The Demon's Angel

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 17: Blinders Lifted

Chapter 17: Blinders Lifted

I landed outside of Sweet Apple Acres with Dash in my arms, feeling very upset with the crowd that had harassed me the entire way out of Canterlot. After all, I couldn't very well take flight with all of the pegasi that were swarming the air, so I ended up having to take the train out of Canterlot...which took a while.

I ended up arriving at Sweet Apple Acres at around midday, which meant it had been almost seven hours since we had left and come back. Dash had slept the entire way, which I was happy with because she needed the sleep. I mean I love her to death, but she tends to push herself way too hard when it comes to training. Then again, I'm not trying to be a Wonderbolt, so I guess I don't really know what she feels like in that respect.

"Well howdy, Koa!" shouted a familiar voice from the fields in front of me.

I broke from my thoughts and looked to the orange earth pony with a smile. "Howdy, AJ. How has work been?"

The mare bucked a tree and shrugged. "It's harvestin' season, so it's hard work. Ah could use yer help if ya have a minute."

I lay Rainbow Dash on the grass by the fence and walked over to Applejack. "Sure, what do you need?"

The mare wiped some sweat from her brow and took a deep breath before exhaling. "Well Big Mac went 'n hurt 'imself pullin' that ol' rusty plow, so we need someone ta finish plowin'. Ah tried ta do it, but Ah'm not strong enough ta pull that thing."

"Why don't you get a new plow?" I asked curiously.

"We saved fer one, but won't be able ta buy it 'til next month." she responded with a sigh.

I shrugged. "Sure, I'll lend a hand. Just tell me what you need me to do."

"Thanks." she said gratefully with a smile. AJ then pointed to the already plowed parts. "Ah need ya ta follow tha lines Big Mac already left. Just start from where he started until you've covered," she gestured to wide open plot of land, "all of this. With as strong as ya are, it shouldn't take ya too long."

I grinned. "I can be even this." I focused on changing my form again, and now that I knew how it worked, the change took place quickly. I found myself feeling more drained, but the explosive increase in both strength and size was more than worth it. I'd deal with the crash later...for now AJ needed my help.

"Wow...y'all weren't kiddin'." AJ remarked with a grin. "Well, that'll help ya get done faster Ah guess. Jus' don't break nothin'."

I opened my eyes and smiled. "Gotcha, AJ. I'll be done in a little bit." I then wrapped my tail around the harness for the plow and began pulling, finding that while the plow did move, I could also feel it catch and drag a bit more than it should have. Oh well...I suppose I now know how the crimson stallion hurt himself pulling this thing.

Time passed quickly and before I knew it a few hours had already already gone by, and the sun was well on it's way towards the horizon. I was nearly finished with plowing when Applejack and Rainbow Dash arrived beside me with a pie and an entire pitcher of grape juice, which I couldn't help but smile at. I'd seen how hard it was for the earth pony to make grape juice, but when she heard that it was in fact my favorite, she made sure to get me plenty for my troubles.

Celestia bless that mare.

I reverted to my smaller form upon finishing and downed both the pie and grape juice in one bite and gulp, then stifled a belch and nodded. "Thanks, girls. That was just what I needed after today."

"Is that all you need?" Dash asked, clearly with an agenda behind that question.

I grinned back. "Well I could use something else, but that something isn't something that somepony named Applejack could give me. She's saving that for Fluttershy." The mentioned earth pony blushed hotly while the cyan pegasus burst out into laughter. I pointed at AJ and fist-pumped with my other hand. "Yes, I got you to blush! Success!"

The farmer mare rolled her eyes with a grin. "Jus' because Ah'm a workin' mare don' mean Ah'm not still a mare."

"I don't know AJ, you can be a pretty big tom-colt sometimes." Dash replied with a smirk.

"Yer one ta talk, sugarcube. R'member when that Prince Blueblood guy thought y'all were a colt?" Applejack responded with a grin, causing the rainbow-maned pegasus to gasp and blush.

