• Published 12th Apr 2015
  • 3,608 Views, 104 Comments

What Didn't Happen: After - Zeg

A Princess and a Queen share the same one dream, but on nights separated by over six centuries worth of time. Is the dream a warning of what is yet to come?

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Interlude – Day Dream – Part 1

Author's Note:

Day Dream is an entirely skippable side story. If you choose not to read it, you won't be missing anything important to the main storyline. It is meant to be an exploration of past events from Princess Twilight's life in her own timeline.

Fair warning to anyone who wishes to read this one, it has an additional [Sad] tag. If you don't enjoy sad stories, then consider skipping this one and continuing the main story from Chapter 12.

What Didn't Happen: After

by Zeg

Interlude – Day Dream – Part 1

Twilight blinked and noticed that her eyelids felt strangely heavy, similar to how they felt when waking up from a nap. The muffled sounds of nearby talking rung in her ears, the words impossible to make out. It sounded as if she were listening to a nearby conversation while her head was submerged in water.

She blinked again and slowly glanced around the room. Everything appeared a bit blurry, but she still recognized her surroundings. She was standing in her communications room in her castle. She stood at the edge of the circle of runes that ran along the floor around the large projection crystal in the center, and all around the circle were blurry images made of light projected by the crystal’s magic.

She blinked once more, shaking her head a bit this time in an attempt to shake off the haziness from her mind, and the blurred surroundings came into focus. The projected images were those of the Equestrian Elder Council. To her right, she saw an image of Celestia and Luna standing side by side. To her left, an image of Cadance and Flurry Heart. Across from her on the other side of the circle was projected a pony-sized image of Spike, his arms crossed across his chest as he tapped one of his claws against his arm, and a short distance from his right was an image of a colorful changeling with a mostly light green carapace that faded to a burnt orange at his legs, one of the allies from the Old Kingdom. Two very bushy antennae jutted out from his forehead, giving him the appearance of having a pair of oversized bushy eyebrows fixed in an eternal scowl. His name escaped her at that moment even though she was sure she should know it.

Something about the meeting seemed off. Twilight had the strange sensation that she had just been somewhere else entirely, though she knew that couldn’t possibly be true. It was more likely that she had just caught herself letting her mind wander. She really hoped that she hadn’t been dozing off during the middle of a council meeting, that would have been rather embarrassing. However, she couldn’t recall what this particular meeting was for, though she knew that it was somehow urgent.

“You’re the only others we can call on!” The sound of Flurry’s stressed voice speaking through her projection rung through the room, and Twilight’s attention snapped to her. She saw Flurry addressing the changeling. “Your people have an immunity to the venom.”

Venom. Of course. Twilight furrowed her brow deeply and shook her head. The details all came rushing back to her at once. They were holding an emergency council meeting and had asked for Lamellate, a diplomat from the Old Kingdom, to join them so they could request their aid. The Crystal Empire was currently under imminent threat of attack from a large swarm of feral changelings seen moving across the Frozen North. Twilight mentally chastised herself for getting distracted at such a crucial moment. How could she possibly be letting her mind wander? Perhaps it was because she couldn’t stop thinking that her repeated requests for more time to find a peaceful solution to the feral problem may have given them enough time to build an army.

Lamellate firmly shook his head. “You’re asking us to send armies we don’t have,” he said, stamping a hoof as he spoke in a raised voice. “Very few of our changelings choose to be warriors. You can’t seriously expect us to send thousands of our peaceful citizens in a desperate attempt to overwhelm our feral brethren.” His iridescent wings buzzed at his sides, showing his agitation, but he let out a long sigh and then continued in a calmer tone. “We are prepared to send what supplies we can. Antidotes, food, water, whatever you may need. But we will not send our people to act as your shield.”

