Little Consequences

by Skijarama

Liar's Promises

Thirty minutes passed in a tense, awkward silence, and Wind Whisper had not yet returned. Growing worried about the filly, and also eager to bring this news to Twilight and the rest, Spike had run out a few minutes ago to find them, leaving Starlight and Thorax on their own. She still had him pinned down to the floor with her magic, although as time went on, and she studied the look on his face more and more, some of the conviction and hatred she had been feeling earlier was starting to melt away. She was feeling an odd combination of sympathy and skepticism as time wore on, looking into those sorrowful eyes and hearing his shaky breaths. If he weren’t one of the creatures that tore Canterlot apart, she’d have asked him if he was okay.

But of course, he was one of those monsters.

His own cries had died down several minutes ago, and now he just stared long and vacantly up at the ceiling, a resigned, miserable expression on his face. His gaze briefly shifted to look at Starlight, but before either of them could say anything, he returned to studying the ceiling in excruciating detail.

Starlight was starting to fear that the silence would drag on forever. Finally, though, the doors to the library were slammed open, Rainbow Dash and Twilight sprinting in, Spike riding on the unicorn's back and all of the others galloping closely behind them. Rainbow came to a screeching halt at the top of the stairs and looked down on the scene with wide eyes. Once she saw Starlight, though, those eyes narrowed dramatically.

“Starlight, let him go!” She ordered harshly before snapping open her wings and leaping down to the ground floor. She gave her wings a few hard flaps to soften her landing before touching down and leveling a sharp glare at Starlight. “Now!”

She backed away a couple of steps, her eyes widening and her ears folding back. “What?! But he’s a changeling! One of the enemy!” she protested incredulously, gesturing at Thorax with a hoof. “Why should I let him go?!”

“Because I ordered you to!” Rainbow shot back impatiently, snapping her wings open and grinding her teeth together. “Now shut up and let him go!”

“Rainbow, calm down!” Twilight quickly interjected, sliding to a stop by Rainbow’s side and grabbing her by the shoulder. “This is a bad time to lose your temper! Wind is still missing, remember?”

Rainbow glanced over at Twilight and, after a second or two, visibly relaxed. She slowly folded up her wings and let out a tired sigh. “Right… sorry. Starlight, this changeling is an ally. We can trust him. Let him go,” she said again in a far more diplomatic tone before looking at Thorax. She winced when she saw his despondent appearance. “And you… Thorax, what happened?”

“Thorax?!” Applejack asked in disbelief, coming to a stop at the base of the stairs. She looked first at Thorax, then at Rainbow Dash. “How long have ya known this thing?!

Pinkie Pie pouted. “Aw, Applejack, that’s not very nice!” she whined, poking the farm mare in the shoulder with a hoof. “Just because he’s a horrifying shapeshifter doesn’t mean you have to call him a ‘thing.’ That’s just mean.”

Rarity looked sideways at Pinkie Pie, one of her eyebrows rising to be hidden by the curls of her mane. “And calling him a horrifying shapeshifter isn’t?” she questioned dryly, earning a sheepish chuckle from Pinkie.

“In answer to the question,” Twilight interrupted, shooting Applejack a harsh frown. “Rainbow and I have known him since before we left Ponyville, Applejack. I found out he was a changeling first when his disguise failed out of hunger. He approached Rainbow and I with Wind Whisper, hoping to give us some intel about the changelings and how they worked before moving on.”

Rarity cleared her throat and carefully spoke up. “I say this with love, Twilight, but are you sure that trusting him was a wise decision? What had he done to earn your trust at that point?” she asked carefully, briefly looking at Thorax’s fangs and cringing. “I know I would be more than a little… cautious.”

Twilight furrowed her brow. “So was I. But when his instincts were kicking in, he went out of his way to restrain himself so that he couldn’t hurt me. If nothing else, that gave me a reason to hear him out,” she spelled out plainly.

