• Published 28th Apr 2012
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Smoke and Mirrors - TeaPartyCannon



A changeling needs the help of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to avoid imprisonment.

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Chapter 5: Trying it Solo

Mirror rested on the couch in Fluttershy’s living room, wearing her pegasus disguise and flipping through the last few pages of a Daring Do book. It had been four days since she first woke up in Fluttershy’s backyard, and she had spent most of that time in the cottage, refusing to go back to Ponyville. The unidentified shape she had seen on her first night had set her paranoia on edge once more, and she was now lying low for a few days just in case she had been discovered.

During those past three days, her only company had been Fluttershy, who had stayed with her for the past two days without leaving, and Pinkie Pie, who would come around about twice a day to share news and desserts. Mirror had been allowed to remain at the cottage by herself once before, but a bizarre incident led to her being banned from ever being alone with Fluttershy’s animals again. Mirror closed the book as she reflected back on that particular incident.


“Come on, Angel, eat the carrot!” Mirror pleaded, holding out the vegetable to the white rabbit. The stubborn bunny shook his head and glared silently at her.

“Look, I get that you don’t like carrots,” She said. “But Fluttershy trusted me to care of her animals while she was out at her weekly spa trip with Rarity and I can’t let her down, so please, just eat the carrot!”

Angel just shook his head again and blew a raspberry at her. He was rewarded with a carrot to the head. “Fine, be that way! I’m not Fluttershy; I don’t have to put up with your attitude! Starve for all I care!”

Turning around to go tend to the other animals, Mirror felt the orange vegetable connect with the back of her head. Thanks to her outer shell, it barely hurt, but something in her snapped anyway. Spinning around with a scream of “That’s it!” she lunged at the rabbit and the two vanished within a large cloud of dust.

Later that night, Fluttershy returned to the cottage to find the birdhouses and burrows all boarded up, Angel hanging from the ceiling, upside down and suspended by rope, and Mirror asleep on the couch, scuffs and scratches covering her black carapace. When the pegasus woke Mirror up to ask her about it, the changeling claimed that the animals had assaulted her and that Angel had threatened her with bodily harm, so she had acted out in self-defense.

Surprisingly, Fluttershy believed her. But Mirror was still banned from ever being alone in the cottage with Fluttershy’s animals ever again. This suited Mirror just fine; she had quickly decided that animals hated her, and that she hated them back, so this had worked out for all of them.


Mirror blinked as the flashback ended. And to this day, I still can’t figure out how we managed to kick up so much dust in that fight when the cottage is so clean…

She looked back down at the Daring Do book she held in her hooves; “Daring Do and the Wooden Mask.” It was the fourth in the series, and Mirror’s favorite one currently. I love stories about the corruption of good characters; they remind me of watching ponies in changeling chrysalises turn into changelings themselves. I probably shouldn’t tell Fluttershy that that’s actually kind of fun to watch.

Mirror reopened the book to her current page with her hoof, lamenting the fact that she couldn’t use magic to flip the pages anymore. She placed a hoof to her forehead, where her horn would be, and sighed. I wonder if I can summon any kind of magic at all through this. Might as well try; I’ve got nothing better to do.

In a flash of green, Mirror reverted to her true changeling form. Through her new eyes, the words on the book’s pages became completely unreadable, so she set it down on the ground and closed her eyes. Concentrating, she willed the magic within her to rise up and channel itself through her broken horn. After a long moment of intense focus, she felt her magic finally surge, but something didn’t feel right. Opening her eyes, Mirror saw a large ball of crackling green energy forming in front of her damaged horn. Even worse was that although she was no longer concentrating on it, the ball was quickly growing bigger.

“What the-” Was all she got out before the orb of magic suddenly expanded outward and burst, filling the room with a destructive green light. The explosive energy launched Mirror across the room, leaving her to hit the wall and fall down with a pained grunt. Opening her eyes, the changeling saw that the blast had obliterated the couch she had been lying on and left a bunch of smoking, charred holes in the floor and walls. The birds and squirrels had all retreated into their homes in fear.

Mirror just stared in shocked silence at the ruined living room. A burnt plank of wood broke off from the ceiling and crashed to the floor. “Oops…”

Fluttershy rushed into the room from the kitchen, a look of alarm and worry on her face. “What happened? I heard an explosion, and… oh…”

The pegasus stopped short as she saw the state of her living room. A grunt from the side caught her attention, and she turned to see Mirror slowly picking herself back up off the ground. Fluttershy flew to her side and helped her regain her footing.

Mirror looked between Fluttershy and the room several times before she finally started talking hysterically. “I-I’m sorry! I was just trying to use magic, but my horn, and the magic; I just lost control of it! I didn’t mean to!”