A deep frown crossed Flurry’s muzzle. Unsatisfied with the answer, she pressed further. “We need to work together to stop them before they become more organized or, heavens help us, more numerous than they already are. You can’t honestly believe that they’ll just stop when they’re done with the Crystal Empire. It isn’t a matter of if they’ll attack your kingdom, but when. If you sit back and allow them to destroy your allies, then who will you call on when they turn their eye to your kingdom?” Lamellate seemed unmoved by her plea, but that didn’t dissuade her from continuing. “We understand that you don’t keep a standing army, but the swarm attacking us is just as you said, feral. They’re like animals, not soldiers. We could outfit volunteers with weapons and protective armor that would—”

“I said no,” Lamellate firmly spoke with a slight growl behind his words. “The ferals haven’t attacked us and I am not going to put our entire kingdom at risk by provoking them. Fighting has never been our way.”

Flurry narrowed her eyes slightly at him. She matched Lamellate’s harsh tone as she said, “Your way is to hide behind walls and watch your allies die then?”

“Flurry,” Cadance said as she looked to her daughter, sounding a bit shocked.

She briefly met her mother’s gaze, and then simply looked away, remaining silent.

A brief moment of silent tension lingered until Lamellate let out another loud sigh. “Seems I have worn out my welcome here, but our offer will remain.” His image made some motions with his hoof just in front of him as he said, “Contact me if you decide that your people need the supplies and they will be sent.” And with that, his image flickered and vanished.

A sobering silence settled in the room afterward. Although no one was speaking, they were all likely thinking the same thing. They were going to have to find a solution to this crisis on their own.

“Thorax would have helped us,” Flurry quietly said, drawing everyone’s attention to her. She was still staring off blankly to the side. “I wish he was still around.”

“Unfortunately, he is not,” Luna said from across the room.

Flurry raised her head and glanced around the room. A heavy sigh escaped her and she hung her head. “I’m sorry, I let my temper get the best of me.”

Cadance unfolded her wing and draped it over her daughter’s shoulders, hugging her close to her side. The gesture did manage to coax a small smile from her.

The low rumbling of Spike’s voice filled the room from the other side, sounding like it came from a being much larger than what his projection appeared to be. “You didn’t say anything that the rest of us weren’t thinking,” he said, following it up with a quick snort of smoke from his nostrils.

Flurry lifted her head and looked toward him. “Maybe. But Equestria is on its own now. They were the only ones we could ask to send help without it being suicide.”

“Hey, you still got us!” Spike said, thudding his balled fist against his chest a couple times causing a deep rumbling to echo through the room.

“Spike,” Flurry said as she smiled to him. “Your clan is part of Equestria. And of course, the Crystal Empire knows it can always count on one of its greatest heroes in times of need.”

“Still,” Twilight quickly spoke up, lifting one of her hooves and pointing it at Spike. “Remember that your dragons aren’t invincible, nor are they immune to the venom. Only you and the other elder dragons really stand a chance against this many, and honestly, I think it is still going to be too much.” Spike let out a somewhat defensive sounding short as he folded his arms across his chest again, but Twilight pressed further on her point. “A few ferals is nothing to you, Spike, but over a thousand of them? Enough bites get past your scales and you’d be drowning in your own blood just like any of us.”

Spike’s ear fins folded back slightly while he gnashed his teeth together. Though he didn’t verbally admit it, it was obvious that he knew Twilight was right. The feral swarm was a real danger even to the elder dragons of Equestria.

“So...,” Luna began, waiting until she had everyone’s attention before continuing. “What do we do about this? I seriously doubt we can just wait them out.”

There was a brief pause, then Celestia’s image took a single step forward. “If we can’t reason with them, then we face them with our combined might. It is the only choice they have left to us.” She looked across the room to Cadance and Flurry. “Will you two be able to defend the Empire until the rest of us arrive?”

“That... won’t be a problem,” Cadance said.

Twilight furrowed her brow. Something was wrong.

Luna must have sensed it as well, as she voiced the same question that had just crossed Twilight’s mind. “Why do I sense that there still is a problem?”

