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OOC thread lies this way. There will be future occasion(s) to join for those who might be interested.

 

***

 

Tall, snow-capped mountains as far as eye can see. Strong and majestic, their grandeur enough to evoke a sigh of wonder underlined with respect even from those who have beheld such humongous rock formations throughout their entire lives. There is an added thrill in the fact that the wall of stone starts as a semicircle, but then turns aside, availing its beholder a far more captivating view of a seemingly endless valley of rolling hills interspersed with burbling streams and copses of trees, stretching all the way to the horizon, where the earth and sky blend seamlessly. There is a sense of deep peace and relaxation in the air, of being safe and careless. Until hooves thudding frantic breathing rock-like buildings wheezing past all blurred and bleary darkness all around suddenly spacious halls torn decorations smell of death fear and pain and hasty panting almost there it ends with a pair of red irises in neon-green eyes shining with malevolence and impossibly trailing deep purple smoke full of contempt and twisted joy as a mocking laughter rings in the ears sounding almost like a short, high-pitched blowing of a whistle that jolts everyone in the room awake.

 

"Five minuuutes!," came a clear call from outside the sleeping chamber, delivered like on every other day by one of the trainers.

 

By the time the sound died down, all eight of the rookies within said chamber had been wide awake and beginning to prepare themselves for the day ahead, the oft-recurring dream mostly forgotten. It took most quite some time to adjust to those shared, repetitive dreams that were a given to anyone becoming a regular dweller of the Officers' Academy. Even though the superiors admitted to partaking in these irregular nightly spectacles, none was the wiser as to their origin or meaning - or otherwise denied it to the rookies. And that too was an everyday normalcy within this school of war, history and more: there was an abundance of knowledge to be had; assuredly, asking a senior officer, whether in a teaching rank or just further in their training could yield an enormous amount of information on various topics... should the interlocutor deem it appropriate to share such, which never happened. The senior trainees would often tease the younger officers with tidbits of cryptic tales, but without the obviously lacking context or meaning behind names unheard of, understanding these was impossible. Thus partitioned was the young officers' education that they learned what they were supposed to learn and when they were supposed to learn it.

 

Beyond learning, however, the time of the Cadets was largely spent on physical exercise, to the first today's round of which they would be late if they didn't hurry. The dormitory was designed to perform its function and nothing more, so no distractions stood before them beyond a shallow bath of water for the nominal morning ablution and collecting their gear. Except...

 

"Uh, do I train with you again today, Toad?" a beige pegasus with a two-tone blue mane asked of a stout yet short earth pony, at present busying himself with folding his blankets and grumbling about something under his nose. Hearing the question, he turned to the asking mare and gave her an irritated look.

 

"How do you expect to perform at this years history tests if can't even remember the training schedule, airhead?" he asked with an accusatory tone. "You, Midnight, Colenso and Cat are assigned for the eastern wing today. And I will be there tomorrow, so try not to make too much of a mess."

 

With that, he turned back to his task, which promptly turned to collecting and equipping his gear, which for the night he had stowed in a chest standing at the foot of his bed. Thus, he was spared a hurt look and a pout from the pegasus as she muttered "Schedules are boring", then went about preparing herself for the day ahead as well.

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@@Colenso Rivers, @@Once In A Blue Moon, @@SilverHeart EDIT: I keep forgetting these. Grumble mumble.     "Yay," Cirrus's response came in a strangled voice, sounding no less distraught than befor

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Dreams. What were they? More critically, what had they become for him and his compatriots since their professional training and academic studies began? Well, what did he already know; He knew that dreams came from the mind and they weren't so much as the common subconscious thoughts and behaviors as commonly thought,  as much as they were just random mixtures of already possessed information in which the dreamer plays a role, whether they are insightful enough to be in control of their actions and thoughts in this "act" or not. These were no longer dreams. They were of the same or relating content, and all of those he learned with or by shared the same ones. However, it seemed clear to him that those he would regularly ask for information pertaining to said subject knew very little about it. Too many possibilities with no way to test any hypothesis. For now, he had no other choice but to just leave it alone.

Masking his thoughts, he hummed a jolly tune. By this time, he was used to waking this early, and most of the time he stayed fully conscious through hours of his only available time to rest thinking about these things. Tuck first, tight enough so that you can bounce a pebble off of it, but not tied underneath. Folded second, making a band of covers which meets a quarter of the way up the mattress. No wrinkles. Good. He approached the bath and dipped his hoof ever so slightly into it, then raised his hoof over his eyes and let the water droplets fall into them. One, blink, two, blink. Afterwards he let his mane take the rest of the slight amount of water, approached his chest, opened it and began to equip himself. He liked to appear bubbly. Other ponies were less uneasy around him believing he was a happy moron whom only knew what he was told. He realized they had figured out he wasn't extremely moronic, for his memory was a steel trap and he knew when to ask the right questions, but appearing as happily oblivious as he did made sure ponies didn't actively avoid him, even though he found it hard to come up with the time to make anything more than an acquaintance. 

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"Five minuuutes!," came a clear call from outside the sleeping chamber, delivered like on every other day by one of the trainers.

