My Little Pony Monthly Issue 36 (March 1, 2000)

My Little Pony Monthly
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Issue 36
March 2000

Letters to the Editor Hi! Just so you know, I always look forward to the new MLP Monthly issues, and especially to the Gossip Hour; I love that one! Two hooves up.


Mimic's Return
by Tabby
with help from Mimic

"Tex, remember me?"

Tex glanced over the customer he was serving at the counter to see who had just entered, and his eyes opened wide in shock when he did. "Mimic?" he gasped.

"That's right." The lime-colored unicorn slid up to the counter and leaned up against it. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"

"Uh, well, yeah, it has," Tex stuttered.

"So, is this salsa shop what you're running nowadays?" Mimic purred.

"What... what're you doing here, Mimic?" Tex managed to say.

"Oh, I'm thinking of moving back," Mimic giggled.

His original customer was growing impatient, so Tex scurried to attend to ringing up his order, keeping his eye on Mimic all the time. "There you, uh, go. Thanks for... coming." Then, with the shop empty, he went back to his conversation.

"Moving back?" he repeated.

"Uh-huh," Mimic affirmed. "Maybe we can get to know each other again, hmm?"

"Well, yeah, maybe. Mimic! I just can't believe it's really you," Tex shook his head in amazement.

"We had some good times back then, didn't we?" Mimic smiled.

"Good times, yeah," Tex nodded. "You're... you're really coming back, Mimic?"

Mimic had held a special place in Tex's heart during their high school days-- he had even forgotten about Tabby to date Mimic. They'd grown apart, however, and Tex hadn't heard any more from her-- until today.

"Yes, yes, I'm really back! Doing anything in particular tonight?" Mimic prodded.

"Anything in particular? Well, no, not really."

"How about taking me to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?" Mimic suggested. "For old time's sake."

"For old time's sake," Tex echoed. "Sure, why not?"

"I knew that's what you'd say," Mimic said happily. "When do you get done working here? We can go over right after that."

"Oh... let's see... about five-thirty," Tex murmured.

"Splendid!" Mimic exclaimed. "That's only an hour away. Mind if I just hang around here ‘till then?"

"No, no, make yourself to home," Tex said quickly. "That'd be... nice."

Mimic promptly seated herself at the counter and smiled to herself as some ponies entered the shop. It didn't look like it'd be that hard to win Tex back.

* * *
Tamara waited impatiently at home for Tex to pick her up for their date at the Estate Manor. It was ten minutes past six, and he was supposed to have arrived at five-thirty. It wasn't like him to be half an hour late.

"O-o-oh, I wish he'd at least call if he's hung up somewhere!" Tamara said in exasperation.

"What's that, Tammy?" Tabby, who had invited herself over to her cousin's house that afternoon, questioned as she breezed through the room just then.

"Tex is half an hour late for our date at the Estate Manor!" Tamara wailed, pacing back and forth.

"Oh, is that all?" Tabby continued on down the hallway. She had naturally made herself to home.

"Tabitha! This is important!" Tamara sighed. "What could be keeping him?"

"For Pete's sake! Just relax for a second, would you?" Tabby peeked back in the room. "He probably just forgot and he's going to meet you at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe like usual."

Tamara's face brightened. "Do you really think that's it?"

"Trust me, Tamara. It'd be just like him to forget."

"Then we'd better get over there right away!" Tamara scrambled up from her seat on the couch.

"You can go on your own," Tabby contradicted. "I've got other things to do tonight. Goodbye!" Without another word, she had darted out the door and was on her way.

Tamara hurriedly grabbed her purse and dashed out the door as well. She had to admit that Tabby's theory did make sense. But hopefully he wouldn't be mad at her for being late now!

Upon arriving at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, Tamara anxiously peered around at the tables before ordering anything. She sighed with relief as she spotted him at one of their favorite tables in the back. She waved in an attempt to get his attention before getting in line... but it was then that she noticed that he wasn't alone at the table.

Tamara's heart stood still for a moment as she saw the lime-green unicorn sitting across from Tex. Her face immediately clouded over as she stepped out of line and stormed off towards the two.

Tex and Mimic were in deep conversation, and didn't notice the approaching pony. Tamara set her front hooves down on the table. "Tex, what's going on here?" she asked sharply.

Tex looked up abruptly and appeared utterly surprised to see Tamara there. "Oh, Tamara, hi!"

"Tex, do you happen to remember anything about a date at the Estate Manor tonight?" Tamara snapped.

"The Estate Manor?" A confused look crossed Tex's face. "Why, were we going there?"

"Yes, we were," Tamara fumed. "But I see that you found something better to do."

"Tex, I don't believe you told me about this friend of yours yet," Mimic purred. "She looks quite a bit like Tabby, actually."

"Oh." Tex straightened up. "Mimic, this is my friend Tamara. And Tamara, this is one of my old friends from high school, Mimic."

"Tamara?" Mimic cocked her eye. "What, did you change your name, Tabby?"

"I still don't think that explains our forgotten date, Tex," Tamara steamed, ignoring Mimic for the moment.

"I'm really sorry about that, Tamara," Tex apologized. "It's just that I saw Mimic in town today for the first time in years, and I wanted to catch up on old times."

"That's right," Mimic nodded. "Old times."

"Well, have fun discussing your ‘old times'," Tamara snarled, "because you sure aren't going to be discussing anything with me from now on." She abruptly turned from the table.

"Tamara, wait!" Tex called her back.

"Why should I?"

"Pull up a chair and join us," Tex invited. "I really didn't mean anything by it."

"We have lots of exciting stories to share with you," Mimic added. "Especially why you changed your mind about Tex, Tabby. The last I knew, you two were arch-rivals."

Tamara grudgingly pulled up another chair. She wanted to at least find out more about this Mimic before storming out of the shop. "For your information, I am not Tabby," Tamara said snobbishly. "I'm her cousin, and my name is Tamara."

"Oh? Tabby never mentioned an identical cousin."

"We're not identical. We have different eye colors."

Mimic peered into Tamara's yellow eyes. "Hmm. You're right. Tabby's eyes were purple, weren't they?"

"That's enough about me." Tamara switched her attention to Tex. "So, Tex, just how good of friends are you and Mimic?"

"Pretty good, actually," Mimic giggled. "We've been catching up on a lot this afternoon."

"That's so... nice," Tamara said in mock-politeness. "I'm sure you're having a blast with her, Tex."

"It's nice finding an old friend," was all Tex would say.

"Oh, I think we'll become much more than that, Tex," Mimic said, batting her eyelashes. "So, Tamara, Tabby's your cousin, is she? What's she up to these days?"

"I wouldn't really know," Tamara mumbled, not wanting to say any more than she had to.

"I see that there's some other old acquaintances I'll have to look up," Mimic commented. "But, as it is, it's getting late... I think I'll just be heading back to the hotel now."

"I'll walk you there," Tex offered immediately, jumping up.

"How nice of you," Mimic smiled.

"Certainly, Tex. Just go on your way," Tamara snapped. "What do I care?"

"You don't have to act so bitter against Mimic. She's just a friend," Tex mumbled. "Come on, Mimic." The two turned to leave.

Tamara stood and watched them go. " ‘Just a friend', eh? Well, Mimic, I'm not giving up that easily." She sensed that there was trouble brewing ahead.

* * *
"Oh, no," Tabby gasped as she looked out her door the next morning. "It can't be."

"Hello, Tabby!" Mimic, who stood on Tabby's front porch, called out cheerfully. "Long time no see, huh?"

"What're you doing here, Mimic?" Tabby took a step back.

"Coming back to my home town. Is there anything wrong with that?"

"No, but... why're you talking to me?"

"You're an old acquaintance, Tabby! And I ran into your cousin last night."

"Oh? She didn't say anything about that."

"Of course, she wasn't too happy that I was at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe with Tex," Mimic grinned deviously.

"No, I wouldn't think she would be," Tabby agreed.

"Sure, Tex may be seeing her now, but that won't last long," Mimic continued. "He's still mine."

"I could care less about who Tex ends up with," Tabby snarled, attempting to get a hoof out the door. "And now, if you'll let me, I have to get to work."

"So you actually have a job?" Mimic said curiously. "I didn't think you'd ever make it that far. What place was desperate enough to hire you?"

"I'm the nurse at the Pokčmon Center, if you must know," Tabby snapped, securely locking the door and stepping outside.

"Pokčmon?" Mimic wrinkled her nose. "Ugh! I should have known you'd end up with something like that."

"What, you've got something against Pokčmon, too?" Tabby glanced at Mimic.

"Pokčmon are for toddlers, Tabby," Mimic rolled he eyes.

"Toddlers?" Tabby's eyes opened wide with rage. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Mimic shrugged. "Baby ponies, you know. That's the only age group Pokčmon are for."

"For your information, Mimic," Tabby fumed, "Pokčmon are not for toddlers. It's mostly only the adults that train them around here."

"And still wasting your time collecting toys?" Mimic prodded.

Tabby turned and looked back at Mimic venomously. "ARGH! Mimic, just leave me alone! You've done nothing but insult me since you first met me in school! Annoy Tamara if you must, but not me!" Boiling with rage, Tabby fled down the street, leaving Mimic as far behind as she could.

Upon arriving at the Pokčmon Center, Tabby collapsed behind her desk. From past experiences, she knew that Mimic would bring no good with her.

* * *
The next morning, just as Tamara was sitting down to breakfast, her doorbell rang. She knew of only one person who would call at anyone's house this early in the day.

"The mysterious cloaked flower deliverer!" Tamara gasped upon opening the door.

The cloaked figure held out a tissue-wrapped bouquet and said simply, "Delivery for you." And then he was off.

Tamara excitedly walked back inside while unwrapping the bouquet. To her delight, a wonderful bunch of red roses was revealed. "From Tex?" she said aloud upon reading the attached card. "He really does still care!"

The message from Tex continued on to say that he was "really sorry" about how he acted last night and if he could still make it up to Tamara, he'd take her to the Estate Manor that evening.

"Mimic, if you think you're in the lead, you're dead wrong," Tamara said smugly, going to her phone to get in touch with Tex.

* * *
Tex seemed back to normal when he arrived to pick Tamara up that evening, and Tamara was elated. Mimic had obviously just been a passing thing; Tex would completely forget his old friend now.

At least, that's what Tamara thought until they were seated at the Estate Manor. After Tamara decided on her order, she noticed that Tex was staring intently at something across the room. "Tex? Is something wrong?" she queried.

"Oh, no, nothing," Tex mumbled, dropping his gaze back onto their table.

Tamara shrugged. "Well, how was business at the shop today?"

"The shop? Oh, uh... good," Tex said distantly.

Tamara clenched her jaw. Tex certainly didn't seem to be in the conversing mood tonight. She tried again. "Have you thought of expanding the shop yet?"

Tex was silent. Tamara looked over at him again in annoyance. As before, he was staring off at the opposite wall. Frowning, Tamara turned herself to find out what had so absorbed Tex. It greatly disturbed her to see a certain lime green unicorn seated alone at a small table on the far wall.

"Tex?" Tamara prodded.

"Oh! Did you say something?"

Tamara shook her head. Obviously Mimic was not out of the picture yet. "Don't you think my new necklace looks stunning?" she tried.

"Stunning. Of course," Tex murmured, twirling his fork around his plate.

"I think a diamond ring would complement it nicely. Don't you?"

"A ring? You'll have to check the... jewelry store."

Tamara swiveled around in her seat again. She hoped that Mimic would finish up at the restaurant soon, but her rival was still sitting there.

Even after Mimic did leave (she obviously hadn't seen Tex and Tamara), it didn't help Tex's thought pattern any. He was still extremely withdrawn, and Tamara couldn't get a bit of intelligent conversation out of him.

Mimic, I'll get you yet, Tamara muttered.

* * *
Meanwhile, Mimic realized that it would be easy enough to win Tex back from Tamara. She still had that same mesmerizing effect on him. However, it couldn't hurt to speed up the process. She decided to put in another visit to her old friend, Tabby.

That Saturday afternoon, Tabby was horrified a second time to spot Mimic on her front porch. With Tamara moved out now and Tarquin away with Tess for the day, she was all alone against Mimic. It was only curiosity that compelled her to open the door.

"Tabby," Mimic said briskly upon being admitted into the house, "I need your help."

"Oh?" Tabby cocked an eyebrow cautiously. "As in what?"

"I'm looking to dig up some personal information about your cousin Tamara," Mimic explained. "You're aware of the situation, I'm sure."

Tabby indeed was well aware of the situation, as Tamara had done nothing but rant to her about it for the last few days. "Personal information? What's in it for me?"

"You'll just be better off if you do," Mimic said simply.

Tabby thought over her options. She still had a little family loyalty, and would rather be on her cousin's side than the side of this... this acquaintance from high-school. Of course, she still didn't really think much of Tex and didn't see what Tamara saw in him-- even if Tabby had forgiven him for the worm incident, she still didn't particularly want him on her family tree. And if she helped Mimic just a little...

"What kind of personal information?" Tabby prodded.

"Just something that can be used against her and spread around as a rumor. You must know something like that about your own cousin."

"Well... well... no, not really."

"You don't?"

"I mean, I never liked her as a kid and never tried to find out more about her than I had to, and she's only been in Dream Valley for the past year..."

"Come on, there has to be something you can dredge up."

"Well... there might be one thing," Tabby paused. "Tamara doesn't really like Tex's salsa."

"Really?" Mimic perked up in interest.

"Right," Tabby nodded. "In fact, the jar of it he gave to her on our birthday she secretly gave to Clever Clover in turn."

"Is that so?" Mimic grinned. "Well, I must admit that you were more cooperative than I thought you would be."

"Will you kindly leave now?" Tabby snarled. "I don't want to get involved in this any more."

"Still as touchy as before, aren't you?" Mimic laughed. "It was always so much fun picking on you."


"Alright, I'm going!" Mimic turned to leave. "But just remember, Tex is mine, okay?"

"That's fine with me," was all Tabby said after Mimic had closed the door.

* * *
"Tamara, is it true that you don't really like Tex's salsa?"

Tamara looked up abruptly at Tiffany's remark. "What do you mean, I don't like Tex's salsa?"

Tiffany set her purse up on the counter of the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. "That's what I've been hearing today."

Tamara gulped as she waited for Scoops to fill her order. "Well, that's just silly," she retorted.

"But everyone's talking about it," Tiffany persisted. "There must be some truth behind it."

"Everybody?" Tamara's eyes opened wide.

"Really, I wouldn't hold it against you," Tiffany chattered on. "I just don't know how Tex'll hold up to it. He's very proud of his salsa blend, you know."

"Exactly! And I don't have anything against it!" Tamara bluffed. "Whatever rumor this is, it's not true!"

"Tamara?" Scoops' voice pierced into Tamara's mind. "Here's your sundae. That'll be three jangles."

"We'll talk more later," Tamara dismissed herself from her friend, and scurried off to find a table with a good vantage point. She had to be alerted as soon as Tex came in.

A million thoughts ran through her head. She couldn't figure it out. Maybe it was true that she really didn't like Tex's salsa... but she kept that an extremely guarded secret; not even her best friend Tiffany knew. She never wanted Tex to find out, lest he look down upon her for it. And that was hardly what she needed now with Mimic on the scene.

But how had word about it gotten out? Tamara thought back. Could it be Clever Clover? He had been the one to whom she had given away her jar of salsa, which had been a birthday present from Tex. He didn't seem like the rumor-spreading type, but it may have leaked out accidentally.

Of course, maybe Tiffany had exaggerated over the fact of "everyone" knowing. She was known to do that at times. Tamara hoped that Tex hadn't heard anything about it yet. But if he had... well, certainly he had more sense than to get upset at her for it.

At least Tiffany doesn't seem too concerned with it now, Tamara thought to herself in relief. The princess was currently batting her eyelashes and giggling frequently as she conversed with some of the stallions working at the coffee shop section of the ice cream parlor.

But it was then that Tex walked in.

Tamara instantly jumped up from her seat and attempted to look natural as she strolled up to Tex. "Hello there," she purred.

"Tamara." Tex looked at her wide-eyed. "You don't like my salsa."

Tamara's face fell. He had heard. "Now, Tex, that's not what I meant at all," she tried to justify herself.

"You could have told me instead of leading me on like this," Tex said.

"But Tex!" Tamara protested. "It's not that I don't approve of your shop..."

"You just don't like what it sells," Tex said accusingly.

Tamara sighed. "I might not particularly care for salsa, but that doesn't mean I dislike you for it."

"Well, you still pretended to like it when you didn't."

"But... but..." Tamara thought quickly. "Oh, Tex! The only reason I pretended is because I wanted so badly for you to like me."

"Really?" Tex asked hopefully.

Tamara turned her head away and hoped that her sniffle sounded authentic. "I just thought that... that... you'd look down upon me if you knew."

"Oh, Tamara!" Tex put his front leg around Tamara's shoulders. "You didn't have to pretend. I would have understood."

Tamara gazed adoringly up into his eyes. She had been forgiven. It was at that moment that her reverie was shattered, however.

"Hello, Tex. Hello, Tamara," came Mimic's voice. "I thought I'd find you here!"

"Mimic!" Tex immediately pushed Tamara away and dashed over to greet his old friend. "I'd been hoping I'd catch you here!"

Tamara scowled as the two went into a deep conversation. Tex led Mimic off to a table, completely forgetting Tamara. Mimic smirked at Tamara as they went by.

"Why, you little..." Tamara seethed to herself. Of course it had been Mimic who had started the salsa rumor. How she had found out that fact wasn't important; what was important was finding the proper retaliation.

* * *
"So you want me to dig up something on Mimic's past that'll hurt her reputation now?"

"Exactly," Tamara nodded.

Tabby had not been too surprised by her cousin's request; actually, she had been expecting it. She decided she'd help Tamara out, too. She didn't know who to root for, and it would be interesting to get the inside story on the current happenings in the situation if she played on both sides.

"Well? Can you remember anything?" Tamara prodded.

"Yeah, but I'm just trying to figure out which one would work best," Tabby said contemplatively.

"She's just an... an... obnoxious worm!" Tamara hissed.

"That was always one of her favorite transformations," Tabby nodded.


"Oh, that's her unicorn magic. She can change into anything. She liked being a worm."

"It suits her," Tamara huffed.

"Now, there was the time she was dating Slugger at the same time she was seeing Tex," Tabby said after a pause. "Tex never found out."

"Really?" Tamara's eyes opened wide at the prospect. "What happened to Slugger?"

"Oh, Mimic dumped him not too long after that," Tabby recalled. "I think."

"That will work perfectly," Tamara grinned fiendishly. "Mind if I put in a call to Tiffany right now?" Tex would never forgive her for doing something like that! she thought jubilantly.

"Sure, why not? Spread all the rumors you want."

Tamara motioned her cousin to be quiet as she let the phone ring. "Tiffany! How are you today? Do you know about that Mimic that's back in town? Well, did you hear that she..."

* * *
"Hey, Love Token!" Snowdrop greeted her friend as they ran into each other at the salsa shop the next day.

"Snowdrop, hello!" Love Token acknowledged. "I didn't know you did much shopping here."

"Oh, I don't usually, but..." Snowdrop lowered her voice. "I wanted to stop by and see if I could find out anything more about what I've been hearing."

"What? Something about the salsa shop?" Love Token's ears perked up.

Snowdrop nodded and continued in a hushed voice. "You know Tex's new girlfriend? The one with the parrot symbol?"

Love Token nodded. "What about her?"

"I heard that she's already married to another guy! He's a big-name baseball player."

"Really?" Love Token gasped. "And Tex doesn't know?"

"I'm not sure yet. That's why I came in here."

"Wow." Love Token gazed over at the counter, where Tex was attending to customers as usual. "The poor guy. He'll be devastated when he finds out."

As was usual with gossip, this rumor had already gotten out of proportion, much to Tamara's delight. The way the news about Mimic and Slugger was going, Tex would never want to lay eyes on his "old friend" again.

Tex, as of yet, was oblivious to all the talk about him, however. That is, until Love Token came up to him to pay for a purchase.

"I'm just so sorry about Mimic and all," Love Token murmured, setting her bottle of salsa on the counter.

"Mimic?" Tex asked anxiously. "What happened to her? Is it serious? Is she okay?"

Love Token just smiled sympathetically. "I know how you must feel. Finding out all of a sudden that she's already married to Slugger..."

"Married?" Tex echoed. His heart dropped, and his face turned pale. In a state of shock, he rang up Love Token' purchase. Mimic couldn't be married... she wouldn't do anything like that...

Love Token paid for her salsa and made a quick exit, seeing that Mimic had just strolled in the building. The lime green unicorn walked boldly up to the counter. "Hi, Tex," she said cheerfully.

"Mimic..." Tex just stared at her blankly.

Mimic giggled. "What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"So you're married already, huh?" Tex sighed.

Mimic looked taken aback. "Me? Married?" she said in surprise. "However did you get that notion in your head?"

"But... Love Token said you were..." Tex trailed off.

"Oh!" Mimic recalled. "Is it that silly rumor about me and Slugger?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Tex shrugged.

"Well, it's not true," Mimic said firmly. "I haven't seen nor thought about Slugger in years."

"But you did at one point?" Tex said accusingly.

"Well, maybe I did sorta like him, for a little while," Mimic admitted. "But that was a long time ago!"

"Oh..." Tex still looked unconvinced.

"I was young and foolish back then, Tex!" Mimic pleaded, looking him straight in the eye. "I'm different now. I'm not sneaking around behind your back."

"Oh, Mimic!" Tex reached across the counter and drew Mimic in close to him.

"Oh, Tex!" Mimic melted in his embrace. "I knew you'd understand."

It was only when Tex made the move to tenderly kiss Mimic when Tamara decided to drop in. "Am I interrupting something?" the pink unicorn said curtly.

"Tamara..." Tex looked at Mimic uncomfortably.

Mimic only smiled smugly. "How nice of you to drop in, Tamara."

"I guess I'll be on my way," Tamara said coolly, turning to leave. "I suppose our date for later is off."

"Wait!" Tex said pleadingly, pulling away from Mimic after a moment's hesitation. "Tamara, don't go!"

Tamara glanced stonily back at him. "It doesn't look like you have a need for me any more."

"You're both good friends of mine," Tex defended himself.

Since when did I go from girlfriend to a "good friend"? Tamara fumed to herself.

"Tex, I think I'd better go now so you can patch things up with Tamara here," Mimic offered. "Don't forget our date tonight."

With Mimic out the door, Tamara turned her full attention to Tex. Tex just stared downwards and avoided eye contact.

"I guess it slipped your mind again that you were meeting me," Tamara snapped.

"I didn't mean to," Tex mumbled.

"Tex, look at yourself! You act like a mindless zombie whenever Mimic is around."

"She's an old friend, Tamara."

"I'm sick of that line, Tex! Get a grip on yourself!"

"Tamara, please don't be upset."

It was that line from Tex that melted Tamara's heart. "Alright," she said softly. "I understand. You need some time with Mimic; that's all."

"Right. I guess." Tex continued to stare down at the counter as he fumbled with the drawer of his antique cash register.

"You know," Tamara said, coming over to inspect the out-of-date model, "you should really get a modern computer system for this place."

"This one was cheap," Tex shrugged. "I picked it up at a garage sale."

"Still, it would make the running of your shop easier with a new model," Tamara suggested. Well, he'll at least see that I care about his business even if I don't like his salsa, she reflected.

"I've just never felt like taking the money out for one," Tex said.

"Oh?" Tamara began to get the inkling of an idea. "Well... what if..."

"What?" Tex asked curiously.

"I'll tell you what, Tex," Tamara offered. "I'll buy you a new system."

"Tamara! You don't have to do that!" Tex protested.

"I want to," Tamara said solemnly as their gaze met. "For the good of the salsa shop."

Tex nodded in surprise. "Alright. That's really nice of you."

Tamara felt that she had made some headway in winning Tex back. "Well, I guess I'll get out of here now," she said cheerfully. "You'll have to get ready for your meeting with Mimic."

"Yeah, Tamara," Tex said, still a little shocked. "Bye."

* * *
Tamara was feeling extremely positive by the next morning. She had already called around to several manufacturers, and had placed an order for a new cash register she felt confident that Tex would be at ease with. She thought she'd drop in at his house to tell him about it.

She rang his doorbell and waited impatiently. Tex was usually prompt at answering the door, but something was delaying him this time. She paused and listened closely. She could hear the conversing of voices inside. He must have company. Company that could only be...

"M-Mimic," Tamara stuttered when her rival opened the door. "That is-- that is-- I wasn't expecting to see you," she corrected herself.

"Oh," Mimic laughed, "I just dropped in on Tex earlier. We've been talking about old times."

"Yes, where is he..." Tamara trailed off, searching the area behind Mimic.

"Right here, Tamara," Tex said cheerfully, coming up behind Mimic. "We've just been playing with Emilio. He sure does like Mimic."

Tamara grew a little weak in the knees at the sight of the hairy tarantula that was perched on Tex's back. "Oh... that's... nice..." she managed to say. She had always been squeamish of spiders, and had been glad that Tex had never enforced her in getting to know his specimen of the species.

"He's just such a sweet little thing," Mimic cooed, reaching for Emilio herself. "Here, Tamara, pet him." She held the tarantula out towards Tamara.

Tamara let out an involuntary shriek and tripped down off Tex's porch steps. "That's... I'm... just... not..." she said nervously. She had learned to control herself around Emilio, but not when he was shoved at her without warning.

"You're scared of him?" Tex's face fell noticeably as he looked on at Tamara's reaction.

"Aw, his feelings are hurt now," Mimic said, stroking the fuzzy spider.

"He just... took me by surprise," Tamara laughed tensely.

"You never told me you didn't like Emilio, either," Tex said sorrowfully, pushing past Mimic to confront Tamara.

"Well... it's just a natural phobia," Tamara defended herself. "I try to get along with him. I do!"

"You could have at least told me," Tex sighed. "Mimic, will you go put him back in his cage?"

Mimic nodded and ducked back into the house with Emilio. Tamara continued to attempt to convince Tex of her innocence. "I never meant to lie to you," she pleaded. "I'm just not comfortable around spiders."

Tex shook his head. "You've explained yourself, Tamara. No need to go on."

"Oh... okay," Tamara breathed a sigh of relief.

"Why not come inside?" Tex invited. "Mimic and I were just starting a game of Monopoly. You can join us."

"That would be fun," Tamara smiled, allowing Tex to lead her back up the steps. "I think that would be very fun."

* * *
It was several hours later when Tamara and Mimic both excused themselves from Tex's house. Though the two hadn't gotten into any skirmishes per se, their resentment of each other had been clearly radiating throughout the day. When Tamara announced that she was leaving, Mimic thought it would be a good chance to get in some private conversation with her.

When the two were a fair distance away from Tex's house, Mimic began to speak. "We both know what the situation is, don't we?"

Tamara nodded silently.

"Neither of us is going to give him up that easily." Mimic glanced over at Tamara reproachfully. "Even if he was mine long before you even knew each other."

"That doesn't mean you two were meant to be," Tamara snarled.

"Well, how about a match between the two of us? And the victor will win Tex."

Tamara looked up at Mimic sharply. "What sort of a ‘match'?" she asked cautiously.

"A battle of unicorn magic, of course, seeing that you're a unicorn as well," Mimic giggled. "How about it? Are you up to it?"

"Well... what exactly would this match involve?" Tamara stalled.

"We'll both use our magic to its fullest extent for as long as we're able," Mimic said matter-of-factly. "Whoever holds out the longest is the winner."

"Like... winking?"

"Obviously," Mimic rolled her eyes. "Winking and our own unicorn power, of course."

"Oh, umm..." Tamara stared down at the ground as she walked ahead slowly.

"What? You're not afraid to lose, are you?" Mimic taunted.

"Of course I'm not afraid to lose," Tamara snapped.

"Then you'll agree to it?" Mimic queried. "A battle between ourselves?"


"If not, I'll just win Tex by default," Mimic said calmly.

Sparks flew in Tamara's eyes. "Alright, I'll do it! When and where?"

"The park, this afternoon at three o' clock," Mimic said promptly, as if she had already put serious consideration into planning the affair.

"I'll be there," Tamara said simply before trotting ahead and leaving Mimic behind on the path.

"She'll be there! But will she win?" Mimic laughed to herself.

* * *
"You both know why you're here, don't you?" Tamara paced impatiently across the floor of her living room.

"No, not really," Tabby sighed, tapping her hoof on the floor.

"Hmm? What was that?" Tiffany distractedly inspected her hoof and wiped an invisible speck of dirt off.

"Okay, here's the story," Tamara said in a rush. "Mimic has proposed a battle of unicorn magic between us to determine who wins Tex at three o' clock this afternoon."

"I'm not getting any more involved in this, am I?" Tabby wailed.

"A battle of unicorn magic?" Tiffany wrinkled her nose. "You poor unicorns; you don't know what you're missing not being pegasi."

"And I'm dreadfully out of practice at using any of my magic," Tamara continued. "And, well, I thought I'd get you two over here to help me out."

"You want us to instruct you on magic?" Tabby queried. "Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

"Unicorn magic. That's elementary level stuff," Tiffany sniffed. "And so far below us pegasi."

"It's easy enough to wink, Tammy. You don't need help on that," Tabby went on.

"Well..." Tamara said slowly. "It's not easy when you haven't used any of your powers since you were eight years old."

"Since you were eight?" Tabby gasped. "You haven't used any magic since you were eight?"

"It's really a pity that Toby isn't a pegasus," Tiffany sighed.

"Not... not since that incident with winking into the boy's bathroom accidentally," Tamara confessed.

"Oh?" Tabby cocked an eyebrow. "You never told me about that one."

"But the point is, I'm really out of practice," Tamara said.

"What about your special power? You still use that, don't you?" Tabby prodded.

"Eh... um..." Tamara stared down at the floor.

