Undead Robot Bug Crusaders

by Banjo64

Chapter 5: Tearing Off the Bandage

After hearing their stories, Applejack paced back and forth. Her face jumped between confused, troubled, and several other expressions. She was, however, clearly getting more and more frustrated. It was apparent that she had some conflicting thoughts about what had been revealed to her.

It also occurred to Scootaloo that trying to convince the Element of Honesty to keep a secret that wasn’t directly tied to her family was going to be virtually impossible.

“Uh… Are we in trouble? She looks really upset,” Scootaloo whispered to Apple Bloom.

“Nah. She always gets like this when she’s arguin’ with somepony really stubborn, like herself,” Apple Bloom whispered back.

“Oh. So no reason to worry?” asked Scootaloo.

“I didn’t say we’re in the clear, just that she ain’t mad at us. She could still decide to do somethin’ drastic,” Apple Bloom replied.

Scootaloo gulped at the prospect.

Applejack gave a frustrated grunt, but continued to pace.

Uh… mom? Can I get a little help here? Scootaloo asked over the hivemind.

I’m halfway to Hoofington right now. You’ll have to ask your siblings, sweetie, came the reply.

Busy, one of her sisters called.

Busy, said another one.

Too tired, added one of her brothers.


And so on until at last, there was one changeling who volunteered to help.

Don’t worry Scooter! Big sister Goose is on the way! Her older sister joyfully cried.

Scootaloo cringed.

Goose, remember what happened last you tried to ‘help’ me? Scootaloo less-then-gently reminded.

Nope! It must have been something silly if I can’t remember, answered Goose.

Yeah, how could somepony who forgot the time she broke my leg possibly forget something important? Another changeling added.

I did what? Asked Goose.

With a sigh, Scootaloo tuned out the hivemind. Clearly, she wasn't getting any help keeping Applejack from telling everypony in Ponyville that there were changelings living in town.

One would think something like that would be taken more seriously.

Finally, Applejack gave a frustrated huff, and turned toward the three fillies in front of her.

“Alright, Ah’ve made a decision,” she announced.

All three of them tensed up.

“First off, Ah realize that it’d be mighty unfair for me to just out y’all when mah own sister has a problem of her own, so Ah ain’t gonna report this to anypony. Not yet at least,” she said with a serious look.

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle started sweating.

Applejack pointed a hoof toward Sweetie Belle before she continued speaking.

“Ah don’t know the first thing about fancy machines, but Ah do know that just because somethin’s fancy doesn’t mean it’s workin’ right. Ah believe ya when ya say ya don’t know why you're a machine, but that just tells me ya need somepony to take a proper look at ya. And that means you're paying a visit to Twilight tomorrow and tellin’ her everythin’,” Applejack said.

“What?!” Sweetie Belle nervously squealed, “But… But…”

“You’re gettin’ a check up, and it’s either the pony who’s mah friend and already knows Apple Bloom’s secret, or some stranger who happens to know a thing or two about machines. And Ah’m tellin’ Twilight the truth either way, so ya might as well go to her,” said Applejack, her tone suggesting the matter wasn’t up for debate.

Any objections Sweetie Belle could have voiced were buried under her anxious mumbles and squeaks. Applejack did have a point: having somepony who actually worked with machines give her a proper examination would be a good idea.

As long as it didn’t result in, say, dissection to find out what made her tick.

Applejack then turned to face Scootaloo, her expression somehow becoming even more serious.

Scootaloo felt herself wilting under her gaze.

“And as for you, Ah have no reason to trust the word of a changeling. It’s what ya claim is the truth, vs what Ah saw for mahself at the weddin’. While Ah’m willin’ to give you the benefit of a doubt, it’s only because Apple Bloom’s not a mindless husk,” Applejack said before pausing to wince.

“Ah thought Ah told ya Ah don’t care. Ah am a husk. Not sayin’ it doesn’t make it less true,” Apple Bloom grumbled.

“Anyway, mah point stands. You’re a changeling. Bein’ a different color doesn’t make you less of a love-eatin’ monster. Ah don’t trust ya, and unless ya can prove beyond a doubt that you’re the pony I’ve seen runnin’ around mah farm, that’s not changin’ anytime soon,” declared Applejack.

Scootaloo gave a resigned sigh. She could see where Applejack was coming from. Chrysalis hadn’t exactly left a great impression about changelings. This didn’t make Applejack’s attitude any more pleasant, though.

