Chapter 8: Experiment
Ashni shifted uncomfortably, wires and clips digging into her. The purple unicorn was fiddling with some dials, but turned around to reprimand her.
"Please hold still or I can't get a proper reading." Turning back to the machine, she pressed a few more buttons on a machine that seemed to be making a clear "ping" on the occasions where stuff was located.
("I can't! I feel energized, like I should be doing...something. How long did you say this would take?") The sylph questioned, still fidgeting despite Twilight's warning.
The pony sighed. "Not too much longer. I'm just trying to find out how you absorbed that lightning-and what you did with it. Hold this, please." She held out a wire with a strange device reminiscent of an electrode at the end. Ashni stared at it unsurely, but held it as Twilight requested. "Perfect! Now..." The unicorn gestured excitedly to a thin metal pole. Hit this with a little lightning bolt. The smallest that you can do."
Ashni was back at the library, currently residing in Twilight's own basement, outfitted to serve as a laboratory. After Twilight had dragged her away, she had been hooked up to a menagerie of strange monitoring equipment, supposedly in an attempt to measure "electromagic power". The bemused sylph couldn't tell whether that was supposed to a pun or not. And now here she was, about to shoot a bolt of lightning at a metal pole. Go figure.
("Okay. Stand back.") Ashni pushed the power into her hand, but cut it off straight away, so only a small amount of charge was stored, before released it. A flickering spark about the thickness of a piece of string jumped to the pole.
"How was that? Do you feel any different? Weaker? Hungry?" Interrogated the curious unicorn eagerly.
Ashni considered the question. ("Not really.")
Twilight examined one of the machines thoughtfully. "Yes, the machine shows only a negligible change in electromagnetic levels. Alright!" Donning a pair of goggles from who-knows-where, she pointed at the rod once again. "This time, hit it with the strongest bolt you can! Don't be shy, electrocute with the energy! Let loose with the lightning! Stun it with a storm!" She cheered, in a worryingly gleeful voice. Ashni looked doubtful.
("Most powerful? Are you sure? I can muster some serious bluster, when needed.") Although in truth, Ashni wasn't quite sure what her most powerful would be like. Twilight waved away her concerns.
"Oh, don't worry. I enchanted that myself. There's no way that you could overload the enchantment causing a catastrophic magical backlash resulting in an arcane detonation strong enough to level the entirety of Ponyville!" That didn't exactly make her feel any better. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Ashni shrugged and, gesturing for Twilight to stand back, began to build up power, more power than she had before. Soon her hand began to vibrate slightly, in effort to hold the energies. Drawing the path to the pole, she prepared to release it.
The enormous lightning bolt crackled through the air, striking the pole with a thunderous crash. A monitor starting smoking, and Twilight enveloped it in magic to extinguish it.
"See? What did I say?" Said Twilight nonchalantly, surreptitiously lowering the shield she had raised just in case. "Perfectly fine." She trotted over to one of the more intact devices, and spoke again after examining it for a moment.
"So how do you feel now?"
("That time took a lot out of me. I feel sorta drained. And some of that hunger is back.") Twilight nodded, as if she had known all along and had just wanted to hear it for herself.
"I thought so. Now!" She levitated the Storm Sapphire over from where it had been resting prior. "I think you said that you drained power from this before?" Without waiting for confirmation, she continued. "Can you do it again?"
Ashni shrugged. ("Okay, I guess.") Holding out her hand to the gem, she attempted to form the connection that she had made earlier. This proved easier than before, and soon the current flowed from the azure gemstone and into her, its crystalline surface fading to a monochromatic grey. When she was done, Twilight scrutinized the jewel, sparks of energy still jittering across its surface.
"Hmm. This is what it looked like when we first saw you! Did you find it like this?" The unicorn inquired.
("No, it looked like it did before: blue.") The sylph rubbed her chin thoughtfully. ("Funny thing, out of all of the jewels and trinkets in the dragon's hoard, this one seemed to...call out to me, almost.") Twilight's eyes gleamed with curiosity.