"What is your unicorn magic, anyway? I can't seem to remember..."

"That... that's really because... I never found out myself," Tamara admitted.

Tabby shook her head. "Tsk, tsk. If you're going to be battling with magic, you're doomed, Tammy."

"But she mustn't give up!" Tiffany declared. "Not with the friendship of a handsome stallion at stake."

"Can't you guys help me get warmed up for it?" Tamara pleaded.

"First we'll see how well you can do winking yet," Tabby instructed. "Just wink over to the other side of the room, alright?"

"I'll... I'll try." Tamara turned and stared at the opposite wall. She turned sheepishly back to Tabby and Tiffany. "How do I do it?"

"Oh, for Pete's sake! Just concentrate on winking," Tabby said impatiently.

"And Tex," Tiffany added.

This time Tamara closed her eyes and thought intently. Her pink horn began to glow... only faintly at first, but it steadily grew in brightness. Tabby and Tiffany watched in interest. And suddenly, Tamara disappeared and rematerialized in a flash of sparkling light behind the couch.

Tabby and Tiffany turned around to look at her. "Hmm," Tabby said thoughtfully. "You didn't get to the other side of the room, but it's better than nothing."

"I want to find out what your unicorn magic is," Tiffany complained. "Concentrate on that instead of winking."

"Wait!" Tamara silenced them. "Let me try again." She went through the same procedure, but this time ended-up on the opposite side of the room, as originally instructed. "Look! I did it!" she squealed.

"Oooh," Tabby cheered insincerely. Tiffany clapped her hooves slightly-- very slightly.

This was followed by Tamara winking to other points within the house and finally reappearing back in the living room. "Wow! It's all coming back to me!" she gasped.

"Good. Now for your unicorn magic," Tabby said.

"How do I figure out what that is?" Tamara fretted.

"Well, you two are identical in looks; maybe your power is the same, too," Tiffany suggested.

"We are not identical!" Tamara said indignantly.

"I have the better eye color," Tabby agreed.

"Grr..." Tamara glanced at her cousin.

"I suppose it's possible to have my same power," Tabby reflected, swiftly changing her shape into a delicate Siamese cat.

"But how do I find it?" Tamara wailed.

"Hee hee! And now I'm a guinea pig!" Tabby transformed again, and scurried under the couch.

Tamara looked disdainfully at the rodent-like creature that was her cousin. "Get out from under there, Tabby."

"Eeew! It's a disgusting rodent!" Tiffany shrieked. "Turn into something else, Tabby!"

The next thing they knew, Tabby was an elegant peacock perched on the back of the couch. "C'mon, Tammy. It's easy enough to find out your power. Just think deep thoughts."

"That's easy for you to say," Tamara muttered.

"Now, here's one I never thought of before..." Tabby the peacock changed into Tabby the Furby-- a lovely pink Furby with a red mane. She floated over onto Tamara's back. "Hee hee! Party, wah!"

"Tabby, get off my back," Tamara said through clenched jaws. Tabby was taking this all too lightly... she'd show her... she'd show her... Tamara tried to think the prescribed deep thoughts.

All of a sudden, Tabby the Furby was plunged down onto the ground as her support suddenly disappeared. Wait, no, her support had just grown smaller. Tamara was now a mouse.

"Hmm," Tabby said critically, changing back into her natural unicorn self, "fascinating." She stared down intently at Tamara the mouse.

"Oh no! Not another rodent!" Tiffany squealed.

"I guess you've found your magic power, Tammy," Tabby commented. "You can turn yourself into a mouse. That'll come in handy, I'm sure."

The tiny gray figure on the floor glared up at her cousin. And suddenly, Tamara became a menacingly black panther.

"You look just like my Theodora, all grown up," Tiffany cooed, stroking the panther's fur.

"Watch out. She bites," Tabby cautioned.

"If you keep it up like that, I will," Tamara growled.

"Aww, come on. If it hadn't been for us, you wouldn't have gotten this far."

"Well... well... Tabby, do you know what?!" Tamara gasped, regained her natural form. "You two, I found my magic power!!" she exclaimed, as if just realizing it.

"Congratulations. Now you can change into any living thing, just like me," Tabby yawned.

"It's more convenient to have wings," Tiffany argued.

"I have magic! I have magic!" Tamara shrieked excitedly, twirling around the room. "I have magic!"

"Yeah, but if you're going to beat Mimic, you'll have to perfect it," Tabby warned. "Mimic is good. I should know."

"Well, then, what're we waiting for? Watch me! Watch me!"

* * *
When three o' clock rolled around, Tamara was confident that she had mastered every aspect of her unicorn magic in the few hours she had been able to practice. She smugly walked up to Mimic when she arrived at the park. Tex is as good as mine, she thought gleefully to herself.

Tabby and Tiffany had decided to tag along, too. They seated themselves on a park bench. "Let's get this going, guys!" Tabby called. "I didn't pay for this seat for nothing."

"Actually," Tiffany corrected, "we didn't--"

"So, you showed up, eh, Tamara?" Mimic smirked. "Let's do like Tabby says and get started."

"And we're just going to use our unicorn magic to the best of our abilities, and see who holds out the longest?" Tamara clarified.

"That's what I said before, isn't it?" Mimic said flippantly. "And whoever wins the match wins Tex."

"Tammy, going through all this is pathetic just to get a guy," Tabby commented.

"That's what you think!" Tamara snapped back.

"It's time to begin, Tamara," Mimic reminded.

"Right." Tamara took a deep breath. "I'm ready."

"Then... let's GO!"

"Tamara, teleport attack, now!" Tabby shouted from the sidelines.

"Huh?" Tamara glanced back momentarily, but decided not to listen to her cousin. Mimic had already winked away, and Tamara followed suit.

You know, this is kinda fun, Tamara reflected as she kept materializing at different points throughout the park. And not too hard, either.

"There is just nothing like watching two unicorns wink around a park, is there, Tiffany?" Tabby said to the princess.

"I've never been so bored in my life," Tiffany sighed.

"That's exactly what I was thinking," Tabby agreed.

At one point, Mimic and Tamara both ended up face-to-face at the riverbank. "Worn out yet?" Tamara said tauntingly.

"Worn out? Never!" Mimic declared. "I'm just warming up. Besides, enough of this winking. It's too tame. Let's get on to our other unicorn magic."

"Fine with me," Tamara said recklessly.

In a flash of light, Mimic had suddenly became a large cactus plant. Tamara retaliated by changing into a terrifying hawk. (Whereas Tamara was limited into changing her form into only living creatures, Mimic could turn into anything, sentient and non-sentient.)

This was followed by Mimic turning into a large lion, and Tamara an elegant deer. And then a larger-than-life chili pepper and a raccoon. And then a tiny worm and a nauseatingly-cute kitten with enormous eyes.

"Can we speed this thing up, guys?" Tabby called out.

"Yes, please," Tiffany nodded. "I have to meet Toby in an hour."

Tamara found that not having used her powers for nearly twenty years was actually to her advantage. Massive stores of energy had stored up since then, and her power seemed unlimited. But still, Mimic was a tough opponent.

Anyway, the battle raged on. Mimic's and Tamara's transformations kept getting more and more elaborate as they tried to outdo each other at originality. It was at the point that Tamara was a surprisingly large kiwi bird and Mimic an extremely grotesque china cabinet when things got interesting for the bystanders-- meaning Tiffany and Tabby.

Mimic tried to change. And couldn't.

Upon realizing this, Tamara was thrilled. She changed back to herself and looked on at Mimic, eager to see what the lime green unicorn would do upon admitting defeat.

It was at that moment that Tex, quite unaware of what Mimic and Tamara were doing, happened to stroll through the park. "Tamara? And... what's that?" He looked out over the battle stage, and paused by the bench where Tiffany and Tabby were seated. "What's going on here?"

"Quiet!" Tiffany whispered harshly.

"We're at the grand finale," Tabby explained. "Don't interrupt."

The tie-dyed china cabinet that Mimic was kept flickering in and out of view as she attempted to make one more transformation. With a moan of defeat, the cabinet was turned back into the green unicorn and Mimic slumped down on the ground, completely out of energy.

"That's... that's Mimic!" Tex stuttered. "How... what... Mimic!" He dashed over to her lifeless form and knelt down. "Mimic! Mimic! Are you alright?"

Tamara looked at Tex in surprise. "Tex! What are you doing here?"

Tex ignored Tamara for the time being as he propped Mimic up into a seated position. "Mimic! Say something!" he begged anxiously.

"Tex? She's going to be okay, isn't she?" Tamara looked at Mimic in concern. Sure, she wanted Tex; but she didn't really want any serious harm to come to her opponent, either.

Mimic's eyelids fluttered. "It's... over," she croaked out. "I lost... and now there's only... Tamara."

"Don't say that, Mimic!" Tex pleaded.

"But it's... true," Mimic said falteringly.

"No! I have a confession to make now. To both of you," Tex said solemnly.

"Both of us?" Tamara stuttered. "Me, too?"

"I don't know exactly what went on here today," Tex started. "But, Mimic, I didn't really realize what you meant to me until I saw you, collapsed and out of energy, just now. Mimic, I... I love you. More than I ever have anyone else."

"You... you mean it?" Mimic said weakly.

Tamara's expression was on of pure shock, horror, and disgust all rolled into one. "But... but...!"

"Keep that look on your face, Tammy!" Tabby called out. "I always want to remember you like that."

"It's so romantic!" Tiffany sobbed. "I'm so glad I was here today!"

"Yes, Tamara." Tex looked up at the pink unicorn. "I know we were really close, but... nobody means more to me like Mimic does."

"Thank you... Tex," Mimic said softly.

Tamara's face clouded over, and a new look of pure rage appeared on it. "Do you mean to say, Tex," she hissed, "that I went through all the trouble of relearning my unicorn magic for nothing?"

"Tamara, you'll always be special to me, but..."

"And the trouble of ordering that new cash register for you? And all the trouble of concealing my distaste of salsa? And putting up a good show around Emilio?" Tamara said, quite threateningly. "Do you know what I went through for you, Tex?"

"Tamara, please--"

"Well, let me tell you something, mister!" Tamara raged. "Your salsa never was that good, and I don't mind saying so now. It's the worst concoction in the world that I've ever tasted and I haven't a clue how you stay in business with it."


"And since you're so ungrateful to me, I don't care a bit to be rid of you in my life," Tamara said venomously. "If that's all the thanks I get... well, goodbye, and good riddance! I'm glad I won't have to put up with you anymore!" And with that said, Tamara turned sharply on her heel and marched off defiantly.

"Tam--" Tex began again, but saw that she was already gone.

"What a good show," Tiffany sniffled, wiping a tear from her eye. "I must see it again."

"Oh, Mimic, and thanks for getting Tex off my family tree," Tabby added. "I guess you were able to come through for me on something." Then Tamara's two friends got up and chased after the distressed unicorn, leaving Mimic and Tex alone at the park.

* * *
It was much later that evening when Tamara was beginning to calm down over Tex being "such an inconsiderate jerk" and how she was almost sorry for Mimic for getting stuck with "that lowlife worm".

Tiffany had since left for her date with Toby, but Tabby remained on at Tamara's house. She had never had the opportunity before to rant with such depth over Tex with someone else. It was rather an enlightening experience.

"Okay, okay, I'm calm," Tamara finally sighed, pausing in her brisk pace.

"Besides, with Tex out of the way, you can devote your time to finding another stallion," Tabby pointed out.

Tamara's eyes lit up. "Tabitha, you're right! Oh, that will be so much... fun! Now, let's see, I wonder who..."

"Just be sure he operates something better than a salsa shop," Tabby smirked. "Or Mom might not approve of him."

"Maybe I should have just dumped Tex back when Butch had his eye on me," Tamara laughed. "It would have avoided all this bother."

"Butch would have gotten you into more bothersome situations," Tabby theorized.

"What's he up to now, besides seeing Sparkler?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you? He's the one Mom hired to work on fixing up the old mansion."

"Really? Aunt Agatha really has plans for the place? Do you think she'd consider selling it?"

"She's saving it for me," Tabby said promptly. "Besides, you did just move into this house of your own, didn't you?"

"But if I make this whole house into a cat-complex," Tamara plotted, "I'd still need a--"

"It's not in your future, Tamara," Tabby said possessively.

"Knowing Aunt Agatha, it won't be in your future, either, until you get married," Tamara pointed out.

"True," Tabby consented.

"Oh, Tabby, aren't any of us ever going to get married?" Tamara sighed suddenly. "It's gotten so repetitious, simply going to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe or the Estate Manor every night for the past year."

"Things will change soon," Tabby predicted. "Vanguard will propose to Sugarberry soon enough. And Toby will get around to Tiffany, as well. And you'll find someone who's dashing and romantic that knows not to wait too long before getting you a diamond ring, lest you get impatient."

"What about you and Thomas?" Tamara prodded.

"Oh, Tamara! You know I can't predict things like that without having a Furby handy."

"You just did predictions for all the rest of us without the aid of a Furby," Tamara pointed out.

"There is only one thing I can say for sure," Tabby spoke up suddenly and somewhat mysteriously. "And that is the fact that soon everything will change. The foundation of the world we know now will collapse, and we shall start a new era. We shall make new acquaintances, and lose old ones. We shall find new places in life, and leave behind the old ones. And we'll... we'll..."

Tamara was nearly to the point of believing that Tabby really was seeing into the future until her cousin broke into a fit of hysterical laughter. "Oh, wasn't that just grandly dramatic, Tamara? I simply adore coming up with dramatic things like that."

"Uh... yeah," Tamara said slowly. "Well, I think we've ranted enough. You'd better be heading home for the night."

"Wonderful idea!" Tabby promptly jumped up from her seat. "I've still got to call Spike tonight and plot with him over something."

"Goodbye then, and see you tomorrow," Tamara said, closing the door behind her cousin. She watched the lavender-eyed unicorn disappear into the darkness. There was just something about that pony that was mysteriously unexplainable.

Tamara turned away from the door and pushed all thoughts of that nature from her mind. She had matters of her own to attend to. Now, what were her choices out of the eligible stallions in town...


The Talent Show
by Atlanta

Wind Dancer skipped and laughed to the beat her sister, Wind Song, was playing on her reeds.

"Faster, Wind Song! Faster! Play faster!" Wind Dancer begged, so her sister obliged by speeding the tune up so that it was even quicker.

"Yay! That's the key! If we keep this up, we could enter the talent show!" Wind Dancer gasped as she danced to the lively jig.

"Do you think we'd win the prize of a trip to Ponytown?" Wind Song asked as she stopped playing.

"Yes. Don't stop now. I'm just getting warmed up!" Wind Dancer replied.

"Well, than, I guess I'll have to give you a fair dance, Sis," Wind Song said, and began a new, faster song.

So, the two agile earth ponies laughed and danced and played all afternoon. As sunlight's last rays shone through the window on the dancing and playing two-- Wind Song dancing her lively jig, and Wind Dancer leaning against the studio wall, panting.

"That was fun," Wind Dancer gasped.

"Most fun," Wind Song replied.

"Let's go enter the contest, okay? It should be fun."

Both sisters gasped for breath, exchanging lively jokes as they washed their faces and changed into different clothes, in preparation to enter the talent show.

"Wind Dancer, do you really think we have a chance to win a competition? I mean, I know we are good, but I hear that Windwhistler and her friends are doing a play, and Gusty is doing a magic show; and I am just wondering if we have a chance," Wind Song said to her sister.

"Of course we do, Sis! We've got the best chance of any one there! After all, we are one dynamic duo!" Wind Dancer replied.

"So, we really have a chance to get out there and win a trip to visit Queen Serena. Good. Than let's go sign up. The show is in three days," Wind Song said, finally convinced, and the two started out toward the town center.

* * *
"Hi, we would like to enter the Ponyland Talent Show," Wind Song said to the clerk behind the desk.

"Would you fill out this form, please?" the unicorn asked, brushing a few strands of her silver forelock out of her face.

"Okay," Wind Dancer said, enthusiastically taking the paper and pen and looking at it thoughtfully. "Question one: what are our names? Hmm. Wind Dancer and Wind Song. Question two: what will we be doing? Hmm. Our special Old Wonder's Jig to Sweet Surrender, written by you, Wind Song," Wind Dancer said, filling out the form.

"What is our home address? Hah... 340 Magic Lane, Pony Village, Ponyland," Wind Song peered over the page and spoke, grabbing the pen from Wind Dancer as she filled it out.

"Hey! Give that back," Wind Dancer said.

"I'll do the remaining two. What is our phone number? That's easy." She scribbled it down. "And our e-mail address... there! Finished!"

"Here's our form," Wind Dancer said, taking the form from Wind Song and handing it to the clerk.

"Wonderful. Your show number is contestant four. Good luck. Please report to the stage on Wednesday at three o' clock. Good luck." The elderly unicorn smiled at the two rambunctious teen earth ponies and winked behind her glasses.

"Thank you," Wind Song said politely, and she and Wind Dancer left.

* * *
"Wind Song, what do I wear? My plaid skirt and my white blouse look nice, but they aren't the family plaids! I outgrew the one Mum made me. The show is in three hours! What will I wear?" Wind Dancer moaned.

"The fabric is popular. I'll go out and make you and I one. We will wear matching outfits," Wind Song said. She promptly grabbed her purse, a sample of the beloved plaid, and went to the fabric store.

* * *
"Aha. Here it is. Light green with dark red and gold strips," Wind Song murmured. She'd found the adored plaid. "Ma'am, I'd like six yards of this plaid, please," Wind Song said to the young blue pegasus who was at the cutting counter.

"All right," Swiftly, the pegasus, quickly measured the fabric, cut the right amount, and folded it. "Here you go."

"Thanks." Wind Song walked to the counter and paid for the material. Then she walked home to sew it.

* * *
"Oh! You've got it. Good. Do we need to take measurements?" Wind Dancer asked.

"No. I know your size, and it's the same as mine." Wind Song took out some scissors, thread, and a needle, and cut the fabric into the pattern and size. Then she quickly threaded the needle and stitched as quickly and as neatly as she could.

As Wind Dancer watched, she began to grow impatient. "Can I help?" she asked.

"Yes, get me my eye glasses, please. I left them on the coffee table." Wind Dancer rushed and got them at her sister's request. Wind Song put down the fabric, put the eye glasses on, and continued to sew. Soon, a skirt was finished.

"Try it on, Sis," Wind Song said, already beginning the second.

Wind Dancer swirled and stomped in the new skirt, satisfied that it fit to a tee. "Great job," Wind Dancer complimented.

"Thanks. Now, a tall glass of raspberry tea and a sweet scone would be truly appreciated," Wind Song said.

"Right away, Queen Sew!" Wind Dancer giggled, and trotted off to the kitchen to get her sister what she had asked for.

By the time Wind Dancer had returned, her sister was almost finished with the second skirt. "Put it on the table in front of me. I'll have my skirt done in a second." Wind Song made the final stitches and knots and snipped the extra thread. "Get me the white blouse," she requested.

Wind Dancer changed shirts and brought her sister the matching one. Wind Song tried the outfit on. The two ponies looked almost like twins, Wind Dancer with her silvery mane and pale purple and blue body; and Wind Song with her white mane and sky blue body.

"We are ready! Let's go. It's nearly three o' clock!" Wind Dancer urged.

Wind Song looked at the time and saw that her sister was right. She picked up her reeds and followed her sister out the door. They met Gusty and Windwhistler on the way.

"What are you doing for the talent show?" Windwhistler asked.

"Our incredible Old Wonders Jig to Sweet Surrender, written and played by Sis," Wind Dancer said.

"Sounds good. But not good enough to beat our play of Windwhistler and the Magic Faerie. Heart Throb is playing the part of the faerie," Windwhistler said.

"Oh, we'll see, won't we?" Wind Song said slyly.

* * *
"Contestant one, Gusty, please come forward," the announcer called.

Windwhistler's stomach was turning, and her heart was pounding. Gusty did her magic tricks like they were nothing, and the crowd "oohed" and "ahhed" at the tricks. Then Gusty was done.

"Contestants two, Sundance and Magic, please come forward."

Sundance smiled as she did a delicate ballet dance to a graceful song that Magic played on her harp.

"Contestants three, Windwhistler, Heart Throb, Ivy, and Princess Tiffany, please come forward."

The play was funny and fast paced, only ten minutes long. The whole crowd laughed at Ivy's antics and Princess Tiffany's funny air as Queen Isabella.

"Contestants four, Wind Dancer and Wind Song, please come forward."

Wind Dancer's heart pounded as she and Wind Song stepped on stage. As Wind Song began the familiar tune, Wind Dancer's experience and love kicked in. She whirled and reeled as her sister tapped her hooves to the tune and tossed her head, she too moving around the back stage.

Wind Dancer reeled to the lively, beautifully haunting tune and did a special flip that made the crowd gasp as she landed on her hooves, face toward the crowd. Her skirt whirled every which way, creating a spinning illusion. The crowd was held in rapt attention as she danced and whirled and swirled as her sister played the haunting tune with skill.

Even Princess Tiffany and Windwhistler watched in fascination the magic jig that seemed to form out of nowhere. It was like nothing any of the ponies had ever seen, with this dancing and joy of all sorts. Then, it ended.

Wind Dancer breathed hard, panting. Wind Song took a deep breath. Then, suddenly, the crowd roared and clapped, even louder than they had for the others. Wind Dancer looked at her sister, and her sister looked back, and they smiled and bowed and waved until they were cheered off stage.

"I must say, Wind Dancer, the rest of the contestants will have something hard to beat. I believe you did better than I, and that's quite a compliment from a princess!" Tiffany said.

"Thanks, but I couldn't have done it without Wind Song. She created that tune and played it," Wind Dancer replied.

"You two are an awesome team. I hope you win," Windwhistler added. Wind Song grinned.

On the stage, Princess Dawn sang a beautiful song about the elves across the rainbow when the world was young. Her voice was beautiful and sweet.

"Princess Dawn has a pretty voice," Wind Song commented.

"She always did love singing. Her voice would have been beautiful with your reeds," Princess Tiffany said.

"I agree. You two are quite something, and so is she," Windwhistler added.

* * *
"Now, after much careful consideration and work, we have chosen a winner from our eighteen different contestants. In third place comes our actresses, Windwhistler, Princess Tiffany, Ivy, and Heart Throb. In second, Princess Dawn with that lovely voice of hers. And now, ladies and gents, our first place winners are WIND SONG AND WIND DANCER!!" the announcers voice rang across the stadium, and loud clapping erupted from the crowd. Cheering and shouts accompanied the clapping.

"This talented dancer and musician team have won a three hundred dollar shopping spree in the Pony Town mall and a FREE trip to Dream Castle to visit Queen Serena for tea!"

Wind Dancer clutched Wind Song. "We won! We won!"

"No, we didn't win. We just gave ourselves a name! I mean, my song I played and your dance came in first! First! I mean, now THAT'S incredible..."

Author's notes: For those of you who use any of the names of the characters in this story, no offense is meant. All criticism please be sent to


Dinah's Heartbreak
by Wonder

"Its a girl!" Hope whinnied as she burst into the office in Whitebrook's training barn where everyone was waiting for word on Dancer.

"Wow!" Mindy said. "Storm must be happy!"

Wonder, Jazzman, Magic and Orion nodded. "Was everything okay?" Wonder asked Hope.

"Oh, yeah! The filly is a bay, and Storm said she has a beautiful white blaze. They are going to call her Sterling Dream-- what a beautiful name!" Hope told everyone.

"I'll go call Holly!" Mindy said as she turned slowly. Mindy was also due at anytime to have her second foal.

"And when you're done, I'll give Duchess a call; she will be glad to know her great-granddaughter was born without any problems," Wonder said.

"So, does this make you a grandmother?" Jazzman asked as he nuzzled Wonder lovingly. Dancer was Wonder's adopted daughter.

Wonder laughed and nudged him playfully. "I'm not even a mother yet!" she giggled. Hope smiled as she remembered Wonder's announcement a few weeks ago that her and Jazzman were now expecting their own foal next spring.

* * *
Sterling crossed her eyes and blinked, staring at the butterfly that had landed on her nose. The filly was now a month old, and full of adventure. "Sterling, where are you?" Dinah's voice suddenly called out.

Over here! Sterling wanted to yell, but then the butterfly would fly away.

"There you are; why didn't you answer me?" Dinah sighed as she walked up behind Sterling.

" ‘Cause..." Sterling whispered, slowly turning her head for Dinah to see the butterfly. "It's pretty!" Sterling smiled proudly.

"Oh, you!" Dinah laughed and nuzzled Sterling. "C'mon, your mother wants you to come in for awhile," the yearling filly said.

* * *
Days passed. Being the firstborn filly of the year, Sterling often played by herself, or with one of the many young barn cats. Her favorite game was hide-and-seek, which she and the cats played in the tall flowers and bushes in the Whitebrook garden. "...seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!" Sterling counted, then opened her eyes and lifted her head, smiling mischievously.

Sterling was about to step out from behind the hedge where she was standing when she heard someone coming. She ducked back behind the hedge just as Dinah rushed into the garden, crying. "No, no, no!" she sobbed.

Sterling gasped, but stayed hidden. Orion, Hope, and Dancer followed Dinah. "Dinah..." Orion began.

"I don't care! It's all her fault that Mom's gone!" Dinah cried. Sterling's mouth dropped open in surprise, and she moved further back.

"Dinah, she is your sister!" Sterling heard Orion say, the pain and sadness in his voice clearly heard.

"I don't want her! I want my mom!" Dinah collapsed down into the grass, sobbing.

By late that afternoon, Sterling had heard the whole story. Mindy had died giving birth late that night. The foal, a filly, had lived. Her name was Townsend Madison. Orion never really liked the Townsend names, but the filly's name was the last thing Mindy had said.

Orion would be bringing the new filly home in a couple of days. "I don't want you bringing the filly home! Have her go to Townsend Acres! I don't want to meet her!" Dinah shrieked.

"Dinah! Your mother would want you to love her as I do!" Orion sighed, obviously exhausted from fighting with her.

"If she comes here, I'm leaving!" Dinah said.

"Where would you go?" Orion asked.

"I want to go to Townsend Acres, where the rest of my family and friends are!" Dinah cried.

* * *
A few days later, when the doctors were sure that Madison was healthy, Orion brought his new daughter home. Dinah had gone to the mall to meet her friends. She still didn't want to see her sister.

"Hello!" Sterling said as she walked into Dancer's stall and looked curiously at the gray filly that was there. "Who are you?"

Dancer saw Sterling and followed her into the stall. "Madison, meet my daughter, Sterling. Sterling, this is Madison," Dancer said as she nuzzled both fillies.

"Sterling, your father wants to talk to you," Dancer said.

"Okay," Sterling said, and walked off to find her father.

Sterling found Storm talking to Orion. "There you are, princess!" Storm said as he nuzzled Sterling.

"Daddy, Mommy told me you wanted to talk to me," Sterling said.

"Yes, Dancer and I are helping Orion look after Madison until she is a little older. Is that alright with you?" Storm asked.

Sterling nodded and smiled. "I really like Madison, and I'm gonna go see if she wants to play!" she said as she pranced in place.

"Just don't play rough; she's still very small," Jazzman said. Sterling agreed, and cantered back towards the training barn.

* * *
"That place was cool!" Madison said the next day as she and Sterling stopped at the edge of the corn field.

"Yeah, isn't it?" Sterling agreed. Just then, they heard talking from the flower garden.

"Triumph, what do you want?" Dancer said as she stopped weeding and stood up.

"I want to see where Mindy's offspring are living. They are Townsend Acres horses, and I am representing her brother," Triumph said.

"What?" Dancer asked.

"He wants Dinah and Madison to come live with him," Triumph said.

"You can't do that," Orion said as he walked up.

"And who are you to say..." Triumph began as he started to turn around. "...oh, it's you," he said as Orion glared at him.

"I am their father," Orion said.

"Dad, what if I wanted to go to Townsend Acres?" Dinah asked as she walked up, Storm following close behind. Sterling and Madison looked at each other, then slowly walked into view.

"You're not old enough to be on your own," Orion asked.

"All my friends are at Townsend Acres. I want to go there, and I can't stay here any longer," Dinah said.

"What about Madison?" Triumph asked as he looked around. Madison gasped and ducked behind Sterling.

"I'm going to Townsend Acres; I don't want to be anywhere near that foal," Dinah said with an icy tone.

"Dinah!" Storm said, looking at her with a stern expression on his face.

Sterling turned when she felt Madison pull back, only to see the small filly racing out of the garden in the direction of the training barn.

* * *
"I don't know why she doesn't like me. I didn't do anything," Madison cried that night as she and Sterling lay in Dancer's large box stall. "B-but she blames me for my mother's death!" she sobbed.

Sterling reached over and put her foreleg around her friend. "It's gonna be okay. Dinah was just upset and she really doesn't mean those things," she said.

"But... what she says is true!" Madison hiccoughed.

"No, it's not!" Sterling said, thinking hard for something to say, and then remembered what her own mother had told her. "Mindy was looking forward to your birth, and would have loved you very much, just as she had always loved Dinah. But sometimes sad things happen. Dinah doesn't realize, that except for your dad and herself, you are alone, too. All she can think about is her own pain," Sterling repeated to Madison, who sniffled and lay her head on her forelegs. Sterling nuzzled the smaller filly and rested her head on her forelegs also, falling fast asleep and only stirring slightly when Dancer came in the stall to go to bed.

The next morning, Sterling slept later then usual. When she woke, Madison and Dancer were already gone. Sterling walked out of the stall and trotted outside and over to the track.

"Okay, Dinah; today you should try to breeze the last quarter in about twenty-four seconds," Wonder said as she looked over at Dinah.

"Twenty-four? I should do it in twenty-two and change!" Dinah said.

"No, not when you are a yearling. Twenty-four is about the fastest you could go," Wonder said.

