• Published 1st Aug 2015
  • 2,459 Views, 166 Comments

An Interesting Arrival - Moongaze14

Retirement in Equestria is harder than expected. Even in such a peaceful land, Statice finds that his new life can be just as stressful as his old one, especially after getting in the bad side of a certain purple alicorn princess and her friends.

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Daily Life

Daily Life

The next day was pretty much the same routine as before, except that Discord didn't show up. As much as Statice hated to admit it, he missed Discord. The draconequus was the only living soul that visited him and with whom he shared his past. He was the only being that understood him with Digitalis gone and Meadow Tails too far away to talk. The day was pretty much boring as Statice was forced to do calisthenics to spend his time. Even worse, the Crusaders did not visit him so Statice spent the day pretty much sleeping out of boredom.

No wonder Twilight made friendship her shtick. Being alone is unbearable once you've had somepony by your side for too long!

The following day was the same... and the next one after that. By the fourth day, he received a visit from the Crusaders, more precisely from Sweetie Belle, with her other two friends acting as moral support. She wanted some tips on how to improve her levitation spell. She had talked with Twilight about what she had learned from him on their previous meeting. Statice was afraid at first because he thought that she may have given away his existence to Twilight, but he relaxed when Sweetie Belle informed him that she had told Twilight that she learned it from a magic book that she read at the library…before it was destroyed. Statice was relieved that his secret was still safe and pleasantly surprised that his magic knowledge had been correct when Twilight verified the theory. He still felt pretty bad for Sweetie Belle, who had to spend an extra hour of Twilight Time learning about magic tone, strength, and endurance from the perfectionist scholar. Despite this, he was satisfied with the filly wanting to learn from him, at least a little.

Guess that means I'm a better teacher than Twilight, at least when it comes to being fun to have around.

“We’re gonna start with a mental exercise to develop your focus,” Statice began as he used Hammerspace to bring a chocolate cupcake onto his hoof. The Crusaders looked in awe at the pastry.

“Are you going to teach me how to summon cupcakes?” Sweetie Belle asked with stars in her eyes.

“I hope he does,” Scootaloo licked her lips as she looked at the cupcake.

“Ah wonder if he can summon apple treats,” Apple Bloom wondered. Although she liked sweets, she was still a devoted lover of apples.

I should've picked a better, less distracting choice... Statice took a deep breath to calm down. “Imagine that everything around you is pitch-black and that the only visible thing you see is the cupcake that I am holding,” he instructed as he placed the cupcake in front of the Crusaders.

“How do I do that?” Sweetie Belle tilted her head in confusion. “I see many colors all the time, so I don’t know how to turn them black.”

“Close your eyes and just visualize the cupcake in the darkness that you see,” Statice rolled his eyes at having to deal with such distraction.

“But if you close your eyes then how are you gonna see in the first place?” Scootaloo asked as she rubbed her head. Thinking about what the green unicorn said gave her a headache.

“Wait a second,” Apple Bloom told Scootaloo. “Ah think that you’re gettin’ it wrong. You can still see with yer eyes closed. It’s just that the only thing that ya see is darkness.”

“You can still see darkness with your eyes open!” Scootaloo countered. “Turn off the lights and you’ll see darkness.”

“You can still see darkness when you close your eyes too,” Apple Bloom pushed her head to Scootaloo’s. “In fact, darkness and seein’ nothin’ look kind of the same whether ya have yer eyes open or closed!”

Statice was about to tell the fillies to shut up, only to remember a similar case back when he was a foal. Statice had been very young when he left Hobuck to start a new life and he needed to learn insanely fast if he was to survive. Digitalis made sure to teach Statice everything he knew to ensure that his younger friend was capable of surviving whatever fate threw at them. The learning process was very hard as Digitalis was unsure on how to teach and Statice was too easily distracted to learn. It took months of extensive tutelage for them to find an excellent teaching and learning dynamic.

So that's how Digi must have felt like when he was trying to educate me...

Remembering those moments made Statice feel bad for causing so much trouble for Digitalis and a little ashamed for thinking of yelling at the Crusaders. He decided to continue his teaching and ignore the argument Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were having behind them. He was going to focus on Sweetie Belle.

“Did you focus on the cupcake?” Statice asked pleasantly as he noticed Sweetie Belle had her eyes closed.

“I can see it,” Sweetie Belle smiled. “I just closed my eyes and imagined the cupcake where you left it.”

“Light your horn with magic and imagine that magic surrounding the cupcake,” Statice instructed, his eyes alternating between Sweetie Belle’s horn and the objective in front of her.

“I’m trying,” Sweetie Belle concentrated as her horn lit with magic. Statice shifted his eyes to the cupcake and was satisfied to see it being covered in green magic. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo stopped their argument to watch in awe, but Statice gestured them not to talk or say anything else with a glare and wave of his hoof.

“Imagine the cupcake moving to the left, then to the right, up, down, and back to the center again,” Statice told him, watching in satisfaction as the cupcake moved in the exact same directions as he told her to move it.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were smiling with glee at their friend’s progress. She was doing levitation with her eyes closed! Statice noticed their joy and gave them a smirk, gesturing them to be quiet.

“Now extend your hoof and imagine it in the darkness with the cupcake,” Statice instructed as he watched Sweetie Belle extend her foreleg. “Imagine that the cupcake is flying towards you…only to stop and lower itself onto your outstretched hoof.”

