Fluttershy slowly trotted through the crowded streets of Buenos Maires on her way to her job. Buildings in the town were cramped closely together, even looking to be stacked on top of each other in places. A pony could easily jump from building to building or jump out of one window through another on the other side of the thin streets. Clotheslines hung between the dirty, rusty buildings, laundry flapping in the light morning breeze. The streets were filled with ponies of all sizes chatting, drinking, and smoking fat cigars. The air smelled of sweat and body odor as the yellow pegasus made her way down the dusty roads, smiling as a group of small colts ran past her playing a game of soccer, or "hoofball" as it was called here.
The sun was beating down on the town particularly hard that day. The heat would have been excruciating for most ponies, though the ponies of the area never seemed to mind much. Though Fluttershy wasn't particularly fond of the heat, she took comfort in the fact that the presence of the blazing sun meant she hadn't managed to hurt Princess Celestia too terribly badly. Reaching the end of a road, Fluttershy found herself at her destination: a construction site.
Since leaving Ponyville and finding herself on the run, Fluttershy had been forced to take up the odd job under assumed names to try and pay for all the equipment she was using to cure herself of the raging monster within her, as well as the basic necessities of food, water, and shelter. Often, however, she found herself forced to do jobs she wasn't particularly fond of. This was one of those times.
Flashing an ID card with her current assumed name, "Louise Ferrigno," to the stallion at the gate, Fluttershy sighed, stuffing earplugs into her sensitive ears and picking up a plank of wood on her back. Fluttershy was a member of the carpentry division at the site, responsible for helping put together all the wooden floorboards, doorways, and internal wooden structures. She wasn't particularly bad at it, but it didn't look like she would be getting the promotion to Carpentry Manager any time soon.
Grabbing a hammer and some heavy duty nails, she got together with her teammates as the group began setting some structural boards into place for the new town courthouse. Toiling away, the sun beating down on her face, Fluttershy let out another soft sigh. This was her life now: Hard labor and the constant threat of turning into a green monster if she ever got out of hand. On top of all that, her special ability to calm and care for any animal, her special talent, had apparently been lost upon that first transformation. Animals would never try and come up to her or show her any kindness anymore. It was as if they all knew about the monster inside and ran at the sight of her. As a result, she couldn't care for them or practice her talents as a veterinarian. In fact the one time she had tried to be a vet again, attempting to work at a large clinic in Manechester, she had accidentally caused another animal stampede which had eventually ended in another "hulking out" as it could be called.
Fluttershy shook her head, pushing the thoughts from her mind. She had the flower now. If she could manage the potential cure that Miss Blue had come up with using her already extensive knowledge of anatomy and medicine she could actually have a chance! She could mix together an antidote and rid herself of her curse! It was within her grasp!
And then, maybe, when all was said and done, she could go back. Maybe her friends could forgive her. Maybe Twilight could even convince the Princess to pardon her and call off Blueblood and his Flutterhulkbusters that had given her so much grief the past few months. She would be able to go home and see her animals again. See her friends Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Twilight, Angel, and Rarity.
She could go home.
A smile graced her face. The simple fact that she had a chance
that she might get to go home for the first time in a year and a half
It was easily enough to make her happier than she had ever been in these past eighteen months. But her happiness didn't last long, as screaming suddenly snapped her out of her reverie.
Fluttershy's first instinct was to run and hide. Try to get out of town. After all, usually when ponies screamed in her vicinity they were screaming at her. It took a moment for Fluttershy to come back down to earth and remember that she hadn't gotten angry and transformed, nor was her heart rate much higher than normal
though the recent startle had brought it up a few points. Taking stock of her surroundings, Fluttershy noticed a stampede of panicked ponies running through the street, screaming in terror from something.
"¡Oso! ¡Oso!" One mare shouted, carrying a small foal on her back.
"Oso?" Fluttershy pondered for a second before she gasped, her eyes suddenly widening. "That means 'Ursa!'"