"But Dancer did twenty-three when she was a yearling!" Dinah protested.

"Dinah, Dancer's father wasn't an Andalusian! Now stop arguing and start your work, or get off the track!" Jazzman shouted from a few feet away from Wonder.

Sterling smiled and turned towards the indoor ring. Orion and Hope were coaching each other on dressage when Sterling walked in. Madison was standing to the side watching. "Aren't they great?" Madison smiled as she watched her father skipping down the center line, performing flying lead changes.

Sterling nodded, but as she kept her eyes on the grey stallion, she noticed that his eyes were sad and his performance lacked life and energy. Sterling sighed and looked down at her front hooves. It was obvious that Orion missed Mindy.

As Orion finished his workout and made his way over to the side of the ring he watched Hope finish hers. His eyes glanced from Hope to Madison and Sterling.

He sighed deeply as he saw his young daughter's look as she watched Hope. "What am I going to do now..." he mumbled to himself. He was just starting his showing career, but now he also had the full responsibility of caring for Madison and Dinah.

Frowning, Orion gazed at Sterling. No, I'm not going to ask Dancer for help again... he thought. Turning and walking out of the ring, he looked around the main yard at Whitebrook. Things were going to be different, and this wasn't his first devastating loss. Now he had to face his life as a single father and put his newfound talent on the shelf again.


The Evil Dragon
Part Eight
by Princess of the Stars

(Authors note: Sorry this story hasn't been in the newsletter for awhile, so I'll fill you in on the details of earlier chapters. Two ponies, Beauty Bloom and Atlas, were chosen to find an evil dragon called Tornado who wishes to take over Ponyland. The two chose some companions, set off, and met a Hobbit and a Care Bear Cousin. They were then captured by some huge rats and were saved by a creature that was part lion and part man. This creature brought the group to a system of underground tunnels. The ponies find that the dragon they are searching for lives in the tunnels. The tunnel dwellers and the ponies gather in the Great Hall, and this is where this chapter begins.)

"Attention, everyone!" Father, the ruler of the tunnels, called. "Our friends need to travel far into the tunnels to find a dragon I banished from here called Tornado."

"Mouse knows where that is!" Mouse exclaimed, jumping up from his seat.

"Yes, I know, Mouse. That is why I have chosen you to accompany these ponies and their friends on their journey into the heart of the tunnels," Father said; and, turning towards Vincent, he added, "You will also go to protect Mouse and our friends."

"Yes, Father," the great lion creature said. "I will escort the ponies and their friends to the armory; we will set off immediately."

So the ponies and their company set off after each chose a weapon and packed more food.

* * *
"Boy, am I hungry! Salty, what time is it?" Locket exclaimed, leaning against the tunnel wall.

"It's seven in the evening. Gosh! We ate lunch seven and a half hours ago!" Salty exclaimed, looking incredulously at his watch.

"We will stop and eat in a few moments," Vincent said, looking at Mouse's map. "We should be coming to a larger chamber in a few moments."

The group came upon the large chamber just as predicted. After eating, the group took a vote on who would keep watch the first half of the night. Sam the Hobbit volunteered, but wasn't trusted because of what happened during the encounter with the large rat tribe. Instead, Atlas was decided on for the first half, and Vincent for the second.

The first half of the night was uneventful. Atlas woke Vincent at one in the morning for his turn to watch. Seeing that nothing appeared to be happening, Vincent allowed himself a five minute nap every half an hour. During one of these naps, Vincent was jerked awake, and...

Just what awoke Vincent will wait for the next chapter. Please send me your comments and criticism; I love hearing what people think of my stories. My address is

How about some mindless fun for a change? Try using as many of the following twenty-four words in a pony-related story (the order they are used in does not matter) and e-mail your finished work to All stories received will be posted in the next newsletter issue. So, just sit back, and throw a bunch of words together!

Here are the words you will be attempting to use:



The Merry Treat and Tabby Gossip Hour!
by Merry Treat and Tabby

Merry Treat: He-e-e-ey, fellow ponies!

Tabby: We're back to haunt you!

Merry Treat: Bwahahaha!

Tabby: I have the most fascinating news!

Merry Treat: What??

Tabby: Spike and I are going to open an eighties toy museum!

Merry Treat: O-o-oh! Neatso! When's the grand opening?

Tabby: Well, we still have to get everything set up. It'll probably be a month or so yet. Or more.

Merry Treat: O-o-oh, I can't wait! ~claps excitedly~

Tabby: But it's going to be in Paradise Estate. Spike is contributing all his toys, and I mine. We've got quite a few between us.

Merry Treat: What if somebody breaks in and steals them?

Tabby: We're having it heavily guarded. The Bushwoolies have volunteered for the job.

Merry Treat: Good. I would hate for anything to happen to any beloved eighties toys.

Tabby: It's gonna be so much fun setting all my stuff up. I've got so much of it, you know?

Merry Treat: You could make little scenes with them!

Tabby: That's the point of conflict...

Merry Treat: Why is that so conflicting?

Tabby: Spike and Barnacle want them set up in action scenes, but I'd rather have them displayed in neat rows.

Merry Treat: Well, you could have them in "Damsel in Distress"-type scenes, using all the sets of toys... have He-Man rescuing a My Little Person or something... with all these villains around the castle, trapping her in. ~sounds dramatic~

Tabby: Whahoo! Now, that could be amusing...

Merry Treat: Hehe, I could come help set-up, if you wish.

Tabby: The problem with me is that I can't come up with cool plots when I play with toys.

Merry Treat: ~giggles~ I was always so mean to my toys...

Tabby: I always collected them just for the sake of having them. I hardly ever played with them. That's what Mom says, at least.

Merry Treat: I used to cut the hair off my My Little People dolls because some wizard dude wanted the hair to make sweaters out of...

Tabby: The only scene I remember playing out is Lieutenant Logan and Sylvie's wedding...

Merry Treat: Hm, explain.

Tabby: I had a Fairy Tail bird acting as the priest. And later they went off on their honeymoon on a big boat...

Merry Treat: Hehe, fun!

Tabby: I must have married them off countless times.

Merry Treat: How many different places did they visit on their honeymoons?

Tabby: I actually can't remember them visiting any place in particular; they just sailed off in their boat.

Merry Treat: I used to string twine all over the house, and hang baskets and such from them so my toys could get around...

Tabby: Wow! Imaginative!

Merry Treat: ...and my parents had this bookshelf that was made from wood and bricks with nifty little holes in them. Those became beds for my toys. ~giggles~

Tabby: We sure had fun with our toys, didn't we?

Merry Treat: Yes, those were the good ol' days.

Tabby: Well, anyhow... do you have any news?

Merry Treat: Hmm... ~thinks for a moment~ How's Tamara's Persian adjusting to the Vulpix I gave her?

Tabby: Well, Tamara is talking about Vulpix quite frequently now. I think they're getting to know one another. But I don't know what Persian thinks of him yet. I never see much of Persian.

Merry Treat: Well, at least she's not tearing Vulpix limb-from-limb...

Tabby: I'm sure Tamara wouldn't allow that at this point.

Merry Treat: I knew a Vulpix would be a good idea for her. ~smiles~

Tabby: The next thing you know, Tamara will be a Vulpix-breeder instead of a cat-breeder!

Merry Treat: ~giggles~ She wants more of them?

Tabby: She hasn't said anything yet, but she might. So, anyway, what happened on your Valentine's Day?

Merry Treat: Nothing.

Tabby: Nothing?!

Merry Treat: Yup, nothing. Just hung out and acted bored all day.

Tabby: I thought for sure you'd get some secret admirer.

Merry Treat: ~raises an eyebrow~ Like who? All the guys I know of are taken.

Tabby: Well, that's true...

Merry Treat: So who around here would possibly care about me?

Tabby: Maybe you should check out the Friendship Gardens guys.

Merry Treat: Are you trying to set me up with someone, Tabby? ~eyes her suspiciously~

Tabby: Uh, no, not quite. It's just that you act so strange and absent-minded without anybody.

Merry Treat: What are you getting at?

Tabby: That you're... eh...

Merry Treat: I'm what?

Tabby: Well... umm... never mind.

Merry Treat: ~eyes her suspiciously~ Are you saying I've got a crush on someone?

Tabby: Sorta... or that you should...

Merry Treat: Well, maybe I do, but I'll wait for him.

Tabby: Is it Slugger?

Merry Treat: Nope. ~shakes head~

Tabby: Drat! I was wrong! You did have a crush on him back in high school, didn't you?

Merry Treat: Yeah, but that was in high school. Then he went off with another girl, so I couldn't go after him anymore. ~shrugs~

Tabby: He's not seeing anyone now.

Merry Treat: You want to see me hook up with him, don't you?

Tabby: It'd be good for you!

Merry Treat: I don't want to get another boyfriend yet! It's just too soon.

Tabby: *wonders why she, the renowned detester of romance, is trying to hook her best friend up with someone*

Merry Treat: ~wonders the same thing~ Besides, as I recall, you've got your own romance matters.

Tabby: Maybe...

Merry Treat: ~smiles mischievously~ So, what happened to you on Valentines Day, Tabby?

Tabby: Eh... nothing much.

Merry Treat: Really? You did at least go out to dinner, right?

Tabby: Oh, yes.

Merry Treat: How was it?

Tabby: Nice. Rather. The salad bar, especially.

Merry Treat: Sounds like fun! Did you get any gifts?

Tabby: Maybe...

Merry Treat: What did you receive? ~smiling mischievously~

Tabby: Eh, well, maybe we should start talking about something else.

Merry Treat: ~shrugs~ Okay, if you don't want to share it... so what else is going on?

Tabby: Let's see here...

Merry Treat: La de da-a-a-a-a...

Tabby: Me bored, wah!

Merry Treat: Me, too! What else is there to talk about?

Tabby: Hmm... me see... nothing.

Merry Treat: Hmmm... my cat Whimsey hurt his eye.

Tabby: Oh, no! How'd that happen?

Merry Treat: I have no idea... he just showed up with it. Poor baby.

Tabby: Did you have to take him to the clinic?

Merry Treat: Yup. He hates taking the medicine they gave him.

Tabby: Cats always do.

Merry Treat: I just wish he didn't act so aggressive around strange cats...

Tabby: Ooh, do you think he got in a fight?

Merry Treat: Yeah, that's probably it. La de da. So, now what?

Tabby: Let's see now... hmm... well... we found out that someone around here is getting married.

Merry Treat: Oh! Who is it?

Tabby: Lemon Treats and Poeticus!

Merry Treat: Oooh! When's the big day?

Tabby: Lemon Treats wants it in June-- they haven't decided if it'll be this year or next.

Merry Treat: Man, I shoulda figured it'd be those two!

Tabby: I actually don't know too much about them.

Merry Treat: Me neither, but I've heard rumors that those two are quite the story.

Tabby: Who would have been the last couple to get married around here, MT?

Merry Treat: ~furrows brow~ Hmm... you know what? It's been so long ago, I completely forgot!

Tabby: I haven't been to a wedding in ages. I suppose we won't get in on Lemon Treats'.

Merry Treat: Well, isn't she a friend of Tamara?

Tabby: That is true. She bought her cat from Tammy.

Merry Treat: Maybe she'll get to go, and then she can tell us all about it.

Tabby: And the cake...

Merry Treat: Hopefully it won't be carrot with cream cheese frosting...

Tabby: Exactly.

Tabby: Say, Friendly's birthday will be coming up soon again on March fifteenth, MT. Last year the princesses arranged for that Shakespeare play to be performed, remember?

Merry Treat: I wonder if it'll be as interesting as last year's...

Tabby: Last year was a long time ago, wasn't it?

Merry Treat: Yes, it was. I mean, last year at this time, I was with Salty; and now I'm single again.

Tabby: And last year I was still working at the clinic.

Merry Treat: Yes, last year was quite a year, wasn't it?

Tabby: And that fateful dance was exactly a year ago, too.

Merry Treat: ~smiles mischievously~ Fateful, Tabby?

Tabby: Well, it was.

Merry Treat: Hmm, gee, I wonder why... ~still smiling mischievously~

Tabby: Wipe that grin off your face, MT.

Merry Treat: ~snickers~ All right. ~backs off~

Tabby: Hmm... boring.

Merry Treat: Yes, quite... say, it's about time to head over to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Tabby: You're right-- it is!

Merry Treat: Sailor Moon says-- ~giggles~ --see ya!

Tabby: Eh... exactly! Until next month, remember... gosh, I don't have a good quote ready...

Merry Treat: ~giggles~ Come on, we'll be late! ~pulls Tabby out the door~

Tabby: Tah-tah!


Return to Atlantis
Part One: Disco Furbys
by Tabby

Special thanks to... first off, to Barnacle, for giving me many of the ideas for this story, including the Furby portal and Kaliope's seer attack. And then to Cleve Clove, for giving me that splendorous list of Greek names of which I was so badly in need of; and also to Spike, for supplying the character list from the Ben-Hur movie (more Greek names! Whahoo! I especially liked "Number Forty-Two"). And then to LucasArts, for programming the fabulous Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis game, which started my whole obsession on Atlantis. And I also got inspiration from Merry Treat-- whereas I decided to scrap the Sailor Atlantis theory, it did give me the idea for Kaliope to have even more special unicorn magic. Oh! And "dah" thanks to Mimic as well, for drawing that narfy picture of Sailor Atlantis for me. Even though Sailor Atlantis does not exist now, the picture's too cool to go to waste, so I'm going to include it on my webpage anyway. (Doesn't reading just the thanks section make you want to go on and find out what this strange story is all about? ^.~) And last, the following is not intended to offend anyone with alternate theories on My Little Ponies, Furbys, Pokčmon, and/or Atlantis.

Two colorful balls of fluff floated through the halls of Atlantis, apparently heading towards a certain doorway. Unfortunately, they didn't happen to see the obstacle in their way as they sped up.

"Of course, my queen, I'll see to it imm--" A pony was just stepping out of the chamber when he saw the two creatures zooming towards him at top speed. His eyes opened wide as he stood frozen in place.

The pink and green balls rammed into the stallion's face straight-on and were then sent spinning through the air to land inside the chamber.

"Woah, big light," the green creature commented in awe as he lay on his back on the floor, staring up at the ceiling.

"Hee hee hee! Party!" the pink one agreed, assuming an upright stance again.

"Go along," a deep purple unicorn directed her messenger. She sat on an intricately carved throne and wore a sparkling gold crown atop her flowing blue mane. "The royal seers will be fine, and I must consult with them now."

The gray stallion nodded quickly to the queen, and was on his way again, leaving her to deal with the two creatures.

Yes, these strange furballs were the mysterious Atlantean Furbys-- small furry things with staring eyes, yellow beaks, small feet, and large ears. Among other things, they possessed the power to peek into the future. No one could remember when the breed had first appeared in the proud city of Atlantis; the inhabitants only knew that Furbys had always been there to serve the citizens of the city-- and particularly to serve the royal family. Furbys had been declared the official royal seers of Atlantis.

These particular two, the green one and the pink one, were the young queen's most trusted advisors. Their names were A-Tay and Wee-Tee Wah. On this particular evening, the two were returning to the queen's chamber after a big party at the "Dah Lee-Koo Wah" dance club.

"Come here, you two." Queen Kaliope of the island kingdom of Atlantis motioned for her advisers to take their places on either side of her throne. "We have much to discuss."

"Whahoo! Me happy, wah!" A-Tay exclaimed.

"Yeah, boogie!" Wee-Tee Wah added.

"And was their a good turnout at your... disco night?" the queen queried.

"Hmm... boring," Wee-Tee sighed.

A-Tay disagreed. "Big fun!"

"Well, that's... fascinating." Queen Kaliope paused to ponder again over the Furbys and their love of dance. Nothing was known of their life before arriving at Atlantis-- except for one clue. They had brought but a single thing with them, and this was a large, sparkling ball. The Furbys referred to this as a "disco" ball, and gathered around it nightly to dance and "boogie". The Atlanteans thought it was rather strange, but were happy to oblige the Furbys in the making of a special disco dance club for them. The Furbys had their own special room in Atlantis, with their precious disco ball hanging suspended from the ceiling. They had named the club the "Dah Lee-Koo Wah" and continued to gather there every night of their lives.

"Hum-dee-dum-dee-deet-dee-doo," A-Tay said in a bored tone.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Kaliope apologized. "I didn't mean to get lost in my thoughts so. Now, have you found out about any evils encroaching on the city?"

"Maybe..." was all Wee-Tee would reveal.

"Can you tell me what it is?"

"Very big... no," A-Tay decided.

"Well, does it involve a foreigner?"

"Maybe... yes."

"Is he secretly scheming with someone in the city?"


"Has the plan been put into action yet?"

"Me Wee-Tee! Me see... no."

"So this will be happening in the future?"

"Me see... yes."

"Can I prevent it?"

"Very big no."

"Do you know what you're talking about?"


"Can you--"

"Me done!" A-Tay declared.

"Hee hee hee!" Wee-Tee's mind was obviously not on peeking into the future any longer as she burped.

A-Tay laughed and burped in return. Then they proceeded to play their hiding game.

Kaliope sat on her throne thoughtfully as the two seers chattered. Their premonitions sounded ominous... but still, Furbys had been known to make mistakes. For example, there had been one incident in Kaliope's youth when she had been dreadfully ill. When she had asked her personal Furby seer if she would be dead by morning, he had replied with, "Hee hee hee! Yes! Hee hee hee!" It hadn't sounded too reassuring at the time, but Kaliope had recovered her health quite quickly afterwards. She could only hope that this was the same case with tonight's conversation.

Wee-Tee and A-Tay had soon sung themselves to sleep. Kaliope, thinking such deep thoughts, was startled out of her reverie upon hearing tiny hoofsteps coming up behind her. She whirled around. It was only her young sister, Baby Emalia.

"Kaliope?" Baby Emalia said softly, crawling up into her sister's lap. "What were the Furbys sayin'?"

"Nothing of importance, dear," Kaliope said, fondly stroking her sister's purple mane.

"Kaliope, I want Mom and Dad back." Baby Emalia stared up endearingly at Kaliope.

"I know, Baby Emalia. So do I." Kaliope felt tears begin to form in her eyes. It had been a terrible shock to the two siblings when both their parents had perished the year before. Kaliope was left heir to the throne of Atlantis, having no other relatives worthy of the position, and had been working her hardest at keeping the place up. She was certain the city would have been doomed long ago if it had not been for her trusted Furby advisors.

Kaliope's heart nearly broke when she saw tears trickling down Baby Emalia's cheeks as well. The little dark pink unicorn, miserable as she was, had soon fallen fast asleep in her sister's lap.

Kaliope only bowed her head and silently cried herself.

* * *
Meanwhile, the scheming Nur-Ab-Fin was busy... well... scheming. His quarters in Atlantis spilled over with strange mechanisms-- some of them failed experiments, and some of them valuable tools but unrecognized by the general public. Nur-Ab-Fin devoted his life to tinkering with such things.

Nur-Ab-Fin was, in fact, one of the human occupants of Atlantis. In this age of astounding glory, the colonies covering the planet were mixed with both the magical Little Ponies and the less-magical humans. Whereas the ruling class of Atlantis had always been ponies, humans were always made welcome.

On this particular evening, Nur-Ab-Fin was pondering over the blueprints to his most powerful invention, the Whale Machine. He had first come up with the plans for this when he had been hired by the royal court years ago to help in the making of powerful new breeds of creatures (referred to as "Pokčmon"). His idea for the Whale Machine, however, had been passed over in favor of other plans. Nur-Ab-Fin sulked off after that blow to his ego, and refused to do any more work for the royals. What he wanted to do now was to perfect his Whale Machine even further, so that the rulers of Atlantis would finally realize how wrong they were to turn his brilliant plans down.

"Whales. It's the only way humans can ever be truly powerful," he mumbled to himself while carefully inspecting his plans.

"Hey! No joke, wah!" Nur-Ab-Fin's Furby, Dah-Boo (translating into meaning "Big No") complained as he floated over to his master, the propellers on his cap whirling.

"This Whale Machine will be the greatest thing ever to hit Atlantis," Nur-Ab-Fin confided to his loyal Furby.

"Kah very happy," Dah Boo agreed. "Nee-tye kah!"

"Dah Boo, have their been any interesting happenings in the city as of late?"

"Maybe..." Dah Boo trailed off.

"Well? Go on!"

"Me see..." The Furby rocked back and forth contemplatively.

Nur-Ab-Fin shook his head. Sometimes it was impossible to get anything out of a Furby. He went back to his Whale Machine plans. Dah Boo hovered over his shoulder.

"I sense that something interesting is going to happen tomorrow," Nur-Ab-Fin commented aloud.

"Very big yes," Dah Boo agreed.

* * *
It was all Queen Kaliope could do the next day to keep up with current affairs, let alone worry about the future. Besides, Wee-Tee and A-Tay weren't concerned over anything.

"Doot-doot-doo! Doot-doot-doo! Dah, dah dah!" A-Tay sang, rocking back and forth.

"Titty-titty-titty! Hide!" Wee-Tee cried out.

Kaliope was pouring over the new requests for Furbys. When citizens wanted their own personal Furby, they would fill out the required form and send it in. They wrote down their preferred color pattern for a Furby, and a Furby most closely fitting those characteristics would then be selected for them out of the Furby nursery. It was Kaliope's responsibility to look over these new requests to approve the person or pony of having the proper qualifications for taking in a Furby. She was used to this routine, but the name of one of the prospective Furby owners caught her eye.

"Lamachus, eh?" she mumbled aloud. "He's the one I've been seeing so much of lately, isn't he?" Kaliope frequently went out to mingle with the people of her city, and now that she stopped to think about it, she was positive that this particular stallion had already approached her several times. She wondered if he wasn't up to something.

Kaliope fingered the Furby medallion around her neck. This necklace design was popular throughout Atlantis and was easily obtainable from any gift shop, but Kaliope's was crafted of only the finest materials. Only royalty would have richly-made Furby medallions.

The two Furbys had since gone to sleep, as Furbys were prone to do. Kaliope decided to take a break from her paperwork and see how Baby Emalia was doing with her studies for the day when one of her guards appeared at the door.

"My queen," he said, "there is a certain stallion by the name of Lamachus wishing to see you."

Kaliope looked up in surprise. So this Lamachus would show up yet again! She nodded quickly. "Yes. Bring him in."

"Queen Kaliope," was all Lamachus said upon entering the throne room, eyeing her intently.

"Yes, that's me." Kaliope raised her head suspiciously. "What is it you came to see me about?"

"It was not without good reason that I came here to Atlantis," Lamachus began. "I only arrived here recently."

"Oh?" Kaliope invited him to go on. "How so?"

"What you probably don't know is that I'm of the ruling class of the far-off city of Dream Valley."

"You don't say. And what affair brings you here to Atlantis?"

Lamachus ignored the question. "It rather surprised me that the queen of Atlantis would remain unmarried after ascending to the throne."

"I've had no problems with it thus far," Kaliope stated.

"But it could change if you take me up on my proposition."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Think of the strong alliance our two cities would make if joined together, Kaliope!"

"Atlantis is already strong on its own."

"Kaliope, if you'll only marry me, you'll see what strong advantages you gain."

Kaliope gazed with surprise at Lamachus' proposal. It was true; she had never thought of marriage before, nor desired it. But having a strong king at her side could make the running of a city easier. But...

"Well? What do you say?" Lamachus prodded.

"I'll ask Wee-Tee and A-Tay," Kaliope said with resolve, and promptly woke the two up.

"If that is your wish, my queen."

"A-Tay. Wee-Tee," Kaliope addressed the two. "Would it be wise of me to marry this Lamachus who claims to be of royalty as well?"

"No," A-Tay said simply.

"Very big no," Wee-Tee added.

"There is your answer," Kaliope said quietly, turning back to Lamachus. "The seers do not think kindly of the idea."

Lamachus, actually, did not appear too devastated at the declaration. "There is more than one way to win a queen." With that, he turned and left.

"How strange," Kaliope said to her seers. "How very strange."

"Scared," Wee-Tee whimpered.

"Kah very hungry!" A-Tay demanded.

"Alright," Kaliope sighed. "Have a snack." Somehow she felt that she had not yet seen the last of Lamachus.

* * *
Unbeknownst to them, there had been an eavesdropper on Lamachus and Kaliope's discussion-- an eavesdropper that could be no other than Nur-Ab-Fin.

As had Lamachus been watching Kaliope's every move, so had Nur-Ab-Fin been watching Lamachus. He saw great genius in the stallion, and thought he would make a wonderful ally. And now with this new development with him and Kaliope... a plan began formulating in Nur-Ab-Fin's mind.

Slinking through the stone halls, Nur-Ab-Fin came up behind Lamachus. "You wish to gain the queen's allegiance, do you?"

Lamachus turned around to face the man. "How did you know about that?"

Nur-Ab-Fin did not bother to respond to that. "Kaliope is not someone to get involved with. However..." He paused. "...if you agree to help me, I just may be able to help you."

"And just what would that be?"

"Come, my boy. I'll show you."

* * *
"I think I see the problem," Lamachus said critically. "You require the oricalcum beads to be put in the wrong side of the machine. If you changed it to the left, it would in turn cause the..."

Nur-Ab-Fin nodded and smiled. Lamachus was, indeed, the one he had been looking for. "Of course!" he said aloud. "I never even thought of doing that! Brilliant!"

"Party, wah!" Dah-Boo cried, floating through the room.

"Oh, it's a common oversight," Lamachus said flippantly.

"You may indeed be able to help me," Nur-Ab-Fin murmured. "Lamachus, how would you like to be taken on as my student in order to assist me in perfecting the Whale Machine and others like it?"

"And in return you'll help me win Kaliope?" Lamachus queried.


"Very well, then," Lamachus consented. "If it will win me Kaliope..."

"Tell me more of this kingdom you rule," Nur-Ab-Fin requested.

"It is one of the cities beyond the rainbow, in Ponyland," Lamachus explained. "It's known as Dream Valley. My family has always ruled there, but..." His eyes misted over. "I've always been drawn to Atlantis. There's never been anything I wanted more than to come here."

"Atlantis!" Nur-Ab-Fin scoffed. "It's nothing but a place of broken aspirations."

"What do you mean?"

"My Whale Machine plan, which you were just looking at," Nur-Ab-Fin said indignantly, "was turned down by the Atlantean king years ago in favor of an inferior idea of another."

"Certainly the king didn't do it on purpose," Lamachus protested.

"Perhaps not," Nur-Ab-Fin admitted. "But it is my only goal in life now to make the Whale Machine even better than it was. And then I'll show all of Atlantis how clever it was in the first place."

"What was the idea the king favored over your Whale Machine?" Lamachus queried, brimming over with questions concerning Atlantis.

"The king was looking for new, genetically-enhanced species of animals," Nur-Ab-Fin explained. "He didn't think much of my plan for turning humans into whales. He preferred the idea of my rival, in which there was the possibility of creating hundreds of different breeds of new creatures."

"They're the Pokčmon I've heard of, aren't they?"

"Yes. The king relocated all testing on them to a far-off colony. I'm not involved with them at all. Not that I'd want to be, anymore."

"Fascinating," Lamachus murmured as Dah-Boo landed on his back.

"Tickle me," Dah-Boo requested.

Lamachus obligingly reached for the Furby. "I've never seen Furbys up close before."

"They never venture out of Atlantis," Nur-Ab-Fin said. "They like it here. They have everything they need."

"I'd have everything I need here, too, if only Kaliope would consent to marry me," Lamachus sighed.

Nur-Ab-Fin chuckled. "When she sees the new, updated Whale Machine, all that will change. I'll have my revenge on being turned down, and you'll get just what you want when she finds out that you helped with it."

"Big fun!" Dah-Boo squealed.

* * *
Baby Emalia's own yellow and orange Baby Furby, Ah-May, was currently visiting with Wee-Tee and A-Tay. Ah-May was a royal seer in training.

"You rock!" Ah-May cheered as the adult Furbys danced.

"Titty-titty-titty! Hide!" A-Tay declared.

"Yeah! Hide!" Wee-Tee agreed.

"Hey! Where's kitty!" Ah-May exclaimed.

Baby Emalia just laughed with delight at the Furbys. No creatures in the world were more perfect than Furbys, in her opinion.

Meanwhile, Kaliope sat on her throne, deep in thought as she clutched a letter in her hoof. She sighed deeply, the message being from Lamachus, begging her to reconsider.

"Who's da letter from?" Baby Emalia said, pulling herself away from the Furbys' conversation.

"From the ruler of a city in Ponyland," Kaliope said in a troubled tone.

Baby Emalia cocked her head and reached for Ah-May. "Is that bad?"

"Itchy-itchy... scared," Ah-May whimpered.

"Baby Emalia, what would you think of me getting married?" Kaliope asked point-blank.

"Married?" Baby Emalia echoed, wide-eyed.

"You know what that involves, don't you?"

"But... but... then there'd be nobody to look after me," Baby Emalia said, her lower lip trembling.

Kaliope decided it would be best to end that discussion. "Well, it's nothing of importance, anyway. How is Ah-May doing?"

Baby Emalia reflected for a moment. "Good. She's learning lots."

"Aw, me hun-gry," Ah-May complained.

Kaliope laughed. "Now, you'd better go and feed her."

Baby Emalia obligingly set off to find food for the Baby Furby. Kaliope set the letter aside for the moment. It would just be too much trouble. She'd simply have to ignore Lamachus.

* * *
The days passed. Kaliope pondered. The Furbys danced. Nur-Ab-Fin and Lamachus schemed.

Nur-Ab-Fin and Lamachus had actually developed a strong rapport with each other. Progress on the Whale Machine was speeding up. They had constructed several experimental miniature models, and in one of Nur-Ab-Fin's spacious back rooms, construction of the life-size version had begun.