"Oh? That's rather interesting, considering your predilection for electrical magics."
("Well, I can't actually use any other magic.") Ashni said sheepishly. Twilight's ears twitched in interest.
"Really?" The purple mare returned the jewel to Ashni, having finished her examination. "That's odd. Most creatures with magic are capable of a plethora of complex spells, even if most don't learn them. Are all members of your species like that?"
Ah, darn it. More difficult species questions. Well, I suppose honesty is the best policy in this case. Well, sort of honesty.
("No, just me.") Ashni said as casually as she could manage; she did not want Twilight prying to deeply into her hastily constructed fabrications.
"Interesting." Twilight murmured, eyes seemingly staring straight through her. "Electromagic is one of the purest forms of magic; as it is literally pure magic given the shape of lightning." The unicorn recited absently. "The fact that you cannot form your magic into more complex shapes, along with the abilities that you have exhibited, suggests that your arcane physiology is more of a...conduit of sorts...you're absolutely sure that you cannot perform any other magic? Not even telekinesis?"
Whilst Ashni was obviously worried that the mare in front of her may find out more than she was comfortable with, she would be lying if she said that she was uninterested in what Twilight was saying.
("I'm positive.") She wasn't, but the sylph knew that saying that she wasn't would result in more tests, and there had been quite enough of those.
"Well, I've never heard of something like this before...but the library has lots of books, maybe there's something that I've forgotten?" She pondered. After a moment, she shook herself out of her thoughts. "Anyway, before you go..." A sinister looking medical syringe floated to her side. "I would like to take a blood sample, if that's okay with you." She said with a smile that Ashni felt was inappropriately cheerful, considering the subject matter of sticking a needle inside her and draining her blood.
("Uh...with that needle?") Was the nervous reply.
Twilight laughed easily. "Oh, it's fine, just a little prick, you won't even feel it. I promise."
Ashni sighed and held out her arm in defeat. ("Okay, just make it quick.") She winced as the needle drained a small amount of blood.
Twilight placed the container filled with blood in one of the machines. "That wasn't so bad was it?" Her expression turned sheepish. "Uh, sorry about dragging you down here, by the way. I just get like that when there's something that I don't understand."
("Oh, no, it's no trouble. You did save my life, after all. I kinda owe you one.") Pointed out the temporary patient.
"Oh, I didn't do much. Spike found you. Um, what will you do now? You could walk around town; get a feel for it, if you want?"
Ashni nodded; she hadn't really gotten a chance to see Ponyville by herself, and was interested to explore this new, but familiar world. She said goodbye to Twilight and her assistant, and left the library. After she had left, Twilight turned back to her work.
"Spike! Could you get that copy of "Fantastical Forms of Magic" please?" The unicorn called up.
"Right away, Twilight!" Came the reply. Good.
There was research to be done.
Rainbow Dash was a mare on a mission. That mission: uncover evidence of the dastardly deeds that the sylph had no doubt committed. The first step...interrogation.
The chromatic Pegasus adjusted the spotlight, and turned to the pony in the seat; a brown coated earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark.
"So. You're saying that you know absolutely nothing about the activities of the creature known as Ashni, then?" She asked with a glare.
The unfortunate pony squirmed in discomfort under the accusing gaze of the mare. "Yes! I don't even know what that is! Can I go now?" He pleaded.
A few more moments passed, whilst Rainbow glared at him a bit more. "Alright. You can go. But I'm watching you!" She said after she had decided that she had glared at her victim long enough. As he ran, eager to be away from this crazy mare as soon as possible, Rainbow considered what she had seen and heard. There was definitely something strange about "Ashni". If that was it's real name. First there was that thing with the weather; that storm had moved with "Ashni" and disappeared when Twilight dragged it off. And then there was that outburst at Sugarcube Corner...Dash shook her head in frustration. There was no way she could solve this on her own. She needed assistance, from someone down-to-earth, someone with common sense. Someone like...
