• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 7,661 Views, 342 Comments

Alienation - Longtooth



I am not Twilight Sparkle. We share one body, one past, but not our souls. I do not know why I am here, or why I have done these terrible things. This is my story.

  • ...
21
 342
 7,661

Slice Of Life

They weren't going to leave me alone, I'm not naive enough to believe that they would ever leave me alone. I'd gotten a fortnight's respite, but that was it. Now it was back to the land of friendship reports and near-weekly disasters. My resolution to hide the situation from Twilight's friends was, surprisingly, just as strong as the night I had decided on it. That meant that I would have to spend my time pretending to be Twilight for the benefit of a bunch of mares, half of whom I didn't even like.

My first morning back in Ponyville, that meant making the rounds. I got up several hours later than Twilight would have, made myself a simple breakfast of fruits and toast and absolutely nothing made with batter. Then I packed a saddlebag with all the things I'd need to construct a teleportation circle, as well as a few other items to keep me occupied, and headed out.

My first stop was Sugarcube Corner, because I had to run into Pinkie at some point and I thought it was better to get it out of the way as soon as possible. The sweet shop was bustling as I got there, a line stretching out the door as ponies picked up their snacks and treats. I'm not the most patient of mares, but since Twilight wouldn't have jumped the queue then I wasn't going to either. I busied myself with sketching out a design for a weapon I could use in a place like that last hideout I had raided. It was a kind of spinning blade that I could tie closely to my telekinesis, useful without being too draining. I needed a magical anchor to make it work, but I already had a few ideas of how I could accomplish it.

I was so absorbed in my work that I completely missed when I got to the front of the line. Another unfortunate trait I share with Twilight Sparkle. My attention was thoroughly gotten when Pinkie decided to interject herself between me and my notebook.

"Whatcha doing?" she chirped.

I snapped the book shut. "Considering the feasibility of bonded telekinetics in a low-energy environment," I replied. It was a truthful answer, but technical enough that it was not likely to get me into trouble later.

"Cool!" Pinkie said. "Are you also considering one of our delicious cupcakes or maybe another of our many delectable dishes of delicate desserts?"

I got the hint. "I was hoping for a bag of cookies, actually," I said. "How are you doing, Pinkie?"

"Oh, you know, working the sugary bellows of the pastry economy," she replied in what I assume was a facetious answer as she relayed the order to the kitchen. "Did you have good dreams last night?"

I don't really dream much in general, and I hadn't that night, but I wasn't going to get into it with Pinkie. "As good as they get," I told her.

She grinned. I felt some of her saccharine energy invading my system. I don't know how the Cakes can stand being around her all the time. "Are you gonna come to my party tonight?"

"Nope."

"Aww, come on, Twilight!" she whined, flopping on the counter like an irritated cat. "It's your party for coming back from Canterlot! I can't throw a party for you coming back from Canterlot if you're not there to show that you actually came back from Canterlot!"

"I've got a lot of catching up to do with my studies," I lied. "I'm sorry, Pinkie, but we'll have to schedule my coming back party for some other time."

"How about tomorrow!" she suggested with a perky flip that set her back on her hooves.

"How about instead of a big party we just all get together for an extra-special picnic?" I replied.

She tapped her chin as she thought about that for a long moment. "Well... So long as it's some sort of occasion."

I sighed, knowing that there was no chance of getting her to make it a quiet affair. "Why don't we make it a community thing?" I offered, hoping to direct her party-obsessed mind down a path I could predict. "Get Cheerilee to let the children out for it and have a big potluck lunch for Ponyville."

Her eyes widened and I almost felt bad at how easy it was to manipulate her. Almost. The levers of her personality were so obvious they were practically screaming for somepony to use them. "Twilight!" she gasped. "That's an amazing idea! I gotta go!" And with that she was gone.

"What about my cookies?" I asked, frowning after the pink streak that led past the surprised ponies in the line and out the door.

"Oh, don't worry," Mrs. Cake said, setting my asked-for bag of cookies on the counter. "We're always ready in case she takes off like that. Have you paid yet?"

