It had been two days since their spat in the woods, the hedgehog continued to provide the pegasus with shelter, protection form roving forest patrols and kept a fresh supply of apples for her to eat. Now she was able to walk, trot and run without any pain. Her wing was still mending, but the throbbing pain was gone, she estimated it wouldn't be long before she would be flying. She would have been a lot more enthusiastic about the whole ordeal if the blue hedgehog's melancholy attitude hadn't lifted since their fight. Gone was his ever present cocky grin, his cheesy one-liners, jokes and puns that he seemed to laugh at more than she did. He hadn't even spoken much, outside of general small talk and checking on her progress, he seemed to mull about secluding himself by the mouth of the cave. Even though they had just met Rainbow Dash didn't have to be Twilight Sparkle to see there was something wrong with him.
"So...uhh,"The Pegasus said trotting to his side by the mouth of the cave. He was sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees looking out into the horizon seeing the faint glow coming from behind the mountains in the distance. "You watching Celestia?"
"Hmm?" he grunted not taking his eyes mountain range. "No, I was watching the sunset."
"That's what I meant goofball," Rainbow Dash said playfully. "It's her job to raise and lower the sun."
The hedgehog turned to her with a raised questioning eyebrow. "It's someone's job to raise the sun?"
"Man, you aren't from around here are you?" She noticed as the hedgehog quickly look down at his feet. The blue pegasus rested on her rear haunches next to him. "You've been pretty quiet since the woods; would you like to talk about it?"
"Might make you feel better."
"Might make me feel worse."
"Alright buddy look," Rainbow Dash said flatly. "You've been taking care of me the past couple days and I know a purple unicorn back home that would kick me into next week if I didn't try to help you out."
"Yeah, Unicorn, but don't change the subject. You're gonna tell me what's going on and I bet you'll feel better once it's off your chest."
The blue hedgehog sighed, stood up and stretched then sat back down and looked the pegasus in her magenta eyes. "Alright, you wanna know. Fine, I let all my friends down, every last one of them." He said as he buried his head. "There was a war, a long, hard war that me and my friends fought against a man who would destroy our world to see it rebuilt as he saw fit. They believed in me, trusted me to protect them. I was their hero…" He brought his head up and even through the lighting was poor and dim, Dash saw tears begin to fall from his eyes. "Then I let them down. I let them down and it cost them their lives."
"Whoa," Rainbow Dash's eyes were wide; this guy's past was a bit darker than what she thought. Twilight might know what to say, but she was at a loss for words. "Look if you don't want to say any more-" She said as she went rub his back with her hoof. But he leapt up in anger at her touch, his fist balled tightly as he continued on.
"He attacked us late one evening, like a thief in the night, a coward under the cover of darkness. He burned our houses down, destroyed our castle, and killed my friends, some of them died right before my eyes and I was powerless to stop him. A few escaped, most didn't, but in the end it was just me and him. I fought him and he beat me, but didn't finish me. He said he wanted me to live with the shame of that night."
"Hey, listen, I didn't think…" Rainbow Dash tried to interrupt him, she was feeling a sickening pit deep in her chest as she saw rivers of tears pour down his face, but it was useless and it seemed as if he didn't hear her.
"My friends that had escaped the attack, they helped me into hiding, and we decided all was lost, so we decided to leave our world behind, and we built a doorway to another world that we could be safe in, and I sent them away. One by one I watched my friends leave, but I stayed. I had too, I had to settle the score. I went and faced the tyrant one more time, but I was defeated again. I should be dead, but then..."
"Shadow," He answered solemnly. "He didn't jump through portal, he knew what I had planned and he stayed. Just as I was about to be put down he intervened and used his powers to teleport me here. He tried to tell me to forget about the past and to start a new life."
"Tried…what do you mean, what happened to him?"
Sonic slumped back down next to her, "I don't know, I passed out shortly after he teleported me, he was hurting real bad, but when I woke up he was gone. He might not have been my best friend but he was the last one I had left and he's gone too." He buried his head between he's knees again and sobbed.
Rainbow Dash felt terrible, Twilight always said it was better not to keep things bottled up, but now they both felt terrible. She tried to think of something to make things better, but what could you say to someone who had lost everything? She couldn't think of what it would be like to lose all her friends. She scooted next to him and wrapped her good wing around him and just sat.
"Hmm, the one on the left looks a little small…"Spitfire commented disapprovingly at the pack of wolves that was being assigned to escort their team in their rescue mission. There were five of them but one of them, though taller than her, was shorter than the red stallion that had forced his way on their journey.
