Chapter 10: Fluttershy
Applejack couldn’t help but give a low whistle as she looked upon the live feed coming off the multiple scrying stones on the Castle's conference table showcasing major cities and settlements all across Equestria, all of which were displaying protests at best, full-out riots at worst, against the Solar Empire. “If Ah had any doubts ‘bout them ponies being alternate versions o’ us, Ah ain’t got any left now. Ah don’t know too many other ponies that can kick up a sense o’ rebellion in folks against a leader they don’t like like we can.”
“True enough,” Garble begrudgingly agreed. “Too bad we’re the ‘leader they don’t like.’ You do realize we’ll have to do something about this, right?”
“Willfulness spreads to anarchy, after all,” Queen Chrysalis declared. “We cannot allow it to spread!”
Gilda just scoffed. “Watch it, Queenie: considering what you and your subjects tried to do, uprising or not, you’re on some very thin ice right now, right Empress?”
The long, awkward silence that followed told Applejack that something was very wrong. “Uh, everything alright, Celestia?”
“No, it’s not!” The Solar Empress said with a growl from where she was seated. “I made those ponies safe, shielded them, but are they grateful? Do they appreciate my protection? NO! They whine, complain, side with those criminals!”
Here, Celestia stood up so quickly, some of the occupants of the room thought that they might’ve gotten whiplash. “If they prefer chaos, then we'll give them chaos - and not the mostly harmless variety Discord likes either.” she declared as Fluttershy and Scootaloo entered the room. “Ponyville and Canterlot: I'll flatten them, set an example...then, I'll find a way over to the dimension those duplicates came from: they'll burn for daring to interfere with my kingdom!”
Scootaloo shook her head, unable to believe what she was hearing. “Hold on: you...you're talking about destroying entire cities? Invading worlds in other dimensions?”
The Solar Empress simply growled in reply. “You have a problem with that, Scoots?”
Despite the dangerous tone with which the Empress had used with her nickname, Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah: I do. This isn't what I signed up for. This isn’t what Rainbow Dash would have wanted. It’s all crazy and going way too far.”
Queen Chrysalis shook his head in frustration. “Kid, not even I’m going to deny that your late friend deserved to be the Element of Loyalty, but take it from someling that knows: the citizens of Equestria are incapable of self-rule: they only do the things you want them to if you force them to.”
“Are you seriously going to take advice from her?!” Scootaloo growled off as she stepped forward, Fluttershy moving as if to follow her, only for Gilda to hold her back. “Even ignoring what she did to Cloudsdale, there need to be limits, even on us. Especially on us!”
“That’s ENOUGH!” Celestia yelled in response.
“You’re darn right it is!” Scootaloo remarked, not quite relaxing with those words, but nonetheless hoping she was getting through to her. “We can’t do this: Luna would’ve never…”
As it turned out, that had been the wrong thing to say, as the daredevil Pegasus soon found herself choking within the Empress’ telekinetic grip. Even still, she kept a defiant look on her face. “Rainbow Dash wasn’t afraid of you: why should I be?!” she declared, attempting to use her scooter as an improvised hammer...only for Celestia to reduce it to ashes.
“Let me show you.” And that was all the warning Scootaloo got before she found herself being burned alive. To the filly’s credit, though, she didn’t give the Alicorn the satisfaction of seeing her cry or hearing her scream out in pain, to which Celestia couldn’t help but be impressed by. “You truly were Rainbow’s sister. Such a shame that you choose to share her fate.” With that, she dropped the Pegasus’ body to the ground, which shattered like glass upon impact.
“Anycreature else have any objections?” Celestia couldn’t help but ask as she turned away from Scootaloo’s dead body. Needless to say, if any of them did, they were too afraid to voice them, to which she nodded. “Zecora, find Sunburst. I need the two of you to find a way to broadcast our next assault: I want everycreature to see this. Applejack and Garble, you’re with me. See if you can’t see where Rarity has run off to while you’re at it. Chrysalis, prepare your troops. Gilda and Fluttershy, get Tirek ready.” With those orders given, everycreature but Gilda, Fluttershy, and the Diamond Dogs, Rover, Fido, and Spot left the room, the Empress herself barely even acknowledging the filly that she had just cooked alive.
Once the Empress was gone, Gilda turned towards the Diamond Dogs. “Could...could you take her outside for us?” she asked, nodding to the remains of Rainbow’s honorary sister.