At least she hadn’t said the P word.

“Alright then, what do you want me to do to prove it? Arrange a meeting with my Queen or something?” asked Scootaloo.

“Ah have an idea, but it doesn’t involve ya, and Ah don’t want ya settin’ somethin’ up beforehoof, so Ah ain’t tellin’ ya. But if ya really want to try and earn mah trust, ya can tell all mah friends who don’t know the truth yet what’s goin’ on,” said Applejack.

Scootaloo winced at the idea, but she had to admit that if Sweetie Belle was going to have to fess up, she’d might as well do the same. It was only fair.

Applejack then turned to face her sister.

“That goes for you too, Apple Bloom. If Rarity and Fluttershy both know one of your friends’ secrets already, Ah see no point in keepin’ your secret from them as well,” Applejack declared.

Apple Bloom sighed.

“Alright, but if Fluttershy ends up in the hospital from a heart attack, Ah ain’t takin’ responsibility,” said Apple Bloom.

Applejack rolled her eyes.

“Right, so me and the girls have a get together planned tomorrow evenin’ a little after sundown. Y’all have until then to let everypony know about your secrets, or Ah tell them mahself. Agreed?” asked Applejack.

“Agreed,” came three resigned answers.

The next day, Scootaloo’s morning started as it usually did: too early.

Gooooood morning! Who’s ready for omelets? Called a voice over the hive mind.

The answer came in the form of a few joyful cheers, and more than a few groans.

Ugh… Butter! How many times do we have to tell you not to broadcast to the whole hive first thing in the morning! A different voice argued.

Several other voices joined in.

Do you have any idea what time it is?!

I was up till two in the morning last night! I need more sleep!


And did you have to mention what you’re cooking again? You keep making me hungry!

Yeah! How am I going to lose weight if you keep giving me cravings for cheese?!

Oops. Sorry everypony!

With a groan Scootaloo pulled herself out of bed. Who needs an alarm clock when you have an older brother who keeps forgetting to let his siblings sleep in?

Seriously, Butter. Do we have to have somepony in the hive duct tape a note to your head?

Didn’t Poppy try that last week?

No, she just stuck a note on the fridge. You know, the one with all our cousins’ drawings on it?



Dang it, Poppy!

Well, where else was I going to put it? On the stove?

Wait, why are we all getting mad at Poppy instead of Butter?

Yeah! It’s totally Butter’s fault! Everything is Butter’s fault!

Oh, be quiet, Twitch!

Make me!

Scootaloo sighed and toned out the argument. She had a long and stressful day ahead of her, the last thing she needed was a headache as well.

Besides, Butter had made her hungry too.

Some time later, the CMC met up at the clubhouse. They didn’t say anything. They all just made their way to the bean bags and flopped down, staring at the ceiling.

Several minutes passed before anypony moved.

“You know, sitting here all morning isn’t going to make this any easier,” muttered Sweetie Belle.

“Ah don’t see ya gettin’ up and headin’ out,” Apple Bloom muttered in return.

“She’s not the one that let our secrets slip to the Element of Honesty, Apple Bloom,” Scootaloo pointed out.

Apple Bloom gave a groan of regret.

“Applejack sleeps like a rock. What the hay was she doin’ up that late?” she moaned a little louder then she probably intended.

“Does it matter? We still have to tell my sister and her friends what's going on,” stated Sweetie Belle.

“Wait, I thought you were terrified of telling Twilight, Sweetie Belle. You seem pretty calm about it now,” noted Scootaloo.

“You think I’m happy about this? I’m the one who could end up dissected here! The worst thing you two have to worry about is scaring somepony!” argued Sweetie Belle.

“And Twilight won’t want to dissect a changeling? The bug ponies that crashed her brother’s wedding? And don’t forget I’m not the only changeling in ponyville. What if this starts an anti-changeling search or something? I could get my entire family driven out! I could get into serious trouble!” exclaimed Scootaloo.

“Trouble? The Princesses are tryin’ to turn changelings into citizens. Ah’m the monster from the Everfree! Ah’m the one that’ll make Fluttershy scream when she sees me! If anypony’s gettin’ driven out, it’ll be me! ” Apple Bloom argued back.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Yeah, to your farm. You don’t exactly live in the middle of town. I do. If my secret goes public…”

“Then you can just go to yer hive thing! You’re a changeling! How hard can it be for you to just turn into somepony else and…”

“Very hard! Do you have any idea how much paperwork…”

“Ok, that’s enough!” yelled Sweetie Belle.

