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A Chance Encounter [Open Invitation]


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"Indeed, we will proceed with caution regardless." Shadow nodded to Shade and they slowed to a halt, hovering about a hundred feet from the forest tree tops. Shadow then nodded to Ally, "Clear the area below." Then to Caesar, "The area around, 100 meters, 360." His orders came firm and steady, like they had rehearsed, it was a drill form them. Ally walked forward and off the glass circle, falling straight for forest, eventually disappearing into the trees. Caesar flew up then looped around, diving towards the tree tops and flying low  over top. Slowly they began to descend, "Don't worry, you'll both get plenty of action on the forest floor. We can't fly any further, we'll continue on foot from here."

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"I'm not worried about not seeing any action," Eagle said, his voice a little too grim. He watched the batponies descend, his interest piqued. He had wanted to watch them fly with their wings, even though they were surely much faster than he was. He had always liked how bat wings looked, and seeing them on ponies was even more intriguing. Plus, he was anxious to get into the forest and get on with the mission.

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As they touched down, the glass vanished, letting them drop just an inch the forest floor. Ally came out from the bushes, dusting herself off, "Area's clear, just a few Timberwolves." Caesar landed down close to the group, "There's a Manticore with younglings to the east, that's it." He reported simply. Shadow nodded, "Excellent, Caesar take point, let's hunt us down a Chimera."

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Eagle Heart and Gilded Helm fell into position, already feeling more like they were with the Royal Guard instead of on a quest. It was oddly comforting, and gave them a sense of comradary with the batponies. They were nervous still, but not so much anymore. They were eager to begin.

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The forest was dark and foreboding, even the trees looked menacing. The rivers they came across seemed pleasant enough, for the Everfree, but under the surface lurked serpents and flesh eating fish. The group chose to hide from a large pack of Timberwolves, rather than start a prolonging fight. After a few kilometers of harsh trekking, they noticed the ground began to grow steeper, and the trees becoming large. Eventually, it seemed like they were in a whole new world altogether. The sky was a thick layer of tree branches, stretching out from all angles, the land became rocky and jagged with giant rock formations sticking out from the ground. The light coming through small cracks in the tree ceiling above. Shadow considered himself impressed, "I have a feeling this will be a good area for Chimera. Caesar, Eagle, fly up and see what you can find around us." Caesar nudged Eagle lightly before shooting up into the sky.

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Eagle saluted without even thinking about it, before shooting upwards after Caesar. As he had suspected, the batpony was faster than him. But he was pleased to see that it wasn't by as large a margin as he had thought it might be. Turns out training with an eagle every day made him pretty quick on his wings.

Once in the air, he started scanning the ground for anything strange. He was half-hoping to find a Chimera already dead, but he knew that would be unlikely. He did, however, spot bright white bones sticking out amongst the rocks. He waved to Caesar and pointed them out, trying not to make noise and hopefully keep the element of surprise on their prey.

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Caesar nodded to him and took a dive straight for the white bones, his bat wings slowed him down purposely till he was close enough to drop. Caesar landed into a roll before springing up and readied himself for combat, but nothing came. "Huh, that what was a little anit-climatic." He admitted simply.

 

Shadow started in the direction Eagle and Caesar flew, "Eagle seems pretty motivated, even if Princess Luna ordered it, most would be a little hesitant to help a Thief. I must ask, why?" Shadow asked Gilded curiously.

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Eagle flew after the batpony, pulling up from his own dive after Caesar's roll, and allowing himself to land more gently. "Yeah, it was... Why are the bones here if there's nothing around that could've eaten the creatures they belonged to?" He kept looking around, as if expecting an ambush. He didn't like how this place felt; and it wasn't just the bones.

 

Gilded gave a slight laugh, shaking his head. "Oh, he has a few different reasons I would place my bits on. One would be that he feels like he owes them. They took him to a hospital after they captured him to take care of his broken rib, and Trax pushed me out of the way of the arrow that got him. That means that he saved my life and saved him a lot of pain. And the other reason... Well... I think he's growing sweet on the sister, Sun Flare. Even if he won't admit it. But if it came down to it, he would probably follow his duty to the Princesses and help arrest her, so he might also be doing this to make up for it. Even if she's in jail, at least he saved her brother, right?"