“Of course,” Rover declared with a nod as he and his fellow Diamond Dogs did their best to gather up the pieces of the late Pegasus, having had a soft side for the filly: she always brought them the best cuts of meat she could find and had given some pretty good belly rubs to boot. “Nice pony deserves to be buried, right?”
Fluttershy nodded as she paid her respects to the young filly. “I’ll see about getting you guys a steak later.” She had known about the relationship the gem lovers had had with the young filly and would see that she would do what she could to show them the same kindness Scootaloo had. It was the least she owed her: Rainbow had been her sister in all but blood too, after all.
Even still, as the Diamond Dogs took her outside to be buried, Fluttershy couldn’t help but shake her head in frustration. “She was right. This isn't what we signed up for.”
“We did our job: we eliminated crime.” Gilda said with a shrug, though the hollow tone her voice ran out with showed that even she wasn’t entirely convinced.
Needless to say, however, Fluttershy didn’t agree. “Scootaloo wasn't a criminal. Her only quote-unquote offense was having the courage to speak out when Celestia suggested destroying two entire cities and declaring war on another universe just because she got slightly humiliated.”
Gilda shook her head, knowing what the mare with whom she shared a friendship with the late Rainbow Dash was suggesting and not ready to lose anypony else. “She...she was a casualty of war: an acceptable loss.”
“Acceptable!? Gilda, Scootaloo was a child!” Fluttershy just shook her head, finally realizing what this war was turning them all into. “...I let myself believe that we were helping to make things better, but we’re not. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
“Do you have a death wish?!” Gilda yelled out as she grabbed the Pegasus’ shoulder. “There is no ‘done’ with the Empire!”
“Maybe not for you.” Fluttershy declared with quiet defiance. “Goodbye, Gilda.”
Something about those last two words made something snap inside the Gryphon, as evidenced by how she tackled the Pegasus out of the room with angry tears in her eyes. “You can’t leave, Flutters!” She yelled out. “I’m not ready to lose you too!”
Needless to say, the fight that followed was not easy. Gilda had always been the more aggressive and physically stronger of the two combatants, but her emotional state had made her even more of a dangerous opponent than usual. That said, Fluttershy had grown a lot since the Gryphon had arrived in Ponyville over five years ago, and what she lacked in strength, she made up for in sheer willpower, which she showcased beautifully by using her “Stare” to end the fight prematurely.
As she looked down upon her fallen friend, Fluttershy could only shake her head in frustration, a tear leaking from her eye as she did. “I understand your fear better than anypony, Gilda. I don’t want to leave, but I have to. It’s what Rainbow and Scoots would’ve wanted.”
Before Gilda could respond, however, a gasp was heard from within the room. “Hey, what Critter Pony doing with Pastry Gryphon?!” Prince Ruthorford yelled out. “Yak smash traitor Critter Pony!”
“Don’t try it, Ruthorford,” Fluttershy growled out as she got into a fighting stance.
It went without saying that Ruthorford was the stronger opponent, and with the way that he had all that hair in his face most of the time, Fluttershy wouldn’t be able to rely on “the Stare” to finish this fight. That said, if there was one thing she shared with her late rainbow-haired friend, it was the ability to think on her hooves. Using some old wrestling moves she had learned to corral some of her more… difficult animal friends for baths, massages, and such to full effect, the Element of Kindness was able to turn the Yak Prince’s own strength against him, before finishing the fight by exploiting some pressure points to knock him out cold.
Fluttershy shook her head as she took in the defeated Prince and by extension the Gryphon she had defeated earlier. “You know better than anycreature what will happen if Celestia gets her way.”
“Just...just go.” Gilda said with a defeated whimper, understanding now that she couldn’t change the once shy Pegasus’ mind even if she wanted to. “Go before I change my mind.”
Fluttershy merely nodded in response before she took off flying. As she was about to exit Canterlot, however, she noticed some of Chrysalis’ Changelings gathering around a spot in the distance. Knowing what was about to happen, and knowing that she’d never forgive herself if she had let it happen, she made a quick detour to see if she couldn’t interfere.