Sweetie Belle did as she was told. She imagined the cupcake getting closer to her and then resting on her hoof. She knew that she did her trial right when she felt the weight of the cupcake resting on top of her hoof. It was as if she was literally holding a real cupcake on her hoof.

“I think I did it!” Sweetie Belle smiled softly. “I think that I can feel the cupcake on my hoof. It feels surprisingly heavy for an imaginary cupcake.”

Her friends giggled behind her before Statice spoke. “Open your eyes, Sweetie Belle,” he gently told her, feeling proud for her accomplishment.

Sweetie Belle did as she was told and was surprised to see the real cupcake resting on her hoof. She turned her head to her friends, who were giving her congratulatory smiles, and then to Statice, who seemed content with her development. Sweetie Belle gave a shriek of celebration at her accomplishment, making the other three ponies cover their ears. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were smiling out of joy for their friend. Statice, on the other hoof, was grimacing and rubbing his ears.

How is it that this kid's special talent is not being a living siren?

“I think Sweetie Belle is part banshee,” Statice muttered in an inaudible voice that sounded like noiseless mouthing. He felt a pair of hooves wrapping around his neck as he let go off his ears to look at Sweetie Belle.

“Thank you so much for the lesson, Static!” Sweetie Belle nuzzled Statice’s cheek with her own before kissing it. ‘

“You’re welcome,” Statice gave her a curt nod. “Try to practice this on a daily basis and you’ll notice that your levitation skills are better than ever.”

Sweetie Belle left the Everfree Forest with a bounce on her step. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo left as well, but not before they gave Statice a goodbye hug.

“Thank you for helpin’ Sweetie Belle, Static!” Apple Bloom finished her hug.

“Yeah!” Scootaloo exclaimed as she ate the cupcake that Sweetie Belle had levitated. Sweetie Belle didn’t want to eat it and neither did Statice so she took it for herself as she didn’t want it to go to waste. “I think it’s awesome that Sweetie Belle is getting some help with her magic.”

“Any time, girls,” Statice told them in a welcoming tone. “I’ll be there for you any time that you need my help.”

Anytime didn’t come soon enough. The next two days were boring as neither Discord nor the Crusaders showed up to his lair. Statice just kept the same routine that he did since his fight with Discord. How was he going to apologize to the draconequus if Discord kept avoiding him? He had time to plan his apology, but every second of boring wait either made Statice forget about it or debate with himself on rather he should plan an apology or just improvise one from the heart.

I’m running out of options. I can’t get outside. I already tried all the options inside here. I only have one thing to try.

“I better check on my Euphoria Spell,” Statice sighed in a defeated tone.

The Euphoria Spell was a spell that Statice designed to deal with negative emotions when there was no way to cheer him up. It made Statice feel happy and relaxed by making everything around him look and sound funny. The only downside is that it made him stupid and that was something that he was never supposed to be in his previous life. He had used the spell only in vacations so he wasn’t fully sure on all the effects the spell had on him.

“Only one way to find out,” Statice declared as he released the spell. His vision became blurry as the spell was done. He swore that his hoof looked like it was made from tiny little dots.

“Is it just me…or is everything…like made of many… tiny little dots?” Statice asked to nopony in particular. He spoke the words slowly and with some difficulty, feeling the adverse effects of his spell affecting him and not caring at all.

“That’s dot of my concern,” Discord answered as he popped into view. He looked like he was back to his old self, but he looked a little too submissive, almost wary of him.

The green unicorn tried to say something, only to burst into laughter. “You replaced ‘not’ with ‘dot’! That was hilarious! You’re a good at this, Discord!”

“It wasn’t that good of a joke, Statice!” Discord replied with a confused expression at his friend’s behavior. “And explaining the joke does nothing but take the fun away from it. Anyway, I came here to have a talk with you.”

“Discord is being the straight pony!” Statice erupted in harder laughter. “Now I’ve seen it tall! Say it again, but with an angry face.”

“I can be serious as well!” Discord complained in a whinny tone. He only got the green unicorn to laugh at him again.

“You’re the best, Discord hallucination! But I don’t think that Discord will ever act the same way you do. Now that I think about it, I must add hallucinations to the list of side effects to the Euphoria Spell.”

“That’s the Euphoria Spell?” Discord asked in surprise. He had read about it on Statice’s Archive but he never imagined how powerful the effect was going to be on the green stallion.

“Hall-you-she-nation is written with or without an h?” Statice asked as he rubbed his head with a hoof. “I can’t think well while under this spell. Maybe I am supposed to write that on that section of the Euphoria Spell.”

“Slurred speech,” Discord observed in a dry tone. Normally, he’d enjoy having conversations with anypony with that problem. It made every sentence funnier than what they were meant to be. With Statice, hearing him talk like that just felt unnatural…and he was the expert in being unnatural! “And for the record, hallucination does carry an h at the beginning of the word…and that h is pronounced silently as well.”

“How do I know that you’re not lying to me?” Statice asked with suspicion, or at least the equivalent of suspicion that was possible to show in his loopy state. “You’re the Spirit of Dis-harmonica! For all I care, you’re just trying to make me write the word incorrectly and then make fun of me for misspelling it.”

Discord gasped in offense. “I would never do that to a friend!” he exclaimed indignantly before getting pensive. “Well, I could do it to Twilight, but I’m not sure if I can put her in such position when she probably memorized every word in the dictionary.”

“Nerd,” Statice chuckled. “What kind of sad, pathetic lifestyle a pony must have if she actually bothers to learn all the words of a dictionary?”