"Rainbow Dash! Don't you run away from me this time!" Called a familiar, and angry, sounding voice.
"Applejack! Just the mare I needed to see. Listen, I've been keeping an eye on that "Ashni" person, and I saw a whole bunch of really suspicious stuff! I know it all means something, but I can't figure it out! If I can just-"
"Rainbow!" Applejack interrupted. "Look, ah find this just as suspicious as you, but you can't just go around spying on somepony!" Rainbow folded her forelegs and huffed.
"Why not?”Ashni" is probably doing it! Besides, it worked! I found out lots!" Applejack sighed.
"Look...wait. Ya did?" The earth pony said in a surprised tone.
"Yeah!" Replied Rainbow Dash indignantly. "Did you notice any weird weather patterns? Like storms out of nowhere?"
Applejack looked thoughtful. "Why as a matter of fact ah-"
"They were following it!" The blue Pegasus continued. "And not long a go it went crazy, and started shouting at Pinkie for no reason!"
"Why, that no good-"
"And get this!" Rainbow interrupted once again. "She flew up into the storm...and ate the lightning! How weird is that?"
"Very." Applejack said dryly, obviously irritated about the constant interruptions "Now ah reckon the best thing to do would be to go see Pinkie, see how she feels about this. There might be something we're missin', and we don't want to be being to hasty now." She glared at Rainbow pointedly. "Do we?"
The brash Pegasus rolled her eyes. "Sure, whatever. Now let’s go!" She made to dash off, but while the rest of her moved forwards, her tail lagged noticeably behind.
"Oh, no you don't!" Said Applejack with a mouthful of tail hair. You are walkin' this time." The farmer pony raised an eyebrow. "Or do ah have to drag ya?
"But walking is boring!" Rainbow Dash protested. "Can I at least hover?"
"Fine." Applejack relinquished the Pegasus’s tail and trotted alongside her. "But ah have ta ask: what's gotten y'all riled up about that one, Rainbow?"
The Pegasus in question stopped, putting her hoof to her chin in an oddly human gesture of thought.
"Well, ever since the whole Discord thing, I've been thinking. About how that creep was able to get me to abandon you guys so easily! I almost doomed the whole of Equestria!" A look of steely determination appeared in Dash's eyes. "I made a promise to never give in that easily again! And I guess I just feel responsible for what almost happened, so I've been on the lookout for weird stuff happening, and this "Ashni" character is practically the definition of weird! And from what we've heard, she is dangerous. So keeping an eye on her is the sensible thing to do, don'tcha think?"
Applejack gave a small smile. "Well, Rainbow. That is awful noble of you." she said. "Surprisingly noble." She continued with a smirk.
Rainbow Dash put her hooves behind her head in a display of nonchalance that was ruined by the proud grin she wore.
"Heh, well, what can I say? Who's gonna save Equestria if not Rainbow Dash!" She exclaimed, striking a pose that had been carefully rehearsed for maximum awesomeness. "Besides." She continued. "It's not like I have anything better to do."
Applejack just rolled her eyes in amusement.
The two mares reached Sugarcube Corner just in time to catch their pink and excitable target bouncing out of the door.
"Hey, Pinkie!" Rainbow Dash called, causing the candy floss coloured earth pony to turn towards them.
She waved enthusiastically. "Oh, hi, Dashie! Hi AJ! Whatcha doin'?" Bubbled Pinkie.
Rainbow ignored the question. "Actually, Pinkie, we need to talk to you."
Pinkie giggled in response. "Well, we're talking right now, silly!"
Applejack cut in. "We were hopin' ta speak with yer about that little incident that happened earlier on, sugarcube."
"We're on an investigation!" Rainbow Dash added.