As it turned out, she had arrived just in time. “Those who are gathered here are the elite: the best and bravest soldiers the Empire has to offer,” Queen Chrysalis called out to a crowd before her, consisting of virtually every species that stood under The Empress’ control. “Yours is a noble mission: it requires you to transcend your individual species, and embody the highest principles of this great nation. Obedience, order, and control.” She then nodded as a few of her best soldiers brought forward some ponies and a few Changelings who were loyal to Twilight’s ally, King Thorax, to stand before her. “But those who defy the Empress’ commands shall be executed without qualm or hesitation.”
“And ponies used to accuse Rainbow of having an over-inflated ego,” Fluttershy called out with a roll of her eyes as she stepped into the light. “Now, I’m only going to ask you once: let them go or I’ll be forced to use my secret weapon.”
“Oh, no: she’s not referring to that, is she?” One of Chrysalis’ followers asked with a shudder.
“As Applejack would say, ‘Ya bet yer boots Ah am,’” Fluttershy said with a wicked grin, adding a mock-Southern accent to the bit at the end. Despite channeling some of her time as Celestia’s lapdog into this moment, she was determined to use her newfound assertiveness for the right reasons this time around. Nevertheless, however, she couldn’t help but hold back a giggle at her own impression of the farm pony. No wonder Rainbow used to enjoy imitating other ponies so much: it was fun!
Speaking of other ponies, those gathered around the Changeling Queen quickly realized how serious the Element of Kindness was being right now. “Let them go, Chrysalis: it’s not worth it!” one of the other Empire Loyalists called out.
“Ally or not, I don’t take orders from a pony like you,” Chrysalis declared with a scoff. “Go ahead, Fluttershy: let’s see this ‘secret weapon’ of yours.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Fluttershy said with a shrug before bringing her hoof to mouth and letting out a whistle. Everycreature held their breath as a large dark shadow approached the group.
“Ooh, you’re in trouble now, Chrysalis” one of Thorax’s Changelings called out with a strange mixture of fear and amusement. “Fluttershy just summoned the Demon!”
Now, normally Chrysalis would’ve scoffed at this declaration, but given that the once shy Pegasus before her had managed to befriend Discord, Draconequus spirit of Chaos, she couldn’t help but feel a touch of fear at this declaration. “‘The Demon’?!”
One of the ponies merely gave a nervous chuckle, already aware that the Changeling Queen had never seen Fluttershy’s most dastardly companion in action. “That’s right, and there it is!”
Needless to say, everycreature held its breath as the source of the shadow revealed itself...only for those not in the know to blink in confusion. “Soo, what: is it behind the bunny?” somecreature called out.
“It is the bunny!” somepony else cried out in fear. Sure enough, there, no more than a few feet away from them, stood the Element of Kindness’ faithful companion, Angel Bunny, better known throughout the Empire to friend and foe alike as “Fluttershy’s little Demon.”
Needless to say, however, not everycreature shared that said level of respect and fear. Case in point, Queen Chrysalis couldn’t help but let out an eye twitch as she processed this latest development. “Are...you...KIDDING ME?! This is ‘the Demon’ everycreature is so afraid of?!”
“I think I soiled my armor, I was so scared,” somecreature in the crowd who likewise wasn’t convinced called out, evidently not having been ashamed to admit it.
“That’s no ordinary rabbit!” one of those loyal to the Lunar Republic declared, having calmed down, if only a little, upon realizing that Fluttershy had switched sides. “That thing’s got a vicious streak a mile wide!”
“Ah, shut up!” A Gryphon who was loyal to the Empire remarked. “I’ll handle this. I’ve always wanted to try out that hasenpfeffer recipe my grandpappy gave me.” With that, he approached Fluttershy’s pet rabbit.
Okay folks: the following scene is far too violent and gory to show in this teen-rated story, so I have no choice but to skip it.
Oh, come on: you literally char-boiled Scootaloo earlier in the chapter and have the mature filter set up for this chapter on your Deviantart account. It can’t be that bad, can it?
Pinkie, the scene in question is based off of the rabbit scene from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, where we literally saw someone’s throat being torn out. Granted, Fluttershy likely isn’t willing to let things go that far, given how she’s switched sides and everything, but to quote the Genie from ‘Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar’, “You’d be surprised what you can live through.”
...touche. I’ll let you get back to the story then.
Thank you. Anyways…
Needless to say, the whole crowd was silent at what they had just witnessed. For some, said shock quickly turned to horror as Fluttershy gave Angel a nod to the Empire’s half of those gathered and gave one simple command: “Sic ‘em!”