“One who at least was happy about her life,” Discord snapped at him. Though he liked Statice and understood that he was not in his best state of mind, he was not going to allow him to insult Twilight after she had forgiven him for his betrayal.

“Now that hurts my feelings!” Statice gave Discord a smile that looked…broken. He was still grinning dumbly at the draconequus, but his eyes were glistening a little bit with hurt.

“Well, I’m sorry,” Discord rubbed the back of his head in awkwardness. “You hurt my feelings the last time we met so I am a little testy.”

“OH!” Statice exclaimed in surprise. “That de-minds me, I prepared an apology exclusively for you during the time you were accent, I mean absent.”

“You did?” Discord asked in surprise. He never expected the unicorn to apologize for what had happened between them.

“Sure,” Statice stared at Discord in the eye. “After our fight, I met with the Crusaders and talked about our problems, without letting them know it was us, and they told me that we are supposed to talk about how we hurt each other’s feelings.”

“They did?” Discord asked in surprise for the second time. He never thought the Cutie Mark Crusaders were this perceptive in friendship troubles. Either their time with Twilight Sparkle made them more mature or they were more mature than their older sisters thought they were.

“This is going to be very hard, Dish-cord,” Statice informed him as he regained a serious frown on his face although with his slurry speech still apparent. “I’m not the type of pony that apologizes because I think that I am right. You do have a problem with not taking things seriously.”

“Worst apology ever,” Discord huffed at Statice. He was going to leave before Statice decided to continue with his apology…or at least that poorly made attempt to apologize.

“If you were in a fight and you captured a supersonic pegasus like Rainbow Dash in your hands or a unicorn that can make her legs move at the speed of light with a spell, chances are that you’ll get to kiss their hooves thousands of times in one second before you have the chance to say a word. That’s how easily dish-tracted you can get once you think that you won a fight.”

Discord cringed at Statice’s words. That didn’t sound like an apology. It sounded more like an insult. It wasn’t only that, but the scenarios that he mentioned were indeed quite painful when he thought about them. He didn’t feel like getting kicked thousand times in the face in less than a second. He was sure that even with his magic there was no way to repair whatever damage he may receive with that kind of attack. Statice noticed his expression and softened his frown.

“However, I only said those hurtful things because I care about you. I don’t know how to inform some-bunny of their flaws so when I tell them I end up sounding harsher than what I meant to be. I c-care about you and sometimes when you care about somepony your words can turn hurtful at times. What I am trying to say is that I am sorry for hurting you. I was only trying to help you to learn when to be she-cereal.”

Discord stared at Statice, watching as the unicorn yawned and looked at him silently, expecting him to say something. His apology was not what he expected. To be honest, even when Statice tried to sound comprehensive, it still sounded harsh and a little messed up. Despite this, he saw the sincerity in Statice’s eyes. He really meant what he said. The unicorn cared about him.

“I’ve heard better apologies,” Discord finally answered. “It pales in comparison with any other apologies I’ve ever heard, such as the one I gave Twilight after she saved me from Tirek despite my betrayal.”

“Jerk,” Statice giggled. He choked a little bit in laughter and annoyance.

“But I can see that you’re just as new in being a friend as I am so I accept your apology,” Discord smiled as he extended his lion paw in a friendly hoof shake.

Statice smiled as he extended a foreleg and gave Discord’s paw a shake. “Let’s celebrate with some laugher!” He lighted his horn with magic and casted the Euphoria Spell again, this time including Discord in the party.

The pair spent the rest of the day laughing and talking about their misadventures and former escapades. It felt good for both of them to talk about those incidents without having somepony to judge them. It was probably the most fun that they ever had in a conversation. By the time that Discord left, it was clear that they were back in good terms now.

“I’ll see you later, Statice!” Discord promised, walking with a clumsy step before disappearing with a finger snap.

“You’re welcome to come back,” Statice called after him, ignoring the fact that the draconequus had already disappeared. Out of the two, he was the least affected by the spell now, mainly because he had used the spell on himself so many times that he had learned to tolerate the effects in a shorter time than others who were under the same conditions as him.

“Well it was a nice day,” Statice spoke to nopony in particular. His voice was no longer slurry, but he was still feeling optimistic because of the spell. His reconciliation with Discord only cemented the effects of the spell.

Statice went on to sleep happily for the rest of the night. No hidden doubts or complications inside his mind kept him awake longer than necessary. He just closed his eyes, waited a few minutes, and he was back in the numbing darkness that expected him by the end of the day.

Later that night, a lone figure was flying across the skies of Equestria. It was a new moon, a lunar phase on which the moon was at its darkest. Other than the stars, there was no way to see anything in the sky under this type of nights. Anypony could lift their heads into the sky and they’d be barely able to recognize anything flying into the sky. Still, although fliers could not be seen from below, this didn’t mean that they could see well from above. New moon nights were the darkest on Equestria, whether on land or sky. The only way it was safe for anypony to fly in the night was to have excellent nocturnal vision or have equipment for such conditions. For the stranger that was flying so late, the darkness was no longer a trouble for his eyes…not anymore.

He sniffed at the air, trying to find the scent that he had been tracking for months. It had been so long since he had seen his target. It had managed to escape him after their last encounter turned into a huge brawl. But he had gotten used to its scent so it was going to be easy to find his prey.

That scent was foul, not as foul as it was when he had first smelled it, but it still lingered on his nostrils. As long as that stench kept following his target, he was bound to find it.

