• 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 7: Secret's Out

Chapter 7
Secret’s Out

Rainbow practically screamed as I braced my hooves on her cloud and shoved it farther and farther from town. When I thought we were far enough from civilization, I topped, leaving us dangling over the forest.

“Y-You! You’re-”

“A thestral? Yes.”

“And you-”

“Saved you from breaking a wing last night? Yes.”

“But you-”

“Didn’t say anything? I know.”

“But why? Why lie to everypony?” Her voice came out in frightened, confused gasps. My eyes were pained, and this time I didn’t hide it.

“Look at what the book says, Rainbow. Look at how we’re remembered.” Her rose colored eyes flicked to the open pages of the book, then back to me. I painfully nodded, and she crawled back to it. Trembling, she began to read the passage.

“Before the time of the tyrant Discord, ponies lived in peace. Pegasi, earth ponies, unicorns and thestrals all shared the bountiful land of Equestria. The powerful magic keeping the balance had begun to take root in the form of a young sapling, the magical Tree of Harmony. It kept the balance between these four types of ponies so that none became greater than the other. The thestrals had been living in the dark, cramped forests for hundreds of years, but when they saw the beautiful farmland earth ponies worked, the open skies pegasi patrolled and the plentiful resources controlled by the unicorns, they felt cheated. They wanted more for themselves, but no pony else was willing to share. So, they attacked the Tree of Harmony in an attempt to upset the balance and turn it in their favor. Ponies became untrusting of one another, and split into factions according to species. The alicorn sisters Luna and Celestia eventually destroyed the thestral menace, restoring the balance. Unfortunately, the balance had already been uprooted long enough for the tyrant Discord to take hold, trying to throw Equestria into eternal chaos.”

“The alicorn sisters had to wait until the tree had matured enough to stabilize,” I said, head bowed. “Then they could return for the elements and defeat Discord. But if the thestrals had never attacked the sapling tree of harmony in the first place, Discord would never have been able to take hold. It was our fault, Rainbow. Don’t you see? This is how we’re remembered. This is how ponies will think of me if they knew. I’m just a criminal to them.”

“But you didn’t rise up to break the balance. That was your ancestors.”

“I’m glad you see it that way, Rainbow, because they won’t. They’ll take one look at my wings and label me as that ‘thestral menace.’ The book says it, Rainbow!”

“That’s not true. It can’t be true.”

“Think of it this way. If I say ‘alicorn,’ what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”

“The Princesses, of course. Celestia, if you want specifics.”

“Right. The one that stands for good and justice. But Nightmare Moon was an evil alicorn. But you don’t instantly think of alicorns as evil because Celestia came first. It’s the same way with thestrals, I guess. My evil ancestors came before me, and that gave us a bad name. I’m stuck with that label, like it or not.”

“Well, I don’t think of you that way,” she offered, moving next to me and attempting to wrap a wing around. She soon found it impossible, given the size of my huge wings.

“Thanks, Dashie.” I instead wrapped one of my massive appendiges around her, swallowing her up and then some. Tears welled up in my eyes. At least one of my friends could accept me for who I was.

“This does mean I have a new flying partner, right?” she clarified teasingly.

“How do you feel about night flying?” I tearfully smiled.


I found out that Rainbow had told only Applejack about the thestral sighting, though the earth pony hadn’t believed a word of it. My new flying partner promised to lead everypony off my tail if it was brought up again. Though she tried to change my mind about keeping the whole thing a secret at first, I remained firm. After sharing my theories about what might happen to me if the Princesses caught word of a thestral sighting, even she agreed that it was best to keep quiet.

She talked me into flying back. After all, it would be a long walk for me. At my request, we kept low to the treetops. As soon as we took off, though, I noticed that Rainbow’s eyes never left my leathery dragon wings. I tried to igore it, but after a full minute, it became unbearable.

“You’re going to crash if you don’t watch where you’re going,” I huffed, swerving to avoid hitting another branch. She had almost knocked into a particularly tall tree herself.