Even though Nur-Ab-Fin himself did not care for the royalty of Atlantis, he could clearly see that Lamachus was very devoted to Queen Kaliope. Though Lamachus did it discreetly, Nur-Ab-Fin knew well of the letters he continued to send to the queen. Out of simple curiosity, Nur-Ab-Fin decided to go see Queen Kaliope in person to see what her true feelings were for his new student.

"Hello there," Kaliope said cordially upon seeing Nur-Ab-Fin enter the throne room. "You wanted to see me about something?"

Nur-Ab-Fin was about to speak when he caught sight of what was seated in Kaliope's lap. "What... what is that?"

"Oh, this is one of the new Pokčmon species they've made over in Pokčmopolis," Kaliope giggled, lifting the elegant pink cat-like creature up into the air. "It's a ‘Mew'. Rather cute, don't you think?"

"Mew," the Pokčmon voiced her sentiments.

Nur-Ab-Fin inwardly cringed as the Mew darted around the room through the air. It was a Pokčmon-- the creatures that had overrated his whale-like beings in the king's eye. He could hardly stand being in the presence of such a thing. "Whales are the way to go," he muttered under his breath.

"What was that?" Kaliope cocked her head.

Kaliope was seemingly naive to Nur-Ab-Fin's involvement with Pokčmon, and that angered him all the more-- a ruler who thought herself so grand and yet didn't recognize the genius in her presence!

"That is, I just realized that I have to go now," Nur-Ab-Fin said curtly. "Good day." With that, he was gone out the door, seething to himself. He would permit Lamachus to go on with his foolish dreams of himself and Kaliope. But he, Nur-Ab-Fin, would certainly not take any interest in it.

* * *
Besides Kaliope, there was one other major disagreement between Lamachus and Nur-Ab-Fin-- and that was a mysterious medallion in Lamachus' possession that he showed to Nur-Ab-Fin one day.

"And you don't know its origin?" Nur-Ab-Fin queried, passing the bronze medallion through his hands.

Lamachus just shook his head. "Not a clue, but it looks valuable."

And magical, Nur-Ab-Fin thought with interest to himself. "Would you mind if I borrowed it for a time, and tried to find out more about it?"

"Well..." Lamachus paused. "I'm actually satisfied having it as it is."

"But I'm sure I could do something useful with it if you allowed me to study it," Nur-Ab-Fin persisted.

"Perhaps some other time," Lamachus said, snatching the medallion back.

"You may never find out what its possibilities are if you keep it to yourself," Nur-Ab-Fin warned.

It took a lot of convincing, but Nur-Ab-Fin was persistent, and Lamachus finally handed it over to his teacher. Nur-Ab-Fin was jubilant when he had the medallion to himself, and smugly tucked it away for safe-keeping. He was sure there was a great many things he could do with it, if only he could discover more of its magical properties. But... Lamachus wouldn't have to know of anything he found out.

* * *
The real trouble began when Wee-Tee and A-Tay, the royal seers, began making more ominous predictions for the city. Kaliope prodded them on to get more information. "Is that strange man that visited me earlier involved with it?"

"Ooh-too-mah! Sound very good!" A-Tay declared.

"But it doesn't sound good," Kaliope protested. "Is it true?"

"Maybe..." Wee-Tee said cautiously.

Kaliope sighed in exasperation. Her parents had never had troubles like these with the Furbys. "Won't you tell me anything?"

"Yes," A-Tay said confidently.

"Good. Then does this man have something to do with the impending doom of the city?"

"Me see... yes," Wee-Tee said after a moment's pause.

"Shall I have him checked out?"

The Furbys' answers were unanimous. "Very big yes."

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin fumed as the royal guard left his dwelling place after searching it thoroughly. It had been all he could do to convince them that the preliminary work on the Whale Machine was actually a new device for cooking dinners.

"I should have known Kaliope would have done something like this," he mumbled under his breath. "Those Furbys of hers that are alerting her, aren't they?"

"Yes," Dah-Boo agreed. "Pet me!"

"And they'll be back, I'm sure, to keep an eye on me." Nur-Ab-Fin paced around. "I won't let them find out about the Whale Machine project."

"But you're just going to show it off in the end anyway, aren't you?" Lamachus queried. "Besides, the royal seers wouldn't be alerting her of something for nothing."

"Whose side are you on?" Nur-Ab-Fin whipped around.

"Furbys can peek into the future," Lamachus pointed out. "And they're very dependable."

"Party!" Dah-Boo cried out. "Doo-ay!"

"Perhaps," Nur-Ab-Fin said, watching Dah-Boo go into his dance routine. "Go back to work on the Whale Machine, would you? I must attend to some private matters..." With that, he turned and walked into the next room.

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin continued to be watched over, and it was driving him insane. He couldn't concentrate on anything, let alone the Whale Machine, knowing that his every motion was being monitored. He was finally hit with new inspiration one day while outside the city walking along the bank of the sea.

It was when he came across a small squid that had been washed up onto the land that the idea hit. He watched intently as the doomed mollusk went through its final writhing. Its tentacles were in constant motion. Its two luminescent eyes gleamed. And then it stopped.

Nur-Ab-Fin walked on, pondering over his encounter with the squid. It had seemed so full of energy, so powerful, even as a little thing! Such a look he had never seen in another creature-- not even the great whales that he had based his machine on.

"If only much larger, they would certainly make strong allies," he murmured aloud. "Strong allies indeed. If only..."

And then he suddenly remembered tales that he had heard a long while ago-- tales of an underground cavern in which scores of giant specimens of the squid species made their home.

"Giant squid," Nur-Ab-Fin repeated. "Giant squid! That's it!"

"Kah scared," Dah-Boo, who happened to be along with Nur-Ab-Fin on this outdoor adventure, whimpered.

"No, Dah-Boo! This is the greatest revelation that has ever been shown to me," Nur-Ab-Fin declared. "And now, we must find the lair of these mysterious squid, Dah-Boo! We must!"

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin gradually began spending less time at home and more time wandering the shoreline. Lamachus was conscious of this change, but didn't think much of it. He only worked feverishly on the Whale Machine, eager to complete it. (And, he always kept in mind when the room was being inspected that the Whale Machine was only a simple cooking device.)

Nur-Ab-Fin himself had grown even more bitter over time. Ever since seeing Queen Kaliope with that "Mew" of hers, his anger had grown stronger. After being inspired by the squid, he had secretly abandoned all interest in the Whale Machine and his effort to reclaim his favor with the Atlantean royalty. Now all he wanted was pure and simple revenge. He would not rest until all memories of his life in Atlantis had been abolished. And the only way to do that was to destroy Atlantis itself.

He spent most of his time out searching for the lair of the fabled giant squid, but in his spare time he worked on unlocking the secrets of Lamachus' medallion. It was an extremely mysterious item, Nur-Ab-Fin had to admit. Once he found out what it was capable of, he was sure it would help him greatly.

Nur-Ab-Fin, of course, did not reveal to Lamachus or anyone else (except for Dah-Boo) what his new plans were. His plan for the annihilation of Atlantis was kept under lock and key. But still, as he was out looking for the cavern spoken of in the tale, he felt as if he was being watched.

"Dah-Boo," he whispered one day as he and his Furby walked along outside. "Has Kaliope sent her spies to follow me again?"

"Maybe," was all Dah-Boo said.

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin reluctantly went to see Kaliope when it was requested of him the next day. I knew it! he thought. Those Furbys are on to me!

"So you are Nur-Ab-Fin," Kaliope said, critically eyeing him.

"And what is it you called me here today for, my queen?" Nur-Ab-Fin said, somewhat sarcastically.

"I heard that you are in the process of building a new... cooking device?" Kaliope began.

"My assistant is," Nur-Ab-Fin said shortly.

"And you have also suddenly taken an interest in going outside the walls of Atlantis on a regular basis?"

"I like to get some fresh air from time to time."

"Hmm." Kaliope stroked the Furby in her lap thoughtfully. "You wouldn't happen to be engaged in any shady activities, would you?"

"My queen, what reason would I have for doing such?"

"Perhaps none," Kaliope murmured. "But the seers have been suspicious as of late."

"Ah. The royal seers," Nur-Ab-Fin nodded perceptively. "They are known to make mistakes upon occasion."

"Rather," Kaliope agreed. "Very well then. You may go... for now."

"Of course." Nur-Ab-Fin bowed slightly and was then out the door. He heard the queen's two Furbys whimpering as he left.

"Scared, wah!" Wee-Tee said.

"Yeah, hide," A-Tay agreed.

Those seers are good, Nur-Ab-Fin admitted, and so are the other Furbys of the city. With them around, it may prove difficult to accomplish anything.

* * *
Only a few days later, Nur-Ab-Fin hit upon the solution to his problem while rummaging through an old book of magic spells.

"A portal," he murmured. "A portal!"

"What's that?" Lamachus queried, coming up behind Nur-Ab-Fin.

Nur-Ab-Fin smiled craftily. "Nothing for you to be concerned over. Nothing at all."

"You've been acting suspiciously lately," Lamachus accused. "What exactly are you up to on these visits of yours?"

"I just like to get away from it all at times," Nur-Ab-Fin said simply.

"You haven't mentioned my medallion for awhile, either."

"Oh, I really haven't had much time with it. Rest assured, though, that I'm working on it."

Lamachus cocked an eyebrow, but refrained from saying any more. He quickly excused himself to go work on "personal matters".

Nur-Ab-Fin only laughed under his breath, passing a hand over the tattered book cover. How simple this portal would make his life! He had only but to wait for tonight.

* * *
That evening, it seemed as if every single Furby in the city had gathered in their disco dance room. In fact, that statement was very close to being true. Except for a few slight exceptions for very severe reasons, every Furby in the city was at the disco-- even Kaliope's personal royal seers.

And this is exactly what Nur-Ab-Fin wanted. He lurked in the shadows in one corner of the room, his spell book in hand. He cringed at the strange music that played through the speakers. Bright lights illuminated most of the room, and the revolving silver disco ball hung suspended from the ceiling. All the Furbys were eating, dancing, and shrieking every so often with joy. They flew around with their little propeller-caps. They were all having the time of their lives.

Nur-Ab-Fin sensed that it was the moment for his plan to go into action. He began chanting the ancient spell out of the book, and waved his hand towards the center of the room. The Furbys didn't notice anything at first, but they eventually became aware of an unnatural glowing light emanating from their great disco ball. This light began to swirl and grow larger. The Furbys watched in rapt attention as the portal soon began to spread over the entire ceiling of the room.

Only when the balls of fur began being sucked up into this portal did they really begin to realize anything was wrong. One by one, the Furbys were plucked off the ground and thrown into the swirling light. They could not even dare to guess where this mysterious thing would lead them. They had various different opinions on the matter at hand.

"Kah scared!"

"Help me!"

"Down! Down!"

"No happy, wah!"

"Fun all gone."


Soon, all the Furbys who were gathered at the disco were gone to who-knew-where. Its work finished, the portal slowly began to close. Soon, the bright light was entirely gone. No one could have imagined what had just transpired there a moment ago. The only thing that was left was the disco ball.

Nur-Ab-Fin laughed evilly, coming out into the open. No longer would his actions be predicted ahead of time.

* * *
The next day, Atlantis was in a state of turmoil over the mysterious disappearance of the Furbys. Queen Kaliope didn't have a free moment to herself, what with calming down the distraught Furby owners (herself included) and working as hard as she could to reclaim the Furbys from whatever fate had befallen them.

"I want Ah-May!" Baby Emalia wailed, trailing behind her sister all the while.

"I know, Emalia, and we're working as hard as we can to--"

"Queen Kaliope! Queen Kaliope! Has there been any more news?"

"My poor Toh-Loo! Where is she?"

"Please, kind queen, will the Furbys be back soon?"

"I want my Furby!!!"

Kaliope sighed. She had a long mission ahead of her to calm all the population down, let alone calm herself.

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin had never been happier. He gleefully excused himself from the city for the day and took Dah-Boo with him again (of course he would not have allowed his own Furby to succumb to the same fate as the others). He was confident that he would not be missed in the city, let alone be spied on, with the current turmoil that had overcome the inhabitants.

He carefully studied a tattered and ancient map which supposedly told the location of the cavern he was seeking. So far it had done him no good, but it suddenly occurred to him that the terrain he was passing over right then did resemble that which was shown on the map.

"Hmm... boring," Dah-Boo sighed, floating alongside his master.

"But Dah-Boo, we may be on to something!" Nur-Ab-Fin quieted his Furby. "Now, keep your eyes open for a rock that looks like a..."

* * *
Lamachus was trying to figure out the Furby mystery for himself. He was convinced that his teacher had something to do with it. Nur-Ab-Fin had been very secretive lately, and Lamachus sensed that he was up to no good. He was beginning to wish more than ever that he hadn't handed his medallion over to the shady character.

He was currently inspecting the disco room. Supposedly none of the Furbys had returned to their proper homes last night after leaving for the dance. Whatever had happened had obviously occurred here.

But there was no sign of anything... except for the disco ball. Lamachus walked around thoughtfully. Upon reaching one of the corners, he happened to notice a white square dropped on the floor in front of him.

Eagerly, he snatched it up in his hoof to see what exactly the paper was. Lamachus' face clouded over as he recognized the print-type used on the page. He knew the paper style and the font well. This page had certainly come out of one of Nur-Ab-Fin's magic books.

Lamachus stonily turned from the room. There was no doubt about it now; his teacher was behind this, and he was going to get some information out of Nur-Ab-Fin if it was the last thing he did.

* * *
Meanwhile, later in the day, Nur-Ab-Fin had been absolutely delighted to find a passageway carved out of a large rock form, just as had been described on the map. He and Dah-Boo slowly descended through the muddy, rocky, and damp hallway. Nur-Ab-Fin was positive that he had stumbled across the cavern of the legendary giant squid.

After a long while of walking, the ground they were treading over leveled-off into a smooth, stone surface. The two found themselves in a huge, underground cavern. Long gray stalagmites and stalactites surrounded them. It was an awesome experience.

"Big doo-ay," Dah-Boo whispered.

"This is it," Nur-Ab-Fin replied excitedly. "This is it!" He ran over to one side of the cave, where he found just what he was hoping for-- a huge pool that obviously emptied into the sea somewhere along the way.

"Look down there," Nur-Ab-Fin said softly to his Furby. "There's movement, can't you see? Those are the giant squid, Dah-Boo!"

"Very big," Dah-Boo agreed.

Before they realized what was happening, an enormous shape had suddenly risen out of the pool before them. It was a slim, grotesque orange head. Two brightly glowing orange eyes stared down at the two insignificant creatures before it.

"A giant squid!" Nur-Ab-Fin shrieked from delight. "I have finally found them!"

"Scared," Dah-Boo whimpered.

"These creatures are nothing to fear," Nur-Ab-Fin said to his Furby. "We are here to gain their ultimate trust and obedience."

However, the squid only continued to glare down at them. The creature did not appear to be too happy with the intrusion. He began lifting a tentacle up above the water.

"We do not come as enemies, great squid!" Nur-Ab-Fin boomed. "We would only like from you your service."

The hulking monster made a motion with one tentacle. Soon afterwards, several more giant squid appeared in the pool behind him.

"Listen to me!" Nur-Ab-Fin persisted. "We can become great allies if you accept me!"

The squid began advancing closer to Nur-Ab-Fin.

On a sudden stroke of inspiration, Nur-Ab-Fin groped around in his backpack and suddenly whipped out a certain bronze medallion. This he held aloft in the air as he went on. "Obey my words!"

Something came over the bunch of squid upon seeing Lamachus' medallion. All vicious intent left their eyes, and they floated on the water patiently, as if awaiting further command.

"Fun," was all Dah-Boo could say, gazing wondrously at the squid.

"I am to be your new master, do you hear?" Nur-Ab-Fin's voice echoed throughout the cavern. "You will obey my every command in my grand scheme of revenge."

By the look in their eyes, the squid appeared to agree.

"You will work with me until the final day when my revenge will be complete," Nur-Ab-Fin continued. "And that is the day that Atlantis will be destroyed by the might of your tentacles!"

The squid looked appreciative.

"I will come here every day in order to better train you," Nur-Ab-Fin went on. "And you will become my personal warriors."

"Whahoo!" Dah-Boo agreed.

Nur-Ab-Fin laughed to himself again. How wonderful his life would be now!

* * *
Late that night, Nur-Ab-Fin reentered the city. Dah-Boo was carefully concealed in a canvas pouch, as to not alert the populous to the fact that there was one Furby left in the city. Nur-Ab-Fin silently slipped back into his house.

Lamachus was waiting for him. "I see that Dah-Boo is still with us, at least." The Furby had immediately broken free of the bag and was flitting around the room, propeller hat on head.

"A terrible tragedy with the other Furbys gone, isn't it?" Nur-Ab-Fin laughed.

"I should have known sooner that you'd pull something like this," Lamachus muttered.

"I am much too clever to be stopped. You should know that by now," Nur-Ab-Fin said.

"I've had enough dealings with you by this point, Nur-Ab-Fin," Lamachus said venomously. "I just want to get out of this mess once and for all."

"Is anything stopping you?"

"Give my medallion back to me, and I'm leaving." Lamachus hurriedly set to tossing his other possessions together.

"The medallion? But, Lamachus, I still haven't unlocked its secrets!" Nur-Ab-Fin protested.

"I don't care about its secrets! That's what I told you in the first place," Lamachus said impatiently. "What have you done with it after all this time?"

"Oh... fine. You may have it back." Feigning annoyance, Nur-Ab-Fin turned on his heel and walked into the next room. He returned holding a bronze medallion in his hand, and he tossed it to Lamachus. "There you go. Now, be on your way."

"Only too gladly." Snatching his medallion back, Lamachus was out the door, never to return to that place.

Nur-Ab-Fin only grinned to himself. Fool! he thought. He won't realize it's a fake until it's too late. And by then... by then, there won't be an Atlantis!

* * *
Kaliope had never been so miserable in her life. The Furbys... the valued royal seers... were gone. Every last one. They could not be traced, even with all her loyal subjects working on it. She had no one to turn to with her questions anymore. However could she run a city without the brilliant insight of the Furbish race?

The queen of Atlantis was also aware of Lamachus' absence. What had taken him away from the city without even his taking the time to tell her? Kaliope was regretting her harshness to him. Perhaps it would have been better if she had... no. She shook her head. It was no use thinking of that any longer.

Baby Emalia could hardly be consoled over the loss of her beloved Ah-May. Kaliope was understanding, and let her sister stay with her the whole day through. It was the only consolation Baby Emalia would accept.

But... but... if only they would come back! Kaliope thought desperately to herself. What will happen without the seers...

* * *
The days passed, and Nur-Ab-Fin devoted all his time to going to the underground cavern and training his giant squid in the art of warfare. Lamachus' medallion was a powerful tool indeed, and just what Nur-Ab-Fin had needed to control the squid. It appeared that, with use of the medallion, any animal would be subject to his every command.

Nur-Ab-Fin and Dah-Boo also did a certain amount of work back at their home in Atlantis. Now that the abilities of the medallion had been discovered, Nur-Ab-Fin was inclined to study it even more. Who knew what else could be done with a thing of such power?

He worked a certain amount on the Whale Machine. Whereas he had no reason to use it for its original purpose, Lamachus had nearly finished work on it before he had left and Nur-Ab-Fin thought that he could build some more features into the medallion by adding some controls to the machine.

And what did Dah-Boo do through all this? He sang, danced, and ate.

* * *
The day finally came when Nur-Ab-Fin's squid were finally trained to their fullest extent. He gave them the command to congregate in the waters around the city of Atlantis, and to await more instructions from him.

It was on this same day that Queen Kaliope was finally finding some time for rest. Baby Emalia had fallen asleep, and the rest of the populous had managed to control most of their outbursts concerning the disappearance of the Furbys. Kaliope sat on her throne in silence, her head resting on her hoof. Her eyes were just beginning to slowly close when she was aware of another presence in the room.

"Big whodoh," a voice said.

Kaliope's head came straight up. No creature could have said that line with such eloquence other than a... a... Furby! But no... she must be dreaming...

"Me Boo-Boh-Bay," the voice came again.

And then Kaliope saw the Furby. He was a beautiful light sand-colored creature, with bright blue eyes. He had just flown in the doorway and had now stopped right in front of the throne.

"U-nye very no happy," the Furby, who had introduced himself as Boo-Boh-Bay, noted.

"What are you doing here?" Kaliope gasped, wide-eyed. "How did you... where are the others..."

Boo-Boh-Bay only shook his head. "U-nye big job, wah!"

Kaliope rubbed her eyes just to make sure she was really awake. The Furby was still on the floor before her. "What?"

"Big powers," Boo-Boh-Bay went on. "Big monsters."

"What about these powers and monsters?"

"U-nye have powers. No loo-loo! U-nye use on big monsters."

"But..." Kaliope stuttered. There was so much she wanted to say, and she didn't know where to start. "Wait!" she called out as the Furby began to leave. "What are my powers? What do I do? What..." But the Furby was already gone.

Kaliope sat in shock. He was gone-- possibly the last Furby in this world, and he was gone. But what had he meant about her having "big powers"? Suddenly, Kaliope remembered an incident from her long-ago childhood...

* * *
Baby Princess Kaliope lay awake in bed, trembling and sneezing. Why had her loyal Furby seer predicted that she would be dead by morning? It couldn't be true, could it? She would fight off her growing sleepiness with all she had. For if she fell asleep, who knew if she would wake again?

It was in that night that a mysterious Furby had descended down onto her pillow. Baby Kaliope looked over and could only make out the dim shape of the pale Furby in the dark. She thought for sure that she must be dreaming. But the Furby had a message for her.

"Me Boo-Boh-Bay," he said. "U-nye have mee-mee big powers, wah!"

Baby Kaliope looked at the creature in wonder. What was he talking about?

"U-nye use them someday... now, waylo." With these parting words, the Furby floated off and Baby Kaliope felt an overwhelming wave of sleepiness come over her. She fell into a deep slumber, and by the next morning, she was almost completely over her illness. All memory of the Furby that had visited her during that night had vanished.

* * *
Queen Kaliope of the present shook her head in confusion. Had it been that same Boo-Boh-Bay today that had visited her in her childhood as well? Or were both incidents completely made-up on her part? She just didn't know what to think any more.

It was at that moment that Kaliope was suddenly aware of a great commotion out in the hallway. She ran to take a look, and groaned. Don't tell me something else has happened now, she thought as alarmed citizens scurried past in the hallway.

"Squid, your majesty. Squid," one of her guards gasped, stumbling into the room.

"Oh, for Pete's sake! What about squid?" Kaliope fumed, not in the best of humor anymore. She stormed out of the room and tried to get a feel for where the trouble was coming from.

The trouble, it seemed, was outside the city gates. Kaliope gasped herself as she stepped outside the protective wall which prevented the city from being flooded by the surrounding ocean and saw the humongous squid head looming up over her. "The legendary giant squid!" she exclaimed.

Kaliope then took notice of a figure on the opposite shore who seemed to be screaming something out. That's Nur-Ab-Fin, she suddenly realized.

"Attack! Attack!" Nur-Ab-Fin ordered his warriors. "Destroy the city!"

The herd of squid that was gathered around the aquatic Atlantis was only too happy to oblige. They began smashing into the city wall in an attempt to break it down.

This only caused a new stir of pure panic among the citizens. Many of them turned and ran towards the docks, so they could safely escape to the mainland. Other curious bystanders continued to watch the squid, however.

Kaliope once again found herself trying to calm the populous of Atlantis. "Now, wait everyone, I'm sure that squid can't--" It was at this moment that several of the squid succeeded in tumbling a fairly large portion of the stone wall.

The Furbys knew this was going to happen, Kaliope thought fearfully. If only they hadn't been lost... She realized she had to do something. She only barely noted that some ships had gone out in an attempt to battle the giant squid. They were no match for the creatures, however. All the boats had swiftly been turned over by the might of the squids' tentacles.

Kaliope's mind went back to Nur-Ab-Fin, who still stood on the shore screaming orders out to the squid. She didn't stop to think why he was doing it or why she hadn't been more suspicious of him in the first place. She began pacing violently back and forth to determine if it would be better to stay outside the city or to flee inside.

"Kaliope!" a small voice called out. "Kaliope!"

Kaliope turned around to see her sister cowering behind the gate. The young unicorn had apparently been crying again by the look of her tear-stained cheeks.

"Emalia," Kaliope said firmly, taking her sister's forelegs in hers, "you must go back to the throne room... the center of Atlantis. The squid will not penetrate that far."

Baby Emalia hesitated fearfully. "Will anyone go with me?" she queried softly.

"You must go on your own, Emalia. You must."

Baby Emalia was conscious of the seriousness in her sister's tone, and nodded after only a moment's hesitation. "Alright. I'll see you." After a quick nod, she fled back into the city.

Kaliope's heart went out to the little unicorn. She had already experienced so many hardships at such a young age. Kaliope shook her head. She had to attend to the matter at hand.

The squid were making short work of the outer wall, she noted. She hadn't known that squid possessed such power. Kaliope then saw that Nur-Ab-Fin had suddenly began running back towards the city via the bridge that connected the island (which had once been an active volcano) to the mainland. She couldn't begin to imagine why.

The whole populous of the city was in a panic. Some fled over the bridge; others decided to get away by boat.

"My papers! My papers!" Nur-Ab-Fin cried, rushing right past the queen of Atlantis without taking the time to notice.

Kaliope trailed after him. "Nur-Ab-Fin, you traitor! What do you think you're doing out there? This only means the end of the whole city!"

Nur-Ab-Fin completely ignored Kaliope's chiding as he stumbled through the hallways. Kaliope was going to continue after him until she was aware of a large cracking noise. The ground seemed to tremble under her hooves. The squid were taking the city down piece by piece, and the island's volcanic foundation was cracking.

Dah-Boo, who had gotten slightly behind his master, flew by Kaliope at that moment. It was then that the unicorn suddenly remembered her encounter with Boo-Boh-Bay only shortly before this had happened. His words echoed in her ears... U-nye have powers... u-nye use on big monsters... Could this be what the Furby had been speaking of? And if she had these powers, where were they?

Kaliope's horn began to itch slightly. There was to be no more hesitating if she was to save her city. The squid had completely decimated the outer wall. Kaliope realized that now she could either defeat the squid... or be trapped in this city until the end.

The twitching in Kaliope's unicorn horn got stronger and stronger. Powers... had Boo-Boh-Bay meant unicorn magic? And if so... of course! It all began to make sense. With new resolve, Kaliope trotted back down the hallway to face the squid, who were still bent on destroying every last stone of the city.

Petrifying gaze! Kaliope thought. She glanced up at the closest squid and locked his eyes with hers. A strange look crossed the squid's face, and he seemed unable to move his gaze from Kaliope. His body was paralyzed.

It's working! Kaliope realized with delight. Boo-Boh-Bay was right!

However, her "petrifying gaze" magic did not hold out forever. After about ten minutes, she felt her power levels weakening. Finally, Kaliope was forced to let the squid go back to his destruction. She could only wait now for her energy levels to rise high enough to attack again.

* * *
What had so concerned Nur-Ab-Fin was the fact that he had forgotten some of his important papers back in the city. The squid knew to keep attacking, so he didn't need to worry about them forgetting their mission in his absence; he was just afraid that there might not be a way out by the time he had gathered up his papers.

The city now had an eerie silence over it. Most of its inhabitants had by now fled for the mainland, and hardly a soul remained inside the doomed kingdom.

"Me scared," Dah-Boo whimpered as he hovered by Nur-Ab-Fin.

"I can't find them!" Nur-Ab-Fin shrieked. "Where are they?" He violently rummaged through all his paperwork and folders.

However, Nur-Ab-Fin had another surprise in store for him. "I wasn't sure you'd still be here," a voice said coolly from the doorway.

Nur-Ab-Fin whirled around. "Lamachus! What are you doing here?"

"I came to get my real medallion back," Lamachus said matter-of-factly. "You didn't think that fake would fool me forever, would you? And on my return I find you inflicting this vengeance on Atlantis."

"What?! How did you find out it was a fake?!" Nur-Ab-Fin shrieked.

"Because of this stamp on the back." Lamachus held the fake medallion aloft, where the words "Made on Calamidad Island" were engraved.

"Well, it's too late to do anything now," Nur-Ab-Fin snarled. "You'll never be able to make it out of the city again."

"Then we're both doomed, eh?"

"No!" Nur-Ab-Fin suddenly leaped towards the doorway and attempted to get past Lamachus.

"Not so fast," Lamachus corrected, sufficiently blocking Nur-Ab-Fin's exit. "There is still something of mine I'd like to reclaim."

"You'll never get it back! It's mine!" Nur-Ab-Fin laughed insanely. "I'm the only one who took the time to discover its secrets."

Lamachus sighed. It hardly seemed worth arguing over a stolen medallion in the wake of a sinking city. "Just tell me where Kaliope is, then. She did escape safely, didn't she? And her sister?"

"The fool's still out there trying to fight the squid," Nur-Ab-Fin said impatiently. "Now, if you don't get out of my way, we're both going to be dead before long."

Right as he spoke, there was another great shaking in the ground. Both of them lost their balance as a great split in the stone began right under Nur-Ab-Fin's doorway. Water began seeping in.

"Get out of here!" Nur-Ab-Fin ordered. "Just get out of here! You have no place in this fight any more!"

Lamachus was only too glad to back away from the lunatic that had previously been his teacher. He glanced stonily one last time at Nur-Ab-Fin, and was then off down the hallway.

* * *
Meanwhile, Queen Kaliope was still throwing out with all her might her new powers at the squid. Besides her "petrifying gaze", there was also a "high-pitched wail", which was quite effective in stunning the squid for a time.