“I will find you, Statice,” the stranger promised. “You will pay for what you took from me if it’s the last thing that I’ll do.”

The next morning was entertaining for Statice. He woke up in a better mood, one so great that he gave Discord an unusual petition.

“You want me to help you turn into Aster again to spend another day in Ponyville?” Discord asked in surprise. “But I thought that you didn’t want to take risks like those. You were not happy after your first day in Ponyville.”

“I was sad about other things,” Statice explained without elaborating. “This time I am in a good mood and I want to enjoy the place a bit. I’ll just keep my distance from the Elements of Harmony and I’ll be good.”

“You do realize that what you’re going to do is impossible, right?” Discord gave him a questioning glance. “The girls have taken a liking to you so chances are that neither all nor one of them is going to leave you alone.”

“They will leave me alone if I decide to have a private moment with the other ponies in Ponyville,” Statice grinned as he used his Creepy Voice Spell on himself to mimic Aster’s voice.

“Are you sure about this?” Discord asked as he materialized the cloud that Statice needed for his reconnaissance across Ponyville.

“I am sure,” Statice declared as he changed his colors and then used his Race Shifting Spell to turn into a Pegasus. “They may mistrust Statice the unicorn, but they will love Aster the pegasus!”

It was just like he had predicted. Statice had a good time as Aster once he bonded with other ponies besides the Elements of Harmony. He avoided personal affiliations to them such as the Cakes, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and other close acquaintances. He had fun even when he was checking the area for any Element Bearer trying to get close to him. To his delight, none of the Elements interrupted his sessions.

The day ended positively for him as he finished it with some improvements to his Archive. He spent the next week visiting Ponyville as Aster, making new friends and updating his Archive. He didn’t realize that six ponies were closely watching him from afar and were having a private conversation about him in the castle.

“I’m telling you, girls, that I may have seen Aster in the past!” Pinkie banged her hoof on her throne. “I never forget a pony that I ever met and I feel like I’ve known him from way before the party!”

“I don’t think so, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight shook her head. “I didn’t see anything familiar in Aster.”

“But he’s been acting weird, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash looked at her intensely. “If I don’t recall, we haven’t seen him in Ponyville for a few days after his party and then he comes back and starts having friends. Something doesn’t fit right in this mess.”

“Humph,” Rarity lifted her head angrily. “I can see that there is something wrong with Aster. He never bothered to come back to Ponyville after his welcome party and then he just comes back after a few days and ignores us for even more days. Frankly, I don’t have a trouble with him making friends, but I do have a trouble with him seemingly avoiding us all of a sudden. There must be something that he must be hiding from us, but I’m not sure what it is.”

“Maybe he was replaced by some Changeling,” Applejack proposed, remembering how acting out of character was one of the keys to distinguish a Changeling from a real pony that they were pretending to be.

“I don’t think so,” Twilight shook her head in dismissal. “Our castle would have revealed if he was a Changeling trying to steal our love.”

The others smiled a little bit at Twilight when she referred to the castle as not only belonging to her and Spike, but to their friends as well. She may have become an alicorn princess, but it was clear that Twilight considered her friends to be as much royalty as she was.

“I think that he may be just shy,” Fluttershy suggested. She remembered how she moved to Ponyville and she was nervous about meeting somepony new, much less making a friend.

It had taken Pinkie Pie lots and lots of tries to obtain Fluttershy’s friendship, and even then it took the yellow pegasus a long period of waiting to get used to the pink earth pony. If it weren’t for Rainbow Dash’s assisting Pinkie Pie, nopony was sure on how long it would have taken Fluttershy to accept her pink friend.

“I don’t think that it's shyness,” Twilight observed. “I’ve noticed that he is hanging around many ponies around here.”

“Maybe he is a spy that will brainwash the town against you,” Rainbow Dash proposed, still undeterred from her suspicions.

“Ah suggest that we go meet him and try to talk with him,” Applejack proposed. “Ah can sense if he is tellin’ the truth or not. If he is lyin’ then we’ll know if he is hidin’ somethin’ from us. If he’s not then maybe we’re overthinkin’ this a little too much. Ah mean, think about it, we can’t expect everypony to just swarm around us like fruit bats on the orchard’s apples.”

She was met with a chorus of affirmatives.

"I guess you're right," Rarity sighed, mildly disappointed with herself for her suspicions. "Just because we're the Elements of Harmony doesn't mean that everypony that goes to Ponyville HAS to be our friend or spend time with us."

“Well then,” Twilight spread her wings. “It is time to meet with Aster and see if he is friend material.”

With that said, Twilight led her friends out of the castle and into Ponyville, getting ready to meet their new friend.

Statice had fun with Time Turner. For somepony whose special talent was working on clocks, Time Turner did know a lot about quantum physics. He didn’t remember or understand most of what he said. He wasn’t even sure if he was going to understand what he said even if he got a book with the terms that he used. Regardless, it felt nice to have a smart friend. He was sure that Digitalis was going to love hanging out with Time Turner with the way that they kept talking about science.