“Sorry,” she said, pumping her wings until she was clear of the trees. I was much more accustomed to dodging the branches than she. Rainbow was too frustrated from dodging the high branches to remember our agreement, and soared several feet higher so she was safe from hitting them altogether. I, on the other hoof, remained only inches from the leaves. The silence that ensued was slightly awkward.

“So, you really aren’t from out in the country, are you?”

“No. The thestral encampment where I was raised is deep in the Everfree.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You came from the Everfree?”

“I know you Ponyville folk think that everypony from the Everfree is ‘bad news,’ but it’s my home,” I sighed, recalling Applejack’s words from our first adventure together.

“You’re not like other ponies from that place, Acrylic. But now I want to know everything! What’s it like?”

“Well... it’s kind of like life in Ponyville. But we use gems as currency. A few merchants who make trips to other cities trade gems for bits, which is how I got enough money to start myself off here. All thestrals can hide their wings like me, so they could just stroll into town, cash in gems at the bank and come back with goodies for us.”

“But... if you can all just disguise your wings, why haven’t you all just come back to join everypony else?”

“For one thing, we can’t permanently hide our wings. Sometimes, my wings just suddenly start growing back. It usually happens twice a day and sometime in the middle of the night, because I always wake up with them. I call them wing springs.”

“Pffft! Wing springs!” Rainbow laughed, flipping upside down to clutch her stomach as she laughed. I rolled my eyes. She finally recovered, ever so sheepishly. “So... was that why you took off last night?”

“Yes.”

“But if it’s such a huge risk, why did you come in the first place?”

“Because the other reason most thestrals stay in the shadows of the Everfree is exactly what drove me out. They hate. It’s like a disease. They hate Celestia for keeping them in the dark. For taking what they think was their only chance at a happy life. Thestrals live in the dark and dangerous forest, grounded for fear they’ll be discovered. They can’t farm. They can only gather what grows. They blame it all on the alicorn sisters. Even after a thousand years, they won’t let it go. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I saw what hate was doing to them. It was consuming them. I just didn’t want that to happen to me.” My head hung.

“Well, it sounds to me like the rest of those guys need to get a life,” Rainbow snorted, failing to console me at all.

“Oh, don’t get me wrong. Not everything there is centered around hate and revenge. My parents did a good job of showing me that it was history, and nothing more. Not everypony thought that way, but it’s how I was taught. My friend Tanzanite Miner has accepted it too, more or less. She thought I was crazy for wanting to move to Ponyville, but she has nothing against other ponies. Neither do the twins, Soprano and Spinning Solo.”

“Were those your friends from the... encampment?”

“We were never really close, but they were the closest thing I had back there.”

“But something still doesn’t add up. If you’re all supposed to be grounded, how come you’re such a good flyer? You’re as good as any Cloudsdale pegasi!” I smiled.

“My dad, Wind Storm, was the best flyer anypony had ever seen.”

“So your full name is Acrylic Storm?” I grinned. My parents always simply called me Acrylic, but there was something about carrying his name that I liked.

“I guess you could say that. You know he was the first thestral in four generations to earn a cutie mark for flying? At least, in our sector he was. He taught me everything I know.”

“Sectors? Now you’re just confusing me.”

“A sector is basically a thestral village. Well, they look more like refugee camps, but it’s the same thing. I grew up in Blade Wing Sector 4.”

“Oh, my head,” Rainbow joked. So, I proceeded to explain the sector system in further detail. Blade Wing was the name of the thestral who founded our sector. It had grown so much that the encampment had to split into another two divisions, Blade Wing Sector 1 and Blade Wing Sector 2. Now there were five, and there were rumors of a proposed Sector 6. There were other sectors besides Blade Wing, of course. They were all sparsely populated and located a good distance from one another. By the end of my explanations, Rainbow had concluded that thestrals were paranoid, angry loners who talked a good fight but never came out of their shells. Except me, of course, as she explained it. I was the odd ball. In a good way. I convinced her to be quiet before she said something she’d regret.