"Th-that doesn't count!" she yelled. "He was a jerk to begin with. You saw how he treated Rarity!"

AJ shrugged with a roll of her eyes. "Ah guess yer raht. Ah'll let ya have that one."

"Oh, hello girls!" said a soft voice from behind me, which caused me to jump and yelp in surprise. This in turn caused the owner of the voice to squeak in surprise and hide behind Applejack.

I looked to see a familiar pale yellow pegasus, and placed my hand on my chest in an effort to calm my pounding heart. "By Celestia Fluttershy, we need to put a bell on you or something." I caught my breath and kneeled with my arms outstretched. "Sorry about that. It's good to see you."

Once she had composed herself, the meek pegasus trotted over and pulled me into a tight embrace. "It's so good to see you, Koa."

I squeezed the mare tightly before releasing her with a grin. "Likewise, Fluttershy. Anyway, it's good that you're here, as Dash has something she needs to tell the two of you."

The two mares looked at Rainbow Dash and she nodded as she nervously ran her hoof through her mane. "'s kinda weird too, so please don't freak out or anything." Dash took a deep breath and looked at her two friends. "Girls, how long does it feel like we've known each other?"

"Oh my, forever Rainbow Dash. You're my best friend." Fluttershy responded softly with a loving smile.

"Is there somethin' wrong sugarcube?" AJ asked suspiciously.

The rainbow-maned mare shook her head and sat down. "No, nothing's really wrong, just weird. Please...just please don't freak out like I did, okay?"

"And more importantly, you can't tell anypony about this, okay?" I added.

The two mares nodded and Rainbow Dash looked to her two friends again. "Alright...what would you say if I told you that this isn't the first time we've been friends?"

Applejack raised her eyebrow and took her hat off. "Ah'm not sure what yer tryin' ta say, RD."

I took it over from there, to explain from what we both knew. "Well, when Rainbow Dash was sent to my world, she was actually traveling into the past...not to a different world." I stomped my foot on the ground. "This world is and was my world...and we've all met before."

The farm mare eyed me with suspicion for a moment before her eyes widened. "Ah-Ah don't know what's goin' on."

"A-Applejack, w-what do you m-m-mean?" Fluttershy asked extremely nervously.

The orange earth pony just stared at me in shock. "He ain't lyin', sugarcube."

I glared at AJ and stooped down low so that I could look her in the eye. "I don't know what makes you think I'd lie about something like this, AJ. That hurts."

Applejack shook her head furiously. "No Koa, I didn't mean it that way. It's just..." She was silent for a moment. "Y'all realize this sounds crazier than a bear ridin' a unicycle while playin' the Equestrian anthem on a banjo, raht?"

I nodded. "I do realize that. I thought something similar when Princess Luna first told me, as did Dash. It's insane, but if you want validation, I can ask Luna tonight."

AJ shook her head with a resolute expression. "Naw, it's alraht. It's crazy, but y'all ain't lyin', so it's gotta be true."

I looked to the pale yellow pegasus, only to see her staring off into space. "You alright over there Fluttershy?"

The timid pegasus simply muttered, "Dalila..." She then looked up at me with a blank stare. "That was my name, wasn't it?"

Dash nodded and went to stand in front of her friend. "Yep. You were always one of my best friends, even back then." She then looked to the farm mare. "What about you, AJ?"

The orange pony stood still for a moment with her eyes closed, her face scrunched up in thought before her eyes opened softly. "Somers...mah name was Jaquelin Somers." AJ looked to me with watery eyes and forced out, "How long has it been?"

"Somewhere in the ballpark of twenty-five thousand years." I responded softly.

"Mah word..." Applejack muttered.

I nodded. "Wanna hear something even crazier?" The earth pony and yellow pegasus looked at me expectantly. "I've been in a relationship with Rainbow Dash, Luna, and Scootaloo over all these years. In fact, I was once the King of Equestria."