“I just wanted to protect her…” Thorax suddenly blurted out in solemn resignation. All eyes flew to him, and he returned their gaze with his own. “I wanted to take her as far away from the fighting as I could so that she’d be safe… I promised that I’d protect her until I could get her brother back.”

Starlight shot him a skeptical look, but a firm glare from Rainbow finally coerced her into letting go of her spell. As the light around her horn faded, so too did the bindings around all four of his hooves fade away, allowing him to slowly and sluggishly sit upright. He looked at all of them one at a time, then looked down at the floor in shame.

Rainbow visibly wilted upon seeing that, then she shook her head and focused. “Twi convinced him to stay with and help us instead of running away,” Rainbow continued on carefully. “I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I trust him. I haven’t seen him do anything to make me doubt him.”

A humorless chuckle came from the depressed changeling, and he momentarily looked up at them again. “Glad somepony thinks I’m not a monster…” Thorax mumbled dryly, plunging the room once again into silence. He looked back down at the floor, feeling all of those eyes boring into him. “...Even if you’re wrong.”

“Thorax…” Twilight whispered, looking towards Rainbow for a moment. She looked like she was remembering something unpleasant.

Everypony looked amongst themselves for several seconds, trying to figure out what to do. Eventually, Fluttershy become discontent to just watch, and drew closer to Thorax, not at all deterred by his frightening appearance. Once she reached his side, she settled down next to him. “Thorax?” she asked in a quiet whisper.

“Be careful Fluttershy,” Applejack cautioned, moving a little closer herself. “RD and Twi may trust ‘im, but Ah don’t.”

Fluttershy shot an appalled frown at Applejack. “How can you say that? Look at him!” she chastised with surprising volume and force before looking at him again. “How can you be scared of him…? He’s sad and scared…”

Thorax blinked and lifted his eyes to look into hers. For several long seconds, there was silence. Then, Fluttershy reached out a hoof towards Thorax’s face, moving as slowly as she could. He shied away from the hoof at first, but a gentle, soothing hum from Fluttershy made him relax. When her hoof touched his cheek, just below his eye, she felt the damp streak where his tears had been falling, and she let out a quiet gasp.

“Oh, you poor thing…” she whispered before reaching out and pulling him into a gentle hug. She felt her muscles tense and twitch in discomfort from the foreign feeling of his smooth, cold carapace, but she pushed through the unfamiliar sensations and held him close to her chest.

“Wha… Fluttershy?” Thorax asked weakly, taken off guard by the embrace. She slowly pulled back and looked into his eyes again, offering him a kind and gentle smile.

“It’s all gonna be okay… Thorax, right?” she questioned for clarification, to which he just nodded. With that, she again pulled him close, gently rubbing a hoof down the back of his head next to his fin. She closed her eyes and gave him a comforting squeeze. “It’s all gonna be okay, Thorax. I got you.”


“You don’t have to hold it in; I know. Go ahead. Cry. Let it all out. I won’t judge you.”

Everypony else, who had been watching with either curiosity or caution, collectively widened their eyes when Thorax screwed his eyes shut and hugged Fluttershy back, burying his face into her shoulder and letting out a loud, anguish-filled scream. Fluttershy pulled him closer and nuzzled comfortingly into the side of his head, then looked past the weeping drone at all of her friends, a question burning in her eyes.

“Are you still scared of him?”

Rainbow and Twilight who wore looks of surprise and sympathy, respectively. Applejack looked down at her hooves and lowered the brim of her hat a little to hide her face while Rarity just awkwardly looked at anything and everything else while fussing with her mane. Pinkie Pie had a tiny, gentle smile on her face while she sat on her haunches.