The hyperactive mare squealed with delight. "Ooh, an investigation!? I can help, I can help! Let me get my hat and pipe!" She dashed off to a nearby tree, and reaching into a hollow, pulled out a hat and pipe such as those which would be found in a detective novel. Donning them both, she rushed back.
"Detective Pinkie, at your service!" Said Detective Pinkie, blowing mysteriously into the bubble pipe.
Her friends just stood staring for a moment. Looking between the tree and her. At their questioning looks, she said:
"Oh, I keep hats and pipes stashed all over Ponyville! In case of detective emergencies! So, what needs solving!"
Shaking off the sudden Pinkie induced coma, Applejack spoke. "Look, Pinkie. We jus' need ta ask yer a few questions, is all."
"Aww..." The party pony's lip started quivering, and she looked up at Applejack with eyes glistening with tears.
"...Ye' can keep the hat and pipe."
"Yipee!" Exclaimed Pinkie, returning to her previous cheerful demeanor.
"Now, the questions?" Interjected an exasperated Rainbow Dash.
"Oh, of course! What do you want to know?" The co-operative mare said brightly.
"It's about that 'Ashni' guy. You know, when he went crazy, started screaming at you? Why did he do that?"
"Oh, that. It was kinda scary, actually! I was just talking to her about the party I was planning, when she totally just started shouting at me! I don't know what she was saying, but it didn't sound very nice!" She smiled brightly. "But it was okay, she said she was sorry afterwards, and that she only did it because she was hungry. Which is weird, 'cause I don't go all shouty when I'm hungry, but what can you do? Then she ate some lightning!"
Dash turned to Applejack. "See? It goes crazy and shouts at Pinkie because she was hungry for some lightning! What happens if it gets hungry again and someone happens to be in it's way? It's could be way worse than a bit of yelling!" Pinkie tilted her head.
"Why are you investigating Ashni, anyway? You were alright when you met her."
The blue Pegasus rolled her eyes. "Well duh! I'm not completely paranoid! At first she seemed okay, really weird looking and kinda strange, but okay. Then I noticed all the crazy weather following her! Which was kinda suspicious, don't you think? It's like she brings the Everfree with her, or something. And then she snapped at you, Pinkie, which practically confirmed my suspicions! She's up to no good!"
Applejack placed a hoof onto the worked up mare's shoulder. "Or she was havin' a bad day, what with bein' almost killed, 'n all." She sighed. "Look, ah'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for all this. Don't get yer wings in a twist over this. Isn't she supposed to be stayin' with Fluttershy? We could-"
"She's staying with Fluttershy!?" Shouted Dash in alarm. "What if it reveals it's true colours! Fluttershy's too meek to defend herself! What the hay was she thinking!" She continued her outburst, the worst outcomes playing through her mind.
"But Fluttershy takes care of dangerous animals all the time, sugarcube. Ah think sometimes you forget that."
"But this is different!" The riled up pony wouldn't be soothed. "We've never seen anything like this guy before! She's never seen anything like him before! What if he's a secret assassin!?" Applejack looked at her skeptically.
"What?" Rainbow defended. "He could be!"
Pinkie giggled. "Well, you can ask her yourself! She's right there!" A pink foreleg pointed off behind the other mares, who turned to look.
Walking through town, I began to think about what had happened. Apparently I'm a conduit then. Whatever that is. Still, one step closer to actually finding out what these powers are. Apart from just magic, that's a stupid explanation. And I managed to avoid properly answering a tricky question! If I keep this up, I'll be fine. Grinning at my deviousness, my mind shifted to other things. I hope that I don't have to keep it up forever, though. I need to find a way to get home. I need to see my family again. My brother must be worried. I looked to the skies, as if he would be able to see me. Don't worry, I'll get home soon...uh...um...
I had forgotten my brother’s name.
I panicked slightly, I must admit. E! It began with e, I'm sure! Or was it g? I thought about it as hard as I could, but all I could seem to remember was a kind word, a protective hug. I knew that I had a brother.
