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Author's Note: So! As some of you may know, Kirby Krackle and some peeps are doing a ponified Mutants and Masterminds campaign! If you don't know about it yet, you should give it a read! It's really awesome and has a very old school comic book vibe to it, as it should. So this here that you're going to be reading/skimming over, is a bit of fanwork...of a fanwork. See when I was reading the first 'Issue' of their adventures, it really inspired me. And while their group may be full at the moment, I had a huge urge to do SOMETHING with that setting. So I sat down and thought about it, and eventually decided, 'Hey, I want to make a villain!'. And that's where this thing comes in. I can't claim to be the greatest writer on this site or anything, but I rather liked how it turned out, and hopefully you all will too. It may be a little eh in some places, I worry about if I got Morning Glory right enough to Bramble's vision. It may need some work, but hey! Hope you'll enjoy! And I am working on 'Issue' 2, so that's something to (maybe?) look forward to!~ Thanks again to Kirby, Bramble, and everyone else for such an entertaining series of adventures. Hope to see more from you lot for a long time coming - Dubby. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ ...The sound of stone grinding on stone filled the air. Dust and dirt fell like rain as the door to the antechamber slid open. A group of ponies stood around with baited breath as the strongest of their crew pushed and pulled. Two unicorns stepped forward, a torch floating by the side, held in a magic grip as they stepped into the nearly empty room. In the center stood a pedestal, and atop it was a small black sphere. The unicorns arched a brow at one another and stepped forward... ******** Daybreak in Thoroughbred City! A warm and sunny morning, the sun shines through the window of a slumbering colt's bedroom. He turns on his side and draws his blanket over his head. This young unicorn is Crosscoat, son of world famous archaeologists and explorers Alidade and Silver Cache! "Uggghh...turn out the lights..." he mumbles groggily, laying in dread of the school day ahead. That is, until a realization crosses his mind. "It's the weekend!" he shouts, bolting upright and hopping out of bed feeling rejuvenated at the thought of free time. With this newfound energy, Crosscoat bolted out of his room, dashing down the stairs and nearly tumbling headfirst into his mother. "Whoa, where's the fire hon?" the silver coated mare asked with a smile, brushing a few tufts of her short blue mane from out of her face. "If only you could get this excited on school days mister! What's up?" The young colt hopped in place. "Hey mom! I'm just excited for tonight! You and dad are still taking me to the art exhibit tonight right?" Crosscoat had been looking forward to the exhibit for days and the anticipation was painted on his face in the form of a bright smile and hopeful eyes. Silver Cache however sighed softly. The colt knew that sigh. "I'm sorry Cross. Your father and I have to hurry out to Canterlot tonight. There's a very important pony that we have to talk to about our most recent find!" she answered with a halfhearted smile, ruffling Crosscoat's mane, hopeful he would understand. He did, really he did. But it didn't stop him from being disappointed. "Yeah yeah...I know. What's so important about that weird stone anyway?" Crosscoat had seen the find in question. It was a strange, perfectly round and smooth black stone. It took both his parents and two other ponies to carry in to the museum, despite being only the size of an apple. His mother rubbed the back of her neck and shook her head. "That's what we'd like to know. The mineralogists said it doesn't match any type of known stone. It doesn't react to heat or force or magic either. And it's as dense as your father was when I tried hinting that I wanted to date him." she said with a soft giggle. "It defies logic, so we're taking our reports to Canterlot, we think there might be certain parties interested in checking it out." "Like the princess?" Crosscoat was excited again. If Princess Celestia wanted to come see some dumb old rock, maybe he could get to meet her while she was here! He could tell all of his friends he met the real live Princess Celestia. Silver chuckled again. "Now Cross, I don't think Princess Celestia's going to have the time to come out here herself...But we DO think that she'd at least be interested in hearing about it. But first we got to talk to the lower officials. Talk talk talk, paperwork, filing. Worst part of this job. I'd rather run through a snake filled temple again. Ahh, best honeymoon