"Y-you were married to Princess Luna?" Fluttershy asked shyly.

I nodded. "Yep. It was a long, long time ago, but I was indeed. I was also married to Rainbow Dash's past self back on Earth. Her name was Kayla then."

The previously silent yellow pegasus smiled before embracing her cyan friend. "I remember you, Dashie!" She hopped a few times in happiness before releasing the pegasus mare. "You used to live in umm...California, right? We all did!"

I chuckled and nodded. "Wanna hear another crazy part?" The two mares nodded once again, and I smiled. I gestured with my hand to the surrounding area. "This entire area used to be home. I find it kind of ironic that we all ended up here again."

For the next few hours, we spent time catching up with past lives and friendships. As my past memories awakened, I realized that I had in fact known Fluttershy before, but I didn't remember Applejack. Probably because she moved to home from a different part of the country.

I found it also ironic that Fluttershy had indeed gone to veterinary school as a human, which I guess made sense with how good she was with animals. We'd had classes together in college when I was younger, and I distinctly remember her being every bit as timid and gentle as she was now.

I guess that even with new life, who we are doesn't change too much.

The two mares took the news surprisingly well, at least better than Dash and I had taken it. They were still a little shocked to say the least, but were quickly assimilating the new information. It was strange to meet old friends like this. On the one hand, I was meeting them for the first time. On the other, my ancient memory told me this was not the case. It was something I was still getting used to, as I had an episode of deja vu nearly every day. I figured that this must be what Celestia and Luna felt like most times, so I simply shrugged the feeling off.

As the day began to come to a close, I waved goodbye to Fluttershy and Applejack and flew home with Rainbow Dash. The late afternoon sun was just about to touch the horizon, with added a beautiful shade of warm orange to the sunset.

As we both landed at my house, we sat down and watched the sun set and the moon and stars rise. It was romantic to say the least, and I was happy that I got to spend it with Rainbow Dash.

"It's beautiful, isn't it? I always love the sunset." Dash whispered as she leaned against me.

I chuckled. "Careful Dashie, you're getting a little sappy there."

The mare shoved me with a giggle and a smile. "I'm going to call you 'Captain Mood-killer' from now on."

I shrugged and looked away with a grin. "I prefer 'King of the Bedroom', actually." This caused Rainbow Dash to blush, and I smirked mischievously. "You know...Scootaloo won't be back for another few hours..."

The cyan pegasus' competitive streak came on full force as she grinned. "Race you to the bedroom."

Spitfire's PoV

I sighed as I watched the sunset, another day behind me and another night ahead. For as long as I'd been alive, I'd always been amazed by the amount of skill that the two princesses put into the day and night for us. I mean, while Princess Celestia did a wonderful job of both, there was just something more powerful and beautiful about the night when Princess Luna created it. The twilight of dawn or dusk always gave me the extra boost of energy I needed to get my work done, and tonight would be no different.

Luckily for me, tonight would be quiet. I had forms to complete as well as different edicts to approve or disapprove regarding our team, and while I wasn't crazy about it, I was pleased to have a night to myself for once in such a long time. Sure, it was work, but it was mindless work that didn't require physically exerting myself for once. As most pegasus did, I loved to fly...

But a mare's gotta have a break every once in awhile.

I had a radio in the corner softly playing some background music while I went over the many reports, forms, and news that covered my desk. A certain song called "Wings of Eternity" came on, and it made me think of another time and place...a place with...

'No...not going there.'

I sighed and closed my eyes as I rubbed the bridge of my nose, only to be brought to attention by a small knocking at the door frame that led to my office.

I looked up to see a familiar blue pegasus stallion standing there with a smile on his face. I smiled back and motioned him in with a grin. "The door's open, Soarin. You don't have to knock. That's kinda the point of the door being open."

The young stallion chuckled as he trotted in and sat down beside me. "I just always have to make sure, boss."

