• Published 13th Sep 2014
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The Seventh Element - PaisleyPerson



Thestrals are thought extinct. But what will happen when one moves to Ponyville? Disguised as an earth pony, Acrylic does her best to fit in. Can she keep the secret, or will she expose her entire race?

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Chapter 25: Changelings Away

Chapter 25
Changelings Away

Celestia’s eyes grew wide with realization. So many connections were being made that she couldn’t comprehend them. I didn’t want to look back at my friends. The horror on their faces would be too much to bear. I just bit my lip and kept my eyes trained on the baffled changeling.

With Celestia stunned to shock and Cadence trying to revive her groom, I was left to face off with Chrysalis. I directed a stream of fire at the queen, but she recovered from her disbelief and extinguished it with green goop from her horn. When it recharged, directed at me, I waited until the last second to snap open my wings. The goo landed harmlessly on the floor where I’d been. I expertly maneuvered through the decorative columns to dodge the queen’s attacks and deliver a few of my own. Celestia had also recovered, and now joined in the fight. Even two against one could not match the queen.

An explosion from the center of the room ended it all. Cadence and Shining Armor had combined their strength, and their love, to recreate the repelling spell.

“NOOOOOOO!” Chrysalis wailed, thrown off balance. She was hurled out of the hall along with her changelings. Canterlot was free once more. Unfortunately, the spell had an effect on me as well. It was a weaker repelling, but I was still blasted to the wall.

I saw doubles when I again opened my eyes. One would have been more than enough. Celestia looked down on me. And she was very, very cross. I flattened my ears, and looked back as frightened as a filly. This was no act; I was scared out of my skin.

“Acrylic?” a timid voice squeaked. Unbelievably, Fluttershy was the first to speak up.

“I-is that really you, darling?” Rarity followed. The only one not shocked was Rainbow Dash, who hung her head in defeat. The secret was out, and I was at Celestia’s mercy. Spike wasn’t sure what to expect, and could only stand in the corner, petrified.

“It’s me,” I blinked bleary eyes. “The real me.”

“But... you never said anything before.”

“You lied to us!” Applejack thundered. “Ya flat out lied! How could ya do such a thing?”

“I’m sorry,” I wept.

“‘Sorry’ ain’t gonna cut it this time, Sugarcube. What else have ya not told us? Has anything you’ve said really been true?”

“Applejack,” Rainbow tried to soothe.

“Don’t you ‘Applejack’ me! And how come you ain’t cross with her like the rest of us?”

“Because I’ve already told her.”

“WHAT?!”

“But you’re a... thestral...” Twilight repeated.

“I know.”

“Thestrals are evil! You tricked us all!”

“I had to! I knew you’d react like this!” I screamed back. “This is why I never told anypony. Because you’d think of me as a criminal. But you didn’t think of the other Acrylic as a criminal, did you?”

“You lied!”

“I had to!” I squawked again. My body racked with sobs as I screamed my replies. “I had to.”

“So what were you after? Chrysalis wanted Equestria. Is that what you want? To rule us all?”

“What would I do with Equestria? I wanted friends. Real friends. Friends who wouldn’t think of me like this. Is that not enough for you?”

“Because the best way to get friends is by lying to ‘em, right?”

“Applejack, enough!”

I sniffled, regained my composure, and turned to the stern-faced Princess Celestia. "I acknowledge that I trespassed onto Equestrian soil, and that I'm now at your mercy. So pass your judgment, if you will." I knelt at her hooves, refusing to make eye contact. I felt her eyes boring into me for a good minute longer, but they finally turned on the silent audience.

"We will not let this... event change our plans. Everypony, please resume your duties. There's a real wedding to be put on. In the meantime, I don't want a word of this getting out. If you'll excuse us, I must have a word with Acrylic." By her tone of voice, I could tell that no such activity would be taking place. So the Princess was lying now? What was going on? I had no choice but to skulk along after her.

I was led down unfamiliar corridors. Celestia didn't speak a word, and I did not attempt to strike up a conversation. Even when it became evident where I was being led, I did not protest or try to resist. Only when the clanging of the prison cell locking into place rang through the dungeon did Celestia speak.

"This is only for the safety of my subjects," she assured.

"You needn't fear thestrals, Princess. We mean no harm." The Princess cocked her head.

"I will deal with you after the wedding," she promised. For the second time that day, even though this time it was for helping to save Canterlot, I was left alone in a prison.

I released a heavy hearted sigh, and looked back at the troublesome appendages sticking out from my back. They were more trouble than they were worth. Why couldn't anypony see past them? They were just wings, weren't they? I settled myself onto the uncomfortable cot, trying to remove my friends' horrified faces from my mind. Why did I ever think this would work? Now I'd lost the best friends I'd ever had, and caused even more heartache than Chrysalis had. Because while the real Cadence had been recovered, there was no earth pony Acrylic waiting to be rescued. This was the real me; there was no escaping that. Now my fate rested in Celestia's hooves.


Celestia returned to find everypony back to work, just as she'd requested. With a sigh of relief, she headed for their royal chambers to consult with Luna. Upon crossing the courtyard, however, she was confronted by Rainbow Dash.

"Where's Acrylic?" the pegasus asked. Celestia bowed her head, trying to come up with words to explain her decision.