ever." she said with a reminiscent smile. Rolling his eyes, Crosscoat tried his best not to groan at his mother's idea of a romantic getaway. "Uhhh...sure thing mom. I'm gonna go over to Star Guide's house, he's got a new telescope that he's been wanting show me and the guys! So I'll see you later!" he said, rushing his way through the house once more. "Oh Cross! We'll be gone before dinner! But there's leftovers in the icebox! Be careful and have a good time!" the mare yelled after her son, waving farewell and gently shaking her head. ******** Out on the streets, Crosscoat bolted his way through passersby, hollering out the occasional 'excuse me' or 'pardon me' or 'watch out!' as he did. Star Guide was a young pegasus colt, around the same age as Cross and one of his best friends for years. Living only a block away from one another, they often spent their weekends running around town with their other friends, Four-Speed and Tall Tales. Arriving at his friend's house, Crosscoat was met by Star's father at the front door just as he was leaving. "Oh! Hello there Crosscoat. Starry said you'd probably be by today." the stallion said with a smile. "He's upstairs in his room with Speedy and Tales. I'm off to work, so you kids be good you hear!" "Will do sir!" the colt said as he rushed into the house and up the stairs to Star Guide's room. When he reached the room, Star and the others were already admiring the pegasus' new telescope. "Hey guys, sorry I'm late!" he huffed, leaning on the door frame as he caught his breath. "There you are!" Tall Tales said. She was the tallest of the group. A yellow pegasus with light blue hair and pretty purple eyes. Freckles graced her soft cheeks and the bridge of her nose. Her cutie mark was that of quill and parchment. Crossing her forelegs she grinned over at her apparently late friend. "Were you having another one of your big adventure dreams? Didn't wanna get outta bed?" The colt sighed and shook his head, sticking out his tongue at Tales as he took a seat on the floor. "Haha, not this time. I just woke up late, and then had to stop to talk to mom." Cross's ears flattened sadly against his head. "They've gotta head out again. Won't be going to the art exhibit..." "Aw man, sorry Cross, I know how much you were looking forward to it." Four-Speed chimed in. Speedy was a bit of stocky earth pony with dark blue hair with a streak of white and a light purple pelt. His eyes were a yellow, and his cutie mark a shiny bicycle. Something nopony in school could keep up with him on! "Maybe you'll get to go next year huh?" Crosscoat only shrugged his shoulders. He didn't want to dwell on the topic longer than he had to. "Yeah...So hey, Starry, how's that telescope your dad got you?" he asked, turning to his bespectacled friend. Star Guide was a fairly average pegasus with a dark brown pelt and a creamy white mane. A pair of black rimmed glasses sat on his long snout, and a neatly tied bandanna kept his mane out of his lime green eyes. His cutie mark was that of a constellation, unsurprisingly in the shape of a telescope. "It's great! You can see all kinds of stars out there!" he said, holding the viewing device up proudly. "I...uh...haven't looked at the moon yet though..." "Yeah. It'd feel kinda weird. What if you looked up there and could ACTUALLY see Princess...Er...Nightmare Moon." Tall Tales chimed in. "Oh! What if SHE'S got a telescope up there and is watching us right now? How spooky would that be?" Four-Speed rolled his eyes and snorted. "Yeah. I'm SO sure they've got a big collection of telescope on the moon. They're right next to the party supplies, just an aisle over from the cakes and ice cream." "Mmm, moon ice cream...Wait, do you think it tastes like cheese? Ick, can you imagine that? I bet the moon has cheese flavoured ice cream." Tales went on. Crosscoat just sat quietly and listened to his friends debate about the legitimacy of a moon-side market and just what would or wouldn't be there. Normally he'd be all in on the silliness himself. But with the bombshell from earlier, he just wasn't feeling up to much of anything. "Hey guys. I think I'm jut gonna head home." he said, sighing softly "Aww. Okay Cross, hope you feel better soon buddy!" Star Guide replied, getting up and giving his friend a hug before the unicorn made his leave. ******** Back home, Crosscoat lay on his bed, staring out the window a the sky grew dim with cloud cover and the oncoming evening. His parents had already left, and the severe boredom was setting in. Grumbling and rolling onto his back the colt stared at the ceiling of his bedroom. "Mmf...You know what? NO!" Quickly he hopped up from his bed and stood defiantly. "I don't need mom and dad here. I