The train rolled along the track as it sped toward its destination. The only sound throughout the private car was the gentle snoring of the ponies that slept inside. One of the cars occupants was awake, and staring at the two that slept just inches away from her.
Scootaloo just couldn’t sleep for some reason, and decided now was as good a time as any for some thinking. The filly stared at the two changelings that she now called her parents, and was only now really thinking about what that meant.
Is this really gonna work out? I mean, I’m glad I’ve got a family, but what’s it gonna be like? Lightning’s been good to me, but with what she said, it was mostly just her doing a role. I know she cares, but still can we be a real family?
And then there’s Shiv... Yeah she needs a new name. Besides that, she’s a girl. Can I have two moms? How can two mares be together anyway? Ugh! Why is this so hard to figure out!?
Scootaloo let out a heavy sigh as she realized her current line of thinking wasn’t helping her solve anything. So she tried to think of the things that worked so far.
Well, Lightning’s been a good mom so far. I mean, she came to the rescue and everything for me. She made sure I did my homework and junk, plus taught me to fly, so that’s good. Maybe I don’t have to worry too much about her.
Scootaloo nodded, satisfied with how Lightning was as a parent and turned her mind to the newest addition of the family. Shiv.
Shiv helped Lightning, so that puts her in the green I guess. She did say she’d give the family thing a try and I guess Shiv’s pretty cool. But what do I call her? I already got Lightning in the mom slot so do I call Shiv dad?
The filly sighed again. She wasn’t sure how the three of them would work out in the long run, but all the crusading she’d done with her friends taught her that you never knew if something was gonna work till you saw how it went.
I just hope this doesn’t end up with me covered in tree sap. Giving a small chuckle at the thought, Scootaloo laid down and tried to get some sleep. Choosing to let things work themselves out, then spend time worrying about it.
Lightning was taken from her sleep by the loud screech of the train as it slowed to a stop. Giving a wide yawn Lightning turned to look out her window and smiled as she saw where the train had stopped.
Turning her attention to the two other occupants of the train car, Lightning chuckled. Scootaloo was on her back with her limbs sticking out in random directions, while Shiv was snoring rather loudly on her side. Losing another yawn, Lightning rose to her hooves to wake the two.
“Come on you two, we’re home.”
The only response Lightning got was a few incoherent mumbles from the two sleepers. Rolling her eyes Lightning tried again, this time lightly shaking Shiv and Scootaloo.
“Wake up guys. We need to get off the train.”
Scootaloo groaned as she rolled onto her stomach and opened her eyes. Shiv rose her head and popped her neck while yawning.
“What’s up, mom?”
Lightning smiled at the filly. “We’re back in Ponyvile, so we need to go.”
Scootaloo nodded and Shiv yawned again as they followed Lightning out of the car and onto the station platform. From the sun’s position, it looked like they’d arrived sometime around mid morning. As Lightning looked around, she noticed Twilight and the others talking to the Princesses a few car lengths away.
Lightning turned to Shiv. “Watch Scoots while I talk to the others for a bit.”
Shiv nodded. “Sure thing.”
Lightning trotted over to where the Element bearers were standing around the Princess and caught the end of a conversation.
“Twilight I want you and the others to act as observers for Ponyville. Try to help the integration of the changelings go smoothly.”
Twilight nodded to her mentor. “Of course, Princess.”
As the alicorn turned to re-enter the train, she noticed Lightning standing just behind the group. “Lightning, did you need something?”
Lightning nodded. “I was just wondering what was going to happen to the changelings who wanted to stay here.”
Celestia nodded. “Twilight can fill you in on the particulars, but basically my hope is to integrate the changelings into our society.”
Lightning nodded again but her face was marred by a look of worry. Luna picked up on this and stepped closer to Lightning.
“You needn’t worry Lightning. The ponies are very accepting and will warm up to the changelings eventually. You must have faith in this.”
Lightning sighed. “You sure about that?”
Luna chuckled. “Yes. I know from personal experience.”
Applejack put a hoof on Lightnings shoulder and smiled. “Now don’t you worry none Lightnin’. Ya already go us fer friends and we’ll help ya out. Won't we girls?”
The others gave similar reassurances and Lightnings worry eased from her mind a little. “Thanks, girls. Anyway, I’d better get Scoots and Shiv home?”
A few brows rose at the mention of Shiv, but no one said anything about it.
Lightning walked back to where Scootaloo was waiting with Shiv, and she began leading them back home.
The walk home had been mostly uneventful. Only a few ponies shot curious glances toward the trio, and thankfully none seemed to be angry or hostile.
When the odd family was inside the confines of their home, Lightning spoke up.
“Ok, I think we need to go over a few things before we do anything else. That sound ok to you?”
Scootaloo sat on the floor facing Lightning while Shiv rose a brow.
“What kind of things?”
Lightning held up a hoof. “I’ll get to that, but first I think Scoots should say whatever she needs to about us.”
It was Scootaloo’s turn to look confused as she addressed Lightning.
“What d’ya mean, mom?”
Lightning sighed as she took a seat on the floor. “Well from what you said when we all decided to try being a family, I just thought you had some other things to say. So do you have anything to say?”
At first Scootaloo was just going to say nothing, but she did have a few questions and other things to get off her chest so she figured now was as good a time as any.
“Ok, you remember when I told you why I called you mom?”
“Well what I said was true. I call you that so I can really believe you’re my mom. Like when someone psychs themselves up before doing something. So what I wanna know is, does that bother you? That I’m still not one hundred percent about you being my mom?”
Lightning shook her head. “No, that’s fine. I’ll admit I’m still not sure of myself when it comes to being a parent, so we’re in the same boat.”
Scootaloo nodded. “Ok, now I’ve got a few questions for you two ok?”
Lightning and Shiv glanced at each other before nodding for the filly to continue.
“First off if, Lightning’s my mom then what’s Shiv?”
Lightning rose a brow. “What do you mean?”
Scootaloo sighed. “Well you’re both girls, so what do I call her?”
Shiv chuckled. “I’m ok with being “Dad” if it helps.”
Lightning smirked. “Oh trying to be the one in command again, huh?”
Shiv returned the smirk. “Why, you wanna be the dad?”
Lightning laughed and shook her head. “No. I’m the prettier one so I’ll be mom.”
Shiv scoffed. “Ouch, way to make me feel loved, Lightning.”
Scootaloo rose a brow as the two talked. “You guys are weird.”
The two changelings shrugged, and didn’t say anything to discredit the accusation.
Scootaloo chuckled a bit. “Now that that’s out of the way, I wanna ask if we can give Shiv a new name.”
Shiv cocked her head to the side. “What’s wrong with Shiv?”
Scootaloo rolled her hoof through the air. “It’s not very.... pony-ish. And if you’re ok with it, I think you need a new name to fit in better. Like mom did.”
Shiv Shrugged. “Eh why not? So did you have anything in mind?”
Scootaloo smiled. “Yeah I did. I was thinking Quicksilver. Cuz when you were fighting with Chrysalis you were pretty fast. Plus it’ll go along with mom’s name.”
Shiv turned to Lightning. “What d’you think about the name?”
Lightning turned the name over in her head a few times. “Sure. I think it fits.”
Shiv nodded. “Well then I guess I’m Quicksilver now.”
Scootaloo started hopping up and down in excitement. “Oh oh I know! You should make a pony form to go with the name like mom did!”
The newly dubbed Quicksilver rose a brow at the filly and Lightning laughed. “That is a good idea. It might even make the other ponies warm up to you more if you had your own pony skin.”
Quicksilver rose to her hooves and began transforming. Her coat turned to an off beige color while her mane and tail became angularly spiked with electric blue as the main color with streaks of gray running through it.
Lightning noticed that instead of a pegasus, Quicksilver had become a unicorn. The last thing that changed on Quicksilver’s body was on her flank appeared a three pronged silver arrow head encircled by a ring.
Quicksilver opened her eyes to reveal they were amber colored and smiled.
“So do I clean up nice or what?”
Lightning nodded, but Scootaloo tilted her head.
“Why’re you a unicorn?”
Quicksilver shrugged. “Just wanted to mix things up.”
Scootaloo nodded. “Ok. Well I guess there’s only one other thing on my mind then.”
Scootaloo looked from one parent to the other before sighing. “I’ve tried to figure this out but I can’t so I’ll just ask. If the two of you are girls then how can you love each other? I always thought it was a mare and a stallion who got together.”
Quicksilver turned to Lightning. “You wanna field this one or should I?"
Lightning chuckled. “You take this one and I’ll answer when she asks where foals come from.”
Scootaloo rose a brow. “Doesn’t the hospital just deliver them?”
Lightning grinned. “I’ll tell you about it later Scoots.”
Scootaloo nodded then turned her attention to Quicksilver.
Quicksilver cleared her throat and began. “Well, Scootaloo when two people love each other it doesn’t always have to be a boy and a girl. Sometimes it’s two girls or two boys. The only thing that matters is that they want to be together.”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “So you loved mom before this?”
Quicksilver looked up in thought. “Well not the way that I think I do now. Back then it was all about being physical and not really about love.”
Scootaloo still looked confused but let it go for now. “Well that’s all I needed to know, so what’d you wanna say mom?”
Lightning stood. “Just a few basic things.” She turned to Quicksilver. “You’re going to have to find a job soon. If there’s three of us, we need a bigger house.”
Quicksilver nodded and Lightning continued. “Second, until we get your room fixed up, you’ll be in our room, ok, Scoots?”
The filly nodded.
Lightning smiled. “That’s really the only things for now. If anything else comes up, we’ll all deal with it, ok?”
Receiving nods from her family, Lightning walked toward the stairs. “I think we’re all still a little tired from the craziness recently, so let’s just relax for the rest of the day, and tomorrow we’ll get to business.”
The three headed upstairs and into Lightning’s bedroom. Once there, Lightning took her pegasus form and climbed onto the left side of the bed. Quicksilver took the right side and Scootaloo nestled between the two. Before they drifted off, Lightning unfurled a wing and laid it across scootaloo.
The filly sighed contentedly as she felt the soft feathers surround her and she nuzzled into them before falling asleep with a small smile on her face.
Scootaloo groaned as she rose from her place on her parent’s bed, giving her limbs a stretch as she awoke. When the filly was fully awake, she noticed both Lightning and Quicksilver were absent from the bed. Quirking a brow in confusion, Scootaloo looked out the window to gage the time.
Huh, looks like it’s morning. We slept like twenty hours or something.
Figuring that her parents had gone downstairs, Scootaloo hopped off the bed and made her way to the lower level of the house. As she came to the bottom of the stairs, Scootaloo heard Lightning and Quicksilver talking.
“For the last time, Silver, stop worrying about it.”
Scootaloo stopped just short of the kitchen entrance to listen in on what sounded like a serious debate.
Quicksilver sighed. “It just doesn’t make sense to me. I know we’re all just going with the flow here, but can the three of us be a real family? Think about it, Lightning. If Scootaloo has us for parents then others will treat her differently.”
Lightning groaned in frustration. “No they won’t. Sure it’ll be strange, but from what I’ve seen, the ponies are really accepting once they get used to something.”
Quicksilver gave a bitter laugh. “Right, so it’ll be all smiles and rainbows for us then?”
Lightning scoffed. “Now you’re just being cynical. I know that things will be a bit... rough at the start, but soon everything’ll be fine.”
Scootaloo heard nothing but silence from the kitchen for a few moments until there was a weary sigh.
“How are you so optimistic? With all that’s happened, after everything we’ve done, no matter what justification we give, how can you just...”
This time Lightning sighed heavily. “Because I want to change. I know what I, what we all did. It doesn’t matter if Chrysalis was controlling us or if we just never thought to live another way. We can’t change the past. All that matters is what we do now. Just trust me, ok?”
Scootaloo sat on the floor outside the kitchen. What she just heard caused her to start thinking about what was happening and how it would affect her in the long run. Would she be treated differently because she had changelings for parents? How would she be treated?
And then one thought she had made her eyes widen with worry. Would her friends not like her anymore? She’d been keeping the fact that she was an orphan from them for two years now. Would this change things?
Scootaloo shook her head to clear her thoughts. She sighed and stood up. Whatever happens, I’m not gonna solve anything by worrying about it. With that thought, the filly walked into the kitchen.
“Morinin’ mom, mornin’ dad.”
The two adults at the table turned to Scootaloo. Lightning looked surprised for a second before a small smile settled on her face.
“Morning, Scoots. You hungry?”
Scootaloo nodded. “I could go for some breakfast.”
Lightning nodded. “Ok, I’ll get to making something.”
As Lightning went over to the fridge to check what they had stocked, Scootaloo hopped up onto a chair at the kitchen table. All the while, Quicksilver gave the filly a scrutinizing look.
The filly raised a brow. “What?”
Quicksilver smirked. “You heard us didn’t you.”
Scootaloo’s eyes widened. “Wha.. How’d you know?”
Quicksilver’s smirk grew. “Little ticks in the way you move. I was pretty good at figuring out who were great targets for replacing.”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “What about mom? She didn’t say anything.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “She’s too nice to say anything. Even in the swarm she never worried about much. If it didn’t cause problems she didn’t bring it up.”
Scootaloo’s eyes narrowed. “It sounded like this was a big deal though.”
Quicksilver loosed a small sigh. “Not really. It was more or less just me worrying about every little detail of our situation.”
There was a laugh from Lightning as she sat a plate of sandwiches on the table.
“She’s always worried about something. Even when she was a commander, Silver was always trying to see every angle of a mission.”
Lightning picked up a sandwich and bit into it. “Ya know, It’s good to see you two getting along.”
The mentioned two looked at eachother and Quicksilver spoke, “Why wouldn’t we?”
Lightning chuckled. “It’s just nice is all.”
Scootaloo took a sandwich and turned to lightning. “With all the stuff that happens in Ponyville, you get used to new things easily.”
Lightning nodded, remembering what her friends had told her about Ponyville.
“Anyway, Scoots, you should get ready for school. Silver can walk you there while I head to work.”
Lightning ate another sandwich and headed for the door. Before opening the door, she turned to Quicksilver. “After you take Scootaloo to school you should look for a job, ok.”
Getting a nod from Quicksilver, Lightning exited her home and flew toward her weather squads airspace.
Scootaloo waved to Quicksilver as the faux unicorn left her outside the schoolground. The filly turned towards the schoolhouse but before she got even to steps She heard familiar voices call out to her.
“Scootaloo! Where in tarnation ya been? Applejack told me you got kidnapped!”
“Yeah, and you weren’t at school the other day when Rarity came home so I was worried.”
Scootaloo turned to her friends. “Oh hey, girls.”
Scootaloo wanted to tell her friends everything. Right then and there but she knew that school wasn’t the best place for that.
“Look I’ll explain everything later. Right now I...”
At that moment fate decided to kick sand in Scootaloos face. Said sand came in the form of two fillies. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
“Look at that Silver Spoon. The blank flank pegasus with no family.”
Scootaloos head whipped to the side as she heard this. Her eyes wide in disbelief. How do they know!? And why them of all ponies, Celestia why!?
“Well she does have that monster of a mom but that’s all she is. A monster.”
Scootaloo stood, frozen, unable to react. Thankfully her friends weren’t. Apple Bloom came to her friend’s side and glared at the two bullies.
“Where do you two get off talkin’ to her like that? Scram!”
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon glanced at each other before Diamond rose a brow.
“You gonna make us stop?”
Apple Bloom grinned. “Nope. I’ma let Sweetie Belle use her magic on ya.”
At this Sweetie smiled widely. “I can make lemons explode.”
The antagonising fillies brows shot up as they looked to Sweetie Belle. They tried to see if she was bluffing, but all the unicorn did was smile innocently. They decided not to risk it.
Diamond Tiara huffed. “Whatever. You losers are no fun anyway. Come on, Silver Spoon.”
As Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon walked away Scootaloo came to her senses.
“Thanks guys. But can Sweetie Belle really make lemons explode?”
Sweetie Belle’s ears flattened and she blushed. “Well it only happened once and Apple Bloom never lets me forget it.”
Scootaloo rose a brow at Apple Bloom who shook her head. “Ya don’t wanna know, Scootaloo. Trust me.”
The pegasus nodded. “Well anyway thanks for helpin’ me out.”
Sweetie Belle grinned but it faltered. “What did they mean anyway?”
Scootaloo sighed. “I’ll tell you after school. Ok?”
Sweetie Belle nodded but Apple Bloom squinted at her.
Scootaloo shook her head. “I promise I’ll tell you everything. Just....not now.”
Apple Bloom stared at Scootaloo a bit longer before shrugging. “I’ll hold ya to it then.”
With that the three friends headed into the schoolhouse.
Time seemed to crawl at a snails pace for Scootaloo. With her promise to tell her friends everything looming over her like a dark cloud, Scootaloo could barely focus on Cheerilee’s lesson. Luckily Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon didn’t bother her anymore, and at least Scootaloo could be grateful for that.
As school ended, Scootaloo sighed heavily. She gathered her things and walked outside to see her friends waiting for her. Saying nothing, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle followed Scootaloo as the pegasus led them to their clubhouse.
The walk to their secluded headquarters was quiet. It seemed that even without knowing what was going to be told, the unicorn and earth pony fillies knew the weight this held for their friend.
Once inside the clubhouse, Apple Bloom spoke up.
“Ok, Scootaloo, what’s the deal? Yer actin’ like what you’re gonna tell us is the end of the world.”
Scootaloo shook her head. “I’m just nervous, ok.”
Sweetie Belle tilted her head in confusion. “About talking to us? But we’re your friends, you can tell us anything.”
Scootaloos head lowered and she couldn’t meet her friends eyes. “I’ve kept this from you ever since we met and I just...”
Apple Bloom came to Scootaloo’s side and threw a foreleg over her friend’s shoulder.
“Look, Scoot, whatever ya got ta tell us it’ll be ok. We’re the Cutie Mark Crusaders after all.”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders stick together!”
Scootaloo smiled a bit and lifted her head to look at her friends. Seeing the smiles each of them wore eased Scootaloo’s nerves.
“Well, ok then, here’s the whole story.”
“For as long as I can remember I’ve never had a family. My earliest memory was standing in a line of other foals while grown ups looked at us. I’ve lived most of my life in an orphanage.”
Applebloom and Sweetie Belle stayed quiet, simply letting their friend tell her story. They wanted to interrupt and ask questions but didn’t know where to start.
“When I got old enough to go to school I hid who I was from everypony. The caretakers didn’t really get involved with any of us so it was easy to pretend I was like everyone else. Then after that whole thing at the wedding, I met Lightning.”
Scootaloo sighed heavily at this point. Time to let the cat out of the bag.
“Lightning is a changeling and she offered to be my mom in exchange for me loving her. After that attack on Ponyvllle she had to save me from the changeling hive and I got another parent, also a changeling. And that’s it.”
Scootaloo looked to her friends to gage their reaction. Sweetie Belle had her mouth hanging open while Apple Bloom stared wide eyed.
Scootaloo gulped. “So... Any questions?”
Apple Bloom was the first to come out of her stunned silence.
“So lemme get this straight. You were an orphan and then Lightnin’ offered to be yer mom, and then the changelings attacked, you got kidnapped, Lightnin’ saved ya and to top it all off you got another parent who’s also a changeling?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Pretty much.”
Apple Bloom was silent for a minute before shrugging. “Eh, good ‘nough fer me.”
Sweetie Belle turned to the apple filly. “You followed all that?”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Sure. An’ far as I see it, Lightnin’s been a good mom. I guess her bein’ a changeling is kinda weird, but she seems ok to me.”
Sweetie Belle. shrugged. “I’m not really sure about everything but what the hay. Scootaloo seems ok with, it so I’m good.”
Scootaloo stared slack jawed at her friends, who chuckled.
“Come on, Scoot, did ya really think me ‘n Sweetie Belle would be worried about this.”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “Well I just expected.... I don’t know, more of a reaction.”
The unicorn and earth fillies chuckled as they pulled their friend into a group hug.
Sweetie Belle spoke first. “We’re best friends, Scootaloo. We’ll always be there for you.”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Yep. No matter what, yer stuck with us.”
Scootaloo smiled and hugged her friends. “Thanks guys. You’re the best.”
The three stayed that way for a while, just hugging and giving support to a friend who had been nervous about losing them. Scootaloo know that there’d be other ponies who wouldn’t understand her family. But as long as she had her friends with her, she knew she’d be ok.
Quicksilver left Scootaloo at school and headed back into town to look for a job.
Quicksilver sighed. What would I even be qualified for? I doubt any of these ponies need my skill set. Not much call for a siege drone with nothing to... siege.
As Quicksilver was wandering town, thinking about what she could possibly do for work, she bumped into someone. The collision knocked the pony to the ground, a pony Quicksilver knew.
“Sorry about that, Twilight. I’m a bit distracted.”
Quicksilver offered a hoof to the unicorn who shook her head and gave Quicksilver a confused look.
“Have we met? Or are you one of the other changelings living here?”
Quicksilver dropped her disguise. “Remember me now?”
Twilight nodded. “Shiv, right? You’re the changeling that came back with Lightning.”
Quicksilver nodded and continued walking, followed by Twilight. “Actually I changed my name to Quicksilver.”
Twilight glanced at the changeling. “Why change it?”
Quicksilver sighed. “Well I figured it’d cement the fact that I’ve got a new life. Also, Scootaloo said it would be more pony-ish and help ponies get used to me.”
Twilight hmmd in agreement as she listened to Quicksilver.
“Anyway, now I’m looking for a job to help Lightning in the finance department. Problem is I’m not sure where to go.”
Twilight smiled. “Well I think I can help with that. Follow me.”
With that statement, Twilight broke into a fast trot, Quicksilver followed, not far behind.
Quicksilver rose a brow as she watched Twilight dart around her personal study. The unicorn had led them back to the library that served as Twilight’s home and work area, but when Quicksilver questioned Twilight, all she’d said was, “You’ll see.”
After a few more minutes of Twilight running around, the unicorn stood in front of the changeling with various writing materials and a large smile.
Quicksilver’s brow stayed elevated as she eyed the papers, journals and quills.
“Are you going to tell me what all this is or are we gonna play twenty questions?”
Twilight chuckled. “Well ever since Lightning became a friend I’ve been more interested in the changelings. So when I heard you needed work I had an idea. If you’re willing, I’d like to ask you questions about the changelings as well as do some experiments on you.”
Quicksilver tilted her head. “What kind of experiments?”
Twilight perked up eagerly, happy that Quicksilver seemed to be interested in being a test subject.
“Oh, nothing invasive. I just want to do some magical scans of your body. It’ll help me see at what level various stimuli affect you and your mana absorption rate. Oh and maybe we can even see if I can tap into the same frequency as the hive mind! This could be a scientific breakthrough!”
Quicksilver chuckled at the look on Twilight’s face. The unicorn looked like a foal on Hearths Warming day, complete with a huge smile and eyes that seemed to sparkle.
“Well I guess that could be interesting. But how will you pay me?”
Twilight cleared her throat and adopted a more professional tone. “I get a stipend from Princess Celestia for scientific research. It’s all part of being her student.”
Quicksilver nodded. “What about after you do all the science and ask all the questions you want? Where do I go for work then?”
Twilight grinned. “Well I am in need of an assistant. I have spike, but he’s not suited to help me with scientific research. You on the other hoof are perfect for that.”
Quicksilver tilted her head. “How so?”
Twilight grinned wider. “With what I learned from Lightning, I know changeling bodies are resilient and because you can shift into a unicorn I can use you as a magical focus for more advanced research.”
As Twilight spoke she began heading downstairs, followed by Quicksilver and her note taking materials.
“Also I’d assume you’re very detail oriented, given you were a commander of an attack cell. Am I right?” Quicksilver nodded and Twilight continued. “Add all that up and it makes you a perfect research subject and research assistant. So, you on board?”
Quicksilver grinned. “Sounds easy enough. Where do we start?”
Twilight smiled and dipped a quill in an inkwell, bringing the inked utensil above a fresh sheet of parchment.
“First we’ll start with some questions. Now these questions will get a little invasive, so be prepared for that.”
Receiving a nod Twilight began. “Lightning once mentioned the changeling lay eggs. Would you say you’re more insect or mammal?”
“The changelings aren’t either one. We’re more of a hybrid.”
Twilights quill scrawled the paper as she went on. “A hybrid? How so?”
Quicksilver tilted her head in thought. “I heard from some of the older commanders that we probably evolved over time from something called Breezies. Some forgotten race of ponies I think. It’s probably why we resemble ponies.”
Twilight gasped. “Breezies? Celestia mentioned that they just disappeared when I asked about them. Apparently, though they preferred living apart from us, they would trade knowledge with ponies until one day they vanished. This explains one mystery, but do you know anything else about the possible evolution?”
The changeling shook her head. “No. Like I said, the older commanders would talk about our history, but it’s been so long I think it’s mostly speculation.”
Twilight nodded. “Well at least that’s something of a solution to an Equestrian mystery. Moving on, how do changelings reproduce?”
Quicksilver rose a brow. “Twilight, we may be hybrids but we breed like regular ponies. There’s no ovipositing if that’s what you’re getting at.”
The unicorn chuckled. “Just making sure. Well then what about if you and Lightning wanted to have children? Would one of you, change the plumbing as it were?”
Quicksilver sighed. “You weren’t kidding about these questions being invasive. Anyway, yes one of us would be the giver and the other the receiver.”