Her friends cringed and turned toward her.

“Look, regardless of who’s in greater danger, I think we can all agree that it’d be better if we tell them ourselves instead of Applejack doing it, right?” Sweetie Belle asked.

She got a pair of reluctant nods.

“Then let’s stop arguing and just get it over with. The longer we sit here worrying about it, the harder it’s going to be for us to actually do it,” explained Sweetie Belle.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo shared a look and sighed.

“Yeah, you’re right Sweetie Belle,” admitted Scootaloo.

“Though maybe we can start with yer sister? Ah mean, Ah think she’s the one we’re all worried about the least,” suggested Apple Bloom.

“Yeah, that’d probably be a good idea. I mean, it’s Rarity. She’ll probably just faint or something. What’s the worst she could do to us?” said Sweetie Belle.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo glared at her. Sweetie Belle facehooved.

“Why did I say that?” she moaned.

The CMC’s fears were realized. What awaited them at Carousel Boutique was undoubtedly the worst possible thing that could have happened to them.

“Well girls, it was nice knowing you, but it looks like this is the end,” said Scootaloo, fighting to hold back her tears.

“Yep. It was fun while it lasted,” said Apple Bloom, with a pained look.

Rarity rolled her eyes.

“Oh, don’t be such drama queens. I’m just straightening your manes a bit,” she chided.

Sweetie Belle was stuck between giggling and wincing at her friends' suffering.

Scootaloo sighed. Rarity’s reaction to their reveal had been mixed. On the one hoof, the scream was expected. The insistence on styling both their undisguised manes before continuing the conversation however, was not.

“Honestly, how did you get your manes in such states? I understand you can’t help how fray and thin they are, but you could at least try to straighten them out now and again,” said Rarity as she attacked the tangled mops in front of her with several combs.

“Changing always messes it up. Besides, I can just change my disguise’s mane style, so there's never really a reason to,” explained Scootaloo through clenched teeth.

Why did combs have to hurt so much?

“And mah mane’s always like this- Gah!” Apple Bloom winced in pain.

“Sorry darling, but this knot is being as stubborn as your sister. And if this is how you always do your mane, I believe I’ll have to have words with Applejack about proper mane care. It’s simply not healthy to…”


Rarity stopped talking in shock. It turned out that the knot in Apple Bloom’s mane was stronger than her undead neck, leaving her head dangling from the comb in Rarity’s magic field.

“Ah don’t think bein’ healthy’s much of a concern for me these days,” muttered Apple Bloom’s head.

With the messy manes fixed to the point she could stand to look at them, Rarity gave the ghoul and changeling her full attention.

“I can not say I’m delighted to learn of these developments, but I suppose it could be worse. At the very least your new colors seem to go well together, though personally I think red and black is one of the most overrated combinations possible,” noted Rarity.

Scootaloo fought back a moan.

“Ok, are you going to take this seriously? I get that fashion and colors and all that fancy stuff is your thing, but is that really what you should be focusing on right now?” asked Scootaloo.

Rarity sighed.

“Not really, but I don’t see what else to do. It’s rather plain to see that you two are still perfectly normal fillies aside from your appearance, and I’m hardly an expert on undead ponies or changelings. Well, aside from perhaps Apple Bloom’s appearance. You do have a striking resemblance to this one undead gentlecolt I read about the other evening,” she admitted.

That raised a few eyebrows, though Sweetie Belle just facehooved.

“Since when did you read anything other than romance books?” asked Scootaloo.

“She doesn’t. There’s just such a thing as a zombie romance story. One I deeply regret reading,” answered Sweetie Belle.

“Oh come now. I admit the story was a tad silly at some points, but it wasn’t that bad,” said Rarity.

Sweetie Belle just grumbled to herself, though Scootaloo thought she heard “love does not cure zombies,” or something ridiculous like that.

“OK, but what about me? Aren’t you are a little concerned that there might be changelings in Ponyville, or something?” asked Scootaloo.

“I see no reason why I should. After all, those ruffians from the wedding were clearly the trouble causing sort, rather than typical citizens of your people,” explained Rarity.

