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Dusty

[AoH] A Balefire Symphony (closed)

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Loyalty. The guiding light for all pegasus ponies in the war and after. Loyalty was everything and this fact was trained, taught and beaten in to every last pegasus. There was no other way, no other path. And yet Bravo found himself lost thanks to it. What was loyalty when the very thing you swore to die for is nonexistent. When everything you know is nonexistent. This reality shock Bravo to his core just by being itself. By being here in this shape and lacking everything that made his world, his views work. 

 

It was crushing and took him weeks… months to even go outside again. Mech was a good friend even his help did not make this more easy. Acclimatising to this world and shock it was to his beliefs, views and understand just took time. A lot of it. He was better now… Somewhat. It was still hard, confusing and confusing but he managed to do trips outside without breaking down or lashing out at some pony. Mech was the only pony to even have a hope of understanding… It. Why this was hard. 

 

But Bravo had to push on. Well he wanted to go home he knew he couldn't. It's been too long. He’s MIA or KIA and can’t go home. And this world was better in every way. Food! Water! Safety! It took weeks too learn how to sleep without jumping at every sound. Weeks trust water. Food… so on and so on. And yet he was still spinning in place. Loyalty… Loyalty. The word that haunted him like hounds on a fox and it made him feel aimless. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

With a clap of thunder Bravo looked up at the sky's pouring rain. He liked the rain. It made him feel… safe. Familiarity was the word, safe was the feeling. Rain was part of life back… There. Mud, rain and death. At least he had rain. Walking down the road gazed up at the towering buildings of white. Time to time a flash happens and he saw HIS Canterlot and its countless horrors. It made a shiver roll down his spine but he pushed onward, dry from the storm underneath his power armor. He still can’t go outside without it. Not for long. Panic attacks. When one spent months in it leaving it is terrifying. Every part of his brain screamed ‘outside is danger!’ without it. Even a friend next to him he’d start to panic. More time… maybe that is all he needed. 

 

Looking at the map in his HUD he gazed up at another big building. This was the place… Blueblood. A war hero… At least for Bravo. The mare from his first moments here was tied to Blue. Mech never did explain how very well, saying it will be easier if he ‘saw it’ for himself. Or something. Bravo just hoped the offer was still open. Mech was fun, but insane. A level head was something he needed and with luck this pony had one to offer. 

 

….

 

Ringing the door bill he looked up at the giant wood doors. Why on earth did a pony need doors do big? Did they have a pet sphinx or something? Well he sat at the door he removed his helmet, letting his golden orange mane flow out with a shake and lit up a cigarette. Was no dash but it helped keep his shakes down. He still hated Mech for not making him more. He knows the mad-doc can, he just did not. jerk.

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There was, within Prince Blueblood, a deep upwelling of anticipatory caution.  It was an increasingly familiar sensation to him, ever since he had begun frequenting a certain mad-doc's lab.  He hadn't many friends, the Prince, and so couldn't afford to be picky about the ones he had.  Nonetheless, he was well aware that he took his own life and sanity into his hooves every time he visited Mech's laboratory while an experiment was in progress.  Not to mention all the times his alter ego had run some "friendly security tests."  Discretely curing the effects upon his servants of those magical energy crystals had been a tall order, to say the least.

 

And now, the unexpected result of the experiment running at the time of his little "break-in" was coming to visit him.  A stallion from another, parallel universe, he was given to understand.  Not the first interdimensional visitor to this plane of existence, and not even the only one Blue would know personally.  What both intrigued and intimidated him about Bravo, however, was that the pegasus seemed to know him.  Or, at least, an alternate version of him.  An Alternate version that this Prince Blueblood was far from confident that he could live up to.

 

But what was there to be done?  He could hardly be an ungracious host and turn away what was a de facto ambassador.  Plus, that power armor... the Prince preferred magical relics as a power supplement, but having somepony with a suit like that by one's side would be quite a coup, if he could be recruited for the cause.  And the Prince held no compunction about leveraging an unearned reputation to get what he wanted, provided he could get away with that.

 

Once the head maid informed the Prince that the visitor had arrived, he personally stepped down to the front door to greet him.  He was dressed fairly casually, in a silk smoking jacket, prepared for a day of relic-sorting.  A large batch had come in that he'd picked up for a song, which meant that it was likely 98% junk with the other 2% of actual magic relics that were likely useless for practical purposes.  But one never knew... the price might just be because they were stolen goods.  And that was fine by him; saved him the trouble of stealing them himself.
Putting on a gracious smile to Bravo as the doors open he waved him inside.  "Do come in!  Java let me know you would be arriving today.  I trust he's given something of an introduction to our humble slice of reality?"

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Bravo let out a proof smoke as he watched a passing car, long fancy and screaming power and riches. All of this place did that. It was so different, so alien and unbelievable. Yet there it was. And maybe that was what was most hard… or was it letting go? He did not know, it seemed to change every day. But he was a hunter of the Enclave, he lived years in the wasteland. He can make it. 