Twilight nodded. “Ok let’s change gears now. Can you describe how your changeling magic works?”
Quicksilver nodded. “There’s the transforming part, which you know about, but there’s a few other things we can do. One of them is that flame up we can do. Another is our body alteration.”
Twilight shot the changeling a confused look. “Body alteration? Like how you can make your forelegs into a blade?”
Quicksilver shook her head. “That’s only part of it. We can change little things about ourselves too. Our skin strength, bone density, things like that.”
Twilight wrote furiously as Quicksilver spoke. “Fascinating. Now what about nourishment? Can you eat regular food or are emotions the only thing that sustain you?”
Quicksilver folded her forelegs in thought. “It’s not as cut and dry as that. We can eat regular food and it does give us some energy but emotions are our main food source. It’s a sort of secondary failsafe when we can’t get emotions.”
Twilight nodded. “Like if I ate nothing but junk food, it’d fill the need for sustenance but wouldn’t be the best thing for me, or is there more to it then that?”
The changeling nodded. “You’re almost right. We can live of regular food for a while, but we need emotions to live. And from what I’ve learned with living with Lightning and Scootaloo, emotions directed at us specifically are more then enough to keep us going.”
Twilight rose a brow. “What about all the other changelings? The ones who don’t have friends or relationships yet?”
Quicksilver waved a hoof dismissively. “They can survive on the residual positive emotions around here. You ponies have a lot of indirect positive emotions that just float around.”
Twilight chuckled. “We are pretty friendly. I think that’s enough for now, let’s move on to the tests.”
Twilight set aside the notes she’d taken and rose from her position on the floor and began walking to the back of the library. Quicksilver followed as the unicorn led her down a set of stairs and into a room with all types of machinery and chemical tables. Twilight trotted over to a large machine and used her magic to levitate several electrodes.
Twilight turned to Quicksilver with a grin. “Now let’s strap you in and get to testing!”
After several hours and various tests, both magical and non, Twilight was satisfied. For today anyway.
Twilight unhooded the helmet on quicksilvers head. “Well you’ve got some very interesting brain waves. It’ll take a while to compile all this data so tomorrow you can help me with that.”
Quicksilver nodded. ‘Sure, but when do I get paid?”
Twilight chuckled. “You’ll get paid every two weeks. That sound ok?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. You need anything else?”
Twilight shook her head. “No, you can go if you want.”
The changeling nodded and headed for the door. “See you tomorrow then.”
Quicksilver left the library and headed home with a smile on her face. I’ve got a job and it only took me all of ten minutes to find it! Talk about luck.
Quicksilver trotted through town happily until reaching her home. Walking through the door, she was met with an upset Lightning. Suddenly her good mood then took a severe nosedive. “Lightning, what’s wrong?”
Lightning huffed, a grimace set firmly on her face. “We’ve got trouble.”
Quicksilver rose a brow. “What kind of trouble?”
Lightnings paced exasperatedly. “There’s a group of ponies in town that don’t want us here, and from the day I’ve had, I think they’re going to be a problem.”
Quicksilver shook her head. “Is Scootaloo home yet?”
Lightning glanced at the stairs before looking back to Quicksilver. “Yes, but she doesn’t know about it. She’s been with her friends since school ended.”
Quicksilver nodded. “Ok. Let’s try to keep her out of this.”
Lightning scowled and lowered her head, her eyes narrowed in annoyance. “How’ll we keep her out of it? The town she calls home doesn’t want us.”
Quicksilver used a hoof to lift Lightning’s head, giving her a small smile. “Hey, we can figure it out. Like you said, when they get used to us, it’ll die down.”
Lightning nodded, smiling a bit herself. “Ok. So how’d your day go?”
Quicksilver’s smile widened as she began to tell Lightning about her job with Twilight. The news Lightning had given her weighed heavily on Quicksilver’s mind. So soon after coming to Ponyville and already things were getting tense. But for now she knew the only thing to do was wait. And hope things didn’t get any worse.
Lightning left home and flew above Ponyville. Spotting a weather team in the distance, she flew toward them, her pegasus skin in place. As she approached the weather team, Lightning noticed that most of them were nervous as she flew closer.
Lightning sighed. “Look guys, I’m a changeling, that’s been established. But you’ve worked with me and I did help save the town so can we just get to work?”
Rain Drop, a female pegasus, hovered closer to lightning and shook her head.
“It’s not that Lightning. We don’t really care what you are, it’s just that....”
Lightnings brow rose. “Just what?”
“Dash told us to send you to the weather office if we saw you.” Rain Drop lowered her head.
“The office? She never uses the office.” Lightning’s head tilted in confusion.
Rain Drop’s rose her head and locked eyes with Lightning. “She does when things are serious. And by the way she looked, this is as serious as it gets.”
Lightning only nodded before rolling midair and start gliding toward the weather office. And possibly toward the start of a lot of trouble.
Lightning stood outside Rainbow Dash’s office in town hall, anxious about why the chromatic mare wanted to see her. As she’d walked down the hall Lightning saw more of the weather ponies she worked with give her worried looks. So that had just added to why Lightning stood outside her friends office, trying to steel her nerves.
Taking a calming breath Lightning lifted a hoof and knocked on Rainbow’s door.
Lightning entered the office.and was surprised to see that not only was Rainbow sitting at her desk but that a stallion she’d never met sat in one of the two chairs in front of the desk.
Rainbow turned her attention to Lightning. “Have a seat, Lightning.”
Lightning sat in the unoccupied chair and spoke. “What’s this about, Boss?”
Rainbow motioned to the stallion in the other chair. “Mr. Rich had some concerns about you and suggested you be brought in.”
Lightning glanced to her left to get a better look at Mr. Rich. He looked to be middle aged with a black mane and tail. His coat was brown and the cutie mark on his flank was a bag of bits.
What got Lightning’s attention though was the look in the stallions eyes. She knew that look. This stallion was afraid of her, or more likely, afraid of changelings. And fear was a great motivation to get rid of something.
Lightning narrowed her eyes slightly as Mr. Rich began speaking.
“That’s right Miss Dash. I wanted Lightning to be here so she could face her accuser.”
Lightnings eyes widened as Mr. Rich went on.
“I feel that while Princess Celestia had good intentions when she decided to have the changelings live with us, I don’t think they should be allowed to run free range in our town.”
Lightning grit her teeth and was about to tear into the stallion when Rainbow spoke up.
“Your concern is noted Mr. Rich, but I still don’t see what Lightning has to do with any of this.”
The stallion cleared his throat. “I was just getting to that. This changeling infiltrated our town and deceived all of us. All the while she was holding a filly captive and worming her way into the good graces of you and your friends. This could all be one big take over and I’m worried that...”
Rainbow dash held up a hoof, stopping Mr. Rich’s speech.
“Mr. Rich let me make this clear. I trust Lightning. I had my doubts about her at first but she’s proven she’s on our side. This baseless fear you have of her and her fellow changelings is, in all honesty, unfair.”
The stallion sputtered before finding his voice. “You can’t be serious. These monsters tried to destroy us!”
Dash smirked. “And they were stopped. By Lightning.”
Mr. Rich was about to speak again when dash continued.
“I realize you’re afraid of the changelings, so if it makes you feel better I’ll keep an eye on Lightning and all other changelings that work for me.”
Mr Rich growled. “That’s not enough! They should all be quartered off and watched constantly.”
The stallion pointed a hoof at Lightning. “And the filly being held by this one should be placed in proper care.”
Lightning bristled and shot off her seat to glare at the stallion. “What!?”
Rainbow stood, leaning forward on her desk. “Lightning, sit down.”
Lightning looked to her friend and was about to argue but the look in Dash’s eyes silenced her. Rainbow wasn’t her friend right now, Rainbow was her boss.
Lightning sat down and watched as Rainbow Dash turned her attention back to Mr. Rich.
“Mr. Rich, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t rile up one of my weather crew. Now let me tell you what’s going to happen.”
Rainbows eyes hardened as she stared down the stallion.
“You are going to leave, Lightning is going to get back to work and we are all going to get along. Understand?”
Mr. Rich narrowed his eyes. “What? You can’t just brush me off! Do you know who I am?!”
“I don’t care who you are. You don’t tell me what to do with my workers. Now you and your opinions about changelings can leave my office.”
Mr. Rich stood and stepped angrily to Dash’s door. Before he left he turned and glared at Lightning, while growling in a low tone.
“This isn’t over, changeling.”
The irate stallion slammed the door as he left. When the sound of hoofsteps faded,
Rainbow sat back in her chair and rubbed her temples.
“I’ve been dealing with ponies like that all morning. Sorry you had to be here, Lightning, but that guy just wouldn’t back down when he wanted to see you.”
Lightning sighed. “Why didn’t you just tell him to leave like you did just now?”
“I’m the manager of this whole area and that also means I’m the PR pony around here. I’m kinda obligated to hear the concerns of the citizens about my workers. It’s all a bunch of political horse apples if ya ask me.” Dash said, shaking her head.
Lightning nodded. “So I gotta ask, you think I should worry about what that guy said?”
Rainbow walked from behind her desk to stand next to Lightning, putting a hoof on her shoulder.
“He’s got a lot of pull around here. I think he and those other ponies, who don’t want changelings around, are in some kinda anti-changeling group. My advice, be careful. I didn’t like that look in his eyes.”
Lightning sat in her chair, turning the situation over in her head. Meanwhile, Rainbow went back behind her desk.
“Look, Lightning, for now you should just act like nothing’s wrong. I’ve got paperwork to take care of thanks to all this and you’ve still got a job to do. If anything comes up, I’ll let you know.’
Giving a nod, Lightning rose from her seat and left Dash’s office. All the while wondering how this was going to affect her family.
Lightning finished the first half of her shift and felt better about the relation between ponies and changelings. Mostly due to the fact that several changelings had been integrated into her shift and everyone got along great.
Lightning flew into town to take her lunch break and the good feeling she had began to slowly but surely fade. While there were the ponies that gave her a friendly greeting as she walked toward Sugarcube Corner, she noticed that just as many ponies would glare or cross the street to avoid her.
Lightnings ears lowered a bit. Even after all she’d done for the town there were ponies that saw her as nothing but a monster. Something to be feared and shunned.
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Lightning arrived at Sugarcube Corner and noticed that the lunch rush had hit the place hard. The Cakes and Pinkie were rushing around to fill orders and deliver the orders to the tables of waiting ponies.
Lightning chuckled as she found a secluded table off on the far side of the bakery. As Lightning sat she let her pegasus skin melt away and did some pony watching.
Lightning’s lunch breaks were often spent like this. She would come to the bakery and just watch the ponies interact with each other. As she did, Lightning would bask in the palpable atmosphere of positive emotions. This time though it looked like she would have some company at her table.
A pegasus mare with a gray coat, blond mane and offset golden eyes sat across from her with a grin.
“Hi, you’re Lightning, right?”
“Yeah, but how’d you know?” Lightning asked while tilting her head in confusion.
The mare chuckled. “I saw you come in, and I was there when you revealed yourself after that attack. But I haven’t introduced myself yet have I. I’m Ditzy Doo, but my friends call me Derpy.”
Lightning nodded. “Oh, the mail mare right? You helped when we were short hoofed putting a storm together before all the craziness happened.”
“I’m glad you remembered. I wanted to talk to you for a bit, if that was ok.”
Lightning motioned for Derpy to continue and the mares grin faltered a bit.
“I’ve heard all the things about changelings, but I wanted to talk to you personally before I decided what I thought about you. So I want to ask, why’d you help us?”
For a few moments silence was the only answer Lightning gave. Derpy shifted uneasily as Lightning closed her eyes in thought. When Lightning’s eyes opened she smiled.
“Because I found a family.”
Derpy cocked her head to the side questioningly and Lightning continued.
“After the failed takeover at Canterlot, I was cut from the hive. Without the hive I wanted to find something to live for, and that’s when I found Scootaloo.”
Lightnings smile grew. “I wasn’t sure why at the time, but I found her alone, with these emotions of longing and sadness coming from her, and I just had to make it stop. I wanted to make her happy. So we became a family, and the rest is history.”
Derpy nodded with a soft smile on her face. “I feel the same about my little filly, Dinky. She needed me like Scootaloo needed you.”
The two sat for the rest of Lightning’s break, talking and by the time the two parted ways both were happy to have made a friend. Lightning rose from her seat, reverting back to her pegasus form, and headed for the door. Lightning would have liked for fate to let her enjoy this high note but there was one more thing, it seemed, fate wanted to throw at her.
As Lightning left the bakery she came face to face with Mr. Rich.
The stallion had a self satisfied grin on his face as he walked towards Lightning.
“Just who I was looking for. Could I have a word with you, Miss Lightning?”
“Make it quick. My break’s over and I need to get back to work.”
The stallions grin became cheshire like as he motioned for Lightning to walk with him.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, I and many others are... werry of the changelings in Ponyville and we-”
“Spare me the sales pitch slick. Just say what you want so I can get back to work.” Lightning cut in viciously.
Mr. Rich chuckled. “Direct I see, fine I can cut to the chase.”
The stallions face darkened. “You and the rest of the changelings can either leave or my friends and I make your lives miserable. Understand?”
Lightning starred at the stallion before bursting into laughter. Mr. Rich tilted his head at the laughing changeling. And when Lightning got control of her laughter, she took one look at his confused face and it sent her into another bout of hysterical laughing.
When her second laughing fit ended she smirked and looked at Mr. Rich.
“Oh that’s priceless! You actually believe you’re a threat.”
Mr. Rich scowled and opened his mouth to say something but Lightning held up a hoof.
“You see this face?” She pointed to herself. “This is my ‘not giving a buck’ face.”
The stallion bristled. “Now listen, you little-”
“No, you listen you self important blowhard. I’ve taken on my own kind, faced off against the Queen of my race and been in so many close calls before then I can’t even count them. And you think you can threaten me? I’m done here.”
Lightning was about to fly away when the stallion said something that actually gave her pause.
“That little orphan you have. I can take her away.”
Lightning rounded on the stallion, a look of disbelief on her face.
A smile settled on Rich’s face again. “I know how you forged the records at the orphanage. You didn’t cover your tracks as well as you thought. I’ve got the statements of workers that saw the Orphanage’s manager in two different places that day.”
“You’d bring Scootaloo into this? She’s just a filly that didn’t do anything!” Lightning shouted.
The stallion scoffed. “You’re the one that brought her into this. So what do you say? You and your kind leave and I don’t involve her.”
Lightning stared into Rich’s eyes, and her tone grew dark. “I faced things worse than you to get her back. You’re insane if you think you can take her away.”
The stallion turned and started walking away. “Then I suggest you get a good lawyer. Good afternoon miss Lightning.”
Lightning watched as Mr. Rich trotted away. When the stallion was out of sight, Lightning lowered her head and sighed heavily, She couldn’t tell Quicksilver or Scootaloo about this. At least not until she was sure there was no other choice.
For now, Lightning decided it was better to keep this to herself.
Lightning sat at her desk, her eyes fixed on the script of a court letter bathed in moonlight. You are requested to come before Judge Mercy on the 30th day of this month to face accusations from one Filthy Rich.
The changeling sighed and shook her head. She’d been up for hours trying to come up with some way out of this mess with Filthy Rich. Finally turning her eyes away from the document, she focused on the two sleeping forms atop the bed.
Scootaloo was cuddled close to Quicksilver and both were snoring softly. Completely oblivious to the world and the possible problem their family faced. Heaving a sigh Lightning closed her eyes and reclined in her chair. Yet again trying to come up with a plan.
Lightning had gone over their finances and knew that their was no way she could hire a lawyer, not a good one at any rate. She’d briefly considered finding these witnesses Rich claimed had seen her and using the changeling mind spell on them, but that idea was thrown out as fast as it had come to her. Doing that would only hurt her case if she was found out.
The darkest part of Lightning, the part that had tempted her when she was saving Rarity, had told her to deal with the problem directly. To get rid of Filthy Rich. She’d shuddered at how easily the thought had risen and how she’d almost considered it.
Lightning’s eyes opened and she turned back to her desk. The document seemed to mock her, throwing the fact she could lose Scootaloo in her face. Growling softly, Lightning shoved the sheet in a drawer. Even with it out of sight, the frustration she felt didn’t ebb.
It’s been four days since she’d received the letter. Four days of acting as if nothing was wrong around others. Four nights of sleepless worry, and still not one viable plan came to mind. Deciding to try and sort through her thoughts again, Lightning rose from her chair and toward her window.
Opening the window as quietly as possible, Lightning assumed her pegasus form and fluttered through the open portal. After closing the window, Lightning gained altitude and began a lazy flight around Ponyville.
Putting her body on autopilot, Lightning went down the list of her options again. Could I afford a lawyer? No, even with Quicksilver and I working we make enough to pay bills and get a few niceties for our home but that was it.
Can I turn to anyone for help? Not really. My best bets are Rainbow dash or Rarity. Rainbow is my boss and a good acquaintance but we’re really not that close, not more than any of her other workers. Rarity is grateful for the part I played in rescuing her but still, we’re just friends in passing and not very close.
The other four elements of harmony are out as well. Yes we’ve fought alongside each other, knew each other, but that was all it was. We’re not close enough for me to go to them.
Spying a lone cloud drifting in the night sky, Lightning flew over and settled on it. Looking across the vista that was Ponyville she realized that while she knew some of the ponies, none were very close to be motivated to help.
Thinking of nothing else she could do, Lightning took flight and headed back home. If she was going to be up all night anyway, she wanted to be around her family.
“Watch it, Lightning! You’re supposed to break the clouds, not break my neck.”
Lightning shook her head tiredly and her dull eyes met those of her shift manager, Cloudkicker.
“Sorry, I’m just a little tired is all.”
The other pegasus sighed. “What’s up, Lightning? You’re usually one of the best workers on this shift.”
“Nothing I’m just...” The rest of lightning sentence was cut off as she yawned hugely.
Cloudkicker shook her head. “Look, I know it’s more than you being tired, but it’s none of my business so I won’t pry.” Her eyes narrowed. “But you’re not going doing any good up here. So until you solve whatever it is that’s going on I’m suspending you.”
“What?! But I..”
Before Lightning could protest Cloudkicker held up a hoof.
“Don’t even argue, it won’t help.” Giving a sigh the mare continued. “I know things are rough for you right now with a lot of the ponies not accepting you’re a changeling, so until you get your head on straight I think it’s best you take some time off.”
Lightning wanted to protest but she saw where Cloudkicker was coming from. She wasn’t going to be any help to her shift with how she was now. With a reluctant nod to her manager Lightning flew down towards Sugarcube corner. Maybe some pony watching would help her think.
Lightning sat at her secluded table in a corner of the bakery. She’d been here for nearly ten minutes and could still think of nothing that could help her.
If I can’t think of anything, might as well try and sleep a bit.
Closing her eyes, Lightning lay her head on the table and tried to get some rest. The best she could do was fall into a half conscious state before a voice she recognised drew her attention.
“You ok, Lightning?”
Raising her head, Lightning gave a small grin at the new arrival. Derpy was seated at the other end of the table, concern showing in her bright golden eyes. After their first meeting a week ago, the two had met regularly at lunch and Lightning was able to let go of a bit of her worries around the bubbly mare.
“Not really, but I’ll manage.”
The concern in Derpy’s eyes grew at the answer. “Can I help at all?”
A polite refusal died on Lightning’s tongue as she was struck with a sudden realisation. Lighting had thought she couldn’t turn to anyone because she wasn’t a close friend, but Derpy... Derpy was a friend. Looking back it should have been obvious to Lightning. She spoke openly with Derpy, was relaxed and happy during their time talking.
Armed with this realisation Lightning decided to open up about her problem. She told the wall eyed pegasus about Filthy Rich and how she couldn’t think of a way out. After Lightning finished Derpy crossed her forelegs and her brows knit together in thought.
After several moments of silence the mail mare met Lightning’s eyes.
“I think I can help. I’ve got a friend that helped me when the EFPA wanted to take Dinky because they thought I was unfit to be a parent.”
Lightning’s face split into an overjoyed smile. “Really? You know someone that can help?”
Derpy rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “Well she’s a little particular about who she helps, but I think she’s the only one that could match any of Filthys lawyers.”
“I don’t care if it’s a long shot. It’s the only shot I’ve got right now.”
Derpy left her seat and motioned to the door. “Then follow me.”
Lightning rose quickly and followed derpy out the door. And possibly, to a solution to her problems.
As Derpy led Lightning to this mysterious friend of hers, Lightning noticed that the two had entered the high scale part of Ponyville. The houses weren’t overly large but anyone could tell that the owners had to be fairly wealthy to afford them.
This caused Lightning to worry a bit. If the pony Derpy wanted her to meet lived here, then that meant the help Lightning hoped to get wouldn’t be cheap.
Derpy stopped at a house at the end of the street they were on and turned to Lightning.
“Ok, this is her place. Just tell her what’s going on and I’m pretty sure she’ll help you.”
“Who exactly is this mysterious mare?” Lightning asked with a raised brow.
Derpy chuckled. “You’ll see.”
Rolling her eyes at the hype Derpy was trying to build for the meeting, Lightning stood beside her friend as the gray mare knocked on the home’s door.
There was the muffled sound of scurrying hooves and a lock being undone before the door flung open. The mare who answered the door wore a lopsided grin as she leaned on the doorframe regarding her visitors.
“Yo, Derpy, what brings ya here?” The mare noticed Lightning and quirked a brow. “Who’s this?”
“Hey, Berry. This is my new friend Lightning and we needed to talk to you about something.”
Berrys grin widened and she waved the two inside. “Sure thing, just follow me to my office.”
As the trio walked through the house Lightning took notice of the various pictures dotting the walls. She’d expected expensive paintings, but most of the walls were occupied by photos of the Berry and a little pink filly.
Turning left at the end of a hallway found the three in a spacious office with large bay windows. At the back of the office a large mahogany desk sat, framed on either side by large floor to ceiling bookcases. And situated off to the side of the side was a mini bar that Berry was currently standing by.
The mare was standing on her hind legs and beginning to put various liquids into a mixer.
“You guys want one?”
Receiving a head shake from Derpy and Lightning, Berry shrugged and began shaking the mixer vigorously. “Oh well, more for me then.”
After pouring her drink into a martini glass, Berry walked, still on her hind legs, over to the chair behind her desk and sipped her drink. Humming in appreciation of her mix Berry turned her attention to her guests.
“So what’s the exact reason you’re here?”
Lightning took a step forward. “I asked Derpy for some help and she said you might be able to solve my problem.”
Setting down her glass Berry leaned forward on her elbows and rested her chin on her hooves. “What sort of problem?”
“I need a lawyer. One that can go against someone hired by Filthy Rich.”
Berrys features became more serious. “Explain.”
Lightning flashed out of her pegasus skin. “First off, I’m a changeling. Are you still willing to help?”
Berry’s brows rose in surprise. “If anything, that makes me more interested. Tell me everything.”
Lightning nodded and went into how Filthy Rich was taking her to court because she’d refused to leave and convince other changelings to do so. Lighting even went into how she forged documents to get custody of Scootaloo, and anything else that could be brought up.
As Lightning’s story ended Berry grabbed her drink and downed the entire thing.
“That’s some story. Now before we go any further, I’ve got one question.”
Berry stood and returned to the mini bar. Replacing the martini glass for a shot glass and grabbing a bottle of what looked like whiskey before sitting behind her desk again.
“Why should I help?”
Lightning sighed and lowered her head. “Because you’re the only chance I’ve got. Derpy’s the only close friend I’ve got and her idea’s the only one that had any chance of working so far.”
Lightings voice hitched slightly. “I can’t lose Scootaloo, but I’ve got no idea how to get out of this. I need your help.”
Berry said nothing. She deftly removed the cap on the bottle and poured a shot. After downing it she poured another and slid it across her desk.
Lighting wanted to question Berry, but instead shook her head and took the shot.
When the glass left Lighting’s lips she looked at Berry again. The lopsided grin was back on the mare’s face and her green eyes were bright.
“Congratulations. You just took a shot and hired the best lawyer to come out of Baltimare university. Berry Punch, attorney at law, at your service.”
Lighting could only tilt her head. “Bluh?”
Derpy chuckled. “Yeah she’s a bit strange, but Berry’s the best there is.”
“I’m pretty good but my vineyards are my true passion.” Berry poured another shot and drank.
Lightning shook her head to clear her thoughts. “So you’ll help me? How much do I pay you?”
Berry waved a hoof as if to dismiss the issue. “You’ll just need to be my new drinking buddy and we’ll call it even.”
Berry rounded her desk and stood beside Lightning holding out a hoof. “Sound fair?”
Lightning smiled and shook Berrys hoof. “Deal.”
Berry went to a cabinet in a corner of her office and pulled out a briefcase and a folder. “Now there’s some paperwork I need you to fill out and a few documents I need you to give me copies of.”
Berrys grin became predatory. “That Rich won’t know what hit him.”
Quicksilver watched as Lightning flew off to work, the same as every morning, but she could tell something was up. For the past week, Lightning had been acting odd. Quicksilver noticed that Lightning had been staying up at night. For what, she had no idea, but now Lightning seemed to be more relaxed. That however didn’t explain why she felt that Lightning was keeping something from her.
Maybe it’s got something to do with that group she said didn’t want changelings here?
Whatever the reason she was sure Lightning would tell her when and if it became important. Right now Quicksilver had to get over to Twilight’s. The lavender unicorn had said they would be working on some of Twilight’s personal research for a while and to arrive as soon as possible.
