocked on her head and rolled his eyes. She felt dizzy as the stream of noises never seemed to stop coming from her companion. She felt connections grow slowly and began to recognize the noises he kept repeating.
Words, those were called words. The nice pony used words as well, one more often than others. She tried to make that noise, perhaps it would make him come back.
"...Creamy," she croaked and looked at the weird pony who stopped making her head hurt.
She repeated the word few times and the ringing in her head stopped. It still hurt, even more than before, but she could recognize the noises the weird pony made.
"Come on! I've been here for an hour! You know what is an hour to a dog? It's like seven hours and I'm partly one... or whatever the griffons are. They look as if a lion tried to eat a chicken and it got stuck in its throat."
"Many... words," she shook her head but that just made it worse.
"Oh my god... well, oh my me then," the weird pony slapped his face with his leg... arm... hoof... no hoof, pointy.
Why would he do that? Didn't it hurt?
"It's like scrambled eggs in there, a complete chaos. Of course, not as high-quality as I'd have made but it's a start. You know? I would have made you a chicken, just to see Void fume, not an unthinking blob of flesh and fur."
Void... that was the nice pony. Did the weird pony know why he'd left?
"Not here, my braindead pony, which is a good thing-"
She didn't believe him for a second. Void being here was good. He was nice, he protected her...
"-otherwise he would tear me a new one. Seriously, that alicorn has some real trust issues."
She focused on what was making her legs tremble. Void was protecting her from something. Something dark not in colour but in existence.
"Void... good. You... speak... bad... of him. You bad."
"Well, that's rich coming from you. You were the one who tried to kill everything alive just to teach Celestia a lesson."
The nice... Void had never told her about that but it did spark something. The spark was raw hatred aimed at the name Celestia. It faded fast. Void was a nice pony. Void liked her. She was a nice pony then.
The weird pony wasn't lying though. She remembered something - Void being angry at her and her cowering before him. She had been bad but Void had forgiven her. She was a nice pony for him.
Yes, she became a nice pony. She tried to help him, help those who helped him find his way back to her. She had helped, she had protected a secret, a key to Void's location. A bad pony had asked her and she hadn't told her anything. She fought but the bad pony called upon her bad dreams, nightmares. She fought Nightmare Moon and almost won. She was proud of such feat - standing up to a god and going even. She was proud that her sacrifice gave Void the chance to almost destroy Nightmare Moon.
The air in the cavern crackled with enough magic to give Twilight Sparkle an eternal wingboner and make Luna reevaluate how weak a mage she truly was.
She was a powerful, proud, lustful, and greedy alicorn.
Her name was Scream and what she wanted RIGHT NOW the most was her beloved pet.
"Discord..." she looked sternly at the griffon smiling widely at her, "What do you want?"
"Oh? Can't poor old me just help a friend of a friend?" the griffon currently known to few inhabitants of the Griffon Empire as agent Pranks clutched his chest, "I am hurt, HURT that you could even suggest-"
"I am the alicorn of Lust and Desire, not Patience, and I can feel your need. It must be something serious if you can't do it yourself."
"Alright, I admit I have a desire I cannot fulfill myself. I wish to give the poor mortals currently in grave danger a fighting chance but I'm not sure how. I need your second sight."
"You know the rules. Ask and I will answer as long as you pay the price."
"I believe I may have given you enough for now?" agent Pranks bowed.
Scream's eyes glowed bright green and in turn did Discord's. His griffon disguise shattered before the alicorn who could see into the deepest and darkest corners of hearts and drag out the hidden desires of all creatures.
Discord saw a horde of undead, slaves, and nightmarish abominations cross the ocean from Zebrica to Equestria. He saw what little defending forces of ponies and griffons there were in the future. He saw his gambit in the Empire paying off even more than he'd expected. He saw friends fighting against friends.
He saw utter chaos but for the first time he wasn't happy. The chaos was way too short-lived and what followed was emptiness... and boredom.
Finally the vision turned white as it passed through frozen wastes north of the Crystal Empire where minotaur tribes celebrated their new warlord who would unite them into a nation and upon whose efforts a new culture would be built. The warlord who would take the land of ponies by storm and crush their last stand against the armies of darkness. The Dark Prophet.
The vision moved to show the warlord up close...
...and failed. The image became blurred and the entire vision ended. Discord was once again faced with the sight of an alicorn whom any creature would consider the most desirable being in existence.
"Hmmmm," Discord put his griffon disguise back on and rubbed his temples.
"Anyhing else?" Scream asked impatiently.
"Meh, your magic sucks. I still have to think how... to... " he drifted off.
His sudden outburst of laughter only made Scream raise an eyebrow but he ignored her and disappeared.
Scream focused. Her head still hurt but there remained the main matter of importance. The world could go screw itself but she wanted to screw somepony else right here and now.
Void's unicorn form appeared back in the mountaintop cave and looked around in confusion. He was painfully small compared to Scream's alicorn size.
"What the infinity?" his ears perked.
"Welcome home, Voidie," Scream grinned widely, "Bed. Now!"
Agent Pranks reappeared back in the Holy City. He wasn't sure how to tip the scales in his favor any more. The mortals and immortals were going to clash and he could only hope it would work out the way he wanted.
It was time to find agent Vargaz and see why the dead Emperor wanted him to.