 

Carto Sketch, 'Cat' to her friends and 'Cart' to the many ponies that piled stuff into her back, winced as she clambered out of bed, still sore from the previous day. Never leaving a wounded comrade behind was all well and good, but it was always the earth pony that had to carry them. Medical Cart, ammo Cart, food Cart, water Cart, fuel Cart... what had her parents been thinking?

 

 

 

"You, Midnight, Colenso and Cat are assigned for the eastern wing today. And I will be there tomorrow, so try not to make too much of a mess."

 

"We're in full battle rattle today, aren't we?" Cat asked, opening her locker and looking over her gear. It was all spotless and ready for inspection. By late afternoon it would be drenched in sweat, and they would all be staying up past sunset to ensure it was all clean for the next day. And being an earth pony, and as such expected to carry twice as much gear as the pegasus and unicorn ponies, Cat had more bags, bandoleers and webbing to clean than the air-heads and the candles did. The lazy mules. With that entirely insincere racism out of the way, Cat set about putting on her leather armour and all the accoutrements of her role, wincing at the pain in her muscles as she stretched round to do up a strap.

 

 

 

However, it seemed clear to him that those he would regularly ask for information pertaining to said subject knew very little about it. Too many possibilities with no way to test any hypothesis. For now, he had no other choice but to just leave it alone.

 

"Hoi, Spacey, you all there?" Cat asked, waving a hoof in front of him, "Could you check my straps?" she asked, gesturing to her gear, "I'm still a little stiff from yesterday, and I'm not bending too well."

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Once In A Blue Moon,

Spacey? That tone meant Cat. Cat was, by all accounts he could look back on, a tad.... He would just say malcontent. However, he turned his empty, wide eyes towards her and paused for a couple of seconds before a wide, joyful smile flashed on his face and he answered in operatic like song, "Aaaa-aaaa-aaa-aaal-riiiiiigh-tyyyyyyyy theeeeeeeeen!" He finished tightening the last strap for his gear and trotted over, inspecting her straps. All seemed well besides one, which was twisted around. So he methodically undid it and tightened it again the right way around. He offered kindly, "You know, I can forsaken some recreational reading tonight for a massage, if you're interested."

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@@Colenso Rivers, @@Once In A Blue Moon

 

The earth pony called Toad was the first to exit the room, His current training group was due for a major hike today, probably with the night spent camping in the harsh environment. As others left the dormitory, they went off in different directions as well. Even though the group that now shared the sleeping chamber had gone together through most of the training stages together, from the naive, unsuspecting foals in Pony Valley's primary school up to where they were now, this no longer meant they'd be treated as a group in any other regard.The training schedules in this highest of schools existing in their world, presented to them a week in advance, had always been wildly random, to the point of seeming erratic and at times downright irrational, as single first-year rookies would be thrown in amongst near-graduates and alumni alike on a regular basis. The reverse situation was anything but uncommon, too, and while initially it had made a lot of students feel awkward at best, it was often proved that a chance to spar with a superior opponent was in fact highly beneficial to the younger officers.

 

The two ponies who would be accompanying Colenso and Carto today were standing ready near the door by the time the two were done tightening the straps of their respective armors. One was the beige pegasus mare, going by the name Cirrus Streak, her fitting cutie mark depicting an elongated cloud slashed in two currently covered by lightweight leather armor with an added layer of scale mail protecting her breast and flanks. On a double belt around her waist hung an arrangement of differently shaped objects, without exception ending in blades and looking quite deadly. Currently unseen were the two little hooks attached to the very tips of her wings, allowing her to use her weaponry without ever losing a step on the ground, while similar contraptions near her hooves facilitated the same mid-flight.

 

Next to her, just as tall but a little more massive, a sapphire blue unicorn stood, Midnight Rover, tapping his hoof impatiently on the floor and flicking his tail, this in a little more toned hue of blue. Despite his little shows, he sported a serene look on his face. In spite of such being stereotypically ascribed to earth ponies, the armor he wore was a solid steel full-plate, complete with a heavy ridge helmet that clasped tightly around the wearer's horn. Of visible weapons he had none, for he could use any and needed none, as his proficiency lay in horn foiling and the armor he wore more than made up for the lackluster natural defense resulting from a unicorn's body build when compared to an earth pony. Although his ability to exert magic was limited to telekinesis and sending out raw pulses of force, he used both to his advantage with much skill. His telekinetic ability to operate any given weapon amazed most of his peers and was not unrecognized by the superior officers as well.

 

"If they don't get a move on right now I'm gonna cart them there to avoid being late," the unicorn said in a loud aside. Cirrus giggled shortly and punched him in the shoulder, producing a short, clear clang.

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@@Hederik,

His eyes snapped towards those he would be working with, Midnight and Cirrus and his smile vanished, becoming flat as he apologized, first to them, "Oh, I'm so sorry." He finished up and then to Cat for no other reason than she was just there, "Sorry." He hurried along and met with those waiting near the door, keeping he eyes down.

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He finished tightening the last strap for his gear and trotted over, inspecting her straps. All seemed well besides one, which was twisted around. So he methodically undid it and tightened it again the right way around. He offered kindly, "You know, I can forsaken some recreational reading tonight for a massage, if you're interested."
 