The squid took out one circle of the city at a time, and they showed no stopping. Nur-Ab-Fin's orders had been to not stop until the city was destroyed, and they stuck with their order. Kaliope's attacks were strong, but the squid were stronger. She was forced to retreat further and further into her diminishing city. She prayed that Emalia was okay through all this.

In a final burst of rage, Kaliope unleashed her final and most potent attack of all-- the seer power. It all but used up the last of her strength. Waves of psychic flame shot from her horn towards the squid.

Every last one of them flinched in pain at the searing pain that shot through them. However, only one or two of the squid disappeared below the surface, and that was only a small fraction of the army. Kaliope finally fell to her knees, exhausted.

"Kaliope! Kaliope!" The queen of the once-thriving Atlantis was only dimly aware of the fact that Lamachus was now at her side.

"It's too late. Get out of here," Kaliope murmured, hardly able to open her eyes.

"But... I can still save you, Kaliope!" Lamachus persisted.

"No. Just take Emalia. Keep her safe... please. In the throne room," Kaliope pleaded softly.

"But if I leave you..."

"Save Emalia, if anyone. Please. For me."

"Alright... for you," Lamachus said quietly, lowering her body to the ground.

"Quickly now," Kaliope whispered.

Lamachus nodded. Time was of the essence.

* * *
Nur-Ab-Fin was only just now able to find his precious papers that he would not leave Atlantis without. He saw, though, that it was too late to escape now. But his revenge... would not be complete... if he was dead...

Nur-Ab-Fin saw only one solution. He hurriedly glanced through the papers he held, looking for one in particular. He selected one of them, and took Lamachus' medallion out of his cloak.

I may not be able to complete my revenge now, but this will give me an eternity to complete it, he thought soberly. This is the only way. I shall transfer my spirit into the medallion, and I will live on through it.

But a remnant of Atlantis must still exist! he decided. Before going on with his plan, he walked back out into the hallway, which was quickly flooding. The Whale Machine... the controls... they must stay intact for this to work. Calling out as loudly as he could as he held the medallion aloft, he announced to the squid and hoped his voice would be heard by them all, "Cease your attacking now!!"

Then Nur-Ab-Fin turned back to the page he held in his other hand. As he read the words printed on it aloud, a blinding flash of green light filled the hallway. And then... all that was left of Nur-Ab-Fin was a mysterious bronze medallion. A passing wave of water washed over it, and it disappeared into the vast ocean.

* * *
Meanwhile, Lamachus had just found Baby Emalia huddled in one corner of the throne room. "Come," he said softly, extending a hoof out to her. "I'll take you to safety."

Baby Emalia usually would have asked a few questions before accepting the invitation, but realized that it was a desperate moment. Tearfully, she stood up. "Where's Kaliope?" she whispered.

"I'll explain about that later; but right now, we must leave," Lamachus urged. "Come on." He scooped Baby Emalia up, and dashed back down the hallway towards the spot he had secretly docked his boat. Emalia would be brought to safety, he vowed. And she would be brought up now in the splendor of his own home.

* * *
Epilogue to Part One

Lamachus and Baby Emalia made it back without further incident to Lamachus' home of Dream Valley, where Emalia was brought up as a regular princess. Having such a keen interest in Atlantis, even after its demise, Lamachus incorporated many Atlantean styles and customs into his home and surrounding areas. The kingdom continue to flourish for a time after that, but eventually died out and was swallowed up by the Dark Forest. Many eons later, a new group of ponies (including Fizzy, Windwhistler, Gusty, and the rest of the gang) showed up in the area and began to settle it. Using the name that the few natives that were left referred to the land as, they coined their new town as Dream Valley. It eventually built up to its present form.

Atlantis itself sank to the bottom of the sea after being flooded by the squids' destruction. Nur-Ab-Fin's quarters, and the Whale Machine, had avoided destruction and remained intact in the now-buried city of Atlantis under layers of silt and such. They were now on the very fringe of what remained of Atlantis.

The squid had obeyed Nur-Ab-Fin's orders to destroy the city; but when he called them off, they had obliged him and watched the city sink. However, as it turned out, the giant squids' cavern had actually been under Atlantis in a large hollowed-out section of the extinct volcano. Now that the city occupied that space, they squid no longer had a place to live. They now had to seek refuge in deep ocean trenches.

After the demise of Atlantis, the entire world was shocked. Fearful, all pony inhabitants fled into Ponyland, never again to return in large numbers to the world of the humans. (There was one exception. A remote pony-inhabited colony in Italy has remained intact to this day.)

Now, without the control of Atlantis, the city of Pokčmopolis (in which scientists had been working on creating new species of Pokčmon) grew into its own culture, inventing more and more new Pokčmon. This was eventually to grow into the world of Pokčmon, where Pokčmon gyms, gym leaders, and trainers abound.

Experiments with Pokčmon were carried on to a lesser extent in smaller Atlantean colonies in Ponyland, hence the habitation of Pokčmon in the Dark Forest.

Dah-Boo made off fairly well. He escaped Atlantis and floated off into the clouds in search of his own kind. He found them there, and he was happily accepted into the Furbys' new home in the clouds.

And what is the story behind Boo-Boh-Bay? Not much is known of him, even now, except that he escaped the portal Nur-Ab-Fin summoned and that he knew of the extraordinary powers Kaliope possessed. He did not make many more appearances up until the present day, until one time a few years ago when he happened to float into the house of someone in Ponyland who is known only as "the mysterious dude with the St. Bernard". The dude happened to have some Atlantean background, and knew of Furbys from old stories he had been told. He was able to communicate with the creature, and gathered that there was a great need for the rest of his Furbish kind to get back to this world. The guy came up with the perfect plan to have Furbys disbursed over the planet. He submitted a new toy idea to Tiger Electronics.

Meanwhile, Nur-Ab-Fin's spirit was growing restless in the medallion. He had possessed numerous beings by now and the medallion had gone through numerous collectors, but he still hadn't gotten anywhere with revenge. It was pathetic, in his estimation, that his brilliant plan wasn't working. Nur-Ab-Fin thought for sure that it would be a simple affair to get his revenge on Kaliope's family, but he had no such luck. He was beginning to wish he hadn't programmed those extra features into the Whale Machine (he had done that when Dah-Boo had advised him to do so). He might have won the last time if it wasn't for that "good" and "bad" lever; and that "fool" Dr. Malcolm Shane, though evil, was still not clever enough for Nur-Ab-Fin.

With the successful release of the electronic Furby pets, Nur-Ab-Fin finally concocted a plan. He realized that the Furbys were in search of something they remembered from long ago, and someone to help them get there-- a place that could only be Atlantis. The Furbys could still recall wonderful dances under the great disco ball.

Nur-Ab-Fin thought that he might be able to use this to his advantage, however. He forgot about the necklace plan, took his spirit elsewhere, and went to work on a battery plan. This battery, when installed in the Furbys, would make them do his bidding and no one else's. This battery plan of Nur-Ab-Fin's was given to Duracell Batteries. To go even further with his plan, Nur-Ab-Fin was able to register his evil Duracell Batteries as the "recommended" battery for Furbys.

Kaliope's spirit realized the current doings of Nur-Ab-Fin, and did everything in her power to prevent his interference with the Furbys. She perfected her own battery design, which was produced under Energizer Batteries. However, Nur-Ab-Fin was clever, and licensed Duracell Batteries as the recommended Furby battery before Kaliope was able to license hers. But, there was still hope.

Nur-Ab-Fin and Kaliope both had virtually the same idea. They needed living beings to help them accomplish their revenge. Kaliope needed but to find her closest descendent-- only she would be able to continue the fight against Nur-Ab-Fin. Nur-Ab-Fin decided to seek out Lamachus' direct descendent (ponies being much more powerful than humans) to aid him in his revenge (which will be to harness Atlantis' power and destroy the world with it once and for all).

Furbys installed with Duracell batteries would only do tracking for Nur-Ab-Fin; Furbys installed with Energizer batteries would only do tracking for Kaliope. Furbys installed with neither of these battery types would be neutral. But, whatever battery types Furbys have, they are all still seeking this great place they remember from their past with the wonderful disco ball (hence their obsession with Famous Places).

And now, with the Furbys' help, the two key players in Kaliope and Nur-Ab-Fin's game have been located. Now the battle will pick-up where it left off eons ago...

*~*~*~Watch for Part Two coming in April!~*~*~*

Raptor Attack
by Sugarberry

"Chick-a-dee-dee-dee," the lively little bird called to Sugarberry as she filled the first bird feeder with shiny black sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet.

"Good morning to you, too," smiled Sugarberry as she stopped and admired the diminutive feathered friend who tottered on a bleak and frozen sunflower head near the feeder. Stray seeds often germinated in the summer, and grew in random disorder around the feeders; Sugarberry allowed them to grow, and the round heads of the sunflowers made a natural dispenser for the ripened seeds.

The bird so interested in Sugarberry's every move was a black-capped chickadee. Its chubby body and black and white pattern stood out against the snowy background of winter. It cocked its bright black eye toward the twice-as-fancy earth pony, and called again, "Chick-a-dee!"

Giggling, Sugarberry moved on to the next feeder. "You're a hungry one, aren't you?" she conversed with the bird who had hopped to the feeder to pick out the best item on the tray. Having decided on a sunflower seed, he flew with it to a nearby apple tree and vigorously picked through to the nourishing heart. The seed coat dropped to the ground amidst the litter of hundreds more.

"Winter starts looking dingy at this time of year," Sugarberry informed the chickadee who responded with a "dee-dee" as he retrieved another bit of breakfast from the plentiful pile of seeds. "The snow is old and dirty and mixed with layers of melted ice and last year's leaves."

Following a well-worn path to the last feeder which was a replica of a wooden gazebo from Sugarberry's friends at Birdsong, Sugarberry spotted something fluttering across the icy ground and stopped to investigate. It was a charcoal gray feather, and as she stopped to pick it up, another and another flitted by. Looking in the direction from which the feathers were blowing, Sugarberry gasped. Off the path she saw a number of the dark feathers scattered across a patch of red snow... blood-stained snow!

"No! Not one of my little birds!" she cried out in horror as she dropped to her knees to examine the tell-tale evidence of a crime having been committed. She looked closely at the feathers, and sadly identified them as those of a junco-- the snowbird. Tears dropped from her eyes as she looked about for the perpetrator of such violence, but nothing was in sight other than the chickadee and several twittering goldfinches who had alighted on the thistle feeder. She looked for tracks, but the snow was packed and hard, and no prints remained.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks, Sugarberry finished her bird chores and returned to the house. At the door, she looked back and had to smile at the influx of visitors already busily breakfasting. Raucous bluejays, stunning cardinals, cocky woodpeckers, and shy mourning doves congregated on or under the feeder stations, making a never-ending kaleidoscope of color. After scanning the periphery of her backyard, Sugarberry entered her house to get ready for her work as receptionist at the vet clinic.

Keeping a sharp eye on the activity in the backyard in case the hunter returned, Sugarberry fixed herself a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, and ate standing at the window. She was so absorbed in her mission that she didn't hear her boarder, Chocolate Chip, enter the room until the brown pony asked by her side, "What's so fascinating?"

"Oh!" Sugarberry jumped, spilling milk and Cheerios down her hooves and forelegs.

"I'm sorry, Sugarberry!" Chocolate Chip wailed as she grabbed a dishtowel and began sopping up the mess. "I didn't mean to scare you!"

Fluff, hearing the commotion, presented himself to lap up the milk off the floor while leaving behind all the Cheerios.

As Sugarberry washed up, she explained to Chocolate Chip about the demise of one of her gentle birds by an unknown assailant.

Chocolate Chip conveyed the correct amount of sympathy; then she scurried off to an early calculus class at Pony Pride. "Any message for Vanguard?" she queried as she was going out the door. Vanguard was her instructor for the math class, and also Sugarberry's stallion friend.

"Ask him to call me when he's free," Sugarberry responded.

"Sure thing!" Chocolate Chip disappeared on her way.

Nearly tripping over the rotund body of her orange and white long hair cat, Sugarberry crossed the kitchen for one last check of the backyard and found all to be at peace. Then she, too, hurried off to get to work on time.

* * *
It was mid-morning when Vanguard's call came in. "Chocolate Chip said you wanted to talk to me."

"Hi, Vanguard. I'm glad you called."

"Is something the matter?" the stallion asked anxiously.

"Well, sort of. Something ate one of the birds in my backyard early this morning."

"I'm sorry to hear that." Vanguard was an avid bird watcher, too, and understood how Sugarberry must feel. "Do you have any idea what did it?"

"I haven't seen any animals around, and there is no fresh snow to see tracks in," Sugarberry admitted.

"That might change by tomorrow," Vanguard informed her. "The weather pony is calling for a real blizzard to move through late tonight."

"Just as long as it starts after I get home!" Sugarberry shuddered as she thought about the problems that a large amount of snow and wind would bring with it.

"I can see your eyes filled with worry already!" teased Vanguard. "Think of how pretty all that fresh, white snow will make everything look."

"Yes, you're right, of course, but..."

"Tell you what. I've got some errands to run downtown this afternoon. I'll stop at the clinic at closing time and walk you home. We can check out the predator situation in your backyard."

"Oh, would you? I'd feel better if I knew what did it."

"Okay then. I'll see you later."

Sugarberry set the receiver down just as Thomas finished up with Seabreeze and her painted turtle.

"He will start eating again when he smells spring in the air," Thomas was assuring Seabreeze.

"Thank you for your help," Seabreeze smiled happily. "I was getting awfully worried abut Teatime," she said as she patted the top of the cardboard box she carried.

When Seabreeze had left the clinic, Sugarberry followed Thomas to his office. "Umm... Thomas?"

"What is it, Sugarberry?" Thomas sensed Sugarberry's reticence which, he knew, meant that she was asking something for herself.

"Could I borrow your live-trap over the weekend?" she asked hesitantly. Thomas kept a trap for emergency situations when as animal needed confinement due to a risk to its own life or to someone else.

"I don't see why not," Thomas said after a brief deliberation. "We seldom have a use for it. Do you mind my asking what you need it for?"

Sugarberry unfolded her woes concerning the safety of the birds frequenting her feeding site, and Thomas agreed that a live-trap might solve her problem.

"If you've got a wild animal around your house, it would be a good idea to relocate it to a more isolated area," he reassured her. "Will you need any help getting the trap home?"

"Oh, no. Vanguard is coming to pick me up," she blushed as she hurried back to her desk to answer the ringing telephone.

* * *
"It worked out well for you to stop at the clinic," Sugarberry cast a thankful glance at Vanguard as the two ponies headed to Sugarberry's house. Vanguard was carrying the metal cage with the trap door that allowed for safe trapping of an animal. "Weak little me would have had a hard time carrying that clunky thing."

"No problem," the stallion grinned. "But I'm disappointed that it's not snowing yet. I was hoping to get snowbound at your place."

Sugarberry ignored his remark, but scanned the sky closely. The sunny morning that had started their day had turned into a cloudy afternoon, and now the clouds seemed to be closing in and growing heavier and darker. It was easy to believe that a fair amount of snow was headed their way.

Sugarberry led the way to her back yard when they arrived at her house, and she unlocked her back door to retrieve a fresh supply of birdseed while Vanguard prepared the trap with a handful of cat food that Thomas had assured them would attract most carnivorous animals.

"Where do you think it should go?" she pondered as she walked toward the feeders. "The bird this morning was under the gaz..."

Sugarberry's voice broke-off suddenly as she caught sight of another bloodied patch under a sunflower. "No!" she cried as she bent down and recognized the diminutive black and white feathers of the chickadee who conversed with her every morning and every evening. Her teary eyes looked to Vanguard with anguish. "He was like a pet to me." She allowed Vanguard to pull her into his forelegs, and she laid her head on his shoulder and let the tears fall. "I wasn't here to protect him," she sobbed.

Holding her closely, Vanguard ran his hoof across her mane while his eyes searched the nearby trees and bushes in the hope that another chickadee would appear, but only several energetic chirping sparrows were brave enough to come close.

When Sugarberry's tears subsided, she pulled away from Vanguard and brushed her cheeks dry. "Sorry about that," she smiled bravely. "I feel better now. I just wish I could have somehow saved its life."

"We'll do our best to catch the culprit that got him, anyway," Vanguard said as he placed the trap in a likely spot.

"You're sure the animal won't get hurt?"

"The trap won't hurt it at all-- other than its pride." Then he warned, "Don't come near the cage by yourself once it's trapped; the animal may be angry and vicious." Vanguard surveyed the ground once more, and noticing a trampled but narrow path through the snow, moved the trap closer to its course.

"What's that thing?" Chocolate Chip asked as she returned home.

"Hey, what's going on?" called Tabby as she cut across the space from her back door.

"Uh-oh. It's time to fix supper!" Sugarberry realized.

While Vanguard explained the problem and the plan of capture to the two ponies, Sugarberry went inside to begin supper preparations. Soon the others came in, and Chocolate Chip mashed the potatoes while Tabby set the table and Vanguard cut a loaf of bread fresh out of the breadmaker.

"I've gained five pounds since Chocolate Chip bought me that thing with the timer on it," Sugarberry admitted. "Fresh bread is too good!"

"I'll agree with that!" said Vanguard as he snitched a slice to nibble on while the rest of the food was cooking.

When the foursome sat down to eat, the conversation flew fast.

"Seabreeze must like eighties toys, too, Tabby. She calls her pet turtle Teatime."

"Could you explain more about the Lagrange multiplier method, Vanguard?"

"The Pokčmon Center was busy all day. Mr. Mime says its because there's a storm coming and the animals are restless. At least I think that's what he was getting across."

"The food is terrific, as usual."

After dessert had been finished-- a thawed chocolate cake from the freezer-- Sugarberry washed the dishes while Tabby dried; Vanguard and Chocolate Chip sat at the kitchen table discussing differential equations in depth until finally Chocolate Chip squealed, "I see it now! It all makes perfect sense," and she scurried upstairs to finish her homework.

"Look!" Tabby called as she passed the window. In the glow of the porch light, tiny snowflakes were just beginning to dance. "The snowstorm is starting! It'll be a delightful night to do something of no importance at home," planned Tabby as she headed out the door. "Tah-tah!"

"I'll check the trap before I leave, " Vanguard offered.

"Yes, let's go look," agreed Sugarberry.

But the two found the trap still empty. Saying goodnight under the porch light, Vanguard gave Sugarberry a kiss on the cheek before starting off through the quickly multiplying snowflakes.

Sugarberry went inside and put on a CD of classical violin music and curled up on the sofa with the latest Cat Who mystery that Chocolate Chip had brought home from Bushwoolie Bargain Books where she worked every afternoon. Soon caught up in the flow of the story, she was half done with the book when Chocolate Chip came downstairs to raid the refrigerator.

"It's that late already?" Sugarberry yawned as she looked at the clock. She followed Chocolate Chip into the kitchen to fix two cups of decaf coffee while Chocolate Chip loaded a plate with chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar, and set it on the table.

"What's up with Fluff?" Chocolate Chip wondered. "He's been staring out the window like we aren't here." She went to pet the furry monster, but Fluff didn't acknowledge the attention except to swivel his ears in her direction for a second.

"He must like watching the snow fall," Sugarberry surmised, seeing that she'd left the back porch light on. The snow was coming down fast and steady and the entire backyard was covered in at least five inches of snow. "If this keeps us, we'll be buried in snow by morning!"

"At least the wind isn't blowing it in drifts," commented Chocolate Chip as she gazed out the window.

Flicking the light switch off, Sugarberry coaxed Fluff off the windowsill to eat a few cookie crumbs while she and Chocolate Chip discussed the happenings of Dream Valley.

"Baby Springtime and Baby Melonball are growing like weeds," Sugarberry remarked. "They'll be full-fledged royalty before their parents are ready for it, I'm afraid."

Chocolate Chip saw it differently. "Those two are a handful! Springtime and Melonball will be more than ready to turn them over to the princesses when the twins turn eighteen!"

Wanting to disagree, yet sensitive to the feelings of the chocolate brown filly whom she had come to love as a daughter, Sugarberry changed the topic, for Chocolate Chip had been cruelly evicted by her parents at age eighteen which is why she had ended up-- alone and homeless-- in Dream Valley.

"Sugarberry?" Chocolate Chip seemed to sense what thoughts were running through Sugarberry's mind during this gap in their conversation. "What would you think of my visiting my parents over semester break in a couple weeks?"

Setting her coffee cup on the table, Sugarberry smiled. "I think that's a very good idea."

"It's not really my idea... Wishbone called the other day and suggested it." Wishbone was Chocolate Chip's brother.

"You haven't been home in over a year; you'll find lots of changes, and maybe resolve some of your doubts."

"Wishbone thinks Mom and Dad will accept me now, but I'm not so sure. They've never even written or called."

Sugarberry patted her hoof comfortingly. "What have you got to lose?" She added softly, "And imagine what you might gain!"

Chocolate Chip sighed deeply. "I guess it's gotta happen sooner or later." She smiled, but her eyes were uncertain.

The two ponies sat quietly for some time, each playing out in their own minds a different scenario of Chocolate Chip's joyful reunion with her family (Sugarberry's version), or a heartbreaking rejection (Chocolate Chip's rendition).

Standing up and packing her empty mug to the sink, Sugarberry noticed that Fluff was again perched on the windowsill, his nose pressed against the glass pane as if waiting for something.

"Has he ever been this interested in the weather before?" Chocolate Chip asked.

Sugarberry frowned. "No. He usually sleeps even more through snowfalls."

Laughing, Chocolate Chip teased, "He sleeps all the time as it is. How can he sleep more?" She patted him on the head. Again, his only response was to turn his ears to the sound of her voice for a brief second, then put full concentration on the black void beyond the window.

"Let's put the light back on," Sugarberry suggested. "Maybe we can spot the something that is so fascinating."

The snow had built up even higher; and now the wind was picking up, packing ridges like white sand dunes across the backyard and whipping some spots clear of snow.

"Look!" Chocolate Chip called. "The trap must be buried under that drift!" All that remained in sight was one metal corner sticking through the myriad collection of flakes.

"I wonder..." Sugarberry grew thoughtful. "Could Fluff know that an animal has gotten caught in that thing?"

Chocolate Chip's eyes grew round and worried. "Oh, that might be it! We can't leave whatever it is out there in this storm!" Her eyes pleaded with Sugarberry.

"But what if it's some mean, vicious thing?" Sugarberry shuddered. "It did eat two of my birds, you know." But she was already unlocking the door. "Grab the broom," she ordered Chocolate Chip as she herself fished a flashlight from the utility closet. With bristly weapon and light in hooves, the two ventured out into the blustery night.

The snowflakes blew against their bodies like ice shards, and with heads bent, they cautiously approached the trap. Already, the contraption had completely disappeared, the snow was falling so fast.

"Clear the snow away!" Sugarberry yelled over the howling wind to her accomplice. Chocolate Chip set to work with the broom, brushing the drift away. When the top and one side was exposed, Sugarberry flashed the light beam at the interior of the cage to see what monster they had ensnared.

Two frightened eyes reflected the light from the flashlight, and those two eyes were those of...

"It's a kitten!" Chocolate Chip squealed.

"What's the poor little thing doing out in this weather?" asked Sugarberry.

Hoisting the trap cage between them, the ponies maneuvered themselves and their load back through the snow to the house where they fought the wind for the door, and finally succeeded in escaping the tempest outside for the warmth and quiet inside. Chocolate Chip figured out how to release the hatch on the trap while Sugarberry got a warm towel to wrap the kitten in.

The black tiger shorthair was pressed into a corner of the cage, fearfully watching these creatures who could be friend or foe. But when Sugarberry reached into the trap toward the kitten, it sensed goodness, and allowed himself to be picked up and wrapped in the comfort of the towel.

Gently massaging the kitten's wet and shivering body, Sugarberry soon had him dry and snug, and the kitten thought he had found heaven on earth. He lay wrapped up like a baby with only his face showing, his eyes half open, a ragged purr vibrating his body, and just an occasional tremor to remind him of the cold ordeal he had just been through.

"I wonder if he's hungry," Chocolate Chip worried. "What should we feed him?"

"Here. You hold him while I open a can of Fluff's food."

The kitten ate several bites of food, but seemed more interested in sleep, so Sugarberry took him to the rocking chair while Chocolate Chip cleaned up the kitchen.

"The snow is still piling up, Sugarberry. We'll have lots of shoveling to do tomorrow!" the filly reported when she had finished her chores. "Too bad it will be Saturday-- otherwise classes might have been canceled." Her eyes sparkled like those of a foal anticipating an unexpected day of vacation.

"I suppose Current, Chip, and Prime will see their way clear to show up at your front door in time for their usual free breakfast," Sugarberry teased. The three stallions, all classmates of Chocolate Chip at Pony Pride University, had been making a habit of escaping dorm life on Saturday morning by hanging out in Sugarberry's kitchen where they practiced their culinary skills in the company of Chocolate Chip. "We can put them to work shoveling us out."

"Prime's supposed to whip up the perfect omelet tomorrow," giggled Chocolate Chip. "And Current is going to make blueberry muffins."

"Let's hope they know what they're doing!"

When Chocolate Chip had retired to her room for the night, Sugarberry continued to rock the cozily sleeping kitten softly purring in her forelegs. She smiled when at one point he half-opened his tired eyes, and stretched a front leg out of his wrappings and touched his paw delicately to Sugarberry's cheek, then fell back asleep.

Seeing the clock pointing out midnight, Sugarberry roused the kitten long enough to show him where Fluff's litter box was-- and he knowingly made use of it-- before packing him off to her bedroom where she tucked him into a soft blanket at the foot of her bed.

Sugarberry had snuggled herself under the covers and was just dropping off to the steady whine of the wind outside her window when a light weight crossed over her body and a furry object crawled under the covers and circled itself into a ball under her chin. Half-consciously, Sugarberry smiled and wrapped the kitten in her forelegs, pulling him tight against her body, and the kitten serenaded her with his gentle purr as they both fell fast asleep.

Opening her eyes the next morning, Sugarberry found herself peering into the yellow eyes of the tiger-striped kitten as he sat on her pillow watching her.

"Well, good morning, little fellow!" She reached out to pet the little guy, and his purring erupted into the quiet surroundings.

Sugarberry sat up-- knocking Fluff off the foot of the bed in so doing-- and stretched. "So you two have met," she petted both of the felines. "Fluff, this little orphan will be our guest for a few days until we find his home. I expect you to be a gracious host."

The newcomer took the opportunity to pounce on Fluff's tail, which sent the orange and white supercat rushing from the room and stampeding down the stairs.

"He'll get used to you," Sugarberry comforted the surprised kitten.

Walking across to a bedroom window, Sugarberry was enthralled by the pristine wonder of the aftermath of the storm. Snow was piled in deep drifts, changing the character of the landscape in beautiful ways. And the sunshine that followed the darkness of the night opened up a treasure chest of jeweled brilliance across the land that would put to shame any of Sparkler's diamond jewelry.

"Sugarberry! Isn't it fabulous?" Chocolate Chip flitted into the room, eyes aglow. "It's all so magical!"

The two ponies stood enjoying the uninterrupted expanse of winter majesty until movement caught their attention.

"They're coming!" laughed Chocolate Chip as a slow-moving line of three colorful stallions came into view. Each one had a snow shovel, and where the path was impassable, they cleared their way through. Their enthusiasm was contagious.

"I've got to wash up," Chocolate Chip called as she headed for the bathroom.

Sugarberry made her bed and straightened up her room until the facilities were free. The kitten accompanied her throughout her morning routine. By the time she entered the kitchen, Chip, Prime, and Current were just coming in the back door in a flurry of snow which they shook off their bodies.

Chocolate Chip got towels for each of them to dry off and Sugarberry offered to serve them breakfast this morning since they had been working so hard with their snow shovels. Chocolate Chip made hot chocolate for them to sip as they sat around the table, warming up.

"Hey, you've got a new cat!" exclaimed Chip as the black tiger sauntered across the kitchen as if he was already a permanent fixture.

"Bet Fluff doesn't appreciate that!" commiserated Prime as Fluff slunk into the kitchen, keeping a safe distance between himself and the tail-jumper.

Chocalate Chip explained the problem Sugarberry had with something eating her birds, and their capture of the kitten.

"How old do you think he is?" asked Current as the kitten brushed against his legs, begging for attention. Fluff glowered from the sidelines.

"I'd guess six to seven months," stated Sugarberry from her post at the stove where she was scrambling some eggs. The smell of muffins in the oven was tantalizing everyone's tastebuds. "Tabby will have a better idea."

As if on cue, a rap came at the door, followed by the entrance of Tabby. "It really snowed last night, didn't it?" she stated the obvious.

"Hi, Tabby," Sugarberry greeted her friend. "How'd you fight your way through those drifts?"

"It's rather mysterious, actually," Tabby explained, "but the wind cleared a path from my back door to yours."

"Fortunately for you, or you'd have had to make your own breakfast," teased Chocolate Chip.

Tabby leaned on the counter next to Sugarberry, watching Chocolate Chip and her friends as they talked and laughed. "I don't know why you put up with those free-loaders," she hissed at Sugarberry.

Sugarberry rolled her eyes. "Who gets more free meals at my table other than you, Tabby?" she smiled at the pink unicorn. "Chocolate Chip enjoys their company just like I enjoy yours."

"Say! What's this?" asked Tabby as the kitten came to bat at some melted snow around Tabby's hooves.

"You are a vet, and don't know what a kitten is?" hooted Prime and his buddies.

Tabby's look of disdain quieted the stallions, or at least reduced them to discreet snickers. She reached down and scooped up the kitten, who nestled in her forelegs and purred in a mild roar. "He's a silver mackerel tabby cat," she informed Sugarberry.

"And he likes you, Tabby!" Sugarberry cooed.

"Don't tell me this is the evil monster that you set the trap for," Tabby queried as she caught sight of the live-trap next to the kitchen door.

