• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 4,538 Views, 141 Comments

The Dragonfly Effect - Ichiro Sato

When Spike went to bed, he was a 162 year old dragon, war veteran, twice widower, and living on the outskirts of Ponyville. This morning, he wakes up to a voice he hadn't heard in decades on the eve of the 1000th Summer Sun Celebration.

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Chapter 1: History Repeating

“My mother would tell me my blood father was a good stallion who died in the war, who gave his life to defend my future. But to me, all my father was stories and old war trinkets, an empty idol I couldn’t relate to. I felt my father, my real father, was the dragon who actually came home. The dragon who taught me almost everything I knew from breaking to building, from winning a fight to winning the mare. He only called me ‘stepson’ but I knew his love was real.”
-The Memoirs of Professor Vanguard

Every morning for nearly the past sixty years, Spike began his morning with a simple ritual. One that was passed to him from royalty itself: a checklist

“Dry mouth.” He began with a small thing that had been with him since he was born, a chronic problem for dragons of any age and the price of breathing fire.

“Bad breath.” He continued, something else that had always been a problem, but only grew worse as his venom glands developed. “Actually, not so bad this morning.” Spike added as he sniffed his breath.

“Creaking joints.” A crime for a dragon as young as him to have, but that’s what a boy gets for fighting a grown up’s war when he could barely call himself a whelp. He stretched and noted once again “Also not so bad today.”

“Blurred vision.” He finally opened his eyes, his home a whitish and gold smear in his normally sharp gaze. Mornings did that for everything and everyone.

“Twilight’s spot cold.” The last piece was noted ruefully as his hand swept across an empty spot on the massive bed. And instead touched cold stone.

After several seconds of silence, Spike noticed other things wrong; he didn’t feel the metals or gems poking him lightly while shifting in that almost massaging way, his bed was also much to small not to mention made from wicker and blankets. His body felt off somehow, in a way he couldn’t explain, but weaker, he was certainly weaker.

Delaying no longer, the dragon fully roused himself from his bed of sheets, blankets, wicker, and asbestos. As his vision came into view, he was greeted not by the earthen walls of his home just outside of Ponyville, but instead a familiar alabaster marble with radiant gold trims.

“Canterlot…” Spike muttered aloud with another sweep he caught glimpse of the thousands of shelves he recalled too well. “The library it seems, and…” He blinked at the shelving system. “Someone’s been remodeling despite Twilight’s last will and testament.” He grumbled and began untangling himself from his small sheets. “When I get my claws on whoever did this, I am going to feed them my mercury pie.” Or at least that’s what Spike had intended to say, instead, his claws did not touch ground when he had expected them too, his center of gravity felt shifted, and the blankets were still caught on his hind talons, resulting on the dragon yelping and tumbling off a second story balcony, and landing splat onto ground floor with a heavy thud.

“Spike?” A new voice called that made the purple dragon’s heart stop and throat clench.

Or rather it was an old voice, a familiar voice, and a comforting one. “Spike?” She called again, the light tapping of her hooves resonating through the library. “If you’re finally awake, I need you to help me find an old copy of Predictions and Prophecies!”

As Spike struggled with his own bedding, his mind raced with possibilities while his eyes began to shimmer and vision blur. “Did I die in my sleep?” He thought. “Maybe I’m hallucinating again. Or dreaming. Dreaming’s pretty likely.” He began to speak to himself out loud.

“Was that you just now?” Twilight’s voice called to him.

Finally, he untangled himself from the wicker and linen prison while considering a new hypothesis. “Maybe, just maybe I’m trapped in some kind of illusion. Like with Sombra’s door? I don’t know who or what would do this but I have to be cautious…”

“Spike? I can hear you talking. Are you talking to yourself?” The hoof falls were coming closer now, ready to round a corner.

“Spike, whatever you do right now, you must resist this illusion and not say a thing back.” He harshly told himself just in time to see a dead unicorn turn to face him with a scowl.

“There you are, Spike! Come on, i’ve needed your help for three minutes and fifty one second-” Twilight was suddenly cut off by her assistant rushing at her, arms open and then wrapping her into a tight hug, sobbing.

“You had one job, Spike!” He mentally chided himself as he went to his knees.