Working as a taste tester for Lyra and Bonbon was kind of cool. Some candies were a little too sweet for his liking, although he didn’t let that feeling interfere with his duties. He and Lyra talked about music and she even offered to give him some harp lessons if he so desired to take them. He accepted, as long as he figured how to use his wings to play the lyre, as he was not sure on his ability to perform it with hooves.
Vinyl Scratch was absent on Ponyville as she was busy visiting her friend Octavia, who had to leave Ponyville for a few days, in Canterlot. He got to play a few games of Air Frisbee with some pegasi that included Derpy, Flitter, Cloud Chaser, and Thunderlane. Unfortunately, he had to leave when Derpy accidentally threw the disc too hard and ended up hitting a travelling balloon. The pegasi had to fly full speed ahead in order to prevent the balloon from crashing to the ground. The speed at which they saved the ponies that were riding on the balloon impressed Statice. He could see now why some of them were considered Wonderbolts in training. They were faster than he was in dealing with the problem before he even had the chance to assist. Once the problem was corrected, the pegasi decided to drop their game and continue their day, leaving Statice with figuring out what he was supposed to do next.

Well, at least they didn’t call me a nuisance or a slowpoke for not being fast enough to help them. I gotta admit that these ponies are more friendly and heroic than I expected them to be.

His next target was the swimming pond. It was big and deep enough to practice his swimming and even play water sports if he brought the necessary tools for any game of his choice. Since he was a pegasus and brought nothing with him, Statice was going to suffice with just swimming.

“Let’s perfect this skill,” Statice told himself as he took a deep breath and threw himself into the pond. He moved his body to the left and to the right as he swung his forelegs to the side. He kept swimming until he felt an unpleasant feeling on his chest, the familiar sting of getting his lungs filled with water and needing air. He raised his head into the water’s surface, catching as much air as possible.

I hate this part!

One of Statice’s greatest shames was that he didn’t know how to swim perfectly. He was familiar with the motions, except that he had trouble with getting his face into the surface and breathing some air before sticking it back into the water and repeating the process in the other side. He had attempted to swim the proper way, but he always ended up sucking water through his mouth and nose, which resulted in him choking a little bit and ending with an unpleasant soreness on his throat that lasted a couple of minutes.

He missed his Air Bubble Spell and wished to be a unicorn again to cast it. He originally created the spell to work around his swimming weakness. By infusing the air bubbles that he released from his mouth and nose into the water with his magic, Statice was capable of fusing them into a single large bubble that he placed over his head to allow him to breathe underwater. He had tried to learn how to swim the correct way to avoid relying too much on the spell, but even when he strived to do it the challenge was still too much. The only reason why he was even practicing proper swimming technique was because he had no choice when it came to swimming. At least nopony was going to judge him on the way he swam…

“You call that swimming!” a raspy voice was heard from above. Statice raised his head to see Rainbow Dash flying on top of him. She was on her back, clutching her sides with her front hooves while kicking her hind hooves as she laughed. Surprisingly enough, she was flying in stationary position, flapping her wings with instinctive accuracy despite the rest of her body moving erratically.

“Have a heart, Rainbow Dash!” Rarity’s voice called out to chastise her prismatic friend. “The poor dear is having trouble with his swimming. He looks like he would have drowned at some point or another.”

Statice turned his head to see the rest of the Elements of Harmony at the edge of the pond. Rarity was wearing sunshades and was levitating a parasol with her. Pinkie Pie was carrying floaters with her and so did Fluttershy. Only Twilight, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were the only ponies that were not wearing anything.

“What are you girls doing here?” Statice asked in surprise.

Rainbow Dash flew downwards and slammed headfirst into the water, splashing Statice with the rain that she caused from her dive. She rose to the surface and grinned at him. “We were just going to have our swimming day and then we noticed you into the pool,” she smiled confidently.

Statice mentally kicked himself. Of all the times he decided to go swimming, he did it when the Elements were near him. Now he was going to need to avoid suspicion.

How the heck do I get out of the water the second six mares enter the pond without looking like a jerk or a wuss? What’s the point of having a crazy past like mine if I was not trained to handle this scenario?

Statice heard four more splashes, turning his head around to see the rest of the Elements of Harmony joining on the swimming session. Only Rarity remained on land as she covered herself with an umbrella and applying lotion to her body to avoid sunburns.

“Aren’t you gonna swim, Rarity?” Pinkie Pie asked at the white unicorn.

“Sorry, dear, but I don’t like getting wet unless necessary,” Rarity shook her head in polite refusal. “Besides, I think that the only swimming that we must focus on is on Aster’s technique.”

“What do you mean by that?” Statice asked at the critique.

“Your technique is sloppy, darling,” Rarity lowered her sunglasses to look at Statice. “I just arrived, but I noticed that when you swim you never bother to move your head to breathe air.”

“She is right,” Applejack nodded her head. “You may have swum, but ya didn’t do it right. Ya just hold yer air as long as you can and then take a breath to recover it. That’s not how swimmin’ is done.”

“You can say that again,” Rainbow Dash started swimming backstroke style. “You can’t win a race if you constantly need to stop to recover your air. You have to recover it with each stroke that you give.”

“I have some books about swimming that may help you,” Twilight smiled with glee at the idea of helping out a friend with her knowledge. “They detail the dynamics between the movements of your body against the surface of the water…”

“Let me handle this, Sugarcube,” Applejack interrupted her before she had the chance of giving a lecture. “Granny Smith was a swimmin’ champion and she taught me and my siblings some things about swimmin’…though Big Macintosh could use a refresher course every once in a while.”

The girls giggled at Applejack’s comment. They had visited Sweet Apple Acres many times before and they had seen that Big Macintosh was not the best swimmer as he used floaters to swim properly. His younger sisters and his grandmother were far better swimmers than he was.