 

Turning to look at the door as it opens he saw Blue. His eyes looking up and down a few times as he looks over the details and after a moment's time speaks up. “%@#$.” He mutters the swear on smokey air. “You really are him. Just like the postcard… Nice to meet you sir.” With that he stands tall, wings close and tall up tall as he clicks his four hovers together, bows a head than looks up well shooting one giant wing up skyward. One can not underset how large his wings were to a normal pegasus. “SSgt Castle Bravo, Hunter 6th squad of the 5th fleet, Raptor, Frozen Skys.” He spoke fast as he held that pose and did not move for a few more moments before dropping it, standing like a normal pony. Well, normal as one can in his getup and with a scorpion tail behind him. “Java has done his best. It seems we all know him. He did not tell me this… Not shocking. I know him well… and know his great, great grandson from my timeline. It helps us break the ice more easily. Luna bless him, insane as he is he’s done all he can to make this %#@$ %@#$@ #@$@#$ of a deal more easy.” He says with all the charm of a wastelander. He takes in one more deep pull on a cigarette. “No smoking inside?” He asked with a frown, none vocally showing how much he did not care for how many hated smoking. 

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Bravo entered trailing foul language and foul air.  It was a good thing that the pegasus also carried a respectful attitude towards Blueblood as well, otherwise there might be... unpleasantness.  Of course, once the soldier's salute revealed the size of those wings... well, those would have gotten him through so many of the Prince's doors whomever they were attached to.  "Yes!  Er, um, very well then."  The unicorn hastily threw up a hoof in what he hoped would pass for a returning salute.  Java had at least let him know that his alt-universe self was a military hero.  Or, at least, a hero to the military.  Nice to know his namesakes were making names for themselves, at least.  

 

Hoping that his utter ignorance as to what all that business of being the hunter of raptors was wouldn't show, he closed the door behind Bravo.  It was here that he caught glimpse of the scorpion tail, and, well, it was hard to not stare, as rude as that may have been taken.  "Ah, true.  Our... mutual friend is of great assistance in times of chaos.  Which would be more helpful if he weren't the cause of 90% of them."  Bravo was taking the record for the roughest manners that ever dared darken the Prince's door, but he was bound and determined to keep on his own level.  "I only ban smoking from the upper floors; I don't smoke myself, but many of my guests do.  I even keep a stock in the lounge for them.  If you would just leave your armor in the foyer?"

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Bravo arched an eyebrow than chuckles at the hasty salute Blueblood tossed up. He was not at all offended by it, it was an honest try from a pony that had no real clue what to do back. “I can tell you, his great, great grandson is pretty much the same. Never in my life have I had as much fun, and hated him just as much, as when I worked with that %$#^&%$ colt toy of a pony.” He says with a smoky sinker and makes his way in doors, taking care to keep his wet power armor on the door rug as to not trail water all over. 

 

The smoking rules sounded fair, far better than most, so he had nothing to fuss about. “Sounds good to me, will put it out if I ever end up going to the other floors.” He says with a nod of thanks. Now removing his armor… He was safe, he knew he was. Yet it never came easy. Letting Blue guide him to where wanted it to rest he then put his helmet back. “Stand back, don’t touch the moving parts.” He says over the armors speaker as the back hissed, then splits open like a bug shedding its old skin. Bravo pulled himself out much the same way with a skin tight jumpsuit over his body. Key parts of the jumpsuit had metal rings that looked to lock in to parts of the armor to help Bravo move in it. And maybe to some joy Blue saw the scorpion tail stay put as Bravos flank came free. In its place was a balled up tail, tucked up between the legs. Bravo had to shake it some to unstick it from the jumpsuit. 

 

Free he stretched his legs some and sniffed at himself. “Eh..” is all he had too say remarking on his sent. Looking back at Blue he puffed his cig a few times. “Well, best I keep this on. Even if this is not too bad… back in my world I went weeks on weeks without ever seeing a shower. But that was pretty normal for every pony. Clean water was to $@%^$#  rare to waste on washing.” He says with a sheepish grin. "I do love all the clean water you have... small things in life."

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Blueblood shared a baritone laugh with Bravo over the craziness each had to deal with in their own worlds with their own 'Java'; it was good to have a sympathetic commiserator.  "He certainly keeps life from being dull.  May fortune bring us all such friends... but no more than one at a time."  No need to go into great detail about all the ways Machina had been of help to him... her, in some instances.  Not unless Bravo sought less than refined conversation, which given his language so far, was a distinct possibility.

 

There was no need to tell the Prince to stand back, he didn't want to risk getting stung by the thankfully fake scorpion tail.  As predicted, his relief at the realization was palpable, quickly followed by equally obvious appreciation of the warrior's physique, now that he could get a look at it.  A body to match the wings, indeed.  Still, again, no need to go into detail about such things.  

Politeness kept him from wrinkling his nose, barely.  "I can... understand that."  Rich words from a stallion who'd never gone without clean water, but Bravo would probably understand that.  "In any case, I'm more than happy to let you use the bathing facilities as well if you so desire.  Honored guests receive the best at Blueblood Manor."  And indeed, the 'best' would not be a simple guest shower, oh no.  Think more, luxurious bath with pretty maids attending one's every need.

 

"Let us retire to the Den, it shall be more comfortable there."  The Den was, as it's name implied, a sort of lounge down half a flight of stairs from the first floor.  It's decor was all in dark tones of leather and stained wood, with an aged billiard table in one of the corners.  Rather more used was the ornate liquor cabinet, set against one of the walls by some card tables, and further on the other end was a fireplace surrounded by comfortable chairs.  "Can I get you something to drink as well?"  He asked, indicating a chair next to a polished brass ashtray.

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