It was a job Twilight seemed willing to do for him as she awkwardly pushed him away. “Uhhh… I’d love to help you through whatever dragon thing you’re going through right now…” Twilight said uneasily and backing away. “But I need to find that book. I’m sorry but I don’t have time for this sort of thing!” Twilight then turned and galloped away, as Spike watched her go, he noticed something about his no-longer-late-wife.

Her royal regalia (and other clothes for that matter) were gone, as were her wings.

A chance glimpse at a reflective surface, and Spike saw a version of himself he had not seen in over a century and a half.

On seeing this, Spike did the logical thing, and slap his palms to the sides his face, and scream at the top of his lungs.

“Spike, would you be quiet? I’m trying to find Predictions and Prophecies- Ah! I found it-! No, nevermind, it’s third edition.” The unicorn grumbled and tossed the book aside, accidentally beaning her panicked assistant in the face.

Which worked to the benefit of both as the mild concussion quieted Spike down, and curiously, allowed him to think clearer. After a moment dodging more books and working out his situation, Spike hesitantly asked: “Twilight, why do you need the first edition copy of Predictions and Prophecies?”

The lavender unicorn finally paused from her frantic search and looked to her draconic assistant. “I’m trying to research the Elements of Harmony. From the legend of the Two Princesses.” Followed by the return of her search with rapidly muttered ‘no’s.

Deciding to go along with this, Spike shrugged and walked over to the index drawer, mentally smiling at the feel of the old system at his fingertips compared to the cold touch of digital search catalogues. He also considered complimenting whoever arranged this illusion for their accuracy, assuming it wasn’t a dream or bout of insanity. “Does it occur to you to look through the catalogue first instead of tearing the place up?” He asked and quickly pulled out the correlating card.

Twilight paused once more, her look said everything, ‘Spike, you don’t talk like that’, but any vocalization of this died in her throat and she went back to searching. “Yeah, well, you do that. I’m going to use the algorithm metho-”

“Right here!” Spike said with a small smirk at his friend’s impatience while standing right beneath her on the ladder. “Catch!” He called and tossed it up a short distance where a magical aura enveloped it and pulled up to Twilight’s side where she checked to make sure it was the right edition.

She didn’t even wait to get off the ladder before opening the book and reading. “Elements… Elements…”

As Twilight Sparkle flipped through the pages, Spike considered his possible situation and decided if he was to narrow down if he was being tricked, he would have to resort to a, near literally, dirty trick from his and Twilight’s marriage. Exploiting a dark weakness in Twilight’s mental defenses which he remembered very well for unleashing the entirety of her libido.

Clearing his throat multiple times in succession, promptly Twilight to stop, look at him, and glare. “Spike, do you need a cough drop?”

Smiling and bracing for the potential outcomes, he replied: “Oh, no, I was just trying to get my head in working order to remember something.”

“And that would be?”

He swept forward, intimately close, leaned into her ear and whispered something at a perfect pitch as he had decades ago but knew could affect Twilight even now.

When he pulled back, Twilight’s face was beet red, her breath was short, ears perked, and many other familiar signs.

And then she smashed the dragon’s face in with a book. “Yo-You little pervert!” She shouted with breathless accusation. “If you’re not going to- If you’re not going help then you can get out of here!” She stuttered and swatted the dragon’s tail to rush him out of the library.

He could barely suppress his grin. “C’mon, Twilight!” He said without even trying to really placate her. “It’s just a little math brainteaser!”

“GET OUT!” Twilight screamed, nearly tore off the door of the library, and tossed him out into Canterlot.

When the doors slammed shut, Spike grumbled a bit at his lack of resilience or pain tolerance compared to his older self. Pulling himself off the smooth marble steps, he looked around and gawked. He had seen Canterlot before, he lived here, multiple times even. But he had forgotten how much the city had changed.

The towers were shorter, no highways spiralling between the buildings, no neon lights, no preserved wrecks of historical buildings, no special landing pads for airships (which was really strange). Just ivory towers of gold and purple and narrow, winding streets of cobblestone, and ponies, just ponies.

Ponies that stared at him with a leery look or wary glance as though he would turn into a killing machine at a moment’s notice. Spike then recalled that once birthday and realized that really was the case.

He then went back to his task at hand, namely understanding the situation. Twilight felt so real, everything did. But he had seen illusions that could fool even the most iron willed and clever individuals, while no one else knew about Twilight’s ‘on switch’, except for maybe the late Flash Sentry, or the details of Canterlot’s library and cataloguing system so clearly, whoever cast the illusion could be building off his memories, layered with historical data, and perhaps even tapping into the Akashic records.