“I-It’s okay, Mirror! It’s okay! I’ve been meaning to redecorate anyway! Please, don’t be upset over it!” Fluttershy said, trying desperately to calm the changeling to no avail.

“But it’s my fault! I have to do something about it! Help you rebuild, go make some bits to pay for the damages, anything!” Mirror pleaded.

Fluttershy just shook her head and stood her ground. “No. It was just an accident; you said so yourself. I’ll just get somepony to help me make repairs. Oh, maybe I’ll see if Apple Bloom can help! She’s Applejack’s little sister, and she’s been developing a remarkable talent for construction recently.”

“Are you sure?” Mirror asked, glancing guiltily down at a smoldering black crater beside her.

“Positive. As long as you’re not hurt, it’s okay. Though you probably shouldn’t try using magic again; Twilight’s mentioned many times that casting magic with a broken horn is a disaster waiting to happen.” Fluttershy said, grabbing a rug and dragging it over a hole in the floor.

As the rug moved, however, something on it shifted, catching Mirror’s eye. She quickly picked it up, a look of horror crossing her face as she realized it was the Daring Do book she had been reading. The book was unsalvageable: only a few charred pages remained, the rest burned to ashes, and the cover was blackened to the point of illegibility.

“Ah! The book! I’ve destroyed library property! Twilight’s going to kill me!” Mirror panicked, waving the ruined novel around. “What do I do?”

An idea suddenly came to her right then. “Oh, I know! I’ll just get another one to replace it! Then I can’t get in trouble for it!”

“Oh, but you’ll need money to buy another book,” Fluttershy pointed out. “I can-”

“No! You are not giving me money to buy another copy!” Mirror refused. “We’re already going to need those bits to fix up this room, and I am not leeching off you for something as trivial as this! I’ll just go to Ponyville and work to earn the bits myself.”

“Really? You’ll have to go alone, you know. I need to go Sweet Apple Acres and see if I can get Applebloom’s help.” Fluttershy said. “Are you sure you’re okay going alone?”

“I’ll be fine; I’m sure I can handle it. It can’t be that hard to make a few bits, right?” Mirror asked. Hopefully…

“I suppose not. I’ll come with you to Ponyville, though. We can split up once we get there.” Fluttershy said.

“Sounds good to me.” Mirror said, donning her modified Daring Do disguise and flying out the door. “Let’s go, then!”

Leaving the cottage, the two pegasi walked down the road to Ponyville at a quick pace. Mirror noted with delight that despite the abuse she had put it through, her leg was healing at an admirable rate, and she could now move at a fast trot without it hurting. With luck, she’d be out of the cast within the next few days.

Soon enough, they entered Ponyville, where the two bid each other goodbye. “You’re sure you’ll be able to handle being alone, right?” Fluttershy asked.

Mirror grinned and waved her hoof dismissively. “Come on, just because I’m used to working in a group doesn’t mean I’m completely helpless on my own. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay then, if you say so.” Fluttershy said, turning towards Sweet Apple Acres. “Bye Mirror, I’ll see you later!”

“Bye Fluttershy!” Mirror called out. Once the yellow pegasus had left, Mirror began looking around for a book store. Recognizing one by the sign with a book on it, she quickly flew over and entered the shop.

Looking around, Mirror noticed that there were very few ponies within the store. In fact, there were no ponies, the only one there was the shopkeeper, a brown stallion with a beige mane. Well, I suppose it makes sense. Who’d actually buy a book when there’s a perfectly good library nearby?

Nonetheless, the changeling quickly searched through the store until she found the Daring Do books. Quickly picking out the one she needed, she smiled and looked at its price. Her smile fell away instantly.

“Twenty bits?! Who pays twenty bits for a book?! You can buy a whole apple pie for two bits! This is outrageous!” She screamed at the book store owner. The pony didn’t look at all bothered by her tirade.

“This is the only book store in town, so that’s the price, miss. Take it or leave it.” He said, nonchalantly taking a bite out of an apple he had on him.

Mirror gave him her most venomous glare and put the book back on the shelf. Stalking out the door, she muttered just loud enough for him to hear, “No wonder everypony just goes to the library instead…”

Walking outside, Mirror silently fumed and wondered where she was going to get twenty bits from. Considering her options, the changeling hit upon an idea. Well, Rarity’s the Element of Generosity, and I’m sure her job must make a lot of money. Maybe I can ask her for some work. Come to think of it, Sparkler also said I should visit if I needed anything. Alright then, Carousel Boutique it is!