I shrugged, then tossed a couple bits to her. "If I haven't, I have now. Thanks." I took my cookies and walked away.

"See you at the party!" Mrs Cake trilled after me. I cringed, realizing that now I'd actually have to attend. Of course, a party in the middle of the day would be far, far better than something at night. I had things to do at night, ponies to kill.

My next stop was Rarity's. I hefted the cookies in front of me and walked into the Carousel Boutique, my entrance announced by the jingle of the bell above her door. The interior was as clean and colorful as usual, but showing the signs that one of Rarity's inspiration bursts had happened recently. There were bolts of cloth stacked in haphazard pyramids, and bits of ribbon and glitter littered the floor. A chest was open, displaying several trays of gemstones gleaming like the thief-bait they were. It was a good thing Rarity's fashion sense outweighed her business sense, or she'd have flooded the market with jewels long ago.

Looking at the gems actually gave me an idea, and out came my notebook again. Gems can hold magic, though crystals are better. A gemstone of the proper type could serve as a magical anchor that would be difficult to interfere with. Of course, I'd need to find a very specific kind of jewel that would resonate properly with my own magic, and then have the proper cut and solidity to withstand the energies I'd force through it. Not many lived up to those specifications, and I wasn't studied enough in minerology to know right away wich one would serve.

"Twilight, darling!" Rarity cried upon spying me. "How wonderful to see you today!"

I snapped the notebook shut, but not before making a final notation. I didn't know much about gems, but Rarity was quite versed in their properties, if only to know which ones would work best with what kind of dress. It shouldn't be too hard to get her assistance. Well, not too hard theoretically, the real difficulty would come in standing her presence for the amount of time it would take to get what I needed from her.

"Rarity, good to see you too," I said, plastering a smile on my face. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"From you, dear, it's never an interruption," she said. As blatant a lie as I've ever heard, spoken with just the right amount of conviction to let me know that she didn't mean it literally, but did mean the sentiment behind it. I couldn't tell how much of that was artifice and how much was skilled politeness. "What brings you by today?"

"A couple things, actually," I replied, walking further into her shop and taking a look at the various dresses and bits of clothing she had on display. It was all very elegant, I'll give her that. Far too busy for my tastes, though. Like dressing up in a fancy tent. "First off, I'm checking up with all my friends, making sure they know I'm alright." That was true enough, I didn't want them getting worried and starting to pry into what I was going to be doing at night.

Rarity smiled and walked over to give me a soft hug. "Thank you, Twilight. I was worried."

"Well, no need to be worried about me," I said, extricating myself from the hug. "I also need your advice."

"Oh? Whatever for?"

"When I was in Canterlot I got interested in enchantments," I began, only for Rarity to dramatically throw her head back in an exasperated moan.

"Twilight!" she snapped. "You were supposed to be relaxing, not studying!"

"I was relaxing," I protested. "Studying can be relaxing."

"Twilight..."

"Look, I know Pinkie talked to Vinyl, and I'd bet good money that Pinkie told you and the others all about it. You know I wasn't just studying."

Rarity considered this for a moment. "Well, I suppose. I do apologize, Twilight, I was jumping to conclusions. Do go on."

"Right," I had to take a moment to collect myself and remember what I had been asking her. "Enchantments. I'm looking for a gem that can act as a solid magic anchor for me."

Rarity frowned at that. "Wouldn't a crystal be better, Twilight? You can grow them to your purposes, after all."

I shook my head. "I need something more resilient than a grown crystal, less prone to cracking or shattering."

She hummed in thought. "I might have a few ideas for you, how much magic will it need to take?"

"As much as I can put into it."

She snorted. "I'm sorry, dear, but that just doesn't exist. Except the Elements of Harmony, and I can tell you right now they aren't really gems in the first place. You're simply too powerful."

"Alright, how about something as close as I can get?"