“Ah’ll begin the lesson,” Applejack started by putting one hoof on Statice’s back and the other on his stomach, gently flipping him until he was floating on his stomach with his head up. “Raise a foreleg and gently push it on the water before pullin’ it as you sweep the other foreleg above yer head.”

I can't believe this is happening.

Despite his thoughts, Statice reluctantly did as she told him. He tried this practice many times in the past, but he failed miserably in all of his attempts. The only reason he was trying again was to cover his ruse now. It didn’t matter as he accomplished the first part quite easily.

“Now make sure to kick yer legs one after the other,” Applejack instructed him with the same gentleness an adult showed to a child.
Statice inwardly frowned at that instruction. Kicking one’s legs in the water was the most basic thing anypony did when swimming. He didn’t have much trouble with that.

“Now I want ya to breathe at the side yer hoof is pointing when you make the stroke,” Applejack gently cupped Statice’s chin to move his head to the left side when he moved his right foreleg. “If you’re pushing the water with yer right foreleg then breathe to the left so that the splashing water won’t hit ya. Then breathe to the right when you’re pushing with yer left foreleg.”

Statice did as he was told and was surprised that no water was splashing on his face when he did the motions. He was swimming more elegantly than he ever did before.

What the heck? I'm swimming just like I always do...so why am I doing it better than ever?

Applejack smiled in satisfaction at her student. “Now Ah’m going to let go of ya and I want you to swim the way I taught ya to swim, but slowly. You can’t just go all out after I taught ya something new. You have to do it slowly to make a rhythm and keep practicin’ at that rhythm until yer body gets used to the motions. By the time you’re done with yer practice, ya’ll be swimmin’ at full speed with no problem.”

Statice was going to say something to Applejack about her teachings, only to be interrupted when he was pushed forward by Applejack in an instant. He quickly did the swimming motions, but made sure to slow down on the alternating foreleg movement to keep himself afloat. He was surprised that he was advancing without getting water on his face. This has never happened to him before. By the time that he reached the edge of the pond, Statice was receiving praise from the girls.

“Nice job, Aster!” Pinkie Pie cheered from the other side of the pond. “Maybe I can throw you an ‘I learned How to Swim’ party after this.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Pinkie Pie,” Fluttershy gently chided her. “I don’t believe that he wants other ponies to know about his swimming problems. Besides, Applejack still has to teach him other strokes.”

And I’d rather not have anypony know that I didn’t know how to swim, thank you very much.

“You have other swimming styles to teach me?” Statice asked in disbelief.

“Granny Smith was a swimmin’ champion when she was young,” Applejack beamed with pride. “And she passed on her swimmin’ talents to Apple Bloom and me. In fact, even at her old age, Granny Smith is still a good swimmer. She and Apple Bloom won a synchronized swimmin’ contest a while back.”

“Wow,” Statice feigned ignorance. He was aware of the accomplishment from before, but that was still hard to believe. Granny Smith didn’t seem like the most athletic mare based on her looks. Then again, looks were deceptive, as Statice proved many times when he was a foal learning the trades of adventure.

The next hour was dedicated to learning everything Applejack was taught about swimming since her training began as a filly. He learned to swim doggy style, an obsolete method in Statice’s silent opinion, and was forced to race against Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, both of whom were masters of the style. He lost by a big margin, although this was mainly out of refusal to take such races seriously. He was taught professional techniques like the breast stroke, the backstroke, and the butterfly stroke. The breast stroke was the easiest to learn, but he sank on the water in mid-swimming when he practiced the backstroke. The butterfly stroke was alternating between starting well at first only to end bad when he somehow sucked water through his mouth and nose instead of air.

Despite the many setbacks in the lessons, Statice was having fun with his swimming lessons. Not only had he mastered the freestyle swimming, but he was advancing in other techniques as well. Granted, he only needed to learn freestyle, but he also wanted to learn the other strokes for the sake of a competitive sport rather than the pressure of a lifesaving skill.

“Let’s practice yer backstroke a bit,” Applejack smiled gently as she took Statice’s hooves with her own. Statice blushed at the gesture, still not used to a pretty female touching him. Those emerald eyes of hers were captivating him to do as she said.

Stupid late puberty hormones!

“Yes,” Statice nodded his head instinctively before gasping. He felt Applejack’s hind hooves on his stomach, anticipating a kick in the gut. His body still remembered how much of a wallop Applejack packed in those hooves. His mind was racing, wondering what he did wrong to deserve her wrath before Applejack spoke again.

This is gonna hurt…

“I’m gonna push ya away from me so lean on yer back and start swimmin' once we’re separated,” she instructed him with a firm yet confident smile.

…Or perhaps not…

“Yes,” Statice sighed, mainly out of relief that he was not going to get kicked in the stomach again. He still remembered how hard she bucked and didn’t want to be in the receiving end of it again.

Applejack gently pushed him with her hind legs, leaving the former unicorn to slightly lean on his back as he waved his forelegs backwards. Much to his surprise, Rainbow Dash was joining him on the swim.

“Do you need any help?” Rainbow Dash gave him a smug yet relaxed smirk. She was easily keeping up with Statice, not even paying attention to her surroundings.

“I’m good,” Statice answered, feeling annoyed at her skill. “Why are you swimming next to me? Weren’t you supposed to be playing with your friends?”

“I wanted to talk to you a bit,” Rainbow Dash replied. “You’re one of the few athletes that I know in Ponyville.”

“Don’t you have fellow pegasi that are athletes?” Statice asked her with a raised eyebrow. Rainbow Dash was kind of a celebrity in Ponyville, more out of her skill as a flier than as the Element of Loyalty. Hearing her say that she didn’t hang out with fellow athletes sounded wrong to him.