Sure enough, a bone-chilling roar rang out through the streets at that very moment, shattering windows and causing shingles to fly off of the roof of courthouse they had been constructing. Fluttershy zipped around the incomplete building to find herself staring into the face of an Adolescent Ursa. It was bigger than a Minor, but not old enough yet to be considered a Major yet. It was a different color from the one seen in Ponyville about two years ago; a brighter blue around the face that darkened to a forest green around the eyes specifically and throughout the rest of the body. It's color was of no real consequence at the moment though, as it rampaged down the street, fangs bared, claws raking at the homes and small businesses littering the road and threatening to trample or eat anypony that crossed its path.
Fluttershy's heart rate spiked for a second, but she quickly shook her head and breathed deeply, using some meditation techniques she had learned from a Shaolin master when she found herself in Shanghoof that one time. Taking a few deep breaths, she considered joining the rest of the ponies before quickly ditching that option. Ponies and animals alike were being hurt and nopony seemed to be doing anything! There was almost no police force in Buenos Maires on top of that. Somepony had to put her hoof down.
Fluttershy shook her head again. No. If her heart rate got too high
if she got too angry
She couldn't let that happen! Not when she was so close to her goal! She would just run. Run with the other ponies. Somepony else could take care of it!
"¡Madre! ¡Madre!" A little filly's cry rang out.
Fluttershy turned her head to see a small filly standing over her mother, who had been knocked out by a falling flowerpot from a windowsill in all the commotion. The little foal was shaking her mother desperately trying to wake her up. Meanwhile, the Ursa closed in upon them, it's drooling, stinking maw opening, ready for an early lunch.
No. Nopony was coming. Fluttershy had to do something.
Fluttershy began to gallop, her heart rate rising steadily as she swung in front of the filly and her mother, taking a defensive stance. Fluttershy had lost her ability to comfort animals, true enough, but one ability of hers remained intact. The Stare.
If anything, her stare had been intensified by her sudden ability to scare animals away. It had always been able to "look into a pony's soul" as described by her friends, and it had proven able to strike fear into the heart of an angry dragon and force a cockatrice to change its victims back from stone
something that had no precedent. But now, with its new, added strength, Fluttershy felt it should be able to stop this rampaging Ursa.
At least she hoped it would
Fluttershy planted her hooves firmly on the ground, her heart rate still increasing and a twinge of anger piercing her voice. "You stop right there!" she shouted at the Ursa, her eyes flashing green.
Sure enough, the Ursa stopped in its tracks, though it still towered over Fluttershy and the other ponies. The Ursa roared in response.
"No!" Fluttershy shouted. "You may have big teeth and giant claws and be big enough to swallow a house, but that does not give you any right to rampage into a town and hurt innocent ponies!"
The Ursa began to sweat. Something was wrong with this pony in front of it. It seemed threatening somehow
Dangerous even. Like the small thing could explode at any moment and take out the giant beast.
"Now you march right back into the forest young man, or so help me I will find your mother and get her to spank you from here to the next country!" Fluttershy shouted, her hooves starting to show just the beginnings of a green tint.
Luckily the Ursa had had enough. The stare had taken effect upon the creature and it was bounding as fast as it could back into the dense rainforest surrounding Buenos Maires. Ponies had gathered around Fluttershy in awe as she stood up to the beast and were now cheering and stamping their hooves in applause for her. It was an experience that was certainly foreign for the small pony. Fluttershy quickly brought herself down from the stare, breathing deeply and using the techniques taught to her by her previous master. The green tint in her hooves and eyes quickly vanished as her heart rate descended and she finally took notice of all the ponies crowding around her, blushing to the chorus of "Gracias" and "Fabuloso's." She hadn't been shown such appreciation in so long it was actually kind of
nice. AS much as she didn't tend to like being around large crowds of ponies, this was certainly better than everypony running in fear of her whenever she trotted into town.
Fluttershy blinked in horror. A camera had gone off in her face. That was never a good thing. Prince Blueblood and his army were very vigilant about watching for any sighting or mention of Fluttershy's name. Fluttershy gasped as a newspaper reporter quickly cantered up to her and shoved a tape recorder in her face congratulating her and begging for an interview.
"¡Eso era asombroso, señora! ¡Mi nombre es Cucharada del diario! ¿Usted me piensa podría conseguir una entrevista de usted?"
Fluttershy squeaked in apprehension. An article about her was the last thing she needed right now. "Oh
" She muttered shaking her head. Quickly, she backed into the crowd of ponies away from the reporter and ducked down an alleyway, leaving the other ponies cheering behind her.