 

"Cheers, but I should be ok. I'll just try and be a bit more thorough with the warm-ups today," Cat answered as her gear settled into place.

 

 

 

"If they don't get a move on right now I'm gonna cart them there to avoid being late," the unicorn said in a loud aside. Cirrus giggled shortly and punched him in the shoulder, producing a short, clear clang.

 

"I'm coming, I'm coming," said Cat, trotting up to the two of them with the gentle, rhythmic rustle of well-secured kit. She had a short-sword on her left side, for when a sharp point was needed, but the sling on her right was her weapon of choice. She carried several bags of lead bullets, as well as the spare ammunition for whatever the rest of the group was using, and most of the group's extra kit mission-specific kit was assigned to her as well in the absence of any other earth ponies. 

 

 

 

His eyes snapped towards those he would be working with, Midnight and Cirrus and his smile vanished, becoming flat as he apologized, first to them, "Oh, I'm so sorry." He finished up and then to Cat for no other reason than she was just there, "Sorry." He hurried along and met with those waiting near the door, keeping he eyes down.

 

"You ok?" Cat asked, lowering her voice slightly, "You seem a bit... not with it today. Something on your mind?" She paused, then re-phrased in a more humorous tone, "Something more than usual, that is."

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@@Once In A Blue Moon,

@@Hederik,

He nervously looked up and discarded it with a quick transition back to a smile, "Oh, I was just wondering why bubbles are circular," Hoof on the back of his neck as he continued, "Sorry, wandering mind." He knew the answer, that bubbles took whatever shape took up the least amount of space, but then added as they headed off, "Well, if you still feel poor after today, my offer still stands." It would give him plenty of time to work out the subtle science behind the manipulation of stability. Then he asked all of them with a tone of friendly interest, "By the way, how'd you all sleep?" He only half-cared, he was only making sure they all had the same dream as he did.

Edited by Colenso Rivers
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(edited)

As soon as their group became complete, Midnight tossed his head in the general direction of the exit, motioning for them to set out. He proceeded to lead the way through the stone corridors, mostly empty if not for the occasional trainee hurrying past them on the way to his or her own morning practice session. There was beauty and decorations to be found within the expanses of the academy, but these things were mostly limited to the central section, wherein the more scientific pursuits took place, as well as the rare celebration, most often prompted by some national holiday being observed.

 

Their destination wasn't far away from the dormitory, but they kept a lively pace nonetheless, unwilling to call unnecessary attention to themselves or give the supervising officer a chance to become creative with just the latecomers, because that was never a pleasant experience.

 

At Colenso's prompting about their night, Cirrus just shrugged. "Same old, I suppose."

 

"The Heart of Darkness," grunted Midnight in agreement, not turning back. The name was one that Toad had heard - because it wasn't eavesdropping if you weren't doing it intentionally - from the high table during one of the rare celebrations when he chanced to pass it while the topic of then-last night's dream seemed to be discussed among the elite of their organization. "I miss dreaming of cute fillies and fantastic adventures in lieu of this enigmatic bull."

 

Cirrus clicked her tongue in mock annoyance. "Those were neither bull hooves nor bull eyes," she chided, "though the matter stinks, so I'll have to agree with you." Though his eyes remained beyond their vision, from the movement of the stallion's head it was plain that he raised them to the ceiling in search for patience. "At least we got to drag ourselves to beds at a fairly reasonable time yesterday, even if just for this measly spectacle."

 

"Yeah," agreed Midnight, and said no more, for they have arrived at their destination: by now, a perfectly familiar sight of the door leading to this particular training hall. To unused eyes, the door might look the same as any other construction of wood and metal, but to those who spent a few intense years in the academy, the various doorways became as recognizable as old friends, each carrying its own burden of often painful memories. There was no time to reminisce at present however, as the door was pushed open and the group strode inside, where a smattering of other students already awaited the lesson to begin. A few hushed voices were talking, as the unceasing rotations allowed for acquaintances to form between the different age groups.

 

Cat recognized two newbies who apparently showed a lot of potential, for they were pretty frequently shoved in between the much more advanced crowd. Meanwhile, Colenso's eye caught on a pegasus alumna he's had the doubtful fortune of meeting last week. The mare, whose name at the moment eluded his memory, was indeed a sight to behold, her coat a shade of blue so dark it bordered on black, with a mane of interwoven gray, gold and azure hair and piercing magenta eyes that looked with obvious disdain on the lower-tier Cadets around her. Others from the grand total of six ponies present were either too rarely beheld to be recognized or hadn't done anything memorable enough to be recalled by either of the two.

 

The hall itself was built so as to allow mostly any type of exercise imaginable in a confined environment - and not only, as it opened onto a wide, spacious balcony and the open aerial expanse over Pony Valley to meet the pegasi's specific training needs. Inside, there was a raised dais-like space pierced by a few claustrophobic tunnels; stairs and ledges raised far above the floor, as well as a few high platforms with no direct means of access. A little imagination allowed for practicing innumerable scenarios in this environment, and it was all spacious enough to practice any basic exercises as well.