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"Interesting." Shadow spoke as if trying to piece things together, "Eagle has thought about this strategically, save the brothers life, and gain amountable favor from the Sister. Genius." Ally shook her head as she kept pace with Gilded, "He has an odd sense of thinking, he is very.... serious? Literal? Anyway he's odd when it comes to relationships."

 

A shadow stretching up on the ground between them caught Caesar's eye, he turned his head to see the source, and flattened his ears with wide eyes of anguish. "In case I forget to say it later... Ow." He winced before suddenly being whacked away over a tall rock, there was a bleak thud as he hit something with a gasp, ".... my jewels...." From behind Eagle rose an enormous Lion, but it wasn't ordinary, the head of a Goat stuck out from its thick neck, the tail rose up bearing the head of a Snake. A full grown adult Chimera, and a big one.

 

The group halted as they heard noises ahead, Ally perked up, "That was Caesar, they found something!"

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Eagle only had a second to react, he knew it. Either call out to warn the others, or save himself being hit too. It was a clear choice.

"Chimera!" He cried at the top of his lungs, then tried to jump back from it to avoid the massive paw swinging down on him, but no such luck. He flew backwards and hit one of the piles of bones, one of which impaled his wing and shoulder. He yelped in pain, but was quickly back on his hooves to dodge away.

 

Gilded's ears were already straining for any sound, but he heard Eagle's voice call out in fear and surprise, which was followed by a softer cry of pain. Gilded quickly drew his sword and ran forward, toward's the place it had come from, sure that the batponies would catch him easily.

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The Chimera charged Eagle, but luckily Shade flickered in front of Eagle, a magical force field summoned up around them blocking off the giant creature. Shadow flew low to the ground, swinging wide and punching hard in the Chimera's back right hip. Ally sped in, her speed was almost unreal, she leaped high and came down towards the same hip. But Ally was bashed away by the Snake tail, Shadow leaped back to avoid a second swing aimed at him. Their plan to weaken it was foiled, and they had lost the element of surprise, the Chimera was aware of them all.

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Gilded crouched low just beyond the edge of the trees, his white fur blending him in against the bones, but not completely camouflaging him. Eagle, meanwhile, had yanked the bone from his shoulder and tossed it aside. Bleeding, favoring his uninjured leg, but otherwise seeming alright, he stepped closer to Shade.

"Thanks. But now what?" he asked, eyes warily following the massive beast's every movement, ready to move if it did. He drew his sword as well, holding it at the ready and aimed right for the Chimera.

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The Chimera, with its three sets of eyes, glared around hungrily at the six ponies around it. Shadow grit his teeth, the scales on the snake tail were tough as armor,  "Shade, we'll take our weapons now, this one may take a little edge." Shade nodded and lit his horn up with a green glow, the same glow radiated from his eyes like flames. Shadow lifted into the air, a large scythe formed into his hooves. Ally's hooves lit up, gauntlets appeared with retracble blades, almost like claws. Shade's sides glowed as two daggers appeared inside their sheathes, the pommels shaped like snake heads. Suddenly the Chimera roared, the cause were two cuttlass type swords stuck into it's side, Caesar appeared with two more cuttlasses sheathed at his sides, the batpony landed on the Chimera grabbing his swords and ducking away before the Chimera reared to scratch him. Caesar slid to a halt near Gilded, "Tough skin, my swords didn't even draw blood even though they stuck in, good call on the weapons Shadow." He glanced back at Gilded, "Looks like we got the goat head, I'll get ya an opening." 

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Gilded nodded. He held his sword at the ready, ears flattened back against his head, and waited for a chance to strike.

 

Eagle Heart watched as the weapons appeared, then he began to more thoroughly search the environment. He was looking for anything useful: small places the Chimera couldn't fit into, things to hide behind, towers of rocks to knock over, things like that. His eyes landed on a large, broken rib cage hanging off of some taller rocks. It was thick and the cracked off pieces looked deadly sharp. He tried to get Shades attention and motioned to it with his head silently, hoping to avoid the Chimera's notice.

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Shade nodded back to him as he spotted the bones, "We will keep it distracted, Go." Instantly, small stinging beams shot out from Shade's force field, the Lion head held up a large paw to shield itself. Caesar flew in at the same time, he slashed at the Goat head, but the beast parried against him with its horns. Caesar grit his teeth and flapped his bat wings harder to press his hold with the Goat head, creating a small opening from below. Shadow and Ally sped around, dodging the fast attacks of the Snake head tail, using their weapons to parry against the Snake's sharp fangs.