"Well, he was living off my birds; but I guess he was lost and alone, and had no choice," Sugarberry calculated as she served up the eggs and muffins. Chocolate Chip poured glasses of orange juice for every pony.

"Whatcha going to do with him?" asked Current as he buttered a hot muffin.

"I was thinking that I'd place an ad in the paper to see if anyone's missing him," Sugarberry said thoughtfully. "Someone might be heartbroken not knowing what's become of him."

"And what if no one claims him?" asked Tabby. "What then?"

Sugarberry looked down at the kitten sitting at her hooves, watching her expectantly. She smiled at the critter and patted his head. "I'll have to see what happens," she side-stepped the problem.

The ringing of the phone sent Chocolate Chip scurrying to answer it. "Hello?... Sorry, you're too late. Breakfast has already been served," giggled Chocolate Chip. To Sugarberry she called, "It's for you... Vanguard."

"Ask him to cut our homework assignments," grinned Prime as Sugarberry went to the phone.

"Morning!... Yes, it was a kitten... he's the sweetest little thing... sure, come on over!"

When finished, Sugarberry found the stallions clearing the table and running dish water while Tabby and Chocolate Chip sat back giving them instructions, so she used the time to clean the litter box and replenish the food dish. Fluff purred his thanks as he rubbed against her legs, but fled when the kitten edged up to the dish ahead of him.

By this time, the stallions were ready to begin washing and drying the dishes. Sugarberry gave them the option of shoveling out her front walkway, and they all three chose the outdoor work. Chocolate Chip joined them while Sugarberry and Tabby tackled the dishes.

The kitten had eaten his fill, and was now sitting in the middle of the kitchen cleaning his fur which gave Fluff the opportunity to visit the food bowl.

"You should keep him," Tabby stated suddenly.

"The kitten?"

"Yes, the kitten," Tabby continued. "He'd be good company for Fluff when you are away."

"Fluff seems to be annoyed with him."

"He'd get over that."

"Maybe, but I can't decide until I know if someone's going to claim him or not."

* * *
The ad had appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Ponyland Gazette, and Sugarberry waited anxiously for a phone call. She had put both the clinic's number and her home phone number in the ad so as not to miss anyone's inquiries. She was torn in two directions-- hoping the owner would call and be reunited with the lost kitten, and hoping no one would call so that she could keep the kitten.

In the evening while she keyed on her computer, Raptor-- for that is what she had named him on a temporary basis-- would curl up on her lap and sleep. At night, he slept snuggled up next to her on the pillow; and every morning she woke up to his licking her cheek a few seconds before her alarm clock went off.

Even Fluff had mellowed out so that the two would curl up in a comfortable hodgepodge on the living room sofa while Sugarberry was away. Raptor made himself at home, and he appeared to be quite content with his new circumstances.

It was Friday afternoon when the call came that Sugarberry had been dreading, and her heart dropped when the caller identified the kitten as his own.

"I didn't call sooner as I was out of town," the pony explained. "He'd gotten out of the house before I left, and I didn't have time to look for him."

"It was bad weather for a kitten to be abandoned," Sugarberry responded in a cool voice.

"Hey! I had no choice. Now, where do you live, and when can I pick him up?"

After giving the pony her address, and arranging to meet at six o'clock, Sugarberry hung up the phone and sat, dazed, at her desk where Thomas found her between appointments. One look at her face, and he knew what the problem was.

"Someone called about Raptor?"


"Who does he belong to?" Thomas went to the coffeemaker, and poured Sugarberry a cup.

"Some stallion from across town. Gauntlet, I think he said his name was," Sugarberry's monotone voice answered.

"Here, drink this," Thomas said as he set the coffee in front of Sugarberry. "Doctor's orders."

Sugarberry absentmindedly took a sip. "I knew this day would come, but yet I prayed that somehow I could keep the little guy." She looked at Thomas with watery eyes.

Handing her a kleenex, Thomas made a suggestion. "Would it be easier if Tabby and I were with you when Gauntlet arrives to pick-up Raptor?"

Wiping her nose, Sugarberry nodded her head. "Would you? I think I'm going to need someone's shoulder to cry on, and Vanguard has a departmental meeting tonight."

It was with heavy hearts that Tabby, Thomas, and Sugarberry waited for six o'clock to roll around; they sat in Sugarberry's living room with Raptor curled up on Sugarberry's lap and Fluff at her hooves.

Both cats perked up their ears and swiveled their heads to stare at the front door a half minute before a knock sounded. All three ponies stood up, and Sugarberry walked to the door packing Raptor.

Opening the door revealed a bright blue stallion with purple mane and tail. "I'm Gauntlet, and I'm here to pick up my cat." Dropping his gaze to the kitten in Sugarberry's forelegs, he reached out to take the feline. "There you are, you little villain! I'll keep my eyes on you after this!" Grasping the kitten roughly, he dropped him into a carrier at his side. "Sorry to have bothered you," Gauntlet said as he turned and walked away. A faint meow carried across the porch, and a furry paw reached pleadingly toward Sugarberry.

She stood speechless, her sorrow at losing Raptor overwhelmed by her anger at the stallion's brusqueness.

"Friendly sort, wasn't he?" Thomas asked in irony.

"I'd like to see Tarquin have at him for about ten minutes," admitted Tabby. Tarquin was her Pokčmon Meowth.

"He was a complete oaf!" sputtered Sugarberry as she finally found her voice. "Do you have any idea who he is?"

"Never saw him before." Both Tabby and Thomas were as much in the dark as Sugarberry, who was now pacing the floor in an impatient manner.

"He doesn't even like cats!" she fumed. "You could tell that the way he handled Raptor." She stopped in her tracks, and in horror, exclaimed, "He could be cruel to him!"

"Now, Sug," Tabby tried to sooth her friend, "just because he had no manners doesn't mean that he would harm the kitten."

Thomas agreed. "Not all pet owners are sentimental over their pets, but they still take good care of them."

Sugarberry stood in the center of the room in total dejection. "He didn't even give me a chance to say goodbye to Raptor," she moaned. And Fluff let out a wailing meow that let her know that he was commiserating in her sorrow.

"I tell you what we can do, Sugarberry," Thomas suddenly speculated. "I'll write a note to Gauntlet tomorrow to recomend that Raptor have a complete physical due to his experience in the elements; I'll even offer him a discount to make sure he doesn't have a reason to ignore it."

"But you just examined Raptor on Monday," Sugarberry reasoned.

"He doesn't have to know that, Sug," Tabby said flippantly.

"Well, I guess it's worth a try," the worried pony admitted, trying to look cheerful. "Thanks for caring, Thomas."

Tabby decided it was time to lighten the mood. "Let's head over to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe and drown our sorrows in ice cream!"

"Good idea," agreed Thomas. "Come on, Sugarberry. It will help get your mind off Raptor."

Later at Scoop's shop, Tabby and Thomas got into a heated discussion with Clever Clover concerning Furbys while Sugarberry broke the news to Chocolate Chip that Raptor had been returned to his owner.

"Oh, Sugarberry, I'm sorry!" Chocolate Chip knew how attached Sugarberry had become to the kitten. "Was some little foal all excited to get him back?"

"Hardly," scowled Sugarberry as she related the meeting to Chocolate Chip. "Have you ever run into this Gauntlet character?"

Chocolate Chip thought hard. "You said he's blue with purple hair; that sound familiar, but I can't place him... maybe he shops at Bushwoolie Bargain Books."

"Are you two discussing a stallion?" interrupted Tiffany as she passed by. "Is he cute?"

When Vanguard came into the shop, he crossed the room to Sugarberry immediately. "Have you ordered yet?" he asked; then noticing the anguish in her eyes, he sat down quickly. "What's wrong?"

Chocolate Chip put her foreleg around Sugarberry and enlightened Vanguard-- she gave the condensed version. "Some senseless clod came to the house tonight and took Raptor!"

"Did this ‘senseless clod' respond to your ad?"

"Yes. He called this morning, and picked Raptor up at six," Sugarberry supplied. "And he had the personality of a boar."

"Who was this barbarian?" Vanguard asked in curiosity. Whoever he was, he obviously hadn't made a good impression on the girls.

"Some jerk named Gauntlet!" Sugarberry spat the name like it was poison.

"Gauntlet?" Vanguard sat forward in surprise. "I know him!"

Sugarberry grimaced. "How did you ever meet such a ... a... " She had, unfortunately, run out of derogatory names.

"He's the art teacher at Pony Pride."

Chocolate Chip exclaimed in recognition. "That's why he sounded familiar-- but the art pony's name is Letty."

"That's what he goes by at school," Vanguard informed them. "He's really an okay stallion once you get to know him. He's just returned from an art exhibit."

"The ponies that have him for art class say he's a lot of fun-- and he grades easy, too!" Chocolate Chip collaborated.

"That seems hard to believe." Sugarberry wasn't convinced.

* * *
It was Tuesday morning before a call came in to the clinic from Gauntlet acknowledging that the kitten could probably use a check-up, but he couldn't fit it into his schedule until late Friday. Sugarberry suppressed her disappointment in the delay, and scheduled the appointment for the end of the day.

When Friday finally arrived, Sugarberry could barely contain her excitement in seeing Raptor again, although she cautioned herself not to expect too much-- she'd only be able to snuggle the kitten for a brief time. Thomas promised to drag the examination out as long as possible, and surprised Sugarberry by informing Gauntlet to have a seat in the waiting area while he and Sugarberry conducted the exam. Taking the carrier from Gauntlet, Thomas winked at Sugarberry as they entered the examination room.

"I bought you some private time with the little fellow," he grinned.

Opening the carrier, Sugarberry smiled happily. "Thanks, Thomas." Then, as Raptor came rushing out of the cage, she scooped him up in her forelegs, and the energetic kitten went wild with joy.

Setting the carrier on the floor, Thomas reached across the examining table to pet the kitten, and frowned. Sugarberry was so caught up in the reunion that she didn't notice Thomas' troubled expression.

"Let's check the kitten out now," Thomas suggested.

Sugarberry looked dumfounded. "You did examine him last week," she reminded him. "Does he really need it again?"

"Couldn't hurt," Thomas quipped as he gently removed Raptor from Sugarberry's forelegs and proceeded to flash a light in his eyes. He next prodded and felt along Raptor's body, then checked the kitten's temperature.

Helping to hold Raptor still, Sugarberry finally became aware that Thomas' attitude was too serious. Her stomach dropped. "Something's wrong, isn't it?"

Thomas hesitated in answering; but as he removed the thermometer, he admitted, "His temperature is quite elevated."

"What's the matter?" she whispered

Taking a deep breath, Thomas confessed, "It could be any number of things. We'll have to run some tests-- blood work and x-rays."

"You think it's serious?"

"Sugarberry, I won't know for certain until we get some solid test results." He patted her hoof reassuringly. "I'll go out and inform Gauntlet that Raptor will have to stay under our supervision for a day or two. Try not to worry," he smiled at his receptionist, but knew that she was already crying inside.

When Thomas re-entered the room after sending Gauntlet home, Raptor begged to get down. Sugarberry set him on the floor and he scampered to Thomas and wove himself around his hooves. The kitten was delighted to be with his old friends, but Sugarberry and Thomas looked on with anxious concern. For although Raptor was obviously energetic, both ponies noticed a peculiar gait in his walk. The kitten seemed to lose his footing every step or two as if his back legs were not responding properly.

Sugarberry lifted her gaze to meet Thomas' eyes. Thomas shook his head. "Let's get that blood test stat," was all he said.

Raptor behaved himself through the pricking and drawing of blood, but considered the x-rays to be an outright insult to his dignity. It was an exhausted kitten that Sugarberry finally installed in his hospital cage; he ignored the food and water, and collapsed on the soft pillow Sugarberry had lovingly provided. "Sleep well," she said softly as she left the fatigued kitten to his slumber.

She found Thomas in his office, his mood pensive. He tried to sound upbeat as he talked with Sugarberry, but she could read the worry in his eyes.

"The blood test results will take a while," he stated. "As for the x-rays..." Thomas got up and flicked on the blacklight to accent the pictures. Sugarberry peered at them, not sure what she was seeing.

Pointing to the x-ray, Thomas began explaining. "There's something in his stomach, something rather large."

Sugarberry could make out a mass of something. "What is it?" she asked.

"It appears to be some kind of mineral, and also an area of bone." He moved his hoof to follow the picture of the spine. "See how part of it mimics the composition of his backbone?"

"So you're saying he swallowed a mouse?"

"I wish it were that simple," Thomas sighed. "No, this is definitely not a mouse."

"A growth, then?"

"No. It's something he ingested in the last couple of days." Thomas studied the x-ray for several minutes and took a deep breath. "Whatever it is, the symptoms point to poisoning."

"What do you mean?" she quietly asked.

"If Raptor ate something poisonous to his system, it's sitting in his stomach and being spread through his body. His weakness in the back legs and the fever are just the beginnings of the problems he could develop."

"He could get worse?"

"I'm afraid so, if we don't get the poison out of him soon."

Sugarberry felt a wave of weakness wash over her body. She sat down on an office chair in despair. "What can we do?"

"Unfortunately, there are no antidotes for cat poisonings, even if we knew what he got into. Gauntlet's an artist, so it could have been any number of toxic substances."

Thomas paused for a minute as Sugarberry tried to come to terms with what she was hearing.

"I'm going to give him barium, which will coat the substance in his stomach," he continued.

"How will that help?"

"It will serve one of two purposes-- either diagnostic to help to determine what we're dealing with, or therapeutic to get the mass moving out of the stomach and out of Raptor's body."

Both ponies jumped as a brisk knock sounded on Thomas' office door, followed by the appearance of Tabby's inquisitive face. "It's after hours, you guys! Party, wah!" she said as she looked from one to the other, but seeing their worry, she queried, "What's up?"

Tears began to stream silently from Sugarberry's eyes as Thomas went into a technical explanation of Raptor's problem. The two unicorns stood before the x-rays and conferred over their shared expertise. It was only after they had discussed all aspects of the case that Tabby pulled up a chair next to Sugarberry, and attempted to console her friend.

"We're going to do everything we can, Sug! Raptor's a spunky little guy."

Too distraught to respond, Sugarberry simply nodded her head, her eyes red and her cheeks wet.

Thomas had left the room to begin treatment on Raptor. Tabby patted Sugarberry's foreleg. "You wait here; I'll go help Thomas."

Sugarberry quickly wiped away her tears. "Can I come, too?"

"Of course!" Tabby smiled, and the two ponies crossed the hall to the confinement area.

Thomas looked up from the kitten as the mares entered. "We're going to start an antibiotic right away, Sugarberry, and later we will do another x-ray to find out what the barium tells us."

Sugarberry choked back a sob as she caught sight of Raptor. It seemed as if his condition had deteriorated rapidly since he'd arrived at the clinic. He lay on the exam table with imploring eyes, but defeated body.

"Oh, Raptor!" she wailed. "You've got to be okay!"

As Tabby and Thomas worked over Raptor, Sugarberry paced the floor until she caught the sound of the front door of the clinic opening. It was well past closing time, so she hurried out to see who was there, and why. It was with relief that she found Vanguard and Chocolate Chip.

"We were worried when you weren't at home or at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shop," they explained.

Staying as composed as possible, she explained the current crisis to her friends, and they all three went back to check on Raptor's condition.

Thomas had just returned the tired kitten to his cage where he lay with eyes half-closed. In response to Sugarberry's gentle talking, Raptor reached out a paw, but seemed to find the effort too great, and he withdrew it again with a feeble, almost silent, meow. Tabby dimmed the lights, and everyone followed Thomas to the main lobby.

"All we can do now is wait," he informed the ring of attentive listeners. "We've done every thing we can; and Raptor needs his rest."

"By the looks of it, so do the lot of you. Can I bring you all something to eat?" Vanguard offered, his eyes fixed on Sugarberry's troubled face.

"I think we could all go for some food," Thomas agreed. "And plenty of soda."

"I'll go with you, Vanguard," Chocolate Chip offered. "You want to come with us, Sugarberry?"

She hesitated, but Thomas spoke-up. "Go on, Sugarberry. Raptor is asleep, and Tabby and I will keep an eye on him. You'll be back before we can go any further."

* * *
It was the middle of the night before Thomas and Tabby took another x-ray of Raptor, and the two unicorns were smiling when they examined the results.

"The barium is causing the mass to move out of the stomach," Thomas observed.

"See, Sugarberry?" Tabby added. "It's moving through the intestines."

Sugarberry's expression was hopeful for the first time since this ordeal had begun, and she grabbed onto Vanguard's hoof. "He's going to be okay?"

Tabby and Thomas exchanged a quick glance, and Tabby modified their enthusiasm. "It's an encouraging sign; whatever is inside of him needs to be gotten out of there."

Thomas turned with advice for them all. "Raptor's sleeping again, so you might as well go home and get some sleep, too." Looking at the clock, he grinned. "It's almost morning."

"Sleep would be good," yawned Sugarberry, just now realizing how very tired she was. "Are you coming, Tabby?"

After checking on Raptor's comfort, Sugarberry woke Chocolate Chip who had fallen asleep in the waiting room, and soon all the ponies were on their way home.

* * *
Sugarberry had been so tired when she got home that she'd collapsed on the couch and fallen asleep instantly. She didn't awaken until she heard Chocolate Chip dome down the stairs and accidentally step on Fluff's tail which caused a terrible yowl to echo through the house.

Sitting up on the couch, she stretched and rubbed her forehead. "My eyes hurt and my head aches," she complained as Chocolate Chip attempted to pacify Fluff.

"Gee, and it's nearly nine o'clock," Chocolate Chip informed her. "Here come Prime, Chip, and Current up the walk."

"Oh, great," groaned Sugarberry as she dashed up the stairs to get washed up and comb her hair. By the time she got to the kitchen, breakfast was beginning to take shape. "Something smells good!"

"It's a breakfast pizza, Sugarberry," Chocolate Chip informed her. "The guys brought all the ingredients."

Current was adding toppings with a generous hoof. "You'll love this concoction, Sugarberry. My mom used to make it for me all the time!"

A knock at the front door produced Vanguard, and one at the back door presented Tabby and Thomas. Thomas was holding a cat carrier, and Raptor's eager face peered through the bars.

"Raptor!" Sugarberry squealed. She immediately released him from the cage, and hugged him tightly. Looking questioningly at Thomas, she asked, "Is he okay?"

"The poison cleared his system, although he may be weak for a couple days yet," Thomas smiled. "I figured he'd be happier with you than stuck at the clinic."

"But what about Gauntlet?"

Tabby took up the conversation. "Thomas called him this morning to report on Raptor's progress, and to caution him about leaving his art supplies lying around where the kitten could get into them; and he said he didn't want the pesky animal back anyway!"

"He told me to do whatever I wanted to with him," Thomas' eyes sparkled. "Got any ideas, Sugarberry?"

Burying her face in the kitten's fur, Sugarberry closed her eyes and sighed blissfully. "Did you hear that Raptor? You can stay here!"

Raptor turned to face Sugarberry and seemed to smile in affirmation. Then he lifted his paw, and gently touched it to Sugarberry's nose.

Everyone laughed, and Chip commented, "I think he approves!"

Sugarberry grew serious for a moment. "Raptor and I want to thank Thomas and Tabby for saving Raptor's life."

Applause for the two veterinarians filled the kitchen, and Thomas hugged Tabby to him. "We make a great team!" he whispered in her ear.

As the college crew continued with breakfast preparations, Vanguard led Sugarberry to the kitchen window. "Look," he pointed toward the gazebo feeder. "A new pair of chickadees moved into the neighborhood."

Sugarberry's eyes lighted up in delight. "How wonderful!" she breathed. "Raptor's safe now and the birds will be, too. Isn't life grand?"

"Not half bad," he agreed as he pulled her to him and kissed her lovingly. Neither of them were conscious of the snickers and winks passed between the three young stallions. For that moment in time, Sugarberry and Vanguard were lost in each other, and nothing else mattered. Isn't life grand indeed!


Clever Clover vs. the Flatlands
by Clever Clover
Chapter Two: The Flatlands Strike Back

The ground before Clever Clover swelled. "Yosh! I guess Bic was trying to lure me here after all, either that or my Digglet has a lot of friends." The swell reached twice Clever Clover's height and was three times as wide across the base. A crack formed on the swell, like a vicious grin. The grin opened into a gaping maw and loomed over the pony.

"I should probably be moving now," said Clever Clover as he started to back away from the earthen form, but not quickly enough. The pony's world went dark as the hole enveloped him.

"I should have brought a flashlight," mumbled Clever Clover as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. In about five minutes, he could see well enough to know that he was in some sort of tunnel. "There must be an opening somewhere," the pony said to himself. "What little light there is has to be coming from somewhere. Since I can't see very well in the dark, I need someone who can." With that he got out a PokčBall. "Okay, little buddy, let's see what you can do. Come out, Digglet!"

"Digglet!" replied the mole Pokčmon as it materialized in a flash of light.

"Go see if you can find a way out of here, Digglet."

"Digglet-dig!" The Pokčmon disappeared into the darkness. While he waited for his Pokčmon to return, Clever Clover sang a nonsensical song he made up as he sang:

I went to the Flatlands, got stuck in a hole.
Couldn't find my way so I followed a mole.
I walked and wandered and stepped in some coal.
And my dirty hooves were washed in a bowl,
I got from a doe out walking her foal.

"Digglet!" the Pokčmon interrupted when it returned.

"Did you find a way out?" Clever Clover asked eagerly.

"Dig-dig," Digglet replied, shaking its head.

"Do you think you could dig out?"

"Digglet!" Digglet replied enthusiastically and began to tunnel into the wall, but the passage it produced collapsed promptly. "Dig-digglet," the Pokčmon said apologetically on digging free of the cave-in.

"That's alright, little buddy; you did your best. Since I'm sure Bic doesn't want me to just stand around here, I guess we should see where this tunnel goes. Why don't you lead the way Digglet, since I can barely see my hoof in front of my face?"


Clever Clover followed his Digglet, more by sound than by sight, for what seemed like hours. Digglet wanted to go north, or so it appeared to Clever Clover; though for all he knew he had gotten completely turned around when he was swallowed up in the hole. But every time they turned north, the tunnel promptly turned right, to the east.

"Something doesn't feel right here," said Clever Clover. "Maybe we should try backtracking."


The tunnel, instead of turning gradually south, doubled back sharply. "This ain't right," said Clever Clover."

"Dig-dig, digglet-dig!"

Clever Clover took out a coin and dropped it on the tunnel floor. "Okay, let's go back again."

They turned around and, shortly after the tunnel doubled back, Digglet stopped. "Digglet! Dig!" The Pokčmon held Clever Clover's coin on top of its head.

"I was afraid of that," muttered Clever Clover as he retrieved the coin. "I guess Bic wants me to go this way."

* * *
They followed the tunnel for hours with no noticeable change in direction. "Hold up, Digger," said Clever Clover. "My hooves are killing me. I need to rest for a while."

"Dig? Dig?" said the Digglet questioningly.

"What, don't you like Digger? I think it's a good name."

"Digglet! Dig-dig."

"Well than, Digger it is."

* * *
After a short rest, Clever Clover and Digger set out again. The tunnel went on for hours with no change. Just when Clever Clover was about to suggest they take another rest, the tunnel dead-ended.

"Well, now what?" muttered Clever Clover.

"Dig?" said Digger.

"We could, but it would probably just cave in again."

"Dig! Dig-dig."

Alright, we'll back-track a way, then you can…" Clever Clover turned around to find the tunnel had closed behind them. "I am now annoyed."

"Dig-digglet-dig-dig." said Digger.

"Well, Digger, dig in," said Clever Clover, pointing to the end of the tunnel.

"Dig…" Digger started to say, but froze when the walls of the tunnel started to close in.

"Ah, Digger, maybe you should do something," suggested Clever Clover.

"Diiiiiiig!" said Digger, as the ground began to tremble slightly.

"Um, are you doing that, Digger?"

"Diiiiiiigget!" was all Digger said as the trembling increased. Soon the ground shook so fiercely that Clever Clover could barely stand. The walls and ceiling of the tunnel began to crumble. Clods of dirt as big as Clever Clover's head were falling about the pony and Pokčmon.

"Watch it, Digger!"

"Dig?" said Digger, as if awaking from a trance.

"Look out!" cried Clever Clover as a large piece of ceiling above Digger began to break loose. The Digglet pulled his head underground quickly, avoiding the avalanche. "Digger! Are you okay?" Clever Clover cried as the dust cleared.

"Digglet!" replied Digger from atop a pile of dirt. Above him the hole in the ceiling glowed with sunlight.

"Alright! We made it out!" yelled Clever Clover as he scrambled up the slope. He grabbed a PokčBall and rope from his pack. "Farfetch'd! Carry this rope up to the surface and tie it off to something."

"Fetch-far-far!" replied the wild duck Pokčmon.

Clever Clover recovered Digger to his PokčBall and climbed out of the hole. He found himself standing atop a low hill overlooking a large lake. In the middle of the lake was a large, steep, hilly island covered in lush foliage that reflected in the lake, giving it an emerald hue.


When the Stars Remember
Shining Series #13
by Shining (

Author's Note: Thank you to all who gave such positive support! Wonder (author of the Dancer Series) and I have been planning a collaboration for what seems like forever, and finally, it's all coming together. Watch for the Dancer Series' characters to pop up here. For background information on the Dancer Series, you can e-mail Wonder ( or me. Also, I experimented with different writing forms for this one. I tried to use other characters' points of view of the main character (Mira). I hope it came out okay. Many thanks goes to Wonder, who gave me tons of advice for this beast! You deserve a thousand vinyl raincoats. Feedback is welcome! I crave it... stay sweet!

Expect A Miracle yawned and stretched sleepily as sunlight poured through the windows of her roomy box stall. It was nice being back in Dream Valley, the gray filly decided with a nod of her finely-featured head.

Laying her head back in the thick bedding, Mira recounted the past events that had brought her back to her grandparents farm, Glorified Acres. Life had been crazy.

When Mira had been a baby, she had lived at Glorified Acres. But her mother, On My Honor, a world-famous performer, had moved to a farm in England called Mended Hearts Farm after grieving for her mate, Caesar, who had died in an automobile accident. Mira had grown up in the United Kingdom, and she had the pert British accent to prove it.

Mira yawned again and rolled over, shutting her dark brown eyes. Honor had been a successful trainer, but one student had ruined it. Mira shuddered and squeezed her eyes tightly shut so that even silhouettes couldn't be detected.

Windminstrel. The name made Mira curl into a tight ball. Windminstrel had been a very competitive student with a streak of evil.

When Mira had beaten him on a jump course, the angry black colt had sought revenge. Mended Hearts had gone up in flames. Windminstrel had never been found.

And so that brought Mira back to the present. Home would be Shining and Signature Required's Glorified Acres until Mended Hearts was restored.

Mira stretched her long legs and stood up. She rubbed her eyes with her small hooves and unlatched the stall door. Peering down the long aisleway, she didn't see any other horses.

The filly meandered down the barn's hallway, heading toward Glorified Acres' outdoor arena. Realizing she hadn't even looked in the mirror, Mira attempted to tame her sleep-tousled mane.

As she walked through the door, Mira blinked in the bright spring sunshine. In the Olympic-sized arena, she could see fit horses training for the upcoming show season. She waved to a handsome roan stallion.

Smooth Movin' was Honor's assistant trainer and best friend. He had done his best to fill the place Mira's father couldn't. Mira paused for a moment and walked down to the arena.

"Good morning, love," Smoothie called to her with his British accent.

"Morning, Smoothie," she replied with a bright smile. "Have you seen my mom?"

Smoothie shrugged. "I think she went over to visit Baby Gusty and Libby," he said, referring to two Little Ponies who were close friends. "Want to run through a jump course?"

Mira shook her silvery head. "No thanks," she declined. "I think I'm going to go for a long jog. I haven't run in a while." She wrinkled her nose.

The roan laughed. "Suit yourself. But I don't understand how you like racing better than showing."

Mira pondered Smoothie's statement. "Haven't you ever wanted to run faster than the wind, and stop and whirl around to feel it rush against your cheek?" she asked him.

Smoothie shook his head in amazement. "Never."

"I think about it all the time," Mira said softly.

Gently, Smoothie brought his hoof to Mira's chin, turning her head to peer into her dark eyes. "That's when you know it's your passion, love," he whispered. "Chase the wind, Mira."

Mira frowned. "You don't think I'm chasing windmills, do you?"

Smoothie chuckled. "Never windmills, always the wind."

The filly smiled and hugged Smoothie. "Thank you for understanding," she whispered into his thick mane.

"Anytime, love," Smoothie replied. "Now go run!" He shooed her off.

* * *
On My Honor smiled as Mira stepped into the barn office. She looks more and more like Caesar every day, she mused proudly.

"Have a good run?" Honor asked her daughter.

Mira nodded. "I wish we had a track though," she said wistfully. With a deep sigh, she settled down on a stool facing her mother.

Honor looked skyward for a moment. "You know..." she began. Mira's ears perked. "My aunt runs a racing farm not too far from here."

Mira jumped up, toppling the stool. "A racing farm?" she exclaimed.

Honor laughed at Mira's enthusiasm. "Yes. Granddam's younger sister. Actually, they're half sisters. My mom was born, and grew up, but then her mother died and her father remarried."

Mira squealed. "Do you think that she might let me use her track?"

"I could call her," Honor offered.

Mira let out a whoop and skipped out the door. "I have to go to the wash racks," she called. "Thank you Mom!"

Honor waved her off and picked up the phone. Searching through her address book, she found the number for Whitebrook Farm.

Honor counted three rings before someone picked up on the other line. "Whitebrook Farm," a cheerful voice answered.

"Hello, is Wonder there?" Honor asked politely.

"This is she," the voice answered.

"Wonder, this is Honor," the bay mare said into the phone.