 

They didn't need to wait long for the trainer to arrive, and once she has - 'she' being Major Flowing Tide, an experienced tutor, widely known and respected among the Cadets - they were all immediately set into motion, running laps, stretching, jumping and otherwise warming up for nigh on half an hour.

 

"Okay, that's enough!" Major Tide called, grabbing everyone's attention. Without needing to be told, the gathered officers quickly formed a double rank in front of her. "Today, let's start with some solo action, then we'll move to something more demanding. You know the rules; everything goes, the spells cast on this hall will stop you from beheading each other, but not from feeling pain, so no slacking! First blood or submission ends the duel. I'll be switching you up as I see fit if you finish too soon. All clear? Okay..." she proceeded to list the matches. Midnight got paired with the pegasus alumna in the first round, which got him compassionate glances from his peers, while Cirrus was to spar against one of the youngest officers. Last to be called out were Colenso and Carto against each other.

 

A piercing sound cut the air as Flowing Tide blew her whistle. "Begin!"

 

EDIT: Forgot to @@Once In A Blue Moon, @@Colenso Rivers.

Edited by Hederik
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Then he asked all of them with a tone of friendly interest, "By the way, how'd you all sleep?" He only hale-cared, he was only making sure they all had the same dream as he did.

 

 

 

 

"I miss dreaming of cute fillies and fantastic adventures in lieu of this enigmatic bull."

 

 

Cat made a non-committal noise, not being inclined to admit that she had found it unnerving. 

 

 

 

Last to be called out were Colenso and Carto against each other.

 

 

Cat immediately assessed her options. Colenso fought with throwing knives and a blade and being a unicorn they could attack from anywhere, bringing an embarrassingly early end to the duel. Usually throwing something at a unicorn would distract them, if only for a moment, but since he was skilled in using multiple weapons a single thrown item probably wouldn't be enough. He was also fast, her brain reminded her, so she needed to distract him on the first attempt or she would be too busy dodging sharp edges to try again. A single bullet from her sling wouldn't be enough, and she didn't have enough time to reach for it anyway, however...

 

 

 

A piercing sound cut the air as Flowing Tide blew her whistle. "Begin!"

 

 

Cat threw herself sideways, knowing that the knives would already be on their way, one hoof going for her bag of slingshot. Rather than taking one, she detached the whole bag and hurled it at Colenso with all her strength, flooding the air with moving targets and with luck breaking his concentration, if not his nose. Rolling and lurching back to her feet, cursing as a twinge in her side slowed her by an all-important fraction of a second, she charged Colenso. If she could get into close combat she would win, as beating a unicorn's head against the ground repeatedly was a tried and true way of breaking their concentration, but until then Colenso held all the cards.

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Hederik,

@@Once In A Blue Moon,

So they did have the dream, he had no doubt, even if their answers were less than desirable. He replied, "Well, I guess that's sleep now, but at least we feel somewhat rested." He remained quiet for the rest of the way, until he stepped in. He spotted the pegasus shortly after entering, he had met her last week. How could he forget, well other than her name anyways. She had made a fool of him, even if it wasn't apparent to the others. What made it worse, was his hormonal instincts told him that she was attractive. Damn, he hated himself for it. From that moment forward, he deliberately kept his eyes away from her. She made him feel too uneasy.

   Moments later, he was met by something finally set. He would be taking on the task of combat with Cat. He immediately went into his own mind in order to formulate a plan. What did he know, he knew she was capable in both long and short range combat, and that while she was somewhat lacking in her finesse, she possessed high levels of endurance, which could prove problematic.

   However, with his mindset, he felt more comfortable with letting his opponents move first, so he could assess the situation.

He stepped into the ring across from Cat and waved for a second before taking stance. Once the whistle was blown, he pulled his daggers out of their clips by the indigo glow of his horn, but Cat unexpectedly threw her entire bag of ammunition at him after a quick side step, which opened and dispersed in mid air. A distraction, a good one, he wasn't expecting one but he had to react. His knives dropped to the ground as he lost control by putting all of his focus on one forward pressing kinetic blast. Half his unicorn magic energy was put behind the blast, and the ammunition shot back towards Cat. With that done, he pulled out his carver and left two of his knives where they laid, picking up the last. He had just barely enough time to set his carver defensively in front of him and holding his knife back in a counter-action stance.

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His knives dropped to the ground as he lost control by putting all of his focus on one forward pressing kinetic blast. Half his unicorn magic energy was put behind the blast, and the ammunition shot back towards Cat. With that done, he pulled out his carver and left two of his knives where they laid, picking up the last. He had just barely enough time to set his carver defensively in front of him and holding his knife back in a counter-action stance.

 

 Tucking her head in, Cat went straight through the shower of lead. Thankfully the shot had nothing like the power they would have from a sling, which would almost certainly have been lethal, but that didn't make the dozen or so impacts sting any less. As her head went back up, she saw Colenso raising his carver and realised that she was already too late. Going straight through his block would probably result in a nasty gash, but backing away now would guarantee defeat, as he could just keep her at a distance and strike from every angle. 

 

Probably isn't a certainty, right? She thought to herself, ducking her head again. As she went in straight at the carver, she went down on her front knees and flicked her head up, trying to knock the carver out of the air by its blunt side and then leap at Colenso. Victory was quite literally within her grasp, but defeat was also quite literally inches away from her head. Let's see how fast you are.