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Eagle took off for the rocks, knowing it would be nigh impossible to climb with his wing damaged, but also knowing he had to try. He started jumping upwards, flapping his one wing haggardly, then would catch a hoof hold in the rock and do it again.

Meanwhile, Gilded ran in below the Goat head, his sword up. He ran in into the beast's furry neck as fast, hard, and quickly as he could.

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The skin on the Goats neck split, Gilded's sword struck in a third of its length, the Goat let out a painful groggy sound as it recoiled back. Caesar pushed off but dove back in quickly, grabbing Gilded and taking a giant pawful of claws to the back. The two went flying back across the hard ground, crashing into a pile of bone. Caesar rolled over mumbling a fury curses, his wings were torn and bloody with a four deep gashes going down his back, "I'm gonna be alright, believe it or not I've come back from worse, get back in there and help them take this beast down." He said weakly. Shadow flipped around dodging the Snakes advances, Ally landed on the Snakes body, pining it down with her hoof blades. Shadow picked the exact moment when the Snakes body went taught and the Snakes head paused, Shadow brought arched his scythe over head and stabbed his down through the Snakes head. The Chimera realized it was in trouble, and threw a fit of rage. Shadow and Ally were knocked backwards, Shade reinforced his shield as the Lion headbutted it with all its strength, the ground beneath shattered and cratered in. "Hurry Eagle!" Shade called out.

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Eagle was panting, going as quickly as he could. Blood was dripping down his back, matting his feathers and fur and making it even more difficult to fly than it already was. He was nearing the top when Shade called out to him, and the sound of the battle shifting below drew him into fear for their safety, allowing him a burst of adrenaline that he used to propel himself the last few feet upwards, catching the top of the rock and pulling his body up. He lay there panting for only a second, then he got up and started pushing against the mass of bones. It was bigger than him, and he didn't want to think about what it had come from. He leaned his good shoulder against it and pushed with all of his might, digging his hooves into the ground, and finally he began to move it. With a few more desperate shoves, the rack of bones fell towards to Chimera's body. "Look out!" he shouted, hoping the batponies and Gilded would get out of the way in time.

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The Chimera, disabled of its Goat and Snake head, looked up at the noise. As it tried to flee, shadowy vines snaked around its legs, holding it in place. The Loins head glared down at Shade, who glared back with equal fury before the bones and rocks covered them both, dust kicked up and clouded the area. Ally raced over to give Caesar and hoof, Shadow flew up to Eagle to help him stand, "Good work." He told him acknowledgingly. Below, the rocks and bones shifted, a second later the Chimera burst from the debris in a roar of anger, bones had impaled its body in several places, along with many bruised and battered spots. The Lion head, missing an eye, glanced around to find the other attackers when looked back to its front. From below the rocks, Shade rose up, floating inside the shield, his eyes and horn lit up with an intimidating green and purple glow. Shadow sighed, "So much for keeping it 50 percent." As he spoke, Shade's magic shield turned into several large and long shards, surrounding the beast. The Chimera let out a final roar before the shards zoomed in, impaling from all angles, the roar ended in a croaking and deathly gasp before the Chimera went silent. Shade released his magic, the shards vanished, and his eyes went back to normal. "I will extract the bone marrow, should only take a few seconds." He said calmly. Caesar weakly patted Gildeds shoulder, "Well done Laddy, very few ponies would ever dare to face such odds, even Royal Guards. You have Our upmost Respect." He told him thankfully.

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"Well, I couldn't just let you guys take all the credit," Eagle replied with a smirk, before his damaged leg buckled underneath his weight and he landed on his still-injured rib and wing. He let out a ragged gasp of pain, then forced a smile. "I'm okay."

 

Gilded looked Caesar over, then returned the pat. "And you all have mine. I hope we get to work together again sometime. Maybe under... Less threatening circumstances, though. Now let's hurry and get this back to Trax, before it's too late." He took a quick look around for his brother-in-law, finally spotting his tail hanging over the edge of the rock. Gilded frowned, concerned. There was no way he could climb that thing. "Shadow?! Is he alright up there?!"