I lighted down at the edge of the forest, retracted my beloved wings, and trotted out into the clearing. I was shocked I hadn’t lost my saddlebags in all the hubbub.

“So, meet you tonight for our first pegasus-thestral flight?” Rainbow grinned.

“Sure thing,” I agreed. Before we had time to arrange a date, we were interrupted by Pinkie Pie. She was sprinting across the field for us at top speed.

“Hey guys!” she exclaimed, not even breaking a sweat.

“Hey, what’s up, Pinkie?” Rainbow casually greeted.

“I’ll tell you what’s up! We have a new party to plan!”

“What kind of party?” I asked, looking at the stack of invitations Pinkie had just shoved into my hooves.

“A baby shower! Mr. and Mrs. Cake just announced that they’re having foals!”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Here, I need you guys to help me pass out invitations. Pretty pinkie please?”

“I don’t have much else planned for today,” I consented.

“Yeah, might as well,” Rainbow agreed.

“Great! Come on!” Pinkie somehow managed to yank Rainbow out of the air and drag both of us behind her.


Somepony jabbed me in my sleep.

“GAH!”

“Wow. You really do grow wings in your sleep. I heard a lot of cracking and popping on my way up here. Honestly, it was kind of gross.” I rubbed my head, having fallen off the bed.

“Rainbow Dash? What are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?”

“Time for some night flying!” she proudly announced. “I guess you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget. Fluttershy told me that you were going to be practicing for an upcoming competition all night. I thought you were busy.”

“Yeah, busy practicing with you. Now, come on, sleepy wings. Up and at ‘em!” With a groan, I pulled myself back to my hooves. I didn’t bother with doing my mane, as it could only give me away sooner if we were caught. Wings dragging on the ground, I stumbled down the stairs. A gust of the cold night air instantly refreshed me. Rainbow Dash was already waiting for me, wings poised. “Ready?”

“Only if you are.” She snapped into action, leading the way into the dark night sky. My wings brought me level with her in half the time.

“I scouted around Ponyville after helping Pinkie deliver those invites. That forest from this morning looks completely abandoned, and nopony should be around this time of night.”

“What’s wrong? The Everfree too creepy for you?” I joked.

“N-No!” Rainbow indignantly stuttered. “It’s just... I want you to help me practice for my performance at the junior flight competition next month. The trees in these woods aren’t so thick, and it’s better for weaving.”

“I’m only teasing,” I chided. “Race you.” I took off without waiting for a response.

“It’s ON!” Rainbow had the upper hoof, since she didn’t have to stay in the clouds for cover. However, I had the upper wing, and I used the extra altitude to my advantage. Just as she was coming up on the tree line, I tucked in my wings, going in for one of my signature dives. The altitude brought me down, down, down at an incredible speed. Just when I looked like I was about to crash into the ground, I flipped around, my back to the ground. I used the exterior membrane of my wings, (a webbing located in the crook of my wing’s outer elbow), to repel the air, making me arc sharply upwards. Twirling upright once more, I folded my wings altogether and landed neatly on the ground. Rainbow looked on with an open mouth. I smirked.

“These wings might look big and clunky, but thestrals are the most agile ponies you’ll ever come across.”

“That. Was. AWESOME! Can you teach me to do that?”

“Not unless you spontaneously grow an outer membrane like this.” I ran a hoof over the extra skin. Rainbow pouted. “Now, go on. Show me your routine.”

“Alright. I’ll only show you the first two stages; the third involves a sonic rainboom. I have to wait until it’s light to practice that one.”

“Don’t want to attract all of Ponyville,” I agreed.

“Here goes nothin’,” she sighed, taking off again. I switched to glow light eyes before perching on the tallest tree to watch.