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Once In A Blue Moon,

She pressed through the shower, Not surprising, she was an earth pony, and her advantage laid in close combat, but she was trained alongside him, and that meant she wasn't stupid, why would she just charge into the blade. Too little time to question, he aimed low, the dagger shooting to her legs as she got uncomfortably close.

Things didn't go as planned, taking her legs out from underneath her turned into taking an eye with her kneeling down. "Oh sh**!" He cried, diverting the path of the knife before things became gory. However, if he lost this easily, he would only be proving he wasn't ready. He still had magic left, and he would use it, and dissapeared in an indigo flash appearing behind her on the other side of the arena. He could accept defeat, just not without giving it his all, and so that's what he did. Gave it his all, heart and mind, into a new technique. Something he called the flash charge, he would expend all his magic, holding his blade at his side in an offensive pose, he started a sprint forward and "teleported" immediately after he started, but only a few feet, continued his sprint and "teleported" again the same distance. These teleportational methods where actually more associated with kinetic energy and gravity than a standard teleportation, and so he was accelerating at an exceptional rate, but this technique was more about misdirection than anything else, he was hoping the fact she hadn't experienced this attack before assisted the fact that he ended the attack by striking from the flank of the opponent. However, if he missed, he was finished. Damnit, why'd you have to kneel...

Edited by Colenso Rivers
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"Oh sh**!" He cried, diverting the path of the knife before things became gory.

 

Cat cursed as the dagger cut through her mane, deciding that if she was going to try this stunt again then a metal cap and face-plate would be called for. Then Colenso disappeared in a flash of light mere inches from her, and she just about had time to think I didn't know he could do that before she crashed into the spot he had been occupying with a stinging pain in her right hind leg. Looking back, she saw Colenso standing behind her with his carver, and a line of blood just above her hock.

 

"Oh buck," she grumbled, and although the result was hardly a surprise she still felt irritated with herself; she didn't like losing, even if her opponent was better than her, and with her combat scores struggling to reach above 'adequate' most of them fell into that category. Suppressing her bad mood, she forced a smile and nodded to him as she stood up, "Nice one," she said, giving him a congratulatory hoof-bump to the shoulder, "I didn't know you could do that little trick."

 

@@Hederik.

 

Her eyes also flickered around the room, hoping that not too many of her roommates had seen the result. Midnight in particular could be especially annoying - he still mocked Cat about their first duel, which had been goodness-knows how long ago now, where he had simply laughed at the slingshot bouncing off his metal armour before beating her to a pulp with his metal-clad hooves and telekinesis. Unicorns, she grumbled to herself, then realised she was frowning again and went poker-faced. Speaking of, she wondered if he was getting a hard time from his current opponent - that would cheer her up.

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Once In A Blue Moon,

Colenso quickly put a hold on his flash charge and approached, pulling his daggers off the ground and withdrawing his weapons. He looked back at her wound and to her mane and winced, apologizing, "I'm so terribly sorry, are you okay?" Now he felt wrong for winning. Truth told, he knew she struggled when it came to combat, and it wasn't her fault. She tried so hard, and it broke his heart to see her barely hanging on. She knew defeat so many times, and hindsight told him he wanted her to win. His stupid ego got in the way, in the way of making a real friend.

He gave her a half hearted smile, he was nothing but a jerk picking on those less capable, as he walked past her. He was less worried about how she would fair. She had heart, something he couldn't share. This was only means to and end, and if fighting was expected of him, then killing would eventually be. Guilt filled his mouth and he had to hold back his sigh of despair. He wished he was the mindless buffoon he pretended to be. He looked out towards the others whom he would join, and the pegasus. Did he win so vehemently to prove himself to her? Well, he was a fool to think that that would make him have worth in any eyes but the shallow sighted.

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@@Once In A Blue Moon, @@Colenso Rivers

 

As though summoned by Cat's thought, Midnight appeared close to her all of a sudden. Very close, at a staggering velocity and from a rather unexpected direction. Her reflex in ducking proved to be a blessing once again, as the heavily armored unicorn zoomed right over her and crashed into one of the square columns dividing the training hall from its balcony, hard enough to crack the stone. Moments later, he landed with a clangor in an unconscious sprawl beneath a hail of minute rubble from the damaged structure. A derisive snort sounded from somewhere above the two officers, and a moment later Midnight's opponent landed next to him, proceeding to kick him in the side to turn the unicorn face up.

 

"He's out!" she called to the major, trotting towards her without a second glance at the beaten younger officer.

 

The supervisor turned towards them from watching an aerial pursuit in which Cirrus chased her appointed young competitor, who was proving too elusive too get hit by any of projectiles despite the older pegasus mare having presented her keen eye on many occasions before. The other two pairs were going at it still as well. Flowing Tide frowned at the sight of the downed unicorn, but then just shrugged.

 

"Well, you're the only three left for the time being. It's only fair then," she paused long enough to deftly catch a stray blade that came whirring from behind her with the tip of her wing, probably another missile of Cirrus's that went wide of its mark, "that I should group you all up. With you two as a unit," she added with a nod towards Carto and Colenso. "Oh, and Ardent Rush. No going beyond the pillars."