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"A little battered, but He'll pull through." Shadow replied as he helped Eagle onto his back and hopped off the side of the rocky outcrop, gliding down to them. "His recovery time is going to be pushed back some, but He's a strong one." He added with a smirk. Shade teleported to them, "I have the bone marrow, are we ready to go?" Shadow nodded, "Yes, I think our companions have had enough adventures for one day."

 

After a short Long-Range spell, one used for Luna's Personal Guard to instantly teleport themselves to Her side at long distances, the group found themselves back in the Infirmary room. Trax was laying down now, dark bags under his eyes, the area around his wound had turned a sickly green. He barely made the energy to lift his head as the group appeared, before flopping back down, his breathing was irregular and slower than before. Sun was nowhere to be seen. The Batponies bowed to Luna before Shade gave the nurse the bone marrow, "More than enough." The nurse nodded her thanks before she ran off to make the antidote. Shadow lay Eagle down on an empty bed so the other nurses could tend to his injuries, griping at him as they did for being so reckless. Caesar refused treatment, saying he'd be fine in a few hours, already his wings began to show improvement with not so much tearing. Shadow dipped his head to Gilded, "You two are brave and honorable Stallions, I hope we get to work together another time." He said gladly holding out a hoof to shake.

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Gilded took the hoof and shook it with a sincere smile without a single moment's hesitation. "Me too. In the meantime, you should visit us so we can hang out in between shifts. You could meet my wife and fillies. I'm sure they'd love to meet such strong, brave ponies." He let go of Shadow's hoof then, and moved over to Eagle's side. Eagle, for his part, was trying to insist that he was just fine as the nurses kept fussing about him. They would hear none of it, and one of them even put a bandage over his mouth to stop his protesting. He looked over at Gilded pleadingly, who just smirked and shrugged back. The poof pegasus rolled his eyes at the earth pony.

"Mhrr eff Fuuuh Frrr?" he mumbled out through the makeshift gag. Gilded shook his head.

"She might be in jail already."

Eagle sighed, looking crestfallen. But he finally let the nurses close enough to work without squirming.

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The Batponies nodded their farewells before heading out, this was afterall supposed to be when they slept. Shadow shared a grim exchanging glance with a weary Trax before closing the door behind him. Luna moved to Gilded, "Sun is in a guest room, recovering from fatigue, the wound was minor but the poison did quite a number on her physically. The Nurses confirmed she had a higher dose of the poison in her system, Trax's condition worsened while you were away. He's fighting the good fight, as they say, but I'm afraid without your efforts he wouldn't have survived much longer." She explained to him thankfully, "Truly my Sister knows how to pick her Royal Guards, such honor and bravery is highly commendable." She praised even further. Stryker walked in with an emotionless expression, "You think that's commendable, you should ask how they got into this situation in the first place Princess." He sounded serious, but there was a hint humor in his eyes, years of tiddious and hard work have dulled his facial expressions significantly. 

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Gilded waved after the batponies, then bowed his head humbly to Luna's praise. He was about to respond to her when he heard his commander's voice, and he instantly responded by saluting. Eagle, from the bed where he lay, now covered in bandages, raised a hoof to salute as well, but one of the nurses caught him and pinned him down with a huff.

"It's true, Princess Luna," Gilded sighed, "we were bested by these two ponies who had military experience and stealth on their side, though we caught them in the end. Truly, we should be ashamed of our shorty performance." He ended with a dramatic pose, but managed to keep the smile off of his face.

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Luna and Stryker starred at him unamused for a moment before Stryker continued, "More importantly, they have learned from their mistakes and will do better from here on out. I just came to check in on my Soldiers, good thing too, seeing as how they enjoy being injured." He added jokingly with a glance at Eagle. Luna nodded, "They have more than made up for their past actions, and have brought back who I asked for, even going beyond to ensure their safety." She looked to Gilded and Eagle, "You have my thanks." She then moved over to stand next to Trax's bed, "When I learned they were capable of sneaking inside the Castle, and were able to avoid detection by the Royal Guard, I was intrigued. I spoke with my sister, and she agreed, we are to form a Crime Task Force. With Trax and Sun as it's first Members, their actions and behavior towards Eagle when he was injured confirmed they were capable of compassion, and a willingness to do good." She explained proudly, it was something she had come up with herself, something she could add to the Kingdom.

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