Cadance’s horn glowed briefly and the crystal in the room projected a scaled image of the entire Crystal Empire across the floor at Twilight’s hooves. Everyone else looked down to the floor in front of them as well. They would each be seeing the same projection before them at their own physical locations. “The swarm is coming in from the west,” Cadance said as she made a quick gesture with her hoof. The map zoomed out slightly and shifted to the right to reveal the snow-covered landscape of the Frozen North, and a glowing red circle appeared far to the left. “They’ll pass right over Snowden before reaching the Empire,” Cadance continued, making another motion with her hoof that caused an image of a small town to appear right beside of the Empire. “Or more likely, right through it,” she said through a sigh.

The Crystal Empire and much of the surrounding land was protected from most of the harsh blizzard conditions of the Frozen North thanks to the power of the Crystal Heart. The main city had become crowded as time had passed, and eventually, the small town of Snowden was founded in the temperate lands just west of the city when enough of the crystal ponies decided that they wanted a less crowded place to live.

Twilight tapped the side of her hoof to her chin while she studied the map. “How long until they reach the town?”

“A few hours. The cold has slowed them some, so maybe longer if we’re lucky,” Cadance said. She motioned with her hoof again and the map zoomed in on the border between Snowden and the Empire. “The eastern edge of Snowden is less than a ten minute gallop from the main city’s borders, but that’s the problem. It’s just too far. The ponies living in Snowden need to evacuate.”

Cadance was very gifted in shielding magic, and would easily be able to encompass the Crystal Empire in a protective shield like she had done in the past, but extending the radius of the shield further to attempt to cover both the Empire and Snowden would likely more than double the required surface area. Spreading the shield spell over such a wide area would weaken it to the point of being useless.

Celestia furrowed her brow and glanced up across the room. “There isn’t much time to prepare for a proper evacuation of an entire village.”

“No, there isn’t,” Flurry spoke up, shaking her head. “Considering most of the crystal ponies that live there can’t fly, and all of the ferals can, any ponies still trying to make it out of the town when they do show up... probably won’t make it.”

Luna reached up and placed a hoof on her sister’s shoulder, drawing her attention to her. “Even if we managed to arrive first, defending a town out in the open against a thousand ferals isn’t exactly to our advantage.”

Celestia closed her eyes and let out a heavy sigh and sadly nodded her head.

Twilight knew where this was going, and she didn’t like it. They were going to have to make a choice about Snowden. The Empire could send their guard force to attempt the evacuation, but there was the high possibility that they wouldn’t arrive in time to save everyone, and may even end up being casualties themselves. Defending the town was out of the question, but so would be abandoning the ponies that lived there. They had to think of something, and quickly. Time was already running short.

Flurry’s image took a step forward as she spoke up. “My mother and I will have to handle the evacuation and the Empire’s defense until the rest of you arrive. That’s the only option.” She turned slightly toward Cadance. “I have an idea on how we can do it without putting any of our ponies in danger.”

Everyone around the room appeared a bit surprised, if not hopeful. Cadance smiled at her daughter and nodded her head as she said, “Alright then, let’s hear it.”

“Mom, you’ll have to tune your shield to keep out the feral changelings, and there’s no reason to delay activating it. The ferals might send forward scouts.”

Cadance nodded in agreement.

Flurry placed a hoof against her chest as she continued to explain her plan. “I’ll fly to Snowden to get the evacuation started, and when I get there I’ll use a weather spell to stir up a blizzard west of town between us and the changeling swarm.”

“Of course,” Twilight said. “A blizzard would ice their wings, forcing them to the ground, or force them to go the long way around.” She glanced around the room, a smile growing on her muzzle. “Either way, it will help buy time for the evacuation and give us plenty of time to reach the Crystal Empire before the ferals do.”

Flurry’s image smiled back, but then she glanced to her side and noticed the concerned look on her mother’s face. Her smile slipped away almost immediately. “I know that look. What’s wrong with my idea?” she asked.

“It’s just that—” Cadance paused briefly when she caught the hard look that Flurry was giving her. She turned to fully face her daughter and reached one of her hooves out to rest it on her shoulder. “I’m not comfortable with the idea of sending you out there. I would rather you stay within the shielded area if at all possible.”

For a very brief moment, it appeared that Flurry was struggling to keep from scowling in response, managing only a slight flutter of her eyelids instead. “Do you really think there is somepony else in the Empire who can quickly fly out there to handle the evacuation and cast a more powerful blizzard than I can?”

“No, of course not. Your ability isn’t the issue here.” Flurry’s jaw clenched as her frustration noticeably grew, but her mother spoke quickly to try and defuse her anger. “Flurry, please understand. You don’t have much experience with real combat, not that that’s any fault of your own. The Crystal Empire has been at peace for centuries. But this new threat... you definitely have no experience with anything like this. We’d be sending you against an army of monstrous insects that could kill you if even a single one managed to bite you!”

Flurry’s ears fully pinned back against her head. She quickly gestured to her side at everyone that was gathered around the meeting. “Do any of us have experience with something like this?”

“O-okay, point taken,” Cadance said as she took a single step back and quickly glanced at the others around the room. It seemed she’d forgotten for a brief moment that the conversation wasn’t just between her and her daughter. “But, I still strongly suggest we explore a possibility that doesn’t put you alone against a feral changeling swarm.”

Flurry stared back at her mother, her mouth hanging slightly open. She slowly narrowed her eyes before shaking her head. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this. What other options could there even be?”

“I’m... not sure, but these creatures are extremely dangerous,” Cadance said as she continued her plea.

Flurry actually rolled her eyes at that comment. “Yes, I’ve noticed,” she grumbled.

A deep scowl suddenly flashed across Cadance’s muzzle. “We can’t just throw caution into the wind and assume you’ll be fine just because you’re an alicorn,” she said, her voice rising in volume.

“Do you really think I don’t understand the risk?” Flurry said, raising her voice to match her mother. Their faces were so close to one another that their horns were crossing, and it appeared that neither was about to back down while they continued to shout at each other. “This isn’t about what is safest for me. I’m not going to hide here and let our ponies die!” Flurry said, punctuating the last word with a solid stamp from one of her hooves.

Twilight glanced away from the two arguing alicorns to the others around the room. The rest appeared to be just as stunned as she was. While she could imagine that this wasn’t the only time that these two had ever had a heated mother-daughter disagreement before, they had never gotten into a shouting match with each other during a council meeting.

Cadance finally backed down, setting back on her haunches as she took in a long, deep breath. She closed her eyes as she slowly let the breath out. After taking a short moment to let her temper cool, she looked back up at her daughter and continued in a calmer tone. “Flurry, please,” she said as she reached out again and tentatively rest her fetlock against her daughter’s shoulder. “I know you want to help, but there has to be another way. I don’t want you out there.”

Flurry seemed to have cooled her own temper some as well, but she still had a stern look on her face. She briefly glanced at her mother’s hoof, and then looked her directly in the eyes. “Am I or am I not a member of this council?”

Cadance flinched almost as if she had been slapped. It took her a few seconds to find her voice again. “Of course you are—”

“Yes, for well over three centuries now,” Flurry interrupted. She wasn’t shouting, but the stern tone of her voice told that she was obviously still upset. She leaned in a step closer. “The moment that I mention personally doing something that might have a slight chance of danger, you want to simply discard my plan without putting it to a vote. I don’t recall there being a special rule that allows you to do that whenever you want.”

“Flurry, I’m simply looking out for your safety,” Cadance explained.

“We don’t have time to argue about this!” Flurry said, pulling away from her mother as she sat back on her haunches. She covered her face with her fetlocks, letting out a long muffled groan and then mumbling, “Don’t you think it a few hundred years too late to be treating me like a child?”

Cadance suddenly grasped Flurry firmly by her shoulders, startling her. “You are my child!” she shouted. She blinked her eyes a few times as tears began to build up and a pained expression flickered over her face. Her voice cracked as she said, “You will always be my child. Is it really so wrong for a mother to worry about her daughter?”

Flurry was looking like she immediately regretted what she had said. Her ears were folded back flat against her head while her eyes avoided looking directly at her mother. She finally took a deep breath to calm herself and reached up to take her mother’s forehooves in her own. She looked Cadance in the eyes and shook her head. “No, it’s not. But, trying to keep me here means forsaking thousands of lives. That is wrong.”

Cadance ears dropped and a quiet whimper escaped her, but she otherwise remained silent while her daughter spoke.

“We don’t have another plan. I know you don’t like it, and honestly, I’m not exactly thrilled about going out there either. But we’re the only two that our ponies have to protect them right now. If we send our soldiers to delay these ferals instead it will take too long. Anyone still in Snowden when the ferals arrive will be slaughtered. We have to do something about it ourselves now.” Flurry reached up one of her forehooves and gently used her fetlock to wipe away the few tears that were clinging to her mother’s cheek. “You’re needed here to defend the Empire, so that leaves me to head to Snowden.”

Cadance leaned her face against her daughter’s forehoof and let out a heavy sigh. “I can’t explain it, but I just have a horrible feeling about this. These ferals have been so unpredictable, and they’re killing anyone they get their fangs into.”

“Hey,” Flurry said, putting on a smile. “I’m not going out there to get into a hoof fight with a thousand changelings. The blizzard will hold them far away from the town. I won’t even see one of them. By the time the blizzard clears up, all the ponies in Snowden will be evacuated and safe beneath the shield, and everyone will be here to help us. Right?” She looked to the rest of the council members as she asked the question.

“Right,” Twilight responded with a firm nod. She turned to address all the members of the council. “I’m sure all of you can guess what my vote is. We need to move quickly, and Flurry’s plan should buy us the time we need to head north so we can deal with this threat together. I plan to fly there as fast as I can as soon as we’re done here. My vote is to continue with Flurry’s plan.”

Spike struck his fist against his chest causing a deep rumble to echo through the projection once more. “I agree. We can’t spend all day looking for another way. I’ll bring a couple of our best with me. We’ll meet you halfway there, Twi.”

“My sister and I won’t be that far behind,” Celestia added, glancing down to Luna who nodded back to her.

“See?” Flurry asked as she looked back to her mother. “Once they’re all here, everything will be okay. We’ll figure this out together.”

Cadance looked as if she were exhausted, allowing her ears to droop and her shoulders to slump. “I know. I’m overreacting,” she said as she slowly shook her head. But she quickly followed it up by pointing a hoof at her daughter and squinting her eyes as she said, “But I’m your mother, so I get to do that.” Though she tried to maintain a serious expression, a hint of a smile was managing to creep in at the edges of her mouth.

“I know,” Flurry said with a small laugh. She leaned forward and embraced her mother fully as they wrapped their wings around each other. “I promise I’ll be careful,” she said quietly. They sat there in the embrace for a few seconds longer before Flurry pulled away and stood. “Now, I need to get going. Every minute I wait here is one less our ponies have to evacuate.”

“Be safe,” Cadance said as she stood and took a quick step forward. She leaned in and gave Flurry a quick kiss and nuzzle on the side of her muzzle, then took a step back. “I’ve always been proud of you.”

Flurry smiled and then turned to walk away. Her image flickered and vanished when she left the range of the projection crystal’s magic.

“We’ll be there as fast as we can, Cadance,” Twilight said. When she saw Cadance look to her and give her a weary smile, she added, “Don’t worry, we’re going to beat this together.”