"Something that can handle a lot of your particular magic? I know of a couple gems that might work, but we won't know which ones will be most effective until we test them out. Matching them to your colors is going to be quite a challenge, too."

"My colors?"

"Of course, darling!" she said with an infuriating titter. "We must consider the aesthetics of the resulting magical gemstone. It won't do to have your anchor clash horribly with your magic."

"Of... course not," I said, and searched for a way out. "I don't suppose you have any of these gems on hoof, do you?"

"Oh, my no. I'm sorry, Twilight, but anything that has a hope of keeping up with you is going to be quite rare. And very expensive if I'm not lucky enough to find them locally."

"I can pay," I said. "Could you start looking soon?"

"For you, darling, I'll start today! But if you don't mind me asking, what kind of magic do you need an anchor like this for?"

"An experiment in acute telekinetic control in a magic-starved environment," I replied with as much truth as possible.

Her eyes glazed over by the fourth word. "Ah, I see. Well, good luck, Twilight. I'll let you know if I manage to find anything useful!"

"Thank you, Rarity," I replied, and beat a hasty retreat from her presence.

In all honesty, that conversation went quite well with her. Perhaps I was becoming less disgusted by her false outward persona, or perhaps I had become more able to stand such things after my time in Canterlot, but she didn't grate on me quite so harshly. She still grated, mind, just not to the point where I wanted to do terrible violence to her.

I wanted to visit Rainbow Dash next, a pleasant contrast to the ponies I'd gone to first, but she wasn't in town, and none of the pegasi that I talked to knew where she was. So, with heavy hooves I made my way to Fluttershy's cottage. It's not that I didn't like Fluttershy, per se, it's more that she is incredibly tiring to be around.

I occupied myself during the walk with more work in my notebook. I began designing the blade I would create, working out the tolerances I'd need, the shape and sharpness of it. It couldn't be something that a pony could catch, so there could be no dull edges. That required a circular shape, but I also wanted it to be used for piercing attacks when necessary. I eventually settled on a curving swirl shape with two points extending in opposite directions from a thicker middle section that could house the anchor gem.

Fluttershy was out caring for the many, many animals that called her home their own. She smiled and waved as I arrived, but didn't rush over to me immediately, instead finishing what she had been doing before flitting my way.

I will admit some jealousy at the grace of pegasi in the air. My costume lets me 'fly' in a rudimentary manner, but since it basically runs on telekinetics it's all about direct movement. Powerful, but hardly graceful. If I was still capable of the wings spell, I might spend some time refining it so that I could have a pair of proper wings. The energy draw and response time could certainly be an improvement over my current capabilities.

Ah, right. I'm rambling again. Back to Fluttershy.

She landed in front of me, clearly happy that I was there but also unsure of herself. I don’t know what she wanted to do or say, probably give me another hug or something, but she was just so uneasy with herself that she couldn’t follow through with the impulse. Twilight was uptight, but I think it’s Fluttershy who really needs to unclench.

“Hi, Fluttershy, how are you doing today?” I asked, grin set in place and what I hoped was the right level of softness to keep her from locking up.

“Oh, um, I’m pretty good, I guess,” she said, kicking at the dirt. “How are… how are you?”

“I’m great,” I said. “Happy to see all my friends again!”

“Oh, um, that’s good. It’s just…”

Of course she would trail off like that. “Just what?”

“Just… um. Nothing.”

I wasn’t going to let her get away with that, even though it would have probably made my life much easier. “Come on, Fluttershy, you know you can tell me anything, right?”

“Oh, yes!” she eagerly agreed, nodding with graceful vigor. “I know that, Twilight.”

“So why don’t you tell me what’s bugging you?”

“Oh, um…” She mumbled something unintelligible.

“Fluttershy,” I said with all the assertive authority I could muster. “Spit it out.”

“Your smile!” she squeaked. I was taken aback, unable to respond. She seemed encouraged by this silence. “You’re just, um, smiling in a way, that’s, um, well, not good.”