 

"Yes ma'am," responded the younger mare, saluting briefly with her wing, after which she broke into a sprint towards the prone body of their defeated peer, calling over her shoulder, "I'll give you two squirts a second to regroup!" Reaching the pillar, she jumped lightly over her previous opponent, flapped her wings once to re-stabilize herself on the vertical surface and turned into a cobalt blur as she sped upwards towards one of the elevated platforms, disappearing from sight in a heartbeat.

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"I'm so terribly sorry, are you okay?"

 

 

"I'm fine, it's just my pride that's a little sore..."  Cat said, looking back at him, stopping as she saw Colenso's expression.

 

 

He gave her a half hearted smile, he was nothing but a jerk picking on those less capable

 

 

"Come on, you won fair and square. And we'd both be for it if the major thought you were letting me off easy," she continued, trying to reassure him, "If it..." She saw him looking across the room, and followed his gaze.

 

 

He looked out towards the others whom he would join, and the pegasus. Did he win so vehemently to prove himself to her?

 

A grin spread across her face. She opened her mouth, but whatever she was about to say died on her lips as she saw what was flying towards her.

 

 

Her reflex in ducking proved to be a blessing once again, as the heavily armored unicorn zoomed right over her and crashed into one of the square columns dividing the training hall from its balcony, hard enough to crack the stone. Moments later, he landed with a clangor in an unconscious sprawl beneath a hail of minute rubble from the damaged structure.

 

"That's it, I'm going to get a helmet after this," she said, "Getting my backside kicked is one thing, but my head I am kind of fond of. That Ardent is quite something though, eh?" she gave Colenso a prod for emphasis, watching for a reaction to validate her theory.

 

 

I should group you all up. With you two as a unit," she added with a nod towards Carto and Colenso. "Oh, and Ardent Rush. No going beyond the pillars."   "Yes ma'am," responded the younger mare, saluting briefly with her wing, after which she broke into a sprint towards the prone body of their defeated peer, calling over her shoulder, "I'll give you two squirts a second to regroup!"

 

Peering up after Ardent Rush, Cat removed her knife from a sheath further back on her armour and stabbed it down into an ammo bag tied to her side. Checking that it was firmly enough in place that it wouldn't fall out, she whispered to Colenso whilst readying her sling, still scouring the room for her opponent.

 

"If she grabs me, float the knife up and jab her with it. Preferably before we reach a bone-shattering altitude, or it'll take more than a massage to sort me out this evening."

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Once In A Blue Moon,

Cat trying to cheer him up, but he might as well have humored her, which he smiled for and responded, "Yeah, I guess she would be upset." But was caught off guard as Midnight flew over the head of Cat. He turned to Cat and held out his hoof to help her up, asking yet again, "Cat, you okay?"

But then she asked about the one named Ardent, an answer he really had to think about. He took a moment then looked towards the ground and answered, "I don't really know"

Another fight, he didn't want to, considering his magic was at about halfway drained, but if he only stuck with telekinesis, he would be fine. Anyways, if he had to he could break out one or two more spells. He gently laid one of his throwing knives at her feet and added, "Hide it; A nasty surprise."

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@@Once In A Blue Moon, @@Colenso Rivers

 

A dark shape fell from near the hall's ridiculously high ceiling a good distance away from the pair while they were exchanging plans. Just as they finished talking, it appeared seemingly out of nowhere, already wedged in between them and traveling at a breakneck speed. The action that followed took a fraction of a second, as the pegasus, apparently in the middle of a corkscrew spin, used its momentum to slam a punch into Colenso Void's side. The struck area was covered by armor - luckily, for the force alone was enough to make the stallion stagger in place, unable to jump away or do anything else as two strong forelegs wrapped around his neck, allowing Ardent Rush to deliver a powerful kick with both of her hind legs, aimed at the side of Carto Sketch's neck. The earth pony found herself pushed away a good few feet, but managed to hold her vertical position. The pegasus alumna didn't skip a beat, expertly using the opposite force from her kick to throw herself behind the unicorn, still holding his neck withing a tight lock. This resulted in Colenso being thrown violently backwards, flipping in the air as his attacker landed gracefully right behind where he stood so shortly before. She paused long enough to hear the sound of two almost concurrent crashes - one behind her as Void finally met with the floor, and another from above, where Cirrus eventually managed to outmaneuver the younger officer, causing him to ram into a wall at a high velocity. With the moment gone, hardly long enough to let her two victims register what had happened, she lunged at the earth pony mare, whom she expected to find stunned by the hit she had received, paying no mind to the unicorn for the time being.

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allowing Ardent Rush to deliver a powerful kick with both of her hind legs, aimed at the side of Carto Sketch's neck. The earth pony found herself pushed away a good few feet, but managed to hold her vertical position.

 

 

Pain lanced through Cat's side, and she dropped the throwing knife that Colenso had passed to her, along with her sling. She could see the knife below her now, and a plan started to form in her head.

 

 

With the moment gone, hardly long enough to let her two victims register what had happened, she lunged at the earth pony mare, whom she expected to find stunned by the hit she had received, paying no mind to the unicorn for the time being.