“Yes,” Rainbow Dash nodded her head as she stopped swimming. “But they all have their own personal lives. My life revolves around training to join the Wonderbolts and spending time with my friends, so I don’t hang out much around other athletes.”

I guess you can't compete with others when you're focusing on your dream career or hanging out with your friends. Doesn't look like a major loss though.

“I see,” Statice commented as he stopped swimming. The air around them grew tense as Statice had no more things to say. He decided to improvise.

“Your backstroke is excellent.”

“Thanks,” Rainbow Dash calmly rubbed a hoof against her chest. “I do tend to occasionally practice it when I’m flying. Regardless of whether I fly or swim, the technique easily transfers to them.”

“Neat,” Statice complimented her. He decided to change his opinion on her based on the fact that she mentioned. It was very interesting for him to hear her talk like that.

“Hey, the lesson is not yet over!” Applejack bellowed at them in annoyance. “Lean on yer back and keep swimmin’, Aster!”

“I gotta go,” Statice smiled at the prismatic pony before doing as he was told. He spent half an hour practicing his backstroke with Applejack and Rainbow Dash supervising him and occasionally joining him. Rarity was watching them swim and she did not appear to have anything against Statice swimming with two of her friends. The remaining Elements of Harmony were busy playing a game of Marco Polo that Pinkie Pie suggested when she realized that most of her friends were going to be too busy to play, so she needed to adjust her game choices to those that required few players. Twilight and Fluttershy agreed to play with her, only for the former to eventually get tired of it while the latter was happy to engage in a fun game that wasn’t dangerous forher.

Eventually, all six ponies were out of the water with Rarity providing them with fashionable drying towels. “I made these for you while you were busy,” she told her friends as she gave them towels that matched their colors. The towel that she gave Statice was blue with some white stars on it.

“How did you…?” Statice asked in surprise before Rarity lifted a hoof at him.

“I made them while you were busy swimming, Aster,” she lifted her head with dignified air. “You don’t need to thank me. Providing somepony with help is the duty of a friend.”

“You truly are the most generous pony I’ve ever met,” Statice thanked her with genuine gratitude. His comment was also filled with admiration at her for making personal towels without him noticing. That was indeed impressive.

She sure knows how to make the best out of her free time.

“Oh, thank you,” Rarity blushed at the praise. More than her looks, she loved to be complimented for her generous spirit.

“You’re welcome,” Statice nodded at her. “I gotta go back to my home.”

“Wait!” Pinkie Pie cut the distance between him and her. She wasn’t smiling like she normally did, indicating that there was something wrong. “I need to ask you something before you leave.”

“What is it, Pinkie Pie?” Statice asked her.

“Have we met before?” Pinkie Pie asked, looking at him with uncertainty. Statice froze upon hearing the question.

“A few days ago on a party,” Statice nervously joked.

It got Pinkie Pie and her friends to laugh, albeit only for a few seconds. “I’m serious though, have we met before?” Pinkie Pie pressed in a little uncertainly. “Because I feel like I met you before. I just can’t figure out where?”

“Do you recall meeting a pegasus like me before?” Statice asked her quickly, barely keeping an even tone of voice. Always ask a question to counter a question. That was a trade secret he learned to avoid confrontations.

“No,” Pinkie Pie shook her head. “But there is something familiar about you. I can’t help but thinking of somepony else when I am with you. I just can’t think of who he was yet.”

“You’ll figure it out,” Statice reassured her with a pat on the head.

The pink pony gave a squeaky sounding smile before hugging him. “You’re right!” she cheered. “Maybe I’ll get to meet him later. I think that you’ll probably like each other if I ever find out who he is.”

Statice grimaced at Pinkie’s statement. He didn’t want to imagine her reaction if she ever found out that he and Aster were the same pony all along.

He said goodbye to the girls before he left again. Each of them gave him her own special goodbye that showed a bit of her personality.

“If you need help with your swimming performance just call me,” Twilight suggested as she materialized a quill and parchment. “We can make graphs and tables that can compare your swimming performances across different days.”

“If you want more swimmin’ lessons then go to Sweet Apple Acres,” Applejack patted Statice’s back roughly, albeit in a friendly manner. “Ya’ll find me there in no time. If Ah’m not available then ask Granny. She is a far better swimmer than Ah despite her old age.”

“Uh, maybe we can have a doggy style swimming race the next time we meet at the pond,” Fluttershy avoided her gaze to not look at him in the face. “If that is what you wish, then I will be happy to participate in some water games with you.”

“Try not to push yourself, Aster,” Rarity advised him. “You have all the time in the world to master the skill.”

“Work on your technique, Aster!” Rainbow Dash more or less ordered him. “I want to see how well you fare against me in water sports!”

“Bye, Aster!” Pinkie Pie hugged Statice. “I got to go find your clone, or is it your twin? It doesn’t matter. I’ll call you when I make some progress!”

Statice watched the six leave, feeling safe and happy that they didn’t figure out his identity despite the time that they spent together. Now was the time for him to leave undetected.

He called out for Discord once he was away from them and had him teleport him back into his lair. The draconequus leaned on the unicorn’s shoulder despite the size difference and started questioning him.

“How did you do?” he asked excitingly as he gave Statice the cloud that he needed to recover his original form.