"Oh hi, Honor," Wonder's voice held a hint of surprise. "Last time I heard, you had moved off to England."

Honor smiled ruefully before answering. "There was a barn fire, so we're back at Glorified Acres until my farm is restored." Honor heard Wonder make a sympathetic sigh on the other line. "Anyway, the reason for my call is to ask a favor of you for my daughter."

"Oh how is she?" Wonder inquired. "The last time I saw her, she was just a foal."

Smiling proudly, Honor answered, "She's all grown up now. She's taken a great interest in running, and Glorified Acres doesn't have a track. Would you mind if she used your track every once in a while?"

"Sure!" Wonder replied enthusiastically. "We're going to get in some new two-year-olds in a couple of weeks, so she'll fit right in."

"Thanks so much, Wonder," Honor said.

"Not a problem," Wonder replied cheerfully. "I can't wait to meet her."

* * *
The Andalusian stallion breathed in an intoxicating breath of spring. With winter gone, perhaps life would get easier for him. Orion looked down on Whitebrook Farm's vast acreage from his viewpoint on top of the hill. With a dark hoof, Orion picked up the palette and paintbrush by his side and faced the half-done canvas. It was good to be alone every once in a while. It let the demons escape. It let him ponder over life.

"Excuse me," a timid voice said behind him. "Where should I go to run on the track?"

Orion craned his neck around and nearly shouted out with surprise. Mira looked expectantly at him. Wordlessly, he pointed toward the barn.

"Thank you," Mira smiled. "That's a beautiful painting." With her long legs, she bounded down the hill to the track.

For several long minutes, Orion sat motionless. It had to be her. She had his eyes. She looked just like him. The stallion took a deep breath to calm his pounding heart. Slowly he stood and walked down the hill. He had to make sure.

Reaching the barn, Orion made his way to the track. Before he had even reached the fence, he saw her, jogging fluidly down the track.

Orion leaned heavily against the fence, letting the sun-warmed wood support him. Next to him, a chestnut glanced at him in surprise.

"Orion, I don't usually see you by the track anymore," the chestnut commented.

"I had to see something, Wonder," Orion answered distantly. Wonder shrugged. "Who is that gray filly?" he asked hoarsely.

Wonder smiled. "That's Expect A Miracle--"

"Mira for short," Orion muttered.

The mare glanced at Orion in surprise. "Yes, she goes by Mira. She's my niece's daughter. How did you know--"

But once again, Wonder was cut short. Mira had begun her gallop. Mira's strides melded together fluidly in a slow gallop. At the quarter pole, Mira burst into a full-fledged gallop, whisking past each marker with incredible speed. Automatically, Wonder reached for the stopwatch that hung around her neck.

Like a silver blur, Mira streaked across the harrowed dirt track. "Beautiful," Wonder whispered. But in seconds, it was over as Mira flashed past the gap.

Wordlessly, Wonder held the stopwatch for Orion to see. Orion took a steadying breath and swept his forelock out of his eyes anxiously. "Twenty-one flat," Wonder read. "She told me she hasn't had any training."

Gingerly, Orion stepped away from the rail. Looking down, he realized with a start that he still held a paintbrush in his head. Intently, he studied the soft bristles that still held traces of deep blue acrylic.

"You okay, Orion?" Wonder asked, concerned. Orion blinked. Silently, he nodded. The chestnut smiled. "Think of how fast she'd be with a little training!" she exclaimed excitedly.

Finally, Orion snapped. "She can't train here," he said shortly. "I never want to see her again." Abruptly, Orion turned and ran back up the hill to his lonesome solitude.

* * *
Mira jumped up and down excitedly in Glorified Acres' training arena, smiling brilliantly at her family. "It was so great to be able to run again!" she bubbled. "And Wonder invited me to try out for a racing clinic her daughter, Dancer, is running."

Shining, Mira's granddam and erstwhile performing world champion, laughed. "You sound just like your mother when she was your age. Honor was so excited about the prospect of showing."

Honor rolled her eyes. Standing next to her mother, Mira was struck by how alike they looked. Both were a rich mahogany bay with elegant but strong frames. "But Mira's going to run like the wind," she reminded Shining.

"And she will be wonderful," Smoothie added, hugging Mira from behind.

Mira's smile faded. She chewed her lower lip worriedly. "I certainly hope so," she said quietly.

* * *
The first day our tryouts dawned bright and sunny. Green two-year-olds nervously milled around Whitebrook's harrowed track. Wonder, Jazzman, Wonder's mate, and their daughter, Midnight Dancer, bustled around with clipboards looking harried.

But in the shade of an old oak tree, three young fillies ignored the chaos which was but a few yards away. The young horses were caught up in a drama of their own.

"Honestly, Sterling," the chestnut huffed. She appeared to be older than her two companions. "I don't see why you even talk to that sewer rat." She beckoned toward the gray filly and grinned smugly as the younger foal cringed.

Sterling Dream, a shiny bay filly hugged the cowering filly tightly. "Oh come off it, Dinah," she snapped. "Madison didn't do anything and you know it."

Dinah snorted in indignation while Madison began wailing, covering her dainty face with her tiny hooves. Dinah rolled her eyes skyward in impatience. Sterling glared.

"Pardon me," a light British accent broke through the tension.

Dinah whirled around. "What do you want?" Dinah eyed the long-legged gray filly standing before her.

Mira shrugged. "Does there seem to be a problem? Perhaps I could help--"

"Mind your own business!" Dinah exploded. "Oh fine. I'm leaving." Dinah turned to Madison. "I hope that you fall down the deepest well and that they never find you," she snarled nastily. With an exasperated breath, Dinah whirled around and stomped off and nearly toppled Mira.

Mira raised an eyebrow. "She seems sociable," Mira remarked sarcastically.

Through her tears, Madison laughed and hiccoughed. "What's your name?" she asked shyly. With one small hoof, she rubbed her eyes, still bright with tears.

Mira smiled. "I'm Mira. I'm trying out for training."

"I'm Madison," the small filly offered.

Mira turned toward Sterling expectantly. "Sterling," she said. "And the other filly is Dinah. Madison's sister."

"Are you going to be a racehorse?" Madison asked wide-eyed.

"I certainly hope so," Mira gave her a wobbly smile.

"Mira!" Wonder called from the oval. "It's your turn to breeze."

The silvery filly took a deep breath and shook her thick forelock out of her dark eyes. "Wish me luck!" she whispered to Madison and Sterling. Mira turned and headed for the track, her finely-chiseled head held high.

"Let's watch!" Sterling suggested.

Madison scrambled to her feet and followed Sterling to the rail. The two fillies watched in awe as Mira zoomed past at breakneck speed.

"Wow," Madison whispered. Sterling nodded in agreement. "That was fast."

"She's sure to get in," Sterling said aloud with conviction.

* * *
The final day of tryouts was nothing like the first. Dark clouds loomed overhead and the air was thick with something Mira couldn't quite describe. Something dark and ominous.

Like the artist, Mira pondered. The gray horse's paintings reminded Mira so much of her uncle, In A Moment, Honor's twin brother who had stayed in England. And the mysterious stallion reminded her of someone she wasn't quite sure she knew. It's just that feeling.

But try as she might, the stallion had rebuffed her attempt to get to know him. His sadness made her shiver.

"Okay, we're going to have a mock-race!" Dancer called to the multitudes of racehorse hopefuls, brining Mira back to the present. Cheers and groans followed the announcement.

Mira began stretching her long legs in preparation. Calmly, he closed her eyes for a brief moment and took a deep breath. When she opened them, two pairs of eyes were staring back at her. Mira jumped back and laughed.

"You scared me, Madison!" she exclaimed. Madison and Sterling giggled.

"We came to wish you luck," Madison explained.

The gray filly smiled. "Thank you," she said genuinely.

"Madison!" a deep voice called. All three fillies looked up. Orion beckoned for Madison. For a moment, the gray stallion's eyes rested on Mira. Unconsciously, she took a step back.

Mira looked downward. "You better go," she said quietly.

"Good luck, Mira," Sterling encouraged with a parting wave.

With a sigh, Mira took her position in line for the "post parade." As she jogged slowly past the horses watching on the fenceline, the skies opened up. Within seconds, Mira was soaked.

As Mira passed by Dinah, she heard the filly talking to Madison and Sterling. "Well I don't think she'll amount to anything good," Dinah said loudly. "I'd count it as lucky if she didn't come in dead last."

Mira gritted her teeth and narrowed her eyes, staring straight ahead. She would show her. She would show them all.

Coming to the gate, Mira waited silently for her turn to load. She had drawn the last spot. A handsome black colt loaded and then it was her turn. Calmly, Mira stepped into the narrow stall.

The black colt beside her turned his head to face her. "Think you'll win?" he asked incredulously.

Mira blinked and looked at him. She shrugged and nodded. The colt guffawed, sending droplets of rain everywhere. "Good luck," Mira said politely.

The colt rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever," he dismissed.

Mira furrowed her brow and faced the front again. With a clang, the gates swung open. Mira lurched forward.

For a second, Mira panicked as she slid in the sloppy mud. But she found her stride quickly and ran strong. For the first furlong, Mira ran midpack, blinking furiously as rain and sand flew up in her face. With a frustrated snort, she realized that she would be boxed in. She decided in an instant to go wide around the wall of horses in front of her.

With a toss of her head, Mira dug into the slippery mud. The gray filly passed the horses easily until she was neck-and-neck with the black colt in the lead.

Then time seemed to stand still. Out of the corner of her eye, Mira saw a flash of chestnut and gray, and a small form cowered in front of her. Mira heard a shrill scream.

Mira gasped and swerved, grabbing the small filly and pulling her out of the line of horses that followed her. Mira pulled the chestnut filly to her chest as she lost her footing and tumbled.

"Hold on, Madison!" Mira cried through gritted teeth. Squeezing her eyes shut, Mira waited for the fall. She fell heavily; the ground knocked the wind out of her lungs. And then she lay still.

* * *
Wonder watched the tragedy unfold with her heart in her throat. She wanted to scream as she watched Madison tumble out in front of the two-year-olds, and then as Mira dived, but found that she was froze.

For a long second, everything was silent, and Wonder could hear every single raindrop fall, each like a tear. Then Madison wailed, and Wonder jumped into action.

Wonder sprinted over to where Madison sat in the mud and Mira lay. "Mira!" she cried, reaching Mira's mud-covered form.

Mira's eyelids fluttered and opened. Gingerly, the filly lifted her head. "Is Madison okay?" she inquired exhaustedly.

Wonder nodded. "Where do you hurt, Mira?" she asked, clutching Mira's small hoof in her own.

Mira shook her head. "Nothing's broken," she assured the chestnut mare. "I just got the wind knocked out of me." Mira sat up and wiped her eyes.

Wonder hugged Madison and Mira to her and gave a sigh of relief. "I was so scared," she confessed.

Mira smiled weakly. "I just want to sleep," she mumbled tiredly.

* * *
Orion stormed into Whitebrook Farm's office, yanking the door open to reveal three startled horses. Wonder, Jazzman, and Dancer stared at him wide-eyed.

"I know you're reviewing which horses you're going to select for training," he began. "You will not allow the gray filly, Mira, to train here," he announced. With a decisive nod of his head, the stallion crossed his forelegs over his strong chest.

Dancer jumped up from her perch on a stool. "I don't understand what you have against her," she challenged, jutting her chin out. Orion shook his head stubbornly.

Jazzman cocked his head to the side and scratched an ear thoughtfully. "Orion," he said. "Let's be reasonable. She's the fastest filly I've ever seen. She deserves to be given the training."

"But she didn't even finish the race," Orion defended weakly.

"She saved your daughter's life!" Wonder exclaimed, throwing her forelegs up in exasperation.

Orion stood numbly in the doorway. He blinked and closed his eyes. "Fine," he said quietly. "But if you accept her, I'm leaving."

From behind closed lids, he could hear his friends gasp. Slowly, the gray stallion turned around and walked out of the office. He headed for his hill, miserable, lost in memories too painful to remember, but too close to forget.

* * *
Mira jogged out to the mailbox every day for three days, hoping to find an acceptance letter within. On the fourth day, a letter from Whitebrook Farm arrived.

The gray filly grinned, pulling her hoof from the mailbox with the letter clutched tightly. Excitedly, she tore away the envelope and unfolded the paper. Slowly, her smile faded, and she blinked tears from her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she read the letter again.

Dear Expect A Miracle,

We are sorry to inform you that although your tryouts were commendable, you have not been accepted for Whitebrook's training program.

We all wish you the best of luck in the future.

Best wishes,

Whitebrook Farm

"I will not cry, I will not cry," Mira chanted, but her stomach was in knots and a sob escaped her. Slowly, she crumpled the note and shoved it ungracefully back into the mailbox.

All of Mira's despair welled up inside of her and she bolted, blindly dashing down the drive into the barn. Her mad dash was halted halfway down the barn's aisleway as Mira ran into a roan body.

"Easy there, Mira," Smoothie's gentle voice soothed. Mira struggled to get away, but the stallion's strong forelegs held her to his chest. "Calm down, love."

Realizing where she was, Mira ceased her hysterics and stood limply in Smoothie's embrace. "They cut me," she said dully. Smoothie's hug tightened. "I don't know why. I did my best. I thought they liked me. Maybe it's because I didn't finish the race. But I was in the lead when I fell. But maybe they don't want me because I fell. Liability. I wish I knew why they didn't accept me," Mira babbled.

Making a shushing noise, Smoothie gently covered Mira's muzzle with his hoof. "It's okay, Mira," he whispered.

Mira's eyes filled with tears again. "No it's not, Smoothie," she whimpered, impatiently brushing the tears away. "This was my dream."

Smoothie smiled sympathetically and brushed her silky forelock off her forehead. "Don't measure yourself by what they think of you, Mira. We still love you regardless."

Mira sniffled. "But they're some of the best trainers in the world," she argued. "If they don't think I'll make it..." she trailed off.

"What is your name?" Smoothie asked.

Mira was caught off guard. "What?" she asked, confused.

"What is your name?" he repeated calmly.

"Expect A Miracle," Mira whispered.

Smoothie nodded in approval. "Don't forget that," he said sternly. "Your granddam had the exact thing happen," the roan reminded her. "Lacey wouldn't let her train, and look what happened. Things turned out okay for Shining, didn't they?"

Mira looked down. "Yes," she blushed.

The stallion smiled and kissed Mira's forehead. "Mira, you've grown into such a beautiful, talented horse. Your father would be as proud of you as I am."

The filly smiled gratefully. "Think you could have made it as a racehorse, Smoothie?" Mira teased.

Smoothie snorted. "Never."

Mira giggled and poked the stallion in the ribs. "Expect a miracle," she reminded him.

Smoothie held up his hooves in defense. "It's your name, not mine," he argued.

Mira laughed. "So what does your name mean, Smoothie?"

"Smoothie..." the stallion pondered. "A frozen fruit beverage."

The gray filly rolled her eyes. "It just screams inspiration," she said sarcastically. Smoothie did not bother replying, but opted for a different response. He grabbed Mira and tickled her, sending her into peals of laughter that echoed down the barn aisleways.

* * *
For a week, Orion mulled over his life. Had he really thought that banishing memories would magically turn his life into a fairy tale where the only option was living happily ever after? Orion snorted at the thought and gazed up at the cloudless night sky.

Life had never been easy for him. For the first year of his life, he and his mother had trekked the countryside, trying to find a place to belong. And finally they had. And just when Orion had thought it would finally be okay to be happy, his mother had died. Orion felt his chest constrict, remembering how devastated he had been.

Orion sighed and let the night's darkness envelope him. Grief was no stranger to him. In his mind, he listed each disaster, methodically berating himself for coming out of each one untouched when those he loved left him alone in the darkness.

"The she came," Orion said aloud, startling himself. "She had to come and dredge up memories I never wanted to think about again."

A warm wind picked up, making the leaves of the trees whisper their secrets to the lone stallion. But was it really her fault? a voice inside him argued.

"Orion?" a timid voice broke the night's silence. Orion turned around to face a tall black mare.

"Hi Dancer," Orion greeted her.

Dancer smiled. "What are you up to?" she inquired.

Orion shrugged. "Stargazing. Thinking."

For a long minute, it was quiet. "Can I ask you something, Orion?" Dancer asked.

The gray stallion looked at Dancer, a puzzled expression on his face. "I suppose so," he said slowly.

The mare let her gaze drift back to the stars. "Why don't you like Mira?" she asked bluntly.

Orion sighed. "That's my constellation up there," he said softly.

"I know," the black mare replied. "You've showed me before."

Orion ignored her comment. "Do you see that bright star to the left of Orion?" he asked, pointing upward.

"Yes," Dancer affirmed, squinting.

"That star is called Mira," the stallion whispered. Dancer turned to look at him, surprised. "It's a star in the constellation, Cetus. Mira's just one star, but she is part of something so much bigger."

"She's not part of Orion," Dancer pointed out.

Orion blinked. "Mira is part of so many memories I have wanted to forget."

Dancer crossed her forelegs. "So you'll shatter her dreams to protect yourself. That's pretty selfish, Orion." Dancer raised an eyebrow, challenging him to object.

"I'm afraid," Orion mumbled.

Dancer knitted her eyebrows. "Afraid? Of Mira?"

The stallion nodded miserably. "If she comes here, I know I'll love her. I'll love her as much as I love Dinah and Madison."

"What's wrong with that?" Dancer inquired.

"Everything connected to her..." Orion trailed off, unable to explain.

"Everything connected to her is connected to her, right?" the mare said.

Orion scratched his ear. "Well, yes," he conceded.

Dancer nodded thoughtfully. "So if you're in despair about things connected to Mira, don't you think she's felt these emotions, too?"

Orion blinked back tears that suddenly sprang to his eyes. "I just can't face disaster again," he whispered.

"Orion," Dancer soothed, throwing a foreleg around his strong shoulder. "Mira is not disaster."

The stallion nodded, agreeing. "Thank you," he murmured. "Perhaps now the shadows will leave me and the stars will remember."

* * *
Mira sat in the office of Glorified Acres, lazily doodling on a pad of paper. What would she do today? Maybe I'll take Smoothie up on that jump course offer, she mused.

The filly looked up as Smoothie walked into the office. "Mail came," he announced.

"Anything for me?" Mira asked off-handedly.

The roan handed her an envelope. "It's from Whitebrook," he told her.

Mira wrinkled her brow. She frowned as she opened the white envelope. Slowly her frown cracked into a grin. "They're letting me in!" she whooped, leaping out of her chair.

Smoothie laughed, sharing her enthusiasm. He pulled her into a congratulatory hug. "See?" he laughed. "It's all in a name."

Mira grinned. "C'mon, Smoothie," she giggled. "I'll make you a smoothie."


The Insane Crossover Story
Chapter Eight
by Tabby, Barnacle, Spike, and Friendly

Tabby, Merry Treat, He-Man, Ash, and crew have found themselves in the middle of an alien war after Orko somehow summoned up a Dark Portal. The worm-like Zerg are relentlessly attacking the Orcs, and everyone has gotten involved in the fight against the invading Zerg after a certain Jim Raynor and Tassadar showed up on the scene. In the last part, we left Ash, Misty, and Brock trapped in a layer of slime cast on them by a Zerg Queen...

The Pokčmon of the three trainers suddenly stopped in the midst of the battle and turned back to look at their slime-encrusted trainers, awaiting further orders.

"We've got to get out!" Ash cried.

"You can still command your Pokčmon, for Pete's sake!" Tabby shrieked out from across the Orc city.

"If I remember correctly, Ash, you're the one that volunteered for this job," Misty commented.

"She's got a point there," Brock agreed, struggling to free himself from the slime.

"Charizard! You've gotta help!" Ash pleaded with his sleeping dragon Pokčmon.

Charizard only yawned and reclined back further.

"We'll be stuck here for the rest of our lives if you don't do anything, Charizard!"

Charizard lazily cranked open an eye in annoyance.


Finally, Charizard did do something. He blew a blast of flame at the three slime-covered trainers in an effort to shut them up. Then he yawned again, and fell back to sleep.

After the smoke from the ball of flame had cleared, Ash, Misty, and Brock stood there in shocked poses, completely covered in the ash of the burned slime. All three of them kneeled over and promptly fell face-down on the ground.

"S-s-s-s-smokin'," Max smoothly said.

It took a few moments for them to regain their stamina. "Well, at least Charizard burned the slime off," Brock noted.

Anyway, the battle against the evil Zerg raged on. Knocked-out Zerg bodies littered the battlefield, but the swarm of worm-like creatures still didn't show any sign of diminishing.

"I hope the Orcs will upgrade to those dragons soon," Merry Treat said fearfully.

Tabby had her eye set critically on the horizon and pointed towards something. "That isn't quite a dragon, but it still might be able to help."

Merry Treat whirled around. "What? What're you talking about?"

Soon, it became quite obvious to everyone there what was approaching the city. It was a humongous grayish lizard-like monster stepping through the thick forest and heading straight towards the battlezone.

"It's another evil fiend!" He-Man cried out, rushing towards the towering creature, which must have been at least thirty stories high. However, upon getting closer to the thing, he stopped and said, "Perhaps I should have brought Battlecat with me."

"No, it's Godzilla!" Tabby cheered.

"This reminds me of that time we went to Japan and had to battle the evil Dr. what's-his-name," Sam commented.

"Where's our Mega-Max when we need it?" Max shrieked.

"I believe we sent it into space, little buddy."

Ash paused to look over at the commotion. "That's not Godzilla; it looks like a big iguana," he said.

"Ahhhhh!!" Brock screamed in terror as he ran past the camera.

"A new Godzilla?" Misty wrinkled her nose. "He's not nearly as smart as the original."

"Yeah," Tarquin agreed as Godzilla stepped out of the forest and walked into the city. "He's not knocking things over; he's walking around everything."

"And no dances!" Tess said in disappointment.

"What are you fools talking about?" Tabby glanced over at them with a raised eyebrow.

"I bet if we shot at him, he'd try to dodge," Max said.

"You're right; dodging is a sure sign of low intellect," Sam added.

The hulking creature that was Godzilla appeared to be on the side of the Orcs. He skillfully walked around buildings and blew stuff away with explosive green flame emitted from his mouth. The Zerg were big ugly monsters, and that's just what Godzilla liked to fight.

The arrival of Godzilla greatly helped the battle, but still wasn't enough to turn back the tide. However, he was immediately accepted into the ranks of the defenders as one of them, and his presence on the battlefield gave them hope.

"We need more peons! They're not bringing the gold in fast enough!" Raynor exclaimed, looking at the steady row of green Orcs returning to the city from the mine with bags strung over their backs.

"But look, Martial Raynor! They've just upgraded to a fortress!" Tassadar pointed out. Since their town hall had now been sufficiently built onto to make it into a fortress, the Orcs would finally be able to train their needed dragons.

A group of peons immediately went to building a Dragon's Den where the dragons would be trained from. Before the group's very eyes, a humongous dragon's nest complete with a mother dragon had been built up in the city.

All the Pokčmon spread throughout the city were beginning to get worn-out from all this constant battle, but their trainers urged them to keep it up. Godzilla continued to help. Orko kept trying to find some useful spells, but didn't get anywhere. Raynor kept launching grenades from his bike, and Tassadar was busy using his own psychic attacks, though they were both nearly exhausted. He-Man had since disappeared from the fray, but no one really noticed or cared.

Soon, piercing cries of newly-trained dragons ripped through the sky. The flying green creatures of myth flew over the Zerg and let loose their powerful fire attacks.

Godzilla, upon seeing the new dragons, looked like he would rather fight against them than alongside them. However, he decided to continue helping out for the time being, because he just loved to fight monsters, and the Zerg were more monstrous than the dragons.

Charizard, not to be outdone by a bunch of Orc dragons, suddenly took to the air, determined to show everyone what a real dragon could do. In the combined onslaught of the dragons, Godzilla, and Charizard, many Zerg units were knocked-out as the big fire-breathing lizards swept across the battlefield.

Still, the defenders just couldn't get ahead! The Zerg were too many and nearly everyone felt at a loss-- would they ever gain any ground, or would this battle continue on until the Zerg finally stood victorious over them?

"Gee, I hope not," Sam commented. "We have to get home in time for Star Trek Voyager."

"Well, maybe it wouldn't be so bad, then, if we lost," Max said.

Even the Pokčmon could not hold up any longer. Misty, Ash, Brock, Tabby, and Merry Treat regretfully had to call theirs back to get some rest.

Just as they were all ready to give up, they saw a wonderful sight coming over the ridge. The Protoss attack force had finally arrived! A massive fleet of huge flying battle ships with scores of crab-like walkers and yellow armored caterpillar-like vehicles moved deliberately forward.

Tassadar, who had just received a radio message from Fenix (leader of the Protoss attack), turned to the group and explained, "The Protoss have found a way to harness the power of the Xel'Naga in a more controlled and portable form. This device will be placed in the center of the Zerg city, and it will hopefully destroy them all."

"I once learned how to harness the power of the Xel'Naga," Max said.

"No, Max, that was that... other thing," Sam corrected.

"Oh, yeah! I keep getting them mixed up!" Max stated exuberantly.

"Alright, people!" Raynor exclaimed. "That means they're gonna set off a big bug lamp! Get ready to take cover!"

"Whe-e-e-e-e-e-e!" Max squealed. "I need to find a good place to watch."

The group stood around at a safe distance, feeling revived at this news. Finally, they would be getting somewhere for sure with this bug-lamp the Protoss spoke of!

"The Zerg are gonna be annihilated! The Zerg are gonna be annihilated!" Tabby and Max chanted in unison.

"It sure took long enough," Merry Treat agreed.

"Ash, I can't believe you were so stupid as to get us into this!" Misty shrieked.

"But you heard them; the Zerg will be taken care of in no time now," Ash defended himself.

"That's not the point! We could have avoided the whole incident if you hadn't led us off the path!"

"Yes, but then we wouldn't have been able to help these people who needed us!" Ash said.

"I can't wait until this is all over and we can finally run into some real people again," Brock said longingly. "Maybe some pretty girls."

Ash and Misty both let out a sigh.

The battle cries of Godzilla, Charizard, and the dragons continued in the background as they controlled the influx of Zerg into the city. Any that got past them were quickly picked-off by trolls, Orcs, and ogres. A squad of Terran marines who had accompanied the Protoss force charged past Godzilla's feet, screaming "Go-go-go!"

However, there was one unaccounted for through all this. Orko suddenly came flying up to the group. "He-Man! He-Man!" the flying t-shirt gasped out.

"He's not here," Tarquin said bluntly.

"I know! He's in the Zerg city!" Orko said in concern.

"Man, that's not a good place to be," Raynor commented.

"Well, doesn't he know to get out?" Merry Treat asked.

"I tried yelling at him! He couldn't hear me that far away!"

"I guess we've got to save him, huh?" Tabby said.

Tarquin nodded after a pause. "Yeah. I guess so."

* * *
Meanwhile, two mysterious human figures and a cat-like creature were crouched down at the top of the ridge, staring down at the Zerg colony through a pair of binoculars.

"Look! A whole city of new Pokčmon breeds!" the blue-haired guy whispered with excitement.

"And we'll catch them all," the cat cackled. "What a jackpot!"

"The boss will be sure to give us promotions after presenting all these to him," a girl with long, curving red hair said smugly.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" the cat hissed. "Let's get down there and capture them!"

* * *
He-Man had, in fact, thrown himself into the heart of the Zerg city. He flung his sword around, demolishing things as he went. He was oblivious to the fact that the Protoss bug lamp would soon be going off and destroying everything within the town.

"Evil Zerg! You shall not get away with this great injustice to humanity!" He-Man declared, running into a large grouping of them. However, the Zerg appeared to be distracted by something and ignored He-Man, looking past him. Their gazes were on the entrance of their city, where two human figures stood, clad in white outfits with a prominent red "R" on their shirts.

"To protect the world from devastation..." one of the characters began.

"To unite all peoples within our nation..." the second continued.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love..."

"To extend our reach to the stars above..."

"Jessie..." The girl with long, curving red hair struck a dramatic pose.

"James..." Her blue-haired companion followed suite.

"Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth! That's right!" This last line was recited by the beige cat-like creature who hopped in front of his two human companions just then.

Yes, these were the three infamous Pokčmon thieves of Team Rocket-- Jessie, James, and Meowth. With their motto finished, the Zerg began advancing towards the trio.

Jessie stood unafraid and reached for a PokčBall. "Arbok, go! Poison sting attack!"

James pulled out a PokčBall as well. "Wheezing! Smokescreen!"

In a flash of light, two more Pokčmon appeared on the scene-- a large purple snake and a strange purplish mass with two heads. Arbok lunged for the nearest Zerg while Wheezing covered the town with a layer of thick, black smoke.

He-Man turned towards the two, whom he could hardly see anymore through the smoke. "More vile villains!"

Jessie and James did not concern themselves with the musclebound oaf. They set themselves to commanding their Pokčmon and knocking out Zerg. They gleefully went throughout the city weakening a great number of the aliens to take back to the Team Rocket headquarters. Since so many of the Zerg forces were occupied attacking the Orc city, the two were actually able to knock-out most of the creatures who were left behind as guards.

He-Man stood poised, sword in hand, for any evils that should appear out of the smoke. Most of the Zerg that had been menacing him previously had been knocked out by Team Rocket's tactics, but he was still on the alert.

The most powerful man in the universe suddenly caught sight of several creatures approaching him through the coat of smoke. "You won't take me without a fight!" He-Man called out.

"He-Man! We're on your side... or something like that." Out of the mist appeared Tabby and Tarquin, who had been sent as the rescue crew.

"A Protoss bug lamp has been planted in the city and it's going to destroy the whole place in a matter of minutes," Tarquin filled in.

"It gladdens my heart to know that there are still those people that will continue to fight for justice!" He-Man said in approval.