Naturally, those loyal to the Empire only had one thing to say to that. “RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!”
Evidently, however, Chrysalis didn’t quite share the same level of fear as her followers, as evidenced by her simply facehoofing. “I knew I should’ve sprung for that Blessed Hoof Grenade deal when I had the chance.”
That said, as the Changeling Queen turned back towards Fluttershy, her face quickly morphed into a snarl. “Opposing the Empire now, are we? Poor timing, wouldn’t you say?”
“You’re right,” Fluttershy declared. “I should’ve started doing this five years ago.”
Now, normally Queen Chrysalis would’ve had the advantage. After all, she not only was on par with Celestia herself and the assistance of her hive at her beck and call, but they were literally surrounded by a few hundred of the Empire’s most loyal soldiers, all of whom were ready and willing to deal with any traitor they came across. That said, however, even if a good portion of them hadn’t been chased away by Angel Bunny and even if the once shy Pegasus didn’t have some assistance of the captured Lunar Republicans, the fact remained that this wasn’t Chrysalis’ hive: this was an expanse of wilderness, and where there is wilderness, there were animals, and wherever there were enough animals, when Fluttershy got serious - and she had never been more serious before in her life - she. Was. QUEEN!
Can I say it? PLEASE?
...sure, why not?
Yes! (clears her throat) RULES OF NATURE!~
(chuckles as Pinkie Pie continues to sing) Soo, yeah. Point is, this fight didn’t last as long as you might think. Anyways...
Fluttershy nodded to those loyal to the Republic, gestured to her fallen foe as she did. “Think you can hold her for me?”
“We’ll certainly do our best.” Lunar Spitfire, evidently being among the captured, declared with a nod, handing her a map as she did. “You’ll need this if you want to find the Republic’s base, but before you go, I just have one thing to say.” The (ex-?)Wonderbolt leader gave a smile as she looked upon the Element of Kindness. “It’s good to have you back, Flutters.”
“It’s good to be back, Spitfire,” Fluttershy said with 100% honesty before taking the map and flying off...only to fly back upon realizing that she should probably refrain from leaving Angel all by his lonesome.
Meanwhile, back in the Lunar Republic’s base of operations, Rainbow Dash nodded to herself as she looked at her reflection, which showcased her wearing her counterpart’s Wonderbolt outfit. “Nice to know we were the same size,” she felt the need to say out-loud.
A casual on-looker would likely ask, “Hey, why is she wearing her counterpart’s uniform?” Well, shortly after she and Twilight’s Lunar doppelganger had returned from their mission, they had run into Lightning Dust and Rarity’s counterpart with Apple Bloom - who was currently being freed from Twilight’s old healing bubble - in tow. A short confrontation and a few explanations later, Rainbow had decided that she needed to be properly equipped for if and when Rarity’s old allies showed up.
“Soarin really loved you, you know?” Rainbow declared to a photo that the stallion in question had been stored with the uniform she was currently wearing: one that showcased him and her counterpart, the latter of whom was holding a small filly in her arms - no doubt Storm Chaser as a baby - with a proud smile on her face. “He kept this with him this whole time because he knew that you wouldn’t want it buried with you: you worked hard for this uniform, so no way were you going to let anycreature burn it. I hope I find somepony to share that kind of love with someday...and if I end up having a kid of my own, I hope that she ends up being as good a kid as Storm’s turned out to be. You’d be proud of the pony she’s becoming: I know I am.” Her musing was cut short, however, by her ears picking up somepony approaching, and fast. Not wanting to take any chances, she quickly grabbed something from one of the pockets of “her” uniform.
Needless to say, Fluttershy had not been prepared for who she had run into upon entering the Lunar Republic’s base. “Oh my Faust: Rainbow Dash, is that you!?”
“In the flesh…” ...and that was all the warning Fluttershy got before she was forced to catch the projectile Rainbow had grabbed from her pocket earlier.
“I probably deserved that,” the alternate Element of Kindness allowed herself to admit. “Anyway, where’s Twilight? My Twilight?!”
Rainbow Dash merely growled in response as she took out another item out of her uniform’s pockets. “She's off somewhere not being a murderer.”
“Yeah, I probably deserved that too,” Fluttershy groaned out, before shaking her head upon noticing that Rainbow hadn’t lost her determined expression. “Oh, come on, Rainbow. You know I can match your speed if I'm properly motivated - maybe not exceed it, but still match it. You’re not going to hit me.”