I rolled my eyes and placed the stack of papers to the side. "Rapidfire and Fleetfoot aren't here, you don't have to call me 'boss' anymore."

He shrugged as he pulled a bottle of red wine out from his saddlebag, along with two glasses. "I know, I just like messing with you is all."

I watched as Soarin began to pour two glasses of wine, and then took one and sipped it slowly. "You know, that mare in Ponyville is lucky to have you. If you're doing this for me, I can only imagine what you do for her."

The blue stallion popped the cork back in the bottle before nodding. "And she makes great awesome is that? I mean not as good as the Apples', but still great."

"The perfect mare for you, Speedy." I responded with a warm grin.

"So," he started, taking a sip of his wine, "how did it go today?"

I shrugged. "He took the bait. We'll see what he's got tomorrow."

"No, you'll see what he's got. There's no way I'm getting up before the sun comes up." Soarin responded with a smirk. I stuck my bottom lip out in a pout and he just laughed. "Now you see, if I didn't know you, that totally would have worked on me. I think we both know that you and 'cute' just don't go well together."

I sighed and nodded. " 'cute' phase seems like it was a lifetime ago. Next thing you know, I'm going to start sprouting gray hairs."

"Careful," he answered with a smug grin, "I think I see a few already."

I glared at him. "Easy there colt, or you can find out what it's like to be pink for a month."

He glared right back. "You wouldn't..."

I chuckled and shrugged. "Well I do have a unicorn that owes me a favor, so..."

His stern gaze was held for a moment before he burst into laughter, the kind that seems to cleanse the very soul. After a few minutes, he caught his breath and smiled at me. "I've missed this, Sparky. It seems like we never have time to just hang anymore."

I sighed and nodded. "Comes with the job, Soarin. Hopefully soon we'll have some new recruits to take the load off though." I shuffled through the papers before pulling out a report on a certain cyan pegasus. "Like this Rainbow Dash..."

"You've had a hard-on for that mare ever since the Young Flier's Competition. What's so special about her?" Soarin asked curiously.

I raised an eyebrow and passed the file to him. "You mean besides the fact that she is the only pony in known history to have pulled off a sonic rainboom? Or maybe it's the fact that she saved me, you, and Misty Fly all at the age of seventeen? Oh wait, I know what it's the fact that she has more potential than any pegasus I've ever seen."

The blue stallion looked over the file quickly before setting it back down on my desk. "She's a little rough around the edges..."

"So were you." I responded flatly. "She just needs some refining and she could literally be the best there has ever been."

Soarin raised his eyebrow at me. "Better than you?"

I grinned and nodded. "Better than I could ever dream of being...I mean, she's already faster than me. Her wings are strong enough to make her more agile than you are, and her body looks like it was carved by Celestia herself. She could easily take center stage if she were in the performing squad, and from what I heard, she's no slouch when it comes to fighting either. She's the Element of Loyalty as well as the manager of Ponyville's weather team. What's not to like about her?"

"Sounds like you've already made up your mind, Spitz." the friendly stallion quipped.

I sighed and sat back in the comfy chair. "I became the Captain when I was twenty, and I've been doing this for the last decade now. I have to know what to look for in order to do my job right...and she's what I've been looking for all these years. She can take the Wonderbolts to the next level, Soarin."

It hurt me that I couldn't reveal everything to him. There was in fact another reason why it had to be her, but he couldn't know why...not yet. The princesses had trusted me with some of their deepest secrets, and with that honor came the need to distance myself from everypony else.

Soarin had been my friend ever since I was a filly in flight school...and it hurt to have to keep things from him.

I still remember the day I first met him at the Cloudsdale Academy. I was a young filly, just barely learning to fly and with no confidence in myself, and he was the hotshot prodigy from Manehatten. The coaches were walking down the line where we had formed up, and were going about pointing out anything that might be wrong – whether it be ruffled feathers, a messy mane or tail, or in my case, the lack of a cutie mark. All three of the coaches that were there that day had stopped at me with at the very least, a disapproving glance...and as the day went on, I felt smaller and smaller under their critical eyes.