can get into the art exhibit myself!" like a flash, Cross galloped through the house and out the door. Rushing down through the now more clear streets. The city wasn't necessarily the safest. Crime had been up and the police force weren't able to do much about it. Ne'er do wells with strange powers or great strength had been cropping up and causing all sorts of havoc. But thankfully, so too did heroes with the will to stand up for what was right! It made the citizens of Thoroughbred City feel at least a little safe. Tonight however was quiet and peaceful. The only hustle and bustle being ponies at the college auditorium viewing the art. A traveling troupe of painters, sculptors, and other artists did a yearly tour around Equestria, and today their stop was Thoroughbred City. It was something Crosscoat had been looking forward to, as he did every year! And having missed out on the last one, nothing would stop him from getting to see it this year. As Crosscoat wandered through the rows of paintings and sculptures, he felt his disappointment melt away. He was in his element and it felt great! The only thing that would have made it better was if his parents were able to be there with him. But at least nothing could bring him down! As the last of the guests filed into the auditorium however, the doors slammed swiftly shut and a loud cackling could be heard. "Ahahahaha! Good evening fillies and gentlecolts..." suddenly, several ponies clad in paint splattered jumpsuits and mask lept FROM the paintings before a tall and gangly unicorn crawled forth. It was difficult to look at her, as her suit and tophat shifted through garishly bright colours constantly and the odd colours of her pelt didn't help matters. "I do hope you don't mind our little...intrusion~" The exhibit goers gasped in shock as several tried to get the doors open to no avail. "Oh? Not going anywhere are you?" the mare said with a wide grin. "I do SO love a captive audience!" Strolling forward and climbing up onto a table she smiled as her lackeys gathered everyone around. "Thank you ALL for coming to my impromptu debut! I was just sitting at home, milling my day away when I thought...'Pallet Swap!' I said to myself. 'Pallet Swap you artiste of artistes*! You simply cannot allow this travesty to happen!'." *Author's Note: Prench pronunciation of 'ar-teest' here. By now the crowd was muttering nervously to one another, afraid to speak out as the madpony continued. "And you must be asking yourselves. 'But what travesty'? Ah! But what other travesty than THIS!" she shouted, motioning around at the works of art. "Petty little sketches and thrown together messes of clay and rock! Not a single one of them my own!" shaking her head vigorously she lept down from the table and landed in front of the crowd. "THAT IS JUST PLAIN RUDE! How can a woooorld faaamous art exhibit call itself FAMOUS WITHOUT ME?!" Crosscoat stared from the crowd and rolled his eyes. Most ponies were more confused than cowering in terror at this clearly troubled pony. Though one rather burly looking Earth Pony stepped forward and snorted indignantly. "One that clearly has STANDARDS." the mustached stallion said, glaring at Pallet Swap. "If your art is as half as bad as your wardrobe, we'd all go blind!" Without missing a beat, Pallet Swap spun on her hooves and turned to face the pony who DARED to insult her. "You think you're CLEVER? Are you having a giggle? Well how about I wipe that smile off your stupid face!" from inside of her vest an odd paintbrush came. The handle was made from a glittering wood, and the bristles dripped with paint constantly. With a quick sweep of the brush across the stallion's mouth, a muffled cry of confusion escape them as the loudmouthed pony found his lips gone! "Anyone ELSE have anything clever to say?" the madmare asked with a wild-eyed glare at the crowd of ponies who were quickly shaking their heads. "Good~" Had the mare not been a clear danger to everypony here, Crosscoat would have been impressed by the magic brush. He hadn't ever seen anything like it before. Before the colt could think too deeply on the nature of the brush, another pony spoke up, this one much more nervous than the now speechless stallion had been. "W-what do you want from us?" "What do you think dear? Your valuables of course! I'm a starving artist, since some cretins out there don't think my art is worth the canvas it's painstakingly painted on, one must turn to other means!" Pallet replied with a sweet smile, clapping her hooves as her henchponies started going through the crowed with burlap sacks. "Oh! But don't think me a pony to not give! All of you will be getting a Pallet Swap original before you leave today, don't you