• Published 12th Oct 2015
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A Pony Displaced: Another Path - NoLongerSober

Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. There once was a stallion who faced Nightmare Moon and was sealed away with her. Now he returns in the modern age, hoping to find a new path.

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Chapter 45

Winter Gem tiredly ran a forehoof across her forehead before stepping out of the tent and falling onto her flanks. Surprisingly, there weren’t many particularly serious injuries to speak of, save those of the ponies in the cellar. The worst of it was a few broken bones that were easy enough to splint and bandage.

“Are you okay?”

Winter Gem tensed slightly as a soft voice spoke from next to her, but managed to keep her composure as she turned to stare at the quiet yellow pegasus.

“I am fine.” Winter Gem stated plainly as she turned back to the city, staring at the crystal ponies, many of whom appeared to be in far better spirits than when she and Fluttershy had started. “No, that is a lie.” Winter Gem stated with a sigh. “I am not fine. I’m scared.”

Fluttershy just nodded, despite that Winter Gem wasn’t looking at her.

“Everything I ever knew has been ripped out from beneath me and changed drastically before being shoved back into place…and I can’t think of any of it. All I can think of is that damned argument I had with my cousin and father. Twas the last time we saw each other.”

Fluttershy hummed softly to show she was listening, but didn’t speak, instead observing the ponies as they passed.

“I called them both fools.” Winter Gem sighed. “Told them that their efforts would fail and that they would drag our family name down with them.”

“Um,” Fluttershy turned to face Winter Gem who continued to look away. “What was the argument about? Um… that is if you don’t mind telling me that is.”

The snow-white mare thought for a moment before shrugging. “My cousin and father had decided that the family should become farmers. They wanted to give up the family tradition of joining the military.”

The two sat in silence for a short moment before Winter Gem continued. “Lady Applejack…based on what she said whilst we were grappling, is a member of the Apple family, correct?”

“Um, yes?” Fluttershy turned her head to face Winter Gem in curiosity at the change in subject,

“Tell me,” Winter Gem kept her gaze away from the yellow pegasus. “What dost she do for a living? What is her family most known for in your opinion?”

“Oh, she runs Sweet Apple Acres, a wonderful farm in Ponyville. Her family’s known as some of the greatest farmers in…” Fluttershy fell silent as her mind connected the dots.

“Not only did I berate them and call them fools…” Winter Gem shifted her cloak to reveal her cutie mark, a bright-red apple, “they were right.”

“Um…” Fluttershy began as hesitantly as ever, “pardon my asking, but if you aren’t a farmer, why is your cutie mark an apple?”

“Our family owned a small apple orchard. Nothing on a noteworthy scale, just big enough to keep us fed. Most all of us had apple-related cutie marks. Braeburn and father wanted to expand the orchard, to make a living out of it. To me, they were throwing away countless generations of tradition and financial security; I loathed them for it, but now it seems they were safeguarding our family’s future. ”

“I see.” Fluttershy said softly, waiting for Winter Gem to continue.

“I suppose I’ll have to apologize to Lady Applejack when I see her again. Still, I’ve no doubt most of the Apple family will want nothing to do with me.”

“Of course they will,” Fluttershy managed to draw Winter Gem’s gaze with the statement, “The Apples hold family in the absolute highest regard. They’ll be ecstatic to meet you.”

“I sincerely doubt that. I’m not a farmer, Lady Fluttershy. Not even a little. My whole life has been the Royal Guard. To add to that, I attacked Applejack…and would have killed her if the order had been given…”

Fluttershy winced and drew back in surprise at how matter-of-factly Winter Gem had stated that.

“The last things I ever said to my family…to the family I knew, was nothing but insults and shaming.” Winter Gem’s eyes began to leak, though her tone didn’t shift in the slightest. “I feel like I betrayed my family. Family was everything to us, and I spat on that because it was something I did-” Winter Gem was cut off when Fluttershy pulled her into a hug.

“Stop thinking like that.” Fluttershy carefully stroked Winter Gem’s withers. “Everypony makes mistakes and gets into arguments with their families, but that doesn’t change anything. They’re still family and they’ll still love you.” Fluttershy pulled out of the hug and put her hoof to Winter Gem’s chin, tilting the mare’s head upward so they could meet eyes. “I know Applejack very well, and I know that once she finds out you’re an Apple that she’ll pull you into a great big hug and invite you to come home with her. Trust me.” Fluttershy maintained the stare for several more seconds until releasing Winter Gem’s chin and settling into an awkward silence for Fluttershy and a stunned silence for Winter Gem.

Finally, Winter Gem seemed to reclaim herself. “That was…surprisingly assertive. I fear I may have misjudged you, Lady Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy eeped slightly and shrunk down a bit, before explaining. “Normally I’m not, but today…I guess I’m just out of sorts. So much has happened and I just said what I thought. I’m terribly sorry if I upset you, it’s just…I’m upset because… I’m a killer now… I feel all… wrong inside”

Winter Gem frowned. “A killer? How so?”

Fluttershy responded with little more than a whisper, Winter Gem drawing closer to catch the statement. “I helped blast Sombra with the elements…I just don’t know why it all had to happen…”

“I do not know.” Winter answered honestly. “The captain seemed to think it wouldst not kill him. Though, from what little I know of him, he would have much prefered to die a sane pony than live as the monster he had become.”

“That…doesn’t really make me feel better.” Fluttershy sighed.

“Then maybe they will.” It was Winter Gem’s turn to put a hoof on Fluttershy’s chin and pull her gaze up, directing her to the ponies milling about, some of them having just been treated by the pair. “Look at them all, Lady Fluttershy. They’re all alive thanks to you and your friends. They no longer have to live in constant fear because of your part in removing Sombra from power. Thou helped make this possible, gave them a future.”

“I… Thank you… That does help me feel… well, a little better.”

“Fluttershy, look out!” Twilight’s voice shouted out.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she turned to the familiar voice, eyes fixating on a glowing stone as it soared towards her. Awkwardly reaching out, Fluttershy managed to snag the stone and fumble it several times in her hooves before finally securing her grip on it, just as the stone stopped glowing. “Oh my, did I break it?” Fluttershy asked nervously as Twilight approached, receiving a silent nod from Winter Gem.

“Um…” Twilight took the stone in her magic and deposited in on a nearby stand that somepony was setting up for the festival. “Well…I’ll explain why it stopped glowing later. Barrier and I need to go break the hard news to his sergeant.”

Winter Gem inhaled sharply. “Good luck, Captain.”

Author's Note:

With the end of the story drawing so near, Alticron and I have decided to include various pictures {provided courtesy of slave #1 Alticron.} of ponies we've mentioned or that had a role but I was too lazy to really describe. With that said, I give you the first of...I don't know how many yet.

Barrier's team from 1k years ago, as seen {or not} in the prologue: Wing Clippers
UPDATE: Refined picture by our resident Chicken Master Alticron.

Also, Monday chapters again w/ a min. of 2000 words! Huzzah!

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