Flashback – twenty-three years ago...

I feel like such a foal after all that criticizing, but that meathead Soarin showing off is just making it worse. Of course I just had to get partnered up with him for training.

Great...just great...

I sat there as inspection continued and just mentally cursed myself for getting stuck with Mr. Popular. I mean, of all the things that could screw up training, that had to be the one that happened. I just figured that perhaps this time, I might get a break in life...but I guess it just wasn't in the cards.

Princess Celestia must hate me...

"Alright new-bloods, listen up!" shouted a large stallion that was one of the coaches. "You and your partner are going to have to run through the entire obstacle course ten times. You are to do it together, and you are to help your partner. If your partner starts to struggle, you help them. If they lose, you lose. Got it?"

We all recited a "yes sir" and he nodded, then blew a whistle.

I looked to my unwanted partner and sighed. "Alright, let's do this."

The young colt eyed me with curiosity for a moment, but didn't speak. He just nodded, and we were off.

Like I had expected, he was remarkably agile and skilled when it came to flying, which meant that most of the time he spent going slow enough so that I could keep up. Somewhere deep inside, I knew it wasn't his fault, as it was the rules...but him doing it made me feel like he was pitying me, and I began to detest him within just four laps around the course.

By lap seven, I was completely spent. My wings were screaming for rest, and my heart and lungs felt like they were about to fall out of my body. Normally I would have been fine, but my pride wouldn't allow myself to fall behind this Soarin colt. No...I pushed myself to keep up with him the entire way, and was now paying for it.

"Are you okay?" Soarin asked as he floated effortlessly next to me.

I growled and responded, "I'm fine. Just don't get in my way."

I could feel his gaze linger on me as we flew towards the start line for another lap. "You don't look fine. We should stop and rest for a few seconds so that you don't hurt yourself."

I gritted my teeth again and flew off with a burst of speed, leaving the confused colt behind. As I flew though, my vision began to tunnel until I lost feeling in my wings and the entire world went dark.

I woke up feeling really groggy and in a lot of pain, only to open my eyes and see white walls, a white ceiling, and white sheets that I was laying on. This confused me for a moment until I shot up at the realization of where I was...

A hospital.

I was deathly afraid of needles and hospitals in general, so to be stuck in one was not going to work for me.

"Oh, you're awake." said a gentle voice from beside me.

I looked towards where the voice had come from to see literally the last pony I'd expected to be there, other than my father...

It was Soarin.

He smiled warmly and stood. "I was worried you wouldn't wake up for a little while there."

I felt a little dizzy, so I lay back on the bed. "What happened?"

"You were pushing yourself too hard, and your body just gave out." he responded flatly. "Maybe if you weren't trying to show off..."

"I was not showing off!" I yelled, instantly regretting it as my head started pounding in pain.

I looked to see the colt smirking, and he just nodded. "Yeah...sure."

I grumbled and turned on my side to face him. "Why are you here anyway?"

He smiled again, that same inviting smile that he always gave, but this one was different somehow. "Who do you think caught you when you fell?" I gasped, and he just nodded. "We're partners...I couldn't just leave you behind."

"Well I'm fine you can leave." I replied coldly.

This seemed to strike a nerve, as he instantly stood and grit his teeth. "What the hay is your problem? I saved you, I've tried to be nice, and I even stuck around when no one showed up for you. What is your deal?"

"You are!" I yelled in anger, again regretting it when the headache flared. I lay back on the bed and glared at him with one open eye. "You're my problem. Mister hotshot flier from Manehattan, come to show the newbies how it's done, right? Well I don't need your help."