"She is waiting to be interrogated by Luna and I," was all she finally came up with. It wasn't a complete lie.

"Interrogated? But she hasn't done anything wrong. You really are treating her like a criminal! In fact, she just helped to save Equestria, in case you hadn't noticed... your Highness.”

“I am aware, Rainbow Dash,” the Princess assured. “I am simply taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of my subjects.”

“Acrylic would never hurt anypony!”

“I know it is difficult for you to comprehend, but please try to understand,” the Princess begged. “This is not easy for me, either, but it is my royal duty.”

“So... what’s going to happen to her?”

“I don’t know yet,” she admitted. “Now please, let me consult with Luna.” The pegasus had no choice but to float aside, out of her way. The Princess plodded on, but the weight of her crown again weighed on her; this was evident to Rainbow and to any onlookers.

After the changeling incident, Luna was already waiting for a debriefing in Celestia’s chambers. She stood upon hearing the heavy doors slide open.

“I must congratulate you, Sister,” the moon princess began.

“Save your congratulations,” Celestia interrupted. “A new menace has arisen.”

“Have the changelings not been defeated?”

“The changelings are gone,” Celestia answered, “but a foe older than Queen Chrysalis herself has returned. One we thought extinct long ago.” Luna’s mind raced, searching for a nemesis that fit such a descriptions. “Thestrals still live.” Luna’s blood turned cold.

“But how is that possible?”

“I do not know, but they live among us even now. They have learned how to conceal their wings, and appear as mere earth ponies.”

“How have you learned of this?”

“One has revealed herself.” Celestia looked pained, and choked on the name.

“Who is it, sister? You must speak up,” Luna demanded.

“It is Acrylic.”

“From Ponyville? But that’s-” Luna stopped as she recalled the first day she had returned from exile. A celebration took place in Ponyville, but one left early. Acrylic had left. Then she recalled the mural on the side of Art Life, which depicted all sorts of ancient and mythical pony types. Acrylic had painted it. Luna tried to tell the story of the glorious defeat of the thestrals, but it had sent Acrylic away in tears. Twilight had helped her see the changes she needed to make in her conduct after a thousand years of isolation, and had assumed she had frightened the mare with her booming, demanding voice. But she ran because she was a thestral, and feared her. All along, that pony had deceived them. Luna sat rigid. “Where is she now?”

“In the dungeon,” Celestia mournfully answered. “She is waiting for interrogation, which I arranged for after the wedding.”

“Very well.” Luna’s jaw was clenched tight. She still couldn’t comprehend that Acrylic, one of Twilight’s closest friends, was a traitor. “I will send guards down to secure the cell.” The dungeons hadn’t been used in decades. The local police forces kept the criminal rate down to a minimum, and would use their own jails if a prisoner really needed to be held. Dungeons were reserved for those rare cases like Acrylic which concerned the royal sisters.

“As you wish, Sister.” Celestia turned to leave.

“Am I correct in assuming that this matter must be kept quiet?”

“Yes.”

“Then you may want to liven up, Sister, or morale will soon plummet.” Celestia paused, and allowed herself the indulgence of a small smile.

“You are right, Sister. Can I expect to see you at the wedding?”

“After today’s excitement? No, Sister. As much as I would like to attend, I must watch over the city.”

“As you wish.”

After Celestia had exited the room, Luna too stood to leave. However, rather than following the sun princess to the ballroom, she turned to the armory. As she had expected, most of the royal guard was returning to replace their weaponry or to end their shift. “Do not put away your weapons just yet,” she thundered, causing all of the soldiers to snap to attention. “Defiant Clash and Stronghold, please come with me.”

“Yes, your Highness,” they both recited, marching after her with practiced precision. The remaining guards took up arms once again, baffled at the request but not questioning it.

Alone in the hallway, Luna lead the guards to the dungeon. “I speak to you in confidence. Is this clear?”

“Yes, your Highness,” they repeated.

“Very well. I have an exclusive assignment for you both, in the dungeons. An ancient foe, a thestral, has returned to Equestria. She is currently being held in the dungeons. Your assignment is to make sure she stays there. Is this clear?”

“Yes, your Highness.”

“Good. And do not believe a word she says; she is a master of trickery, which I have experienced firsthoof. I will send Pumpkin Harvest down three times a day with her meals. Unless Princess Celestia or I tell you otherwise, she is not to receive any other visitors.”

“Yes, your Highness.”

“Alright, then. Your shift will end at midnight tonight. Then I will have Iron Maille and Golden Blitz come to relieve you.”

“Understood.” The trio had arrived in front of the said cell. Luna didn’t want to believe any of it, but the dragon-like wings hanging off the side of the cot were undeniable. She took a breath to steady her nerves as the guards gaped on, which caused Acrylic to flinch. Her ears flipped back to catch what was being said, but didn’t move any further. Luna couldn’t see her face, but something still felt wrong. Even completely exposed as she was, the mare didn’t look dangerous. Luna shook herself back to reality. Looks meant nothing.

“I’ll leave you to it, then.” She strode off, and the two guards positioned themselves on either side of the cell. Acrylic turned long enough to eye the two new sentries stationed outside her room. One cast a pitiful glance back.