Putting her questions about Lightning to the back of her mind for now, Quicksilver began trotting toward Twilight’s library.
Twilight studied the arcane symbols scrawled in her notes and nodded.
“Ok, give me the crystal, and remember, I need you to keep it shielded from outside mana while I work.”
Quicksilver nodded and levitated a marble sized pale blue sphere over to Twilight who began focusing on it. After a few minutes glowing symbols began hovering around the crystal. The symbols swirled and melded into the crystal, imprinting themselves on it’s surface.
With a smile, Twilight turned to her assistant. “Now for the test. You’ve practiced the binding spell I showed you?”
“Not that it was easy, but yes, I’ve got it down.”
Twilight’s smile widened. “Ok let’s start then.”
Twilight took hold of the crystal in her magic. Giving the little gem a flick upwards, Twilight tilted her head back and as the crystal came down, she swallowed it. Once Twilight ingested the crystal, Quicksilver began forming the binding spell. Chains of arcane energy solidified in the air and began wrapping around Twilight’s body.
After securing the unicorn’s body, the chains sank into the floor, anchoring themselves to the mana of the world. The spell was simple by design but very powerful and taxing on the caster. Making sure her chains were correctly formed and connected to the worlds natural mana, Quicksilver released her hold on the chains.
“The spell’s set.”
Twilight nodded and closed her eyes. almost instantly the chains started cracking. Glyphs, the same cast on the crystal, glowed on Twilight’s body as the chains snapped and dissolved into the mana they were made of.
When the last ethereal link faded away, Twilight opened her eyes and smiled hugely.
“Wonderful! The focuser worked!”
Quicksilver chuckled. “So the chains didn’t stop it’s magic at all?”
“No, there was no resistance at all. It’s not completely practical yet but with more research I think I can work out how to contain more than one spell in a crystal at a time. Then magic could be available to all pony races.”
Quicksilver tilted her head. “Won’t they still need a unicorn to activate it?”
Twilight shook her head as she wrote down some final notes in her research notes.
“No. All they need is physical contact and a bit of focus. The crystal does all the work. Better yet, since the crystal is like a container, the spell won’t rebound.”
After jotting down a few more things Twilight gathered her notes and started to go upstairs when Quicksilver stopped her.
“Don’t forget about that crystal you swallowed.”
“Oh, right.” Twilight stopped and made a few swallowing motions. She stuck out her tongue with the crystal resting on it. After placing the crystal on a nearby table, Twilight continued upstairs, followed by Quicksilver.
As the unicorn and the changeling were taking a break, Quicksilver decided to strike up a conversation.
“Twilight how can you get someone to talk about something that’s bothering them?”
Twilight's brow lifted. “What brought this on?”
“Lightning’s been keeping something secret. I don’t know what it is, but I feel it’s important.” Quicksilver sighed.
Twilight tapped her chin in thought. “Well why not just be direct? Maybe she’s just worried about your reaction, so show her she doesn’t have to be afraid to tell you what’s going on.”
Quicksilver lowered her head. “I don’t know about that. I’m not sure how I’ll react.”
Twilight looked confused. “But you’re together right? Shouldn’t that be enough?”
“It’s....not as simple as that. We feel for each other but neither of us has ever loved before. Lightning and I are still trying to build something.”
Twilight nodded. “Then what I said stands. Be direct, if you want to build anything you need to be honest and supportive.”
Quicksilver sighed. “I’ll try.”
The two sat in silence for the remainder of their break and didn’t talk much for the rest of the time Quicksilver was there. Twilight was focused on her work and Quicksilver was occupied with her thoughts on Lightning.
After working on Twilight’s crystal for the rest of the day, Quicksilver was now sitting in the living room of her home, still wondering how to question Lightning about her odd behavior. Luckily, fate decided to intervene and make her decision for her. There knocks sounded from the front door and Quicksilver moved to answer it.
Opening the door, Quicksilver was met by a pegasus stallion wearing a suit.
“Hello, miss, does a changeling named Lightning live here?”
Quicksilvers brow furrowed in confusion. “Yes she lives here. What’s this about?”
“Please give her these papers. Good day.”
The stallion hoofed over a manila folder before turning and flying away. Left with nothing but questions and a folder that could answer them, Quicksilver closed her door and returned to her seat in the living room.
She stared at the folder. After heaving a sigh Quicksilver opened the folder.
Quicksilver was sitting at the desk in her bedroom, the contents of the folder spread out over its surface. She shook her head and turned as she heard the door open. Lightning stood in the doorway.
“Hey, Silver. Why’re you up here? Scootaloo said you’ve been up here since she got home.”
Quicksilver left the desk, levitating the folder and it’s contents beside her.
“Close the door.”
Lightning stepped into the room fully and did as Quicksilver told her.
“What’s up?” Lightnings brow rose questioningly.
Quicksilver tossed the folder on the bed, spilling the papers inside across the comforter. Lightning read over a few of the papers illuminated by the bedroom light. Lightnings eyes widened and she frantically turned to quicksilver.
“I can explain. I-”
“You what Lightning? You hid this from me, from Scootaloo. Why didn’t you tell me about this? Don’t you trust me?”
Lightnings head lowered, her ears flat against her head as she moved closer to Quicksilver.
“I didn’t want you to worry. I didn’t want Scootaloo to worry. I wanted to protect her.”
Quicksilver sat on the floor and sighed again.
“Lightning, you said you wanted to try and build something. we can’t do that if you keep secrets. I can understand that you didn’t want to upset Scootaloo so I’ll forgive you. Next time though tell me, I’m here for you, Lightning.”
Quicksilver leant forward and gently nuzzled Lightnings neck before turning to look at the scattered papers on the bed.
“So what’ll we need to do for the trial?”
“Well, Berry, our lawyer, said she’d be looking into some laws about foal adoption and extenuating circumstances.”
As Lightning went on explaining about what Berry had already told her, neither noticed the door was open slightly. Nor did they notice the quiet hoofsteps leading away from their door.
Scootaloo paced the length of her room, it had been fixed and she’d been glad to have a space of her own again. The orange filly was especially thankful she had the room so she could digest what she’d just overheard, namely that there was a trial in the works that could decide her fate.
Halting her frantic pacing, Scootaloo inhaled deeply to try and reign in the hectic swirling storm of thoughts in her head.
I don’t need to panic. Mom and dad will handle this. But what if they don’t? What’ll happen to me?
As the question entered her mind, Scootaloo’s eyes widened in fear.
Will I go back to the orphanage, or will they just stick me somewhere else? No. No, no no no! I can’t leave! I like it here, I like Lightning and Quicksilver and...
Realising that she was panicking, Scootaloo shook her head and began pacing again.
There’s gotta be something I can do, but what? There’s not much I can do by myself so....
Then it hit her like a train. She didn’t have to do anything alone.
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle can help me! Yeah, I’ll tell ‘em about this and we’ll figure something out. Maybe we can even keep the trial from happening, it’s perfect!
With a solid idea finally worked out Scootaloo hopped into her bed to get some sleep. She knew that if she wanted to pull off anything she’d need all the energy she could get.
When Scootaloo woke up, she rushed through breakfast and out the door before Lightning or Quicksilver could ask what the filly was up too. Foregoing her scooter, Scootaloo flew as fast as she could toward the CMC clubhouse. Being a weekend, she was sure Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were already there.
Said earth and unicorn fillies were sitting around the table of the clubhouse when Scootaloo rocketed through the window. Scootaloo collided with the wall opposite the window, bouncing off it and landing on the table where Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle sat.
Before her friends could ask if she was alright, Scootaloo shot to her hooves and fixed the two with an urgent look in her eyes. “Girls, I need your help!”
Apple Bloom stood and quirked a brow at Scootaloo. “Why, what’s goin’ on?”
Scootaloo shook her head furiously. “No time to explain right now. We need to get some stuff.”
Scootaloo pointed at Sweetie Belle. “Sweetie, I need you to go to town and get as many lemons as you can fit in your saddle bags.”
Sweetie Belle was confused but nodded and left the clubhouse, heading towards town. Scootaloo then turned back to Apple Bloom.
“Apple Bloom, you’ve got rope at your house right?”
The apple filly nodded. “Well yeah but Ah don’t see...”
“Good, I need you to get a couple yards of it.”
Apple Blooms eyes narrowed and she stomped a hoof in annoyance.
“Dang it Scootaloo, what the hay’s got you so worked up? Yer actin’ all crazy.”
Scootaloo groaned at her friends stubbornness. “I’ll tell you when we’ve got what we need. Right now I’ve gotta get our diving gear and three black jumpsuits.”
Not giving her friend a chance to retort Scootaloo leapt off the table and flew out the window, leaving Apple Bloom staring after her friend.
Apple Bloom ran to the window, trying to get more information from her friend. “Scootaloo, why do Ah need to get rope? What’s lemons got to do with anything? Scootaloo!?”
Seeing that Scootaloo either didn’t hear, or was ignoring her Apple Bloom groaned and threw her forelegs up in frustration. ”Aww there she goes.”
Leaving the window Apple Bloom muttered to herself. “When she gets back I'mma give that filly a piece o’ mah mind.” Still muttering Apple Bloom made headed toward Sweet Apple Acres to get the rope.
Scootaloo exited Pinkie’s room and descended the stairs leading to the bakery, waving to Pinkie as she reached the bottom.
“Thanks for keeping this for us, Pinkie, and for lending us the jumpsuits.”
The party pony giggled. “No prob, Scoot. And if you happen to see a sea pony when you’re diving, say shoo be doo for me.”
Deciding not to ask when Pinkie had ever met a sea pony, Scootaloo left Sugarcube Corner and began trotting down the road. As she rounded a corner and started cutting through the Ponyville Park a familiar and unwelcome voice stopped her.
“So blank flank, what’s the latest idea to get your cutie mark? Maybe you should ask your parents how they got theirs. Too bad theirs are fake.”
Turning her head to face her tormenter, glaring pointedly at the filly.
“What d’you want Diamond Tiara? I don’t have time for this today, so just hurry up.”
Not phased by Scootaloo’s glare or tone, Diamond Tiara smirked, chuckling lightly.
“What’s got you all mad, Scootaloo? Is it the fact that you still don’t have a cutie mark, or that your parents are monsters that need to be thrown out of town?”
Scootaloo considered herself a pretty mellow pony. It took a lot to get under her skin and she’d normally just let whatever Diamond Tiara or any other pony said roll off her back. But with the threat of losing Lightning and Quicksilver, the only family Scootaloo had ever known, Scootaloo snapped.
Her heated glare became cold and sharp as Scootaloo walked closer to Diamond tiara. At first the spoiled filly wasn’t intimidated, but as Scootaloo got closer the look in her eyes made Diamond Tiara take a step back. Even when Diamond tried to keep space between them, the pegasus just kept stalking closer, the same cold look in her eyes.
When Diamonds back hoof connected with the trunk of a tree she gasped. Realizing that she was caught, the only thing she could do was watch as Scootaloo closed the last few inches between them. When the fillies were muzzle to muzzle Scootaloo spoke. And just like her eyes, Scootaloo’s voice was sharp and cold.
“You think this is funny? You think that it’s fine for me to lose the only family I’ve ever had just because they’re different? What if you were going to lose your family, huh? No home, no friends, just a bunch of random fillies and colts that only look out for themselves and caretakers that barely give you the time of day. I won’t go back to that, I got away from the orphanage for a reason and I won’t go back.”
Diamond shivered slightly but she was confused. “What... What are you talking about?”
Scootaloo quirked a brow and then chuckled darkly. “You don’t even know, do you? You don’t know how your dad’s trying to ruin my and my parents’ lives. And you’re joking about everything as if it’s no big deal? You spoiled little brat.”
Diamond was shocked. Her father wanted to take Scootaloo from her family? What else was he doing she didn’t know about? Diamond had thought her father wanted to get the changelings separated from Ponyville, but Scootaloo made it sound much worse.
“Shut it, Diamond. You’re just like your dad. You act all nice for the public but then you bully anyone different from you.”
Diamond Tiara hung her head. Seeing that the filly wasn’t going to say anything else Scootaloo turned got back on route for the clubhouse.
Scootaloo trotted through the clubhouse door to find Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom had gotten what she’d asked for. Setting down her items, Scootaloo turned to her friends, taking a seat at the table the other two were.
“Sorry for not explaining things right away but we need to get this done quick if it’s gonna work.”
Sweetie Belle’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What’s gotta get done? I don’t even know what we’re doing!”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Sweetie’s right, I think y’all owe us an explanation. What’s got yer tail in a tangle anyway?”
Scootaloo sighed heavily. “I found out last night that Filthy Rich is trying to take me from Lightning and Quicksilver. He’s taking them to court.”
Apple Bloom’s jaw went slack and Sweetie Belle blinked slowly before leaning forward a bit.
“You wanna run that by us again?”
“I was walking to my room when I heard Lightning and Quicksilver talking about something. I thought maybe they were getting worried about living here again so I decided to listen in. It looks like Filthy Rich is in a group that doesn’t want changelings in Ponyville so he’s trying to use the both of them like some kinda example. I’m not really sure but I do know that if he wins I’ll probably get sent back to the orphanage and I’m not gonna sit back and let that happen.”
“Well that’s fine and dandy Scoot, but what’re you gonna do about it? It sounds like there ain't much ya can do.”
Scootaloo grinned at Apple Bloom. “Simple. We’re gonna take Filthys’ evidence. No evidence, no trial.”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle traded looks before the earth filly spoke.
“Not ta rain on yer parade but how in the hay do you think we’re gonna do that?”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah, and besides that what do lemons, rope, diving gear and jumpsuits have to do with any of this?”
Scootaloo’s grin widened a bit. “It’s all part of my master plan. See I figure Filthy Rich is keeping whatever he’s got on mom at his house. So all we have to do is get in, get what he’s got and get out.”
Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. “Well how exactly is that gonna go down then?”
Scootaloo left the table and headed for the trunk that the crusaders kept in the clubhouse. After digging through it for a minute, Scootaloo returned to the table with a map they’d gotten from Twilight months ago. Seeing as their hoof drawn map had been marked excessively with red X’s, they needed a replacement. This map however was more detailed, showing all of Ponyville and not just a few landmarks.
Scootaloo unfolded the map and pointed to a large house on the northeast edge of town.
“This is Diamond Tiara’s house. Remember how she bragged that it was like a castle cuz it’s got that big pond around half of it like a moat? That’s our way in.”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle focused on the house Scootaloo pointed at, and noticed that a pond did partially circle the house. The body of water actually coming quite close to the rear of the residence.
“Now before you ask how we’re gonna do this, here’s my plan..”
After listening for several minutes as Scootaloo explained her “genius” plan Apple Bloom was giving her friend a look that said, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
Meanwhile Sweetie Belle nodded approvingly. “You know that’s not half bad.”
“Not half bad? That there plan’s all bad. Yer not actually thinkin’ of goin’ along with this are ya?” Apple Bloom asked while directing the look she’d previously focused on Scootaloo to Sweetie Belle.
“Well why not? We’ve gotta help, this is Scootaloo’s family on the line.”
Apple Bloom shook her head. “Ah cain’t believe what Ah’m hearin’. Scootaloo wants ta break into somebody's house and yer goin along with it?”
Scootaloo braced her forehooves on the table, leaning towards Apple Bloom.
“Wouldn’t you do whatever you could to help your family?”
The question caused Apple Bloom to pause for a second. When she decided to answer her voice was unsure.
“Well ‘course Ah would. But ain’t there a better way than just bustin’ into the guys house?”
Scootaloo’s shoulders sagged and her head lowered. “Maybe there is but I can’t think of it. The trial’s in three days, I can’t just sit around and wait. I need to do something and this is the best I’ve got.”
Sweetie Belle moved next to Scootaloo and put a foreleg around her while throwing a pleading look toward Apple Bloom. After a few seconds Apple Bloom groaned in defeat.
“All right fine, we’ll do this but Ah still think this idea’s screwy.”
Scootaloo’s head rose and she smiled widely. “You’ll do it?”
“Thanks, Apple Bloom! You won’t regret it, this is gonna solve everything!”
With that Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle went through what they’d gathered and talked about parts of the plan while Apple Bloom shook her head lightly.
“Ah got a bad feelin’ that this is gonna bite us all in the flank. Guess the only thing to do now is get on with it.”
As the sun drifted lower in the sky the three fillies worked out how best to accomplish their mission. Telling each of their families that they were having a sleepover in the clubhouse, the three waited for nightfall.
The night was calm in Ponyville. The houses were dark and the the ponies inside slept soundly. The only thing odd was a cloud that moved across the skyline. The cloud wasn’t odd because it moved but because it moved against the wind. The cloud continued it’s path until it hovered near the home of the Rich family.
When the cloud stopped, Scootaloo poked her head from inside and quickly looked around. Seeing all the lights out in the house, she grinned and drew her head back inside the cloud. Seconds later Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, both clad in jumpsuits and diving gear, were lowered from inside the cloud on rope.
Apple Bloom turned to Sweetie as they were lowered to the water below.
“Ah still can’t believe Scoot was able to hold us up and push that cloud at the same time.”
Sweetie Belle shrugged. “We were tied to her so all she had to do was stand and flap her wings. Good thing she finally learned to fly or someone could’ve seen us walking through town.”
Apple Bloom nodded then turned her head down to see that the waters surface was only a few inches away. The fillies took a breath before untying themselves and diving into the water.
Feeling the rope go slack, Scootaloo poked her head through the cloud again and watched the water below. After a while she was barely able to make out two black figures crawl onto the bank of the pond and slink to the back of the house.
Scootaloo grinned, happy that the jumpsuits made them harder to see. The pegasus then gathered the rope and coiled it around her body before hopping out of the cloud and gliding to where her friends had gone.
When Scootaloo got to the back of the house she found her friends beside the back door.
“Ok guys now we need to get in. Sweetie, you got the lemons?”
Sweetie nodded and tilted her head. “Yeah but what should we do with them?”
“Well duh, we need to get the back door open and you can make lemons explode.”
Apple Blooms eyes widened. “We cain’t do that! The door’d come of the hinges!”
Scootaloo’s brows shot up in surprise. “Really? I thought they’d pop like a firework.”
Sweetie chuckled nervously. “Less like a firework and more like Pinkie Pie after drinking coffee black with twelve sugars.”
Apple bloom nodded. “Yup.”
Scootaloo scratched her head in thought. “Shoot! That was supposed to be our way in. Wait, what if we use pieces of the lemon instead of the whole thing?”
Sweetie Belle shrugged. “Maybe.”
Sweetie Belle hoofed a lemon to Apple Bloom who tore off a chunk of the lemon and wedged it between the door and the curved handle just above the lock. Moving away from the door Sweetie Belle focused her magic on the lemon piece. Concentrating on levitating the piece, it glowed the same light blue as her magic before bursting with a low pop.
The three fillies waited anxiously, wondering if the sound had woken anyone. After hearing nothing, and seeing no lights come on the friends approached the door.
As they got closer Scootaloo smirked, giving a cocky glance to Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle on either side of her she said one thing as she walked through the now open door.
The three fillies crept down the halls as quietly as they could. Going at a pace that was half the speed of a normal trot, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle made there way through the Rich family house searching for wherever Filthy Rich kept important items.
After retreating from a recently searched room, that turned out to only be for storage, Apple Bloom turned to Scootaloo and whispered.
“You sure Mr. Rich even has this evidence yer lookin’ for? Wouldn’t his lawyer have it or somethin’?”
Scootaloo shook her head. “No way, he’s definitely got it.”
“How do you know?” Sweetie Belle questioned with a brow raised.
“Think about it, if he’s going through all this trouble to try and get mom and dad punished or whatever he’s gotta be keeping the important stuff with him.”
Apple Bloom sighed. “Maybe, but Ah still think all this is a bad idea.”
Scootaloo chuckled. “You worry too much Bloom. Just focus on finding the evidence.”
Sweetie Belle tilted her head. “Would it be in a safe or something?”
“Probably. But enough chatter, we’ve got work to do.”
After that statement Scootaloo peeked into another room while her friends took different ones and the search continued.
Time dragged on as the fillies continued their search. Through tea rooms, sitting rooms, closets, a kitchen, a den, a dining room and even a rather large home library there was no sign of anything, anywhere that Filthy would keep what the three friends were looking for.
Scootaloo sat on the plush carpet of the foyer with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. All wore similar looks of fatigue.
Scootaloo groaned quietly in frustration. “I didn’t find anything. What about you guys? Any luck?”
Apple Bloom shook her head. “Nope.”
Sweetie Belle sighed. “Me neither. What now?”
Scootaloo rose a hoof and pointed behind the two. “Lets try upstairs. I read in Daring Doo: A Nobles Secret, that rich ponies live on the upper floors of these big houses. Maybe Filthy Rich has an office or something where he’s keeping the evidence.”
Sweetie Belle shrugged. “it’s worth a look but won’t it be harder to look around up there?”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Yeah, if they live on them upper floors then that means they sleep there. Explains why no one came runnin’ when we blew that door Ah guess.”
Scootaloo stood and made for the stairs, throwing a smile to her friends.
“Don’t worry, if we’re quiet then they won’t even know we were here.”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle followed after their friend. Both equally worried that something could go wrong but determined to help Scootaloo no matter the risk.
Once at the top of the stairs the trio was faced with a three way divide. Ahead of them was a short hall that led to a pair of double doors. To the left and right hallways went around the staircase and branched off to other parts of the house.
Scootaloo scratched her head while looking from one path to the next before going forward.
“Let’s search this room first. Since it’s the only one this way, it shouldn’t take too long.”
Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom nodded as they followed Scootaloo to the large doors. Using her magic Sweetie quietly turned the handles of the doors and eased them open. When the doors fully opened Scootaloo smiled.
At the back of the room facing the door a desk sat between a pair of pillars that held a bust of Filthy Rich. And above the desk was a large portrait of who Scootaloo guessed was Stinkin’ Rich, the founder of the Rich family fortune.
Aside from that the room housed a few end tables and chairs as well as a safe to the left of the desk. All in all Scootaloo was sure this was an office if she ever saw one.
“Come on, let’s get at that safe.”
Apple Bloom rushed in front of her friend and fixed her with a hard stare.
“Scoot, Ah know yer only trin’ to help yer folks and Ah can respect that but don’t ya think this’s gone to far?”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “Huh?”
Sweetie Belle stepped up and stood beside Apple Bloom.
“She’s right Scootaloo. I mean what are we gonna use to get in the safe anyway?”
Scootaloo nodded to Sweetie’s saddle bags. “Lemons.”
Apple Bloom huffed and rolled her eyes. “Oh sure let’s do that. Come on Scootaloo, if Sweetie explodes them lemons Ah just know someone’s gonna hear us. Face it, we can’t get the evidence so let’s get while the gettin’s good.”
Scootaloo grit her teeth in frustration. “I didn’t come this far to...”
Suddenly Scootaloo turned her head towards the open doors and pitched her ears forward. After staring for a few seconds she turned to her friends with a look of panic.
“Someone’s coming! Close the doors and hide!”
Sweetie Belle lit her horn and closed the doors then joined her friends in franticly looking for a hiding place.
Apple Bloom turned in a circle before focusing on Scootaloo. Her voice hushed but thick with panic.
“There ain’t nowhere to hide! What do we do!?”
Scootaloo scanned the room and noticed the pillars beside the desk. They were decorative and wide. Wide enough to hide behind safely if no one looked to closely.
Hearing faint hoof steps outside the doors Scootaloo pointed to the pillars.
“You two hide behind those. I’ll just hover close to the ceiling and hope whoever’s coming doesn’t look up.”
Her friends nodded and scurried behind the pillars just as the door began to open. Not wasting a second more, Scootaloo shot up and hovered over the door frame.
The door opened and Filthy Rich strolled in dressed in a nightshirt. The stallion yawned and headed for his desk. Not wanting to risk being seen Scootaloo followed Filthy just overhead and out of sight, hoping that nothing made him look up.
When Filthy reached his desk he pulled a stack of papers from a drawer and flicked on his desk lamp. Retrieving a pen from its holster to his right Filthy began filling out paperwork while muttering to himself. Unaware that he had three sets of ears listening in.
“I can’t believe the bits it took to set up this trial. But I guess sending a warning to these changelings is worth it. Anything to keep my town safe from those monsters.”
Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle listened as Filthy kept working and muttering to himself. Each sentence the stallion uttered was either related to the trial or the changelings in general and made Scootaloo wonder, was Filthy really just trying to ruin the changelings lives? Or did he believe he was doing the right thing.
Scootaloo shook her head lightly as she watched Filthy.
Maybe I was wrong about him but either way I need to do something to stop this trial.
Scootaloo’s thoughts were derailed as a voice came from the doorway.
“Daddy, what’re you doing up so...”
Scootaloo starred, eyes wide at Diamond Tiara. Diamond was standing in the doorway and staring right back. Scootaloo clenched her eyes shut and waited for the inevitable.
It’s over. I couldn’t help mom and dad. I failed.
Filthy Rich looked up from his work and rose a brow at his daughter who seemed to be staring into space.
“Diamond, what’s wrong?”
Diamond Tiara blinked and focused on her father.
“I, uh.... What do you think of the changelings?”
Scootaloo opened her eyes and stared questioningly at Diamond. Of all the things Diamond Tiara could have said, that wasn’t anywhere near what Scootaloo thought she’d say.