Quickly flying over to Rarity’s home, Mirror knocked politely on the door and waited. A few moments later, the door opened, revealing Sparkler standing behind it. The unicorn smiled upon seeing the pegasus. “Mirror, dear! What a pleasant surprise! I haven’t seen you since your first visit!”

“Yeah, I’ve just been staying at Fluttershy’s cottage. Helping her out, you know?” Mirror responded. Well, technically it’s not a total lie…

“Yes, well, it’s good to see you again! Please, come in, come in!” Sparkler said, inviting the changeling inside. Mirror entered the boutique, spotting Rarity walk in from another room to greet her.

“Mirror, it’s so good to see you again! I was wondering if you were ever coming back to Ponyville!” Rarity said. “We didn’t scare you that badly, did we?”

“No, of course not. I just… overreacted.” Mirror said, grinning sheepishly at the memory of the failed surprise party.

“See, cousin dear? I told you she’d come back.” Sparkler said. “So, Mirror, did you come to take me up on that offer? If you need anything, just ask.”

“Actually, I do.” Mirror said. “I need money to buy a book. Twenty bits, to be exact.”

“Twenty bits? That’s quite a lot of money.” Rarity pointed out. “Why don’t you just go to the library? I’m sure Twilight will have whatever it is you want.”

“I can’t go to Twilight’s library; it’s complicated. Do you have any work I could do in order to make some bits?”

“Well, I’m afraid our type of work requires quite a bit of specialized skill.” Rarity said. “There’s not much you can do besides more dress modeling.”

“Oh…” Mirror grimaced, not looking forward to more of the uncomfortable dresses.

“Hmm, you don’t seem too keen on that idea, do you?” Sparkler asked her. Mirror shook her head in response.

Rarity giggled softly. “Don’t worry, dear. I think I know just what you can do.”

“You do?” Mirror asked.

“Indeed. You see, a while back I gave Pinkie Pie a star-print fabric pattern for her to use as decoration for one of her parties. One of my new dress orders requires that print.” Rarity explained. “But even with Sparkler helping me, I’m much too busy with my other orders, and I have no time to retrieve it from her. If you can go to Sugarcube Corner and convince Pinkie to return that fabric, I’ll give you twenty bits as thanks.”

“Really, that’s all? That doesn’t sound too difficult.” Mirror said. “Alright, I’ll do it!”

“Thank you, Mirror. This is actually very important; I simply have no time to spare on other things. So many ponies have been requesting new clothing after the Canterlot invasion.” Rarity said. “I’m not sure why; fashion is important, sure, but you’d think it be one of the last things on most ponies’ minds after such a disaster.”

“Yes, but you don’t have to worry about that right now.” Sparkler said, pressing up close against Rarity. “Just focus on fulfilling those orders. I’ll be right here to help.”

“Thank you, Sparkler. I must say, at times like these, I appreciate having your expertise to assist me.” Rarity said. She turned to look at Mirror, who was watching them curiously. “So, Mirror. That fabric?”

“Oh, right! Yeah, I’ll go get that now!” Mirror said, snapping back to attention and blushing in embarrassment. “I’ll be back soon; you can count on me! Bye!”

With that, Mirror quickly left the boutique and began walking in the direction of Sugarcube Corner. Approaching the gingerbread-themed bakery, she pushed her way through the group of ponies waiting in line, muttering “Excuse me,” and “Sorry,” the entire way through. Finally getting to the front, she walked up to Pinkie Pie, who was managing the counter.

“Hey Pinkie, I-” Mirror began, only to get grabbed by Pinkie and forcefully pulled into the kitchen. Once in, Pinkie stopped and faced her with a smile.

“Matchie, you came back! I knew you’d come eventually!” Pinkie squealed. “I need your help!”

“What? But I-” Mirror tried.

“Alright, here’s the deal. Mr. and Mrs. Cake are out with the twins, and they’ve left me in charge of managing the bakery!” Pinkie said.

“That’s great, but-” Mirror said, again being shot down as Pinkie kept talking.

“I know, right?! Anyway, one of the customers wants a dozen rainbow-iced cookies. The cookies are baking in the oven right now, but I’m out of rainbow water!” Pinkie explained.

“Rainbow water? What’s that?” Mirror asked.

“Liquid rainbow, of course! Rainbow water is normally really spicy, and I mean really spicy! But if you use it right, you can make delicious, sweet-tasting rainbow icing!” Pinkie said. “Anyway, the closest supply of rainbow water is in the waterfall at Rainbow Dash’s cloud home, but I have to cater to all the other customers! I don’t have time to get my flying machine and fly up there!”

“I think I see where this is going.” Mirror said. She was well aware of how the magic of the three pony races worked. “As a pegasus, you want me to go fly up to Rainbow Dash’s house and get you some rainbow water.”