worry!" While Pallet Swap began to draw up her, for lack of a better term, art. As the cronies gathered the terrified citizen's generous 'donations', somewhere a heroine was leaping into action. Beyond the locked auditorium door the sound of a scuffle was heard, followed soon after by a heavy thump. Glancing at one another, two of the mare's hired hooves slowly approached the door. Only to have it kicked off of the hinges and into their faces, sending them sprawling across the floor. Indignantly the crazed cartoonist pushed her canvas aside and glared at the figure now standing in the doorway. "Who DARES?! Did no one EVER TELL YOU to not interrupt an artist at work?!" she shouted, stomping her hooves in a hissyfit. "Now I have to start ALL over!" "Sorry, but this is one commission that will have go to unfinished!" with a confidant stride an alicorn mare stepped in, her mane billowing softly in the evening breeze, giving her an awe inspiringly majestic look. "And just WHO are you?" Pallet Swap inquired, crossing her hooves and snearing at the new arrival. "I am Morning Glory! And you-" "Nevermind! I just realized I DON'T CARE! GET HER YOU MORONS!" the unicorn was certainly a rude sort, cutting off Morning Glory before she could even get a word in edgewise. With a grunt and a nod the henchponies began to advance on the alicorn. Shaking her head, Morning Glory sighed softly. "Villains these days. No manners. No brains. And CLEARLY..." with a quick swing of a hoof, the heroine clocked the largest of the ne're do wells square in the jaw, sending him flying backwards and into two more. "No sense of style!" Fuming, nearly smoking from the ears, Pallet Swap screeched. "STYLE?! STYYYYLE?! What do you FOOLS know about STYLE. I am SICK of being told things like 'You lack style', 'Your art hurts my eyes', 'Why does that hoof have eyes on it', or 'You're no artist'! PAH I am THE SINGLE GREATEST ARTIST TO EVER LIVE!...Do you want to see why?" she asked as a wicked grin spread once more across her face, and her mystic brush floated by her side. Keeping a close eye on the deranged mare, Morning Glory had no trouble in dispatching the rabble. Most of the captives had made their escape in the ensuing fight. All save one young colt who stayed behind, hiding behind a box to watch the action excitedly. Splotch by splotch, stroke by stroke, Pallet Swap plastered together a hideous hulking monstrosity of paint. Dripping and oozing it lumbered towards our heroine. "Is that the best you've got? I could draw better than this when I was two?" Morning Glory was clearly unimpressed. "Oh no Boring Glory, this is only the rough draft. It should be able to handle you with ease. Now! Give this goody two-hooves a new paint job!" with a loud gurgling roar, the behemoth thrust its misshapen fist toward the alicorn, a torrent of paint gushing forth from it. "That's MORNING Glory! And-ACKPTTTHT!" cut off by the geyser of gooey paint, Morning Glory's trusty Helm of Themis disappeared in a flash of light before returning, firmly on her foreleg as the Shield of Tyche! Holding it steadily in front of her as she was pushed slowly back across the auditorium floor by the seemingly never ending stream of paint! "I'm going to need a long hot shower after this...yuck!" Stamping her hooves and growling, Pallet Swap took a moment to regain her composure. Or lack there of. "Hmph! I won't let some rank amateur show ME up! Show Morning Snorey what we can do, pet!" another guttural roar escaped the paint creature as it thrust its other fist forward, letting lose a second stream. Already slick with paint and struggling to keep her hooves firm, the second rushing deluge of paint was enough to send the mare flying backwards, crashing into a stack of boxes. Narrowly missing a hard landing atop Crosscoat. "U-uh...hi!" he said, giving Morning Glory a bashful and worried smile. Shaking the stars and birds out of her head, Morning Glory's gaze shot over to the source of the voice in shock. She had thought everyone had evacuated while she was wiping the floor with Pallet Swap's minions. "W-what? Look kid." she said, quickly scrambling to her hooves, trying her best to hide the colt behind her. "I don't know why the hay you didn't get out earlier, but just stay behind me and everything will be okay, alright?" Gulping softly, Crosscoat nodded and watched Morning Glory with a doe-eyed, enamored expression. For as much as he wanted to try to help the beautiful mare, he knew that he would only get in the way. Besides! She was a Princess right? She had the wings AND horn. She could handle anything! "Ooohoohoohoo! What have you got there?" Pallet taunted as her monstrosity shambled closer. "Looks like someone found a lost