 

 

If there was one upside to being constantly outmatched it was that she could take a beating or two and keep going - those that couldn't dropped out. She'd also seen what had happened to Midnight, however, so taking a direct hit seemed foolhardy at best. Her course of action decided, she threw herself down and tucked her head in, grabbing the knife in her teeth whilst bracing for impact. Ardent might be able to send over half a ton of metal and pony flying across the room, but hitting Carto whilst she was braced against the floor wouldn't go well. And if it doesn't work, Cat thought to herself, maybe she'll have finished bragging before I wake up. 

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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@@Hederik,

His finesse couldn't prepare him for the sheer speed which his opponent possessed, and the fact that he was caught highly unprepared for another bull rush became immediately apparent. The air was torn from his lungs and he could feel the impact of the Pegasus run deep in his ribs, the moment growing even worse when her hooves wrapped around his neck and he was tossed away like a rag doll. It was almost surreal, being thrashed around like an insignificant pest. He hated it as much as he like it, which was a lot. There was no time to psychoanalyze himself thought, he had to act. He shook off his dizzies and painfully lifted himself off the ground and picked up his blade. Now was the time, no planning ahead, only swiping the Pegasus's crutch out from underneath her. You'll pay for doubting me. With the rest of his magical stores, a series of arcane rings and runes formed along his horn and glowed in his eyes, and at the same moment, around Ardent, revolving around her in different orbital paths momentarily before they collapsed upon her form and dissipated with a violet glow. From that point and for a couple of minutes, she suddenly became twice her weight, and as an additional effect to the spell, gravity between her and the world would increase the higher the altitude she achieved. Also, as a side effect of the spell, Colenso fell to the floor as the rings in his eyes and around his horn collapsed, he was all out of energy. "Give her hell." He said weakly with a smile.

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@@Once In A Blue Moon

 

Utilizing high speed in battle requires lightning reflexes of the user, most often making up tactics on the move, adapting their half-cooked ideas to the rapidly changing environment. Therefore, the charging pegasus didn't lose her cool even as she found herself being pushed downwards with some external pressure, forcing her onto a crash course with an armed earth pony. The other mare was clearly prepared for a ramming attack, and working around this in so short a space of time wasn't a possibility, so Ardent Rush decided on the next best option. She swung one foreleg to intercept a possible attempt at being stabbed, which at this angle could at best result in a shallow wound, while attempting a sideways punch with the other, attempting to push herself away from her opponent more than harm her in any way. It worked, albeit halfway only, as the downwards pull proved a nuisance once again, and the pegasus slammed in passing into Carto Sketch, pushing her a little but not doing anything beyond.

 

Ardent, meanwhile, either because of Colenso's spell or the loss of control caused by her collision, failed her attempt to roll neatly on the floor next to Carto and landed heavily on her back instead, skidding painfully several feet with a screech of the metal plates in her armor against the stone floor. To her credit, she did at the end of said crash landing push off the ground with a wing and skillfully regained her footing.

 

Expecting this to knock the fight out of the pegasus would have been too much, however. Proving herself to be almost as fast on her hooves as in the air, the elder officer ran up to Cat before she knew it, assaulting her frontally with two immediate punches, one of which knocked the knife out of grip, rattling her teeth, while the other was directed straight at her chest, being painful if nothing else.

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She swung one foreleg to intercept a possible attempt at being stabbed, which at this angle could at best result in a shallow wound, while attempting a sideways punch with the other, attempting to push herself away from her opponent more than harm her in any way. It worked, albeit halfway only, as the downwards pull proved a nuisance once again, and the pegasus slammed in passing into Carto Sketch, pushing her a little but not doing anything beyond.

 

Holding sharp objects in one's mouth wasn't advisable, even with the few weapons or tools that were designed with that as an option, and throwing knives were sleek and aerodynamic and absolutely not designed for earth ponies or mouths, compounding the problem. As such, Ardent's block had loosened her grip on the knife, and she was rather concerned that if it slipped the wrong way it would make quite the mess of her mouth. As such, she was almost relieved when Ardent knocked the knife out of her mouth. The black eye she could do without, but all her teeth stayed in. The blow to the chest she ought to have been able to block, but she was still rattled from the speed and force of the attack and didn't react in time. She was able to roll with the blow, which combined with her natural resilience meant that it didn't do any serious harm, but the way the pegasus was able to just keep coming at her was concerning.

 

When Cat occasionally managed to win, it was usually because she could get in close and stay there, wearing her opponent down by hitting harder than she was hit back and being the last pony standing. Ardent must know this, so either she thought that Cat was weak enough to take down quickly or else she was about to disengage and prepare for another strike. Momentum is her weapon, Cat thought suddenly, so long as she can move, her acceleration and dexterity allow her to hit with such force whilst avoiding taking too much of a beating. That meant that she had to get in even closer - she couldn't leave her opponent any room to maneuver. Ardent's close-combat skills were also a consideration, as she was clearly extremely capable, and a solid blow to the right place would put even an earth pony out like a light. 