The first part of her routine involved tight weaves through a line of trees. It was impressive, but that’s not how I would have done it. I nodded, leaving myself a mental note and continued to watch. She made a smooth transition from the weave to shooting for the clouds in a neat arc. She targeted three specifically, and spun around them in tight pinwheels. If she could hold a sharper poise, it would decrease her drag and shoot her twice as fast. She pulled up from those, zooming back up into the sky. I almost thought she’d forgotten her resolve to save the sonic rainboom practice for daylight when she suddenly whipped around for a neat bow. I jumped into the sky, the branch below springing back up, released from my weight and planting a nice scratch on my ankle. I responded by crinkling my nose at the brief pain, but continued to make for Rainbow.

“So? What’da think?”

“Impressive. Tight turns are bound to catch somepony’s eye. The Wonderbolts, maybe?” I teasingly elbowed her. She grinned.

“You really think so?”

“Just maybe. But might I add a suggestion?”

“Sure.”

“When you’re pin wheeling the clouds, angle yourself even more. Point your wingtips until they’re perpendicular with the ground.”

“Perpen... what?”

“Straight up and down.”

“I can’t go any straighter. If I do, it throws me completely off balance.”

“Here’s the trick.” I made for one of the clouds she’d been using, angled myself sideways, and while the wing on top was nearly straight, I stretched the bottom one to be parallel with the ground until it brushed the edges of the cloud. “Use your bottom wing as an anchor,” I yelled above the whistling wind. “Let your feathers dig into the cloud. It’s weightless, so it won’t provide any drag, but it sure will give you a better grip.”

“I’ll give it a try,” she doubtfully agreed. We switched places in the sky, and I hovered to watch. She did just what I’d told her to, spinning shakily a few times before she got the hang of it. When she finally did, though, her face lit up. “Oh, YEAH!” she screamed, whipping around it with not twice but thrice the speed.

She pulled out of the cloud just as I was diving for the trees to demonstrate my methods. I wove through them at the same speed she had accomplished, but instead of manually adjusting my angle, I folded my wings to turn, letting the wind pull me in the right direction before recovering for the next turn. After my first helpful hint, Rainbow was more than willing to try this method. As soon as she went in for the first turn, though, she found her wings weren’t big enough to catch the required air, and tumbled to the dirt. I flew back to land at her side. “Maybe I should go back to my method for that one,” she blushed. I had to agree.

We practiced for another three hours before I decided I needed to get back to bed if I wanted to be presentable in the morning. Rainbow Dash reluctantly agreed, and flew me home.

“Acrylic?” She shuffled her hooves in the dirt as I opened the door.

“Yeah?”

“Will you come to Cloudsdale to watch my competition?”

“Cloudsdale? I thought we agreed I couldn’t show off my wings.”

“But you can still walk on the clouds without them, right? I mean, you’re still a thestral underneath.”

“Well yes, of course, but no earth ponies can walk on clouds, remember?”

“We can tell everypony that it’s some kind of cloud-walking spell. Please, Acrylic? If you don’t come, the only other pony there with me will be Fluttershy. I appreciate her support, but let’s face it. Her cheering is awful.”

“I’ve still got to fly to get there. Somepony will see my wings. My dragon wings.”

“That’s easy. I know the quietest places around Cloudsdale borders. Sneaking you in won’t be hard.”

“What do we tell Fluttershy when she asks how I got there?”

“Oh, uh, well... maybe you could take a hot air balloon?”

“A hot air balloon? Really?”

“Okay, maybe some strong stallions gave you a lift. Please? Do this for me?” Rainbow’s puppy dog eyes were terrible, but I caved.

“Alright, alright. I’ll be there,” I promised.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!” she squealed, choking me in tight embrace. ‘You’re welcome,’ is what I meant to say, but it came out more like garbled croaking. “Fluttershy’s helping me practice this Friday, and every weekend up until the competition. Will you come help out?”

“Sure,” I coughed, released from the smothering hug.

“Great! See you then!” She was gone in a flash. I was left to get as much sleep as I could.

Morning came all too soon, and though I slept in by an extra hour, I still had bags under my eyes.