Wait, what? Though Scootaloo.

Her expression prompted Rarity to explain.

“I thought it was quite obvious. Their poses, their movements… There was no doubt in my mind that they were fully aware that they were acting as criminals. Although, now that I think about it, I suppose Applejack might have had difficulty noticing such things. Don’t worry, Scootaloo, I’ll have a word with her during our outing this evening,” reassured Rarity.

Scootaloo let out a sigh of relief. That might help a little.

“What are you even doing tonight?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Oh, you know, socializing and what not. Nothing you’d be interested in,” said Rarity with a wave of her hoof.

Pinkie Pie shuffled her cards with a confident smirk.

“Just you wait, Rarity. I’m winning back my emergency ice cream tonight!”

With one of their revelations behind them without incident, the CMC felt a bit more confident as they approached Fluttershy’s cottage.

“OK, the plan is that I explain things to her, then Sweetie Belle reveals herself, and we only take Apple Bloom’s bow off if Fluttershy insists we show her,” said Scootaloo.

“Sounds good to me,” said Sweetie Belle.

Apple Bloom sighed.

“As good a plan as any Ah guess,” she said.

Scootaloo reached over and gave Apple Bloom a quick hug.

“It’ll be fine, Apple Bloom. And even if things go wrong, the two of us will be here for you,” she reassured her friend.

“Ah hope so. We’re overdue for somethin’ to go horribly wrong,” admitted Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes, but didn’t comment.

With their resolve set, the three of them made their way to the door.

As they got close, however, they noticed the sound of a conversation coming from a open window.

“... and the next thing I know, I’m stuck in a classroom for something I actually wanted to learn! How crazy is that?” came the voice of Rainbow Dash.

The CMC stopped, turned, and made their way to the window, silently agreeing to listen in. They were curious as to why Rainbow Dash was visiting Fluttershy.

When they peeked in, they saw that it wasn’t just Rainbow Dash who had stopped by for a visit.

“Really now?” said Applejack, her raised eyebrow almost audible.

The CMC looked at each other. Applejack was here too?

“Oh yes. And it proved to be quite informative. They even taught us a few techniques to blend in with them,” added the voice of Fluttershy.

“Yeah. Those tips came in handy during the wedding. You should have seen it Applejack. I managed to trick a few into thinking I was one of them, putting me in the perfect spot to strike them when they were focused on Fluttershy,” said Rainbow.

Wait, are they talking about… thought Scootaloo as the realization came to her.

It seemed Applejack’s plan to find out if she could trust Scootaloo was to talk with the two ponies Scootaloo claimed had known her secret for ages, without giving her time to set something up between them.

“Ah know. Ya kept tellin’ us about it for days after the weddin’,” deadpanned Applejack.

“Yeah, well it wasn’t just me. Fluttershy managed to actually trick a few into actually walking out of the fight,” said Rainbow.

“Um… I really just pointed my hoof and made an angry face,” admitted Fluttershy.

“Oh please. You’ve been hanging out with changelings for years. I bet you could spot one in a crowd while blindfolded,” said Rainbow.

“I wouldn’t say that…” said Fluttershy.

“Ah think we’re gettin’ off point. This whole hive thin’ is interestin’ and all, but I still want a clear answer to the reason Ah’m here. Are ya sure Ah can trust these changelings?” asked Applejack.

“Oh. I think so. I mean, there are bad changelings out there, just like there are bad ponies, but I’ve known the changelings from Scootaloo’s hive for a very long time. I can even take you to visit their hive if it would help,” suggested Fluttershy.

Applejack let out a sigh.

“Nah, that’s fine. Scootaloo already offered, and if y’all are right about this upcomin’ royal visit to their hive, Ah guess Ah have no reason to think she was lyin’,” admitted Applejack.

“I get ya, AJ. Changelings can be kind of creepy at first, but they’re an alright bunch,” said Rainbow Dash.

“Well, thanks for talkin’ with me. Ah guess Ah owe Scootaloo an apology for the attitude,” said Applejack as she got up to leave.

Meanwhile, the CMC gave each other happy looks. This was turning out much better than they had dared to hope.

“Oh, it’s no problem,” said Fluttershy with a smile.

“Yeah. Good job getting them to talk, by the way. I was worried they were going to keep putting it off and…” Rainbow paused, her expression quickly getting fearful at her slip up.

An expression the CMC shared.