“Exactly! I knew I could count on you! Thanks, Matchie!” Pinkie Pie said. “You won’t have any trouble finding it, I promise you! It’s a big cloud home and the sky is clear today! It’d be hard not to see it!”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do it, but there’s just one thing,” Mirror said. “The reason I came here; Rarity said she needed a star-print fabric pattern she gave you a while back, so she sent me to get it.”

“Oh, yeah, that! I used that for the New Moon Celebration Party we had two weeks ago!” Pinkie recalled. “Well this works super-duper perfectly, then! You get me the rainbow water, and when you get back, I’ll have that print ready for you!”

“Okay, I suppose that’ll work.” Mirror said, sounding a little uncertain. Nonetheless, she smiled and turned to walk out of the kitchen. “See you later, Pinkie!”

“Bye Matchie!” Pinkie Pie waved after her.

Mirror pushed her way past the waiting ponies again and emerged into the streets of Ponyville. Unfurling her wings, she took the skies above Ponyville, searching for the cloud home Pinkie had described. She soon spotted something white on the edge of Ponyville and flew over to it. Sure enough, the white object was a house made of clouds with a fountain of rainbow water pouring down beside it.

Mirror suddenly realized she didn’t have a jar or anything to fill with the rainbow water, meaning she’d have to ask Rainbow Dash for help, provided the mare was home. Sighing, she flew over, landed on the soft cloud, and knocked on the door. Since the door was made of clouds, there wasn’t much of a knocking noise, but nonetheless Mirror settled down and waited to see if Rainbow Dash would answer.

“Hey Mirror! Come to see me?” A familiar voice said from behind her. Jumping in shock, Mirror whirled around to find Rainbow Dash hovering a few feet in front of her. The pegasus chuckled at her startled reaction.

“Rainbow Dash! Hi, long time no see!” Mirror said, grinning nervously at the pony that had come so close to uncovering her secret when they first met.

“No kidding! Where have you been all this time?” Rainbow Dash asked, landing in front of her. “Love the new manestyle, by the way. Is that the same style as the one I had at the gala?”

“I’ve been helping out at Fluttershy’s.” Mirror answered, choosing not to elaborate. “And yeah, it is. Rarity did it for me. Anyway, I can’t stay long; I need your help.”

“Help? What for?” Rainbow Dash asked, raising an eyebrow. “Well, whatever it is, it’ll be no problem for the fastest flyer in Equestria!”

“I’m sure it won’t be.” Mirror muttered, then continued more loudly. “Pinkie Pie needs some rainbow water to make icing for her cookies. I forgot to bring a jar, so I need to borrow one from you in order to carry it.”

“Oh sure, go ahead! Personally, I’ve never liked those rainbow cookie things. Don’t let Pinkie fool you; those things are still plenty spicy even with all the sugar. But yeah, you can have one!” Rainbow Dash said.

“Really? Thanks Rainbow Dash!” Mirror beamed happily.

“No problem! Though, if it’s not too much trouble, can I ask you a favor?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Mirror frowned, feeling her spirits drop as she realized where this was heading. “What is it?”

“I’m trying out this new stunt to impress the Wonderbolts. It’s pretty simple, but I need a thundercloud to perform it.” Rainbow Dash explained.

“So go get a thundercloud.” Mirror said. “What kind of stunt are you doing anyway?”

“That’s classified. I just came up with it recently, and I’ve still got to try it out. I’ll show it to you once I’ve perfected it.” Rainbow Dash answered. “But the problem is that the sky’s been cleared and we aren’t scheduled for another storm in weeks!”

“Right, so how exactly am I supposed to help you here?” Mirror asked.

“Well, it’s simple, really. The clouds in the sky have all been cleared, except for the ones at Sweet Apple Acres. It’s been pretty dry recently, and Applejack said the orchard needed rain, so there should be some thunderclouds over there. I just need one for now.” Rainbow Dash explained.

“So why do you need me for this?” Mirror asked. “You’re not too busy, are you?”

“No, but…” Rainbow Dash said, looking rather uncomfortable. “Applejack and I aren’t on the best of terms right now. I kind of made her pretty mad yesterday.”

“What did you do?” Mirror asked. Applejack did seem a bit irritable when we first met, but she seemed nice enough. What could you have possibly said to make her so mad?

“I don’t know! I was just doing what I normally do; a bit of taunting, trying to provoke her into going a few rounds with me so we could see who was the better athlete; nothing out of the ordinary, and she just snapped at me!” Rainbow Dash said.

“Are you sure she’s okay?” Mirror asked.