"Don't complain, he was only one who volunteered to be a part of this pack." A tired looking older hyena responded as he signed off that the pack had been attached to the group of ponies. "All the others I had to yank at random, wolves don't like too be far from the front. Besides, look at the bright side, he probably won't eat as much as the others. You need a copy of this form?"
Spitfire rolled her eyes at the hyena, "File it and try not choke on the paperwork you ole' mutt." She said wryly. They hyena chuckled and set about his business as Spitfire turned and trotted over to the wolves. Looking them over they all looked capable, except for the small one who looked like he'd just been weaned off his mother. Taking a deep breath she addressed them all. "Alright listen up, who's in charge?"
The wolves were all busy doing their own things, The short one who was sharpening his sword that looked like it had been fresh issued from the armory at least stopped and looked at her. Two others were arm wrestling; the other two were having a discussion about females from their hometowns. None of them answered her. Spitfire swore angrily under her breath, these were definitely not her Wonderbolts. She realized things were going to require a bit more effort.
"You," she said trotting over to the small wolf who was the only one who gave her any eye contact and leaned close to him. With a strong stern voice spoke to him, "Who's in charge?"
"Uhh," The young wolf squirmed under her glare. His head slightly turned as he looked to see that his fellows wolves were all glaring daggers back at him.
Spitfire noticed this and moved to drive her point. She pushed his face back to face her with her hoof and pressed closer. Now there gazes were locked at an inch or two apart. "Listen and listen good pup. I'm going to ask you one more time. Who. Is. Your. Alpha." She demanded emphasizing her last three words with sharp jabs of her hoof to his chest.
"Milo!" The young wolf yipped and pointed to the largest wolf in the group. "Milo's the alpha!"
"Shut up you runt!" The big one rushed forward and yanked him from his seat by the scruff of his neck drawing a painful yelp as he suspended him a foot in the air with one hand. "What did we say about whelps talking?!" He bellowed as he threw him down to the floor.
"Typical," Spitfire said loud enough to draw their attention. "Of course the biggest, stupidest one here is the alpha."
"What was that mule?" The one called Milo snarled as he turned his attention Spitfire. "What in Fenrir's name did you just say to me cart puller!?"
Spitfire smirked and with frightening agility leapt at him as hard and fast as she could, smashing her head directly into his snout. The wolf yelped as blood spurted from his nostrils. Before he was able to regain his senses Spitfire spun and bucked him hard with both legs right in his abdomen. The wolf collapsed to the ground swiftly as the wind was knocked out of him and sent him gasping for air. Smiling at her work, Spitfire walked on top of him and sat on her haunches on his chest facing the rest of the group.
"Listen up, Milo is not the alpha here…I am your alpha. I am Captain Spitfire. You do what I say, and you do it my way. If you have any issues, feel free to take it up with Milo here. You get me?"
The wolves all mumbled compliance.
"YOU GET ME!?"
"Yes Ma'am!" they yelled back.
"Alright then, what are your names?"
The wolves all nervously shifted around each other not sure of what to do.
"I SAID SOUNDOFF!" Spitfire roared.
"Umm," the little wolf muttered drawing a glare from Spitfire. "I, I don't have one."
"What?" Spitfire questioned in disbelief.
"Whelp hasn't earned a name yet," the one called Dreyfus explained. "Packs gotta give him one, but you earn it battle, pup hasn't fought yet."
"Whatever," Spitfire sighed as she shook her head at the notion; wolves were way more violent than ponies. What happened to loving parents thinking of the perfect name for their new born? "You gotta nickname then pup?"
"Foxtrot," the Comet yelled out through a forced cough.
"Foxtrot huh?" Spitfire said as she eyed him up. "Odd name for a wolf."
The other wolves all chuckled.
"Did I say something funny?!" she yelled out at the outburst
"No Ma'am!" they all yelled back.
Spitfire smiled as she polished her hoof on her breast plate and blew on it. 'I still got it.'
"Now just step back and let us look at you dear," Rarity exclaimed as she put the finishing touches on her latest creation. "Oooh, you look simply marvelous dear! Wouldn't you agree Applejack?"
"Land sakes, I didn't think this was good idea at first, but Rarity, you done spruced up those old duds something purty! Big Mac whatcha you think of your old armor now?"