Max hopped through the smoke as well. "Too bad I'm not one of them."

"What Tarkie was trying to get across," Tabby continued, "is that if we don't get out of here soon, we're gonna be gone along with the city-- Max, what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to loot the Zerg city!" Max explained. "Maybe they left behind a cool raygun or something."

"But how will we find our way out through this thick, foul-smelling fog?" He-Man said.

"We run really fast and hope it gets us somewhere," Tabby said matter-of-factly.

"That usually works for me," Max replied.

* * *
Jessie stood back and laughed as they reached the center of the Zerg city. "What a catch we'll have to show the boss now!"

"Yes, it was pure genius of me to spot these rare Pokčmon from up on the ridge," James added.

"Hey! I'm the one who saw ‘em first!" Meowth argued.

"Shut up!" Jessie snapped. "We all know that it was my idea to come this way in the first place."

"Say, what's that?" James suddenly stopped and stared at something directly ahead of them-- the Protoss bug lamp.

"Wheezing." The floating purple ball came to the head of the group.

"Hmm," Jessie said thoughtfully. "I wonder if it's something useful."

"Char-boka!" Arbok slithered up next to his trainer.

"Let's take it along with us!" Meowth suggested, striking a pose, pointing his clawed paw into the air.

It was at that moment, however, that the bug lamp was set to detonate. A brilliant light filled the air as Team Rocket stood frozen in place. A great explosion expanded over the whole of the Zerg city. Jessie, James, and their Pokčmon were hurled up into the air.

"We're blasting off again!" they all cried in unison as they disappeared into the sky with a small burst of light.

After the smoke and dust from the explosion had cleared, it was apparent that the Zerg city was entirely leveled. Now, without a city to support them, the Zerg had no hope of winning anymore.

Realizing they had lost, they fled back to their Overlords (large living bloated bags of buoyant gas that the Zerg used as transports) and climbed in. The Overlords, in turn, floated up off into space, never to return.

* * *
Back in the Orc town, everyone was watching the complete decimation of the Zerg colony and the fleeing of the aliens. They all cheered. "Oh yeah," Raynor said.

"Boy, I'm getting hungry," Sam said.

"We did it! We did it!" Tabby squealed, as she stumbled up to the group with He-Man, Max, and Tarquin.

"I want a corn dog!" Max cried.

"But it took a lot of help," Tarquin said in reply to Tabby's comment as he glanced over the assortment around him: He-Man, Orko, Ash, Misty, Brock, Pikachu, Sam, Max, Godzilla, the Orcs, Raynor, Tassadar, and the rest of the Protoss.

With no more Zerg to fight, Godzilla began eyeing the dragons, sizing them up as his next opponent. But Sam quickly jumped forward, waving his arms and waving, "Go, to the water!"

Godzilla took this as his cue to leave. He gracefully turned and walked back into the forest, being careful not to hurt any vegetation.

"I guess we'll be getting out of here now, as well," Brock said to Tabby and Merry Treat after Godzilla was out of sight. "After Tassadar let me use the Protoss' scanners, I think I've figured out where we are."

"And I've gotta win more badges!" Ash said. "C'mon!"

"It was nice meeting a fellow Togepi trainer!" Misty called out as the three went on their way.

"Togi-togi!" Togepi cried.

"Pika!" Pikachu called out.

"Aw, now I only have one egg to make an omelet out of," Max said.

"Hey!" Merry Treat said possessively and smacked him on the head. THWACK!

"You really do love me," Max said in a dazed state.

"You crack me up, little buddy," Sam chuckled.

The group of Pokčmon trainers was soon out of sight. Raynor then jumped on his bike and said to Tassadar, "Let's drive."

"I don't think so," Tassadar replied, jumping into a Protoss shuttle with relief.

All the Protoss had soon left as well. Now it was only the ponies, their Pokčmon, Sam, Max, He-Man, Orko, and the Orcish village.

"It was nice meeting all you guys!" Tabby called out to the Orcs. "Tah-tah!"

The Orc peons had all occupied themselves with repairing buildings that had been damaged in the long fight. "Those puny Zerg defenses," they laughed over their work.

"Goodbye!" Merry Treat added. "So long!"

"We leave you in peace, my friends," He-Man went on to the Orcs. "Perhaps we will meet again."

And with that, Tabby, Merry Treat, Tarquin, Tess, Sam, Max, He-Man, and Orko trudged off into the sunset, leaving behind them all the memories of that action-filled day.

He-Man suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned back to face the audience. "Today we learned an important lesson about teamwork. You can never hope to defeat evil alien aggressors all by yourself, even if you are the most powerful man in the universe. By working together, you can accomplish things you can never hope to accomplish on your own."

"Hmm... boring," Tabby said.



The Ghost of Box Five
Part Three
by Masquerade
Comments and criticism can be sent to

The morning after opening night of the opera she had starred in, Windsong awoke feeling happy and well rested. She thought about everything that had happened the day before and smiled to herself. She didn't spend too much more time in bed, though. There was another show to do tonight, so she needed to get to the opera house early for rehearsals.

When Windsong arrived, everyone there was in good spirits after the success of the previous night's show. Blackberry noticed Windsong almost right away and greeted her with a big smile. "How is our new star?" he asked.

"Quite well, thank you," Windsong answered as she continued on to her dressing room. She got sidetracked, though, by young Moondancer.

"Hey, Windsong! Wait up a minute," Moondancer cried.

"Hi, Moondancer," Windsong said.

"So, are you going to tell me about your dinner with the prince last night? Where did you go? What did he say? What was he wearing?"

"Do you ever stop asking questions? What makes you think I'm going to tell you about my dinner, anyway?" Windsong teased.

"Oh, please tell me something," Moondancer pleaded.

"Alright. Well, we went to that beautiful restaurant called Harmonia. It was really wonderful; and Prince Blizzard is very nice, too. I was a bit shy, though, being in such a fancy restaurant. I don't make much money, so I've never even looked inside a place like that."

"Wow. You're so lucky. If you keep up with the singing like you did last night, you're going to be world famous. You'll be able to eat off of gold plates!" Moondancer said.

Windsong laughed at her sometimes silly friend. "Maybe, but right now I have to go to my dressing room," she answered.

* * *
That night's opera went as smoothly as it had the night before. The audience cheered and clapped loudly for Windsong once more and the mood backstage was just as upbeat.

Prince Blizzard offered to take Windsong to dinner again, and she accepted. This time, though, Windsong quickly got out of her costume and headed to her dressing room. There were many new bouquets in her room tonight in addition to all the ones from last night. The most beautiful one was a large bouquet made up of red and white roses that had been waiting in the room last night.

Windsong had been in such a hurry after opening night that she never had got to have a good look at the roses. She walked over and picked up the large bouquet that had caught her attention. They smelled wonderful, and they were quite heavy since there were over two dozen flowers in the bouquet. Windsong noticed a little white card placed in it that read, "From your Angel of Music".

She read the note over again and sighed aloud. Her "Angel of Music" had given her all the voice lessons and roses, and she still hadn't thanked him. In all the excitement of last night, Windsong had actually forgotten him! She now called out to him a few times, but he wasn't there. She waited awhile for him and forgot all about Prince Blizzard.

After awhile, there was a knock at the door. Windsong unlocked it and saw that it was Prince Blizzard. "Oh, my! I'm sorry; I forgot about our dinner."

"That's alright, Windsong. I was late getting here myself. Are you ready to go now?" Prince Blizzard asked.

Windsong looked back at the bouquet of roses and sighed again. "I guess so," she said, and then they left for dinner.

* * *
At dinner, Blizzard noticed that Windsong's thoughts were somewhat sidetracked. "Is something on your mind?" he asked.

Windsong was silent for a few more moments and then looked over at the prince. "If I tell you something, do you promise not to think that I'm crazy?" she asked.

The prince gave her a bewildered looked, but nodded "yes".

"Do you remember the stories my father used to tell us?"

"Yes," said Blizzard.

"Well, there was one in particular I'm thinking of. He used to tell us of the Angel of Music. My father said that he'd send the Angel of Music to me when he could no longer take care of me himself."

"Yes, I remember," Blizzard said.

"Well, unfortunately, my father died a few years ago. He was quite old, so I knew it would happen someday. Anyhow, he came just like my father promised!"

"Who came, Windsong?"

"The Angel of Music, of course," Windsong answered.

"Well, no doubt he did! Anyone who's heard you sing these past two nights would believe that. Right now, though, I just want us to enjoy the rest of our time here tonight, without any Angel of Music," said Blizzard.

Windsong guessed that the prince thought she was just teasing him. She figured it was no use in telling him any more about her teacher and decided to look at her menu.

* * *
The rest of the shows during the opera's week-long run went wonderfully. It was now the end of the last show, and Windsong was taking her bows for the last time. Each night's performance had sold well, but tonight when she looked up at the balcony, even it was sold out!

Then Windsong looked over to the opera boxes and to her surprise, she saw someone standing in the shadows of the velvet curtains in box five. She stood there staring into the shadows right until the curtain came down.

Then everyone rushed to congratulate Windsong on a week's worth of shows. She was rushed to the wardrobe room so she could get out of her costume and also to get ready for the party to celebrate the success of the opera, Happy Endings.

Windsong was tired, but went to the party anyway because she knew the managers would be upset if she didn't. Concerto made a small speech about their new discovery in Windsong's talent. Monsieur Blackberry made sure that reporters from all the main newspapers in the area were there to take photographs of everything.

To everyone around her, Windsong appeared to be very happy. On the inside, though, she felt very sad. She hadn't heard from her Angel of Music since before her first show.

That night when Prince Blizzard asked her to dinner, Windsong told him that she was too tired, and she sadly went back to her dressing room. Once again, there were many fresh bouquets in the room, but none from her teacher. Windsong sat on her couch and began to cry; she figured that he was never going to return to her. Now she'd never get a chance to thank him.

"Where are you?" Windsong called out, but didn't get an answer. "Please come back. I need you. There's still so much I have to learn," she said in between sobs.

"Stop crying, child. I'm here." The coming of the voice surprised Windsong so much that it caused her to jump.

"Why did you leave me?" she demanded.

"After the first show, you seemed to forget all about me. After all I've done for you, you forgot," the voice said.

Windsong looked down at the floor and felt sorry. "I know. I apologize. It's just that so much happened at once. I didn't really know how to take it," she said in an effort to explain herself.

"Really, Windsong; if you want to be a famous singer, you must take things more seriously. You can't stay out late at night in the cold air. It's bad for your voice, you know. You also need to spend much more time in practicing rather than chatting with some prince," the voice said in a serious tone.

"I'm sorry. I promise I'll do better from now on," Windsong said.

"Alright, then," said the voice. "We shall begin practicing now."

* * *
For a few days, Windsong practiced a great deal on her voice exercises. The voice came to her every morning at about six o' clock when there was no one else at the theater. Prince Blizzard was away at the time, so Windsong wasn't distracted by thoughts of him.

Soon, though, Windsong would be appearing in a concert with Coloratura; and Prince Blizzard had promised he'd be there. That concert was now only two days away and Windsong's thoughts were once again beginning to drift back towards the stallion.

The voice seemed to sense this and would get impatient with her when her mind wandered during their lessons. "Windsong, do you want to make a fool of yourself on stage during the concert?" he'd ask.

"No," Windsong would answer promptly.

"Then concentrate, girl! Concentrate!"

* * *
The day of the concert, Prince Blizzard returned just as he'd promised he would. As soon as he got to the opera, he rushed to Windsong's dressing room to see her. He knocked and Windsong answered the door. "Oh, how wonderful it is to see you again!" the prince said happily.

"Yes, it is," said Windsong.

"Well, are you going to invite me in?" asked Blizzard.

Windsong seemed to hesitate at what he'd said. "Alright," she said slowly and opened the door wide for him to enter.

Blizzard then proceeded to tell Windsong all about his trip out at sea and how all he could think about was her. All the while, Windsong sat silently and seemed almost not to be listening. She kept looking nervously towards her dressing room mirror and then back at the prince.

"Windsong, is there something wrong? You did want to see me, didn't you?" Blizzard asked.

"Oh, certainly I wanted to see you; it's just that I'm very busy getting ready for tonight's concert," Windsong said.

"Ah, very true! I really should let you get ready. I apologize. I will see you again, then, after the concert when I take you out to supper!" Blizzard said as he headed to the door.

Windsong got up to follow him to the door and thanked him for his visit. "I'll see you one hour after the concert," Blizzard said as he gave her a small hug goodbye. Windsong then shut the door, went back to her sofa, and quietly sat down.

"I told you not to see that prince anymore! He's taking up too much of your time," boomed the voice.

"I didn't tell him to come here. Honestly."

"Don't worry; I believe you. Right now, just concentrate on tonight's concert," answered the voice.

After awhile, young Moondancer came up for a minute to let Windsong know that it was time to go to the costume room. A few minutes after Moondancer left, Windsong got up to go where she was needed.

Just as she was about to leave, though, the voice called out after her. "Windsong, I have a surprise for you," he said.

"What is it?" Windsong asked.

"Tonight after the concert, when you return to your dressing room, I shall sing a concert especially for you!" the voice said.

Windsong was overjoyed at that announcement, as she loved listening to her Angel of Music sing. To her, it was the most beautiful thing in the world. With that, she happily went off to get ready for that night's concert.

In the night's show, Windsong sang as she never had before. The whole audience was amazed by her voice-- even those who had come especially to see Coloratura perform. The theater practically shook with applause at the curtain call when the singers came to take their bows.

Immediately after leaving the stage, Windsong rushed to the costume room and then directly to her dressing room. She could hardly wait to hear the Angel of Music sing for her. She hurried to get the key in the door and rushed inside to where the voice was waiting for her behind the walls as promised.

"That was truly a beautiful thing tonight!" beamed the voice.

"I sang for you tonight!" said Windsong.

"Ah, and now I shall sing for you!" answered the voice. Then he began his song, one that he'd especially composed for Windsong.

Windsong at first sat on her couch, dazzled by the music. As he went on through, Windsong was mesmerized more and more! Soon she was standing in the middle of the room and kept going closer and closer to the giant mirror on the wall. It was like the music was calling to her to come to it, and she did.

By the time she reached the mirror, Windsong was practically hypnotized by the music coming from the voice-- so much, in fact, that she never noticed the mirror slide open like a door as she got to it. She calmly stepped through the place where the mirror had been a few seconds before and kept walking towards the sound of the singing.

The music was all around Windsong, and then suddenly beside her as a cloaked figure stepped from the shadows towards her. At first she jumped a bit to the side, as it had scared her; but when she realized that the singing was coming from this figure, she just stared in wonder at him. He kept singing and gently guided her down a series of dimly lit passageways until they got to a lake.

The singing stopped for a minute as the figure uncovered a small boat that was waiting at the shore for them. Windsong knew that there was a lake far below the opera house and figured that she must be at it now. The mysterious pony got into the boat and then put out a hoof to help Windsong get in as well.

When Windsong touched his hoof, it was unbelievably cold and she immediately let go and took a step back. She looked at the pony in the cloak and tried to see his face in the light from a lantern in the boat. All she could make out, though, was the shape of a white mask covering about half his face.

Windsong was a bit scared and turned to leave, but stopped when the mystery pony started his song once more. She immediately turned to face the boat and walked back to it. This time, she got into the boat with hardly a moment's hesitation and soon the masked pony picked up a long pole and pushed the boat off from the shore. All the while, he continued singing to Windsong as he steered the boat across the dark lake with the pole.

Windsong continued listening; and as the song got more and more intricate, she felt more and more like she was falling into some kind of dream-like state.


The Continuation of the Beginning
Chapter Four
by Barnacle

"Boy, those Boldiers sure can throw a party," Kracken commented as he stumbled out of the cave and into the sunlight. Shielding his eyes with one hand, he offered the other to Barnacle who was also crawling out of the subterranean passage.

"Aye," Barnacle agreed, "but I be mighty glad we're away from there now. This trip's takin' much longer than it should already."

Behind him came Protius, the three-foot-tall parrot. "Captain Barnacle, half of the journey is in the traveling."

"I thought a journey was nothing but traveling," Kracken replied, helping the seer as well.

"Ah, but that is were you are wrong," Protius said as he dusted himself off.

Rising out of the hole in the side of the cliff face next came Malteeze, a large cat-like creature. "Again your wisdom makes itself known, Master Protius," he said, ignoring Kracken's offered hand.

"Don't even try to tell me you understood what he meant because I know you didn't," Kracken replied in a good-natured sort of way, and stooped to grab hold of the two Bushwoolies, Davey and Jones.

"Thanks, mon," one of them said with his thick Jamaican accent.

"Yeah, yeah, thanks," the other nearly identical Bushwoolie said.

"Mine is not to explain myself to those who can not comprehend," Malteeze replied with his back turned to Kracken.

"Yeah, I didn't get it either," Kracken said.

"It's quite obvious what he meant," Malteeze replied, now turning around.

"Ah, the sun, it's been far too long since I've gazed upon it's beauty... even if it is overcast," Protius said, ignoring them both and turning his gaze skyward.

"ARR, Protius, you and Malteeze be our guides here," Barnacle said, looking around as well. They seemed to be standing at the end of a long path which wound its way gently through rows upon rows of neatly ordered fruit trees. Everywhere one looked, he would see nothing but beautiful greenery and blue sky, save for the near vertical cliff face from which they had emerged. "Where do ye reckon we be?"

"This is without a doubt the kingdom of the Dakytins," Protius explained. "I was visiting here when the Warlords invaded and took me prisoner."

"It doesn't look like any war took place here," Kracken commented.

"The battles were fought in the shadow of the royal palace on the northern rim," Malteeze explained. "And besides, they wished to keep the orchards intact-- some of the choicest fruits in all the world come from these fields."

"Really?" Kracken asked.

"Yeah, yeah!" Davey and Jones both cried as they rushed towards the trees.

"ARR, didn't you sea urchins have enough ta eat at the banquet?" Barnacle cried out.

"Bushwoolies have very high metabolisms," Protius said in their defense.

"Either that or they just like to eat a lot," Kracken added as they watched the two jumping at the lower boughs of one of the trees. Even though they were jumping as high as they could, they were not coming anywhere near the luscious fruit hanging on the branch. It didn't stop them from trying, however.

"I want that one!" Jones cried out reaching as high as he could.

"Maybe you could try getting on my shoulders!" Davey suggested.

"Yeah, yeah!" Jones agreed and leaped at his brother only to crash into him and send them both to the ground.

"ARR," Barnacle said sternly as he rushed over. "You two best be keepin' down. We don't know who or what might be around!"

"Argh... sorry," Jones said as he sat up and rubbed his head.

"Yeah, sorry," Davey agreed as he pushed Jones off his back where he had been sitting.

"No worries, guys," Kracken said and easily picked two of the fruits, which were hanging no higher than his shoulder. "Here you go."

Pointing at the top of the tree Davey said, "I want that one!"

"Yeah, and I want that one!" Jones cried as he jumped to his feet.

"Argh," Kracken groaned and tossed the fruit he was holding to the ungrateful Bushwoolies.

"Get down!" Malteeze suddenly whispered.

"Wha--?" Kracken asked a split second before Malteeze tackled him to the ground. Everyone else quickly followed suit and dropped down even though they did not know from where or what the danger was.

When Barnacle shot a questioning glance at the feline, Malteeze silently pointed at a dike between two rows of trees. Slowly and as quietly as they could manage, everyone pulled themselves along the ground towards the dike to see what all the commotion was about. Peering over the top, they instantly saw what was afoot.

On the other side of the mound of earth and about three rows of trees away was a group of four feline guards watching over several lizard-like creatures. While most of Barnacle's group would have been imperceptible to those on the other side of the dike, Kracken-- who was taller and a good deal closer-- would have stood out like a sore thumb.

"Dakytins," Malteeze whispered and pointed at the lizards. Extremely fluid and graceful in their movements, the Dakytins were obviously being forced to pick the fruit for their feline overlords. Somewhat shorter than the human-sized cats, the lizards stood upright, were covered in fine shimmering greenish scales, and possessed four long thin arms. Across the tops of their heads and down their backs, they sported colorfully-frilled crests. They wore soiled and torn rags for clothes, however, and their demeanor was not at all happy.

"Oh, it pains me to see them like this," Protius said. "They are such a proud people."

"We gotta help them!" Kracken said as he stood and reached for his sword.

Barnacle's hoof on his shoulder held him back, however. "Easy there, lad. This ain't our fight. We don't need to be getting' involved. ARR."

"But it doesn't matter," Kracken replied. "They need our help!"

"Since I am merely traveling along with you fine people, I am loath to say anything," Protius spoke-up. "But, I would have to agree with your first mate, Captain."

"But, master," Malteeze replied. "Why would we purposely throw ourselves into a course of action which would surely bring about violence?"

"ARR, I'm not looking for any fights," Barnacle snapped. "We'll just go around them and no one will ever know we were here."

But before any one could say another word, a great commotion arose from the group in front of them. It seemed as though another one of the lizard-men had dropped down from the branches of one of the fruit trees in such a manner that his feet crashed into the backs of two of the guards. They fell to the ground completely unconscious as the assailant performed a mid-air summersault, which brought him face to face with the other two guards. "AH-HA!" he yelled with a smile on his lips and drew a matched set of rapiers to parry one of the soldier's own attacks. As the swords clashed, he cried out to the other Dakytins, "Run, my brethren! You are free! Run!"

As the enslaved people fled off into the orchard, the pirates got a good look at this strange newcomer. By way of clothing, he wore only a pair of light leather boots and pants with a bright red sash tied about his narrow waist that was nearly the same shade as the frill running down his back. One thing that immediately set him apart from the other lizards was the fact he had only two arms instead of their four.

"Who is this guy?" Kracken asked aloud, but no one seemed to have an answer. "Whoever he is, he really needs help." With that, Kracken leapt to his feet and charged forward.

"ARR-- BLAST!" Barnacle said. "Good help be so hard to find."

"Malteeze," Protius said to his pupil, "I think it might be wise to assist him."

Malteeze looked at the bird and said, "Master, are you sure that is wise?"

"Look," Protius replied, "if we don't do something, this could end very badly!"

Grudgingly, Malteeze got to his feet. "Yes, Master."

As Kracken closed in on the fight, it quickly became apparent that the swashbuckling lizard wasn't in need of any help. Within the short span of time it took the pirate to clear the distance between them, both guards lay senseless on the ground. As he stopped just short of the battlefield, Kracken now found the lizard's swords pointed at him!

"On guard!" the Dakytin cried.

"Wow, hold up," Kracken replied. "I'm a friend-- I think."

"A friend, you zay?" he asked with a strange French accent while still holding his weapons at the ready. "Zen why do you travel with one of them?" One of his thin blades pointed at Malteeze who had just arrived at Kracken's side.

"He's a friend, too," Kracken said. "He deserted the warlord's army because he couldn't stand the destruction."

"Is zis true?"

With a solemn nod, Malteeze said, "Yes."

"Ah-ha!" the lizard laughed and sheathed his swords. "My name is Pierre and I belong to the Dakytin Resistance! We battle zese tyrants so zat my people can once again be free!"

As the others watched from the ridge, Barnacle said, "ARR, he be a trustin' sort, don't he?"

"Perhaps we should introduce ourselves," Protius suggested.

Meanwhile, Kracken was doing just that. "Um... I'm Kracken," he said as he shook the offered hand. "And this here is Malteeze."

"A pleasure to make your acquaintances," Pierre said. "Are you freedom fighters as well?"

"Well, ah, no," Kracken replied. "I'm a pirate and we were just sort of passing through when we saw this confrontation. It looked like you could use some help."

"Ah, I appreciate ze thought, but as you can see, I needed no help," Pierre said. "Zese soldiers are easy prey." However, looking at Malteeze he quickly added, "No offence, of course."

"Of course," Malteeze replied civilly, if not somewhat bluntly.

"So you belong to a resistance, you said?" Kracken asked.

"Yes!" the lizard exclaimed. "For the time being we are small in number so we must content ourselves with the freeing of these orchard workers. But soon... we will storm ze fortress walls and depose zese dictators who think to rule over us!"

"Sounds like quite a job," Kracken replied.

"ARR, that it does," Barnacle added as he stepped forward. Protius and the Bushwoolies were right behind.

"Pierre," Kracken said, "this is Barnacle; he's our captain, and that's Protius, Davey and Jones. Everyone, this is... Pierre."

"A pleasure," Pierre said with a sweeping bow. "But I must ask. How is it zat a band of pirates such as yourselves have come to be here, in the kingdom of the Dakytins?"

"Um, purely for the record," Protius spoke up, "Malteeze and I are NOT pirates; we are simply traveling with them."

"ARR, that be a long story," Barnacle said and left it at that. "What we be tryin' ta do now is find a way out o' here and back home."

"Ah," Pierre said, "you may find zat rather difficult. Ze sky bridge is the only way down from our mountain top kingdom and ze warlords control zat as well."

"Sky bridge?" Kracken asked. "Why can't we just climb down the side if we're on top of a mountain?"

"See for yourself," Pierre said and then led the group to a rock wall at the very end of the row of trees. When they finally arrived at the low wall that stretched out in either direction as far as the eye could see, Pierre stood back and simply said, "Take a look."

Everyone did, and cautiously leaned over the edge. On the other side there was nothing but empty air and a sheer rock face that plummeted down farther than anyone present could see. "Wow!" Kracken said and stumbled back, feeling a sense of vertigo.

"ARR, why didn't either of you mention this?" Barnacle demanded of Protius and Malteeze.

"Well," Protius explained, "when I arrived here, it was via world-rift which is completely unlike any earthly conveyance. I knew that the mountain sides were quite steep, but I never imagined this."

"ARR, and what about you?" Barnacle demanded of Malteeze.

"You never asked," Malteeze explained calmly. "If you had, I would have told you that the only way down from here is through the sky bridge, and the only way into the sky bridge is through the Dakytin Fortress."

Dumbfounded, Barnacle turned to Pierre who said with a shrug, "He is correct, monsieur."

"ARR, why do we always have ta do things the hard way?" Barnacle said.

"Do not look so downhearted, my friend," Pierre said, patting the pirate captain on the back. "If you are willing to help ze resistance, perhaps we can help you in return."

"Help with what?" Kracken asked.

"Raid ze fortress, of course!" Pierre exclaimed. "Zere are plans as to how to go about it, but zey are not yet ready to be put into effect. But with ze addition of your manpower, we might be able to succeed!"

"Might?" Kracken asked.

"ARR, wait one minute," Barnacle said. "Just how big is this resistance o' ours if the six of us make a difference in your battle plan?"

"Ah-- let me think," Pierre said as he tapped his chin and stared at the sky. "Including myself... one."

"You're it?" Kracken said.

"ARR, he's insane," Barnacle said bluntly.

"Yes, my captain, I am insane! Insane with ze hope zat one day my people will be free!" Pierre exclaimed. "Zat leaves only one question: Are you insane as well to follow me and win your own freedoms!?"

Barnacle stood silent for a moment thinking this over. Finally, he asked one simple question. "ARR, if we come along, is there any chance we'll win?"

"I will not lie to you, captain; zere is a very good chance zat we will succeed-- IF we follow my plan to ze letter."

"Barnacle, I think--" Kracken started but the pirate captain cut him off.

"ARR, Kracken, I know what you be thinkin' because you're half as nuts as he is."

Kracken just smiled.

"ARR," Barnacle said. "Let's do it."

"Excellent, my friends!" Pierre cried jumping into the air. "Follow me!" With that he turned and ran off into the dense orchard.

"ARR, wait! What's the plan!?" But the lizard was already too far away to hear his cries. Everyone looked to Barnacle for what to do next. Shrugging, he said, "Follow him."

With that, the motley group took off into the trees after this strange Dakytin.

After running for what seemed like forever, they finally came to a point where the trees abruptly ceased and a nicely trimmed lawn took over. The grass continued for several hundred feet before it too came to an end and thick rock walls rose up several stories high. Everyone came to a complete stop at the edge of the trees, however.

"Wha--!" Kracken exclaimed.

"It's the fortress!" Malteeze said. "We can't just rush it like this; the archers on the wall will cut us to ribbons!"

In the confusion, everyone had lost sight of Pierre; but suddenly all eyes turned to the right as they heard him call out. "Ze element of surprise is essential to my plan!" he yelled.

"ARR, but what be the plan!?" Barnacle replied.

Pierre, however, did not reply. He only made his way towards a massive timber frame far to everyone's right. As they all looked on, they could see that between the two roughly A-framed structures was suspended a long arm. From the end pointing into the air hung a gigantic wooden box filled with rocks. The other end of the arm was tied down to the base of the strange contraption.

"The trebuchetŕ," Malteeze muttered.

"ARR, what's that? Speak up!" Barnacle said.

"It's a siege weapon like a catapult, only much more powerful," Malteeze quickly explained. "We built this one when we were taking the fortress, but only fired it once. It was reset and loaded a second time, but the Dakytins surrendered. We just left it there when we moved on to conquer the Bouldiers. I thought they would have taken it down by now... or at least uncocked it."

As Malteeze talked, Pierre had drawn one of his swords and held it aloft in one hand. In the other, he grabbed hold of the sling fastened beneath the throwing arm.

"He's not really going to--" Malteeze started.

With a cry of, "FREEDOM!" Pierre let his sword fall, slicing through the rope that held the trebuchetŕ's arm down. Instantly, the weighted end dropped which sent the other end-- and Pierre-- rocketing upwards at tremendous speed. At the top of the swing, Pierre let go of the sling and kept going through the air, sailing silently in a great arc clear over the fortress wall.

"He IS insane," Kracken said in amazement.

"I hope he didn't overshoot the fortress entirely," Protius said. "It's built right on the edge of the mountain."

"Whee!" Davey yelled. "Me next! Me next!"

"Yeah, yeah!" Jones said. "Big fun!"

To be continued...


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