Several minutes ticked by in which Thorax just cried his eyes out with Fluttershy offering him whatever assurance she could, making soothing sounds, petting the back of his head and holding him close. Everyone else just watched, not willing to interrupt the moment. Finally, Thorax’s wails began to die down. First into quiet sobs, then puny whimpers, and finally shaky breaths. He slowly withdrew himself from Fluttershy’s embrace, offering her a crooked, thankful smile. “Th-thank you… Fluttershy,” he choked out in a still broken voice.

Fluttershy smiled in response. “You’re welcome, Thorax…”

“So, uh, I hate to be that guy…” Spike piped up tentatively, looking towards the still wide-open doors of the library again. “But Wind Whisper is still missing.”

The group all turned to look. “She doesn’t know the city,” Twilight commented grimly, biting her lip and folding her ears back. “She could be lost out there.”

“And none of us know this place very well either,” Rainbow groaned, running a hoof over her face in frustration. “Plus she’s just a little filly, and this is a big city! We’ll never find her out there!”

“I could try asking some of the local critters for their help,” Fluttershy suggested, still holding on to Thorax. “The birds could get an overhead view of the land.”

“Oh, oh!” Pinkie Pie, grateful for an opportunity to be useful, reached into her mane and withdrew a box of crayons and a stack of parchment. “I could draw up ‘missing pony’ posters and stick em up all over town!”

“Where did you get those?” Starlight asked, looking at Pinkie in pure bewilderment. Pinkie just shot her another one of those infuriating smirks.

“Haha, please.”

“All of you, stop,” Thorax said while shaking his head. He started to stand up, Fluttershy following him up, not quite willing to let him go yet. “I can find her,” he stated with what little resolve he could muster. Everypony turned to him curiously, making him shrink back and look down at the floor. “I… I know what she smells like. I can track her down a lot better than any of you.”

Rarity shuddered and cringed. “Her smell? Oh, no thank you,” she balked in a decidedly disgusted voice. “If Twilight and Rainbow trust you, then I do too, but please don’t come near me with those nostrils. it’s just creepy.”

Thorax sighed, dejected. He lightly brushed Fluttershy’s hooves off of him and offered her one more thankful nod and smile before starting for the door. “I won’t smell you Rarity…” he muttered, his gossamer wings spreading open. As he trotted by Twilight, his chitin-clad hooves clicking against the smooth floor of the library, he paused and looked over at her. Their gazes met, and he let out a withering sigh “You were right… I couldn’t hide who I was forever… I should have shown her who I was sooner.”

Rainbow’s brow furrowed, and she reached over to tap him on the shoulder, drawing his attention. “Hey, one of us should go with you,” she suggested. “There is no way she’ll take it well if it’s just you coming after her. One of us going with you might help her calm down.”

Thorax shook his head solemnly, continuing on his way for the door. “No… I need to do this myself. If she see’s somepony other than me, she might think you’re a changeling, too, and start panicking. Besides… it’s my fault she feels like this. It’s my job to set things right.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight pressed softly, reaching out to him. He nodded and shrugged her hoof off of his shoulder before looking back at all of them.

“I’m sure.”

Fluttershy stepped up again, a pleading look in her eyes. “Thorax?” she called after him, making him pause and look back at her. For a moment, she seemed unsure of what to say, but then she put on another small smile and nodded at him. “You can do it. You may not be related, but I know you care for her like she was your own little sister.”

Thorax tilted his head at Fluttershy, raising an eyebrow. “Huh? What makes you so sure about that?” he questioned curiously.

Fluttershy hid a little behind her mane. “Because, um, I've seen how you've been treating her. You've been so good to her, so kind and gentle, and I know that none of it was fake. If it were...” her smile grew and she peaked out a little more from behind her mane. "Then you wouldn't have been crying your eyes out like that."

Thorax seemed a little taken aback by Fluttershy’s comment, but gave a small nod all the same. With that, he was engulfed momentarily in green fire. When it faded away, he had assumed the form of a remarkably unremarkable pegasus stallion. With his disguise in place, he stepped through the doors and took off to look for the runaway little filly.