“I wasn't trying to…” Rainbow Dash said with a smirk before ducking behind one of the lockers.
Unable to contain her curiosity, Fluttershy looked down at the item she had caught earlier...only for her eyes to widen in shock upon realizing that there was a timer with only two seconds left on it. As the flashbang grenade she had caught literally went off right in her face, Rainbow Dash got back up with a cocky smile. “You don't become the fastest flier in Equestria without learning how to think on your hooves…”
What followed was quite possibly the hardest fight Fluttershy had ever partook in. Not only was she still reeling from the flashbang when the battle started, but in a way, she was starring her own sins, Equestria’s sins, right in the face. After all, it was no accident that this war had killed off the bearer of the Element of Loyalty: everycreature who sided with the Solar Empress had all betrayed Twilight in one way or another, or worse, was never loyal to her, to either Princess, in the first place: Chrysalis had proven that much with her attack on Cloudsdale.
To say nothing about the fight in and of itself. Not only was Rainbow Dash a full-fledged Wonderbolt now, not only did she have access to all her Wonderbolt gear thanks to her late counterpart’s uniform, not only was she Fluttershy’s oldest friend and thus had a perfect counter for virtually everything the Element of Kindness could throw at her...well, that last part might have been part of the problem, really: Rainbow didn’t even recognize her as her oldest friend in that moment. All she saw was the pony who had betrayed her late counterpart and thus she was determined to give the mare in front of her the same amount of kindness Storm Chaser’s mother had received: absolutely none.
With all that said, as much as Fluttershy admitted that she probably deserved a beating, she didn’t come here to be tossed back out the door: she wasn’t leaving until she had earned her friend’s trust and forgiveness, until she’d proven to Rainbow, and herself, that she was still worthy of calling herself the Element of Kindness. With this in mind, she stopped treating this like an actual battle and more like the rough-housing that she and her Rainbow Dash had partook in as fillies back in Cloudsdale.
Needless to say, Rainbow had not been prepared for when Fluttershy purposely missed one of her pressure points in favor of tickling the spot where one of her wings connected to her shoulder. The Element of Loyalty, forgetting for a moment where she was, soon found herself locked in a laugh/tickle fest with the counterpart of her oldest friend...that was until the photo she had been looking at earlier managed to land right in front of them, freezing them both in their tracks. Needless to say, they both seemed to realize what had happened, by this point, neither of them felt like continuing either with the fight nor the rough-housing.
Fluttershy couldn’t help but shake her head in frustration and remorse as she looked upon the photo in question. “I remember when that photo was taken. Our Rainbow had flat-out said that she wasn’t going near the front lines now that she had a kid of her own to look after. Looking back, I should’ve realized that she hadn’t wanted me to be fighting in Celestia’s war, either.” She looked to the rainbow-haired Pegasus and carefully offered her hoof to the conflicted mare. “I know you have no reason to trust me, but PLEASE: give me a chance to prove myself to you...if not for me, then for the brash filly who offered a hoof in a gesture of friendship to a shy little Pegasus when she needed one the most.”
Rainbow looked at the hoof for a few moments before smiling. “First Rarity, and then you: all we need now is Applejack.”
“To get the Elements of Harmony back together in this world?”
Rainbow merely shrugged in response before foregoing Fluttershy’s offered hoof in favor of pulling the mare into a hug. “Well, yeah, that, but also, so that I can win the bet I've got going on with my Fluttershy. I'd rather avoid having to sit through dress-fitting duty courtesy of two versions of Rarity, you know?”
“You never did like being involved in anything too ‘fru-fru’, as it were,” Lunar Rarity said with a melancholy grin as she and Twilight entered the room before frowning as she looked to Lunar Fluttershy even as she broke off from her embrace with Rainbow. “I’m guessing that, while you aren’t up to anything ill-fitting of the Element of Kindness, you didn’t come here for a friendly visit.”
“Unfortunately no,” the formerly shy Pegasus declared. “I have some news for you and the others that you need to hear.”
“Well, let’s hear it then,” Twilight said with a nod as they left to find the others, before pausing and looking to the two former Empire loyalists. “But before that, Rarity, Fluttershy: it’s good to have you back..and this time, that is entirely accurate.”
To be continued