“Yeah, I mean, she apologized and told me that she was just stressed out because Applebuck Season’s started up again, but I don’t want to go make her mad again so soon by asking for one of the clouds.” Rainbow Dash said. “You understand, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, I understand.” Mirror grumbled, spreading her wings and taking off in the direction of Sweet Apple Acres. “I’ll go get your cloud. Just have the rainbow water ready for me, okay?”

“No problem! Thanks, pal!” Rainbow Dash called after her.

Mirror didn’t look back as she flew towards the apple farm outside Ponyville, marked by a group of dark clouds hanging over it. I just realized that I’ve never actually been to Sweet Apple Acres before. Good thing these clouds are here!

Flying over the orchard, Mirror spotted a cloud that was a darker shade of grey than the surrounding ones. Marking that one as a thundercloud, she flew up and landed gently on top of it. Sitting on top the dark cloud, a thought came to her. I never did have that many opportunities to play with these before. What happens if you stomp on them?

Quickly taking off a short distance above it, Mirror stopped and shot straight down, bringing her front hooves crashing against the thundercloud. The shockwave from the impact produced a thunderous boom and a single bolt of lightning, which struck an apple tree below it, catching fire to the tree.

“Ah!” Mirror shrieked, hopping off the cloud and staring in panic at the fire. She quickly rushed off and grabbed a lighter cloud. Remembering some basic weather training she learned, the changeling threw it over the fire and hopped on it repeatedly. A torrent of rain fell from it, dousing the blaze instantly.

“Whew, that was a close one.” Mirror said, sighing and relaxing into the raincloud.

“Excuse me? Exactly what do ya think yer doin’?” The accented voice came from below Mirror this time. The changeling shrieked and hopped off the cloud, kicking it away and looking down at Applejack, who was dripping wet from the rain shower. She grinned nervously at the drenched earth pony.

“Hey, Applejack… How are you doing today?” Mirror asked, trying and failing to feign innocence.

“Oh pretty good, if ya ignore the lightning strike and rain shower over mah head!” Applejack said, glaring at the pegasus. “Don’t go ignorin’ mah question! What are ya doin’ here?”

“Well, I need a thundercloud. Rainbow Dash wants it for one of her flying tricks, so I need to get her one so she’ll give me some rainbow water, which I need to give to Pinkie for a… star print fabric, I think it was, which I need to give to Rarity for the bits to buy a book.” Mirror explained.

“…Sugarcube,” Applejack said at last, “That’s a mighty convoluted plan for so simple a task.”

“I know…” Mirror groaned. “So anyway, that thundercloud, please?”

“Ah don’t know. Considerin’ ya set fire ta one of mah trees and doused me in rain water, Ah’d say ya owe me somethin’ in exchange.” Applejack said.

Mirror felt her left eye start twitching involuntarily. “Oh, come on! What could you possibly need?!”

“Oh, nothin’ much. Ah just need ya ta go find Applebloom. She headed off with Fluttershy a while ago, and she took a bunch of tools with her. Ah need the hammer she brought with her.” Applejack explained.

“Why?” Mirror whined.

“There’s an old apple cellar out in the orchard. Don’t ask me why, it was just built out there. Real inconvenient; it’s why we got a new one.” Applejack said. “Anyway, the chains coverin’ the entrance are lookin’ worn and damaged; Ah think somepony might be tamperin’ with it. Ah’m takin’ mah tools out there to fix it and make sure nopony goes down there and gets hurt, but I need a hammer to finish the job.”

Mirror finally noticed the small toolbox lying beside the orange earth pony. “What, so she took the only hammer you had? You live on a farm and you only have one hammer?”

“Well we did have more, but they all broke in a freak construction accident.” Applejack said, opening the toolbox and pulling out a splintered hammer head. “But anyway, that’s the deal. Ya want that thundercloud, yer gonna have to help.”

“Fine, I’ll go do it.” Mirror groaned, deciding that it wouldn’t be the best idea to anger the earth pony by arguing further. Without waiting for a reply, she shot off at breakneck speed across Ponyville towards Fluttershy’s cottage. Reaching it in a matter of minutes, she stopped just before crashing into another tree and barged into the house.

“Fluttershy! Is Apple Bloom here? I need a hammer so I can give it to Applejack for a thundercloud so I can give it to Rainbow Dash for something so I can give that to somepony for something else!” Mirror shouted, waving her hooves in the air as she spouted out more fast-paced nonsense.

Fluttershy and a yellow earth pony filly with a red mane stared at her in shock. Fluttershy was holding a new piece of wood to the ceiling and a hammer in her mouth, while the filly, who Mirror assumed was Apple Bloom, seemed to have been directing her before she came in.

“Um, Mirror? Are you okay?” Fluttershy asked, landing and looking at the changeling with concern.

“Fine, why wouldn’t I be?” Mirror asked, taking notice of her twitching wing and pulling it in. She looked at Apple Bloom and smiled. “Hi, I’m Mirror Match! Are you Apple Bloom?”

“Yup, that’s me!” Apple Bloom said, smiling back. “So yer Mirror? Fluttershy’s been telling me all about ya!”

“Really? That’s nice.” Mirror said, walking up to the filly. “Anyway, your sister wants that hammer back for some reason I can’t remember, and I need it if I want to get a thundercloud. So, please?”

“But Mirror, what about that Daring Do book?” Fluttershy asked.

“I’m working on it!” Mirror snapped in sudden anger, causing the pegasus to shrink back in fear. A look of guilt crossed Mirror’s face. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. I’m just really frustrated right now.”

“I-It’s okay. I can’t fault you for something like that.” Fluttershy said, glancing somewhat guiltily in a different direction. Mirror ignored this and went back to Apple Bloom.

“Come on. Hammer. Please?” Mirror begged, her smile growing ever wider.

“Sorry Mirror, but Ah need this to fix up Fluttershy’s house!” Apple Bloom said.

“Doesn’t Fluttershy have another hammer you could use?” Mirror asked.

“It broke in a freak construction accident.” Apple Bloom said. Mirror’s eye twitched more violently this time.

“Of course it did. You know what? Forget this. I have a better idea! See you later!” Turning around, Mirror shot out of the cottage, flying towards Ponyville. Spotting an area where several construction workers were building a house, she ducked into an empty alley and peered around the corner at a toolbox lying on the edge of the plot of land.

“Yup, this is the perfect plan! I’ll just steal it! No one will ever know!” Mirror said to herself, giggling in a slightly off-kilter way. Slipping back into the alley, she sat down and continued talking. “But how do I get close without attracting attention?”

A moment later, an idea came to her, and a light bulb appeared above her head. Glancing up at it in confusion, Mirror took it and tossed it away. How did that get there?

Quickly dismissing the oddity, though, Mirror closed her eyes and concentrated. A green cocoon wrapped around her and disappeared in a flash, leaving a perfect copy of Pinkie Pie standing in her place.

“It’s perfect! Pinkie Pie’s so crazy already that nothing she does can attract too much attention!” Mirror said. Moving out of the alley, she mimicked Pinkie Pie’s joyful bounce and hopped towards the construction site. Inwardly, she hoped that none of the ponies there would notice the cast still encasing her left leg.

Reaching the construction site, she stopped in front of the toolbox and waited. A few of the workers looked up at her to see what she was doing. Clearing her throat, Mirror smiled and cried out, “Look! Look at that distraction over there! It looks like cake!”

Surprisingly, it worked, and when the construction workers looked away in the direction she had pointed to, she grabbed a hammer from the toolbox and raced back into the alleyway. Looking back and seeing her gone, the ponies simply passed it off as another of Pinkie Pie’s antics and continued working.

Seeing that her plan had worked, Mirror happily laughed out loud for several seconds, then snapped back to reality, checking to make sure that no one had come to find her. Seeing the coast clear, she hid behind a trash can, transformed back into her Daring Do disguise, and flew off towards Sweet Apple Acres.

Reaching the farm, she quickly sought out Applejack, dropped the hammer in front of the earth pony, grabbed a thundercloud, and raced off with it before Applejack could say anything. Once she was a short distance away, Mirror stopped and sat on the cloud, happy that something had gone right today.

“Ha! Finally! Now I just have to go give this to…” Mirror trailed off as she realized that, with everything that had happened, she had completely lost track of who wanted what and why. “…Who do I give this to again?”


“Um, Mirror, dear? This is a thundercloud. Hardly suitable for dressmaking, I’d say.” Rarity said, staring in confusion at the pegasus riding the dark grey, rumbling cloud.

“No! I know a thundercloud fit somewhere into the equation here! I’m just not sure where!” Mirror screeched. Her right eye was dilated and her left eye and wing were twitching violently.

“Mirror, are you sure you’re okay?” Sparkler asked, looking rather worried.

“I don’t know! It’s been a long day, with a lot of stress, and I’m trying to keep up with too many ponies and their needs at once! I can’t take it anymore!” Mirror screamed, breaking down and sobbing into the thundercloud. It rumbled at the impact, but fortunately didn’t electrocute her.

Rarity and Sparkler exchanged looks between themselves and the crying pegasus. Finally, Sparkler sighed and levitated a small brown bag above Mirror’s head. The transformed changeling looked up from the cloud at the bag, which dropped down into her hooves.

“Here, twenty bits. Something tells me you need this more than we do.” Sparkler said.

“What? But I didn’t even get you what you wanted!” Mirror protested.

“It’s okay, dear, really. I’ll just go pick up the fabric from Pinkie later. You don’t need me here at all times, do you cousin?” Sparkler asked Rarity.

“No, I suppose I don’t. Go on, Mirror, take it. I’m not the Element of Generosity for nothing, you know.” Rarity said.

“…Thank you. I don’t know how I can repay you.” Mirror said, a grateful smile crossing her face. She looked down at the thundercloud she rested on. “But what am I supposed to do with this? And those other promises I made?”

“…I think I’ve got an idea.” Rarity said, picking up a pencil and paper. “Why don’t we sort it out together? Figure out who wants what, and then you can go deliver to them. How about that?”

“Okay, that’ll work.” Mirror said. “Let me think… I was supposed to get the fabric from…”

“Pinkie Pie.” Sparkler helped.

Mirror nodded. “Right, Pinkie, but she wanted me to…”

And so, Mirror, Rarity, and Sparkler quickly composed a list of requests, which Mirror used to finish her deliveries in record time and head off to the book store. After yelling at the shopkeeper some more about his ridiculous prices, Mirror left the store just as the sun started dipping beyond the horizon.

I didn’t realize so much time had passed. Mirror thought, flying off towards Twilight’s library with the book in tow. She knocked on the door and waited.

A few seconds later, the door opened, Spike standing in the way. “Oh hey, Mirror! How are you doing?”

“Fine, thanks for asking.” Mirror said quickly, walking inside. “Is Twilight home?”

“Right, here, Mirror.” Twilight said, walking down the stairs. “Nice manestyle, by the way.”

“Thanks!” Mirror said, smiling. Her grin fell as she shoved the newly-purchased book in front of Twilight’s face. “Here’s your book back. I’m done with it.”

“You were reading Daring Do books?” Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow. “I didn’t think you’d be willing to read them again after what you went through.”

“I was feeling nostalgic.” Mirror said, suddenly remembering that these books were supposed to cause her great emotional trauma. “Or masochistic. One or the other.”

“Well, did you enjoy the book?” Twilight asked, magically taking it from her.

“Yeah. It was one of my favorites as a filly.” Mirror said, her voice flat.

“Really? Mine too! Well, I’m not sure if it’s my favorite one, but “Daring Do and the Cove of Candles” is a great book!” Twilight said.

“Wait, what?” Mirror asked, Twilight’s words catching her attention. “What did you say?”

“I said I’m not sure if it’s my favorite-” Twilight repeated.

“No, after that!” Mirror said.

“…“Daring Do and the Cove of Candles” is a great book?” Twilight said hesitantly.

“That! Let me see that!” Mirror yanked the book out of her hold and read the title. Sure enough, the book read “Daring Do and the Cove of Candles.”

Mirror smacked herself in the face and groaned. “I bought the wrong book! How did that even happen?”

“Bought? I don’t understand…” Twilight said, but trailed off as Mirror started heading towards the door. “Where are you going?”

“Out. I’ll be right back.” Mirror said, flying out into the evening sky.


“I want a refund! NOW!” Mirror screamed, wrapping her hooves around the book store owner’s neck and shaking him violently. The poor pony could barely speak through her choking grip.

“I-I’m sorry, m-ma’am, but you b-bought that book ten minutes ago! W-Why would you-” He managed to get out before Mirror pulled him forward so that their faces were an inch apart.

“Listen here, buddy. I’ve been flying all over Ponyville all day doing favors for other ponies just to get one of your ridiculously overpriced books!” Mirror growled. “Now you’re going to give me the book I want, or so help me one day you will wake up trapped in an inescapable cocoon being constantly drained of every happy feeling you’ve ever experienced for the rest of your miserable existence! You got that?!”

Though the threat sounded rather far-fetched, the stallion saw in her mis-sized, glaring eyes that the pegasus meant every word. Nodding fearfully, he quickly ran off to find the correct book as soon as she released him.


“Alright, now here’s your book!” Mirror growled, shoving the right book into Twilight’s hooves and stalking off.

“Wait! Are you okay?” Twilight asked cautiously, more than capable of recognizing signs of instability when she saw them.

“No, not really. I just really want to go back to the cottage and rest now, if that’s fine with you. Bye Twilight, I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe.” Mirror said, closing the door behind her and flying off into the darkening sky towards Fluttershy’s cottage. She reached it just as the sun disappeared and the stars began to come out.

Opening the door and walking in, Mirror noticed that Apple Bloom was gone, and that the living room looked as good as new compared to the mess it had been this morning. Fluttershy was right; that filly’s got quite the talent.

Having heard the door open, Fluttershy flew into the room to greet Mirror. “Mirror, you’re back! How did it go? You seemed pretty upset when I saw you earlier today.”

Mirror sighed and closed the door behind her, shifting back into her natural changeling form as she did so. “…I am never going back to Ponyville alone again. I’m just a drone; I’m not cut out to be operating on my own after all.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Fluttershy asked. “I have some hot tea ready, if you’d like.”

Mirror thought about it for a moment, then gave a nod and a small smile. “Sure, I’d like that.”

Sitting down for a cup of tea in the kitchen, Mirror began telling Fluttershy about how her day went. It wasn’t long before the changeling, still recovering from her previous breakdown, went off tangent, though.

“…And if a pony somehow manages to escape its chrysalis before the transformation is complete, which generally won’t happen unless it was made by only one changeling, in which case it could be weak enough to break out of, they’ll end up as some mutant pony-changeling hybrid.” Mirror said, sipping her tea as she spoke. “I’ve never actually seen one before; I’m just going off what the older drones tell me, but-”

“Um, Mirror?” Fluttershy interrupted, looking rather disturbed for reasons Mirror couldn't quite figure out. “Not that this isn't...interesting... but how did we get on this topic?”

“…I don’t know.” Mirror replied. She stared down at the ground in embarrassment. “Sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. I can see you don’t want to talk about today. Why don’t we talk about something else?” Fluttershy asked, taking a sip of her tea.

“Like what?” Mirror asked.

“Well, Pinkie Pie and I have told you a lot about pony life, so… why don’t you tell me about changeling life?” Fluttershy suggested.

“Oh, okay!” Mirror agreed, her mood brightening considerably. “Well, we all live in a large hive within a mountain in the Badlands. Queen Chrysalis says that there used to be a really beautiful valley where the hive is, but if there was, it’s long gone now. Anyway, in the hive, some changelings stay behind at all times to tend to the eggs and hatchlings, while other changelings, like me, go out for a few days and collect love. We then bring it back to the hive, where the queen absorbs it and spreads it amongst the entire swarm.”

“It… sounds like a close family.” Fluttershy said.

“Well, of course! The swarm is our family, and Queen Chrysalis is our mother! She loves all changelings, even the synthetic ones born from cocoons! Though I can’t really say she feels love for all the non-changeling species out there.” Mirror said. “But we look out for each other; we always make sure everyone’s safe and has enough love to survive. We only have each other, after all; nopony will show sympathy to a race of love-draining emotion eaters.”

The changeling sighed, looking melancholic. “I miss the swarm. I feel so alone.”

Fluttershy moved to say something, but Mirror stopped her. “I know I’m not really alone; I’ve got you and Pinkie and your other friends. But still, sometimes I just wish I knew what happened to all the other changelings.”

“…I’m sure you’ll find them again someday.” Fluttershy said, giving a sympathetic smile.

“I hope so.” Mirror said. The room fell silent, and suddenly a little bump was heard from under the table. Confused, Mirror made a move to check under the white cloth covering when something pink shot out from under it.

“SURPRISE!” Pinkie Pie shouted. Both Fluttershy and Mirror screamed and clung together for security. Pinkie grinned at them, bursting out laughing at the sight.

“W-Where did you come from?!” Mirror yelled, trying to recover from her scare. Fluttershy slowly let go of the changeling, but was still visibly shaking.

“From under the table, duh! I’ve been waiting for a good time to jump in!” Pinkie said.

“Did you know she was there?” Mirror asked Fluttershy.

“Um, no.” Fluttershy replied.

“I see.” Mirror said. Sneaky ninja pony.

“Guess what, Matchie? We’re holding your Not-So-Surprise Party tomorrow!” Pinkie announced.

“…What?” Mirror asked, a hint of fear showing.

“Your Not-So-Surprise Party!” Pinkie repeated. “You don’t like surprise parties, but that’s okay; Fluttershy doesn’t either. So I’m telling you beforehand, so you aren’t surprised when you come!”

Pinkie pulled out a written invitation and handed it to Fluttershy. “Make sure to be at Sugarcube Corner by seven! It’ll be so much fun! Okay, bye!”

With that, the pink pony sped out of the house, leaving Mirror and Fluttershy in stunned silence. While Fluttershy recovered quickly enough and went to wash their dishes, Mirror remained behind, thinking about what Pinkie Pie had said. One thought flashed prominently in her mind.

This isn’t going to end well.

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