More than a few ponies had tried to stop Wind Whisper as she ran through the streets. When they heard her cries, they had called out to her, asking what was wrong. Some had even tried to catch or follow her. She had shot past all of them, ignoring their protests or requests for her to stop, just running as far and as fast as she possibly could. Her wings eventually began to burn from the exertion, and she was forced to come back down to the ground and run. Her landing, in her distraught state, was sloppy and uncoordinated, however. She lost her balance the instant her flailing hooves met the surface of the street, tripping onto her face and rolling along the ground for a surprising distance before she finally came to a rest face-down.

She hadn’t bothered to move from that spot since she got there, her face buried in her hooves and her cries never ceasing, even if they grew quieter. After a while, when nopony came to see if she was okay, she briefly lifted her head to take in her surroundings, tears still freely flowing down her cheeks and dripping off of her chin. She was in the back of an alleyway in an area that looked like it didn’t get a whole lot of traffic. The lack of background chatter made it clear that she was pretty far away from most of the crowds.

She sat up and wiped the back of her foreleg over her eyes, struggling to calm down her hysterical crying. It didn’t work, of course… how could she be calm at a time like this? Her brother was gone and she hadn’t even known it. She should have noticed that something was wrong, that ‘Squall’ was acting different! All this time, she’d been showing love and affection to a monster, love and affection meant for somepony else entirely. She felt sick to her stomach as she thought about that, and she shuddered uncontrollably. “I’m so stupid…” she whimpered, letting herself crumple back down into a lying position. “Some little sister I am… couldn’t even tell that he was gone… that it was a fake…”

She was alone. She had thought she wasn’t, thought that she had her big brother there to fight away all of the scary things. But it was all a front. A lie. Squall had been gone since before the battle in Canterlot. There was nopony there to make the world seem less scary now, to make her feel safe and protected when things got bad. Wind curled up into a ball, her cries growing even louder. It was slowly dawning on her just how far away from her family she was, and just how horrifyingly small and vulnerable she was out here.

“I’m so sorry.”

Wind gasped and scrambled to her hooves, looking around for the source of the voice. She found it at the entrance of the alleyway, looking back at her with a sorrowful expression. The changeling was sitting on his haunches, watching her with solemn eyes. Wind whimpered and backed up until she felt herself pushing up against the wall of a house. “S-s-somepony! Help me! There’s a monster!” she screamed, turning around and pounding on the wall.

There was no response. The house was unoccupied, and after several moments of continuing to beat on the wall and scream for help, Wind was forced to turn around and face the monster that had taken her big brother away. She found it strange, though. For a monster, he looked surprisingly sad…

When he lifted his eyes to look into hers, she could see tears rolling down his cheeks just as surely as they were running down hers. He slowly lowered himself down until he was lying flat on his belly and folded his wings as tightly against his sides as he could, trying to look as small as possible. “I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you, Wind…”

Wind sucked in a breath, narrowed her eyes and bared her fangs. “G-go away! Leave me alone!” she shouted at him, but her words carried no force. The changeling just sighed and looked down, his own ears falling down as well.

“...My name is Thorax,” he said just loud enough for her to hear. She hesitated somewhat, then looked around the alley. She found a half-empty dumpster and sprinted over to it. Hyperventilating, she pulled the lid off with her hooves and threw it at Thorax, though her small body could not muster enough strength to actually hit him with it. It clattered to the ground a few feet away, the loud metallic sound echoing loudly in the claustrophobic alley.

“GO AWAY!” she screamed again, louder this time. She reached into the dumpster and pulled out a discarded, broken glass cup. She hurled it at him, and it bounced off of his head with a loud clang. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“I can’t do that…” Thorax replied solemnly, not even trying to defend himself as Wind just kept throwing stuff at him. An empty box of candies, a half-eaten fruit, a deflating ball, and many other pieces of junk were lobbed at him, and he weathered them all without complaint. When she ran out of things to throw, Wid let out a frustrated scream, her eyes locking on Thorax.