The oversized Stallion looked into the vanity mirror that was in front him and couldn't believe his eyes. His armor used to be old and rusty at the joints, now it gleamed brightly. When he had tried it on in his room he noticed it chaffed him a little, he figured it was nothing but Applejack had insisted that Rarity take a look at it. Before he knew it, she was taking measurements and whisking him in and out of fitting rooms that she had constructed around the airship. However, all the fuss was worth it as now he stood covered in the heavy armor of the Equestrian Calvary without any issues. Rarity even constructed a giant apple half made of emerald and fashioned it to his breastplate. Even he had to admit he looked good. He was completely plated except for small gaps at the joints and a decorative gap in his helmet that allowed for sight. His armor was far heavier and thicker than that of the Wonderbolts, but as an earth pony, he had no need to worry about flight and protection was more important as he was built to be in the thick of the fight. He may not have fought during his time with the Equestrian Calvary, but he would do anything he could to protect Applejack and her friends, especially...
"Oh my," a soft, meek voice came from behind Rarity. The three of them turned to see that Fluttershy had trotted in to see her designer friend but was caught off guard by Big Mac in his full battle dress. At the sight of the shy yellow pegasus he puffed up his chest and came to attention, trying to stand as tall and proud as he could. However, instead of being impressed at the sight, Fluttershy shivered not realizing it was Big Mac in the armor, turned and bolted out of the room, immediately causing him sag in defeat, a sight not unnoticed by his younger sister.
"Don'tcha worry Macintosh," She whispered to him so Rarity couldn't hear. "She'll come around, you'll see."
Big mac let out a sigh and trotted out of the room, his heavy footsteps amplified by the weight of the armor. As he rounded the corner he stopped dead in his tracks as Pinkie Pie dropped down from the ceiling in front of him.
"Hiya Big Mac!" she called out in her usual hyper self. "That's a pretty sweet looking costume; did Rarity make it for you? Of course she did what other pony could make an absolutely awesome looking costume like that? Why are you wearing that costume? Are you going to a costume party?! I LOVE COSTUME PARTIES!!"
Big Mac hurriedly wheeled around and began rushing in the opposite way down the hall before Pinkie Pie could drive him crazy with her rambling, until he felt something collide against his chest with a loud thud. Unfortunately, in his rush to escape Pinkie he ran into Spitfire who was walking the opposite way, knocking her to the ground. Realizing what he'd done his heart began to race; she already had expressed her disapproval of his tagging along and now this.
"Oooooo…You're in trouble!" Pinkie Pie said in a sing song voice before disappearing out of sight as Spitfire got back on her hooves. Rubbing her head, where she hit him.
"Why don't you look were you're going you…you…really, really big pony you." She said slowly changing her tone from threating to shock as her gaze kept getting higher and higher before she met Big Mac's eyes. "Man they grow them big on the farm don't they? Hmm, you know seeing you in that armor; it might not have been such a bad idea to have you come along." She raised a hoof and knocked on his breast plate hearing a distinct ping of thick, heavy armor, probably three times as thick as hers. "So, you were in the Heavy Calvary?"
"You ever kill anypony before?"
"You're the one who came to protect his little sister right?"
"Stallion of few words huh? I like that." She moved around him and began to trot off to her room. "Tell you what, if you charge into the enemy half as good as you plowed into me, I think we'll get along just fine. Copy that?"
Rainbow Dash woke with a start to the sound of metal banging against the ground. She looked to see it was her own armor being tossed over to her. She quickly shook off sleep and found herself by the front of the cave. She must have fell asleep sitting with the hedgehog. She looked around and saw him loading up a crudely made backpack full of apples he must have picked, and other crudely made tools he must have fashioned since he had been out here. He turned to her and tossed her an apple which she caught and bit into hungrily.
"You ready to rock?"
"You mean leave?"
"Yeah, you're going back."
The blue pegasus stood up and stretched, her wing was much better. "Yeah I guess my wings are up to it, what about you? Looks like you're planning on coming along."
"Look, if Metal's out there then that means," The hedgehog started then changed his line of thought, "I woke up this morning and you had your wing around me. I barely know you and you listened to my story, more importantly you cared about what happened. I've got nothing left, you, you got friends waiting for you. I'm gonna get you home okay. First things first though, we're gonna get your necklace back."
"You want another shot at the guy huh?"
"If Metal's here, than the Doctor can't be far behind."
"What are you gonna do if you run into him?"
Sonic sighed, "Let's just get going okay. I'll figure it out when it happens."
"Well alright, I'd appreciate the company and all, but I gotta be honest with you." She spread her wings with smile. "I'm not sure you'll be able to keep up."
"Fastest flier in Equestria huh?" He said with smile while stretching his legs.
"That's right, everybody knows that!" the pegasus boasted.
"You know, I used to have nickname, you know back where I came from," He said with grin.
"Oh is that so? What was it?"
Sonic's eyes turned to the mouth of the cave just as the sun's morning rays crested the mountains signaling a new dawn. "Let's go little pony, let's see just how fast you are."