 

Gathering her hind legs beneath her, Carto leapt forwards at the pegasus, refusing to give her any space or let any distance be put between them. Rather than throw herself off balance and compromise her defence by using a foreleg to strike at her, she chose instead to headbutt her, relying once again on her solid build to take the hit and keep going. She also watched Ardent's hooves, which she seemed to prefer using as a weapon over her wings, wary of a blow to her neck. Come on airhead, lets see if that skull of yours can survive a Cart crash.

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@@Once In A Blue Moon 

 

Ardent reacted in time to avoid the brunt of the attack by rearing suddenly. This did mean that she took it full force in the chest, which would knock the air out of anyone's lungs. Before that happened, however, she managed two quick, nonconsequential punches square into Carto's head, in her haste not aiming for any particular spot. When the headbutt did connect, Cat had a fleeting moment to wonder at how light her competitor seemed before finding herself on the receiving end of another kick, again delivered with both of the pegasus's rear hooves, as Ardent masterfully turned the ramming push into rotational energy mid-air. Her hooves connected with the younger mare's neck in a way that nearly choked her and forced her into a rearing stance of her own for just a moment. In an incredible show of flexibility, the pegasus alumna finished the backflip resulting from her kick, ending the whole lightning-fast exchange in the very same position she had occupied a second before. Exploiting the momentary weakness in the earth pony's footing, she bore forwards with her own tackle, diving under Cat's raised forelegs. Before the younger officer knew what was going on, she found herself stunned on the floor, all air forced out of her from the combination of the kick and being thrown down on her back hard. Ardent Rush was standing over her, the graduate's breathing slightly quickened and one front leg pressing lightly on the downed pony's larynx in a clear gesture of victory.

 

Having given her defeated counterpart enough time to process the outcome, she stepped off and reached a hoof out to Cat to help her up. "You're on tough pony, girl," she said, flashing her a brief smile, then trotted over to Midnight and began a halfhearted attempt at making him come to.

 

In a less than surprising result, half of the ten officers who came to this particular training were by now temporarily incapacitated. The teaching methods surely were rough, but those training for the worst circumstances should expect nothing less. As for those who were left standing, Cirrus was now apparently paired up with the other youngling, this one a unicorn, against the remaining two. For now, that left no available opponents for the earth pony mare.

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(edited)

When the headbutt did connect, Cat had a fleeting moment to wonder at how light her competitor seemed before finding herself on the receiving end of another kick, again delivered with both of the pegasus's rear hooves, as Ardent masterfully turned the ramming push into rotational energy mid-air. Her hooves connected with the younger mare's neck in a way that nearly choked her and forced her into a rearing stance of her own for just a moment.

 

 

For a moment Cat could smell blood in the water - she was inside the pegasus' guard, the blows to her head had barely phased her and if she could convert the ram into a tackle she could pummel the pegasus into the ground. Then the blow connected with her neck, and Cat couldn't tell if she blacked out or if it had all happened too fast to take in. The next thing she knew was hitting the ground with a solid crash that seemed to be Ardent's main contribution to the officer cadets' education, with the pegasus bearing down on her.

 

 

Ardent Rush was standing over her, the graduate's breathing slightly quickened and one front leg pressing lightly on the downed pony's larynx in a clear gesture of victory.

 

 

The small part of Cat's brain that had powered her through the blows and the pain wanted to spit in her vanquisher's face, and to fight until she physically couldn't fight any more, but the logical part of her brain intervened. There was a point at which defiance became willful self harm, and for all the dark moments when Cat thought that this whole business was a futile exercise in self-punishment she knew that accepting you were beaten wasn't the same as giving up. There's always a next time, she told herself, taking Ardent's outstretched hoof.

 

 

"You're on tough pony, girl," she said, flashing her a brief smile

 

 

"Thanks," she answered, somewhat pathetically, embaressment and pride tinging her voice. She had, at least, learnt how to appear gracious in defeat, though that seemed to happen a bit too often recently. All the will, but none of the skill, she thought, permitting herself a moment of self-pity as Ardent trotted away. Then, as the adrenaline wore off, her back reminder her that she had fallen on it, and with innumerable muscles adding their complaints to the list she quickly sat down before she toppled over. She also realised that she was still bleeding from Colenso's strike, so she pulled a bandage out of her webbing and wrapped it tight around the wound. That should do for now. 

 

@@Colenso Rivers

Remembering that she had last seen Colenso flying across the room, Ardent really likes to show off that move, she looked around for him, whilst also surveying the carnage. At least I'm still upright, she thought to herself, looking around at her fellow officer cadets scattered liberally across the room in various states of concussion and shock. Spotting Colenso, she trotted over to see how he was doing.

 

"Like I said, quite something," Cat remarked, holding out a hoof to help him up, any bitterness gone thanks to their shared efforts against the pegasus, "You ok?" she added, as something of an afterthought. She considered prodding him further about his feeling towards Ardent, but decided that she didn't want to break this moment of camaraderie quite yet. For all he acted the happy-go-lucky fool, she knew that there was a brain whirring away underneath and she doubted he wanted to discuss the matter at the moment. "You know what, I think I might take you up on that offer of a massage after all. You can't be any worse at it than she was - my back feels like a mountain fell on it..." and with that she fell into her usual routine of moaning about this, that and the other.  

Edited by Once In A Blue Moon
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