“I did fine,” Statice answered, back to his unicorn form, but still conserving Aster’s voice and colors. “I engaged in social interactions and then I had some swimming lessons from Applejack.”

Discord burst into laughter at the last part, much to Statice’s ire. “You don’t know how to swim?” he asked in disbelief. “How can that be? You were an adventurer. I’m sure that swimming is something you must actually learn.”

“I can swim!” Statice defended himself before blushing in embarrassment at his previous attempts without Applejack’s instructions. “I was just not familiar with the professional method.”

“I can see that,” Discord grinned from ear to ear. “Did you drown and needed Applejack or somepony else to give you mouth to mouth resuscitation?”

“Get your mind out of the gutter!” Statice snapped at the draconequus when he caught him wiggling his eyebrows at him. “I didn’t drown or anything. Applejack taught me everything she was taught by Granny Smith.”

“Say whatever makes you sleep at night,” Discord smiled teasingly as he disappeared with a finger snap.

“I wonder if it was worth having him back as my friend,” Statice mumbled in annoyance now with his original appearance and voice.

He updated his journal with the ponies that he interacted with throughout the day. His greatest addition was to Applejack’s page that highlighted her swimming skill. Feeling satisfied, Statice created a page that focused on everything that her learned about swimming for later references

“It was a fine day,” Statice reminded himself with a smile. “Maybe the next one won’t be so bad.”

The mysterious stranger perched himself on top of the Everfree Forest. He had found his prey. He was sure that he was going to catch Statice based on the scent that he had tracked for months now. The familiar stench of darkness inhabited a spot of the so called Everfree Forest.

“I found you, Statice,” he said, feeling the need to follow the darkness and have his revenge. The only thing that was stopping him from going after the unicorn was the fatigue of flying for hours finally catching up to him. He was tired and he wanted to sleep. Even when he was filled by vengeance and hatred he knew better than to overtax his body when it was at its limit.

“Consider yourself lucky, kid,” he grumbled in the dark, perching on the highest branch of one of the tallest trees. I promise that tomorrow you are going to suffer the same way that I did.”

He stared into the horizon, where the darkness was resting. He positioned his body so that it was pointing at the source of darkness. It was just like his fellow griffins said in class: the early griffin gets the meat. To make matters worse, this griffin had badly desired this type of meat for a long time.

Late in the night, Statice woke up with a gasp. He was not the type of pony to have nightmares. In fact, he’d rather have nightmares than what he had. In the case of some unicorns, nightmares were premonitions of bad things to happen or signals of inner turmoil that were negatively affecting their magic. They were horrible, but they at least gave the dreamers hints on how to get rid of them or at least warned them of a future reality that had the potential of being avoided. Statice, however, did not have nightmare. He had a night terror.

Just like nightmares, night terrors were signals of ill omens for unicorns. Unlike nightmares, night terrors didn’t come with images that warned the dreamers of future misfortunes. They just filled them with fear and paranoia at what the future had in store for them. There was no way to predict what catastrophe was bound to happen in the next day or a posterior date. All that the unicorns confirmed was that something bad was going to happen and that there was nothing in their power that was to be done to stop them.

Night terrors were not common in Equestria, to the point on which their prophetic events were disregarded as just nightmares whose contents were forgotten by the dreamers in response to stress. Even Statice disbelieved them when he first started having them on his adventures. He later learned how wrong he was when every time that he had a night terror a new horror was awaiting for him in the future.
“Calm down!” he chastised himself. “You’re safe now! You no longer have adventures. You’re no longer risking your life for money. You may have some minor problems with the law but that is not important. You’re retired and trying to make a new life. Nothing bad is going to happen. You’re no longer a defenseless colt. You can use your magic and you have a draconequus as an ally. You’ll be safe.”

A part of him told him that he was lying to himself. Another part of him told him to stop worrying and to go back inside his head to make a choice. More parts of him started to give different opinions on how to handle the situation. Eventually, they all came to the same conclusion as Statice carried out the sentence that they placed on him.

He closed his eyes but he didn’t get to sleep. He just kept his eyes closed for the rest of the night. The familiar fear of the unknown kept him awake and, for all the things that came into his mind, afraid.

All that remained for him was to pray to the stars that nothing bad was going to happen to him tomorrow or the following day…or preferably never. As cowardly as it sounded, he didn’t want to be brave or strong anymore. All that he cared about was to rest in peace for the first time in years. It was a desire that was going to take a lot of time for it to take place…even in the peaceful land of Equestria.

Author's Note:

And Statice has finally made peace with Discord. Meanwhile, it appears that Ponyville has made an impact on him as his escapades as Aster showed him the best side of ponykind in the most friendly and heroic town of Equestria. In the meantime, the Mane Six start to notice sometime peculiar about Aster while Statice is being hounded by a mysterious assailant. We shall see more of it in the next chapter of the story.

Euphoria Spell: The "happy time" spell designed to help Statice deal with the high stress of his former life. This spell makes everything look and sound funny. It is the equivalent to getting drunk or drugged. Common side effects include slurred speech, mild insanity, hallucinations, stupidity, and the user doing or saying stuff that will embarrass him once the effects of the spell run off. Statice only uses the spell when he's incredibly depressed.

Air Bubble Spell: A survival spell developed for underwater adventures. The user will use air bubbles from his nose and mouth and combine them with his magic to form a large air bubble that will resemble an austronaut's helmet. This air bubble is powerful enough to last in the underwater pressure and has enough oxygen to allow the user to remain underwater for several minutes, provided he can keep the spell for as long as possible.