Steel Spirit

by Masterweaver

Finalized Compilation

Sweetie Belle looked at her leg.

"I think.... I think it might be time."

"Time for what, darling?"

"...Time to talk to Twilight about this." Sweetie Belle swallowed. "Time to see if... she knows anything."

Rarity paused in the middle of her sketch, levitating her pencil to a nearby desk. "Sweetie Belle... if you're uncomfortable in any way with this decision, it is entirely okay to give it a longer period of consideration."

"I am, but... I don't know. It feels like if I don't do this now, I won't ever be able to. I can't explain it, I just... I feel that I have to do this."

"Alright." Rarity took a slow breath. "I'll be with you every step of the way, of course."

Sweetie Belle nodded, her thoughts still wrapped tightly around her own fears. She couldn't shake the feeling that what she was doing was... wrong somehow. And yet, she knew she had to do it. She just... knew, somehow.

Was this what it was like to get a cutie mark? To discover her special talent? This sudden certainty that something had to happen, and that she was going to be the one to make it happen?

The filly shook her head, focusing back on the moment. If she let her mind wander, she might lose her confidence... or something. Actually, she couldn't help being nervous even now.

"Um... Rarity?"


"Can... Can we get the rest of the Crusaders to come with us?"

Rarity nodded with a gentle smile. "That sounds like an excellent idea."


"So, uh." Apple Bloom cleared her throat. "How are ya going ta break this ta Twilight?"

Sweetie Belle shrugged. "Basically the same way I did to you, I think. I haven't figured out any other way to do it."

"Riiiiiiight." Scootaloo took a breath. "And you want us to... what?"

"Just... be there, you know. If I need somebody to hide behind."

"You won't need to hide behind anyone," Rarity assured her. "If Twilight gets a little overeager, I'll hold her back."

Sweetie Belle smiled thankfully. "I know. I've just... been avoiding this for so long, it's... become a big thing, you know?"

"And that's why we're all gonna make sure it goes as good as it can," Apple Bloom assured her. "What're friends for, after all?"

"Yeah, that's right! Crusaders to the end." Scootaloo grinned widely. "We're going to get you a cutie mark, no matter what."

"Yeah, well. Thanks." Sweetie Belle took a deep breath as the library tree came into sight. "Well, here we go."

The final few steps were, perhaps, the most difficult she had ever taken. It wasn't as though there was any risk to her, she knew that... and yet, she knew, after this her life would be changed forevermore. Not that it hadn't already, what with discovering the truth beneath her skin, but this... this was more permanent. An outright statement, instead of merely being an acceptance of what was.

To one of her mentor figures, even. One who had serious clout, both politically and personally.

Sweetie Belle's hoof paused, inches from the door handle.

"Okay, see, this is the part where you have a big internal debate with yourself because you're afraid everything will go horribly, and to us it looks like you're just standing there, but then at the last minute Spike opens the door or something and you can't think of a good enough excuse to run away and so you go in and get all awkward and terrified and blah, blah blah." Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Come on, Sweetie Belle, can we not go through this cliche?"

Apple Bloom shot her a glare. "Ya don't have ta be so insensitive."

"I'm the 'it's no big deal you're overblowing it' friend."


"Look, Rarity's already got supportive sister covered, and you've got the 'it's actually amazing even though I won't come out and say it' side of things all locked down, being the casually accepting type is basically the only role left here."

Rarity rolled her eyes. "You don't have to force yourself to be constrained to a specific role."

"Well, no, but..." Scootaloo paused. "I dunno. I just feel like... this is where I'm going to be going anyway."

Sweetie Belle let out a small chuckle. "You are completely ridiculous... but yeah, let's skip the cliche, like you said."

With one final deep breath, she swung the door open.


Dear Princess Celestia...

It's been a while since I've sent one of these, hasn't it? I suppose I should preface this by saying it is both one of my old fashioned friendship reports and, well, a matter of some political significance. The two are intertwined inextricably, and in fact originate from one central event. Even now... even now I am still trying to grasp the implications, but I feel that they are somewhat beside the point.