“Which… Sounds a bit out there.” He commented to himself out loud, making the passing ponies even more leery. “I’m highly resistant to magic and drugging, but not wholly immune. Still, my head feels way too clear to be any of that, or for all this to be a dream or madness… The alternative is-” Before he could vocalize his thoughts, the door to the library flew open, followed by Spike feeling a tug on his tail that sharply pulled him to the feet, or hooves of his ‘caretaker’ who passed him a quill and parchment.

“Take a note, please.” The words were familiar, the reaction instant, a conditioned response in both body and mind even at this age. Spike was up and on his feet, the parchement unfurled and the quill inked before Twilight had even finished. “And please, be serious this time.” She chastied with a blush on her face.

Spike just nodded and listened intently. “Good, now, to the Princess.” An alarming case of Deja Vu was beginning to set into the dragon’s mind, memories over a hundred years old began to lose the fog of ages shrouding them. “My dearest teacher,” Twilight began to pace. “My continuing research of pony magic have led me to the revelation that we are on the threshold of disaster.”

Alarms went off and bells were rung in the dragon’s head that made him look up from his handwriting and gape. “Wait, what was that?” He asked stupefied.

“I said I have been led to discover that were are on the precipice of disaster. You know? Something really bad happening?” Twilight echoed with some frustration. She watched Spike nod slowly and continue before she resumed her own pacing. “For you see, the mythical Mare in the Moon is, in fact, Nightmare Moon-” She screeched to a halt and winced at the sound of tearing parchment. “Spike! Did you just ruin the letter? Time is of the essence, don’t you know?”

And Spike stood there, a thousand yard stare in his eyes as the memories came back full force. “Yes, Twilight…” He said flatly. “I know very well…” Shaking himself out of it, he pulled his pen from the hole in the paper. “Look, it’s a small tear, okay, just keep going.”

Sighing, the unicorn scholar resumed. “Where was I? Ah, yes. Nightmare Moon is on the eve of her return to Equestria to bring about eternal darkness. We must act to ensure this prophecy does not come to fruition! I await your quick response. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.” She finished staring out at the Canterlot skyline. “Got all that?” She asked just in time to see a wisp of green flame.

“Y-yeah.” Spike nodded. “And already sent.”

“Good, now I’m certain Princess Celestia will act swiftly and decisively. I want to know what the hay’s been going on with you.” Twilight asked.

Spike ‘umm’d and ‘uhhh’d for a good several moments as he attempted to figure out how to word an answer. In his mind he went over his memories of what each of his old friends would do. It didn’t help in the least.

“Well?” Twilight asked with a bit of growing impatience that made Spike wince briefly before staring right back. He had forgotten just what a pain Twilight had been in the early years, it was remarkable to imagine such an impatience, abrasive shut-in would become The Princess of Friendship one day.

Unless… He changed the future by telling her.

“Spike, I asked you a question, would you at least pretend you’re listening?”

Before Spike could retort, he felt a familiar welling of smoke and rotten eggs, followed by a small burp that produce a gout of flame which reconstructed the response from carbonized ashed into paper and midnight ink with a red ribbon and the royal seal.

“See? Swift and decisive.” Twilight smiled, forgotting their line of conversation and snatching the scroll away with her magic than letting her assistant read it to her this time.

Inwardly, Spike recalled Twilight, his Twilight (and hopefully this one) mentioning something she called The Butterfly Effect, a theoretical possibility, and potential reason for the impossibility of time travel (this was well before encountering her future self), that the world is made up of so many variables and so few constants (which can even shift into variables), of causes and effects that even something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings a different way could cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. While no doubt an exaggeration, it filled the dragon with dread.

If he was in the past, if history was repeating, would it repeat as he recalled? He considered the thousands of variables that made up their time and history together, the dumb and contrived coincidences that saw them through or redefined a relationship, the close brushes with tragedy. As he thought back on it all, for laughter and tears, for loss and gain, he would never want to change history, nor rob his friends or the world of the history that made it as he remembered.

How much had changed just by his actions this morning alone? Would Celestia decide to genuinely not act? Would she delay the celebration? Would she deal with matters herself?

“ARGH!” A frustrated growl from Twilight said otherwise, and for now, Spike was filled with relief. “Why is she sending me to some backwater, bumpkin, boondock hole?!”

Very relieved.