“WHY NOT?!” She shrieked, anger starting to boil in place of her fear or sorrow. She strutted right up to Thorax and grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him heavily. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?! Why can’t you just go back to wherever you came from!?”

Thorax slowly lifted his gaze to meet hers, and when she again saw the pain in his face, she stopped shaking him. “Because…” Thorax began in a quiet whisper, never looking away. “I made a promise that until I could save your brother and get you back to him, I would look after you for him.”

“But you’re the one who took him away!” Wind snapped, shaking him again. “Why do you want to save him?!”

“Taking your brother away from you was the biggest mistake of my entire life,” Thorax replied solemnly, closing his eyes and sighing. “I thought I had no choice… I was afraid of what would happen to me if I didn't. I thought that I would be punished, that I’d have my life taken away from me… I was a coward and a fool… and I can never put into words how much I regret what I’ve done to you and your family…”

“Th-then bring him back!” Wind barked, her voice starting to break with emotion again. “If you’re so sorry, bring him back! Bring him back so I don’t have to look at you anymore!” her volume increased to that of a full-voiced scream before she broke down again, falling forward and burying her face into his shoulder, crying hysterically.

Thorax went to wrap a hoof around her, but thought better of it and put the limb back down. “I’m trying, Wind… I just need some more time to get a good opportunity, okay?”

“Why can’t you do it now?” she raged through her tears, shoving off of him and trotting away, turning her back to him and refusing to look in his direction. “You’re one of them! Can’t you just walk in?”

Thorax shook his head. “No, I can’t… I’m a traitor to the changelings, Wind. The others would capture me and… do unspeakable things to me before I got anywhere near where your brother is being held,” he explained regretfully, looking down at the ground. “So until a good opportunity for me to sneak in comes up, all I can do is keep my promise and protect you.”

Wind snorted and shook her head, her hysteria slowly dying back down. “...Y-you’re a liar…” she choked out, looking farther away from him and closing her eyes. “How can I trust you? You’ve been lying to me since I met you…”

Thorax looked into the back of her head for several seconds, his eyes shifting with contemplation. He let another heavy sigh slip past his lips, and slowly sat up. “You’re right… I am a liar. I lied to my own kind about what I was doing so I could go get you, and I’ve been lying to you about who I am this entire time… It just comes with being a changeling, I guess…” he shook his head. “But Wind?”

She opened her eyes just a little and looked over her shoulder at him, part of her face hidden by her now messy mane. “W-what…?”

Thorax slowly lifted a hoof to his chest, as if he were swearing a solemn oath, and looked directly into the one of her eyes he could see. “I may be a liar, but if I only ever get to keep one promise that I make, let it be this one: I promise you, Wind Whisper, I will get your big brother back, and I will bring him back to you. And as soon as you two are together again, you... y-you will never have to see me again. I’ll... I’ll leave and n-never ever show my face to you again… and you can h-hate me all you want, and I w-won’t blame you. You can move with your l-life, knowing that… that you w-were right… I’m a liar and a monster...” his voice was cracking with emotion, and fresh tears were forming in his eyes. A lot of the intensity and contempt in Wind’s expression began to melt away as he spoke. “B-but until then, I’m going to do what I promised your brother and keep you s-safe…”

Wind looked down at the ground, her eyes shifting with indecision. She sniffled again before turning to look at Thorax directly. Her eyes drifted past him, however, and a fearful shriek tore itself out of her lungs and she quickly backed away. Alarmed, Thorax shot to his hooves and turned around to see what had caused the thestral filly’s reaction. His eyes widened in shock at what he found. “What the?! Pharynx?!”

Sure enough, the purple-eyed drone stood at the entrance of the alleyway, his eyes narrowed and his teeth showing in a vicious snarl. “Hello… Thorax."