At which point I came to the realization that I can’t fake a smile worth a damn. The harder I try, the more I look like Twilight at her most neurotic. I did some tests with a mirror later that night and, well, it’s a scary sight.

I sighed and dropped the grin. “Trying too hard?” I asked her.

Fluttershy nodded. “Much too hard, that looked like it hurt.” I laughed at that, a harsh chuckle. “Are you really okay, Twilight? If I can tell you anything, you know you can do the same with me, right?”

Ah, the spirit of kindness itself. If only. Yet there are some burdens that I can still share. “It’s hard, Fluttershy. Hard to be back in Ponyville, to act like everything’s okay and that nothing has changed.”

She stepped close, nuzzling me with a quick dip of her head. It’s surprising how effective such a small gesture can be. “You don’t have to pretend, Twilight. Not for us.”

“I do,” I said. “Trust me, you do not want to know some of the things that go through my head.”

“Nothing can be that bad,” Fluttershy said. Beautiful and beautifully naive, as always. I didn’t disabuse her of that notion, but I didn’t tell her any more of my problems, either. I spent about an hour with her, helping with her animals and chatting about the things I’d missed in Ponyville while I was gone. I left her house feeling both lighter than I had left it, and emotionally drained. She’s just so… paradoxically weak. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around her, like she’s some fragile doll that could shatter at the slightest pressure. Yet she insists on taking on the burdens of others, and has proved that her back is strong enough to bear them. Her own worst enemy. Very difficult to deal with.

I ventured to Sweet Apple Acres next, and it was late enough in the day that Applejack was done working in the orchards and doing the chores that kept her closer to home. I found her drawing water for the various animals that populated her various barns. Which they seemed to have a new one of every few weeks. I don’t know what keeps happening to the old ones. No, scratch that, I do. They get Cutie-Mark Crusadered. Or they die in one of Ponyville’s many disasters. Which, come to think of it, could easily include the Crusaders. So there you go.

“Howdy, Twi!” Applejack called out as I came up the road. “Great idea about that town picnic! I’m lookin’ forward to it!”

That gave me pause. “You know about the picnic?”

“First stop for Pinkie,” she said in explanation. “Gonna need a lot of food for a picnic that big.”

“I was thinking it’d be more of a pot-luck thing,” I said.

“Well, looks like Sweet Apple Acres is in luck, then!” Applejack laughed. “‘Cause we’ll be catering a table or two.”

“Bet I’m paying for that, too,” I grumbled under my breath. “Thanks, Pinkie. As if my royal expense reports won’t be bad enough this month.” I shook off the thought. I had much bigger things to care about than paying for a picnic. Considering everything else Celestia was willing to hoof the bill for, I doubt this would worry her. “I’m glad you’re happy with it. How have you been doing, otherwise?”

“Otherwise?” Applejack repeated, raising an eyebrow in some question that I didn’t get. “I’m doin’ mighty fine. More curious how you’re settlin’ back in, though. Throwin’ big parties just ain’t like you.”

“It was a spur of the moment thing,” I admitted. “I wasn’t planning on it until I was right in front of Pinkie Pie. I probably panicked.”

“Eyup, I’ve done that myself,” she said. “But that ain’t answerin’ my question.”

Direct, astute. No artifice or dissembling. Rarity’s polar opposite, and a joy to work with. A genuine smile touched my lips. “No. I guess not. I’m having a tough time, honestly. I hope it’ll get easier after a few days, but…”

Applejack nodded in understanding. “Well, you need anythin’, anythin’ at all, you just ask, ya hear?”

“I hear,” I said. “Actually, do you happen to know where Rainbow Dash is? I’m trying to see all my friends today, but nopony knows where she is.”

“She’s out by Whitetail Woods,” Applejack said. “Dealin’ with some kinda weird weather emergency.”

The best news I’d heard yet. I perked up immediately. “Thanks, AJ. I’ll see you at the picnic.”

“Yes you will,” she replied, waving goodbye. “And remember, Twilight, anythin’ you need, I’m here.”

“I will,” I promised her, and left for the Whitetail Woods.