Fluttershy trotted down into another street, shaking off everything that had just happened, feeling even more nervous now than she had when the Ursa was pounding through the streets. If Blueblood and his cronies caught sight of her in the local paper everything she was working for could fall apart just as easily, perhaps more permanently than if she had changed again. If they confiscated the meager equipment she had put together and that rare plant, the Gamma Joak
Fluttershy gulped before taking a few more deep breaths. "Okay
calm down, Fluttershy." She mumbled. "Most likely
nothing will come from it." She forced herself a smile. "Besides," she assured herself, "what are the odds that Blueblood will read the newspaper from around here, right?"
* * *
October 17, 13:45 hours.
Fort Clopbell,21 miles outside Trottingham
Prince Astron Blueblood sat at a desk, his head in his hooves, a half empty hip flask full of whiskey sitting on his desk. A storm raged outside as he massaged his forehead with his hooves. Where was she? She had managed to drop off the radar for the past three months. It was beginning to get to him.
The handsome stallion grumbled to himself. The stress of running this whole unit was getting his mane disheveled and his pristine white coat all sweaty. His eyes shifted to a photograph sitting on his desk of a yellow pegasus with a pink mane. "I hope your happy." He mumbled "You're actually beating me. Slowly but surely you'll cause my mane to gray." He grabbed the flask, bringing its spouted end to his lips. "I'll get you, though. That I can assure. You'll pay dearly for what you did to me
A knock came at the door, snapping the Prince out of his monologue. "Come in." He mumbled.
The door opened slowly as a large, white alicorn stepped in, her pastel, rainbow mane flowing in the nonexistent breeze. She wore a gold bracer around her neck and a matching golden tiara and horseshoes. Striding into Bluebloods office, she eyed him with a look of distaste.
Princess" he mumbled.
"Blueblood." She said disapprovingly. "I understand that you recently raided one of Hoofington's Suburban areas in an attempt to intercept Miss Fluttershy." The deadpan voice and furrowed brow that filled her usually serene face would send a chill down anypony's spine.
"You understand correctly." Blueblood said, hoof rapping on his desk.
"And?" She said glaring at him "Did you catch her?"
No." He said, his eyes darting to the side.
"And why is that?"
She wasn't there." Blueblood mumbled.
"You mean to say she fled before you got there?" Celestia said with a raised eyebrow, a knowing tone in her voice.
"No. She was never there." The prince growled.
"Then you invaded Hoofington's suburbs, barging into a total of seven private homes and assaulting the occupants, all in a desperate search for Miss Fluttershy
why?" She said, her voice getting intense with anger.
"We had a hunch-"
"And that's not good enough, Astron Blueblood!" Celestia shouted. "Ever since the Gala you've been chasing after Miss Fluttershy like a crazed dog chases a cart! You've since managed to make a good portion of the population of Equestria question the military, the government, and by extension me, slowly breaking the peace that Equestria has managed to achieve in the last thousand years all so you can go on this wild goose chase of yours!"
"The Flutterhulk is a threat to the security of everypony in Equestria and the rest of the world!"
"Yes, Blueblood, I agree, and she needs to be brought in. But due to recent events I'm inclined to believe that you're perhaps even more of a threat than she is." Celestia roared. "Now you, Prince Blueblood, I have a mind to take away your position as head of this department, remove your title, and toss you out on the streets, bloodline be damned!"
Blueblood stared angrily into the face of his so called 'auntie' a snarl coming to his lip as she continued.
"If I hear even ONE more report that you've invaded a town without my consent, without any evidence, I swear to you, on the grave of my mother and on the rising of the sun itself, I will toss you out like the rat you really are."
"Prince Blueblood, sir!" a voice called from the doorway.
The two regal ponies halted their argument, turning to the pony that happened to interrupt their argument. The offender was a short but strong looking earth pony stallion, not quite middle aged with a blonde mane and a dark grey coat. He was wearing a military dress uniform, a couple of medals hanging off of his chest and holding a file in his mouth.
m'lady, I am so sorry to interrupt." he said bowing quickly to Celestia.