little plaything?" once more the beast spilled forth paint, and once more Morning Glory stood her ground. The danger of an innocent getting hurt giving her the strength she needed to withstand the double blasts. Skidding only slightly in place. "Leave him out of this, Pallet Swap! This fight is between you, me, and your sloppy mess of a doodle!" the heroine said as she shot her enemy a glare. As the thick paint splattered harmlessly against Morning Glory's shield, neither she nor Crosscoat spied the puddle around her hooves slowly creeping towards the colt until it was too late. With a splash and a muffled scream, Crosscoat was pulled into the pooling paint. Dragged seemingly through nowhere before winding up the dripping claws of the beast. "Agh! N-no fair! Let me go, let me go!" he shouted, squirming helplessly in its talons. "Ehehehehe! Looks like I'VE got your little plaything now!" Pallet Swap said, letting out a vicious cackle. "Isn't he just precious? Squirming like he thinks he can escape. D'awww. I bet he'd look just ADORABLE on canvas. I might even hang him up next to you when we're finished!" Furious and pushing towards the now singular rush of paint, Morning Glory fumed. "Using an innocent child as a hostage?! How low can you get! Let him go now and maybe I'll go easy on you!" Tapping her chin, Pallet Swap smirked. "Hmmmmmm. What's the word I'm looking for? It rhymes with snow. Oh yeah. NO! Not a chance!" she taunted, pulling her lower eyelid down and blowing a raspberry at our hero. "Now...What sort of frame would you look better in? Cherry?...Oh maybe mahogany!" Writhing in the beast's grip, Crosscoat could only whimper and ruminate over his seemingly inevitable fate. Had he just stayed at home, none of this would have happened. If only he were stronger or had powers! Then maybe he could help Morning Glory kick this loony's butt! The alicorn grit her teeth and struggled to step forward. She couldn't let this kid become some madmare's conversation starter! "When I get my hooves on your, your monster here will look like a Reignbrandt in comparison!" "Hold it right there!" Pallet Swap said with a sideways glance towards Morning Glory. "One step closer and this poor little plaything will end up crumbled up and tossed into a waste basket!" the paint beast squeezed the colt, causing him to cry out in pain. "You wouldn't dare..." Bluff or no, Morning Glory stopped in her tracks. The risk was just too high. She had to think of something and fast. Though in the brief questioning moment, her guard dropped ever so slightly, allowing the beast to blast her directly in the face, knocking her to the wall with a resounding thud. "Ahahahaha! Oh how the mighty do fall. But don't feel bad lil miss thing! You'll make a fine painting too! Perhaps I'll put the two of you in one together! I'll call it A Dance of Idiots! It'll be the talk of the town!" the villainous painter cackled, rubbing her hooves together excitedly. As Morning Glory was pelted and pummeled with paint, Crosscoat could only slump his shoulders in defeat, watching as the hero took the beating. All because of him. As he sullenly watched, something caught his eye. A pile of cans was scattered amidst the battered boxes, ones that seemed familiar to him. Suddenly, it hit him. The colt's eyes lit up brightly as he yelled out. "Morning Glory! The cans! Get the cans, quick!" Through the torrent of paint, Morning Glory heard the colt yell out. Pulling her shield in front of her eyes, she cast a glance towards the cans in confusion. "...Paint thinner!" Quickly the mare rolled to the side, skidding across the paint soaked ground. Grabbing a can between her hooves, there was no time to try magic. With a quick stab of her horn, Morning Glory pried open a can and launched it towards the beast, one after another! "NO! NO! MY SWEET BABY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HIM?!" Pallet Swap cried as the beast let out pained roars, melting and bubbling as the paint thinner dissolved its form. "I won't let you get away with this, I'll-OW!" it was the psychotic painter's turn to be cut off, as a hefty can of the thinner clocked her in the head, splashing its contents across her mystic paintbrush. "Gah! No no no no no no no! You are going to PAY for this you pesky princess!" Rushing towards Pallet Swap with this window of opportunity, Morning Glory reared back a hoof. "I. AM NOT. A PRINCESS!" she yelled as her blow connected with her foe's cheek, sending her sprawling across the ground, knocked out cold. ******** A short time later, a squad of police arrived, gathering up the cold clocked henchponies and their grumbling mastermind. Leaving Pallet Swap's strange brush in the care of 'Princess' Morning