“They? Oh! Are you talking about Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom’s secrets? I… um… kind of already know about them,” admitted Fluttershy.

“What?!” cried Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, before slamming their hooves over their mouths.

Scootaloo had to hold back the urge to slam her own hooves into her face.

The three adult ponies turned toward the window, looking surprised, though Applejack quickly looked annoyed as well.

Apple Bloom forced herself to speak.

“Uh… We were just, ya know, comin’ to tell Fluttershy about… ya know…” she stammered out.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack rolled their eyes. Fluttershy, on the other hoof, seemed to be on the verge of tears.

“I’m so sorry. A lot of my animal friends have stronger noses than ponies, so they can smell that Sweetie Belle is made of metal, and that Apple Bloom kind of smells, well… sorry… like a dead body... Sorry...  And they told me about it so… I’m so so SO sorry…” confessed Fluttershy.

Everypony shared an awkward look for a moment, finally, Sweetie Belle let out a sigh.

“It’s OK Fluttershy, though now I have to ask,” she said before turning toward Apple Bloom.

“If you smell like a dead body, how the hay haven’t we noticed that before?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Apple Bloom gave her a deadpan look.

“Because of this amazin’ new invention called soap. Like Ah’d walk around without hidin’ that obvious sign that Ah’m undead,” said Apple Bloom with an eyeroll.

After a lengthy and painful lecture on eavesdropping, Applejack led Scootaloo outside for a private discussion.

“Ah just wanted to say Ah’m sorry. Ah gave ya some really harsh words last night, even though you were spillin’ yer heart out to me. Even if Ah had mah doubts, I shouldn't have snapped at ya,” Applejack admitted.

“It’s fine. I was there for the wedding. I know how bad an impression that left on you and everypony else. To be honest, I’m actually kind of surprised that you’re the only pony I’ve revealed myself to so far that was even a little suspicious of me,” reassured Scootaloo.

This announcement didn’t seem to make Applejack feel any better.

“Look, we’re used to being feared because we look like giant bugs. And if you look at our history and what we can do to ponies, you can see that some of that fear is justified. You were afraid, but you took the time to learn more before jumping to conclusions and apologized. If you’re genuinely willing to give us a chance, then as far as I’m concerned that’s the end of it,” declared Scootaloo.

Applejack sighed.

“Well, if ya feel that way, then Ah won’t make a big deal out of it...” she said before smirking.

“Although, now that Ah think about it, you’re talkin’ a lot more fancy than the Scootaloo Ah know would. Ya gettin’ any help with that speech?” she asked while tapping the side of her head.

Scootaloo facehooved.

I told you she’d notice, mom, she thought.

Darn. There goes my idea to outsource some of my presentations, grumbled Scootaloo’s mother.

We’d never have gone along with it anyway, mom, somepony called out.

At last, the CMC found themselves standing outside the Golden Oak Library.

“Welp, this is it. The big one,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Yep. The pony most likely to make our lives miserable,” added Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom sighed.

“Ya know, considerin’ how well everypony else has taken it so far, Ah’m startin’ to think we were overreactin’. And really, would Twilight Sparkle, the pony who’s friends with our sisters and is livin’ in Ponyville to learn about friendship, really be the type to dissect somepony?” she asked.

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle shared a look before sighing as well.

“OK, if you stop and think about it, the whole dissection thing really isn’t all that likely. I mean, aside from the fact that Twilight’s too nice to do something like that, your sisters and Rainbow Dash would tear her apart if she actually hurt us,” admitted Scootaloo.

“Yeah, it does seem kind of ridiculous. Hay, if I was being completely honest, I probably just started thinking that might happen because I didn’t want to tell anypony my secret, not just Twilight,” confessed Sweetie Belle.

“Right. So we have everthin’ to gain and nothin’ to worry about. Worse case scenario, we’ll have to deal with Twilight constantly buggin’ us for interviews or somethin’. You ready, girls?” asked Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle nodded, their fear greatly reduced, and Apple Bloom knocked on the door.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to Scootaloo.

“Wait a second… are we going to tell Spike? He is one of Applejack’s friends too,” she pointed out.

Her friends shared an uncertain look.

“Well, he could end up just overhearing us when we tell Twilight. Or Twilight might just explain it all to him anyway. So... I guess we should tell Spike about it,” said Sweetie Belle.

“Tell me about what?” asked Spike.