First of all, today I learned that sometimes ponies have deep, personal facts about themselves that can change how you look at them. And that it can be hard to reveal these facts even to friends or family, especially if they are afraid that they will be treated with less respect once the truth is known. Being told something like that is a sign of deep trust, and it can be terrifying to do so. But a true friend will always assess you not for what you are, but who you are. Your personality, your sense of identity. Even if you are different than the assumed norm, your friends will remain no matter what. They will support you, and help you when you decide to reveal yourself to others that might be a bit more surprised.

And if a friend reveals something deeply personal, you shouldn't act as though you must know everything. Some questions are okay, but they are not a new font of information. You should treat them with respect, that they were brave enough to talk about it with you, and keep your curiosity to something reasonable. And whatever else you do, you should always ask permission to talk about their secrets with others; violating their trust is not something to be done lightly.

Which, unfortunately, brings us to the political side of this letter. As you might have gathered, a particular individual brought a particular piece of information to me, after some deep personal questioning and discussion with their family. I will admit my initial reaction was a touch overeager--new information is something I am, of course, always interested in. However, after they calmed me down and told me what they were willing, I was left to think about the implications of their particular secret and, unfortunately, I can come to no other conclusion then that it must be a matter of national import.

I am not even dictating this to Spike. These matters are serious enough that I must imprint them personally to the parchment. That said, I have promised said individual that, no matter what your reaction might be, I will protect them from harm or relocation derived from Canterlot. I know this might mean that we are set up in opposition, if you deem this sort of knowledge worth acting on, but I am afraid that I cannot break my promise--it is what finally convinced the individual in question to allow this letter, which I am also allowing them to read before I send. Please, princess, do not force my hoof in this; I assure you that the person is harmless, even if the events surrounding them are not.

Today, Sweetie Belle, the younger sister of Rarity, revealed to me that she is not organic; she is artificial, a constructed and almost indistinguishable replica of a pony, who is unaware of both her origins and her purpose. I know enough about the field of robotics to realize this is beyond our capabilities as a world, excluding perhaps some interference by precursors. The point remains, however, that for what could well have been her whole life, Sweetie Belle walked among our race and believed herself to be one of us. Her biggest worry, after being discovered and dismantled by some mad scientist, is that she will outlive her friends; she is also unsure if her origin will prevent her getting a cutie mark.

The simple fact of the matter is, whatever else Sweetie Belle might be, she is still just a filly. I cannot in good conscience recommend a course of action that would separate her from her friends and family. I recognize that her artificial origin must result in some monitoring, if only for the safety of the nation. I will take full responsibility for such a program, should it be necessary. I am already planning to gather her medical records to form a preliminary basis for research. But, again, I will not allow her forced relocation or invasive experimentation.

As the head of the Equestrian government, I believe you have the final say in what our reaction to this revelation should be. I send this letter in hopes that your response is tempered by wisdom, compassion, and the best intent for both this pony and all of ponykind.

Your faithful former student,
Twilight Sparkle.

Celestia put the letter down on her desk, staring at the wall for a few minutes.

"...and another lost riddle crops up once again." She gave a long, slow sigh. "Luna's going to have a conniption. I just hope we can figure out what's going on this time..."


"So. Here you are."

"Here I am."

"And you intend to warn them."

"...I do."

"Do you know how many rules you're violating? No, not even that--you are risking the sanctity of their society for the sake of a single drone!"

"I've already told you why mass drone termination is not a viable--"

"Don't lie to me, brother! I can see it in your helm, you are not using your mind to justify this decision!"

" cannot deny the reasoning I have offered."

"You could have waited for the captain to read your argument and approve your plan--"

"Could I? Would he?"

"...You know if you do this, you will have no support. You'll be labeled a traitor."

"I am aware."

"It might not even help. The keem'Potriitch are closing in. Even should you arrive before they, what could the Equestrians do?"

"You've seen the reports. They have a few surprises."

"Not enough."

"...will you stop me, brother?"


"...I thank you."

"Don't. This madness, this break of trust.... This is the last gift I grant."

"Brother, I--"

"From this moment forth, we are no longer brothers."

"...I see. Nevertheless... I wish you fortune. Goodbye."