Diamond Tiara flicked her eyes up to Scootaloo and winked quickly before focusing on her father.
Diamond nodded. “Yeah. Why do you want to get rid of them so bad?”
Filthy walked around his desk and sat in front of Diamond.
“I want to get rid of them because they could hurt someone. I know the Princesses want to make peace with them but they’re just too dangerous to trust. Why so curious?”
Diamond shook her head. “Just asking. Could you get me a glass of water?”
Filthy smiled and ruffled the fillies mane. “Sure thing sweetheart. After that it’s back to bed ok.”
Diamond nodded as Filthy left. When her father was out of sight Diamond motioned for Scootaloo to come down.
Giving Diamond the benefit of the doubt, Scootaloo fluttered down next to Diamond Tiara.
“What was that about?”
Diamond Tiara glanced at Scootaloo before trotting to Filthys desk. After rummaging through a drawer for a few seconds Diamond came back with a large folder.
Diamond put the folder at Scootaloo’s hooves. “Here’s the evidence for the trial. I found it after you and I.... talked in the park. You’re here for this right?”
Scootaloo looked from the folder to Diamond.
“Yeah, but why’re you...”
Diamond waved a hoof dismissively.
“No time right now. Just take this and get out before Dad get’s back.”
Scootaloo nodded and put the folder on her back.
“Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle let’s go.”
Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom left their hiding spots and rushed out the office doors. As Scootaloo went to follow Diamond Tiara spoke up.
“We’ll have a talk about you breaking into my house later.”
Scootaloo was about to defend herself but settled for a quick nod and a smile before turning and following after her friends.
When the three fillies made it outside Scootaloo put the folder in Sweetie’s saddle bag then flew up to the cloud she’d left over the rich house. Getting her friends secured to her body with rope again Scootaloo navigated the cloud back to their clubhouse.
Once inside Scootaloo set the folder on the table and looked to her two friends.
“Well... That wasn’t how I thought things would go but I’ll count this as a mission success.”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah. It was nice of Diamond Tiara to just give this to you.”
Apple Bloom just shook her head as she gave the folder a quizzical look.
“It sure was. But what Ah cain’t figure out is why she did it.”
Scootaloo shrugged. “We’ll have to ask her later.”
Receiving a nod from her friends the three began getting out of their jumpsuits.
Sweetie Belle got out of her jumpsuit first and glanced at her flank. Heaving a sigh she turned to Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.
“No cutiemark. Oh well.”
Apple Bloom chuckled. “What? You wanted a breaking and entering cutiemark?”
Scootaloo brought a hoof to her face. “Aww! I didn’t even think of that! We could have gotten cuttiemarks in like spy stuff or something!”
Apple Bloom shook her head. “Heh, if it’s all the same to you Ah’d rather not have a cutiemark for that kinda thing. Way too stressful. Anyway, why don’t you pop open that folder and see what’s in it?”
Scootaloo nodded and reached for the folder. Flipping open the cover She began reading through some of the papers.
“Yep, looks like everythings here.”
Sweetie Belle yawned. “You sure?”
“Yeah. I can’t understand most of this stuff but it’s got mom and dad’s names in here so it must be it.”
Sweetie yawned again. “Well then I’m going to get some sleep. Night you two.”
Apple Bloom followed after Sweetie Belle and helped her set up the sleeping bags the three kept in the tree house.
After skimming a few more pages Scootaloo closed the folder and crawled into her own sleeping bag.
Before she fell asleep Scootaloo gave the folder a final look and smiled.
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
Scootaloo was sleeping peacefully, curled up in her sleeping bag on the clubhouse floor. As far as the filly was concerned all was right with the world. Untill she was rudely awakened by a hoof poking her forehead.
Groaning, Scootaloo cracked her eyes open and saw the blurry outline of a pony standing over her.
The pony shook it’s head and trotted to the nearby window, pulling the shutter cord and letting in the morning sun.
“Come on blank flank up and at ‘em.”
Hearing that line, it took Scootaloo all of three seconds to become fully awake. Focusing on the previously mysterious pony Scootaloo rubbed her eyes to make sure she was right.
“Diamond Tiara? How’d you find the clubhouse?”
Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes and smirked at the pegasus.
“I keep tabs on you guys, well I deep tabs on everyone really but that’s beside the point. Wake up the other two, we need to talk.”
Scootaloo was about to question Diamond but knowing how the rich filly was she simply sighed and roused Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. After some not so gentle prodding, grumbling, and pulling the three friends were up and sitting at one end of their clubhouses table while Diamond sat opposite them.
Apple Bloom yawned and turned her groggy stare on Diamond.
“So, what’s so important you gotta wake us up so early in the mornin’ to talk about?”
Diamond gave the apple filly a flat look. “You three broke into my house.”
The Scootaloo and Apple Bloom chuckled nervously as Sweetie Belle spoke up. “Oh yeah, we did. Sorry about the back door.”
Diamond Tiara waved a hoof in dismissal. “Never mind the door. Just tell me why you decided to break into my house of all things when you could've, oh I don’t know, asked me for help.”
Apple Bloom scoffed. “Yeah cuz you’ve been so helpful and understandin’ in the past. What were we thinkin’?”
Diamond Tiara’s ears dropped and she cast her eyes to the floor. “Ok I guess I deserved that.”
Sweetie Belle got up and moved to sit closer to Diamond. Putting a hoof on her shoulder as she spoke.
“But she’s kinda right Diamond. You’ve never been very nice, or helpful, or considerate, or....”
Diamond’s head rose and she gave Sweetie Belle an annoyed look. Sweetie Belle coughed awkwardly and continued.
“What I mean is, you’ve never been friendly to us before so why help us now?”
Diamond gestured at Scootaloo. “She gave me a few things to think about. But even before that I.... thought about how I’ve been to you three. And to a few others.”
Diamond looked at each of the others in turn before lowering her head again . “What I want to say is.... I’m sorry.”
After Diamonds apology, silence dominated the clubhouse. Apple Bloom was staring slack jawed at Diamond while Sweetie Belle sat with a confused look on her face. Scootaloo meanwhile, was staring at Diamond with a look of concentration. After a few seconds of looking the rich filly over, Scootaloo stood and moved to sit beside Diamond.
“Well if you’re sorry then how about we be friends?”
Diamonds head shot up to look at Scootaloo who was holding a hoof in her direction and wearing a smile. After glancing at Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, who wore smiles of their own, Diamond took the offered hoof.
As Scootaloo released her hoof Diamond tilted her head.
“Thanks but why would you want to be my friend after everything I’ve done?”
Scootaloo shrugged. “I gave a changeling the chance to be my mom so why not give you a chance to be my friend?”
Diamonds confused expression melded into a smirk.
“Well it might hurt my reputation but I guess I can hang out with you blank flanks.”
The other three fillies rolled their eyes and Apple Bloom bumped Diamonds shoulder with her own.
“You ain’t ever gonna change are ya?”
Daimond chuckled. “Nope.”
Sweetie Belle giggled. “Well now that we’re friends how about we go to Sugar Cube Corner to celebrate.”
Receiving nods all around the four fillies vacated the clubhouse and headed toward town.
As the fillies went about their day Lightning and Quciksilver were sitting in their living room chatting.
“So Silver, why aren’t you at work?”
Quicksilver shrugged. “Same reason you’ve been reassigned. Looks like the elements went on some mission or other. At least that’s what I’d guess.”
Nodding, Lightning rose from her chair and trotted towards the door.
“Since we’ve got some time to ourselves how about we enjoy the nice weather?”
Quicksilver smiled as she moved to follow Lightning. “Sure. Let’s have some fun.”
After exiting their home the pair headed down the street Quicksilver glanced at Lightning.
“Any idea where you want to go?”
Lightning nodded with a smile. “I was thinking the park. sound good?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Turning right onto main street Lightning and Quicksilver continued down till they were at the more rural part of Ponyville. Arriving at Ponyville park the two found a tree to recline under while watching the other groups of ponies around them.
Quicksilver chuckled as she saw a group of fillies and colts playing tag. Watching the group a bit longer she turned to Lightning with a smirk.
“Hey Lightning, feel up to a game of tag?”
Lightning rose a brow. “Tag?”
Quicksilver stood and poked Lightning in the forehead. “Yep, and you’re it.”
Before Lightning could react Quicksilver galloped away shouting over her shoulder. “Catch me if you can slowpoke!”
Lightning stared blankly for a second before springing up and chasing after Quicksilver. “Oh it’s on Silver!”
At first the two remained in their pony forms as they chased each other around the park but soon they flashed to their changeling forms and used the ground and air. Jumping, rolling, zigging and zagging all around Ponyville like a pair of foals at play.
Lightning had no clue what Quicksilver was thinking when she started this game but all she cared about now was that she was having fun. More fun than she’d had in a long time. Doing something as simple as chasing Quicksilver, or being chased when Silver was it, felt really good to Lightning.
After playing for the better part of an hour the two sat down to rest, laughing lightly as they did.
Lightning leaned against Quicksilver as she caught her breath. “I needed that, thanks Silver.”
Quicksilver threw a leg around Lightning, holding her close. “I thought you could use a little fun after all the stuff you’ve been through.”
Lightning nuzzled Quicksilver, smiling. ‘Yeah, sorry again for keeping it a secret from you.”
Quicksilver shook her head. “Water under the bridge. I understand why you hid the truth. Next time just let me help, it’d save you a lot of stress.”
Lightning made an affirmative noise before leaning up and kissing Quicksilvers cheek. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks again for the game.”
Smiling the pair relaxed against each other, just enjoying each others company and watching as a few clouds rolled by in a lazy breeze.
At Sugarcube Corner, four fillies sat at a table chatting happily, that is until a certain gray glasses wearing filly interrupted them.
“Diamond? What’re you doing with these losers?”
Diamond Tiara glanced at her long time friend before turning to Scootaloo and the others. “Excuse me for a second.”
As Diamond hopped off her seat and lead Silver Spoon away Sweetie Belle looked at her friends worriedly.
"You think Silver Spoon will be mad at Diamond for hanging out with us?”
Apple Bloom shrugged. “Beats me, Ah’m still surprised she’s bein’ as nice as she is. Usually Ah cain’t stand her for more than a minute er two but she’s been pretty ok today.”
Scootaloo chuckled. “Hey who knows, maybe she’ll even convince Silver Spoon to be nice to us.”
Sweetie Belle smiled at that. “That’d be nice. It sure would be a lot more fun without them being bullies anymore.”
As the conversation between the three drifted to different topics Diamond had led Silver Spoon to a quieter corner of the bakery to talk.
Silver Spoon gave Diamond an annoyed look. “So Diamond, what’s up with you? Are you friends with those three now?”
Diamond flicked her mane and adopted a bored expression. “Well maybe I am, is that such a bad thing?”
Silver Spoon rolled her eyes. “Oh come on Diamond. They’re just some nobody blank flanks. Why would you even want to be around them, let alone be their friend.”
Diamnod’s head lowered as she sighed tiredly. “Spoony, how long have we been friends?”
The use of her foalhood friends nickname for her made Silver Spoon’s expression soften and become serious.
“Since we were foals Diamond. You’ve always been my best friend.”
Diamond nodded. “And since then how many other friends have you or I had?”
Silver Spoon tilted her head in thought. “Well....”
Seeing her friend rack her brain in a feudal attempt to think of anyone Diamond continued.
“See? Spoony, I’m not just your best friend I’m your only friend. And your my only friend. What does that tell you?”
Silver spoon scoffed. “Well obviously everyone else is just intimidated by how great we are.”
Diamond sighed in frustration. “Really? Think about how we’ve treated everyone else. Even when they did nothing to us. Like Twist. First we teased her for not having her cutie mark but even when she got it did we stop?”
Silver Spoon stared at Diamond, stunned, as the pink filly spoke. Her tone rising in volume and anger.
“No, we didn’t. We just kept finding more reasons to tease her. And not just her, we do it to everyone! We push everyone else away and I’m tired of it!”
Diamond was breathing hard as she finished, earning a few stares from the other patrons who’d heard her. For her part Silver Spoon was still unable to say anything to rebuff what her friend had said. She knew that her friend was right, they did tease the other fillies and colts their age but they weren’t that bad. Right?
When Diamond calmed down a bit she continued. “Spoony. My dad’s going to try and get Scootaloo’s parents kicked out of Ponville. And he’s going to take Scootaloo away from them. Scootaloo called me out when I teased her about it and I got to thinking. Should I be the way I am just because somebody’s different then me? My dad thinks he’s right but he’s not. Just like I’m not right for teasing other ponies.”
Silver Spoon swallowed nervously before she finally decided to speak. “Does this mean that....that you don’t want to be my friend anymore? You’re gonna be theirs?”
Diamond shook her head. “No Spoony, I want all of us to be friends. I want to be a better pony then I’ve been. So what d’you say? You think you can be their friend?”
Silver Spoon looked to the table that Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootalo sat before turning back to Diamond.
“I’ll try Diamond. But one question. Have we really been so bad to them? To the other ponies in our class?”
Diamond nodded, her ears low. “Really bad Spoon. I thought about it the rest of the day after Scootaloo talked me down and the truth is we’ve not been very good ponies.”
Silver Spoon nodded then sighed. “Like I said, I’ll try to get along with them but they kinda annoy me.”
Diamond chuckled. “Don’t worry Spoon, they still annoy me but they’re not so bad after a while. Come on.”
Leading Silver Spoon back to the others, the five fillies talked and within a few minutes the bakery was full of laughter coming from the table as the group of five began joking and teasing one another. Pinkie looked across the room from her post at the counter and giggled.
“Not to sure about how this works with canon but hey, it’s nice when somepony makes new friends. Nice work author.”
Mrs. Cake, who’d come out to restock the display at the counter, gave Pinkie an odd look.
“Who’re you talking to dear?”
Pinkie just giggled again. “Oh nobody Mrs. Cake. Just a “friend”.”
Giving a shrug and a small smile Mrs. Cake went back to the kitchen to continue baking.
Meanwhile at the law office of Pokey and Pierce, Filthy Rich was sitting at a desk with Pierce and was smiling broadly as the two talked over a glass of scotch.
“Well Mr. Pierce, soon this trial and hopefully these changelings will all be behind us by tomorrow.”
Pierce smiled as he patted a thick folder that sat on his desk. “Indeed Mr. Rich, everything’s certainly looking to be in our favor.”
Filthy nodded as he took a drink. Yes everything was going his way, and he had the evidence to prove it. Although he was confused as to where his copy went it didn’t matter. The trial was tomorrow, he would burry Lightning and then move on to getting the rest of the changelings out of his town.
The morning of the trial was a tense one for Scootaloo’s family. Lightning and Quicksilver sat off to one side of their living room while Berry, who’d come over early to go over their strategy, was explaining things to Scootaloo for what they thought was the first the filly had heard of the trial.
“So basically we might need you to be a character witness for your parents. You think you can do that?”
Scootaloo nodded with a grin. “You bet. I’ll tell everyone how awesome mom and dad are.”
Berry laughed and ruffled the fillies mane. “That’s the spirit. Now let’s head down to the courthouse. While we’re in the main chamber Scootaloo will be in a waiting area if or when we need her.”
Getting nods of confirmation, Berry led the family outside and toward the Ponyville justice building.
In the private office of Poky and Pierce, Filthy Rich was pacing anxiously.
“You’re sure this’ll work? I’ve put a lot of bits into this.”
Pierce sighed as he arranged papers into his briefcase. “Yes Mr. Rich I’m sure. What I plan to do is backed by law both solid and old enough that there’s no way to contest or dismiss it. Have no fear that by weeks end this changeling problem will be delt with.”
Filthy scoffed. “That’s something to look forward to. Honestly, I respect the princess but this is too much. Being allied with the griffons is trying enough but integrating the changelings into Equestria?”
Pierce chuckled. “Well that’s what ponies like us and our associates are for. To protect our fellow ponies in the light of royal oversight. Now let’s head out. Wouldn’t want to be late would we?”
Closing his briefcase Pierce and Filthy left the office, and trotted off to what they were sure was a trial already won in their favor.
Twilight was going over the last of her notes before she placed them in her saddlebags. Humming in satisfaction at her work she turned to the kitchen and called for Spike.
“I’m headed out now Spike. Keep an eye on the library while I’m gone.”
The baby dragon walked into the main room to see Twilight off.
“Sure thing Twi, but why’re you going again?”
“I told you Spike, Celestia put me in charge of the integration of the changelings into pony society in Ponyville. I need to see what this trial will mean for that. Also I’ve been called as an expert witness.”
Shrugging, Spike held the door as Twilight walked out. “Well either way, good luck.”
As Twilight trotted down the rode to the courthouse she smiled. “I don’t need luck. I’ve got research.”
Inside the courtroom Berry was sorting through her papers when Pierce walked in followed closely by Filthy Rich.
As Pierce sat his case on his table he turned and smirked at Berry.
“Good to see you Berry. You ready for the trial or are you nursing yet another hangover?”
Berry returned the smirk. “Not today, I wanted to be at the top of my game for this. Although seeing as it’s you I’m up against I could be drunk and win this.”
Pierce scoffed. “How you got a license to practice law I’ll never know.”
Berry laughed. “It’s called hard work Pierce. Not all of us had daddy pay our way through law school.”
Pierce growled and turned away from Berry who’s smirk widened at winning their little bout of words. Turning back to her own table Berry noticed Quicksilver and Lightning looking at her.
Quicksilver rose a brow. “Friend of yours?”
Berry chuckled. “I know Pierce from Baltimare law. He’s a rich boy who takes upperclass cases from other rich boys and girls. He was also my rival in law school.”
Lighting looked over at Pierce, who was talking to Filthy, before turning to Berry.
“Is he any good?”
Berry nodded. “He’s a good lawyer in that he knows what he’s doing, the problem with him is he’s arrogant. I’ve delt with him before, we only have to worry that he’s found some vague and obscure law that I might have missed.”
Before Lightning or Quicksilver could ask anything else the bailiff stomped his hoof loudly and called to the room.
“All rise for the honorable judge Mercy of Ponyville.”
As the bailiff said this a dappled orange and cream coated earth pony with a stark black mane came from a door behind the judges bench. She wore a pair of round wire rim glasses and a black jacket that was held closed with a belt that had the seal of Equestria as it’s buckle.
As judge Mercy sat, her bright yellow eyes scanned the court while her face held a neutral expression. Nodding once she rose a hoof then brought it down on the bench.
“All be seated.” When the shuffling of the ponies in attendance retaking their seats died, the judge continued.
“We are here today to witness the accusations brought by Mr. Rich against the defendants, Lightning and Quicksilver, on the counts of foalnapping.”
Turning to look at Pierce, Mercy continued. “Mr. Pierce you may begin.”
Pierce stood and trotted to the center of the court. “Thank you judge. Before we begin however I’d like to add to the charges by invoking the act of duality en masse.”
Judge Mercy rose a brow. “I’m not aware of this act or what bearing it has on this case Mr. Pierce. You’d better explain yourself and quickly.”
Pierce nodded. “Of course. The act I mentioned is a rather old but valid piece of Equestrian law whereby we can take the actions of a high standing member of a group and hold them accountable for the others of their kind. So I will restate, in addition to the charges of foalnapping I would like to make this case be a reflection on the changelings and use what is presented here to have them expunged from Ponyville if not all of Equestria.”
Berry rose to her hind legs and pointed a hoof at Pierce. “Objection! Judge I need not remind you or Mr. Pierce that this case was only brought to you on the pretense of my clients being charged with foalnapping. I would also think Mr. Pierce would have brought this case to a higher court if he wished to pursue this course of action. I motion that he be denied to railroad my clients and this court in such a way.”
Judge Mercy nodded. “Quite so Mrs. Punch. I agree that should Mr. Pierce want to continue his case it should be brought to a higher court. What say you Mr. Pierce?”
Pierce smiled. “Actually judge a higher court is not required. This act was put into effect during the Steel Hoof age. At the time there were many issues brought to court that needed a higher ruling and instead of going to a higher court the higher court was brought to the issue. As such I’ve taken the liberty of calling a Royal Magister to sit in on the proceedings and validify the outcome in this court.”
Giving a nod to the bailiff at the door, the pony opened it to reveal a deep blue unicorn stallion with an electric green mane. The stallion also wore a black jacket but it was embroidered with gold and silver lining, and the Equestrian seal on his belt was more stylized than the one judge Mercy wore.
The stallion walked into the courtroom and stood in front of the judges bench before bowing.
“Hello judge Mercy. I am Magister Justice, here to oversee these proceedings.”
For a few seconds the room was silent before Berry leaned over to Lighting and Quicksilver, whispering.
“Remember when I said we only had to worry about vague obscure laws? Well start worrying cuz I’ve never even read of this one.”
As Berry finished giving her clients that little warning she turned to the judge.
“Your honor, sidebar.”
Mercy waved the lawyers forward. As they approached Berry’s brow knit in frustration as she spoke in a hushed, agitated tone.
“Judge you can’t honestly believe or condone this can you? Pierce is blatantly trying to railroad my clients! How do we even know this “act” of his is even true?”
Pierce smiled and lit his horn. A paper flew from his briefcase and hovered before the judge.
“As you can see judge, This act bears the Royal seals of Celestia and Luna. This particular act was authorized by both sisters in a time when they had separate marks. It can’t be faked.”
As judge Mercy looked over the paper she turned to Berry with an apologetic look. “I’m sorry Mrs. Punch but he’s right. The mark here was made magically, if it was fake the seal or paper wouldn’t be as crisp as it is.”
His smile widening Pierce took the paper and floated it back to his case before addressing the judge.
“So judge, may we continue with the trial?”
Mercy rubbed her temple with a hoof before fixing Pierce with a stern look.
“Yes Mr. Pierce but if you bring in any more surprises I’m postponing the trial. Is that clear?”
Pierce nodded. “Crystal.”
Cursing silently Berry went back to her table and motioned a bailiff over to her.
“Check if Twilight Sparkle’s in the waiting area for witnesses. If she is tell her to get everything she has on changelings and get back here quick.”
The bailiff nodded then trotted away to do as he was asked.
As Pierce went into his opening statement Berry turned to Lightning and Quicksilver. Putting on a reassuring smile she whispered.
“Don’t worry. This might have been a sucker punch on Pierces part but you’ve still got Berry Punch on your side. We’ll find a way around this.”
Seeing her clients ease some Berry turned her attention to Pierce.
Well played Pierce. But the ball’s in my court now and I’m gonna spike it.
In the waiting area Scootaloo was sitting on a bench with other ponies when the door opened and a bailiff walked in. At the same time Diamond Tiara darted in and ran up to Scootaloo looking frantic.
“Scootaloo, we’ve got a problem.”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “What kind of problem?”
Diamond leant in and spoke in a rushed whisper. “My dad’s lawyer had a copy of that folder I gave you. We didn’t do a thing to stop the trial!”
Scootaloos eyes widened. “What?! Then what can we do?”
Diamond looked over at the bailiff talking to Twilight then turned back to Scootaloo.
“I’ve got an idea.”
Before Scootaloo could question what Diamond was going to do the pink filly rushed over to the bailiff and spoke to him briefly. After the bailiff nodded Diamond went back to Scootaloo and took a seat beside her.
Scootaloo rose a brow at Diamond. “So what was that about?”
Diamond smirked. “You’ll see.”
Giving a shrug Scootaloo sat back and began thinking about this new development.
Well horse apples! This couldn’t possibly get any...... I’d better not think that. Anyway I hope we can still win. Otherwise it’s goodbye parents, hello orphanage.
Sighing at the fact she was powerless to really do anything Scootaloo sat and waited to be called. Maybe what she said in the courtroom would help. That’s really all she could do now.
Back in the courtroom, Pierce and Berry had given their opening statements and were now going through their less important pieces of evidence and character witnesses. When Pierces current witness, a clerk at the orphanage Scootaloo was from, was dismissed the judge turned to Berry.
“Mrs. Punch, you may call your next witness.”
Berry stood on her hind legs and walked to the center of the court.
“I’d like to call a surprise witness your honor.”
Receiving a nod from the judge Berry continued. “I call Diamond Tiara to the stand.”
Filthy Rich’s jaw dropped and Pierce sood quickly.
“Your honor I object. Calling my clients daughter, a little filly, to the stand is absurd. She’s not involved in this case.”
Mercy gave Pierce a bored look. “You had no objections when Mrs. Punch wanted her clients daughter to be put on her witness list. Why not let Mr. Rich’s filly speak.”
Pierce continued, trying to keep Filthy calm. “Diamond Tiara has nothing to offer. She’s not affiliated with this case.”
Mercy turned to Berry. “Well Mrs. Punch? What is the reason for calling this filly?
Berry turned to look at Pierce and Filthy as she responded with a smirk. “Diamond Tiara is a friend of Scootaloo and asked to speak on her family's behalf.”
Mercy smiled. “Then I believe she does have something to offer. Objection overruled Mr. Pierce.”
As the argument was settled Diamond was led into the courtroom and took her place in the witness box.
Berry walked, still on her hind legs, and used a forehoof to gesture to the court. “Daimond, would you please tell us why you wanted to speak here today?”
Diamond nodded. “I wanted to help Scootaloo and her parents.”
Berry smiled. “That’s very nice of you, to want to help a friend like that. Now what exactly did you want to tell us?”
Diamond glanced at her father before taking a breath to continue. “My dad wants to get rid of the changelings and I don’t think that’s right.”
Berry rose a brow. “So you mean he has something against changelings?”