The CMC turned back toward the door, which was already open with Spike standing in the doorway.

“We really need to learn how to stop lettin’ this stuff slip,” grumbled Apple Bloom.

Twilight Sparkle looked over her notes as she took in what had been revealed to her. Her expression was calm, but it was apparent that the gears in her head were spinning like mad.

The same was true for Spike, though his expression was mostly of awe.

Finally, she gave a sigh and turned toward the fillies in front of her.

“Alright, first thing first, I have to admit I already knew about Scootaloo’s hive. After the wedding I asked Princess Celestia for more information about changelings and she let me on everything. I’ve actually signed up to be a part of the upcoming visit to your hive. That said, I didn’t know that you were a changeling, Scootaloo. I just knew that changelings were in Ponyville,” said Twilight.

Scootaloo tried not to groan at the fact that it was so obvious that Twilight would have gone to her mentor for info. The same mentor her Queen had directly confessed to. Of course she would already know this stuff.

“Dig the fangs, by the way,” commented Spike.

“If you wouldn’t mind, Scootaloo, I’d like to arrange a meeting with either you or some other changeling in town sometime before the royal visitation. I’d really like to see what I can learn about your culture before seeing it for myself at your hive,” said Twilight.

Scootaloo shrugged.

“I don’t see why not, but I can’t make any promises. Celestia knows my siblings are always busy,” said Scootaloo.

Busy doing things like sleeping, she thought angrily.

Hey! Came several cries of outrage.

Twilight turned to Sweetie Belle next.

“And I’m not sure what to make of your secret, Sweetie Belle. While this is undoubtedly a huge development in the field of robotics, I have no idea what that development is as I have almost no experience with advanced machinery,” she admitted.

“Wait, What? But you’re Twilight Sparkle! You’re the smartest and most well-read pony in Equestria. How can you not know about everything science related?” cried Sweetie Belle.

“Because science is a blanket term for hundreds of fields of study. And I’ve spent most of my life learning the sciences of magic theory and spell craft. Yes, I know a lot about physics, chemistry, and several other fields. I even took a class on multiversal comprehension. But robotics? I barely know more than Rainbow Dash. I could probably build something focused around magic, but that’s about it,” explained Twilight.

“But we’ve seen ya build some fancy doohickeys before. Remember that wing-power thingy?” Apple Bloom pointed out.

“And what about all those fancy machines in your basement?” asked Scootaloo.

Twilight just sighed.

“I know how to use that complicated machinery, but I only have a vague understanding of how they work, and no idea how to build them myself. And I built that anemometer by following an instruction book on how to build one. I understand Applejack wants you to get a proper examination, and I agree, but the truth is I’m far from qualified for such a thing,” said Twilight.

“She’s right you know. Should have seen her try to build her own coffee maker,” added Spike.

Twilight gave Spike an annoyed glare.

Sweetie Belle started shifting nervously. It was apparent that she was less than thrilled that she would have to share her secret with yet another pony.

Twilight noticed and sighed.

“That said, if you’re willing give me a day or two, I can place an order for some books from the royal archive and see if I can’t cross reference anything while giving you an evaluation. Mind you, it won’t be as thorough as…”

“YES! I mean, yes, I would really appreciate it if you did that,” said Sweetie Belle with a blush.

Twilight gave a soft smile. Everyone else tried not to giggle.

“Alright then, it’s decided. I’ll stop over to let you know I’m ready,” said Twilight.

“OK, now that that’s taken care of, I can ask the important questions,” said Spike before turning to Sweetie Belle.

“Can you shoot laser beams out of your eyes? Or fly with rocket powered hooves? Or solve really hard math problems in seconds? Or...” Spike asked in rapid succession.

Sweetie Belle just sighed.


And so, the day of revelations came to a close. Not counting each other or Scootaloo’s extended family, there were now seven ponies and a dragon that knew their secrets.

And yet, here they were, walking through town as if nothing had changed.

“You know, now that I think about it, it was kind of dumb for us to put off telling them for a week and a half.” commented Scootaloo.

“Though to be fair, most of the time was spent with mah cousin, so it wasn’t like we weren’t busy,” argued Apple Bloom.

“Now that it’s done and off our backs, what do we have to worry about now?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Well, I have that upcoming royal visit to my hive to worry about,” said Scootaloo.