So why could I remember nothing about him? I knew I had been gone a while, but not that long. The same went for the rest of my family. All of them a vague blur. It was disturbing, to say the least. However, there was nothing I could do about it. I would remember when I got home, for sure.
if I got home.
Deciding to clear my head of these thoughts for the time being, (which I had been doing a lot recently) I moved through the town, taking note of all the shops and buildings that were not shown in the show. It was an interesting experience, and I felt slightly privileged to see the inner workings of Ponyville, the very town that hundreds dream of going to.
Although, I wasn't all that excited by it, even if common sense dictates that I should. I had no idea why. I began to contemplate the fact that I had not seen many of the Mane Six recently; just Pinkie and Twilight. It was odd, as I was used to seeing them as the focus of the show. It was interesting to see the other ponies though. And they didn't look the same or similar as they often did in the show, they were each clearly unique. I could even recognise a few from their colouring, even though they looked different.
Stopping, I realised where I had reached. Sugarcube Corner, one of the only places in Ponyville that I had visited. I could see Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack standing in front of it, and the latter two appeared to be having an argument of some sort. Suddenly Pinkie Pie blurted out something, pointing over to me. When Rainbow Dash looked over and saw me, her expression became one of suspicion and anger.
Oh, dear. The serious looking Pegasus flew over and glared at me. It was adorable, really.
"I know you're up to something!" She said in an accusatory tone.
("Huh?") I couldn't talk to them, but 'Huh' is really universal.
"You know! What's with the weird weather? I know you caused it! And you go crazy at Pinkie, and now you expect me to stand by and let you stay with Fluttershy?
I won't let you lay a single...whatever those things are on her!" Applejack had reached us by this point and placed a hoof on the aggravated mare's shoulder.
"Now, now, Rainbow. Just calm down. Like ah said, we should ask her what's going on." She turned to me with a stern look in her eyes. 'Cause ah would very much like to know what you're not saying, too."
("I, uh, would love to. But, you know. You can't understand me.") They both blinked at me.
"Oh, right, the talkin' thing. Forgot about that." The cowgirl mare said sheepishly.
"Well, where's Twilight? We'll get her to put that spell on us, I need to know what's going on!" Said the other pony somewhat less than sheepishly.
"Ashni! There you are!" Shouted Twilight urgently, skidding to a halt in front of us. "I have discovered something most troubling from the analysis of your blood!"
"Hey guys! Look here!" Interrupted Pinkie. "Look at all these pretty glowing flowers!" Four heads turned in the direction indicated.
"Are those..." Twilight began with a troubled expression.
"GRRAAAAWH!" A terrible roar crashed through the air, and the sun was blotted out by an enormous shadow. I felt a sense of deja vu, along with a growing feeling of dread.
This only increased as the thing landed. It's scales were black and purple, and it's spines were gnarled and twisted, but there was no mistaking it.
This was the same dragon that I fought in the Everfree. Only...eviler.
"Wh..what the hay is that!" Shouted Rainbow Dash.
"A dragon! But it's nothing like any recorded species...!" Twilight puzzled.
The great reptile stooped it's neck down to my level and widened it's mouth, an action clearly meant to be a grin. "Hello again, insect."
I gulped. "...Oh dear."
Author's Notes: Sorry again about the delays, please don't forget about me! Loads of exams. Biology, Physics, English, Geography, all in one week. Not fun. And I also tried to put a bit more thought into this chapter, as I haven't been pleased with how my chapters have been turning out. Next chapter is my favourite chapter yet; I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. It's in fact the original idea for this fanfic. So I'm excited to write it! I will start that tomorrow, and try to get it out earlier than three weeks this time! Sorry again!
Remember to like if you liked it and favourite if you thought it was one of your favourites! And do leave a comment. Feedback is appreciated! Even if you don't like it! Remember, I can't change it if you don't tell me what it is! Predator20 out.