"Emil Clopsky." He said, saluting her.
"Thank you Captain Clopsky." She said, her voice its usual serene croon again. "Did you have something to report to my nephew?"
Oh yes!" The pony stammered, opening the file and revealing a newspaper clipping. "We managed to pull this article from today's Buenos Maires Sun. It reports about a small yellow pegasus with a pink mane who managed to literally stare down a rampaging, adolescent Ursa yesterday afternoon. Does that sound like anypony we know, sir?"
"Indeed it does" Blueblood said, a smug grin coming to his face. "Good work Captain! We deploy at 15:00 hou-"
"Not so fast, Blueblood." Celestia said firmly. "Admittedly I don't know many ponies capable of 'staring' an Ursa away, but until I have some definite proof, I'm not letting you deploy again. Not after all your mistakes."
Captain Clopsky cleared his throat. "If it pleases your highness, there's also a photograph." He said, holding up a front page photograph of a small, familiar looking pegasus with a long, pink mane. There was no question about who it was.
The Prince looked at Celestia, a snide look on his face. "Is that good enough for you, 'Auntie?'"
Celestia looked down at him with narrowed eyes. "Very well." She sighed.
A look of smug pride on his face, Blueblood sauntered out of his office, flicking his tail. The captain soon followed him, bowing quickly to the Princess.
Celestia called out after him. "You're on thin ice, Blueblood! Watch yourself!"
* * *
Fluttershy woke again in a cold sweat, roused from yet another nightmare. She had dreamed that in the confrontation with the Ursa the day before she had hulked out and leveled Buenos Maires and taken out everypony in town. Shaking herself and rubbing her eyes with her hooves she took a few deep breaths. Just a dream she told herself. That didn't happen. It's not going to happen.
She looked across her room at the green, glowing flower sitting innocently on her table, along with numerous test tubes, wires, syringes, centrifuges, a microscope, and other components needed to make the theorized cure that Miss Blue had described to her. Steeling her resolve, she slowly trudged out of bed and trotted over to the table, eyeing the flower.
"Today's the day
" she mumbled, putting on a set of gloves and goggles and getting about to work.
The procedure called for her to shred the flower's petals with scissors, letting the nectar and pollen within spill out into a petri dish. Miss blue had told her in an earlier correspondence to make sure she used a high dose, otherwise it might not work. As such, Fluttershy made sure to shred every petal of the flower. Using a mortar and pestal, she slowly crunched up the flower petals into a fine, green paste.
Then, gathering some specific ingredients from her cupboard, she slowly brewed up a small batch of a cure for Poison Joak. Miss Blue had said that since the plants were closely related, the cure for Poison Joak with a Gamma substitute would very likely rid her of the Gamma Joak's effects.
Pouring the Gamma Joak paste into a test tube filled with the Poison Joak cure, she placed the tube into a centrifuge and blended it together, then set about filtering out the impurities. Fluttershy went about the lab with skill and finesse, knowing all the steps to making a cure such as this, having done it many times in the past for her animal friends when she was a vet.
After several hours of labor, she had created a small vial of a clear, light green liquid. If Miss Blue was right
this would save her.
But first she had to be sure that it would work.
Taking a syringe, Fluttershy winced as she slowly stuck the needle into her forehoof, drawing a small amount of blood from her arm. Her gamma infected blood would be able to tell her if it would work or not. Carefully, she placed a small drop of her own blood down onto a microscope slide and shoved it under the scope. Adjusting the focus, she saw her blood was beset by small green clumps hanging to the side of her red blood cells. This was what turned her into the Flutterhulk when she got mad and her pulse rate got too high.
Taking care not to spill the cure, she slowly took a drop of it into another syringe and dripped it onto the blood resting on the slide. Taking another look into the scope, she gasped with delight as she saw the green clumps on her blood cells slowly shrink and dissipate.
Fluttershy grinned. Smiling, she let out a small "yay."
But before she could celebrate, the tides of luck turned on her. The red blood cells which had appeared cured, suddenly sprouted more of the green, gamma-irradiated clumps, swelling and becoming engorged, turning entirely green. Fluttershy looked at the pool of blood on the slide to see it a bubbling, forest green
the same way it was when she was the Flutterhulk.
Fluttershy sighed in defeat. After all that hope, all this cure would be is a surefire way to turn her into the Flutterhulk. Something she would never need.
Scooping up the syringe of the "not-cure" as well as the rest of her equipment, Fluttershy slowly trotted out her apartment door. During her attempts to make the medicine she had wasted the whole day. It was already night out, Luna's moon shining brightly overhead. She trotted somberly down the dirt roads, a sad song in her heart. She trotted down the road to a small shop that was open 24-7. The shop was a new breed of restaurant known as an "internet café." They were a recent invention. Ever since the invention of some worldwide magical network of communication they had become quite popular. Ponies would come to these cafes and use what were essentially magic mirrors with typewriters attached to them to communicate with ponies far across the world. Fluttershy had scoffed at the idea of such things before she had run into her
problems, but now they were a godsend, as she could communicate in real time with her mysterious benefactor using them.
Of course, due to the private nature of her issues, she could only use them when almost nopony else was around. She had found this particular café helpful since it was open all day and all night and she could pop in at midnight to chat with Miss Blue and nopony would be there to bother her.
The bell gave out a small ring as she pushed open the door. "Louise Ferrigno!" A warm greeting came from behind the counter. Fluttershy turned to see a friendly old stallion sitting behind the counter. He was a red earthy color with a white mane and moustache and wore a large pair of glasses on his face.
" Fluttershy said, still feeling down but happy to see a friendly face. Stan was one of the only other ponies in Buenos Maires Fluttershy had met that spoke fluent Equestrian. The two had become relatively good friends in this small café, him being the only pony on night shift and her being one of the only customers to ever come in so late.
"What brings you to the café tonight, Lou?" Stan barked happily.
I need to use the internet
if you don't mind
Stan chuckled. "Of course not! Would you like me to put on your usual while you're here? Chamomile with a sugar?"
"That would be lovely." Fluttershy said with a small smirk.
"Alrighty then! Coming right up, true believer!" Stan said, putting a kettle on a stove. Fluttershy grinned. Stan said such funny things sometimes.
Fluttershy quickly logged on to the internet and started tapping away at the keys, logging into a private chatroom where she and Miss Blue talked occasionally. Sipping her expertly made chamomile tea, she called out over the magical connection for her friend.
<Miss Green> Miss Blue, are you there?
Fluttershy waited a couple minutes before getting a response.
<Miss Blue> My friend! It's good to hear from you again!
Fluttershy sighed as her friend enthusiastically questioned her about her cure attempt.
<Miss Blue> As for the Antidote; Did it work as you had hoped?
Fluttershy sighed shaking her head.
<Miss Green> Another Failure.
There was a slight pause before Miss Blue replied.
<Miss Blue> I see
Then it's time for the two of us to meet.
Fluttershy pondered over this for a minute before sighing.
<Miss Green> It's not safe
<Miss Blue> Living with gamma in your blood is not safe. Now do not amble. Stop chasing flowers and send me a blood sample.
Fluttershy paused for a minute, considering this logic. Before sighing and typing back.
<Miss Green> Alright.
With that, Fluttershy signed off of the internet and finished up the rest of her tea. Smiling at Stan, she trotted out the door. "Thanks for the tea, Stan!" she said.
"No problem!" He replied. "And you keep your chin up, you hear? Excelsior!"
Fluttershy giggled and trotted back up the street towards her apartment. Reaching the small flat, she quickly drew another sample of blood and put it into a test tube, fastening it securely. Carefully she slid it into a foam casing and placed the foam into a secure package. She quickly scrawled an address upon the top of the box; "PO Box 616, 1961 Ditzy Avenue, Ponyville Equestria, 68954"
Trotting a short ways out of her apartment again, she dropped the package carefully into a blue post box, looking around carefully before trotting back inside, hoping to Celestia that she and Miss Blue, whoever she was, could figure this out.
What she didn't notice was the pony watching her from up in the clouds. A shady looking pegasus wearing all black and holding a walkie talkie. Looking down at her from a dark stratus cloud through a pair of binoculars, he lifted the communicator to his lips.
"This is scout one. I have a visual."
"Roger scout one. We will be at your position in less than an hour
TO BE CONTINUED