“Oh yeah, that,” admitted Sweetie Belle.

The reminder that Scootaloo’s hive was going to have visitors gave Apple Bloom an idea.

“Speakin’ of which, do ya think we could pay a visit too? Ah’d like to learn more about ya bug ponies,” suggested Apple Bloom.

Sweetie Belle put a hoof to her mouth in thought, and agreed.

“Yeah. It sounds like it’d be really interesting,” she added.

Scootaloo stopped in her tracks and stared at her friends.

“Why the hay would you want see my hive? The royal visit is so they can see that we didn’t hide anything when we revealed ourselves to the princesses and answer any questions they might still have. It’s not some big fancy palace or anything. It’s a giant cave full of changelings,” said Scootaloo.

“Yeah, but you’re not a bunch of mindless monsters. I’d like to see how you made a giant cave into a home you’d want to live in,” explained Sweetie Belle.

“And why the hay not, Scootaloo? Ya scared we won’t like your family or somethin’?” asked Apple Bloom.

Scootaloo sighed.

“Look, it’s not that I’m against it, it’s just that I’m only a filly. Our hive isn’t exactly open to visitors your know. I can’t just run up to my mom and ask if she can give me permission to show you where it is or…

I approve and authorize it, after we have a few days to prepare, said Scootaloo’s mom.

“WHAT?!” Scootaloo cried out loud.

Her friends backed up and shared an uncertain look.

Why not? They’re your friends, and it’s not as if they can’t keep a secret. Besides, I think it would do us some good to have some guests at the hive before the royal visitation so we can discover any pitfalls that we might have not considered, explained Scootaloo’s mom.

Scootaloo sighed.

“Alright, fine. My mom just gave us permission. We’re visiting the hive,” announced Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle cheered.

They didn’t notice that somepony had been watching them, had overheard everything, and had started getting ideas.

That night, the Mane Six met up at Sugarcube corner for their card game night.

They had barely drawn their cards before the topic came up.

“So… about Sweetie Belle and her friends…” started Rarity as she looked at her cards.

“Yeah. Are we all in the know now? We all understand what they’re putting up with?” asked Rainbow, her sunglasses hiding her gaze.

“Yepperoni! And it’s about time, too. I was getting tired of having to hide it,” said Pinkie Pie as she glanced at the table.

Applejack sighed. Once again, she had a really poor hand, and was doing a lousy job at hiding it.

“Y’all see the cruel irony of it all, right?” she asked.

“All this time, going to such length to find their cutie marks, and now…” Fluttershy mumbled, trying to avoid eye contact.

Fluttershy was on a bit of a winning streak, and didn’t want to see any of her friends upset about it.

“And we don’t even know everything yet. My resources have only given me small hints toward Apple Bloom’s condition and Scootaloo’s family, and absolutely nothing for Sweetie Belle yet. There’s so much left to learn about all three of them, and some of it might not be pleasant. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s even possible to get all the answers,” added Twilight as she drew a card.

“Well, Fluttershy knows a lot about changelings, so we’ll be able to get some answers for Scoots at least,” Rainbow pointed out.

Twilight looked at Fluttershy in excitement, but quickly forced herself to calm down to avoid scaring her.

“I don’t know everything about changelings. There’s a lot of things private things the hive didn’t tell me. And I didn’t want to be a bother so I never asked,” admitted Fluttershy.

Everypony gave nods of understanding, though Twilight still looked very interested in hearing what Fluttershy knew.

“And even if we do find answers, that doesn't change the fact that the three of them are gonna have lots of problems down the line since they ain’t normal ponies,” Applejack pointed out.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that part,” said Pinkie as she happily slapped a card down.

Everypony turned to Pinkie in surprise at her statement. Also, how the hay had she gotten that card?

“Yeah, the three of them still have a ways to go, but they have each other, and they have us. And I can Pinkie Promise that I’m not going to let being a little robotish, undeadish, or changelingish bring any of them down,” Pinkie declared.

Pinkie's friends looked at each other, all agreeing that Pinkie was right, in her own special way. No matter what would come, the six of them would be there to help.

“Besides, I overheard them planning to visit the hive. It also gave me the idea to send a letter asking some of my lich friends to come visit. And with Twilight giving Sweetie Belle a check-up in a few days, it shouldn’t be too hard to get some answers,” said Pinkie.

The room fell silent again, before there were five cries of: