• Published 30th Jan 2015
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The Bridesmaids - Meep the Changeling



The story behind Lyra, Colgate, and Twinkleshine winding up mind controlled beneath Canterlot is far more complex than most ponies think.

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The Astrophysicist

Author's Note:

Hey everyone! Just a brief message here asking you guys to please comment your opinions on my work after you read it. Reader feedback is very much appreciated, and helps me write stories that are even better in the future.

If you find any major spelling or grammar errors please PM them to me with the error, where it is int he story, and the correction and I will fix them. The exception is with character dialogue, people do not usually speak in grammatically correct sentences. Assume that's just how ___ chose to say it.

With all that out of the way, enjoy!

Twinkleshine / Meep

Some ponies believe it would be a sort of vacation to be somepony else for a while. That stepping into another life and getting away from all of their own problems and social obligations would be relaxing. This could not be further from the truth. Being somepony else is exhausting. You have to remember exactly who the pony you are impersonating is, how they should act at all times, and always take great care to be them and not you. At least, I have to whenever I am somepony else.

My name is Meep. It may not look or sound like much but it's as close as modern Equestrian can get to the proper pronunciation of my name. It's a very old name you see, a very old Changelish name. I'm not a pony, but I pretend to be one.

I am a changeling. Even today most ponies I know consider my people monsters. It's understandable, plenty of the hives are still downright barbaric in how they feed. Religion can make anyling see anyone besides themselves as prey instead of a person. Many of us are only happy to drain a pony dry and leave them a vegetable. Pure barbarism if you ask me. Besides, taking in ambient emotional energy or just taking a little for yourself provides for a far more refined flavor.

Despite the risk of discovery and the high likelihood of a resulting execution, I have chosen to live among ponykind. I have lived with them for a long time. A very long time. Longer than all but two ponies I know of have lived in fact. Five lifetimes, a full three hundred and eighty-four years. I'm not immortal or some special type of changeling. I'm just an ordinary worker. I learned an old trick which lets me have a shape I assume age instead of me. I do not age, my chosen form does. It's possibly the most important skill I know, which is saying something considering the skills I have learned and created over the years.

Most ponies would assume I was crazy if they knew the reason I have for prolonging my life. The reason behind the cycle of fake deaths, forged immigration papers, and aggravating trips through various universities. It's not that I am afraid to die or some sort of immortal guardian. It's not that I vowed to watch over someone's family line or something heroically noble. It's a purely selfish, stupid reason.

I want to know everything there is to know about the stars. Or rather, the stars, the place they call home, and everything else within the endless bounds of space. Barring accidents, I will not allow myself to die until I know all I desire to.

That's right I'm a scientist, an astrophysicist to be specific. The first astrophysicist if you want me to be precise. I wrote the book on the motion of the planets in our system, literally. Well, technically I did, according to history a pegasus named Laughing Village wrote it but she was in fact me. She was my first 'life' if you will.

I've come a long way since I was her, I set the ball rolling as Laughing, and each of my lives has helped push that ball further and further along with everypony else whose worked in the field ever since. I haven't done all the work of course. I'm not a genius, I'm just someling with all the time in the world to figure things out. But I did invent a few important things along the way.

Calculus, the reflecting telescope, the equations used to track stellar moments, the means to make an effective liquid fueled rocket, and most recently the radio telescope. All of those discoveries are my contribution to the world. I've also collaborated with many other ponies of course. Not to mention how many ponies have based their work off my own.

Those achievements mean almost everything to me. I don't seek to be famous or anything. Only one of my lives was a celebrity scientist. Since nopony knows the truth about me I actually get no recognition for my achievements. It would be nice to be known for what I really am. Nonetheless, I am happy simply learning what I have yearned to know ever since I was just a nymph. I have never paused or even taken a break from this quest of mine. Not even when I have tried to ironically enough.

This life was meant to be a break. It's tiring, the constant act of being someone different from who I was for the last 80 or so years. When my last life the 'Father of Space Flight' (better known as Brainy von Brawn) began to die, I realized how tired I was. The amount of work that it would take to reestablish an identity was not something I was willing to do.

I would need to be a late teenager again and work my way through a university. I would have to fight the institution to once more earn a PHD the field I pioneered and still practice. All the while unable to simply test my way through the ranks lest that be a clue as to my deception. So I did the sensible thing. I decided to take a vacation.

Twinkleshine was meant to be that vacation. I was going to be a normal mare who stargazed as a hobby and had a job selling plants or something. I would live a normal life. For once I would have fun with my knowledge instead of applying it all the time.

I still don't know how I messed that up. Maybe it's the established routine, or maybe I just love those twinkling specs too much. More likely it was anger at Celestia for raising the sun every single day just before I could get a clear view of one particular star. That star is a particularly large part of my current life, I wouldn't be in the same position if I had never noticed it.

It's a very beautiful star to an astronomer. A lovely G-type mane-sequence star positioned in the night sky just a hair over the horizon right where Celestia's sun comes up and only visible seconds before dawn. For just five minutes a day you can get a descent look at it, then the sun's light blinds you to it's beauty, even the light of the moon blots it out until that key moment when the moon is set but Celestia has yet to raise her sun. I've done a lot of looking over many years during those five minutes.

At first my infatuation with the star was my usual curiosity of this rare star. But that swiftly turned to wonder and awe for that unique light within the heavens. That simple yellow star moves, and not just as the rest of the stars do. While it does participate in the procession of the equinox just like all the others, it also moves with its own pattern. At first I thought it might have a companion, a second star close by to share the universe with, but this was not the case. The star has a very slight orbit around a point a short distance outside it's center, as if something with enough mass to pull at the star itself orbits it.

I firmly believed the star's wobble indicated something huge. The idea of planets existing beyond the Celestial system is nothing new, but no pony has found proof of them. If I was right not only had I found proof of exoplanets existence, but I had also discovered a heliocentric system of planets. That would naturally revolutionize the field of Astrophysics.

Seeking proof of my theory I wrote several dozen letters to the Canterlot Royal Observatory, as Twinkleshine of course. After they dismissed my findings I wrote instead to Princess Celestia herself. Fortunately enough, not only did she read my letter, she kindly delayed sunrise for a half hour so I could get a good look. Unfortunately those minutes were a one shot. Apparently the sun can't be delayed on a regular basis in the name of sky shattering scientific discoveries. Those few minutes did nothing to help but I was able to take a nice photo through my telescope.

When Princess Luna returned I decided to write her instead. I assumed the Princess of the Night would understand the need for my work. Along with my letter I included a full list of studies preformed by my past lives in the hopes that discovering ponykind learned to love her night while she was away would sway her mood into my favor. While it did get her to write back to me, nothing came of it. Apparently Luna returned in name only with zero power in the political arena.

She was just the mare at the helm of the moon, but not her captain. A damn shame. For me this meant a sorrowful reply stating Princess Luna could do nothing as the cycle of day and night was a mater of “profound importance to my sister, Equestria, and the peasantry.” In that moment I conceited once more assuming the form of Night Flair the Science Mare, marching into the palace, and challenging Celestia to a duel to defend science's honor. But that idea lasted minutes before I saw all the problems with it.

I really should have let everything go then, but I just couldn't. I am an astrophysicist and there was the discovery of my current life to be made! With no conventional means of acquiring the data I needed, I began to ponder the problem in every spare moment I had. Eventually I came across a book by professor Bright Idea wherein he detailed his observations on the electromagnetic spectrum.

While reading it I realized that given visible light and radio waves were part of the same thing, they were thus mathematically convertible from one to the other. With some minor effort on my part it would be possible to construct a device which viewed radio waves and converted them into a visible image. A sort of radio telescope if you will.

Engineering the device was a simple task, all the parts existed in different devices already. The hard part was working out the size and shape of the parabolic reflector and the amount of power to use in the device to ensure a small dish could do the job. After all, I didn't have the funding of a great and powerful scientist this time. It took me four months, seven thousand or so bits of my own money, and more cursing than I can recall, but I did it. I created a telescope which could operate during the bright of day, and still give a clear image as if it were the blackest of nights.

Then out of pure drummed in reflex, I mailed my project notes, blueprints, and photographs of the prototype to the Royal Canterlot Institution for the Sciences for peer review. Suddenly Twinkleshine was an engineering genius! Everypony wanted me to sign on with their college, accept their scholarships, grants, and promises of private tutoring. Teams of scientists were clambering to get me on board after I had a proper education. Everything I didn't want this time around jumped right out at me, and started clawing for my brain like an eagle after a fish.

I stuck it out for as long as I could. I kept up a happy mask, ignored the intellectuals and explained that I was happy with my life. This was supposed to be my life to break from the grind, and love the stars for what they are. I had the patience of a changeling who has had five whole lives. I would outlast the sudden interest in my abilities on part of the academic world! I made it four whole months.

I came home one day to find my roommate Colgate fending off a hoard of journalists with a broom for a spear and a stool for a shield. I knew that I couldn't stay in the city any longer. Colgate and I talked it over, and after weighing our options decided to stick together and move to Ponyville.

Ponyville was the best decision I had made in Shine's life. Colgate loved the change of pace as well. She even got a promotion as the local dentist had recently lost a doctor, and Cole had enough experience for the job. As for me, well, money hasn't been a problem since I was Night Flair. Savings accounts with compound deposits are wonderful things for a person of my age.

What made Ponyville especially wonderful was the relaxed pace, the rustic atmosphere with special hints of modernity everywhere, the low light pollution, and best of all the vast ocean of love, kindness, and joy for me to feast upon. I had the changeling equivalent of a sugar high for the first three months until I finally got used to it all. Thank goodness we don't get fat! Or get diabetes for that matter, I would have died from so many health problems in the first month.

There were a few bumps in the road here and here of course. There was the fiasco with Princess Celestia's pet bird going missing, Discord's return, Twilight hypnotizing of half the town, Twilight's dragon friend's kaiju moment, and the other incident involving a dragon. But it was all spaced out over such a long time as to make these disasters bearable, and perhaps just a little bit fun. Just enough trouble to shake up the status quo, and happening rarely enough to be an almost welcome break from the routine.

In fact, just for fun I was beginning to develop an equation for determining when these disasters would strike. Which is why when my best friends Lyra, Bonnie, Octavia, and Vinyl invited Colgate and I to help with Princess Cadence's wedding in Canterlot next week I just knew it was going to turn into a disaster of the Ponyville kind.

It all started when my circle of friends and I were at Vinyl and Octavia's house on a typical Friday evening. It was a time reserved on all of our schedules for the single most important activities any five ponies could ever do. Something we had done ever since the five of us met in high school. Something nopony else could do. Something magical.

Or at least we would be if Vinyl hadn't had to go pick up the pizzas, leaving us in limbo and opening up a moment for the others to try to wrangle me into doing something.

“I don't want to be a bridesmaid Lyra.” I sighed for the twelfth time.

“Ah come on! We will get to see all our old friends from high school. Most of them still live in Canterlot!” Lyra reminded.

I sighed, slapping one hoof to my forehead, “Lyra... I didn't have any other friends in high school. I was the new girl and a nerd.”

Lyra frowned, her golden eyes giving me a confused look. “But... but you are like... Tavi how did you put it?”

Octavia smiled as she remembered what apparently had been a joke about me. “I believe I said that you are equal to a nanopie. A unit of friendliness equivalent to one millionth of Pinkie Pie.”

I chuckled, “I would say more like one point three-four micropies, I can't compete with someone who's a kilopie on her own scale. But seriously, you guys are my only friends. If I added more to the circle I wouldn't have time for anything else.”

“Oh.” Lyra exclaimed looking over to her wife for help.

Bon-bon sighed, “Lyra, we both know we will never get Shine to do anything she doesn't want to.”

“But I want all five of us to go!” Lyra wined, stamping a hoof against the floor.

Colgate gave me a look, one of those weird sad, kind, hopeful looks. They always weird me out, I've never figured out exactly why. “Shine... All we want is to go on a vacation together. I know that princesses and weddings are not your thing, but we get luxury suites in the castle. It will have some fun parts to it, besides remember Pony Joe's? There will be plenty of time between recitals.”

Pony Joe's. I remembered Pony Joe's. Changelings don't get any nutrients from solid foods, but we can still eat them. Besides, a long term stay in a different form means you have to keep that body fed. Those doughnuts Joe made were almost enough to make me say yes, but still, I really really didn't want to go. “I call foul play! That's like saying 'we should go because it rains bits there.' Besides, you remember why we moved. Right Cole?”

“Oh for heaven's sake!” Octavia exclaimed, “You can put up with professors asking you to attend their classes for one week. Besides, you would learn something if-”

“Ahem!” I interrupted, turning to Tavi and stating, “Luna's moon's orbital parameters are best expressed by an equation where T is equal to-”

Octavia held up a hoof quickly, “Ok, you made your point. You don't need to give us all a lecture on orbital mechanics. Again.”

“Astrodynamics.” I protested, giving Octavia a hurt look.

“You're not derailing this one!” Lyra exclaimed, jumping between Octavia and I. “Will you be a bridesmaid with Cole and I or not?”

Suddenly the door at the top of the stairs flew open, Vinyl's blue magic aura lighting up the wooden steps which descended into the basement, “Ah yeah everypony! The 'zah has arrived!”

“Yes!” I exclaimed, “Saved by food!”

Lyra turned and shot Vinyl a look, “Go back upstairs until I convince Shine to go to Canterlot with us!”

Vinyl stopped, frowning slightly and presumably giving her a confused look from behind her amethyst sunglasses. “What?”

“I had her cornered but you interrupted her before I could make her agree!” Lyra pouted.

Vi pushed her glasses up so we could see her eyes roll. “Lyra, that's not how you make her do things.”

Vinyl walked down the stairs and set the three pizza boxes on the edge of the large table in the room's center. Once the boxes were set down she turned to me with a critical look, “Don't want to hang with us? That's cool. You know I'm not going to do the whole maid thing right? I'm booked to do the reception. It would be cool if somepony laid down some fresh vocals for me to remix live. Maybe shred a riff or two.”

I groaned, back in high school I had helped Vinyl build her first turntable, her performances always created an incalculable amount of love. Performing with her directed some of that feast of appreciation towards me. I hadn't done a big crowd with her in a year. I could practically taste it already. “... Ah Tartarus... Fine I'll go.”

“Yay!” Lyra exclaimed, bouncing joyously for a few molments until Bon-bon trotted over and put an arm on her back.

“It will be fun to have a vacation together for once.” she said smiling at Lyra's antics.

Colgate nodded, “Yeah. It will be like spring break back in ninety-three.”

I couldn't remember that date. It seemed important though. I frowned, trying to remember exactly what happened back then but Vinyl banged her hoof on the tabletop. “Right, that's settled. Everypony to the table. We got thing's to do.”

We all gathered around the table with Vinyl on one side, and everypony else in a half circle facing her. Vi levitated a small folding cardboard screen onto the table, set it down, and then placed a few small odds and ends behind it. The rest of us set up our own equipment. Pencil, documents, dice, figurines. Everything was set.

With a nod from Vinyl, Lyra dimmed the lights plunging the basement gaming room into a pleasant dim, mood setting glow. Vinyl slid her shades down over her eyes and at the same time levitated a dark brown hooded cloak over her head. With her face hidden in shadows, her eyes two shining amethysts in the darkness, she intoned, “The Champions of Mossflower have become a celebrated name in all the woodlands since your defeat of Lord Sharpclaw. The woodlands once again feel free to walk through the hills and dales of Mossflower Woods. But all is not well.

Travelers coming from the north insist the roads are still quite dangerous, plagued with all manner of vermin, brigands, and corsairs. What's more Lord Sharpclaw's last words still echo fresh in your minds, 'My brother shall tear your still beating hearts from your chest.' Half of your task still awaits you brave warriors.”

Vinyl levitated a small piece of paper to Lyra, “Lyra, word of your heroics reached Salamandastron. Your former commanding officers have sent you a new saber to replace your old one. Here's the stats.”

Lyra looked at the paper and beamed, exclaiming in her character's voice and mannerisms, “My stars! Wot a flaming good toadsticker! Plenty a vermin will see their end upon this blade. Prefect for backstabbing, wot wot!”

We winced at her accent. Nopony had the heart to tell her how bad it was. Especially since she was the only one of us who enjoyed playing the rogue. Vi's games absolutely needed a party with a rogue.

“Colgate, the Abbot has granted Riverbend the title of Abby Champion. You are given Martin's blade to carry. Use it well.” Vi continued, passing a slip of paper to her as she spoke.

Colgate looked at the paper, eyes widening instantly. “Are you serious? A plus five keen longsword with mighty cleaving and a special property allowing me to ignore auto fails on ones? Really?”

Vinyl flashed a smile, “Hey we have all read the books. Tell me that's not accurate. Besides, have I ever given you loot which broke a game?”

Cole shook her head, “Point... Just seems a little extreme at this level is all.”

“If Vi gave it, we'll need it.” I said giving Cole a long look, “The Thunder Dome.”

Cole winced. I'm sure she remembered what it took to get beyond the Thunder Dome. “Right... Um... Let's pick up some healing supplies.” Cole said quickly.

Vinyl passed the rest of us a small note each, “You all are given well made haversacks fully loaded up with food, medicine, and traveling supplies. While your friends say it's a shame you cannot rest, they agree you must liberate the north from the wildcat's twin. You have just said your goodbyes and are standing on the path facing north. Dare you venture forth?”

The four of us grinned, “We dare!” we said in unison.

“After all, no D&D adventure has broken us yet.” I added with a chuckle.

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