Diamond shook her head. “I don’t think so. He’s afraid of them. He thinks they’ll try to hurt us again.”
“And you don’t agree?”
Diamonds head shook again. “No. Scootaloo’s been happy with her parents and I’ve seen other changelings working in town. I don’t think they’re bad, just a bit weird.”
Berry chuckled. “Yes I guess they are. No further questions.”
Mercy looked at Pierce and the stallion sighed. “No questions for this witness.”
Mercy nodded. “Fine then. Diamond you may step down. I’m calling a one hour recess for lunch. We will reassemble after that time.”
As Ponies began to file out of the courtroom Lightning turned toward Berry.
“Did you plan that?”
Berry chuckled and smoothed the lapels on her blue suit. “Nope. That little filly just volunteered to speak for us. Scootaloo’s got some good friends.”
Quicksilver and Lightning gave each other confused looks. As far as they knew, Diamond and Scootaloo were at odds but maybe they’d been wrong. Either way it looked like things were starting to go their way. For now.
When the hour was up everyone took their places in the courtroom to continue. Getting a nod from judge Mercy, Pierce stood.
“I would like to call the orphanage operator, Placeholder, to the stand.”
Hearing her name the mare, an older mauve colored unicorn, made her way to the witness box. When she was seated Pierce began.
“Miss Holder, you run the orphanage where Scootaloo lived correct?”
Placeholder nodded. “Yes, going on thirty years now.”
Pierce began pacing before the jury box as he continued. “And in all that time have you always done your best for the fillies and colts there?”
Another nod. “I believe I have, yes.”
Pierce stopped and pointed at Lightning. “And have you ever seen this....mare enter the orphanage to adopt a filly, namely the filly scootaloo?”
The aged mare shook her head. “No,”
Pierce grinned. “And do you think a worthy, responsible parent would simply take a filly and fake the paperwork?”
Berry stood quickly. “Objection. He’s leading the witness.”
Pierce turned to the judge. “Your honor I’m merely asking a question that reflects on the actions that were taken by Miss Lightning.”
Mercy nodded. “Overruled Mrs. Punch. Please answer the question Miss Placeholder.”
Placeholder shook her head. “No I don’t think a responsible parent would have done what this mare did.”
Pierce made his way back to his table. “No further questions.”
Berry stood and straightened her tie. “Miss Placeholder, you said that you’ve done your best to provide for the fillies and colts under your care?”
Placeholder smiled. “Yes, I try to make sure they’re taken care of.”
Berry sood on her hind legs and picked up a paper from her table. “Then can you explain this statement given by one Scootaloo. “The caretakers of the orphanage never had time for us. They gave us food and a place to sleep but for everything else we were on our own. I was miserable there.”
Placeholder sighed. “I’m only one pony. I can’t watch the children twenty four seven. I just have to trust that my employees are doing their job. I’ve not had any complaints from the children so why should I worry?”
Berry rose a brow. “Why should you worry? Isn’t it your job to worry for those under your care? For all intents and purpose, you are their mother. That these actions happened under your watch should say something about your mode of operation.”
Placeholder shook her head. “The paperwork, though fake, was all in order. I had no idea that Scootaloo had been foalnapped.”
Berry chuckled. “The paperwork was in order. So you mean to say that as long as it looks like it’s right then you shouldn’t check? Shouldn’t worry that one of your charges was taken and is possibly in danger?”
Placeholder stuttered. “Well I.... You see it’s not...... Um...”
Berry waved a hoof dismissively and returned to her seat. “No further questions.”
Mercy turned to Placeholder. “You may step down.”
As Placeholder walked away Mercy turned her attention to Pierce. “Do you have any more witnesses?”
Pierce nodded. “I do. I’d like to call Dr. Bones to the stand.”
Dr. Bones, a young cream colored earth pony mare took her place at the witness box.
“Dr. would you please tell the court what your profession is?”
Bones nodded. “Yes. I am a cultural anthropologist. I study cultures both domestic and foreign to collect data on what affects them for a given location.”
Nodding, Pierce continued his questioning. “Dr. can you tell us what culture most resembles the changelings?”
Bones nodded. “From what I can tell, the changeling society is very much like the Zebrican Ohm-Selia culture. Very war like and ruled by a single figurehead that is followed without question.”
“Anything further Doctor?” Pierce said with a raised brow.
Bones shook her head. “Other than what I’ve said, no. I would need further interaction with changelings to say more.”
Pierce nodded and went back to his table while Mercy looked to Berry.
“Any questions Mrs. Punch?”
Berry stood. “Dr. Bones, are you an expert on changelings?”
Bones shook her head. “No.”
Berry nodded. “So do you think it’s possible that while the changelings show some traits relating to this Zebrican culture, they could also be very similar to ours?”
Bones nodded. “It’s not an unreasonable consideration. I simply don’t have enough experience to say for certain either way.”
Berry glanced at Pierce and smirked. “Nothing further.”
Mercy nodded. “The witness may step down.” As Bones left Mercy turned back to Berry. “Your next witness.”
Berry stood. “I call Twilight Sparkle to the stand.”
Twilight was led in by two bailiffs that were carrying saddlebags and a chart stand while Twilight carried several books in her magic. After the bailiffs set up the stand and set the saddlebags by the witness box Twilight took her seat.
Pierce chuckled. “Your honor I still fail to see why a librarian is considered to be the most knowledgeable source on changelings. Or if she’s even qualified to study them.”
Mercy quirked a brow and looked to Twilight. “I’d wondered that myself.”
Twilight smiled. “Oh that’s easy to explain. I’ve been named the Archmage of Ponyville, and as such any research and discoveries I make are completely valid. I’ve got the paperwork right here.”
Twilight levitated a scroll to Mercy. After looking over the paper she gave it to Justice, who sat beside her. Receiving a nod from Justice Mercy returned the scroll.
“Well everything seems in order but what exactly is it you’re going to show us Miss Sparkle?”
Berry gestured for Twilight to begin and the unicorn began to do one of the things she did best. Lecture.
“Well you see, after Princess Celestia put me in charge of organizing the changelings integration with us in this area I took it upon myself to learn more about them. By chance I met Shiv, now Quicksilver, who agreed to be my research assistant slash test subject. From her I’ve learned much about changelings and their workings.”
Berry nodded. “So tell us Twilight, what do your findings tell you about the changelings? Are they as Dr. Bones said or are they different?”
“The changelings are aggressive in nature, that’s true but that‘s the only part that Dr. Bones was correct in. You see, changelings are an evolution of a species of pony called breezies thought to have disappeared long ago.”
Twilight levitated an illustration of a breezy onto her stand. “The Breezies were insect like in that they had butterfly wings and antennae so it’s easy to see where the changelings got that attribute from. The changeling magic and need to feed on emotions was an adaptation that was developed to survive after the first rule of Discord.
Twilight now showed an old map highlighting the vast Everfree Forest. ”The chaos that he wrought on the Breezies portion of Equestria, now called the Everfree Forest, caused all natural food sources to be destroyed, thus leaving nothing for the breezies to live on. With no other means in their harsh new environment the breezies empathic magic turned into the mode by which they now feed on emotion.”
Pierce scoffed. “And how do you know that you’re right about all this?”
Twilight levitated several charts, graphs and maps into the air. “I simply asked Quicksilver about the movements of the changelings as they went from area to area in search of emotions and then overlapped the areas with the last known location of the breezies. As you can see, all the areas that were used by changelings are within a reasonable distance to the Everfree. Even the hive that was destroyed not to long ago wasn’t more than 100 miles from it. And given that the Everfree is roughly at the center of equestria it’s not unbelievable.”
Pierce shook his head. “Even so, how can you be sure that the changelings are in fact these long lost breezies?”
Twilight searched through one of her saddlebags and brought out a small vile of yellow crystals.
“These are sun shards, a type of crystal that was refined by breezies as a power source. The crystals only reacted to their magic and are virtually useless to other ponies.”
Twilight levitated the vile over to the table where Lightning and Quicksilver sat and dumped the crystals onto it. The crystals immediately started to glow faintly.
“Even though they’ve evolved the changelings still hold the same magical signature of their breezy ancestors.” Twilight said with a smile.
Pierced rolled his eyes. “That still doesn’t tell us if the changelings are harmless or not.”
Twilight shrugged. “Is any creature truly harmless. In my experience I’ve seen individuals, both pony and non, that have been a danger to others. Just look at the Crystal Empire. Their greatest enemy was their own king.”
Pierce sighed and slumped in his seat. “Nothing further.”
Berry grinned and sat in her seat. “I’ve nothing further either your honor.”
Mercy dismissed Twilight and Pierce called his next witness.
After several more witnesses from both sides the trial was quickly coming to an end. Mercy asked for final witnesses and Berry stood.
“I have one final witness. I call Scootaloo to the stand.”
Scootaloo trotted into the courtroom and sat in the witness box with a slightly anxious look on her face.
Berry smiled. “ Feeling a bit nervous Scootaloo?”
The filly nodded. “Kinda.’
Berry chuckled. “Well just tell the truth and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Now can you tell us why you’re here?”
Scootaloo nodded. “I wanted to stand up for my parents.”
“They must mean a lot to you.”
Scootaloo smiled. “Yeah, they’re great.”
Berry chuckled again. “I’m sure they are. Could you explain how you met your first parent, Lightning?”
“Well I was out in the apple orchards outside town. I was alone cuz my friends were doing stuff with their families and then Lighting just came out of nowhere. I was kinda scared at first cuz I was at the wedding when the invasion happened but Lightning only wanted to know why I was alone and sad.”
Berry rose a brow. “Why were you sad?”
Scootaloos ears dropped. “I was upset because I didn’t have a family. When I told Lightning about being alone she offered to be my mom if I gave her emotions so I did.’
“Lightning didn’t force you to be with her?”
Scootaloo shook her head quickly. “No, I wanted her to be my mom. I wanted to have what my friends had. A real family.”
Berry turned to Pierce with a smirk. “Your witness.”
Taking Berrys position by the witness box Pierce began. “Scootaloo, you think of Lighting and Quicksilver as your parents right?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah. The only ones I’ve ever had.”
“Are you sure those feelings are yours or are they what your “parents” want you to feel?”
Scootaloo tilted her head. “Huh?”
Pierce shrugged. “How can you be sure that they’ve not used their magic on you?”
“Are these glowing?’ Scootaloo asked while pointing at her eyes.
Pierce rose a brow. “No.”
Scootaloo folded her forelegs and smiled. “Then I’m not brainwashed. Changeling magic makes your eyes glow green.”
Berry stood. “That’s been proven your honor. It’s a side effect of changeling manipulation.”
Pierce sighed. “Nothing further your honor.”
With a nod Mercy dismissed Scootaloo. “Seeing as we’ve heard from all the witnesses I think it’s time to make a decision. The prosecution and defence will now give their final statements before the jury decides.”
Pierce stood and faced the jury. “My fellow ponies, you are faced with a decision that will impact our society for years to come. This case isn’t just about the foalnapping of one innocent filly. It’s about the safety of other fillies and colts like her. It’s about the safety of our way of life. The act committed by these changelings shows that they can’t be trusted. They will always pose a threat. So I ask you, find these changelings guilty and save us from what is sure to be a mistake of trying to civilize a race that can’t be civilized.”
When Pierce took his seat Berry stood. “My colleague, Mr. Pierce, spins a very convincing story. He would have you believe that all changelings are vicious, untrustworthy, and that we should not try to live beside them. But he is only trying to distract you from what’s really important. The fact is, my clients took in and are caring for a filly. A filly that only wanted a family and for the first time in her life has one. Now I’ll admit that the means by which Lighting came to be a parent of Scootaloo aren't fully in the law but should we punish her so harshly for it? You want her to be responsible for what she did? Fine, make her pay a fine for falsifying papers. But don’t let Mr. Pierce twist this case into something that condemns all changelings.”
Berry took a paper from her table and began reading. “Let it be known that in this, our sovereign land of Equestria, that all are welcome. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, take heart that you shall be known as family. Let harmony reign, for we shall embrace you with love and tolerance.”
Focusing on the jury again, Berry continued in a firm voice. “That was the opening to the Tribe Unification treaty written over one thousand years ago. Those words, written by our founders, were meant to be an example for the generations to come. I don’t have to tell you the story of how our nation came to be, nor do I need to remind you the other nations with which we are allied. We have griffons, minotaurs, we even have good relations with the diamond dogs. Why should we turn our backs on the changelings? Whatever you decide remember this. Equestria wasn’t built by one race, one species. It was built and is great because it was built by many.”
After Berry took her seat, the jury filed into the deliberation room.
Berry sighed. “All we can do now is wait. And hope that these ponies don’t give into xenophobic tendencies.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “Well considering how easy you ponies get scared we might as well pack our bags.”
Berry rolled her eyes and turned to Lighting. “A real ray of sunshine ya got there.”
Lighting grinned. “Isn’t she though?”
Berry shook her head. “Seriously though I hope we come out on top.”
Lighting rose a brow. “You’re really worried? It looked like everything was in our favor.”
Berry sighed. “Sometimes juries aren't the smartest bunch out there. Just sit back and wait.”
Inside the jurors deliberation room, the gathered ponies discussed how they would rule on what they’d just heard. The fate of Lightning, Quicksilver and Scootaloo rested with these twelve. Lilly, Daisy, Roseluck, Doctor Whooves, Mr. Waddle, Caramel, Carrot Top, Aloe, Lotus, Lyra, Bon Bon, and Mr. Cake.
After several minutes of the group thinking in silence Mr. Cake decided to speak what was on everyones mind.
“So...How should we decide this?”
Caramel turned to the baker with a raised brow. “Well it’s obvious right? They’re guilty.”
Rose shook her head. “It’s not as simple as that. Sure Lightning did something wrong but was it really so bad in the end?”
Lilly turned to Rose with a questioning look on her face. “Are you serious Rose? She’s a changeling, how do we know that everything she’s said or done didn’t have an ulterior motive? Or that she’s not controlling her “friends” somehow?”
Carrot Top rolled her eyes. “Besides the fact that one of the ponies to speak on her behalf was the element of magic? I’ll admit I’m still a little unsure of her but Lightings not some monster waiting to pounce when we’re not looking.”
Lyra nodded. “She’s right. I was in Canterlot when the whole changeling invasion happened. Heck I was controlled by the Queen, but I don’t think Lightning is doing anything other than what she says she is.”
Bon Bon was the next to speak up. “And don’t forget, she did help defend Ponyville when the changelings attacked.”
Daisy’s frowned in thought. “But is it alright for a changeling to raise a pony? I mean, can Lightning and Quicksilver really provide for Scootaloo the way she needs?”
Aloe chuckled. “It seems to me that Miss Lighting is doing just that. I once heard Cheerilee saying how Scootaloo’s grades had improved with her mother around. Is that not proof enough?”
Lotus tilted her head. “That’s true but what do we really know about the changelings? We’ve employed a few at the spa and they do good work but I still feel....uneasy around them.”
Doctor Whooves smiled. “Well that’s the thing isn’t it? They’re so much like us but not really like us at all. It’s natural to be a bit weary around them but isn’t it a bit thrilling as well? A whole race thought lost to pony kind, and we get to interact with them. It’s all very fascinating!”
Mr. Cake sighed. “Fascinating or not, I’m just not sure what to decide. I’m a parent so I can see where Lightning is coming from when she did what she did to make sure no one questioned her about Scootaloo but does that make it right?”
Rose turned to Mr. Waddle who seemed to be deep in thought. “What about you Mr. Waddle? You’ve been awfully quiet.”
The aged stallion lifted his head and removed his glasses. After buffing them against his coat and replacing them he spoke.
“You know, I’ve been around since Ponyville was founded. I’ve seen all different types of ponies from all different walks of life come and go. I’m not sure about these changelings but I know one thing.”
Mr. Waddle paused and a small smile settled on his wrinkled muzzle. “Equestria was built on the idea of harmony. Now I might just be an old fool but I believe these changelings deserve a chance.”
When the others tried to rebut, Mr. Waddle held up a hoof. “I didn’t say let them off scot free. I’m just as jittery around them as any of you but I don’t think we need to send them away before really giving them a chance.”
The room fell silent for a moment before the Doctor stood and smiled. “Well if we’re done talking I think I’ve got a solution if you care to hear it.”
After two hours of waiting the sound of the door to the deliberation room opening caused everyone in the courtroom to turn their attention to the front of the room. Quiet murmuring floated throughout the room until judge Mercy spoke.
“Has the jury reached a verdict?”
Doctor Whooves stood. “We have your honor. We the jury find Ligtning innocent of the charges of foalnapping. We also find the changelings to not be a threat to us.”
At hearing a winning verdict for them, Lightning embraced Quicksilver as the ponies who supported them began chattering congratulations. Mercy clopped her hoof loudly on the bench to quiet them down.
“Please contain yourselves, Mr. Whooves has more to say.”
When the focus returned to him, the Doctor continued. “However, seeing as Lightning did break into a building and forge records we have decided she pay a fine.”
Mercy turned to Berry. “Is that acceptable Mrs. Punch?”
Berry smiled as she received emphatic nodding from both Lightning and Quicksilver. “That’ll be just fine your honor.”
Mercy odded. “Then I conclude this court and set the fine of 2500 bits to be paid by Lightning to the town of Ponyville. Dismissed.”
As the ponies began filing out of the courtroom Pierce alked up to Berry and held out a hoof.
“Good case Berry. Very stirring, for a drunk.”
Berry smirked and bumped Pierces hoof lightly with hers. “Thanks Pierce. That duality thing was a bold move, for a pompous jerk like you.”
After shooting a glare at Berry Pierce returned her smirk. “So drinks later?”
Berry nodded. “As long as you’re paying.”
Pierce rolled his eyes and turned to leave. “I’ll see you later then.’
Berry only shook her head and turned to her clients. The relieved changelings were talking with Scootaloo, who’d bolted toward her parents when the trial was over.
“So you can get the bits for the fine right?”
Lighting turned from her family and nodded to Berry. “I’ve got enough stashed away to cover it. Though I’ll need to work a few extra shifts to build our savings back up, it’s worth it.”
Lightning smiled as she looked back to Scootaloo and Quicksilver. “More then worth it.”
Berry chuckled. “Well just remember that you’re my drinking buddy for the weekend. I’ve wondered how much changelings can handle and now I can finally see for myself.”
Lightning nodded. “Sure thing.”
Giving a wave, Berry made her way out of the court room.
When Lightning turned back to her family Scootaloo smiled. “Can we go home now mom?”
“Sure thing Scoots. Let’s go home and relax.”
Quicksilver smirked. “Yeah, we need our rest for the next thing that comes at us don’t we?”
Scootaloo bumped Quicksilvers leg. “Don’t go jinxing us.”
Sharing a laugh the family exited the courtroom and made their way home.
Meanwhile in Canterlot, Princess Luna was going over some documents, a quill in her magical grasp scrawling over the pages when a royal guard entered her chambers.
Giving a quick bow the guard addressed the princess of the night. “Princess, I have urgent news.”
Sparing the guard a quick glance Luna waved a hoof. “Well hurry then. I’ve got much to attend to and precious little time to do it in.”
Giving a huff Luna mumbled under her breath. “I just don’t understand Celestia sometimes...”
Seeing that Luna was flustered the guard was quick to get to the point. “It concerns the matter you tasked the Night Guard with.”
The hasty scratching of Luna’s quill halted and she looked up from her work.
Luna looked to the guard expectantly. “Somethings happened?”
The guard nodded. “Yes your majesty. The presence of yourself and Princess Celestia was.....requested.”
Luna trotted out from behind her desk and made her way past the guard and out into the castle halls.
“Find my sister and tell her that I’ll be waiting in the cavernes. After all, we mustn’t keep our guest waiting.”
Memories are interesting. You’re never sure what will trigger a memory. It could be a comment made by a stranger, an old photo, even when you think of nothing a long forgotten memory can spring forth. They show your mistakes, your failures, what you’ve lost. But try as I might I couldn’t stop the memories that haunted me as I lay in my prison. Memories I’d thought long buried.
The sun shone brightly as I surveyed my kingdom, bathing it all in soft, warm light. I smiled as I watched my subjects go about their lives, working, playing, or just finding a suitable spot to sit and enjoy what the day had given them. I couldn’t ask for more.
“You’re looking happy today. Mind if I join you?”
I giggled. Well maybe there is something else I could ask for. “I wouldn’t be opposed to some company.”
The feeling of soft wings surrounded me as my beloved took her place behind me. I sighed in delight as she nuzzled my neck.
“Now what’s got you in such a good mood my love?”
I turned slightly to look at her. “My kingdom is thriving, my subjects are loving, and there is peace as far as I can see.” I smiled wider as I kissed her lightly. “Not to mention I’ve got you my dear.”
Her eyes shone brighter at that. Oh how I love those eyes. Those lovely magenta pools were always sparkling with love.
I awoke violently. I wasn’t sure when I’d fallen asleep but something had disturbed me. I concentrated, straining my senses to pick up anything nearby. I lay in silence for what seemed like hours before I turned to a seemingly empty corner of my prison. I rose to my hooves and glared into the darkness.
“I know you’re there. Either show yourself or leave so I can get my rest.”
There was a faint glow as a figure emerged from the darkness. My eyes narrowed as the figure came into full view.
“Celestia. To what do I owe the honor of being graced by your presence?” I asked boardley.
Celestia regarded me cooly before using her magic to conjure a few magical orbs that lit the cavern I’d been in. I realized that the place I’d been bound to was the exact cavern where I’d held princess Cadence. Ironic.
Focusing on me agian, Celestia spoke. “I thought I’d offer you some light seeing as you’ve been here in the dark for some time.”
I scoffed. “Is that it?”
Celestia sighed. “Some thanks would be appropriate, but no that’s not all I’m here for. I wanted to see if you had considered what I offered you when you first woke here.”
I laughed, long and loud. “Now why would I consider your offer? We both know I’m only here because if I escaped you would hunt me and drag me back here.I’m content to rot in this place.”
Celestia shook her head and her eyes looked....sad? Yes I could feel the slight hint of sadness from her. I always loathed the taste and feel of sadness. It was like a cold oppressive rain.
Before I could think on her emotions for long Celestia came closer. Close enough that I could have touched her had I wanted to.
“Why are you so stubborn Chrysalis? Your kingdom is no more. Your subjects have chosen a new path. Why won’t you accept what I offer?”
I laughed again but this time it was hollow and broken. “Because I’ve lost. All I had you’ve taken. All I was is now gone.”
Celestia stomped a hoof and her words were heated when she spoke. “That’s not true! What happened wasn’t your fault it was..”
I closed what little distance there was between us and glared at the solar princess nose to nose. “Do not blame what I’ve done on a madness that was self inflicted! I may have been enthralled by my own machinations but they were still mine alone!.”
I backed away and my anger ebbed as I averted my eyes from Celestia. “I don’t need excuses or pity. I've brought ruin on myself and I’ll leave myself to that ruin.”
After I finished speaking I turned my back to Celestia, silently demanding that she leave me be. At first I thought she would continue trying to talk with me but after a few moments of silence she simply sighed and I heard her hoof falls as she walked away.
When I no longer felt her in my prison I laid down once again and tried to sleep. I knew that the only thing waiting would be more memories but if they were dreams they wouldn’t hurt as much.
“Queen Papilio what’s going on? The forest is becoming overgrown and strange creatures are attacking the outlying settlements!”
Chaos. Utter chaos. The whole of Equestria was going crazy and I had no way to stop it. My subjects were confused, scared, and hoping that their queen could deliver them from this catastrophe.
The truth was I had no idea how to fix anything but I couldn’t let them know that.
“Remain calm and evacuate as many as you can to the palace catacombs. They should be safe there until this can be dealt with.”
“Yes my Queen.” With a quick salute the guard left to carry out his orders.
I meanwhile continued to try and contact the only one I hoped could save us. But no matter how hard I focussed my magic couldn’t locate her. And if I couldn’t find her soon I would have to take drastic measures.
“Oh beloved, where are you?”
I continued to try and find her but when I saw massive bolts of unearthly lighting on the horizon I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.
“Forgive me but I must save my breezies as you would your ponies.”
With one last thought of my love my horn lit an electric green as i cast my spell.
When I woke this time it was to the sight of Celestia seated in front of me.
“How long have you been there?”
Celestia shook her head. “Not long. I have news for you.”
I rose and gave a questioning look to Celestia. “Is it important?”
“I believe so. it seems that the changelings are fitting in well with pony society pardoning a few hiccups here and there.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course they’re fitting in. My changelings are adaptable.”
Celestia’s brow rose. “I thought you’d lost them. You still consider them yours?”
Giving a chuckle I grinned. “I may no longer be their Queen but that doesn’t change the fact that I made the changelings what they are.”
Celestia gave a wry smile. “Proud as ever, that’s not changed. Getting away from that I wanted to ask again about a decision to my offer.”
Again she insists with this offer of hers. Why does she persist after everything that’s happened?
“My decision is the same as the last time you asked. I want to be left alone.” I growled in annoyance.
Again I tasted sadness from the solar princess. Every refusal brought another bout of this distasteful emotion. It almost made me consider acquiescing to Celestias offer just so I wouldn’t have to tolerate it. Almost.
“Was there anything else?”
Celestia shook her head. “From me no, but Luna wants to talk with you.”
Celestia took her leave and no sooner had she gone past the edge of light in the cavern when Luna appeared and approached me.