Glory. Crosscoat meanwhile sat not far away, having been questioned as a witness and given a towel to dry off the paint and thinner which now draped around his shoulders. After her formalities with the colts in blue were taken care of, Morning Glory wandered her way over to Crosscoat with a soft smile. "Hey kid. Are you doin okay?" she asked as she sat down, giving him a soft, comforting pat on the shoulder. "You sure came through in there! Who knows if I would have spotted the paint thinner if it wasn't for you." Crosscoat's cheeks tinged a soft pink as his smile returned to his face for a brief moment. "Heh...nah...I just got in the way. You totally could have handled it! I should have just ran off when I had that chance. I didn't change things much." "Hey now, even the smallest of changes can have a big effect. Don't they teach you anything in chemistry these days?" the alicorn retorted, gently ruffling Crosscoat's mane. "It doesn't take a big change to be a big hero to somepony. Your 'small' change helped me big time tonight kid." "Crosscoat." he said with a nod. The colt knew she was right. But his brain just couldn't let it go yet. And that's what made it even harder. "T-thank you. You were super amazing in there either way. I'd love to be like you someday, be able to kick flank and save ponies!" Morning Glory chuckled and stood up. "Well Crosscoat if you keep going on the right path, who knows? Maybe it'll be you saving me someday." Leaning down she gave the colt a gentle hug before waving farewell. "See you around Crosscoat! Hopefully NOT in the middle of a fight with a crazed painter next time." And just like that she soared off into the night. With a heavy sigh, Crosscoat watched as the mare flew off, until she was out of sight. Even with her words of encouragement, the colt still felt a weight on his shoulders. Maybe he did help some, but if he had noticed the paint thinner sooner, the fight would have gone better! Morning Glory wouldn't have gotten hurt. Shaking his head softly, he climbed to his hooves and made the journey home. ******** Back in his bedroom, Crosscoat tossed and turned unhappily in his bed. Night had long since fallen and the moon hung high in the sky, but the reply of the events only hours ago still played back in his mind. Climbing out from under his covers, he made his way downstairs and through the side door of his home, leading straight into the office of his parent's museum. This was something the colt did often to try and clear his mind. Wander the dim lit halls of the museum. It was quiet and peaceful. Sometimes he did his best thinking amongst the old dusty relics. It made him wonder sometimes if maybe he would have made a good archaeologist too. As he wandered past the sights he had seen many a time before, he felt an odd sensation. As though he wasn't alone. Like somepony was there with him. From the corner of his eye, Crosscoat caught something glistening. It was the strange black orb his parents had found. Walking closer towards it, the colt jumped when he heard a voice softly whispering to him. "You...seek change, no?" it hissed quietly. Startled and his heart racing, the colt quickly whipped his head around, trying his hardest to find the source of the voice. "Who's there?! W-where are you?" Crosscoat's voice was shaking. He was already in a bad place as it was, what else would go wrong for him tonight? "Do not fear child. I mean you no harm, only help." the mysterious voice responded. As it did, the stone shimmered and took on a faint glow. "I am the genie of the stone...I sense great turmoil within you child. You desire change. You want to fix. To...help. Am I correct?" Nervous and shaking, Crosscoat watched as the strange stone pulsed as the genie spoke to him. Stepping ever cautiously closer, the colt nodded. "Y-yeah...I just." he let out a heavy sigh. "I feel like I can't do enough. I was in some big danger today and couldn't do anything about it. I wanna be stronger, or smarter, or faster, or SOMETHING! Anything. The stone seemed to exude a faint soothing warmth as the colt drew closer. "I see. Your heart is heavy with burden. Pray free me, and I will give unto you a power to bring about the change you seek. A gift to help those you wish to defend. All you must do is lift the stone and speak your desire to set me free." the voice said, soft and clear. Crosscoat stood there, staring at the faintly glowing black stone before him. He had read before, of genies giving a great wish to those who had set them free. And ones who had cursed ponies for backing out on their deals. With these thoughts in his mind, the colt slowly reached out his shaking hooves and gripped the stone, lifting it up with ease before drawing it to his chest. Taking a deep steady breath, Crosscoat closed his eyes. "I wish you were free, oh genie of the stone." The room grew eerily quiet as the stone slowly started to tremble in the colt's hooves. A wind from nowhere began to pick up, swirling around the room. Slowly the stone rose out from Crosscoat's grip and hovered in the air, a swirling white mist coalescing above it. "Ahhhhh!" the voice said, as though stretching itself out from a long nap. With a thud the stone fell to the ground. "Thank you! For many years I had been trapped inside of that stone by a vicious sorcerer. But your kindness has set me free! Before I give unto you my gift and depart, to whom do I owe my eternal gratitude?" "C-Crosscoat, Mr. Genie sir!" he replied, watching in amazement as the shapeless mist slowly floated around him. Though he could see no eyes, he still felt as though he was being watched. As though his very soul was being judged. "Crosscoat. Thank you so much. You have done a wonderful thing this night. And to thank you, I will impart upon you my gift." the mist like spirit hovered in front of Crosscoat as it spoke. "This power is not one to take lightly. Nor is it one that I expect you to fully grasp right away. A fraction of my power will be yours. A gift of change. You merely need focus your will, and it shall be. But you must tell not a soul, lest the power leave you. Farewell, young Crosscoat." Rushing forward, the mist sped through the young unicorn. Throwing his hooves up in surprise, Crosscoat felt a strange electric like tingle flow through him. When he opened his eyes once more, the genie was gone and the room was calm once more. "He...he's gone." he said to no one as he gazed around the room and down at the strange stone once more. Carefully he picked it back up and placed it back onto its display. Looking around the room, Crosscoat knew he had to test this out. He had to know if the genie was telling the truth, or if it was all a strange dream. Running back through the museum, the excited unicorn ran into his room and dove under his bed. From beneath it he produced a box. With a determined look on his face, Crosscoat reached into the box and pulled out a small, broken action figure. Something from when he was much younger that saw one too many days of play. "I hope this works." Clenching his eyes shut, Cross began to focus. For a time now he had wanted the newest version of the figure. But it was more than he could afford himself. Feeling the tingle he had once before, Crosscoat opened his eyes slowly as the toy began to knit together and shift. Its faded colours taking on the look of a fresh coat. The whole thing changed before his very eyes. "It worked! The genie told the truth!" he said, dropping the toy back in the box in surprise as he leapt to his hooves. "Thank you genie! Wherever you are, thank you! I promise I won't tell a soul!" That night, Crosscoat spent several hours fixing up his old broken toys. Even making one he'd never play with again into things he would. Like paint brushes or easels. But as excited as he was, the day had taken his toll on him, and soon Crosscoat fell asleep. Curled up and snoring softly next to the fruits of his new power. ******** Though as the colt slept soundly, a change began to overtake Crosscoat. Limbs growing longer, wings bursting forth from his back. The colours of his pelt had changed from the soft orange to a whitish blue, and even his mane had grew a few shades brighter. Climbing to his hooves, the changed Crosscoat stepped atop a few of his toys, changing them into regal looking shoes as he smirked. "Genies. It's wonderful to know that children will still believe in stupid old fairy tales. Ahahahahah." The changed colt, now a stallion, brushed his mane back. His voice was that of the mist. A spirit that had never truly left the young colt's body. "Ooooh I forgot just how good it was to have a body!" he said, waltzing his way through the house. "Poor kid. Doesn't even know a thing. But oh my oh my, I can see every little thing going on in there. Pretty little house you've got here." Wandering into the bathroom, the alicorn stopped at a mirror and smiled. "Beautiful. I haven't forgotten how I looked after all these years." smiling brightly, he wandered back into Crosscoat's room and opened the window. "But I wonder. Just who out there remembers the name, Changing Tides?..." his grin grew wicked as he flew out the window. "Soon no one will forget!" ******** What evil has been unleashed on Equestria? Who is Changing Tides? Is Crosscoat still inside there somewhere? And just what is this nefarious alicorn planning? Only time will tell. Keep your eyes open for the next Issue of Changing Tides!