"Is that what this is about?" he asked with frustration, and I nodded without hesitation. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before planting his hooves on my bedside and pulling himself up so that he could look at me. "Well let me give you some insight little filly: I never wanted to be 'Soarin the prodigy'. I just want to be Soarin...nothing more, nothing less. When anypony finds out that my father was the legendary hero Shadowsong, everypony always gets weird around me." He then glared back at me. "Contrary to what ponies like you think, I don't like that attention. I just want to be a normal pegasus with my own path in life."

"You could have fooled me with the way you were soaking up all that praise." I retorted angrily.

He sighed and looked away. "What am I supposed to do about it? No matter what I do, I'll always be the son of Shadowsong. I'll always be expected to take after his hoofsteps, regardless of what I want." Soarin's green eyes locked onto mine, and in them I could see pain and sadness. "Do you have any idea what it's like to be forced to be something you don't want to be? If I wanted to be...I don't know, a Wonderbolt...I'd be letting down not only my entire family, but also most of Cloudsdale. Now you tell me how much of an awesome life I have."

With that confession, I began to see the colt in a new light. No longer was he the arrogant meathead that was always trying to best me...instead, he was a prisoner of his own life. As I thought about it, it was so unfair of me to just judge him like I had, without even getting to know the guy first. Very suddenly, I found myself feeling pretty dirty.

As the colt sat there with his eyes closed in grief, I slowly reached over and placed my hoof on his shoulder, causing him to look up at me. I offered him a friendly smile. "Soarin, I'm sorry...I shouldn't have treated you like that. I didn't know."

"No pony does." he responded sadly. "No pony cares. Most of them are just like you are – they see me and immediately judge me for what everypony wants me to be. No pony cares what I'm really like, or what I want in my life. Ever since dad died, it's always been that way."

I nodded sadly, but rubbed his shoulder gently. "At least your father was a war hero. Mine is just a weather manager."

"Just a weather manager?" he asked, and I nodded. He scoffed as his eyes met mine. "Okay, let me explain something to you: weather managers have one of the most difficult careers in Equestria. It's dangerous, it's stressful, and a lot of times, it takes over their personal life. The truly great ones do it for a reason protect ponies." He looked past me out the window, into the night sky. "Without ponies like your dad, there would be a lot of ponies in danger because of a rogue storm, or food shortages because rain wasn't put where it was needed." This time, he placed his hoof on mine with a gentle smile. "Your dad is what my father used to call an 'unsung hero'. Your dad is one of the ponies that make life easier for everypony else, and you should be proud of him for that."

Here was this colt I had literally just met, reorganizing the way I saw my entire world. Because of him, I was now seeing my dad in a much different perspective than I had. Here was a colt that was misunderstood and just a pegasus in a gilded cage. Where once I despised him, I found myself feeling sorry for him. He was pony really cared what he wanted. I know I didn't...I just started judging him right away.

Well that was going to change.

I took his hoof from my shoulder and held it in both of my own hooves with a smile. "I'm's nice to finally meet you, Soarin."

End Flashback

As my trip down memory lane ended, I noticed Soarin looking through Rainbow Dash's file as he sipped the last of his wine. He had chosen to live his own life instead of that of a soldier, and because of that had risked losing not only the respect of his fellow pegasi, but also his family. During the whole schpiel, I remember quoting an ancient philosopher named Dr. Seuss:

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter...and those who matter don't mind."

Upon making his choice to become a Wonderbolt with me, his family deserted him, save for his little sister. He lost a great amount of respect with the pegasi of Cloudsdale, but I stuck by him the entire time. He was my first real friend, and has been my very best friend through everything. I felt I could tell him anything and that he would give me an honest answer as to his opinion on anything.

This was why keeping the truth from him felt so wrong.

I finished writing my recommendation on the last of the forms from the night and stood with a yawn, looking to the stallion that had kept me company – both tonight, and for the last twenty years. "Come on Soarin, let's get out of here. I've got to get some rest so that I can meet Storm Rider at his house in the morning, and you probably need sleep as well."

Soarin placed the file back on my desk and stood, placing his empty wine glass and the bottle on my desk. "Sure...I'll fly you home."