Luna had changed. Perhaps she’d looked like this since she’d gotten free of her banishment but I wouldn’t know. The one thing that didn’t change was her eyes. Eyes never change.
“So Chrysalis, my sister tells me you still choose to remain here. Why?”
I laughed mockingly. “Oh I just love cold, dark caverns. Actually I was thinking of ordering some furniture but couldn’t decide on a style. Any suggestions?”
Luna scoffed. “I don’t see how you can joke about this. Celestia is offering you forgiveness, why won’t you take it?”
These sisters are so tiring. After the first few days of just Celestia coming to bother me Luna joined in.
“Like I said, I’ve lost. Now I’ll bear the consequences of my actions.”
Luna sighed and began walking away. “Think about this then. You’re not the only one suffering while you stay down here.”
I stiffened at Lunas words. They couldn’t be true, not after all these centuries. Not after what I’ve done.
Thinking on it for what felt like hours I finally sighed and let my mind begin to wander. With Lunas words still fresh in my head I wasn’t surprised where my memories took me.
“Are you..... are you repulsed by me?”
I’d been wanting to ask the question for so long but didn’t for fear of the answer. I could feel the love she offered but she loved everyone, it was in her nature. I needed to hear her say it, say that she still loved me.
Her beautiful eyes softened and she drew me into a tight embrace. “Of course not. It’s different that’s true, but you’re still my beautiful little butterfly.”
Her words, her touch, the love from them assured me that it was all true. And oh how glorious it felt! I’ve always had empathic abilities but this was so much more than simply feeling her love. Her love gave me power. Such raw power!
Wait, what am I thinking? Why am I concerned with this new feeling then with my love? Maybe it’s just overwhelming me at the moment. Yes that’s it. I’m still getting used to this new form of mine. Everything's fine.
Everything is not fine. I can’t think straight. I....what was I thinking about? Oh yes this new feeling. It’s consuming me. Making me crave one thing and one thing alone. Love. That glorious, intoxicating powerful emotion. I need it! More of it!
No! No, I’ve got all I need with my beloved. She’s all I need. But then should I tell her what I did?
No. I only did it once and that pony won’t even remember, I made sure of that. But what if it happens again? What if....
Argh! This is pointless! I’m worrying over nothing. I slipped once and it won’t happen again. I just need to...
“Chrysalis are you here?”
Ah good. She’ll take my mind off this mess for a while. “I’m in here.”
So much power. So much delicious power! Oh why didn’t I think of this before? This solves all my problems! All I have to do is take the love of beings besides the ponies and everything will be ok. Now where to plan the next raid?
“My Queen. Your meeting with Celestia is about to..”
I turned a sharp stare on the drone that had entered my chambers. “I’ve no time for that. Have one of the senior counsel members speak with her.”
The drone bowed. “Right away my Queen.”
I sighed and went back to my maps. Now where was I....
I need to leave. We all need to leave. After what’s happened we can’t stay here. It’ll be too easy for the princesses to find us.
“Veld, start organizing the cells. We move within the hour.”
“Yes my Queen.”
This experiment’s gone all wrong but at least now we know that we can’t just keep them in the cocoons indefinitely. Such a shame. All that love wasted.
She stared at me horrified. The eyes that used to look at me with nothing but love now held disbelief and shock.
Her eyes widened as she scanned the ground littered with her royal guard. Seeing what my spell had done but not believing it.
“Chrysalis...... What have you become?”
I laughed, oh how I laughed. The power was unimaginable. One simple spell and the love an entire detachment of guards was mine!
“I’ve become powerful.”
I woke with a start. My heart hammered in my chest and I could feel moisture in my eyes. Of all my memories why did I have to relive that one? The day I’d lost myself to the power I sought.
I brought up a hoof to clear my eyes and noticed that neither Celestia or Luna was in the cavern. I suppose work finally caught up with them.
The one time i want them here is the time they’re busy. Although I’m sure there’s a guard close by. Reaching out with my magic I sensed a guard just outside the light provided by the balls of light Celestia had summoned.
“Guard come here.”
I heard the rustle of armor on cloth as the guard moved and then he stepped into the light with a confused look on his face.
“How’d you know I was there?”
I laughed. “My horn is broken not gone. I can still use some forms of magic. But that’s beside the point. Bring Celestia and Luna here.”
The guard rose a brow but shrugged and went to do as I asked.
Before too long both princesses were standing in front of me with questioning looks on their faces.
Luna stepped forward. “Did you need something Chrysalis?”
I nodded. “I know that you’re the one that’s put the binding spell on this cavern. Your shadow magic would work best in this dark place. I’m asking you to dispel it.”
Luna turned to Celestia who, after a few moments of staring at me, nodded. Luna then waved her horn and runes the same midnight blue as her magic began to disolve into the air.
“Now please leave me with Celestia. I need to talk with her and only her.”
Luna looked unsure but began to walk out of the cavern. When I couldn’t sense Luna in the area I walked toward Celestia.
The princess of the sun stood completely still as i approached. When I was mere inches from her I lowered my head slightly.
“Tell me why you offered me a place in your court. Why you offered me freedom and forgiveness.”
Celestia was silent for what felt like hours before she replied in a barely audible whisper.
“Because you’re still my beautiful little butterfly.”
I rose my head and looked into her eyes. Even after all this time, after all I’d done. The love she had for me still shone in her eyes. More then that I..... I could feel her love still.
I shook my head as my vision went cloudy. It was unthinkable but there it was, shining just as brightly as her sun. She still loves me.
“Then I’ll accept your offer.”
Celestias eyes brightened and a small smile settled on her face. “I never gave up on you Chrysalis.”
I chuckled and started walking forward. “You’re a fool Celestia. And I don’t deserve you.”
Celestia laughed and fell in step beside me. Maybe this time her love would be all I need.
Over the next week things had returned to normal for Scootaloo and her family. Fluttering down the stairs Scootaloo found her parents in the living room.
“Later guys. I’m gonna hang with the others today.”
Lightning looked up from the weather papers in front of her. “Did you finish that essay for school?”
Scootaloo rolled her eyes but grinned. “Yeah mom, I got it done yesterday.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “Well then we’ll see you later. Remember me and your mom are going out tonight so be back by seven.”
Nodding, Scootaloo out. “Sure thing dad, later.”
After flying through Sweet Apple Acres Scootaloo touched down just outside the clubhouse. As she folded her wings to her side she winced a bit at the twinge of pain that ran through them. “I gotta work my wings more. These things get tired too easy”
Giving a shrug Scootaloo went up the ramp and into the clubhouse where her four friends sat around the table. Silver Spoon happened to glance at the door and smirked.
“Hey, the chicken’s here.”
Giving a groan Scootaloo joined the others at the table. “You know I can fly now right?”
Silver kept up her smirk. “Then you’re the first flying chicken.”
Scootaloo scoffed. “Better than having spooning be my special talent.”
Silver Spoon glared at the pegasus and huffed. “I told you it’s not spooning. I’m a silversmith!”
This time Scootaloo smirked. “You make spoons though right?”
Silver Spoon’s brow rose. “Well yeah, of course I make spoons. Why?”
Scootaloo’s smirk widened. “Then technically your talent is spooning.”
Silver stammered for a comeback before pouting. “Fine, you win.”
Applebloom shook her head at the exchange. “Ah can’t tell if they’re friends or they just like one upin’ each other.”
Diamond shrugged. “Spoon’s always been that way. She likes the back and forth.”
Sweetie Belle giggled. “Maybe they like each other.”
That remark earned Sweetie a glare from Silver Spoon and Scootaloo who responded simultaneously. “Do not!”
Sweetie Belle just continued to giggle as Applebloom and Diamond looked on. Diamond turned to Applebloom with a smile. “Did you ever think we’d all be sitting around and getting along like this?”
Applebloom shook her head and chuckled. “Nope. If ya’d told me a week ago that I’d be spending time with you and Silver and enjoyin’ it I’d have thought you’d gone nuttier than a peanut farm.”
Silver Spoon turned to Applebloom and rose a brow. “Hey, didn’t you have something to tell us when Scootaloo got here?”
Applebloom brought a large book out from under the table. “Yeah. Ah found this book in the library and it’s got all kinds of cool stuff we can try and do to get our cutie marks.”
Sweetie Belle leaned over and flipped the book open. “ One thousand and one exciting activities. Wow, there is a lot of stuff in here. It even looks like Diamond and Silver can help us out with it.”
“Joy.” Spoon said in a deadpan tone.
Diamond chuckled. “Oh lighten up Spoony. It won’t be that bad.”
Spoon rolled her eyes. “Say that after your the one that ends up covered in tree sap and your coat dyed green.”
Sweetie Belle gave a sheepish smile. “I said I was sorry. And Rarity had the solvent for the dye so everything turned out ok.”
Spoon shook her head. “Whatever, so what’s first on that list?”
Sweetie Belle smiled as she scanned the book. “First we’ll start with.....alchemy!”
At the end of the day the five fillies sat in the clubhouse, trying to recuperate from what had been an exhausting misadventure.
Spoon fixed Sweetie Belle with a half hearted glare. “Do you enjoy putting our lives in danger or does this just always happen?”
Sweetie Belle groaned. “Hey how was I supposed to know that alchemic liquid and varnish would be explosive?”
Scootaloo slowly lifted her head. “Why is it that you can make things explode when they’re not supposed too?”
Sweetie shrugged. “Luck?”
Receiving a groan from her friends Sweetie Belle giggled. “At least we got out of the Everfree in one piece. Though we didn’t get to crusade at all.”
Scootaloo rose from her spot on the floor and chuckled. “Well maybe next time we’ll try something that won’t blow us sky high.”
Silver Spoon scoffed. “I won’t hold my breath. You three are trouble magnets.”
Rolling her eyes Scootaloo moved towards the door. “Anyway, see you guys later. I’m gonna head home.
Giving her friends a last wave Scootaloo spread her wings and headed for home.
When Scootaloo got home she lazily greeted her parents and started trudging up the stairs to her room.
Lightning rose a brow. “Have a tough day kiddo?”
Scootaloo yawned as she replied. “Yeah. I’m gonna get to bed early. G’night.”
Lightning and Quicksilver said their goodnights to Scootaloo and headed out the door for a night on the town, their pony forms in place. As the pair was walking Quicksilver turned to Lightning. “What d’you think Scoots did to tire herself out?”
Lightning chuckled. “Who knows. She and her friends always seem to find interesting things to do. And with all the strange things that happen in this town it could have been anything.”
Quicksilver nodded and smiled. “Well either way this just means we can spend some quality time together.” As she finished speaking Quicksilver bumped her flank with Lightning’s.
Lighting smiled. “That sounds nice. We haven’t really had much time for just us have we.?”
Quicksilver returned Lightnings smile with one of her own. “Yeah, that’s why I organised this date night.”
Lightning giggled. “Well look at you being romantic. Not going soft are you?”
Quicksliver smirked. “For you, maybe I am.”
Lighting blushed lightly and bumped Quicksilver’s shoulder with hers. “So, where are we going anyway?”
Quicksilver increased her pace as she answered. “Just follow me. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it when we get there.”
Eager to see just what Quicksilver had in mind for their night out Lighting matched her partners pace and let Quicksilver lead her through Ponyville. After a few minutes they had come to the outskirts of town and Quicksilver continued trotting down the road.
Raising a brow Lighitng questioned Quicksliver. “Ok now I’m really curious. Just where are you taking us?”
Flashing a smile Quicksilver dropped her pony skin and took to the air. “It’s just a bit further. Come on.”
Changing to her original form Lighting flew after Quicsilver, her curiosity rising by the minute. And just as she was about to question her partner again Quicksilver landed in front of a small lake. Holding her questions Lighting settled next to Quicksilver who started talking.
“Twilight had me do an experiment a few days back that involved seeing if I could change into something aquatic and she brought me here. After the test was done we took a break and I got a good look at this little lake and, well just see for yourself.”
Lighting turned her attention to the lake and she gasped at what she saw. The water reflected the stars and moon like a mirror and the slight mist that hovered over the surface gave it a shimmering afterglow. The effect was doubled as countless fireflies flitted to and fro in the calm night air.
Quicksilver chuckled at Lightings expression. “I saw this when the sun was just starting to set and thought, wouldn’t it look even better at night? With the stars and moon shining of the water. So I figured this was a good place for us to just enjoy each others company.”
Lighting turned to Quicksilver with a smile. “You figured right, this is a nice place. So what did you feel like doing?”
Quicksilver shifted closer to Lighting and nuzzled her. “Just sitting here with you and talking. Sound good?”
Lighting returned the nuzzle and wrapped a foreleg around Quicksilver. “Sounds good. Anything you want to talk about?”
Quicksilver sighed. “Yeah. It’s a bit of a heavy issue but I’d rather talk about it sooner than later.”
Receiving a reassuring squeeze from Lighting, Quicksilver continued. “Lighting.... Do you think we’re actually in love or are we just going through the motions?”
Lighitng turned to her partner and rose a brow. “Going through the motions? What do you mean?”
Quicksilvers ears flattened against her skull. “I’ve been thinking and I just don’t know if what we’re doing is actually us or if it’s just us doing what we’ve always done. Playing a part to get the love we need. I mean I think that what I’m doing is genuine but why couldn’t I do that before now?”
Lighting was silent as she thought about what Quicksilver had said. It was true that most times when the changelings had taken the form of someones loved one they had quickly fallen into whatever roll suited that person. It was almost second nature to changelings to change into a roll as for them to change their appearance. But was that what was going on now?
As Lightning was thinking she felt Quicksilver shiver a little as she continued talking.
“It scares me Lightning. To think that everything I’m doing is just to fill a need.That we changelings don’t have the capacity to love. That the ponies that do fear us have a reason to, because we can’t truly feel.”
As Quicksilver finished she heaved a shuddering sigh and fixed her eyes on the ground while leaning on Lighting.
Lighting used a hoof and lifted Quicksilvers head till their eyes locked. Lightning stared into Quicksilvers eyes and started to lean forward. When her lips met Quicksilveres she felt an influx of love mixed with confusion and fear. Pulling away she moved until she was sitting behind Quicksilver and hugged her, resting her head on Silvers shoulder.
“You’ve been carrying that around for a while huh? Just thinking about it in the back of your head?”
Receiving a nod Lighting continued. “I’ll admit, it is possible that what we’re doing is just part of our nature. But I don’t believe that it’s what’s driving us to stay together. Remember that night after the hive fell?”
Quicksilver nodded and placed a hoof on the forelegs that encircled her. “Yeah. I was just as confused then as I am now. Although for different reasons.”
“Well then tell me again. Why did you come to help me? What did you feel?”
Quicksilver turned her head slightly to look at Lightning. “I was worried that you’d be hurt. And when I thought of you being hurt it made me feel cold inside.”
“And when we decided to try and be a family?”
Quicksilver smiled. “I was happier than I’d ever been.”
Lighting nodded. “Well then I think you know that what you feel isn’t fake.”
Quicksilvers smile dropped and she gave Lighting a confused look. “What?”
Lighting chuckled. “I felt like that once. Not knowing my own feelings. Confused about what they meant and if they were real but Scootaloo helped me with that. She helped me see that what i”m doing is what I want to do and not because it’ll get me love.”
Quicksilver sighed again. “But how can you be sure?”
Lighting turned Quicksilver in her embrace until they were face to face. “Because you’re questioning yourself. And...”
Lighting learnt in again and kissed Quicksilver passionately, literally pouring the love she felt for Quicksilver into the kiss and Quicksilver herself. When the kiss broke Lighitng continued breathily.
“Because....I can feel how much you care about me. And I can tell you it’s just as real as any emotion I’ve felt from others.”
Quicksilver smiled and nuzzled into the crook of Lightings neck while putting her forelegs around her. “Thank you.”
Lighting gave Quicksilver an affectionate squeeze. “Anytime love.”
The pair sat by the lake for hours after. Talking and enjoying the closeness of one another. And when they finally make it home and settled down for bed they each wore a contented smile.
Scootaloo stared, wide eyed at her parents. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard, nor could she understand how Lightning and Quicksilver simply sat in front of her like nothing had happened. Swallowing a lump in her throat, Scootaloo asked a question she feared the answer to.
“Wha..what do you mean you’re leaving?”
Lightning sighed and shook her head. “it’s that simple Scoots. Silver and I are Leaving. We just....don’t think this can work anymore.”
Scootaloo’s breathing hitched slightly as she listened to her mother, or who used to be her mother. She just couldn’t understand where this was coming from. As far as she thought everything had been fine. And now it looked like everything she had would be taken away.
“But, but why? Was it something I did?”
Quicksilver shook her head. “No it’s not anything you did. Look kid, we just don’t want this anymore. We don’t want each other, and we don’t want you. So this is goodbye.”
Lightning nodded and rose to her hooves, followed by Quicksilver. As they turned away Lightning looked over her shoulder as Scootaloo sat stunned on the ground.
She nodded to the filly. “This is just how it has to be.” And with that the pair of changelings began walking away.
Seeing the only parents she’d ever had begin to walk away from her snapped Scootaloo out of her stunned position on the ground. Leaping to her hooves, Scootaloo began galloping franticly after Lighting and Quicksilver.
She ran and ran as fast as she could but now matter how hard she pushed herself Scootaloo kept falling behind as Lighting and Quicksilver got further away. Thinking that flying would give her an edge Scootaloo began flapping her wings, but even going at her top speed, her parents just seemed to slip further ahead of her.
As the exertion of her frantic chasing caught up with her Scootaloo slowed and fell to the ground. As she sat, sides heaving and limbs shaking, Scootaloo watched helplessly as the only parents she’d ever known disappeared into the distance.
Scootaloo hung her head and began crying softly. “They’re gone....”
Uttering that simple statement seemed to flip a switch inside Scootaloo as she suddenly began sobbing loudly.
“Come back. Please come back. I...I don’t wanna be alone”
Scootaloo had no idea how long she laid there on the ground, sobbing and screaming at everything and nothing. All she could do, all she wanted to do, was curl into herself and cry.
Scootaloo woke violently, springing up in her bed and breathing heavily as tears ran down her face. Scootaloo brought a hoof to her temple and began rubbing while taking deep breaths to try and calm herself. After a few minutes she leant against her bed's headboard and sighed in relief.
“A dream. It was just a dream.”
As Scootaloo sat in her bed she began to wonder what could have caused her dream. She knew that Lightning and Quicksilver wouldn’t just leave her, and she didn’t doubt that they loved her but even so there seemed to be a voice in the back of her head saying one thing over and over that worried her. They’re not your real parents and they’re not even ponies. They could leave you whenever they want and you’d be alone again.
Scootaloo shook her head to try and dislodge the thought and try to get back to sleep but no matter how she tried the thought persisted and only seemed to get embedded further in her head as she tried to ignore it.
After trying and failing to get rid of the thought for what felt like hours, Scootaloo sighed resignedly and laid down in bed. She figured that maybe if she got a few more hours of sleep then she’d be able to push the thought out of her head. However before Scootaloo fell asleep one last thought assaulted her.
They don’t love you.
Scootaloo sat at her desk in Ms. Cheerilee’s class desperately trying to keep her eyes open and focus on the lesson for today. It had been a week since her first nightmare and she’d been plagued with them almost every night since then. And what sleep she did get wasn’t very restful at all. Just as Scootaloo was about to nod off, for the third time, the bell signaling the end of the school day jolted her awake. Scootaloo gathered up her school supplies and shoved them into her saddlebag, strapping it on she headed for the door when Ms Cheerilee called to her.
“Scootaloo could you come here for a second?”
Turning from the door and shuffling over to the teachers desk Scootaloo looked up at Cheerilee with groggy eyes.
“Scootaloo is everything alright? I noticed that you”ve had a hard time focusing and staying awake in class lately.”
Scootaloo shook her head and tried to put on a convincing smile. “Yeah everything’s...”
Scootaloo’s response was cut off as she yawned widely. “...fine.”
Cheerilee’s brows knitted together in concern. “You’re sure?”
Scootaloo gave a weak nod. “Yeah,I’m just getting stuck on the homework this week and staying up to get it done. Math really isn’t my strong suit.”
Cheerilee nodded and smiled. “Well if that’s all it was then you’re free to go. And if the work’s hard you should ask a friend or parent for help. It’s a bit hard to learn if you’re nodding off in class.”
Scootaloo chuckled and smirked. “Sure thing Ms. Cheerilee. Bye.”
Scootaloo kept up her appearance until she was a few yards from the school before letting it drop and heave a weary sigh. Not only had she not gotten any sleep but throughout the whole day the little voice in the back of her head had been assaulting her. Making her start to question if Lightning and Quicksilver really loved her.
Scootaloo snorted in irritation. “Why am I worrying about this? It’s just some bad dreams. Why’s this getting to me?”
Coming up with no answers, Scootaloo decided to try and distract herself and hoped it would take her mind off the nagging little voice in her head. And what better place then her friends at the clubhouse. Smiling earnestly for the first time that day Scootaloo lightly kicked off the ground and flew towards Sweet Apple Acres.
Scootaloo wanted a distraction and what she had right now was more than enough. Diamond Tiara and Applebloom were going back and forth about the best way to spend the weekend
“We’re gonna hang out at the clubhouse an’ that’s that Diamond.”
Diamond Tiara flicked her mane haughtily. “I don’t think so Apple-blank. We’re gonna have a spa day. Spending every weekend out here is torture on my coat. Not to mention my hooves. ”
Applebloom’s nostrils flared. “So that means we gotta do what y’all wanna do?”
Diamond’s eyes rolled and she smirked. “Don’t be so touchy. All I’m saying is that we could all use a bit of relaxation.”
Applebloom facehoofed. “Y’all are impossible. Why should we spend all day in a spa when we could be doin stuff out here.”
Sweetie Belle rose a hoof to get the two arguing ponies attention. “Can’t we just do both?”
Applebloom and Diamond looked at Sweetie Belle before turning to each other again. After a few silent moments Diamond sighed as if she was conceding to torture. “Fine. I guess we can come out here first and then go to the spa later.”
Applebloom grinned. “Deal. An’ don’t try to act like ya don’t like the clubhouse. Ya spend almost everyday out here with the rest of us.”
Diamond’s responded with an eye roll. “Whatever. I’m headed home, I’ve still got homework to do.”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah, I should get home and finish mine too.”
Applebloom left with the excuse of needing to get some afternoon chores done leaving only Silver Spoon and Scootaloo in the clubhouse. Without the distraction of her friends scootaloo sat back in the beanbag chair she was on and sighed.
“What’s got you so down lately?”
Scootaloo glanced to Silver Spoon and waved the question off. “Nothing.”
Silver Spoon scoffed. “That means there is something. Spill.”
Scootaloo groaned in annoyance. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
Silver Spoon got up from where she was sitting and moved in front of the pegasus with a determined glint in her eye. “That means it’s something big. Now tell me or I’ll just keep bugging you.”
Scootaloo drug a hoof down her face in frustration. “Can’t you just leave me alone?”
Silver Spoon smirked. “Do I really need to answer that?”
Scootaloo sighed and hung her head. “Right. Forgot who I was talking too.”
Scootaloo rose her head to look Silver Spoon in the eye hesitantly. “If I tell you, you’ve got to promise to keep it secret.”
Silver spoon quirked a brow but nodded. Scootaloo lent back in the beanbag and rubbed her forehead. “I’ve been having dreams that my parents abandon me.”
Silver Spoon’s one quirked brow was joined by it’s twin. “Ok, that sounds bad but I’m guessing there’s more to it.”
Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah. Since the dreams started I started thinking that..... What I mean is that.... I started to think....”
Seeing that Scootaloo was grasping for a way to explain Silver Spoon took a shot in the dark. “You started thinking that they actually would leave you?”
Scootaloo nodded limply. “Yeah. I don’t know why but now I’m just so... worried that they’ll just up and leave. That I’ll be....”
Silver Spoon moved closer and tilted her head. “Be what?”
Scootaloo’s head hung as she responded in a voice just above a whisper. “That I’ll be alone again. Like I was at the orphanage.”
Silver Spoon nodded. “Oh. Wait, how can you be alone in an orphanage?”
Scootaloo shook her head. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Silver Spoon put a hoof on Scootaloo’s shoulder. “Try me. I am your friend after all.”
Looking into Silver Spoon’s eyes Scootaloo could see that the grey filly was genuinely concerned and was offering a friendly ear to vent too. So after taking a breath Scootaloo began talking.
“In the orphanage I was at the other fillies and colts weren’t exactly friendly. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t mean. Just....guarded I guess. Everyone just looked out for themselves because that’s all we had. Ourselves. And the caretakers were there but they weren’t like parents. They were just doing a job. The made sure we had food, and a bed, and that we were healthy but that was it. It was worse than having no one around because there were others around but it was like everyone just ignored everyone else. I’m not sure if that’s how it was for everyone but that’s how it felt for me. I ran away when I turned ten and never looked back.”
Scootaloo shook her head. “And now that I’ve actually got parents I’m terrified of losing them. All because of some stupid dreams I’m starting to question if one day they’ll just up and leave.”
Silver Spoon sat silently for a few seconds before she nodded. “Ok I think I can understand that. But if you know that they’re just dreams why’re you so out of it?”
Scootaloo snorted. “If I knew I wouldn’t be spilling my guts to you of all ponies.”
Silver Spoon scoffed. “Well there’s gratitude for you.”
Scootaloo sighed. “Sorry, sorry I’m just not sure what to do about all this.”
Silver Spoon rolled her eyes. “Gee I don’t know, maybe talk to your parents and solve the problem the easy way.”
Scootaloo chuckled. “Like it’s that simple.”
Silver Spoon nodded. “It is that simple. Just do it.”
Scootaloo shook her head. “They’ve got enough to worry about. I can deal with this.”
Silver Spoon facehoofed. “Oh boy, this is gonna be one of those situations isn’t it?”
Scootaloo gave Spoon a questioning look and the earth filly continued. “You’re gonna try solving this yourself and not tell them and end up making it worse until they find out and then everything gets solved in five seconds and you all have a laugh about it. Just save us all some time and talk to your parents.”
Scootaloo sighed as she rose from the beanbag. “Fine. If it’ll get you to stop nagging me I’ll go talk to them now.”
As Scootaloo got up to leave Silver Spoon threw her hooves up in mock celebration. “Low and behold she can be taught! It’s a miracle fillies and gentlecolts.”
Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “You’re a real pain sometimes.”
Silver Spoon waved Scootaloo off. “Oh just go solve your personal crisis already.”
Scootaloo chuckled and was about to take off when she turned back to Silver Spoon. After thinking for a few seconds Scootaloo trotted back to the grey filly and gave her a quick hug. After releasing Silver Spoon, Scootaloo coughed awkwardly. “Thanks for listening and everything.”
Silver Spoon smiled. “Y-yeah, friends in need and all that.”
Scootaloo waved and then took off towards Ponyville. Once Scootaloo was gone Silver Spoon started making her way home as well. The smile from before still firmly on her face.
Even though Scootaloo had said she’d talk to Lightning and Quicksilver, actually doing it was a different thing entirely. After she’d gotten home Scootaloo kept making excuses for herself to put off talking to them. First she decided to finish her homework before trying to talk to them. Then she’d decided to wait until after dinner. And now Scootaloo sat outside her parents door, trying to think of a way to begin talking to them. But even after several long minutes of thought Scootaloo was still coming up blank on ideas.
Maybe I should just do what Spoon said. Just tell them about my dreams and stuff. Seeing no other way to go about talking to her parents Scootaloo sighed and knocked on her parents bedroom door.
Quicksilver opened the door and gave the filly a questioning look. “What’s up Scoot? Shouldn’t you be in bed by now?”
Scootaloo stood and nervously glanced up at Quicksilver. “Well, I just wanted to talk to you and mom about something. it’s kinda important.”
Quicksilver nodded. “Sure thing Scoot.” Quicksilver stepped aside and Scootaloo walked into the bedroom and headed for the bed. Taking a seat on the comforter at the foot of the bed both parents watched the filly curiously.
Sensing that Scootaloo was nervous Lightning smiled reassuringly. “So, what’s on your mind Scoots?”
Scootaloo took a deep breath before looking up at both changelings. “I’ve been having dreams the past week. They’re about.... about you two.”
Two pairs of solid ice blue eyes widened as the filly continued, her voice beginning to hitch slightly as her emotions started building.
“In the dreams you both...... You said you didn’t want me anymore. That you didn’t want each other anymore and you left. I tried to chase you but....... But you got away and I was... I was alone.”
Lighting and Quicksilver moved closer to Scootaloo and Lightning spoke up. “Scootaloo. Do you think we’re going to leave you?”
Scootaloo shook her head violently and when she spoke her tone was somewhere between scared and angry. “Well why shouldn’t I think that? I’m just some orphan, just some random filly that you met by accident. You could live just fine without me!”
As Scootaloo paused to breathe, tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. When she spoke next her voice sounded broken.
“I just.... I know they’re just dreams but, but I can’t stop wondering if one day you’ll just leave me. If I’ll be all alone again and I..... I’m scared, just so so scared that it’s true.”
Scootaloo looked into the eyes of her parents. Her own eyes were red and tears flowed from them like twin waterfalls as she looked at them like she was lost.
“I.... I don’t wanna be alone. I...”
Before the distraught filly could continue she was swept up into a tight embrace by her two parents whose eyes had misted as they listened to Scootaloo. Scootaloo held onto her parents like a lifeline as she pressed her face into Lightnings chest, her mothers unusually soft carapace and steady heartbeat acting as a source of comfort as she cryed.
Quicksilver was the first to speak after several moments of simply embracing. She lightly began rubbing her hoof in small circles on Scootaloo's back to help ease the filly as she spoke softly.
“Why’d you wait so long to tell us Scoots? It must have been hard to carry that around for so long.”
Scootaloo hiccuped as she spoke through her tears. “I w-was sc-s-scared that you’d be m-mad or that you’d think I di-didn’t trust you.”
Lightning nuzzled Scootaloo. “Oh Scootaloo, you silly filly. You can always come to us when there’s something bothering you. Especially something like this.”
Quicksilver hmmed in agreement. “We love you Scoots. Never doubt that.”
Scootaloo nodded against Lightning. “I-I know but I...”
Lightning cooed gently to Scootaloo. “Shhh, it’s ok.” Lightning lent back slightly and used a holed hoof to tilt the fillies head up. “How about Silver and I show you how much we love you?”
Scootaloo tilted her head and sniffed. “H-how?’
Quicksilver chuckled. “Just close your eyes.”
Scootaloo nodded and closed her eyes. When she did she felt Lightning and Quicksilver each place a kiss on her forehead. Just as it happened Scootaloo felt like she’d been enveloped in a warmth that spread around and through her. The warmth seemed to fill her whole body and almost instantly she felt content. Like everything was right with the world.
After a few moments Lightning and Quicksilver withdrew and Scootaloo opened her eyes and glanced questioningly at her parents. “What happened?”
Lightning chuckled lightly. “When changeling nymphs are born they can’t leave the hive to get love or other emotions to feed them. So groups of us go out and gather love and other positive emotions and feed it to them.”
Quicksilver nodded. “And right now we used the same technique on you. You might not feel it the same way we do but you did feel it right?”
Scootaloo nodded and gave a tiny smile. “Yeah. it was so warm and made me feel like.... like everything was right. Like everything would be ok.”
The changelings nuzzled Scootaloo as Lighting spoke. “That’s how you make us feel Scoots. Every day when we feel your love for us you make us feel that way.”
Scootaloo’s eyes widened. “Really? That’s how it always feels?”
Quicksilver chuckled. “Yep. Though now I understand why Lightning and I kept sensing a lot of anxiousness coming from you the past week.”
Scootaloo’s ears lowered. “Sorry.”
Quicksilver shook her head and ruffled Scootaloo’s mane. “No need to be sorry kiddo. Just talk to us next time ok?” Quicksilver gave a soft smile. “We wanna make sure that you feel just as good as we do.”
Scootaloo smiled widely and the three sat contentedly with each other for several minutes before disengaging from their embrace. As Lightning and Quicksilver sat Scootaloo back on the bed the filly yawned.
Lighting giggled. “Looks like someone’s kinda tired. Feel like hitting the hay Scoots?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah. I’m beat.”
Quicksilver rose a brow curiously. “You sure you’re ok now.”
Scootaloo nodded. “Totally.”
Quicksilver looked the filly over before smiling. “As long as you’re sure.”
Scootaloo shuffled her front hooves on the bed nervously and caught Lighting’s attention. “Something up Scoots?”
Scootaloo’s ears lowered in embarrassment and a slight blush darkened her muzzle. “Well I um... I wanted to ask.... Could I.... sleep with you guys tonight?”
Lighting smiled and patted the space between her and Quicksilver. “Sure thing Scoots.”
Smiling, Scootaloo nestled between her parents as they curled around her. As Scootaloo fell asleep her smile stayed firmly in place because the warmth of Lighting and Quicksilver wrapped around her reminded her of how their love felt and Scootaloo knew, without a doubt, that her parents would always be there for her. And so would their love.
The time after my release from the cavern was rather hectic at first but once my presence was explained, and sworn to secrecy, I freely roamed the less public parts of the castle. Much of my newfound freedom was spent close to Celestia. However, I knew I couldn’t monopolise the time of the ruler of a nation. Now matter how much fun it was. So when Celestia and I weren’t “cuddling” I’d taken to wandering the areas of the castle I remembered.
As luck would have it the more open rooms and corridors were newer than the halls I’d walked before my plunge into madness so I was mostly left alone. Today, however, it appeared I’d have company on one of my excursions through the castle. As I’d rounded a corner that led into one of the old archives I found Luna. Who seemed to be waiting for me.
The princess of the night strode over and came alongside me offering a smile.
“Good day Chrysalis. Your horn’s looking much better.”
I flicked my eyes up to my repaired horn and chuckled. “Yes. Celestia’s love really moved the process along.”
Luna nodded. “That was one of the first things Tia wanted to fix when you finally came to your senses and accepted her offer. She never was one to do a task halfway.”
I smirked at the perfect setup Luna unknowingly gave me. “I’ll say. She worked so vigorously I thought I’d pass out.”
Luna gave me a questioning look before her face suddenly turned an impressive shade of lavender. She glared weekly at me with her ears lowered. “Must you be so crude?”
I flipped my mane and smirked. “It’s part of my charm.”
Luna shook her head but grinned. “What Tia sees in you I’ll never know.” Lunas brow furrowed in thought. “Actually I’d never asked how the two of you first became partners.”
My smirk softened into a nostalgic smile as I nodded to a hallway to our left. “Follow me and I’ll tell you.”
As we walked down a corridor lined with old portraits of Equestiras past heroes and leaders I turned my head to Luna.
“Do you remember the period right after the three tribes signed the Equestrian Accord?”
Luna nodded. “Yes, that was a few decades before Celestia and I revealed ourselves to the ponies of Equestria. Until that time, everyone had thought alicorns were a myth.”
I nodded and stopped to point at a portrait of Clover the Clever. “After you and Celestia took over as the rulers of the ponies you sent several of them out to survey the new land they’d inhabited. Clover was the first to find my kingdom. Hidden away in what used to be Paradise valley.”
Luna hummed thoughtfully. “Ah yes, I remember her. Bright young mage. Never got out from under Starswirls shadow but made many advancements in the art of enchantments. She was the first pony you’d ever encountered?”
“Yes. She was so full of questions and admittedly so was I. I’d thought mine was the only race to inhabit Equestria. Soon after her visit I’d asked her to take me to her kind so we may become allies.”
I turned from the painting and started leading Luna through the halls again. “It took awhile to organize a formal meeting but eventually I did get an audience with “Her Radiance” as the ponies called Celestia.”
Luna giggled. “Oh I’d nearly forgotten those old titles Tia and I had back then. What was mine again? Oh yes, I was “Lady Umbra”.” Luna shook her head as she continued to giggle lightly. “What were we thinking back then?”
I chuckled. “I’m not sure but the first time I met Celestia, Radiance fit her very well.” A smile settled on my face as I remembered that day.
I stood outside the large doors leading to the throne room of Equestrias ruler. I’d taken extra time before this meeting to make myself as presentable as possible. After all, making a good first impression was the key in these situations. I gave myself another lookover as I waited. My long turquoise mane was perfect, as was the luster of my snow white coat. Seeing that nothing about my form was amiss i let a confident smirk settle on my face.
Seconds later I schooled my features into a more neutral state as I heard myself announced and the doors began to open.
“Presenting Queen Papilio. Ruler of the Breezies and sovereign of Paradise valley. Step forward and behold Her Radiance, Princess Celestia of Equestria.”
I made my way into the throne room and focused on the unicorn that sat on her dais at the far end of the room. Her coat was brilliant and seemed to shine with an ethereal light. Her mane flowed as if captured by a summer breeze. I had to admit, for a simple unicorn she was a sight to behold.
The princess smiled as I came closer, rising from her seat. As she did my breath caught as she spread a pair of wings I hadn’t noticed. The appendages were held aloft and spread outward forming a cloak of alabaster feathers that caught the light flooding from the windows. The whole effect caused a halo of light around this impressive mare and nearly froze me in my tracks. This Celestia seemed to exude confidence from her very pores and her mere presence all but demanded respect.
I was brought out of my stupor as Celestia addressed me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Queen Papilio. The mage Clover has told us much about you and her description does not do you justice.”
I shook myself mentally and bowed. “The pleasure is mine your Radiance. I must admit I was not expecting to be meeting with one such as yourself.”
Celestia laughed lightly and her eyes shone merrily. “You’re not the first to say as much. Although you fared much better than the griffon ambassador. The poor falcon nearly molted on the spot once he saw me.”
I smiled. “I imagine he looked quite amusing. But moving from that might we begin speaking about an alliance?”
Celestia nodded and gestured to a few maids standing to the side of the room. “Of course. Let’s make ourselves comfortable, the throne room is fine but I prefer to become acquainted in less formal surroundings. Follow me.”
Celestia led me to a rather large sitting room and the maids from earlier brought in a tray holding tea and various sweets.
As we took our seats Celestia levitated a cup of tea and a slice of cake to me. “I hope this is appropriate. I’m unsure of what a Breezie eats. Clover never seemed to learn that while visiting you.”
I grasped the cup in my own magical aura and took a sip. “Well we aren’t that different from ponies. We have a slight empathic nature but aside from that we are just like you.”
Celestia nodded. “Before we begin I do have one question that has puzzled me since hearing of you. And my curiosity has grown since meeting you in person. May I?”
I nodded and Celestia continued. “I’ve never met another alicorn, save for my sister and mother. When Clover mentioned you had both wings and a horn I’d thought you were an alicorn as well. But now I see you are something else completely. Forgive me for my bluntness but what are you?”
I laughed at that. The ruler of a nation and an alicorn but she looked at me with the curiosity of a foal. I found it endearing and decided I quite liked Celestia.
“I’m the breezie equivalent to an alicorn I suppose. I don’t know when or even where I was born. All I know is that one day I found the breezies and they accepted me as their ruler. I have spent my life since then trying to lead them as best I can. Which is why I wanted to meet you. I think we can benefit greatly from each other.”
Celestia smiled. “Well then I suggest that we get this alliance underway.”
Luna rose a brow at me. “It sounds as if you anc Tia “hit things off” rather well when you first met.”
I chuckled. “It was easy to befriend Celestia. It helped that she wasn’t like the other rulers I’d met. The griffons were always so serious and the minotaurs were to single minded. The diamond dogs were easy enough to get along with but that was mostly due to them only wanting to dig for their jewels.”
Luna hummed in agreement. “You have a point. By the way, where are you leading us?”
I turned one last corner and used my magic to open the doors that stood in front of us. “It’s right through here.”
I led Luna into what once was a private sitting room. The furniture was covered in sheets as were several paintings. I approached one of the paintings and levitated the sheet away while summoning a ball of light.
“Celestia had this made years after our first meeting. I found it here a few days ago.”
Luna moved to stand beside me and studied the painting. In it Celestia and I were seated under a cherry tree in full bloom. We were leaning against one another as we watched the cherry blossoms dance in the midday breeze.
“Tia used to have this in her room. I’d wondered where she put it.” Luna turned to me with her ears lowered. “After you lost yourself she had it removed. It hurt her to look at this.”
My head lowered and I sighed. “I know. At the time I could care less about Celestia’s feelings but now.” I rose my head and took in the smiling face of Celestia from long ago. “All I can think about is how I’ve hurt her.”
Luna extended a wing and laid it across my back. “For what it’s worth, I believe you’re on the right track to atoning for what you did. Celestia forgave you and I must admit I’m starting to consider you a friend. You need to forgive yourself though.”
I scoffed. “Someday I might.” I turned to Luna and rose a brow. “Now that I’ve told you something why don’t you tell me why you were in these old halls? I doubt you were just taking a stroll.”
Luna chuckled. “It seems I’ve been found out. Celestia sent me to find you. She has something she wants to talk to you about.”
“Then I shouldn’t keep her waiting.” I lit my horn and in a flash of green fire was gone.
I reappeared in Celestia’s personal chambers and was rewarded with a light nuzzle from the solar princess.
“Hello Chryssie. Luna mentioned that I wanted to talk?’
I nodded. “Yes but she didn’t say what about.”
Celestia motioned for me to follow her. She led me into her study and levitated a scroll to me. “I was about to send out this letter and wanted your thoughts on it.”
I rose a brow but decided to read the letter before I said anything. After reading the letter I gave Celestia a dubious look. “Are you sure about this?”
Celestia nodded. “I think it’s the best way to go about things. So what do you think?”
I looked over the letter again before sighing and levitating a quill from it’s inkwell. After adding a sentence of my own to the letter I gave it back to Celestia. “If you’re serious about this then I think these two should know.”
Celestia read over what I’d written and smiled. “Very well.” Re rolling the scroll Celestia burned it with her magic, the ashes turning green before swirling in on themselves and vanishing.
I shook my head. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Celestia giggled. “Have some faith in me. Now if you’ve nothing else to do I could use some help with my paperwork.”
Without saying a word I levitated half of the stack of papers on Celestia’s desk and a quill over to a side table and began working.
Celestia giggled again positioning herself at her desk and started in on her half of the work. The things I do for love.
Twilight was cataloging some data on her latest project when Spike, who'd been shelving books, belched a gout of green flame which formed into a letter.
Twilight trotted over to Spike who held the letter to her with a confused look on his face.
“Were we expecting a letter from the princess?”
Twilight shook her head as she unrolled the letter. “Not that I know of. Let’s see what it says.”
After reading over the letter three times Twilight lowered the letter wit a blank look on her face. Spike waved a hand in front of Twilight’s face.
“Twi? You alright?”
Twilight shook her head and sprung to her hooves. “Spike, get ready for a trip to Canterlot.”
Spike was confused at the abrupt declaration but saluted and was about to run out to get train tickets when Twilight called to him. “One more thing Spike.”
Spike turned back to Twilight as she continued. “Tell Lightning and Quicksilver that they need to come with us.”
“You’re sure you don’t mind watching Scootaloo on such short notice?”
Fluttershy giggled and offered Lightning a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry about it. I’m happy to help.”
Lightning nodded and turned to Scootaloo. “You make sure to behave for Fluttershy ok kiddo.”
Scootaloo nodded. “No worries mom.”
Quicksilver tapped Lightnings shoulder. “Come on, we’ve kept twilight waiting long enough. Whatever it is that’s going on in Canterlot sounds important.” Turning to Scootaloo quicksilver ruffled the filly’s mane. “See ya Scoot.”
Scootaloo waved as her parents walked away. “Later guys, be safe.”
When Lightning and Quicksilver were out of sight Scootaloo turned to Fluttershy. “Is it ok if I go hang out with my friends now?”
Fluttershy nodded. “Just be sure you get back before dark.”
Scootaloo smiled and hopped onto her scooter. “Thanks Fluttershy, see ya!”
Fluttershy laughed lightly, waving as Scootaloo sped towards Sweet Apple Acres.
Twilight sighed heavily and leaned back against her seat in the train car she shared with Lightning and Quicksilver. “I’m sorry but I really don’t know what the princess wants. Her letter just told me it was urgent that I come to Canterlot and that I should bring you two.”
Lightning huffed and crossed her forelegs. “Is it always like this? The princess just sends a letter and ponies come running?”
Twilight shrugged. “It’s worked out for the rest of us so far. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “Don’t mind her Twilight. Lightning’s just worried about Scoots.”
Lightning quirked a brow. “And you’re not?”
Quicksilver shook her head. “She’s with Fluttershy. Ya know, element of kindness?”
Twilight chuckled. “I understand you’re worried, any good mother would be but you just need to relax. We shouldn’t be gone more than a day or two.”
Lightning sighed. “I guess you’re both right. I just wish I knew what was going on.”
Twilight pointed out the trains window. “You’ll find out soon enough. We’re coming up to the station right now.”
Lightning turned and, sure enough, the Canterlot station was only a few hundred yards away. Once the trio exited the train Twilight took the lead and they began making their way towards the castle.
When they came to the front gate Twilight walked up to the unicorn guard and motioned to Lightning and Quicksilver with her hoof. “My friends and I have an appointment with Princess Celestia.”
The guard nodded. “We’ve been expecting you.” Turning to the gate the guard’s horn glowed as he opened one of the large doors. “The princess will be waiting in her personal chambers.”
Twilight rose a brow in question but said nothing as she walked forward, lightning and Quicksilver not far behind.
As they turned down a hall Lightning came up beside Twilight. “I saw the look you gave that guard after he said the princess was waiting. What’s up?”
Twilight’s eyes narrowed in thought. “I’m not sure but I think this meeting is going to be more serious than I’d thought. Celestia’s always met me either in the throne room or some other common part of the castle. This is the first time she’s ever wanted to meet in her personal chambers.”
Quicksilver’s head tilted. “So should we be worried?”
Twilight shook her head. “I don’t think so. We’ll just have to see what she wants.”
The three continued on in silence as Twilight led them into the castle's main spire. Once at the top Twilight stopped in front of a pair of large ivory doors with a golden sun emblazoned on it. Using her magic, Twilight pulled a velvet rope hanging beside the door. After a few moments the doors were enveloped in a golden aura and opened to reveal Celestia smiling calmly.
“Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I know this must be inconvenient but I felt that this was the best way to go about things.”
Twilight rose a brow. “Go about what Princess?”
Celestia motioned for the three to follow her. “Please, we should discuss this inside. The walls have ears as they say and I’d rather this not get out before the proper time.”
Lightning, Quicksilver and Twilight shared a confused look as they followed Celestia into her room. Once inside the doors were surrounded by Celestia’s magic and closed. The sound of multiple locks being engaged sounded from the door as Celestia walked over to a circle of pillows.
Taking a seat on one, Celestia motioned for the others to sit before she spoke. “I apologize for the secrecy but this is a sensitive matter. Only myself, Luna, and a select number of the royal staff know what I’m about to tell you.”
Celestia paused, collecting her thoughts and inhaling deeply before she continued. “After the destruction of the changeling hive I had my personal guard begin sifting through the rubble. Three days later they found Chrysalis and brought her to the castle where Luna sealed her in the crystal caverns.”
Twilight held up a hoof. “Wait. You’re saying the Chrysalis survived not only having her horn removed and suffering a magical rebound loop but also the entire hive falling on her?’
Celestia nodded. “She did.”
Twilight shook her head in awe. “Wow.”
Lightning got over her stunned silence and narrowed her eyes. “There’s more isn’t there?”
Celestia nodded. “Yes there is. Once she recovered I offered Chrysalis something.”
Twilight gulped. “What did you give her?”
Before Celestia could answer, Lightning and Quicksilver shot up from their seats and turned to a door at the far end of the room.
The door glowed an acid green as it opened and Chrysalis stepped out. “She gave me my freedom.”
Twilight was about to question Celestia when she noticed a deep rumbling sound coming from beside her. She turned to look at Lightning and Quicksilver, finding them both baring their fangs and flaring their wings.
Twilight stared at them curiously. “Are you two growling?”
Chrysalis stepped closer and chuckled. “We changelings are rather feral.” She turned her eyes to her former subordinates. “But I’m not going to do anything so why don’t we all calm down and talk civilly?”
Lightning and Quicksilver sat and tried to relax but they kept their eyes locked on Chrysalis.
Seeing that things wouldn’t escalate, Celestia cleared her throat. “I assume you all have questions.”
“That’s the understatement of the year.” Lightning muttered under her breath.
“I know this isn’t what you expected but I’d like you to try and bare with me. Chrysalis is a different mare now. And I trust her.”
Twilight, Quicksilver and Lightning turned to look at one another. After each of them giving a shrug Twilight spoke. “I’m willing to give her a chance. But can I speak to you privately Princess?”
Celestia nodded. “Of course my student.” She turned to Lightning and Quicksilver. “And what do you two have to say about this?”
Lightning huffed. “As long as she explains herself I’ll give Chrysalis a chance.” Lightning turned her eyes and glared sharply at her former queen. “But if you try anything I’ll cut off that horn again.”
Quicksilver nodded. “What she said.”
Chrysalis grinned. “Fair enough.”
Giving a nod Celestia stood. “Very well. Lightning, Quicksilver I’ll leave you to talk with Chrysalis. Twilight if you’ll follow me we can have that talk now.”
As the princess left with Twilight in tow Chrysalis focused her attention on Lightning and Quicksilver. “You wanted answers to your questions no doubt. Well ask away.”
Lightning stood and began pacing in front of her former queen. “Ok then. First off what are you playing at? What’s the plan you’ve got this time?”
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “I’m not planning anything.”
Quicksilver scoffed. “And I’m the queen of Griffhala. Why not just tell us everything and we can stop playing twenty questions.”
Chrysalis sighed. “That’s not as fun as watching the two of you try and figure out what’s going on but fine. The short answer is Celestia and I are lovers and I’ve no desire to conquer anything anymore.”
Lightning stopped her pacing and rose a brow. “Wait that’s it? After the years of going around and draining the love out of countless places you’re just.....done?”
Chrysalis nodded. “It’s not as simple as you make it but yes that’s it. I’m done.”
Lightning sighed. “You know what? I’m just going to see how things go. I don’t care what you do as long as you stay on the up and up. But like I said, you try anything and I’ll take your horn again.”
Chrysalis laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Celestia walked with Twilight and led the to the lavender unicorns old tower. Once they were inside Celestia turned to Twilight. “So my student, what did you want to talk about?”
“Well first Princess, do you think it was a good idea to leave those three alone?”
Celestia chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry. The conversation will be short, if a bit agressive between them. Then I suspect Chrysalis will go somewhere private to be by herself.”
Twilight sighed. “Well that’s fine I guess. Now um.... Princess can I be completely honest?”
Celestia grinned. “I’d hope you could while talking to me.”
Twilight nodded. “Why are you trusting Chrysalis? Discord I can sort of understand given his abilities but why are you letting Chrysalis just roam around?’
“She’s not just roaming around. She’s helped me with work and I plan on making her a member of my court.”
Twilight’s jaw went slack for a moment. She snapped it shut and gave Celestia a confused look. “But why?”
Celestia sighed. “Twilight, do you know what I am?”
Twilight tilted her head. “An alicorn. The ruler of Equestria. Right?”
Celestia shook her head. “That is part of who I am not what I am.”
“I don’t understand.”
Celestia walked over to the large window in the tower and motioned Twilight to join her. “My little ponies look to me for guidance. They look to me and see me as their ruler, as their protector. Some even view me as a goddess.” Celestia sighed sadly. “The truth is that while I’m immortal I am still only a pony as they are. I’m not infallible and over my long life I’ve made many mistakes.”
Celestia turned to Twilight. “I'm still just a pony."
Twilight stared up at her teacher. “Why are you telling me this?”
Celestia turned her attention back to the view out the window. “Because the reason I decided to give Chrysalis another chance is because I love her.”
Twilight whirled on her hooves to face Celestia fully, her eyes wide. “What?!”
Celestia rose a brow at Twilight’s exclamation and Twilight cleared her throat. “I mean, what are you talking about?”
A small smile settled on Celestia’s face. “I know it’s hard to imagine but even I can fall in love. And long ago when Luna and I first came to rule Equestria I met with Chrysalis because her kingdom of breezies was fairly close. After our first meeting we began to interact and became good friends. And as the years past our friendship grew into something more.”
Celestia sat and turned to face Twilight. “What I felt for her blinded me to how she was being consumed by her insatiable need to acquire love once she changed herself and her breezies into changelings. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I’d lost her.”
Twilight’s ears lowered in sympathy. “That’s why you weren’t more surprised when she revealed herself at the wedding. You knew her.”
Celestia nodded. “To be honest I never thought I’d see her again. But after the wedding and her second attack I thought it would be the only chance I had to try and get through to her.”
Celestia giggled. “Lightning certainly helped with that part. When her horn was removed it gave her system enough of a shock to bring her into a better state of mind.”
Twilight shook her head and sighed. “I’m still not sure about this Princess but like I said, if you trust her I’ll give her a chance.”
Celestia leant down and nuzzled Twilight. “Thank you Twilight. I’ll need your help to design the best way to reveal Chrysalis to the rest of Equestria.”
Twilight chuckled. “I’m happy to help Princess.”
Celestia and Twilight made their way back through the castle to Celestia’s chambers. They had work to do.
Celestia, Twilight and Chrysalis sat at a round table in the princess’s chambers going over a plan to introduce Chrysalis to the public and, by Chrysalis’s request, Lightning and Quicksilver had stayed as well.
When Lightning asked why they needed to stay, Chrysalis had given them a bored look and said.
Quicksilver had taken the vague answer well enough but Lightning only got more irritated as time wore on. When asked about a specific part of the plan or if they had anything to add Quicksilver would give her opinion but Lighting would either stay quiet or excuse herself to “get some air.”
After leaving for the fourth time Chrysalis stood and made to follow Lightning.
Celestia quirked a brow. “Are you sure about following her? She doesn’t seem to be in the best of moods.”
Chrysalis turned and grinned at Celestia. “It’s fine. Trust me.”
Celestia nodded and went back to looking over their work.
Twilight turned to Celestia. “Why’s Chrysalis going after Lightning?”
Celestia sighed through her nose while shaking her head. “Most likely to try and talk to her. Despite how she acts, Chrysalis respects Lightning and would like her opinion. However I fear that if she tries talking to Lightning it may come to blows between the two.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “There’s no may about it. Those two are gonna fight.”
Twilight gasped and turned to the changeling. “What!? Then we’ve got to go make sure they don’t hurt each other.”
As Twilight started to stand Quicksilver shook her head. “That won’t do any good Twilight.”
Twilight shot a confused look at Quicksilver. “Why not?”
Quicksilver sighed. “Lightning’s.....angry with Chrysalis.”
Twilight tilted her head. “What’s Lightning got to be angry about?”
Quicksilver shook her head. “I’m not sure. All I know is that she’s angry. The emotion's radiating from her like heat off a sidewalk in July.”
Twilight sighed. “But you’re in a relationship. You really don’t know anything?”
Quicksilver rolled her eyes. “She’s keeping it to herself. She’s like that. When it matters she plays it close to the vest. She’s gotten better with sharing, relying on me to help her, but she still has her secrets.”
Twilight turned to Celestia. “What do you think about this?”
Celestia sighed. “I trust Chrysalis.” As Twilight opened her mouth to protest Celestia rose a hoof to stop her. “I trust Chrysalis, but that doesn’t mean I approve of her methods. Let’s just stand back and see what happens.”
Twilight sat with a huff. “Whatever happened to talking through differences? Those two shouldn’t fight.”
Quicksilver chuckled. “You can’t change generations of social culture Twilight. Changelings solve problems one of two ways. Subterfuge, or hitting the problem till it’s gone.”
Twilight gave the changeling a flat look. “How fascinating.”
Celestia chuckled. “Don’t worry Twilight. I’m sure things will work out for the best.”
Twilight nodded and went back to her seat to continue going over the plans.
There was a few moments of silence before Quicksilver spoke up.
“So, anyone wanna take bets on which one of them gets beat the worse?”
Celestia and Twilight gave Quiksilver an incredulous look. Quicksilver looked from Celestia to Twilight before tilting her head. “What? Something I said?”
Lightning paced, stomping furiously from one end of the small palace garden to the other. Every so often pausing to punch or kick one of the gardens stone columns in frustration.
All the while a grimace etched firmly on her features. Two days. She’s kept us here two freakin’ days! And for what? Perspective. What’s that supposed to mean? I’ll give her perspective, right up the side of her head!
Again Lightning lashed out at a stone column, chipping a small piece off as she struck.
“I’m sure whatever the stonework did it’s very sorry.”
Lightning whipped her head around and saw Chrysalis standing at the gardens entrance. An easygoing grin on her face.
Lightnings sour expression deepened and she huffed as she turned to face Chrysalis. “What do you want?”
Chrysalis moved forward, her tone becoming airy. “Oh I just wanted to have a little chat with you.”
Lightning snorted. “I’ll bet.”
Chrysalis stopped several feet from Lightning and tilted her head. “Well why else would I be here?”
Lightning rolled her eyes. “I don’t know and frankly I don’t care. Like I said before, do whatever you want and as long as you don’t cause trouble I won’t give your horn a trim.”
Chrysalis nodded. “Oh yes about that. Do you really think you could challenge me again? Last time you had help and I wasn’t very sound of mind.”
Lightning’s eye twitched. “Whatever, just get to why you’re here. I’m starting to get a headache.”
Chrysalis chuckled. “Ok then. I want to know why you aren’t contributing to my reintroduction plan. I need the perspective of my subjects.”
Lightning rolled her eyes and started walking toward the gardens exit. “You want their perspective? Here it is. Chrysalis gone, chance at new life, everybody happy. Glad I could help.”
As Lightning passed Chrysalis, the former queen spoke. Her voice low and serious. “Why don’t you take a swing?”
Lightning froze. “What?”
Not moving Chrysalis spoke in the same tone as before. “Take a swing at me. With all the anger you’re giving off I can tell you want to.”
Lightning grit her teeth. “You want to start something? Here? Now?”
Chrysalis fluttered her wings. “If not now, when?”
Lightning said nothing and the two stood in silence. Side by side and facing away from one another as the seconds ticked away. The late afternoon air was cool and calm as the pair stood, waiting for the other to make any kind of move.
A stray leaf floated on the wind and passed between the two when it was suddenly split apart by the holed leg that Lightning bucked at Chrysalis. Chrysalis evaded and soon the two were a flurry of motion. Lightning striking out with punches and kicks as fast and with as much force as she could muster. Chrysalis, either evading or blocking the attacks sent at her and commenting as the fight went on.
An uppercut dodged. “Very nice, if a little slow.”
A two legged buck shoved aside. “That made my foreleg a bit numb.”
A strong right countered and held in place as Chrysalis pushed back. “I’d forgotten how strong siege drones are. You might win in a fair fight.”
Suddenly Chrysalis’s horn lit in her acid green aura and Lightning felt herself suspended, restrained, in mid air. “Too bad this isn’t a fair fight.”
Lightning struggled as best she could. Gritting her teeth as her muscles strained against the magic that held her.
Chrysalis shook her head. “Give it up Lyse. You can’t....”
Lightning snarled angrily and her own horn became surrounded in an electric green aura. Shouting as she exerted her magic Lightning was able to shatter the magical hold on herself and lunged at a surprised Chrysalis.
Lightning began repeatedly striking the former queens face. Each punch was accompanied with an angry declaration.
“Don’t!” Punch. “Call!” Punch. “Me!” Punch “LYSE!”
Lighting paused and brought her right foreleg up, changing it into a blade as she did. “My name is Lightning!”
She brought her bladed limb down, racing toward Chrysalis’s face. Lightning was breathing heavily as she left her limb buried in the soft earth next to Chrysalis’s head. Her sides heaved and her eyes misted as angry tears gathered in her eyes.
Chrysalis lay still, looking up into the face of the changeling over her as she spoke.
“You threw me away. You threw so many of us away. If you thought we were too weak. If we failed you. You’d throw us away like we were nothing.” Lighting shook her head angrily as the tears began to flow from her eyes. “All we ever did, ever wanted, was to serve you. To serve the hive. I did everything I was ordered to without question. And you still threw me away. Why?”
Chrysalis slowly, sadly, shook her head. “I can’t give you an answer.”
Lightning glared down at Chrysalis. “Why not? Aren’t you the all powerful, all knowing, eternal ruler of the glorious changeling empire?” Lighting brought her face within an inch of the queen’s as her voice became a venomous growl. “Tell me, my Queen, why you threw us away like we were nothing but tools for you to use and abandon. I can’t wait to hear how you...”
Lightning’s rant stopped and her eyes widened. When she spoke it was barely above a whisper. “Wh...what?”
Chrysalis stared up at Lightning. Here ears lowered and her tone mournful. “I’m sorry. I know it can’t make up for what I did and I don’t expect forgiveness but I am sorry.”
Lighting shook her head and glared. “No. No! You don’t get to apologize. Not after what you did. You used us. You used your own subjects for your little power game and made us into monsters.”
Chrysalis tilted her head. “Did I?”
Lightning blinked in confusion. “Huh?”
“If you were a monster would you have let me live just now? You had me by surprise, you could have finished me.”
Lightning brought her bladed foreleg up and looked between it and Chrysalis. After glancing from her leg to Chrysalis for a few moments Lightning changed her leg back and moved off of Chrysalis.
Chrysalis sat up and turned to face Lightning. “I might have made myself and our kind into monsters but you didn’t stay that way. So tell me, what are you?”
Lightning sat and stared ahead in thought focusing on nothing in particular. After several long minutes Lightning turned to Chrysalis. “I’m Lightning.”
Chrysalis nodded and stood. “Yes. You are.” Chrysalis started to walk away when Lightning called out to her.
“Then what are you?”
Chrysalis turned her head to Lightning, showing a small smile. “I”m the former queen of the changelings. I’m the lover of Princess Celestia. And I’m a mare looking for redemption. I’m Chrysalis. Is that enough?”
Lightning looked away and nodded. “I’m still pretty ticked at you though.”
Chrysalis chuckled. “Fair enough.” And with that Chrysalis left Lightning alone and entered the castle.
As Chrysalis made her way through the castles halls she rounded a corner and came face to face with Celestia. The princess came forward and gently took Chrysalis’s chin in her magical grip, examining the injuries.
Celestia sighed. “Well at least it’s not as bad as I’d thought. Did you really have to do this?”
Chrysalis chuckled. “She was too angry for anything else to work. Lightning needed to let her anger out before she’d try and see me as anything other than the Queen that abandoned her and my people.”
Celestia shook her head and grinned. “Well as long as you’ve worked things out. Just try to be more diplomatic in the future.”
Chrysalis smirked. “I at least got the guards surrounding the gardens to leave for a while.”
Celestia rose a brow. “How’d you manage that?”
Chrysalis’s smirk widened. “I imitated you.”
Celestia giggled. “What am I going to do with you?”
“I can think of a few things.” Chrysalis said as she wiggled her eyebrows.
Celestia nudged Chrysalis with her shoulder. “You’re impossible.” Chrysalis just kept smirking.
Lightning returned to Celestia’s room and found everyone going over ideas for Chrysalis’s reveal again.
Lightning cleared her throat. “That Summer Sun Celebration is coming up soon. Why not try introducing Chrysalis to everyone then?”
Twilight nodded. “That could work. What do you think Princess?”
Celestia nodded. “I’ll begin making arrangements.”
Lightning sat beside Quicksilver and pressed herself into her partner's side. Quicksilver nosed Lightnings cheek. “You good now?”
Lightning nodded. “I will be.”
Quicksliver hummed thoughtfully then quirked a brow. “Hey I just thought of something.” Lightning tilted her head as Quicksilver continued. “You think Scootaloo’s gotten into any trouble while we’ve been gone?”
When Lightning and Quicksilver were out of sight Scootaloo turned to Fluttershy. “Is it ok if I go hang out with my friends now?”
Fluttershy nodded. “Just make sure you’re back before dark.”
Scootaloo smiled and hopped on her scooter. “Thanks Fluttershy, see ya later!”
Speeding down the dirt road Scootaloo made her way towards Sweet Apple Acres, eager to share an idea she’d come up with the night before.
As she came to the outer orchards of the apple farm Scootaloo turned off the road and made her way through the lines of trees, headed for the little clearing that had the CMC clubhouse. After rounding one last line of trees, Scootaloo headed straight for the ramp at the base of the tree. Parking her scooter, Scootaloo trotted up the ramp and threw open the door.
“Stop what you’re doing cuz I’ve got an idea!”
Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes. “Oh boy, another fantastic idea by Scootaloo. Good thing my will’s up to date.”
Scootaloo ignored the comment and walked to the center of the room. “Today we’re going to have an adventure.”
Sweetie Belle tilted her head. “An adventure? What kind of adventure?”
Scootaloo grinned and struck a dynamic pose. ‘We’re gonna explore the Everfree forest!”
There was a beat of silence before Apple Bloom spoke. “Anybody else wanna tell ‘er what’s wrong with that sentence or should Ah do it?”
Silver Spoon held up a hoof and hopped eagerly. “Ooh let me do it. I wanna do it!”
Apple Bloom motioned for Spoon to go ahead and the grey filly stepped forward.
Clearing her throat Silver Spoon turned to Scootaloo. “Did you take one to many spills on that scooter of yours or do you really think that going into the Everfree forest, a forest filled with all kinds of pony eating beasts, is a good idea?”
Scootaloo sat and put her hooves together in a pleading gesture. “Just hear me out. I promise this is a good idea.”
The other fillies thought over giving Scootaloo a chance to explain what she was talking about and after thinking it over for a few moments each nodded and Silver Spoon turned to Scootaloo.
“Ok, we’ll bite. What’s this idea of yours.”
Scootaloo grinned and motioned for the others to follow her as she headed for the stairs leading up to the observatory at the top of the clubhouse. When everyone filed into the upper room Scootaloo went to the telescope and began positioning it while talking.
“The other day I was looking through the telescope up here and found this.”
Scootaloo continued to move the telescope until she spotted a what she’d been looking for. Scootaloo stepped back, “Have a look.”
Apple Bloom put her eye up to the telescope and saw an oddly shaped tree that rose above the surrounding forest. Arching a brow, she turned to Scootaloo.
“What am Ah lookin’ at here?”
Scootaloo rose a hoof and adjusted a knob on the telescope. “Look again.”
Apple Bloom took another look. At first she couldn’t see anything different but then she noticed that half of the tree’s trunk was actually stone. Apple Bloom stepped back and turned to Sweetie Belle, Diamond, and Silver Spoon. “Hey y’all, ya gotta see this.”
As each filly looked through the telescope Scootaloo started talking again. “I found that the other day when I was up here. I thought it was kinda interesting so I went to Zecora and asked her if she knew what that was. She told me that is was some old ruins and it’s pretty close to the edge of the Everfree. It’s only about as far in as Zecora’s hut so we should be able to get there and look around with no problem.”
Sweetie Belle turned to Scootaloo with a nervous look. “Are you sure it’s safe?”
Scootaloo waved a hoof dismissively. “Zecora said she goes there all the time to get a kind of moss and she’s never seen anything.” Scootaloo looked to her friends with a wide smile. “So are you guys in?”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Ah’m all for it. I go in the forest all the time to visit Zecora so this shouldn’t be all that different.”
Sweetie Belle sighed. “I’ll go but we need to be careful.”
Diamond snorted in annoyance. “Do we really have to go into that dark, dank forest just for some “adventure”?”
Scootaloo’s smirk widened. “We don’t have to go in there for adventure. We get to.”
Diamond rolled her eyes. “Whatever, I’m in.”
Silver Spoon put a hoof to her forehead and sighed. “Once more into the breach I guess. Why do I always follow you guys?”
Scootaloo went up to Silver Spoon and threw a foreleg around her withers. “Cuz we’re awesome. And the fact that no matter how much you complain, you love every minute of what we do.”
Silver Spoon chuckled. “Yeah, yeah. You’re all just a barrel of fun. Let’s just go to the deep dark forest already.”
Apple Bloom nodded and started down the stairs. “Right, let’s get our flanks in gear girls. Move out!” Galloping down the ramp, Apple Bloom was quickly followed by the others as they made for the Everfree forest.
Apple Bloom stood in front of the rest of her group looking over a list they’d made. She scanned down the paper before turning to the others as they all stood just outside the forest.
Apple Bloom arched a brow. “Flashlights?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Got them in the saddlebags.”
Sweetie Belle saluted with a smile. “Check.”
Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes and nodded. “Yes. Now can we stop with the Twilight routine and get this crazy train rolling?”
Apple Bloom chuckled. “Sure thing yer highness.” She turned to Scootaloo. “This is your show so lead the way.”
Scootaloo nodded with a smirk. “Ok, follow me.”
Scootaloo began trotting toward the path that led to Zecora’s hut. Scootaloo knew that they would have to follow the path almost all the way to where the zebra lived before they’d need to turn right, leaving the path. From there it would be up to them to navigate through the forest and find what they were looking for. Scootaloo hoped that Sweetie Belle was good at drawing their course once they strayed from the path or this little outing could get a bit complicated.
While the group walked there was the usual idle chatter about what was going on in town, at school, and things in general until Scootaloo saw the trail start bending left.
Scootaloo turned to her friends and nodded her head to the right. “We gotta go this way. Sweetie, start marking where we go on the map.”
Facing forward again Scootaloo grinned. “Ok girls, this is where the fun starts.” With that Scootaloo led the group off the path and through the untamed flora of the forest.
“Are we close yet?” Came Diamond’s whine from the back of the group.
Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Just a bit further.”
Silver Spoon huffed. “You said that hours ago.”
Apple Bloom chuckled. “It’s only been half an hour. Sweetie Belle, what’s the map say?”
Sweetie looked over the map, measuring the distance they’d travelled with her hoof. . “We should be close. The place Scootaloo marked is only a hoof tip away now.”
Apple Bloom nodded and trotted up beside Scootaloo. “You see anything up here yet?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah. Awhile back I started seeing that moss Zecora talked about growing on one or two of the trees. We should find those ruins in a minute.”
No sooner had Scootaloo said that then the group started to see collapsing stonework among the trees and shrubs of the forest. And before long the soil under their hooves gave way to the remains of a cobblestone road that led them into what looked like an old village. Collapsing buildings of all sizes surrounded them and in the middle of it all was the tower that a massive tree had grown around.
After glancing around for a while, Scootaloo turned to the others. “Ok I think we should split up so we can look around more.” She pointed at Apple Bloom. “AB, you take Sweetie and Diamond and go look at some of those buildings.” Scootaloo then turned to Silver Spoon. “Spoon, you’re with me. We’re gonna go check out that tower. Any questions?”
Diamond rose a hoof with an annoyed look on her face. “Yeah, I got a few. Who put you in charge and how come I gotta go with these two?”
Scootaloo rolled her eyes and smirked. “Because this was my idea and I put you with Apple Bloom cuz she can keep ya in line.”
Diamond huffed while Apple Bloom chuckled, tapping Diamond on the shoulder. “C’mon Diamond. Let’s go see what we can find out here. You too Sweetie Belle.”
As the three walked off Scootaloo turned to Silver Spoon. “I’m surprised you didn’t have anything to say.”
Silver Spoon chuckled. “I could think of worse places to be.” Spoon brought a hoof up to her chin and tapped it. “Although the Everfree forest does rank pretty high on bad places to be.” She shrugged. “Maybe I’m finally as crazy as you now.”
Scootaloo just shook her head and grinned. “Whatever you say Spoon. Now let’s check out that tower.” Silver Spoon nodded and the pair headed for the center of the ruins.
It took Scootaloo and Silver Spoon some time, what with the collapsed buildings and several spots of dense plant life, but they eventually reached the tower. Going through a collapsed section of wall to the towers interior Scootaloo brought out her flashlight and shook it to make sure the charge was full before turning it on. Sweeping the beam of light around Scootaloo saw a set of stairs on the far end of the room.
“Let’s head that way. Maybe there’s something cool further up.”
Silver Spoon nodded and the two walked toward the stairs. As they crossed the halfway point of the room a loud groaning sound made them stop in their tracks. When they heard a cracking sound come from underneath them Scootaloo shined her light at their hooves. Seeing a large crack beginning to form in the floor they froze.
Scootaloo turned to Silver Spoon worriedly. “Ok let’s try to slowly inch over to the...”
Before she could finish another cracking sound echoed through the room and the ground sunk a few inches as another load groan came from the floor.
Turning to each other, Silver Spoon gave Scootaloo a deadpan look. “I blame you for this.”
And just as the grey filly finished her sentence the ground gave way and the two began tumbling through the air as they fell.
The initial fall caught Scootaloo off guard and she began flailing in the open air before she remembered she could fly. Just as she opened her wings and started to ascend she saw Silver Spoon fall past her and Scootaloo was suddenly struck by a very obvious, and in this case very dangerous, fact. Silver Spoon couldn’t fly.
Quickly aiming herself downwards Scootaloo shot after the plummeting Silver Spoon. Scootaloo stretched her forelegs out as far as she could and shouted to her friend.
“Spoon, reach for me!”
Hey eyes wide with fear, Silver Spoon reached out as far as she could to Scootaloo. As the seconds ticked by Scootaloo grit her teeth as she pushed her wings to flap harder, trying to close the last few inches to Silver Spoon. With a few more strong flaps Scootaloo was able to grab Spoon’s outstretched hoof and pulled the filly close. It looked like the pair was home free until Scootaloo tried to fly upwards. Her wings seized and pain shot through the her flight muscles. Her wings began to slow and the the two fillies began dropping again.
Chancing a look down, Scootaloo could barely make out the shadowed parts of the ground below rushing up to meet them. Straining her wings Scootaloo slowed their decent as much as she could before going into a spiraling glide. The speed of the fall reduced but as the ground got closer Scootaloo could tell that their landing would be rough. Just before they met the ground Scootaloo flipped herself over and curled around Silver Spoon.
After the first impact with the ground Scootaloo’s grip loosened a bit causing herself and Silver spoon to roll in different directions as they landed.
At first the two laid still where they’d stopped rolling and tried to catch their breath. After a few moments Scootaloo shakily got to her hooves and walked over to Silver Spoon. Wincing at the pain that went through her wings.
Scootaloo nudged Silver Spoon when she reached the gray filly. “Hey. You ok?”
Silver Spoon groaned and got up but when she put weight on her right leg she yelped in pain and held the limb to her chest. “Ow. I hurt my leg but I think everything else is fine. You?”
Scootaloo sighed. “My wings don’t feel right. They’re not broken but they really hurt. I think I must’ve pulled something.”
Silver Spoon nodded then turned her head in every direction. “What is this place?”
Scootaloo shrugged. “I guess this place was built over a cave or something.”
Silver Spoon suddenly went rigid. “Wait. If we’re stuck in a cave and you can’t fly us out does that mean...”
Scootaloo put a hoof on Silver Spoon’’s shoulder. “Hey don’t worry.” She pointed her other hoof further into the cavern. “It looks like this place goes further in. If we follow it there’s bound to be a way out.”
Silver Spoon looked to Scootaloo with wide, worried eyes. “You sure?”
Scootaloo grinned. “Trust me.”
Silver Spoon stared into Scootaloo’s eyes and the confidence she saw in the pegasus calmed her worries slightly. She nodded. “Ok.”
Scootaloo turned her head and rummaged through the saddlebag that had fallen off of Silver Spoon. After a few seconds her head came up with a flashlight in her mouth. She flicked the switch and was rewarded with a bright beam of light.
Scootaloo's grin widened. “Well thank Celestia for small miracles.” Strapping the light onto a loop on her Saddlebag Scootaloo offered a hoof to Silver Spoon. “Come on. Let’s find a way out of here.”
Helping up and steadying Silver on her hooves Scootaloo turned and started to make her way into the cavern. Silver Spoon staying right beside her.